Dec 8, 2010

Personalized Hostess Gifts

I love monograms.  I have my name or initials emblazoned on everything, from my Lands End tote bag to cocktail napkins to my silver ice bucket and wine stopper.    When I registered for my wedding, the obsession got a bit out of hand...  Maybe it's in my southern blood.   Maybe it's because I'm forever leaving things behind at parties (and everyone knows it's your bag or dip dish if your name is permanently engraved on it).   Mostly it's just because it makes things so personal - which is precisely why I think anything monogrammed makes such a lovely gift.

These custom made linens from Julia Berger are the perfect hostess (or mother-in-law) gifts this time of year.  I discovered her hand-stitched pieces at a trade show last year and immediately fell in love.   She offers a wide array of monogram styles and fabric and embroidery colors so you can create vintage, classic, or even contemporary looking cocktail napkins, hand towels, and bedding.  Here are a few of my favorites...

Dec 1, 2010

Not Your Typical Holiday Cards

I recently made my annual pilgrimage to the local stationer to pick out my holiday cards for the year.  Having gone with the traditional Christmas Tree / Snowman / Santa themes the last few years, I was in the mood for something a little different...  these Edward Gorey illustrations have always enthralled me, and they aren't your typical holiday card.   LOVE.  

(Unfortunately, I did buy some glittery sledding penguin cards before I found these, so some of you may be getting those instead.  Beware: the glitter seems to spread.)  


Nov 16, 2010

Designing a Red Bedroom

A good friend is painting her master bedroom a deep red and asked me for some bedding ideas.  She knows that basic white will work, but is worried that it might look too plain.  Since she's expecting a baby this winter, I highly recommend that she stick with basic white bedding  - the easiest to throw in the wash and even oxy-clean if necessary.  But white doesn't have to be boring!

White bedding is like a little black dress- you can dress it up a million different ways with various accessories.   These beds all start with white sheets and a plain white coverlet or duvet cover - their character all comes from the "add ons."  They're anything but dull, and I think any one of them would look fabulous in a red bedroom...

Photo:  House Beautiful, July '08   Design:  Andrew Halliday & David Greer
 A faux fur throw and lush velvet bolsters in deep charcoal make up a sumptuous, sophisticated bed.

Photo:  House Beautiful, July '09    Design:  Jonathan Berger
LOVE THIS HEADBOARD.  But even without such a statement piece, a vintage suzani used as a bed scarf or coverlet is enough pattern to carry an entire room. 

Photo:  Lonny Magazine, Aug/Sept '10    Design:  Vincente Wolf
Your white sheets don't have to be plain - A nice border detail gives them a crisp, tidy look.  In a red room, I like tan, navy, or charcoal borders.  Bloomingdales Chelsea Sheets with a little red polka-dot border are fun too!
Photo:  House Beautiful, Nov '08   Design:  Peter Dunham
 Bring in more red!  Katie Ridder makes some fabulous prints like this paisley - you can mix them up to make accent pillows, a coverlet, and window treatments.

Photo:  Lonny Magazine, July '10     Design:  Lee Kleinheker
I love this photo because is shows just how gorgeous plain white bedding can be with a glam headboard.  If you're going for simple, go for height - you'll get a lot of drama if you make the headboard as tall as you are.

Hope this inspires you to dress up your bed!

Nov 6, 2010

Easy Entertaining with Beer Stew

After a long Indian Summer, it's finally beginning to feel like Fall...

This time of year, my favorite way to entertain is to make up a big pot of Beer Stew (My husband is a hunter, so I use venison, but it works just a well with beef.)  It's the perfect fall dish - delicious, hearty, and it fills our little house with the most heavenly, homey aroma all day.   I throw a pot in the oven around 3, have guests arrive at 6, and serve it up buffet style around 7.  It's an easy way to have a cozy, indoor day....
Beer Stew
This yummy recipe was given to me by a dear friend, Tracy Kraft Akram

3 lbs cubed chuck or venison                 1 1/2 cup beef stock
3 cups chopped onions                          1 1/2 cup beer
2 cloves of garlic, smashed                     3 Tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup butter                                        4-5 carrotts
1/2 cup flour                                          3-4 potatos
handful chopped parsley                        2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme (fresh is best)       Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300degrees while you chop up all ingredients.  Brown the meat in a dutch oven over medium heat on the stove top.  Stir in onions and cook until tender.  Then add all remaining ingredients, put pot into oven and cook for about 4 hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve over cooked egg noodles or with big hunks of  crusty bread. (Tracy likes it best with biscuits.)

Stew Photo from Chez Jacques Jacques Pepin

Oct 19, 2010

Design Inspiration from Lonny Magazine

One of my favorite blogs,  Coco and Kelley just introduced me to a new inspiring design magazine called Lonny.  

It's just celebrating it's first birthday this fall, and I hope it's around for many more.  Not only does Lonny feature some of the most creative (but totally livable) design I've seen since we lost Domino, but the current issue features one of my favorite designers, Celery Kemble, on the cover.  (with whom I got the chance to chat last week at Fall Market - will post more about her recent renovation of the D&D's 4th floor soon!)   

I spent a good part of this afternoon pouring over this site...  here are a few of my favorite pics, but check out for more inspiration.  But I warn you -  get yourself a comfy seat, a big mug of tea (or glass of wine?), and prepare to lose track of time...

Lonny Mag, Oct/Nov 2010, interior design by Lulu De Kwaitkowski

Lonny Mag Oct/Nov 2010, interior design by Eddie Ross & Jaithan Kochar
Lonny Mag, Feb/March 2010, interior design by Ryan Korban
Lonny Mag, Oct/Nov 2010, interior design by Palmer Weiss

Lonny Mag, Feb/March 2010, interior design by Betsy Burnham

Ahhh... don't you these rooms give you a million ideas?

Oct 13, 2010

A few years ago my husband gave me a digital camera while we were on vacation.  I have never been the paparazzi of my group of girlfriends, always leaving the memory-capturing to others.  But the minute this little silver camera fell into my hands, I instantly felt artistic - - -  Who knew I was such a phenomenal photographer??  Look, I can do black and white!  The no-fail camera made me feel like a genius, and I dedicated myself to documenting every single stunning spot we encountered on that trip.

Then we came home and I have never, not once, taken another scenic photograph.  Unless you count a client's living room or an under-construction site (of which I have many, many photos).

But lately I've been really drawn to the large-scale, oversized photography that keeps cropping up as prominent artwork in magazine spreads.  I love those giant, blown-up, sortof fuzzy shots and they're inspiring me to break out some of my pics from that trip...  

                                                                                Source Unknown
Interior Design by Timothy Whealon,  Veranda Oct '10
Interior Design by Timothy Whealon, Veranda Oct '10
My own photos, Jekyl Island, GA