Friday, April 4, 2014

The Words of Diana Vreeland

I'm a great believer in vulgarity - if it's got vitality. A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste - it's hearty, it's healthy, it's physical. I think we could use more of it. NO taste is what I'm against.

One of the many reasons I love her. She had a flamboyant sense of style and was a fashion icon and style maker for decades. Her memoir D.V. is as lively and fascinating as she was and the new DVD about her life, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel is what I watch when I'm feeling devoid of inspiration. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Seattle Food: Bodrum Bistro

Since moving to Seattle we've been staying close to our neighborhood and exploring its restaurants. Saturday night we went to Bodrum Bistro, a tiny restaurant where two smiling women were in the back room, working a grill and managing to turn out delicious Turkish food in a small amount of space. It turns out Bodrum is the area in Turkey where the family is from. The menu is small and the food simple, but everything is so fresh and the spices so carefully done it tastes marvelous.

While we watched from the front window it rained with apocalyptic force causing people to run by with anything they could find clutched over their heads. It looked horrible—cold and drenching—but inside it was warm and cozy with lighting coming from filigree hanging lamps. Our waitress graciously endured J’s mangled Turkish pronunciations of our order and later, when I had baklava for dessert (of course!) educated him about Turkish coffee. It comes in the teeniest cup but has the sugar already whipped into it (so don’t ask for sugar) and packs a caffeine punch.

 We shared this Mezze platter—a combination of four of the appetizers on the menu: red lentil patties, rice with tomatoes, mint and cinnamon wrapped in grape leaves; white beans with red onion, fresh yogurt, paprika and parsley; and grilled eggplant with tomatoes, peppers, feta, and garlic.

My entrée: chicken with pine nuts, leeks, and currants, wrapped in phyllo dough. Tender and delicious.

J had spiced, grilled meatballs with rice and a yogurt mint sauce. We both had the salad which had this marvelous slightly sweet dressing on it.

The famous Turkish coffee

Friday, March 28, 2014

Has Spring Sprung?

The first day of spring was last week and while I know that’s a cruel joke for some of you as you’re still getting snow. Here in Seattle it is hit or miss- gorgeous and sunny some days and some days overcast with a bite. Still, I have my own gauges for spring and here’s what I’m seeing to make me think it’s here.

Strappy high-heeled, and sexy sandals

Massive shrubs of camellias in a rainbow of colors

Cute, fun, practical, and pink (of course!) sneakers

Gorgeous pink blooms that fill the air when the wind blows making it feel like you've just gotten married.

Floral accessories (Tory Burch bag)

Sweet shy narcissus with their graceful bowing heads

Crisp white shirts (even if they are tucked into an impossibly short skirt- which is cute- worn by an anorexic model)

What makes you think of spring?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

L'Wren Scott

Last week the fashion world was shocked by the suicide of L’Wren Scott, a U.S. designer noted for her body-conscious designs. For me, it was the fact that while her clothes were often form fitting they were constructed for real women with curves—not teeny tiny models with dead eyes.
 It’s been reported that her company was almost $6 million dollars in debt and that may have been a factor in her death. Whatever the reason, she was a woman of taste and refinement and will be missed. Scott’s Paris apartment:

Some of my favorite pieces from her 2012 Spring line:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Seattle: Sellers' Dream, Buyers' Nightmare

So here we are in Seattle—a fun town with a healthy diverse economy. All good unless you’re looking to buy a home. We've gone from a housing market in Portland where you stand to lose $30,000 to $80,000 when you sell your home and where initial offers to buy a home are 25% percent below the asking price is the norm to an alternate universe where the process goes like this:

1. List house on Wed or Thurs, begin private showings
2. Open house 3 hours each on Sat and Sun.
3. There is a review period, which is when all buyers' offers must be submitted (generally the Tues after listed). There is no preference given for first offer made. Bids with a pre-inspection attached are standard. All cash offers get top priority.
4. Bids below asking price will not be considered.
5. Offers reviewed, and if necessary "escalation clauses" invoked (i.e. keep increasing your bid by $10,000 until you're the winner)
6. House goes to Pending status one week (or less) after being listed.

You think I’m exaggerating, right? No, for once I'm not. And it’s not just a matter of insane asking prices- people are getting them. Since we've started looking our realtor has tracked the homes we've seen that have sold and closed and, on average they're selling for $20,000 to $50,000 over the asking price. All this is leaving my poor brain reeling, so I have to ask:

Anyone else live somewhere with a booming housing market? Does this sound familiar to you?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Around Seattle: Chocolati Cafe

It has been a gruesome winter for friends across the United States and for some it’s still going on. Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve also had our share of wild weather—if only because it’s been so unpredictable. Thankfully, there was only snow once (but everyone in Seattle freaked out anyway) but we’ve gone from balmy days when the temps rise and people start walking around in shorts to frigid and raining the next day. What does this mean? It means that on that on those dreary days there is nothing better than a steaming, rich, velvety cup of hot chocolate and I know just the place: Chocolati Café here in Wallingford. If I haven’t already mentioned it Wallingford is the charming (if a bit gritty) urban neighborhood where we’re renting a house for the time being. What continues to amaze both J and me is that within a radius of 10 blocks we have a grocery store, drugstore, dry cleaners, library, restaurants, and the post office. There is truly no need to drive and, for the most part, I don’t. When you add a café that specializes in chocolate, then, really, why would you ever leave?

One of my new favorite hangout on rainy days- they're always welcoming!
image courtesy of Richie D.

So many options! If you don't want chocolate, they have amazing coffee options as well.

Don't even ask- they're all handmade and range from coconut rum almond to sea salt caramel dark chocolate.

Not a chocolate fan? First of all, what's wrong with you but secondly, they have wonderful shortbread and other varieties of cookies.

Do you have any favorite hangouts when the weather is crummy?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Moving On: Seattle

After having been gone for almost a year and having proved myself to be such a lackadaisical proprietor, it is asking a lot to hope that anyone will return to this poor blog. Which is why I was pandering and jumped back into the fray with one of our culture's most overdone and self-congratulatory nights—the Oscars. Finding something snarky to write about this event was like shooting sequined, over-siliconed fish in a barrel and I managed to get a whole week out of it. 

But now it’s time to get caught up. I've apologized (sort of) for having disappeared for almost a year. I’d love to say it was exotic foreign travel that kept me away but the circumstances were much more banal and much less entertaining. Basically, my unemployment infected my husband and the company he worked for went belly up. That left me with a choking depression and an increase in all the stupid illnesses that are exacerbated by stress but it did give us a chance to reconnect in a way that is hard to do when you're both working full time.

Thankfully, J is a strong, brilliant, and responsible man and was fortunate enough (in this economy) to find a company who recognized his value. The only downside? Not a company in Portland. Mostly because there are not a lot of companies hiring in Portland. It's a fun city for retirees, trust fund babies, and the young, who are happy to work "little" jobs (waitress, bartender). J's new job was in Seattle, which was a more palatable destination than some of the other places he interviewed—Syracuse for one. Our biggest problems would be selling our house in market that has yet to recover from the housing bubble and, as we were to discover, trying to find housing in a market with a booming economy and a limited supply of housing. That is a post on its own but for now, I’m back and going to do my best to stay in touch and will, of course, be happy to hear from all of you!

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