Starting Small with Pablo Neruda

I'm still recovering from the holidays.  I don't know what it is but I haven't quite bounced back to my regular self yet.  The weather could have something to do with it.  I have barely been outside the last few weeks because it has been so icy and cold.  I could definitely use some oxygen and maybe some New Year's resolutions.

I don't know what is on your list but I'm starting small, small like the sand, taking tiny baby steps.  I've tried other ways in the past.  I had long lists, ambitious lists, 10 year lists and hour-by-hour inspired schedules that I was going to adhere to but it never worked out.  I burnt out and then I quit only to repeat the same pattern over and over again.  No more I say.

So, in an effort to improve my writing skills and to look at language from a different perspective I have started to read the poetry of Pablo Nerudo, the Chilean poet I mentioned in my previous post on artist Richard Giglio.  I'll leave you here with a couple of poems I have selected in no particular order and I wish you a Happy New Year. 


When slowly, very slowly, I learned
to speak
I think I also learned how to be incoherent:
no one understood my words, not even myself,
and I hated those words
that always made me come back
to the same pit,
to the pit of my still dark being,
still recovering from being born.
Until one day I found on a railroad track
or perhaps it was a newly sown field
a word:  oregano
This word made me unwind,
as if guiding me out of a labyrinth.

Here is "Ode to the Onion".  Now, if there is one thing you should know about me is that I absolutely abhor onions (especially when they're raw, god that awful smell) but I like this poem for many reasons. First, because Neruda makes poetry accessible by appealing to our senses by using brilliant imagery.  And secondly, because he treats ordinary subjects like they should be the focal point of a Rembrandt painting.

luminous vessel,
your grace took shape
petal by petal,
crystal scales made you grow
and in the dark corners of the earth
your belly of dew grew large.
Under the earth
the miracle took place
and when your clumsy green stem
sprang forth
and your leaves
were born like swords in the orchards,
the earth gathered its power
showing your naked transparence
and like the faraway sea
duplicating a magnolia
in the breasts of Aphrodite,
the earth made you thus,
clear like a planet
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
the table
of the poor...

There's something really self-indulgent about reading poetry, but there is beauty in seeing flowing words on a page.  And Neruda's inked sentences celebrate life the way meat enhances every meal.  It is a privilege to be able to write like this and even more of a privilege to read it.

Happy New Year Everyone and remember to start small. 

P.S.  Both poems are courtesy of Earth Tones, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda by Manuel Duran and Margery Safir. 


I wish I had this problem...

The Bra Shop 1997 by John Currin
Although I shouldn't complain, I'm a respectable 34B.  If you're not familiar with John Currin's work you should google him right away.  It's rather entertaining to say the least.  I would post some more but I think it's a little too pornographic even for this site.  Enjoy!


Now, where was I, Oh yes...

2070 by John Currin, 2005
The birth of baby Jesus.  I couldn't have written it better myself.  Ho, Ho, Ho.


Cappuccino Cheesecake

This is the easiest cheesecake recipe you'll ever need and I've made it even easier by changing the crust.  What you'll need is a hammer, a ziploc bag and a box of lady fingers (and hopefully some unresolved anger issues).  I used the Milano brand Giant Lady Fingers; they're available everywhere.  You'll need about a box or a box and a half.

Once you smash these little cookies until they're nice and grainy I guarantee you'll feel relief.  And you don't even need to add butter to the mix, just place them at the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.  As long as you pour in the filling slowly you don't have to worry about unsettling the crust.

For the filling here is what you'll need:

3 packages of cream cheese
3 eggs
6 tablespoons of concentrated coffee (I used a mix of espresso and instant coffee)
1/2 cup of sugar (you can use more if you like things sweeter)
250g of dry pressed cottage cheese


1.  Take out the cottage cheese and cream cheese a couple of hours before you're about to make the cake.  You want them to be soft and ready to use.

2.  You then place the cream cheese in a large bowl cutting it into smaller pieces and then place it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  After you take it out, mix it together using a spoon and then place it in the microwave again for 30 seconds.

2.  Now add the sugar and mix well.  Add the eggs slowly one by one.  Blend together using a hand-held mixer.

3.  Now you'll add the coffee.  Make sure you brew it ahead of time so it has time to cool down.  If you like a stronger coffee flavour either make the coffee really concentrated or add more tablespoons. 

4.  You can also add a tablespoon of vanilla extract if you like.

5.  Lastly, add the cottage cheese.  You'll need to blend this mixture for a while until it's smooth again.  And then it's ready to bake.

6.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.  You can test the centre with a toothpick;  if it comes out clean the cake is ready.  You don't want to over bake it as it can cause cracking which is what happened to mine.  I thought giving it an extra 10 minutes in the oven would be better but I was wrong.  I think 40 is more than enough, and besides the less you bake it the more delicate it will be.

Personally, I like adding the cottage cheese because it gives the cake a thicker texture; plus it gives you some added protein.

You can garnish however you like.  You can also make a raspberry coulis to pour on top.

Today, I wanted to use a stencil and then sprinkle vanilla sugar on top, but I didn't have time so I just took some rocks I found on the beach and used them instead.  I think the pattern turned out quite nice. (Please note that I boiled the rocks for a few hours before doing this.)  I then added some chopped chocolate pieces to add some contrast.  It's not what I imagined it to look like but I think it works.    

Happy Baking and Merry Christmas.


Who's your city?

I don't know about you but I don't feel very Christmassy this holiday season.  I keep dreaming about foreign lands.  Maybe because I have avoided the mall and all shopping this year; I don't know.  So, I decided to put up this photo I took of Monaco.  Who knew the city could be so photogenic.



Now, that's what I call a chandelier. This installation fixture was actually designed for an Abu Dhabi mosque.  But how anyone could possibly pray with this above them is beyond me.  For more great work visit Tord Boontje.com

CORRECTION:  I received an email from the Tord Boontje Studio wherein I was informed that "the Abu Dhabi installation was only ever a proposal and unfortunately was never installed.  It therefore only ever existed as a computer generation."


A Boat in Cassis...

Fabulous News: Norwegian Wood is Now a Film

I had no idea they were even making a movie based on this great book by Haruki Murakami.  But it's true.  Apparently it took four years to make and it was directed by Vietnamese-French director Tran Anh Hung best known for the The Scent of Green Papaya which won the Caméra d'Or Prize at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.  I'll have to add that one too to my list of movies to see.

And to think I just wrote about the book in my Holiday Wish List.  Of course, if you want to read a full synopsis there are two great reviews that can be found, one at The Guardian and another at The National 

The movie has already been released in Japan but won't be available in North America until March 18, 2011.  The official English website can be found here.  I cannot wait, I love foreign films; they're always amazing and this story of first love, and ultimately lost love, and mental illness is so touching I wish everyone would read the book.   If you want to find out more about Haruki Murakami, and I strongly suggest you do, his official website can be found here.  Once you read one of his novels you'll want to read them all.  Trust me on this.


Take Me to a Happy Place...

Let the fashion continue.  Here is the second installment of my first fashion post, the one that started off on the topic of Carine Roitfield.  I don't know about you but I've always wondered what it would be like to work at a magazine: the creative energy, the deadlines, the styling, all wrapped up together by a team of talented writers, editors and photographers, it's almost too enviable to think about.  How lucky it must be to be a part of something so collaborative.

But I'm also starting to get some semblance of how difficult the work must be.  Because after spending over a week just researching these fashion items that I'm going to show you I have to confess that I'm somewhat exhausted.  I loved every minute of it though and I can't wait to write some more fashion posts in the future.

So, anyway here we go...

1.  Another blazer from Smythe but this one in salt and pepper.  The shape is perfect, you have the elongated torso and the extra arm length, the raised shoulders and the sexy deep v-neck.  I don't know what else you would need to add to this; that's what I love about this company; they really pay attention to what's flattering for a woman.

2.  Next is this lovely little purse that just came out on the Luisa Via Roma website from Sara Battaglia.  I love the layering of the leather pieces and the shape.  I can only imagine what it would look like if the leather strands were cut in varying shapes and sizes.  I'm tempted to design a necklace in the same sort of style.  

3.  Now, who wouldn't want a string of blueberries around their neck?  This necklace is almost too playful and childlike.  I remember having a similar one but in red when I was a teenager. Here, the navy blue adds some seriousness, I suppose, if I can call it that.  It's available from Anthropologie.

4.  I love anything that's black, sheer and fitted and this long-sleeved jersey t-shirt from Rick Owens is the perfect basic to have in your closet.  There's also plenty of sheer cashmere from this designer but for a simple and classic black shirt this is all you really need.  Available from Netaporter.

5.  Now that it's winter I'm starting to appreciate the appeal of fur.  I think this item would look great with black leggings and knee high boots.  This skirt is from a Turkish label called HAKAAN and is made from fox fur.  Animal rights activists don't blame me for writing about it;  I didn't make it.  Besides, I think it could easily be made out of faux-fur.  Stella, are you hearing me?

6.  In case you haven't noticed yet, I love jewellery.  This Mythology Pavé Disc pendant is made from rose gold and it is just asking to be made more meaningful; you can request for a personalized message to be engraved on it.  It's available from Annoushka Jewellery.

7.  Here is a fabulous purse from Alexander Want that's slightly textured.  It's available in two colours but I think the black one is more practical.  It also has an interesting studded bottom that gives it more durability.  It's also available from Luisa Via Roma.

8.  This cute Haramaki t-shirt from Anthropologie has a nice lavender colour and beautiful horizontal pleats.  It also comes in black.  I want both.  And it's only $48.

9.  I love the colour purple; there's something majestic about it.  And these earrings from Annoushka are simple yet elegant.  I think they would go great with the above-mentioned t-shirt.

10.  This jersey t-shirt from Sass and Bide has a nice classic black and white pattern.  The asymetrical draping adds a nice touch.  I like the little front pocket on the side too.  Only at Netaporter. 

11.  I'm starting to wonder if Luisa Via Roma has a monopoly over great purses.  They really have a great selection to choose from.  Check out this hobo bag from Fleet Ilya.  There's only one left but it's pricey.  Really fantastic shape though.  The buyers on this site sure know what they're doing that's all I have to say.

12.  I've always loved scarves and this one from Anthropologie has a great colour combination.  I love green and pink together.  This one is also very affordable and only costs $38.

13.  This lacerated wool cardigan from Altuzarra is just too sexy for words.  The cuts on the front give this a nice sensual silhouette.  You could really play around with this piece.  It's available from collete.  Please don't blame me for the price.

14.  Try adding this lime green clutch to your wardrobe.  It's from Stalo Markides and it's available again from Luisa Via Roma. It's sort of on sale for about $400.  I'm not sure if that's really a sale but anyway I like those feathers.   

15.  This skirt from colette is something else. It's designed by Mary Katrantzou a Greek-born designer who now works in England.  The skirt is a mix of silk, cotton and leather.  I like the use of colour here.

16.   This beaded falls necklace is from Anthropologie.  It would look great with any v-neck shirt or sweater.  The design is simple but original and I like this shade of blue.  It almost looks like a smoky gray.

17.  I'm not sure what one would do with this little thing, it looks rather large, maybe you could use it as a clutch.  Still, I like the texture of this woolen pouch from Bless.  It's available from colettte.

18.  Here is a great polka-dot dress from colette.  It couldn't be any simpler but it works.  I even don't mind the neck.  It's made by Azzaro.  I would wear it on a beach if I had one nearby.

19.  Okay I had to include another ring from Annoushka or rather a ring stack to be more accurate.  This one has everything, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold and diamonds. Now, who wouldn't want five rings instead of one?  
20.  Everyone needs a nice bathrobe and this one from Burberry is nice and silky.  I love the colour here.  It's available from Netaporter.

21.  I know it's winter but I couldn't help including this Pucci bikini from Netaporter.  I like the metallic finish and colour combination.  The best part is that it's tiny.  

22.  There's something so classic about YSL.  And although this purse is probably more for spring than winter I had to post it because it has such a clean design.  If you're looking for a purse that's going to last you forever, this one is well worth the investment.

I hope you've enjoyed my selections.  I'm going to take a much needed break now.  No French words today.  It's Sunday and je suis Catholique.  Well, not really but I'm going to rest anyway.


A Merry-Go-Around in Paris

I want Carine Roitfeld's former title...

Of course, I'll need a signing bonus, a clothing allowance and, naturally, travel expenses to cover my move to Paris.  But otherwise I think I'm ready.  Okay, all joking aside, am I the only person who thinks that Ms. Roitfield's good-bye to French Vogue is a good thing?  Sure, she'll be missed as the creative powerhouse and visionary and style icon that she was (and still is) but I highly doubt she's going to disappear to the sidelines.  If anything, with all the attention she's receiving I'm dreaming up all sorts of new possibilities for her and her future.  And it's not even my own life.

While this shocker feels like a disappointment it's hardly surprising.  I think a decade is a pretty significant amount of time to spend at any place of employment. And to tell you the truth I'm surprised she didn't leave sooner.

Even if you don't care for fashion you have to appreciate the woman's longevity at French Vogue and the freshness she brought with her that fueled the magazine's art direction and in turn inspired countless others.  She legitimized fashion in the same way that Tom Ford did while he was at Gucci and I think even more so at Yves Saint Laurent.  And it's no wonder that these two love-birds have had such a strong affection for each other over the years.  Their natural flair and impeccable style speaks not just of good taste but also showcases the transformative power of fashion and it's ability to dictate trends around the world.

And while I wasn't planning to write about fashion today one thing led to another and now I have some 44 items to show you that I've personally selected which I completely adore.  If this post doesn't make you go, Oh my, then I have failed as a writer, but I hope, at the very least, you appreciate my efforts.

And if you've ever wondered why I have so many links to blogs/newspapers/websites on my page it's because I love checking them every day for inspiration.  I always discover something new, whether it's a new writer, a designer, a new shop, a book to read, an artist or recipe, or a new interior, or just a new website to look at.  Every day becomes less ordinary when you immerse yourself in the new.

I personally have always loved fashion.  Long before I wanted to be anything else, I wanted to be a fashion designer.  There were other things, many things, in fact.  There were applications to law school, business school, graduate school in journalism at Columbia and then fashion design (again) at Central St. Martins, an internship at Christie's and two interviews at fashion magazines all of which I was summarily rejected from.  But at least I can be proud of my acceptance to Parsons School of Design right after high school for the Associate degree in fashion.  It was so long ago and I had only applied to see if I could get in because I knew I could never afford to go but I never forgot my attempts.  To this day though I still can't sew a straight line so I think it was all for the best.  

In any event, I've always enjoyed reading about fashion more than I ever have about celebrities; the latter of the which I've never really understood except to view it as a wholly aimless North American phenomenon and shallow obsession.  I suppose if we had more people like Carine Roitfield on this side of the ocean then maybe our focus could be directed towards more creative pursuits than just living the lives of others most notably on TV.

Anyway, stopping there here are my top fashion pics.  Some are exhorbitant in price and luxury but I think are well worth seeing if only for inspiration.  I have omitted the prices so that my eyes could stop crying.  (Although the pieces from Anthropologie and Apart Style are quite affordable)...

1.  My first selection is this jacket from Canadian design duo Smythe.  I love the cut and colour.  Their jackets are always so slimming.

2.  Next is the Beryl Basket ring from Annoushka Jewellery in England.  It's so expensive, it's almost painful, but the design is stunning.  I found out about Annoushka, of all places, in The Economist's culture section.  

 3.  If it weren't for the lovely blog la portage rouge I would have never discovered a great new shop called Apart Style. This studded sweater dress is to-die-for.  It would look so great with the right type of hosiery.

4.  Here is another ring from Annoushka called the Sonora Pepple Ring made of sterling silver that "is meticulously hand-hammered to mimic the dappled surface of a Tibetan meditation bell".  Do I need to say anything more?

 5.  A purse, is a purse, is a purse, but I think a good one should last you a lifetime.  I don't know about you, but I'm extremely picky when it comes to what I'll wear on my shoulder.  This one I discovered after reading about Gwyneth Paltrow's shopping habits on GOOP and her fondness for a shop called Luisa Via Roma.  This bag is almost perfect.  It's made of soft leather, it's a smoky gray and most important, it doens't have those ugly zippers that are so ubiquitous on Balenciaga bags.  Plust it's a great size, both practical and solid.

6.  This ring is beautiful to look at and it's almost architectural in it's design.  I found in while browsing through notcouture, a great site for findings new trends in design.  It's available from a shop called Shop Acrimony.

7.  This sequined silk dress designed by Valentino, available from colette, is simply stunning.  It would be perfect for New Year's if you can afford it. 

8.  This mother-of-pearl, Manuela Seed Pod, ring from Annoushka is so original and nice I marvel at its beautiful design.  I don't even have words left to describe it.  I might just print this pic off and hang it on my wall.

9.  Here's a great bag from Stella McCartney.  It's a woven, cotton-blend, and chain trimmed that's available from net-a-porter.  It's a lot larger than it looks.  And I think it has a great shape; very chic too.

10.  This is a necklace from Anthropologie.  The shade of orange is simply divine.  I don't know whether these are supposed resemble cherries or some sort of plant.  I guess we'll never know.

11.  I don't think I could ever wear this coat except maybe in Paris. It's a goat, bi-coloured design by Lanvin available from colette.  I only wish my coat could look this warm.


12.  This "Gatsby" dress from Apart Style is gorgeous.  I love the line work and the detailing.  And how could I not love a dress named after my favourite book?

13.  This is a gold-leaf necklace from Annoushka.  What can I say?  It would look great on anyone's neck.   

14.  This sheer knit cardigan would go great with a lace camisole, (maybe one from Leigh Bantivoglio?).  With its ballet-wrap style and deep v-neck it's begging to show off some nice jewellery.  Available from Apart Style.

15.  Of course, you could always try pairing it up with this Lee Angel necklace from Netaporter.  I love how the gray almost looks like mohair.  It's so sophisticated.

16.  Ever since someone stole my chocolate pashmina I've been hesitant to purchase anything expensive.  But this one from Jimmy Choo is making me reconsider.  I like the mix of camel and brown tones.

17.  I wish sugar cubes would come in these shapes and colours.  These playful earrings are available from Anthropologie.  They almost remind me of Christmas ornaments in how they sparkle.  I guess if you want to be creative you can always hang them up on your tree.

18.  This is a light weight merino wool shawl from Virginia Johnson a Toronto designer.  I actually met her mother once, of all places, in a changing room while I was shopping in Yorkville.  This was before her daugther became popular.  She was trying on a flamenco red-black dress and she was the sweetest lady; I loved her name too, Plum, Plum Johnson.  If I recall correctly I think she was a publisher.  But anyway, I like this colour combination; gray, pink and white always go well together.

19.  This gray python clutch would go great with any outfit.  Designed by AKKESOIR it's available from Luisa Via Roma.

20.  This is another sweater dress from Apart Style.  Did I mention I want them both?  Seriously, I don't know where these people came from, but all I can say is, what took them so long?  This one has a bit of a Chanel element to it.

21.  These lavender lace earrings from Annoushka remind me of snow.  They're small and delicate and I think they would look great with dark hair.  They have diamonds in them too.

22.  This Lanvin skirt has a great texture, a beautiful pattern and a wonderful cut.  It's also available from Colette in Paris.  Or you can shop without snobs, as I like to say, and just purchase it online.

I am going to stop there and post the second portion tomorrow.  Stay tuned and please come back again as I have some more great finds to show you.  Believe me, you will not be disappointed.