Sunday, February 28

Soup on Sunday: Victory Amory's Creamy Garlic

A few basic and simple ingredients are all that it takes to make this heart-warming soup from hostess extraordinaire Victory Amory. Day old bread, garlic, broth and a touch of cream combine to create a velvet-like soup perfect to end a long winter’s day.

1 head of garlic, peeled
2 quarts of chicken broth
1 loaf of white country bread, crusts removed and diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and fresh ground pepper

In a small pan filled with boiling water, blanch the garlic for a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat. This step removes the pungency of the garlic leaving all its sweet aromatic properties.

In a stockpot, combine the chicken broth and garlic. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the bread and bring to a boil. Add the cream and stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. In batches, purée the soup in the blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return to a clean stockpot to keep warm.

Makes 6 cups

Friday, February 26

Return of the Filofax?

There was an interesting article in the Telegraph today about the return of the Filofax. Figures from Selfridges out yesterday suggested that personal organizers are flying off the shelves, and sales of Filofaxes have increased 25 per cent over the last year. Even Anna Wintour has been scribbling into her organizer in the front rows of London Fashion Week.

For me, the Filofax has never gone away. I am a paper and pen person. I always have been, and I probably always will be. Nothing can replace the texture of paper, the feel of a pen and the idea of permanence.

In an age of the iPhone, do you find it is curious that such 'relics' are flourishing? Personally, I think it is a bit of a backlash in the face of a technical revolution. Of course I am not technophobic, and I love that you can (manually) 'synchronize' your Filofax with various calendar and email programs. There's even rumor of a Filofax application for the iPhone. As the article points out, the Filofax is the ultimate back-up for when your computer crashes.

It's ironic that the article appeared on the same day that my son was teasing me for being "old school" and using a Rolodex to keep track of business cards I receive. I wonder if they will make a comeback too? Any other Rolodex and Filofax users out there?

Thursday, February 25

DOXA - An All the Best Exclusive

Professional, talented, spirited and extraordinary are just a few of the words that are repeatedly used to describe Jaime Rogers. Hailed as one of Florida's growing young talents, Jamie is the lead designer and owner of Doxa Design Group — a full-service design firm and online retail boutique.

Every time I visit I am thrilled by the amazing, carefully edited collection of home furnishings and décor. Each item is personally sourced from talented American and European artisans. Jamie’s trained eye and attention to details is apparent in every object on the website.

Always one step ahead of the curve Jamie also offers Online Design as an alternative service for do-it-yourself custom designed spaces. A great option for clients who want to be involved in the labor and don’t mind DYI—regardless of where you live.

My favorite item from is the White Washed Daybed
Eric Cohler Design - Daybed from DOXA

Jamie has graciously offered a complimentary online room design ($895-$1150 value) and a $350 gift certificate from their online retail boutique for one lucky All the Best reader!

To enter this wonderful giveaway, simply go to and select your favorite item, then make note of that item in the comment section of this post on All the Best (by March 12, 2010). I have included my favorite item from the website, as well as images of Jamie’s beautiful work.

Additionally, all readers will receive 20% off all purchases through March 11, 2010. Just use the code ATB20 at checkout. The winner of the complimentary online room design and $350 gift certificate will be announced on March 15, 2010. No purchase necessary to enter or win.

Wednesday, February 24

Save the Date

This year WESTWEEK 2010: DESIGN REVOLUTION will be anchored with three keynote panels, including Elle Decor, The Editor at Large, and Interiors.

I will be on the Editor at Large panel and would love for you to attend it you are in the area. Here is the full line up:

ELLE DECOR’s keynote panel, “Giving Design a Voice in the Digital Age,” Wed., March 24, 11:00 AM, moderated by ELLE DECOR Editor in Chief Margaret Russell, features:

· Vicente Wolf, Designer and blogger

· Mayer Rus, Los Angeles Times Magazine Design and Culture Editor

· Patricia Shackelford, author of the blog Mrs. Blandings

· Michael Bruno, founder of

The Editor at Large panel, Wed., March 24, 3:30 PM, moderated by Sophie Donelson, features:

· Michael Bruno, founder of

· Ronda Carman, founder of

· Brian Patrick Flynn, designer, founder of

· Brad Ford, designer and founder of

· Jilllian St. Charles, vice president and site director,

· Vanessa de Vargas, interior designer and host of Designer Tag Sale

Interiors magazine panel, Thurs., March 25, 11:00 AM, led by editorial/creative director James Barra and Editor in Chief Arianne Nardo, features:

· Orlando Diaz-Azcuy

· Roger Thomas

· Carlos Barbosa

· Kara Mann

Thank You for Asking

I must confess that I have not been keeping up with new blogs the way that I did three years ago. Time is really the biggest factor keeping me from reading more. But on occasion, one grabs my attention. My recent weekly fix is the blog Thank you for AskingA woman starring in her own movie that nobody is watching.

It is a tongue-in-cheek account of one woman’s "trials and tribulations" of trying to keep up in the glamorous Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. As a wife, mother, blogger and someone who loves design, this blogger makes me laugh. I particularly love that her New Year’s Resolution is not to say the F Word in front of the children—an admirable resolution that I should adopt.

Photos: Thank you for Asking

Sunday, February 21

Soup on Sunday: Frank Webb Suggests Fennel Soup

The Italian inspired Tomato Bread Soup from Matthew White (my first guest soup contributor) was so well received, that I thought that I would follow with a recipe from Frank Webb. Frank is the other half of the White Webb. According to Frank, “I can’t cook to save my life, but I’m a great at finding interesting recipes and persuading my partner, Steve, to whip them up for me. I love this amazing dairyless fennel soup, courtesy of Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill (and Blue Hill at Stone Barns), which was printed in New York magazine.”

I can’t confirm Frank’s talents (or self professed lack of) in the kitchen, but I can tell you that he has designed an amazing kitchen in his own home, as well as countless others!

Vegetable Stock:
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 ¼ cup medium-diced onion
¼ cup thinly sliced shallots
¼ cup medium-diced leeks
½ cup medium-diced carrots
3 ¼ cups medium-diced fennel
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns
6 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs thyme
½ head garlic

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the vegetables with a pinch of salt, and sweat over low heat. Add the coriander seeds, peppercorns, parsley, thyme, garlic, and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 50 minutes. Strain and chill.

Fennel Soup:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 small shallots, minced
3 ½ cups diced fennel, white part only, reserving green fronds for garnish
1 apple, peeled and diced
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
4 cups vegetable stock (recipe above)
½ teaspoon chopped thyme

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and shallots, and sweat until translucent. Add the fennel and apple, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes before adding the fennel seeds and stock, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a blender and puree, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Return to saucepan and heat gently. Garnish with fennel fronds.

Thursday, February 18

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

The truth is Jennifer Aniston would look good sitting in a plastic lawn chair. However, she seriously looks fabulous curled up in a purple velvet chair on the March cover of Architectural Digest.

Apparently I am not the only one who has noticed Jennifer and that gorgeous chair. Architectural Digest has been flooded with inquires over the past few days. The vintage chairs (circa 1970) were purchased from the extraordinary New York based Lobel Modern and covered in a deep violet fabric by Manuel Canovas. According to propietor Evan Lobel, “They are grand in scale and comfortable. And, they are glamorous, just like Jennifer.”

Lobel Modern offers an amazing collection of furniture, lighting and art by important designers from the 1940's thru the 1980's. A few include Edward Wormley, Harvey Probber, Paul Evans and Karl Springer. Evan Lobel was Exhibition Coordinator of the retrospective on Harvey Probber in 2003 and has been hailed by Architectural Digest as the "New York dealer who has been instrumental in putting Springer back on the map."

Lobel Modern is open to the trade and public or you can browse their wonderful collection online.

The vintage 1970 chairs before reupholstering

A beautiful deep violet fabric by Manuel Canovas

Cover photo by Peggy Sirota

Monday, February 15

Home Tour: Kerry Ciardelli

A few months back I “met” the talented designer and shop owner Kerry Ciardelli via email. Kerry, a self-taught designer, owns the Minneapolis based boutique VICTORY. A purveyor of French linens, etched glass, nineteenth-century primitive paintings, Christopher Spitzmiller lamps and Anna Weatherley fine porcelain, VICTORY is a Mecca for those searching out eclectic and elegant flea market finds from London, Paris and Italy.

Kerry’s work imbues beauty, elegance and a love of all things vintage. I was thrilled when she paid a surprise visit to the SFERRA booth in NYC at the International Gift Fair earlier this month. She was as stylish and gracious as I had imagined and so is the home she has fashioned. Enjoy the tour.

Sunday, February 14

Soup on Sunday: Mussel and Fennel Bisque

I love, love, love fennel and mussels together! And, Valentine's Day seems like the perfect opportunity to indulge in a sinfully decadent soup! Enjoy.

2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 cup dry white wine
5 clove of garlic, whole and peeled
4 cups fish stock
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups fresh fennel bulb, cubed
1/4 cup carrot, peeled and cubed
2 large shallots, chopped
1/4 cup basmati rice
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon Cognac
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Combine mussels, wine and whole cloves of garlic in large pot. Cover; bring to boil. Boil until mussels open, about 5 minutes (discard any that do not open). Transfer mussels to large bowl and pour cooking liquid through strainer into a measuring cup. Add enough fish stock to measure 5 cups. When mussels cool slightly, remove them from shells; place in small bowl. Discard shells. Cover mussels until ready to use.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add fennel cubes and carrot; sauté until fennel is slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Add shallots; sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add fish stock mixture, rice, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover partially and simmer until rice is tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf and thyme. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree in blender. Return to stockpot.

Add whipping cream, Cognac and mussels; bring to a low simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle bisque into 6 bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Serve with lots of bread and Sauvignon Blanc.

Friday, February 12

Profile: Laura Day

Warning: It is highly likely that you will lose several hours of your day after reading this post!

Laura Day is as cute and clever as they come. Not to mention she is quite talented too. Some of you may remember Laura from The Learning Channel's hit series Trading Spaces. Not being much a television watcher, I was thankfully introduced to Laura through our mutual friend Julia Noran. Yesterday, Laura launched her latest (and very exciting) venture—Laura Day Living. A fabulous new website that marries design experience with life experience in a way that is useful, inspiring, informative and fun.

The launch issue of Laura Day Living is built around her Park Avenue flat, a project inspired by nature and natural curiosities. The website is set up like a virtual home and organized by rooms. You can see how Laura breaks down her Park Avenue flat (room by room) and find out more about what influenced the design. Best of all you are given links to all the resource that inspired each space.

How would you describe your style?
I strive for fresh, unexpected and thoughtful with a sense of humor and wit.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
Fashion, other designers, of course nature, films, New York City, my daughter, and just about everything I lay my eyes on!

What is your most prized possession
My Harry Winston engagement ring and all the photo books I have made since our daughter was born.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without
My Family and caffeine!

Who are your style icons?
There are so many, but to name just a few: Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel, Kate Moss, Kelly Wearstler, Jackie Kennedy.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Mario Buatta. I would never dream of using so many patterns in one space and he does it so gracefully!

Kelly Wearstler. I would just like to spend a day in her shoes. I am so curious! And, I love how her work is constantly changing and how she is always evolving!

Jonathon Adler. He seems like so much fun!

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Twighlight (all four of them)
William Lescaze on being an Architect
Books on Belgian Farm houses because I am building a new house in the Hamptons.

What is your favorite luxury in life
Cashmere, great hotels and good food!

What is your idea of earthly happiness
A day at the beach with my husband and our daughter and sleeping in.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life
My Mom

Profile by Ronda Carman
Photos by Francois Dischinger

Thursday, February 11

RIP Alexander McQueen

Fashion icon Alexander McQueen has died at the age of 40. Britain (and the world) has lost a great designer and fashion ambassador.

Photo: Harper's Bazaar

Wednesday, February 10

Thank you C Magazine

(Click to enlarge)

I was thrilled when Andrea Stanford at C Magazine asked me to name a couple of my current California design favorites for the March issue (NO EASY TASK). A few that I have my eye on right now are Kimberly Ayers, Kim Alexandriuk, Ferrick Mason, Lucas Studio and fellow blogger Scot Meacham Wood. Of course, Nathan Turner is always a favorite!

Tuesday, February 9

Profile: Julia Buckingham Edelmann

Julia Buckingham Edelmann is one talented and savvy woman! Not only does she know a thing or two about design, but also she has embraced the blogging world. Founding principal of Buckingham Interiors + Design, a full service Interior Design firm on the North Shore of Chicago, Julia is the Chicago contributor for the popular blog Material Girls.

A lifelong passion for design, unusual antiques and unfussy objects is what fuels her work and imagination. Julia’s trademark style is a modern twist on tradition. "I have to infuse just a little bit of "funk" into every room that my firm designs," Julia concedes. The result—rooms that are time-honored, yet fun and unusual.

Julia also possesses a keen eye for unwanted houses. In 20+ years of marriage, she and her husband John have flipped seven houses, “I am always revitalizing the proverbial ugly duckling and looking for ways to infuse my style into a home." The firsthand knowledge of renovation and construction is one that Julia happily passes on to her clients. “Creating a true customer connection is the cornerstone of my business, but most importantly I want my work to be a reflection of the homeowner's lifestyle and not a shrine to my vision."

With which iconic interior decorator or architect do you most identify?
Mies van der Rohe. He strove towards an architectural style of a minimal framework, structural order and balance. His mantra “less is more” and “God is in the details” always rings true when I design a project. Editing is such an important part of the creative process. It’s good to know when to stop.

What talent would you most like to possess
To be an architect and to design the whole thing!

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project
Darryl Carter. He uses clean simple lines in his interiors and then adds beautiful antiques with just the right amount of patina and dimension.

Who are your style icons?
Axel Vervoordt. His philosophy is simple: Make people happy; make them discover things in themselves; make them feel at home and love their house.”

Ralph Lauren. What he did for design and fashion while creating the wardrobe for the movie the Great Gatsby remains an inspirational favorite. The lines between fashion and the set design were blurred, and as result one aesthetic beautifully emerged. Ralph Lauren embodies a timeless sense of style.

Diane von Furstenberg. Her sense of design allows women to feel and look beautiful. The confidence that comes from wearing her designs has no doubt created some very strong women.

Holly Hunt. You’ve gotta love Holly Hunt and her design philosophy, “The best decisions are always made at the last minute. Just know when the last minute is.” I am always on the lookout to for that moment when I know—this is just right.

What is your most prized possession?
My family. They are my jewels—my husband, John, and our children; Caroline, Alex and Madi. Children are a huge gift, and one that keeps on getting better. I must mention our Wheaten Terriers Jane and Frankie too. We are a bit obsessed, as each child goes off to college we keep adding another dog to the family. How does this make any sense?!

What books are currently on your bedside table?
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Crazy For the Storm by Norman Ollestad
Phoenix Home and Garden (from a recent trip)

What is your favorite luxury in life?
A beautiful dress

Who would you most like to meet and spend the day with?
I wish that I had met and spent a day with Princess Diana. Her innate sense of style and beauty came through in all that surrounded her, not to mention her goodwill and charity towards those less fortunate was incredibly moving. And all the while she slogged through some pretty treacherous adversity!

How would you describe your style?
Mix and twist tradition with whimsy! One part classic design, one part whimsy and one part lovely.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
The “oohs” and “aahs” of my clients. If I do not hear this, then I am not making a difference. Whether it is a design hit or a miss, emotion has to be present! My clients keep me real and grounded. The relationships that form are priceless, not to mention that we have a lot of fun together!

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, February 7

Soup on Sunday: Matthew White's Tomato Bread

Matthew and Holden on the Staton Island Ferry. Photo by Andrew French.

I thought it would be fun to start adding soup recipes from friends and loyal readers. One person that I knew would come through with a great recipe is fellow soup enthusiast and Texan Matthew White. Half of the the uber talented design firm White Webb, Matthew will soon add the title of author to his list of accomplishments.

Italy of my Dreams: The Story of an American Designer’s Real Life Passion for Italian Style, is now available for pre-sale from Pointed Leaf Press. I can assure you this is one for the bookshelf! Enjoy this Italian inspired soup.

Creamy Tomato and Bread Soup

1.5 liters of stock (veggie, chicken or beef, your choice)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1.2 kg very ripe tomatoes, chopped
300 g white bread, thinly sliced with crusts removed (should be stale and must be good quality bread)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
125 g freshly grated Italian Parmesan, plus extra for the table

Heat the stock in a large saucepan. Meanwhile heat oil in another large saucepan, add the onion and tomatoes. Saute over low heat for 10 minutes until soft. Push the mixture through a sieve and stir into stock. Add the bread and garlic. Cover and simmer gently for about 45 minutes until thick and creamy. Give the soup a good whisk every now and then to break up the bread. Be careful, as the soup can catch and burn on the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the Parmesan. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls with a trickle of rich olive oil, plus extra Parmesan on the side. Depending on the weather, it can be served hot, at room temperature or cold (but never ice-cold).

Saturday, February 6

Thank You Kimberly Ayres

A HUGE thank you to Kimberly Ayres for naming All the Best on her recommended reading list in the San Francisco Chronicle. It's fortuitous really, I just named Kimberly as a California designer to watch in an upcoming issue of C Magazine featuring All the Best.

After practicing law for six years, interior designer Kimberly Ayres went back to school to study interior architecture. While finishing her degree at UCLA, she apprenticed with renowned designer Kelly Wearstler. She further honed her skills working with Michael Lee before launching her own firm. If you are not familiar with Kimberly's work, then be sure to visit her website.

Photo by Eric Cahan

Friday, February 5

The Soup Project

I am back from a wonderful trip to NYC. The New York International Gift Fair was both insightful and fun. Thank you to everyone who stopped by the SFERRA booth to say hello and view the beautiful linens. I so much enjoyed meeting all of you! Often times I feel as though I work in a vacuum, so it was a humanizing and welcome change of pace.

'I love your Soup on Sunday' was a common refrain throughout the week. It has also been the subject of many emails as of late. Just before leaving for New York my neighbor asked when I was going to publish a soup cookbook. To be honest, I haven't really given it much thought. For me, soup is the ultimate comfort food and Sunday is the perfect day to slow down and enjoy the simple satisfaction it offers.

That said, I have decided to give this soup cookbook idea some serious thought. I will be searching out all the best soup recipes with greater interest and vigor. It also means a lot more cooking, which is why I posted the witty image above. That might very well be my situation in the near future. I would love to know which of my soup recipes have been your personal favorites. You can click here to see all the Soup on Sunday recipes or email me at (

Tuesday, February 2

Tobi Fairley + House Beautiful

A HUGE congratulations to my sweet friend Tobi Fairley whose beautiful project is featured on the March issue of House Beautiful. I picked up my copy yesterday and it's simply stunning.