Posts filed under Holiday

Happy Winter Solstice!

 "Happy Holidays to all my friends" (and family)!!

"Happy Holidays to all my friends" (and family)!!

Today is the shortest day of the year and that can only mean one thing - the days are going to be getting longer from now on!  Yay!  It's dark this time of year, that's true, and rainy, too, here in the Pacific Northwest, which can sort of make one feel like never going outside again.  Just cuddling up indoors under a comforter and waiting patiently for spring's arrival..... But the lovely holiday lights & decorations around town DO make the darkness much more bearable - even joyful!  And when the decorations have been stowed away for another year, we have longer days and spring to look forward to.....

 Ahhhh.....the sweet smell of spring

Ahhhh.....the sweet smell of spring

In the meantime, please take a vicarious trip to Europe with me and feast your eyes on Christmas in France and Italy:

 Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

 Paris.  A "tree" of macarons!

Paris.  A "tree" of macarons!

 Avignon

Avignon

 Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

 .....and again

.....and again

 And again...

And again...

 Almost like being there - ha!

Almost like being there - ha!

 Torino

Torino

 Parisian Christmas topiary

Parisian Christmas topiary

 A great ornament!

A great ornament!

 Venice

Venice

There will be a full moon this Christmas so I hope you'll keep your eyes peeled for Santa!

Joyeux Noel & Buon Natale to all!!!  xoxo

Posted on December 21, 2015 and filed under Holiday.

Buon Natale and Joyeux Noel! Piacenza Maison for the Holidays...

 The virtual store.... lovely mural on canvas by Shannon Noel

The virtual store.... lovely mural on canvas by Shannon Noel

I fell head over heels in love with Europe the first time I visited. Everything about it spoke to me: the art, architecture, café life, chic residents and the sense of grounding that comes from generations of established society.  (Also, the lack of skyscrapers.....!)  

 September, 2015

September, 2015

Since I live in the rugged, upper west corner of the US where the reigning (ha!) style is known as "Northwest Contemporary" and, being the Francophile that many of you know I am, it's been challenging for me to source, locally, European "Haute Brocante" (Flea Market) items for my own home.  I love a collected-over-time aesthetic and sense of genteel, but not precious, warmth - without breaking the bank.

 Antique Louis Phillipe mirror with new Aidan Gray candle sconces

Antique Louis Phillipe mirror with new Aidan Gray candle sconces

So, I started shopping!  The last couple of trips to France, I discovered some wonderful things and had them shipped back to Seattle.  The delivery was anxiously awaited!

 Italian gilt painted furniture arrives!

Italian gilt painted furniture arrives!

And now, the Brocanterie is "live" on my new store website, Piacenza Maison.  It's a mix of French (Louis Phillipe mirrors, vintage copper cookware, finishings, art), Italian (gilt painted furniture, Venetian mirror, handmade paper goods, art) and New items that reflect the same "Haute Brocante" sensibility.

I absolutely love what I call "The Mix".  It's a blend of high/low, antique/modern, and streamlined/ornate.  It's really what the term Contemporary means to me: Of the moment. (vs "Modern", which is a style in its own right)  My goal is to offer furniture and accessories at Piacenza Maison that will bring to your home or office a little touch of Europe and, when mixed with new Modern or even rustic pieces, will impart a truly Contemporary essence.

 Philippe Starck Ghost Chair mixed with French reproductions and antique Oriental rug

Philippe Starck Ghost Chair mixed with French reproductions and antique Oriental rug

And just in time for last minute Holiday shopping, we have a category called "Little Luxuries" - items that are all $50 or less.   Here are a few samples:

    Monogrammed French Tea Towels  - never used! 

And, we're giving back - we have handmade African horn earrings whose proceeds benefit a school in Uganda.  

 I wore this pair of horn earrings 2 years in a row thru Italy and France.  Light as air and stylish, too!

I wore this pair of horn earrings 2 years in a row thru Italy and France.  Light as air and stylish, too!

We invite you to browse Piacenza Maison and perhaps see something that speaks to you.... And please contact us with comments or questions!


Posted on December 14, 2015 and filed under Shopping, Holiday, Piacenza Maison.

Holiday gifts for cooks (and Francophiles...)

Is Amazon clairvoyant??  It certainly seems that way because I opened an email from them this morning and it was all about French cookbooks!  Quelle Surprise - how did they know?  (Hmmm....how did they know?)  Anyway, it got me thinking about the holidays and gifts and..... I think you can guess where I'm going with this. For any devoted Francophile or cook or cookbook collector, these new offerings are awfully tempting:

Having eaten more than a few meals at Bouchon in Yountville, CA this past summer, this award-winning cookbook, Bouchon Bakery , really is appealing on so many levels.  The photography is lush and the whole French-inspired theme speaks to me.  I hope it's is under the tree on Christmas!   

My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz, former Chez Panisse pastry chef is a collection of stories and recipes with photographs taken in Paris.  A substitute for being there, it will have to do until September....

Who doesn't love Jacques Pepin??  Chef extraordinaire and author of over 20 cookbooks on his own and one with Julia Child - and who doesn't love her?  I remember watching Jacques and Julia cooking together on their PBS program, arguing ever so politely about seasonings. Essential Pepin looks like a good addition to any Francophile cook's kitchen library.

Mastering the Art of French Eating looks intriguing to me, as it promises to be filled with insights about Parisian neighborhoods and non-touristy restaurants and shops.  Written by a young woman whose diplomat husband leaves her alone in Paris for a year when he's sent on a mission to Iraq, it brings to mind a young Julia Child and the movie Julie and Julia - and it's added to my list!

Speaking of Julia ChildMy Life in France, which formed part of the back story for the "Julia" portion of "Julie and Julia", is one of the most charming autobiographies I've ever read.  A must!

I read the novel "The Paris Wife" first and was so thrilled to be immersed in 1920's Paris and Hem & Hadley's life there, I just had to follow it up with "A Moveable Feast". 

Wonderful writing, both - one stitched together with beautifully embroidered facts and the other from memories.  Essential.

Finally, "Suite Francaise" byIrene Nemirovsky, has nothing to do with cooking but tells the amazing story of the German occupation of France during WW2, from the perspective of those occupied.  The writing is engrossing, reminiscent of Tolstoy, and particularly poignant when one discovers that Ms Nemirovsky never was able to finish her "suite" of stories, as she was imprisoned in Auschwitz......

You can purchase any of these wonderful books through the Design Beat: Seattle store on Amazon.com and it would be the best Christmas gift for us, ever, if you did!

Holidays: why not dress your abode up, too?

Halloween is over and it's almost time to decorate for the Holidays - hurray!  I don't know about you, but my Christmas decorations go up in earnest the day after Thanksgiving - boxes and boxes emerge from storage and it takes me days to complete.  I've always loved this time of year:  dressing up, wrapping gifts, sharing seasonal cocktails with friends and reveling in how "accessorized" my home feels!  

Always on the lookout for unusual and beautiful approaches to table settings and interior & exterior decor for this celebratory time of year, I've found some wonderful examples:

Charlotte Moss, an A-list designer who is also November's pop-up editor for House Beautiful magazine, designed this beautiful table scape, above.  It could work equally well for Thanksgiving as Christmas. 

Carolyne Roehm, the uber-talented designer, writer, gardener and much more has this take on a Holiday centerpiece that looks so modern but almost colonial, somehow.

 You can almost smell the turkey in this traditional, antique-filled room.

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Who says Holiday means red and green?  (I prefer copper, myself!)  Turquoise and shades of cream/gold looks so inviting!

Charlotte Moss' take on overflowing mantel abundance....

Colin Cowie, party planner to the stars, uses one of my favorites:  a mountain of unique ornaments in a beautiful, simple bowl or piled in a large vase.  Determine a palette and shop for ornaments that complement at Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel or the wholesale florist (your designer can help you with that!). 

I love these 5 essential entertaining tips from Mr Cowie:

  • Serve a signature cocktail (I like it simple: Champagne with some frozen cranberries dropped in the flute)
  • Play great music; take your best cocktail playlist and add 20% Holiday tracks
  • Set up food stations:  charcuterie (there's that Francophile, again!), smoked salmonrye bread (with Vodka cocktails), etc.
  • Assemble a colorful guest list - mix it up
  • There's no such thing as too many candles!
  • And one from me:  be sure to have everything ready in plenty of time to sit down and have a glass of wine before the guests arrive.....

Designer Stephen Sills suggests metallic papers and Kraft paper-wrapped packages - with gorgeous ribbon, of course.

 An over-the-top mirror Christmas tree by David Stark - just, wow!

Copper antique glass, copper-painted feathers, glass cherry blossoms and twinkly lights. 

Luscious gold and kiwi green jazz op the table, again from Colin Cowie.

Beautiful pieces from JuliskaCalvin Klein HomeBarney's, etc.

Whatever your palette and however you decorate for the Holidays, have fun and hope that this doesn't happen! 

Posted on November 11, 2013 and filed under Holiday.