{merry, merry christmas!}

My very first {and only} gingerbread house, made a million years ago and alongside one of my dearest friends, who would later admit that mine turned out better than hers, and this thought would bring up the memory of a project we did in school, where mine was showcased in front of the class, and she would then confess that she was "always a little jealous about that project" and we would laugh . . .

The Christmas baking is finished {although I wonder where the shortbread cookies have gone?}
{wooden spoons by live wire farm}

The shopping is done and the gifts are wrapped . . .
{gift wrap via
thompson family life}

Three pre-Christmas parties in the past three days, officially on holiday and excited and looking forward to Christmas day . . .
Merry, Merry Christmas everyone!

May your Holidays be filled with food, family, friends and a few stolen moments under the mistletoe . . .

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{high tides}

a friend of ours recently purchased a holiday home in Miami, so we'll be heading there sometime in the Spring, but if we didn't already have a great place to stay, we would definitely be checking in to the citrus-y bright, elegantly cheerful suites of The Tides. My favourite places to stay are the ones that look invitingly unhotel-like and feel like a home away from home.

{click images to enlarge}

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{a new york minute}

Ask anyone, and they will tell you that Paris will always be my favourite. P, on the other hand, while British by birth, is a New Yorker by heart, and every time we're here, can see why he's so drawn to Manhattan.

Our little trip was a whirlwind, as all spontaneous weekends away should be, full of wonderful sites and sounds, old haunts and new favourites, great food, good wine, shopping, and all with the best company, which makes all the difference.

Always forget how cold Manhattan can be in autumn, with the wind whipping off the water, so our first stop was to Madison Avenue to pick up a warmer jacket than the lightweight trench I had packed. And then we were off to find adventure . . .

One of our very favourite things about New York is the wide selection of amazing restaurants, and we had the chance to visit some of the best, including Maze by Gordon Ramsey at The London, designed by the highly esteemed David Collins, who keeps the restaurant and hotel industry looking their best. Every last detail was looked after, from the silver tableware to the complimentary after-dinner peanut brittle and caramel truffles. Out of all the wonderful places we dined, P. liked this one best.

They also serve high tea, of course!

Another great place to check out is Lupa, at 170 Thompson Street (between Houston Street and Bleecker Street), co-owned by Mario Batali. Fresh Italian with a very relaxed, inviting ambiance, and the Apician Spiced Dates & Mascarpone for dessert is incredible!

{photography by Michael Piazza}

oysters at Grand Central

Another great place to check out is The Spotted Pig, a favourite with locals, and 3 Michelin Stars can't be wrong. We loved the vibrant atmosphere, although it can get quite crowded on weekends.

window at Anthropologie

sadly, the Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Pestle & Mortar did not make it back in one piece . . .

a little SoHo retail therapy

And of course, a trip to the Met to check out the latest exhibit, including the breathtaking Gates of Paridise {above}.

. . . and to P., thank you for a perfect time, although must confess that pretty much anything I do with you is the best time ever . . .

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{david collins studio}

Callas Brasserie, Budapest, Hungary
"A grand Budapest coffee house displaying fin-de-si├Ęcle influences with an Art Deco twist."

{"Everything we do is a reflection of the principle that design is in the detail."}

I first became interested in
David Collins' work after visiting one of the hotels and restaurants he designed and was immediately taken with every glamorous detail. Founded in 1985, David Collins Studio includes architects, interior, graphic and furniture designers in offices on three continents. The style is immediately identifiable by its sleek, sophisticated urban glamour, stunning lighting, high-gloss satins, and rich leather. The Irish-born architect has helped to create some of the coolest places to be seen in London, including The Wolseley restaurant, and is now taking on Manhattan and LA . . .

David Collins has also won GQ's Man of the Year Award:
". . . for creating some of the capital's most convivial restaurant interiors - the Wolseley, J Sheekey, Locanda Locatelli. Collins ranks amongst the best company in London and is hot-wired to modern life. But he understands restaurants, rather than lives in them."
--Charlie Porter, GQ

The newly renovated Hilton Prague Old Town hotel in Prague

Kensington, London {private residence}

Eaton Square, London
"Luxury private residence with French antiques, silk rugs and bespoke furniture set within elegant mid 19th-century architecture."

The Blue Bar, Berkeley Hotel, London
"This iconic cocktail bar features original Lutyens panelling glamorously reinvented with eponymous blue lacquer."

Earls Court, London {private residence}

Kensington, London {private residence}

Eaton Square, London {private residence}

Nobu Berkeley Street, Mayfair, London
"Chic destination Japanese restaurant and cocktail lounge with interior architecture inspired by natural forms."

Penthouse in Tribeca, Manhattan

Crown Suite at The London West Hollywood

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