Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve in the City

An ideal Christmas for me would be to spend Christmas Eve in the city and wake up Christmas Day in the country.  So every year, we attend a holiday gathering that gives us our city fix. 

We drove down to the New Haven station and caught a train to Grand Central.  

Other plans precluded attending Evensong at Saint Thomas Church, but we were at least able to hear the organist rehearsing.

We then headed over to the corporate offices of Tiffany, where we talked to some of the executives there.

And yes, I had to change my shoes on the street on the way over before heading in.


We then headed back to the apartment for the party. 

We watched the three pianists come in (one for each grand piano).

The fabulous talent of twin piano playing

Edward the publicist and I - guests with festive pants.

 Always an eclectic mix

 The Gang from Rainbow Room's Rainbow and Stars

The incomparable Lee Roy Reams, showing us throughout the evening why he got his Tony nod (see our "home movies" below) with Dennis Buck on the piano.

And Marty Vidnovic, with his booming voice, showing us with impromptu singing why he got his Tony nod. (Again, our "home movies" below.)

Saying goodnight to Cabaret Legend Julie Wilson

And now, we are back in the country for a very quiet Christmas.

Happy Holidays from The Daily Prep! 

Lee Roy Reams singing from last year

Marty Vidnovic singing this year, Part I

Marty Vidnovic singing this year, Part II

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stockings by Christmas Cove Designs

Christmas decorations present a unique challenge in attempting to avoid the Victorian aesthetic: heavy, dark and tending to have significant quantities of draping fabric.

The one stand-out is stockings from Christmas Cove Designs of Richmond, Maine. Handmade of Virgin Wool (straight from the sheep), these stockings feature images of sailboats, loons, pine trees, lighthouses and chickadees. Substantial and beautifully made, they even come in miniatures to hang on the tree.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Locally Made Wreaths

 The driveway at the farm.

I am a minimalist when it comes to Christmas decorations.  I am a fan of neither the Victorian aesthetic nor the mall aesthetic. 

 Some of their barns, wreaths, hens and sheep.

So my favorite decorations are the wreaths.

This year the farm owners invited me to come inside, and see their wreath-making in practice.   I jumped at the chance.

It wasn't long before I was sitting down and joining them.  They may offer wreath making classes next year, so I was a perfect test subject.

 While making one wreath is satisfying, I gained a new respect for the hundreds that they made.

I proudly took my artifact home (and as silly as it sounds, I really was proud).  Although I meant the fence to be a temporary home, it looks so right that I might just have to get another.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gant, You're No J. Press

The new Gant store opened in New Haven a few weeks ago, and I was eager to see it for myself.  There had been a lot of press about the return of Gant to New Haven.

And I have to admit that I have warm memories of Gant.  As a child, my family almost exclusively wore shirts made by both Gant (who made shirts for J.Press and the Yale Co-op) and Sero.  Both companies had factories in the New Haven area.

Located in a handsome, near century old building at the corner of York and Elm, I found the interior space to be tasteful, albeit smaller than I expected.   But to say that I was underwhelmed with the merchandise is a understatement.

Clearly they are targeting a younger market, and I had known their prices would be on the higher side.  But keeping that in mind, I found their offerings to be both lacking in taste as well as quality.  80% of what I looked at was made in China (such as a sweater priced at over two hundred dollars), a fact communicated by the feel before I even got to the tag.

In keeping with current trends, it would appear to me that most of their focus as well as funding is being funneled into their P.R. and marketing.  By far, the most appealing aspects were the most amicable fellows who were managing the store.

We took a break and headed over to The Educated Burgher.  This is almost next door to the old Yale Co-op location.

We then walked over to what continues to be my favorite store of all time, J. Press.  As I have mentioned before, Gabe has passed away, and Ralph has retired.  But fortunately James is still there.

There were dozens of items that were tempting, including the fabulous green Shaggy Dog sweater.  But for this trip we just picked up the appropriate university (Schoolboy) scarf to give as a host gift for an upcoming party in the city. 

We returned to our car via the always beautiful Yale Campus.  And we are looking forward to our next trek  back.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Quasi-Heartbreak of Giving Great Gifts

Leather Man Key rings ready to be wrapped

There is that familiar moment that occurs in early December.  The presents that you have ordered  arrive, ready to be wrapped.  And for that day, you can see them all together, and they look fabulous.

One is struck for just a moment with that thought, "What if I just kept them all?  I could hoard them in my middle drawer. No one would know. And every day I could look at them."

The moment then passes.  And it is back to wrapping,  looking up addresses and writing cards.