is for finally ready to post. I started writing and sourcing this post last year, wanting to go live with the post on Bastille Day. Last year’s horrible terrorist attack in Nice, France on the Promenade des Anglais on Bastille Day naturally became the entire focus of our thoughts. Posting a blog post about French kitchen design was the last thing of interest or on my mind at the time; thus, a bump over to the draft file was in order. In celebration of Bastille Day, here is the out of the draft file and dusted off post.
French kitchen design speaks fluent style to legions of Francophile obsessed decoristas. Does French kitchen design speak your language? Oscar Wilde tells us imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Imitating the distinctive European elegance vis-à-vis design and decor pays a compliment to the classic French kitchen. Classic French design marries formality with rustic finesse juxtaposed against a weathered patina. Rustic refinement coupled with old-world charm personifies the characteristics of the country French kitchen.
The above image from Traditional Home is a marvelous example of country French refined. The very right of the white kitchen is in the complementing presence of provincial color, texture and pattern design greatness.
Subtle drama, a decorating oxymoron if there ever was one, engages my eye past the toile on steroids of the traditional country French kitchen to the accents in the not trying so hard to exemplify the look category.
I believe my love of the well appointed French kitchen began when I was in junior high. My best friend’s mother had impeccable taste in home furnishing and home decor accessories, and their home was and continues to be one of the premier homes in our area. The entire home was gracefully designed and decorated, but the traditional kitchen, appointed with classic French flair, was indeed the design pièce de résistance.
A delicate mix of French blues with cream white accents served as both color palette and focal point. Less is more echoed throughout the design and decor, and the style statement being made was more ethereal than overt.
All good things and great vacations come to an end. Tripping Down Memory Lane Spring Break Trip Report Part III winds down our 2008 spring break trip to Las Vegas in getting back to Vegas basics style.
Filling In The Vegas Days and Nights: Hotels, Casinos & Restaurants
Spending the afternoon at Venetian surrounded by copies of and renditions of famous Italian works and decor was the plan for our Thursday afternoon. The machines, bonus rounds and green felt covered tables will take a backseat to sightseeing and lunch at Grand Lux Cafe at Venetian.
People often comment negatively in regards to Grand Lux as a dining choice while in Las Vegas. “It’s a chain. Why in the world are you eating at a chain restaurant?”
How do we love Grand Lux Cafe? Let us deliciously count the ways:
The food is always excellent. See images above.
The menu offers a wide variety of delicious something for everyone dishes.
The dining room design and decor is lovely.
The price is right.
If it ain’t broke…
I did not break with my dining at Grand Lux tradition ordering the seafood salad and a shared order of double-stuffed potato spring rolls. Dave ordered the fish and chips and gave it 4 forks out of a possible 5 review. The casino at Venetian was packed. I played $1 Top Dollar slots with no big wins. Dave didn’t fare too well at the tables so he was in hot pursuit of a $1 Double Top Dollar slot machine to play. We both love Top Dollar and Pinball. I did not receive an ounce of respect, love or pay from the numerous Top Dollar or Pinball machines I played during this session. I now fondly refer to them as “sucker machines” and Dave now fondly refers to me as a sore loser. If it was in the cards for me to be a loser, at least the rocking band playing at La Scena (casino floor lounge that sadly is no more) was churning out some fantastic music. Win, lose or draw I like to get my boogie on. We have boogied to really fantastic lounge acts playing the casino lounges. That part of old Vegas is slowly going away too. My parents tell of the now famous singers they saw years ago in Las Vegas when the entertainers were up and coming lounge acts.
I got it together earlier than usual so we could be on our way to lunch at the Paris Le Village buffet.
I knew I would want to play before lunch and also figured the line to be seated could be rather long on a Friday afternoon. I could not squeak out a win, but left the casino floor for the buffet line even. That’s always a win in my book! The lunch at Le Village was good, but this is a buffet that shines at breakfast. Dave pointed out the French onion soup and I informed him I had worked the French onion soup enough for a while. However, the crepe station did call out to me and I answered apple with raspberries, blueberries and crème fraîche, se il vous plaît. 5 forks out of 5 very French c’est si bon forks.
I packed the room up with a cup of in-room brewed strong Louisiana coffee in hand. Traveling with a coffee pot isn’t for everyone, but we do it for two reasons. In extremely short order after my eyes pop open in the morning and my feet hit the floor or carpet I need coffee- hot, fresh and Louisiana strong. I also like to have a cup or two in the afternoons or early evening when we are relaxing in the room before dinner or a show or just regrouping. The other reason is pure economics I swear we would go broke by the third day in town feeding our coffee fix. A fellow Vegas travel nut cued me in on a coffee pot travel tip.
There are several Walgreens and CVS locations up and down the Las Vegas Strip. Pop in a pick up a coffee maker and supplies and ignore the initial sticker shock investment. It will pay for itself within the first day. If you don’t want to contend with packing it up and carting it home, simply leave it in the room. Easy peasy. It is ridiculous what hotels charge for coffee ordered from room service or in the coffee shops, and speaking of coffee shops- coffee shops are quickly becoming an extinct dining option on the Strip. I am not the biggest fan of the buffet, but for breakfast dining the beverage selection and cost included reasons this to be a reasonable option. Dave went down to visit with the host with positive results. We checked out over the television and said goodbye to Treasure Island.
Our host at the Rio met us at VIP-Diamond check in and assigned us a room in the Ipanema Tower. The room reminded me of the suites at the Stardust we loved. These rooms impress me more in terms of size and layout vs decor. Various tell-tale signs give the age of the property away, but nothing we can’t live with for five nights. We got our gambling on for about an hour, and finally I declared victory with a $$$ win on a five-line .25 3X 4X 5X machine in front of the performing stage. Cocktail service at Rio was fast and frequent. My server took my Coke order. “Is Pepsi okay?” My “not in this lifetime” answer produced a chuckle on his part. I changed my order to a Shirley Temple (I was on the hard stuff this afternoon) and returned to my play. In a flash he returns with his own version of comedy with a “You had the ice-cold Pepsi?” I spun my seat around to find him standing there holding my ST with the biggest grin on his face. We both laughed and he became my cheering section for a big win. The time clock was ticking for me to be back to the room to get ready for Cher. Time clocks can be a good thing or a very bad thing when gambling. It was a good thing this go round and the $$$ win money made it to the room.
I covered the Cher experience in a previous installment. We hit The Cheesecake Factory in The Forum Shops for our post show dinner of a shared pepperoni pizza, strawberry shortcake and two glasses of Riesling. Very tasty.
Happy Birthday, Dave! Shopping for birthday gifts and perhaps something new for both of us to wear to the birthday celebration dinner this evening is the plan, and Vegas knows shopping. Dave was a sport and kept me company while I spent the afternoon shopping at the Fashion Show Mall. Starbucks supplied our very light lunch break of shared pastry and coffees- just a quick bite of something to keep a headache at bay. Our plan for the birthday celebration evening was for a quiet and relaxing dinner at the Range Steakhouse at Harrah’s (presently Ruth’s Chris). We enjoyed dinner at The Range so much on our last trip. We were seated by the window and with James as our waiter (requested). His personality and professionalism adds to the evening. Dave started with the lobster bisque and I selected the blue cheese and fresh apple salad. For our entrees we both ordered the 12 oz. center cut pork chop and shared Yukon gold mashed potatoes. The manager knew we were celebrating Dave’s birthday and sent over the most fantastic chocolate cake with strawberries and coffee for two. The food presentation and preparation was done very well. The service and the wait staff could not have been more professional or friendly, and it all equaled a memorable birthday meal in Vegas.
We were dressed and waiting in the Rio valet at 8:15 AM Wednesday. Trust me, I am not the up and dressed and ready to greet the day while on vacation kind of girl. By the time of day and level of enthusiasm, Dave realized I was serious about this slot tournament. I grabbed the keys, gave the valet a good morning hello and it was touchdown Flamingo events area.
The tournament was open to all Total Rewards card holders so Dave put down a few $20’s and we were registered for 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, 1:00 PM, and finally 2:00 PM. Wow! That’s a lot of hope and fun packed into a late morning and early afternoon at the dirty bird, and you would think we had a snowball’s chance in the desert of winning. Goodness knows as many times as we entered we sure thought we did! We didn’t even come close to placing, but we had an absolute ball trying.
The last day in Vegas gives me a pit in my stomach no words can describe. Staying busy cures it. Gambling for this trip was officially over. I had not been able to win enough to make it accumulate over what I started with, and the wins were too far apart from each other to save me. I find it is easier to swallow if I quit without too much damage to the initial bankroll. The suggestion of In-N-Out Burger for lunch and a business mixed with pleasure venture was met with no complaints. We headed out to dine in style and visit a few design and antiques shops.
We saw parts of Vegas new to us, and I lucked up on a few items I could easily pack. We grabbed a couple of coffees, parked and watched the airplanes landing and taking off from McCarran International. I must admit after nine full days and nights in Vegas this was a nice change. We caught a couple of afternoon fountain shows at Bellagio and it was Monte Carlo time.
Dave and I discovered the Wizard of Oz penny slots complete with flying monkeys, the yellow brick road and the wizard himself. The graphics and sound effects are amazing, and Oz turned out to be a magical place. I put in a $5 voucher and cashed out with $$$ for a nice win. The beautiful Glenda appeared to me in bonus round goodness resulting in the big hit. I could become addicted to these machines with no problem. There’s no place like home and Vegas on a sunny winning afternoon.
The Friday going home wake up call came at 5:30 AM with coffee shortly after. We checked out of Rio and at the car rental return by 9:15 AM. We were through security and to Continental gate D 20 with fifty minutes to spare. I took in the final sights of the Strip from my window seat on the airplane. I settled in for the three-hour flight with good tunes, better memories and big plans for our next trip. Getting home to a full house of family and friends on Hurricane Gustav alert and all he dumped on Central Louisiana naturally put priorities where they should be. Normalcy is back in our reach and has allowed me to share with you my trip report. The overall casual tone was the right way to go for us this Vegas trip. It was easy on the schedule, expectations and the wallet. I wasted no time bringing to Dave’s attention with all the money saved this trip it would be stupid not to book another trip out to our desert oasis within the next six months. My logic has him thinking about it. Then again, my logic always has me thinking about Vegas.
We now pause our regularly scheduled posting for a couple of real life interruptions. In real life priorities fought for and won top billing over my blog life on last week’s schedule. One of the main considerations in interior design and decorating mirrors one of the main considerations in life- balance. Stuff happens in real life that takes me away from the keyboard, and stuff happens in real life that draws me to the keyboard.
My September to do list includes the yearly appointment I always keep- the mammogram. As you may already know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Why is an interior decorating, home decor, and design show and tell blog addressing breast cancer awareness? It is doing so because what better interior design is there than our own? October will be here soon enough, but why not be fashionably early by scheduling an appointment for a mammogram now. Design the day to celebrate responsibility, health, wellness, awareness, support, bravery and healing. I took it a step further with a bit of shopping thrown in for stylish measure.
Early (very early) mornings give me the chance to focus on my email inbox. An insufficient amount of caffeine and misplaced readers resulted in me opening an email that under this morning’s hurried circumstances I may have purged. Turns out opening the email from Kirkland’s was a mighty fine way to start the day. Call it home decor happenstance. As I’ve mentioned before, I live in an area of the world that is retail deficient. I’m thankful for the retailers that are located in our area, but man do I envy those of you who live in or close to a town with many retail options to shop and choose from.
Online shopping is the only option in most cases of retail pursuits. Dave the Builder and I have been discussing projected plans for a getaway. Do you know one of my considerations? The shopping. I do love me some LasVegas, but I’m retail restricted because of the “how am I going to get all of this home?” limitations. Have you shopped airline fees and shipping charges lately? Thank goodness for online shopping and retailers who offer free or heavily discounted shipping charges.
Retail luck struck during my post mammogram brick and mortar shopping spree in the form of a 65% off sale. I’m a sucker for French themed home decor… and a cow.
My fascination with cattle scenes began years ago all under this oil painting that graced the dining room at our local Piccadilly Cafeteria. If you’re interest in the story take a look at
Pair a cow with the word Bonjour in a white and French blue palette, offer it up as a home decor accent at a great price, and my interested is piqued. Now the only thing left to do is add it to the shopping cart. The Bonjour salad plates from Kirkland’s kept my mind beautifully occupied during my morning of mammography. Reasoning out and concluding a mix of pattern and color would broaden the range of use, I was thrilled to find the Sorrento serving platter and rectangular trays and Noble Excellence Ikat bowls at Dillard’s. The border of the platter and tray is reminiscent of a Louisiana French hallmark- the fleur de lis. What is this I see on yet another markdown display? My eyes can scan and spot a sale table three departments deep. I couldn’t resist the Rosanna Farmhouse Pantry covered cheese plate with the look and charm of a vintage hobnail pattern.
Pressing engagements, responsibilities, and retail therapy occupied the latter part of last week. The schedule may have kept me away from the keyboard, but it renewed what’s important in real life- health, awareness, and the joie de vivre.
Christmas In Provence and Eastern Europe comes to life through the pages of Art & Décoration and Campagne Decoration. These wonderful publications feature two stunning homes in their holiday issues. The first of these features takes the reader on a private tour of the Chateau d’Ansouis. Steeped in history and dating back to the thirteenth century, Château d’Ansouis overlooks the village of Ansouis and the valley of the Aigues.
Ownership of Château d’Ansouis has shuffled through the centuries. Owned since the tenth century by the powerful house of Forcalquier, the medieval fortress was next sold to Ansouis Zosimus-Elzear-Louis, Duke of Sabran in 1836. Elzear de Sabran and his wife Delphine. Honorably devoted to the causes of the poor resulted in Elzear being canonized and Delphine beatified in 1369. In January 2008, Gérard and Frédérique Rousset-Rouvière acquired Château d’Ansouis and a refined renovation soon began. Designer Jean-Jacques Bourgeois was brought on board and the beauty is in the details now more than ever, but especially at the holidays.
The arms of Sabran with diamond points grace the entryway. Lanterns and candlelight greet visitors in quaint and quiet splendor reminiscent of old world charm.
Soft candlelight in the stone stairway from the rows of candles, lantern, and wall table festively light the way to summer, the terracotta statue standing in the niche on the landing.
An exquisite interpretation of the list of thirteen traditional Provencal Christmas desserts is represented in grand detail. Mandarins, candied fruits, dates, dried apricots, chocolate and fresh grapes sit beautifully displayed between crystal candelabras atop a marble top buffet.
Eighteenth century antiquities set the tone for holiday dining with a festive, yet understated tablescape. After midnight mass on Christmas Eve, a gourmet meal of roasts, turkey and wines from Provence precedes the famous thirteen desserts. The thirteen desserts stand in remembrance of the Last Supper with Jesus surrounded by his twelve apostles. The Murano glass chandelier is stunning, as is the mantel and eighteenth century Rocaille.
The Grand Salon Rocaille, the 18th-century style of plaster-work featuring elaborately stylized shell-like, rocklike, and scroll motifs, is ranked among the best of Provence. The painted almond green walls are original to the decor.
Excuse me while I gain my composure after swooning over what I can only describe as an armoire cupboard. The contrast of the rich walnut armoire and original green patina of the interior cupboard is a Provincial design masterpiece.
Christmas en Provence are very traditional gatherings of family and community. The celebration begins with a vigil of songs, hymns and stories and concludes with gifts being handed out. The Big Dinner is a meatless meal held before midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The traditional table is set on three white tablecloths removed successively during the meal and adorned with three large white candles which represent the Trinity. Copper utensils and Moustiers earthenware shine as characteristically French features of an understated, utilitarian beauty.
The second feature has us shifting gears from historically traditional to whimsical wonder represented through warmth, color, and texture. This nineteenth century mansion of Slavic origin stands amidst a village in the north of the Ile-de-France. The dining room crystal chandelier and glass mercurisées reflect the reds, metals, and magentas of the holiday decor. My eyes immediately widen in decor amazement at first glance of the magenta branches on the mantel and the Reindeer skin draped garden chairs.
A lone display works as the perfect compliment to the whimsical decor~ a Christmas cuckoo clock with mushroom glass mercurisé.
Accessories inspire the gift of creativity.
Old world and modern day traditions at Christmas, both celebrated and decorated in other parts of our world, fittingly represent history, culture, and design. The beauty, joy, and traditions of the season translate well.
When it comes to selecting a French onion soup recipe, I find I am beginning to feel like the character Albert in The Birdcage.
Albert, brilliantly played by Nathan Lane, convincingly explains his mispronunciation of Armand’s surname in a context I find myself relating to. “Oh yes… Coldeman. The “d” is silent in America. It’s Cole D’Isle au Man, or Cole of the Isle of Man, in France, where Armand’s chateau is, Cold-e-man in Greece where Armand’s work is, and finally the vulgar Coleman in Florida where Armand’s home is, so actually, we don’t know where we are until we hear our last name pronounced! Ahahahahahahaaaaa!”
I feel his exaggerated pain, and let me tell you why. We live in Louisiana where we are heavily influenced by Creole and Cajun French. Our son attends university in Canada where we are influenced by Quebecois French. Actually, we don’t know where we are until we taste the food, the “who cares where we are as long as it is French” food! Ahahahahahahaaaaa!
Tonight’s menu will allow me to exercise my multilingual culinary skills. You’re definitely speaking my language when you’re talking French Onion Soup. I know where to go for the best French onion soup from coast to coast. My son’s friend holds the title in Canada. I have my own recipe met, mastered and magnifique. Cafe Bellagio and Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas both serve a fantastic French onion soup. I know the latter is a chain, but one taste of the French onion soup and you’ll understand! I would love to be on the Las Vegas strip right now watching the Fountains of Bellagio while enjoying French onion soup goodness. Since I’m not, I’ll bring a pinch of Paris, a dash of Creole, and a smidgen of Canada to the Places In The Home family table.
French Onion Soup
2 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 medium onions thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
½ cup white white or sherry
2 quarts (8 cups) low sodium beef broth
French bread baguette
8 slices Gruyère cheese
For Creole Seasoning
1/3 cup paprika
3 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon granulated onion
4 teaspoons dried thyme
4 teaspoons granulated garlic
Heat butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven over a medium- high heat. Add sliced onions and bay leaves to the pan, saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle sugar and Creole seasoning over onions, stir to incorporate.
Cook onions and company for 30 minutes or until softened and reaching a caramelized stage. Add sherry and bay leaves to onions. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn heat back up to medium-high and add beef broth. Allowing broth to heat through, reduce to simmer, and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes in order for ingredients to marry and live happily ever after. Remove bay leaves.
Slice French bread baguette and place on a baking sheet. Place under broiler until slices reach a light golden brown.
Place crocks, ramekins, or oven proof bowls on a large cookie sheet. Fill each with 1 cup soup. Place one slice French bread in each bowl and top with 1 cheese slice. Broil on high until cheese is melted and browned. Serves 8.
Directions for Creole Seasoning
In a medium bowl combine paprika, dried oregano, ground black pepper, dried basil, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, granulated onion, dried thyme and granulated garlic. Stir to combine. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to three months.
The Paris influence is this wonderful soup, and to that I say merci beaucoup. The Creole influence is the addition of the Creole seasoning. We put it on everything here in Louisiana. Give a try, shâ. The Canadian influence? That’s the best part! Our son is home to enjoy this dish with us tonight!
Decorative leaner mirrors have become increasingly popular, and why not? Ten and twelve foot ceilings are relatively standard in new construction, and allow the space needed to accommodate the desired reaction to a leaner. Older homes like mine with eight or nine foot ceilings handle a leaner mirror quite well in their own right. The height restrictions may make for more of a challenge, but the choices are not limited.
The March 2011 issue of House Beautiful showcases the vision of renowned designer Betty Lou Phillips in their regular feature, Bath of the Month. Here you see an antique mirror propped behind the tub as a wonderful example of the effect a leaner mirror has on a room. Mirrors open up a room and instantly cast the illusion of added depth. A leaner mirror deepens the richness of the illusion.
When the shock wears off for those who don’t get it, or the excitement subsides for those of us who do, the look is hard to dismiss as luck of the design draw. I have a great example of this to share with you at a later date.
One of my television guilty pleasures, and there are many, is the sinfully decadent The Real Housewivesfranchise. One of the ladies was chatting up a fellow cast member last season while giving a tour of her new home. The master bedroom suite, bathroom, and dressing closet were quite nice but the eye catcher was the floor to ceiling gold ornate up to your eyeballs leaner mirror. It is as big as the mouth of its owner! The dual purpose of function and formality comes across loud and clear.
Talk about a fantastic idea and learning new tricks! I had a client purchase a set of small ornate fireplace andirons from me three years ago. The client knew exactly what she was going to use them for and shared it with me. The andirons were placed on her fireplace mantle and used in an easel manner to display a leaner mirror. Fantastic idea!
If you have searched high and low for your perfect mirror and can’t find it, consider an unframed mirror paired with decorative prefinished picture frame molding.
Decorative moldings can be purchased at home improvement stores in limited selections. Larger selections can be found at specialty stores and through millwork manufactures. Sheet mirror is typically inexpensive. Going this route will allow you to customize a mirror to achieve the look you are going for . Molding is purchased, corners are mitered, mirror installed, and the perfect “prop” is on your stage. A diy project that reflects your decor personality~ now who’s the fairest of them all?