Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Las Vegas Weekend

Last weekend was spent in Las Vegas for a library conference (trust me, librarians can tear it up like nobody’s business) and despite heat over 105˚ every day it was interesting to be back—after having been gone for a decade. Despite the recession, tearing its housing market to shreds Vegas is still a city that knows how to put on a show.
Some of my favorite window shopping (because no way can I afford anything in any of these shops):
 This is H&M, Las Vegas style. The music and lights were brighter and louder than most nightclubs, but it was energizing. Probably the only store on the entire strip where I could shop.
Home of the ubiquitous red soled shoes. Owning a pair is on my bucket list even is they cost a mortgage payment.

Trendy, chic fashion. Clothes and designers you won't find anywhere else.
 L.K. Bennett is best known for making the nude pumps that Kate Middleton made famous because they go with everything. Now, they have stores and I want to shop there simply because the Duchess of Cambridge does.

Carolina Herrera is on of my all-time favorite designers because her looks are timeless- just like this gorgeous dress in the window. Classy lady, classy clothes.
Yes, you're in the middle of a desert but you'd never know it by the abundance of water features and flowers. I know it is a wicked waste of a dwindling resource but it is beautiful for the eyes.
These floral balls are absolutely exquisite and perfume the walks of the Wynn hotel. Decadent to the extreme, they're replaced every day. I would still like to have them in my backyard.

Massive mosaic pool with fountains at the lower level of shops in Caesar's Forum.

A little bit difficult to see but this a wall of water that flows into a reflecting pool at the Wynn hotel. The sound is delicious and the water makes it possible to sit in the outdoor patio without melting.
 Whimsical ceiling painting and ornate light fixtures at Wynn.

Yes, I love the shopping and extravagance but let's not forget the food! Las Vegas now hosts some of the finest restaurants in the United States. We opted to return to an old favorite- Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. This is the fresh corn tamale (the masa is handmade) with grilled tiger shrimp and a garlic cream cilantro sauce.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Met Gala 2014

Look I’m not interested in being one of those blogs that revels in bitchery but when a fashion event goes as far off the rails as the Met Gala did last week than I have to jump in. And usually, when I do, I try and mix the good with the ugly but this year it was all I could do not to pluck out my eyes.

Setting aside that Beyonce had just witnessed her sister try and beat down her husband in an elevator, there is still no excuse for this underwear covered by a sheer sparkly wrap look. And Naomi Watts has no excuse at all. This is diaper couture and adding meticulously layered bits of ombre chiffon doesn't make it any better.

This is the sheer maxi-skirt for the younger, hipper set and honestly, it's not the overlay that's the problem here, it's the mash-up of pattern and texture. Kristen Stewart, in all her awkward I-don't-want-to-be-here posing has chosen a skirt length that is just that- awkward. Shailene Woodley's embroidered silk overlay is lovely but the Game of Thrones feel to the top does nothing for her skin tone or figure.

I see a slip covered with a fishing net studded with feathered fishing lures. Why Prada thought this was the best way to showcase the beauty of Lupita Nyong'o is beyond me.

Fashion 101: horizontal stripes do not work on anyone. Trying to disguise them with a multi-hued effect and feathering of the fabric only makes this look like a craft project. The fact that this is Chanel makes me really sad.

Oh, Rodarte, really? You are usually so attuned to women's figures- what happened here? A hip length, frilly tier and bunchy, fussy top are just, well...unfortunate.

I respect Lena Dunham so much for her belief in herself and her refusal to play the shame game but, honestly, for big red carpet events someone needs to step in and style her. This is not a style to flatter her figure and her hair...she's so much better than this.

I am rendered almost speechless by this but then that would be no fun. Katie Holmes has spent years perfecting a style that gets her on best-dressed lists around the world but this, this, this is shockingly dreadful. The slightly crazed look in her eyes doesn't help.

In case, you don't recognize her under her vintage mop cap this is Kate Upton, widely acknowledged as the hottest model in the world and undisputed favorite in the Victoria Secret's runway shows. There have certainly been times when I've been jealous of her looks and figure but this is definitely not one of them. In fact, I'm willing to bet that the girl whose prom date she stole in high school styled this look for her.

On the brighter side, she wins for most heinous look of the evening.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Aspire: Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn in all her timeless perfection.
from Special Photographer by Leo Fuchs
Let's get it out there now- I idolize her. She is the epitome of class and style and there will likely be more photos of her to come because I have never seen one that I did not think was breathtaking So get over it because you know I'm right. 
Happy birthday, Audrey- you are missed to this day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Loganberry Books in Cleveland

Earlier this week I was in Cleveland and had the great fortune to visit Loganberry Books in the Shaker Heights neighborhood. I’m fortunate to have a sister-in-law who knows bookstores are one of my favorite destinations in any city so she insisted we stop by.
Loganberry Books is one of those marvelous stores where the front windows cannot convey just how much depth lies within. Not just the size of the store but the experience as well. That and the creative energy that goes into making the space a special and inviting one for books and the people who love them, makes this a marvelous place to browse, read, and buy. If you're in Cleveland, you've got to stop by this wonderful, friendly store! 

The floor to ceiling book shelves are set off by lovely and comfortable seating and tables with displays on various subjects. 



Numerous smaller displays are scattered throughout the store:

 Edward Gorey Books

A selection of poetry books
Not in the mood for company? A quiet, plush chair and lovely local art- all alone in the back

The sleeping cat endorsement: Nothing says books and relaxation better than a happy cat!
 I loved Loganberry Books but if you can't make it to Cleveland for a visit, and you're lucky enough to have an independent bookstore in your area PLEASE support them. They support authors and the community with events and programs and very often offer the same amenities as those found at the big guys online (who shall remain nameless). Buy local!

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: http://inside-outpdx.blogspot.com/2012/05/lwren-scott-in-paris.html

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!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tell Me, Google Maps: Where is My Brain?

Last month I stayed in a hotel and on my first night, as I prepared for bed, I put toothpaste on my travel brush, ran it under the faucet, put it in my mouth and stood there. Stood there waiting for my SonicCare toothbrush to spring into action and not only brush my teeth in a way that “removes” more plaque but, more importantly, tells me, an adult, when one section of my teeth are finished and when to move on to the next area. It was probably a full 15 seconds before I realized I was on my own. I managed to do the job and do it for every night but when I arrived home I brushed my teeth immediately, because God knows how much damage I had done on my own.

Similarly, I recently yelled at my car’s dash when my severely outdated GPS told me to go down a road that is now closed for construction. And I don’t mean raised my voice. I mean screeched and came close to pulling over and abandoning the car because how the hell was I going to get somewhere without a cultured British woman telling me when to turn. Even a GPS is so old-school. Now I sue Google maps on my iPhone and a pert American girl tells me where to go (wait, that doesn't sound right). 

Also, I’m stymied by those spiky metal things people keep on key chains to start their cars. All I do is walk towards mine and once inside push a button.

It was at this point that I realized things have gone too far. Gadgets are wonderful and they make so much of life easier but where is my brain? If asked a phone number I turn to my iPhone. I do NOT know my husband’s phone number. Lists and reminders of any kind are on my Evernote app (greatest thing EVER), my ipad holds books (but don’t worry, I still read the real kind most often). Spelling? Who cares—autocorrect is everywearwhere.

I’m not going to claim ownership of this term but there is now talk (give me a minute and I’ll find it on Google, I can’t remember) of the externalized brain. In short, more and more of our knowledge is kept outside our mind. The days when someone could quote Shakespeare or recite a favorite poem? Long gone. Remember lyrics to a song? Why? I can look them up online. This state of affairs has been exacerbated by living in Oregon where even other humans are robbing me of the few mental processing skills I have left. In Oregon there are people who pump your gas. Yes, just like in the 1950s, Oregon is one of only three states that have gas station attendants. This means that, again, while traveling in my car (in the state of Washington), I needed to fill it with gas and have apparently forgotten how to do so. As evidenced by the fact that I pulled the nozzle out without releasing the handle and spilled an estimated $15.00 of gasoline onto my jeans and sneakers.

While convenience is a lovely thing what exactly is now taking up the space in my brain that used to know how to do so much?

How about you? What technology is your best frenemy?

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