Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I love my via—it’s so charming, a little bit of Italy or the South of France, and with such nice stores.


A really wonderful boutique with pretty, affordable and fresh resort clothing and accessories.  Come on in, sit down and enjoy spending time with Allie or Jack,

while they show you their tunics and djellabas in all kinds of bright colours and soft, breezy fabrics.


Great semi-costume, semi-precious jewelry in a building listed, as is all of the Via, on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

A wonderful Christmas present this year are these dangle earrings of gold plate over sterling silver.
Geometric Dangle Earrings

She also has tres chic wraps and tunics.  Palm Beach is a tunic town—white pants, a tunic, sandals, and you’re off!


Wander upstairs over the Eastern courtyard of the Via to get to Tomas Maier and see their collection of gently used and new books about Money, Cire Trudon candles, cashmere sweaters and mens’ bedroom slippers. 

The manager is Jenny who is such a nice,nice girl, friendly and full of help.


Again, wonderful costume jewelry, and, as an added inducement, they stay open late, so if, while you’re wandering on your
nightly perambulations, you suddenly have a need for something for somebody, or, even better, yourself, here is the place to
go.  Really cute tunics too.



Globe-trotting Gretchen has a quirky and mysterious shop filled with souvenirs of her travels and a large selection of books, mainly
wonderful cookbooks, travel and decoration subjects, cookies for the seasons, and at Christmas, a huge pot of faux pearly necklaces which you can wear singly or in masses or even use them to tie up a present.


Fit, quality and classic modern styling are the hallmarks of Diane's clothing collection. Her brand encompasses the true "Town and Country" look. You can find great business attire as well as resort wear from New York and European designers.


This tiny little shop has quite an extensive selection of fine estate and contemporary jewelry. You can find one-of-a-kind pieces there or you can have an exclusive design created for you.


Tucked in the corner of the courtyard that houses Tomas Maier and C.J. Laing, is the famed Vilebrequin shop. Here you will find colorful and original swim shorts inspired by the Saint Tropez lifestyle of the 1970's. This fun shop also carries Resort Wear and accessories to make your day at the beach C'est Magnifique !


This little corner space houses a large collection of perfumes, lotions and home fragrances. While you are waiting for dinner, pop in and sample a few whiffs.


You will find simply adorable tunics, fun dresses, great costume jewelry and fabulous, fun purses at Lynn's shop. Don't forget to check for bargains and hidden treasures upstairs !


Well, I bet you were wondering when I would get to this little jewel of a shop. Actually, our shop is quite large and our selection varied. We gather a unique, refined and cultured collection of home interior products and children's clothing from wonderful places like Venice and Florence in Italy, Paris, London and Madiera. Our shelves are filled with the finest bedlinens, the jolliest china and the most illuminating lamps and candles. Come and treat yourself to a stroll around our shop and pick up some D. Porthault Bedlinens, some Mrs. John L. Strong stationery, a box of Santa Maria Novella potpourri........well, you get the picture ! If we don't carry what your little heart desires, we will do our best to find or make it for you. We love to see you smile !

Hope you come visit us all soon'll be so glad you did !


Sunday, November 9, 2014


The wonderful people from Soane in London came to see us two weeks ago.  I love Soane.  They have such beautiful things.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve used the Petal Wall Light.

As usual, I found so many good things for jobs on which I am working.  Just as they were leaving, they mentioned to me that they were taking a week in Barbados before going back to England.  I love, love, love Barbados. 

 I used to go there to stay with a wonderful couple (Mr. and Mrs. Miles Warner whom I called Madame Queen and The Kingpin—believe me, their names fit!!!) and their beautiful daughter, Jane, and her equally beautiful Norwegian husband, Axel.  We stayed in a fabulous house they had built called “Jane’s Harbor”.  It was an Oliver Messel house, and it had a wonderful, mysterious, almost shabby quality, with old faded slipcovers and vines creeping into the always open-to-the-air rooms, and lots of little lizards scampering around.  Oh, I loved it.  The house was built in a giant Square C around a lovely garden with roses and petrea hanging from the stone arches.  All of our meals were served in the long, also open-to-the-air dining room with white garden furniture and bouganvilla blossoms scattered on the table tops along with all the beautiful old porcelain plates and crystal glasses—masses of them for all the wines we drank!—and lovely old burnished silver. We played tennis on the court that Miles had built, sat on the wonderful Sandy Lane beaches (Jane’s Harbor was built on land, some of which was sold to make the Sandy Lane Hotel), and stayed up and talked late into the night because we knew we could sleep-in the next day. 

Sadly, the house has changed hands, and today you can go stay in it for $7,500. a night, and I suppose it s very nice, but the mysterious charm is gone.  Like so much of what is done to suit the New World Travelers, charm leaves to usher in very clean, stark rooms with oversized new rattan and bedrooms where you better take lots of your own photographs and accessories to make it look a little more “inhabited”.  It doesn’t look anything like Oliver Messel anymore and there is a huge pool in the middle of the old garden surrounded by hideous dark chaises and umbrellas.  Oh my!  Oh my!

During the day, Madame Queen and I would go visiting.  We went to Heron Bay...

The home of Sir Ronald Tree and my (far-removed) cousin, Nancy Lancaster ,which was not an Oliver Messel house, but rather was designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellico, but which has so many of the wonderful, casual but unbelievably dressy details that went with life in the resort homes of the 60’s and 70’s and early 80’s.  The interior below shows what the rooms were like—all over Barbados—you will notice a certain almost cluttered look of smaller furniture and white slipcovers mixed all in with wonderful antiques and bibilots. 

We went to Fustic House, now, sadly, redecorated (although nicely), but still with the Oliver Messel details of woodwork in Messel Green, a lavish use of coral stone, open air doorways and windows and tropical flowers and foliage everywhere.

One of the things Oliver Messel did was to have winding verandas and little not-quite-secret spaces.

We went to Maddux House—Madame Queen knew everyone—one of the great coral stone houses with classical proportions and glorious tall rooms and creeping-in tropical foliage everywhere.


Oliver Messel was obviously a genius, as is his nephew, Thomas Messel, whose furniture and lighting fixtures are perfect in these Palladian influenced buildings—or your own Palladian villa—as in this sea life chandeliere which we used in a classical house on the ocean.

And you can see the fine sense of symmetry and attention to detail, surely inherited from his uncle, in this lac de chine console/cupboard made for a client’s collection of English porcelain.

The wonderful people from Soane, Lulu Lytle and her six-year old son, sent pictures back to me from Barbados.  In the first, you can see that “old” quality in this romantic arrangement against a coral stone wall, and in the second, just revel in the natural beauty of this loveliest of Caribbean isles.

There are several companies in America who either represent or produce Oliver Messel “products”.  You could use Farrow and Ball “Breakfast Room Green” for you trim colour on trelliage and railings.  It looks a little yellow-y in my computer, but it is not.

You could use Price Glover in New York City to make you wonderful brass chandeliere such as Oliver Messel loved.

 You could even use the beautiful, beautiful Veranda  lamps from Soane.

And you could get some of Bennison’s “faded” linens—make sure you specify that they are to be the faded version.  Good choices might be “petite fleur” or “Liliana” in the faded versions.  You will need to go to one of their showrooms to see them, because all of the images on the web are in the non-faded version, but you definitely will feel that the trip was worth your while.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Talley Ho, Ho, Ho... the perfect Christmas presents !

Many, many years ago we found this charming little company that made all the beautiful satin lingerie bags that our mothers (and we) used. This company, Galante Studios, was located in a little Kentucky town and employed many of the local women to apply their very talented sewing skills to the creation of these bags. As time went by, more items were added to their repertoire, until they had an entire book of cosmetic bags, travel bags, organizers, baby bibs, quilts etc.

Sadly, about 7 years ago, the factory burned to the ground. We were all devastated, not only for the workers who lost their livelihood, but for ourselves at the loss of a time-honored tradition. Happily, a Phoenix rose from the ashes (I know, I'm getting a bit nutty with the comparison) and Talley Ho was born. A new factory opened and hired all the ex-employees of Galante ! Slowly, they have been reintroducing all the products that were offered by Galante for years.

Some of the best items they make (other than the beautiful lingerie bags) are Trinket Trays. These little collapsible and thus packable trays can be vinyl covered to make them virtually impervious to dirt. They are perfect to keep next to your bed for earrings, watch, eyeglasses etc. This is a must when traveling to prevent knocking your pearls on the floor or leaving your gorgeous Van Cleef and Arpel necklace behind in your hotel room because it blended in with the nightstand wood......Not that I would know anything about that.....Sob :(

The best part of ordering from Talley Ho, is that you can create one-of-a-kind fabric combinations for all their items. We have an absolutely fabulous ring of fabric swatches for you to choose from....both for the main fabric and for the trim and monogram.

Well, my goodness, I forgot to mention that all these treats can be monogrammed ! The wait for a custom order is about 5 weeks, so you'll have to plan accordingly if you are thinking of buying for a present.  As a matter of fact, the cut-off date for ordering for Christmas presents is November 11th, so don't delay !

If you are like me and wait until the last minute, please don't despair. We have ordered lots of adorable items (no monogram of course) ready to wrap and roll ! This year we sent some of our own fabrics from China Seas, Sister Parish and Liberty of London and had special travel collections made for you. So cute and so unique !!

Like to see the full collection, but can't make it in to the shop ? Just email Betty ( and she will email you pictures of what is in stock in the Boutique.
She will be happy to gift wrap and ship for you too. 


Saturday, October 18, 2014



Cousin Arlene's Spaghetti Lasagna Photo

This is only as good as the pasta , the tomato sauce, and the cheese you use, so go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or Fresh Market.

Cook a box of good pasta—my favourite is spaghetti (and you could use Del Verde or Cipriani if you really care). 

While it is cooking, put a jar of Paul Newman’s “Sockarooni” in a largish pot and add good extra virgin olive oil—about a quarter of a cup to each jar and one jar to each box of pasta.  Also add about a half cup of water, 1 carrot –young—diced fine, organic grape or cherry tomatoes, and some fresh thyme and black pepper.  I love pepper, so I add a lot.  Because it is good for you to eat each day, add turmeric.  You will not know that you have done this, but eating turmeric and cinnamon and black pepper is very good for you.  It also “deepens” the flavor of the sauce.  Cook over medium while pasta is cooking.

Now slice a nice sized fresh mozzarella into ¼” or so thick slices.

Drain pasta, always saving a little of the water.  Put a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, add a layer of the fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves on top of the cheese, and a layer of the hot pasta on top.  Continue like this until all pasta, cheese, and leaves are in dish, topping with a layer of the sauce.  Grate fresh Parmigiana over the top and put in hot oven til top cheese melts and browns.

Serve with salad and bread.


Twice-Baked Potatoes

Using large baking potatoes, bake them in the oven until totally done.  You already know this, I am sure, but if you put a skewer through the potato, it will not only cook faster, but will be fluffier.  (This is important, if you make your mashed potatoes from riced baked potatoes).  After baking, cut the potatoes in half, scoop out the potato meat, and put the shells in an oiled baking dish—they can touch, and, in fact, this helps keep them upright).

Mash the potatoes, adding (for every two large potatoes) 1/3 container of Chavrie goat cheese—original—you can use a half container and it will be yummier, but a little harder to handle;  if that would be too rich for you, you can substitute ½ of milk and 1/3 container of Chavrie), 2 cups of chopped, washed spinach, 1 cup of corn cut off the cob (you can use frozen corn for this), 1 chopped fine good large tomatoes, salt and pepper.  

Put mixture back in potato shells and bake 10 minutes or so in a hot 350 degree oven
Garnish with more fresh basil and a fresh grape or cherry tomato each.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


I have written about Donald Kaufman before in this blog, but this year was the tenth year here in our house up on top of the Whalesback Mountain, and this morning, in moving around planning things to close the house up for the winter, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful, how new-like even while being soft and always-there looking, the paint is.  It’s a combination, of course, between one of the world’s best painters, James Garza of West Palm Beach, Florida, who came up with his team of four people and painted (and camped out in the as of yet undone guest house, cooking their own meals (Big Russ was the cook) and doing their own laundry, and painting, painting, painting.

That was more of a project than you can imagine since the entire house was paneled in pine which was such an ugly shade of brown that I initially thought it was Formica wall-covering.  This is such a wonderful floor plan of a house that there are not so many rooms, but each one is, quite frankly, huge—16 feet to the ceiling in many of them, usually at least 30 feet in one direction, and everywhere, as I said—brown, brown, BROWN.  Also, we replaced 39 small casement windows with large double-hung windows almost to the floor or sets of French doors.  Everywhere was to be light and airy with the sun shining in, even if obliquely, and the air blowing through.  Thank you, James Garza.  They did it in two and a half months.

All of this house was done in two colours, DK45, the softest of soft greens—go to Donald Kaufman’s site and go to the colours and run your mouse (your slider according to the site) over the colours and their identifying numbers will appear on the bottom right hand corner of your screen.  You will see this beautiful soft, soft green.  Now, this is important, very important.  Donald Kaufman paints, as any good paints such as Farrow and Ball, etc., must be used with their own primers.  The colours start in the primer and continue outward, and the primer coat of paint is just as important as the final coat for two reasons: the intensity of the desired colour, the veritas, so to speak, and the coverability which is primo in the prime.  I have never understood people who try to go cheap here—you will not achieve what you want, if you don’t follow the steps correctly.  Well, for that matter, I won’t buy cheap paints—it’s not worth the labour that goes into the final job, and anyway, what are we talking here?  $50 a gallon, and you’re going to use 5 gallons total.  So your savings was $250.  Big Whoop!  A lot of work and a half-way job.  But, of course, I won’t use a cheap painter.

Anyway, here are some very bad pictures taken by me of the bedroom here in the house—the DKC45 juxtaposed against the soft white of a Chelsea Editions embroidered fabric used to upholster the panels on the walls.


The rest of the main rooms were painted in DKC38, the most beautiful white paint.  It is warm and cool at the same time—how I don’t know, but it is.  The Living Room with its soaring ceiling is just as welcoming as one of the smaller rooms such as the entrance hall—it’s simply a wonderful, wonderful colour.

But as I said at the top of this post, what is really wonderful about this paint is its lasting quality.  Here I am, ten years later, and it’s as though I were in a new house.  I admit we are somewhat careful, but this house serves as home to my husband and me and myriad family members with their children and tons of house guests, so it’s not as though it’s a museum.

I have been fortunate enough to work with Donald Kaufman as a colorist on a job, but that is a true luxury.  Although you might not be able to do that, you can use his beautiful paints in your beautiful house.