Friday, December 30, 2011

New Years Eve Decor

Why not host a small New Years Eve supper? Invite a few neighbors or close friends, and sit down to dine and toast the New Year together.

New Years Eve Supper - all photos and styling by Valorie Hart

As an event designer I decorated many huge New Years parties HERE.

One of my favorite event designs was one in a 7000 square foot loft space. I want to show you how you can scale it down for your home.

Valorie Hart Designs - I designed this corporate event in a 7000 square foot loft - This is the inspiration for a New Years supper party you can scale down and recreate at home 

The elements I use are white branches, ribbons, white flowers, gold and silver, and pearls.
You can hop on over to Houzz to see my product guest picks to get some of the things I use. Even if you don't have time to order on the internet for New Years Eve, check out the sites for after holiday sales and stock up for next year. Shop locally too. All the elements are easy to find.

All the elements from the loft party are here in my dining room

Create focal points on your dining room table, the chandelier overhead, the sideboard or buffet, and on any other furniture in the dining room. The whole room will look decorated by decorating three or four places in the room.

My starting off point came by way of a wonderful Christmas gift I got from Mitchell from Optimism and White Paint. It's a "tablet" of 50 paper placements. This design is in black and white, but you can use any color you like.

I was off to the races with these black and white paper placemats, a gift from Mitchell

I basically used all the black and white things I had on hand: black and white plates, white branches, black and white ribbon, black napkins, white flowers, etc.

Black and white dinnerware, black napkins, black and white ribbons enhance the black and white placemats

I placed tall white branches on the chandelier, and made two large bouquets with them in silver vases. Inexpensive curling ribbon was cut to varying lengths and hung from the chandelier and on the branches. It gives the effect that the whole ceiling is decorated with festive New Years Eve streamers.

Tall white branches arranged in vases and placed on the chandelier  festooned with ribbon


Each of the black and white dinner plates has a different animal on them - This is the dog - The under plate is Italian


The rabbit plate - the pattern of the black and white plates is Du Paquier by Mottahedeh

This little guy looks like a weasel, but I call him a monkey

The fourth animal is a boar

I used simple white spray roses and flat leaf eucalyptus in black glass  containers

I took down the Christmas decor in the room that did not have the New Years colors.  I added a silver wreath on the mirror in place of the vintage color one, and removed the tree from the buffet with the vintage color balls, and removed the turquoise ornaments in the hurricanes.

The bar cart and trumeau is another focal point - I changed out the Christmas colors for the white and silver New Years color - I added a tall glass vase filled white branches, a silver wreath on the trumeau, and black and white ribbons hanging from the garland on top of the mirror - I also pinned wide strips of silver lame ribbon to transform the the lamp shade on the plaster Della Robbia lamp

I filled the glass vase with pearls - They are actually Mardi Gras beads

The buffet area - The "Dream" banner used for Christmas decor remained, but all other previous  Christmas decor was removed to keep the color scheme consistent

A large white ironstone platter holds hats and horns - I kept to silver. gold, and black - Sand in the bottom of the  hurricanes replaced the turquoise Christmas ornaments

Cholo loves the New Years Eve supper party decor

I actually styled this table from everything I had on hand, to participate along with the other fabulous tablescapers at Susan's Between Naps On The Porch.

And I am using Mr. Linky at Nitas's Mod Vintage Life to participate in her metamorphosis series. I admire Nita very much for many reasons, and am honored to be included in anything she does.

What are your New Years Eve plans? I hope I inspire you to do a little decorating!

Alberto and I usually stay home on New Years Eve. This year we will be "at home" and inviting people to stop by for a drink on their way to or from a party or whatever their New Years Eve plans are. It is not really a party. It's causal and no pressure, and we will be happy to see who turns up.


photo via Vintaquarian


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Limbo

The days between Christmas and New Years are kind of like an end of the year limbo. The huge build up to Christmas is over, with a lull of happy exhaustion. We clean up the debris of wrapping paper and gift boxes, clear up the kitchen, snack on Christmas left overs, and get ready for New Years Eve.

I was up early to set the table for Christmas Day brunch in the dining room - a big jingle bell on a ribbon hangs on the back of each person's chair to be worn as a festive accessory - Commander's Palace does this too - Our neighbors Julie and Larry came over Christmas morning in their pajamas to exchange gifts before they went off to their family lunch

No one feels like getting any real work done. No one feels like writing or reading blogs. It takes concentration to relax until the new year, when pending projects that loom can start in earnest again.


Red damask, white candlesticks, red dinnerware for Christmas brunch

Antique French plates with a lobster or crawfish - It's in the eye of the beholder

We had a beautiful low key Christmas brunch this year. Another couple joined us. We said we'd keep it simple and light.

I cleaned a few pounds of fresh Louisiana shrimp for The Shrimp and Grits - We also had beautiful Louisiana oysters

Shrimp and grits for New Orleans Christmas Day brunch

What does that mean in New Orleans? Well -  smoked salmon, caviar, bagels and all the trimmings to start, along with oysters on the half shell. Then shrimp and grits, and a spectacular green salad with white asparagus and pea sprouts. Finally for dessert, a chocolate buche de noel.

Arnaud's Restaurant in New Orleans makes my favorite French 75 - Just substitute Proseco to make the Italian 75

All of it washed down by a cocktail I call the  "Italian 75", a version of the French 75, made Italian by using Proseco instead of champagne.

Kitty Kitty Bang Bang under the tree waiting for her present

Cholo got a new toy from Santa
We were so busy Christmas morning preparing brunch we didn't open gifts until December 26!!!!  I haven't touched the computer in a couple of days. Just enjoying the moments, and hoping you are enjoying yours too.

We sent this card by email  - I try to keep a virtual "Rolodex" of everyone of you who comment or email me - You all mean a lot to Alberto and me - If we missed you, we apologize for the oversight and send it to you now

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Light It Up!

This is the season of lighting candles. Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights. Christmas celebrations include candlelight whether at the dinner table or in church or singing carols in Jackson Square. Lighting candles on New Years Eve brings light into the new year.


Christmas lights are the modern version of lighting candles as the days darken early. Even if you live in a warm climate the twinkly lights that come on at dusk and remain on all through the night brighten the spirit. Humans need light.


We spent some time teaching tango in the winter in Anchorage, Alaska. It was an amazing experience. Morning light comes around ten in the morning, and darkness starts to fall around two in the afternoon. The famous endless nights. The mayor of Anchorage requests citizens to put up their Christmas lights early, and leave them up all winter to help keep spirits light.


So today, to bring in the Winter Solstice, I give you a roundup of candle light to bring some virtual light into your day.




Many of you have had a a rough year. Loved ones have passed away. Jobs have been lost. Illnesses have become a way of life. Homes have been foreclosed on. Warriors have fallen. Crazy inhumane acts perpetuated by humans pepper the news. Politicians put us into a funk.


It's also been a year of babies being born. Human generosity and kindness far out weigh meanness and depravity. Laughter and silliness lift us all. Creativity and the arts inspire and motivate us. Home making and all it entails feathers our nests to make it possible to enjoy the world outside our doors.


These are vast generalizations for sure, maybe a bit like a greeting card. Despite set backs and betrayals, disappointments and frustrations, humans remain optimistic creatures, always dusting themselves off and moving along with life.


Gratitude has become the new little black dress. Gratitude platitudes pepper the social media. If you write it and say that you have gratitude, then perhaps it makes it more real. Everyone says they are grateful.


It's hard to function. It takes courage. It takes discipline. It's a chore to live day to day life. But live we do. Perhaps wearing gratitude on our sleeve moves us from the grind into enjoyment, into a lightness of spirit.


So light some candles during this winter season. Bring in the light and warmth. Leave your Christmas lights up for an extra week or two. No matter what funk you are in, when you open your eyes in the morning light, breath out a "thank you".



Alberto and I are no different in having the same trials and travails you all experience. Many blog friends, tango friends, and family have suffered loss this year. We cry with you, and we worry with you.


Yet, we remain hopeful and happy, and we wish you and yours the same, especially now during the Winter Solstice; The Festival of Lights (Hanukkah); the Christmas season ~ We wish you Hope and Happiness.







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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hit The Streets Now!

If you are in New Orleans and need some last minute gifts, take a look at these and hit the streets. I love to give gifts that say New Orleans, and these are my favorites.

The Preservation Resource Center,  has a great little gift shop, at their headquarters at 923 Tchoupitoulas Street (In the Warehouse District). My go-to gift from there, is a set of glasses etched with New Orleans houses on them. They are double old-fashioned glasses and hold a generous 13.5 ounces. Renowned designer Mignon Faget makes them for the PRC.  Alberto and I love to give this gift boxed set of four to both locals and visitors. The profits benefit the PRC when you buy them there.

PRC Creole Cottage double old fashion glass - Set of four comes in a gift box for $40. - Note the Absolut New Orleans, another great gift to give

Set of four Creole Cottage glasses - Get them at the Preservation Resource Center

Another gift I love to give, is Debra Shriver's fabulous coffee table book about New Orleans called "Stealing Magnolias". Locals and visitors alike love this beautifully written book, a Valentine to New Orleans, chock full of useful facts and information, and dozens and dozens of gorgeous photos.

Forget Amazon and go and buy it local. 
Get it at Tommy's Flowers in the French Quarter (533 Rue St. Louis (504 333-6822). It's so much fun to shop off line. George and Nancy Seegers at Tommy's will make you feel welcome.

Stealing Magnolias by Debra Shriver is on the coffee table of The Visual Vamp! Pick up a copy to give or keep

The days after Alberto and I returned to New Orleans from our Hurricane Katrina evacuation, I made my way to a jewelry shop called Sterling Silvia (4861 Magazine Street), and bought a small Fleur di lis necklace. We all wore the Fleur di lis to show solidarity, and I have not taken mine off since. Many people admire mine, and I have given several just like mine as gifts over the years. 

My Fleur di lis pendant necklace from Sterling Silvia

Sterling Silvia has the best selection of jewelry with New Orleans designs at really affordable prices. They have been in the French Quarter for years, but recently opened a new shop on Magazine Street.

My Fleur di lis necklace hangs on a lady Santos, but only for the photo! I haven't taken it off for the years since Katrina!
Candles are the prefect last minute gift. Who doesn't love a nice candle? I love to give the Orleans candle. It is very affordable, around $12., and it is just a nice as any luxury brand. I get mine at Gordon's, 725 Veterans, Metairie.

Orleans candles are as good as the luxury brands, but way more affordable


I love the black glass tumbler the Orleans candle comes in


So I'll see you on the street!!!!! Shop local when you can, wherever you live.

The Visual Vamp always wears a Fleur di lis necklace form Sterling Silvia

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