Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diana Vreeland, Pink, Birthdays & Other Joyous Things

I've just realised, with a quiet "oh my", that it's been a year since The Library blog began. Talk about blink-and-miss.

I know others are having much more significant birthdays and anniversaries right now (Miss Faux Fuchsia for one, who's speed-blogging to reach a 1000 posts on her blog's third birthday), and a first birthday does feel very un-milestone-ish. For this reason, I thought I'd do something a little different. Instead of celebrating The Library's birthday, I thought I'd celebrate other lovely things instead.

So here, in a kind of 'reverse toast', is an ode to the things The Library loves most – starting with the wonder of Pink Champagne Cake and Caviar Pie and finishing with the beauty of books. I'll go back  into my writing hole now. {Image above via Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2011. The Library loves a bit of Dior.}

Nothing like a little cake to celebrate and whomever invented this needs to be hailed a goddess.
(Units: US | Metric)

18 1/4 ounces white cake mix (must be white to taste champagne)
1/2-3/4 cup pink or white champagne, chilled.
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup champagne
1 tablespoon vanilla
5 -5 1/2 cups additional powdered sugar

Use a box of white cake mix and substitute champagne for all of the liquid called for in the cake mix. So if the box says 3/4 cup water replace with 3/4 cup champagne.  Tint with red food coloring until mixture becomes a soft pink, usually 3 drops is enough. Bake cake as instructed on box. For an elegant layer cake use two round cake pans.
To make the creamy champagne frosting, beat 1 cup softened butter for 30 seconds. Gradually add 4 cups powdered sugar. Beat in 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup champagne, and 1 TB vanilla. Beat in 5-5 1/2 more cups powdered sugar till you can spread it or is consistency you want. Add red coloring till pink color, again slowly add a drop at a time till color you want. Frost completely cooled cake.
Cake is fantastic when refrigerated all night (so the flavours can blend) and served the next day.
{Image via the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, which makes the best Pink Champagne cakes on earth.}

MS DV was more than a fashion guru. She was a bit of a Martha Stewart as well. Who knew? Only in DV's case, everything had a bit of a twist. Like this – Caviar Pie. Have you ever seen anything as delicious? (Pic is mine; using toasties instead.}

1 1/2 cups minced white onion, scallions or green onions
8 large hard-cooked eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces caviar*, 2 or more colors if desired

Spread the onion on paper toweling to drain. Mince the eggs and combine with mayonnaise; set aside. Beat the cream cheese and sour cream together; it should be very smooth.
Lightly coat a 9" round springform pan with butter or cooking spray. Spread the egg mixture evenly over the bottom and sprinkle the onions on top. Drop the cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls atop the onion layer and spread gently with the back of a spoon. (Wet the spoon, if necessary.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Before serving, gently spread the caviar over the cream cheese layer in a decorative design. Use waxed paper or even string to outline your design. Accentuate with chopped chives, scallions or parsley, if appropriate.
Note: It's best to use inexpensive caviar in this recipe, such as Salmon, Whitefish, or Lumpfish. Some less expensive caviars do contain artificial coloring, however rinse the caviar in a strainer and drain on paper toweling before arranging and this will fix the problem.
Serve with good Champagne!

I love this image of Norman Parkinson's from Vogue 1955. We have a copy of the photo (bought in London) framed in our spare room. Seems a long way from Instagram, doesn't it? Long live classic photography.

Every time I think I've fallen for New York, I go to Paris and remember why it's still the most beautiful city in the world. {Source unknown: will try and find.}

Nothing lifts the spirit like colour. This new book, Colour, by Victoria Alexander charts the course of certain colours – including pink (named in the 17th century after a flower). It's beautifully photographed by Victoria, who should be applauded. A fabulous, fabulous read. (Murdoch Books)

Soft leather bags with lined insides, cute clutches, sweet straw numbers...(like this Kate Spade design, above). Nothing makes a woman feel 'put together' like a perfect handbag. Which is why we spend so much on them. I'm hoping someone comes up with a 'Swap' site eventually, so we can just pass em' round when we're finished.

I'm very fortunate to call the gorgeous Savannah designer Jane Coslick my friend. (She's running a tour of Tybee Island's famous homes in December too: see her website for details.) But really, all designers need to be applauded. It's not easy decorating a home so it looks stunning as well as comfortable. Such skill!  (

Look at this. La Reine Victoria. Isn't it sublime? Bet it smells like Heaven, too. {Via BloomandBlossom}

Essential for the soul. If you haven't gone anywhere amazing this year, make 2013 the year to do it. As Diana Vreeland (see below) once said: "A new dress doesn’t get you anywhere: it’s the life you’re living in that dress..." {Book via Assouline}

DV is The Library's unofficial saint. I think she might even be fashion's unofficial saint?
The new film of the magnificent life of this extraordinary magazine editor and museum curator is being eagerly awaiting by DV followers everywhere. I think it's due out soon in the US but it's not out in Australia yet, so in the meantime, I'd like to post this DV treat. It was sent to me by the lovely Janie from the Bumble at Home blog ( She, in turn, received it from one of her worldly and stylish friends. Thank goodness for her friends!

Still one of the best sources of inspiration. I discovered Blair Eadie's beautiful, beautiful blog Atlantic-Pacific the other day. Her style is astonishing. So is her wardrobe budget. (

The Library loves manners, and people who are kind. Humour is also good, but nothing beats a heart of gold. (No pun intended for once.) Slim Paley ( is one of the nicest bloggers in the social media world. And her eye for aesthetics is legendary. Thanks for the promotion of The Library on Twitter Slim! So humbled. Someone give this beautiful woman a book deal.

Has there ever been a more interesting, more ambitious, more extraordinary set of sisters? 
I've been re-reading Nancy Mitford's books in preparation for a visit to Chatsworth next year. Tenuous link, I know, but Debo's next.

Mille from The Laurel Hedge once recommended a superb site called Mandarina UK. Talk about shoe love. I've been an addict ever since. {}

If a flower can be ravishing, then surely peonies fit the description? 
The most beautiful peony garden I've ever seen was Bunny Williams' Litchfield Hills weekender, but apparently Weston's farm in Tasmania is pretty special too. If you're in Tassie, there's a tour this month on November 24. It's a once-a-year event, so very special. Email Karen Wagner on or phone the store 03 62341245) to book. 

So gorgeous. 
Nothing more needs to be said, really. The initials 'HM' pretty much sum this magnificent woman up.

Yves, we miss you.

Another Parisian legend. Do you know, I think Dior's recent collections these past few years might have been better than Chanel's?


I bought this for a pound in London last week. Let's hope Amazon doesn't kill all the wonderful secondhand bookstores of the world.

Blair Eadie again. Just because she's so inspirational with her colours and clothes.

Best wishes to everyone. I hope you all have a lovely week.


  1. Congratulations on a year with The Library! I always enjoy your posts and beautiful images. I just celebrated my third year blogging, and I can't believe that!

    1. Thank you Kathy. So nice to hear from a new reader. I shall have to look at your blog to see what I have to look up to! I'm sure it's beautiful! x

  2. Wow these pink confections are amazing, especially that first dress with the bow! I hope your week is going well!

    1. I know! I think Dior might just be out-doing Chanel at the moment... Thanks for the kind note Sharon. Hope your week is lovely too. xx

  3. Janelle
    Happy 1st anniversary from a (relatively) new reader. Thank you for listing some of your favourites..especially the mention given to Mandarina Shoes. Simply beautiful!

    1. Thanks Melody. Aren't Mandarina Shoes beautiful? So nice to hear from you. x

  4. Congratulations Janelle. A year of beautiful posts each one its own little work of art! xx

    1. Thank you Miss Claire. Can't wait to see you next May! Should be fun.
      BTW, The Garden Tour is almost full. In just 2 days. Astonishing! We may have to run a 2nd one a week later... The best part will be all the lovely people such as yourself, who will make it a memorable occasion. xx

    2. It is going to be great fun! Looking forward to meeting you and everybody else on the tour.

  5. And our world is a better place for having your sharp wit and fine eye so beautifully arranged on your fab blog too.

    A toast of pink bubbles for the Library!! xx

    1. Oh, you're gorgeous! The Library's just trying to live up to your fine eye...
      Kept reading your posts while overseas. Felt sentimental for Australian architecture for some reason, and your blog was "a little slice of home". xx

  6. Congrats on your blogging birthday! What a gorgeous post and oh so pink. Can't wait to make that pink champagne cake and that rose and peony are gorgeous....thinking I might have to investigate the peony tour. Totally agree with you about travel and can happily recount in which exotic locations I have worn some of my favourite dresses AND am also besotted with the Mitfords, have visited all of those who rest in the Swinbrook churchyard. Would adore to go to Chatsworth.....there is an airfield museum nearby which may sway my husband as seriously considering it as a destination! Rx

    1. Thank you Miss Romy. You should do the Peony Tour, even so the rest of us can live vicariously through you! Your photos would be beautiful. I wish I could go but have books to write (ugh), and spent enough time procrastinating and sniffing flowers in our own backyard. You should drag your husband to Chatsworth. Do Highclere Castle too. xx

  7. It can't be a year, it just can't! You've delighted us all with a year of scrumptious posts full of speccie images & even more speccie words. I've taken a long, hard look at myself & thought geez, I'd better lift my game over at The Hedge. As you can see I haven't quite got that game in full swing yet. Happy birthday mate & long may you be a shining star in the BloggieWonderland firmament.
    Millie xx

    1. Millie, YOU'RE the one who inspires US. Gorgeous, gifted, clearly skilled at work, a great mother, a great gardener, an extraordinary eye for architecture... If I had half the talents you do I'd be content. Hugs to you my friend. xx

  8. My congratulations too. The fantastic DV film has already been shown in Melbourne - a one off (or it might have been a two off!) special screening during the recent Melbourne International Festival of Arts. The sighs from the predominantly female audience were extraordinary. It will be back I'm sure in 'a cinema near you'. Jan

    1. Oh how wonderful that you caught it Jan. I'm so glad it was worth seeing. It's produced by her daughter-in-law, isn't it? Can't wait for the release! x

  9. It seems like longer than a year to me - your blog has been so inspiring. I love all your beautiful images (so many of which are yours, which can't be said about many blogs out there), and your sharp eye for trends and collections and themes. This was a lovely post - all the beautiful pinks and the interesting observations. Congratulations on your first year xx (ps, I think that Blair's wardrobe may have been helped along by quite a few gifts given to her by publicists.... she has a large following and does seem to wear quite a lot of the new collections from various US design houses. And who does her photography? I always wonder who it is taking the professional photos so regularly for the fashion bloggers......)

    1. Ah, it all makes sense now. I thought she must have had a trust fund or something? Her shoe collection alone seems to amount more than our monthly mortgage. And as for the photography insight... very clever of you Heidi. In saying that, she does put it all together very well. Her grasp of colour is amazing, especially in New York, which is famous for its love of black.

      Thanks for your lovely thoughts. Have really enjoyed all your posts. They're all so inspiring. Your mother would be really proud. So many of us have a high regard for your spirit, kindness and style. xx

    2. I'm with Heidi-I always wonder the same thing-WHO is taking the multiple photos of bloggers who post all their outfits on a daily basis?! I presume they must either be paying someone, or have incredibly devoted boyfriends or husbands willing to do this.
      As much as I know my husband loves me, I'm just trying to imagine the look on his face if I were to ask him to take photos of my 'outfits' everyday. OK, that thought just gave me my first morning laugh.

  10. Dear Janelle

    Congratulations on The Library's First Birthday! I've loved and admired every post. All so beautiful and so interesting. Love the pink.
    The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate are such fun aren't they! - Nancy was so clever. Have you read Don't Tell Alfred? Fanny's cousin's daughter Northey is supposed to be modelled on Debo.
    Look forward to the Diana Vreeland film. Just today bought Bill Cunningham in New York after reading Slim's post about two weeks ago (to my shame I'd never heard of him). Tonight on Foxtel Studio there was a wonderful and very interesting film on YSL and Pierre Berge, L'Amour Fou. Hope you managed to catch it.

    Make sure you take some time off and do something special to celebrate your blog's first b'day! I suspect you often work too hard.

    With best wishes


    1. No, I haven't read 'Don't Tell Alfred' Pamela. (What a great book title!) What shouldn't the protagonist tell Alfred? The mind boggles.

      How's your potential bestseller coming along?

      Please don't worry about not knowing about Bill Cunningham. I suspect he likes to be very much 'under the radar'. He seems like such a gentleman.

      Would love to see YSL and PB's garden in Morocco one day...


    2. Alfred is Fanny's husband and has been made English Ambassador to France. Fanny doesn't want to worry or upset him - but really Nancy portrays him as a deeply unsympathetic character. There's a lovely subplot where the previous Ambassador's wife (supposed to be modelled on Diana Cooper) can't bear to leave Paris and returns secretly to re- install herself without their knowledge in a part of the huge Residence. But half of Paris comes regularly to call on her. How to get her to leave is one of the many puzzles Fanny has to deal with (and keeping it from Alfred).
      Yes, would also love to see YSL and PB's Moroccan garden. Looks magnificent and loved the quirky painted pots. Didn't they have a magnificent art collection!
      Best wishes, Pamela

    3. Thats a great story ..I must re read them all again

    4. Me too. I'm going to have to buy them as well.

  11. I LOVE Atlantic Pacific blog. She has fab clothes and is fearless with colour. Thanks for the shout out and happy 1st birthday x

  12. You're very welcome. Always happy to give shout-outs to great bloggers. All my favs are on the side. You and Miss Blair Eadie are sartorial twins, I think. Hope you're feeling better. xx

  13. I checked even though I knew in my heart, the first dress by the master Galliano..I know , I know but I'm a lifelong fan.

    Is that Blair Edie with the great haircut?

    As for the cake..scrumptious

    1. Well you would know Miss SMR! You are our resident Dior expert. (That should be a post-grad degree: 'Masters in Dior'.) If you say it's a Galliano-for-Dior number I believe you. He was such a great talent, wasn't he? Before he went off on a tangent...

      Yes, it's Blair Eadie. We're all wowing at her wardrobe.


  14. Well, there I was, just happily reading along thinking what a pretty post and THERE I was! How kind and sweet of you to mention me on YOUR "Birthday"!!
    Your blog is, in a word, FABULOUS Janelle- so chic, artfully edited and with that certain 'Je ne sais quoi' (just like your book)
    Wishing you a Happy FIRST Birthday and many more to come.
    Sending love from rainy, rainy Santa Barbara today
    PS. Off to check out Blair Edie's blog-I've never heard of it so thank you for the rec.
    PPS. Am I going to be terribly jealous of her shoes??!

    1. Thank you Slim. Very touched that you bought one of my books. Do hope it was the latest Paris one. Some of them are quite c--p.

      So sorry about the rain but it will be great for the garden!

      Blair's shoes are gorgeous, but it's her outfits that are to-die-for. I can't imagine how big her wardrobe is to hold them all?


  15. Its really remiss of me not to offer congratulations on your first year. I love your blog!

    1. Oh that's so kind but not necessary. You're a favourite commentator. You write enough lovely notes. You don't need to apologise for anything.



  16. Hello Janelle Congratulations on the anniversary of your lovely blog.
    I am very new but look forward to it very much.I love this particular post the colours are just beautiful and the Dior shots are just so fabulous,the model is just stunning.I am going to make the Champagne cake it looks delicious and any excuse for a drop of Champers.I love the pink shade I actually wore it thirty years ago for my "Going Away Outfit"! on our wedding day. I thought that you were going to have a little rest from the blog as you are so busy!!!! Do you ever sleep? I do hope that you keep up with your wonderful blog it must be a lot of work but I just love it.x Trish

    1. Thanks so much Trish. Something happened to your comment. I'm very sorry. I had to re-post it. But it was really lovely to hear from you. Hope the Champagne cake turns out beautifully! xx

  17. Cripes, I nearly missed this auspicious occasion, Janelle. My warmest congrats on reaching your first blogoversary, my sweet friend. I am so incredibly grateful that you hit 'Create blog' that day, allowing our paths to cross so delightfully. Happy days! J x


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