Friday, July 31, 2009

Renewal, jewels and reinvention

Last night's book party/jewelry trunk show at Bethesda's Ginger was a hit. The store filled up with friends and fans of jewelry designer Suzanne Somersall and writer Cathy Alter, who was signing paperback copies of Up For Renewal, her account of how she rose from the depths of post-divorce bourbon-and-bad-boy hell to ... I won't give away the ending.  Only to say she did it by following the advice of women's glossies. Silly? No; it worked. Obviously. Life coach Stuart Schneiderman's blog  praising Cathy's book basically says, when in trauma, "outsource decision-making." Eureka! When last night Jane Pennewell appeared as though out of the pages of a glossy in breezy silk trousers, a billowy linen blouse and chic haircut, she looked so sharp, I had to stop sipping chardonnay long enough to ask, "Who is she? And, how does she know how to dress like that?" Easy: she's an image consultant Cathy interviewed for her recent Washington Post story "The Minor Makeover." Again, when in doubt, outsource decision-making. As it turns out, that's what Pennewell did. She says after tragedy struck her family and she couldn't/didn't want to get out of bed, a friend got her up, dressed and out--every day. Pennewell ultimately decided to stay up, reinvent herself and dedicate herself to helping people do the same. Hence the warm smile. Everybody has a story. Each provides a peek behind the cover and a chance to find new means of survival, which sometimes requires a little reinvention. 
Image consultant (right) Jane Pennewell with friend and client Ann Tognetti

Cathy Alter signs books and shows off snazzy shoes from Ginger

Cathy with friend and Ginger owner Gretchen Hitchner 

Jewelry designer Suzanne Somersall 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Present to Myself

Ok, it's been one solid week on South Beach (no, not the sandy one in Miami) and I've been a superstar. No cocktailing it up at events, no wine on the deck (well, not much anyway), nary a slice of white bread, cracker or cookie :). So I treated myself (anyway) to a splashy bracelet (just like my friend Zena's, only mine is green) I found at Be You Fashion,  a fab kiosk on Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda. The hats are fabulous; the purses unique and the jewelry is all about big chunky fun. This is Be You Fashion's first year at this location. Owner Marian Afia Ann says she's been at Eastern Market for three years, Montgomery Farm Women's Cooperative for two, and will be parked on Woodmont each April-October. Right now look for a huge array of big-brimmed, colorful hats some of which Ann designs and has handmade in Madagascar. 

My bracelet. It's like a small outfit.

I like this floral satin purse.

Hats range from $35-$45

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stiletto Strut 101

Impressed by Germans running foot races in high heels? (Click here for the video.) Humiliated by your Aunt Frieda, who at 80 can strut a heel much better than you with your undisciplined flip-flop-packing feet? Fret no more. Dr. Emily Splichal aka "Dr. Legs"  and the  Washington Sports Club have teamed up to save the day with "Catwalk Confidence," a fitness series to help show those high heels who's boss starting at the South Bethesda location July 29. No, I'm not kidding. The stiletto whisperer has created a workout incorporating balance and posture that helps you learn how not to do the ankle twist, the tilting forward but-jutt, the stutter step, the "arrghh, i'm in shoe hell and it shows" walks. Just put on your 4-inchers and learn to glide, baby glide. 

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Second That

As a subscriber to CityShopGirl I am privy to the site's deals and specials around town and want to share Friday's  "Deal of the Day." I checked out the "up and coming" designer Francoise Olivas' website and fell in love--gorgeous retro-y romance with a social conscience. The best news is that the up and coming designer is having a trunk show in Chevy Chase today from 11-5 at De La Ines Salon. Here's the scoop from CSG:

Up and coming NYC based designer Francoise Olivas, whose design resume includes a stint at Nanette Lepore, will showcase her whimsical designs.  Francoise seamlessly combines ‘traditional craft’ and ‘modern industry’ to create an innovative line of socially conscious and earth-friendly garments.  Her spring and summer collection will be 20-50% off, with prices ranging from $20-150.  She will also preview her fall collection and show one-of-a-kind pieces.  Trunk show hosted at De La Ines Salon in Chevy Chase on Sat. July 24 from 11-5.
De La Ines
5520 Connecticut Avenue, #3
Washington, D.C. 20015

Asking Amy at Eileen Fisher

Fans of flowing Eileen Fisher clothing flocked to Wisconsin Place last night to welcome the new store to the hood and meet syndicated columnist "Ask Amy" Dickinson, who in addition to writing her daily syndicated column (not daily in the Post) just came out with a memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville. In addition to Freeville, Dickinson spent time in DC, where daughter Emily, now 20, attended the Maret school. (Amy's dress was a fun homemade find from Georgetown's Christ Church Thrift Shop.) Local ties established, she then read from the book and recounted some misadventures while on her book tour, including - the fan favorite - her adventures with the crew on "The View." I had to know, so I asked Amy, "How Do You Know Everything?" She said mostly life experience, suggesting the answer lies in the book... Natch. She knows a lot; she's also a regular on NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!" The crowd loved her: the store was filled with mostly Fisher-clad women who after enjoying crab cakes and white wine left with full shopping bags, a copy of the book and a New Yorker, where Amy worked as a receptionist after college.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Took Myself to the Ball Game

Last night I passed up a chance to see Stacy London of "What Not To Wear" (could've kept her busy for hours) and instead went to the old ball game in Bethesda to relive quieter times in my now-bustling B-Town and see Bethesda Magazine editor Steve Hull throw the first pitch. And why not? As I found out, I'd happily stumbled into Big Train's "Sports Journalist All-Star" night, and in Bethesda that means names like Tim Kurkjian of ESPN, Michael Jenkins of Comcast Sportsnet, Brett Haber of Channel 9 and many more. Though Hull isn't a sports journalist per se right now, he did spend some time writing about his son's hockey games for B-CC High School, and he is a hockey player and former hockey coach - not to mention a Big Train game sponsor. After his opening throw (which was followed by a few others) we were treated to the national anthem as belted out by the big voice of tot singer Kaitlyn Maher of "America's Got Talent." As the game played on, the crickets hummed, the sun set, the announcer, radio show host Andy Pollin, interviewed the guest journalists over the loudspeaker. The crowd filled up on pizza, Chick-fil-A and Gifford's as kids wearing baseball gloves tried to catch memento foul balls and homers. This is as close as it gets to the best of small-town living in Bethesda. And it still feels pretty authentic.
Kaitlyn lets 'er rip

Batter up!

Mascot Homer works the crowd

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Up for Renewal Redux

On July 30 Gretchen Hitchner will turn her store Ginger over to her (and my) good friend Cathy Alter to celebrate the paperback launch of Cathy's book Up For Renewal. The book is Cathy's real-life (and very clever) portrayal of how she solved a definite lifestyle "slump" by following the advice of popular magazines, one mag at a time. The result is much more than a new life for Cathy--it's a hilarious, perceptive romp through a phase in Cathy's life that any of us who ever picked up a mag ISO of "a whole new life" or something/anything we could latch onto. I admit I'm one of those, and I loved the book (hardback version). We Bethesdans are very happy the party is right here at the fabulous Ginger on Bethesda Lane, where Cathy (who also teaches writing at Johns Hopkins) will be on hand to sign copies of  the book, hot off the presses with a brand new cover.  And if that's not enough, local jewelry designer Suzanne Sommersall will also be in the store to showcase her new "Barcelona" collection of fabulous fine jewelry., 301-229-4883

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yard Sale at Klaradal

Recessionista, fashionista, whateverista. Let's just call it a green, smart decision to recycle, sell what we don't want, and find what we do at prices that don't make us flinch. Join friends and neighbors at cozy Swedish home store Klaradal in Olney for their annual yard sale Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm. The store will have some hidden gems for sale (the store is open till 5). Customers will join in the fun with their own merchandise tables. There will also be baked goods and beverages for sale to benefit Hospice of Lancaster CountyContact Sue Kopperman at Klaradal for more details. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ladies Night Out for Garden Junkies

Color me garden-nerd crazy, but this kind of shopping night at Homestead Gardens this Friday sounds  just dreamy to me: a chance to get a free crape myrtle, myrtle bucks and to run amuck doing some late-night nursery shopping with local jazz band Project Natale playing live for my musical pleasure. A great chance to preview how that white, moon garden may actually look at night as well as a way to brighten up July's tired midsummer garden with a fresh blast of color. The Crape Myrtle festivities continue all weekend.

Monday, July 13, 2009

They fly through the air with the greatest of ease

When two good friends invited me to join them for a trapeze class, I said "Sure!" I was the kid with the shaky arms on the uneven bars who was completely traumatized after gym class. No matter. I took the pictures. Monday's trapeze acts by my buds Zena Polin and Kelly Collis Fredrick were totally off the hook. Zena started out with such trepidation she took off the harness and started heading back toward the ladder. But she calmed down and performed--due to the patient and capable instructors on the platform talking her down ( up in this case). Kelly was flying high right out of the gate. Co-founder Dave Brown instructed the "first-timers" around the low trapeze bar before they hit the big time. All 10 students were able to fly through the air; the final swing culminated in a "catch," where the students fly off the trapeze, clutch the hands of the swinging instructor who is swinging upside down on an adjacent trapeze and then hang from his very able hands. Real circus stuff. Kelly felt exhilarated. Zena was amazed. She went from having a bad case of nerves to thinking she would not be able to do it to executing a perfect catch. Amazing day, awesome instructors--Mary Kelly stands at the helm shouting instructions to each flyer for a solid two hours. Got a need for speed or an adrenaline rush? Sign up. Our class today was completely sold out.

Click here for the video.

MoCo Shops in Mexico

Before I headed to Mexico's San Miguel de Allende two weeks ago, I stopped in to Bethesda's Blanca Flor for a chat with owner Rigel Garcia about what to do/what to see nearby. Easy. Guanajuato and Dolores Hidalgo, the Mexico City native said. Dolores Hidalgo is an old colonial town, where Mexico won her independence from Spain and also the site of brightly painted talavera pottery. Those of you familiar with the sensational Blanca Flor  probably already know about 
milagros, talavera and especially fantastic silver jewelry. (Garcia is a font of knowledge and fascinating to talk to.) Once in Mexico my friends and I visited Dolores Hidalgo's JMB Talavera and I loaded up with as much pottery as I could carry in two big bags (and one large shipment). We also visited the nearby Mayolica Santa Rosa, where we watched an artisan throw clay pots on a  wheel and then into a room where two rows of artists painted each flower, fruit and bird by hand. Finally we hit the grande finale - a fantasyland for the pottery-obsessed (pictured above) - where we pored over an endless array of mayolica serving pieces, pots, trays and more.

Planter snagged at JMB Talavera

Friday, July 10, 2009

Red, White & Brut

Last night's French International Culinary Institute's fete at the Washington Club promised lots of Moet & Chandon champagne, samplings from our area's top French chefs, a chance to meet the kitchen gods themselves, art, a silent auction, a raffle for bottles of bubbly,  cookbook signings and did I mention champagne? And it delivered to a crowd who paid up to $75 a ticket. Chef Michael Chretien of redDog Cafe proffered his French/American mac and cheese featuring chevre and gorgonzola; Chef Patrick Orange of La Chaumiere had samplings of pate on crudite (light as air and delicious). He said his knee was bothering him--an old hockey injury from years of playing in high school--who knew? Chef Jacques Haeringer of my family special-occasion favorite, L'Auberge Chez Francois signed his cookbook for me while I dug into the tray of signature cookies at the signing table. All the food- basil vichysoisse, pate, macaroons-- was magnifique; the many gracious chefs, including Michel Richard of Citronelle and Central, Hugh Cossard of Food Expression and Peter L'Heureux of Cuisine Mondiale (to name a few) made  for a wonderful evening full of friendly toasts, art, food and fun. Vive le France!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

MoCo Movie Wonderland Style

This is the ultimate climax of fantasy, art and fashion for me: Tim Burton directing Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen (and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, but she's a little too sweetly off-topic at the moment) in Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland due to come out next year. Judging by these pics (and of course, the cast), I love it already. Alice in Wonderland was a favorite book of mine; Lewis Carroll inspired many hours of play. When I was young, I played Alice in Wonderland over and over; being little Alice filled me with a terrified sense of the macabre. Later Carroll's imagination fed mine to produce college essays. I can hardly wait to see what Stephen Fry does with the Cheshire Cat. I want to go see it right now.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tribute to Michael Tees

Today international superstar Michael Jackson gets a gigantic star-filled tribute at the Staples Center. But Jackson is the King of Pop. And though most of us (ticketless) fans who came of age with MJ will have to watch the LA celebration on TV, we can get the T-shirt right here from locally based company Crooked Monkey. Micha Weinblatt says in his company blog June 26, "Since news broke of Michael's passing I have been teary eyed and at a loss for words." But not for ideas. The master of the wicked double entendre quickly came up with four simple, hip T-shirts in homage to the great one - with V-necks, a first (two pictured above). Straightforward sentiment from Crooked Monkey, another first and an aesthetic winner. Hot off the presses for both men and women July 6. (And, for those of you not familiar with the Crooked Monkey website, the animated logo monkey has long been doing the moonwalk to "Billie Jean" when you click on the speaker.)
BTW: CityShopGirl subscribers get 20% off the shirts through July 15.
They print my message
In the saturday sun
I had to tell them
I ain't second to none
from "Black and White"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Faux is fabulous too

Ok, where else?? Target of course. Yes, Target. I know all of you secretly shop there, even those who don't come right out with the fancy Tar-jay speak. I saw these cuffs at the Rockville location and did a double take, mouth ajar. Enormous sparkly "stones" set on a rich copper background. I also love the chunky charm necklace above to the immediate left of the cuffs. Prices? $59.99 per cuff; the rest start at $14.99. Also spotted: Bliss Spa (of NYC finally opening in DC ) founder Marcia Kilgore's new Soap and Glory line, including a peachy creamy body butter ($14.99) even more butterlicious than its $30 fancy-name counterpart. Kilgore joins other celebrities making products for Target. Next trip I go on the hunt for celeb stylist Ted Gibson (new salon in Chevy Chase) hair products who has been selling a line in Target stores since January.