Thursday, August 16, 2007

What you should know before buying furniture

Before you enter any furniture store to make a purchase, give thought to your own lifestyle. I would advise anyone who is ready to buy furniture to sit down and take note of your current surroundings and needs. Keeping in mind the following key factors, you will save yourself time and costly mistakes.

There is nothing worse than finding the right piece of furniture only to find out that it won't fit in your home. Measure the spot in which your piece will be placed. Are there any heating units it will hit, beams that will lessen the height of your room, window treatments you don't want to cover? Take a step back and look for any obstacles that your home has created for you.

Finding out what style you want to bring into your home will take a little homework on your part. Many of you already know that you like a certain style such as country, casual elegance, contemporary, Victorian and so on, but have you really figured out what it is that you like about it? Sit down with several home decorating magazines and tear out pictures that you like. After a while, you may see similarities in the pictures you have chosen. It might be that all of the sofas have rolled arms... the chairs have detailed carvings... the sideboards have straight legs... or that all of the pieces have wrought iron handles. Whatever it may be, looking at photos first can save you a lot of time and frustration.

Color and texture can set the mood of a room. Do you want the furniture to look feminine, masculine, stand out against the wall, or blend into the background? Think about what colors make you feel good and what colors you would rather not see used in your home. Also, color and texture should be an important decision factor if you have children and/or pets. If you have children , and the item you want to purchase will be used by them, consider colors or patterns that will conceal stains along with textures that will take heavy use. With animals, keep in mind the color of your family pet. Is your pet's fur light or dark? Try to look for fabric that will camouflage the shedding in between your regular cleanings. Should you consider a white sofa if your Persian cat is black?

When it comes time to make a purchase, you will see that items are available in every price bracket imaginable. You can get items that look expensive for a great price, but in most cases, you get what you pay for. Higher-priced items will last longer due to the way they are produced. Sofas may have coils that are eight-way hand tied... bureaus will have dove-tailed drawers... or dining room tables could have an eleven-step hand rubbed finishing process to give it that beautiful glow. All of this takes professional manpower and craftsmanship which will, of course, be represented in the price. The lower-priced items are usually mass produced, and even though they may still represent a certain quality which you are looking for, you won't get the life span out of it that you would from a higher-priced piece. There is a way of getting high quality with a lower price, and this is my favorite type of shopping. I call it "creative shopping". Creative shopping does take a little longer since you have to search for your dream piece, but you will save hundreds even thousands of dollars if you furnish your home in this manner. A creative shopper knows where to find items in a retail store that might be less than perfect in the retailer's eyes. These items, however, can usually be positioned or camouflaged in a way that the flaw would not show. When you go to a store, ask if they have a "seconds" or "damaged goods" area. Some retail stores will also have a once-a-year tent sale on items that are damaged or discontinued. Ask the sales person to put you on a mailing list so that you can be part of this great buying opportunity. Also consider furniture consignment shops where items can be up to 70% off the original retail price since the item is pre-loved. If you work with a consignment shop that is picky about what they will put on their floor, you should have no trouble finding items that will need little or no repair. Another shopping avenue would be to search the newspapers for private sales. You will be able to ask the seller about the price, size, color, and style right from the comfort of your own home. The only two drawbacks with creative shopping are that the items are usually a final sale and you have to take care of moving them to your home yourself, so be sure the item is exactly what you are looking for.

With all of this in mind.... get out your magazines, make a list, and by all means have fun!

Global Spa Finder

Are you looking for an incredible spa? This magazine will do all of the work for you! Just sit back, read, and relax!

2008 Global SpaFinder - The Definitive Worldwide Spa Directory

Christie's is Now Able to Auction Rare Spirits.



NYWines Christie’s Plans Robust Offering Of Rare Spirits

In First Auction Since Prohibition

NEW YORK - Liquor connoisseurs will soon be able to bid on rare distilled spirits from around the globe at auctions in New York, legalized yesterday by Governor Eliot Spitzer, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, which lobbied for the bill.

Christie’s, the world's leading art business and a supporter of the new law, immediately announced plans to hold the first liquor auction in New York through NYWines Christie's. This will be the first such auction in New York since Prohibition began in 1920.

“Having followed the passage of the bill very closely, we are now able to formally announce our plans for an auction to include collectible spirits this December. We are currently accepting consignments of vintage cognac, armagnac, Scottish, Irish and American whiskies, bourbon and other traditional spirits,” said Richard Brierley, Head of Christie’s Americas Wine Sales. “Christie’s is pleased that the efforts of the Distilled Spirits Council have resulted in this positive change in New York State law.”

The Distilled Spirits Council estimates that millions of dollars in exclusive spirits sales have been lost to London, Paris, Glasgow and other auction centers around the globe because spirits auctions have been against the law in New York, costing the state large amounts in lost sales taxes.

"New York is the global trend-setter, and it's entirely fitting collectors have the ability to conduct business in New York," said Distilled Spirits Council President Peter Cressy.

"Not only will this accelerate the consumer trend for super premium spirits products, but it will bring new revenue to state coffers. We commend the legislature for passing the bill and Governor Spitzer for signing it into law."

Cressy noted that the new law also allows spirits tastings at the auctions, just as it is already allowed for wine auctions. Nationally, seventeen states permit wine auctions, but New York becomes only the eighth state to authorize spirits auctions.

The legislation, Senate Bill 3606, was sponsored by Senator George Winner and passed the Senate 58 to 1 on June 19th, and unanimously passed the Assembly the following day. The bill takes effect sixty days after the Governor’s signature.


Press Release From The Distilled Spirits Council of United States.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is a national trade association representing the leading brands of distilled spirits. Council member products include the full spectrum of quality distilled spirits such as Bourbon, Scotch and other whiskeys, vodka, gin, tequila, rum, brandy, cordials and liqueurs.

The distillers take special pride in their products as well as in their commitment to encourage responsible beverage alcohol consumption by adults who choose to drink. If you choose to drink, consume sensibly and responsibly. An important part of responsible drinking is understanding that a standard drink of regular beer (12 oz.), distilled spirits (1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits) and wine (5 oz.) each contains the same amount of alcohol.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The York Harbor Inn & Harbor Crest Inn, York Maine

During July of 2007, my husband and I enjoyed a stay at the York Harbor Inn, which can be found on the beautiful and scenic drive along Coastal Route 1, in York, Maine. The Dominguez family owns The Main Inn, as well as four other properties; the Yorkshire Building “The Carriage House”, the Harbor Hill Inn, the Harbor Cliffs Bed & Breakfast, and the 1730 Harbor Crest Inn.

During our visit, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at room#12 which was designed and decorated by, LL Bean of Maine. I couldn’t wait to see the room once I heard it was photographed for one of LL Bean’s catalogs. Upon entering the room, we felt as if we were tucked away in a rural mountain cottage until, that is, we stepped out onto the deck and saw the glorious ocean view.

Then there is room #11, with its very unique door. Almost half the size of a normal door and angled to follow the slope of the ceiling, we were told that some guests refer to this room as the “gnome room”. The story of Alice in Wonderland flooded my thoughts as I tried to envision normal sized suitcases fitting through that tiny door.

Our home for the night was the 1730 Harbor Crest Inn. After stepping over the threshold of the front door, I was impressed by the elegance of the first floor décor and the size of the common rooms. In the front foyer, a mini internet area was tucked discreetly into a space that might have been a closet; or left behind from an old stairway.

To the right, a pleasant room with several tables and windows that are dressed in a cheery blue and yellow fabric; even on this gloomy day, the room created a feeling of vibrancy and happiness. On the left-hand side of the front hall, a blue and white sitting room; and to the rear of the foyer is another relaxing sitting room with a corner gas fireplace.

Looking out the windows, we could see private sitting areas just waiting to be enjoyed. With only seven guest rooms in the inn, we felt like we were alone in this grand home, and we were already making plans on where to sit later to enjoy a quiet moment.

We got to our room via a grand stairway in the rear portion of the home. As soon as we opened our door, we felt as if we were entering a private room in a home… and not that of an inn. The only touches that reminded me that we were staying at an inn was the telephone connected to The Main Inn, (which is 4/10ths of a mile down the street), two bottled waters placed on the bedside table, a full restaurant menu to whet our appetites, and of course the basket of bathroom niceties. Hidden behind a French door, made private by a white-on-white sheer-stripe fabric, the oversized bathroom was an extra special surprise. With a color theme of black, white, and apricot, the bathroom had elegant touches and a nice open feeling. Sure, the large two-person whirlpool with its five jets was great, but the icing on the cake for me, was having my own makeup vanity to sit at! That little touch of luxury made the stay even more special, and I felt like a princess.

Our dinner reservation (which is highly recommended) was for 7:00 pm at The Main Inn. We contemplated putting on our sneakers and shorts so that we could walk to the restaurant: but even though casual attire is welcome, we opted to make the short drive by car since I felt like getting dressed up and donning high heels for the evening.

When you arrive at The Main Inn and make your way to the restaurant, you pass through
what is called the Cabin Room. “The Cabin Room”, says Anita Taggersell, Director of Sales for the inn, “was constructed on the Isles of Shoals in 1637 and was dismantled and moved (floated by barge) sometime well before 1700 (no specific year available) and reconstructed on our site. The beams have that ancient patina that can only be created by

time, not by man.” There is also a large stone fireplace that now sits cool to the touch and is patiently waiting to warm guests on the next cold and chilly Autumn night.

A new bar, with beautiful wood paneling, was recently added and tucked into the left hand corner of the Cabin Room, and a pub with the same full menu as the 1637 Main Dining room can be found downstairs.

After being seated at our candlelit table, we proceeded to order our drinks and appetizers while enjoying the view of the ocean harbor. Our drinks for the night were Johnny Walker Black on the rocks for my husband and the house Pinot Grigio (Lagaria from Italy) for me. For the appetizer... we enjoyed the Ploughman’s Platter. This is the chef’s daily selection of cured meats that are created on the premises, local cheeses, warm bread, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic cloves, and olives ($13.95). This was just the right- sized portion to start off the evening. Following the appetizer, we had a small serving of sorbet to cleanse our palates which prepared us for the rest of the meal.

Wanting to eat light, I opted for their homemade French Onion Soup made with sweet onions, croutons, and topped with imported Swiss cheese ($6.25) and the 2 Olive Caesar Salad which was created with hearts of romaine blended with their own Caesar salad dressing ($7.95). My husband ordered the Baked Stuffed Haddock, and he said it was, “hands down”, the best stuffed haddock he has ever had. The North Atlantic Haddock was filled with a shrimp and crab stuffing and served over a delicious sherry-tomato cream sauce. ($23.95). Noted as “A Chef’s Favorite” we both agreed.

I wish I could tell you how the dessert was, but both of us were so full from this incredible meal that we decided to skip the dessert and opted to take a walk in the park across the street.

The Next Morning:

Well rested after a great night of sleep, we headed downstairs for a wonderful Continental Breakfast. We entered the well-appointed kitchen and saw the arrangement of muffins, pastries, bagels, and cereal boxes set out on the counter. The icing on the cake for my husband was when he saw his favorite newspaper laid out on the counter. For me, other than the princess vanity in our room, was breakfast on the porch… morning sunshine on my face… and sipping coffee in complete and total silence… Pure Bliss!

To make reservations contact the inn at 1-800-343-3869 or visit their informative Web site


From Interstate 95 North or South (in Southern Maine); take “Yorks/Ogunquit” exit immediately before (heading North) or after (heading South) the York Toll Booth.

Take the exit ramp to 1st set of lights; then bear right onto Route 1 South. Turn left at first set of lights to York Street (Route 1A); follow the road for approximately 1 mile into York Village and bear right at the fork.

The York Harbor Inn is located on the left side in York Harbor, just minutes North on Coas

Six Hours With the Top Down!

For the past 28 years, the city of Montreal has been the host to over 30,000,000 people who flock to the streets waiting to hear some of their favorite jazz performers. This year, two additional American writers would be included in this extremely festive event.

In May, a friend and I flew for six hours to get to Europe for a business trip. Two months later, we were off again, looking forward to another six-hours of travel, but this time we had to drive. No in-house movie to watch, no coffee or in-flight dinner would be served… just the bottled water and snack bars I packed for the ride.

It was hot and sunny when my cohort in crime, I mean travel buddy, arrived at my home in her candy-apple red convertible Mini Cooper. The top was down, and as I walked towards the car, I wondered where I would place my suitcase. “Just sling it in the back seat, and let’s go!” she said. The navigation system was already set and it (Navi Girl) informed us to take a right-hand turn out of my driveway. Uh duh… we knew that! Charlene put on her right blinker, pulled out of my driveway, and we were off with the hot sun hitting our face and shoulders, while the wind cruelly messed up our hair (ok, my hair… for some reason, hers did not get messy at all!).

Three hours into the trip, we decided it would be a great time to pull off the highway for a quick lunch and bathroom break. We headed towards Lincoln, New Hampshire to have lunch at one of her favorite restaurants.

We took the exit into downtown Lincoln, and Navi Girl was already telling us “If possible, make a legal U turn”. She wanted us back on the highway since we were off our planned route. “Shut that girl up I said… doesn’t she know humans have to eat?” A few miles off the highway, we pulled up to the Gypsy Café. For our meal, we treated ourselves to an appetizer followed by two desserts that we decided to share; a jaw-dropping, mouth-watering Cuban flan and a slice of coconut cream pie with two cappuccinos dusted with cinnamon. Keeping an eye on the time, we finished our dessert and got ourselves back on the road to make the 8:00 pm Winton Marselas concert. The sky was starting to look a bit ominous, but we just turned the music up louder and headed back towards Route 93 North, and Navi Girl was glad we were back on our destination course that she had set for us earlier.

As we approached Franconia Notch, a scenic portion of the White Mountains, we noticed that motorcycle drivers had pulled over to the side of the road to put on their rain gear. We wondered, at that moment, if we should put the top up on the convertible. We looked at each other for just a brief moment, knew what the other was thinking, and proceeded without another word about it. We were two women determined to get to The Montreal Jazz Festival… with the top down. As we drove higher into the low cloud cover in the mountains, the temperature kept dropping. We started the day off at 82 degrees, and now was 65 degrees. At this point there are goose bumps on my arms, but I decided that until they also show up on my legs I won’t even consider putting on my jacket. Then my dear friend, Charlene, reaches forward and flicks a switch. “Are you kidding me… this whole time we could have had heated seats?” Ahhh, that was much better. Then we see it… the sign that says “Danger – Cross Winds”. “Hold on!” she said (Charlene, not Navi Girl). With Charlene holding on tight to the steering wheel, that little car plowed through the wind chamber like the story book train that said “I think I can… I think I can”.

A few hours later, we arrived at the Canadian border. “Can you believe we made it here with only $1.25 in tolls and less than a tank of gas? I pay $3.00 just to get over the bridge in Boston”. We pulled up to the Customs window and presented our passports. We were asked the routine questions of “What brings you to Montreal? Do you have any explosives, fire arms, alcohol, or cigarettes? How long will you be staying?” After the interrogation, we were allowed to enter Canada. I am sure that Charlene was glad to drive away without getting a hands-on body check like she did at the airport just a couple of months before! Anticipating commuter traffic, we figured we should be at the hotel within the hour.

The downtown portion of Montreal was dressed up for the festival with signage, bright colored flags, and stages. It was all very impressive. Once we arrived at the press room, we collected information packets about this grand festival. The numbers were staggering… 658 total jazz performances were offered during this year’s festival and 346 of them were free! Thirty countries were represented and approximately 3,000 musicians performed. We were a bit late for our concert and, since this concert was being filmed for television, we had to wait to be seated between sets.

The next morning, we walked around Montreal and looked for Eggspectations, a restaurant that is known for their Eggs Benedict. After several zigs and zags up and down the streets of historic Montreal, the two of us finally found it. By this time we were starving, but we knew we needed to get back in time to get seats at the press conferences for Harry Connick Jr. and Sean Lennon. So, after a quick breakfast of traditional Eggs Benedict and two cups of coffee, we hurried back to the hotel for the interviews.

We made it with time to spare. We got a wonderful opportunity to meet and listen to two incredible and surprisingly humble men speak about their work, their family, and their reasons for attending the festival. Cameras were clicking and journalists were writing away. Harry Connick Jr. told stories to the press group that made us laugh out loud, and Sean Lennon’s poetic words moved us. We were both grateful to hear their inspiring stories. After the conference, plans were made to attend a few more concerts, eat some more food, and then enjoy some cocktails during the midnight (yes, midnight) Jam Session that was being held in the hotel lounge.

The next morning, it was time to head back home to reality and the daily grind. We had our breakfast, then called for the car to be pulled around to the valet station in the parking garage. Now that we knew how to read the word EXIT in French (we drove around a few times trying to get out a few days before), we were able to SORTIE the parking garage without any wrong turns.

After being stuck in traffic at Customs for more than an hour, then driving through cloud-covered mountains, then past open fields, we finally came to the Massachusetts border. It only seemed appropriate at that time to say in my best Navi Girl computer voice.
"If possible, make a legal U turn".

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Myopia Hunt Club & Polo

Take a photo tour of the Myopia Hunt Club's Wine Tasitng and Trunk Show Event That I attended.

Polo games are every Sunday @ 3:00 pm - Routh 1A in S. Hamilton, MA.

Hampton Sun's Privet Bloom Parfum is Scentsational!

Ok, for those of you who follow my reviews, or know me personally, you know that I adore beautiful packaging and bottles. When I opened my gift of Hampton Son, I knew this fragrance would be one of my many favorites.

As I sample this liquid summer in a bottle, I appreciate that the the style of the packaging and white and green colors theme is well suited to the fragrance inside.

Privet Bloom features the aroma of privet hedges, found in the Hamptons, when in bloom... muguet, jasmine, linden blossom, gardenia, orangeflower, and dune rose are also part of this creation. Add a few finishing notes of driftwood and sun-warmed musk, and you have the scent of the Hamptons on a Summer day.

Privet Bloom is available in fine specialty retailers.

Available as a Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette in 1.7 oz bottles

Suggested retail prices $49.50 - $65.00

Just a little note about S&G Hampton Sun

S&G Hampton Sun is a privately-held company specializing in luxury sun and skin care products ranging from tanning oils, gels, and lotions, after-sun moisturizers, shimmer bronze creams and pearl cooling sprays, to everyday super-hydration face creams. Founded by Salvatore Piazzolla and Grant Wilfley, S&G Hampton Sun was created for consumers who wanted to minimize the hazardous effects of the sun while maximizing their time in the sun.

It's Perfect!

With a name like Perfect Kiss, how can you not try it! Visions of soft lips and sexy nights are encapsulated in this one perfume.

Scents of blooming jasmine, honeysuckle, rosewood, followed by base notes of creamy vanilla and dark chocolate. Ladies, need I say more!

This line also includes fragrances called Perfect Veil, Perfect Gardenia, Perfect Nectar, Perfect Vanilla, and Perfect Bliss. I had the pleasure of trying the fragrances below.

Perfect Veil creates a soft smell against the skin. The scent almost has a soft powder fragrance. Very feminine, fresh, and clean. The top notes of lemon and bergamot are softened by a variety of musks, including Egyptian and Tunisian followed by notes of sandalwood and creamy vanilla.

Perfect Vanilla swept me away to a relaxed state of mind yet made me feel very sexy. With a collection of five different vanillas from around the world and hints of amber and blood orange keep it from being to sweet.

Perfect Bliss was inspired by a honeymoon on Tahiti. With tropical fruits, white gardenia, and vanilla it certainly does whisk my thoughts to my own tropical vacations.

Perfect Nectar is somewhat similar is style to Perfect Bliss, but instead of vanilla, a hint of oceanic musk has been added, creating an incredible juxtaposition of ocean and juicy fruit..

Beauty Comes From Within

In 2006, Sarah Horowitz-Thran was asked to develop a line a perfumes exclusively for Barney's and she called the line "What Comes From Within". With five fragrances to choose from, women can choose to wear the scent alone, or layer them to create their own personal creation.

Love Comes From Within was a hit with me as soon as I put it on. I love the scent of clove, and this fragrance has it, as well as...spicy carnation and rose (all scents I plant in my personal flower garden). There are warmer base notes of Tunisian amber, French vanilla, clean musk and Indian sandalwood. Simply stunning!

Joy Comes From Within prompts feelings of energy and life. Spicy nutmeg and hints of almond create the top note followed orange blossom then a base of creamy vanilla, tonka bean and musk.

Light Comes From Within is a crisp and floral scented perfume. With bergamot (another favorite of mine), freesia, honeysuckle and night blooming jasmine as the top and middle notes, you can't go wrong, but add fresh oceanic musk and sandalwood to the mix, and you have a deliciously sexy fragrance.

Peace From Within is a scent that can be worn by a mature woman as well as a teenager. It is has a clean and gentle quality to it. With a top note of bergamot (which is renowned for its ability to inspire mental clarity) is followed by a base note of fresh oceanic musk and sandlewood.

Beauty Comes From Within is my favorite choice of this particular line. At least it is today. I love to change fragrances with my moods and occasions. This is strong and sexy, but not overwhelming. Top notes of red plums and fresh cut grass capture vitality and sensuality. The middle notes of gardenia and pink peony add that little touch of femininity while the citrus rock rose gives a little zing. The base notes of watery musk, sandalwood, white amber, and hints of cedar convey a bit of mystery.

There are not enough O’s in smooth for this Scotch whisky!

Sorry the picture of the Scotch is blue. I don't know why that happened!

Years ago, as a pre-Scotch drinker, I thought that the Scotch being poured from its beautiful decanter into a crystal glass looked more like liquefied butterscotch than an alcoholic beverage. I couldn’t wait to try it! Well, to my disappointment, I found out that the Scotch whisky didn’t taste like butterscotch candy. Not looking for sweet anymore, but smooth without a bite, it took years for me to finally find a Scotch that came even close to my preconceived notion.

Recently, I tasted a 17 year old single malt Scotch whisky from Old Pulteney which I decided to try neat. When I poured it into my glass, the nose (aroma) gave off a soft hint of vanilla. After I tasted it and allowed the amber colored liquid to cover my tongue, it felt soft and silky. I even wondered if I tasted a hint of honey. The finish was light and smoky, and the lingering warmth it left was pleasant… not harsh. Ready to try it on the rocks, I added ice to my glass, took a sip, and I enjoyed my single malt Scotch whisky even more. Finally, I could drink a glass of Scotch whisky, along with my fellow tasters, with more appreciation.

Old Pulteny 17 year old has been recognized at the 2005 International Wine & Spirit Competition, and a double gold medal winner at the 2006 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This might be due to the fact that Old Pulteny uses unusual copper stills for production, followed by maturation in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.

The suggested retail price of $79.99 is well worth it.

Previously written for New England Fine on 6-29-2007

A Blue Lagoon in a Bottle!

Finally, a cocktail that I was able to serve without any additional work. I received the 100ml four pack tote that was all set to go! All I had to do was take martini glasses out of my cabinet... add some crushed ice... and pour my first selection into the glass. The hardest part of this tasting experience was deciding which flavor to try first. Hmmm.... would it be the Cosmopolitan, the Blue Lagoon, the Appletini, or the Lemon Drop? With such a dilemma, I decided to go with the scientific approach. I followed the color spectrum of the rainbow. Thinking back to elementary school I remembered my rainbow reminder... (ROY G BIV) Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. So our tasting went from the Cosmopolitan to the Lemon Drop, then the Appletini, to the Blue Lagoon. I thought for sure the Cosmopolitan was going to be my favorite, but the Blue Lagoon was awesome!

The four pack comes in a cute plastic carrying case with a ribbon and charm. Inside, the four bottles are neatly tucked into their own compartment, with matching straws placed in the center. If you don't have martini glasses and you still want a unique way to serve your cocktail, you can place the bottles in your freezer (just long enough to chill) and serve right out of the bottle with the color coordinated straws. This would be a great little surprise to pull out of your cooler at a party.

Cocktails by Jenn, a premium cocktail couturier, produces ready-to-drink, naturally flavored vodka martinis in both signature and limited edition flavors. The 100ml 4 pack (single flavor and variety pack) has a suggested retail price of $14.99 and the 750ml bottles sell for about $19.99. That's a bargain for me since I pay $7 - $9 for one martini.

Currently, you can find Cocktails By Jenn, in 43 states. and on the Internet at

Previously written in June 2007