As you know by now, every so often I post a recipe...there's no particular rhyme or reason for this...either with the timing or the recipes themselves (past entries, after all, include miniature BLTs and salt and vinegar popcorn)...
This morning I was unusually motivated and made a batch of reduced fat/low cholesterol banana muffins...despite the off-puttingly healthy name these are delicious...even more so if you throw a handful of raisins into the final batter mix.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place some paper baking cups in a 12-muffin muffin pan.
In one bowl...mix all "The Dry" ingredients...and, in another bowl, mix all "The Wet". Add "The Dry" to "The Wet" and stir until mixed (the batter, however, will never be smooth so don't go crazy and overmix).
Bake for 30 minutes (or until the obligatory toothpick comes out clean). Let cool (a little)...then eat...best served with a large glass of ice cold grapefruit juice and one of Junko Mizuno's Hell Babies.
After a fair amount of prevarication (and just a pinch of mindless pottering) I finally sat down yesterday and put in the time necessary to finish up my blog re-design...I'll be moving over to the new layout shortly and would love to hear what you think...especially if anything looks odd (or is, heaven forbid, completely nonoperational).
Images on archival posts are a smidge longer than the space available in the new format and will, in consequence, look a little abbreviated. I'm hoping that's the biggest issue...but this was some of the most finicky coding that I've done to date...and I'm an awful pessimist...so I'd like to ask, upfront, for your patience over the next few days as I iron out any glitches.
"Americans are among the strongest believers in claims that Pluto, discovered in 1930, is a planet. Others, like me, say it's an icy body rather than a planet." - Dr. Noah Brosch
As someone to whom the word "shorts" is synonymous with clown-haters and the mold at the back of the refrigerator (I know they exist, I just don't acknowledge their presence) what I am about to say is slightly shocking...I have lost my heart to a pair of 1930's, high-waisted bloomers.
Sadly, from a closet if not a sanity perspective, their waist measurements and mine do not match. Which is a shame as these are shorts I could get along with...shorts that masquerade as a skirt...shorts with a little history behind them...and shorts with a delicate crochet detail on each leg.
Once again I'm forced to admit that some things are just not meant to be...
To add to the unknown cowboy's thoughts...don't, for any reason, drink a vodka based fruit punch and Chianti during the same party...whether you're standing upstream, downstream, or in the stream. No good will come of it, none...
In the world of summer shade providers, hats are for busy days...the days when you need to perch one on your head and stride out, purposefully, getting things done. Parasols are for the lazy, pottering days...when it takes hours to get from point A to point B and, destination reached, there's a certain lack of clarity as to why you came.
Moving around under (in my case) a turquoise shadow, the world seems to slow down...the view of your surroundings is framed by an undulating wave of paper...a seagull, on a fish-finding reconnaissance mission, flies overhead and is lost from sight...a sailboat, emerging from the harbor, drifts by. You could, by tilting your head or moving your arm, follow them further on their journey...but it's a lazy day...and staring at the sun didn't do Icarus any good...so you sit in the shade and enjoy the view...
“At some point we need to move on. We need to start doing some things. That day is fast approaching, if it's not here already. Our prom dress has been on for over [a] year and we've been standing there, with a corsage, waiting.” - Billy Beane
I'm rather ashamed to say it but...I bought this See by Chloe dress on sale a couple of years ago and this is the first time it will actually see the light of day. It's one of those dresses that I loved in the changing room but, whenever I pull it out and try it on, never seems quite right. The upper half, with it's puffy sleeves and lace bib, seems to yell "prom"...but they're the only thing about the dress which do.
Today I yanked it out of the closet yet one more time...unsurprisingly it still didn't feel quite right but, at this point, I don't think it ever will. So, I'm finally wearing it...to a barbecue.
"I am terribly conscious of the fact that the world doesn't need any more actors. There are so many brilliant actors around that one more twit like me joining the back of the queue seems completely unnecessary." - Hugh Laurie
Having wittered away (at length) to anyone who would listen to me about the unnecessaryness of Twitter...and the information overload that it provided...I've finally succumbed...
Which means that...like most technology related things in my life (laptop, digital camera, expensive software)...I will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future only to become hooked on said item after about ten minutes (actually, that's an overly-generous estimate, I was addicted to Photoshop after about 30 seconds).
If anyone would care to befriend me as I start my journey in this brave new world you can find me going under the nom de plume of Hebden9 (as someone got there ahead of me and snagged my normal guise).
"Poor Elsa Lanchester. She left England because it already had a queen - Victoria. And she wanted to be queen of the Charles Laughton household, once he became a star, but he already had the role." - Marlene Dietrich
I was going to write about the supreme dorky-ugly-retro sweetness that constitutes these brown and white beauties by Elsa...the brainchild of a former Dries Van Noten/Martin Margiela shoe and accessories designer and an Italian shoe producer...a while ago. The combination of hand-painted wooden heels and old-lady girlishness appealed to me...
But, for some reason, it didn't happen...alright, to be honest...I started the post, saved it mid-way through, and then forgot all about it when I next logged on. So I'm taking this opportunity to rectify the situation...only now I've had the chance to look a more pieces from their summer collection and have found even more items to lust over...
|I suppose it's only fitting that I round out "bitching about bruises" week with an outfit that is 100% tomboy. There's a flash of floral, it's true...but...thanks to the Marlon Brandon worthy cap sleeves (and nautical stripes...how very "On The Waterfront")...and Cons...this is pure catching frogs and getting in fights territory.|
Ah, summer...it unleashes the 10 year old in you whether you want it to or not...
Striped top - Old Navy, floral skirt - Cacharel/Liberty, gold talon necklace - Erica Weiner, hi-tops - Converse
I should have known better...
Having stalked Heimstone's website with alarming regularity for the last few months...waiting (though, admittedly, not with a huge degree of patience) for a glimpse of their Fall/Winter collection...there was a fairly good chance that I was destined to be disappointed. And, you know what? I was...
Though not for any momentous reason (well, except for the soundtrack that they added to complement the new jungle theme on their site...after a couple of minutes of random chirpings and sqwalkings I was ready to kill)...no, it was simply that all the pieces were...okay. And having worked myself up into a frenzy of anticipation I wanted more...
As they marched along the way
A fife and drum began to play
All on a beautiful morning
One was gentle, one was kind
One came home, one stayed behind
A cannonball don't pay no mind"
~ Irwin Gordon
You may have noticed yesterday that, currently, I have more bruise than leg...at last count there were about ten of the little swines...ranging in size from a modest scuff-mark to a just-under-2-inch-in-diameter behemoth on my thigh (I only hope that the table I walked in to is feeling as badly as I am right now).
Why is it that my general, year-round, klutziness goes into overdrive once the temperature heats up? In the last week I have bumped into so many pieces of furniture that I've lost count...of course, as I'm British, I apologize to each of them...and each, in return, has left its own indelible mark.
The only thing to take comfort in...and I'm stepping (warily, and in the knowledge that I'll probably bump into something) into grasping at straws territory here...is that I'm not alone...as shown by Alexa Chung (well, her lower limbs at least) in gorgeous Chanel shoes...accessorized by a fair number of bumps and bruises.
Coming, as I did, from rural Scotland...and average summer temperatures that were downright nippy...I've never managed to fully acclimatize myself to days, like today, when the temperature is in the mid-90's and the heat index is hovering between 100 and 106. One...hundred...and...six...degrees. That's something you see in a cookbook..."simmer, at 106 degrees, for 30 minutes"...not something you actually try and wade through.
In prior years I've attempted to battle my way through the heat...wearing tights and pants...morphing from a cold weather short skirt wearer to a warm weather shroud wearer simply because I'm not a fan of my stems in the cold (metaphorically that is), cruel, light of day...unassisted by a comforting layer of black opaque lycra. But this year, for whatever reason, I've decided to take the plunge. Do I still have as many scuffs and bruises as a 10 year old boy? Yes. Am I still pale enough to worry about people walking behind me yelling "bring out your dead"? Yes, that too. But, as the Walrus said, "the time has come"...and, if my nerve fails, I still have those shapeless pants lurking in my closet somewhere...
As I stood in line at the supermarket I noticed Gwen Stefani's face staring up at me from the July cover of US Elle (okay, I noticed "Good" versus "Evil"...ie a pack of gum and a Twix bar...staring up at me first...but my eye made it over to Gwen eventually). And there...just to the left of her Dennis-the-Menace-meets-high-fashion sweater...were the words "Shopping's Back!...275 of Fall's Must-Haves...Get Them First!"
Now there was a long-ish line behind me so I didn't have time to delve into the exact nature of all these items that I'm supposed to do battle for so that I can "Get Them First!"...though, I have to admit, even if the aisle had been empty I probably wouldn't have looked as I was still musing on the the announcement that "Shopping's Back!"
From a personal standpoint I can say that it never completely went away...I cut back...I waged mental battles about whether skirt A was better value (worked with more items currently in my closet, well made, had some promise of longevity) than skirt B...I became a frugal version of myself and searched for online coupons like a leprechaun sliding down rainbows...but I never actually stopped shopping.
But, if I had, I know that it would take a lot more than an exhortation on the cover of Elle to get me handing over my credit card again. I get it...designers are going out of business...stores aren't making any sales (or, to be precise, are having to put things on sale in order for them to sell)...things need to take a positive swing before they get worse...but maybe a couple of the lessons learned from this recession should be competitive pricing for well made goods (no over-priced, shoddy items marked up because they are "designer") and that, as a result of having to be more selective, consumers are now more savvy about being marketed to...a clarion cry of "Buy this!...Now!" simply won't work anymore.
I usually stick with the twin philosophies of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" and "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" but after one official day of summer...and with a decent period of time remaining until Labor Day (otherwise known as "let's get back to black day")...I'm forced to ask if anyone else has noticed the combined evils of an upsurge in the number of people donning white trousers and a complete disregard for what's worn underneath them?
I ask because, in the course of one short walk, I encountered multiple instances of the following...extra-tight pants worn with thongs (absolutely nothing left to the imagination)...and...white pants fighting a losing battle with black underwear.
It is, my friends, clearly going to be a very long summer...
Once again I find myself lusting over something which is forcing me to consider the conceptual problem that I have with reality versus the altered universe where I would wear all of the articles of clothing that I steer clear of in real life. Shorts would inhabit this other-world...as would jumpsuits...and belts.
|Belts like this biker-meets-pro-wrestler number courtesy of Topshop. In mythical fairyland mode I know that it would be a perfect addition to any floaty, summery items in my closet...in reality I know that, much as I love it, if I actually succumb and buy it it will get worn (optimistically) once or twice and then join the "my God, why did I buy this?" pile at the bottom of closet #2.|
"The City of New York is like an enormous citadel, a modern Carcassonne. Walking between the magnificent skyscrapers one feels the presence on the fringe of a howling, raging mob, a mob with empty bellies, a mob unshaven and in rags." - Henry Miller
Just once I'd like to spend a day in a way that didn't involve some kind of ten mile death march...if only because it would open up a few more footwear options. Though, it has to be faced, wandering is what I do...it's in my bones...I just need to accept that (and the fact that all my dresses will be paired with Cons at some point).
Yesterday was spent with my favorite things...Mr. Heb (just visible as a reflection in the blue painting)...art...the city...and an inordinate amount of good food and drink (iced mocha's...warm pain au chocolat...sangria...sugar snap peas with shallots and tarragon...shrimp with large crystals of sea salt clinging to their sides...Manchego cheese and quince paste).
I'm a very happy little Heb...demoralized only by my footwear and the translation of a poem from a Japanese woodblock print from the mid-1700's that I stumbled across in the art gallery...
"Despite all I do
It is of no avail -
My body has grown old;
While the waterfall remains
Unchanged in its appearance."
|I think by now we're all familiar with the concept of perfume that smells like food, drink, dirt, and a plethora of other objects that we know (and even possibly love) in daily life but don't necessarily want to smell like...and while I wasn't exactly on tenterhooks to see where this olfactory trend would go next I suppose you could say that I was curious. Well, regretfully, I have an answer to that burning (pun will become apparent in a few seconds) question.|
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Flame, the scent of...Burger King. To quote from their site..."The Whopper sandwich is America's favorite burger. Flame by BK captures the essence of that love and gives it to you. Behold the scent of seduction, with a hint of flame-broiled meat".
I'd love to say this is the fictitious whim of some advertising exec who fancied a laugh but, no, you can actually buy it...admittedly it's $3.99 (which allows you to realistically set your expectations as to what this will smell like) but it is for sale. My mind is officially boggling...
Anthropologically, I suppose we should be excited that a new human species has been identified. A phenomenon that I discovered after stumbling across, in the space of a two week period, numerous articles, a couple of pictorial guides, and a “how to” video, that all shared a common theme. The subject matter in question, “it’s summer, but a lot of public spaces set their air conditioning on high at this time of year so, have you considered wearing a cardi to keep you warm?”
If I’d only read this advice once or twice I would have dismissed it as one of those summer themes that are dragged out, year after year, to inform those of us who wiped our minds clean between autumn and spring what style of swimwear suits our body shape or that nautical stripes are a summer staple. However after you’ve sat through a three and a half minute video (in the name of scientific research), and gathered little more information than your woolen wonder should fit relatively snugly and can be belted if you want to change things up a little, you begin to wonder if there potentially are a group of people who need this information...
* Charles Darwin
I can't believe that on my last trip to the UK I managed to overlook such a unique oddity as vending machines that sell a pair of ballet flats for five quid...but I did. A piece of fashion tourism that for a confirmed flat lover like myself should have been unmissable...I'm kicking myself (though in a different pair of shoes, of course).
The concept behind the machines is so simple that it's hard to believe that no one's done it before...vending machines, loaded with shoes, are placed in clubs...ready for that point in the evening when you have danced your little heart out...and the shoes that you left your house in have been transformed into instruments of torture...hobble to said vending machine...insert your fiver...and slip into your new ballet flats. Brilliantly simple.
Though it's not quite the same thing...none of the funfair-like thrill of pressing a button and getting a "present"...I may have to order a pair from their website.
They say that good things come in small packages...in reality, they come in small packages that have been x-rayed, cut open, and searched by the U.S. Government...
|At least, that's what happened with my new "camera cable, iPod, iPod cable, memory stick, and other tech crap that I carry around on a daily basis" bag made its way to me from the UK. Alright technically it's a make-up bag but, as you know by now, the "make-up" that I carry around on a daily basis consists of one lip balm...and even I don't need a bag for that. The miscellaneous cords and cables that lurk in my handbag...melding into a tangled mess with everything else that I have to carry around that day are a different matter...they need to be contained.|
The bag in question? Satin sides...printed with whatever image I wanted...with leather sides and trim. In true "narcissistic blogger" style I chose a picture of myself (hiding behind Prada glasses and gloves). If that doesn't scare would-be cable thieves, nothing will...
"Small debts are like small shot; they are rattling on every side, and can scarcely be escaped without a wound; great debts are like cannon; of loud noise, but little danger" - Samuel Johnson
|I have to say, I am stunned...according to an article on the Financial Times' website, at the end of 2008 Prada had net debt of about €1.1bn ($1.5bn).|
Beautiful though they may be, those Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron designed stores certainly add up...don't they?
|You know how it is...Memorial Day is long gone...the 4th of July is still a few weeks off...you're in the mood for a holiday...so you invent one. Thus, in this new found spirit of nonsensical holiday creation, I give you Vena Cava week! Celebrating this holiday is simple...on Tuesday, you stop by the Gap and pick up one of the printed khaki dresses that they created as part of this year's Gap/CFDA collaboration...then, later in the week, you swing by Vena Cava's sample sale. Cupcakes or some other sugary foodstuff can probably be worked into the celebration at some point...the seasonal libation will, of course, be some kind of cava.|
I realize that a couple of months ago I claimed that I was done with sandal buying...the lack of comfort...the small stones that jump on board like bums leaping on a freight train...the numerous pairs currently lurking in my closet, virtually unworn. And I stand by that...I'm not buying any more pairs...I am, however, allowing myself to drool over these pictures of Christian Louboutin's lipstick red gladiator/espadrille hybrids.
As mother used to say (frequently during my childhood), "you can look...just don't touch!"
He can behold
That have not yet been wholly told,--
Have not been wholly sung nor said.
For his thought, that never stops,
Follows the water-drops
Down to the graves of the dead,
Down through chasms and gulfs profound,
To the dreary fountain-head
Of lakes and rivers under ground;
And sees them, when the rain is done,
On the bridge of colors seven
Climbing up once more to heaven,
Opposite the setting sun.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Once you can accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing which is something, wearing stripes with plaid is easy." - Albert Einstein
In an attempt to simplify summer dressing I seem to have ended up with a wardrobe of plain, dark colors and three patterns (stripes, floral, and plaid)...not that I'm complaining...this particular triumvirate fall under the heading of "non-stodgy classics that I'm perfectly happy to wear every single day either separately or in a humongous pattern clash" (NSCTIPHTWESDESOIAHPC for short)...I just found myself casting lustful glances at American Apparel's translucent plaid tee and wondering if it could be argued that I need another piece of plaid in my life.
|It's the old story...you have a good friend...with whom you fall out of touch (not your fault, nor hers either, these things just happen)...a few years go by and you meet again...within five minutes you realize that a) she's the same and b) she's completely different.|
Such were my thoughts as I looked at some pictures from Phoebe Philo's debut collection for Celine (2010 resort for those playing at home) on Style.com...you still recognize the cool girl that you knew at Chloe...but in the intervening years she's become an equally cool, though more grown-up, woman. The friendship remains...but there'll be that awkward few minutes of guilt on each side...followed by a lot of catching up.
|In general, fashion is the battle of need versus want. Does anyone need a pair of 18k gold safety pin earrings embellished with pavé black diamonds? Well, no. But, speaking as someone whose schizophrenia embraces both luxury and punk, I'd certainly like to have them...|
There's a certain 1930's, arts and crafts, tribal elegance to Jamin Puech's Izia clutch...it would be equally at home resting on a coffee table as a piece of objet d'art as it would being carried around as a bag. A statement which, sadly, is a pretty accurate reflection of my prior history with Jamin Puech's bags...I love them...their creativity and attention to detail amazes me...but I get more of a thrill from looking at them than from actually putting them to their intended use (as proved by the JP bag which has been residing in my closet, or on my walls, for the last seven or eight years...unworn, but not unloved).