November 26, 2018

Entertaining Secrets from the Pros + a Gift

When I received an invite from friend Michael Devine, asking if I would be his guest at his speaking engagement, it was an instant yes!

Michael Devine
-Hand painted bespoke Textile Designer
-Hand painted dinnerware
-Home Accessory designer
-Interior designer
-Entertainer Extraordinaire

A memorable weekend in upstate New York, years ago, was spent at the home of Eddie Ross and Jaithan Kochar. As we were decorating for the party they clued me in on who was coming, who I might enjoy in particular,  and a few, maybe not as much. At the top of the list was Michael Devine and his partner Thomas Burak, himself a renown Interior Designer. They had it right, an instant click, I FELL IN LOVE WITH THEM!

The next day I was invited to their country home for lunch. This pavilion had a tented interior fabric, Michael's of course. Great cooks the luncheon was beautifully presented and delicious. I felt like a princess. Michael "poo poos" that, to me however it remains a magical day in my memories.
-Rome born, world renown interior Designer
-House Beautiful's,  A List Masterclass
-Renown Entertainer
-Product Developer
-Textile Designer
- Home and Fashion Designer

Isn't she gorgeous! Living in Chicago, she seemed so friendly and approachable
From MICHAEL .......
- Set the table & elsewhere with a single color flower en masse
-Never allow guests to clean unless it's an "All Participate" party
-Never try a new recipe
-Vintage Damask napkins are plentiful and inexpensive. Dye them a fun color
-January is a great month to entertain
-Ignore the trend of placing napkins under plates, dangerous!
-Make certain your place settings are correct, often magazines are incorrect, for instance the teaspoon only comes out with the coffee service
-Host a garden party

-Feed all the senses
-Creates a play list starting slow & building. Favorites include Rap, Earth Wind & Fire, and  Ella Fitzgerald.....always unexpected
-Never sets a buffet, not in her Italian heritage
-Loves to provide gifts at her place settings, Books and Salt Cellars are favorites
-Tuesday, Wednesday & Sunday parties are ideal, no one stays too long
-At desert, every man moves 3 seats to the right to mix up the conversations
-The best parties have a mix of people; the graffiti artist next to the banker.......
-Play a game, placing questions in a bowl that passes around the table. Examples include; how did you meet your significant other, tell us about your first kiss.......
-Host parties frequently, even pizza, wine & candlelight makes for a great time
-Edits her rooms seasonally. Removes all accessories, and ads back a select few and seasonal favorites.

Alessandra's party hosted at a private Chicago Club. See the figures? She always adds a touch of whimsy!
                                                   BEST DINNERWARE

Nantucket Basket by Wedgewood

Vienne by Baccarat
 Tahiti by Buccellati

                                               BEST SOAP FOR THE  POWDER ROOM

Of course.......

Other thoughts in their conversations........

*Try a Progressive Dinner, each house representing a different country (love this!)

*As a guest, know when to leave

*If hosting a large party, and instead of a buffet, set up tables thru-out the house, even the master bedroom.  (I went to such a party once and was seated in the Master, it was interesting & intimate.)

*Place cards are always appreciated by your guests

Speaking of which is this enchanting company........every seating at the event had a packet of place cards. I fell in love, yes, again, and contacted this small family business to see if they would like to participate in this post.


Being a small family based business myself, I discovered that 'Mr P's' was likewise. Meet Karen Suen-Cooper and Martin Cooper. Graduates of the Parsons School of Design they each entered the world of design via Burberry & luxury brand Kieselstein-Cord, now residing in NYC
Seeking respite in their Hudson River Valley 1790's farmhouse, where they love to entertain in their black-lacquer dining room. 
They co-founded Mr. P's to facilitate the "goodness of gathering-joy" derived from the shared ritual of the meal.
What better way to make your guests center stage than to make a place for every name?
Karen and Martin invented the illustrated place card with a curio image becoming the theatre of the dining table and sparking conversation. The option of digital calligraphy on the back completes the set.

I invite you to enjoy their website Mr. P's place cards.
View the many options and come back to comment on your favorite. Randomly one person will receive a set of your choice.
Place an order and receive a 10% discount with the code WELCOME 2018

ps.....those lovely little stands are available too!

                                              Enjoy the entertaining season!


November 16, 2018

English Gardens, It' the people and cake........part 2

In the previous post I spoke of the people that allowed our group into their lives via their gardens, and their homes

Today's post is about the families we visited that had a dream and a passion, let's meet them

The first stop for our group was Petersham Nursery, just outside London. This magical place holds a special place in my heart. In 2004, I joined an international landscape garden designer association, APLD, for a professional tour of English Gardens. We were invited to the pre-opening, alongside the press including Vogue Living, House Beautiful, etc. for an introduction evening.

Greeted with an ingenious layout and design, enhanced with candlelight everywhere,
cocktails and Filet Mignon +++++ ....... I was transfixed! They even invited us into their adjacent home

This year our group of ladies joined us.

Meet the creators, Gael and Francesco Boglione. This couple took a problem and turned it into gold.
Next to their property was a nursery. When the nursery went out of business they knew developers would come in with high density ideas. A new life was born
How about this?! A geometric thyme garden situated at their home that leads to the nursery
Appealing furniture, antiques, chandeliers, accessories, gourmet cafe and all things Garden

 The display gardens reflect the season
 Art abounds

 A portion of the cafe dining spot
Look Familiar? Sadly, an American company, Terrain, went there and copied everything. The owners were devastated and did not allow photographs for years. They have risen and added a Petersham's in Londons Covent Garden while this site prospers, wildly

But one cannot leave without delicious Cakes!

Roger and Monty Saul. As the founder of the iconic brand of leather goods, Mulberry, Roger decided to move his headquarters to London, leaving the established factory in Shepton Mallet vacant. In giving back to that community he decided to turn the factory into a design forum for the public, ala Kilver Court Design Emporium.

His vision of modern retail as an experience embodies all the senses. Remember, this is outlet shopping

One of my favorite manufacturer resides here, TOAST. Having promised myself I need to treat myself once a year, I always comply!

Really, this is at an outlet mall???? Well consider we re in England!

Centered around a former railroad viaduct, this setting rivals any renown English garden
 Look at these benches; Brick feet and one chunky piece of ancient beam, smashing in it's simplicity
What else? A delish cafe, with cake
Here is a fun video produced by Roger

Meet Iwan Wirth and Ursula Hauser, husband and wife team, originally from Zurich.
From humble beginnings of selling art, at fairs, 25 years ago.  Their empire now includes 7 galleries, around the world, with 4 in the US.

This is their rural location where they have set down roots and are raising their children
Representing over 75 artists, they engage in the arts, education, conservation and sustainability

The entire grounds was a derelict farm, quite run-down and abandoned. The existing buildings were stunningly renovated. In front of the former chapel resides a Calder installation

They have built a reputation as visionaries,  and practice sincere philanthropy.

Know what this is? How about the original use for Staddle Stones, aka "mushrooms"?
If you guessed grain storage, you are in the know. yes the staddle stones not only hold up the grain house but rats cannot get in....genius!
Newer additions house a shop, book store, educational facilities and public spaces

Then there is the art itself, contemporary art in a rustic setting

Let's head outdoors to the grounds designed and overseen by Piet Oudolf, the master mind who did the same at Chicago's Millennium Park.

 September is the ideal time to visit this serene setting with long views
 I was informed that Piet develops his own plants, of which only his clients receive. This coneflower is one of those with it's wind waving petals

The restaurant has gourmet, organic offerings
And yes, they offer a delicious regional cake, 'Dorset Apple Cake'

Want to get away?

        Join Sylvia & I to England 2019…….   
        September 11th to September 19th

drop me a line for the details, already filling!

LOCAL  N E W S…………
Join us on Black Friday, 2pm 
Bring a friend, and family members for a calm and creative afternoon with a decorative swag for your door or table

Our Fresh swag workshop will be held at the historic

Ever been?

It's like an escape to London, warm, masculine and very equestrian! Built in 1843

        Fresh   Greens
                   Have arrived!
            The shop garage is festive with an abundance of

         🎄Tree Toppers…..Sticks & more!

                     With love,

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