Sunday, December 27, 2009


Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Two weeks in France in October

One sentence and one photograph was all I managed to blog while I was in France in October! A clear indication that my trip was spent doing other things. But who could blame me, after all,
Paris is Paris, France is France.

Not to turn this blog into a travelogue, I have to write about my fabulous apartment and some of the great restaurants, museums and art galleries that my friend Kathleen and I visited. The dining room of the apartment is pictured above.

We rented the apartment through What a wonderful surprise, it exceeded our expectations. The location at the foot of the Eiffel Tower was breathtaking and the apartment itself was beautifully decorated with antiques and it was well equipped with anything one could need. I cannot wait to go back. You can find pictures of the apartment on Paris Perfect website, the link above, ours was called Hermitage. The owner is a descendant of Marquis de la Fayette. La Fayette is a great hero of mine. We visited his grave at the Picpus Cemetery. The American flag has flown over it continuously since after World War I, even through the Nazi occupation.

The apartment was very close to Musee du Quai Branly, which has a huge collection of tribal art from around the world. It was designed by Jean Nouvel, and caused quite a sensation three years ago when it opened. I have a collection of New Guinea and African masks and have enjoyed exploring the Musee Branly since the opening.

We had many great dinners in Paris, the best without a doubt at Le Cinq, the two Michelin star restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel George V. We had the wonderful Menu d'Automne with seasonal dishes, mushrooms, figs and foie gras created by chef Eric Briffand. Everything was perfection, not just the food, but the ambience, the service and the decor. I have to rave about the wine also. With the guidance of the sommelier we ordered a bottle of Ballot Millot Meursault Perrieres 2006. We both enjoyed it very much.

We saw Handel's opera Faramondo at the Theatre des Champs Elysees. The star counter tenor Max Emanuel Cencic who was to sing the title role, was replaced at the last minute by Mary Ellen Nesi. She rose to the occasion and sang beautifully.

After the performance we walked to the nearby Hotel Plaza Athenee for an after theater champagne and dessert. What a difference in attitude and service from Four Seasons George V!
My water was served from a dirty glass, I got the wrong coffee and was presented someone else's check! And all with an attitude.

We spent one day at the Marche aux Puces at Saint Ouen. I have to write a separate blog about it!

I have a standing date with a painting at the Louvre. Every time I visit Paris, I have to go see Antonello da Messina's Il Condottiere. I have been visiting him for over 30 years. What a powerful face, what determination. I am completely hypnotized by him. It is very easy to find him, just follow the signs for Mona Lisa and in the Grande Galerie just before you turn right to the gallery where Mona Lisa is, he is on the left hand wall. A few years ago I had a sort of catharsis while contemplating his handsome young face. I realized the passage of time and it's effects on me. While the man in the painting is forever young, I am slowly getting old.

We also visited the Madeleine Vionnet exhibit at the Musee de la Mode. Her designs are truly timeless. She described her inspirations as Proportion, Balance, Movement and Truth. She was a master of simplicity and the bias cut.

After spending a week in Paris, we flew to Nice. We also rented an apartment there, on Promenade des Anglais. A great location and view of the Bay of the Angels.
One of the highlights in Nice was the Matisse Museum.

Our best meal was absolutely at Don Camilo Creations. Yes, it is a restaurant, they create wonderful meals. Our taxi driver was a bit confused, he thought it was a fashion house and asked if we really had an appointment at eight o'clock. We had the Menu Creation. The amuse bouche was a Veloute de Legumes, a velvety puree with a hint of pumpkin. It was followed by Foie Gras with cornbread and a fig compote, enhanced by volcanic black salt. The fish course was scallops accompanied by oyster ice cream . The main course was beef with potatoes dauphnoise and tarragon mousse. No French dinner is complete without a cheese course, we had Camembert soaked in "le Cid", a local wine, Chevre la Rochette and a Cantal. But as Kathleen put it, the OMG course was the dessert, which consisted of black chocolate mousse with roasted pears, chestnut mousse and chocolate ice cream. All the courses were paired with wines, the Foie Gras with a Jurancon; the scallops with a Bordeaux Chateau Gaillac; the beef wit a Cabernet La Tourboisie and the cheese with a Muscadet des Rivesarbres, Domaine des Gazes. A meal to remember!
As at Le Cinq in Paris, the chef had taken full advantage of seasonal ingredients.

We also visited Cannes, mostly for shopping and Antibes and Saint Paul de Vence.
We were totally charmed by the latter, a most charming hill town, although a bit touristy.

A great trip, hope you enjoyed it as well!

Friday, October 23, 2009

View from my Paris apartment!

It does not get better than this.

Friday, September 18, 2009

World Market Center Las Vegas

Lou Ruvo Brain Center

reflected from the Design Center walls

Las Vegas Market

I have just spent four stimulating and informative days at the Las Vegas Market. I attended eight different seminars and lectures on subjects ranging from "The World of Design in the year 2020" to "How to Build a Business Warren Buffet would buy". It was also interesting to meet and hear the views of such renown designers as Charlotte Moss, Nina Campbell and Vicente Wolf.
The World Market Center itself was quite an experience, consisting of three buildings, two 16 floors high. The architecture is a combination of sweeping curves and sharp edges, but still quite cohesive.
In contrast, across the street is the Lou Ruvo Brain Center, that looks like it just melted down, it can be seen in the pictures above reflected from the glass walls of the World Market. Frank Gehry really went wild when he designed this one.

Old Moroccan lanterns

at the Wynn in Las Vegas

Lanterns in the Four Hands Showroom at the Las Vegas Market

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Musee Rodin, Paris

Last summer on a trip to Paris, a wonderful new discovery was the Musee Rodin. I lived in Paris for four years during my student days and have visited every year since then, but I had never been to the Musee Rodin. I really was not drawn to the work of August Rodin, or perhaps I was over exposed to it. His "Thinker" is everywhere, even on the set of Jeopardy's College Tournament. What a great surprise to find the museum in the beautiful 18th century Hotel Biron. The architectural details, including the wood boiserie panels, plaster moldings, overdoor trumeaux, marble floors and wrought iron staircases are absolutely beautiful. The formal garden with it's 18th century layout is also delightful. I was charmed by it completely. The elegant surroundings are a very contrasting background to the powerful statues. And yes, the "Thinker" is there, he is perched on a high pedestal in the front garden and looks , well, pensive.

In addition to works by Rodin, the museum also has works by his friends, including Camille Claudel and works of art Rodin collected himself. Being the textile aficionado that I am, I was thrilled to see a huge Brussels tapestry at the top of the main staircase. It is titled "La Mort d'Ananie" or "Ananie's Death", after a painting by Raphael.

You can get more information about Musee Rodin at

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Paisley Shawls

I have a collection of over 40 Paisley Shawls. Some are hand embroidered and kani weave shawls from Kashmir, India. Others are jacquard woven shawls from Europe. All are from the 19th century. The shawl on top is Middle Eastern, probably Persian. The middle one is a so called "Four Seasons" shawl. The center of a Four Seasons shawl usually has four colors, thus the name. This one actually has five colors, but it is still known as Four Seasons. The bottom one is from France, with a white center, which is more unusual, you see mostly shawls with black centers. This one also has exquisite detail.

Peacable Kingdom

One of my favorite animal subjects is the lion, being a Leo. This photo was taken on a recent trip to Washington D.C at the National Gallery of Art. It is of course a detail of Edward Hicks' Peacable Kingdom.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Miniature Loom

When I was five years old, my father had a miniature loom built for me as a Christmas present. It was painted bright red and blue. My father then drew a cartoon for a small rya tapestry bearing the coat of arms of Vyborg, Finland, the city where he was born. I executed his design with my loom. That was the beginning with my fascination for textiles. I still have the little wallhanging, it is now on my bedroom wall.
Above, you see a picture of it. Also, you see a hand colored engraving of Vyborg from 1709 and the coat of arms as it was at that time. Finland then was part of Sweden, thus the three crowns.
When my father was born in 1921, Vyborg belonged to Finland, but was lost to the Soviet Union during World War II and now belongs to Russia.