Wednesday, March 31, 2010


It's the small things, really.

I'm not really into collecting things, but when I landed at the Salvation Army's bric-a-brac sale last Friday I saw in myself the kind of hoarder they make reality TV shows about. My purpose there was simple: to drop off a load of stuff I didn't need anymore, as part of an apartment cleanse. Holey shirts, flattened slippers, a diner-style napkin holder that belonged, well, in a diner. Too much accumulates too fast and it's only up to ourselves to keep the situation in check. I knew it would feel amazing to leave that old Whole Foods paper bag full of unneeded goods at the counter. I didn't know it would feel so good that I couldn't leave.

Sarah was with me, did I mention that? First we looked at desks. Then bookshelves. I played a couple out-of-tune notes on a piano. And slowly we made our way over to the baker's racks, full of kitchen-y things. Suddenly I needed a Provencal (-style) pitcher that said 'juice' on it. I need that votive handle holder too. Sarah needed a canister to hold wooden spoons, spatulas and tongs. There it was -- in butter yellow. We did well at the bric-a-brac sale!

I knew I had to stop, however, when I dreamed to covet the small set of wine glasses. I saw in them Cognac. I saw in them clinking together in celebration. I saw in them heirlooms to pass down from one generation to the next. I saw in them going to the clutter cabinet. OK, time to move on! I was happy enough with my 2 bric-a-brac finds.

For one second, as I forked up my $2 at the register, I thought: great. I'm here to remove items from my apartment, not replace them with more. But then, I got over that real quick. My pitcher is now a vase for a beautiful bunch of Ranunculus: a vignette that brightens my day. My votive holder is the perfect fit for the little candle that needed a home, now by my desk.

I said: it's the small things, really. Not in size, but in effort. Low-maintenance items that earn their meaning and value through the experience of unexpectedly finding them. One random day that is no longer random, in my eyes. These little gems spoke to me, were each half-off a dollar, and they have their place, purpose and prettiness. What else can you say that about? Maybe one day they'll find themselves back at the Salvation Army. But today they're taking up residence with me, in good company with my other things.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Yurt, Sweet Yurt

"There is no greatness where there is not simplicity"

-from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I really love Tolstoy's quote, but there is nothing simple about the epic text it comes from. This is just one of the many things I've realized ever since I started reading this 1,000+ page novel. It's most difficult keeping track of people and places, especially when we are dealing with at least four different languages and the characters go by many different names. This very quality of the text, however, is why I'm so interested in the experience of reading it. War and Peace keeps me on my toes and forces me to focus while I read. Wandering off with your own thoughts doesn't really work with this book. We all know the famous quote from the 1992 film A League of their Own? "There's no crying in baseball." I have a new one: There's no daydreaming in Tolstoy.

That being said, I had the most glorious time reading it the weekend before last. I was perched on the deck of a yurt, down in Santa Cruz with Jess. What's not to love here? Relaxation is an understatement when you're looking out onto the Pacific Ocean past pastoral rolling hills, calmed by the tender song of birds and the occasional rustle of wind through the trees.

War and Peace is gigantic, I've never read a book that big in my life! When I bought it, I strayed from making it my goal to follow through to its completion. I want to finish it, of course, but with books like these, I'm assuming chapter-to-chapter is the better approach. So, I simply vowed to reach page 100 before I abandoned the book entirely. Once I hit that 100 mark I would be dedicated, committed. And there in the quiet comfort of nature and with a reading buddy by my side, I made it to page 125. Yes! A dent!

I didn't let my reading-the-Russians mission dominate my getaway either. We had a genuinely cozy time hiking to waterfalls, sharing good food and taking in the sunshine. A day that begins with watching the sunrise is a good day indeed.




Upside down photos: sometimes the only angle to take, especially when your stock position is horizontal. Oh, Leo...thanks for writing a book that doesn't make me fall asleep!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bon Tempe + Cousins = A Great Time

I've been going on some really lovely hikes lately. The most recent trek was north of the city, to Lake Bon Tempe, just outside the town of Fairfax. My cousin invited me, well actually he e-vited me, on a group hike which is something he likes to organize when the weather is nice. The Bay Area has seen some gorgeous weather lately so I'm hoping he plans for more. It was such a treat sharing nature with a whole lot of city folk...and some out-of-towners too! How much fun would that be if while you were visiting some friends they brought you on a Sunday group hike...

To begin, I woke up early Sunday morning to read the paper, drink some coffee and fill up on granola before I headed on my hour long drive into Marin. I love the names of the roads that took me there: Bolinas and Sky Oaks Road. Such a pretty way to start an adventure.

Once everyone arrived, we set out on our relaxing 4.5 mile hike around the lake. The lake is on the northwest side of Mt. Tamalpais, offering a different view of the mountain than the one we get from the city. Crowds of gorgeous trees sway upon deep ripples of the lake's water, truly doubling the magnificent landscape this hike offers. We saw many birds, banana slugs and even a turtle.

With Mt. Tam before me, I sped ahead of the group with my cousin's dog, Wiley.

A regal turtle.

Hiking's been great and I'll post more about the others soon! I also wanted to share that I've been really embracing my yoga practice lately too. I always love my classes, but for the past couple of weeks I've been going to new classes and even tried out a new studio called 7th Heaven in Berkeley. All of these positive new experiences have reminded me that, while I hold tight to the comforts of my daily life, it is so important to take risks and to take many of them. Once taken, they fulfill the story of my life in a way I could never have comprehended, nor could have written.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Braiding Beauty

I know that side braids are all the rage right now since they appeared at fashion week last September, like in Alexander Wang's Spring 2010 collection.

But no one wears this hot-of-the-runway trend better than my beautiful friend Katy who came to visit last weekend.

She's been rocking that I'm-busy-running-through-the-fields-of-Prince-Edward-Island-because-my-name-is-Anne (Anne with an 'e')-of-Green-Gables look since we first became friends, years ago in Maine.

Katy, so stylish, love.

Runway images from

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'd like to propose a 'Toast'

Today, my wonderful co-worker Julia showed me the latest catalogue from Toast, a European design store based in the UK. I was immediately enamored by the pages within, drooling over beside table vignettes and kimono style robes. The dreamy style of the spreads drew me to their online store, where I found a few treasures custom made for a picnic. From afar, England is looking pretty cozy to me right now.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Keeping It Red

Wake up, it's a new day. I'm turning over a new leaf and transitioning from the academic calendar to the other kind, Gregorian I believe. Aside from its classic red hue, here are the reasons why I love my new Moleskine daily planner:

1. Each page represents one day which reinforces my goal to take it one day at a time.
2. Each day is divided into hours which reinforces my goal to live each day hour by hour.
3. Sundays are free of hourly divisions which reinforces my goal to let loose, be spontaneous and make no plans.

That's all for now. I've got places to go and things to do!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Live, For, This

Thank you, sister, for sending me the 'Eat, Pray, Love' trailer today. I am so excited for this movie to come out. Not only do I have a new found love for Julia Roberts (totally in her prime, by the way, thanks to Santa Fe turquoise and mountains, I'm sure), but I love when widely read books materialize into seemingly good movies. I classify the book, which hasn't moved from my bedside table since I read it over 2 years ago, into one of those monumental reading experiences that, as cliched as it may sound, changed my life. I embrace the story entirely, as it is as inspiring as it is entertaining and true-to-life as it is dreamy. Through soul-searching and risk-taking, one can find happiness. I can't think of a better mantra to live by or a better thought to share.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Garbage Poem

Found language on a 24th street bin. Very impressive line breaks, if I do say so myself.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Get Lit, Again!

This reading at City Lights should be fantastic!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Be-Cozy the Ides of March

Is March not the strangest month? Sure, April is cruel, the 'mean girl' of months, but March is strange. Sandwiched between the depths of winter and the height of Spring. Mud season, it's called. I'm trying to embrace this month by capturing those cozy moments when they happen, as to not let them fly by like the days often do. Here are some happenings that have happened as of late: some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue...

My sister gets engaged! Her beautiful emerald ring makes this strawberry bellini look even better than it tastes...which was goooooood.

Redwoods. They never get old...well. You know what I mean.

S.F. Sunday brunch at Outerlands. S.F. being Sarah Fontaine of course, as well as this lovely city. We both ordered 'eggs in jail.' Happily held captive at Outerlands any day!

I told my sister I was interested in lace and look what she sent me! Lace tape from Paper Mash. It's only the beginning...

An early and quiet beautiful morning on Abbot Kinney in Venice. Where is the blue, you say? Too buried for blogs, my friend. Clouds say storm but trees say summer. Sounds like March to me!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Way to Go, Bigelow!

Congratulations to the first woman EVER to win an Academy Award for best director. Kathryn Bigelow made history at last night's ceremony, a real big-elow-kinda-night if I may say so myself. Thrilled to see 'The Hurt Locker' sweep top honors, it was nice to see deserving cinema get some love. For a year where the movies didn't blow my mind, everything wrapped up nicely at the Oscars and now I'm back to my old tricks: documentaries and foreign films...with the occasional guilty pleasure here and there. Oh, and I'm definitely on a Meryl Streep kick! Want to watch 'em all...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Countdown to Oscar!!!

With the Academy Awards less than a week away, I thought I would dedicate this post to the revived Oscar tradition of ten best picture nominations rather than five. Do dedications always have to be a supportive act, however? Maybe so, but I must admit I am less than thrilled with 10 nods. It feels much more commercial, less special, and quite unnecessary--especially for a year in which the films were so sub-par. And even with 10 slots, those Academy voters still couldn't get it together to slide in some "Bright Star." Clearly, the 10 nods resulted in some missed opportunities.

Originally, I had planned for my Oscar Countdown blog feature to be a top ten list of my favorite films of 2009. In rebellion of the 10 best pic nominations decision (why, oh, why, Academy???), I will list my top ten favorite performances of the year. Yes, it's greedily doubling as a most adored film list, but when it comes to measuring a film's excellence, I consider the lives of the characters and how such tales are portrayed on screen to be of the utmost importance.

In no particular order (oh, well, I might have saved the best for last, who knows...), here is a list of my favorite cinematic performances of 2009.

10. Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria in The Young Victoria.

9. Valentino Garavani as himself in Valentino: The Last Emperor.

8. Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie & Julia.

7. Meryl Streep as Jane Adler in It's Complicated.

6. Grace Coddington as herself in The September Issue.

5. Jeremy Renner as SSG William James in The Hurt Locker.

4. Juliette Binoche as Adrienne Berthier in Summer Hours.

3. Gabourey Sidibe as Claireece 'Precious' Jones in Precious.

2. Christoph Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds.

1. Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne in Bright Star.