Monday, May 31, 2010

Party Sketches

Oh how glorious to have a day off! I have been busy catching up on various projects and gardening today, but also doing some prep. Friday my nephew Corino is graduating from Servite High School, and of course we are going to celebrate with a big dinner. Make that, we are going to celebrate with the dinner that Andrea will make for us. No worries, I will enlist the nieces to come over early to sous-chef for me.

I decided to buy as much of the produce as I could yesterday at the market, and make my menu around what was fresh and seasonal. Here is what I found at the Rancho Santa Fe market:

A dozen peaches (to roast), 3 bunches of basil, 3 pounds of fava beans, 10 tomatoes, 4 bunches of yellow carrots (they are sweet and warm yellow when peeled), and 4 bunches of rainbow beets.
then: two produce bags of tiny squash, a big bag of mixed greens, a small bag of wild arugula, 2 heads of marvelous frisee and a big bag of squash and tiny green beans:
A slab of Porcini butter, king Oyster mushrooms, a freebie cluster of buttony-mushrooms, and a set of filled mushroom caps that will be eaten shortly by Mom because she loves them...
Everything I bought was freshly picked and grown by organic growers in San Diego county except Maggie's Greens from Agoura Hills and Oak Hill Farms' peaches from the Fresno area. All of that fit in a medium St. Tropez in natural (I stock this but it's not on the website),
and a medium St. Remy, with the beet and carrot tops out the side:
I got to thinking later in the day, what would I do for the dinner?...not a "theme" exactly, but I like consistency and an ambiance. We will be 22+, which means we will eat outside under the loggia, where I still have the three 6' tables from the girls' parties a month or so ago:
Then I went to the basement, and found this, in my stash:
A four litre (!) bottle of 1999 Italian red wine from Trader Joe's that's been tucked away for 10 years. It came in a great wooden case, and was something ridiculous, like $25. I hope Age has been kind to an inexpensive Italian table wine! I think it will be great as a conversation piece and will also to set the tone for a summery Italian paysan/paisano/paesano style meal al fresco; this will be fine for Corino as he's a boy and won't want anything fancy. My family motors through a lot of wine, too, and so this helps my budget; keeping my fingers crossed that it is ok... the bottle looks fantastic, but maybe the wooden case helped that.

Taking a cue from the red wax seal of the bottle, I decided to go with the slate linen napkins that I had made for the Romantic Homes puppy party last November; cheap linen yardage that I pinked instead of sewing; they frayed nicely after washing; tied up with chubby red ribbon from Christmas and a sprig of rosemary; this was my mock-up:
$1 a yard white cotton yardage went under a single piece of burlap that runs the length of the table; I was happy with the lineup of napkins and bows:
I think I'll do a single run of greenery and candles down the length of the table and I scouted out my greens with a quick run around the garden: the ivy can use a haircut:
There is lots of rosemary in the garden; I'll do rosemary potatoes so this will be nice on the table too:
and the red trumpet vine will do very well too, though I might use the vines and not the flowers; it all has to be cut right before the guests arrive; good thing the girls will be here to help me;
I almost forgot, jasmine will add fragrance and delicacy to the table;
I have a few stops to make this week for food shopping, but I'm feeling ok about pulling everything together Friday night. Check back this week as the party develops...Wishing everyone a lovely Memorial Day....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Sunday

I was in Rancho Santa Fe today, which as I mentioned is in a tony enclave in northern San Diego. I am going to post tomorrow on the produce I found, which was my objective for the day (besides selling well, of course!). I am hosting a dinner for 22+ next Friday for my nephew's high school graduation so I decided to create a menu around what was available today. More on the dinner tomorrow.

Today I will keep it short with a little photo tour; I brought Biscuit, who is a bit of the darling of the market; I dressed her for the day to set the tone; Good Dog Biscuit; she later did her sit-ups for Blueberries; she is an all-eater: carrots, blueberries and fava bean shells today.
I had the booth done up as yesterday with the bunting, and gave out a ton of flags, though the San Diego kiddies were much more reserved than Orange County; no meltdowns and no good photo ops. Raquel is our market manager, and a very stylish one at that! Orange stripe tank and an accessory Biscuit! She has her own JRT, Lucy, but Lucy doesn't come to work because she is a little more energetic;
Anne is Raquel's right hand, and she is a huge help to me and to the other vendors. This is her friend Kathy & husband; I had to get a pic of them and the blue Antibes they bought today; the basket was a perfect fit for them as a couple (they "live in jeans"). This is the small Antibes; it is a generous sized basket. He was the one to carry the it though, and he looked very natural in his blue stripe shirt and basket. Men all over Europe carry these market baskets, and I have a lot of men carry my baskets at the markets and for grocery store shopping; Hubby here is a great example here of a man who looks great, at ease and man-stylish with his basket. But then again, I follow the Sartorialist blog, and I love men's fashions. I will have to do a post on Men and Baskets one of these days....these two are adorable, they have been together since they were 14 years old....they look sharp against the bunting and awning stripe too, don't they?
Meanwhile, the Chic continue to shop at Rancho Santa Fe; they start off well, with a vibrant orange shirtdress and Vuitton Batignolles verticale, but then they carry...a plastic bag...this makes me cringe; imagine if she had a little Eze tote instead??? Plastic bag aside, she looked great; see me please for an upgrade at a reasonable price; Vuitton and Eze are my favorite pairing....
And this one, in a eyelet dress and low heels and metallic Chanel jumbo; but not really shopping or else just getting started; I didn't notice this guy checking her out til I uploaded the pics; hehe but she did look great!!
I make the "reasonable price" mention because the store in the shopping center (where we have the market), which is 15 feet from my booth, the closest store to my booth, just came out with a version of my Aix basket, unlined, for $132. She carries Madagascar baskets in a Madras-style with yellow leather handles for the same price. "Soul-less" someone told me today, and of course phenomenally overpriced. I have never ever ever ever seen this basic merchandise for that price. These aren't meant to be treasured items, they are everyday, utilitarian, durable and classic items that will last for years and years. Oh yes, and they also happen to be timeless-ly fashionable.

I am home now and getting ready for some partying tomorrow, but at 9am I will be in downtown LA to get some ribbon for Friday. Oohh, it all came together in one brainstorming session yesterday. I can't wait to show you how it will all come together!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Saturday

This is a long and busy weekend, so several posts!! We were at Corona del Mar market today, and I had the booth tricked out in bunting:

We had flags everywhere in the booth, the big ones that are great on the lawn:
And the little ones, which are sized for kiddies going by in strollers in my basket of net bags:
At one point in the morning, we had a throng of little ones in front of the booth and their parents had their cameras ready; I want to promote patriotism, and was there was a lot of flag waving going on!
Even the Big People loved getting a flag; this lovely shopper bought a Bandol a few weeks ago; she and her husband are on their way to Beijing this week, and when she gets back I will have an awesome hat for her ;) they are a total class act, these two, I want to hear the report from Beijng....aren't they cute, holding hands?
Meanwhile, my first visitor of the day was Louis the Poodle, backlit by the morning sun:
he was in the holiday spirit; this is a cute pic of his gorgeous self:
And we even took a sample pic for the French Basketeer Poster Pet contest; this will run in June on Facebook; take a pic of you and your pet and your basket; she has a Green Cannes:
If you don't have a French Basketeer basket you can substitute any French-style basket or theme and still qualify for a prize;

Check SpellingThe contest has not started, but there's the early leader, in my opinion; check out Laura Ingalls Gunn's Decor to Adore post HERE and tell me if this is not the most original post.....will we have a category for blog posts??? Maybe! We will launch shortly...enjoy your weekend!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Days

Before I post on my Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to share some photos of France. Bastille Day is the best equivalent of our 4th of July, but in France there are several days reserved to commemorate the military veterans as we do for Memorial Day. I think it is closer to home in France because battles were fought on their soil, and it was their families and livelihoods which were affected and towns wholly changed due to the loss of life and injuries and property damage; it's very real and still a little raw.

November 11th is the day the Armistice was signed to end WWI; of a global 10 million military dead and 8 million civilian dead, France lost 1.7 million people, or about 5% of their population. In WWII the global losses were much greater; estimates vary greatly but at minimum 50 million people were killed, of which about half are estimated to be military. Estimates for France for WWII are about 570,000 killed, or about 1.4% of the population. Compare that to 24 million Russians and 419,000 Americans. Statistics from Wikipedia. Amazingly sad....

The losses for WWI were felt more strongly by the France, and November 11th is a big day in France. In our town of Beaune, we have a somewhat somber parade, but even in the rain, everyone comes out and falls in line behind the band:

Which is dressed in red blazers:
It's sort of the "city Band".

Behind the band come the military dignitaries:
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Then the veterans. All of them come out, with color guard and their uniforms and white gloves:
We end at the monument to honor the dead from WWI who have their names on the stone obelisk, which is elaborate even for our city; but you will find them in every town in France:
There is an eternal flame and flowers are placed in a ceremony:
During the ceremony we have the dignitaries in their perfect blue felt kepi which signify they are graduates of the Ecole Militaire; no mind the rain falling, see his grey jacket, and the Mayor and others make speeches:
All groups of the armed forces are represented; the Navy, with their red pompom berets:
The Army; if they were Foreign Legion they would have White Kepis for dress uniform; or you would see them heavily barbed:
I don't know which ones these are, but they look fearsome with their automatic weapons; are they parachutists?
At the end of the ceremony, we go to the Town Hall nearby; there a very long table awaits you. There a few more speakers, in this case, small children read letters from other children dating to the post-WWI era describing their losses and heartache; it was very touching. The glasses are lined up as you arrive, but you wait until the speeches are done before you are prompted to take a glass of red or white wine, and have a cheese puff (in the baskets; of course they would be in a basket!). No soft drinks or other food are served. At the end of the ceremony, on the way to the Hall, I introduced R and I to the Mayor, and I told him how touched we were by the ceremony and his expression of gratitude to America. He was extremely gracious, and made several introductions for us at the Hall. Such is life in France. So next, I will show you our day today.....