Archive for February, 2013

The Aesthetics of Cornelia Guest at the Antiques and Garden Show

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Cornelia Guest

The extraordinary Cornelia Guest first came to my attention in middle school in the ’80s, on the pages of any number of fashion magazines. We were living in upstate New York at the time, so the glamorous young woman posing with the likes of Andy Warhol and other legends of the era made my friends and I all hope breathlessly of being just like her. After all, her father was a world-class polo player, her mother the socialite upon whom all other socialites based their dreams, and Cornelia herself probably qualified as the first “celebutante” even before the word mashup became part of American parlance.

With Andy Warhol and pop singer Billy Squire (left)

More correctly, she was the “Deb of the Decade” feted by Andy Warhol, and some of the most famous artists, actors, writers and cultural definers of the 20th century, from Truman Capote to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (her godparents, by the way).

With that background, it might have been easy for the horse-loving New York darling to coast through life taking everything for granted. Happily, she opted to devote her life to responsible living – and in more recent memory she’s become a strong promoter and supporter of healthy eating and lifestyle, as well as an activist for animal welfare.

At present, the grown-up Ms. Guest published a successful cookbook, Cornelia Guest’s Simple Pleasures: Healthy Seasonal Cooking & Easy Entertaining, in 2012 after founding a vegan catering company. It all evolved, dare I use the term, organically, after she started baking vegan cookies for charity events that  went over brilliantly. Now, she’s jumped into even more exciting waters as a member of “Team Guy” on the Food Network’s Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cookoff. (Having met Guy Fieri myself while appearing on Drive Ins, Diners, and Dives, I can attest that he’s a blast to work with.)

Cornelia Guest gold tweed handbag at Bloomingdales.

She’s also launched a line of handbags – Humane Handbags – that, needless to say, meet the stringent requirements of a vegan lifestyle. Made with a buttery-soft faux leather, the stylish bags in a wide variety of styles can be found at Bloomingdale’s and other upscale retailers.

A long-time supporter of the  Humane Society of New York, among other critical causes, Guest was recently named one of  Donna Karan’s  “Women Who Inspire,” was the face of PETA’s “I’d Rather Go Naked” campaign, and serves on the Mayoral-appointed Grow N.Y.C. board. She hosted New Yorkers for Marriage Equality’s 2010  flagship event with Mayor Bloomberg.

Most importantly for readers in the Nashville area, the fantastic Ms. G will be appearing tomorrow to lecture at the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville. Now in its 23rd year, the Antiques and Garden Show just gets better and better – and if you haven’t made plans to get there, I recommend making them now (click on the link above for tickets).

At the last minutes, Cornelia Guest was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, so here’s a little quick Q&A to get you ready for tomorrow’s event.

What everyone wants to know is what it was like working with Guy and Rachael on Celebrity Cookoff? What was the best part of that experience and will we see you again on the show? They are both amazing, their knowledge of food was so inspiring – it made me a better cook. Of course, there were lots of laughs;  I think I’m in love with Guy!

You’ve got quite an impressive background as an equestrian – do you keep up with those skills actively?  No, sadly I don’t have the time, I miss my horses like crazy, but I do visit all my pals at different shows.

How does your work with animals and your commitment to a vegan lifestyle affect your personal style – both in terms of fashion and interiors?  It makes me think about everything I buy, and about how to make it cruelty-free.

Who are your favorite pro-animal fashion designers?   Besides myself, Stella McCartney

Bloomingdale’s carries your line of cruelty-free handbags, and it’s a newer line for our region of the country to be aware of – can you tell me a bit about your inspirations for it, and what we ought to know as buyers?  Mother Nature is my inspiration. My line is affordable, chic, elegant and timeless – as well as an intelligent alternative to using animal products.

You’re a New Yorker – how much time have you spent here in the South and has it in any way influenced your sense of style? What about your culinary perspective?  I used to go to horse shows and dine all over the place.  I love the South – the accents and the fact that the people are all so kind.  I love vegetarian bar-b-que, by the way.

You have a vegan catering business and a popular vegan cookbook out – which do you find provides your best method of sharing a vegan perspective and why?  They both do, as I can use both as tools to educate people and to spread the word.

What drew you to veganism to begin with?  Cruelty to animals.  Factory farming is not only horrific beyond all imagination, but it’s ruining our planet.

In the 80s, you were the “deb of the decade,” always in the fashion mags and newspapers – has the time you spent in that limelight influenced who you are today? Who are the people in that era that remain your greatest influences?  Halston, without a doubt is a huge inspiration and influence on me.  His sense of style was just so simple and so elegant and fashionable.  And after all he was the first to use ultra suede.

Can you clue us in on your next big project?   Taking the Cornelia Guest Cruelty Free Lifestyle global!

The Fun Stuff

TV show: Scandal

Listening:  Johnny Cash

Reading:  Biographies and Hemingway

Jeans:  Rag & Bone, J Brand

Guilty pleasure:  Chocolate

Skin care:  Biologique

Gadget:  Blackberry and iPhone

Fragrance:  Oils from Objets D’Art & Spirit in Los Angeles

Cocktail:  Red wine

Restaurant: N.Y.C .– La Grenouille and Scalinatella; Los Angeles – Il Piccolino

Anything Nashville:  Great music!

 

Animal Planet – A Nashville company’s commitment to humane healing.

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Human Healing Products

 

I am, as everyone knows, a big animal lover. Seriously.

And when I actually have a chance to promote something that can make a difference in the lives of pets across the board, you can bet I’m going to jump at the chance to promote it. When it happens to be a Nashville-based company producing that product, then I feel even better about it. And that’s why I’m actually writing about Humane Healing – after a long day spent dealing with everything from helping my mom’s traumatized friend find necessary new homes for her beloved mature cats to talking with a cat rescue goddess at Nashville Cat Rescue about the seeming impossibility of finding homes for all the animals around here in need.

My kitten Castiel (“Caz”)

My husband and I share our home with two intrepid, adventuresome young cats – Sigrun and Castiel – who we seem to allow to run roughshod over us at all hours of the night. When it comes down to it, pretty much all of our friends and family, saving those with hideous allergies or living in evil condos with no pet policies have animals in their lives. Dogs, cats, horses, the odd rodent: We’ve all got them.

Along with our friends, we understand that having animals in our lives makes the living richer, more fun, and rather warmer and more pleasant. There are moments when you just need a run in the park with the dog or to snuggle on the couch with the merrily purring cat to make everything else recede from view.

My devotion to animals, nurtured by my parents, has meant that as a grown up, I’ve done what I can for a variety of animal charities. How I feel about the pet rescues I’ve worked with is a whole other blog entry, but needless to say, Happy Tales, Nashville Cat Rescue, The Brown Dog Foundation, East Nashville C.A.N. and all the others around here never cease to amaze me.

(Dealing with animals in need is a whole different issue I’ll tackle later, suffice to say, if you aren’t ready for the responsibility of a pet, please don’t get one. If you say “it’s just an animal,” then really, really don’t get one.)

Through work with Happy Tales Humane here in Franklin, I made the acquaintance of the formidable Kat Hitchcock. She’s a powerhouse of a spokesperson for every needy animal in the state of Tennessee all by herself, though she’s even tinier than me (saying something, I’m just 5’2”). When she makes up her mind to do something, whether arranging for affordable spay and neuter services (a BIG issue, especially here in the South) or saving a tiny abandoned puppy, you can bet it happens.

Likewise, when she told me she was teaming up with Sam Savage and the folks at Humane Healing, a new company in Nashville, I was intrigued. It must have taken something amazing to get Kat to shift from the not-for-profit world.

Sam himself met with me to help introduce me to the patent-pending product. Savage, an Alabama native and animal lover, came to the company with a background in internet startups, with a commitment to take the small scale product to the next level – something he’s already doing admirably with the recent launch.

“What we’re doing can really enhance the lives of pets, they’re good products, absolutely,” he says. “We’re also very focused on giving back to the animal community. We truly think this product is an integral part of first aid for your pet – it’s all-purpose, it’s a pain reliever, it helps close wounds, prevents infection. It’s what you’d do for yourself, and you can now provide that for your animals.” (He adds, sadly, that his own adored older Lab passed away shortly before he moved up here from Mobile, and he and his wife look forward to finding a house that will allow them to get a puppy.)

Humane Healing, the company name, is also the brand name of the patent-pending medical product aimed at making your pet happier and healthier. At first glance, it looks like the product (available for dogs and cats, and in a slightly different shape under the name ECM2 for horses) is kind of a Neosporin equivalent for animals.

The girl-cat Sigrun – photo by Ron Manville

Well, to some extent that’s true, except that products intended for people, like Neosporin, don’t really work on animals, because their fibroblast cells (vital to healing) react differently than a human’s do. And in some cases, human products contain chemicals that aren’t any good for pets, especially given the reality that they tend to lick the hurt.

The organic salt technology (the product contains no antibiotics, no steroids, and is non-caustic and non-toxic) in a safe polyethelene base is safe for your pet to lick. Rich in citric acid, benzoic acid, rubidium, organic potassium salts, calcium and zinc, it immediately begins to activate healing at a remarkable rate. Because it can’t be damaged by licking, it means no “cone of shame” for many more dogs, and that’s got to be a plus.

I mean, what dog likes a cone of shame? Can I see a raising of paws? I thought not.

With both cream and spray on formulations, it can be used for a wide variety of injuries and health issues that make it a “one stop shop for any topical problems” from dry skin to cuts to burns (and more complex equine problems like rain rot for horses using the ECM2 application). The guarantee is that it will dramatically increase healing in pets, and the trials so far have been very impressive. The product is vet approved, already available through some veterinary offices, and quickly arriving at retailers.

Why buy a dedicated product? Excuse me? Don’t you have a medicine cabinet full of stuff for yourself? As I’m mentioned before, those things just won’t work on animals – the antibiotic ointments are generally petroleum jelly based, and that’s not good.

Home remedies like peroxide and vinegar simply don’t work to close the wound or promote healing, and may cause more pain.

Humane Healing will help close your pet’s wound, relieve pain upon application, stay put, and resist the issues of licking, and to increase the speed of healing.

So, if I’m promoting this product, clearly I’ve used it. Seriously, have you ever lived with kittens? Because mine are 18 and 10 months, and they “bink” around the house like mad, practicing their Greco-Roman cat wrestling and MMA moves on each other before curling up on the bed together.

The end result of that is they tend to have wounds on heads, necks and paws from each other – which aren’t deep or troublesome, but which run the risk of infection (when my late Maine Coon cat Wicket was very young, he developed an ugly abscess from such a play wound). So my husband and I have started applying Humane Healing to the little abrasions, and we’ve definitely noted a faster healing pattern than previously.

My dad’s Springset Gordon setter Macallan – photo by Ron Manville

I’ve also passed tubes on to my dad for his active setter dog, Macallan, who does a lot of running in the underbrush and for my mom’s cat Florrie, who is also young and playful.

While Humane Healing can take care of a wide variety of wounds, I’ll add that as always, if a wound is extremely deep or messy, your vet needs to be consulted. But for lesser problems, it’s absolutely a fantastic way to deal with the abrasions and issues your pet may turn up with in daily life – and it will truly make a difference in his or her level of comfort and healing.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this were the product not being made by a company right here in Nashville. As I said earlier, when a powerhouse like Kat Hitchcock is willing to stake her reputation behind it, then there’s a good chance it’s product I’m going to buy – and I like that it’s coming out of our region.

The South, if we’re honest –  particularly the rural South – has a long history of not necessarily respecting animals, and that we are now a source for a product that is top of the line to aid in their treatment and health makes me feel pretty good.

So, ready to try it out? The price ($30 for a tube that will last you through a 300 applications, since a little goes a long way) is very reasonable.

Ron Manville’s lovely cat Lavonne

Here in Nashvegas, pick it up at Happy ReTales in Brentwood (I love that store) or outside the area online at NationalPetPharmacy.com, PetFoodDirect.com, Pet360.com, Amazon.com and directly from www.humanehealing.com. The Nashville-based company also sells its products locally through Nashville Pet Products, FarmVet, Franklin Horse Supply and Tusculum Feed Center.

You’ll also find a variety of local groomers using it, and their numbers grow daily across the region – and hopefully the nation.

The company is currently in promising talks with Whole Foods (which has approved the ingredient list as in accordance with its stringent rules) and several other major retailers. Watch this space for more on that.

Love your pet? Humane Healing in your medicine cabinet can make all the difference in the world.

Oh, and by the way – I tried a little bit the other day for the hell of it when I cut myself shaving my legs. Yeah – much better than the drugstore human cream. Just saying.

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