Sunday, October 5, 2014

Flower Power! Flowers by Design

We're celebrating the flower and our new iCafe Woman Moderne motif.  Flowers take on many shapes in today's society. I'm not just talking about nature.  They're a popular muse for everyday designs from fashion to the home, and even a home.  Are you still with me?  Oh, I get it ... it's hard to take your eyes off that rose cocktail dress on the left... so sharp!

Miracles and Blessings ...Kiki here, back from wandering along the paths of a nearby arboretum on a beautiful Indian Summer day.  

Flower blooms are not just for Spring, the beauty of the mums are making their Autumn entrance with elegance and grace.  Nature's favorite beauties -- flowers and the power of flowers in today's designs -- headline this week's iCafe Woman Moderne's text-webisode:  Flower Power!  Flowers by Design ...Everyday Designs from the Runway to the Kitchen.  We're featuring more than a few.

I've always dreamed of wearing a rose-shaped dress.  To be exact, when I was planning my wedding, clearing my throat, years ago ... I designed, in my head, a rose-shaped bridal gown with the front at the knee and the rest, cascading to the floor at graduating lengths.  (The above is a chocolate rose shaped wedding gown from Vera Wang's 2012 collection.)  And they're still topping the popularity scale two years later.

Did I mention that I wanted my rose-shaped gown in pink or peach?  Well, Mom and my female cast of family members weren't having that.  Nope!  So I buckled, but still added my unique fashion stamp.  No, it wasn't my dream wedding dress.  But in all honesty, I didn't dream about my wedding day when I was a little girl, so I had no design in mind. 

 When I finally went full throttle on the wedding day planning, six months before, my rose cocktail dress/wedding gown bloomed back into my memory.   At the time, I didn't know my style was a modern with a vintage twist, but that's exactly what my wedding dress shaped into.    

  Unfortunately, I didn't get my rose-shaped wedding dress, but I carried a long-stemmed rose bouquet that matched my mother's--mine was, of course, peach.

(rose cupcake dress)

So yes, flowers play an important role in fashion and accessories.   Sex in the City's Carrie Bradshaw had no problem sporting a flower when a designer dress or shoe needed the Carrie touch.

Is Carrie's flower an accessory or part of the dress?  Either way works It's a statement piece you can't miss.  That's why she's Carrie Bradshaw.  I can also see her rocking these flower designed shoes below.

Flower Accessories

Flower design pops up in all shapes and designs from fashion and jewelry to luggage and home decor.


 These flower shaped chairs add comfort and conversation to any stylish living room.  

Place them next to these color petal-shaped tables and your guests won't want to leave.

Warm weather climates can certainly make the most of these flower-inspired sectionals for lounging around the pool.

 Flower design have also entered the office with Vianca's flower-shaped desk cubicle.


 It gets better.  A flower shaped salami?  Sure, why not would give any food display extra appeal.

We can even salute our new fall season with a carved flower-shaped pumpkin.  I'd gladly have one of these on my front steps instead of a scary Jack-o-Lantern.

 And here's a yummy alternative to the traditional pumpkin pies that I'm sure will be invited to many Thanksgiving dinners.

Hats and Headpieces 

(100 Layer Cake)

For decades, flowers were a longtime muse for hats and headpieces.  So you won't do a double-take when someone passes by wearing a daisy hat, right?  Well, maybe if you were attending the Royal Ascot in England and stumbled upon this smiling woman in an eyebrow-raising hat.

Kentucky Derby
 And this woman is not to be outdone by her at the Kentucky Derby.
 (Kentucky Derby)

But you'd probably get whiplash feasting your eyes on a house shaped like a daisy.

This flower-shaped house is the eco-friendly home of professional soccer player, Gary Neville.  It's designed with the kitchen as the “heart” of the home with several wings designated -- eat, relax, entertain, work, sleep and play — arranged around the central area (the kitchen) like petals on a flower.

Designed by Make Architects, this carbon zero home took three years to complete.

What do you think about a flower-shaped home?  Could you live in one?

Monday, July 7, 2014

See Jane Buy a Maxi Dress?

Our discriminating Jane is back, this time shopping for the perfect maxi dress.  She's opinionated and determined.  Let's see what she's up to for this week's iCafe Woman Moderne text-webisode.

Oh, for the love of stripes!  Can we please get away from the stripes, dominating today's maxi dresses?  It's hard to miss this abundance of small, big, diagonals, horizontals, verticals and a mix of horizontals and verticals, cropping up at a retail store near you. 

Sad but true, stripes are not always pleasing to a girl's figure, especially the horizontals.  But that fact alone doesn't stop store buyers from loading their racks with striped maxi dresses in an assortment of colors.

Affordable Maxi Dresses
Many of today's budget-friendly maxi dresses just don't make sense.  Yeah, I said it.  Back when every home had Fun with Dick and Jane next to their Encyclopedia Britannica, the affordable maxi dress style seemed to make better fashion sense.  At least it did in my Dr. Seuss-filled head.

Unfortunately, I was too young to wear one during its hey-day, but I managed to get my first and last maxi coat just before the fashion trend left the runway.   So yes, my review of yesterday's maxis come from an adolescent perspective.  And in all fairness to the maxi dress, I guess I should dig a little deeper now that I'm an adult.   I'll grab a pink shovel. 

Popular Again
Maxi dress designs stepped back into the fashion scene several years ago.   But the affordable ones, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) don't pass the fashion mustard.  The seventies dress below has the interesting Aztec design popular back then.  It looks like it flows when you move in casual and formal settings.  

I love the flattering neckline and empire waist that look great on most figures.  Many of today's affordable brands are clingy with plunging necklines.  I don't mind a feminine neckline that keeps the mystery alive.  But when it stops only inches away from your belly button, and your chest becomes a billboard--that's not for me.

Now I understand why lately I've spotted more women wearing tees under their maxi dresses.  Plunging necklines and clingy fabric are probably the culprit.  

After window-shopping maxi dresses for a few years, I finally tried on one a week ago at my husband's urging. 

Our dialogue went something this.

"You've got to try his on ... it's red and it's hot and it's only $16.99.  It's in my budget, so try it on."

"I don't know.  The neckline's too low, the material's cheap and it's a size too big.  That's the only one?"

"Yep, just try it on.  You keep shopping for maxis but you don't try any on."

"Because most of the ones I can afford are made from cheap material like this one ...have low necklines and have those lovely horizontal stripes I avoid like the plague.  Why do most of them have horizontal stripes.  I'm not trying to look wide."

After a few more back and forth comments, I tried it on just to shut him up.  As I suspected, the material was flimsy, the neckline too plunging and the shell bra could barely cover a clam shell.  

Join Us in the Great Room
Welcome to this week's iCafe Woman Moderne's text-webisode:  See Jane Buy a Maxi Dress?  Kiki sends her miracles and blessings from a nearby beach, slurping on a water ice.  You can call me Jane for this text-webisode as I review the good, the sad and the hopeful  (not necessarily in that order) ... as I search for my perfect maxi dress.  Maybe I'll find it by Labor Day.  A girl can dream.

If not, you may see Jane Buy a Vintage Maxi Pattern.  Okay, I know what you're thinking ...the vintage maxi to the left is a little out there.  That's why I love it so much.  

True it may not flatter many figures, mine included, but I like the uniqueness of it all.  It's eye-catching and definitely not cut from the same fabric and dress form you see in stores and online.  A lot of today's maxi dresses are too cookie-cutter for my taste.

Let's Recap
So let's recap.  I'm looking for different, figure-flattering, affordable and No Horizontal Stripes.

In early Spring, iCafe Woman Moderne presented some beautiful Clover Canyon maxis that unfortunately were not in my current budget.  But I'm not giving up, let's take to the superhighway and see what we find.

Let's start with the Good.

The Good Maxi 
I love this keyhole neckline.  It looks comfortable and the pattern reminds me of the sixties.  This would look great at the beach, a summer wedding or just a night on the town.  But since the model's walking on the runway, it's probably pricey.

This unique maxi would probably work better in the Fall.  You could wear this to work or at a cocktail party.  It's a definite head-turner.

This is exactly what I'm looking for.   You can dress it up or down and definitely budget-friendly.


Red is one of my favorite colors.  The neckline isn't too low.  And it looks like it would flatter my short-waisted figure.  Now I've got to find it in my budget.  That's the challenge.

So the keyhole and the scooped neck short-sleeved dresses are my winners.  But this comparison journey made me realize one thing. Today's stripes are yesterday's flowers.  As I dug into the maxi design, I discovered that the sixties and seventies flowered granny maxis were everywhere, just like today's stripes.  

The Sad Maxi Dress
Sure, there were a lot of cool geometric designs, but flowers ran the catwalks.  And yeah, there were plunging necklines, but mostly women had to contend with those puffy granny sleeves.  So I must admit, some of yesterday's maxi dresses didn't make fashion sense either.  Like the one below it a halter dress?  Is it a sarong?  Or should it cover grandma's couch?

This Michael Stars maxi is what I call too much -- too low, too see-through, too many stripes and not versatile enough.  A shrug may amp up its versatility.

Kenzie Women's Floral Camo

I'm not crazy about the camo flowers.  If I'm going with flowers, it has to be a softer look.  I don't want my dress to look like I'm ready for a hunting trip.

The Hopeful Maxi Dress
Clover Canyon maxi dresses are unique, eye-catching, artistic and are made in various fabrics from crepe de chine to jersey.  They're well-constructed and appear comfortable to wear.  Sale prices were a few dollars short of $200.  Regular prices are $250 and up.

Yes, there are some stripes, but they blend in with the vibrant pattern.  It looks like a beautiful abstract painting.

I made these chevron stripes an exception with this dress.  You can see how these diagonals slim you, keep the eyes moving and not focus on a problem area.

What about you?  Have you found your perfect maxi dress?  Send us a photo and we'll show it on a future text-webisode.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We Know It's Summertime Because...

Remember how we dreamed about spring as we stared at those snow drifts? Ugh!  We strained to see just one sign.  Before we knew it, the many signs of spring started popping up everywhere.   

Yes, cherry blossoms bloomed.  The sun stayed out longer to play.  Ice cream cones dripped from a growing number of hands. And those chirping birds carried new serenades. Yes, they too were happy spring was finally here. 

Sadly, it's almost time to bid spring a fond adieu as summertime makes it official in just 11 days.  

Miracles and Blessings, Kiki here ...just in time to help you through this fun transition.  In this week's text-webisode -- We Know It's Summertime Because... we'll give you our top ten signs that summer is here.

10.  We Play More! 

Just like First Lady Michelle Obama, we hula hoop, swim, bike, play frisbee and fly kites more in the summertime.  Basically we play more. 

From - First Lady Michelle Obama showed off her hula hooping skills while encouraging kids to exercise and adopt a healthier lifestyle at the Healthy Kids Fair on The White House South Lawn.

9.  We Visit Our Favorite Disney Princesses at Disney World and Disney Land.

This summer, many of us will make our annual or first-time trips to see our favorite storybook princesses:  Ariel, Aurora, Jazmine, Tiana, Pocahontas, Mulan, the Rapunzels, Belle, Cinderella, Merida, and Snow White.

8. Sweet Barbeque Aroma Stays in the Air

I woke up last Saturday morning to the sweet smell of barbeque from my neighbor's patio at just a few minutes before 8 a.m.  She was already halfway through her barbeque feast for her "Girls Day Out!" annual barbeque.  And of course, my family didn't have to worry about lunch that day.  Her barbeque was delicious!  Thanks again, Charlotte!

7.  Every Weekend There's a Family Reunion 

Don't forget to smile for the camera!  From the Hawaii shores to the Key West.  Yellowstone Park to Bush Gardens -- families gather to enjoy each other and great food.

                                                       (Family Reunion - Cracker Barrel)

Three Tips to Help You Plan a Memorable Family Reunion 

1.  Always plan a year ahead.  Try not to skip a year, or you may have less family members, joining the festivities.  Plan plenty of activities.  You may want to break some of them down by generations.  But make sure everyone comes together at the picnic, banquet and Sunday breakfast.

2.  If yours is a destination reunion, find reasonable packages, so everyone can afford it.  Your family planning committee should also do fundraising events throughout the year to offset the costs. You can also raise money to add special surprises, taking it up a notch.   Remember, you're aiming for memorable.

3.  Include a brochure or booklet that records the family history and family tree, including the newest additions and home-goings.  Also, create a website so family members can stay up-to-date on the plans and email suggestions.  And most importantly, you'll want to videotape.  Find a family member who is proficient in this area if you want to save on costs.

6.  Ice Cream, Water-Ice (Snow Cones, Shave Ice), French Fries, Caramel Corn ...Boadwalk and Beach Food We Love

We know it's summertime because'll eat more ice cream, water ice and caramel popcorn in the next three months than you've consumed all year. 

Where I live, you'll hear the delightful melody coming from trucks hawking Mister Softees, Jack & Jill and Good Humor on a daily basis.

You'll see a lot of these cones in Ocean City, New Jersey, Ocean City, Maryland and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  In fact, you'll find Kohr's soft serve ice cream on most boardwalks along the northeastern shores.

Along the Pacific shores, you'll find Ono (Delicious) Hawaiian shave ice at Matsumoto Shave Ice, a tourist and local favorite on the North Shore of Oahu, in Haleiwa, Hawai'i.  Whatever you do, don't call it shaved ice.  Locals call it shave ice and on the Big Island of Hawai'i -- ice shave.

What is this Ono shave ice?

It's made of shave ice of course, and local ingredients: guava, pineapple, coconut cream, passion fruit, li hing mui, papaya, lychee, kiwi fruit and mango syrups. Hawaiian shave ice is traditionally served in a conical paper inside a bright plastic cup with up to three flavors. 

Ask for an Hawaiian, you'll get pineapple, coconut and banana.  Ask for Tropical, expect guava, papaya and lilikoi. 

Crank up your shave ice on the delicious scale with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream and/or azuki beans on bottom of the cup.  Drizzle on condense milk on top called a snow cap, mochi balls (a Japanese rice cake) and li hing mui (salty dry plum) powder, which is salty and sweet.  It brings out the flavor of anything it's sprinkled on.   

Matsumoto's Azuki Special – Shave Ice with Mizore syrup, drizzled with condensed milk and mochi balls and tops a scoop of vanilla ice cream and azuki beans.

(Strawberry and Pina colada with Vanilla Ice Cream - Yelp)

5. Sunglasses' Sales Are Up

2014 high-end customer favorites at Neiman Marcus:  Ray Ban Aviators with Flash Lenses - $175, Prada Flower Square - $495 and Gucci Gradient Havana - $345.

(Ray Ban-left)                                 (Prada-right) 

For the rest of us ... Amazon's bestsellers are: P&P, Inc. American Flag - $1.75-$14.84, Zero UV Super Cateyes - $1.42-$12.97 and Ray Ban Aviator in a slightly different tint - $114.07-$331.76.

P&P Inc. American Flag Aviator Sunglasses -above left 

zeroUV® - Super Cateyes Vintage Inspired Fashion Mod Chic High Pointed Cat-Eye Sunglasses

Ray-Ban RB3025 Aviator Sunglasses

4. Swimsuit Sales Are Up

Misses and Juniors rashguard swimwear have gain popularity in 2014. You'll see more on the beach and at aquatic centers. Victoria's Secret surprised us this season with their new rashguard and mock crop turtleneck swimwear that give more coverage for the modest.

Speedo Rashguard Swimwear         Nautica - $71.00 Amazon
$24.85-$30.60 Amazon


Speedo Women's Short Sleeve Endurance Lite UPF 50+ Rashguard

Nautica Women's South Port Tankini
Victoria's Secret

3. 2014 Blockbuster Summer Movies and
Hot Summer Reads

I won't recreate the wheel here.  I like Huffington Post's picks for 2014 Summer Adaptation Blockbusters.  They suggest you read the books first and so do I.  That's exactly what I plan to do with my choices.  So before I snack on popcorn, I'm enjoying a glass of lemonade with one of these page-turners.  

Here are my top three picks.  Stay tuned for my reviews in September. 

a. The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (illustrated; gift edition) (Giver Quartet)

Movie:  In a society with no pain, sickness or war, and where everyone's assigned a specific role, young Jonas discovers that his "utopia" has exchanged feeling, love and sacrifice for perfection. The highly anticipated adaptation of this YA classic stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, and (yep, that's right) Taylor Swift.

b.  Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Expanded Edition: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment

I wish this down-to-earth, common sense, side-splitting relationship guide was published when I was in the dating pool.  It would've save me a lot of belly aches.

Movie -- Think Like a Man Too, starring a cast of today's hottest stars:  Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Jennifer Lewis...

c. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs

This book needs no discription, since Steve Jobs is the man who changed the way we live.  

Movie - I'm so glad to hear that Leonard DiCaprio will play him, a much better choice than Ashton Kutcher.  

2. Amusement Parks and Summer Carnivals

Here are three amusement parks you may not know that made the top 12 amusement parks' list in the country.

#4 King's Island in Mason Ohio

#7 Six Flags New England

#9 Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay

Drumroll please ...We Know it's Summertime Because...

1.  Everyone's at the Beach

Whether you swim, surf, snorkel, paddle board, or don't venture into the water at all -- chances are you'll hit a beach this summer even if you just soak up some sun. 

Here are the top three beaches in the world from Trip Advisor.

1.  Baia do Sancho

2.  Grace Bay

Three Top Beaches in the U.S. - U.S. News Travel

1. Maui, Hawai'i
U.S. News Travel suggests the burgundy-hued sands of Kaihalulu. And if you want to try your hand at surfing, visit Ho'okipa Beach.  I also recommend Kaanapali Beach and Kapalua Beach.

The above Napili Beach is beautiful, but narrow and can have a strong current.  But once you get past the shore break, you can experience calm snorkeling.  Get to Napili beach early before the crowds.   Kapalua beach is calmer than Napili, but has a little pull.  

2. The Big Island of Hawai'i

Hapuna, Kaunaoa or Kua Bay offer serene sands for your island retreat.  Hapuna is calm in the summer and rough in the winter months.  I know this firsthand.  I don't recommend body surfing at Hapuna beach in January or February.

3. Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
Here's another beautiful beach, but very populated.  If you want a beach locale with less people, rent a car and head up to the north shore, or to the Hawaii Kai Beaches or to Kailua.   

If you want action and to people watch, then stay on Waikiki.  Top hotels, resorts and restaurants line this popular beach.

A View from the Plane on Arrival

Back on the Mainland

Top 10 Boardwalk Beaches in the Country, 
According to the National Geographic

(Atlantic City Boardwalk)

1. Atlantic City, NJ
2. Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
3. Myrtle Beach, SC
4. Ocean City, MD
5. Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach, CA
6. Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, Rehoboth, DE
7. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, CA
8. Sandwich Boardwalk, MA
9. Virginia Beach, VA
10. Wild Woods Boardwalk, NJ

I would be amiss if I didn't add, We Know It's Summertime Because ...the Straw Hats Come Out. Enjoy Your Summer!