getting fancy: home decor shops in los angeles

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Snapped at Proof Bakery in Atwater Village. Their sandwiches are Nicole Kidman to-die-for levels. 

Last week, I told an old friend that the only way I’m leaving Los Angeles is in a body bag. It’s morbid, but sometimes the extreme makes an impression. Two years ago, I told everyone I knew that I was moving across the country because I wanted physical and geographic space. Part of me wondered if I would love the place I’d always liked visiting. I don’t drive or have a license–will not having a car in a city defined by its freeways and car culture be a problem? (No.) Would I fall into the caricature my east coast friends worried about? (No.) Would I miss the seasons? (No, but I sure do miss the rain.)

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 15 months and my only regret is that I didn’t move here sooner. I spent the first year living on the Westside, in Santa Monica, because I always wanted to live by water. Although it’s a beautiful, walkable city, it’s crazy expensive (think New York rents) and not particularly convenient. I’ve learned that if you don’t live within a 5-mile radius of someone, seeing people can become a challenge, especially when it can sometimes take 2 hours to travel 12 miles. Most of my friends live in mid-city or east, and most of my doctors are in Beverly Hills, so I’d sometimes sit in a car for 45 minutes en route to a check-up. But I digress.

I’ve lived in New York all of my life and its compact, navigable. Once you know New York, you know it, and I’ve become one of my generations that lamented the New York of their childhood. Now, the city feels like a whitewashed episode of a fancy television show–all expensive shops and heels on cobblestone. Even the places in Brooklyn where I knew as a child have become one line of Starbucks, yoga studios, and long-term tourists. I know these are sweeping generalizations, but it’s been hard to see the loss of a city’s character. Soho turned into a shopping mall. Mom and pop shops replaced by H&M. And while L.A. has its own gentrification issues (hello, Downtown?), it seems larger than New York with neighborhoods completely untouched. I think people have a certain impression of L.A. because of West Hollywood, Venice, and Santa Monica, but it’s more than that (god, I sound like an infomercial). There’s so much to see, so much to do. A few months ago, I traveled to The Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena, and I felt as if I was in another country. The museums are incredible, so much so that I became a LACMA member after the Guillermo del Toro exhibit. I’ve seen authors read downtown and in Silverlake. I’ve seen local artist exhibitions so far east it took me 90 minutes to get home, and a new friend of mine composes poems for outdoor operas.  Perhaps everything still feels new and I’m that long-term tourist, but every weekend is a new adventure here, a new village to suss out, new burger joints and taco stands to test out.

Insert segue.

Much of my work this year has revolved around creating visual stories for brands, which is a fancy way of saying I help brands architect and tell their story in a way that doesn’t sound contrived and cuts through the clutter. I only work with brands I believe in and people who view our relationship as a true partnership rather than a vendor assigned a PO, and I’ve been privileged to meet (and learn from) some extraordinarily talented people. I’ve also moved apartments (that cost of living thing), and since I spend a great deal of time at home, working, I want to make the space as inviting as it can be. That means going to flea markets and sales (hello, Pasadena!), as well as visiting some fancy shops to window-shop and sometimes buy items for my client shoots or for my home. I’ve rounded up some of the places I’ve been recently, and know this is an ongoing list since there are far more places to see!

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I found Midland on Instagram, and the carefully curated shop in Culver City lives up to the photographs. The two owners were event planners and after sourcing one-of-a-kind and local artist-created pieces for their clients, they decided to open a shop offering their finds. The shop is small but impeccably edited and styled. You’ll find handmade ceramics and delicate jewelry alongside flowy dresses, hard-to-find perfumes, and soaps, salts, books, toys, and Turkish towels. I tried the perfume snapped above, and I didn’t think it was “me” until I found myself sniffing my rest every few minutes and I decided to go back and pick up a scent that few others have — a mix of tobacco, bourbon, and roses.

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Another shop I found via Instagram was Rolling Greens Nursery, and my god, this place is beautiful. The above shot doesn’t do it justice. Here, you’ll find artists who offer up tailored real and faux arrangements for your home, a vast selection of greenery, as well as an abundant shop of cookbooks, ceramics, perfumes, candles, textiles, and decorations you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. I haven’t had a Christmas tree for most of my adult life, but I started investing in ornaments and seasonal decorations to make my home a little warmer this holiday season (supplementing my finds with tons of great stuff I scored at Target!)

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I’ve only just discovered DTLA Art’s District (perhaps because downtown reminds me of Dumbo and going there hasn’t really been my thing), but one of the greatest spots I found was Guerilla Atelier (above snap)–a cabinet of curiosities. From their website:

Juxtaposing exclusive hand crafted brands with the beauty and rawness of a 1920s warehouse, there is the distinct feeling of being in an intimate old world Paris salon rather than a traditional retail space.

I was privileged enough to meet the charming owner, who loves the macabre as much as I do. He’s stocked the space with well-known and obscure items, and the finest collection of Taschen books I’ve seen. My greatest find was the
Dalí cookbook, which has only recently resurfaced in print. You’ll easily spend an hour paging through their incredible display of coffee table books, each adorned with a glove for browsing pages. 

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If you’re an avid collector of vintage and minimalist furnishings and decor, you will love Hammer & Spear (above three photos). Also located in the Art’s District, but a little out of the way from the slew of shops and open-air markets, you feel a sense of warmth and coziness as soon as you enter the space. While the rich, dark hues just against my predilection for a lighter, cooler palette (I felt as if I needed a smoking jacket and a roaring fire), I loved their collection of writing tools (notebooks, pens, and other accouterments) and I fawned over their uber-pricey rug collection (I don’t think I’d ever spend five figures on a rug but to each their own). I did take home a reindeer hide, which was sustainably sourced from Finland (akin to leather, they used all of the reindeer as opposed to harvesting from farms), as well as a few ceramic mugs for a friend. 

Other favorites in DTLA include Alchemy Works & Poketo (two snaps, below). I just scored The Gentlewoman issue with Zadie Smith on the cover at the Culver City Poketo, and I’m still shaking.

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Possibly one of the fanciest home decor shops I’ve visited was Apartment at The Line (see below for bathroom #goals). Located amidst the trendy, upscales shops on Melrose Place in West Hollywood, the two-room shop perched above street level, styled as an apartment, may burn bonfires in your wallet, but it’ll give you smart home decor ideas. From bath oils, soaps, perfumes and bath and body to modernist furniture and tailored clothing (think Pragmatic, Alexander Wang, etc), if you are a minimalist at heart (raises hand), you will love this space. They have a sale going on, so if you have the cash money, live your life. I’ll be paying down my credit card debt over here.

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Do you have any favorite spots in Los Angeles? Great flea markets and small shops? Let me know as I’m always in the market for discovery. 

los angeles eats lovely living

finally…doughnuts + some happy bits

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For the first time in three months, I had a week where I didn’t want to lie down on the bathroom floor and count the tiles. I consider this progress. I took a few new business calls, cleaned my apartment, submitted a draft manuscript of my new story collection to my agent, I contemplated getting a tree but settled on a string of lights for my patio, read three books, and resumed spending time with old friends + planning new friend dates. Yesterday I went spinning with an old friend and former coworker, and after class, she pulled a doughnut out of her bag and confessed that she got into Santa Monica early just to pick up a Sidecar Doughnut and did I want to stop by for firsts and seconds?

Obviously, we went. And we went hard.

As you know, my love for the doughnut knows no bounds. I remember spending one day on a self-designed doughnut crawl across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and was so cracked out on sugar I was catatonic. And although I can’t go crazy with the gluten (see last year’s plague of burning hives + the steroids that made me hallucinate and vomit into garbage pails in the middle of the night, but I digress), I’ve allowed myself one strong gluten situation a week. It’s usually bread as I’m not into pasta as much as I used to be, and I’m now of the philosophy that if I’m going to hoover a bowl of fettuccine, it better be fresh, homemade, and weep-into-my-bowl good. Yesterday, I savored a cinnamon cake doughnut and made no qualms about accepting free, hot samples, and you need to know that these are the best doughnuts I’ve had in my LIFE. So much so that I’m writing a whole ode to a doughnut joint that has two locations in California.

Real truth.

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I love these doughnuts because they’re yeasty so you’re not getting a heavy cake batter bomb, rather you’re enjoying a light, airy pastry that has a bit of a crunch, but it’s feather-light. The toppings are pretty extraordinary, and the time that my friend and I stopped by in the morning, we saw a guy frying up a huge pan of bacon for one of the doughnut toppings. BLESS. All ingredients are local or organic, and the flavors are thoughtful, ingenious and creative. I tried the huckleberry (with berries straight from Seattle), butter/salt, apple fritter (that tasted like a croissant with an apple caramel glaze!) and a Hawaiian blend that oozed cream.

Tears. If you ever find yourself in Los Angeles, run, don’t walk, to Sidecar. I’m giving you gospel here.

[Cough. Insert segue.]

Tonight I was texting my friend Joanna about our cats and how I tend to abhor home decor books. I used to be into the Shabby Chic aesthetic until I realized I loathe pink and don’t have an interest in frills or antiquing, and most books tend to be poorly written and offer homes/solutions that are unrealistic for my taste and budget. Home decor books occupy a space on my shelf that is barely touched or referenced, and I have a hard time getting rid of my collection because I spent so much damn money on it.

Not so with Anne Sage’s Sage Living. Anne + I have a friend in common, and we’ve traded emails on occasion, but I was really taken with her recent interview–so much so that I paused my home decor book fatwa and ordered her book. Although I couldn’t relate to having the financial support of a family or a spouse (I’ve pretty much been self-sufficient from birth), I do know what it feels like to have your life uprooted and upended and having your art be the thing that pulls you through that dark country. I admired her candor and her willingness to own her privilege, and how she was able to reshape a dark time to create something that would yield joy and a sense of home for others. In her book, she enters rooms across the country and offers a nice cross-section of styles + aesthetics. The owners are not interior designers but people who have made their spaces in a reflection of the lives they desire for themselves. The stories, balanced with Sage’s practical advice, gives the book a warmth and depth that is missing from most home books I’ve encountered. It’s empowered me to revisit my space and re-affirm that it’s my creative sanctuary. It’s re-affirmed my desire for owning nothing extraneous, to only possess only that which is necessary and adored.

On an unrelated note, I snapped this picture next to one of the nine succulents I still own. I’ve been known to kill cacti so the fact that these plants, as well as my floor plant, are still alive is a testament to SOMETHING that’s changed in my life. And sometimes one needs those small reassurances (I’m no longer a cacti killer!) to keep going.

 

 

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book buff california living

a first look at my new los angeles home

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When I first started looking for apartments in Los Angeles, I wanted a house. Years ago, when a rather wealthy friend gave me loan of her summer home in Easton, Connecticut, I remember the first day in her house and running up and down the stairs. Until that day I never knew what it was like to live in a divided home, to have a whole other floor. I never conceived of a place where I wouldn’t hear the strange nocturnal habits of neighbors. I spent weeks trolling listings, and it became nearly impossible to rent one of the enviable bungalow homes without physically being in Los Angeles.

Leasing companies are easier–less fuss, detailed floor plans and apartment videos. I ended up in a great building in Santa Monica, and I chose it for the open floor plan. It doesn’t seem strange to me to have all the varying ways in which I love to create in one place. I make and photograph food in the same room where I build brand plans, read, and write my dark stories. For years I compartmentalized my writing, food, and work, and now they play in the sandbox, harmoniously. One isn’t kicking dirt in other’s face, so to speak.

I wanted to share my new home not because I think it’s Pinterest-worthy (my god, it isn’t), but because it’s the first place where I really feel at home. The light is clean and bright, and during the day it’s beautifully quiet. I left most of my belongings in New York and what you see here was deliberately chosen, emblematic of a lighter, leaner life. The only clutter are my papers and books, and I fervently believe you should share a home lived in. Why wouldn’t you be proud of half-empty cups and pots on the stove? That’s what makes a house a home–what you create and the prints that you leave behind.

As you can see, I spend most of my time in my living room/kitchen space. It’s also where I spent most of my money. My bedroom is downright spare because I only use it for sleeping, and admittedly I don’t know what else to get that would give me joy without creating superfluous clutter. I might get a bookshelf or large woven basket to store magazines and the items you see on the floor. What I do care about is my patio, where I do most of my entertaining (it’s also a space where I have room to dine when friends come over), so I do plan to invest in some proper outdoor furniture (I’m tossing these chairs because I’ve learned that the cost of fixing them would be more expensive than buying new outdoor chairs) and plants when I have the money. I’m done with the shopping, and I’m now focused on paying rent and health insurance.

You may have also noticed that I don’t have anything hammered into my walls. My lease was ODYSSEAN, and there are so many rules in terms of hangings and what not, so I opted to use the shelves leading to my patio for the purposes of showcasing art and framed prints. I’ve one large plant that I have yet to kill (this is a huge leap for me as I’m known in certain circles as a cacti murderer), and I’ve got great storage in my space, which makes for a less messy feel.

If you have any questions on particulars (I bought a TON of new kitchen supplies, of which I love), drop a line in the comments.

Couch: Crate & Barrel
Pillows: Alesouk (covers only; 20×20 inserts must be purchased separately), specially this + this. I just bought these awesome inserts.
Cashmere Throws: Gilt (A&R Cashmere), which feels more like chenille. This one is traditional cashmere.
Handwoven Throw (gold): Sammy of Ethiopia via Lost and Found
Coffee Table: Wayfair (no longer available)
Coffee Tray: CB2
Rug: One Kings Lane
TV Stand: Joss + Main Writing Table (no longer available)
Framed Cookbook Art: Summer Pierre
Bookcases: CB2
Hello Word Sign: West Elm
Side Table: Restoration Hardware (my friend Alex sold this to me for $50!)
Large Sodalite Bookends:One Kings Lane
Utility Carts: Ikea (I’ve two in the kitchen and one in my closet, which serves as a storage for my undergarmets)
Step Stool: Ikea
Serving Platter: Lost and Found (I love it so much I’ve used it four times already)

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home decor

love.life.eat of the week

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1. Sophie Dahl’s exquisite cookbook, Very Fond of Food | 2. Nyl Skincare. Longtime readers of this space know that I love to evangelize small businesses, and I’m privileged to have met the owner of this chemical-free beauty line at one of my consulting gigs. The products are spot-on: the scrubs are fresh and heady with aromatics, the moisturizers are rich and soothing + the serum is my daily salve. As my friend Amber says, get involved | 3. If I were in the market to buy anything accessory-related {I’m not}, I’d acquire this perfect clutch | 4. Yes, these socks are odd-looking, but they seriously work when you’re weeping on a megaformer or pulsing during barre class | 5. Finally, my affection for marble has not abated. I’m currently eyeing these coasters

Sophie Dahl book image credit.

foodie finds

love. life. eat. of the week: home edition

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Believe me when I say that I’ve been building my home for nearly two years. Since I spend a great deal of time in my apartment, my home being my refuge, I want to make it as comfortable, cozy and calm as possible. I invested in a few pieces {sofa, as I’d been living with a loveseat purchased off Craigslist for six years, bed and coffee table}, and the rest I acquired at wholesale shops and online furniture marketplaces. Yesterday, my friend Mary joked that furniture shopping is a racket, and I agreed. If there’s one thing I loathe, it’s shopping. I hate shopping. It’s stressful because invariably there’s always a better deal you haven’t found, and you never know about the quality of a piece until you unpack it on your living room floor. To this end, I make it a point to buy pieces that will last me a great deal of time, simply for the fact that I can save myself hours of scrolling through Home Depot, Overstock.com, Wayfair and other sites, deliberating over a $90 writing desk as if it was a car. Yes, I’m that obsessive.

Today, I’ll give you some insight into the four new things I bought for the new abode {I believe in the power of Amazon Prime and free shipping for household supplies like brooms, wastepaper baskets and vacuum cleaners}, as well as a peek back at the pieces I’ve acquired over the past two years.

I first purchased these bookcases a couple of years ago, and they’ve held up beautifully. For $53, this is the best deal you’ll get | Never did I think that I would be infatuated with a vacuum cleaner, however, after having a pet and having to clean up cat hair, EVERYWHERE, this bag-free version is a godsend | I haven’t yet used my loft space, other than as a means to store books, odds and ends, but I’m prepping my writing space by purchasing this sturdy and affordable chrome lamp and this desk from Joss + Main {similar desk here}.

A few years ago I asked the very talented and kind Christine White to help me outfit my apartment with the proper bones {sofa, coffee table, decorative accents}, and after having received such lovely comments on my home I thought I’d revisit her choice picks. Let it be known that I don’t like clutter or knick-knacks. I’ve very few adornments as I tend to add items to my home based on my travels. My apartment is quite sparse and I prefer it that way.

Living-Room-transformation

1. Loring Sofa in Blue. Although the sofa is no longer available, I do adore Room + Board’s selection | 2. Elaine Accent Chair + Siene Ottoman {no longer available} | 3. Two Drawer Coffee Table. Although the table is no longer available, you can find some great options here | 4. Lift Top Storage Bench | 5. High-Neck Vase, Blue Throw Pillows {although these pillows are no longer available, I quite like this, this, this, and this}, Roman Vase, Recycled Glass Jugs {on sale!}

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Second collage credit: Christine White.

home decor

if this be a home, let it be filled with light

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By the time I’m nine I know the world is a dangerous place. I’ve heard whispers about razorblades in apples, about Charlie Manson and his family. But no one is offering any clear information. –Nick Flynn

I think about a painting I used to love. A desperate woman crawls up a field. In the distance there’s a little wooden house. It’s gray, fallen to blight, like a woman who wakes one morning and realizes the years that have passed, feels her skin crumble like tissue, but the house, like the woman, stands tall, proud with the knowledge that she was once beautiful. That her face was once a map that everyone wanted to navigate and conquer.

But back to the scene as it plays out. You get the sense from how she’s leaning forward, how her hair has come undone, how her belt binds her to the ground, that reaching this home, a future version of herself, is unimaginable. All she wants is to be a girl, playing house in older woman’s clothes. All she ever wanted is to get there, but then it occurs to her that she doesn’t really know what there is. She knows the shape of it — her life stretched before her like some messy tableaux — but she can’t make out the details. Nothing’s in focus.

I’ve visited this painting quite a bit, and wondered what it would’ve been like if the woman could create a string of miniature houses — like a set of tire tracks — leading her home. One house would be demonstrably larger and richer than the previous one, and she could fully inhabit the place, lean out the windowsill, trace the dust with her hands and lay her head down on the wooden floor. As the years press on, she could shed each house like a piece of clothing, and the house would remain like a photograph, an indelible mark of the person you once were rather than the person you don’t know how to be.

Sometimes I think about all of the homes I’ve lived in over the years and all I could see are numbers on doors: 77 black, 182 white with a screen, 1256 stone, and so on. But what doesn’t make it into the frame are the insides: the color of the carpet, the furniture in each of the rooms. I can see them in pieces, but not completely, and it dawns on me that all of my homes feel like a single version on repeat, and I struggle to move forward, to shed, because I don’t know what I’ve definitively left behind.

I’ve never built a house that was a home until now. 38 years. The years.

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In this house there are books everywhere. On the floor, under coffee tables, stacked against the walls and ensconced in bookcases. There is a considerable amount of blue, a few mirrors, cashmere, and linens piled a shelf high. There is a loft with a view down below. Home is a door that can be closed, allowing me to retreat, exhale, but it’s also a door that can be opened, letting the air rush in. Last week I told a dear friend that the apartment I was leaving was a form of chrysalis, a place that allowed me to change shape. I also said that this was the place where Sophie died and out of nowhere I was overcome by her loss, as if it had just happened, and I looked at Felix, my new love, and I had to remind myself my heart is large enough for both my boy and sweet girl to fill it. Friends came and helped me lug bags and books and boxes down a flight of stairs and Sarah said that this place will bring me something new. I nodded, didn’t say much, but thought that finally home is a place where I can lay to rest. A place that feels permanent.

As you can see, I’m still unpacking. I’m still waiting for bookcases to house the hundreds of books piled on the floor. i’m exercising patience because I’ve got a strict budget {ah, the freelance life!} and I can’t just run out and buy a dining table, chairs, floor rugs, chairs, lamps, and all the things my heart desires just yet. But what’s more important to me is what I create in this space, not the things I fill it with. I have to remind myself of that every day.

In this home, in the memory I’ll now have of it, is love, is food, is friendship like a cat’s cradle held into two hands. I know each room completely. From the paint on the walls to the moldings to the grooves in the carpet, to the B-list books hidden from view. I know this place. I know this kitchen. I know this love.

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home decor

love. life. eat. of the week

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Smitten with all things coriander, I picked up this grapefruit and coriander Paddywax candle at Whole Foods yesterday, and it is worth every single dollar. Ignite and let your couch envelop you. | This week ushers in autumn, and I couldn’t be more excited for terracotta leaves, apples, crisp mornings, sweater weather and this brioche bread. | Often I daydream about my ideal home. In it, you’d find walls of books and a kitchen large enough to gather. London-based food writer, Anissa Helou, certainly has a dreamy abode. Can I move in? | Speaking of books, I’ve been floored by the magic that is Alessandro Baricco’s Emmaus. Baricco is a writer like no other. A lyricist who manages to architect worlds that are at turns ethereal and very real, Baricco’s twist on The Virgin Suicides shows how young Catholic men are changed by sexuality and mortality. No word, no image, no idea is wasted. If you love haunting, lyrical stories, you will love this book. | On the flipside, Kinfolk’s forthcoming cookbook, The Kinfolk Table: Recipes for Small Gatherings has my interest piqued. Although I’ve gone off on the magazine in recent months, I do love their recipes, whose ingredients are wholesome and whose photography is elegantly composed. | And finally, “having it all” isn’t about achieving the trifecta of marriage, career + children, because not all women define all in these terms. I certainly don’t. I’ve been outspoken about the fact that I don’t plan on having children, and my ‘all’ is about living the most creative, challenging, and authentic life as I can, while loving my friends, family, Felix and perhaps, one day, a gent.

foodie finds

love.life.eat of the week

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love.: It’s no secret that I’m mad for the color blue. In blue we believe, in blue we trust. When I organized my closet this year I was shocked to find that nearly every item I owned was in some shade of this magnificent hue. So it’s no surprise that my covets this week (as I’m on a deep shopping hiatus) are beautifully blue. From Erikson Beamon’s Duchess Earrings, which are rather grand and made for royalty (too bad my ears aren’t pierced) to Shop Terrain’s Textured Burlap Tray (imagine biscuits piled high!) to this rustic soapstone Cheese Slate Board, to this darling homemade Natural Linen Napkin set I discovered on Etsy (not blue, but certainly in the dreamy aquatic territory), part of me can mentally transport myself to the sleepy shores of Biarritz even while I’m bundled up for a New York winter.

Artists + bloggers I’m loving right. this. moment.: Not*Otherwise (she preaches the truth), Nicole Franzen (her photographs are transformative) and Elephantine (her prose is quite lovely).

life.: I promise you (and myself) that this is the year where I will break ranks. And although that sounds cryptic, intentionally so, I’ve been surprised by just how much I love my French classes at the French Institute Alliance Française. Every Saturday, myself and 12 other hopefuls watch movies, play games and learn how to think in a new language. For those three hours I joke with new friends, get dramatic with vowel pronunciations, while proclaiming, Oh, we’re so French, while we’re clearly not. But for that small pocket of time I can immerse in a world that is so far removed from the one I knew and closer to the one I will inevitably know. And I also have access to the FIFA library, cultural programs and a whole new suite of possibilities, gratis! In grade school I switched out of French class because it was all too complicated, it wasn’t the language we spoke in the streets, and I’m glad to have returned to new ways to think of words. Change doesn’t happen until you leap out of your comfort zone, so here’s me, reaching for sky.

eat.: This week I’m craving a mix of the very virtuous and the very naughty. Last night I read a feature of the designer Kelly Wearstler in Bon Appetit magazine, and I was shocked that my favorite mag would publish a piece about a woman who basically starves herself during the day and has one meal at night. PSA, PEOPLE: JUICING IS SOCIALLY-ACCEPTABLE STARVATION, AND IT’S NOT OKAY. It’s okay to eat, folks — everything in moderation. So if you’re feeling the need to feast on kale check out this yummy Crunchy Kale Salad made with nuts, avocado and tahini. Surprise your taste buds with the melange of flavor in this protein-packed Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Harissa recipe. And find morning comfort in this Barley Porridge with Maple-Glazed Almonds and Blood Orange.

Or perhaps you want to indulge in flights of almond fancy with this etherial Almond Bread Pudding or these Salted Caramel Banoffee Éclairs, or these Lemon Seed Poppy Rolls by one of my favorite foodies.

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foodie finds

love. life. eat. of the week

love.: Currently I’m infatuated with Ice Milk Apron’s lovely heirloom linen napkins. My work colleague ordered a set in the mail and not only was I impressed by the heft of the fabric, but the exquisite detailing. You’ll find a piece of cotton stitched with red thread that serves as an excellent placeholder for flatware. Ice Milk’s vintage recipe cards and aprons delivered in mason jars make for a sweet gift for the holidays, which is a nice alternative to the big-box gifts and Odyssean lines.

Keeping with my bowl and linen obsession (and it’s deep, my friends), I’m also eyeing these handmade dBo bowls, and if I didn’t need a reason to jet off to Vancouver, I have one now: ceramic bowls made by Janaki Larson, sold at the incomparable grocer and cafe, Le Marche St. George (image credit). I couldn’t help but fawn over their website, which is host to pages of woven throws, simple minimalist decor and foodstuffs you just want to eat. And finally, I can’t kick my addiction to paper. It feels good and right to feel the tactile weight of books in your hands, and for this very reason I subscribed to Anthology magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to all things decor, design, culture, travel and food. And would you believe the moment I was about to hit the “Publish” button, I found The New General Store’s handcrafted platters and bowls? SAVE ME.

life.: Talley of House to Haus’ recent posts on adjusting to life in Zurich put my heart on pause and I can quietly relate. How Talley lays her heart out to bear, feels a rush of confusion over a life not planned, while at the same time a fervor for what lies ahead, warmed me. I discovered Talley’s site on a lark, and I encourage you to bookmark it because her recipes and posts are lovely.

eat.: These recipes warmed my cold, dead heart, and hopefully you’ll find recreations of these delicious eats on this space soon: Crispy Kale Salad, Pumpkin Fettucini Alfredo, Meatballs for New Mothers (although I’m not one and never plan to be, but this recipe is delightful!), and these Pumpkin Oat Pancakes made me swoon.

foodie finds

french finds: côté bastide + aix & terra + the usual digressions

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Over the years people have used the following words to describe me: bombastic, intense, gregarious, loud, funny, dramatic. However, these are people who actually don’t really know me — they only know an aspect of my personality that I chose to reveal. And although I do have a flair for the dramatic, I actually crave solitude. I prefer the sound of my own two feet on a pavement than the chatter in a cafe. In this stretch of time I can think. Vague, inchoate fragments turn into the stories I’m able to share with you here, finish a conversation with a beloved because I’ve found the right words I wanted to say, allow me to explore a kaleidoscope of a future that will one day come to pass.

I never feel alone or lonely, in fact I seek out time with myself. There are days when I just don’t want to talk to anyone; the very act of smiling is exhausting, and I can see myself performing — “putting on the grand show,” as one would have it — just to fill the pauses. Just to pass the time by. One of the most gripping scenes in English literature is the opening scene of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. You witness April’s crippling failure in a high school auditorium as her dreams of Broadway are vanquished. Her desire — for life, the very blood and sinew of it — runs hard up against truth and comes out the worst for it. In reality, she’s a terrible actress and she knows it. In the car ride home, her husband tries to console her but all she wants is for him to SHUT THE FUCK UP. Allow her to think, and he won’t even give her that simple act of kindness because he doesn’t know she needs it, doesn’t know or won’t admit that he and his wife are, and will always be, second rate. April explodes and I understand. All she wanted was quiet and no one would give it to her.

This week has reminded me of that, of my need to practice quiet even in the frenzy of a busy workday. Because do I want to remembered as the court jester? I don’t think so. What I want people to see is a woman of character. The words multi-faceted construction come to mind.

Strangely, I was thinking about all of this while aimlessly walking around the town of Provence. I vividly remember reading and re-reading Yates’ scene, and I stumbled onto Côté Bastide. The airy, minimalist shop seemed familiar to me and then I recalled procuring lotions in Shabby Chic on a day where I needed quiet. Where I needed to make my home a safe and beautiful place. The woman in Shabby relayed that the products are rarely sold in the U.S., so when I entered the store in Provence I stayed there for quite some time. I sniffed soaps, fingered cotton nightgowns, uncapped bottles of lotion and bath gel. I love these products because the are perfect in their simplicity. Fragrant, potent, efficacious, you feel luxurious when you use them. Personally, I love the orange + almond scented lotions and body oils. They aren’t pungent, but you can smell the real essence of the ingredients and your skin feels like cashmere. An insane indulgence, but a worthy one if you can spring it.

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Years ago, I was watching Nigella Lawson and she talked about her trips and how she never really shopped for trinkets and souvenirs, rather she went right for the food. She purchased spices and foodstuffs that she couldn’t get in the U.K., and for years I’ve followed this practice because it felt right to me. Only purchase that which you cannot get at home. To this end, I found Aix & Terra (same day, same wandering, same strange thoughts). Provence is known for many things, however, they are famous for their lavender, truffles, figs and preserves. Touring the region of Provence, the owners ferret out recipes and goods from local artisans. Here you will find the most pungent truffle oil and salt you’ll ever lay your hands on, the most luscious chocolate hazelnut spread that makes Nutella look like JIF. I loaded up on a few items, keeping holiday gift-giving in mind.

And if you leave this post with anything, give yourself the gift of yourself. Dine alone, watch a movie without friends, take a long, winding walk.

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foodie finds traveling girl