Art Leather GIVEAWAY!!!!

I am excited to announce that Andrea from Art Leather wants to give away one of her awesome bracelets.

If you leave a comment between now and next Friday, I will pick a name out of a hat and you can go to Andrea’s etsy store, pick out the bracelet of your choice and she will mail it to you from Belgium. Be sure to leave an email with your comment so I can contact the winner. I believe she will be adding even more colors to choose from next week.


Yet another argument for Quality over Quantity

i am shamelessly reposting this from Dead Fluerette this morning because it resounded so strongly for me.
The original article ran in the Vancouver Sun.
I hope it’s not TOO annoying, but I bolded the parts that spoke to me and reflect my philosophies.


The same way we’ve forgotten how to save our pennies, we’ve forgotten how to invest in our wardrobes. For the past decade and more, we’ve been on a reckless spend-o-rama, maxing out our credit cards with cheap, chic, disposable fast fashion.

But now — with rising concerns about the economy, the environment and worker exploitation in developing countries, not to mention a season of temptingly timeless modern classics — investment dressing is chic again.

Good thing, too. All those cheap Prada knock-offs were not only clogging up the landfills, they were overflowing the closets in our tiny condos, too.

The investment dressing trend is major news all over, according to everyone from the editors of fashion magazines to tastemakers like Holt Renfrew fashion director Barbara Atkin, to the designers themselves and right on up to politicians.

Just last week, England’s House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee released a report that condemned cheap and chic insta-fashion, calling it “costly and socially unacceptable.”

The report pointed out that clothes from retailers like Britain’s uber-popular Primark and Top Shop are so cheap that there is no incentive to repair them, or even to hand them down or recycle them. And that, they say, is just wasteful.

Of course, the Brits aren’t the only ones who have been revelling in a frenzy of cut-price poly blends. International chains like Spain’s Zara and Sweden’s H&M have conquered the retail world by not only knocking off designer duds minutes after they appear on the runway, but completely restocking their stores with brand new fashions every two weeks or so.

That’s right: Where once there were two fashion cycles a year (spring and fall), now there are two a month. When clothes are this cheap, why not?

The thing is, when a dress costs only $20 or a pair of jeans is a mere $15, someone is paying full price for it, even if it isn’t you.

That someone is typically a garment worker in a developing country like, say, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. There, millions of people — most of them women and children — work brutally long hours sewing clothes in squalid situations for less than $10 a week, which may be the legal minimum wage, but it’s not exactly a livable one. That’s all manufacturers can afford to pay, though, if they want to keep prices as low as customers demand.

The other way clothing companies keep costs down is to use cheap fabrics, typically energy-wasteful cotton or non-biodegradable synthetics. Producing these fabrics can create massive amounts of pollution — especially in regions with lax environmental standards.

Admittedly, it can be easy to forget about conditions half a world away when you’re looking at an adorable blouse that costs little more than your morning latte. To bring the harsh reality home, consider this: A closet crammed with cheap, disposable clothes is more expensive than a wardrobe of well-made, long-wearing classics.

It comes down to the cost-per-wear formula. Take the cost of your garment, divide it by the number of times you wear it and that’s what its actual value is.

For instance, a $20 top you wear once has a $20 cost per wear. A $500 jacket you wear every week for a year has a $10 cost per wear. The better value? The $500 jacket. Besides, those inexpensive garments just don’t last — which is why, back in the day, fashion guidebooks always used to say that women on a budget can’t afford to buy cheap clothes. That’s definitely something to consider given the current economic meltdown.

Something else worth considering: One of the reasons we all fell for fast fashion in the first place was to express our personalities through our clothes. Ironically, all we’ve managed to accomplish is looking like everyone else out there.

We’ve also devalued the very designers and labels we’ve been ripping off.

Given all that, it should come as no surprise that there has been a backlash against all this gross over-consumption of clothing. Just as fast food inspired the slow food movement, so has fast fashion inspired a new “slow fashion” movement that encourages shoppers to buy locally produced, ethically made, high-quality clothing that will last more than one season.

In fact, that’s how the world’s most stylish women have always shopped.

French and Italian women don’t buy a lot of fast fashion; instead, they are famous for having a few well-made basics that they update with well-chosen accessories. They look inside North American women’s closets and wonder how on earth we manage to dress ourselves with so much junk. Men don’t typically buy a lot of fast fashion either. Instead, they often expect to get a decade’s wear out of a coat or suit, so it has to be top quality — and that’s why menswear stores offer expensive, beautifully made clothes and complimentary tailoring.

Meanwhile, we women have been dressing ourselves in nasty, flimsy, scratchy, badly made and ill-fitting clothes, all for the sake of being on top of a trend that lasts about two minutes.

Sure, we want to have fun with fashion, and fast fashion can definitely be fun. And it’s great for teens, who are still trying on new styles to learn what suits them best and have small allowances to pay for it in any case. But for the rest of us, shouldn’t we know better by now? Shouldn’t fashion be a bit more luxurious than this? Shouldn’t it make us feel good? Shouldn’t it be, well, nicer?

Luckily for all of us, this fall is all about beautiful, modern, updated classics, the kind of clothes you’ll want to wear for a good, long time. Atkin calls it “stealth wealth,” clothing that is elegant and carefully crafted, but doesn’t shout its pedigree with all-over logos and bling.

And yes, it can be expensive, but maybe it’s time to bring back another outmoded concept: the idea of actually saving up to buy something special instead of racking up more debt on a whim.

This is a great season to begin investing in your wardrobe again. It’s a great season to invest in the building blocks of a timeless wardrobe, in luxurious fabrics, beautiful colours and flattering fits. It’s a great season to invest in creating your own unique style, and not following the same trends everyone else is.

It is, in short, a great season to invest in you.


Art Leather – my latest obsession

I’m in love. This leather jewelry from the gorgeous and talented Andrea Renee Terhaar is my latest lust. I was at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis this past weekend and fell head over heels with this artist’s leather jewelry. Andrea’s business is Art Leather. She’s local to the Twin Cities, but moving to Belgium soon, lucky girl. So you can buy her fabulous jewelry at her etsy shop, which is on hiatus and should be up and running again in a few weeks. Her Etsy shop ships international so be sure to bookmark it and check back later.

Le leather

I’m not sure what has gotten into me where I have resumed outfit posts (two days in a row after six months without nary a one?)
I had leather pants 10 years ago that I wore faithfully and adored and then tossed after I had kids thinking I was too old for them now. Then I went for a drink with the lovely Aesthetic Alterations and she had on gorgeous leather pants. She is younger than me, but it made me wonder if I could pull them off at my age. What sealed the deal on the frigidly cold day we met was when she told me they were probably the warmest thing in her wardrobe. Bingo.

PS In case you are wondering, these were on super secret clearance at the thrift store … love my local thrift store! They are butter soft and don’t appear as if they were ever worn.

bella casa


The motivation for this post was my laptop dying and then coming back to life miraculously after the PC tech said it’s gone, sorry, everything on your computer is lost and you should just throw it in the trash. I spent a night mourning all the pictures, files, writing I had not backed up. The next morning, I decided to give it one more try before I threw it in the dumpster. It still gave me the black screen. I thought, “OK, once more.” This time it rebooted like there had  never been anything wrong here. (Making the sign of the cross!) so I instantly made copies of everything important to me. This, however, was not something that counts as “important” but it was a file that makes me dream and smile, so I decided to post all these pictures on my blog. Enjoy and comment if you are moved to do so. And God, and everyone else, forgive me for not having attribution for these beautiful pictures and beautiful homes. Long live the laptop with 9 lives!!!!



My French Corner and her wonderful pantry!

Blue Velvet

The incomparable Isabella

Do any of you have a color and a fabric that sums you up?

I do.

It has always been, and it will always be, Blue Velvet.

I have owned some version of a navy blue velvet blazer for the past 25 years.

I love the movie Blue Velvet and definitely went through a David Lynch phase. But that’s not why blue velvet speaks to me so poignantly.To me, blue velvet says Paris in the 20s. It says Greenwich Village in the 30s. It says pernod and absinthe. It says Henry and June Miller. It speaks of dimly lit dance halls and bustling cafes filled with artists and writers.  It evokes romance, sensuality and mystery to me.

What fabric and color speaks to you?

Similar to my New Year's Eve Dress

Sofia Coppola


It’s been a few months since I mentioned the incomparable Sofia, so in honor of gearing up to go see her new movie, Somewhere, here ya go:

“You`re considered superficial and silly if you are interested in fashion, but I think you can be substantial and still be interested in frivolity.” – Sofia Coppola


Just Kids

I started this book last night and am blown away.

It is beatifully written and I am becoming obsessed with Robert Mapplethorpe. How did I live this long on earth without truly appreciating this artist?

The Feast of the Seven Fishes

My family lives far away and for six years I have basically not had any of my own family traditions when it comes to the holidays. I am blessed to have wonderful inlaws (about 30 of them) in town and spend holidays with them.

However, this year my husband and I decided to start our own family tradition. In traditional Italian-American style we held The Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. We invited family and friends and ended up with about 25 of us gathered before midnight mass.

Here is the menu:

L ‘Antipasto:
*  Soppresseta salami, smoked gouda, parrano, proscuitto plate
*  Olives
* Jalapeno Artichoke dip and crackers
* Yummy salmon and wasabi dip my friend Lisa made! with crackers
*  Shrimp and cocktail sauce
* Bacon-wrapped scallops

Il Primo
* Red Pepper Crab Bisque

Il Primo/Pasta
* Lobster Ravioli in a Champagne Cream Sauce

Il Secondo
* Cioppino (see below) with garlic bread

Il Dolci
* Assorted cookies
* Cannoli
* Fudge

History of Cioppino. Pronounced: CHUH – PEE – NO. Although it originated in Italy, this Italian seafood stew was made popular in San Francisco. The idea is the fishermen would come in to the wharf at the end of the day with their various catch of the day and each of them wouuld contribute some of their catch into a big pot with marinara sauce and spices.
My version (actually my brother’s recipe) involved a thick sauce made of marinara, spices and two pounds of fish fillets that dissolve into the sauce making it super thick and chunky. On top of that I added crab meat, crab legs, shrimp, mussels, giant scallops and live clams.
You must sop it up with garlic bread for the full effect.
I was so crazy busy in the kitchen (have you ever fed 25 people in three courses?) that I didn’t manage to get any pictures of everyone sitting down eating or of the food even! These photos are of the aftermath!
So please forgive my photos. Blurry and not really capturing the crowd or mood. We had two tables set upstairs and the kids played and caused a wonderful ruckus in our finished basement.

I apologize for the blurry photo but wanted to show the ambience — all candlelit and white Christmas lights. I finally found a use for the dozens of empty Bonne Maman jars I have — candle holders for votives.

PS. The history of the word Cioppino is unclear: from “The name comes either from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect of the port city of Genoa,meaning “to chop” or “chopped” which described the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the days catch, but also some say it can be a corruption of the word” il ciuppin” which means ..little soup. ”
However, I like this definition which says it comes from the San Francisco fishermen urging their colleagues to CHIP IN to the communal stew pot on the docks.
My family has a long history in San Francisco, so I love this stew for many reasons.

It has been called the San Francisco version of the French bouillabaisse.
My nephew, who is visiting from South Carolina came over for leftovers last night (we fed another 8 people with leftovers yesterday) said it is like the Italian version of Gumbo!

Uber Chic Sighting and New Shoes

As you know from my previous post, I’ve been tossing around the idea of clogs. I finally found some by serendipity.

On Christmas Eve I sat by the most amazing chic woman at mass. She was beautiful, poised and chic. And a grandmother. Her hair was cut in a Louise Brooks chic black bob with bangs and she had Cleopatra eyes and a bit of lipstick and barely any wrinkles. She wore a kelly green sweater with a rolled neckline and 3/4 length sleeves that was formfitting and longer. She wore it with a shorter black skirt, black opaque tights and amazingly cool clogs. (See below)

We made small talk waiting for communion and she has daughters my age and one grandchild. She told me she was 60. She was so lovely, holding her husband’s arm and laughing and smiling at all the babies and children around (including my two).

I told her “I want to look like you when I’m 60! Please.” and she said, “So do my daughters!”

Now my husband always, well 99 percent of the time, loves my style and what I wear. The only comments he ever has are on shoes. He has very strong opinions on shoes. And I care what he thinks.
Enough to get rid of shoes he find unflattering. For instance, last week, I had bought some super high (but clunky heeled) Colin Stuart black suede Mary Janes off ebay for a pittance, but he saw them and immediately said he didn’t like them.

So I always try to seek his opinion in this one area of my style. On Christmas Eve, I pointed to the woman’s clogs and whispered “Aren’t they amazing? Do you like those?”
He did. So the hunt began.

Initially, I was worried they would be very expensive — judging by her enormous wedding ring and her fur coat (not the thrift store variety I like to wear!) But I easily found them online and they were very affordable. By the way, I can find ANYTHING online. I should charge to offer this service : ).
So my husband liked them and bought them for me. They should arrive today:

BONUS: Notice they are fur lined (well shearling) so they will keep my feet toasty, as well.

La Bella Figura