Thursday, May 29

Poolside with Slim Aarons

I don't know about you, but I love a bargain! Today I was shopping on when I came across one too good not to share. Right now Poolside with Slim Aarons is listed for $15.00 (retail price is $75!). I have already snatched up a copy for myself!

$15.00 is a steal, but perhaps this may shed some light on the price cut! I just received a wonderful email from the lovely Mary Aarons, Slim's daughter, and thought I would pass an interesting comment on to all of you.

"My dad would have hated that book [Poolside with Slim Arrons]. The production values are not up to his standards, it doesn't have "deep captions" as he preferred. And he would have selected different photos from the ones that Abrams used. My mom and I hope that future books will be published to a better standard!
Have a great summer!
Mary Aarons

Thank you Mary!

Glasgow Art Club

I have just returned home from a most memorable lunch with the lovely artist Connie Simmers. Connie invited me to join her at the Glasgow Art Club. It is a wonderful old club with a fascinating history.

William Dennistoun, a young amateur artist who had been forced by ill health to leave the city, founded the Glasgow Art Club in 1867. William, along with a small group of amateur artists, began holding preliminary meetings in a tearoom above a Candleriggs baker's shop before launching the club in the Waverley Temperance Hotel.

In 1893 the Glasgow Art Club moved to its current day location. A beautiful building that boasts Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s ornamental details in the Artist’s Gallery. The Art Club is well known for exhibiting the work of many brilliant artists.

Many thanks for a wonderful afternoon Connie and enjoy your trip to Italy!

Tuesday, May 27


A traditional boules court in the south of France

When it comes to lawn games and leisure activities the French have the right idea. I spent most of the weekend playing tennis and the game of boules, otherwise known as pétanque, in our back garden. Similar to British lawn bowling or Italian bocce, the French version is traditionally played with metal balls on a dirt surface with a glass of wine or pastis at hand. My kind of game.

Just like horseshoes, boules is extremely simple to play. The game starts with a cochonnet or a small wooden jack. The first player throws the cochonnet (all throwing is underarm) trying to toss the jack 20-30ft (6-10m) down the court. The same player then throws the first boule. The object of the game is to land your boules closer to the cochonnet than those of your opponent. The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel, but can also be played on grass.

The casual form of the game of pétanque is played by 17 million people in France, mostly during their summer holidays, with more than 500,000 players licensed with the Fédération Française de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal (FFPJP). In France, especially Provence, where pétanque originated, it's common for tourists to learn the game from the locals and take a set back home. A great game for the whole family.

Google Images

Monday, May 26

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day to all of my friends, family and readers in the US. Today the sun is shining and it is a bank holiday in Scotland. A perfect day for grilling and playing boules in the back garden. I thought I would share this wonderful photo of Slim Aarons and his daughter. Enjoy your day!

Society photographer Slim Aarons helps his daughter Mary to sustain a headstand, Bedford, New York, 1970. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Saturday, May 24

Shopping on Saturday

With summer approaching I have been thinking and dreaming about garden urns and decorative lawn decor - not pink flamingos - but beautiful aged pieces that reflect French summer homes. Appley Hoare Antiques, a well established shop on Pimlico Road in London, is the place to shop for just such items. Daydreaming is always an option as well. Disclaimer - I have no personal hatred of pink flamingos.

A beautiful hand carved wooden table lamp with aged creamy paint and distressed patina. Made in Italy.

English 19th century cast iron urn on original pedestal.

A large French iron wine bottle dryer on original wheels. Cica 1910

Pair of 18th C Cotswold stone spheres/finials.

Friday, May 23

Estée Lauder

Estee Lauder has been a household name for as long as I can remember. I still have fond memories of my mother taking my sisters and me to Foley's department store on Saturdays. Our first stop was always the Estee Lauder counter to see Mrs. Simms, my mother's favorite saleslady. She was always impeccably dressed and her makeup was sheer perfection. I loved to inhale the mingled scents of Cinnabar and Aramis that hung heavy in the air and test the various lipsticks when my mom wasn't looking.

When I was in the States as few weeks ago I found a copy of Estee, A Success Story, written by Mrs. Lauder in 1985. I read it cover to cover on the flight home. Not only is it filled with fantastic photos and reads like a who's who, but I found it to be very inspirational.

Estee Lauder had the one thing that I believe is key to any successful venture—conviction. She rarely missed the opening of a new store and spent a great deal of time behind the counter, advising customers and teaching the company's Beauty Advisors sales techniques. "I didn't get here by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it," she often reminded her saleswomen.

I especially love the story she tells of slipping off her heels after an extremely busy day at the former Sakowitz store in Houston. She began going over the accounts and realized that she was two dollars short of her $1000 sales goal. It was closing time and without a minute to spare she slipped her shoes on and went into action. In the end she sold enough to reach her desired goal of $1000.

She was a woman of impeccable taste. Perhaps it was her attention to the smallest of details that I most appreciate. I love the fact that she chose the Estée Lauder's signature blue because she believed it would best coordinate with the décor of most bathrooms and bedrooms. While testing colors for her bottles she would go into friends bathrooms and test colors against the wallpaper and tiles. She was truly a remarkable woman and one after my own heart.

Middle Image - World Journal Tribune photo by Bill Sauro
Bottom Image - Town & Country March 1974 photo by Fred J. Maroon

Thursday, May 22

Luss Photo Tour

One of my favorite stops on the way to the Highlands is the picturesque village of Luss on the west bank of Loch Lomond. It is one of the obligatory stops when we play tour guide to our out of town guests.

Through the heart of the village runs a narrow street flanked by lovely cottages. The village was once known as Clachan Dubh (the dark village) because of its mountain setting which steals two hours of sunlight in the evenings, particularly in the winter time.

Many of the cottages that distinguish Luss were originally erected to house workers in the cotton mill and slate quarries of the 18th and 19th centuries. The homes have been fully restored and Luss has been designated a "Conservation Village". Oh, how I would love to own one some day. A perfect little holiday cottage!

The streets of the village are laid out in a linear pattern with the main street running down to the shore of Loch Lomond and Luss Pier. The views from the pier and shore are stunning.

A visit to Luss is not complete with out stopping by the Coach House Coffee Shop for tea and scones. Normally when we visit it is either cold or rainy (imagine!) so we crowd around the fire and sit at one of the tables made from salvage packing crates. This time however it was warm and sunny, so we sat on the patio.

Just last week we had the pleasure of meeting the lovely owner Rowena Ferguson and her adorable Schnauzer named Parsley. Parsley and our wee Schnauzer Izzie got on fabulously.

I know our son has been fully immersed in the Scottish culture when he proudly breaks into song and serenades everyone in the car as we drive into the village…
By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond…

Wednesday, May 21

Profile: Josephine Sasso

I first became aware of fashion designer Josephine Sasso shortly after I profiled her talented husband, Peter Callahan, back in January. Her playfully tailored dresses and use of colorful geometric patterns instantly won me over. When we began corresponding early in the year, preparing a profile for All the Best, I had no idea the depths to which her talents extend.

Needless to say I was stunned and more than pleasantly surprised to see her interior design work in this month’s domino. I was sure that it had to be the same Joesphine Sasso, but I emailed just to be certain! Like the clothes she designs, Josephine mixes colors and patterns so well throughout her home. I am simply mad for the color red and anyone who knows me can attest to my obsession with stripes, black & white and symmetry. All of my favorite combinations in one place—truly a visual delight!

I have a feeling this is not the last we will see of her interiors and I would not be the least bit surprised to learn of other hidden talents. For those lucky enough to live near Adrmore, Pennsylvania, you can view her stunning clothes and unique bridesmaid dresses at her eponymous shop.

How would you describe your personal style?
I like the innocence of debutante mixed with a dash of bordello.

What is your signature trademark?
In fashion it is one of a kind dresses. I break all the fashion rules by designing daily new pieces that are often only done once.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Free time

What is your most prized possession?
My 7 year old daughter Juliet

Past or present what designers have influenced you and in what ways
Courrèges, for creating white go-go boots, you have got to love dressing for men.

Do you find the principals of clothing design transfer easily to interior design
Yes, fabrics used the right way, dress a room as stunningly as any woman.

Do you see yourself moving more into interior design
My life flows in an organic way. Design is a central theme to my life, and houses are a natural extension of that process.

Who are your style icons
Andrew Wyeth who is my mother’s first cousin.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
Jimmy Page, listening to his music.

What is your favorite travel destination
A deserted tropical island with my husband.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Tuesday, May 20

Profile: Kara Mann

Chicago based Kara Mann seems to be taking the design world by storm. Merging her background in fashion, art and design, Kara creates gutsy, unexpected interiors that perfectly mix both modern and traditional elements. A native of Evanston, IL, Kara studied art at Tulane University and later continued her education at Harrington Institute of Design.

Since opening her namesake firm, Kara Mann Design (KMD) in 2005, Kara has been recognized by Metropolitan Home as a part of the 2007 Design 100; domino magazine’s 2007 top 10; and Western Interiors and Design The List 2007. On top of her game, Kara recently founded her Chicago showroom, KARA MANN, LTD., featuring a wonderful mixture of modern and classic pieces.

I love the way Kara juxtaposes light and dark colors and integrates curious objects, while maintaining the comfort and luxury of a space. She’s not afraid to break the mold, but is mindful of timeless styles—very chic Ms. Mann!

What inspires your creativity?
The amazing team I work with everyday at KMD.

Who would you most like to work with on a project?
I would love to collaborate with Chrome Hearts designer, Richard Stark. He is a constant inspiration.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Space and time.

What is your most prized possession?
My Christian Dior men’s tuxedo.

Who are your style icons?
Vivian Westwood and Kate Moss

Who would you most like to meet and how would you send the day?
I would love to spend the day with Karl Lagerfeld riffling through materials for his next collection… but I wouldn’t say no to lounging on a yacht with Jay-Z and Beyonce.

How would you describe your personal style
Biker chick goes to Fashion Week.

What is your idea of earthy happiness?
Playing with my dog, Chopper, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
No books. Just stacks and stacks of French Elle Décor and Australian Vogue Living.

What is the one thing in life you can't live without
My Agatha jeans.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Monday, May 19

The George Hotel Inverary

We first had dinner at the George Hotel in Inverary on our first visit to Scotland in December 2004. It was exactly what I had imagined and hoped for in a Highland hotel. The stone floors, roaring fires and delicious seafood sold me on the place immediately. It wasn’t until a year later, after moving to Scotland, that we booked a room for an overnight stay.

Hotel is an absolute delight and has been run by the same family since the 19th century. It is the must go to spot for all of our out of town guests. The hotel is a classic 18th Georgian building overlooking the main street of Inverary and a stone's throw from the beautiful shores of Loch Fyne.

Of course being a pet friendly hotel and pub is a big plus in my book. The rooms are huge (especially by British standards) and the bathrooms are well appointed. The mixture of tartan carpets, antiques and oil paintings all add to the ambiance. Certainly the beds are not the best in the world, but with all of the other perks and charm I tend to overlook that one fault.

The George Hotel beer garden is a lively haunt for both local characters and visitors alike with a wide choice of real ales, 100 malt whiskies and an extensive wine list. The garden is particularly nice on a bright sunny day like to ones we have been witnessing lately.

Perhaps my favorite part of the stay is breakfast in the conservatory-style room at the rear of the hotel. In my opinion the breakfast is legendary. A full Scottish breakfast (if you are brave), Loch Fyne kippers, smoked haddock, cereal, croissants and yogurt are all included in the cost of the room. The hotel is extremely popular and books up months in advance. I highly recommended this little jewel and yes we will be back very soon.

Saturday, May 17

Shopping on Saturday

Sorry for the delay in posting. We have friends visiting from the States and went up to the Highlands for a few day. For us, no tour of Scotland is complete without an overnight stay in the village of Inverary. I will have a complete profile on The George Hotel in Inverary (our favorite) on Monday. The George uses locally made Purdie's toiletries throughout the hotel. Last June Purdie's opened their first retail shop in the village. Of course I had to stop in on the way out of town for a few products to take home.

Glengoyne Malt Whisky & Ginger Liquid Soap. Specially made for distilleries the soap contains no Parabens or colouring. Great for sensitive skin. £7.95

Sweet Orange Dead Sea Salt. Salts have been used for thousands of years as a natural cleanser and preserver. Great too for detoxing and relaxing aching limbs. £6.95

Highland Healing Cream. Packed full of healing butters and oils. £8.95

Wednesday, May 14

Guest Interviewer for Decorati

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I am working on various new and exciting projects. The one that I am most excited about is my recent collaboration with Decorati. As the guest interviewer for Decorati I will be interviewing some wonderfully talented people in the design industry. My first interview with Angela Free is now posted on the Decorati website.

If you are unfamiliar with Decorati you must visit their site. Decorati
is the leading resource for high-end interior design products and designer portfolios. I have spent hours searching the rapidly expanding online showrooms and photo library of designer projects. It is a great resource for the design professionals and design enthusiasts alike.

Monday, May 12

Profile: Connie Simmers

'Lock Gate' (acrylic on canvas)

I am crazy for the work of Scottish artist Connie Simmers. Based in Kilearn, near Loch Lomond, Connie’s beautiful work has been exhibited throughout Britain.

Born and educated in Glasgow, Connie took advantage of non-diploma courses offered at the Glasgow School of Art. She attended the art school from 1981 to 1983, began exhibiting in 1984 and had her first solo show in 1989.

Connie’s work graces many public and private collections across Europe. I hope to have one in my own home someday. I think her work would look brilliant in our hallway. I especially love 'Lock Gate' - stunning!

'Highland Smoke House' (mixed media on board)

What artists, historical or contemporary, do you most admire?
Historical: Picasso, Tapies, Chagall, Matisse, Diebenkorn, Nicolas de Stael, Joan Eardley. Contemporary: Jimmy Robertson, Barbara Rae

What inspires your art and ideas
Travel has played a large part - an excuse to use colour. I always try to see subject matter differently. I like shapes and colour i.e. harbours, urban material and people.

What is your most prized possession
My home

What is the one thing in life you can’t live without?
My family and my car

'Graffiti Man' (acrylic on canvas)

What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
Scottish Arts Club prize, Visual Arts Club prize and represented at National 50 Over 50 Exhibition at Brighton.

What is your idea of earthly happiness
A good marriage, a happy family and contentment.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction
Atticus in To Kill a Mocking Bird. Jung Chang in Wild Swans. Shirin Ebadi in Iran Awakening. Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks.

'Cloths Drying in the Wind, West Africa' (mixed media on board)

What books are on your bedside table?
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. The Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux.

What do you enjoy most about your work
The surprises - maybe an unexpected sale - winning a prize in an open exhibition - meeting people in art world - dealing with galleries.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Saturday, May 10

Shopping on Saturday

Nothing says summer like sexy sandals, a big bold hat and a great tote bag. I especially love all of these accessories even more when made from natural materials—hand-knit raffia, cork, straw, wood and wicker. Simply Stunning!

Platform Heels with Straw Bow by Bruno Frisoni
Sensational summer showstoppers. Slick patent slingbacks sit atop a 4½" stiletto heel, topped with an oversized straw bow. $1,045.00

Cork Allegra Bag by Vivre
The Allegra bag is named for Eva Jeanbart Lorenzotti’s daughter. Finished in cool cork flecked with metallic gold for endless summer appeal and durability. $275.00

Metallic Mesh Belt with Ebony Closure by Ports 1961
Metallic mesh wraps around the natural waist and is tipped with two oversized ebony clasps. $325.00
Fortissimo Hollywood by Kokin
Hand-knit raffia from Madagascar is the go-anywhere essential for even the sunniest locales. Tied bow accent. $295.00

Wood and Shell Bangle by Kenneth Jay Lane
Natural materials and a sleek design make this bangle an ideal choice for summer. Light wood with shell studs. $60.00

Friday, May 9

Fourth Annual Design on a Dime Charity Event

James Huniford, Designer, Sills Huniford; Kristin van Ogtrop, Managing Editor, Real Simple; Charles King; President, Housing Works; Maggie Gyllenhaal, actress; Thom Filica, designer, Thom Filicia inc. (Photo Demetrius Kambouris)

I know you will be seeing this on many of the blogs, but I felt it was a worthwhile event and one worthy of keeping in the public eye.

Co-chairs Maggie Gyllenhaal, designer James Huniford and Real Simple’s managing editor Kristin van Ogtrop hosted the fourth-annual Design on a Dime charity event to benefit Housing Works, the nation's largest community-based AIDS-service organization, last night.

Thirty top-notch designers, including Sills Huniford, Thom Filicia, Charlotte Moss and Jamie Drake, created unique room vignettes. All items used in the vignettes were available for purchase at 60-80% off the retail price. All proceeds from the sale benefited Housing Works.

Housing Works, New York City’s largest community-based AIDS organization was founded in 1990 and provides housing, medical care, job training and other lifesaving services to homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.

Thursday, May 8

Pub Culture

Last night I meet a few of my favorite girlfriends at the local pub for a few glasses of wine. It was a most wonderful evening. For the past three days we have had glorious warm weather, sunshine and blue skies—not always the norm in Scotland. Growing up in Texas I took for granted little rain and warm weather on a daily basis. In fact, by September I was praying for cool, crisp days.

As you can imagine, we were not the only ones at the pub looking for an outdoor table. I had to circle like a hawk waiting for people to leave. But it was well worth the wait to sit outside, sip cold white wine and catch up with friends.

I must admit that I quite like the pub culture that exists here in the UK. It’s an integral part of the British culture—a place where you can bring the dog, go alone to read the paper, gather to meet with neighbours and gossip with friends in a relaxed atmosphere. Cheers!

All photos from flickr