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Pamper Yourself with India Hicks

May 17, 2018

How do I begin to express my admiration for India Hicks?    I have known about her for years and, like many of us, have avidly followed her design and lifestyle trendsetting ideas.  I am a sun lover and have fantasized about building a house in the tropics for years.   So, naturally, I’ve gazed endlessly at India’s Bahamian paradise of a home and have applauded her for being brave enough to build a beautiful and rich life on a tiny island; it takes courage to step away from the familiar.   From my perspective, India is a leader in showing how to celebrate her beautiful, extended family while growing an extraordinary career, from design to health awareness, and all the while reminding us to enjoy fun and play every day.   She is cool, she is beautiful, she is inclusive, and always seems unselfconsciously and fully herself — it makes her very easy to respect and a fantastic role model for us, her audience, and, of course, for her children.

I was deeply honored to be asked both to speak about India and to test out some of the products from her lifestyle line.  While the first request was easy – I can speak endlessly about her — I must confess to an initial hesitancy about the second.  As someone trying to develop my own commercial point of view, or “brand”, I’ve made a study of people who have introduced and promoted products as part of supporting their “brands” and, too often, the products are subpar, thereby detracting from the strength of their vision.  Not surprisingly, I should not have doubted for a second. The quality, love and care that India has put into her line — each and every product — is phenomenal:  The scents are delicious, the jewelry is so well made (the weight of the gold charms is exactly as it should be, the flexible chain length ideal), and the handbags are simply exquisite.

 Golden Fan Earrings Coral 

Hook Flamingo Bracelet 

 Golden Fan Earrings Desert Pink

Essential Chain, Gold

India Hicks x Figue 

( The tunic SO comfortable and cute for day or night, only available until the end of June!)

India has brought her exacting sensibility and lack of compromise to her line and has created an original mix of beautiful, high-quality products.  For example, she collaborated with one of my favorite design brands, Figue, to make this tunic pictured on me here (and by the way I am not taking it off so be prepared to see a lot of it!).  Additionally,  I hadn’t been swayed to switch from my perfume of choice since I was eleven until I tried India’s “English Rose” scent — even Will adores it.  Speaking of scent, her scented candles are equally delicious and I love every combination she has put together.  And, for constant inspiration, I would always highly recommend all of her beautiful books, also available through the shop.

Eau De Parfum English Rose (DELICIOUS)

 India Hicks Island Style

  India Hicks A Slice of England

 Candle Casuarina (divine!)

India has an Ambassador program which enables the entrepreneurial woman to build her own lifestyle business (via India’s brand, collection, tools and support).    And, she has set a challenge of raising $100,000 for charity in 100 days.   Will and I will be hosting a “Get Together/Give Together” event in July at our house in Charleston where you can come to buy her lovely products, knowing that a percentage of the sale proceeds will be given to a charity of our choice.  How cool is that??

Thank you India Hicks for sponsoring this post!! Proud to be part of the tribe!

Entertaining Home Style

Collector’s Corner: Essential Placemats

May 14, 2018

I have been holding off on my favorite topics — sheets, plates, etc.  for France as I would love to be able to really explore my Grandmother’s collection when we arrive next week!!    Placemats might be mistaken for a mundane item but can be a great contributor to a lively table and are essentials in our house.   We mostly rely on our woven ones which are our “everyday”  of which we have 24 (here is an upgraded version, and some in blue) but have some special blue and white, and I love cork rectangular/square/circles too.  My mother sent me new fabulous ones for Mother’s day which I can’t wait to show you — going to reveal properly with a themed table soon 🙂

We have our everyday and then maybe five or six sets of special (maybe more now) placemats which are great additions for mixing up a tabletop.   A full collection for us is 12 (we have 24 of our everyday as mentioned above), and then we have lots of incomplete but totally functional sets of six or eight.  The cork placemats above are from pottery barn and are really fun — so easy to wipe down and fun for many occasions, I love collecting just six for smaller parties.   I also love these stars for the summer, and these for breakfast.   A full collection is 12-24 for me!  The Matouk placemats below are our most treasured and most special.  They are my favorite color and the most beautiful layered linen.  Definitely worth the splurge for special occasions, like the holidays!  As are these fun rounds in both gold and silver. 

I love the quilted texture of the round tropical above, and the bottom two are very smart and very reasonable — you won’t worry if your guests spill their red wine on them!   Here are two companies — India Amory and Pomegranate Inc.  — where I love to grab block print placemats from and are a little off the beaten path.

And for formal cork, I retreat to Scully & Scully for the best of the best.  What are your favorites?? xxx

Charleston Entertaining Home Style Tables

A Quick & Easy Table for Two

May 11, 2018

Ah we have had a crazy week of cramming in everything before I leave today for Massachusetts to shoot a quick wedding for Vogue.com !   We are trying to get all of our wedding work completed before we leave for France, a week from Monday.  Needless to say, we have been racing around and hardly making time for family this week.  We decided to have a quick impromptu dinner outside (out of the editing “cave” and into the light!) en famille before I head out.

Today it hit 90 degrees — quite a reminder that summer is nearly here/has arrived??  I’m definitely having that “what should I wear in this heat” moment and so have lined up all of my linen and cotton for this warmer weather.  Nothing beats a solid white tee shirt with a long skirt — timeless, classic, feminine.   This outfit reminds me of my mother in my childhood, which is a good thing!  Also fun to set out some of my favorite plates and new napkins for our dinner for two!   This tablecloth reminds me so much of France and made me feel even more excited, as if it were possible!

I hope that everyone has fun plans for the weekend — I will be reporting from the Berkshires, which are still chilly but breathtaking and I am excited!! Let me know if you have any recommendations!! xxx

Charleston Entertaining Food Home Style

Wines for the Weekend!

May 9, 2018

I know that it comes as no surprise that Will and I really enjoy drinking wine!   At one point last year when I was just starting to appear more regularly in front of the camera my mom (and dad) pointed out (separately) that I had a glass of wine in hand perhaps a bit too often 😉  — nerves I say !

Regardless, Will and I are totally casual and relaxed about our wine education; by no means are we wine snobs, and we’re happy hitting our box rosé during the week but, we really enjoy trying new delicious wines and expanding our knowledge and experience.   Lucky for us, a lovely little wine shop opened up around the corner this winter and, when I had mouth surgery over the holidays, the owner Justin helped me pick new delicious wines which suited by damaged and very limited palate (which has healed in full BTW — phew!).     Through this experience, we formed a friendship, and he gained two very loyal customers (four really because our friends were living with us at the time).    Justin is so passionate and knowledgeable without being at remotely pushy or judgmental.    You can say to him that you need to find an $11 bottle or that you’re looking for a splurge and have no idea where to begin…. he really doesn’t mind and is there to help.   He has introduced us to plenty of new delicious bottles.  I can honestly say that there isn’t a wine that he has sold us that I haven’t liked.   He remembers his customer’s tastes and preferences and makes helpful recommendations.  With that in mind, I have been wanting to share some of his knowledge here and so asked him to help me pick some wines for us, two under $20, two under $40 and a splurge….here we go:

Two Under Twenty:

Cahors Le Pur Fruit du Causse –  Justin recommended a Malbec, which is a crowd pleaser (good to know, we aren’t big red wine drinkers so it’s particularly mysterious to us ).   This wine references the limestone it takes its name from and is organic, crisp, earthy, and juicy.  Pair with good or drink alone!

La Louvetrie – For the white he picked a Muscadet, its the entry bottle from Domaine de La Louvetrie, home of some of the very best in the Loire Valley and a very well-respected wine maker — one of the best.    This is the wine maker’s “entry level” bottle and because he is so skilled, is particularly wonderful for the price point.    

Two Under Forty:

Taganan –   I love the story of the team behind this  Canary Island white.   They are four who studied together and then went their separate way to study under famous wine makers before coming back together.   They bring back parcels of lands and revive old vineyards which have fallen on harder times but still have lots of potential because they feature old vines with real pedigree.    Taganan is a wine from Tenerife where the vines sit on volcanic rock directly above the Atlantic.   

Barsotti Vineyard – Gamay – The upscale red selection is a Californian Gamay.   These vines are grown in granite soil and replicate many of the features of one of the most famous varieties of Beaujolais — Morgon Cote Du Py.    Fantastically light, this is a fresh and charming choice. 

Fizz:

Pow Blop Wizz – Monarch has a great selection of ‘pet nat’ sparkling wines.   These are made using ‘unfinished’ grapes, allowing fermentation to continue in the bottle.   It is lo-fi wine making, shunning some of the pretense of champagne.   The bottle has to be inverted to release all the “yummy” residue before pouring.   The process – described as Russian Roulette with wine making – when successful results can be deliciously lightweight and fizzy.   Like this one, with the amazing name, it is delicious, fun and feels just like summer – why not?

Splurge:  Justin has a selection of collector’s wines, and this Volnay Caillerets (2002, $250) his first choice for a “splurge” bottle — elegant, sophisticated, lifted, crisp and seductive.  The excitement with which he spoke about it had us dying to buy a bottle (there’s only one left).   What a fun date night experience to have at home — pair with food that isn’t too dominant, like a roast chicken or hearty fish.

 

Charleston Entertaining Flowers Home

Crash Course: Spring Flowers

May 2, 2018

The spring is one of my favorite seasons for flowers.   I remember when we were planning our October wedding many years ago, all the flowers that I loved the most were unavailable or too hard to get because they were for Spring.   Now of course it’s possible to get anything year round, but I really try to stick to what’s in season and to look forward to what is blooming next.   I can’t wait to get my hands on some lilac!

An early spring (late winter?) favorite are ranunculus — they are so soft and feathery and are such a treat.  I also just discovered these white tree peonies at a local shop and fell in love with them; I bought them “open” but they seem to be holding up ok!  Daisies are a favorite, as are sweet peas (I bought some “wild” sweet peas yesterday — something I had not seen before, either).   Tulips, daffodils, speedwell, queen anne’s lace and snapdragons are all so beautiful and delicate.  I also ADORE paper whites, clematis and hellebores.  The list goes on!

People often ask me how I select my flowers.  The truth is that I go totally by color and texture, and only by following this instinct has my knowledge and taste expanded.  I remember that I used to feel that I could only buy romantic antique roses and peonies and didn’t quite understand the rest and how to handle them once I brought them home and had to make an “arrangement”.    The more you practice the better but one thing that makes it super easy is just to keep your flowers in pretty monochromatic arrangements: all the ranunculus together, all the daisies, etc.  while you gather confidence in processing and handling flowers.

The same goes for color; if you’re feeling intimidated, just stick with a really simple color scheme, like white, and then select all the white flowers that you like from the store.   I’m known for laying out all of my flowers at the wholesale florist and then eliminating or adding from there — a habit which I am sure is very annoying (and well handled by them) but since I am a visual learner, this is the best way for me to educate myself on what works well.

Charleston Entertaining Family Food

Adventures in the Kitchen: Sweet Animal Cookies

May 1, 2018

Our little one, Baby R, loves activities in the kitchen.   Whether it’s tinkering with a can opener, or creating some wild smoothie (like arugula & milk for “mama” — yuck!), he absolutely adores to spend time creating his own concoctions and playing with all the tools.   I am not particularly gifted in the kitchen and am prone to burning/over-cooking and generally forgetting what’s in the oven (lost in the act of flower arranging/candle-lighting) but since having our child, I have been determined to learn more to ensure that we stick around the table for meals as our family grows.

I love the idea of having glass jars filled with (healthy) baked goods that the children can grab;  I know this is not the best example but it was definitely a fun place to start.   Baking is an art form and I loved mixing together the frosting with the natural coloring the most — felt a lot like painting which I always love to do…

We try to really take our weekends as a family, and to check out from work.   This is particularly important during wedding season when we have so few weekends totally “off”.    This past weekend we spent most of our time outside playing under the hose and scooting around the neighborhood but in the height of the afternoon, we came inside to do some baking.    Those of you who follow us on Instagram stories might know that right now we have nine pets — four cats & five turtles (long story, and we’re not hoarding we promise).   We thought it might be fun to make some (as healthy as can be) sugar cookies to enjoy with an iced tea in the late afternoon and naturally gravitated towards the animal molds … I particularly love the unicorn which I am icing below:

The lady who sold us the molds reminded us that we should freeze our cookie dough for 20 minutes or so to make sure that it’s extra cold when it’s going into the oven — this way the shapes won’t expand/spoil — good to know!   He really loved watching me smooth the frosting with my finger and found it to be the most amusing part of the process — we didn’t let him have too many cookies !! xx

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