image_539470344904957The glitz of a Chanel shoe pared with a ombre tweed jacket from Lafayette 148 New York.

image_53947051014348This has always been my motto in my wardrobe choices and when I assist others in planning and updating their closets and refreshing their hair and make-up.

It was time for my own refresh…..I’m not changing my signature base of black top and either a black pant or skirt and an occasional dress.  I am looking at a new make-up, a shorter hair-cut and new jackets and shoes, ah yes, shoes!!!! I am so tired of hearing all the convesations that one can or can’t wear this or that after a “certain age” whatever that means!  Let’s take a look at Iris Arfel, Tziporah Salamon or the ladies (and gentlemen, you can use a refresh as well you know!!!!) in Ari Seth Cohen’s books Advnced Style and Advaned Style: Older and Wiser.  Seriously, enjoy the fun, excitement and ease of being yourself.  Are there restrictions to what we can and can’t do, perhaps physically, but not our sense of who we are and what we wear.  Mini skirts should be left to those who have great legs no matter what the age, leggings never did get them unless worn under a skirt or with a shoe boot or boot or at the gym,. but not as a pant!

Now some pointers on how to shop….

  • Get a personal wardrobe stylist (perhaps me!) or a sales associate at your favorite store….Personal shoppers will take care of more than your wardrobe, they become your PA’s
  • Nothing wrong with shopping on sale, just be sure what you fall head and heels over works with what you have in your closet…adding items that can’t work, unless you are doing a whole new wardrobe (don’t we wish!!!!) isn’t smart at all
  • Think of adding one new trend or color a season
  • Adding a new shoe, handbag, piece of jewelry, sunglasses, scarf can make all the diffenence in your established wardrobe
  • A top notch alteration person/tailor can make your existing wardrobe look new and be able to make that little adjustment on your skirt or pant length taking it from dowdy (and who wants to look dowdy or dated!) to fab
  • A refreshed make-up….go to any store to any make-up counter and find a new look not only fun but empowering, we all love a new color lipstick and often need the new eyes of a trained make-up artist to give us the updated look along with technique tips
  • A new hairstyle and perhaps a fresh color, both will make you feel and look a million% better

Are you ready for my journey for a New Year New Nena….well here we go….. First up I made a long overdue (my hair grows very fast and I find it loses it shape quickly, I really need to get it cut every 4-5 weeks, hadn’t been in ages, bad Nena!) appointment with Daniel Paterno at Workshop Daniel Salon 

image_539470118295115Arrival with Danielimage_539470198059126Pondering the look…..cut it off Daniel!!!!

image_539470228711568Some of the old look on the floor…..image_539470285650732Much better, don’t you agree…..

A few days later I arrive at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago to do my make-up with Armenia Vasquez, the Chanel Business Manager, she is a delight to work with, please check with her, the Chanel Beauty boutique has so many wonderful upcoming events for you to enjoy.image_539469959312981image_539469972631423image_539469951591516image_539470009801908The Spring Chanel palette Armenia used on me (she had Googled me to plan ahead the look she thought would be best and she was spot on! Smart lady!)image_539469935890495image_53946955686051The Chanel special blush formed like a Chanel tweed….amazing!

image_539469569565254I love make-up charts, this is mine (wish I looked like the sketch…one lives in hope)…she did a green liner on top of a smoky dark grey liner above the lash and in the waterline under the top lash.  I usually do a nude on the lower waterline.  A blend of a couple of lipsticks for a softer red than I have been using…like it alot.  She kept my smoky eye and added a bit of blush, which I usually only do for evening, I also intensify my eye  for evening.  I liked the addition of the green, having green eyes they change from green to blue to hazel but the green brought out the green perfectly.  Luckily I have a lot of lid and it does like color… brows are in the process of growing in but must be groomed, they are wild otherwise and one can’t have wild eyebrows…oh my! I find having my make-up done, in fact any personal service, so relaxing and rewarding to take away not only a new and refreshed look but a new tip or two on application and/or color.

Next up wardrobe….I had been in the week before to review my picks for the photo shoot…image_539470450808004The initial pull…a couple of the pieces were sold (that is the idea!!!!) so you won’t see them in the actual photos.  I also took a couple of photos of the jackets with my shoe selection…one of which is at the top of this post…here is anotherimage_539470365977791I am obsessed with this Chanel tweed “sneaker” can you even stand the pearl detail, oh my.  The 10022 Shoe department at Saks Chicago is beyond amazing I wanted everything I saw but did contain myself with ones I wanted to share with you.

image_53946990359299When I got to the Fifth Avenue Club Bryant Keith Von Woodson II was ready for me with the garments pulled (we took a couple of minutes to pull more shoes) and was all set to photograph the “try-on” portion of the refresh.  He is always spot on with own trendsetting look as you can see reflected in the mirror.  New York City you had better get ready because as soon as he graduates from Columbia College Chicago in May he is planning on taking the Big Apple by storm….just saying!

image_539469878207016image_539470409428505Let me show you my favorite look of all, this incredible print jacket by Etro…love everything they do, but this mix of color and pattern is superb and would be the one piece to add to my wardrobe.  My closet is seasonless (a few hot weather pieces thrown in but mostly year round clothes…drop the turtleneck for a black shell or cammy for those hot summer days).  I am wearing my own new gold triple hoop drop earring a bargain found at the last Randolph Street Market, the next one is Satuday and Sunday, February 24 and 25 from 10 to 5.  I would wear a black pump with this to complete the outfit.image_53946974658994image_539470497905241Two of the trends I followed in the Spring 2018 shows I covered in nenasnotes, Crome yellow and a bold abstract print.  The jacket is from Lafayette 148 New York and the charming black lace trim print top from Kobi Halperin, one of my new favorite designers.  Can’t wait to see what will show us for Fall 2018 in New York Fashion Week shows beginning this week.  I’m suggesting a high heel black suede sling from Manolo Blanik.  The jewelry featured is from my own collection of jet necklaces, you can be sure there will be a feature on jet in the near future.image_539469805633221Love this Lafayette 148 New York jacket in an ombre black and white tweed but perhaps too similar to pieces I already own.  But it is a stunning classic that can be worn forever! Hum, I wonder and with that Chanel shoe…….image_539469795004381Another trend that I followed through all four major markets for Spring 2018, stripes, here on an Akris jacket accented with stripes that look like a bar code and a triangular detail of metallic.  The shoe, picking up another trend polka dots, Chanel’s clear and black patent with pearl dots…love!image_53946959308132All shades of pink were on the catwalks for Spring, this classic blazer from Oscar de la Renta, many items in my established wardrobe are OdlR.  I’m holding a slide, I don’t usually like them because I tend to walk out of them but found this one a delight in a charming rose print from Gucci.image_53946982600754image_539469757423854Every designer I ever worked with wanted me to wear red, not my color of choice but this one might be the exception.  Again from Oscar de la Renta and I’m showing you two shoe choices, both from GUCCI, the floral applique leather stiletto or the carnation embroidered flat. The pin on the jacket from my Bakelite collectiion also from a visit to the Randolph Street Market.image_539469855247259image_539558973934025For some unknown reason this looks architectural to me….like a pointilist painting of a skyline, vivid imagination, I know!  It is from the Akris Punto spring collection. The shoe I have chosen is from Ferragamo and is black patent with a sculptured gold heel, yum!

Well there you have it some of my picks for an updated look for Spring 2018 and beyond.  I will be covering the Fall 2018 month of the four major fashion markets starting this Friday…let’s hope I reign myself in this season and not do daily posts…we shall see, Fall Colelctions are my favorites!

Just a note, none of the vendors mentioned, including Saks Fifth Avenue, have compensated me in any way for this post.  All are my opinions and my photos via Bryant!



imageWho says you can’t go home again…….I’m back…..yes, you heard correctly, I have been asked to work on fashion shows for Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago and I am thrilled to do so.  My first return show was for a private client at a luncheon at the newely redone Ritz Carlton Chicago (I’ll post about the hotel another time!)  I thought it might be amusing to walk you through the steps in fashion show prep or Fashion Show 101, the way I do it!

First of all this was a pull from stock not an all one designer show so I could have a bit of fun with it.  The first thing you must think about is who you are showing to, fashion shows, after all, are presented to sell.  That might not be an immediate reaction of the audience but you want to intice your guests into the store to see what else is on offer.

I really can’t give you my thoughts on exactly what I pull or my thoughts behind why I select one look over another I guess it is gut reaction.  I most often go with a color theme and, of course, feature the trends of the season we are in, not an easy thing this time of the year since so much is on sale (lucky consumers….you get major deals!) but I found wonderful late fall and cruise looks.

My first step was working with Bridget Halanski, Director of Runway at FactorChosen, Chicago to select the ten models and make arrangemenets for the 5 dressers.  Having done that and gotten their comps I was off and running.  I met with catering at the hotel to see where we would be dressing and the room where the show would be held.

Next step was to pull the show, I made arrangements with my assistant for the week, the delightful Executive Office Manager, Bryant Woodson, Jr., who served as my right hand for prep and the show and who, by the way, had been one of my students at Columbia College Chicago in my Fashion Show Production class….a very small world! We met at 8:00 the Monday before the show…I got to the staff entrance and stood at the door in disbelief….there is a security keypad and guess what I didn’t have the code!  I also didn’t have the phone number for the AP office so I stood there for a couple of minutes and finally got to my senses and knocked and called out “Hello”….I was, obviously, let in by TaJ’ae Robinson and proceeded to the Designer Collections on the Second Floor to begin the fun part…The Pull!!!!  I do pull quickly and did so this time as well.  The garments were placed on rolling racks and taken to my office (don’t you love it I have an office!!!!)  I decided on four exits (don’t ask me why they are called exits but that is “fashionese”) forty outfits in all.

imageHere is some of the pull.  I wanted to do day into evening in color groupings and start and end with black, white and red.  Several trends I included were trench coats, moto jacket, shearing, some pink (see above), blue, glitz, etc.  All themes we saw in the extensive posts I did on the four major fashion markets a few weeks ago.  At the moment clothes are easy to understand not too much gimmick but very wearable, elegant looks. After the pull I met with the Beauty Collections Manager, Kristina Gutierrez to discuss the look I wanted for the models….bold red lip and smoky eye.  She arranged for several artists to do the models at the Store (they did their own low bun) and I must say they did a perfect job, exactly as I had envisioned!

imageI do the run of show (which is tranlated into a list for the attendees of the show and was printed in house) and then break it down by model to make it easy when the clothes are bagged and taken to the site.  I then went to 10022 Shoes to choose from the unbelievable selection, my oh my oh my, what a collection of shoes at SFA Chicago!  My new thing (and by the way I have been doing shows since I “retired” 8 years ago) is having the models carry one shoe that I have selected for that particular outfit.  It is much easier for the audience to see the shoe and easy to do, works well, in my opinion. The models wear their own shoes.

I was done…I left the next morning for my Thanksgiving feast marathon and returned the night before the show….loved that I didn’t have to scan (list the merchandise) change the hangers, remove the sensors, put everything in garment bags nor accompany the truck to the Ritz…I felt like a princess…..The truck came on time to the hotel and the garments were brought to the dressing room area where I had prepped the racks.  All that was left to do was unpack and place the exits on each models rack (two to a rack), easy.  My long time assistant, Alberta Dean, arrived and started steaming the garments…I really can’t do a show without her she has been with me for a zillion years (35!) and I don’t have to tell her what to do she just does it!  Yay, Alberta!

The show was flat on the floor with a white runner and I had at least 2 models out at a time worked well.  The music had already been selected.

imageI place the comps at the top of the racks so the models can easily find their spaces.  I line up left to right and let the dresses undo the clothes so they are familiar with them. shoes go underneath the garments and handbags were placed on the hangersimageThe item you see on the top right of the rack is a model hood, which I always have in my bag of tricks, it is a huge necessity when pulling clothes over your head (get one for yourself at Sally’s or on line!)  I put the moto jacket over the gold sequin dress, funky fun!

The models arrived show ready and early, I reviewed the garments with each model and we decided on shoes from their model bags. They had plenty of time to relax, text, chat, whatever, before showtime.  Of course, all goes in reverse after the show…clothes are zipped, buttoned, rebagged, picked up, and returned to the store.


imageThe Crew….Nena, Alberta, Katie Stickles, Stylist Manager, Megan Henry, Assistant Stylist Manager, Bryant and TaJ’ae they were all amazing, I don’t know when I have had so much support doing a show…kudos to all!

imageFirst exits in show order I have already posted this on Instagram and Facebook and the finale photo as well, but didn’t take any more shots of the show, difficult with you are in the middle of senidng models.  Bryant sent them to me, he has the run of show in his hand in the photo.

imageThe finale.

imageI thought it would be amusing to show you a photo from a show’s finale, probably early 1960’s, at the Hilton (I have done more shows at the Hilton than any other venue, I also did the first show at the Ritz Carlton when it first opened!)  You will notice the politically incorrect item the models are holding in their hands….packages of cigarettes!  The show was for a tobacco convention!  Wow have times changed but we still want to see wonderful clothes on lovely models and Saks Fifth Avenue continues to be on the cutting edge of style….fun to be back doing what I love to do!  Stay tuned……..there maybe more…….







I have been asked why I’m not doing HOW TO DRESS posts (I’m not even going to put an age here, find it unnecessary!)….when I began nenasnotes a year ago it was my intention not to do make-overs, street fashion, and most certainly no selfies!!!!  By now you know my background is retail and dressing clients on a regular basis, which I still do along with closet cleansing, personal shopping and general “how to pull yourself together” physically, not emotionally, but don’t they go hand in hand, I tend to think so.  Dressing well is not an age, size, gender nor need it be economically challenging.

Since this question is coming up more often I thought it might be interesting to take a poll and see what you would like me to do.  I would do make-overs or suggested ways to dress and do make-up, hair, etc. once or twice a month.  I have a couple of thoughts on how to do these posts with a twist.  I would be most appreciative of your comments….yay or nay….use the comment area below to let me know your thoughts or you can answer me on Facebook or Linkedin.   I am most appreciative of your support, thank you!

imageI think I have posted this wonderful Norman Rockwell drawing before but it is one of my favorites, so much so it is the screen saver on my iPad!

Both images from Pinterest, credit unknown.


I know all our thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of Houston and the other areas devasted by the hurricane and torrential rains.  While watching the heroic efforts by so many to help others we realize how much good there is in the world even in tragic times.  Perhaps not a time for trivia, but perhaps just the thing to take our minds to a subject that has been around for centuries and know that civilization will survive.


Miniature perfume bottles in a shadow box put together by one of my assistants many years ago. The batting was added by the Columbia College Archivists. My perfume bottle collection is a part of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago. My photo.

Sorry for the delayed postings…I have had some major tech problems…let’s hope they are resolved, shall we see…Tom H. I’m relying on you!

When I was in retail I had the privilege of attending many seminars on fragrances and launches of designer and unique perfumes.  During that time I collected many miniature perfume bottles, all tiny replicas of the full product.  I tried to keep all the boxes (you all watch Antiques Roadshow and they tell us to keep toys, etc. in the original packaging!) In some cases we received full-size bottles and I kept those as well.

Today’s post is about the bottles and packaging not the juice nor the history of perfume…we will get to those interesting facts in future posts.

Let’s begin with a most unusual launch we did at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago in 2005 with a personal appearance by the creator of many of the perfume bottles, we admire and wear, who created his own fragrance, Marc Rosen, and Shanghai. I had a lot of fun planning the launch and called upon my dear friend, Greg Hyder, The Peninsula Hotel, Chicago’s, Catering Director extraordinaire, to assist me by allowing me to use the charming wait staff from their Shanghai Terrace as well as serving their special hors d’oeuvres and a signature cocktail created for the event.

imageA must have for your fashion book library.

IMG_0287Marc autographed each bottle purchased….here is mine which is housed in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

IMG_0286Marc Rosen signing my bottle.

IMG_0288The exquisite packaging designed by Marc Rosen.

imageThe Shanghai Terrace servers. All the above photos are from the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageA photo I took in my library of some of the special bottles I still have.  The Norell miniature is from the relaunch of the fragrance that Neiman Marcus did a couple of years ago.  Same packaging a slightly updated fragrance.  Center is the iconic Chanel No. 5 which was given to me when I visited the Chanel apartment on my 50th Anniversary trip to the Haute Couture Collections, that shall stay with me awhile before going to my Archives, and the vintage bottle of Shocking by Elsa Schiaparelli. I did have the box but it was unfortunately destroyed…must find another one, that is the fun of the hunt for things you collect.  I am also looking for an original Lanvin Arpege.

imageSaks Fifth Avenue launched the Bob Mackie, Mackie fragrance in 1991, here is the relaunched signed piece in a limited edition for the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum’s celebration in honor of Bob’s Designer of Excellence Award in 2015.


One of the oldest perfume companies still in existence, Guerlain.  My mother’s fragrance, L’heure Bleu launched in 1912,  her bottle has a bit of juice and it still has the scent…it is Mom in a bottle!  My father gave her the entire set of product each Christmas until his death, I continued the tradition.  I think the Guerlain bottles are exquisite as are the fragrances.

imageMy bottle of my fragrance, Marilyn Miglin’s Pheromone.  I have worn it since its inception in 1978.  Marilyn’s story is a fascinating one, she went to Egypt to the research the oils, etc. used in ancient times and found many of the jars still held the scent…amazing.  I always get compliments on it.  As an aside, Marilyn was one of my small group of models back in the day! She was and is a stunner!

IMG_0334Kay Dobson. the Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago when I started and my second mother.  Joy was her fragrance of choice, here my bottle again a classic and one I will discuss when I do the Haute Couture designer perfumes.

imageTwo Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances, I don’t know where their caps are, that are going to my Archives…I just found them tucked away!  You note the bottles are inspired by the Shocking bottle, which was fashioned after Mae West’s silhouette.  Gaultier’s first fragrance bottle was inspired by Madonna!

imageThe packaging of fragrance and cosmetics is what draws us into the product…its all about marketing and appealing to our senses.  What I love about this piece is that it is housed in a square box, approximately 5″ x 5″ and opens to reveal a Chanel runway complete with the iconic Chanel mirrors, chairs set up for a fashion show and Mlle. herself with a mannequin on stage…I think one of my most favorite pieces in my collection…I think I will keep it for awhile!


As always with my Collections posting I advise you to attend the Randolph Street Market to see what you can find…this time Perfume Bottles.  Also, check your favorite stores for the classics even if you don’t wear them you can add to your vanity table.

More perfume bottles in the next Collections posting….in that post we will explore vintage collectible bottles, not by brand.


















As with all my profiles, I give my “subjects” a questionnaire to answer and the models questions, are, of course, different from my other profiles.  Karen, along with the other models I have “interviewed” for nenasnotes, was a total joy to work with, taking professionalism at its true meaning…always on time and show ready, glamorous when the garment called for that, sporty if need be, turning into a businesswoman for our Working Women Seminars, etc. Modeling is really acting and letting your audience think what you have on is the most fabulous garment they have ever seen and they must want to add it to their wardrobe!  It is all about “selling” that is, after all, the end result.  She always listened to instruction, and most importantly respected the designers (again, all my models did this, if they didn’t why book them again!!!!) Karen had a girl next door quality, relatable but with an edginess.


imageKaren Ryan’s first composite.

Let’s see what Karen has to say about her modeling career and what she is up to now….

When did you start your modeling career, was this something you always wanted to do?

I had never even thought about being a model, even though people had always said to me, “with your height (5’8 ½”), you should model”. I had gotten an MA in journalism at the University of Kentucky in 1974, shortly before marrying my husband, Bill, and moving to Chicago.  In Kentucky, I worked for one of the original educational television stations, Kentucky Educational Television (KET).  I got to watch PBS and its wonderful programming years before most of my friends and family.  When we moved to Chicago, I eventually worked for Pioneer Press, the local suburban newspaper chain, and by the mid-’70s, had worked my way up to Promotion Manager.  As such, my staff was responsible for special sections.  We did a fashion section every Fall, and in 1977, it was my responsibility to publish the fashion section with the help of writers and a budget for a photographer we had used in the past.  Ann Taylor was loaning us the clothes, but we had no budget for a model.  My staff and the photographer, Paul McCall said, “what about you, Karen”? I was not really interested in doing it, but I was overruled.

imageFrom another shoot very space age, very of the period!

I went to a makeup shop on Oak Street, learned how to do makeup for black & white photography, and we did it!  I wish I had kept that fashion section, but my first comp has pics from the photo shoot (see comp at top of profile).  I think I looked silly in a couple of them, but that was 40 years ago!  I found out that the camera didn’t love me (my jaw is too square) (Nena’s note, I so don’t agree!!!!), so I didn’t do much print work.  I started auditioning for fashion shows and was very surprised to feel comfortable and natural walking the runway. To use an old expression, the rest is history…I was lucky enough to meet Nena Ivon and work for Saks Fifth Avenue!

imageThis isn’t Karen’s favorite comp but I love it so I am including it…apologies, Karen!

imageFrom Karen’s scrapbook.

What was your favorite Saks Fifth Avenue Show(s)?

My favorite Saks shows were the Misericordia benefit shows.  Backstage we were usually so rushed that we didn’t pay attention to the happenings outside the dressing area curtains.


But I remember the first time I heard the voice of an angel, Sister Rosemary Connelly.  She spoke from the heart and to our hearts about the special people who live and work at Misericordia  I should backtrack here and tell you that before we married, my husband taught special needs adults. We’ve been avid supporters of Misericordia for many years, and I joined the Women’s Auxiliary over 25 years ago. The Auxiliary does many things, but my favorite event is the annual fashion show.  I always get a couple of tables at the show and get to catch up with all my besties from our runway days, including Nena of course. (Nena’s note, I will profile Misericordia in a future post.)

imageSome of the “gang” at this year’s Misericordia Fashion Show, all profiled in nenasnotes with the exception of Debra Balchen (Candace Jordan wasn’t one of my models but did model and was a room mate of Jeaounche).  The gentleman is Avron Fagel, a dear friend to all of us and the “music guru” for all my shows!

Who was your favorite designer and why?

Adolfo, hands down!  He was so nice to the models…before we walked out onto the runway, he would say, “You look so pretty”!  Other favorites were Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, Bob Mackie, Alexander Julian, Halston, Bill Blass (also very nice to the models) I especially remember the elegance of Saks’ Jacqueline, Comtesse de Ribes’ show at The Casino. I never actually worked with Diane von Furstenberg, but she is one of my favorites and I wear her wrap dresses today!


imageNewspaper clipping with Terri D’

What was your most favorite “behind the scenes” story?

Of all the people who assisted backstage at Saks Fifth Avenue, my favorite was Ruth Ivon, who we affectionately called Ruthy.  In 1981 we were doing a series of shows and I wore a full-length strapless gown just one week before this incident. The next week I was to wear the same gown and Ruthy could not get the top of the zipper to go up, even with me pushing it together with both hands. I was 3+ months pregnant at the time, which of course both you and Ruthy knew. She called Nena backstage, and sweet person that you are, you said: “skip it”! Who knew the body could change that much in just one week. (Nena’s note…this doesn’t only happen when we are pregnant but as we age our rib cage settles….its called gravity! and our bodies change and I would have to adjust what I pulled for my models!)

What are you up to now and how did you begin your new career/passion?

My career now is grandmother!  And it’s been my favorite stage of life…the joy and love that my grandchildren bring me are unbelievable.  As I mentioned before, another passion is volunteer work, especially with Misericordia. I also volunteer at a soup kitchen once a month along with hubby Bill.  Another passion is gardening!  We have a summer home in Wisconsin which I have landscaped with very little help from professionals.  The only landscaping I kept from the original plan when we built the house in 2003 were trees and shrubs. I have planted hundreds of flowers and shrubs on my own.

imageWith Ruby when she was a baby.


With the gorgeous grandchildren, Ryan and Ruby.


Karen in her Wisconsin garden with Ryan this Fourth of July.

What did your modeling years teach you that you are using now?

Humility, sometimes I simply didn’t get the gig.  I never asked why, and when one door closed, another usually opened.  Some of my best fashion shows were last minute replacements. This was before the days of cell phones. Early in the business, we worked directly with the fashion director at the store. If a friend could not get in touch with the director, and could not make a show,  she would call me and ask how fast I could get to Saks or wherever.  The models were very supportive of each other, hard to believe for those who don’t know the business, and maybe it’s different in 2017, but we had each other’s back.  Some of my best friends to this day are the people I worked with back then:  Nena, Jeanouche, (I am her son’s godmother and she is mine) Shelley, Shauna, Terri, D’Arry, Dori, Elsa, Diane, Debra … I know I’m forgetting many, please forgive!

imageKaren and Jeanouche in a photo shoot back in the day have no idea what this was for?????? Interesting composition! (Definitely a Nena’s note!)

imageThe best friends having lunch at Jeanouche’s home a couple decades later, from Nena’s photo album.

imageA Nena’s note… a “reunion” show when I was doing a “Hooray for Hollywood” lecture and had my model girls in garments from Saks Fifth Avenue to illustrate the garments in the films I was discussing, a fun show.  They still all can, most definitely, walk the catwalk.  Karen leads the parade on the left ombre blue chiffon one shoulder gown.  Of the ten pictured,  I have profiled six in nenasnotes….I hope I can persuade the rest to come on board!!!!  This is from Nena’s photo album.

I also learned patience and grace under pressure…occasionally we had wardrobe malfunctions backstage, and had to make the most of it, walk out on the runway cool, calm and collected. And most important: posture, posture, posture! When I was in high school (back in the stone age), it was not “in” to be tall.  I slouched, but for some reason, when I walked out on the runway, my shoulders were back, my tummy was in, and I felt a confidence that I had never had as a youth.  The models who worked for Saks Fifth Avenue had the best posture on the runway because we had the best example, Nena Ivon!  Thank you, Nena.

No, thank you, Karen, for being the consummate professional, loving friend, caring individual and perfect wife, mother and best gran ever!

All photos, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of Karen Ryan.




imageEach month at the Randolph Street Market I search for blogging inspiration and I always come across something that entices me.  These pots were no exception!  I found them at the Randolph entrance to RSM at Cosmic Girl Goes Home’s booth along with many other fascinating objects.  The proprietor, Robin Sweeney, doesn’t come every month, she travels from Ohio, but you will be greatly pleased when she is there, I love her ecstatic!  You can find her at her Instagram account @cosmicgirlgoes or on Facebook at cosmic girl goes home.  What I liked about these terra cotta pots is that they are already weathered.  Yes, you can do this yourself or perhaps you have some in your garden shed but if not you are in luck…I love the patina.

imageimageA couple more shots from the booth.  All three photos I took with my iPhone.


Let’s look at some ways to use them in the garden or in your home….all the following photos were found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.



A garden arch of terra cotta pots as well as pots for all the blooms.  I want to live there!


imageLove this!




Am I the only person who misses Martha Stewart’s original programs….I simply devoured them and really learned so much.  Perhaps they can be streamed somewhere…can’t you stream everything!!!!  One series she did was with Guy Wolff and it was absolutely fascinating.  Here are a couple of photos of his wonderful work  There are several very interesting Guy Wolff videos on YouTube.





imageOf course, I have to share his book….what would nenasnotes be without a book recommendation!!!!

The history of terra cotta (earthenware) takes us to ancient times and could be a very long post, instead, I thought I would briefly bring up Emperor Qin the first Emperor of China’s terra cotta army.  Thousands of the terra cotta soldiers were found buried with the Emperor, each with a different face.  I was mesmerized by them when many of them were on exhibition at the Field Museum last year.  You will want to read the entire story here are two sites to give you lots of information, The Smithsonian Museum Magazine has a great article as well as National Geographic  Check YouTube for in-depth videos on this unique view of history.





No recipe today, don’t have too much I can do with terra cotta, although you could think up something with fresh clean pots….hum, let’s think about that!!!!  Martha where are you when we need you!!!!




imageWSome wonderful prints, dated 1809, from Paper Patty’s booth at Randolph Street Market

I ended last weeks posting with bees and am moving on today but my friend, Gloria Groom, (if you didn’t read Gloria’s profile that I did several months ago, please do so and be sure to see the Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist exhibition through September 10th at The Art Insitute sooner rather than later!) called my attention to this glorious paperweight from The Art Institute of Chicago’s collection…isn’t it amazing.  You know me and books so I am including a book on Paul J. Stankard’s extraordinary contemporary creations.



imageIs this a fly or a bee, I’ll let you be the judge.  It is embroidered on a Schiaparelli Haute Couture dress.  Stunningly beautiful.

imageA botanical of beetles.

imageI posted several photos of the beetle wing embroidered gowns last week…here is a close up of the delicate work.

imageIsn’t this the most beautiful insect pin you have ever seen (there is another one further along in this post) it is by Faberge and is from a dear friend’s jewelry collection.  Photo courtesy of the owner,

imageI do hope none of us encounter any creepy crawlies this size…a bit of English humor.

imageA jeweled beetle minaudiere from Judith Leiber


Here a scarab mounted in stunning fashion from Stephanie Lake’s talented hands,  Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lake

imageThe cochineal insect gives us the natural dye, carmine, and is used for fabrics and in our red cosmetic products most particularly lipstick. Who knew!!!!


imageNot the actual beetle but I thought an interesting illustration.



imageA couple of photos on dragonflies…I have always been fascinated with them and you don’t see them too often.  This marcasite and enamel pin from Carrie’s Fabulous and Funky booth at the Randolph Street Market.  My photograph.

imageA beaded pillbox with a three-dimensional dragonfly from Judith Leiber.

image A miniature vase by Jay Strongwater  from my signed collection.  We did so many events with this creative genius at Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago.  You can be sure there will be a post on him in the near future!

imageThe second pin from my friend’s jewelry collection….a Faberge spider, this will cure anyone’s fear of the little creatures, don’t you agree!  Photo courtesy of the owner.


imageInsects captured in amber.

imageI love this watercolor of insects, do you agree?

imageThe back of a jacket by Gucci.  Love it!!!!


I have to do a recipe using honey….there are so many suggestions, you can most certainly add honey to your barbecue sauce for the Fourth of July, or perhaps top your peanut butter sandwich with it (one of my favorite ways to eat peanut butter) or add to your avocado toast, yum yum…I have chosen to give you a recipe for baked brie that you can serve year-round.  Enjoy.



  • 1 wedge of brie, about 12 ounces
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1 large French baguette


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place brie in a baking dish. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle With toasted almonds. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve with thick slices of French bread.





I’ve been seriously thinking about bees and how their demise will effect our beloved Earth, we MUST protect them and see that they continue to exist!!!  It got me to thinking about how insects, in general, are always with us and how they turn up in fashion, beauty, interiors, art, books…etc., etc!  I have gathered so much “stuff” that this will be a two-part post this week and next week.

As I was preparing to do this post I was drawn again to A. S. Byatt’s book, Angels & Insects.  I actually saw the film before I read the book.  I found both beautifully detailed, the 1995 film, in particular, was visually stunning, (I love Kristen Scott Thomas in anything!) but also disturbing.  If you haven’t seen it here is the trailer to wet your appetite.

imageFrom the film Angels & Insects, one of the main characters in costume.  No, it isn’t for a costume party it is a day dress but why, one would ask, would you want to look like a bumble bee???!!!


imageA Lasage gold embroidered bee that was created for an Haute Couture garment. Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageA truly magnificent gown and hat from the genius of Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.  I am obsessed with the faux tortoise shell detail scattered with gold and tortoise bees. The gold honeycomb and bees are all embroidered by hand.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageThe Lesage embroidered, on net, sleeve of a Chanel Spring 2016 Haute Couture gown.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageA jeweled honeycomb minaudière from Judith Leiber, I mean seriously…what a work of art!!! Pinterest photo credit unknown.  I’ll do a Fashion Flashback story on Judith Leiber in a future post.

imageA needlepoint chair seat on an antique chair at a private club in Chicago.

imageNapoleon adored bees and used them in many forms.  Here is a woven piece.  Perhaps I should adapt it for my logo!!!???  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageBee hives on the top of a downtown Chicago building.  All new commercial roof tops must have green space.  Many older buildings such as City Hall have gone green as well. Bravo Chicago.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

The following is taken from the absolutely fascinating website The Honeybee Conservancy  You can sponsor bee hives and learn so much about bees and their place in history as well as today.

“Although he was never a beekeeper, Napoleon used the honey bee as one of the most important symbols of the power and prestige of his empire.

There seems to be two schools of thought of why Napoleon’s government chose the honey bee as part of its iconography.

One school of thought says the honey bee is representational of the Merovingian kings, the founders of France, with whom Napoleon sought to align himself.


“When Napoleon moved into the Royal Palace at Tuileries he refused to spend money on new decor. However, he could not allow the drapery – with its embroidered fleur-de-lis (the French Royal emblem) – to continue to hang in the windows of the palace. His solution was to have the rich and elegant drapes turned upside down. The inverted symbol of the overthrown monarchy looked like a bee.  From then on, the tenacious bee became the emblem of Napoleon Bonaparte.

imageI took this photo at last month’s Randolph Street Market at Carrie Homann’s booth, on the Second Floor in the Ballroom, from a collection of insect pins. Isn’t the golden bee especially fabulous!  Carrie always has some insect jewelry at the Shows, but she has so many other collections I would suggest you check her out each month (I’ll be posting more from her especially her Bakelite pieces) and remember if you see something you like, at any of the booths, buy it, it many not be there later that day nor the next month.  When you find something you like be sure to ask the dealer if they have any other treasures you might be collecting, they will be happy to let you know what else they might not have brought that month.

imageA close up of a silver bee pin from Carrie Homann’s jewelry collection.

imageA magnificent necklace (I may need to make this my own, love it!) from the unbelievably talented Stephanie Lake (you remember the week of posts, the week of December 12, 2016, I did on Stephanie, her book on Bonnie Cashin and how she and her husband entertain)  Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lake Design.

Let’s switch from bees to beetles….a fascinating story about beetle wing embroidery this amazing phenomenon was brought, along with the site infomation, to my attention by my friend and Columbia College Chicago Faculty member, Virginia Heaven (you have seen some pieces from her vast collections of objects in past posts).  I, of course, needed to do some research on this and found a couple of photos on Pinterest photo credits unknown, that I am sharing with you.,



The following excerpt is from the scolarly journal,  Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide  It is an absolutely fascinating site.

The earliest form of insect-adorned Western dress derived its inspiration from beetle-embridroidered fabric from India imported by England in the 1840’s and 1850’s.”

Next Thursday we will continue to explore the world of insects in fashion, beauty and home…don’t freak out, we will look at some more beetles and the sheer beauty of the webs spiders spin.  I think you will be interested, and perhaps educated, I know I have been, in how they are used in ways you wouldn’t consider, and no, I’m not doing any recipes using them!!!!!

I leave you with a man and his suit……image




imageWhen I first read this title I thought what……….then I read it was part of a quote from the Fashion Icon, Daphne Guinness, “If I eat, I can’t work. I’ll eat when I’m Dead.”

The story begins with the death of one of the fashion magazine RAGE stylists, Hillary Whitney, who is found dead in a locked conference room of the magazine’s headquarters in New York.  It is ruled that she died as a side effect of the pressure of being thin (not the case!)  Our protagonist, Catherine (Cat) Ono, Hillary’s best friend and co-worker at RAGE, doesn’t believe this to be true.  Like any good mystery in the States or the UK, our heroine becomes “involved” with a detective, in this cases NYPD Detective Mark Hutton.  Along with her colleague, Bess Bonner, Cat sets out to find the truth to Hillary’s death.  We are taken through the often told tale of the seedy side of the fashion business (I’ll give my opinion on that in a bit), party girls (and guys), sex, drugs and rock and roll.  Nothing new here.  It gets interesting when we start hearing about drug induced creams and lotions and the billion dollar cosmetic industry and how all this ties together.  Of course, as in The Devil Wears Prada, everyone is stunning, tiny, ambitious and extremely well dressed, accessorized, coiffed and made-up in the latest whatevers!!! I’m not going to go into the plot as it does a few turns, nothing terribly mysterious but a fun ride none the less.

Some reviews I have read thought it was a satire, perhaps, but I found it to be exploitive. As you know, I have worked in the fashion industry my entire life, am I saying these things don’t happen, of course not, but what I must say is that with all the models I have worked with (and I have shared many of their stories with you…) they were naturally thin, still are (I was among them, not thin anymore, nor was I a model!!!) and didn’t starve themselves to death (actually one did have anorexia, many years ago, we didn’t know what it was then, and tragically, she did pass away) and I never had any compliments from visiting designers on having models who could not fit the sample clothes.  Now let’s talk drugs…yes, I had a couple of models who I knew did drugs, did they do this in front of me, no, of course not, but did talk openly about it and never came “stoned” to a show (or was I being naive!!) A lot of drinking goes on in the novel and a lot of late night parties….of course, that was part of the club scene, but again, not to the point of interfering in their work with me. I find it very frustrating that all novels about the world of fashion always makes it out to be a sleazy business…I would say on the contrary. This one has the young women trying to make it in NYC while the older women are fighting to stay in control, again we have heard this before.  Is the industry competitive, yes, is it exciting, yes, is it always looking for the new idea, yes, is it fast paced, yes, do you need ambition, yes…it is all of those things and so much more.  Fashion is a huge industry, employing millions and pumps billions into the economy.  I’m not wearing blinders and am well aware that there are sweatshops that MUST be eliminated, that wages aren’t equal all over the world, or in the US, again this MUST be stopped, that there are unethical people in the business and, unfortunately, most businesses.

Would I suggest you read it, sure, why not….  In the end, I would say, I expected more from the premise, our author, Barbara Bourland, is already working on a sequel, Maniacs, will I read it, you bet I will!





imageCatherine Grace O’Connell in Bhanuni dress at Anthropologie, Michael Stars hat

I want you to meet a new friend of mine, Catherine Grace O’Connell.  We were introduced by Annette Findling, whose profile I posted on March 6, 2017.  I was asked to join a group that was being formed by Catherine, The Fierce 50.  A group of women over 50 who have commen interests, fashion, decorating, books, self esteem…etc. this sounded right up my alley and, obviously, probably because of nena’snotes as well as a trend to featured “older” models in editorials and ads (Carmen, Lauren Hutton, etc.), books and movies…think IRIS and Advanced Style, I was interested in joining.  Shortly after that introduction and being accepted into the fledgling group (hardly that now!!!!) I met Catherine at a coffee get together along with Annette and Kendra Chaplin, Publisher of Chicago Woman magazine and we all enjoyed a converstion that could have gone on for days not just a cup of coffee.  Plans are being made to take The Fierce 50 Revolution much further than I think even Catherine thought of when she began this new venture.  Now sit back enjoy your drink of choice and hear about Catherine’s journey, I know you will enjoy the ride, her story is impactful and for her, and others, inspirational….she is filled with compassion and a love for life that is infectious!

imageBlue and white stripe StyleKeepers blouse from Aros, Paige Denim jeans, Sam Edelman shoes and Clare V clutch


My first impression was only recently. I came from a family that never gave any positive messages about myself. It took most of my life to undo the original programming and low self esteem that I suffered with for most of my life. I always knew that I had a flair and passion for fashion yet I was told that it was superficial and definitely not a career path. I had no idea that I had any talent when it came to writing and I never saw myself as creative in any way until recently. The launch of my blog was a real turning point in my life. I was coming back from having spent an entire year bedridden with seizures and I went down to 100 pounds. My organs began shutting down and on 11/11/14, I went through a Near Death Experience. The creation of the blog is what saved my life. Channeling my energy in a positive way and focusing on living rather than surviving made all the difference in the world. I found an internal confidence that I never knew existed. I had been on a deeply spiritual path and that was an enormous part of my recovery as well. Healing from the inside out, finding passion and purpose and reconnecting with the world and helping others was the key to saving my life.


I’m not sure I have “made it” as of yet. What I am certain of is that for the first time in my life, my beliefs about myself have changed. I like who I am and I love what I am doing with my life. Even while a young child, I felt different from others. I always knew that I had a bigger purpose and I was here to make a difference in the world and to try and leave this world a better place. Founding The Fierce 50 was life changing for me. My heart feels such empathy for others. I have never understood why people discount people due to age. To me, age is just a number and our attitude toward life is everything. The Fierce 50 brings a new vibrance, energy and hope to women at midlife and beyond.


Beth Briggs Illustration (Nena’s note, I think she is a brilliant illustrator and the images constantly change looks, fashion and more importantly, body shapes!)


I was passionate about fashion as a young girl. Believe it or not, I was raised as a tomboy and never had pretty clothes. I had 4 brothers and the house was a very male household with gocarts and motorcycles. I never had a Barbie doll.  When I was old enough to begin working at 13, I spent all my money on clothing. When I was 16, I took a bus to the mall and went to work at Charles A. Stevens. I spent every penny of my paycheck on clothes. It was such a confidence builder. When I would try on something new and beautiful, it would affect the way that I felt about myself. I found fashion to be incredibly empowering and life changing. It’s an amazing way for a woman to use her own creative powers of self expression. Fashion is the way the world views us. It’s kind of like a personal calling card. Let’s be honest, we live in a very image conscious world and people judge us based upon how we look. I don’t believe that you should ever dress for others but it’s a great way to express your personal style. When you look beautiful, you feel beautiful. Beautiful design has a way of shifting our energy and people respond to positive energy.


I’m surprised by how much I love to write. When I first began to write many years ago, I was going through a very contentious divorce. I was in a dark place and the writing mirrored where I was at during that time. As I’ve evolved and healed, I’ve found that my writing is coming from a place of pure inspiration. It’s really easy for me. The words just flow very easily. I don’t “think” about it. I just write and allow the inspiration to come through. Great writing always takes teamwork. My business manager is also my editor and he’s brilliant at it. We make a fabulous team. He’s actually my ex-boyfriend who saved my life when I was bedridden with Lyme. That’s a whole story that hasn’t been told. We have a great partnership and work very well together. When you write, it’s difficult to see certain things clearly. It’s always helpful to have a second set of eyes on the creative process.


Cleobella dress, Michael Stars Hat

I’ve also recently launched a radio show with Kathy Kaehler who was on The Today Show for 14 years. She’s a brilliant radio host and we make a great team. We launched Cat & Kaehler: Fiercely Empowering Women of All Ages Through the Lens of Midlife. It’s really a show about the art of reinvention at midlife. We have both been through a great deal of adversity and we share very openly and authentically. We are also the voice of The Fierce 50 and we can’t wait to share the stories of the amazing women, including yours, Nena! If I were to do it all over again, I would have gone to school for journalism and broadcasting. I didn’t any self confidence and never dreamed that I could be doing what I’m doing today. I went to Vanderbilt University and double majored in Economics and French. I was planning to study International Finance so that I could go to Third World Countries and save the world. The studies weren’t my passion. Serving others definitely was and that’s what I’m doing today in a very different capacity.


Oh, that’s hard. I have lots of favorite books. I’m a voracious reader. I grew up in the library surrounded by books.  I was drawn to biographies and autobiographies as a child. I went through some very dark times in my marriage and I found the spiritual path which lit a fire inside of me. I’m a huge fan of Wayne Dyer. I love his “A Spiritual Solution to Every Problem” and “I can See Clearly Now.” I also love David Hawkens, “Power V. Force” and Danielle LaPorte, “White Hot Truth.” I recently interviewed her over the phone and she’s the real deal.

As far as movies, I rarely get to the movie theatre but I did see LaLa Land and though it was brilliant. I needed to see it as I wanted the inspiration for a Chico’s video and it was very inspiring. Tom Shadyac made a fabulous and eye opening movie called “I  Am” that I found very inspiring. Right now, I’m watching “American Playboy” as I’m studying for an interview with Christie Hefner. She’s coming into the radio studio to do a live show in July and I’m thrilled. I have to admit that I was a bit closed minded about Playboy as I had certain ideas that have changed since watching the series. People may have preconceived notions about Hugh Hefner and Playboy. I’ve absolutely loved the series. Regardless of what you may think about him and Playboy, I’m fairly certain your viewpoint may change upon seeing the miniseries. He was a visionary and a brilliant businessman. I do believe that many women have a secret, sensual side that they may not know they have inside of them. He seemed to tap into this during a time period that was very conservative.

When it comes to theatre, I’ll take Musical Theatre any day. My favorite musical of all time remains RENT. I can sign along to that musical soundtrack any day. Although, you may not want to hear me sing. I belt ut songs at the top of my lungs and lets just say, I’ve never been trained!

I went to school in the South and Country Music and Southern Rock will always be my favorites. I put on the song, “The Fighter” which is a duet with Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban almost daily. I’m an energy worker and this song shifts my energy in an instant!

I grew up in Chicago and moved to LA 7 years ago. I’ve always been a seafood lover. My favorite restaurant is in the Northern Suburbs of Ravinia. It’s called Michaels. It’s run by Michael Paulsen who is also the chef and its’ truly the most divine food I have ever tasted. He starts with these homemade rolls fresh out of the oven covered in the most delicious cheese. It’s heaven! In LA, I live in the South Bay. My favorite restaurant is very casual. It’s the Fish House in Manhattan Beach. I would be great on a desert island. Give me fish and coconuts, and I’m a happy camper.


I took up yoga late in life. I started in Chicago in my early 40’s and I never quite found my spot. Moving to Manhattan Beach, I discovered the YogaLoft. If I had more time, I would become an instructor and train there. They have the most fabulous instructors. It’s very laid back with no pressure and I love that. To me, yoga is all about you. It’s not meant to be competitive. It’s designed to create space inside of you and to reconnect you to your mind and body. I also love meditation. I can’t say I’m great at it as it’s hard to stay focused but that’s the point. I went to a meditation retreat in Whistler with Deepak Chopra and Davidji. It was life changing. I remember coming back and people thought I had snuck away and had work done! I had to laugh. Truly. We had a week of 12 hour meditation and it was hard but brilliant. I try and do it every single day. I also do breathwork and energy work.


I also love to do artwork. I can’t say I’m great at it but I do enjoy simple meditative coloring books and mandalas.


I had an interior design business in Chicago. I wasn’t formally trained but I’ve always had an “eye” for beautiful design and aesthetics. To me, it’s no different than fashion. It’s all about creative self expression. I’m very eclectic and non-traditional. I did my home in Chicago and did the entire renovation. I lived in Winnetka and made it a very beachy home with soft whites, pale blues and seashell scones and chandeliers. I guess I have always been a California girl at heart! A California couple bought the home. I’m not a big antique collector but I do love the Asian philosophy. I collect things like Buddhas and Quanyin figurines. I love things that have deep, spiritual devotional meanings. My daughter told me if I brought home one more Buddha she was going to kill me. You have to laugh!


Oh, that’s a hard one. I have so many people I’m dying to interview. I absolutely love people’s stories. I’m one of those people that are very open and people love to ask me for advice. I was supposed to go on a cruise with Wayne Dyer right before he passed away. He would be at the top of the list. So would Mother Theresa, Jesus, Mother Mary, and David Hawkins.


I haven’t traveled a lot but have a deep desire to see the world. My favorite place would be either the beach or the mountains. I’ve never forgotten my first visit to Estes Park, Colorado or the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. I also love the beach. Maui is absolutely breathtaking and magical. I have a huge bucket list for travel. I would start with the Maldives and Bali. I’ve also never been to Italy and Greece. Those are high on my list.

imageAdidas Dress, Asos by Public Desire shoes


I love the sculpture at Millennial Park. I can’t recall what they call the sculpture but it’s breathtaking. (Nena’s note, I presume she means Cloud Gate!)


I want to leave this world a better place. I’m a total empath and I feel people’s pain as though it were my own. Quite honestly, that’s why I started The Fierce 50. It was painful to me to see how women over 50 were treated. I’ve not had that difficult of an experience myself. I believe it’s because people have always thought I was younger than my age. I’ve never ever lied about my age except to get into a bar when I was under age. Other than that, I have always believed that we should be proud of our age and celebrate every moment. I love being a crusader for women over 50. I intend to be on the forefront of ushering in a new paradigm where we are revered for our age and our wisdom, much like they are in the Far East. Every single year is a triumph and a blessing. Plus, we are sending the wrong message to younger generations. They fear getting older when they should embrace it.


I have an incredible homemade spaghetti that I make. It’s to die for and it’s one of my most requested recipes. It’s called Sensational Spaghetti and I also make a homemade pot roast that’s killer. It cooks for hours so the meat falls apart. I was a vegetarian for awhile and I was sick all the time. I had to add meat back into my diet. I work for a nutrition company that’s on the cutting edge of superfood nutrition. I’m a big believer in healing from the inside out and also finding balance in your life. I don’t believe in diets or restriction. I believe in moderation in everything! I used to have a sweet tooth and was an addict. It’s completely gone now finding superfood nutrition. I start every day with a vegan dairy free chai meal replacement shake. It’s my greatest health secret.


1 1/2 lbs Beef Stew
2 to 3 cups red wine
3 tablespoons condensed beef broth(glass jar in grocery store-not liquid or powder)
2 cans organic tomatoes, 1 crushed and 1 puree
2 bay leaves
2 large carrots
1 large onion cut into wedges
2 green peppers
1 to 1 1/2 packages lipton onion soup mix depending on flavor preference
Wide butter noodles
Homemade Biscuits
In a dutch oven, brown a pound and a half of beef stew meat in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil that you have lightly coated in flour.
Cut up carrots, celery, onion and green pepper. Add to meat when half way browned and saute together until meat is fully browned and veggies are soft.
Boil wine with beef broth and pour over. Add tomatoes and all spices and bay leaf. Cover and simmer on the lowest temperature possible. Keep checking as it has to cook very slowly. Sometimes, I move it halfway off the burner to make sure it doesn’t boil too quickly. Cook until meat is fork tender and melts in your mouth. Serve over the widest butter noodles you can find with homemade biscuits. Enjoy.

imageUrban Outfitters black and white check crop top and pants, Cult Gaia bag, Zara shoes and sunglasses, French Kande necklaces
All photos courtesy of Catherine Grace O’Connell



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