I have a few last minute book suggestions for gift giving or actually for gifting to yourself for Christmas or the new year. I’ve broken it down into categories – Fashion / Style, Food, and Decorating - my three main interests. Obviously I love food because of this blog. With regard to the fashion business, my first career centered around it, plus I’ve always been interested in learning more about how to look good and take better care of myself and I follow many fashion blogs. Remodeling and redecorating houses has been a big part of our lives. During our marriage, we’ve redone and redecorating more than a dozen homes. Here are my current favorite books in Fashion / Style, Food, and Decorating.
Forever Chic – A Frenchwoman’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance by Tish Jett
My friend Tish Jett has written a fabulous, must-have book – Forever Chic – A Frenchwoman’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance. I’ve been a long time reader of her blog A femme d’un Certain Age, which is dedicated to women 40ish to whateverish and supplies us with every detail about how to live a beautiful life with style, elegance, discipline, simplicity and generosity – but of course with a French twist.
Now with Tish’s book Forever Chic you will learn the secrets that Frenchwomen have known for so long, passed down from their mothers and grandmothers, about how to build their foundation and polish their image. Their beauty regimes are simple and you’ll learn them all. They spend serious money on their hair, which they consider an essential investment, thus no bad hair days and one fewer concern. Perhaps the fountain of youth is really a great haircut and the perfect little black dress. You’ll find that not only their physical aspects, their hair, their makeup, clothes, and posture keep them young, but also the intellectual endeavors they pursue. They are voracious readers, museum-goers, international film buffs and conversational masters.
As much as you might think that Frenchwomen are slaves to fashion, they are not. But they are not oblivious to it either. They like an invigorating shot of the new and the now, but never overdose on it. They’ve built their wardrobe on a foundation of neutrals and add spice with a few magical, highly personal finds. Color is usually in accessories and scarves and they collect them like a curator would fine objects.
Chapter by chapter, you’ll see exactly how the Frenchwomen do what they do so well. Instead of dreading birthdays, they celebrate a life well lead. From face to feet, detail by detail, secret by secret, everything is revealed about how Frenchwomen approach the care and maintenance of their skin, and once again, how they take pleasure in the process. You’’ learn how to start your wardrobe from scratch, how to get your house in order, and how to always look your best.
Forever Chic has been runaway success and is temporarily out of stock at Amazon. However they will ship it to you the moment it arrives or it is available in a Kindle edition for your pads or readers, which you can receive instantly. The good news is that Barnes & Noble currently has Forever Chic in stock and they also have a Nook version. You can keep up with Forever Chic on Facebook and also be sure to subscribe to Tish’s blog - A Femme d’un Certain Age.
Forever Chic is a must-have for all women 40 to whateverish. For those of you who haven’t reached those numbers and weren’t lucky enough to have a French mother or grandmother to pass down their secrets to you, but want to learn them for yourself so you can pass down to your own girls, you’ll definitely want a copy for yourself too.
My Beverly Hills Kitchen by Alex Hitz
When I buy a cookbook, I look for more than recipes. I want a good story to go with the recipes and you will definitely find them in Alex Hitz’s My Beverly Hills Kitchen. Alex Hitz was brought up in Atlanta into a genteel world of entertaining. His mother Caroline had been educated in Europe and grew up in a house where none of the women knew how to cook, or wanted to. She taught herself and in turn, became an exquisite teacher. “Miss Tastebuds,” as Alex says she was often called, “caused” lots of good things to happen in their kitchen. Caroline loved all things French and purchased an old eighteenth-century manor house in the Dordogue region of France. Family vacations were spent traveling in Europe. She gave their family cook Dorothy the benefit of her high standards and unerring taste, making the food in Alex’s home some of the very best in the South.
Alex’s idea of southern food is Charleston and New Orleans food, a new punched up version of plantation cuisine, overlaid with sophisticated sensibilities absorbed from Paris and his time in Europe. Alex enrolled in Le Cordon Blue in Paris after college and later was a partner in a successful Atlanta restaurant, which introduced him to the daily life in the food business. When he moved to California from New York, he introduced his world of sophisticated French inspired southern food to his Beverly Hills neighbors. An heir to a Coca-Cola fortune, Alex felt comfortable around the famous and many of their recipes are in his cookbook - including designer Bill Blass’s Sour Cream Soufflé and socialite Nan Kempner’s Bacon Sticks.
But don’t think for a minute this cookbook is all about celebrity recipes. Not in the least. There’s Alex’s recipe for Chicken Chausser, a very decidedly French dish which I love, a Red Pepper Tart, which is a gorgeous quiche that is cut into pieces and served as an easy hors d’oeuvre, and a classic Cordon Bleu style recipe for Pork Fillets with Prunes. Plus Alex shares his secrets to entertaining in style, and I do mean style, with gorgeous place settings for scads of bone china and his family’s elaborate silver service, all while guiding you through the recipes with his charming stories and easy to follow instructions.
For more about Alex, visit his website My Beverly Hills Cookbook, his column in House Beautiful, and Alex Hitz on Facebook. At Amazon there is an extensive “look inside” his cookbook. You’ll come away drawn to his style and personality and immediately want to throw your own big dinner party.
500 Kitchen Ideas - Style, Function & Charm from Country Living
This little book is my go-to for decorating kitchens. 500 Kitchen Ideas is where I get a great deal of inspiration by flipping through its more than 700 pages packed into this little book with 500 new and exciting ways to transform the heart of your home – the kitchen. It’s packed with tons of fabulous photos of warm and inviting rooms that give you great ideas that deal with color, pattern, floors, walls, storage, appliances, sinks and work surfaces, plus windows and lighting and charming accessories for your kitchen. While it doesn’t cover kitchen remodels, it will certainly guide you in the right direction on the various kitchen styles, their functions, and of course how to make them charming. Highly recommended.
Cote de Texas – French Design on the Texas Coast
The last is not a book, but a blog. As much as I love to decorate, I have yet to find a book that covers everything I’m looking for. Then I stumbled upon decorator Joni Webb’s amazing blog Cote de Texas and it’s as close as I’ve ever gotten to a perfect decorating book and all it takes it a subscription to find the answers to all of your decorating needs.
Here’s an example of Joni’s style in a post where she remodeled a friend’s house in the West University section of Houston on Albans near her own home, link here. It’s all about slipcovers and sea grass rugs, a look I personally adore and have incorporated into our own home. Of course you might guess that her post on Kitchens 101 - Elements to Copy, would be one of my favorites too, link here.
I’m crazy about her series “Ask Miss Cote de Texas” where readers have an opportunity to pose questions to Joni. One of my favorites is a question I’ve asked myself many times through the years - “How do you find the perfect house?” link here. In another of the same series, Joni guided one of her readers through a kitchen remodel inspired by the reader’s visit to a chic French hotel, link here.
Joni Webb’s Cote de Texas is where I draw inspiration and get my very best ideas. Cote de Texas beats any decorating book I've ever found. Subscribe or follow here.
Disclosure: The opinions here are my own and I did not receive any of these books, nor was I solicited to give an endorsement in any form or fashion.
Meakin and I are avid readers and have been enjoying fiction novels lately. We’ve read almost all of David Baldacci’s books. Meakin is currently reading Vince Flynn’s books and I am devouring all of the Stone Barrington / Holly Barker series written by Stuart Woods. Do you enjoy reading and who are some of your favorite authors?
This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, and Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper.