Monday, May 22, 2017

HGTV'S New Hit Show HOME TOWN - Erin and Ben Napier

Erin and Ben Napier with Ben's iconic, vintage 1962 Chevy pickup truck with his Scotsman furniture logo.

Sitting on the front porch this afternoon I was trying to decide how to write this blog post.  The birds were singing and the breeze was gently blowing the elm tree in the center of our yard, and I was finishing a black tea, lemonade with no sweetener from Starbucks ...  I could hear the line from Ben Napier, "We just want to give all the old houses some love."  That was it, love.  The new hit show from HGTV -Home Town, with Erin and Ben Napier has so much heart ... He is a craftsman, she an artist, and together their love for each other, and their home town of Laurel, Mississippi comes through in spades (I thought it might be too much to say hearts).  You just want to have them over for BBQ, or for a pancake breakfast after church.  They are the kind of people that make you want to move to a small town, roll up your sleeves, and help carry in a sofa.   Here in California they are on Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM, which I DVR and we usually watch it the next day.  Ben and Erin, with several of their friends, also own and run Laurel Mercantile, with an online shop for those of us who don't live in Mississippi, which includes Ben's beautiful craftsmanship, Scotsman Co. Furniture, and Erin's new line of wallpaper.  I hope you tune in tomorrow night, Tuesday, for the season finale... you're going to love them. 

Some pictures of Ben and Erin's warm and inviting home:

Erin's restored 1988 Grand Wagoneer named Ouida, after her grandmother.

Erin and Ben, who she lovingly calls BIG, he is 6'6 and she is 5'5 and they are perfect for one another.

Erin and Ben, Congratulations on your success, this is just the beginning.  If you are ever in Cali, and need anything let us know.  Lunch or dinner is on us.

To view photos, videos, and episodes:

To shop, read Erin's Daily Journal, and hear more of their story:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Authentic French Living - Straight To Your Home

There are some who inspire a way of living, designing a life filled with family and friends, where creating and sharing are a way of life... for me the blog My French Country Home by Sharon Santoni is the place I go to for inspiration.  I once wrote on her post, "Sharon, this is life as it should be", that still rings true for me today.  She inspired us with her first book My Stylish French Girl Friends, and her second book, My French Country Home - Entertaining through the Seasons, will be out in August.  The beauty is, she has made a way for us to bring authentic French living straight to our homes with her subscription box.  

May for me, speaks of flowers, gardens, the beginning of en plein air lunches, and roses ... always roses.

Sharon created a way of sharing her love of flowers and of French country living with us with her  exquisite My Stylish French Box.

I had the pleasure of winning the May box, it was perfectly fitting as the theme was roses.

Detailed to perfection with materials of the highest quality... was the essence and artistry of the French, including a beautiful Watercolor and collection of note cards by artist and illustrator  Jeanne McKay Hartmann.

Merci Sharon, the fragrance of roses has scented my home and it is intoxicating!  

For more information and to purchase, click here

To Pre-Order, click here

Friday, April 22, 2016

Scandinavian Style: A Serene Summer House by Designer Marshall Watson

S W E D I S H   S T Y L E

Gustavian antiques, painted furniture, light filled rooms, a place for family...

On an island in an archipelago off the coast of Stockholm, Sweden, American designer Marshall Watson transformed a 1970s northern Swedish style, hand-hewn, square log home into a serene, timeless Summer House which, along with its guest house, barn, and the accompanying cottages, is the quintessence of Scandinavian style.  The main house with its layers of cream, green, and pomegranate red is very common in Swedish folk art, and is embellished by painted furniture and the ubiquitous plaster fireplace surrounded by large casement windows to let in the light.  The tranquil guesthouse, with it's palette of sky and sea, foggy blues, along with soft grays and whites, is all refinement and ease and oh so pretty.  Though he is New York based and Kansas City born, designer Marshall Watson has projects throughout the U.S., London, Mexico, Sweden, and Tokyo; his designs are as varied as they are beautiful, from a Cabo hacienda, to a St. Helena Vineyard Estate, and the Time Warner Building in NYC, to a Nantucket Escape.  I will definitely be showcasing more of his inspirational work in the near future, but for now, here is the perfect spring-get-away to start your weekend.  I hope it's lovely where you are ...

"You rarely see dark wood, because the whole idea is to invite more light into a room.  Floors are painted white or scrubbed so thoroughly that they look as if they were bleached... "

"Rooms will be lit by candles every night, even during the summer months... And there are mirrors, lots of mirrors, to reflect the glow and double the sense of light."

"It really is idyllic.  These clients - he's American, she's Swedish - live in the United States but move over here for six weeks every summer.  It was important to them that their three daughters have a close relationship with the wife's family.  Now the girls are almost grown and completely bilingual, and they have a whole set of Swedish friends."

"...I divided the walls into panels, to accentuate them.  I wanted to make you really look at those angles, as opposed to pretending they're not there.  The panels are upholstered in a trellis pattern, and you'll notice there's a lot of air in the design."

"Traditional Swedish patterns, like the checks on the bed skirt and the stripes at the window, are simple and airy.  It's as if they wanted to let in more light, even through the fabrics."

"Foggy blues, soft grays, and whites.  But everything is blurred,  even the whites have a bit of blue or gray in them.  You rarely see bright white in Sweden."

"They're neutral colors.  In the U.S. we think of neutrals as beige, gray, or off-white - all basically derived from brown."

"Swedish neutrals, in contrast, have the sky or the lake in them, rather than the earth. There's a bit of blue in the green and a bit of green in the blue, and everything is softened with a touch of gray."

"These colors are peaceful and restful, because they all have hues in common and they all have a similar value on the scale light to dark.  That makes for a very tranquil space."

Photos from HouseBeautiful March 2016 Issue
Photography by Luke White
Quotes - Interior Designer Marshall Watson

Friday, April 15, 2016

Designing Life's Celebrations - New York City's Premier Event Designer: DeJuan Stroud's New Book

"It's important to note that making a celebration memorable doesn't have to mean making it formal and fussy...  my goal is to create a setting that gives people lasting memories... When you bring beauty, care, and attention to an occasion you mark the moment- for a lifetime."

For me, entertaining is about celebrating life as well as special events; spending as much time with loved ones and friends as possible.  This is something I learned from my mother who never missed a beat, from flowers to delicious food.  Not every event was a grand affair, sometimes it was flowers from her garden with tea at the kitchen table to view her dear friend's newest grand-baby pictures, other times it was elaborately themed birthday parties for my brother and I, or lovely candlelight evening soirees with business partners and friends.  Everything was always done with flowers and a beautifully set table.  Once, she set up the patio with potted hibiscus and earthenware dishes for a bon voyage party for her friends' upcoming second honeymoon...  Inspired by my mom, I am always looking for new ideas and how to's for entertaining.

I was first introduced to the gorgeous designs of the very successful New York event designer DeJuan Stroud while researching corporate party ideas.  What I found were pictures of spectacular events that were at once beautiful and inviting.  I was thrilled to learn of the release of Mr. Stroud's first book Designing Life's Celebrations, fulfilling his dream to inspire and encourage everyone to bring flowers and beauty into their lives in effortless ways.

DeJuan Stroud grew up gardening with his parents and grandmother in Alabama, he watched them as they were greeting guests and arranging flowers, and he saw the joy that they took in celebrating life's milestones.  After a successful run on Wall Street, he launched Dejuan Stroud, Inc in 1996 with his wife Debra; twenty years later, he is one of the most successful event designers in New York City.

His new book is beautifully written, filled with gorgeous photos and helpful how to's - showcasing that every event tells a story.  From a Venetian-inspired birthday, to a lovely garden luncheon, you will be inspired to design each and every one of your life's celebrations.   Designing Life's Celebrations is a welcome gift for a hostess and a must-have for your entertaining library.  Here is just a sneak peak.  Enjoy!

"These four photographs are from the wedding of my daughter, Emily.  She carried a bouquet of cream Vendela roses, green ornithogalum, Iceberg roses, and variegated hosts leaves.  The room was set with a long tables in the shape of the letter E in tribute to Emily and her husband, Eric.  Flower arrangements of several different styles were placed down the lengths of the tables; a Venetian vase held a simple bouquet of Sterling roses.  The floral arrangements were all low, and candles added height to the tables."

From Part I
An Elegant Dinner in Greenwich
Romance at Home
Just Desserts
Contemporary Loft Dinner

"Often when I speak to the parents of our brides and grooms after a wedding, they say that they wish they could experience the whole evening all over again.  Debra and I felt the same way, so when Emily's in-laws came to our house for dinner a few months after she and Eric were married, I thought it would be fun to relive the wedding dinner by setting the table with a scaled-down version of their wedding decor..."

"The table was set with antique glassware and silverware, simple silver-bordered white china, natural linen napkins, and pretty place cards by the wedding calligrapher."

From Part II
By Day
In the Garden
An Old-Fashioned Ladies' Lunch
Bold Bridal Shower
Bohemian Alfresco
Vintage Road Trip

"When four long-time friends who are avid gardeners came together for a late-spring luncheon, the hostess' garden was the natural choice for the location..."

"The table's centerpiece was a profusion of spring flowers.  This abundant bouquet of anemones, Mascara, viburnum, ranunculus, nerines, parrot tulips, and hyacinths was a bit oversized for the table, marking the luncheon as a special celebration.  
Chinoiserie-style chairs painted neon pink punctuated the garden setting."

"I'm having a Meet the Fockers luncheon... Because she is a venerable New York City hostess known for her creative parties with interesting themes and notable guest, I knew that it was important for the decor to have impact and a certain élan.  After several conversations, we settled on an al fresco lunch in a colorful Bohemian style. ..."

"The casual Bohemian style of the table was well suited to the patio setting.  An overhead view shows the unusual blue stain on the table and the bold striped canvas chair-back covers and cushions. Dried artichokes held the napkins in place."

"With bright flowers, casual ceramic dishes, bowls of cold soup, and colored glasses, the table epitomized summer dining."

From Part V Workbook
Flowers and Containers
Breakaway Bouquets
Potted Plants
One Arrangement, Three Ways
Caring for flowers

"One of the sweetest techniques I have used over the years is to create a breakaway bouquet.  ... several small bouquets placed close together in one vase to create what appears to be single large arrangement.   ..."

"At the end of the party, the arrangement can easily be disassembled and the small bouquets wrapped in tissue paper, tied with ribbon, and given to guests as they leave.   ..." 

"...The recipe for each bouquet is three roses, three anemones, two Italian diathuses, six ranunculus, six stems of Viburnum Lucidum, and one small artichoke on its stem."

A sincere thank you to Elizabeth Cohen at Jill Cohen Associates- Where Beautiful Books Begin for the opportunity.  

A thank you to Ron Longe at Rizzoli USA for providing this beautiful book.

Photographs by Monica Buck
Quotes curtesy of DeJuan Stroud

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spring Recipe: The Most Beautiful Easter Cake that can be adapted for Mother's Day

My son's dessert of choice is cake, so when I recently saw this Easter-themed recipe from Country Living with three layers of fluffy white cake covered in coconut buttercream frosting, store-bought robin's egg candies, and charming edible phyllo nest, I decided to make it over Spring break, and couldn't resist sharing it with you.   For Mother's Day use pink or yellow food coloring instead of the blue, and add fresh roses around the base.  If you have a Spring Baby Shower coming up, change out the eggs for rattles and/or teething rings for the new baby.  However you choose to serve this gorgeous cake, it will be a show stopper that looks too good to eat ... but you and your guest will.

Have a lovely weekend!

*Photos by Michelle Profis

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