Monday, November 28, 2011

Party, Interrupted

Shhhh. Don't let them know we see them.

Children's dinner parties are much more fun if they think they're alone. The secret to good behavior? Treat them as honored guests and they will usually rise to the occasion.

This past Saturday night, the stage was set for their arrival. Golden light and flowers were corralled into action.

It was a six o'clock seating. There was a spirited exchange about who got to sit on the horseshoe bench, but it was soon settled with diplomatic aplomb.

The decision about background music was unanimous.

A few photos were snapped for posterity and then The First Evening Assembly of Eating and Drinking for Mostly Nine Year-Olds and One Twelve Year-Old was officially underway. Due to diverse food preferences and the fact that the adult seating was at seven, a meal of unparalleled simplicity had been decided on.

As for the adults? Oh, we were squeezed into the kitchen, seven of us sitting cheek to jowl around a small table of appetizers.

We had just congratulated ourselves on how wonderful it is that our children are at an age where we can actually relax when a face appeared at the door. It was my son.

Me: Yes?
Him: We're done.
Me: You're done already?

(It's my fault. I had stupidly forgotten my own cardinal rule for kids food at dinner parties: Serve food that takes a long time to eat. Spaghetti can be slurp-inhaled in no time. Plus, there really should have been a vegetable.)

I told them to sit down and talk to each other. This proved to be of limited value. A couple of minutes were occupied in a technical discussion about Lego minifigures and then curiosity over what was for dessert led to more faces at the door.

Fortunately, a wise and beautiful girl gave us a ten minute continuance by giving the boys a detailed analysis of exactly how much homework they could expect in sixth grade.

Reaction to her news was varied.

The solution to no more interruptions? A change of scenery. A tablecloth, hastily thrown upon the cowhide in the living room, was announced as the exciting new venue for an imminent brownies and peppermint ice cream picnic. Cross-legged on the floor, knees and elbows touching, heads huddled together, they chattered away.

And as we settled in around the dining table, so did we.

Happy post-Thanksgiving everyone. The season is upon us.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Primary Passion

Red (warmth), yellow (energy) and blue (strength).
Does seeing these colors together get your blood going like mine does?

(Luke Irwin rug, "Ikat 4." HERE.)

Here's Duncan Grant breakfasting in his dining room at Charleston House. Can't you see yourself sitting opposite him, your head filled with all sorts of brilliant ideas?
(Courtesy of Hibernian Homme.)

Yes, Eliza. I'm in. I will cook whatever you tell me to, even if it's your (gulp) Cornish eels in brown caper sauce or your shrimp toast á la reine.
(Jacket design by Coralie Bickford-Smith. HERE.)

Hello, pretty mirror. I would imagine that everything reflected in you looks cheerful and lively, even a countenance that had a few too many Brandy Alexanders the night before.
(World of Interiors, March 2007.)

A friend of mine sent me this photo of these new Martin Margiela boots and I don't need to own them to dream about them. Aren't they so 21st century Mary Poppins?
(source unknown)

This is an oldie but a goodie: Drew Barrymore's Flower Films office as decorated by designer Ruthie Summers.
(via Domino Magazine.)

Tina Barney made this woman in red and blue the focus of her composition. The yellow items on the table complete the "warmth-energy-strength" triumvirate.
("Thanksgiving, 1992." Photograph by Tina Barney.)

Primary colors can work in a bedroom too. Peter Dunham adds a lavender sofa and Indian printed fabrics to create a haven of tranquility.
(via Domino magazine)

You'll never guess what this is -- the tunic of a Sherwood Forester from the 17th century. Is that not crazy? It's made of green and red facecloth trimmed with silver braid which has taken on a gold patina. Christopher Gibbs, bon vivant, antiques dealer and best friends with the Rolling Stones, sold it at a Christies auction a few years back.

(Details HERE.)

Last but not least, I was inspired to stitch a view of the room in my house that always lifts my spirits.
("Study for Living Room", 2011, by LBG. Thread, canvas, fine point Sharpies.)

What are your big three?

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's The Good of a Home If You Are Never In It?*

(*Said first by Walter Weedon Grossmith, co-author of one of the funniest books ever, "Diary of a Nobody", published in 1892 and never out of print since.)

None of us left the house yesterday.
There was entirely too much to do.

Project One:
At the top of the list was the home fire that needed to be kept burning. (According to convention, once the temperature drops into the 50's everyone in Hollywood is allowed to don blizzard-appropriate clothing with a completely straight face and pretend that without a roaring fire, their chilblains would set in. It's one of the perks of living in a city built on dreams.)

Project Two:
Inspired by this book he's reading... husband decided to make a stew based on the ingredients available to his ancestors in ancient Rome, circa 175 A.D. "Think of it as culinary time travel," he said. "It's going to be like going to the Forum for Sunday lunch."

I'm calling it "Trajan's Stew" and it was pretty insanely delicious. He didn't use a recipe, so I'm not much help on the play-by-play, but I can tell you the main ingredients were farro, cod, chickpeas, onions, garlic, olive oil and butternut squash.

Project Three:
While my husband was immersed in recreating the Republic, I was one room and eighteen centuries away. With this soundtrack playing in the background...

...I occupied myself with traditional domestic pursuits like wrapping this chandelier cord with a silk dupioni scarf...

...and adding the final touches to this four foot by two foot embroidery piece.
(Details: Canvas, thread, leather. Just purchased by Soho House West Hollywood. No, not kidding. Yes, pinching myself.)

And the child? Oh, he was in the midst of a fierce Beyblade championship.
(What's a Beyblade, you ask? Basically a spinning top with a rip cord. FYI, nine year olds will pretty much forego food, water and sleep to play with them. Best part for parents? It's not a video game.)

Project Four:
I went outside and clipped some flowering branches for the dining room.

Love that little white flower. I have no idea what it's called, but I'm sure you clever people do.

Project Five:
Our cat carried in a huge black beetle with bristly legs and dropped it underneath this bench. It took every last ounce of nerve I had to pick it up and return it to the wild.

Hey, Twiglet. Don't worry about it. In the words of Groucho Marx, "Home is where you hang your head."

Project Six:
After lighting this candle and listening to my son rave about it ("It smells sooo good, Mom!")...

...I felt guilty and decided to give him something he could actually sink his teeth into.
(Do not be impressed. It's Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread mix and it takes about one minute to get into the oven. And talk about delicious. Even my husband the food purist likes it.)

That's about it. The sun went down extra early and we wasted no time in putting on our dressing gowns. Only one thing remained on my list.

Project Seven:
Writing what you just finished reading.

Did you have a good weekend?



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