Thursday, January 28, 2010

Antiquing in Petworth

London this week has been cold,  dreary,  grey, and at times wet.  Perfect soup weather. Today, roasted butternut squash soup--yesterday, leek and sweet potato. So when faced with those circumstances, you can snuggle in all day and read a good book about London, or you can get out and do what the real troopers do--SHOP!  You know what they say, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping! 

So, we bundled up and gathered early one morning at Victoria Station to catch a train south to the small town of Petworth, known for its beautiful 17th century mansion overseen by the National Trust (on the list for next trip) and its antiques. By train, only an hour and 20 minutes away, we traveled through countryside, sheep pastures, and villages till we made our way to Petworth.

Petworth is an ancient market town, and its St. Mary's church dates from the 13-14th century.

The town boasts 37 antique shops, and we did our very best to cover them all. We found the Tudor Rose Antique shop to be fascinating, since it was located in a building that was 500 years old.

So many things to see, so much diversity in age and styles. Furnishings and small items both.

We loved this booth in the Antique Centre.

Sweet christening dresses amidst furniture from all periods.

One of the gals bought this beautiful French pastry table to take home to the US with her. Loved it!

I found this chair and its story fascinating. It's a lambing chair from the 18th century. The dealer explained to us that at the end of his day, a shepherd would pull this chair up to the fire and sit in it to feed the orphan lambs. The storage drawer under the seat would hold the bottles he would need to nourish the little lamb. Can't you just picture that scene?  If you want me to pick it up for you, it will only cost you $4100. Email me!

A successful shopping day for a few of the gals, and a learning experience for the rest of us, we loved our get-away trip from the city. One final temptation lured us at the end of the day--The Sugar Lounge, but alas, the train was approaching to take us home. Next time, Petworth, we'll see your Petworth Mansion and fit in the Sugar Lounge.  Promise!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Motel 6 It's Not

I posted recently about our stay in Los Cabos at The Palmilla Resort, one of the properties of the One and Only Luxury Resorts. I'll be the first to admit that we were totally lucky--blessed-- fortunate, call it what you will, to have been invited to stay there, because this spot of paradise is definitely a step above anything we've ever experienced.  It was the third time we have been privileged to go there for business conferences, and every time we've gone, it just gets better and better. Here a a few things that make it stand out as a "One and Only."  Starting with the ocean at your feet just outside of the balcony, the couch invites a nap as you relax to the sounds of the ocean waves.

How can you go wrong with breakfast delivered to your door and set up with an ocean view?

Each guest has at his beckon call a personal butler. Meet Oscar and Juan. These were our butlers during our visit. They would do anything for you, even unpack your bags (no thank you, I'll put away my own unmentionables, please) or arrange for a delicious packed lunch for the air flight home.

Included in your welcome is a free pressing for two garments, but when I asked for an iron and ironing board, I was brought an "ironing kit, " which included a lint brush, spray starch, and lavender scented spray mist by L'Occitane, a favorite French product of mine.

Each day a fruit delivery appears at your door, which you select from a fruit menu, as well as an afternoon snack of your choice, just at dusk.

No mini toiletry bottles, here mind you. You'll find Lady Primrose Blue Agave scented gel, soap, and hair products. They even delivered mouthwash and floss on the second evening. Hope that wasn't just for the guests who needed it!

They employ a lot of people on this resort, and that's a good thing, right? We were helping to stimulate their economy. Wonder who teaches the tissue and toilet paper accordion folding class for the new recruits? Every time we left the room, we'd come back to "decorated" tissue and toilet paper.

At bed each evening, we were to select the turndown aromatherapy blend that appealed to us. I was all about the Calm choice of ylang ylang, but who was I fooling? How could you be anything but calm in that environment?

A slipper pouch by your bed, madame...

and your robe, should you need it, along with your chocolate truffle, romantic music and candles lit in the room and on the patio. Sweet dreams!

As for the beach and pool service, I can't imagine a finer service.

Refreshing cold towels, water on ice, meals and drinks just for the asking, oxygen shots, wake up calls should you blissfully drift asleep, coconut yogurt treats, mini fruit popsicles, spritzing with water, and the biggest perk of the weekend....

Free foot massages by the pool. Take me away!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hope for Haiti's Children

This past week, all of us have been captured by the horrific news of the earthquake in Haiti, and our hearts are pained as we view the reports coming out of this saddened country. I feel a heightened interest in the plight of the people there, since an organization we love called Hope for Haiti's Children is so close to my heart. Since coming to our church just over a year ago, our current minister has introduced us all to this worthy organization. As president of this non-profit group, he has shared so many stories of life in this impoverished country through his travels and involvement. As a result, we are all big supporters of the children living there.

Even before the earthquake, it was estimated that there were over 300,000 orphans in the country. HFHC coordinates an orphanage in Port au Prince, and oversees the sponsorship of 725 children in nine different schools. Medical mission trips are a focus as well, and just yesterday, a plane took several doctors and nurses to the area to see where they could serve. I am very prayerful for the group who has arrived there, and for my friends who are bravely enduring adverse conditions to help save lives.

This photo was taken in happier times. Those who sponsor children there with a monthly pledge through this organization are praying daily and hoping that their child is alive and safe. I ask that you join us in that effort. More current information and updates from the program director can be found at their website here. If you have the heart to help, and want to find a reliable, established place that will go forward in helping the children of Haiti, you can find a place to donate on their site.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Detour from the Two Cities

This past weekend I took a detour from the Two Cities to Los Cabos, Mexico. I was so fortunate to be able to make a return trip there for a few days with my husband. It was a business conference for him, and of course, I felt "obliged" to accompany him. He would not have managed without me there, I'm sure. We returned to one of our favorite places in the world, The Palmilla Resort.

I thought you might like a little peek into the window of this beautiful spot. Hope you enjoy this short slideshow of some of the views where we stayed. When you view it on the blog, if it is cut off along the side, I've discovered that if you click twice on the screen, you can watch it on YouTube full screen. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Little Things Make My Heart Sing

I treated myself to a little present a week ago. It was calling out to me on a blog that I now follow, and I just couldn't resist. As I opened it, I was fascinated by all the little details and care that went into showcasing a product so lovingly made.

Holding my purchase was a shimmery pink envelope tied up with sheer aqua French ribbon offset with a glittery signature tag.

The next layer inside was carefully wrapped in tissue paper and secured with such a sweet ribbon imprinted with little crowns.

My purchase was just as I imagined it. Four handmade Marie Antoinette note cards in the colors I'm a little obsessed with now: soft teal and red, with a little yellow mixed in.

Who will receive one of these note cards remains unknown just yet, but I have in mind to frame one or more of them. Maybe for my Marie Antoinette inspired bedroom?  We'll see where they end up.  Look how pretty the matching envelopes are.

And if that wasn't enough, Daisy of La Petite Plume included this note card as a bonus along with a new calendar. I just know we would be great friends--she shares my passion of all things French. Check out her blog and her online stationery shop. You just might find something you can't live without too.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Movies with a British flair

One of the things I enjoy most about the Christmas holidays is the chance and the time to catch a few movies. Typically, any movies we see are on the plane going back and forth to London each month, but over the break, we actually paid money (way too much) to see a few shows. This season, there were a few with British flair.

Sherlock Holmes was a favorite for both my husband and me. I have to admit I did not know much about the story of Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, as created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so I was viewing this film with fresh eyes. Adventure, humor, tension and a mystery to solve all added up to a lot of fun. A year ago, I remember being rather aggravated one day, when I took my mother who was visiting London to St. Paul's Cathedral, only to find that it was closed for the afternoon. Unbelievable--the church closed, and there was no sign of a special service going on! But, when we walked around the front, we discovered that they had just finished filming for an upcoming Sherlock Holmes movie. Little did I know at the time, that Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. might be in the vicinity, or I might have done a little sleuthing of my own, but sadly all I viewed were scattered hay, horses, and their deposits left behind.

Next trip to London, I hope to visit the Victorian era Brompton Cemetery which provided a backdrop for a major scene in the movie as well as the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street. Evidently, there is a stand-in actor there who oversees  a faithfully recreated version of Sherlock Holmes' study, as well as all sorts of paraphernalia on view.

A second movie I would highly recommend seeing is The Young Victoria. The story of Queen Victoria's courtship and early married life is an historical romance with beautiful settings and costumes that enrich the story even more. Starring Emily Blunt, who has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Victoria, and Rupert Friend, as her cousin, Albert, their friendship withstands the pressures of the court's expectations and blossoms into one of history's most poignant love stories. Produced along with others by Sarah Ferguson,  the movie also offers a quick cameo role for her daughter, Princess Beatrice, as a lady-in-waiting to the queen. My only complaint is that it left me longing for more, so perhaps the door is open for a sequel???? Perhaps The Not-So-Young Victoria, since she reigned for 63 years.

Not to be left out is a cute movie starring that lovable British actor, Hugh Grant. On a designated chick flick afternoon, the gals in our family headed out to see Did You Hear About the Morgans? Also starring Sarah Jessica Parker,  it's just a fun movie about a couple whose marriage is troubled, who are sent to Wyoming in the Witness Protection Program after witnessing a murder. Hugh Grant just makes me laugh because he reminds me of a few British men I know, none of whom are quite as handsome, but all of whom are just as charming. If you catch one of these, let me know if you enjoyed them like I did.