Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gifts for the Host or Hostess

There is an article in the November issue of Domino Magazine “What can I Bring”, about making recipes for your holiday gatherings and gifting the dish to the hostess.

Here are a few things that I thought would make nice hostess gifts and you don’t have to break the bank. I was in Atlanta this past weekend, and after squeezing in some antiques stores, I had a little time left to cruise by Crate & Barrel. After all, it’s just around the corner from my in-laws (I do have to take advantage of situations like this—unfortunately, no Crate & Barrel here in Nashville).

While on the lookout for a few entertaining dishes, I stumbled upon this Village Square Baker for $14.95. A few years ago while doing an antiques show, I was next to a lady who was selling oven-to-table bakeware imported from Budapest. She was quite popular that weekend. Yes, all of us normal antiques dealers were all very envious! This past summer on our way to one of Lucilla’s soire├ęs and running very late, I decided to make brownies. Anyway, leaving Michael home to pull the brownies out to bring over to Lucilla’s was not a good idea! He cut them immediately, messed them all up, and showed up with two brownies. So I bought two of the Village Square Bakers—one is going to Lucilla, and the other one is going to my neighbor Sandy, who loves cooking and anything Crate & Barrel.

Still in Atlanta, I stumbled upon Sur La Table --Rolle had me working hard this past weekend for his Scottie cookie cutter. Sur La Table is slowly opening stores in the southeast and they have just recently opened a store at Perimeter Mall. I’ll admit, I’m not a big cook—I found the pots that I have in the fields of England. While in Charleston and living the simple life, Michael and I had one copper pot to do all of our cooking in. And I took that from my inventory! (Actually we had four but the huge copper pot leaked and Michael told me to get rid of it-- I would have no part of that, it looked good with my other two pots) Anyway, over the last few years I have been able to add a few more pots to my collection. I don’t actually own the Le Creuset cookware, so I have never used them. But I have heard through the culinary experts they are wonderful. So this is what I’m thinking, for all the dinner club people who take their dinners and cooking very seriously, the cute petite stoneware casserole pot for $15.00 each would make a lovely party favor. And they come in beautiful colors. You could also do individual place settings with them.

There is the two-piece rectangle Le Creuset stone set for $29.95, or the 4 piece set for $49.95. You can split the gift sets for different parties you attend or keep one for yourself. :)

And if your really feeling generous, I thought the French oven was priced well for $79.95. If you arrive with that plus a bottle of Bordeaux --I’ll bet you’ll be invited back very quickly! Actually, I think they all make nice gifts, and your host or hostess will love you for the thought. Unless you’re my mother–in-law and have sworn off cooking. However, I have something, I think she will like –more on that later.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dear Santa!

Since I love books, I love to give them as gifts as well. To me, books make great presents especially, if you really know that person and share some commonalities. Following are a few books that I will be giving to a few close friends.

First on my list are a few cookbooks that were released just this past year. Personally, I enjoy nothing more than waking up on a weekend morning (when I can beat my hubby to the TV) to watch The Food Network--Paula, Ina, Giada, and Nigella.

One thing I always like to do is ask other people who their favorite Food Network star is. Just this past weekend, over Thanksgiving dinner, I asked my mother–in-law‘s good friend who she liked to watch. Her response was Giada, and her reason was, “ she’s beautiful”! Yes, she is beautiful, and when she first started I loved her kitchen, with the open shelving and colorful, beautiful cappuccino maker! Being a design nut, I do watch for things like that. But I have to say my all time favorite has to be Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa. I even kick Michael off the TV to watch Barefoot Contessa. To me, Ina would be someone you would love to have as a good friend or neighbor--a very delightful person. I have a few of her cookbooks and I always return to them on a regular bases. Her books are full of information for basic delicious recipes.

Ina came out with a new cookbook this year, Barefoot Contessa At Home. I have a very good friend whom I think would really enjoy this book, and, yes, I’m still missing this particular cookbook as well. So Santa (Michael) if you’re reading this, take note! I’ve already made her roasted shrimp Orzo, and it was easy and very good. When the word “gourmet” is uttered from my hubby’s mouth, I’m pleased!

Nigella Express

Another thing I like to do is read cookbooks. So when I discovered that my neighbor, Sandy, loves to read cookbooks, I was thrilled. Since Sandy kept my hydrangeas alive while I was away this summer, I bought her Nigella’s Feast as a thank you! I have caught Sandy skipping on my blogs. so I can say that I may get her Nigella Express. I discovered Nigella back in 2001 while I was over in the U.K. watching the BBC. I still remember her show from then-- to me it was Sex And The City meets the food world, quite hip with good looking food. I was very excited to see her added to the Sunday lineup!

Next on my list is Inspirations From France & Italy, by Betty Lou Phillips. This would be for Cruella – Cruella and I both have a love for antiques and decorating, so she is always fun to buy for! Cruella loves decorating books, she loves Betty Lou Phillips, and this is a new release that I don’t think she knows about! Another book I’m thinking about for her is Bunny Williams ' Point of View. I have Bunny’s An Affair with a House and always enjoy reading what a grandmaster designer has to say and I know Cruella does too!

Inspirations from France & Italy

Bunny Williams' Point of View

And if Santa is reading! I would love to have Living With Dogs-- which came out a few years ago. How I missed it I don’t know. Funny, Rolle asked for a little Spaniel brother yesterday!

Living with Dogs

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rolle's Christmas Wish List!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to think about Christmas. One little guy who always makes my list is our basset hound-- Rolle. As I was making out my list, I thought I would go to the little guy myself to see what he wanted from Santa this year--this is what he shared with me. I’ll let him take it from here.

I want food! Preferably meat and cheese! If Santa is running low on these, then here are some things I think will do just fine: first on my list are doggie treats from Harry Barker. A few years ago Mommy did a Christmas show and purchased Harry Barker treats to sell as gifts--because she says some folks just don’t buy antiques around the holidays. I was so happy when she bought too much. I was able to reap the rewards from what she couldn’t sell. I can vouch that they’re yummy and come in flavors like bacon and peanut butter in cute little sealed jars. What canine wouldn’t want them?

Harry Barker

Cat Treats from Harry Barker

Also, Since my Harrods dog leash is all faded, and my Harrods dog collar has long been lost in my grandparents woodsy backyard, I would like replacements for both! Mommy won’t be traveling across the pond anymore, but she can order this online at Harrods but she better do it now--she tends to procrastinate!

Harrods Dog Collar

Also, Martha Stewart doggie coats are very cute and stylish, but after eating all that turkey at Thanksgiving, I’m afraid it will make me look fat. Plus, Mommy has not mastered the art of sewing (a requirement for these)! Perhaps this would be a good gift for my buddy Elliot the Pomeranian around the corner!

Picture courtesy of Martha Stewart

Most importantly, I want a new bed! My Ralph Lauren quilt is starting to lose it’s stuffing, and it does not go with Mommy’s decor. Mommy’s been looking through lots of catalogs, and all the beds have huge price tags, and they’re not even stuffed with down feathers. I’ve overheard Mommy talking about Target, and I think they have excellent choices for canine bedding and bedding for my neighbor-- Elvis the cat. (I can’t forget the cats!). I’m sending Santa to Target!

This Bed is a good size for Elliot!

Finally, after pouring over old issues of Martha Stewart with my Mommy, I’ve instructed her to make shortbread cookies for all of our human neighbors and bone biscuits for my canine friends. She couldn’t find my breed as a cookie cutter, but since I met a new friend, McDuffie a Scottish Terrier, she got a cute Scottie instead. Mommy said this is where you can find the cookie cutters Coppergifts or Sur La Table – great selection, she thinks!

Picture courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Merry Xmas! Rolle

P.S. Mommy & Daddy please make a donation to the Humane Society and please bring me home a little English Spaniel brother named Henry! Don’t ask- I just like the name.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Girlfriends Guide To Antiquing!

With the holidays now here and with everyone trying to get their homes ready for much expected company—I thought I would share with you some things that I discovered over the years.

Up first, Sterling—Sterling was one thing I never really stocked as part of my inventory. This is because I recall being at one of my first fairs and an Englishmen told me people were very particular about their silver. So not having a huge amount of time to take a crash course in sterling nor money—I just left the sterling for other dealers to stock, and I stuck with my French junk.

A few years ago I was on a mad search for sterling—I don’t really recall where I was living at the time, but when I saw this bathroom I knew I wanted all the beautiful sterling, and, of course, the bathroom itself. I thought I would start small by tracking down the sterling, so off on one of my many missions I discovered Brice and his beautiful stock of sterling. I have bought a few things from Brice over the years. Last year for Xmas I was searching for vintage sterling frames for presents--one for my Mother-in-law and one for the Hubby to give to me. I rang Brice up and he did indeed have them. The only thing I had to do once arriving in the ATL was pop into the store to get them.

Courtesy of Southern Accents - Came from my file, as you can see.

I bumped into Brice and I was able to take some pictures of his current inventory. Brice keeps all of his sterling; it’s the only thing he carries—just sterling, (no silver plate), at Antiques and Beyond.

Trust me, you cannot miss all of his beautiful sterling. His prices are excellent!

Ladles -I'm Thinking for Hostess Gift!

Girlfriends Guide continued tomorrow!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Back To Atlanta!

While exploring around Louisville this past weekend I was wondering what Atlanta would have looked liked if General Sherman had never have burned it during his march. Atlanta still has it’s share of great neighborhoods--Ansley Park, Peachtree Battle, Morningside, Inman Park, Grant Park, Old Brookhaven--although I still wonder!

Anyhow, I am off to Atlanta and one of the things listed on my iternary this weekend is IKEA. Most of you would think this was no big deal. However, coming from the antiquing business, if I so much as reveal this to any of my antiquing sorority friends, I will instantly become ousted and banned as a trader. My buddy, Cruella, who has vaguely heard of IKEA said she would go with me the next time I was in town. However, I know she would become very bored very quickly when she discovers there were no 19th century tole trays, papier mache, imari, Staffordshire ,etc.

Actually, IKEA had just opened in Atlanta when Michael and I were making our pit stop back on Peachtree Road a few years ago. So I had plenty of chances to pop in, however, 14th street Antique Mall is located across the street. Since I always have limited shopping time I have to make choices. One must block out the entire week to get through IKEA and it’s a good thing they have those meatballs! Perhaps they may want to think about opening a hotel--must be in their plans!

After buying our house earlier this year, I was on top of my ladder I heard a knock, it was a lady in her late 30's or early 40's with silver hair. I opened the door and the lady introduces herself, her name was Sandy and she lived next door. She said she was just coming by to say hi and wanted to see what we had done so far. I gave my new neighbor the tour of our cottage and the first thing she said to me after our five minute tour “let’s high tail it to IKEA”. Yes, our house is small but I’m in need of some storage things. I’m glad Sandy gets the IKEA catalog - what are neighbors for!

M y second trip to IKEA was just this past summer – My first IKEA purchases!
1. Lack table- $12.99 – Tired of lamp on the floor in my bedroom; can’t go wrong for this price!

2. Signe rug -$2.99 – For canine Basset hound’s doggy door.

3. Sota glass jars 3 @ $2.99 = 8.97 – for food art in kitchen.

Total IKEA Purchases $24.95 not including tax

Plus --Husband’s meatballs while waiting for me and his mother to shop $10.99

Grand Total $35.94

My buddy Steve from Bristol in England was over last year telling me what wonderful things he had with him, and that he had found all his great English antiques relatively inexpensively. I asked him what his secret was and he told me--IKEA! He said they had just opened up a IKEA store in the U.K. and all the women were camping in their cars overnight to get in. Sounds like they need to open up a campground too! Overall, as my Italian neighbor Lucilla said, IKEA has it’s purpose! I could not agree more!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Exploring Louisville!

Since most of our weekends this year have been spent working on our house -- dealing with plumbers, electricians, carpenters, wallpaper installers, and landscapers, the Hubby and I decided it was time to pack up Rolle, our canine companion who now goes everywhere with us, to get away for a few days. This past September we were going to go to St. Simons, but with the heat wave going on we decided to stay put until the temperature cooled down – Rolle hates the heat! Needing a few days away and not wanting to contribute to The Home Depot’s stock price any more, we decided to head to Louisville, Kentucky.

Churchill Downs

We invited our snooty friend, Watson, whose travel decisions are made with the sole objective of maintaining elite status with airlines and hotels. Watson has taken day-trips to Rome, weekend trips to Bangkok, and generally tries to fly as far as possible as often as possible so he can easily get first class upgrades on demand. Why Louisville, he asked? Well, it is less then three hours from Nashville, we’ve never been there before, and last year I recall it was on Queen Elisabeth’s itinerary while touring the states, so why not!

When Michael and I decide to take a trip we never plan or do research, - from a three-day quick get away to a two-week excursion. We wait until the day we are leaving to grab our books and ask our friends for recommendations. Our strategy is simple, we will either study over cocktails on the plane or if we’re driving, the passenger will read about what we should be doing. The one who has done his research usually determines what we are doing and where we are eating and staying, and usually this is me! This time I did start a little earlier, two days before and I had read that Louisville was 2nd in the nation with having buildings, houses etc. registered as National Historic Landmarks, after, of course, Boston - I was most excited after reading this and thought we would be in good shape! Following are just a few highlights:

Churchill Downs - Friday morning after several cups of coffee at the hotel, Michael and I headed to Churchill Downs, home of the world famous Kentucky Derby. This was my first time ever at a racetrack! Plus it’s not just a track, but also a very historic track, the weather was sunny, warm, and beautiful-- what more could one ask for. Since we were not giving our money to The Home Depot and plumbers this weekend we decided to give it to horses --with the minimum bet of two dollars per horse with ten races the whole day, why not? After all, how much could we lose! Needless to say, the racing form was foreign to me –so I picked according to the odds or the horses’ names. After winning one dollar and forty cents, I quickly realized going with the most popular ones won’t get you to far. Michael was doing much better then me he won ten dollars and forty cents!

By the end of the day, out a hundred dollars, my dreams of paying off our house and buying our Charleston peninsula home were diminished. The good news was we did win enough for a round of drinks and a few hot dogs. Lucky for us they were having special prices for happy hour Halfway to Derby party!

On Saturday, Michael and I were going to do the Kentucky Derby Museum tour but we decided to stay where all the action was and bet some more! All the books I read recommended it. Also, there that day was a local Millinery designer for the Kentucky Derby. I picked up a card from her C. Kevin Swansey Sheila Nobles 502-796-0003. Beautiful hats! Michael told me to get one, but I figured the only place I could wear it was my garden, and my neighbors were already impressed enough with my J. Crew hat! Perhaps next time.

Hands down if you have never been to Churchill Downs, I highly, highly recommend it. It is a true American icon!

Sunday, one thing I always love to do is walk through old neighborhoods and look at stately grand old mansions and gardens, plus this gives us a chance to walk Rolle-- he likes it too! Cherokee Triangle is located on the East End of the city. A wonderful old neighborhood with grand old houses. On the other side is Bardstown Road- filled with old bookstores, pubs, bistros, wine stores and antiques shops. This is where Michael and I headed to for our third morning cup of java, our evening dinner, and our coffee after dinner.

Mansion in Cherokee Triangle

Having spent a day and a half at the track, I was not leaving until I squeezed in another antique shop -Louisville Antique Mall located in a 19th century cotton mill. A huge antique mall filled with real antiques and collectables. It takes awhile to get through it, so plan accordingly. Also note antique malls are generally open on Sundays where as smaller shops are not.

After arriving home late Sunday afternoon, I discovered my New York Times that my neighbor, Sandy, had placed on my porch. On the cover of the travel section was an article, Bourbon & Bluegrass - On the road in Kentucky in search of two American originals. So I’m clipping this article to send to Watson (snooty friend) to see if he is in need of any more frequent flyer points!

Overall, what more could one ask for in a short weekend, learning a little history, seeing some beautiful thoroughbreds, and discovering some great antique shops. Well Done!

Thursday, November 1, 2007