Saturday, March 31, 2012

3 Perfect Days in Austin- a little bit Texas and a little bit Tuscany

Texas Bluebonnets
The Driskill Hotel - Texas or Tuscany?
Texas Damask
Tuscany in Texas!
Texas- menu at the Mighty Cone food truck
Very Austin!
Tuscany or Texas?
Texas Map of the US-pretty funny and true according to true Texans!
Austin Graffitti wall
Tuscany or Texas?
Tuscany or Texas?
Tuscany or Texas?
Tuscany or Texas?
Tuscany or Texas?
Tuscany or Texas?
Barbecue Pit at the Salt Lick -Definitely Texas
Austin Cuisine
Dinner at Olivia's- seared scallops with sweet potato, pea and pear risotto!

My daughter and I just spent 3 days in Austin. My friend Mariterese had told me that there were moments that you felt like you were in Tuscany, and while her husband chuckled, I just might have to agree with her. Austin is its own place- a little bit country, a little bit Texas, and a little bit of romantic countryside! We started the trip by checking into the Driskill Hotel, a historical landmark. It's elegant Texas hospitality in a glorious setting with European architecture and big Texas style. Loved the damask wallpaper in the baths with the cowboy and oil rig-kind of looks like a Texas version of the Eiffel tower! Next we spent the afternoon in the South Congress shopping district and had a blast in the independently owned shops! From vintage clothing to fancy boots and antiques, it was a delightful experience. Lunch at a food truck, the Mighty Cone was great. Then we were off to Neimans Last Call and found a store packed full of designer clothing from the Neiman Marcus stores- absolutely a must stop if you are in Austin. Next stop, The Oasis, about 20 minutes away. Enjoying a margarita and chips, we gazed upon views of Lake Travis and the rolling countryside. Back to the Driskill to freshen up, then the valet recommended the Parkside restaurant for dinner. Strolling down 6th Street, we listened to the music in the bars and arrived at the Parkside for a delightful dinner. The decor is very bistro inspired and the place was lively. The next day we met Mariterese for breakfast and then explored the historic Bremond district of historic homes built in the 1800's. Next we headed to Wimberly, a quaint little town about 25 minutes away, for shopping. A cute little town, we antiqued and shopping in unique shops, and then headed back to Driftwood for lunch at the Salt lick, a world famous barbecue place. While the inside was definitely Texas, the outside fences covered in roses and the distant vineyards reminded us of Tuscany. After lunch, we toured the Lady Bird Wildflower gardens in Austin. Texas limestone walls added the structure to the gardens. The Bluebonnets were in season and a rainy warm season had created beautiful gardens. Then it was back to the Driskill, to meet Eric, a friend of Maritereses, who had lots of insight into the Austin scene and neighborhoods. Dinner at the Roaring Fork, across the street from the Driskill, was delicious. Then it was off to a bar to celebrate Lady GaGas 26th birthday. As we walked to the bar, the air was filled with all types of music coming from restaurants and bars. Austin is a music town! The next day, we drove to the Domain, a newer shopping district in North Austin. After checking out Neiman Marcus, we explored the center and found a fabulous shop, Atelier 1105- another European touch in Austin's culture. Lunch at a fabulous Italian bistro, and then we went to meet Eric and get a tour of the Austin neighborhoods. We ended the day with dinner at Olivia's- absolutely recommend it if you are a foodie. Their presentation was extraordinary. Back to the Driskill to get a good nights sleep to catch our early flight. Laying on our beds was a beautiful yellow rose of Texas. Yes, there is a little bit of Tuscany mixed with a lot of big Texas cowboy in Austin- a fun place to be!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grocery Store Flowers - a true bargain!

Grocery stores are improving their floral selections, especially during holiday times. This past weekend, Dominicks was selling gorgeous large cymbidium orchids for $20 dollars with your preferred card. This is a great bargain as these flowers last for many weeks! Trader Joe's offered beautiful bouquets of flowering cherry blossom branches, hyacinth, irises, and tulips at very low prices- you could get a huge display of flowers for under $20. Who could resist them? I watched almost every customer walk into Trader Joe's and pick up a bunch and put it in their cart. Fresh flowers really add a beautiful touch to your day! The branches and tulips work well together in a silver champagne bucket, while a square glass vase is perfect for the hyacinths and tulips. Placing the arrangement in front of a mirror, doubles the impact of the flowers. Just a simple statement of only iris in a large vase is perfect!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pink Table for Spring Breakfast

Today I am delivering a set of divine pink glass cups and saucers to one of my favorite customers- -- so I had to create a breakfast table using these beautiful cups before I let them go to their new home! It's a gorgeous morning in Chicago, so I set breakfast up on the porch. A mixture of pink dishes and vintage crystal are mixed with my mom's sterling. My friend Lynda sent me a sweet little set of gold salt cellars this week, so I thought I would use them for a sugar, coffee bean and chocolate garnish for my coffee this morning. I found this unique grinder blend at Trader Joes of sugar, coffee beans and chocolate and couldn't resist it. It's perfect for topping off whipped cream on your morning coffee. Pink rose biscuits from France are placed in a crystal compote for dipping in the coffee. Orange and cranberry whole wheat flat breads are from Costco. I put them in the toaster to warm them and they puff up and are delicious with cream cheese or butter.. Cherry blossoms from Trader Joes remind us that spring is indeed here! We will be joining for Tablescape Thursday. Be sure to visit.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Flower Arranging 101 and Addie

Costco's mixed bouquets of flowers make wonderful little tussie mussies in silver mugs.
Pretty little votives that we just recieved at the store.- available in pink , lavender, grey and blue.

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Just a little light hearted fun for today's post. My daughter's dog, Addison, grabbed a pink rose that I dropped on the floor and I couldn't resist taking some pictures. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Loss of a Close Friend and Colleague

Top- Penny, Candy, Laurell, Susan, Molly Bottom-Julie, Gail
Romancing the Home Team in 2006

Sometimes one meets a person who changes your life. Gail did that for me and many others. It is with great sadness in our hearts that she has left us for a better place. Gail worked with us at Romancing the Home ( her first and only job- what can I say- she loved to shop!) and became the center of our friendship. When she surprised us with buying a new home several years ago, we became intimately involved with the process. Her parties for the 4th of July and Christmas were a must go to! But it was her generous spirit that captured our hearts. The most giving person that I have ever met, she took care of her family and friends. Here's a few things that I learned or valued from Gail's friendship-
1. Take care of your family and friends.
2. Teach your children to be polite and respectful of others. ( Her four children are exemplary in this regard- so polite and kind.)
2. Don't take yourself too seriously- laugh at your own flaws.
3. Enjoy your grandchildren and indulge them when you can.
4. Enjoy your home and be spontaneous with its design! (She was the master of moving things around, especially at night. We called her the Midnight Decorator !)
5. Design is a study of contrasts - one texture or one color is just not exciting.(She loved bold color and large print fabrics - animal prints were a favorite! And while she said her style wasn't Asian influenced, I certainly learned to appreciate her global style!)
6. Entertain spontaneously with your friends - invite them over for nothing special! We spent many hours around her kitchen table or on the back patio solving the world's and our problems.
7. The best appetizers are salted peanuts and Gail's Famous Tuna Dip with Fritos- always the first appetizer to go at a party! ( Liverwurst was a close third according to Gail!)
8. Create your own personal style and don't be worried about current fashion styles. ( Gail's style of dressing was whimsical, fun and artistic- it always inspired me)
9. Humility is an important virtue. Practice it!
10. Good friends are one of life's greatest treasures - keep them close to you and take care of them. ( Gail's gatherings at her home were often large parties for engagements, weddings and holidays. All friends were invited, so people got to meet each other and establish friendships that might otherwise have never happened. She connected people together.)

Gail, you will be forever in our hearts. You have changed our lives in positive ways. We love you.
I couldn't go on blogging about anything else until I wrote these special thoughts down. We all seem to be stuck . On Monday, all the RTH girls gathered at the store and cried and shared our thoughts about Gail. That's what Gail valued- friends support each other.
Romancing the Home will be closed on Friday, March 16th for her memorial service, a celebration of her life.
Please feel free to leave a comment!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Open House Continues

Yesterday was a great day at the store - Joy's antiques were quickly snatched up and taken to a new home! In addition to the excitement of her displays in our front windows, customers lingered for quite a spell and enjoyed food tastings and fun displays. One of my favorite displays was the Santos doll holding the loaves of bread. Bread sticks were placed in the Jan Barboglio candelabra. The brightest spot in the store was the Herve Gambs candles and home fragrance area. Their scents are unique and delicious. Biggest sellers of the day were vintage china and crystal stemware. There was for something for everyone, lots of laughter and competitive shopping attitudes!