Thursday, May 27, 2010

In the spirit of Capri

"If I could create the island of my dreams, I don't believe I could improve on one that already exists. I mean, of course, Capri. Everything about it appeals to me."

Pamela Fiori

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! We're off for a long weekend on the fabled island of Capri - more on the destination and the trip when we return!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Object of my affection: Jingle, jangle, bangles!

A lady can never have to many bangles: plain bangles, decorated bangles, enamel bangles, bejeweled name it.  Preferably in gold, and even more preferably with diamonds. 

I actually received my first two gold bangles from my mother-in-law, and they were her own.  Soon after, I had my arm unfortunately slammed in a door, and so one of them bears a bit of a war dent across one side, but now it's more of a mark of distinction.  The next bangle came from my husband, a delicate filigree design direct from the gold souk in Jeddah (it wouldn't have survived the door), given to me as a bit of a "thanks for waiting for me" gift while he was off on post to the magic Kingdom.  And then two more were given to me on my wedding day, also gold but this time with a light pattern from wedding guests and delivered straight from Iran.  I hadn't been expecting them - as I hadn't been expecting any jewelry on my wedding day (save for the ceremony band of course), but it's an Iranian tradition I took to warmly and it's how I acquired some of my most favorite pieces to this day.

I like to wear the bangles all together since they remind me of family and happy occassions, but when the occassion calls for it I wear them separately as well.  I read once in an interview that Anjelica Huston collects bangles, and while she has nearly 70, she can remember who gave her each one and for which occasion.  It seems like a nice way to mark the passing of life's milestones, both big and small. 

The collection of bangles from Ippolita makes me want to add to the stack, but I guess I'll have to earn them!

All photos from

Sunday, May 23, 2010

London Calling!

On the road again, this time for a work trip to London.  As usual, I'm a few hours from departure and I'm reflecting on the laundry I should have done earlier in the weekend, but luckily, I've always got some office basics up my sleeve for a quick packing job (thank you, packing list).

Off to the airport in a few, and thought of this rather helpful do's and don'ts page from Derek Blaberg's new book "Classy", the modern gal's guide to looking, acting and speaking presentably.  It adds a modern touch to my earmarked guide of Emily Post's etiquette.  Most of these guides always tell you things that you should know naturally, but at the same time, there's something about the visual presentation in the Classy book that really helps things sink in.  There's a dignified way to travel - even in coach - and a somewhat less dignified way to travel.  Here's to traveling in the former.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Diplo-Style: Baroness Elsa von Schraeder

I'm not going to lie: "Sound of Music" is one of my all-time favorite movies (in case that didn't come through loud and clear yesterday).  Christopher Plummer, who plays the dashing Captain von Trapp was always rather hard on the movie.  He never seemed to be able to live down the fact that in all of his work before the movie, and the nearly 50 year career after that which included nearly every possible Shakespeare leads, Oscar nominated work and the like, he'll always be remembered for playing Captain von Trapp. Apparently he never liked the film, his character, his singing or any of the children, except for Liesl, with whom he spent his scenes flirting.  Who cares? He'll always be Captain Von Trapp to me.  I remember when, in my later years I watched the film and noticed how handsome he was in his white tie when they throw the ball in Salzburg, instead of merely looking like the old guy in the movie - that's when I knew I was getting older myself.

But enough about Captain von Trapp and his commanding, disciplined self.  Today's diplo-style tribute is to a much lesser, and oft much maligned character in the movie, the Baroness Elsa von Schraeder.  The Baroness is first brought in as the Captain's attempt at love after the death of his wife, and save for one nasty comment she makes about shipping the children off to boarding school, she's actually quite harmless.  When you're younger,  she's one of the villains - when you're older, you recognize the position she's in.  In fact, in my "later years", I find that her role is rather heartbreaking.  She's come across this amazing gentleman, who's just starting to open up, and it seems she genuinely cares for him, and then out of nowhere, some country upstart from the convent hops over wearing nothing but curtains and a guitar and steals him away.  And after losing the battle to Maria,  like a true Viennese, she takes the rebuff with the utmost poise and diplomacy in the end.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - things in Vienna change little.  And the truth is, most of the Baroness's ensemble's would look at home here in the first district scene still today amongst a certain crowd - and her ball gown would be appropriate anytime during the festival season.  After all, by her own admission, she did "have the finest couterier in all of Vienna". 

When my husband finally consented to watch the movie (he wasn't quite ready for the sing a long version,  but there's still time), a line of the Baroness's stayed with us and we use it everytime it's time go home discretely...

"Now if you'll forgive me, I must go back inside, and pack my little bags, and go back to Vienna where I belong."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Object of my affection: Summer Sandals

I had a blog all tee'd up and ready to go on sunshine - when I woke up this morning in Vienna, there were actually rays, tons of rays, peering through my bedroom window! I woke up, showered, and just had a chance to turn on the air and roll down the solar shades when the first clouds rolled into town...sigh...yet more rain...that's three consecutive weeks!

What's a lady in Vienna to do but think of sunnier days ahead (with a trip to the legendary Capri on the travel docket for Memorial Day, I'm guaranteed at least some light in my life!) and plan summer wardrobe choices.  I have an amazing friend in Washington to routinely pull together a seasonal lookbook - and while I always aspire to her example, my inspiration usually comes from objects that I pull together, rather than a cohesive look.

But cohesive look or no cohesive look, black and white will never let you down - I'm hoping these cute sandals from Kate Spade will make the cut !  Now all I would need is a cherry red pedicure....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

People actually live in New York!

This apartment recently caught my eye on House Beautiful (I know, I know, I promise I have non-apartment/house topics for you later this week) for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it's in New York and not completely over the top.  Second of all, it actually looks like "real people" live there (i.e. not the kind that only live in magazines, with nary a photo here and there and a pair of designer shoes strategically placed by the bedside as if they were just tossed off after the owner did a wall-to-wall disinfection treatment).  Third, it even looks like these people might have New York??

In any case, it's young and it's fun and it's something  - that were one to be prone to a globally nomadic lifestyle like some of us - could easily be picked up and moved without yards of chintz and tonnage of furniture.  I love the use of white space, peppered with colorful accents, bold prints used in  measure, and graphic design statements (as some of know, typography is my weakness). 

Enjoy! I'd move in in a new york minute....

All photography by House Beautiful.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spargel and Sunshine!

Finally! Sunshine is to be had! We were treated to a sunny afternoon in Vienna today - so I snuck out for a lunch break with an Austrian take advantage of the sunshine, we booked a table for the Albertina terrace,  run by the Do & Co restaurant and catering "conglomerate".

With the springtime comes the advent of the spargel (asparagus) season - and something to be celebrated both in Austria and in Germany, though I believe it's true across most of Europe.  In general, people are quite mindful of when fruits and vegetables come in to season, and in general, we typically don't find particular fruits and vegetables when they're not.  And for whatever reason, the notion of asparagus season has always stuck with me after having read Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" as a symbol of spring and warm days ahead - it really is the gateway to the bounty of spring, summer and fall produce.

All of the sudden asparagus pops up all over the menu here in Vienna - the purists eat it steamed with butter and breadcrumbs or hollandaise, sometimes with some steamed new potatoes on the side.  More elaborate dressings include ham, smoked salmon, or additional sauces.  And the even more complicated start to feature asparagus as a main ingredient.

Today at lunch I went the complicated route - after splitting a lovely but light appetizer of light fried artichoke hearts and salted piquillos, I ordered the asparagus risotto - topped with two grilled shrimp and crunchy parmesan.  That plus sunshine equaled a perfect afternoon getaway.

I almost didn't mind when it started raining tonight...again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A summer home...

Since I've returned to Vienna this week, it's managed to drizzle, rain, pour or hail at least once every day - if not all day.  Frankly, it's a drag.

So I've diverted my thoughts to summer days - and this house in the Hamptons seems to be the perfect blend of relaxation and simplicity.  I can't say I've yet been to the Hamptons - though I find the phrase "Hamptons Jitney" quite compelling (probably can't say it would be as compelling if I were actually stuck on the thing - i just like the word "jitney").   Things to still discover...

Check out the house below - nothing over the top and definitely no over-coordination - just simple whites, a mix of classic and modern pieces, and definitely a place to pull up with a nice aperol spritz after a day at the beach....

Photos from House Beautiful

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

A very happy mother's day to all - to help celebrate, here are a few images of some of the gorgeous bouquets that come out of Meredith Waga Perez's shop, Belle Fleur- if they only delivered to Vienna!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gone fishin'

So I actually haven't gone fishing, but as the last post indicated, I have been traveling quite a bit - despite several false starts due to the Icelanding Volcano...I promise, more from me to come soon now that I'm back!

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