A portion of my fashion library.
I am almost giddy with excitement, why you ask….I am celebrating a year of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and what a year it has been. Meeting each month with bubbles and bites, door prizes, goodie bags and give away books with a great group of regular members, their guests and new attendees it has been something I look forward to. Meeting in an elegant Private Club, in my opinion, just adds to this special series. We spend a half hour mixing and mingling with each other, then an hour of discussion. I’m working on taping the conversations so I can share them with all of you….stay tuned.
Our signature bubbles…..
I thought it would be a bit of fun to review what we have read so far and what is on the calendar for the rest of this year, I’ve left some dates open to slot in new releases. I have, so far, only done new releases as close to publication as possible and most months I am in conversation, via conference call, with the authors, leaving time, of course, for Q & A. In addition, I always have the current book and the next month’s selection on site for purchase and work closely with my Independent Bookseller, The Book Stall
Some of us at one of the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club meetings.
Let’s take a look at what we read and a peek into the upcoming books that will be featured this year….
A book I highly recommended…I recommend all of the books we have studied. This is a highly researched, detailed account of Loulou de la Falaise and Yves Saint Laurent….great conversation with Christopher Petkanas and here is my Amazon review…
Petkanas gives us thumbnail sketches of each contributing source, a bibliography, notes, permissions and an index. He has left nothing out if we want to continue our research. It is written for all fashionistas as well as fashion scholars. A stunning major work on a family, a world renowned fashion house and the times they inhabited, a definite add to your library. If you are looking for fluff…look elsewhere, this is a serious piece while remaining a totally entertaining read.”
Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It yet another long over due monograph written by the keeper of the Cashin Archives, Stephanie Lake (I have written several nenasnotes post on Stephanie check the archives to sample her lifestyle and that of her husband, Cory and daughter Odette). Stephanie sent charming take always and book plates for the attendees. A fabulous in depth conversation that could have gone on for more that the allotted hour but that is true with all my authors.
A brilliant book part Dior biography and part the story of his homes in collaboration with just as talented interior designers. Loved this book unfortunately I could make the schedule work with author, Maureen Footer…she has promised to talk with us with her next book….let’s look forward to that in the near future.
Yet another of my Amazon reviews….I seem to dwell on my collection….ah well…
“I own over 1000 fashion books (my goal to own all published!), did I need to add another on Christian Dior, the answer is YES, when it is this extraordinarily researched and elegantly presented book by Maureen Footer. It is perfection and gives the reader a different slant of one of the most original and iconic of all fashion designers. Dior’s love for creativity in his fashion extends to his homes and salons and love of his gardens. Given the background of the elegant creators he worked with and Dior’s vision it becomes an intriguing story and the accompanying photographs are the icing on the cake. Adding to that icing an exquisite forward by another iconic influencer, Hamish Bowles. I do a monthly Fashion Book Club and this was a highlight of the series. Get this for yourself and for gifts, you will not be disappointed.”
Door prize box of Dior goodies and a goodie bag for each attendees
Another designer I had the pleasure of working with, Carolyne Roehm, who reinvented herself as a brilliant writer, I am obsessed with each of her books, they are glorious as is this one. Look at this stunning cover, the photographer non other than our own uber talented, Victor Skrebneski! You will find more of this geniuses work between the covers. So much to say about this look at creativity at its very best. Loved her designs, love her homes, love her floral talent and adore her books.
i have admired Valerie Steele forever and have heard her speak on many occasions. Her work as Director of the FIT Museum is exemplary and her books must reads and have in your library. I was beyond excited that she immediately agreed to be in conversation, and, by the way, will be back with us later this year with yet another exhibition companion book. We had a fabulous chat and the group was so enthralled that they didn’t make a sound, I had to ask them to say hi so she would know there were others in the room not just me!
Yes, another Amazon review….
“Book Review and other thoughts on pink in fashion and our lives: The book is brilliantly written, edited and illustrated. Giving us insights into a color that has been in fashion for centuries. I particularly like the layout of the book taking us from the courts of Europe when pink was worn by as many men as women through Haute Couture Collections to Punk to Red Carpets to Pussy Hats to Real Men Wear Pink to pink ribbons fighting breast cancer. We learn about the introduction of Shocking Pink by Elsa Schiaparelli to the iconic Yves Saint Laurent black gown with wide shocking pink bow, a garment, that Steele shared with us in conversation, that was a major exhibition coup and one she was especially excited to include. It is a MUST for your fashion library, but then all of Valerie Steele’s books are meant to be included there.
I have had the fabulous good fortune to have many brilliant authors join me in conversation for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and I must admit Valerie wasn’t an exception, we all learned so much! I hope she enjoyed the hour as much as I did and the attendees were in rapt attention, I might even say in awe with her at ease conversation in sharing her expertise which, in my opinion, knows no bounds. Bravo Valerie and thank you….here’s to the next book!”
Another author who immediately agreed to be with us and sent me an autographed copy of her book right away….what a joy to talk with the brilliant yet very down to earth, Caroline Weber, who is working on a sequel and will join us again upon its publication. While some might find M. Proust a bit of a challenge Caroline’s wit and wisdom and beyond extraordinary research discussing the women who influence his writings made all of us rethink delving into his works yet again.
I had to reschedule our January meeting due to inclement weather but was very anxious to talk with the amazing Hutton Wilkinson, I have worked with Hutton when he did his first book Tony Duquette as well as when he visited with his fine jewelry collection, also documented in a book…Dawnridge is as unique as both Duquette and Wilkinson are….nothing remotely like either gentleman nor their creativity exists to my mind’s eye….believe me when I say this conversation took on its own life….great fun. You can find his profile in the nenasnotes archive.
A book review…here you go….
“The beginning of the book gives us a detailed understanding of Tony’s life, and, of course how Hutton became his creative partner. The book is then organized by the three main houses and the elaborate grounds. Hutton takes us through the painstaking process of repurchasing many of the “lost” treasures of the home, the detailed drama of “reinventing” the original concept and not only enhancing it but bringing the dream into the reality of the 21st Century with its modern technology while keeping the essence and tradition of the original rooms, buildings and grounds in their transformations. The photos of the original rooms and new ones of the reinvented spaces are masterworks. I would go so far as to say an exquisite Phoenix has risen from the “ashes”. I could live in any of the spaces since my motto is definitely more is more and my most favorite color is green, let alone all the Malachite, and the chandeliers, and the layering, and…………totally dreamy!”
It seemed fitting to end the first year of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club as we began with a book on Yves Saint Laurent…another scholarly tome, heavy both in content and heft of the book and one not to be read casually (I do have two novels scheduled for this year, both with designers as their subjects!). It is the first on YSL written in English and not translated from French. The research is extraordinary. Yet another for your collection.
When we think of Vogue Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington immediately come to mind, well there was a third critical eye with Tonne Goodman whose vision complimented and completed the iconic magazine’s editorial content. Balancing Coddington’s whimsy with more straight forward, yet visionary, photographs….and photography is what this book is all about. And the photography is just beyond….I particularly loved the pages of Vogue covers. Very little text but lots and lots and lots of fabulous photos by all the well known and not so well known photographers of our era….fabulous book!
Another monograph, this time Dawn Mallo, the genius behind Bergdorf Goodman’s revamp and the discoverer of many designers…think Michael Kors and the force who brought Tom Ford to Gucci during her tenure there. John Tiffany brings his investigative reporting to this sensational book with much the same vigor he did with his book on the doyenne of fashion Eleanor Lambert…can’t wait to have John in conversation….it will be awesome.
Our first novel and it’s about Gabrielle Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli….wow, should be fabulous. Can’t wait to hear what author, Jeanne Mackin has to tell us about her research. It is my favorite type of novel, one based on fact…yes, historical fiction..love it!
Who knew one of my favorite male models (actually mad for all my male and for that matter female models….but) Marcellas Reynolds has written his first book and what a book it looks to be…and I’m hoping he will actually be with us in person, he is a Chicago guy…fingers crossed.
It’s been quite a year and lots more to come….I’ll, of course, keep you updated and let you know when I can share the nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club conversations with you…we just have to figure out logistics and get the author’s permission to tape them….stay tuned!! In the meantime you can read along with us, I post here and on Instagram upcoming selections.
More of my fashion library….
Nena with Danielle Hollis, Executive Director, Water Street Studios, Andrea Reynders, Designer and Exhibition Curator pictured in exhibition space. Here you can see the natural stone of the building….I am obsessed with art against natural material such as brick, wood and stone in my opinion, it becomes an artwork itself.
I recently had the great pleasure of being invited by my dear friend, Andrea Reynders who curated the exhibition, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER…Artists Explore The Theme of “Transparency”, to speak at a gathering at WATER STREET STUDIOS in Batavia, Illinois. My talk was to be in conjunction with their exhibition of mixed media art including extraordinary wearable art. Keeping with the theme of “transparency”, I did a Power Point presentation featuring some of the designers I have worked with through out my career, beginning with Bonnie Cashin and ending with Christian Siriano, just a small sampling of the over 200 designers and fashion influencers I did shows and events with from the mid-1950’s to today. Of course, I did a running commentary with some enlightening tidbits. The guests had great questions and I throughly enjoyed the evening most especially the incredible creativity of the artists work.
Let’s look at some of the work and read Andrea’s statement about the exhibition.
The Baptism…..DAWN ZALKUS
“I am a river, soft, inviting, nourishing, transparent. I cleanse away your demons and invite you to my shores. Drink from my waters. I can grant safe passage, or rise up in rage. I am powerful. Mountains move beneath my current. Whole ships are devoured by my abyss. As I invite you to swim in my pools know you may drown in their depths. Gaze into my pellucid surface. Let me enchant you with the rhythm of my tide. Bathe in my waters, refreshing, renewing, shimmering, mesmerizing. I am a river. Materials: Wax paper, quartz, tulle, canvas.”
Crystal by SUE & KATIE HOLZKOPF
“The experience of being under water physically surrounded by an intimidating clear expanse while simultaneously adopting a calmness and peace of the mind is what inspired our design.”
Materials: Paper quills, paint tarp, iridescent cellophane, plastic baggies, zip ties. Sue is photograped with the garment that she and her daughter, Katie created.
“Eye of the Beholder is an exhibition dedicated to the art of clothing as a second skin. With this year’s theme of Transparency we expanded the opportunity for artists working in various media and across scales and dimensions.
Transparency: n., transmission or admission of light –a clarity–crystal clear—sheerness, gauziness. V. to show through. Adv. see-through, revealing, lucid–clear, thin, gossamer, filmy.
Artists were challenged to clarify and translate what Transparency meant to them and to create a work that is either worn or observed. From garments that capture emotions we cannot readily share, moments that capture chrysalis transformation, to paintings that capture light in transparent layers of color, the work included here bridges the divide between poetic reflection and political comment and from dynamic movement to quietude.
The results are both serious and whimsical—an amazing cross section of personal interpretation. From sophisticated couture and hand crafted assemblages to paintings –all as a response to the idea of Transparency.
Come and be transformed.” Andrea Reynders
Fish Need Clean Water, Citizens Need Transparency by KATHERINE KRATZER
“This rallying cry, after a chemical dumping in the seawaters off the coast of Vietnam, should be a rallying cry for all citizens of the world. Corporate polluters, government ineptitude, business greed, poisoned humans and an unforgivable disregard for aquatic life and environments is threatening us all.”
Materials: Tyvek, assorted papers, watercolor. Katherine photographed with her imaginative piece.
The Unveiling by CLAUDIA CANON
“In a marriage, both parts need the ability and the willingness to see the true inner self and the responsibility to be transparent before committing to each other. The goal with my wedding dress is to enable the viewer to see the beauty of the exterior and also view the interior where the “truth” often exists.”
Materials: Japanese rice paper, tissue paper, tyvek
Translucent by MORGAN DONOHUE
“This dress captures the fragile balance between wanting to be understood, while also having a constant fear of failure in the back of your mind. Once we become see-through, we become vulnerable and sometimes invisible. The feathers emphasize how delicate the whole process can be, but also remind us that we have the potential to soar.”
Materials: Fabric, seeds, feathers
Childhood Transparency by PRESTON WILLIAMS. ”This piece to me is about growing up and defining who I am. Using my boldness as a strength then growing into a person who can be open and transparent.” Materials: Rice, bike tires & tapioca pearls
I asked Danielle Hollis, Water Street Studios Executive Director, to give me detailed information on the Studio and Gallery so I could share it with my readers. I know you will be as impressed with the concept and the space as I am.
The WATER STREET STUDIOS story…..
“In 2007, a group of interested community members, artists, a property owner and the City of Batavia started developing a plan for artist studio spaces. In the spring of 2008, a group formed Batavia Artists Association (BAA), what we now know as Water Street Studios (WSS)
The Batavia Artists Association at Water Street Studios incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit arts organization in the state of Illinois in 2009. Our mission is to help make the arts accessible to the Fox Valley area and beyond. Our vision is to be a cultural hub in the Midwest. Water Street Studios is committed to maintaining a welcoming and safe environment for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, or disability.
Our Art Education program provides high-quality art classes for all ages in a variety of mediums including drawing, printmaking, painting, ceramics, metal-working, jewelry-making, and more. We serve hundreds of students from 35 surrounding towns through our paid programming including Aurora, DeKalb, Naperville, Joliet, Rockford, and more.
Our Art Outreach program provides free art instruction for under-resourced families and schools in the area to help make the arts more accessible to those in need. Last year we provided over 2,000 free art sessions by partnering with key stakeholders in our community such as public schools, libraries, senior centers, and more.
We are in our third year of providing our Ripple Effect program to the Fox Valley area. Ripple Effect is a free, weekly STEAM class that focuses on integrating science, technology, engineering, and math with art. During this 3-week course, students between the ages of 8-12 learn about dendrites and fractals in nature and in math. This program is generously funded by the Dunham Fund.
We have 26 artist studios for emerging and professional artists to work in a highly creative and collaborative environment. The Artist Studios at Water Street Studios come with a wide variety of benefits to support artists including: subsidized rent, opportunities to exhibit and sell artwork, exposure to thousands of visitors every year, opportunities to be employed as an instructor, connection to a vibrant arts community, and more.
Our Gallery and Events program draws many new visitors to our facility to experience the arts. We provide 24 exhibitions and exhibit over 100 artists annually in our two premiere galleries, The Dempsey Family Gallery located on the first floor and the newly named Chicago Capital Gallery located on the second floor. Every month we host a Gallery Opening Receptions, Live Art Series events, Waterline Writers events, and other community events as scheduled.
Water Street Studios is the only nonprofit community arts center in the area that provides all of these services to the Fox Valley area and beyond through high-quality arts programming. We are able to make the arts accessible to our community through high-quality programming because of the dedicated efforts of our staff, board members, donors, and volunteers.”
For more information about Water Street Studios please visit their website at www.waterstreetstudios.org
Mammie’s Window by LISA YOUNGDAHL
“Mammie’s Window” is a colored pencil painting of my great-mother’s house in Kentucky. No one has lived in the house since 1963, and the owner has kept the house just as it was when my great-grandmother lived there. There’s even a filled cookie jar still on the counter. To the viewer, the windows are the eyes of a home. Through those eyes we see inside the tattered remains of a house abandoned over 50 years ago. We can only guess why it has been abandoned, but we see a bit of its history.” A Nena’s note….love this painting….but then I was gobsmacked by the talent, creativity, diversity and materials used by all the uber talented artisans.
I was beyond impressed with WATER STREET STUDIOS…two full floors of exhibition space filled with impressive works of art, artists studios, communal spaces, teaching areas….extraordinary and well worth a day in the country, a quick trip from Chicago and any suburb, make a day of it in Batavia and visit the other charming “sister” cities Geneva and St. Charles, where you will find antiques✔️interesting shops for clothing, home, one of a kind finds✔️restaurants✔️charming places to stay for a weekend or longer✔️seasonal activities✔️and more✔️.
I was lucky to have my BFF, Tom Mantel, with me. We had been at Lyric Opera for the outstanding production of West Side Story….amazing in all aspects. My host, the always generous and gracious, Tom Hawley, who kindly includes me in the Lyric’s Musicals as well as the Goodman season…always great to be with Christine, Elenor, Earl and Ralph. Fortunately the highways weren’t too hectic and we arrived at WSS in time to do a tech check. I had made reservations at Atwater’s the restaurant at The Harrington Inn in Geneva to have a late supper after my presentation. I have stayed there on several occasions, love it, need to go back soon….. We arrived around 9 and found ourselves to be the only guests in the dining room, strange for a Saturday night! Neither the food nor the service suffered, in fact both exceeded my expectations and were perfection. Do try both Atwater’s and The Harrington, you are in for a treat.
The Harrington, Atwater’s and our insanely delicious chocolate “yum-yum”!!!! Photos from Pinterest credit unknown.
All other photos taken by me with my iPhone.
Every day is Independent Bookstore Day to me, at least every day is “Book Day”! The above photo is almost my to be read stack….and I think it is short! I thought I would just do a short post of what is on my list. I never do negative reviews, so you may see a title that doesn’t get space on my blog or in reviews. Being a Pollyanna, perhaps, but too many to read, to read books I don’t enjoy. With a minimum (and yes, it is a minimum) of 12 fashion/lifestyle books per year for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club plus everything else I want to share…it becomes a bit overwhelming and I’m not a full time book reviewer….well here goes!
I’ve written about my life long book obsession and now I have the privilege of doing book reviews and recommendations on nenasnotes. And nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club will celebrate its first anniversary in May! Where do the years go…I can’t answer that for you.
I have been so fortunate to have The Book Stall as my partner for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club. They are fabulous with their cooperation and the staff is extraordinary in their knowledge and helpfulness, (they are not a sponsor of this blog!) I want to start taping my conversations with the authors to share with all of you in some format, probably a nenasnotes podcast….stay tuned for further details, a great way to begin year two! If you are interested in learning more about nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club you can leave your email in the comment section of this blog or email me at email@example.com.
The April book selection was the just released Yves Saint Laurent: The Biography by Laurence Benaim, the first originally written in English. A very long and minutely detailed accounting of Saint Laurent’s life…filled with quotes from those who knew this iconic designer. It chronicles his life from birth to death and was sanctioned by Saint Laurent’s late partner, Pierre Bergé. My group loved Saint Laurent’s life timeline as well as notations at the back of the book. It isn’t a one day or one weekend read, extremely through and one that will enhance your growing fashion library. The only negative from my group is that it isn’t illustrated…they do like “pictures” to emphasize the text…I can’t disagree since we are dealing with visual items….clothing and interiors. I hadn’t planned on ending my first year with a Saint Laurent biography having begun the journey last May with Loulou & Yves: The Untold Story of Loulou de la Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent by Christopher Petkanas, who discussed his wonderful book in conversation with me. I profiled the book on the blog last May. I would highly recommend you read both being the fashion savvy readers you are!
Next month’s selection is the newly published POINT OF VIEW: Forty Years in Fashion by Tonne Goodman and yes, it has “pictures”! I haven’t read it as yet…looks fabulous. The cover alone makes it a must have, stunning!
What am I reading right now and will review in detail…Ruth Reichl’s new Memoir Save Me the Plums…so far I am absolutely loving it and highly recommend you put it on you To Be Read list, I know you will love it too. Reichl is an engaging, brilliant and beautiful writer. Do you miss GOURMET as much as I do?!
Here are some my upcoming books in no particular order…full disclosure, I purchase many (all my fashion/lifestyle books), am given Advance Readers Copies (ARC) to review, and also use the Chicago Public Library…I’ve been a Library hound since birth!!!! I, of course, prefer to have a book in my hands but often my ARC’s are ebooks.
Yes, I do read a “cozy” now and again….clears the mind and I like a series when doing them, often I turn to Laura Childs.
I’ll post reviews on each….obviously it will take a bit of time to do them all and this is just the tip of the TBR pile…I obviously need to take a deep breath and jump in….bear with me!
This Books Books Books post, like all my book posts, is underwritten by an anonymous sponsor. If you are interesting in supporting nenasnotes please contact me for detailed information.
Retrospect vintage modern fashion chicago
RETROSPECT VINTAGE FASHION MARKET, Friday May 3 from 3pm-10pm and Saturday May 4 from 10am-6pm will be held at 2260 South Grove Street on the Chicago River, just west of Chinatown. Sponsored by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers with their Director of Luxury Accessories and Couture, Timothy Long, Media partners Modern Luxury/CS and Michigan Avenue Magazine and Luxe Bloom.
The evening event will benefit The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum and will feature a fashion show, produced by RETROSPECT’S Ambassador Historian and MC, Nena Ivon, with Chicago’s vintage loving Influencers wearing their own vintage looks augmented with picks from the unique participating vendors…
A quote from Nena, “Our local fashionable set, on the whole, are more intellectual than most any other place and more discerning. Chicago fashion hunters are well heeled and well hatted, creative, unique, and deadly serious about adorning themselves. Chicago is a different realm altogether and RETROSPECT reflects this.”
***HELD AT A NEW VENUE JUST WEST OF CHINATOWN, MUSEUM CAMPUS & LAKE SHORE DRIVE***
2260 S. Grove at the foot of I90/94/290/55
**COMPLIMENTARY ONSITE PARKING**
Retrospect weekend events and ticket information
Thurs May 2 – 7pm-10pm
RETROSPECT WEEKEND PRESENTS FUNNY FACE AT THE MUSIC BOX
Come dressed in your vintage best to Chicago’s oldest movie house the MUSIC BOX THEATREfor an exclusive showing of the 1957 Stanley Donnen directed movie “Funny Face”! A night at the movies with your friends from the Randolph Street Market and RETROSPECTvintage modern fashion will be just what the style doctor ordered! The evening will open with a brief panel discussion led by noted and witty Chicago fashion historian Nena Ivon and friends. “Funny Face” features Fred Astaire as fashion photographer Dick Avery, who is sent out by his female boss Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) to find a “new face”. It doesn’t take Dick long to discover Jo (Audrey Hepburn), an owlish Greenwich Village bookstore clerk. Dick whisks the wide-eyed girl off to Paris and with the help of an extensive wardrobe by Hubert de Givenchy transforms Jo from waif to supermodel. A classic for all lovers of movies and fashion! And following the movie, join us in the cafe for further discussion, drinks and coffee available for purchase. Hope you can join your new and old friends at this raucus and fun evening!!
$12 per person PURCHASED at musicboxtheatre.com
Fri May 3 – 3pm-10pm
RETROSPECT time to paRty shop
Come with your serious shopping party shoes on! The night has just begun and the shopping is the best date you ever had! Meet our superstar dealers, hear their stories and shop the finest, most gorgeous selection of vintage fashion, jewelry and other adornments ever assembled in Chicago! Enjoy bubbles and light snacks, dj, fashion show, photo ops galore and complimentary onsite parking. Ticket good for Fri May 3 + Sat May 4.
$30 per person
Sat May 4 – 10am-6pm
RETROSPECT the gReatest day of vintage shopping eveR
Now the fun can really begin when you shop till you drop and then you plotz with your new wardrobe improvements! Enjoy the view, you’re seeing an ocean of the most exciting vintage fashion, jewelry and adornments ever assembled together in Chicago! Bring friends and make a day of it! Onsite cafe, informal modeling, dj, photo ops galore and complimentary onsite parking and free street parking.
$15 per person or MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL – Mother + 1 Offspring $25
Sun May 5 – 11am-1pm
RETROSPECT: exclusive tour of silveR scReen to mainstReam exhibition / chicago histoRy museum
Exclusive private tour and lunch at the Chicago History Museum with tour of current Costume Collection exhibition Silver Screen to Mainstream! Showcasing fashions from Paris, New York, Chicago, and Hollywood, Silver Screen to Mainstream tracks how Hollywood’s glamourous reach extended to all classes in the 1930’s through the 1940’s. The exhibition tells a tale of making it big, making do, and maintaining appearances during a tumultuous era in American history. Featuring thirty garments by designers such as Chanel, Vionnet, Valentina, Paul du Pont, Howard Greer, and Adrian. You will be introduced to a time when sophisticated design lent a perception of stability as the nation grappled with its reinvention and created the “American Look”.
$35 per person LIMITED TICKETS
I know, I know I haven’t posted like forever….please forgive me. I will be up and running soon…I promise! To make up for it how about a couple of recipes from my recipe box….one brand new that I recently concocted, the other from Ruthy, my Mom. I did both today in somewhat of a cooking frenzy and now I am exhausted and writing this with wine in hand….yes, yes, yes! I know I should be doing Easter or Passover recipes (for some unknown reason I’ve never done a brisket, do send a good recipe along, but I do have a fabulous noodle kugel, that one of mom’s sales associates, a million years ago, gave her, it is amazing….which I’ll find and share later). I usually do either a ham (I love ham!) or leg of lamb, but I’m going out for Easter supper this year and what would I do with an entire ham….which I insist on doing because you need the bone in for the flavor…at least I think so..and how many ham sandwiches, salads, soups, etc. can one do. I’m not fond of freezing ham. Leg of lamb a different story I did one last year because I wanted to do my lamb curry, which I am mad for…so no big deal and cold lamb sandwiches…yum, yum, yum!!
I didn’t think to take a photo while preparing what I have named Nena’s Concoction…which it truly is….a no recipe, recipe….here you go…
This takes minutes to prepare and is perfect not only when you want something quick for yourself or your SO or a dinner or perfect for a buffet in a chafing dish.
The basics for one serving….
Throw a good gob of butter into a skillet, add a hand full of diced onions (I use already chopped onions saves time), a generous teaspoon of garlic paste (thanks Tommy for turning me on to this magic ingredient) cook until slightly brown, add a handful of fresh sliced mushrooms of your choice (I buy them already sliced…my knife skills aren’t the best…need a class), brown them, add a protein of your choice…I’ve used chicken (rotisserie chicken again my choice) dark or white or combination, shrimp (super yummy in this dish) could be all veggie, etc. Combine, add a hand full of frozen peas, add a generous splash (be generous!!) of Bristal Cream Sherry (again my preference, never use cooking sherry….dreadful stuff…always cook with wine or liquor you would drink don’t skimp) and heat through then add a generous amount of whole fat sour cream. And voila you have a meal I serve with any kind of rice that suits my fancy, which is cooking at the same time. I have become addicted to Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice, its really good, (this is not a commercial, just a handy suggestion!) a zillion flavors or egg noodles or pasta.
RUTHY’S SPAGHETTI SAUCE
Is there anything more nostalgic than using recipes that you have done all your life, I think not. And when I find Mom’s handwriting I get a warm glow. All of you would have adored her….everyone did. Here is her spaghetti sauce, yes, I know everyone has their own but this one is especially tasty. It is on the stove as I write this, just saying, and is smelling delish! I haven’t made it forever but had a taste for it. I’ll have at least two nice containers to freeze in addition to my Saturday supper. It was her go to when we had big informal gatherings…unless Daddy was doing something in his repertoire!
Serves 8 (easy to double or triple depending on # of guests)
2 Tablespoons parsley
4 medium size onions chopped
4 cloves garlic (I used a teaspoon of the minced in a jar)
1/4 cup butter
2 8 ounce cans tomato puree
3 6 ounce cans tomato paste + 3. 6 ounce cans of water water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup red wine (your choice perhaps a Chianti Classico) that you would serve with dinner
1 finely crushed bay leaf
1 box sliced fresh mushrooms
1 pound ground beef
1 pound long spaghetti
Cook parsley, onions and garlic in hot butter until soft. Add tomato purée, tomato paste, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, water and wine. Add browned meat( cooked in additional butter, then cook slowly for three (3) hours. Cook spaghetti according to directions, drain and place on warm plate, pour sauce over spaghetti, generously sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fun to do at table. Serve with tossed green salad and Italian bread, a light fruit dessert and, of course, bottles of Italian red wine, Salute!!
DESIGNING JEWELRY… AGAIN… IT IS A SERIOUS MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS FOR ME… BUT I TREAT IT MORE AS A HOBBY SINCE IT GIVES ME SO MUCH PLEASURE…
2 qt. mussels
1 large onion
1 stalk celery
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs parsley
1/2 tsp. ground peppercorns
Salt, scrape and wash the mussels thoroughly. Mince the onion and place it in a deep saucepan along with the celery, wine, and pepper. Add the muscles, cover the sauce pan, and boil over a high flame for 6 minutes. Shake the mussels in the pan two or three times during the cooking process so that those on top go to the bottom and vice versa. When the mussels are open remove and drain them. Pour the liquid in the sauce pan through a fine strainer, return to the saucepan, and reduced to about 1 quart of liquid. Add the Fumet de Poisson and cream and reheat over a low flame until liquid comes almost to the boiling point, stirring continually with a wooden spatula. Season to taste.Serve very hot without the mussels. This soup can also be served cold.
1 chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 6 pieces
5 black peppercorns
1/2 cup sesame seeds
5 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 dried guajillo chile peppers
4 dried ancho chile peppers
6 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
2 6-inch corn tortillas, torn into pieces
1 2.7-ounce disk Mexican chocolate, broken into pieces
Pinch of sugar
- Put the chicken and peppercorns in a large pot, cover with water and season with salt. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and set the cooking liquid aside.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing, until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside 2 tablespoons for garnish and transfer the rest to a blender. In the same skillet, toast the cloves, cinnamon stick, and anise and coriander seeds until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add to the blender.
- Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chile peppers. Heat 4 tablespoons canola oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles and fry until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with hot water and set aside to soak until pliable, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the raisins, pumpkin seeds and tortilla pieces to the oil in the skillet and cook, stirring, until the seeds and tortillas are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add to the blender along with the oil from the skillet. Add the softened chiles and puree, pouring in 2 to 3 cups of the soaking liquid to make a thick, smooth sauce.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chile sauce and fry, stirring, until thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add 4 cups of the reserved chicken cooking liquid and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 20 minutes. Add the chocolate and simmer, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts and the sauce reduces, about 20 more minutes. Add the sugar and season with salt.
- Add the chicken pieces to the sauce and warm through over low heat. Garnish with the reserved sesame seeds.
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk.
- 2 large eggs.
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled.
- 1 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal.
- 2 tablespoons sugar.
- 2 teaspoons baking powder.
- 1 teaspoon baking soda.
MIX IT ALL UP AND THROW IT IN AN OLD FASHIONED WAFFLE IRON, COOK TO GOLDEN BROWN, SLATHER WITH BUTTER AND MAPLE SYRUP AND SERVE WITH CRISP BACON!!!
Yes, this is a paint by number painting…I think it is a stunner and not what we think about when thinking of this craft. I saw it at last months Randolph Street Market (the March RSM is Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and 31 from 10 to 5 each day) and thought about doing a story….of course I did!!!! It immediately brought to mind two of my friends who collect the art. Photo taken with my iPhone.
One collects ballet pieces, here are some…the photos below were taken by me with my iPhone.
The other has over 400 pieces….I first met, worked with and became friends with Robert Groos, when he was one of the multi-talented Visual Merchandising team at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago and then in charge of Visual in the Highland Park store….his charm and extraordinary creativity would make him a friend to all and his passion for Paint by Number Art was unparalleled. Some of his pieces formed the background across the Store’s Michigan Avenue windows.
Aren’t they awesome….the art of window display at its finest.
Rob’s first purchase…what a handsome lad….
Two of his favorites, Roy and Dale…(a Nena’s note…I adored Roy Rogers as a child and dressed as Dale Evans for years at Halloween…all in white with gold studs and fringe, Mom made my outfit, and we got handtooled white leather cowgirl boots when we summered each year in Midland, Texas…yes, you heard that correctly! Keep following nenasnotes and there won’t be too much you don’t know about me! Just saying….)
Let me have Rob tell you about his collections in his own words….
“In 1995 I met a couple who owned an antique store in Chicago. They had a beautiful, well edited assortment of objects in their store. One evening they hosted a “Gallery Opening” that featured a selection of old Paint By Number paintings they’d collected. I attended and purchased three beautiful dog paintings from them. I fell in love with the paintings and decided to start collecting more to compliment them. Before I knew it I ws searching thrift stores and antique stores all over the midwest to locate PBN’s. I soon discovered that you could bid on PBN’s through Ebay and I became passionate about purchasing them there.”
“Over the years I built a sizable collection which now stands at over 400. The categories I’ve focused on are Dogs, Clowns, Ballet/Ballerinas, Religious, Landscape, Flowers and Birds. I’ve several extremely old paintings that were painted on canvas. Some are proudly signed and dated by the artists that painted them. Canvas is the material the original paint by numbers were sold back when Craftmaster first launched them to the market.”
“In addition to the painted PBN’s I have several metal Toleware Paint By Number items: Two waste cans, a magazine rack, a desk organizer and a small vase. These are pretty rare and not seen as much as the flat paintings.”
“In 1997 my Paint By Number collection was featured in Collectibles Magazine along with an article on my apartment and artwork.”
“In 2000, I used many of the paintings to create a massive salon style backdrop in the Saks Fifth Avenue, Michigan Avenue windows that featured Marc by Marc Jacobs denim pieces. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Dan Robbins who created the Paint By Numbers for Palmer Paint Company in 1950.
“I’ve stopped collecting the paintings now and have all but two stored safely away. I’d like to sell the collection to someone but would want to sell it intact and not item by item. It would make an impressive presentation in a very large loft home, or in a restaurant or kitschy business somewhere.”
A million thanks to Rob for sharing his story and his photos with nenasnotes. As you can see it is a superb and unique collection and if interested in purchasing the artwork in its entirety get in touch with Robert Groos at firstname.lastname@example.org
This art form is being revived, if you are in need of a new craft project and want to try your hand at this art or want further information, I suggest you go to My Paint By Numbers