“Mantiques” for Christmas

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!

Merry Christmas!!

From my house to yours:

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Merry Christmas,

The Antiques Diva™

Earth Day

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Dear Diva Readers,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Today, April 22, is Earth Day – a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment! We all know that “Recycling” is the watch word for Green Living – but did you realize that buying items for your home from antique shops, flea markets and garage sales is the essence of recycling and reusing? You can not only contribute to saving the environment by buying used goods, but you can also come up with snazzy décor and a unique home through purchasing things from the past! What an easy and fun way to live a greener life (and a perfect excuse for a guilt-free splurge!).

Happy Shopping!

The Antiques Diva™

A Paris Shopping Tip from Babyccino

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The Babyccino Crew
top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>The 4 lovely ladies blogging at Babyccino are always full of great tips! This recent scoop on their site was so good I had to share it with you. Make sure to visit the Babycinno site for more exciting articles from The Babyccino Crew.

Babycinno writes:

It’s been the talk of town. Merci, Paris’ newest concept store, opened its doors last week. When I visited it was so new they were still finishing off the paintwork!

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.

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Merci is the brainchild of Marie-France Cohen whom, 30 years ago, founded Bonpoint. After selling the Bonpoint empire she decided that she wanted to give something back and so came up with the idea of Merci. All the profits of the store go directly to a charity founded by Mme Cohen for children and women in Madagascar. Everything on sale is donated by designers and is sold at a discounted rate in the store. There are lots and lots of treats for moms, but if it’s kid’s stuff you are after, the children’s corner is great, full of Bonpoint and other goodies. There is even a counter selling Bonpoint fabric, so if you are a bit of a credit cruncher you can make your own little outfits and not have to compromise on quality of the cotton!

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.

Now honestly, is there a better way to use your credit card than with the knowledge that ultimately your spending is going to charity? I think not! Happy shopping, I say!

Emilie at Babycinno
“The Diva of The Day”

P.S. Carol at Paris Breakfasts recently posted a series of pictures of the interior of this shop… to check out Carol’s site and to get more info on Merci visit here.

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What is Babyccino?

Four girls in 4 cities (London, Paris, Amsterdam and Milan) blog discussing life, kids, style and all their favourite must-haves. From art projects and toys to fashion and food, the conversation is genuine, helpful and sometimes funny! With insider tips and reviews from each city, the girls also offer up the best kid-friendly restaurants, shops and activities in their four cities – a great guide for ‘hip and happening’ mums who are either living in or traveling to their cities. Visit the travel guides here.

Reader’s Kitchen Tip and Soup Recipe – From The Contessa

Dearest Diva,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>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.

Bon Appetite!

The Contessa

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The Contessa’s Divine Cream of Mushroom Soup!

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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
and stir.

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!

Of Valentines Past… Perfectly at Home in Berrrrrlin

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/SdR3elXoIqI/AAAAAAAAC10/yGRhRwhwejI/s320/412.JPG” border=”0″ />top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Having recently posted about my “Valentines Affair with LG”, I thought you might appreciate reading about another Valentines gift of years past. WG was away on a business trip that year, freezing in Helsinki, Finland, while I was at home in The Netherlands occupied with Diva Business. He hadn’t bought my Valentines present prior to his trip for he had grand aspirations of buying me a quite unusual present that year. He was searching for a particular item I’d fallen head over heels in love with at a friend’s house.

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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.
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[Photo courtesy of to/beckster/helsinki_turkey/1157740140/04-_fur_stall.jpg/tpod.html” target=”_blank”>Travel Pod
“Reindeer are semi-wild, are not extinct and are killed for their meat. The pelt is a by-product.”]
Fortunately for WG (given he did have work to do and his trip wasn’t entirely devoted to searching for my present) he didn’t have to search far. While I like to think of him cross-country skiing through snow and wind in the Arctic in search of my prized pelt, in reality he checked into his hotel, The Scandic Grand Marina, and there in the lobby of the harbor-view hotel sat a store selling mountainous piles of the pelts for which he’d travelled north.

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!”

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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™

I won! I won! I really won!!

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top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>The last time I won something I was in 3rd grade. At the end of the school year my teacher gave away the class gerbil. Weeks prior to the grand drawing, Mrs. Garretson sent home Parental Consent Forms for the parents to sign, giving their young ones permission to enter the competition. My mother neatly signed her name on my “chance to win” slip saying discretely to my father, “She’ll never win. What’s the harm in letting her enter the drawing?”

Mom ate those words on the last day of school before summer vacation when I carried my gerbil (complete with cage and running ball) out to greet her at the car. Sadly, however, a few days later my cat, Princess Elizabeth, ate the gerbil when a traveling evangelist visited our home. You might wonder about the correlation between a missionary and the cat eating the gerbil, but this is a key element in the story. The evangelist had brought with them not only a stack of Bibles but also their child (whom they couldn’t find a babysitter for). My mother later described “said child” as “The Holy Terror”.

“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.

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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!

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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!

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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!!!

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva™

(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!)

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Note to reader: To the best of my knowledge, no gerbils were harmed in the taking of the top “intro” picture. The tos/31847658@N00/1414078784/” target=”_blank”>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, tos/31847658@N00/sets/72157603920996756/” target=”_blank”>visit Rigsby’s flicker site.

To Beard? Or Not to Beard?

A Question of A Personal Nature…

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>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

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Parisian Wine Guy

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Until next time,

The Antiques Diva™
(who loves her husband avec ou sans beard)

Guest Blog: The Contessa’s Bibles

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>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.

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words and actions of my Lord and God are the most important thing in my life and I could not live without.

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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.

The Contessa’s definition of a Bible “Any-thing you can’t live without!”

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.

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My third bible is”The Illustrated Dictionary of Antiques and Collectibles” by Judith Miller. Miller is one of the world’s foremost experts on antiques and she covers them from A to Z. The book contains over 3.000 entries, listed alphabetically. You can find everything from Aaron’s rod to Zurich pottery and porcelain. There is also a list of dealers and auction houses around the world and Miller also adds informative profiles of key craftsmen and manufacturers. The book is beautifully illustrated with over 1,500 full color photos. If you’re into antiques, this book belongs with you.

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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.

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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!

The Contessa

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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!

Organised Bliss

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top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>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.

Cheers!
The Antiques Diva

Organised Bliss writes:

Diva Readers – It’s 2009 and it’s time to get organized!!
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Another year has gone by and this year is going to be different because you are going to GET ORGANISED once and for all! You have been living with clutter and have become frustrated because you feel your home or office should be more organized. Well, now is the time to get started and finish the job!

You may want to:

  • 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.

Benefits of being organized are many:

  • 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 to:organisedbliss@chello.nl”>organisedbliss@chello.nl