Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giving Thanks

Little Pilgrims ~ Elizabeth Grace, Carrie and John Mark

Giving Thanks

by Mattie M. Renwick

For flowers so beautiful and sweet,
For friends and clothes and food to eat,
For precious hours, for work and play,
We thank Thee this Thanksgiving Day.

For father’s care and mother’s love,
For the blue sky and clouds above,
For springtime and autumn gay,
We thank Thee this Thanksgiving Day!

For all Thy gifts so good and fair,
Bestowed so freely everywhere,
Give us grateful hearts we pray,
To thank Thee this Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Holiday and thank you for your friendship!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Whether in the world of museums, antiques or rare books, patina is a word often used to describe an artefact or object. It can mean fading, darkening or other signs of age, which are natural and/or unavoidable, and often enhances the value and appearance of the item. With the arrival of yet another birthday, I feel patina could describe me as well!

So when I wandered into a shop in La Selva Beach, CA, near Santa Cruz, called PATINE, I knew it was my kind of place.

The shop is filled with imaginative displays, and objects of charm, with just the right amount of wear around the edges.

We met Lauren, a very elegant woman who watches the shop on weekends, so the owners can go off to work various markets and shows.

Pillows and Bolsters in French ticking and linen

Vintage and Antique Nightwear from the 1800s in cotton, linen and hemp. See how lovely Lauren looks in hers.

Antique French children’s cloth "rag books"

Cushions made from some of these cloth book covers

Looking like two Parisian rag-pickers, we had a ball rummaging through an industrial-size laundry bin full of vintage designer scarves priced at $5-each. We discovered and liberated several brightly colored and patterned vintage treasures from YSL, Vera and Schiaparelli.

A rustic, French produce sack made of hemp, with great lettering and a red star, was hanging on the wall behind the counter! I fell in love with its patina, particularly the primitive repair stitching.

Here it is, proudly hanging over our red Chinese settee.

Patinated and proud,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Head Florist at White House

It has recently been announced that Laura Dowling, a floral designer from Alexandria, Virginia, is to be the new White House Head Florist. Of course, those of us who were fortunate enough to be at her September 29th seminar at Pierre Deux in Carmel, knew weeks before that she was a finalist. We were, however, under a gag order until it was made public.

Our good mates Robert and Michelle were visiting from Australia, so we girls, and our official photographer, MQA, decided to attend the event.

It was standing room only, but those of us who arrived early got to sit right up front on some of the shop’s luxurious chairs.

Laura is absolutely charming, very accessible and passionate about her craft. She made her first trip to Paris ten years ago, and since then has studied under such floral masters as Christian Tortu and Catherine Muller.

Laura demonstrates the Bouquet Ronde technique

An arrangement in a miniature Anduze pot

The Vase Bouquet technique

Some of her signature ribbon embellishments

Long slender leaves cut, and folded, origami-style.

In closing, Laura said that a French style bouquet should look as if it comes straight from the garden or the meadow, using nature for inspiration, and mimicking how things grow.

Although, she announced that she was one of three being considered for the position at the White House, she asked me not to write anything on my blog yet. But I see I have already been scooped by many of the major networks!

Bonne chance Laura!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch...

Whenever company comes to visit us here in Carmel, (and that is quite often these days), we hightail it down to the Ranch - Mission Ranch, that is. Nothing beats sitting out on the deck at sunset, looking out over the meadows and wetlands to Carmel Beach, and Point Lobos beyond.

This charming complex (lodging and restaurant) was purchased in 1986 by local legend Clint Eastwood, who has lovingly restored the property. Let me take you on a tour of the grounds.

Surely the "largest flower planter in the West"

The 1850's Farmhouse

Flowers planted in a tree stump

This must be the honeymoon cottage!

The historic bunkhouse, the oldest structure

The sheep are pets. No lamb on the menu here!

Happy Trails partners!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our Sheldrake Wins "Top-100" Winery Award

Twelve years ago, we gathered in the field of a former dairy farm, high above Cayuga’s waters, in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. We were: a viticulturalist, an interior designer, a professor, two IT professionals, and me, the great-granddaughter of a pioneering American grape-grower*. Each of us planted a grapevine in honor of the inauguration of our new winery/vineyard venture, Sheldrake Point Vineyard, while an Abenaki Native American blessed the sight.

Here I am with our Winery Manager

Partners have come and gone, but our vision has remained the same, to respect and integrate the uniqueness of the Finger Lakes region, pursue the best sustainable viticultural practices, make the highest quality wine that the grapes and weather will permit, and offer our visitors a memorable experience.

None of us could have dreamed of the day when Sheldrake would be named one of the "Top-100 Wineries in the World" by Wine & Spirits magazine.

On October 14, 2009, three of us (my husband and I, and Bob, the Winery’s general manager) presented our wines at the Magazine's gala tasting event, amidst the splendor of the Galleria at the San Francisco Design Center.

There we were, standing shoulder to shoulder with the most iconic wine brands from around the world.

The Finger Lakes is known for its Riesling, and we showcased our best: a 2007 Dry Riesling and a 2007 Riesling Ice Wine. The ice wine is made according to Canadian standards, for example, the berries are harvested when it is below 15 degrees F. This wine has won many awards, including the "Best Riesling in North America" at the Hyatt International Riesling Chalenge, and has also been served at the White House.

Aside from receiving the “Top-100” honor, many other things stand out about the evening:

  • Having my first taste of Cristal champagne (after waiting in line with the hoards of their groupies);

  • Chatting with Prue Henschke (from Henschke Winery in the Barossa Valley of Australia), which made us homesick for the beautiful wines and the wonderful people of the land down-under;
  • Getting a chance to meet the winemaker from Ridge, and sampling his famous Monte Bello Cabernet, which won the Judgement of Paris Rematch in 2006;

  • Talking with the charming young representative from Fonseca, (a member of the Symington family, one of the oldest Port houses);

  • Seeing Craggy Range from New Zealand, a picturesque winery in Hawke’s Bay on the North Island, where we stayed in their luxe ‘bach’ guest house among the vines;

  • Sampling food from the many chefs, restaurants and provisioners. The most popular being Hog Island Oysters, which was perfectly sited in the Champagne and sparkling wine section.

Wish you had been there!


*Wine and grapes are in my blood. My great-grandfather, Theodore Sedgwick Hubbard (1843-1906), established his nursery; T.S. Hubbard Co., in Fredonia, NY in 1866. Considered a leading authority on grapes in the world, at one time he propagated over a 100 different native grape vines, and sold rootstock all over the US and abroad. His grapes won awards at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, 1904, and in 1915 the received the Wilder Award from the American Pomological Society. Last summer, I walked the NY Ag Station experimental vineyard in Geneva, NY with a scientist who showed me a big purple, blue grape - named after my grandfather, the Hubbard grape. How proud I was!