weekend at gatsby’s


bonjour everyone, it’s been a long time! it’s officially autumn. i love this season, when october rolls around when we pull out that extra blanket and get the house cozy, even here in miami. it was hard to leave the nest but over the weekend i was invited to a party at one of my favorite places in the world,  san diego.  my dear friend Lori Chandler runs a collective known as ‘Vignettes’ on Newport Avenue in the heart of the town. she’s celebrating the 18th year and when she asked me to come and do a book signing i knew it would be an affair to remember.


first of all, lori thinks of everything. besides being a dreamer, enchantress, an intoxicating and playful soul, she’s chic and savvy and runs a business working with the best friends and co-workers imaginable. what they all did under that roof for this soiree was unfathomable! it made me want to move right in! whenever i visit i’m completely inspired by everyone’s collective joie de vivre, creativity and boundless energy! not to mention they made me feel like a rock star. i’ll take you for a tour of what went on last saturday…

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it was night when i arrived at the airport. lori said she’d send a friend to pick me up. but she didn’t tell me it was the owner of one of the spaces at vignettes, designer extraordinaire (and a true modern day salon hostess), barbara gray. she pulled up in a convertible and handed me a scrunchie. “you’re staying with me!” was all she needed to say and whisked me into the beautiful abyss that was my life for the next 48 hours. it was dark  when we got home and i heard waves crashing below. her hubby joked it was just a sound machine. i got to my room and found the chocolates they’d made with my book cover on them next to the bed. i knew i was in for some special treats but this was just the beginning!

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in the light of day, i was floored by the magnificence of everything from barbara herself to her cooking, her home, and the glory that just is life in san diego! she whipped up a gourmet breakfast and got us together for the big day. she almost couldn’t tear me away but off we went.


i was greeted at the door by the one and only lori with and pomp, circumstance, welcome signs and lots of love.


when i stepped through the door i was changed forever. she had envisioned a party that would rival a gatsby shindig and personally i think she topped him!


every inch was a feast for the eyes and filled to the brim, dripping with sparkles, champagne, cake and savoir faire!


i’ll let you see what i mean…


in every cabinet rhinestones dazzled in the light



keepsakes, mementos and charms spilled out like champagne bubbles



every vignette was a celebration!



it was a masterpiece from a mastermind who got everyone into the spirit. it’s amazing what a little inspiration can do and how a book can spark the imagination…





the merchants who have spaces in the store all tend to have a french influence and there was magic in every direction. the collections were incredible!






they beefed up their shops for the event they really went all out! you’d have to go to france to find a better selection of goodies!


the enthusiasm permeated the entire store. and everyone expressed a real artistic flair, creating dressing rooms, gardens, beachy themes and elegant arrangements. debbie hung a bed upside down!


her closet displays were like candy…




i wish i knew who everyone’s space belonged to!


Mme. Barbara has two spaces, i think they reflect a couple of her different loves. this one was her beachy, provencal side filled with white porcelain, books and seashells. hence, cottage white!





on the flip side she set up an entire booth of black and white where she had furniture, accessories, and all the trimmings!


(photo: Syd Takeshta)

she made pillows and upholstered chairs and ottomans, styled every inch even made the piping with tiny french words along the edge!




i think i was just shocked by the amount of work that went in to each and every touch and the attention down to the smallest detail.


(click for larger images)





across the way was another terrific booth set up as julia child’s kitchen. this one is run by Robin Slominski of ‘Bistro Chic”.  on one side she had the kitchen with cookbooks and made beautiful cookies.


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and the other half was set as a charming little french apartment, complete with collections and displays.



once we got through all the booths, we went to the back where two special event areas were arranged.


the first was a tented french patisserie complete with pink oven, blender and flowers. it was adorable and was conceived and executed by stylist, monique hemminger.  more of the unending attention detail! inside was the inimitable Kristy Lynn from ‘Sweet Insanity Bake shop’. she not only donned a marie antoinette inspired ship in her hair (that she handmade)! but was also serving her delicious macaroons.


(photo: Syd Takeshta)

no one could seem to get enough of her outrageous colors and flavors. check out what else she is doing: sweetinsanitybakeshop.co


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Syd Takesha of london light photography kept it together by shooting the event and making sure we all had what we needed! she’s an artist and photographer and sweetheart. i wish my photos looked like hers!



finally, we got to a very special area that had been created for the signing. i couldn’t have felt more special.


(photo: Syd Takeshta)

it was like a vignette come to life.



(photo: Syd Takeshta)


it was created by a woman who wears many hats, she’s known as madame palooza, paris cowgirl and to me, Stunning Sylvia. (her hubby’s pretty great too)! she’s got a lot going on, including prop rentals and a great warehouse space. check out just some of what she does here: facebook.com/MadamPalooza



(photo: Syd Takeshta)


(photo: Syd Takeshta)

they staged the entire room and even had an old brigitte bardot film playing behind the tv screen on a laptop!



(photo: Syd Takeshta)

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it was incredible to meet so many beautiful people that day who share a passion for life, paris, beauty and good energy. i can’t describe the love i had for everyone who traveled near and far to meet me and i treasured every minute!

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thank you lori and barbara for a weekend i will never forget. Vignettes, happy anniversary! thank you too to all the people behind the scenes who made the magic happen. from husbands to vendors, cookie makers, clean up crews and stylists, they were all there, buzzing around keeping pillows plumped and pouring champagne, i wish i knew who everyone was but you know who you are!

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truth is it went by in the blink of an eye. it was all i could do to leave and can’t wait to get back. the girls inspired to take the month of february and head out to california for a little road tripping and a lot of good old fashioned fun.

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as i said earlier, lori has the most incredible spirit. she somehow came across this book and gave it to me just as i was leaving. it makes me think of her gatsby soul and reminds me we can make any place special our own villa,  chateau, cottage or paris apartment. all we need are four walls and a dream!

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having your friends around to enjoy it with you is the icing on the cake, no matter where you are!

October 3, 2013. California, Life, Vignettes.


  1. Marsha Stone replied:

    Vignettes – one of my favorite shops; Lori – an inspiration, a wonderful soul and a lady whom I call ” friend.” Wish I could have been there, but live out-of-State, now. My home has many beautiful items procured from this little piece of So. Calif. heaven.

    I own and love your book, too, Claudia. I am quite certain Lori got as much joy hosting you as you did visiting Vignettes!


  2. Barbara Gray replied:

    Wow what a fabulous review thank you Claudia. The weekend was over the top amazing…….truly enjoyed our time together. You are an inspiration, and a joy to be with…….come back and see us soon. xoxoxo Barbara Gray owner of Cottage White


  3. vintageandart replied:

    What a fabulous inspirational post, showcasing incredible creativity. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Mom replied:

    Oh my, what a gorgeous place. Your blog really captured their spirit and enthusiasm,


  5. Rita C. (Panoply) replied:

    Oh My God! What incredible energy to not only have staged all those vignettes, but to have curated them all, piece by piece! This was a visual feast matching no other! Thank you for sharing!


  6. julie in provence replied:

    Beautiful. Congrats!


  7. Lori @ Vignettes replied:

    Oh My Dear Claudia! It is so fascinating & beautiful to see Vignettes thru your eyes & lens & you are beyond kind & gracious. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey out here with the world.To think it all started so many years ago when I fell under the spell of “The Paris Apartment” & made my husband stop by your shop on a business trip to get me something, anything that came from you! Of course, I always knew you would be an amazing gal but now that I know you, I’m even more in awe.
    Here’s to friendship & kindred spirits following their hearts ~ & Paris forever!!


  8. Nikon replied:

    What an amazing collection of photos! Everything looks so beautiful, Claudia!


  9. laurenkellydesigns replied:

    Wow! Awesome photos! I had so much fun meeting you. You are so talented and an inspiration!


  10. Karena Albert replied:

    Dear Claudia thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us!
    Vignettes, How amazing the work and creativity that is given to all things large and small.

    Velvet Pumpkins Giveaway!


  11. Barbara Gray replied:

    Dearest Claudia,
    It’s Mom Olga I can’t believe you have included me in this amazing Blog, I enjoyed the love and friend ship and dynamic energy you brought into my daughter Barbara’s home you made an everlasting impression I will never forget, Love Olga Mom xoxoxo


  12. Peggy Braswell replied:

    Well girlfriend you have taken wonderful pictures for us to see + how blessed you are to have such good friendships + Here’s to you Claudia + everyone who made the weekend so special for you. .


  13. Amanda replied:

    Why oh why do I not live near San Diego? The party looked truly romantic and special! Wish I could shop there sometime, but Texas is a long way away. Sigh.


  14. Tracy Bovee Walters replied:

    Well as fate would have it…my husband and I headed down to Ocean Beach, we live in Northern San Diego, and as we hit the normal traffic jam my sweet man who was kind enough to want to spend the day shopping reveled he had a migraine and with the traffic felt sick to his stomach…I wasn’t going to make him do it, so we turned around and went home. I was especially bummed because I wanted to personally thank you for something you did for me with your last book, and just wanted to meet you in person…but it sounds like you maybe back and that is how the whole group at Vignettes makes everyone feel and why our family loves them all there…so until next time…Tracy


  15. Barb replied:

    Wowza! What an amazing space. I have never seen anything quite like it. I have added a new spot to my bucket list. You look just beautiful in every photo. Thank you for sharing. big hugs xoxo


  16. Rebecca Grace replied:

    This is just amazing! The gilt clock, the porcelain Dalmatian bookends, the darling pink oven… And why doesn’t EVERY home come with a “Press for Champagne” button, hmmm? Well, I definitely will seek out Vignettes if I’m ever in the San Diego area. Thanks for sharing these lovely images with us.


  17. Marivic L replied:

    Such tremendous effort to make everything beautiful!I can imagine how honored you felt. I want to cry, and I haven’t even met any of you.


  18. Clare replied:

    Wow! What an event! So many incredible photos here. I just adore Kristy Lynn’s ‘Sweet Insanity Bake shop’ setup!! That Marie Antoinette headpiece is insane! I need one ;-)

    Clare x


  19. Gary replied:

    Barb….Barb…..Barb……ohhhhhhhhhhhhh Upon delighting in Claudias review….
    I am ecstatic!
    YOU amaze me!
    Everything you do, and those whom you touch……
    and Lori, and to everyone bringing together a marvels event encompassing the utmost beauty, class, and dignity. Very well done! Bravo.
    Its not about money, fame or pride, but rather from a loving heart that you give so much.
    Well, Claudia, if you feel different after leaving Barb and Bruce, worry not.
    The magic of memories has been left within you as you have become a part of friendship, known as family.
    To say it is an honor and a pleasure to be Barbara’s brother would be an understatement.
    Good Health, & May Gods Blessings flourish for all of you.
    Love Gary


  20. K. Nicole replied:

    Absolutely gorgeous, Claudia! You and your beautifully amazing adventures! I always walk away from your posts inspired. :) Have a wonderful week!


  21. Rita replied:

    Cara Claudia, looking forward to see you again soon! Love your post very much. Ciao for now Rita


  22. Lisa-Marie replied:

    I’ve just spent half an hour just looking at the photos. How did you manage to leave? It is all so chic, and grand, and excessive in the best way. Glorious!


  23. Sarah replied:

    Wow. just wow! this is one of the most glamorous, chic and stylish posts Ive ever read. absolutely stunning.


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