Winter Style

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1. Coat / 2. Bag / 3. Gloves  / 4. Hat / 5. Scarf  / 6. Lip balm / 7.  Boots

Maybe it’s the anticipation of our first snow storm, expected to hit later today, or falling madly in love with that cashmere wool coat and snatching it up weeks ago, but all I know is that I’m dying to really get into winter. My current winter style arsenal consists of a big puffy down coat and duck boots, which, while keeping me reliably warm and dry, doesn’t do much in the way of making me look chic and sleek; because my coat is brown, I tend to resemble Mr. Hankey. Not cute. What is cute, however, is that beanie hat, with its quirky Magritte reference. I do love a good art reference. Also: that bag! I’ve been searching forever for a black leather tote that’s lined (nothing is more frustrating than having to pick bits of black shedding leather dots off of everything I own; with the last unlined leather tote I had, the lining stuck to the rubber viewfinder guard on the back of my camera, meaning that every time I took a photo, bits of black leather fuzz stuck to my eyebrow) and I might have to splurge on it in the upcoming weeks. This whole outfit together would guarantee the chicest winter wardrobe, though maybe not the most practical if this winter is anything like our last. We hit a record for the 2nd snowiest winter in Philadelphia’s history last year, and honestly, when you’re trudging back and forth to the bus in 18″ of snow, a pun-y Magritte beanie hat is the last thing on your mind. Ceci n’est pas un chapeau!

November 26, 2014 / fashion / vanity / LEAVE A COMMENT / 5

Paris Print Shop: Black Friday Sale!

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Every year, it seems like Black Friday sales start earlier and earlier, to the point where stores are now opening on Thanksgiving evening. I can’t imagine any sale or deal worth leaving your family on Thanksgiving (a day of mindful gratitude, no less!), or that could warrant getting in line at 5am Friday morning. I’ve never waded into the fray, never tackled other shoppers for the cheapest flat screen television, or even really done anything on Black Friday aside from rolling around on the sofa in a post-turkey coma, save for perusing the occasional online sale.

So this Black Friday, I’m giving you a reason not to leave your couch: the Paris Print Shop Black Friday Sale! From now until Monday, December 1st, save 30% on all prints, using coupon code 30OFF. After reading all of your wonderfully encouraging suggestions and comments on this post, I’ve added a bunch of new prints and new sizes to the shop. Now’s the perfect time to stock up on gifts for family and friends –or even just treat yo self.

Merci and happy shopping!

PS. I’ve answered all the questions you guys had on my Ask Me Anything post. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and interesting questions, kiddos! I tried to be equally as thoughtful in my answers. Go take a peek!

November 24, 2014 / art / photo / LEAVE A COMMENT / 6

Girl Crush

A little over a year and a half ago, I posted a few Paris Street Fashion photos that included this photograph of a striking young French woman:

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The response in the comments of that post were overwhelmingly flattering, as all of you thought there was some resemblance between her and I. Now, I’m as vain as the next person, but even I’m not quite so self-adoring as to think I compare remotely with how gorgeous this mystery girl is. And she is, truly. I can’t tell you the wonders those comments did for my ego (even though lolz, no. you guys are blind)! I’d pinned her photo all that time ago, but her face has been burned into my memory ever since because of how breathtakingly beautiful she was.

A few days ago, the mystery was solved and I finally figured out who she is. Her name is Marine Vacth, and she’s a Parisian actress and model. I found a photo of her while googling “French girl hair” for my (long overdue) haircut Wednesday evening, and realized she looked familiar. Sure enough, when I compared it against the original photo I’d pinned, it was unmistakably her, only she’s somehow gotten prettier. Behold, proof:

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Who are you crushing on these days (guy or girl)? Or animal. Truth be told, my biggest crush might still be Grumpy Cat.

November 21, 2014 / fashion / vanity / random / LEAVE A COMMENT / 19

Ask Me Anything

Rue Cardinale

Even though I’ve had this blog for nearly four years now (!!), we’re all aware that, except on rare occasions, blog posts aren’t always representative of the lives we lead offline. I constantly debate whether or not to post more personal things, or whether to keep things light and fluffy. I strive to be as authentic as possible either way; you all know I’m obsessed with cheese, Paris, and lose my shit over the silliest Youtube videos. But what if you’re relatively new around here, or I’ve been unintentionally vague about something? (for example: why haven’t I mentioned Gary Oldman in a few months?)

I’ve always wanted to do a question & answer session, like those Reddit AMAs with celebrities. I’m not deluded enough to think people are clamoring to ask me their most burning questions –or that I’m even interesting enough to warrant curiosity outside of what I talk about on this blog– but I thought it might be fun to try anyway. So! You ask, I answer. What’s my favorite movie? Desert island book? Why haven’t I mentioned Gary Oldman in a few months? Super personal questions like bra size or annual salary (both embarrassingly small) or on subjects out of my depth (basically anything with math or, like, quantum physics) won’t be answered, but otherwise you can ask me anything you’ve been curious about. Favorite word? Scariest childhood memory? How did Jamal and I meet? Just how vain do I think I am to host one of these? The floor is yours!

I’ll keep this post pinned to the top of my blog for the next week and will answer your comments here or in a separate post, if the question is really good or warrants a more in-depth response. Anonymous posting is okay! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Check out the FAQ before asking your question, as I might have already addressed it there!

November 17, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 34

Go Back to Bed

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Wear 1 / Wear 2 // Read // Cuddle // Pamper // Smell // Drink

Don’t get me wrong, I was so grateful to have yesterday off of work for Veteran’s Day (thanks to the sacrifices made by countless service men and women, including my maternal grandfather), but it’s alarming the ease with which I can lose my momentum to go back to work after being home even for a day. The Sunday Night Blues are a weekly recurrence, and I had this exact talk with someone in my office only last week: we’re afraid that if we stay home one day, we’ll never go in again. So imagine how difficult it was to peel myself out of bed this morning after an unseasonably warm Tuesday that found me getting a manicure, picking up fresh flowers for the week, and lunching with my mom at a French patisserie. Now add fog and misting rain and you’ll understand why all I wanted to do was burrow under the covers and pretend I’d never heard my alarm. Another two or three hours or sleep wouldn’t have hurt. Eventually, at a more reasonable hour, something would rouse me into consciousness (probably Fitz) and I’d have to get up, but only to move to the sofa and under another cuddly blanket. Give me a big book and an even bigger mug of hot chocolate, and I’d never go to work again. The momentum. It’s gone.

I actually bought those lovely pajama pants in Greece, and they are the softest and comfiest things ever. And yes, I’m stilling making my way through Edward Rutherfurd’s “Paris,” since starting it in July. It normally doesn’t take me this long to finish a book, even 800-page ones, but I’ve been putting it down for weeks at a time. I’ve finished seven (and a half!) other books while muscling through this one. Seven! I’m more than halfway through “Paris,” but clearly I need a day off just to read.

November 12, 2014 / fashion / vanity / LEAVE A COMMENT / 23

A Cautionary Tale

Rue Barbet de Jouy

Remember this post, in which I made light of the fact that my license had expired all the way back in December, and how adorably insistent I was that it wasn’t a big deal? A refresher: I can’t tell you the last time I operated a motor vehicle. Years, at least two. And when my license expired I found it a nuisance to deal with; the DMV is notoriously the last place anyone ever wants to spend any time, and the $30 renewal fee felt excessive for something I never used. I had my upcoming sojourn to Paris taking up most of my attention (and finances) at the time, so I suppose I can be forgiven for not making my license a priority. My passport, on the other hand, I renewed a full seven months before it expired. I figured I’d take care of renewing my right to drive like a grandma when I got back.

And then I came back in July, and it was full-on wedding crunch time. And then there was the wedding, and then the honeymoon, and I’d become so used to using my passport as ID at bars that the need to renew my license developed even less of a sense of urgency. Until about two weeks ago, when Jamal asked me, “Won’t you have to retake the driving test at some point?”

“No,” I scoffed. “They only make the elderly retake it.”

“Are you sure? It’s been about 10 months now.”

Ten months? Oh my god, it had been! If you ever need proof that time doesn’t so much pass as disappears, try putting off renewing your license. Then I had a brief mental review of the previous ten months, which, had this been a movie, would have involved lots of dreamy music and slow motion scenes in Paris and Greece, punctuated with the occasional anxiety of my expired license.

Still, I thought. I’ll be fine.

But then I googled. And you’d think I would’ve learned my lesson now about googling answers to things you really don’t want to know the answers to (“My dog just ate a box of matches, will he die?”), but no. And it turns out that in the state of Pennsylvania, if you let your license lapse for more than six months, you need to retake the driving exam.

I’m not wonderful at math, but even I realized that 10 months was a whole four months longer than six months. Six months would have been June, and this being November, I realized I was, as the saying goes, up shit’s creek without a paddle. Not that I could’ve paddled anyway, because my canoe license is expired, too!

What exactly does the license exam entail? Well, first, I’d need a signed physical from a doctor, certifying I’m in good enough health to drive a car. The I’d need to take a road knowledge test at the DMV in order to obtain a learner’s permit. Then I’d need to schedule (and pay for!) a road test. I did all of this when I was newly 20 and for some reason decided learning to drive was a worthy pursuit. Spoiler: it’s no fun, and I wasn’t about to voluntarily put myself through it again.

Panic. Sweating. Stifled laughter from my friend Herbie, who swore he wasn’t laughing at me just at my predicament. There was no way in hell I was applying for a learner’s permit again at almost-28. If it truly came down to it, I thought, I’d say eff it and just get a state ID card and never drive again. It wouldn’t be that much of a difference from my current life, only I wouldn’t have to carry around my passport as a valid form of ID.

Just to be sure/beg for mercy, I called the state DMV office, and a kindly lady confirmed that yes, in the state of PA, you can choose to not drive with a valid license for at least two years, but if you let that license lapse for six months and one day, you need to re-do the entire driving test process from the beginning. Merde.

“But wait,” she said. I heard clicking and typing in the background. “Hmm. That’s interesting! It looks like the system isn’t prompting a retake in your particular case.” WHAT? “Normally, it wouldn’t let you renew your license, but I’m not getting that error on yours.” Finally, the prevailing incompetence of the DMV actually worked in my favor!

You could call it divine intervention or luck, but my sweet friends, I was spared the embarrassment of getting a whole new license at this age. I was able to renew online without issue, and I have to go to the DMV this afternoon and have a new photo taken. No doctor’s physical or horrible road test required. The downside is that, because I updated my address less than 30 days before an election, I still had to go back to my mom’s neighborhood to vote last week. A small price to pay to avoid the inevitable failure that would have met my attempt at passing a road test under the strict DMV requirements.

Did I learn my lesson? Enh. Ask me in another three years.

November 10, 2014 / life / dog / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 27

Paris Print Shop

Paris Print Shop

Paris Print Shop

I thought I’d give you a little update on my latest happy little side project, selling prints of my Paris photos over at my Paris Print Shop. It’s been open for about two months now, and both the response to the initial launch and the business since have been surprisingly –and consistently– great. I say “surprising” because there’s always an element of self-doubt associated with an endeavor as risky as this one. In the beginning, “What if no one ever buys anything?” and “Why are you even bothering??” frequently ran through my head like a scrolling marquee of insecurity. But now my local printer knows me by name and pulls my prints out of the stack when he sees me walk in. I’m an expert at the USPS click-n-ship online postage service (though I still think the Post Office could launch itself out of debt in a week if it changed its open hours to times when everyone ISN’T AT WORK). And I’m so, so happy, especially because other people are happy having my prints in their home.

I’m thinking of adding new prints to the shop, but I can’t decide which ones. That’s where you come in! Which photos from this album would you want to see for sale? More Eiffel Tower? Flowers? Street scenes? I’m too close to them to see them objectively (god help my poor editor if this novel of mine ever makes it that far) and if there’s one thing I learned in college during my photography studies, it’s that the photographer is usually the worst at guessing which photographs everyone else will love. Often, during our weekly critiques, I’d think, “Really? That’s the one they like?” Couple that with a bias towards all of my photos from Paris, and I’m stuck. I’d love to hear what you think!

November 7, 2014 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 20

A Sleek Apartment in Paris

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Admittedly, I haven’t spent much time in the 10eme, the neighborhood in central Paris that encompasses Canal Saint-Martin and Gare de L’Est. With the exception of our two trips to La Tête Dans Les Olives and an afternoon stroll around the Canal, my only other experience with the neighborhood comes from mostly ignoring its existence. Which sounds mean, I know, but it isn’t typically a must-see arrondissement in the city. It’s nestled south of Montmartre, and north of the hipper Marais, so the 10eme has sadly flown under my radar. It’s assuredly more local and quiet than the neighborhoods surrounding the major tourist spots elsewhere in Paris, but, as I learned when I saw this apartment for sale, equally as rife with resplendent real estate (say that three times fast). The detailed ceiling medallions, beautiful moldings, and unbelievable chevron floors in every room aren’t overshadowed by the more modern updates. That eat-in kitchen is the stuff of dreams, with the nook bookshelf and exaggerated floor lamp. I’d sort of assumed that apartments this classically detailed only existed in more storied neighborhoods, like the 7eme or the 17eme, but I stand happily corrected. The only downside? The price tag, bien sûr. (€1.390m. Oof.) Well, and that strange painting in the living room.

November 5, 2014 / home design / LEAVE A COMMENT / 25

Friday At the Museum

Diana, Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Paul Strand

Still Life with a Bouquet of Daisies, Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent

Path on the Island of Saint Martin, Vétheuil, Claude Monet

The Large bathers, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Philadelphia Museum of Art

I’m a member of two of the greatest museums in the world, on two different continents. The Louvre was just a little far last week (sadly), so when faced with only a three-hour workday on Friday, I knew there was only one place I wanted to spend my afternoon. I’ve sung and will always sing the praises of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but in case you need a refresher: I love this museum. I grew up coming here almost every Sunday with my dad, and Jamal and I even had our engagement photos taken here. Museums are my happy place. They are quiet, grand, filled with all my favorite artists, and you’re encouraged to linger, to sit, to stare, to think, to soak it all in. I went to the Louvre once a week in Paris, and I can’t tell you how good that was for my soul. I was overdue for a visit to my hometown favorite.

While I knew I would inevitably end up in my favorite wing (European Art, 1850-1900) to see my boyfriends Claude, Vincent, Edgar, Pierre-Auguste, I was happy to catch the Paul Strand exhibit the museum currently has on. Nearly all of the 250 prints on view came from the museum’s archive of close to 4,000. It was an exhaustive look at Strand’s body of work, with images from Ghana, Egypt, France, Italy, coastal Maine, and of course, New York. I ran into my friend Katie, who works at the museum (lucky duck!), while I was meandering through the gallery. It was a sweet surprise to see her.

Also a delight was seeing Diana back in her spot at the top of the Great Hall stairs. The giant sculpture had been removed to be reguilded last year ago and was only recently returned, sparkling with new bright gold leaf. And once inside my favorite wing, I discovered a previously unknown-to-me van Gogh still life, of dark daisies. Would you have ever guessed that was a van Gogh? He painted it in 1885, only five years before his death. It’s moody and a little muddy for a painting of flowers, and more precise and small than his other works, which is an interesting contrast to the oversized, colorful sunflowers usually associated with him. Still, you can spot his trademark wide slabs of paint in the green shadows along the table. I love it.

November 3, 2014 / art / photo / At the Museum / LEAVE A COMMENT / 10

Rue Honoré Chevalier (And an Excerpt from the First Draft)

Rue Honoré Chevalier

“I dance ballet,” Rose said.

“Oh, good. For a moment I was afraid you were going to say you were ‘modern.’”

“What’s wrong with modern dance?” Rose asked.

“I prefer ballet. It’s more refined and elegant, more restrained. Modern dance is just…” Sylvie’s hands were rolling around each other as she searched for the right word, “It’s a mess. All over the place.”

“Don’t you sell modern art?” Rose asked, smirking.

“Contemporary,” Sylvie said, correcting her. “And you’re attempting to make a connection, but I don’t see it.” Mirette had abandoned any pretense of subtlety and was now turned fully around in her chair, facing their conversation. She suddenly felt like a line judge at a tennis match. Rose, to her credit, had realized she’d been snared on a conversational tripwire, and was politely trying to backpedal.

“You know, contemporary art just feels very frenetic to me.” She would have been fine, if she’d left it at that, but she had to accompany her pronouncement with a hand gesture that mimicked an explosion. “I know I don’t know anything about it, but from an outsider, art like Pollock seems so sloppy.” Mirette reflexively winced, bracing herself for impact.

“Sylvie, don’t bother. Rose is hopeless when it comes to this subject. I’ve tried,” Mirette said, aiming for levity and landing on desperation. Sylvie set her glass down with more force than was necessary. Mirette could feel the air seep out of middle of the table. Even Andrés, who was never more attracted to his wife than when she was passionately discussing art, became suddenly fascinated by the dark red fabric that was draped across the ceiling, feeling that certain spars were best held without spectators. Antoine leaned forward slightly, an amused and expectant smile on his face.

“This is the problem with people these days,” Sylvie said to no one in specific. She then looked Rose squarely in her face, settling the full weight of her glare on her, and leaned forward on her crossed arms. “A Pollock is more like a ballet than you understand. There is nothing ‘sloppy’ about it. Each single drop of paint is the result of restraint and composition and subtle poise, even though it looks like a bunch of unintentional noise on a canvas to most people.” Mirette was a few seconds away from throwing herself in front of Rose, who was shrinking back in her chair so dramatically she was sure to end up on the floor with a final swoop. Mirette motioned to the waiter with a quick circle of her hand that another round of drinks were necessary.

“You either buy into it or you don’t. You either go into a museum or a gallery an open, receptive vessel, or you carry in with you all the preconceived notions about how contemporary art is ‘weird’ or unapproachable or indecipherable, and then of course all the art on the walls–”

“Or the floors,” Antoine added.

“Or the floors –a pile of wrapped candy, a bed strewn with crumpled paper and trash– makes no sense. If you stand in front of a Jackson Pollock and you’ve already decided it’s paint splatters, random and meaningless, then what else could it look like to you?”

“Why doesn’t anyone have this problem with, I don’t know, someone like Monet?” Rose asked.

“Because everyone thinks a Monet is beautiful because it is, but it’s also been universally agreed that it is beautiful and everyone knows it. There hasn’t been the same unanimity about the majority of the art from the last 40, 50 years. Yet.”

“You think there will be.”

“I don’t know. And that’s what makes it so exciting. That frenetic uncertainty is exciting. It’s all guesswork, based on how much you trust your taste. On how much clients trust my taste.”


I’m writing a novel. You can read more about that here.

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October 27, 2014 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 27