"Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams, Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round." - William Butler Yeats

I love a little fashion DIY...if only because it allows me to do a little creative math when it comes to larger purchases (cue cries of "but look what I saved on item X by making it myself"). Truth be told, though...such is my inherent laziness...that even sourcing the flotsam and jetsam necessary for a specific craft project can sometimes seem like a Herculean task. Which probably explains my enthusiasm for these little bags of joy from dismountcreative...for a mere $10 you have all the paraphernalia necessary to make a Proenza Schouler-esque neon mountaineering rope bracelet...while for $15 you get to try your hand (egad, another pun) at putting together a geode ring.

Let the shopping justification sums commence...



"Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism." - Carl Gustav Jung

Given the abundance of such groups I have to imagine that some sort of self-help community exists for those who cannot resist the seductive charms of the striped top...if not, I need to start one. The latest incarnation that I happened across...the studded striped sweater...initiated one of those Homer Simpson-esque "d'uh" moments...as in "stripes, studs, relatively easy to DIY...why have I not spent a weekend studding my little heart out?"


The thing is...once I track down the right sweater...and order ye olde jumbo bag of studs...that's just what I'm going to do...



"To understand is to perceive patterns" - Isaiah Berlin


Homage to the Square - Josef Albers - 1955


Pierre Fedora - Albertus Swanepoel


"O deck her forth with thy fair fingers" - William Blake, To Spring (1783)

Spring...if I have to step outside and brave the arctic winds and snow flurries...or check the almanac...or try to find any plant hardy enough to tantalize with a little bud action...has not arrived yet.

Spring...if I look at my fingernails...is here. For those ten digits are basking in a Belle de Jour-ish tone from essie's spring collection entitled sand tropez (finally a terrible pun appears on this blog and I am not the perpetrator!) Such a balmy state of euphoria has been induced by this one little bottle of sandy beige goo that I'm tempted to throw caution (and several other things) to the winds and leave my thermal gloves at home...Photobucket


"Coco always borrowed from the boys" - Karl Lagerfeld

If you look under the letter S in Sir Hardy Amies' classic tome "ABC of Men's Fashion" you will find (somewhat unsurprisingly I admit) the heading "Shirt". Dig a little deeper and you'll uncover the information that said shirt "is the most important garment in a man's complete costume after the suit. The rough surface of the wool of the suit relies on the smooth cool fabric of the shirt to provide a contrast...such contrasts of texture play an important part in the achievement of a pleasing appearance."Photobucket
A thought that could apply equally well to this little item from Carven...the striped cotton poplin has the quiet sobriety of a classic men's shirt...whilst the twisting and draping carries a slight suggestion of rumpled bed linen and afternoon dalliance (in a sweet, Audrey Hepburn, Love in the Afternoon kind of way)...woolen suit jacket, optional.


"Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty." - Anne Herbert

Sienna Miller's mother...in Paris...in the 1970's

Behind the scenes...L'Wren Scott's Fall/Winter 2011 collection

A detail from Marchesa's Fall/Winter 2011 collection


"Too many people today know the price of everything and the value of nothing." - Ann Landers

The lure was a weekend of tax-free shopping in a state whose taxes make you blink...shudder...and long for a stiff drink before contemplating any major purchases.

The unexpected interest was provided by a floor-length khaki skirt...exuding casual elegance from the window of Michael Kors. A skirt that I fondly imagined wearing whilst bumming around in the summer...or for work (on days when it wasn't raining and I wouldn't have to worry about cleaning the streets every time I took a step).

The letdown arrived at the moment the sales assistant informed me that the skirt retailed for $2,300.

I am now...somewhat optimistically...searching for something equally dressy-casual...that doesn't accessorize with the threat of penury.



"New York is a granite beehive, where people jostle and whir like molecules in an overheated jar. Houston is six suburbs in search of a center." - Nigel Goslin

Reminiscences from Houston...1) hanging off your hotel balcony, whilst clasping a camera, can produce some very Jacques Tati-homage-worthy results...

...and 2) the combination of Hermès, strip-mall, and plastic banner proclaiming that said Hermès is "open during redevelopment" is enough to send you hurtling over the balcony in the first place...



"The Dodo never had a chance. He seems to have been invented for the sole purpose of becoming extinct and that was all he was good for." - Will Cuppy

Is it a bad sign when you contemplate buying a new piece of technology purely on the basis of the impractical housing that you found for said n.p.o.t.? Scratch that question...amend it to "How bad a sign is it when...?"

Yet, here I sit, pondering an iPad...or, more specifically, the DODOcase which would cover it. Made using traditional book binding techniques it embraces the techie/luddite mix that I'm so partial to...while, at the same time, enabling me to look like I'm actually reading a book and not watching a classic episode of Scooby Doo or playing video games. Perfect for potentially embarrassing moments when you're killing time but don't want everyone to know what you're doing (voice of experience talking...I was once identified by a hitherto unknown client as "the girl who was watching cartoons at Dulles International airport").



"Life is a yo-yo, and mankind ties knots in the string" - unknown

I read a story once...set back in the day when a dinner party was the sort of formal, stuffy boy-girl-boy-girl seating kind of affair that placed loved ones as far as possible from each other and virtual strangers side-by-side. The male protagonist, in an attempt to understand just how socially sticky the impending meal was going to be, turned to his neighbor and asked, "Do you like string?"

A firm "No" stopped the conversation dead..."Yes" had the potential to be disturbing...whilst the answer "It depends what kind of string" suggested that the conversational ball might be kept rolling through the fish course.

I'm not sure what it says about my merit as a dinner part guest but if the question was posed to me today I'd have to say "In necklace form, definitely"...for recently I've been finding myself ogling rope-y jewelery like an overly enthusiastic boy scout tried to go for two badges at the same time. The first was Madewell's brass and rope combo earlier this week...today, it's the similar (though much pricier) model from Philip Lim. Truth be told, the cheaper charms of the metal rope wield the most charm in this instance, but I have the feeling that there'll be more twisted twine tales coming soon...Photobucket


"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me, And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves, And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter" - Jenny Joseph

Of all the problems that you face coming out of winter...dry, pale skin...that feeling of cabin fever that's impossible to shake...or the few extra pounds the accumulated courtesy of your reclusive lifestyle...there's one that doesn't get a lot of press...gloves.

That's right, gloves...because, after a winter of having to wear gloves to avoid hypothermia, it's hard to muster the enthusiasm to want to wear spring gloves...no matter how pretty they are...even these beauties in buttersoft violet and camel kidskin.



"How happily extremes do meet in Jane and Ebenezer: She's no longer sour, but sweet, and he a lemon squeezer" - unknown

Friends, you are looking at a woman who has had a little bit of an epiphany. For years, I've rarely been able to muster more than marginal interest for the seasonal event commonly referred to as spring cleaning. It was a chore...it had to be done...but it wasn't something that I looked forward to.

This year however, an exploration into the deepest, darkest recesses of a particularly hard to reach kitchen cabinet yielded a couple of (drum roll, please)...


Vintage Italian lemon squeezers...perfectly designed little utensils that I fondly remember my mother adding to the general assemblage of knives, forks, and picks whenever we cracked a crab or did unseemly things to a lobster. I haven't seen any single slice juicers since...and imagined, as is usually the case, that these had been mislaid at some point...never to be heard from again.

And so, I'm a convert to the religion of the seasonal clean. One small step for Hebden-kind...one worrying development for all seafood...



"To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written" - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My final anti-cupid suggestion isn't quite a love letter...more a sentence...a sprinkling of words...a banner statement, if you will...

Though...in an attempt to prove that I'm not a complete curmudgeon when it comes to the under-dressed child with the bow and arrow...I'm including a rather sweet rendition of Never Tear Us Apart with today's post...


"It is of great use to the sailor to know the length of his line, though he cannot with it fathom all the depths of the ocean." - John Locke

Chalk this up to the "wishful thinking" category because, unlikely as it may seem at this precise moment, summer will come. And when it does, a natty little nautical rope/un-rope necklace will be the perfect accessory.Photobucket


"The English language has a deceptive air of simplicity; so have some little frocks; but they are both not the kind of thing you can run up in half an hour with a machine." - unknown

I'm going to warn you now...before you click through and start to hyperventilate at the price tag...that this particular denim dress is one of those deceptively simple little suckers that manage both casual and "hey look ma, I made an effort" extremely well...at, as I say, a price (not quite of the "far above rubies" category, it's true, but still enough to make you wince).

Which raises the eternal question...why is simple rarely easy?


"Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold -- but so does a hard-boiled egg." - unknown

The eggs are angry...and here was me thinking it was just the birds (sorry, couldn't resist a little geek humor). I'm trying to rationalize adding this little guy to my kitchen cabinets but given that a) I'm still cleansing with a vaguely evangelical fervor...b) I didn't exactly live on boiled eggs pre-cleanse...and c) even when I do imbibe on the odd b.e. it's generally within the confines of my own home (apart from the occasional picnic, that is).

Darn it, I think I just talked myself out of the angry egg container...


"Anyone can hate. It costs to love." - John Williamson

As if the built in pressure of having a valentine...keeping a valentine...or not falling into a sugar coma thanks to all the V-day candy...wasn't enough, you come across something like this that removes all subtlety and leaves the indelible impression that (right about the moment you hand over your carefully selected...or possibly even (gasp) homemade...offering to your beloved)...the main thought going through their mind is..."What, you only spent $100? I guess you don't like me that much..."



"Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" - Henry IV Part II

Sometimes, I have to admit, the Hebden heart gets a little overwhelmed with homesickness...missing random things like pubs, tomato ketchup crisps, M&S, and all those other little odds and sods that make Britain what it is. Then I see something like these...and think of the avalanche of God awful souvenirs celebrating the upcoming royal wedding that I'm (thankfully) managing to avoid...

I'll quote a spokesperson for the company...because, quite frankly, I couldn't make this stuff up..."Crown Jewels Royal Wedding Souvenir prophylactics are a unique way to remember this great British occasion. All at Crown Jewels have worked tirelessly to craft these heirloom quality love sheaths. In years to come, they will be a timeless memento of a magical wedding day."

I'm not sure what's worse...the term "love sheath"...or the thought that 30 years from now someone is going to pull a rather wizened box of condoms out of their display cabinet to show to the grand kids.


"A mere trifle consoles us for a mere trifle distresses us." - Blaise Pascal

Some people, apparently effortlessly, manage to look polished and ladylike on almost every occasion. They’re the ones that would make a garbage bag look good…or its sartorial equivalent, the bridesmaid dress. Others, myself included, rarely manage polished…and, on the rare occasion that the stars align, are guaranteed to be the victim of a random gust of wind (or snagged pair of stockings) that will make them look like they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards within about 5 seconds of leaving the house.

With this in mind, my personal preference is to go the jolie laide route by choice. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade…when life is going to make you a little tousled and rumpled, go for the disheveled look on purpose. Which is why, when faced with the prim perfection of yesterday’s pleated jersey skirt my automatic response is to reach for a pair of DKNY distressed tights.



"I never cared for fashion much, amusing little seams and witty little pleats: it was the girls I liked." - David Bailey

Do you remember in the A-Team…when, thanks to a fortuitous combination of luck and lead piping, everything ends well (if a little explosively)…and George Peppard (aka Hannibal Smith) turns to the camera and says “I love it when a plan comes together”? Well, I just had an A-Team moment…with a skirt. No lead piping was involved, but there was a lot of luck.

Exhibit A…is Zucca’s pleated jersey skirt…which caught my eye as I was browsing the latest additions to La Garconne’s offerings…but was crossed off all my mental shopping lists (except the “wait till it goes on sale for 90% off”) because it was simply too expensive.

Exhibit B…a remarkably similar skirt than I found on a sale rack at Zara in Houston…for $9.99 (one of the few times that a business trip has provided the luxury of free time and a mall within walking distance).


Cue explosions…the lighting of a short, stubby, cigar…and…”I love it when a plan comes together”…


"Aurora now, fair daughter of the dawn, Sprinkled with rosy light the dewy lawn." - Alexander Pope

Much as I dislike succumbing too easily to advertising's lures...(yes, I realize how silly it sounds when someone who is a consumer with a capital "C" say it but, much like the lady of slightly questionable virtue, I like to be woo-ed and not give in too easily)...Julianne Moore, in her latest role as spokesperson for Talbots, is definitely piquing my interest.

I realize that the glowing hues of Mert and Marcus' photographs are causing me to view everything through rose colored glasses...that I've never ventured into a Talbots previously...and that I'll probably be disappointed when aforementioned glasses are removed and stark reality moves to the foreground...but how do you resist something that looks as perfect as this?



"All sin tends to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation" - W. H. Auden

Poor Mr. Creosote had an addiction...I can empathize. He thought one more indulgence couldn't hurt him...and though he was wrong, I can sympathize. There, however, we part ways...for whilst his Achilles heel was gastronomical in nature...mine is more of the striped variety.

Yes, that's right...my quest to find the perfect striped top has caused me to welcome one more example into my heart...and closet. This version...a slightly looser, linen-y, little number...with sleeves that can be buttoned at half mast...is from J Crew. Lightweight and perfect for summer, as Mr. Creosote would say "it is wafer thin".



"The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid" - Claudia Lady Bird Johnson

You may...at least if you've been web wandering around the same sites as I have...have been reading quite a bit about spring's "turban trend" recently. You've probably been assured (in 500 words or less) that a turban will make you appear sophisticated...exotic...a woman of the world. Up until a couple of months ago I may have fallen for all the rhetoric. Of course, that was before I bought a knitted turban beanie...though, let's face it, the unlikely juxtaposition of beanie and turban should have alerted me to potential problems.

The t.b. arrived...and was beautifully soft. I could even...in those first, few, heady days...think of it as vaguely soignée. Then I wore it out with Mr. Heb, who...after a few covert, yet startled, glances...asked why I'd wrapped a scarf around my head (aka the question that makes you realize that fantasy and reality are two separate worlds).



The Killer Inside...

Another V-day gift suggestion for those of us who fall under the "bah humbug" school of thought...this time, a little something for the fiscally prudent cynic...a Love is a Killer credit card holder...



"The urgent snow is everywhere" - Edna St. Vincent Millay

No hawk hangs over in this air:
The urgent snow is everywhere.
The wing adroiter than a sail
Must lean away from such a gale,
Abandoning its straight intent,
Or else expose tough ligament
And tender flesh to what before
Meant dampened feathers, nothing more.
Forceless upon our backs there fall
Infrequent flakes hexagonal,
Devised in many a curious style
To charm our safety for a while,
Where close to earth like mice we go
Under the horizontal snow.





"Characters of the great Apocalypse...The types and symbols of Eternity...Of first, and last, and midst, and without end." - William Wordsworth

In the midst of what my local news is calling an "extremely dangerous" blizzard...20 inches of snow...60 mph wind gusts...even lightening...there is really only one place to be. At home...in the warm...sitting by the window...watching the snow fall. Oh, alright, you could spend your time with the four horsemen chortling over the weary mortals trying to drive in this mess...or the lunatic who lives near me who tried to use his snow-blower in the midst of a white-out...but it's much nicer to watch the flakes whirl around and the snow inch its way up the other side of the pane.

All to the accompaniment of some vintage television...and a densely scented candle. My current favorite is Archipelagos' Stonehenge...a blend of smoked cedarwood, bergamot, and amber. A heavy, sultry scent that would be too intense in warmer months but envelops you in a scented hug during the colder ones...



Thoughts on life...death...and cheese


The other day...whilst wandering through a local art gallery...I came across the work of Agnes Denes, a Hungarian artist who was one of the pioneers of site-specific installations. Human Dust...created in 1969...is a group of eight gelatin silver prints...and a text. Together they form the life...and death...of a man. All of his hope...dreams...medical history...loves...and travels...are condensed into two paragraphs. Reading it was haunting...beautiful...and depressing (in the way that things which cause you to question "life" can be).


The last two weeks have been ennui inducing on a whole other level...mainly due to the fact that they have featured a distinct lack of taste. I miss chewing...I miss the conviviality of having a meal with someone...I miss (in no particular order) cheese, charcuterie, wine, yogurt, bread, pasta, tomatoes, the list goes on. I know my cleanse is working...I feel better...I look better...and I haven't slept as soundly since I was a teenager...but I'll be glad when it's over. In celebration of which...even though the mere sight of it is going to depress me for the next couple of weeks until this self-imposed abstinence has drawn to a close...a massive hunk of slate made its way home with me. The slate is memories...the scree that you find at the bottom of hills in the north of England...my mother's kitchen floor...solidity...eternity...a home for cheese when I can welcome it into my heart (and intestines) once again.


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