Monday, December 28, 2009

Love :: Needlepoint Paperweight

This is the first product of my new needlepoint hobby -- a paperweight for my brother the potter. I have always liked needlepoint, it's so full compared to cross stitch, which was my needlework of choice when I was little. Everybody did cross stitch in Raleigh. Cross stitch or french knotting (natural cotton yarn on natural cotton fabric, of course).

My appreciation of needlepoint stems from the ability to create whatever design I choose -- whatever I design. This design is from a pottery bottle that my brother made about five years ago. I created the design and counted it out on a blank canvas. This was a Christmas present -- a big hit!

Needlepoint has always been big in the trad set, and recently a lot of places have been offering needlepoint accessories, but I could not bring myself to buy a needlepoint key fob with an American flag motif that was made in Vietnam. American flag or no, it just soured me. Is that weird?

So, being one to take matters into her own hands -- this time, quite literally -- I asked my friend from Minooka to show me how to make the stitch. I'm working on another top-secret project... reveal soon!

Friday, December 25, 2009

One More Good Thing About Christmas

Says it all!

Merry Christmas from a Happy Santa

Merry Christmas!

Love a little sparkle on Christmas! Happiness to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Monday, December 21, 2009

Love :: Christmas Show at the Music Box Theatre

Every few years a friend will suggest the Music Box's Christmas Show, and I always bite. It's a great way to enjoy the holidays in Chicago!

Walk in to the Mediterranean-inspired theater, blue painted skies, lanterns, tiles and even a fountain. This is an old-school theater. There are twinkling stars on the ceiling of the main theater and clouds are projected as well. Though my friend thought there were fewer stars than in the past, and the clouds were a little sloppy. The ante-lobby is all decked-out for Christmas --

In line with all the people in Santa caps and reindeer antlers you enter the main theater lobby, where members of the Chicago Chamber Choir sing carols next to a huge tree.

I went for the double feature -- White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life -- which I had never done before. I'm kind of a White Christmas girl -- "the best things happen while you're dancing," they say (though there are parts about knights on white chargers that make me a little ill). But, my friend suggested the double feature, and I was game. I only saw It's a Wonderful Life for the first time about ten years ago, and I don't ever really watch it, so it's still fresh for me.

Between shows photos of Chicago Christmases past are projected on the screen, courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. There were some great ones. This one is of ladies making holiday wreaths --

There was also one of a horse-drawn snowplow! And the Christmas shoppers on State Street looked amazing similar to today (save the outfits, of course). They were laden with packages.

Before each movie, those carolers from the lobby would come in and sing a couple of tunes with the organist (remember -- old-school theater) to warm up the crowd. And after "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is over -- if we sang loud enough -- guess who comes out!!

Santa leads the whole theater in song, with the carol lyrics projected on the screen. Some of these lyric pages look like they are from 1968. And people bring sleighbells to jingle as they sing.

My personal favorites are the parodies -- there was a song to the tune of "My Favorite Things", and "I'm Dreaming of a Chicago Christmas", which reminds old-timers and regales the newcomers of Field's windows, Frango mints and Uncle Mistletoe (and here), as well as memories of when the Berghoff served a meal with care -- ouch!

At during this last carol, a snowstorm is projected onto the screen, and the movie starts. The sleighbells are reprised when Clarence gets his wings!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Festive Magnolia Garland with Fruit

Loved seeing this building today! You can't go wrong with magnolia and fruit. And check out underneath the arch! And on a quiet side street to boot.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Darling Christmas Clementines

Clementines, gold ceramic partridges, crystal candlesticks and deep green candles. This is what I've been working on. What do y'all think?

Clementines at Christmas is something that I learned here in the midwest. In North Carolina, we did cloves in oranges* -- I love this! It's what my Mema used to do, and it seems like something I would do here, but thinking about my poor little fingers being stuck by those cloves, well, ouch. And you'd be surprised how long it takes to make those little guys. So, clementines it is.

I'm not a big fan of Christmas-y holiday stuff, either... you know, the kind of things that you can only pull out 30 days of the year. That in no way means that I don't have a few Christmas-specific items -- I have a ton of vintage ornaments, um... in the basement. I think it's much simpler, elegant and economical to find beautiful things that you can use year-round. Between vintage haunts and new places, you can find really great things for a song. And just like an article of clothing's price per wear, an objet's "price per display" goes down dramatically if you love it and can use it more than once a year.

Natural decorations are great -- if I need a snack, just reach into the display. Refill as needed.

Here it is with day lighting --

*If you're being fancy, it's a "pomander".

Festive Color and Type

The person who dreamed up the type on this Chicago elementary school deserves a gold star!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Love :: Holiday Wrappings

Christmas wrappings are a fun as Christmas cards, and ever since Martha Stewart put a glitter monogram on a present, it's become a wide-spread hobby, even.

So -- there is something to be said for a pretty present. My rule is that you can't spend too much time. It's important to have a little kit of papers and especially ribbon (satin is my favorite). Some little tags are good too. I like round paper key tags and above you can see a deep red Crane's place card with a white border is doing the job quite nicely. But really, it shouldn't take more that five minutes to wrap. Just show a little love.

And here's a little nugget that I just heard today:

The S&S sisters' mother used to sign the tags on their Christmas presents from their celebrity crushes. Imagine being a twelve-year-old girl and receiving a guitar from Rock Hudson!

Talk about charming -- I'm thinking of trying this. Mastering the Art of French Cooking from Meryl Streep? Brilliant.

Happy wrapping!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beat to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks

You've heard of "Go to Hell Pants", right? Well, this is my "Beat to Hell Pocketbook". This gem is a vintage Coach bag, in the saddlebag style. It has some patina on it, let me tell you. And that's what makes it great.

The color is what really sold me on this bag. The plum color is a staple of my fall/winter color palette, and the depth of the color is incredible. Your eyes just drink it in.

Check out the cracking on the strap. I'll probably try to give it a little TLC, but not too much. This bag has been around, and I like to keep it looking that way.

The hardware has just the right dullness, too. And check out the little feet --

Paired with my Tyrolean hat, that killer lemon-yellow cardigan, and aubergine scarf and chocolate cords, we're ready for a casual afternoon of holiday toddies with Mr and Ms Fab and the crew* --

*most of "the crew" need At The Meadows monikers. The editorial staff is hard at work on it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christkindl Market in Lincoln Square

Last Saturday -- yes, late post -- was the Christkindl Market in Chicago's Lincoln Square, a traditionally German enclave on the northside of the city (Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Lawrence and its environs, if you're really wondering). There is a Christkindl Market in Daley Plaza (at the Picasso) as well, but I thought this would be more real -- and local is good.

Lincoln Avenue was beautiful, decorated with lots of twinkling white lights --

Merz Apothecary is a health and beauty wonderland! Homeopathic remedies, European skin care -- Lord it is good.

At Chicago's Brauhaus, they polka all night --

Once inside the tent, everyone makes a beeline for the food. Apple strudel (really good) and Julius Meinl coffee (it's Austrian, but whatever).

The band was great -- Captain Blood Orchestra (though I say "CBO") rocked 60s and 70s pop. Always a good show. Saw Mr and Ms Fab there, too.

And there was pretty spiffy fashion among the fleece and Uggs --

Love her hair with this plum scarf and hat.

I took this for the crowd -- and that fur hat in the center.

Nice hat! This guy was dapper.

And here's some more local flavor for the close --

Frohe Weihnachten!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Have This Outfit

No, not the one Kenan Thompson is wearing -- the one on the mannequin in the background. Imagine my surprise to see it on my screen while catching this weekend's SNL on hulu. Actually, I picked up the dress for a song last year -- I wonder how long it's been sitting in a prop closet at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Also, they were throwing around "Prada this" and "Prada that" in the skit, but that dress is not Prada -- or Saks for that matter. Works with the color story, though. Makes me think it should get debuted at a party this holiday!

Catch the skit here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New York Elves Are the Coolest

God bless Simon Doonan. I love that he's become this spokesperson for Barneys. Love the get-up -- especially the Milton Glaser's I *Heart* New York rebus logo in green-sweatshirt form (probably intended for St. Patty's don't you think?).

By the way, Barneys does not qualify as a "haunt" -- if you got it at Barneys, just say so. The lady at Privilege does (great blog by the way, go see).

If only Simon Doonan the Cranky Elf would add me to the list --

Monday, December 7, 2009

Agh! First Real Snow

Not what I wanted to see this morning. Please scroll down for today's real post --

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Brunch Downtown

Quick Interjection :: I wrote this whole little post about clothes and this and that -- but you know what? It's not really about the clothes. It's about color. The color you bring around with you all day, wherever you go.

Back to our regularly-scheduled post:

Actually, I love all these pieces. This is the kind of well-oiled ensemble that I really get into (you know what I mean -- it works and wow).

I have acquired quite an extensive wardrobe of hats, but I really want them to be wearable -- I'm not so much into the vintage for the sake of being vintage concept. And one of my goals this year is to wear them. Really wear them. This gem is a black velour felt cloche with cute little unaffiliated crest -- which I like. Nary an RL, TH, etc to be found. Love the velour "feather" element too.

Paired with my kilt, acorn bracelet (signifying my love of the City of Oaks), a fab muted green silk square and a cream coat --

Red lips and of course the much-discussed manicure -- and voilà! Ready for a day of Michigan Avenue hustle and bustle!

And after a day of dodging shoppers, lunching, visiting, and a final cappuccino, out into the cold night to find this --

The Christmas tree at the Hancock Center.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Love :: Christmas Cards

Christmas cards and holiday greetings are one of my favorite parts of the holidays. It's not an every day occurrence to have your real mailbox fill with warm greetings just for you. Usually only birthdays and weddings garner such in-the-mail attention.

However, the actual cards are always a bit of a challenge, as I am always drawn to high-quality materials and design (preferably custom), but -- especially now -- budgets are definitely an issue, particularly because I tend to err on the "send" side of things if I am on the line of sending a card to someone or not (one has to have an end to her list, right?). Inevitably, my card list is a very long one -- happily so!

Usually, I scour shops for good cards at a reasonable cost. I've never done an actual photograph of myself on a card -- it seems pretty self-indulgent -- but I think it's wonderful for families with children. Everyone wants to see how much they've grown!

This year I decided to try something new. I designed my own card using one of the online quick-print (digital printing, not offset) sources. And, save their website name on the back of my card (ugh!), I think it worked well. The linen paper was a bit of a stretch for me, but it has had a bit of resurgence of late -- in a kind of retro, ironic way -- but I was happy to have an uncoated paper option. And the best part is that I designed the card myself and uploaded it -- so what you see here is no template -- all Esse Quam Videri. Even a special ligature on the "ME" in "Merry".

I do print my name at the bottom, but for close friends, I slash it and sign, as you would a calling card on a gift. And I always write or print the year. Another great perk of designing your own -- your very own sentiment (and monogram, if you choose) --

Time to get those cards out! I hope I can still get my favorite stamp! Off to the P.O.!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Debut :: What's That -- a Tribble?!

No, no -- no tribbles. Just a fab gray ostrich feather folly. I love gray and yellow together. It's so bright and sophisticated. And it keeps my vintage black and ivory striped blouse from making me look like a bumble bee (though it's more of a lemon yellow). Today I had a lunch date with one of my favorite people -- an old colleague of mine who can talk the talk about old-school design. I'm serious about design -- design makes life better (and more delightful). I thought I'd add some dash to my personal sartorial equation for today's luncheon.

And here are the luxurious red fingertips with my latest fave vintage bag -- black suede flat bag with buckles on the handles. Check out the pleated ruffles on the cuffs --

And yes, shoes too -- I got these a while back, thinking that they would be a nice -- comfortable -- heel for holiday. Today it was 50º here in Chicago (crazy-warm for December 1), so I took the opportunity to debut them as well. This whole bang-up technicolor ensemble is definitely inspired by this layout -- I love vintage graphic, billowy silk blouses. LOVE.

This would make a great holiday look -- going home to see the folks, laden with presents to give. I'm glad Ms Fab convinced me to get the gray tribble -- much better than the black.