A Good Weekend To Read and Celebrate Hard Working Women:




What a weekend this will be!  Amazon has been wonderful to me today!  I received two new, long awaited books delivered to my front door – no hassles, no bothers, no long lines, no gas guzzling, no red lights.   Ah, the beauty of Amazon, my most faithful love.  These days I order almost everything from Amazon, not just books.   I have ordered light bulbs, shoes, a microphone (for the Skirted Roundtable) and even a new laptop!  And if you just  happen to need one – you can order a chandelier from Amazon.   I’m not aware of anything you can’t buy from this fantastic company.   Alas, they make it too easy to spend money.  They keep your credit card on file and you just have to hit –SEND – and it’s delivered, usually the next day.  Amazing.  Just amazing.   I had preordered these two books and had no idea when they would be released,  so it was a complete and delightful surprise that they arrived just in time for this long weekend.    And, at first glance, they are both winners.    The first book is Rachel Ashwell’s – the Queen of slipcovers, pink, turquoise, and crystal –  her newest effort is Shabby Chic Interiors HERE.  The cover is so beautiful,   I could stare at it all day – the pink, the gilt, the settee, the crystal, the peonies.  And  there is Rachel, as always, looking ravishing in her favorite low waisted jeans.   Oh, Rachel, it makes me sad to think about your current financial woes!   How disappointing it all must be for you!   Hopefully, this book will be a new start for her company, certainly she has no place to go but up at this point, it’s all such an awful shame.   The book certainly looks promising – perhaps her best effort since this one:   




The Shabby Chic Home (HERE) is almost ten years old now (!) and it remains a favorite of mine.  I love books that tell the story of one house – from its run down, unattractive beginnings to its perfectly furnished and remodeled finish.   Both this book and the new one are certainly my kind of design books.    If you have never read The Shabby Chic Home, it makes a perfect companion to Rachel’s newest book, which is very similar:  the story of her latest house – room by room, just like her fans like.  The pictures in Shabby Chic Interiors - by Ashwell’s favorite photographer Amy Neunsinger - are gorgeous and worth the price alone. 




I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I’ll just show you a few vignette pictures from Rachel’s newest book Shabby Chic Interiors.   Here, the kitchen with its charming wall mounted faucet – I love this!   Only Rachel can make washing dishes look romantic.



image Pink, green, and blue- Rachel’s palette. 



imageHer bedroom is my favorite room in the new house, the curtains are a luscious silk taffeta in a very, very pale amethyst.  




White marble and English styled faucet.  Notice the old fashioned drain stopper - so Rachel.



imageRachel has a wood cart just like the one in my office!  She calls hers a shoe cart, I call mine a wine bottle cart.  Who’s right I wonder? 





The other book Mr. Amazon Man delivered today was Kathryn Ireland’s second, Creating a Home (HERE.)    I wrote about this book a few months ago HERE when it was available for preorder only.   But, it’s out now and it looks beautiful!   The photography is bright and bold – all of her newest fabrics look tempting.   It’s a book for me, that’s for sure – the story of a dilapidated old ranch in Ojai California that Ireland takes under her wing and transforms into a fantasy country estate – although, in the end -  she couldn’t afford its rehab and had to sell.   My favorite series of pictures are of Ireland, dressed in a ball gown, posed around the swimming pool with her three teenaged sons.   Her middle son decides he is through with the photo shoot and the look on her face as she bribes him, scolds him, pleads with him is priceless!    What those pictures say about the manipulation of the family members during those “fun” totally uncandid photographs speaks volumes.   It made me think of all  that Martha Stewart’s daughter must have had to endure as a child – after all, Martha’s husband bolted from that media storm as soon as he could. 




Some of the pictures have been seen before in a few magazines, but the majority are new.   I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Ireland to sell something she had poured her heart and soul into.  She writes that she bought the ranch thinking she and her boys would live there fulltime – the only way she could truly afford it.   Her boys resisted – they had no wish to move from Santa Monica - dashing all of Ireland’s hopes and dreams. 




The master bedroom suite, separated from the main house.  I love how the three flooring surfaces come together here: tile, wood, and seagrass.


Both Ashwell’s and Ireland’s books are remarkable for this:  they tell the story of two highly independent women, both from England, who came to America on a lark and penniless.   But, through hard work and gritty determination, they both reinvented themselves and became international successes.    Ireland and Ashwell share so much biographic history – it truly is uncanny.   And what better weekend than Labor Day to celebrate what hard work and toil can bring to you – regardless of where you are from, and how little you have to start with.    And though Ashwell is currently suffering through this  economic downturn, I have no doubt that she will rise again, like a Phoenix.   Hopefully, just like Ani DiFranco, another true American success story, says here:


Thirty-Two Flavors:

And god help you if you are an ugly girl
'Course too pretty is also your doom
Cuz everyone harbors a secret hatred
For the prettiest girl in the room
And god help you if you are a phoenix
And you dare to rise up from the ash
A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
While you are just flying past


From our house to yours - I hope you all have a safe and healthy Labor Day Weekend.

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