Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the loveliest towels

A year or so ago, I invested in a set of gorgeous new towels. I ordered a dozen white Sferra towels and eighteen washcloths, all monogrammed from Neiman Marcus. This blog post makes it sound like I regretted it, and I don't exactly, but I've recently run across more towels that have made me rethink everything.

For years, I've bought antique/vintage cotton towels. Their hand monograms have always been charming to me. And functionally, I actually like them better than traditional towels. The vintage and antique ones pictured above are the sort I pick up when I find them for under $100. They are frequently very large and have elaborate hand monograms.

But the towels from the Trillium Collection are making me rethink everything. Based here in Nashville, I also love that my purchases would support a down-home, local Southerner, Sue Joyce, who started her own business. They are kind to the environment and gorgeous to boot. So if you need new towels, the Sferra ones are fine, but I'm saving up to start a collection of Sue's towels. Won't your overnight guests be impressed when the find a stack of Turkish towels on an antique stool in the guest bath?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

finding inspiration... from Sid Mashburn

To really make your home and entertaining life an extension of yourself, you have got to learn how to find your inspiration from lots of different places. I suppose it doesn't hurt that I'm a visual person. I scarf up images. Images from everywhere... art, photography, shelter mags (natch), fashion and webs sites.

My latest inspiration comes from a fashion web site. Sid Mashburn is a natty menswear store based in Atlanta. It has a very modern yet proper/Southern aesthetic. I've stopped in once while in the ATL to shop for Mr. EE. I wish I could stop in more often. Sadly, when I was there, I didn't have my camera which is strange for me. So I decided to look them up on the wonderful world wide web and there they are! Not nearly enough pics, but I like the ones that are there.

What inspires me about these photos? The hedge out front, the horse head sculpture next to the mannequin and, most especially, that great huge horse painting with the black glossy walls and the sisal rug. How do I integrate this inspiration into my own life? Not sure yet. I just know they are terribly appealing. So I'm saving these images along with jillions of others. One day, when the time is right, I'll know what to do.

(NOTE: please click on the photo of the darling man out front with the hedge and read the store's mission/inspiration/description...it closes with the words "a fresh interpretation of old standards." Exactly what I'm all about! Muse found!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Go west, young woman! (or east...wherever your wandering heart takes you)

This post from Melissa over at Well Appointed House totally inspired me. She writes about how important it is to have the right bag and the right accoutrements inside the right bag when you travel the friendly skies. I'm a believer. In fact, I'm planning a little trip with Mr. EE up to the Big Apple soon and this post is right up my alley.

I'm of the "look good while traveling" school as well. Perhaps I can't pull it off as well as Ms. Hurley, but I can try. (The photo of the lovely Liz is courtesy of Melissa at the Well Appointed House. Go see the whole post.)

As for me, the perfect bag is an old school train case. I know, I know... not as practical as a big old Hermes, but the train case is just so romantic. I invested in one from T. Anthony. Mine is all black and isn't canvas, but you can't go wrong with any T. Anthony piece. I'm saving up for some more pieces. I think I want one of the "packing cases" that doesn't roll. Totally impractical, but again... so romantic. Isn't that what skycaps and traveling companions are for?

I also travel with my trusty pashmina wrap but I'd love this Gucci scarf as an upgrade. Either way, you have a nice little blanket if you get chilly and something pretty for your neck once you arrive.

Finally, I always have a little travel clock like this one, also from T. Anthony. Nobody sees it, but does that really matter? Sometimes the most important things are the ones nobody else sees. I feel it makes my trip a little more civilized.

If the subtlety of T. Anthony isn't your speed, though, there's always a personalized Louis Vuitton. Dreamy, right?

And if, as is the case for most of us, you can't afford the whole shebang right now, start with one important piece. The money spent on my T. Anthony train case was well spent. As would one of those hand painted, personalized LV bags. Everyone comments on my train case when I travel. Meanwhile, the suitcase is just a cheap rolly thing from Target. One day I'll upgrade to the packing case. And my pashmina? Well, it is nice... a blend of cashmere and pashmina, but the Gucci one is what I crave. But one day I'll upgrade.

What about you? What are your rules for travel?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brilliant Bunny!

I really love Bunny Williams. I'm a southern girl, so I tend to gravitate toward her more tradish aesthetic. I really love her use of color, though, which gives the traditional a more modern twist. She has an amazing eye. I'm trying to channel my inner Bunny by using the photo above as inspiration. It's from her Beeline Home line. I covet the ikat pillows.

That's why I was especially thrilled to see that she has created a line for Caspari. I'm mad for faux bois, so I know I'll be scooping up these little napkins. Yes, you've seen me post about how much I love to present an ironed cocktail napkin to my guests, but these are so charming that I'll be using them quite a bit this summer.

Monday, May 23, 2011

now you see it...

I remember growing up in Jackson, Mississippi and shopping at the mall. Jackson had a few really nice boutiques, but back then they were all geared toward the older shopper. I wouldn't have dreamed of buying anything at Maison Weiss or Frances Pepper as my mother frequently did. For me, it was all Limited, Gap and some department stores.

I also remember vividly the Clinique girls in their lab coats and clear purses. I now know that the department store mandated employees to carry those bags so they could keep an eye on theft, but they just seemed super chic to me. I wanted one! At age 10 and 11 I vividly remember planning out what I would carry in them since everyone would see the contents.

So when I ran across this post on Sketch 42, I simply had to share it. I think what appeals to me much more than the DIY aspect (I'm not much of a DIY girl actually, but for a Lucite clutch, I'm totally game) is that the blogger thought about what went in it.

It reminded me of this jelly Speedy style bag I just saw - and almost bought - from Furla. BAGPOOR has a great post about it here. It's not as clear as Lucite, but stuff will definitely be visible. What will you carry? Valley of the Dolls/sarong/bikini? New York Times/Paris Match/your passport? Whatever you choose... make it count!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nashville's Gas Lamp Antique Mall - lighting finds today

Well, if you follow me, you know I love old things. We Southerners have a deep, bordering on crazed, love of anything with some age on it and I would say the majority of what I buy is vintage or antique.

While at the Gas Lamp Antique Mall in Nashville today I ran across these two lighting finds. I didn't pick up either one...the store was closing and I didn't want to feel rushed, but I think I'm going back first thing tomorrow morning to grab both.

Neither lamp is a slam dunk, but I think it's important to remember that you can modify your purchases. Just because you walk out of the store with the lamp a certain way doesn't mean you have to keep it like that forever.

I think I'm going to change up the shade on both of these. A quick trip to Lumen, my local lamp shop, and the pros there will help me pick just the right one. And a really great shade is a fabulous upgrade to an inexpensive lamp. In this case, the yellow one is $95 and the wooden one is $185. Neither one is going to break the bank and I actually like the cheaper yellow one better. I picture it with a black silk pagoda shade with a gold silk lining. Or maybe a great pleated shade. Either way, the pros at the lamp shop will help me find one with just the right scale. Chic!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

shell chandelier - an homage to coastal living

I grew up in a coastal state, Mississippi. My home town was Jackson, nowhere near the Gulf, but we got tons of fresh, not frozen, seafood.... shrimp, crab meat, oysters, fish. I have all of my grandmother's old recipes for things like crab imperial, shrimp salad and crab maison. I now live in Tennessee, and there are so many good things about my new, now permanent, home but fresh seafood is generally not an option. And I miss it.

It was on a recent visit to the Mississippi Delta that I stayed in the home of an old college girlfriend. She had the chandelier pictured in a hallway above that I ran across on the Debut blog. My friend told me she purchased the fixture at Anthropologie, but I can't find it on their web site any longer. If you were interested, you might be able to call your local store and find one.

The moment I laid eyes on it, however, I knew I had just seen something similar but couldn't put my finger on it until I got back to Tennessee and was going through a back issue of Garden and Gun... and there it was in the Made in the South Awards issue (Dec '10/Jan '11). It's made by Lowcountry Originals, a South Carolina company. Their pieces are all handmade with things like shells, reeds and driftwood. Demand is high, so order yours quickly to get on the list.

Either one would be right at home in my dining room and both are totally dreamy. Sadly, Tennessee is land locked, but for a girl who grew up eating fresh raw oysters and oysters Rockefeller, it's a perfect fit.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Old Fashioned... what a proper name for a southern cocktail

Our Steeplechase here in Nashville was today and, of course, our friends to the north in Kentucky just had a little horsey gathering of their own last weekend. Thought you might want the recipe for a summery bourbon toddy, the Old Fashioned, if you felt so inclined.

I personally tore this recipe out of Garden and Gun when they printed it in 2009 and have used it many times since. I even purchased the proper wooden muddler because of it.

Remember this when you entertain: don't go overboard with your bar. Along with a few wines, you'll need a vodka, gin, scotch and a bourbon. Buy the best you can. I would rather entertain less frequently and serve my guests the good stuff. I do like the idea of each event having a custom drink, but keep your guests in mind. If it's all women, something fruity and pink will do, but if you have a mixed group, think about an old fashioned or a whiskey sour. I do a whiskey sour quite a bit and everyone loves it. Honestly, who doesn't like citrus and whiskey? It's the base of all good punches, which is a whole other post! I'll post on the whiskey sour and punch later, but here's the one Garden and Gun got from the bartender at 610 Magnolia in Louisville.

the 610 Magnolia Old-Fashioned

1 large and uneven slice of lemon peel
1 rough-cut brown sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
No more than 1 oz. branch water (or bottled water)
2 large ice cubes
2 oz. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-year bourbon
Small triangle of orange slice for garnish

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

games people play

I'm sure my late grandmother and great aunt are pleased, smiling serenely down on me. I've taken up bridge. As a child, they each tried to coax me into the game they adored so much, but back then, I just viewed it as stodgy.

Fast-forward to life in Nashville and at nearly forty years old, I've wised up. And I love bridge! It's not that I never liked game. Quite to the contrary, I've always loved card games. Specifically trick-taking games like bridge. As a child and teenager, my beloved late father would play poker and Bourre (pronounced "boo-ray"... I don't know how to insert and accent ague, so please forgive the French misstep) with me. Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, I always saw Papa going off to drink bourbon and play Bourre with his fellow politicos and attorneys and I always wanted to go. Of course, he never took me, but he taught me how to master the Acadian-rooted game and we frequently played with family and friends. In college, I played a lot of spades. Probably too much.

But all those years of shuffling, dealing to your partner, reading his or her face and concealing your own to your opponents were sinking in and the spirit of my grandmother was there for every trick taken. So now I'm a bridge player.

Really, though, I'm resurrecting all games of my youth now that I'm a mother. I have an 11-year-old who is now at the perfect age for really "getting" games and a 6-year-old who tries to play everything we do. All that nostalgia and game playing has compelled me to start updating my game cabinet.

For cards, I'm loving these found at the Williamsburg Collection. All the charm of the antique image, but with the function of a repro. For all that
shuffling you'll be doing.

But if you are a proper Southern belle, you love a monogram, so perhaps you are more into these found at Dabney Lee at Home. I'm nuts about the mod colorways and prints. Very Valley of the Dolls. (Note the great monogrammed Lucite trays and monogrammed Lucite ice buckets from this site as well. Bookmark it.) The color and monogram choices seem endless and would make a perfect hostess gift for a weekend away.

And who didn't play backgammon growing up? I can't tell you how many beach vacations were spent playing backgammon in the 1970's of my youth. Jonathan Adler, the king of the happy and snappy, has reinterpreted the backgammon board in needlepoint. Love. I can't copy the image for you here, but check it out at his web site.