Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Portland Garden Tour 2013

Recently, J and I spent a sunny Saturday afternoon Association of Landscape Designers’ Garden Tour. This year they focused on gardens in Northwest Portland. Of the seven available we saw five and I’m sharing photos for three where I tried to move in (some people have no sense of humor when you’re going through their fridge for a beverage.) 

Enjoy the diversity, as we did. I’d love to be able to caption all the plants and flowers correctly but these people are gardening at a level far beyond my ‘is that hydrangea? no, peony? no, rhododendron?’.
Feel free to comment if you recognize something that I have simply described but not named!
This house had the largest backyard and although it was in a regular neighbor they had a working garden as well as these fat, happy chickens.
There were numerous fruit trees from lemons (above) and peaches to key limes and figs.
A clay oven used for bread and possibly pottery.
This may look like a planter but it is actually a plant! The wife has a greenhouse where she designs with succulents, and paints.
This fabulous covered room at house 2 screams 'lie here all day and read'. I love the dreaminess of the blue tinted glass walls.
It may be a little hard to tell but this 'rug' is mosiac tiles. It's in front of the second living area at house 2- an Asian inspired dining pagoda.
This is the outdoor living room #1. At this point, I was begging the owners to let me move in. A gorgeous yard with multiple options for being outside.
I have NO idea what these are but they look like beautiful pincushions. They were just one of the unusual plant arrangements at house 2.
This is a plant. Yes, it is. It looks like something from the original Star Trek where, if you sat on it, it ate you.
 I much prefer photos without people in them but this house (#3) was so popular it was never going to happen. This was my second favorite because I love the tented roof. You can be outside in any weather- and get to listen to the rain on the canvas. Nirvana

 And if you want to relax while your husband cooks dinner, there's the separate fireplace/lounging area. Directly behind that is a full vegetable garden.
 Drinks in front of the fire, anyone?
I love this plant centerpiece. They're mostly succulents and moss so it lives on, even in the winter.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day- not really

Happy Father's Day to the man who knew the quickest way to this girl’s tiny greedy heart was a doll almost as big as she was. I’m your daughter after all and you never liked to distinguish between want and need. If you wanted it, you needed it.

You believed in me, thought I was as smart as the boys and could be whatever I wanted.

You made me feel safe for every minute you were alive.

I only wish there had been more minutes.

I miss you every day.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pat Benatar

College is a time fraught with confusion for most young women. You’re out on your own, there are boys everywhere, and you still have no idea who you are yet. How to stand strong? Well, if you were attending college in the early 1980s the easiest way was to put a record (yes, we had records) on the record player (yup, those too) and join your girlfriends in belting out the lyrics to “You Better Run”, “Heartbreaker” or “Love is a Battlefield”. Pat Benatar was our guide in those dark days. She was the first female singer I’d heard who said you were in control, you did not have to be treated badly by stupid guys. More importantly, she rocked. She wailed, she screamed, she empowered us. She was the pre-Alanis Morrisette and there were numerous nights when I strolled home from the bars with a group of friends screaming, “Whatcha trying to do to my heart? You better run, you better hide, you better leave…” It was grand. We felt strong. 
That’s why I’m so happy to see Benatar in this month’s issue of Elle’s Women Who Rock. She’s 60 now but looking as fabulous as ever. And despite her kick-ass attitude she is still married to her lead guitarist, Neil Giraldo, after 31 years. Even better, she has two grown daughters who want to borrow her famous striped spandex tee shirt.  
Thank you, Pat for being there then and being there now. Now go over to youtube and take a stroll down memory lane- and sing along!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Fashion 2013: Zac Posen

He’s back! I’m sure Zac Posen isn’t losing any sleep over my lack of interest but honestly, for the last two seasons I’ve wondered just who he is designing for. I’m thrilled to say that for Spring 2013 he’s designing for me! Me, if I lived in New York City, had a high powered career and attended oodles of social events, but still this collection is divine. He covers all the sartorial bases from tailored to frilly, fancy to sleek. I loved this collection.


Two suits, two complementary looks. For the jacket on the left the look is almost architectural with the neckline perfectly carved to enhance the neck and a ¾ sleeve. On the right is another fabulous neckline with columns of pintuck pleats that nicely add shape where some women (OK, me) might want it. The pants are dreamy with some definition through the hips but flowing around the legs.


Such a simple wear-everywhere spring dress. The cream color means you can bold it up or bling it out, both will work. On the right is a bit more fuss, but done well it comes off as feminine and this is done right. The sheerness of the ruffle at the waist means it’s not going to scream ‘these are my hips’ the way a peplum would and the slim fitted pencil skirt provides the perfect contrast.


So details were Posen’s thing this spring. For some, these two dresses might read as a bit fussy but I find them to be fun. The tailored jacket over the frilled patterned chiffon skirt and old-fashioned blush dress with ruffled sleeves and skirt feel wonderfully feminine and a welcome respite from all the jagged edges of fall.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Fashion 2013: Carolina Herrera

Hopefully, wherever you are, you’re seeing some signs of spring. I covered a few of the trends I found interesting and am ready to move onto specific designers who made their looks work. Spring 2013 is better than Fall 2012 which, seriously, should never have been produced (with a very few exceptions), but there is still something that feels off about the fashion world. Yes, it is supposed to be a bit of fantasy but, much like the state of the American economy, the divide between outrageous ostentation (wealth) and cheap, mass-produced throw away clothing (poor) is growing wider. You’re either faced with buying a designer silk blouse for $150 or a polyester blouse for $19.95. Whatever happened to interesting, well-made clothes at reasonable prices i.e. the middle class?

Because there is no resolution in sight, I went with designers whose style and aesthetic caught my eye. I don’t even list prices here because I’m showing these collections as inspiration only. Unless, you can afford to buy off the runway, in which case I insist you take pictures and share with the rest of us.

Carolina Herrera has always been a favorite but this season she twists her signature elegance into something a bit more fanciful by mixing incongruous colors and patterns. The looks are still classy and wearable but tangerine with gray gives even a long dress a little edge.


Both of these looks sport a school-girl feel but not in a lechy, Lolita way. This structured jacket on top of a filmy, swingy skirt is a great combination as is the 70’s short sleeve sweater belted over a long silk printed skirt.


Long lengths always work for me. They connote a certain elegance with ease—you’re not trying too hard. Plus, they work for almost any age group. Here Herrera does a nice job of mixing up the waist with the tangerine dress hitting at the natural waistline while the grey silk is almost, but not quite an Empire. Choices! The mixing of vertical and horizontal striping in the dress on the left makes it more flattering while combining gray with tangerine takes just another spring dress and gives it new life.


Full blousy silk top in dark gray with bright orange flowers? You bet. Add a short flouncy skirt and this is a perfect young look for spring. Not for all of us, but add a bit of length in the skirt and you’re good to go. For something a bit dressier this abstract printed sheath is a lovely mix of covered up and bare. A great length as well—enough of the ground dragging maxis, please! I’m 5’9” and can’t even wear those things without fear of falling.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Fashion 2013: Trends

The 20th was the first day of spring, which is of little comfort to those of you sitting under 15” of snow. I’ve been holding off on posting this because it seems a bit cruel if you’re still curled up under a blanket but now I’m calling it: It’s Spring!

If you remember (which for your sake I hope you don’t) fall was pretty disappointing this year. In fact, in some cases, downright wretched. Everyone seems to have dialed back a bit for spring, which, just like the warm weather, is a welcome relief. Here are four trends I saw quite a bit in my review of the spring collections.

OK, I know what you’re thinking (really I do): how can florals be a “trend” when they show up every year? You’re right but what is new is how they’re being used- in both bolds and pastels and mixed with geometrics. A fresh take on an oldie but goodie.

Elie Tahari dress mixing brights with floral, Sportmax skirt with geometric trim, Prada bag, Erickson Beaman necklace, 3.1 Phillip Lim jacket- biker meets floral, CWonder bag, and Tabitha Simmons shoes. 

I wasn’t such a big fan of color blocking but the use of circles, squares and lines in so many of the top lines felt new and flattering.

Marc Jacobs knit maxi dress, Tabitha Simmons ankle strap sandal, MSGM top combining checkerboard with floral, Delfina Delettrez earrings, bold kelly green Louis Vuitton bag, Michael Kors dress.

Last year, it was lace and while lace appeared almost everywhere again this year, two times in a row keeps it from being a trend. Instead, ruffles are a bit more playful and cover the spectrum from fancy to casual. It’s an easily incorporated trend in almost any wardrobe.

Zac Posen pink ruffled top (you knew I couldn't pass that up!), Zac Posen floral dress with ruffled hem, YSL blouse, Clu knit top (love this!), Sophia Webster shoes (nowhere to wear them but love the whimsy).

My bias is usually towards pastels for their femininity (and as rebellion against the dark tones of winter) but this year a number of designers did a great job with brights—and in ways that make them wearable for a lot of women.

Exquisite Tom Ford dress- ladylike AND bold, Michael Kors dress, fun blinged out Flutter bracelets (a la wristbands), Balenciaga bag, Barbara Bui shoes. 

Check back in the upcoming weeks when I look at individual designers I really feel hit the mark. Plus, practical and fantasy fashion.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Giveaway winner


February has ended and so has the fashion book giveaway. Thanks to everyone who participated! The winner, chosen at random is Lady GooGoo Gaga- another blogger who shares her take on motherhood. Lady, please just send your mailing address to me and I'll get those books out asap. Thanks everyone!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013 Oscars Recap

Here it is, Thursday, and I’ve made you wait until know to hear yet another Oscar recap. My apologies but let’s get right to it and start at the beginning. Literally. From the moment Seth MacFarlane opened in his mouth I was left wondering, ‘how much did he pay someone to get this gig’ because the show seemed largely to be an opportunity for him to sing and dance and exercise what appears to be a puerile and sexist sense of humor. Oh, I know, it’s Hollywood and they are puerile and sexist but an entire song and dance number dedicated to the premise that actresses only win an Oscar when they bare their breasts? That’s not camouflaged—that is in-your-face sexism and demeaning to every woman in the audience who had won Best Oscar. Also, it reminded me too much of that childhood song about three fishermen which culminates in a chorus using the word ‘dam’ which to a kid is as good as ‘damn’ and meant that you were screaming the word by the time you got to that point in the song and feeling like a real rebel. So, Seth got to say ‘boob’ two hundred times. Really? That’s funny? Again, it’s kind of sad and for me, the show went downhill after that. Even after the dreadful dance numbers, the scripted chatter from presenters made me wonder, ‘Is there a writer’s strike?’ I finally gave up and only tuned in at the end to see Argo win. 

In a different way, the female finery disappointed as well. Not the dresses as I saw plenty of interesting looks which I’ll share but overall, the styling was off, mainly in hair. Nicole Kidman is a classic (if Botoxed) beauty so messy hair doesn’t work and we’ve been visually abused for years by Jennifer Aniston’s “beachy” hair so why not try something else? Kristen Stewart, aside from her I’m-either-stoned-or-bored look had hair that looked like it had been through a blender and for all the lovely ladies (Kerry Washington, Sandra Bullock et al) who went with stick straight hair it just looked limp and unfinished.

Enough verbiage, here are my takes on Oscar fashion.
This has been beaten to death so I will only say that it is bad darts and a poorly constructed gown which is saying a lot considering it is Prada. It looks like a 4-H sewing project and even a gorgeous Tiffany's necklace can't help.

I chose Helen Hunt as my second picture as a counterpoint to the Anne Hathaway debacle. This dress is from H&M, a retail chain known for low prices, and yet, Hunt looks amazing. So there's no embellishment- that's why you have diamonds! Glam all the way around- including hair which was welcome this year.
This is about as classic and perfect as you can get in fashion. The dress is simple but impeccable (this is the bodice Hathaway wanted- exquisite) and with her short sleek hair and diamond encrusted wrists, Charlize Theron nailed it.

I don't know who's Jennifer Lawrence's stylist but they're good. Like Charlize, she's wearing Christian Dior Couture and they were the designer to beat. This photograph doesn't show the dress to best advantage but, again, we have a perfectly fit bodice, with the only embellishment being the textures fabric and the fact that the gown is actually white with an inset layer of soft pink. More great styling- soft hair, smoky eye, nude lip, and minimal jewelry.
Discounting Kidman's hair (ugh) these are two of the metallica looks that were prevalent on the red carpet. Naomi Watts is the clear winner in Armani Prive with a stunning asymmetrical neckline that was chic not costume-y. Her entire look is elegant and modern. I also like Kidman's L'Wren Scott dress with it's wet-look sequins and perfect fit. She's just not working it.

Sandra Bullock also went with the smoky eye, nude lip look but it's a bit off against her straight hair. A brighter lip might have helped. Her Elie Saab dress got mixed reviews but I thought it was a nice mix of sexy and restrained. There is no doubt that Renee Zellweger is working out and eating right but her face looks pained. The dress is Carolina Herrera and another example of outstanding craftsmanship. With it's liquid metallic fabric, it would show every flaw and yet Zellweger looks as if it was poured over her.
I couldn't pass it up- and this is one of Kristen Stewart's more engaged expressions. Her hair is a mess and the dress looks like it's going to fall off. There is effortless and then there's not even trying and Stewart is the latter.

Zoe Seldana's Alexis Mabile dress was one of my favorites. Simple form but with just the right amount of embellishments including the tri-tone fabric in the hem. She looks graceful but with an edge.

Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Oscars: Robin Roberts

Don’t fret- a post with all the details (good and bad) from the Oscars will follow soon but as I was going through the photos and my notes from last night I realized I could not just drop this person in amongst all the other fluff. One year ago, at the Oscars, Robin Roberts felt unusually fatigued. Later she would learn she had a very rare form of bone marrow cancer that leads to leukemia. She took an extended leave of absence from ABC, underwent a bone marrow transplant, and only returned to work last week. 
This is a woman who has faced death, struggled with pain, uncertainty, and fear and yet exudes an effortless grace and charm. She is, without a doubt, my favorite look of the night. Her Marc Bouwer dress is gorgeous- the fabric has beautiful drape, the color is rich, and the style timeless. While she accepted well-wishes, she made it clear the night was not about her- which extraordinary in and of itself. On a night when the best of Hollywood was swathed, cloaked, and bejeweled she was the classiest act in town.

Friday, February 8, 2013

February GIVEAWAY!

Happy weekend, everyone! If you’re faced with impending bad weather back east or anxiously awaiting Fashion Week (which could be impacted by the bad weather) I have something to cheer you up. As next week is scheduled to be Fall 2013 Fashion Week in NYC—which will actually make sense if they have snow, I thought I’d offer a stylish giveaway for one of my readers. Recently, I reviewed The Style Mentors and Lessons from Madame Chic, two new, charming yet very practical looks at style—what it means, how to find yours, and how to integrate it in your life. Nothing too hoity-toity, mind you, just really good and useful light reading. I mean, really, how can you go wrong with tons of photos of well-dressed, famous fashionistas with tips on how to cultivate your own style? Or, a look at how Parisians view style and live by it? If you want to read more about either book click on the title link for my review.
If these books sound like great reading (and they are!) then you’ll be happy to know that for a minimum of effort you could win both! I’m even giving you a number of options for winning. Pick one (or more, nothing wrong with that!), then leave a quick comment so I know you entered.
  1. if you love books and haven’t already you can subscribe to The Gilmore Guide to Books. It’s blessedly pain-free: you’ll only get an email when I post a new review. Go to my site via the link above and enter your email address in the box above the Subscribe button.
  2. Join me on Facebook. Again, you won’t be deluged with status updates and kitschy stuff (OK, there may be a few adorable photos of cats and books but only a few). Go to your Facebook account, search The Gilmore Guide to Books and when my page comes up, click on the LIKE button.
  3. If you’re on Twitter and wouldn’t mind a bit more varied chatter from The Gilmore Guide then go to twitter and follow me: @GilmoreGuide. Again, I’m not posting about what I had for breakfast (unless it was REALLY good or ended up on my sweat pants) but my tweets are a bit more off the cuff and combine my interest in books with fashion, pop culture, food, Portland, and wine. Nothing too onerous. 
There you have it! Three ways to win two fabulous books for free. Given the hinky weather, upcoming romantic holiday, and other vagaries I’m going to pick one random winner on the 28th. That gives all of you time to enter and gives me time to get my Spring Fashion trends, picks and pans, as well as favorite collections pulled together AND means one of you will have something to look forward to in March. Enter now!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Dale Chihuly is a master craftsman, artist, and pioneer in the world of glass. His pieces can be seen in exhibitions and installations around the world. His work spans three decades and has changed the craft of glassblowing forever.

Recently I was in Seattle and had the chance to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. It was a typical Pacific Northwest day- completely overcast and threatening to rain at any moment, but was perfect for viewing these pieces as the subdued light made the glasswork stand out more. It was a magical afternoon, walking amongst gigantic but delicate sculptures of glass. 

A spiky cactus tree and enormous grape rock candy greet you in the garden (they're glass, of course, but it does look like candy, right?)
An outdoor walkway of fantasical chandeliers
Mauve (my favorite!)
Beautiful sunny flowers in contrast to the rain outside
The flash destroyed the effect, but the ball is lit from underneath and so appears to glow. Mystical
 Monet's Water Lilies or a glass bowl?

This feels like an orchard. Like the picture above these bowls were achieved by rolling a globe of molten glass over small shards of multicolored glass which then melts. The effect is serene and one of my favorites.
 A lovely cornucopia with bowls nested inside, in a Native American motif and colors.

Chihuly's first works were of glass painted with Navajo blanket patterns. He owns a large collection of blankets some of which are on display at the museum. 
Like an ocean wave this piece captures the texture and motion of water. With the lights and camera flash it is hard to convey the subtlety of colors flowing through a piece this size--from the softest blue to an almost purple at the base and inner pieces.

Close-ups of the conch shell and starfish from the ocean piece.

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