Saturday, January 17, 2009

What Do You Wear When You Want to Feel Special?

My dear friend Leann and I were having dinner together one night when she asked me, "What do you wear when you want to feel special? You know, when you're just hanging around the house." This sort of question is not uncommon in our many years of friendship, the sort of question I might normally have a quick answer. I looked at her and blinked. I had nothing. But I do now. She gave me this lovely mohair shoulder shrug from pipsqueak-chapeau. Something to make you feel special at home, at work, at the ballet ... thank you, Leann.

Friday, January 16, 2009

How to Survive the Cold Winter

As winter has finally hit Central Ohio and record lows are hitting the whole country (it is -4º today!), it’s time to retreat indoors and even enjoy the retreat a little. Here are a few things that inspire me this week.

The Pantry: Its History And Modern Uses. A beautifully illustrated history of how the nature of the 19th century pantry began to change and evolve in the 20th and 21st centuries as American homemakers began to cook more, bake more, buy more, and stockpile more just as architects were designing and building homes that did not have pantries. The idea of an historical look at pantries is fascinating to me because food technology has so radically changed over the last century, as have our culinary tastes.

Cleopatra’s Nose. This collection of essays from the biographer of Colette and Isak Dinesen compiled from 20 years at the New Yorker will delight you. Judith Thurman writes with wit and interest on all of her topics, which include designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Rei Kawakubo, and Madame de Pompadour. Other subjects include Coco Chanel, Diane Arbus, even Cleopatra. While her focus is often on fashion, she doesn’t write about it as silly and meaningless. She gives fashion the full respect it is due as a multi-national indicator of social, economic, and cultural shifts in the American imagination with lasting significance.

A Well-Kept Home. If you’re planning a serious spring cleaning as I am, this book will take you back to gentler and slower-paced days when more natural methods were used to run and clean homes, reflecting on the traditional way that earlier generations cooked, cleaned, decorated, groomed and gardened. You might also be inspired to make bitter orange marmalade, light a wood fire, or prune rose bushes.

Artists Journals vary as much as artists do. Some might consist of tidy white pages with soft little sketches on them while others provide an orgy of colors and textures. Unlike works created for more public consumption, journals can provide a more intimate exploration of ideas and interests. If you want your creativity to take flight, this book is for you.

The brilliant novels of Jane Austen always give me the impression that she never wrote a bad line. Creating screen versions of her characters, with their sharp wits and quick tongues, would seem like no small task. But this collection by the BBC delivers flawless performances and stunning scenery in each and every adaption of Austen’s books.

If you're a fan of Latin music, Havana Holiday must be added to your music collection immediately. Warning: this music may give you the urge to jump on a plane and head to Havana.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rondo in A Minor, Op. 2, No. 3

My husband plays classical guitar, quite well, I might add. He plays this piece from memory. I sit, looking at a magazine, pretending not to listen, causing him no distractions. I'll admit, it's a privelidge living with someone with such musical talent, of which I have none but for listening. I haven't managed to make a video of him playing this piece, but this is Julian Bream playing it for you. I like to think that in a hundred years when we are long gone, our house will echo, ghost-like, with this very music.

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