Friday, August 31, 2007

Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today I was at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut for the vintage racing weekend. There is nothing better than to see extremely rare and valuable automobiles flying around a beautiful road course at high rates of speed. Because hey - why have the damn race car if you are going to keep it in a garage? Also, Lime Rock is in a gorgeous part of Connecticut where there are lovely inns and restaurants and antiques and tag sales - with a dose of racing. Tom and I have visited Lime Rock over the years for many races - American Le Mans, vintage races and for Quattro Club high performance driving schools. Because hey - if you've got Quattro, shouldn't you know what your maximum apex speed is?

Anyway, after a weekend of watching people drive fast, I always got the urge to drive a little fast (but not so fast that I'll get a ticket, that would be a bummer) - so Tom indulged me and let me take us for a spin on a farm road not far from the track. I had been hot-footing it past cows for about 10 minutes when Tom turned on the radio. Because all of the radio buttons in the car are tuned to various NPR stations the news was just being reported that Princess Diana had died in a car accident in Paris. I was so uncertain of what I had heard that I pulled onto the shoulder (narrowly avoiding a ditch) and gasped for breath while my eyes filled with hot tears. I waited on the shoulder until I heard the report again. I remember Tom looking at me and asking if I was alright. I was definitely not and he took the wheel and steered us home while I cried no, no, no.

Since that day, no matter what vehicle I am in, and no matter the distance - I am wearing a seat belt. Not a taxi or limo or even my own car will I sit in without a seat belt.

I'm a couple of years younger than Diana, so I was filled with semi-romantic notions about the Royal Wedding in July of 1981. Getting up at 3:00am to watch the wedding is something I'll never forget. I still have a scrap book of newspaper articles about the wedding preparations. Every time I do "clean house" episode I look at those books and say "keep pile" because there are some ties that can't be broken.

Charles-the-idiot seemed kind of dopey, but then we girls work with the clay we've been given. She was so shy and sweet and trying to appear so grown up. It was quickly apparent that she was way too "modern" for the family and their efforts to quash her natural charisma and charm were wasted effort on their part, and harmful to her. The fact that Charles-the-idiot would keep after Camilla-the-horseface-girl should have shown the royal household that the marriage would not last. Maybe Diana really was brought in just for an heir.

Diana's choice to really "work" as a royal I think jabbed many other royals in the butt (like the silly incident of the Fergie and Diana poking the bottoms of friends at Ascot.) Her charities still benefit from her involvement. The International Campaign to Ban Land Mines has had a great deal of success in the fight against proliferation. Her work to bring greater understanding about AIDS and care of those suffering was a turning point in the AIDS crisis.

I miss her fashionable ways. I miss seeing her rise up over the people who were such jerks to her. I really miss her. But I can't imagine my missing the only "real life princess" of my lifetime comes close to the longing of her sons. Here's to William and Harry, I hope today is a turning point for them too.

Her relationship with Mother Teresa makes a lot of sense given the revelations about Mother Teresa's doubts about the existence of God. She persevered in her work through the doubt and kept a smiling face turned outward. That same smiling face turned outward describes Diana's work during the most difficult time in her life.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Walk Through Neiman's (Online) Shoe Dept.

In my continuing search for the most beautiful shoe (or any shoes that strike me as needing to be in my closet) today I bring you a few selections from Neiman Marcus. Nice photography though the site is a bit wonky - but I'll forgive that since there are plenty of dreamy shoes there.

Magno approved:

The Michael Kors Torquay Pump intrigues me. It manages to be a solid-looking shoe without an ounce of clunk. That is a tall order, so good for you MK. At $195 (if the quality is there) I can see these as an investment.

The Azzaro Metallic d'Orsay Pump worked its way into my heart after a few minutes. I could see this in early fall with a lightweight gray wool pencil skirt - but then I do favor the sexy secretary look. At $315 these need to be multi-season shoes and I think the colors just might work.

I am so in love with these shoes it hurts. The Salvatore Ferragamo Severina Pump is making my heart soar. You could wear this shoe with anything and look smashing. At $340 it seems a relative bargain.

Gucci Jacqueline Wedge is another object of desire. This shoe with the right flowy a-line skirt could make my world go around. A little vintagey, a lot hot. I love this shoe, even if I can't justify the $525 pricetag. Yet.

Completely and totally unacceptable:

Congratulations to the Brian Atwood Cutout Sandal ($714) for making me appreciate the Farylrobin shoe. Not only is the sandal unappealing, it's crazy expensive!

Coming in at the top of the crazy list is Donna Karan Metallic Platform Sandal. The ability to wear these and not look like a fembot is a rare one indeed. At $730 you have to really want to be a fembot.

For the grown-up Cindy Lou Who in you I present the Stella McCartney Platform Pump. On balance I can see where this shoe might work in a situation or two, but I believe both of those situations involve working girls and/or poles of some kind.

It's as if I'm coming out of a nightmare in 1992. The half-boot is appearing at a club near you worn with cuffed denim shorts and white ankle socks. Your frizzed hair is sprayed into a spectacular waterfall of crusty curls and you are rocking the mall. That is what my first view of Donald J. Pliner's Woven Leather Mule made me feel. $335 is a lot to pay for a nasty flashback like that.

Jury still out:

The Prada Jeweled Sandal is an appealing object to me, my only concern is what the ladies would pair it with. I've seen them on the runway with silky, shorty dresses - but there aren't a whole lot of gals who can pull off that look.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Despair Makes Me Happy

The lovely folks at Despair Inc. now have a blog. They are currently featuring clips from the "The Art of Demotivation" (available for management idiots) in a couple of gorgeous executive versions. They have a lovely selection of t-shirts (all of which I want) and the best note cards on the planet. I'm not shilling here - I love this stuff. They've been "getting" my sense of humor for nearly 8 years. Rock on with your bad self Dr. Kersten.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mara - Still Not Bridezilla

Mara came over for the veil fitting and finish, so we drank some wine and and made the veil "just right." I haven't seen even a moment of bridezilla behavior (though I believe the flower guy has faced some well-deserved wrath.) We added a few little sparkly details and had some serious chuckles during the photo shoot with friend John. The photos are all HERE for Mara's mom Toby (and Murph who wanted to be referred to as the blog whore - I have no idea why.)

Sending love and hugs to the west coast family. (The place cards are under way!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mara's Getting Married

My friend Mara is getting married in less than two weeks and I have the pleasure and honor of adding a few Moda di Magno touches to the event. I am making her veil and yesterday I made a velvet pouch to hold the glass that her husband-to-be will break during the ceremony.

This was the best explanation for that particular wedding tradition:

At the conclusion of the blessing, the Rabbi will ask the best man to place a wine glass, wrapped in a white cloth or in a special bag the couple provides, under the bridegroom's right foot. There are nearly as many interpretations of the meaning of the breaking of the glass as there are Rabbis. The bridegroom will break it, symbolizing: the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, man's short life on earth; that even in the midst of the happy occasion we should not forget that sorrow and death are also ahead.

After the glass is broken, the guests shout "Mazel Tov," clap their hands, embrace and sing as the couple departs. (The shattered glass may then be kept as a keepsake in a velvet pouch.) The bride and bridegroom will kiss immediately after being declared "man and wife" and then run up the aisle into a Yichud (a private space.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Let's Get Social, Darlings

A dream has come to fruition bloggy dears - Blogger Social 2008 is on! No agendas, no panels, no forums - no nonsense, just good old-fashioned meeting and greeting your blogger buddies, marketing gurus and Internets friends.

Blogger social - where social media really gets social.

Click HERE to learn more and register!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Just Sayin'

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Gem Tour Continues

Any tour of the finest purveyors of jewelry must include La Maison Cartier. They have a nice website that you could waste a lot of time on. They have a number of nice features including films on everything from "Jewelry Know How" (totally worth watching!) to a showcase of "emblematic pieces." I can't decide if their web experience is hip enough to include desktop downloads of beautiful things (or vintage enough to include desktop downloads.) I downloaded the shot below. Yummy.

There are many pretty things on the site - all of which you must purchase in a store - so no prices on the site, but you can imagine the numbers are way up there. Making the option to window shop on the site that much more valuable.

I love the translated site functionality. "We thank you to" - love it. So I did.
And the confirmation that I had successfully subscribed to the Cartier Club. I love that my subscription has been taken into account and that I have received identification parameters. Very cool.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Puttin' on the Ritz

Members of the Boston contingent of the Age of Conversation authors met tonight. We gathered at the George Washington statue in the Boston Public Garden (not far from the Swan Boats and ever so close to the "old Ritz.") Pictured are Ryan Barrett, Scott Monty, Me and Brian Reich. What a treat to meet face to face! After a bit of chit chat we convinced two nice young men to take a group shot for us.

Scott, Ryan and I headed to the bar at the "old Ritz" - now the Taj Boston and enjoyed a celebratory cocktail and caught up on who's doing what - and got the rundown on many of the Simpsons characters that Scott can imitate. (To the delight of the young man seated near us!)

Gracing our evening was a pianist and when he busted out "Putting on the Ritz" Scott and I could not resist performing as a Peter Boyle duo from Young Frankenstein. Ryan did her best not to point and laugh and I think the pianist appreciated the effort. A good time was had by all - let's do it again Boston AoCers!

This is Josh Moore and Mike Jensen who were kind enough to take our photo. Thanks Josh & Mike!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tiffany Gets Equal Time

Harry Winston got some love yesterday, so I visited Tiffany today. Harry Winston has no prices on the website, but Tiffany does (facilitating the dreams a little better.) Now I know I need more than a sugar daddy - I need a filthy rich sugar daddy.

Case in point:

Emerald-cut sapphire arch basket ring, carat total weight 26.30; round brilliant diamonds, carat total weight 1.62. Platinum. $195,000

How much do I love the "quantity" box?

Um, darling, two please. But if not, these are only $8,750.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Kiss on the Hand

As part of a research assignment I had the pleasure of visiting the Harry Winston Jewelers website - and ooh, what a treat! I associate Harry Winston with Marilyn Monroe and Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a fairly modern website with nice films, pretty pictures and interesting functionality.

There are no prices on the website, and as the old saying goes "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." But a girl can admire pretty things. And print them out or email them to friends. And then visit for a handmade piece of beautiful.

Monday, August 20, 2007

For My Friend Jennifer with Hugs

A big meow for Jennifer's beloved Snickers who is playing in the great catnip patch in heaven. There is no adequate way to say "I'm sorry" to someone who has lost a pet. For those of us with "cats not kids" the furry monsters/furry angels are a continuous source of joy and love and devotion. So fare thee well Snickers Angel, send some love down to your people.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tyler's Ultimate Enchiladas? Yes Indeedy!

Yesterday when I sat down to make my shopping list I turned on Food Network. Tyler Florence's show Tyler's Ultimate was just starting so I let it become my background noise as I figured out what the house needed (which was a lot.)

Thank God I looked up, because Tyler was making his Ultimate Enchildas - and damn if the boy wasn't right. The enchildas are his take on the Mexican classic. The roasted tomatillo salsa was the best I have ever had. I'm very pleased since it was the first time I've ever made roasted tomatillo salsa!

I love to cook (and Food Network is on in my house all the time) so frequently I'll watch someone make a dish on Food Network and think "that looks simple enough," only to have to slog to the finish and be happy I didn't burn my hand off. Watching Tyler make this dish I had the same reaction, but the preparation was as easy as he made it look. I didn't have time to make the homemade black beans and yellow rice, but I served the dish with local fresh corn - which has been spectacular this year.

I can't wait for the leftovers at lunch.

Tyler's Ultimate Enchiladas: Highly Recommended

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Joy of Joy: Little League Edition

The first game of the Little League World Series kicked off with an amazing win for the team from Walpole, Mass.

With two outs in the bottom of the final inning, Walpole outfielder Mike Rando (holding ball) robbed the team from Hamilton, Ohio of what would have been a game-winning homer.

That is pure, unadulterated joy. When is the last time you felt that - and ran to your friends to share it?

(photo from AP via the Boston Globe)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Buy Me That: I Must Have Those Shoes!

Yes, shoes again. This time from Saks Fifth Avenue. Their website is decent, but the Nordstrom site is superior in it's photography and navigation. I planned to present shoes from Bergdorf Goodman, but the product photography is inconsistent (and not very good in some cases) and the shoe page is quite clunky. Bummer.

What I liked from Saks. *Please note, I am awarding Bill Green Memorial Crazy Points for all of these shoes based on price alone. Beauty is beauty, but crazy is crazy. You can put that on a t-shirt. No don't - I will.

Christian Louboutin - Lady Strass V-Strap Sandals. Extra crazy points awarded for having the balls to price these gorgeous sandals at $1,225. I love these shoes, but at that price, I'd rather strap a pair of iPhones to my feet. At least I could get weather.

Salvatore Ferragamo - Embossed Slingback Pumps. I love these shoes. The classic simplicity would keep these in my closet for many years.

Giuseppe Zanotti - Pony Platforms. Crazy delicious. I would love to walk into a meeting wearing a quiet little suit with these at the bottom. I'd probably fall off the 4¼" heel, but I think it would be worth the risk.

Dior - Logo pumps. Mama likey.

Brian Atwood - T-strap patent leather pumps. I don't know where to begin in my love thoughts for these shoes. Burgundy. Patent. T-Strappy. Yum

Marc Jacobs - Frayed Peep Toe. I don't usually go for random bric-a-brak on shoes, but these really speak to my soul

The following items have been rejected by the review board (me) and marked as dangerous to my sanity.

Christian Louboutin - Very Prive Platform Pumps. Sale on cork? I'm guessing pushpin earrings will follow.

Gucci - Dahlia High Heel Platform Mary Jane. Hideous but popular based on the warning: DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND, A CUSTOMER MAY ORDER NO MORE THAN THREE UNITS OF THIS ITEM EVERY THIRTY DAYS. With a smaller platform I could almost like these - as is, grease up the stripper pole.

Miu Miu - Spazzolatto. Oh how I love that name. What is with the ankle wings? Let me answer my rhetorical question: The ankle wings are to irritate the crap out of anyone who wears them. The ankles wings should come with a warning label: May cause wearer to think they have walked through cobwebs, are being clutched by a small bird or been grazed by poison ivy.

Chloe - T-strap Mary Janes. In a word, no. In more words - these are the FUG.

Fendi - Suede Platforms. Like a hovercraft for your feet! Only ugly!

Yves Saint Laurent - Naked Kiss. With Anna Nicole no longer working the red carpet, who will wear these shoes? Pam Anderson perhaps?

Dior - High heel clogs. Really, are we still making these? Why?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Welcome Surprise of Kindness

Tom and I spent the wee hours at the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital with T-Bone the cat. Two weeks ago, T-Bone was diagnosed with asthma and at 12:30am he experienced a severe attack. Who knew cats could develop asthma? Not me. That's T-Bone in the oxygen tent/incubator at 3:00am. Note the Barney fleece blanket provided by the hospital.

T-Bone received excellent care from the entire staff at the MVRH in Woburn. Loads of thanks to Doctors Jennifer and Katrina for the kindness and attention, as well as all the technicians who provided care. Yolanda at the front desk was a sweetheart for allowing us to say "goodnight" to T-Bone (and snap a pic in the incubator.) The orange boy came home this evening, very tired, a little wet (he got a bath) and missing all the fur on his stomach from prep for the ultrasound.

Beside the emotional trauma of trying to take care of a creature who can't tell you what the problem is, today I was showered with kindness by friends and co-workers.

Many readers know I make jewelry at Moda di Magno, and my extended clan of nearest and dearest at work also know. So today I reached out in a bit of a panic. I swallowed my not inconsiderable pride and sent an email to my "regular" shoppers (how regular you ask? They have collections named for them) and announced a one day "buy one get one free" sale to post bail for T-Bone help pay the vet bill. This is the bill after last night's bill and the bill from two weeks ago. Ouch. The care T-Bone received was worth every penny, but giant unplanned expenses bunched so close together are a budget killer.

My friends and co-workers stopped by my desk in droves and purchased lots of jewelry. Now I am in the strange (and happy) place of recognizing the kindnesses extended to me, for not only did some of my friends purchase jewelry, they rounded up purchase amounts to "help the cause." Which has made me utterly and completely weepy right now. Today I am a lucky, thankful & extremely grateful girl for good friends and a cat on the mend.

My friend Charlie added a little something for T-Bone too - a Save T-Bone donation cup taped to the front of Cube Mahal.

T-Bone having his supper (at home finally) while Badcat pretends she doesn't know who he is and circles him sniffing.