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Friday, June 19, 2009

A Bright Picnic

Being a Floridian, I have a weakness for bright colored designs. These napkins are called The Picnic Collection from Hen House. They are bright and cheery and make me want to sit in the sun with a glass of lemonade, or a margarita (if I'm gonna be honest!). I haven't had a picnic in years, so these are very inspiring. I like that they are 100% cotton and easy to clean, which means they are great for indoors and outdoors. The different patterns are fun too. I'm on a solid color against white kick right now, some what of an obsession. Anything that is bright and clean seems to draw me in! I also like the green and yellow striped napkins below... Well since it's Friday I think i'll go home and start celebrating my weekend early. I'm hoping there is lots of sunshine and no rain, which seems to be a weekend theme these past few weeks. If its nice, i'll go have a picnic with my new napkins at the beach tomorrow. Oh and I can't think of anything better to go with my picnic napkins, than one of these... They seem to match pretty well! A Margarita Martini, two of my favorite things put together. Does it get any better than that?? Hope everyone has a sunny and rain free weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tropical Table Accessories

I am in love with these new Bali Placemats we just got in at Pioneer Linens. They are so cute and casual for summer. They are handmade from natural straw. The little circles that adorn the sides are made from coconut shells. The color is my favorite. Especially on the Havana Napkins also featured in this picture. Here is a close up of the napkins below...The silhouette look with the big palm leaf, reminds me of Hawaii. These napkins are so fun and tropical, great for summer. The color is so pretty, I want to take them to the beach with me for a picnic. They will match the ocean perfectly! The napkin rings are also awesome. I would wear these napkin rings as a braclet, if it would fit around my wrist. They look just like jewelry. The colors are really fun together and bright. I'm pretty smitten with this style, its just so fresh and fun. What a great collection. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Worth Tasting

As a proud member of the Junior League of the Palm Beaches, one of my requirements each year is to buy our cookbook, Worth Tasting. I have always been a fan of cookbooks because without written instructions, I would probably burn or over salt whatever I'm making. Last weekend, I was feeling ambitious and decided I was going to cook a big dinner for my family. I started looking through some old cookbooks that were my grandmothers, but they were just too old school... who uses lard to cook with anymore? disgusting! Instead of the old traditional recipes, I decided to finally open up my Junior League cookbook, Worth Tasting..One word, YUM! Since I've never really been great at cooking chicken I decided to go with a more carnivorous choice. On page 83, the first page of the beef, lamb and pork section, I found a recipe for Cabernet Beef Tenderloin with Shallots. I'm quite competitive. So when I do cook, I try to make something over the top, that gets a lot of praise. This was definitely the right choice! Here are the ingredients: Cabernet Beef Tenderloin with Shallots
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup of chopped shallots
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
2 cups of cabernet sauvignon or other red wine
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
2 - 2 1/2 pounds of beef tenderloin trimmed
Olive Oil for brushing
Course Salt to taste

Turn on the oven to Bake at 450 degrees. Arrange the tenderloin on a trimmed baking sheet and rub or brush the surface with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let it cook in the oven for 45 minutes for medium. Remove the tenderloin to a platter and cover loosely with foil. Let stand for 20 minutes. Cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.

While the tenderloin is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and thyme and saute for 5 minutes or until the shallots are brown. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes or until the flour browns, stirring frequently. Whisk in the wine and broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, whisking frequently. Whisk in the cream and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Cook just until heated through. Remove from heat and cover up to keep warm. You may prepare up to one day in advance (I did it the same day, and it was still very good).I also prepared a side of Tarragon- Roasted Asparagus Tips, another recipe I found in worth tasting. It was really nice to have a light vegetable to go with the tenderloin.

Taragon- Roasted Asparagus Tips
2 pounds of fresh asparagus spears
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of water
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh tarragon
salt and pepper to taste.

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus spears; the spears should be approximately 4 to 5 inches long. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, water, shallots and tarragon in a bowl and pour over the asparagus, turning to coat. Sprinkle salt and pepper and roast at 375 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until light brown.

I hope you all will try the recipe out, or at least just go pour yourself a glass of cabernet, and think about it. If your planning a dinner party for some friends, it's a pretty delectable meal to impress them with. Unless they are vegetarians, then I would probably go with something else. I have to say I was quite surprised how many great recipes there are in Worth Tasting. I'll try to share some other delicious ones, that I try out in the future!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Staycation: Part 2

Last week, I spent some time writing about taking a STAYcation, a vacation right in your own home. I started with some tips on how to transform your backyard and bedroom, into a 5 star resort. So lets continue today with the part of your transformation process I would like to call, STAYcation Relaxation. So, here are some tips on turning your bathroom into a luxury spa.I have to say, I have a pretty healthy obsession with hotels. Some people love expensive shoes, I love nice hotels. And let me tell you... a pair of designer shoes and a night at a fabulous hotel, are not that different in price! With that being said, there are a few things I always look for during my hotel adventures, that separates a nice hotel bathroom from a luxurious, spa-like bathroom. The weight of the towels, a nice terry robe, slippers, fine soaps, bubble baths and seasalts are among the top of my list. The first thing I check out in a hotel bathroom are the towels. Because I am a nutcase, I usually start by counting how many there are. I think I do this because of a french hotel, that scarred me for life by providing only a hand towel to dry off with... so now, I like to make sure I have at least two full towel sets and then some extra bath sheets. The next thing I notice is the color. Hotel towels are ALWAYS white! I always look for a color because, I have never been to hotel that didn't have white towels. Have you? I'd love to know if you have and where it is, because I would need to see this for myself. For your home spa, I think you should pick any color you want. We're trying to make your home into a personal resort for YOU, so add a color that represents your own style and taste. I'm personally stocked, at my home resort, with the Chase Towel, by Sferra shown below. This towel is built with everything you can think of and more, that makes a towel dreamy. To give you a little lesson in towels, a high gram weight is what makes a towel really absorbent and the material is what gives a towel the soft snuggly feel. The Chase Towel, has a 700 gram weight, making it a super absorbent towel. It is woven with plush, looped terry which gives it a luxuriously soft feeling. A quality towel like this, can be hard to find and once you own Chase, you will be drying off in luxury, forever. Another divine towel choice is the Etoile towel, by Yves Delorme, shown below. They are a blend of 100% terry cotton and modal, also a great quality towel that will last forever. They are so silky and soft, I sometimes get out of the shower and just sit around in my towel. Maybe watch some tv, eat some dinner, all the things you can do in a towel, while on STAYcation! Here's a picture of the Etoile Towel, below. Next on my list, of must have amenities, is a bath robe. If you don't already own a bath robe, you really must buy one. Having a big, soft bathrobe to slip on, after stepping out of the shower or getting up after a long soak in the bath tub, is just plain delightful. Plain and simple, a robe is an essential for your home and a necessity for your STAYcation. They are the first thing given to you at a spa to make you feel more relaxed. It's also funny how, when you see a robe hanging in a hotel bathroom, you know your staying in a nice place. The same reaction I have when I see the red soles on a pair of Christian Louboutins, I immediately think luxurious and expensive. It's insane how many kinds of robes there are to choose from. I personally like my robe to be extra soft with pockets, like the Etoile bath robe shown below.The Etoile bath robe from Yves Delorme, matches the Etoile towels mentioned above. The Etoile bath robe is, fo sho, my number one pick for a relaxing bath robe. It is made from a blend of terry cotton and modal. It is so absorbent, you can use it as a towel too. This bath robe is perfect for your STAYcation, it's so cuddley and soothing against the skin. I stated above about the Etoile towels, how I enjoy just sitting in them around the house, well I do the same with the Etoile bath robe. It's a little better of a choice to lounge around the house in and probably a bit more acceptable to answer the door in as well. Here is a picture of me wearing the Etoile bath robe around my family's linen store, Pioneer Linens. The other day I put it on, then got into our display bathtub and pulled the curtain back. One of the sales ladies came over to open the curtain back up, and I popped out and surprised her! It was pretty funny. I always enjoy a good laugh...I also want to share with you the Cairo Bath Robe by Matouk, it is very clean and elegant looking. I think the piping around the collar and the monogramming makes it look extra sophisticated. It is made from 100% Egyptian cotton and has a gram weight of 625, making it very thick and luscious. Here is a picture of the Cairo... Slippers are my next item you must have in your bathroom. Slippers are just like the bath robe, in the sense that they remind us of luxury and relaxation. You can put on some spa slippers and pretend your sitting in first class on a jet to anywhere in the world. An ideal item to give you the feeling your on vacation. They are great for putting you in a complete zen mode. The spa slippers below, are quite comfortable and cozy. They are very well made and 100% terry cotton. The best display I've ever seen of hotel slippers, was at The New York Palace Hotel. The housekeeper came to turn down the bed and laid down a towel on the floor, then put the slippers on top of the towel and laid the robe on top of the bed. It was fantastic and really nice to come back to after walking around the city all day long. The New York Palace has some of the nicest and most courteous staff members, I have ever met. I will definitely be modeling my STAYcation after that hotel. I just wish I could have the same view I had there, from my bedroom window at home! The towels, bath robes and slippers will surely transform your bathroom, but now we need those extra touches that really make it special. When I want to relax and really escape from the world, I love to light some candles, pour in the bath salts and take a nice warm bath. I like a candle that burns for hours, that really gives off a nice sent. The candle i'm really in love with at the moment is, The Lavender Fragrance by Thymes.The smell of lavender is extremely soothing and this particular lavender scented candle, is like having your own lavender garden right in your bathroom. I also like to add some Provence Bath Gel, to suds up my water a bit. It's like traveling to the south of france.The smell is very light and not too perfumey. I also enjoy the soaps and lotions, as well.If your going on STAYcation with your lover, you can make your tub scene romantic by adding some rose petals. Some soft music can also be pretty sweet. I personally, prefer not to share my bath water, but thats just me. Well, I hope this is a good start for making your home a bit more relaxing this summer. If you can think of anything I need to add, just leave a comment!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Planning Your Staycation

As I continue on this week about my favorite things of summer, I thought I should spend some time on a topic that brings relief to many people this time of year. That topic being, summer vacation. Since this year many of us are cutting back, I thought I should introduce a new, trendy, and less expensive area to visit. A place located right in your own back, and front yard... your home! This summer it's time to treat yourself to a STAYcation. I know your thinking, boring, but really there are some great ways to make your home into a five star retreat and today I plan on sharing. So DON'T pack your bags, we're going on STAYcation!
Lets start, right here with your own backyard...
Ok, ok... I know your backyard probably doesn't look like the Hearst Castle. If your backyard does look like the hearst castle, lucky you becuase you'll probably be taking a real vacation this summer! If your backyard looks more like the one below, congratulations. You are about to turn your patchy grass into your very own resort. Whether you claim a small area or a large yard with a pool, your backyard can be a great getaway from life. First, I suggest investing in some lounge chairs. The good thing about lounge chairs are that they come in all different types of styles and sizes depending on how much you want to spend. What better way to feel like your at a resort than to go outside on a sunny day and fall asleep in a lounge chair. I think having your own lounge chair to staycation in, is a lot better than actually going to a resort. You have much more privacy and don't have to worry about whether that creepy old guy with the body hair, is staring you down (theres always at least one!). You can start your morning lounging with a newspaper and cup of coffee then, if you work all day, come right back home grab a beer or a glass of wine and relax some more! If you want something with a lot of cushion, these two lounge chairs from Pottery Barn are pretty nice. If your looking for a romantic staycation, the big one would be perfect to cuddle up on. The smaller one, for a single, is really cute too. If you had two it would be perfect for you and a friend. If those are too much for your wallet to handle, there are also these less expensive (I never use the word cheap!) lounging options all under $100, From Kmart A nice addition to the lounge chair, are some lounge chair covers. I love these Tote' N Towels from Pioneer Linens. The great thing about these are that they start out as a tote bag and switch into a lounge chair cover or towel. You can also make them very resort like, by monogramming them with your initials or have some fun by creating your own resort name to monogram on there. These are really nice to have especially if you live near a lake or beach. Just throw your stuff in and go! If you want to really feel like your in paradise, add some nice green plants and some tiki torches. Tiki torches glow in the backyard very nicely and if you fill them up with a citronella oil, they will keep away all the bugs. Whether you have a pool or not, with just these few ideas, you can make your backyard an oasis. I found this beautiful picture below from Bamboo and Tikis, that shows a great example of what you can do with just some lounge chairs, plants and tiki torches. There you have it, a tropical resort to come home to all summer long. Transforming your bedroom into a 5 star hotel room, is actually quite easy. Your bedroom is the key to a fabulous STAYcation. Lets start with your bedding. One of the questions we hear most in our linen store is, "where can I find some sheets like the ones I slept in at the (insert fancy hotel name here) resort and spa?" It's always an easy question to answer, as most of the linen brands we carry make the fine sheets in hotel. If you want to give your bed the hotel look and feel, my first choice for bedding would be the Grande Hotel Collection. I put these linens at the top becuase they have the classic hotel look with the double rows of satin stitching. They are incredibly soft, as they are finely woven with 100% Italian Egyptian cotton. These sheets are probably even better than the fine sheets you sleep on in a hotel. I like to think of buying nice linens as an investment with a really fabulous return. The Grande Hotel collection will definitely give your STAYcation the feeling of a luxurious resort. If your looking to add some additional comfort try the Versaille Pillow by Scandia Down. This exceptional pillow, pictured below, is filled with certified hypoallergenic Hungarian white goose down. It's the creme de la creme and will keep you sleeping soundly for years to come. Now heres the really good news, not only can you sleep like your in a palace everynight, you can sleep in, without any worries of a check out time or a housekeeper knocking on your door to wake you up! If you have kids, that last part about getting woken up, does not apply to your STAYcation...Well Im going stop my post here for today. So take some time to soak in the first half of ideas for booking your STAYcation. Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2. I'll share some tips on making your bathroom into a spa!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What The Shell?

In the past few weeks, I have noticed an abundance of shell designs everywhere. I'm aware that shell designs are a common trend for Florida, but recently I have seen designers using them on everything. I have to say, I've never been completely shell crazy but some of the designs I've seen lately are really fun. This morning at work, our sales ladies were changing the bed in our display window to some new bedding from LuLu Dk. I have always loved the patterns and prints by LuLu Dk, so I was excited to see what her new designs are for the season. When the bed was all made up, I went back to see how it looked and the picture below is what I saw. It's shell madness, I tell you... I actually like this bed a lot though and personally I think it would be great for a guest bedroom at a beach house. I like that it comes in a coral color as well. And Lulu Dk's linens are some of the finest sheets, that will last forever. Her new line is filled with shells, we also just got in this new design too. It's called Treasure. The pillow cases, embroidered with the coral design, are my favorite. The color is nice too. Her new shell designed throw pillows are also something to take a look at. I love the mosaic motif she did here, it's really unique. Shells also adorned the inside of Elle Decor last month, when the magazine went inside the home of actress, Ali Wentworth and ABC News Anchor, George Stephanopoulos. There home is located in the DC area and shows that they too are fans of the shell movement. They are seen on almost every shelf in their home. Below are some pictures taken by Simon Upton, for Elle Decor. I love the one that sits in the fire place. Their collection of shells in the picture below are used almost as a piece of artwork. The collection is actually quite impressive. What a statement... To view the rest of their shell infused home and to read the article, click here Elle Decor And the one other shell display that I thought was great, is this one below, from Southern Accent's article about colorful table settings, picture taken by Carlos Domenech. Its hard to see in the picture, but the sides of the placemats have shells sewn on them. The thing I am really in love with, is their display of laying shells randomly around the table. What an easy way to add some decoration. I will definitely be hitting the beach later to see what I can find!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Settings

This morning I experienced a reality check that SUMMER has arrived! I was leaving my house for work and the moment I stepped outside my sunglasses started to fog. Let me tell you, there's nothing like a touch of south florida humidity to get your day started. Minus the frizzy hair and the fear of hurricanes, summer has always been one of my favorite seasons. My week seems to go by faster and my weekends are always filled with something fun. Beach parties, dinner parties, and vacations with friends, there is just something about this season that puts everyone in a better and more relaxed mood. So this week, I would like to dedicate my blog to the new season. Here's a sunny picture from my hometown, West Palm Beach, to get you in the summer spirit! I love being outside, as much as I can, during the summer. I particularly love setting up my patio table with fresh linens for brunches, dinners, and tea parties for friends. The picture below is from one of my sunday brunches I had last summer. I like to use a simple, bright colored tablecloth. The napkins and placemats in the picture below are called Festival, by Sferra. I really love the classic hemstitch boarder and the great selection of colors that Sferra offers. The pink color is one of my favorites. It really pops out on a bright day. My mother always taught me that the key to a well dressed table is layering. So I always double up my tablecloths using a cutwork tablecloth on top of a solid color. Then whatever color you have underneath comes right through for a nice pattern. Again, I like to layer so I use both a linen placemat and a charger. I keep my table casual with a wicker or bamboo charger. It's perfect for outdoors and easy to clean. My outdoor table, or indoor table included, is never complete with out a napkin ring. To me, a napkin ring is like a piece of jewelry. Great napkin rings will complete your table like a great necklace or pair of earrings will complete an outfit. I'm particularly in love with these shell napkin rings. If napkin rings arn't really your thing. A simple folded napkin is always a nice alternative. Here is a great table from Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Collection featured on House Beautful's Website. Table Runners, like the one above, are also great to have on hand. Especially if you are hosting a last minute get together, placing a table runner down the center of your table will always look clean and decorative. I use a white linen table runner that is monogrammed at each end. It gives my table a more unique and personalized look. To add the final touch to your great summer table, cut some bright flowers from your garden for a colorful center piece. If your like me and don't have time for a garden, just steal some from your neighbors yard! (ask first, of course...) My favorite summer flowers are hydrangeas, they are big and colorful and remind me of weddings. That just made me think of another summer activity I always look forward to, wedding season... Horray! On that note, I will end this post with the person I like to call, "Goddess Of The Garden"- Martha Stewart. If only I had been born with her green thumb...
Photo courtesy of The Seatte Times, taken by Dittie Isager

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Life In Linens

Where should I start? I have so much to share. Firstly, my name is Camille Murphy and I must say, I am very excited to begin this blog today. As someone who has kept a life journal for over 12 years, I am delighted to finally share out loud with the world all my daily and past adventures. I inherited my love for fine linens from my family's linen store, Pioneer Linens (which is now 98 years old!) Located in West Palm Beach, Pioneer Linens was always a hot shopping spot for some of the world's most impressive interior designers. Our customers taught me some of the finest design techniques and inspired my everyday life. My mother as well, was a huge inspiration, I was about 10 years old when she took me to my first Designer Show House and I was in love with home decor ever since. My mother would also give seminars on table setting and I would stand beside her and teach people different ways to fold napkins. I loved hanging around the store after school, so I could help out with deliveries to different homes in Palm Beach. It was always exciting to step foot into some of the biggest houses in the world, as well as to see how they were decorated. My linen store is a part of my history and I am now the 4th generation working in it. I am so lucky to love my job and truly feel inspired everyday with all the new styles in bedding, table linens, bathroom accessories and home decor. I hope my experiences and tips through Lessons From The Linen Closet can inspire your everyday life. Enjoy!

I'd like to start my very first post off with a quote from Charlotte Moss's book, A Flair For Living. "How we decorate and what we collect are embodiments of all that we are- our preferences, our beliefs." A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a discussion and slide show by the designer herself, Mrs. Charlotte Moss. During her slideshow, she showed pictures from her apartment in NYC and her home in the Hamptons. Each room in her home was filled with different treasures she had found and fallen in love with during different trips she had been on. She talked about her obsession with vintage vogue magazines and her massive collection of pagodas. Within only an hour, Charlotte Moss had let me and the rest of the audience into her very personal world, her home . I felt the quote above is an appropriate way for me to begin my blog because I am a firm believer that great home design comes from within your soul. How you decorate your home is a true reflection of how you feel today, how you want to feel in the future and how you want others to feel in your presence. A true incite into your very own definition and concept of beauty. One of my greatest past times in life is getting to visit someone elses house. Whether I want to leave as quickly as possible the moment I walk inside (which def happens sometimes) or spend the entire day their secretly wishing the house was mine. Getting to go inside a new house has become my guilty pleasure. So if you think your home is fabulous or just want to show your personal style, feel free to send me some pics of your favorite room. I would love to see what makes you unique!

And... if you if your looking for a great gift or a treat for yourself, try Charlotte Moss's Leftbank Candle and Diffuser!