Friday, January 29, 2010

Have a Delicious Weekend!

My daughter...... the Pastry Chef. Just another reason in a long string as to why I will be devastated when she leaves for college!

My little Ina Garten protege used Ina's recipe for Chocolate Cake and added the German Chocolate Cake Coconut, Pecan topping from another recipe....I think she said from Rachael Ray. However she did was delicious and devoured.

Sweet weekends to you all!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Highland Living

Main Staircase laid with carpet in the Campbell of Cawdor Plaid. Firearms taken from defeated French invasion forces from 1797.

Are you one of those people (like me) who collects all of the Oscar winning movies from every year? If so, then you have Braveheart in your collection. And so it might follow that you have a little place in your heart for the Scottish moors, castle strongholds, and tartan plaids.

Scotland has a rich history full of legends and romance from the drama of MacBeth to Nessie to the enchanting castle keeps. I recently received a copy of the upcoming book Highland Living from Flammarion due out mid-February. The authors, Stephane Bern and Franck Ferrand, splendidly capture the heart of Scotland with their tales of the early clan chiefs on through to the most recent inhabitants of Cawdor Castle. It reads like an historic novel with all of the color and depth of an epic family chronicle.

But I have to say, my imagination was first captured when I opened the book and found page after page of brilliant photography by lifestyle photographer Guillaume de Laubier. You may be familiar with his work as it has been featured in Elle Decoration, Vogue, and A French Country Home (Flammarion, 2005). Castles and common dwellings, formal gardens and windswept moors, grand sittings rooms and cozy hunting lodges are all represented here in beautiful full page color.

Cawdor Castle

The stories and photos focus on the Scottish National treasure, Cawdor Castle and the lands surrounding. We get a insider's view of lifestyle and decor inside the castle walls and the other dwelling on the vast properties.

I am showing just a few of the photos that particularly caught my eye.

Main staircase with a group of monogrammed fire buckets.
The tale of Cawdor Castle is strewn with the personal remembrances of the current Dowager Countess of Cawdor, Angelika Cawdor. She has also written the Forward, in which she ponders the question: was Coco Channel inspired to design her famous logo after seeing the interlocking C's after visiting the Castle of Cawdor?

The Main Drawing Room of Cawdor

The Drawing room shows off the architectural volume common to 17th century architecture. But even in it's grand scale, there is a sense of comfort, even coziness here, I think.

Portrait Gallery

Pryse Campbell, the 17th Thane of Cawdor

Dining Room Mantle

Doorway leading to the Dining Room

Hallway at Cawdor

The keep at Cawdor was built between 1370 and 1380, maintained and owned by descendants of MacBeth himself. The castle has been open to visitors since 1976, but had been losing money until Angelika transformed it to what you see today. Now it is regarded as a fine cultural and heritage enterprise. As old as it is, it is no wonder there are legends of ghosts and spirits, all of which are written about in Highland Living. Wouldn't it be wonderful to sit in the castle restaurant and feel the presence of a Thane of days past sitting next to you?

The history of how the castle grew to it's present size and appearance is captured beautifully in this book, as well as the creation of the gardens and additions of surrounding properties which encompass 18,000 acres of forests. These forests are known as "the Big Wood" and look today almost "exactly as it did after the end of the last ice age", because of the guardianship of the family of Cawdor.

The tree house in The Big Wood

But the estate does not end there. The Cawdor estate covers 58,000 acres, over 90 square miles. A hunting lodge or two would of course be necessary.

Hunting Lodge Dining Room at Drynachan

I loved this photo of the Dining Room in the Hunting Lodge at Drynachan. Apparently guests at the lodge in the 19th century entertained themselves by decorating the walls, and it has stayed like this since. So very modern looking isn't it? The white walls with the river of local scenery washing across it is wonderful!

Sitting Room at the Hunting Lodge

This Hunting Lodge can be rented for Family vacations. Located in the heart of the Highlands, I am just dreaming of making that visit.

Desk at the Hunting Lodge

It would be the perfect place to tromp through the moors and discover ancient cottages.

Cottage roofed with Heather at Culloden

The moors at Drynachan

Highland Living is full of stories about Cawdor and the estate, but it also contains other fine jewels of information. At the end of the book, there is information about visiting Cawdor Castle as well as many other places of interest. There is a listing of the Best Hotels, Restaurants, and Bed and Breakfasts. There is also information on Shopping, Fishing, Golf, Riding and Shooting.

And I cannot forget the whole section on recipes served at the Castle, like Pheasant Curry, Cranachen, and Roast Rhubarb and Apple Crumble with Creme Anglaise. Top it off with Cawdor Elderflower Cordial.

Haggis, the traditional dish of the Highlands

So I hope you are curious and inclined to look into Highland Living. It is the perfect companion for taking tea by the fire and letting your imagination take flight.

Tea in the small Dining Room. Family Crest on the table linen.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Liking These... Spool No. 72

The Sage Burrow Rucksack

Spool No. 72 Clothing Company sent me an email with some new things. Always having design on my mind, I tend to link fashion and rooms in my mind, well, almost always. I imagine the sort of person that has an interesting piece of clothing and what their house might look like. So, here is a glimpse of how the wheels spin in my head.

Thanks Spool No. 72 for the inspiration!

Tyee Mountain Tote

Law Blouse

Hoquiam Dress

This is a minor sampling of the brilliant collection that is Spool No. 72. They carry coats and sweaters, jewelry, bags and totes, blouses and dresses.

They also have a fun blog HERE.

So I am just passing along the goodness.

(All photos of interiors via House Beautiful Online Photo Gallery)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Love a Good Sale?!

Andreas Cellarius. $49.99 down from $ $100.o1

Who doesn't? I admit it. It is almost impossible for me to pass up a great deal. So when I got the memo about a Taschen book sale, I caved. Just in case you are like me and are always on the lookout for a great book, I thought you might like to know:

January 21, 2010

It’s sale time again!
For a very limited time only, TASCHEN is offering great discounts on various titles.
From January 22 - 24, dozens of popular TASCHEN titles will go on sale online at 50-75% off the regular retail price.
But hurry: demand will be huge and this offer is subject to stock availability!
You prefer a 'physical' experience? Check the warehouse sale at Taschen stores.
Here is just a little sampling:

The Temple of Flora. $69.99, down from $ $80.01

Meier. $69.99 down from $ $80.01

Shop America, $14.99 down from $ $45

Domus Series. $29.99 down from $ $40
Eileen Gray. $9.99 down from $ $20.

The End of the Game. $19.99 down from $ $20

It is a grey and rainy day where I am. A little online shopping couldn't hurt.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Remember This Table?

Brooke Giannetti had the giveaway of the year on her beautiful blog Velvet and Linen back in November. You may remember that I had entered with my office space in hopes of winning one of the three tables in the giveaway. Alas, I did not win....but the winners did a great job with the tables in their own spaces. It was very fun to see the results! (In case you missed it, click HERE.)

But the blogosphere is a wonderful place. When one computer window closes, another opens. Because of the blog post I did about the giveaway, I was happily reintroduced to an old friend I had lost touch with. Mike Whisten, a talented custom furniture maker and "imagineer", contacted me and we discussed a potential collaboration to make a table for my office. Mike was so inspired by the post, he began a project of his own. Mike recreated his own version of the metal frame table but instead of reclaimed lumber, he used reclaimed sales signs from a Loft project in Sacramento.

As you can see, his version is quite contemporary, and I love his spin on what constitutes a reuse of discarded materials. I think this table would be great in a loft, a beach house, or any eclectic setting that combines one-of-a-kind furniture peices. This is the kind of peice that makes a home unique. And that is what makes Mike special. He can work with anyone to create a peice of furniture that is perfect for them in size, material and function. Best of all, the prices are RIGHT!!! (This table is listed at $600 on Mike's website!)
I hope you have a chance to check out Mike's company website, 12M Design.
Give him a call and see what you can conjure up.
Meanwhile, Mike and I are talking about my Office table.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sweet Dreamers: UXUS

Guestroom in Amsterdam Loft located in an historic 18th century warehouse.

Ever since I walked into Ella, a wonderful restaurant in Sacramento designed by international design team UXUS, I knew I would be looking for more from the designers and fining out what drives their creative talents. (I posted about Ella HERE and HERE.)

UXUS, with offices in Amsterdam and Napa, California, waves their creative wand all over the world "fusing art and design" in moody magical ways.

Busy as they are, I was lucky to catch up with them and ask a few questions of creative directors, George Gottl and Oliver Michell:

How did UXUS come about? Can you tell us about your company and it’s history?
We started the company in the back of the loft nearly 7 years ago. We have 17 employees now.

The UXUS design aesthetic is truly unique and quite poetic. Can you tell us how it evolved?

We have always been inspired by primary sources of information, Art is one of our key sources.

Where and how do you begin the process of conceptualizing your designs for your clients?

We always start by interviewing the client and discovering exactly what they are looking to create.Often, we discover things that they didn’t even know they wanted.

Amsterdam Loft Hallway

What/who inspires you in your work?

Art and artists from all over.We especially like artists who work in 3-D There are two design directors at UXUS.

Can you tell us how you work together? Do you collaborate on the same projects, or do you divide and conquer?

We are very complementary, and work seamlessly as a team, often picking up where the other one left off.

How would you describe each of your own personal styles?

Oliver is more classic, and I tend towards fashion.

Bedroom in Amsterdam Loft overlooking the canals and city.

Describe your “perfect client”.

One that has complete integrity in what they would like to create and allow us to execute accordingly.

What are you working on now?

Some very special and big projects that we cannot discuss...

What is happening next?

Offices in Asia and US.

Living Space in Amsterdam Loft

UXUS has their fingers in retail, hospitality, and interior architecture, as well as branding and packaging. They also have a forward looking blog HERE.

For a look and more of their exquisite work, please visit their website HERE. You will slowly get an inkling of how these minds work when you see images of floating bathtubs and dressers, lamps made from dresses, and Narnia-like wardrobes in retail spaces, shutters on the ceiling in restaurants and chess piece-like tables in wineries, to say nothing of the richness in their residential spaces. When I look at the homes they have designed, ( especially La Finca, the Mallorcan retreat), I just have to sit back, relax and say "Ahhhhh.....".

Sweet Dreamers indeed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Project Runway: New Digs

Check out the new digs!

Starts tonight on Lifetime at 10 et/pt, and they are back in NYC.

I've missed you Tim!

About the apartments, in case you were wondering:

Where: Atlas NYC

Who: The production designer is Katie Abiad-De Luca. This is what she has to say about the new designs:

The designer notes how she wanted to create something unique, sophisticated and fun, all while stretching the budget and keeping in mind how things look on camera. “The design approach for the interiors of the Project Runway cast housing is not so different from the design philosophy of the competition itself,” she says.

Fans will notice some differences in the apartment interiors this season. For example, instead of wallpaper, Abiad-De Luca added dimension to the room with wood trim, which also created colorful patterns on the wall. In addition, she took plain, square carpet tiles, cut them into new shapes and reattached them to create a more dynamic, interesting pattern. A welcomed new addition to the apartments this season are the vanities in the girls’ rooms. “Every season the apartments are filled to the rim with 3 to 4 contestants with one to two bathrooms to get ready for their long days (on camera!). This time we set up an actual area for them to put on their makeup and do their hair,” Abiad-De Luca says, noting that vanities were created from a wall mounted shelf installed between two dressers, giving it a built-in look, “and then were topped off with a cute dot pattern with some stickers and spray frost.”

For all the scoop on the latest edtition of Project Runway click HERE.

I guess you all know where I'll be tonight.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Real Pain in the Neck!

I mean a REAL one! I threw out my upper back a couple days ago, and cannot seem to sit at my computer longer than a few minutes at a time. And don't get me started on the drugs the doctor gave me! I poured cereal into my juice glass this morning.

I will be sitting it out today and will be back as soon as I can!

Perhaps I will sneak my daughter's laptop and read all the blogs I have been missing while I lay on the couch!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Were You Good This Year?

It was an interesting economic year, wouldn't you say? This year, our Christmas Lists were shorter, and more practical, as well as more creative. And I have to say this Christmas was one of the best I have ever had in terms of gifts received. They were more thoughtful, painstaking and by for more meaningful than ever.

My daughters are both very creative. One is a very talented artist and bakes delicious goodies. The other loves to make things with her hands and has a very unique and wonderful graphic sense. The latter made a mosaic pot from shards of pottery she found at the Antique Faire on a trip she went on with my Mother, her Grandmother. Little did I know she would create this masterpiece and present it to me Christmas morning with a beautiful jade plant. My mosaic pot runneth over.

I collect bottles with caning and wicker around them. I always am on the lookout for another special one. The same daughter found the middle bottle at the Sacramento Antique Faire with the letters "AA Co." printed on it. I love it and I love her for thinking of it. I think I have another Antique scavenger in the making here! Like Mother like Daughter?

I had mentioned seeing these two cups or vases at Fringe, a really fun shop near our home recently, and lo and behold, my husband, Tim, had gone the very next day and picked them up. I also collect shells and vintage shell boxes. These cups were made in Ireland, probably as a tourist tchake. I adore them! They will be used for pencil cups at my desk or for flowers in various places. So many uses! These were such a bargain as well. I am so glad he went back for them! (I have a wonderful husband....did I mention that?)

A little close-up. I can just imagine these on a window sill overlooking the sea with a bunch of Irish Heather.

My husband knows my collection of Ironstone is ever growing, and he hunted down this sweet sugar bowl..........

......and this platter at the antique shops over on 57th Street in Sacramento. Totally unexpected for Tim to go Antique shopping on his own. I think that meant more to me than the gifts themselves!

One of my very favorite presents was this bulletin board Tim made for me. Apparently he and girls had it hidden during production in the garage for a month before Christmas without me knowing. He made it perfectly to fit where we had been talking about putting one for all of those mundane things like family calendars, shopping and "honey-do" lists. Now we have a place for all of it besides the kitchen counter. SOOOOO cool! (Love you honey!)

Didn't he do a fantastic job?! It will be filled up as soon as I can find some cool tacks.

Tim also went and found this vintage breadbox at the Antique Shops on 57th Street. It was on my list....but putting things like this on my list is a little risky. Who knows what might show up, and I have been known to be a bit picky. But I think Tim is developing a very good eye! I really like it, especially since all of the bread is now hidden away instead of having 3 bags on the counter.

Tim also gave me these two beauties. I had a beautiful Christmas day with my family, just relaxing with a cup of cider curled up with these two books, also on my list.

Nothing too big, nothing too fancy, but perfect in every way.

(Did I mention how much I love my family? They just "get" me, and that is the biggest gift of all. I must have been pretty good this year.)