Friday, February 26, 2010

Kawaii Chiaki

In my constant search for all things kawaii during my time in Japan (still missing it so much!), I came upon this mook.

Since I read almost no Japanese, I know next to nothing about Chiaki, except that she's a Japanese pop singer who has a daughter.  Mostly I know is that her aesthetic is pretty adorable.  

I found this mook in a department store several years ago but didn't buy it at the time.  I happened upon it serendipitously last year on and knew I should get it, especially since I found a cheap used copy (I don't just miss Japan, I miss Amazon Japan!).

I'll share a different Chiaki mook another time.  I hope her world is as sweet as it looks.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grandmother's Sewing Tins

She now spends her days in an assisted living apartment.  She naps, reads the paper, takes calls from friends, and receives occasional visitors, most often her dear friend (also 91, still living alone) or my mother-in-law.  She's never been much for T.V., but she does like her news programs on the radio.

Years ago, like most other women of the Great Depression, she used to sew.  By the time I was born, she no longer sewed out of necessity; sewing became a hobby, taken up less frequently with each passing year.  But when I decided I wanted to learn, she was my first teacher.  When she came to stay with me while my parents were traveling, I completed my first 4-h project, an apron, under her tutelage.

I still sew today, but--like Grandmother--not out of necessity.  Last summer, my family went through many things in her home, which we continue to maintain.  I was encouraged, as her only grandchild, to take anything I wanted.  I sent a wide variety of items along in our crates to Germany, among them a couple of tins that had been filled with some of Grandmother's sewing supplies.  She had a serious supply of trims and bias tape!  I took anything that was beautiful or that I felt I'd use in my own sewing. 

The Girl and I spent a pleasant afternoon hunting for treasures (buttons and jewelry to be shown later).  Somehow into one tin went a few miscellaneous items, including a couple of wonderful vintage brooches and Grandmother's library card from Chicago back in the '50s.  

I love it all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rednesday, and Roman Holiday

Red + Wednesday=Rednesday at It's a Very Cherry World, and this is my first contribution.  I should be able to participate regularly, because though I rarely wear red, I do love it in my home.  

Something else I love is Audrey Hepburn movies.  My mom introduced them to me when I was in my teens, and now that I have my own teenage daughter, I'm sharing them with her (my son, too, though he often feigns a lack of interest, at first).

Last night we watched Roman Holiday.  It's cool to see Audrey in her first starring role, for which she won an Academy Award!  The Girl was impressed that the movie itself garnered ten Oscar noms; in addition to Audrey's Oscar, there were wins for Writing and for Costume Design (Edith Head--see this great post about her by Willow).

Since the movie was actually filmed in Rome instead of on a Hollywood set, it was fun showing The Girl places that her dad and I had visited fifteen years ago, including the Spanish Steps, the Coliseum, and the Forum.  The Girl and The Boy will likely get to toss their own coins in Fontana Trevi sometime in the next few years.

Do you have a favorite Audrey Hepburn movie?  It's hard for me to choose, but several that come to mind are Funny Face, Wait Until Dark, Charade, and Sabrina...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hotel Forum

Here, my second post for Willow's Magpie Tales:

"Pardon, do you have a light?"

Margaret looked up from her half-finished café au lait and croissant at a young, curly-haired man leaning forward in his seat at an adjacent outdoor table.  His linen jacket and striped button-down, paired with fashionably ripped dark-wash jeans, looked expensive but rumpled, giving him the air of a slightly down-at-the-heels aristocrat or slumming rock star.

Before responding, Margaret briefly considered a curt reply.  What was it with these French guys, always expecting women to carry lighters?  Maybe it was "code," something French women knew that American women didn't.  Maybe all French women carried lighters whether or not they smoked, in the hopes of making a café connection like this with an eligible Parisian.  As always, it seemed to Margaret that she had a lot to learn about men, and about French men, in particular.  Frankly, it could all be a little overwhelming, these games people played.

But perhaps he actually had misplaced his lighter or matches.  Who was she to say?  A polite response,  coupled with a question, formed on her lips: "No, sorry, I don't have a light.  But how did you know that I speak English?"

"Ah, well, the book you have there on the table, it is in English, yes?  The Elegance of the Hedgehog--I know it was first a French novel."

Margaret felt her face starting to burn, and she just hoped the blush wasn't spreading downward into those unattractive splotches that freakishly appeared on her chest at the most inopportune of moments.  Already, this stranger was getting to her.  After all, he'd heard of this book: not bad, not bad at all.  She cast a darting glance down at the handmade bird pendant hanging from a silk cord around her neck.  No splotches yet, apparently.

The stranger saw the bird, too.  "Where did you get that necklace?  It is very interesting."

"It came from--oh!  Wait a second!"  Margaret reached across the table to the other bentwood chair, empty save the flowered oilcloth bag her sister had given her before the trip.  She rummaged briefly but intently in the bag until her right hand emerged with its intended plunder: a box of matches she'd picked up in Bratislava because she'd liked the graphics.

"Here you go--I forgot that I had these.  I don't smoke, but I do like matchboxes."

He smiled and took the offered matches, lightly brushing her hand as he did so.

"Hotel Forum, Bratislava.  What a coincidence, my uncle owns this hotel!"  He struck a match and finally lit his waiting Gauloise.

"Really?  I stayed there when I went to visit my brother.  He's working in Slovakia!"

He gave a hesitant laugh and looked a bit sheepish.  "Non, I am just joking.  I thought it would be fun to say, like something a person might say in a silly romance novel.  But I do not think you read novels like that.  Now about the necklace.  May I take a closer look?"

Margaret leaned forward and felt his hand slide under the pendant, as smoke curled upward and coffees sat forgotten.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Big Americans

So is this how Germans really see us--crispy outside, soft inside?  And excuse me, Dr. Oetker, but you and your fellow countrymen aren't exactly small, yourselves.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Carnival Time

We visited good friends--we'd spent five years together in Japan--in The Netherlands on Sunday.  It happened to be the day of the year when cities and towns host their own "Carnaval" parades, which tend to be--in true Carnival fashion--wildly-creative, silly, and fun.  Merkelbeek's celebration didn't disappoint; the village parade came right down the street in front of our friends' house, so that was an unexpected treat for us.

The beer was flowing, but everyone behaved, at least temporarily.  I would say a good time was had by all, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Silver Pitcher

I've joined in Willow's first Magpie Tales creative writing prompt today.  Willow will be hosting these muse-feeding opportunities weekly, and each one will be based on one of her own photos.  Feel free to play along next time!  Here's the first photo; my creative interpretation follows.
She sat staring, mesmerized by drifting motes of dust, as the late-afternoon sun filtered in through the lace-curtained window.  When would he return?  She could guess--a month, perhaps, possibly two--but she never really knew, and this time was no different. He assured her repeatedly that his heart was hers, but uncertainty plagued her mind, as it always did when he left.  

Was it enough that today he'd warily handed her a prized antique, a "large token" of his affection, as he liked to call his gifts?  Usually he brought her these tokens from his travels, but this morning, he'd knocked at the door early in his pea coat and tweed hat to tell her he'd be leaving right away, and he'd like for her to have his grandmother's pitcher.

He'd stayed only a few minutes, not even removing his coat and hat, but taking a moment to place the pitcher in "just the right spot"on a shelf opposite her old farm table.  Since he'd kissed her goodbye and walked out the door into the chilly drizzle, she'd tried to eat, work on her sewing, and go about her other regular activities.  But she kept returning throughout the day, insulated by the adjacent window from the vast changes in the weather, to sit at the table and gaze at the pitcher.  Its etched design and gentle curves pleased her immensely, and there was inherent sentiment that touched her on some level.  

But the weathered pitcher also brought to mind the tarnish in her world: a long-time wearing away of hope for a normal, civilized life built around a steady relationship.  Clearly the pitcher had aged well, though, and as she sat it occurred to her that perhaps her heart might do the same, that a few spots of tarnish might even provide the character and freedom from certain expectations that could make a life quite extraordinary.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fairytale Style: Deborah Turbeville and San Miguel

I have a soft spot in my heart for San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, after spending five blissful summer weeks there in 1997 with The Husband and The Girl, who had just turned two.  Our ostensible reason for being there was so The Husband could take a month-long Spanish class (where he first met our dear,  peripatetic friend Asya).  I mostly hung out with The Girl in our rented apartment until "school" was out each day, after which we would all walk the short distance downtown to el jardin, the heart of San Miguel.  We loved just sitting on park benches there, watching cavorting children, giggling teens, wandering mariachi bands, and balloon-sellers, or heading around the corner for some of the cheapest, tastiest, and most unique tacos we'd ever eaten.

I also took a two-day photography workshop in San Miguel--the best thing I've ever done for developing an eye for good settings, lighting, and subjects in my photography.  So when I linked from Poppytalk to this feature on Toast Travels (I love Toast!), it brought back memories in a way I can't quite explain.

We did a tour of homes in San Miguel that was unbelievable, yet I'm almost certain we didn't see Casa No Name, the home of acclaimed photographer and artist Deborah Turbeville.  Still, it seems familiar.  And the photography in these books is nothing short of spectacular.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Introducing A Small Village and a Small Dog

I figure it's about time I make the proper introductions.  I live in a German village that's attached to a larger German town.  When referring recently to this particular area as "the country," The Husband and I were gently corrected by German friends (you see, this is not the country--there are shops and restaurants here!  Oh.  Right.).

Since it was quite cold but almost sunny yesterday around noon, I decided to head out for a short walk around part of the village.  I took a few representative photos; I would have taken more except that I had to attend to this little guy, our family's new addition, who didn't really see the need to be still during photography shenanigans:
I know.  He couldn't be any cuter!

His name is Yoshi, and he's a Biewer Yorkshire Terrier.  He'd like you to know that his birthday is October 1, in case you were thinking of sending a gift.

Now, for some typical village scenery.

Leaving the village--is that the country?

Enthralling, yes?  Suspicious Kitty assures you that there will be more village photos to come...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Vintage Anthropologie: Beyond the Whims of Fashion

When I was shuffling through my living room magazine basket recently, I noticed that I had amassed a couple of years' worth of Anthropologie catalogs.  This was not by accident, really--I just love the styling in them and couldn't bear to throw them out, though I'd certainly donated many other catalogs and magazines to the recycling bin during that same period of time.

After flipping through a few, what I'd believed all along was confirmed:  almost everything offered by Anthro is timeless.  In the wake of this non-epiphany, I now present the first in a series of looks back at these catalogs, called Vintage Anthropologie: Beyond the Whims of Fashion.  Remember to click on the photos if you want to see them full-size.  Enjoy some of my favorites!

all photos from January 2008 catalog

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fairytale Style: Sally Scott

Leave it to a Japanese label to dream up this kind of simple but cozy but cool clothing.  Yes, Sally Scott "lives" in Japan and the site is in Japanese--and no, I can't read it, either.  But just have a look:

Thanks to Eddy and Edwina for the introduction...

Watch a few of the tiny videos from the 2009-2010 Autumn and Winter Collection to get an idea of what Sally Scott is about.  The model reminds me a lot of my daughter.

I'll be watching for the Spring and Summer Collection videos...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fairytale Video: Vanessa Bruno's Le Bel Eté

found at Bakerby

As a pianist, former recreational dancer, and onetime White Sands-sledder, I just had to share this, in case you haven't seen it.  It's so whimsical, and the music by Yacht and Gonzales is inspired.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I wouldn't mind being invited to lunch on a chilly day with Lyn Mogensen.  Would you like to join me?

images from Living and More's Country Living, Jan./Feb. 2010 (click on photos to see them full-size)

Tomato tarts, mixed vintage tableware, a winter greens salad with citron dressing, beef and onion stew served in a le Creuset Dutch oven, good bread and wine, and dessert next to the fireplace with cocoa in aged silver cups:  my kind of afternoon!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Valentine's Day Garland

I won this adorable garland kit in a giveaway last year at Domestic Anarchy (sadly, it appears Maddie isn't blogging anymore).  I didn't get the garland put together until this year, though, because I wasn't home around Valentine's Day 2009--per usual, the kids and I were visiting family and friends in the States.  This year, The Husband and I will actually get to spend Valentine's Day together for the first time in who-knows-how-long--weird!  So, I felt inspired to get out the glue gun, scissors, pinking shears, and glitter glue so I could finally get my garland assembled and up.   

Very cute, I'm thinking!  You can print out your own Valentines and Bingo cards by going here:

And have a look at these other wonderful Valentine's Day freebies: 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fifteen English Homes

I picked up a tiny limited edition, numbered art book by John Dilnot at Liberty on Boxing Day, following a late Afternoon Tea with the fam.  I spotted this little treasure on a sale table and knew I had to have it.

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