Tag Archives: books

Julia Denos and Audrey Hepburn

Have you heard about the children’s book, Just Being Audrey?

I looked up the illustrator, Julia Denos and I LOVE her work. Just those few images really capture the character and spirit of the iconic film star.

Apparently the book follows her life from Nazi-occupied Europe through her years as an Ambassador for UNICEF.

I would love to buy this book for my own little girl (okay – it would really be for me). And I fully intend to keep an eye out for more Julia Denos illustrations. First step? Follow her blog, The Cinnamon Rabbit.

I’m skipping town early for a long weekend in sunny (or apparently rainy) AZ. So I’ll see you next week!

Am I The Only One Who Finds this a Little, Um…

I saw this in House Beautiful (a full page dedicated to it no less) and well…there really aren’t any words…

Couldn’t find anything about it online other than gushing fan reviews on Amazon. I’m not questioning taste or expertise (I’ve only seen the three pictures in HB), but I do find the cover rather, um…again – I’m at a loss.

The book title isn’t great either. I think a more accurate one would be “Fun With Decorating on a Multi-Billion Dollar Budget.”

Is that mean? Or just painfully uniformed about this obscure facet to a mega star’s many talents? Either way – I’m still speechless.

Needful Things: A Life of Style by Rebecca Moses

I recently read about designer Rebecca Moses’ new book, A Life of Style – and I really think I must have it. Illustrated with fanciful watercolors, A Life of Style provides inspiration and practical advice for developing your own personal style through eschewing rules and appreciating style constants.

Here are some images I was able to grab online (via Dining and Decor and Amazon.com – not the best resolution…but really the best I could find):

I would love to read the rest, but more than that, I want to own this colorful gem. Beautifully illustrated books are a weakness of mine. Getting her signature in it as well? That would be heaven for me.

There Will Never Be Another…

Did you see the November cover of Town & Country? It features a beautiful photo of Gloria Vanderbilt with the headline “There Will Never Be Another Gloria Vanderbilt.” At first I thought this was a tribute and that she had recently died, but was happy to see that it was simply a retrospective of her more famous and/or breathtaking portraits. Here is one of my favorites:

I remember reading her early memoirs (Once Upon a Time: A True Story and Black Knight, White Knight) in high school and ever since, I’ve been fascinated with her life story. At the time, I just thought they were good books, but having re-read them later in my thirties, I was struck by her ability to write in the voice of the age she remembered in each chapter. Starting with sense memories and a small child’s perspective of the turmoil surrounding her, through the romanticized drama and angst of her teen years, the books end with the growing maturity, disappointments and hope accompanying her early marriages and introduction to motherhood.

Sadly, she didn’t continue the stories until much later in life (possibly due to personal tragedies such as her son’s suicide). But it was interesting to read the more recent, It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir, which covered some of the same memories with a far more frank and analytical perspective.

No matter what she designs, paints or writes though (the most recent book being erotica of all things – at age 85!), Gloria Vanderbilt is an icon, as well as a favored muse of accomplished photographers for well over half a century.

The last Wishing True post featured pictures of my Grandma Olive. I love the dramatic formality captured in old photography, and both my family pictures and the Town & Country spread on Gloria Vanderbilt inspired me to search images of other famous faces…

Didn’t recognize the last three? They are pictures of my Grandma Olive’s sister, Eleanor who was an actress in Hollywood back when people “got discovered” and pictures of the greats featured above her inspired women to dream of glamour and celebrity.

My only question is WHY I didn’t inherit any of these blond goddess genes?! Ah well – I guess I’ll just have to escape into the fantasy world of celebrity memoirs.

*Other good Gloria Vanderbilt related reads include Little Gloria…Happy At Last by Barbara Goldsmith and Trio: Oona Chaplin, Carol Matthau, Gloria Vanderbilt: Portrait of an Intimate Friendship by Aram Saroyan.

Review: Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday by Laura Bennett

I’ve never done a book review before and I’m having a little trouble with the intro. Everything I write sounds very formal and stuffy and I immediately delete it – because if there is one thing that Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? is NOT, it’s formal and stuffy.

So I think I’ll just dive right in and say that I really, really like Laura Bennett (of Project Runway fame). The title of her book immediately made me smile because that is exactly how I feel about meal time around here.

Based on an inside joke between her and one of her sons, “didn’t I feed you yesterday?” truly captures my shoulder sagging, sigh inducing exasperation upon noticing that another three hours have passed and it’s yet again time for me to prepare a meal for children who either don’t like anything or only like ONE thing. A thankless task in my book. I can’t count how many times I’ve looked at the clock in the evening, only to start with the realization, “oh crap – I forgot to feed the kids.”

But I’m not a bad mother. In fact, some might even say that I’m pretty good at this. Not the cooking of course – but the caring, nurturing, laughing, encouraging, not sweating the small stuff side of parenting? THAT I can do. And I do it well.

And this is really what Laura’s book communicates. Part humor book, part memoir, part manual for keeping a sense of self in mommy land – Laura encourages other mothers to parent their own way. To find what works best for them and their own family and ignore what “how to” books and gurus out there profess to be the best and only way to mother. And do it with style. Preferably in great shoes.

I won’t give away too much of the story, but here are some highlights.

First – it really does read like a story, and this definitely appealed to me. One of the reasons that I started reading blogs is that I love to hear personal stories. All of my friends are interesting people with excellent story telling talent. If I lived in NYC and met Laura, I would absolutely try to make her my new best friend (lucky you Laura – those few driving hours that separate us will save you from my attentions).

And a woman who is in the process of raising five wild boys in a two bedroom loft in Manhattan is bound to have some good stories. In this book they begin with Laura as a single mom with a five year old daughter arriving in New York as a grad student, working two jobs to pay the bills. It continues with her introduction to a man literally destined to become her husband and then spirals into a whirlwind of babies and boys and the various and sundry characters picked up along the way to help keep track of the chaos. I can’t imagine that there is ever a boring moment in Laura Bennett’s world.

One of my favorite chapters of course was Laura’s Got a Gunn, recounting her adventures on Project Runway. I won’t write anything about this since I won’t be able to help myself and might end up giving away the whole thing. BUT tomorrow I’ll post an interview with her on The Big Piece of Cake, and she does answer a few of my PR-related questions.

And all of you Project Runway fans will remember Laura’s exceptional style. She didn’t just dress up for runway day – she wore her stilettos in the workroom. Her meticulously self-sewn plunging necklines were worn with pride from morning to evening, without any discernible shifting or wrinkling. Laura has effortless style down to a science and her Fabulously Glamorous chapter details just how easy it can be. A must read for any mom who feels more frumpy than fabulous – this chapter provides a simple wardrobe formula that anyone can master.

One surprising part of Laura’s story (at least for me) was that she has a special needs child – one with speech and communication challenges. She writes about Larson with such humor and appreciation for his own talents and individuality that you barely perceive his delays as being problematic as much as they’re just “Larson.” As another mother of a special needs boy with speech and communication issues, I recognized so much of myself in that. Sure I want Oliver to “catch up” – or at least enough to participate with his peers – but I love him for exactly who he is right now, sensory-seeking mess and mischief included. When I wrote Special Needs, this was exactly the point I wanted to make: that we should love our children for who they are – not in spite of it.

Disagree if you will with Laura’s choice of footwear or her choice to hire a few brave souls to help raise her battalion of boys…she delights in her family and each one of their separate personalities. She knows what’s really important in raising children who feel cherished – and she embraces that daily.

Many people would criticize a mother for prioritizing her career, her appearance and her footwear. But in my opinion, Laura has achieved balance in life that most alpha moms will never enjoy as the result of their own perfect house, perfect children, perfectly cut carrot sticks priorities. This stiletto wearing mom enjoys herself. She enjoys her kids. She enjoys her life. And in the end, that’s really what it’s all about.

So now that you know what I loved about this book, I suggest you get your own copy. OR better yet – win one! I’ll be posting an interview with Laura and a Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? giveaway tomorrow, so don’t miss those.

In the meantime, you can find out more about Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? on the book’s website AND read more of Laura’s writing on The Daily Beast.

Trouverez Treasure at The Paris Hotel Boutique

I discovered this wonderful online shop on one of my longtime favorites, The Paris Apartment.

Paris Hotel Boutique features “vintage one-of-a-kind pieces celebrating the glitz and glamour of a bygone era.

I have been a fan of bygone eras for as long as I can remember. And in my opinion, The Paris Hotel Boutique delivers a delightful selection of treasures from which to choose.

But mon Dieu! How could I ever decide…I have far too many favorites…

Such as…

This Vintage Italian Micromosaic Brooch that reminds me so much of the little pieces of jewelry my mom bought me when I was a kid. It’s TEENY (just 1-1/8″ by 3/4″), and the only thing I like better than treasure is TINY treasure.

This Victorian Sterling Chatelaine Dance Card. Look at the detail on it. I’ve always loved the idea of dance cards…I definitely missed out on that bygone era…

This Pair of Victorian 10K Gold Cufflinks which would look great with my theoretical French cuff button down shirts.

This Vintage Italian Art Glass Pendant Lamp. I have no idea what I’d do with it in my own house – but I could see it hanging at a landing of a staircase or in a small foyer with a high ceiling.

This Early 1900’s English 9 Carat Gold Buckle Ring looks like it transported itself directly from my childhood jewelry box. While I didn’t actually have a buckle ring, I did have a couple of buckle bracelets (not nearly as fine as this gold of course).

This 1930’s Diamond & Pearl 14 Carat Arrow Brooch would be a major splurge, but what a wonderful piece to pass down to lucky female descendants. I would make up a fabulous back story about a fictional great great aunt who wore this during her Suffragette marches (the Artemis feel is very feminist, non?) And then wait to see who caught the discrepency in eras. That smartie would definitely be the recipient in my will.

This Art Nouveau 14k Blister Pearl Watch Brooch is another little one (1-7/8″ by 3/4″). I think it’s darling.

This book, Le Nouveau Voyage de France (circa 1899) is the most beautiful color and I would love to see it in a white bookcase, displayed with other books in varying shades of blue.

AND FINALLY this little Victorian 10k Gold Signet Ring reminds me so much of my childhood. Signet rings were much coveted and typically adorned pinkie fingers. It’s hard to see the monogram on this one, so you can just pretend that it’s yours.

Would you believe that this whole post idea started with that little micromosaic brooch? At $30 I thought it was a steal. Some of the others are a tad more decadent, but who enters an antique store without finding a few fantasy purchases?

Valentines Day Gift Buying Guide

A gift buying guide for ME that is…

I think I’ll devote the next couple of days to gift ideas for everyone’s favorite Hallmark holiday.

Here are a few items that you might want to consider (okay – for YOU if you insist – but be aware that I have ME in mind):

The lover of pretty things in me wants to display these on a shelf…

…while the book nerd in me wants to run my fingers across the spines and wish I knew how to read French.

*I was originally going to feature a gorgeous cinnabar bracelet from FrenchBlue, but by the time I came back to grab the image, it was GONE. Quel dommage… Instead I selected these books which I just noticed are also now sold. Mon Dieu, one must act fast when shopping at FrenchBlue!

Moving on… I’m in desperate need of a gold cuff bracelet.

This one will do.

And would love another Liza Hirst to hang on my wall…

I’ll take a painting of flowers (and an abstract one at that!) over dozens of roses any day.

That’s enough for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with some more gift suggestions (for me).

The Well Dressed Home

I completely forgot to tell you about the best giveaway I won on coco + kelly a couple of months back. But this post on Lobster and Swan reminded me.

The Well Dressed Home by Annette Tatum is by far one of the most beautiful design books I’ve ever seen. It’s like the sugar frosted French pastry to your typical baguette of a coffee table book. Just paging through its loveliness is like an act of decadence. And the copy I won is SIGNED (I have a bit of a thing for signed first editions).

The topic is personalizing your living space so that it reflects your fashion and style sensibilities. And the photography would inspire the least style minded reader.

It’s not uncommon to hear a differentiation between “being into fashion” or “being into home interiors” but personal design taste really has to encompass both. What you choose to put on your body and what you put around it are so closely related.

Especially since both are terribly challenged by the amount of money you have to spend. Possibly one of the biggest reasons why many choose to just give up and not even try.

In the end, it takes more than a few days to dress a home, and for most it can take a lifetime. But the process of collecting treasured things and developing personal style can be enjoyed just as much as the end result of home dressed to the nines.

A is For Apple, Decidedly Black

I just came across this adorable little alphabet print by Emily of Inside a Black Apple.

And here is an image of what it would look like in a traditional frame. Even Adorabler!

I have always loved alphabet books, rhymes and pictures, and Emily’s whimsical little figures are just perfect for an alphabet sampler. I have to admit though, I’m not quite sure what L and Z are… Any ideas?*It’s no secret that I like pretty things, dolls, and all things girly – so of course my favorite alphabet rhyming book of all time is A is for Annabelle by Tasha Tudor. I was even able to find a few images online:

But I’m also drawn to quirky, pithy and sometimes rather dark humor. So another favorite dactylic (yes, I had to look that up) pentameter rendition is The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gory.

This one is not for the weak of heart. I generally fall into that category, but there is enough irony and, well…cuteness involved that I can’t help but smile.Here are a two of my favorite rhymes (the entire book can be viewed here):

Although I must say that my namesake met one of the more grisly ends…

I imagine that Emily loves the Tinies as well – but I’m not sure what she’d make of my treasured Annabelle…I would guess that she’d love the doll but would probably whip up some stripey caps and jazz up her wardrobe a bit… Maybe give her a little ghost for a pal. Or a narwhal… Anything is possible Inside a Black Apple.

*UPDATE: Emily informed me that L is for “lace” and Z is for “Zorro.” Aha!