Wednesday, December 31, 2008

celebrating the holidays...

Happy holidays from cerulean! It has been a pleasure being a part of so many memories-in-the-making this holiday season. As we wrapped each present and shipped it off to its recipient, we have no way to know the many stories that will be told and the memories made from all the gifts exchanged and the packages sitting on doorsteps. The beauty of the internet is that showing you care about the people you love is only a click away! We have enjoyed helping you celebrate this holiday with your loved ones!

As for my gift giving, rest assured that all the women in my life received lovely little items purchased overseas in foreign marketplaces, or from artists turned textile designers, or from the newest accessory designers. Everything under my tree is wrapped in the signature Cerulean turquoise tissue that always puts a smile on people’s faces around my house!

With a new year upon us, and thus the obligatory New Year’s Eve celebrations, I am already envisioning glistening clutches and sparkling accessories for a memorable night on the town. Click here to visit our how to wear section, where we outline the best accessories for any festive outfit this New Year’s Eve! I will be attending a Joie de Vivre- Night in Parisbenefit at an art museum that promises to carry on until the early hours of the night while we dance amid sculptures and paintings galore to bands and DJs, one after the other. Never one to be underdressed, I have picked out the most fabulous Grecian column and am accessorizing it with long dangling Indian Earrings. Here’s to fireworks in the New Year!

But what are all our fabulous Cerulean customers and friends doing to ring in two-thousand nine??? One of our dearest customers is whiling away the hours in sunny Key West at the Marquesa hotel, where I had one of the best dinners of my life several years back. Another friend and great Cerulean supporter is dancing the night away as we speak in some club in Jordan- who knew? I just got a text message that the New Year has already rung in the Middle East. Still others are in New York, and Santa Fe, and Paris, and places closer to home.

Let us know where you are spending YOUR New Year's Eve!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a page from your travelogue...

One of our favorite Cerulean customers shared photos of a recent trip around the world trip, beginning with a romantic weekend in Paris and ending with a relaxing stay in several locales across Thailand. You might see Cerulean accessories in a few of the pics we are sharing- sandals, sunhats, shimmering necklaces and pareos from our stock were packed along with sumptuous scarves and wraps to cover the temperature swing from snowy Paris to steamy Thailand and back! Enjoy the images as we all dream of being there, too!

Monday, December 15, 2008

westward ho part III...

Part III:
Stayed the first part of the trip at a cozy bed and breakfast run by an adorable young couple- the perfect place to lounge by the massive stone fireplace while it snows outside and sip wine or maybe something warm. But better views and deluxe suites began to call our name, and we made our way up the butte to Amangani, a luxury resort right outside of Jackson Hole, for the remainder of our stay in Wyoming.

The Aman Resorts are all over the world- but only in exquisite natural locations and always with less than 30 suites. It was quite an upgrade from our quiet inn, now having expansive views of the snowy Tetons from every window. It was perched precariously on a rock face some 1000 feet above the valley floor and featured glorious architecture that perfectly melded rustic lodge with mid century modern. The service was impeccable, the food was delicious, and the company exciting. Let me just say that a very well-known British couple who loves soccer and stilettos enjoyed the lobby fireplaces next to us last night.

It was more difficult than I can describe to leave my corner suite with fireplace and cocktails on call to get in the car for the long drive home. Why is it that a road trip sounds exciting before you set out, but seems miserable on the way home? Should have planned ahead. I think most guests leaving the Amangani do so on their private plane, but the trusty Volvo awaits, along with almost 2000 miles.

Visit Amangani at

Saturday, December 6, 2008

westward ho part II...

We arrived to a Jackson Hole with no snow, fell asleep at our cozy bed and breakfast (where we are the only guests! Fantastic!) and awoke to a fresh blanket of snow. Just enough to do all the winter activities I had hoped!

We first headed out on a hike through freshly fallen snow- the first to blaze the trail- among picturesque Aspen trees under an amazing view of the Teton Mountains. I later went show shoeing through the Old Teton Pass, closed in the 60's when they built the new road, and saved for hikers and cross country skiers. Downhill-skied at a resort in Idaho with fresh powder snow and hardly a tourist in sight (ahhhh). I have a feeling the winding, iced-over road to get there is deterrent, but it makes it more pleasant for the rest of us! All in all, enjoying fresh air, sunshine, snow, and amazing gourmet food at every restaurant we try. What’s not to love?

I have to say, some people seem to think enjoying the out-of-doors and looking great are mutually exclusive. I disagree. Check out my new fur-lined trapper hat I have been wearing all over the mountain. Staying warm never looked so good! (humble, huh???)

Friday, December 5, 2008

westward ho...

We did it, as promised… an adventure. I woke up at 4 am yesterday and loaded the car with all kinds of gear to begin a cross country expedition. I love road trips and something about the new snow falling out west began to call me.

As my little Volvo wagon was pulling onto the interstate at such an un-godly hour (my body was not meant to be awake before the sun has fully risen) I instantly flashed back to a road trip of my youth. I was 7 years old and my entire family was loaded into my mom’s mini van as we set out for New Mexico and Arizona to deliver my brother to some back packing expedition during summer break. As I sleepily but excitedly sat wrapped in a sleeping bag on the back seat, I heard my dad say to my mom that no one on the road at 3 am was up to any good. I’m sure this innocuous statement was referring to the possibility of drunk drivers on the road, or kids joy riding looking for some trouble to get into, but my seven-year-old mind took the statement literally and became convinced that EVERYONE driving cars at 3 and 4 am was evil. I looked out the window and nice men on their way to work at some early shift, convinced they were robbers, pirates and worse. The statement my dad made has always stuck with me, and it crosses my mind to this day every time I get in the car really really late or really really early. Funny how kids seem to hear everything and never forget.

Back to the adventure at hand… 30 hours worth of driving through America’s heartland on my way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While this long of a road trip may seem like torture to some, to me it is a time to relax and breath fresh air, see interesting landscapes and get to know new states. The wide open expanses and emptiness of Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming are amazing and beautiful. Every big-city dweller should be forced to make this drive just to see that the world does not revolve around their way of life (no offense meant, as a former resident of that New York City myself, but it has to be said). As we crossed a small crest in the landscape somewhere in Kansas, a wind field opened before us, perfectly dotted by an army of enormous wind mills. What a fascinating site, but encouraging about the resourcefulness of America. Tiny red lights blinked in unison on the tops of each slowly turning wind mill to warn passing aircraft. We would continue to see these fields as we crossed the west, and I am transfixed by the sight.

As the sun sank over the horizon last night, the landscape turned into a ridiculously beautiful, Bob Ross “Happy Painter” type picture. The land tuned to a black shape and the vivid sky lit up behind it in a display that makes you feel the strange urge to grab a paintbrush and capture the scene in some cheesy painting on black velvet. I see why those people make that horrible art! If I had to look such an amazing sky every night, I would feel compelled to do the same.

I promise, this is not a shameless plug for Cerulean products, but this morning as the sun rose over the Colorado prairies, the sky became an exact replica of a scarf we are selling right this minute. Pale golden yellow shifted to a light turquoise and I was struck. I don’t have a picture of the sunrise, but you can see the scarf by clicking here. Its as close as I can get you. (and its now on sale!)

We arrive in Jackson Hole tonight and I will bring you more tales of adventures in the snowy west as the week goes on!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

the best part of traveling is coming home...

While we spend our time in pursuit of travel, the holidays simply make you want to go home. Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like a crackling fire, gusty cold winds outside, and something warm and full of spice in the oven. We spent our Thanksgiving Holiday with family on the coast, and I am always amazed at how empty the summer homes are during the colder months. Why do these people who frequent their homes all summer long skip out on one of the most beautiful times of the year at the beach? Walks on the beach are more enjoyable when there is no one around and the waves are crashing under a gray sky. Fires made of driftwood crackle with a warm glow and bonfires on the beach welcome family and friends around cocktails and grilled food.

Of course travel is always the hot topic of conversation when family gathers, and I love hearing people recount their recent adventures. It inspires me to try new places, see new things, and catch a glimpse of the times they’ve had. After a few tales from my uncle of float plane take-offs that were near misses, or heard the spices of the middle-east described in delicious detail, or learned the proper way to prepare conch fritters when there isn’t a full kitchen in sight, I am motivated again to head off on an adventure.

Stay tuned for where it will lead…

Saturday, November 15, 2008

coastal tidings ...

Cerulean is proud to have our products featured in the pages of Coastal Living’s November and December issues! We love Coastal Living’s readers- they seem to be right in line with our way of thinking here at Cerulean. In fact, everything about Cerulean is inspired by the water. Our name and our colors- beautiful turquoises, teals and royal blues. Our products fit right in at a coastal town or on vacation somewhere tropical. Water is a part of who we are and from where we come.

Growing up on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, in a quiet town called Point Clear, Alabama, the water became a part of me, as seems to happen to anyone who lives an extended period of time near the water, no matter the coast or country. Spanish moss hanging from ancient live oaks, warm shallow water and old wooden boast is the vernacular of my youth.

Years later, I worked on Worth Avenue, just a block from the ocean in Palm Beach. With sunny days, palm trees, breezy attire and bright colors, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the sea even more. That time in Palm Beach is the single greatest influence of the Cerulean style. Overlooking the plethora of fancy cars and enormous egos, Palm Beach had an abundance of sunshine and nature that becomes addictive.

You can see that the coast is a part of us, and we are thrilled to be included in the bible of coastal culture, Coastal living!

Monday, October 20, 2008

rock n' roll fever...

Stayed over at the Hard Rock Casino last night, and as I was walking in the door I suddenly wished I was dressed a little edgier, a bit harder, more rock n’ roll. How was it that simply pulling on that door handle in the shape of a guitar made me dying to know how to play one? How was it that one glimpse of the denim, platform boots, lycra and leather in the framed boxes, each outfit worn by a different rock icon, could make a person want to change their entire style identity in a split second?

Perhaps it was the cool guys with faux-hawks and wallet chains that park your car, or the black lit elevators playing classic rock ballads, or the idea of an entire casino full of people who might rock and roll all night, and party every day. I looked in my suitcase (an adorable Jane Marvel bag- decidedly NOT rock and roll) at all the tunics and things I had brought, searching for something that would capture the rock and roll vibe I was feeling. I settled on a black dress and stilettos, adding heavy eyeliner to at least help me feel like I fit in.
Then all of this got me wondering- while it’s a fun thought to completely transform your style in a moment, surely there are ways to channel those amazing rock icons without loosing yourself (or your own sense of style) in the process! For example, would Janis Joplin wear the stacked, clanging bangles by Alex and Ani (see images above), or could my glittering Toms shoes be inspired by the disco ball of Studio 54? There is no question that drinking my whiskeys from a black tumbler with a skull and cross bones makes me feel bad. But when I want a touch of edginess that won’t detract from my lady-like look during the week, I can carry a black snake print bag with gold hardware, and subtly show my inner rock star. A mini dress covered in metallic overlay, or a studded thong sandal will definitely keep you cool without becoming a costume. Focus on adding accessories with just a touch of edge to the personal style you have already made your own. You will feel the new vibe and your outfit will be a hit.

Monday, October 6, 2008

lyon, france...

Traveling through France at the moment, in Lyon meeting with a 100-year old silk manufacturing company- pure heaven. Working in an old Renaissance-era building surrounded by meters and meters of vibrant, luscious silks is my idea of a hard days work. While there, I cant help but think that the “new part” of Lyon, and many cities across Europe, was built before the United States even existed!

The metro system in Lyon is clean, modern and efficient, but today I found myself standing at the bicycle kiosk, wanting to join the ranks of local Lyonaisse riding the town on free city bicycles. (This incredibly successful program is also done in Paris- hundreds of bicycles are kept at kiosks across the city, and for pennies you can take a bike, use as needed, and return to any other part of the city. And on the whole, the people use the program correctly and respectfully!) After too much time attempting to translate the details of the program with my less-than-poor French, I gave up, unable to discover if or when I would get my rather large deposit back. I decided to save the bike riding for another day just as a chic you girl- unfussy but elegant in a way only the French women can accomplish- locked her bike back into its spot.

As a traveler, as a rule, I try to appear as far from a tourist as possible. This visit, however, I couldn’t help but be drawn to those typical clichés of an American in France, and be completely amazed by it all. The beautiful rows of baguettes for sale in straw baskets, the stacks of meringues two feet high in the windows of every patisserie, the endless unique flavors of the French chocolates, the wine. Oh, the wine!

I was headed to dinner at a traditional bouchon- think the birthplace of French cooking, but with an emphasis on strange cuts of meat- and wouldn’t you know it! It begins to rain. No shops were open and not an umbrella man in sight! You know those mysterious men in New York City who seem to stalk the Weather Channel reports, and then pop out at just the right moment, umbrellas in hand, on every street corner. They price gauge their wares to relieved tourists and locals caught unawares. Well… where were they? None to be found in Lyon, I’m afraid, nor any cabs. After a drenching jog over the Saone River to the vieux ville, or old town, I tucked into a salad Lyonnais with warm, soft poached egg over fresh lettuces with warm lardon. Heavenly and rustic. I found myself eating alone (traveling alone), but was thrilled to be out of the rain and enjoying the Lyonnais cuisine. Directly across from my solitary seat was a large portrait of an early Renaissance man in full, white pleated collar looking directly at me from the sides of his eyes, smiling, and toasting me with his glass of wine. I lifted my glass of cote du Rhône (being in the Rhône valley, of course) and toasted my dining partner back. Bon appétit!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

inspiration - equestrian...

There are very few tv shoes that I simply have to watch- very few that seem worth the time. Why watch other people living in exciting places and doing exciting things when we should be out there living our own life, right? Well, Mad men is an absolute exception to this style of thought. It is addictive, inspiring and fabulous.

If you have been living under a rock, Mad Men is a 16-time Emmy nominated show about a New York ad agency in 1960 – 62. The clothes are inspiring, the sets are insanely authentic, the storyline is riveting, and the cigarettes and cocktails are plentiful.

I happen to be especially obsessed with the riding attire of Betty Draper, wife of the protagonist. During the first season, she was a bored housewife, sure her husband was cheating on her (which he was) and struggling with her place in the world. By season two, the now-confident Betty has taken up English riding to fill her time, and she dresses like the Queen of England meets Jackie Kennedy.

As a lifelong rider myself, I am jealous and dumbfounded at the pristine, put together attire she wears when riding. Not a hair out of place, not a smudge on her shirt. Cashmere, silk scarves and gorgeous wool coats accompany her blond hair so perfectly coiffed under a velvet helmet. Perhaps they had grooms back then to do all the dirty work, but I am constantly amazed and intrigued by her attire.
I actually have in my closet a piece of riding attire from a by-gone (and more glamorous) era. A dark green pair of riding breeches was passed down to me from my grandmother and I have saved them for years. Of course I couldn’t fit into them even at the age of twelve (I blame it on over-zealous vitamin taking at an early age, but I am twice as tall and broad as any of my female ancestors), but I will always save them and their ridiculous but wonderful balloon hips and leather knee patches sewn by hand sometime after 1910.

Betty Draper looks as chic away from the barn as she does in the saddle, with floor-length evening gowns, full skirts and fitted dresses always a part of her wardrobe. If I could only look as chic in the saddle as Mrs. Draper, let alone on the streets, life would we as swell as it seems on Mad Men. Someone get me a martini and a cigarette…

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Marrakech, Morocco...

(Guest Travelogue entry submitted by John Wilson, owner of Medina Baskets, and a Moroccan importer extraordinaire)

"Arriving in Marrakech by air from Casablanca is always a thrill. The city lies in a valley at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, and though it is twice the size it was when I started going in 1984 it is still a beautiful place surrounded by orange and olive groves.

As soon as I get into the old part of the city, called the medina, I am taken back to another era; an age before cars and cell phones. The smells are intoxicating and the light is exotic, especially toward the end of the day when the shafts of light angle through the shades placed above the narrow streets to deter the harsh mid-day sun.

One of my favorite things to do in any part of Morocco is just wander through the serpentine streets, drinking in the experience as a passive observer of their lives. In contrast to most of America, life is lived in the streets. Children play, old men sit and watch the world go by, and everyone is very present to the next moment. They are not hiding in iPod-world. They are out there and watching, looking for the next moment to unfold.

Eat at the big square, sit in the cafes, get slow roasted lamb (mechoui), visit the royal palaces, and of course shop in the souks. Bear in mind that bargaining is fun and should not be seen as an insult.

Above all, love the people and the Arab culture, which values heart, family, friends, health and happiness above all other things. We have much to learn."

Thanks John!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

gone to the dogs...

Cerulean announces its first foray into the world of doggie paraphernalia, featuring all kinds of goodies by Charleston, South Carolina based Harry Barker (isn’t that cute!). With a bevy of items for the pampered pooch, including towels in the shape of dog bones, treats in delicious (and whimsical) flavors, and tennis balls in fun colors, you are sure to find the right gift for your friend who loves their dog or your own furry friend!

Harry Barker only uses quality, all natural ingredients in their treats, so you an be sure to feel good spoiling your pet with cheese grits or country bacon flavored biscuits. But the best endorsement we can give???

Cerulean mascot extraordinaire, Julep (pictured below), gives them two paws up! When the box arrived to our offices the other day, the seal had barely been broken before Julep came tearing through the halls with her nose twitching back and forth. The smell of treats seeping out of the tin, packaging and cardboard box and made its way to her little nose as she slept in the other room. We’ve never seen her so excited (nor is she known for having a very talented nose, so we are really saying something here). She taste tested a few treats and definitely approves! Now just uttering the words Harry Barker make her sit up and beg!

Our favorite pampered Scottie dog, Milly, loves her pink trim bone-shaped towel after baths (which she hates) and swimming in the pond (which she loves). Doesn't your dog deserve better than your leftover, torn up towels? If they are truly pampered, they sure do.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

a cerulean world...

Cerulean was presented with a very special gift by one of our long-time customers who adores our fun accessories (especially the Toms, she says!). Little did I know that you could customize a box of Crayola crayons, but low and behold, I opened a big box of 64 to find nothing but the color cerulean, my favorite crayon and part of the inspiration of our brand!

As a child, and artist in the making, I adored the cerulean crayon in the box of 64 above all others (it didn’t come in the smaller boxes). When you picked it up, it didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary- almost a royal blue. But, oh, when you drew, it was vibrant and exciting and entirely unexpected. This became my fall back crayon-of-choice, and the thought has always stuck with me.

As an adult, the color reminds me of so many (slightly more sophisticated) things. As our mantra states, cerulean is the tie that binds exotic locales from across the globe, from the skies over Patagonia, to the waters off the coast of Thailand, the front doors of casitas in Mexico and the headdresses of the Moroccan sheiks. Cerulean is the color of languishing beside tropical waters, and of pangas and Moorish tiles.

It will take ages to go through all 64 crayons- expect some notes in your next shipment, hand written with none other than our new cerulean crayons!

Monday, August 25, 2008

daily bread...

I’ve been back and forth to New York TWICE! in about as many weeks- so much has happened! So much time spent in airports, taxis, and cafes mulling over what fantastic things to bring to the pages of Cerulean for Fall. And as frequent traveler, I have a singular mission when away from home- make every meal count. There is nothing more tragic than to waste an opportunity to experience local cuisine when traveling somewhere exotic, or somewhere that simply has a lot of amazing food to offer! Like the time I visited Costa Rica, only to see Americans lined up at a KFC… don't even get me started.

While I try to fully live this mission every time I travel to New York City, making sure to hit my favorite restaurants and cafés, or to try a new place or sample some ethnic fare, work often keeps me from lingering over meals or traveling to far flung neighborhoods for that certain bite to eat. But now this problem is solved in the form of Le Pain Quotidien. I can guarantee even meals on the go are worthwhile when spent here.

A chain (I know… but trust me) of bakery/ eateries originating in Brussels has come to the US and now has outposts in most every NYC neighborhood. No matter what part of town I may be in, I am surely within walking distance of a Le Pain Quotidien, or if not, its worth the walk.
The original idea was simplicity itself- simple and inspirational food based around bread with only three ingredients (water, flour and salt). Le Pain Quotidien offers great tasting food, prepared naturally and organically in a European café setting where each restaurant has a communal table. As they say, it is sharing of time and space with other people in the restaurant that adds to the experience (although there are individual tables for the squeamish). Sit next to locals or travelers from afar while you sip your tea with rich organic honey or enjoy a tartine (French open face sandwich), wine or coffee. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you are never far away from a worthwhile meal. One the go or whiling the day away, I feel like I have made the meal count when at Le pain Quotidien.

Le Pain Quotidien has locations all over the world- click here to find the closest one to you!

Friday, August 1, 2008

marvelous traveling...

Traveling for the average person these days is anything but glamorous. After you have spent your last dime on gas to get to the airport, you wait in long lines, pay even more money to check bags, get strip searched in security because you were somehow red flagged, find a seat at your gate amongst thousands of weary travelers and shovel down some over priced, refried bit of nasty food… well, you all know the drill far too well, I’m sure. Why can’t we all just fly private jets???

Alas, there is hope for us commercial airline passengers to salvage some glamour out of what has become a nasty experience. And the glamour is delivered by none other than Jane Marvel, herself, in the form of totes and carry on luggage with a luxurious feel (and an amazing price tag).

I experienced all of the afore-mentioned hassles on a recent trip to New York (searching out more spectacular items for the pages of Cerulean’s web and catalog… all coming soon), but my Jane Marvel carry on luggage kept me feeling like I was walking above the fray, somehow more ladylike and luxurious than the other weary travelers. Jane has thought of everything, from the pvc coating on the printed fabric for extra durability, to interior pockets in all the right places, to sizes that fit in the over head bins and prices that don’t make you scream. A bit of “first class” luggage at “coach” prices??? Keeps me flying high every time I travel…. All the bags will be arriving in September so stay tuned.

Above is a snapshot of my sneak-peak Jane Marvel carry-on, the Puddle Jumper bag in Night Sky print with orange handles.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

cerulean waters...

I’ve been dreaming of cerulean waters ever since we returned from the Abacos a few weeks ago, unable to shake the Caribbean from my shoes. One charter flight and a quick boat ride later, we were quietly sunning on a beach without another human being in sight. Ten days full of dark rum, fried conch, exploring underwater reefs and isolated shores is enough to make any person forget the office, chores and bills. I came home without braided hair, thank heavens. My Cerulean uniform for days on the beach included Matta pareos, Dolce Vita thongs in every color, Moroccan straw baskets, and Susan Hanover jewelry- all pieces that went from casual days to breezy candlelit nights. We dove for conch, found shells bleached by the sun, and danced in the rain at a bar you can only get to by boat. If only Cerulean could expand its headquarters, opening a Bahamian outpost….

Sunday, June 15, 2008

lucky you...

We are thrilled to be gracing the pages of Lucky Magazine online this month! Six of the top fifty must-haves for summer come from Cerulean. Are you surprised? We adore anything that is perfect for sunny days on the beach and sultry nights dancing poolside. If it is unique and exotic (not to mention affordable), we are gaga. Click the image to the right to view the round up for yourself (Cerulean’s items are circled in… what else… turquoise).

Click here to be directed to Lucky Magazine's website...

palm beach...

Warm weather has arrived in most places across the country, and for me, it is welcome. There is nothing like the first few weekends spent with the sun on your face and pale winter skin exposed, soaking up rays. Its fabulous. This morning the breeze was blowing just slightly with a cool tinge to the air, and I was transported back to the time I spent living and working in Palm Beach. I know… who WORKS in Palm Beach, right? Well some of us work for a living.

There is something so fabulous about the winter months in South Florida, as you and several million other tourists and snow birds all know. While massive parts of the country are snowed in and frigid, living without sunshine, there are some people fortunate enough to be at the beach, to be strolling under bougainvillea trees (they grow into TREES down there), and wearing white out of season.

The time I spent in Palm Beach had a direct impact on my personal style, cementing my love for floaty tunics and coral costume jewelry, and it has therefore inspired all the lovely things we offer you at Cerulean. Next time you are perusing the pages of our wares, imagine yourself strolling down Worth Avenue right at the point where it meets the ocean, and you have a hot (perhaps somewhat older) date waiting for you at Taboo, and a suite at the Brazilian Court overlooking the inner gardens. That’s how we imagine ourselves, and its worked so far.

(the courtyard at the Brazilian Court)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

from afghan marketplaces to bahamian hideaways...

I got an email today from a dear, good friend who is a marine serving in Afghanistan. He wrote to say that the base had invited all local Afghan craftsman and merchants to bring their wares to the military base for a bazaar. What I wouldn’t give to be there, shopping the jewelry, textiles and crafts straight from the hands that made them. I have no doubt that my friend, wonderful as he is, would not have imagined that you and I would go crazy for the bangle bracelets, embroidered slippers, cut glass lanterns or lapis necklaces to the extent that we do. He would never imagine we would want those items so badly! If I were only there, amongst all those soldiers, I could get incredible crafts and exotic accessories for us all! On the other hand, if being there means I have to buzz cut my hair and don cargo pants, (not to mention become a marine- notice how its all about hair and clothes with me…) I will pass. I am eternally grateful and incredibly proud of my friend and his fellow soldiers for the honor they do us all by serving. I just wish there was a way I could get them to become my import agents and ship these gorgeous crafts back home for Cerulean! Here’s to dreaming of Afghan marketplaces…

At the same time as I’m reading his email, I’m planning a trip to a remote island in the Bahamas (I know- lets get out of this heat by escaping to… some heat), but I’m having a hard time rationalizing a trip that wont allow me to bring back something fabulous to share on Cerulean. The Bahamians aren’t exactly known for their craftsmanship of leather goods, for example (shortage of pasture land = shortage of cows = shortage.., well you get it). Nor are they known for crafts, jewelry or art. Hmmm… how will conch fritters and rum travel??? I suppose, though, a respite along tranquil cerulean waters isn’t that much of a stretch if you study my mission statement closely. Even if I can’t bring back a piece of the islands to share with you at home, I’m sure I will have plenty of musings and Bahamian color to share on this travelogue. I will let you know how it all unfolds.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

passport dc...

Matt Lauer concluded his “Where in the World” series today, traveling to five countries in five days. Grueling, but a team of producers, reporters and staff make the trip easier, as Lauer lands and hits the airwaves with all the info he needs. (That corporate jet to take him from country to country helps, too)

Now you, too, can have all of this excitement, adventure, and world travel without the jet lag, airport security, or passport. Thanks to an organization called Cultural Tourism DC, the Embassies of the world are opening their doors to you and yours for an unprecedented behind the scenes experience. Meet the Ambassadors, wander around their stately rooms, witness dance, art and local culture, all without leaving the United States. (I guess that’s not technically right, as each Embassy’s ground is technically their home soil… but you get the idea). Spanning two weeks and 5 continents, this amazing cultural experience will broaden your horizons and allow you to escape on a world tour without worrying about those ever-worsening exchange rates.

Some highlights of Passport DC include:

- Tango lessons at the Argentine Embassy- yes you!

- Drum presentation by one-man-band Okyerema Asante from Ghana who plays 85 instruments and has performed on three world tours with Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon

- Café de Paris serves up pastries with coffee and champagne at the French Embassy

- Peruvian Artisan Marketplace will be selling handmade jewelry, alpaca accessories, traditional pottery, tapestry, and wood and silver pieces

- A live steelpan performance of Calypso music attheEmbassy of Trinidad and Tobago

- Port wine and Portuguese custard tarts served at theEmbassy of Portugal

- Tableau Flamenco at the Spanish Embassy

- and my favorite… The Embassy of Pakistan will turn its courtyard into a traditional Pakistani marketplace featuring antique and modern jewelry, Pakistani dresses, cuisine, and a Henna artist

You will notice all our recommendations seem to center on food, beverages and shopping, but really, is there any better way to get to know a culture than through your stomach and your wallet? Visit the link below for dates, times and all the info you need for some world travel!

Bon voyage.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

train travel...

I will get the rare chance to travel by train this weekend, and am wishing it was so much more common a mode of transportation for Americans. Why is our rail system so under used?

My first experience with a train trip was as a child, traveling in Europe with the entire family. I will never forget it… after flying into Paris for the Christmas holidays and spending a few days, we were traveling to Strasbourg on the German border for some snowy days exploring the town. In preparation for the trip from Paris to Strasbourg, I was allowed to go to a traditional French patisserie and buy provisions for the entire family. I bought what any young girl would buy when presented with breads and treats of all sorts- tarts. The most gorgeous strawberry and raspberry tarts with a shinny glaze and pistachios dashed here and there were tied neatly in a white cardboard box with twine. I carried the box like a treasure to the station and held it carefully in my lap until we were allowed to open it.

The train was as exciting to me as the tarts. My entire family found a box to ourselves with two bench seats facing each other and a door to close it off. I thought surely only princesses traveled like this, in private boxes on romantic trains heading through snowy fields. I had no idea the entire train was made of boxes, and to the locals, it probably signaled an old, out of date train. To me, it was heaven. As soon as Paris faded into the distance and the snowy white fields opened up ahead, I was allowed to untie the strings on my delicious package of pastries and share them with everyone around. To this day, French tarts make me think of an exciting voyage- a romantic means of travel.

My travel this weekend is slightly less romantic- DC to New York City- but will be a break from the usual hustle and bustle of airport security, turnpikes and interstates. I can open a book, have a coffee, and take in the scenery. It’s like stepping into another place, or another time perhaps. Here’s hoping that one day we all travel this way.

I’m taking the new chocolate leather carry-on for this voyage. Here's what's in in the bag below…

Scarf- I never travel without a scarf. If its chilly (or dirty) or I need a pillow, it cant be beat. It also adds a bit of flair to my outfit when I step off the plane or train looking less than perfect.

Tunic- Nothing is more comfortable for traveling than a breezy, loose tunic. It covers, its comfortable, and its oh-so chic. I’m wearing this one from Virginia Johnson with my denim trousers for a casual, comfortable, but polished look.

Flats- I never travel in heels. Whether hoping on a train, schlepping through security, or dragging a suitcase in and out of taxis, chic flats are the only way to go. I love these snakeskin ballets.

Chocolate Leather Carry On- This gorgeous pebbled leather bag holds everything I need for a weekend trip, plus all the amenities needed for the actual traveling. Essential interior pockets keep me organized and keep my smaller items from falling beneath mounds of clothes. An optional shoulder strap helps out when I get tired, too.

What’s in the carry on?

I’m never without my moleskin diary, perfect for jotting thoughts, keeping track of phone numbers, or sketching new design ideas for our emerging line of dresses. I also keep a beverage on hand. I’m addicted to Orangina (its so refreshing!) and the glass bottles keep my conscience happy with all the news of the perils of plastic bottles! I reuse it by filling it with water to drink, or with olive oil to serve at parties. I’m bringing along a big stack of Cerulean Spring catalogs for all my friends I will see, and the latest book I’m reading, Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I might be the last woman on the planet to read this best seller (things have been busy lately, ok?) but nothing is better than a good book about not just travel, but a journey.

Happy travels.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

the open road...

Driving from one state to another over the weekend, the sun was shining, fresh spring grasses knee high were waving along the side of the road, and the medians were filled with clover. It makes opening the sunroof an obligation, really, and upbeat music, necessary. While my weekend jaunt was nothing exciting (except for the beautiful day), I was reminded of two amazing road trips I’ve taken in my life and I couldn’t help but reminisce and ponder the wonder of a good, long stretch of road on a spectacular day.

I once drove the long trek from the Southeastern US all the way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was blown away by the ever changing landscape on that trip and have never forgotten it: lush trees throughout the Southeast gave way to low lying lands across Arkansas. Then the sky opened up and the land streamed out for miles through Oklahoma and Kansas. We stopped for the night at the ranch of a friend a few hours outside of Denver, where the small pasture in front of the house was 500 acres. We then made our way through the wide canyons and dusty fields of southern Wyoming. Every American should have to drive across the country at least once in their life, just to see it, and hopefully be moved.

I also will never forget my summer of road trips throughout Australia behind the wheel (on the other side, remember) of a white 1972 Mercedes coupe. She was gorgeous, we called her Betty. She had a cattle guard on her front bumper- a occupational hazard for many cars in Queensland, as crashes with kangaroos will tear up a car (and can be fatal) if you collide with one on a dark stretch of road. But Betty was gorgeous, steel bumper cage and all.

I drove every highway in Queensland, from the dusty outback lands to the jungles of the coast. We hit every stop from Surfer’s Paradise to the massive cattle stations hours from civilization. We changed Betty’s tires too many times to count, as rocks on unpaved roads proved too much. We even dipped down into New South Wales and crossed the great dingo fence- an actual fence built across thousands of miles to control the dingo population. We crossed it at the top of a mountain on an unpaved road, and you literally have to get out of your car and open it to pass. We crossed one lane bridges where you can’t see the other side, and too often made turns onto the wrong side of the road (its harder to catch on to that driving on the left thing than you’d think!)

All of this is to say that you learn so much about a place by hitting its roads and spending time behind the wheel, stopping here and there to get a snack and shake a stranger’s hand. It’s not as quick, and perhaps not as glamorous, as some other means of travel (i.e. a private jet, which you won’t see me turn down, either) but you come away from the trip a bit wiser when you let the journey reign as important as the destination.

tell us where you roadtrip...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

shoes, shoes, shoes...

I have an obsession with shoes. While I have battled this addiction from an early age, the days spent working in the shoe industry brought my obsession to gargantuan proportions. Imagine being surrounded day in and day out with glorious shoes- stacks of them toppling over your desk, each one encrusted with jewels or flowers or ribbons or shells. Exquisite shoes made in Italy with the finest leathers and the most elaborate adornments became a part of everyday life. How fabulous can it get… I even spent a good deal of time in Italy working with the factory, overseeing fit models, sorting through thousands of colors of baby-soft leathers from some of the top suppliers in the world. You come to recognize quality, fit, and the ideal cut of a shoe- traits moving beyond color and adornment, down to what is most elemental about a shoe, and what really makes a good one stand apart from the rest.

While I have a closet full of stiletto heels with every form of adornment imaginable from those lovely days working in New York, we at Cerulean seem to be obsessed with flats and that is what you find on our pages (web or catalog). I have one very special pair of “flats” in my possession that I thought I would share. Cerulean’s favorite world traveler extraordinaire brought me these incredible shoes from Pakistan a few years ago. Handmade in a Punjabi village by a local artisan, the tomato red leather is hand embroidered in various shades of oranges with pink and black. Fantastic pom poms adorn the Minaret-shaped tongue and silver rivets add decoration. The leather sole was nailed on with small brass tacks and the lining is absolutely perfect and supple.

They come no where near fitting my foot, nor would I wear them if they did, but rather have them as an objet to look at every day. My two favorite features are this: each shoe came stuffed with a packet of home-dried potpourri of unidentifiable flower petals possessing a smell with a definite spice, and the sole of each shoe is inscribed with Arabic handwriting, which I am as yet unable to translate. How amazing to have some Punjabi Artisan’s handwriting on the soles of your shoes, perhaps telling the story of the shoe, or of the shoe maker's life. Maybe it curses the silly girl who buys shoes to watch and not to wear. Either way, when we are able to translate, I will let you know…

tell us about your favorite 'souvenirs' from a trip...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ready for our closeup...

When the call came in recently that some photographers wanted to shoot our offices for a magazine, I did what any girl would do- get in the chair of my favorite stylist for the entire afternoon of the shoot and get glammed as much as possible. While sitting there being pampered with glosses and conditioners, treatments of all kinds, I had a sort of flash back to a hair experience not quite so pleasant, and I had to share it.

A few years back, a friend and I were in London on a girl’s trip full of shopping at Selfridge’s, perusing stacks of Liberty fabrics, and usually a few too many Guinness’. One day over a lunch family style at Wagamama (amazing noodle bar- must try it), my friend mentioned that she had found the Vidal Sassoon Academy, where all the best students of hair learn their trade. The best news is you could get cuts from these geniuses-in-the-making for pennies. We made appointments for the following day.

While waiting for our appointments, they make you fill out a short questionnaire, similar to the one you fill out as a new patient in a doctors office, but instead of family medical history and past procedures, they want to know of past procedures of another kind: how often do you color your hair, how often do you get it cut, styled, by whom, how much, and on and on. I never knew my hair had such a history. The final question asked how much freedom you will give the Vidal Sassoon student when cutting your hair. Will you let them go wild? I, of course, said no way, while my friend replied, why not?

She was the wiser, here. By not being daring, I was stuck with the beginners of hair school, just now learning to trim and blow dry for the very first time. My darling dresser didn’t speak a word of English and took an hour and half to blow dry my hair. I think she must of done it one strand at a time. I ended up with the worst haircut of my life, and it took hours. The whole ordeal was more than I could bare, and I more or less told her to wrap it up and relieve me of this misery.

My friend, on the other hand, emerged stunningly similar to Gweneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors, with a short, bleach blond bob of phenomenal proportions. Her willingness to walk on the wild side landed her a spot in the advanced class, where stylists learned advanced tricks of the trade, and even some experienced stylists return for new tips.

The moral of this story, my dear friends, is not “be daring” or “walk on the wild side”. It’s to pay big money for hair styles from people with licenses. So there.

But back to our photoshoot… we pulled it together and were able to hide the usual clutter of shoe boxes, crates of accessories, bolts and fabric, and all the other fun but completely messy things that normally cover Cerulean’s headquarters, and convey a sense of order we seldom see. The only pictures we have at present are sans staff, but see below to get a feel for the place that gets our creative juices flowing, the place where we bring items from all over the world straight to you! Happy shopping!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

last minute getaway...

Spring is upon us and we all have the itch to getaway. If you’re looking for a last minute trip, but don’t want your average experience, visit Estancia Huechahue (pronounced way-cha-way) in Argentina. But you better hurry up- they close for the season in April.

A working cattle ranch in Patagonia, Huechahue is the perfect place to have that authentic gaucho experience. Four generations of family have owned this self-sufficient working cattle ranch and oasis in the middle of the Patagonian Steppe. This is not a place for tourists looking to ride for an hour- it’s a real, working cattle ranch, and you get to go along for the ride.

This rugged and wild retreat offers, obviously, horse back riding, fly fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout, relaxing walks, bird watching, pool and tennis, and a Jack Nichlaus golf course just 45 minutes drive away. The best thing is to take part in an authentic cattle drive, offered just a few times a year when the seasons change and the herds need to be moved. (no riding experience necessary, but you will get more out of the trip if you’ve at least done a bit…)

We love it for the rugged glamour, the gauchos in their berets and leather chaps, the intense aroma of meat cooking over an open pit asado style, and the complete peace and quiet.

One more reason to love it, as if you needed another reason- Huechahue is the epitome of genuine sustainability. They not only have a water driven turbine, home grown produce, and orchards galore, but they also plants all their own trees to use for firewood for heating and hot water, making the Estancia essentially carbon neutral. They implement natural grazing habits for their herds, and never use pesticides or fertilizer for the produce. They even choose riding trails in areas with soil stability- talk about going the extra mile. Huechahue says their sustainability rests not just on a love for the land, but on years of necessity due to the remote location! Call it accidental eco-tourism.

Visit their website to learn more about what they offer, and be sure to pack all your Cerulean gear- strappy leather thongs, sumptuous scarves, big totebags and exotic jewelry perfect for the jaunt southward.

Monday, March 10, 2008

dreaming of mediterranean marketplaces...

Last summer a friend brought me the most amazing straw tote bag from Tunisia and I’m obsessed. While shopping the fish market in La Goulette, which overlooks the stunning Gulf of Tunis, a local woman urged my friend to pick up one of these bags to do her market shopping. All the local women carry them like grocery bags- full of fresh fish, spices, produce and colorful handmade crafts sold in the market. As the most glamorous grocery bag ever seen, my friend snatched one up for herself and one for moi and brought them stateside where we have used them non-stop for everything under the sun- gym bag, beach tote, grocery cart, and oversized shoulder bag.

As THE absolute most complimented bag in my wardrobe (I have to apologize to every luxurious leather thing in my closet, but it’s true!) I have been dying to get over to North Africa myself and bring some of these totes home for those not so lucky to go skipping around the Mediterranean Sea.

The fabulous news is that I recently found an importer of North African goods who is bringing me these bags directly. A British ex-pat with a degree from Cambridge and a passion for North African craft and rustic Berber style is bringing three of the most amazing baskets to the States for Cerulean. The baskets are ecologically and socially sound products that are stylish and functional, according to our guy, and they are handmade in the villages of Morocco from palm leaf and water reed.

They've just arrived, and you don’t want to miss it. Add summer flair to every outfit. These baskets are rustic and un-fussy, but very chic and a bit exotic. You can honestly tell everyone that yours came from a Mediterranean marketplace, too.

Friday, February 15, 2008

fashion week, nyc...

Just back from a week in New York City, right in the midst of fashion week. The whole city was buzzing with catwalks, supermodels, beautiful clothing, celebrities sitting sideline, paparazzi, and black town cars full of ladies who lunch, fashion editors and buyers from all over the world. A real whirlwind. Cerulean was on it’s own mission to find something fabulous, the next wonderful little things for the pages of our website and catalog. While the goal was to find the shoes, clothing and accessories we will all be panting over this fall, and order up a few for our darling customers, we couldn’t help but pick up some great jewelry at amazing prices for all our fashionistas to wear right now. Shopping entire seasons in advance looses a bit of the instant gratification, so we found that fulfillment in the form of enamel bangles, coral and turquoise (over which we are always obsessed), dangly little earrings and more. And its all available on the web right now. The best news from New York this trip? Our amazing friends who import sumptuous fabrics from overseas sold us just a few yards of luxurious colored silk. Coming soon to Cerulean- a limited group of dresses that will be sure to set off that long Kenneth Jay Lane necklace you’re eyeing, or those silver leather sandals that will be perfect this Spring. Think dresses that will be chic and simple, can be dressy and casual at the same time. Hold your breath, we’ll release them soon…

Friday, January 25, 2008

places in southern waters...

While it stays chilly in many parts of the country (although less so around here this week…), the lucky few are enjoying warm sandy beaches and some sort of cocktail in places a bit closer to the equator. Two such lucky souls stopped by our place this week in route to southern waters. An old friend of the family and his adorable wife stopped into our quiet coastal town for some much needed engine repairs on their Cessna before making the leap across open waters to Long Island, one of the eastern most islands of the Caribbean.

What a pleasure to pass an evening over a long dinner, some Pimm’s cups, and a fire in the fireplace, with people who truly live the Cerulean philosophy, who spend every moment trying to see the world and experience new cultures. Having spent the last few months walking across England, staying incognito in the old quarter of some Mexican beach town, and skipping across the gulf to a port off the coast of Venezuela, our friends now find themselves heading to a port of call where pirates once roamed (and a few dope smugglers in the eighties…), but now some old salty dog rules the roost at the local marina.

A Cessna is a small plane, and thus luggage must be too, which goes completely against the Cerulean philosophy (which entails packing everything one might need for any occasion, including a ball gown in case a modern day James Bond invites you to an intimate black tie dinner aboard some yacht a’la Aristotle Onassis… it could happen). However, when circumstances require that you pack light, the Caribbean is the ONLY place to be heading. A few of Cerulean’s pareos, one good sunha
t, the perfect thong sandal, and some breezy cotton. Its all you really need.

Sadly, we had to send our friends on their way without any of the above, as we are not quite ready to open our doors. They invited us to jump in the back of the plane and join them for a long weekend of sun and mai tai’s, but alas, there are beautiful Cerulean goods arriving daily to our offices, and we stayed to await the pieces you will take on your next vacation. Stay tuned for our grand opening…

Below is an image of my friends Caribbean getaway... Long Island itself, and the glorious waters off its coast...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

san miguel de allende...

The four words on everyone’s lips lately seems to be San Miguel de Allende, and so my curiosity has made me do a little research and bring it out to you.

San Miguel de Allende (and that’s pronounced “a-yen-day” for all of those linguistically challenged) was named a national historic monument in 1926 by the Mexican government, before the US had caught on to the concept of preserving all that is amazing and historical. San Miguel sits high in the mountains and has a year round perfect climate. There is no off season, no bad time to go. With a perfect climate, a far away feel but only a few hours flight, and a dollar that buys a lot, it’s a great spot to unwind from the stress of our everyday, boring lives.

The altitude brings only slightly chilly nights, for which an exotic, silk pareo is a must for your bare shoulders. (click here to shop the perfect outfit for San Miguel) We are planning our own trip soon to check out the handmade peasant shoes that everyone talks about that can only be bought in San Miguel. Nothing will bring me to a port of call faster than the promise of shoes….

A page from designer Virginia Johnson's sketch book...