MONDAY MUSINGS: WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT??!!

914DD8BA-0E7A-4835-937B-0AF625C6A4D6A question I have been asking myself, sorry for the lack of posts….lots of reasons, primarily a dead computer….a learning curve of doing nenasnotes on my iPad, let’s just call it frustration, confusion and loss of clear focus…let’s talk about it, shall we.

Perhaps it’s the lack of spring blooms, yes, they will come (I took the above photo last year in Harbor Country…I’ve referenced the grounds in many other posts), but then we rarely have spring until later, if at all. So I guess that’s not it.  I made a decision when I began my blog, a year and a half ago, that I wouldn’t do negative posts and I have stuck to that philosophy….so please let me vent this one time.  I decided to ask a consultant to help me toward my path to monetize nenanotes. I found the perfect person and we “clicked” immediately as friends.  During our delightful meetings over a period of time and lots of glasses of wine, I was advised to do lots of selfies, makeovers, talk about product, etc.  None of which is my style at all.  I’m not a pretty young thing who will have followers to buy what I  wear or droll over tutorials on how I apply my makeup …who cares!!! It has nothing to do with age but rather a preference of what my “mission/goal is”.  I think it is best to leave that to those who do it well. Guess what, I decided not to follow that advice (and it was excellent advice just not for me!) but continue on the path of my original plan to share my experiences in the world of fashion, do book reviews, explore collections, interiors (mine and others) share profiles of interesting people, my travels, in general talk about what interests me.  I do, however, have (suggested at my meetings) a smashingly glorious Media Kit produced by my dear friend, the extraordinarily talented, Christine Hawley, who also worked with me to produce my exceptional logo. I will use it for potential sponsors for nenasnotes. I’ll be happy to share the MK with any of you who are interested.

Okay, rant over. What do I have planned going forward, actually lots!!!  High on my list is to kick off my nenasnotes Fashion Book Club with Loulou & Yves by Christopher Petkanas. I will do a review, Christopher has asked me if I would post my review on the actual date of publication which is Tuesday, April 17th, I’m excited to do so.  It will be the first in my monthly Fashion Book Club choices and Christopher is interested in joining the discussion via Skype, too exciting for words! I will be announcing that May date soon along with the rest of the year’s exciting selections and surprises. Stay tuned!!!!!97B4DD29-93F9-46AC-AA9A-49F169C68071

I’ve been lax in sharing recipes with you lately…..sorry, I’ll correct that shortly. I love to make brownies and think mine are THE best (don’t we all!!!!!), I’ve made them forever.  For some unknown reason I had purchased a box of brownie mix as well as a can of fudge frosting and thought why not give them a try….I added pecans and vanilla to the brownies (sorry Tommy I was naughty and changed yet another recipe!!!) They were absolutely delicious and I think they are my new best!!!!!57807917-295B-4FE7-849E-EE9CDE411161

I am obsessed with looking at other peoples homes and gardens so you can bet you will see more of those, what did we do before Pinterest, I have zillions of clippings from magazines through the years as well as complete issues of some of my favorites, that is what we did. The photo below is a corner of my home (it was taken by Christine Hawley, I told you she is talented in so many ways!)…I’ve already done a post on paisley, there will be several on my needlepoint (some of which you can see on my built-in daybed) textiles, my lily of the valley collection in the breakfront and all over my home.  You can also see how I house some of my obsessive book collections, the two vintage bamboo shelves are mostly fiction and the tall slim bookcase (made for me by Harold Hawley, whom I profiled in my post on page-tuners) holds my collection of needlework books. You can also see lots of art on all surfaces. 3A576191-CDE5-4A95-9A76-C3124C09E84D

Gardens, of course….here is my favorite tree, in spring bloom, in Blue Island at the Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel home.  It is spectacular each season 9BB99CCF-DDB1-49FB-ABD5-3B44A670EAB8

As for my Profiles, I have a couple coming up that I know you will enjoy, waiting for photos on several and transcriptions on others. They are really, really outstanding and worth waiting for.  And always profiles of designers I have had the pleasure of working with.  Below I’m with Bob Mackie who has just launched his exquisite fine jewelry collection and is busy at work on the costumes for The Cher Show which will open in Chicago pre-Broadway in June…all too exciting for mere words!!D3B0A1F7-B99B-47B7-88BA-02BE1144DB92

Collections, of course, mine, and others and those found, like the assemblage below, at my favorite go-to monthly event Randolph Street Market

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From a magnificent private collection of English Ironstone.

Of course, I’ll continue to share fashion shows past and present such as the benefit for RefuSHE on Thursday, April 12th at The Cultural Center. The photo below is from last years show with a gown incorporating fabric produced by the members of the RefuSHE ccommunity in Africa and created by one our talented Chicsgo based designers. 1E65F7B4-9A5E-479F-A96C-806C2A046734I think I’ll cross out the makeup and keep wine…well maybe keep both on the top of my list…..your thoughts my friends!!0589C2AE-6CB4-4D43-B87E-3937333C121C

To sum up, in addition to the aforementioned topics, I’ve been asked to redo my Fashion Show Production class at Columbia College Chicago which i am very excited to do as well as a couple of other CCC projects, we shall see how they develop.

If there are topics you want to explore with me let me know.  Until Spting arrives…..0B5F6705-23E6-4917-B449-380810FA655D                      Photo from Pinterest credit unknown

 

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COLLECTIONS: PAISLEY TEXTILES

 

 

5E98AAE5-16F5-4ED0-B779-26F05FB81C60.jpegI’ve been fascinated with paisley forever and in my very eclectic home it works perfectly in many ways from draping the back of a chair, to pillows, to the layering of authentic vintage pieces, Ralph Lauren textiles, and modern fashion shawls on my day bed (I’ll feature the “made” bed in another post, it is a pillow explosion!!!!) to many other renditions of the paisley pattern.

In the above illustration you see how the paisley shawl was worn during Victorian Times. While watching the superb second season finale of VICTORIA on PBS (having planned on doing this post for a long time) I was thrilled to see the Queen pick up a paisley shawl and wrap it around her shoulders….heaven!!!

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Paisley’s origin goes back centuries in India, Iran and other countries but the name came from where it was manufactured in the 19th Century, Paisley, Scotland. Just as Queen Elizabeth II attended her first fashion show during London Fall 2018 Fashion Week to present the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design to Richard Quinn, she also made a huge endorsement to the British fashion industry. The same was true of Queen Victoria. This being said the royal presence and seal of approval is a huge boom to any industry in the UK.

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Some examples of paisley in clothing

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Wooden paisley fabric stamp

Above images from Pinterest photo credit unknown

There are many sites and articles and, of course, books where you will find more information on this glorious pattern. I wanted to share my own collection in my home as well as share some from my Pinterest account where you will find many more examples.

50D97176-BCB4-4E6E-9F1E-AA5AD1E4E7AF.jpegOne of my window ledges with vintage bamboo shelves (mostly holding novels and to be read books) collectibles (of course, many treasures found at Randolph Street Market ) and festooned with a vintage paisley fragment next to antique lace panels backed by two panels of green drapery, one silk one velvet perhaps overkill, to me not too much!!!!  Linda Heister helped me get the drape exactly right…took a bit of time with me standing on my build-in daybed and adjusting all the elements just so! She also gave me 4 pillows also made from vintage paisley fragments. They are unadorned, I will, at some point in time, do some trim.

5D3F6AF2-F441-4207-B8FC-976F30F8DFF4.jpegThe elements of the top of my painted antique French daybed one of my first purchases for my room when I was in high school. One piece I would always keep. The upper right you can see a peek of the base which is a fitted sheet from a long ago Ralph Lauren linen collection (I have several just in case one wears out) the stripe is a mix of pattern (I often use it as a table cloth especially for Christmas time dinners) on the bottom left the tradition paisley pattern which layers over the stripe and the black banded piece is a challis shawl from a Gloria Sachs outfit (worked with her on many personal appearance trunk shows at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago).  The outfit was three pieces, jacket, slim skirt and this shawl each a different paisley coordinating pattern, loved it, wore it, wish I had it now…more to the point wish I could fit into it now!  At least I can enjoy, and wear the shawl!

35D23D7B-0C0E-49C8-BA87-AF4BF86C5C6D.jpegThis pillow sham is at the head of my bed and holds my guest bed pillow  love the combination of paisley patterns  F153C9CD-D13F-454E-9924-BAD694F95EC3.jpegInteresting assortment….actually three paisleys the base is yet another vintage fragment that I used to “upholster” a love seat in the library area of my apartment, a few of my vintage pillows and two bolsters one more vintage paisley and the smaller piece made from a watered velvet paisley that I found in a remnant bin that I also had upholstered on my antique dining chairs (my point here is don’t walk away if there are holes, tears, small amount yardage, think of how you can use them in your decor…use your imagination and creativity). The lily of the valley rug  drapped over the caned settee is one of my many needlepoint projects. Most of my pieces I do from charts rather than painted pieces. I will do a story on my needlework later (of course I will!!!!!)

79D971F6-36CC-4D3D-9941-5218F60D6DF7.jpegI showed you this pillow in another post it was a gift from my friend and former boss, Michael Hawley (you can check the nenasnotes archives on his profile) he had it made for an Antiquity piece when he was at Gumps in San Francisco, yet another of my treasures. At the moment it resides on one of aforementioned watered velvet dining chairs.

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A closeup of one of my many full paisley shawls (this one is on my “comfy sit in all the time” chair) it is in mint condition…not always easy to find, especially the centers which are often solid red or black, and usually quite pricey. I have gone that route but LOVE to find that illusive bargain.  I actually found a beauty last summer at RSM! Love the treasure hunt, that is why I always look forward to the monthly Randolph Street Market. I don’t drive so can’t get to antique malls, etc. a joy that we can visit this always fascinating event right in the heart of the City….thank you Sally Schwartz!!

The above photos are my images

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The above  images are all from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX

CURRIED LAMB

I have done this recipe to rave reviews for years it is from the Life Picture Cookbook. I use leftover leg of lamb which I usually serve for Easter the recipe below call for lamb shoulder…choice is yours. You can substitute beef, veal or pork, I never have. I serve with small bowls of the following toppings…shredded fresh coconut, chutney, peanuts or pistachios, Golden raisons, chopped hard boiled eggs, perserved lemon slices, chopped green onions and lots of white rice. It serves 6. Does keep well if you have any left over it can be frozen without the add ons.

3 pounds lamb shoulder

1/4 cup flour

2 cloves minced garlic (I use the jarred garlic, which I love)

4 large white onions, sliced

3/4 cup butter

4 small apples, pared and chopped

4 Tablespoons curry powder (I use Spice Islands and probably add a bit more)

4 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

4 Tablespoons raisons

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

2 lemons sliced

4 Tablespoons shredded fresh coconut

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel

1 Tablespoon salt

Cut meat into 2-inch cubes, roll it in the flour.  Sauté the garlic and onions in butter in a large skillet for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add meat and sauté for 10 minutes (less is using leftover lamb), stirring constantly.  Add apples and curry powder.  Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the remaining ingredients and two cups of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.  The aroma is a killer!!!  Serve over white rice and accompanying garnishes. Enjoy. Suggested wine…your choice but I would do a love a full bodied red  Dessert I would do a fruit sorbet with season fruit and a slash of orange liqueur.

 

 

NENASBOOKNOTES: PAISLEY RABBIT AND THE TREEHOUSE CONTEST

 

9B407105-1DFD-4774-83F4-D555988CC8DFBefore you think I have gone totally mad stay with me…..I know this is a children’s book….but is it really.  Let me explain.  A new friend of mine, Brett Firdman, a major Media Influencer, knowing I love books, and she is no longer reviewing them, has referred nenasnotes to publishers, authors and publicists. This was the first I received. I immediately loved our heroine’s name (I collect vintage paisley and was planning a post on it…it will appear later this week) so I thought why not!  When I received the book, before I opened it, I was totally enchanted by the exquisite cover illustration. I have been enamored with books from birth.  Both my parents constantly read to me and when I started to read, well you know the rest…I haven’t stopped. I don’t have children but have always read to my friends children and grandchildren and their presents are always books. This one would be bought in bulk it is glorious in its prose and art…I want to live in Paisley’s treehouse.

The premise of the book is a lone girl rabbit, Paisley, is up against Jimmy Squirrel whose father owns the biggest construction company in the city. Jimmy challenges a close group of friends to a treehouse contest. Paisley has no building skills and no one to help her enters the contest. The story is motivational for all ages in seeing the so-called underdog take charge, get a team together and defying all odds create something magical while proving anything can happen with grit, nerve and a can do attitude. The result is extraordinary in so many ways.    Not only will children read this over and over, so will I.

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From the amazing insightful author, Steve Richardson when asked how he came up with the idea, “The book was inspired by watching my sister, Margaret Chambers who is an interior designer,  work on awe-inspiring and epic multi-million dollar houses.”

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Then he was asked what he thought was the most important message of the book, “The importance of not jumping into a project but taking it slow, doing research, thinking creatively and big.  Looking for ways to bring creative people together with all kinds of talents to work as a team.  Finally, it’s not just about winning but producing something that will help others when done.”

The artist, Chris Dunn, is only in his 20’s and this is his first children’s book.  His illustrations are glorious, I can’t wait to see what he does next. You can find him at www.chris-dunn.co.uk.

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Paisley writing thank you notes in her library.

My thanks to Smith Publicity for getting me this advanced copy, Impossible Dreams Publishing Co. releases the book on March 1, 2018.  My recommendation get it for every child in your life and be sure to get one for yourself it is a total delight.  Just you wait until you see the finished house, I want to find property and hire Paisley and her team to build my dream house!

 

FASHION FLASHBACK: LUCILE DUFF GORDON

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imageI have wanted to do a story on Lucile’s time in Chicago and have researched it for years, when I met Randy Bryan Bigham (see his Profile on nenasnotes on Monday, January 8, 2018) on Facebook I hit paydirt.  Randy is the reigning expert on all things Lucile and he has helped me find more information on Lucile Ltd. in Chicago.

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The story of Lucile Ltd. begins in London in 1890 and continued until the early 1920’s when she left the company (reluctantly!) She was the first to do many, many things that we now take for granted in the world of fashion…the first to release women from corsets (along with Poiret and others of the time) the first to create her own fragrance (note “French Novelties” in the advertisement above, that was how her fragrances were promoted!), exquisite lingerie and most interesting, to me, did the first “fashion parades” (fashion shows) using live mannequins.  She gave her garments provocative names and was a HUGE success in London, then New York and Paris.  If you GOOGLE Lucile Duff Gordon you will probably be taken to the Titanic site, she and her husband Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon sailed on the ill-fated crossing and were survivors of the sinking of the ship. Randy’s insight….”Yes it was awful but Lucile came through that bad spell and went on to become even greater. It has been said she was tainted by the scandal but I have not found that to be true. The press defended her and her publicity value only increased. So, while we may think of the Titanic today as the thing she’s most known for, that was absolutely NOT the case in her own day. She was hugely famous as a designer and public personality, and she continued to be celebrated well into the 1920s. It was a horrible tragedy to have witnessed, and the aftermath was very hurtful to her and her husband personally, but it was a blip on the screen of her life. At least that’s how I see it, and my research shows it was her fashions that kept her in the public eye and her amusing personality was also very entertaining. The Titanic was something to forget and the press seemed to feel that way too.”

imageLady Lucile Duff Gordon.

That is an entirely different story and one that has been told.  The new bit of information, to me, that Randy thought would interest me was two other passengers on board are part of my fashion history (many degrees of separation!)  From Randy… “You may be aware of this already but Leila Saks Meyer, the daughter of Andrew Saks, one of the founders of Saks, was on board the Titanic with her husband, Edgar Meyer. In fact, Lucile talked with the couple in the lounge on the fateful night the ship hit the iceberg. Leila Meyer survived in Molly Brown’s lifeboat, but Edgar was drowned with so many others in that terrible disaster.”

imageA page from Lucile’s memoir Discretions and Indiscretions.

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Sensing there was a market in the Midwest, especially Chicago, she sought a site where her clients lived, Lake Shore Drive, in a mansion that was directly across the street from the Potter Palmer Mansion which put her in contact with Bertha Honore Palmer and the rest of Chicago society.  In addition, she did a collection for the Sears Roebuck catalog to bring her vision to the “masses”!

imageThe doorman at the entrance of Lucile Ltd. in Chicago, the townhouse of Colonel Franklin McVeagh at 1400 Lake Shore Drive.

imageimage The Rose Room in the Chicago Salon. The images above graciously shared by Randy Bryan Bigham.imageFrom Pinterest photo credit University of Michigan.  Designers such as Bill Blass. who did the Lincoln Mark VII cars from 1979 to 1983, continued this tradition.  Again Lucile was one of the first!  Chalmers, like the Maxwell, is now owned by Chrysler

She came to Chicago in 1914 and in 1916 hired an unknown young man to work for her (he later traveled with her to New York, served in World War l returned to work for Lucile in Paris and other Parisian designers and then….Hollywood!)  That young man was Howard Greer who worked at Paramount Studios and also has his own couture and ready-to-wear collections into the 1950’s.  He was placed at Paramount Studios by a woman we all know, Edith Head! Again a story unto itself. Find out more about his time with Lucile Ltd. in his autobiography, Designing Male.  His description of the interior of the Salon… “Its paneled walls and inlaid floors remained as he (McVeagh) had left them.  Thick purple rugs lay on the showroom floors.  Curtains of gray satin draped the windows.  Gray taffeta upholstered the divans and chairs.  Glittering chandeliers hung like stalactites from the ceilings.  Until now I had known only the culture of and refinement of bird’s-eye maple and hand-painted china propped upon a plate rail and I spent most of my time ogling all this dazzling splendor from the vintage point of a doorway.  The people, too, were in no way reminiscent of my friends at home.  Mannequins, like haughty duchessses out of a Graustark novel, emerged from the little stage that was framed and clouded with gray chiffon curtains.  the saleswomen and their assistants wore rustling gray taffeta bouffants, and were patronizing and superior.”

imageHoward Greer around the time of his tenure with Lucile Ltd.imageA photograph and sketch from a film in the late 1920’s looks like a Lucile garment. Both images from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

The images below were graciously given to me by Jessica Pushor, Costume Collections Manager, Chicago History Museum 

imageimageimage This dress was donated by Mrs. Irene Castle Enzinger in 1953; it was created for her by Lucile when she appeared in Irving Berlin’s Watch Your Step, circa 1914.

imageimageDress, wedding-style, of off-white satin. Bodice trimmed with pleated self-fabric, white organdy, Chantilly lace, and sprays of satin flowers. Square neckline; elbow sleeves. Light blue satin sash at natural waist. Full-length skirt of white organdy trimmed with Valenciennes lace insertion and edge stiffened with whale bone. White satin overskirt lined with light blue satin. Petticoat of Pussy Willow silk (stamped on selvage “Genuine pussy willow”) with crepe chiffon ruffle.Worn by Katherine Keith at her marriage to David Adler on June 1, 1916.

imageimageDress wedding-style, of white silk satin. Bodice has low, square, lace-trimmed neckline in front. White satin flowers attached at proper left front corner of collar. Long fitted sleeves. Back satin buckle closure. Slim-fitting skirt; floor-length. Train of white satin with silk-thread embroidery of floral bouquet at base. Worn by Ginevra King for her marriage to William H. Mitchell on September 4, 1918.

imageimageCoat of black satin embroidered with multicolored chinoiserie pattern and ribbons. Wide sable collar. Fingertip-length sleeves with sable trim. Falls below the knee. Black and blue velvet lining. Worn by Margaret Harwood Stevens.  Lucile was known for its use of exotic motifs and silhouettes. This coat from the Paris branch reflects the taste for chinoiserie in French fashions around 1923.

Updated information from Randy Bryan Bigham…
“It’s important to know the coat post-dates Lady Duff Gordon’s association with the label. She left the year before the coat was made. Since a few of her designs were used in the house’s first collection after her departure (spring 1923), it’s possible the print or fabric was her choice, but the overall design may not have been. There had been disagreements about the aesthetic direction of the Lucile houses for several seasons, and she was decidedly on the outs with the company by that time, so all her ideas were not being adhered to, and sadly she was very much disrespected by the new director by 1922, when she was sacked as chief designer.”
You knew there would have to be a book (I gave you Randy’s superb monograph on Lucile in his profile….be sure to order it, it is a MUST have for any fashion library!)  And the author I am now presenting to you references Randy and his book along with other publications she researched.
Here is a novel by Karen Harper that I think you might enjoy, I did. What wouldn’t I like about a story set in Edwardian times (a bit before and a bit after) a historical novel, you know I love them, and not only about a designer I have always admired but her sister Elinor Glyn, the notorious author (at least at the time…her scandalous novel, Three Weeks, has been re-released, it was the Fifty Shades of Grey of it’s time).  It is a romance to be sure, the Sutherland sister’s love lives read like a romance novel but all based on fact and not always happy or successful. I was particularly taken by the affair between Elinor and Lord George Nathaniel Curzon, fascinating and tragic…. Of course, the book discusses the sinking of the Titanic but does not make it the defining moment of Lucile’s life. The book gives us glimpses of the people of the time from the Royals and the American women who married into English society (they had the money, the husbands had the titles…think Downton Abbey!) Hollywood stars, Broadway (Lucile designed for the Ziefeld Follies), and all the names of the time…The Duke of Windsor, Lillie Langtry, Elsie de Wolfe, Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow (supposedly Elinor gave her the title The IT Girl!) and on and on.  But it so much more than that it is the story of two independant women, way ahead of their time, knowing what they wanted to do with their lives and doing it their way. They were definitely The It Girls of their generation!  A good read.
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 A surprise…….
imageThis stunning sketch is from Rosemary Fanti from her Facebook page and she has given me permission to use it….the copy reads:  “Thank you, dear Nena Ivon, for piquing my interest with your fascinating blog on early 20th Century fashion designer #LucileDuffGordon.  Here’s my take on a thoroughly-modern-Lucile dressing gown design.”  Rosemary is one of Chicago’s treasures and an amazingly unique talent.  Do you think I can have her do a sketch of me…now that could be a very interesting post!

A FASHIONABLE CHRISTMAS

imageWhen these two gentlemen greet you at the door of Casa Hyder/Smith you know you are in for a great time, their annual Christmas Tree Trimming Party was not an exception.  I have been after Greg Hyder since I began nenasnotes to join me with his stories, all of a sudden he became shy and kept putting me off.  I finally said, “you are off the hook”!  A sigh of relief from him and then he thought better of it and said: “how about coming to our Tree Trimming Party and documenting it!”  Why not indeed! I have known Greg for years and Jim for just about as long.  I worked with Greg when I was still at Saks and he was always very generous with chefs from The Peninsula Chicago, where he is Director of Style and Community Relations, when I had events that featured the top chefs in Chicago, in addition he never said no to door prizes for special shows and events.  We have had many too many glasses of wine together, obviously both our sign of a good friendship!  Silly us!!!

Well, all I can say is when someone tells you they are obsessed with something believe them!  There isn’t a square inch of their exquisite home that isn’t decorated to the nines.  It is extraordinary, to say the least.  Let me take you through it, at least a little bit of it.  The scale is something else.  The tree is gigantic, I have no idea how they got it up three flights of stairs.

imagePicking out the perfect tree at Gethsemane Garden Center

imageLights on and the ornament placement begins….each area of the tree has its own themed ornaments, let’s look at some of them, there are hundreds!  Many collected on their trips and many are family traditions.

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imageimageimageimageAnd, of course, a Cubs section!!!!  Our hosts are avid Cubs fans!

imageSome baubles were held aside for the party guests, remember the theme of the day was a tree trimming party!!!!  We were told if their placement didn’t meet with Mr. Hyder’s approval off they would come (after the party!)  Pictured are Tim Emond, Becca Smith (Jim’s daughter), Julie Machmon and Jean Antoniou.

On to the Santas….

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The custom-made Cubs Santa next to the fireplace….glorious!!!!

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imageimageimageimageimageThe crystal chandelier is festooned with red ribbon and the bobeche are filled with cranberries rather than drippings of candle wax, finished with a huge ornament.

imageAnother chandelier looking from the hall into the living room.

imageThe hall from the living room into the rest of the home.

imageSanta has forgotten his hat on the bed…

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Jim’s painting over the chest in the bedroom, it is only displayed during the Christmas season, another takes its place the rest of the year.  I was quite taken with this painting.  Obviously a talented artist.

imageAnother wall in the bedroom, I love icons and have done a post on them.

imageOne of the bathrooms, of course, in its festive attire!

How about a couple of wreaths…..

imageIn the dining room..

imageAnd inside the backdoor in the kitchen….

imageThe back bedroom with its African theme gets in the holiday spirit!

imageimageimageThe drinks tables…special Christmas Mimosas, yummy!

imageThe tree in the corner of the dining room with more treasured memories

imageimageOh, and did I mention food……my oh my what a spread. Top photo the sweets table (I suggested a cookie exchange next year they were so good!!!!!) Bottom the baked ham, cheeses., paté, relishes and on and on and on……(I got a goodie bag, yay!!!!)

imageJim, Nena, and Greg in front of the tree (still wasn’t finished the tinsel had yet to be placed piece by piece by piece!) that rivals the one in The Walnut Room and this one is alive!!!!!  Thank you so much, my friends, for allowing me to share your Christmas story with my readers, I am most grateful!

The soup served was worthy of my having two cups, here is the recipe beyond fabulous but then so was the entire afternoon…

FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX

GREG AND JIM’S CREAM OF PUMPKIN SOUP WITH CURRY

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 1/2 quarts chicken stock

32 ounces (4 cups) canned pumpkin

2/3 cup brown sugar

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

Nutmeg to taste

2 cups heavy cream

Chopped chives or parsley for garnish

Serves 12

Melt butter in 6 or 8-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute for 5 minutes until translucent.  Add curry powder and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add chicken stock, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; blend in cream.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Adjust to desired consistency with a roux (equal parts melted butter and flour) or a whitewash (flour and water).  If too thin, cook an additional 10 minutes to cook out the starch.  If too thick, add more cream.  Adjust flavor with seasonings.

Blend in a blender until smooth and creamy.  Ladle into bowls or mugs and garnish with chives or parsley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLLECTIONS: BOTTLE BRUSH TREES AND OTHER CHRISTMAS TREES

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This display of bottle brush trees and small houses was found at the last Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com you will find similar trees at the last RSM of 2017 on Saturday and Sunday, December 16 and 17 from 10 to 5 along with many, many other treasures for yourself and for gifts.

We all know that Queen Victoria’s beloved husband, Albert, brought the Christmas Tree to England from his native Germany…you know I love to research my posts but unfortunately, there isn’t a book on bottle brush trees so I will regale you with photos today some with a brief note or two….enjoy.

I do have a couple of very small trees in my very small apartmenet but I am a collector of angels at Christmas.  However, we always had a magnificent tree each year.  My mother, Ruth, created miniature trees, for years, using friends and clients (we sold them in the Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago Holiday Boutique that I managed for many years, I posted about it last year, check the archives) costume jewelry to create these tiny gems….I only have a couple left, I have, over the years, given mine to her friends who wanted a token from her.

imageHere are two of Mom’s tiny jeweled trees I keep them out all year under domes, each is around 6″ tall.

imageHere is one of my collection of vintage Christmas angels holding a teenie tree.

imageA village with bottle brush trees in one of the bedrooms at Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel’s home (every room in the house as well as outside decor is in the festive Holiday spirit).

The above photos were taken by me with my iPhone 7.

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The above photos were taken just before the Council Oak Antiques, in South Bend, Indiana, Holiday Open House a few weeks ago (you may not find exactly what is pictured) by Patricia McMahon Smith’s son, Jack, especially for nenanotes.  I am obsessed with this Antique Mall, it is well worth the trip to South Bend in between your RSM vists.

While satisfiying my browsing Pinterest fetish I found the following pins, unfortunately uncredited photography but look at the many ways you can incorporate bottle brush trees and small live trees (you can plant these in your garden!) in your holiday decor.

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Just a reminder that the Christmas in Blue Island celebration is this Saturday, December 2….here are all the deets….

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And I leave you with another holiday recipe, forgive me if I posted this last year…I hope you will give it a try,  Next year I will soak the cherries in bourbon or brandy…it is truly a yummy cake that keeps well and is a greate hostess gift and/or grab bag gift.  Enjoy….

From Nena’s Recipe Box

BRAZIL NUT/DATE CAKE

12-16 oz. shelled Brazil nuts

1 lb. pitted dates

8 oz. candied red cherries

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Put nuts, dates, and cherries in large bowl.  Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt over nuts and fruit, mix until coated.  Beat eggs until foamy, add vanilla, stir into nut-fruit mixture until well mixed.  Turn into 4 small and l medium size pans that are well greased.  Spread batter evenly.  Bake at 300º for l hour and 45 minutes.  Cool before slicing with a saw tooth knife (the cake is very dense)  I used aluminum pans with plastic covers, tie with a pretty vintage bow.  Be sure to keep one for yourself! I have had this recipe since 7th grade, needless to say, a very long time!

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WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: THANKSGIVING 2017… A FEAST TO REMEMBER

imageI like to think we could have looked like this, but alas, we didn’t!  I know Thanksgiving is behind us but we still have Holiday events to plan in the next month and through the end of the year.  I thought some of our Thanksgiving plans might have some suggestions for your upcoming get togethers and I’ve included a recipe.

Let’s start at the beginning of my visit to Blue Island with Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel for their annual feast.  When I arrived on Tuesday morning Tommy (Tom M) picked me up from the Metra and we went directly to DeMars our usual breakfast place to fortify ourselves for the tasks at hand.  Tommy had already done most of the shopping, including the two turkeys and gotten most of the ingredients for our Thanksgiving dinner for 14, of course, we had to make our way to our usual grocery store, (whenever I visit it is a must) Mariano’s, to get more goodies and forgotten stuff.  Naturally, our visit included a stop at the wine bar for our customary glass of wine, mine a lovely rosé Tommy’s a nice white.  We also picked up some cheeses and paté for that night. While perusing the aisles I found three different duck presentations, I have never seen them in a grocery before and I adore duck…I must put them on my shopping list….a duck breast, a duck confit and a half of duck, pictured below…can’t wait to try them. While I love duck I am not a fan of cooking it…I keep you updated on how it is, as Ina Garten would say, what could be bad!

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One of the main reasons we went shopping was for oysters for the dressings (we were doing two one with oysters and one plain).  We finally found two cans there but needed at least 4…we went to every store in the area, Tommy took me home and went to several more stores finally found one more can, we made do with three.  We figured there must have been a run on oysters…even when we asked the staff at the stores they were surprised when they went to the shelves where they should be.  It was rather like a sitcom with us staring at empty shelves expecting the oysters to magically appear!  I spent the time cutting 6 loaves of bread into cubes to let them dry a bit.  So much for Tuesday.  Oh yes, we ate the cheese and pate, more wine, watching HolidayInn and WhiteChristmas…I always shed a tear at the end of that one!

Wednesday was more prep, I made my carrot mold (see the recipe in my archives, it is really, really good) setting the table, making some of the canapes and generally getting ready…we took a lunch break to use my gift card that I won with my gift basket from the Blue Island Christmas Lights Festival fundraiser (this Saturday, it is always a treat to attend, go it you can) I attended a couple of weeks ago, I posted that gift on my Instagram.  Off we went to Double Play Saloon (and it is really an old fashion saloon, great fun!)  Had a very good burger and a Blue Island brew our total tab was $20.00….back we shall go to spend the other $30.00!  Way too much fun.  Picked up the centerpiece did a bit more prep and got ready to go back to the City to see Escape toMargaritaville…pre-Broadway.  We picked up Christine Hawley (Tom H’s sister) from work and made our way to The Dearborn for dinner, one of my most favorite restaurants in Chicago.  Always fabulous food and both the Lawless sisters greeted us and told us they were closed for Thanksgiving to give their staff time with their families, I love the Lawless family, they are THE best!  We left Blue Island quite early thinking traffic would be hideous, it wasn’t so more wine and martinis for us waiting for Tom H to join us.  imageIt was a lively fun show, I must admit I’m not much of a Buffett fan but did enjoy the engery of the performers.  Back to the Island for us and to bed to get ready for the big day….

imageThe tables ready for the guests…such fun to play in someone else’s home with their linens, china, glassware, etc.

Getting the dressing ready….do you think that is enough butter…I did perfect my knife skills (definitely not my forte!) chopping celery, onions and, of course, cubing the bread.  I’m happy to say I didn’t cut myself…yay!!!

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imageI want to do this next year…stuffing “muffins”…found on someone’s blog, sorry didn’t keep info but you can use your own recipe.  We put some stuffing in each bird and the rest in casseroles.

imageHot carrot mold slid out perfectly, I precut and plated.

imageThe Tom’s cranberries which we made a couple of weeks ago….yum, yum, yum!!!!

imageTwo of these babies and they were perfection, Tommy decided to use the Confection Oven and they were really, really perfect and delicious and cooked much faster!image

We had cocktails and nibbly bits (oh, yes I made Christy’s dip and cubed the rest of the Standing Rib Roast I had made for Tom’s Birthday a couple of weeks before and the beef from the Beef Wellington Christy had made for his actual Birthday).  Christy and Vicki (Tom H and Christy’s sister) brought some other goodies and Elenor (I have given you recipes from her recipe box on past posts and she has promised me more….yay!) brought two amazing pies…a pumpkin and my all time favorite, mince (which I also ate for breakfast the next morning, I would have eaten the entie thing it was that good!)  The guests arrived around 1:30, the Hawley’s Elenor and Harold, Vicki her husband John and their kids, Emily, Madeline and Jack along with Remus and his mother, Victoria, Ralph and us…..great festive group. Lot’s of food, wine, and great conversation.  No one went home hungry that I can assure you.

imageIncluding the squirrels, who were devouring the pumpkins on the side of the house.  It was fascinating to watch…I think they will probably explode!

Here is the menu….

Turkey

2 Dressings

Giblet and Plain Gravy

Cranberry Sauce

Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Glazed Carrots

Carrot Mold

Corn

Green Bean Casserole

Crescent Rolls

Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

Mince Pie and Hard Sauce

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imageMy Toms with me at the feast….

imageAnd in actuality…Tommy, Nena, and Tom……

From Christine Hawley’s Recipe Box

East Indian Sour Cream Dip

Mix and refrigerate…can be used with anything, veggies, chicken, beef, shrimp…etc.

1/2 cup minced scallion or green onion

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 cup sour cream

PROFILE: LIZ KLAFETA ENTREPRENEUR EXTRAORDINAIRE

imageLiz Klafeta

In all the Profiles I have done this past year I have either featured my former models, other friends, business associates and new acquaintances all of whom have had fascinating stories to tell.  Today I am featuring a wonderful success story of one of my former Columbia College Chicago students, Liz Klafeta.  I was invited to attend an event at a new West Town apartment building that was a Networking reception and panel discussion about how to use technology to your advantage in advancing your career path, it was fascinating.  Samantha Saifer Berngard, (last week’s Profile!) our hostess, pulled together a perfect mix of speakers and, in turn, has given me the opportunity to feature four of them, including herself in my Monday posts.  I was thrilled to reconnect with Liz, I haven’t seen her since she graduated.  She has an extraordinary story to share…..let’s see what she has been up to (it’s a lot!)

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

Hmm….I definitely obsessed and spent a lot of time contemplating and thinking about things whenever I was or am designing a project.  When other people see what I completed and their mouths would drop open, I thought I might be onto something.  Continual praise from multiple people helped as well. That’s actually when I knew the other person was not just being nice and maybe I was doing something well because everyone just isn’t THAT nice!

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN

“Made it” well that is a pretty secure statement and I don’t think anyone should ever get super secure! I still don’t think that I have “made it”, but I do know that I make spaces that people really enjoy staying in.  The letters and notes from countless guests have reassured me of this and having my home featured on HGTV helped solidify this feeling.

We grew 100% the first year, 100% the next year, and now BANGTEL consists of 6 full-time employees and many independent contractors in each city of our locations. Last year, 3 people tried to buy into us.  It was like an episode of Shark Tank.  That’s also when I realized we had something special. BANGTEL is still 100% owned by myself, currently.

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HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

I love transforming things into something completely different.  I was constantly remodeling my mom’s home when I was little to the point where it annoyed her.  I got into Fashion Styling and Prop Styling was less to things to schlep around believe it or not.  You could not bring 5 credenzas to set, but you could bring 5,000 turtlenecks to set.  As I continued to do more Prop Styling, I was also simultaneously rehabbing my townhouse that I purchased when I was 23 years old.  When this was completed and I had officially gotten burned out on the advertising world, I started hitting up landlords to see if I could rehab their homes on my dime.  So silly, but that’s how bad I wanted to design.  Let me pay for your rehab as a bargaining tactic for the landlord to let me Airbnb. I love designing and I love taking care of people so here I am, perfectly content!

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WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

Singer, but I can’t sing so that was never REALLY an option.  This current career choice was a complete accident, but a happy one!

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER

Favorite Book is probably “Many Minds, Many Masters” because it put my mind at ease early on about what is life all about and why are we here.  I still buy copies and hand it out to my friends.  I think every single one of my friends has gotten a copy from me.

Favorite dish is the greek salad with smoked salmon from 12 Chairs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  I don’t eat or smoke crack, but I think there must be crack in it because it’s an addiction.  Please, everyone, go there so it never ever goes out of business!  It also doubles as my office when I am in New York working.

HOBBIES….

Laughing, dancing, coffee, catching up with friends and family, having amazing meals, dancing, reading interior magazines, designing, and, did I say dancing?

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

Well, people live in my real home full time, but it is pretty modern and eclectic.  My future home when I am happy with where BANGTEL is, (not sure if that will happen because I honestly want to be everywhere and pretty much live in the spaces as I design them), will be a lot of glass, tile, and burnt charcoal wood. Cement integrated sinks and countertops, amazing art, and oddball sculptures that make people say, “What the hell?”  That’s what I love to do.  Inspire people to say, “what the hell?!”

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WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

OMG, this is a fun one!  David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, John F Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Twiggy, Cher, Bob Marley, Dahli Lama, Anne Frank, Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Banksy, and Princess Diana.  EEK.  That’s 13 (Nena’s note I added Liz so it is 14…never mind!), but I think that is a great mix.  Kind of sounds like a BANGTEL party where you could find the Dominatrix talking to the Trademark  Lawyer about her favorite vacation spot.  I, of course, would serve Champagne from the South of France and an unlimited Seafood Tower. Dessert would be truffles and my sister’s, Gina Klafeta, vegan ice cream sandwiches, called Nana Creme www.nanacreme.com go buy them!

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FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST

Capetown probably because I said I wanted to buy a place there in a year. I have not made it back yet because there are so many places I want to make it to at least once.

I am a sucker for amazing beach vacations, though, so Phuket, Thailand, or Maui have been my favorites.

ON this list this year is Iceland and New Zealand.

FAVORITE NEW CHICAGO RESTAURANT

Beatnix, which is owned by my favorite place to dance, Disco at Celeste. Get the Tomahawk Steak and the oysters.

FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART

What comes to mind right away is because when I am here I drive down Grand and Damen a lot.  It is the teddy bear mural by JC Rivera www.jcrivera.com  I always smile at Giant teddy bears on a random building. Cool. Haha.

imageimagePhotos from Pinterest credit unknown.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

Kind and fucking hilarious!

imageAll photos of Liz and her BANGTEL properties are courtesy of Liz Klafeta.

LIZ’S FAVORITE RECIPE: THE BEST GUACAMOLE OF YOUR LIFE!

4 avocados

1 tomato

1/2 red onion

2 jalapeño peppers

Cilantro

2 limes

Sea salt

SWEET STUFF

Raw Samoas

The good tortilla chips from the Mexican Grocery Store!

LIZ’S FAVORITE LINKS

BANGTEL.com!   Follow us on social and stay with us in Chicago, MIAMI, New York, Cabo, Michigan and soon to be Palm Springs.

My amazingly talented friends:

http://colleendurkin.com/

https://www.jasonrobinette.com/

http://aleksevaphoto.com/

https://www.natashagornik.com/

http://briansorg.com/

LIZ, A MILLION THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON MY NENASNOTES JOURNEY AND SHARING YOUR EXTRAORDINARY CAREER PATH…CAN’T WAIT TO DO A “STAYCATION” AT ONE OF YOUR PROPERTIES…I WOULD SAY NEXT STEPS A HGTV SHOW AND BOOK!  I’LL LOOK FORWARD TO POSTING CHAPTER 2 ON MY BLOG!!!

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: THE ADDRESS

imageI have been waiting for this book to come out for months, having enjoyed Fiona Davis’ first book The Dollhouse and anticipated a good read, I wasn’t disappointed!  I usually don’t like plots that go from one time to another, this one begins in 1884 and then travels to 1985, this is done in different chapters.  In this case, it works extremely well and brings the story to contemporary times.

We begin at a luxury hotel in England where our protagonist, Sara Smythe, is head housekeeper and sees a little girl balancing on a window ledge, rushes to save her (which she does), the father of the little girl, Theodore Camden, is so grateful he offers Sara a position at the soon to be opened Dakota, in New York where he is one of the architects and project manager.  She thinks the offer is not sincere but because she saved his daughter.  Shortly after Camden, his wife and children return to New York, Sara receives a ticket and travel expenses to join them.  Without much hesitation, she boards her ship and sails for New York and her new life….by the way, all this is in the first few pages of the book!

When she arrives at the Dakota she is stunned by the size, the beauty of the structure and the location, in the middle of nowhere, remember this is 1884.  Sara finds herself as managerette (don’t you love this title!) and totally in charge of basically everything.  She is very much up to the task and the new apartment dwelling opens beautifully.  Naturally, she lives in the building as does Theo and his family.

We then meet our other protagonist, Bailey Camden, a modern young woman who is an interior decorator and has just been released from rehab where she was treated for alcoholism and drug addiction.  Her boss has taken care of her rehab expenses and promptly fires her.  Her “cousin” (are they really cousins!!!!???) and friend Melinda, is rehabbing an apartment in the Dakota with the idea of making it very modern much to Bailey’s chagrin.  As part of their agreement, Melinda allows Bailey to live in the apartment during the renovation along with the promise of her fee when Melinda turns 30 in a few weeks and receives her substantial inheritance. If you have ever been in the building you know it is tradition personified and still considered a prestigious building, it is a stunner.

Both stories have lives of their own but, of course, mesh together as well. We meet many characters along the way, learn about New York as it begins to become the City we all know and love by learning about its architecture, go inside an insane asylum (not my favorite part of the story, I felt it was a bit long), the glamour of the Gilded Age and the excess of the 1980’s New York scene.  My take away was how talented women, in any age, with the drive, the know how, skills and willingness to succeed do so.  A feminist story, perhaps, but more one of human nature, self-worth and lots and lots of intrigue along the way, romance, yes that too!.  Did I like the book, yes, indeed I did!

From the last paragraph on the fly leaf of the book….”A century apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted and struggled against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the nightlife’s free-flowing drinks and cocaine—and take refuge in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress.”

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: FAVORITE PINS THIS WEEK: GREEN

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I became addicted to Pinterest this weekend and found all manner of wondrous images of my all time favorite color…..green!  So why not do a post on all things green. Few words just glorious images like the above collage I prepared for the blog! I will identify my own photos, some may be repeats (sorry!) but mostly they are pins I have saved and don’t have photo credits

imageI adore color samples, here one of Pantone’s green palettes, these are the greens that are the most attractive to me, however, I do love all greens!

The following quote is attributed to the book,  Green: The History of a Color by Michael Pastoureau published by Princeton University Press (one of his series of books on color, I ordered mine immediately from www.amazon.com!!!!) “The color green is fickle, mutable, variously the color of love, youth, irresponsibility, but also madness, debauchery, and the underworld”.  

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imageFrom Carolyne Roehm www.carolyneroehm.com using an Ikat textile for her table setting, her “eye” is brilliant in all things, whether flowers, gardens or interiors.

imageAnother tablescape from Carolyne Roehm

 

imageI not only love this photo but want everything in it!!!! It is so me!

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I could live in any of these rooms and take inspiration for not only the color and the weathered look of the rooms but all the details large and small.

imageBeautifully detailed tiles.

imageA magnificent garden path leading to a secluded nook.

imageThe entrance to Monet’s home in Giverny

imageA fantastically beautiful solarium….

imageIvy on a brick wall from a weekend in Harbor Country my photo

imageA wood in Indiana my photo

imageI am mad for this capture….an exquisite bird sitting on a fern frond

imageFerns in a Blue Island garden my photo

imageI know I have posted this but it is a beauty with the gold embellished embossed leather binding, you might find something similar at the Newberry Library www.newberry.org Book Sale this week, Thursday through Sunday, July 27 through 30  or at this weekend’s RandolphStreet Market  www.randolphstreetmarket.com Saturday and Sunday.

imageMy all time favorite tree, a weeping redbud in full leaf, also in a Blue Island garden my photo

imageCan you believe this is a cabbage!  It is amazing and HUGE, the shades of an almost metallic green are extraordinary, another shot from my Harbor Country weekend.

imageI know I did this in another post but had to feature it again, John Galliano for Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall 2006 (the Collection I was fortunate to witness!!!!) Vogue photograph

imageA truly spectacular conifer in Harbor Country, my photo.

 

www.randolphstreetmarket.com

www.newberry.org