November 11, 2012

It feels great to buy USA-made: J.W. Hulme bag (even though it's enormous at 13x7x5")

J.W. Hulme small sea bag

November 9, 2012

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Lately I've been really interested in botanical prints. I think it started with seeing a picture of Lee Radziwill's Manhattan home. There's nothing prettier than hand drawn flowers, seeds, and fruit. Anyway, Chronicle, the same company that does Rifle Paper's notebooks, has a new trio of notebooks ($12). They look like an offshoot from a book called The Art of Instruction, a collection of vintage instructional illustrations, and I'm so in love.

P.S. If anybody is interested, this is my Pinterest board for this fall.

November 4, 2012

I've been told that my taste in perfume runs uncomplicated, sweet, relentlessly floral. So it's probably not too unexpected that my favorite scent is magnolia, specifically michelia alba (a k a white champaca or white sandalwood). It reminds me of being a kid. Old ladies from the countryside carried flat baskets of these long, thin flowers to sell in the city. Even years later, during summer visits to Shanghai, my mom and I always bought them in sets of two, bound with a little silver wire shaped to loop around a shirt button. At the end of the day, their perfect off-white petals would brown at the tips, and they'd take on the slightly sour smell of overripe fruit, like perfume that shed its top notes to degenerate into something more overtly sexual.

When my parents moved, my mom insisted on buying a michelia alba tree for the backyard. Their first attempt to cultivate one in a large container killed it, probably because of too much sun or too much water, so the second time around my mom wised up and put the new plant directly in the ground. For some shade, she also stuck right next to it an old garden umbrella whose cloth was a translucent, orange-hued tarp that kept the magnolia tree in perpetual half-sun. One night during the Santa Ana winds of 2011, the umbrella disappeared. Using its power as a giant sail, it had somehow escaped over the chin-high red brick wall on the other side of the yard. She called me in New York, laughing, telling me that now she didn't have to worry about uprooting the thing to put it out with the trash.

The tree is big now, as tall as me. It produces hundreds of flowers every year and had a banner week a while back during the heat wave.

My favorite fragrances:
Robert Piguet 'Fracas' (1948)
Tom Ford 'Champaca Absolute' (2008) -- irresistible, so special
Hermes un Jardin sur le Toit (2011) -- smells like a vegetable garden
Acqua di Parma 'Magnolia Nobile' (2009)

November 2, 2012

My room is a total mess eighty percent of the time, so the floor is a pretty good indicator of what I'm wearing these days. A little different from what I was wearing last January...

From top:
The North Face navy puffer vest & JCrew Nolita washed denim jacket
Steven Alan seaside slicker & Nau lightbeam windbreaker
Opening Ceremony black wool flare coat (seriously the best thing to wear) & Steven Alan navajo coat

October 27, 2012



Lesportsac bags are always good to travel with because they're so light. The hardest part is getting a color that you like. I love floral prints and am pretty into Botanica because there's something baroque and neutral about it--like something out of an old illustrated textbook. The one I have here is a 2011 print called Cottage Garden (complete archive here).

I found something cool on the internet recently: microwaved potato chips! They're the real deal. Slice potatoes, toss into a bowl with a little bit of oil and salt, and place on an greased dish (otherwise they'll stick--they'll also stick if you are too skilled and have sliced them too thin). Then nuke on high in the microwave in one minute increments until they're a little brown but not too brown. They will get even crispier as they cool. I used two tiny 3/4" potatoes, one regular and one purple and filled one and a half dishes.

October 6, 2012

So much for not buying from JCrew anymore. I bought an envelope clutch for less than $30 including tax at the Pasadena store. Just goes to show that resolutions about buying quality items can go right out the window at the right combination of price and quality. The pebbled leather is good, as good as most middle range brands like Marc by Marc or Kate Spade, but mainly I thought it was a fair amount to spend on a wacky color combination in a sedate shape.

JCrew envelope clutch
as seen in ads featuring Virginie Mouzat

Notebooks from Rifle paper & Comme des Garcons wallet

October 3, 2012


I don't understand makeup, but I think I've probably reached an age at which it's unprofessional to show up for work bare-faced. So I went to Sephora and am pretty happy with what they prescribed for me, including foundation (Make Up For Ever's HD foundation in #127), eye liner crayon, eyeshadows, and mascara. And I received a stern admonition that I should always fill in my thick brows, even when I'm wearing nothing else. Prior to this, I had experimented a little with lipstick but mostly stuck to wearing sunscreen and perfume. (On that note, I have to say that I've loved Hanae Mori's Butterfly ever since I was a little kid. It's not the most sophisticated scent, but it's probably still my favorite. For people with less mainstream taste, MCMC fragrances are fantastic.)

And I like Jo Malone's candles. They're on the splurgy side, but they look great and burn for a long time. Emptied out, they're also good for holding tea lights.)

NARS heat wave lipstick
Khiel's musk (the perfume is better)
Acure argan oil (as moisturizer)
Olay Regenerist nighttime serum
Kiss My Face "face factor" SPF 30 sunscreen (I've tried them all. This one is my favorite.)
Nars brow pencil in stud
Urban Decay Naked palette
Shu Uemura lash curler
Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow 'matte brown'
Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara (I'm guessing that most mascaras are pretty much the same, so I'll just stick with sample tubes)

July 26, 2012

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It's gratifying to see that bags are finally small again, although I guess I've never really been up on fashion trends. On Mad Men, women carry purses that are best described as structured clutches by today's standards. For a few years there, purses, especially "it bags" were more like shapeless sacs and cavernous paper eaters. Wallet, phone, keys, lip balm, sunglasses, and pocket planner are pretty much enough.

Alexander Wang "Brenda" camera bag
Marc by Marc Jacobs "Classic Q Percy"

martha's vineyard

In early June I visited Martha's Vineyard for the first time. It's had an outsized place in my imagination ever since I read Judy Blume's Summer Sisters in high school. In the book was a friendship so magical and a brand of girlhood so potent and emotional that I've managed to associate the place with all of those intense feelings. When I was there, the weather was cold and foggy, which suits me. Rich and famous people do visit, as does the president, but it's a low key destination where everyone sits on the sand and eats fried oysters from some seafood shack. I went to a cookout, and all of the other guests wore white sundresses or khaki shorts, had dirty feet, and tracked sand into the house--a good complement to bare wooden floors, moldy books, and beat up old furniture. I'll be back.

July 24, 2012

Blogger has changed a lot since I last published anything! Does anybody have any nice duffle recommendations? I pack very lightly, so a bag in this size is sufficient for three or four days, although I usually have a tote for odds and ends (and liquids, which don't mix that well with leather). I have a LL Bean tote that I like, but I'm thinking about getting a WM. J. Mills bag, something hardy that I can chuck around in the rain.

Pierre Hardy weekender