Monday, August 31, 2009

Spain 2009 - Los Arcos de la Frontera

Having tried my hardest to do absolutely nothing to improve myself while on vacation, other than deepening my tan, I ended up picking up this book and actually learning a lot about the history and geography of Spain.
This well written book, It's Not About The Tapas, by English journalist and travel writer Polly Evans, outlined her trip through Spain by bicycle. Not only did this writer perform the utterly incredible feat of travelling from San Sebastian to Barcelona which means cycling across the Pyrenees, she managed to weave an amusing story about historical and modern Spain. In each short chapter she described the villages and cities that she visited in terms of their local geography, culture, cuisine and history, and she did it with a sense of humor.

So in the spirit of learning something new about Spain I took a quick side trip to Los Arcos de la Frontera, one of the famous pueblos blancos of Andalusia.

This tiny town was set high on a hill with beautiful views of the agrarian country side.

Originally under Moorish control, like all of Andalusia, Los Arcos was Christianized in the 13th Century.

But the Moorish influence in architecture was still prevalent, especially in the small verdant atrium's within the oldest part of the village.

The village was quiet and not just because it was getting to siesta time. I saw only a handful of tourists, mostly french and South American. Of course it was obvious that we were the only two American tourists in the town...because who else would be wearing a pink Hawaiian shirt...

In fact I didn't see any American tourists anywhere in this region of Spain.
Did Americans stay home this summer because the dollar is so low against the euro or
did they only travel to the big cities in Europe?
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Savvy Shopping - Bring On The Retro Brooches

Staying quiet and cool in the air conditioning yesterday I finally got around to reading the new September issue of Vogue with the cover photo of Charlize Theron looking just a t'wee bit alien-ish.
The multi page Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue ads left me uninspired.

But the editorial featuring the 1940s inspired looks photographed by Steven Meisel was simply brilliant. I particularly loved the black and white photo of the two models (Karen and Liya, if you must know) in the Thomas Maier for Bottega Veneta dresses. That photo was museum worthy.

What I just don't get it this.
Vogue's website, the Forties Trend featured Ben-Amun costume jewelry.
So the print magazine encourages its readers to buy outfits in the $2500-$3500 range, with $1000 shoes and $2000-$3000 handbags, but the website promotes $98 costume jewelry.

Hey, if anybody gets the whole 'look for less thing" it's moi.
But $2500 dresses and $100 terms of intrinsic value makes absolutely no sense.
Flat out, the better investment in terms of long term value is, of course, estate jewelry.

Vintage Tiffany Retro Aquamarine Brooch from

Vintage Van Cleef & Arpels Retro Ruby and Diamond Brooch from
I love big bold Retro brooches. These two just happen to be signed so definitely more on the pricey side. But there are lots of magnificent un-signed Retro brooches on that are perfect for a lifetime, and not just for this year's Forties trend.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Around Town - Fire Season In Full Force

Here are the photos that I just took of the view from West Los Angeles of the smoke from the massive out of control fire just east of LA.
There are huge fires all over the State.
It's ugly out there.
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Spain 2009 - A Beach, A Bullfight and A Bar

Since I love to swim in the ocean but am total wuss when it comes to swimming in cold water I took advantage of the fact that the Atlantic ocean temperature in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain was much warmer than the Pacific ocean temperature in Santa Monica, California.
So's true....I actually donned "the dreaded bikini" and spent pretty much every day on this beach.

Unlike the chic resorts, Marbella and Palma, teaming with elegant villas full of wealthy Europeans and Saudi royals, Puerto was a beach resort for the Spanish middle class. It was a very laid back place where typical Spanish families would rent a small villa or ocean view apartment for two weeks to a month for their annual vacation.
Obviously, my brother, aka Skipper, was enjoying the beach too.
The book in his hands is just a cover of course. Behind the sunglasses he was really scanning the beach for topless girls.

Oh and just for the record, for every nubile young topless girl with breasts like ripe melons, there was 60 something year old abuela letting is all hang out...and trust wasn't pretty.

So while Skipper was checking out the chicas I was taking a break from the sun in this bar on the beach that served the best mojitos I've ever tasted.
A day of sun, sand and surf and then it was back home to get gorgeous for a night on the town.
Keeping with my "when in Spain..." attitude the night included travel by scooter, a bullfight, some pasear and tapas.
Bullfighting is a big deal in Spain...we all know that.
It's a challenge of hot pink socked, skin tight pastel suited man versus beast.
After sitting in the box seats with all the local big shots, and being introduced to the president of the local bullfighting federation, a rather elegant woman btw, I was glad that I experienced the corrida.
But, let's face it, once was enough.
And even though I was rooting for the bull, I did though kind of like the way that the matadors would turn their back on the bull and walk away with a swagger of machismo.
So very Latin.
Finally, we scooter-ed over to the old town Puerto where pasear was in full force. I love the Spanish summer tradition of families taking to the streets late at night after the weather cools off for a walk, dinner and sitting outside in a cafe and watching the passersby.

Eleven o'clock, midnight and later you will see small children and even infants out with their parents. But what's the rush to go home when it's summer vacation and you can sleep till noon the next day.

We ended up at this tapas bar, one of my brother's favorites, aptly named "little ham bar" because it was little and served jamon iberico. The tapas dishes were delicious, the best I had in Spain, particularly the calamari and the ham and cheese on toast.
and I discovered my new favorite summer drink....get ready for this...a wine cooler or tinto de verano which is cheap red wine on ice with fanta lemon.
Yeah, you know that sounds good!
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Spain 2009 - Dinner in Chipiona

Whenever I travel I want to go out to dinner with the locals because they know where the cuisine is the best...especially when the locals are the owners of a major vineyard or bodega.

So obviously I was more than please to be invited out to dinner by the Ferris family who own the J. Ferris M. Winery which produces not only some of the worlds finest sherry, but some truly delicious red wine or tinto.

The bodega, which the Ferris brothers were kind enough to give me a private tour of last summer, is located in the Jerez de la Frontera region of Spain, where the world's sherry production comes from.
Of course sherry isn't just the Harvey's Bristol Cream that your grandmother or great aunt may have offered you a sip of years ago.
Sherry can range from Fino or Manzanilla, a sharp, almost metallic white wine perfect for seafood dishes to Amontillado, a rich thick nutty tasting amber colored wine, perfect for a desert.
Here's my previous BHB post on sherry.

I've always found that people in the wine industry are serious about their food, so I was only so happy to be invited to join Pepe Ferris and his wife Nieves, with their son Juan Carlos, daughter Nievecita and son-in-law Nono, who are good friends of my brother. Not only were they absolutely chic and gorgeous people, they were so much fun and we laughed throughout the entire meal.

The restaurant was a fabulous place right on the water in the town of Chipiona specializing in seafood. Steamed giant shrimp (good except that I politely declined the sucking out the head part), cockles cooked in a white wine and garlic cream sauce, grilled red peppers and grilled fresh fish were all on the menu.

We sat on the terrace and had an expansive view but there were also tables were set up right on the romantic....which reminded me so much of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.

And look how lovely the sunset was.
More to come...but now off to work.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cocktails on the Beach California Style

On the topic of apples...
This photo of my windblown blond mother in Laguna Beach last weekend shows that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Apparently, we both like to enjoy our summer cocktails by the beach.
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Vintage Value Venture - An Apple A Day back to business

I saw this charm today on the Tiffany website

Funny how it reminded me of this vintage apple pendant's not always about the big stuff.
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Spain 2009 - The View of Blue

I'd love to have jet lag and loll about at home...but as usual, I've had no time for jet lag since I returned two days ago. It was back to work at the office yesterday with the baubles of
just like I had never left.

It's crazy hot in LA today, 100 degrees or so, just like the day that I arrived in Spain.

Here I am in my brother's back yard with my hair blowing in the hot wind up that comes up from North Africa every afternoon.
And here's my brother's house in a not very attractive's actually much bigger and better than it looks in this picture. (obviously, no one will be hiring me as a photographer for Architectural Digest any time soon)

And the huge lawn on the bluffs above the Atlantic Ocean.

The view south is of the ancient port of Cadiz, the oldest city in Europe.

And water, water everywhere

But the shore just below is unavailable for use due to security no private beach.
Luckily, there was a lovely public beach adjacent to the compound where my brother lives, easily accessible by bike, so that's where I spent my days.

More photos to come.
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Spain Summer Fun Part 2 in Hot and Happening Madrid

I finally made it to Madrid...what a different vibe after the quiet evenings on the terrace in to come, bien sur.
Soon back home to blogging and the beladora biz.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

La Belle France - C'est Chaud!

Ah...finally in the south of France where it is 100 degrees in the shade.
It is too hot to do anything more than sit in the shade by the pool and sip pastis so perhaps I will do just that....after all, do I really need to hike up Mount St Victoire in the middle of the summer? Je pense que non.
Three more days here, then to Madrid for a couple of days and then back home to reality.
I'm begininng to enjoy this whole vacation thing...perhaps I will do it more often.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sweet Summer Days Of Spain

OK, it is awesome here. I'm in a gorgeous house, on maybe a couple of acres right on the Atlantic ocean with the ancient city of Cadiz to the south and the city of Rota to the north.
But....the computer speed is at dial-up....which is something that I haven't dealt with in maybe a decade or so. It takes so long to just check my email.
Yeah, I love the sweet summer days of Spain but in terms of technology we are so spoiled in the US, we don't even know.
OMG ...the computer technology is ridiculous. I guess that this is a sign that I shouldn't be blogging...
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

At Last - En Vacance's finally happening

So after dealing with the crisis in my closet
due to the fact that I've posted some 900+ times on BHB
and now nothing I own fits
I've had to piece together some sort of vacation wardrobe
so after a year and of half of choosing blogging over jogging
I just have to deal with it

Fortunately, I'm not going to London or Paris
It will be casual all the way
and what I wear just won't matter
on the Costa de la Luz in Southern Spain won't be this casual
and the night life isn't going to be anything like this

Instead, there will be quite days on the beach

And early evening walks through the town

And hopefully some time spent in the country

hiking, biking and enjoying Andalusia

And then off to the environs of Aix en Province

Maybe I'll even hike up Mont St. Victoire

Or wander through the town sipping pastis at sidewalk cafes

I will try to step away from the computer for the next two weeks
...let's see if I can do it....
bon, on y va
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Vintage Value Venture - Rhapsody In Blue

For some reason this vintage evening gown
makes me think of
I wonder if Madame X ever wore a ring like this
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Joining The Jet Set On OPM

From the WSJ
$500 Million Slated for Purchase of Eight More Planes as Lawmakers' Travel Soars
WASHINGTON -- Congress plans to spend $550 million to buy eight jets, a substantial upgrade to the fleet used by federal officials at a time when lawmakers have criticized the use of corporate jets by companies receiving taxpayer funds.
God knows that in times of economic uncertainty I wouldn't want the Congress to have, you know... fly the rest of us.
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Oh La La - Sharon Stone At 51

Media Whore she is...but wow, she looks awesome for 51.
Here is the Paris Match story en francais
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon's true

Beladora is going to the dogs!

Well to the Love Puppies to be a little more exact.

I'm sure that all of you are familiar with the enamel jewelry of Aaron Basha,

these Love Puppies were created by Aaron's brother Saul Basha for Rivaldy.

this one is for Wendy b

Love Puppy Bouvier des Flanders from

These sterling silver animal pendants with diamond heart collars come in almost every breed. If they don't have your breed, you can send a photo of your pet and Beladora will have Rivaldy custom make pendant or charm with your pet's exact likeness.
C'mon Jill, you know you want an IG!
And with dogs on my mind don't forget to check out Couture Carrie's blog post today with gorgeous fashionistas and their dogs.
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