Friday, August 31

Brownrigg Antiques

19th Century Neoclassical Swedish Sofa

19th Century Bleached and Limed Dinning Chairs

A visit to Brownrigg showroom in Petworth, West Sussex proves that London is not the end-all and be-all when it comes to sourcing quality antiques.

International designers and those in the know make it their business to visit Brownrigg. Consistently regarded as the best dealer outside London, its showroom is packed with classic antiques, unusual furniture, 18th century paintings, modern art and sculpture. Even if you can’t make it to Brownrigg, you must visit their website. Not only is it a great resource, it’s a visual treat as well.

Thursday, August 30

Interview: Bonnie Marcus

Bonnie Marcus founder of Bonnie's StylePress

Every great party starts with great stationery. There is nothing better than receiving an invitation in the mail that heightens curiosity, whets the appetite for fun and says this is an event not to be missed! There are so many wonderful stationers, but my very favorite is Bonnie's StylePress, fashionable images with a vintage feel, printed on heavy ecru stock, they’re so stylish and fun!

Now that I know more about Bonnie Marcus, the women behind the name, I adore Bonnie's StylePress even more.

Toward the end of her pregnancy, Bonnie set out to launch her own stationery company from her dining room table in Westport, Connecticut. Having worked for a number of years in the fashion industry for top designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Bonnie teamed up with a number of fashion illustrators who helped make her dream of chic, stylish stationery a reality.

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
No “office politics” involved! If I think that we have a fabulous idea, I am able move on it without going through a rigorous approval process.

Luckily, my company has the support of many high-end retailers (Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, etc.) who believe in our vision of chic, stylish stationery and trust us to supply them with merchandise that their customers will love!

It is also wonderful to get positive feedback from our customers. We receive numerous emails from brides and moms-to-be who have used our invitations for their special events, or worn our “fun, flirty flip flops” and gotten rave reviews!

It is a great feeling to be able to take part in the special times in a woman’s life.

In addition, I enjoy being able to “give back” by donating a percentage of our profits to organizations that support breast cancer research, such as The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Susan G. Komen (after having a scare myself).

What inspires your designs?
Everyone and everything around me! (fashion trends, home trends, nature, my friends, my children, etc.)

I think all of my friends & family members now have designs named after them . . . there is “Marathon Marla” for my friend who is a runner, “Raquel’s Racquet” for my friend who plays tennis, etc.

I have note cards & invitations named after all their children as well!

(I think some people just want to be friends with me now, because they know they will eventually have a design named after them! :-)

Who are your personal style icons?
Diane Von Furstenberg – My first job out of college was working for Diane in her private studio. How lucky I was! In addition to always looking fabulous, she exudes style in everything she says and does.

Audrey Hepburn – Always simple and sophisticated, Audrey Hepburn is truly the epitome of style. Many people say that my designs have an “Audrey Hepburn” feel, which is a wonderful compliment!

What is your favorite CD(s) at the moment
With two little ones at home and a rigorous work schedule, I don’t have much time to read, so I often buy audio books to stay informed and ahead of the curve in my business.

I am currently listening to The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber, a fabulous book about being an entrepreneur and running your own business.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?
Definitely the Hamptons! It is so beautiful out on Long Island, and both my parents and my in-laws are out there, which means BABYSITTING for the children – definitely a big advantage!

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Whereas a “luxury” to me used to mean a hot handbag or dazzling diamonds, these days my favorite luxury is sleep!

Our kids like to wake up when the sun rises, so to sleep until 9 or 10 is a true luxury for me.

What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is my children.

It doesn’t matter if I have had a bad day or a good day at work, they are always waiting by the door to greet me with hugs & kisses when I come home. It definitely makes me realize what is “important” in life.

What is your greatest accomplishment(s)
BALANCE! My greatest accomplishment is being able to truly “do it all” and “have it all”!

Some women don’t think it is possible to have their “dream job” because they need to be home with their children, but I have found a way to balance both my work and home life, which I am very proud of, and work hard at maintaining every day.

Interview by Ronda Carman

Tuesday, August 28

Louise Bradley

I first learned of London-based, interior designer Louise Bradley after falling in love with photos of her weekend cottage in Hertfordshire, England.

Louise is a master at streamlined rooms and neutral color palettes, but her designs never come off as cold or austere. I particularly like the photo of her cottage writing desk (top). A great example of a modern take on country living.

Monday, August 27

Profile: bakana

To say that I love clothes would be an understatement, but the truth is I’m really an accessories girl. Accessories are such a great way to add that ‘wow factor’ to whatever you wear and uniquely express your own personal style.

I was so excited when I recently came across the bakana accessory line and had the chance to learn more about the lovely Priscilla Stephan, owner and founder.

[pronounced bah-kah-nah, portuguese for ‘fun, hip, cool’]

bakana accessories embody what is fun, hip and cool about Brazil. Unique and sensual materials, beautiful textures and colors are the hallmark of bakana. bakana accessories have been featured on Desperate Housewives and worn by Eva Longoria and Teri Hatcher to celebrity events.

Priscilla Stephan is the founder and creative force behind bakana. Priscilla was born in São Paulo but her British accent often fools people having lived most of her life in London, Paris and New York. After receiving a Master's degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, Priscilla moved to Washington, D.C. where for the last few years, she has worked in the environmental conservation field.

After several colleagues, even women on the street, inquired about her Brazilian jewelry, Priscilla decided that there was a desire in the States for unique high quality Brazilian accessories and bakana was born.

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
Helping women feel beautiful

What is your favorite luxury in life?

What is your most prized possession?
My family and friends

What is your greatest accomplishment?
Starting my own business

Who are your style icons?
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Halle Berry

How would you describe your own personal style?
Classic with a twist

What is the one thing in life you can’t live without?

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, August 26


Ivanka Trump's Park Avenue apartment

Brunschwig & Fils (Dzhambul)

Robert Kime fabric

our living room

I am getting ready to reupholster my two favorite chairs and I can feel the anxiety attack coming on now! When I choose a fabric it has to pass the I-love-it-and-can’t-get-enough-of-it-test! Just ask my husband the number of times he has heard, “But I don’t’ love it.” Yes, I know, there is medication for this type of behavior.

But when you consider the cost of fabric I want to know that I won’t have any regrets when I receive the monthly round of magazines in the mail.

I’ve gone back to my ‘style files’ for inspiration and the two things I can’t get enough of are Ivanka Trump's Park Avenue apartment, (originally decorated by Emma Jane Pilkington) and suzani inspired fabrics.

I am particularly fond of British decorator Robert Kime’s fabrics and of course there is the beautiful Dzhambul by Brunschwig & Fils. You can see one of the chairs on the left-hand side of the photo above. If you have any suggestions for other suzani inspired fabrics I would be most grateful.

Saturday, August 25

Rupert Sanderson

I love the London-based shoe designer Rupert Sanderson and his design philosophy less is more. Not to mention that he excels at designing high heels that are not only beautiful, but comfortable—an extraordinary (but not inexpensive) find.

After studying footwear design at the world-renowned Cordwainers College, Sanderson honed his skills working with Sergio Rossi and Bruno Magli in Bologna and formed his own company in August 2001. The 41-year-old designer describes his clientele as 'women of substance who don't define themselves by what they wear'.

Every Rupert Sanderson shoe is named after a variety of Daffodil and my current favorite is Espada (pictured above).

Friday, August 24

The Departure of Kate & Andy Spade

I realize this is old news, but the comments from my post on tastemakers got me to thinking about what they might do in the future. My three sisters gave me the must-have black nylon Sam bag ten years ago and I have been a huge fan ever since.

“This is a hard decision, and I feel very emotional about it. But the emotions would be more about melancholy if I thought we weren’t doing the right thing. We are with the right partners - we wouldn’t make this decision otherwise. This is an opportunity for employees and the fabulous teams we have in place, to take the baton and run away with it,” said Kate Spade.

Can there be a Kate Spade label without the creativity of Kate Spade? Do you think the Kate Spade brand will endure without Kate and Andy or will it die off under the Liz Claiborne umbrella? We'll have to keep tabs on what happens to the Kate Spade industry without Kate Spade.

Profile: Schuyler Samperton

From the comments yesterday it seems there are many who adore Schuyler Samperton and her designs as much as me. Schuyler launched her interior design career through a four-year stint with legendary celebrity decorator Michael S. Smith.

Her background includes six years as a publicist for the Fox Broadcasting Company, where Schuyler lent her creative touch to promotions for hit shows like The Simpsons, Melrose Place and the Emmy Awards. Originally from Washington, DC, she studied art history and decorative arts at Trinity College, New York University and Parsons School of Design.

Recent clients include model Carolyn Murphy and actor Rob Morrow. You can also find Schuyler featured in the July/August 2007 issue of Elle Decor.

What do you love most about your work?
Each project offers a unique opportunity to do something utterly different, from classically traditional to incredibly modern. I love the idea of a blank canvas - that's what's exciting to me.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Stealing time to watch three movies a week.

What is your most prized possession?
A beautiful oil painting of my former dog Jack, a la George Stubbs, that was given to me by my parents.

Who are your style icons?
Robert Kime and Oliver Messel

How would you describe your own personal style?
A relaxed combination of Anglo-Indian/Moroccan exoticism, with the offbeat whimsy of a 19th Century English country house.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?
Anywhere with a beautiful beach, and impossibly warm water.

What designers would you most like to meet?
Tony Duquette and the production designers Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch.

What is the one thing in life you can’t live without?
Actually, there are two: having a really great laugh at least once a day and self tanner.

If enquiring minds, like mine, want to know, Schuyler’s preferred self tanner is Jergens. Yeah for drugstore brands.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Thursday, August 23

On Friday...

Tomorrow I will profile the lovely Los Angeles-based designer Schuyler Samperton. Schuyler’s work has been featured in Elle Décor, W and In Style. In 2003, House Beautiful listed her among “America’s Top Young Designers.”

Schuyler is a great designer with a fantastic spirit—I think you’ll love her as much as I do.

Kenneth Jay Lane

I can’t wait for my September issue of Domino (it takes a little longer to arrive overseas) especially now that I know Kenneth Jay Lane’s home is featured.

“Elegance, good taste and luxury never go out of style,” says Kenneth Jay Lane, the man who single-handedly made costume jewelry cool. Lane's fabulous necklaces, rings, bracelets and brooches have caught the eye of the world's most glamorous women, including Jackie Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Vreeland.

Born in Michigan, Lane graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1954, then worked as an art director at Vogue. While collaborating on shoe collections for Delman and Dior, he began embellishing them with rhinestones, which prompted him to start his jewelry line. Today, Kenneth Jay Lane is a by-word for beauty and style.

Personally, what I love most of about Kenneth Jay Lane, is that he proves magnificence and style can marry beautifully without costing a fortune.

Wednesday, August 22

Toile du Juoy

Decorating (December 2004)

The World of Interiors (December 2006)

I never tire of toile. Toile, short for Toile du Juoy, translates literally to 'cloth'. The linen or cotton cloth was made famous when a new technique of engraved plate printing was popularized in Jouy, France (near Versailles) in the 18th Century. The finished printed cloth was referred to as Toile de Jouy. Today toile is usually described as a one color printed design resembling a pen and ink technique. Toiles are printed by various methods, but the most beautiful are still created by engraved plates or rollers.

We papered our former dining room in a beautiful red and cream Pierre Frey toile and each day I was delighted by the fun whimsical scenes. Some will say that toile has become trendy. I on the other hand think toile is timeless. Like all good designs, different styles will have their moments of popularity, but the mere fact that toile has endured for hundreds of years proves it’s more than a passing fad.

Tuesday, August 21

Interview: Courtney Cochran

photo Sylvia Steininger

I am delighted to introduce you to the charming, talented and oh so chic Courtney Cochran. At 28 Courtney has passed the first two levels of the Master Sommelier wine exams and has written her first book Hip Tastes, due out October 4, 2008. Mark my words, Courtney Cochran is one to watch!

How did you get your start in wine?
I think my dad poured my first taste of wine into my silver baby cup shortly after I started walking. Seriously! He’s a big wine fan, especially when it comes to California wines, and I spent a lot of time touring the California wine country with my family growing up (and yes, my parents did regulate my intake, but we had a very “European” sensibility about drinking). Besides this, I’m a pretty serious Francophile and spent time living in France at 17 and again at 20, when I spent a semester at the Sorbonne. On the weekends while living in Paris my friends would travel to Amsterdam and Munich, and I would go to Champagne and Burgundy to taste wine. And this was back when it was just a hobby!

Has age been a barrier in the wine industry?
I’ve actually found it be a plus, since it sets me apart from a lot of people. It’s better to be noticed than not noticed, you know? And I think the wine industry is really ripe for a fresh take and perspective. When you consider that the Millennial Generation – folks who turned 21 after the year 2000 – are buying more wine, more often, and at higher price points than any generation before them, it certainly shows that there’s a captive audience.

But, when I got started in the business I felt like there was a disconnect between this audience and traditional wine marketing. Younger people don’t care as much about point scores and what critics say about wine, and they’re not subscribing to wine magazines or going to stodgy tastings. Instead, they look to their friends for wine recommendations and prefer to be turned on to wine in places where they’d go anyway – like bars and clubs. I launched HIP TASTES Events in January, 2006 to do just that – I throw wine tasting parties in stylish San Francisco bars and clubs. The response has been incredible!

What is your highest level of certification?
I’ve passed the first two levels of the Master Sommelier series of wine exams, which means I’m officially “certified” as a sommelier by the American Court of Master Sommeliers. Level Three is really challenging, and I’m studying for that right now. Once you pass Level Four you can say you’re a “Master Sommelier” – and that exam has just a 4% pass rate, which is why there are so few of them in the world. It’s a real accomplishment, and it’s certainly something I’m shooting for.

How did you land a book deal
I found a fabulous agent, Elisabeth Weed, and we worked together to hone my book proposal. She shopped it around, and we were lucky enough to catch the attention of Penguin’s Viking Studio imprint. I still can’t quite believe it’s all happened – it’s very surreal! While I love writing, penning an entire book is a lot different than writing a breezy 500-word piece like the articles I write as a columnist for When you’re writing a book it’s really hard to see the forest in the trees! Now that everything’s coming together – the chapters, the illustrations, the appendix, the cover art – it’s an incredible feeling.

What do you love most about your work?
I love teaching small classes of about 12 students on weekends as part of my Saturday School course lineup. A lot of people were coming up to me at my HIP TASTES wine parties and asking if I ever taught classes, and I thought “well, no – but that’s a great idea!” I started offering Saturday School classes last fall and they’ve been a fantastic way to pass along my wine knowledge to an audience that’s really eager to learn.

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
Lots of people find it strange that someone who makes a living drinking, writing and talking about wine can’t cook – but I’m really lousy in the kitchen! I’m desperately trying to improve my cooking MO since I think it’ll help me to better pair wine with food. Plus, not cooking wastes the wonderful fresh foods that are so plentiful in Northern California (and, after all, eating food from the microwave meal after meal is so not chic).

What is your fondest wine memory?
A few years ago I was in Burgundy with a couple of friends, and we were just driving around the countryside looking for places to taste. In a tiny village we pulled up to a home that had a tasting room attached, and knocked on the door. We were greeted by a little girl, Alice, who was just eight years old and – apparently – had been left “in charge” of the tasting room by her parents. Totally professional, little Alice led us into the cellar and walked us through a tasting of several of her family’s wines, and even rung us up when we wished to purchase one of them (she actually got the math wrong, and blushed deeply when we gently corrected her).

When we left, she pulled the cellar door shut behind us, locked in, and stood waving to us as we backed out of her driveway. It was the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen – a young French vigneron in training.

Who are your icons and idols
As an entrepreneur I have a lot of admiration for anyone else who’s started a business. Taking the leap to start something up is nothing short of euphoric, but it’s also incredibly difficult. As the saying goes, there are incredible highs and incredible lows. So, anyone who’s done it is high on my list of folks I admire. As well, I’ve always thought Edith Wharton was a pioneer in women’s literature, and I love that her voice is so clear and strong.

Do you have a favorite varietals?
Yes! I think Pinot Noir is one of the sexiest grapes on the planet, and Riesling is like bottled poetry when done right. For Pinots, there’s just nothing like a good Premier Cru or Grand Cru red Burgundy from France; they’ve got this earthiness married to a fabulous caramel/hazelnut/toast nuance from French oak that’s absolutely fabulous. Riesling from Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer has a flinty/wet stone essence that’s utterly refreshing backed by delicate floral and honey notes that are simply divine.

These are the wines I’d drink on a dessert island, my front porch after a long day (okay, my fire escape – my tiny walk-up in SF doesn’t come equipped with a porch!), or any occasion where I can rationalize popping a cork. Cheers to those moments!

Interview by Ronda Carman

Monday, August 20

An Lochan Hotel

The An Lochan Hotel (formerly the Royal Hotel at Tighnabruaich) is a stylish and friendly hotel in the village of Tighnabruaich (pronounced ti-na-brui). It’s a Gaelic word that I still can’t pronounce properly. The An Lochan Hotel is a two-hour drive west of Glasgow in one of Scotland's most picturesque villages.

Owned and run by the McKie family since 1997 this small yet perfectly formed hotel is the ideal place to escape the stresses and pressures of everyday life. The hotel boasts a lovely dining room with top-notch seafood drawn from the nearby Scottish waters. An Lochan also has a common room/library where guests can read or play games when the weather is…well…Scottish. Our son loved the library and I escaped to the spa for one of the best facial ever.

The bedrooms and bathrooms at An Lochan are beautifully appointed. The overall look is upscale Scotland meets Ralph Lauren. Our room was stocked with fresh fruit, bottled water and Molten Brown bath products. The rooms also feature a huge ball-and-claw tub, a thick robes and down filled duvets.

This past Christmas we spent the weekend with my parents in this lovely hotel. Unfortunately for my husband he came down with the flu on our trip in the Highlands and spent that weekend in bed. But he insists that if you are going to suffer the flu, An Lochan is a great place to do so.

In 2005, Harpers & Queen magazine voted An Lochan one of their Top 100
Hotels in the World. Judge for yourself.

Sunday, August 19

Markham Roberts

I am in love with the work of Markham Roberts, whose mentor was the legendary decorator Mark Hampton. Markham’s designs completely appeals to my visual sensibilities. I may be a traditionalist at heart, but I also adore rooms that are fun, chic and unfussy. Markham has an uncanny ability to inject color into a room without going to extremes, giving each room its own unique characteristics. His rooms come across as chic, beautiful, modern and exceedingly comfortable—simply the best.

Saturday, August 18

Shopping on Saturday

Time and time again I find myself drawn to Lee Stanton Antiques. Lee Stanton, owner and noted antiquarian, is a thirty-year collector of 17th, 18th and 19th century British and European antiques. My favorites this week are a pair of
 white opaline Heiberg lamps, a 19th Century Irish Regency mirror and an English bamboo table. Visit Lee Stanton Antiques for yourself and let me know your favorites.

Friday, August 17

Milo Baughman

Mary Anne Smiley

My inspiration for the posting today came from this beautiful room designed by Dallas designer Mary Anne Smiley. I love the way Mary Anne mixed antiques, chrome, a beautiful Kelly Wearstler rug and Barcelona chairs. chairs. The room has Milo Baughman inspired elements that I really love.

Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin 1960s from Fat Chance Modern

Milo Baughman Chair in Chrome and Yellow Wool 1960s from Home 114

Milo Baughman was one of the leading modern furniture designers of the second-half of the 20th century. His uniquely American designs were forward-thinking and distinctive, yet unpretentious and affordable. Today Baughman furniture is much less affordable. As with anything that is well crafted and highly collectable it is reflected in the price tag.

His prolific and highly influential work continues to be copied, reinvented and revived by contemporary furniture designers.

“With an ongoing interest in '50s and '60s design, a lot of my work has been reintroduced and been very well-received,” Baughman once declared. “Increasingly, architects are using these mid-century classics from the pioneer of this period. It’s a bit unfortunate for current designers with new interpretations of Modern. Going back to the classics is playing it safe, which limits opportunities for new concepts in design.”

Working mainly with walnut, formica and wrought iron, Baughman created simple, understated pieces; many were conceived as space dividers, functioning admirably in the open plan interiors characteristic of the California Modern style.

Baughman's work was included in the Whitney Museum's 1985 exhibit "High Styles: Twentieth Century American Design". In recognition of his monumental impact on American taste, Baughman was inducted into the Furniture Designers Hall of Fame in 1987.

Thursday, August 16

b. chyll

Growing up I lived for the back-to-school September issue of Seventeen Magazine. I treasured (and still do) the autumn season and all the beautiful clothing. It’s ironic that autumn is my favorite time of year, as we usually missed that season altogether growing up in Houston. I would pray for cool weather so that I could wear the sweater, suede boots or wool skirt that never saw the light of day. On a few occasions my prayers were answered, if only for a few early morning or late day hours.

I still look forward to buying fall clothes, however, living in Scotland it’s now more of a necessity than a luxury. Well, I guess that depends on your definition of necessity, my husband would almost certainly argue that my shopping habits lean more towards the luxury end of the spectrum.

He’s probably right. I have just discovered b. chyll, a beautiful line of sweaters (or jumpers if you live in the UK). b. chyll, is a luxury knitwear collection focusing on beauty, form and function. I love their rich, yet subdued use of color. Hmmm…autumn is just around the corner...

Wednesday, August 15

Profile: Ruthie Sommers

Today I am beyond delighted to profile the lovely LA based designer Ruthie Sommers. I just adore her answers and unassuming nature. It must be her North Carolina upbringing. Ruthie’s unique aesthetic is elegant and easygoing, combining European style antique and flea-market finds—a perfect combination.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
I am having a hard time with one person that I would love to meet. There are SOO many! Thomas Jefferson, Sister Parish, President Bush. I would also like to spend the day with Global Warming Specialists.

What is your favorite CD at the moment?
Vertigo Groove Armada

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Luxury is time with my family - Eloise, Luke, Bear and Lilah

What is your most prized possession?
This is hard. I really do not have anything I cannot live without. Everything is disposable in a weird way. Perhaps my store and my wedding memories.

Where is your favorite place(s) to shop?
I love to shop the Paris flea markets, Malmasion in NY, Coconut in NY and
Silverlake in LA on a good day.

Who are your style icons?
Albert Hadley and Audrey Hepburn for their modesty, humility and style.

What did you enjoy most about working on your upcoming book?
I loved designing the photo shoots with my writer Alex Heminway. We had
a blast.

What is your idea of a perfect party?
My idea of a perfect party is not being stressed before guests arrive, my husband actually dealing with the music in advance and not burn anything. 10 friends or 1000, it doesn’t matter, I love a party at my house more than I love going to them!

Profile by Ronda Carman

Tuesday, August 14

British Summers

photo Flickr copyrighted by Smitten Kitchen

Unfortunately it seems that we have missed having a summer in the UK this year. The rain and flooding has been particularly tragic for many in England. This past Saturday our neighbors hosted a party in their lovely garden and it was a complete washout. But in the end we had a great time. Everyone huddled under the green and white marquee, managing to stay dry, and the party went on well into the evening.

But for today I can live vicariously through past photos from British Homes and Gardens. Perhaps I should make a summer pudding while it is officially summer and the berries are still available.

Summer Pudding or Summer Fruit Pudding is a British dessert made of sliced white bread layered in a deep bowl with macerated berries.

1 loaf of good quality, thickly sliced bread
3 pounds of mixed summer berries (raspberries, blueberries strawberries, blackberries, redcurrants)
1 cup of sugar
Zest of 1 lemon (unwaxed)

Wash and pick over the fruit removing any stalks. Butter the inside of a 3-pint pudding mold. Remove crusts from the sliced bread. Line the pudding mold with the bread slices, slightly overlapping each slice so there are no gaps in between them. Press the edges together so the bread forms a complete mold inside the bowl.

In a non-reactive pan, bring the mixed berries, lemon zest and sugar to a gentle simmer, until the sugar is dissolved and the fruits are releasing their juice. This should only take about 5 minutes. You want the fruit to keep its shape. Reserve about 3/4 cup of juice and refrigerate. Pour the rest of the fruit and juice into the bread-lined pudding mold.

Seal the top completely with further, overlapping, slices of bread. Cover the bread with a small flat plate or saucer that fits snugly inside the basin. Weigh down the plate with at least 3lbs of weights or a very heavy can or jar.

Refrigerate overnight. The weight will cause the juice to bleed through the bread staining it red. Before serving, gently slide a flexible spatula between the bread and the mold to loosen. Invert the bowl onto a serving plate.

Use the reserved juice to color any areas that still white. Pour any remaining juice over the top of the pudding. Cut into wedges to serve and pair with fresh whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Monday, August 13

Pretty as a Picture

I adore how great ads have the power to enliven and inspire creative thoughts and energies. I have several ads in my style files that I have saved for no other reason than I love the images. Today I was ripping through old issues of Town & Country and came across three ads that elicited the same inspired feelings as they had five years earlier.

Please tell me I am not the only one who can relate to the grocery shopping photo! If only I could look that stylish while managing children. Enjoy.

Profile: Carmen Reid

Photo by Martin Hunter

This week I’m thrilled to profile my dear friend and author Carmen Reid. Carmen was one of the very first people I meet after moving to Scotland and we instantly clicked. She is a rare breed that is beautiful, funny, intelligent and personable—all traits that come across in her writing. Carmen has just released her fifth book, The Personal Shopper, a fun summer read.

Synopsis—As a personal shopper in a swanky London fashion store, Annie can re-style and re-invent her clients from head to toe. In fact, this super-skilled dresser can be relied on to solve everyone’s problems… except her own. There’s a gap in Annie’s wardrobe – sorry, life – for a new man. But unfortunately, that’s the one accessory that she just can’t find!

What did you enjoy most about writing the Personal Shopper?
Inventing the heroine Annie Valentine. She’s a great character, definitely one of my favourites. Always rushing about trying to make everyone lovely and everything perfect and hopefully snag a bargain while she’s at it. She’s very warm and funny and makes you laugh, but as the book goes on you discover her tragic past. And I’d defy any reader not to shed a tear or two for her.

Was retail therapy required in order to do proper research?
Annie’s The Store is loosely based on the fabulous Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh. It’s just such an over the top glamorous shop. The most beautiful big shop I know. I do like to go round there once in a while for a ‘browse’ which yes, does often involve spending – whoops! - quite a lot more than I intended. (Ronda – aka – All the Best knows all about the dangers of the champagne manicure!)

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I get paid to daydream all day long! As jobs go, it’s really not bad! But don’t attempt being a writer unless you adore sitting at a computer on your own… a lot!

Do your friends or family ever show up in your books?
A little bit. Funny things they’ve said or done… or certain quirky characteristics make an appearance. But I don’t transplant entire people into the fiction. That would be a bit dangerous, I think.

Who is your favorite author(s)?
I have a long list of favourite authors that I’m adding to all the time. Current top five books at my bedside are by: Ernest Hemmingway, JK Rowling, Anne Tyler, Alexander McCall Smith and Bodil Malmsten. You see, now I want to add loads more… but that’s the current top five.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Really smelly, runny French cheese. And a glass of nice wine almost every day.

Who are your personal style icons?
Ooooh good question. There are two actresses’ style I’ve always admired: Uma Thurman and Kirsten Scott-Thomas.

Uma is really tall (like me… but that’s all we have in common sadly) and she dresses in that clean, unfussy way I really like. I’m always noticing in her films how she makes flat shoes work without looking clumpy and she does a good tall girl look which is short skirt with a very long cardigan on top (we flash the legs but look less like storks that way).

Kirsten Scott-Thomas is English but has lived in France for years, so she has got French polish to die for. In ‘Tell No One’ (out at the moment) she’s brilliant and I wanted every single one of her ‘casual chic’ outfits: all unstructured linen trousers, sequined scarves and so on. In the film she’s a tousled blonde lesbian and pulled off that perfect French combo of being unashamedly 40-something but totally foxy.

Where is your favorite place to go on holiday?
France and Italy never let me down. My perfect summer holiday ingredients are hot sun, big waves, unlimited plates of seafood and iced wine.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, August 12

Perfect Bound

photo Karen Wise

I just don’t know when I will find the time to keep up with all the amazing blogs of the world, but I've found a new, beautiful blog! Perfect Bound is a blog dedicated to pretty pictures and is just full of inspiration. You must visit this blog!

Friday, August 10

Jay Jeffers

I just adore Jay Jeffers' sense of style and his playful designs. Jay Jeffers describes his style as “sophisticated fun,” adding, “You don’t have to take it too seriously.” Yet people in the know take Jeffers quite seriously. He was named one of House Beautiful’s top 100 designers of 2005, earned compliments from the celebrities who hung out in the private lounge he designed for the Screen Actors Guild Awards show, and has attracted commissions for residential and commercial projects all over California.

Jay’s bedroom (shown above) for the 30th Anniversary San Francisco Decorator’s Showhouse features an orange, brown and blue color combination, an antique French art deco settee, a gorgeous ormolu-mounted blue glass chest, and custom clawfoot platform bed, designed by Jay. It's simply beautiful!

all photos Jay Jeffers 2007 San Francisco Decorator’s Showhouse

Signature Scents for Men

An encounter with a scent can bring back long-forgotten memories of people and events from our pasts. Just passing someone on the street wearing a certain fragrance can send you back 20 years. If I were standing next to someone on a crowded elevator wearing Aramis I’m sure that it would conjures up memories of my father and long car rides on Sunday afternoons.

If you were a teen in the 1980s you must have had at least one boyfriend that drowned himself in Polo. For me the magical scent of my teen years was Drakkar Noir. That was until Cool Water came along, the ‘unfair advantage’ scent worn by my then boyfriend (now husband). Today I am particularly fond of Herrera, Hummer and Acqua di Parma. Any favorites or special memories?

In all fairness I can't leave out Old Spice, a comforting scent that will always remind me of my grandfather.

Thursday, August 9

Signature Scents

Cult Classic Kiehl's Original Musk Oil

Perfumer Camille Goutal

I have always liked the idea of having a signature scent, but the thought of restricting myself to one perfume is unthinkable. In part that’s because I’m so terrible at limiting myself to any single choice. That goes for most everything in my life, with the exception of my husband. Not to mention the power of scent is undeniable. I own several bottles of perfume, but there are four fragrances that I adore and hold dear to my heart for sentimental reasons: Givenchy Ysatis—first given to me by my husband in 1988 (the year we started dating); Houbigant Quelques Fleurs—worn on my wedding day; Creed Silver Mountain Water—a Christmas gift from my husband; Annick Goutal Mandragore—purchased on our recent trip to Pollensa.

I love beautiful scents and I am always on the lookout for new ones. A few years ago, the online home to Vogue and W, published a list of the top 5 cult scents:
The People of the Labyrinths Luctor et Emergo
Kiehl's Original Musk Oil
Monyette Paris
Apothia IF

To be honest, I have never had the chance to smell any of these fragrances, but I am very curious as to their aroma and what elevates a perfume to cult status. So, what’s your ‘signature scent’ and have you tried any of these coveted fragrances?

If you want to try before you buy Fragrance Net has an extensive selection and offers many (but not all) mini sized bottles.

For unique, one-of-a-kind and hard to find fragrances try Lucky Scent. Lucky Scent also sells samples.