Sunday, April 25, 2010

Celebrity Shopping

It's hard to get psyched up for the day when it begins with a speeding ticket at 8am. The CHP car was easily 20 car lengths behind me when I saw her, but it was too late. I always look for them, but today I had two produce crates in the front seat, that might have obstructed my view. The officer said I had "passed several cars" which were in the fast lane while I was in the carpool lane. Never mind that if you go less than 80 in the carpool lane at that hour you are likely to be mowed down; I generally think it's not a good idea to argue with CHP or any law enforcement, but I had my doubts when she said she ticketed me for going "75+" meaning that she had not clocked my speed, she just didn't like the idea of me going faster than the rest of traffic. I was irked that on the way home I saw a dozen people recklessly darting in and out of traffic. Whatever; I will see if I can fight it.

Today in Palisades we had a few celebrities I haven't seen before. Believe me, if you see Kate Capshaw (in a beret and sunglasses) with Steven Spielberg (in a cap and glasses), you know it's them; this is a stock photo, I would never ever dare to photograph a celeb at the market:
I had to ask Ronnie the Granola Guy to confirm, yes, it was "them."It's a real tip-off when two people are wearing a hat and sunglasses; they looked just about like this; Kate had a ready smile for me though they didn't stop; wonderful to see her so friendly, and even more wonderful that no one bothered them; in Brentwood, some A*hole would have tried to stalk them.

One of my Gardenia totes went by today, lovely as it was a year ago after regular use; she uses it as a tote and sometimes at the market; the chard was so lovely and crisp...
Giada deLaurentiis was also shopping today with her husband and little baby; same thing as the Spielbergs, she had on big Jackie-O style glasses, but no missing her; she really is tiny, 5'2"? Later in the day, the bookstore put out a sandwich board for a book signing with her. I don't know where she buys her produce, but she was empty-handed today as far as I could see, save the all-natural dishwasher products.
I saw one of my other regulars, who is "in the industry" and buys a lot of stuff every week. Does she cook it all herself? No, she has someone who prepares most of the meals for the week, all healthy. She does a little herself. It's a good life at this level on the Westside; to her credit, she is a lovely down to earth classy lady.

We also had a few other celebs today, including the Fire Department; always popular with the vendors. Here they are sitting on the wall in front of the cafe. Even the F.D. likes organic!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Acceleration, and a Sudden Stop

How many of us feel we are constantly on the run, going 'round and 'round, just like the great wheel in the Tuilleries in Paris? That's definitely how I feel the last while; except the wheel seems to be going faster and faster. Lisa the Healer in LA says absolutely, we have been in a period of acceleration. I got about 50 things done today, including picking my brother in law up at his house, my nephew at his school, and running them both to LAX. My Blackberry has become an appendage. After dog school this evening, I went with my Dad to a memorial service for one of his associates. Unfortunately, I had Biscuit with me, and my Mom got delayed....and so Biscuit and I went with Dad to the service. This is where the Sudden Stop comes in.

Fred Campos started the first portable X-ray business in Southern California, and my Dad has always read his films. Fred was enterprising, industrious, and thought big; he emigrated from Mexico, was a huge car fan, had a wonderful sense of humor and was full of life, always. He sold his business several years ago and moved to Oregon, where he had a massive heart attack a few days ago while driving, then his car wandered off the road and into a tree; he was 68 years of age.

As quickly as everything is happening, it is so humbling to remind ourselves that everything can, and will one day for each of us, stop in an instant.

The entire service this evening was in Spanish. I can understand everything in Spanish, just don't ask me to respond, because French will come out. I was touched that my Dad sat through 2 hours of the service: songs, liturgy, eulogies...all in Spanish, though he can not understand a word of it. Didn't matter; he and Fred spoke X-Ray, and that is all they needed for their own special bond.

Biscuit, meanwhile, did great too. I left her in the "Mothers Room" at the church for an hour while I sat with Dad in the church; Biscuit and 20 kids effectively babysat each other, with a few supervising parents I knew. I have no worries about this little dog, and it was great socialization for her.

Enjoy your days, every busy one of them....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Alexandra Paul

From time to time, shoppers pick up one of my black-handled totes like Cap Ferrat or Cannes and think that the handles are made of leather. No, I tell them, they are synthetic, a simulated leather. Most of the time, shoppers are a little disappointed, but I tell them especially for the Cannes model, leather would be very difficult to cut into such little strips and band around the top of the bag. Here is a selection of mostly Cap Ferrat totes, all with the black handles; the Saint Remy in front now comes only with brown leather handles btw:
Sometimes, a shopper is really happy to hear that the handles and trim aren't leather. That was the case on Sunday, when Alexandra Paul and her husband stopped by my booth at Palisades market; here she is, presumably with her dog:

Alexandra is probably best known for her Baywatch role, where she was known as "the smart one" (she did go to Stanford, after all!) and "the only one without fake boobs." Sometimes it is so sad to be in see people like Alexandra Paul on one end of the spectrum, and scary nit-wits like Heidi Montag on the other.

She is in her mid 40's now, but she would put most 18 year olds to shame; she is one of those people you see in person and you say WOW; she is tall and thin, perfectly toned, and still very feminine; much more striking in person than in photos. She also seems to be happy: always with a smile on her face, frequently strolling holding hands with her hubby; they are a really cute couple! She has been an environmental "activist" for many years, and is very committed to reducing excess consumption across the board. She has also competed as a triathlete, and I admit every time I see her at the market, it makes me feel like I need to work out more! Her husband coaches triathletes, so they are definitely committed to fitness and health.

She bought a small Cannes tote, and both she and her hubby were very interested to hear that the baskets are perfectly sustainable, vegan, fair trade and made by women in Madagascar. I continue to be amazed at the quality construction of my merchandise, down to the handles: they are filled with grass, not with cotton twine or metal or plastic; here is one of the handles opened up:

In the U.S. I think we call this "sweetgrass." The same grasses can be colored, then used to weave the St. Tropez and Antibes baskets.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Market Energy

The energy at the markets changes a little each week, and sometimes it's as if everyone has had a mood swing; last week, everyone was a little down, and I sold mostly discounted merchandise, though I moved a lot of it, and that was fine. This week, everyone was very "up", and I sold my highest priced merch, and multiples of it. Today in Palisades, the energy was very good very early; I have to ask Lisa the L.A. Channeler/Healer about this; is it the celestial movements?....some weeks the difference in the collective mood each week is so palpable.

To start the day, I never tire of seeing my baskets go by filled with lovelies; note her matching pink shoes; she was in a pink mood today though she is a redhead: My elusive chic shopper was back, this time in a pair of metallic flats, a pale blue sweater (cashmere no doubt) and a dark blue skirt. She is pure effortless class, always looks fabulous, a whiff of Europe, always a little mysterious, but she's not an aloof snob. She is my ideal French Basketeer client. She had her large Eze tote with her again; love it!!
I guess the good mood carries over to me too; I went to get a few bunches of cherry-blossom-type branches and I got carried away (thanks to vendor discounts) and got a bunch of lilies and blush roses and snowballs; they were all beautiful, and I thought I would sell the large Cap Ferrat Fuschia basket and the flowers, composed:

Instead, I sold the basket, twice:
Then I substituted in a yellow large Cap Ferrat:

Finally, the flowers made it home and thrilled my Mom, in her living room:

Happy Sunday....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Biscuit in a Basket

Where does the week go? I blink, and it's Saturday morning again. I wish I had had more time to post this week, but I have been going non-stop. Of course I also have been taking care of the two dogs, one a baby. I will post more soon, but had to share here: a tisket a tasket a Biscuit in a Basket; here she is with my friend Meriam in a small yellow Cap Ferrat, which is quite a small basket:

Biscuit and Honey love baskets; when they are in the car or at home, they love to curl up in one of my baskets; smart dogs! Biscuit is just now starting to grow some wooly eyebrows, and her rough coat is starting to come in. She is a sweet, sensitive little girl, but when it comes to eating food or getting through a door, she is a real terrier.

The 40th Earth Day is this week, on the 22nd, but there is unfortunately little awareness here in Orange County. I mentioned it to several people today, but seems folks are more interested in the new Nordstrom store in Fashion Island. I have a crew at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival this weekend, as I did last year; it was lots of fun and awareness; I will wait to hear the report.

This morning I went to a garage sale; it was advertised as "French antiques, French Books, French Baskets" on and on. The seller, as it happens, has been to Greece once but has never been to France, but she is crazy about all things French. She has shopped for many years at one of the best French furniture shops in Orange County, Lyman Drake. Does this happen with any other country in the world? Does someone become passionate about England or Spain or Peru to this extent? It's fascinating, really. The "baskets" she had advertised where not market baskets, they were the oversized industrial ones, but she sold them yesterday pre-sale for $40, though she bought them for $250 many years ago. I have no idea what this lady was thinking, but I was sure unhappy to have missed those mind, I will pick some up elsewhere, maybe in France; I am going in June for Anne's wedding!! More tomorrow.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Marketing

Today started out badly; I was missing shots. Jennifer Garner came by with Violet and new baby daughter and Jennifer's Mother, the little baby just delighted to be in her Mom's arms, happily saying "Maamaa!!" Fortunately, the little one was oblivious to the paparazzi who were on the sidewalk 10 feet away, taking photos with 8" or so lenses. Violet is always a little guarded; she knows the business. We all felt sorry for Jennifer and her kids; I wanted to get a photo of the guys taking photos, but by the time I got to my camera they were gone.

I missed a few shots of rolling carts, mostly immitations of the French ones, but I got a few others and will keep getting samples to show you.

It was cool and dreary today all day, not basket buying weather, so I marked a bunch of discontinued and samples down, and did fine. A pair of girls came by late morning with cooler packs on their backs full of free Red Bull; I admit, I have never even tried a Red Bull, but I chose the Sugar Free, which has 10 calories. Here are the girls with their packs on their backs, like the French "hottes" or gathering baskets: A moment after I had opened the Red Bull, the Ice cream Dude went for a quick break, and while I tended a sale for him, a swarm of ladies were in my sale baskets and knocked over the Red Bull, all over my awning stripe tablecloth...this is a violation on my part, I never leave open beverages on the front tables for this reason! Time for a cleaning!

On the way home I went to see a friend, who had a French "hotte" at her sale; this one is not terribly new, but has a great look; it's about 2ft tall and is $65. I have someone who wanted these a few months ago so I will email him; if he does not want it I will have this piece at the Olivenhain Grove sale end of this month:
In other news, a celeb came by and she is on the board of a well-known local environmental group. I told her I would donate to her for the big annual event, and she gave me notice today that she will take me up on it. Love her; she is so good. Also saw Ann the teacher from Crossroads School today, and did a recap on the school lecture a few weeks ago.
I got home to take care of the pups and make dinner for everyone; steaks and fresh garlic with mushrooms; Biscuit is now The Flying Biscuit as she went over the sill and out a window yesterday, with Honey watching in amazement; I think she thought it was a door; she went down through 5 ft of bushes, which broke her fall, and was 20 yards away by the time I got outside to get her; crazy puppy!! They bounce I guess, at this age, she was fine.
Enjoy the rest of the day....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Super Auntie, Super Winds

Yesterday I went out to Palm Springs (Indian Wells, to be exact) to have lunch with my Auntie Tanis and Auntie Anna. Anna is actually my great-aunt, as she is my Grandmother's sister. Here she is out by the pool, where we had few nice chilled glasses of white: Anna just wrapped up her annual golf outing to the area, with her friends from Pine Brook CC in Calgary; she played 18 holes of golf every day for 10 days straight. This might seem like a lot of golf, but here's the catch: Anna is going to be 86 years old in a few weeks. My Grandmother, Virginia, is going to be 96 in June and their brother Joe is going to be 100 in September. Talk about long genes! Anna is in fabulous shape, especially her strong lean legs, which look like they belong to someone half her age. She has participated in an osteoporosis study for the last 12 years, where they have confirmed she has the bone strength and density of a 30 year old. Did she play sports when she was younger, they ask her at the study? No, just work on the farm and riding her horse Bingo to school. "They didn't have sports at school then," Anna tells me.

What is Anna's secret? We would all like to know! Besides good genetics, she plays a lot of golf, and does two sun-salutation-like stretches at the foot of the bed every day; she says she "hates to see those crumpled-up old people," so she stretches to keep her back in shape. She keeps her weight down, has never smoked, drinks white wine, plays bridge, is very social with groups like her nursing school friends and Daughters of the American Revolution, and does crossword puzzles. She also laughs plenty, plays the harmonica and the "mouth organ" (mouth harp), and will sing and dance a jig any time she can.

Anna insisted that I stay overnight and go to happy hour with the gang, which of course I did. I wish I had more time to spend with my relatives, most of whom live in Alberta! So off we went to happy hour at the Hog's Breath Inn in La Quinta, which is owned by Clint Eastwood. They had an upright piano being played by the keyboardist from the 60's band The Turtles (1967's "Happy Together"); he was rattling off song after song, with no sheet music. Anna wanted him to play something Scottish or maybe Irish, and so here she is singing and dancing to the "Bonnie Banks" song, the keyboardist watching her while he plays:

Ann's long genes come from the Orkney Islands off the far north of Scotland; she's like a little Scottish sprite, full of good humor and smiles and fun; Anna goes to Westray Island there (population 550) to see our relatives there every few years; one of these years I want to go with her... fascinating corner of the world.

We told our waiter she had a birthday coming up, so Anna was thrilled to be serenaded with Happy Birthday and get a little cake and ice cream; later we had a hard time getting out of the restaurant; everyone stopped her to either congratulate her on her 86th birthday or compliment her singing:Meanwhile, at every corner in our neighborhood, you could find fantastic country clubs and magnificent flowers and water features; these bouganvilla hedges were perfect and so vibrant; there are two matching waterfalls on either side of the car entrances here; impressive.... While it was 80 degrees and bone dry, you could still look up at the snow on top of Mt. San Gorgonio:At the entrance to the Palm Springs area, the windmill turbines keep multiplying; there are more than 4,000 of them now; they stand 150 ft tall, and each blade is half the length of a football field; these supply all of the power for the Palm Springs area and the Coachella valley; there is Mount Baldy in the background:Here is a shot I took while driving; you can see the density:
And another shot, with Mt. San Gorgonio in the background; this is a very windy pass, so it meets the minimum wind speed requirements, I think it's about 21 MPH. You can really feel the wind blowing your car around. Too bad they are not cheaper though: each one of these turbines costs up to $300,000. That would mean the value of all of these 4,000 windmills is $1.2 that is an investment; but a great long term alternative to fossil fuels....
Post script: here is a link from the NYT today re wind power; I have to get more megawatt info on the PS area:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter, Welcome Biscuit

This was a relatively low-key Easter for our family. Some of the family are traveling, and I was not in the mood to do a big production. I made Eggs Benedict with Julia's hollandaise sauce, various pastries and mimosas for breakfast, then we transitioned into lunch, with a leg of lamb crusted with fresh herbs and garlic, scalloped potates with Gruyere, and more mimosas.

When I make Easter dinner, I always think of my French teacher in Paris. We were going around the room, each student talking about how we celebrate Easter in our countries of origin. I said, "in the United States, we celebrate Easter with the Easter Bunny." "And how do you cook the Easter rabbit," my teacher asked me, "with a mustard sauce?" It took a little explanation that the Easter Bunny brings eggs and candies and chocolates, it is not to be eaten for dinner.

This year, the Easter Bunny brought us a puppy, Biscuit, who came from Fox Island Kennels in Palm Beach. Mom and I got her at LAX last evening, and Mom casually walked in the house with the puppy and told Dad "look what I found floating down the river." There was no protest; I think this is what you can get away with when you have been married for 51 years. Did I mention we did not tell Dad in advance? He grew up with little terriers exactly like this, so he can't resist them.

Here is a head shot of Biscuit; she really is little, I think she weights about 4 pounds; she is 8 1/2 weeks old:Biscuit is 3/4 pure Australian Russell Terrier lines; they have bred out the craziness; she's too new to the household to really tell, but she is indeed very calm, and cries when anyone leaves the room; "come back" she seems to say! Here is Biscuit with Honey, both held by my niece Gabrielle. This isn't a great shot of Honey, she looks like a real hairy beast, but it was tough to hold onto both dogs at once!
There was play all day, and all kinds of tempting things for dogs, like blue Goose eggs in the plants, which I had to snatch away from Honey:
The dogs are working out their pack order; Honey is establishing herself as the leader, but the little Biscuit is tenacious and does not give up easily, until she is tired and ready for a nap; her favorite place is in anyone's arms; she loves loves loves to be held:

Problem is, both dogs seem to be answering to each other's names; if I call for Biscuit, Honey comes running. Call for Honey, and Biscuit is there. Like Bennifer or Brangelina, I think I have to come up with something good: HoneyBiscuits for now, but maybe something else, without confusing them. Here are the two dogs waiting for a piece of lamb; like Napoleon, Biscuit is a gobbler; the food is gone without chewing, while Honey is very ladylike and chews each piece:
We were in the guesthouse today when the Baja quake hit; a very gentle roll but unmistakeable; even Honey started to cluck about it. Be safe everyone and hope for no aftershocks....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Incredible Eggs

Salvador Dali had a fascination with eggs. I did a post on this last year; he loved the simple organic form of the egg, and all the organic notions that it implied. His museum (and burial place) in Spain is topped with egg forms: R and I visited his former house in Cadaques, along the Costa Brava, Spain. It is fascinating; along the rustic beach, the house is decorated with massive - guess what - Eggs. The organic form of the egg was a symbol of fertility and life for Dali; as well as hope and love and birth. I never completely understood him, but the eggs were memorable and unexpected.

Who says you can't put all your eggs in one basket, especially if you have a basket from French Basketeer? Haha! Sorry I couldn't resist that one. Unlike other baskets, my classic baskets sit flat on the bottom, they don't fall over like the cheaper ones. That is why I will dare to put all these eggs in one of my Classic French Baskets.....
We host Easter for the extended family, and for many years I blew all the chicken eggs myself. Finally, last year, I said NO MORE. Blowing out all those eggs can't be good for me; so last year I bought some blown eggs from some Psenky place, because the Martha Stewart-referred egg supplier was sold out. Can you believe it?

I found a great resource in the website This is a website that can help you fnd local farmers and local providers. Are you having an event and need something, anything, natural? Check Local Harvest. I found my Christmas birds nests there, and pine cones. Shipping is not a lot if you buy locally, and I am a firm believer that we need to support our farmers, the ultimate small business. Why buy blueberries and produce from Costco that comes from South America when you can buy local??? All of the Local Harvest suppliers are from the USA. I will stop my little rant there, but PLEASE be aware of what you are buying and where it comes from and how fresh it is.

I found a supplier for blown eggs in Central California, who had duck and goose eggs in various sizes; all of the eggs I bought cost $30; they were easily half the price of the Martha Stewart egg supplier. Here are all my eggs; aren't they pretty! When I unpacked them, Mom thought they were too too pretty and perfect and told me she wanted them plain, uncolored; but she changed her mind this morning when she saw the calla lillies at the Corona del Mar farmer's market from Hector; are these colors unreal???....

Still, the form of the plain eggs are fabulous....these are all goose and duck eggs...
The basket here is from Morocco; it is a sample, that I will reorder. Isn't the geometric great? I have a similar basket, made of a large disc shape, that I use to bring in cut greens from the garden.

Check in tomorrow for more pics; we got Baby Biscuit tonight. I saw dear Charlie Chan today. There is lots to tell.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

St. Remy Tote

This is a shout-out to Karen in Georgia and Kimberly in Arizona...I love shoppers who are so excited about their baskets!

If you have a boutique store with small items, nothing is nicer for your shoppers than a stack of baskets, for shoppers to gather their purchases, as opposed to, say, a metal or plastic wire stacking basket. Wire or plastic? Yuck! Are we in the grocery store, NO! Why does Anthropologie have Moroccan baskets instead of plastic for small purchases? Doesn't it look perfect in Anthropologie in Fashion Island/Newport Beach? Of course. I have no photos of that store, but I might dare. That is my Aix basket, unlined.

Darren, at Paris to the Moon in Costa Mesa, has this set of baskets at his door for client purchases; he has a lot of smalls and so these work perfectly for him. Darren would only have something nice and structured, to cradle the precious finds. I forgot to compliment him on the natural/no plastic look; he is so fabulous and ahead of the curve!!!!
One of my favorite stops in Paris is Mora. I know how to get there but not the you have to go look it up. They have cook supplies with a focus on pastry; metal, glass, big, small etc etc. At the door, they have a rather goofy mannequin in chef's attire....
But on the other side of the doorway, they have this:
I know it's a bad shot, but it's a stack of Madagascar baskets made of seagrass, with flat leather handles. I am ashamed to take photos of stores in France, and I take them clandestinely, just so you know.....I like to go incognito and taking photos is not a "local" thing to do....
Anyway, this is what I call the "shopper" size, all-purpose, inexpensive, and make of seagrass; it is in a slightly keystone type of shape; mine are with brown leather handles:
An interior zip pocket:The handles are sewn rather than riveted, but I have never had one returned; these are well-made pieces and I guarantee all my merch; did I mention they are also Fair Trade??? The finish on the top is raffia:

The corners are covered in leather, to prevent frays at the margin...

I am continually impressed that my suppliers can do this work so consistently, in a least-developed nation.

Though my website shows them with black simulated leather handles, I now carry them only with brown leather handles. There is a slight blue-green tint to the seagrass, and that has always made me think of my favorite Hermes scarf, here:
Use your imagination... can I find a similar patterned silk to make a drawstring closure for these totes?? I will show you the other custom pieces tomorrow. I think it has to be in the blue family....
If you ask my Mom where she would live in France, she will quickly tell you: Saint Remy, formally called Saint Remy de Provence. I took her there several years ago on her Grand Tour of France, and it was her favorite, then and now. We stayed at the beautiful Chateau de Roussan, just outside the center of town; the property dates to the 16th century and Nostradamus once lived on the property. I would call Saint Remy understated but classic. There is nothing too flash or crazy about the place, but it completely in good taste. That's why this style became "St. Remy"...nothing flash about it, but well made and in good taste. Caroline of Monacco lived in Saint Remy for some time; more on the town later; just here to say we LOVE it!