Sunday, May 31

Salad on Sunday: Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pesto Dressing

I guess all mothers have their favorite saying, the one your child can recite by heart (while rolling their eyes). “Success and happiness in life all depend on how well you deal with Plan B,” is my standard refrain. Yesterday this proved to be true (once again). Our son competed in his first fencing competition in the seaside resort of Largs, a small town in North Ayrshire, Scotland.

After a long and exciting tournament we were more than ready to head home. Whilst waiting at the train station it was announced that our train was delayed by more than an hour. We could hear the groans around us. Instead of getting upset, we decided to go for a wee walk in the sun and find a place to have a bite to eat. Much to our delight, we stumbled upon the charming Bean and Leaf Café. I opted for their roasted tomato and warm goat cheese salad with pesto dressing. Seriously, it was one of the best lunches ever! I am now trying to recreate my own version. What could have been a very long and tedious wait, turned out to be a pleasant memory.

postscript—Mason took 3rd place.

A carton or two of Cherry or small Roma tomatoes
Olive oil
Fresh rosemary to taste
Sea salt

1 12 ounce log Montrachet goat cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2-cup breadcrumbs combined with 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh thyme, sage, oregano and basil leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups mixed salad greens

Preheat oven to 225°F. Halve each tomato crosswise and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes with a small about of olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs and salt.

Bake the tomatoes in the oven for about three hours. You want the tomatoes to be shriveled with just a bit of juice. Keep warm.

Slice the Montrachet log into 12 equal size disks. Dredge each disk of goat cheese with flour then egg then seasoned breadcrumbs. Heat a sauté pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and quickly cook the cheese on both sides. When all the cheese slices have been cooked, divide among 4 plates of mixed salad greens with roasted tomato halves. Top with Pesto Dressing (see below).

Pesto Dressing:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons walnut oil (optional)
1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a food processor pulse fresh basil walnuts, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese, 4-5 times. Add olive oil and optional walnut oil, and process for about 10 seconds, until mixture is finely chopped but not pureed. Should be the consistency of dressing.

Friday, May 29

Yves Saint Laurent: Villa Oasis

What I wouldn’t give to be sipping mint tea in Marrakech today. Suffering from a summertime cold, I awoke early this morning and started leafing through The Elle Book of Decoration (2001). I borrowed it from a friend last week and I am deeply enamored with every page.

A perspective on French design, the book explores the work and influences of contemporary designers, including Philippe Starck, Didier Gomez, Christian Liagne, Andree Puttman and Jacques Grange. It also includes past homes of Loulou de la Falaise, Kenzo, Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.

I was particularly thrilled to find these amazing images of Villa Oasis and Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Gardens), originally designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle. In 1980 Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé purchased the garden and restored it to its original splendor, leaving it open to the public. When Saint Laurent passed away in 2008, his ashes were spread in the garden.

A palette of blues and greens inspired by Henri Matisse graces the drawing room. The finely wrought stucco and top moldings in 'zelliges' are original to the home.

An Arts and Crafts writing and drawing desk.

A corner of the bedroom boasts Syrian furniture inlaid with mother of pearl, and Anglo-Indian armchair and French chandelier (18th century).

A spacious terrace opens to the extraordinary garden.

The 'Menzeh' is the most informal room at Villa Oasis. The view overlook the garden and the pond designed by Majorelle in the 1920's.

Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech, 1976.

Thursday, May 28

A Candid Conversation with Vicente Wolf

A very limited number of Vicente Wolf’s stunning Namibia photos remain. I have had several requests for more details about the photos and many have asked to see larger, higher resolution images. I have included a few of my favorites. You can enlarge each photo by clicking on the image. You really must, the details are just brilliant! I have also included a recent and candid conversation with the inimitable Vicente Wolf.

These photos were all shot in Sossusvlei with you enduring a fractured arm. I guess at the very least it makes for an interesting backstory.

Yes, shortly after my arrival in Namibia I fractured my arm and bruised my face when I lost control of a quad bike going down a steep dune. After some time at the doctor’s office and traveling with my arm in a sling through Namibia for almost two weeks I arrived at Sossusvlei, the largest ecological preserve in Africa. Inspired by the incredible color of the enormous sand dunes and the austerity of the environment, I started to photograph for the first time during my trip.

Really, Sossusvlei was the first place you shot photos after 2 weeks in Namibia? How long did it take to capture these six images?

I know, hard to believe but true. These shots were all done in one day. After driving three hours from our camp (before sunrise), we walked for 25 minutes, sidestepping the tracks of snakes and lizards, just as the sun was rising to give us the full play of light over sand dunes. It started with me snapping some shots and ended in a full day of exhilaration where color, graphicness and a sense of awe combined to create these images.

In composing these shots I started with the surreal quality that these dried out trees gave the environment and from there composed different setting. As the sun came over Big Daddy - the highest dune of the lot, rising more than 1,000 feet (300m) at a 45 degree angle – a full light show took place, altering the perspective of the environment and turning dried grasses into radiant torches of light.

Namibia is a minimalist’s dream.

From the moment I saw the photos I was struck by the colors. They are so vivid and the shades of reds are truly stunning.

The colors really are just amazing. Namibia is considered to be the oldest desert in the world, having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for at least 80million years. The red coloring of the sand is an indication of its age. Slow iron oxidization and fragments of garnets cause the color change – the older the dune, the brighter its color. The other thing that you only realize when you’re standing in front of the dune is the sheer size of these sand piles. It could take you an hour to climb to the top of a sand dune.

The images are both beautiful and surreal. You must have been overwhelmed by the vastness and beauty.

Overwhelmed and enraptured. Namibia is one of the most beautiful and surreal environments that I have ever encountered. Standing in the blazing sun, looking at the enormity of the dunes around me and the shadows cast by stark trees, as the sun turn shadowed sands into a mirage of orange, red and mauve I realized that as a traveler, you suffer airport delays for moments like these.

If you would like more details, you can contact Susan Moolman, Director of Public Relations for Vicente Wolf ( You can view all of the photos on our dedicated webpage. There is a limited run of three (3) prints per image. All prints available in two sizes (24” x 30” - $1,700.00) and (18” x 24” - $1,400.00). The frame options are white or black.

Tuesday, May 26

Profile: Philip Gorrivan

Exuberant interiors with a hint of restraint could easily sum up the work of Manhattan based interior designer Philip Gorrivan. But to do so would be selling both Philip and his innate talent very short.

Philip excels at blending the classics with unexpected twists—antiques, interesting art and open spaces, with a balance of soft and bright colors are all hallmarks of his style.

Perhaps what I love the most about Philip’s work, and what surprised me the most, is his background and his road to interior design. Before opening his firm in 2001 he spent time in publishing and venture capital. One of his first projects was for the descendant of an important American family of philanthropists and art collectors. “She said to call her if I ever decided that I wanted to be in interior design. I called her a week later and then her neighbor hired me, followed by another neighbor,” Philip recalls.

At that time interior design was just a hobby. It all changed after September 11, 2001. Both Philip and his wife were scheduled to attend an afternoon meeting in one of the Twin Towers—a meeting that was never to occur. After the life altering event and the loss of many friends, he decided that life is way too short to work for the sake of only making money. With no formal study of design, and a passion for creating interiors, Philip set out on his own.

His work has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, websites, as well as radio and television. This includes The New York Times, House and Garden, Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Real Simple, New York Spaces, Cottages and Gardens publications, New York Social Diary, CNN, Martha Stewart Radio and 1st In 2007 Philip was chosen as one of House and Garden’s top tastemakers.

In January 2008, Philip launched his first designer fabric collection in conjunction with the Highland Court Division of Duralee, entitled Philip Gorrivan for Highland Court. Not surprisingly, the collection has received much praise.

How would you describe your own personal style?
Elegant and tailored, traditional to hip.

What inspires your creativity and designs
Travel, nature and my children.

What is your most prized possession?
I prize my children, although I don’t consider them a possession.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
My family...and my blackberry!

Who are your style icons?
Billy Baldwin, David Hicks, Jean Michel Frank and Jean Royere.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
David Adler or Wallace Neff.

What books are currently on your bedside table
Hans Fallada Every Man Dies Alone and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

What is your favorite luxury in life?

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Sound spiritual beliefs.

Who has most influenced your direction in life?
My parents and my wife.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Monday, May 25

Happy Memorial Day

I will be thinking of everyone in the States today as you attend parades, picnics and memorial services to remember and honor our military men and women who have died in battle.

Last year I posted this wonderful photo of Slim Aarons and his daughter Mary. Much to my delight, Mary emailed me to share more information about this photo and her iconic father.

“Your timing of this photo is quite fitting. My dad died the day after Memorial Day. Oh how he loved his window boxes. Each week he would spend hours planting geraniums and vinca.”

In addition to his celebrated status as a society photographer, Aarons enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 18, working as a photographer at West Point. He later served as a combat photographer in World War II earning a Purple Heart.

Photo by Lorita "Rita" Dewart Aarons (1968 or 1969).

Sunday, May 24

Salad on Sunday: Lemon and Herbs Potato Salad

For me, few things scream summer like fresh basil and potato salad. I love regional variations on this simple concoction. I am forever searching for new and interesting potato salad recipes. If you have any favorites feel free to share!

3 pounds baby red potatoes
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
sea salt and cracked pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

Bring potatoes to boil in large pot of water. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 17 minutes. Drain; let stand until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.

Cut potatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. In large bowl add a layer of potatoes and sprinkle with a tablespoon of vinegar, sea salt and cracked pepper. Continue layering potatoes with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add remaining ingredients and gently toss until well incorporated.

Serves 8

Saturday, May 23

Shopping on Saturday: Thornwillow Press

I have gotten away from my Shopping on Saturday posts, but after a bit of nudging and a few emails, I thought I would bring it back. I have such a soft spot for books, beautiful paper and the written word. I still fondly remember a charming box of stationery that I received as a wedding gift, embossed with my new initials, and a beautiful hand-bound book from my father-in-law. In this day of mostly disposable and intangible communications, it is exciting to find a company that is both purveyors of fine stationery and creator of limited-edition books that are of the highest quality.

For quite sometime I have been hearing about Thornwillow Press, and was thrilled when Peter Pennoyer introduced me to the founder Luke Ives Pontifell. While in New York I had lunch with Peter, Luke and Melissa Morris. Luke’s love and passion for his craft are readily apparent and it was fascinating to hear the story of how it all began.

In 1985, still in high school, Luke founded Thornwillow Press. Inspired by a course in printing and binding, and the old books in his parents’ library, he set out to produce books himself. During his summer vacations from Harvard, Luke would print and bind books, slowly building a small following of collectors. After graduating and with four titles on his list, he found that what had started as a labor of love had evolved into a small business.

In addition to books, Thornwillow Press also designs and manufactures fine paper and stationery. Their team of master engravers and letterpress printers are dedicated to producing superior correspondence papers. Here are a few of my favorites. Also, look for a profile on Luke in the upcoming week.

Seahorse Place Cards
16 engraved heavy flat place cards (2 1/2″x 3 1/2″) in signature Foxglove Yellow Centennial box. $28.00

Walking Crab Antique Roman Fill-in Invitation
10 engraved heavy flat cards (5 1/2″ x 7 1/2″) with 10 tissue-lined envelopes in signature Foxglove Red box. $40

Florida Palm Note cards
10 engraved heavy flat cards (5 1/2″ x 7 1/2″) with 10 tissue-lined envelopes. $45

Thursday, May 21

All the Best LIST

Please welcome the newest additions to the accomplished LIST of talents. I do hope the All the Best LIST will become your personal online Rolodex. By clicking each photo in the right-hand column you can learn more about each person, visit their website and view photos of their work. Each person is selected for the LIST based on an assortment of criteria to ensures the LIST offers a variety of talents, interests, tastes and perspectives.

Thomas Burak: Interior Designer; Creative Genius; Host Extraordinaire
Home: Gramercy Park, New York City; Kinderhook, NY

Sally Horchow: Lifestyle Expert; Journalist; Entrepreneur
Home: Hollywood; Malibu; Nantucket

Elizabeth Mayhew: Lifestyle Expert; Epicurean; Author
Home: New York City; Millbrook, NY

Michelle Nussbaumer: Interior Designer; Tastemaker; World Traveler
Home: Dallas, Texas; Switzerland; Mexico

Marcia Sherrill: Designer; Style Maven; Tastemaker; Author
Home: New York City; Atlanta

Christopher Spitzmiller: Ceramic Artist; Chicken and Bee Keeper
Home: New York City; Millbrook, NY

Wednesday, May 20

Profile: Christopher Spitzmiller

I know that I am not alone in my admiration of Christopher Spitzmiller and his beautiful cerulean blue and plummy brown glazed lamps. Most of us design aficionados are enamored with his one of a kind creations. I have been corresponding with Chris for quite some time, and thanks to Amanda Nisbet we finally had the opportunity to meet last month.

If I weren’t already a fan of the prolific potter before my trip to New York, meeting Chris in person sealed the deal. Kind, charming and unassuming are all befitting descriptions and, if Anthony and my husband will forgive me one more adjective, Chris is adorable too. And, how can you not like someone with dogs named Happy and Suzy Spitzmiller? That is the icing on the cake.

With a passion for art and a desire to start his own business, Christopher graduated from St. Lawrence University and continued his fine arts study at the Rhode Island School of Design and at Central St. Martins College of Art in London. Following his dream he setup shop in an old school near Washington D.C. and worked as a summer artist in residence for Mecox Gardens in Southampton. His artistic skills soon became widely apparent, attracting commissions from Albert Hadley, Richard Keith Langham and Suzanne Rheinstein.

In the fall of 1999, after outgrowing his Washington space, Chris moved his studio to New York City. A decision he calls, “one of the most important turning points in my life.” Each of his lamps beholds a timeless appeal and luxurious quality. Unique, classically formed and vibrant make Christopher Spitzmiller lamps as appealing as the man behind the name.

What career decision you are most proud of?
Moving to New York City was probably one of the most important turning points in my life. I grew up in East Aurora, New York, which is a small rural town outside of Buffalo. I remember the first people I met living in New York – they all seemed so excited about being in the city as if it was something they had been dreaming of their whole lives. That wasn’t me. Growing up, I had no aspirations to move to the great metropolis, but now I am very glad I did.

I actually started my business in Georgetown, Washington DC. When I outgrew my studio, I needed to move to a larger space. The most sensible and most daunting decision I made was to come to New York. The first few years of settling in and finding the right people to work in the studio were hard. A year or two into it, I almost gave up. I am so grateful to have stuck it out. New York is a challenging city to live in, but it is worth the effort because of the access it grants you to so many interesting and talented people.

What is your most prized possession?
I love animals...Happy and Suzy Spitzmiller are my two Labradors and among my greatest joys. Second would be my flock of chickens. They provide constant companionship, friendship and fascination.

What is one thing in life you cannot live with out?
My boyfriend, Anthony Thompson, who provides me with more kindness and encouragement than I could ever hope for. Secondly, would be Elizabeth Satterlee, who keeps my business moving and flowing better than I ever could myself.

Who are your style icons?
John Fowler, Evangeline Bruce and Albert Hadley. They all have had important influences on my work and the design choices I value in my everyday life.

With whom would you most like to collaborate on a project?
I spent most of my early career working on my own or with decorators. But in the last few years, I have found a deep level of satisfaction collaborating with two other artists. It has been an amazing and rewarding experience¬ where we can each inspire the other in ways we might not have just working alone.

Clare Potter came into my life about two years ago; she is an extraordinarily talented sculptor in her own right with an emphasis on botanicals and other elements of nature. For projects we do together, I hand throw lamps and vases and then she adorns them with the most beautiful, lifelike ceramic flowers I have ever seen. The final creations are truly one of a kind works of art.

Last year Roy Hamilton, a potter who lived in Los Angeles for over 30 years, moved back to New York to work from my studio. Roy makes pieces that are similar to mine, however, his works are highly textured having been influenced by his early career in textiles. Each of his creations are painstakingly decorated with slip patterns unlike anything I have ever seen. I am incredibly lucky to be able to work with both Clare and Roy. I feel we complement each other very well and provide each other with constant inspiration.

What books are currently on your bedside table
I just finished Meryl Gordon’s Mrs. Astor Regrets, a Christmas gift from Anthony. I loved it. You will also find, Rick & Gail Luttmann’s Chickens in Your Back Yard. The reason I have this book needs no explanation! I also have a copy of Carleton Varney’s There’s No Place Like Home: Confessions of an Interior Designer. I have a lot of respect for Carleton’s work and his son, Sebastian, is a good friend of mine. Perfect Picnics by Gail Monaghan is at my bedside; she is an excellent chef and a close friend. Other books include, Robert Dash’s Notes from Madoo: Making a Garden in the Hamptons and Nancy Koehn’s Brand New: How Entrepreneurs Earn Consumers’ Trust from Wedgwood to Dell.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
A well made bed with really good, hand ironed sheets…and time to sleep on them!

What inspires your ideas and design?
I am drawn to objects that bring comfort. While you can’t really curl up with a pair of my lamps, they do give visual comfort in their light, color and form. I love the fact that each one is traditionally created right here in New York City. My lamps are handmade and hand glazed with hand turned bases custom fit to each one. Each base is hand finished in gilt or mahogany. The lamps are then electrified with the best fittings I can get my hands on. All of these custom components come together to create an object that is very much more than the sum of its parts.

I try to make a style of lamp that can be used in both traditional and contemporary settings – a design that people hopefully won’t outgrow. I remember when my friend Liz O’Brien, a well known dealer in mid-century and modern works, paid me one of my biggest complements. As she was describing me to someone, she said, “Chris makes lamps that I will be buying and selling for years to come.”

What is your idea of earthly happiness
In winter, I love being by a fireplace with real wood burning; I love the warmth and smell that remains in a room even long after the fire has gone out. In the summer, I like working in my garden for long periods of time. And all throughout the year, I enjoy being at the potter’s wheel, alone in the studio with no one else there. Those are the times when I get the most done and feel the most satisfied.

Who would you most like to meet
I would have liked to have met Diego Giacometti; I have great admiration for his work. I would have loved to have met Julia Child who had an enthusiasm and gusto for life that were truly inspiring. When I went to see her kitchen, which is now installed in the Smithsonian Museum, it was like going to Mecca for me. I have met Elaine Stritch and would like to know her better; I admire her the way she has chosen to live to her life. One day, I would like to meet Barack Obama, a man who has inspired not only me, but so many others.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Photo Credit:
Photo 1 & 2 Jeffrey Hirsch (New York Social Diary)
Photo 3 Amanda Nisbet
Photo 4 Tobi Fairley

Tuesday, May 19

The LIST: Robert and Cortney Novogratz

My stack of books to read and review keeps growing by the day. This is by no means a complaint! In fact, I can think of few other ‘problems’ I enjoy more than having to find time to pour over new books and beautiful images. Over the weekend I decided that I would set aside a few hours in the afternoon each Sunday to play catch up, with a goal of posting book reviews on Tuesday.

This past Sunday I decided to start with Robert and Cortney Novogratz’s new book Downtown Chic. I made myself a pot of tea and returned to the lounge only to find my 12-year-old son lying across the sofa, flipping through the pages. “This book is so cool,” he muttered, starring at the photos. His current obsession (and college major of the month) is architecture and ‘saving’ old buildings. An idea that appeals to him in the abstract, but was brought to life through the pages of Downtown Chic.

Downtown Chic is a visual montage of the abandoned buildings across Manhattan (plus a country house in Massachusetts and a beach house in Brazil) that Bob and Cortney have transformed into beautiful living spaces. Describing their signature style as a sophisticated but bohemian mix of high and low, new and old, they offer their realistic advice on how to create original, warm interiors with ease.

One part practical guide, one part inspirational volume, the book mixes humorous anecdotes with insider tips. Each before and after shot document the agony and ecstasy of any renovation project. The only complaint came from my son when I told him the Novogratzs sold his favorite home in the book and had just moved into a new place (I missed the housewarming by 2 days—damn!). “Why would anyone sell a home with a rooftop basketball court?” No need to worry, Bob has assured him that the new house has a full size indoor court.

Book review by Ronda Carman

Monday, May 18

Profile: Alexa Hampton

''I have absolutely no interest in a trademark style,'' the late, great Mark Hampton once declared. Yet, classic, comfortable interiors became his hallmark. It was these traits and his impressive clientele including Anne Bass, Brooke Astor, Estee Lauder (for whom he decorated three houses) and Mike Wallace that made him an icon of American design and one of the nation's most sought-after decorators.

Like her late father, Alexa Hampton, President of Mark Hampton, Inc., possesses the same gifts and rare abilities to make classic design both extraordinarily beautiful and exceedingly comfortable. At the young age of thirteen, Alexa began her informal training by apprenticing at the family firm.

Following her father’s untimely death Alexa took on the role of President and featured designer of the iconic Manhattan based firm. Under her direction and judicious eye the renowned design firm continues to excite and delight clients and design enthusiasts around the globe.

An accomplished painter and renderer, who preserves these traditional techniques in her office, Alexa completed her graduate work in art history at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy, and New York.

Widely credited as one of the top tastemakers in her field, she is also the creator of a growing collection of licensed home furnishings that bears her name. Grounded in both traditional and eclectic interiors, Alexa has been named one of the ‘AD 100’ by Architectural Digest every year since 1992. Her work regularly appears in national publications including, Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Quest, W and Vogue.

House Beautiful once described Alexa as, “A modern spirit with a soft spot for old-fashioned good taste.” A most fitting combination.

How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic, informed by classicism and pragmatic.

What inspires your creativity and designs
I kid you not...everything! From lowbrow media like television shows to highbrow influences like architecture and art.

What are your most prized possessions?
Family photos.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
My Family (and spanx!!!)

Who are your style icons?
Mark Hampton, David Adler, Frances Elkins, David Hicks, Albert Hadley and Bill Blass.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
I would like to work with a smart developer who would have me design and furnish a hotel in the manor of an extremely luxurious private residence.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
New Moon by Stephanie Myers
The Gianni Versace Lake Como Sale Catalog for Sotheby’s London
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

What is your favorite luxury in life
A good night’s sleep.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Past or present who most influenced your direction in life?
My father.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
The answer to this question changes with some regularity. Right now…I would love to meet President Obama, and I would love to spend the day talking to him. Also…I would like to spend the day with Bernie Madoff and ask him, “How dare he…”.

Profile by Ronda Carman
Photos 2 & 3: Billy Cunningham/Bruce Katz Published February 2000 (AD)
Photos 4 & 5: Scott Frances Published July 2007 (AD)

Sunday, May 17

Salad on Sunday: Avocado Prawn Salad

I was so excited to actually pick leaves of ‘cut and come again lettuce’ from the garden yesterday. A bag of organic salad leaves can be quite expensive, not to mention its short lifespan. It was nice to select the exact quantity and color combination for our meal. I am looking forward to seeing all of the herbs and vegetables take hold and grow throughout the summer.

For the record, the lettuce came for our shared back garden, and it is our amazing neighbors that have the green thumb (and do the gardening). We are just the lucky recipients of their kindness.

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 lb large prawns in shells (20 to 22), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 firm-ripe avocados (preferably Hass)
1 lb of any type of salad leaves (rocket, curly endive or arugula)

Bring 2 quarts water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan, then poach prawns at a bare simmer, uncovered, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Let prawns chill in water 2 minutes, then drain and pat dry.

Whisk together tarragon, mustard, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a serving bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Quarter avocados lengthwise, then pit, peel, and cut into bite-size pieces. Add prawns and avocados to dressing and toss. Dived of salad leaves between 4 plates and top with prawn and avocado mixture.

Serves 4 as a light main-course

Friday, May 15

Review: Royalton Hotel New York

While in New York I had the privilege of reviewing the Royalton Hotel for Mr & Mrs Smith. You can read my review by clicking here. Happy Weekend!

Thursday, May 14

Profile: Thomas Jayne

I take great delight in both people and interiors that possess unexpected, multifaceted qualities. Perhaps this explains why I am so enamored with New York based designer Thomas Jayne. Like the interiors he creates, Thomas is exceedingly interesting and quite fetching.

With a Master's degree in American Architecture and Decorative Arts from the Winterthur Museum program and a Bachelor of Arts from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon, Thomas commands an expansive knowledge of architecture, art history and decorative arts.

To further round out his credentials, he completed fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum, served as an intern in the decorative arts department of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Smithsonian Institution and as an appraiser at Christie's Auction House.

If that were not impressive enough, Thomas worked for several influential design firms including Parish-Hadley & Associates and Kevin McNamara, Inc., before starting his own firm in 1990.

With an aesthetic deeply steeped in historic periods and styles, coupled with a love for New Orleans and an affordable second home, Thomas and partner Rick Ellis, purchased a small apartment in the French Quarter, just two months before Hurricane Katrina (home is a SoHo loft). True to style their New Orleans home takes inspiration from the past, and yet, the interiors feel fresh and modern.

Accolades aside, Thomas seems to take it all in stride. When asked his thoughts on the business of design, he replied, “Being a decorator is the ultimate freelance job. You never know what you’re doing next and if there’s going to be a next, or if you’re going out of style … or if you ever were in style.”

Good design and humility never goes out of style!

How would you describe your personal style?
Very much like the best of American fashion—stylish, classic, well made and comfortable.

What inspires your creativity and designs
I am interested in decoration from every period, especially traditional designs that work well with the contemporary spirit. It’s what I call ancient and modern.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without
Can't say there is anything material that I cannot live without or need to have. Maybe my family bed, I have used since I was a child.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Found time—when you finish ahead of schedule. It’s then you can do something unplanned and interesting.

Who are your style icons
Miss O'Brien my high school English teacher and my decorating mentors Albert Hadley and Kevin McNamera.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project
A great painter. Say, Rubens or Gerhard Richter.

What are your most prized possessions?
A silver cross my mother gave me on her deathbed and a bronze statue of father time.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Guidebooks and decorative arts books about Potsdam, Berlin and Dresden. I will study there this summer.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
A sunny day in Big Sur.

Past or present who most influenced your direction in life?
My mother and my partner.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
President Obama, and I would spend the time as he wished.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Photo 1: Jayne's New Orleans home. Photo credit Kerri McCaffety.
Photo 3: Jayne’s house in New Orleans. Photo credit Kerri McCaffety.
Photo 5: Jayne’s house in New Orleans. Photo credit Kerri McCaffety.
Photo 6: Jayne’s statue of father time. Photo credit David Gilbert.
Photo 7: Jayne’s NYC loft apartment. Photo credit David Gilbert.