Friday, January 29, 2010

All the World's a Stage and All the Men and Women Merely...........

Shame!  I forgot to add this one to my post about red.

I've been sitting here half-listening to Tutti-Frutti (see my November post) and going through all my old posts! Why? Vanity?  Perfectionism?  Memory Loss?  All of the above!!!!!

I'll have to add a gadget suggesting that anybody who wants to make a comment on an old post make it on the latest one so I can find it.  I've found two comments from January 9 from "Cannelle" and "Juddie" on 2009 posts that I'd never caught before asking to link.  So sorry to both for not responding sooner.  Cannelle I couldn't find a link back to you but yes, please link if it's still of interest.  What do the rest of you bloggers do about keeping track of comments and requests?

Meanwhile, if you try Tutti-Frutti hang in there.  It picks up momentum towards the end of the first DVD and there are plenty of laughs.  Besides you would not believe Emma Thompson's bathrobe!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don't the Holidays Seem So Long Ago Now?

Already it seems many of us are stressed and worried and sleepless.  How did this happen so fast?

 Wouldn't it be nice if we could turn the clocks back, just those few couple of weeks?  How quickly we need refreshing again!

Here just around the corner from Pimlico Road are images of that season.  Sweet, beguiling.  The English have such a different approach to Christmas decorating than we in the States.  In fact these shop window decorations remind me of Polish, Russian or Ukrainian folk art.  And because they seem so does not make them less Christmas-ey.

I love the feathery whites and the surprising oranges and ultramarines which work so well with the little touches of piney green.  Xmas decorating in the UK comes with a lighter touch and a broader palette.  We in the U.S. feel compelled to express the season exclusively in the narrow terms of bright red and blunt green.  Why?

This artist was apparently quite popular and affordable.  He/she decorated about 5 shop fronts in this immediate vicinity and I saw other examples of the work elsewhere in London.  I would love to have this person decorate my house for a Christmas party - if I had a house with lots of lovely big windows and massive mirrors.  I think the work would look equally beautiful in the summertime.  For a Midsummer party.  

If you live in London and have the big windows and mirrors, you could.

In that theme of surprising ways to reinvent Christmas decor, what about chocolate boxes shaped as wreathes?  Did you know that boxes could be made in this shape? And red ribbons!  What's not to like?

Have you ever seen shop doors decorated like this?

Doesn't it transport you straight to the country?  Reminds me of a Christmas I spent in Somerset where they decorated the village streets with unadorned baby Christmas trees leaning out of the stone buildings just above our heads.  Makes you think of mangers!

The white branches I've seen in NY - the Italians seem to especially like to decorate at Christmas with these.  But this looks so different without the red and green Xmas lights in them.  And speaking of the bucolic, in these yet gloomy days with spring still for many two, three, four months away...........

Wouldn't it be nice to take a break from our new worries and duck into this welcoming place.  And feel as if one's been dropped into a village in the Alps?

( no! not cantelope!)

Smack dab in the middle of Central London, just off Marylebone High Street, just south of Regent's Park
 is La Fromagerie. It's a favorite of Jamie Oliver's and giving the Neal's Yard Dairy in Covent Garden a serious run for it's money.

Here not only will you find a very wide range of carefully made cheeses English and imported,

but beautiful beautiful veg:  Those lettuces are bigger than your head!  Have you ever seen SUCH SMOOTH celery root (top pic)?  Ruby carrots?

Honey from the country, still on the comb - honey from

Regent's Park!

Cakes and chocolates and glasses of  beer and wine.......Wouldn't you love to just skip work tomorrow and spend all day here with a good friend?  Gossiping and plotting?  Nibbling and savoring?

Look closely at all of these pictures.  What will you see?

But crowds and queues, queues and crowds.

This is a very popular place.  No need to wonder why.  One word describes it:


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

He's B-A-A-A-C-K! The Mongol Prince

It was touch and go for a while there.  We started last week with a lymphoma scare, that transmogrified into a cardio-myopathy scare.  This week we did the 1+ hour drive to the West Side of town AGAIN to consult with the cardiologist to determine what EXACTLY WAS ailing the Mongol Prince?  About half way to Santa Monica, (Droit du Seigneur and all that) B.B. BUSTED OUT of his carrier a la Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" - (here's Johnny!!!!!) and thankfully THANKFUL-LY! contented himself with passing the duration of the journey in the front passenger seat. (OY Sh@#$!)  It was not altogether certain that it would not be Mommy requiring the cardiologist on journey completion.

And then what a surprise.  LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT between cardiologist and cure-seeker!  "So sweet - so SOFT!  What a nice well-behaved cat!"  So he was poked, he was prodded, he was shaved, he was sounded.  And at the end of it all, for our troubles, (and a fairly significant credit card bill - but still cheaper than your accountant!)  he was given a clean bill of health.  Apparently just a guy with a lot of anomalies!  EXPENSIVE ANOMALIES!

So back in the car we two onto the Santa Monica freeway.  Somehow the triple threat of three-Doctors-with-Japanese surnames -  Sueda, Yoshimoto, Tsugawa seemed to prefigure the ultimate complexion of the day's events.  The signs were there, but did we see them?

Was it indeed inevitable that after twenty minutes on the freeway with ostensibly cat-and-Mommy soothing Mozart on the radio, Mr. B.B. decided to reprise that infamous Nicholson moment?  And why not?  It worked before!  Why NOT emerge from the dark nylon depths of the faulty cat carrier (oh why oh why, Great Sherpa Carrier - were you not more properly designed to resist the ravages of the marauding feline? - considering your not-insignificant pricetag?) and cast off the towel-on-your-head to emerge into the light - the Conquering Hero??????!

A few glorious moments astride the passenger seat, the ruler of all that you can see: CARS, CARS, CARS.  CARS. CARS. Side-saddle a-straddle the gearbox, activating the panic lights.  Satisfying but not actually scintillating. Ultimately, the Everest of errant ambition: MOMMY'S LAP!!!!!!!!!   MOMMY'S LAP!!!!  Gotta get onto Mommy's lap! (Oy S#$%! AGAIN!)  Standing, sitting, STANDING, SITTING.  (See me youse guys?)

And now PROSTRATE:  and relieving oneself on MOMMY'S LAP!!!!!!!!  (With admittedly some embarrassment and not a little satisfaction.  Counting.... FOUR plus hours away from the litterbox.  And SO TERRIBLY WELL-BEHAVED.) Meanwhile the L.A. Police Department behind us in a cruiser, half the Los Angeles municipal employee pool in the sedan alongside us ("Look Barney - that lady has a cat on her lap - is that like, well, driving while talking on a CELL PHONE?????  Ever seen THAT before?  Should she get a ticket for that?????")   While Mom channels her inner Hawaiian Japanese old lady doing 35 miles on the freeway with a fluffy animal on her lap and head barely perceptible above the steering wheel.  (That is where the 3 Japanese Doctors come in - somehow the one MUST have something to do with the other.)

It was a big day for everybody.  And at the end of it, nothing to do but catch a little shut-eye.  Mission accomplished. Apparently the Mongol Prince will not be expected to meet with ANOTHER SINGLE DOCTOR for at LEAST  a MONTH again.  YES!   Snooze-city, Arizona here we come.

We won't go into the implications - (er, Mom mean HOURS EXPENDED) of removing certain unpleasant smells from leather car upholstery before Dad identifies them, and the uneasy parallel reality of feeling oneself once again in the midst of a Seinfeld re-run.  (What IS THAT SMELL!  It WON'T GO AWAY!)

La-di-da.  La-di-da.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tone Poem - London Town

Here is a place that I visit fairly often, but usually when the shops are shut. It is a small place with a rarefied air. Especially on a Sunday morning in a light rain or during the holidays when everyone has gone to the country you can imagine that you have drifted back in time.  You would not be very surprised to see posh ladies as in a Jane Austen novel swishing past in carriages in heavy silvery silks or satins of cloudy sky blue with smoky feathers on their heads.

The traffic on the street is usually only moderate and has to slow as the roadway winds a little bit here and there are many small lanes that empty into it.  So it is usually quiet.

This is one of those "if-you-have-to-ask, you-can't-afford-it" places.

It used to be a place of very old school, and quite serious antiques shops.  It is increasingly infiltrated by homewares and accessories shops for ladies (alighting on that little refined something to polish off their "ru-u-ums").  But the big old stuff that endures has that weighty, stately quality

that seems naturally at home with hushed tones, extraordinarily high ceilings, bottomless bank accounts.  Oh and layers and layers of history and the patina of years of careful handling.

A pub has recently re-opened on the street.  It is called The Orange Tree.  It used to be a terribly scruffy pub.  No a pub in an alarming state of decline.  A pub that had thoroughly lost its way and indeed, it's self-respect.

But the old Orange Tree has been swept completely away.  And the new one announces itself like Marie Antoinette at the Hameau.  With scrubbed parquets and limed oak effect washes on its wainscots, pale linen upholsteries, an airy bar with brightly polished brass, cozy downstairs nooks, a little restaurant, and even  a couple of B and B rooms upstairs if you'd like to treat yourself to a night in a London sweet spot - in the midst of it all, but a little on the side too.

In honor perhaps of this auspicious renewal, bittersweet persimmon orange is the flavor of the month in the neighboring shop windows.

 The new Orange Tree plays along with the genteel fantasy: a life absorbed in elegant amusements, traditional-but-not-too- taxing outdoor pursuits,

quiet evenings beside a roaring fire, gathering the accretions of the ages around us like a cloak.

Discreet conviviality.

Noblesse oblige.

And lots of dressing up.

These pictures were taken by Mr. Paradis and his I-Phone.  Art-directed by the Ma'am with the Plan (moi-meme, yours truly).  Some of the shop windows featured were Joanna Woods, Appley Hoare, Daylesford Organic.  And the little neighborhood is "Pimlico Road".

But shhhhhhhh!!!!!!  We DON'T want EVERYBODY TO KNOW!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Helen Musselwhite

Something wonderful via Delphine's Paradise of a blog Paradis Express (if you love gardens and the world of flora you must visit Delphine's site - she gathers a wealth of images and ideas from everywhere - including yours truly, about 10 days ago),

papercuts by Helen Musselwhite.  So delicate so elegant so painterly!  In London you can find Helen's pieces at Elphick's on Columbia Road in the East End (East London).

And can someone tell me, (Suzanne?) are all these wonderful papercuts being done these days made with plain old x-acto knives or is there some kind of fancy hi-tech cutting tool that's been invented?  If it's plain old x-acto knives, I totally bow five times over - no a hundred - to all of you!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  The sun is back in L.A. and we've had some somewhat encouraging news this week on the Mongol Prince.  Fingers crossed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Conran Shop, London, England

Do you know about the Conran Shop?

It is a London institution.  And, I don't think many people would argue if I said that Europeans have for many years made pilgrimages to this design Mecca just down the road from Harrods and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

You don't have enough time and I don't have enough space to go over ALL the many retail establishments

restaurants, hotels, publications, design projects Sir Terence Conran

has conceived, spearheaded, presided over.

If names like habitat, Bluebird, Bibendum, Quaglino's, Mezzo, Pont de la Tour, Conran's, Coq d'Argent, Great Eastern Hotel, Alcazar, ring a bell, then you have some idea.  And I have not approached naming them all.  In fact those are all the old ones - who can keep up?  Find the new ones for me and REPORT BACK!

His impact on international design and English living and dining standards is unquantifiable.  The universe might be expanding but it better hurry up and make room cause Sir Terence just keeps coming up with great stuff.

I can't imagine what the world will be like when he is no more.  So Sir Terence, may you live many many more happy and healthy years.  Finding reasons for us to believe and return again and again to pray at the altar of your genius.

If you don't know already, there are three Conran Shops in London, one in Paris, one in NYC, one in Tokyo, and maybe another Japanese city.  Check out the one near you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Transporting Spaces

All Saints, shop window.  Portobello Road.  Christmas Day 2009

They sell clothes.  Not sewing machines. 

Still a little too distracted to focus on a proper post.  So here are a few little things that always get me in the solar plexus.  And don't demand too much from me as far as getting them out to you.

Paola Navone:  she is an Italian designer/decorator who lives, works between Milan and China.  I love everything she does.  If she were a painter she would be a conceptualist and do a lot of systems paintings.  She is extremely rigorous in imposing order by groupings of things and limiting her color palette.  And playing with scale. It's a way of showcasing their subtle differences and special qualities.  She seems very interested in the lines of the pieces she chooses and their playful sculptural forms.  If she played an instrument you would have to call what she does world music.  Now why do I like her so.....??????  Chinese influences,....Italian......hmmmmmm


This would be a great party or work space.

However for hubby and me, a little cozy room at the back with deep sofas with high sides to pass out in would be a definite requirement.   Did you also notice the juicy berry red accents that give the whole room that special reckless sparkle?  This space appeared in Marie-Claire Maison sometime in the past 3-5 years.  I will yet get to proper credit giving!

I was going to post something else but I'm reminded that I had a bit of a technical glitch a little while back and those images won't upload.  Have to have someone cleverer than me sort that out for once and for all when he gets home.

So instead here's a little something that has been glinting at me from my I-photo albums all week.  We're well past the season now but the little glimmer of light - some silver, some gold and the formal geometries of the balcony and the potted trees feels reassuring and like a bit of a pick-me-up.

Thanks so much to all of you who've left comforting and encouraging thoughts.  Can't tell you how much it helps.  I've also had a great response from people here in L.A. so think I'm on the right track at least, Dr.-wise.  Meanwhile the Mongol Prince remains so solid, silky, placid and loving that's it's just mind-boggling to consider that we are where we are.  Tomorrow a.m. first visit with the specialist.  I know your thoughts are with me.  Thanks mes filles!  (With all my heart.)

*  And to do my part in breaking down those awful stereotypes about greater affinities girls might have for cats and  boys for dogs, so far, ALL the men in my life have been telling me: "Go for it, empty the checkbook and make sure you keep hold of that Mongol Prince for at least another two years!"