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 (betty@lafinpb.com) 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. 

XOXOXO
LETA



Saturday, October 18, 2014


TWO EASY AND GREAT VEGETARIAN RECIPES



AN EASY AND GOOD, GOOD ONE DISH SUPPER


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.


A GOOD ONE DISH SUPPER WHICH IS NOT PASTA


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

 DONALD KAUFMAN

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.

XOXOXO LETA


Monday, September 29, 2014

Halloweeeeeeeeeeeeeen !!   and Turkey Day, too.....

Here we are again, at the cusp of another All Hallow's Eve. We have some spooky things in store for you if you dare to venture out of your air-conditioned home and into the not-so-crisp, cool fall weather.
We have some wonderful little companies that create all those special holiday knick-knacks that will make all your little pumpkins (and big pumpkins, too) smile.
You have just got to send Halloween cards to all your friends this year ! What is more fun than receiving a card with a Boo cat or cackling witch?




Have a Halloween party and send your invitations on classic Pumpkin note cards from The Printery (of Oyster Bay,of course). Don't forget to repeat your theme by using their Pumpkin placecards at your table. Both Pumpkin-themed items can be used for Thanksgiving as well. If you invite the same guests, you can even re-use the placecards....we won't tell !!



 Once you've got all the gals and ghouls at your perfectly appointed table, you'll need to wow them with a special treat. What could be cuter than a large, delicious favor cookie from Eleni's. We are happy to order as many cats, pumpkins or witches as you need (and a few extra for those late night munchies).



If you really don't want that sugar overload, we always have Surprise Balls for every
occasion. They are also a great "treat" for your tricksters......and without any calories.
For Halloween we will be importing from the great state of Oregon, fabulous Jack-O-Lantern Surprise Balls from Tops Malibu. Again, if you are hosting a soiree, let us know how many you need and we will make sure that you have enough.

Tops Malibu will be sending us Thanksgiving Surprise Balls as well. We'll have the traditional round 4" balls with gilded paper turkeys made in Germany, as well as cute new cracker-shaped surprise balls that stay where you put them (no rolling off the table and across the room as balls are want to do). I'm told that they are not actually "crackers"......so no POP, but all the same goodies that are in the balls are found inside these as well.



Deluxe Thanksgiving Cracker Surprize Ball - Click Image to Close





We will have proper crackers for Thanksgiving as well, so don't despair if you crave that little bit of excitement before your Turkey dinner sends you into a tryptophan-incuced coma. Our crackers this year look like adorable Pilgrims.....very appropriate for Turkey Day !




And what better cookie to serve with a pilgrim cracker on the table ????? Why yes, an adorable sugar-iced Turkey......yum !




So don't delay.....call Betty or Patti (561.655.7367) with your Halloween or Thanksgiving order today, or email if it is easier (betty@lafinpb.com), before all the turkeys have flown the coop !!


XOXOXOX
LETA


Tuesday, September 16, 2014


THAT OLD THREAD COUNT ISSUE AGAIN

I am not saying that I am the last word on linens, but I do know sheets.  And it gets me so riled when people prattle on about the high thread count (sometimes reaching a thousand!!!) of the sheets they have found—usually on the web.

Thread count is a factor in sheets silkiness—but only a partial one.  The important detail is that the cotton be what is known as Egyptian cotton—usually grown in Italy.  For the most part, America does not grow Egyptian cotton, although it does have small outputs of its cousin, Pima cotton.  Not much, though.  We seem to have thrown away our fine cotton growing.  So what differentiates Egyptian cotton from regular cotton—the length of its filament making up the thread.  Egyptian cotton, with its extra long filament (over 1 ½” each) spins into a finer thread which can then be woven into a soft silky fabric.  At that time, thread count becomes important—obviously, a thread count of 450 Egyptian threads will be less smooth and silky that one of 750 Egyptian threads, because getting those threads closer together (which happens when there are more of them) makes a smoother and stronger material—but notice, those are both Egyptian.  Most of the thread-count sheets of 1000 or so are of Chinese cotton, which is very short staple, and as such, will “pill” (get tiny pills of the shorter filaments breaking away from the main thread and wadding up) and thus become both weaker and less smooth.



"Meandres" bed linens from Noël of Paris - their smooth Egyptian
cotton makes, as well as a wonderful night's sleep, a perfect
fabric on which to embroider, as the closeness of the threads
keeps the needle holes from forming.


The bed linens from Noël (shown above) or Lin de Château are both made in Paris and are the ultimate in luxury, but you can find wonderful Egyptian cotton bed linens at a lower budget range from many Italian companies such as Baroni or Ricamart.



"Lerici" by Ricamart



or even American companies—although the goods will be from Italy—such as Matouk or Sferra.



"Sweet William" by Sferra Bros.


"Providence" bed linens by Matouk



Pima cotton, which used to be produced in great quantities in the United States, before our companies decided to do everything overseas, is still produced, although only those items with the label “su-pima” can be guaranteed to be all pima cotton.  It is used now more for a lower end of the luxury trade, and its thread count is usually around 200.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it—it is still an extra long staple cotton, but to compare it to the luxury linens coming out of Portugal, Italy, or France is definitely to compare apples with oranges. 

It makes me sad to think that when I was first married—back in the dawn of time in 1961—young brides made trousseaus of Wamsutta Supercale with scalloped borders at the sheet and pillowcase hemlines, and if we were very flush, monograms to match the borders.  Ah, well, c’est la vie, and it passes, and far too quickly.



"Geranium" by Noël of Paris




XOXOX  LETA