I’m a sloppy baker, and my cakes taste crap. But, they sure do look pretty. If I could bypass the baking and focus my energy on frosting, fondant, flowers and dragée, I’d be very pleased. Here’s my idea of a beautiful cake, and here too, and here and here and here. I don’t care how they taste, they look divine!
In the lead up to Easter we fasted, and by fasted, I mean we ate french fries, and lots of them. Some people, old people, kept a strict vegan diet for weeks before Easter, but we kids only did it for a few days. The lambada -– the candle given to a child by her godparents –– was a big deal and every year we waited to see what trinkets and charms it would be adorned with. It’s one of the most beautiful images, the sea of children at midnight mass, their faces illuminated by candle light. That, and the epitaphio, a coffin covered in hundreds of flowers, that is carried through the village and sent out to sea. We stayed up way past midnight cracking red eggs, eating Kokoretzi and reveling in the light and music of the panigiri. I’m a million miles away from all that, but this weekend, there will be red eggs, there will be tsoureki and there will be lamb on the barbeque.
Last summer, I surprised myself by buying a pair of red leather sandals designed by someone who embraces the elms and cuddles the chestnuts. They were tree huggy, for sure, and I adored them. My feet were covered in braided tan lines and by the end of August there was little left of the soles. If I could find them again, I’d snap up a pair in a second. The runner-up could be these Colombian crocheted lace-ups. I doubt they’d last beyond one summer either, but with the distances I walk, is there a shoe that could?
I spent this evening trolling through the homes of the movers, makers and creators spotlighted on the The Socialite Family. The spaces (and the people who live in them) are original and cool, for sure, but it’s not all glossy and glowey like some other voyeuristic sites. I loved the living room at Delphine de Canecaude’s home, and the rooms in the home (in a former school near the city of Nantes) Aurelie Lecuyer shares with her husband and children are just charming. It’s aspirational trolling, yes, but there are lots of ideas to bring home.
Switching up the throw pillows is the easiest (and cheapest) way to change the look of a room. Mine are in constant rotation. I was looking at the cushions on our sofa yesterday and imagining three new ones in Schiaperelli pink felt. But then I saw these huipil pillows, made from traditional Guatemalan blouses and I was off to the Chichi market. In my head at, least. They’ll look fabulous, I’m sure. The question is how many to buy?
I’m a big fan of brass hardware, especially in simple, utilitarian spaces. I think it adds a touch of romance. “Brass equals warmth, English clubbiness, Moroccan craft and Italian mid-century fantasy,” says designer Jonathan Adler, known for his whimsical brass objects, tables, lamps and chandeliers. Brass has a rich and eclectic past, and set against a modern tub or kitchen sink, it speaks to tradition, luxury and timelessness. I’m not one for baths, but I could happily hang out in this one. Now, hand me a glass of champagne and pair of goggles.
It’s hard to imagine The Queen as a little girl in smocked, frilly dresses, or as a quiet teenager flirting with a boisterous young Philip, or as an 18-year-old truck mechanic in WW1. It’s hard to imagine her as anything other than an elderly lady with white curls, pastel hats and her signature Launer handbags. In celebration of The Queen’s 90th birthday I choose this image, shot by photographer Lisa Sheridan, of a young, modern Princess Elizabeth sitting at her desk at Buckingham Palace in 1946. “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service,” she said in Cape Town a year later. Here’s to a long, devoted, formidable life. Happy Birthday, Ma’am.
I’ve been thinking about impermanence in art lately, ephemeral creations like sandcastles, mandala and flower carpets that exist only for an hour, for a day or for a few weeks. It’s sort of heartbreaking to think of a person pouring so much heart, sweat and gut into an art installation that lasts a month. But the concept, the process, the triumph of completion and the hope and promise of what comes next can all be so richly fulfilling. Christo, the Bulgarian artist who creates huge scale environmental works of art has said that wrapping an object, much like losing a loved one, (his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude died suddenly in 2009) can vividly reveal the transience of our own existence: “Our projects attract people who come there to see something about which they can say, ‘I saw it, and if you don’t see it, it will never happen again. Tomorrow it will be gone forever, like our lives.’ ”
I’m always amazed at how powerful animation can be. Story Corps is an independent nonprofit organization with a goal to celebrate the lives of everyday Americans through storytelling. For people sharing stories, animation provides a layer of anonymity which can help them feel comfortable talking about sensitive and emotional issues and events. I have yet to watch Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s, interviewing his mother, Sarah without welling up when he asks her, “did I turn out to be the son you wanted when I was born, did I meet your expectations?” This one too, in which Danny and Annie reflect on their life together –– from their first date to Danny’s final days with terminal cancer, makes my heart ache. If you have a spare half hour, watch each and every one. They really are wonderful.
I love walking through the Burlington Arcade, and I have no idea how I missed Zoe Bradley‘s huge paper chandeliers when I was in London last summer. Was I too focused on the vintage diamonds to notice? Were my Mum and I so engrossed in our gossip that 1,860 paper flowers in every colour of the rainbow escaped our attention? For a person whose eye darts to the tiniest tourmaline in your left earlobe, and the freckles underneath your chin, I’m amazed and disappointed to have missed these enormous bouquets!