Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Fall, Y’all!

Fall leaves

Top 20 things we love about Atlanta in October:


Ann and Flowers compressed

1. The weather: Would you believe day after day of gorgeous, sunny, cloudless days with 70 degree temperatures during the day and a nice nippy breeze in the evenings? It’s just unbelievable. This little Huffington, who grew up in the greyest of grey cities in Europe and pretty much never saw the sun from October to March, now drives a happy convertible and pinches herself every day that she spends with the top down, breezing through Atlanta in the perfect month of October.

Fall weather forecast

2. College visits. OK, again this is personal, but since I have a senior in high school, October is the “family road trip” month to area colleges and what fun it has been! I don’t know if it’s special because every moment is precious or because it’s so fun to be on a college campus and to take in all the incredible opportunities that are available to beloved children. How many times has my husband said, wistfully and enviously, “I could go here!” – and I know he would! October is filled to the brim with college visits and we’re loving every one (unfortunately!).

College campus fall

3. It’s almost fondue time! Our little family loves to cook and eat wintry foods, starting with luscious soups made with fall veggies, and culminating with our Fondue and Raclette traditions around the Christmas holidays. So when the leaves start to change color, and the evenings are brisk enough for fires and sweaters, we immediately pull out the soup casserole and simmer away. Yummy!


4. The JDRF walk. We’ve been doing this for years and each year, we think it gets better. Now located at Centennial Park, the Walk attracts huge crowds of wonderful people who are all there to support a loved one with Juvenile Diabetes. The marvelous energy is contagious and it seems like it’s always a sunny day, even when it’s not. October wouldn’t be October without the JDRF walk. Of course, we all pray that the Walk will go away, with a cure for Diabetes. But meanwhile, raising over $1.5MM is a great goal – and certainly one that brings us all together like a big family on a wonderful October day.

JDRF Walk for a Cure



meg blog photo

5. Evenings on the back porch: about ten years ago, we added a wonderful porch with a fireplace to the back of our house. It survived the rebuild and to this day, is our very favorite hang out spot. On cool fall evenings, we light the fire, enjoy a yummy dinner and relish the fresh air.

6. Halloween: our neighborhood is home to dozens and dozens of kids and it’s so fun to see them all in their spooky, silly or sensational Halloween regalia. It’s a no-holds-barred time for outdoor decorations, which range from Party City fun-n-tacky to elegant displays of pumpkins, wheat sheaths, hay bales and tasteful scarecrows.


7. I’m with Ann: a big pot of butternut squash soup is the be-all and the end-all of fall cuisine.


8. Pull out the sweaters: this summer, we sweated and sweated through endless days of 90+ degrees. Now we’ve got no humidity and cool temps…it’s so refreshing!

JCrew sweater



Sarah Cropped

9. College football: My fall social calendar is ruled by football games, and to be honest, I’m ok with that! I obsessively check the BCS rankings as much as any guy does. I love entertaining and spending time with friends, and watching football is the perfect way to combine these two activities.

College football Yes, I went to Vandy, shame of the SEC. Love the SEC in general!

10. Boots: Growing up riding horses, tall leather boots have always been a key component in my wardrobe. While I’m not showing anymore, I still enjoy wearing boots almost every day in the winter, either with skinny jeans and a sweater, tights and a dress, or leggings and a tunic.

Hermes jumping boots Hermes jumping boots…in my dreams!

11. Pumpkin: I love anything and everything pumpkin. When the first cans of Libby’s pumpkin appeared on grocery store shelves (by far the most superior pureed pumpkin out there), I literally went to 4 different Publixs and cleared out their inventory. When my mom makes her first batch of delicious pumpkin bread, I know fall has arrived.

Libby's pumpkin



Linda cropped compressed

12. I love listening to Classical Music while watching the leaves float to the ground.

13. I love the palette of Fall! All the oranges red and golden hues.

Colors of fall

14. Soup! There is nothing better on a crisp fall day than a warm bowl of hearty chili.


15. Friday night high school football! I love watching my older son, Jack, play under the lights on a crisp fall evening while wrapped in a blanket sipping hot cocoa!

Fall football



Sam Jones

16. Central Park in fall - I snapped this photo this weekend after having brunch on the patio at Sarabeth's. The weather was perfect and I swear everyone we passed had a smile on their face in anticipation of a perfect fall. Well, except for the one cranky cab driver, but I over tipped him so he would feel guilty and I like to think he drove away with a smile.


17. Scarves - It's like getting a hug every time you wrap the scarf around your neck and it feels so cozy. If you have a scarf, often you don't even need a coat even in cold weather. It's a lot less hassle and can be tied in about a hundred ways. What's your favorite way?

Chic scarf

18. Down Comforters - Nothing beats snuggling into bed under a down comforter. NOTHING!

Down comforter

19. Corn Chowder - It just seems to taste better with a bit of chill in the air.


20. And finally, every Huffington’s top twenty favorite thing about October in Atlanta?

The 20% off PARTNERS CARD!!

Partners Card

We’ve been big fans of the Partners Card for years, saving up our purchases over the summer so that we could benefit from the 20% off at dozens of wonderful local retailers while equally benefitting a wonderful cause.

This is the first year that we’re honoring the Partners Card at Huff Harrington and we’re proud to be a part of such a worthwhile event. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the card purchase supports Camp Twin Lakes, a not-for-profit organization that helps kids with serious illness, disabilities and other challenges.

Camp Twin Lakes

The event runs through Sunday, October 31st (we’re closed Sunday so through Saturday, October 30th for us.) We’re selling the $60.00 cards here at the gallery, too, so it couldn’t be easier. Click here to see our participating artists and we hope you’ll join us for this win-win-win event!



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How We’re Really All Just Alike…

We just got back from another one of our little Paradise in Provence trips to that little slice of French heaven, Les Murets. These are wonderful trips that fully immerse one in the culture, food, wine and overall ambiance of the Luberon, along with a healthy dose of renewing friendships or creating new ones.

Dinner on terraceThe inviting terrace at Les Murets where hundreds of friendships have been formed.

This last trip consisted of three lovely ladies from Chicago who found out about our trip from our website; and four lively and fun girls from Atlanta, who are personal friends and clients at the gallery.

As we planned the trip, Ann and I wondered just a little uneasily about the mix. It’s a little like going to camp: you know you’re going to have a wonderful time, but you’re not sure who your bunkmates will be. However, we reassured ourselves that everyone would be grown-up, beautifully mannered and if there were any oil/water situations, they would be resolved in a quiet and respectful way.

Well, of course we didn’t have to worry: Chicago met Atlanta and Atlanta met Chicago and it was love at first sight. It started that first night with general introductions over perfectly chilled rose and a delicious dinner on Les Muret’s magical terrace. And, as the week wore on, it was refreshing to watch new friendships being formed and lasting relationships being cemented through shared experiences: children, husbands, careers and passions.

The Chicago ladies (who mostly have younger children) were thrilled to have downtime with each other away from their constant demands and pressures. And, the Atlanta ladies re-kindled strong friendships that maybe had drifted over the years.

Friends and wine at dinner

Here's Atlanta & Chicago meeting for the first time.

We’re not sure if it was the soft and reflective light that permeates Provence, or maybe the balmy, lavender-scented air (and unusually summer-like temps that greeted us on our arrival and blessedly stayed with us all week) that helped cement these newly found relationships; or, maybe it was the long and lingering dinners over olives, tapenade, freshly made vegetables tarts, aromatic cheeses and succulent fruits.

cheese The famous cheese tray at Bistrot du Paradou – a perfect recipe for making new friends.

Perhaps it was the light and refreshing roses, reds and whites that were heartily consumed or the chance to chat leisurely over two-hour gastronomique feasts. Comparing market finds or quietly contemplating one’s life in a 16th century abbey? Whatever the reason, for one happy week, our seven guests become fast and furious friends.

Shopping in the market Shopping in the market

Relaxing Thoughtful contemplation (and maybe a little catnap) after a delicious lunch.

The group

Two days later we're all fast and furious friends...

Petit cafe Petit cafe for dejeuner

Our thoughts were confirmed twice on this trip: once while we were driving with our handsome and charming driver, Christophe, and discussing the merits of soccer. One saucy lady happened to mention that the players, while at the top of their game, are usually pretty attractive, too. “Oh you ladies are the same all over,” exclaimed Christophe with a perfectly French grin and shrug. We all agreed.

Christophe Christophe, our fearless driver

A few days later, we gathered after a postcard pretty little market (in Lourmarin) to compare purchases. One Atlantan pulled out a new purchase and fetchingly modeled it.

Donna models her new top Donna models her new top – and receives an admiring remark from a nearby vendor.

A vendor, a typical Provencal kind of guy, started applauding and called out in French, “You women are always admiring your babies!” (meaning that we coddle and cuddle the things we love.)

Lovely ladies

Les Baux Les Baux

What we all realized is that despite the myriad of differences we have, we are all basically the same. We have families, careers, responsibilities and passions and when a bond is formed through one of those, a friendship is sure to be made.

And if that can happen for one week in enchanting Provence, it’s all the better!



Monday, October 18, 2010

Heaven in the 7th, Part II

The it's going to be worth it especially in winter view

The stars may have lined up right. I call the agent, for the 7th Heaven apartment, and she actually answers the phone and is lovely. Yes, the apartment just came on the market today, and yes it is still available. In fact, she is just starting to take appointments.

I quickly hang up and call my buyer’s agent, who just happens to be in her car, and when I text her the pictures of the apartment, she turns around and heads right back to the 7th. By the time she gets to the building, she is asked to wait outside because there are people visiting the apartment right now, and two groups ahead of her on the street. And of course, I am calling her every five minutes for an update.

A little while later (and an eternity in my mind), she calls me in hushed tones to give me her tour. She explains that there is a weird, funky hallway, and a new kitchen and another weird funky hallway, and lots of doors that open into little rooms, and basically I understand nothing of the layout. Should I go for it, I ask her urgently. Is it great? We’ll deal with the details later, just tell me yes or no. At first she hedges because she is cautious, and the apartment has some quirks. And she doesn’t like to be put on the spot. But then she says, “It’s beautiful. And it has lots of potential …” which is all I need to hear.

I’ve been down this route several times before, so I know the drill: Full price offer, in writing, quickly wire some money and hold your breath. The rest is a sleepless blur, but somehow I come out of it at the other end with an offer that has been accepted, pending my own visit to the apartment in the next few days. So, with the blessing of my little family and my gallery, I hop on a plane, and head to Paris for my own inspection.

View towards Bosquet

My friend Adrian said it right. There is something very feng shui about this apartment. It has a nice vibe to it. You feel good when you walk in, from your first glimpse of the charming little oval window in the front hall.

Front hall window low res

Yes, the layout is very funky, with a long, narrow hallway that is typical of many Haussmann style apartments. And unfortunately, the whole place has been renovated to someone else’s standards, which is what it is. Luckily, the floors have not been touched, and they are gorgeous and original. And despite the previous renovation, the moldings are intact, and the lines and bones are good.

IMG_8949 [800x600]

The realtor’ photos of the kitchen were OK

Sept 20 to 27 2010 067

But the reality is, the cabinets are baby blue with black marble

The worst part is that the kitchen has been completely redone, and I’m not loving the modern, baby blue laminate cabinets with the black granite countertops and black floor. And the bathroom has been lined with what I think is the most hideous mosaic tile, that I am told in no uncertain terms, is one of the most expensive around. Ouch! And although there is ample storage, which is unusual in Parisian apartments, the closets are ugly and placed in the funkiest arrangement. There’s definitely a lot of work to be done, even though the apartment is in good shape.

IMG_8945 [800x600]

Even the realtor’s photos can’t mask the mosaic tiled bathroom

The question is … is it worth it?

As I start to ponder this thought, the sun pours in across the floors and something catches my eye. I love the reflection of the balustrade against the warmly hued floors.

Floors low res

Even in the back bedrooms, there’s a wonderful light that shines through.

Reflections detail cropped

Dining room compressed

A friend brings over a bottle of champagne and we inelegantly sip it, sitting on the wooden floors.

Sept 20 to 27 2010 028

As the sun sets, we watch the lights of the Eiffel tower come on.

Eiffel lights compressed

I think I’m feeling good about this. I absolutely love the neighborhood. My husband loves the neighborhood. My whole family and my extended family all love the neighborhood and just about everybody I know loves the Rue Cler. And my dog, bless her sweet darling heart, would have the just about the best possible promenade a puppy could have. In fact, I can just see her face now, looking up at me, with those adoring eyes saying, “Please, please can we go to the Eiffel Tower again?”


As my friend and I head out the door and down the street to Les Cocottes, one of my favorite restaurants in the area, I think I see a sign.

One sign

Actually, it may be two signs.

two signs

Oh boy. I look again and see five little signs, right there on the rue Cler.

Copy of On the rue Cler

And that’s when I know that this is one is meant to be.