A Spanish Valentines
I thought I would bring you some Spanish gems for Valentines

Gold and diamond pendant in a
polyglot heart - Tous

Gorgeous Gold heart earrings- Aristocrazy

Miniyo Wedges- Coolway

Stunning satin shoes-Pura Lopéz

Rosario tulle flowers at your feet -Pretty Ballerinas

I really love this multicolor satchel-Agatha Ruiz de la Prada

Floral clutch -Desigual

Red enamel hearts with Swarovski crystals-Viceroy

For all my lovely friends shivering in a very cold
Europe (including me in Spain!),
stay warm Angels!!!

What are your plans for Valentines, do you not celebrate?
Is Valentines just another commercial marketing day?
Here in Spain it is still not that popular,
altho it is growing in popularity each year.

Couldn't resist this!
Boys will be boys ;-)

Would love to hear what you" really" think ;-)

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What!!! Another Pair of Shoes?
Today as I was passing Tous boutique here in Spain, I saw the most beautiful shoes.

You see these are shoes with a difference. They are gorgeous charms designed by the legendary Manolo Blahnik.

The charms are based on his 1994 Campari Mary Jane design . This shoe became something of an iconic shoe after it was featured in numerous films and TV shows (lets not even mention Carrie Bradshaw ;-).
Manolo Blahnik said about his collaboration with Tous,
"I really like Touse because I believe that we have many things in common. We are two family run businesses, we have Spanish roots and both like to surprise and innovate".

What do you think?
Do you like charm jewelry?
Do you like, or own a pair of Manolo's?

Would love to hear what you think.

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A Peep Through my Christmas Window.
OK friends, to end my Christmas series, I will give you a peep into my Christmas window this Christmas ;-)

How important is Christmas for me or can I take it or leave it?
I don't have children so I am sure I miss out on many things that parents experience at this time. Nonetheless, I love Christmas and all the preparations leading up to it. When I lived in the UK, my husband and I would volunteer for Shelter (an organization for the homeless) every Christmas Day (much to the annoyance and disdain of our families). It was an extremely emotional time for both of us, but made a lasting impact. I still think back to some of the people we met and wonder how they are all doing.

Nat King Cole, Michael Bublé, Handel's Messiah or Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite?
All of the above including, Harry Connick Jr.

Turkey or not?
When in the UK it's a goose. But this is our first Christmas in Spain despite living here 11 years. Consequently the main course will be "cochinillo"-suckling pig! I'm not sure how I am going to get through cooking this little cherub (it really looks so sweet), but promised Hubs I would try ;-)


If I could spend Christmas in any other place other than the UK or Spain where would I choose?
My first choice would be Switzerland where I have family, and where all Christmases were spent when I was a child. My second choice would Aspen, Colorado. As you can tell Christmas is not really Christmas for me without snow ;-)

What books am I hoping to receive this Christmas?
My Amazon wish list is about to combust. But if I can give just two choices (both non-fiction/autobiographical) it would be:
i)Life Without Limits-Nick Vujicic
ii) An Invisible Thread - Laura Schroff

What beauty product is my Christmas fail-safe?
It would have to be Clarins Beauty Flash Balm ( during the day) and Decleor Neroli oil (at night).

What do I buy the girlfriend that has everything?
It would have to be a Jo Malone Pine & Eucalyptus scented candle or Acqua di Parma Red Berries candle.

Anything else I would like to share?
* Christmas is not about perfection; so don't get so wrapped up in making everything perfect that you forget to stop and smell the roses
* savor every minute
*spend a few minutes just being grateful for all that we are fortunate to have
* forget calorie control for a few days. Life's too short :-)
*remember those less fortunate; there is always someone close by
*embrace the power of giving; it truly is the best feeling

Finally I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all the bloggers that did guest posts. We will have a few more between Christmas and New Year with the emphasis being on New Years celebrations instead, so keep your eyes peeled.

I would also like to thank all my wonderful followers and friends who have made my "baby steps" into blogging such a wonderful and joyous experience (despite not being a very keen writer).
Thank you ALL so much and I wish you all a wonderful holiday. Here's hoping Santa is kind to each and every one of you.

p.s Do stay tuned as we have two New Years Eve guest posts from very different parts of the world ;-)

Friends with Benefits
Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffiths are media sweethearts here in Spain. The media LOVE them. Why? Because they are always polite and gracious to the press and Antonio has never forgotten his Spanish roots. Just last weekend a photographer was following them whilst they were riding their bikes in Malaga. When he caught up with them, he was given a big hug by both and invited into the nearest bar for a coffee.

The Spanish love Melanie because she has embraced Spanish culture. Like me her language skills have a lot to be desired, but she tries, and the Spanish love a "trier".

Today Antonio gave an interview where he was explaining how whenever new Spanish actors come to Hollywood, him and Melanie open their homes to them, invite them to stay at their place(because he remembered how frightened he felt when he landed in LA alone). He cooks a huge paella, invites all his industry contacts, and does whatever he can to help aspiring actors in Hollywood.

In this interview he was speaking in particular about two specific actors who stayed with him (on separate ocassions) for months! When they were not staying in his home, they were on the phone daily asking Antonio to sort contacts out for them etc. He explained how now that "they" have made it big, when he sees them around they just turn the other way. They don't even acknowledge him or Melanie. One of the aforementioned individuals stayed in his home for over a year! Antonio was by no means complaining or sounding bitter. What he was saying was how sad that kind of behaviour was, because as fast as you can make it in Hollywood, it can chew you up and spit you out.

Who do you think he was talking about?

It is really sad when "friends" only use you for what they can obtain. Despite my professional background I am not very good at sussing out people close to me, who are like this; on the other hand my husband is really savvy.

What about you? Do you think there is a place for friends with benefits? Are you good at sussing out people like this quickly? How do you deal with "friends" like that before you kick them to the curb ;-)

Would be interested to hear your thoughts.

p.s you might also be interested in this post "Don't Forget Your Roots".
Tutu Gorgeous for Words
When I owned my first pair of ballet pumps ("ballerinas" in Spanish) I always assumed they came from France. Perhaps because about 25 years ago the only place to buy them in the UK was from a shop called 'French Sole'; hence my ignorance was born.
YSL's offerings for 2011

However since living in Spain, I now realise that this is a shoe that originated in Spain as far back as 1918 and has been a fashion staple for Spanish women ever since.

In 1918 they were first hand-made in Menorca and had no left or right foot; they were completely interchangeable.

Perhaps one of the reasons for their intense popularity in Spain (long before the likes of Kate Moss and Claudia Scheiffer were seen in theirs) was that in most towns in Spain, huge parts of the town still consist of cobbled stones, which wreak absolute havoc on heels. So unless you are going everywhere by car or taxi, ballerinas are the best way to hurl yourself across town during the day, without becoming wedged between two cobbles and being thrown 4 foot into the air with your knickers on display for the whole of the financial district in Madrid to see! (Yes, it happened to me!!!) So now you can understand why these have been my faithful companion ever since that fateful day over 10 years ago.

Jamie Mascaro's family started making hand-made ballerinas in the early days and since then have taken the world by storm, recently opening his flagship store in London Mayfair. He also recently just opened a store in Warsaw's prime shopping district as the Polish capital enters a new era of glamour.
Some of his new designs for Summer 2011-I just LOVE these!!

Unfortunately there are also many cheap copies being made that has taken the edge of this glamorous shoe. To remain as chic as they were intended, they still only look best in the softest leather possible for shoes and with the least amount of flourishes (for me at least).

As an aside: it shows how comfy and popular ballerinas are, they are also worn as part of the traditional matadors outfit (but always in black).
Discussing the best place in town for ballerinas

Will these form part of your summer wardrobe this year? Do you prefer plain and chic or colourful and fun? Or perhaps you can't stand them! Would love to hear your views.
Don't Forget Your Roots!
Since living in Spain I have been a huge fan of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

I “loved” them (notice the past tense being used?). But I could never understand why no-one I spoke to in Spain had a good word to say about either of them. In fact the majority of people hate the two of them with a passion (and as you can imagine, the Spanish are very passionate people, so much so my "research" about these two had to take place in dark secret corners, in very hushed tones).
But is it a case of sour grapes? But how could it be as the Spanish LOVE Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffiths? This is what was baffling.

Watching the Easter processions from a balcony in Malaga

So in the interest of getting to the bottom of this, I decided to “interview” (I use the term loosely) everyone I could; ranging from age 14 years to aged 82 years! I spoke to all friends, clients, customers, waiters at my favorite bar.......you name it, I had a quick word in anyone’s “shell-like” (ears, for my US friends) and asked them “What the hell is the problem?

What astounded me was that the responses I got, irrespective of who I spoke to, what part of Spain they were from, what age-group they fell into, what political party they supported, what social class they were from.........they all said the same thing.

Here are the reasons they gave:

*Javier Bardem and his mother (who seems constantly stapled to his side at all events) have always been policital activists here in Spain. In fact they were regarded as EXTREME Communists! Javier Bardem on numerous occasions in the past, at rallies in Spain, has spoken about his “hatred” for capitalism and ALL things American.

In fact he openly said during this period of his activism that if he ever won an Oscar, he wouldn’t even go to the US to collect it!


*The Spanish are really quite angry that neither of them give interviews in Spain. In fact Penelope has a reputation of being quite rude to journalists who want to ask her questions. Her stock answer is “it’s my private life!” And yet, both of them are on every talk show in the US talking about that very thing-their private life.

*Any time you see a photo of either of them in Spain they look so damn miserable. Why?

*And of course the final insult for the Spanish was when they elected to have their baby in the US.

Unlike Antonio Banderas who the Spanish love,this clearly isn’t a case of sour grapes. It’s deeper than that. And having conducted my” interviews” I too feel my support for them waning at a very high speed. I don’t have a problem with people re-inventing themselves, but re-writing history? Yes I have a problem with that.

Just as a closing aside. Most people now know that Penelope Cruz’s brother is now the “arm-candy” of Eva Longoria. He is always written about as “the famous Spanish musician brother of Penelope Cruz”. Let me just tell you, no one here has heard of him (never mind heard anything this famous musician has performed). Everyone in Spain knows she had a younger brother, but that was the extent of if. Famous musician??!!! When I show my friends magazines from the US or the UK they are seething. Why? Perhaps this is just another “social climber” in the family? Who knows.

Is it OK to re-invent yourself and move on from your past? Does wisdom come with age, therefore what was said 10 years ago shouldn’t influence people now? Should what we said when we were younger come back and haunt us now? Is being “politically astute” more important these days than being sincere, or have they sold their souls, and sold out on their roots? How far should one go to "re-invent" themselves?

Would love to hear your views?
Love her or hate her!

Well this month Victoria Beckham is gracing the cover of yet another Vogue (UK) for the sixth time on her own! Pretty impressive I think.

Now she has had her critics for as far back as I can remember but I have always loved her. Why?

It doesn’t seem to matter who knows her, they all seem to say the same thing; she is the funniest and most down-to-earth person they know. That surely doesn’t come easy when you have the world at your feet, are married to one of the most gorgeous men on the planet (well I think so!), and seem to have clothes and shoes that the rest of us can only dream of.

I remember when she appeared in Ugly Betty, the cast and crew were so surprised that she arrived at the studio only with her husband and her children; not a PA in sight!

Simon Cowell (who certainly doesn’t suffer fools gladly) said that she was the most down-to-earth celebrity he knew. That really is a compliment.

What I like about her is that all the time the British and Spanish press tore her to shreds, she just kept her head down. She didn’t retaliate; she just kept working hard at everything she did.

All my Spanish friends hate here and I think that is purely down to the press she received when David Beckham was playing in Spain for Real Madrid. She resisted living in Spain for many years, spoke of her dislike of garlic, and the Spanish have never forgiven her for that (if it's true).

Thankfully the US press (who love a “trier”) embraced her, and consequently she has come into her own and blossomed. I for one am really pleased for her. The British (especially the British press) seem to love building people up only to then get great pleasure from tearing them down. This has thankfully not happened since she moved to the US where the whole family have been embraced. So why are we Brits so surprised she wants to stay in the US?

She is definitely like Marmite; you either love her or hate. I definitely love her. Beneath the glossy mane, false eylashes and Berkin bags is a fighter with a steely ring of determination that never falters ; I love that!

What’s your view?
See more of the interview at www.vogue.co.uk