Men are always the most difficult to shop for – But with our “Mantique Collection” The Antiques Diva® & Co makes Christmas Shopping for the men in your life as easy as 1, 2, 3. Man + Antiques = Mantiques and with our European antiques, vintage pieces and objects of curiosity you’re certain to find the perfect cadeaux!
Have a Happy Holiday!
The Antiques Diva™
Even if you are just in Paris for an afternoon, it is worth checking out. A huge loft style space houses a florist, an eclectic bookstore, a wonderful vintage collection, designer clothes at a discount, homeware and a great kid’s clothing and accessories area. It is the kind of place you can pick up a delicate Isabel Marant necklace for 20 euros or spend several thousand euros on a sofa.
This place is definitely a labour of love. When I went with my friend Belinda to check it out, Marie-France Cohen herself was the person helping us out and making sure that we were getting all the attention we needed.
Emilie at Babycinno
“The Diva of The Day”
I just have to tell you about the most marvelous kitchen tool my husband, Sir Jeffrey, bought me. It’s called a Mezzaluna and he got it from the Nigella Lawson Living Kitchen catalogue. It’s shaped like a crescent moon and is made of stainless steel. The moon edge is very sharp and makes chopping and cutting a breeze. I’ve used it on fresh herbs and most recently on several pounds of mushrooms. I was making one of my signature recipes (a divine cream of mushroom soup) and had to chop lots of mushrooms and also shallots. The Mezzaluna made the whole job so easy; I couldn’t believe I ever chopped with knives. It has handles on both sides so you just rock and chop. I love it!
Just a little tip for those foodies that read your blog.
The Contessa’s Divine Cream of Mushroom Soup!
2 lbs of fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup butter ( I used salted)
4-5 shallots, chopped fine
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup of sherry or other white wine
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
optional garnish…chopped fresh parsley
First of all regarding the mushrooms…You can use any kind that your local market has fresh. Sometimes I use your basic plain mushroom but sometimes I like to mix it up with shitake, baby bells, chanterelles, etc.
Finely chop the mushrooms and shallots.
In a large pan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots; turn the heat up a bit and sauté, stirring frequently about 20 or so minutes. When the mushrooms look like a dark brown paste and most of the liquid has evaporated, add the flour
Add the cream and deglaze the pan, then simmer about another 15 minutes until it thickens. Be careful it doesn’t stick. Keep scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Now at this point, if you want your soup to have the consistency of bisque, you can puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender. Personally, I prefer to keep it chunky.
Before you serve, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and finally the wine. I have tried it with sherry and white wine which I prefer. A nice dry white wine is great.
Serve with a nice crusty bread and salad and you have a wonderful dinner!
Our Dutch friends Ed and Britta have one of the most gorgeously decorated houses in the whole of Holland. If I were to post a picture to give a visual definition of the word “Gezillig”, it would be their dining room with the large table built by Edwin’s father nestled in front of the wall of windows overlooking their sculpted back garden. Across the room sit some wonderful , Flamant-styled chairs pulled close to the roaring fireplace – draped over the back of the chairs are reindeer pelts perfect for snuggling into on a cold Dutch day.
I had fallen for these pelts and spent half the time at their house petting them idly while chatting with a glass of red wine in hand. Knowing that Ed & Britta’s parents had picked these skins up in Finland while there on holiday, WG set out for his 3 day business trip with plans of sourcing me my own reindeer rug.
“Reindeer are semi-wild, are not extinct and are killed for their meat. The pelt is a by-product.”]
Several days later he hopped on a plane and returned home to Holland. He carried the reindeer pelt onto the plane and as he was climbing into his seat, the man next to him asked, “What do you have there?” to which WG proudly proclaimed – “A Valentines gift for my wife!” showing him the pelt. Over the course of the flight WG, who is reputed to be downright surly when strangers talk to him on planes, chatted with the stranger about life, love and other mysteries. When the flight landed at Schiphol and WG was gathering his briefcase and pelt from the overhead bin, the stranger tapped WG on the shoulder, dug deep into his coat pocket and pulled out a few bite-size chocolate bars. Putting them in WG’s palm, he nodded with wisdom, “Just in case the pelt doesn’t go over so well… and you need a back-up plan!”
The stranger need not have worried!! I loved my reindeer pelt but actually never found a place to display it as nicely as Ed and Britta displayed theirs. In Holland it lay in front of a small settee in our bedroom – and while we enjoyed the plush feel of fur between our toes when crawling from bed in the morning, it wasn’t an ideal spot for displaying the V-day treasure.
One of the things I love about moving is the opportunity to redecorate my house time and time again – seeing my favorite items displayed in new ways with each new house. As often happens, what doesn’t work well in one house works better in another and with my reindeer pelt, this is the case. Perhaps because of the freezing cold and damp German winters or maybe it’s the traditional German coal burning stove, but finally, years after receiving it as a present, the Reindeer Skin has found a perfect home chez moi in Berrrrrrrrrrrrlin!
Until next time, stay warm & dry!
May these “April Showers Bring May Flowers!”
The Antiques Diva™
“The Holy Terror” wrecked havoc in the living room while mom and the missionary were having an intense conversation about God. So my mom, my dear old mom, sent “The Holy Terror” to my bedroom to play. All was going fine until “The Holy Terror” decided that my newest pet needed to meet my cat. The rest is, as they say, history. Since the cat ate my gerbil I haven’t won another prize.
Thus, imagine my surprise when Kristie, the blogger behind Girlville (aka, My Craft Closet), did a “Birds of Change Drawing” and I was the grand prize winner! She notified me just as I was about to move from Amsterdam to Berlin and the package, which arrived a week or two later, was the first package I received at my new home in Germany! Nothing makes me happier than a package in the mail! I’d like to give a special thank you to Kristie at Girlville!
Diva Readers, I encourage you to check out the pondering of “an over 30-something with a husband, 4 cats and a tendency towards unfinished projects…” She loves reading, cooking, knitting, sewing, painting, needlepoint(ing), playing with her 4 kitties (one of whom needs liposuction), baking, watching TV, refinishing furniture and making lists of things that she’s started doing but not yet finished!
Now – I suspect you’re a little jealous that I’ve got a birdie and you don’t…. if I were “The Holy Terror” I might stick out my tongue and say “Nanny, nanny, boo-boo – I have a birdie and you don’t!” – however, I’m simply not that kind of girl. I’m a nice diva and I play well with others (although I do occasionally run with scissors) – thus I’m going to let you in on a little secret! You too can own a birdie!
Kristie not only blogs and crafts and blogs about crafting, she also has a fabulous Etsy Store called Fait Pour Vous (Made For You) where she sells her hand-made creations. She does limited edition and custom orders. You can shop by theme (St Patrick’s Day or Wine & Things, etc), paintings or merely items on sale. When you stop by to visit her, do make sure you tell her “A Little Birdie Sent You!”
THANK YOU GIRLVILLE!!!
(Photo at right taken by The Diva while her husband The Wine Guy drove from Amsterdam to Berlin for their most recent move. Catpuccino sat at attention on The Diva’s lap ready to take his turn at the wheel should WG need a break from driving!)
Note to reader: To the best of my knowledge, no gerbils were harmed in the taking of the top “intro” picture. The photo of the cat watching the gerbil is merely a stunt double found in a Google search and “borrowed” from Flicker. If you’d like to hear more tragic details of my childhood… my brother’s dog later ate Princess Elizabeth, then my parent’s house blew away in a tornado (along with my mom) and all our family photos were lost (my mom was found). Thus no photo of Princess Elizabeth, my gerbil or my childhood remains. But for photos of a stranger’s cat, visit Rigsby’s flicker site.
Expat life does things to people when they move from country to country. As an expat when you are living in a new country, attempting to learn a new language, clamoring for comprehending a new culture… sometimes you feel like you need to make a visual representation of the internal change that is occurring. Enter exhibit A, my husband – better known for his more polished, preppy looks and Ralph Lauren wardrobe. The Wine Guy has traditionally been a khaki pants and blue blazer kind of guy, but Berlin has done something different to him. WG’s gone BOHO!
So, readers, we have a serious question of a personal nature for you here at The Antique Diva ™ blog.
To Beard? Or Not To Beard?
Berliner Wine Guy
Parisian Wine Guy
Until next time,
The Antiques Diva™
(who loves her husband avec ou sans beard)
Everyone has at least one bible. It doesn’t matter if you
are Jewish, Christian, Hindu or even atheist – everyone has at
least one bible.
Me? I have at least 5. Let me explain. A bible
can be any book that you cannot live without, that you depend
on for a lot of information and without it would be totally lost.
First and foremost, is my real Bible….the King James version. The
words and actions of my Lord and God are the most important thing in my life and I could not live without.
But the 2nd bible on my list – and my first secular bible – is my address book. It’s not just for names and addresses but also for phone numbers at home and work, e-mail addresses, fax numbers and cell phone numbers. Mine also includes birthdays, anniversaries, names of children and school name (if they are away at school) and any food allergies. This comes in very handy when having someone over for dinner to make sure they can eat your sumptuous meal.
I have a friend who takes it up a notch further and has her address book on index cards. She even lists what she served the last time these people were over and what she was wearing to make sure, heaven forbid, she doesn’t duplicate menu or couture.
My fourth bible is also antiques and collectible oriented. It’s updated yearly and is “Kovels Antiques and Collectible Price Guide” by Ralph and Terry Kovel. Sadly, Ralph passed away this past year but I’m pretty sure his wife Terry will continue the tradition. This is a very comprehensive price guide of over 43,000 items and current prices. It also has 2,500 color photos in over 650 categories and shows you 500 tell tale marks and logos. There are even a few stories of record prices at auction for particular items. If you are in the business, this book is a great help. It’s how I found out that an old Coca Cola tray that was laying around my aunt’s house forever was worth over $700. It’s also the price guide I use when pricing antiques that I sell and it’s also a great tool if you want to insure your items but aren’t sure how much they are really worth.
Last but not least is a book that I use for entertaining all the time. It’s “Martha Stewarts Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook“. This is not your average cookbook. It is the most comprehensive hors d’oeuvres collection I have ever seen. The book contains 300 recipes, all photographed in beautiful color . I consider this book to be the most instructive, inspirational and indispensible guide for entertaining. This is not your chip and dip or pepperoni and cheese book. Some of my favorites include lobster and mushroom quesadilla, welsh rarebit in toasted breadboxes, grilled shitake mushrooms on rosemary skewers and fontina fondue with black truffles.
Now, if this hasn’t sent you packing for food, I don’t know what would. Throughout the book, Martha gives you tips on how to make everything look as wonderful as it tastes. I love the tip on how to make tiny cocktail bread with cutouts.
So these 5 books comprise The Contessa’s 5 bibles – for today anyway – the list is always subject to change or growth.
Now you tell me, how many bibles do you have and what are they?
Until Next Time… Ciao Bella!
Note To Reader:
Do you like the home-made scrapbook style address book show above right? If so, you too can make your own!! Find directions for this project and others like it at Fresh & Fun!
Dear Diva Readers,
Over the last few weeks as I’ve prepared for my move, I’ve been an organizational whirlwind. Boxes of old knick-knacks, household items and clothes that have seen their better day have been divided and sent to the charity shops, dumped in the recycling bins, given to friends and when beyond repair gone into the garbage! The best thing one can do to organize their home is to move often – 6 moves in 12 ½ years has proven this to me! As I was sorting through our filing cabinet this morning (in what started as a search for my marriage license which will be needed by the Immigration dept for my German residency but ended in a wholesale clean-out of more than a decade of unnecessarily saved or misfiled items), I thought “Why didn’t I hire Organizational Expert Jenni van Heyningen to come help with my pre-move prep? She could have saved me so much time and I ‘m certain her way is better than mine!”
I’ve asked Jenni to speak at numerous International Women’s Club events and yet until this morning in my pre-move madness she’d slipped my mind. If only I’d been on top of things she could have saved me loads of work and helped me prepare for my new life in Germany – giving me an edge on the German efficiency & organized lifestyle I’m about to embrace! Not wanting you to make the same mistake I did, I thought I would write a quick post to introduce you to Jenni of Organised Bliss so that next time Holland-based readers are planning to get organized, you think to give this expert a call!
Jenni, the charming South African-born owner of Organised-Bliss, comes to your home and helps you assess your problem areas, sort and categorize items and then decide what you really need to keep and which of your precious items someone else could make better use of. Rather than me telling you about her services read on…. in Jenni’s own words as she describes what she can help you do.
The Antiques Diva
Organised Bliss writes:
- Improve the way you organize your personal administration so that you can work smarter and more efficiently.
- Re-organize your clothing cupboard and finally get rid of (or donate/sell) the clothes that you haven’t worn in many years.
- Change the storage units in your children’s rooms. This will make it easier for them to put their own toys away and also to ensure that all their toys / books / cds have a permanent, practical place. It’s amazing how much quicker the tidying up process takes if each thing has a practical place.
- Organize your living room so that it can be a place of relaxation and enjoyment instead of a room that has a little bit of everything in it.
- Ensure that everything you have has a permanent, practical place – you will then notice how much easier your daily routine will be because you will know where to find things and where to put them back.
- You may feel that it is TIME to clear all the clutter or unnecessary things that you have. This may be the many collectable items you have gathered over the years, or all the clothing that you have not worn for years, or magazines/cds that need to be sorted out (and given to a second hand store or donated to an old-age home).
- You may want to organize your time better – this may include time spent on work or household things vs. time socializing with friends or family.
- Not only will you have a more practical / organized home or office, you will also feel psychologically better as you won’t have “the mess” on the back of your mind each day and the disappointment that “you still haven’t sorted things out”. Remember that an organized home = an organized mind.
- You will also feel a remarkable difference in your daily routine (especially is you have school-going children) as you won’t have to frantically search for their things 2 minutes before they have to leave for school. You will know where to find it because it will have a permanent, practical storage place.
SO, BEING ORGANISED WILL NOT ONLY BENEFIT YOU BUT YOUR WHOLE FAMILY WILL FEEL THE DIFFERENCE!!!
Organised Bliss can help you achieve your goals, quickly and efficiently!
Contact Jenni van Heyningen for more information or to make an appointment for a free assessment.
Call 06.38.05.10.07 (+31.6.38.05.10.07) or email email@example.com