Irina’s skates

Irina's skates

Irina’s skates

Irina grew up in The Soviet Union; she was a speed skater. Not just any speed skater – Irina was a champion for the USSR and participated in the Junior World Speed Skating Championship in Seoul, Korea. Irina skated for ten years, from the ages of 11-21. It was the privileged life of a Russian athlete, and one that offered income and travel for precious few during the Soviet regime. By the time Irina was fourteen, she was making money; when she was fifteen she left the country for the first time, and traveled to Northern Italy to skate. She was based near Milano, and the experience left her breathless and excited for adventure. Irina says that she “loved it so much,” that in that moment she knew she would eventually leave Russia, where “we didn’t really live, we merely existed.” Sadly, when Irina was nineteen, she suffered a very serious injury to her leg and muscles, and although she tried, she could no longer skate to her top-level performance and eventually quit because “I can’t be bad at something.”

Had that not happened, Irina feels certain that she would have continued skating professionally, and who knows where her life would have led? But it did happen and the course of her life led her to different adventures and an eventual move to The United States, making her the survivor that she is today. But she remained focused and fearless and like any athlete, kept her eyes on her goals – no matter what.

More to come from Irina

A match made in heaven …

P1030022Today, December 1st, marks the first day of a limited partnership between Target and Neiman Marcus. Items for sale are a selection of holiday-inspired gifts. Now I have been down this road with Target before: first, a year ago when the giant retail savings store partnered with Missoni and later, with Jason Wu. Although I did purchase items (I have some wonderful treats from the Missoni-for-Target pairing, including rain boots and shoes, and I also have a gray, lace tee from Jason Wu), both experiences took their toll and left me frustrated and disillusioned. The lines were long, the shoppers pushy, and the shelves for the most part, were empty. On-line shopping was not much more satisfying as items ran out quickly. This time, however, was different. I arrived in-store late morning to find the shelves still well-stocked and most items readily available on-line.

Why do I bother and why might you want to try it, too? Because I may never have the chance to afford some of these beautiful things any other way. I now own a Judith Leiber compact mirror with real, pink crystal stones. Hungarian-American born designer Judith Leiber is the quintessential artist; her luxury handbags are works of art. But they are also supremely expensive: this is my chance to have one of her jeweled pieces of my own! And I also bought a journal set from Carolina Herrera, because now I know her and I feel connected! I will be writing my blog notes in my Carolina Herrera journals. How wonderful is that?

Perhaps the third time is the charm. Perhaps Target is getting it right. I say, give it a try. Give something lovely and treasured to someone or better yet, save the gift for yourself.

What do you think?

Our mothers’ daughters …

Lisa with her mother’s sweaters, circa 1950s

This Thanksgiving I will be thinking of my mother, Claire, and all the wonderful things that she has passed on to me, preserving our love.

This story starts with a sweater. Recently, when I was spending time with my friend Lisa, I happened to be wearing the gray sweater that my mother had given me. Lisa asked me about it. It’s such a favorite that I was happy to tell its story. My mother was partial to this beloved sweater. Simple and classic, it has a self-made tie that wraps around the neck – truly unique. My mother had worn it and loved it for years, then passed it to me. This gray sweater has had a long life.

Our conversation reminded Lisa that she had a few sweaters that her mother had passed down to her. Amazing, because these particular sweaters were originally worn by her mother, Jean, 55 years ago when she was in her early 20’s. We pulled them out and gazed at them with great interest; they looked like the clothes we have seen in the films of the 1950s! Lisa said that she had worn them all at one time or another and that her daughter, Sarah, had also worn the sweater with the pink and green flowers when she was a sophomore in high school.

Intrigued, I asked Lisa if I could speak with her mother about the sweaters. Jean’s thoughts: “I had a little girl. I would have loved to pass anything to my little girl … It’s endearing. You want your daughters to have everything you had. I think most mothers think this way.” I, too, am my mother’s only daughter and I know that she feels the very same. Jean also told me that she gave Lisa two dolls that were given to her as a child when she was just five or six. She now has two granddaughters to pass these dolls to, and just like the dolls themselves, one of her granddaughters is blond – the other, brunette. I asked Jean if she played with her dolls when she was young. No, she wasn’t a doll person, but her mother loved the dolls and made all of their clothes.

Lisa has worn her sweaters as I have worn mine. We agree that they are dear to us. In a time when so many things are disposable, these loving keepsakes are forever.

What do you think?

Jean’s childhood dolls, passed down to Lisa and her two granddaughters

Sarah’s necklace

Sarah’s necklace

Sarah is a freshman at a small, liberal arts college. While there she made a fashion discovery

“I purchased this necklace from a local woman from Allentown, PA, who brought her unique jewelry to campus to sell to the students. Each piece was individual and hand crafted. I had never seen a necklace quite like this before and I felt compelled to buy it. I walked passed her table several times, trying to resist while aware of my college budget. But I couldn’t resist. The necklace was calling me. The artist told me that the face that she had imprinted on this necklace was from a Native American tribe originally located in the area. It is said to protect the person wearing it. I decided that I had to buy it, and the necklace turned out to be affordable; only twelve dollars for this one-of-a-kind piece. I was excited about my purchase and never expected to come across such a rare and intriguing piece of jewelry.”

~ Sarah

I hope it protects you, Sarah, this year and always. xoxo Melissa

Betsy’s cap

“I ran into to local 99-cents shop looking for one thing, and came away with this cap for $1.29. It is the best $1.29 I have spent in a considerable time. I wore it recently in Maine, and everyone noticed it and asked me about it. I think I could sell it for a lot more than I bought it! But I won’t.

I like it because it carries the Latin flavor. I think that the image on the cap is Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Latin Virgin Mary). She is always shown in radiant light. My mom and my aunt would often pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was very personal for them to have a Latin Virgin Mary.”

~ Betsy

Betsy holding her $1.29 cap, Our Lady of Guadalupe

Channeling Chanel

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel with her pearls

Do you own a pair of pearls? Pull them out now and wear them! As young girls we may have watched our mothers wear pearls only for special occasions, but today pearls can be worn any time, any place. Take these keepsakes out of your drawers and bring your past into your present. Live your life with style. Coco Chanel would be proud.

What do you think?



Mihoko’s gift to me

My mother’s dear friend, Mihoko, passed away recently. Although I did not see her often, I knew her for most of my life and she was dear to me. A few years ago, Mihoko had been visiting her daughter in Japan and came back with a gift for me – two blue and white porcelain bracelets with Japanese designs. I was so touched that she thought of me. I quietly tucked away the bracelets, always meaning to wear them, but preferring to admire them from a distance.

When I saw them today, I smiled, thinking of Mihoko. They were too lovely to put aside, and I wore them with a blue and white striped shirt. Not only were they a perfect match, but they were so much more; they were my memories of Mihoko. Enjoy your keepsakes and allow them to bathe you in the love, perhaps of a lost friend, and wear your treasures now. Don’t put it off for another time.

What do you think?