Monday, November 30, 2009

spektor expectations

everybody has one or two things that they prioritize in their budget no matter what. something that makes them feel their lives are more carbonated, more filled-up with light. for me, one of those things is music. i am a certified junky. i feel emotionally flat without it. so when we first moved to london (knowing we'd be living on a thin slice of a budget in a notoriously money-sucking city) we advance purchased tickets to a few concerts. that way, when the time came we wouldn't have to find the cashes to go. (we know ourselves so well). so today we are hitting the rails to birmingham to see this kickass lady perform. and i can't wait. shizam!

dates for things to be due

my friend J is due today. and she is so (!) ready for that baby to head on out into the world. since first babies tend to be late, i'm sending good waves her way. i can't believe in just a couple weeks Z & i will get to see two of our favorite buddies and meet their little owlet! he's sure-to-be super sweet and rebellious, just like his parentals.

{image via tobyotter}

Sunday, November 29, 2009

the art of being there

yesterday i spent some more time at the tate, staring at a piece i want to write about (it will be my first ekphrastic poem). the only clue i'll give is its materials: oil, lead, dust and varnish on glass. it's the closest i've ever felt art come to a piece of poetry (on the page)--my brain clunk clunking as i try to unpack its images, to find some way to see and then connect its separate parts into a conceptual whole. but like poetry, i'm not trying to understand it. i want to get the feeling, to capture it at full speed. but i need more art vocabulary--words which suit the format. so i'm doing research inbetween the bore of applications. if there's any down time before tomorrow's deadlines (the evil-secretarial half of writing) i plan to watch this. it's one of my favorites. more later!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

golden winter

Z & i made this soup last night for dinner and the leftovers today were even better. it's the perfect meal for a chilly afternoon. (we add a bit of hot spiciness to kick it up a notch, but that's up to you).

professional quiet.

this morning feels almost slow-motion in the freeze and crackle of our flat. i'm turning up the heat and digging down into writing (deadlines, deadlines). sometimes, writing makes for a pretty lonely profession (especially in a place where we know so few people). but most of the time, i thrive off all this quiet--the still of a snowscape, an empty city, stretched out in my mind.

{image via thisisn'thappiness}

Thursday, November 26, 2009

hanging onto the vine

this tune was inspired by a 1964 magazine ad that claimed hunt's ketchup was a better brand because they urged their tomatoes not to despair, to hang onto the vine a little longer, to wait until they were absolutely ripe. my sister has called me little tomatoe forever (as seen in the last post's comments, and yes with an 'e'). this has become a running joke in my family because Z hates tomatoes with a passion.

i'm taking the rest of today and tomorrow off from the land of blog but i'll be back this weekend, so don't go away. happy thanksgiving statesiders! and happy thursday to the rest of you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

folding the fall into roses

this will be my first thanksgiving away from family. and part of me is grateful that i've made it this many years without being too far to travel back home. but the rest of me is feeling dreadful about missing out on the inaugural thanksgiving at N2's (my sister and hubs) new house, and all the raucous game-playing, food-eating, and general merriment that is sure to be had. even though my pop(rock) set up wireless skype for tomorrow--i wonder if it will just make me more jealous. hey! pass me some stuffing! so instead of endless dwelling on my food-family-sadness, i am dreaming up creative tablescapes. these origami maple leaf roses would be perfect natural centerpieces, don't you think? chuck in some (clean) feathers and you'd have a table topped with the bright & unexpected. check out the rose folding instructions here. maybe tomorrow afternoon i'll take a long turkeyed-up nap as my celebration.

(notice how i skipped over this holiday in my previous post? that's because with no t-day here, it's already all twinkling christmas lights and sugar-y carols in london!)

buying handmade

making things by hand and buying handmade things makes me infinitely happier than dealing with super-produced items. for the holidays this year, if you are into the gift-giving (as opposed to maybe a charity) why not consider taking the handmade pledge? Z & i are knitting up a storm & gluing ornaments like crazycats to get things ready for our families. even if you can't/don't have time to craft things yourself, etsy provides a ton of kick-ass options. for example, if you're looking for a twirly number for christmas eve why not check out one of the beautiful skirts by whitney deal (a.k.a. darling dexter) which i've been eying for eons--they're customizable in terms of size, color, flowers and fabrics. AND they're f-ing cooler, craftier, and cheaper than the jcrew one (second picture) which is just, well, more of a cookie-cutter-production. wouldn't you rather boost the economy by helping small businesses survive?

{via darling dexter}

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

1920s spies

Z & i have made some notoriously bad decisions when choosing places to stay on trips (um, the mask hovering above our bed with real teeth in paris was not so much with the sexy). and last night, pouring through lisbon hotel options, we got more than a bit overwhelmed. so when we read this description, it stopped us in our tracks: inaugurated in 1917, this hotel was a favorite haunt of spies and double agents during WWII. the individually styled and elegant rooms are partly furnished with original pieces from the 1920s and the whole building has a distinctly retro atmosphere. the balcony views across rossio are idyllic.
um, hell yes! we will be staying in the spy hotel.

{image via reflectingtruth}

saving your skull in style

in college i rode my mother's 1970s avacado racing bike everywhere. to classes. to work. to the middle of nowhere. to pedal off my stress. & i hate to admit that i never wore a helmet. (it is a small town and pretty much car-less). now, living in a city, i'm floored by the lack of helmeted heads. i mean, absolutely no one here wears a helmet! this in a city where they warn you that cyclists are more dangerous than drivers. (Z was hit by an oncoming bicycle the first month here. it did not go well). so why aren't there more sexy-cool helmets to help people get over their childhood feelings of geekdom and protect their heads? ruby's polkadot one is for motorcycling, but why not rock out its sleek retro design on your bike?! the furry luzern is straight-up doctor zhivago chic. and there's this one for the more everyday wear (heck you could add polkadots to spruce it up). in any case, there's some pretty good options.

this intriguing new book (on my research wishlist) talks about how the skull used to be so revered that people would steal famous ones for ransom! so why not protect yours?

{via oh joy! & yakkay}

Monday, November 23, 2009

sneaking down staircases.

right now, amidst serious stresses about recommendations and applications, i have moments of thinking woohoo! the time difference is sort of on my side (for instance, it's still only 1pm in the states). and this all works quite well until i realize that i've been working since 8am and will continue working here until midnight or later, because it will only be 8pm across the ocean. then i start to wish i was sliding down staircases in paris. anyone else having a monday frazzle?!

small batches of celebration

last night we took time away from our mad dash towards work deadlines and conference prep for a bit of celebration (afterall, i've been awaiting news on the grant since i applied in june!). this locally owned pub is two minutes from our flat, has a current special for delicious buy-one-get-one-on-the-house stonebaked pizzas, and an incredible alcohol selection. we took Z's parentals there when they were visiting for a game of scrabble (how rocktastic to go to a pub where they provide boardgames!) and we also took L for some good old-fashion, mid-afternoon, debauchery. it's the perfect quiet and dark setting for drinks and discussing what one should and/or shouldn't do with his/her lives. and last night we figured, why not let someone else cook so we can enjoy time we would usually use prepping and chopping for relaxing a bit? so we lounged like philiterati on the covetable vintage gentleman's couches and drank small-batch bourbon and beers (me on the bourbon, Z on the beer). we chatted poetics and plans and ideas for our futures. we ate and ate and ate. and then we came home and went back to the grind. which is where you will find us again (separately) this morning: heads down, work thoughts slow-rising off us like smoke.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

knitting (up) a storm

it is loud & wild & wet outside today: slanted rain and pummeling winds. so i'm hanging inside, where it's dry and sort of warm. and less miserable. i'm reading and working and sending off job-related stuff and--(even though i never thought it would happen, because despite being a strong crafter i am extremely impatient with things i am bad at)--knitting. Z successfully taught me to knit! i sat in front of him and he put my hands in his and had infinite patience while i made miserable wobbly lines of wool. but we finished our first project friday and it's pretty rocktastic (N, it's for you!). so yeehaw. even if it is annoying to be bad at things, it's kick-ass to learn a new skill. i highly recommend. go go go! try something new.
and a happy dry sunday to you all!

{image via lawkevin}

Friday, November 20, 2009

trying it on for size: round-up!

::a fun tune to get you moving this friday.

:: a real life amelie-esque moment

::everyone could use some vintage-style laughs

::fall 2009 collection from last season's winner

::the perfect new year's headbands

::tiny envelopes are key

::a sunny (though expensive) way to write

::sweet cuffs

::this year, maybe being bad isn't such a bad idea

::faber commissioned some rocktastic jackets for poets, which are now in stores (i bought one when we moved to london, and it was accidentally pasted in backwards!)

::simplicity & luck make for beautiful jewelry

::sweetness + butcher's twine = the perfect hostess gift
(though graham crackers are hard to find in england!)

::apparently, antlers are all the rage at the moment (shed ones, that is). this kick-ass chandelier is in one of our favorite pubs, but i'd love it in my future home.

{image via m4r00n3d's & it'smaryruffle}

big news & traveling by tram

it's now official (as in we have tickets) so i can stop being a secret keeper. in two weeks we will be flying to lisbon! Z was invited to present a paper at a fancy conference (dealing with language and sentences and context). rock on! and i will be accompanying him on the adventure.

i'm both thrilled and terrifed. Z will be fully busy at least two days of the trip--meaning i will be out exploring and experiencing the city alone. and in case you hadn't guessed, i don't speak a lick of the language. but i'm filled up with fizz and light at the possibilities of things to do (like tramming around the city). i've been researching options and getting butterflies. sometimes it's good to be nervous, to get a heart-jumping start. does anyone have suggestions of things to do? to see? anyone know someone who has traveled to lisbon?! it's hard to believe a year ago i hadn't been anywhere farther than canada. and now, i will have seen parts of portugal, france and britain all before heading back to the states for the holidays. just the thought of more travel makes my veins sing.

{image via optical illusion}

Thursday, November 19, 2009

photographing lonelinesses

my friend J has a real love for hopper paintings. so when i saw these photos by astrid kruse jensen, i thought of her. they capture a similar kind of feeling/moment: of alone-ness; of empty & filled selves; of waiting & expectation. (click to see them larger as they are rather dark). i am remembering being in J's apartment in ithaca and talking about hopper for the first time. i'm thinking of my favorite ladies and wishing them good things tonight! (dearest S, i hope DC is rocktastic!!)

{portfolio images via here}


sometimes i worry that Z will feel sad that he married a writer instead of a fancy neurologist or someone who will make loads of moneys. or maybe that he wishes he married someone who was less heart-wild. i know this is ridiculous. because writing makes me me and money is not at all important compared to so many things. and being heart-wild is why he loves me in the first place. but still. today (especially because of my own good news) i feel like i need to be a better partner to Z. not in the least because he is so very good to me.

(for the record, even if i'm not a neurologist, i'm sure it doesn't hurt that i am super handy with a hammer and power tools and problem solving. and with paying our monthly williams. and things like that.)

{image via ffffound}

pirated hearts!

last night we saw coeur de pirate at the luminaire. it was fantastic and small and the sound was clear and pianoed. it was romantic and it cheered us up after a gloomy wednesday. i first heard coeur de pirate on myspace and since a full album wasn't out yet, i would leave the page open and listen on repeat. then, last march, a blogging father posted a time-lapse video of his son playing in the dining room and he chose the song ensemble for the soundtrack. and it just happened to be viewed over 800,000 on youtube (do you remember when this clip was all the rage?!). this chance event launched béatrice martin far outside the ears of montreal. so far out that last night she was in london singing her sweet and sad and cheeky tunes. and it was phenomenal. her album is the perfect background for writing. or wistful-ing. or cooking. or pretty much anything.

and when we got home, after months of waiting, i found out that i won a small grant for traveling and writing!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

the poetics of bridging

in 1988 john ashberry was commissioned to write a poem for a bridge designed by artist siah armajani in minneapolis. what a staggering thing--to be asked to line a bridge, for the structure to make your (line)breaks for you. and oh to be a pedestrian--to walk across all that air and light and read a poem. a real poem: not a society-safe or cutely rhyming piece, but a piece commissioned for this bridge whose language reaches across (and i mean the ambiguity here, i mean both the bridge and the words). yes, bridge poems are for me. and maybe for you. go see the whole shebang here as a slideshow which captures the feel of walking across.

ashbery's full untitled poem:

And now I cannot remember how I would
have had it. It is not a conduit (confluence?) but a place.
The place, of movement and an order.
The place of old order.
But the tail end of the movement is new.
Driving us to say what we are thinking.
It is so much like a beach after all, where you stand
and think of going no further.
And it is good when you get to no further.
It is like a reason that picks you up and
places you where you always wanted to be.
This far, it is fair to be crossing, to have crossed.
Then there is no promise in the other.
Here it is. Steel and air, a mottled presence,
small panacea
and lucky for us.
And then it got very cool.

getting your motorbike back

work today feels a bit like this.

{image via tuer}

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

missing people

today Z & i are both feeling a bit tired. so we mostly stayed inside the petite bateau and were bummy (we went out briefly for yarn). i admit, i am missing our flat filled with people. we had such a good week with Z's family here. and now it's so so quiet. and we have bunches of working to do. but even though i'm a bit down, that's okay. because there are some big things ahead of us. and then a trip back home. and work will be rewarding once it's not so much about deadlines. so, even though there's a feeling of endings there's also a few tiny sparks shooting up in the distance, a few reasons for cheer (not in the least that i love the holidays). i hope you are all having a stunning tuesday. but if not, that's okay too.

{image via jennipenni}

tentacular tuesday

on sunday we adventured to the brick lane market with Z's sister L. we had hot cider and donuts. we had browsing and serious discussion of what to do with our lives. and we finally found dan hillier's upmarket stall. Z & i fell for his work when we first moved here, after we saw it at a craft fair in the old queen's head pub (one of our favorites for drinks when it's not a weekend night), but we'd never found him at the market. apparently this trip was beshert (a word meaning meant-to-be that Z's mom taught me). we happened to see a print of his in a shop window on our way to the market and L fell for hillier's work as well.

so, the three of us searched him out and then poured through his odd prints and picked out a few. i admit that his work is hyper influenced by max ernst's surrealist collages in une semaine de bonte. but i also admit that it's not like you can own a numbered ernst. Z & i bought the top print at market price which is much much cheaper than online; L bought the bottom one along with a stark & beautifully masculine print of a faun standing across from a stag with a tree growing out of its head. we agreed it's neat for siblings to own pieces by the same artist (like each of us have a section of something larger).

what i dig most about hillier's work is the expression of emotion, the caught-in-the-act of feeling: a brief glimpse of grieving, or anger, or delight. go check out more of his work here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

peony garlands

peonies has just put some wondrous garland-boxes up in her shop. they are like beautiful little blinks. or memory fragments. or stanzas. and they come with little clips (like the ones we used to put up the petite bateaus that i have yet to show you because i am bad like that). go check them out. i think they are calming.

{via peoniesandpolaroids}

shining shoes & dry feet

the weather for the past week has been drizzly-grey-soak-you-to-your-bones. and my toes have been freezing (even though i've been rocking many-socked feet). on friday night, Z's parents very sweetly gifted me some shiny rain proof shoes in which to stomp about in our superwet london. and i have to admit, like a little kid, i was so thrilled i sort of wanted to wear them to bed (for the record, i didn't!). my new brogues are amazing. and very gamine. well, that is when i'm not wearing them around the flat with pajamas.

(if you look closely, you will notice that patent leather shoes do shine up--in the right toe you can actually see the camera reflecting as i snapped this shot).

Friday, November 13, 2009


if you are reading this, i finally finished packaging up four more manuscripts and i'm off to a new museum. keep an eye out for anything unusual today and enjoy--happy friday the 13th everyone!

(p.s. in the case of the book-to-apartment styling below--i totally admit i was having a book by its cover moment. who wouldn't swoon for those color combos?! but i swear these posts will be about the books' contents. okay, and sometimes maybe about their jackets. i can't help myself).

{i'm poeming a series based on some of these images here}

living in books

breakfast at tiffany's is one of my favorite novellas. and while the film & ms. audrey h. have slamming style, the book and the film are not even the same species--as in, they don't quite communicate the same narrative. (if you haven't read the book--go go go! but be prepared that it's rather sad). as a writer, i'm obsessed with descriptions of experiences, people, places, and of the ways that the real and fictionalized are living. inspired by an old guardian article where they dressed an actress up in outfits described in some classics, i've been thinking of doing a series of "living in" posts which would deal with style inspired by books--like living in capote's breakfast at tiffany's. while this concept might already be happening through the film media, i'm interested in talking about literature and design coming together. what do you think?!

{images via the guardian & citified}

Thursday, November 12, 2009


a shot from our wanderings (since Z & i are so rarely in photos together). i love the velveting of the pier area by the green algae and that pre-museum we walked along the shore and when we came back out the water was almost slapping at the sidewalks--the tides rise fast! here we are making our best algae faces at each other. we are also rocking the marshamellow-too-many-clothes look. this particular day was so chilly i had on two dresses over each other, a sweater, a winter jacket, and a few pairs of socks. it's not that it's cold like ithaca, it's just wet to the bone.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

resting in a nest of locks

when we were adventuring in the victoria & albert museum this week there was a staggering exhibit on iron--from grates and intricate chandelier-rods to ginormous door locks and coffers. it was marvelous (too bad my camera was not with me, so we'll have to head back). my favorite section was the keys--the delicate durabilty, the heavy smallness, the sheer complexity. i couldn't believe the artistry. even the locksmiths signs were magnificent puzzles! i am hoping to get my hands on a good book of the history and guild of key-making. the vocabulary alone is all poetry.

since keys are an important symbol to Z & i--and much of our wedding designs spun off from the key concept (our wedding invitations borrowed elements from the stars poster with the two keys, here)--i've been thinking i would love a little key-ish related piece of jewelry. i'm on the hunt. so far, i found these two kick-ass necklaces. i love the the first for its wonky coolness and the second for its charm (the latter is probably a bit more everyday wearable). the problem with key jewelry is trying to mostly steer clear of the key-to-my-love cliche (especially since the key idea for us is more houdini with a side of heart).

{images via refinery29 and ball&chain}


Z & i have been planning our design attack for this year's handmade ornament since early october. above is a sneak preview of one of the supplies (that we have been awaiting, impatiently, for eons!). with any luck, these kicking typewriter keys, with the help of some other vintage-y stuff + hot glue, will ornament our family trees for the holidays. handmades are long-standing tradition in my fam and a bit of a competitive challenge (ahem). obviously, this makes the mail strike that much more annoying. we only have a few weeks left!

{image via porkchopshow}

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

flea markets of paris

for good measure, i thought i'd post a few shots of flea market stalls we saw in paris. aren't they wild?! there is nothing like the experience i had wandering through the market (which stretches blocks and blocks--it's like a whole section of the city!). i said to Z that i thought i'd never be able to really explain what it was like: i was filled up with such light. but i promise i'll try soon (after our visitors leave i really will do a mini-mooning post with more photos than you all care to see).

today we are off on some london walks and to visit the tate modern. (it's amazing to be doing sly poem research while hanging with the family).

antique apartments

my sister used to poke fun at me (in good humor) that walking into my apartment was like walking into a crazy little antique store--various vintage things and strange tsotchkes could be found precariously stacked on shelves, desk-space, tables. so when Z & i moved in together we invested in a beautiful cabinet to put all our combined curiosities in (Z, like me, is a collector of oddities).

i love walking into someone's place and seeing beautifully curated little nooks and spaces--filled with objects of importance or interest to their specific lives. the house tour here is incredible (though dolls creep me out--i find them scarier than clowns). the house belongs to sophie blackall, whose missed connection drawings i posted on a few weeks ago. her space reminds me of the flea markets in paris--where seemingly random antique objects are juxtaposed in a single stall--though obviously, she has a super clear vision. what a great idea to have specimen-like casing in a bathroom. (and don't you love the camilla engman painting and the little oh my cavalier fox drawing in the second shot?).

{via designsponge}

Monday, November 9, 2009

first frosts & ribbons: flapper modern

the weather is finally getting chilly here. last night as we walked home our breath was bright in the air and i started to realize that tights and scarves alone weren't going to cut it. this morning i am dreaming of thick wool mittens/coats and elegant elbow-length gloves. for some reason these caught my eye as a beautiful, yet everyday wear, kind of option. a mixing of tough-sweet, vintage, muted colors, and a genius texture-combination--they are perfectly flapper modern. yes, please. maybe i can convince Z, a kick-ass knitter, to whip up something similar!

{via knittwit's etsy shop}

(p.s. posts are pre-scheduled to go up while i am out gallivanting with the in-laws!)


last monday night (pre-terrible head cold) we went to the troubadour, near earl's court, for the coffee house poetry reading. we were invited as guests of the magnificent (& beautiful) poet, anne-marie fyfe, who is in charge of the every-other-monday series. it was by all means (despite being cliche to say), rather romantic--to be listening to poetry in a crowded basement of a magnificent old pub, to be in a barrel full of readers/writers. though one poem was recited twice by the same poet (!) and caused a few giggles, the overall effect was of people thriving on and digging into serious language. don't get me wrong--there were also merrily shouted refrains during john hegley's hilarious bit (it's hard to hear the worm about the tur-moil!).

the reading was to promote poems on the underground, which is part of a large-scale project spanning the past twenty years. many of the pieces included are more accessible than my own poetic leanings (part of this might stem from a certain reader friendliness and an absolute necessity of smallness) but the reading itself made london poetics feel more present for me. here were current contemporary writers strong-arm singing alongside millay and yeats. and the poets read beautifully--their voices felt both indelible and present and yet almost as though crackling from the lily-shaped horn of a gramophone. in the end, it was an evening of determined language (and a few exciting shy introductions to people on the scene).

above is a fantastic taste of mr. hegley's humor. happy monday to you all!

{image via thischarmingbroad}

Sunday, November 8, 2009

a lighthouse, a visit

above is the lighthouse at peggy's cove in nova scotia--a province so surreal in its frozen stretches of snow-ocean-sky-scape that i never quite believe the bright photographs we've taken when we look back through them. you can't see the cold, but it was so biting the day we took this we were only allowed outside for five minutes at a time before Z's dad would bundle us back into the the little cove-side restaurant. we ate the most mouth-watering clamchowder and fresh baguettes of my life. i was so star-filled and warm, i swear i could have walked across the lighthouse's thin searching beam, into that cutting water for a swim, and been fine.

the point of all this canada talk? Z's parents are flying in this afternoon! and his sister will be joining us from rome on wednesday! we haven't seen any of them since the wedding--and it will be such a relief to hang out in a less stressed and super-charged environment. we can't wait to traipse around the city, have a bit of a ruckus, and just generally catch-up. welcome to london!
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