Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

The Quick Fix

Try as we might, we live in the modern age and that means that oftentimes we come home frazzled and feeling anything but elegant. The easy remedy — the attitude adjuctment hour home game if you will — is the time that we take to prepare dinner. Three hints:

1) Bill Evans. That first glass should be taken with the very elegant strains of Mr. Bill Evans as he tickles, caresses and coaxes the ivories into the sound of a perfectly elegant evening. “My Foolish Heart” makes me feel like I’ve stepped into my penthouse on Park Avenue. Substitute whatever makes you feel incredibly sophisticated. (And please forward me your choices!)

2) Home cooking. I don’t know about you, but preparing a meal is tremendously satisfying for me. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I strive for easy to prepare but delicious menus. Even a simple Caesar salad topped with grilled shrimp and Parmesan Reggiano becomes more than the sum of its parts when you plate it yourself. And it takes about 15 minutes to prepare. That’s fifteen minutes to brain storm, prepare and present the finished project to great applause. When was the last time you had that kind of a project at work? Creatively satisfying and mind-emptying at the same time, preparing dinner is a great way to ease into your night.

3) Set the table or tray. This last was courtesy of An Aesthete’s Lament, who reminded me of the importance of the simplest things in chasing the elegant life. Sadly, I was laying the napkins, silver and wine coaster on the cocktail table so we could watch our movie of the night. This forces the trying-to-unwind-after-a-long-day Mrs. E. to contort herself into a grazing position to get to the plate or to sit on the floor, or eat from her lap. A little linen and something shiny (like my gold-dipped rosemary sprigs above) will go far. Comfort will take it even further. Elegance, after all, is based on comfort.

The cocktail table just won’t do. I am currently in the market for a nice looking pair of trays. Any suggestions?

8 thoughts on “The Quick Fix

  1. Mr. E,
    Tres chic, scour e-bay or 1st dibs and if that does not work try Ikea or Target.
    I picture something metal with a tray top, easy to store.
    Lucite seems to be all the rage now.
    Will keep my eyes wide open.

  2. Thank you Mrs. PvE, please call me E. Sounds silly that. How about “Chris”

    Thanks for keeping an eye (Emma) Peel(ed). Not a big fan of lucite. Or plastic unless it Bakelite — there’s too much of it here with the children and it seems so transitory, poorly made and everlasting (like a gobstopper) all at the same time.

    1st Dibs (a.k.a. 2nd Mortgages) and eBay are great ideas. Target has some bland blonde wood offerings. Thanks, as always!!!

  3. Bill Evans and home cooking…a man after my own heart! Don’t think I can help much. I’m sure there are some great tables in the UK, but the exchange rate and shipping costs are ridiculous!

  4. I always listen to a Kiri te Kanawa album called ‘blue skies’ with the nelson riddle orchestra that has all the classics on it by porter, berlin, etc. done terribly well with a nice mellow and sophisticated sound.

    I have a beautiful tray from the victoria hagan collection at target (white lacquer with fake leather) – plus it’s really big! I am not sure if they still offer it though.

  5. BtC, great choice, KtK has a beautiful voice! The tray sounds very nice. I’ll check as I have to get a new duvet cover anyway and Target has some good deals. Thanks!

    AtB, good point. That’s what happened to the museum quality art deco living room suite we found in London….

  6. What about a pair of nice wicker trays? Finely woven, of course. Leather handles would be nice too, but that sounds a little Hermès to me. Oh the other hand, you could do no better than the 21 inch by 14 inch wicker tray ($32.90) I just spotted online, where I went in search of a solution for you and Mrs E … http://www.hofcraft.com/wicker.htm … you can thank me later …

  7. Aesthete! Thank you. And here I’ve been scouring eBay for sterling… yikes. I like these (with woven handles), but I’m hard on wicker. (And the linen tray liner sounds perfect.) Target has masses of “modern,” choices too. Although none so authentic (for lack of a better term.. honest maybe?) Read: plastic.

    I’m torn, as usual, between the flashier and the simpler. Hermès or these. Faux croc? Faux has such an awful ring. Yes, honest and well-done wins every time.

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