Where’s Waldo

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And so begins another hiatus from America for my darling Jamal. He left yesterday for Toronto for a meeting today, and will be flying from Toronto to India on Friday. India, AGAIN. This is his fourth trip since we’ve been together (fifth? I’m losing count) and something like his tenth overall. He’ll be gone for two weeks, but there is totally an upside to the otherwise shitastic reality of being sans-fiancé for 14 days: he’s is stopping in Paris on the way home. Wait wait wait, some backstory.

Here’s the thing about India: it’s really far away. You either have to stop somewhere in Europe on a layover from Bangalore, or fly from Bangalore to Mumbai and do the 16 hour direct flight (nope). His flights home usually have him hanging out in Heathrow airport for a few hours (I’ve reaped those benefits before) but this time he thought, instead of London why not Paris, and instead of a few hours, why not two days?

I know what you’re thinking, that I died of jealousy and threw an enormous, envious fit. And you’d be somewhat correct, but here’s the thing about Paris: I love it. And I love that Jamal loves it, enough it decide to cut his India trip short by two days and give himself a mini-vacation. Am I jealous? OF COURSE…but mostly that he gets the flight for free. I’m genuinely really happy for him that he gets to go back (that he wants to go back!). He’s staying in an apartment in Montmartre and had been talking about going back to “our” cheese shop on Rue des Abbesses, and “our” restaurant on Rue Tholozé. How exciting for him!

Oh, and if he happens to bring home tons of presents, I guess that’s exciting for me, too. Ahem.

So here we go, kiddos. Who’s ready to keep me entertained?

Wash and Fold and…Beer?

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photographs by Arne Jennard, via Knstrct

I made it a point to never live in an apartment that didn’t have a washer and dryer in the building when, but I might have been a little more lenient in my requirements had something like Wasbar, the Belgian laundromat and cafe, existed around here when I was still renting. Think about it: all those hours spent doing laundry, waiting for each load to finish and fighting for the good machines, could have passed much more enjoyably if you’d had a beer in your hand. Owners Dries Henau and Yuri Vandenbogaerde went to great lengths to make Wasbar not only new and different, but also inviting, instead of sterile and cold like most laundromats, by using up-cycled materials and hiding all the plumbing and piping in the basement. The result is a long row of sleek washing machines, all bearing women’s names (Mona, Jacqueline, Lisette) while the dryers have men’s (Jacob, Albert, Jules). Wasbar’s logo? A clothespin crossed with a bottle opener. What’s Flemish for “charming”?

Next time I’m in Belgium, I’m going.

Sun-Drenched in Catalonia

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Believe it or not, this isn’t Provence, as you might have guessed from all the French country touches of linen and wicker and peeling wood in this gorgeous house, but rather in the northeastern part of Spain. All that dreamy yellow sunlight pouring into every room and casting shadows across the stone floors is making me want to curl up like a cat and bask in a particularly bright spot (and you know I hate the sun). Beams in every room, plenty of wonderful outdoor space (do I spy a pool?!), and shabby chic details abound. Can you imagine having breakfast at that table out back, under that vintage pendant light, maybe wrapped in a scarf to fend off the early morning breeze? Heaven. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Step Away From the Phone

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via Flickr

Did you happen to catch this article, “Step Away From the Phone!”, in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times yesterday? Imagine my delight when I read that my recent second attempt to disconnect and spend less time on my phone/in front of technology is actually part of a larger movement. Turns out, I’m not the only person feeling overconnected and saddened by being tethered to a smartphone 24/7 (don’t even get me started on the idiots who waited in line for the new iPhone over the weekend. I have no words, just eyerolls). The people interviewed in the article, including Marc Jacobs himself, have all set a hard line when it comes to limiting technology at home. Throw your phone in an empty fishbowl, leave your iPads outside the bedroom, first one to check their email puts the kids to bed. Genius, right?

“Whenever Michael Carl, the fashion market director at Vanity Fair, goes out to dinner with friends, he plays something called the “phone stack” game: Everyone places their phones in the middle of the table; whoever looks at their device before the check arrives picks up the tab.” I suggested playing this with a few girlfriends earlier this year; one, (who shall remain nameless ;), insisted she couldn’t afford the entire bill, not realizing she wouldn’t have to pay more than her share if she just left her phone unchecked. While I love the idea of the phone stack game, how sad is it that we had to invent a game with incentives just to concentrate on your friends at the table? What have we devolved into?

My favorite line in the whole article was this: “Public cellphone use has reached an uncivilized fever pitch, so now it’s chicer behavior to exempt yourself from that. You’re not answerable 24/7, and that’s a powerful and luxurious statement.”

Powerful and luxurious. I love it. I have to think that with all the swirling excitement over the latest cell phone release date or those silly commercials with iPhone and Android users brawling over bragging rights, that eventually the smartphone craze will burn itself out and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a world without cell phones again.

A Found Van Gogh

What’s the opposite of an art heist?

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Herman Wouters for the New York Times

After being dismissed by art historians as a fake and spending sixty in an attic in Norway, “Sunset at Montmajour,” depicting a golden field in Arles, Provence, was declared an authentic van Gogh earlier this month by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The painting was part of the collection belonging to Vincent’s brother, Theo, until his death in 1901. Several years later, Theo’s widow sold the work to a Paris art dealer, who in turn sold it to a Norwegian collector. It was then that the painting was determined to be a fake. It stayed in an attic until the collector’s death in 1970, and was purchased by the current owners. (Are you keeping up?)

The current owners had previously tried to have “Sunset” re-authenticated by the museum in 1991, but to no avail. They tried again in 2011, and the museum has spent the last two years researching and examining the painting. Louis van Tilborgh, the museum’s senior researcher, said it was “painted on the same type of canvas with the same type of underpainting van Gogh used for at least one other painting of the same area.” The clincher: the canvas also has “180” painted on the back, “which corresponds to the number in [Theo van Gogh’s] collection inventory” from 1890.

The museum was further able to pinpoint the exact date van Gogh painted “Sunset at Montmajour” as July 4, 1888. In a letter dated the next day to his brother, he seems to describe the painting:

“Yesterday, at sunset, I was on a stony heath, where very small, twisted oaks grow, in the background a ruin on the hill, and wheat fields in the valley. It was romantic, it couldn’t be more so, à la Monticelli, the sun was pouring its very yellow rays over the bushes and the ground, absolutely a shower of gold. And all the lines were beautiful; the whole scene had charming nobility.”

Vincent, to his brother, Theo

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It’s obviously rare to have a painting from van Gogh’s mature period surface after so many years in obscurity, and dealers and art historians alike are venturing the painting, which is similar in size to his famous “Sunflowers,” could fetch “tens of millions” at auction. It’s unclear if the owners will sell it.

“Sunset at Montmajour” will be on display at the Van Gogh Museum for one year starting next Tuesday, September 24th.

What a Deal

Every once in a while I impress even myself with my shopping skills. Behold my latest scores:

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Bag / Boots

This would be my second pair of those boots; I wore the first pair for three seasons until the soles were flapping off and the heel was ground down to oblivion. At $150, I made sure I got my money’s worth. I needed a new pair for the upcoming fall (FALL. IT’S ALMOST FALL!) but was hoping they would go on sale. My prayers were answered when a friend at work passed along a 20% off + free shipping coupon, bringing the cost down from $149.95 to $119. But it doesn’t end there, because I used Ebates and got an extra $6 back. Price: $113. Savings: $37.

Having carried a Longchamp Le Pliage tote that my mom bought me for a few months now, I finally understood what all the fuss was about. They’re lightweight, can hold a ton, and go with everything. Mine is brown, and I’d been eyeing one in black. The Les Planetes version is made with a slightly thicker nylon, and unlike the Pliage line, the handles are black. I wouldn’t say I needed another bag, but I did like it and I really wanted it, but was deterred at $160. Luckily, Bloomingdale’s was having a Loyalist sale last week, meaning I got $25 off + free shipping. Yadda yadda yadda, I used Ebates, got an extra $8 back, and the previously $160 bag clocked in at $127. Savings: $33. I win.

Also, and I mean it, I’m done shopping for a while. These two purchases were the only things on my fall (NO BUT SERIOUSLY, IT’S ALMOST FALL) wishlist along with this trench coat, so I’m set!

An Estate in Majorca

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This is a departure from my usual tastes (especially because I can feel the pulverizing heat of the sun just from looking at these photos), but this home in Majorca, Spain is gorgeous. It’s for sale for $5.5 million, a veritable steal given the TEN bedrooms and eight bathrooms. You could use a different bathroom every day of the week without repeating! Six of the bedrooms are in the main house, with the remaining four located in the guest house, which also has its own pool. The house has views of the Tramuntana mountains and the Puerto Andtrax harbor. I love all the beams and I bet the interior stone floor is cool underfoot. Who wants to come with me?

Fashion Week Favorites

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I’m not one of those people who religiously follows “the shows” every season; mostly my wardrobe consists of black, gray, and navy basics with the occasional scarf, if I’m feeling wild. So it’s no surprise my favorites from the Spring 2014 Fashion Week in New York are mostly within my wheelhouse. Michael Kors’s collection was so spectacular this year: some masculine suiting pieces, tailored pants, lots of tie-neck tops. The looks all seem as though they stepped out of a 1940s London library. I’m in love. I’m anxiously awaiting that “Oui, mon cheri” top from J. Crew to make its way into stores, but the real heart-stealer for me this year absolutely had to be Tocca. I would wear any of the pieces in Emma Fletcher’s collection in a millisecond; that all-black suit number is perfection.

Have a good weekend, kiddos! What are you up to? I’m hopefully painting the living room tomorrow, but I’ve been saying that for months.

The World According to Karl

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Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel, sunglass-wearer, and all around fabulous enigma, has a lot to say about a lot of things. On sweatpants: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.” On Andy Warhol: “I shouldn’t say this, but physically he was quite repulsive.” These bite sized snippets of wisdom are known affectionately as “Karlisms,” and there’s a whole page of them on his website. The above are just a few of my (kinder) favorites.

Because we all need some sassy advice from someone infinitely chicer and judgy-er than us: there’s a book coming out this month of Karl’s greatest hits, appropriately titled, “The World According to Karl.” While he wasn’t involved in the book, he apparently approves.

In case you can’t wait for the release date, might I point you in the direction of this achingly funny faux-Karl blog: Karl Lagerfeld’s Guide to Life, written in a convincingly accurate tone:

I like to spend mornings in bed with a dictionary, of which I cut out all the ugly words with a small golden guillotine I have named Jean Rameu (pronounced John, of course). John Rameu and I do enjoy cutting out such words as “moist” and “spit” and “phlegm” and so on- I think of it as a kind of act of beauty for the world. If one eradicates ugly words, how can one express ugliness?…When I am done I will release the dictionary into the wild and perhaps the tongues of everybody will turn silver. It’s linguistic eugenics, really.

(While I love the Karl Lagerfeld character, I will never support or buy Chanel, since Coco herself was a Nazi sympathizer and documented anti-semite)