Thursday, May 29, 2014

Stilettos and Stems - the Mariposa Cocktail

Guest Blog - by Veronica Shah

Why pair high heels with cocktails? 
Laundress, chauffeur, school volunteer, school party shopper, gift buyer, child supervisor, house administrator, appointment scheduler, child dresser, calls-from-the-principal fielder, discipliner, bum wiper, sweeper, duster, dishwasher, toilet cleaner, etc.  After a long week, and sometimes after a long day, I visit my shoes, pull on a gorgeous pair and walk to the kitchen where my husband has created a fabulous cocktail for me.  
I sit at the kitchen counter with legs crossed, look at my shoes, sip my cocktail and am transported to a mid-century bar in Paris or Tangiers or Hong Kong.  I am exciting, witty and incredibly stylish.  Until dinner time.
As a mother of two sons, and a wife to a husband (who was a bartender in a former life), I get inspiration from everyone around me. As my then-6-year-old (after a month of first-grade diversity training) mentioned one day, “Mama, you are the minority in our family.  You’re the only grull.”
High heels and cocktails, Stilettos and stems, whatever you call them, they go together – tall, feminine, and classy.  With that background as a grull, we created a magnificent cocktail called the Mariposa. 


I completely surprised my husband with a trip to Vegas on his 40th birthday.  He completely surprised me by suggesting we walk over to the Wynn and shop at the Manolo Blahnik store.  Jai’s birthday is in February; these shoes sang Spring to me when I saw them.  Wouldn’t you know it, they fit!
Manolo Blahnik 105 mm BB in Butterfly Fabric

The Mariposa cocktail also reminds me of Spring.  It’s floral, citrusy, slightly sweet and pale violet in color.  Great when Spring has sprung; great any other time when you are waiting for Spring to come.

the Mariposa Cocktail
1 oz fresh lemon juice
Round ice ball with orchid embedded
Put orchid ice ball into a coupe.  Shake all ingredients together in ice-filled Boston Shaker.  Strain into coupe.

Adapted from The Fashionable Cocktail

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Making a Comeback...Panama Hats

The unofficial start of summer has begun, and warmer weather has begun turning up in most parts of the country.

And while I love to sit in the sun as much as most...I also know the importance of having a good hat for those long days of sunning.

This summer, I test out a Panama Hat - perfect for the summer heat and humidity.

Panama Hats are of Ecuadorian origin, and are typically made from the plaited leaves of the carludovica palmate plant.

The hats tend to be of lighter color, are breathable and light to wear. Traditionally these hats were produced in Ecuador, and they got their name as they were usually shipped through the the Isthmus of Panama before heading to their final destination.

Pachacuti, a British hat maker does a great job of explaining how the hats are made, and their focus on fair trade and sustainability (they are also certified by the WTO Sustainable Fair Trade System). (Background here)

Armed with that background, it's now time to seek out the best Panama Hats around. I test out three hats ranging from $15 to $100 for look, quality and style.

Stay tuned as the three hats arrive, and I take them all for a test drive to find this seasons best Panama Hat.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Stilettos and Stems....New Monthly Column

Hello Thursday....glad you are finally here.

And what better way to slip into a three day weekend with the announcement of a new monthly installment.....Stilettos and Stems!!

That's right...two of my favorite things....using art-worthy shoes as a inspiration for cocktails!!

Every month, a different shoe will be highlighted, along with a corresponding cocktail that matches the spirit of the shoe.

Now men, just because these shoes are inspired by a shoe doesn't mean they won't have kick. These aren't just cosmo-like won't find floating raspberries or umbrellas here (unless they have some connection to the shoe). We get inspiration from books like the Drunken Botanist, and many more.

Our first round of installments will be some a great friend of mine, guest blogger Veronica Shah. She and her husband, Jai, come up with some of the most amazing shoe inspired cocktails that will stimulate all of your senses (plus, she has a awe inspiring shoe collection)

Watch over the next couple of weeks as we showcase our first installment...just in time for the official start of summer (think frozen flower ice cubes).

Stay tuned for more fun ideas....and the monthly column of Stilettos and Stems.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Material Things

It was 10:40 am, and I was driving home from a quick 15 minute errand to grab band-aids. I had missed a call from my husband, and as I was driving home towards our house, I saw the picture below and a frantic message that our back ravine was on fire.

I was one of the many San Diegans last week that was about to face one of their greatest fears - losing everything you own in a natural disaster.

As I finally made my way back close to my house, I was reunited with my husband, our dog, and several of our neighbors. In the moment, the first thing you reach for is your loved ones, and your pets. And wait.

Our fire (Carlsbad Poinsettia Fire) was one of 8 in the San Diego area. Graphic fire footage here:

I happened to be at about this vantage point, and stayed there for 2 hours until we were evacuated further due to a nearby explosion. There are really no words to describe a moment like this - and what took five hours from start to finish, seemed like an eternity.

As I watched our neighborhood burn, I looked down at the clothes I was wearing, my phone and my keys. I had no time to go back into our house and grab any belongings, nor did my husband due to the rapid evacuation. The thoughts that go through your mind at a time like this are surreal...where we will sleep tonight....where will we sleep when we don't have a house...what...where...when.

You stand, you stare, you pray. You pray. 

Deep down, you know that the odds of your house surviving anything like this are zero. 

You try to breathe. You hug strangers. You stare. You see helicopters. You cheer. The fire grows. You cry.

While watching, you feel helpless and want to grab a hose, a shovel, or do anything to stop the fire. I ran back to our group of houses to see if I could do anything, but the smoke was too thick to stay. After evacuating, many of us spent five hours waiting to see what would happen to our homes, although we feared the worst. 

As someone who writes about material things, last Wednesday changed my life. In a moment, you go from surrounding yourself with those "material things,"  - and when you are faced with a complete loss of everything, your perspective shifts. All the "stuff" that we have - and stuff that I blog about myself - becomes irrelevant.

That's hard to say as someone who wants people to read about this irrelevant stuff - but it's true. While it's fun to look at artistic shoes, and other parts of fashion, it's also important to gain perspective on what is really important in our lives.

By a miracle, our house and several others were spared, although one neighbor lost his home.

When we returned to our homes later that night, an enormous sense of gratitude was before us - and many of us found the firefighters (and some neighbors who stayed) that risked their life to save our homes. No words could express our indebtedness to these men and women who were the first responders.

When asked what we could do to show them appreciation, their response was humble and heroic. They had spent the last 5 hours fighting a 1700 degree blaze - and their first instinct when they saw us return was to check on our well being and state of mind.

The rest of the first responders were equally admirably, and made sure that everyone (including cats and dogs) were out safely (great article here).

And, while you can never be fully prepared for an emergency, there are three links below that provide helpful advice to prepare:
Certainly, this is one of my most somber posts, but it was something that had such a profound impact on my life that I had to share.

And while I won't swear off writing about shoes in the future, I will never forget the feeling of losing everything - and realizing what is most important in life.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Hunt is OVER...your best cut offs are HERE

If you're like me, you love when the weather gets warm, and the easy summer clothing sets in.

One of my my staple items are blue jean cut offs, and I am constantly on the lookout for the perfect pair. Not too short (gave those up in my twenties) and not too expensive (why does everything get more expensive the older you get??).

Lucky for me, I stumbled across a new favorite denim cut off, a Levi's 501 original.

Why do I LOVE these cut offs in comparison to the millions of pairs priced high to low? Let me tell ya why...

1 - not too short, not too long
2 - frayed at the bottom, but doesn't look like your jeans went through the wringer
3 - fantastic price: $58 at Piperlime (and free shipping :)
4 - a classic short that will take you all through summer

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Line I Love...Soludos

With temperatures in the 80’s last week, I was reminded of the dog days of summer….no makeup…rolling away from the beach with sun-kissed hair, and wearing cutoffs and comfortable shoes.

While I love my high heels, I also love a comfortable pair of Soludos flats. There are a million espadrille brands out there, but I happen to love Soludos. The origin of their name combines Salud (cheers) and Sol (sun). Cheers + Sun = cheers to the sun.
Happiness all around

This brand is one of my absolute favs for two reasons.

One - they are super comfortable, and feel as free as a flip flop.

Two - they are reasonably priced. I have seen a number of espadrilles types out there in snakeskin and other fancy fabrics. My advice to you…don’t spend more than $60 on any espadrille, unless you are totally in love.

Here are two of the most popular styles from Soludos...the classic espadrille and the sandshoe:

Armed with that information and basic rules....go forth and espadrille.



Clockwise, top right: //Ocean View // Derby Emerald // Palm Tree // Barca // 

Clockwise, top right: // Derby Stripe //Derby Yellow // We Are Handsome // Derby Red // 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Men, Your Feet Haven't Been Forgotten...Cowboy Boots for Men - Part 3

Men, this post is for you. And, since it is for you, I am going to skip the fashion-talk and get down to business.

Listen to need a pair of boots. You do. Click on the links below and spare yourself the time and agony of shopping with your wife/girlfriend/mother.

Fiture out how much you want to pay, your size, and click the link below. In literally 60 seconds, you can shop while drinking your favorite craft beer.

Wait now, you are asking a question... you say, "should I really spend this much on boots? Where will I wear them? Can't I get them somewhere else for cheaper?"

Answer 1: You can wear these boots anywhere, anytime, and you will look like a badass. Invest the money.
Answer 2: Would you like to scour Nordstrom's Rack and Boot Barns across the county to save $50? I didn't think so.

See...I made this post simple and relatively pain free. You're welcome.

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