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Friday, March 28, 2014


I often think that I was born in the wrong century.  My love of traditional and enduring things seems, at times, out of step with our modern, throw-away culture.  I value clothing that is timeless and made to last rather than the latest trend or fad – a value that makes shopping quite difficult sometimes.  I also appreciate a sense of history, and with that, I have a great love for beautiful old homes.

Restorations are ongoing. . .

. . . And there are still houses waiting to be restored.

When it comes to beautiful old homes, the Cathedral Hill/Historic Hill area in St. Paul tops my list of neighborhoods.  Not only are there a large number of these historic homes, but the neighborhood also takes pride in restoring them to their former grandeur.  Note that I said restore rather than renovate.  Many of the restorations have had to correct and repair harm done by previous renovations, but the end result is worth it.  For me, this is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, and I am appreciative of their commitment to restoration.

A photo of my favorite home in this St. Paul neighborhood.

In my opinion, when it comes to beautiful and well cared for older homes, you can’t beat the Cathedral Hill/Historic Hill area of St. Paul.  A visit there takes your imagination back to a time when horse and buggies roamed the streets, and these homes were alive with young vitality.  There is a sense of calm for me as I let myself enter into that bygone era.  A calm that gives me new life in a not-so-traditional world.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I’ve mentioned several times how much I love colors.  Bright colors, pastel colors, rich colors, they are all wonderful and I love them.  Now that we’ve finally passed the Vernal Equinox, which announces the arrival of spring (although you’d hardly know it here in Minneapolis), I have been taking inventory of my spring clothing. 

One of the items that I especially love, from spring through fall, are cotton sweater vests, usually in bright or pastel shades.  In looking at what I have on hand there are few colors that I’m missing and will be looking to add.  The first of these was a pink sweater vest.

I spent the first few weeks of March trying to find this coveted pink vest but to no avail.  While I could find lots of long sleeved sweaters, even in pink, sweater vests were almost impossible to find.  Several retailers told me they were only a fall item.  When I was able to find them, they were mostly in darker hues – I’m assuming left over from fall.

I had no idea how difficult it would be to find a pink cotton sweater vest for spring.

A couple of retailers did carry a few sweater vests, and even had them in bright spring colors, but none of the retailers had them in pink.  Some checked to see if they could order them, and found that they couldn’t.  One could order the vest in eleven pastel shades but didn’t have it in pink.  I began to think that I had assumed, apparently incorrectly, that pink might be a spring color.

What saddened me about this was that I was putting together a particular outfit and it was the only piece I was missing. I had looked at several downtown stores and a couple of shopping malls – including the Mall Of America, but no pink sweater vests were to be had. 

I was about to lose heart as I entered one last shopping mall to continue my quest.  I checked at several stores and started feeling that it might be a fruitless venture, when I finally found it at Macy’s.  It was a muted pink sweater vest from Polo Ralph Lauren.  I had been in several Macy’s stores in the area and none of them carried this vest so I was surprised when I found it there.  Needless to say, I loved it and picked it up right away.

These items are the beginnings of a great outfit I have planned.

I will continue to search for a light pastel pink sweater vest, but in the meantime, I must admit that I really love the pink Polo sweater vest I finally did find.  The color was perfect, and it was well worth the wait!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Following closely on the heals of St. Patrick’s Day, today is St. Joseph’s Day – my patron Saint’s day.  In celebration of the day I decided I would bake a traditional St. Joseph’s Day Bread.

Baking bread for St. Joseph’s Day actually goes back to the Middle Ages. During a Medieval drought and famine, no rain fell on Sicily, and food crops for humans and livestock withered and died.  The people of Sicily prayed to their patron Saint – St. Joseph - to help them.  Their prayers were answered, and the skies poured 
down the much needed rains.

I'm not sure why, but red is the color traditionally worn on St. Joseph's Day, 
and so these items (mostly from Brooks Bothers) have found their way into my outfit today.  Please leave me a message below if you know the origins of wearing red today.

In thanksgiving for the harvest that ensued, the people built an altar to St. Joseph, and filled it with a wide variety of foods in his honor.  The food was then blessed and later distributed to the poor.  From this humble beginning, this tradition continued to grow and has been handed down to us today.

This is a typical St. Joseph's table.  
Note the elaborate heart, fish, and wreath shapes of the breads.  
(Image from

A traditional St. Joseph’s Altar has three tiers – representing the Trinity – and is filled with many different kinds of food, however, various breads are the main items.  These breads are baked into elaborate shapes that often represent scriptural symbols – especially those related to St. Joseph.  A quick search online produced what seems to be generally held as a traditional St. Joseph’s Day Bread recipe – this recipe turned up on numerous websites.

I’ve never baked bread from scratch before so this was a new experience for me.  The recipe was fairly simple, and I think it turned out fairly well for my first attempt. It certainly tasted good.

This is my first attempt at making a traditional St. Joseph's Day Bread.  
Though not as elaborate as some, it was still delicious!

The breads blessed on a St. Joseph’s table are always shared with the poor, and so I took my bread to work and shared it with my co-workers.  While they may not technically be “the poor,” they did enjoy the thoughtful gesture and treat.  They also were able to learn a little bit more about this wonderful Italian tradition that celebrates my patron Saint, St. Joseph.

  (Image at the top from

Monday, March 17, 2014


While I love, and mostly wear, bright colorful clothing, the quintessential prep colors are generally held to be pink and green.  Don’t get me wrong, amidst the rainbow colors in my closet, these two are well represented and are often worn together . . . except on March 17th.

Let me start by saying I don’t possess an ounce of Irish blood (my heritage is from Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg), and yet on St. Patrick’s Day, I’m an active participant in the “wearing of the Green.”  But how did this tradition begin?

My St. Patricks Day Outfit.
Mint Green Shirt: Polo Ralph Lauren
Green Corduroy Pants: Lands' End
Tie: Vintage
Shoes: Bostonian Cordovan Cap Toe
Socks: Bugatchi
Watch: Timex
Watchband: Brooks Brothers
Beads: Just For FUN!

There are many legends that explain this and I’m not certain that we can point to any one them definitively.  I suspect they have all played a role in inputting this tradition. 

Let me first give some background to St. Patrick.  Patrick was actually born in England (not Ireland).  When he was in his teens he was captured and taken to Ireland where he was sold as slave.  After a half of dozen years or so, he managed to escape and returned home, where he converted to Christianity and later became a priest.  Eventually Patrick would become a Bishop and would choose to return to Ireland to evangelize the natives. He mission succeeded, and the entire island was converted to Christianity.  Patrick died on March 17, 461, and remained a relatively obscure person until a resurgence of interest in him grew several centuries later, leading to his canonization and the celebrations honoring him today.

It’s interesting to note that Patrick’s original color was actually blue and not green.  So how did green become the traditional color associated with him?  There are many thoughts on this.  Some say it’s to represent the lush green countryside of Ireland, while others point out the habit established by pre-Christians of wearing sprigs of green on the Vernal Equinox, which happens just days after March 17th.  Still others will mention the legend of the green shamrock that Patrick used to teach about the Trinity. The truth is, no one knows for certain.

One thing we do know, is that as time went on, whether for religious or political reasons, people took to wearing green shamrocks on their clothing on March 17th, thus the “wearing of the green.”  Eventually this custom evolved into wearing green clothing, and that tradition has continued on to today.

Regardless of how we arrived at it, green is definitely the standard color for St. Patrick’s Day.  With that in mind, here’s hoping you’ll be “wearing of the green” today too!


(Top image is from

Friday, March 14, 2014


One of my favorite blogs that I follow religiously is Sven Raphael Schneider’s, Gentleman's Gazette.  Raphael has an extensive knowledge of classic, quality men’s clothing and accessories, so it came as no surprise to me when I learned that he had launched his own clothing line, Fort Belvedere.

Sven Raphael Schneider of Gentleman's Gazette.

Named for the country estate of the Duke of Windsor (who I consider a style icon), this collection reflects the commitment to quality and detail that is so lacking in men’s clothing today.  Many of the once great men's clothing companies have transitioned to the trendier fads that we are seeing nowadays.  So much so, that you have to search diligently to find items that still reflect that traditional look that established these companies as leaders and innovators of men’s clothing.

A beautiful array of scarves in cashmere, silk, and alpaca.

Some of my favorite ties.

These great socks have just a hint of added color.

Sean is looking quite dapper for the evening.

When so many companies have given way to the contemporary trends, it’s refreshing to see someone come new to the scene who has the love and commitment to classic styling and quality that Raphael has.  That same love and commitment is reflected in his clothing, which is what makes Fort Belvedere a line to watch.

This week I attended a trunk show for Fort Belvedere held at Goorin Bros. Hat Shop a few blocks my home, and had the opportunity see this line up close.  I was not disappointed.

Goorin Bros. Hat Shop hosted this spectacular event.

Teresa was ready to help answer any question we had.

A few of the lovely silk boutonniere flowers.

I found way too many bow ties that I loved!

I totally loved the handlebar moustache Yaz was sporting.

The quality of the merchandise met my expectations and I was impressed at how much attention was paid to the smallest details.  Raphael works with suppliers to ensure the fabric quality is top notch, that the patterns are consistent, and that the final construction is exemplary.  I was especially impressed by the consistency of the hand roll on the ties and pocket squares. 

The evening featured the perfect accessories for any outfit.

Teresa pointing out the beautiful ties that were available.

The Goorin Bros. ambiance added to the evening.

Speaking of the pocket squares, I fell in love with their wool squares.  They are smaller in size, which I like, and fit the pocket really well.   I liked the weight of the material – sturdy but not bulky, and loved the cool palette of colors he chose for them.  I also liked their silk squares, which come in a nice weight as well – I find that many silk squares are often too thin to work with.  Again these provided the needed volume without being too bulky.

These hand sewn peccary gloves were amazing.  The yellow ones were my favorite.

A rainbow of knit ties.

I especially liked these reversible scarves.

Sean and Yaz were a couple of sharply dressed men.

It’s no secret how much I love ties, and Fort Belvedere didn’t disappoint there either.  I found way to many bow ties that I loved, and several long ties as well!  Rounding out the collection, there were amazing scarves in cashmere, silk, and alpaca, along with some great socks, that feature just a hint of two-toned color for fun, and some wonderfully soft peccary gloves.  Finally, there were collar pins and bars, and a variety of wonderful silk flower boutonnieres to finish off the details of any outfit.

These well dressed gents kept a watchful eye on the evening.

Fort Belvedere carries an amazing line of products and is definitely a brand to watch.

Raphael and Teresa.

Raphael and his wife Teresa are a delightful couple, and it was such a treat to meet them.  They are warm, friendly, and passionate about their products.  This passion is reflected in the quality of this collection, and I can say, with confidence, that Fort Belvedere is definitely a brand to watch.  It offers top-notch quality – at an accessible price - that is only going to get better and better!