Monday, December 30, 2013


Photo courtesy of Brooks Brothers
I have heard that Toastmasters, a national organization centered around the art of public speaking, is having a rise in memberships as of late. Henry Alford's well-written article in the New York Times Style Section put the topic squarely in the spotlight a few days ago, and with New Year's Eve fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to focus on what can be a time filled with dread and fear-- the Toast. I first learned about the organization from a friend with polished social and oratory skills, I was surprised to hear he was participating in the art of toast-making  skills. But the more I think about it, I too would like to improve my toasts, and learn secrets to getting up and making a memorable homages to a guest of honor.  There is nothing as good as a heartfelt and funny toast to set the tone of an evening. But there is nothing worse than sitting down and feeling like your words went over like a lead balloon. Before I take that Toastmasters step, perhaps I will read up on the craft, and pick up a copy of the Brooks Brothers A Gentleman's Guide To Toasts and Tributes book, written by John Bridges and Bryan Curtis. If someone dear to you gets sweaty palms and palpitations at the thought of getting up to speak in front of others, this book could ease the pain of what should be a festive glass-raising moment.  The second half of the book touches on correspondence, so it provides indispensable advice on how to be gracious and show appreciation and can be of use to gals and guys. It might provide some helpful for the next time you are on the spot.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Photo courtesy of Caitlin McGauley
Wishing you a joyous holiday this season. Thank you for another wonderful year, dear readers! Safe travels and adventures. I will be back from my Southern sojourn in the sun soon. 

Friday, December 20, 2013


In the right setting, the punchy combination of black and white can be just right. Mixed in with tons of other colors, or used harmoniously with a singular additional hue, there is no telling what black and white can do. Here are 5 gifts, some humorous, some serious, that capture the magic of this striking combination.

Photo courtesy of Nordstrom
This gift will go over really well if the recipient possesses a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at themselves. I love that they saying on Levtex's pillows are written in this My Three Sons font with retro overtones. Husbands, this pillow will win you major points!

Reinforcement helps. The Mr. Right version.

Photo courtesy of Vista Allegre
The graphic punch of Vista Alegre's latest collection with French fashion couturier Christian Lacroix integrates a watercolor stripe in a daring black and white linear pattern. The Sol Y Sombra dessert plates set the stage for a beautiful presentation.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Wearstler
With a dash of whimsy, Kelly Wearstler's glazed white and black ceramic bowl has a playful presence.

Photo courtesy of Alexander Wang
Having a spot near the front door to throw keys and business cards can alleviate the stress caused by a mess. Fashion darling Alexander Wang recently debuted a line of sleek home accessories, including this super chic black and white marble Junk Bowl.

Photo courtesy of Tozai
Hand-inlaid bone and ebony pieces make Tozai's delicate looking jewelry box a prized place for special baubles.

Photo courtesy of Natural Curiosities
What is more striking than the positive negative space captured in a graphic black and white piece of artwork? Playing off this natural yin yang, Natural Curiosities Geometric Study: Circle, White can hold its own or compliment a gallery wall.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Photo courtesy Martha Stewart American Made
When it comes to the holidays, I like things to be old school. My mom has these amazing little wooden elves with long beards and pointy felt hats  from 1971 that I will not let her throw away. They may be on their last legs, but that sense of tradition coupled with the fact that it is a charming German wooden toy that they don't make the way they used to makes me want them to last forever. The same thing goes for holiday candy. The more throwback, the better. This fall, when I discovered Shane's Confectioners at Martha Stewart's American Made Event in Grand Central, I knew I had come upon something special. As the "oldest continuously-run confectionery in the United States", Shane's, based in Philadelphia,  has been cranking out handmade candies and chocolates since 1863. The chocolates shown above, a precursor to the Whitmans Sampler, have an eclectic mix of fillings from a bygone era. Filled with butter creams, fruits and nuts, this tasty mix is sure to bring up some holiday memories for you. Available through the Ebay store set up for American Made, they will arrive in time for New Year's.  Enjoy the array and the old timey packaging.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


There are some things you would never buy for yourself, but you know your friends or family would really appreciate the thought.  When it comes to entertaining details, it can take ages to build up a collection of wonderful vintage bar accessories, or find glasses that are pretty to look at and comfortable to hold.     So be a thoughtful gift giver, and give something unexpected that will be used and enjoyed time and time again. Cheers.

Photo courtesy of Serena and Lilly
Some people are the life of the party. Others, prefer to remain in the shadows, and would rather spend a quiet moment catching up with friends. Why not encourage that with a zippy new game for them to play, with a Serena and Lily Signature Backgammon Set?

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Adler
Store trinkets or cut lemons on the bar in Jonathan Adler's swirly blue and white malachite-edged box topped with a gold-backed pagoda.

Photo courtesy of Moma
Capturing classic surrealist Magritte paintings, these brightly colored melamine plates at Moma Store are a cheerful addition to the table that can expose children to seminal art from an early age, or, help you start your collection.

Photo courtesy of Billy Cotton
A faceted design makes Billy Cotton's new stemless wine glasses comfortable in the hand. The price, makes them easier on the wallet. 

Photo courtesy of Simon Pearce
By mixing antique decanters with beautiful newer pieces, a bar can have a bit of soul. There are s many interesting gin and tequila bottles being designed these days, so pairing them with these classic, hand-blown glass  lidded decanters from Simon Pearce keeps everything swellegant.

Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn
I like the rustic design of Pottery Barn's Mack Cocktail Shaker, it has a great 1940's retro vibe. 

Photo courtesy of Tiffany
My love of Elsa Peretti's designs knows no bounds. Every drink will look better when swirled with Tiffany's Padova spoon, complete with sinewy curved loop handle.

Photo courtesy of Crate and Barrel
Those that look forward to the arrival of cocktail hour will embrace Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic, made in small batches to mix with sparkling water for a customized cocktail experience. Find it at Crate and Barrel.

Photo courtesy of Barneys
A glommed up version of the real thing, Carl Aubock's exquisitely designed brass Horse Shoe Bottle Opener from Barneys will be a welcome and handsome addition for the artisan ale bunch.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Presents for others are supposed to delight and inspire. Every Christmas, when my family asks me what I would enjoy, I have such a hard time thinking about what I would really use as well as need. Gifts usually revolve around something to spiff up my apartment, and then I usually say something like, "I could really use more black flats, I have worn mine into the ground." This never gets me very far.  I spin a lot, so some Lululemon capri's have hit the spot in the past. Maybe a new rug would be nice?  I might spend two more years deciding which pattern and color combination best suits my scheme.  Then there is that Westie I always wanted. A busy schedule prevents this from being a real possibility; it might be hard to give the dog enough quality time outside.
 I do not know what Santa has planned for me this year, but I did tell him my Equinox membership is becoming outrageously expensive, and after over 20 years of membership, it just keeps on climbing. Here are some hints for him, so I am hoping he takes notice. This list has a little bit of everything, because thats how gifts usually go. Call it a grab bag of sorts, and  I hope you will find inspiration in the wide-ranging assortment I have gathered.  A girl can dream, right?

Photo courtesy Zinc Door
As some of the most stylish candlesticks I have seen this year, Rablabs mixes brass and hand polished semi-precious stones in a striking pairing.

Photo courtesy of DwellStudio
You just can't have enough drinking glasses because they tend to break from time to time. DwellStudio's version, with an etched malachite pattern is so vintage chic, they will be a great addition to my brass-accented bar.

 Photo courtesy of West Elm
Salad servers dressed up in a rose gold finish over durable stainless  from West Elm make cooking and serving an event. I have a LOT of serving pieces, it is a thing for me...

 Photo courtesy of Arteriors
I have had my eye on this brass and marble tray since Arteriors launched it. Ok, so it is a tad heavy to move around, but it is the epitome of the mixed-materiasl trend.

Photo courtesy of Haute Papier
If it is customized,  there is a high probability I will love it even more. Haute Papier is known for their wide array of brightly colored fonts available on their stationery. Their White on Bright Notepads are so bright, it is impossible to ignore that to do list.

Photo courtesy of Mark and Graham
So maybe I am going overboard on the trays, but this combination of Acacia wood and gold lettering is so rustic/sophisticate. From Mark and Graham, who pretty much nails it with everything monogrammable.

Photo courtesy of Chappy Wraps
Where is my old Fair Isle sweater I wonder? Why can't I get one as well made as the one I had in 5th grade? If you often wonder the same thing, I have an easy substitution, one that you can enjoy all winter long. With the same linear pattern as a classic Fair Isle, Chappy Wrap's festive throw has reindeer and snowflakes dancing across it.

Photo courtesy of Hachette Book Group
What goes well with a warm blanket? A can't-stop-reading-it bestseller, like The Goldfinch, of course. Whenever Donna Tartt comes out with one of her beautifully-written books  I devour it.

Photo courtesy of Potter Style
An encyclopedic take on the most lasting decorative details of today and yesteryear, Jennifer Boles of The Peak of Chic blog  has created a charming watercolor-filled book detailing the various design elements with Potter Style's  In With The Old. I will be sitting down with my copy over the holiday break, reveling in my favorite decor moments.

Photo courtesy of Biscuit Home
It is a bit jammed in there, but I still have some room left in my linen closet for these soft cotton sateen ikat patterned Amber boudoir shams from Houston's Biscuit Home.  Bailey McCarthy, also blogger of Peppermint Bliss, does a great job with her bedding prints.

Photo courtesy of Aloha
Like most people, I do not drink enough water. I will try and rectify the situation by asking for green juice packets from Aloha called The Daily Good. They are filled with powerful super food nutrients and greens like Spirulina. Mahalo to you.

Photo courtesy of De Feet
And for my stocking... crazy socks are having a moment. De Feet creates some of the craziest, and I like that I know they are party socks, but no one else in my spin class can tell.  Plus, they are wool so they dry quickly and wear well.

Photo courtesy of Gorsuch
If it is going to continue to be in a deep freeze in Manhattan,  I could use a pair of fur gloves. Designed by two stylish ladies that attended my high school, these Glamourpuss gloves come in a wide variety of poppy colors.

Photo courtesy of Tory Burch
I am headed South for Christmas, so maybe Santa will get me something to wear in the tropical climate. Tory Burch's embroidered Amira dress reappears from the archives from time to time in new colors, I love it in orange or the navy and orange combo. 

Photo courtesy of Barneys
Like fresh cut flowers delivered every day, Frederic Malle's Carnal Flower fragrance is a heady mix of every gorgeous white flower imaginable. I know a guy that wears it, but hey, that's cool, he too knows a good thing when he smells it.

Photo courtesy of Bobbi Brown
Santa knows I like a shimmery eye every now and again, and every season, Bobbi B comes out with a covetable assortment of shadows.  Bobbi Brown just gets what colors look natural with the subtle look, and her Sequin palette does not disappoint. In fast, it usually sells out..

Photo courtesy of Asha by Adm
From eyes to ears, I want to sparkle aplenty! I have an Asha chain link necklace that I wear all the time, so these new Asha New York Quinn dangly drop earrings with quatrefoil cut-outs and rhinestone pave detailing would mesh well with other baubles. They remind me of sunflowers, and I could see them earning their keep easily transitioning from day to night.

Photo courtesy of Addison Weeks
I have a collection of evening clutches that I like to rotate. I have yet to acquire a metal one as interesting as this brass and stone stunner from Addison Weeks. Not only do they make evening bags encrusted in semi precious stones, they also make killer decorative boxes.

Photo courtesy of Anya Hindmarch
But since one is never enough, I know I can always count on Anya Hindmarch to come up with a showstopper in time for the holidays. Her malachite printed satin clutch is bold without being too too.

Photo courtesy of Cycle for Survival
And last but not least, I believe we are getting closer to finding a cure for cancer. In the meantime, I am hoping for a Christmas miracle: that my friends and family whose lives have been affected by cancer will help me to give big and give back to cancer research. This March, I am riding in my 3rd Cycle For Survival fundraising event here in New York. The event, which raises funds to benefit rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, is the most fun event of its kind, with over 300 people on indoor bikes at Equinox, turning and burning for charity.  This year, I am riding to honor my late father and my recently diagnosed friend, Amy on Team Amy's Amigos. So far, I have raised $1700 towards a goal of $8000. I am going big on this ask, and hope that you will give what you are able, be it anonymously, or share your story with me on my page. Together, we can make a difference fighting cancer.
Of all the gifts this year, this one would make me the happiest.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Animals have such presence. Make them presents, in their many varied forms. From feathers to horn, animal prints to zebra stripes, any time of year is a good time for the wild side. Every few years, animal prints come back into favor, and for good reason. When used right, (i.e. sparingly) their impact is memorable. For those that appreciate this lively look, here are gifts to enthrall.

Photo courtesy of Dransfield and Ross
Don't ruffle your feathers, look at them on Dransfield and Ross's chic convex mirror.

Photo courtesy of Natural Curiosities
Bring wonderous creatures into interiors with this stately elephant print from Natural Curiosities.

 Photo courtesy of Jayson Home
Having fresh flowers around makes everything look better, so why not add an interesting vase to a friend's collection? This rustic double horn version from Jayson Home has room for two small arrangements.

Photo courtesy of Branca
Urban and country dwellers can enjoy a bit of alpine style with Alessandra Branca's striking red and brown embroidered Stag's Head Cocktail Napkins, sold in a set of six.

Photo courtesy of Tozai
A Zebra hide rug real or faux adds a worldly wise exoticism to an interior.  I found this wonderful eco friendly printed canvas version designed by the talented Dransfield and Ross boys for Tozai. Trimmed in felt, it makes a chic addition to any area that needs a bit of pattern.

Photo courtesy of Jen Going
For the gal that loves blue and white, Jen Going's cobalt blue and white Zebra Pillow with contrast blue trim.

Photo courtesy of Asha
Malachite gives me wanderlust for the great African game reserve camps and chic safari style. Slide necklaces were so popular in the 70's, I am glad Asha is bringing them back, her design Isabel is a quatrefoil pendant featuring malachite in the center.

Photo courtesy of Kayce Hughes
I don't tend to wear a lot of leopard, I have 2 pairs of shoes, Belgians and Stubbs and Wooton, that have carried me through the trend resurgence over the past 10 years. Maybe its time to add a tiny bit more, with Kayce Hughes clutches trimmed in a bright hue. I like the subtle contrast and classic shape.

 Photo courtesy of Pologeorgis
Here is another way to inject a bit of leopard into your evening wardrobe without going overboard- a little Rabbit Fur Stole from Pologeorgis resembles the real thing but with a gentler price.

Photo courtesy of Iomoi
With a Cheetah spot border, the handsome leather and canvas monogram tote from Iomoi is a perfect bag for running around town. 

Photo courtesy of Sugar Paper
Mixing a gold foil printed liner  in a small leopard spot pattern and a hot pink border, letterpress cards from LA's Sugar Paper have pizazz.

Photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren
It is hard to resist a gift that helps with organization. Ralph Lauren Home's swanky leather and leopard printed letter holder assists in keeping desk clutter to a minimum.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Paul
Butterflies have been in style for some time now, and every time they get prettier. Elevating melamine, Thomas Paul's oval tray looks elegant but can go rough and tumble outdoors.