Friday Five

1.  This hilarious commercial for…well, I’ll let you watch & figure it out:

I don’t know what made me think of this again after all this time, but the first time I saw this on tv in Paris I laughed out loud. There are several variations on the theme and all are equally brilliant. This is one of the best marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen (though it doesn’t make me want to buy the product, so maybe I should say it is the most entertaining, rather than the best).

 2. This beautifully symmetrical photography project:

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French architect Gilles Alonso has been traveling around France taking photos of famous, grand, and even simple theaters from center stage. There’s something eerie and yet satisfyingly balanced about these photos that I find just captivating. And I can’t be the only one picking up major Phantom of the Opera vibes from these, can I? Thanks to my brother for sending me this!

3. This fantastic, futuristic clock:

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For someone for whom it takes just a half-beat longer to read a face clock than normal (I’m pretty sure I was absent the day we learned this in Kindergarten), the QlockTwo is the answer to my prayers. Minute hands, seconds hands, forget it; blame it on the digital age we live in. Words, however, I can understand, and QlockTwo literally spells out the time in complete sentences, turning time “into a statement.” QlockTwo is 17″ square, can be wall-mounted or free-standing, and comes in a variety of colors, which adhere to the solid wood base with magnets. It doesn’t hurt that it’s typographically stunning, either. At nearly €1500, however, it is also prohibitively expensive.

4. This spot-on illustration from my favorite Tom Gauld:

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We’ve all been there, haven’t we? I love everything Tom Gauld creates.

5. This reflection of a still-unsolved museum heist: 

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Keith Meyers/The New York Times

On March 18th, it will have been 25 years since two thieves dressed as police officers broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, bound and gagged two guards in the basement, and “for 81 minutes, brazenly and clumsily cut two Rembrandts from their frames, smashed glass cases holding other works, and made off with a valuable yet oddball haul” including several Degas sketches, Vermeer’s “Concert,” Manet’s “Chez Tortoni. In the intervening quarter century, the paintings have yet to be recovered, and the frames still hang empty on the walls at the museum. This article from the NYTimes details the case –including new (to me) information about paint-chip samples sent anonymously to the FBI for testing, an alleged sighting of one of the Rembrandt’s in a warehouse, and about a hundred possible suspects and leads– and reads more like my type of thrilling fiction than the sad, strange reality it is. Definitely worth a read over the weekend if you love a good art heist.

Speaking of art heists, I have one to share with you on Monday. What are you up to this weekend, kiddos? My mom’s birthday is Sunday and my best friend returned from a whirlwind trip to Italy, so I will be brunching at Parc…twice in two days. What more could I possibly want?

February 27, 2015 / art / photo / Art Heist / Friday Five / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 5

Our Apartment in Paris

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Well, temporarily, anyway.

We’re making good progress on accommodations for our upcoming trip to Italy (80 days!), having nailed down where we’re staying in Rome for the first few days (I’ll share that apartment soon!). We still need to find a place to stay in Florence, Siena, and somewhere in the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Rome (any suggestions, friends?), so naturally I’ve been devoting all of my energy into finding an apartment to rent in Paris for the last three days of the trip. Bien sûr. I’m nothing if not helpful and focused on the task at hand. We’re all set on the bookends of the trip now. After flirting with staying in the 7eme, close to the Musée Rodin, or in the 17eme near Ternes and Parc Monceau again, we couldn’t resist the siren call of Montmartre. I don’t even know why we tried fighting it. It’s where I lived for two months and where we stayed in 2013 when we got engaged. Jamal even stayed there on his own for a few days on a trip back from India. I would’ve loved to stay somewhere new, find a new little pocket of the city to explore. And we still will, but Montmartre will kind of always be our “home base” in Paris. And when we found this apartment? Well, the decision was made for us. It’s the perfect blend of modern and artist’s atelier. The windows! The raised dining room! The green tile in the kitchen! The floor tile in the kitchen! The lofted bedroom! I wonder how the owners would feel about us moving in indefinitely?

February 25, 2015 / home design / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 17

Unfinished Thoughts

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Because I surely haven’t bored you enough with talk of my writing process: while the majority of the writing I do is in paragraphs or pages at a time –fully flushed-out ideas with a cogency both standalone and in the grander narrative arc– there are other, blurrier snippets that pop up from time to time, unmoored from the novel as a whole. I’ve made mention previously of the “single sentences squeezed out of my early-morning brain on the bus,” or the half-formed lines that burst into the forefront of my consciousness before I fall asleep at night, desperate to be documented. Usually a phrase, a line of dialogue, or maybe even just two words strung together that, for whatever reason, carry an urgency that finds me scribbling by the light of my cell phone or adding yet another line to saved draft email I use for writing on the go (word count of that email alone: 9,169). More often than not, I find their rightful home in the novel without too much effort, am able to work out these unfinished thoughts eventually and nestle them in the writing where they fit, where they were meant to fit all along only it took my brain a little longer to catch up to. But then are things I’ll write down that had such an immediacy when they came to me but now might as well be hieroglyphics for all the sense they make. Herewith, a few examples:

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In a way, these are as illuminating about the way this novel is going for me as the ‘official’ first draft document. But I also feel like Lucas, from “Empire Records”: “Who knows where thoughts come from, they just appear.” I love these little unfinished thoughts, even though sometimes I feel schizophrenic when they charge into my brain out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly, leaving me muttering whatever it was out loud so I don’t forget it, as I’m digging through my bag for a pen.

February 19, 2015 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 14

Pretty Packaging

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I had brunch with my darling friend Lyndsey at Parc yesterday, after which we went to Sephora for a bit of retail therapy/excuse to be indoors somewhere warm. While she was consulting with one of the sales associates over BB creams or CC creams or some other cream she doesn’t need because she is naturally flawless, I wandered around the store spritzing myself with various perfumes with completely clashing scent profiles when I happened upon this collection, from Nest. My jaw hit the floor. I’ve never seen packaging as gorgeous or as meticulous; sure, perfume, of all things, generally comes in beautiful bottles, but these? These are on a whole different planet, one where packaging design is just as important as the scent combination, if not more. These bottles are stunning, and if I hadn’t already smelled “like a baby prostitute” I would’ve sprayed all of them on my wrists and neck. The designs are works of art. The spiny green fronds and striking flora evoke a cross between “Opulent Oceans,” a large coffee table book from the American Museum of Natural History, and a Severin Roesen still-life, no?

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I think on name alone I’m most intrigued by the scent of “Midnight Fleur,” but truly, I’d take any of these and use them as display pieces rather than their intended use.

February 17, 2015 / art / photo / fashion / vanity / LEAVE A COMMENT / 22

Four Years

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Four years ago today, an unemployed, bored, and creatively-unfulfilled girl started a blog as a means of shopping-aversion therapy. “Maybe,” she thought, “if I write about all the things I like, want, or need to buy but can’t afford, I’ll exhaust my desire for them. Now, what on earth would I call such a blog?”

(It’s me. I’m talking about myself in the third person.)

Four years ago, that girl was barely eight months into a relationship with the man who would later become her husband, and she didn’t know then that she would get to document their engagement or wedding for a community of friends (both online and off). Four years ago, that struggling girl could never have known she’d one day move to Paris to write a novel; if you’d told her there was that sort of the brilliant light at the end of the tunnel, she would have scoffed, adjusted her sweatpants, and started another marathon of America’s Next Top Model, a show she, in unemployed desperation, had auditioned for just a year prior. An experience that, while amazingly rich in lols, did nothing for her bank account or resume.

Four years ago, that girl moved in with her boyfriend over the summer and together they got way in over their heads and adopted a wily, lovable, lunatic-wrapped-in-fur named Fitz. Proving that nothing really changes and also that his Prozac does nothing for him, this morning he whined at a parked car because he didn’t like the roof rack. He is, however, my most trusted editorial sounding board. “Fitz,” I’ll often say to him because who doesn’t anthropomorphize their pets, “what should Mommy blog about today?” To which he’ll roll right over and distract me with his little belly and imploring eyes.

In four years, my tastes in interiors and music haven’t changed, and neither has my Francophilia, but I’ve made an effort to expand my horizons. Four years ago I never would have dreamed I’d honeymoon in Santorini and like it (sun! not-Paris!), but I did. Correction: I loved it. (I’m expecting nothing less from Italy in a few months.)

In four years of blogging here I’ve learned a few things along the way: I’m comfortable coding in CSS now, and I’m comfortable not blogging every single day. I’ve hit the sweet spot with two or three posts per week, but it took a while to get over the initial self-imposed stress and guilt on the days when I didn’t post something. I hope you kiddos don’t mind too much; I’d rather post when I truly have something to say and feel inspired to share, rather than post for posting’s sake.

I don’t know if I have another four years of blogging in me, to be honest. In four years I’ll be 32 (WEEPING. WEEPING OPENLY.) and might even have a kiddo of my own then and lack the sufficient time or energy to craft such groundbreaking posts as Gary Oldman in Paris. Who knows. But this will always be my favorite side-project. I’ve met so many incredible, and incredibly supportive, people in the last four years, including my first ever blog friend, Annie, whose birthday is today! Happy birthday, darling! Yes, in a delightfully serendipitous twist, my first blog friend and my blog share a birthday. Annie and I have hung out in New York and Paris together, something that never would have happened if not for this blog.

Avenue de l'Opera

I’m wildly grateful for your friendship and comments here every day, you guys. Thank you for making this blog what it is. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go indulge myself in some macarons and 80s boyband music to celebrate.

February 12, 2015 / art / photo / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 32

The Print Shop Is Now On Etsy!

Like / Want / Need Print Shop

Well, why not oversaturate the internet with like / want / need? It seems as though all the cool kids have Etsy shops (I’m looking at you, twinsy), and while I love having a Print Shop here on my blog for my prints (with no intentions to get rid of it) it seemed prudent to reach a wider audience if I could. My Etsy shop, aptly named the Like / Want / Need Print Shop is a more tightly edited selection of Paris photographs, as well as a few photos from Athens and Santorini! I’m planning on adding some photographs of Italy, when the time comes (95 days!). Also new, all prints come in either 4×6″ or 8×10″/12″ (sometimes all three) and start at $5 for individual 4×6 prints.

Happy shopping, kiddos! And thank you for your continued support with the Print Shop.

February 10, 2015 / art / photo / LEAVE A COMMENT / 7

The Myth of Writer’s Block

I came across this quote from author Lois Lowry over on Goodreads earlier this week. Someone asked, “What is the writing process for you…and how do you get over writers block?” Lowry’s response was incredibly simple, an obvious statement that was a lightbulb moment for me: writer’s block is a go-to cop out we authors employ when we are too lazy to buckle down. (I’m paraphrasing.) Here’s what she said:

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I’m guilty of using writer’s block as an excuse many, many times over the course of the last two years spent working on this novel. And sometimes I don’t even blame writer’s block, but rather I admit to my own incapability of prioritizing. (“Last weekend was just too busy, I didn’t even have time to think about writing.”) But writer’s block is a no-questions-asked response that people sort of expect you to give at some point if you’re a writer.

Lowry is right, though.

Writer’s block doesn’t exist. You just don’t feel like writing.

When we find excuses to put off filing a big stack of documents at work –”I don’t feel like doing this right now. I wonder what’s new on Twitter…”– we call it ‘procrastinating.’ When we sit down at the computer or in front of a blank page, and the words don’t come, we call it ‘writer’s block.’ “I’m not feeling inspired. I’m blocked.” I think we believe creative pursuits operate on a different, higher plane in the hierarchy of our needs. Because writing is something I enjoy doing, rather than something I know I have to do (like getting up and going to work every day), we assume it’s immune to the same resistance that quotidian, mundane tasks present. Surely because washing and folding laundry is tedious and no where near as creatively fulfilling as working on my novel, the procrastination I experience when faced with putting away an entire basket of clean clothes couldn’t possibly be the same wall I run into when I sit down to write, only to decide the words just aren’t “ready” or “there.” It’s totally different. It’s writer’s block.

Except it’s not. It’s difficult to dig deep and find the words to put on the page; if it wasn’t, everyone could write a book a week. But while it’s hard to push through and get the writing done (the other side of the same coin: it’s easy to default to blaming the mythical trope of writer’s block), we don’t get to have the same luxury at our day jobs, because we’d find ourselves unemployed. You can’t be fired from writing a novel, so there’s no immediate accountability of a boss bearing down on you and, as a result, we’re more likely to be lenient with our procrastinating and wrap it up in a fancy name. We do our jobs because they have to be done, except when it comes to creative blocks. My mother was a teacher and my father was an architect, and neither of them ever complained about having a block in their chosen professions. “You know, I just couldn’t teach, today.” “Those blueprints just won’t come out of my head this week.”

Do your job, because it has to be done. Write, because this novel has to be written. (This is mostly a plea to myself.)

What do you guys think? Do you believe in writer’s block, and is this an over-simplified theory? Just some food for thought leading into the weekend. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

February 6, 2015 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 19

A Garden Apartment in Paris

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Doesn’t the term “apartment” denote something quaint and small? What’s more, “garden apartment” conjures visions of a precious little studio, facing an interior petit jardin, non? This maisonmansion, truly– defies the simplicity implied in the term “apartment,” for there is nothing simple or small about it (including, unfortunately, the €4.8M list price). Located in the 8eme arrondissement, the apartment boasts three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a separate “beautiful artiste workshop”, with original chevron floors throughout, and windows so large and so abundant I am at a loss for words. What truly took my breath away is that wonderful, decorative covered balcony with separate winding stairwell, inside the apartment. The current owners have made it a reading nook, which, if I’m not mistaken, is precisely how the Real Estate Gods intended it. I know there’s truth to the idea that happiness can only come from within, but I have to contend that it would be fairly unlikely to have a bad day in this place. The windows alone would ensure eternal joy. The listing ends with a one word sentence that most accurately describes this 4700ft² stunner: “Rare.” I’ll say.

(Did anyone else catch the meat slicer in the dining room? Or were you too busy staring at that fantastic skylight?)

February 4, 2015 / home design / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 22

Dream Job

Tea & Writing

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

I don’t mean something like, “doctor” or “lawyer,” actual professions you can go to school for and obtain a specified degree. I mean something zany, and overly precise, and likely non-existant, like “Museum Hanger-Outer.” You know, that dream job where you’d be paid a salary to sit in museums all day and look at paintings and think.

After watching that hours-long annual spectacle on TV yesterday, I realized there are people in this world who get to do their dream job for a living. Children with a profound enthusiasm for one particular thing can grow up and be paid to do that thing in a professional setting, paycheck and all. I’m speaking, of course, about the wondrous event that is Puppy Bowl; the producers of that show as well as the ref, I like to think, grew up believing, “One day I will get to play with adorable puppies and be paid for it.” We should all be such dreamers.

So, let’s.

What career title would you choose for yourself if the world were such a place? Ideally, I’d love to have a job where I can be paid to read books all day, maybe in a small art gallery. Gallery Bibliophile, I believe it’s called. When I was younger I would have loved to be a Space Ballerina, a job that would have combined ballet and my brief flirtation with becoming an astronaut (a track that was swiftly made unavailable to me due to my, shall we say, lack of mathematical prowess). Don’t ask me how a grande arabesque would have worked in zero gravity, but I’m sure it would have been beautiful.

Your turn.

February 2, 2015 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 32

Friday Five

1. This delightfully (intentionally) retro music video from Stromae:

If you can watch this video and not end up charmed and dancing happily in your seat, I pity you. Filmed on an old VHS-loaded camcorder in Cape Verde, set in an indeterminate decade, at what appears to be an afternoon cocktail party, the camera follows (changing hands and perspectives!) everyone from children to the waitstaff to the cooks taking smoke breaks and people on the dance floor. Everyone except for Stromae himself. It is a wonderfully conceived and smartly executed concept for a music video, and it leaves me beaming every time I watch it.

2. And, on a related note, Stromae’s new-to-me clothing capsule collection:

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The quirkiness cannot be overstated. I only lament that the line is not available in the states, and that the socks (adorable!) are €17.

3. Paranoid Parrot!

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There was a time a few years ago when I had one of these Paranoid Parrot memes taped to my monitor at work: “Make one tiny mistake at work, assume I’m getting fired.” It sort of became my “thing” in the office, how paranoid I was about getting fired; I interpreted any conversation that occurred behind closed doors or in hushed tones as one of my impending dismissal. Thankfully, I got past it (likely when my boss held my job for me while I took a two month hiatus in Paris), until this past Tuesday, when I couldn’t immediately log into our company SharePoint site. I’d sloppily mistyped my password, but for a brief moment, I had a full-on Paranoid Parrot melt down. SO THIS IS HOW THEY FIRE ME. Some of them are hilariously accurate!

4. This SNL skit from last weekend that I’ve been laughing about ever since:

SNL has been so hit or miss the past few years (dare I say decades?), and hit its peak for me during the Andy Samberg era. I haven’t even watched the show for a few years, mostly because staying awake until 11:30 (even on a Saturday!) is outside the scope of my abilities, but I happily caught last week’s episode and, in particular, this sketch. It seems like an obvious “Shawshank Redemption” spoof, until you get to the reason he’s in jail. “One man.” Seriously, try not to laugh.

5. Finally joining the ranks of women who swear by eyelash curlers:

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I bought an eyelash curler on sale at Sephora, and ladies, I am hooked. I’m not exactly a “makeup girl”; yes, I wear mascara and blush, but I can’t blend eyeshadow or figure out airbrush foundation, and in general, my makeup routine takes about three minutes. The idea of adding tools and gadgets to my makeup bag seemed foreign and unnecessary. And then one of my best friends got married and as we were getting ready that morning, her sister-in-law kept espousing the virtues of what, truthfully, looks like a modern day torture device. I’m supposed to put that thing near my eye? But damn if it doesn’t make a noticeable difference, especially in the morning, when I could use a little oomph to fight off the sleep still lingering in my face.

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January 30, 2015 / fashion / vanity / Friday Five / random / LEAVE A COMMENT / 12