The Last Supper

We discovered the best boulangerie and patisserie in all of Paris our last night in the city. Instead of heading out of our hotel to the left, as we had all the previous nights, we turned to the right. Within a block of our hotel was the most charming, quintessential french boulangerie-patisserie called Secco. You always want to end a trip on a high note and let's just say we did! Displayed in the window fresh from the oven, still in its french crockery, our last supper awaited. We ordered a little of everything ~ haircot verts, herbed rice, blanquette de veau, pomme de terre and, of course, an assortment of amazing patisserie for dessert!

{original art via Paris Breakfast on etsy)

{Secco, 20, rue Jean Nicot}

It is not unusual for a line to form out of the door of Secco and around the block at dinner time.

{Not to be missed is the spotted dog painted on the building's facade.}

The interior of Secco was absolutely beautiful.

These sandwiches look incredible...if I would have only known! Several days we grabbed sandwiches from Paul, a 120 year old french chain of boulangeries, to take on the train for lunch. Don't get me wrong, the sandwiches from Paul were also delicious.

All the desserts at Secco come with their own chocolate logo and fortunately for me, my daughter and husband, are not fond of chocolate, so I was blessed with three chocolate favor.
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French Girls Don't Wear Kaftans

{Le Tour Eiffel as silhouetted down the narrow streets on the way to our hotel in the 7th arrondissement}

Like any good novel, I'll begin at the end. We are back at the Hotel de La Tulipe in Paris packing for our journey home. We have been blessed with a wonderful trip and have accomplished so much in so little time but there is still so much to do and see. As I am folding my favorite kaftan, it occurs to me that french women don't wear kaftans. In fact, they don't wear Boden or J. Crew or anything close to the assortment of bright colored summer essentials I brought along on the trip. I make a mental note for next time ~ think beige or maybe a subtle grey; add color with a linen scarf maybe in soft purple; bring a trench coat or other fashionable wrap; leave Aisics at home. Maybe I'll even bring along a few things from Comptoir des Cotonniers, a popular french boutique with a storefront just around the block from our hotel.

{trench coat from Comptoir des Cotonniers for my next trip}

{spring ad campaign for Comptoir des Cotonniers}

{Mother Daughter casting ad for Comptoir des Cotonniers}

Comptoir des Cotonniers designed a marketing campaign featuring real mother and daughter pairs from around the world to affirm the brand's commitment to providing multi-generational collections that are timeless and comfortable; trendy and chic and reflect the values often passed down from mother to daughter. The ads are truly beautiful!

{Comptoir des Cotonniers interior view}

The interiors of the CdC stores are a nice complement to the simply chic clothing line that makes a point of using natural fabrics. In keeping with the brand, the interiors are spare and clean lined with natural, bleached wood floors. There is always a white flower conspicuously displayed in their stores. Like their clothing line, it adds that small touch of femininity.

One of the biggest take-aways from our trip was how at ease french women are with their style ~effortless; simply chic; natural. It was not uncommon to see a french women, chicly dressed, riding a bicycle through Parisian traffic. And, I was amazed to see them briskly walking through the metro in shoes that I couldn't fetch the newspaper in. I wish I had snapped a picture of the woman I saw weaving through traffic in the 16th arrondissement or more importantly the distinguished woman waiting for a taxi at Gard de Lyon. She looked like Meryl Streep from the movie The Devil Wears Prada in a long, soft grey, cashmere coat with little 1/4 inch pleats from her 19" waist down to her ballerina slippers. She was wearing no makeup, at least that I could tell, and her soft gray hair fell in curls around her shoulders.
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Au Revoir!

"Everything you can imagine is real." ~Pablo Picasso
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Gifts for Dad

The best gift you can give {dad, daddy, father, grandfather, poppy} is a place to rejuvenate, a soulful place that he can make his own. When I saw this article in Garden & Gun {many years ago}, my first thought was how much my own husband would love a place in the woods just like this. Of course, it doesn't hurt that this is the special retreat of golfer, Davis Love. To read Davis Love's Wild Side by Joe Bargmann click here.

{photos via Garden & Gun Magazine May/June 2008}

Given that most of us can not afford to give our fathers a 2,890-acre spread on the Georgia coast, consider the next best thing, a weekend at the Eseeola Lodge in Linville, NC.

Okay. So it's difficult to get away with young children. Would you consider a day of fly fishing lessons for your one-and-only?

You are pretty sure that the father in your life would love to play dress-up in all that cool Orvis stuff but would  not love the fishy part. How about the sport fisherman's tie from Vineyard Vines, a tie that just begs a man to take his beautiful wife out for dinner and a movie.

So, the father in your life has not had on a tie since his niece got married several years ago {so much for the dinner and a movie} Browse through the fabulous gift's at BD Jeffries, one of my favorite sources for men's gifts.

{gift ideas from BD Jeffries}

Last, but certainly not least, consider a father's day subscription to Garden & Gun. I picked the cover from February/March 2009 because the dog reminds me so much of our first dog, Deacon, a gift from my husband. Like Marley, Deacon recked havoc on our life for nearly 13 years and filled our first years of marriage with love {and drama}. If you want to really shake things up at home, get him a lab puppy for father's day. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

{Man's Best Friend}

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Dining with fireflies

I'm that person you love to hate. The one that can dine outdoors in summer and never break a sweat. The one that is oblivious to mosquitoes with ne'er a bite. The one that is totally giddy for dining alfresco! I must confess, although I pine for the true European definition of dining alfresco {dining in the fresh air} most of my outdoor dining takes place at the poolside {not in my backyard} with 100 bazillion water-winged-children running by. No romantic lanterns dangling from the trees or arching vines or mountain breezes. So, this post is to celebrate all that is possible: An outdoor setting full of character and life; a one-of-kind dining experience with all the embellishments; tabletops that exude summer and welcome friends and family to the fresh air.

{photo via Country Living}

I have a friend that could totally knock this look off {you know who you are}! A path leads from her lovely covered deck through a central garden to a tree canopied, backyard oasis.

{photo via Southern Accents}

The backyard I've always dreamed off ~ meandering!

{photo via Circa Interiors}

I just love this photo from Circa Interiors. They hosted a special alfresco dinner for Bunny Williams when she was in town to speak at the Mint Museum Symposium. If you would like to replicate this lovely party in your own backyard, they sell all the beautiful glassware, lavender linens and faux bois accessories.

{photo via Southern Accents}

Lakeside dining has improved {a lot} since I used to spend the lazy days of summer at the lake as a teenager! I love those tall candelabras and lime green candles.

{Martha Stewart Living Magazine}

Martha Stewart, the early pioneer of elegant outdoor dining, has provided a virtual road-map of outdoor dining how-to's! This photo takes my breath away!

I can feel the ocean breezes and taste the delicious seafood!

{image via Blackberry Farm}

Since the first time the Blackberry Farm was featured in Southern Accents, I have been dying to go there. The Beale Family has created the quintessential mountain retreat, complete with a working farm and diary. You must visit The Blackberry Farm website. Eye-candy! Enjoy!

{photo of Blackberry Farm via Traditional Home}

{photo of blackberry Farm via Traditional Home}

I love the simplicity of this tabletop design ~ stones and moss!

My family and I take day-trips to the North Carolina mountains on a regular basis in Summer. I love to hike and fly fish and many, many times wish I had packed a picnic. Eating by the stream would be sheer bliss!

{My inspiration collage for dining in the fresh air}

 Aspargus plate from Earthborn Pottery; The Blackberry Farm Cookbook; faux bois candelabra; driftwood hurricane from Anthropologie; hydrangeas from the backyard; Earthborn Pottery; antique french garden chairs; melamine monogrammed plates; mercury glass votives to hang in the trees; pebble candles from Circa Interiors; napkin from Roberta Freymann; fresh from the garden centerpiece.

{Hazelnut Pecan Pesto Chicken Salad}

If you want to get asked by a bazillion people for your recipe, take this delicious hazelnut pecan pesto chicken salad to your next fresh air gathering. I've served it above on my favorite hors d'oeuvres plate from Earthborn Pottery. Earthborn Pottery is available locally at All Through The House at Reynolda Village.

1 cup tightly packed Italian parsley leaves
1 1/2 cup toasted whole pecan halves, toasted until fragrant
1/2 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2/3 - 1/2 cup toasted hazelnut oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 ounces bow tie pasta, cooked al dente and drained
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, marinated, grilled, and chopped

To make the pesto, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Blanch parsley for just a few seconds, just until it turns bright green, then remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Drain on paper towels. Place pecans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Pulse a few times until the pecans are broken up a bit, then add the drained parsley, cheese, lemon zest and juice and process until everything is chopped up and blended together. With the motor running, drizzle the oil through the feeder tube, and process until the pesto is of the desired consistency, whether a bit chunky or very smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.Combine the chicken and pasta and add enough pesto to coat everything generously. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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