Botany of Desire

Last night I was fascinated by a documentary entitled, "The Botany of Desire". As Michael Pollan of The Omnivore's Dilemma infamy unraveled the tales of apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes it became clear to me that the homo sapien centric view of the earth is so limiting. In many ways these plants have trained us to aid in their evolutionary survival and development, not the other way around. I was particularly interested in the ways in which each plant provide us with an attribute that we as humans desire. Whether it's sweetness, control, altered consciousness or beauty, somewhere in the depths of our consciousness, we crave these tangible sensations. The most limiting factor in our achievement of these desires is homogenization; it became clear to me that biodiversity is the key to plant survival. This led me to apply this principle on the broader scale, if biodiversity aids in evolution and spawns new forms of existing life and even new life forms, then this may be a metaphor for human existence as well. In any case, the documentary was extremely thought provoking and aesthetically beautiful - apple trees in Kazakhstan, marijuana fields in South America, tulips in Holland and some of the most interesting shaped purple and red potatoes came together for a visually stunning film.


Autumn in Chicago

Wow. It has been a while since I visited this wonderful site, I supposed it may be due to the fact that law school applications and LSATs do not qualify in my raison d'etre so I haven't had as much to write about. But the fact is, I've had lots to write about and have made too many excuses not to! Sometimes when I have so much to do, even the aspects of my life that I most enjoy seem to get thrown by the wayside until my obligations are complete. I need to work on this! In any case the month of October was a w h i r l w i n d of experiences and I am now back in Boulder! After finishing the LSAT, Ben and I took a roadtrip to Chicago and then Boulder with Bella in tow of course. We saw lots of Chicago sights, ate delicious treats and throughly enjoyed our stay.


Au Revoir...for now

Sadly the time has come for me to deactivate my Facebook account, take Ebay off the homepage and stop blogging until after September 26. With the LSATs looming in the near future I am cutting myself off so I can focus clearly for the exam. As much as I'd love to be wining, dining and dressing up, my schedule consists much more of studying, sleeping and drinking lots of coffee. If I have a moment I will try to post but until then, au revoir! Wish me luck!


Mad about the Early Sixties

Now don't get me wrong, the late sixties own my heart for their political ideals, music, openness and bohemian creativity. Not to mention some seriously amazing examples of breaking down fashion boundaries that had never been seen before. But since I started watching, no make that inhaling, episodes of Mad Men I have made some realizations about my own personal fashion ethic. The women during this time period took certain things very seriously, and rightfully so. Here are my fashion revelations based on some seriously feminine ladies of the era.

1.) Wear clothes that fit YOU. It doesn't matter if you are wearing what's 'in' if it doesn't suit your shape. Emphasize your best attributes and the confidence it builds will do the rest.
2.) Take your measurements. Do you have a high waist? Long torso? Narrow hips? All of these matter when it comes to flattering your figure.
3.) Being ultra skinny is not always the most attractive body type. As my mother has said, "Only a dog wants a bone." Curves are sexy, the hourglass figure was not a passing trend. Accentuate your assets so to speak.
4.) Leave something to the imagination. Plunging necklines and miniskirts get attention, fitted pencil skirts and feminine blouses commit you to memory.
5.) Red. Lipstick. Wear it will a neutral face palate.
6.) Spend some time on your hair. Of course au natural can be very beautiful, but once in a while polish your look. Whether its defined curls, smooth and pulled back, side swept bangs or a demure headband, a finished look is very refined.
7.) Don't over accessorize. In this day and age it seems everyone is wearing bangles up to their elbows, purses the size of a suitcase, layered necklaces...all at once! Rather, once in a while try going the other direction. A ladylike watch, simple clutch and classic pumps can be equally as chic.
8.) Add some flounce to your step. The full skirts with drawn in waists flatter ladies' figures in such a simple way.
9.) Pale is pretty. Yes, I know coming from me this may seem like a stretch, but seriously, pale flawless skin is ethereal when done right. Put the bronzer away, even just for the night!
10.) Structured lingerie. I'm not saying go out and buy yourself a girdle, in fact I am saying please do not! But slips, nighties and other satiny, lacy items should not be saved for special occasions.

Women have come a long way. Thank goodness! But that doesn't mean we have to sparsely adorn ourselves with the lady like items. Women today may have broken the glass ceiling, but maybe that means we don't have to break the glass slipper, too.




I apologize for my lack of posting in the last week but my life has grown very full recently. Benjamin is back from Copenhagen! And when I'm not with him, I'm studying for these pesky LSATs. I promised myself the last time the letters S-A-T would enter my vocabulary, let alone my reality was circa 2004. But here I am, practicing. So needless to say my absence is unfortunately due to a lack of my raisons d'etre, unless I decide to add infinite amounts of logic to the list. Then I can pose inane logical dilemmas and ask you to find the assumption. Then you will all cease to read my blog ever again. Not a chain of events I am hoping to replicate!

However, my time at the Montclair Public Library has encouraged me to borrow DVDs. After receiving my shiny new key chain friendly library card, I wandered into the film section and was pleasantly surprised by the collection of French films and old Hollywood classics. After going back and forth between The Red Balloon and Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, I spotted Petulia.

Last night, Ben and I watched it with a mixture of what the heck is going on here and how amazing are these scenes from 1960s San Francisco. The jigsaw puzzle effect was in fact puzzling, while making what could have been a cliche plot much, much more intriguing. Further, Petulia, a socialite originally from England, had the most fabulous early 1960s outfits. Her little white heels and pastel swing dresses with big bouffants and bangs made me want to drink mai tais at a Formica counter. The portrayal of hippy culture in the film was less than flattering at times but conveyed its vibrancy and ubiquity, I would have liked to see more. I guess my obsession with psychedelic art from the Summer of Love has made a lasting impression on me. A confusing, yet well crafted film with lots of interesting imagery made this a worthwhile watch.


Aux Paris..

I am missing Paris so much today it is intolerable! What I wouldn't give to walk around the corner to my favorite boulangerie, pick up a baguette and some brie at the fromagerie and sit down in the park and people watch. I'm not sure if listening to this song helps or makes it worse, the video is not the best but the song puts me in a Parisian state of mind..


When in Nice...

The winding, narrow streets of Nice were laden with small places to eat with black chalk board signs every few feet. One dish that was ubiquitous was the Nicoise Tuna Salad. The simple, peasant dish most likely originated from the housewives of Nice. Julia Child made this salad a widespread classic and controversially, although I think beneficially, added lettuce and potatoes. The dish is full of flavor from the tuna itself, as well as a variety of herbs found in the region that really add to the integrity of the vegetables. Today, Americans tend to enjoy this salad with seared Ahi tuna. While I prefer it with Ahi, it can also be delightful with regular canned light tuna. I have made this salad for my family a couple of times this summer and it is always refreshing, flavorful and reminds me of my time in Nice.
1/2 pound red potatoes
1/4 pound haricots verts
2 Ahi Tuna steaks or 1 can of solid white albacore tuna
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 rosemary sprgs
1 large head of Bibb lettuce
2 teaspoons chopped parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon leaves
1/2 pound tomatoes
1/3 cup Nicoise olives halved and seeded
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

Bring 2 medium pots of salted water to boil. Add potatoes to 1 pot and blanch until tender (5-6 minutes). Drain in a collander and pat try, set aside. Add green beans to other pot and blanch until tender (4-5 minutes). Drain in colander and pat dry.

If using Ahi tuna, cut into 4 equal portions, season with kosher salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the rosemary sprigs and tuna, sear over high heat about 30 seconds per side. Remove from pan and dice tuna into 1 inch pieces.
If using canned, simply shop into smaller pieces and set aside.

Tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces and combine with parsley and tarragon, toss with dressing to coat, salt and pepper as needed. Toss the potatoes and green beans in 1/4 cup of dressing. Add vegetables, eggs and tuna and serve.

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a medium bowl mash, salt, pepper and garlic. Add lemon juice and mustard, whisk well. Add oil in a steady stream while whisking. Add shallots, capers and Worcestershire, whisk. Adjust seasoning to taste. Make before salad and refrigerate until ready to use.


Bohemian Bourgeois

If fashion is a culmination of the times and we are wearing generations of ideas, then shouldn't our wardrobes be a reflection of the building blocks that have enabled designers to reach where they are today? Lately I have been dreaming of vintage Chanel sailor sweaters, Dior blazers, Diane von Furstenburg wrap dresses, Lanvin trousers, Balmain cocktail dresses, Pucci head scarves, Missoni belted sweaters, Tods flats...oh the list goes on. If offered pieces from their Fall 09 collections, I would not refuse, but to be honest I would prefer pieces from through out the decades. Each of these designers has pieces that they envisioned and crafted into idyllic silhouettes like Plato's ideal forms. As in the most perfect ballet flats, or the most form fitting pencil skirt. These visions have been crafted carefully and the pieces have been perfected by generations of designers. Personally, I'll take the originals any day. There is a name for this, coined by the New York Times in 2005 as "Bohemian Bourgeois", it is an eclectic combination of vintage designer and new in a way that rejects the capitalist materialism of the the current 21st century while embracing that of the 20th. Whether this is logical or simply an excuse for the trustafarians of my generation to excuse their desire for designer pieces, I love the look. The look I am envisioning is not the bag lady chic made famous by the Olsen ladies in their NYU days, it is more of a Sienna Miller meets Kate Moss with a Parisian socialite twist. Think yachting on the Riviera in the 1960s meets Ivy League university in the 1980s. There is something so marvelous about modern vintage mixed with key basics from the current season. Picture an Elizabeth and James white T-shirt, with a 1980s gold and white woven Chanel jacket, Kova and T leather leggings and knee high gladiator sandals with a Bottega Venetta envelope clutch....ooh lala! While these vintage pieces can be pricey, you might be surprised at what you can find if you look hard enough, and designer is relative. These key pieces are a life long effort on my part, there is no instant gratification in collecting such a wardrobe!
Here are just a few items I would LOVE to see in my closet...
1970s Emilio Pucci Caftan robe dress
Vintage Chanel Silk and Wool cardigan
Christian Dior 1980s Collegiate double-breasted blazer
1960s Emilio Pucci Velvet Full-length maxi skirt
1980s Gucci black leather riding boots
Vintage Yves Saint Laurent red suede booties


The most beautiful sound on earth

Yes, I may be dabbling lightly in the pool of self pity. Je suis malade au cours de l'été. When I need to close my eyes and forget my troubles for the moment, I listen to David Oistrakh play Claire de lune recorded in Paris, 1962, with Frida Bauer on piano. Close your eyes and enjoy.


The Hepburn cure

On top of some serious stress from the LSAT, (Trying to get into Columbia Law is eating away at my soul...), I woke up this morning feeling like my brain had been cooked in a frying pan and covered in goosebumps. The flu in August? Not possible. I simply have too much studying to do to entertain such negative thoughts. About 15 pages into my logical reasoning practice questions, my temples throbbing overtook my capacity for logical..anything. Goodness this is going to be a rough couple months of studying, I thought to myself. Finally, I succumbed to the feverish headache that I had been plaguing me all day long. After a bout of hysterics...why now?! why when I have the most important test of my life to be studying for!? Next, the anger at my body betraying me on such short notice; otherwise I could have ingested some Vitamin C and Echinacea. Germs can be so inconsiderate that way. So I swathed myself in terry cloth and blankets and laid down on the lime green velvet couch of my parents living room to watch something cheerful and non-LSAT panic inducing. And there she was, like an old friend. Audrey Hepburn in that amazing black dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy for the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany's. Shoes in the fridge, crawling along the fire escape in her bathrobe, only Audrey could bring me this much joy in my feverish, anxious state.

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Paul Varjak: Sure.
Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!


Dog Days of summer

After my first practice LSAT this morning I was in desperate need of some sun soaked fun. Luckily, the weather decided to cooperate and provide us with a much needed summer day. The afternoon sun glowed and my concerns about test scores were put at bay for the afternoon as I read The New York Times magazine and watched my pup frolic about. Because I, like every other dog owner without children, take excessive amounts of pictures of the sweet pup, I am posting them for you to (hopefully) enjoy.


Lust of the day

Preen by designers Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi is one of Britain's hippest labels right now. Started with a bijoux boutique on London's Portobello Road, Preen has swept me away with their structured, ladylike dresses and clean, classic lines reminiscent of the old fashion houses. The larger shapes make women's frames look tres petite, while the accents aren't overstated to the point of unwearable runway designs. The small details make a huge difference and the simplicity juxtaposed with complex geometrics is to die for. There's something very Jackie O about these pieces with hints of Twiggy and Edie, what could be better?

Preen Peplette technical crepe dressPreen Peplette technical crepe dressPreen Peplette technical crepe dressPreen Matt Liquid mini dressPreen Matt Liquid mini dress

je ne sais quoi

The literal translation of je ne said quoi is "I know not what". What I have in mind is the certain something French women possess that enables them to look impossibly together and chic at all times. Today, I took Bella to the park for a romp wearing a casual outfit suited for running with the pup while she chased geese and dangling my legs over the bridge in cool water. I looked a mess. Hair piled on top of the head, cut-off shorts and bug bites from the Cape abound. While I was in Paris and for about a month after I cultivated my look, my bangs were mysterious and fringed over my eyelashes, petite sun dresses and perfectly manicured hands in the palest of pink. But now I am back in the "real world" where errands are messy, outings are sweaty and the heavy, humid air makes my hair think erratic waviness is necessary. How can I maintain this dazzling Parisian allure in the sticky air of a New Jersey summer? A new chic must be created, I deem it 'errand chic'!


Missing him

I'm listening to L'autre Bout Du Monde by Emily Loizeau. It means 'The other side of the world.' Denmark feels a million miles away tonight.

The Duchess

Few movies inspire me to words in such a welling up of emotion, but this was truly a tale of the tragedy women faced for centuries before me. I have never cried more during a movie purely for the injustice placed upon a women's shoulders as her destiny in this life. I suppose I am having a bout of Anglophilia recently between Georgiana Cavendish and Constance Chatterly. I can't imagine a life in which one was bound to a man she resented when love burned in her heart for another. To be so limited from choosing one's own fate, to be forced to hide true feelings and put on airs for the aristocratic pettiness and desires of selfish men. I am so grateful for the ability to choose what I want to do with my career as a woman, that I have forgotten or maybe never truly understood, the limits to being a woman in the past. Georgiana was a woman full of intelligence, creativity, passion and dreams; yet she married an insolent, selfish Duke who cared for his mistresses more than his wife from the beginning. When she birthed daughters, she was made to feel ashamed, when she fell in love she was forced to choose between her children and her true soul mate, and she was forced to live with her husband and his lover for all of her days starting at a very young age. I cannot imagine this reality, this stark, bitter life she was forced to endure. I vow to never stray from where my heart leads, for we are unaware of how far women have come to be able to freely love whom we please.

Swooning over Mellors...

Excuse me while I turn up my fan a few notches. I just finished reading "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D.H. Lawrence. And the masses thought "Madame Bovary" was scandalous? Oh my, I truly haven't read anything these tantalizingly naughty and beautifully sensual, well, ever. Besides the in depth descriptions of the Lady's orgasms in the groundskeeper's cottage, the book has a very strong theme of the ruination of society due to industrialization. As England was at the forefront of the industrial revolution, the two characters share more than their sexual appetites and lust for each other, they share a world view. The view being that the burgeoning industrialization has led English society to a love of money above all else; no longer satisfied by the small things, the English youth have become a sorry lot and the view from Wragby is grim. I have been saying for a while now that this is the exact point when life changed. When material items began being produced en masse, forcing the masses into excessive consumerism, blind ambition for material goods and a dissatisfaction in the simplicity of life's little wonders. This has led to globalization, which in theory and in all of my political science courses, has been touted as the greatest progress since the steam engine. Well I think the steam engine, globalization and even the printing press served as catalysts on the slippery slope we now find ourselves tumbling down. When in another country, one can find all the creature comforts: H & M, Starbucks, McDonalds, and what a TRAGEDY this is! When Mellors and Connie wanted to escape somewhere to avoid the bureaucratic insanity of an early 20th century English divorce from their prior spouses and go live in a hut in India or some other colonial fantasy, the Lady realized a sad fact: the ends of the earth are no longer foreign. This was pre WWI. Now, it is only more so. Lawrence's prophetic views of the ills of industrialization and homogenization of society have only propelled forward in my lifetime. Is anywhere safe from capitalist greed? At least one can hope to find a lover to sit with in front of the fire, a simple lad and lass in a cabin, with good treats to eat and a warm bed, it's good enough for Lady Chatterley and sounds wonderful to me.


My perfect summer meal

After a long day at the beach I was craving lemony, Mediterranean flavors, fresh vegetables and color on my plate.

Grilled vegetables (serves 7)
8 portobello mushroom caps
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 green pepper
2 yellow onions quartered
2 green zucchinis
3 lemons halved horizontally
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Fresh dill, chopped

Brush or toss with olive oil
Sprinkle on sea salt and pepper
Squeeze one whole lemon over
Add garlic
Place vegetables on grill till sightly charred but firm
Remove from grill, sprinkle dill and serve

Sicilian grilled chicken (serves 7)
Mediterranean Drizzle
1 large garlic clove, pressed
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 skinless chicken breasts
4 chicken thighs

Mediterranean Drizzle
Mash garlic and 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt in small bowl with back of spoon or pestle until paste forms. Whisk in lemon juice, then oil. Cover and chill. Bring to room temp before serving, can be done a day ahead.

Chicken Instructions
Whisk lemon juice, parsley, olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Place chicken thighs and breasts resealable plastic bags. Divide marinade between bags. Seal the bags, releasing excess air. Turn to coat chicken with marinade. Chill at least 1 hour or up to 1 day, turning the bag occasionally. Remove chicken from bags and grill.
Slice 3-4 lemons in half horizontally. Place face down on the grill for 2 minutes or until slightly charred.

Spoon Mediterranean drizzle over chicken and grilled vegetables and serve.

Cape Cod

With the windows down, the salty, warm air filled the car as we got turned off the highway into East Falmouth. There is something magical about Cape Cod, all of it's northeast New England charm, oceans and bays, cranberry bogs, lakes and ponds, and a laid back atmosphere that invites you to canoe on a lake or go crabbing. Despite some less than perfect weather, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Cape. Fresh fish, salty shores, quaint weathered Victorians and an old fashioned simplicity make me wish I could spend all summer exploring the Cape.