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English Muse: February 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy Weekend

Driving along Interstate 5 on the way back to Los Angeles. Already missing San Francisco! This weekend I'll be doing lots of laundry...

What about you?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday Giveaway: Vintage Japanese Music Box

This little vintage box -- found in a San Francisco thrift store -- has the charm of Asia and the romance of the Viennese waltz that plays when you lift the enameled top. The tune will make you think of glittering ballrooms and floor-length dresses. And it's the perfect place to stash small treasures heavy with memory. In our souls, we all know how to waltz.

Please leave a comment here to enter. The winner will be announced Monday!

PS: If you have a chance, please let me know which zines you read (see two posts below!) I'm putting together a list!

Thank you! Have a wonderful Thursday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mission District Murals

San Francisco's Mission District is known for its colorful murals, a tradition fostered by the city's Mexican-American community in the 1970s. A walk along 24th Street between Valencia and York is especially wonderful, with vibrant Frida Kahlo-esque designs.

The Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center at 2981 24th Street is the perfect place to start an impromptu tour. And you'll find more than 30 murals on Balmy Alley one block away. I wish I had brought more Polaroid film to photograph it. Next time!

(Photos above by Brooklyn-based home writer Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien. You can find more on her lovely blog, Haystack Needle.)


Zine Scene

City Lights in SF is not only a great bookstore, it has an interesting selection of zines.

Here are a few found on the shelves...

This one was hand done on a letterpress:

It's by someone named Artnoose in Pittsburgh who has an issue with their "inner Nietzsche."
"My Inner Nietzsche berates me and says that those with power are the ones with the will to power," says Artnoose. "I hate my Inner Netzsche; I think it's a jerk."
(You can also find Ker-bloom! on Etsy.)

There's the Cement Press, printed on a copy machine:


And then there's Comicosmos, a "non-fiction zine reviewing ideas, topics & books":

This issue includes several Shaker recipes: baked sea scallops with cider sour cream sauce; a chilled blueberry-lavender buttermilk soup; and an apple-custard tart with rosewater meringue.

It would be so much fun to do a zine.... I would love to have a letterpress in the garage. Or maybe just a Xerox machine. I picked up a copy of Nylon magazine at the market this evening and noticed that they have a story on fashion zines. In short, print lives!

So here's my question: Do you read zines? Which ones?


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tea, Anyone?

Look at this cute tea house, Crown & Crumpet.

Crown & Crumpet has pink and white floors, tables covered with chintz and little crowns on the tea cups. Located in San Francisco's historic Ghirardelli Square, it's the tea room equivalent of marzipan...

Like bookstores, I keep a list of favorite tea houses:

There's the Tea Palace in Notting Hill

The Rose Garden Tea House & Cafe at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino

Paris has Mariage Freres

In Rome, there's Babingtons

Any others??!


The Rear Window

The view of the alley outside our temporary SF abode...
rear window
...I wonder who lives in the apartment with the lace curtains and the window box. I love how she has her little clay pots and basket on the fire escape. ...

Maybe she's an international banker. Or maybe she's working on the next big Internet sensation. On the weekends perhaps she listens to Edith Piaf on an old turntable, makes fantastic omelets with cheese from the farmers market and reads the Atlantic on her Kindle.

I wonder...

What do you think?


Monday, February 22, 2010

Farmers Market

Along the Embarcadero...

Oceans of oranges and veggies from Half Moon Bay.



Fudge magazine and a small dog that looks like a wild bear, in SF's Japantown.

UPDATE: The winner of the green silk opera bag is Thalia.

Happy Monday!


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Downtown San Francisco

Downtown San Francisco
The fog makes the contrast between gray and vibrant color even more remarkable!


A New Video

Hello! My daughter, Isabella, put this video together with her cousins Mica and Amanda while visiting them in San Jose. (Bella's the one in the red). I'm so proud of them!

Hope you're having a lovely Sunday.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Vampire Weekend

Happy Friday everyone!

The SF hotel where we're staying has this massive chandelier in the lobby (which reminds me of the cover of Vampire Weekend's first album)....below is our little dog Lola talking to herself in the mirror...

Have a wonderful weekend...It's properly foggy now in San Francisco and we're ordering take-out Chinese food. More Polaroids Monday!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

City Lights

There are lots of interesting places to visit in San Francisco, yet I always end up at this bookstore...
City Lights is the cradle of the Beat Generation, and I could spend hours browsing the shelves. On Tuesday evening, Silicon Valley visionary Jaron Lanier was at the store discussing his new book, You Are Not A Gadget, a manifesto on how technology is changing our culture. The author was greeted by a standing-room-only crowd. (Of course, I had to buy his book, along with five others.)

Books are so heavy to lug home from a trip, but I can't help myself. I love Strand Bookstore in NYC, and then there's the Tattered Cover in Denver. Every time I went home to visit my parents in Albuquerque, NM, I would stop in Salt of the Earth books on Central Avenue. (Like so many independent booksellers, the store is unfortunately now closed.)

Books --and the stores where they're sold -- feed the soul. So here I am, books in tow...

What's your favorite bookstore?


Thursday Giveaway: Gorgeous Green Opera Purse

Hello my dears, this was another one of my Paris flea market finds. I had it listed in my eBay store, but I'm clearing out the Paris inventory to make way for treasures from San Francisco.

Would you like to have it? It's lovely: made of silk with a green glass bead handle. The latch looks like an green jeweled antique brooch. It's large enough for lipstick, a few euros and tickets to the opera!

Please leave a comment to enter! The winner will be announced Monday. Thank you! Meanwhile, I'm off to explore more of San Francisco...xoxo

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

San Francisco Polaroids

Under a balmy blue sky
San Francisco
It felt like summer today...
San Francisco
You could smell incense in the warm air as the city's large Chinese community welcomed the new year with shrines to Buddha and prayers
for good luck..

As usual, I was distracted by all the architectural details...
San Francisco
The buildings are so European.
San Francisco
But the weather and vibe is pure California...
At the moment, the huge bay windows in my hotel room are propped open and I'm listening to the city life outside: that ringing trolley bell and all those squeaky breaks, worn from climbing all those hills.

And I understand why many hearts are left here.

(Photos taken with a 1970s Polaroid OneStep Flash camera.)


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chinatown Markets

Fruit, firecrackers, Chinese newspapers, cookies and candied ginger...
Feb 16, 20101
Feb 16, 20102
Feb 16, 2010
Such a colorful melange of things on display along the sidewalks of SF's Chinatown today.

Happy Year of the Tiger, everyone! Goodbye damn tough Ox.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Is San Francisco the most beautiful US city?

To kick off my week of blogging in SF, I wanted to ask... you think San Francisco is the most beautiful US city? When I was growing up, my dad used to joke that he was going to quit the rat race to work as a trolley car operator. He loved SF above all other cities (including Santa Fe)....

I love NYC and the Garden District in New Orleans is amazing...but SF has my heart...


Pet Serendipity

We were not planning to get a new dog so soon after losing Murphy. We weren't even looking. But the other day, while I was at the flea market, a woman walked past with three black Pomeranian puppies in a stroller. They were the first litter of her pet Pom, and she was looking for good homes for them. My heart melted for the smallest one, a girl. She looked like a little black bear!

I hate to think that I'm disrespecting Murphy's memory by not waiting longer. I miss him everyday. But I also wanted a chance to give a home to another sweet dog.

And so, my dears, I would like to introduce to you our new baby Pom cutie, Lola. We're all madly in love with her. (She's coming to San Francisco with us!) My 11-year-old daughter, Isabella, made this video capturing the slightly mischievous side of our little dog. Let me know what you think!

Also, I want to ask you: Do you think pets pick us, instead of the other way around? There always seems to be a lot of serendipity at work in this, one of life's strongest matters of the heart.

PS: THE WINNER OF THE PAINTED BOX IS Kim O'Brien, of K. O'Brien Jewelry. Congratulations Kim!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Searching for Something Light and Bright

My dears, we're packing now to head up to San Francisco to visit relatives for the week. I'm excited to go to Chinatown (with Polaroid camera) for Chinese New Year!

When we return, we're going to begin the search for a new place to live. We've been in our house for more than 12 years and we'd like (rather, need) to downsize. Maybe a loft? I don't care if it's small, I just want something light and bright!

Photo from Apartment Therapy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Weekend


Happy Friday everyone! This weekend I'm having lunch with my friend Elaine in Beverly Hills and I'm packing for a trip to San Francisco, where I will be taking lots of Polaroids and blogging next week! I'm putting together a list of great flea markets and thrift stores in SF...Any suggestions!?

What are you up to?

Photo above taken with my iPhone on my recent trip to Paris.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Style Muse: Margherita Missoni

I love these photos taken by Juergen Teller at the Missoni estate in Sumirago, where even the couches and chairs are covered in Missoni knits...

Margherita looks so effortlessly chic, with her charm necklace...


Bracelets, rings and red nails...


From the March issue of Bazaar...

Thursday Giveaway: Paris Flea Market Treasure Box

A beautiful vintage box found at the Porte de Vanves Flea Market in Paris....

Painted on both sides....

And just large enough to hide an old love note...

It's small, about the size of a deck of cards!...I'm not sure how old it is, but it's very special.

Leave a comment to enter! Winner picked on Monday!