Tuesday, 31 July 2012

interior design: art & colours

When browsing through interior magazines I am not necessarily drawn to the same things all the time or one kind of design. I think it depends on my mood. One day I am drawn to something contemporary, the next it could be country homes; sometimes I'm looking at furniture only, sometimes decorative pieces. There is no rule, I pretty much like everything, as long as the design is beautiful and there is an idea behind the way a home is designed. It also helps if things are arranged neatly because clutter turns me off.

Today I find myself drawn to art and how colours can be used to shift your focus to a piece of art in a room. I like how it can be done subtly, as in that top photo, where everything in the room tones with that yellow artwork in the corner. There is no need for yellow decorative items on the mantelpiece or the tables to draw attention to that painting. In the second photo, the use of colours is more obvious. The red painting is centrally located and there are some red items and pink flowers in the room that tone with it. What I like about that room is that the pop of colours isn't overdone. It is easy to get carried away and go too far, but that room has balance. In the third photo, there are two art pieces communicating, three if you count the lamp. Well, I don't think this home is real, I think it's just a styling for the Maxalto armchair, but I like these two spectacular black pieces in that white room.

Do you use certain colours in your home and is there a reason why you do so? I have shown you my sitting area and I think I can say for sure that the colour of the two old armchairs defines the rest of the living room.

photo credit:

Monday, 30 July 2012

back to blogging

Hello everyone! Have you been enjoying these last weeks of July? It felt nice to step away from the computer but I wish I could tell you that I managed to do everything I had planned during my break. Well, sometimes you have a plan but the universe has another one. The first week it sort of rained constantly but we squeezed in a walk by the Moselle River and a nice bicycle ride in the sun. I also got a new haircut and felt like a brand new woman. Then came the weekend with better weather and I hurt my back while lifting a foot rest in the living room. I have no idea how I did that because it isn't even heavy. I felt this shooting pain when picking it up and spent some days after that moving around like an old woman or trying to find a comfortable position on my chaise lounge - quite entertaining for family members, not so much for me. My new books saved me.

Since Thursday a friend of my daughters has been visiting from Antwerp and the younger one goes to Antwerp tomorrow. We will probably pick her up on Saturday so we get an opportunity to say hello to our old city. I hope the sun will be shining because then we can drive to a seaside somewhere in Holland. I'm longing to dip my toes into the sea and just spend a relaxing day at the beach.

Have a beautiful day!

photo credit:

Friday, 13 July 2012

summer blog break

It is time to take a break from blogging and enjoy summer. The children finish school today and we intend to use the next two weeks to explore our new surroundings a little better. There is a small Roman fort on a hill not that far away which would be the perfect picnic place - here is hoping for sunny weather! We have plans to visit some historic sites within Luxembourg, for example the Vianden Castle. The city of Metz in France is also in the cards and I'm hoping to make it to a flea market that will be held on the French side of the borders later this month.

I will probably do some pinning when enjoying my coffee but I won't be visiting any blogs during my break. I hope you all have wonderful weeks ahead, wherever you are in the world and whether you are enjoying summer or winter. I will be back Monday, 30th July.

See you later - à bientôt - auf Wiedersehen!

photo credit:
1: unknown source via Crumpled Envelope/Tumblr
2: unknown source via Ada of Classiq/Pinterest
3: LatteLisa

Thursday, 12 July 2012

coffee & bicycles

The above images describe my mood today. My morning started early as usual and after taking the kids to school (tomorrow is the last day of school, finally) I enjoyed coffee while reading and writing with soft music in the background. There was some chocolate too. I'm all about books these days, but you knew that already. We are enjoying a cloudy weather but I took my new bicycle for a test drive. Yesterday, A made a delicious dinner and then he surprised me with a brand new bicycle. It is white and French and so feminine. I love it. There is something so wonderful about getting a new bicycle. It always takes me back to the day I got my first one. Do you also remember that moment?

Thank you all for the wonderful birthday greetings yesterday. I hope you are enjoying a beautiful day!

photo credit:
1: Rachel Ellis via Rustic.Meets.Vintage/Tumblr
2: Brent Darby via Kiyoaki/Tumblr
3: Coliena Rentmeester for Red Magazine via Nibs

YouTube: The Windmills Of Your Mind / performed by Sting
 music: Michel Legrand, lyrics: Alan and Marilyn Bergman

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

books & birthday

I found that first photo in my inbox this morning and my heart melted to the floor. That's Ollie, the incredibly cute Frenchie of my dear blog friend Christel of Captivated by Image. Yes, it's my birthday today. I didn't make any plans because A is at work, the children still have school and there is a school festival later today that parents are invited to. Until then I'm enjoying coffee and chocolate and receiving birthday greetings.

Today is about books and surprises. I told you I would share my Amazon package, as some of you are always looking for book ideas. Well, my stack above is now a little bigger.

Yesterday, when I was outside snapping that photo, the postman rang the bell yet again. (I'm keeping those guys busy these days.) A friend of mine had told me that there was a present on the way so I thought it was from her. To my surprise it was a present from another dear blog friend, Ada of Classiq. She gave me Scott Schuman's book The Sartorialist, which I didn't have but was on my wish list. It was such a wonderful addition to my coffee table books.

I love surprises like that. I also love books and blog friends!

Back to my book stack. Most of the links will take you to my 'Amazon picks' page if you like more information:

  • Paris: The Collected Traveler, which I told you about yesterday and I'm so much enjoying reading
  • Christian Dior's autobiography Dior by Dior  
  • Gelsey Kirkland's autobiography, Dancing on my Grave, which the former ballerina wrote with her ex husband Greg Lawrence. The book was edited by Jackie O and Greg Lawrence is the author who wrote Jackie as Editor, the book I told you about in this post 
  • Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace and Anna Karenina. I'm a big fan of classics 
  • and I also got the film One Day. If you haven't seen the film then I recommend reading the book first. It's such a beautiful story, heartbreaking too, and the book will give you all the wonderful details

In my stack I also included two books that I got earlier this summer:

  • Fashion (Oxford History of Art series) by Christopher Breward. I'm almost finished and I'm enjoying reading it but it's only 272 pages with plenty of photos so it's not a book that goes into much details
  • The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman. I cannot tell you much about that one as I'm still on the first chapters but it has received good reviews 

I'm not done!

When I was creating this post the postman rang again, the same guy who arrived yesterday. He wasn't annoyed but I think I was able to read in his eyes 'will you be expecting more of those?' when he handed me another package. It was from my friend (Cafe)Sigrun. Think pink. Think chocolate. It was Jessica's Raw Chocolate Recipes by Jessica Fenton. On the cover it says "natural power food for the chocoholic" ... oh lord, I'm drooling over here, be prepared for a new recipe soon!

Now I'm done.

Have a wonderful day!

photo credit:
1: Christel of Captivated by Image
2-3: LatteLisa

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

paris book + k&a: rhubarb and strawberry crumble

How are you doing today? The postman arrived yesterday with my books and I was like a little kid at Christmas. I'm expecting one more today so you can only imagine my excitement. I know there are plenty of readers out there who share with me the love of books and they are probably curious about the ones I got. I will photograph the stack later but let me give you the name of one of them. It's called Paris: The Collected Traveler: An Inspired Companion Guide edited by Barrie Kerper - 721 pages long. I almost screamed when I took it out of box and realised how thick it was. It was a recommendation from my blog friend Ada of Classiq, who also shared it in one of her beautiful posts called notebook pages. The book starts with a quote from Julian Green's Paris, who at one point says: "Until you have wasted time in a city, you cannot pretend to know it well." I'm so ready to waste time in Paris! The introduction starts with a Victor Hugo quote: "A breath of Paris preserves the soul." It's from Les Misérables, a favourite of mine. If you haven't read it then please do so soon. It's one of those works that I will never forget reading, I still remember when and where I was when I read it.

It is now time to turn to my Paris book again and enjoy reading it before picking up the kids. As I promised yesterday, I have posted the rhubarb and strawberry crumble recipe on kitchen & aroma. I hope you find it delicious if you try it.

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Monday, 9 July 2012

inspiration: white + a view in france

I am very content in my own home but I wish I could tell you that I woke up here this morning, in a white bedroom with a view somewhere in France. sigh I wouldn't mind being somewhere on vacation in the Provence, Normandy or Corsica. These are the places that have a little hold of me now, and places in Spain and Greece too.

Who am I kidding? I want to travel everywhere!

Did you enjoy a good weekend? I read, I watched Sense & Sensibility (1995) for the 50th time or so, and I had a productive weekend in the kitchen and will share with you a crumble recipe this week. Here's a hint: rhubarb & strawberries. Then there was a moment of horror in the kitchen as well, when we all took that much anticipated first bite of a French chocolate cake to find out that the whipped cream had gone bad. It was awful. I didn't realise there was something wrong with it when whipping it, as I had fallen into a trance because of the smell from the freshly baked cake. I'll make it up to us on my birthday.

I hope your week is starting well. I'm enjoying the luxury of having to do absolutely nothing. Basically, I'm just waiting for the postman to ring the bell and bring me my new books.

photo credit: 

Friday, 6 July 2012

getting things done

It is my birthday next week and my Amazon package from A is on its way. When it arrives I know that I'll be in my own world reading and I'll push everything else aside, postpone things and start feeling guilty. I don't want to feel guilty while reading my new books so, now that I'm getting older, I decided to act mature and use this day to get some things done, things I've been meaning to do since we moved. And boy, did I get things done! I was unstoppable. I even finished coating the cabinet I told you about last week. That means I can start using it this weekend and finish arranging the living room.

Do you see a weekend advice coming up? Many of us are enjoying summer and have plans for vacationing or stay-cationing. It feels so much better to be on holiday when you have crossed some things of your to-do list, whether the list is in your head or written down. You'll enjoy your holiday so much more. I remember when we lived in Antwerp there was this box of documents that I was always on my way to organise. These documents were not exactly important but I couldn't throw them away. So every day it felt like the box was staring at me, making me feel guilty. Months passed, okay more than a year passed, and the box was always there, mocking me in a way. Then one day I said to myself, that's it, I need to get this box out of my life for good. And you know what? It took me about 30 minutes to organise the documents and put them in right folders. Something that was on my mind for more than a year took me only 30 minutes to get done. That said, my weekend advice to you is: get some things done. Use the weekend to cross things off your list and out of your head for good. But don't get manic and think you have to do everything at once. Choose something that has been on that list for way too long.


photo credit:
Jon Day for Country Homes & Interiors

Thursday, 5 July 2012

notes à la mode 06

Two NOTES À LA MODE in one week? I know, I couldn't help it, it's the couture season and my couture heart has no patience to wait a whole week to post the gorgeousness from Givenchy and Elie Saab. Let's put it this way: It's my couture party and I post if I want to.

Riccardo Tisci. What can I say? His name must serve as an adjective to describe what he presented in Paris this week. The Givenchy Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2012-13 Collection stands out, it's a stark contrast to all the couture prettiness we are seeing on the runway - it's on another level. To me, this is what haute couture is all about.

Prettiness is fine, and there will always be designers that will focus on that, but I want a little drama in haute couture. I want to be surprised with something extraordinary. In his review for Vogue US, Hamish Bowles notes:
Riccardo’s couture pieces may not be designed for Everywoman, or even for everyday life, but with each collection he pushes the boundaries of what is breathtakingly possible when the greatest and most extravagant refinements of skilled handwork are applied to silhouettes and concepts that are sci-fi modern.
[grey font, mine]

Pushing the boundaries is exactly what Tisci did. The craftsmanship is unbelievable. I also love the fact that he only created ten pieces, ten really strong pieces.

The photographs deserve attention and the styling deserves a praise. Apparently, when designing this collection, Tisci "looked to the imposing sculptural drama of Hubert de Givenchy’s statement sixties evening dresses—and married that to an idea of contemporary gypsy style" (Bowles). These photographs also give the collection a tribal vibe and there is a dark element in them, but not scary dark. I find it mysterious and fascinating.

Now it is time to look at some couture prettiness.


Elie Saab knows how to do elegant haute couture. His feminine dresses are what we expect from the guy, but how he manages to nail it every time without repeating himself is beyond me. This is only a very small portion of what he presented in Paris yesterday, on his birthday. I get the feeling that we will be seeing quite a lot of pieces from his collection on the red carpet next winter. I'm already looking forward to the Golden Globes, the Oscars and the crème de la crème, the Cannes Film Festival next spring.


  Did you see the news about Dolce & Gabbana's couture collection that will be revealed in Sicily later in July?
  If you cannot get enough of haute couture then here is a link to the Valentino AW12 collection, designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli
  If you like trousers then take a look at the cuts in the Armani Privé collection. Giorgio Armani knows how to design trousers
  Zuhair Murad has many fans and I don't think his couture collection will disappoint any of them
  During fashion weeks the street style is always something I enjoy. Phil Oh captured these photos in Paris
  Now that the Paris Couture Week is over you can enjoy the rest of the Berlin Fashion Week

photo credit:
1-8: Givenchy collection via Vogue US
9-10: Givenchy collection via Vogue Paris
11-17: Elie Saab collection via Vogue Italia

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

notes à la mode 05

Before I start, let me say to all my American readers and blog friends: Happy 4th of July! I hope you all enjoy a wonderful day with loved ones. It's the fifth NOTES À LA MODE and today it's all about Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2012-13 collections. In case you didn't know it's Couture Week in Paris and today I'm waiting to see what Elie Saab and the house of Valentino will show us. Are you following the shows?

Atelier Versace started the Couture Week at the Ritz on Sunday and Donatella Versace impressed me with her collection. She showed many short figure-hugging dresses, which I'm not a fan of, but they were beautiful. The floor-length ones with the thigh-high slit were the ones that I really fell for and the colour palette was to my taste. Donatella has been receiving raving reviews for her show and I think they are well deserved (Sarah Mower at Vogue US said she had gotten her mojo back). I chose three photos for this post but I could easily have picked more. Bravo Donatella!

I loved Chanel's 'New Vintage' invitation for the show, a sketch by Karl Lagerfeld of Coco Chanel. I wouldn't have minded receiving one myself! Lagerfeld's collection was elegant. The colour palette was mainly grey and pink and the details were beautiful. I was particularly fond of the trousers.

This was the atmosphere right before Raf Simons's debut for Dior (screenshot by me of the live streaming). By the way, the walls are covered with fresh flowers. The show was held in five rooms and they all looked like that except the colour was different in each. So, it was not exactly less is more when it came to decorating the rooms. I only wish the same had applied to the creation of the collection.

I'm not going to say that I was disappointed because the design was beautiful; I was just hoping to see some fireworks, to be wonderfully surprised. Instead it was a minimalistic, very ladylike Jil-Sander-meets-old-Dior collection, as far away from the Galliano-extravagance as possible. Frankly speaking, I was a little bored until the tenth model walked down the runway in that red coat. I haven't viewed any close-ups yet, but as I said, the design was beautiful, I just wasn't expecting it to be minimalistic and so full of embellished peplum tops.

At some point the live streaming failed so I turned to Twitter to see what was going on. People either seemed to like the show or be disappointed. I have to add that I'm a bit surprised by all the good reviews so I'm wondering if this was one of those you-had-to-be-there moments.


  Giambattista Valli has proven that he knows how to do couture. His colour palette was mainly red and green and some models appeared on the runway with butterfly lips. I was drawn to this gorgeous green dress and also the belt. I love Valli's belts
  Ulyana Sergeenko showed her Haute Couture AW12 Collection (preview to the right) in Paris and it was oh so Russian. She is one of those style icons out there, always so feminine, and loved by the street style photographers. Many of the pieces in her collection reminded me of what she likes to wear herself
  The Haute Couture AW12 Collection by Christophe Josse had some interesting pieces, for example this white dress 
  Here is a little sneak peek into the house of Schiaparelli's freshly renovated Place Vendôme atelier. The reborn fashion house will be showing it's first collection, haute couture, in January. Yes folks, it really is happening. Now they are looking for a designer and I just want someone to call them and let them know that Galliano is probably available. Man, how I miss Galliano on the couture runway!

photo credit:
1-3: Atelier Versace collection via Vogue Italia
4-7: Chanel collection via Vogue Italia
8: screenshot from Dior's live streaming
9-12: Dior collection via Vogue Italia
13: Ulyana Sergeenko collection via Vogue Italia

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

inspirational corner

Currently I'm sitting outside in sunny weather with my notebook and a stack of books, enjoying a chicken avocado sandwich and a blend of fresh grape juice and sparkling water.

Why the detailed description of the moment? Probably because this inspirational corner needs no words. No words at all.

photo credit:
1: unknown source via Michiko Daydreams
2-3: unknown source via The New Victorian Ruralist