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English Muse: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bits of Inspiration

I love tooling around We Heart It for pictures of lovely and unusual things. The carnival ride is fantastic. So are the bubbles and stars. But that picture of the soaps shaped like doll hands. Both weird and wonderful. I couldn't resist including it in this little collage...

PS: Here's the link to my I Heart It page. The photo credits are there (sort of). It's a little hard to figure out where the photos originated from. Let me know if you know so I can give them credit!

UPDATE: The first photo is "The Swing Set" by Irene Suchock. (Thank you Maria-Therese!) The star and the hearts pictures look like hers as well.

The bottom right photo of the flower is by the fantastically talented Mrs. French.

A Blog of Note

Polaroid Girl

Hello Everyone, Welcome to the blog I started in earnest after Christmas. I suppose the song "Only the Lonely" could apply to newbie bloggers. You feel like you're talking to yourself in an empty room. I can't tell you how many times I thought about quitting. Some days, I had only one visitor. Other days, maybe 15 max (most of them me.)

I took out an ad on Joanna Goddard's amazing blog, A Cup of Jo, and finally there was traffic. It's continued to increase steadily since then -- because of the help of many kind and generous bloggers. (Thank you!) I'm happy I stayed with it because something amazing happened this week: named English Muse a "Blog of Note." My site visits are up tenfold.

So please bookmark me and come back to visit in the days and weeks ahead. I have lots to tell and show you. In the meantime I want you to know: I'm so happy that you're here.

My warmest regards,


PS: I'm not sure who is in charge of deciding on the blogs of note. Whoever they are, I love them!

PSS: Photo via Lolita.

Monday, March 30, 2009

California Cabin


Hello everyone! We're back from a our weekend getaway at a lovely little cabin...

cabinscenes a canyon amid the California chaparral: Eucalyptus trees and prickly pears, yucca plants and orange poppies, pine trees and oak trees...


We were cooled by an ocean breeze and kept warm by a campfire. Of course, I had to bring along vintage blankets, an orange enamel teapot (with white polka dots), and thrift-store yarn for knitting....My favorite part...


...was drinking wine in the evening on this front porch swing. And listening to the birds sing. It was bliss.

So now I'm back at work. Sigh. It's Monday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Miss Lily


Hello everyone. I just got back from our weekend away. I came home to the most lovely surprise: This wonderful post on Daydream Lily.

I'm so touched and happy and thankful!!

Liss, I love you!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Weekend Cabin Getaway

Cabin Getaway

We're going away this weekend! I'm so excited. We're renting a cabin (no, unfortunately not the one above.. More on that in a minute.) I have so many romantic ideas of cabin life. Vintage blankets, linens and quilts, flannel shirts, mismatched enamelware, an iron bed, an old fashioned stove, homemade pies, pottery vases filled with wildflowers. Oh, and yes, the outdoors.

Did you ever see the movie Always, with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter? I watched that movie 20 times, it seems, just to study the decor of their little cabin. So magical. (And remember when he bought her "girl clothes"? She looked like an angel.)

So you can imagine how delighted I was when the Los Angeles Time' Home section ran this feature (and online slideshow) recently of Suzan Fellman's wonderful cabin, pictured above and below, in Big Bear.
(Photography by the talented Stephen Page.)

Here's a little tour of Fellman's mountain abode:

more cute photos

An adorable bathroom with a clawfoot tub (and I love the giant ball of yarn!). A cute little dog, an essential trip companion. And look at this kitchen...

cute kitchen

...and cozy living room...

cozy livingroom

The cabin we're renting is more basic. But I'm sure it will be charming. All you need is four walls, the wilderness, and a few (dozen) lovely vintage accessories. My husband assures me that there's WIFI, but I'm not sure...So if you don't hear from me until Monday, you'll know I had a computer glitch -- or an encounter with a California black bear.


UPDATE: Saturday. We're at the cabin. It's very cute! Getting tons of pictures. And we have wifi! Thank you everyone for your lovely comments! So happy! BBQing for dinner...

UPDATE: Sunday.. Hello everyone! Here sipping coffee and reading a stack of magazines. Can't wait to show you my Polaroids. Will upload them as soon as we get home this evening..have lots to tell you!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jeanloup Sieff


...He was a Parisian photographer who loved....


...the feminine form...
...He was most know for this amazing photo...

ysl mesh back dress by jeanloup sieff

....that defined his style.

My favorite Jeanloup Sieff photo is the top one, taken in Palm Beach in 1964 for Harper's Bazaar. I've often wondered: What does that beautiful woman think of that guy?

What do you think?

Sieff died in 2000, but his estate maintains a wonderful website in his name. Browse through all the gorgeous photos {here}.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring in LA

Spring in LA

This is my favorite time of year in Los Angeles. The air smells like a spray of perfume -- white star jasmine mixed with orange blossoms. Here are a few snapshots from various locales. (The swans are at the Hotel Bel-Air! The telephone wires are, unfortunately, from my backyard. ) There are camellias blooming with azaleas. And all the fruit trees are flowering.

I'm happy until I get an allergy attack, like now. I have a headache from all this beauty!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wouldn't you just...

2982700931_7b038354d3_o to spend the day with the curtains drawn....


...eating popcorn and watching....

Scarlett eating massive quantities of popcorn after movie?...

What would you like to see? Casablanca? Les Quatre Cents Coups? There's Something About Mary? Say Anything?

Anything at all?

(The credits: top illustration by Colorfly Studio and middle picture by
Distorted by Time. I have no idea who did the Scarlett GIF. Whoever they are, I applaud them!)

Happy watching, darlings!


Plate Wall

I'm still gathering plates from thrift stores for my plate wall. I found another photo for inspiration on lovely Charlie's Design Diary. These are all Marimekko plates. What do you think? I love the black flower...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Whimsy, Stitched

I'm completely charmed by Sarajo Frieden's wonderful, whimsical embroidery. She just posted a new lot on flickr. (And she has a lovely website.)

Here we have "Stitched Bird with Coat," "Leaf Lady," and "Pocket Park." The leaf lady does not look pleased. She looks like she's saying: "Yeah, you try being covered with leaves." The lady with the plant: "My plant and I are on important business." The bird: "Eternal vigilance is the price of plumage."

Gouache on paper with collage and embroidery, done in collaboration with equally crafty Marci Boudreau. Love!!

UPDATE. Funny comment from Giulia:

"Marvelous. I agree with Tina about the (top) bird. I would add: sardonic & knowing. She carries off that red chapeau beautifully:) I have no idea why, but Diana Vreeland comes to mind. Maybe the noble nose & the red hat? Everything comme il faut? Forgive the franglais. I shall stop now."

Office Snapshots

wooden shoe


Here are a few grainy Polaroids of my office, with a look inside my messy large desk drawer. The ballerina papercut is by the talented Tina Tarnoff and the Hollywood gum is from Paris (Thank you Terry!)...


I have a photo of Obama in silhouette (taken at a book signing party he had in LA two years ago). There are stacks of magazines. I can't seem to part with them. I use an old oil can as a ring rack and an eggcup to hold paperclips. (The colorful brooch was a gift from Tina. I love it!) A cachepot bought in Chinatown holds pens, pencils and plastic scissors. And there's a red polka dot change purse filled with coins. Centimes and shillings, pesos and liras.

change purse

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is House Beautiful the new Domino?

house beautiful
I stopped by the grocery store this afternoon to pick up medicine for my cold. As I was waiting for my prescription, I flipped through the latest issue of House Beautiful. I've always been a fan of the magazine. Editor Stephen Drucker (once a newspaper guy) is brilliant and my old Los Angeles Times colleague Barbara King works there as the executive editor.

As good as their previous issues have been, the April magazine feels different. It's more like -- dare I say it? -- Domino. (my former glossy fav.) In this new HB, my favorite feature -- an enthralling Q & A with interior designer Cristine Gillespie -- is called "Getting Cozy with Quirky." Like music to my ears. Some of the stills in "The Mix" also caught my eye. Here's a little sampling from both stories....

Recently Updated6

Dominoesque? What do you think? And there's something else delightful in this month's edition: There's a feature on Etsy artists. It seems like an unmistakable nod to the online decor blogs who have championed Etsy and its artisans from the start. (A quote from the magazine's website: " is changing the way we look at handmade and becoming the ultimate online crafts fair.") A few of the featured artists below...


I left the store with my cold medicine and the magazine, feeling much better.

If Drucker can really capture the still mourning Domino crowd, he is brilliant indeed.

(PS. The Etsy artisans starting from the top left: palomasnest; annaspots; jetsetpaper; jennyleefowler; whitneysmith; avrilloreti; jillrosenwald.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Style, defined

John Rawlings

I love these old Vogue photos...
John Rawlings

Taken by the amazing John Rawlings...
kate 026

He defined 1950's chic, don't you think?

My daughter and I spent the afternoon visiting a few of our favorite thrift stores. I found an old book of fashion photography. Rawlings' legendary photos are always the ones I love the most...

Friday, March 20, 2009

International Society of Girls in Flats

march misc1
For the record: I don't have anything against heels. I think they're beautiful -- some of the most beautiful shoes that I own. But no matter what my plans are to wear them, I always end up tossing them off at the last minute to put on one of my beloved pairs of flats. It's become an ongoing joke with one of my girlfriends: she teases me that I should start the society of girls in flats.

So yesterday morning on Facebook, I decided to do just that. So here we are: the International Society of Girls in Flats. It's official! Within a day, more than 100 lovely women have joined. I'm so pleased. We're going to have our annual summit during the summer sale at the Emma Hope store in Notting Hill (Ha! I so hope!). Do you want to join? It's just for fun. Because life is too short to spend it on heels.


PS: It's easy to sign up, especially if you're already a member of Facebook!

Here's the link: the International Society of Girls in Flats.

(PS: Photos from here.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Simple But True

More from The Writing on the Wall....

(Photo credit: Here.)

Dreamy Bedrooms

What's the key to a perfect bedroom? White linens soft from years of gentle care? A bedspread from India? And a stack of photography and gardening books mixed with literature and pulp? Or....

pink bedroom
Something pink and pretty, with pops of vibrant color? (And a fireplace! Perhaps the ultimate bedroom luxury?)...Or...

red bedroom
A room saturated with color, like the inside of a lacquered jewel box?
I guess I've been thinking a lot about this lately because I've been getting so little sleep! I get so involved with projects and before I know it, it's well past midnight. It would be lovely just to curl up...


and fall into the most restful and deliciously wonderful sleep....

(PS: Photos by James Merrell.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ethereal Spring

With the Oregon Coast as her backdrop, Alicia Bock's photos are the essence of Spring. Like the stills from old home movies, they're achingly lovely.

Alicia has a wonderful Etsy store.
And an awe inspiring flickr photostream.

Natasha Richardson

I'm feeling so very sad this evening about her passing. She was a wonderful actress and person. Positively luminous....I was fortunate to have met her at a charity event recently in Hollywood. She was there with her mother.

One of my dear friends knew the family very well. She sent me this email tonight: "Liam and Natasha were very much in love--he thought of himself as a kind of jumped up Irish tough and she was theatrical royalty and he often called her 'my princess.'"

Sigh...My heart hurts for her family.

(The story by my colleague John Horn on the LAT website.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'll book the flight...

Where do you want to go? San Francisco? Saint-Tropez? Lucerne? Lake Havasu? I'm so restless. I haven't been anywhere since January. Too long not to travel...I need a little getaway. What about you?

(Photo from the online portfolio of the fantastic Robyn Glaser.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Woody Allen Cool

I've been noticing that Woody Allen is getting lots of hearts these days on We Heart It. Seems a whole new generation is in love with the legendary funny man. Are you?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The girl with the pink gloves


This is a story about beauty and obsession, sparked by a small photograph deep inside the New York Times Style section on a Sunday three years ago. I've tried, unsuccessfully, to train myself not to fall so deeply in love with objets. I'm a newspaper reporter. I lack the necessary requirement -- money -- needed to enjoy the hunt for beautiful and expensive things.

But there was something about this girl and the way she was captured (by the brilliant photographer Bill Cunningham) pulling on her pink gloves on a March afternoon in Paris. I wanted a pair of pink gloves just like hers, like they held the key to life's happiness. Granted, I live in Los Angeles, where people barely wear coats let alone long beautiful gloves. But I figured (and hoped) I would wear them on trips to cold, metropolitan cities while strolling along fashionable boulevards.

So my quest began: I combed all the usual Beverly Hills haunts. No gloves to be found. Especially not pale pink ones. I searched through Internet stores. Nothing. Then I turned to eBay. Surely someone somewhere was trying to unload a pair. Right? In fact, there were lots of pairs -- all made in the 1950s. It quickly became apparent why no one wanted those gloves: Only Hollywood actresses have hands small enough to wear them.

I should have just given up. But I didn't. I couldn't. Somehow these gloves became a symbol of luxury amid the mundane, a promise that the future would be grand. Or at the very least, anything but ordinary. Finally, I found a place in New York that made bespoke gloves with the finest Italian leather. I gave them my hand measurements and sent them my New York Times clipping. Six weeks later, the most gorgeous gloves you've ever seen arrived wrapped in tissue. Just like the girl's in the picture.

I have taken these gloves with me many places, to New York, Washington DC, Rome and Paris. I've pulled them on many times and admired them, fastening their little pearlized buttons. But I've always ended up putting them back in their satin pouch. I have yet to wear them out.

I'm saving them for the future, I guess. For the grand (or not). The promise remains the same.

PS: I found the gloves {here}!



Saturday, March 14, 2009


The new Toast catalogue arrived today via Royal Mail. Always makes me happy. This issue is especially beautiful. I'm so looking forward to summer (and weekends at the beach)!

More gorgeous photos {here}.
And my previous Toast posts {here}.
PLUS! Toast stylist Twig Hutchinson.

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend...

PS: I always think of Joanna when I see bicycles now! She loves them. Visit her wildly popular fabulous blog, A Cup of Jo, {here}!