Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Birthday Wishes for a Contessa

©Carla Coulson

And not just any contessa but...La Contessa! I am referring to the wonderful Elizabeth Kirkpatrick who just happens to be turning 55 today.  

Isn't she beautiful? Yes, inside and out, you will see...

I remember having a discussion - ok, let's call it an argument - with Remi just after I had started blogging about whether these people that I was in contact with could ever actually be "real" friends. He thought certainly not and yet I was hopeful. Because, from the very beginning, I found or was found by so many fascinating people who seemed to me to be utterly genuine in their hearts. 

Elizabeth was that way, immediately. She was both literally generous in all of the thoughtful gifts that she would send both Remi and I (including a pair of the shoes glimpsed in the photo above in my size because she knew how much I coveted them) but also overwhelmingly so in her spirit. 

She inspires me to no end - from her gorgeous wedding in Italy to her love of a little pig named Banksy. Because she is true. In our cookie-cutter world, she knows who she is and why she is, plus it just comes naturally for her to do good when she can. I think that she said to me once something along the lines of, "Well, why wouldn't you if you could?" That is my Contessa.

I will give you an example. There are many but here is one. Elizabeth knew that I was going through a hard time this past winter. We had been under an enormous amount of stress for so long and I just was struggling. To talk to her on the phone is always a treat - it is impossible not to be cheered by her sing-song of a voice - and I should have known that the wheels would turn after having hung up with her. For you see, she had a plan. She had already met an amazing woman, Ellie from Have Some Decorum a while back and knew that her birthday was coming up. She was worried that Ellie would not have friends from the States near her for her birthday and suggested that I go up (as by this time I was an ardent reader and so were many of you here as well). I explained that we just couldn't afford for me to make the trip at the moment. Well, two weeks later, I opened up a card from Elizabeth only to find the cash (!) for the train ticket! I went and now consider Ellie a friend. I am very, very aware that La Contessa did this as much if not more for me than for Ellie! It worked.

One of my definitions of friendship is that I know that I could count on said person when the chips are down to be there for me. Even though we have never met in person, Elizabeth most certainly fills the bill and then some.

©Drew Wright

With her handsome husband Giampiero, they make the most out of the everyday - as you can see in this perfect portrait by photographer Drew Wright. There is no saving of "the good china" or the "fancy clothes" - I remember our bonding a long time ago because she had a magazine photographer coming over and she was wondering if she should wear her purple velvet caftan or not. She did and looked stunning! In 2013, she flew her boys to Paris in order to have the ultimate photo shoot by the fantastic Carla Coulson - one based on the iconic photographs of The Duchess of Devonshire - save that in this case, they brought the chickens into the Tuileries Garden (see first photo)!

If Elizabeth is the ONLY person that has written a guest post here, it is for a reason. I wanted for her to share a bit of her enthusiasm for life with you all, in all it's glorious abundance.

Thank you for being you, friend. 

Happy Birthday!
With much Love,

PS. To discover more of her world - or to just pop over and send some well-wishes, please go to


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your friend! I'm so happy that you have made such wonderful friends in the blogosphere - ha, Remi! And she is obviously a generous and wonderful person - the perfect match for you! Happy Birthday, La Contessa!


  3. Happy Birthday to Elizabeth and though we have not met up in person , I know by so many accounts just how wonderful and kind a person is! Thank you Heather!

    The Arts by Karena

  4. Oh yes, I am not surprised by her generosity -- it comes and grabs you right through the screen! And, of course, I love that like me, she also has two sons. Dear Contessa, I am still thinking about getting some of that deep chestnut nail polish onto my toes ;-) Happy Birthday to you. xo Judith

    1. Also, FYI, 55 is not "old" so don't understand why Elizabeth is pictured on her web site wearing at tee shirt that says "old is the new black." Just sayin'

    2. BUILDING UP.........Getting READY!Supporting ADVANCED STYLE ARI SETH and his GREAND work!
      GO GET THE NAIL POLISH!!!!!!!!!!
      Then send me a photo!!!!

  5. Friendship is one of life's greatest gifts -- how lucky you and Elizabeth are to have found each other. I loved reading this heartfelt post. And I ADORE Elizabeth's style!

  6. I can see why you are so find of her. Such generosity is rare and luck you to count her as a friend. Cheers to Contessa!!

  7. Heather, this is the most lengthy post you've ever written !!!
    And, about our precious Elizabeth. Words alone cannot describe her. It's her spirit, her essence, isn't it?
    She is truly an original, a precious gem in a world full or ordinary.
    Splendid post, darling one.
    Happy Birthday to Elizabeth X10 !!

  8. Glorious, glamorous, and generous of heart - a perfect trifecta! Hip-hip-hooray! And happy birthday to La Contessa!

  9. Heather this is a beautiful tribute to such a lovely friend that I have had the pleasure of knowing now for 6 years. She brings so much joy into many peoples lives. We have had the most fabulous dinners around the Kirkpatrick family table sharing much laughter and only wish we all lived closer. Our son lives in California now and he considers Elizabeth and Giampiero his friends as well. When I last spoke with E she was taking in two young girls who were homeless and helping them find their way - I'm sure they were completely touched by her kind gesture just as you have been!
    Happy birthday to The Contessa!!

  10. I wish Elizabeth the happiest of birthdays... she is a special woman and one thatw e are all so fortunate to "know"... Imagine if we were able to be really together one day... Now that would be the best! Such a lovely tribute, Heather... xv

  11. Heather, the greatest "gift" of all is our ability to give ... you exercised that "gift" to the highest degree with this post. Good for you and Happy Birthday to Elizabeth, who also seems to understand this truth of giving.

    Mahalo et Merci for sharing your "gift" !

  12. Heather, what a wonderful tribute to our La Contessa.
    I remember seeing a photo a few years ago of Elizabeth, I think it was one of Carla's.
    Her amazing spirit and love of life shining through.
    How good are her phone calls Heather and her thoughtful gifts!!!
    Somehow I dont think we'll ever run out of things to talk about.
    Yes, you can make friends via this medium and like you call her my friend.
    I hope she is reading this today so she can see how much she means to all.
    Happy Birthday Bella
    The Mate from Down Under
    xx neat

  13. You are a true friend Heather!
    Happy Birthday La Contessa! Enjoy many more exciting years! To your health!

  14. La Contessa. A true friend and a generous heart.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY La Contessa.

  15. What a beautiful post, not only are you very lucky, but so is La Contessa to have you as a friend, just beautiful :)

  16. Thank you for sharing the story behind your visit to Eleanor...what a wonderful convergence of generous, artistic and lovely souls! I hope that all three of you come together in person someday. I love the way the Internet enables us to connect with people whom we cannot be with in person. In decades of doing all I could to sustain long-distance relationships, however, I have never been able to approximate what it is like to actually be in another's presence, much less to share parts of daily life in person with another.

    Happy Birthday to Elizabeth, whom you have brought to much fuller life for me. I have been an admirer ever since I learned that she (like I) loves to raise chickens.

    Your friend Leslie in Oregon

  17. What a lovely, written from the heart, birthday tribute for a friend. I don't know Elizabeth, but she sounds like someone who lives life to the full.
    I'm glad you have such a wonderful and wise friend.

  18. I feel as though I have gotten to 'know' La Contessa from the comments she has often left on your blog. . .and yes, there have been times when I didn't leave a comment because it would have been right after hers and could never match the insight and beautiful thoughts she had written. You are lucky to have met such a good friend and 'influencer' in the blogosphere. Happiest of birthdays to you, La Contessa, and thanks Heather for a beautiful tribute to friendships.

  19. As YOU all could have IMAGINED I was SO touched by this POST!I read it on my phone to my husband yesterday morning..........and got all choked up!What a way to START my BIRTHDAY FESTIVITIES!!!!!!!
    I reminded him that I still NEED to go to FRANCE and teach you to DRIVE!!This may have sealed THE DEAL!!

  20. She is an amazing woman!! Her heart is huge. I'm crazy about her!!

    1. and we are crazy about YOU!!!

  21. Heather, such a beautiful blog you gift us with. Thank you, of course. You are most definitely appreciated.

    And, LA CONTESSA (sorry, I couldn't help myself)? What an amazing and, in one word, FABULOUS (there I go again) woman. I want to be Elizabeth when I grow up. Wait . . . I'm already older than the gorgeous Contessa, so I'll have to re-think that.

    Happy Birthday to La Contessa, one fabulous DAME in the best sense of the word.


    1. I am a full 13 years older than "La Contessa" and so privileged to be at her birthday party!!! (YOWZERS!!!!) And she is fantastic and "a member of Advanced Style"!!) She is my idol!!!!


    2. I was AT the BIRTHDAY PARTY! YIKES! The Contessa; the ITALIAN HUSBAND....SO DIVINE YOU CANNOT BELIEVE IT!; Sandra Sallin.......and her divine husband BOB!!! SHEESH!!!! And the darling woman who has worked for every single one of my favorite magazines!!! Delightful!!!!

      I could have fainted! And the FOOD!!! Giampietro ordered God only knows what!?!

      Platters of beautiful food arrived........platter after platter....and then dessert after dessert!


      And perfectly fitting for a "CONTESSA"!

      She has made her house in Orinda.....a "CASTLE" with the most amazing "garden"; and made her dreams come true with her "prince"!

      She is a perfect example of making your own dreams come true!!

      Her birthday party was a "peak experience" for me! I adore Sandy and Bob!

      My favorite question was from Bob Sallin (a world famous director and producer unbeknownst to me);

      He sat next to me...and said..."How do you know Sandy?"

      I said..."Blogs... the internet. I have never met her until today.....but, I really KNOW her very well!!!

      and I did! I loved seeing her beautiful smiling face; and recognizing her...and we are friends.....real friends..even though we had never met! Astonishing I know!!!

      And then my old friend....pre-internet...came to say hello! the gorgeous Susan Seidell.........friend for years...having lunch with her daughter and granddaughter! (funny; everyone thought she was Lynn von Kersting)!!! Anyhow; it was a wonderful day....Beyond fabulous....

      and thank you Contessa; and your fabulous Italian husband...and your wonderful friends!


    3. Oh Penelope, you described the celebration perfectly. What a birthday to remember. I couldn't believe the platters of food. The grandness of the gestures. We never stopped talking, yet had never met in person. We knew so much about each other maybe more than people we know in real life because of our blogs. My husband was entranced with us all. Of course i've now fallen inlove with Giampiero. Look out Elizabeth. He's one of a kind also.

    4. Penelope you said it all. Elizabeth is my idol also. What is shocking is that my husband and I will be married 55 years and Elizabeth is 55. Yet we communicate like a couple of kids with giggles included

  22. Oops...a little late with this post but would like to wish the glamorously gorgeous La Contessa a happy birthday! Beautiful words and photos of your wonderful friend Heather!

  23. How fabulous! I love the way she worked her magic to reach across the miles and give you a gift!
    She has a genuine verve for life and it's infectious...
    thank you for sharing this heartfelt post Heather!

  24. What a completely GLORIOUS post to a GLORIOUS DAME! I was the luckiest duck to be able to BE THERE!! At the Ivy with Elizabeth and Giampiero and Sandra Sallin and her divine husband.....Bob....OMIGOD! What an embarrassment of riches! and the darling woman from all the magazines!

    Brilliant birthday!! Giampiero ordered the most amazing spread of food I have ever seen in the US!!!

  25. You captured her perfectly when you described people who are "utterly genuine in their heart"!

    That is La Contessa completely. A gem indeed....and thank you for your beautiful tribute!! I was honored and so so lucky to be there with her friends. She is a gem beyond compare!!!

    1. Yes penelope, we were lucky indeed. May I rave about you and your writings. I always look forward to your responses. You make the comment sections like a glorious party that we're all attending. Keep at it.

  26. Via email from Stacy, "Queen of Trashy Treasures":
    "what a sweet and thoughtful gift you have given your friend. I met Elizabeth in July and feel blessed to have had that chance. I have seen comments describing her as having a "joie de vivre" and I think that fits perfectly! Her joy is truly contagious!! So Happy Happy Birthday Elizabeth!"

  27. Heather, thank you for this glorious post. So well said. Now when people ask me "Who is this Elizabeth that you rave about?" I will send them here. They will then know that she's real. Not a vision of perfection in my imagination. Perfection in loving, spirit, giving and style. When I pick up the phone and hear her voice it always brings joy into my heart. Just think we never would have found each other wirhout the internet!

  28. I am so dreadfully horribly unaware of the passing of the days at the moment that I missed THE day itself. Elizabeth is one of those truly beautiful and utterly authentic spirits that you feel joy to encounter. You have done her proud, and like you, I have come to love the spontaneous and generous gifts of her presence though we are separated by 3,000 miles.

  29. What a fitting tribute to a wonderful woman! I too feel like I know Elizabeth although we have yet to meet!!


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