The Colors of Greece

Gythio, Gytheio, Gytheion, Gythion, Githio

We wake to the sputtering sound of a small fishing boat.

The door to our room is thrown open to reveal the coast of Gythio, Greece. A small historic island at the foot of the Taygetus mountain range. As we look around, three sides of the island have mountains and one side dips into the sea.

The sun is strong here spotting a bright deep blue sky.
The sea is completely calm as if we were on a lake.

Today as we wandered around the village. We were told of a local haunt where they make  mavistikes, a flat hot bread covered with sea salt and oil. The chef served it scorching hot with a large strip of local white cheese. It was amazing. “Oh it must be served with beer,” he instructs us.
And it was the perfect compliment. The beer is deep amber and very hoppy.

Next he brings a kabob of dark pork. Squeezing fresh lemon on the entire combination. We pull the bread apart and eat with the cheese.

Over the door of the cafe is a small bird cage. Three small parakeets chirp and and flutter. “Good luck,” the man says as I take a photo of the birds.

We tromp about in the village. Then, I spot it. A small shop with soft scarves hanging outside.  We had to climb a steep ramp to reach this boutique. A small quaint hotel sits beside the store. Both overlook the dock and the sea.

The store is extremely small with a wall of handmade jewelry. Baskets of handmade sandals and scarves of every color. Can you say heaven?

A hour later my patient husband carried the packages to our tender boat.

Travel, what does it give you?

Experiences. Textures and colors that are now imprinted in your mind. Seeing other people like you, Working dreaming and carving out a life.

Unlike you, but also just like you.

Fall Fashion Extravaganza in Rome

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Rome is one of my favorite cities in the world. We decided not to do all the regular tourist haunts this trip, but instead walked through the city shopping and eating.

The fall trends here are practical and stunning.
For outerwear, the short down-filled puffy jacket ruled every store window.
Colors of soft grey and deep eggplant with a fur collar.

And speaking of fur,
chinchilla coats of every color filled the most exquisite stores. Natural colored grey and white were not a surprise. But the colors–fur dyed pink and deep red. Luscious. Oh not a bit practical but so inviting. Dreamy is the adjective that comes to mind.

Hem lengths were lower. Full soft pleated skirts paired with shorter jackets.
The longer jackets also are very popular. Just above the knee and shown with a straight knee-length dress.

Mid-calf cardigans worn with straight jeans and short strong looking booties fill the streets.

One if my favorite trends is the sheath dress. As I always say, this dress is all about the shoes.
If it’s a fuller dress some sort of heel is a requirement.

As we dined here in this historic city, I was reminded of the ease of European women.
Dark skits and scarves thrown easily over simple blouses.

Black, of course, dominates big city life. But here the black is splashed with bold print scarves and bright cross-body bags.

We are off now to the coast. I will let you know how the women are dressing there.

Oh, one last thought.
Fashion is not life.
It’s just the iceing on the cake of life.

Five Lessons I Learned From Market

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I spent the last week in New York City. It was my last trip as a buyer of women’s fashions. I am officially on sabbatical. As I flew home, I thought of the things that I had learned from being a buyer and a small business owner. I thought it might be fun to share them with you.

#1) trust your instincts

Know yourself, your style and believe in your decisions. Second guessing yourself… it never works. Not in life, and not in fashion.

#2) believe in the power of kindness

Early in my career the older buyers and successful retailers would caution me to be tough. Don’t let the garmentos cheat you. Be aggressive. I chose to be polite, to build relationships and to make friends. They never cheated me, and most always gave me better deals and more leeway.

#3) always arrive early

I have always hated being late. It makes me feel panicked and edgy. I developed a habit of going into the office early, enjoying the quiet time and preparing to take on the day before my team arrived.

#4) be a true team member

While I have always owned my own business, I have tried to make all my employees feel like they are a part of the team. I like to say my employees work with me, instead of for me. It matters to everyone. It makes you a team. You are just the captain.

#5) make each deal a win-win

That goes for the vendors you buy from and the clients you serve. It applies to the people you work with and the family members who sacrifice so you can succeed.

Win-win…

Now as I turn the page in my life and find new passions, I will carry the lessons learned to the next phase. Who knows what could happen next.

The Third Piece

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In my early 40s I attended a event hosted by a then famous stylist. She was in her early 60’s and very attractive. She spoke about developing a sense of style for each stage of your life. I enjoyed hearing her thoughts, but put little stock in most of what she said. Except for one thing.

Her theory on a third piece for each outfit.

She always had a third piece to her look each day. What?

When I was 40  it made no sense to me. I could pull on a t shirt and jeans and feel dressed and ready to go. Now, I cannot carry that look off as easily.

I will give you some examples that I use in my life.

I board a plane to NYC this am, I am wearing my favorite AG jeans. They are straight/skinny but not jeggings.  I  choose a white simple V-neck top and a striped scarf as my third piece. It finishes my outfit. It also hides any little flaws that may show in a white top.

For a day of shopping in the city, I chose a pale grey sheath dress, and added two long draping necklaces. They serve as my third piece.

On my way home I wear black leggings, a different white top, longer and a sweater tied around my shoulders. If I were traveling to a cooler climate, I would add a jacket over the sweater tied around my shoulders. It will now look like a scarf, but keeps my back warm and gives me a pop of color and my finishing piece.

What is the magic about the third piece? Is is a needed distraction when everything in our appearance is a little more challenging? I think it is more of a sophistication move–you are not the girls in a t shirt anymore. You are the gracious interesting looking woman.

Finding my way here has taken many years. I  don’t want to try and pretend I am someone else. I am proud of this person tucked into this great outfit.

The Power of Wow

 

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“In everyone’s life at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flames by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the spirit.”

-Albert Schweitzer (philosopher, physician, philanthropist)

I was a young 21-year-old mother of two, she was just finishing her 70th year. For the next 23 years we remained great friends.

Mrs.Stibick mentored me, counseled me and educated me. She was the flame that rekindled my spirit when everything seemed so out of control. Her influence changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of my children.

The power we have to ingnite passion or change the outcome of a person’s life is almost unspeakable. Could I today be the flame that sears goodness into another woman’s life?

I am reading a small and powerful book called WOW 2.0.  It is really a book for business and sales people, but as I read it I could not help feeling WOWed.

Wow can be a way of life. Do I get what that means? Can I live each day with conviction? Can I be the best volunteer in my favorite charity? Can I face each day’s simple task with the objective of giving it my best and getting a WOW from myself?

I know I am a sucker for a good self-help book, but this one is somehow different. It makes you ask yourself, “Is everything I’m doing producing a WOW”?

I know what one person can do to influence the world. Mrs. Stibick was that person who rekindled my spirit.

I want my life to reflect that gift I received from her, so I can be the flame in someone else’s life.

Let me hear from you. Who has been your flame?

WOW 2.0

The Happiness of Advantage

Before Happiness

10 Fall Fashion Tips

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  1. Think 1970s
  2. Fringe and carwash on bags and skirts
  3. Vests, yes, fur–real and faux
  4. Fuller leg pants/flare
  5. Earring, big and bold are back
  6. Neon is still here
  7. Shearling, especially on a oversized coat
  8. Colors: brown and pumpkin
  9. Black is back, but it never leaves
  10. Neutral colored sweaters, long and oversized

I reviewed the photos I took at the fall buying trip for Hutton and tried to remember which items I loved for fall. My number one fashion trend this fall is the vest. The options are endless. Fun colors of faux fur, with fluffy details are sure to make any girl smile.

On a recent trip to Washington DC, I visited Cusp in Georgetown. To my surprise, I found black to be a very dominant theme. Short black dresses paired with turtlenecks and hosiery with designs. There were black tops with neon piping and navy pants with fuller legs. This may be one of those seasons where everything begins to turn. Meaning it may be our last season with all skinny pants. Big bulky layering sweaters may begin to replace the fuller cashmere boxy sweater.

For me nothing can replace fine gage cashmere, or the boyfriend cashmere sweater. That classic look never seems to never get old.

Earrings are bold, brave and very big. That is something everyone can do. Don’t be afraid to slip out of your old stand by diamond studs and slip into a brilliant pair of colorful intricate earrings. It might change your life…

Fringe, it’s still here, on bags more than anything, but skirts have tamed it some with the carwash pleat. A repeat form the early 2000’s.

So how can you stay fresh and in style this fall? Pick one fashion piece, and plan three ways to wear it. Maybe it’s a long neutral sweater. Wear over an off-white outfit. Then pair with jeans and layer on scarves and a white tee shirt. It will make a plain brown dress look new or town down a dark print.

One great piece can bring your fall wardrobe to life.

Hutton

Cusp

Learning Throughout Life

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The lounge at Luma in Winter Park has a very LA feeling to it.  The leather chairs are worn just a little, inviting you to sit and sip something very pretty. I am meeting a friend about the age of my children. She has a sparkling smile and carries a silver tote bag that makes her look very cosmopolitain.

We catch up for a few moments and then, as always, this radiant young woman tells me what she is reading.

“Oh, and this podcast I love I thought you may enjoy.”

She pulls her business card form her wallet and has been generous enough with her time to write down the new self development books she is reading and a podcast with exciting life ideas.

This young mother is a executive at a small company, has a small child and a husband to take care of and finds time for read 5 books at a time.

I am amazed and a bit ashamed. The last book I read was wonderful, but not really mind developing. I have been meaning to learn how do download podcasts and listen via bluetooth in my car, but have not done that.

New, it’s all new. New words to my generation, new ideas,  quickly we can be left in the past. Shockingly quick.

Having young women as friends is such a privilege. They are like a breath of fresh air to be around.  They are reading books that my other friends are not reading, their dreams are different. Fresh.
They see the world from a different viewpoint.

As I drove home that night I asked myself, what are my dreams, what business ideas do I have. What 5 books am I reading that would spur my mind to think new thoughts? How can I keep my view of the world crisp?

I smile as I think about it. How lucky I am to have women in my life who want to sit and dream, to talk and not gossip. Women who are passionate about their families, their children and their community.

Lucky I can call them my friends.

Luma On Park

James Altucher: Expert who recommends reading 5 books at a time. “Choose Yourself”

The Life Coach School: Podcast by Brooke Castillo

Miss Mary Mack

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She quietly plays a hand game with her Aunt-to-be. Miss Mary Mack, they chant, slapping each other’s hands in rhythms. These hand-clapping games are as old as apple pie.

I remember my sisters doing similar games. I was very fond of the string games, Cats in the cradle. This framing of the hands like a heart to focus on an object you love is new to me. I find it so delightful. I understand why 10-year-old girls especially love it.

What is it about the little rituals that make childhood so special? Why did I not appreciate it more when I was a parent? Now as grandparent it all seems so precious. Jumping rope with the little poems that accompany them, playing Jacks, and playing Marco Polo in the pool. Can we ever forget saying, “Mom, get your head wet.” My grandkids say it to me and it makes we howl with laughter inside.

I have tried to secretly promise myself that if they ask me to play and I can, I will drop whatever and “play” with them.

What is it about the little rituals that make childhood so special? Why did I not appreciate them more when I was a parent? Now as grandparent it all seems so precious. Perhaps it is because I now have the time to soak it in, or because I understand how fragile life can be. Maybe understanding that the days go so quickly and you can never retrieve them.

I read a article saying that happiness is based on taking in the smallest things and loving them. Appreciating them. It is that simple. I can do that. I can learn Miss Mary Mack. I can get my head wet. Jumping rope? Well that may be…just fine.

Jamming Away

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After several weeks at the beach I have returned to regular life in Winter Park. I needed to get back to my New 58 list before I turn 59. I have a few months before that happens.

Number 19 is learning to make homemade jam. I took a brief class from Heavens to Betsy and the Winter Park Library on Jam making, so I had some ideas where to begin.

I goggled the subject of canning and jam making, watched a video and felt ready.

My friend Pam and I purchased the tools necessary. We read all about the reactive pan that should be used and non-reactive pans. Together we produce our first batch of Blueberry/Blackberry/Raspberry jam.

Another friend Bonnie supervises and chats as we cook jars and mash berried. We scoop the hot magic liquid in the jars and boil as directed. What fun. The jam is tasty and beautiful. The batch is small but successful.

So now that I am home alone, I decide to make more jam.

Solo. It has been a month or more sense the class, so I am a bit concerned. Can I remember all the tips?

I pull the tools from the pantry. I read the tips from Betsy. Yes I am ready. I turn on Pandora and begin to read the directions on the pectin Sure Jell package.

No, no music, I have to concentrate. I could kill someone with a bad batch of jam not preserved correctly.

The water is boiling the jars, the berries are being mashed. The jam jars are getting filled and yes, they are clicking when I remove them from the hot bath happened. Sealed all 12. Yippee.

I take some quick photos and send to my daughter. I send an update to Pam on my new jam. She will be proud of me. I am not exactly known as a domestic goddess.

After several hours, I toast some bread and taste the new jam. Perfect. Pretty too. I think to my self about how I will decorate the jars. I will send a jar to my sister. Oh a jar to a friend who is sick. Yes, I will blog about it. Maybe we can have a jam making party?

So I look up the link about making jam for this blog. I panic as I read the first paragraph. It talks about the non-reactive pans and how you must use it to cook berries. What? I forgot about the nonreactive pan. I used my favorite saucepan.

What if I have polluted the berries? What if it makes someone sick? I read other blogs about canning. All mention the nonreactive pan for cooking berries. Yikes. Maybe it is for the safe purification of the sauce? I can’t tell why it is required.

I call Betsy. She is the expert. Her colleague says she is traveling. I tell her my concern. She agrees, it could be dangerous. I text Betsy. I look up her website. Trying to find any answers. I move the beautiful prized jam jar into the refrigerator; just to be sure there is no spoilage.

Oh no, I can’t tell anyone what I have done. I will throw it all out and make new before I let anyone know it was a failed attempt. I begin to get used to the idea that the jam is not good.

Then the phone rings, its Betsy. I pour the details out about the wrong kind of pan. She calmly answers, it’s all fine. The ideas are to keep the flavor richer, purer. A calmer flavor.

Heavens to Betsy, My jam is fine.

 

If you are interested in making jam too, here is a link to Betsy’s website: http://www.heavenstobetsywp.com/

Also, here is a link to the Winter Park Library. They have some great classes: http://www.wppl.org/

 

Briars For Breakfast

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I wake a few minutes late.  Why did my phone alarm not go off?

My phone had been plugged in, but the breaker had switched off and it was not charging. Totally dead.

I rush from the shower and pull on the sun dress I had laid out. I can make the flight but it will be pushing it.
I hate to hurry for a plane.

The driver is ringing and buzzing the front gate. Gosh, I think to myself. Can’t he ever remember the gate code?

I pull the handle to my favorite suitcase, and the handle does not pull up.

Really? I hurry to the closet and pull the other suitcase unloading the items inside and jamming them in the new suitcase. Instead of a neatly packed bag, I now have crumpled stuffed clothing.

Grabbing my sweater, I throw a single long strand of pearls over my neck and run out as the alarm sets.

I hurry trough security, it’s all fine, I say to myself. Walking quickly I see my gate.
Flight 2016 delayed 20 minutes.

 Great, of course I say under my breath. All this rushing and the flight is late.

I walk slowly to the coffee counter. Black small coffee please.
The woman behind the counter is older, she shuffles to the machine to fix the coffee. Her foot is flowing over the side of the shoe.
I will need to make a new pot she shouts. This looks bitter, been here a bit too long.
I wait as the water pours into the dark pot.

I check the gate and look at my messages, 5% battery left.
Paying for the coffee I walk away with the the hot drink safely in my hand.  Got to find a plug to change my phone quick.
As I lip the scalding coffee, I taste strong sweet coffee, not the black I requested.
Seriously?

I walk quickly back to the counter.
Impatiently I speak, “excuse me, this is not my coffee. It is super sickly sweet. Can I please have a cup of black coffee? Plain black.”

She pours a new coffee and says calmly
“I guess you had briars for breakfast this morning, huh?”

She hands me my coffee and smiles, “I sure hope your day improves, doll.”

Oh gosh, I could poke myself in the eye.
Nothing was wrong in my life, I was not up poring coffee to travelers at 5:30 am each morning.
I didn’t not have to stand on feet that obviously need more rest and better shoes.
I had someone drive me here. I was going to see a friend for fun. I had home a guarded by a alarm system.
There she was, old, working, and trying to do a good job.

Yet I had the nerve to speak with impatience to a old woman.
Briars for breakfast is indeed what I deserved.

That saying has stuck with me for years. It seared on my brain. So when I am temped to be cross, quick to speak harshly, I picture Edna.