Saturday, February 28, 2009

mardi gras revelry...

Spent this year’s Mardi Gras at the real home of the celebration, from back before New Orleans made it famous (and a bit trashy I have to say), Mobile, Alabama. An old colonial town that was ruled by the French and Spanish during its early days, Mobile could have been the oldest city in the United States, surpassing St. Augustine, had it not been for a vicious hurricane that wiped the town away in its early years, forcing it to be re-founded at a later date.

My favorite part of Mardi Gras is not the parades or the beads, "Chattanooga" Moonpies or King Cakes- it is a Sunday street party that I never miss full of steaming oysters, bloody Marys and chic ladies in pastel suits and stilettos. The sun always seems to shine on this party, put on by a parading organization that was founded in the 1860s. Party goers enjoy fresh seafood, cocktails, and jazz from the Excelsior band, an ensemble also founded back in the 1800’s. The day was perfect.

I found among Cerulean’s new Spring accessories the perfect clutch for such a fabulous party- the yellow and green beaded clutch shown at right. While it might seem an obvious pick for a sunny Mardi Gras Sunday, I also love it worn more casually. Picture it this spring with white jeans, gold ballets and my chocolate brown safari jacket. Very chic, just the right pop of color to wear with all my browns and neutrals. You’re going to see this clutch pop up often in my wardrobe as Spring turns into summer… keep watching!

Friday, February 20, 2009

the lost art of letter writing...

I was surprised to find, this week, amid the stacks of bills and junk that usually clutter my mailbox, no less than four hand written thank you notes. While it is not completely uncommon to receive thank you notes these days, it is less frequent an occurrence, for sure. Four in one week was an anomaly. Was I just that wonderful to people? I don’t think so. One was for a wedding present (I sent months ago…), one was a birthday gift. The things I did to deserve a thank you note were completely unremarkable, and yet those hand written messages from friends near and far really does make you feel somewhat… remarkable. Special. Someone took the time and their very own hand to write words just for you. The words are not fleeting, they are permanent. These four little notes leave me a little bit sad over the lost art of letter writing.

I was once a proficient letter writer. My grandmother who lived three hours away and I would write back and forth every few weeks. Of course, each of my letters was neatly returned to me with red markings up and down (she was a former high school teacher, so you can imagine), but I cherished the special feeling of receiving each letter, and of sealing and stamping each one I sent. Computers and cell phones have replaced the letter, and I am sure we are the better for it. Or are we?

After all this pondering, a package arrived at the doorstep of our Cerulean headquarters, filled with the most beautiful hand made letterpress stationary, all neatly packaged in printed gift boxes. What timing! Before these gorgeous boxes of paper could make it to our stock room shelves, I had to reserve one box for myself so I could try my hand at letters once more. I don’t think it’s too late to revive this art form. Now if everyone gave a box of this beautiful stationary to someone they love (and its perfect for the person who already has everything!) then each of us would surely get a beautiful handwritten thank you note in return, and we would have then done our part to revive a beautiful tradition of hand written letters! While I plan to use every last notecard in the set to write something special to friends and family, the box just looks gorgeous sitting on my desk in the meantime. This set puts the “art” back into this “lost art”.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

cuba by way of nolita…

We at Cerulean travel the world looking for the newest, most unique, or most exquisite items possible for the pages of our catalog and website. These travels often lead us to New York, epicenter of design and fashion for the US. When in NYC, there is only one restaurant we can not pass up. Every trip, without fail, rain or shine, regardless of the long line or any other deterrent, we hit Café Habana.

Nestled on a quiet corner in the Nolita neighborhood, Café Habana has been serving up home-style Latin food with unique Cuban and Central Mexican accents for two decades now, and it is unforgettable. Modeled after the famous Mexico City diner with the same name, this family-run home-style hangout features a sleek metal diner-style façade and a retro interior. Sip on Mandarina Jarritas or Horchatas while you wait for the luscious grilled corn with cheese and spices, the huevos rancheros, or the tortas (sandwiches) with chorizo and beans. The atmosphere is enticing, the clientele perfect for people watching, and the ceiling glows a bit, thought we can’t figure out why. Maybe it’s from the energy of the place???

Speaking of energy, you can feel good about your carbon footprint when eating at Café Habana or its sister outpost in Brooklyn. Owner Sean Meenan strives to make his restaurants Eco-Eateries- restaurants that use earth-friendly practices in their design, construction, and day-to-day operations. This jewel box of a restaurant is packed day and night, but its worth the wait every time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

inspiration: the sartorialist...

Style comes from inspiration. And nothing will inspire you to try something new like seeing the coolest girl in the world rock the look down the streets of New York, or seeing the most elegant outfit slip into a waiting car on the street somewhere in Europe. You get inspired to try that look you’ve always wanted to achieve, or motivated to experiment with a new style. The Sartorialist recreates these moments for you, online, simple and edited, with everyone from the street removed except that one inspiring person. The Sartorialist describes it as what “real people (really cool people) are wearing in real life.”

Selected as one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Design Influencers, the Sartorialist is the only place to get inspired without leaving the comfort of your home. “I thought I could shoot people on the street the way designers looked at people, and get and give inspiration to lots of people in the process. My only strategy when I began The Sartorialist was to try and shoot style in a way that I knew most designers hunted for inspiration. Rarely do they look at the whole outfit as a yes or no but they try and look for the abstract concepts of color, proportion, pattern mixing or mixed genres. I’m really touched when I get emails from everyday people who say they have been inspired to see themselves and others in a new and usually more accepting way.” Be sure to get your dose of inspiration today...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

maharaja’s tent…

Two of my great friends (and possibly the two most intriguing people I know) had me to a little birthday soiree with a Chinese theme over the weekend. As importers of fabulous trinkets, jewels and furniture from the world over, but namely China, Marty & Rex entertained a bevy of close friends in their mid-century gas station-turned Chinese antique emporium.

The room was glowing red with twinkling lights and red curtains, Moroccan glass lanterns and tea lights, but the centerpiece was the handmade Indian tent they had erected in the center of the old mechanics bay. The simple and clean white cotton canvas exterior revealed a stunning printed ceiling as you stepped inside. Scalloped edges and hand-tied tassels adorned the sides, and lanterns hung from its ceiling. It was the most glorious little world in that tent- perfect for a patio or courtyard at your home, or in the middle of a field transformed for a gala or wedding. If your yard is lacking, you need one of these amazing tents to spice thing up.

I also caught a glimpse of an amazing all-white tent specially imported for a wedding, complete with a hand-embroidered inner lining in whites and creams with tiny pieces of mirror inset into the embroidery. Stunning. It even had coordinating lanterns that hung from rich cords and tassels inside.

When I came home, I looked again at my dismal courtyard and have decided that a maharaja’s tent is exactly what is needed to create ambiance for my little cocktail parties. Want one too? Each tent is special ordered and hand made, so it take time, but the beauty is it’s made to your exact specifications. Size, even shape, color and detail is all dictated by the buyer (but Marty has fabulous taste if you don’t know which direction to head, so anything she picks is a winner). Mine will, not surprisingly, be all white on the exterior but have rich indigo blues and jade greens, with tassels of cerulean blue, of course!

Their website of amazing import goods is coming soon… Email Marty and Rex for info on ordering your own maharaja tent!