I love Beacon Hill during the holidays, the epitome of Boston tasteful and conservative decorations.  This is Louisburg Square, (John Kerry owns a townhouse here) however, it could be Georgetown, or Pine Street in Philadelphia where the brownstone window boxes, wreaths, cobblestone sidewalks and green space are magical. Boston is understated decorations, lights in the trees on the Common and skating on the Frog Pond…no worries about melting iceP1000535

Many of you know that I love to cook and entertain, some meals are better than others, but I always want my guests to feel comfortable.  I like piles of magazines and newspapers in the house to be a bit cluttered.  Now that I am home more, (somehow this is getting out of hand)…have to work on the balance of messy/homey.  A few years ago I went to a spa in California and met Sally Quinn, Washington Post Staff Writer.  She was 5 years older than me and looked beautiful.  She was writing her book ‘The Party’, which I immediately ran out to buy when it was released.  I thought it was all about the food…but her book was not that at all.  It was all about the people.  She talked about the spirit of entertaining, ( lovely home in Georgetown) and about  getting everyone together to have a memorable time, and leave feeling uplifted, affirmed, and embraced.  Sometimes the food was terrible, the dog ate some of it it, the pasta sticky, etc…but she was never horrified.  Many people are afraid of ‘entertaining’ when it is really all about the generosity of spirit. It is really getting people together, having a party,  serving some food, and having  guests that you enjoy, and you feel will enjoy each other.

My friend Judi from Berkley gave me a book when I left Crate,’40 Years of Chez Panisse-The Power of Gathering by Alice Waters and Friends‘. I read every word.  It is the history of how Alice and her friends had a vision to just cook and after feeding their friends for several years, decided to open a restaurant and have people pay for what they loved to do…to get people together around food and conversation and fun.  It was about the farm, fresh ingredients, memories of patrons, owners, suppliers, all coming together to produce delicious food and have fun.  It was about ingredients of the season, and from 1971 created memories of every meal.  They were not just serving food but serving ideas.  They created a comfortable environment, and everyone helped.  They created food to celebrate life and strengthen the connection to nature and culture.  They turned their vision into reality.  So this was an inspiration for me to have a holiday party with friends to celebrate the season.  My designer friend Janet helped create the atmosphere, where all our friends could enjoy the warmth of the season and be together and have fun, and Josh and Jen from La Morra Restaurant made the food.  They celebrated their 10th year in business this week with a private party of 100 where a portion of the night went to Share Our Strength charity. A tribute to them to be a restaurant that just gets better and better.  They thanked all of us that have supported them throughout these 10 years.  The 100 guests became their family. And the party we had was the best fun because of our wonderful friends.

 

Have I been under a rock?  My friend Pam who is always in the know about creative retail took me last week to Providence ,RI. to the store that won my award for the most creative merchandising and product selection.  Simple Pleasures was an inspiration in this vast world of underwhelmed merchandising.  I was in awe.  Mary Moore is the owner, she was there, and we had conversations about what is next in the world of competition for the single merchant.  To be credible now it is no longer good enough to be a selective merchant and one brick and mortar.  Developed website, marketing, going viral, being professional enough to have suppliers feel you are worthy of getting their shipments, getting into the gift guides, and pitching yourself…is an entire world that unless you are in it now you will be left behind.  (Fat Toad Farm Carmel Sauce was in a gift guide this month for In Style-they were on my Vt Cheese blog and obviously  doing some savvy marketing to be top of mind and relevant.)

 

And another store Clad In Providence which had the beautiful fashions and accessories. They have 3 stores, an outlet, and traveling boutiques and occasional pop up stores in Connecticut.  Beautiful fashionista clothing.

Women in the news this week:  Mary T. Barra promoted to the CEO of General Motors.  A Car Gal was chosen unanimously from the internal candidate pool.  An engineer with 33 yrs experience at GM, as the first woman to ascend to the top job at a major auto company.  She is hands on and often drives the vehicles at high speeds in the test environment. I love that…let’s watch her progress.  This is huge for women in the top ranks. Her style is a consensus builder who calls her staff together on a moment’s notice to brainstorm on pressing issues. She has great people skills and that is critical to GMs team-first approach.

And Beyonce released her new album with every song (14) having a video (17) in a completely unconventional way by announcing it on Facebook. Was a surprise and available on ITunes. All going viral…for the big buy for the holidays.  Timing is everything. She nailed it.