Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fine Morocco Leather

On Sunday, a regular client came by with a basket she has had for 5+ years. She uses this for general tote, but mostly for carrying painting supplies, hence many touches of paint on the leather. She loves this basket (and so do I!) though it's a little chewed and heavily used.

This is the same palm I stock, it's a darker and slightly more rustic palm than you normally see, but it's Palm all the same. This one has a single rivet on each handle; a quality rivet, not steel, and thankfully not rusted. In a basket without leather trim, the top corners will crack and dry first~ after 10 or more years; this is the reason the best baskets are trimmed as they are; not a bad investment for a basket that will last 10+ years!
the weave is very regular, and as she and I discussed, the thread is like a waxed linen, that will not budge; similar to dental floss. I love the patina of her basket; it cost her about $48 five years ago:

Morocco is well-known for its leather; "Morocco Leather" books are made of a pigskin; here the popular Moroccan poufs $375:

here are some slippers that I can order for you. They are not cheap (~$50 wholesale), but they are buttery-soft lambskin and can be ordered in any color combination. You will find cheaper versions in the souks. I want them in neutral tones; too bad at 5'9" I have size 10 feet and can't fit any of the samples; these look best on little feet:
Think of fine aged leather; isn't it fantastic? Imagine sitting on these vintage French club chairs, on 1st Dibs Here.
or these, also Here on 1st Dibs:
the leather I use on the baskets is either brown lambskin or else natural like this, which will oxidize over time to a fine cognac color, just like the club chairs or Vuitton leather:
Note no rivets; they will often rust and these handles will never budge; never ever had a one come back, after thousands of baskets sold.

And among my classic Aix-style baskets, they will age to look like this, this vintage one from my collection with a nice 4-rivet design which I think is 10+ years old, not rusted though we are close to the beach:
the basket is not trimmed in leather, which would be preferable as it makes the basket last longer, but I use it to store & tote linens; I buy vintage French baskets when I can, but they are rare to find as people hold on to their baskets.
I do not order any baskets with anything other than leather-handles; sisal looks pretty and natural, but sisal handles hurt your hand if the basket is full; it wears well on the floor only! Though this is a vintage sisal-handled basket, and the one I use for gathering flowers & greens for holiday and parties; it opens flat like a disc and envelopes flowers without crushing them; I may special order a copy later in the fall:
Meanwhile, I will continue to stock the classics:
also the zip-tops, already aged-looking in lambskin:
I love to do custom orders; email me if you want anything you do not see, or if you are in desperate need of any products in Moroccan leather!

Monday, August 30, 2010

French Prep

Aren't logistics a fun challenge? We are all involved in the how to get who & what where & when in the most efficient manner. I am preparing for packing to and from Beaune, and how to pack the most stuff in the smallest space. I once bought a chandelier in Beaune from a closing antique store, found a box on the streets of Paris (garment district), wrapped the pampilles in newspaper and the fixture made it home on the plane intact; I am reminded when I look at it, in the dining room:
The limit of my trans-continental logistics was a pair of really crusty WWII-era inert grenades purchased in Sainte Mere Eglise, Normandy, last summer; I packed them in my nephew's check-on duffel. When the guys with the Bomb Squad shirts called him to the podium at Miami International I knew we were in trouble; they must be on the desk of the local Chief now.... I tried and tried to maneuver my way out of that one; clearly they wanted some WWII memorabilia. Crap. I was going to give mine to my Pop for Christmas....they were cored and hollow btw not like there:
R gave me his list today of what I need to bring over; coffee; the camera did well here:

Yes, they DO sell coffee in France, but it is very dear,and R likes the espresso he is used to. Petrol, coffee, books and spices come to mind as things that are precious in France; the price of petrol elevates all distribution costs. R adds to the list: chili oil from the Chinese market, toothbrushes (yes, they sell those in France too), and Scotch-Brite pads:
I am ok with all of that, but I drew the line at Oven Cleaner. No!

We are discussing our list of where we want to go touring & tasting; contact in advance for the best places. Definitely Domaine Gros, Frere et Soeur and also Michel Gros. It's sometimes confusing....but this family is the BEST:

Dennis and Corino designated this the best red last year, and they marked up the bottles to remind me:
....I am testing the camera daily before the trip. More trip prep soon....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Raquel's Birthday

Today was my first day in Rancho Santa Fe with the new camera; I stopped everyone who went by with a similar camera to discuss how they use it and which lenses they use. So much to learn, I am humbled; so much money to spend. Yikes!

I will show more pics later; today I loved the way these baby artichokes looked:

and of course I took lots of flower pics at Allison's/Magnolia:

But today was also our market manager's birthday, so we decided to party after the market. Late in the morning, Raquel introduced me to Emelio, our Paella chef. Was the pan "this big" I asked, or "THIS BIG." Yes it was, humongous!
Emelio is originally from Malaga, and he channels the Gypsy thing. He was very engaging and very entertaining! It starts with chicken and onions and garlic and tomatoes:
I came back every 15 minutes to shoot some more; here the calamari were added, and paprika and saffron:
Emelio dealt the shrimp out with a fast hand over the pan; mussels and clams were added; all this was done in the parking lot of the shopping center where we have the market:
meanwhile, the vendors got together and made several salads: Maggie's Stellar Mix (and it IS stellar!), figs, avocados, cheese, herbs, tomatoes from various vendors; dressed in lemon juice and olive oil from other vendors; outstanding!
the figs were perfect, why don't I add them to salads more often?
the paella was finished off as the market ended; it looked amazing....
it was then covered, to keep it hot;
everyone gathered around, and to the chant of "take it off" the cover was removed...
it's handy to have lots of chefs and food-people around; Loic the baker had provided bread for the meal and he was there to help, as was Jean-Michel who does our crepes at the market; no shortage of hands and help serving food!
we also had the most amazing sangrias, made with Pudwell Berries; here the sangria jar is dry but the crowd wants paella!
there is ok paella and then there is great paella; this was GREAT!
thanks to Emelio, a total character, here with our birthday girl~
we had to have her try the first bite, of course!
these are all various vendors from the market, we all stayed for the party; it's a long day for us, but we are a great group~
a very happy birthday to Raquel, and thanks to our super chefs, here Jean-Michel and Emelio! We all agreed, let's do it again soon!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Austerity Fatigue

I recently met R, a lovely San Diego store owner. She has several shops in the area, and she noted that people are getting tired of not having extra money to spend. Who isn't there? I say, we are all broke, at different levels. Even those with big incomes are taking home less. And everyone has a maxed budget. Anyway, R says many people want to make themselves feel better by buying just one little thing for themselves. She called it something like Austerity Fatigue or Recession Fatigue.

This week, and before my trip to France, I succumbed to "it" whatever you call it. I buy baskets and merchandise, but little for myself, but this week I bought a new Canon Camera. A few shots from today: the same dahlias you saw last week look much better through the Big Camera:
the color is so good....
and the oranges, also from Hector at CdM:
these with a pale blush center:
I smelled the tuberose as soon as I got out of the car; these are the small-stemmed, super-fragrant ones:


and succulents; I am amazed that the camera can do this:

for my display basket, I did eggs, in homage to the 500 something million eggs now in recall; please, just buy local:
I played with several baskets to test the camera:
the focus is amazing; look how it captures the leather trim; as Jo says, worth every penny; lovin' this camera:
and finally, the tuberose and mini roses I brought home.
More tomorrow; I will have lots of tomato and veggie shots at Rancho Santa Fe. I also can't wait to show you Paris and France through this camera lens. So very excited, and so glad that Christmas came in August for me!