Thursday, April 26, 2012

Before I Die.....

Now wait!  Don't give up on me yet!  Yes, I know that seeing someone

post a "Before I die...." statement is not new. We've all seen it many

times before.  The movie, "Bucket List", was based on this

fill-in-the-blank statement!  After that premier, we were bombarded

with human interest stories on this subject.  Magazines did feature

articles with the tease, "Before I die....", on their front covers

hoping it would entice us to leaf through the pages seeking inspiration  

to create our own personal list.  And perhaps you purchased a blank 

notebook to start writing these ideas down... to make these fleeting 

thoughts more concrete. Make you more accountable.  With full intentions 

to tick them off one by one. Did you do this?  In the privacy of your own 

home, did you join in on this list making?  Did you ever share those 

personal desires?

The difference with this list is that it caught the corner of my eye while 

driving on a side street in a section of Chicago known as Edgewater.

Painted on the side of an unassuming building, with bold, stenciled white  

letters popping off of a black background, was a piece of artwork with a  

life of its own. No museum was housing this only to be viewed by those

who had purchased a ticket. No! This was created by anonymous 

individuals who freely shared their inner voice, sending it out into the 

world. It is vibrant... mysterious... voyeuristic... 

and ALIVE!

You know me~  it was something that made me want to draw closer!

Going around the block, in hopes of finding that coveted parking space,

I was fortunate to find one.  Directly across the street!  Meant to be, 

right?  Getting out of the car, I crossed over and was just mesmerized

by what people had written down.....

                                        ~ get a DIVORCE!!
                                        ~ live with no fear
                                        ~ fall in love

                                    ~ show in Paris Fashion Week
                                    ~ make all the migrants happy
                                    ~ write on a building
                                    ~ be a mother

                                    ~ farm my own land
                                    ~ be loved
                                    ~ climb Mt.Everest

                                       ~ visit every MLB park in America
                                       ~ get a dog
                                       ~ ride the bus
                                       ~ have no regrets
            ~ ensure that everyone I love knows how much they matter

I loved how, initially, I was the only one standing there taking the

time to read this.  However, as people passed by they became 

curious as to what I was looking at.  They took notice and they, too,

became drawn into these private thoughts on public display.  I 

could hear some chuckle while others quietly became thoughtful.

We were all sharing a moment!!  I loved that!!

While driving back to the suburbs, I kept thinking of this wall that had

so many wanting to leave their mark in the world.  Daring to expose

their desires.  If given the chance, how would I fill in the blank?

Ok.  So here goes!  

Before I die I want to live in Europe one more time
Before I die I want to let my inner jock come out and play 
Before I die I want to have a closet full of clothes that fit and coordinate

     And now I'm handing you the piece of chalk to fill in the blank! 

              What would you send out into the world?

                                 ***   ***

After doing some research, I found that New Orleans-based artist, Candy
Chang, was the force behind this.  Other installations have been in cities
such as Brooklyn, San Diego, Amsterdam and London.  Google her name along with Granville Ave.,Chicago to find out more information.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cupcake Love

Just looking at these little beauties make my mouth water!  Are they 

not just sheer perfection?  Imagine your delight when you discover

a blueberry filling inside these vanilla cupcakes iced with creamy

buttercream icing.  Nothing store bought about them!  You know

they were created with love!  As well as the entire shop. Every little

detail creates an ambiance of a treasured home, welcoming all who

walk through the door.  

So what shop is this?  Well, as you know, whenever you visit someplace

you should always ask the locals where to eat.  On that list in Charleston

is Sugar Bakeshop www.sugarbake.comWhat I love about Charleston is 

that tucked amongst the residential streets lined with homes older than 

your grandmother, are little independent businesses... a restaurant, a

haberdashery, a corner grocery store, or a bakery ~ like this!  It took 

some maneuvering to get there as Charleston has a quite a few one way 

streets.  However, the things you discover along the way makes it all worth 

the effort.  With eyes peeled, we sought out 59 1/2 Cannon Street.

                                           There it is!!!!!

Now, I am not willy-nilly about being delighted with EVERY bakeshop. My

standards are pretty high!  I have even been known to politely turn on my

heels and walk out if not impressed... whether it's with the decor or the 

product.  So with that in mind, I opened the door and I have to tell you..

I just melted!!!  I mean, look at these photos! Wouldn't you????

Did you peek inside this vintage display case and notice this??

The antique cake pans set upon the vintage scale still wearing its original

cream-colored paint... and the jello molds in front of it!

The station for fixing your coffee...

.. or tea.  Love that it is kept in a large, gallon-sized jar.  And why 

wouldn't it be.  It's SUN tea.  Notice the hand-written sign to the right?

The blend was mint the day I was there.

Look at those fresh strawberries sliced upon vanilla cake!  I'm sure

I would find a surprise inside.  And the middle one?  They called that

Almond Joy... chocolate cake with coconut topping.  And the last one?

Lemon cake, lemon curd filling with a lemon buttercream frosting.  So

many other choices all with the same flair!  Eye candy that becomes a 

taste pleasing pleasure!

I peeked out the side door and what greeted me was a charming little

garden for the patrons.  A place to leisurely sit with your cupcake, tea

or coffee and soak up some southern hospitality. Ahhhhhhhh......!!!!

As I pay the sweet, young woman behind the counter...

... I decide that Annie deserved a tasty morsel, too.  I reached in the

jar and picked out two to take home.  I know she will be just as

thankful as I am to have been on the receiving end of this new find!

                                        ***    ***
Back home in Chicago, conversation will sometimes go like this....

"How about walking to Sugar for a Peanut Butter cupcake?"

"Sounds good to me!  The weather is just perfect for a walk!"

Silence fills the room as both of us let that scenario swirl around us.

With a sigh, we both turn back to reality.....

                                                 ...... if only!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Conversation....

Let me set the scene....husband and wife enjoying another sunny, warm

day in Old Charleston.  Having read of an interesting shop in a locally 

published magazine, they are in search of its location. Parked on a 

side street, they walk towards King Street ~ the mecca of major

and local retailers.  A street never lacking in activity.

Wife:  "Oh, my gosh!  LOOK!" as she stops dead in her tracks,  halting

her husband's pace by grabbing onto his arm.

Husband: "What?" as he looks around for the antique shop that caught

her eye or the home decor store or the independent clothing boutique

with vintage mannequins dressed in chic outfits.

Wife: "There!" pointing to the garbage bin on the side of the street stuffed

with roll after roll of architectural blueprints. 

        "I need those!" 

Husband:  "No! We're not dragging those out of a garbage bin!."  It's

obvious that his evil twin has emerged from within as he normally 

understands that his wife is just a bit quirky about picking up things

that make no sense to him at all.  

Wife: (shocked)"Why not?"  After all, she is not immune to exhibiting 

what would be odd behavior to most.  Southern ladylike behavior had 

no place in this situation!  This was true treasure and it was going to 

be hers!

Husband:  (exasperated) "We'll get them on the way back to the car."  

He realized that this was going to be a no-win situation so he'd better 

cut to the chase now and placate her.

The wife tries to shake off her fear that it might become an opportunity lost 

and trudges onward.  They turn the corner and there it is.......

... the garbage truck!  

Husband:  (sense of urgency) "Ok... let's go back and get them NOW!"

Obviously, evil twin took a nose dive back into the dark recesses of his

soul and the sweet, kind, lovely man she married, returned.

She picks roll after roll out and passes them off to the person 

standing beside her. With arms extended, he holds them firmly.  He 

even offers the suggestion that they could stash them in his golf bag 

as a means of getting them back home!  Loading them into the trunk

of the car before returning to the reason they were there in the first 

place, the wife swears she hears him mutter under his breath..........

                                      Happy wife..... happy life!
                                           ***      ***
                                You ain't just whistlin' Dixie, dear!!!!

                     Cute way to store the paper until ready for use, don't you think??

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fresh Starts

Like everyone else, I bought into the fact that a fresh start began 

each year on January 1st.  One year had passed with everything in

it banished from mind ~ no longer important.  The slate was wiped clean.

However, as I got older this seemed too commercial for me.  It wasn't 

personal anymore. 

When we started our family, and the boys became school-age, l 

used THAT to mark a new beginning.  With school supply list in hand,

we would join the mass of parents at Target checking off the items

needed as our children threw them in the shopping cart.  And the 

backpack... always a new one to replace the worn one from last 

year.  The first day of school and off they would go on the school

bus.  I closed the front door and would listen to the silence.  Yes,

this was MY fresh start, too.  My new beginning each year.

Now I am an empty nester.  And it truly hit me when my fresh 

start is.  No, I haven't reverted back to New Year's Day.  And I 

can't go back to those days of being a stay-at-home mom... I can 

only wistfully be reminded when I see young families with their

little ones.  No.... my fresh start is today!  Easter Sunday! After all,

it marks a new beginning in so many ways.  Nature has been

awakened with so many glorious flowers and trees in bloom.  And

my faith has told the story of renewal with the resurrection of Christ.

We've been reminded that there is not a finality in death but only the

beginning of so much more.  Ahhhhh.... now THIS is my fresh start!!

The beginning of my new year!

                                  ****     *****
            Happy Easter, Passover and Spring, Everyone!!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

With Eyes Wide Open

                                     cover shot for the program by David Despeaux

So Why Fashion Week in Charleston??
1. New experiences that feed my soul.
2. The tents were right across the street from my son's condo.  I LOVE free places to stay!
3. To have a reason to visit Charleston ~well, do I really need one?  After all, Conde Naste just
    named it the No. 1 city to visit in the country and I agree!  Great food, rich in history, and
    never lacking in something to do.
4. Now, here is the reason that is the starting point for this post ......

Do I have expectations of seeing a runway show with designers the likes

of Dianne Von Furstenburg? Or Marc Jacobs? Or Karl Lagerfeld? No,

definitely not.  Better still, I am going to see creations of up and coming

designers that have the fire in their belly to challenge themselves each

and every time they pick up a bolt of fabric.  Designers that perhaps,

at this stage of their dream, they have a day job but at night they 

come to life creating garments that have swirled around inside their heads.  

They strive for recognition wanting to get to the next level and 

this is one fabulous way to do that.

 I can relate to that creativity. I can relate to feeding a passion that

hasn't dissipated with time but only grown stronger.  After all, it is 

why, once a week, I hole up in my studio writing this blog.  Hoping

that there are people reading it.  I love to write!  When I was little, 

occupied myself at my aunt's house by pounding on the keys of 

this typewriter.  Creating stories that could be completed by the time

our visit was through.  When the lights were turned out at night and I

was tucked in bed, ideas and words that rhymed came to life and 

needed to be written down so that I wouldn't forget them by the time 

morning arrived.  You should have seen them meandering on the paper 

thinking that I had written them down in a straight line!  And I'm  

not limited to just words as the only way express myself.  There's paper, 

both new and old, vintage fabrics, notions from time gone by, blingy

rhinestones, crumpled ribbons and.. and... so much more!!  I have LOTS  

of ideas for things I want to create.  And I am always wired to reach out  

for inspiration.  It comes in so many forms.  Fashion Week is just one!!

                Let's get started in the basics of what I experienced......

                      180 applicants from the eastern seaboard 

                        20 chosen to show their fall/winter line.

                                                 Daniel D.

Each night opened with five minutes of entertainment that strutted

(or, as in one case, break danced) down the runway.  Daniel D. with his

fiddle was awesome!  He rocked it out!

Next came the interview of the designer who would be showing just

half of her line.  If she, or he, won that night they would show the rest

on the finale night.  By the way, this is the young woman whose father

I sat next to.  A designer whose details were prairie-influenced!

Models strutted down the runway with a few having their totally unique

approach to walking.  Music pumping loud.. photographers at the end

of the catwalk... strike a pose, girls!!  Work it!

And the children's designers?  Disregard the guy on his cell, please. 

Because the crowd was going crazy for these little ones!  Notice the

geek chic glasses on this child.  She's given me courage to wear

mine with confidence!  

Self-taught children's clothing designers that describe their style as 

edgy-cute.  Oh... and their label is neve/hawk.

Now, who judged these collections??  Big names, people, like...  

Fern Mallis ~ widely credited as the creator of New York Fashion Week.

To quote her, "I see CFW as an off-Broadway debut where designers

gain the experience and produce a great show before debuting their

collections in bigger markets."  To have her support speaks volumes!

Anne Slowey ~ Elle magazine fashion news director. Huge!!,   

Chris Benz ~ fashion designer from Seattle; showed at Bryant Park,

2007, interned at Marc Jacobs and for the J. Crew design team.

Mychael Knight ~ fashion designer out of Atlanta.. I first saw him on 

Project Runway, Season 3, where he showed in Bryant Park.

Vanessa Lachey ~ married to Nick Lachey (sorry, but I had to say that!)

model, actress and deeply involved in the entertainment industry.

Cynthia Bailey ~ supermodel and on the Real Housewives of Atlanta.

        (Forgive me for omitting names of prominent people there to judge but
               this field is not a common one for me.  Some of the names were not
                              familiar so it's my ignorance to leave them out.)

After a 30 minute break, where I received that lovely chilled glass of

champagne, the winner was announced before an anxious crowd.  Among

other things the winner receives, there is the East Coast title; $10,000

online marketing and promotional package; professional look-book 

images of their 2012 collection; and more recognition next year as 

they will be featured in the 2013 fashion week.  One more step up on

that all important ladder!  

                                   ***    ***

I saw .... I learned .... and I fed the creative being in my soul.  I had

affirmations that self-taught is good... that you sometimes have to 

manage two careers at the same time, making sure that your dream 

doesn't become second banana in life ... that everyone seeks 

inspiration from somewhere or someone.  With eyes wide open, I will

always being looking for that "something" that clicks with me, that

nudges me on, letting me know..  Oh, baby, you've got it!!!!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Styling with Shades of Citrus

Not only was a southern wedding on my agenda for a Charleston visit,

but so was attending Charleston Fashion Week... all five nights!  I was

ready to completely immerse myself in the experience.  After all, go big

or go home, right?  There I was, each night at 7:30 pm, sitting by

myself waiting for the extravaganza to begin.  Let me clarify that....

although I am literally on my own, I am not one who stays that way 

for long.  For instance, on the first night, the gentleman sitting to my

right strikes up a conversation.  Turns out his daughter was selected

as one of the designers to show a portion of her line for the evening!

A delightful man willing to pass the time with someone close to his own

age in a sea of youth.  Another evening, I ended up chatting with a 

young woman who was part of the team producing the affair!  Talk

about getting the inside scoop!  And the finale night? I was the "new

best friend" of a woman sharing the experience with her daughter.  As

a chilled glass of champagne was extended to them, the woman made

sure that I received one, also.  Ahhhhhh..... !!! I ADORE talking to 

"strangers" much to my mother's chagrin when I exhibited this 

penchant as a little girl!

Now, I suppose you are nestled in to your chair ready to view the photos

I took of the models walking down the runway in these fabulously designed 

creations.  Imagine taking your "readers" off  (for those who sport them) 

and you're trying to read a menu.  Blurry, right?  So are my photos!!  

BUT what I am going to comment on are the people in the audience.

Charlestonians do not shy away from fashion or the latest trends.  They 

embrace them wholeheartedly with style and panache.  And the latest

trend for summer... CITRUS COLORS!  Orange... tangerine... persimmon!

To be worn in a myriad ways, such as~

                                         a linen sport coat for men

                           a cocktail dress accented with a feather fascinator

                    sharply contrasted with a black blazer and crisp white shirt.. classic!!!

                               stripes, another trend, and I adore the headband!
                            a simple tailored summer dress .. love the sleeveless cutout!

braces and bow tie accent the short sleeved shirt

                      the shot of orange played down with a worn denim jacket, rolled sleeves

                                strike a pose with this stylish cocktail dress!

chic pairing of a crisp white shirt with persimmon slacks

afraid to take the plunge? just add an accent as this young woman did!

I know that this summer I will be pulling out my orange bag from the  

back of the closet.  The one that has braided straps, fringe tassels and 

receives so many compliments. Casually tossed over my shoulder 

on the way out the door, I will be thinking.... 

Who knew it would be this easy to be stylin'??!!

***   ***
Next up?  The basics of Charleston Fashion Week 2012