Archive for November, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions Contest Winner!

William, Cecilia, and Emma Connor on Thanksgiving Day in Minneapolis.

Thank you so much for all your wonderful responses to our Thanksgiving traditions contest. What I enjoy about your responses is that they show the unique individuality of every family. I love all the melding of different influences and cultures. This year’s contest winner is Katica, who will be hearing from our customer service department shortly.

While I wasn’t in the States for Thanksgiving this year, two of my brothers got together and celebrated with their children. I’m posting a photo of them in their outfits. I wish I could have seen them in person but am grateful that technology allows us to share more than letters.

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, I want to wish each and every one of you a lovely December. This time of year can be so stressful–especially for mothers. Please take time to do something nice for yourself, although I know from personal experience how hard that can be to make happen.

Warmest wishes,

Catherine

Happy Thanksgiving Contest

While I miss many things about America, the last Thursday of November holds a special place in my heart. Thanksgiving is such a generous and happy tradition and even though I do my best to recreate it across the Atlantic, it’s never quite the same.

Because my mother isn’t American, our family’s Thanksgiving has never been exactly by-the-book. We eat lingonberries, which are very popular in Scandinavia, instead of cranberry sauce. My mother also isn’t a huge fan of turkey so she usually serves pheasant or another type of game.

The one stalwart American tradition is wild rice served with sauteed mushrooms. My father was born and raised in Wisconsin, and this delicious grain is harvested all over the Upper Midwest. Many children think its earthy taste is too strong, but I’ve always loved it.

This Thanksgiving I’m sad that won’t be with my young nieces and nephew. But it makes me happy to know that they’ll be wearing the dresses and Spanish shorts I picked out for them.

What are your family’s Thanksgiving traditions? Please share them in the comments section. The email address of every poster will be put in a hat and one winner will be selected at random. The prize is a children’s cashmere sweater in the size and color of the winner’s choice (inventory permitting). The winner will be announced on Monday, November 30th.

Have a warm and festive Holiday.

Catherine

My favorite winter accessories

When my children were younger, I had a terrible time finding tights and socks that wouldn’t run or pill or lose their shape. Then I discovered the French brand Doré Doré. Made from the finest materials, their wool and cotton blend ribbed tights and soft wool knee socks where the answer to my prayers.

Not only did the socks and tights look adorable, but they were also so comfortable that my children never complained about wearing them. I appreciated that they were classic enough to go with a play dress or the fanciest party outfit. I also loved that they were very durable; several pairs of knee highs were worn by all four of my children.

As Papo d’Anjo grew, mothers asked me to recommend stockings for my outfits. It only made sense to start carrying Doré Doré items in the colors that best coordinated with each collection. Since they are currently on sale and the cold weather and holidays are upon us, I thought I’d recommend them to you.

Scarf on P

I also love Papo d’Anjo’s cashmere scarves and hats. In past seasons I made these items in a beautiful heavier wool. But I soon realized that children prefer something softer next to their skin. These accessories are incredibly cozy and will last for many winters to come.

Lisbon highlight: Castelo de São Jorge

Ruins

We shot most of the holiday 2009 catalog at the Castelo de  São Jorge, or Saint George Castle. Perched on top of one of Lisbon’s highest hills, the castle is a former fortress that was captured from the Moors in 1147. It’s a magical place where you can relax under the shade of cork, olive, and pine trees and take in stunning views of the city.

View of Tagus

The castle is one of Lisbon’s main tourist attractions, yet you never feel the crush of the crowds. One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is to have a coffee and pastry at Largo Das Portas do Sol 9. It’s next to the Fundacao Espirito Santo, a must-see museum of Portuguese decorative arts. Great lunch options in the nearby Alfama neighborhood include Sant’ Antonio and Escadinhas do São Miguel.

Inside Castelo

Over the years my family has gone on numerous outings to the castle;  my children have a great time running around and climbing on the ruins. As the catalog photographs make clear, it’s the kind of place where you can relax and be yourself in the midst of incredible history.

a-line

While I’m on the subject of the catalog, I’m often asked what my favorite items are from each collection I design. For this holiday season, I am particularly fond of the A-Line Party Dress. It’s elegant but still youthful and  can easily go from a special family outing to a school recital to the most fancy holiday party.

Fado: Portugal’s Melancholy Music

If there is a single word that sums up what makes Portugal unique from other Latin countries, it’s  saudade.   It  has no exact English counterpart, but the general idea has to do with longing  or nostalgia for a person, place, or thing that may never be found.

While saudade is deeply embedded in almost every aspect of Portuguese culture, its most popular expression is in Fado, a musical tradition that combines singing with Portuguese guitar and classical guitar.  Throughout Lisbon and Portugal, you can go to bars specifically devoted to Fado  where people in the crowd will yell out to the singer to make the song even sadder.

The Maria Callas of Fado is Amalia Rodrigues, who before her death in 1999 was an international superstar. You can see one of her performances in the video clip I’ve put into the top of this post.

Today, Rodrigues’ classical style has been updated, most notably by Mariza, the current queen of the genre who is often accompanied by an orchestra.  My husband, Pascal, also highly recommends Ana Moura, and Katia Guerreiro. If you ever get the chance to see Cristina Branco live, it’s an experience you won’t forget.

What musical traditions do you love most?



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