Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

The Ritz-Carlton, a company known for the repetitive and never tired “my pleasure” as an answer to any request, is a place where making things pretty comes quite easily.  Two 12″ trees flank the entrance to the Ritz Residences on Market Street here in our fair town.  I decided on tall structural Silver Tips (my fave), carefully decorated with bronze ornaments.

Initially I had thought about going all au naturel, using nothing but glittered cones and pods and seeds, and then covering the trees with hundreds of Papillio Ulysees butterflies.  Then, as the days progressed, I realized that people really do like a bit of bling on their trees.  So I visited my favorite Long Island madame at the Kurt Adler showroom and purchased some really beautiful gold and bronze ornaments to compliment the cones and nuts I did use.

So I want to introduce you to this very simple and SUPER CHIC little ornament, one that can be made quite easily.  All you need are:

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Chestnuts (fresh)

Brass eye hooks from the hardware store (preferably mixed sizes in a cozy plastic box)

Elmer’s Glue (with a touch of water)

A ramekin

GOOD glitter (see www.chicoparty.com) and a spoon

A paper plate to catch the additional glitter that does not stick to the nut or cone

A blotter, paint brush or a lightly wetted clean sponge

INSTRUCTIONS:

Prepare a hanging area which could be something as simple as a shish kabob skewer that is weighted down at one end.  You will thread the skewer with the chestnuts after you apply the glitter.  

First you take the eye hook and gently screw it into the top of the FRESH chestnut (or at the bottom of a pine cone)

Then you carefully pinch the eye hood as you dip the nut into about 3/4″ of glue that you have in the ramekin, slightly watered down.  You can use your fingers or a pair of rabbit ears. Lift out of the glue and let the extra glue drip away and blot the “tip” of the nut with a wet sponge but do not wipe away the glue.

Spoon a fine glitter (fine as in texture and quality) over the nut as you gently turn it for full coverage.

Thread the skewer with the nut and let it hang dry.

The next day you will be free to gently brush away any additional glitter and thread with a thin ribbon.  Voilá, you have a beautifully scaled and very elegant ornament for your tree, or frankly with a cute cap sleeve T-shirt, good jeans and good shoes, you have a very elegant necklace.  (Too big for earrings)

I made 40 of these in 2 hours.  Wrap in soft tissue paper (not paper towels) and store for the following year.  They will last forevz.

HINT:  Should some of the glitter fall away over the years, use an even more diluted glue “solution” and gently, and with a small fine brush, apply a thin layer of glue over the affected area. Gently apply a fine and gentle stream of glitter.  (You do not want the ornament to appear chunky or sloppy-heavens no!)

 

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Last photo courtesy of the magnificent and delightful Antonette Streeter.

Have fun!!! and Happy Happy Holidays from John James Designs.  May abundance and peace and gratitude be comfortably yours for now and always.  YES!!!!!

Sherlock Holmes and the Place Card

I cannot take credit for this SUPER CUTE!!!! idea.  It is good for the kids, (especially) and for the kid at heart.

Okay, so these are photos from a birthday party for an older gentleman.  The stunning environment of BOND estate needed little to no amending.  However, the beautiful antique dining table just screams for flowers, food, friends, and fun so off to work I went with rich brown, orange and caramel colors.  Sounds simple enough right?

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Well, in comes the one and only Kathryn Fowler with a party favor of magnifying glasses.  At each setting was an old fashioned paper ball in which lies a trifle, good fun, and the addition of the glasses was truly delightful.  Each magnifying glass had a different handle, good weight in the hand and so we set about placing them as well as the place cards.  I always wait, as I am sure others do, to put the place cards down last.

EEK!  The place cards were nowhere to be found.  We all looked at each other, knowing that no one’s handwriting was “good” enough to mimic the pros and suddenly Carissa asserts, “We should right the letters super small and have the guests use the magnifying glasses to find their place at the table”!!!  How cute is that?  (Granted this was a group of good friends totaling only 14.  I would not suggest this for a group larger than 30).

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I wrote the smallest letters I could possibly write without making it impossible to see and though it does not show up well in the photos, when one scans the place card with the glass, POP!, the name becomes crystal clear.  Without the glass, one was, as my father would say, shit out of luck.

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Any manner of magnifying glass will do.  I suspect one could order a less expensive version on Amazon.  So much fun!

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Get inspired!!!

Have fun and don’t forget that the old wived tales are in fact not true.  Fresh cuts and fresh water, no additives, are all that flowers need.  (Just don’t forget to change the water every other day)

 

Limonata at Costco and an explosion of citrusy goodness

Ok, so I am a bit of a Diet Coke kind of guy.  Not always, but certainly with Chinese food from Mama Ji’s.   LOVE IT!  Though ever since I rediscovered San Pellegrino Italian soda products, namely Limonata, I have ditched what I know is a terribly bad liquid for the body and am comfortably enjoying these effervescent lovelies.

I was strolling through Costco, dodging busy little bees who are as good with a cart as they are with a car, and there they were, a 24 case of Limonata and Aranciata sodas.  They are delicious, great with roasted chicken, salads, or solo after a rough go with the clay soil in the garden, preparing beds for tons of forthcoming daffodil and tulip bulbs.  YES!!!

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When I went to the flower mart, I noticed these delightful but slightly garish Anthuriums.  They reminded me of the taste of Limonata so for kicks I decided to go with it.  I took a single Anthurium and walked around the flower mart, looking for perfect companions for my weekly installation at the Ritz-Carlton.  After some time scanning the many offerings about the market, suddenly, at Vicky’s – my favorite forager/cartographer/philosopher/curmudgeon I spotted the most beautiful Pittosporum berries.  Because Anthuriums are large and imposing, I knew the companions had to be respectful and I did not want many.  Perhaps one more elements and so I went strolling to Torchio Growers.  And there they were, some beautiful high petal count Ecuadorian roses.  The match was perfect.

 

So I filled my cozy cart with these carbonated blooms and headed to the Ritz.

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