Friday, August 29, 2008

My Favorite Movies

The Baxter: Cute romantic comedy, perfect for a date. Michelle Williams is great in this movie.

Breakfast at Tiffany's: Classic, everyone's favorite movie. All of the clothes in the movie would still look great today. Love the spare apartment with the bathtub sofa.

Blame it on Fidel
: In 1970, an upper class French family gives up their comfortable life. Neat houses, great clothes.

Chocolat: Totally hot, cool house.

Fame: Fun, old movie. Awesome soundtrack.

Grey Gardens: Two eccentric ladies, members of Jackie Kennedy's clan, living in a run-down mansion in the Hamptons.

L'Avventura: Classic, Italian. Won the Jury Prize at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. Antonioni's masterpiece. But most importantly, great clothes- a room full of women in little black dresses and pearls looks so classy. Only in Italy, or only in 1960?

La Vie en Rose: The life of Edith Piaf. Paris.

Legally Blonde: Reece Witherspoon. Surprisingly great fashion ideas, fun movie.

Rabbit-Proof Fence: Such a cute movie, with the cutest little Australian girls ever. A little bit sad.

Also, anything by Pedro Almodovar,especially: All About My Mother, Talk to Her, and Volver; the John Hughes Brat Pack movies- Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink.

Feist on Sesame Street

This has to be the coolest video ever. Courtesy of Pink of Perfection.


My Free Diet

Over the last year or so, the numbers on the scale have started creeping upwards, and recently I decided it had gone too far.

I considered joining a popular weight loss group, but I am too cheap. So I'm trying another method: writing down everything I eat.

This method is mentioned in the book, "French Women Don't Get Fat," by Mireille Guiliano (which has many other great tips and tricks), however in this book she only advocates doing this for three weeks, to learn what your "offenders" are (those foods you eat a lot of that aren't helping matters). Studies show that a relatively easy way to lose weight and keep it off is to write down everything you eat, indefinitely.

The thing is, keeping it up is painful. It's a real drag. But having to buy all new clothes because I don't fit into the old ones is an even bigger drag, and I'm willing to fill up volumes with boring lists of breakfasts, lunch, and dinners to avoid this.

Right away it's easy to spot the more obvious offenders. Trips to the candy aisle at Rite-Aid have been axed. Then away went white bread (including pizza), pasta, pastries, cookies, beer, and other obvious carbs. Last night I realized that I cannot keep fun cheeses in the house- I may eat these on the occasional restaurant trip, but I cannot be trusted with a big block of Stilton cheese.

So what is left? I typically eat instant oatmeal for breakfast, a salad with grilled chicken for lunch, and dinner is random- eggs and toast, 1/2 a tuna sandwich, minestrone soup, or something of the sort. (I'm not a big dinner person). Snacks are either protein in the form of nuts or cheese (with strict portion control) or fruits and vegetables.

There is one other thing that is left, and that is Fran's 1.1 oz 72% Bittersweet Chocolate Bars. These are not cheap, but they are only 125 calories each, and I can get through a day of my diet food as long as it includes one of these.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Oh how I love Tupperware! Not available in stores, but you can get it online, and you can also get cool vintage Tupperware on ebay.

What I would really love to find are two Tupperware toys that I had when I was a kid. One was a juice set, with a mini pitcher like the one above, and four little cups (in 70's yellow, orange, brown, and green). The whole thing was housed in a rectangular container (I think it was brown) with a clear lid, and I think there were a few other things in it. The other thing was a baking set for kids, with a pastry mat, rolling pin, etc. Tupperware, if you're reading this, please bring these back!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How to Maintain Shoes

My boss once was talking about the frugality of the generation before ours, saying that, "you know, they got their shoes repaired..."

I get my shoes repaired all the time. (I didn't say this then). In fact, I am in the shoe repair place at least once every couple months. Here's my rundown on how to keep shoes maintained:

1. Only buy good quality shoes that you love and that fit perfectly (and only buy smooth leather- suede does not last). When they are still new, before you have worn them, spray them with a leather protector (spot test them first).

2. Keep those good quality shoes that you love in good condition by periodically taking them to a shoe repair place to have them cleaned, conditioned, and polished. (You can also do this yourself. There are lots of products out there, but I love the pop-up containers of wipes with leather cleaner on them. They make it so easy to clean dirty shoes, bags, and other things made of leather. The conditioning and polishing is a dirty job and I think it's worth the $5 to have someone else do it.) I like to find a small place where I actually speak to the person who is doing the repairs.

3. The heel of a shoe (especially on high-heels) will wear down and need to be replaced from time to time.

4. If your shoes are pointy, the shoe-repair guy can put taps on them to extend their life.

5. If you get a little nick or tear in the leather, this can usually be fixed.

6. Shoe repair guys can do amazing things sometimes. If your shoes have issues, take them in to the repair place and explain what the problem is, and ask if they know of any solutions. From slippery shoes to wrong-size shoes, there is often a solution to the problem.

7. I like to store my shoes in the box they came in. It protects the shoes from dirt, dust, and deformation, with the added benefit that you can stack them all in a neat little pile on a shelf or so.

8. A word on athletic shoes: shoes that are not leather, such as most running shoes, can be machine washed. I have washed many, many pairs of running shoes and haven't had a disaster yet (although I can't make any guarantees...). Just throw them in the washing machine with some detergent on a warm water cycle and when they are done, put them in a warm place, such as next to a heater, to dry. DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE DRYER.

Oh, and one last thing, I always ask what the cost of any service is before I request it to avoid any bad surprises.

Here is a link to an article by Martha Stewart titled, Tips and tricks for keeping your shoes shipshape.

Book Review: 'What Would Jackie Do?'

I love Jackie Kennedy, and I love this book, which I found trolling the stacks at the Bellevue Library.

Here are a few excerpts:

Chapter 5: En Suite Home: Perfecting Your Domestic Pitch

"...interesting objects are not mass-produced."

"Except for neo-contemporary looks, furniture should never smack of newness. There's something a bit ne'er-do-well about a sofa that looks never rested upon. Or an Art Deco dresser that's been over-restored to gleaming perfection. Similarly, a shiny new Steinway is vulgar unless you can dash out Chopin's complete works on it. "

"...when it comes to books, there should be no hiding place...Jackie preferred open bookcases for her dining room library and - except for special tabletop tomes - avoided arranging them with institutional precision."

"...keep your memories tidy. Arrange old photographs in decorative boxes or binders, marked by event and date...In New York, Jackie preserved pictures in lovely red Moroccan leather volumes."

Chapter 6: Building Your Inner Temple: The Art of Self-Enrichment and Fulfillment

" must never pass up the chance to attach yourself to intriguing people, experiences, causes - venturing outside your own comfort zone (and zip code) to find new levels of depth."

"All those horrid hours spent learning to conjugate off big time when you glide into an Italian store and order your Parma ham like a native...Jackie spoke French, Italian, Spanish, and even a little Greek..."

"Be a conspicuous (culture) consumer...know[] the must-see plays, operas, and other goings-on about[] out the best current literature, and revisit[] old favorites...learn[] exotic dances...audit[] grad school classes..."

"Know your way around the stacks, as in, the library."


Geraniums are part of the uniform of buildings in Paris. They are so easy to care for and they bloom from spring to fall (and will live through the winter if you are careful).

This photo shows pink ones, but my favorites are red, and I recently saw a black window box planted with all white geraniums that was really beautiful.

This entry from the blog, "French Kitchen in America" has a cute photo of a Parisian building with geraniums.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NY Times Article: Shopping for Hard-to-Find Design Books with Kelly Wearstler

Being someone who loves books and design and ideas, I loved this article, about a designer and the books from which she draws inspiration.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Favorite Classical Music

Some of my favorite classical music includes works composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven and Frederic Chopin. The Beethoven album that I listen to most are his Piano Sonatas; there are enough of these to last for an entire day of listening, so I like to turn these on in the morning when I start working and listen to them all day. The Chopin albums I like are Nocturnes, Waltzes Nos. 1-14, and Piano Sonatas.

Listening to classical music is very relaxing and makes you smarter.

I listen to these on Rhapsody because this allows me to listen to almost anything I want, anywhere I have access to the internet. But it's all available on CD, too.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Diva Dollz- People's Pick 2008 for Favorite Women's Boutique and Favorite Shoes and Accessories

Diva Dollz, a new-ish women's clothing, accessories, and shoe store in Pioneer Square (really, it's part store, part museum), is very fun- it's fun to look in the windows, fun to try on the clothes, fun to talk to the owners, fun to get great deals on beautiful clothes.

Apparently, Hurricane Katrina is the reason the owners of Diva Dollz are in business in Seattle, and I'm so happy to see (according to the recent People's Pick results) that they are doing well.

Green Clean

Last weekend, after a family reunion down in Auburn, the 421 household made a stop at Ikea, and I got the most wonderful book: "clean" by michael de jong (subtitled, "the humble art of zen-cleansing"). For a long time I have been wanting to rid myself of the chemicals that are my cleaning products, but to replace with what? This little book is nice because it's short (and only $7), so I don't feel like I am studying for my Ph.D. in cleaning the house.

Here's a few highlights:
First, you (mostly) only need five things: baking soda, borax, lemon, salt, and white vinegar. Cheap, so I'm on board. (Except, where does one buy borax? Not at Rite-Aid. I'm still looking. Update: I found it at Whole Foods.)

A couple of the greatest-hits recipes:
  • Equal parts borax, baking soda, and Ivory soap flakes for laundry detergent
  • Equal parts borax and baking soda for electric dishwashing detergent
  • Add to fresh flowers: two Tbsp. white vinegar, one tsp. sugar for each one quart water
  • 1/4 cup borax and 1/4 cup baking soda for all-purpose kitchen and bath cleaner; add salt as needed as an abrasive
I'm on board with the eco-cleaning, as soon as I find borax (it seems like a lot of the recipes include borax). These recipes provide yet another use for the glass jars that I love so much, and because they do not involve any chemicals, I can use rags for cleaning different things and then throw them all into the washing machine without worrying about different chemicals reacting.

All these cheap and easy cleaning solutions lead me to wonder: why did I ever start buying those toxic cleaners to begin with?