Pumpkin Time

2013-10-02 11:59:34 christinahaire
The Ultimate Pumpken

The Ultimate Pumpken

October is Fall and  Apple Picking and Halloween and Pumpkins.  We make our first of many batches of  Pumpkin Cookies right about now. Makes many but they go fast.

Pumpkin Cookies – makes 6 dozen

1/2 cup butter

1  1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp vanilla

2  1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1/ cup diced roasted almonds

1 cup chocolate pieces

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, pumpkin, and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture and mix well. Add almonds and chocolate pieces and mix well.

Drop by teaspoons onto well greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

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A Great Italian Cook!

2013-09-30 11:50:51 christinahaire

What a tribute to a legendary Italian cook – her recipe included in her obituary in the New York Times.

In Emilio Romagna last summer we had many versions of the pasta from the region she was raised in.

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

Adapted from “Spoon Fed” by Kim Severson



  • 2 cups tomatoes, with their juices (for example, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes)
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • salt


Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter and the onion halves in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt.
Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with a spoon. Add salt as needed.


Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta. This recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta.
Let’s make it tonite!


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Going to London!

2013-09-27 12:30:30 christinahaire
Even the windows are great.

A Design Shop Window

Soon to make our annual pilgramage  to London. It is our favorite city, (after New York of course, we are New Yorkers). Its history, culture, parks and museums, even the food is good these days. The bookstores for books not yet published in the US, are great for a brutal reader like myself. The array of shops and arcades for the traditional and modern are wonderful to explore. The design shop windows filled with the precious antique or whimsical chandelier. One can walk in and purchase a few yards of fabric or do a whole house.

Then there are the  gorgeous houses with sky high ceilings and windows to match, beautifully dressed of course. We always stay in one of these Victorian townhouses  in South Kensington which has become our “neighborhood” over the years.  Welcoming drawing rooms for guests to enjoy and bedrooms beautifully and cosily done in various themes. Like Americans the Brits embrace color but nothing looks too studied or perfect. They embrace the patina of age and imperfection and mixing the old with the new and the dash of whimsy.

Having done the sights untold times we look forward to going to our favorites places, a walk to Victoria and Albert Museum to see their latest exhibit and lovely gift shop. Further on Old Brompton to the hallowed halls of Harrods, especially the Food Halls. We go to Conrans Shop for the new and inspirational in modern decor and wonderful accessories. Stop in Bibendum their restaurant for a light lunch. The local pharmacies a must with their wonderful French soaps and beauty products. And a walk to Kings Road and all the shops along the way to Sloane Square. We also meander along finding new neighborhoods or the Christiopher Wren church never happened on before.

I always have a new museum or gallery on my list and this year it is the Serpentine Gallery right in Kensington Gardens, another walk from our hotel. Each year a well known architect is asked to build an outdoor pavillion  that stands until Oct. 31. A new Gallery has been added to the site by architect Zaha Hadid. Inside is the Magazine Restaurant. Can’t wait to see. Will report back.

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Why Work With An Interior Designer?

2013-09-25 11:08:52 christinahaire


Ten Good Reasons!

Ten Good Reasons!

Here are ten:

1.  Problem Solving – an interior designer is an expert in space planning, color, scale and light.  And that particular problem that plagues you.

2.  Avoiding Mistakes – this is a big one, mistakes are expensive. Designers have the experience to know what will work the first time.

3. Resources – access “to the trade” sources, as well as myriads of others, and the ability  to choose from unlimited selections to know which are best for you.

4. Rolodex – maybe not in rolodex anymore, but all the people to execute the project. Workrooms, contractors, carpenters and the rest. Takes years of experience to gather these.

5. Guidance – throughout the decision making process. Arriving at the aha moment when it clicks for you!

6. Timeless Design – the ability to incorporate the trends in a way that that will never look dated.

7. Priorities – helping to set them for the short and  long term

8. Marriage Counselor – small joke – but can help partners with different views arrive at a good solution that both are happy with.

9. Advocate – working with the tradespeople to execute your project to get the best possible result. Years of relationships come into play here.

10. Recipe – your ” instituional history”, the ability to add, redo, make changes that will always work with your original design.

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The Interior Design Process

2013-09-23 14:13:37 christinahaire


Our 9′ x 15′ design studio floor plan!

Interior Design is a process. It can be overwhelming, expensive and fraught with error. You can do it yourself if you are confident of you taste, have the resources, an infinite attention to detail, lots of time, love decision making and more important problem solving, and a courageous heart. Or you can work with a designer that can make the process manageable and even fun with a splendid result.

The collaboration, and it should be that, begins with an initial meeting, where dreams and wishes, needs and function are discussed along with budget and expectations.

This is where you share the size and  scope of  your project, and your sense of comfort and style. Budget should be discussed. Some people think this will encourage the designer to take advantage of that amount, that isn’t true at all, it is essential to determine if the budget is realistic for what you want to achieve. If not, it is  your decision whether  to scale back, do the project in stages or increase the budget. I am happy to accommodate.  Discuss how you like to be charged. Options are hourly consultation and discount on purchases, or a flat fee that includes one fee for the hours estimated to provide  you with the “recipe” for your project. Both options include floor plans, selections of fabrics, furniture, carpet, paint color and drawings for custom built ins as discussed. Purchasing can  be done by you or a combination of  you and designer. The industry has been moving towards the flat fee model and our design firm has embraced that.  We are both then attuned  to budget and time.

I encourage clients to bring pictures from magazines and books, shows a sense of your style and likes . Can also show what you aren’t comfortable with. It is  a reference point to begin . You should also like your designer’s taste. While our clients’ rooms always look like themselves and not me as designer, there’s a sensibility that you embrace and a style with the designer you choose. You should also feel a sense of rapport with your designer and that should increase over time. I have clients that have come back for over 20 years and the relationship remains a joy.

The length of the project from concept to installation should be discussed and  realistic. It depends on manufacturers, and carpenters and installers and of course how quickly you make decisions. In design we are dependent on so many people and relationships to delver the project.  I like to install the project all at once, complete with accents and accessories. The client can then choose what they would like to keep but in the moment,  it gives them the sense and splendor of the finished room. Voila!

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