Thursday, July 30, 2015

Culinary Finds from France

After packing up all my stuff and putting it into storage,  I find myself longing for pretty things.  I know I am in the "rental" while we build our dream house, but does it have to be so dull?  I desperately need a "fix" of French antiques, so I sit down at my computer to check out the offerings of  my favorite French dealers.  Forty five  minutes later, I felt as though I had been at the flea market in the French countryside and was bringing home my finds.  Yes, I felt much better! 
Five days later, my treasures from France arrived.  Time for a celebration!
There's always that little question lingering in your mind----do they look as good in person as they do on the internet site?? 
And I am happy to report, that they did!!!

A fabulous wood and brass champagne bucket!  
It makes those 3 for $12 roses from the grocery store look like a million bucks!

A set of 12 sterling dinner knives with the most beautiful monogrammed handle.

I love the  big and ornate  handles .

A beautiful monogram on the other side.

 A heavy copper saucepan from the kitchen of a famous hotel on the coast in France.

Several red and white tea towels with monograms.  Perfect to use as napkins.

A set of 6 oversized dinner forks with another beautiful monogram.  They were monogrammed also in the same letters as the towels-  RB!   And they came from a different town in France.
What are the chances of that happening? 

Prettier on the back than on the front of the fork.

And just to keep that French thing going---- while in the city on Monday, I picked up a couple more pieces of Astier de Villatte, a beautiful hand formed French pottery.

I love the random shape of this  sweet bowl.

Also arriving this week from one of our European vendors, four silver plate domes from France!

I am not sure why I like the French culinary antiques so much.  They seem to be carefully crafted and the designs are simply beautiful to look at everyday.  Somehow, that slice of toast in the morning, just tastes better when served under that silver dome and buttered with an ornate French knife!!!!!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Old Edwards Inn and Spa

I am just returning from the Carolina's.   My friend Jill and I had meetings with our architects for a couple of days and had the pleasure of staying at this fabulous old inn in Highlands, NC.

The Old Edwards Inn and Spa     Highlands, North Carolina

Our rooms shared a very private balcony, overlooking the main street.
The grounds were lush and green.

A distinctive  European feeling in the hotel and village shops.

Old slate and stone buildings.

Inside the inn, the atmosphere resembled a English country manor .

The hotel's restaurant - the Madison-  served us a divine meal.

Goat cheese fritters on a bed of mixed greens with a strawberry rhubarb gelee and dressing.

The little cubes of the rhubarb gelatin were garnished with black sea salt- a wonderful

Soup of the day garnished with micro greens and candied bacon.

Blueberry cobbler garnished with a sprig of lavender.
A medley of paper thin radishes are showcased on this beautiful salad.
A Champagne infused orange dessert

Cozy dining alcoves.

Coffee and tea service set out in the morning for the hotel guests.

And  a freezer full of dove bars for midnight cravings.

There was plenty of shopping in the town to keep us busy.  Across the street, a charming
florist shop caught our attention.
The Old Edwards Inn has a beautiful spa. 

And after that massage- enjoy a libation in one of the comfy chaise lounges.

This is a wonderful getaway spot.  The inn's staff was charming, the accommodations were
delightful and the food was sensational. This was one of the best dinners that I have ever experienced in a restaurant.    I highly recommend spending a couple of days in this charming inn in Highlands, NC.   It is an easy drive from Asheville. I will be back soon!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Selling your House - 31 Years of Memories

Today was the closing of the sale of our home. Exciting, yet bittersweet feelings  happen during this process.

We held our last gathering on the wrap-a-round porch  on July 4th and reminisced about the good times .  The house  is empty now and waiting for the new owners to arrive.  As I walked around last night, checking every room,  there was a sadness in my heart and it was hard not to cry. It is very hard to leave this house.

This home is over 130 years old and we were the 7th owners.  We bought it, the year it turned 98.  It was important to us to maintain it's historical attributes, yet maintain and update it as much as possible.  I think we achieved that goal during the 31 years that we lived here.

I think about hauling this chandelier back from Atlanta in a box and all the beads bursting off the wires during the trip.  I had to have it completely re- strung when I arrived back in Chicago.
But it was worth it!

The rooms seem much bigger now without any furniture.

The dining room without it's 14 foot table.

One of many chandeliers that I collected over the years for this home.


The kitchen island void of all my clutter and collections.

The laundry  -one of my favorite rooms in the home.  I collected those majolica tiles for many
years, before I had enough to complete the backsplash. And that old sink, I adore.
I am hoping to find another one for the new place.

The cabinet that I stored my flower vases in- wish I could take that with me.

The living room with it's original pumpkin pine floors. They creak with every step.
I love that sound.

A newly remodeled bath that my daughter only enjoyed for a few years.

A pair of opaline matching lights that  my friend Linda Lee found for me.

Another chandelier from Round Top, Texas.  What a fun trip that was!

 And then out to the gardens, filled with 30 years of plantings. I really won't miss the weeding.

The arbor that my husband built to surprise me while away on a trip.

The gazebo that my son and husband put together for me for Mother's Day several year's ago.
I hate to leave it behind, but it doesn't   fit the Carolina mountain vibe.

My fountain surrounded by the log plant stands
that were salvaged from a tree that fell down in a storm.
Probably the hardest thing to leave behind-  my husband's roses.

They are a passion of his and I received the benefits of his hobby- lots of fresh roses in the summer.

Now with only empty wine bottles around, I cut some to take to our new temporary home.

And of course, my herb and vegetable garden.  What a joy to walk out my back door and cut the herbs needed for dinner.   That I will really miss.

After my inspection  and  trip down memory lane was complete,  I arranged  flowers for the new owner and left a note wishing them good things in this  old home.  

Lots of their family and friends live close by and I sure this kitchen
will be well used.   I awarded  her queen of the kitchen!

And a chilled bottle of champagne in the refrigerator.
So goodbye old friend.  You  have been a wonderful home and I will always love you.
I wish the new owners all the best in their new home.  I am sure they will be wonderful caretakers of this old lady.  They  are "old home" people and that is a special kind of person. I am excited for them to create their own memories.  And I cannot wait to see what Margie does with the house.
She has a wonderful style and the house is due for a change!
  And if you believe in "signs" pointing you in the right direction-  when the new owners  were purchasing tickets to the Grateful Dead concert in Chicago this past weekend, their ticket cost added up  to  the exact  number of the address of their new home!  And to make things even more interesting,  while cleaning out the basement this weekend, my husband found an old milk crate. We don't know how it got there, but it was labeled  from a dairy with the same name as the maiden name of the new owner's mother.  We washed it off and kept if for them.   Some things are just meant to be!
Selling your home of 30 years is a life changing event.
For me, it is time for a new direction, new interest and new challenge,  So keep posted as my friend and I both build our dream homes in the Carolinas during the next year. It is wonderful  and almost unbelievable that I can share this creative process with such a good friend. 
 Boy- are our husbands in trouble!!!