The other day, I spent a lot of time on the phone. More than I was expecting, though I did get a lot done.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t sit still when I’m on the phone. I’m always pacing around, and the lengthy phone time gave me a chance to discover a few things in the garden. Care to come along?

I was really surprised to see this stealth orchid in bloom. It has never bloomed before, and it managed to escape the frost death meted out to the orchid which usually blooms every year.

This sneaky plant sent its flower spike between a pipe and the wall of the house, coming into bloom right under the electric meter. When it finishes blooming – months from now – I will move it out so I can see it better next year. And make sure to bring both orchids in during cold snaps.

Directly under the stealth orchid is this plant with purple flowers. It may be an African daisy. You’d think I hadn’t been introduced to my garden, since I know so few of the plants’ names! Maybe I should ask Lichen to get us reacquainted. Name tags may be required.

There are a couple of volunteer plants who have moved in. I have no idea how they got there, but I’m glad they did. There is a hyacinth under the Japanese maple:

It smells intoxicating and I love the color.

Some shy violets have moved in with a mystery plant that looks like some kind of succulent. They also smell wonderful and have a beautiful color:

The camellias are in bloom now:

I’m glad I got different colors, and can’t wait until they are big bushes like the one I had in Oakland. It will be great to have some color in the winter.

Camellias were Coco Chanel’s favorite flower, and a motif that often appeared in her designs. The house of Chanel has kept up the tradition, and I love the rain boots:

They’d be sort of practical for muddy, rainy Hooterville winters, right?

The dual time zone watch on the other hand…

Definitely not.

Covet: Splendid Shoes

The last couple of “Vogues” had some amazing shoes, especially if money is no object and you mostly travel by limo or taxi.

In the December issue, these plaid Rochas beauties ($980):

Amusingly, they were in the “gifts for country girls” section, along with a lavender chicken who lays multi-colored eggs. As I observed on Facebook, I wish country life were really the way “Vogue” envisions it. Somehow, I can’t imagine myself prancing through the mud puddles on my driveway in peeptoe slingbacks. Sadly.

Equally impractical, yet equally fabulous, are these curlicue heeled platforms from Charlotte Olympia*:

I had to wonder if the designer was inspired by the Beverly Hills Hotel’s famous banana leaf wallpaper, not to mention the vintage 1940s white wrought-iron bar stools in the coffee shop:

Look no further than the fabulous finned cars of the 1950s for the inspiration for Prada’s gorgeous, limited edition ($1,450) shoes embellished with a crystal rose on the toes:

That’s about the average price of a new car in 1950.

*Vogue claims you can find them at charlotteolympia.com, but I couldn’t. So the price remains mysterious.

Covet: Elizabeth Taylor’s Jewelry Exhibition

I’d rather be…at Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry exhibit in LA. Instead of facing a day of conference calls, note-taking, and writing up the calls.

Why is there always time for things you have to do, and not enough for things you want to do? Same goes for money. Enough for rent and bills. Not enough to go and see Elizabeth’s Taylor jewelry in LA this week.

As you all know, I was a fan of Elizabeth Taylor’s. I loved her beauty, her passion, her talent, and her courage and dedication to fighting AIDS long before celebrities wanted anything to do with the cause.

But most of all, I loved her jewelry. I was lucky enough to gawk at her ruby and diamond set a couple of years ago in San Francisco. It seemed only right that such beautiful gems belonged to such a beautiful gem.

But now La Taylor is gone and we are seriously running out of true movie stars. And her jewelry is to be auctioned in December, so the collection will be broken up forever and never be seen again by the glamour-deprived public.

I find it annoying that I can afford to fix my car, but not to go to LA and see the collection before it’s gone forever. I’m blaming Miss Scarlett for this little spate of bitterness.

At least my dear friend A was able to go and see the jewelry in London. She even sent me the catalogue from the exhibition. A herself has a love affair with jewelry, so perhaps she deserved to go more than I do. Her mother celebrated A’s narrow escape from death this year by giving her daughter the diamond from her engagement ring* set into a pendant. And A celebrated by having her grandmother’s rubies set into earrings by the same jeweler who created Kate Middleton’s memorable wedding earrings.

Elizabeth Taylor would have approved.

*The diamond has a sad story behind it. It was her 1 carat engagement ring upgrade after they’d been married for several years. They bought the ring in Asia and declared it to Canadian customs, who held it a very long time, trying to value it. It was finally delivered to her a week after A’s father died in a car accident.

Covet: Necklaces

I love Erica Weiner’s work. She re-uses and re-purposes objects in a magical and delightful way. Have a look and you’ll see what I mean. All of these are one of a kind, so once some lucky person buys them (hopefully you), they’re gone!

This love token necklace ($165) happens to be engraved with the name of my maternal grandmother. I’d love to wear it close to my heart, where she is always in residence. And it would go well with my watch, engraved on the back with the glamorous name of the mystery woman who wore it before me: Eve Esquith. She should be the heroine of a James M. Cain story.

The only thing more charming than this tiny book, which dates from the fateful year of the Great Earthquake and Fire, is the description of the necklace:

“This 1″ tall pendant is a miniature calendar from 1906, complete with phases of the moon, holidays, and blank spaces to write in daily events. Page edges are red, and although the clasp is missing, the book stays closed by itself. The metal may be silver, but I suspect that it’s not sterling. A beautiful black patina has developed on the locket over the past 105 years, and we’ve oxidized a new 24″ sterling silver box chain to match.” A steal at $295.

Also a mere $165 (each) are these necklaces adorned with teeny packs of cigarettes from the 1920s – with wooden cigarettes that slide out! Politcally incorrect and delightful, you’d want to wear all three. At least I do.

Last but not least (or least expensive, at $375), is this rare Stanhope camera bijou. Once again, I can’t do better than quote the description:

“This sterling silver camera stanhope charm was made in France in the 1940s. A stanhope is a miniature microphotographic lens which has been built into this 3/4″ by 1/2″ movie camera. The most commonly found stanhopes feature photographs from popular tourist destinations, but the coolest and rarest ones are a little smutty. This one isn’t too risque, however, when you look into the camera you can see the tiny image of a glamorous swimsuit-clad beauty at the beach. The reel component of the camera rotates and the charm is in excellent condition. We’ve added a 19″ sterling silver chain.”

And if you like the necklace, you’ll adore this risque little ring ($400):

Which just happens to be in my size.

Covet: October Vogue

I just love finding new places to wear diamonds

You can barely see it, but I love the platinum and diamond lorgnette. Isn’t it just so much chic-er than bifocals? A mere $9,100. Positively cheap compared to the fabulous Art Deco bracelet, also pictured, which is $145,000. Or the price of a smallish house in one of the square states. I know what I’d pick.


And the embellished cigarette case is almost enough to make me wish that smoking was one of my many bad habits. Maybe I could use it for business cards instead? Unfortunately, it’s “price upon request”, which we all know is code for “forget it unless you’re a millionaire”.

I hate to admit it, and it’s eight different kinds of wrong, but I covet these jackets. Especially the pom pom one on the right. Left: Peter Som Mongolian lamb coat, $2,375; right, Giorgio Armanu flame rabbit hand-made pom pom chubby ($8,975). Why aren’t there vegan versions? Stella McCartney, I hope you’re listening!

Covet: September Vogue

Of course, the September Issue is the most-anticipated of the year – and the heaviest. This year’s tome couldn’t fit into my size zero mailbox, a phenomenon unfortunately familiar to most women, “Vogue” readers or not.

I loved a lot of this year’s clothes. Jessica, Erica and I oohed and aahed over them on Saturday. I’ve been reading “Vogue” since I was in high school, yet the prices for the clothes never cease to shock me.

Here are a few of my favorites:


Love the color of this sweater, a completely affordable $70 from J. Crew (one of our stylish First Lady’s faves), and the contrast with the lace skirt, a less affordable $1,490 by the eternally elegant Carolina Herrera.


I would kill for this Louis Vuitton skirt. Well, fold, spindle or mutilate. A mere $2,865 for acres of silk taffeta gorgeosity. And just the thing to wear to the library! Or the Safeway.


I like the coat, but I love the Chanel bracelets with the camellia motif La Coco loved so much. Enamelled metal and resin, and $2,350 and $1,490.


Carolina Herrera strikes again with this fabulous confection of highlands meets flamenco. It would look great with a black leather motorcycle jacket. $7,590 to find out.


I am in love with this Chanel coat – the Empire waist, the witty shape and texture. And the sleeves are the perfect length to display the camellia bangles. Since you’d wear it all the time, it’s really a steal at $8,380.


What’s not to love about strapless tweed? Louis Vuitton corset top and skirt, $2,440.


So what if you never go to the opera? You still need Barbara Tfank’s poison green bow-back satin opera coat. Your exit will be as memorable as your entrance.

Coveting Marilyn

Marilyn Monroe’s House

Marilyn Monroe’s final home can be yours for a mere $3.6 million! This may be the Covet to end all Covets. Imagine swimming in her pool, cooking in her kitchen, walking the same tiled floors, looking in the same mirror (though not seeing the same reflection). Fortunately, it appears that the house has been little altered over the years, so I hope whoever is lucky enough to buy it keeps up the tradition of preservation.

You can see more pictures and details here, but first a warning*: this site is extremely addictive, and may take up hours of your life as you investigate the mansion from “Practical Magic”, the houses from “Gilmore Girls” and “Bewitched”, not to mention Before and After transformations. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn, and felt a special connection to her. Nearly ten years ago, I paid her a visit, which I found very moving. You can see my kiss just below her plaque. Our birthdays are three days apart, she died the year I was born, we had the same middle name and unstable mothers. We battled some of the same demons. I have always been convinced that if she had real, true friends who honestly cared about her (the way mine do), she’d still be alive today.

*That reminds me of the scene in “Death Becomes Her” where Meryl Streep has just downed the magic potion and Isabella Rosselini gives her a warning about it, to which the incensed Meryl replies (with some justification) “Now a warning?!”

Birthday Covets

It’s only a month until my birthday. Unfortunately, Santa is a slacker, working one day a year and taking the rest off, so there’s no point in sending him my wish list. Especially since I’m rarely, if ever, nice. But there’s nothing to stop me from sharing it with you.

1. Mad Men Barbies

As so often happens, just one is the thin edge of the wedge. You live your entire life Barbie-less, and wham! You see “The Birds” Barbie and must have it. I bought it as a housewarming present to myself (almost the same housewarming capabilities as the propane heater, though much cuter) and love it. And it was half-price, making it almost guilt-free!

Now that I know the joys of Barbie love, I want more. And who can blame me? Check out the visual aids:


Unfortunately, they cost about $75 each, putting them neatly outside the realm of possibility. Unlike my $19.99 Tippi Hedren. And of course I want the whole set.

2. Feather Ring

This is by Georgina Chapman (of Marchesa) for Garrard, jewelers to the Royal Family (including some of the Crown Jewels). Much more modest than a Crown of State, but would still give a girl’s outfit a certain je ne sais quoi.

3. Feather Shoes

In keeping with the purple feather theme, how about these beauties:


They’d look great next to my only other pair of Manolo Blahniks, also slingbacks, but in lavender suede. Too bad a girl can’t wear more than one pair of shoes at a time.

4. Chanel Jade Nail Polish

Introduced last Fall, it’s already sold out, making it doubly unavailable to Self, since I couldn’t afford the original $49.95 price tag, and it’s selling for more than twice that on eBay. Even I think paying three figures for nail polish verges on madness.

I’ll have to settle for No Miss nail polish in the delightfully-named Cape Haze Crypto, a mere $6 at a health food store which bills itself as (insert groan here) a worker’s collective. Almost sucked all the frivolity out of buying it.

5. Eye Spackle

That’s what I call Dermalogica’s Multi-Vitamin Power Firm. It magically fills in those little laugh (and cry) lines around the eyes, hence my nickname for it. Just because you’re almost thirty-eighteen doesn’t mean you have to look it. But magic doesn’t come cheap – it’s about $50 in this case. Which is why I’m still squeezing every possible molecule out of the tube I have.

If you really love me, I’d love this little place in North Beach. You’d have a guest room waiting for you any time!

Etsy Covets

Etsy has the most fabulous things. Here are some I’d snap up if money were no object:

A pencil urchin ($125). It would look so cute on my desk for the five seconds before the kittens knocked it to the ground and played with it into oblivion.

Florapalooza vase ($84). I have three vases from the wonderful Stonehouse Pottery on my mantel, and they’re Museum Waxed into place. We all know how the girls can’t resist shredding flowers, or the vases they’re in.

Tweed Boston bag with leather corsage ($89.90). Who knew tweed could be so frivolous?

“Koro” ($110): a modern light fixture/chandelier inspired by coral, but made to order of Japanese paper (along with, you know all the lights and wiring and things like that).

Who needs a little black dress when you can sport a summery little white dress ($254)? This has style to spare – I could see Mrs. O in this one.

Be your own Barbie* in a swimsuit ($110) modeled after the original 1959 Barbie’s (up to $8,000), back when she was a sassy brunette. You can finally wear doll clothes in real life!

*I never realized I before that I was so Barbie obsessed. I never had one as kid, or asked for one, but as an adult, I have visited the Barbie Hall of Fame in Palo Alto and totally covet the “The Birds” Barbie. Yet another mystery brought to you by the shallow eddies of Suzy’s frivolous mind.

Covet Up

Ah, a Bay Area summer day. Wrapped in thick, pastel fog as you are wrapped in a thick, pastel sweater. Around 3:00, the sun peeks through, realizes it’s looking at Oakhampton, shuts the curtains again and flees in horror to more salubrious (or glamorous) climes.

So even though it’s well after Memorial Day*, you don’t really feel like it’s time to break out those summer whites just yet. Unless it’s these summer whites:

(Above) Trust Valentino to come up with this wonderfully over the top white patent leather gem. About $1,500.

(Above) This Gucci Joy bag would certainly bring me some. Around $1,000.

(Above) There’s always Chanel. Closer to $3,000.

Or an evening bag that costs about the same as a modest house in many parts of the country. It’s up to you, my well-accessorized friend.

*Does anyone still keep to the rule of not wearing white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day? I suspect not, just as no-one seems to follow the old rule that one is supposed to congratulate the groom and wish the bride good luck, which kind of says it all to me.

April Showers

I was startled awake by an unexpected (and unexpectedly heavy) shower this morning. I dashed outside in my pajamas, to the detriment of my velvet slippers, and grabbed Henry’s dishes and bed. By the time I got to the back porch, I would have won the neighborhood wet PJ contest. I propped the door open, fed and watered Henry, then called him until he appeared. He seemed a little nervous, maybe because the girls have been lounging on the porch and now it feels like enemy territory, but at least he can get out of the rain. As I write, he’s lying comfortably on his newly spring cleaned couch, possibly thinking “It’s mine now, girls!”

It’s been a little like Florida today: torrential downpour, followed by sudden sun, then another downpour. I dashed between the raindrops to (literally) run some errands, including the post office, where the guy ahead of me was getting a $2,000 money order. I definitely Coveted that beautiful pile of money.

Remember the house with the white picket fence? No-one rented it on Saturday, so I’m going to look at it tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully traffic will be kinder to me than it was this weekend (when I finally got home, I learned that there had been no fewer than three accidents. No wonder it was such a mess). I’ll keep you posted, rain or shine.

Covet, A Series: BART-astic

My BART covets:

The girl wearing a fabulous fuchsia taffeta trenchcoat, short, and carrying the incredible Louis Vuitton Alma bag in rose pop:

Honey, why are you on BART and not being glamorously chauffeured into town?

And then there’s the lovely wearing the sold out J Crew Astrid jacket in ivory:

who, with her knee high sassyboots, should have been stepping into her limo. Haughtily.

I would have felt underdressed if I weren’t wearing these:

And carrying this:

But a girl can still Covet. In the most unlikely places.

Coveting Cool


There’s nothing like sneaking out of work in the middle of the week on a sunny summer day. Leaving looming deadlines at my desk and the cats in charge, I ventured to the Oakland Museum of California to check out the soon-ending Birth of the Cool exhibit, showcasing mid-century Southern California art and architecture.

The exhibit turned out to be one big Covet for me.

Pierre Koenig houses…who wouldn’t want to live that fabulous, martini-sipping by the pool lifestyle, overlooking the bright lights of LA?

Paintings by…

John McLaughlin and

Karl Benjamin. Gorgeous, minimalist, vibrant.

I wandered through the galleries, imagining what it would be like to live in such beautiful surroundings, with such beautiful objects. And whether it would be different now as opposed to then. Did the original owners see the sleek beauty the same way we do today?

More and more I wish I lived in the past when everything was so much more aesthetically pleasing.

Covet – A Series: Home Sweet Home


Behind Door Number One, this $3.6 million Victorian, in my former neighborhood, Pacific Heights. Sometimes I can’t believe I used to own an apartment there. It seems so long ago, a lifetime ago.

Details of this dream house are here while it’s still on the market.


For a mere $100,000 more than Door Number One, Door Number Two can be yours. See the possibilities here while it lasts.


And finally, for a mere $3.5 million, you can buy this beauty just doors away from my old place. I always admired this building as I walked past.

The Covets are all things I could never have in real life. But if I could live anywhere, it would be San Francisco, and it would be Pacific Heights. Sure, a pied ? terre in Paris or a brownstone in New York or a Malibu beach house sound glamorous, but they could never be home.

A girl can dream. And Covet.