Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lights Searching

A couple of nights ago, I was walking along the outside of Kensington Gardens.  The sidewalks were empty and the streets relatively quiet.  Lost in my own thoughts, I happened upon the Albert Memorial, aglow in the late evening.

Queen Victoria famously went into mourning when her husband, Prince Albert, passed away.  She honored him in countless ways throughout London – from Royal Albert Hall to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

And yet this Memorial struck me, with its lonely statue of Prince Albert, lights searching through the dark night.  To love and long for someone that much.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dispatch from London

So, I decided to move to London.  In middle school, I became obsessed with England (which was a little disappointing for my dad, as the majority of his ancestors are Scottish.  See the movie, Braveheart.)  But I couldn't get enough of England.  I read books about royalty and English history.  I combed through magazines looking for British products and clothes.  I searched television channels for English sporting events.  My obsession was cemented after my aunt began going to England for business.  After each trip, she would bring me back gifts.  One time it was a scarf from Liberty.  Another time it was a Filofax planner.  I began daydreaming about living in London.

I never studied abroad in college for a variety of reasons, and I kept chugging away at school and my career.  Over the past few years I've traveled to London several times, and I never quite gave up the notion of moving to London.  So a couple of months ago, I decided to make some changes in my life and jaunt across the pond.  I plan on living in London a few months, sprinkled with lots of side trips!  I am staying at a hotel right now, but have rented a flat for the rest of my time here.  I've barely been here a day, and I don't think it's completely sunk in that I am going to live here for the next several months.  I can't wait to see where all of this leads and hope you'll join me on this adventure!

Friday, June 28, 2013


Let's be honest, there's not a lot to say here other than I freaking love the color of orange.  I have a bizarrely large number of clothing items and accessories that are orange.  Orange is a good punch of vibrant color and also warms up an outfit.  When I was reorganizing my bookcase the other day, I realized I had a lot of orange books as well.  Season of Blood, Grace and Creativity at Work are three of my favorite books, and I love the china dish on top.  My dad purchased the dish when he was stationed in Asia.  The delicate design and the splash of blue are just lovely.  What are some of your favorite accent colors?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Friend, Carole Radziwill

When I was twenty-three years old, my dad passed away.  I struggled with the swift and shocking loneliness of the situation.  I felt as though none of my friends understood, because at the relatively young age of twenty-three, few of my peers had lost a parent.  And so I poured over the memoirs of people who had lost a loved one.  The words of Joan Didion and Calvin Trillin and Carole Radziwill became my friends.

Carole Radziwill is the widow of Anthony Radziwill.  Anthony was the son of Lee Bouvier Radziwill and the cousin of John F. Kennedy, Jr.  Carole wrote a moving book about the experience of Anthony being diagnosed with and dying from cancer.  I read the book several times, as though I was having a conversation with an old friend over and over again.  Sentences were underlined; pages were dogeared; margins were filled with notes.  

In the book, Carole describes a scene in a hospital when it appears that Anthony is not going to make it through the night:

“Tonypro,” he (John F. Kennedy, Jr.) says quietly and grabs Anthony’s hand.  John’s shoes are black and shiny.  His bow tie is undone.  His tuxedo looks comical in the yellow lights of the ICU.

He begins humming, and then there are words.  We can barely hear him, but Anthony does, and he smiles.  His eyes are still closed, but they seem more relaxed when he smiles, and then his mouth starts to move along with John’s.

If you go down to the woods today,
You’re sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today,
You’d better go in disguise.
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain because
Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

They sing together softly, this children’s song, with their hands clasped like little boys.  They sing it over and over, John holding tightly on to Anthony’s hand.  They are in a place that no one else has ever been or could ever go, singing a song that John’s mother used to sing to the two of them.  The boys who laughed and played and sang silly songs are all grown up now – John in a tuxedo, Anthony in a hospital gown.

The doctors think Anthony will die tonight, and John takes him to the safest place he knows.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to Remain an Artist

Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.  -- Pablo Picasso

When I was little, I would follow my mom around the house with her old reporter’s notepads, interviewing her and taking down notes.  Then I’d write a summary of the interview in the notepad.  In the back of my dad’s closet, there’s half a dozen old reporter’s notepads full of my notes and summaries. 

Likely needing a break from my incessant questioning, my parents hired an artist from Hallmark to give me art lessons.  I sat at a glass table, drawing a cerulean fish and its shimmering scales with oil pastels.  
We went to an art supply store, and I got to pick out my own canvases on which to paint.  I penciled a portrait of myself and sketched body forms.  

My parents also enrolled me in an art camp at The Nelson-Atkins art museum.  I spent my afternoons in the cavernous basement of the museum painting, with classical music playing in the background.  One afternoon, the camp instructor told us “to paint to the music.”  She turned on Tchaikovsky’s, “The March.”  With its aggressive staccatos, the room was full of elementary school students gleefully stabbing their canvases with their paintbrushes.  I’d never had so much fun in my life.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fusion in My Garden

Last summer, I visited the the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and saw the incredible exhibit, "FUSION: A New Century of Glass."  The exhibit featured several dozen pieces of art made out of glass. My favorite piece was called "Bride" by Beth Lipman, which was "a ten-foot, five-tiered dessert stand featuring handmade glass objects that rise, overflow, and then spill on the floor."  On the last tier, the glass objects are somewhat jumbled together, and yet in some ways, the last tier was the most beautiful, the glinting glass all the more powerful.  The piece inspired me to rummage around my house, collecting my pieces of cut glass and crystal and play around with different arrangements.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Heart which Beats Unseen

"Christian Dior's values were those of excellence in all that he undertook, of elegance and of craftsmanship reflecting his unique talent.  His mission was not only to make his clients  -- indeed all women -- more beautiful, but also to make them happy, to help them dream.  He saw himself as a magician who could give women confidence and make them ever more feminine, more sublime.  He believed in the importance of respect and in the capacity of this fundamental value not only to bring out the beauty in women, but also to bring out the best in all people....

The values that Monsieur Dior taught us are unchanged today.  Those values are carried on by the wonderful and diverse group of people within the House of Dior who devote all their talent and energy to achieving the ultimate in artisanship and femininity, respecting traditional skills and incorporating modern techniques.

The heart of the House of Dior, which beats unseen, is made up of its teams and studios, of its seamstresses and craftsmen, who work hard day after day, never counting the hours, and carrying on the values and vision of Monsieur Dior."   

Sidney Toledano, President and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, March 2011

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Prospect's Carrot Cake

A couple of summers ago, I took my mom to an old restaurant in Kansas City called Californo’s.  I had grown up coming to this restaurant, but we hadn’t been to it in years.  My mom ordered a Prospect Salad, which was butter lettuce, hearts of palm, toasted pecans and blue cheese.  She told me that when she had first moved to the area as a young editor for The Kansas City Star, she and fellow journalists would eat at a restaurant called The Prospect of Westport and always would order this salad.  The Prospect has since closed down, but in the 1970s and 80s it was the hot restaurant in Kansas City, serving Crepes St. Gabriel and lamb curry with eggplant.  Like The Prospect Salad, the restaurant's recipe for Carrot Cake was "so popular that there are still restaurants today...selling a version of it."  When I pulled out my Beyond Parsley cookbook, I was thrilled to find the recipe in there.  So I made a happy afternoon of baking a homemade carrot cake. 

Carrot Cake Recipe
1 1/4 cups oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup dark raisins

Combine oil and sugar in bowl; beat well.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Sift half the dry ingredients into sugar mixture; blend well.  Sift in remaining dry ingredients, alternating with eggs; mix well after each addition.  Stir in carrots, pecans, and raisins.  Pour into lightly oiled 10 inch tube pan.  Bake in preheated 325 degree oven about one hour and 10 minutes.  Cool upright in pan.
Frosting Recipe:
4 ounces of shredded coconut
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Toast coconut at 300 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  Combine cream cheese and butter in food processor or mixer.  Add confectioners sugar and vanilla and mix until perfectly smooth.  Refrigerate if too soft to spread immediately.  Frost top of cake and pat toasted coconut onto the frosting.