Girl’s Night Out – Flower Power Edition

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Tuesday night I attended an Alice’s Table party at Cyrano’s Cafe. In case you aren’t familiar (because I wasn’t), Alice’s Table was started in 2016 in Boston, but has since spread to over 25 cities nationwide. The company’s goal is to get women together for a creative, relaxing night out centered around do-it-yourself flower arrangements. Participants sign up online (here is a list of upcoming events in St. Louis and here is the list nationwide) and then their local Alice’s Table “hostess” takes care of the rest.

The particular event I went to was complete with wine, appetizers, dessert and a treat bag.  Plus, everyone comes home with their own hand made bouquet ( … I couldn’t help thinking that this is such a better idea than those painting parties with the same M.O.  Flowers I’ll put on my nightstand, but I don’t need a painting that I made myself hanging over the mantle … Just sayin’).

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At Tuesday’s event in Webster Groves, Missouri, Meredith Johns, the St. Louis area’s only Alice’s Table “hostess”,  led ten ladies in a step-by-step tutorial to create a fool-proof flower arrangement. Everyone sat down to a work station stocked with clippers, an apron, a watering can and de-leafer.  Then Johns gave tips and tricks as she demonstrated the process to creating a bouquet. Yes she was teaching us, but it wasn’t like we were sitting down listening to a college lecture. Most of the time was spent chatting and getting to know the other women, while simultaneously working on arranging our flowers. And even though Johns had given us a “recipe” for our bouquet (pictured below) , after the almost two hour session was done and bouquets assembled, no two were alike.

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The Colors of Cuba

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A local guide in Havana summed up Cuba perfectly, “Enjoy my country,” he said, “but don’t try to understand it.”  The socialism. The poverty. The feeling that time has stood still on this large island in the Caribbean for the better part of the last century.

Although only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, Cuba could not feel further away from Western civilization. Internet and cell signals are scarce, stores are few and far between, and the infrastructure seems in a placid state of disrepair.  Bundle this with the upbeat tone of the Cuban people (there are over 11 million of them) and the bright, colorful backdrop created by the country’s neoclassical and Spanish colonial architecture, and you’ve  got quite the dichotomy.

One second you’re taking pictures of a beautifully ornate and freshly painted facade, and the next instant you’re tripping over rubble from a decrepit building that looks condemned, yet has laundry hanging out on the third floor balcony. There are pristine, vintage automobiles everywhere (everywhere!) adding to the air of surrealism. And while we were visiting the last week in June, it also happened to be “flame tree” season, where those vibrant, orange blossomed trees you see in the photos below were in bloom and littering the landscape. It felt like I was walking thru a Travel and Leisure spread or maybe vacationing on an MGM movie set — picture perfect.

I recommend you check out this wonderful city for yourself, but until then, here are some photos from our recent visit to wet your appetite …

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Artist Crush – David Parise

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David Parise was inspired by the vintage Barbie clothes of the 60’s that he came across in a Miami Beach store almost a decade ago. The detail and quality of the clothes adorning those plastic limbs really struck a chord in the ex- NYC garment industry worker. He took that inspiration, added his love of photography and threw in the equally vintage backdrop of Miami’s South Beach to create humorous, whimsical, sometimes raunchy photos of vintage barbies. In his photographs, Barbie’s might be posed on the beach, in front of your favorite South Florida hot spot, lounging in their perfectly mid-century living room or maybe picnicing over the Grand Canyon.

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Artist Spotlight – Lauren Marx

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Marx at work in her Cherokee Street studio.

Lauren Marx grew up wanting to be a zoologist. When she realized that profession also came with a lot of biology labs and science classes, admittedly not her strong suit, she had to regroup. Which is how she ended up with a B.F.A. from Webster University. This fine arts background, coupled with her love of animals, are partially responsible for her successful career as an artist, one who specializes in self-described “gory animal prettiness” to be exact.

The other part responsible for this burgeoning art career? Her family. For one, Marx comes from a long line of artists, a great-grandfather who was a painter, a grandfather who was a printmaker, a mother who was an artist. Said grandfather not only gave Marx the artistic gene, he also influenced Marx’s subject matter – whether he knew it or not- because his dining room was adorned in the work of John James Audubon. Marx would stare at these prints as a child and file them away for future use.

Audubon, in case you aren’t familiar, was an American naturalist and painter and the first person to create an illustrated natural history book, specifically known for it’s detailed illustrations of birds in their natural habitat. This gained him fame and notoriety in the late 19th century and is why his is the name behind the Audubon Society, an organization dedicated to wildlife conservation that was incorporated in 1905.

Audubon’s work still plays a role in Marx’s art. Some vintage Audubon prints that she found in an antique store on Cherokee Street are stacked neatly on her desk, serving as inspiration. Evidence of his style is apparent in the composition, details and color palette of Marx’s work too. Like Audubon, her work is very intricate and anatomically accurate, but instead of birds being perched on a branch somewhat wholesomely, as Audubon painted them, Marx depicts her animal subjects eating their prey, blood and guts also shown in all their natural glory.

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Inspiration abounds on Marx’s desk.

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Get the Look – Sketch

I came across this chair for sale at Urban Outfitters the other day and thought, “Not sure I’d put that in my house, but it sure does remind me of Sketch.” You might not know it by name, but you do by sight:

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It’s London’s most photogenic restaurant, whose pink interior, plush seating and minimalist art make it a treat for the eyes, as well as the taste buds. Conceived by a Parisian Chef and an English restauranteur in 2002,  Sketch is actually five restaurants and bars that are spread across two floors of a converted 18-th century building in London’s Mayfair. The pink one above, that is the darling of Instagram, is technically called “The Gallery.”

Apparently the food is good, but to me, the interior design is where it’s at. India Mahdavi is the decorator and her love of color and whimsical furnishings are apparent everywhere throughout this destination for food, music, and art.  Some of her other projects are here:

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Home sweet sale

Who says after Christmas sales have to be limited to clothing? Yes, there are a ton of great clothes on sale after the holiday, but I’ve been loving all the home stuff that is, too. Specifically, (and the impetus for this post) I came across that Ro Sham Beaux Malibu chandelier on sale (30% off!) and could hardly believe my eyes. Then I saw that gold flatware, Lulu and Georgia rug, little brass planter, record player …. and well, you get the picture. All on sale! So, without further adieu, a look into my virtual shopping cart.

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Chandelier // Side Table // Mirror // Bowl

Rug // Planter // Record Player

Flatware // Art // Bench // Pillow

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A Bit-O-Local Flare

The latest subscription box to hit the Midwest market is close to my heart…literally! Because it’s based in St. Louis and each quarter sends a box of goods curated from local makers in the St. Louis area. It’s called Bit-O-Local. And really, what better way to get to know new products, handmade in our hometown?

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I just received my first subscription box and it was filled with fun Fall surprises: tassel earrings by CR Jewels,  a bar of (all natural pet) soap by sammysoap, stationary and pencils from the Curio Press and a Cinnamon Sticks candle from Wash Ave. Candle.   I am ashamed and a little embarassed to say that I had never heard of any of the companies represented in this box. One highlight, sammysoap, is an all-natural skin care and home goods company based in Kirkwood, MO that also creates jobs for adults with disabilities.

The founders of Bit-O-Local, Jen Singleton, Carmen Ramirez and Alicia Underwood, have backgrounds in PR and Marketing, so often crossed paths with these local artisans and craftsman. They see the local subscription box as a way to spread the word on St. Louis brands and help increase awareness for their handmade products.

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You can subscribe to the box for $25/quarter (a ~$25 value as opposed to buying the items separately) or buy the items individually. All are available thru their website, www.bitolocal.com.

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define art

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A vintage desk littered with a sticker book and keys- what looks random and haphazard is really carefully thought out art in Fort Gondo.

On the Westernmost section of Cherokee Street, between Michigan and Compton, sits a very tiny and very unassuming gallery called Fort Gondo. It’s right next to its sister space, Beverly Gallery. Open since the early 2000’s, both are original fixtures on the street and somewhat responsible for the movement of the art scene to Cherokee, as we know it today. When I stopped in last Thursday (you have to plan your visit strategically, as they are only open Thursdays and Saturdays from 12-4) I found the most unusual exhibit that is most definitely worth sharing.

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The space reads very much like a residence: exposed brick, small rooms, a bathroom visible from the entry.  The exhibit is called Time and Fragments and is on display until October 1st. It showcases new sculptures by Chris Thorson surrounded by the handwritten poems of Joanna Mc Clure.  Inspired by McClure’s poetry, Thorson created a space full of common place objects, strategically arranged and organized. I think the gallery brochure says it best, in describing the exhibit as “poetic jottings and uncanny replicas of ordinary stuff.”

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worth the wait

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On New Year’s Eve, I had this great idea to buy Chinese wishing lanterns and release them on the beach in a peaceful, beautiful ceremony to ring in 2016. It turned out to be (thanks to a very windy evening) a chaotic, unsuccessful attempt at serenity that left my brother with a few less eyebrow hairs and nearly set the northern half of Miami Beach on fire. We walked back to our house physically defeated, my children screaming “are we going to be sent to jail?!” and with a pack of unused lanterns in tow.

Which is exactly why, when I saw that there was a Lantern Fest coming to St. Louis, I knew I had to check it out. I envision it being like our New Years eve jaunt, but only successful and stress free because someone else is doing the dirty work (i.e. ensuring the surroundings are safe for flaming, flying objects…)

The festival is Nov. 5th in Eureka. Come and enjoy food, live music, a stage show, familiar princesses, face painters, s’mores, balloon artists and more. Then, at dusk, every adult sets off a lantern and boundless photo opps and ooo-ahh moments begin (as is evidence from these photos from Lantern Fest events around the country). Buy your tickets HERE and use code CARADISEFOUND at checkout to recieve 20% off your purchase. See you there!

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like chan luu, but cheaper

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen me wearing my Boho Betty wrap bracelet. I like to think of these guys as Chan Luu at a price. Most are under $50 but look like their more pricey competitor. I wear mine like a watch – meaning always. They are having a great sale so thought I’d share. Shop thru THIS link and get 30% off and free shipping with code LOVE30. Above is the one I currently own and below are some that I have in my bag. Happy Monday!

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