Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas & Joyeux Noel!

Vintage French Girls Magazine

Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noel!

(Yes, I will be hitting the after Christmas sales tomorrow!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Walkers' Nonsuch Toffee

Walkers' Original Creamy Toffee

Don't you love Christmas candy treats?

Looking back one of my favorite Christmas memories was going to Christmas Eve at my Grandma Margaret's (1910-1988) house and having her Christmas candy treats. I only recall her making candy at Christmas time so it was always special. I wish now I had helped her make it so I could have kept her Christmas candy tradition going.

I do have a little Christmas candy tradition of my own with English toffee. We discovered real English toffee travelling to England. Some years I make my own toffee for Christmas from a Martha Stewart recipe. Other years (like this year) I buy packaged English toffee.

Walkers Toffee
(complete with it's own hammer!)

One of my favorite English brands is Walkers' Nonsuch Toffee. They have been making delicious toffee in a little shop in Stoke-on-Trent for over 100 years. It is still a family run business, too!

My nephews love breaking the toffee with the little hammer that comes in the Toffee Break gift pack! The Toffee Break pack features four toffee flavors: original creamy, Brazil nut, famous treacle and fruit and nut. We love them all!

Walkers' Toffee Break Gift Pack

If you are like me this year and don't have time to make Christmas candy, give Walkers Toffee a try. It is available online at most British food companies. I have found it before at Cost Plus World Market and this year at Home Goods.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Tree Traditions!

Our Little Spode Christmas Tree

Did you know that decorating and "lighting" up a Christmas tree is an old German tradition?

German Christmas traditions became popular in England during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Queen Victoria was almost entirely German descent and was raised with German Christmas traditions. It is her husband though, Prince Albert who is credited with popularizing decorating Christmas trees in England, a tradition he brought from his native German homeland.

In my family growing up, it was always a big outing going to the Christmas tree lot to pick out our tree. Our trees varied through the years but our decorations never did. My Mom saved every ornament my sister and I ever made. Our Christmas trees were always decorated with home-made ornaments, family vintage ornaments, garland and candy canes.

I love Christmas ornaments. I started collecting them way back in high school. I have many different types from country to tea-theme Victorian ones. I used to love decorating different theme trees with them. It's hard to confess but this year the ornaments are still in boxes and I put up a pre-decorated Spode Tree from FTD.

Pre-decorated trees do seem a bit commercial, I know. I really do feel like I am cheating especially since I am a designer putting up a pre-decorated tree. It does however bring convenience and a spirit of Christmas to our little home for my husband and me.

Anthropologie's Christmas Tree

So if you are looking for a designer-inspired creative Christmas tree don't come looking at our house this year. Maybe next year?

For a real head stopper tree though, check out Anthropolgie's idea of a Christmas tree. At least, there are some designers out there still getting creative!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Miss Dior Cherie

Take me to Paris!
Ooh, la, la..this ad makes me want to go to Paris!

Yesterday while at the hair salon I spotted this adorable ad for Miss Dior Cherie in Vogue magazine. Any view of Paris... always catches my eye!

The ad's rooftop view is similar to the view my husband and I once shared on at the rooftop cafe at the Parisian department store La Samaritaine. We had our very first Croque-Monsieurs enjoying this same spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower. Sadly this landmark department store and restaurant have been closed for years now for security reasons.

So Chic! So French!

Then last night I saw the Miss Dior Cherie television commercial. It is so French and adorable. The beautiful young woman is seen prancing around Paris to a catchie French tune Moi je joue sung by Brigitte Bardot. The commercial makes me want to go to Paris even more!

The ad campaign is clever, cute and catchie. No wonder. It is directed by Sofia Coppola!

As for Miss Dior Cherie, it is a new perfume by Dior. If you ask me, I think this darling new ad campaign is going to sell a lot more than just perfume. It is probably going to sell a few airline tickets to Paris, too!

Available at Nordstrom, Macy's and Sephora.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Walkers Miniature Mincemeat Tarts

Mincemeat Tarts
Perfect for a Holiday Tea Party!

I love British Christmas traditions. For years, I have saved traditional English recipes for Christmastime baking and teatime. One of my favorite magazines to pick up during the holiday season is the BBC's Good Food December issue.

Living in sunny California it is hard to think about Christmas baking when it is warm and sunny outside. When our weather does turn cold it is often, too, late to turn out proper English treats. Most traditional English recipes like fruitcake, puddings and mincemeat need proper time to age. "Stir Up Sunday" was a few weeks ago which is the traditional day to start your Christmas puddings. Of course, I missed it!

Last month my knitting friend Ruth in Oklahoma told me that she was making mincemeat for pies for the holiday season. She has her Grandmother's handed-down recipe and makes mincemeat every year with her Mother. I love that. Inspired by Ruth's baking, I recently purchased Walkers Miniature Mincemeat tarts for the holidays. 

Walkers Luxury Miniature Mincemeat Tarts

So if you're like me and would like a taste of an English Christmas but ran out of time to bake, check out the wonderful range of packaged goodies from Walkers. If you are a fan of Scottish are sure to recognize their packaging!

Walkers Mincemeat Tarts are baked in a village in the Scottish Highlands. Their mincemeat recipe is a combination of apples, currants, sultanas, candied citrus peels & spices...and they really taste homemade!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cath Kidston Bags

Limited Edition Carrier Bag by Cath Kidston

If you love flowers and vintage style you are sure to be a Cath Kidston fan! Cath Kidston is a British fabric designer who has popularized vintage style designing clothing, bags and home accessories in her "kitschy" 1950's style prints.

I discovered Cath Kidston style thanks to BBC Homes and Antiques and the UK's Country Living, British design magazines. It was in those pages that I became a Cath Kidston fan.

Recently when I was shopping on the British Cath Kidston site, I discovered that earlier this year she designed a series of 8 eco-friendly carrier (shopping) bags for the British grocery chain Tesco. Each reusable carrier bag is made from 9 recycled plastic bottles. Each bag sold also benefits the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity. Thanks to international shopping on Ebay UK, I now have a few of my very own Cath Kidston carrier bags!

Happy Birthday Cath Kidston!
Cath Kidston celebrated 15 years with a cake contest.
Don't you just love this adorable cake?

Cath Kidston celebrated 15 years in business this year. Whenever we visit London we always take a walk from Notting Hill and visit her original store at 8 Clarendon Cross in Holland Park, London.

Cath Kidston

The Queen of Floral Prints!

The Cath Kidston US web-site is currently being re-designed. For now, if you can't get to London, you can shop at home with a cup of tea at:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grand Marnier Cocktail Macaroons

Grand Marnier Cocktail Macaroons

Ooh, la, la...macaroons for the over 21 crowd!

I was perusing the December issue of Food Wine and I spotted these macaroons in the Holiday Gift Guide. Leave it to the French to come up with this unique concoction for macaroons just in time for the holiday party scene.

Grand Marnier has teamed up with Payard Patisserie to release it's luxury Grand Marnier Cocktail Macaroons, inspired by four signature Grand Marnier cocktails: The Grand Cosmo, the Grand Margarita, the Grand Mojito and the Orange Crush.

Grand Marnier Orange Crush Macaroons
(Macaroons inspired by the drink Orange Crush)

The macaroons are available exclusively at Payard Patisserie in New York and are available for holiday gift shipment nationwide. The macaroon fillings do have minimal Grand Marnier alcohol so you must be 21 years of age to purchase.
I looked at both Payard and Grand Marnier's websites for more information. I could not find any information on either site. Perhaps they won't be advertised until December? Or have they already sold out?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Louis Vuitton Window Shopping

Louis Vuitton
Westfield Galleria at Roseville

The French call it "faire du leche vitrines". We Americans call it window-shopping.

Today I spent the afternoon window-shopping at the new 400,000 square foot ($260 million) expansion at the Galleria mall.

LV window display

I naturally headed over first to the world's most famous French label boutique, Louis Vuitton. The new LV boutique at the Galleria is 4, 000 square feet and is fully stocked. There are plenty of handbags for all the "good-girls" on Santa's list!

Tivoli PM Handbag

This is my new favorite LV handbag!
(I snuck this photo to give to Santa!)

Louis Vuitton

I even window shopped inside the new LV boutique today. I had to wait in a short line to be let in. The door man only allows so many shoppers in at one time. There were also about three guards within the store, too.

Lisa a very nice LV sales associate waited on me today. I have always wanted a real LV handbag but have waned since there are so many young girls carrying knock offs these days. The funny thing is whenever I am in Paris, I actually see more ladies carrying Burberry handbags than Louis Vuitton's!

The handbag I liked best today was the Tivoli PM bag. It is a classic brown LV monogram bag with a bit of a modern edge to it. I asked Lisa if it was made in France. I was stunned when she said "No. It is made here in the USA". Wow... that really surprised me. I did some research tonight and oui, there is a LV production facility in San Dimas (Los Angeles County), CA.
I am sure the LV US production team are all expertly trained in the LV French way. I just happen to like my French handbags to be made in France. (You may call this French snobbery if you like!) I bet if I were to buy the Tivoli PM bag in Paris it would come from a French factory then. Hmm...more to ponder. Well, I have plenty of time to figure out this handbag dilemma. I am saving up birthday money and brownie-points to get a French handbag for my big 50th birthday. It is just over a year away and my fingers are crossed that I will get to shop for the handbag in Paris!

For now I am happy just window-shopping!
Next time you are at the Galleria...have fun window shopping at Louis Vuitton!
Galleria at Roseville
Upper level # 1150

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Louis Vuitton Roseville Grand Opening!

Catherine Deneuve for Louis Vuitton

Hot off the fashionista news wire...Louis Vuitton opened today at the Galleria Mall in Roseville, CA. Bienvenue (Welcome) Louis Vuitton!
This is very exciting news for the Sacramento region. I still can't believe we have this top luxury French brand right in our own backyard. It's opening this morning was big news here in Sacramento and it even made the local television news. People stood in line from 4:00 am this morning for a chance at $1,000.00 gift cards at the newly expanded Galleria Mall. Hmm...too bad I didn't know about this sooner or I would have been there, too!
Louis Vuitton, better known by it's famous two initials LV, is the world's most famous luxury brand. Founded in Paris in 1854 it is the oldest fashion house in the world. Now you don't have to jet off to Paris, NY, Rodeo Drive or SF to shop for your favorite LV handbag.
Founded by Monsieur Louis Vuitton, LV originally made travelling cases and trunks. Today it is especially famous for it's monogram brown handbags and fashion accessories. Today there are over 300 stores in 44 countries around the world and now we can add Roseville, CA to that list!
Monogram Canvas
"Speedy 30" $700.00
This classic is always a favorite!

Monogram Canvas
Etoile Bowling Bag $2,950
I love this new handbag design!
(Santa, I have been a very good girl this year!)

Louis Vuitton
Champs Elysees, Paris, France

I love to window-shop Louis Vuitton on the Champs Elysees...
now I can window-shop closer to home!

Louis Vuitton
1151 Galleria Blvd
Roseville, CA 95678

(916) 772-2211

Happy Handbag Shopping!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Knitting Daily TV

Make Time for Yarn Everyday!

I have exciting news for all knitters in the Sacramento region...

our local PBS station finally picked up the show Knitting Daily TV on KVIE (Comcast channel 7). It airs on Tuesday mornings at 9:30am.

The first series began today with episode #101 Lux & Luscious. Next week episode #102 Sweater features designer Michelle Rose Orne author of Inspired to Knit.

Each show features these segments: Getting Started, Designer Spotlight, How-To, You Asked It and Knit Along.

Juliet Scarf and Flower Pin

I can't wait for episode #103 Amazing Lace and the Designer Spotlight segment with my favorite British knitting designer, Louisa Harding. She will share with us her inspiration for her book Knitting Little Luxuries (yes, I own it) and will teach us how to make a knit flower pin for her pretty Juliet lace scarf.

Knitting Daily TV

The Knitting Daily TV slogan says it all...

Make Time for Yarn Everyday!

Let's keep Knitting Daily TV airing in our region. Be sure to spread the word and tell all of your fiber friends to watch or TiVo it. You can also visit the show's website for free pattern downloads!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kusmi Tea at Anthropolgie

Kusmi Tea display at Anthropologie

Special announcement for all French tea aficionados... Kusmi tea is now available at Anthropologie stores.

For years I have admired the gorgeous Kusmi tea tins in Paris. Earlier this year I started drinking Kusmi tea and love it. Not many stores carry this lux French brand tea in America so I was delighted to see it last night at my local Anthropologie.

I love browsing Anthropolgie just for it's visual beauty and ambiance. I always love their creative displays and merchandise. Naturally their visual team did a neat tea display showcasing the Kusmi tea along side some great looking monogram tea mugs and tea books.

I am not sure how long Anthropolgie will be carrying their assortment of Kusmi Tea. I suggest snagging a caddy or two while you can. ($18.00 each)

Be sure to let me know which tea blend becomes your favorite Kusmi French the' (tea)!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Boutique Knits

Boutique Knits

They say "you can't judge a book by it's cover"...yet I can already tell that I am going to love this book Boutique Knits just by it's cover!

I love this Side Slip Cloche hat in the cover photo. It reminds me of the hats that my Grandma Margaret wore in the 1920's & 1930's. I even have Rowan's Soft Lux yarn in my yarn stash that the designer recommends knitting this hat in!

This book is hot off the press. It just came out in October. MFLY (my favorite local yarn store) Knitique sold out of this new book right away. Recently there was just one copy left and another knitter beat me to it. I am now patiently awaiting Knitique's next book shipment to snag this book and start knitting!

Teak Bittersweet Gauntlets

You can see a sneak peak of the book on Interweave Press. I absolutely love all the vintage inspired patterns by author/designer Laura Irwin. I think these Victorian inspired smocked gauntlet gloves are gorgeous!

Accessories like scarves and hats are my favorite knitting projects. I can't wait to get my own copy and start knitting a few of these 20 + must have knit accessories!

How about you? Are you anxious to knit these vintage inspired accessories, too?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thrown Together by Kim Hargreaves

Aimee Poncho
This is not your Grandmother's knitting!

Did you know that there is a big revival in the needle arts? My favorite needle art is knitting.

I learned to knit, like most knitters, as a young girl from my Great Grandmother. I knit in the 1970's when crafting was really big. Then I quit knitting. I don't know why.

Robin classic beret

It wasn't until I was in my forties that I picked up the knitting needles again. While traveling to England I fell in love with British yarns and British knitting designers.

When I tell people that I am obsessed with knitting, I know what they are grandmotherly! Unless your are a knitter, most people seem to conjure up some grandmotherly image of old-fashioned, home-made knitting. Let me tell you, this is not your Grandmother's knitting. Knitting is quite couture today.

Robin Beret

All of these images are fabulous designs by British designer Kim Hargreaves. The photos certainly look like they could have stepped right out of Vogue fashion magazine!

These examples are from her collection and new book for Autumn "Thrown Together". Her concept with the collection is to mix it up, throw your clothes together and have fun.
Thrown Together

I would love to knit the Aimee poncho and the Robin beret. How about you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Anya Hindmarch for Target

Anya Hindmarch signage is now up at Target
Most styles have already sold out!

So today marks day four of the Anya Hindmarch for Target purse launch here in America. I just happened to be near Target today so I had to stop in and check out the remaining inventory. I promise...I did not buy anymore Anya Hindmarch bags! I am still baffled though why there wasn't a frenzy for these bags like there was in London?

My friend Jodi in Seattle loves handbags and British style, too. She reports that she was probably the only one at her Seattle suburb Target that bought a bag on Sunday afternoon. She bought the black and chocolate 1970's inspired Tote. Her bag was featured in Steals & Deals in the October issue of In Style magazine. Great choice Jodi!

The 1970's decade inspired Anya's current 2008 collection. If you go to Anya's website to the Must Haves page, there is a great mini movie (upper right corner) that talks about her inspiration.

Anya Hindmarch handbag frenzy in London

Yes, shoppers will stand in line to buy a great handbag!

Why haven't there been any lines at Target?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First Dibs on Anya Hindmarch

I snagged this Anya Hindmarch for Target
Black Python Satchel
(and a few other purses)

Here's how I did it!

Target at 8:00 am
Where are the handbag lines?

I woke up early this morning and headed down to my local Target store before it opened at 8:00 am. Much to my surprise there wasn't a line outside or any signs of a handbag frenzy. In fact there weren't even any handbag shoppers except for me and a fellow male shopper shopping for his wife. Like me, they knew about the Target launch from for these limited-edition handbags.

Just so you know, there should be a handbag frenzy. According to Vogue Magazine in the UK these handbags sold out in the UK pre-sale the other day in just two minutes! Where are all the Amercian shoppers? Dont' they know about this fabulous purse event?

"The Shipment"

With credit card in hand I am ready for my shopping spree. Only problem is there are no Anya Hindmarch handbags in my Target store. How can this be? Only thing to do was to ask for "handbag help". The nearest stock person couldn't help me nor Guest Services so I nicely asked for a store manager.

Yea..a nice Target team lead manager came to my rescue. I told him about the launch today and that online it says they have the purses here. He works his magic on his hand held computer and checks for me. (Listening to his stock-talk, I get the feeling the purses are still back in the warehouse somewhere.) My retail background pays off here and I beg and plead (nicely,of course) with him to find a way to bring them out for sale today.

First dibs on
The Anya Hindmarch Bags

So here is the only box and shipment of the Anya Hindmarch bags for my local Target store. I got first dibs on it!

I told the store manager what a great team he has and that he has made me and the other shopper's wife very happy. I don't think any of the Target employees even have a clue who Anya Hindmarch is. I don't think any of them really understand what the big deal is behind these bags. That's okay. They'll find out soon enough when the handbag frenzy does hit. More than likely the handbags will be sold out before that even happens!

Anya Hindmarch for Target display

Being the self confessed shopaholic that I am, I couldn't help myself and drove to other Target stores all morning. Hey, I had to check out the other stores to see if they had any different designs. Turns out the inventory was the same at every Target store. There are six design styles available in the stores and the others are only available online at

The handbags are advertised to be available from October 12 to December 26, 2008. I got the inside word from a Target store manager that this could be the only shipment that they get in for this International Designer event. That's why I had to keep shopping, right?

Several Target stores had a display set up for the bags. I was most surprised that there was no special signage or photo of designer Anya Hindmarch on display. After all, she is the "Queen of Handbags"!

Checking out at Target
Never..ever have I bought handbags like this
at a check out stand!

Thank you Anya Hindmarch for your wonderful designs and for making London "high street" fashion affordable to everyone with your limited-edition series for Target!
I love my Anya Hindmarch bags!

Did you get your hands on one?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dress like a Duchess with Extasia

Extasia Antique Reproduction Jewelry

Keira Knightly as Georgiana
 in The Duchess movie

In The Duchess movie, Keria Knightly wears exquisite cameo jewelry.
I have always admired antique and vintage jewelry. I am lucky to own a gorgeous antique cameo pin that I purchased back east over 25 years ago. Most of the time it just sits in my jewelry box. You can be sure I'll be wearing it this fashion season. I am sure The Duchess movie will start a revival of cameo jewelry!

Extasia Cameo Earrings

If you did not inherit your Great-Grandmother's cameo (my sister did) you should check out one of my favorite reproduction jewelry companies, Extasia. Founded in 1991 by Stefanie Freydont in Northern California , Extasia recreates lovely cameos (Rachel Ray is a fan) and stunning colorful glass intaglio jewelry.

Extasia jewelry is sold in some of the finest stores in the world. While shopping in London I have seen Extasia jewelry at Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and the Victoria and Albert Museum shop.
If you can't shop in London...
you can always shop in your robe with a cup of tea
in their online store!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Duchess Movie

The Duchess Movie

Have you seen The Duchess movie? Teased by the movie trailers for weeks now, I could wait no longer. I drove over 100 miles to see The Duchess last Friday when it opened in the SF Bay Area. Let me just was worth the drive!

The movie is based on Amanda Foreman's biography Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. The story of Georgiana was certainly meant for the big screen. You know a movie is good when you are still thinking and talking about it days later. This is that kind of a movie.

The movie is superbly cast. Ralph Fiennes as the cold Duke of Devonshire and Keira Knightly as the beautiful Georgiana are so convincing I was transported right back to the late 18th century. The movie can't help but be beautiful with it's English scenery, classical stately homes and period Georgian furnishings. I loved the Wedgwood-style decor and the exquisite English tea sets throughout the movie.

Since the movie is based on a true story I was deeply stirred by the oppression of women in this era. Trapped in a loveless arranged marriage, Georgiana is forced to tolerate her husbands mistresses and denied herself to be with her true love, Charles Grey. In one scene Georgiana says "I am a prisoner in my own home". The movie clearly delivers the message that women were bound by traditon and had no rights. Any notion of womens rights were tightly cinched just like their corsets!

A cameo revival!

Speaking of corsets...the fashions, hats and jewelry in this movie are gorgeous. My eyes were glued to the screen admiring all the Georgian jewelry designs. I loved the chokers and the cameos. Get ready to pull out your Great-Grandmother's jewelry box...I think this movie will start a fashion trend revival of romantic vintage and costume jewelry.

The movie still in limited release will open everywhere this Friday, October 10, 2008.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Anya Hindmarch for Target

Limited Edition Anya Hindmarch for Target Handbag

Attention all handbag lovers. I just received a fabulous announcement from Anya London High Street fashion is coming to Target! (Yes, you read that right!)
Target has partnered with British "Handbag Queen" Anya Hindmarch for a limited-edition handbag collection called Anya Hindmarch for Target. The chic collection features satchels, shoulder bags and clutches. The color palette is black, chocolate and navy.
The great news is... you don't have to be a celebrity to afford these new handbags! The Target collection will range from $19.99 to $49.99. Just so you know, if you stepped into an Anya Hindmarch boutique you could expect to spend $500 to $6,500! What a fab idea making high street fashion affordable for everyone!
Anya Hindmarch limited-edition series

"We are plastic bags!"
Designer handbags in "faux" patent!

The Anya Hindmarch for Target handbag series will be available at Target from October 12, 2008 to December 26,2008. I hope there will be plenty of inventory for all the Anya fans who want to purchase these handbags. The big question remains... "will there be incredible lines and a purse frenzy for this handbag series like there was for her "I'm not a plastic bag" reusable bags?"

I'm NOT A Plastic bag

October 12th is already marked on my calender for the Target launch. I hope I like them. I hope I buy one. I have admired Anya Hindmarch's designs for years. I have "window shopped" her boutiques in London. I soon hope to be carrying an Anya Hindmarch for Target handbag with her trademark bow logo.

Anya Hindmarch
Anya and I both want to know...
will you be dashing out to get one, too?