Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Belles of St. Mary's


It’s that time of year when, amidst the general good will and good cheer, the usual suspects are busy filing lawsuits against nativity scenes in public places.

But at St. Mary’s Catholic Home, where my Mother has lived for the last four years, the crèche is proudly displayed, there are decorations everywhere, and high school students in period Dickens costumes come every year to serenade the residents with a hearty “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and a reverent “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.”

Christmas at St. Mary’s is a very special time, not only for the residents, but for the families who come to share the holidays with them.

 
St. Mary’s was founded in 1941 by three Polish nuns, who devoted themselves to the care of the aging.

Today, St. Mary’s has grown and flourished under the watchful eyes of The Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

They still wear white habits and veils and are among the happiest women I know. 

They are doing God’s good work, and it shows in their smiles.

 
When my Mother arrived at St. Mary’s four years ago, very much against her will (a story for another day – you’ll laugh, you’ll cry….), she stubbornly refused to participate in any of the activities.

But, the good ladies of the Activities Department stubbornly refused to take “no” for an answer.

Finally, my Mother said, “Tell them to stop bugging me. I’m not going to go to any of their stupid events ----- HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL THEM………I HATE BINGO!!”

And that was Madame Mère’s last word on the subject.

Or…………maybe not…………

One day I arrived for a visit and she casually mentioned that she had met some nice ladies at a High Tea the day before.

“Wait….what? A High Tea? What High Tea?” I asked.

“Oh, they have a High Tea every month. It’s just a small, elite group -- by invitation only,” she replied.

BINGO!! I thought (sorry, Mom); they’ve finally found something she’s willing to do. And that was the turning point for Mme Mère

For the last two years, she has looked forward to these teas the way a child looks forward to Christmas. This special little group of ladies, all over 90 years of age, “the Belles of St. Mary’s,” as I call them, gets together every month over a beautifully laid on tea in a cozy lounge behind the Nurses’ Station.

They laugh, they sing, they tell jokes, they share stories from their lives, all over a nice “cuppa.”

When the good Sisters leave, Vera, one of the younger Belles and a former nurse, can always be counted on for a risqué story or two that sends the rest of the Belles into paroxysms of laughter. (There’s always a Blood Pressure cuff handy for a quick check should things get too raucous.)

Here the ladies are having a sing-along at a luau Tea in August.

I’m on the left (with the flower in my hair) keeping an eye on things. 

I started attending the teas about a year ago to help out, and I wouldn’t miss them for the world. 

These ladies are soooo much fun, and the egg salad tea sandwiches are just delicious!!

My Mother is in the foreground in the yellow lei, and to her left is everyone’s favorite Belle, Rose, the violinist.

 
Rose was a professional musician all her life, starting as a member of an All-Girl Band during WW II.


Their Group toured the country playing on the same circuit as Nat “King” Cole and his Group, the King Cole Trio.










Sadly, we lost Rose just a few months before Christmas.

She died peacefully in her sleep. She was 95 years young.

Rose left her violin to her favorite nephew.

She is greatly missed by the Belles. 

They set a place for her at High Tea every month and put this picture next to her teacup.


 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the Belles of St. Mary’s and to all those who love and care for them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Well-Dressed Coffee Table and 75 Parisiennes

Do you remember the well-dressed coffee table? I do.

The well-dressed coffee table was always adorned with a stack of big, beautiful books that, once opened, spilled over your lap as you turned from page to page delighting in one gorgeous, glossy image after another.

Coffee table books are a silent testament to the interests and aspirations of the owner of the coffee table.

Today, you have an entire library available to you at the touch of a button and displayed on a screen that fits in the palm of your hand. How long will it be before the feel, the smell and the weight of beautiful, leather-bound books become part of les plaisirs démodés (old-fashioned pleasures)?

If, like me, you are a dévotée of the well-dressed coffee table, here’s a little something that might add just the right French Touch to your coffee table this Christmas.

 

The work of renowned portrait photographer Baudoin has graced the pages of many a glossy fashion magazine.

But in his new book, 75 Parisiennes, he pays homage to the women of Paris in a series of offbeat and inspired photographs.

The photographer as silent observer allows each woman to speak for herself without saying a word.

From an array of over 300 photos shot in 6x6 square format with his Hasselblad camera, he chose 75 to represent each of the 75 départements of the City of Lights.



Identified by first name only, each photograph is a snapshot of the Parisienne in her natural habitat surrounded by the things she loves.

And speaking of things to love…..wouldn’t you just kill to have that view?


Not all of the 75 parisiennes are actually parisiennes d’origine. Some are transplanted from other regions and other countries.

But, all are parisiennes de cœur, which means that they are Parisian by choice and conviction.




And like so much of what makes life worth living at any age, it’s all in the attitude




































Time to sit back, put your feet up and enjoy a big, beautiful book. 
 
For great DIY ideas on creating your very own, inexpensive coffee tables, click HERE for some inspiration. 
 

 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Museum Donation That Helps the Hurt




 
 
How long has it been since the man of your dreams shattered that dream and broke your heart?

Decades ago? A year ago? A month ago?





Illustration by Kanako of My Little Paris

 



Are you still sobbing over the striped shorts he left behind?







 

Courtesy of My Little Paris
There’s nothing like a thorough closet purge to make you feel like a new woman – take charge of your closet; take charge of your life.
 
Maybe it’s time to do a thorough purge of your emotional closet by getting rid of the relics of that unhappy romance.
 
  
 

 

Le Centquatre in Paris (19th arrondissement) will be hosting the first exhibit of Le Musée des Cœurs Brisés (“Museum of Broken Hearts”), which opens on December 19th.
 
And here’s the best part……….they will be accepting donations until this Friday, November 30th !!! 




Wouldn’t you just love to see his shorts hanging on a museum wall?

And how about this for a caption………………???

“Long on promises -- short on delivery.”


For more information about donations and the exhibit, click here.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Rockin’ the Curly Bob

In a recent post (“To Bob or Not to Bob – That Was the Question”), I gave a brief background on the classic Bob and included some examples of my favorites; however, my fellow blogger buddy, Cindy Swanson, popular radio personality, voice-over artist and all-around great gal, took me to task for not including any curly Bobs.

And so, Cindy, these Bobs are for you and all of us who want to rock a Bob as only we curly girls can.

 
Katherine Heigl’s blunt cut, short Bob makes the most of her soft, touchable curls.

She looks ever-so elegant and sexy.

What red-blooded man wouldn’t want to run his fingers through those golden curls?

 
Malin Akerman’s shoulder-length Bob, with subtle highlights, takes advantage of soft waves and curls.

This look is feminine and flattering, and if you don’t have naturally curly hair, you can achieve it with the strategic use of a curling iron.

BTW, ladies, don’t you just love her bright coral lips? Malin’s lips are not as full as Katherine’s (above), so she makes the most of them with a bright, translucent color. And that, Ladies, is a great lipstick trick.

 
Brittany Murphy’s shoulder-length Bob is all about the curl.

These beautiful, tousled curls look sooooo effortless and natural, as if all she did was toss her head and everything fell perfectly into place.

They create a soft frame around her adorable, heart-shaped face.

And just looking at that big, beautiful smile would brighten anyone’s day!


Oooh, this drop-dead cool, curly Bob is every inch the rocker chick.

This is messy chic at its messiest and sexiest.

Wow! All this babe needs is a microphone and a back-up group to rock your world.

 
Now this, Ladies, is a full-out, curly Bob. Isn’t it fabulous?

Can you look at this stunning young woman and honestly believe that blondes have more fun?

I think not.

But then, as a red-head, I might be just the teensiest bit prejudiced.

Or not……….

You be the judge.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Great Classic Coats for Under $150

Last night I had to put an extra blanket on the bed, and by early December I will need my down comforter. Now is the perfect time to do an inventory of your winter coats.

Are they in good repair? Are they still in style? If not, here's a great selection of classic winter coats, any one (or more) of which would be a great way to warm up your coat collection this season for less than $150.

Oh....and I've thrown in some great scarves and hats, too, just for fun.

Great Classic Coats





H m
$110 - hm.com



H m
$95 - hm.com



H m
$79 - hm.com



H m
$64 - hm.com



Charlotte Taylor circle scarve
$270 - coggles.com



McQ by Alexander McQueen silk shawl
$260 - garmentquarter.com



Tory burch
toryburch.com



Becksöndergaard summer scarve
$105 - glassworks-studios.com



Friday, November 9, 2012

To Bob or Not To Bob – That Was the Question

On Tuesday, November 6th, American men and women went to their local polling places to vote. While American men had been voting since the 18th century, women had to wait until the 20th to enjoy that privilege.

The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote, a right which they have exercised ever since the presidential election of 1920.

But it wasn’t just the right to vote that would forever change the fair sex. The decade known as the “Roaring 20s” ushered in an era of social and sexual freedom she had never known before, and the American woman has never looked back.

The “new woman,” as much a term of derision as of admiration, smoked and drank in public, and, if all that weren’t enough, she unlaced her corsets, shortened her skirts and showed her knees. How scandalous!!




 

And, then, she did something even more outrageous……….

She cut her hair!!!! Silent film star, Louise Brooks, was as famous for her Bob, as for her sultry screen persona.

Suddenly, every woman wanted the Brooks Bob, while many a husband, boyfriend and pompous politician railed against it.

The great Bob debate was born, and everyone cast a vote.
 
“America’s Sweetheart,” film star Mary Pickford, voted “No.”


 
 
Glamorous opera star, Mary Garden, voted “Yes.”


 
 
And my Grandmother, Marie Anastasia, handed my Grandfather a pair of scissors one afternoon and said, “George, bob my hair.”

George took one look at Marie’s long, lustrous dark hair, her “crowning glory,” and couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“Cut it, George,” Marie demanded. “It’s time for me to be a ‘new woman’.”

Against his better judgment, George complied.

Happily, they were both delighted with the result.

Never again would Marie grow her hair.


The Bob has come a long way since the Brooks Bob, but no matter how we tweak it, it remains a timeless classic suitable to any face at any age. 

 Here are some of my favorite modern takes on the classic Bob. 
 
 
The Straight Bob


 

Here, Katie Holmes looks quietly delighted with her classic Bob, which would not have looked out of place in the 1920s. This sleek, one-length Bob with full bangs creates a beautiful frame for her delicate features and perfect oval face.



 
Rebecca Atkinson’s Bob has ever-so-slight layering at the bottom to give a little fullness where she needs it. Notice how the strong vertical line of this side-swept Bob cuts the roundness of her face. And what a lovely smile!


The Angled Bob


 
Keira Knightley’s angled, side-swept Bob is longer in the front and shorter in the back. This is the perfect Bob to complement a strong jawline and highlight great cheekbones. To me, this is a real throwback to the 60s. Can you say “Vidal Sasoon?”



 
Model Luisa Hartema’s angled, side-swept bob is shorter on one side and in the back. Its slightly choppy look adds an adorable touch of the gamine.


The Longer Layered Bob



What can I say about Milla Jovovich’s Bob?  Its longer layers and subtle waves make it classically feminine and universally flattering.  She looks absolutely stunning!


The Long Bob


 
Marija Pikic’s classic, long Bob might look a bit boring were it not for the off-center part at a slight angle, which gives it movement and interest.



 
Here, Willow Bay wears a long Bob with a center part and side-swept bangs. No matter your age, you can always put your best face forward when framed by this classic beauty of a Bob.


The Long Wavy Bob


 
Ali Larter’s long, wavy Bob has a center part, soft layers and a bit of lift at the crown. This is a great way to make the most of soft waves, if you’ve got ‘em. It looks slightly mussy, touchable and sexy.



 
Brooklyn Decker’s long, wavy Bob has a side part, soft layers and a bit more curl, but only on the ends. She has kept the lines around her face fairly straight as a frame, but starting at the sides, the Bob ends in soft curls. It’s an unexpected and delightful touch of femininity.


The Elegant Bob

 
 
Now we come to my favorite Bob. Emma Watson wears an elegant, short Bob with the sides swept back over her ears to showcase her lovely face.

Strong eyebrows play a major role in framing her dark eyes, and fresh pink cheeks and subtle lips complete the picture.

There’s something very 1950s Grace Kelly about this Bob that makes me yearn for a more elegant time.


And there you have it, Ladies. I vote a resounding “yes, yes, yes” to the Bob. How about you?
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