Monday, November 29, 2010

Greens and Gourds

There’s been a heavy frost on the grass and garden for the past two mornings.  C’s been out every afternoon covering his fall plantings of greens and I must say I’ve been impressed with the results.  We’ve had tons of beautiful lettuces for weeks now.  Also he has everything from kale to cabbage to broccoli happening out there.  The frost killed just about everything else leaving the garden fence laced with gourds of different sizes, shapes, and colors.  Now I just need to figure out what to do with dozens of gourds.  Even though today it’s been cold and windy, I had to run out in the garden with the camera for awhile.  I’m intrigued by the green hues and integral patterns.




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

A couple of years ago C and I went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  It was the first time we attended the parade and I took advantage of an executive perk and got tickets for us in the grand stand in front of the Hearld Square store.  I would post the photographs from the parade, except there aren’t any.  Someone remembered to bring the camera, but forgot the battery!

Also, other than Manhattanites, most people are not aware of an event that takes place on the Upper West Side the night before the parade.  It’s called the Inflation Party.  It’s a terrible name, but I was repeatedly told what a fun event it was.  Block after block along Central Park West is closed and the parade balloons are filled with helium.  People come from all over the city to get a close up view of the balloons as they take shape.  Having decided that this needed to be a part of our Thanksgiving festivities I forced C to go.  I expected us to be able to casually stroll along the avenues and gaze at the balloons.  C is not a large crowd type of person and I knew we were in trouble as soon as we got off the subway.  The streets were mobbed as far as you could see.  As we got closer the sidewalks became shoulder to shoulder and the police force started herding the crowds like cattle.  I was able to flash a business card and Macy ID and get into a less crowed VIP area, otherwise C would have ran out screaming.  It was cold.  We walked one block, then went home.  So much for that tradition.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Great Ideas Duplicated

Elle Decor November 2007
Sometimes I’m afraid there are no new ideas out there, especially in the world of design and creativity.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit jaded.  Actually, I’m very jaded and working in retail for much of my career probably didn’t help.  Case in point; I’ve always known that retail merchants and store environment designers continuously steal competitor’s concepts.  But, after I moved to NYC and started a job in the marketing side of the business, I was surprised by the advertising creative process.  So much of the creative design, including graphic, photography, layout and other advertising direction was driven not by innovative new thinking, but was developed from pouring over other peoples work such as magazines, other ad campaigns, swipe and tear sheets, books and any number of other creative outlets.  Its not that our creative department took ideas and reused them verbatim; it was more for inspiration and creative direction.  This is fine.  I learned that very few creative projects start from scratch.

Elle Decor September 2010
One other case in point; years ago I gave C an interesting empire partners desk for Christmas.  Although it’s not a huge piece of furniture, it does command a significant amount of space and pretty much dominates a room.  We have always had a problem making it work to our satisfaction and not unlike everything else we own, it’s been in just about every room in our house.  It would be in his office, except that his office is upstairs and there’s no way the desk will make it up the steep narrow staircase.  We’ve tried! 

So, I was excited when I noticed a couple of pages in Elle Décor’s September 2010 issue under the ‘Great Ideas’ section titled Volume Control.  The article is about home libraries.  The headline reads… “Take a page from these stylish home libraries, which are as intriguing as the books they contain.”  

On many occasions we’ve discussed turning one of our front rooms into a library using the partner’s desk as the feature furniture piece.  The article reminded me that I had been marking library rooms that appeared in shelter magazines for years.  I’ve mentioned before, I collect shelter magazines and have a whole wall dedicated to them in my studio.  As I started going through the archived issues, I was surprised, but not shocked to see basically the same article in Elle Décor’s November 2007 issue.  It too was a several page feature in their ‘Great Ideas’ section.  Of course the title was different.  This one was called Case Study and the headlines read… “Shelves do more than keep books tidy.  The best bookcase can give any room high-flying drama.”  Although the words and photos are different, it’s pretty much the same.  I guess I can somewhat excuse Elle Décor since there are only so many type rooms in a house one can discuss.  Also, I’ve only been doing this blog for a few months and I understand how hard it is to continuously come up with new and fresh ideas.  Either way, I guess it’s OK.  It just doubles my options of ideas I can steal for my own library!

Photo Credit:  Didier Delmars

Photo Credit:  Marianne Haas

Photo Credit:  Daniel Hertzell

Photo Credit:  Marie-Pierre Morel

Photo Credit:  Guillamume De Laubeir

Photo Credit:  Pieter Estersohn

Photo Credit:  Grey Crawford

Photo Credit:  William Waldron

Photo Credit:  Nicolas Tosi
Photo Credit:  William Waldron

Photo Credit:  William Waldron

Photo Credit:  Nocolas Tosi

Photo Credit:  Gaelle Le Boulicaut

Photo Credit:  Georgio Baroni

Friday, November 19, 2010

Martha VS Rachel VS Cher

I don’t want to do this, but I am not sure I have much of a choice.  I have to trash another TV food chef.  A couple of weeks ago I lit into Sandra Lee, but only because I learned she was about to release her tablescape taste on the state of New York.  Now we need to have a little discussion about Rachel Ray.  Of course I have a hard time with her too, but that should appear obvious to you.  I question her taste, albeit she’s hands above Sandra.  They clearly drive pretty much in the same lane. 

C recently forwarded me one of Rachel’s published recipes he ran across.  It’s called ‘Late Night Bacon’. 

8 slices of bacon

Place 2 sheets of paper towel on a microwave safe plate.  Lay the bacon out on the paper towel not overlapping the slices. Place 2 more sheets of paper towel on top. Place in the microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes.

Photo credit: FilmMagic/Getty
Now really.  This is actually on the Food Network site! What moron doesn’t know how to microwave bacon!  It really doesn’t surprise me.  I mean it’s a recipe from the women who also taught us how to prepare a Tater Tot Casserole.  She refers to anything situated between two slices of bread as a ‘Sammie’ or a thick soup as a ‘Stewp’.  I’m assuming that’s the way she spells those two new food categories, but I’m not going to take the time to fact check. 

Are we to assume that Rachel was not aware that preparing bacon in a microwave is rather common, not to mention easy?  Maybe she stumbled across this revelation, by inadvertently misplacing a few slices in her microwave and accidentally hitting the power button.  "WOW, I need to share this with my audience," she thought.

I realize in my house the food experience takes on a higher priority than in most people’s homes, so I understand that C and I are not Rachel's target audience

Normally I may have left this one alone.  But, just as coincidences go (and we all know that there are no coincidences), the next day I noticed in December’s Vanity Fair a feature page interview with Rachel.  The headline is ‘All in Good Taste’ and they refer to her as ‘the next Martha’.  Did anyone ask Martha Stewart about that?  Last time I checked she was still out there ruling the world as usual.

I didn't see the episode in which Rachel shared this nugget of culinary knowledge, but according to the Food Network site it was titled 'Late Night'.  Maybe she was drunk or high. Or maybe she just casually mentioned the microwave bacon idea on that episode but did not make a big deal of it.  Perhaps an over zealous staffer published the recipe.  Even if that's the case, it just proves my point that she will not be the next Martha Stewart.  Something like that would not have slipped past Martha.  I worked with her organization when I was in New York and trust me nothing slipped past those people.  If it did, they knew what could happen.  Martha was very aware if not actually involved in every detail. 

courtesy Rachel Ray, Anders Krushberg MSLO
Vanity Fair is a magazine that I generally admire, but I’m just not sure about this issue.  I bought it at an airport newsstand the other day because Cher was on the cover.  You’ve probably seen it.  The headline reads, ‘Cher is back’.  What are they talking about?  She never went anywhere.  The women’s had a dozen farewell tours.  I know exactly where she's been.  She's in Vegas being paid $180 million for a 3 year show.  Her picture is on a billboard in front of Caesar’s.  It’s the size of the Chrysler building. 

Photo credit: Norman Jean Roy
Photo Credit:  Gasper Tringale

One of my favorite quotes is ‘after a nuclear war the world would still have cock roaches and Cher’.  Not that I put Cher in the category with a nasty bug, but you get my point. Not only has she not gone anywhere, I doubt she ever will – at least I hope not!

So, I think Vanity Fair has lost their collective minds.  Rachel Ray is not going to be the next Martha Stewart.  Cher has better chance of being the next Martha Stewart and she’s not even trying.  But, then again she doesn’t have too!

Photo credit: Norman Jean Roy

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I’ve just added a new movie to my list of favorites. I AM LOVE is a great film.  The movie came out last June, so many of you probably have seen it or at least heard about it if you run with the right crowd.  I watched it last week and I’m still thinking about it.  The key word here is ‘watched’ VS ‘saw’.  You watch a movie at home.  The word ‘saw’ is used when discussing movie viewing as, “I saw a great movie.”  That phases means you were able to go to a local movie theater, purchase a ticket and actually be seated to view the film.  That’s not possible for us.  Ok, that maybe an exaggeration.  We do have a car, actually we have two of them, so it is possible for us to drive to a movie theater.  However, the closest one is thirty miles away and caters to the crowd that is interested in the latest action flick, family animation or sophomoric humor.  I AM LOVE would not have been on the theater distribution list for our area!  I fact, I believe it only opened in a couple of major cities and ran for a second.  So even if you live in a metropolis, if you blinked you may have missed it. 

I AM LOVE is all about design!

It’s an Italian melodrama starring Tilda Swinton and she’s fantastic in the lead role.  I have never had an opinion one way or the other of Tilda Swinton; other than I think of her as being an accomplished actress and that she looks a lot like Conan O’Brien, which sort of ruins her movies for me.  Add to that, I AM LOVE is a foreign film with subtitles which I might have avoided.  Not that I dislike foreign films with subtitles, but I have to really want to see them to make the effort.  I don’t mind thinking or being challenged by a film, it’s just that I don’t want to work too hard, and sometimes subtitles can do just that.  It’s distracting and I worry l may miss something.  But, that was not the case with I AM LOVE.  The film is really about the images and the dialogue is somewhat secondary.

I was a little nervous.  I have a reputation that I can’t seem to get rid of with some of our friends.  They claim my film picks are to often questionable.  Of course they’re wrong.  Back in the days of Blockbuster, our local mom and pop video store did not have the best selection.  To tell the truth, it sucked.  Every time we had guests it was my job to go rent the movies.  And most of the time we have guests, it’s around the holidays.  So you can image that the selection was worse than usual.  Now you would think that since the others were too lazy to go to the movie rental store themselves, they would at least be respectful of my limited choices and not be over critical.  But no!  I am still living down the selection of Deception starring Harry Hamlin and that was fifteen years ago!

So I was a little concerned when my much awaited Netflix envelope arrived with I AM LOVE.

Now that the days of video stores are gone, it’s my job to manage the Netflix list.  And of course C is always complaining that considering the amount of films that are released, and knowing I have over three hundred titles on our Netflix list, why is it that we only get bad movies or things he’s never heard of.

 “What’s this,” asked C as he opened the Netflix envelop?  He always says something like that when he has never heard of one of my film choices.  He then usually scans the short synopsis on the flap, obviously looking to see if the film features Harry Hamlin. 

It could be that I get most of my information from the New York Times, but I really like to think it’s because I’m just a little ‘higher’ brow. 

Either way I fully expected that within five minutes into I AM LOVE; C would have jumped up from the sofa and said something to the effect, “You can finish watching this.  I’m going to clean out the Spam folders on my email accounts.”

However, not only did he intently watch the film, but he seemed to actually enjoy it. 

If you are interested in a beautifully filmed movie with great acting, wonderful wardrobe and art direction watch I AM LOVE.  It’s Italy…  The scenery, the food, the clothes, and especially the attitude.  Also, not once does Harry Hamlin appear.


Monday, November 15, 2010

The Gold Standard

I’m all about metal today, specifically gold metal.  It could be because I woke up this morning and realized that the holiday season is now just a week away.  Or that I just returned yesterday from a trip to Palm Springs and was still affected by the glitz and glamour.  But, the idea of gold banded, mesh or woven metal accents have caught my attention - again.  Actually, that’s nothing new.  Shiny things have always been on the top of my list and even though the influence of silver in home furnishings has been dominant over the past years, gold will always be my ever faithful standby. 

I keep tear sheets on trends or ideas I see which I find interesting.  I do this not only because of my obsession with design, but I refer back to them when I’m working on ideas for the house or more recently for design inspiration when I’m working with a client.  Here are just a few of some things out of the ‘gold’ file.

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