Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mr. Postman


When I was younger (ok maybe now that I'm older as well) I used to get way too excited for the mail to come. Everyday I would hope that some special surprise was waiting for me or a package had been mysteriously shipped to my address without my knowing, but I've found that the journey to the box is really not that fun anymore. All of my info comes in the email form, scribed in the old stand by "Times New Roman" or if the sender is feeling a little creative, "Courier New" as an unexpected option. No pen marks, cross hatches, or water spots from tears running down the page, just a virtual reproduction of the robot who has mysteriously replaced your living friends. In other words, I miss my handwriting and serif and sans serif options just aren't cutting it. Luckily, I was introduced to fontcapture, a website that provides a template you print out, fill in the letters with your own hand (thank god for kindergarten lessons), and scan back in to the computer. Fontcapture then takes your scanned image and creates a font that you can use with many programs on your computer. Now your emails can once again be lifelike and and a trip to the virtual mailbox may be just as pleasing as the metal one gathering dust outside.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Surfing lessons


While it seems pretty ridiculous to plan for a Springtime wardrobe before Fall has even had a chance to make an appearance, I think there is no time like the present to prepare for a quickly approaching trend. Californians have many stereotypes pertaining to the beach, and while not all of us are pulling on our wetsuits at 6 am hoping to catch the first set, the fashion world seems to think we should be. Fresh off the heels of London fashion week, Milan is beginning to show Spring 2010 collections that chant the mantra "when the economy is crashing around us, just go to the beach and forget about it"... I'm in. Versace's fantasy collection had no shortage of over-glossed blond hair and tan legs required for Malibu's beaches, as well as outfits hinting at wetsuits, while Prada chose to tie back the salted hair to reveal clothes printed with actual images of the beach. Earlier this month on the fashion trail, Proenza Schouler sent his models down the runway with tangled green tinted hair (the pool-time faux pas of fair complexion girls has now become acceptable) as well as form fitting patterns that once thrived on Body Glove swimwear.

One of the perks of living in a county that doesn't have snow is the ability to try Spring trends while the rest of the country is bundled in their down jackets. Even if your tan is beginning to fade, adopt the new year's color palate and go for a pastel hue or shocking yellow paired with a sandy beige. By the time the east coast and midwest are shopping for their faux beach wardrobe, the rightful owners of the surf trend will be seasoned professionals.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cabinet of curiosity


Diagrams of dissection line the walls, small ceramic heads fill the dark wood shelves in the back, and in front of you are cases of bugs and rather disturbing marionette dolls. While this would be the perfect introduction in a re-staging of the ever-popular "Are You Afraid of the Dark", it's actually the layout of a high end home decorating store (I use that term home decorating lightly because it takes a certain person and a certain home to appreciate the goods available at this location). These curiosities are available to valley dwellers at Gold Bug. Those who live closer to the ocean have the opportunity to go to an equally interesting store called Obsolete, located on Main st. in Venice.

Gold Bug is located in Pasadena on a street that is quickly becoming one my favorite hidden blocks, Union. Nestled under a parking structure, this storefront prides itself as being a "Contemporary Cabinet of Curiosities" and upon entering, the 1920's metal medicinal cabinet realizes this tagline (sniffing salts not included). While this store is deserving of many hours spent digging through turn of the century medical posters and cases of delicate twig and avian inspired jewelry, I repeatedly returned to two all black photos hung high on the wall, framed in ornate matte black wood. The images, by artist Bruce Wolf, were of a dead bird and a small hamster head created for a series called "Death by Cat" and while this sounds incredibly disturbing, the final products were no where near as morbid. No doubt it falls in the conversation piece category of one's home, but wouldn't you rather keep your guests on their toes as they cautiously search your home for other "alternative" decorating choices? Gold Bug is having an opening for Bruce's photos on October 9th complete with artist schmoozing and petting zoo and no fear to the weak-stomached, the animals in attendance will be alive.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In the kitchen: Cooking with knives


In an attempt to entice more guys to venture into the kitchen and cook something for themselves...or a girl, I decided to ask my friend Ben to prepare one of his favorite meals using a certain tool that I believe should become a staple in any kitchen, a samurai sword. Well, not exactly the military sabre often associated with iron clad warriors nor the ones strapped to the back of a black clad ninja jumping from roof to thatched roof (you will be forgiven for picturing that). A more compact tanto blade (6- 12 inches) is the acceptable kitchen variety and the one in question is a Shun chef's knife. Its incredibly sharp edge comes from 16 layers of high-carbon stainless steel hammered into one sheet (I was told Ben spent hours methodically shaving a pear into paper thin layers the day he received this gift). After asking Ben to explain more about this tool, he jokingly replied "Don't play with my knife, it isn't a toy." Despite the jovial remark I decided it was best to admire from a distance.

To begin his meal, Ben marinated chicken breasts in lemon juice, mustard, and rosemary for 30 minutes. He then chopped (or rather sliced with ninja-like grace) mushrooms, red peppers, potatoes, and squash. All of the vegetables were sauteed with more rosemary and a little olive oil. The chicken was removed from the marinade and sauteed as well. A fairly simple meal that has proven itself successful with others, or as Ben put it, "when I need a little me time". Thanks for sharing your "me time".

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My driver has the day off


While perusing the aisles in Target I began to feel the pangs of living in a city that has no real demarcation of seasons. Our Summer blends into Fall, culminates in a new year's heatwave, and slowly drops into a "rainy season" that lasts until...Summer. I do understand that I am making a horrible generalization of California weather (yes, appreciate the beauty that is year round sun, I get it), but for once I would like to buy some Fall accessories that I can actually wear. Back to Target and hanging amongst the leather gloves, that you will ultimately buy as gifts for Midwest relatives, I found a surprisingly well-made pair of driving gloves. The gloves hit right above the wrist and provide more style than warmth leading me to believe they are the West Coast's answer to brisk mornings, not to mention a great way to fit in at your local biker bar. I fell in love with the 3.1 Phillip Lim pair pictured above, but for the time being, my hands and steering wheel will do just fine with Target's pair.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Sun King would be proud

Louis XIV put France on the map when it came to food, fashion, and all things francophile. While the clothes became remarkably more elaborate (hence the creation of the elite haute couture) the food, as well, could be measured with the same eye for craftsmanship. In other words, France dictated and we followed. Fast forward a few hundred years as well as several thousand miles and the Sun King's accomplishments can be found on the corner of Grand and 7th in downtown Los Angeles. Is it that woman selling bacon wrapped hot dogs from a jerry-rigged grill? Not quite, it's the glistening white and gold building behind her, Bottega Louie, or "Louie", as the stark moniker advertises above its over-sized glass doors.

I've played with a few terms while attempting to describe this locale, restaurant, marketplace, gastropub, but I'm never satisfied with my choice. Probably because Louie is so freaking good that my giddy explanations paint me more like a child than food aficionado. The real reason this downtown spot is so worthy of excitement is the fact that while most of what Louie does has been seen or tried before, the experience of dining under its high ceilings and French cartouches feels completely European. Don't deny that if you live in a big city with everything at your fingertips, you have been conditioned to search for the elusive European style (your coffee says French or Italian roast doesn't it?) The front doors lead directly to the pastry and fresh fare cases, providing an option for those in need of a quick lunch, coffee... half bottle of champagne and chocolates perhaps. Venturing further into the cavernous space reveals a bar fully equipped with small wooden tables generally associated with the cafe lifestyle synonymous with Parisian people watching and a dining room that allows views of the kitchen, street, and table of PYT's in the corner.

The food? What I can provide is this: I've learned that exotic seasonings and unexpected touches are generally reserved for cuisine that is deserving enough of these specialties. The first time I sat at one of Louie's tables, rather than finding the usual white table salt paired with pepper, I was presented with an unassuming bottle of pink Himalayan salt. The menu impresses, but the details are unforgettable.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fashion quest: over the knee


I find it pretty easy to make a laundry list of Fall clothes I need to have, but at what point does it become a lust list rather than a must list? The knee high boot I believe to fall in the latter category. While I am all for the eighties styling of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, if you are searching for a pleather pair of thigh highs, please just stop reading, go down to Hollywood Boulevard and buy yourself a pair, you are most likely a hooker.

My search begins with the quest for a lasting pair of boots, ones that garner compliments rather than odd stares as I enter a room. While a large handful of designers are debuting over the knee styles, it is possible to spend little on a trend that will probably last for a number of seasons. While lusting after a pair of thigh grazing Louboutins and surprisingly practical pair of flat Chloe boots, I stumbled upon an amazing website that lists every brand at every price point. My choice would be the Steve Madden "Blondee" boots, but now that I have every possible option at my fingertips I can foresee my Fall list growing exponentially. Maybe I'll throw in a studded pair while I'm at it, forcing me to tweak the rules of saving for a rainy day into saving until something tall and leather comes my way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Make my house a home: record players



I am a big believer in movie soundtracks and their ability to control the emotional direction of a movie, which is why I secretly wish my everyday life included a personal DJ who followed a few steps behind, providing musical narration to my actions. Think of how exciting grocery shopping would be if hidden among the milk and yogurt a DJ sat playing a peppy little number to shadow your trot down the aisle, or how a descent in an airplane would be so much better if a little Arlo Guthrie was playing.

While I'm still working out the details on acquiring a life soundtrack the closest thing I can offer is buying a record player. Thanks to my fiance's recent purchase of a player and acquisition of some of his dad's best LP's, I can fully say that I am a believer of record players in the home. Take the imperfect quality add a movie-worthy scene with a loved one and you'll swear the Sundance channel was somewhere in your house filming. Cue Zooey Deschanel as the quirky dinner guest.

If you too want to augment your slightly unfinished home with vintage sounds scour any Salvation Army, Goodwill, or local music stores for slightly worn record players. They shouldn't cost too much and a little tinkering will go a long way while saving more money, then visit Amoeba music for the largest selection of LP's (cheap $1 bins to collector's prices).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Girls know how to make picnics

Last night was the closer of the Hollywood Bowl's summer series where rainbow lights, fireworks, feathers, and toned bodies graced the open air theater during one of LA's first chilly nights of the ending season. The beautiful land of Brazil was the theme and the toned bodies were courtesy of the samba dancers parading across the thin stage dividing the expensive seats from the "these are courtesy of my boss" seats.

The concert and scenery were the keys to a great night, but the picnic made by me and my group of four was the highlight, causing one of us to exclaim "girls are just better at putting together picnics". After devouring the quiche, sesame seed butter pad thai, veggies, panzanella, and oatmeal cookies...and a few bottles of assorted bubbles, we were ready to listen to the tropical sounds of Seu Jorge and Bebel Gilberto.

Wait, what was that...panzanella? Your spell check wants to say patella or Petronella doesn't it? It's a real word for an Italian salad with bread and tomatoes, or I like to think of it as a garden salad minus the lettuce. Make it as an homage to the passing summer or do as my friends and I did and include it in an impromptu potluck meal. It is pretty easy to make and so tasty, but to make it even better (actually to make it fabulous) play this song as you parade into your picnic, Italian men swooning at your feet.

Leather legs and Kati Heck

This past Saturday was the opening of Kati Heck's exhibition at Marc Selwyn Fine Art accompanied by a performance by her troop, bissy bunder. I could try to describe what occurred on the cement floor of the gallery, but I will never be able to do it justice.

Just watch:


Needless to say, the performance put on by Kati along with four other German girls was incredible, but even more visually appealing are the large scale paintings flanking the four walls of the gallery. The trend seems to be that bigger is better and Ms. Heck's paintings are no exception. The concern of becoming lost on the walls is forgotten while viewing the heavy raw canvas paintings extending well above the tallest of gallery patrons. Her playful objects blend seamlessly into skilled renderings of the human figure, linger for a few body parts, then resume their colorful trail across the canvas.

Exhibition openings like these always bring out an array of fashions. When the artist is wearing a water bottle bra and nude underwear it's safe to say you are given free reign to wear whatever you want. I chose to wear a pair of leather leggings and chain strap heels I found on sale at Urban Outfitters along with a white silk H&M blouse. Leather is an interesting fabric, not only does it somehow invite everyone to feel your legs, but I also found myself unknowingly petting my own legs...so soft. Whether it was the "don't mess with me" sign my pants and shoes presented to onlookers or the excitement of being that mysterious girl in biker pants, I'm ready to take a cue from YSL's leather heavy fall collection and confidently strut into Fall.

Kati Heck's show is up until October 24th. While Saturday was a free for all, I would recommend visiting the gallery fully clothed during business hours.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You're in Downtown now

A velour blanket of Eazy-E hangs on one wall, staring across the dance floor to a classic portrait of Napoleon. Meeting them in the middle is a velvet painting of a seventies style porn star in an iconic full-frontal pose. The sensory overload should end here, but this flea market assortment of goods is only the beginning in downtown LA's hole-in-the-wall dive, Bar 107. Before you even make it to said Eazy-E blanket, located in the steamy back room of the bar, you're invited to walk the narrow path among bar stools and leather booths, yell for a 24 oz. can of Pabst or Tecate, and stare in bewildered excitement at the array of Goodwill finds this bar has adorned their local haven with. If the promise of large cans of beer at low prices isn't enough to entice you, maybe the $2 photobooth in the back will suffice. That's a classic photobooth by the way, none of those digital pristine color booths attempting to takeover.

Some nights are hit and miss with the music, but last week's sing-a-long to Frank Sinatra was a highlight for me. Just make sure you stand in front of one of the industrial fans while dancing and give up all hope of looking presentable at the end of the night. The people who have the most fun are the ones walking out with their hair pulled back and a few layers of makeup missing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Welcome

You found my page! Congratulations. But now you're asking, where am I and what's going on here? Well right now, not too much, but give it time and this blog will be swimming with daily discoveries, DIY's, exciting events, interesting places, or pearls of wisdom as told through my illustrative style. My hopes are that you use this page to style your life, learn about my world, and follow the characters that animate it.

-Jax