Gary Oldman in Paris

I should preface this by saying this post is what happens after you sit on the sofa too long, scouring the internet for content, and aided by perhaps more gin than is normally acceptable for a Wednesday night by yourself. I’ll also say that this is the sequel to the “Gary Oldman Eating Macarons” wonderfulness that occurred on Twitter (here and here) when I realized that there are no available photographs of my supreme celebrity man crush eating macarons on the internet. Go to Google right now and search “Gary Oldman eating macarons.” I’m the first SIX RESULTS. I’m so proud!

Anyway, last night I realized there were no photographs of Gary Oldman in Paris. You know, my two favorite things in life. So I decided to rectify that situation the best way I know how: Photoshop. This whole thing took me 20 minutes from start to finish, lest you think I spent hours cropping him out of pictures and pasting him onto Parisian backdrops. My Photoshop skillz are apparently un-addled by things like “gin” or “sanity.”

ENJOY.  Also, I’m sorry.

Oh, Gary Oldman, you shouldn’t have! Bringing me flowers in Paris. Vous êtes un gentleman!

Sometimes in Paris, Gary Oldman stands moodily in the doorway of his bedroom. Il est tres pensif.

He looks so natural, non? Il n’est pas concerned with the midget people around him.

Quoi? You don’t sit outside at a Parisian cafe in the rain in a tuxedo? Vous n’avez pas vécu!

Imagine walking into your building one day and seeing Gary Oldman just standing in the hall. Excusez-moi, monsieur.

If you had a window seat with a view of La Tour Eiffel, you would sit in it, too. Don’t judge him.

Sweet lord. I’m glad I at least entertain myself.

Quick Bathroom Makeover

No, not for me. I know better than to undertake multiple construction projects at the same time. Let’s just finish up one room before we move on to another, yes? Yes. But I do have my eye on the powder room, and hopefully we aren’t too burnt out on home remodeling after the downstairs is complete that we’ll have the energy to tackle the small, 5′ x 5′ room. I think that’s actually being generous. It might even be 4′ x 4′. It’s tiny, and only has a (too low, out-of-the-box-from-Home-Depot) vanity, and a toilet. It’s sort of “my” bathroom, as it’s where I get ready in the morning, dry my hair, do my makeup, and generally make a mess.

I want to lay new tile flooring (with white grout. For some reason the builder was a huge fan of dark gray grout, gross), paint the walls a (surprise!) bright white, and install (double surprise!) a floating white vanity from IKEA. It shouldn’t be a labor intensive project (says the girl who doesn’t lift a finger to help), and it also shouldn’t cost too much. Boyfriend estimates it can be done over a weekend, but I don’t know if it’s going to be a weekend in this calendar year. I might be asking too much.

The most fun part about remodeling is redecorating afterwards. So here’s the theme I’m going with once the bathroom is complete. Everything adds up to about $180, which isn’t bad at all. It’s probably equal to the cost of the paint and the flooring, but who cares when everything looks so cute?

1. Towel / 2. Soap dish / 3. Hook / 4. Candle / 5. Trashcan / 6. Soap / 7. Toothpaste / 8. Tumbler / 9. Toothbrush

I’m basically looking for any excuse to buy that Swedish Sea Salt Soap and yet another Capri Blue Volcano candle. I’m in love with that soap dish, trash can, Octopus hook, and glass tumbler. So pretty much all of it. I don’t brush my teeth in the powder room, but who can resist the pretty packaging on Marvis toothpaste? I might start.

A Hidden Bookstore

I’m not sure where I first heard about Brazenhead Books, the secret bookstore in Manhattan, but I was reminded of it yesterday and decided I had to share. Michael Seidenberg moved his bookstore, Brazenhead Books, into his apartment after the rent on his space in Brooklyn quadrupled. It’s inspiring to hear someone talking about doing what they love solely for the sake of doing it. Michael says, “If it were all about money, there’s just better things to sell. I could just sell crack. That’s a much better business.”

One day I’m going to look him up in the phone book and visit. Imagine the stories this guy has. I can’t think of anything better to surround yourself with than stacks and stacks of books, secondhand or new. It must be a joy (albeit a bit constricting) to wake up and wind through rows of your favorite books. My dad had a huge collection of books, paperbacks, art books, anthologies, everything. They were stacked 4 deep in his apartment. I think that’s what I love most about this story of the hidden bookstore: it’s something my dad would have done in a heartbeat, and the whole romantic aesthetic of towering stacks of books is so reminiscent of his apartment and of him. Really, who doesn’t love books? As someone that averages buying a new book a week, I’m raising my hand on this one.

And now, obligatory pictures of dreamy, cramped bookstores.

Little Goodies

I was Little Miss Susie Homemaker this weekend: I mended a ripped sweater sleeve, gave a windowsill a nice coat of bright white paint, did tons of laundry, and took out all the trash. I’ve lamented before that our house gets so little natural light, and the only place to take great pictures is right in the window. The windowsill was looking a little, um, gross, and hadn’t been properly painted when the builders were finishing up the place, and thus was a sad shade of off-white and a ton of dirt had settled into it. I grabbed a paintbrush and the leftover can of Behr off-the-shelf white we’d used downstairs on the mouldings in the guest room and went to town on Saturday morning. It’s seriously amazing what a coat of paint will do.

Once I had my clean white backdrop freshly painted and dried, I couldn’t resist taking some photos of my newest little goodies. I’m on the mailing list, and a few weeks ago I got an email with an offer for 100 free mini moo-cards, all I had to do was pay $5 in shipping. Sold! I’d been itching to get business cards for this ole blog, but wanted to wait until I settled on a header image I didn’t secretly hate and wasn’t going to change within a few weeks. Everything fell into place when I got the email and I decided to go for it. I ordered them last Saturday and they arrived on Friday. I am in love.

Yeah, I photoshopped out my last name and cell phone number. Not trying to attract any crazies. Aren’t the cards just adorable, though? They are made from heavy matte card-stock but are still slick and smooth. They’re tiny, not full-size business cards, and I’m pretty sure you need glasses to read the back, but come on. If any of you want to make your own let me know and I’ll forward you the email offer.

Boyfriend was home for a total of 36 hours this weekend before hopping on a crack of dawn flight to the west coast Sunday morning. We scored a last minute reservation to a new restaurant in town, Vernick, on Friday night and got to sit at the Chef’s Table, looking into the kitchen. I had the best cocktail I’ve ever tasted (muddled pear, vanilla bean, Champagne, and Brandy) and we stuffed ourselves on the most delicious food we’ve had in a while (homemade mozzarella and mango, grilled shrimp and avocado, parmesan custard, miso halibut with clams). The bonus of sitting at the Chef’s Table is that the kitchen prepares dishes for you, compliments of the chef. It was super romantic and made the weekend feel a little less bittersweet.

Boyfriend also brought me home a little something.

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Friday Five

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t watched, but the Project Runway season finale last night was FLAWLESS. This was my favorite season so far, it was the most entertaining and had the best designers in my opinion, and I was very happy with the way it all turned out. In fact, the finale was the highlight of my week in television. Lauren, catch up and then we can gab about it.

This week’s Friday Five is a bit of a smörgasbord without a cohesive theme. I only used the word smörgasboard to pop some umlauts into your day. You’re welcome.

 1. Poster / 2. Duvet set / 3. Book / 4. Socks / 5. Bath Salts

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Like a Picture

After a 3 month hiatus (ahem), “blanket & a candle” is back! I’ve been dying to do a Like a Picture post on this stunning photograph ever since I pinned it a few months ago. I was worried (and still am) that I wouldn’t be able to do the vivid, gorgeous colors justice in just a simple blanket and a candle. The full-size of this photograph of mountains in the Eastern Congo by artist Richard Mosse is worth checking out, as so much gets lost when you shrink it down. Sure, it’s a treatment done during post-processing (unless there really are hot pink trees somewhere in the world outside of The Lorax), but I don’t really mind.

1. Blanket / 2. Candle / 3. Photograph

I’m back to my old ways and exclusively using Lands Downunder blankets for this series. I’m not even sorry. They are the softest blankets in the world and come in a plethora of colors, all suitable and ready to match to any given photograph. I did just buy two new throw blankets from West Elm recently (they were on sale AND I had a coupon, obviously), but I love the pop of pink and couldn’t find an equivalent from them. I love the way the hobnail on the glass of the candle almost looks like little mountain ridges. Or maybe that’s just my weird brain.

Art Heist

photos via Peter Dejong for The New York Times

Here’s a little (likely unsurprising) tidbit about me: I love a good art heist. One of my favorite films of all time is The Thomas Crown Affair (the Pierce Brosnan one, also has a phenomenal soundtrack), in which a priceless Monet goes missing. Obviously, I love Oceans 12, the best and most underrated movie in the series, which has some of the most magically conceived art heists of all time (I point your attention to this scene. The Nightfox!). There’s also The Score, with Robert DeNiro and Ed Norton, which focuses on a Montreal museum heist of a French artifact. I just finished reading Steve Martin’s “An Object of Beauty” which winds through the New York art world from the early 90s to present day, and gets into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist of 1990. Art heists are fascinating to me, not because I want to undertake one of my own one day (I lack the stealth required to pull off even a surprise birthday party, let alone robbery), but because art is something that is supposed to be shown off, shared, admired, discussed, displayed, enjoyed. And if you go to all the trouble to steal it, you can’t do anything with it. You can’t sell it, you can’t hang it up in your dining room, you can’t even tell anyone you have it. I wouldn’t even be able to enjoy it without overwhelming guilt.

So when I read yesterday that the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam had been the victim of an art heist this week, my mind started spinning. Seven works were taken, including 2 Monet’s, a Gauguin, and a Picasso among others. How did this happen? How does it keep happening? Just two years ago there was a heist at the Paris Musee d’Art Moderne, when a Picasso and  Monet valued at $130 million were taken and have yet to be recovered. Christ, the Mona Lisa was even stolen from the Louvre in 1911 and was missing for 2 years. Here’s a staggering list of famous art heists in the last century.

What do you do with stolen art? Where does it go? I understand the allure (maybe not of Picasso, but I’m not going to get into it other than to say I was 3 years old when, at an exhibit in Washington D.C., I loudly announced “THIS IS DRECK” and stormed out) but I can’t wrap my head around the actual act of stealing something so well-known. Movies like The Thomas Crown Affair, Ocean’s 12, and The Score make it all seem so slick and fabulous, but the reality is much more sinister and grim. At least to me. What do you think? Fascinating or boring?

Inspiration Boards

1. / 2. / 3. / 4. / 5. / 6.

Today let’s talk about inspiration boards. Real life ones, not ones that exist on Pinterest (though I do love Pinterest for the ease with which I can now amass all my favorite houses and funny pictures of dogs. It would be nearly impossible to have as wide selection to choose from as the internet presents available off-line without buying a lot of magazines). I mean ones that you tack everything to, tear-sheets from fashion magazines, dried flowers, cocktail napkins with scribbled thoughts on them, postcards, Polaroids, sketches, mementos. Do you have one of these in your home? What do you pin to it? Does it help? While I love the images above, I would probably find them too visually overwhelming to live with every day. But now that I’m writing a book (I should probably stop announcing that I’m writing a book until I have actually written the book because in the likelihood that I don’t complete it I’m going to look like a giant doofus) I’m finding that it might be helpful to have a little board next to my computer that capture the images swirling around in my head. The metro map of Paris, a beach in La Ciotat, this pin in particular to remind me to stay on track, etc. What do you think?

And thank you for all the great apple recipes you guys doled out on Friday! We ended up restraining ourselves, and it helped that the pickin’s were slim. We did buy a pumpkin, out of which Boyfriend made pumpkin bread. Like, not from canned pumpkin, and it was delicious. His domesticity puts me to shame. How was your weekend?

Books in Paris

My need for books is insatiable, and books on/in Paris escalate it wildly. In conversation with Rooth in the comments of yesterday’s post, I recommended two books by John Baxter on Paris and it occurred to me that my Inner Francophile (different than my Inner French Girl, but I’m beginning to suspect I have multiple personality disorder or something) has persuaded me to read a bunch of really wonderful books set in Paris, so I decided to do a round-up of my favorites. You don’t know how hard it was not to include Madeline or Babar in this list.

There’s no better way to start than with the classic account of Paris in the 1920s than with Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” Just be sure not to buy a ‘restored’ edition, because the grandson of Hemingway’s second wife all but rewrote the book to display his grandmother in a more flattering light. From a NYTimes piece on the edition, “The grandson has removed several sections of the book’s final chapter and replaced them with other writing of Hemingway’s that the grandson feels paints his grandma in a more sympathetic light. Ten other chapters that roused the grandson’s displeasure have been relegated to an appendix, thereby, according to the grandson, creating “a truer representation of the book my grandfather intended to publish.” Shady, shady business, so do yourself a favor and get an un-edited version.

I picked up my first Baxter, “The Most Beautiful Walk in the World”, as I made my way home from seeing Midnight in Paris by myself last year. I was eager to stoke the magical, wonderful feeling the movie left me with and the book just happened to be sitting on a table on the first floor of Barnes and Noble. What’s French for fate? The back cover spoke of Paris in the 1920s, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, falling in love with a Parisienne, a history of art. I was sold. I quickly moved on to another one of his books, “We’ll Always Have Paris,” and fell just as in love all over again.

Then there’s Peter Mayle, who I’m ashamed I only started reading recently when Boyfriend bought me “French Lessons” for Christmas. Like Baxter, his writing feels like he is talking directly to you as a dear old friend. Both writers are hilarious and witty and self-effacing. But if you’re looking for something less cheerful, pick anything from the bottom row. We have heartbreaking tales of Paris during the German occupation with Irene Nemirovsky’s “Suite Française,” (I’ve recommded this book to almost everyone I know) and emotional fictionalizations of Hadley and Ernest Hemingway’s courtship and marriage in “The Paris Wife.”

Of course, you could always curl up on your sofa and do a double feature of Amélie and Midnight in Paris, too. Which I fully plan on doing (for the second time this week, ahem. I call it “book research”) this weekend. I’m also excited to announce that in addition for French classes this winter, I’ve also signed up for a 1 day, 6-hour immersion course at the same school because I’m crazy to get my feet wet. I didn’t do as poorly as I assumed on the placement exam, and have been put into a Basic level class, one step above Beginner, but below Intermediate. Pas mal!

Tomorrow I’m going apple and pumpkin picking! Any good fall recipes you guys can share? We always end up with 6lbs of apples.

Plus Paris, Naturellement

prints via

How amazing are these prints by The Love Shop? I need both, though I much prefer the type treatment on the one on the right, because they are my life’s mottos. I’ve been listening to the Amelie soundtrack non-stop for days now (can we just talk about how amazing it is? because it is) and so I had to watch the movie again for the millionth time. One day I will live in Paris, and my life will be scored with wonderful accordian music.

By now I should have a category simply titled “Paris,” to easily sort all the talking I do about the most beautiful city in the world. Seriously, I don’t have it set up already? Sacre bleu! Je suis ashamed. Speaking of speaking French (I’m writing this post after 2 cups of tea —Mariage Frères Vanilles des Iles, fyi– so if this seems all over the place it’s because I’M all over the place from caffeine. CAFFEINE! This is what happens when you never drink caffeine and then go crazy believing drinking tea will make you feel like you’re in Paris) I have some exciting news! I signed up for French classes! Sort of! They don’t start until December, but I went ahead and took the placement exam to see what level I’d place into. They prompt you before you begin to select your level of comfort with the language, and I got way too cocky and clicked too many boxes (“I can say this, and this, and this, and of course, I can explain that.” FALSE, I cannot.) and the exam it generated might as well have been an advanced Calculus theorem or something. I ended up writing an essay on my childhood and struggled hard (J’etais blonde, mais pas maintenant!). I’m pretty sure I’ll be put into a beginners class despite having taken 5.5 years of it between middle and high school, another year in college, and (what I thought to be) constant immersion in Parisian culture and movies and music and food. But c’est la vie. The course spans 10 weeks, for 2 hours every Wednesday night, and comes out to under $300 for the whole thing. I should have majored in French in college, what was I thinking? Is it too late to go back and get a second Bachelor’s degree?

Or maybe I could just take lessons from this adorable little girl. Have you seen this video yet? It’s the cutest thing in the entire world. And at 3 years old she speaks phenomenally better French than I do. You’re welcome in advance for how much better your day is going to get after you watch this.