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The Most Romantic Nights…

July 13, 2018

A few years ago, my cousin got married at our family house in France.    The house was brimming over with women preparing for the big weekend, and there was so much chatter about manicures and hair appointment times, I could tell that my (new) husband was hitting his limit (bored senseless, and he has a very high tolerance!).    I quickly and quietly extracted him for a mind-clearing drive.   Naturally, we ended up at the beach.   It was a windy beautiful June day, perfect for a swim.   Because we had rushed out, we didn’t have any of our beach things — suits, towels, etc.   We ended up buying cheap bathing suits at the nearest stand, and then we splurged and rented a jet ski.    We spent an hour tossing and turning in the Bay of St. Tropez and re-emerged refreshed, sated and happy to have had this private moment together, doing something fun and spontaneous.    Whenever Will wears those swim trunks, I am happily reminded of that afternoon.    All this is to say that sometimes the most romantic things are best unplanned, at least for us.   And this little car rental ended up being a lovely follow up, just the two of us…

The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - French Picnic - Wine, Cheese & FruitsThe Most Romantic Things - Moke Fun!

The sun sets so late in France, our little one has often gone to bed well beforehand.    With enough support at home, Will and I were able to sneak off once again, this time for a romantic picnic nearby.    Funny how taking a quick moment to really set it up, pillows and all, made it all the more special for us.    The cherries and nectarines are bursting, sweet and juicy and were the perfect match to the buttery soft cheese and ice cold rosé.   And, it’s hard to feel anything but happy when you are bathed in beautiful, golden light with your love.

The Most Romantic Things - Delicious French Cheeses! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - Sunset PicnicThe Most Romantic Things - Earrings!!The Most Romantic Things - Local Cherries and Peaches - Yum! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two!

I have been trying to figure out how to recreate this at home and am open to any recommendations.     I think in Charleston, it would probably involve biking to a nearby park (when it cools off a bit).    I’m looking forward to more time in the Northeast as we love watching the sunset from the dock or beach.

The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two!

Beauty France Personal

Transformative Skincare with Toska Spa

June 8, 2018

I have never been particularly fussed about looking after my skin.   Lots of water and exercise always felt like enough to me, and I used a basic organic exfoliating cleanser and almond oil as moisturizer.    This worked well enough for a while but, as I have gotten “older” and particularly after having a baby and getting less sleep, I found that I needed to take some extra preventative steps to minimize forehead wrinkles/the ones between my eyebrows and around my eyes, and to make my skin look brighter and its most healthy.

I have been working with a great Spa in Charleston to increase the hydration of my skin and to improve areas that have been damaged due to long hours everyday stresses. The results have been really pleasing, and as I have become more knowledgable about the industry and confident on the subject of skincare I have discovered that many women I know with fantastic skin were already using products from the same wonderful range. It’s a well kept secret that I am honestly so glad to know!

Toska European Spa uses innovative products by the French line, Biologique Recherche, which is incredible for transforming your skin and maximizing its potential.   They have some amazing treatments which stimulate your natural muscles and are an alternative to more invasive procedures.

The spa takes a highly personal approach with a range of products that can help with all skin types and maladies, and the process begins with a consultation, which you can initiate online.

My skin was very dry, and the products which I now cannot live without, and see a huge difference when I use, are the Lotion P50 (now I am on the V) and the Creme Dermo-RL. The P50V I apply morning and night when washing my face, and the Creme Dermo-RL I use as a night cream.  The Phase De Soin VIP is my ultimate serum, I apply it as a ‘primer’ before my daily make-up, and it acts a barrier protecting my skin throughout the day. I cannot recommend them and the spa treatments highly enough.

Collecting France Home Personal

Collector’s Corner: Colorful Tablecloths & Napkins

May 28, 2018

I have been waiting to arrive here in France to my grandmother’s home to really roll up my sleeves and dig into this new series, Collector’s Corner.   My grandmother was the queen of collecting; she loved finding new treasures, especially china, glass and textiles.   I would love to go through her home and archive everything that is here to better understand the decisions she made in decorating this slice of heaven which still very much feels like “hers” even though she passed nearly ten years ago now (it still feels very recent).    One of my favorite memories from my childhood and our time here as a family was the breakfast table which was always set with a colorful local cloth and of course, plates and plates of croissants — we were always feeding a huge group.   As an adult, I realize the effort that goes into setting the table for a larger party for every meal, and so appreciate the standards she set.   A colorful cloth goes a long way in making the table feel special and complete, fun and not too formal.

“Gaga” (my grandmother’s nickname) had so many sets of napkins — usually 8 or 12, sometimes 24.    They are all neatly pressed in the drawer and ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice.     Many have wild patterns, and layering them is encouraged.   Who minds really about a pristine and neutral table when the joy of living here was to be surrounded by beauty and to have the most fun possible?

Although this breakfast table is a much smaller example of the ones our family sets, I couldn’t help but use the backdrop of her many potted roses which are in full bloom outside her bedroom.    I imagine her stepping out in a robe to read the paper in the sunshine with the background music of singing birds and cicadas.    I can’t wait to share more of her collections in the coming weeks… xxx !

Here are some of my favorite sites to start your collection today:

India Amory

Roberta Roller Rabbit

Pomegranate Inc

xxx

Entertaining Family Home Personal

Silly Dinner Party Games!

April 25, 2018

Center: wearing one of my favorite new dinner party dresses, see here! Fits like a glove. xx 

I love spending time with my extended family because it’s always a riot.   We stay up late, we sing, we dance, and we play lots and lots of silly games which make us laugh until our tummies ache or someone inevitably wets their pants.   It’s lively and it’s so full of love.  My childhood was spent staying up late for these special occasions, cozied up in the winter and dancing under the stars in summer.   It’s no wonder I have such a deep love for entertaining friends, and for keeping it light, amusing, unfussy and totally relaxed.    Will and I often play cards together over dinner when it’s just the two of us, but when it’s a larger group, there are a few go-to games that I love to play (besides the obvious cards against humanity, etc.).

One of my most memorable was the Christmas we tried to play murder mystery.    The idea was that everyone had a separate instructions about who they had to “off” and it had to involve being in a specific place with a specific weapon while simultaneously tapping your victim.   An example would be:  have three towels in the garden (freezing garden) with Auntie Leslie, or a lightbulb in the shower with cousin Tommy, the more random the better.   I got very overexcited and decided that I was going to win (this game was due to take place over the course of the entire week).    Those of you who know me might have guessed correctly that I blew my cover in the first night due to sheer over excitement and trying to force my uncle into the garage mid-dinner party.  Busted.  I was then handed a lightbulb at dessert and was “out”.  Bummer.  But! It’s a game that I am anxious to play again and think it would be really fun to pre-assign guests for a larger party.

Next we have some easier games to throw together.   My aunt Leslie is the QUEEN of the after dinner game, and loves playing this a grown up version of beer pong:  two teams on opposite sides (girls vs boys is fun).  Fill the glasses (no stems) with wine.  Each team has a ping pong ball — bounce into the glass and once it gets there you down the glass and pass the ball…. she adds, “we girls always win!” and I have to say I believe it to be true.

Pass the orange is another one where you divide into two sides and try to pass an orange all the way down your side — the only trick is that you can’t use your arms and that it can’t touch the floor, if it does you’re out.

And of course name that tune, charades and celebrity are still classics.   When in doubt, the family all puts on silly hats which seems to freshen things up.

Now it’s time to hear from you!  What’s your favorite dinner party game??? xxx

Charleston Entertaining Family Food Personal

What I Learned From Alice Waters

April 24, 2018

When I left university, I was torn between pursuing my career in photography or my interest in the slow food movement, in particular, introducing gardens into the school system so that the next generation would grow up able to recognize foods, understand where they came from and how to prepare them.   I was well studied on and passionate about this topic  (I get very very focused when I am interested in something) and couldn’t believe my luck when I scored an internship in the office of Alice Waters — it was a dream come true, or at least the result of lots of persistence.

My father flew out to Berkeley with me to help find an apartment.   He jokes that the moment we rolled into town, I peeled off my preppy knit cashmere sweater to reveal my tie-die tee underneath — like I had finally come home!   In the end, I was only there for four months but, my father visited me three times in that short duration.   One of the trips, we took a two week drive around California to every national park, just the two of us.  Another trip, I accidentally ate my roommate’s medicinal pot cookies and had to get him to come rescue me, which he did, without question.  He’s a really good dad.

Back to Alice:  I imagined that I would be a fly on the wall, performing surface level tasks and hiding in the bathroom whenever possible, and was terrifyingly and pleasantly surprised to be thrown right in.   I loved every minute of it — Alice had built a team of incredibly talented people, some of whom are still good friends, and the day Michael Pollan walked in and tapped me on the shoulder to ask where Alice might be was one I will never forget.   You would have thought it was … Obama?  I practically fell out of my chair, he was and still is a huge hero of mine.

It was in Alice’s office that I first learned how to arrange and tend to flowers, a passion that continues to this day.   I was also fortunate to have a few non-work related dinners with her when we were able to drink lots of wine and have DMCs (deep and meaningful conversations) — most memorable was my 24th birthday when we spoke long into the night about love.   Little did I know that I would meet Will, my husband to be, just five weeks later.     Before heading off to Savannah for graduate school,  I returned to Berkeley for my first professional photography gig:  The 40th Anniversary of Chez Panisse.  When I was hugging Alice goodbye after a weekend of celebration she said, “you’ll be back…”.

Dinner, or any meal, with Alice is never simple.   It is infused with love, coziness, magic and a seasonal freshness that connects you with your environment.  She will introduce you to a fruit that you haven’t even heard of or hand you the most delicious strawberry that you have ever tasted.   She will talk to you with an unguarded and open heart, about anything.  She is not self-conscious or worried about what you might think of her; she is deeply and unapologetically herself.   So what does this teach us, really, besides the obvious tenants that she has fought for her entire life?

It teaches us to live with passion.  To fight for something that we can dedicate our lives to, in pursuit of the betterment of our families, communities and our planet.   And if that feels too daunting for now,  Alice teaches us to make time to celebrate others, and to make them feel so so special.    She teaches us to live for the pleasure of it all, for ourselves and the people around us, to listen and engage, understanding that learning something new might just set us on yet another glorious adventure.

 

Here is a link to an auction raising funds for the Edible Schoolyard!!

Charleston Entertaining Personal Style

Welcoming New Readers: Top 15 Posts

March 28, 2018

Hi All!     We’re in the middle of printing/framing our latest fine art series which will debut next week, so exciting!   We are having a show here in Charleston for the entire month of April at my favorite showroom, Fritz Porter.   It is a great honor and I will be sharing more details shortly but in the meantime, I thought I would share a quick round up of some of my favorite posts of all time 🙂   I know that a lot of you are new-er readers so I wanted to point you towards some older pieces which I feel are a great representation of what we’re up to here on the site.

To set the tone, we have a few dreamy lifestyle posts, like breakfast in the garden in France, and the Morning Bread RunDinners in France is a favorite;  I also love this post from when Will and I set up a cozy, romantic picnic on our dock on Martha’s Vineyard (where we had our first date!).     These posts are a place to get lost and let your mind wander, they’re really just for the pure pleasure of looking at pretty settings.

Six Things You Might Not Know About Us is a good place to go next if you’re wondering who we are!

We have some more in depth posts which are designed to be more useful.   Our round up of our favorite photography tips & tricks is one of our most popular posts, and I think this one on editing for brand consistency is relevant.    Our most recent one on setting up excellent mood boards is a favorite, too.  Here’s a post on some of my favorite Charleston streets, not to be missed.

A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting is also a more robust post not on the topic of photography, and we’re introducing more guides to the site in the coming months, like a guide to entertaining, etc.    A quick but similar post on setting up a guest room is here.

While we’re on the topic of entertaining, setting the table for guests is one of my favorite things to do (and was my first business when I was a teenager!).      This one is from years ago but remains as my favorite of all time because I was collaborating with my dear friend Anne who is the most phenomenal florist and my creative partner in crime.    I also love this over the top table we did for Matouk (and actually got to enjoy with great friends until late into the night, although that’s not pictured — soon to be fixed, we’re planning to feature more other people!).   This Valentine’s table is a favorite, as is this tropical summer table.

And a few final favorites, like a quick post from our trip to St. Barth’s last August, a post on summer style and I couldn’t forget to show you my favorite store on earth, which I can’t wait to get back to this summer! xxx

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