Daubigny’s Garden

Spending considerably more time fussing about in our petite pocket garden (see today’s post @citrusandcedars), has me recalling one of Van Gogh’s paintings. During my visit to Amsterdam, we went to the Van Gogh Museum where I was mostly enchanted by a piece titled “Daubigny’s Garden” (pictured: front) painted in 1890. The piece, is characteristically Van Gogh – with oil on canvas and lush provocative brush strokes. It brings me serenity, peace and a bit of intrigue, given that this was one of the last works produced by the Dutch painter before his death.  I find it perhaps comforting that he was able to take pleasure in such a beautiful garden in the last few years of his life.

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Oh, What A Night!

Celebrating Mark D. Sikes and his Coastal Living Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. 

I’ve had a few “pinch me” moments the past few weeks. There is of course a longer, more contextual narrative to note at a later date, but it really boils down to a very special feeling that I hope will never fleet.

Feeling nurtured, inspired, challenged and respected are some of the most important things in life – all feelings everyone deserves to, and should, truly feel to their core, at least for some juncture of their life. When I was younger, I was told by a very influential mentor to “select your own board of directors in life” – both personally and professionally. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned how incredibly important that mentality is, and how the company you keep, truly shapes your own life perspective, approach and definition of success.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent the past few weeks with some accomplished individuals – architects, designers, artists and creators – all of whom embody the feeling I described prior. They champion for each other’s successes, share their varying perspectives and experiences, and brainstorm on creative solutions for each other’s work. The sense of community and unity is incredibly palpable. The authenticity and passion for their respective work is rich and never wavers.

In a strange way, in a short span of time, many of these individuals feel like family. They have taught me such a simple lesson – a beautiful one that I will always cherish.

Life is short – choose your board wisely and don’t forget to celebrate the milestones along the way. Champion for and nurture others, and follow your heart and intuition.

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The Allures of Amsterdam

I’ve just returned from a remarkable few days in Amsterdam where I visited with my Mother and Sister. Much of my Mother’s family history hails from Holland, thus it made our trip all the more special. Below are just some of the highlights, and I must credit my sister, Caroline, for masterfully orchestrating all of our experiences – every meal, adventure and moment was carefully curated from her own prior travel and research.

Every time I am on the airplane en route home from any travels, I make a list of my highlights while they are still fresh and fragrant in my mind… Below are some of the highlights that stand out from the few days in the divine Dutch city:

A building lushly covered in ivy and geraniums…so classic.

A city where there are more bicycles than people….it was particularly fascinating to see parents with their small cherubs in tow, confidently riding throughout the city running their errands – even the smallest of children did not wear helmets! It’s fair to say the bicyclists rule the road.

Hollyhocks & green lacquered doors were in no shortage. Every exterior door was handsomely painted with seductive, glossy paint. Needless to say, I am now coveting Hollyhocks in a whole new way!

Climbing roses and a potted boxwood flirt with the senses of any passerby. 

Tall & lean doors painted in the infamous dark green at the Hortus Botanticus.

Lush, aromatic jasmine decorates this exterior, this time, the doors painted in a Chinese lacquered red. 

The greenhouse at Restaurant De Kas, a chic garden conservatory where all ingredients are grown on-site. A “must visit” in Amsterdam.

A plump squash growing in the greenhouse at De Kas. Restaurant patrons can tour the greenhouse before or after dining, where they can view the ingredients served in the respective courses.

Garden tools at De Kas are primed and ready to harvest vegetables, nasturtiums and herbs for the chef’s dishes.

Edible flowers at the Noodermarkt…presented next to a sea of luscious berries (not pictured) we bought & promptly ate. A great deal of the dishes we enjoyed were beautifully presented with varying kinds of edible flowers…true inspiration for summer cooking!

An exquisite sampling of a collection of antique French and Italian gilded gold mirrors at Anouk Beerents. Upon their monthly acquisition by the shop’s proprietor and team, they are restored and preserved, accordingly.

@cheesebycarol (my sister, Caroline), outside of Kaaskamer Van Amsterdam, where she procured fine Dutch cheeses and accoutrements for her evening cheese platter, truly a work of art!

The Pulitzer Hotel’s divine salon boat, built in 1909, was the perfect vessel for touring the canals. An open bar made the exploration more fanciful!

Until next time! Putting my passport back in its safe home and getting back to work! #CandCConsulting.


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From the Bayou Country to Esplanade Avenue

New Orleans has got soul – there is no doubt in that. It is, my opinion, one of the most unique cities in our country, with no shortage of spirit, French influences and inexplicable southern sophistication. And anyone that has followed C&C for a while knows how much I adore the city’s sentiments and my own family history it has played host to. A celebratory weekend trip presented an opportunity to visit a once-treasured hotel deeply tied to my family’s Louisiana lineage…

My Great Grandparents, Edward and Gertrude Munson, owned Glenwood, a sugar plantation estate where they entertained and delighted guests with their southern graces in the form of dinner parties, stately accommodations and infamous café brûlot. They were an elegant, intoxicating couple and the pace of life at Glenwood, just west of New Orleans, was slow and seducing.  Described as “an atmosphere of romantic charm and beauty” on a vintage postcard (below), the property was encapsulated by mossy oaks, scents of magnolia and pecan trees. My Great Grandmother Gertrude, dubbed as “Miss Gertrude” was just as enchanting and bewitching, as evidenced in a profile piece in the 1955 installment of Reader’s Digest titled “The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Met” (read here).  

“But those who love the scent of sweet olive and mimosa, or the Louis Philippe rose, or the old ways of the South, succumb to Glenwood’s spell.”

– Reader’s Digest, 1955.

Despite the magic “spell” that captivated the plantation for decades, a series of events occurred forever changing Gertrude’s famed Glenwood. Tragically, after the war, the cane-growing business took a hit and the mosaic disease destroyed a great deal of crops. Just in time, my Great Grandmother Gertrude triumphantly saved the plantation by allowing guests to come stay at the plantation for a fee. An ad was discreetly placed, stating:

“Louisiana couple living in their ancestral mansion will take winter guests; fine food; informal atmosphere.” 

Of those winter guests was one of the most celebrated – Louise Crane (of Crane & Co. Stationary). Louise had stayed at Glenwood for several months at a time, and became dear friends with my Great Grandmother Gertrude. Even more dismally, after Glenwood was revitalized, the plantation burnt to the ground. This, understandably, left my Great Grandparents in a state of uncertainty and instability far from their days of opulence. Around this time, a tender invitation by Louise Crane was made, welcoming my Great Grandparents to help manage her newly acquired hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The Lamothe House Hotel, on Esplanade Avenue was the beginning of their life in New Orleans.

For many years, the hotel served as a southern sanctuary, with an enchanting garden in the exterior courtyard. Instructions to “wire, write or telephone” to make a reservation appear in this advertisement. 

My Great Grandparents worked fastidiously with Louise to create a hotel that provided their guests with the same level of graciousness as Glenwood. The hotel was a passion project of sorts, and one that my family was deeply attached to. It saw a great deal of success in the early days with cheerful guests coming and going, and frequently profiled in press and publications for its charming accommodations.

The Lamothe House Hotel, on the cover of Southern Living’s March 1981 issue.

For years growing up, my sister and I would hear tales of the famed Lamothe House and our connection to the south. My Father was even at one point a bell boy! Our first introduction to the hotel was during a family stay in our younger years, where memories of the fish pond in the enclosed garden and a narrow, dimly lit hall with its perimeter lined in antique mirrors and marble-top consoles lived in my young mind. While this was our first introduction, we were perhaps too young to truly savor the overall experience in the crescent city.

Last weekend, joined by my sister again –  now twenty years later from our initial visit – we meandered over to Esplanade Avenue to revisit The Lamothe House. We couldn’t help feel a bit removed from the history and saddened by seeing that aesthetically, the hotel had seemingly lost a great deal of its southern stature. Its tall french shutters were slightly tattered, and that narrow hall I had recalled felt lonely and lost in the era of Miss Gertrude and Louise. In the courtyard, a gardener was fastening a potted hibiscus to a trellis, while young women lounged poolside. While there were young patrons and evidence of new life, it seemed to linger in a former sentiment. In my mind, as we roamed around, I refused to accept the present, still holding on to the bygone era of those that shaped its place in New Orleans, the life Miss Gertrude, Louise Crane and the other characters helped cultivate. It is for these stories I will forever remain connected to New Orleans.

To read more on Miss Gertrude and Glenwood Plantation, visit here.

The Lamothe House Hotel, June 2017. 

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