Me + Hermès ‘Together’ At Last

This totally falls into the “why the heck didn’t I think of it” category. And yes, I know it has been all over fashion blogs and mags here and abroad but I love it and cannot resist. If, like me, you’re unlikely to have a spare $20,000 anytime soon to invest in a covetable Hermès handbag, then meet the Together bag created by LA-based accessories label Thursday Friday.

These canvas shoppers are fully lined with an interior pocket for phone and keys; what sets them apart from all the other canvas carryalls being schlepped by gym rats, diaper-toting mamas, greenmarket goers and the environmentally conscious alike is the pop-arty Hermès inspired bag print on all five exterior sides.

They’re cheeky, good-looking and practical. Trouble is, just like the iconic Birkin bag they’re “modeled” on, the Together bags sold out within weeks of their launch last year and are now back ordered.

The bags, a sort of anti-status, status symbol and sturdy enough to carry in rain, sun or snow, come in red, blue or camel and with a very manageable $35 price tag. To order, click here.

Stripes Galore at Petit Bateau Pop-Up

I have made no secret of my love of stripes, the French-Navy-striped “la marinière,” in particular and French label Petit Bateau is one of the masters of the iconic striped tee. Even better when Petit Bateau has a massive sample sale and it’s just a brisk walk away from home.

I was late to the game on this sale – it began in early December – but it is in full swing still until the end of January and there was plenty of stock at last check.

I scored a classic, long-sleeved stripey top pour moi and about five adorable shirts for the kids. Everything was at least half price, often even more; think $15 for a red + white striped boys’ cotton tee.  Like any sample sale, you have to dig through boxes and there isn’t a fitting room. The chap running the show is incredibly accommodating though and let me slip things on over my clothes. For the record, if you happen to be petite and small chested in particular, don’t worry that there aren’t many tops in women’s small – try the 12, a sort of teen/junior sizing – and it will likely work just fine.

There are pants, tunics and a smattering of skirts and underwear too, but the real boon is in the tops.

The sale is at 219 Seventh Avenue, between Third + Fourth Streets. Cash and credit cards are accepted.

G’Day Australia Day

My American husband’s birthday coincides with Australia Day, so every year we toy with the idea of celebrating both events in one place. We’ve thought about the big black-tie shindig at Cipriani but the price tag is too steep, so we usually wind up downing Coopers and kangaroo in the (heated) garden at Eight Mile Creek.

Well, it’s almost that time of the year again.

G’Day USA kicked off January 15 to 29 with a string of events designed to showcase Australian business prowess in the US. The program spans eight cities including NY, LA, Boston, Houston and San Francisco, and events include conferences, forums and product sampling covering new business, art, education and tourism.

For Americans, Australia Day is the Aussie equivalent of July 4 Independence Day, complete with fireworks and a national holiday. Every year, January 26 commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, the hoisting of the British flag there, and the proclamation of British sovereignty.

The official national day Down Under is marked by an address from the Prime Minister and the Order of Australia and Australian of the Year awards. That, and a whole lot of partying and beer-swilling, as well as some level of national pride from old and new Australians alike. Though, from my experience (and I have been away a long time …) Aussies aren’t big hand-on-the-heart patriots in the same way as Americans. It is, afterall, a nation built largely by convicts and with a longstanding guilt borne from mistreatment of indigenous Australians, the Aborigines.

History aside, New York-based Aussies with a spare $250 could grab a ticket and a gown or dinner suit for the Australia Day Black Tie Gala on January 28 at Cipriani Wall Street. Better still; try convincing your company to buy a ten-seat corporate table for $2000-plus.

One of the highlights at this year’s New York event, hosted by G’Day USA and the American Australian Association, will be performances by cast members of the upcoming Broadway version of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. But be warned, this event always sells out fast.

If that’s not your scene, I suggest beginning Australia Day with a flat white and a breakfast pie at one of Tuckshop’s three downtown Manhattan locations  – they opened a third in Chelsea Market in November – or at DUB Pies across the river in Brooklyn.

For dinner, Eight Mile Creek is one of my faves, with its special three-course Australia Day Dinner for a fixed $42 that includes kangaroo skewers with a pepperberry ketchup and a rack of Australian lamb or seared tuna, and best of all the dessert plate with a mini pavlova, sticky date pudding and lamingtons! When you’re done with dinner, head downstairs to the bar for the drink specials and party until 4am!

Another biggie is the annual New York Magpies event to be held Saturday, January 22 at Nevada Smiths on Third Ave. It’s a gathering of football-and-beer-loving Aussies complete with Tuckshop’s meatpies, Keith the Koala handing out Tim Tams – a beloved Australian chocolate biscuit – Aussie music and of course plenty of footy and cricket on the tvs. For tickets go to

Or check out The Sunburnt Cow, The Sunburnt Calf, Bondi Road or Brooklyn’s Sheep Station. And for watering holes within stumbling blocks of each other, head to The Australian or Van Diemens, where the beer and wine will be flowing.

Hello Sailor – Again

Straight from the runways to the stores, it’s all about stripes for Spring 2011. To be sure, stripes are never out of style – think Coco Chanel in a classic French-sailor striped tee or “la marinière,” Audrey Hepburn or even James Dean, proving even pretty, bad boys can rock horizontal stripes.

You cannot step into high street retailers Forever 21, H&M, Zara or even Old Navy right now without stripes jumping out at you. These pics (above) show just a smidge of what’s on offer at Forever 21 in New York’s Union Square. There’s traditional blue and white, nautical red, white and blue and even knotted nautical-style rope belts and a quirky Popeye t-shirt to accent the theme.

It seems every place is screaming Hello Sailor for Spring.

Giddy Up on Carroll St Bridge

I’ve been wondering about this quaint sign hanging from the Carroll Street Bridge since I first noticed it late last year on one of my daily walks over the Gowanus Canal.

I cross this bridge four times a day – to and from my children’s school – and cars zoom by, and cyclists go any direction they want. Most, I am guessing have never even noticed the sign, which hangs high above this New York City landmark, and most certainly wouldn’t slowdown to avoid a paltry $5 fine!

It turns out it’s a neat reproduction by the DOT of an original sign that hung over the Carroll Street Bridge back when horses and carriages not lead-footed car drivers plodded from Bond to Nevins Street. Five dollars was, no doubt, a lot of money then.

For fact freaks, the Carroll Street Bridge was opened to traffic in 1889 by the Brooklyn Department of City Works (when Brooklyn was a city). It’s one of the oldest bridges in New York City and one of only two retractile, or sliding, bridges left in New York, and the oldest of four left in the US. There is a retractile bridge at Borden Avenue in Queens and two others in Boston.