One of the things I enjoyed most on our recent trip to San Francisco was visiting the Fillmore neighbourhood (thanks Victoria SFGirlByBay for the recommendation!).
It reminded me a lot of my adored Notting Hill (still my spiritual home) – the quirky restaurants and shops, the people milling about (unusual to see in the US), even the colours of the white stucco buildings.
I was doubly thrilled when I got there as they now have the ‘Mod Model’ cushions back in stock. I’d added her to my Christmas list two years ago, but she she sold out too quickly, never to return until now.
I’ve thought about her a lot in the intervening two years, so this time we snatched her up even though she is fiendishly expensive. I’m a great believer in buying stuff you’re slightly obsessed with, whatever the cost. It works out more economically in the long run than buying a lot of cheap stuff that doesn’t quite float your boat. Or that’s what I tell myself anyway.
Here she is on our new sofa. She is very charismatic – like a portrait whose eyes follow you around the room.
I thought you might also like to see some pics of the Minx really, really, REALLY enjoying shopping at Jonathan Adler. (Though we already know she is a great fan of JA’s hubby Simon Doonan).
I always do, and not just because it’s Guy Fawkes Night.
Here’s a photo I apparently took on 7th November 2006. The view had been even worse over the previous two days, and that chink of light in the distance was a new and welcome development.
Four years ago, me, the Husband and a very small Minx woke up (at 2.30 am I might add, due to the Minx’s jetlag) in an apartment overlooking Puget Sound, ready to begin our new adventure in Seattle.
Record-breaking (so we later found out) torrents of rain were sheeting down the big glass windows, we had no decent food in the apartment, the Minx was bored with the eight books we had brought in our carry on luggage (the rest of her toys were following with our stuff) and was letting us know in no uncertain terms and we were utterly exhausted through sleep deprivation and getting everything packed and organised for our move.
If I’d had a return ticket I would have been on the next flight back.
You too can reminisce by reading my blog entries back then.
We intended to be here for only three years, but yes. four years later we’re still here with no plans to return. Life is a funny thing.
Oh we haven’t done one of these for ages, have we? So let’s get our
bitchpants critical thinking caps on and get to work.
My first name, courtesy of my Italian mother, has always been a source of great consternation to me – as so few people in either the UK or America have any clue how to pronounce or spell it (for the record, say ‘Pow-la’ in your best Italian accent and you’ll come pretty close) and I’ve had some pretty creative versions of both over the years.
Because my name is so unusual in English-speaking countries (Paolas are ten a penny in Italy) I’ve always had a soft spot for famous Paolas such as er, Queen Paola of Belgium and Italian product designer Paola Navone. In the latter case, it’s not just because of her illustrious name, but also because she designs some super cool stuff.
So I was very excited when September’s Livingetc featured her Milanese apartment – an old Parmesan cheese warehouse that was apparently in miserable condition until Navone recently rescued it.
The problem is that I’m not exactly thrilled by the interior design. The overlapping blues and greys, are beautiful in and of themselves, but there’s just too darn much blue everywhere and, coupled with all the hard tiling on floor and ceiling, it just looks so cold and uncomfortable, like living inside an icecube.
That might be appropriate in Morocco, or Greece, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Milan, and in winter it is often as dank, cold and foggy as Sarah Palin’s brain. The ceramic Moroccan stools; smooth, shiny Moroccan pouffes and Asian ceramic busts only add to the chill. Am I the only person who wants to add some snuggly orange cushions or thick, shaggy deep red rugs to the mix?
Also, and this is probably just me, there’s just a bit too much Moroccan going on in here. Don’t get me wrong, I love Moroccan design in and of itself and I love combining elements from an eclectic mix of cultures in a single space, as Navone mostly does to great effect. But the pasha’s boudoir above has strayed into ‘theme-bar’ territory and the Asian busts just seem incongruous and out of place.
But the real story here is the monotone colour. The blue is absolutely unrelenting, permeating every room in the apartment, though she goes wild and adds a little green to the kitchen, which, I’ll admit, I would kill several close family members to have in my house.
In isolation, each of these rooms is beautiful, as are many of the pieces in them. It’s just that the whole just seems so chilly and hard and the monotones are just well, monotonous. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the stylist had to, both literally and figuratively, turn the fire on, so as to liven up the spread.
You may be interested in Paola Navone’s other houses. Her Greek island home, which is a study in white, is here and her stunning Paris apartment, which is mostly white, with pops of colour, is here. I am obviously not remotely insanely jealous of anyone who has homes in Paris, Milan and Greece.
Cheryl Maeder carefully controls focus, blur and colour in her photos to create impressionistic but fleeting glimpses of an idyllic world – childhood nostalgia in art form.
I have no real idea how she does these. But they make me want to grab my camera and start experimenting right away.
You can buy Cheryl’s photos or check out her ‘Dreamscapes’ portfolio here.
Well my lovely cute little chickadees. Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Food Ninja competition, I apparently won the ‘Best Blog Post’ category and soon a cute and extremely funky looking Zojirushi rice cooker will be mine.
Thank you so much to all who voted. I’m completely amazed and tickled pink, especially as I can now tick off ‘Win something, anything’ from my 101 Things list, for a total of 3 things completed.
So you see voting thing works. There’s another teensy vote going on in the US today. Regular readers will probably know which side of the fence I’m on (I’ll give you a clue, two weeks ago I went to see Obama at a rally in Seattle) but I just wanted to urge everyone to get out and vote, whatever and whomever you’re voting for.
I can’t vote in US elections, but know full well how much impact they have, not just for Americans but for the rest of the world. And the whole world benefits from a vigorous, informed and engaged American electorate. So if you have a vote, count yourself lucky and go out and use it!
A propos, has anyone actually used a rice cooker? Are they useful? What sort of stuff do you cook in them? Are they good for brown rice and pilafs as well as Asian white rices? Where the heck am I going to find space for it in my kitchen?
One thing I’ve added to my 101 List is to learn Thai cookery. It’s so thoroughly and deliciously complex, looks so very beautiful and is a wonderful vehicle for consuming tons of healthy vegetables and lots of yummy seafood.
It’s also a cuisine about which I am almost completely ignorant. I love it, but rarely stray from Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup and Red Curries on the menus; never cook authentic Thai at home (though here’s a stab at inauthentic Thai) and have never been to Thailand.
For the purposes of the list I defined my goal as completing six workshops or classes on the subject over the next three years. I know that Thai cooking is as complex, if not more so, than French cuisine, but I figured that six workshops would be enough to give me a somewhat reasonable grounding.
The class in Thai Comfort Cooking I took at PCC in Greenlake was perfect for a beginner like me. The amazing teacher Pranee Halvorsen, is a lovely Thai lady from Phuket, despite the Norwegian married name. She took us through four courses of a Thai comfort food feast, with detailed recipes and wonderful stories, chopping and stir frying all the while and patiently answering all our questions.
She showed us her favourite products, talked about specific Thai techniques and ingredients, offered substitutions for difficult to get items and demonstrated how to make garnishes and ingredients such as sauteed shallots, crushed chilli peppers, vinegar and jalapeno condiment and dark soy sauce, and then served out each dish to eighteen people, so we got a fabulous lunch along the way.
By a huge coincidence Pranee had been a student with me at Jackie Baisa’s photography workshop, so she very kindly let me take photographs throughout the class. Again the overhead lighting was flat and unforgiving, but the dishes were too exquisite (and exquisitely delicious) not to look amazing whatever the photography.
I’ll be attempting to cook all of these dishes over the next few weeks so there will be recipes and more pics coming. In the meantime feast your eyes on these pics.