Mondays, Maggie Muses: Venice Beach

Venice Beach PierWe just got back from a warm sunny weekend in Venice Beach, CA. We were there to help a friend celebrate a milestone birthday. It was the perfect opportunity for friends to gather from around the country and enjoy some of what SoCal has to offer. Being a native Californian, it had been awhile since I visited my home state. I was not sure what to expect and I was pleasantly delighted the minute we arrived at this beach town.

Venice Beach

We had so much fun! Venice, or as my skater husband likes to call it “Dogtown”, was charming, eccentric, laid back and exciting all at the same time. From its crazy boardwalk, friendly natives, quaint canals and infamous shopping street, Abbot Kinney, it was the perfect mix of beach town and city life. So, if you ever happen to be in LA, go visit Venice Beach and enjoy the sun!

Mondays, Maggie Muses: A Visit to Nonostante Marras

Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, away from the city center, away from the Brera, the Duomo, and the hustle and bustle of a typical downtown corridor lies a magical and wondrous place. Antonio Marras has created a place full of old world charm and whimsy. It is called Nonostante Marras. Translated as “despite Marras”, this shop is where Antonio showcases his RTW clothing line. But the experience is so much more than shopping a typical designer boutique.

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nonostante marras exterior

Its humble entry leads you to an open courtyard filled with plants and if you wander for a little bit you will see Snow White and the seven dwarfs standing guard. Glance past the old factory windows, and you get excited at the thought to see what lies inside.

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Milan; the Good, the Sad and the Ugly

Another season, another trip to Milan (sigh).  Wait, that doesn’t sound right.  I promise that it’s not nearly as glamorous as it sounds.  Sure, I go to Italy usually twice a year to work with vendors and factories.  But it’s really hard work.  It’s a long travel day, endless walking, there’s jet lag and other side effects and I’m really only there for 4 nights.  I get up early and start working, so I never really get fully adjusted before it’s time to turn around and go back to Seattle.

But even if my internal clock is backwards and my feet feel like little loaves of bread, I do take time to visit the city of Milan. I take in some sights, find some new places and check in on the old favorites. I have mixed feelings about this last trip to the city, so I am calling this post “the Good, the Sad and the Ugly”.

On this trip, I hit all my appointments and got all the work done and then I had my whole last day free to roam the city.  So I spent the day shopping the windows of Milan, wandering the streets high and low.  I battled the crowds and I meandered on the side streets, I’m getting good at knowing the ins and outs of Milan and I’m a pro at the subway (metro).

Starting with the good:  Milan has so much classic architecture!  I can walk through the Galleria time after time and still amazed. The Duomo is stunning, it bursts high into the sky making me feel minuscule in comparison. I never tire of walking around in this area.  The perfect melting pot of neoclassical architecture with new and modern shops makes for very pleasant window shopping, despite the congestion of locals and tourists.

I have a new favorite fashion store, it’s called “& Other Stories” and they have everything you could want! Jewelry, accessories, clothing and make-up.  It’s like I walked into a fashionable person’s closet, color coordinated and curated by a professional stylist and it’s all very reasonably priced. I am regretting that I passed a little black dress and next time I will have to save my pennies so I can be impulsive.

I live for the boutique windows.  The italians are very creative and I can always count on the shops to have interesting  (and sometimes funny) windows full of inspiring ideas.  I loved the simple yet attractive neon window in a Brera showroom and of course the murdered gnome in the Navigli actually made me laugh out load.

Moving on to the sad, which is led by Chinese imports and an infiltration of big box chain stores.  I was in Porta Ticinese, across the street from from Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio.  This street has always attracted me for it’s historic neighborhood feel and a healthy mix of independent retail.  This time, I was looking at an American Apparel shop and it was disconcerting to say the least.  The indie retailers on this street used to inspire me and now I feel like it’s become homogenized, taken over by the corporations.  I had a similar feeling while staring in the windows of my favorite Milan shoe retailers.  The shops that once sold fine Italian footwear are now full of fast fashion items made in China.  There are stores that I once aspired to emulate, and now they are full of brands that you would recognize from department stores in the US.

Seeing all this saddens me but it also makes me feel grateful too. I feel really blessed that our shop can still offer beautiful handmade shoes and unique goods, because stores like ours are few and far between not only in our country but in Italy as well. Thank you to our customers for shopping with us and demanding quality goods, it’s our passion and we love to bring you all the things we hold dear and love.

Okay, now on to the ugly.  Graffitti, it’s everywhere and seriously out of control! Historic monuments tend to be sacred and yet, anything remotely public domain is covered with paint. Most of it is senseless tagging and there are a few attempts at something artistic but there is so much that I am desensitized and it’s all ugly.  I passed by a shop owner painting over his tagged store front and I thought, “Wow, that’s really great, he is handling the problem head on” and later I realized that the store front was a paint shop. Well, I guess he was obliged, I just hope his paint job will last longer than a week.

To end on a good note, my favorite thing about the city of Milan is its neighborhoods.  Navigli, Centro Storico, Corso Como, Porta Ticinese and the Brera each have their own character and charm.  The piazzas, parks and gardens paired with the architecture of the buildings make it a pleasure to stroll and enjoy. Every time I visit, I try to discover a new area but I’m always frequenting my favorites.  Milan is a busy metropolitan area and it may not be the first choice destination for travelers but what I have learned over the years of visiting, if you take the time to get to know the city, Milan has all the excitement and charm of other famed Italian cities, just in a different way.

Mondays, Maggie Muses: Retro Travel Posters

Hi, I’m Maggie. My husband (Legh) and I own re-souL. I like to “muse” about things that inspire me. Especially on Mondays.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Augustine of Hippo

In my opinion, Traveling is one of the best things in life. It’s a time to go explore new places, rediscover some favorites or maybe revisit the old places of our youth.  It is good for the soul,  a time to connect with others and experience new things.

Travel used to be quite romantic, especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s when it was an exotic and an elegant adventure.  I can even remember in the 70’s, my parents would plan out our entire wardrobe for our trips. My mother would dress us in our “plane” clothes which were not necessarily comfortable, but we were a fine looking bunch!  We even had matching purple Samsonite luggage. There were no problems finding our suitcases in baggage claim.

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Vintage Braniff Airlines poster via flickr.

Today, the glamour has fallen out of travel.  Witness the masses in their sweatpants and (practically) pajamas, waiting to board their plane.  Comfort is king at the airports!  Crowded flights, uncomfortable seats and practically no amenities, really who can blame them? The marketing is also radically different today, it seems that today’s advertisements  flaunt unattainable luxury or are splattered with gaudy banners of spectacular travel deals.

So you can see why today, I muse about the vintage travel posters.  I particularly like the style of these posters because they are clean and simple.  They focus more on the art and are less about the advertisement.  They are stylish and remind me how much I love to travel, fire my imagination, make me want to go visit and experience these alluring locations.

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David Klein via Vintage Poster Blog

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India from Swiss Air and Mid-century travel poster to Japan by Toshio Fukai via Pinterest

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Jet service to Africa, Union Aeromaritime de Transport by Jean Colin via flickr.

Although we don’t typically see posters like this anymore, Heads of State, a design and illustration studio, has some really nice designs in their travel series.  I really like this one, wonder why?

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The Emerald City by Heads of State.

I also love this one by Turnstyle Studio. Makes me want to buy new luggage,  dress up, take travel back!  Yeah,  I want my glamour back!

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Teague Take Travel Back, design by Turnstyle.

All these posters are giving me some serious wanderlust.  Better go plan a weekend getaway to suffice my craving.  Ooh, maybe I should by a new carry-on. What do you think?