Fashion Designer Chrysal Parrot

All work and no play makes for a dull girl.  So with a trunk stuffed to the gills with luggage and my best friend by my side, we hit the road yesterday, off to Martha’s Vineyard for a bit of R&R.

Never having been to the Island before I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew it was the idyllic summer playground for many well-heeled New Englanders.  Not but a few hours into our holiday we came across Demi-Monde.  Oh what a treat.

Located in Vineyard Haven, dressmaker Chrysal Parrot operates a chic and comfortable boutique.  An immaculate black silk blouse displayed in the storefront captured my undivided attention. I had a chance to speak with Chrysal about her antique turned new again design esthetic.  She uses vintage garments, which have seen better days but still retain their charm, as a jumping off point to style a more modern version – not replicas, but inspired contemporary sisters.

Chrysal Parrot Demi-Monde

The blouse that stole my heart.

As a fan of all things frilly, I fell completely in love.  And as if the design itself wasn’t enough, Chrysal’s work also solves for a serious pain point I have with most of today’s workplace shirts – perfect fit.  I always have to buy my shirts at least one, if not two, sizes larger simply to get a good fit in the shoulder.  This usually means I have to take shirts in a good 2 inches at the sides to compensate.  Or worst yet, buy my normal size and risk not being able to lift my arms up enough to safely reach the steering wheel while driving.  But not with this amazing work of art!  She proudly pulled on a stunning velvet jacket and demonstrated in a wild display of a perfect backstroke how the cut ensures a free range of motion.

Chrysal's vintage inspired fashion designsIf my pocketbook’s voice doesn’t over power me, I am sure to head back before I leave.  Catering to the vacation crowd, Chrysal is clearly no stranger to custom orders for post-holiday shipping.

If a touch of vintage isn’t your taste, do still be sure to stop by Demi-Monde.  Chrysal also crafts the most charming sundresses on Martha’s Vineyard.

Sweet Dreams, Sheri

Valentino Fall/Winter 2011

As girls go, I am definitely very independent – a tough New Yorker.  But I am also infatuated with girly cute things  (lace, ruffles, bows, ribbons…)  Case in point, I got my Black Belt in the Bronx and, well, my sparring gear was pink.  I am sure Bennett Sensei still rolls his eyes every now and then thinking about my pink punchies.

For all those gals out there who are also strong but sweet, this Autumn Valentino has delivered.  I am completely and totally in love with the season’s Red Valentino line.

Red Valentino Autumn 2011

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There is a little something for everyone.  There are T-shirts with screen-print bows and polka dot tulle for a casual look, ruffled military jackets for a day at the office, as well as lace and tweed dresses for an evening out.  And if you want to overdose on cute: add a sweet pair of ballet flats, leather ribbon belt, and pink bow tote to top it off.

Even the  “themes” for the collection are lovely:

  • Tailored Bow
  • Fairy Military
  • Romantic Outerwear
  • All Over Bow
  • Sweetly Sweatshirts

DIY Valentino T-shirt

For those on a budget and who are endowed with some basic sewing skills, I spy a DIY opportunity.  Try your hand at replicating the hooded sweatshirt.  Purchase a standard issue gray hoodie and pick up some black dot tulle online and embellish away.  Or go for the classic white T-Shirt plus’d up with more tulle and some twill tape ribbon.

Sweet Dreams, Sheri

There’s no place like home

Wishing you a very Happy Fourth of July!

A Sweet Fourth of July

Stars and stripes party favors from Target.

I was traveling on business for the better part of last week.   Ah, there is no place like home.  It is so nice to come back to the comfort of familiar surroundings. I do always travel with a few things that make the experience more personal.  For example, I always carry a Pareo (Hawaiian Sarong) I picked up from Sig Zane Designs in Hilo, HI.  It is, I guess, my take on a grown up version of a security blanket. Great for draping across the foot of the bed or as an impromptu yoga mat for morning stretches (much nicer than hotel carpet I can assure you).

Do you travel with a little piece of home sweet home?  Would love to hear about it.

Sweet Dreams, Sheri

Costco is cool

So I needed to open a mailbox for a new business venture and they required two forms of photo ID.  The challenge was, at the time, I was commuting between two ends of the country and, well, my Passport was at the other end – only my driver’s license was at hand.  The UPS Store says to me, “No problem.  Just stop by Costco and get a membership card.”  And so my love affair began.

Costco and Kamikaze Girls

Momoko (Kyoko Fukada) from the film Kamikaze Girls

Before then, I would drive by the local Costco and not give it a second glance.  I didn’t stick my nose up at it exactly, more I assumed it was for a different target audience, I don’t know, say new parents who need a palette’s worth of diapers.  But I was wrong.

Here are my 5 favorite things about Costco and how it helps with Life’s Sweet Essentials.

  1. The price. I know, no surprise on this one, but Costco is easy on the wallet and therefore great for Life’s Essential #4 – $$$.  Because of their buying power as America’s #3 retailer, they get a huge discount that is then passed on to us.  While I admit, I personally tend to average a $100 minimum every time, I always walk out with my money’s worth and a heck of a lot more then I get from my local grocer.
  2. Rebate!! Their Membership Rewards programs are fantastic and again ideal for #4 $$$.  And the kicker here is, if you get their American Express card you get a rebate from both!!
  3. High quality produce. These guys have a huge customer base, and when it comes to Life’s Essential # 1 – Food – Costco has a high turn over which means that the produce is going to be fresh.  Did you even know they had produce?  I didn’t originally.
  4. Bulk. If you are a family of 4, no problem, you will benefit from this big time.  But even if you are single this is a cool tip.  Buy it and share it with 3 of your friends.  They chip in for their portion and you get the stuff you need plus your rebate for the full amount of goods.  Sweet.
  5. TVs, pillows, towels and more. I know this is a totally random mix but I have purchased all of these items to help make Life’s Essential #3- Shelter, more cozy.  Why pay full price for Pacific Coast down pillows or Sony’s latest LCD big screen TV.  Remember discount + rebate = sweet life.

So if you are wondering about the Jusco reference from Kamikaze Girls, here is the deal.  While I would normally agree with Momoko – do not buy Life’s Essential #2 – Clothing, from the supermarket… I must admit I have purchased Lacoste Ts and Tommy Bahama shorts from my Costco.  Sorry Momoko-san, I too love Baby the Stars Shine Bright … but I have fallen victim to Jusco on occasion.

Sweet Dreams, Sheri

Pleased to make your acquaintance

Hello – Aloha – Konnichiwa!  Welcome to Life’s Sweet Essentials, a blog about those things we all need and how to make the most of them.  We’ve all been given this
amazing opportunity and I believe in embracing every moment.  Life’s too short to settle
for anything less.  So lets discover the wonder in what could otherwise be mundane.

Sewn celebration cupcake

A yummy cupcake to celebrate the launch of Life’s Sweet Essentials.

  • Food. We need food and water for sustenance, but why stop there.  If there is one thing that can bring people together it is food.  I am very fortunate to have a friend who is an exquisite cook.  I have learned so much from him and hope to pass along some of the delectable tips that I have picked up over the years.
  • Clothing. What was originally critical for protection from the elements has grown to be what I think is the most accessible art form on the planet.  Society demands we have it, so why not flaunt it.  For me what I wear is usually a reflection of my mood.  Sometimes simple and sometimes frilly.  I love to shop, and thanks to a childhood spent at my grandmother’s side, I also adore sewing.
  • Shelter. Like clothing, shelter is critical for protection from the elements. But I firmly believe in the saying, “Home Sweet Home.”  Home to me is a sanctuary; it is where I feel safe and free to be myself.  I invest a great deal of time, money and energy into it making my home a bright and happy place.  That extra investment puts me in the right mental state to tackle what ever the world throws at me.
  • Money. It is a reality of the world we live in, so go for it!  I remember starting out after college with $200 in the bank, a full tank of gas and nothing else but big dreams. I have been very fortunate and hope I can pass on some of the wisdom that has helped in my success.
  • Lucky Pack. The cool thing about life is that it is full of surprises.   Let’s see what happens.

Sweet Dreams, Sheri

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