Friday, November 15, 2013

Christmas Cards for the Rich!

Have you started your holiday greeting cards yet? I know it's only mid November, but with so much to do for the holidays it's best to get started on the greeting cards right away.

In the world of the rich greeting cards are not optional. In fact they're mandatory, and Hallmark cards aren't going to cut it. (Sorry Hallmark, no offense intended whatsoever.)

In early September I ordered the necessary number of personalized greeting cards my rich employer requires, and in October delivered them to our calligrapher for addressing the envelopes. In fact, she'll have them ready by the end of this week - plenty of time for my dotty old employer to add his signature or personal hand-written words, as he so desires.

I know there are beautiful cards out there in every elegant department store and boutique, with designs by the best of artists. But around here we always resort to Crane and Company - makers of fine stationary for the rich, and the very paper our United States dollars are printed on.

From this company you can get a nice box of 100 personalized greeting cards (including your own inside message and choice of fonts and colors) for easily under $500 dollars. In fact, the more cards you order, the lower the price per card. They also have pre-made cards that drops the price considerably, almost down to Hallmark prices. But at least you'll still have the Crane & Company insignia.

The thing is, social correspondence for the rich is a deadly serious business. If you have time for further reading on the subject, several months back I wrote four different posts about the importance of hand-written communications in the world of the rich.

RSVP, Invitations, and Regrets;
Thank You Notes;
Stationery for the Rich;
Calligraphy for the Rich.

I hope this hasn't been too long or overbearing, but if you wait 'til the last minute to do your greeting cards then the whole attempt might become more of a chore rather than the pleasure it should be in reaching out to say "Hello" to our friends and loved ones at this special time of year.

Thanks for dropping in this evening,


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Shut Down the Holidays!

Okay, so Halloween is behind us and the tidal wave is just ahead - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's in rapid order.

Even though it's still two months out we're beginning to hear Christmas jingles on the TV, right? And all the stores and shops are starting to gear up. The Hallmark channel has already knocked The Golden Girls off the air and started their sappy reruns of lugubrious holiday movies.

In my naiveté, the thought occurs to me that since our current dysfunctional Congressmen are so prone to shutting things down (like the United States government for example), perhaps they could do something truly beneficial for the American people just for once and shut down the holidays.

Not forever, mind you. Just this one year and give us a break. I'm sure we could all use a rest from the annual onslaught of commercial fawning that denigrates the holidays in the first place - not to mention leaving us exhausted and throwing us all into debt.

As popular as this idea might be in the polls, if history is any indication Congress would probably just kick the holidays down the road a few months - shoving Thanksgiving and Christmas right up against Easter and Spring Break. And what good would that do anyone?

The reason this comes up, with the divorce and the new girlfriend on the scene I have no idea what to expect these coming holidays, no clue whatsoever as to how to proceed or prepare, and I'm dreading it no end. With the former wife there would have been endless parties and galas, well planned in advance. But this year, who knows?

Thanks for stopping by tonight. I do hope your holiday plans and preparations are a little less frustrating than mine. But it sure would be sweet to just skip it all for one year.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Holiday Treats: Blood Sausage!

Throughout Europe, Asia, and Central and South America blood sausages, also known as blood pudding or black pudding, are part of the everyday staple diet. But not so here in America.

Depending on the particular culture the ingredients begin with raw blood from farm animals or wild game and fowl, and will include such fillers as onions, rice, buckwheat, rye flour, barley, oatmeal, even potatoes to absorb the liquid - plus a wide range of spices. During the holidays special ingredients such as apples, nuts, raisins, and cream can be added to make it an extra-special treat. It can be served like a pudding in neat little rounds or squares, or squeezed into a sausage casing.

My rich employers like to try exotic fare and prefer costly artisan sausages of course - their favorite recipe being venison blood, wild rice, pinion nuts and French cognac within the sausage, and a wild-mushroom sauce on top.

For some reason however, blood sausage never really made it big in the United States. I'm not sure why that is, but I suspect it has something to do with the Puritans who introduced many elements that underlie the American culture. Perhaps they had an abhorrence to pagan blood sacrifices. Who knows?

Having said that, you can find it in many ethnic neighborhoods across America. Or you can get on Google and ask "where to buy blood sausage" in your city. Some of these specialty shops, if paid well enough, will make your recipe to order. Which is precisely what I resort to since I'm not about to make it myself.

It's not really hard to prepare, but it's time consuming and will cost you a fortune. It requires a full-service butcher shop (very rare in America) that offers up every part of the animal from brains and stomachs to tongue and blood - and you might pay a hundred bucks for a gallon of fresh blood. If you're adventurous and dedicated to your job as butler you might find a local slaughter house that would let you fill up a gallon of fresh blood yourself - which I'm not about to do. I'd rather find a new job in a house full of Puritans.

But if you're looking for something unique and exotic to serve for the holidays you might give a thought to blood puddings - served in neat little rounds or squares, or squeezed inside a sausage casing - and they can be bland, spicy, or sweet, depending on your event and palate. Indeed, if some of your family members or friends have any noticeable vampire tendencies, whether overt or latent, this might be just the thing.

Best wishes during your holiday preparations,


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Confusion in the Mansion!

It's happening again - the Mister is being nice to me and I have no earthly idea what's going on! We've been through this nonsense before, which normally lasts only two or three days, but this time it's been going on for almost two weeks.

As the butler here I'm accustomed to dealing with rich peoples' oddities and quirks, of course. But this bizarre behavior on his part will eventually drive me crazy.Without question, I'm highly suspicious. Something's definitely up. What does he want?

Sometimes when he's nice it's just to butter me up so I'll serve as a dependable character witness in whatever lawsuit is at hand. But normally that's just a couple of days before the court date, and then over and done with.

Maybe it's because he's suddenly carrying on two affairs at the same time, and simply wants me to accept it without questions and keep my mouth shut. Very possible.

More insidiously, however, I'm suspecting he's trying to make me feel uncomfortable so I'll quit my job voluntarily and not cost him any unemployment-insurance contributions. Very possible, indeed. The old goat really knows how to get under my skin.

We'll see. But this happy mood he seems to be encouraging is certainly no way to approach the dreaded holidays to come - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, in rapid order. Will let you know how this horrible mess develops. But if this keeps up, I've got to get out of here.

Thanks for stopping by tonight,


Friday, October 11, 2013

Luxury Mattresses for the Rich!

You know, a good night's sleep is one thing but what's going on in the titillating world of mattress manufacturing is really getting crazy. Apparently manufacturers have discovered their cash cows lie among the super rich - and they're pandering to them left and right. I totally understand the bragging rights for a new Ferrari or Patek Philippe watch - but a new mattress?

Did you know there's a British company called Savoir Beds that offers rest and comfort in the $10,000 to $20,000 range? And that's their low end. In fact, in commemoration of Regina's sixty years on the throne they're making sixty custom-made 'Royal Beds' for $175,000 each. To be fair, this price does include a canopy with drapes, in case you're wondering.

The reason this comes up, I had an email from a reader name Sonia who was shopping for a new mattress and inquired as to what brand my billionaire employers prefer. While I hate to disappoint, this house is full of reliable Sealy Posturepedics - I'm guessing in the two to three-thousand range.

Having admitted that, we do add expensive mattress toppers and the sheets on these relatively-inexpensive mattresses are from Pratesi in Italy, upwards of $5,000 a set.

Sonia also asked about how often a mattress should be switched out. I know the manufacturers are currently promoting eight years as the time to buy a new bed, but whether this is based on scientific evidence or just meant to promote sales, I haven't a clue. (I mean, doesn't it make a difference if the mattress is accommodating a young couple romping and sweating their way through the night, or an older couple who barely turn over once or twice during their sleep?)

All I know is that around here mattresses are seemingly switched out between each and every marriage. Which in  my opinion is entirely appropriate, don't you think?

Before closing, I might also mention you can get a decent comfortable mattress from Walmart for considerably less than $175,000. Trust me on that point. 

Thanks for dropping by,


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Practical Strategy for Christmas Shopping!

Good gosh, October's here and the holidays are closing in fast. Already on TV we're seeing the Energizer Bunny ads for all the gadgets and toys under the Christmas tree. The Pillsbury Doughboy is popping up on every channel. And all those silly sexy perfume commercials are well under way.

But if you plan everything carefully there's really no need for stress or panic - and I thought perhaps you'd like to know how we handle all the shopping madness in a billionaire's home. The simple key is to divide your gifts into rank and groups, then proceed accordingly. Here's the categories we follow around here:

People You Hate: This would be your neighbors, your co-workers and distant relatives who've heard about your success and money. Try to get these token gifts out of the way as soon as possible so you can get into the joyous mood of holiday shopping. I recommend Harry and David where you'll find gift baskets of cheese, candy or nuts - from cheap to expensive. You'll probably want to go cheap in this category since it's the thought that counts, right?

People You Need: This category includes your top employees, your corporate CEO, your business partners, your attorney (who has saved your butt more than once from frivolous lawsuits), maybe even your massage therapist who'll run over in a moment's notice. In addition to a bonus, again I'm going to recommend Harry and David, although this time you'll want to go high-dollar with expensive wines and cheese included in the gift basket.

People You Like: Of course, this will be a short list and can be dispensed with quite easily. There's a wonderful store called Hammacher Schlemmer in New York that has the most amazing and exciting gadgets and gifts you can find anywhere, from low dollar to high. You can shop online, and they'll send the gifts for you.

People You Love: This list might include your mother, a new girlfriend, your children, perhaps even your wife. Whatever the case, get ready to spend some big bucks in this category. Neiman's, Bergdorf, Tiffany and Cartier come to mind. And you might want to make this effort on your own, instead of sending out your house staff or personal shopper.

So you see, all said and done, this need not be a stressful time of year. Just get organized - divide and conquer as it were, and get started.

Thanks for dropping by, and happy shopping!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Oscar de la Renta: Where Rich People Shop!

With Christmas already starting to percolate in the back of our minds, it's time to resume the topics about where rich people shop, in case you're anxious to unload a bundle of cash. I'm sure you've heard of Oscar de la Renta - a brand that's been part of our collective history and culture for decades, whether we can afford to shop there or not.

De la Renta became internationally famous during the 1960's as couturier for the elegant Jacqueline Kennedy, and has continued to dress the rich and famous from film stars to royalty to this very day. I believe he has about seventy-five stores now, scattered around the world where the rich congregate. And while haute couture is still offered, his stores also have off-the-rack, ready-to-wear items as well.

But did you know De la Renta's stores are among the very most expensive places on earth to shop? Way up there with the House of Bijan. The reason this comes up tonight - remember I told you the Mister has a new girlfriend? Well, last weekend he took her on a shopping spree to De la Renta's store in New York.

On Monday the upstairs maid Ester accidentally saw the receipt from this little outing in the dressing rooms and reported it immediately to me by text. The total bill was just over thirty-seven-thousand dollars ($37,000) for only twenty-two items.

While this kind of nonchalant spending makes my head spin, it's truly nothing out of the ordinary for the super rich. In fact, if they had stopped by Cartier's or Tiffany's that afternoon, who knows what the day's drop might have been.

But if you're in need of some fancy threads yourself or just want to pick up a few Christmas gifts, here's a link to Oscar de la Renta's extraordinary world.

Thanks for dropping by, and happy shopping!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Imperial Faberge Eggs!

Yesterday I had to deliver a gift to one of my employer's friends, and while there the house manager was kind enough to gave me a quick tour of the downstairs.

Although the house was attractive overall it was obviously the work of an interior decorator, with no personal touches from the family to speak of - usually the telltale sign of the new rich. To me these kinds of rooms appear cold and uninviting - like being in an up-scale furniture store rather than a private home.

While I was trying to be polite, you can imagine my shock when I spotted a knock-off copy of a Faberge egg sitting in a prominent place in the formal living room. What on earth? My first rational thought was that the decorator should immediately be thrown into prison and tortured, perhaps even locked in a room full of Alexander Calder mobiles. Plus I was confused as to why the house manager hadn't taken it upon himself to accidentally break this hideous objet d'art years ago.

You see, rich people generally eschew copies of anything - going straight for the original. And failing that, they'll buy something else altogether rather than expose themselves to gossip at having knock-offs sitting around the house.

There were only about fifty Imperial Faberge Eggs created in the first place, by Peter Carl Faberge for the Tsars of Russia. Reportedly only forty-two survive, and these bejeweled eggs are valued in the multi-millions. While a few might be in the hands of a rich private collector, most are cloistered in museums around the world, especially the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow.

Certainly they are not sitting on a coffee table inside the home of a new-rich family.

There are several companies offering Faberge-style eggs, some of them quite expensive, even into the low thousands. And there's nothing wrong with that - as long as they're meant for an obscure shelf somewhere, or perhaps a child's bedroom.

But for prominent display? No, don't do that. Scandal and gossip is the only possible outcome.

Here's a link to images of the Imperial Eggs. Again, each and every one worth millions. Not a bad deal for something that comes out of a chicken's butt.

Thanks for dropping in,



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Credit Cards for the Rich: The American Express Black Card!

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but a huge and fun part of my job is running errands for my rich employers. Whenever the Missus sends me out on one of these assignments (especially if it's to Neiman's) she usually hands me her American Express card - the Black Card.

The first thing you notice about this peculiar card is that it's really, really heavy, compared to all the light-weight cards we carry around in our wallets. The second thing is it's really, really thick - to the point I worry if it will actually slide through anyone's credit card reader.

Even though I might be unshaven and dressed in old jeans and t-shirt, I can't help but notice the lifted eyebrows and attitude adjustment when I take out the Black Card and hand it to a clerk at Bergdorf's or Saks Fifth Avenue.

I'd heard whispering and rumors about the Am Ex Black Card for years of course, but wasn't sure if it truly existed or not. You see, it's not advertised and in the past it's not something you could apply for -  it was by invitation only from American Express to big spenders on their traditional Green Card.

Nowadays the rules may have changed, but it's fairly out in the open this prestigious card really does exist - although the membership, both domestic and international, is reportedly quiet small.

While information about the members and the requirements to carry the card is still rather secretive, from what I can gather you must spend at least a quarter-of-a-million dollars a year on the card ($250,000) to remain a member - and there's an annual fee of $2,500.

But what's that to a billionaire?

As we all know, prestige in the world of the rich seems to be highly important. While dignity, honor and respect are harder to come by, prestige is still one of those commodities that money can easily and always buy.

Thanks for dropping in this evening.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Patrick Dennis: An Extraordinary Butler!

Miss Helen brought something to my attention I want to share with you tonight. Did you ever read the novel Auntie Mame? Or perhaps see the Broadway stage adaptation Mame, starring Rosalind Russell?

Later there was a Broadway musical starring Angela Lansbury, widely known on TV for Murder She Wrote. Or maybe you've seen the film adaptation and its many reruns on television, starring Lucille Ball, known on TV for I love Lucy. (Hollywood gossip has it that Ball got the part because of her wider fame at the time, not because of her voice, and the film didn't do well at the box office.)

In any case, the book was written by Patrick Dennis, and it was one of the best-selling novels of the 20th Century. On the New York Times bestseller list for two years, it sold over two million copies in five different languages - sometimes a thousand copies a day flying off book shelves.

But something happened to Patrick Dennis (which was his pen name, by the way) and he stopped writing altogether. No one really knows why for sure.

Then he started to use his real name, Edward Everett Tanner, and decided to become a butler. He took a job with Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's, and Kroc would later say he and his family had no idea their butler was the world famous author.

Patrick Dennis/ Edward Tanner died in 1976, and his secrets went along with him.

His original manuscripts reside to this day with both Yale and Boston Universities.

Truly extraordinary, is all I can say.

Thank you for stopping by this evening.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Champagne Glasses: Coupes, Flutes and Tulips

While I think you'll agree that my trashy friends serving champagne in a Styrofoam cup is better than no champagne at all, you're probably aware that serving it in this manner might be considered gauche in some circles - which of course could expose you to gossip and possibly even scandal.

To avoid this potential ostracism you might want to consider having some proper stemware on hand for those occasions when Styrofoam just won't do. But even so, you still may not be able to please everyone. You see, there's three main types of stemware designed to enhance the sensory experience that champagne has to offer - not just taste and aroma but also visual.

The Champagne Coupe, popular back in the 1930's thru the 70's is the traditional style seen in old movies and sometimes modern-day weddings. While many people are fond of this broad-bowl style and wouldn't give it up for anything, the main objection is the wide surface area which allows the carbonation and all the bubbles to dissipate much too quickly. Nowadays you mostly see this type of glass being used for Margaritas and daiquiris.

The Champagne Flute, on the other hand, is tall and thin compared to the coupe. The smaller surface area keeps the bubbles and flavor from escaping too quickly, not to mention the pleasing sight of watching the bubbles rise all the way from the bottom of the glass to the top. By far this style has become the most popular for the past few decades, not just in private homes but in bars and restaurants as well. No doubt the easier storage has something to do with it.

The Champagne Tulip is also fairly popular. Tall like the flute, it too keeps the bubbles from evaporating too quickly, but it's larger at the top than the flutes. Some aficionados prefer this, since it allows more space for the nose to get closer to the aroma. Shaped like a tulip with a bit of a belly, this glass resembles a white wine glass, to the point where some homes and restaurants use them interchangeably - champagne being a white wine in origin, after all.

Once you've decided which style suits you best, or at least which one would bring the least criticism, then Wedgwood, Waterford, Riedel and Baccarat are good places to get started. In this house there's enough Baccarat flutes to serve a decent-size party. At roughly a hundred-and-fifty dollars per glass you don't want to drop a tray of these when getting them out of storage.

But you need not spend a fortune, by the way. My own flutes are from Pottery Barn - a set of six for about twelve dollars per glass. Maybe they're not crystal, but you'll have to admit it's a step up from Styrofoam.

Hope you're having a nice summer, and thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Do Rich People Take Vacations?

I love this question, and so appropriate for this time of year. But are you kidding me? From my point of view rich people are on vacation 24/7, three-hundred-sixty-five days a year.

For most of us we get a miserable week or two off once a year, right? And we use the time to rest and wind down, maybe make some improvements around the house, or perhaps take a family trip to the beach, Disney World or the Grand Canyon - depending on our energy and available cash. And we call this a vacation.

In most European countries everyone from corporation CEO's to dishwashers and garbage collectors get a full month off every year! To rest, recover and re-energize themselves for the work year ahead. But for some dastardly reason here in America we're not that nice or generous to each other in our work places - which is thinly described by our government and corporate executives as our highly-productive work ethics here in the USA.

Work until you drop is what they really mean. But hey, just before you drop, go ahead and take a week or two off. Gee thanks, corporate America. If it weren't for Labor Unions we wouldn't even get that, would we? Or holiday pay either.
But getting back to the original question the answer is no, rich people do not take vacations - at least as we understand them. Vacation from what would be the first question! Sleeping 'til noon every day?

They travel throughout the year both for business and pleasure. They take journeys when they visit several countries in a row. They take sojourns to the deep jungles of Africa or a climb up Machu Picchu. And they may take a  pilgrimage to their holy sites at the Vatican in Rome, or Nepal, Mecca, or Jerusalem. And they definitely take respites to their favorite rehab clinics in Switzerland to drop a few pounds or have a little nip and tuck here and there.

But do rich people take vacations? No. That's what we do - the rabble, the drones, the workers. Even in a high-paying corporate job your Employee Handbook will tell you how many months or years you have to work to get just one week off, and how many more years to get two.

I didn't mean for this to come across as negative about American productivity and our so-called work ethics. But honestly, why can't Americans have a whole month off like Europeans? It doesn't make any sense.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Patek Philippe: Watches for the Rich!

The first time I ever heard of Patek Philippe was quite a few years back when my friend Ray in New York told me he was going to sell his father's hand-me-down watch to help raise cash for a new business venture - a film he and his colleagues were trying to put together.

I tagged along that day, expecting to schlep around to all the high-end pawn shops in Midtown Manhattan and to the jewelry exchanges in the diamond district. But instead, we took  a taxi to York Avenue on the Upper East Side where he turned the watch over to Sotheby's Auction House.

And a few months later my friend Ray received a check from Sotheby's for $33,500! Whoa! That's some kind of hand-me-down, right? Then a few years after that, while staying with friends in Switzerland, I used to walk past the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva almost every day of the week for the entire summer - and never went in! What was I thinking?

Horologists to European royalty and rich people all over the globe, Patek Philippe has been around since the early 1800's, and if I'm not mistaken they hold the record for the world's most expensive watches, at over a million dollars! But not to panic; they're not all million-dollar watches, of course. They do have a middle range - anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 - to accommodate both the billionaires and the lowly millionaires. 

In addition (and here's the good news) they also have a low-end line for those just getting started in their upward climb into the world of the UHNW. With no trouble at all you can find a nice little watch in the $10,000 to $50,000 range. 

The reason this all came up is because the Missus had a birthday this week. And Ester the Upstairs Maid reports there's an open, empty watch box in the boudoir with the label Patek Philippe. Of course I can't wait to see it and figure out if it's low end or high. (It's the diamonds surrounding the face of the watch that jacks the price of a lady's watch sky high.)

Anyhow, I'm really kicking myself tonight for not having gone into that museum in Geneva. How dumb can you be? I think it was Aristophanes who said, "Ignorance can be educated, but stupid is forever."

As always, thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wine Care! Who Cares?

I've been asked many times about the proper way to store and age wine.While I don't pretend to be an expert in the field, still there's some basic things we all need to know to keep our wine purchase from turning into an expensive bottle of vinegar.

If you're thinking about buying some wines at the supermarket and aging them for a few years, forget it. Wines released to the market today (which I'll refer to as 'table wines') have already achieved their maturity potential and do not age well beyond the release date. They're meant to be consumed now, or within the next few months.

But some wines (usually quite expensive) have the required ingredients to age for many years and decades, with the taste and value increasing right along. Which inspires the serious hobby of wine collecting for fun and profit. And auction prices can be in the many thousands for one particular label or year.

But it's a huge gamble. Here's the thing - both inexpensive table wines and notable collector wines are capable of going bad. In fact with any wine whatsoever, vinegar is always lurking in the shadows. Most wine fans already know how to care for their acquisitions, but it doesn't hurt to go over the basics. The first three on the following list will take care of most of our needs:

-Wine needs to be kept cool: Between 55 to 60 degrees for collector wines seems to be the consensus. For our table wines, air-conditioned room temperature (about 72 degrees) is ok for a while. For serving, they can be chilled down in your fridge. But refrigerators are actually too cold for long term storage.

-No sunlight: Just leave your bottle of wine sitting out on the kitchen counter with sunlight streaming in through the window and see what happens. Vinegar! Most wine bottles are tinted to reduce the amount of light penetrating the bottle, but it's not enough. So keep it in a darkened place. Even counter-top wine racks, as attractive as they might be, need to be covered and protected from light..

-Store them on their sides: This keeps the wine pushed up against the cork, which keeps the cork moist. Any household wine rack will have a tilt already built in for this very purpose. There's absolutely nothing worse than a dried-out cork that crumbles when you try to open it. When that does happen, you can salvage the wine by pushing the cork all the way into the bottle, then pour it through a strainer into a decanter.

-Humidity: Okay, most of us never have to worry about this. But serious wine collectors do. You see, while the inside of the cork can be kept moist by laying wines on their sides, the outside of the cork is exposed to the air around, and over the years can dry out and crumble. Which may let oxygen into the bottle and spoil the wine.

-Do Not Disturb: Collector wines should not be turned or subjected to vibrations. In fact, in most famous wine cellars even dusting is not allowed.

The truth is, no one knows how a wine will age, not even a rich collector. And when you pay a small fortune at an auction for a famous label or year, you have no idea how the wine has been stored or transported over the years, and may very well have just purchased a bottle of vinegar!

In any good restaurant there's a long-established custom where the waiter pours a sip of wine into the customer's glass (whether it's a cheap table wine or a two-thousand dollar vintage) just to see if it's ok, right? This is not a wine-tasting moment to accommodate the customer's quirky tastes, but simply to see if the wine he's specifically chosen has turned to vinegar or not. If it's not vinegar, you pay for it whether you actually like it or not.

Rich people who are lucky enough to have a wine cellar can control all the above requirements for storing wine: a steady year-round temperature down in the cellar, away from sunlight, and cellars always have a certain amount of humidity. But what about billionaires living in high-rise penthouse apartments? And those of us living in homes without basements or cellars?

Specially designed wine closets are the only option. And there's some amazing models out there that control all the storage factors. They can even electronically track your inventory and suggest a particular wine in your closet to match whatever your chef has prepared for dinner. But these closets are subject to air-conditioning breakdowns and power outages, right?

So if you're a serious investor with a multi-million-dollar collection of fine wines, there are professional companies in most major cities that will store your wines under guarded, guaranteed conditions with back-up generators - and there is insurance available against any loss you may suffer.

The subject of wine collecting and wine aging is not only fascinating but can be seriously lucrative when it comes time for auction. But it's not for the faint of heart! For more info on the topic just Google "wine storage" or "how to age wine". You'll find yourself with millions of interested parties.

Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, February 25, 2013

Is Anyone Doing Lent This Year?

You know, I've complained before about this nutty Gregorian calendar we follow but it didn't do one bit of good, did it?

The holidays are never on the same date. None of us can keep up. And the whole thing is so imprecise that we need a leap year just to get back on track. Julius Caesar (back in the BC's) and Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 gave it their best shot to work this calendar out. But it's still so messed up.

Last year Lent began on February 22, right? But this year really takes the cake!

It began on February 13, the day BEFORE Valentines! How messed up is that? What if you were planning to give up champagne and chocolates for Lent? The day before Valentines?

It's just too much!

I don't know about you but this year I don't have the heart to go through Lent anyhow. And to make matters worse Pope Benedict has announced he's going to bail and a new Pope has to be elected. So he won't even be around during the whole blessed event.

Have been toying with the idea of giving up Lent for Lent. It's a technicality, of course, but follows the letter if not the spirit of the law. Do you think that would work, or is it a sure-fire way to spend a little time in Purgatory?

My rich employers are not Catholics, so there's no pressure around here to participate. But they do get all done up for Easter Sunday services at their local rich-people church.

If you are doing Lent this year, remember it's only six days a week. In fact last year I brought this up in an essay entitled "The Truth About Lent".  On Sundays we can party down and briefly get back to business.

To my Protestant readers, I know you don't understand this or have to deal with Lent at all. But you're still obliged to get done up in your Eastern bonnets and go to church on Easter Sunday, the last day of Lent, right? So we're all in this mess together.

Just wanted to drop in and see if anyone's doing Lent this year or not. I'm reeling from guilt at not participating, but there's always next year. 

All the best,


Monday, February 18, 2013

The Package from Bijan: Mystery Solved!

Last week I told you a package for the Mister had arrived from the House of Bijan and that no one was home to open it! Ester and I have waited quite impatiently for almost a week to find out what's inside, and finally our employers returned this morning, around ten-thirty.

Right next to the elevator there's a long narrow side table where things are placed that need to go upstairs, including the daily mail and packages.

In fact, it's my job to separate the mail each day into His and Her piles, further organized by their personal letters, cards and invitations on top, business mail underneath that, and overnight letters from Fed Ex and UPS underneath that. Next to these two stacks, magazines are separated into those the Mister has subscribed to, and those the Missus wants to receive. Department store magazines and other junk mail are next to that, which are usually ignored and destined for the recycle bin. And at the end of the table is where we place packages.

When they arrived this morning they left the luggage up to us, picked up their respective piles of His and Her mail and went straight upstairs to their separate offices.

Ester and I looked at each other with fallen faces. Apparently packages were the last thing on their minds at the moment. But then at one o'clock they came down for lunch. I was out running errands at the time, but Ester sent a text that said the Mister had taken the package upstairs right after lunch.

She is the Upstairs Maid after all, and as soon as appropriate she scooted upstairs to snoop around. By the time I got home she was full of news!

It seems the package was a gift from the Mister's sister - which was somewhat of a disappointment since we had hoped the old cheapskate had actually been shopping there himself. And while we had been hoping to see some exquisite accessories, it turned out to be just a shirt and tie.

Having said that, Bijan's shirts are limited editions, of course, and can cost anywhere from $350 on up! And the tie, also a limited edition, is signed and numbered. Only God knows the cost of that.

So the big mystery's over. And while we may have been disappointed, at least now we can say there are Bijan labels in the Mister's closet. And no one needs to know it's only two.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you're not as disappointed as we are.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bijan - Beverly Hills!


Earlier today in a post entitled "Rodeo Drive" I told you about a package that had arrived with a Rodeo Drive return address.

I also told you there's no one home to open it! And that Ester and I are on pins and needles, dying to know what's inside!

What I failed to mention is the name of the shop.

You see, the package (addressed to the Mister) is from the House of Bijan - renowned haute couture for men.

This boutique is so exclusive you can't get in the door. Literally! 

It's by appointment only, and I have a feeling designer Bijan Pakzad himself decided who might cross the threshold. While his client list is not well publicized (except by the paparazzi, of course), he's said to have dressed over thirty heads of state, including US presidents, European Royalty and the rich and famous from all walks of life.

In addition to couture, he's also known for his fragrances, sold in major department stores worldwide. And he has a line of exquisite jewelry and watches for both men and women.

To top it off, he also designs the exterior and interior of  custom-made Rolls Royce's and Bugatti's on a per-client basis. How awesome is that?

Here's a link to Bijan's amazing world.  And get ready to be enthralled! 

More than once, even by the designer himself,  the House of Bijan has been billed as "the most expensive store in the world!"

And then you'll understand why Ester and I are so agitated!  (lol!)

Again, thanks for stopping by today.

Will let you know what's in the box the minute the Mister gets back next week.

Good night,

PS: You may know that Bijan, as he liked to be called, died just recently in 2011. But his legacy and shop lives on, under the direction of his  partner and the world-famous designers who continue to showcase their wares in the inventory.

Where Rich People Shop: Rodeo Drive!

A package arrived this afternoon with a Rodeo Drive return address. There's no one home to open it and it's driving me and the upstairs maid Ester crazy! We've considered ripping it open and blaming it on Fed Ex. But I'm afraid we've done that too many times to keep getting away with it.

In north American speech and in cowboy movies the word rodeo is pronounced row-dee-o. But in Beverly Hills the original Spanish pronunciation is employed and you'll hear them say row-day-o when referring to the world-famous shopping district known as Rodeo Drive.

Cowboys on Rodeo Drive are few and far between. And the only horses around would be found under the hoods of Ferrari's, Bugatti's and Lamborghini's. Remember the film Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts gets a makeover and goes shopping for a new wardrobe? That's Rodeo Drive.

It's full of high dollar shops and boutiques that attract the rich, the famous and the powerful from all over the world. From Fendi and Frette to Valentino and Van Cleef, the worlds finest designers display their wares in one small but exquisitely glamorous area of Beverly Hills

If you think this would be a good place to star gaze, you're absolutely right. But to see your favorite star up close you'll have to wade through a small army of paparazzi, valet parkers, doormen, security guards, personal assistants and sometimes body guards. 

Just take a look at this link to Google Images to see what I'm talking about.

So without an x-ray machine, I guess Ester and I will just have to wait it out until our employers get back next week. Which is not an easy thing, mind you. During this boring time of year in between social seasons things can get pretty dull around here.

Thanks for stopping by. And will let you know what we find out.