Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting Ready For Christmas

I love Christmas! This year I'm giving either books or hand made treasures found on Etsy. Still haven't started your shopping? Find some ideas on my 2009 gift guide.
I also received a few presents and cards already, all of which a piled up on my red chest - also adored with fresh flowers and scented with two of my favorite candles, English Ivy and Hinoki Temple. Now what's missing is a gingerbread house...

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Korean Funerary Figures

A collection of small Korean funerary figures, or Kkoktu, were on display at the UCLA's magical Fowler museum, where I went to meet them. Here is how the catalog describes them: Koreans have a tradition of creating charming and festively painted wooden dolls. But rather than being placed in a toy box, these joyful figurines of clowns, tigers and acrobats adorn coffins. Their costumes and poses reflect the realities of rural Korean village life. Though the kkoktus’ gaiety seems incongruous with mourning, they express a culture’s deep desire that the dead enter the next world surrounded by joy — and its appreciation of the fleeting nature of all experience.

Korea is very present here in Los Angeles, and though I must admit I am no fan of kimchi, I want to absorb more of this culture - for instance with a visit to the local Korean spas, famous for their Akasuri scrubs and exotic baths.
Suggestions, anyone?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Whale And Flowers

Meet my new little friend, a cheerful whale. The best part: it's handmade in the USA by an amazing craftsman who sells toys through his Etsy boutique, US Wood Toys. And it's ridiculously cheap ($12). I am dying to buy his hippo, too. If you want to treat some little ones for X-mas, you know where to go.
Another adornment at home this week - these happy yellow flowers, brightening up wintery days; we're experiencing record breaking cold in the Los Angeles area. Brrrrr...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Around My Neighborhood

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

(William Blake, "The Tiger")

A shop window on Main Street - I wonder what is wrong with Mr Pumpkin's eyes? Near sighted, do you think?

This 1952 convertible MG is for sale for $4,400. I walk past it on Rose street and sigh with desire.

California sunset over anorexic palm trees - this is paradise.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

He's On His Way!

Aren't I rakishly handsome, on a wrought-iron bed with my almond eyes and my basket ball? These pics of me were snapped in Paris a few days ago. But by the time this post goes live, I will be flying to Los Angeles! As usual, pet-friendly Air France is my carrier of choice. I am eager to hop off at LAX under the California sunshine. Stay tuned for more! Woof!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mud Pies For Dolls

Marjorie Winslow's 1961 Mud Pies And Other Recipes, exquisitely illustrated by Erik Blegvad, is a treasure of a quirky cookbook - a cookbook for dolls!
Some recipes are exquisitely simple; for instance, here is how to make Dollypops: Pick a dandelion from the lawn carefully, so as not to disturb the fluff. Hand it to your doll and tell her to lick. But what is most remarkable is the attention to details, including in terms of presentation of the dishes, and the impression, conveyed throughout the book, that cooking is a fun experience, not a chore. I also love the idea that children can make their own playthings with what they find around the house and the garden, instead of buying more plastic junk. Winslow, for instance, explains how to make a doll cake pan with the bottom of a milk carton.
Gravel en Casserole, anyone?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Recent Purchases

To store my expanding collection of vintage hats (some going back to the 1930's), I really need to find some hat boxes. I found the one above at the Santa Monica flea market (Pine st. and Lincoln bv.). Only $4, too!

Isn't this an exquisite passport cover? It's handmade (in England!) and I got it from the Etsy store Handmade With Joy. I find that one of the joys of Etsy is receiving packages in the mail from foreign lands...

And now, a few books. My exploration of Scandinavian literature (remember my post about Per Petterson?) has led me to Tove Jansson, a Swedish language Finn more famous for her children's series, The Moomins. The cover of her haunting The True Deceiver is as magical as her universe.
Right now I'm enjoying David Grossman's ZigZag Kid (book on the left); not since Mark Twain's Huck Finn and J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield has a written so successfully channeled a youthful voice. So quirky.
Next on my list is a new translation of poems by the Syrian-born, Lebanese author Adonis. In the Arab and Persian world, poetry is the literary form par excellence, and Adonis's works are certainly worthy of the extraordinary tradition that he sprung from and challenged. In my opinion, he is the greatest poet alive.
(For a good intro to his work and that of the just-as-great Mahmoud Darwish, check out the slim anthology Victims Of A Map).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Follow Me To Work - LA

Last August, while I was in New York, this post invited you to discover my itinerary to work. I'm in Los Angeles now and last week, I worked in Hollywood. Of course, in LA it's all about driving. Follow me!
When I get off the freeway, I love glimpsing at Dorca's - this tailor used the outside walls of her shop as an advertising billboard, with figures in a compellingly naive style. The other wall is all in Spanish, and prominently offers quiceañera gowns, to be worn to girls' lavish 15th birthday parties.

Los Angeles is a super multicultural city. After passing by the Latino tailor place, I stop at Sunset and La Brea for a Middle Eastern treat - Mashti Malone's ice creams in flavors such as rose water, saffron and (my favorite) orange blossom with pistachios, are irresistible.

A few blocks down, when I drive past the crazy Chinese theater, I know I almost reached my destination. While the tailor place and the ice-cream parlor are the real thing, the Chinese theater is gloriously fake, a crazy take on an imaginary Oriental style.

And for a good laugh on the way, there's always the "Let,s Relax" sign put up by someone who is obviously very confused about spelling and punctuation - who doesn't love a great typo?

At my desk - out of my Sesame Street tote come stumbling out a notepad I adorned with Ingres's superb portrait of Madame d'Haussonville, sharp pencils and, of course, an apple.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fashion Structures

To inaugurate the new Resnick pavilion, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art brings us Fashioning Fashion, an exploration of fabrics, cuts, trims etc. from the late 18th century to the 1910's. The exhibition is very poorly staged, compared to the recent fashion show about American women, at the Met, which featured settings and characters seemingly interacting. Here, each piece is displayed in a box, archive-style. What a lost opportunity!

Next week I will show you my favorite pieces, but in the meantime here are some dramatic fashion structures - various kinds of corsets and other "figure enhancing" devices that are tremendously architectural. By the way, the show also features padded jackets to make men's chests seem bulkier and "waist binders," also for men.
One fascinating phenomenon is how developments in technology allow fashion to be transformed - case in point, this metal panier that could be created thanks to breakthroughs in the use of steel.

Contrasting with all those metal structures, supreme designer Paul Poiret's exquisite 1915 brassière (below) offers another type of support altogether...

Monday, October 18, 2010

At Home

From top:
Fresh plums from the Santa Monica Farmers' Market...
A wonderfully warm 100% wool throw woven in Argentina, from luxurious brand Alta Pampa. So expensive but so worth it - as I may be moving very soon to a freezing cold place, I really need this...
Bill's Bees is a tiny local Los Angeles company that offers, in addition to honey, a few all-natural natural skincare products such as this magical almond-scented balm.