Now that cyber monday is over, its important to be aware of smart, affordable gifts for one and all. Usually, I just think about all the things that I've wanted to buy all year, for myself and for others. But now that I have my own home I really love the idea of gifting holiday items. It's fun and jolly!
The first thing I want to mention is the lovely advent calendar, pictured above, that my mum sent for Felix. She got it at the National Gallery in London, and each door opens to a different painting that hangs in the gallery. So sweet! It's nice to have special things you only put out during the holidays. It also makes sense to me that seasonal housewares and decorations make perfect host gifts. Things like this:
felted wool radish ornaments $10 for set of 3
noel, by crabtree and evelyn: the perfect seasonal combination of cedar and spice (the incense is the best, but they don't even make it anymore)
rim cookie cutter $6.50 for 3
glass oyster ornament $8.99
striped taper candles--similar here, $24 a pair
the classiest of all christmas albums, about $15 on vinyl
midcentury paper ornaments $8 for set of 2
the most delicious tin of biscuits
I've spoken before about how I feel that, under the influence of Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel as a brand has shifted away from its original concept of modern, androgynous, anti-oppulent chic. While I don't pretend to be an expert in these things, the recent discussions I've been having in school regarding "branding" have made it all the more clear to me that Lagerfeld's actions constitute a blatant break from brand ethos. After all, Coco herself said that "luxury is the opposite of vulgarity"--I wonder what she'd have to say about the graffiti backpack, for example? Trendy? Yes. Fashion-forward? Perhaps... but chic, I'm afraid, it is not (personally, I see it as an insult to the consumer to sell for hundreds of dollars something that could easily be achieved on one's own with more individuality--and almost certainly, with more aesthetic appeal) But it doesn't stop there. Lately, Lagerfeld's shows have become more about spectacle than the clothes themselves. Texas hoedowns, kitty-cat inspired capsule collections, and a recently-cemented brand affiliation with the extended Kardashian Klan aren't helping. It's just all so gaudy. Suffice it to say, I'm not a fan... and I'd wager Chanel herself wouldn't have been, either (pure conjecture, obviously).
The exception to this general trend of degradation is the label's ad campaign for its line of luxury timepieces: L'Instant Chanel. Here at least, Chanel's own brand of understated elegance seems to be maintained. These ads are so simple, clever, classic--and, despite the fact that each of them depicts a certain time of day, truly timeless. Too bad watches are a thing of the past!
I will occasionally complain about the limitations and demands of being a mother and a student, but sometimes it's really an advantage. For example, last saturday, Felix and I took the bus--for free, because my student id card doubles as a buss pass and he won't have to pay until he's 5--to the carnegie museum of art and carnegie museum of natural history where we also got in free, for the same reasons.
Last time, we went almost immediately to the dinosaurs, and when we finally we made it to the art gallery, Felix was tired and expressly not interested. This time around, I got smart. I realized: he doesn't know his way around! He has to go wherever I go. It's so obvious! And so I got my way, at least for a little while.
Though we inevitably spent most of our time looking at dinosaurs, one thing we could both agree on was the latest installation by Sebastian Errazuris: "Look Again."
I had no idea that this was here in town but I'm so glad it is! It's the first-ever solo exhibit for the Chilean-born, New-York based artist, which must be so exciting for him! You should go see it if you can--it's a really comprehensive collection of his work. If nothing else, do it for his porcupine cabinet:
I love what he does with furniture and sculpture. It's novel and innovative, but it also makes perfect sense. Like the piano shelf, which is comprised of individual sections that can be raised and lowered to accommodate any and all of your stuff. Not only is this beyond clever, the lowered sections of shelf also leave a blank space of wall, framing the objects you're choosing to display. Ingenious.
This is an artists whose every work I want to mention, but if you want to know more it would be easier for you to visit his website. And don't forget to see this exhibit if you can. Inspirational!
I don't care what they say--gradskool is hard! Like srsly. You may or may not have noticed that I've been having trouble keeping up with you, my sweetbabychildren. It's the story of my whole entire life right now. I can't even keep up with my magazine subscriptions! Consequently, this next is from the October issue of Vogue, so you may have already seen it, but please excuse me and let's talk about it anyway, because I've been staring at it for days.
What is up with Natalia Vodianova? I've loved every single editorial she's ever been in, so I've probably said this exact same sentence before, but this time I really mean it: I want this story, by Annie Leibovitz, to be my entire life forever. Geese and all. Talk about autumnautical, amirite?! Actually, it's almost eerily similar to that story Leibovitz did with Adam Driver and Daria Werbowy two years ago, but that's just fine with me--I wish everything looked like this! Too too perfect. Plus I'm pretty sure I'd wear every single piece of clothing featured, which is not something I say very often.
A few weeks ago, I asked a friend of mine if she'd like to attend the next Party in the Tropics at Phipps Conservatory... have you ever been? Held in the tropical forest conservatory, this reoccurring event sounds like a dream night: cocktails, canapés, a presumably adequate DJ, and of course the most beautiful setting. So steamy! The first one I ever knew about was coincidentally scheduled on the very first birthday I celebrated here in Pittsburgh... but due to lack of a date/lack of a babysitter, I missed it! And it seems I'll be missing this one, too! Bummertown. Dragsville.
But it's not so bad... who even likes parties, anyway? It's been a long time since I had a proper Ball at a social gathering. Parties always sound fun, but in real life, they can be exhausting. Either there's no one to talk to, or you get cornered by some weirdo. It's inevitable. Or maybe it's just me? Judging by this recent post, Women Having A Terrible Time At Parties In Western Art History, blogger/kindred spirit Mallory Ortberg knows what I'm talking about, at least.
Clearly this is my way of consoling myself in the face of my longstanding inability to partake in social activities past 8:00pm... but, motherhood is great, I promise! And if you have super fun plans this weekend, please enjoy them! Enjoy your freedom!
images via the toast
When asked how our school year is going so far, my response is usually something like, "It'll be better once we get into the swing of things." Not to say it isn't going well--it's only been a week after all! But having begun the semester right before a three day weekend, I don't think either me or The Boy are yet in our groove. People always stress the importance of establishing a routine for little ones, but I find a daily regimen truly integral to my own peace of mind. Now that I've begun my masters program, there's no way I'll be able to stay on top of everything without devoting specific times of day to work, study, chores, et cetera. Writing takes concentration, after all, and it's hard for me to get in the right mindset at the drop of a hat. Obviously, I'm not alone in this--writers are known for their strict regimens and quirky habits. But, does all this planning and self control really work? Can you truly enhance your productivity by dictating your daily routine? Writer and Renaissance Woman Maria Popova shares my curiosity. Below, see the handy info graphic she compiled for Brain Pickings Magazine, which neatly expresses the relationship of various famous author's wake-up times to their literary accomplishments. Whether the relationships here expressed are causal or merely correlative, I find them fascinating!
I've always been an early riser, mornings being my most productive time of day. However, when you're consistently awoken by a certain someone at 5:00am (or earlier!) for the past two weeks running, mornings can lose their magic. Not to mention the detrimental effect said young person's presence has on my ability to concentrate. The implication above is that these individuals had the luxury of choosing to wake up at 4:00am. Notably missing from this analysis is the number of children each of these individuals were responsible for when writing their various masterpieces--another study altogether, and one I'd like to see!
Portraits by Wendy Macnaughton