Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year from New York!

I for one am very happy to leave 2007 behind and start fresh in 2008. I'll be back tomorrow with resolutions and inspirations. Until then, Happy New Year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?
And here's a hand, my trusty friend
And gie's a hand o' thine
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ready for Take Off

I'm traveling back to New York today and not a minute too soon. Remind me next year that seven days with my family is about four days too long ;-) and check back tomorrow with some fun New Year's related posts.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Winter in Stockholm

I'm away for Christmas now but I thought you might enjoy my photos from my winter trip to Stockholm, Sweden two years ago. Stockholm in winter was certainly not at the top of my travel wish list but I'm glad I went. It was really pretty and everyone was so nice. I also think it's fun to travel to Europe near the holidays since they always have great holiday markets and decorations like the Christmas tree in the harbor above.

The first day we arrived, there was a huge snowstorm so the entire city was blanketed in snow and had had a picture postcard beauty. It was also really cold and unlike New York, where the snow is immediately shoveled away, the snow in Stockholm just keeps piling up and all they do is throw some sand down for traction. If you plan to visit Sweden in the winter, definitely pack some practical footwear and warm clothes!

On the island of Gamla Stan, or Old Town, the cobblestone streets snake up and down the hills. On the main street, are the tourist shops but if you walk up the hill, you will find charming little shops and cafes...that is if you don't fall first!

The cafe in the square on Gamla Stan was decorated with greenery for the holidays.

The interior of another cafe was decorated in a traditional Swedish style. I love the pale blue woodwork and wallpaper. Many homes and business also display candles in their windows as well as lighted stars.

On Gamla Stan, there was a shop that had this funny little monkey on display in the window, which we thought was amusing. I wish I had taken a photo of the cute little antique shop across the street where we bought vintage Christmas ornaments and traditional Swedish Dala wood horse and roosters. I bought a lovely vintage rooster for about $20 USD which I actually thought was a bargain until my parent's presented me with two very similar vintage Swedish roosters that they bought at a flea market in Pennsylvania for $5 for the pair. Oh well.

I love this photo of the entrance above where they used natural greenery and berries as holiday decorations. Sweden is known for it's design and has a whole area of the city full of design shops. Most unfortunately were closed when I was there but they are definitely worth checking out if you ever happen to visit Stockholm.

The old buildings on the square were all very charming and painted in various shades of yellows and reds. The focal point was the large fountain and the Christmas tree in the center of the square.

We stayed at the popular Rival Hotel which is owned by a member of ABBA and overlooks a beautiful park Mariatorget that is referred to as the Soho area of Stockholm. The area has very cute shops and restaurants and the subway was close and very easy to navigate. The rooms were very well decorated and had very comfortable beds with fluffy white duvets. Each room has an interesting blown up photograph printed on canvas above the bed. An idea worth stealing for your own home.
On New Year's day, we took a very cold boat ride along the archipelago. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to do when you are hung over and tired after a night out at Riche, the cool Stockholm restaurant/club, but it was worth it. It was great to see the city from the water including the monastery above.
It's funny how some of the photos look like they were taken in black and white because it was so snowy and grey. We sat outside for as long as we could stand it so I missed taking photos of the trip back and side the island where all the mansions were located, including those of former ABBA members. In Stockholm, they take ABBA very seriously! They also all take long walks along the water on Sundays even on the coldest and snowiest days.


I think I would like to take another trip to Stockholm when it's summer and the sun shines all day and night instead of the dark and snowy winter but I guess I'd rather go somewhere cold than no where at all. Vi ses sénare Stockholm!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light.
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us,
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa Baby

I couldn't resist posting this song since it's probably what most people think I would ask for this Christmas. But the two things I really want can't be bought in a store. Although, I did see a lovely Chanel handbag that I wouldn't mind unwrapping.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Design Police

The New York Times ran a very interesting and thought provoking article today about design trends that have been deemed to be over. Now, I have said time and time again that homes are very personal and as long as you love it who am I to judge. To each is own. If you want to decorate for your home with a 7-foot tall neon pink Christmas tree and it makes you happy, knock yourself out. Zebra skin rug? I still want one. I consider it a classic and not a trend. But I'm sure someone else will beg to differ.

I see the point of the article though and agree with some of their logic. It's hard to be excited about a design style when it finally reaches mass saturation and can be found on sale at West Elm. I think it's the reason that so many people love to shop at flea markets and tag sales. Everyone is looking for that special item that no one else has. Instead of buying the new Jonathan Adler version of something, why not troll ebay looking for the original inspiration.

But unlike fashion, we don't wear our homes on our backs. While it's easy to see if someone is wearing something that is no longer cool, how many people get to see inside our inner sanctum? Usually just our closest family and friends. Unless you are an interior designer and open your door to criticism, it's not likely that anyone will know that you have decorated with...gasp...a suzani that has been deemed too trendy. Of course, the magazines will move on to reporting new and more exciting design trends because that's their job. It's up to you to decide if you want to partake or go your own way.

I think how someone puts things together in their home is more important to the over all design than a few trendy pieces. And if you're really worried, put them in storage for a little while and when you bring them back out, they will look fresh and new. In all honesty, I might write you a ticket for wearing no longer fashionable skinny jeans but I would never ticket you for those antlers in your living room. Especially since I was planning on looking for some while I'm home for the holidays. Does that mean I'm losing my design edge?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

If You Dream It...It Will Come

I want to thank everyone who left comments and emailed me about my last post, Dreaming. It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one who feels a little lost and unsure and the advice was beyond inspirational. I'm so glad I opened myself up to all of you. I completely agree with Maison21 who said that by doing so was the beginning of opening myself up to change. And it's funny how the moment you do that, so much becomes possible.

I actually had an interview tonight with the most amazing design and architecture firm. I'm not saying who they are because I don't want to jinx it but if you could say a prayer, light a candle, cross your fingers, rub the Buddha, whatever you want to do, I would so appreciate it! I want to work for them so badly, I could cry. I actually almost did on the subway ride home. It would be long hours and a ton of work but you just know when you are ready for the challenge. They are supposed to make a decision by Friday, so if they pick me, I'll tell you who they are and jump for joy! If not, let's pretend I never mentioned this ;-)

***UPDATE***
Thanks to everyone who was so supportive and wrote such nice comments again! I've already heard through the grapevine that they might offer the position to someone else but I'm not letting it get me down. If I don't get it, that just means it wasn't meant to be and maybe something else will be a better fit for me. And I'm going to keep going and continue to look for it!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dreaming

I love this photo from Elle Decor. I wish I lived in a fabulous Paris apartment and worked at a desk that looked out to the Eiffel Tower. Sigh. I feel like I'm having an early mid-life crisis. I haven't been happy at the design firm that I work at for a while now and am trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I don't think I'm ready to go out on my own so I think I would like to work for another designer. But since starting my blog, I have realized that I love to write. Hence my dream of working for a magazine but since they all seem to be folding, that doesn't seem like such a great idea. Everyone keeps asking me what I want to do but for some reason, I can't come up with one dream job. So if anyone has any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to share them, except for mean Anonymous. You can sit this one out. Merci!

N.B. If anyone wants to offer me a job, I'd be completely amenable to that idea too!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Something for the Boys

Since I normally write about girly things, I thought it might be fun to suggest some holiday gift ideas for the men in your life and for the few men who read my blog put on their wish list. You know who you are. But I have to say, I think some of these items are so great that the ladies might want to buy them for themselves. Why should the men get to have all the fun?!

I almost got a hernia when I tried to lift Legends of the Open Road: The History, Technology and Future of Automobile Design off the shelf at Rizzoli. I'm not sure if they made it extra heavy to appeal to men but it's worth the heavy lifting. It is one of the most beautiful and informative automobile coffee table books on the market. Buy it and take your time drooling over the vintage car of your dreams. Just make sure your arm muscles are ready first!

Leica bills their D-Lux 3 Digital Compact Camera as "creative freedom for unforgettable pictures." Leica cameras are old-school, especially the black version, discreet and expensive! Leica has also attained a legendary cult status in the photography world and rightly so. The company finally succumbed to pressure to go digital but this isn't your run of the mill point and shoot digital camera. Leica is the camera for someone who wants to create art instead of just taking photos. You've been warned!

The Jack Spade No Mas Tote Bag is a cheeky gift for the man who has everything and also a warning to those who think they are hip that skulls are so dead. It is also much more interesting and stylish than those awful black computer bags that most men carry. I say No Mas to those as well!

Now this is something that everyone should have in their possession. The Ultimate Hammer Tool from The Container Store includes a hammer, pliers, wedge, scissors, knife, saw, file and Philips head screwdriver and comes in a handy dandy carrying case and only costs $14.99! Now that's what I call the ultimate stocking stuffer!

For the man who loves music and wants to read about what it would have been like to live the ultimate rock and roll life, there is the Complete Clapton CD and Clapton: The Autobiography the latest releases from legendary guitarist Eric Clapton. But if Clapton isn't someones cup of tea, there is always the much appreciated iTunes Gift Card. It's a gift that keeps on giving!


The problem with portable speakers is that there really not that small or portable. Especially to an overpacker like me. These Cardboard Speakers from Muji really are lightweight and collapsible and can be folded away and placed in the included pouch when not in use. They are also a simple and chic way to listen to your favorite tunes away from home.

My biggest pet peeve is men's dress shirts that are big enough to double as a tent. If men had any idea that a slim fitting shirt would also make them look slim, you think they would go for it right? But no such luck. So why not take them to one the best custom shirtmakers in the New York, Seize sur Vingt. They also are one of the only stores to offer made to order cashmere sweaters. He's worth it. And while you're there, pick up a little something for yourself. They have great women's clothes. Because you're worth it too!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New Elle Decor

Thanks to Turquoise Chic for posting the photos of Monique Lhuillier's home from the new January/February 2008 issue of Elle Decor. I'm very jealous that her issue arrived today and it just serves to confirm my theory that my mail carrier has been hijacking my favorite magazines. See why I end up buying them on the newsstand! So until he decides to finally deliver it, I shall keep checking out Turquoise Chic's blog.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Elle Decor Cover News

Word on the street is that the home of fashion designer Monique Lhuillier will grace the cover of the January/February 2008 issue of Elle Decor. Ever the multi-tasker, Ms. Lhuillier was perusing vintage wallpapers and interior design books while planning her new home that would make room for her first baby, all while continuing to create beautiful fashions, a china collection for Royal Doulton and a future home furnishings line. I for one can't wait to see inside the home of the woman behind some of the most beautiful dresses in the world!

Peter Som for Bill Blass

Even though fashion week isn't until February, the designers were presenting their Pre-Fall collections this week in New York. Now, I consider myself to be pretty fashion savvy but even I didn't know about Pre-Fall until recently. These are the clothes that will arrive in the stores at the same time that you are just getting out your summer clothes and starting to sweat. It used to be just a low key affair for buyers and editors but now it's becoming the bellwether for what we will expect to see on the big Fall runways.

One of the best albeit small collections was designed by Peter Som for the house of Bill Blass. I used to think of Bill Blass as "old lady" clothes but not any more. In his inaugural collection, Peter Som continued Mr. Blass' sportswear inspired looks but invigorated them with a more youthful exuberance. Something that had been seriously lacking in recent years.

"My starting point was Mr. Blass' sketchbooks circa 1969-1970. I wanted to update Blass classics with luxury and whimsy," explained Mr. Som. I always loved the simplicity and elegance of some seventies fashions and these are a perfect homage. I wish I could afford to buy the whole collection but I may have to at least save up to buy that plaid coat! It's tres chic!

Photos by Kevin Sturman

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things: Winter Edition

There was such a great response to my Favorite Things post from the Fall that I would create a new one for Winter. It also seems like perfect timing considering the ice storms in the Midwest and the snow we are supposed to receive tomorrow in New York. I thought it could also serve as a mini gift guide since I never had the time to write a full one. Maybe some of my favorite things will become some of yours!


I tried for a long time to not jump on the Creme de la Mer bandwagon but I guarantee once you've tried it, you will become I convert too! It really is the most fabulous skin cream ever created. I've always had great skin but now I have gorgeous skin! I'm going to buy the eye cream next. Wrinkles be damned!

If there is one product that is pure indulgence, it's Laura Mercier's line of bath and body products. I love using the ladies lounge on the beauty floor of Bergdorf's because they stock it with all of her products. The Creme Brulee scent is my all time favorite. It's almost good enough to eat! I will warn you that I didn't love the Chocolate scent so much. Funny considering how much I love to eat it. There are also some great gift sets available now if you want to indulge someone else this holiday!

There is nothing worse than dry flaky skin in the winter but moisturizing it alone is not the answer. You must exfoliate and Kiehl's has one that will appeal to men and woman. Their Creme de Corps Soy Milk and Honey Body Polish smells amazing but it also leaves your skin silky smooth. Kiehl's never tests on animals so your PETA friends will love it too!



After you exfoliate, you should always moisturize and Kiehl's Creme de Corps is the Rolls Royce of body cremes. I love it so much, I buy the large pump size but it's worth it since I have never had dry skin. Treat yourself. You're worth it!


I hate winter. There I said it. I feel like I'm allowed to hate it since I lived in Boston for many years. I'm honestly not quite sure how I survived. I might have enjoyed it more had I known about Hot Chillys. In order to wear my cute little outfits and walk around without getting hypothermia, I will add a base layer from their Peppers Collection. But they make products for all levels of warmth and performance. It's perfect for fashionistas and hard-core athletes. Now there's two types of people you'd ever suspect of having anything in common. Who knew?!

I don't care if you're a size 2 or a 12, everyone wants to look thinner. There is also nothing worse than saggy tights. Spanx has solved both of these problems. Gotta love that! They stay put, they create a smooth line and keep you warm. And we know how much I hate to be cold! Buying Spanx also let's you support a woman owned business. Beth Blake's success story should be an inspiration to any woman with a dream. Carpe Diem!

Anyone who's ever lived in a New York apartment with steam heat knows how toasty warm they can get but I'm not complaining. There is nothing I love more than free heat! But for those rare occassions when the heat's not on, I wear my Banana Republic Cashmere Chalet Slippers. They are soft and warm and actually quite chic. They are also on sale now! Woo hoo! Buy a pair for yourself and as a gift. Your feet will thank you!

If none of those other things are enough to warm you up, why not check out Town and Country Travel Magazine and pick out a tropical destination and book yourself a trip, 'cause baby it's cold outside!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Bye Bye Blueprint. According to a memo sent yesterday from Susan Lyne at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Blueprint is folding. First House and Garden and now Blueprint. Am I going to have to start my own shelter magazine just so we have something to read?! Jeez. Good thing the UK and Australia continue to publish fabulous magazines, otherwise, my local newsstand might have to go out of business soon.

From: Communications Sent: Monday, December 10, 2007 10:51 AM
To: MSO Subject: Memo from Susan Lyne

MEMO FROM SUSAN LYNE
After much discussion and analysis we have made a decision to produce Blueprint as focused special interest issues within the home category, which we will introduce to brides-to-be through our Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. Bluelines, the Blueprint blog, will continue and we plan to grow Blueprint digital content across our websites. We will discontinue publishing Blueprint magazine on a stand-alone basis after the January/February 2008 issue.

Our strategic plans also call for continuing to build our overall Martha Stewart Weddings business by adding destination weddings issues and further developing our weddings website.

We believe Blueprint will be more sustainable if leveraged as part of the established Martha Stewart Weddings franchise. Both appeal to women at a similar life stage and we believe this strategy will allow us to better take advantage of the synergistic relationship between the two publications. By publishing Blueprint in a special interest format, we can provide newlyweds with useful ideas and inspiration for their homes; and advertisers with a targeted platform to reach this highly desirable consumer.

The moves enable us to redirect a portion of our investment dollars into other high-potential digital media initiatives, further develop our Martha Stewart Weddings franchise and create efficiencies in our Publishing business. There will be a reduction in staff associated with not publishing Blueprint as a full-frequency magazine, but we expect to re-assign a core team of employees to existing businesses and new projects at MSLO.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Sarah, Deb, and Amy, and the entire Blueprint team for the talent, passion, and devotion they brought to this start-up. We love what they created and we'll miss reading Blueprint in print on a regular basis. But we believe these changes will position the company well in this evolving marketplace. We look forward to working with Sarah, Deb, Amy, and other members of the Blueprint team on the new special interest issues and other company endeavors.

Susan

And what are us single gals supposed to read??? I'm not buying Martha Stewart Living Weddings for design advice, thank you very much! If Elle Decor or Domino ever fold, I'm gonna cry!

Bonjour Paree!

How come I never found an internship that sent me to Paris?! Good thing I can live vicariously through Lauren and Whitney! I can't wait until these shows air in the spring! Until then, I guess I will have to make due with Gossip Girl.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas at Biltmore

There are certain places that stay with you long after you visit them. Biltmore House in Ashville, North Carolina is one of those places for me. I visited it when I was about 11 years old and it has made a lasting impression. I even wrote a paper about it in college for my architectural art history class. My visit was in the summer but I dream of visiting Biltmore House again someday at Christmas when the house is filled with spectacular decorations.

It takes a staff of 1,800 a full month to light and decorate over 100 Christmas trees, hang 9,000 feet of fresh garland and hang thousands of ornaments for the more than 300,000 visitors that visit during the holiday season. And you thought decorating your house was a challenge!

Even though, outside decorations were rare at the turn of the 19th century, the lions are now decorated for the holidays with fresh wreaths.

A 35-foot live Fraser fir is placed in the Banquet Hall of Biltmore House every holiday season and takes 45 people to raise the tree since they must be careful not to damage the priceless tapestries or chandeliers. The tradition of having a tree in this room goes back to 1895 when George Vanderbilt first opened the home to his family and friends.

When George Vanderbilt first welcomed guests to Biltmore House on Christmas Eve in 1895 his guests were treated to lavish and festive holiday decor. Today that tradition is kept alive each year and it is the only time when visitors are allowed in the house at night.

During Christmas at Biltmore tall trees line the 90-foot-long halls of the Tapestry Gallery As guests enter the Library a warm glow from the room's large fireplace is cast upon the bookshelves and the Pellegrini ceiling canvas.

The Library is particularly inviting during Candlelight Christmas Evenings with a fire in the massive fireplace throwing dancing shadows across more than 10,000 books.

The Grand Staircase is twined with live evergreen, filling the 250-room Biltmore House with the scent of Christmas.

The black marble fireplace surround and walnut overmantle in George Vanderbilt's impressive library are decorated with garlands made by the Biltmore floral staff during the holiday season.

During Candlelight Christmas Evenings, the Oak Sitting Room glows in the light from candles and matching fireplaces at either end of the room.

During Candlelight Christmas Evenings, Biltmore House is lit by luminaries outside creating an even more beautiful tableaux. I hope those who can visit Biltmore House will make the pilgrimage no matter the time of the year and for those who can't, I hope you are inspired to create a magical Christmas at your own home. Happy Holidays!
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