Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Windows.

 As winter has softly (snow, please?) started to write it's story on New York City, one of the biggest chapters may be the holiday windows around town.  These could easily be compared to the Super Bowl of department stores.  Except instead of 2 teams,there are 3 teams that win for me--and they are always the 3 B's!

Team 1: Bergdorf Goodman. 2011 Window Theme: Carnival of the Animals.

I mean, so beautiful.  This iconic store has become a holiday tradition for me, having lunch with my Mom at the Bird Cage, designed by Kelly Wearstler and then browsing for the most unique holiday ornaments a few paces down on the 7th floor. The restaurant is actually not called the Bird Cage but "BG."  But, you may find that you feel perched on the most beautiful nest up there--with the very best views of Central Park.

Team 2: Barneys. 2011 Window Theme: Lady Gaga. 
Coolest team-up of the year.  Barney's transformed their 5th floor to become "Gaga's Workshop" curated by Lady Gaga, herself.  The store front windows? Lady Gaga as a metallic Mermaid is pretty captivating against a grey Manhattan sidewalk. (And I'm only a little partial to this one.)

Team 3: Bendels. 2011 Window Theme: Christmas Spectacular
Henri Bendel's windows are inspired by the 125th birthday of Miss Liberty & Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular, featuring a sort of "Rockette-Statue-of-Liberty" wearing a dress made of jelly beans and a reindeer dog.  If I was a tourist passing through, I'd buy them a drink.

Saks Fifth Avenue was a great runner-up with a pretty cool snowflake 3-D light show set to holiday music.  But, it left me a little bored.  I guess snowflakes are hard to compete this year with Miss Liberty, Mermaids and Gaga. The show kind of reminded me of being at all-girl's private school back in the day in the bell choir. Fun, but not exactly exhilarating. 

Cheers to open windows and creating our own view.  

Happy holidays.

Monday, December 19, 2011


I scheduled a hot date with my flat-screen last week. My TiVo list was overflowing, so I re-watched two great movies that were recorded. The first was Down With Love starring Renee Zellweger as writer, "Barbara Novak" and Ewan McGregor as her arch nemesis, "Catcher Block."

What working girl wouldn't love to come home to this pad after a long day at the office? Mid-century magic at it's best. I am downright-in-love with the Old-Hollywood decor vibe in this space. The set designer is a genius. Can someone tell me where can I find a marble fire pit like that?! 

I was also obsessed with every character's retro outfit. Especially, when our leading lady rocks a white turban. And, pink Maribou slippers?  I mean...go big or go home, Babs.

Of course, the film wraps with our reluctant heroine no longer feeling down about love. Shocking twist, right?

My second Film-spiration was The Ghost Writer directed by Roman Polanski. I could watch this movie 100 times! It's so well done. Most of the story is depicted at a vacation home on the East Coast--off the dunes in Cape Cod. But, since we know Polanski is not allowed back on U.S. soil, it's crazy how he captured the film. I wasn't sure where it was filmed but recently read it was the Island of Stylt off the coast of Germany. Again, the set design was unbelievably seductive. I admired everything about the house, built with super clean lines in mind and modern edges that off-set the wild and rustic beachy bluffs outside.

Especially the office-complete with tricked-out blinds and a surreal view.

As I'm writing, I realize that both films starred Ewan McGregor in which he plays a bit of a cad-ish, womanizing writer.  Hmmm...probably best not to overthink that one. ;-)

I LOVE these Film-spirations and hope to have another date with TiVo after the holiday craze. Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

White Elephant Party.

Mermaids & Martinis planned  a White Elephant party for one of our favorite clients.  Hosted in a beautiful venue called the “White Room” at Soho House, NYC,  our client wanted festive but not over-the-top expensive.  We got creative and spray-painted hundreds of circus-style peanuts gold and filled large glass vases with them using bases of fake snow. We scattered more snow and gold peanuts along the bar and cocktail tables and brought in a beautiful white ceramic elephant to hold the presents.   A white and whimsical signature cocktail could be Eggnog themed and served on bamboo serving platters.  

The primary purpose of a White Elephant (otherwise known as Secret Santa, Yankee Swap) is a gift swap. Everyone brings a present (which can be a good present or a “‘gag”’ gift, depending on the host’s preference), and then everyone participates in a game of chance to determine what present they take home. Depending on their number, guests may either “steal” a gift from a person who has selected before them, or they may select and unwrap a new gift. The game ends when each person has had a turn.

I have two White Elephant parties coming up, one will be for all ladies and the price point is $30 or less.  The second one will be a gift of $100 or less and targeted to a mixture of kids and adults. 

Here are 5 gift picks for your Mermaids at $30 or less:

1.) This vase hurts my feelings. "Curvy Chrysanthemum Vase", $28.00.

2.) I love this!  You could even go one extra step and have it monogrammed.  "Boyfriend Signet Ring", J. Crew, $25.00.

3.) You may actually wear all that great jewelry you own if it's organized and displayed in a place where you see it.  "Cast Metal Jewelry Tree", $29.00.

4.) Why not really live the theme and bring this sweet porcelain teapot? $15.99.

5.) For the girl forever attached to her laptop, dress up a dreary work station with this "Royal Owl Mousepad", $16.00.

I will post more gift ideas for $100 or less tomorrow.  And, thank you to Nina Choi ( for shooting that gorgy photo of our White Elephant.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy 3.

A friend and I have a weekly tradition called: "Happy 3."  It started because after many years of many long conversations over lunches or cocktails, we realized that we could talk about doing things and changing things in our lives--but what's the point if we walk away with no action items?  Talking is great, but it requires no action.  No change.  A to-do list can be terrifying the longer it gets, and the best of intentions without actually crossing off something can add up to feeling not-so-happy.

So, we developed a "Happy 3" lunch and try our best to meet once a week to discuss three small (or sometimes big) things that we both walk away from our get-together and DO.

This week, my "Happy 3" is:
1.) Order a holiday gift from Livy's Hope.

A friend from high school has two beautiful twin girls Hailey and Livy.  Livy was born with an illness so her parents started this foundation for her.  You can order a customized painting from Hailey, who is beyond talented at the age of seven!  Over the Summer, I ordered a painting from Hailey and told her that I write about kids parties themed around "Mermaids & Milk & Cookies."  Look what she sent me!

There are also cheap & chic bracelets on sale at Livy's Hope that would make great stocking stuffers.  Hailey is creating her own set of notecards with original artwork (including my Mermaid!) that I can't wait to stock up on!

2.) I am going to handcuff myself to a quiet room and finish reading this book.  To be inspired is to be alive and this man figured it out.

3.) Organize my photos.  I know this sounds like an easy job, but my neighbor is a professional in-home organization expert, and I'm enlisting hired help!  Years of photos are in boxes and I can't wait to put them in proper albums and feel lighter.  I love that Graphic Image makes ones that you can personalize with titles and dates.

My to-do list for this weekend was making me feel a little car-sick.  At least three things are getting checked off this weekend, which will make heading into next week a much smoother ride.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

May Your Days Be Merry and White.

I love the idea of a White Christmas themed dinner party.  Here are a few ideas to welcome guests this winter to a wonderfully white time.

Greet guests with a white wreath.   This one is made out of paper cups--cheap & chic! I found a similar chalkboard at one of my favorite stores ( It has an adhesive strip on the back so you can hang anywhere and it peels right off without damaging your walls.

Hang another wreath for the littles at your party.

Of course, you will want to have a white tree.  The one photographed below is pretty amazing.  When you introduce one contrasting color to a white-themed event, it will really pop throughout your decor.

Creating a white-based menu can be fun. You can start by decorating your table in a cheap & chic way by laying down white craft paper and then sprinkling tons of fake white snow on top. Light lots of white votives in clear glass jars down the center. Or, swish your table up by using a faux white fur throw as a cloth. Place raised silver chargers on top for the food.  Make fondue the star of your menu! Spray paint pumpkins white and hollow them out, then fill each one with a cheese fondue paired with fresh cut pieces of bread and veggies. 

A signature cocktail could be created with white cranberry juice, vodka and served in a martini glass. Drape a white candy cane on the side of the glasses.  A white dessert bar is easy!  White chocolate cupcakes, popcorn balls, meringues, white candy and I love this Italian dessert, Affogato, which is a scoop of vanilla ice cream served in a sundae glass and you pour a shot of espresso over the top. Drizzle white creme de menthe on top.

Photo Credit: The White Company.

You can invite your guests to wear all-white or anything but white. Send them away with white hot chocolate in to-go cups or Bing Crosby's White Christmas album as a party favor.

These would be perfect hostess heels to find under a white tree! (

Or, these guys...


Sunday, December 11, 2011

In Paris, the Toilet Paper is Pink.

Paris breaks my heart. I need a new word for love when it comes to Paris.

Cliche you say? (how original...another American girl who LOVES Paris?)  Yawn. Well, it's easy to be a critic.  But, you do have a point.  Over the weekend, I had a glass of Cotes Du Rhone with a friend and we worked out the obsession in three simple reasons why any girl might fall in love Paris.

Un. Macarons.

And, all the sweets made on French soil.  The way a patisserie pays attention to detail is epic.

Deux. The toilet paper is pink.  Like, the kind of every day, ordinary toilet paper that you buy at CVS or the grocery store in bulk is PINK.

So, the big picture reads that even the TP is pretty! And, the men in France roll that TP out without batting an eyelash. To them, pink is just an attractive color that makes perfect sense to have in a room where not-so-attractive things sometimes happen.

Men in France seem to have a masculine appreciation for feminine things.  Now, American guys are amazing and sexy and smart (and many certainly appreciate beauty) but how many do you know that would use pink toilet paper without feeling just a tad emasculated?
Trois. Appreciation for Lunch. 
Lunch is an event.  Lunch is not a hurried task to fuel yourself quickly so you can rush back to check the next thing off of your daily to-do list.  It's a moment, a be savored and enjoyed. 
I can almost fully count on both hands my visits to this most amazing city so, needless to say, I was over the moon when my friend recently launched her blog: I look forward to her updates on all things french and all things fabulous every week!

PS: I forgot one more reason: Chiens.  The french don't view them as mere dogs, they are revered and loved and cherished. And, most times, a girl will envy their lunch reservation.

I have many more than three reasons for loving Paris, but until I come up with them, check out for much more interesting topics than TP, and Happy Monday!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Flowers & Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Some believe that it's inconsiderate to bring flowers to a party because the host will have to stop and take the time to cut stems and search for the right vase.  If you have a garden or live near a great florist (or here in NYC, a deli!), why not cut and create your own arrangement and provide the right sized vase?  If it's a short walk, drive or train ride to the party, lightly dampen a cute kitchen towel and wrap the bouquet at the bottom--all your host will have to do is put water in the great vase you provided!  She can keep the kitchen towel for post party clean-up.

Some of my favorite winter flowers to create holiday arrangements are: Amaryllis, protea, snow balls, poppies, evergreen, holly berry, and the lovely Star of Bethlehem.   Note, if you are on a budget, buy one or two beautiful buds, and then fill in with lots of greenery which will make the colorful buds pop in your arrangement.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a popular Italian tradition, celebrated on Christmas Eve.  This feast originated in Southern Italy, and the idea is to serve seven different seafood dishes.  Two of the stars on this menu are often smoked eel and fried baccala. You can get very creative with variations of your dishes or even make seven different fish-based appetizers and supplement your table with antipasto and pasta.

My friend Melanie's family annually celebrates this tradition. I found this cute little hostess gift for her of copper measuring spoons. (
Why seven? There are many theories, one ties to the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, others say it symbolizes the church's seven virtues: faith, hope, charity, temperance, prudence, fortitude and justice.

If you have any great recipes for this traditional feast, send them my way!  


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hotel Holidays

Some people shudder at the thought of traveling away from home during the holidays.  I also know people who look forward all year to this precious time off  to flee to a beach resort or ski lodge.   I picked up this book "American Hotel Stories" by Francisca Matteoli.  It is a lovely collection of history, stories and photographs of some of the best hotels in the country. 

My lucite trunk stays put when I travel, although a friend recently quipped that it would cut my wait time in half at airport security.

What's your favorite American hotel? Right now I'm really feeling The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida because it is like being transported to another era (and only a 3 hour flight from NYC!)  Another dream spot for me is L'Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley...

I have a long-standing crush on Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. I think this hotel captures both the best of the West Coast and the charms of the East Coast all in one very special spot in the sand. 

Wherever you find yourself this holiday, it's time to start finalizing those travel plans!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vintage Pins

I like collecting pins even though I rarely wear them on my clothes. I love putting them on throw pillows.  I have one I like to put on a fabric evening purse.  And, another one I like to pin with a head scarf to tie up my hair.

I've been keeping my eye out for a close enough match to the cameo pin above so that I can wear them as makeshift cuff links with a blazer.   I  think a pin can also look great fastened to the top of a wrapped holiday gift or to dress up a wine bag.

I'm going to pin my hopes on finding that cameo, and for a great week ahead!  Happy Monday, Mermaids.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hostess Gifts of Gold.

'Tis the season of holiday parties.  I attended my first of the month on Saturday night. The hostess, Aisling, is one of the busiest (and beautiful) people I know. So, I brought her a hostess gift that was easy to maintain but beautiful--a festive plant with red holly and wrapped in snow white paper.

It got me thinking about other holiday hostesses this season and how I could thank them.  I found this set for one lovely Mermaid that goes bananas for anything gold!  And, she loves to clean--I mean, she really does! She says it's "therapeutic".  (Really?)

Isn't this the perfect hostess gift for her?

Or, maybe this golden bud vase from Jonathan Adler will make her go even more bananas?

Cheers to a month of holiday spirit and meaningful thank-you's to our hosts.  


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Perfect Pink-Me-Up.

A mocktail and a manicure?  The perfect Friday afternoon Pink-Me-Up.  Today, I'm working on final photo proofs with my cousin in preparation for the "Mermaids & Martinis" book release!  I can't believe the book is finally going to be on shelves in just a couple of months after such a long road.

To welcome the first days of December (arguably the month that hosts the most celebrations) I'm ringing in some pink.  Sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice makes the perfect shade to sip in the afternoon.  And, is all the more fun to drink when dressed up in a martini glass with this cute vintage Mermaid accessory I found on eBay!

Chanel's "Mica Rose" nail colour is shimmery yet suttle. Perfect for Saturday night.   And, how fun are these pink dotted straws my friend Melissa brought me as a hostess gift from Fishs Eddy?

Wishing all of you beautiful Mermaids (and Mermen!) a wonderful weekend ahead, xo.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Holy Grail for Hair.

I have what you call "Thick/Thin" hair.  Meaning, I have a ton of hair, but the strands are really fine.  What this translates to are majorly great hair days and some colossal bad ones. 

Since I was asked to be the understudy in the movie "Tangled", I decided to try out a popular product called Moroccan Oil.  It's made with an oil called Argan which I think is infused with magical properties.  A tiny drop goes a long way to shinier and healthier hair and somehow, your hair dries twice as fast when you use it.

My hairstylist will appreciate that my envy has simmered down (slightly) about those Italian models in hair ads--you know the types, filmed walking down the street holding a cup of coffee with their shiny, layered and thick tresses bouncing lightly off of their shoulders.  Mildly annoying. 

Ok, I may not be Italian (or have hair like hers) but now that I'm part Moroccan, here's to no more bad hair days. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, NYC

In a tiny room tucked away on West 10th street is where I found this adorable vintage cookbook.  Could it be more perfect?

Bonnie Slotnick's specialty store is pretty special. Overstuffed with rare vintage cookbooks (some even signed by the likes of Julia Child and Ruth Wakefield, the inventor of Tollhouse), this place is great for inspirational browsing and shopping for memorable gifts. 

If you are a lover of food, unique recipes, vintage cookware and kitchen gadgets, add this spot to your list of places to check out.

If you don't live in New York City, Bonnie will take orders via the phone or email and help you uncover exactly what you are looking for.  If you do stop by in person, tell her that Mermaid sent you! ;-)

PS: Thank you to Daniel Movitz ( for taking that beautiful shot of my vintage book on a Brooklyn rooftop.  You are so cool!

Holiday Ice.

I love these vintage inspired frosty vases around the holidays.  Fill the little ones with bright colored candies or light with votives which reflect beautifully off of the mercury glass. The larger ones look festive holding flowers like amaryllis and greenery.

A mismatched set will look great clumped together or strewn down a long table for a lovely holiday dinner party.

I purchased these at a tiny home store in NYC which has since closed it's doors.  You can find different versions and price points at West Elm or search online for 'Mercury Glass Votives and Vases'.

Let me know what you find!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taco Tuesday.

Mexican food makes most of us feel...well, festive.  And full!

I think Mexican is one of the easiest ways to host a party in a pinch.  You could order take-out or whip up a quick and easy guacamole, place a few soft flour tortillas in the oven, empty a bag of tortilla chips in a bowl and throw some coronas on ice!  Or, cute are they?   Almost as cute as this authentic stone ground bowl a friend got me from Rosa Mexicano.

Below is a great recipe for Guacamole.  Serves 2-4.

Rule of Fin: If an avocado does not "bounce back" to the touch, it is not ripe. Keep pits in your guacamole to keep it fresh and prevent browning when you store in refrigerator.

• 2 ripe avocados
• 1/2 red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
• 1-2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced
• 2 T cilantro leaves, finely chopped
• 1 T of fresh lime or lemon juice
• 1/2 t coarse salt
• A dash of freshly grated black pepper
• 1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped

Garnish with limes, red radishes or jicama. Serve with tortilla chips or soft flour tortillas.

1. Cut avocados in half, remove pit. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.
2. Using a fork, mash the avocado. Add the chopped onion, cilantro, lime or lemon, salt and pepper and mash some more. Chili peppers vary individually in their hotness. So, start with half of one chili pepper and add to the guacamole to your desired ° of hotness. Keep the tomatoes separate until ready to serve.  Remember that much of this is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients.  So, start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.
3. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready.
4. Just before serving, add the chopped tomato to the guacamole and mix.


Monday, November 28, 2011

The Hermes Scarf Wears Many Hats.

Town & Country magazine asked my good friend and interior designer, Sarah Tallman, to create one of her signature 'Scarf Floor Pillows'  for their Spring issue.

She and I went through my batch (I've loved collecting different scarves over the years) and settled on this green, nautical-inspired Hermes scarf  (  which now has a home on my living room floor. 

I like to use it for extra seating if I have a few friends over or as a makeshift table for cocktails or tea.

The Hermes scarf or any kind of scarf really can wear many hats!  I've seen people frame their scarf and hang as a decorative piece of wall art and also tie as a purse. I've used mine for head wraps and table runners. I've tied one into a 'scarf-shirt' and wore it under a suit.  I also tied one of my faves as a bright, patterned 'cumberbund' when wearing all black.

Some Sophia scarf-spiration...

And, a great guide below to get you started: "40 Ways to Tie a Scarf". (

Happy tying, Mermaids! xo

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Little Afternoon Coco.

What is it about her?  I created my own little shrine to Coco because every time I look at it, I am reminded that the most beautiful, feminine qualities are timeless. 

When asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe replied, "A few drops of Chanel #5."  Marilyn would be 85 this year! I'm sure she would still be knocking it out of the park looks-wise.

I recently went to a perfume lab and did a blind "smell-test".  Turns out, my favorites were either very French (no surprise there!) or men's cologne.  What is your favorite scent and how does it make you feel?

Mama Jaded Me.

I was home for Thanksgiving and spent some memorable time with my family.  To cap off the trip, I also shopped my Mom's closet.  If you met my Mom, you may say:  "Michele, I love your ring!" and she very well may take it off her finger and hand it to you.   I've inherited that trait from her too--my philosophy is if you have fallen out of "love" with a material thing, why not pass it along to someone who is newly in love? 

Of course, one will never part with certain sentimental pieces of value.  For my Mom, one is a 70's ceramic hand-painted owl hanging from a rope that my Dad bought her at a tag sale when they first began dating.  

For me, I would not let go of a shrimp ring from the 80's that belonged to my Grandmother which I like to wear around my neck on a chain.  And, now, I'll add these four things to my "keep-forever" file.  A jade and pearl necklace with antique gold coins, a filigree gold bangle, the sweetest gold puffed heart and a chunky Jade bracelet from the 60's. 

Thanks Mich! xo

Loaves & Fishes

I recently spent a week in the Hamptons, one of my favorite places to hunt and gather.  From the beautiful Farmer's markets to the specialty shops, one of the most well-known could be Loaves & Fishes

Located in Bridgehampton, this store is a mecca for a cook and culinary eye candy for someone who just loves beautiful kitchen accessories and finding unique gifts.   In addition to the store, Loaves & Fishes offers a cooking school and even a gift registry.

I picked up this little gift to thank our East Hampton hostess for sharing her little spot of heaven with us!