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Summer Antiquing in The Hamptons

Dear Diva Readers,

We’re delighted that Tamara Stephenson, interior designer and author of lifestyle blog Nest by Tamara is guest blogging today, sharing her favorite design sources with The Antiques Diva & Co.  Out on the East End of Long Island in the area known as The Hamptons there are many shows, flea markets and specialty shops.  Tamara sources vintage and antique pieces regularly for herself and her design clients and today shares one of her favorites stops with us.

Guest Blog: My favorite antique shopping in summer allows me to gain more knowledge about items I collect.

By Tamara Matthews-Stephenson

Photographs by Gabby Stephenson

It is no secret that the annual East Hampton Antique Show is my favorite in the area, and set on the bucolic and historic Mulford Farm it is a special place to pick up quality pieces from reliable dealers.  Drawing from some of the best shops around the east coast, this show offers something for everyone’s taste from mid-century to Victorian era furniture and accessories.  I have gotten to know many of the dealers personally in this informal setting, which is located every mid-July on James Lane in the heart of the village of East Hampton on 3.5 acres of historic land, complete with a restored 17th century farm house and several barns and outbuildings, some of the oldest in Long Island.  The farm is even home to a historic windmill built by Dutch settlers centuries ago here in eastern Long Island. The show is set up with large billowing white tents spread throughout the grassy, pretty farm giving visitors plenty of room to meander the property and inspect the goods.

Nest by Tamara, Tamara Matthews-Stephenson, Antiquing in The Hamptons, The Antiques Diva, East Hampton Antique Show, Mulford Farm, Gabby Stephenson

Over the years I have found a cornucopia of lovely antique textiles, outdoor garden sculptures, furniture, mirrors and lamps.   I have even added to my Majolica earthenware collection.  One of my favorite antique dealers hails from the north shore of Boston’s seaside town of Essex. Andrew Spindler hand picks items both locally and internationally for his shop and the shows where he exhibits.  His booth shows rare and unusual furnishings that he arranges together in a stylish manner.

Nest by Tamara, Tamara Matthews-Stephenson, Antiquing in The Hamptons, The Antiques Diva, East Hampton Antique Show, Mulford Farm, Gabby Stephenson, Majolica

Each summer while visiting this show I find pieces to add to my collections.  This year I found vintage hand towels and monogrammed linens from a local vendor to give as a hostess gift.  Last summer, I picked up a cute, Irish impish-looking painted cement garden gnome from a Vermont dealer, promising to bring good luck to my garden.  I also found a pair of Faux Bois metal outdoor chairs for under my client’s pergola.

Nest by Tamara, Tamara Matthews-Stephenson, Antiquing in The Hamptons, The Antiques Diva, East Hampton Antique Show, Mulford Farm, Gabby Stephenson, Majolica

Over the past few seasons, I have added to my collection of Majolica earthenware from this show where a few dealers bring select and unusual pieces.  Majolica is a very specific looking, unique pottery often adorned with flowers, crustacean, seashells, vegetables and fruit, all of which were applied as tiny sculptures layered on top.  It was first made in Staffordshire, England around 1850, and taken from earlier tin-glazed procedures made by craftsmen in Italy during the 15th century. It became very popular during the opulent Victorian era when entertaining in the home was popular.   Majolica is a lead and tin glaze process that creates an opaque white film that is painted on the surface of pottery. First the piece is fired then a tin enamel is applied that once dries forms a white opaque porous surface. The complicated process produces unique pieces that are often colorful and bold.  I learned much about Majolica at the East Hampton show, and while talking directly with the knowledgeable dealers.  The informal atmosphere at the show is a perfect environment to learn more about items you enjoy collecting.

Nest by Tamara, Tamara Matthews-Stephenson, Antiquing in The Hamptons, The Antiques Diva, East Hampton Antique Show, Mulford Farm, Gabby Stephenson, Majolica

Each year the opening of the show is marked by a celebratory cocktail evening/gala where champagne and delicious food is served and provided by local caterer Brent Newsom.   Renowned interior designer Celerie Kemble hosted this year’s gala with live music performed by Jane Hastay and Peter Martin Weiss. Sponsors of the antique show include BNY Mellon Wealth Management, House Beautiful magazine, Channing Daughters Winery and Charlie Whitmore Gardens. The show is managed by Ferguson & D’Arruda of Providence, Rhode Island.

Nest by Tamara, Tamara Matthews-Stephenson, Antiquing in The Hamptons, The Antiques Diva, East Hampton Antique Show, Mulford Farm, Gabby Stephenson, Majolica

Thanks Tamara for sharing an insiders glimpse on antiquing in The Hamptons!

The Antiques Diva®

Celebrating New Year’s – Diva Style!

Dear Diva Readers,

Chez Diva it’s a celebration every day of the year – and so I’m always looking for fab ideas for celebrating with Diva Style! This New Year’s Eve, Roving Reporter Candid Kellogg has written in to The Antiques Diva® site sharing some sensational suggestions for setting a festive table, giving ideas for a memorable New Year’s Eve party!  Kellogg suggests famed antiques dealer MS Rau Antiques for premier one-of-a-kind items that will get the party going!

If you need an excuse to dazzle your guests, or are looking for the ultimate party gift, look no further than MS Rau Antiques, America’s oldest and largest antiques and fine arts dealers located in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans. For close to one hundred years, MS Rau Antiques has been collecting and offering some of the rarest and most important antique and objet d’art pieces ever seen. From a pair of matching sterling silver Paul Storr wine coolers (circa 1810) with royal provenance, to a monumental Baccarat crystal chandelier (circa 1880), you will be dubbed the host or hostess with the mostest this season.

Even if your home doesn’t have a ballroom, you can set the scene and can turn any foyer or entry way into a dramatic entrance for your guests with this awe-inspiring 30-light crystal chandelier by Baccarat, one of the world’s most famous crystal houses in France and called the King of Crystal. Not only does this dazzling light source sport crystal prisms, but crystal beads and bronze doré branches complete the composition. Dating from 1880, Baccarat was already world renowned for its chandeliers and tableware that graced the royal homes of Louis XVIII, Charles X, Emperor Napoleon III, Czar Nicholas II, as well as the royal courts of India and the Middle East. This particular chandelier has been restored for electricity and is offered at $98,500.

Make your open bar a sight to behold with this pair of exquisite Regency period sterling silver wine coolers. Georgian silversmith Paul Storr, whose atelier crafted gracious and elegant silver works during the Regency period, created this matching pair of wine coolers for HRH Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. They are in impeccable condition and exhibit exquisite detailing ($228,500).

Ratchet up your punch recipe by serving it in this rare Tiffany & Co. silver punch set inlaid with copper, circa 1906. Even if it’s used once a year, punch or even eggnog will take on a new meaning and have party guests coming back for more punch and swooning over the sheer size and weight of this service (weighs 335 ounces) that includes 12 cups, bowl, ladle, and plateau tray ($248,500).

After dinner drinks never looked so glamorous when served from this extraordinary ‘cavé liqueur’, a crystal enclosed cabinet in cut ruby crystal and accented in gilt bronze (circa 1870). Three liqueur bottles and 15 matching cordial glasses, all decorated with hand gilding, fit snugly inside this gorgeous Rococo style case, and are displayed on a mirrored glass tray that is removable from the circular case and has an intricately decorated lid. The workmanship is beyond exquisite and even for those who don’t make a habit out of serving after dinner drinks, this exceptional ‘cavé liqueur’ is something that get everyone talking.

This New Year’s Eve, celebrate with Diva Style with a  little help from our friends at MS Rau in New Orleans.

Happy New Years,
The Antiques Diva®

Guest Blog: All I want for Christmas is Vintage

Dear Diva Readers,

While I’m in Houston speaking on Antique Shopping in Europe – we’ve got a SPECIAL GUEST BLOGGER at The Antiques Diva® & Co.  The absolutely affable antiques dealer Mr George Johnson of Lady Kentmores is a jolly good chap from Scotland who’s objective is to make antiques and collectibles the “new rock and roll.”  A man after my own heart, this well-known Scottish retro dealer and I were recently chatting via Twitter about our favorite Christmas presents and he mentioned that he always gives antiques as presents whether for the holidays or a birthday, wedding, etc.  Needless to say I needed to know more about his gift-giving trends, thinking his idea of antiques as presents was just my style!  The next thing George knew he was writing a guest blog for The Antiques Diva® & Co.  You never know what might happen when you engage me on Twitter or Facebook!
Happy Shopping Readers, so Ta Ta from Me – The Antiques Diva – and

Hello from George Johnson of Lady Kentmore Antiques

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Guest Blog – A Vintage Christmas

I am just back from a trip to the local city with my wife and I’m always amazed about how many people go crazy this time of year buying bags full of gifts for friends and relatives. How many of these items do we even remember the next year?As a family we have always tried to avoid this ourselves, as we give each other vintage gifts for Christmas and indeed for other occasions, when we have family wedding we always give an antique item or even a small gold coin as these are gifts that have a history and also can be a investment for the future for the couple getting hitched.

Christmas is a time for families and a lot of people are gifting family heirlooms – this might be in part due to the current financial climate but also it might be because people are realising that massed produced store bought goods don’t really stand the test of time. Most of my own treasured possessions are items that once belonged to my great grandparents and grandparents that have been passed down to me, not only do these items look fabulous in my home they also give the house a sense of history and belonging.

I have been having a look around the web to see what vintage gifts I could find for a traditional family and the range of antique and vintage good available is astounding and can suit every taste and budget. For each family member I will choose a budget and a luxury item.

For a fabulous sixty-something mother I have found these wonderful items.

How about this fabulous Victorian Blue Opal & 1.40ct Diamond Pendant, it is a stunning example of high quality Victorian jewellery and would make any mother very happy on Christmas morning. It is for sale on the www.laurelleantiquejewellery.co.uk website for £3,275.00.

If your budget doesn’t stretch that far there are still lots of more pocket friendly items out there like this vintage Enid Collins jewelled owl ‘Wise Guy Box Bag’ from 1962, it is in unused condition and would be a fabulous and unusual present, these bags are becoming very collectable but you could pick up this very fine example from www.lovelysvintageemporium.com for £285 which is a great price for this desirable item.

For the 30-something daughter Vintage items are a brilliant buy and can have much more style and glamour than their  high street bought equivalents.  If budget is not an issue this William Comyns Silver & Tortoiseshell Box would look great on any dressing table and would be very useful to keep her best jewellery in. The Tortoiseshell Jewellery Box, with applied Stirling silver swags and beautiful roped edged borders, stands on four tortoiseshell bun feet. It is hallmarked for 1904 and is for sale on the www.hamptonantiques.co.uk website for £ 3,750.00.

A girl can never have enough handbags and vintage bags can be wonderful presents as they are very functional and can also be great investments, this fabulous vintage orange Chanel handbag dates from the 1980’s and has never been used it oozes style and glamour and would bring a smile to any girl’s face when she unwraps it on Christmas morning, it is for sale on www.lovelysvintageemporium.com for only £799.

Buying for a sixty-something Father is always a hard one as they seem to have everything they need but I have managed to find two items that would make any dad happy on Christmas morning.

If that is a bit too rich for you this Elegant Coromandel Tantalus that was made by retailers Benetfink Cheapside has a silver-plated carrying handle and silver-plated decoration on the sides and front. It’s a wonderful gift that would get years of use it dates from circa 1880 and contains three superb full cut Hobnail decanters with faceted stoppers & star-cut bases – all contained in a satinwood surround within the coromandel frame. It is for sale on www.hamptonantiques.co.uk for £995 and I am sure it would get a lot of use over the holidays.

So what vintage Gifts could you find for the thirty-something Son, I have decided to go down the quirky route as these kinds of collectables can be the most fun and are great for the person who has everything. The luxury item I would choose would be Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 training suit, signed by the man himself, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned moon landing in history. In July 1969 he became the second person to ever step on the moon’s surface and how fabulous would it be to have one of the his signed training suits framed in your office. Well if you fancy making someone’s Christmas you can buy this from www.paulfrasercollectibles.com for the grand price of £75,000.

This might not be in most people’s budget but this is and it is one of the most fun items I’ve seen, who wouldn’t laugh when they unwrap a Piano Playing taxidermy Frog. Standing at 17cms high this little bullfrog is sure to create a fun atmosphere on Christmas morning and he is for sale at www.skinnerandhyde.co.uk for £85.

So as you can see there is plenty of choice if you fancy giving vintage gifts and in a lot of cases the presents that you find can be a lot more personal and fun.

Happy Holidays from the Divo of the Day,
George Johnson of Lady Kentmores Antiques

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George Johnson writes about antiques and quirky collectibles for national magazines and publications including Antique Info Magazine and Antiques News.

George owns Lady Kentmores antique & collectable shop in Callander, Scotland. It is very different from the majority antique shops that you might come across. But what else could you expect from someone who has a mission to make antiques and collectables “The New Rock’n’Roll”?

His life goal is to inject the antiques trade with a shot of fun and quirkiness. He started trading in antiques from an early age and has knowledge in the traditional aspects of the market.  But it’s the quirky side that he finds really interesting. From 1970s platform shoes to 15th Century Pirate chests, he loves anything different.

George is from a travelling showman background and this is a heritage he is very proud of, he can trace his families’ funfair & circus roots back through both sides of his parents. This lets him bring a bit of the Victorian fairground showmanship & entertainment into the antique industry.

If you would like to find out more about George visit www.ladykentmores.com or on twitter at www.twitter.com/LadyKentmores

BONE-jour: A Diva Reader Comments of Café Dogs

Dear Diva Readers,

An Antiques Diva reader recently left a comment on a blog I wrote about Flea Market Dogs and her comment so captured the essence of Paris that I asked if I could share her comment as a blog post!

 
 

Rebecca and her dearly departed RT. Photo credit: Lynn K. Williams

 

Rebecca writes:
On my first trip to Paris (circa 1976), while enjoying dinner at Le Train Bleu, I noticed a beautiful Bull Dog at the next table – he was known by the waiter and his service dishes were on the table  – not under it!  He sat at the table as proper as any human could, and sad to say, better than most people I know today.

On another day we stopped to have lunch at a small crowded sidewalk café.  I squeezed into the back seat of a tiny table (I could squeeze into things back then!).   For the entire time we were there, a red Dachshund doggie, being held by his mistress, snoozed with his head on my shoulder.

Photo credit above:  from one of my favorite blogs, “Paris at a Certain Age”

On my more recent trip to Paris – in particular those to the flea market – I was amazed to see a dog wandering thru and lifting a leg on a high-end antique.  I fully expected to hear a proprietor scold as only the French can do… but there was no reaction.  It was eventually wiped off the furniture but no one appeared distressed.  I came to the conclusion that perhaps this only added to the patina!! 

 

Flea Market Dogs - The Antiques Diva

 

My trips abroad are short because I have animals I don’t want to be away from. At the time of one of my trips, I was owned by a little Rat Terrier named RT (see photo at top). RT was a handful! When I spotted the beautiful little creature in the shelter, I knew he would be back and forth to the shelter unless I to the shelter, or worse, unless I took him home. I still have the image of a little “RT” in Paris trotting down the street and wishing how my RT could be there too! I think Paris would have been his kind of town!

Today’s post is in memory of RT. As Rebecca explained in an email to me about her adorable rat terrier, “He would be so pleased to be remembered in this manner. I had to put him down due to diabetes – it nearly killed me. He was such a character. He also perked up when I practiced my few words of French; in particular “BONE-jour”!

To all dogs full of French Spirit regardless of which side of the Atlantic they roam, I wish you “BONE-jour”!

Yours,

The Antiques Diva
(seen below in my alter-doggie-ego)

Photo credit: Jim Dratfield Cafe Pug

Guest Blog from Chef in Berlin: Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Below is a Guest Blog from the wonderful “Chef in Berlin”!

Dear Diva Readers,

You don’t need to lead the life of the rich and famous to enjoy “Champagne Wishes or Caviar Dreams.” 

When I saw the new “Designer Tag Sale” The Antiques Diva® & Co was offering on their website, I was like a kid in a candy store.  A multitude of gorgeous caviar presentation dishes caught my eye and I told the Diva that as CHEF in BERLIN” it was practically my obligation to write a Guest Blog to share some Caviar details with you!  

Rosenthal Champagne and Caviar Cooler

Have you ever wondered what real caviar actually is? The world’s leading producer is Iran at 300,000 metric tons, followed by Russia’s Soviet States. Both countries border the Caspian Sea which is the world’s largest salt-water lake.  Caviar is actually a type of fish egg called roe. Exactly like Champagne has its own designation, caviar traditionally comes from the sturgeon roe. Today these eggs come from a wide variety of fish like beluga (the most expensive up to $25,000/kg), trout, salmon, and other sorts of fish that are raised to produce the eggs. Beluga is the most prized and the price is directly relevant to the age of the fish. Apparently the older Beluga sturgeon can take up to 20 years to mature and their eggs range in color from black to pearly white. 

Saint Hilaire Caviar Knife

When eating caviar, it’s all about the accessories!  Caviar is typically eaten with a bone, horn or mother-of-pearl spoon or spreading knife since a metal or silver one imparts a metallic taste.  Another way to serve caviar is with a gold spoon as it also has qualities that do not impact the taste. 

Aficionados and purists might not agree on all of the typical caviar garnishes but one thing they do agree with is that caviar should be enjoyed with either ice cold vodka (my favorite way to consume caviar) or, as The Antiques Diva® does, with “un coup de champagne”. 

Saint Hilaire Caviar and Vodka Presentation Set

There are loads of caviar imposters like lumpfish (hard black or red colored eggs), salmon or trout (orange/red in color), or whitefish (golden color). Last week I saw green caviar which is some sort of manufactured wasabi product – it seems to be popular on the sushi circuit for its bright psychedelic green hue.  They are sort of the “proseccos and sparkling wines” of the caviar circuit.

As I know Diva Readers love La France, I must share with you that France has its own type of caviar called Poorman’s Caviar. It’s not fish eggs but rather a whole baked eggplant mixed with a whole roasted head of garlic. Slather it on a chunky baguette and sip some champagne!  Perfect budget-friendly party food!

Champagne Kisses and Caviar Dreams,

CHEF in BERLIN
(seen below with The Antiques Diva®)

 

Jill DiGiovanni is “CHEF in BERLIN” – a Germany-based Canadian who has taken Berlin by storm with her great selection of gourmet offerings.  She’s a personal chef for hire who offers in home catering, private cooking lessons and custom menus for busy people. Visit www.chefinberlin.com for more information.

Guest Blog – Antique Shopping with Brian in Buenos Aires

When Antiques Diva reader Brian, a hot-shot attorney in Washington DC, emailed his recent pics from an antique shopping excursion in Buenos Aires, I knew these photos were diva-worthy! Brian was downright giddy in his email as he described his shopping experience, saying that with an exchange rate of 3:1, he could afford to buy practically anything his heart desired and that the pickings were rife with good selection, unique finds and fantastic local memorabilia.

Thanks for sharing, Brian!

The Sunday market at Plaza Dorrego, open from 10 am – 5 pm. Time Out says there are 270 stalls selling “antique dolls, soda siphons, jewellry, tango memorabilia, and collectibles.”

Stalls selling all sorts of goods at Plaza Dorrego.

Folks were selling fresh empanadas at the Sunday market.

Here is one antiques stall that caught my eye. It had all sorts of leather goods relating to horses. Although not something I would have thought of initially, I could see the decorating possibilities.

Tango dancers.

This sign captured the sentiment of the neighborhood.

There is also a covered antique and food market open during the week.

Sign for a food stall at the San Telmo covered market.

Covered antiques market.

On Sundays, the streets in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires become pedestrian only and many merchants display their wares.

The Sunday market in the streets of San Telmo. The street Defensa, between Independencia and San Juan, is the main street for Sunday merchants.

San Telmo also has a large number of antique stores open during the week as well.

The Sunday market has terrific street performers, in addition to great shopping, like these tango dancers.

More tango dancers.

Guest Blog – The Contessa – I hate Summer!

The Contessa is back with another Guest Blog especially for you, dear Diva Readers!!!!

Guest Blogger – The Contessa writes:
Spring has sprung in New York and all the flowers are in bloom. But we’ve already had some 90 degree plus days and that’s not spring, that’s summer. I HATE SUMMER! There – I said it and I’m not going to apologize for it. Let me explain….As a child, I never got sick during the school year. All my childhood diseases…mumps, chicken pox and whopping cough I managed to get right in the middle of Summer. As an adult, my one major surgery and my heart attack both happened…you guessed it…in the summer. I hate bugs, humidity and sweaty people. I HATE SUMMER.

However, there are a few things I love about summer…fresh veggies, my central air conditioning, a crystal clear swimming pool, Saratoga Springs and cold plates.

Cold plates I’m sure are not my invention but I sort of perfected what I consider to be the perfect summer meal without turning on any heat at all. Basically they are a mixture of whatever I have handy that goes together to make an interesting meal…. I usually start with a meat or fish. Meats can be any nice cold sliced meat such as roast beef, ham, turkey or chicken. If I’m in a particularly Mediterranean mood, I add salami, prosciutto or pepperoni. If I’m not in a meat mood, I use fish…cold, iced shrimp or cold salmon (my favorite). You can also use crab, sardines, smoked salmon or trout and if you really want, raw oysters or clams. I also like to use tinned smoked oysters.

Now the rest of the plate can be whatever you have available….grapes, strawberries, pate, pickles, cornichons, avocado, artichoke hearts, olives, coleslaw, corn relish, 3 bean salad, macaroni salad, grilled veggies, hard boiled eggs, chow-chow, and of course almost any kind of cheese….cottage, swiss, brie, cheddar, feta, etc. To finish it off, I always add some fresh veggies…tomatoes, radish, green onions, cucumber, mushrooms and carrots.

A nice cold plate on a hot day is one reason why I LOVE SUMMER!

The Contessa,
Guest Blogger – Diva of the Day

USA Edition Guest Blog – La Reine’s Day Trip to Litchfield County, CT

La Reine is back with another exciting Guest Blog for Antiques Diva Readers!!

In early March, the sun peeked out of the NYC clouds, the temperatures skyrocketed to nearly 60, and The Big Guy and I decided the open roads beckoned and it was time for a day trip. Our former home in nearby Litchfield County, CT, is only about 90 miles northeast of our home in NYC, in the northwest corner of Connecticut, and since it had been nearly 15 years since we’d returned, we decided to take a little walk down memory lane combined with a little antiquing, lunching and shopping.

Litchfield County is known for its rolling hills, picturesque Revolutionary-era villages, prep schools, horse farms, and of course, antiquing. For 3 years we lived halfway between Litchfield and Woodbury, two villages known for their shopping and antiquing. We drove up I-95, crossed over to I-84, and found our way to route 6, where we slowly cruised through the countryside and enjoyed the melting snow and barren trees, watching winter slowly dissipate. After the obligatory stop in front of our former Victorian-style home, we took photos to text to our kids, pointing out how few changes the present owners had made.

Then onto Litchfield, where we had spent many weekend afternoons browsing, shopping and lunching, often after an afternoon cross-country skiing in the nearby White Memorial Park. As we were only there for the day, we decided to limit our Litchfield excursion to West Street on The Green, the “main drag” or town center of this charming town. Our first stop was Les Plaisirs de la Maison, a French-Country antiques store which conveniently had a parking spot directly in front. While I was investigating the dishware and tabletop accessories, TBG was checking the framed maps of France, looking for maps that included our favorite holiday spot, Corsica (often missing from old French maps as it went back and forth between France and Italy). Despite the 20% off all inventory promotions in effect, we didn’t find anything we desperately needed or wanted, although if I go back, a magnifying lens in the shape of a fleur-de-lys was intriguing. However, we enjoyed watching another couple trying to decide if a 6 foot by 3 foot table with 6 leaves was big enough for their entertaining needs: we have a small 2 bed/2 bath on the Upper West Side, where I’m not sure this table would make it in the elevator: I know it wouldn’t fit in my dining room!

Then, it was well past noon and our Starbucks cups were long empty, so on the advice of several shoppers, we strolled to the corner and tried a recently opened restaurant, @the corner. We were not disappointed. As usual, TBG tested the burger, and I ordered the Thai chicken wrap, and my only regret was that I hadn’t ordered the other half to take with: it was far too large to eat in one setting, but I was afraid of it sitting in the car all afternoon.

After a hot and foamy cappuccino, we wandered into Kitchenworks and Gourmet Gifts, which I did not remember from previous visits. The owners assured me it’s been in Litchfield for 30 years, but had recently relocated from around the corner. After purchasing a few kitchen necessities (including a microwave egg cooker, which we have used quite successfully several times), I continued on to Workshop Inc, where I scored some hugely discounted Christmas napkin rings (for my gift drawer!) and a new summer top, sadly full-price. TBG had spotted a long-ago favorite, R. Derwin Clothiers. This men’s store is clearly for those with English-country aspirations: Hunter boots, Scottish cashmere, Italian suiting, TBG was happy happy! After wrapping up a silk pocket square and brightly knit cashmere socks, I reluctantly dragged TBG along to our next stop, and the next, and the next. Soon, TBG was stocking up on teas at Flora & Fauna; the Harney and Sons Paris blend is delicious, and appropriately housed in a white and blue tin!

Before we knew it, the sun was lowering in the sky and we hadn’t even been to Woodbury! So back down rte 6, past White Flower Farm (unfortunately closed for the season, but there will be a Part Deux: we will be back in the spring!) Shortly we were stopping at Mill House Antiques, on Main Street in Woodbury, one of my long-time favorite antiquing wonder-amas. The grounds and buildings alone are worth the visit: the 17th century shop is situated on the Nonnewaug River, with a grist mill out back, 7 out buildings, and luscious gardens, all carefully restored.

While The Big Guy entered into a long conversation on the limited edition Lionel train on display (the owner hopes to open a train store on one of the out-properties soon), I wandered the 4 buildings filled to the brim with tables, chairs, chandeliers, clocks, end tables, paintings, pottery and glassware: all gorgeous, all quality, all pricey. My favorite discovery was the “Rolodex Table”: a round English landowner’s drum table, with the perimeter constructed of drawers, one for each renter, so the landowner could keep his accounts straight. Too clever! Keep your eyes open at this well-known antiques haven: you never know who you might see here!

C’est triste, we had reached Saturday 5pm closing times for the shops, and we sadly drove past many more antiques and specialty shops in
Woodbury, all along rte 6. However, we know we’ll be back when White Flower Farm gets their tomatoes and herb plants in stock, this time we’ll leave a little earlier, and lunch a little quicker!

A la prochaine,
La Reine

Guest Blog: Flower Basics from The Contessa

Guest Blogger The Contessa writes:

Knowing that I was the daughter of 2 florists (or as they are now called “floral artists”), The Antiques Diva asked me for some tips on flowers. I grew up surrounded by beautiful blossoms all the time. My father also had a love for growing and had 3 large greenhouses. He was, at one time, the largest geranium grower in New York State. His designs won many awards and today, on the anniversary of his passing, I am proud to pass along some things I learned from him.

First of all, if at all possible, grow a cutting garden. There is nothing more wonderful than being able to go out to your yard and come back with an armful of beautiful fleurs to beautify your home. I myself have a garden that has poppies, tulips, irises, lilies of the valley, rhodeodendrums, hydrangeas plus a few others. I am also blessed with a patch of wild violets – both purple and white. Whatever is in season is what you will find in my house at the time. There is nothing more wonderful smelling than a house in the spring filled with lilacs, lilies of the valley, tulips and violets. I keep a variety of vases in all sizes to fill each room with flowers. Although a lot of my garden is spring flower oriented, try to grow flowers that will bloom at different times from spring to fall so that you will always have something available.

If you don’t have room for a garden, I encourage you to support your local florist or farmers market.
OK…Now that you have flowers, what do you do with them? Always, always, always if you haven’t cut them fresh yourself, recut the bottom of the stem before you put them in water. Prepare the water by putting a low dose aspirin (81 mgs) into the water along with a good-sized pinch of sugar. The sugar serves as food for the flower and the aspirin allows the plant to absorb water more easily.

Arranging the flowers is a bit of a personal thing. No one likes the same thing all the time. One important tip….as you are arranging your flowers, make sure all leaves are above the water line. If you don’t do this, the leaves will rot quickly and make for a really foul smelling water. There is nothing I like better than a tall clear vase with about a half dozen white gladiolas. I think it is sheer elegance. I also prefer a smaller vase with white tulips. If you prefer a mix, it’s up to you. Color co-ordinate as you would your wardrobe. In other words, don’t put orange and purple flowers in the same vase. ICK! Now that doesn’t apply if you are doing a big arrangement of wild flower. Mother Nature has provided us with a beautiful palate of wild flowers that somehow always seem to go together. Here in upstate NY, you can drive along a country road and pick a variety of wild flowers from Black Eyed Susan’s to Queen Ann’s Lace.

No matter how you arrange your flowers, the trick is just to do it. No home is complete without some of nature’s beauty. Enjoy!

The Contessa – The Diva of The Day

A Note From The Antiques Diva

Have you enjoyed the photos in today’s blog? All of these beautiful pictures were taken at Holland’s famous garden Keukenhof – the world’s largest flower garden with over 7 Million flower bulbs planted annually! In 2009 Keukenhof will be open from March 19 to May 21 – and this Diva typically visits a number of times to see the blossoms in their various stages. Rumor has it that this year mid April is the best time to go to Keukenhof.

Do you feel like doing a Divalicious Craft Project? This Spring take pictures of your garden and turn those photos into cards with the help of Kodak Gallery’s photo tools?

Guest Blog: The Contessa’s Bibles

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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