Monthly Archives: November 2012

"I Drank It, And I Was Gayer"

After much debate and many tears (on my part), David and I have decided that we’re going to spend Christmas in the UK this year.  Financially, it makes the most sense for us right now and even though I’m heartbroken at the idea of Christmas without my family, I’m confident that the two of us will have a marvelous and quiet celebration on our own.

Besides travel, another indulgence we’ve cut back on as we establish our company and scrape together as much savings as possible, is that of going out for cocktails.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I love a good cocktail.  It’s not just the craftsmanship of the drink that I love, it’s the way a good cocktail bar brings people together, the way a drink and moment of eye contact can spark a conversation, and how a little alcohol can greatly enhance an atmosphere.  Cocktail bars are my third place, if you know what I mean- somewhere to call home for an hour or two, a place to make new friends, share some laughter, and then dance away from, toward home.

Now that we’re not traveling for the holidays, I feel like we deserve a fabulous, cocktail-fueled night as some sort of consolation for sacrificing one of my favorite holiday traditions: family.  These pictures from a trip to Burger and Lobster make me mighty thirsty- a perfect Manhattan with orange bitters and a twist is certainly in my future. 

top: bloody mary
bottom left: Rittenhouse 100 on the rocks    bottom right: Rittenhouse Manhattan
Photos taken at Burger and Lobster on St. John Street in London
And just for fun, here’s something I’ve had saved to my desktop for an eternity.
I don’t know where I found it anymore, but I love it.

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, November 27
Yesterday, I had lots of feelings and felt as if my heart was a sponge that was soaking up all the melancholy in the world.  I put The Age of Adz and Helplessness Blues on repeat, buckled down, and got work done.  Work for money, work for me, and work that will lead to something more, I think. 
I’ve had a ferocious cold since Thanksgiving day and have been taking my time getting up in the mornings.  Or that’s my excuse, anyway. 
It’s been raining every day for the last, oh, I don’t know… two weeks?
The days are dark and dreary, but kind of romantic, too.
This is my striped hallway.  Did I ever show you a picture of how it turned out?
I’m working on a series of linocut prints.
It’s a great creative outlet for me.
For us.  David’s helping, too.
I need to buy more ink, so I’m using concentrated watercolors to get a feel for how things will turn out.  It doesn’t work very well, but sometimes the results are interesting.
Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables. 
They look like beautiful little veggie brains and I like that.
And when they’re roasted with garlic, shallots, and olive oil, they’re divine.
I could eat them like candy and yesterday, I did.
These tools aren’t ideal, but they suit me just fine since I’m still so new to the craft.
I’d like to invest in some Japanese Woodcarving tools in the future.
Here’s what my hallway looks like with the lights on.
Sometimes I wish I’d painted the stripes black, but usually I’m happy to have a bit of color in the flat.
Maybe the people who buy it from us will have kids who will love the stripes, or maybe they’ll decide to repaint everything white, which would be depressing.
David’s new business cards arrived yesterday.  They’re not centered properly and are being reprinted.
Next batch, we’re going to have them letterpressed by a local printer.
I’m excited for that!
Some watercolor printing from earlier.
My work day was over.  I started reading In Tuscany by Frances Mayes with photos by Bob Krist.
To be honest, I think I could take better pictures (and that’s not saying much), but I like reading Mayes words and getting lost in daydreams of Tuscan orchards and welcoming piazzas.
 I’d love to spend a year in that part of the world.  You’ll have to come visit when I do.
Late night nibbles.
Which turned into late night cuddles and business talk with the Redcoat and his holey sock.
And finally, we finished our wine, wrapped up our conversation, and went to bed. 
A dark and dreary Tuesday.
Thanks for reading.

Hands & Hearts, Things & Stuff

“I don’t know how to use my hands anymore”, she said quietly, looking down at her ten thin fingers lazily spread on the table before her.  “I use them when I talk and I use them to write, I can dress myself with these hands and I can show love with them, too, but other than that I don’t know what to do with them.  Sometimes I wake in the night and my body feels like it’s shrinking.  Like the growing pains of childhood, but instead of lengthening, things are shriveling and it’s even more painful.  This isn’t supposed to be happening yet, is it?” 

She paused briefly and tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear.  She absently traced the lines in the table with her index finger and continued.  “It’s like my body is telling me to work, to move, to push it harder.  I don’t mean it wants to spend time in the gym or on a yoga mat, no.  It wants action.  It wants to remember the feeling of running barefoot in the woods, wants to hold strong against the wind as my limbs cling to the rough branches of a tree.  My body wants bruises and scars, pain and strength.

“My hands quake sometimes.  They don’t want to cup computer mice and dance across keyboards, they want to build things and become calloused.  But they’re clumsy and don’t  know how to do these things and I mentally cannot imagine in what capacity I’d be able to step off the concrete and fall into grasses or where I’d find a wood in which to get lost.

“How does one learn to use one’s hands?  How does one begin a new kind of life?”   She looked up at me, inquiring, but I didn’t know, either.

‘Tis the season of want.  The season of stuff, of things; the season celebrating greed and luxury instead of kindness and joy.  My inbox has been flooded with sad attempts at trying to make wanting sentimental, as if the savings in your pocketbook and piles of gifts you’re able to purchase mean more than the minutes you’ll spend with your loved ones in conversation and laughter.

This Christmas, let’s forget the stuff and the things.  Let us remember instead the comfort of a strong embrace, the glow of a smile, and the way a chorus of laughter can heat a home better than any furnace.  Let us remember to make with our hands, give with our hearts, and accept each day with a smile.

Photos taken a week or so ago in Cheltenham.  Beautiful, no? 

DIY: whackjob


I caught my reflection in the window of a train on Friday and had to do a double take.  My hair was long and limp, hanging well below my shoulders in broken strands that made my face blur into that of any other tired woman commuting home on the 5:00 PM train.

It made me frantic, to see myself this way, and I walked quickly from the train station to my home,  my breath escaping in rushed puffs as I climbed the hill through town.  After pushing my keys through the lock and flinging off my jacket, I located my craft scissors and headed to the bathroom. In a moment of total clarity, I started cutting.

Holding a pair or scissors in my hand does not scare me and I stood before the mirror filling the sink with rough, dead hair, coarse like straw and dull as dirt.  I wanted my hair asymmetrical and full of imperfections because my life is asymmetrical and I am full of imperfections.  I needed it to be attractive, but true, and I wanted it to capture the variety of life that hangs heavy around our necks and makes each morning spark with the electricity of the unknown.

David helped me with the back, his face full of nervous concentration but his hands steady and sure.  In the end he agreed that we did a pretty good job and when I look in the mirror I’m happy because I don’t mistake myself for anyone else.

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
- The Great Gatsby

Tuesday With Vous

 When I started my Tuesday With Moi series, it was meant to be a weekly exercise in which I focused my eye on the beautiful world around me and focused my camera lens on a snippet of the spectacular once every hour, on the hour.  As many of you know, these posts have basically deteriorated into multiple pictures of Le Chat and some close-up pictures of my plant collection.  Blah.  To spice up my TWM offerings, I’m inviting some of my favorite people to contribute to the genre.  This way, we’ll all get to step out of our own lives for a day and experience the life of someone else. Fun!

Our first contributor is my dear friend and pen-pal, Natalie.  She’s a freelance set designer, cuisinartist, and DIY queen living in LA.  When we were neighbors in Beacon Hill, we shared many wonderful times, including one of the most extraordinary Thanksgivings of my life (seriously).  In those days I used to admire her from up close, now, I admire her from afar, and you should, too.  Take it away, lady!

(FYI: all italics from here one out are my own. Everything else is Natalie.)
 Tuesday, November 20
Natalie Groce Edition

I’m so honored that Kate asked me to do a guest post.  I admire her writing and dedication to her blog so much and I’m so glad to call her my friend. Here’s hoping my life is half as interesting as hers! Also: I have to give her credit – taking a photo every hour is REALLY HARD. Much harder than I thought it would be. So bravo Kate, I applaud you. 

First tea of the day, in my favorite mug. I’m obsessed with Oregon… mainly because I’m from Portland, but also because it is an amazing place.
Thanksgiving planning madness. So many lists, so little time.

I love the leaves against the brilliant blue sky.
One of the perks of living in Los Angeles I suppose.
 This guy kept me company in the conference room all day. There was also a boar’s head but it wasn’t as cute. Not that I find taxidermy adorable…
I do.  I want a stuffed zebra for my entryway one day.
But only if it died of natural causes… obviously. 
 Stepped out of my meeting to run home and grab some files. As I was leaving I couldn’t believe how nice and autumnal my front door looked.
And yes, the tile really is that color pink. 
The creative process in the commercial world sometimes looks like this.

 Pretty antler artwork at the office. I guess I’m really into animal related artwork right now.
There is a chalk wall in the office as well.

 And these awesome light fixtures. You can’t tell from this picture but the light bulbs are the really awesome vintage filament ones. Super cool!
(This should be said in a French accent, the way the French directors I’m working with say it.)

 The view from here – Photoshop and a notebook.

 I finally escaped from the office! The apples at Whole Foods were very enticing but I already bought enough for my delicious apple pie at the farmers market this past weekend. I love Thanksgiving!

My tiny indoor garden! It is thriving! I am so proud.

 The crazy old lady chandelier in our dining room. I have kind of grown to like it… except for the fact that it is a dust magnet… le sigh. 
 Our friend Alan was over editing another music video we worked on. He is at our apartment so much he actually has keys. Hooray for businesses run out of residences! 
Le sigh?
Vanilla ice cream ingredients! I was trying to get a head-start on Thanksgiving… at 10 pm…

 Cooling the custard over an ice bath. Photo credit to my lovely boyfriend. And yes, I’m aware my hand looks really strange.
A view of the top of my dresser, taken while picking out my outfit for today. The little bird is from Costa Rica, the heart is really heavy and my grandfather drew the Frankenstein for me a few years ago for valentines day. He is amazing.

An enormous THANK YOU (’tis the season) to Natalie but also to you, dear reader, for sharing her Tuesday with her! She’s really awesome.  Just like her grandfather & that Frankenstein card. 
You’ll likely see more of her here with TWV and maybe one day I’ll make her share a recipe or two…

Colored Light

When we were staying at Old Campden House last month, we stopped in the church next to the estate for a little look-around before leaving.  I generally find old churches to be far too cold and a bit of a bore, but on this particular morning, I was charmed by the way the light filtered through the stained glass windows and reflected on the opposite wall like an abstract painting.  Lovely, no?

Inspiredb By: Malcolm Liepke

Oh, man.  David and I had such a comfortable weekend with our friends in the Cotswolds.  Comfortable- that’s the best way to describe their home.  Comfortable like walking into your mother’s arms, comfortable like the laugh lines on a lover’s face, comfortable like a cup of coffee and your favorite book.  Together, we ate, drank, and made much merriment and I’ve come away from the weekend feeling well rested and inspired.

Not only was our weekend comfortable, it was also full of fantastic art.  Sculpture, block prints, and textiles were displayed alongside tribal masks, graphic screen prints and children’s art.  It was wonderful!  All the visual stimuli got me thinking about one of my favorite artists, Malcolm Liepke, and how I wanted to share some of his work with you.  I like the energy of these pieces, their sensuality, and the weight of his brush.  Also, he’s originally from Minneapolis and you all know how I feel about that

I’ve had this saved on my desktop for months now.  I want that collar.  So bad.  So so so bad.  I really love the colors in this piece and the luminous quality of the subject’s skin and the depth of her eyes.

Again, this boa.  Mine.  Make it mine.  Please.  
I love his use of texture here as well as the shine of her lips.  

Like my all-time favorite painter, Sargent, I find Liepke’s portraits to be illuminating and haunting, as if the subject is emanating light. I’m drawn into these portraits.  I want to write stories about them.
In fact, I think I will.

Liepke is represented by Albemarle Gallery in London.

Roadtrip Weekend

David and I are going away this weekend to visit his oldest friends.  The people we’ll be staying with have known him since he was a wee one and I’m looking forward to hearing childhood stories from their time together in Africa.  Old friends and family allow us to see a different side to the people we’re closest to and I’m happy to drink wine and learn more about the ancient life history of this man who I’ve fallen in love with.

Have a terrific weekend, dear reader.  xox

The Majesty of the Sea

I love the ocean best when it’s cold and the beaches are barren.  I like how my boots sink into the sand and the way the wind rips through my hair, making it a salty, knotty mess.  The crash of the waves seem louder, too, when they don’t have to compete with the noise of bathers, as do the eery calls of the gulls hovering above, riding the wind like surfers do the water.  Just as Maria runs to the hills when her heart is lonely, I escape to the ocean.  I want to feel small, know my problems are but a drop of water in the greatness of the sea.

Photos taken near Rye, UK in late October.  The model is my beautiful mother. 

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, November 13
Oh man, Rebecca.  I couldn’t put it down!  I’d stayed up until 2:00 the previous evening and, as soon as I awoke in the morning, I picked it right up and continued on.
She’s worse than a coke dealer, that Daphne Du Maurier! 
Though I knew I should put a bookmark in and get on with my day, I stayed in bed with my coffee and my book until almost 11:00.
At which point I went into my newly finished studio and started to get on with some work.
Prepare yourself for many snippets of my studio space.  I’m quite pleased with how the room has turned out and I’m overjoyed to finally have my own place to work.  My things are organized, my mind is clear, and my heart is happy!
Everything has a place again.
I cannot stop smiling! 
Though I have yet to find a place for this beautiful Jonathan Singer Sargent mirror…. I have a few ideas as to where I’ll put it.  
New shoes seem to be a theme lately.  These Minnetonka Moccasins were a lovely birthday gift from one of my oldest and dearest friends, Christa.  I pad around the flat in them every day.  Until the warmer months come once again, they shall be my house slippers.  Very Minnesotan of me, don’t you think?
Had a snack and realized how dark it was getting.
I miss the daylight so much this time of year.  
Another shelf scene from the studio.
I gave David the ‘together’ card around the time we got married in March.
It’s by Yellow Owl Workshop and I really love it.  I love all their work, actually. 
Throughout the day, I took little reading breaks and eventually finished Rebecca (naughty of me, I know).  Next on my list is this book, Paper: An Elegy by Ian Sansom
This is the beginning of my inspiration wall in the studio.
These are things I like.  I can’t wait to see how it grows.
Instead of a chair, I opted to use a fitness ball in the studio to help my posture.
So far, I’m quite pleased with the decision.
Finally, my favorite time of day: Wine Time!  
We’ve lately been enjoying this fairtrade, organic, blah blah blah Running Duck Shiraz.
It’s a great price, easy to drink, and is sulfite free which means, like italian table wine, it doesn’t get you drunk or leave you with a hang over.  We like that. 
Deal with it.
David got a haircut yesterday.  He looks so handsome with his hair short.
Finally, time for bed.  This is how Le Chat says goodnight.  
All in all, a productive and comfortable Tuesday around Cox Quarters.
As always, thanks for reading.