Tag Archives: Florida

Remembering Jack Kerouac

21 Oct

 

Jack Kerouac

March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969

Jack Kerouac was only forty-seven years old when he passed away. The day before he died, he’d been drinking whiskey and writing at his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, when he suddenly felt ill. He called out to his wife, a Greek American from his hometown of Lowell, and Stella Sampas Kerouac got him to St. Anthony’s Hospital, where he ultimately died from his internal hemorrhage. He was buried in Edson Cemetery in Lowell, in the Sampas family plot.

 

 

Hemingway’s Weirdo Six-Toed Cats

24 Jul

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

 

I’ve known for a long time that Ernest Hemingway liked cats. A lot. Key West is said to be overrun with cats because of him, which is probably a bit of an exaggeration.

But here’s a weird fact I just found out: About half of the cats that hang out at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida, have six toes! Normal cats have five toes in the front and four in the back, but not Hemingway’s cats. Hemingway’s cats have six toes.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum explains why there are about 50 extra-toed cats running around:

Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snowball. Key West is a small island and it is possible that many of the cats on the island are related.

Six-toed cats are called polydactyl cats, but today many people use the term Hemingway cat as a stand in. You can read more about polydactyls and the history of the author’s cats here.

Other famous literary cat lovers include Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

Greek American Fashion Week Presents Nikki Poulos

18 Sep

Nikki Poulos kicked off the 2013 Greek American Fashion Week runway event.

Nikki Poulos does retro right. The fashion designer’s eponymous ready-to-wear collection has vintage appeal with modern sensibilities. Poulos’ designs are all about bold graphic prints, feisty colors, and flirty cuts. They’re figure-flattering and sexy but never uncouth.

Take this punchy Palm Beach look for instance. The model has mile-long legs in these chic high-waisted shorts. The shorts are perfectly balanced with a conservatively cut shirt in bright stripes colors. Is it any surprise that Poulos is based in Delray Beach, Florida?

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Poulos is tops when it comes to bottoms. In addition to those killer-cute shorts, she has designed pants and a jumpsuit that ooze femininity.  Poulos pulls off the printed pant with a nod to the seventies.

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Her printed dresses offer something for everyone. Poulos’ maxis achieve that ideal balance between unfussy and stylish. Whereas the maxis may have plunging necklines, the tighter, shorter dresses—which have a Lily Pulitzer vibe—feature higher necklines, so that the right amount of skin is always showing. Right in the middle is the knee-length, button-down blouse dress, whose cut is reminiscent of the office wear of the fifties and sixties.

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Poulos is also a fan of stripes, and this little number is simply adorable. The boat neck collar, synch-tied sleeves, and belt are very gamine. The short scarf is quintessential fifties, adding a playful twist. (If someone finds the accessory too retro, they could swap it with a short red beaded necklace or a chunky gold necklace, but really the scarf does the trick!)

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Given the nautical stripes of this look, it’s not surprising that Nikki Poulos’ heritage stems from Kythera, a Greek island off the Peloponnese that was a naval crossroads.

Poulos starred on NBC’s “Fashion Star,” and her collection was included in the European spin-off of “Next Top Model.” She recently launched ‘nikki by nikki poulos’ on HSN. Her designs have been featured in the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Elle, Lucky, and Fitness magazines.

Fun fact: Poulos studied marine biology and worked in coral reef conservation:

In the 1990’s, Nikki was the designer and proprietor of ‘ecobaby’ an environmentally friendly babies and children’s clothing business in her native hometown Sydney, Australia. A love affair with the ocean led Nikki to pursue a career in marine biology and her Bachelor of Science degree and a scholarship opportunity brought Nikki to US shores. Working in coral reef conservation, Nikki juggled the dichotomy between science and fashion; ultimately her creativity lured her back to the fashion world.

I wish I could raid Poulos’ closet. I love, love, love her designs. Her nikki collection on HSN is actually quite affordable and adorable.

 

My Clothes Still Smell Like My Grandma

4 Jan

When I was growing up in Closter, New Jersey, there was beautiful blue fir right outside my balcony window. I can only recall one white Christmas. The snow blanketed the pine needles, turning the outdoors into a winter wonderland. It was even more fantastical than anything Hollywood could produce.

Over the years, my mother suggested we go on vacation for Christmas. I was dead set against this. I don’t recall ever believing in Santa Claus, so it’s not as if I was afraid Santa wouldn’t find us to drop off the gifts. Rather, I knew that if we went on vacation that would mean less gifts because the money would go toward hotel rooms.

Also, even as a young child I felt it important for my family to be all together in our home. My father was usually working so we didn’t spend a lot of time together as a whole family. Holidays represented a time for us to come together, and it seemed like for something as holy as Christmas we should   be in our house instead of each running off in different directions on the beach and distracted by landmarks. We’d done enough traveling for me to know that trying to please children with seven years of age difference and parents with dissimilar interests never worked.

Once the last of the children had flown the nest, we stopped spending Christmas as a family altogether.

Nine years later, we reunited for Christmas in Florida. Instead of a blue fir, there was a palm tree outside my window.

I remember the first time I ever saw a palm tree in real life. I was in fifth grade and had gone with my family to Florida to see my grandma and go to Disney World. We got off the plane, and pulling out of the airport I saw the many palmed leaves of a palm tree against the backdrop of a blue sky. It looked like a cheerleader’s pom-pom or a wig on a Muppet. I was enamored.

We spent Christmas this year in my grandma’s condo. I remember playing out in the backyard with my little sister, taking photographs of us with the exotic palm trees. The same palm trees still shake their confetti heads into the coastal breeze. But so much has changed…. My sister, for one, is no longer little. She is a woman with a life of her own. She has a career in which she speaks about resolutions and treaties to delegates from around the world. She will one day, maybe before I’m even ready for it, have her own family.

For every new beginning, there is also an ending.

Many years ago, my grandma died. She died on the day of my sister’s high-school graduation.

That was more than a decade ago, and her immaculate white condo still reeks of the cigarettes she smoked that caused her lung cancer. The cigarette smoke is in the white chairs and in the white sofa and seeped into the white carpet. And when I flew back to New York City, I realized my grandma’s smell had clung to my black puffy jacket. A part of her came with me.

I miss my grandma a lot. It was hard for me being back in her place without her even though I’d been there only two other times since she passed away. Various members of my family have spent significant time there, but it’s still her place to me. Her presence lingers so strong that even all these years later her smell is still a part of her  home.

In another day or so, the smell of cigarette smoke will leave my jacket, but for now I want to hold onto it. I want to hold onto her.

If you would like to stop smoking, here is a free resource.

How I Spent My Name Day

31 Dec

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For my name day, my family took me to Delray Beach, Florida. It’s a cute little oceanside town with lots of restaurants, antique shops, surf shops, and galleries. My favorite part of the trip was looking in the display cases at the antique store with my mom. When I was a little girl, she used to always take me with her to the antique stores we both loved so much. When we all moved, we had to give up a lot of our family heirlooms. Tea cups from my grandma’s side of the family. Handmade doilies from my yiayia’s side of the family. Exquisite purchases my parents had made when decorating their own home. I loved reminiscing with my mom in Delray Beach.

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Photo via Cupcake Couture.

We also went to a super adorable cupcake shop my sister loves called Cupcake Couture.  All the cupcakes are named after fashion designers. I got the Jean Paul Peanutier, pictured above. So yummy! The frosting was a light whipped peanut butter. Oh my gosh, I’m salivating just thinking about it.

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Photo via Wags to Riches.

We also stopped into a fancy pet shop called Wags to Riches. It was the type of place that sold rhinestone collars and designer-looking clothes in miniature form for dogs. They had some adorable puppies. I’m currently looking for an apartment right now that will allow pets because I’d like to get a dog of my own. I’m thinking of getting a Maltese. If you’ve ever had one, let me know in the comments section if they’re easy to train. Otherwise, I might get a poodle, which is what I had growing up.

After Delray Beach we went out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. It wasn’t my choice, and it was bittersweet for me. The last time I’d been to that particular Cheesecake Factory was with my grandma, who has since passed away.