Archive for July, 2012

classic dior

“Elegance must be the right combination of distinction, naturalness, care and simplicity” ~ Christian Dior

Transparent fabrics, such as gauze and chiffon, feel lighter than air…50’s inspired silhouettes re-imagine classic Christian Dior…think fantasy, think romance, think beautiful…champagne anyone?

Highlights from Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2012 ~ designed by Bill Gaytten

photos from Christian Dior and by Alexis Dahan via W Magazine 

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summer wind

nothing compares the sight, scent, sound and feel of a summer wind…wishing you soft gentle breezes this weekend

July in VT ~ Wolf Kahn, 2012

Summer Wind by William Cullen Bryant

It is a sultry day; the sun has drunk
The dew that lay upon the morning grass;
There is no rustling in the lofty elm
That canopies my dwelling, and its shade
Scarce cools me. All is silent, save the faint
And interrupted murmur of the bee,
Settling on the sick flowers, and then again
Instantly on the wing. The plants around
Feel the too potent fervors: the tall maize
Rolls up its long green leaves; the clover droops
Its tender foliage, and declines its blooms.
But far in the fierce sunshine tower the hills,
With all their growth of woods, silent and stern,
As if the scorching heat and dazzling light
Were but an element they loved. Bright clouds,
Motionless pillars of the brazen heaven–
Their bases on the mountains–their white tops
Shining in the far ether–fire the air
With a reflected radiance, and make turn
The gazer’s eye away. For me, I lie
Languidly in the shade, where the thick turf,
Yet virgin from the kisses of the sun,
Retains some freshness, and I woo the wind
That still delays his coming. Why so slow,
Gentle and voluble spirit of the air?
Oh, come and breathe upon the fainting earth
Coolness and life! Is it that in his caves
He hears me? See, on yonder woody ridge,
The pine is bending his proud top, and now
Among the nearer groves, chestnut and oak
Are tossing their green boughs about. He comes;
Lo, where the grassy meadow runs in waves!
The deep distressful silence of the scene
Breaks up with mingling of unnumbered sounds
And universal motion. He is come,
Shaking a shower of blossoms from the shrubs,
And bearing on their fragrance; and he brings
Music of birds, and rustling of young boughs,
And sound of swaying branches, and the voice
Of distant waterfalls. All the green herbs
Are stirring in his breath; a thousand flowers,
By the road-side and the borders of the brook,
Nod gayly to each other; glossy leaves
Are twinkling in the sun, as if the dew
Were on them yet, and silver waters break
Into small waves and sparkle as he comes.

The Tall Poplar Trees II ~ Gustav Klimt, 1900

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Ethereal brushstrokes bring long shadows and flowing water to life…take a relaxing stroll down a shady garden path or cool off next to the beauty of an ornate stone fountain…a taste of summer as seen through the eyes of John Singer Sargent

Spanish Fountain ~ John Singer Sargent, 1912

Florence Fountain, Boboli Gardens ~ John Singer Sargent, 1906-1907

Fountain at Bologna ~ John Singer Sargent, 1906

Shady Paths, Vizcaya ~ John Singer Sargent, 1917

Bologna Fountain ~ John Singer Sargent, 1906

Boboli Gardens ~ John Singer Sargent, 1907

A Marble Fountain at Aranjuez, Spain ~ John Singer Sargent, 1912

Villa di Marlia: Lucca ~ John Singer Sargent, 1910

Vase Fountain, Pocantico ~ John Singer Sargent, 1917

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On the heels of yesterday’s post, I thought you might enjoy a more intimate look at Robert Couturier‘s Connecticut garden…landscape designer Clive Lodge, of Cornwall, Connecticut, rose to the challenge of creating a miniature Versailles on ledge and in a cold climate…Lodge brought in 2,000 winter beauty boxwoods to create two parterres divided by an allee of clipped hornbeam…

“The challenge here was to run it into the woodland…it’s a blend, a complete contrast between ultra-formal and natural woodland…” ~ Clive Lodge from an interview with Luxe Interiors and Design, Winter 2011

“I love being here in the country…the dogs running around, the cozy fires, and the smell like wet ashes when you come into the house…I walk in the garden with the dogs all day long…” ~ Robert Couturier from an interview with House and Garden, June 2012

 “I use urns because they remind me of my grandfather’s house, which had a lawn that sloped down to a big lake. At the end of the terrace, where the lawn started, he had large marble urns that would frame the views. His white peacocks liked to perch and show off their beauty to whoever was around. To me, the image was of such perfect beauty, peace and timelessness that when the time came to punctuate my gardens with ornaments, urns were a natural choice. I do not use them in an orderly fashion. They are a personal decision based on my sensibilities and what I feel my gardens need. My inspiration throughout was French gardens. In France, our gardens are peppered with garden ornaments—they help civilize nature, and they tell stories about us.” ~ Robert Couturier from an interview with Connecticut Cottages & Gardens, June 2012

photos and resources from Luxe Interiors, House and Garden, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens and Veranda via Robert Couturier

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over the hedge

I have always loved the look of a boxwood hedge…whether grand or petite, its sculpted form lends order to our outdoor world…these organic “walls” highlight the beautiful flora around them, almost the way our interior walls highlight beloved works of art

photos from houzz.com

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Last week, my husband and I tried this recipe from the 2012 July/August issue of House Beautiful and I have to say, it was the BEST sandwich I’ve ever tasted! We did leave out one ingredient, the red pearl onions, but otherwise we followed the directions to the letter…it was absolutely incredible what the lemon zest and preserved lemon skin did to the flavor of the ricotta, avocado and tomatoes! Each and every ingredient was elevated to a new height (as if I was tasting them for the very first time!) I don’t usually post recipes, but this was so heavenly, I just had to share it with you! I hope you have a chance to try it sometime this summer…if you do, let me know what you think! (try with ice cold champagne/prosecco or your favorite white wine!) Ah, the tastes of summer!

Gabrielle Hamilton’s Avocado Sandwich Recipe

Ingredients ~ Serves 4

1 pound (scant 2 cups) fresh ricotta

Zest of 2 lemons

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 teaspoons for drizzling

2 pinches coarse kosher salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

4 long, even slices of very good bread

2 large, perfectly ripe avocados (approximately 18 ounces), at room temperature

1 pint mixed-color grape tomatoes, cut in half horizontally (you won’t use quite the entire pint)

8 red pearl onions equaling 2-3 ounces, thinly sliced into rounds (or equivalent in thinly sliced red onion)

4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Skin of 1 preserved lemon, flesh removed, finely diced

½ teaspoon toasted poppy seeds


1. Mix the ricotta with the lemon zest, ¼ cup olive oil, and salt and pepper, and set aside.

2. Arrange slices of bread on a cutting board and divide the ricotta mixture evenly among the four slices. Spread into a generous even layer.

3. Split the avocados, remove the pits, and slice each half into even slices without cutting all the way through the leathery skin. Then, with a soup spoon or a flexible rubber spatula, release the flesh and arrange the slices neatly and evenly among the bread slices.

4. Artfully and attractively arrange the tomatoes by nesting them into the soft avocado. Then arrange the red onion slices over the tomatoes.

5. Garnish each sandwich with the sesame seeds, the preserved lemon skin, and finally, the poppy seeds. Transfer to plates and drizzle with olive oil.

To read Gabrielle Hamilton’s inspiring article from HB, click here

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“Cultivate an ever continuous power of observation.

Wherever you are, be always ready to make slight notes of postures, groups and incidents.

Store up in the mind…a continuous stream of observations from which to make selections later.

Above all things, get abroad, see the sunlight and everything that is to be seen.”

~ John Singer Sargent


See the sunlight! Wishing you a glorious weekend!

Staircase in Capri, Oil on canvas ~ John Singer Sargent, 1878


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The simple pleasures of a summer garden…golden light, flowers in bloom, butterflies in flight, long days and warm nights…enjoy!

photos from house to home

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happy fourth of july!

Wishing you a very happy and safe Fourth of July!

photos by umami and roitberg via Flickr

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Today’s post includes photos from The Stephen Shubel Design studio located in a modern loft building in the South of Market district near the San Francisco Design Center…you may recognize a few pieces from yesterday’s post ~ the four-foot-tall plaster bust of the goddess Juno and the antique Swedish painted chairs…it’s wonderful to see pieces from the Design studio in his own home! In both cases, antiquities blend seamlessly with classic and contemporary decor…his signature blank canvas allows aged textures and gilded finishes to take center stage…

FYI ~ keep an eye out for his new plaster and lighting line due out next year! In a recent interview with House Beautiful, the designer speaks of his passion for plaster ~ “I love the sculptural aspect. That may be one reason I love France, because there’s so much figurative stuff all over. Unlike stone, plaster is lightweight. It has a smoother finish, but it still achieves a wonderful patina over time. I also like that it’s chalky white. You’re not distracted by color. You look at the sculptural form, and that’s what you see throughout my house – the shapes.” ~ Stephen Shubel

photos from Stephen Shubel Design

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