Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I don't usually wear a watch - do you? The two exceptions are when I'm traveling (no one wants to miss that connecting flight...) or when I'm teaching. I've recently taken up tutoring again, which is code for "having fun with little kids at France Exchange in Los Angeles," so I pulled my watches out of the drawer.
Both are very precious to me. The elegant yet sporty Tag Heuer model was given to me by my generous parents on the occasion of my 20th birthday. The other one is an Omega that is quite ancient since it goes back to the days when my father was a young man - he bought in 1965, in Dakar, Senegal, where he was then living... Unlike the Tag, this Omega is a mechanical watch, meaning that it's powered by the energy from your wrist rather than a battery; every time I use it, I just adjust the time, shake-shake-shake my wrists and it's good to go. Very environment-friendly. Magical.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Bathroom

You've seen my bed-side table. You've seen my decal chandelier, my red chair reading corner, and my closet door, you've seen my pillowcases and towels. You've even peeked inside my fridge!
Is there anything you haven't seen from my home? Why, my bathroom of course.
It has some lovely details, such as the glass door knobs, and salmon-pink tiles with green details - to make the bathroom more green and less pink, I chose a fish-pattern shower curtain, in hues ranging from teal to aqua.
Behind the door, hanging over the hot pink hot water bottle I use to relieve tense muscles, one of my heavy linen nightgowns waits for me to step out of the shower - I have a few of these granny nightgowns, with delicate embroideries and trimmings, bought in French flea markets .

On the sink and in the slim cabinet behind the mirror, I keep: all kinds of natural products (such as the deliciously scented Weleda almond facial moisturizer, my Olive Oil and Aloe Kiss My Face body lotion, Dr Brommer's energizing peppermint liquid soap)... a year's worth of contact lenses... eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils to sprinkle around the house and in the washing machine for invigorating, clean scents... my favorite perfumes (Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon and Comptoir Sud Pacifique's Vanille Extrême), a little bit of make-up and Frederic Fekkai's magical Glossing Sheer Shine Mist...

I also store a couple of products brought from France: months worth of Anthélios SPF 50 fluid sunscreen, and some Friction de Foucaud - this post-workout liquid lotion packed with citrus, thyme, lavender and rosemary essential oils activates blood circulation so I always rub my legs with it after a long distance flight to make my legs feel lighter and happier.

Writers' Almanac: today October 27 is Sylvia Plath's birthday. She would be 77 today. Oh, Sylvia.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sophie La Girafe

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times explained "How Sophie the giraffe became a status teether - A mom ponders the appeal of the soft, adorable and pricey teething toy from France." This article brought back many memories from childhood and beyond, as I used to have my own Sophie back in the days when she was certainly not an it toy, and as I have since seen her, clutched in the little hands of many French kids - lovely, precious baby Arthur, whom I posted about last summer, was so kind as to let me borrow his Sophie for the picture above.
Sophie La Girafe has been produced artisanally in France since 1961; the all-natural rubber she's made of comes from hevea trees, which makes her safe for babies to put in their mouths.
Just for old times' sake, I had my mum mail me one from France a couple of weeks ago. At first propped on my bookshelf, Sophie had to make a hasty retreat into a closet as Benjy was eager to sink his fangs in, and to chew in order to elicit Sophie's high pitched squeak...

In the picture below, yes, it's me! Aged about 6 months,in our Paris kitchen, with my dear Sophie...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ice-Cream Dress

Ice-cream dress - that's the lovely name that my favorite Etsy seller, Tortilla Girl, gave this item. With its delicate, playful shoulder straps, its seersucker grayish blue fabric and its perfect, perfect execution, this crisp and fresh dress has become my favorite. Becky, aka Tortilla Girl, adapted this design to my body (I emailed her my exact measurements for a flawless fit) and my color preference (I wanted gray or blue stripes instead of the pink featured in her Etsy shop, and she went to buy some fabric especially for me)...
The bliss, the bliss!

I may love it even more than the previous dress I got from her, the exquisite model below...Do you have an Etsy shop? Which ones are your favorites?
I'm already in full Christmas shopping mode and want to buy as much as possible from Etsy - and also from dear Marie's lovely new shop, Ici.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Around Los Angeles

Inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry...

A superb old tree on my street in Venice...

The threshold of a building on the hip Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Hitchcock in LA - black birds congregate on the power lines downtown.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Around "Where The Wild Things Are"

On my way to see Spike Jonze's Where The Wild Things Are, based on the classic by Maurice Sendak, I stopped by a bookstore, where a Wild Things display attracted my attention - it featured not only the original book, and its novel-version by David Eggers, the film's screenwriters, but also books about the movie, dolls and more. I bought a superb coffee-table type volume,The Art Of Maurice Sendak; I discovered the master a few years ago, when he was profiled in The New Yorker, and fell in love with his work.
As for the movie, it's poignant yet tender and funny. The use of natural light reminded me sometimes of the luscious masters of the Renaissance, sometimes of Edward Hopper's icy canvases. Little Max confronts his personal demons, his wild things, through a journey that can only echo in all of us.

To celebrate the release of the film, Vice has asked 24 visual artists from all over the world to give their own take on this work; I got my hands on a copy of the resulting little book, which you can also download here.
I especially like the black and white drawing of Tony Millionaire (left), with its sharp angles and sea beasts straight out of a medieval manuscript, as well as the futuristic, urban and edgy illustration by Ray Sohn (below). The dreamy, textured, almost naive work of Ester Pearl Watson contrasts beautifully with Imiri Sakabashira's sleek, sophisticated Japanese bestiary...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Benjy At The Window

At the window, tense and with all his sharp senses heightened, what is Benjy staring at?

When it's not the impudent squirrels, the cackling crows or Otis, his nemesis from across the street, or the hapless mail lady, it's little Stewart, one of my neighbors' many cats, and a free-roaming adventurer around the garden... Whether Benjy wants to play with him or lunch on him is not quite clear, so they have not met beyond the window-pane yet...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Stainless Steel Canteen

I am always on the lookout for new stylish vessels to carry some water around without having to resort to plastic bottles - for one thing, plastic containers are now thought to be dangerous for our health, and I'd also avoid participating in the piling up of discarded plastic bottles in landfills.
Last year, I showed you my cool Swiss-made Sigg I still use at home all the time. My latest find is by Us Canteen, an American brand that creates beautiful stainless steel bottles inspired by the design of military canteens. These sleek bottles come with a fun No Plastic trinket (above), and carriers such as the Como (right), complete with a cell-phone compartment and a zipped pocket. I love it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Little Tokyo (1)

I was driving in downtown Los Angeles, on my way to the Los Angeles Opera's costume sale event, when I happened upon Little Tokyo. I have posted before about my taste for anko, that sweet Japanese azuki bean paste, so it will come as no surprise that I bought some anko-filled treats.
I also bought some beautiful fresh ginger, which I'll have grated in boiling water - this is excellent for your throat when you have a cold, by the way. I also grate fresh ginger into all kinds of dishes, for a little biting kick.
This was also the perfect occasion to hang out in a Japanese supermarket. I'll post a few very colorful, fun pics in the second part on this Little Tokyo report. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tables Of New York

When I got back to Los Angeles, the first question a New Yorker friend asked me is, "Where did you eat?" It made me laugh - New Yorkers are so obsessed with restaurants! Here are shots of tables from some of the places where Chloé and I had meals in NYC, and as you see, it's not all about the food.
Lunch - At the Noho Star, Chloé pulled out her magical makeup pouch and laid out a few of her treasures on the table... They include this spectacular black Chanel lipstick, and a present for me: a yummy-scented lip balm from the boutique of Le Crazy Horse, Paris's most extraordinary, quirky and fascinating cabaret.

An afternoon snack - While Chloé was getting her nails done, I sneaked out for an iced tea blended with home made lemonade and a light yogurt chocolate muffin at Café Angélique, on Bleeker and Grove.

Dinner - We ate almost every night at the wonderful Blue Ribbon in the West Village's Downing street, but we also had dinner once at the Noho Star, where I nibbled on a carrot cake and spied on the amazing artist, musician and scholar Lloyd McNeill drawing effortlessly in his sketch-pad...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Art Galleries In Chelsea

Hanging around Chelsea in NYC last weekend, I visited a number of art galleries. I loved the whimsical, eerie works on paper of Austé, reminiscent of Tim Burton's cartoons and Andersen's fairy tales... I was also thrilled to admire Kara Walker's extraordinary cut-outs - even though her characters have no features or eyes, they are magically expressive, and tell stories - below, the same work seen from two different angles.

Friday, October 02, 2009

New York Journal

Red brick, tiny green patches - 22nd street reminds me of London...

Did you know that the great illustrator Maira Kalman created a line for MAC makeup?

At the Burlesque Festival...

Opening of the Maurice Sendak show in SoHo... If Benjy were in the City, he could get blessed on Sunday with many a New York pet...