Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's a Wrap

Today I had the luxury of spending a few minutes checking a few of my favorite blogs; and as seems to happen, one great blog tipped me off to 10 other great new blogs. I found one called and was interested by all that I saw. Sande stocks the Paris bird paper that I used for my Romantic Homes shoot, and I'll keep an eye on her blog and site next time I need a super cute wrap!
Sande is the pro, but I thought I did a pretty good job on my wrapping for my shoot for Romantic Homes. I had originally wanted to use a French-themed color combination for the gifts, but couldn't find just the right shade of satin ribbon, so I decided to use what I had on hand and add in a few other complementary wraps. I started with the French Bird, Postcard and Paris Map wraps that I got at Rogers a few months ago, then added in the presents wrapped in black & white toile-ish paper from the Drug Store in Newport. Each of those dressed up in red to unify; with a nod to my latest-favorite Dutch book, I used taupe and white tulle as well as "petticoat tulle" on a few little gifts, also tied up in red. Lastly, I found the red with white scrolly paper at Rogers, and added in the white bows with a little glitz of glitter dots.

Not bad? I thought it was cute, and interesting, but not far off from classic....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!! This Christmas has been a long time in the making, and I was so happy to see the end result tonight: my large family, again, around a lovely table with lovely food. I cooked a 12 lb prime rib (bone in) that was on the a point/bien cuit side as requested. The table was rosy and the room was aglow; it was all as I had hoped. AND everyone was on time this year, YEAH!
Everyone took home their sachets and medals, but in the end I kept most of the postcards. My Dad was mad at first; did we only have pillows for dinner??!
Needless to say there was mass gift giving and unwrapping, and now I am just totally exhausted. See you in the morning; probably around raccoon time!

Santa's Arrived, in a Fur Suit

Honey woke me up with a few clucks tonight at 1am. I immediately heard the same strange noise...something... chewing on plastic...? We crept down to the kitchen and turned on the outside light, at the gate. Nothing. Hmmm. Suddenly, there was this year's version of Santa, a large raccoon, standing on its hind legs, begging, looking at us, in front of the kitchen door. Another light on, but I couldn't get the camera for a photo. Honey was beside herself! The 'coon had been chewing through the plastic of the bag of potatoes Mom bought today for Christmas dinner, sitting right outside the door.

Soon, there were 3 large raccoons at the gate. Looking up the stairs at us, while Honey watched intently from my arms. OK I confess, every Christmas eve, we have seafood; tonight shrimp and a lobster. Throughout the year, I bury shellfish remnants in the compost far away in the garden, but on Christmas eve, I leave the box of shells and discard on top of the compost heap, for the raccoons, which I call our Critters. It's my Christmas Gift to the Critters.

Anyway, I threw a few shrimp, one at a time, out the door and down near the gate. Each time someone got their little hands under the gate to grab it, or squeezed in around the gate to retrieve. Each time I then saw three sets of eyes waiting, watching, begging.

My friend Susie has wild raccoons she feeds in the middle of Long Beach. Stephanie used to have a pet raccoon in Florida, until it dismantled her kitchen, completely. Napoleon also met Mommy Raccoon with her 5 kits here at the house in a tree stump, until she took a quarter-sized chunk out of his cheek. They are fascinating and clever creatures but I don't want to encourage them, unless it's Christmas eve....

Anyway, couldn't go back to sleep so I have been wrapping presents the last 3 hours. Photos of those tomorrow.....bonne nuit and Merry Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

La Grenouille

Today there was a review of La Grenouille in the NYT. If I had to name my top 5 restaurants in the whole wide world, this one would be on the list. I have been there a few dozen times, most memorably with my Mom, before we saw Sarah Brightman at Radio City Music Hall. Henry Kravis was at the table next to us, though my Mom had no clue when I mentioned his name; it was another era, and at that time Henry was the King of NYC. Anyway, slide into the red banquette and read the menu by the shaded light fixture on your table, see the towering flowers above you, experience attentive but never too-much service, and taste the best darn classic French cooking you'll ever have, and you are in heaven....and be sure of course to order the chocolate or grand marnier souflee to finish...

I have a copy of Charles' book on floral arrangement and tonight I'll go take another look at it. Magnificent. Spectacular.

With the passing of just about every other truly classic French restaurant in New York (brasserie-food does not count!), it's wonderful to know that La Grenouille is still there. I will be in NYC end of next month; perhaps I'll make a res.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Puppy Love

Tell me you are tired of seeing photos of puppies or babies, and I will tell you that you are one jaded person.....just look at little Honey, posing for a photo, then suddenly deciding she will keep looking at me while giving the adjacent candlestick a quick lick; posing on the tree skirt, getting in the presents....she wants to see and taste and experience the world. Not to mention her teeth are coming and in and she loves to chew. We can take lessons from puppies and babies....anyway, isn't she adorable?? We love her to bits....

Romantic Holiday Shoot

Yesterday Romantic Homes Magazine came to our house to shoot for next year's holiday issue. While I always do up the house for Christmas, this year I did it a little bit extra, and I am proud of what I got done, especially since it was 100% "me"-- no help from Mom, no help from my dear Friends; it was a lot of nights up past midnight, especially the table sachets, and a lot of mornings up at 4am, like adding the birds nests. While there was some planning, and working with all the decorations we have collected, in the end there was the dash of sponteneity that made the scene unusual and fresh: the date cluster at the door, the ribbons on the table, the flowers were done quickly and casually, the scattering of vintage cards. This is what made it fun and fresh, to me.

I will have to wait and see what the Editor chooses for the layout, but I can tell you that their photos were 1,000x better than mine. But here are a few quick shots.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Santa's Helper

I had van problems today that brought me back to the house mid-morning. Thankfully, I had my little helper at my feet all day long, as I got two trees and garland, brought them home and got into decorating the house up. Honey fits right in with our family, she loves Christmas as much as we do: chewing on greens, stealing my wide red ribbon and running through the house with 20 yards of it, chasing after the empty spools, burrowing in the are just a few shots. I got most of the big tree decorated today, while my Mom commented from the sofa, but that was OK. I want to do it just so this year. I got misc other decorations done today; I'm going to wait on The Magazine to show you all the details; I did find out that the Puppy Shower will be in the March issue so more on that in the next 8 weeks....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sweet little Sachets

Today I am going to Lido Isl

and for their home tour and holiday boutique; I am bringing some baskets, but also some of the sachets that I have been making for Christmas table favors. The sachets are all made with vintage fabrics, and in some cases lace overlays or with a little French linen lace that came from one big lot I bought, which came from a chateau in the Loire. I added a little red bow and religious medal from France; they are sweet little sachets; my camera is having a hard time focusing on the group of them, but this gives you the idea....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chucky's Bride and other

A few days ago, no one had anything done for Christmas, and I've been working on it behind the scenes here for a few weeks so I felt a little ahead. Now all of the sudden, everyone else has their house decorated, and I feel behind, like I should have everything done. Well, it's actually been sort of a negotiation on some points, and some ongoing edits. For example, I thought my first pass of the toy basket was pretty cute, but then Leah came over and said Oh No, you can't use that dollie, she looks kinda scary, like Chucky's Bride or something. Well, I told her, many years ago, my Nana gave me and my sister these beautiful Madame Alexander dolls, a blonde one for my sister, and a brown haired one for me; I didn't think they ever looked scary! Anyone, out went my sister's dollie, and my brown haired doll will be in the cart, except Leah took the bridal veil off of her and put it on the teddy bear. I still have to get the rest of the Christmas stuff down and add the musical instruments etc to the cart. In other news, I bought these great fragments topped with coral from Oma for my birthday present ("to Me from Me"), and added in my Italian angel. I think she's a former Virgin Mary who lost her crown and gained some wings, but anyway she looks great in the dining room. I hate my camera for these kinds of shots; that flash- I can't figure out how to turn it off! The magazine's shots will be perfect; they are the pros. Last night I also started the table favors, and I'll try to finish them before the end of the week. Meanwhile I have a full day, including a board meeting this afternoon, do my Dad's billing for him as it's first of the month, get ready for a show tomorrow and go to downtown LA if I can today. Whew; gotta get going now....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Time is Here

We are only a few days past Thanksgiving, but immediately everyone is getting in the holiday spirit. The florists in Corona del Mar market had the best pointsettias; see Hector's huge plant here; San Diego county seems to have the corner on the pointsettia growing-- there were few in Palisades. I bought a few little plants from the guy on the other side of me, who usually sells herbs. In Palisades today I met Jeanine, who embellishes wreaths each season with her team in the Della Robbia style; fabulous and nice inspiration for me as I am doing della Robbia for the stone arch. But my favorite photo of the weekend is from CdM, a user of my net bags who came on his bike with a stack of ten sets of lights on the back. Way to go!

My Mom accuses me of being too social; it was great today to see Ladan for a nice while, one of the dearest women I know. I saw Victoria the medium/psychic fresh from London; also met a new French contact and chatted with her for a long time; also ran into Catherine from Lavender Blue and met her husband. I met the owner of the adjacent gift shop and think we will do a custom order for her in the spring. Chat chat chat chat chat. Sell Sell Sell Sell. I'm not a chatterbug, but I love to see the dear people I have met at the markets. It makes the time fly! I have a handful of shows this week and a handful of private clients to meet. Meanwhile every day more decorating for the shoot.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cargo & Company

Today I went to see my friend Oma's fabulous showroom on Red Hill Ave near the airport; it was a great find for me, about a year ago; I feel like I should be in one of my favorite shops in Paris...everything is soothing and neutral and well-chosen. I'll add more photos later today....I came to hit her Black Friday sale; you can go to Target and WallMart, I'm going to Cargo & Company sale!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I ended last night late, making shadow boxes or whatever you call them, vignette boxes, out of wine crates for the Christmas shoot. I am still playing with what to put in them; here are my first efforts. I started the day early (4am) making mincemeat tarts, later planting the final amaryllis for Christmas, though I doubt these late ones will bloom by then.

Honey and Isabella played together non-stop all day, and we got back home around 6pm; it was an early dinner and a long I am home getting ready for tomorrow: will I hit the doorbuster sales? I am going to Cargo & Company at 10am for their sale too and to work on a project for Oma. I also have to go to downtown LA for ribbon. I hate to say, there is very little doorbuster sale stuff that interests me; I want real greenery (free from the garden), not much to store, and no knick-knack Christmas stuff. I need very little before the photo shoot.

Anyway, here are shots of the little mince tarts and shadow boxes and the homemade potpourri that I am making for my sachets for Christmas. It's too bad I will bag it; it's very pretty and smells great....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


It's two days before Thanksgiving, but I am not really focused on it. Whipping up a few mince pies and tarts will be easy; my sister will try to cook the bird, but it's usually burned up and dried out; I might go to help prevent that....

Mentally, I am past Thanksgiving already; I am on the run-up to Christmas, and specifically mid-December, which is when The Magazine will come to shoot our house for the 2010 issue. The Devil & the Joy are in the Details, and I am doing details details details. Tonight I polished a bunch of silver and copper and made a home-made potpourri that will be to die for; I will explain the packaging later. I got up at 430 this morning to do more organization and wrap presents for the shoot. It will be up to the Editor's expectations!
Anyway, I bought some great 'shrooms from Dirk this past weekend for the stuffing Thursday. Few photos here. I bought flowers for my sis today, she is hosting us. I will still do her house up for her a little more!

The baby basket has thyme and super baby arugula....come and get it at the Pacific Palisades Famers Market!

The Cat in a Basket

On Saturday we had a special visitor to the Corona del Mar market, a cat on a leash in a stroller. I can't remember if it was named Mandy or Dandy, but this was a big fat gorgeous Siamese kitty. He went along very well in his stroller, but when they came to the baskets he decided to get out and check things out. Mmmmm smell that Moroccan leather, Dandy! Pretty soon of course he had found a nice spot in the sun in an orange St. Tropez. Later in the morning, Kisses came by in his cart with his mistress. Way to go, get your people to drive you around!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrive!

In New York or major cities in France or certain cosmopolitan spots around the globe, you will see signs in early November heralding the arrival of the Beaujolais nouveau, the new wine from the most southern region of Burgundy, wine intended to be consumed within the first year. It is low in tanins and somewhat fruity. There is usually a pretty ad campaign by one of the leading producers, Georges deBoeuf. It has its fans, like my friend Kimberly, but I am not one of them. Give me an aged Burgundy any day, even a few years old. Someone commented that Beaujolais Nouveau is like eating cookie dough vs eating a cookie; that is perhaps not a bad analogy.

Anyway, the Beaujolais Nouveau is released for sale on the third Thursday of November each year, and last evening there was a party in mid-Wilshire LA for the new wine. It was fabulous to see 98% French speaking people setting up for food and other sales. I was there with baskets and sold very little, but I traded for some awesome Tahitian and Madagascar vanilla paste and sweet little Tahitian pearl bracelet, and met some very lovely French-speaking people. In other words, the company was great, the wine was ok, and I also got to bring home a bunch of little glasses for Tina that are marked by one of the sponsors, Mercedes of Beverly Hills. Cute! Look at the program cover here; it is fabulous; merci Pascale.....!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Post-Party Recovery

I've been recovering for the last two days from the Puppy Party. Not that I have been able to rest; it's still been non-stop. The party was photographed by a well-known national magazine, and I gave them lots of pretty things to shoot; I have only a few shots here and we'll all have to wait for the magazine to come out, sometime next year. I have no idea when they will do the layout.
Smartly-dressed guests started to arrive promptly at 2pm, so much for fashionably late! I was still in my robe. Leah helped me all morning with a few tweaks, and Susie worked all morning on the food.
The run up to the party was a 3-day sprint. On Saturday I had a little meltdown at my cleaners because I thought my lifetime collection of damask linen tablecloths had been lost. Fortunately, they were only lost in the house, but it was just about enough to put me over the edge!
The honey jars were a total hit; I didn't get any good shots of the tags, but there were 2 friends and 1 pro taking lots of photos so surely someome will have recorded it all for me.