Monday, September 26, 2011

What Would Happen?

(London tunnel. Photograph by Moby.)

I listened to "Destroyed", Moby's latest album, all weekend. Have you ever heard a song that within moments fills you with strength and comfort and resonates down to the core of your being? Well, that's how I felt the first time I heard "Lie Down in Darkness"...and I'm betting you will too.
(LA at night. Photograph by Moby.)

It's poetic.
It's impassioned.
It's quasi-hymnal.
But more than anything, it's completely and totally inspiring.

It made me spend my Sunday creating this for you:
(If you're reading this via email subscription, click HERE)

P. S. Moby has created a fascinating website to accompany his album. Click HERE.

Director's Thanks:
I would like to give a special shout-out to the shelled creature I discovered in my garden who so tirelessly performed take after take for me until the afternoon light was just right. There's nothing like a Hollywood stunt snail.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Paper Fixation

I have fallen head over heels for the Off Duty section of the weekend Wall Street Journal.
(Coffee + Off Duty Section = A Perfect Moment.)

It's only been a few months, but the symptoms of love are all too familiar.

1. When I open my eyes on Saturday mornings, I feel an instant rush, thinking of it laying on my front path in its little cerise wrapper. This is immediately replaced by tender concern. Is it safe? Is there a teeny perforation in the plastic again? Did the sprinklers drench it?

2. My concentration is shot. By the time Thursday rolls around, I find myself unable to think about anything else.

"David Netto (a dad at my son's school) mentioned going on some crazy train trip with his family. I wonder if his article's coming out this weekend? Oh crap. I just burned the pizza."
(Photo by Jessica Haye and Clark Hsaio. Article HERE.)

2. Every vapid little thought that flits through my head leads directly back to it.

"Whoa, this sink could do with a good scrub. Oh swoon. Remember when Rita Konig wrote about kitchens with character?"
(Photo by Staffan Johansson. Article HERE.)

"Now where did I just put my book? Oh, who cares? How about that article Sara Ruffin Costello wrote about the well-stocked library?"
(Photo by James Merrell. Article HERE.)

3. When I am holding the Off Duty section in my hot little hands, all else pales into insignificance.

"Yes, Luca, I will help you look for your soccer cleats -- just as soon as I learn how to wear a scarf like Jackie Onassis in Capri."
(Photo by Settimo Garritano. Article HERE.)

"Piero, I would give you a hand with all those grocery bags, but I'm feeling light-headed. You see...The. Off. Duty. Fall. List Is. Here."
(Gloriously all HERE.)

4. At random moments, I find myself thinking about all the beautiful times we have shared together. Of course, we'll always have Paris (HERE, HERE and HERE), but the memories go far beyond that.

There was that time we travelled to English decorator Nicky Haslam's eccentric country house.
(Photo by Simon Upton. Article HERE.)

And got giddy over Alice Water's crazy simple Stone-Fruit Salad with Sugared Berries.
(Photo by Justin Walker. Article HERE.)

And felt that adrenaline surge for Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami's hand-embroidered wool rugs.
(Photo via WSJ Weekend. Article HERE.)

Oh, the list goes on and on. I have special feelings for you, Off Duty section. You are eccentric and fascinating and erudite and approachable. You are a romantic rainstorm on a boring sunny day. You make me want to be the best possible version of myself.

* * * * *

And now, if you people will kindly excuse me, I desperately need to get back to Jeffrey Bilhuber (HERE.)
(Photo by LBG.)

Have an inspiring week, everyone.


UPDATE: A commenter alerted me to the fact that Deborah Needleman, ex-editor of Domino, is the creative force behind the Off Duty section. Of course she is and how oblivious of me not to mention that. Thank you Deborah, for the miracles you have wrought!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Novel Idea For Food

Did you know food tastes more delicious when you create a backstory for it?

Introducing "Mrs. Arbuthnot's Repast."
(My snack this afternoon.)

(Ingredients: flax and fiber sandwich thins, good butter,
raspberry and key lime jam, sliced nectarines, almond slivers)

I'm calling it that after the character in Elizabeth Von Arnim's "The Enchanted April." Succulent fruit on thin bread with a bracing crunch of almond seems an appropriate nibble for an unhappy Englishwoman longing for a fresh new start in life.

Why stop there?

After looking through my computer files, I've taken a stab at renaming some of the meals I've eaten since starting this blog. Can you guess which novel they're inspired by?
(Answers are at the bottom.)

Old name: Cioppino
New name: "Dickie Greenleaf's Harbor Stew"

Old name: Tomato soup with grilled cheese soldiers
New name: "A Small Measure of Count Rostov's Liquidity"

Old name: Fig marzipan tart
New name: "Dick Diver's Taste of Midnight Galette"

Old name: Mussels in white wine sauce
New name: "Mr. Peggotty's Seaside Savory"

Old name: Roasted kombucha squash with parsley-vinaigrette salad and toasted pepitas

New name: "Friday's Foodstuffs For the Purpose of Quelling Famishment"

Old name: Meyer lemon pound cake
New name: "Mrs. Bennett's Lip-Pursing Pleasure For Headstrong Young Ladies"

Old name: Open-face sandwich with Marmite, butter, Jarlsberg cheese and cherry tomatoes
New name: "Causabon's Key to Health"

I know your brains are exploding with "novel food" pairings that are much more clever than mine. Unleash them in my comments section. :)

* * * * *


1. The Talented Mr. Ripley/ Patricia Highsmith
Dickie Greenleaf meets a fishy end in the waters of San Remo. Enough said.

2. Tender is the Night/F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dick Diver likes to stay up late and have a good time. Enough said.

3. War and Peace/Leo Tolstoy
Count Rostov was loaded with dependents but very little money.

4. David Copperfield/Charles Dickens
Mr. Peggotty is a fisherman and lives in a beached houseboat by the ocean.

5. Robinson Crusoe/Daniel Defoe
Friday was the shipwrecked Crusoe's trusty companion.

6. Pride and Prejudice/Jane Austen
A reference to Mrs. Bennett and her daughters, especially Elizabeth.

7. Middlemarch/George Eliot
Causabon was obsessed with writing a book called "The Key to all Mythologies."


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