Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mother's Day with Baby Duck in NYC Featuring CFDA, Warhorse, Jack Rogers, ABC Kitchen, Ten Thousand Things & Alexis Bittar

There's nothing like a girl's trip, and the one branded in my heart was my pre-Mother's Day visit with Alysa (a.k.a. Jack Rogers Girl) in NYC. 5 days crammed full (literally!) of eating, shopping, theatre, hanging out, taking pics and -- while the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, the tree also stays close to the apple -- Mother-Daughter tweeting. It was jam packed amazing, and the weather was out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Flooring her with theatre tickets to the acclaimed and now Tony nominated Warhorse (which minutes before walking up to the Vivian Beaumont Theatre she said there were some shows which were out of her financial reach like Warhorse), we were thundering-holves-struck by the production. My former hunter-jumper-horse lover daughter was mesmerized and we just loved it, almost smelling the horses, hay and gunpowder.

We highly recommend db (as in Daniel Boulud) Bistro Moderne for a pre-theatre dinner. Was a bit early to eat for my clock, but sooooo tasty!!

Chelsea Market
Saturday was a day to hang out in Chelsea, Meatpacking and Uptown. First stop: her apartment which I had not seen since I rented it in January. That child sure knows how to put the nest together. There was nothing I would have changed, save moving one of my Murano glass hand-me-downs, but remembering my own Mother redoing my kitchen decades ago when I ran to the grocery store, and the hurt it caused, that piece of Murano can stay where it is. My lips are sealed.

We were delighted that the number of dogs rivaled the number of shoppers on a fine Saturday, and wish we had Eddie and Tuey on leashes (and better behaved) to go shopping with us. Alysa swore that she needed to get a dog just to go shopping at Jeffrey's!

Oh we shopped, but foodaholics as we are, eating was a priority. Cookshop was our brunch pick and our ordering skills were spot on. I have to pause here and say that shockingly, Cookshop has the best, and I mean the best-of-show-The-Ivy-included fried chicken I have ever had in my life! And the breakfast items were Top-Chef-ready too! The Meatpacking District has so many interesting stores, and we hit them all, including our friends' Ten Thousand Things where we hand picked enamel eye pendants, and then took a spin through Chelsea Market which is a real eye-opener. Sarabeth's ice tea and cookies (lots of those) are a must, and we also hit the bookstores and shops which are endless. 

Then it was a quick taxi ride uptown for more shopping. When we found ourselves practically closing out Barneys, I suggested Fred's for dinner which was decadent pleasure, especially the dessert medly we splurged on.

Sunday we got a late start for brunch at Jojo's, which felt like we were dining in Paris. Just have to post her simple fruit dessert of strawberries and mango, fuel for afternoon shopping.

Naturally our agenda included visiting the newly opened Jack Rogers store which was packed with shoppers, including me. Alysa could barely peel me away, as my selling skills kicked in, trying to help a German couple convert European shoe sizes. The store is so beautiful and worth a visit. Better grab a pair of their cute jellies while you can; they were featured in Real Simple and are going to be featured on The View.

We needed to recharge our engines, and made a stop at All Seasons Nail & Spa (126 E 57th) for manicures (and a quick shoulder massage for Alysa). I just love this place. Great manis-pedis and tres chic for a walk in!

A stop at my very favorite store in all of New York, yep, Duane Reed! to stock up on 'stuff', and a zip around NY to catch the Will Ryman Roses installed on Park Avenue.

Will Ryman Roses on Park Avenue

I begged for some down time before a special dinner that Alysa had booked a month ago at ABC Kitchen.

ABC Kitchen
A big wow. We really didn't care that her friends had run into Anna Wintour, Natalie Portmann, etc.and we came up blank, we had each other and that amazing food. ABC Kitchen is worth booking way in advance, it will not disappoint and will linger on your mind and taste buds.

Monday we went our separate ways, Alysa to work and I stopped by the Accessory Circuit where I ran into Jackie O'Reilly and her uber talented boss Alexis Bittar. You'll just have to wait for the new collection I ordered. Wasn't on my schedule, but couldn't resist! Later I loved visiting my favorite stores, including Lanvin and Bergdorfs and just marveling at the colors of the Loro Piana scarves (which admittedly I left on the table).

Jackie O'Reilly, Alexis Bittar

I had the pleasure of visiting the Jack Rogers Mothership, meeting some of the talents who work with Alysa, and lunching with her and her boss.

Dinner was upon us way to fast, this time at another NY Landmark, The Lion. Holy Moly what a meal! I am on Fourquare, finding it not only fun, but invaluable in keeping a record of where I've been and what I like. An occasional Badge pops up -- Explorer, Adventurer, Far Far Away, JetSetter -- but the reality check was when I checked in at The Lion and promptly got the 'Bender' Badge. Time to re-think all this eating, yes???

Tuesday I visited more of my favorite places, and found myself at the Designers & Agents Show, where I picked up a couple of new designers for the store (stay tuned!)

Ron Anderson, David Rees, Andrea Linett

Prabal Gurung
Tuesday night Alysa had her social event (Book Signing at the Jack Rogers Store with Pamela Fiori) and I was invited by Ron and David (Ten Thousand Things) to the CFDA Incubator Event at Bar Basque. It was a mindboggling show of talent including House of Waris and Prabal Gurung. I loved meeting everyone from CFDA and am in awe of what they do.

Alysa and I reconvened late to exchange gossips about respective events (both high fives!) and enjoy a quiet dinner at my hotel (sans dessert) before we hugged our goodbyes.

The next day the skies opened and the rain came down in sheets of tears that I had to leave. How lucky we were to have the New York sunshine and each other. What a Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ode to My Mother This Mother's Day & Musings on Kate Middleton

Let me say that Kate Middleton has nothing on my Mother who epitomized elegance in 1947 when she married in a dress that I think Sarah Burton would have loved. The location was Dallas, in the back yard of her cousin's mansion on Turtle Creek.

The sweetness on her face belied Mom's toughness. After arriving in the US as a refugee fleeing Hitler's Germany, she was educated at Baylor and became an Army nurse prior to meeting my father. Mom always worked, and I respected that ethic. For decades she was the County Health Nurse in Ashdown, Arkansas, and our only dread would be confronting the refrigerator after school on Tuesday afternoons to see if she brought any vaccine home for us. I still have a vivid image of my sister Laura with a hoe in her hand being chased by Mother with her syringe. Mom won of course. Work of course didn't preclude her from cooking 7 days a week, some of which we loved, and an occasional dish (calf's tongue) which I had to sneak to the garbage disposal.

We had our battles, as Mother and I were both stubborn as mules. What I cherish most about my Mother was that she always was my advocate. When the 7th grade math teach called to tell her I had corrected him in class, she stood up for me by telling him that my answer was right.

Mom was not just an advocate for me, she had a large flock under her wing. We sold poppies for the March of Dimes, and she was an early promoter of Planned Parenthood before it became fashionable, especially in Arkansas in the 60's. She never cared about the social status or skin color, as long as they were good people. She marched in a local parade for one of her causes, totally embarrassing my father, and it was not until later that I found out it was in one of her manic phases.

I respected her tenacity in dealing with her lifelong battle with depression. The down days were hard on us, and the up days (polishing her entire collection of silver in the middle of the night) were mysterious and hard on Daddy. I loved my father but when he committed her to a mental ward for shock treatment as it was done in the mid-60's to control the manic phases, the tables turned and my sister and I became advocates for her.

My sister Laura and I were always so chic, thanks to Mother's love of her Singer sewing machine. So many matching dresses for birthdays and other occasions. I always had something wonderful to wear.

My love for jewelry is rooted in Mother's gifts of jewelry for my birthday and Chanukah. The first piece which I still cherish is a gold locket engraved with my initials, and with pictures of my parents inside. This was followed by a gold watch, opal ring, and a sterling charm bracelet which carries a memory of each charm I collected. Mom's jewelry box was modest, but I loved trolling around in it.


In my rebellious college years, we disagreed on many things, but in hindsight, all was trivial. What was the most important to me was her unconditional approval and love for Charles from the day she met him  and her total devotion to our kids and to my sister and her kids. Whether it be bingo or cookie baking, Grandparent's Day or shopping, she passed along her values and for that, I am forever in her debt.

Mother's energy in her later years in Dallas seemed to accelerate. She volunteered at the nursing home where my Father finished his life, and kept doing it after he passed away. She was a magnet for any friend who needed nursing, and she was game for anything when it involved her family, including a last minute 36 hour trip to see the last day of Christo's Gates in Central Park, even though her health was failing. She voiced her strong opinions on education by writing a letter to the Dallas Morning News (published), and when it came to friends, they didn't make the cut if they spent their time complaining about the food or living their life in fear. When half of a trip to Israel cancelled because of terrorism, my Mother stuck, and left on her 80th birthday as a present to herself. She was fine, I was crying buckets.

It has been 6 years since I lost my Mother, and not just on Mother's Day, but every day, I miss her. Here's to you Mom, for your strength, character, love, and caring for every human being who touched your orbit.