Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Chalkboards and Confessions

Chalkboards have been around for quite some time now. 
We have a chalk board painted wall for ages, and I never tire of it. 
And we have a couple of chalkboards at home that I'm going to show you.
But they just got their seal of aproval and avant-guardedeness by the one and only Oprah.
 A lovely entirely hand-lettered cover for the February issue of O, the Oprah magazine, and inside a story all illustrated by artist Dana Tanamachi.
Take a look. 

The cover.

The Story
Read an interview with the artist at Design Sponge.


Me in 6 words

What about YOU?

love, Irene

Royal Chicken Recipes

Hello, dear friends,
I found today a recipe that I would like to share with you.
I find the story behind it very interesting and evocative of the times that the western world faces today.
It is also evocative of the mentality behind the absolute well off, 
probably more symbolically rather than in real terms,
the kings and queens.

Poulet reine Elizabeth
 as it was originally known,
 concocted for the banquet for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2,1953,
was a deliberate and tactful compromise between the luxurious and the thrifty for a country still under the dreary yoke of postwar rationing.

 Coronation Chicken was invented for the foreign guests who were to be entertained after the Coronation. The food had to be prepared in advance, and Constance Spry, who also helped with floral arrangements on the day, proposed a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, green peas and mixed herbs. Constance Spry's recipe won the approval of the Minister of Works and has since been known as Coronation Chicken.


For the sauce
To serve
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
  • rice, cooked according to packet instructions

Preparation method

  1. Place the chicken into a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, cover with water and add the spring onions, garlic, salt and peppercorns.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes, turning the chicken once during the cooking process. Cover with a lid and switch off the heat. Leave for one hour, then remove the chicken, allow to cool completely, and tear the chicken from the bones into rough pieces.
  3. Meanwhile, for the sauce, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 3-4 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook for a further two minutes, stirring well. Add the tomato purée, wine, water and bay leaf.
  4. Bring the mixture to the boil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the sugar, lemon slices and lemon juice, to taste. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine meshed sieve and set aside to cool.
  5. Gradually fold in the mayonnaise and apricot purée, to taste. Add more lemon juice, as necessary.
  6. Fold in the whipped cream.
  7. To serve, arrange the portioned chicken on a large platter, pour the sauce over the top, sprinkle with the coriander and serve immediately, with rice.

For the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002, another version was made, with a more tangy sauce.


Preparation time: 20 min, plus 2-3 hours marinating.
Cooking time: 25 min. Serves: 4.

4 chicken breast fillets, about 18 oz (500g) in total
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp olive oil
Bunch flat leaf parsley
1 lime quartered

For marinade:Half lime, juiced and zest grated
3cm fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove crushed garlic
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
For dressing:3fl oz (100ml) creme fraiche
6 tbsp mayonnaise
Half lime, juice and zest grated
2in (5cm) piece fresh root ginger


Mix the marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish. Add the chicken and turn to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. 

To make dressing, place creme fraiche, mayonnaise, lime juice and zest in a bowl. Peel and grate the ginger, then twist in a piece of muslin, or press through a sieve to extract the juice. Add 2 tsp of the juice to the dressing. Stir, cover and chill to allow the flavours to develop.

Scrape marinade from the chicken and pat dry with kitchen paper. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle over olive oil.

Roast in oven (pre-heated to 190 degrees Celsius / 375 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas Mark 5) for 25 minutes, baste occasionally until the chicken is cooked through. Leave to cool completely, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

Combine the chicken and dressing, adjust the seasoning, and refrigerate. Serve with a pasta salad, lime quarters and chopped flat leaf parsley.

If you wish to recreate the banquet held at Buckingham Palace after the Coronation in 1953, you may be interested in the menu:
Consommé Royale
(Chicken consommé garnished with cubes of royale)

Filet de Boeuf Mascotte
(Fillet of beef garnished with quarters of artichoke bottom tossed in butter with cocotte potatoes and slices of truffle)


Glace à la Mangue
(Mango ice cream) 

Thus, dear frineds, we may be inspired for a royal banquet.
God bless us all!


love, Irene 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cath Kidston Cafe

I love Cath Kidston.
I fall in love with patterns and colours from time to time
and you may have noticed my choices often move from classic to english rose to modern.
But that is who I am.
I may not be totally perfect, but parts of me are excellent
as the saying goes!

when it comes to overall perfection
Cath Kidston stands out, up there in my personal kolophon of favorites, 
right next to Lilly Pulitzer.
It took me ages to embrace the colourful side of me, but it's OK, girls, as long as we get to know and embrace who we are.

Which brings me to my subject.
The Café opened at the Cath Kidston store in Japan.

See the wallpaper? The red chair and cups?
And the bags? I love Cath Kidston bags.
Remember the one I got as a birthday present?

Then we move to stationery.
Look at the shades, the vintage typewriter, the kitch paintings, all setting the mood.
Remember. If I get lost somewhere one day,
I shall either be in the stationery or the bags section.
Otherwise, try Cartier!

Now, let's take our tea and cupcakes under the red and white striped umbrellas.
We might as well be in Brighton or Folkestone!

I wonder what these young ladies think.
"Yummy English Experience" is what comes to mind!

All images-Cath Kidston

Did you notice the open drawer unit where stationery is being displayed?
Looks so much like C's childhood chest of drawers.
Got to love those stylists!
love, Irene

Friday, 27 January 2012

Fashion Fridays-Three (plus one) bags for Spring

~A classic 
~Good size for day and afternoon
~I love the messenger style option.
~So stylish!
~I love the blush~perfect for my itching for Springtime!


~Blue bag (and blue loafers) imply Spring in my fashion agenda.
~Soft, grainy leather
~Classic style

the shop and the blog
are two favorite destinations of mine.
I have long loved Clare Vivier's Messenger bag. 
Last time I checked I found they have come up with 
that is lovingly described on the site.
French language is so poetic! 
I love reading the Cote Sud editorials aloud,
just to give you a hint of how much I love French.
 That bag kind of reminded me of something,
a bag in my own closet

 A gift with purchase from Donna Karan, some years ago!

I am completely fashionable chères amies!

love, Irene

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

On Sleep and Beds

I am in the sleep business. 
Sleepy business? I heard you say. 
Oh all right! Pun intended! 
What I meant to start with, is that we sell beds. 
(Oh look how little my kids were!)
And matresses. And pillows. Bedlinen and the like

 I also used to sell Designers Guild, Ralph Lauren and Jane Churchill fabrics and wallpapers. 
But that was in the pre-Greek/Euro-economic-crisis days. 
 Which brings in mind. I have stacks of unused (ha!) fabric, fabrics and wallpapers sample books and so on. Do you think any of you dear readers, might be interested if I listed them at the shop? I haven't updated it for quite some time and am wondering if anyone might be interested. 
Let me know, I'll see what I can do with them. 

 OK, back to the subject. I do know one or two or three things about good sleep, our super company training us vigorously and us being in the business for the past fifteen years. So, take it from this authority, that the  article I found today, is on the spot. It's not about matresses or product selling, but about the essence of comfort in our very own cozy little beds. 

A taste

Can you remember back to when you had babies to care for and how careful you were with their bedding? You'd make sure the sheets were clean and straight, you'd make the little bed several times a day and as soon as there was a wet sheet, into the washing machine it would go.  You did those things, and more, because you knew how important that bed was to your baby.  Well, I might be reverting to babyhood because I tend my bed as carefully as I would a cot or crib and I do it because sleep is important.  Now let me declare my bias here up front.  I LOVE my bed, always have, always will.  I am a good sleeper.  I'm rarely in bed more than ten minutes before I'm sound asleep.  But I also do a lot of my thinking in bed in the cool dark hours of the morning and being in an uncomfortable bed would not be conducive to my sleeping or thinking.  If I want to get the most out of every day, I need to sleep well.
Simple clean cotton sheets and a homemade quilt can nurture the soul as well as aching bones and a stressed mind.  Allow your bed to do what it's there for - to keep you warm, safe and secure until you wake.  When you think about it, sleep is a strange concept.  We go about our every day activities and once a day, we get tired, lay down flat and lose consciousness.  Weird!  No one knows why we do that, but all animals, birds and reptiles do. 
All that time (...) that you spend in bed sets you up for your active life by allowing you to relax into sleep, to dream and to wake refreshed and ready for the busy day.  Those three minutes are a sound investment.

Read the full article and more at Down to Earth. And an equally lovely article in Women's Weekly right here.

Have a lovely day and a refreshing night ;)

love, Irene 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Le weekend

1. a pastitsio made to order that was so good I didn't get a shot ;) 
2. a vasilopita in my kids' Scout unit. seeing them grow enjoying life and scouting's valuable lessons.
3. web surfing on a saturday night. no purpose, just strolling from link to link, like the good ole times. 
4.going to church and filling our hearts with faith and hope to sustain our lives during the week. 
5.my son saying the credo
6. watching the Dancing on ice finals and smiling at the lovely people involved.
7.storing Christmas tree decorations. OK, Christmas, come back soon!

How many days till Christmas?

We are counting!

8. A new week starting with friends old and new, blogging friends that i cherish and a place to come and connect. Thank you all and enjoy the week.

love, Irene

Friday, 20 January 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} 
inspired by Soulemama
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

love, Irene

A bookshelf named Love

Love Letter Shelves by the Spaniard Ricard Mollon! 
Modern enough,vintage enough to my tastes, plus they compliment a map wall 
and you know I love maps in decoration.
The letters are sold individually so that one can create the word of his/her choice. 
Available at Quattria.

a prelude to February and le Saint Valentin!

love, Irene

Friday, 13 January 2012

Mario Buatta: A man after my decorating heart

Mario Buatta

"To be a good decorator, you have to be three things: an actor (you have to pretend you like the person, their house and their things!), a psychiatrist (you have to figure out what the client wants) and a lawyer (to collect your money)!"

This phrase from an interview Mr. Boatta gave to AD started me on this post. 
It is so true and realistic, it reflects someone who's been in the business and who is confident enough and honest enough to distill his experience in a phrase. 

 That made me admire the person who is dearly known as the Prince of Chintz, 
but is to me the Prince of professional decorating. 
If a person is true to himself and his ideas, then he is true to his work. 

I grew up in a maximalist home of velvet curtains and upholstery and armchairs covered in chintz.
I shaped my aethetics in the flowery South of England.

I work for a company with natural, contemporary aesthetics.
I had a long affair with Designers Guild.

Life shows me that I'm growing into a modern maximalist,
an archaeologist, universitarian and gardener by DNA, 
and I am embracing the person that I am,
a work in progress.

As I am looking into who I am growing to be, in this start of the year, I find this serendipitus insight resonating to my heart and mind.

Some of Mario Buatta's decorating maxims:

“The best time to look at a room is the day after you’ve had a party because you see the way people used the space.”
Every room should be a different color. Each space should have its own mood.
Three perfect colors are lemon-yellow, leaf-green, and Prussian-blue.
These color combinations always work.
 For a living room: 
yellow walls, a pale-blue ceiling, and white woodwork. 
For a kitchen:
 off-white cabinets painted robin’s egg–blue on the inside (it makes the dishes look great) with a lemon-yellow ceiling. 
For a bedroom: 
apricot walls, a pale-blue ceiling, and off-white woodwork. 
For a library: 
red walls, squares of silver tea paper on the ceiling, and brown accents".

A few of my favorite rooms, decorated by Mr. Buatta.

I love the warm glow of this room.

I love the Brunschwig & Fils chintz with the rose and buttermilk velvet.
I like plenty of different types of sitting, too.

In this room, I can smell the warm, fragrant air bringing in the perfumes of the rose garden. 
My favorite room of all!

This is a bathroom but it could well be my home office.
Elegantly feminine.

Gracie, Mr. Buatta.

Read more on Mario Buatta's views on decoration, homes and life, as it were, 
 here, here and here

 Listen here.

love, Irene

Happy New Year

John Barman's apartment in Miami Beach via AD

Here is to a bright, cheerful, zesty,
juicy, fruitful
love, Irene

Classy Bling

Links of London USA

Best buys