Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sweet Little Feet

Some of my favorite shoppers are Les Petites.  This is Sara’s adorable little daughter, and she went home with her own little Moroccan basket~ IMG_3749

It’s amazing that feet can be so expressive; she was sort of shy, sort of tired, sort of interested in what I was doing taking pics of her shoes!  You need to click on these pics to see the whole view.


My days are so full lately getting ready for the spring lines, travels, and the pile of paperwork and baskets in my office.  I have to pull some baskets to ship today, and post two rolling carts, and gather some baskets to donate to the Laguna Flood Relief  benefit on Sunday.  Doubt I will attend the benefit, but at least I can donate some merch!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recipie for a Birthday

How does one plan a birthday party? How to choose a theme, a style, an ambiance? I say, “give ‘em what they want.” Recently, Mom had her 75th, and she made it clear that she wanted lots of pink, a coconut cake, and Champagne. She knows I indulge her whims, and she is never disappointed on her Birthday.

This week my most-loved sister had her birthday. On that day, her husband was working late and asked if she might pick up her own birthday cake at the market. I know~ MEN! We celebrated her birthday properly this Saturday, along with my nephew Dennis’ (her son), for his 18th.

I was noodling over what to do for their birthdays. The best gift I can give my sister is time, so the dinner party was at her house. I showed up with the food and began to cook while she watched a PBS video about Italy with our Dad and all the dogs (Gift).


I settled on a theme of French Brasserie, since my sister and I used to love to dine at Balthazar in New York when she visited me there. At Christmas time, those large mirrors are draped in cedar, with a terminus of an XL pine cone. Do not miss this restaurant if you visit New York City! Balthazar is to me a dialed-down version of Le Grand Colbert; another not to miss in Paris, and featured in the film Somethings Gotta Give; be sure to view their videos on the website, though not if you are hungry! I went to Le Grand Colbert hundreds of time, long before the film, since it’s just near the Louvre, and now there are tour buses which stop for meals. Go late afternoon for a leisurely lovers lunch. Oh that’s another post, but here is a pic of Balthazar; you might see designer David Easton here for breakfast, or any number of celebrities~


Oh back to the birthday parties…those Champagne and water bottles got repurposed again, for a long serpentine candlestick; I layered in a pretty quilted French runner over the French linen sheet, so we knew we were not in a diner~


Hector had Orange Tulips at the market Saturday, so that’s what I got and that’s what went on the tables; pale pink just wouldn’t do. Orange positively glows at night, do not discount it; it is warm and went well with the pinks!


I used Point a la Ligne candles in 8” and 12” lengths, in pinks and a few orange, with the bottles for holders; fill the bottles with water for weight; trim the candles down with a paring knife to fit the bottle necks~


See what I mean about the orange? Even if you hate orange, it’s great for a party~


Let’s not forget the Birthday cakes; for my family, we usually have like five, but as I was short on time with the markets and other demands; we had the requested Red Velvet Cake and a Chocolate Ganache~


For my sis, I got a book from French publisher Assouline, perfectly wrapped. When in doubt, a book or Champagne, that’s my motto!!


In bistro style, the table was set with white dishes, ordinary glasses and white Matteo linen napkins; ok you don’t get Matteo at bistros but I do not have white cotton~


Dinner was oven roasted asparagus from the market~


And Alaskan Halibut; “restaurant style” pan fried in half butter half veggie oil; dog gone this was so over the top I want a taste of this again!


I served the Halibut with the tomato mango chutney according to Balthazar; forgot to mention, the menu was all from the Balthazar Cookbook~


The Balthazar salad was delicious, with julienned beets, various greens, haricots verts and radishes. And what bistro would miss steak au poivre, coated with pepper, and home made pomme frites; if you doubt the expense of a great camera, look at this; the Canon Rebel picks up the French sea salt on the fries; these were Super Yummy~


I think the bottles will be stored for summer. While they are “dripless” in no wind, with a breeze they do this~


I think the Champagne bottles coated in wax will be lovely. My sis of course kept them all. Here’s to more fab birthday parties!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Changing My Stripes

Eh oui, for a brief period this spring the French Basketeer is changing her colors; in place of this…. 


I will be seeing this….

itali flag

Si…va bene…. stupendo perhaps, I am going to Italy!!!!    My niece is studying in Florence this semester, and that sounds like a great excuse for a trip, no?

What most of you don’t know is that before the French Basketeer spoke French, she spoke Italian.  In fact, Italian rolled off my tongue more easily than French did.  The problem now is that while I understand Italian well, if I go to say something, French usually comes out.  No matter, I am planning a wonderful trip, including an overnight layover in Paris on the outbound for a quick afternoon of shopping and dinner with my dear friend Francoise.

Then it’s on to Florence, where I will stroll the streets, photograph the daily farmers markets and visit the Uffizi, Pitti Palace, and perhaps Michelangelo’s House.  I planned my trip to coincide with the monthly flea market, held on the second Sunday, and the famous San Lorenzo market on Tuesday, so there will be no shortage of things to see and do. Oh yeah, I get to see my niece Erin too, when she finishes her classes each day!

Botticelli’s Venus is there~

venus birth

And….seeing that I am in the area, I plan to knock an item off my bucket list and go to Rome.  I can’t believe I have never been to Rome, but here I go.  I will have a few days by myself, again to stroll and photograph, and to visit places I have longed to see such as the Villa Borghese and it’s gardens and Gallery.  I will fill in the gaps on some of my favorite painters, including Caravaggio~

 caravagge 2

Oh how I want to see works like this, the Conversion of Saint Paul~


and of course, The Vatican; it’s a dream for me to go to the Vatican and The Birth of Adam~


And the sculpture, oh….Bernini is one of my favorites; David

bernin david

And I think the most amazing piece of sculpture ever, Daphne and Apollo completed 1625; how did Le Bernin  conceive of this, let alone execute it….look at the drape of his cloth, look as her hair flies behind as she tries to escape him, the sculpture is captured at the instant she is turning into a laurel tree.  Imagine seeing this life-size work in person here in the Gallery….wow….


This image is not as good quality, but here you can see her hair flying, and her fingers turning into branches….carved in marble….between 1622 and 1625….can you imagine?  apollo_d

I am getting excited already, almost as excited as Laura was to meet Jaithan, Emily, Amy & Kymberly this past weekend.  Laura, you are too cute, even with chocolate creme on your pant leg!

Ciao for now mes amis!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Romantics

I am honored once again to be featured in Romantic Homes Magazine, for February 2011. The cover is clean and crisp and so pretty; we are billed there as “Annual roundup of women who inspire”~


Each woman has a page, and we were asked to show photos and write about the things that inspire us and what "Romantic" means to us; here is my page~


The chicken pic top left is from the Carousel in Beaune. You can sit at a cafe on the Place Carnot and watch it go ‘round. Burgundy is big-time chicken country, home of the Bresse Chicken, and I love the whimsy of a poulet on the carousel…

The paper lanterns are from the 21st Birthday party I hosted in Laguna for my niece Nicole last spring, followed one day later by a 20th birthday party for my niece Erin. The parties were at night, under the lighted lanterns, and VERY pretty, very feminine, totally fun.

The bottom left shows detail of a necklace I love to wear for special parties; it is a 1920’s belt that was refitted by a wonderful NYC artist.

I am a cross between a Pragmatist and a Romantic, though if I had a choice, I would of course abandon myself to the Romantic life, spending my days gazing at 18th and 19thC paintings, imagining a truly Romantic life, ruled by passion and fantasie, with no cares to the mundane aspects of life~


I would spend my days walking the streets of Beaune, a town which I love dearly; arm in arm with R, with no care to time and when the financial markets will open or close, watching the duckies at the exit of the small stream which runs under the center of town and provides humidite to the caves and feeds the large pond at Parc Bouzes near our home. Beaune is another life; it is calm, it is free of the demands of our families and jobs; it is a tremendous source of inspiration and replenishment for me~ parc bouzese

Alas, work keeps me here more than there, for now, and so I have to indulge in Romantic things like sherbert-colored paper lanterns under the loggia in Laguna~

paper lanterns

I have so many inspirations and loves, it was hard to narrow it down for this narrative. However busy we are, I hope everyone has some time for whimsy, for dreaming, for fantasy. It is essential for the soul.

The issue is on newsstands now; pick up a copy if you don’t subscribe….

Encore, merci mille fois a Jacqueline et cie.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yummy Stuff

On Sunday, Laura and I will show our Spring Vision for Metis at the Long Beach Flea Market.  This has, frankly, consumed me for the last few weeks.  More than baskets.  Initial inspiration came in a box of  French Macaroons~

macaroons And Pink, yes we had lots of Pink & Pretty in mind, to chase away the winter chill and blahs, with a French twist~

rasp mac

If you have visited our Metis booth, or if you know me or Laura personally, you understand our natural hospitality; on Friday night my niece Nicole will come help our kitchen become a creme puff factory, for treats to give our shoppers on Sunday~


She does not know it yet, but I will gift Nicole one of the lavender pillows we will show this weekend; vintage French grain sacks I found in Cluny with new-old-stock French 1920’s puffy sew-on monograms.  Nicole will think she’s gone to heaven with this kidney pillow.  The grain sacks definitely cut the pink; the monos are superbe; wait til you see it all…~IMG_3532

As I attempt to tick off my list of To Do’s for the New Year, Live Writer was way up there.  This is my first post with Live Writer, which Laura has been cheerleading me to try.  What do you think? This year I want BIG pics; Jo has been cheerleading me on the pics.  Yes, lots of pics.  Pretty stuff to show you.  Fingers crossed as I hit the Publish button!  Check our Metis Blog for LOTS of pretty stuff this weekend. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Goodbye to a Friend

Sparkling wine is a staple at our family gatherings. In summer there is always a mimosa bar with fresh citrus, and for Christmas, always Champagne. Champagne is festive & gay, it facilitates conversation & conviviality. No matter what you are serving, it is perfect before dinner, with dinner or after dinner. Or for breakfast, or with lunch. You can be scolded for having wine before noon, but not Champagne. Some wise French woman once said that "Champagne is the only wine that a woman is still beautiful after drinking." No matter what, Champagne is always correct.

R and I have elaborate methods of hiding the French Champagne in the cellar or a second refrigerator, and setting out mostly California sparkling for my family. Call me a purist, but the California stuff can still give me a headache, and though the quality is very good, of course I prefer "real" Champagne.

This holiday, I splurged, and there was Perrier Jouet Brut and Nicolas Feuillatte for all. Everyone in our house loves Champagne, even Miss Biscuit, if we'd let her drink it. There was a massive amount of it consumed this year, so much that I decided I would keep all the bottles and repurpose them somehow, or at a minimum take advantage of the beautiful green color and volume of glass. Tongue in cheek, I title this pic Soldats Morts devant Soldat avec Nature Morte~

Yes, the bottles will be in the Metis Booth at the Long Beach Flea this weekend, and with this post you see my first efforts at displaying some of them, with the "plaster" fruit and various green kugels~
For big summer parties outside, I use basic flutes, but for holiday I prefer something special. This year I used tall gold rimmed wine glasses, so I didn't have to worry about overflows or broken crystal flutes with dog tails in the living room and gesturing arms; though perhaps the larger glasses encouraged greater consumption~

In these leaner days, we are all cutting back. French Champagne is only for holidays. Sigh... How I wish I could have been a part of the circle of Madame de Pompadour, who popularized Champagne in the court of Louis XV. The coupe de Champagne is said to be modelled after her breast. Versailles was drafty and the rooms so large and cold, I would have thought cognac more warming, but Mme. de P. loved her bubbly.

Well-read, beautiful, and accomplished in the arts and conversation, she met the King at a masked ball at Versailles, she dressed as a shepherdess and he dressed "if," which is a conifer used for garden topiary (I think it was in fact a group disguise, but I've never understood how one dresses as "a topiary..."). Her marriage was dissolved several months later, as she remarked "Who but the King of the World could make one infidele?" I love this portrait of her by Boucher~

Then again, if I look at this painting of Madame, I realize maybe it's ok to be on Champagne Austerity. One word: Calories. Hard to believe she is just 42 in this memorial portrait by Drouais, which was completed after her death from tuberculosis. At this point she and Le Roi were platonic but still very close friends~

In addition to quantities of Champagne, the King furnished his mistress with some nice digs, buying her one of the finest residences in Paris, the Hotel d'Evreux. Today we know it as the Elysee Palace, official residence of the President of France, though the palace and gardens have been changed many times since Madame's day. Laura and I should do a Metis French Fridays post on the Elysee. Here is my favorite room, the Salon Dore, which has been preserved intact since it was completed in 1861 for Empress Eugenie, queen consort of Napoleon III. The 18C bureau-plat or desk shown here is also magnificent, brought to the room by DeGaulle.
This is the traditional office of the President, the French Oval Office, if you will. If my office looked like this, I'd move right in! Sorry for the bunny-trail of Champagne, Madame de P. and the Elysee. In any case, it's au revoir to my dear friend Champagne for another 10 months, or at least until my trip to France in May, haha!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Perhaps it is the relief of getting through the holidays. Or that the days are more quiet, relative to our norm. For whatever reason, the New Year always brings a burst of energy for me, new creative thoughts arrive and projects which have been stagnant always find a way to move ahead.

I've enjoyed the last two weeks partying with family and friends, as well as some much-needed time for contemplation. I've indulged in time to peruse many old magazines and books, rearrange things on the walls and tabletops, and enjoy the last of our Christmas and New Year/Birthday decor~

In the midst of the waning flowers from Mom's birthday, while sipping Kusmi Anastasia tea from English lustreware, I've been revisiting the French 18C, developing a fascination with cream & gilt. Add in some modified Pompadour Pink for freshness and black & white Parisienne photos of the 20thC for crispness.

Colors are constantly rediscovered and reapplied. Not that the French have any lock on color, but is pink not associated with Madame Pompadour and Sevres Porcelain? Red popularized in Paris following the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum? Saturated yellows, azure blues and rich greens made their way to France after the Empire's Egyptian campaigns, and have been throughly rooted in French style since then, as are softer colors like lilac.

Turquoise was "the color" for 2010, and it's amazing where it turned up: in Veranda for Christmas decor, in the sweater my sis gifted me for Christmas, in the magazine racks that sit on my desk. Honeysuckle Pink has been chosen by Pantone as "the color" for 2011, which is very convenient because Laura & I chose to focus on pink for Metis spring several months ago. So in the spirit of repurposing and renewing and applying new colors, I've been playing around with pink, Pantone Honeysuckle 18-2120, to be exact; the color is not as dark as it looks in this first photo; believe me, you'll see more of it soon~~
I have been reading too many books on the 18C I think, because after I painted this chair, I spied several others in the house that would look much much better in gilt & cream....
The fabric over the seat is our vintage linen dyed by me, and the "plaster" citrus are acutally plastic, from an old door wreath, painted chalky white like so many Grand Tour busts and a plaster apple I have from Paris.
I am mulling over my French Basketeer line for Spring and hope to finish my orders soon; while I have lots of pink, I will actually head in a slightly different direction for the baskets. Laura and I will be at the Long Beach Flea Market on Sunday January 16th with a large array of new Metis merchandise. In the meantime, you can check our Metis blog for product and color development.