Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Are You Doing New Years Eve?

Happy New Year to my dear bloginistas (bloggers with style!) and friends and strangers who read this humble rag.
For many years I had a business that provided decor. So when New Years Eve rolled around, I was usually engaged to decorate a party or two. Most were huge events, though some were more intimate house parties.
Valorie Hart Designs
The huge fabulous Lichtenstein always hangs in this office building lobby.

The giant pine cones were added as the seasonal decor.

The party decor took its cue from the painting.

Each table had linen color picked out from the painting.

The flowers were arranged both high and low,
and the flower choice was simple: red tulips in winter!

I never resented working New Years day into eve. My crew was a great collection of talent, and we became friends through the years, so we made the job our special party. Before I became a business woman I had a show business career, so often I worked in a club on New Years Eve.
Valorie Hart Designs
This event is at The Brooklyn Museum.

I love the glass block floor lighted from below.

The statues are the museum's, but I brought in the fountains.

On the rare New Years Eve that I wasn't working I preferred to go to a party that I could walk to from my brownstone on 15th Street. New Years Eve in New York is brutal. Everything is overpriced. It's cold, so that evening shoes and a cute little party dress gets a lot of wind up the skirt. Taxis are impossible to get, and if you do get one, you pay triple the meter. Many a time I had to resort to the subway, sharing it with puking teenagers, or worse yet standing alone on a cold train platform at midnight into the new year waiting and waiting for a train to come.
Valorie Hart Designs
The Mac Daddy of all New Years party locations: The Rainbow Room!
Gold and silver and white were the obvious choices.
We made the huge cocktail filled with lights behind the long buffet table.

The best party outside of putting on some slinky pajamas and laying out a supper of every exotic and expensive food we loved (caviar, smoked salmon, pheasant, oysters, lobsters, chocolate), was a little supper party given at a restaurant around the corner from my home called Luxe; it was given by my friends Timothy Pope and Robin Berg.
It was s sit down dinner for twelve. I decorated of course, and I recall vast quantities of white narcissus flowers and candlelight. After dinner we danced to big band music. It was an unusually warm night, and with a fire roaring in the fireplace of our private dining room, we were overheated. We threw open the windows at midnight, and tossed flowers to the passersby.
Valorie Hart Designs
This is a party at The Puck Building
It was called White Winter Wonderland
Lucite chairs, tons of white branches and lights,
iridescent table lines, white Amaryllis, lots of candle light
made this one of my favorites, and a favorite of my clients.
I revamped this look for many a wedding!

Loading docks on New Years aren't fun either. There is so much stuff that has to be schlepped to make a party. The logistics are worthy of a five star general planning a battle. There's never enough time no matter how early you can set-up, or how many magic crew people you amass. But somehow it all gets done, and we would all stand together and look at our handiwork, amazed that we did it. I always brought along a few bottles of Champagne for this moment to share with my decor squad. Glasses were lifted, toasts given, and off we went to a hot bath and a night at home.
Looking at photos of milestones usually include friends and family. Mine also include a body of work. But back then I was careless with my talent, and didn't think to document it all. The few photos I have were taken by Adam Anik and Juris Mardwig. And of course I have some tattered tear sheets I managed to save from editorials along the way.
Valorie Hart Designs
Brides Magazine Editorial
The idea was a church basement winter reception, for a bride on a budget.
Masses of red and pink mini carnations, herb topiary,
winter love birds, snow flakes, winter evergreens
were all used on a back drop of winter white.
I had to reproduce this party many times over after this editorial.

I never ever went to Times Square once. Except to decorate a party there in a now defunct restaurant called Nirvana. It was atop an odd little building on the median in Times Square. It had a perfect view below of the hoopla. Of course we were invited to stay for the party and enjoy the view, but we politely declined and scurried off home. This wasn't easy since all of Times Square is barricaded by the police in preparation for the massive crowds.

"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve"

When the bells all ring and the horns all blow
And the couples we know are fondly kissing.
Will I be with you or will I be among the missing?

Maybe it's much too early in the game
Ooh, but I thought I'd ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's eve?

Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it's exactly twelve o'clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year
New Year's eve

Maybe I'm crazy to suppose
I'd ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations
You received

Ooh, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance:
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's Eve?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beauty 101 My Corner Store

I am so lucky in so many ways. I love where I live: city-New Orleans; neighborhood-Garden District, just off Magazine Street where there are lots of great shops including practical ones like a small supermarket (The Breaux Mart), a well stocked Walgreens, Starbucks, a gas station with a great milk and bread store, and Beauty 101 right on my corner.
Beauty 101 carries full lines of top cosmetics (Nars, Smashbox, Bare Minerals, etc.) and skin care products, and they have recently added the cutest clothes, purses, and shoes.
This is Elizabeth who does the buying for the store, and she picks the best things by designers Juicy Couture, Robert Rodriguez, Trina Turk, Nanette Lepore, Luciana Padovan (shoes), Delman (shoes), Laura Matthews (handbags), and many others.
Right now there is a terrific sale going on. I picked up some great finds on the $50. rack.
So if you live in New Orleans and you got some cash for Christmas, get on over to Beauty 101 at 2728 Magazine Street (corner of Washington Avenue). Phone - 504 895-2869.
Don't you just love the decor in this place? It's super glam and girly, just the way we like it!
This pretty dress is on sale now. I think it was on the $50. rack!
There's a blog HERE and a web site HERE. Tell them the Visual Vamp sent you!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Una Noche de Garufa!

Tonight's the Night!
Una Noche de Garufa
This is the time we all come together
to break bread, and raise a glass
to the passing year, and the year ahead,
to each other for having survived
another year to dance a tango!
9 PM - ???
Delish Buffet!
The Best Tango Music!
Midnight Champagne Toast!
Hats and Horns!
Woo Hoo!
Una Noche de Garufa!
Please e-mail me today
or call
504 875-0526
to reserve.
$30. before 11 PM
$20 after 11 PM (no dinner included)
The Country Club
634 Louisa Street
New Orleans

Friday, December 26, 2008

Farewell Eartha Kitt

A sultry singer, dancer and actress who rose from South Carolina cotton fields to become an international symbol of elegance and sensuality, has died.
Her career spanned six decades, from her start at age 18 as a dancer with the famed Katherine Dunham troupe, to cabarets and acting and singing on stage, in movies and on television.
Through the years, Kitt remained a picture of vitality and attracted fans less than half her age even as she neared 80. The photo above shows her singing "Santa Baby" two years ago at The White House. The coincidence of her passing away on Christmas is remarkable.
She lived in Connecticut near her daughter Kitt Shapiro and her four grandchildren.Kitt, a self-proclaimed "sex kitten" famous for her catlike purr, was one of America's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys and nabbing a third nomination. She also was nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.
She starred with with Orson Welles on the stage in 1950, and had a steamy affair with him. He called her "the most exciting woman in the world." She was married to Bill McDonald from 1960-1965. She said the marriage failed because he expected her to be her stage personae all the time. He didn't like when she took off her eye lashes and took care of her baby.
On television, she was the sexy Catwoman on the popular "Batman" series in 1967-68.
The "Batman" series came to an end about the same time as Kitt's TV career. In an incident greatly publicized at the time, Kitt mentioned to Lady Bird Johnson at a White House luncheon that she was not pleased with how things were going in Vietnam. For four years afterward, Kitt performed almost exclusively overseas. She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, which allegedly found her to be foul-mouthed and promiscuous.
"I would not like to think my political stance kept me out of work, even though I know that is what happened," she said in 1995. "President Johnson called the network and said, 'I don't want to see that woman's face anywhere!' That's according to my CIA dossier."
Eartha Mae Kitt suffered crushing prejudice as a mixed race child. At the age of eight, her mother gave her away, and she was sent from the cotton fields of South Carolina to live with an aunt in Harlem in New York. Go HERE to read more about Eartha Kitt.
Eartha Kitt was an AIDS activist, a voting rights activist, and supported many humanitarian efforts. She spoke four languages, and sang in ten. She wrote several books. She was an intelligent, multi faceted woman of many talents. She overcame so much to achieve so much.
She was a role model.
Farewell Eartha Kitt.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Night Before Christmas Don't Rate My Space

My first experience with interior design in cyberspace was the HGTV site Rate My Space. During that time I learned alot. And I made a few pen pals and friends. For many reasons, it got stale and was creatively limited, and eventually I started my blog.
Last Christmas a guy from RMS who went by the screen name "rainhound" wrote this poem for all of us. He had to painstakingly load it in several segments on the comments section. RMS scrooged him, and removed it as inappropriate.

rainhound and and I struck up an e-mail correspondence, and he sent me the poem and I saved it. His real name is Michael, and here's his Christmas poem dedicated to the decorators who sit behind the computer screen.
I think all the bloginistas out there will enjoy it.

Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through Rate My Space

Not a designer was stirring, they had finished their place.
The knick-knacks were placed by the chimney with flair,
Hoping that Candice soon would be there.
The decos were nestled in their redesigned beds,
While visions of countertops danced in their heads.
With Mom in her study, and I with no space,
We fired up our computers...just in case.
When out on the Main Page new postings arose,
And I just had to see them, it was too late to close.
This HGTV passion had infected my soul,
So I opened up Windows and started to scroll.

A brand new space with a designer unknown
Sparkled my screen with a room never shown.
Then, what to my too tired eyes should appear,
But a great antique couch, and a drapery so sheer.
With a wonderful vignette, so lovely...divine.
It was made out of glasses and apples and wine.
Colorful pillows were strewn all about,
And an unbelievable armoire that I just had to tout!
"So rate this! Please rate this! And rate this some more!
Yes, one star! Yes two stars! Yes three stars, now four!
To the top of the ratings! I'll give this five stars!
This is higher than Mercury, Venus, and Mars!"

Though their color was off, their execution was stellar.
They created a great room down in their cellar.
A tidy clean kitchen with a sweet breakfast nook,
It looked like just something you would see in a book.
Off in the corner (much to my surprise),
Appeared a dear pet with welcoming eyes.
As I took it all in, what then did appear
Down my cheek it did run, a single small tear.
The room was dressed up from cornice to floor,
And the room was so perfect I just wanted more.
A tree done in ornaments from Christmases past,
They were done decorating, finally, at last.
The lights they did twinkle! the flowers did glow!
And out through the window was new fallen snow!
The frost on the windows was the finishing touch,
It warmed my heart dearly, I loved it so much.
The drapes were tied back, with tassels just right
And the mantle adorned was such a delight.
There was a pot-bellied stove so pleasantly round,
With a warm soothing fire and logs in a mound!
With textures so rich and fabrics so bold,
Some looked to be new while others quite old!
With a twist of decor and a small bit of whimsy,
It all looked secure and nothing looked flimsy.

I posted a comment that ended "Nice Job!"
No intent to offend this kind, gentle mob.
I entered my ramblings with the click of my mouse,
I had really enjoyed this very fine house!
My emotions were drained, t'was the time that I dread.
For the time had now come that I put it to bed.
But I said to myself as I left this grand site,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Thank you Michael aka rainhound. Photos from the Rate My Space folks: mom of a german shorthair, frenchkilt, mariposa490, nyclq, cat73, picklepoo, kathyb5.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The First Day Of Winter

Happy first day of winter! It's the solstice, another season turning.Though it's the first day of winter in the northern's the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere.
Botanical Garden Buenos Aires today

Some of you are snowed in, and some of you are not. My trumpet vine is blooming like crazy (as are the Sweet Olive and Night Blooming Jasmine). All the plants in the yard were unfazed by the unusual snowfall we had last week in New Orleans.
I'm cleaning out my clipping files, so you 're going to get one of those lazy scrap booking kind of posts today, of all the white inspiration things I've collected, under today's heading of Winter White. I'm dumping them after this. Do you ever clean out your files? Delete stuff?
I know it's lazy, lazy, lazy, but sometimes I just want to zone out and look at the pretty pictures.
I collect them on Google Images, and I am too careless to document all the sources. So if you see a photo that's yours, please let me know and I will gratefully give credit where credit is due.
I recently caught up with a story about a beloved blogger who disappeared some months ago. I haven't removed her from my blog roll, because I think she's really there somewhere.
It's Felicity from All Things Bright and Beautiful. She was a pure blogger. I won't bother to give you her link, because it ain't dere no more. She self deleted.
She never divulged her identity. Her cute little avatar was a girl with a big hat hiding her face (it reminded me of the New York City food critic Gael Greene).We knew she was a mother with young children, and a photographer. We knew she lived in Asia.
She was always so cheerful and sweet. She commented on other blogs, and supported newcomers (me included). She wrote great tutorials on the nuts and bolts of blogging, written in language that non tech gals could understand.
She published the most beautiful photos, always taking care to make sure they were of the highest quality, both in selection, and in clarity. She was a stickler about copy rights.
Many bloggers are so good about giving credits with the photos they use. I am not. It's just too much for me to track down sources, or even type in names and check that they are accurate. We are all drinking from the same well so to speak, and many of the photos that show up are used over and over by all of us.
When I do a piece on a photographer, or I know the designer, or I know the blogger, or I know the writer, or I know the arist, then of course, I give lots of credit and links.
Otherwise I depend on you seeing your work and hopefully not kicking my ass for using an image without a credit line.
Before you get all righteous and write me mean things (mostly from you anon haters), I have not seen one blog that doesn't get story ideas, photos, or copy from other sources with or without credit given.
Blogging has changed the way materials are used, and I think copy right laws will change in time too. I respect the talent that makes the original material, but I don't have time to do the right clerical thing. Sorry. When I get flush, I'll hire an assistant to take care of that detail.
Sometimes a blogger actually uses all their own original photos, and they ask that you e-mail them for permission. This I will do. In fact in the next couple of weeks, I have someone to present to you and she was very sweet about granting permission.
In fact most bloggers are very generous in the sharing department.
But back to Felicity. Apparently she had a real meltdown because the blogging got the best of her, as in it being an addiction. Her three year old child would beg mommy to please stop blogging. Cholo begs me to stop too.
The remarkable thing is that Felicity had just been blogging for one year. I've said this before, but I think one month in blog time, is like uber dog years or something.
I have my moments of not wanting to blog, and I went cold turkey for a couple of weeks. At first it's really hard not to open the reproachful laptop. But after a few days, it gets easier to disconnect.
The blogosphere goes on without you of course. A few friends made along the way, do send e-mail to make sure you're not laying dead and alone with the cats eating your flesh (remember Miranda in Sex And The City having that fear?). Felicity even disconnected her e-mail!
After awhile, I went back to blogging. It's a part of my life now, and I like it that way.
Felicity said she was always preoccupied and thinking about what to write on her blog. I can relate to that. Creative people are like ticking non sequitors, one thought leading to another willy nilly. There's always noise and excitement rattling around in the old cabeza. It's a real bother to deal with everyday things like house work, meals, and chores.
It takes real effort to stay in the world, and not just do the thing that excites you. But even achieving that balance is a tightrope of excitement. I just got a job that let's me use my blogging skills. I could not be happier. I feel like an angel came into my life.
I like my process, because it's me. I've always been like this. Of course there comes a time to crash and chill, and I do that very well too.
I'm glad there are so many others like me, and so many others who love me and understand and appreciate my crazy ass arty ways. I feel the same way about them.
By the way, if you'd like to read Felicity's letter from the other side, go tho Corrine's terrific blog Hidden In France. She and Felicity were great blog friends. They never met. But they had a bond, and Felicity didn't leave her friend worrying about the cats eating her flesh.
Could you ever delete your blog the way Felicity did?
I think Felicity's story would make a great screen play...