Sunday, January 31, 2010

mirepoix minutes

duc de levis-Mirepoix

Whilst on a recent dash to Trader Joe's in pursuit of a box of ready made "Swiss Fondue" introduced to me by a friend who gave me an "electric" foundue pot last year.
(as a gift for illustrating her holiday card.)
How easy, Fondue in minutes. Genius. Perfect apres ski or lunch!

I glanced to the right and spotted a container of ready made "mirepoix" and said, -"Now why did I not think of that?" How utterly divine to have a go to container of mirepoix at the ready.
Of course, hearing my practical motherly conscience tell me, "now how silly, you can chop that in minutes." All one needs is, an onion or 2, carrots, celery and a sharp knife and voila. This is the base for a myriad of sauces and soups. Add some wine and heaven awaits any dish. A fond blanc mirepoix, merely substitute parsnips in lieu of carrots and a white sauce in a winter dish is not only aesthetically pleasing, it is tasty.

So, I ask, would you buy chopped mirepoix to shave off a few minutes of your day and what would you do with those extra minutes?
Why, post this tip with fellow bloggers is my answer!
More time for blogging and meeting fellow bloggers in person to share haute couture and haute cuisine tips. A perfect hostess gift!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friends Design Obsession

Allow me to formally introduce you to Gwen of "Ragland Hill Social." Gwen has brilliantly began what she calls "FDO" - Friends of Design Obsession. It is a gathering of individuals who have been garnered collectively who share a passion for design. Why not pop in on Gwen, introduce yourself, tell her you are a friend of PVE and have FDO. The above photo is from Gwen's home.

You must see the post today and if you are not FDO, you will catch it, it is rather contagious in the best way. Thank-you Gwen for including me on the FDO list. Add yourself to the list of FDO's. I am sure that this will be a wonderful support group to help each of us with our obsession of designing a beautiful and happy life.

Friday, January 29, 2010

special reserve

It is cold now, the kind of bitter cold that seeps into every extremity rendering one to stay indoors, light a fire and have a little sip of something to ward off the chill. There is something so soothing about the oaky flavor and the fact that is matured in the highlands of Scotland.
I have a crystal cut glass that was my Grandmother's reserved for a wee sip. Happy hour to you.
What do you have reserved for your happy hour?


pve design illustration for "Edman" Boutique (2009)
How many of you out there find "windowing" fascinating. My family tells me, to not keep so many "windows" open at one time (on the computer) but I simply reply, I love fresh air and window shopping too. ( Sigh -Did I just sound like my own Mother?)

Last fall, I had the pleasure of creating this illustration for Whitney and now I take great joy in telling you that she has added a blog to her world. I love women who juggle life with a smile.

Hop on over here to this "Shopkeeper's Blog" and take a look in her window and read her story. Now excuse me while I do a bit of "windowing." Have a fabulous friday and make time for a little "windowing" from home. Any windows open that you care to share with the rest of us?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

heart eddie

Today is the last day to show Eddie Ross how you really feel, and vote here.
I don't know about you, but if he loses, I think all of us bloggers will need some super dooper linen hankies. Now, please "carpe diem" an vote for Eddie's big window challenge which is in NY at Bloomingdales.

giant heart from uo (urban outfitters)

Congratulations to "Queen Bee Swain" Winner of the "Royal Crown Bookends"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

royal couples "give-away"

Winner is Queen Bee Swain!!

"Royal Couple Crown Bookends" give-away from
along with this special book, "Someday my Prince will come" by author Jerramy Fine

photo of "Jerramy Fine" photo credit - "tea" by Rebecca Harley

With great pleasure, allow me to introduce "Jerramy Fine" writer and author of, a memoir "Someday my Prince will come"

1. My mission is to design - inspire and create and artful life- what would you say your mission is as a writer? (other than that of the pursuit of a royal!)

I write not because I want to, but because I need to! If I don’t get everything inside my crazy head (and even crazier heart) down on paper, I get restless. So I figure while I’m at, I had better make my writing contribute to the greater good. I want it to amuse, to inspire, to give readers faith in happily ever after whilst teaching them to have faith in themselves. It is quite a large order and I have no idea if I even come close to achieving this – but I try!

2. How did the creation of this book originate and how long did it take from start to publish? When did you realize that humour was your way to express yourself?

When I met my childhood crush at the age of 25, I knew I had a story to tell. Luckily for me, my agent used to have a crush on Prince Edward and my editor used to write letters to Prince Albert Monaco! These two women immediately understood the theme of my memoir and how relatable it was for wannabe-princess the world over . Perhaps my book landed in the right hands at the right time, but because of this, the publishing deal happened quite quickly. It took me about 9 months to finish it and but it was a more than 18 months after I signed the contract before the book actually hits the shelves. I never set out specifically to be funny – but I learned long ago to laugh rather than cry so I’m sure this attitude seeps into my writing.

3. What advice would you give to other writers or artists who are working towards getting published?

Don’t try to write the entire book before getting a book deal! Just write three really great chapters (and an outline of the rest) and start sending it out to agents asap!

4. What sorts of ways do you add artful touches to your life to make you feel more "royal?"

I surround myself with velvet cushions, pre-Raphaelite prints, and classical music from the royal courts; I indulge in Chanel perfume and expensive chocolate; I tend to take taxis when I really should take the tube, and I try to get a massage every month. I also rarely leave the house without high heels and pearls!

5. In college, we watched Princess Diana's royal wedding, do you think another Royal Wedding is about to be televised?

I was only 4 years-old when I watched Diana’s wedding (my grandparents taped it for me), but it is something has had a life-long impact on my psyche. I do think Prince William will marry Kate Middleton in the next 2-3 years. Our world is crying out for magic these days so new royal wedding may be just what the doctor ordered!

6. Do you write every day or do you spend more time promoting your book? (you do not have to answer this one)

I try to write something every day (even if it’s just paragraph for one of my many new books-in-progress). I wish I didn’t have to spend so much time on promotion, but if I am to compete with the Twilight I must persevere! My facebook and twitter pages take up an amazing amount of time, but the feedback I get from readers makes it so worthwhile. As much as the business side of publishing drives me nuts, it warms my heart to know I have inspired so many girls to go after their dream.

Thank-you Jerramy for this "royal" interview keeping the dream alive and the fairy tale too in each of our creative hearts. Feel free to leave a comment, which royal couple made an impression on your wannabe princess heart? The winner of the bookends and the book will be randomly selected and posted this Thursday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

good karma

In 2008, I illustrated this for a client who wanted to give a friend a work of art of their home in the States (to have as a keepsake) while they had moved abroad. Just today, she contacted me to let me know she has a blog and to tell me that (my artwork) was the best gift she has ever given. I cannot begin to tell you how delighted I am to hear that, it warms me in such a good way. Do you believe in good karma and in knowing that the good you do will come home to you? Why not spread good karma or a little zhush in everything you do?

couples on safari

Couples who travel or look at life as a "journey" inspire me. The above couple came to me to illustrate a keepsake work of art last year from a recent safari. They wanted to use the artwork for their holiday card.
This was actually the first illustration that I did, take note that it has no hat, which one do you like better? Hat or no hat?Looking back, the couple will have these to remember their journey. I must admit, I loved adding the wildlife and totally lost myself in the border.
Back to couples, I think the art of travel and the spirit of a journey are what keep things interesting. After all it is not everyday that the mode of transportation would be that of an elephant.

I am accepting commissions of couples. Valentines day is coming up soon! Contact me via my contact on my site to place a custom "couples" order.

Monday, January 25, 2010

like no other...

Never mind that I am fashionably late to post this fabulous photo of one of the vignettes from the divine store-front window for Elle Decor in Bloomingdales, New York done by Eddie Ross and his partner Jaithan. I was fortunate enough to live in New York and walk by that store to and from work. I always loved the windows and the commercial that stated the obvious, "Like no other store in the world!" I feel that way about our dear friend "Eddie & Jaithan." Take a look over here and follow the instructions to vote for your favorite window.
One of my intern positions in college was in "Visual Merchandising" and I know the amount of work it takes to pull of this, let alone in a city that never sleeps! Wishing all the window's well and thanks to each of you for sharing your energy and your visions!
Seriously, Eddie Ross is like no other, just pure fabulousness in blog land and beyond!


Couples fascinate me. I admire couples who have what it takes to compliment one another and to live a life full of love and respect for one another. I did this illustration for a faithful reader who has left so many kind comments to me. I thought she would appreciate one of her folks. Do you have couples around you that you look up to. What do you think it takes to make a couple stay a couple?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

a bowl of cherries

Why not create your day by starting with a bowl full of cherries? I love having freshness around me, fresh fruit, fresh flowers and pretty things. There truly is something special about making an artful life. Inspiration can come in many forms.

Auguste Escoffier, a legendary French "haute cuisine" chef and culinary writer, wrote and prepared the first "Cherries Jubilee" for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Celebration in 1887. Other notable dishes to his claim, are Peche Melba as well as Melba Toast!

Design your day around something you love. Prepare or create a day full of goodness and it will surely make your life like a bowl full of cherries. Live life as if each day is "jubilee" worthy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

getting testy

Image from Christine Peterson, Test taker. Flickr.

Saturday morning, my twin sons shall be taking the SAT Test. They have been preparing for this test for quite some time and seem to feel pretty confident that they will do just fine. As a parent, it is hard to know exactly how much to push, prod and poke. "Have you anwered the question of the day today?" The words back to me that I hear are - "Stop, Mom." I can't say that I blame them. I mean really, who needs a nag or the drone of a troll. I mutter back, "getting testy?"

So to all you Moms and all your test takers, take a "deep breath" and know that these times will pass. It is normal during this time to have some heavy sighs, some nasty back-talk and some testy headed comments.

I am headed out to stock the pantry with snacks and make something good for dinner. Rewards are in order after a grueling test. How do you deal with testy heads? Sling back, re-coil or retreat?


I could spend an innordinate amount of time "zigzagging" on etsy. I must admit, I love shopping on etsy and enjoy supporting fellow bloggers too. Pam over at Pixelimpress personalized these cute cheveron note cards that I ordered.
You can order the notes simply chevroned without personalization.
Love the bright yellow envelope.
Hop on over or zigzag there to leave a comment and take a look around. Thanks Pam, love the notes and the cheery colored envelopes!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

summer time all year long

Allow me to indulge my Winter time blues in a little interview with Allie of Summer is a verb. It has been my pleasure to create artwork for her summertime obsession.

Surely after reading this, we will all be ready for a trip to Summer time,somewhere warm and sunny!
When did your fascination with summer begin?
The minute I was old enough to understand that summer meantno school, short distance swimming, long days and Lilly Pulitzer galore.

Do you design a life around summer all year? If by "design" you mean fantasizing that I'm running along Gin Lane in Southampton on the way back to my summer cottage when in fact I'm suffering through 8 milers in 20 degree weather, well then yes, I believe I do.

What inspires you most about summer? All the best clothes, natch! Plus, everyone knows you look thinner with a tan. And, when it comes to tanning, I reached pro level alooong time ago.

How do you create a Summer is a Verb attitude during the winter? By sneaking off to my parents home in Ixtapa, Mexico midwinter for a dose of sun and surf. It's also an opportunity to test drive some of my newly acquired summery duds that I'm waiting to debut during the upcoming "season".

Favorite bikini? My two all time favorite bikinis were a white 96° and a lil black Gucci number that my sister Mandy and I both had. Très Bain de Soleil. I also had a thing for Head racing suits. Are they still around? Someone should resurrect those!

Favorite sunscreen? Skinceuticals SPF 30 for my face, neck and back of hands, since that's were a women first shows her age, and good ole Coppertone for the rest. Strictly for the scent mind you.

Favorite goggles and swim cap? I don't do caps. I usually had so much chlorine in my hair it was like a virtual cap. If I had a nickel for every old lady that approached me and asked what I put in my hair to make it so shiny, I'd havethat cottage in the Hamptons! And, for goggles I'm loyal to Sweds, preferably in green or mirrored for summer.

Best beach towel? Oooo Hermes...Babe still swears he'd end up on American Greed one day as "the former CEO whose wife collected $500 beach towels". But, a girl can dream...

How do you handle a burn? Advil and a good margarita. Patrón Silver and Cointreau por favor. The Advil's for the burn and the margarita's to drown my no sun for you tomorrow blues.

Allie posts dreamy things summertime candy all year long....
I just might pack myself in
your bag as I would love a little trip to a warm locale, can you blame me for dreaming! Thanks for the summer time inspiration all year long. Let's hope the "cats play while the mouse is away." Have a wonderful trip!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

supper time

photo Margot Austin, Style at Home, Canadian Magazine
How much would I love to prepare "supper" in this pretty kitchen. I love the light, the white, the slim island. LEB posted this today. Hop on over and take a look, while I whip up some dinner.

baby steps

pve design illustration "baby steps" on top of a box for giving
Why is it that we want to run before we can even crawl. I am reminded of this each day as each of us take steps to achieve our goals and dreams. The above illustration was done for this Momma who is full of pure style.

I simply glued the artwork on top of a thick box which was recycled (from the holidays) and inside enclosed one of my hand-knit baby hats for her little boy to grow into. I love babies and the joy they bring to the world.

One thing I have learned is that working to build my business, and to raise my family and keep my home running smoothly requires steps," baby steps" each day and a huge leap of faith to keep it all rolling.

These are just a few tips that my Mother taught me;
1. Know what you are serving for "supper." My Mother told me this when I brought my twins home from the hospital. I sort of scratched my head at that idea but it does make brilliant sense. Dinner time can be the most challenging part of the day and having a nice meal can make up for even the worst times.

"cry baby" - here he is sporting his hat.
(Mommy Blogger torture, ha ha)
2. "Never do what they can do for themselves" which my Mother told me when I was lugging my two year old around. They have legs and arms, teach them right away, get them on board with doing for themselves. Raise them to take care of themselves, they will fly out of the nest eventually and the better equiped they shall be.

3. Share tips with friends and never be afraid to ask for a little help! You would be surprised when you ask a friend for help, how flattered they will be. (this is the one I have the hardest time with!) I am working on this.

What sorts of steps do you take to make your day run a little smoother? Moms, Artists, Designers and parents can share wonderful tips, do you have any that you would like to pass on?
Leave a comment if you have some helpful steps?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ecstatic felicitations

Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold
With brilliant eclat and ecstatic jubilations, several bloggers have banned together to shower Emily Evans Eerdmans and her her mate for a harmonious matrimony. Best wishes the Mr. and Mrs. EEE.
Somehow, I envision Emily and her love to live in total delight, harps playing, literature a plenty and antiques surrounding them whilst felines provide amusement.
Please congratulate the newlyweds upon thier return from a Hawaii Honeymoon.
I am working on a special little something for them which I promise to post later today. The above illustration was done for Emily last year for her blog header. Now I must add her beloved comrade to her chamber.
Warmest wishes to you both for a lifetime of wit, wisdom and whimsy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

speak up

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This weekend is a three day weekend as Monday is Martin Luther King Day. Take time to speak up and make your voice heard. Make a list of what matters and tell those around you.
No silent treatment, just express yourself and get it off your mind and off your chest.
"just words" wall sticker found on etsy

Friday, January 15, 2010

Give now

In the wake of the recent magnitude earthquake in Haiti, Charlotte Moss is encouraging those in the design world to act now to help those in need. Over half of Haiti's population is under age 18 and the mother in me yearns to be there to hold and help these precious young ones. Moss herself has pledged ten thousand dollars to aid in the relief effort and she is hoping that her gift will be matched and even exceeded by those in the design community. Please follow this link to Unicef where you can make your donation and learn more. I also ask you, if you are a person of prayer, to pray, pray, pray for the Haitian people who are experiencing such devastation

Thursday, January 14, 2010

bar none

When this taste maker posted these chocolate bars, I hopped over here to place my very own order. I adore a bit of chocolate, really good chocolate. Take a look at these artisans and brothers.
I also love pretty papers. Can you stand these pretty packages?
Here's how they arrived, stacked, tied with a bit of hemp twine.
I rather fancy the notion of "sitting around and eating bon bons or bits of chocolate" - Do you allow yourself a little treat? Bar none, these are a special treat, all part of my new year's plan to be good to myself. Can you tell that I have a thing for crafty types.

table talk

Original coffee table designed and made by Frances Newman, previous owner of our home
She came with the house, the original owners left her behind for us. She was made by the owner who was an artist. We loved this table for many years and always "talked" of making a change.
Part of us felt she belonged here and the other part wanted to replace her. Our quest began to find a new table. My husband and I love to shop with one another and as he likes to say, "leave no stone unturned." He can exhaust me with the amount of research. I call him Mr. Consumer Report. We have all the issues to refer to for appliances, gadgets and more.
new coffee table from crate and barrel
The search came to an end. Meet our new oval shaped table. We had looked at several second hand shops, many stores and one day while returning an item, I happened to run into this table here. I had several gift cards from some acrued points and a pleasant sales associate who indicated a discount that happened to all lead to good timing. It was perfect, two levels, glass, and the bonus of the bottom being mirrored to reflect and radiate light from our fire as well as our southern exposure. The edge is lovely, sort of uneven, hammered and the height is perfect.
Enter, new gal, she is a nice oval shape, two levels, the lower level is a wonderful spot for books and the upper for holding bowls of clementines and drinks while we sit by the fire.
Now that this new table is a member of our home, I think the table is talking me into getting a new rug and I also heard some comment about the couch looking "sad." Funny how a change can lead to another change. The rug has seen lots of life and been well loved but now I see something sleeker, textured and perhaps a geometric pattern. Talk to me, tell me what rugs are talking to you?