Holidays Are Coming

December 17, 2017 • Food and DrinkHome Decor

just popping in quickly between end of year deadlines, winter colds, weekend brunches and gift wrapping to share this table setting i created for a recent dinner with friends. what is it about this time of year that it always seems to fly by so quickly? i spend october and november in anticipation of my favorite month of the year – planning visits to christmas markets, date nights with the husband to go gift shopping, trips into the hills to go sleighing with juliet… and it always seems like we’ll have so much time to do everything multiple times, but in the end we’re lucky if we’re able to check off half of our to do list.

it’s so easy to rush through life – always in anticipation of things to come – and so much harder to live in the here and now. i’m trying really hard to appreciate the moments as i experience them, especially now that i’m seeing so many things from a new perspective through the eyes of juliet. having a kid really makes this period so much more intense and enjoyable, but i do miss some things from our old life as a couple. dinners with friends are definitely on top of that list – we used to host people all the time, and it still is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

so this year we consciously made the decision to host a few pre-christmas dinner parties to spend some time with dear friends and start enjoying the holiday season extra early. we tried to keep the menus super simple so we (okay, okay, my husband) didn’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen and we could really enjoy sitting down, talking and laughing with our friends. we don’t exactly live nearby most of them – our belgian friends need to plan a weekend and take a plane to get here, and even our friends in switzerland have to take the long drive from geneva up to our place in the hills of the jura.

so to make it worth their while, i did make an effort to create really nice table settings for each dinner. i feel like nice tableware, fresh greenery and lots of candles can make even the simplest meal feel that much more luxurious. and we really do enjoy spoiling guests in every way we can – putting drinks in their hands the minute they arrive, putting out little bites before dinner, refreshing their glass of cold sparkling water before they have to ask… leaving them wanting for nothing is such a nice way to show people you care about them. what are your favorite ways to make dinner at home with friends or family feel extra festive?

photos by stephanie duval • post created in collaboration with BRU WATER, our family’s favorite belgian sparkling water • table linen from H&M HOME • tableware from POMAX

i only realized fairly late in life that not everyone thinks pajamas are essential to leading a good life. it’s simply one of those things that i have never questioned once – as a kid, as a teenager, as an adult and now as a mom – it’s just a given that at any point in time i have a few nightwear options to choose from, adapted to the season and different from what i use as ‘home’ or lounge wear. i blame my mom and grandmother, who ran a lingerie boutique together while i was little, and in fact my mom has worked in the lingerie and nightwear business in some capacity for most of her life. when it comes to flannels and undies, i’ve always been pretty spoiled.

so i guess i must have been about five years old when i first learned about this brand called PLUTO. in nightwear terms, it was what dreams are made of – elegant, beautiful and with wonderful little details. i set it in my mind that when i would be an adult, i’d only wear pluto around the house. then as a journalist in my twenties at a press conference, i met the daughter of the founder of the brand, an kluft, who led the family business into a new era. i looked at the company in an entirely different light now, never having fully realized or appreciated how special it was that pluto was in fact belgian.

fast forward a couple of years, to when an kluft and aline walther launched PLUTO ON THE MOON. imagine pluto as the grown up, elegant sister who has her life entirely together – then pluto on the moon is the quirky and opinionated little sister who enjoys life to the fullest and explores every opportunity on her path. she’s adventurous, a little bohemian but still making things happen. needless to say, i fell head over heels for the new brand, with which i identified even more than with pluto. during my first pregnancy i completely relied on pluto on the moon to feel pretty and comfortable in and out of the house, and the items i started wearing then are still part of my everyday casual wardrobe.

but enough about the clothes – you’ll need to check them out for yourself! what i really wanted to do was give you a little insight into the brains and lives of the ladies behind the brand, an and aline. together they are the perfect combination of business and creativity, and seeing them work together in their atelier – exchanging banter and dead honest opinions – was a treat. i hope their views on life will provide a as much inspiration to you as they do to me.

who has been a mentor to you throughout your life or professional career, and how?

aline – three amazing, strong women very close to me, who all worked in the fashion industry. my grandmother had two beautiful boutiques; she inspired me to be independent and strong, to create my own business within my own environment. she is the best dressed woman i know! my mother passed on to me a passion for clothing; at a very young age she taught me the wonders of pattern cutting & sewing. working on something together with her was magical: an intimate playtime. she still helps me today – thanks mom! and lastly my mom’s younger sister is fun, active, modern; she worked for maxmara for a while and was always traveling to milan, paris… she gave me the bug that got me interested in the fashion industry.
an – life, human beings, the world… they are all my mentors. opening my eyes and ears has given me most insights, very often at unexpected moments. careful listening, asking and understanding the what and the why are always very important to me.

what has been a challenge you didn’t think you could overcome, but conquered anyway?

an – i can remember difficult, stressful, painful situations but i always believed there was a solution. the most difficult part to me is that it is not always clear where and how it will end. but step by step, most difficult situations can be taken care of.
aline – oh i love a good challenge! i’m a bit of a hothead at that level! my father always told me: si tu le veux, tu le peux! so i just go… sometimes things don’t work out. it can be painful, but you learn a lot from it.

what is the most important thing you’ve learned in your life so far?

aline – to be true to yourself. as a freelancer you ‘re often asked to step into a different world. it’s confusing sometimes, but i learned to create the environment that fits me, learned to listen to my gut and follow my instincts.
an – concerning my professional life: that taking time to think things through and discuss them with the right people helps in clarifying and very often gives me great ideas. on a more personal level i know i can feel at home and good as long as i am surrounded by the people i love.

what are you trying to teach yourself right now?

an – growing vegetables in my kitchen garden. running twice a week. living a more healthy life.
aline – mindfulness – fancy word… i know! i just live a bit too fast, so i want to try to be more in my body and less in my head.

if you could only give one piece of advice to anyone, what would it be?

aline – do something real: something you really believe in, something good, something that will last.
an – think positive, it makes life so much nicer.

what would you like to be remembered for?

an – i find it more important to live in the here and now.
aline – i don’t want to be as pretentious to think i will be remembered for something i created or did. moments with the ones i love are what i hope will be cherished.

photos by stephanie duval


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my name is stephanie duval, and i am a storyteller. this blog is where i share my favorite stories about design, travel, fashion and the nice things in life.


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