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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Original Norma Kamali Swimsuit for $98.00

This is almost too good to be true! Sucha deal.  A sale on Norma Kamali swimsuits just showed up on my radar system. I just ordered the Norma Kamali original Swimsuit ( as seen in Vogue, Sex and the City, and Mamma Mia) for $98.00 USWord: This is not the Walmart version.  This was a special offer that I received today in the mail, and hey, I pointed and click right over to NK and ordered one in Black.   I had to order first before I told anyone else.  But now the secret is out.  NK swimsuits usually retail for about $300.00 USD.  Grab it while you can! :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jodi Arnold Collection on Sale at The Limited

Pictured: My Top Pick from Jodi Arnold's Limited Collection just went on sale.

This just in, the amazing Jodi Arnold collection has just hit the sale racks at The Limited.  I noticed this one tonight while browsing my wish list, and voila there it is.  I'm savoring the savings, because I truly love what Jodi did for The Limited.  I bought the above teal top with the golden embellishments at the shoulders a few weeks ago and I love it.  It has become my go to weekend going out top.  This gorgeous piece is now on sale for $48.65. The fabric is polyester, but it looks and feels as luxurious as silk.  And the bronze sequins make it look rich.  Pair it with white capris or slim black pants for a great going out outfit.  I wish Jodi's The Limited collection would get as much buzz as say, Zac Posen for Target.  No offense to Zac Posen, but his Target collection can't hold a candle to Jodi Arnold for The Limited (my opinion as a consumer.)  There is no comparision in the cut of the garments, the finishing of the hems and the seams, plus the zippers on Jodi's The Limited collection dresses, well they work.   Another favorite of mine from Jodi's The Limited collection is the below blue floral dress.  The same print is available as a top.  For both pieces the top is attached to the collar band by a row of little covered buttons.  It's ingenious and beautiful.  These are the unique touches that made Jodi a stand out as a designer. 

Pictured: The Blue Floral Dress from Jodi Arnold's The Limited collection is simply stunning, and recently reduced to $68.68! 

Unlike some lower priced designer collaborations, with Jodi Arnold for The Limited, the budget for the clothes seems to be in the clothes, not in a glitzy marketing campaign or in a party with celebrities being photographed wearing the clothes in an effort to convince you how cool they are.   I have never received a product sample of Jodi Arnold for The Limited or even a press release or email  from someone at The Limited (note to the FTC, this is not a sponsored post.) I have bought several of the pieces, and I have the credit card statements to prove it! I just love the clothes and I write about them because I believe they are good value for consumers. Jodi Arnold for The Limited is affordable chic that I will be wearing for years.  Her designs are not going to be good for just one season, because the are timeless.  If you haven't checked it out, point and click here.  If you order from the website, use code 232 for free shipping! Enjoy the savings.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Customize Your Frappuccino Blended Beverage at Starbucks

Now Starbucks is letting you can customize your very own Frappuccino® blended beverage. How will you express your love for this sweet indulgence? The possibilities are nearly endless - and the choice is all yours.
Plus, it's now Happy Hour at Starbucks! Try a Frappuccino  your way for Half-Price from 3-5pm! (until May 16, 2010).  Here are some of the choices to customize your drink.

Choose Your Milk
Will it be nonfat, 2%, whole or soy?

Pick Your Coffee
Extra coffee? A shot of espresso? Decaf perhaps?

Lower Your Calories

Add the Fun Stuff
A little drizzle? Chocolaty chips? Whipped cream?

To check it out, visit your local Starbucks or

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gap's New Collection of Tees and The American Woman Exhibit, from Flapper to Siren

Pictured: The Gap's Screen Siren Tee, I love the draping on the front, and the back.
Frugal fashion provider Gap is the sponsor of the new exhibit, "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity." To celebrate,   Gap has designed a limited collection of tees that are based upon the fundamental archetypes of the American Woman.

Tees in the collection are aptly titled the "Heiress" and the "Gibson Girl" (1890s), the "Bohemian" (early 1900s), the "Suffragist" and "Patriot" (1910s), the "Flappers" (1920s) and the "Screen Siren" (1930s). While some of the Tees look pretty ordinary (look at the Gibson Girl, and wonder, why?) , there are two I like.  Check out the white "Flapper Tee" with the little ruffles and the super sexy, "Screen Siren" (think Carol Lombard). The tees retail for $34.50 and $44.50.

Pictured: The Gap's "Flapper' Tee is part of the new collection of Tees inspired by the exhibit, "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity."

In addition to the Tees, Gap head designer Designer Patrick Robinson has teamed up with young designers Alexander Wang, Rodarte, Thakoon and Sophie Theallet to design gowns to be worn by celebrities attending the gala.  After the gala, these gowns will be auctioned off with proceeds going towards The Costume Institute.  Starting May 5, 2010 and through the entire month of May, Gap’s pop-up shop at 680 Fifth Avenue at 54th Street in New York City will be transformed into a salon displaying the dresses designed by Alexander Wang,  Rodarte, Sophie Theallet and Thakoon. Open to the public, the display will offer a firsthand look into some of the Met Gala’s red carpet couture. Additionally, a silent auction of the dresses will be offered at, with all proceeds being donated by Gap to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in support of The Costume Institute. Bidders can log on to see each dress take shape from sketch to reality while learning more about the designers and their inspirations for each piece.  If you are in New York, and you see the dresses, drop a comment, and let me know how they look. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Hidden Treasure: Petit Ermitage Hotel Los Angeles

Pictured: The rooftop garden at the Petit Ermitage is a hummingbird and butterfly sanctuary. (photo: M.Hall)

A few weeks ago I stumbled up a little treasure trove here in Los Angeles. Works of art worthy of a museum. City views. A rooftop pool filled with warm salt water like the last Tsar had at his palace in Tsarskoye Selo. A garden where butterflies and hummingbirds hover. Moroccan tiles shine on the floors, and unique antique furnishings are abundant. There's even a samovar behind the bar. It's like stepping into a different country. Like leaving Los Angeles, without ever setting foot at the airport.

What manner of place is this? Well, it's a unique boutique hotel hidden away on a quiet residential street in West Hollywood. This is the world of the Petit Ermitage. Like it's namesake, the museum The Hermitage in Russia, the hotel contains a fascinating collection of art and furnishings. The hotel is operated by the brothers Ashkenazy. The Ashkenazy family has a rich history in managing luxurious hotels. But unlike some of the other hotels the family has run, the Petit Ermitage, offers the luxury without the five star price. The average daily rate at the hotel is $185.00 (US) for a demi suite. Lower rates are available depending on availability for $150.00 (US.) In contrast, rooms at the nearby Chateau Marmont start at $395.00 (US.) That's quite a differential. Unfortunately, Los Angeles is not a city known for affordable hotel stays.

Although it's budget friendly, the Petit Ermitage is not a budget experience. You would not know this is a hotel  from passing by it on the street since the facade discreetly blends into the neighborhood. It looks like an apartment building, which at one time it was. Inside the hotel is luxurious. There are Ertés hanging on the walls that most of us have only seen in vintage collections of Harper's Bazaar magazine covers. The Ertés are only a part of the hotel's extensive and beautiful art collection. Art decorates every part of the hotel.  The day I stopped by the owner was overseeing the painting of murals in one of the bathrooms in the hotel.

Pictured: The  Erté print "Applause" greets visitors as they board the hotel's elevators. (photo: M.Hall)

Like a luxury European hotel, a private butler is on staff and available to guests who upgrade to deluxe suits if they need a little extra pampering. Despite the services of the butler, most guests seem content to enjoy sunning themselves at the pool or enjoying a quiet lunch/dinner in the garden.

Pictured: The hotel's rooftop pool is a great place to escape to read or snooze in the sun. (photo courtesy of the Petit Ermitage)

I had the occasion to try the food at the hotel and it was delicious and very European inspired. Likewise, the hotel's coffee is a strong European blend served from the press pot. For me, as for most travelers, excellent food and delicious coffee are key criteria in choosing a hotel. A good cup of coffee sets the tone for the whole day, and I hate it when I have to leave the hotel and go outside to get my coffee.

The hotel manager, Stefan Ashkenazy notes that "our mission is to be transformational."   Throughout the hotel, there are many hand selected decorations, and carefully placed objects d'art on display. There's even an old gramophone in the lobby that still plays. Everything was carefully orchestrated by Mr. Ashkenazy (the hotel's decorator) to give the hotel a distinctive look and feel. There's everything from Indonesian wattle fencing, to a shabby chic table salvaged from the roadside on Pacific Coast Highway.  And it works.  The combination of the art, the views, the food, and the pool all conspire to deliver a unique experience to the visitor. Mr. Askenazy notes that many local Los Angeles residents check into the hotel as an escape just as visitors from New York and Europe do. Some local residents have even been invited to enjoy the hotel as a private club.  [note to self, try to get invited.: ) ] As club members, guests can come and enjoy the rooftop pool, the bar and other amenities without checking in.

Pictured: The Butterfly bar at the Petit Ermitage Hotel, offers Russian inspired cocktails. 
(photo courtesy of the Petit Ermitage)

You only have to see this bar, to understand why people might want to join this club. The hand painted Butterfly bar on the top floor is a relaxing place to enjoy a cocktail. One of the hotel's signature cocktails is the Babochka . Mention this article and you will receive a complimentary "Babochka" when you are booked as a guest. Babochka means butterfly in Russian.   This drink is a mixture of Grey Goose Pear Vodka, Fresh Lemon, Lime, Cucumber and Mint that offers soothing comfort.  Just what is needed after a long day out shopping for bargains! Beyond the cocktails and the coffee, the hotel offers a shuttle bus to The Grove mall for some premier shopping. Many hotel guests enjoy checking in after Nov. 15th to do their Holiday shopping in the temperate climate of Los Angeles at the nearby shops.

Whether you're local to Los Angeles, or visiting, the Petite Ermitage Hotel has much to offer as both a comfortable hotel, and an artistic experience. Locals may want to explore it as a place to host a small private event (bridal shower, birthday) or enjoy a staycation. For business travelers, the hotel is equipped with wireless Internet and business services. As I learned, once you discover this little hideaway, you will inevitably wish to return.