Wednesday, May 19, 2010

stay in the loop while you're out and about....

One might argue that the point of going on vacation is to unplug- literally. Unplug from your computers and modems, your phones and tvs and appliances. To completely get away from the rat race of our daily lives, and this is all true. I completely agree… with one little caveat.

We can only unplug for so long before our jobs and lives demand we return, or else. Most of us cannot go away for months on end and expect our jobs to be there waiting for us when we return. So what if by plugging-IN while on vacation, just a little, we could then stay on vacation twice as long??? If by using the convenience of the very technology we are trying to escape, we can do just enough work to keep our lives and jobs moving along, short vacations can become indefinite hiatuses.

I gave this a lot of thought while on vacation in the Abacos a few years ago. Cerulean was a fledgling little business that needed me, I was sure. How could it go on for 10 days while I was away? I found people I relied on and left it in good hands, and I was home before anything disastrous could happen.

But if I had been on email for a certain period of time every day of that vacation, those 10 days could easily have become a month without major affects to my livelihood. Think about the possibilities! While we go on vacation to escape the overload of technology in our lives, the RIGHT use of technology can send us on a semi-permanent vacation! It’s ironic that bringing work on vacation can in essence extend that vacation, but it’s a thrilling concept, none the less.

As someone who’s REAL life’s ambition is to travel, maybe live somewhere exotic one day, this is a thrilling idea. Without completely cutting off my life, my job or my livelihood, I can hit the road! I can be checking emails in a marketplace in Marrakech, or emailing customers about the fit of a particular shoe from a beach in Bora Bora, or talking on the phone with designers about next season’s collection from Costa Rica. Work goes on and I’m not missing a thing, but Im also able to experience great adventures and other cultures at the same time! All of this is now possible with our phones and the widespread availability of wireless internet, which wasn’t possible just a short number of years ago.

Grace Bonney, founder of style and interiors blog Design*Sponge, recently contributed a guest post on a tech blog about this very thing. We have been obsessed with her inspiring blog for ages and her ideas about using technology to allow you to leave the office, not be chained to it, was right in line with my way of thinking. Check out all the different Apps she uses to stay in the loop while she’s out and about.

You can check out her blog, Design*Sponge, by clicking here, and her tech post by clicking here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I am obsessed with anything Mexican, Latin, or Spanish… and so cinco de mayo is always one of my favorite holidays. We had a little soiree last night with good friends under twinkle lights and papel picado banners (the cut tissue paper garlands) with fresh margaritas and homemade tamales. Summer temperatures have arrived along the Gulf Coast (along with a depressing oil slick, it would seem) and so we stayed cool with our fresh cocktails and a shady spot under the trees until the sun went down. You wouldn’t believe how many limes you have to squeeze to get one good margarita, but its worth it. And tamales are much easier than you would think- once you figure out what kind of peppers to buy and plan on soaking the corn husks way in advance, it’s all pretty easy and cheap! Of course the first round of margaritas went down too easy, and by the end of the evening we were in heated political debates and trying on dresses in the Cerulean stock room late night. Nothing like some post-cocktail shopping! Sadly, most of the photos didn’t turn out since we dined on a dimly lit screened porch- you couldn’t get a feel for the fiesta. Below is what we have… while the image of a few of the guests came out all blurry, I love it that you are getting a frame by frame laugh!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

TOMS shoes deal...

Cerulean is offering our customers a special deal through Toms shoes this Mother’s Day! Save $5 On Any Pair of Toms Shoes! Click here to activate your code and then enter coupon code MOTHERS at checkout. Offer expires 5/16/10

About Toms Shoes
TOMS was born in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie out of a commitment to produce stylish, comfortable, and practical footwear while improving the lives of children around the world.Every pair sold is personally matched with a donated pair to a child in need. TOMS collection is inspired by Alpargatas, the trusted utility shoe of Argentine workers. “I was overwhelmed by the spirit of the South American people, especially those who had so little,” Mycoskie says.“And I was instantly struck with the desire – the responsibility – to do more.”The shoes are composed of high quality, durable materials including lightweight, breathable canvas, resilient soles and soft leather in soles for maximum comfort.TOMS functions under the credo of No Sweatshops and all of the materials and products are produced and manufactured in Argentina under the strictest guidelines, ensuring both fair labor practices and minimal impact on the environment.

About Blake Mycoskie
After years of successful entrepreneurial endeavors, Blake Mycoskie put his life on hold and took a well deserved extended vacation.First stop, South America. Brazil, Uruguay and finally Argentina in January 2006, Mycoskie quickly immersed himself into the Argentine culture; he learned to sail, tango and play competitive polo.He unquestionably felt at home in the foreign land, invigorated and inspired.However, Mycoskie quickly became aware of the difficulties of the impoverished people in Argentina. He was challenged emotionally as he visited villages without fresh water and where few, if any, of the children had shoes. The lack of basic needs contributed to many health issues, infections, and in the most extreme circumstances, even death. “Inspired by a traditional Argentine shoe and challenged by continent’s poverty and heath issues, I created TOMS with a singular mission: To make life more comfortable,” says Mycoskie. TOMS accomplishes this through a unique shoe and Mycoskie’s commitment to match every pair purchased with a pair to a child in need…no complicated formulas, it’s simple…you buy a pair of TOMS and TOMS gives a pair to a child on your behalf.

Friday, March 19, 2010

guest travelogue: courtney barton

“What a long strange trip its been”

My friend Courtney Barton, former co-Hollywould employee and blogger extraordinaire, has just returned to her homeport of Kuala Lumpur from an adventure in India and Nepal. The images she shared with us along the way were mind blowing (I hope she is working on a book!) and I wanted to share some with you guys. It has inspired me to make a similar journey- I just need to borrow her itinerary!

I have to add that she looks fabulous in a turban, and I think this is a trend that needs to resurface. Everyone looks better poolside with a good martini and a turban. I also love the vintage-quality of these first few images.

Below is an excerpt from her fabulous blog, in(side) the loop, about her recent travels. Click here to visit her blog for the full shake down.

“I'm finally back and it will take a while to digest the full intensity of India and Nepal, not to mention the deluge of photos I snapped along the way.

The trip was certainly trying at times with the barrage of touts, hardcore negotiations when purchasing everything from chewing gum to antiques, an overnight ride on the Indian Railways, and [holy] cow feces projected onto my legs not once, but twice—yet I still found myself in constant awe of the unforgettable sights. I interviewed a princess, watched a Hindu cremation ceremony on the Ganges, rode camels into the sand dune sunset, and ate my weight in garlic naan [which, by the way, is as close to Nirvana as I've ever been]. These memories will forever be impressed in my mind and soul.”

I'm dying to get a hold of these slippers. Heaven on earth is a marketplace selling handmade shoes!

windy city...

Just spent an amazing few days in (a surprisingly warm) Chicago with friends. The sun was shining, the food was to die for, and the shopping was killer, literally. We hit every shop and tea spot from Michigan Avenue to Bucktown and Lincoln Park, and most of what was in between. Nursing a cold, but determined to enjoy everything the windy city has to offer (at least, everything that can be enjoyed in only a few days) we made our way along the river, dyed an abnormal green for St Paddys Day.

A few highlights of the trip…

The Art Institute- As an art fanatic (art major and I have worked for an Art Museum for the last four years) I was in heaven. But my (less artistically inclined) spouse was just as amazed at their permanent collection as I was. Everywhere you turn is another Monet or Picasso, Cindy Sherman, or El Greco. It was almost laughable the big names gracing their walls! We missed a Matisse exhibition by only a few days (poor planning on my part) but I hope some of you go see it for me! The American Art from 1960 was the best…

111 South Michigan Avenue
Winslow Homer, American, 1836-1910, The Water Fan, 1898/99

Chicago deep dish pizza- This deep dish pizza hit the spot after a few hours exploring the streets. Tomato sauce on top of the cheese works perfectly for me (so I can swiftly remove it from my pie- personal preference). My friend Jennifer says you can order the deep dish and have it overnight-delivered anywhere in the country, but without the deep dish pans or the perfect ovens, it isn’t quite the same when cooked at home.

Tea at the Peninsula Hotel- Scones, tea sandwiches, a huge list of teas and impeccable service. This was the perfect respite from a tiring day of shopping. Life is hard.

108 E Superior St
Red Light- A Chicago favorite for pan-Asian fare in a funky atmosphere. Wrinkled green beans and Lychee martinis are a must. I ate too much, as usual.

820 W. Randolph

Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House- Enormous portions of fresh fish, oysters, lobsters and shrimp, foot tall key lime pie, and an Irish Bagpipe band to boot? We had a good time, especially since it was the night before St. Paddy’s day!

1024 North Rush Street

One I hated to miss...
Hot Chocolate
I had plans to visit Hot Chocolate, a cozy little place on Damen run by three-time James Beard nominee Mindy Segal. Just the mention of the term Gastropub gets me salivating like Pavlov’s dog. The menu promised Mussels with bacon, shallots, garlic, PBR, and local chiles. YUM! House-made, beer-poached soft pretzels with Taleggio fondue- ahh! To-die-for Mac and Cheese, Burgers, and Entrees, but the piece de résistance are the desserts. Mindy is a pastry chef, after all. It is on the top of my list for my next trip to Chicago.

1747 North Damen Avenue

Monday, March 1, 2010

inspiration: florence, italy...

While looking through some photos from a recent trip to Italy, I came across these images of the Duomo in Florence and the view from the top of the dome. The sights, sounds and smells of this day are all fresh in my memory. We had just left an amazing cafe serving pesto pea pizzas and buffalo mozzarella that was more similar to ice cream than cheese. As an art history major, I was soaking up all of the art and architecture. The climb to the top of the dome did a hat trick on my claustrophobia, but the view from the top was worth every moment stuck in a cramped large, spiraling staircase between the inner and outer domes.

Inspired by the colors of these images- the soft grays, pale green, terracotta, and loads of white- I put together this sampling of Cerulean. You can call it, living in images of Florence.

Monday, February 15, 2010

the saints go marching in...

While we all know the Super Bowl took place in Miami this past Sunday night, I knew the party was going to be happening in New Orleans. So we headed down there early Sunday morning to check out the festivities and enjoy some amazing Creole cuisine in the French Quarter.

By 11 am an impromptu parade was gearing up made up of revelers in black and gold head to toe. There were plenty of gold spandex unitards, fleur de lis, and glitter wigs, dogs wearing Brees jerseys and normally bizarre street performers being outdone by locals on parade. An incessant chorus of “Who Dat?” wafted from the streets and the insides of buildings and fell down on us from the balconies above Bourbon. The city was more alive than it is on Fat Tuesday and everyone… I mean everyone… was having a good time.

We settled in for a delicious lunch at my favorite, Galatoire’s, with piping hot French bread, cocktails and oysters flowing to our table from the kitchen. We shared fresh lump blue crabmeat prepared numerous ways, pan fried fish and café brulot that Billy flambeaued with such panache. (image above) Periodically some of the revelers from outside would parade through the white table cloth establishment carrying boom boxes blasting “When the saints come marching in”. Diners waved white napkins in the air and chanted “Who dat” back to the paraders (who, we were told, were friends of the chef). The spirit got to such a frenzy that anytime someone- ANYONE- walked through the door of the restaurant, diners stood up and cheered them! It was a spectacular day to be in New Orleans.
Good thing we were not in a hurry to get anywhere, because the city shut down all streets leading in and out of the French Quarter and the party intensified. Mardi Gras meets the Super Bowl equals a fantastic New Orleans kind of day! Below are pictures of Saints parades both on the streets and through Galatoire’s.

Given the excitement about the Big Easy with the Super Bowl win and Fat Tuesday just around the corner, we thought this was a good time to share our New Orleans City Guide. Full of our favorite spots to eat and shop, this travel guide will take you through the cities delights from Bourbon Street down Magazine Street and all through Uptown.

Click here to check out our New Orleans City Guide…

Sunday, January 31, 2010

eating your way through nyc...

As promised, we tried some new and notable restaurants while in New York City last week amidst the most intense cold snap imaginable. We also, unfortunately, tried some not-so-notable places, but the good out-weighed the bad on this trip. Here are two stand outs…

Company is a pizza place right next to… nothing… on 9th avenue and 26th street. While you probably won’t ever be in the neighborhood, its worth a trip for the thin pizza pies on a soft crust with fabulous toppings. Most notable were the “Popeye” which had fresh spinach, toasted until crisp in the giant pizza ovens over gobs of melted gruyere and buffalo mozzarella, and the "Flambe" (reminiscent of the Alsatian Tarte Flambee) with caramelized onions, lardons and béchamel. Don’t let the faux fireplace blazing on a big screen tv fool you- the food is authentic and delicious. They don't take reservations and tables are communal, but it kind of adds to the fun.
230 Ninth Avenue, New York,

History and contemporary sensibilities collide at Commerce, housed in the newly restored Grange Hall in Greenwich Village, once a Depression-era speakeasy (and formerly The Blue Mill Tavern). Tiny and bustling and tucked away on one of those streets you would miss if you blinked, the cocktails are divine and the food is too. I dined on roasted sweet potato tortelloni with hazelnuts, pomegranate and a buerre noisette, as well as sazeracs and champagne cocktails with house-made grenadine. It was a fabulous evening staying warm and catching up with old friends in a bistro-style café on a back street on a cold night.
50 Commerce Street, New York,

Of course we hit some tried and true favorites that can’t be missed when in New York- Pastis for a brunch of oysters, croque monsieur, pomme frites and café au lait, and Le Pain Quotidian for flaky croissants, steel cut oatmeal and herb teas. If I hadn’t walked about a thousands miles while there, I know I would have come home twice my original size. But that is the beauty of Yew York- eat divine food and then walk it off through Central Park!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

bundled up, then and now...

Heading to New York for a chilly weekend of buying and meetings with importers from around the world- hoping to find some fabulous things for this Spring! I have an appointment with a silk importer who has some fabulous new colors for the Julie dress, and we plan on bringing back lots of Moroccan baskets, silk scarves and beach cover ups for the warmer months ahead.

I came across this photo yesterday of little bitty me in an adorable yellow coat in Rockefeller center right after my fourth birthday. Wish I could look this cute this weekend while I’m bundled up to beat the 15 degree weather. But I do promise to try some new restaurants and share the scoop, as well as visit some old favorites. I can’t go to New York without a trip to Le Pain Quotidian, Pastis and Café Habana!

Monday, January 18, 2010

winter citrus...

Citrus is everywhere right now, being fresh in season, and I am constantly looking for new recipes to use up all the gorgeous satsumas (made marmalade), lemons (see the lemon meringue torte) and grapefruits that friends and neighbors have been sharing. What I love about these perfect fruits is that they aren’t perfect at all. A real lemon fresh off a tree looks nothing like the plastic-y perfect fruit found in most grocery stores! The outsides are blemished and rough, and the insides are heaven on earth. I may be biased, but I think the further south you go the better the citrus becomes, and it keeps me thinking of south Florida this time of year.
The absolute, without question, best fruit stand in south Florida is Robert Is Here on the way to the keys. So pack your convertible, save room for a bushel or two of produce and head to Homestead. Robert Is Here Fruit Stand was established in the late fall of 1959. At that time, a six-year-old boy was set on this very corner with some of his father’s cucumber crop and told to “Sell ‘em!” Robert sat all day that Saturday and no one even stopped. That evening, Robert’s father decided that “there can’t be that many people who don’t like cucumbers; they must not see this little boy standing here on the corner.”

The next day, Robert’s father placed a sign on each side of the table proclaiming in big red letters “Robert Is Here.” By noon Robert had sold all of the cucumbers. The following weekend, a neighboring farmer added tomatoes to Robert’s display and a fruit stand was born. Robert was out on the corner every day during Christmas break, and when school started again in January of 1960, Robert’s mother made arrangements for the bus to pick him up and drop him off at the fruit stand. He and his mother would set up the stand each morning and leave a coffee can on the table. Customers paid by leaving the money in the can using the honor system. The bus would drop Robert off after school and he would work his stand until it got dark. By the time Robert was nine years old, he had hired a neighbor lady to work for him while he was in school. Robert bought his first ten-acres of property when he was fourteen and planted an avocado grove.

Specializing in all sorts of tropical fruits, including some you’ve never heard of, Robert also sells canned produce using his mother’s recipes, makes up fresh shakes and smoothies and other goodies, and often has live music playing. It’s an experience.
Robert is Here 19200 SW 344th Street. Homestead, FL

Head out from Robert Is Here down South Dixie Highway and Highway One and you’ve reached the Keys. One of the best meals I’ve ever had was at the Marquesa in Key West on New Year’s Eve several years ago. One block from the famous (and rowdy) Duval Street, this former Catholic boardinghouse painted pale aqua-blue and yellow houses an award-winning boutique hotel and restaurant. The “innovative” Café Marquesa serves "fine Caribbean-Continental" food. The hotel rooms, restored 1884 conch houses, are situated around a little secluded garden oasis where we were served champagne on New Years after our amazing dinner of Lamb. Rated number 1 in Florida by Travel & Leisure Magazine, the hotel made their list of the 500 of the Worlds Best Hotels. The best part about it? Today’s weather report reads Sunny and 74 degrees.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

a delicious new year...

While I don’t normally have an overly large sweet tooth, the cold weather of the past few weeks has kept me indoors eating nothing but stews and sweets. Not a terrible life. I recently tried a recipe for a three layer lemon cream filled meringue tower that was to die for. Three large flat meringues (almost the size of a pie) are layered with a homemade lemon curd full of tons of tangy zest folded with homemade whip cream. And repeat the layers and repeat again. If you can avoid eating the entire thing in one sitting, you are stronger than I. Thought the least I could do was share the recipe…

I didn’t take any pictures of my towering lemon confection, but I found a picture of a similar concoction in Gourmet Magazine July 2009. They used berries instead of lemon, but the concept is the same.
Lemon Meringue Torte
6 egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ tsp vanilla
6 egg yolks
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 ½ TB lemon juice
2 TB lemon zest
1 ¼ cup whipping cream
3 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Beat egg whites until stiff in a electric mixer. Gradually add 1 ½ cups sugar and ¾ tsp vanilla. Divide the meringue mixture into thirds and pour onto a baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Spread to the diameter of a pie pan. (tip: I took an old pie pan and traced the outline on the parchment, then flipped the parchment over so you don’t get pen or pencil marks on your meringue. Makes gauging the right size of each meringue much easier) Bake one hour.

In a medium bowl beat egg yolks. Add remaining sugar, lemon juice and zest. Cook over a double boiler until thick (consistency of pudding), stirring occasionally. Cool. Whip cream with an electric mixture until it forms soft peaks. Whip in remaining vanilla. Remove cooled meringues from parchment and place the first on a cake stand (plate will do but its not as pretty). Spread with 1/3 the lemon cream. Layer the second meringue and repeat with filling. Repeat again. Thinly slice a lemon or two and place on top for decoration. Keep refrigerated. Serves 10. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

notable words...

“hidden talent… counts for nothing.” – nero

We’ve waxed poetic about the lost art of letter writing before, and stand by the merit of letter press cards. Last summer we found the most amazing boxes of letterpress stationary and cards handmade in New Jersey that we sold out of in no time at all. But someone just told us about some cards of a different sort. Still exquisite in their handmade nature, these cards send a distinct and quirky message to your recipient. Each card is emblazoned with a quote from (in)famous historical figures (read dictators) that will leave you belly laughing at the hilarity, absurdity, brilliance or cruelty. Letterpress printed in Brooklyn on 100% cotton, Dictator Goods “was founded to occupy the intersection of handcrafted, high design and brazen irreverence.” Have a look and enjoy- a good laugh and some high quality stationary are guaranteed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

it’s complicated… december 2009

Happy holidays! Here’s hoping everyone had a good break, some quality family time, maybe a few gifts and a moment or two under the Mistletoe?? All of this, and a movie too. There is something about getting out of the house on a cold day when you know there is no school or work in the morning and enjoying a great movie with an obscenely large box of popcorn (go ahead and add that butter too). Hollywood saves some great ones for a late December release, and It’s Complicated made my list this year. I, of course, love everything Meryl Streep does: Devil Wears Prada, Out of Africa, Julie and Julia, and that only scratches the surface of her resume. While enjoying this romantic comedy I kept noticing Cerulean in frame after frame! Espadrilles (a’ la Toms shoes), Matta dupatta scarves, straw baskets and on an on! I knew we liked this film for a reason! Below are some movie stills (Universal pictures 2009), as well as a few products we saw in the film and a few more we thought Meryl’s character would love. I’m coveting her glamorous Spanish villa in the California hills overlooking the ocean, but she can keep all the “complicated”.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

christmas wish list...

Now that it’s December and the holidays are upon us, Christmas music blares through our office while we wrap presents for customers and send them off to each of the 50 states. We’ve shipped Matta sandals to Hawaii and Virginia Johnson merino shawls to upstate New York. Pom Pom Throws are a favorite gift in Florida, and Nashville loves our many versions of Chai Tea Glasses. I’ve wrapped more than a few gifts myself for friends and family, but of course I can’t tell you what is in those packages or it will spoil the surprise. How about I just tell you what’s on my list this year? I have a very long list, so here are just a few.

Subscriptions to my favorite magazines, including Coastal Living and Elle Décor. Cant get enough of them. Black leather and gold studded wrap bracelet. It is tough and ladylike at the same time. I’m getting one to punch up my work wardrobe.

Tweed Wool Fox hunting jacket- I’m new to the sport and want a really well-made tweed hunting jacket for those cool fall days on horseback. Don’t worry- nothing is killed when I hunt except a flask of whiskey!

Virginia Johnson gauze merino wool scarves- a new shipment of brand new prints arrived at our offices yesterday, and I’m coveting the blue seaweed print. Love it.

Bright white Vespa- I’ve wanted one for years but finally live in a place where I won’t get killed in traffic. I’d love to be zooming around town on one of these! Think of the gas mileage??

Matta silk and cotton pom pom scarves are flying out of our stock room as fast as we can gift wrap them this holiday. I must get one before they are gone- but which color??

Erno Laszlo skin care is absolutely addictive. Once you understand the clocking system (a little more confusing that it has to be) you skin will thank you.

Jonathan Adler sofa will look fantastic in my living room- but I must learn the self control to keep the dog off! Will it ever happen? I’m not so sure, but I have it on good authority that Jonathan lets his dog on his.

Turquoise and chocolate leather belt is a much more sophisticated take on the typical southwest turquoise. I’m hoping to have this to wear to my more casual holiday parties over a fitted blazer.

These Mystique coral, wood and rhinestone sandals are to die for in the softest suede imaginable. I think it’s worth planning a trip somewhere warm just so I can wear them asap.

Friday, November 27, 2009

thanksgiving getaway...

Spent the thanksgiving holiday in the mountains, which certainly puts you in the mood for the holidays. A fire roaring, hikes in the crisp air, warm roasted meals and friends. I started my very own bonfire, roasted the world’s most perfect smores (if I say so myself), made time for some antiquing, and took in the obligatory football game or two. All in all, a nice holiday. (DeSoto Falls shown below)

But of course Im already dreaming of what adventures we can find next year, and have decided that Blackberry Farm sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving retreat. An intimate luxury hotel in the Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm is the perfect mix of remote escapism with luxurious extras. Their awards are too many to mention, but it should be noted that among their “best small hotel” awards sit many more for food and wine. On-site cheese mongers, butchers and farmers bring delicious food directly to the table (by way of some fabulous chefs, of course). Gourmands and outdoorsmen alike can find respite, excitement and palette pleasers.

Visit their webiste at

Spent the thanksgiving holiday in the mountains, which certainly puts you in the mood for the holidays. A fire roaring, hikes in the crisp air, warm roasted meals and friends. I started my very own bonfire, roasted the world’s most perfect smores (if I say so myself), made time for some antiquing, and took in the obligatory football game or two. All in all, a nice holiday. (DeSoto Falls shown below)

But of course Im already dreaming of what adventures we can find next year, and have decided that Blackberry Farm sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving retreat. An intimate luxury hotel in the Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm is the perfect mix of remote escapism with luxurious extras. Their awards are too many to mention, but it should be noted that among their “best small hotel” awards sit many more for food and wine. On-site cheese mongers, butchers and farmers bring delicious food directly to the table (by way of some fabulous chefs, of course). Gourmands and outdoorsmen alike can find respite, excitement and palette pleasers.

Visit their webiste at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

outstanding tables...

Thanksgiving is here and the country is preparing. Work seems to have already shut down at a lot of companies (much to our dismay when we are trying to get your orders to you!), the grocery stores are packed with shoppers perusing the featured aisles stocked with cans of pumpkin, spices and marshmallows. Family members are preparing for travel and a few quiet days with family and friends around a splendid table. I am making a delicious spiced pumpkin layer cake with pralines and cream cheese frosting. Yum.

The table is the focus of Thanksgiving, really. Not just what’s on it but who’s at it. And with all of this thinking about preparing a splendid table of my own, I’m reminded of the fabulous company called Outstanding in the Field, who’s bringing delicious food and a truly amazing dining experience to foodies all across the country.

These self-described “culinary celebrations at the source” are held right on the farm at which the produce, meat and herbs were grown and raised. As they say, s et between the soil and the sky, Outstanding in the Field's long, linen-draped table beckons adventurous diners to celebrate food at the source. Bringing together local farmers and food artisans, chefs and winemakers, they explore the connection between the earth and the food on your plate.

While they normally focus on the east and west coasts, they recently made a dip through the southeast (we want more, please!), and friends who attended the events in Nashville and Birmingham had glowing praises of this gastronomic experience. But it is more than just food. It is an experience with friends and family, and making new friends too, around a beautiful and rustic table. Something reminiscent of the first Thanksgiving- celebrating life, food and togetherness.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

in search of the perfect cocktail...

We’ve traveled the southeast over the past few weeks holding Cerulean trunk shows in city after city, visiting with cerulean fans and old friends. It was a fabulous adventure driving through Tennessee Mountains full of fall color, or battling would-be hurricanes on the gulf coast. It is exciting for us to meet our loyal customers in person and watch as they ooooh and ahhhh over the feel of the glorious silk or the merino wool or the smooth lacquer. It was a great success and a lot of fun.

But after such hard work and tiring travel, there is nothing better than the perfectly made cocktail to sooth a tired mind. This we found in Nashville Tennessee at the Patterson House. A recently opened mecca to the perfect cocktail (and named after a Tennessee Governor who fought prohibition), this speak easy-inspired, library-like bar is housed in an unassuming old house half way between the campus of Vanderbilt and the honkytonks of downtown Nashville.

Each drink is made the old fashioned way with time and care given to every detail, not the least of which is the ice. After studying the best way to control the rate of melting so as not to alter the composition of the drink, the owners devised a perfect spherical ice cube. Other drinks come with long cylindrical cubes that fit the glasses perfectly. Such attention to detail is given to every aspect of the experience.

I tried a delicious layered concoction of fresh ginger and strong bitters over a dark rum that was divine. Others tried champagne cocktails, Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. There is something for every taste and every level of adventure. But not to worry. Those who don’t imbibe won’t be disappointed with the non-alcoholic versions they whip up upon request.

While they won’t seat you unless there is a table available, I would say it is worth the wait. Once inside, grab a chair at the bar so you can watch the barkeeps work their magic up close and personal. What a fabulous way to unwind after the grand tour of trunk shows!

Patterson House - 1711 Division Street - Nashville

Thursday, October 8, 2009

birthday fireworks...

Had a fabulous birthday party last night, including lots of champagne cocktails and sidecars, delicious lobster and cake, all finished off with fireworks on the beach with waves crashing behind us. The picture below shows some oversized sparklers stuck in the sand in a line down the beach. It was great! Thanks for throwing a great party!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

cerulean interviews...

Today we are launching a new section of our website, cerulean interviews. While it is a work in progress, it will be a constantly evolving section that features the people who inspire us most. There will be some designers to the stars, professional taste-makers, but for the most part we are interviewing girls we know that rock. I can guarantee that the pages will be filled with young entrepreneurs who love travel, fashion, food and interiors as much as we do, and who are constantly challenging themselves (and us) to be better and more interesting individuals. People who live by the mantra, "Travel's greatest purpose is to replace and empty mind with an open one."


Click to read the first Cerulean Interviews.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

what happens in vegas…

Had a quick trip to Las Vegas, and while there were no wild and crazy nights for me ( I was working, people), we over-indulged in a different way. Las Vegas is home to thousands of restaurants, dozens by celebrity chefs like Thomas Keller, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio, Bobby Flay… the list goes on and on. We visited as many as can fit in a 48-hour time span.

Many of these restaurants are exact replicas of restaurants in other places- like Spago in LA and Bouchon in Napa. Same name, same chef, same menu, same décor. But something is always lacking in the Vegas versions. The walls feel a little like Hollywood sets and the clientele are often in t-shirts or worse.

I didn’t let that slow me down, however, or keep me from enjoying fresh oysters, arugula, divine cheeses, lobster ravioli and glass after glass of champagne. A good time was had by all, and this is one instance where I wish what happened in Vegas didn’t have to stay in Vegas.

Throw in a couple of shows (everything from Cirque de Soliel to Holly Madison), some killer shopping, and a great new tan, and I will be dreaming of Vegas for a while to come, humming Katy Perry’s tune with a smile, glad it wasn’t me at the little white wedding chapel with someone’s high school ring!

my vegas cocktail of choice...

1 oz. vodka
1 sugar cube
5 dashes Angostura Bitters

Put the sugar cube in the bottom of a martini glass and soak with the bitters. Top with vodka and fill glass with champagne. It's a champagne cocktail with a kick!

Friday, August 28, 2009

living the high life...

On a trip to New York just two weeks ago, a friend introduced me to something new and exciting on the city’s west side- The High Line. Someone once said that what they loved about New York City is how it always changes on you, and I would have to add that it keeps changing for the better. This project reflects some real vision for a public space.

First the background… In the late 1840s, the City laid a line of rail road tracks down the west side that went on to cause so many deadly accidents that 10th Avenue became known as Death Avenue. Finally in 1930, an elevated rail road was built, The High Line, eliminating 105 street-level rail road intersections (and saving many lives in the process). This elevated rail track was in continued use until the 80s, when rail road traffic had diminished considerably and the line was unnecessary. (tidbit- they say the last trainload to run down the High Line was in 1980, carrying three carloads of frozen turkeys). The rail sat in disrepair for years afterwards.

By about the year 2000, neighborhood leaders were advocating for a reinvention of this rail track for public use, and it has finally come to fruition. The High Line is open to the public between Gansevoort and 20th, creating a unique juxtaposition of sleek modern walkways and seating with naturalistic plantings, almost meadow-like in places. At any time on any given day, the High Line can be filled with sunbathers on sleek teak loungers, children purchasing ice cream cones, groups of people watching a performance or taking a yoga class, and workers choosing to make their commute to the office a little more pleasant by walking this route instead of on the street below.

It is being built in stages, and the first has only just been completed. But when it is done, it will be a mile-and-a-half-long elevated park, running through the West Side neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Clinton/Hell's Kitchen.

An event not to be missed… Chefs Dinner to Benefit Friends of the High Line

Friends of the High Line is the conservancy charged with raising private funds for the park and overseeing its maintenance and operations. This chef’s dinner, organized by Chef Tom Colicchio of Craftsteak (and my favorite Top Chef), will be a fabulous al-fresco evening of dinning on the highline with multiple amazing chefs. I can’t imagine anything better than dinner under the stars in New York in early October when the weather is just beginning to turn cool and more than half a dozen NYC chefs have prepared your meal, all for the good cause of urban revitalization.

Check it out…