clapton is god originalMy husband David proposed to me during an Eric Clapton song and one of our sons was conceived to a Clapton song. Am I over sharing here? Probably, but I’m not going to tell you which of his songs or which of my sons. I will tell you that Clapton has been our soundtrack from the beginning and although we have seen him many times in the states, seeing him in London at the Royal Albert Hall has long been on our bucket list. Eric was going to celebrate his 70th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his first performance at the Royal Albert by playing there once again. Touted by the press and “sources in the know” that this would be his last concert, we had to be there and if we were going to be there it would have to be the last night of the series.  We weren’t the only Americans to have come in for the concert; many Yanks we met were in London for the same reason. We all had our own Clapton stories and we all shared the same questions: how is he going to sound, what will it be like inside the Royal Albert Hall, and will this be the last time he preforms as a headliner?

clapton on stageWhen Eric took the stage I was immediately struck by how he looked.  He appeared thinner, grayer, and okay I’ll say it…. older. But that thought flew out of my head the second he started to rock, as his guitar playing remains unequaled and his voice sounded strong and right. Is the Royal Albert Hall gorgeous? YES. It’s like being inside a decadent crimson and gold jewelry box with an amazing sound system. Was it all worth it? YES! I prayed to hear “Bell Bottom Blues” or “White Room” but got acoustic “Layla” and “Tears In Heaven” instead, my least favorite songs of the night.  I like my “Layla” in its original version, all glorious angst on a Stratocaster with the haunting instrumental. “Tears” is just too sad and I don’t know how he plays it knowing its genesis, making it the perfect song for this girl to run to the bar.  Overall the set list didn’t seem to disappoint the crowd and hearing “Can’t Find My Way Home” live and in that venue was almost a religious experience for me. Moving quickly from song to song, shifting eras and playing selections from both his solo catalog and magic he created with the band, the concert was a dream that went to fast.

clapton on stage 2One of the many things I enjoy about seeing Clapton live is that he doesn’t really talk to the audience, doesn’t preach his politics, and doesn’t waste your time together yipping when he could be playing.  Eric tells his story thru his music and what he choses to play. He didn’t say much to the crowd but did comment on how grueling the series of concerts have been on him. His closing song “High Time We Went” was also telling and he and his band seemed to linger longer than what you would expect as they took their bows. Was May 23, 2015 Eric Clapton’s last concert as a headliner? Probably.  Is Clapton still God? YES.

shorts-girlI hate to be the bearer of bad news as we head to the hot season, but most women do not look good in shorts. As I often say, why do you want two “a..es” when one is plenty enough. Shorts accentuate the backside of women in a way they do not with men. So here are a few dos and don’ts on shorts.

Do: Wear neutral colors. If shorts are the only way to go for certain activities, go with blue, khaki or off-white.

Don’t: Go extreme with cut-off jeans as in the American Eagle design with the pockets drooping down in front and silly distress holes.

Lilly pDo: Consider your leg type. Lilly Pulitzer makes a nice Bermuda for someone with long thin thighs.

Don’t: Wear shorts with cuffs, they only accent the thigh.

 

Do: Wear a belt with shorts. Gives them a nice sophisticated look even over a T-shirt.

Don’t: wear anything gathered at the waist – no drawstrings even if the fabric is really lightweight.

 

Do: Consider a jeans skirt as an alternative. Nordstrom’s has a variety from a mini by Rag & Bone @ $225.00 to a Levi’s @ $68.00. They even have a cute Plus Size by JUNAROSE @ $79.00.

Rag and Bone jpgI gave up on shorts years ago – even wear jean skirts hiking and climbing. If you wear the proper undergarments, it’s no issue. Happy hunting.

 

Designers offer the message on what’s new, what’s trending. MassArt fashion designers present a vision into the future with imagination and wisdom.″

Sondra Grace, Chair of Fashion Department, MassArt.
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Designer Kimberly Nowers

I was honored to attend the annual MassArt Senior Fashion Show a few weeks ago, a tradition at the college that dates back to 1907. This year’s show in three words? It was sensational! I have attended the last few years and have seen the show metamorphose into the professional, dynamic runway show that it was. The title was “Vision” and it was created by one of the largest classes of graduating seniors. Thirty-five aspiring designers displayed their work on the runway, and 15 of them were selected to show their entire collections.

designers Christian and Erin

Designers Christian Restrepo and Erin Robertson

While all the designers were inspirational, a few of the stand outs for me were Erin Robertson, Christian Restrepo,whose spiked platforms were to die for and Joseph Carl, who had some of my favorite looks of the night. His gowns were constructed pristinely, with color blocking and piping flowing down the runway as though they were made to walk the Carousel in Paris. The gowns had structure and high turtleneck collars, which were reminiscent of Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne—but with a modern twist.

Erin Robertson is a woman to watch. She was the recipient of the 2013 Council of Fashion Designers of America’s CFDA/Teen Vogue Target Scholarship (a $25,000 prize) when she was just a sophomore. That night she was wearing an outfit she designed-an elegant, banana yellow pantsuit with a matching stole and purse. Loved her look, her collection and was instantly intrigued by her.

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Christian Restrepo finaled the show, closing with a strong multi-media textured collection. During my interview with him, he impressed me with his view on designing. It struck me that he was more interested in the design process itself and creating textures and movement, than being a “designer”. I liked the rawness of his attitude and the fact that it incorporated the same tenets that lead to the success of the fantastic duo Proenza Schouler. In a past interview with them, they spoke passionately of always being focused on the creation process, developing their custom fabrics and playing with the notion of ‘refined ease’ rather than being designers.

The entire show was tight and produced perfectly down to the lighting, the music and the large screen video footage of the catwalk that graced the back walls. The attendees were as beautiful and stylish as the runway show, and none of this would have been possible without the amazing help of the donors who provide scholarships to students in need. For the second year in a row, a gala was organized by those who volunteer their time and funds and believe in the continuation of the opportunity for an affordable education in the arts. As a guest of one of the co-chairs, Ashley Karger, I was grateful to be in attendance on this night, which was truly fashion perfection.

Michael Blanchard photographer

For more MassArt coverage, watch styleboston’s season 2 Fashion Forward runway show.

Ed’s been in the news lately, and not for his intimate friendship with Taylor Swift but for his intimate relationship with pot. His latest release, “Sweet Mary Jane” gives a few clues as to how much he enjoys this particular pastime, and it’s been suggested that he wrote the love song to be “cool”. Well, we’ve always thought Ed was cool enough, so here’s a flashback to season 4 with Ed and Kennedy, weeks before the Grammy’s and a duet with Sir Elton John.

There’s been a lot of negative coverage lately around Tom Brady but no matter what anyone thinks about Deflategate, he’s a stand up guy when it comes to Best Buddies. He’s been involved with this charity for years and just hosted another successful event in Hyannisport this past weekend. He’s generously given his time and money to support the organization, so he’s a touchdown as far as we’re concerned. We were lucky enough to talk to Tom after a previous race, check out Linda’s Off The Field.

BEA books:The MuralistBoston was represented at BookExpo America—right from the start. The line to have B.A. Shapiro sign advanced copies of “The Muralist” snaked around the corner of the Algonquin Books booth on the first day of BookExpo America but the novelist still took the time to chat with her fans. As those with Massachusetts’ ties reached the Boston-based novelist’s signing area, the topic quickly changed to the 1990 heist of the 13 precious works of art, including an important Rembrandt seascape. “I hope that they are found one day. I hope they aren’t lost,” she told one fan from Western Massachusetts. It’s not just a passing interest for Shapiro, who has also taught creative writing at Northeastern and sociology at Tufts. Shapiro’s bestselling novel of a couple of years ago, “The Art Forger,” explored the underworld of art theft and forgery. “The Muralist” is set in 1940 and centers on an American painter who disappears and neither her family living in German-occupied France nor her patron, Eleanor Roosevelt, knows what happened to her. The 352-page book is scheduled to be released on Nov. 3.

Other novels from Algonquin that are already getting notice—and it’s only Day 1 of BEA, the country’s largest book industry convention—are Jonathan Evison’s “This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!” due out on Sept. 8; Ron Childess’ “And West is West,” due out Nov. 13; and “The Fall of Princes” by Robert Goolrick due out Aug. 25.

HarperCollins offered a tease (just a booklet sample) of T.J. English’s “Where the Bodies Were Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him,” about the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, which will be released on Sept. 15. The booklet, copies of which English signed, is the book’s introduction and promises to be a review of Bulger’s “reign of terror.”

BEA:books City on FireFrom the BEA Editors’ Buzz Panel: Grand Central Publishing’s release of Julie Checkoway’s non-fiction tale “The Three-Year Swim Club,” due out on Oct. 27, 2015; Dr. Damon Tweedy’s highly anticipated “Black Man in a White Coat,” from Picador, which will be released on Sept. 8; Dan Marshall’s memoir “Home is Burning” will be released by Flatiron Books on Oct. 20; Simon & Schuster’s imprint Scout Press makes its debut with Ruth Ware’s haunting novel, “In a Dark, Dark Wood,” which is due out this summer; “City on Fire,” is Garth Risk Hallberg’s sweeping debut novel set against the backdrop of the 1977 blackout that nearly crippled New York City, which Knopf will release on Oct. 13; and, finally, Boston-based fiction writer Ottesa Moshfegh’s “Eileen,” which Penguin Press will release on Aug. 18.

 

BEA book fair-The Size of a FistWhen the convention floor opens on the first day there is a rush—not a run, but at a clip that could quickly turn to a stampede—by attendees to grab the copies of the advanced reader copies (ARCs) of the hottest titles. We didn’t want to miss out so we risked our safety and road the wave of librarians heading toward the Hachette area. For those of you who aren’t “label queens” when it comes to your reading, Hachette is the parent company of Little, Brown and Company, which will publish Sunil Yapa’s anticipated novel “The Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist” on Jan. 12, 2016. The bright yellow cover of this debut novel set against the conflict of Seattle’s 1999 WTO protests was an easy way to spot the literary trophy hunters. And Hachette’s Grand Central Publishing has Pulitzer Prize winner Oscar Hijuelos’ “Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise,” slated to be released on Nov. 3, 2015. In this novel, Hijuelos looks at the real-life relationship of Mark Twain and Sir Henry Morton Stanley. For those who love historical fiction, this will be on their “wish lists.”

BEA book:IlluminaeOne of the fastest growing segment’s of the publishing industry is the young adult category (called “YA” in the biz) and while it would be impossible to say which title was the hottest, it can be said without fear of argument that Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s “Illuminae: The Illuminae Files­__01” is a book, from Alfred A. Knopf for Young Readers that will make some waves when it is released on Oct. 20. With an elaborate layout and design, the book is that rare find: it offers enough to get both male and female younger readers to pick up a nearly 600-page book.

Another first day stop is the booth for Soho Press, which is known for finding the brightest new voices in crime fiction, where they were promoting Matt Bell’s “Scrapper,” a novel about a Detroit that never rebounds from its economic depths. Think that might not be enough to base your fall reading list on? How’s this for an opening sentence: “See the body of the plant, one hundred years of patriots’ history, fifty years an American wreck.” Soho also has Peter Lovesey’s “Down Among the Dead Men,” a Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond investigation story, out this July and “One Man’s Flag,” by David Downing, which is a follow-up to his “Jack of Spies.” Set in 1914, “One Man’s Flag” covers a lot of history and territory and works, we were told, without having read the first installment. The book is due out in November.

BEA books:Down Among the Dead

We’ll be back with Day 2’s roundup.

 

 

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Margaret Rose Vendryes

Margaret Rose Vendryes is an artist, historian and curator whose subjects, in her imaginative and gender focused exhibit, The Africa Diva Project, are all strong, black, female solo artists. She explores the role of gender in African and contemporary society through these music legends. The images of the women are taken from their vinyl album covers and surrounded by song lyrics but their faces are covered with exquisite African masks, traditionally worn only by men.

Tina Turner, Grace Jones, Anita Baker, Diana Ross, Beyonce, Nancy Wilson, and first diva Donna Summer are among some of the extraordinary singers this artist has captured on paper and canvas, and they immediately strike you as beautiful and powerful. In the music business, getting to the top as a female solo artist is a tough road but Margaret actually sees them as being very vulnerable.

“By wearing these masks, I’m giving them protection and creating a persona that gives them a sense of power and respect,” says Margaret, “in a sense connecting them back to their cultural legacy, the performance of Africa.”

Art: Nancy Wilson

This is her first commercial gallery show and the paintings can be seen through July14th at Child’s Gallery on Newbury Street. Child’s curator Richard Baiano is such a fan he owns the Nancy Wilson, draped in a stunning yellow, floor length gown. Margaret began the series in 2005 and the oil and cold wax paintings, priced from $8,000-$15,000, have taken up to 5 mos to complete.

Top photo by Darren Stahlman

perfect pairings

Ever heard of a Tom Plumbs Blues? Our friends at Church share their recipe for this gin cocktail, which is perfect for the summer. Watch here to see what pairs best with this stirred but never shaken craft cocktail.

Tove-Lo-Talking BodyTove Lo might have caught your ear this time last year with her slow building hit, “Habits (Stay High)”, an ode to marijuana self-medicating. I’m all for some green but the track just didn’t tickle my fancy. So I took no interest in this artist with the odd name, who reminded me of another emo, indie pop Lorde – no thank you. Well, I’m owning my bad judgement because I was wrong and if you were at this year’s Boston Calling you might have caught Tove Lo tearing up the stage. What changed my opinion on Tove Lo? Her second single, “Talking Body”. Released in January of this year, the track has gained popularity on top 40 radio over the last few months and I guarantee it will have your feet moving this summer. The lyrical content and musical composition seamlessly flow together to create a mid-tempo bass, heavy groove with the sexiest, catchiest hook you’ve ever heard. After hearing “Talking Body” I listened to the rest of her album and was not disappointed. Check the track below and get your summer groove on.

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On Thursday May 14, 2015, at the Seaport World Trade Center, BCRF hosted The Boston Hot Pink Party, which raised $1.2 million dollars for breast cancer research.

The event honored actress Elizabeth Hurley, a longstanding advocate and The Estée Lauder Companies’ Global Ambassador for Breast Cancer Awareness, as well as ABC News Anchor and breast cancer survivor Amy Robach and her husband, Andrew Shue. Also in attendance were designers Tommy and Dee Hilfiger and Fidelity’s Peter Lynch. The 10th Anniversary of the annual gala featured a special performance by Broadway star Megan Hilty as guests celebrated their local commitment to the global health issue of breast cancer, upheld by the night’s theme: “Pink Locally, Act Globally.” styleboston’s Zoey Gulmi was there and has all the interviews you want to hear…

video produced by V-Neck Media

clambake3Fresh off Memorial Day, we’re keeping things all American with our traditional New England clambake segment featuring Jasper White, chef and partner of Summer Shack restaurants and Steve DiFillippo, owner of Davio’s restaurants. Watch and learn as one of the master chefs takes you step by step, with Steve as his digger, on how to create the best beach clambake around. Impress your guests and wow them with this exciting presentation.

music:Bear's DenWith so many alternative bands in this world, it’s hard to find one that fits all your criteria, especially when it comes to folk. Look no further because Bear’s Den brings you just that. Originally out of West London, this British alternative folk band not only brings you soothing music but also brings the comfort of bands like The Lumineers and more.

2012 was one of their first tours on the road with Ben Howard, The Staves and Nathaniel Rateliff but their big break was touring alongside Mumford & Sons as headliners. They also toured alongside Australian singer/songwriter Matt Corby in October of 2013. Soon after, Bear’s Den received the Deezer Award from the PRS for Music Foundation in June 2014 and landed the chance to participate in the CMJ Music Marathon in NYC.

After years of releasing EP’s, their debut album, Islands released on Communion Records in October 2014.  The label was founded in 2006 by Bear’s Den member Kevin Jones, Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons and producer Ian Grimble.

From their new album, Island, the song to listen to is “Above the Clouds of Pompeii.” Its smooth sounds of the country side provokes the thought of just letting go and being free. If you are a Mumford & Sons fan, then Bear’s Den is for you so relax and take the journey with this talented band. Featured in television shows such as Reign, The Royals, Parenthood and more, you’ll want to see them live. Check out when they’re coming to your home town.

If you are a huge Mumford & Sons fan, then this band is just for you. Relax and take the journey with this talented band. Featured in many TV shows such as Reign, The Royals, Parenthood and more. You’ll want to see them live. Check out when they’re coming to your home town.

It’s not always easy being a vegetarian in Spain. Because I also eat fish and seafood–and I live in Barcelona, which is smack on the sea–it’s a challenge, but it’s not impossible. In Madrid, I would call it impossible. There is a big deli there, for instance, called El Museo del Jamón.  Generally, all over Spain there is a general suspicion of those who do not follow the cult of the slaughtered cow and pig. That small club would include both my husband U.B. and me.

So, we greet with joy the discovery of an extraordinary Spanish dish that is not based on meat. And there is a family of soups whose ingredients have never been near a pig.  The chilled soups are a refreshing thirst-quencher in the parched southern reaches of Spain’s Andalucia, where summer days can be broiling.

GAZPACHO

Everybody knows about gazpacho, the perfect chilled tomato-garlic-and-vegetable first course on a hot day, and in Spain it is as readily available in the local grocery store as orange juice.  My family slugs it down right from the carton if we’re on the road, and it’s one of our daughter Stassa’s favorite after-school snacks.  Still, nothing beats the homemade version, which is not difficult to make in either a blender or a food processor; recipes abound on the Internet.  Crucial to its success is the crunch factor of the accouterments that you add when serving gazpacho at your table:  diced green (or red) pepper and cucumber, little cubes of fresh tomato, and crispy croutons of bread that have been toasted with olive oil.  I like a sprig of rosemary or basil in mine.

 

 

SALMOREJO

Salmorejo from gildedfork.com

Salmorejo from gildedfork.com

The other tomato-based soup that has not found the international fame of its cousin gazpacho is called salmorejo.  A search for the etymology of the word led me nowhere, but it almost certainly has something to do with salt (“sal”) in spite of its being not exceedingly salty.  When I plug the word salmorejo into Google translate, the English translation is…(fanfare): “Gazpacho!”

As far as I can tell (after hundreds of tastings), salmorejo, whose origins are in the Andalucian city of Córdoba, varies from its more famous cousin mostly in the inclusion of a higher proportion of bread amongst its ingredients, which renders the soup a slightly lighter shade of red, and considerably thicker, than your average bowl (or glass) of gazpacho.  The ingredients list is also shorter, focusing on vine-ripened tomatoes, green olive oil, garlic and bread.  It is often garnished with cubes of ham and hard boiled egg.

AJO BLANCO

Ajo Blanco from Mercado Calabajio.

Ajo Blanco from Mercado Calabajio.

An unsung cousin to the red chilled soups is little known outside of Andalusia, and almost completely unheard of outside of Spain.  The secret of the creamy white, refreshingly chilled ajo blanco or “white gazpacho” summer soup seems to be well guarded.

U.B. and I first discovered ajo blanco in the swank restaurant of one of Spain’s most charming paradores, a converted fourteenth-century Moorish castle in Carmona, outside of Seville. Since my lactose-tolerance is not high, I at first shied away from the white soup in spite of U.B.’s swooning response to it. Only after asking the waiter, “Que es esto?” and hearing the list of ingredients, did I dive in and become a life-long fan.

Ajo blanco is more than the sum of its parts. In fact, the ingredients at first seem to be seriously at odds with each other: Bread. Almonds. Olive oil. Grapes. Vinegar. And of course garlic (ajo).

 

Here is a recipe, freely adapted from a version that I found at EPICURIOUS.COM:

Toast several slices of country bread without its crusts and soak in a cup of ice water.

Toast about a dozen sliced almonds in a skillet until golden, then grind them in a processor with one clove of garlic.

Squeeze the bread dry and add it to the almond/garlic mixture, along with half a pound of seedless green grapes.

Process until smooth then put it into a bowl and mix it together with 3 Tbsp. of wine vinegar, a half cup of extra virgin olive oil and two cups of ice water.

Strain it through a sieve, forcing as much bread through as possible. Add salt and cayenne pepper, and chill well, at least one hour.

Serve the soup with freshly toasted croutons and more green seedless grapes, cut in half.  I know it sounds weird, but trust me.

Once while traveling around the south of Spain, we came across a thicker, dip-like version of ajo blanco, which is usually a rather thin soup. Quite a surprise and just as yummy.

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treesBoston’s annual Party in the Park was held last week to benefit the Justine Mee Liff Fund and the theme this year was “The Fascinator”. Since 2005, this party has been taking place in the Emerald Necklace, one of the many greeneries throughout Boston, which the fund helps maintain and restore. 700 of Boston’s most beautifully dressed women and a handful of gentlemen came out to celebrate and raise money for the parks.

Thankfully, we were graced with sunny, beautiful weather for the first time in a few years and raised approximately one million dollars, a great gift for the city of Boston. This money will  work nicely alongside the 4.1 million dollars committed by Mayor Marty Walsh at the event on behalf of the city. Hats off to the guests and to Boston for helping to take care of our parks!

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photo credit: Lisa Richov, The Social Stylist

unlimited choices and lengthy directions...

workshop days. unlimited choices and lengthy directions…

I really do try to follow directions when it comes to my work. I read all the instructions on the back of each finish or paint I purchase, I prep the projects accordingly and I google anything and everything to try and create the best finished product I can. But sometimes…I’m just too impatient — or my vision for the project just isn’t translating into the real world as I wanted it to. If for some reason said project starts to look worse than it did on the side of the road, then that’s when I really start to break the rules. I’ll try anything to fix it in that moment, if it starts to get worse than I usually hate myself for being so impulsive, if it starts to get better, I blow smoke up my own ass and think of how one can be such a genius.

Why am I going on a rant about proper application of paint or stain, or prepping a surface correctly? Because sometimes it really just doesn’t matter what the product says you’re supposed to do with it. “For best results” is all relative.

dresser beforeFor instance, take this dresser covered in layers of paint. Latex, oil, lead – the whole shebang. It’s old and looks like crap because paint was just slopped on. Which is why I’m sure it was on the side of the road. I could tell the piece was solid and I was attracted to the simple, mid-century lines and oversized pull handles. Naturally the first step was to remove all those layers of paint. My method of choice when it comes to layers of old finishes? Paint remover — I’ll take the toxic fumes over lead dust. “Strips all paints in 30 minutes!” No it doesn’t.

It was hot as hell outside and the humidity was off the charts. I followed the instructions for proper application. That’s an hour and a half of paint removal in mid-May in Massachusetts. I was burning up like a hooker in church surrounded by toxic chemicals wearing goggles and the thickest, longest chemical gloves you’ve ever seen. We’re talking “Breaking Bad” status here, without the meth. So not only was I dripping sweat onto the dresser, I’m pretty sure the fumes were starting to get to me as well.  After playing nice with my putty knife and pick set, I grabbed my beastly wire brush and attacked the dresser drawers. Not only does lead paint cause dementia when ingested — which my brain cannot afford, it turns to goo when using paint remover. I was basically brushing the paint around on the wood.

paint remover progression

Once I realized these streaks of forest green and white were here to stay, I decided to take a chance and go with a distressed look. I feathered out the paint to smooth the edges so it blended nicely with the wood and sealed it with polyurethane. Going back to my rules rant — all polyurethane products say they cannot be applied over paint — is a lie. I found this out by breaking the rules and coming up with a different, but equally admirable finished product. The polyurethane is smooth to the touch and dried perfectly, just as it would on a clean, clear wooden surface.

The frame of the dresser was a different story and was able to be completely stripped because of its simple shape. So no problems there.

Dresser - after

What’s my point here? Break the rules and get creative. Experiment with your findings. If you picked something from the trash and it ends up looking like shit…you can always put it back in the trash.

If you enjoyed reading this article, or you’re interested to see what else I’ve created, you can find me on Etsy here.

 
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