PROFILE: SAMANTHA SAIFER BERNGARD

imageSamantha Saifer Berngard, Partner, Boldface Co.  Photo by Monia Ponce.

I am excited to start my Monday Profiles again…..and wanted to share a special lady’s story with you.  I met Sam several years ago….when she was at CS and I was still at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  We worked on a couple of events together and then re-engaged when she was at SPLASH.  We have kept in touch over the years and she was kind to invite me to a recent panel discussion with female entrepreneurs which I thoroughly enjoyed.  A fascinating presentation, lively Q and A.

Sam is definitely the face of the young modern woman, a wife, mother of two precious children and a true professional with her own business.  Let’s learn about her journey.

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

I went to school for journalism. I always had a passion for magazines, and I was always told that I was a good writer. Ever since I was little, I was infatuated with magazines and wanted to write for them! I interned at the best New York magazines – People . . . Conde Nast, etc. all through college. I graduated college and the only job I could get was assistant to the publisher at CS magazine. I thought it would be the perfect foot in the door to eventually transition into an editor position. Little did I know, the publisher felt I had a better talent for throwing parties / events / creating marketing programs, etc. I had never done anything like it but it all came so natural. I realized that maybe I never really enjoyed writing at all (I think the deadlines made me anxious!) and that throwing events was what I really enjoyed. It came easily, and I didn’t just like it – I LOVED it! From then on, I knew I was not meant to sit behind a keyboard.  Networking, meeting new people, organizing groups of people and curating awesome experiences – those are my talents!

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT”

I’m still not sure I have – ha! When I decided to go off on my own and join my business partner at Boldface Co., I was super nervous that it would be challenging to keep a steady list of clients and make a living vs. working for a company full time. The fact that we have never had to go after clients and have maintained a full book of business at all times . . .  that makes me feel truly successful! Also, being happy with my life and loving it – that is true success.

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

As I mentioned above, I always thought of my future self as a big time writer / journalist .  .  . my background in journalism led me to go to school in DC at George Washington University. It gave me many opportunities that I would not have originally had AND introduced me to all the right people. Once I decided to shift gears into marketing, event planning and now PR – I still utilize a lot of the skills I learned in school.  I truly believe in the importance of every single rung when you are climbing your career ladder. Keep in touch with everyone. Don’t burn bridges with anyone and pay attention to everything!

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

Now I look back in my training in journalism and wish I would have pursued broadcast journalism. I could have been the next Savannah Guthrie – ha! I am definitely a morning person, and I love to talk! I could have killed it!

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY, TYPE OF MUSIC) LOCAL RESTAURANT

Favorite Book: The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss. I read it to my kids and it reminds me of the infinite possibilities that life offers and how much they have to look forward to!

Theater: I am a SUCKER for Bye Bye Birdie – favorite musical of all time! I go to my friend Graham’s house and sing showtunes on the piano regularly. His husband had to learn Bye Bye Birdie for me!

Local Restaurant:  Le Colonial http://www.lecolonialchicago.com it’s been around 20 years and they have never changed their menu. It’s always the best experience!

HOBBIES….

I can’t remember my hobbies pre kids, but I most enjoy spending time with my kids (1 & 3) in my spare time. Everything we do together is my favorite thing to do! We have a lot of fun. If I get out on my own with friends – I sure do enjoy karaoke!

imageSam and her “Crew” on a recent Windy City Live (ABC Channel 7 weekdays at 1:00) the spot was for one of her clients, Monica + Andy www.monicaandandy.com

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

Our home has a modern and very open vibe. I like to think it reminds me of a little beach shack in the middle of Bucktown. It is cozy and nothing is too expensive (everything breaks with kids!) It’s definitely a house made for entertaining. We love to have people over more than anything!

imageWith husband, Jason, Brooklyn and Baby Billie June….they look like a photo out of Central Casting….photo by Suzy Brown for Monica + Andy.

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

OH WOW! That is a lot of pressure. I would probably have Michelle Obama, Olivia Wilde, Madonna, Joan Rivers, Jackie O, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton and Goldie Hawn  over for the most wild GNO / dance party of all time. I don’t know / care what we would eat – but I would have some excellent wine!

I’d also love for my mom, best friend and mother in law to join in because I think they would enjoy it!

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST

We took our son to  Isla De Holbox last year and had one of the best trips ever. It’s such a gorgeous untouched island, and Mexico is a very special place for our family. We met the most wonderful people who we still keep in touch with and hope to go back soon!  Italy will also have a spot in my heart because I studied there in college.

imageCamping with Billie June at one of the Berngard’s favorite summer vacation spots, Camp Wandawega (A nenasnote…I must do a post on this amazing place!!!) www.campwandawegacom

FAVORITE NEW CHICAGO RESTAURANT

Giant www.giantrestaurant.com

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FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART

I love Hebru Brantley http://www.hebrubrantley.com and his super hero mural on the Hollywood Cleaners in Wicker Park (image below).

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I also love the “We All Live Here” tags throughout Chicago – reminds me how powerful our Chicago community is. . .

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

Sweet & kind + ridiculously fun!

imageWith Billie June at Stephanie Izard and Paul Kahan’s recent Harvest Fest.

A FAVORITE RECIPE

My favorite recipe of all time is my mom’s “Sus” chicken! It’s a family favorite but I can’t give away the recipe 😉

I also look forward to my mom’s vegetable stuffing –we have it every Thanksgiving and sometimes stuffed in chicken breast – it’s amazing!!!

MOM’S VEGETABLE STUFFING

(serves 9 – can be made the day before serving)

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped carrots

1 box (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

4 ozs. Sliced mushrooms

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp.pepper

½ tsp crushed rosemary

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup chicken broth

8 slices day-old white bread cut into cubes

Make the day before: cube bread and put in plastic bag

  1. Large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, celery and carrots and cook 8 minutes stirring occasionally.
  2. Add spinach and mushrooms and cook 2 min more
  3. Remove skillet from heat
  4. Stir salt, pepper, and rosemary into beaten egg
  5. Pour egg and seasonings over the vegetables and mix well
  6. Put bread cubes in a very large pan or mixing bowl and pour vegetables over the bread cubes. Mix well. Pour cup of broth over and mix well.

Put in casserole dish, 2 quart size. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min.

BLOGS YOU FOLLOW

I love The Cut https://www.thecut.com – it’s basically how I keep up with my fashion news & not sure if a blog but https://www.theskimm.com is my go to for all news

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Off for a busy day of event planning for Boldface Co. www.boldfacechicago.com, (actually getting ready for an event in NYC) which Sam does so well.  Sam, a million thanks for taking time from your hectic schedule to answer the nenasnotes questionnaire and supplying me with such delightful photos!

COLLECTIONS: VINTAGE PORTRAITS

 

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Vintage portraits a super collectible in so many ways. You can make-up your family tree if you so desire, do fabulous wall displays, research the history of itinerant painters and naive paintings….the list goes on. What is the picture that I am opening with today, it is mine, sits on my desk purchased, (if I turn my head slightly to the right it is in my view while I am at my lapto)  a zillion years ago at RSM (Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com is Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24 from 10 to 5….it is the last outdoor Market of the season, it is, of course, year round inside Plumbers Hall!) it is an oil on wood and I have decided it is me with my. Mother, Ruthy. The frame is in disrepair but I like it that way (Tommy this one is for you!!!)

Come to Randolph Street Market this weekend and find one, two or more to add to or start a collection.  I am featuring some of my favorites as well as introducing you to Melissa Parks who will be at RSM with some of her treasures. Melissa is one of my most admired and go to vendors she has amazing taste and vision with her own collections and she gathers many, many, many items to share with you when she comes to RSM, a must visit booth….and I am absolutely mad for her Instagram posts you can follow her @megillicutti, you won’t be sorry.  l’ll try to convince her to do a Monday Profile…really want to know more about her and share her story with you…fingers crossed!  I asked her to take a couple of photos of her collection of portraits that she displays with her multitude of collectibles.

imageimageimageimageEach definitely has a story to tell.  I particularly like the gentleman who is looking directly at us…what is he saying with his very blue eyes and jaunty mustache!!!! Love all of them.  Melissa, thanks so much for sharing.

Portraits have always been with us and a way not only to capture loved ones but yourself as well.  Here are a few I found on Pinterest and have added to my favorites list.  I actually don’t collect them myself, but you know I have limited space, maybe I will start with some “smalls”!!

imageIsn’t she a charmer with the pearls and magnificent hat.

imageReally, really old but I really, really like her gaze and the primitiveness of it (is that a word!!!!)

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imageI believe a Chagall…

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imageMy photo at RSM, frames all ready for your art!

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imageJust a few suggestions on how to display your collection.

Another vendor I always visit at RSM  is Kevin Gorsch, find him in the Ballroom of Plumbers Hall and follow his Instagram @redleopardcrocodilevintage.  Kevin and I have known each other for years and, in fact, spent many a Sunday getting treasures at the Sandwich Flea Market.  He has shared a couple of portraits with me to pass along to you and included his entrance hall wall where he houses his “family” portraits!!

imageA pastel done by an American in Paris at Le Montmartre.

imageA portrait of Kevin at 13 from a show in San Antonio, no art could be more than $10, it was called the Starving Artists Show, no wonder!

imageKevin done a couple of weeks ago at the Lakeview Festival of Art.

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All of Kevin’s pieces photographed by him.  Huge thanks to Kevin for sharing some of his unique treasures with us.

imageShe is my favorite find on Pinterest…I have become addicted to the site.  I have always be a “clipper” it is in my DNA both my Mother and Father were clippers and I am proud to carry on in the family tradition…I must admit I still pull things out of magazines and newspapers but with all the ways you can save on the Internet I am in pig heaven!

Unless otherwise noted all photos are from Pinterest credits unknown.

I just heard on the Channel 7 News that The Hungry Hound’s www.abc7chicago.com/hungryhound featured restaurant tomorrow night will be one of my new favs and one I reviewed several weeks ago…PROXI www.proxichicago.com.  Emmanuel Nony promised to give me a recipe so here it is….enjoy and do go to the restaurant and enjoy a fantastically creative menu.

PROXI Restauran Andrew Zimmerman, chef

Fried Fish Collars with Thai garlic-chili sauce

Serves four

8pc fish collars, about 6oz each, cleaned by your fishmonger

or 2 whole fish (red snapper for example) about 1.5-2 lbs each, cleaned by your fish monger or and fish fillets that you like (one per person about 5-6oz each)

½ cup white rice flour

2 tbsp tempura flour

1-2 tbsp salt

2 limes, cut into wedges

12-16 sprigs of cilantro

8 cups vegetable oil (or enough to fill a Dutch oven or wide pot to a depth of about 6 inches)

Sauce:

2 tsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp minced shallots

1.5 tbsp sambal oelek

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp sugar

¼ cup tamarind water (made from 4oz seedless tamarind and 3 cups water…warmed up…mashed and then strained)

Pre heat an oven to 200 F.

Pre heat the oil in a wide pot or dutch oven to 350 F.

Have a sheet pan lined with paper towels topped with a rack handy.

To make the sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a sauce pan.  Add the shallots, cilantro and garlic.  Cook for about two minutes until the shallots are softened.  Add the samabal, fish sauce, sugar and tamarind water.  Cook about three minutes more.

Remove from heat and keep warm.

For the fish collars,  lightly season the collars with salt and them combine the rice and tempura flours.  Completely coat the collars in the flour mix and add them in batches to the hot oil.  Fry about 4-5 minutes or until lightly golden brown and hot all the way through.  As the collars are finished remove them from the oil and put them on the rack over the paper towels to drain.  Keep warm in the oven as you cook the remaining collars.

To serve:  put some of the sauce down on four plates.  Top the sauce with the fish collars. And then some cilantro sprigs and the lime pieces.

Serve.

Nena’s note…I am suggesting a wonderful dry white wine or champagne.  It is a delicious dish, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLLECTIONS: SMALL BOXES

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I have always been a fan of boxes, large and small.  Since I live in a tiny apartment and love to collect, I have to think small (as you know most of my space is devoted to my fashion book collection along with other books!).  Many of my pieces, which I will share in a future post, are very small and many of them reside together on the top on one of my chests.  All of them are memories of where I got them or who gave them to me.  You will find treasures at the monthly Randolph Street Market, www.randolphstreetmarket.com  who is one of the sponsors of nenasnotes and has been from the beginning of the blog, (the last of the seasonal outdoor markets will be on Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24, the indoor Market is year round!)  I took the above photo at the last market and placed my selection of boxes on a vintage carpet all are from Greg Johnson’s booth in the Ballroom on the Second Floor of Plumbers Hall. Greg’s selections of fabulous items are always a joy to see and his knowledge is amazing.  I love talking with him.  For some unknown reason, I didn’t take close up photos of the round Mille Fleur box nor the hand painted porcelain Sampson Paris rectangular box.  Let’s look at the other individual pieces.

imageI am mad for Asian pieces and this one is a gem….a rectangular Cinnabar box from the 19th Century with black lacquer inside.  The carving is, in my opinion, and I’m, most certainly not an expert, exquisite.  From Webster’s Dictionary:

  • Cinnabar red sulphide of mercury, occurring in brilliant red crystals, and also in red or brown amorphous masses. It is used in medicine

  • Cinnabar the artificial red sulphide of mercury used as a pigment; vermilion

 

imageThe top of the 1920’s Chinese enamel stamp box…does anyone use stamps anymore, hopefully, on lovely handwritten notes, I always love that personal touch, don’t you!

imageA beautifully carved Mother of Pearl box in different shades of the shell.  Stunning piece.

imageimage I didn’t take notes on this but it is obviously an old hand painted tile set into a carved wooden box.  It is shaped and gives me the idea that the tile was originally on a foot stool or a neck rest!  But then again, I don’t profess to be an expert,  just like what I like.  On that subject, do make the acquaintance of each dealer, you will learn so much and they truly love to talk about their treasures. Keep in mind your friends tastes and what they collect and stock up on gifts when at RSM and ALWAYS buy it when you see it and like it…it may well be gone in the minutes you walk away to make up your mind!!!  Haven’t we all done that……

imageWhen I was visiting my friend Barbara (I have shared some of her other collections with you as well as a couple of her recipes in past posts) I mentioned that I was doing a piece on small collectible boxes.  We got busy and gathered hers together on her marble coffee table.  Barbara is a world traveler and always brings back treasures for her collections and as gifts (over the years I have been the lucky recipient of many objects).  Let’s explore their stories….

imageThe first is a Russian Palekh hand painted black enamel box she got on a trip to Russia.  I love the primitive look of the painting,

imageimageThis beauty, we named it “Mother of the Pearl” major giggles all around…..is Limoges and my mother, Ruth, got it at Field’s AFar, many, many years ago it was a house gift from us.  In my opinion, it is an unusual piece and the interior is in an iridescent white totally resembling a shell.  Love it.

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imageTwo hand painted Herend Porcelain pieces from one of her trips to Hungary.

imageAnd Barbara’s Cinnabar box from her trip to Hong Kong.

All photos taken by me with my iPhone 7

From Barbara’s Recipe Box

SHRIMP AND VEGETABLE SALAD

1 large avocado

2 cups pea pods

1 pound cooked, shelled and deveined shrimp, sliced lengthwise

8 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

Romaine lettuce, cut into 1/2 inch slices

Dressing:

1 cup oil, including 2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 Tablespoons minced parsley

1 1/2 Tablespoons minced chives

1 Tablespoon minced shallots or green onions

Salt and pepper to taste

Peel avocado and cut into bite-size pieces.  Simmer pea pods 2 minutes, then rinse in cold water.  In food processor or blender, combine all dressing ingredients.  Process until blended.  Marinate shrimp, artichoke hearts, avocado and pea pods in dressing.  Refrigerate 3 hours, turning occasionally.  Blend in lettuce in desired quantity just before serving.  Nena’s note…it is a delicious recipe and can be served year round.  You know me, you will serve with a lovely white wine and crusty French bread.  Enjoy!

 

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: FASHION IN FOOD…SOPHIE’S AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE, CHICAGO

 

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Today’s post is another of my occasional restaurant reviews. I wanted to share my impressions on one of my favorites, 3 1/2 years old, Sophie’s. This little jewel is tucked away on the Seventh Floor of Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago. The good news is that it has its own elevator that whisks you up to the Men’s Store where it is located.  But I would recommend you take the escalator so you can “browse” the floors (and think about adding to your fall wardrobe while doing so!!!) going up and down before and after your meal.

Let’s first discuss the name Sophie’s.  For those of you who have been following nenasnotes, you have seen several posts that have mentioned the restaurant and my December 2, 2016, post on its namesake, Sophie Gimbel.  Sophie Gimbel was one of the most important designers of the 1930’s through the 1950’s.  Do pull up the post I know you will enjoy it.

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imageThe two large photos are of vintage Sophie garments and are the first things you see when you enter the restaurant.  You can see in this photo, the bar where you can have a refreshing drink to enhance your shopping experience and/or a bite to eat.

I was invited by Chef Ron Aleman and Chris Dunstatter, Manager, to sample Chef Aleman’s new menu.  It changes 4 times a year and special items appear more often, well, needless to say, I didn’t hesitate to take them up on their offer!

imageThe restaurant, I was seated by the windows to the right.  It is a view like no other.  This space was formally the Beauty Salon at Saks, in my opinion, a waste…I can only dream of the events I could have done here!  Oh well, I’ll have to be content with eating delicious food instead!

IMG_0402My view…isn’t it perfection!!

Now for the food….Chef selected two starters and two entrees for me to taste and photograph as well as two desserts, one of which was a trial run.  I usually indulge in a glass or two of wine, I didn’t do that on this occasion.  I must mention, that the burger is one of the best in the City…I feel an upcoming post on my favorite burgers in Chicago!

imageMy first starter Marrakesh Watermelon Salad, red and golden watermelon, mint, crispy feta, on mixed greens with a balsamic reduction with an olive tapenade.  Truly photo op ready and more importantly totally delicious…and I am not a fan of watermelon nor feta, this dish completely changed my mind!

IMG_0408Next was Focaccia Soppresata, fresh mozzarella, green olives, roasted tomatoes and truffle oil.  Chef’s version of pizza!  Amazing presentation and was very good.

IMG_0418And now the entrees…Pan Seared Chilean Salmon, with green beans, grape tomatoes, shishito peppers and truffle corn sauce.  I am a major lover of salmon and this was one of the best preparations I have had!

IMG_0411Not your usual Avacado Toast…isn’t it incredibly beautiful and tasted just as wonderful. I posted this picture on Instagram and it has gotten the most hits by far of any of my photos. The ingredients, toasted harvest wheat, a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg (you can see it tucked into the greens at the top of the photo) mixed greens, radish, marinated tomato salad.  Extraordinary!

IMG_0423Dessert was this lucious panne cotta on a cake base surrounded by a medley of fresh berries, a berry puree with a dollap of lightly whipped cream, not only gorgeous to look at but a delight to eat.

IMG_0428Oh, my goodness, the finale and at the time wasn’t on the menu….grilled fresh peaches with candied pecans and a scoop of ice cream….unbelievably good!

I do have to admit I only ate portions of each dish (why didn’t I ask for a doggie bag, I must have had a brain lapse!) but could have devoured each.

Do stop by and have a wonderful meal at a leisurely pace and a break from your shopping you won’t be disappointed and do let me know your thoughts after you visit. By the way, there is a private space to have a lovely gathering that holds up to 15 people.

Chef Aleman will share another of his recipes in a future post.

The food photos are all mine, the interior shots are from Sophie’s and others are from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

Here are a couple of summer drink recipes (I think they can be year round) from my recipe box.  I made these while visiting last weekend on our way to the eclipse (at home not during the drive!!!)

Nena’s Red Sangria

This recipe comes from the late Larry Dobson by way of Spain so very authentic.

1 bottle dry red wine

1 large orange squeezed plus 1 large orange thinly sliced

1 large lemon squeezed plus 1 large lemon thinly sliced

12 maraschino cherries with juices

4 jiggers brandy

4 jiggers Cointreau

2 Tablespoons sugar

Combine ingredients, stir cover and chill over night.  Spoon fruit into glasses pour in wine and top with a splash soda water just before serving.  Be careful this is potent!!!!

Tom’s White Sangria

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1 bottle dry white wine

1 lime sliced (additional for garnish)

1 lemon sliced (additional for garnish)

2 ripe peaches cut into wedges

3 ripe green apples seeded and cut into wedges

1 pear cut into thin slices

A hand full of seedless green grapes

3 shots of Calvados or pear brandy

3 shots of Triple Sec

Combine all ingredients and chill overnight.  Spoon fruit into glasses and pour wine over fruit, top each glass with a splash of soda water.  Enjoy, again potent stuff but really, really good,.

 

COLLECTIONS: BROWN TRANSFERWARE

imageA collection of brown transferware.  Photo courtesy of Pinterest credit unknown.

I did a post several months ago on blue and white transferware and discussed my own collection of green transferware, now here we are with brown.  Actually. these are the three colors I am familiar with (the blue and white), collections in friends homes, (the green) which I collect, or (brown) assembled while assisting with decorating a country home many years ago.  So brown it is today.  All of the colors and there are many, including pink, purple, red, even yellow, you will find examples to add to your collection or start a new passion at the monthly Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com which will be July 29 and 30 from 10 to 5.

“Transferware is a style of ceramics including pottery, dinnerware, and other delicate items. It uses transfer printing, a decorative technique which was developed in England, in the mid-18th century, particularly around the Staffordshire region.

The process starts with an engraved copper plate similar to those used for making paper engravings. The plate is used to print the pattern on tissue paper, then the tissue paper transfers the wet ink to the ceramic surface. The ceramic is then fired in a low-temperature kiln to fix the pattern. This can be done over or under the glaze, but the underprinting method is more durable. The process produces fine lines similar to the engraved prints in old books. Before transfer printing ceramics were hand painted, a laborious and costly process.”  From Wikipedia (never know how much to believe from this site but this seems accurate).

imageHere is a small portion of the collection I amassed several years ago.  It is a complete supper set found in various antique markets both here and abroad.  I started this collection before RSM began but have found items to add to it recently at the Market. I didn’t want anything very flowery nor with people but rather English scenes and a flower or two.  I don’t remember where I first found what I wanted for this country house but it just grew from there.  I do remember I was doing a fashion show out of town and went antiquing at a local mall on our way back to Chicago and happened to glance down into a case and there was an entire set of the exact pattern I was collecting…if you are a collector, you can only imagine my excitement…had to run out to find a cash machine and hurry back to make my purchase.  I have, as mentioned, added to the collection over the years but the place settings are done.  I add a pitcher, a platter, a bowl, etc. when I see them.  I particularly like the salt and pepper shakers on the top shelf, they were in the antique mall collection.

imageThe platter at the top of the breakfront was found at an antique market in the English country side.  I carried it and several other pieces back with me on the plane home, I was, for some unknown reason, upgraded to first class on the flight and my treasures were stowed very carefully by the flight attendant, she must have been a collector as well!

imageMore of the collection displayed on a rough white plaster wall.  I think very country, don’t you agree!

imageA group of pitchers found at various times on various treasure hunts.

imageI would love to find a similar cheese dome, isn’t it smashing!  Love it!  Pinterest image credit unknown.

imageGreat collection of plates from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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imageA couple of reference books found on www.amazon.com

 

Photos are all taken by Nena with an iPhone7 unless otherwise noted.

Some sites to investigate:

www.marthastewart.com  Transferware article….excellent information

www.marthastewart.com  video Transferware Questions

www.marthastewart.com  video How to Display a Collection in a Cabinet

www.transcollectorsclub.org

I thought since we are English today why not a typical English “pudding”….

ENGLISH SUMMER PUDDING

imageEnglish Summer Pudding Pinterest photo credit unknown.

2 tablespoon water

150g (5oz ) sugar

450g (1 lb) washed, mixed summer fruits, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries

100 to 150g (4 to 6oz) day old white bread, sliced and crusts removed, I use the divine Authentic French Brioche from either Mariano’s or Whole Food, I am totally addicted to it…or day or two old store bought pound cake, the technique and amount remain the same

Whipped cream, ice cream or your favorite home made custard

METHOD:

Stir the water and sugar together and bring to a gentle boil. Add all the berries and fruits except the strawberries. Stew the fruits very gently and not for too long.  They should simply be softened but still retain their shape. Once you feel they are ready put to one side (juice and all) and leave to cool.

Cut the slices of bread or cake, into half then each half into triangles. They do not all have to match perfectly; you will use these to line a 1½ pint/700 ml pudding basin.

Start by lining your pudding basin with cling film. Then continue by dipping a couple of triangles in the juices of the stewed fruits. Lay these in the bottom of the dish and then continue the same way but lining the sides of the basin with bread slices ensuring there are no gaps.

Once completed, fill with the stewed fruits including the strawberries. Cover the top with more juice dipped bread slices. Make sure not to add too much of the juices from the fruits as this may cause the bread to lose its shape. There must be enough to soak into the bread, though.

Place a saucer on the top of the basin and weigh down with something heavy like a tin of tomatoes or beans is ideal. Place in the refrigerator and leave overnight.

The next day, turn the pudding out onto a pretty serving plate, preferably a piece of your transferware, and serve with either the whipped cream or make some lovely custard sauce. If you are lucky enough to have scorching sunny weather, then serve with ice cream and champagne or dessert wine.  Yummy, yummy. yum!!!!

 

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: GARDENS PART 2

imageMy garden cherub (originally in my Evanston garden) now residing in a lush garden in Harbor Country, Michigan.

Today’s post is the continuation of my story on gardens I have visited and all photos are mine.  Some older than cell phone cameras so they might be a bit “off”, sorry about that!  Again, not a lot of text just a comment here and there. Enjoy lazy summer days.

imageMichigan or France….this one is Michigan with day lilies, hedges and beautiful trees around water….

imageHere we are in Giverny www.giverny.org a side trip when I was in France for the Haute Couture shows in 2006.  It was the hottest summer France had ever had, it was quite brutal and there wasn’t much color, grass was brown, blooms were not at their peak, but it was lovely in Giverny, loved it but then I have always been a sucker for Monet, especially his water lilies and it was like being in one of his paintings.

imageGiverny

imageMichigan

imageOur Monet at The Art Institute of Chicago www.artic.edu

imageMore Michigan and actually I think these are lotus flowers. “The lotus flower represents one symbol of fortune in Buddhism. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.”  Taken from www.buddhists.org

imageMonet’s home and studio in Giverny, glorious!

imageA charming home in a Michigan garden.

imageA vignette with Lutyens bench in the walkway next to the house.

imageMore Giverny

imageTrees being trained over an arbor in Michigan.

imageThe white garden and trained arch shrubbery at Sissinghurst, my Queen Mary II trip in 2004. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden

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Two views of Sissinghurst, 2004

imageA hidden treasure at Sissinghurst

imageNena in the Sissinghurst formal garden

imageSissinghurst path

imageMichigan garden path

imageBack in France, 2006 and Paris in the Jardin du Luxembourg on my last Sunday, glorious day.

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imageAnd another lovely Sunday this time 2017 and in a Michigan country garden

imageFreshly picked from the garden for a cold soup, how delightful to forge for your own dinner and carry your bounty back to the kitchen in a trug, seriously, how wonderful for a major City Girl to play Country Girl at least for a few days…….

Shall we now have a recipe….I’m thinking a cold cucumber soup, the Swiss chard soup we made with the ingredients above took a long time and was cooked plus we kept adding and adjusting ingredients and I didn’t write anything down, sorry…so let’s do a noncooked soup.

CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP ADAPTED FROM FOOD AND WINE

Ingredients

  • 2 large European cucumbers (2 1/4 pounds), halved and seeded—1/2 cup finely diced, the rest coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (Nena’s note…I would do half sour cream and half yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove (Nena’s note…I always use the jarred minced garlic not as strong but gives the flavor)
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Salt (Nena’s note….don’t skimp, always taste before adding more!!!!)
  • Fresh ground white pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped (Nena’s note….I didn’t find this necessary but up to you)

How to make this recipe

    1. In a blender, combine the chopped cucumber with the yogurt, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dill, parsley, tarragon and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Season the soup again just before serving. Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the finely diced cucumber, red onion and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.

      I would serve as a first course for dinner or perhaps in demi tasse with a glass of sparkling wine before dinner or a main course for a light lunch with a salad of all the summer bounty, lightly dressed, crusty country bread and, of course, a lovely light white wine….enjoy!!!!

 

COLLECTIONS: FLOWER FROGS

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imageimageAbove photos taken by me with my iPhone at Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com of Dollies’ Antiques and Treasures www.dolliesantiques.com who will be outside at the July 29th and 30th Market.  I became fascinated with her collection in May and she explained how she got started collecting Flower Frogs. Another reminder to engage the vendors in conversation, not only are they eager to talk about their treasures but you will learn something new every time…I most certainly do.

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imageA rare matte green flower frog

imageA marriage of a wire cage flower frog on top of a vintage plate.  Owner says it is quite useful for floral centerpieces.  Above photos were taken by Linda Heister of her flower frog collection exclusively for nenasnotes.imageimageimageimageimageAbove photos on how to use your flower frog collection (when not used for flower arrangements) from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

A site to show you how to use flower frogs from Martha Stewart http://www.marthastewart.com/271596/how-to-use-flower-frogs

imageA book, of course, there is….looks quite interesting…found this on Amazon.

When I was a little girl we lived in Rogers Park on the Northside of Chicago (I wish I had that apartment today, it had incredible space, never did understand the long hallway from the front door to the living room but  it did make a great gallery for my Father’s artwork, but no matter, it was extraordinary!) Mom and Dad would often take me with them (read, always took me with them) to dinner and one of our favorite neighborhood spots was in an alley at the end of Howard Street just before you came to Sheridan Road.  It was an exquisite French Bistro and I adored it.  One of their specialties was fried frog legs (don’t get your knickers in a twist, they happen to be delicious, taste rather like chicken, you should be able to find them in the seafood section of a Whole Foods for an example) and I couldn’t eat enough of them.  My Father was of Russian descent, so perhaps his food tastes were a bit more European than most, and he was a superb cook, as was my Mother, (he loved to cook and I would stand on a chair and be his sous chef, I wish I had his recipes, I have shared his borscht with you in a previous post) and I ate many unique items from birth, one ate what was in front of them, I wasn’t told to clean my plate but knew early on that what was there was the choice for that meal, therefore, I eat just about anything (no insects, please and no, they weren’t on Daddy’s menus….).  I am sharing a recipe for Fried Frog Legs that I found on the internet, it sounds much like the recipe used from my childhood….this nostalgia is making me crave them again….I need to get to the Store……..

FRIED FROG LEGS RECIPE FROM HANK SHAW
Prep Time
1 hrs
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 15 mins
This recipe works best with a combination of clarified butter, which you can buy in large supermarkets as Indian ghee, as well as regular unsalted butter. Or, you can clarify butter yourself; my colleague David Lebovitz has a tutorial here. You use the clarified butter to cook the frog legs and the regular butter for the sauce. Why bother? Clarified butter has a higher smoke point and holds up better when frying the frogs, while the regular butter tastes creamier for the sauce. You can, of course, use regular butter for everything, but it will scorch a bit.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Serves:  4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds frog legs (have your fishmonger remove the skin from the frog legs)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Soak the frog legs in the milk in the fridge for an hour. Meanwhile, mix the salt, black pepper and flour in a bowl, then chop the garlic and parsley.
  2. Heat 5 tablespoons of the butter in a frying pan large enough to hold all the frog legs; if you don’t have a pan large enough, put a baking sheet in the oven and set a rack inside. Turn the oven to about 180°F. You’ll use this to store the finished frog legs while you fry the rest. If you do have a large enough pan, set the baking sheet with the rack set inside next to the stovetop.
  3. Dredge the frog legs in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Fry in the butter over medium-high heat until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Flip only once if you can help it, as the flour coating is fragile. Set on the rack to drain when the frog legs are done.
  4. Discard the butter in the pan and wipe it out with a paper towel. Set the pan back on the stove over medium-high heat. When the butter is hot, saute the garlic until it smells good, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and swirl in the lemon juice. Arrange the frog legs on individual plates, and, right before you serve, mix the parsley into the sauce. Pour it over the frog legs and serve immediately.

    Hank Shaw’s comment: “I served my frog legs with sauteed chanterelles and crusty bread. But boiled or roasted fingerling potatoes would be another good option, green beans an ideal veggie, or maybe a bitter greens salad with a vinaigrette dressing. White wine or a lighter beer, i.e., a lager or pilsner, is a must”.

    Hank Shaw’s fascinating site, Hunter Angler Gardner Cook can be found at www.honest-food.net

COLLECTIONS: INSECTS PART 2

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

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 www.artic.edu 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.

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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 www.judithleiber.com

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Here a scarab mounted in stunning fashion from Stephanie Lake’s talented hands, www.stephanielakedesign.com.  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!!!!

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imageNot the actual beetle but I thought an interesting illustration.

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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  www.jaystrongwater.com  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.

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imageInsects captured in amber.

imageI love this watercolor of insects, do you agree?

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

ALL PHOTOS UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED ARE FROM PINTEREST PHOTO CREDIT UNKNOWN.

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.

BAKE BRIE WITH HONEY AND ALMONDS

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

 

 

FASHION FLASHBACK: ANNE KLEIN AND THE EVOLUTION OF A BRAND

imageAnne Klein in her studio with her inspiration board, sketches and fabric swatches. She along with Bonnie Cashin, Anne Fogarty and Claire McCardell  were the creators of “American Designer Sportswear”.  I must admit I have always found that description to be ludicrous, they were spectacular visionaries why tag them with the sportswear title.  Yes, they did separates but so much more…just as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren did all considered Designer Sportswear designers….oh well!  I was fortunate to work with three of the four, McCardell died right after I started my career at Saks Fifth Avenue. This press folder photo is in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageAnne Klein with her first husband, Ben Klein, formed Junior Sophisticates from 1948-1960.  I loved Junior Sophisticates and wore many of the pieces.  This photo typical of the time, could easily be an Anne Fogarty with it’s belted waist and full skirt, I wore her garments in high school and when I started working.  The ad from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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Anne formed Anne Klein and Company in 1968 with her second husband,  Chip Rubenstein, the lion logo was immediately identified with the brand. In 1970 Saks Fifth Avenue, New York launched the Anne Klein Corner, it was the first designer in-store “boutique”. Anne received many awards throughout her career and was recognized as the epitome of designer sportswear. At one point in time Saks Fifth Avenue did a series of needlepoint kits commissioned from designers, I needlepointed (a full post on my needlepoint craze, I have done hundreds of pieces, at some point in time….no pun intended!!!!) the Anne Klein logo as a gift along with one from Emilio Pucci, and if memory serves me, Bill Blass. Photo Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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For the Versailles show in 1973, organized by the public relations genius, Eleanor Lampert,  Anne was the only female American Designer to show alongside Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Halston and Stephen Burrows. The five Americans were showing with five Parisian designers, who showed first in a very formal staged production, while quite beautiful they didn’t compare to the modernity of the Americans who did a very quick presentation complete with jazz, twirling models, many African-American  models who went on to become super stars, and Liza Minelli!  They brought the house down and got a standing ovation and cheers from the jaded crowd.  American fashion came into its own that night and has never looked back!  For more on this show read The Battle of Versailles and see the film, Versailles ’73.  Unfortunately, not much footage is available and what there is is really not top quality, however, the film is fantastically done, you will really enjoy it if you haven’t seen it and if you have give it another look. Photo Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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imageThe Anne Klein medallion on the New York Fashion Walk of Fame.

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Louis Dell’Olio and Donna Karan were classmates at Parson’s School of Design and graduated in 1973 and went to work for Anne Klein.  I have had this press photo for years…so glad to finally share it.  It is in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

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When Anne Klein died from breast cancer in 1974, her assistants, Donna Karan and Louis Dell’Olio became the designers from 1974-1985.  They came to Saks Chicago and we did a formal show in the Store.  What fun that was. Several years later, when Donna had her own collection she was making a personal appearance at I. Magnin, they had a store on Michigan Avenue and Pearson (where TopShop  and Uniqlo are now) and were doing a formal show on the street between Michigan Avenue and Rush Street (what is the name of that Street!!!???) on the west side of The Water Tower.  This one block street was closed and chairs were set up in the street without a tent.  I rarely went to other stores shows, unless invited, I thought they would think I was “spying” on them.  Well, I decided to go to this one and sat in the back row.  Donna commentated the presentation and at the end walked the runway (the street), as is usual for a designer at the finale…she came to the end where I was, glanced at me walked about half way or so back toward the Store, came back to me, gave me a hug and said “I know you, you are with Saks…and your shows are wonderful!”  So much for trying to be incognito!!!  The next time she came to Chicago was to open the Barney’s New York store in it’s original location on Oak Street (Hermes now) and she arrived on a motorcycle which drove her into the Store, it was a blast and so was Donna.  I did not have the pleasure of doing a formal show with a personal appearance with her but did do several formal shows with her collections over the years.

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Donna leaves Anne Klein for her signature line, the rest of that story is fashion history.  The foundation to the Donna Karan brilliant 5 Easy Pieces, the bodysuit!

imageThe orginal “cold shoulder” dress! We see shoulders everywhere now, revolutionary at the time.

imageDonna has always been her own best model.  I so miss her basic 5 Easy Pieces, she had the look down for the professional woman, not only professional but rather sexy and very assured giving the wearer a power that a “power suit” couldn’t.  Her talent is sorely missed but we can still get her brilliance with Urban Zen. Above photos are from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageDonna’s plaque on New York’s Fashion Walk of Fame.

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A very blond Nena with Louis Dell’Olio, Anne Klein desinger from 1985-1993.  Louis, while at Parsons apprenticed with the genius, Norman Norell (as you know one of my idols!) during a summer break and won the Norman Norell Scholarship. Saks did several personal appearances with Louis all at formal fashion shows and, as usual, benefits for local charities.  One I fondly remember was held in Stanley Field Hall at the Field Museum of Natural History.  I love using staircases for fashion shows  (my Corporate Office would always ask me if I only did shows on stiarways, my answer “Whenever possible!”) My production guru, Deb Gohr of Ravenswood Studios, was a genius in fulfilling my staging vision for all our shows.  This one used the double staircase at the South end of the Museum lobby (can you believe I can’t find a photo, in my files or on line!!!) I wanted the runway to come off the stairs and be seamless, and Deb did this perfectly. It was flawless at least up to a point….(I think this was one of the first shows Deb and I did together, we are still staging shows!!!!). I was only using the staircase to begin the show with the models coming down, in tandum, on each side.  That worked well.  The rest of the show they entered from each side of the runway, not a problem and then I wanted several to appear at the top of the staircase and walk down the stairs for the finale.  All good so far, I put those few models in their gowns on the elevator, I waited to cue my assistant who was at the next floor of the Museum next to the Hall of Gems. Nothing happened for what seemed like an eternity, the elevator had gotten stuck, after the brief pause out they came, very dramatically (think Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face in her red gown in front of the Winged Venus on the stairs of the Louvre and you get the picture!)  All was saved and actually made a much more exciting finale…everyone thought it was planned!!!!  I have now revealed a long kept not so secret secret!

In the above photo, I am wearing a signature look of Louis, one color combination in three textures and patterns.  This outfit is chocolate brown and cream, the fitted jacket is a silk tweed, the sweater a silk knit and the pencil skirt, wrapped to one side, in another tweed a combination of silk and wool.  I wore it for many years and adored both the man and his esthetic! Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageA watercolor that Louis did for the cover of an invitation for a benefit show we did at China Club.  The finale was red gowns.  It was stunning and perfect in a club atomsphere (that was when we dressed to go out!!!!)  The night before we dined with Oprah Winfrey, who was beginning her Chicago career, a friend and client of Louis.  The last time I worked with Louis was with his glorious fur collection.  I miss his talent and being able to showcase his expertise.  This watercolor is in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageA typical look by Louis Dell’Olio.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageLouis always liked to do the color head to toe…here you see the hose and shoes, (he often included gloves and fabulous jewelry), all Anne Klein and Company, matching the skirt, the jacket in a contrasting red, a Dell’Olio signature. Pinterest photo credit unknown.

THE shows you always wanted to see in addition to Designer Shows were the Designer Sportswear Shows, Louis Dell’Olio for Anne Klein, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.  Each spectacular and each with its own flair and each standing room only…those were the days, my friends!

imageRichard Tyler 1993-1994 became the designer for Anne Klein after Louis left (!!).  He came from a very structured, almost men’s tailoring background.  His garments were magnificently constructed, the Collection, we featured with his personal appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago, was all black with a bit of white (you can see the white on my shirt, the black suit is also from the collection, and his t-shirt) totally different from the color of Louis’ era. He came with his wife and new baby and was a joy to work with, very quiet almost shy in nature and a true craftsman. Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageFrom the Richard Tyler for Anne Klein and Company.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

imageThe Richard Tyler stint at AK was short lived and he was followed by Patrick Robinson, 1994-1996.  I adored working with Patrick a true talent and a total gentleman with great style. Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago. Since I am only discussing the designers I worked with I will only mention the designers who followed in quick succession they were 1998 Ken Kaufman and Isaac Franco, 2007 Isabell Toledo

imageOne of my favorite designers, Charles Nolan, 2001-2003, left to go into politics (you heard that correctly!!!!) and returned with his own charming and very salable signature line.  He died much too young in 2011, a major loss to all of us.  This picture was taken at a Misericordia Heart of Mercy benefit show.  Charles made two personal appearances for the orgaization and showed his delightful signature collections. I’m wearing a piece from his collection and the fabulous pearl necklace is from his accessories collection, I also have a couple pairs of his shoes (where are they!!!???) also fun. Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

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Charles Nolan for Anne Klein, Pinterest photo credits unknown.

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The current creative director, Sharon Lombardo, will she turn the brand back to where it should be….let’s hope so, I for one miss the Anne Klein of yore.  Photo from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

How about a couple of recipes from Donna and Louis….

FROM THE HELEN O’HAGAN SAKS FIFTH AVENUE COOK FOR STYLE BOOK 1983

DONNA KARAN FOR ANNE KLEIN DEVILED CHICKEN

1 2 lb. broiling chicken or 2 chicken breasts with bone in

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

Pre-heat broiler at maximum for 15 minutes.

Lay chicken on a chopping block with the breast facing down and split it open along the entire backbone.  Crack the breast bone from inside. (have your butcher do this!) Spread the chicken as flat as possible.  In other words, flaten the chicken until it looks like a mounted butterfly!

Put the chicken in a deep dish.  Pour the lemon juice over the chicken then add the peppercorns and olive oil.  Cover the dish and let it marinate for 3 hours or overnight  Discard marinade. When ready to cook, sprinkle chicken with salt and broil skin side up about 5″ from the flame.  When skin turns light brown, baste with freshly made marinade.  Turn again after 8 minutes.  Cook briefly on both sides again another 3 minutes or so until meat is tender to the prick of a fork.

If you run out of marinade before chicken is done use a teaspoon more of olive oil.  Before serving use another pinch of crushed pepper.

Serve with rice and almost any vegetable, how about broiled tomatoes.

A dry French wine — white, of course!

Serves 2

All from the book with the exception of discarding the marinade that the chicken has soaked in, I have discarded it and done a fresh batch, add ingredients accordingly.

LOUIS DELL’OLIO FOR ANNE KLEIN FETTUCINE AL SUGO DI VONGOLE

2 dozen littleneck clams (the tinest you can find)

1 tablespoon shallots, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsely, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper, chopped

1/4 cup white wine

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt to taste, but not too much

1 pound fettucine or linguine

Wash clams in cold water, put in a covered saucepan over high flame.  As clams open up, shuck them and put into small bowl.  After shucking all the clams pour the juice from the pan over them.  Set aside.  Put shallots in small saucepan with oil and saute over medium high heat until translucent.  Add the garlic and saute until light gold color appears.  Add parsley and hot pepper, stir a bit, add wine.  Allow wine to boil until it evaporates by half.  Turn off heat. Chop the clams up even smaller than the smallest one.  Filter the clam juice though a seive lined with a paper towel or cheese cloth.  You should have 2/3 cup of liquid.  If there is more, discard it.  Add the liquid to the sauce and boil again until reduced by half.  Add the chopped up clams, they should be turned quickly into the sauce.  Turn off heat.  Add butter and cheese.  Mix thoroughly.  Taste and correct with salt.  Salt many not be required.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to 4 quarts boiling water, then drop in pasta and drain as soon as it it tender, but nutty (al dente) to the bite.  The minute the pasta is drained, put it in a warming serving dish, pour the sauce over it.  Re-heat sauce if no longer hot.  Toss thoroughly and serve immediately.  Grated cheese, although not recommended for clam sauce, can be served on the side. Serves 4.

Serve with a dry white wine, French or Italian, and a simple salade Verde (endive, watercress, lightly dressed)

 

 

 

PROFILE: CATHERINE GRACE O’CONNELL

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, www.womenwhorock.com 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  www.chicago-woman.com 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

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

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 www.CatherineGraceO.com 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.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN

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.

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

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

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.

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

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.

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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.

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY),TYPE OF MUSIC, LOCAL RESTAURANT

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.

HOBBIES….

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.

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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.

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

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!

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

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.

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND WHERE DO YOU WANT TO VISIT

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

YOUR FAVORITE CHICAGO PUBLIC ART PIECE

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!)

HOW DO YOU  WANT TO BE REMEMBERED

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.

WOULD YOU SHARE A FAVORITE RECIPE OR TWO WITH US

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  http://www.food.com/recipe/sensational-spaghetti-sauce-109761 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.

CATHERINE’S BEEF POT ROAST

Ingredients:
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

CATHERINE’S SOCIAL MEDIA INFORMATION

Blog: www.CatherineGraceO.com

Radio: Cat & Kaehler

Cat & Kaehler Show Page: http://www.latalkradio.com/content/cat-kaehler

Archives on are this page as well

iTunes: search Cat & Kaehler

Instagram and Twitter: @catherinegraceo

Facebook: CatherineGraceO

Facebook: Fierce 50 Revolution Group Public Group

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BLOGS CATHERINE FOLLOWS

www.GirlMeetsGlam.com

www.TheMiddlePageBlog.com

www.Chicover50.com

www.Agei.st.com

www.IntotheFrow.com