Thursday, February 28, 2013

Have A Great Weekend!

Apparently Flora and Fauna have taken over the blog this week.

Hope it's a good one!  See you on Monday with a bit of a change.  xo!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


(above and below: sorry, don't recall)

(above and below via: Kusumakura - warning: explicit sexual content, go figure!)

(Second and last photos: MlleParadis)

Somehow, sometimes I think that the staff over here at P. P. aren't competing entirely as they should in the cuteness department.  Maybe, it's because, despite their Mom's delusions, they are no longer really kittens!

Hope it's been a good week so far!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Life is What Happens To You .......Part Two: Growing With Plants

No, this is not really another post about unbelievably cute doggies.

I'm going to start this week with another  "Life is What Happens to You" post.

In what might become a series, that takes you to other blogs.  (Or I might just have worn out a cute idea and leave it at Parts One and Two!)

I think I  found "Growing With Plants" at Paradis Express.....(merci Delphine!)

I still can't decide how happy I am about this discovery.  I should be delirious.  (Well, I am a little.)

Because it feels like a homecoming.  It reminds me of my old gardening life in the Northeast United States that I talked about last week: Winter dreaming over seed catalogues, forcing bulbs under my kitchen sink, building hypertufa containers.......obsessing over clematis and mulch... Lovely afternoons of discovery at Wave Hill.  Of my adventures at horticultural fairs and nurseries in England.  Where very ordinary people do extraordinary things.  (There is even a Hawaii connection with Matt Mattus of Growing With Plants.  He has also spent time there.)  

Unlike Matt Mattus, I am not a Creative Director with a toy company, raising unbelievably cute puppies in the Northeast in my old family home.  I am not endlessly clever about species and propagation.  Nor endlessly energetic it seems.  I do not have a greenhouse yielding marvels.  Nor, thank goodness, do I any longer have to worry about such greenhouse and plants therein when THE BIG SNOWS come.

But if I spend anymore time on his site....I might just have to become once again.....something very much closer to all that.  Because his blog has reawakened, after a long eight years or so of dormancy, a mania.....a sickness......a compulsion for all things green.  In the way of alpines and african violets, fuzzy leaves and, subtle colorations and jewel like flowers.   That miraculous voyage of discovery and renewal that is the world of plants.

Why shouldn't I be delirious?  Well because......if this thing takes hold, I may not have time for blogging!

(All photos Matt Mattus from Growing with Plants.)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Life is What Happens to You.......Part One: Cecile Delarue

When you're on your way to somewhere else.......(John Lennon).  This is no less true on the Internet than on the streets of Liverpool or Hamburg.  I was on my way somewhere one morning......and this is what I found:

Cecile Delarue, who, is a serious French journalist (and according to her Wikipedia entry might as well be a brain surgeon or rocket scientist - I did say kinda SERIEUSE!) is now doing cooking videos out of her L.A. kitchen.   The best part about this video, besides being about FRENCH FOOD is that it is funny and irreverent.  About that Most Serious Subject, being French.  (Strangely, in America, it is almost as serious as it is in France!  But usually in all the wrong ways.)

I share it with you because

1)  Her recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon is way easier than the Anne Willan recipe I use

2)  She shows you a giant beef tongue (but does not cook it!) which proves how authentic she is i.e., when the camera goes away, she will probably eat that monster thing!*

3)  She uses the colorful roasting pans from Crate and Barrel that I covet but don't really need

4)  You MUST check out her salt (or is it pepper?) grinder - too fun

5)  HER APRON!!!!!!!  I WANT IT!!!!!!!

I discovered her here, at Sinosoul.  Featured on a post about Chaumont Bakery and Cafe in Beverly Hills.  The "proper" French patisserie that has opened in Beverly Hills.  (More on that soon!)  

I could find only two Cecile Delarue (yes, she even has that French last name that every American imagines for a French person) videos, but show them to your husband - (he won't mind them!),  and leave comments at YouTube.   She might be persuaded to make more!

Meanwhile, she also has a blog, here.  (Where you might find a more complete recipe that explains at what point the mushrooms, potatoes and bay leaves got into her recipe, and how it ended up in a completely different pot at the end!)

Happy Cooking, Happy Weekend and Bon Appetit!

 *  OK, my Chinese mother served me beef tongue too, in my youth.  I did not die.  Tongue is probably showing up already in the trendier restaurants in London and NY.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Yes, This IS What I Had In Mind

How's your spring coming along?  Do you nudge it a little too?  Are you forcing bulbs?

(the pics are from a little bit everywhere none of them are mine)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I Found It! Huntington Gardens (Revisited, Part One)

On February 3, 2013, I found spring.

To be honest, what I was really looking for was something different.

I was hankering for my old friends from England and New Jersey:

the cool exhalations of narcissi, snowdrops, hyacinths, daffodils......

And if not necessarily them, then the stalwarts of the English winter: hellebores and bergenias.  And OK, yes, maybe some swathes of naturalizing crocus?

I went straight to where I thought they might be found, but instead, a fairly confusing scene presented itself.

The roses were still in their sharply pruned state and deeply bank with mulch.  (Though roses are blooming in my neighborhood.)  The camellias had mostly finished, their blooms curled and yellowing on the trees and ground.

There were stands of stocks, and delphiniums, the latter looking a little desultory (when they should have been jubilant and regal - but aren't they - summer flowers?)..........Some straggling iris from the late fall blooming season.  

And parterres of Icelandic poppies.  (But no primulas.  Sad face.)

You could not call it a cohesive display of blossom....or statement of someone who is accustomed to more definite ones.  And not remotely a profusion.  Which is what I sought.  (Very big on profusion, moi.)

I am a very spoiled person.  For two years I lived 10 minutes from Kew Gardens in West London.

And I was able to visit it in all seasons.  And always find there inspiration.....

in form.  Texture.  Color.  Harmony.  Drama.  Balance.

Wonder.  And Profusion.



At the Huntington, on February 3,  all these were to be found.  AND Spring.  In the DESERT GARDEN. 

Since I am in  Southern California, I guess I really should not have been surprised.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Spring is Coming, Spring is Coming.......

(via the NYTimes; photo: Stefania Yarhi - Textstyles)

So say the Fashionistas.  Will you be ready?

Suzy Menkes remarked that attendees of Fashion Week no longer look like black crows.  I think it's a wonderful thing. Now, wearing my swimming costume to the runway shows.....maybe not so much!

How was your Valentine's Day?  Romantic, I hope!  Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pasadena Flea - Part 3, For the Francophile

Let's start with the reminder that "ANTIQUES" is a French word.

I'm not so sure about the origins of "bric-a-brac" but I know the French use it.  Anyone?

Wine bottle racks?  Who else but les French!

SUCH a CRUSH I have always had for these pincushioney things that little French Catholic girls used to put together for First Communion, Confirmation, Sweet Sixteens and such.  And the faux bamboo coat hooks?  Equally passionate, moi. I've brought home at least two modern repro versions from my trips to Mr. Bricolage (on peut compter sur lui)............

Mr. Paradis hates 'em!

French enamel "lunch boxes"?  Did Mr. Russo-Belge-y "Departs"- dieu carry one of these to the mines with him in  "Germinal"?

Look at that!  Did some "costaude" French lady in the Hautes Alpes Savoyardes use that curvy bread board on her baking days?  Why couldn't you?

Are you going to argue with me that the French did NOT invent industrial chic?  (Because they did!)  Can you spell T-O-L-I-X??????   (Now you can!)

OK, this stuff makes my heart pitter patter too.  It will wear like iron and last forever.  But it will be no fun to wash.....

And even less pleasant to wear.  Can we keep it real and officially acknowledge RIGHT NOW that for many, it was not so much always Lavender-and-Lace in the golden olds!  Imagine your days and nights in scratchy, stiff, coarse, shapeless shifts made of grain-sack.  (La vie maybe NOT so belle for some.)

But I would still buy one of these and hang it on my wall and pin lots of pretty things to it.  Since I live in the HEREANDNOW.  And I'm in the position to choose.

It's possible that one of the lavender and lacey girls might have found a finely tooled handbag pleasing to wear with her espadrilles.  On a sunny spring day in Paris.

And I see her also in this stripey sunhat.....and carrying a nice little basket full of fruits rouges or tin of biscuits for her Grand'mere.....

They say that the life of a brocante can be a little bit "louche".  But if you ask me, as long as the sun is shining, and we're sitting at a table of "plats chauds", nattering with our neighbors as the punters float by....I'm TOTALLY buying it.  Where do I sign up??????  To spend my life as a Francophile at the Pasadena Flea??????

You????  Coming along?  Vous y serez les tres bienvenues!  Promis!

(This is my Valentine to France.  Hope you all have a lovely Valentine's Day wherever you are.)