Wednesday, July 23

Domestic Art

One publication that I greatly miss living in the UK is PaperCity—the style and social magazine for Dallas and Houston. The fashion is always fantastic, the photos are sublime and the homes are simply stunning. Plainly put PaperCity is in a league of its own. And so it comes as no surprise that they have teamed with the incomparable Assouline to produce a jaw dropping new book Domestic Art. I am thrilled to be among the first to have a glimpse of the photos and to share a few of them with all of you.

The glamorous Editor-in-Chief Holly Moore, along with the design-obsessed editors Rob Brinkley and Laurann Claridge, have curated 37 fabulous projects, from follies to disciplined mansions, to the oh-so-fashionable home of Ken Downing and Sam Saladino. Other notable interiors include Dominque and John de Menil's international-style house, with its interior by the great couturier Charles James, and Eric Pokesh's glorious color-filled Dallas abode.

Mark your calendars for October 1, you will want this book in your collection! Many thanks to the lovely Laurann Claridge for thinking of me and providing me with an early preview. I can't wait to own this one.

Monday, July 21

Style File: Amy Lagae

Serendipity is a wonderful thing. In recent months I have given much consideration as to how best I should move forward with my blog and pending book. Several ideas have consumed my thoughts and then, by a stroke of good fortune, I met the talented Amy Lagae.

I have often thought about the possible benefits of using a PR firm but the idea of actually making contact was just too daunting. Fortunately, despite her impressive career, Amy dispels any preconceived notions. She is one of the most gracious and unintimidating people I have come across in recent years. Not only is she gracious, she is gorgeous and was named one of the 10 most stylish women in Palm Beach—not a bad title.

Building on a fifteen-year career in public relations and special events, Amy established Avenue Public Relations, a boutique agency specializing in product placement, branding, media consultation and special events. Amy's impressive resume includes positions with Vogue Magazine, House of Lavande, The Orlando Shakespeare Festival, The Henry B. Plant Museum and The University of Florida.

Avenue Public Relations is based in Palm Beach, with plans to open offices in New York and Paris.

What is your favorite fantasy luxury?
A suite at the Georges V in Paris for a month.

What is your favorite reality luxury?
An afternoon by the pool (without cellphones ) with my husband and son.

What is your favorite Handbag?
My Orange Birkin. It's over the top luxury, but I love it.

What is your most prized possession?
Photos of my son taken by Lena Hyde. She's been photographing him since he was 4 days old.

What are your favorite indulgences?
Veuve Cliquot, a nice Bordeaux, Best & Co. clothes for my son, new white t-shirts, late breakfasts at a local diner and French magazines.

What are your all time favorite handbag?
I love the Hermes Kelly. Especially when I see old photographs of Grace Kelly carrying hers. So classic. I'd love to get a Maison Martin Margiela "satin sac" soon. I think they are really modren and fun. I'm also loving the new Fall Valentino collection.

How would you describe your personal Style?
Simple, chic. Michael Kors meets Lanvin with a little DVF thrown in for good measure (and sex appeal).

What is your morning routine?
Kiss my baby, kiss my husband, make coffee, check my emails.

What shoes do you wear most often?
I always wear heels. Always! I love my brown Very Prive pumps by CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN. But my "mom" shoes are Havianas Flips!

What are your must have accessories?
Hermes scarves, jewelry by House of Lavande and carrying my son!!!

What are your must haves for air travel?
Louis Vuitton wraps, Lap top, protein bar and iPod.

Who are your style icons?
Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Natalie Portman, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Catherine Denueve.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Saturday, July 19

Shopping on Saturday

I love amassing tabletop accessories and setting a pretty table. I particularly have a weakness for glassware and decorative items. And when the price is right...well, I can't seem to help myself! Just ask my husband. I already have more steamware than we have cabinet space. But with items as gorgeous and affordable as these two beauties, who wouldn't be tempted?

Horn Cup from Carolyne Roehm
Water buffalo horn is polished and heated, then molded into organically shaped cups. The cup will require a plastic liner if used for a floral arrangement. $15.00

Dot Tumbler from Michael Devine
This 13th century reproduction glass is a fun an elegant addition to any table. $14.00

Friday, July 18

Dining Al Fresco

I love eating outdoors in the summer, yes even in Texas. Perhaps because it has been so chilly in Scotland for the past few months, I have relished every opportunity to soak in the warmth of the sun. During the late afternoon hours I have taken to eating dinner on my parent's patio. Yesterday I picked up a beautiful bottle of Pouilly Fumé (I love it's dryness and mineral flavour) and I made a delicious chilled cucumber soup. It was too yummy not to share with all of you...enjoy!

4 cucumbers peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups plain yogurt
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onions (white and pale green parts only)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

In a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, puree cucumbers, yogurt, sour cream, green onions, dill, olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

It would have been really good topped with crab, maybe next time.

Flickr photo

Tuesday, July 15

Style File: Tracy Smith

Look up the word style and you are certain to find a photo of jewelry connoisseur Tracy Smith. Tracy, founder of House of Lavande, established her one of a kind jewelry business in 2006. Based in Palm Beach she has traveled the world over combing flea markets from Paris to London, amassing a stunning collection of costume jewelry.

Tracy approaches her search for jewelry with the same historical rigor as collectors of vintage fashion. The expertly curated collection, which has been featured in Town & Country, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, contains over 5,000 pieces by such important designers Elsa Schiaparelli, Kenneth Jay Lane, Juliana, Miriam Haskell, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Christian Dior. Without question, Tracy has established a premiere name in vintage collectible costume jewelry.

In November House of Lavande will open their flagship boutique in Palm Beach. Tracy, alongside friend and interior designer Celerie Kemble, are designing an amazing space to showcase House of Lavande’s astonishing jewelry. I for one want to make the trip to Palm Beach for the occasion!

What is your favorite indulgence?
Flying up to New York for the day to get my hair cut and colored at Rita Hazan. I see Adrian Wallace and Juan Carlos.

What items are a must for air travel?
iPod, computer and gummy bears

What accessories can you not live without?
Vintage jewelry of course......and my Tom Ford sunglasses

Which pair of shoes do you wear most?
YSL sandal strap raffia wedges—in them I am the height I’ve always wanted to be 5'10"…without them…well I’m not 5'10"

How would you describe your morning routine?
Coffee, more coffee, then a little more coffee

How would you describe your own personal style?
Romantic and feminine

What is your all time favorite handbag?
A vintage needlepoint bag given to me by my mother-in-law (it was her mother's).

What handbag do you carry most frequently?
My huge Louis Vuitton Olympe Nimbus bag

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Favorite "fantasy" luxury: An afternoon nap which is impossible with 2 kids and a business!! Favorite reality luxury: A long, unhurried al-fresco lunch complete with good friends and champagne.

What is your most prized possession?
My husband and kids; they are my reality check of what is most important in life.

Who are your style icons?
Rachel Bilson, Sienna Miller and Ali McGraw

Profile by Ronda Carman

Monday, July 14

Profile: Tom Cannavan

When we first moved to the West End of Glasgow I used to joke that I felt compelled to be an interesting person in order to live in our neighborhood. I was struck by the number of fascinating and gifted people concentrated in such a small area. Wine expert Tom Cannavan is certainly one of those people who fits in well in the West End. Tom is the founder of the online site Wine-Pages, which features over 25,000 wine tastings notes, hundreds of in-depth features, comprehensive guides and resources covering all manner of food and travel and, of course, wine.

In addition to this Tom is also an experienced international wine judge who has participated in some of the word's most prestigious wine competitions across three continents, including competitions in Australia, Chile, Argentina, France, Germany and the UK.

How did you get your start in wine?
Wine has been a passion for just about as long as I can remember. I am a graduate of Glasgow School of Art, and whilst my student days of the late 1970s and early 80s saw their fare share of inebriated nights watching bands play at the Student Union, once a month a group of us would gather in each other’s houses on a Saturday evening to explore food and wine – cooking experimental stuff and clubbing together to buy the best bottles of wine we could afford.

The passion stayed with me, and in the early 1990s whilst teaching computing at the University of Glasgow, I got my first professional break into writing about wine, with a column in a now defunct lifestyle magazine. Within a few years I had started, one of the world’s pioneering wine web sites, and was picking up a lot of work writing for books, magazines and newspapers.

By the end of the decade I was being stretched more and more between my day-job and wine and food writing, and so I bit the bullet, jacked-in the University career and became a full-time writer. It’s a decision I’ve never regretted!

Do you have a favorite varietal?
I’m often asked for my favourite wine country, region, variety or producer, but it is a question that is genuinely impossible to answer. I’m lucky enough to taste an enormous variety of wines in my job, of all styles and quality levels, maybe tasting 5,000 to 6,000 wines per year. I’ve also travelled the world tasting wine and visiting the wine regions. The subject never ceases to fascinate and challenge me; there are always new things to learn and new wine experiences to enjoy.

It also matters so much on the context of where and when you are drinking a wine: with a fantastic gourmet dinner; in the garden with a barbecue; on its own in a bar with friends. If I’m really pressed, then Pinot Noir is endlessly fascinating for reds, and I love the Semillon grape for both dry and sweet whites.

What do you love most about your work?
The fact that the subject never stands still – new regions open up, new vintages come along, new winemakers burst onto the scene – which keeps this job always interesting. I guess the thing I love most must be the opportunities I have to travel to some of the world’s most interesting and beautiful countries and regions, either on press trips to get to know the winemakers, or to judge at wine competitions.

I don’t suppose there are many people who have the opportunities I do to travel regularly all over the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, all the time accompanied by tasting the finest wines they can produce, usually in the best restaurants and most beautiful places!

What is your favorite luxury in life?
The real answer is time I guess. I’m self-employed and work extremely hard, putting in very long days and huge amounts of work. To have a month without travel, or a few days off with no deadlines to meet, is truly luxurious for me.

What is your most prized possession?
Wine-wise probably a few cases of wine that I own from the famous Burgundy estate of Romanée-Conti. In terms of possessions, I have a beautiful pottery horse from the Han dynasty in China, which has been tested and certified as coming from around 200 BC. It’s not incredibly valuable, but it is a beautiful piece of sculpture that I fell in love when I bought it, and seeing it still gives me enormous pleasure and a sense of wonder every day.

Photo Jim Budd. All rights reserved.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
I lead a very hectic professional life that necessitates a lot of travel and a lot of meeting people in social situations, so my happiest moments tend to be very quiet ones: dinners with close friends and family over some great food and a few nice bottles. That makes me sound severely middle-aged, but of course I refuse to admit that!

What in your opinion is the perfect food and wine pairing?
Something like a slow-braised dish of beef en daube or venison casserole, with a really fine red Burgundy or Rhone wine is heaven. Then again, some crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño with a big plate of garlicky sautéed king prawns is hard to beat.

What is the only other occupation you would consider?
In the real world, I don’t suppose there’s anything I’d rather be doing than this. I know that for someone with my passion for the subject of wine and food I’m extremely lucky to make a living writing about it, and I am genuinely grateful for that. In a fantasy world where I had different skills or talents, I’d be a professional musician of some sort I think. Definitely something in the creative side, as after a voyage of discovery though short periods as a Civil Servant and computer programmer, I realise that’s where I’m happiest.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Saturday, July 12

Shopping on Saturday

I am simply crazy for anything designed by the fabulous Kara Ross! Her jewelry and handbags are modern, elegant and always unique. Here are just a few of my many favorites. The Dea handbags are just the best!

Thursday, July 10

Malcolm Baroway

A Night at Home
Oil on canvas, 24x24

Lobster Boats
Oil on Canvas, 8x10

The Blue Chair
Oil on Canvas

Gourmet Dinnr
Oil on canvas 18 x 24

I love the work of artist Malcolm Baroway. Malcolm's paintings are energetic, refreshingly imaginative and often playful. I particularly love his use of muted tones, whilst still using plenty of color. Certainly he is not a minimalist, yet his renderings can be quietly sparse. My idea of perfection.


Wednesday, July 9

Bargain Book

How about $6.99 for a book bargain! The trench coat has become a cornerstone of the twenty-first century wardrobe and The Trench Book explores the stylish evolution of this outerwear icon. As you would expect from Assouline, this fun little book is filled with great photos. Not to mention that it’s hard to resist at this price!

Saturday, July 5

Shopping on Saturday

I recently discovered the most wonderful website. Roost Living is an online boutique showcasing emerging talent from around the UK.

Roost Living was created in 2007 by founder Laura Binns. Keen to start her own business, Laura decided to marry her greatest interests - craft and shopping. Laura runs her business from her home in North London.

I just adore all of Laura's finds, but I especially love the stunning gold lariat and quartz necklace!

Tangled Web Bowl by Timea Sido
£28.00 (small)£54.00 (large)

Cut Crystal Lariat Necklace

Leather Clutch Bag by Nadia Minkoff

Friday, July 4

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th! It's great to be back in the States and to celebrate our country’s independence with family and friends! Enjoy the day.

Thursday, July 3

House of Lavande

If you have yet to visit the House of Lavande website, then pop over for a visual treat. Each piece of jewelry is unique and lust-worthy. The stylish Kate Schelter named House of Lavande jewelry as one of the accessories she can't live without. House of Lavande also has a great blog and was kind enough to name All the Best as one of their new favorite blogs. What an honor - thank you!

Wednesday, July 2

Beautiful Bedding

A few months back I did a blog post on sheets and thread count that sparked much conversation and comments. Who knew sheets were such a hot topic. Just a few days ago I acquired a beautiful set of SFERRA sheets. The sheets came wrapped in a ton tissue paper tucked inside a beautiful gray and red box. I have opted not to use the sheets until I get back home to Scotland. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to fold them back neatly enough to fit into my luggage. But I did slip the pillow cases on last night before bed. So soft and luxuiroius. Thus far I am impressed…I’ll keep you posted.