The art of the table. Beyond the centerpiece, the selection of linens, flatware, china and serveware swirl with possibilities as one ponders how to style the table. Creating a unique table top display will not only enhance the festive meal which will be enjoyed, but composes a striking visual and memorable display. And of the embellishments that garnish the table and distinguish the place setting? Endless inspiration of personal style. Whether the ambiance of choice is within dim surrounds with candlelit glow or the bright brilliance of light filled room, drawing attention to the table will blissfully treat the eyes of those that gather around the table…
The practice of the arrangement of tableware is layered throughout history. The precision dictated in the arrangement has certainly evolved beyond “Basic”, “Informal” to “Formal”. The “Table Setting”, “Laying of the table” or “Place setting” refer to the way in which to set the table with “tableware”. The arrangement for a single diner, the “Place setting”, certainly designates the amount of guests to dine at the table. The “Formal” setting is dictated by precision and deliberate placement with requirements of dedicated tableware. The “Informal” is typically arranged based on formal settings but require less utensils and dishes. Perhaps considered a relaxed and simple approach or the refinery of formal requisites, both are delightful in experience for the guest or guests that gather to partake in a moment of culinary bliss paired with a striking and memorable celebration of thankfulness.
No matter how you arrange your table of Thanksgiving, ensuring that you have created a memorable event is perhaps in the details. Personal style and personality of the host and/or hostess certainly plays a part. Life’s celebratory moments are an occasion to create a stellar scene. With flair, with finesse. The table that those gather around should swell in gratitude and thankful hearts at a moment in life with which to gather with purpose and intent. And of course, the appreciation of the table will certainly follow…
The “Bar Cart”. The classic mobile unit (typically on wheels) that is used to hold an array of beverages, bar ware, stemware and all of the trimmings needed to serve a guest or yourself! Used for the sole purpose of the ease of entertainment, the bar cart or “Trolley” is a classic addition to our interior spaces, particularly during the Holidays or social gatherings we hold within our homes. The destination within our interior spaces that the bar cart finds itself depends largely on the design of the bar cart. In fact, whether the bar cart makes its appearance throughout the year or is a staple structure within our interiors, its addition (or a grouped area of service elsewhere) is essential to entertaining. The classic bar cart is often rectangular or round with four rolling casters on each end. A well-stocked bar that rolls in style, indeed. Whether crafted from metal (brass seems to be a classic material for this detail in entertaining), wood, lucite or stainless steel, the ease of movement throughout our interiors through the use of the castors cannot be denied. Portable style for those of us with smaller spaces, indeed. The most basic bar cart typically has a low shelf at the bottom and a top shelf that allow you to corral stylishly the grouped bar of varied bottles, embellishments, barware and stemware. Perfection in entertaining! Some carts even have the added feature of racks along the outside, in which a ‘bar towel’ is ready for the inevitable spill or to soften the spray of the uncorked bubbly. Again, everything for the guest at-the-ready. Alas, self-serve on wheels! How comforting to our special guests that fill our interiors during moments of our host & hostess bliss!
Perhaps when one thinks of the “bar cart” thoughts travel back to the indelible images of classic Hollywood black and white movies from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I grew up watching these noir films in the company of my mother. She certainly knew the classics and returned to them often. The inspirations I took from these classic Hollywood films as a young girl have remained. Recall the time, captured on the countless reels of the films of Hollywood, where the debonair and elegant set seemed to never be without a bar cart for their carefree whims of entertaining! Indeed, the “Cocktail Hour” was prevalent in the glory days of Hollywood. The perfected elegance of what was once a permanent fixture in the living rooms for social entertainment generations ago, the bar cart has returned to center stage.
Perhaps the glamour of these images brought the “bar cart” or “bar trolley” to the living rooms and parlors of the American households across the country. During the 1970’s, however, architectural history saw a rise of new homes that included built-in-bars. It can be derived that the bar cart faded away as the installation of “wet bars”, complete with running water, diminished the need of the cart with rolling style. Actual “bars” were also installed in lounge areas of homes, further rolling the bar cart out of the interior design forefront. But alas, it has returned in recent years with force! An elegant addition to entertaining with elegance and ease, indeed. A return to etiquette, perhaps, in which the guest is presented with an array of choices to meet their whims and everything at-the-ready. And for the guest that you were not expecting? You are ready! As if you were expecting them! Again, if you are without a cart to hold your gathering of entertaining bliss, any surface will surely do. Tabletop displays or improvised groupings are a stylish alternative to the bar cart. Another option of creating an“Entertaining Central”. Rethink, indeed.
Consider a return to the classics, if you will. And of what to display and have available on these stylish “Bar Carts”? Well, that is perhaps another topic all together. Rolled out with style and personal flair, they are stocked with an individualized assortment of personal preference, for certain. A stack of cocktail napkins are a must (I adore white cloth napkins, as it is the little luxuries of life that make moments even more outstanding). Of course, one should always be ready for a celebratory moment with a bottle of champagne. Alas, perhaps a champagne bucket is an essential! Stocked With Style. Of key is to not forget to replenish after your guests have departed! Corkscrew at the Ready to decant the next bottle of wine, as always, for the next soiree or an unexpected visitor. Alas, a stocked bar will certainly bring the “sommelier” out in all of us. Don’t forget a bottle or two of sparkling water. Stemware ready to fill and a filled candle to add instant ambiance at a moments notice are also key elements. However you “stage” it, it is a no-fail answer to “Stress-Free Entertaining”. The ease of entertaining, indeed….
“Black Friday” is not an official holiday, but rather is the name given to the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. “Black Friday” is similar to Britain’s “Boxing Day” (the day after Christmas) when most retailers open extremely early, offering promotional sales and incentives for shoppers. “Early Bird” specials, indeed. Thus, “Black Friday”traditionally marks the beginning of the Christmas Holiday shopping season. Regarded as the busiest shopping day of the year, it is no wonder that non-retail employers observe this day as a holiday along with Thanksgiving. Alas, the number of potential shoppers certainly increases the upward spike in sales anticipated by retailers.
Of interest, it is said that the name “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania around 1961, where it was used to describe the “heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur the day after Thanksgiving”. Use of the term established a broader use outside of Philadelphia around 1975. Who knew? In time, an alternative explanation began that “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers turn a profit, or are “In the black” (an accounting expression that alludes to the practice of recording losses in red and profits in black). Of course, “Black Friday” has also been defined as the day of the stock market catastrophe, September 24, 1869. The crash is said to have been sparked by gold speculators who attempted to corner the gold market. The attempt failed and the gold market inevitably collapsed, causing the stock market to plummet. A somber moment, deemed a “Black Friday”, indeed. However, the “Black Friday” that relates to the world of retail today is certainly more in line with goals of being “In the Black”. Profit, indeed.
Alas, as the shopping begins may the hunt of finding the “Perfect gift” be approached with enjoyment. After all, the beauty of the holiday season is meant to be relished with merriment and joy. Refuse to acquire the stress that seems to be linked with the chaos and frenzy of shopping that often arises during this season. Rather, commit to approaching the Holiday shopping season with the determination of calmness, patience and poise. Lavish in the joy of the moment. Lastly, a gift given from the heart has no price tag. Gifting with joy that is in alignment within the means of your personal & financial abilities is priceless. And remember, less is always more. Quality vs. quantity, indeed.
Well, it is indeed an appropriate time to pen the words… “Happy Holidays”
Perhaps it can be said that the arrangement of our personal work spaces within our homes is a combination of purpose mixed with personal passions and interests. A personal stance of preference in which we determine what creates our own personal focus and creativity. Indeed, a personal stamp of design-sense, if you will. It is our own world which we create a daily mood board, on the walls or on the desktop, that describes and showcases our current state of mind. Why not make our ‘desk’ a central hub that gives us clarity and a sense of accomplishment? Focussing on our aspirations amidst a beautiful space can only help bring us closer to the fruition of our goals, dreams and tasks at hands, no matter how overwhelming or mundane they may be. Whether a part time office, full-time work space or a central point within our walls in which to pen an elegant note (alas, the Art Of the Handwritten Note, which I have previously expounded upon in a previous post (see etiquette)…), or serves a dual-purpose function by day and by night, whether a small and narrow console turned into a desk or a large expanse of wood that encompasses a sizeable amount of square footage, it should be a place at which we desire to dwell….
There is no “Perfect” desk. In fact, I believe the best desk arrangements are ones in which are created in time. They simply evolve, as do we. It is, indeed, an evolution of personal style discovered through our evolving and changing day-to-day lives…
Rethink your space. Personal to you, reassess if you find yourself inspired, stimulated and prompted to create, to plan or to dream. Life is to be lived with each and every moment. Every moment counts. Live them beautifully, surrounded by those things which aid in bringing you to a point of sheer inspiration… After all, a desk is not simply just a desk. It is certainly function and purpose, but it is also an expression of ourselves. Live boldly. Live creatively. In personal style.
With all fairness to the Bride’s Groom, I would not be doing justice to the Grooms without an official nod of appreciation to their elegant and debonair attire…the classic and timeless “tuxedo”. For that matter, any occasion that requires the man to don a jacket of distinctive style…
A “Tuxedo” in American English or a “Dinner Suit” or “Dinner Jacket” in British English is described as a Gentleman’s outfit for formal evening occasions, traditionally of black or dark color consisting of a suit with contrasting satin or grosgrain lapel facings, matching braid on the trouser out-seam, a bow tie and a cummmerbund. The classic “Tux”.
The history of the tuxedo swirls between various stories of its arrival to the world of men’s fashion. History references the tuxedo as predating the dinner jacket. In fact, the Tuxedo first appeared in 1889 while the dinner jacket made its entry in 1891. Today, the term “Tuxedo” or “Tux” is used in North America. Britain often refers to the white version of the suit jacket as a “Dinner Jacket” and in North America it is called a “Tuxedo” . In many other European languages, including French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese this jacket is called a “Smoking Jacket”. Who knew?
There are many possibilities as to the official grand entrance of the “Tuxedo”. It is not simply black and white, however, as always, it is worth peering into the past to consider history’s admittance of this jacket that shocked the formal world…
During the 1860’s there was an increased popularity for the casual lounge suit as an alternative to the formal day wear traditionally worn. It is said that fine gentlemen also began to seek an alternative to the formal tailcoat worn every evening. The compromise became the enhancement of the the casual smoking jacket. History states that this turning point in the respectability of wearing jackets without tails, apparently became a fashion success when somewhere between 1860-1865 the British Prince of Wales (who would become King Edward IV of the UK) requested of the now infamous tailors of Saville Row, “Henry Poole & Co.”, (henrypoole.com) to design a “tailless” smoking jacket to wear at informal dinner parties. Surprisingly, the color of choice with this first royal order was not black and white, but rather blue silk! Again, who knew? By 1885, the Prince simply ordered a “tailless dinner jacket” from Henry Poole & Co. A fashion statement and trend had begun, indeed!
As for the introduction into the United States of this grand black and white classic, history states that the British prince once again had a hand in its American launch. In the Summer of 1886, the Prince invited New York millionaire, James Potter, to his Norfolk, England hunting estate. Henry Poole & Co‘s website offers an interesting tidbit of insight that perhaps it was the Prince whose wandering eye fell upon Brown’s stunning wife, Cora and perhaps brought upon royal lust that led to the invite. Alas, we shall never know! Apparently, when Potter sought guidance on proper attire for dinner dress, he arrived at none other than Saville Row’s, Poole & Co. Apparently, Brown was introduced to the new dinner suit and was smitten with it. Some say that it was the Prince himself who Potter conferred with and was directed to Poole & Co. Either way, Potter is said to have brought this tailless suit with him to the “Tuxedo Park Club” in New York, a newly established residential country club for New York’s elite. The mere mention of this very club begins the iconic status of the ‘Tuxedo’ on American soil. In addition, here is where the story is not so black and white. The introduction of another key historical reference to the ‘Tuxedo’- Pierre Lorillard.
Lorillard, a tobacco magnate of the 19th century, acquired land from his family that later became regarded as “Tuxedo Park”, a village located 40 miles outside of New York City in Orange County. The land was originally from the Algonquin Indian tribe, originally called “P’Tauk-seet-tough”, named after the tribal chief, meaning “Home of the bear”. The town’s founders, who included William Waldorf Astor, Robert Goelet, Ogden Mills and Pierre Lorillard, kept the phonetics of the name and the village was christened “Tuxedo Park”. In 1886, on six hundred acres of land, Tuxedo Park was born into a world that beckoned the high levels of social class. This elite residential walled and keyed colony , fully occupied in the Spring and Fall seasons, was built by Italian artisans brought in by Lorillard, as a series of elegant homes that included residents of only the highest social circles. A high-profile residence, indeed. In fact, it is said that Lorillard selected 700 wealthy and prominent New Yorkers and invited them to tour the new community. Selling out almost immediately, this resort for the rich and famous included a fishing and hunting destination and other amenities, a boathouse, trout pond, swimming pool, tennis courts, and of course, the infamous club house. For a time, Tuxedo Park was considered the most exclusive and first gated community in America. Who knew?
The extravagant and exclusive social scene of Tuxedo Park led the residents to originate their own private social organization called the“Tuxedo Club”. It was this very club’s first annual debutante Autumn Ball in October of 1886 that the “Tuxedo” is said to have made its official entrance. It is said that Pierre Lorillard, going against the typical long tailcoat and white tie, commissioned several modified, tailless black jackets for options to wear to the ball of this gilt-edged society. It is not known where he drew his inspiration, or if it was James Potter, a member of the Tuxedo Club who has rights to the first introduction and perhaps Lorillard simply modified it. However and whoever is credited, it was not Pierre who brazenly wore this new look, as he apparently changed his mind in wearing these seemingly revolutionary jackets, but rather, his son, Griswold Lorillard. It is said that Griswold and several of his esteemed friends wore these new designs and created a fashion shock that became an instant trend. In no time at all, the gentlemen of the “Tuxedo Club” were wearing these new shortened garments to the fashionable circles of the New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1889, validating its debut entry as a fashionable classic. History also notes that the ascendence of the members of the “Tuxedo Club” into New York City was the “talk of the town” and New Yorkers began to refer to these garments as ‘Tuxedo’s’. Again, who knew?
No matter who introduced the ‘Tuxedo’, this timeless classic will never tire of being in the spotlight…a classic in black and white it shall always remain in a man’s wardrobe. A tuxedo that is tailored to fit a man perfectly truly is an investment piece that will stand the test of time and find ways to be worn throughout one’s lifetime. Connected with high class, society and elegance, it is no wonder that the tuxedo became the garment to pair with the bride…or any beautifully dressed woman, for that matter. It is also no wonder that in time, it would be a style that would be borrowed from the gents…
The fashion world gives credit to the legendary designer Yves Saint Laurent, who brought the “Le Smoking” tuxedo suit to the world of women’s fashion. Indeed, his suit and the image of the woman in it became iconic. Finally, a nod to the attire and adornment of women in fashion and iconic figures who have, and who continue to don this classic look….
The epitome of style, fashion and class. Whether a New Years Fete, black tie soiree or a wedding in style, the gentleman’s tuxedo will always present itself as sophisticated and refined. And the tuxedo style incorporated for the woman? Like red lipstick, an elegant and timeless statement, indeed.
“For Me, a tuxedo is a way of life”- Frank Sinatra
The French macaron. Pure Pastel Bliss.
Uniquely flavored butter creams in beautiful pastel colors cushioned between two soft, cake-like cookies. A bit of heaven to simply look at, let alone eat! These colorful confectionary wonders are a ‘pop’ of sheer delight and a pastry wonder. It is certainly worth knowing how these delightful morsels came to being…
The history of the macaron cookie is a love affair of its own. According the Larousse Gastronomique, the word macarons was derived from the italian “Maccherone”, which means fine dough. The Venetian word “Macerone” and the English term “Macaroon” comes from the French Macaron. There are many stories of this petite, almond meringue cookie’s origin. Surprisingly, it is touted that its humble beginning was in Venice during the Renaissance. Some historians claim that they can be traced back to an Italian monastery. According to historians, the macaroon made its way to France in 1533 by the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici at the time of her wedding to the Duc d’Orleans who became Henry II, king of France in 1547. As the story continues, it is said that while the Royalty were indulging in these sweet pleasures, two Benedictine nuns, seeking asylum in the French town of Nancy During the French Revolution, used these marvelous cookies for their housing payment. Baking and selling these little wonders, they became known as the “Macaroon Sisters”. So famous were these heavenly treats, that the street was later named after them! The current French Macaroon, which is indeed the true captivating Parisian-style version of the macaron is said to be created by the talents of the legendary Pierre Desfontaines Laduree and Pierre Herme,The King of French Pastry. The concept of joining two macarons and filling them with ganache has evolved today to include not only gancache but buttercreams and jams, and a limitless array of colors and flavors. Bliss, indeed. The mesmerizing love affair with these confectionary morsels brought enduring fame upon themselves- the “Almond and Macaroon Museum” in Montmorillon, France.
These beautiful petite wonders are the most coveted cookie in France, particularly in Paris. Not only have these become trendy little indulgences to serve, but they have become the fashionable gift to give. How perfect to splurge on this confectionary treat for Valentines Day!
A sweet and elegant token of admiration, indeed!
Did you know that January 23rd was National Handwriting Day? I did not. But I do know the importance of The Art of The Handwritten Note. I was fortunate to have learned this art, at a young age, from my Mother. In this age of technology, more than ever before, the handwritten note takes on more importance.
There is a sense of excitement that arises when, among the bills and standard mail, we find a handwritten note. The thoughtfulness that arrives under the sealed envelope instantly brings cheer to the receiver. The few moments of penning your thoughts gains lasting impact to those that receive them. Penned notes written by hand are not only filled with sentiments and purpose, but may be read more than once. I often add these special notes received to the refrigerator or my inspiration board. Not only the thoughtfulness that went into writing them, but the beautiful stationary that the words were penned on have meaning. Appreciating the thoughtfulness, admiring the beautiful, unique stationary and reflecting on the purpose of the card…. Lifes small details which bring joy. Elegance in appreciation.
The most typical hand written note is the “Thank you” note. It is perhaps more common to pen our thanks after gifts are received. It is almost expected. But what about acknowledging a special act of kindness towards you or simply letting a friend know that you appreciate them? As the handwritten note is an important part of the Art of Etiquette, failing to say “Thank You” to a host that provided you an enjoyable experience is perhaps the greatest failure as a guest. When you consider the time the host took in planning and preparing the event, it should be clear that a hand crafted note is in order. In regards to the technology aspect of writing “Thank You”, I do not believe that a “Facebook” message or an email version of a thank you is the most gracious way to relay your gratitude. I suppose it is better than nothing, however. Alas, in defense and in praise of The Handwritten Note, there is no replacement. In addition, writing the note in a timely manner is also important. However, better late than never is good philosophy to follow!
I thoroughly enjoy perusing beautiful stationary stores. I am always looking for that perfect, inspiring box of note cards. (A few of my favorite brands are pictured above). Variety! Finding cards that represent my style and taste not only sends my words to the receiver, but becomes an expression of me. There are beautiful note cards, flat panel cards and stationary to choose from. In addition, the options for personalizing are many. The options and choices are yours! The key is to make it a goal to take the time and commit to crafting personal correspondence.
The New Year is still fresh. Begin the new year following this timeless art. By the way, it is never too late to send a note that should have gone out over the Holidays….
Again, better late than never!