Kitchen Inspiration :: Organize and Declutter

"If you can organize your kitchen, you can organize your life." -- Louis Parrish

"If you can organize your kitchen, you can organize your life." -- Louis Parrish

I find these words immensely encouraging.  I am determined to organize and remodel my kitchen and henceeverything else will fall into place.  Right?!   Frankly, I amaze myself that I've been able to function with such disorder.  

But there is hope, check out this handy kitchen caddy.  Isn't it fabulous!

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I'm in awe of those who organize with flair. These ideas from Real Simple look doable, even for me.  

One thing missing from my kitchen is a dishwasher.  I generally find I don't need one with our small household, but when I'm canning fruits and veggies in the summer, a dishwasher especially one with a sterilizing function would be nice.  As my kitchen is rather small and awkward, one that fits under under the sink would prove handy.  The dishwasher is a full 24" wide, but it obviously requires that you have a shallower sink.  So, if I head in this
direction I won't be able to have one of those lovely deep farmhouse sinks, but I would eliminate clutter problem. An alternative is a slim 18" model that would fit in the space of one cabinet.  Of course, with this model I'd still have to figure out how to organize the nightmare under the sink....

Costumes :: Snow Queen

Springtime is the land awakening.  The March winds are the morning yawn.  -- Lewis Grizzard 

Springtime is the land awakening.  The March winds are the morning yawn. 
-- Lewis Grizzard 

Last summer during a blistering heat wave, I made a garment inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's story "The Snow Queen."  The top is knit from Lion Brand's Vanna's Glamour®.  It's a lovely yarn to work with and adds this gorgeous shimmer that shifts with the light - perfect for my Snow Queen Dress. Having recently invested in a large die cutter, I decided to put it to the test.  I cut a 100+ cardboard snowflakes which I then embellished.  Naturally, no two snowflakes are the same.  I painted, rubber stamped and colored with pencil and pen. I glued on sequins, wrapped threads and added small sparkling stickers.  The skirt (originally the underskirt to a bridal dress) became an experiment in how far I could push a mixed media approach.  

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I finally got around to getting the work professionally photographed.  Larry Sanders is a genius at photography. He knows exactly how to light my work to capture it at the best possible vantage.  It was a big photo shoot lasting nearly 8 hours as I had so much work to be photographed.  I love being able to step back and take a more neutral look at what I've created.  

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These same snowflakes would make a great garland for the mantel or as ornaments to decorate a Christmas tree. 

Wedding Inspiration :: Paper Wedding Cake

"Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that." --  Michael Leunig 

"Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that." --  Michael Leunig 

I like to give myself thematic challenges when crafting.  Can you imagine the theme for this one?  I lovewedding cake and thought it would be fun to make a paper version.  This is perfect for a bridal shower that could double as storage for all the small momentos that come from a wedding or to have at the wedding itself with a slit at the top for family and friends to give gifts of money.   It was painted white prior to being covered with an embossed cream paper.  I then added Dresden paper trims and ribbon. The final touches were the "icing" roses and strands of pearl beads.  

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Thank you to Larry Sanders of Sanders Visual Images for the great photo of the finished product! 

 

it's in the details: Deng Hao

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 Deng Hao is an extraordinary designer from China.  Her combination of beading with fabrics created on digital fabric printer is inspiring.  Look at those gorgeous details of gothic European stained glass printed on silk!Though this designer is incredibly well-known in Southeast Asia, there is relatively little written about her in English.   Checkout the blog Monster ate my Couture for a bit more information.  

This video will give you a great sense of how Deng Hao's garments move, or I should say - float. 

video love :: on handwork and why we need it

"Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak."  -- Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

A former student recently reconnected and sent me this lovely video.  I had to share it with you. Enjoy.

Renate Hiller speaks beautifully as to why the crafts, in particular the fiber arts, are an integral part of our development as children and how they reflect the very nature of our cosmos.  I am not a spinner, but she has me wanting to pull out my drop spindle.   

Free Pattern :: Pearly Queen Dog Collar made with Buttons

Real friendship, like real poetry, is extremely rare - and precious as a pearl.  --  Tahar Ben Jelloun  

Real friendship, like real poetry, is extremely rare - and precious as a pearl.  --  Tahar Ben Jelloun

 

 Toony joined our family 4 years ago when we adopted her from the local Humane Society.  She is quite a character and brings us endless joy.   As she is no ordinary pooch, she deserves a collar befitting her ladyship.  Inspired by the history of the Pearly
Kings and Queens of London, I made her this pearly collar using buttons from my stash.  It makes a great gift for the canine lover on your gift list.

You will need:

  • dog collar with plastic clip, not buckle, and sized for your pooch
  • assorted pearl buttons
  • Nymo or other beading thread
  • sewing needle (sharp or milliners)
  • matches or lighter
  • scissors

Let's create!

1.     Fit the collar to your dog, adjusting the nylon strap as necessary. 

2.     Cut an arm's length of Nymo and thread your needle.  Tie a knot at the end. Use a match to melt back the tail of the knot.
        This will secure the knot and prevent it from coming undone.

3.     Stitch the buttons along the collar.  As I used a narrow collar made for small dogs, I stitched a single row of dress shirt
        buttons. If you have a Great Dane, your collar's width will be wider and will require 2-3 lines of pearl buttons to cover it.

4.     When you have finished sewing the buttons in place, tie a knot on the back of the collar.  Clip the thread and use a match to  melt back the knot's tail.

 

Handmade Holidays :: Mistletoe Ornament

Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.... -- Dr. Suess from How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more....
-- Dr. Suess from How the Grinch Stole Christmas

A few years ago I began making the majority of my gifts.  I would make jam, knit socks, bead a necklace.  Making your gifts is fun as you think about that loved one during the entire process of making and then have the fun of giving away the fruit of your labor.

This mistletoe ornament will look equally good suspended in the doorway as it does on a tree. It's a great way to make use of the spare white buttons you have rolling around in the bottom of your junk drawer.

You will need:
3" Smoothfoam ball
1 sheet of emerald green craft felt
Christmas green acrylic paint
5-8 white buttons in assorted sizes
scissors
hot glue gun (with dual low and high setting)
6 " 20 20 gauge wire
sponge brush
awl or knitting needle
ruler
1/4" double-faced white satin ribbon
wire cutters

Let's create!

1.     Paint the ball.  Paint the ball green using your sponge brush.  HINT: You may want to stick a toothpick into the ball in order to hold it without getting your fingers covered in paint.  Allow to dry.  Paint a second coat if necessary.

2.     Make leaves:  Cut the felt into 1.5" strips.  Cut pointed ovals.  Don't worry about perfection.  Have you ever seen the exact same leaf twice?  Make approximately 40.  

3.     Punch hole in ball.  Use an awl or a metal knitting needle to punch a hole straight through the ball. Touch up entrance and exit holes with paint if necessary.

4.    Glue leaves around the ball.  With the hot glue gun set to low temperature, glue 4 leaves at the top of the ball.  Continue glueing the leaves into place. Tucking the lower layer under the top layer so that leaves overlap each other. 

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5.    Add the buttons.  Turn your hot glue gun to high temperature and add an assortment of white buttons to the top. 

6.    Make the hanger.  Cut a 6" piece of wire.  Make a spiral at one end with the round nose pliers.  Push the wire through the bottom.  Make a larger spiral at the top.  Cut a 6" piece of ribbon.  Thread it through the large spiral.  Pull the ends even and make an overhand knot.  Trim edges even.

So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.  ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. 
― Virginia WoolfA Room of One's Own

Before I moved, most of my blog writing took place in the dining room.  I had an office, but it was unheated and not air conditioned, so generally uncomfortable for 8-9 months of the year.  I made do, but now that I have a comfy office, I don't know how I lived without it!  I can spread out, leave bills and other paper work in neat little piles. It's my private space, something all my own.  My daughter is even reluctant to enter it which is a serious bonus.  Don't get me wrong, I love my daughter, but she has a knack for interrupting me when I'm deep in thought.   

My office is on the 2nd floor overlooking the backyard.  I call it my treehouse office.  The floor is grass green and the walls sky blue and the view is incredible.  Though it has been three months, I'm still unpacking.  The office is really the last thing for me to do.  I have installed shelves, file cabinets and even bought myself a swanky new desk.  Give me a few weeks and I will show you the finished results.

There are a few things that will make my office perfect, such as a bulletin board.  I want a big bulletin board.  This version by Lia Griffith is brilliant.  The clip board keeps everything tidy and within easy reach while the patterned background adds visual punch.  I don't have the room for the great media center, but I love what she has done.

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I also need a wall calendar with all deadlines noted.  I use Google calendar, but I have to remember to open it.  A wall calendar is so much easier for this visually minded person.

Last but not least, I need a desk lamp.  I have overhead lighting, but a desk lamp would be lovely and dispel the shadows.  My middle-aged eyes sometimes need the turbo boost.  I have one made from a brass candlestick, but it doesn't reach over my writing area.  I'm thinking about this one from IKEA which is solar powered.  Reviews for it are favorable.  A fully charged battery will last 3 hours or so.  Perfect for working in the evening.  I like the yellow.  A sunflower for my treehouse office.

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I wrote this post soon after I moved to St. Louis, so essentially 4 years ago. I think I just figured out what I need to do to declutter my office! Sometimes I forget that I have a plan. I need to do some serious sorting and organizing. Oy! It quickly became a cluttered mess. I need to go back to plan A and soon!

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video love :: Madga Sayeg, installation knit artist, yarn bomber extraordinaire

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. - Steve Jobs

Madga Sayeg.  You may not know her name, but if you're a knitter, I bet you are familiar with at least one of her works of art.  This short video interview by the Wall Street Journal is so inspiring.  I can certainly identify with how she talks about a small idea turnin big, going viral and becoming something outside of yourself.  My Red Thread Project® started as a double dare from a curator to see if I could find a meaningful way to connect a university to the local town.  7,000 handknit hats later with emails from reporters worldwide, full samba bands and teaching over 1,000 children how to knit, the project cease to be an idea and took on its on reality.  In other words, when you have an idea - go for it!

it's in the details :: knitting love

I am loving these denim blues from James Long and , Fall , 2013 collection.  Cool, urban, chic and yet ultimately very wearable.  (Check out the shoes too.  So want a pair.)

Eyelash yarn is another matter. Part of me recoils from the very thought of it, but then again I am oddly attracted to this piece by Thakoon. The sassy fuzz is a striking contrast to this cool, simple vest, also from Thakoon's Fall 2013 ready to wear collection.  

it's in the details :: Pearly Kings and Queens of London

It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.  --  Mother Theresa

It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.  --  Mother Theresa

The Pearly Kings and Queens of London are magnificent.  A tradition started in the 1800's, it continues to this day.
Each Pearly King and Queen fundraise for a particular charity.  While newcomers have joined the movement, for
many it's a tradition that has been passed down through the generations.  Their garments are covered in mother of
pearl buttons, some with as many as 13,000 hand-stitched into place.  There are noticeable symbols, such as the
horseshoe for good luck and the anchor for hope.  

The pearlies have inspired countless costume and fashion designers. If you are a White Stripes fan, you probably
already noticed the pearly influence in the costumes worn Meg and Jack White for their album Icky Thump.

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I love this work by Temperley London for their Spring/Summer, 2010 collection.  While not all the garments are covered in buttons, you can certainly see the graphics connections.

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"Pearly Queen" made by Savile Row tailors for the Victorian and Albert Museum exhibition Power of Makingis a delightful visual pun with the classic profile of young Queen Elizabeth II worked in buttons.

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Video Love :: Primary Colors

"I only use three primaries, so the nice thing is that I can't have favorite colors." -- Chuck Close

I absolutely love this video by Jeff Turick for Sesame Street!  It's a great introduction to color for a children's art class, though trust me, I am going to show it to my college students too.   Take a moment and then pull out your tempera paint and prove to yourself that yellow and blue make green.  

If you are up for the challenge, try this one I gave to my 7-9 year old students last year.  With the addition of white for tinting and black for shading, they each came up with a palette of 100 colors. 
Draw  a grid of 100 2" squares, 10 across and 10 down.   Painting within the lines is optional. 

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Artist Crush :: Colorful Cut Paperwork of Jen Stark


"A color is as strong as the impression it creates."  -- Ivan Albright

I recently came across the work of Jen Stark and am mesmerized by the colorful
sculptures, drawings and videos she creates.  She sucks you into her galaxy with
her masterful use of hypnotic color combinations. Just how does she get the paper
to stack in such a manner?  And how does she ship it without anything shifting?  
Details, details.   For now, I am just going to enjoy and ponder.

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Free Pattern :: The Quick Knit Cowl

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”  -- Elizabeth Zimmermann

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”  -- Elizabeth Zimmermann

This is it.  The ultimate in cozy quick knit gifts.  I tend to measure time to knit required by my Netflix binging, so this took 2.5 episodes of Gilmore Girls to complete, so in real time about 2.5 hours.

I rank this project as beginners. Super easy. Yes, you can do it. Get your yarn now and knit one for everyone on your gift list by the end of your Thanksgiving break! Seriously!

You will need:

2 skeins of Lion Brand Yarns Color Clouds Yarn (55yd /50m)
10.5 knitting needles
Tapestry needle
Tape measure
scissors
3 large buttons
 

Gauge: 1.5 sts to the inch. 

Seed Stitch:
Row 1: *K1, P1* repeat across the row.   
Row 2: Repeat Row 1.
Continue repeating Row 1 and 2

Cast on 13 stitches.  Begin knitting in Seed Stitch pattern. Continue working in Seed stitch for 31 ". 
Last 9 rows:
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: K3,YO1,K3YO1,K3,YO1,K4
Row 4: Purl - remember to purl the YO1. (These make the button holes.)
Row 5-9: Knit.

Finished length will be 34".

Sew in all tails.

Sew buttons into place.  You get different looks based on where you place them. Mine are sewn along one edge, 2" up from the bottom. Be sure button holes line up with the buttons.

Print this pattern

 

Super quick DIY Gift :: Hand-Knit or Crochet a Bookmark

"Handmade presents are scary because they reveal that you have too much free time." -- Douglas Coupland

"Handmade presents are scary because they reveal that you have too much free time." -- Douglas Coupland

Well, Christmas is in less than a month and you need a quick gift.  You like to personalize what you give.  A book is a great gift, but you can make it stellar with a hand-knit or crocheted bookmark. These are super simple, beginner basic and will take less than one hour each.

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To make the knitted one with the button -

You will need: 

Patons Grace Cotton
size 4 knitting needles
tapestry needle
scissors
button
 

Cast on 55 stitches. Work in Seed Stitch. Continue working in seed stitch until you've knitted an inch. Bind off all stitches. Sew in the ends with a knitting needle.  Stitch on a large button. This tagua nut one is from a friend's company - One World Button Supply Co.  Lucky me to have such a friend, she sent me a box of buttons for Christmas one year.  I love each of them.  You may want to block your bookmark or iron it lightly with a steam iron. This will make it look crisper.

The crochet one is nearly as simple:

Patons Grace Cotton
Size B crochet hook.
tapestry needle
scissors

Chain 50.  Turn and work a DC into each chain. *Chain 2 at end of row, Turn and work a DC into each stitch.*  Work from * to * for one more row.  Then turn and work a row of scalloped stitches. Make 1ch, 1sc into first st * Miss skip 1, 7DC into next stitch, skip 1, 1sc into next st ** repeat from * to **.  Cut thread, pull through last loop, sew in all tails.  Again, press or block. 

Snowman Knit Hat

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. " -- John Ruskin

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. " -- John Ruskin

It may be early November, but I am ready for Christmas!  Well, I am trying to get ready.  For me it's all about the anticipation.  With the temperatures having recently dropped, I've been thinking about snow. What fun to wear a Frosty the snowman hat.  The brim is rolled up in the photo. My daughter tends to do her own styling when she models for me. She felt the 21" hat was a bit big on her and wanted a firmer fit. I should have made her the 19" hat.

I've written this pattern to fit many sizes.  I was thinking of making one to her size request so we get a cute Christmas photo! 

Infant (toddler, child/youth, adult)

Sizes are for 16”(18”, 19”, 21”) ( for a really custom fit, go to this pattern)

Gauge: 4sts and 6 rows to the inch.  Check your gauge to have a truly fitting hat.

HINT: If you have too many sts to the inch. Go down  a needle size. If too few, go up a needle size.

This pattern is not written for straights. 

You will need:

1 skein of white worsted yarn approx 130-180yds pending on size – I used Red  Heart in the sample.

#8 16” circular knitting needles

 #8 double point knitting needles

two large black buttons

1smaller orange button

1 yard of red worsted  yarn

tapestry needle

scissors

stitch markers

tape measure

Sewing thread.

Sewing needle.

For Pompom –

Pompom maker (large)

Black worsted yarn

scissors

2x2 rib – *K2,P2*, repeat  around , end with a P2 at stitch marker. Repeat for the next round until you have knit 1 inch.

Cast on 64(72,80,88) stitches onto the circular needles. Join circle. Add stitch marker. Knit in a 2x2 rib for one inch.

Now just knit each round until your crown from beginning to top measures 4”. On this last round at a stitch marker every 8 stitches.

Begin decreases.

Round 1: *Knit to stitch marker. Slip the stitch marker.  K2tog.* Repeat from * to * until you finish the round.

Round 2: Just knit this entire round.

Continue working decreases. Switch to double points when it is too tight to work the decreases on the circular needles.

Continue working the decreases until just 8 stitches remain.

Cut yarn leaving a 6” tail.  Thread tapestry needle with tail. Run tail through the remaining stitches. Cinch it tight.  Sew in all ends.

Make a black pompom.  Sew it onto the hat.

Using sewing needle and thread sew on the buttons.

Using red worsted yarn and the tapestry needle, carefully embroider on the mouth. Don’t pull stitches tight.  Sew in tails.

If you try this, please post a family pic on my Facebook page. I'd love to see it! And as always, if you have a question, feel free to contact me.

To download and print this pattern, click here.

Beginner's Quick Knit Shawl

This is a stock photo by Guilia Bertelli from Unsplash.  The featured Shawl is being blocked since broadcast and then must be photographed. Blogging and Scoping is a process.

This is a stock photo by Guilia Bertelli from Unsplash.  The featured Shawl is being blocked since broadcast and then must be photographed. Blogging and Scoping is a process.

Welcome.  This is the pattern for the shawl featured in my November 7th Scope on Periscope. 

You can catch the taping here on my Youtube channel. 

You will need:

1 skein of worsted yarn
#8 knitting needles (or needles for guage of 4 stitches to the inch).
scissors
Tapestry needle.

This pattern is for a basic bias knit shawl with eyelets running along the edges. 

Cast on 4 stitches.

Knit one row.

*Turn and K2, YO, knit across the rest of the stitches*. Repeat from * to* until you have 5o stitches on the needle and what looks like half a square.  if you want it bigger, that's fine Keep going until the desired width is achieved.

Next row* K1, K2tog YO, K2tog, Knit across the rest of the stitches.* Repeat from * to * until you are back to just 4 stitches.  You will end up back with just 4 stitches.  Bind off final 4 stitches.

These directions are tried and true. The pattern will work up quickly. Consider it a weekend or two weekend project depending on how fast you knit.  I don't recommend trying to speed up the process by using a bulky yarn as the drape won't be fluid.  

For the dishcloth pattern that this is based upon click here.

To download and print this pattern, click here.

it's in the details :: Laser Cut Lace

It's difficult to see why lace should be so expensive; it's mostly holes. -- Mary Little Wilson

It's difficult to see why lace should be so expensive; it's mostly holes. -- Mary Little Wilson

Since my great aunt first taught me tatting, I've been hooked on making lace.  Lately my thoughts have turned to the use of laser technology.  Laser cut fabrics are popping up all over the runway.  I love these  Azzedine Alaia shoes from his Spring 2011 collection.  Last fall's AW collection from Balmain was a stunner.  Laser cut leather combined with beadwork and embroidery.  Be still my heart!

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This leather bag from  BCBGMaxazria is less elaborate, but equally charming.

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Inspired by these fashions, I wanted to know how I could make my own laser-cut fabrics.  Laser Cutting Shapes in Ohio created these fabrics for Vera Wang and  Marchesa.  They also work with artists!

Of course, the technology isn't limited to textiles. Check out this fabulous chair by Marcel Wanders!  I want one!

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It would go well with the table by Imogen Luddy that I covet.

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it's in the details :: Valentino Couture 2013

I am especially grateful that I have been able to keep my own style over the decades, in spite of the many changes that have taken place in the world of fashion and in its business.   --    Photo Credit: Yannis Vlamos

I am especially grateful that I have been able to keep my own style over the decades, in spite
of the many changes that have taken place in the world of fashion and in its business.  

--    Photo Credit: Yannis Vlamos

I like to knit.  I have a degree in weaving.  But what I really love is embroidery, with or without the beads.  This season no one is adding the embroidered flourishes like Valentino's atelier.  The tweed coat with gold work details is swoon worthy.  The contrast of mannish fabric with the girly gold implies that a woman can hold her own in a man's world, but does so on her own terms.  The coat that turns an every day moment into an event.

I wonder who did the embroidery.  The House of Lesage? His company is one of the few who could create these details with such mastery.  I still have a small dream of one day studying at his school and working on such garments.  They are more than fashion, they are breathing works of art.

Photo Credit: Yannis Vlamos

Photo Credit: Yannis Vlamos

The perfection between drape, cut and craftsmanship in these two garments illustrates the necessary relationship between designer and artisan.  The artisan is the one to execute the designer's wishes. One has to have intimate knowledge of the fabric and how the weight of such embroidery will effect
the drape.  

"As couturiers, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli found the idea of the wunderkammer particularly appealing," reported Nicole Phelps for Style.com. "In a cabinet of curiosities, the pieces are very unique, very one-of-a-kind," Piccioli said. "We've tried to make something that is not only special, but also surprising, unexpected." Unexpectedly luxurious, feminine and artful.

Photo Credit: Yannis Vlamos

Photo Credit: Yannis Vlamos