Home for the Holidays ~ Planning ahead for Warm and Wonderful Holiday Gatherings!

 

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Hasn’t it been an incredibly beautiful autumn? Watching the leaves turn their magnificent shades of russet and gold puts me in the mood for fires, feasts and long evenings spent with my family, eating comforting foods and quietly enjoying each others companionship. Because the holiday season is soon to be upon us I’m already planning my menus and of course trying to decide how to set my tables, which is for me always the most fun of all!

I’ve been thinking for quite sometime now about family gatherings, and what they mean to us. As I was growing up, there were beautiful things that my mother always used on her table, seasonal items that made each celebration unique. When I was very young, she taught me to fill her traditional wicker cornucopia at Thanksgiving with an overflowing abundance of fruits, nuts and flowers, a centerpiece that I still create today.   This beautiful symbol of harvest abundance has long been associated with the turning of the wheel of the year towards autumn.

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 For many years, traditional woven cornucopias were difficult to find, but thankfully almost any craft store sells them year round.   It is also possible to create the same effect with a lovely basket, made from wicker or any other material. Don’t limit yourself to using the cornucopia for only Thanksgiving though. I’ve filled them with Christmas balls, candy canes, holly and ivy and lots of pine boughs for a festive  look on the sideboard.

 

Many of us have beautiful pieces of antique silver, gorgeous family pieces, stashed away and rarely used.  I encourage you to examine those long forgotten treasures for a suitable vessel to create your holiday centerpiece.

 

Many pieces of silver can be used as centerpieces, even if this was not their original purpose. I’ve even used a tea service as a beautiful seasonal arrangement by filling each piece with flowers and surrounding them with gourds, fruit and nuts.

 

Single salt cellars or antique cordial glasses each filled with a small bouquet can be used as individual centerpieces on your table, making each guest feel very special.  Once you’ve chosen the pieces to work with, the fun begins! Have fun arranging it so that all of the lusciousness and sensuality of the season spills out everywhere!

 

A simple trip to the grocery store will provide you with lots of inspiration! Mini pumpkins that you can paint and/or gild, bunches of grapes, French chestnuts, pears and apples, squashes and gourds, the choices are endless! Don’t forget some lovely mums, sunflowers or even roses to poke in and out of the abundance of fruit. If you use roses, don’t forget the florist’s tubes so that they stay fresh.

 

For Thanksgiving If you have children, don’t forget to add some lovely foil wrapped chocolate turkeys and pilgrims! Until my mother died, my son still looked for them as soon as we walked into her house Thanksgiving eve! After Thanksgiving, out came her Christmas Carolers and her collections of angels and bells. If you have young children, bundle them up and send them outside for acorns, rosehips, seed pods and beautiful leaves to bring a bit of wildness into your holiday arrangements.

 

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For many years while I was setting tables at my store the most commonly asked question was  “ My dishes always look the same, no matter what I do , so how can I make my table look festive and seasonal?”

 

Color and texture will make the difference between the same old thing and a look for your table that’s fresh and new!

 

Accents of strong color that you personally love will always do great things for your holiday spirits. For example, even a plain gold and white dinnerware pattern can be turned into an elegant holiday expression with the addition of a different salad ,soup or charger  plate.

 

For a smaller investment than an entirely new set of dishes, you can create a table that is uniquely yours. If your dinnerware is heavily patterned, why not use a lovely colored wine or water glass that matches your plate!

 

I love to play with fabrics this time of year, in jewel toned hues of flecked with lots of silver and  gold; anything that evokes the peace of the season and remember, Christmas does not have to be red and green! 

 

 A floral or toile tablecloth will completely change the look of any dinnerware that you own, dressing up a casual dish, or warming up a very formal setting. One of my favorite tables mixes velvet and tapestry, to create a look that is very rich and warm.

 

 A velvety tablecloth cloth in a deep shade of burgundy, with the top draped in tapestry changes the look of the simplest dish. Add an oversized napkin in a colorful crepe fabric and stuff it you’re your water glass, or tie it with a beautiful fabric ribbon and you have a table that everyone wants to linger at.

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 Lots of candlesticks, always in odd numbers will finish the setting.  Don’t be afraid to mix pewter, silver, brass and copper.  Anything goes as long as you love the way that it looks. Choose one color for the candles and enjoy the lovely glow!

 

I love serving soup in many different ways, but a beautiful soup tureen is always closest to my heart. I’ve often said that if I had a serving piece that I would refuse to part with; it would be my  Herend  soup tureen in the Poisson pattern. Covered with beautiful handpainted fish, and bordered in deep sage green and gold, it moves through all of the seasons effortlessly. If I’m not using it for soup, it turns into a grand centerpiece for my table with the addition of about three small pots of flowers and masses of fresh herbs and ivy! At Christmas I surround it with a beautiful wreath and mound pretty little gilded birds  and pine cones all around it.

A smaller soup tureen like the one shown above is portable, and you can use it in the living room with all of your demitasse cups for an elegant start to the evening. No one ever uses demitasse cups for their intended purpose ( coffee) and almost everyone that I know has inherited huge collections of them. Because they have handles, and a place to rest the spoon, soup is a fabulous way to use these often overlooked pieces!

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I've also served many different soups in a large hollowed out pumpkin that has been placed in a wreath of gilded greens and fruits, yet another easy and gorgeous centerpiece!

 

 A small glass of wine and a bit of cheese and /or pate served with the soup while you’re putting the finishing touches on the rest of the meal makes waiting for dinner a celebration in itself and a delightful way to begin the family evening.

 

 Those same demitasse cups could be filled with a creamy mousse for dessert (with chocolate shavings and whipped cream of course!)   alongside of all of the traditional  pies and cakes that my family loves to consume during the holidays.

 

For me, satisfying entertaining has everything to do with keeping the evening warm and personal, even if you’ve got a real crowd on your hands!

 

On Thanksgiving and Christmas, one of our favorite family traditions is to go around the table and have each person share what they are grateful for that year.

 

Another holiday tradition that I love is to have everyone who joins us bring something to share that they ate with their families, in a serving piece that is special to them.

Don’t leave the table without letting everyone sitting there know just how much they mean to you.

Take a pear, a gold or silver marker from the craft store and handwrite your guest’s names on each one for a quick and easy place card so they know just how much they belong! My mother always buys little tin pans from the grocery store, so that everyone takes home a bit of the meal for their lunch the next day. Why not share your family recipes, perhaps copied onto pretty paper or recipe cards so that you can give them out. (Don’t be modest; you know they’re going to ask!) This year, teach your children or grandchildren to cook with you, or let them help you set the table, and arrange the flowers so that they’ll always know what to do when they have families of their own. We can all discover new ways of connecting the old with the new, ways of creating traditions that are personal and related in a world that is quickly losing its sense of peace and security.

 

Those are a few of mine; I’d love to know some of yours!

 

Pumpkin soup tureen nor the colored glassware pictures are not mine but i have no idea who to attribute them to. 

 

 


Home for the Holidays ~ Fluffy German Apple Pancake!

 

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I will never forget the Thanksgiving when my friend John and his beautiful wife Emily came for a surprise with their darling son Xander. I was so looking forward to having them join us because I knew that it would be just the right antidote for the holiday sadness I was beginning to feel. Those first couple of holidays after my mother passed weren't the easiest. 

It was a crazy time, I was trying so hard to have everything just right, juggling my sons and father completely opposing schedules. My father was in a nursing home and by 10:00 am on Thanksgiving day I was sobbing in the middle of my kitchen floor because absolutely nothing was working out the way that I wanted it to. On top of that my cat Zoe got sick and I was leaving for Boulder the very next day. 

It was the absolute perfect storm of holiday madness.

Except for Emily.

She took over and made me this pancake and everything was all right in the world again. This is one of those amazing recipes that can be a breakfast, side dish, dinner or even a dessert, especially if you serve it hot with some cinnamon, bourbon and vanilla ice cream. If you want to use it as a side dish, think pork roast or fried chicken and for breakfast, think about some sage infused chicken sausage and of course, butter and  maple syrup. 

I promise you that this pancake is absolutely delicious. This isn't her exact recipe , but it's close enough. I used this picture from that very Thanksgiving on the first edition of my book...one look at it and I am transported back to that moment when the world came back into color again. 

All that I can really say about it is that I am sure that this pancake is magic and so is Emily. One bite and it was all better. This is the ultimate comfort food. 

You'll need:

2 Large apples, peeled ,cored and sliced

4 organic eggs

2/3 cup of organic Half and Half

1/2 cup of unsifted white flour (do not use whole wheat)- Any gluten free girls can substitute your favorite!)

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

4 tablespoons of sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

4 tablespoons of melted butter

 fresh lemon wedges

powdered sugar

pumpkin pie spice

 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Beat the eggs until fluffy in a bowl and add the half and half, 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and the vanilla. Add the flour and beat it for a 1/2 minute until it turns into a light batter and set it aside, covered with a towel . 

Add the melted butter to a cast iron pan and then add the sugar mixture. Add the apples and coat them evenly. Cook the apples on medium heat stirring to coat them.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg batter over them, arranging the apples so that they are pretty. Sprinkle them with more of the pie spice and bake the pancake for about 13 to 15 minutes or until its fluffy, golden and perfect. 

Take the pancake out of the oven, sprinkle it with the powdered sugar, spoon it out onto individual plates and serve it hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon, melted butter and warmed maple syrup or honey. 

For the record, you could make this with almost ripe pears and it would be delectable. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


All Hallows Eve - Drenched in Papillon Artisan Perfumes - Bengale Rouge

 Bide The Wiccan Law Ye Must,
In Perfect Love, In Perfect Trust.
Eight Words The Wiccan Rede Fulfill:
An Ye Harm None, Do As Ye Will.
And Ever Mind The Rule Of Three:
What Ye Send Out, Comes Back To Thee.
Follow This With Mind And Heart,
And Merry Ye Meet, And Merry Ye Part.

 

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Oh… there you are , come gather around the fire with me. Don’t be afraid, just notice all of the little things, the sounds, the smells..all of the things that you can’t quite put your finger on…breathe them and this luxurious feral night in deeply. It's time...they are all around us. 

Just know that on this night, we are not alone and it’s okay..it’s as it should be. Tonight is the night when the veils between the worlds are thin..tonight is the night when all souls can meet once again.

These flames smell absolutely wonderful, burning brightly with the woods of apple, oak and ash and scented with fresh branches of lavender , wild sage and rosemary. It’s a beautiful evening , cool and crisp and I’ve laid bales of fragrant fresh hay all around where we can sit. The moon is hanging by a silvery thread in the sky and the woods are quiet, except for the disconcerting sense that we are not alone.

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I’ve brought homemade ale which is laced with cardamom, cloves , fresh honey, single malt and apples. I’ve carved a pumpkin to be used as a tureen and it’s  filled with steaming hot butternut squash soup, laced with sage leaves and browned butter. There are the crispy, German sausages that my father loved, the ones that burst open when you sink your teeth into them, and Swiss cheese dipped in cornbread, deep fried and served melting and hot with mustard. I have briny raw oysters, my maternal grandfathers favorite,  on a bed of ice with fresh lemons and horseradish. The last of the season’s sweet corn is roasting by the edges of the fire waiting to be drenched in the melted butter that has been laced with the disarmingly sensual flavor of black truffles, smoky chipotle and salt.


Because it’s Halloween, I have to have candy corn , roasted chestnuts laced with honey and butter and homemade spicy caramel apples.

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The winds are stirring tonight and if you listen carefully they will tell you anything that you need to know. Take a deep breath, notice the smells that come to you. Yes, we are in the deep woods and there are the familiar sounds of animals curling in the brush and the smells of wet leaves, rutting deer and apples .

Tonight I am painfully aware of almost too many scents, too many sounds.  Sweet smells that I don’t recognize, strange skin scents and pungent , decaying smells that make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck . An owl flies past silently as they are prone to do, wings strong and the shriek of its prey breaks the still night. My sweet cats are curled up and purring all around me…they are never afraid of the dark.

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I have an almost unnatural love of cats, black or otherwise. Lions,Tigers,  Panthers and Jaguars...all cats.  The spirit animal I was born with. My ancestral name is Von Lowenstern, which translates to Lionstar.  Until I was about 8, the only Halloween costume I would wear was of a lion. A couple of members of my family began to get concerned that I was taking it a little too seriously. Could it have been all of the roaring? They took it away and I cried for days...imagine my joy as an adult when I discovered leopard print velvet....

So , tonight is All Hallows Eve and the veil between the worlds is so very thin. It is all part of the great dance among the strands of the web of life.  It’s true, you are closer to the dead tonight than at any other time of the year.

All of your dead. Dead loves, Dead ancestors, dead dreams.

 I know that for many the mysterious end to that which we call life is truly frightening, but I’ve always thought the latter to be much scarier. My mother whose memory I always honor tonight used to tell me that those who are afraid to die are instead truly terrified to live.

I remember once kissing a man and knowing immediately that his very soul was dead. His cruel lips pulled the very air from my lungs, and in that instant I knew. I ran away fast, scared for my very life. There is no smell on earth more putrid than the scent of the living dead. It’s not a scent I’ve ever forgotten. Sometimes by the time you’ve figured it out it’s too late. Sometimes you have to die a bit yourself before you learn the whole lesson of how to come fully alive, and become fully alive I did. 

Samhain is a special time for me....it’s the time of year that I simply stop and remember everything and especially in this year which has been filled with unexpected endings I feel the need for pause.  

Samhain or as you’ll know it , “Halloween”, is the Wiccan New Year and I am a witch.

I really do believe in magic.

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The Witches  creed is to harm none, we are the keepers of the earths secrets. For years we’ve been the healers, the herbalists, and the perfumers who walk unnoticed among you. We tend the gardens. We watch the moon.  We mix the potions that make life just a bit more interesting and spontaneous. For years we’ve lived cloaked in secrecy, afraid to be known.


No longer.

 

Samhain is my time for deep reflection and divination, the time to honor endings and a time for us all to cast our spells for powerful new beginnings.

 

Be filled with the knowing that there is no magic without love and don’t be fooled. We are all capable of bewitching, some of us just come by it a bit more naturally then others. The very nature of magic is enchanting. The true nature of enchantment is sweet fun. Yes, we witches are mischievous, but it’s born from a deep need to celebrate life. This is the one time of year when the beginning and end of the wheel of life meet, so you can hardly blame us for wanting to have a bit of fun! We love to dress up, all that black is simply good for a bit of mysterious, good-natured fun but we like to frolic skyclad too!

 

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I for one cannot resist a flowing cape of any kind or deep rich lip rouge and I have to wear velvet as much as possible. I love to use makeup to cast a spell of seduction and power or sometimes to be invisible. I adore talismans of all kinds, crystals and gems and I stuff my pockets with acorns and pennies, rocks and feathers that I cannot resist picking up for unexplained reasons.

In the playful words of my favorite movie “Practical Magic” lies what I believe to be a simple truth, ” that there is a little witch in every woman”. I believe that there’s a little witch in every man too, because I’m married to one. I found the only man in the world that I couldn’t control and then I married him. He enchanted me the instant I saw him, I’ve been spellbound by him for almost 30 years. He lets me tempt him over and over again with the most delightfully fragrant potions, he in turn enchants me and makes me believe that I am the most beautiful woman alive.

He buys me perfume, glorious,  beautiful bottles of magic and begs me to wear it. How can you not love a man like that? 

By now all of you know just how much I love perfume and I use it abundantly like we all do, to bring about a mood, to cast a spell, to enchant, to allure, to weave a story.

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Tonight I’m wearing Papillon Perfumery’s very sexy , very witchy Bengale Rouge , a scent which my husband adores. I love it’s exotically warm, pelt like blend of Turkish Rose, Indian Sandalwood , Benzoin and Vanilla layered with orris butter , labdanum , oak moss, honey  and sweet myrhh. The musky , sexual allure of Bengale Rouge comes from the alchemical presence of the Tonka bean which has been used for centuries as a powerful narcotic and an aphrodisiac, as well as to promote fertility and cure impotence. It’s perfect for an evening such as this one where we are playing with all of our senses. My love of Bengale Rouge has eclipsed my all time favorite fragrance, Lancome’s Magie Noire. This gorgeous and lusty perfume was inspired by Liz Moore’s beautiful Bengal cats and wearing it I feel as if I’m wrapped languidly in a soft blanket of sun warmed, velvety and dappled fur…The creator of this remarkable magic Liz Moores is one of my favorite people, a very witchy and wonderful English woman who is passionate about perfume, horses, cats, owls and would probably live in the woods if she could...and the fact that she has created some of the loveliest perfumes on the planet is the frosting on the cake for me.  Bengale Rouge is beautiful and but its not for the faint of heart. Wear it and be prepared for amazing things to happen. Wear it for someone who deserves it, for someone who appreciates all of your passion…..It's a cozy, comforting scent, but make no mistake...it's absolutely fecund and bewitching. It has the flavor of warm breasts and honey. 

This witch absolutely adores it. 

Yes, sometimes I think that people are afraid of witches simply because our very nature is exotically feral, sensual and earthy. No, I will not steal your husband or seduce your son.  I may flirt with them a bit and I’ll probably flirt with you too..I love the game of enchantment. 

I can’t help myself… I love to tease and provoke using inspiration as my wand and love as my muse.

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I hope that you’ll be tempted to try a sample of Bengale Rouge…It’s a glorious , glamourous, throwback of a fragrance. Think late 40’s movie star glamour…or even earlier…think of Hedy Lamar swimming naked and orgasmic in her (shocking at the time!) movie “Ecstacy” or  Catherine Deneuve in almost any movie that she ever made. 

Perfection.  

 You can find a sample of it at my favorite local perfume boutique in Cleveland,  Indigo Perfumery and you can also find out more about Liz at Papillon Perfumery. I also suggest that you follow Liz on Instagram at @papillon_artisan_perfumes.  

You will be absolutely enchanted by her and isn’t that just perfect way to spend your Samhain eve?    

My wish for you is unbridled passion and joy. Magic for me is happiness, playfulness and tenderness. It’s about knowing that there are some things that you can control and many things that you can’t. It’s about acceptance and taking care of others as you would want to be cared for yourself.

It’s about living powerfully with all in the world , not being afraid to see all that the world has to offer. It’s about being at peace with the dualistic nature of creativity and destruction. It’s about creating your own reality, not waiting for it or someone else to create you.

With that in mind I’ve brought you one last bit of magic… a sterling mug filled with my favorite brew. Be careful because it’s very very hot. It’s made from steaming cream, fragrant dark chocolate, a touch of vanilla for passion, honey and a lusty splash of my mothers favorite port to relax and inspire you.

 
Sip it slowly and savor its deep chocolaty flavor. Shut your eyes and take a deep breath, make a wish and tell  me, Who or what  do you see coming towards you through the parting veils?

Happy Halloween.....

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Pictures of Liz Moores and Bengale Rouge from Papillon Perfumery 

Creating a Magical Holiday Season that exceeds your Expectations!

 

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I love the colorful drama of Autumn, but when the last pumpkin is carved and the candy corn is all gone, I begin think about the daunting task of planning for the holiday season that lies ahead. Even for someone like me who has spent their entire life in the business of making dreams come true, planning endless parties and events can be overwhelming! I get asked all of the time for ideas to help create a wonderful holiday season for family and friends all while enduring the frantic pace of everyday life!

One of the most important things that I have learned is that great holidays don’t just happen unless you plan for them!  I’ve discovered over the years that very few are truly comfortable expressing their needs around the holidays. We're usually spending all of our time making the holidays successful for everyone else, and then we wake up the morning after Christmas and wonder why we're exhausted and just slightly unsatisfied.  My job is to help you do plan your holidays with ease this year so that when the last present is unwrapped and the last glass of champagne poured you are completely satisfied and that you've had a holiday season that exceeds your expectations!  

 All it really takes is the mastery of 2 very simple tools!

One of my favorite ways to have fun is to sit down at the beginning of the season with a blank sketchbook, lots of colored pens and a huge stack of magazines. If you want to do it online, Pinterest is a fabulous tool for creating dreamboards! Relax for a moment and then begin to write down or post your ideas .  Are there any friends who you’d like to invite over for cocktails or a Thanksgiving day football game? Christmas cards or a tree trimming  party? Cookie baking? Maybe you’ve always wanted to have a traditional Parisian Christmas eve or a black tie New Years? Maybe you don't want turkey for Thanksgiving or maybe this is the year that you want to try a different table arrangement.  How about caroling?   Don’t forget to include at least one fabulous holiday concert!

One of my goals this year is to get several of my friends together for a  gathering to create beautiful wreaths and swags.  It's so much fun when we all bring buckets of greenery from our gardens , share and create together! Another goal is to do one thing to prepare for the holidays each day, so that I am having fun doing something creative every day! I love cocktail parties so this is the season that I may throw a Solstice cocktail party in the Herban Inn and serve nothing but appetizers at 10:00 and dessert at midnight. 

 

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 When you’re ready, cut out pictures that appeal to you  and glue them onto the pages of your workbook. Take the markers and make notes about the things that you love about those images..concentrate on the feelings that they evoke and write those down too. 


 I encourage you to do this at first without thinking about budget, because I promise you that there’s a way to make almost any dream come true at  any price. That’s because once you begin to see your holiday take shape on those pages almost everything that you choose to do will begin to reflect your desires.  When you’re done dreaming break out your calendar and choose the dates for each of your activities, even card sending and cookie baking! 

Next, become a really great list maker! I resisted doing this for years, but I’ve learned the power that  simple lists made early in the season has to help you achieve your holiday goals!  Start now with menus, card and gift lists. Yes, I know that it's still October, but this makes shopping much easier and creates a template for your life over the next 2 months that will help you live happily and with as little stress as possible.

Remember too that the most precious currency that you can share is the gift of your time. All of the gifts, delicious food , music and glitter are simply the stage that we’ve set for you and your family to create wonderful memories together and never once in all of my years spent selling very precious gifts at Schreibman’s, did I ever eclipse the enchantment of the gift of time spent laughing and making new memories with family and friends.

You have my promise that when the tree has finally come down and the last bit of tinsel is swept away, that’s the present you’ll remember the most. 

My gift to you next week? A magical  holiday recipe from my mother’s collection!

Wishing you and yours an endless abundance of holiday sweetness....

 


Bewitching & Beautiful ~ Lancome's Magie Noire

 

I stumbled upon this review of Magie Noire that I wrote in 2007. It is as true for me today as it was when I wrote it...No perfume has ever made me as hungry as this one, at least not until recently when I discovered Liz Moores amazing new ode to passion and seduction, a bewitching little perfume called Bengale Rouge which I will write about on Samhain, the only day of the year where I could possibly do it as much justice as it deserves.  (BSG)

 

 

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I am a woman with a past. I won’t say anymore than that to protect the innocent who may be reading this, but I have lived life hungrily at times, too often with little or no restraint. My spiritual nature is way more heathen than religious.

I really do believe in magic.

Magie Noire came into my life in my very early twenties, and I know now that I was far too ignorant of its potency to wear it wisely. It was first given to me by a mysterious Scorpio woman, with cat-like green eyes, who was the CEO of the only woman owned steel brokerage in Cleveland. She gifted me with the perfume and a warning, that men adore it and to be very careful wearing it because it was the smell of abandonment and passion, not love. Wearing Magie Noire is a bit like unleashing a wild elemental spirit, something of the past but strangely disquieting in the fragrant autumn wind or a shiver of the spine so erotic that it’s not so easily understood. Initially there is the scent of honey and tuberose, bergamot and raspberry and according to Osmoz, blackcurrant, hyacinth and oriental rose. The delirium comes as the base of civet, patchouli , castoreum and vetiver are unleashed while your skin warms to their touch. Worn with suede it becomes a totally bewitching potion. Mixed with the breath of a gorgeous thoroughbred horse it is beguiling and animalistic to the point of wanton intoxication.

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Think of Kim Novak in “Bell, Book and Candle”, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman made wiser by their journey through “Practical Magic” and Catherine Deneuve in almost anything. This is not a fragrance for an ingénue, but for a sensual and independent woman who understands and desires the spell it will conjure.  My husband who unabashedly loves it and I usually only wear it for him,  yet it is the time of the Autumnal Equinox, the moon is almost full and I decided to go for a ride yesterday in the woods around dusk. It was a beautiful evening and I sprayed some on before I went. The light was dappled , the trail fragrant with wind-fallen apples and it was simply breathtaking. As we moved through the hunt field, my horse Henry pulled up short with a quiver that ran all of the way down his elegant sorrel neck. Out of the hedgerow came a cat I’d never seen before, black as midnight and just as quiet. We turned and followed her down the path.

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I told you, I really do believe in magic.

 

 

 

None of these photos are mine..obviously:) 


Just like Magic ~ In your Grandmas China Cabinet are the Ultimate Recyclables....

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My mothers Coalport Indian Tree Coral. I never tire of using it and remembering just how much she loved it. These things are made to be used, not hidden away for a another time. Another time never comes. Use them now and don't worry about it! 

Once upon a time my family owned a beautiful gift business, what would have been known in days past as a carriage trade store.  Schreibman Jewelers was  full of gorgeous china, crystal , silver and everything else beautiful. We had the largest bridal registry in Northeast Ohio and I spent my days setting tables, creating events and just generally making people very happy. I got to set tables for Julia Child, Jacque Pepin and Todd English. I was interviewed by Martha Stewart Living and Town and Country.  I worked in the business as a child..hello to anyone who has ever been part of a family business and in my adulthood,  for 30 plus years I got to be the best part of peoples lives. For the most part, nothing makes people happier than a wedding, except for the wedding gifts!  Every package we shipped out was beautifully wrapped and to this day, my old customers still stop me to let me know just how grateful they are that I encouraged them to register for those silver candlesticks that they thought that they'd never use, or that beautiful pewter tray that they fell in love with but was just impractical. I'm still a complete sucker for a beautifully wrapped package and nothing makes me happier than a handwritten thank you note. 

It has been said that I have a PhD in napkin folding:)

I closed my families business 16 years ago when it became apparent that times were changing. The internet had taken over ushering in discount branding and the big box stores were seducing everyone, everywhere with lower priced goods. Alas, what we tried to tell everyone was what they are finally realizing now....With generic brands that are available all across the country comes the problem of built in obsolescence , or in easier terms, if it stops making money, it stops being produced. In other words, a china pattern that you buy from a larger chain store today, has a great chance of not being available next year and the same goes for fine crystal and silverware. 

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If that weren't enough to sadden my porcelain loving heart, I read an article last year in the New York Times about millennials and how they don't want any if the beautiful things in our linen cabinets. I had to laugh to myself or I would have burst into tears. This is the same group that recycles and composts and they are missing one of the great solutions that's right in front of them. They have made Ancestry a huge multimillion dollar corporation and yet so many are missing the most important point. Porcelain isn't fragile and it doesn't disintegrate easily. They've pieced together entire civilizations from shards of broken dishes and pieces of silver and pewter. They've pieced together entire histories, her-stories and historical intrigues from a simple knife style or a monogrammed silver tray. 

Which should lead everyone to the same conclusion. Your mother and grandmothers dishes, linens, glasses and silver and pewterware are the ultimate recyclables. Think about it. Your mothers Haviland china has probably already had a pretty full life as the formal china you grew up with, but it doesn't mean that you need to use it formally. I use my mothers white and gold limoges dishes for everyday when I'm in the mood.  If it's 30 years old or younger, you can put it in the dishwasher...just let it get cold in the dishwasher before you take it out. The same goes for good crystal and silverware. take it out of it's cupboard and use it for goodness sakes! It's nothing to be afraid of. At the turn of the century, all meals were set with the good stuff...casual dishes really didn't come into vogue until the 60s when everything became so earthenware and earnest!  Designs from the earliest years of America are as classic and relevant today as they were 200 years ago. That's what good design is. 

Here's what I will promise you. There will come a time when you'll wish that you had some of these beautiful things from the not so distant past. You never know who is going to show up at your table for dinner and one lovely set of candlesticks, or that silver water pitcher that you didn't think you wanted can make all of the difference in how you feel about it when they do. 

Using the beautiful things that were once used by those you love or loved is a wonderful way to keep beautiful parts of your past magically alive in the present moment.

Remember, that conjuring these memories for your family is the most important thing of all...if you aren't going to use your beautiful things for your family, as much as possible, then you might as well box them up and send them to me..or someone else who will cherish them and make memories with them!

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Just kidding!  I want you to use them. If you do , you won't have to buy them again and this keeps alot of junk out of alot of landfills and don't even get me started about using cloth napkins. Yes...if you're a millennial concerned about the environment, you should be using cloth napkins. You don't get to worry about the environment if you're not doing this simple thing..Don't complain about laundering them. Here's my favorite secret. Wash them, put them in a cool dryer  and take them out and fold them while they're still warm. Then here's the secret. Put a lovely clean brick on top of them vertically,  once you've folded them all. You'll never iron them again when you see how well this works.

Faster than you can say Abracadabra....Perfectly flat, folded and pressed napkins...

You can thank me later:)