Day 207...

Just Dotty

J. Crew Polka dot long sleeved t-shirt

J. Crew Polka dot long sleeved t-shirt

Let me start this post with an apology for the hiatus I have taken for the past week. Apology, registered. I will now move on.  This is a busy time of year for us all.  It is an especially busy time for type "A" control freaks.  Let me explain the above vignette.  In no uncertain terms, I hijacked my nine year old daughters holiday boutique/fundraiser item (raising money for the 4th grade class trip).  It started innocently enough.  She came home one day and began to explain an elaborate plan her class workgroup had to sell items, via a spinning wheel of chance.  I then began to explain that perhaps that was not going to be an efficient business model (how to control inventory?! etc.)  So I suggested making ornaments, commemorative ornaments to celebrate her schools 125th anniversary?  Who doesn't love a commemorative item?!  Well let's just say, the project coup d'etat snowballed from there.  I ordered the ornaments, designed and ordered the stickers to put on them,  and then in a moment of sheer insanity, decided that I needed to spray paint them, on both sides, all 100 of them!  Why?  Because I am a big ol' dummy dumb.  (Just a side note about spray paint and unfinished wood, unless you have the right kind of spray paint, it will immediately be absorbed into said wood, necessitating several coats, oh and a side trip to the hardware store for cans of the appropriate paint.)  Did I mention that SoCal was having a major squall on that day, and what that does for paint drying time...?  You get the idea.

For the spray paint adventure, I threw on some of my go to, comfy, not afraid to get paint on, clothes.  That includes the top that you see on the floor.  I am not wearing it in the pic, because my husband was not there photograph, and the image of the polka dots and the round ornaments was just too good to pass up.

My mom bought me this shirt at a J. Crew outlet in South West Florida.  It was given to me on our last Christmas together.  It's not fancy, nor was it hers, but what makes it special to me, is that I know that Christmas, she had to do her shopping in a wheelchair, pushed my by stepfather.  That must have been so hard for her, in fact I know it was.  She loved her independence, and the freedom to go wherever she pleased.  Like me, she loved to shop alone (or with me!) She found it fun, and relaxing.  

But come hell or high-water, she was going to go shopping, and not just be content to do it online.  Until the end, she went to get her hair done, she wanted to drive into town, which we were terrified of, but she did it.  The car had the dents to prove it.  

When I was in High School, my mom and I spray painted 30 butter cookie tins and decorated them to give as holiday gifts.  This project made me think of her so  much.  And I promise it was not just the paint fumes.

(PS In my opinion, the ornaments turned out great!)

Just enough knowledge of photoshop & Illustrator to get myself into trouble....

Just enough knowledge of photoshop & Illustrator to get myself into trouble....


Day 206

Green Sleeves...

Vintage emerald green shantung silk coat dress

Vintage emerald green shantung silk coat dress

Ok, I must admit, I am hopped up on the holidays, and I can't seem to shake this desire to post these kind of fancy clothes that would work for any seasonal party, and wax on about how delightful the season is, but, as I was in the middle of writing this, I lost my brain. This meltdown was not directly inspired by some memory of holidays past, or some tender moment with my mom.  I was pushed to the edge of my sanity after two hours of math homework with my youngest daughter, whilst I was preparing dinner, after a day going through my year end business paperwork.  Now who wants to party?!  The simplest reasoning for this trigger after some door slamming, high pitched screaming, and tearful apologies, is that I am not sure I have fully figured out how to process that when I was my kids age, no one helped me with my homework, and certainly not while they were making dinner.  The dinners came later, bountifully, and with so much love you could truly taste it.  But that help with the academics, never. Ever.  I am the sister of one of the  most respected sub-atomic particle physicists in world.  His name is Jordan Nash, (if you want to google him go for it, but I'll list his larger credits here: discovering the 'Z' particle while in grad school at Stanford, project manager at CERN, head of the High Energy Physics Dept.at the Imperial College in London...)  This was obviously, a child that needed no help whatsoever with his studies.  In fact he dusted us all in the cranial dept. So I think when I came along, there was no model.  I was, as all my juvenile reports cards state (I found them all after my father died) "a delightful, affable young girl who has so much potential, if only she could focus herself."  Yep, that was pretty spot on.  I was the embodiment of Ferdinand the bull, standing in left field content to just sit and smell the flowers.  I was a dreamer.  Truth be told, I wished for a fantasy life, I would construct elaborate stories for why my mom missed a school play ("she was out horseback riding") or invent maladies for myself to garner attention.  I could not wait to disappear into the chronicles of Narnia, or any other fantasy world a book could take me.  Despite all odds, I went on to hight school, college, graduate school, and to ultimately run a business that I am very proud of.

Cut to tonight, two HOURS into homework with my little one, who is clearly the 'Ferdinand' in our family.  And I lost it.  Lost it as she flopped around in her chair, and guessed at answers, like throwing darts at a board.  I snapped, and shrieked, and generally acted like a crazy woman.  I went upstairs to my room, locked the door, and sat on my bed.  What was I really mad at?  And then it hit me, I was mad that I was there, and that wasn't enough.  There was this angry little girl in me that was yelling "you don't know how good you've got it!  No one helped me with my homework!!"  But as soon as I realized that, it hit me, that is not their fault.  Sure, I can get frustrated about 2 hours of lackluster academics, but I need to check the fever pitch that it triggered.  

I have a perfect quote framed in my house.  It simply states:  "Lets make better mistakes tomorrow"  Here, here.  Let's try that shall we?  I will try not to ask my children to be the proverbial 'bellmen' for my emotional baggage.  This may take some time, but tomorrow is another day.


Day 205

All That Glitters....

Vintage Iridescent beaded clutch

Vintage Iridescent beaded clutch

Oh the Holiday's, not only is it filled with a stream of friends food and libations, but it also offers increased chances for the occasion to actually wear some of the fancier items I have in my mother's pantheon.  This iridescent beaded bag, is so sweet & lovely, and looks so nice with this pale pink silk column skirt and brocade top.  I am a sucker for pale colored evening clothes, I know black is safer, but there is a delightfully ethereal quality to a pale pink ensemble.  I suppose it still makes me feel like a little girl, and the iridescence of the beads....was I the only girl in the 80's that was obsessed with L'oreal iridescent nail polish?  It was all I wanted to wear.  So here's a round of applause for the most shimmering bag, in the most shimmering season!


Day 204

I'm Sorry

Vintage Chinchilla jacket

Vintage Chinchilla jacket

I couldn't really think of any other better title for this post than "I'm sorry" (I am wearing a vintage Chinchilla jacket for god sakes!  Have you ever seen a baby chinchilla? OMG I am SO sorry!!) But to be honest, it ended up being a perfect dovetail into an overarching feeling I was having tonight.  The day before yesterday, I wrote about the great thankfulness I feel in my life, but tonight I was abruptly presented with the fact that while I have been the recipient of much wonderful and healing friendship over the past few years, I perhaps have not always been the best friend. And for that I am deeply sorry.  I need to be honest, the past few years have been hard, some of the hardest of my life. Somedays just getting out of bed, and getting my kids dressed and off to school has taken the lion's share of my bandwidth.  Running a business and deciding to take on an archive of this nature has been both simultaneously rewarding and at times, exhausting.  I am not always a sparkling conversationalist, sometimes I am terrible on the phone (a trait both my mother and I shared) And there are certain times that I am desperately happy that I just made it through another day.  So to the friends that I have disappointed, I am sorry. Please forgive me If I made you feel I was unavailable, or disassociated, it was never my intention.  Please know that I am truly thankful for each and every friend, each and every kind comment, smile or piece of feedback.  But I'm still really, really sorry about the jacket.


Day 203

"Snakes...Why'd it have to be snakes?" - Indiana Jones
Vintage Diane Von Furstenberg snake print jumpsuit.

Vintage Diane Von Furstenberg snake print jumpsuit.

Oh mom, how I love that you owned a silk jersey snake print Diane Von Furstenburg wrap jumpsuit.  I mean, seriously, how great is that?!  The past few posts have been pretty emotionally reflective, so it actually feels quite good to post a piece that in no uncertain terms just says; "where's the party at?"  So many of my mother's clothes were just plain fun, and some, downright silly.  This rides the line between chic and cheeky.  Good for you mom.  So as we enter the holiday party season, let's all have some fun shall we?



Day 202

A Thousand Thanks

Vintage Cashmere Chinese toggle closure cardigan

Vintage Cashmere Chinese toggle closure cardigan

Well,  the "season" is officially here. And by season, I am,  of course,  referring to the grand trifecta of holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas/Chanukah, and New Year's Eve.  These are holidays that have always been deeply connected to family for me.  During some portion of the next 5 weeks, I would never fail to see my mother. We never spent a Christmas apart, ever.  These holidays are charged with emotion on so many levels, times where the void is beyond intense. My mother always used to say after we left her house  "The silence is deafening".  That is the heart of it,  the silence, not being able to talk to her about holiday menus, or what gifts the kids would like, or what to wear to a party.  

The sweater I am wearing in this post is a vintage cashmere cardigan with Chinese frog closures, that my mother inherited from my grandmother,  most likely it was made for her on one of her shopping trips to Hong Kong.  I wore this to a lovely post Thanksgiving potluck filled with the most wonderful assortment of friends.

Holiday's also serve as a sort of emotional time machine.  It is impossible not to look back and think  "Where was I last year at this time?"  not just physically, but also mentally.  I'm not going to sugarcoat, last Thanksgiving was awful.  I won't go too deeply into it, but let me just say that the evening ended with me walking through my neighborhood for close to two hours sobbing hysterically.  Pretty messy business.  I eventually ended up at my dear friend Sandy's house, where I downloaded, recuperated, and finally walked back home.  

That brings me to this year, This year was different.  Yes, there is still (and always be) a void, but this year, I was able to reflect on all of the people in my life that have helped to fill that void.  Friends and family that have been there every step of the way.  You know who you are:  you slept in the hospital with me, you flew to Florida to help me clean out my mother's closets, you let my family stay at your house when ours was destroyed by hurricane Sandy, you took me to lunch on my first birthday after my mom died, you literally pulled me out of the closet I was hiding and crying in and after I accidentally broke a set of my mom's dishes, you never stopped checking in with me and asking how I was, you love me unconditionally, you became my turkey hotline, you love cooking with me,  you love fashion as much as I do.  To my dearest friends, my loving husband and my magical daughters, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for helping me heal, for being there for me every step of the way, for giving me so many reasons for being thankful.  

Sweater Detail

Sweater Detail


Day 201

"Do you believe in miracles?!" - Al Micheals

Ginko leaves 

Ginko leaves 

In theory, all these posts should be about clothing, and yet, there are certain times when there has been a meal, or party, or some other event or gathering that I know my mother would have loved, that has made it's way into these posts.  And today, it is falling leaves, in particular, Ginkgo Leaves.  

The Ginkgo tree was my Grandmother's favorite.  One year, after I had just moved back to New York City from Portland Oregon, I cooked a Thanksgiving meal for just my grandmother and me in my tiny galley kitchen.  My roommate was with her family, and my mother and stepfather were in Florida.  My Grandfather had passed away several years earlier, so it was just us two.  In her place setting I tucked a sprig of fallen Ginkgo leaves that I had found on the sidewalk.  I knew my Grandmother was touched, and that my mother was proud of me for putting this meal together.  A young girl in her early twenties, choosing to spend thanksgiving alone with her Grandmother.  

My girls will never be able to do that for my mom, but I hope that I am raising them to be sweet, conscientious, and inclusive young women.  My mother's relationship with my Grandmother was complicated, (what mother daughter relationship isn't?!)  But the nice thing about Grandmothers? All of the love, none of the discipline! I really loved my grandmother, she was an elegant, larger than life woman, with a boisterous laugh, and the ability to talk to ANYONE- (I swear, she tried to set me up with every cute waiter she met!)  This week, I had the lovely occasion to go to tea at the Huntington Library, with my mother-in-law, my husband, and my daughters.  The last time I had tea there I was with my mother.  

After tea, we meandered through the grounds, landed in the Japanese Garden, and stopped to touch the suiseki or viewing stones.  Viewing Stones can evoke a variety of responses and most of the stones on display there are considered beautiful because of their unusual shape, color and smoothness. Visitors are encouraged to touch and even rub their hands against the stones to keep them polished.  The guide also suggested that you make wishes, "These stones are powerful, and are very good for wishing on."  And so I did.  I wished on all seven of those stones.  I wished for all of the things one would imagine.  I thought deeply of my mother.  And then I looked down at the ground, and saw the fallen Ginkgo leaves, and thought of my grandmother, and that thanksgiving all those years ago.  I do happen to believe in miracles, coincidences, kismet, whatever you want to call it, but that day and those leaves, that was a hello from my grandmother, and I thought  "Gram, if your there, mom must be too.  She just has to be."  And so that's what I will take with me as I head into the Holidays.  My mom is not here, but she is all around me.  

Grandma Dorothy Tasman & Carole Lawrence 1972 & 1995

Grandma Dorothy Tasman & Carole Lawrence 1972 & 1995


Day 200

The things we've handed down

Vintage organza blouse

Vintage organza blouse

"in·her·it : receive or be left with (a situation, object, etc.) from a predecessor or former owner"

That is a pretty spot on definition, and when I inherited the contents of my mothers closets, it was not only her clothing, but also the clothing of my grandmother, great grandmother, and great aunt.  My mother was not just the only one that the clothes fit, but also the one that loved these clothes more than anyone in the family, and so over the years, as the inheritance made it's way through the generations, my mother's closet became the final receptacle.  The closets have an almost archaeological element to them, with clothing organized by era, and style (evening gowns, furs, day dresses) I am always so happy when I can find a picture to post of my mom wearing an item I have inherited, but this particular item has an even more interesting picture; The photo I am holding is of a pastel portrait of my great Aunt Margery (who was the original owner of this blouse) made by my uncle Herbert.  Sadly, The pastel has been lost, but the photo of it still remains.  So now in a truly meta moment, I present a photo of an inherited blouse, while holding a photo of a portrait of an ancestor wearing said blouse, wait...am I going to open up a hole in the time-space continuum?  

let us hope not.


Day 199

The Grand Ol' Opry

Vintage black silk opera coat

Vintage black silk opera coat

I mean come on......It's a full length, black silk, hand beaded, opera coat.  That's just cuckoo bird!  And let's just have a chat about that collar, oh and the inverted back pleat and the BEADING!!!!   This is truly a work of art, and I cannot believe the craftsmanship that went into this piece.  If you stop to think about it, the lion's share of the beading and detail is actually on the back of the coat, how interesting, it's the fashion version of "burying the lead"  Also did I mention that it weighs a ton?  If you have any vampire friends that might need a cloak for a red carpet event, please feel free to send them my way.

Coat Detail

Coat Detail

Day 198

Lady in Red

Vinatge Red knit dress with sailboat detail

Vinatge Red knit dress with sailboat detail

I know this is not exactly a dress that screams "Thanksgiving's a-comin'!"  In fact this is a dress that screams "I'll have a framboise si'l vous plait" and "isn't the Croisette lovely this time of year?" But before I dive into what is surely my favorite time of year (a season totally dedicated to eating and drinking with friends and family!!!) , I figured I would trot this out for one viewing before it is relegated to the 'clothing not to be worn again prior to several months of hot yoga pile'  No joke, that is a real collection of clothing I own.  This dress makes me happy, it was always worn at some  summertime cocktail party, which meant I was home for a vacation.  It's hard to see in this photo, but I am wearing the dress with high heeled white canvas espadrilles that tie up the ankle (natch).  Ah, Vive l'ete...

Day 197...

This little bird has flown

Tiny Gold Bird Stick Pin

Tiny Gold Bird Stick Pin

Oh this little pin.  Stick pin to be exact. This was something I found when I was home this summer, long after I thought there would be anything left of my mothers to still find.  I was surprised that something so tiny had shown up, but really, that's the point, it was so little, it sort of fell through the cracks. I have always written about how I enjoy those rare times when I can post a photo of my mother wearing a something that I have inherited, but in this case, the photo is far more bittersweet.

In the photo above, you can see the weariness in my mothers eyes, or at least I can.  This photo was taken by my mother's best friend, photographer Frances Cox.  My mother could always be herself in front of Frances, and even if she hadn't been able to, I think her condition may have been hard to hide.  In this photo my mother is struggling deeply, in the throws of chemical dependence.  What had started out as the good time 70's, was rapidly descending into a crippling addiction.  

It is never pleasant for me to write about that time in my mother's life, and yet, to gloss over it would feel so phony.  There is no perfect family, no perfect parent.  My mother fought tooth and nail for her sobriety when she finally sought help, and that eventually overshadowed those dark times.  

Actually, I cannot believe the fight in her, she never gave up.  She just could not win against an unwinnable disease. 

Currently it is 4;22 am, and I am doing all the things that people tell you not to do when you have insomnia, sitting up, staring at a computer screen.  Today, I lost this pin.  I was out shopping for work, carrying too much in my arms, and it slipped off my shirt.  The level of sadness I feel is way beyond what I believe is healthy for a little piece of costume jewelry. The lurch in my stomach realizing it was gone, the fear of it being trampled under someones foot, or swept up into the garbage.  "Little bird," my mother sometimes called me that.  I am so, so, sorry I lost you.  The pin is not you.  None of these items is you, and yet, losing one of them is breaking my heart.  

 


Day 196

Night Shift

Vintage lace A-line shift gown 

Vintage lace A-line shift gown 

This is a dress that I wish I knew more about.  There is no tag, which leads me to believe it may have been custom made.  Underneath the lace over-dress is a nude colored duchesse satin shift.  This gown falls into the category of pieces that I truly love-but don't have many occasions to wear, unless I just go crazy, and wear it to Trader Joe's ones day.  Hey, I live in Silverlake - anything goes!


Day 195

It never rains in California...

Vintage Burberry Trenchcoat

Vintage Burberry Trenchcoat

Seems it never rains in southern California
Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California
But girl don’t they warn ya
It pours, man it pours
— Albert Hammond

Ah-truer words were never spoken.  But then in a miracle moment, it actually did rain on Halloween night!  Frankly, I would break this out even for cloudy skies with ZERO chance of precipitation.  This is one of the pieces that I don't have to think twice about keeping.  It is a classic to be sure, and one that I look forward to wearing for years to come.  Now bring on the rain!!!!!


Day 194

White Nights

White sead bead handbag

White sead bead handbag

White beaded bag tag & detail

White beaded bag tag & detail

What a sweet little bag, so delicate and perfect.  Truly I have not worn a white bag since my wedding, but there is something about this that would be so perfect with white opera gloves and a camel colored cocoon coat, right?!   The bag is unraveling a bit on the handle, but I think that is an easy fix.  I can't imagine that this was made by a machine, and yet- can't believe the skill it would take to make it by hand.  Oh and side note - the tag says it was made in Belgium, oh if only the Belgians knew a thing or two about artisanship.....


Day 193

The big reveal!

The Old Kitchen

The Old Kitchen

Ok - so the time has finally come for the big kitchen reveal! I wanted to wait to post it until I could have it photographed properly. (Thank you Amy Bartlam of Click Creative!!!!) I've been thinking recently about the old kitchen, while it was SUPER inefficient (dead corners, crumbling black grout on the counters, base cabinets whose main job was to ensure that each time I took out a platter, it would chip on the way out....you get the picture)  I made a lot a great meals in that  kitchen, and will always have fond memories of the years I spent cooking in it, but now let's talk turkey, pun intended - I LOVE my new kitchen.  I love each time I 'soft close' a drawer, or pull a tray out of it's own slot, or put the coffee maker away in the appliance garage.  Ah, a place for everything, and everything in it's place.  That is the OCD in me in full effect. Now if I can just organize the crawl space!!!!!!!!  Nah, that's not gonna happen anytime soon...or is it?  

Below are a few pictures of the new kitchen, but if you do get a moment to check it out on my website, there are more.  

http://sklardesign.com/Silverlake-Kitchen

The new digs!

The new digs!


Day 192

"Powder and Paint make ya' what ya aint'"

A collection of my mom's makeup

A collection of my mom's makeup

As you can see from the photo above, my mother had an extensive collection of makeup.  Amazing, high-end makeup, Laura Mercier, Armani, Francois Nars, Bobbi Brown, Chanel, makeup that I have not been able to part with.  In an earlier post, I touched upon what a sweet time it was, just us girls, perusing a makeup counter together, looking for a new concealer, or that amazing lipstick that would change our faces, and how much I missed that time.  I still miss that time, I will always miss that time.  But recently, I have been thinking about what makeup meant to my mom as she became progressively more ill.  It was the promise of a flush in her cheeks stolen by chemotherapy, or replacing moisture on her face after a physically exhausting day spent traveling from hospital to Dr's office in Manhattan's harsh midwinter. 

I will never forget the day my mother told me she had cancer.  It was August 2011, I was driving home from a yoga class, (I always tried to cram those classes in pre-beach beach time in NY)  She tried to be nonchalant, telling me that a previously benign spot on her lung, had been diagnosed as cancer.  She quickly went on to add that they were going to do a series of chemical treatments, and then she would move on to maintaining the cancer with chemotherapy in pill form.  I am not sure, and will I never know, if this was a story of hope constructed  for her or for me.  She was the most afraid, I found out later on, that she was going to have to lose her hair in front of me.  For all of the years we had a topsy-turvy parenting structure now my mom was trying desperately to protect me.  As anyone can see from her pictures, she was a beautiful woman, and I think losing her hair was a terrible blow.  My mom was old school, she had her hair done professionally, whenever she could, and it was amazing.  She rocked a Jackie O flip, in and out of it's era's of coolness.  

My mother went to the same salon near our home in Long Island for nearly 15 years.  Keeping the same hairdresser for close to 10 years.  This hairdresser gave my youngest daughter her very first haircut.  This salon was known not only known for it's hairstyling, but also it's amazing hairpieces and wigs.  The salon's wigs could veer into the thousands of dollars.  So when my mother asked as a long time customer, if there was any way they could help her with a wig due to the cancer, they said matter a factly- no.  "Our wigs are sought-after all over the world, and are of the highest quality, that is why they are so expensive".  Let's be totally clear, my mother was not asking for a free wig, she was asking for a slight discount, on account of the 15 years of patronage, oh, and the cancer diagnosis, you horrible, horrible garbage heaps of humanity,  My mother never went back.  I don't blame her, and boy do I wish I could have given them an earful. 

I was with my mother when she got the prescription for her wig  (who knew that was prescribable?) and went with her to Barry Hendrickson's 'Bitz-n-pieces" in New York City.  It is an unfortunate name I know, but she was treated with dignity there, and made to feel beautiful.  The Stylist that worked with her was jovially flamboyant, and sensed my mothers trepidation, about the upcoming haircut (head shave, let's be honest) and told her how lucky she was to have such a great shaped head (actually she did).  Proclaiming "honey, powder and paint make ya' what ya aint' your gonna look gorgeous!"  Together we picked out a chic, 'Jennifer Aniston-esque' chestnut bob.  My mother looked good in it, but from the moment she put it on I could tell she hated it.  When I look back at pictures from that day, I can see the sadness in her face.  Who can blame her?  My mother lived year round in warm weather climates, and no matter how much sticky tape you used, it must have felt uncomfortable and unstable.  Hell, I lose my mind after about 20 minutes of wig wearing on Halloween!  

That's why I think we were all so excited when my mothers hair began to grow back in.  It was not just about comfort, it was about hope.  A sense of excitement that growth and life were coming back to my mom.  We all loved how my mom looked with her new short hair, even my mom.  She really did look great, rocking a salt and pepper pixie cut. There were only about six months when she was really sporting her short hair,  but those images of her are some of my most vivid.  

Mom-you were always a great beauty, because your beauty came from within.  It was a radiating, palpable thing.  It was not going to be stripped away from you when you lost your hair.  It has not been stripped away even in your absence.  It is carried on every day in every memory I have of you. 

Mom with short hair

Mom with short hair




Day 191

Let Them Eat Cake

My Mother alongside some of her creations

My Mother alongside some of her creations

I have written a lot about my mothers killer fashion sense this past year, and at times spoken about her cooking, but I don't believe that I have ever showcased her talents as an incredible pastry chef.  Being a good cook is a skill, being a pastry chef is an art.  As you can see from the cakes above, she was a true artist.  She would think nothing of hand crafting several hundred sugar paste petals and leaves for a wedding cake, and could mold marzipan into every imaginable shape and likeness.  To master pastry, you also need patience and I believe, a sense for it.  It used to drive me crazy when I would ask her for exact timing on certain recipes, like her caramel for instance, to which she would respond "Oh honey, just take it off the heat when it looks right"  

I have always loved to cook, but was terrified about making deserts, and for most of my life, I didn't have to, my mom did it.  Over the years, I have collected every recipe she shared with me, and after she was diagnosed with cancer, she took on the daunting task of compiling her own favorite recipes for me.  I have three hand written recipes for her pie crust, and each one is slightly different!  Oh mom.  But as time has gone on, I have learned to put that crust together, and how to make caramel, and whipped cream, and buttercream icing....and I have become more brave, and begun to tackle the cannon of desserts.  I am not at the Croquembouche level yet, but I still have time.  For those unfamiliar with Croquembouche, here is a recipe: (and yes, my mom made a killer one)

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Croquembouche

This past weekend was the big fall fundraiser for my daughter's school.  At the event they have something called a "cake walk" basically like a big game of musical chairs, where if you land on the number picked at random, you can win a cake.  I have enjoyed baking some fun Halloween themed cakes for this.  I have two pictures below, one I made while my mom was alive, and one I made for this year.  My mom LOVED seeing pictures of the cakes I made, and always loved talking food with me.  She only got to see one of these, but I think she would have been proud about this years effort.  They seem sort of amateurish compared to what my mom could do, but they are fun, and were made with love.  Here is to sweet memories of sweet things.

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.
— Erenestine Ulmer
Bride of Frankenstein & Dia de la Muerta cakes for my daughter's school Fundraiser

Bride of Frankenstein & Dia de la Muerta cakes for my daughter's school Fundraiser

Day 189

Welcome to the dollhouse

My dollhouse

My dollhouse

I could not talk about my mother without talking about her love of miniatures.  In addition to being an amazing chef, my mother was an incredible miniaturist, she made the most incredible room boxes, and miniatures.  There will be pictures of those in future posts for sure.  This is the dollhouse my mother gave me when I was 8 years old.  I was instantly hooked.  I have never been able to, nor have I wanted to, let go of this dollhouse.  Over the years, I have done sporadic work on it, it is actually painted the same color as the exterior of our house in Long Island, and I attempted to shingle the roof.  It has found a new lease in life with my daughters.  Nothing makes me happier than to see them play with it, and I know my mother loved that as well.  In addition to her clothing, I have also inherited her vast miniature collection. Now that, I truly have no idea what to do with, but again, can't just throw out.  While my girls are still young, I parse out the things I think they will enjoy.  It's a sweet hobby really, I think there is such magic in those tiny little works of art.  


Day 188

Sea Change

Seaman Schepps shell earings

Seaman Schepps shell earings

This is a pair of Seaman Schepps shell earrings.  They were a gift to my mother from her incredibly generous and close friend Sarah.  She gave them to my mother as a thank you for helping her find her summer house. I am sure my mother's motives were twofold, she wanted to help Sarah find a place, but it was a bonus that it was walking distance from my mothers house.! After my mother passed away, Sarah asked me about the earrings, I could not find them anywhere.  Both of us were convinced that they were lost somewhere in the shuffle.  6 Months later, I was back in NY and I found them.  Below is the text conversation I had with Sarah after I found them.

Schepps Detail

Schepps Detail

Here is a little history on Seaman Schepps, just in case anyone is curious:

"An immigrant’s son, who grew up in the tenements of New York’s Lower East Side, Seaman Schepps rose to prominence in the 1930s with jewelry designs that challenged the status quo and defined a new style for the American woman. With his chunky brooches, “barbaric” bracelets and “bubble” earrings, Schepps pioneered a unique style of jewelry whose sense of splendor offered a new perspective to the world of fine jewelry.

Witty, over-the-top and flattering, Schepps’ jewelry embodied style and originality and was featured on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Look and other magazines. It appealed to a myriad of clients from Katherine Hepburn to Andy Warhol to the Duchess of Windsor and greatly influenced his contemporaries. Today, some 50 years after his death, he continues to inspire modern jewelers.

Through the 1930s, and into the 40s and 50s, new clients flocked to him at his store on Madison Avenue. Often clients wanted a one-of-a-kind bauble and commissioned Schepps to incorporate their old jewelry into a fresh new design. Frequently this led to landmark decisions that helped distinguish Schepps as an extraordinary talent. His client list included Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, the Duchess of Windsor, and members of the Du Pont, Mellon and Rockefeller families. By serving these most powerful and influential individuals, Schepps became known as “America’s Court Jeweler”.