Monday, March 30, 2009

Speaking of Signage...

I just stumbled upon this old photo of my grandfather's camera shop on Post Street in San Francisco. I love the old neon sign.

He retired and closed the shop in 1978 after decades of being part of the downtown scene. In fact, you can see the "retiring" signs in the windows. Now his shop is a "memory" in the Crocker Galleria. Sad but true.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And the Winners Are...

(trophy ribbons photo from velvetstrawberries)

Sincere thanks to all of you for your participation in the Paris Hotel Boutique Spring Fling Giveaway! Your wonderful comments and reciprocal blogs posts were greatly appreciated. And, thanks to you, I have a whole new list of blogs to read!

A click at selected the winners...

1st Prize - Edgar & Edgar (Antique Souvenir Box)

2nd Prize - Real Card Studio (Colette: A Provincial in Paris book)

3rd Prize - The Pickled Hutch (19th Century French calligraphy pen & a handwritten French receipt)


Friday, March 27, 2009

Disappearing Store Fronts

Claudia (The Paris Apartment) just told me about this amazing coffee table book called, "The Disappearing Face of New York." It's about New York's traditional mom-and-pop store fronts being replaced with chain stores or closing. It breaks my heart to see this happening in cities all over the world.

This fabulous book is compiled by photographers, James and Karla Murray, and beautifully captures the neon and hand-painted signs, old doors, peeling paint, aging steel, and the items hanging in the front windows of these shops and restaurants.

Richard's Barbershop, Brooklyn, closed 2006

Manhattan Furrier, Brooklyn 2004

Chain stores are posing a serious threat to these humble institutions and are replacing the unique appearance and character of the beautiful streets. I'm sure you see it in your cities as I see it here in San Francisco. It breaks my heart to see a beautiful Art Deco theatre turned into a gym, or a snazzy old cocktail lounge turned into a Starbucks.

Long Island Restaurant, Brooklyn, since 1951

Katy's Candy Store, in business from 1969-2007, Brooklyn

The text accompanying each image in the book mentions the year the store opened and often includes detailed remembrances of the stores' histories obtained through interviews with managers or owners.

Reynold's Bar, One of the last Irish bars in the neighborhood. Manhattan, 2004

Almost all of these businesses are a reflection of New York's early immigrant population, a wild mix of Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Poles, Eastern Europeans and later Hispanics and Chinese.

Ideal Dinettes, Brooklyn, in business 1953-2008

D. D'Auria and Sons Pork Store, Little Italy of the Bronx, in business from 1939-2006

We can get involved in preserving our ever-changing neighborhoods. The National Trust for Historic Preservation provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to save America's diverse historic places and revitalize our communities. Or contact your local city. In San Francisco we have the San Francisco Preservation Society.

I'd love to hear about your neighborhoods. What changes have you seen?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Great Find: Look For Fiddleheads

I just received the t-shirt I purchased from Look For Fiddleheads, a wonderful shop on Etsy. These vintage-inspired t-shirts are made by Lee, a Maine-based artist. Lee's designs are quirky and absurd pairings with reflective curiosities and experiential meanderings, inspired by rare newspapers (1832-1845) that belonged to her grandmother.

The name Fiddleheads is the result of Lee spending seasons with her stepmother who would take her to the woods to look for fiddleheads; (coiled up baby ferns). They would pick the fiddleheads and cook them for dinner (with a touch of vinegar, or butter, and some salt.) Cute, huh?

Lee has a great selection of shirts on her site in different colors and sizes. Tees are organic cotton or an eco blend, printed to order in a studio striving to be zero-waste. Check them out here. (Thanks Lee...I love my shirt!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just In From Beaudesert: "Beaton Sailors"

Awhile back I posted about Cecil Beaton's Fabrics' "Sketchbook Collection," inspired by Beatons' fashion sketches from his book 'The Glass of Fashion."

They just added some wonderful designs of "Saucy Sailors," also inspired by the book. The prints are available on silk, linen and wallpaper. Of course I was excited to see this, as I love anything Beaton!

"A stylish, fun nautical design depicting Sailors contentedly lounging off duty, in fresh fifties ice-cream colourways."

Also new from the Sketchbook Collection, "Beaton 1929" (below)

You can view the entire collection available here at Beaudesert Fabrics!

Photos courtesy of

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Must Have: The Diana Camera

Victoria at sfgirlbybay recently posted about her love of photography and one of her latest acquisitions, the retro-inspired, Diana Camera. This is the first I've heard of this camera line--I'm obsessed and think I may have to buy one!

Dating back to the early 1960s, the all-plastic Diana camera is a cult legend - famous for its "perfectly imperfect" dreamy, gorgeous, color-drenched, sometimes-blurry, and often mind-blowing images. It went out of production in the 1970's, has been reproduced, and is now available at Urban Outfitters and here.

The Diana has a panorama feature that allows for unlimited and nearly seamless panoramic shots. It's a point-and-shoot camera that uses film. Yes, that old thing called film.

Remove the lens, set the aperture to a super-small pinhole and shoot a super-wide-angle, severely old-school image through a tiny hole.

The "Diana" is basically a .35mm. "toy" camera. Great vintage designs. Reasonable prices. I'll follow up with Victoria to see how she likes hers. Or, I may be off to buy one myself...

And...they have this adorable camera case available. Love this!

Estate Sale Friday

I can't believe how quickly the week went by. Today was a gloomy, overcast day in San Francisco with 3 estate sales to go to.

The lines moved quickly except for this one (above) where they only let in a few people at a time. Small homes in San Francisco make it impossible to allow too many people in at one time.

Lots of knick-knack tables, but nothing that really caught my eye.

Not too much interest in anything here...

Cute pair of pink chairs, but a little petite for me...

I loved this pair of vintage chalkware bookends by Borghese. Unfortunately, one of the paws had a big chip. Too bad!

What a fun 1920's wooden ticket box from an old theater in Spokane, Washington. I thought it was a great prop, but what to use it for?

My purhcases from all three sales; a 1930's trophy for "accuracy typing" (love that), a sterling napkin ring and a vintage book. Hope to find more next week!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Let's celebrate Spring with a giveaway from Paris Hotel Boutique. If you can't spend April in Paris, perhaps one of these gifts can transport you there!

FIRST PRIZE: Bring home a souvenir... Antique French beveled glass souvenir casket box from Dinant La Citadelle.

SECOND PRIZE: Explore Paris with this great read, Colette: A Provincial in Paris. In this 1954 first edition, Margaret Crosland tells the story of this French legend, one of Paris' most colorful personalities and France's greatest fiction writer.

THIRD PRIZE: 19th Century French calligraphy pen & a handwritten French receipt dating to 1920.

Here is how the giveaway works. Starting today, you simply enter by leaving a comment on this post. Limited to one entry per person. Help me spread the news about the giveaway by mentioning it on your own blog and you'll get a second chance to enter. Simply enter a second comment alerting me of the mention.

The entries can be made until Friday, March 27 at 9:00 pm PST. The winners will be picked via on Saturday, March 28th and announced on this blog. I will contact the winners for your mailing addresses. You must provide a valid e-mail address or link to one.

Thanks! Good Luck! and HAPPY SPRING!!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Romantic Homes: The Paris Issue

Just received my April issue of Romantic Homes magazine. It’s the Paris issue…my favorite! Special thanks to Janet at FrenchBlue & Co. for including Paris Hotel Boutique’s ‘'hotel silver" in the “Ten Trends in Paris” feature. I’m thrilled to be included among Lanvin, Goyard, and my friend Lucy at Paris Flea Market!

This issue is brimming with goodies! The talented Sandra Evertson has a feature on creating charming custom place cards. She even provides her own artwork for you!

Claudia of The Paris Apartment (yes, you Claudia!) has written an 8-page story titled, “ The Art of Conversation” that you won’t want to miss. And, Larry Solomon (FrenchBlue’s husband) shares his experiences of the Paris Flea Market in “Le Marche de Paris.”

There are many more great features, some beautiful homes, including Janet Rodriguez’s French-style home, with her cute Bichon Frise on the cover! Check your newsstands or purchase a copy here.

Photos courtesy of Romantic Homes

Friday, March 13, 2009

Estate Sale Friday

I thought I'd start a post called "Estate Sale Friday" and share some of my adventures of searching for antiques at estate sales.

Going to estate sales is not as glamorous as one may think. In fact, it's quite exhausting as many of you know. Getting up at the crack of dawn to stand in line, rain or shine. Some camp out overnight in their cars to be first in line in the morning. I don't know about other cities, but the antique dealers here in San Francisco (yes, you guys) can be pretty competitive, ie; pushing and shoving people out of the way, ripping up sign-up sheets that we added our names to hours earlier, and more horrific stories.

I have been doing this for many years and have some "whopper" estate sale stories. I look forward to sharing them on this blog!

Thanks heavens today was a mellow day with a 10:00 am sale in the pretty city of Burlingame, 20 miles south of San Francisco. My friend Renee and I showed up about 1/2 early to be pleasantly surprised that there were only about 30 of us in line. Is that a bad sign?

What's this in the backyard? A preview of what's inside? Eeks!

Can anyone tell me what this is?

Nothing much to speak of in the kitchen...

A nice pair of brass sconces, but not quite early enough for me...

Love the room for it in the van...

Renee is checking out a vintage clock...

Nice silver set, but I think I'll pass...

Lovely crystal chandelier, but unfortunately it stays with the house...

This vintage inlaid chair is nice, but not quite my style...

An inlaid box...

Aha! Love this pair of Victorian chairs near the piano. They have carved musical instruments on the back...unique...perfect for a music room...okay, they're mine!

So there it is. A total of 45 minutes spent to wait in line, peruse the house, and buy a pair of chairs. But, not so fast...they need to go to the upholsterer to be glued and tightened. That's just part of the business. There were no "pushers and shovers" today. Just a mellow day.

Stay tuned for future Friday estate sales and join me in my hunt for treasures! Hope you enjoyed the sale. Hopefully next sale will be more successful!