Wednesday, March 31, 2010

City of Angels: Margaret Russell at WS Home

The beautiful Margaret Russell of Elle Decor at WS Home
Hi all! I am back from Oregon (more on that later!) and ready to tell you my LA stories! I have to say I made the mistake of not making plans sooner for my trip, as I could have fit more in, but the trip was busy and informative none the less!
West Week was in full swing at the Pacific Design Center, and there were Keynote Panel discussions being held to discuss the rise of social media as it pertains to the design industry at large and to print media in particular. I wanted to attend as many of the panels as possible.

I arrived at the Farmer's Daughter Hotel Tuesday afternoon in time to freshen up before Christian May of Maison 21 picked me up for a party at WS Home for Margaret Russell of Elle Decor. She was in residence to sign her wonderful book, Style and Substance, The Best of Elle Decor (which I posted about HERE).
Before I go further, I just wanted to give you one of the best pieces of news I had during my stay in LA! Margaret Russell told me that Elle Decor now has officially launched their new website!!! (previously Elle Decor was part of the point click home website) The new website is full of exciting new features including a comprehensive LookBook with photos from all of your favorite editorials. You can also explore design destinations around the globe, and get expert design advice in the Home Design 101 section. There are sections on Design, Remodeling, Shopping, Celebrity Style, Entertaining, as well as a Resources section. I am told there is much more to come as well. So have fun checking it all out!
So...back to the party! It was such a fun evening for many reasons. I had not been to a WS Home store in a very long time. There are only two in California: Beverly Hills and Palo Alto. It was a treat to see everything in person and very nice to know that the catalog and website show off how beautiful the inventory is in person. The other reason the party was so great is that I finally got to meet blogger friends from all over the country, and in one case from overseas. I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked, but here are a few people you might recognize:
Moi, Monelle Totah (Vice President of Design for WS Home), Patricia Shackelford (Mrs. Blandings) and Christian May (Maison 21)

It was such a pleasure meeting Monelle Totah of WS Home. She was charming and so very gracious. She is the reason WS Home has such beautiful things! You can check out Monelle's beautiful San Francisco flat on the Elle Decor website HERE! Such a great home!!) And Patricia of Mrs. Blandings was out from Kansas City. She was just like her blog: so nice and welcoming, smart, interested and savvy...not to mention classically beautiful! And Christian May of Maison 21...the perfect host: handsome, witty and so much fun!!!! He made my stay in LA the best (more with Christian later!).

Ronda Carmen of All the Best, Scot Meacham Wood of Tartanscot, me again, and Christian May
Ronda Carmen of All the Best was there all the way from the UK. We time for just a quick "hello" but there were so many people, it was difficult to chat. Next time! My friend Scot from Tartanscot was down from San Francisco looking as debonair as usual!.There were so many there that I could not get pictures of! It was so great to get to meet Andrea Borda Stanford, Design and Style Editor for C Magazine in person as well. She is chic, down to earth and beautiful all in one!
(BTW....the latest issue is might want to run out and get it before it is gone....just sayin').
As the party was winding down, I was chatting with Megan of Beach Bungalow 8, and who should walk by but Eddie Ross and partner Jaithan. We gave each other that immediate warm blogger hug that bloggers in touch over the years give upon first sight. We all decided to go to dinner so we could continue the conversation. As per Megan's fantastic suggestion, we went to El Carmen...home of the best tacos and tequila in LA (250 kinds of tequila at last count!). If you are ever in LA, you have to stop in.....if for no other reason than to see the interior, which houses the best collection of Mexican Wrestlers painted on black velvet I have ever seen. Killer. Kudos to Megan as our guide. It was a riot!
El Carmen photo via Yelp

El Carmen photo via Yelp

After dinner, this girl was off to the hotel to rest up for the Keynote panels the next day. Stay tuned!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Missing You!

Hi all!!

After the whirlwind LA trip last would think a few days at home to get life back in order would be the game plan. Not in the cards. After some very productive client meetings on Friday, it was time to repack the suitcase for a trip on Highway 5...but headed North this time.

I am in Oregon for a little R & R along the Rouge River. I have been thinking of you all and am gathering up lots of inspiration for you which I will share when I return!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Trip to LA: Arrival

The Farmer's Daughter Hotel

I have to apologize for the lack of blog posts this week! I have been away in Los Angeles for West Week at the Pacific Design Center. So much was packed into two days, and I have so much to tell you!
I drove down from Sacramento with a bit of nervous anticipation...sort of similar to how I felt when I drove down for my high school reunion only a few weeks before. After all, I would be meeting a passel of blogger friends in person for the very first time. What would they be like? Would they be just like how I imagined from their blog persona's? I had been corresponding with many of them before my trip to make plans to meet up.
Christain May of Maison 21, Megan Arquette of Beach Bungalow 8, Patricia Shackelford of Mrs. Blandings, Ronda Carmen of All the Best, Eddie and Jaithan from the Eddie Ross blog, Lisa Borgnes Giramonti from A Bloomsbury Life, Brooke from Velvet and Linen , the Style Curator and Scot from Tartanscot were all there, not to mention all of the design and media stars (Here a name, there a name....just dropping everywhere!) . I have to tell you, it felt as if we had really already met and known each other. It has seemed that way for all of the great bloggers I have met before. Chalk it up to one of the many benefits of blogging!
I have so many pictures for you. First, let's start with checking into the hotel where I stayed: The Farmer's Daughter Hotel. It is so called because it is right across the street from the old Los Angeles Farmer's Market. I remember going there as a kid and being fascinated by the taffy pulling machines. It was always such a treat. It is so different now with major shopping like venues like the Grove popping up in next door in an area that was once old bungalows.
I had looked at hotels close to the PDC and The Farmer's Daughter seemed fun and in the right "price range" pour moi. I totally got a kick out of it! It was very "urban farm " with concrete floors and reclaimed lumber. Rustic contemporary with a splash of color.
It has a very relaxing vibe as soon as you walk in the door. It seemed as if I had teleported to the Napa Valley wine country. It was fun and low key. Quite perfect for families.
Patio between the hotel and Tart restaurant
The Farmer's Daughter goes all out to provide a down home feel. Lemonade and BBQ potato chips are available in the Lobby anytime. There was wine and cheese service in the evening. It shares a patio with the Tart restaurant which was so cute! And generous to boot. They share their recipes online for things like Fried Green Tomatoes and Bourbon Berry Cobbler. They also have their own blog HERE.
Lemonade in the Lobby
I got to relive my childhood memories when Christian from Maison 21 and I walked over to the Farmer's Market for a glass of wine before he whisked me off to the first event of the week: the William Sonoma Home party for Margaret Russell of Elle Decor.
More on that next time!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Window to Another World

Window to China

A couple of weeks ago, you may remember I drove down to Pasadena with Mom and Daughter in tow. We had a chance to visit the Huntington Library Botanical Gardens. Time was short, but one of the things we wanted to see was the new Chinese Garden area. It is simply stunning. Absolutely transportive.

Bie You Dong Tian

The garden has been named Liu Fang Yuan, which means Garden of Flowing Fragrance, referring to the large numbers of scented flowers and trees. One enters through the Main Gate, or Bie You Dong Tian, Another World Lies Beyond.....and truly, it does.

Here are just a few of the photos I captured that day.

Jing Yun Bi, The Wall of Colorful Clouds

Tea House: Yu Ming Tang, Hall of the Jade Camellia

Plantain Court: Ba Jiao Yuan

Paving Detail in Plantain Court. So Beautiful!

Fretwork Detail at the Tea House

Bridge of Verdant Mist, Cui Xia Qiao

Paving Detail of path leading to the Bridge

Pavilion of the Three Friends (Very appropriate for the three of us!)

Detail of the ceiling in the Pavilion of Three Friends

Terrace of the Jade Mirror, Yu Jing Tai

Love for the Lotus Pavilion, Ai Lian Xie
We wished we could have spent a full day here, but the park was closing, and we had to go.
I encourage anyone planning a trip to Southern California to make a full day plan to visit the Huntington Botanical Gardens. There is so much to see, and it is truly one of the treasures in the area.
For more information about the Chinese Garden click HERE. To learn more about the next phase, click HERE.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Weekend: Spring has Sprung.....

The weather has taken a turn and the flowers have been showing their appreciation the last few days. Our Cherry Tree is in full bloom! My youngest daughter took the camera and spent some time creating a few little masterpieces for me. I hope you enjoy the blooms and your weekend!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Profile: Alicia Adams Alpaca

A throw from the Alicia Adams Alpaca Collection
I am not sure where I first happened upon the beautiful alpaca throws created by the worldly chic Alicia Adams , but I am so glad I did. Not only are they sumptuous and luxurious, but they are renewable, and made in the U.S.A.!
Alicia and her husband Daniel moved from their home in Germany to the Hudson Valley to start a farm to raise Alpacas. Alpacas are closely related to Llamas and Vicunas and are originally from the Andes mountain area. Alicia began her business of making throws, shawls, and scarves from the wool which is so fine it is known as "Andean Gold".

Ever curious, I had to find out more about Alicia and Daniel, who heads up the breeding farm where the soft alpaca wool comes from. I wrote to them to ask a few questions, which Alicia very kindly answered:

The beautiful Alicia Adams and Friend

Alicia, how did you get your start in the alpaca business, what was your inspiration?

The intitial idea was to grow grapes for wine and olives in either Australia or the U.S.. My husband Daniel traveled to Australia to look at potential vineyards but cam across alpacas for the first time. We then researched the breeding side of the business and became hooked on the idea of breeding these fascinating and mystical animals that were holy to Incan royalty. Out foundation herd consisted of 15 alpacas. Today our herd counts over 200 suri alpacas. Alicia Adams Alpaca, the textile arm of the business, started as a hobby.

Throws come in a number of natural colors and herringbone patterns

I know you had an international upbringing in Mexico, the U.S. and Europe. Can you fill us in on your experiences and what that was like?
I was born in Germany, but brought up in Mexico City, so I feel very Mexican, but am also proud of being German. My father is Mexican, my mother is Austrian. My family lives between Mexico, Switzerland, England and Germany. Growing up in so many places, especially in such different cultures has taught me to be open minded, tolerant, and very outgoing. I enjoy meeting new people and listening to their stories. I still love exploring new places and travel extensively, given that we have three young children and a farm and two businesses to run.

Gorgeous Taupe Throw

You moved to the Hudson Valley from Bavaria. Can you tell us how that evolved and how the Hudson Valley became your home?

When we started breeding alpaca, we were torn between doing this in Australia of the U.S.. Because of the logistic and practical reasons, we decided in favor of the East coast.

The Hudson Valley, and especially the Millbrook / Dutchess County area is just beautiful, and conveniently located about 90 minutes from New York City - where it all happens. Yet, we are far enough from the city for our children to grow up running around the farm with lots of space and animals. We have made many wonderful friends from all parts of the world and consider this our home.

What does a typical day look like for Alicia Adams?

Getting our three children ready for the day and driving them to school. If I have time I go to my yoga class, which I love and then I'll go straight to the office. After following up with all my messages and emails, I like to check on the alpacas. My husband and I usually have lunch together and after working a little more, i transform into "mommy" again, picking up the kids, running to after school program, homework, dinner, the works! I consider myself being very lucky to share this life with my husband. Once everyone is happy, I'll g back to my desk and finish off undone work. A couple of day a week, I spend in the city.

What/who inspires you?

My husband Daniel inspire me. Over the years, I've learned so much from hm, I admire his energy, his way of tackling problems and "let's roll up our sleeves and get it done" attitude. Thanks to him, my vision for Alicia Adams Alpaca Inc. turned into a real business and we both take pride in the huge success. i also love the fact that thought my business, I can share my vision and educate people about the wonderful qualities and characteristics of alpaca wool.

Cozy and elegant Alpaca Cape

How would you describe your own personal style?
My style is very simple, elegant and feminine.

What is happening next?
I would like to expand our home collection. New colors for throws, perhaps upholstery fabric. We are also launching a line of overcoats for men, women and children as well as some fun winter accessories.

The new barn at the Farm

Just for fun, what color are you and why?
Definitely cream: soft elegant and adaptable!

What is on your nightstand?
Several arts and crafts projects of my children, many unread books and a big bottle of water.

What is your favorite place to shop and why?
Hmmmm.....I don't have one particular place but I do love casual yet classic style of J. Crew and Anthropology. When I find the time, i like strolling around small boutiques in downtown NYC.

What is your favorite place to escape?
Any beach will do, especially Mexican ones - yoga retreats on the beach.

Alicia Adams with a new member of the family
Alicia Adams Alpaca products are currently available in 30 of the finest retail stores in the US as well as selected stores in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Turks and Caicos, Switzerland, Turkey and Belgium.
For more information about Alicia Adams Alpaca collection, click on over HERE.
And to see more of those adorable alpaca babies, click over the the Farm HERE.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Remember These Guys?

The Novogratz Family
Robert and Cortney Novogratz, the owners of Sixx Design in NYC, are the couple who wrote Downtown Chic, a book that chronicles the renovation and decoration of their numerous houses, all while having six kids....wait....make that seven. They are fun, sophisticated and have created a sort of "formula" for living a stylish life with a brood of young kids in the heart of New York.
Well, guess what?
Bravo TV thinks they are worth a more personal look! If you want to see behind the scenes and into the life of this couple who seems to have it all, check out 9 BY DESIGN a new docu-series on April 13th at 11:00 ET/PT for the Premiere. (Moves to 10PM Tuesday, April 20th). It is an eight episode series where the couple take on a string of projects over a nine month period, taking the projects from wrecks to wonderful. Watch out HGTV!
Will you be watching?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wonderland: The Huntington Botanical Gardens

Path through the Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library
A week or so ago, I mentioned that I had traveled down to Pasadena to attend my high school reunion. I had brought my oldest daughter and my mother. They were not too interested in my reunion, but were very happy when I arranged for us to go to the Huntington Library Botanical Gardens with a reservation at the Rose Garden Tea Room.
It was a perfect day, but we were a bit late for our very important date. As I rushed ahead, leaving my daughter to walk a bit more slowly with Mom, I began to feel a little like this girl (especially after seeing her so recently!):
I rushed past our host's mansion, which was beautifully grand and is home to one of the finest European art collections in the nation, including the famous Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough and Pinkie by Sir Thomas Lawrence.
The Huntington Art Gallery, originally the home of Henry and Arabella Huntington

I trotted past the Exhibition Hall which houses an extraordinary collection of rare books and manuscripts including early editions of the works of Shakespeare and the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Huntington Library Exhibition Hall
I was uncertain which way to go, and the sun was getting lower

Rose Garden Trellis
This way or that?!

Wisteria Trellis
I asked along the way....but Neptune was not much help.

And Shakespeare seemed to be in his own world.

And this fine lady seemed too busy chasing her wayward child to be of much help.

I was almost led astray down a path almost too tempting to resist. But I knew we would not make it if I strayed.

Sculpture on the North Vista Lawn
But soon, I knew where I was. I was certain I had been here before...long ago.

Entrance to the Rose Garden Tea Room
Relieved to be here, I rushed in. They treated me as if they were expecting me. But of course they were!

My mother and daughter were not far behind. We sat and enjoyed our special tea while gazing out at the formal kitchen garden.

A day in Wonderland. It was over like a beautiful dream...too soon.

Later this week, a glimpse into the brand new Chinese Garden within the Huntington Garden Botanical Gardens. In a word, "magic".