Monday, January 30, 2012

Fairfax Finds

A few weeks ago, my sweet friend Caitlyn was visiting the Bay Area. She usually stays with her wonderful brother and his wife and their adorable kids in Marin. It's become a little tradition that I head up North to spend the day with all of them and I can't imagine a more loving environment. After years of doing this, I've come to really treasure those visits with Caitlyn and her darling family.

Speaking of treasures, this past time, Caitlyn and I went in search of a flea market in Fairfax and found Beach House. It's more of a shop with a giant yard sale out front and in little huts around the property. Not so much a flea, but full of great finds.

This pitcher reminded me of the kinds of vases Holly Flora uses in their arrangements.

Cozy sweater.

Actually, when I saw this label I freaked out because I thought it said: "Cozy Dream Sweater." I couldn't get over it, but then I realized it said cream. I still read it as dream.

I like the Matisse-esque painting and the cowboy boots. Lots of peace signs filled this place.

Sometimes when browsing, it's less about the actual objects and more about the vignettes they create. As the browser, however, it's your job to pick out the object to create your own vignette. It's up to you to make your vision come true.

Something about this bed reminded me of a one hundred year old bedroom in a Tuscan Villa. I would have loved to tie it to the top of my car, but I have a bed. And that would have been impulsive to the max.

Returning home, I played with all of my new finds. I put flowers in the vase.

I imagined putting sugar in the jar, but since I don't really use sugar except for baking I'll have to come up with a use for this little guy. Any ideas? I already have a honey jar. I'm still trying to figure this one out...

Oh! My favorites: the Mexican bowls. Seriously, I love all the detail inside and around the edges.

Perfect for steamy brown rice or roasted root vegetables.

Well, for all you readers out there you know about my search for a new tea kettle, this saucepan has been my temporary fix. It reminds me of camping (le creuset style) and Anne of Green Gables. It's made my hunt for a kettle a little less urgent (although, between you and me, this one drips when I pour too, ha!). Oh, well. It's just SO cute. I couldn't resist.

What about you? Any recent finds at the flea? In the yard? Side of the street?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nice to See

There isn't a story

that goes with these things

I'm simply adoring

the joy that they bring

to me!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Truly, I have work to thank for my trip to New Orleans. In January of this year and last, I attended a very exciting and interesting booksellers conference. Last year it was in D.C., where winter chilled my long walks along the National Mall. This year, the Institute found its home in New Orleans, one of the friendliest, most beautiful cities I've ever visited. Before this trip, I'd never been, but long desired to go for the parties, the music, and the food. Of course, now, I can imagine a visit to New Orleans has more meaning than it once did.

The recent devastation from Hurricane Katrina is an unavoidable reality. As my airplane made its final descent above the Gulf and then over the Mississippi River, the hairs on my neck stood straight up as I thought of the tragedy. How could something so horrific happen? How can one city see so much death, displacement, horror and unfairness? My time in the city was short (given that I was mostly in a hotel working), but I couldn't get these questions out of my head.

Any chance I got to explore the city, I took. The questions kept coming: how could New Orleans endure such a disaster, how did they/can they recover and will it ever be the same? Perhaps it can be better? Well, I don't have the answers and I'd say the term 'recovery' stands on a very long, complicated spectrum when it comes to Katrina. I wandered the streets, feeling conflicted about my role as a tourist knowing what once happened under this sky.

I made my way to Jackson Square and sat quietly on a park bench, watching the busy streets take flight. Magicians did tricks, drunken party-goers sipped drinks, and horse-drawn carriages trotted down lanes. Then, I heard it. Music. Horns. Jazz. I heard the music and felt it on my skin the way I felt the hot muggy air surrounding me, very uncharacteristic weather for January.

My thoughts shifted. Questions of why and when turned into questions of how. Does music have the power to heal? I suddenly felt the power of this city, with its history and its culture. I felt a power, but I wasn't sure what to make of it and what it meant. I'm out of my element, but I'm loving this city and feeling loved by it.

I stood up and continued wandering the streets of the French Quarter. This city has come a long way, and I know that there's still a long road. Possibly an endless one. However, I can't help but think some balance can be found between the melodies and the dissonance I heard in that square, coming out of that lone saxophone.

There was lots to love in NOLA. Besides the music, the food and street partying, I was really taken by the architecture.

It felt like another era and most definitely another world.

I saw a lot of homes like this one and I thought the same thing each time: how can I get up on that balcony and enjoy a mint julep with the locals? On a hot summer day (which it wasn't, though the mugginess and sunshine was reminiscent of one) I couldn't imagine doing anything more appropriate.

Once you've wandered long enough, you start to get the feeling: I've been here before. Maybe it's because the architecture is so distinct and consistent, or maybe it's because the structures (like the essence of the city) are sultry and intoxicating.

Speaking of sultry, I lost all sense and literally floated into Bourbon French Parfume, a 164 year old perfumery. With all of its alluring smells, I got caught up inhaling their signature scents: La Vie Nouvelle, La Pluie and Mon Amour. You forget where you are and how you came to this place.

This was one of the many incredible works of art at Armstrong Park. Since I had such a short amount of time in the city, I felt my visit needed some guidance. Before I went, I remembered how one week GOOP (yes, Gwyneth's blog) did a piece on New Orleans. In fact, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe was the guest editor on the post. Little did I know that he would be my guru, leading me through my journey. Well, he was, in a major way. I followed his guidance as if he was a good friend and, honestly, by the end of the trip, he felt like one.

Despite the grid-like design to the French Quarter, it's easy to get lost. I wasn't lost though, because I had Michael Stipe to follow. He told me where to get a good bowl of Gumbo, at Coops:

A good dose of health food, at Satsuma:

Some great coffee and sweets, at Croissant d'Or:

Ah, sweets...

This was the only time it snowed while I was in New Orleans. Each bite and it was a winter wonderland. I loved it!

Other wise, it was HOT HOT HOT!

While for some people, it's about the drinking...

...for me it was about the sunshine in winter. That, and the music...

The music. Hearing it as I walked along every street, around every corner, and even in my hotel room as I went to sleep (they give you ear plugs upon check-in). I felt soothed and enlivened at the same time. I felt part of this gorgeous city.

One last and final perfect moment: my last night in the city, I went to Buffa's for dinner (another Stipe recommendation). As I sat there enjoying Chuck's award-winning Bratwurst Jambalaya and Boudin Balls, someone put R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It" on the jukebox. It was perfection.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yes, No, Yes, NOLA

Hello again! I've been on a business trip in New Orleans for the past few days, hence the lack of posts. It was my first time in the city, first time in Louisiana, first time in the Deep South! It was so amazing!!! I'm too tired to post now (4 a.m. wake-up calls are no joke). Check in soon, though, to see all the things I found in what was one of the liveliest, craziest, most bumpin' cities I've ever set eyes and ears on!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Toe Dip and the Real Hip

You know what I don't have? An iPhone. I don't even have a smart phone. I have, what one day people will scratch their heads trying to remember the word for, a flip-phone. It's supremely inconvenient to have a "dumb" phone, but it's a way for me to remain unplugged a little longer before I completely give-in.

Aside from feeling anachronistically uncool, there is one thing about not having an iPhone that bums me out. I don't have the cool camera! Who would have known that a camera phone could be so awesome and serve so many purposes? Basically, I love, love, love (and covet) Hipstamatic. Luckily, I can benefit from the app once in a while because my friends, unlike me, are members of the planet Earth.

This past week one of my favorite humans on this planet Earth, Rachel, was visiting. She wanted to do all of my favorite things with me, wanted to come to exercise class with me, wanted to eat all the yummy SF food AND she took amazing photos with her "hip" app. I barely had to take any pics of my own because I knew hers would be the coolest. She captured the dreamy flowiness (made-up word, I know) of the weekend. The pics appear vintage, worn and ripe with discovery. I cherish them all.

Seashells from the seashore.

Coffee from Trouble.

Succulents in the greenhouse.

Sarah and me, calmly caffeinated (oxymoron, but nonetheless...).

It was so nice to have Rach in town. Not only does she make me belly laugh, but she really grounds me. She lives far away, but it's a long distance relationship that has no distance at all. Having her visit was an absolute treat and I feel so lucky that she ventured out to the West. During her time here I felt so calm, nourished and relaxed. All the feelings I had are completely sustainable, given that I still feel it all. Notice I've switched from hipstamatic to my own camera? I had to squeeze a few of these in.

Dipping our toes in the Pacific at Ocean Beach.

Another INSANE lunch at Outerlands.

The gorgeously curated General Store.

"Sunshine, daydream" is what I like to call this pic. By the way, thanks Sarah and Rach, for convincing me to buy the clogs! When I wear them, it feels like I've slipped love onto my feet. And they'll forever remind me of our toe dip in the Pacific!

Love you, Rach! Miss you already, xoxo

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Searching for Tea

I'm in the market for a new tea kettle. My current one spills all over the place when I pour water to make coffee. Luckily, my lovely friend Rachel gave me this article for guidance. Do you, readers, have a favorite kettle that you use? I'd love the suggestions.

Thanks, Rach, for finding the article and for taking this gorgeous photo! xoxo

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Little Bit

Every once in a while I get a little bit excited about fashion. It's definitely not a passion of mine, but it's so lovely to feel stylish. To appreciate the beauty of something that is worn, not just seen from a far or heard in the air, like music. To revel in the hem of a dress, or the seam of a stocking. To get dressed up.

Something beautiful worn on the body is like wearing a divine piece of art. When I'm feeling dreamy about fashion and imaging myself adorning a fantastic street look, I venture over to French Vogue where fashion flows endlessly. I came across these Nina Ricci looks and just about swooned. Feel free to swoon as well, possibly while listening to this song?

Oh, to indulge! I would LOVE to hear which looks are your favorites. Please feel free to share with me. I'll tell you now, the 3rd look might be my current fave, but it changes by the minute. Thoughts???