Friday, August 31, 2012

Calling all Vintage lovin' Gals!

Calling all fashion forward, vintage loving, hipster thinking, thrift store picking, trend setting and over all anytime girl looking, for some cheap ass cool clothes.

I am sad to report that my favorite vintage clothing store in the trendy Magnolia Park area of Burbank is closing their doors. After 8 years of dressing the hip and famous, Owner, Stylist and Designer Carrie Diaz has decided to move on to her next big thing. Although I am super happy for her and excited for her blossoming future, my closet is going to miss her store.

So ladies and gents grab that $20 dollars (or more if you got it to burn) and RUN, don't walk, or better yet drive your bargain loving ass to Swift in the next week or two, as Carrie and crew slash prices of everything, and I mean EVERYTHING in the store!

The most bitchen rocker belts for $15 bucks or less. Classic handbags and sunglasses for $5-$10 dollars. To die for necklaces and bracelets, bangles and jangles all for $10-$20 buckaroos. I'm soooo not kidding.

I was just in tonight for Magnolia Parks fun, fashion street fair 'Ladies Night Out', which happens every last Friday of the month. Swift was filled with the most divinely dressed fashion gals, grabbing up everything they could carry. Vintage hat boxes, chairs, lamps, even wall art and mirrors were slashed at half price.

As for the gorgeous vintage dresses, there is something for everyone. From the Hoedown to Red Carpet there is just the right look, at an unbelievable price. Majorly discounted One of a kind blouses, skirts, jackets, boots and shoes to classic T shirts, it's all at Swift... But who knows for how long. The racks were looking a lot thinner when I left tonight, although there is still tons of beautiful clothes for the finding, so don't hesitate too long or you will miss the best deals ever!!

Ummm...I'm going back tomorrow... My closet just told me to.

Swift Vintage is located at: 3216 West Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank, CA Or go to: for more information

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A fine time with food and wine

I was dressed and ready. My husband and two year old son were taking me out to a fancy pre-birthday dinner during our end of summer stay in Solvang. Since we had been wine and food-ing all day in the charming Danish inspired town, it was best to stick close to our temporary home, instead of driving through the valley to Los Olivos for dinner. Responsible right?!

We had heard from friends that a new chef had taken over the upscale restaurant Root 246, just a few blocks walk away on Alisal (420 Alisal Road in Solvang, CA to be exact) and after checking out their menu online it seemed like just what we were looking for, to please our sometimes finicky pallet.

Upon arrival, and after my son tried to blow out every burning torch as we walked up the grey stone steps... I was immediately drawn to their outdoor patio, who's perimeter was surrounded by glass as to not obstruct the view of the charming downtown Solvang, with a gorgeous, massive smooth white rock fireplace and comfy couches scattered tastefully in pods, inviting you to snuggle in and stay awhile.

As we pulled open the giant carved wood front double doors, we were greeted by a friendly hostess in the stunning entry of painted white brick rocks and as I looked up, a giant chandelier of what seemed to be falling silver stars danced around our heads.

I peeked into the bar before we were seated to snap a photo of the sapphire blue drenched velveteen room. A room of utter urban sophistication and comfort, classically combined together, with the common theme of warmth emoting from not just the neon glow of the overhead lights, but from a humongous fireplace of white washed bricks.

I have to say my favorite part of Root 246's upscale decor was their Wall 'O Wine (need I say more? I'm gonna dream of this wall in my own home for years to come.) stationed between the lounge and dining rooms. What a exquisite display of an extensive wine list. Even my son was impressed.

We were seated in the first dining room that reminded me more of a fancy living room, with very contemporary off white, high backed sofas and chairs surrounding the wooden tables. Once inside, the hight of the furniture gives a very private feel and shoot, it's kind of fun to eat on a sofa.

The menu was different from the one online, as it seems to change ever so slightly daily, depending on what is farm fresh in the valley.

I always glance at the menu and then move on to the wine list, since of course I had spied a few beauties on the Wine Wall already. I chose the most F#c*ing fantastic 100% Cabernet Franc from Andrew Will of the Columbia Valley in Washington. Please, do yourself a favor and go pick up a bottle tomorrow, as it will be my wine pick for many weeks to come. Luscious, Dry and leathery, oh my it was fantastic.. I need another stat!

After the wine was served and I could shut my mouth about how damn good it was, we quickly decided on our meal. (Again, I have a two year old, I am not stupid. This night could be over in the blink of an eye if we didn't move it along accordingly.)

We stated off with a farmers market fresh Tomato Salad. A colorful presentation tossed with Grenache, beets, fried pickles, heirlooms, ricotta and basil. Since we knew it was the season of the tomato, the salad tasted like it was harvested that very moment with the ripest heirlooms and earthy beets. Every summer meal should begin with this light luscious fruit.

Our second course was the Rock Shrimp Tempura. This dish was my favorite and I would have ordered two had I known beforehand of the lively flavors.(sometimes it's hard to share) The tempura was a light breading on the shrimp, with roasted peppers and a spicy Cajun Aioli drenching the seafood. Scattered on top were crispy fried onions and light pea shoots for color, creating that bit of texture that sets your mouth a watering for more.

I have to mention that my son's penne pasta that he happily nibbled, was so deliciously el dente and butter drenched (do they use farm fresh churned butter too? Cause our butter doesn't taste that good) it was hard to keep myself and my hubby away from his plate.

Our main course, the Loch Etive Trout Steak, arrived split perfectly in two, both artfully arranged over an artichoke, fennel and olive salad that was tossed with a light barigoule dressing and a touch of (gasp!) chorizo dusted on the plate. Hmmmmmm, here comes the hard part. We are Pescatarian, meaning we only eat fish. This fact is sometimes hard for people to understand, but since we had explained that fact to our server from the start, just in case the Chef wanted to get 'meaty' with his dishes for flair, our bases should have been covered. What can I say? Sometimes there are still misunderstandings. (Maybe I should drink less wine and read the menu before I order) We took the picture anyways, so as to represent the dish properly, before changing it to meet our dietary choices.

When the last glass of wine had been poured, the fire-lit entry patio was calling our names so after ordering our desert, we retired to the great outdoors to bask in the golden glows.

Our desert arrived with ooh's and ahh's from the three of us, the ultra puffy cinnamon and sugar covered donuts holes, serve with hot fudge, a latte cream glaze, and a farmers churn of good ole whipped buttercream. They we're gone almost before we could take a picture. (note my sons hand getting caught in the act)

It was a sweet end that just got sweeter, as my husband cuddled close and my son crawled up into my lap, to stare quietly content into the roaring fire.

I say well done to Root 246, the service was warm but not intrusive, ascetically they have blended this gem of comfort and elegance, then backed up their glamorous digs with mouth watering farm fresh American cuisine to keep this family coming back year after year.

My final photo of the night

A squeeze from my son in front o the fire at Route 246 is the perfect end to our lovely day. Goodnight all!

The photos tell the tale

I have to say that this day has been so great, that even my fingers are tired. It is really only a day that can be explained in pictures. Well, we did have an insane dinner tonight, that altogether will be my post for tomorrow because words are totally necessary... Yummy Descriptive Words.

I will say that the Solvang farmers market was a festive event that combined all the local farmer wares, in the most charming setting of the danish towns main street.

My favorites were:

The most heavenly flowers, artfully arrange to compliment one another.

Pies that add pounds to my hips just looking at them and the freshest apple cider vinegar and olive oils that will add years to my life... So I can eat more pie.

The freshest herbs to take home and plant a little bit of the Valley in your own back yard.

Creative farms blending the vineyards grape and their gardens exploding tomato fruits. (it is tomato season and the heirlooms are splendid, a meal in themselves!!)

I had to add a few photos of the town, just because it is so damn quaint, it makes you have a cheesy grin all day.

Oh, that and as I mentioned in my last blog that David Crosby is a local... And then he walks up to you and smiles, it's then that you know it is a REALLY small town and everyone does know everyone.

Then there is a tasting room or two in Solvang to mention. Firstly I have to say that Toccata (formerly Mandolina) has been one of our favorites for years.

At our wedding in 2009 we had the Toccata Reserva as our house red, and Lucinda, the tasting room Manager has been one of our dear friends for about 5 years.

They have a new wine that is my absolute new favorite, the 2007 Classico, which is actually my nightcap wine at the moment. Fruit and earth on the nose, luscious velvet texture with blackberries and liquorish, with a full body and dry finish.

The second stop is Presidio, an all organic vineyard with the only problem being I don't know which one I like better.

The Pinot Nior's are lovely and fruit forward, even with the hazy factor of being organic. The earth is still prevalent in all of the wines, especially the Sangiovese, but I'm a Virgo so to me being one with the earth is alllllright.

My favorite had to be the Diego Red from the eighteen year old high elevation vineyard of 100% Cabernet, with an outrageous price point of $15.95 per bottle. (we may go back tomorrow and buy more)

As I listen to the snores of my hubby an son,I realize it is time for me to hit the sack as well and try to join in on this insane vibrational fest. There is so much more to tell, but hopefully the pictures help you to visualize what my words are lacking.

Much love and light...
Tommie V

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Magical Hour

Sometimes it is just a moment. A small window in time that supersedes all others. A fraction of your life into seconds that could never be replaced, but will be remembered forever.

It happened for me today. It could have happened for my two year old as well, but if he remembers it as I do, then he is a lucky boy.

As we had made our trip up to the Santa Ynez Valley and been enjoying our day, there was a momentary respite, that made my soul breath again. Within the very center, of the not even close to bustling town of Los Olivos, is a small botanical, whimsical and magical little lot... A shared space, between three local shops... A tasting room, an art gallery and a hand crafted design retail shoppe. Together, they share an outdoor space of about half an acre, decorated with picnic tables, red umbrellas, and a bocci ball field that is sheltered by giant oak trees, scattered with succulents and littered with iron original art statues and bubbling fountains.
As my son and I sat together munching on our Panini, waiting for Daddy to return from a business swarey, we became lost in the magical sounds of the wind chimes, hanging from the giant oaks.
It seemed the breeze would blow a new song, just for us and we sat spellbound, staring at one another... yet lost in our own day dreams.

It truly was magical... And what was so funny to me, was that so may people would walk past the enchanted garden and yet no one would enter. They were too busy doing, whatever they were doing, to even notice that they were walking past paradise.

It was only the two of us (although I did visit the wine room at Coquelicot and grab a glass to enjoy in the magic garden) for almost an hour before the owner of the Artisans Gallery came in and we chatted for a bit.

He told me about how he and his wife, Vicky Kallens had restored the old silversmith workshop into Vicky's retail store, for her handcrafted leather accessories and handmade treasures. They loved the courtyard space, but it had been a little uncared for over the years, so together they added all the magical things that I had been admiring for the past hour. We got to talking about music and the arts and he then shared that the giant river rocks that were artfully placed around the garden were from the Santa Ynez River, that he collected them with his buddy David Crosby. (yes, the David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Young is one of the Valleys longtime residents.) We spoke for a good half hour and I feel that I made a new friend, a like minded artist who appreciates what is really important in life.

So what is this all about? Its about your soul... I was so appreciative of that small moment in time, where everything stopped... Even a two year old was stupefied in his hyper active tracks... In that moment I took a deep breath and disappeared into another world.

I may need to move here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

3 Days of Wine and Horses Chic

Tomorrow I am off once again to escape LA and relax into the mountains of wine an horses: The Santa Ynez Valley. Packing is always fun for me because I get to play with my wardrobe and plan outfits accordingly. This time I decided to take pictures to help me remember what went with what and so on. So here is a look into my suitcase for my three day trip...

Day one involves travel (Santa Ynez is two hours north of LA) so comfort is always an issue. It is also going to be around 90 degrees so less is more. I decided on an easy boho dress with a cinch wrap belt with gladiator flip flops, dark cat sunglasses, gold jewelry a vintage leather tiny purse. This look is comfy and will be a great transition to walking around and hitting a few wineries or tasting rooms upon arrival.

For my night time look I transition into a boho-country feel, while always staying with my vintage touches. My newly dyed boho blouse with boyfriend loose fitting jeans, flashy belt, red vintage boots, hand made statement earrings with roses and turquoise (a gift from my sweet friend Jacki), wood bangle bracelets and another amber vintage bracelet for kicks. Comfortable but the jewelry really sets it off nice. Perfect for a night of dinner and music at the new Ranch and Reata Roadhouse in downtown Santa Ynez.

Day two is easy wear with a flair, for a relaxed day of ebelskivers, window shopping, wine tasting and play time with the family, in the charming danish inspired downtown Solvang. We may hit up a miniature horse or visit an Arabian horse farm so again comfort is a must on a day like this. I chose my favorite vintage skirt with vibrant hot pinks and black flowers, an easy flowing black tank, gladiator flippys again, hot pink studded bikini top instead of a bra for fun, turquoise feather earrings, my leather vintage mini purse again, shades and my favorite new ring. (thank you Carrie from Swift, purchased for just $5 bucks- I will probably be wearing this ring all year with everything I own it is so damn hot)

Day two evening wear is one of my oldest, but favorite vintage dresses. The pattern is so detailed and the colors, even after all this time, are vibrant and playful. I accessorized it with my black wrap belt, butterfly cowboy boots, a faded fitted jean jacket and three fun gold necklaces, all different lengths, with two of them again bearing my favorite bug... The butterfly. I usually don't wear earrings or bracelets when I have heavy necklaces, but I will be wearing my ring again and the same vintage purse has suited me well for the entire trip. This outfit is perfect for dinner at Matt and Jeff Nichols (The Brothers) new restaurant, Sides Hardware & Shoes, in wine soaked Los Olivos and maybe a little stroll through town afterward, with a stop at the Fess Parker hotel for a nightcap, if the baby allows. :)

The last day is a travel day again and not much planned, but a nice light breakfast (coffee and a bagel sounds just right) and a stroll, maybe hitting up the coolest danish inspired, castle strewn play park for the boy. It's called Sunny Fields Park in Solvang and it is the perfect way to wear out my son, before we are in the car for another two hour drive home. I should be super comfy in my new tie-dyed mustard tank, a tiny peek of a lavender leopard bra, cargo kahki shorts, gladiator flips, shades, feather earrings and the ring. Easy.

And yes, I did pack for my boys as well - who will look damn fine, as my dates for the trip. I'm a lucky girl to have these hot dudes as my company. So now I must hit the sack and try to sleep so we can get an early start to our day!

Last trip of the summer, here we come!

Tommie V

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dye me a river... Or a new shirt

There is something that I have learned being a struggling Artist, well... there are many things I learned but that is another story. This one is how to be creative with your wardrobe, on a dime store budget. For years and years, I didn't have more than $40-50 dollars a week for food, soooo that being said, you may imagine that my budget for clothing was considerably less and credit cards were completely out of the question, thank god.

Luckily for me, I am extremely creative and lived in Los Angeles, where flea market fashion runs a gamut, as long as you knew where to shop. One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday, back in the day, was hit up Jet Rag's dollar sale. Located off of La Brea Avenue, just North of Melrose Ave. Jet Rag ropes off their parking lot, throws down some plastic tarps and tosses bags and bags of overstock, donation, and non sell-able items, for all of LA's fashion forward (and broke) to scramble through for their latest fix. It really is a free for all, and sometimes fights break out as to who touched what first. All this for a buck. You can imagine then, that my gal pals and I would fill our garbage bags to the rim with our $20 budget. (who needs to eat?) I mean 20 items of clothing for $20 bucks can do a lot for a burgeoning musicians arsenal of clothing. Sure, some of it was pure shit, but other finds would be THEE certain accessory, to round out that old stage outfit, that suddenly became new again!

It was a divine way of making us girls, that chose to Rock in the trenches, still feel like we were ahead of all the trends that were soooo last season anyways.

So, I have decided to try a little something. For all the girls who have decide to chase after the arts, who don't have the cash flow of let's say, Carrie Bradshaw, I am creating a 'Frankie Spencer' way of shopping. If you don't know who Frankie Spencer is, then you may want to pick up a copy of my book This Rock in My Heart, so we can all be on the same page, so to speak.

To start out my experiment of $20 buck shopping. I like to begin with a look in my own closet. Shirts I am tired of, but I still like the cut, T-shirts that have faded, things like that. After finding what I am looking for, I walk to the nearest market, (I am not paying for gas with my $20 bucks) and I buy a big bottle of good ole Rit dye for $3.99, black is usually my color of choice, then to round out my evening I buy a lovely aged Gouda cheese for $4.99 and a bottle of wine with my change. Now I was lucky enough this evening to have Bridlewood's table wine to be on sale, so my snooty pallet was happy. There was my $20 bucks well spent AND I got to eat cheese and drink wine!

My clothing pieces of choice were three J Crew tanks, one white, one gray, and one a mustard color that I felt perfect for a throw back of hippy rocker chick style... The ole' tie-dye! I knew I had a ton of rubber bands,(since I had no more money and the wine was now popped) and I had a ball twisting the fabric this way and that, adding knots and bands where ever I felt necessary. Now I must remind you that I have a toddler running wildly around the house and the idea of rubber bands and twisting fabric is fascinating to him... so all I can say is, he helped.

The other experiment was a white vintage bohemian shirt, which I loved but didn't wear that often because who am I kidding? I don't wear a lot of white. This shirt was perfect for dying, since it had pretty little embroidery of flowers around the entire trim, that would certainly pop out with the help of the black dye grabbing more of the thread than on the fabric.

I dyed everything in a large pot on the stove, after wetting all the clothing initially, over a medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring constantly with one hand, while noshing with the other. My two year old even helped with stirring (and eating the cheese) since lets not forget, being a mommy never stops but we can still have fun and be fashionable, damn it.

To say the least, I am pleased with my 'new' tops. The three Tie dyed tanks turned out awesome and unique, with picturesque striations on each one. These tanks will dress up well with some fitted black or dark jeans (even white if that is how you roll) with a great rocker vintage belt, dangley earrings and metallic bangle bracelets or leather cuffs, with your favorite boots or heels and a vintage clutch.

They also will dress down perfectly with your favorite workout pants and flip flops, taking you straight to yoga at Runyon Canyon in style.

I got really excited with my experiment and decided to continue this for the next month. (My wardrobe needs a little va va voom anyways) I remembered how creative I used to be, when my income was under $20K a year and I realized that instead of spending too much on things that come and go, I will try to see... really see how far the dollar would take me once again. The Frankie Spencer fashion plan. So here goes... join me if you dare. This is gonna be fun.


Tommie V