Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I love the scene in "Hello Dolly" where Cornelius Hackle and Barnaby Tucker go into the Millinery shop where Irene Molloy and Minnie are working.  I imagined visiting a hat shop in the big apple myself someday.  

A few weeks ago at an event I had the pleasure of meeting a lady who owns a Millinery in NYC, Ellen Christine Millinery.  Her hats have gotten around......

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Books To Check Out

A few non-fiction books to check out:

The article that Gloria Vanderbilt's son Anderson Cooper wrote for 
Vogue was very well written and insightful.  When I first visited the 
Vanderbilt's summer home in Newport I began to wonder about Gloria.  Good reads!
Gloria Vanderbilt Photographed by Horst for Vogue, 1966

Gloria Vanderbilt - Anderson Cooper pays tribute to his mother in Vogue....

"I don’t really know who the woman in this photograph is. She is my mom, of course, Gloria Vanderbilt—I recognize the face, the look in her eyes, the shape of her nose—but she has lived so many different lives, inhabited so many different worlds, that in this picture, as in many photos, I find it hard to really see her. Among other things, she’s been an actress, an artist, a designer, a writer, a wife, a mother, a lover, a victim, and a survivor.  Every few years she seems to shed her old self, and is born anew.

The photo was taken by Horst in April 1966. My mom is wearing a Mainbocher dress and is in a grand old town house on Sixty-seventh off Park Avenue, where she lived with my father, Wyatt Cooper, whom she married in 1964, and my brother Carter, who was born in 1965. I am not yet born. In fact, I won’t be conceived for another seven months.

We lived in the house for another five years or so after I arrived, and though I recall some of the rooms, I’m not sure which one this picture was taken in. The one I remember most was a bedroom my mother covered entirely in patchwork quilts: the walls, the ceiling, the furniture, she’d even glued quilts to the floor and had them coated with polyurethane. It was like being inside a collage. I’ve never seen anything like it since.

My mom is 42 years old in this photograph, a year younger than I am now. She looks so much more grown up than I feel. I suppose all children, no matter what age, feel that about their parents.
“I remember being completely fulfilled, contented, and happy,” my mom said when I asked her about the photograph. Contentment is something my mom rarely admits to. She and I are similar in that way. We are both restless, always searching, looking into the future at what is coming next.
They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm,” she often says, quoting her friend Dorothy Parker, who died four days after I was born and was laid to rest in another Mainbocher dress my mom gave her.
I have never seen this photo before. It’s a beautiful picture—elegant, stylish—but it’s not really her at all. I think it says more about the person taking the picture than it says about my mom. It is a photo of how Horst, or perhaps some magazine art directors, saw her—who they thought she was or should be. It is not how my mom saw herself, and it certainly is not who she is now.

Yes, drape that arm around that pillow,” I imagine Horst saying, “and yes, the head, try resting it against that other one. Yes, perfect, languid but glamorous. Yes, as if you are just relaxing before guests arrive.

There certainly were glamorous parties in that house on Sixty-seventh Street. I recently found a photograph of me shaking Charlie Chaplin’s hand when he arrived for a party in his honor. He had just returned to the United States after many years in exile in Switzerland. My parents had shown us his films, but I was surprised to discover the youthful little tramp had become a white-haired man well into his 80s. I remember dinners with Truman Capote, and Lillian Gish. Al Hirschfeld and Charles Addams used to draw pictures for my brother and me.

The elegant life portrayed in the picture was real. That was my mom’s house, and that probably was her dress, and the needlepoint chair in the foreground was embroidered by my mother’s aunt Thelma. But the photograph focuses only on a part of my mom’s life; it doesn’t really capture her strength, her passion, the drive that propelled her forward through great successes and failures.
Unlike others who came from privileged backgrounds, who spent their days at country clubs or gossiping over long lunches, my mom has always had a relentless determination—a need to create, to achieve on her own—born of pain and loss.

My mom’s father died when she was an infant, and at the age of ten, she was taken away from her own mother, the result of a bitter custody battle begun by her father’s sister Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. At the time, the height of the Depression, the battle of the Vanderbilts made daily headlines. The one constant in my mom’s early life was her beloved nurse, whom she called Dodo. When the judge awarded custody of my mother to her aunt, a woman she barely knew, he also banished Dodo from her life.

I have a black-and-white newsreel from that time, which shows my ten-year-old mom arriving in court, surrounded by a phalanx of fedora-wearing bodyguards. She is staring down, her eyes glazed. She is focused inward, and I see that she has already begun the internal dialogue she continues to carry on with herself to this day. Under the intense pressure of that early loneliness and chaos, and the fame that followed, my mom formed a rock-hard core that nothing could crack.

I sometimes think she would have been better off without that last name. It came with great advantages, no doubt, but great baggage as well, so many preconceived notions that color how other people see you. I am certainly glad I don’t have that name.

The problem with drive, however, is that if you have it, you are rarely satisfied, and you must continue to move forward toward new things, find new skins to inhabit. That’s another reason photos I see of her so often fail to capture her essence. They are mere snapshots in time, poses she is trying on and will soon move away from.

She has not always been successful, but no level of failure or betrayal or tragedy has diminished her drive to create. She’s what is sometimes called a survivor, but she has none of the toughness that term so often implies.

My mom is 86 now, though she has stopped celebrating birthdays and no longer thinks about age in the way she once did. She is the most youthful person I know and still believes great opportunity and great love is just around the corner. The funny thing is, if you spend even a short amount of time with her, you start to believe it as well.

She has a large art studio in an apartment below the one she lives in, and on most days slips down the back stairs to paint or write. She doesn’t call me often, because she is always concerned about interrupting me at work, but she has finally mastered E-mail and sends them frequently, inviting me to come look at a new painting or a new story she is working on.

If I were taking a photograph of her now, it would be of how she appears when I visit her. She is ensconced on a couch very similar to the one in the Horst photo, but she is barefoot because that is how she is at home when talking with me or with friends late into the night. She does not have any makeup on, because that is how she is most comfortable, most beautiful.

All around her are the objects she has collected through her many lives: shiny silver fish in a silver bowl; small boxes she bought in Europe; a Mexican cross from a long-ago trip. Every object has a story, a history. Nearby is the same needlepoint chair embroidered by her mother’s sister.

She may wrap a hand around a pillow, and lay her head back on another one, but she has none of the icy cool of the woman posing for Horst. No longer limited by old concerns, by things that once seemed important, even urgent, she is focused only on what she cares about, excited by what lies ahead, and able to laugh about all that she has been through, all the ways she has seen herself and been seen by others."

Article as published in the November 2010 issue of Vogue, on newsstands nationwide October 26th.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weekend Happenings

 Out For A Southern Dinner 
"Chicken Fried Steak"

 Picnic In Riverside Park

 Enjoying Tribeca

 In Madison Square Park

Dining In Curry Hill

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chicken Mustard Mascarpone Marsala

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion or mix of shallot onion
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus whole sprigs, for garnish
  • 12 ounces dried fettuccine


Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cool slightly.

While the chicken cools, melt 2 tablespoons of butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss the fettuccine with 3 tablespoons of butter and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Swirl the fettuccine onto serving plates. Spoon the chicken mixture over top. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Almond Crusted Chicken

My sister told me about this recipe - ENJOY!


  • 1 cup unblanched almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Spanish pimenton or paprika
  • 2 large eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar - whatever you have
  • 5 cups mesclun (small/young) salad greens
  • Optional: (1/4 bread crumbs and 1/4 parmesan cheese)


Finely chop the almonds in a mini-chopper or food processor. Transfer the nuts to a shallow dish and stir in the paprika. Lightly whisk the egg whites in another shallow dish. Pat the chicken dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Dip each piece of chicken into the egg, letting the excess fall back into the dish. Then press both sides of the chicken into the nuts (bread crumb and parmesan) to coat. Place on a baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to set the crust.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place rack on a baking sheet.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the butter. Place the chicken smooth-side down in the pan and then raise the heat to medium-high. Cook turning once, until the nuts set and turn golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer meat to the prepared pan and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the sides of the chicken registers 160 degrees F, about 20 minutes.

Whisk the vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream, to make a smooth dressing. Add the salad greens and toss to coat evenly. Divide the salad evenly among 4 plates, top with the chicken and serve.
Adapted from Food Network

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1.  She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2.  Mostly to clean the house.
3.  To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1.  He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2.  Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3.  God made my mom just the same like he made me.  He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1.  Clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2.  They had to get their start from men's bones.  Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1.  We're related.
2.  God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's mom like me.

What kind of a little girl was your mom?
1.  My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2.  I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3.  They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1.  His last name.
2.  She had to know his background.  Like is he a crook?  Does he get drunk on beer?
3.  Does he make at least $800 a year?  Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1.  My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world.  And my mom eats a lot
2.  She got too old to do anything else with him.
3.  My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1.  Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2.  Mom.  You can tell by room inspection.  She sees the stuff under the bed.
3.  I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?
1.  Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2.  Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3.  Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
4.  Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine..

What does your mom do in her spare time?
1.  Mothers don't do spare time.
2.  To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1.  On the inside she's already perfect.  Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2.  Diet.  You know, her hair.  I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
1.  She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean.  I'd get rid of that.
2.  I'd make my mom smarter.  Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.
3.  I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring Happenings....

 Festival Of Tulips

 Flat Iron Building

 Empire State Building

 Echo in Madison Square Park

 Me and the dogs in Central Park


Major events have occurred recently in the news.  Yesterday President Obama honored the victims of 9/11 at ground zero.  "When we say, 'We will never forget,' we mean what we say," President Obama said.  President Obama also called the loss of life from the recent severe weather "heartbreaking," and promised those affected by the storms the full support of the federal government.  The storms caused me to again focus on global warming, it's harmful effects, and what I can do in small ways to help; one of which is educating myself on the issue and doing my part to pass along that information making others aware.

I was at the end of my junior year of collage, and presenting my topic of study for trip.  My presentation was far more detailed and advanced than any other applicant.  I will never forget being told that global warming was not a topic that it didn't exist, and the very day after my presentation global warming was the lead story in the New York Times.  While, yes, it was an up and coming topic it was certainly making headlines.

It's a shame when fear takes over something we don't understand giving way for propaganda to be spread in effort to be used as scare tactics to prevent the truth and awareness of something important.   Because to reveal the truth often time hurts big industry and deep pockets which have such a strong hold and control on us all.  Their money and power give way to shaping news not as fact but as what they want people to hear - what serves their purpose - the purpose of helpful to a few and harmful to many often times ending in devastation.

One example is the debate that occurred over Global Warming - ending in devastation and disaster.  Big business didn't and still doesn't want public awareness of this real situation because it hurt their ability to continue business as usual.  They have such power that they get what they want until eyes are opened to the truth, we start thinking for ourselves, and action occurs.

Despite different preferences there are some issues where it's a must to come together, work together, put aside biases, fears, the almighty dollar, and find it in ourselves to do what's right for the good of many.

One disappointment I would raise is if you look at the understanding of climate change by scientists -- let's be generous -- 95 percent of scientists say we understand the process and we are convinced there is global warming. The media reports it, like a lot of other stories, as 50-50. They want to always show the other side. That's good, but I'm disappointed that the media does not reflect that there is a 95-5 percent discussion. It sounds like it's 50-50. The public reads this and they can't make up their mind usually.
 KONRAD STEFFEN, interview, May 18, 2007
We have many advantages in the fight against global warming, but time is not one of them. Instead of idly debating the precise extent of global warming, or the precise timeline of global warming, we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring. We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great. The most relevant question now is whether our own government is equal to the challenge.
JOHN MCCAIN, speech, May 12, 2008

Global warming is too serious for the world any longer to ignore its danger or split into opposing factions on it.
TONY BLAIR, speech, Sept. 27, 2005

Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, engaged in the most elaborate, well organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind, have produced long-since a consensus that we will face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming.
AL GORE, speech at National Sierra Club Convention, Sept. 9, 2005

All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it's here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.
BARACK OBAMA, speech, Apr. 3, 2006

How can we come together and help?  It starts with educating ourselves - searching out the facts - finding the truth.
An "Inconvenient Truth" gives helpful scientific fact.
Study facts.
Do little things - these little things add up and can be the big things that cause a tipping point of change.

The Lady Of Shalott

The Lady Of Shalott written by Alfred Lord Tennyson has lived through three centuries through paintings, film, and song.  I was reminded of this poem recently when I was introduced to the song "If I Die Young," by the Perry Band, AMC new artist of the year.  Interesting how written words can paint images, linger, inspire, and live on through generations and centuries.