Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Working Vacation

I'm having a little working vacation at my house in the Bahamas.

I spent Sunday afternoon assembling these lounge chairs.  They are made of recycled plastic material and are extremely durable.

I took a break from working to attend  a designer handbag show at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge.  Harl Taylor was a Bahamian handbag designer until his untimely death in 2007. Taylor's bags have been carried by Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf's some celebrity owners include Oprah and Kimora Lee Simmons.  His mother has recently reissued his designs. 

The embellished straw bags are names for the women for whom they were created.

Click here to view the entire collection.

A gorgeous seaside setting with prosecco and mini cheesecakes served on sea grape leaves.  
Memorial Day is not celebrated in the Bahamas so Monday was a work day...meaning a fresh coat of paint on interior trim.
Did you celebrate Memorial Day with a parade or cookout?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Friday, May 27, 2011

Gel Manicure: Are The Claims True?

I was skeptical about gel manicures.Do they really last two weeks without chipping?  Well, dear Spiral Style readers, I tried the OPI Axxium Soak-Off Gel Lacquer and took photos every few days to show you how the manicure wears.

I choose the color Bubble Bath, a soft pink color that I've used in the OPI regular nail polish line.  The manicure took about 45 minutes.  The lacquer is "cured" under an ultraviolet light.

The manicure is still very shiny and no chips.  This is about the time regular nail polish is starting to loose it's luster.

My cuticles could use some attention but look at that shine and NO chips.

You can see that my nails are growing out but the lacquer still looks great and no chips or peeling

Time to remove the gel lacquer.  You can see on my thumb that my nails have grown out and I need a new manicure.  BUT still shiny and no chips or peeling. 

I am a gel lacquer convert.  For about $10 more than a regular manicure, a gel manicure will give you a shiny, chip-proof manicure lasting at least 2 weeks.  

Have you tried a gel lacquer or shellac manicure?  What has been your experience?

Have a great weekend.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lighted Pots

This is one of those, "wish I thought of that", ideas.

These lighted pots from yliving make fantastic outdoor drama.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Asparagus and Pistachio

Asparagus and Spring...synonymous.  
Asparagus and pistachio...sensational.

I had been searching for pistachio oil near my home in Michigan and to no avail.  While doing some research for my Paris trip, I read about a family owned,  artisan oil producing company.  

The Huilerie J Leblanc et Fils is a tiny shop lined with shelves that are filled with rows of bottled oils.  Each bottle is filled with intensely fragrant oil, most of which are nut flavors.  These small-batch oils are cold pressed at the company’s original mill in Burgundy. Each batch of oil requires more than 50 pounds of nuts, which are ground into a paste, roasted, then    cold pressed. The oils are unfiltered and unrefined.

Can I say it was well worth a trip to Paris to find this exceptional oil?  (like a trip to Paris needs a reason other than "it's Paris") The pistachio oil is so good I could pour it on ice cream.  The flavor is so intense that just a tiny bit is all that is needed.  I made an asparagus salad tonight with a light dressing of just fresh orange juice and a drizzle of pistachio oil.  Salt and pepper, chopped pistachios and orange zest finished the salad.  Divine.  

This is the salad that began my quest for pistachio oil.  

Sam Hoffer of My Carolina Kitchen featured her adaptation of a Giada De Laurentiis recipe combining grilled asparagus with melon, prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella.  Giada uses olive oil and pine nuts while Sam suggests pistachios and pistachio oil.  For my Easter dinner I compromised with olive oil and pistachios.  

If you love pistachios, try some with asparagus.  Be on the look out for pistachio oil and if you are a true fan of the flavor, you can purchase the J. Leblanc oil here and here.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Colorful Side Tables from Crate & Barrel

Who couldn't use an extra side table?

At less than $34, these colorful, tables from Crate & Barrel are about perfect.

The vivid tables are powder coated and suitable for indoors and out.  I picked up an orange and peacock colored table.   

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Motivation

After an incredible 10 days in Paris, I am home and preparing for an exceptionally busy week.  I was reviewing my vacation photos and came upon this tiny piece of the Monet water lilies at the Orangerie in the Tuileries gardens.

This work was painted for "peaceful meditation" 

Have a calm and productive Monday.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Images from Chateau de Vincennes

My time in Paris has come to a conclusion.
Here are some images from Chateau de Vincennes.
Have a lovely weekend and see you on Monday.

Hotel de ville Vincennes

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Candelaria, Izrael and Couscous

Wednesday was definitely a multi-cultural day for me in Paris.
These tacos were so good I took a bite before I remembered to take a photo. 
NYTimes photo
Candelaria is a miniscule restaurant in the Marais that has gotten recent attention with an article in the NYTimes T magazine.  
House-made tortillas are just the beginning of the authentic, fresh flavors found at Candelaria.

After lunch, I tracked down Izrael, an eclectic grocery store I had read about.  

You can find food and flavors from all over the world.  I even saw a package of Aunt Jemima pancake mix!   

I had lots of fun looking around but my one take-home find is this glass tube filled with a spicy oil and topped with an atomizer to spray the oil on salad, fish, or other food.  

Imagine sitting down to a table in a restaurant already set with these small plates of food!
This is how dinner began at our Tunisian couscous restaurant.  Lots of great flavors from cumin and dill.  
No way did I even get close to finishing this huge bowl filled with couscous, carrots, lamb sausage, beef and chickpeas.  I did manage to finish off the feast with mint tea(in one of my favorite Moroccan tea glasses) and some honey-laden treats.  

Please do not think that all I did on Wednesday was eat.  Mais no!  

Rounding out the culturally diverse day, I viewed the special exhibit at the Paris Museum of Jewish Art and History of Marc Chagall's illustrations of the Hebrew Bible.  I am a huge fan of Chagall ever since I viewed his amazing stained glass windows in the Marc Chagall Museum in Nice, France. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Garden Inspiration

Formal, casual, green and colorful: gardens are abundant in Paris.

Pleached trees in the Palais Royal.

Gardens at Carnavalet Museum

Garden near the Seine

Kitchen garden at Carnavalet Museum

Common street sight.

At cafe Les Deux Magot

Offerings at floral shop

Ready for container planting on the balcony

Do you prefer the precision look of a formal garden or a more colorful, casual look?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paris Passage

Paris is filled with passages or arcades known as galeries.
My new favorite is the Galerie Vivienne between the Bourse and Palais-Royal.
It is a lovely, bright space with high-end shops, a tea room, a wine shop and bistro.  

I spotted this moss covered bike outside a shop in the galerie.


French women are both elegant and trendy.
While "ballerinas" or ballet flats are a trend at the moment, they are at the same time timeless.  I've observed that at least 1 in 3 French women are wearing these comfortable shoes.
While shopping at Galeries Lafayette today, I spotted these ballerinas.

The divided soles allow for the shoes to be folded and stored in a pouch making them perfect for travel or just to keep in your bag for times when your feet deserve a break from heels.

Tres chic, n'est-ce pas?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sunday Afternoon in Paris

I spent a pleasant day wandering the street of the Marais,  Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint Louis.
Entertainment came in several forms.
Paris waiters race.

Orangina, celebrating it's 75 year anniversary sponsored the race.  200 waiters ran about 3 km while keeping intact their tray holding a bottle of Orangina, a glass filled with lemonade and the “limonadier”, the traditional bottle-opener. 

Just in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral was the Fete du Pain extolling the importance of bread to the French culture.  The judges looked very impressive wearing medals and toques.  More impressive was the display of beautiful brioche, croissants and artisanal breads. 

On the Pont St. Louis, a street entertainer delighted a gathered crowd.

A pleasant respite, La Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square and perfectly symmetric.  


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