Saturday, December 31, 2011

A DC Year in Review, 2011


2011 was a fun year! Throughout the year this blog attracted viewers from all over the globe with the most visits coming from the USA, and a surprising second place visiting from Russia! Following closely behind were the UK, Canada, Italy, Germany, France, and Australia. Other regular mouse clickers came from India, the Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Turkey, Mexico, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Ghana, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Latvia, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Iraq, Romania, Bulgaria, Egypt, Dubai, the Czech Republic and even lesser known countries such as the Republic of Moldova. 

+ + +

My top hits included the following: First up (and by a landslide) was the Rhinoceros posting from back in April, when I posted the rhino in art through the ages and in various mediums, paintings, sculptures, etc. Visitors were particularly interested in two pieces—Salvador Dali's rhino sculpture and Albrecht Dürer's rhino woodcut print. I always wonder if my international visitors are budding art students and keep hoping they will leave comments so we can all find out. A close second top hit was my Ophelia Drowned post, which was posted late in the year in November—those were all riffs on one of the original Ophelia paintings by John Everett Millais. Who can resist those beautiful Ophelia photographs? My Cinema Italiano—La Dolce Vita post was a popular hit; were you all film buffs that visited or do you just like to hear Kate Hudson singing Cinema Italiano? To all of you literary folks that clicked their way to the Shakespeare's Tempest post—are you just cheating on your Shakespeare homework? No doubt it was was Royal watchers who checked into my Kiss Me Kate posting, with Kate and Will's first official kiss along with other famous kisses in history. All you foodies checked into my Lobster and pasta... with a twist posting, which showcased my divine lobster with vanilla champagne sauce recipe, and the fashionistas of the world peeked in on my Pink Hermès scarf  posting in July in which I showed off my 50th birthday present. Brides and friends of bridal couturier Harper Della-Piana visited my Day of Harper-Razzi  and Wrapture in the garden! postings that described the wedding photo shoot that took place in my garden in July. I wonder if it was art students who visited the I'm your Venus posting, on which over a dozen different Venus paintings, inspired from Velasquez's and Manet's Venus paintings, are shown. And Italian sculpture enthusiasts checked in on my Bernini's Apollo and Daphne post in September, just one of hundreds of sculptures I saw during my trip to Italy in the fall, and also got lots of visits from the cyber world. Back in July I wrote a post about the Dale Chihuly glass sculptures at the MFA and that generated a lot of hits after I was  mentioned in a Boston Globe article. But the post that got the most hits in a single day was my Pork and butternut squash stew recipe from November, the day after it was published on Tastespotting.com.

+ + +

And finally, the post that generated the most comments? ... The French canned Tuna post from early December. Thanks to all you creative and poetic peeps who shared your Tuna Haiku poems with the world. They were all very fun.

Thanks again for visiting the DC blog throughout the year!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

December alfresco bath


Don't forget to to take care of the fine feathered friends in your yards this winter by supplying them with a heated birdbath, or as I like to call it, a heated swimming pool! When the mercury dips below freezing most water sources are scarce or frozen, so the birds really appreciate a watering hole like this to take a sip from or to take a bath to clean their feathers. To keep the water from freezing use an electric de-icing element. This photo was snapped just this morning during a snowstorm, as a flock robins were elbowing each other to get at the water. One robin even went in for a dip and flapped her wings as she bathed. I've noticed that these robins hang out here all winter and don't fly further south. Sure the ground is frozen and they can't get to their adored worms, but I see them in the cedar trees eating the juniper berries along with the grackles and the starlings. They must be able to find plenty of other berries to sustain them throughout the snowy northeast winters.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Panettone crema bruciata French toast


Panettone—that gorgeous Italian sweet bread studded sweet sultanas (raisins) and bits of orange peel is amazing all by itself or toasted with a pat of butter, but how about using slices of it to make a Crème Brûlée French Toast , or in Italian, a crema bruciata French toast? Mama Mia! Then it's transformed into something that's utterly sinful! Butter and brown sugar combine to make a caramel-like sauce that's tucked under panettone slices which have been soaked in egg, cream and orange flavored Grand Marnier. The pillowy, sweet panettone slices are so delectable that they'll have you singing Italian opera by the first bite. A salty slice of bacon is a nice compliment. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Throw me a bone!


Being the kind of cook who is shameless about acquiring any sort of interesting food item, I did what any foodie would do: I asked the host of a recent party I attended if I could take home the ham bone from the Honey Baked ham that she served! Okay, okay, full disclosure—it was my Sister-in-law, and she wasn't going to give it to her dog or make pea soup with it or anything, so how could I possibly resist all that über smokey ham potential? All you cheffie types out there know and understand... it was like winning the lottery. So I took home the ham bone booty and I put it into a stock pot along with the usual suspects. These humble ingredients all simmered away on the stove for several hours and the result is a rich and smokey ham bone stock that Julia Child would... sniff... weep over. Currently the ham stock is in the freezer, but it's destined to become the backbone of a glorious fiber packed lentil soup or perhaps a Tuscan white bean soup... or both. Thanks BA!

Click here for my chicken stock recipe.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winter garden of avian delights



These very beautiful and mysterious winter avian vignettes are part of a holiday window display of the Bergdorf Goodman store in New York City. So creative, in a surreal Hieronymus Bosch sort of way.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gingerbread man ornament


Ahh... the day after Christmas... empty boxes and filled hearts, torn wrapping paper and that half-eaten gingerbread cookie from the plate left out for Santa. I made this gingerbread man ornament when I was around 8 years old out of a brown paper bag, crayons and yarn. I actually sewed the two edges together with a needle and yarn, and I remember doing the task as if it were yesterday. My mom still places this gingerbread man on, or at least near, her Christmas tree every year. 

Once there was a gingerbread man,
Baking in a gingerbread pan.
Raisin eyes and a cherry nose, 
Trimmed right down to his fingers and toes.
A gingerbread man in a gingerbread pan!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas stamp graphic, Diane Carnevale

Zuzu's petals

graphic, Diane Carnevale

One of the best films ever—Yep, it's a wonderful life! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas: Do you hear what I hear?


Please have a listen to my very favorite version of
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, sung by James Taylor.

My second favorite version of this song is sung by Judy Garland.
Both versions have an aching melancholy that I quite enjoy.

+ + +

We actually have EIGHT versions of "Have Yourself..." in our iTunes library. In addition to JT and Judy, we have versions by: Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Shore, Aimee Mann (lead singer of 'Til Tuesday!), Lou Rawls, The Pretenders (!) and, the latest addition, by Michael Bublé.

This is part of what's great about Christmas music: It can be performed so many different ways. We have NINE versions of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting ...):" Brian McKnight, Carmen McRae, Catherine Feeny, The Hampton String Quartet, Vince Guaraldi Trio, James Taylor, John Gary, Nat "King" Cole and Ray Charles. And we have TEN versions of "Silent Night" (Celtic Christmas Orchestra, Aine Minogue, Damien Rice, Enya, House of Heroes, Mairi MacInnes & William Jackson, Michael Bublé, Richard Westenburg, Sarah McLachlan, and the Choir of King's College).

Music can really set a mood, and Dan and I love Christmas music. Every Thanksgiving night when we get home from my brother's house, we play the Charlie Brown "Christmas Time Is Here" song. We have  almost 400 Christmas songs and the names of artists above give a sense of the variety. We mix and match throughout the season, depending on our mood. On Christmas morning, we listen to all choral. It sets a peaceful, calm tone, filling the house with the voices of angels and bringing some appropriate solemnity to a glorious day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree...


I think that decorating Christmas trees is one of those rare times times that you can throw that old saying of less is more right out the window. It's OK to go overboard, if you wish. In true Tony Duquette style, more is more, and over embellishing and "ridiculous excess" (to quote William Shakespeare) is absolutely allowed. Everyone's trees are beautiful in their own individual way, whether they are decorated with natural ornaments such as pine cones, cinnamon sticks and dried orange slices, or decorated in Star Trek ornaments. My friend Liah does a Winnie the Pooh theme on her tree, and my friend Elaine does all purple ornaments.

This is my 'silver' tree—each and every ornament on this smallish tree is silver only. It stands proudly in a double window on the second floor of my home. On it I have antique crackle glass and hand-beaded ornaments from India—fleur-de-lis, tasseled balls, stars, paisleys and triangles—nestled next to filigree silver balls and snowflakes, Mexican hammered tin hearts, silver bells, round beaded discs (actually coasters) and funky little disco balls that catch the sunlight and make hundreds of "light fairies" that dance on the walls and ceiling. I try to buy in sets of a least a dozen each so that ornaments repeat throughout the tree, which is the same sort of design trick I use in the garden. To gild the lily even more I have clear glass teardrops on the tips of nearly every branch, and a beaded silver star at the tippity-top. All told, there are probably hundreds or ornaments... and this is just my silver tree! Downstairs I always have a larger tree that is only gold and red ornaments (crazy, I know) and some day I'll tell you more about that.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice


At Midwinter—also known as the Winter Solstice—it's time to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. We bid farewell to the Holly King and welcome the Oak King (that's him in my illustration above). With him we welcome the return of the sun and green (eventually) begins to envelope the earth. After today—the shortest day of the year—the earth begins to wake up from its slumber, then the days start getting longer and warmer ... but before all that it gets snowier here in the Northeast!

At Midsummer—also known as the Summer Solstice—the Holly King slays the Oak King to rule over the winter months. The days become shorter as we say farewell to the sun until the Winter Solstice comes around again on December 21st, when  mother nature shuts down for her winter slumber. This almost doesn't make sense when you consider those warm summer days, but there you have it.

Both solstices are symbolic of an eternal cycle of fertility, growth, death and rebirth. Happy winter solstice, and hooray for longer days!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Birches and berries


My urns are decorated for the winter months with birch logs and red winterberry branches. I finally got around to buying some of these winterberry shrubs (Ilex verticillata) this fall, with the plan that in future years I won't have to buy these cheery red branches each winter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate + caramel

photo, Diane Carnevale

Whoa. Have you tried this chocolate caramel bar from Trader Joe's yet? It's a new guilty pleasure of mine—squares of dark chocolate with a soft, gooey caramel filling, and salty bits of black sea salt crystals here and there.  It's not the fanciest chocolate, or the most expensive (I've paid $7.00 for a bar of Voseges chocolate) but it's a a nice exotic chocolate experience at a nice price.  I used to be a milk chocolate fan but I've since gone to the dark side, and crave that intense chocolate flavor that only darker chocolates deliver. This bar has 70% cacao, which is about as dark as I go (No bitter chocolate for me!). It caught my eye with its cool and unusual packaging.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lattice potato-wrapped cod fillet


The humble cod meets the humble potato, and the result is this lattice potato-wrapped cod fillet. Two notable elements of Massachusetts heritage come together nicely in this dish. The potato is a traditional staple of the Irish diet, and the state was a popular destination for Irish emigrants in the 19th Century; both my family and, of course, Dan's, have Irish blood. The cod, meanwhile, is the state fish! There's even a "sacred cod" in the Statehouse in Boston, an homage to the species' role in our fishing economy.

This dish was yummy—think fish and chips, only lighter. You'll want to get out your mandolin to slice the potatoes thin enough to bend and wrap, and be sure to season with salt and pepper before you sauté the wrapped cod in olive oil and butter. Finish with a good squirt of zingy lemon. On the side is a bundle of garlicy haricot verts and a rose made from lemon peel.

+ + +

Mark Kurlansky wrote a really interesting book called Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. Check it out to discover more than you ever didn't think you wanted to know about this single species of  fish.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One legged cardinal

                                                                          photo, Diane Carnevale

Male cardinals are so pretty in the landscape with their bright red jackets and tend to get all the oohs and aahs at the bird feeders, but the female cardinals are quite pretty too, with their modest red feathers. Both the male and female sport mysterious black bandit masks and have punky red plumed mohawks. This particular lady is very special because she has only one leg—notice that there is not indication of a left leg in this photo. I only noticed this oddity because she flaps her wings a lot to keep her balance on the feeders. I'm not sure what happened to the leg; a cat perhaps, or was she born that way? This is her second year with us and since cardinals live up to 15 years we hope to see her for years to come. Oh and in case you ever wondered, early settlers in America named this bird after the red-robed Cardinals of the Catholic Church.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pick a pepper!

    photo, Diane Carnevale

It's that time of year: Time to beef up your immune system against those dreaded winter colds.  A red pepper (also yellow and orange ones) have three times more Vitamin C than an orange and is an excellent superfood.  (Guavas are off the chart with vitamin C content too.) Pictured here is a snack that included tri-colored peppers and a (low fat) chipotle-flavored sour cream dip. Spread the sunshine and ward off those germs!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nutcracker smackdown

Maurice Sendak's beautiful book cover of the classic Christmas fairytale

What's a Christmas season without seeing the Nutcracker Ballet, whether it's live in a theater or watching a film version at home?  E.T.A. Hoffman's story of a little girl named Clara who encounters wild and imaginative characters (including those oversized mice) is a Christmas classic... because nothing says "Christmas fairytale" like a giant Mouse King with seven heads, right? I jest of course—the waltz of the snowflakes alone more than makes up for the mouse bits. Then there's all the lovely twirling and  pas de deux-ing with the Sugar-Plum Fairy and the Prince...not to mention all the beautiful set backdrops and costumes... all set to the playful music of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. Scrumptiousness! So which ballet company does the best rendition of the Nutcracker? The Ovation TV Channel is doing its fifth annual Nutcracker Ballet competition to try and find the answer.


Here are the five contenders this year: Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, London's Royal Opera House Ballet, Russia's Mariinsky Theatre's Ballet, the Berlin's State Ballet, and Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker (which is meant to be more funky and contemporary, though not quite as avant-garde as Mark Morris's Nutcracker Ballet). Each production has something different to offer and although they are all quite enchanting and delightful, for my money the 1986 Nutcracker: The Motion Picture film version—danced by The Pacific Northwest Ballet—is the very best version. They had me at the imaginative sets and costumes, which were designed my Maurice Sendak himself, and the cast includes a really wild looking Herr Drosselmeier (Clara's Godfather), with an eye patch and long white hair. If you love Maurice Sendak's Nutcracker book, you'll love this film because it's like a giant, pop-up-version of his book that comes alive!


Watch out for those giant mice Clara!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Keeping guard


These charming fox statues keep guard at the entrance to the old Clark estate down the street from us (Bridge Street, Hamilton). At one point the Clark family owned this home—a grand equestrian estate of yesteryear built in 1900 with a total of 21 rooms, including 9 bedrooms and 7 baths, in case you were wondering. How fabulous! They also owned a good amount of land on the north side of Bridge Street, and I believe the estate was nicknamed Fox Hollow. The Clarks once held fox hunts on their sprawling acreage and other adjoining properties, and later the estate was the home of the U.S. Olympic Equestrian team.

I was lucky enough to snap a reference photo of this snowy wintry scene back around 2001. I say lucky because unfortunately a delivery truck hit these columns a few years back and broke both of the foxes. Tragedy! So the foxes disappeared for a while but smaller ones have now replaced them. Here in my oil painting of this delightful scene I only hinted at the large brick home in the background, and the original foxes have been enlarged a bit for drama and balance—artistic license and all that—and the trees are much larger now. And so the original foxes live on... in this painting anyway... keeping guard...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bacon wrapped scallops


Bacon wrapped scallops—so old school right? Still, I see them at nearly every wedding or fancy event I go to, so I'd call it a classic that's not going anywhere. And if you made a warm sweet and piquant maple mustard cream sauce and served it all in a scallop shell over a bed of sea salt? Well suddenly it's a little new school. These bacon wrapped scallops with a maple mustard cream sauce are absolutely divine.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A walk through Russian history


The trailer for the film Russian Ark goes something like this: 2000 actors, 300 years of Russian history 3 live orchestras, 33 rooms of the Hermitage Museum and  one... single... continuous.... shot.  Isn't that an amazing feat in itself? I happen to think that this incredibly gorgeous film is one of the greatest ever made. It's dreamy, enigmatic, full of history, hope and change, yet also reveals a kind of wondrous, ponderous, aching melancholy for a time that will never again be. 


A mournful ghost—a newly deceased, fabulously eccentric 19th century French Marquis—brings us on a grand sweep of Russian history, conversing with us and guiding us though rooms with various historical vignettes. We saunter with him though opulent, art-filled rooms of Catherine the Great's Winter Palace—now the Hermitage museum—in St. Petersburg, Russia. "Everyone knows the present, but who can remember the past?" he asks.

With this time-traveling French ghost we come across Peter the Great who is verbally thrashing a general, we see Catherine the Great running to the bathroom after watching a theater performance, and we see Nicholas II and Alexandra's daughters (including Anastasia), dashing and dancing through gilded arched hallways like giggling forest nymphs.


Towards the end of the film we see Nicholas—the last Russian Tsar—hosting the final formal Great Royal Ball just before WWI in 1913. The camera swirls with the crowd as an orchestra plays in the background. Thousands of beautifully dressed aristocrats and snappy young soldiers—all in their white gloves—waltz the evening away. After the ball when the guests are all leaving is when I felt the crushing sadness of this dying time of history... of its customs and ultimately, the ruling monarchy.


At the final scene of this glorious film we slowly leave the doors of Catherine's palace and see a peaceful misty scene outside with the flowing Neva river to which the French ghost comments, "The flow is forever. Life is forever." Having completed the past, our French guide is now ready to move into the endless silence that is "the source of all sound." He goes on to say "Look. The sea is all around. We are destined to sail forever. To live forever." Isn't that lovely?

The creative brilliance of director Alexander Sokurov and cinematographer Tilman Büttner astounded me. Brush up on your Russian history before seeing this film, but do see it... and more than once! 

+ + +

I was lucky enough to visit Russia and this beautiful palace with Dan back in 2005, so I certainly relate to this film on an intimate level. I found each and every high-ceilinged room and grand staircase I visited there to be filled with historical magic and wonder. Below are some photos we took on our visit.

photos, Dan Ryan & Diane Carnevale


Monday, December 12, 2011

Giant sea kelp

    Photo by Phillip Colla www.OceanLight.com


Inspired by... dreamy, ethereal greens and blues of giant sea kelp.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sage advice: Hold the marshmallows


When humble sweet potato medallions are roasted with with maple syrup and butter they caramelize to make the most delightfully glazed morsels. To add crunch, toasted pecans are the obvious nut choice and the aromatic and woodsy flavor of fried sage leaves compliment the 'taters perfectly. You won't ever see marshmallows on my sweet potatoes. Nope.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Secret note box

photo, Diane Carnevale

Inside the Doge's Palace in Venice there's this curious and inconspicuous note plaque on a wall called a bocca di leone, or "lion's mouth" (not that it looks anything like a lion). It's a secret note box, and it's not as charming as it sounds. Back in the 1500s, Venice was a city of whispers, rumors and self-policing; any Venetian citizen could accuse someone of scandal or wrongdoing by simply dropping a piece of paper with your name written on it. All accusations had to be signed and witnessed, and if of course if they proved to be merely slanderous the would-be denouncer was in serious legal trouble of his or her own. Can you imagine that system today? Um, Sally from down the street didn't pick up her dog's poop this morning—off to the dungeon!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chocolate and strawberries

photo, Diane Carnevale

Strawberries and chocolate are the best of pals and when cleverly combined make a delish on-the-go breakfast or quick dessert. Spread Nutella (hazelnut chocolate spread) on a high fiber wrap (a whopping 13 grams in the La Tortilla Factory brand shown here!), sprinkle with halved strawberries and it's a moveable feast. To make a dessert, warm the ingredients, roll it, shape it into a crescent, and add more berries on top and drizzle with thinned Nutella sauce. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Prince charming


Est-ce vous, mon prince? Vous vous êtes bien fait attendre.
(Is it you, my prince? You have done well to wait. )
—Sleeping Beauty

Thankfully I found my prince charming years ago! Here it is December and while I was out sauntering in the yard I noticed a little frog hanging out in our other pond—the waterfall pond. The foliage is from a variegated (Emerald 'N' Gold) euonymus shrub (Euonymus Fortunei), the leaves of which turn a pinkish copper hue during the colder months. The colors in this photo remind me of a renaissance painting--dark, mysterious, and aged by time. Oh, and apparently P.C. and other frogs like him survive the winters by hibernating.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reflecting Buddha

photo, Dan Ryan

This small, circular pond is positioned in our Japanese maple grove—planted with roughly 15 different cultivars of Acer Palmatum trees. We call this our Buddha pond for obvious reasons. Experts warn you not to put a pond near a lot of trees, and this is why: it fills with leaves each fall. But we knew that before we dug the pond in this spot, and it's small enough that cleanup is easy with a net and a shop-vac. Besides, isn't the reflection of the red and yellow leaves beautiful? In the spring, enormous parrot tulips add a splash of red around the Buddha (see a photo in my June 2011 post here), then giant lime green leaves of the Sum and Sustance hosta emerge to anchor the Buddha in place throughout the summer. I am toying with the idea of planting some weeping Norway spruces for year round interest.


See our Buddha in the spring here, and here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

French canned tuna

 

Here's a fun stocking stuffer idea—order some French (thon), Italian (tonne peace) or Spanish (pesca de atùn) canned tuna! Nothing against Bumble Bee, my old stand by, but foreign tuna—packed in healthy olive oil—seems a little exotic and special. You can enjoy these gourmet canned tunas all year long, either in a sandwich wrap (my fave is with chickpeas and baby spinach), or perhaps in a salad niçoise on a hot summer's day—Comme ça...with tuna, potatoes, tomatoes, string beans, calamata olives and a medium boiled egg, all nestled on a platter of Boston bibb lettuce. Oui?

+ + +

Below is a humble haiku poem that I wrote that includes the words "canned tuna." Your challenge, should you choose to accept, is to send me your haiku poem, including the words canned tuna (or something close to that)—I'll post it here. Five syllables, seven syllable, then five syllables, with a twist. Or... just write any sort of story including the words canned tuna. Come on, you can do it. 

Humble canned tuna;
a briny gift of the sea
swims on, but in oil.
(posted by DC)

+ + +

The sandwich I make
Canned tuna, mayo on rye;
Can I still add cheese?
(posted by Dan)

+ + +

The fish I prefer
packed with mustard in its can,
the mighty sardine.
(posted by Norma)

+ + +

Herewith, from a can
salty, add to it mayo
slip inside toasted pita 
(posted by anonymous)

+ + +

Tuna, oh tuna
how I love thee Mr. Fish.
stinky but yummy
(posted by anonymous)

+ + +

Tuna on rye bread
the sandwich is perfection.
Aah ... potato chips
(posted by MB)

+ + +

Open can, squeeze, and splash
Remember my first grade lunch
outside on the grass
(posted by Mark)

+ + +

Omega threes, yeah!
Great big fish squeezed into a
teeny tiny can.

(posted by anonymous)


(Your haiku poem here!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hakonechloa


hakonechloa grass in late November

Our hakonechloa (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola) grasses started out as about a dozen little plugs of grass several years ago—a good investment of about 4 or 5 pots that were divided and spread out on this walkway. They looked a little thin at first, but look at them now! Even in fall after they've lost their magnificent golden summer glow, they look smashing. They get an annual haircut each fall using the lawnmower, and they come back each spring—sensually flowing in the summer breezes.

hakonechloa grass in summer

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The color turquoise!


Inspired by... the color turquoise.



To see more colors, click on the "color blocks" label below.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Buttered and baked


This lobster Napoleon is a breeze to put together. Although it's difficult to see in this photo, I tucked colorful nasturtiums into layers of phyllo dough (buttered and baked between 2 cookie sheets), then in place and ready to assemble, I had the crispy phyllo dough squares, steamed lobster and a velvety lemon tarragon beurre blanc sauce. Divinely decadent, and good enough for a French Emperer.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Good smellin' drawers!


Yeah, it's decadent, but admit it, you know you want Santa to put these Hermès scented drawer liners in your stocking this year too. They're luxurious, they're affordable, and you deserve the best. Just putting ideas out there—glad I could help. Fa la la la la—la la—la la.

+ + + 

Postscript note: I wrapped a box of these drawer liners and put them into my family Yankee swap on Christmas day and my Sister-in-Law Cathy was lucky enough to get them... Jealous! She says her whole bedroom now has a beautiful Hermès scent!



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Robert Osborne returns to TCM!


Here's one of my favorite peeps—Robert Osborne—movie maven and host of the Turner Classic Movies channel. He took 5 months off for some minor surgery and a well deserved rest, and is returning tonight on TCM! I am not really sure what kind of spell this man holds over me, but all I know is that even if I am not interested in the movie he's introducing each night at 8 PM, I find his voice and demeanor very warm and soothing to listen to (not to mention that twinkle in his blue eyes). He's a gentleman's gentleman, and he's a veritable encyclopedia of film knowledge—just plain crazy good. He's nearly 80 years old and no doubt his passion and love for film is keeping him young. Welcome back R.O., I missed you like mad!

Here's the scoop in his hiatus--in a story written by Richard Eldredge, Osborne is quoted in Atlanta Magazine as saying: “Honestly, it was no big deal, essentially, I had worked 17 years straight without a vacation. I wanted a lump of time just to relax and unwind. I wanted to go get an MRI and a CATscan. I wanted to get a facial and get some crowns put on my teeth. I wanted to start going to a gym regularly. I wanted to pamper myself a little. I feel really good and very well rested.''  Rock on Mr. O., we all need a little pamper time. Read the entire story in Atlanta Magazine here.

+ + +

Just to give you a little idea of the sheer genius of TCM, they often play strings of films featuring the same actor--tonight it's all about William Powell. All November TCM featured The Battle of the Blondes—films with peroxide lassies such as Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Kim Novak, Betty Grable, etc. (Brilliant, right?), and in the month of December they're featuring Silent Nights—Fragments: Surviving pieces of lost films. Saturdays at noon they've been featuring every Tarzan film ever made, and even if you're not into Tarzan (like me), you've gotta admit it's an awesome idea. One wintry morning last year they played 3 legendary Ingmar Bergman films, back to back. No commercials, just films—all the time. And if Robert Osborne is delivering one of his informative film introductions, even better. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Venetian tie candy!


The Venetian shopkeepers really know how to showcase their goods—look how fabulous they make neckties look—it's not just eye candy it's TIE candy! Such yummy colors, and those stylish Italian men are not afraid to wear them either.