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A Southern Holiday Party

Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio

It feels like only a moment ago we were hosting last year’s holiday party for friends. My how fast a year comes and goes with so many new memories to stowaway in the vault. For this year’s get together in our new Upper West Side home I wanted to bring to life a piece of my past to make the meal even more personal and intimate by taking our friends on a culinary trip down south, to taste my southern roots and warm comfort food.

When I think about southern food I always think about BBQ and biscuits. A saucy slow cooked meat rolled in spices and balanced by the buttery softness of a warm biscuit. It’s sinful and wonderful and went beautifully with Ecco Domani’s full bodied Merlot. For the non-meat eating guests we offered southern catfish baked and served in my cast iron skillet my grandmother passed down to me which is seasoned with love, as I like to say, and a great compliment to Ecco Domani’s Pinot Grigio.

Of course, any time I host friends or family I like to start with a cheese plate for people to graze on while we finish preparing the meal. Following my simple rule I outlined in this post, I chose a wonderful soft goat cheese, aged gouda, manchego cheese to be accompanied by roasted almonds, apples and artisanal crackers. Wanting to start with a crisp and light wine, we opened Ecco Domani’s Pinot Grigio for the cheese course though it goes perfectly well with the Merlot too if you prefer.

In the end, no matter what you serve or what you wear, it’s about making memories with friends and loved ones, sharing stories, being at peace and above all, loving one another this holiday season. Cheers….

See below for entertaining tips and southern recipes created for this night by my friend Jared who is, as we call him, the cookie monster. Everything was served on handmade pottery (a wedding gift from my parents!) by Clayworks in the East Village and another very personal, homey touch to this intimate gathering.

Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio

For last year’s holiday party we set individual photographs I had taken of each guest at their place setting to not only arrange the seating in a beautiful visual way but for each of the guests to take home a gift from the evening. This year I decided to create individual bouquets for each place setting that the guests could take home and enjoy for the days to come. Living in New York City this is a wonderfully easy way to play with your creativity. On 28th and 7th is the most fabulous flower market where you can find anything your heart desires. I love more than anything exploring in and out of these shops and creating my own story though flowers.

Above, setting the table in Maud Heline’s Arlanik white button up shirt dress made in Brooklyn  (ps- it’ has pockets!!) 

Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio (more…)

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A Hudson Valley Weekend

 

As we begin to close in on the last weekends of summer I jumped at the invitation for a weekend upstate shared among friends. The cool mountain air, quiet afternoons for reading and home cooked meals filled my soul and recharged my batteries. We stayed in this amazingly redesigned Catskills home where nature was the framed art and dancing light our whimsical entertainment. Now the only problem I have is how to stop day dreaming of this peaceful place at the end of the road between tucked between a mountain and a creek…

A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley.

 This summer I have been reading photographer Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still. There are some books I read on my kindle and then some I have to physically buy so that I can mark them up, make notes in the margins and revisit or even research what I find among the pages. One of my favorite underlined parts so far: 

“Because I am still that girl when it comes to developing film. There is nothing better than the thrill of holding a great negative, wet with fixer, up to the light. And, here’s the important thing: it doesn’t even have to be a great negative. You get the same thrill with any negative; with art, as someone once said, most of what you have to do is show up. The hardest part is setting the camera on the tripod, or making the decision to bring the camera out of the car, or just raising the camera to your face, believing, by those actions, that whatever you find before you, whatever you find there, is going to be good. And, when you get whatever you get, even if it’s a fluky product of that slipping-glimpser vision that de Kooning celebrated, you have made something. Maybe you’ve made something mediocre- there’s plenty of that in any artist’s cabinets- but something mediocre is better than nothing, and often the near-misses, as I call them, are the beckoning hands that bring you to perfection just around the blind corner.” 

A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. (more…)

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United House Wrecking

United House Wrecking in Stamford, CT This weekend I went treasure hunting for furniture for my new apartment and found the most amazing store in Stamford, CT called United House Wrecking. It’s a cool mix of old antiques, modern furnishings  and straight up crazy things… I mean, who wouldn’t want to own their own “BIG” fortune teller?! And, the best part is it’s actually affordable.

I’ve been having such a struggle buying furniture for this space, a former mansion built in 1918 which has since been divided into apartments. Trying to balance the beauty of the old wood floors, stained glass windows and grand moldings while keeping it contemporary and within some sort of reasonable budget has been a fun challenge. So every weekend I set out in hopes of falling in love with something I can bring home to become a part of defining this new era of my home life.

  United House Wrecking in Stamford, CT Above, a crystal decanter etched in roses I found to hold my rose scented bath salts.

Below, my new antique French dining table! The second I saw it I loved it, which is how I’m trying to find my pieces. Not just buying something that could work but waiting until I see something I feel connected to. Then I cross my fingers, pull out the measuring tape and hope it’s fate. Though I have been very happy enjoying my meals and a nice bottle of champagne on the terrace I will be glad to sit at a proper table… especially this one. (more…)

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The Flower District

I love gardening. Growing up in Texas I spent so much time as a little girl with my grandmother in her garden harvesting tomatoes and and watermelons, or pruning rose bushes. It’s a rare thing to partake in this peaceful and caring activity piled upon each other in the concrete jungle of Manhattan but I find ways to carve out my own piece of nature. I recently moved uptown and traded the bridge and tunnel traffic for Central Park and Riverside Park. I needed to see green. I needed to be able to escape the things that make living in this city difficult while at the same time better enjoying the things that make it the greatest. 

Through some sort of twist of fate I found my dream apartment, which at the moment is still mostly empty while I start the slow search for new (but probably old) furniture to fill her beautifully molded walls. {pause – and check out my Snapchat story today to see the vintage vanity just delivered!} This past weekend I decided to start with the sweet little terrace. I wanted to create a relaxing space to sip my morning coffee and for it to become beyond lovely for a glass of wine at night while watching the sun set behind Riverside Park. I wanted to look out my french doors at an explosion of color and life. 

Any time I need flowers or plants, be it for photo shoots or personal use, I head to Manhattan’s flower district on 28th between 6th and 7th Avenue. Trying to stay out of the way of the professional event planners, florists, and interior designers that tear through here can be slightly intimidating but totally worth it to open up a world of botanical wonder. It’s here were I first learned about succulents and that roses come in so many more interesting colors than deli-shop-red.

So on a Saturday in New York City, I popped on my new little environmentally friendly Bon George dress, Monica Rich Kosannearth charm necklace” and set out for 28th street with a terrace transformation in mind….

  Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace...    Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace...    Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace...

Getting my hands dirty. Below- from my snapchat in my “glamorous” gardening clothing which is actually my go-to moving outfit or has been at least for the past 3 moves.  Flower_District_23 Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace...  

Enjoying it for the first time in a Ralph Lauren silk camisole & skirt  Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace... Above, the happy view from the bedroom window. Below, stepping out in the morning in my vintage Frenchman’s linen shirt I bought on my last trip to Paris Photographer Jamie Beck visits Manhattan's flower district to purchase plants for her new Upper West Side terrace...



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