Kitty

Nov 292012
 
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Living a truly blessed life, I am on a chartered yacht for a birthday party in South Beach. I see this girl and people tell me we look so much alike we could be sisters.  Clearly I must meet her and talk to her. Immediately.

Introductions are made to Ms Cara Garbarino–A Chicago based photographer, owner of The Atelier.  Cara’s images have graced Town and Country, Forbes and all the top wedding publications. We click instantly.  I mention the Champagne Year and my commitment to 12 new things and her actual sister, the lovely Genessa, declares that I must have Cara take boudoir photographs of me.  Boudoir photography is Cara’s focus and expertise.  Cara is able to turn you into an icon. Her work is in such high demand, there are waiting lists to get a session.

The Germ catches wind of this conversation and immediately wants to have a calendar.  He’s serious.  I think this is going to be the best birthday gift ever.

I was scheduled to be in Chicago a few weeks later.  I changed my flight plans and take Cara up on her gracious offer to squeeze me in.  Enter stage right glam squad.  First, a makeup artist starts working magic.  Next, a hair stylist takes over and turns me into Brigitte Bardot meets playboy bunny.  Champagne provides me with the liquid courage I need to strip right down.  It is the champagne year!

I take an ok picture and usually feel comfortable in front of a camera.  That said, I am always wearing clothes and smiling. In the Atelier studio, I flip between wearing absolutely nothing to wearing sexy lingerie.  It feels like an editorial shoot with no toothy grins.  Definitely out of my comfort zone.  More champagne please. Yes, please give me a serious pour–fill it right to the top…

The shoot was nothing short of amazing.  I had an absolute blast and the final product is like nothing I have ever seen.  These pics are of me?  I can’t believe it.  The Germ LOVES his birthday calendar. I loved being Brigitte Bardot.

Here is a sample of some of the images from the calendar…

Cara is an incredibly gifted artist, outstanding artistic director and nothing short of fabulous.

Anyone going to Chicago or looking for any excuse beyond the magnificent mile to visit the Windy City needs to put a photo shoot with the Atelier on their to-do list.  It must be booked.  You can’t afford not to do it and you certainly won’t regret it. Cara’s approach, the super fun, out of the box experience and most importantly–the final product will leave you beyond satisfied. And a little breathless.

I am now officially a calendar girl.  Please call me Ms April.

With my highest of recommendations…

www.theatelierchicago.com

1500 West Augusta Boulevard  Chicago, IL 60642, United States

(773) 661-9011

 Posted by at 10:32
Nov 132012
 
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For our anniversary this year, we splashed out and treated ourselves to a bottle of Louis Roederer’s 2004 Cristal.  I was obsessed with trying Cristal, not only because of the roll it has played in hip hop culture, but mainly I wanted to see for myself what all the hype was about.  This Cat loves rap music and just how many times can one hear Jay-Z mention popping bottles of Cris without wanting to pop your own?

One of the reasons that Cristal was so influential in the rap and hip hop community is because it was considered the highest status (most expensive) champagne you could purchase.  In economic terms, it is considered to be a Veblen good–an item that is perceived as exclusive as long as the price remains high–think Rolls Royce Phantom or an Hermes Birkin bag.

In 2006, Frederic Rouzaud, the managing director of Cristal was asked how he felt about his product being accociated with the hip hop ‘bling’ community and he answered “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business”. Rouzard then said he approached the new hip hop Cristal relationship with “curiosity and serenity”. As a result of these comments, which were perceived by the hip hop community as both racist and patronizing, there was a huge down turn not only in sales, but also in references to Cristal in music.  In 2005, Cristal was the 8th most referenced product in all of Billboard music only after brands such as Mercedes and BMW.  A boycott led by Jay Z ensured that the hip hop community substituted their champagne allegiance to any other house.  Jay Z  favours Dom Perignon and Armant de Brignac.

None of Jay Z’s night clubs 40/40 carry Cristal any longer nor does Crissy find its way into his personal flutes.

 

Here are my thoughts on our bottle of 2004 Cristal:

The bottle is clear glass and comes wrapped in gold cellphone to avoid exposure to UV light.  Most champagne bottles are dark brown or green glass so cellphone is not needed.

Cristal is considered to be the first prestige cuvée and created for Alexander II of Russia.  Legend has it that there was political unrest and Alexander feared assassination.  Alexander demanded that his champagne to be served in a clear bottle so he could ensure there weren’t any bombs inside which would be too hard to detect inside the typical dark green bottle.  He also and he wanted watch the bubbles. The now iconic Cristal flat bottom clear glass bottle was born (via Flemish design).

The blend of grapes is 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay.  The champ was delicious.  It was smooth and creamy, but not with much minerality which I really missed.  I loved the silky persistent bubbles, but the absolute bottom line for me, is that the price of this bottle does not reflect the deliciousness.  The cost was 4-6X that of a non-vintage, and easily doubles many other houses vintages (like Dom or Grand Dame).  My preference would be to have more as delicious bottles than this Veblen bottle which was  definitely good, but not 4X the price good.

 

Champagne Detail #4:  Scarborough Research found that people who have attended a hip-hop concert are 77 percent more likely than the general public to buy Champagne.

 

Just a few hip hop Cristal referencing videos to get you going…

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 16:56
Nov 092012
 
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We are in Las Vegas and have signed up to indoor sky dive.

We arrive and immediately get on the scale to get weighed in. The maximum weight for women is 180 lbs and for men it is 220 lbs. After signing our waivers, we are led into a different holding room and are then shown the instructional video.

The video is making everyone in the room very nervous.  My mother, wide eyed, is starting to panic. The video footage is of real sky divers, jumping out of planes, practicing the serious moves which they have perfected in the simulator tunnel.

We are also shown a series of hand signals which become overwhelming and were never used.  The only sign used was thumbs up and not featured here.

Admittedly,  when they begin to focus on our “landing” with details of the tuck and roll technique,  my level of anxiety grows.  You literally drop from flight into the surrounding foam bumpers.

We put on our jump suits, ear plugs, googles, and helmets. My mother has opted to sit out.

Me, my father and the Germ enter the padded round room that has a monster fan underneath a metal grill.

We each take turns lying down on our bellies and then we are off.  We are flying.  I am laughing and smiling the entire time.

I love this picture–I am in a pilates full swan.

Who doesn’t love a flying Germ?

My father loved getting high.

I can’t describe how much fun we had.  One of the most fun things I have ever done.

This new thing comes with my highest of recommendations.  if you are in Vegas, just a short drive to the end of the strip (past Wynn and Encore) and there you are.

Take flight!

 Posted by at 17:34
Nov 082012
 
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Growing up, I was always taught that unless you are using a second piece of cutlery (always a knife for me) your left hand should be placed gently in your lap.  Ahh, the British trickle down remnants of growing up in the Commonwealth… But as soon as I lived abroad, I realized that other Western cultures do not subscribe to this style.  Most European cultures will have both hands visible at all times.  Take note the next time you have the opportunity.  Who is right?  Both are.

Since a good portion of my life is spent straddling both sides of the Atlantic, I now lean into the Euro way of hand placement at a table.  Obviously no elbows.

 Posted by at 17:22
Oct 302012
 
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I am in Montreal for my oldest friend, Colette Campbell-Moscrop’s wedding.  We grew up spending every holiday together.  We are family. Colette is marrying Subibe.  Colette is a white toast (like me), has a British father and a French mother.  Subibe is Indian and they are having a traditional Indian wedding.  FUN!  My very first Indian wedding!

It is just so happens that I have a sari.  While travelling through India, the Germ was adamant about buying me one. I didn’t want a sari, but he insisted.   When I received the invitation to Colette’s wedding, I was very happy that he did.

The Germ is concerned about the end result and really wants me to bring a back up outfit.  I insist that even if it looks like a fancy toga, I am wearing it.

We leave our hotel and arrive at Dr King’s house at exactly 4:20, the day of the wedding.  I met Dr King at grad school.  She is a kindred spirit and an official bestie.

Since it is the champagne year and since I was tackling another new experience, there was no question that we needed some serious champs.  Because Dr King is a fellow champagne hound and the germ and I can hold our own, it seemed only fitting that we start the sari tying party with a magnum of veuve.  What else?

Armed with a youtube video from goodIndiangirl.com, we had some basic instructions on how to tie this monster piece of fabric.  To get the party started, we popped our magnum of champagne paired it with some delicious lobster rolls.

Everything was so delicious and we were having so much fun that we lost track of time. The Germ, always the voice of reason, put an end to our partying ways and insisted we get started on tying the sari.

The adventure begins.

There is a lot more fabric than we expected.

I didn’t purchase the petticoat that is called for underneath the sari, but I put together a make shift tunic with a tank and slip to ensure the waist band would secure the folder fabric.

We knew this new thing had to be captured on video.  Dr King lost the job of chief sari wrapper and the Germ took over.

After a few attempts, we were good to go.  So pleased.

At the wedding, a lovely older Indian woman approached me, asked to help me and retied the entire thing.  She was shocked I was not wearing a petticoat, but impressed with our effort.

All said, I absolutely loved wearing a sari.  The fabric was gorgeous, it was surprisingly comfortable and I felt quite glamorous.

We also had an amazing time at such a fun, festive, joyful wedding.

Thanks Dr King!  Thanks Colette!

 

 

 Posted by at 13:13