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.


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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. 25 comments.

an affair to remember

where do i begin? this may be my most picturesque post ever.  i have a million more photos but i’m cutting it off here so i can at least get to the matter at hand…the party at vignettes was a roaring good time that was beyond my wildest dreams. mere thanks would never cover what lori and her crew did to welcome and host me for what was truly a fairy tale.

walking into the store was like a dream! everyone in the collective is on the same wavelength and each area was decorated to the hilt with glorious french finds.

i guess i took so many photos cause it was a way to have a piece of this place forever. it’s one of the best resources i’ve ever come across either in the us or in paris. the prices, the selection, the sheer creativity in unique design, display and undeniable passion reinvigorated all my senses and sensibilities for all things french.

to be around such wonderful and expressive people was pure bliss. take a look at the spread, this was just the tip of the iceberg! there was champagne, strawberries and so much more!

but the real highlight was having the ladies and gents come from around town, l.a. and even as far phoenix. it was beyond flattering, it was awe inspiring.  some ladies had my book for years and to see it in their hand touched me more than i can say. thank you to everyone who came, i hope you keep in touch!

so if you weren’t there, i hope these photos inspire you to check out this one of a kind wonderland. if you live near san diego please go and say hello, you will not leave disappointed or empty handed.  if you’re looking for a one of a kind gift then this is one stop shopping for all tastes and ages, men and women. i plan to interview some of the designers and post their goodies so you can get more of an idea of the variety. these are not crafters, they’re artisans.

thank you thank you thank you to everyone and everything that went into making this one of the best days of my life and something treasure forever! i can’t wait to get back to san diego and play and in the meantime i’ll try to get to the individual posts about some of these creative souls. till then have a great week and more soon!


4828 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107-3111
(619) 222-9244
Open Daily 10:30am-5pm

October 12, 2010. Antique Shopping, California, Vignettes. 43 comments.

you’re invited to the ball

i don’t think i’ve ever received such a warm and inviting invite to host an event as i did from lori chandler of vignettes in san diego. apparently anyone who’s anyone knows about this treasure trove but it will be my first time visiting.  it’s an antiques collective filled to the brim by passionate, creative fairy princesses who let their love fly for all things fabulous, frilly and french!


as i was getting an image to post tonite for the event on saturday, i googled ‘vignettes’ and came across so many gorgeous pix that i got lost in interviews with lori, past hosts’ ruminations (rachel ashwell)! and the wealth of merchandise in the shop. i know it’s not easy to run a store, much less with a lot of vendors, but lori makes it look like so much fun! i’m sure they have a blast all year long, but this is their anniversary party, 15 years!  if you don’t know lori yet, check out her store via her  blog and website. from what i can see, it’s an atmosphere of pure joy and i feel like i’m heading to a princess party.


in the meantime, i spoke to her hubby today who said she’s busy putting quite the soiree together and i’ll be going on the 7th to help set up. we’re going to have a real ball, so if you’re around please come and play! here’s her adorable invite:

‘We hope you’re planning to put on your

Best Party Dress & attend

Vignettes’ Grand Anniversary Event

this upcoming Saturday, October 9th, from Noon to 5:00 pm.

From taking in all the lavish settings & luxe décor, to meeting Miss Claudia Strasser of The Paris Apartment

& all of Vignettes’ dealers who work so hard &

(just added!) the French Tent Brocante in our back lot, to the lavish patisserie & French macaron display (Edible art!) to the French Champagne – pouring all day (Ooh La La!) to having your picture taken in front of the Eiffel Tower,

(Say “Cheese”, I mean “Fromage”) you’ll feel like you’ve been wisked away on a tres magnifique French getaway/escapade – with no jet lag, luggage or passport required!

Come Celebrate 15 Fabulous Years With Us!’


and these are some of the pics i found just surfing about the place.





i could go on but it’s midnight, you get the picture tho, it’s going to be singing and dancing and chocolate and champagne and strawberries and just like the movie marie antoinette when they had that decadent party! hope you can make it!

October 5, 2010. Antique Shopping, California, Vignettes. 17 comments.

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