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December 2010

Fashions, Passions and Feasts for all Seasons! My favorites of 2010!


Best of 2010[2]    

Ahhhh….What a year 2010 was and how can we already be ringing in the New Year, because it seems as if we were just doing that only months ago! But the New Year it is and it wouldn’t be right to end 2010 without a bit of a recap of some of last years favorites. Mind you many of these are not new,  but  for me new isn’t always better. To make my top ten list a product, experience or a person has to exhibit a few key  character traits, those being integrity, quality and  quite possibly the effect of rendering me breathless. Price doesn’t count, some of the best experiences being almost free. But what’s important to me is the ability of something or someone to bring me to tears or raise the hairs on the back of my neck.  This top ten list is filled with the things that did that to me this year.


   Walking the streets of New York City is one of those things that’s always guaranteed to bring me the sort of intense passion and pleasure  that transforms me, making me return to this beloved city of mine again and again.  The smell of yeasty pretzels and roasting chestnuts however?  If you’ve never had them, this IS the reason to visit New York .  I always make them my last treat of the day.  I smell them roasting long before I actually stumble upon the carts and their nutty sweetness and the smell of the fire just makes me incredibly happy.  Paying for them, flirting with the vendors and then walking back to my hotel happily eating them after a long day wandering one of the most interesting cities in the world is just one of those experiences that I live for a bit like falling asleep in my husbands arms after a really wonderful day…..Everyone needs a place in the world...besides my family, New York is mine.  

Another best for me this year bordered on the absolutely ridiculous and that was a meal at Nello, which I tend believe is the most impossibly pretentious restaurant in New York. We spent a lovely lunch there seeing and in our minds being seen and my husband who adores truffles ordered the truffled pasta. When Jim’s plate arrived I realized immediately that this particular lunch was going to be far pricier than we initially thought.  As the waiter lifted the cloche with a flourish, the most incredible scent was unleashed, wild, primal  and purely sensual …the aroma of a plate full of simply buttered pasta that was covered in paper thin shavings of fresh white truffle.  It was utter perfection and if he could have, Jim would have licked the plate clean and as it was I only got one bite!  The cost of this experience ? A shocking 250 dollars for just his plate of pasta. Would we do it again? Absolutely! It was flawless!

While we’re still traveling the streets of  New York, lets hop over to Brooklyn and talk about  CB’s I Hate Perfume’s newest release …2nd Cumming. While I’ve never smelled  the 1st Cumming,  I want to say that this perfume is magic. Based upon scent impressions  that range everywhere from sweat , single malt, tobacco and Scottish peat and more , the incomparably gifted Christopher Brosius  has created a scent that astonishes me with its overt sexuality, warmth and masculinity. I’ve never quite smelled anything like it. My husband put a bit of it on and I was quite overcome by the urge to have him drag me up the stairs to our bedroom, yet I also wanted to just lay nestled in his arms by the fireplace for awhile because it made me feel strangely safe and protected from the  winter winds that were howling outside the door. 2ndCumming is a sexy, sweaty Scotsman that’s wrapped in a wool tartan , fastened with a wee bit of frosty heather. You definitely know what’s not being worn under this mans kilt. There’s also a bit of steel in this one that fuels my wildest fantasies.  I can’t say anything else about it for my heads started to spin.  Just take my word for it,  try it   http://www.cbihateperfume.com/2nd-alan-cumming.html   and let me know what you think!


Speaking of lusty Scotsmen, Laphroaig  in all its vintages  has always been my single malt of choice. The overtly smoky, peaty quality of this lovely single malt  from Islay suits me and my particular passions in a way that others do not.  I’ve enjoyed it for years , ever since my father introduced me to it at the tender age of 16, saying to me “If you’re going to drink, you might as well  be drinking the best”.   My friends who love a sweeter smoother single malt would argue with me  about this but I’m very loyal .  I love it neat, drunk with just a touch of branch water in a simple crystal glass and there’s nothing else that I’d rather have in my hunting flask than an 18 year Laphroaig.  No other single malt in the world mixes as well with the sweet tang of horseflesh, woodsmoke and tangled briar.   For a more tantalizing look  at this delcious spirit go to  http://www.laphroaig.com/


Jamie oliver


It’s unusual for a TV show to hit my radar but this year Jamie Olivers “Food Revolution”  did just that. I’ve always thought that the fairly adorable Brit was an interesting sort of chap, but his recent foray into the mire of American food politics left me in tears at least 99% of the time.  Like all good British Knights of fabled past he journeyed into the West Virginia darkness, slaying the evil dragons of fast food and jaded lunch line ladies to bring awareness, cooking lessons and lovely food to the children and families of Huntington West Virginia.  He fought the almost insurmountable odds of radio talk show hosts who hated him and swayed their opinion of him with passion and simple facts.  He has been successful in his grail quest all over the United States,  bringing his clear and powerful homecooked and whole foods message into our communities.

I don’t know why Jamie Oliver has chosen us, but I’m assuming that it’s his passion for eating well and living beautifully  that’s enabled him to see and become dismayed about the many ways that we are compromising ourselves and our children  through the food and lifestyle choices that we’re making everyday. I’m grateful to him for bringing to me about 10 hours of the best TV that I’ve watched in years. While I’m at it, his magazine “Jamie” is one of the best food mags that I’ve read in years. It’s original, creative helpful and printed on recycled paper. Yes, I have the most enormous crush on him. He has the perfect combination of charm, brains, gardening and knife skills that I find completely appealing in a man and his accent doesn’t hurt at all! You can find out more at  http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution/petition



This year for Christmas both my husband and son were the delighted recipients of waxed cotton jackets from  J Barbour & Sons.  This company is astonishing in terms of the quality that they provide, from a wonderful product that does everything that it’s supposed to in the hunt field to a lock tight product guarantee and the ability to send your Barbour back at anytime to have it repaired and reproofed if anything  nasty happens to it.  They make coats for hunters and fishermen and they make the worlds sexiest long coat for riders like me who want to stay warm and dry but look absolutely dashing astride.  My son who is the biggest snob that I’ve ever met (in an Indie sort of way!) has sworn allegiance to Barbour as he puts it “Forever” .   His jacket is a fashionably edgy sort of jet black that fits him like a glove and  Jim’s is slate blue to match his impossibly gorgeous eyes.   Go to their site athttp://www.barbour.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=content.view and feast your eyes. I’m sure that you’ll find something you’ll love there!


Chanel Eau Premiere was a wonderfully fragrant surprise for me this year. I used to wear the venerable No. 5 all of the time  as my “go to”  LBT and pearls perfume  but sadly about 5 years ago  it turned against me.  So you can imagine my delight when I cautiously tried a sample of the No. 5  Eau Premiere gleaned from the September issue of Vogue and my husband’s eyes rolled delightfully into the back of his head.  Wanting a second  and possibly more rational opinion I wafted my wrist under my 23 yr olds nose who smiled and said “hmmm do you think that you can somehow get Cassie to smell that and let me know if she likes it?”  What ever they’ve done to create Eau Premiere is fabulous and in my mind completely outdoes the original.  To borrow a quote from the divine Marilyn Monroe,  ”What do I wear in bed? Why Chanel No.5 of course.” What else?  Why there’s nothing else!


Francis Kurkdijian’s  “A piece of me “ or APOM Por Femme is astonishingly beautiful as is Monsieur Kurkdijian himself!  Drenched in Orange blossom , cedarwood and YlangYlang this scent is at once beguiling and inviting , but invites further  intimate exploration as it doesn’t give up its secrets all at once.  I own the perfume and the candle…so lovely. The candle scents my entire living room without even being lit, but once lit glows in a way that only a candle made from the purest beeswax can do. Each candle comes with a zinc base and burns for hours.   FK’s  line of fragrant products is so completely original  yet they hearken back to a time when perfume was intelligent and fun.  There’s a bracelet, incense paper and Interior perfume and there is even a laundry detergent. But the most fun part this collection are his bubbles! Packed in small bottles with individual bubble wands they come in three scents , Cut grass, Mint and Pear. I can’t stop giving these as gifts….Yes I know. I’m such a child!  Explore these treasures for yourself at http://www.franciskurkdjian.com/eng/index.php


For  the finest perfume, most luscious fashions, the most gorgeous gifts, tableware and decorative accessories and then a luscious lunch to wash it all down with no other place has the ability to make my heart skip a beat like Bergdorf Goodman.  Bergdorf Goodman singlehandedly has the best selection of fine china, crystal and silver to be found  anywhere.  There simply isn’t another fine store left in this country with the depth and breadth of selection that Bergdorf’s has. Everything is beautiful, nothing is discounted and you can actually find gifts there in all price points, not the astonishingly exorbitant prices of the wannabe (read Tiffany and Company) other fine gift departments in the city.  All of my old friends are there ,Daum Crystal  , Steuben and Royal Copenhagen porcelain, Bernardaud and Haviland , Ercuis and Christofle …all of the beautiful things that you can hardly find anywhere else in the world.  If I have a Holy grail of gorgeous giftware, the 7th floor is it. Their collection of hotel and antique silver is astonishing, their home collections are breathtaking  and their sales associates are trained and know exactly what they are talking about!  At Bergdorfs you can touch almost everything without fear of having your hand slapped because they sincerely want you to enjoy the merchandise and buy it.  The stationary department , the candles , the little Maison Du Chocolat  counter ……every department is perfection. They will gift wrap and ship everything for you with ease.  The restaurant tucked delightfully along the Parkside has possibly the best sky view in Manhattan  for lunch.  For your own taste of  Bergdorfs go to http://www.bergdorfgoodman.com/


Well then last but not least, we’ve come to the favorite Christmas present that I gifted this year. If you’ve ever been to Paris, you’ve may have tasted the macarons from Laduree, quite possibly the most astonishing of all the French Patisseries.  My sister always brings me back fabulous little care packages of these treats when she’s there, perfect almond flavored treasures  filled with chocolate ganache and pistachio, passion fruit, lavander and dulce de leche etc etc... Well , one of my resolutions this year is to learn how to bake a fabulous macaron myself and now I can learn straight from the source because  now there’s Laduree Sucre- the recipes. This is a jewel of a cookbook, probably too pretty to use, but use it I will because it contains all of the dessert recipes that I could ever hunger for. Eclairs, Macarons, Meringues..if you can lust after it ,  the recipe’s there.  I  am inspired and you will be too! http://www.laduree.fr/v1/index_en.htm


Well, because it’s 2011 and because I actually forgot about it…I wanted to add one more experience, one more luscious meal.  In my life I am lucky enough to get to eat , drink and play in some of the  most delightful places  and I know that is a privilege.  But lest this list be too lofty, I wanted to share my favorite meal of 2010 which is quite possibly my favorite meal every year. Burton Ohio where I used to live is home to the Great Geauga County Fair, which is the oldest county fair in Ohio. It is also the best fair that I’ve ever been to.

When we moved away from the country my husband promised me that we would always return for the fair and he’s been true to his word.  This fair is the real deal, filled with wonderful farm animals, draft horses, goats and cows and they have a midway that is second to none. Every year I return for what I consider the most evocative meal that I eat all year. It is simply cornbread and swiss cheese on a stick, deep fried ,meltingly soft and slathered with mustard. Accompanying this is a tall cup homemade birch beer , fresh sweet potato fries and an ear of roasted local sweet corn    dipped in butter and dusted with salt and pepper. Every year I eat this with my husband and we walk hand in hand around the huge fairgrounds nestled in a place that was our   home for over 22 years.  The meal costs about 5 dollars and the memories are priceless. It is the meal that I would request as my last if there were time for that opportunity. 

As we ring in the New Year and bid goodbye to the old, I want to wish all of you a very happy  and safe New Year. Thank you for visiting my little piece of the world here on the World Wide Web. You may never know just how much I appreciate you all but if my words can convey such sentiments, please know that you are a cherished part of my world!

I am participating in this Best of 2010 blogging event with some of the finest bloggers and perfumistas that I know! I'm honored to be in their company! Please visit their websites listed below and leave them some love!


See you next year!

The Windesphere Witch



The Very Best of 2010 image by Roxana Villa/ Used with permission

All other photographs used courtesy of their .coms










A Perfect Pot of Christmas Tea!


Lately, I've really been drinking alot of good tea. I've reread every book about tea that I own and went out and bought a few more. I've fantasized endlessly about opening a tea room or perhaps a salon where all my friends could come and have a wonderful cup of tea and a sandwich while they relax and just enjoy some really great time together. 

This fascination about afternoon tea has been with me for a very long time, actually ever since I was a little girl. Fortunately for a child like me, I had a mother with wonderful taste, who made it a point to introduce me to the art of afternoon tea very early in my life! Some of my most favorite memories are of the darling silver child sized tea set that was her grandmothers, now passed on to my sister's loving care.  It was lovely and she let us play with it whenever we wanted.  

This same mother, used to bring me tea and breakfast in bed when I was sick, on beautiful cornflower and white breakfast dishes. Somehow, I always got better quickly, but not until I'd milked at least two more days of lavish spoiling out of her! Every mothers day for years we returned the favor bringing her eggs and asparagus with hollandaise, toast , tea and the bluebells that she loved that always bloomed in her gardens that time of the year. 


No matter where I've been in the world that I traveled with my mother, we always made time for tea. (Martini's too, but that's another story!) High teas, breakfast teas, luncheon teas, bridal teas , tea dances...whatever the occasion we created a tea party for it! So many of the promotions that we did at Schreibman's were tea parties. There's just something about little sandwiches ,wonderful cookies and Wedgwood teapots that just makes anyone, even a very masculine man feel very romantic! I love to go down to our Ritz Carlton here in Cleveland during the holidays to enjoy their High Tea. The hotel is so beautifully decorated and the perfect antidote to the endless whirlwind of holiday shopping. For a moment the madness stops and you can just sit and savor a delicate tea sandwich and a delicious glass of chilled champagne. A little ritual such as this makes braving the Christmas madness so much easier!

The other day I was delighted to partake of a marvelous Christmas tea given by my good friends at The Village Herb Shop in Chagrin Falls ,Ohio. While there I was served a most lavish tea, with gorgeous sandwiches, fancy sweets and one of the most unusual peppermint flavored sugars that I'd ever tasted. Completely inspired when I got home I made a wonderful simple mint syrup, (which is just as good in mint juleps on Derby Day!) and went to brew a pot of tea. Imagine my horror when I realized that even after two decades in the family business where I handled the most beautiful china, crystal and silver that you could imagine, that I didn't even have a simple teapot with which to brew a some really good tea!


Now all of my former friends in the fancy china business probably won't speak to me after I say this, but say it I will...I truly don't believe that you can brew a really good pot of tea in a fancy teapot! Now, nothing is  lovelier than tea served in lovely porcelain , silver or Limoges teapot...just not brewed! The English (who have made an entire lifestyle out of tea!) , know this well, which is why they created the teapot that I set out to find....The classic Brown Betty!

"Brown Betty Teapots are still made in Stoke-on Trent, formed from clay which comes from the same area where Elder Brothers found clay in 1695. The method of producing was known as' Jolleying' but over the years it has been modified to slip casting which gives the pot an even thickness and a smooth finish both inside and out. Generations of Englishmen have proved that the Brown Betty, as these Red Ware teapots are affectionately known, make the best pot of tea in the world. The shape of the pot causes the tea to be gently swirled around as the boiling water is added. The Red Terracotta Clay with its Rockingham Glaze, holds the heat better and gives the perfect cup of tea."

Well now that's quite a reputation to live up to, but I have discovered this to be the finest teapot that I've ever used! She's quite full bodied, with a lovely round shape dressed with a beautiful brown glaze inside and out, made with solid red clay thso earthy and warm to the touch! I warmed her up with hot water while I waited for the water for the tea water to boil, dumped the water out and put the tea inside and added the boiling water. Then I waited bloody impatiently for the requisite 5 minutes that it takes to brew a great pot of tea!

Well to make a long story short, it was wonderful, actually the best pot of tea that I'd ever made. 


I found a lovely Wedgwood cup poured my tea and stirred in the mint syrup! It was a Heavenly cup of tea, better than I'd ever imagined! I sat down with my normal stack of 10 plus magazines, sipped it quietly and woke up several hours later relaxed and completely refreshed.

You can find fabulous loose tea almost anywhere these days, and the choices to be made...black or green? Herbal or Gunpowder? are almost endless. If you're a coffee drinker and I was a two latte' a day kind of witch you'll find that things are much less jittery and a lot more relaxed. Making a simple pot of tea and a few lovely sandwiches to go with it just make the day a little more civilized. Here's my recipe for the Mint syrup. You don't have to make it, you can buy it but it won't be quite as fresh tasting. In my mind it's better to take the time and spoil yourself lavishly with the results!

You will need:

1 1/2 cups packed fresh mint leaves ( I really like to use spearmint if I can find it, but any of the mints will do!)

1 cup sugar

A 1/8 teaspoon of good vanilla

1 cup water

Finely chop the mint. In a saucepan bring sugar, water and mint to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer syrup, undisturbed, 2 minutes.Add Vanilla and pour the syrup through a fine sieve if you want the syrup to be clear or leave the chopped mint in there.  Let cool and put into a non-reactive bottle or jar. This syrup will keep well, covered and chilled, 2 weeks.



Photographs courtesy of The Ritz Carlton Cleveland, Brown Betty Teapots, Kirk Stieff/Replacements and



Perfume Illuminated: Eggnog


My brother in law Peter is a quiet, very laid back research scientist. 362 days of the year he is a semi strict vegetarian, who hardly ever touches alcohol, let alone massive amounts of eggs and cream! However on Solstice Eve,  Christmas day and New Years eve, he has been known to ask me for this eggnog and being the terrific guy that he is, I never refuse to make it for him! It's simply known in our family as Peter's eggnog and it's delicious! It's so easy to make and it's even better when served in a punchbowl surrounded by spicy yuletide greenery! You can make the recipe from scratch if you desire and if I have the time sometimes I will using whole organic eggs, milk, sugar and cream, but frankly when the good organic eggnogs are so plentiful why bother (and you have the added bonus of not having to worry about raw eggs)! Also, if you have anyone in your family who is allergic to milk, don't forget about Silk's soy eggnog or SoyNog as I believe it's called! Actually all of the milk substitutes (actually I think that it is a disservice to call them that as they are delicious in their own rights!) are fashioning wonderful eggnogs that you can use as the base for this recipe.  They're absolutely delicious  and you will be able to serve a delicious and festive holiday beverage that leaves no one feeling left out! The good news this year is that you don't even have to omit the whipped cream because theres a fabulous whipped rice cream available in a can and ready to use like Redi Whip. Made by Soyana, you should be able to find it at your local Whole Foods.

At any rate every year  , people beg me for this recipe and I'm always so embarrassed to tell them just how easy it is...with this one it's all in the presentation (and the rum!) At last years Winter Solstice party I think that we went through about 3 punch bowls of it and lots of the RSVP's for this years party start with "Ill see you around the eggnog bowl!" 


All you will need is :


3 quarts of organic eggnog ( Please splurge on the organic, you won't be sorry!)


About 2 cups of really good rum! I personally love the Captain Morgan's special reserve spiced rum for this recipe. It's already infused with spices and vanilla.... practically perfume! ( And I have been known to use it as such!)

 About 6 cups of dried raisins that you've soaked for about 6 hours in some brandy,reserving the brandy for the eggnog as well! 

Lots of creme chantilly  , aka whipped cream that has been infused with vanilla extract, simple sugar syrup and some rum flavoring.


A liberal sprinkling of ,


Nutmeg for joy and good luck, Cinnamon for love and prosperity and Allspice for good health throughout the year!


The recipe itself is quite easy, simply put the eggnog into a punch bowl and whisk in the rum and brandy. Ladle the creme chantilly onto the eggnog so that it looks like fluffy clouds of cream, sprinkle with the spices and serve. Put some of the raisins in each serving. You will need to add more whipped cream on top as the evening unfolds because the creme chantilly gets folded into the eggnog, making it AMAZING! Serve in a lovely punch glass or a pretty tea cup with a kiss and a wish for a marvelous New Year!