Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Closet Door

Eerie pop artwork by Yoshimoto Nara... Rudi Nureyev and Gelsey Kirkland dance... Divine Louise Brooks... Fashion designer Makool's hand - remember the lovely wrap miniskirt I bought from her?... A dancing Ganesh... all around the limited edition poster that Kii Arens designed for electro group M83's concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic...
(Click on picture to enlarge)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Bolter - Remembering Kenya

In Nancy Mitford's novels, the narrator's mother is an elusive character, the Bolter, who dashes around the world, collecting husbands; together with the Hun-hating, entrenching tool-wielding Uncle Matthew, the Bolter is one of the most memorable and funniest characters. It turns out she was inspired by Idina Sackville, a five-time divorced eccentric who had fallen in love with Kenya - along with too many younger men she was keen on marrying.

In The Bolter, just released in the USA, her great-granddaughter Frances Osborne tells the story of her life. Not only does it portray a unique woman, but it also explores the mores of Edwardian London, the craziness of 1920's England, the impact of World War One, and the methods of English colonialism in East Africa. In Kenya, she was friends with the Dane Karen Blixen, who later wrote Out of Africa - they even shared a lover, Denys Finch Hatton.
Colonialism in Kenya was meant to be based on railroads - in the early 1980's I took the train from Nairobi to Naivasha with my family (see pic - I'm on the right). This fascinating book brought back many memories of Kenya where I lived as a child. Some of Osborne's lyrical description of Kenya's landscapes and wildlife stirred deep emotions in me, making me long for my very own paradise lost.

And if your paradise is all things books, do check out dear Gabbi's fabulous post on the topic. This must-see post features great pictures, an amazing visit to the Los Angeles Public Library, and, yes, an award for me...
I love reading, and I love Gabbi!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Do You Have Mexican Coca-Cola?

Taco trucks are a common sight in Los Angeles - they roam the city, offering cheap Mexican fare day and night.
But now there is one more reason why people line up before them: Mexican Coca-Cola. Many Americans remember wistfully the taste of Coca-Cola when they were children, as a different, better taste. When visiting countries such as Mexico, they find the very taste they lost, fresh out of the bottle. Indeed, in Mexico and other places, Coke is sweetened with actual sugar rather than with corn syrup as is now the case in the US. For a sip of childhood or to feel like a genuine Los Angeles snob, ask for Mexican Coca-Cola...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Hat And A Tee From The Flea Market

Twice a month, a flea market takes place on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica. Some sellers offer superb items - one of them, an old Japanese man, brings back ancient kimonos, obis and fabrics from Japan.

I had been wanting to add a summer straw hat to my collection for some time, and I instantly fell for this exquisite, 1920's-like hat, with its wide satin ribbon and its smart asymetry - somehow it reminds me of the hats Meryl Streep wore in Out Of Africa. It happens to be a vintage Armani, which I snatched for $20.

I also bought a red tee that pays tribute to my dear, dear Billie Holiday... Her broken voice, with its textured emotions, has always haunted me. I strongly recommend one of her lesser known albums, Songs For Distingué Lovers, which features such classics as Stars Fell on Alabama and a song I adore, I Didn't Know What Time It Was.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More From My Street

How green is my street? Its colors are sheer joy.

And now, a little game to entertain us over the weekend. Look at the picture of the intersection of Ocean Park and Lincoln (right), just a few blocks from where I live.
Can you spot something wrong/odd?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Street Fruit

California is so lush that plenty of food just grows on its tree-lined streets. On the street where I live for instance, you'll find lemons, plums (pictured), and even artichokes, as well as fragrant rosemary.
Last week, the New York Times's wittily titled Neighhbor, Can You Spare A Plum? made it clear that it's legal in California to pick fruit that's in a public space, including if the tree grows on a private property but has branches hanging over public space.
All over the country, people have been getting together to pick the fruit, share it among neighbors and distribute it to others - many make donations to local food banks. Here in Los Angeles, Fallen Fruit designs maps of fruit that can be picked around the metropolis; if you are elsewhere in the USA, you can also check out Neighborhood Fruit. Isn't this a great way to bring communities together, get more people to eat healthy fruit and be less wasteful?
A couple of blocks away, a neighbor has a tree that is just laden with bright lemons and now I am itching to ask if I may pick them and start spreading the juicy bounty around...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Small Macch' For Here

Located a couple of blocks away from my place in Venice, Groundwork is a tiny coffeeshop where I often head, Benjy in tow, for a macchiato (which they call a "macch'"). I sip it on their mini terrace, with a book or paper and sometimes, one of their delicious chocolate cookies.
Old coffee tins, silver coffee pots and ancient items such as rusty scales are displayed around the place, and they also collect funny coffee-themed comics cut out of newspapers.

And now it's time for a design challenge:
Groundwork also sells big burlap bags. I can sense these have a great design potential for the home - bringing some recycling/eco-style spirit into my home... What would you do with them?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Yet More From My New Place

In my last post about my new Venice, CA studio, I promised I would show you more very soon, and here it is.
In this little blue nook, I placed a fun mannequin which wears my hats piled up, and keeps my shawl and favorite necklace handy. Next to it is a bookshelf that conveniently folds up - I really needed some space for the many books I have been reading since I moved to California 7 months ago. (In case you're wondering, yes, I did read them all). The red ottoman goes with the chair I featured in my last home post, and which many of you took to calling Benjy's chair...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Russian Style Book

My abuela doesn't need special occasions to spoil me, and she just gave me a book I had been longing for, Russian Style - abuela knows that ever since I rode the Trans-Siberian as a child, everything Russian has been a genuine passion for me.
Fashion editor Evelina Khromtchenko has selected superb pictures offering a panorama of Russian icons that artists, designers and dreamers such as me find endlessly inspiring.

The volume is also packed with information and little known facts.
Did you know, for instance that the word bistro, meaning a French café/restaurant, comes from the Russian "faster!", which Cossacks soldiers would yell out to French waiter after they defeated Napoleon?
And did you know that Coco Chanel's no. 5 was created by Ernest Beaux, no other than the Russian imperial perfumer?
And that the bra was invented by Russian-born Ida Kaganovich, the founder of Maidenform?
Dance of course is present in the book, especially with a spectacular pic of my dear Maya Plissetskaya, quoted as saying one should "dance music, not dance to music."

Now I dream of an Orenburg shawl, kazaki boots, and bright sitetz (printed cotton fabric) shirts.

Monday, June 08, 2009

More From My New Home

Top: the view from my bed - through the windows, I can see majestic willow trees.
Middle: a huge mirror I found on Craigslist, with its curvy frame
Bottom: when he's not at the window, keeping an eye on the squirrels, birds and dogs roaming through what he considers his garden, Benjy likes to sit on this big chair - its matching ottoman is somewhere else in my room. Its color echoes that of the neighboring red trunk I bought recently, where you'll always find some fresh flowers and a book about Leonardo Da Vinci, propped up to grace us with the master's divine sketch on the cover.

Usually, I like decorating my places with wood furniture and sleek metal, all in clean lines, but in this 1940's (?) beach bungalow kind of studio, it didn't seem right, so I decided to go for a very sparsely furnished place, but with a pop atmosphere, hence the roundish shapes and all that red.
Make sure to come back for more in the days to come - I'll be showing off my scarlet mannequin as well as details from my kitchen and more...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Little Kids' Stuff

I just adore children - and I loved being a child. There's something about little kids' stuff that just makes me oooooh and aaaaaaaah - case in point, these toddler flip flops, spotted on the beach, as well as this adorable and colorful furniture, perfect for a little one's bedroom or for a garden filled with children.

Speaking of children's furniture, I wanted to share an idea I had: I saw an old child's bed, with a beautiful yet simple metal frame, in a store and thought it would make a perfect little sofa for a tiny studio such as mine. It was pretty expensive so I didn't buy it, but I'll keep the idea in a corner of my mind...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009