Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dinner Party Farewell

I am the luckiest girl to have such wonderful friends! Last Saturday night, my friends got together to host a dinner party to celebrate my move to the Carolina's.   A lot of fun was had with the decorations- lots of country humor about my relocation to rural Madison county , north of Asheville, NC.   There's a saying about the county- "if you shake a tree, a guy with a banjo will fall out of it"!

Right by the front door was a guy with a "banjo" in the tree!!!
Appropriately dressed in a plaid shirt, suspenders, cowboy boots and blue jeans!

 A little more "off the grid" humor at the front door!  
Stepping inside Julie's home, I see all my friends dressed in plaid shirts and overalls!  
 I wouldn't have thought they knew where to buy them! And they actually looked pretty cute.

But then- a bit of beauty appeared!
  A gorgeous bouquet of peonies, purple hydrangeas, and berries in a rusty  sap bucket! 
Divine, divine, divine.

It was placed on a rusty tartan throw-

                               Mason jars and pie tins were used for the place settings- very clever! Elegant silver chargers and vintage stemware were used to balance the country elements! 

Dinner was wonderful.  All the girls prepared a different recipe from our Romancing the Home Entertains Cookbook and we dined like country royalty!   Crab cakes, pimento cheese, asparagus and tarragon dipping sauce, deviled eggs, Gail's tuna dip, beef tenderloin with Henry Bain sauce, green beans with shrimp salad, macaroni and cheese, and on and on- it was an incredible feast. 

Squirrel in camo-  crowned with a rhinestone crown- guards the cake with a bow and arrow.

A huge cake embellished with pink overalls and a silver tiara was dessert! 
 Yummy almond filled vanilla cake with berry filling.
As the lucky guest of honor, I took the beautiful flowers home to enjoy for the week!

I had to photograph them in natural daylight to see their beautiful color.

The blooms on the peonies were 8 inches wide-

Lost in the center of this fabulous bloom.
The center detail of the peony.
Wouldn't this be a beautiful mural on the wall in my new home?
Thank you girls for a wonderful evening-one I will never forget! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Kitchen Sink

We have finally started to pour the foundation for our new home in North Carolina.  We hit a large piece of rock while excavating and that really slowed down the progress, but we are now building again!  

When you are waiting for your dream home to be built, it occupies your thoughts much of the time.  It  gives you time to really pursue and examine which products that you ultimately want in your home.   Last week, I researched kitchen sinks.  I am going to need two of them- one for the scullery larder and one for the entertaining kitchen- known as the dining hall.   The larder scullery will be the kitchen that is used for preparation and clean up of meals- think of it as "back stage", while the dining hall will be used for the cooking and entertaining part of the meal.  Think of it as "on stage"!  So I need two sinks- one very utilitarian and functional, and one that is drop dead gorgeous and used more sparingly. First let me share the  kitchen design in order to understand the layout.

For the past 10 years, I have coveted the German Silver Sink,
and knew that if I ever would remodel or build a new home, I would use it.

With it's signature s curve in the middle and the brass fittings, it is a piece of jewelry for the kitchen.
It is pricey- actually the highest priced sink that I considered - but to me- worth it!

Lots of finishes and configurations

Antique German Silver Sink on 1st Dibs-   already sold- dang !
However when the cost estimate for our home came in so much higher than the budget, I began to
challenge every design decision's cost and look for alternatives.  What an eye opening experience!

First I started collecting pictures of kitchen sinks on Pinterest and I loved this look.
Integrated with a carved drain board.  That would be so beautiful.

Next I thought I should add a little more rustic elements to the dining hall mix. This carved stone
farm sink from Stone Forest was a winner and retailed for a quarter of the cost of  the German Silver Sink.

My friend Jill is using the classic white Shaw farm sink in her new kitchen.  A real winner for its clean design and extreme functionality  with the deep large bowl.  Maybe something classic like this would tame my mix of rustic and elegant elements.   I have always admired this sink.
But then- one morning while browsing Pinterest- my heart stopped.  I found the one-

Officine Gullo  made in Florence, Italy.  I simply had to have this in my kitchen.
It is perfect in its brass finish to blend with my French range brass details.  Look at the adorable stopper and the towel bar on front.   I can only imagine this sink when it is tarnished and used- just like it came from a Tuscan farmhouse.  And the bonus- it is one half of the price of my beloved German Sink Sink and I love it even more. 

The sliding brass drain board- my, my, my goodness.
I called the US  Officine Gullo office and inquired about the sink.  It takes about 3 to 4 months to order and some customization can be done.   Love it!
Go to their website to find tantalizing kitchens, but especially look at the sinks.

 This one makes me want to design a corner sink!  
I think this one would be a perfect bar sink- or even in a powder room.
They are all so beautiful, it is hard to decide.
Now on to the scullery larder sink.  This one needs to be extremely functional.
As you can see from the floor plans, I need to maximize counter space in the larder, as my extensive dish and crystal collections ( that I can't seem to part with )  take up a lot of the wall spaces. 
It's pretty funny as I think about it- I can leave my grown children in Chicago, but I can't seem to leave my dishes???  Something's wrong here!
 My husband and I visited the Kohler showroom in Kohler, Wisconsin and found the perfect  solution for more counter space.
The Kohler Stages sink is an impressive 45 inches in length , but can be used as counter space with the cutting board and ceramic inserts. 
"Designed in collaboration with the chefs at Kohler's Five Diamond resort hotel, Stages meets the needs of the serious home cook. The Stages sink comes with a full array of integrated accessories to simplify the cooking and cleanup processes. The design offers a wide basin to accommodate large pots and pans, as well as a stepped side platform for prepping food or drying dishes. Handcrafted from premium quality, 16-gauge stainless steel, Stages features an engineered sound-absorption system that significantly reduces disposal and dishwashing noise." Kohler web site

Watch this video on the functionality of this large sink.  It is so well thought out by the chefs at the American Club in Kohler.

I am so excited about both of these choices.  But I will never stop looking- who knows what else is out there?  The internet and especially Pinterest have brought an infinite amount of knowledge and choices to us. Our choices are almost limitless in the design of a new home.  I am embracing this time while the home is being built and trying to uncover every resource possible.  I have 5 months before the final sink choices  have to be ordered.  What else is out there?  It's fun exploring!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fall Color and Inspiration from Twigs

Walking  to my favorite florist shop on Saturday, Twigs in Lake Bluff, was a great way
 to enjoy the crisp sunny fall day!
I wanted  a floral bouquet to enjoy for the week.

Erin and Laurell quickly selected the perfect bouquet for me and arranged it while I waited.

 Chocolate cosmos, rose hips and this incredible new rose- that had just been received from Holland.

Returning home, I placed the bouquet  in an old crock and lit my favorite fall candle of cinnamon and apples.

 I tucked in a plume  of tiny black and white feathers to give it more fall charm.

Such a unique stunning rose- the Flash Eye- directly flown in from Holland.

Time to get out a few velvet pumpkins to enjoy too!  Twigs had just received a new shipment and had the perfect leopard velvet pumpkin to add to my collection.

They have tons of great fall colors and some are beautifully embellished with crystals.

 A simple silver bowl full of velvet pumpkins, a scented candle and fall flowers-
fall is here!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Fabulous Restoration Hardware Store in Chicago

What a treat for the eyes!  It is so refreshing to see a retailer take risks today. Congratulations Restoration Hardware.  This retail concept  makes retail an exciting business again. The new store in Chicago features the first sit down restaurant in their new concept stores, along with the introduction of the  first modern furniture floor .

The beautiful old historic building that was saved from ruin by Restoration Hardware. It was  once home to an art school for budding female artists.


 The entry with the aged mirror inside the arches with the grand chandelier reflecting in the glass.


Beautiful old zinc  window elements forming a mirror over the modern sofa.

 Lots of oversized coffee tables with simple accessories.

Lot's  of oversized mirrors with great impact.

Gracious old stone fireplace filled with burning candles- so romantic.

A series of three halo chandeliers- stunning.
I was so inspired that I ordered one of these promptly upon returning home!

Over sized accessories for the oversized coffee tables.

I am in love with this new honed marble dining room table. 


A bath on the modern floor.

 What a cool concept for kids.

The view from the second floor into the beautiful restaurant.

 Restaurants ceiling- even on a gloomy Chicago day- it is pretty!



The wine bar banquette- wow!

Notice the large slab of rock on the steel trestle- used as a wine bar.

And by the way- the food was divine!

The beautiful coffee bar with it's aged mirror backdrop and brass towers
 full of hotel silver and crystal..

Gray walls, white marble and brass accents- pure magic!
If you live in Chicago, this is a must see!  There's valet parking right in front of the store, so there's no hassle with finding parking on the street.  Plan on spending some quality time enjoying the wonderful architecture of this wonderful old building and for sure- have lunch in the amazing restaurant!   You will walk out inspired and refreshed from this shopping experience.