Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tartan Time

Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2008 Print Campaign

Have you seen the new Dolce & Gabbana print ads that have hit the fall fashion magazines? I love the mix of tartan plaids and the Grace Kelly-style silk scarves in the collection. The look is so British!

I have always loved classic British style so I love this tartan revival in the fashion world! I was also married in Scotland so I just happen to have a few tartan scarves already in my closet!

Here are a few photos to inspire you to mix in some tartan plaids and silk scarves into your fall wardrobe.

D & G Fall 2008 Runway Collection
Kilt inspired Skirt and Grace Kelly-style scarf.

D & G Fall 2008 Runway Collection
Whoever said "you can't mix plaids"?

Real Scottish style from Lochcarron!

Lochcarron of Scotland

My husband and I were married in Duns Castle in Duns, Scotland in 2001. Duns is a small town in the Scottish Borders. While driving around the Borders we found the Lochcarron Mill Shop in Selkirk. My husband did not wear a Scottish kilt at our wedding but he did wear a Scottish Locharron tartan tie!

Lochcarran is the world's leading tartan manufacturer. They are the source for many fashion designers including Ralph Lauren. Their fabrics and tartans appear on major catwalks all around the world. There is a good chance that they are the supplier for the D & G tartans.

I stocked up on some gorgeous Locharron tartan scarves at the Lochcarron mill shop. I can't wait to pull them out and be fashionable this fall in tartan!

How about you...will you be wearing tartan?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fall 2008 Knit Scarf Report

Scarf Style throwback to the 1970's!

Attention all knitters. Knit scarves are all the rage for the Fall 2008 season. Plan to buy more yarn this year because the skinny scarf is gone. This fall season scarves are longer and wider.

Here are some photos from the Fall 2008 Runway Collections to inspire your knitting projects. Notice there is a bit of a throwback to the glam and hippie looks of the 1970's and 1980's this season. Some knitters, who have been knitting long enough, may already have some older vintage patterns to knit up these fashion trendy scarves for fall.

Retro Brown is Back!

1980's Glam Mix Scarf

1970's Revival in Grey

I've been collecting vintage knitting patterns so I already have a pattern in mind to knit a longer scarf for fall. How about you?
Will you follow the trend and knit a longer and wider scarf for fall?

Audry Tautou, Chanel No. 5 & Coco

French Actress Audry Tautou

French actress Audry Tautou is the new Chanel Face.
She was the adorable, shy Paris cafe waitress in the hit 2001
French movie Amelie.

Nicole Kidman has been replace by Audrey Tautou for the new fragrance campaign for Chanel No. 5. The glossy magazine and television ads should be released in 2009.

The World's Most Famous Perfume

Ever wonder how Chanel No. 5 got it's name?

Coco Chanel commissioned, chemist by trade/perfumer, Ernest Beaux (1881-1961) to make six abstract perfumes with "a woman's scent that smells like a woman". Each was labeled numerically No. 1 through No. 6. Coco liked No. 5 the best. Beaux asked Coco what she would call the fragrance and she replied "number 5". (5 was also her lucky number.)

Reportedly superstitious, she debuted her new perfume Chanel No. 5 on the fifth day of the fifth month on May 5, 1921. The rest is history!

Her superstitions paid off. Chanel No. 5 is the world's most famous perfume!

Coco Before Chanel

Audrey has another famous Chanel part, too. She is playing Coco Chanel, as a young woman, in the French feature length film Coco Before Chanel. Directed by Anne Fontaine. Expected release 2008/2009. The movie is based on Coco's life in her early years before she became the legendary fashion designer.  I can't wait to see it!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Coco Chanel Story on Lifetime Television

Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel

Shirley MacLaine as Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel

Don't you just love this photo of Shirley MacLaine as Coco Chanel? Notice her signature Chanel style with her classic tweed jacket, layers of pearls and her Camellia flower pin. The photo looks like Rue Cambon (Coco's apartment) to me where the film crew was probably filming on the streets of Paris.

Last night I saw a commercial for this upcoming Lifetime Television 2-part miniseries Coco Chanel.

It's the rags to riches story about the life story of legendary fashion designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. Shirly MacLaine is portraying Chanel in her later years. It airs in September so watch your local listings. I can't wait!

How did Mademoiselle Chanel become Coco?

Wondering how Ms. Chanel acquired her nickname Coco? One of her first stints (1905-1908) was as a cafe cabaret singer. One story is while singing Who's seen Coco in the Trocadero, the soldier patrons nicknamed her Coco and it stuck. She also began sewing cabaret stage costumes and that led to a career in millinery and fashion in Paris.

She was certainly a woman ahead of her time! There is so much more to her story and her life....I can't wait to find out more about Coco Chanel ! How about you?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Anthropologie Vintage-Pretty Sweaters

Daisy Day Vest
Speckled Knit with a Trio of Daisy Flowers

Okay, I am in trouble. I live only 12 miles away from the new Fountains Shopping Center in Roseville, CA where the new Anthropologie store just opened!

I went shopping in Roseville yesterday. I hit the big Nordstrom Anniversary sale . Can you believe, I left Nordstrom empty handed? I didn't leave Anthropologie empty handed though!

I couldn't wait to go back to the new Fountains shopping center. Not all of the stores are open there yet. I noticed though when I went to the Anthropologie grand opening party that Sur La Table was about to open. On my list was to check out Sur La Tab but (truth be known) I actually couldn't wait to get back to Anthropologie!

Stepping into an Anthropologie store just makes you feel good! It is a visual feast for the eyes...everywhere you turn and look there are pretty things. There is such a groovy vintage vibe with the hip music playing and the aromatherapy candles burning. I love this store!

I adore the pretty vintage-inspired sweaters the most at Anthropologie. I suppose that is because I am a knitter. Their designs inspire me to get creative and add pretty embellishments to garments already in my closet. I am also inspired to add vintage inspired appliques and details to knits that I make in the future.

Here are some pretty sweater knits that I can't help but adore!

Japonica Cardigan

Would this not be adorable with a black and white polka dot skirt for Paris!

Sweet Blossoms in the Tea Cup Pocket!

I love tea so I naturally love this tea cup pocket detail!

Cardigan with Felted Flowers

This design inspires me
for all those thrift store wool sweaters I have felted.

Felted Flowers Applique

I am going to give felted flower appliques a try!
I will probably use this idea on a pre-made made sweater
or a thrift store wool sweater felted.

Novella Shrug

Ooh, la, la! Okay, this one I could not resist to buy!
Gorgeous peacock blue wool shrug.
Reminds me of vintage Parisian scroll wallpaper.
I had to have this for my next trip to Paris!

Fountains at Roseville
1182 Roseville Parkway
Roseville, CA 95678
(916) 789-9100

Are you as inspired as me at Anthropologie?

Let me know what inspires you?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Perfumeria Gal Madrid

Vaselina Fraganced Balm
by Perfumeria Gal

Perfumeria Gal lip balms are on my favorites list!

Thanks to actress, Catherine Zeta Jones I discovered Perfumeria Gal lip balms. Years ago, I read in In Style magazine that she loves these lip balms from Spain. The pretty Art Nouveau tins really caught my eye. I finally found these adorable tins while shopping in a boutique in the San Francisco Bay Area. They have been on my favorites list ever since!

The fragranced balm is a petroleum (vaseline) mix with an SPF 4 and it even says vaselina on the tin. This is not just your ordinary vaseline though! I think it's the parafin that makes the difference in how nicely it feels and glides on...or maybe it's the delicious fragrance that makes them so special. Either way it's a wonderful European product!

My favorite fragrances are Violette and Red Currant. It also comes in Apple, Orange, Strawberry, Peach and Vanilla.

If you ever spot these adorable tins grab a few because they are rather hard to find. I can't go a day or night without using mine. I love putting it over lipstick as a gloss and I almost always put some on before I go to bed at night.

Let me know which Perfumeria Gal fragrance is your favorite!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Celebrate Bastille Day!

Celebrate Bastille Day!

We Americans have the 4th of July. The French have Bastille Day. Bastille Day is the French national holiday that commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789.

The Bastille was the King's prison in Paris and a symbol to the French people of the absolute power of the King Louis 16th's rule (Marie Antoinette's husband). The storming of the prison by the peasant class was a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression for all the French people. This day in history marks the beginning of the French Revolution, the birth of the Republic and a new government.

Place de la Bastille
(early 1900's vintage photograph)

The Place de la Bastille is a monument where the Bastille prison once stood. (The Bastille prison was demolished two days after the outraged Parisians stormed it in 1789.)

In the center is the column called the Colonne de Juillet (July column) honors the Parisians who died during the July 1830 Revolution. At the top of the column stands the cherub like figure of the Genie de la Liberte (The Spirit of Liberty).

Today in Paris there will be a grand military parade down the Champs Elysees. There will be festivals celebrating all over France. There will even be French celebrations in major cities across America.

You can celebrate, too! You could cook a French inspired meal...or dine out at your favorite French cafe. Easier yet....

pop open a great bottle of French wine or champagne
and toast "Vive la France"!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Chanel Summer Rainbow

Chanel croc handbags come in a rainbow of colors!

Ooh, la, la. I love these Chanel summer handbags!

Perfect for a night out in Paris!

I want the turquoise one.

Which Chanel do you want?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Le Palais Des The's

Le Palais Des The's, Paris

I used to be an English "tea snob". For years, I only drank English loose tea (OK a tea bag, now and then). Once my husband and I started travelling to the UK, I fell in love with the tradition of English tea and tea rooms. I loved finding new brands and new flavors of black teas whenever we travelled to England.

Well, my tea story changed after my second trip to Paris. On my first trip (my honeymoon) I stayed loyal to my English heritage and was not tempted by all the pretty tea caddies I saw in the Parisian department stores. After all, wasn't it the English that popularized tea? Well, their Duchess of Bedford may have invented their famous afternoon tea time but I discovered that in 1636, it was fashionable to drink tea in Paris, 22 years before tea even came to England.

I fell in love with French tea at a branch of Mariage Freres, in Paris. To this day, they are still my favorite tea purveyor in the entire world! They offer over 500 of the world's finest teas. (Oui, a future post.) On my last trip to Paris though, I decided to check out another famous French tea company, Le Palais Des The's, in the 3rd arrondisement of Paris.

If you are thinking you may have heard of Le Palais Des The's, you are probably right! Oprah Winfrey is a big fan of this tea company. Their tea sampler has made her "O" list. I am a big fan now, too!

Going into Le Palais Des The's was totally a different experience than stepping into an "old fashioned" Parisian Mariage Freres tea store. Le Palais Des The's store has a bright Chinese red exterior along with a very modern interior. There was a definite "hip" vibe with it's young Parisian staff.

I made Le Palais Des The's my destination for my the's vert (green tea) shopping list. I purchased Chinese Gunpowder Tea, Jasmin, Sencha Superieur and Fleur de Geisha from Japon (Japan). The tea clerk measured my tea and put them in modern, shiny silver packets with a vacuum seal. This wonderful packet keeps your tea fresh and safe from air and light.

I hope I have enticed you to try their wonderful teas. I know you won't be disappointed.

And, if you can't get to Paris you can shop online
(in your jammies with a cup of tea) at: Palais des Thes.

Chinese Gunpowder Tea

Chinese Gunpowder Tea

I had never heard of Chinese Gunpowder tea until I experienced Moroccan mint tea in London. After London we took the Euro Star over to Paris. I decided to buy my Chinese Gunpowder tea in Paris at Le Palais Des The's (the' is tea in French). They are famous for the finest teas imported from all over the world.

Chinese Gunpowder tea is a green tea from the Zhejiang Province in China. It's production dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). In Chinese it is called Zhu Cha. In English it is called Gunpowder because the green leaf is tightly rolled into a tiny pellet which explodes into a long leaf steeped in hot water.

It is popular world wide. It is a staple in North Africa for the traditional preparation of Moroccan mint tea.

Buying: A tip when buying Chinese Gunpowder tea is to look for shiny pellets. This indicates that the tea is fresh.

Brewing: Steep 4 minutes.

Try the wonderful teas at Le Palais Des The's and let me know what you think!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Moroccan Mint Tea at the Mo Tearoom

Moroccan Mint Tea

I love having tea in England. No matter where I am travelling in England, you can be sure I am checking out that town's tea rooms! On our last London trip (2006) I read about a North African tea room where they serve Moroccan Mint Tea. I wanted to experience it made properly so I could later make it at home.
So one day during a shopping break we ventured over to the Mo Tearoom just off Regent Street. It is part of a wonderful exotic restaurant called MoMo's. The inside is decorated to look like a Moroccan souk (open air marketplace) with ornate lanterns, exotic carpets, low stools and brass tables. I was ready to experience tea in a new way!

Making Mint Tea for the Silver Pot

I ordered a pot of mint tea. Our server came back with an ornate traditional silver Moroccan tea pot. She then lifts the tea pot high into the air and pours the tea into my small Moroccan glass. It was quite a show! The tea was delicious! I now make it at home regularly. You must use Chinese gunpowder loose tea to make it authentic!

Here is my recipe for Moroccan Mint Tea:

1 T. loose Chinese Gunpowder Tea
2 small bunches fresh mint leaves
1/3 to 1/2 C. sugar
5 cups boiling water
Combine tea and 5 cups boiling water in your tea pot. Steep for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add mint leaves and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Steep another 3 minutes. Stain tea and serve immediately or chill for iced mint tea.

Traditionally Moroccan mint tea is served hot and it is customary to drink at least two glasses as to not offend your host.  It is one of my favorite teas to enjoy iced in the summertime.

MoMo Tea Room

25 Heddon St.London
MoMo's has become one of London's hippest resturants and tea rooms.
Check them out at

Friday, July 4, 2008

General Lafayette and Freedom

General Lafayette and George Washington Statue
Paris, France

The French love the Marquis de La Fayette (1757-1834).

He is best known to Americans as General Lafayette. He was a French military officer and aristocrat who served as a General and diplomat during the American Revolutionary War. Alongside George Washington he helped America win the American Revolution. The two became lifelong friends.

I am honored to say that my French ancestry has a link to Lafayette!

My Dad was told growing up that he was related to the Marquis de Lafayette. Fast forward to when I started going to Paris, my Father told me that I was related to Lafayette. I was fascinated with this connection. In checking my genealogy, I am not a direct descendant of Lafayette but from his Mother's Sister's line. That's good enough for me!

In 2005, at a Paris flea market, I was searching for old post cards of Lafayette. The French antique dealers spoke English and loved hearing of my Lafayette connection! They were very kind and told me where there were two statues of Lafayette in Paris. I couldn't wait to explore more of Paris and find them.

The Place des Etats Unis

The Place des Etats Unis is a street in the 16th Arrondissement in Paris. It is a wealthy residential neighborhood with stately homes. In its public park is the statue of Lafayette and Washington in the center of the park's square.

General Lafayette & George Washington Monument
The Place des Estats Unis

The statue of Lafayette and Washington (1873) is by French sculptor, Frederic-August Bartholdi (1834-1904). The same sculptor who did the Statue of Liberty for America! Interestingly, it was Lafayette's grandson, Edmond de La Fayette and a group of Frenchmen in 1865 Paris, that came up with the idea of the Statue of Liberty as a gift of friendship to America.

The Childrens Statue of Lafayette
Right Bank, Paris

The Americans love Lafayette, too. This statue of Lafayette was a gift to France in 1908 from American school children. It is by sculptor Paul Wayland Barlett. It is along the Seine on the Right bank in Paris between the Pont de l'Alma and Pont des Invalids. The inscription on the base reads:

Erected by the school children of the United States
in grateful memory of Lafayette
statesman, soldier, patriot.

Lafayette is buried in Paris, France. Since the 1890's an American flag has flown at his grave site. He loved America!

The Statue of Liberty and Freedom

The Statue of Liberty.
A symbol of friendship and democracy between France and America.

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty was made by a French sculptor and was a gift from the French people to the American people?

Her official title is Liberty Lighting the World. She is the most recognizable monument and symbol of democracy and freedom that is recognized throughout the world. She commemorates liberty and friendship between France and America.

The Statue of Liberty was constructed in Paris by French sculptor, Frederic-August Bartholdi (1834-1904) and 50 workmen. He began work on her in 1871. She was transported to the United States in 350 individual pieces in 214 crates. She was reassembled in four months time and erected on Liberty Island, New York. She is supported by an innovative metal framework by Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower.

Lady Liberty's base is 65 feet high, her pedestal 89 feet high and she is 151 feet and one inch to the tip of her torch. She proudly holds a torch in one hand for freedom and clasps a book of laws in the other inscribed with the date July 4, 1776.

On October 28, 1886 thousands of spectators watched as she was presented and dedicated in a ceremony to the United States of America.

The Statue of Liberty
Liberty Island, New York

The French people intended the Statue of Liberty to represent the French contribution to American independence. That original intent seems to be lost and unknown to many. Instead the Statue of Liberty gained fame as a sign to immigrants from all over the world as a promise of a new life in America and a symbol of political freedom.

To me the Statue of Liberty symbolizes freedom. In 2005, I took my oldest nephew Taylor to New York City. We stood in line forever to make the ferry journey across the harbor to see Lady Liberty in person. I'm glad we did. Now I know how my ancestors from Europe felt as their ship pulled into the harbor on their way to Ellis Island. I can only imagine that when they saw the Statue of Liberty and the United States of America for the first time, that one thing came to mind. Freedom.