Friends La Reine & Lady Lotus shopping & drinking Champagne with me in Berlin
Dear Diva Readers,
My friend “La Reine”, author of She’s Shopping Now (and social media guru of Hire Catherine) just sent me a note saying, “This article on RueLaLa reminds me so much of our girls trip in NYC a few years ago. Remember the cocktail ring you bought at the Green Market?”
Remember the ring?? It’s my Favorite! I paid a mere $12 dollars for the ring and didn’t even have the heart to negotiate as I liked the piece so much. Years later I still get compliments on the stunning bauble and when I confess what I paid (I can’t help myself but to share the news that I got such a good deal) people gasp, “NO!! I would have thought that you paid a few extra zero’s than that!”
Costume cocktail rings can be shockingly good values when picked up at flea markets – and they are usually available in abundance.
Following La Reine’s lead I popped over to RueLaLa to read about the Cocktail Rings Storied Past and loved these tips so much I had to share a few details:
The cocktail ring actually originated in the 1920’s during Prohibition. Flapper Girls would wear oversized rings on the hand with which they held their illegal cocktails!
Later on during the women’s equality movement, the cocktail ring defined the modern-day “independent woman”. Wearing a ring you bought yourself (instead of a ring purchased by a man) was a sign of autonomy! (note to my husband, I won’t feel you are hampering my rights if you want to buy me a ring.)
By the 1950’s the cocktail ring was no longer controversial… merely chic! Ideal for playing dress up and wearing to the now-more-mainstream cocktail parties!
Today – the Cocktail Ring is the PERFECT SOUVENIR to buy at the flea markets when you’re traveling. It’s small, easily packable, and always a conversation starter, not to mention inexpensive and readily available at almost any flea market.
Flea Market Shopping for Cocktail Rings
Where I bought mine?
Green Flea Market NYC
A great location on the Upper West Side. Columbus Avenue between W. 76 & 77 Streets
When to Go?
Sundays 10 AM to 5:30 PM (Nov.-Mar.) and 10 AM to 6 PM (Apr.-Oct.)
All this talk of cocktails has me thirsty… Cocktail anyone?
The Antiques Diva®
Today’s Guest Blog comes to you from my dear friend whom I call La Reine – she’s the fab bloggess of She’s Shopping Now and from time to time she graces Antiques Diva readers with royal presence! Without further adieu, let me present to you her royal highness – La Reine with today’s Guest Blog.
Photo Taken on a Cross Country Drive in the USA last winter–
The Antiques Diva & La Reine of She’s Shopping Now Blog
GUEST BLOG DIY Diva Magazine Rack!
Dear Diva Readers,
There are many good reasons why The Antiques Diva and I are friends:
- we met as expat spouses living in Paris with time on our hands, no children, and husbands who worked long hours
- we share a passion for travel, antiques, shopping, food, collecting and entertaining
- we tend to be a little quirky at times: friends and family often smile, incline their heads, and decline to comment on our ideas and adventures
- sometimes our creative ideas challenge our capabilities…and our time constraints
Recently The Antiques Diva® shared with us her latest DIY project, a footstool fashioned from a moneybag she’d purchased 13 years earlier, and carried with her through 4 moves to 4 countries: voila!
The first time The Antiques Diva and I traveled together, we visited Île de Ré a charming island off the western coast of France (near Cognac).
La Reine, The Tampa Girl and The Antiques Diva (all looking incredibly young!)
Why were we there? To track down the island’s famous sel gris (grey salt) and fleur de sel (finishing salt), and sample some of the incredible salted caramel ice cream (caramel à la fleur de sel)! On our visit we also discovered the Ré wines, and a lovely salted caramel liquor.
Along with the bags and bags of salt, a fabulous chandelier I found at Barbotine (and hauled home on the train!) I also carried home a 3-pack of wine from Vignerons de l’Île de Ré so that my husband, The Big Guy, could appreciate a taste of Ré (the ice cream would have melted!) And over 8 years, 3 countries, and 6 moves (Paris to Copenhagen to Hoboken to St Louis to Chicago to New York to SoFlo!) the empty box has traveled with me, just waiting…
TBG was out of town for a few days, and I was resolved to flip my way through a stack of magazines that was so tall it kept sliding off the coffee table. When we repatriated I was so overwhelmed by how cheap it was to buy US magazines: I could get a year’s subscription for $10, when I’d been used to paying €10 for a single issue on the Champs Elysee : I over-subscribed. Unsettled since our recent move to SoFlo, most of our furnishings were still in storage, including our magazine racks. But: I knew right where the wine box was, and I’d planned for years to turn it into a magazine rack. So inspired by The Antiques Diva® recent DIY Diva blog post, I got to work:
I took the side off the box because I wanted to preserve the so-charming rope handle. Et voila: a mere 30 minutes late, a tres chic and tres unique magazine rack.
Now every time I grab a magazine, I’m reminded of our visit to Ré and wonderful friends and food and adventures. Je mes souviens…
à la prochaine,
Dear Diva Readers,
Facebook recently I was smitten with her living room makeover and instantly queried, “Where did you get that rug? – It’s the essence of modern chic!” Gina’s reply had me stunned – “Would you believe, dear Diva” she wrote, “I bought it at JC Penney!”hen my friend Gina posted pics of her living room on
I remember the JC Penney Catalog from my childhood – lying on the floor in front of the TV with their giant Christmas catalog open, flipping to the toy section. I remember my mom buying undergarments there and that, spanning my entire childhood, my winter pajamas were from JCP. When I got my first job right out of university and needed a professional coat, I bought a long, black wool coat for $99 at JCP. I’ve even had my eyebrows done in the JC Penney’s hair salon … but JCP does home décor?? I never knew… and from the looks of that carpet I’ve been seriously missing out! It’s time for me to rethink JCP!
This Cindy Crawford lattice carpet has my name all over it!
And priced on sale between $39 and $379, depending upon size, it doesn’t break the bank!
Though in general I prefer to go with real fur, I was still smitten with this Faux Fox Tail pillow for only $16.99.
Another Diva-Find – this pair of Nail Head trimmed Storage Trunks in a gorgeous oyster color on Sale for $189!
It’s definitely time to rethink JCPenney!
So it’s no surprise that many of my antiques are blue. The white shelves surrounding my fireplace are carefully arranged with my blue travel treasures:
- blue and white tulip vase from Delft, Holland
- cobalt blue vase studded with silver I found in a souk in Marrakesh
- petite blue oil painting of Paris
- blue and cream Dutch KLM house found in an antiques shop in Amsterdam
- blue swirl glass bowl from Kosta Boda I found at their outlet store in Sweden
- pale blue Limoges oyster plate I found in Savannah
- dark blue fleur de lys on white platter from Madrid
- blue and white taper candles from France
- cobalt blue and white cake plate from Royal Copenhagen I found in Copenhagen
Are you seeing a pattern? So on a recent visit to The Antiques Diva in Berlin, I had a mission: a piece of my favorite German Blue Onion Zwiebelmuster pottery. I have pieces in both the German Meissen pattern and the Czech pattern, I’m all inclusive!
And not only did I want Zwiebelmuster, I wanted antique. And more specifically, I wanted a lidless Zwiebelmuster crock to put on my stove and hold cooking utensils. The Antiques Diva was on the case! Our first stop (after Starbucks for my daily addiction of a Tall Skim Chai Latte, extra hot bitte) was the Berliner Antik und Flohmarkt. And as we wandered the stalls, the Diva introduced me to a vendor specializing in blue & white. It was love at first site. And as I browsed the crowded shop, I found my newest treasure:
If you look at the two crocks I’m holding, you can see they both say the word cocoa in German: Cacao. and Kakao. As I had only seen cocoa spelled with a “k” auf Deutsch, we were treated to a little history of German grammar lesson by the proprietor. Herr explained, “In the early 1900s, the German government implemented the Deutsch Rightig Sprechen und Schreiben. These new grammar laws standardized the spelling, pronunciation and punctuation of the German language throughout the country. As a result,Cacao. became Kakao.”
If you, too, love the Blue Onion pattern, you may be interested to know:
- it’s not an onion at all, in fact it’s a pomegranate!
- this pattern was copied by Meissen from Asian pottery in the mid-18th century, and soon copied by other pottery manufacturers, most famously Czech factories, who produced a much more affordable version
- Meissen Zwiebelmuster is treasured by traditional German housewives. In fact, when I travel Germany visiting my many family members, I’m always served kuchen und kaffee on their treasured Zwiebelmuster
- Blue Onion is readily available in the US online at ebay or Replacements
La Reine’s Shopping Tip:
You can find your own blue “Treasures” by The Antiques Diva by shopping her new online brocante. Recent blue treasures include vintage Delft pottery, tiles, and vases.
PS. Enjoyed today’s post? You can read more a La Reine’s great blogs at She’s Shopping Now!
For today’s diva post, I’m sending you chez elle to read her post on Pen Appeal!
And Ladies, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, take note! An antique or vintage fountain pen (or pen accessories) makes a great “mantique” present for your significant other!
Until next time, happy shopping!
The Antiques Diva™
She’s Shopping Now is written by a woman just like you – she’s a wife, a mom, a sister, an aunt, a daughter and a BFF…which means she has lots of stuff to buy which means she’s always shopping for gifts, groceries, clothes, furniture, book and STUFF in general. It just so happens my friend La Reine moves more than any person I know – Chicago, New York, Paris, Miami. She even did time in Syracuse and St. Louis and has moved 6 times in the last 5 years which means she has to do creative shopping since she’s often shopping for people who live thousands of miles away from where she is. Plus, she travels a lot, so her passport and wheelie are always ready to go, and when she travels, she shops! And while La Reine does do her fair share of shopping for herself, she is a GREAT gift giver (I’m lucky to say I’m often on the receiving end!) and she’ll give you more shopping ideas than you ever knew possible!
Some sinister marketing geek installed cookies on La Reine’s pc to track what she purchases online but no cookies can track all La Reine’s purchase when she walks the streets, trolls the internet, skims the magazines and newspapers, watches commercials and checks out the billboards. That is except you! You, dear Diva Readers, can watch La Reine’s every purchase in her new private shopping blog — She’s Shopping Now!
The Antiques Diva™
(seen right with La Reine book-ending friends The English Rose & Lady Lotus while shopping Worth Avenue in Palm Beach!)
When I moved to Paris in late 1997, starting nearly a decade living overseas, my husband “The Big Guy” and I brought only our clothes and photos and books and music and some treasured personal items; TBG’s employers’ corporate policy was no furniture or big items could be moved, we’d buy what we needed once we arrived. So all our belongings from a huge 4 bedroom suburban home and 22 years of marriage, children, careers, pets and life had to be sorted, catalogued, and stored. And the things we were selecting to travel with us had to be carefully selected and itemized and packaged for air shipment…meaning weight counts!
This vintage cigarette case is the style La Reine was looking for!
For 7 years living in Paris I scrounged the brocantes, puces, vide greniers, salons and boutiques antiquare, but never found the perfect chic little porte-cigarette: too expensive, too large, too small, too fussy, too plain; always close, but never just right. Then we moved to Copenhagen, another transfer with TBG’s job, and voila, I finally found what I was looking for – of course as I was no longer living in Paris so I was no longer looking for it!
Notice how this case is spring-loaded, to hold its contents inside.
TBG and I spent a week’s vacance in Skagen, a charming fishing village known for the many artists who made their homes here especially during the summer months, enjoying the picturesque towns, the hiking and biking, the gorgeous beaches, and water water water everywhere.
As we were driving into Skagen, TBG and I had already stopped and visited several Nordic antiques shops and purchased a set of silver and a set of crystal drink coolers/stirrers. These coolers are stored in the freezer, and when a drink is served, use these stirrers in the glass to keep the drink cold…and to make your drink look tres chic!
Drink Stirrers courtesy of Flicker
My cigarette case has two elastic straps inside, which for everyday use perfectly holds my paper money on one side (I’ve since returned to the United States, dividing my time between Florida, NYC and Chicago), and my credit card, driver’s license, AMC Movie Card, NY Botanical Garden card, Metropolitan Museum card, a few business cards and my Costco card on the other.
If you get a special case like this, you can even keep track of your purchases throughout the day!
Guest Blog – Souvenirs de la Reine!
Dear Diva Readers,
The Antiques Diva, Lady Lotus, The Tampa Gal, English Rose and I, la Reine, have shared many treasured holidays together and have accumulated an abundant supply of souvenirs. But our most treasured souvenirs are those we look at daily, cost us almost nothing, and make us pause and smile, and remember. As you’ve learned in our Antiques Diva’s blog posts, South Florida is one of our regular reunion destinations, enjoying the sun, sand, seashells, and friendship renewal.
A daily activity is gathering up seashells to admire and cart home. But what to do with these shells once they are sorted, cleaned and carefully carried to our homes in the 4 corners?
La Reine is back with another exciting Guest Blog for Antiques Diva Readers!!
In early March, the sun peeked out of the NYC clouds, the temperatures skyrocketed to nearly 60, and The Big Guy and I decided the open roads beckoned and it was time for a day trip. Our former home in nearby Litchfield County, CT, is only about 90 miles northeast of our home in NYC, in the northwest corner of Connecticut, and since it had been nearly 15 years since we’d returned, we decided to take a little walk down memory lane combined with a little antiquing, lunching and shopping.
Litchfield County is known for its rolling hills, picturesque Revolutionary-era villages, prep schools, horse farms, and of course, antiquing. For 3 years we lived halfway between Litchfield and Woodbury, two villages known for their shopping and antiquing. We drove up I-95, crossed over to I-84, and found our way to route 6, where we slowly cruised through the countryside and enjoyed the melting snow and barren trees, watching winter slowly dissipate. After the obligatory stop in front of our former Victorian-style home, we took photos to text to our kids, pointing out how few changes the present owners had made.
Then onto Litchfield, where we had spent many weekend afternoons browsing, shopping and lunching, often after an afternoon cross-country skiing in the nearby White Memorial Park. As we were only there for the day, we decided to limit our Litchfield excursion to West Street on The Green, the “main drag” or town center of this charming town. Our first stop was Les Plaisirs de la Maison, a French-Country antiques store which conveniently had a parking spot directly in front. While I was investigating the dishware and tabletop accessories, TBG was checking the framed maps of France, looking for maps that included our favorite holiday spot, Corsica (often missing from old French maps as it went back and forth between France and Italy). Despite the 20% off all inventory promotions in effect, we didn’t find anything we desperately needed or wanted, although if I go back, a magnifying lens in the shape of a fleur-de-lys was intriguing. However, we enjoyed watching another couple trying to decide if a 6 foot by 3 foot table with 6 leaves was big enough for their entertaining needs: we have a small 2 bed/2 bath on the Upper West Side, where I’m not sure this table would make it in the elevator: I know it wouldn’t fit in my dining room!
Then, it was well past noon and our Starbucks cups were long empty, so on the advice of several shoppers, we strolled to the corner and tried a recently opened restaurant, @the corner. We were not disappointed. As usual, TBG tested the burger, and I ordered the Thai chicken wrap, and my only regret was that I hadn’t ordered the other half to take with: it was far too large to eat in one setting, but I was afraid of it sitting in the car all afternoon.
After a hot and foamy cappuccino, we wandered into Kitchenworks and Gourmet Gifts, which I did not remember from previous visits. The owners assured me it’s been in Litchfield for 30 years, but had recently relocated from around the corner. After purchasing a few kitchen necessities (including a microwave egg cooker, which we have used quite successfully several times), I continued on to Workshop Inc, where I scored some hugely discounted Christmas napkin rings (for my gift drawer!) and a new summer top, sadly full-price. TBG had spotted a long-ago favorite, R. Derwin Clothiers. This men’s store is clearly for those with English-country aspirations: Hunter boots, Scottish cashmere, Italian suiting, TBG was happy happy! After wrapping up a silk pocket square and brightly knit cashmere socks, I reluctantly dragged TBG along to our next stop, and the next, and the next. Soon, TBG was stocking up on teas at Flora & Fauna; the Harney and Sons Paris blend is delicious, and appropriately housed in a white and blue tin!
Before we knew it, the sun was lowering in the sky and we hadn’t even been to Woodbury! So back down rte 6, past White Flower Farm (unfortunately closed for the season, but there will be a Part Deux: we will be back in the spring!) Shortly we were stopping at Mill House Antiques, on Main Street in Woodbury, one of my long-time favorite antiquing wonder-amas. The grounds and buildings alone are worth the visit: the 17th century shop is situated on the Nonnewaug River, with a grist mill out back, 7 out buildings, and luscious gardens, all carefully restored.
While The Big Guy entered into a long conversation on the limited edition Lionel train on display (the owner hopes to open a train store on one of the out-properties soon), I wandered the 4 buildings filled to the brim with tables, chairs, chandeliers, clocks, end tables, paintings, pottery and glassware: all gorgeous, all quality, all pricey. My favorite discovery was the “Rolodex Table”: a round English landowner’s drum table, with the perimeter constructed of drawers, one for each renter, so the landowner could keep his accounts straight. Too clever! Keep your eyes open at this well-known antiques haven: you never know who you might see here!
C’est triste, we had reached Saturday 5pm closing times for the shops, and we sadly drove past many more antiques and specialty shops in
Woodbury, all along rte 6. However, we know we’ll be back when White Flower Farm gets their tomatoes and herb plants in stock, this time we’ll leave a little earlier, and lunch a little quicker!
A la prochaine,
Another Exciting Guest Blog From La Reine!
Since there was not a Notre Dame home game this weekend, my husband The Big Guy (TBG) and I found ourselves at home in New York City instead of jetting off to our alma mater to fill our season ticket holder seats! This meant we had a whole free Sunday to occupy. My husband decided it was a good time to see and photograph the Northeast’s colorful Fall foliage. To see the best foliage in our tri-state area, The Weather Channel was recommending a trip to the Hudson Valley.
TBG asked me to arrange a scenic car trip for Sunday up the Hudson Valley…not more than 2 hours driving time from NYC. SCORE! The NY Times had recently run an article on spending an antiques weekend in the Hudson Valley. Naturally, as every good “antiquing diva” does, I had saved this article which meant we had a great scenic route to follow north. And then we had a different scenic route to follow back to NYC. And even better, I was loaded with shopping recommendations along the way.
We left NYC early after a Starbucks stop, and crossed the Hudson on the George Washington Bridge and went north along the gorgeous Palisades Parkway until we reached route 9W North. From there we took this local road, filled with scenery, restaurants and shops, and shockingly little traffic. After several impromptu pullovers for perfect scenic photo ops, we drove slowly through West Point, the US Military School, to enjoy the beautiful campus. Then we continued north through Hyde Park, home of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and passed many antique stores and markets (not a very pretty town). Here we also drove past the FDR Home and Library, and the Vanderbilt home… we decided next time we’d spend more time in Hyde Park and enjoy both the antiquing and the cultural stops, but since we had another 60 miles to cover, we kept going.
We continued slowly up 9W until we came to Rhinebeck and Asher House Antiques. My heart started beating faster: this is my kind of store – loaded with French and English antiques, big and small, expensive and very affordable! As I always do, I started picking out things I already own, to get a sense of pricing for what I purchased while living in Europe, and what I’d have to pay to buy them in the US… thankfully I made good purchases while living in Europe! In the end we only purchased a few small items, an aged French terra cotta flower pot being my favorite. But, after we paid and were heading out, the owner said: “It’s almost 11:00, the antiques fair is opening”.
“Antiques Fair? What Antiques Fair?” I asked!
The Rhinebeck Antiques Fair was held October 11th and 12th 2008 at the Duchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck…less than a mile up the road! Several other shoppers at Asher were on their way… they were just waiting until 11am for the Fair to open.
TBG and I were famished. Deciding to bypass the food court at the Fair, we opted instead to brunch at Calico, a cute little restaurant and patisserie located next door to Asher House. Since we were in CIA territory, we were anticipating many of the local restaurants would have CIA graduate chefs, and we were very pleased with Calico. I had smoked salmon and toast points with crème fraiche, onion and capers, TBG enjoyed a steak panini. Prior to being served we were treated with hot homemade yeast rolls. Throughout our meal we watched the locals practically buying out the pastry counter: we were too late to score the very popular chocolate chunk cookies, but we did buy a few oatmeal-with-raisin cookies for the car. The other pastries were tempting…but looked too sticky for a car ride.
Before we made it back to the car, we took a little walk around Rhinebeck: it’s a charming downtown filled with antiques shops, restaurants and boutiques. I stopped in Cesare + Lili, a women’s boutique, and now own a beautiful new cream sweater cape…I was chilled since it was much colder up north than in NYC! TBG found a pair of khakis on sale… a very pretty, walkable little downtown, we’ll be back!
With the back of our SUV rapidly filling up with bags, and not even being halfway along our route, we headed to the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair. Held entirely indoors, the Fair has a good mix of antiques and vintage, everything from furniture to Christmas ornaments to books to jewelry to dishware, leaning towards a country motif, but with plenty of goodies that even the most urban shopper would enjoy…in short, an antiquer’s heaven. And there were plenty of “mantiques” to distract TBG: he found a booth specializing in antique sports equipment, so found a sympathetic ear to discuss the tragic ND v UNC game the day before. We’re on the mailing list for this fair: the next date is sometime in the Spring, probably May. Check the website. That will be the perfect excuse to return to beautiful downtown Rhinebeck! One last stop: the food court. We had 2 very good, but expensive, cappuccinos to go!
Back in the car, continuing up 9W towards Hudson, another 60 miles north. Along the way, a few more Kodak moments and stops at a few garden centers to buy our fall gourds, pumpkins and mums. Finally, we reached Hudson. This main street is filled with antique and vintage stores and restaurants, but this is not a pretty town. It looks like it was a pretty town, and it could again be a pretty town, but the local Chamber of Commerce needs to put some thought and money into making Hudson a destination spot. We ended up buying only a book (Pierre Deux’s French Country: A Style and Source Book, 1984) at Hudson City Books on Warren, the main thoroughfare. We were both disappointed…I doubt we would make Hudson our destination in the future, although if we were in the neighborhood, we’d happily spend some time visiting the shops again.
Back in the car to NYC, this time taking the Taconic Parkway, again very scenic and shockingly car-free. In all, this perfect day of beautiful scenery, leisurely antique browsing, good food, and fabulous company took 11 hours, covering 230 miles. What a pleasant way to spend a gorgeous Sunday!