Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Life's Liquid Edge


Cake Pedastal Edge
Originally uploaded by thyme2003
Edges are sharp, unless they're bull nosed, round, but rarely are they liquid looking yet made of solid sharp glass. When is a liquid edge permeable? When is it glass? When is a boundary, a rule, a belief one you can call into question and when does it just look like it could move, bend, be malleable?

Birds fly into glass windows because they cannot perceive the difference.

How Bout That Chicken!


How Bout That Chicken!
Originally uploaded by thyme2003
A milk glass chicken in natural light is a cheery prospect, an unassuming household ornament. This chicken, with background distractions removed by shadow, could be Homer in the Odyssey, trying to find a way home, headed toward the light.

Ordinary things in extraordinary light.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Queen of All She Surveys


Queen of All She Surveys
Originally uploaded by thyme2003

Unexpected blessings when I walked out the door this morning....a beautifully lit spider web! I debated about whether to run back inside for my camera or not. One thing I've learned from photography is that nothing lasts. Even seconds later "it" can be gone, so you have to act now. By the time I got back from my short run the light would have shifted completely. Deciding there's no time like the present, I went back inside, grabbed the camera and..here you have it, a crystal web of a big spider, no doubt living large and in charge, but thankfully, far away from me:)

Carpe diem! Seize the day, or in this case, the moment!

Friday, September 25, 2009

3 Most Popular Posts

Over the last 9 months, you've liked these 3 posts the most!
Over the next 3 months, what would you like to hear more about? Let me know in a comment below and I'll see what I can do!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reduce Reuse Recycle and Repurpose


Cake Pedestal Stand Top
Originally uploaded by thyme2003
You've probably heard the saying, "Reduce, reuse, recycle" to reduce wasteful ways. Well, lets add to that "repurpose"

I found this cake pedestal for cheap at Tuesday Morning and repurposed it. It's currently in my bathroom, slumming as a perfume stand.

(Lots of stands are cut glass full of sharp angles. This one has beautiful curls and fluid waves plus flowers. There was no way I was leaving that store without it.)

I got the idea from having added "charlotte mold" to my cookware wish list. It's also known as a souffle mold. I was in the kitchen and reached for a potato located right where I store them in the white bowl with 4" sides and suddenly I realized, there, staring me in the face, was a souffle mold, repurposed to hold onions, shallots and potatoes to keep them from rolling all over the place. I had just forgotten, or never known it was pulling a double duty.

Now , if I need a cake stand, I know where to find it. In my bathroom, also doing double duty:)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jericho: Battle Plans

I used to not have a TV....until tv came to my house through the internet. Now I've gotten hooked on a few series, one of which is Jericho.

Jericho "is a small town in Kansas that finds itself cut off from the rest of the world after a mushroom cloud appears on the horizon, and a TV and radio blackout ensues." Cut off from the rest of the world, each person must chose every day "the way it is."

Jericho as a town doesn't exist in Kansas, so the name of the show is important. The battle of Jericho appears in the Bible in Joshua 6:1-20. Jericho had shut the Israelites out of town but that town was part of the land that God promised his people.

God gave them an unorthodox battle plan: march with all the armed men around the city one time a day for 6 days with 7 priests carrying rams horns in front of the ark of the covenant. On the 7th day do this 7 times, but this time have the priests blow the trumpets, have the whole army give a shout and the wall of the city will collapse.

How on earth, could this plan win a war. But God said it would and it did.

Jericho the tv series deals directly with questions of how to win a war when you're not sure who the enemy is. There are at least 2 unorthodox battle plans: Love each other, forgive.

The love theme is explored through family ties (the Greene's), romantic love (Jake and Emily, Stanley and Mimi, and more) and love for a place and love for the other members of the town all expressed actively by doing. Don't get me wrong, it's not a love fest. It's just that in the face of anger and hurt it is love for each other that gets them through.

The forgiveness theme is expressed both by the Prodigal Son (Jake returning home to his family after being gone for 6 years), between brothers (Jake and Eric) and between warring towns (New Bern and Jericho).

If you're interested, it's on Netflix and you can watch it instantly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to Wrap a Sari

One of the most frequent questions I get when wearing a sari is, "How do I wrap mine?" There are many ways to the finish line with saris. Here's one way:




Monday, September 14, 2009

Sari Time!

Every year we go to one gala event and every year so far, I wear a sari. It's definitely not a little black dress but it does help start and continue conversations with the fun folks who attend.

It has the added advantage of being modest yet flashy. The patterns and colors are beautiful!

If you're in the market for a sari I recommend Nalli Silk, an international chain of Saks quality.

More in the next few days. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Boots!


I mentioned that Pioneer Woman was holding a Lucchese boot giveaway. I most definitely entered but, alas, I did not win. (You can find the winners here.)

However, that did get me fired up to wear my Lucchese boots to work on casual Friday. The embroidered vegetal pattern on this shirt echoed the hand tooled vegetal pattern on the boot. The plain boot cut blue jeans in between provided a resting place from all that intricacy for the eyes.

I know heel people who are outspokenly not boot people, but, hey, I walk the line. I rate my shoes by their ability to help me meet new people and make friends. These score pretty well. I met someone new in the women's locker room at the gym, and an Indian woman who loved the shirt, chatted with a senior staff member, and oh, had a great time walking around in the heart of Silicon Valley in cowgirl splendor.

The giveaway also inspired me to look at MORE Lucchese boots. \o/

Maybe, just maybe, if it's a good year, I'll get another pair:)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Keeper of the Plains

It's kind of a significant day being 9/11 and all. Like many I have memories of the day / morning. But for now, I want to offer a prayer of thanks for simple things.

Thank you God for Fridays, for a home, for my husband, for a job, for my family, for You, that I have not known War, Hunger, the Enemy, Disease, that You care about me enough to have planned a hope and a future for me.

The Keeper of the Plains is a very tall statue in Wichita on the Arkansas River. He's lifting his hands in prayer. The title and the pose remind me to keep the faith and pray...for faith, wisdom, forgiveness, love, peace and joy.

Have a blessed day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lucchese Love

I love high heels, but I'm also in love with boots...especially Lucchese boots. Pioneer Woman is having a contest to give away a pair. Check it out!

If heels are more your style try Velvet Angels, Bonham by Betty or Halo Shoes posts for high heeled fun!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It Takes More Than Sharp Knives

Well, my first 2 attempts to follow Julia Child's recipes did not go well.

I had 9 knives professionally sharpened at the Farmer's Market after over 19 years of use. The sharpener duly warned me to be careful now. And I was....but not enough. While trying to skin eggplant I slipped and sliced my thumb. The knife was so sharp that it didn't bleed much but man is it sore today.

It was a needless blood sacrifice as the eggplant I bought I overblanched to a pulp and it turned out to be bitter (too old but how was I to know? it looked smooth and young to me). So down the disposal it went before even making it to the saute stage. I'll salt the eggplant instead next time. At least it wasn't entirely wasted. I took still life photos that I have yet to edit and the eggplant was a star.

The beans I bought were perfect but because I used the olive oil that I had queued up for the eggplant (too much for the beans) they turned out soaked, I added too much garlic and the shallots were soaked too. It was edible but forgettable but only after we opened the windows to let out the smell. Apparently, you need more than sharp knives to be able to cook like Julia Child.

There was a bright spot. After years of eating eggs fried in olive oil, my husband cooked mine in butter yesterday. WOWWWW! Was that ever delicious!


Monday, September 7, 2009

5 More Secrets from the JCSM (Julia Child School of Managment)


I just finished reading Julia Child's book, My Life in France and found 5 more treasures from her School of Management to follow the 5 I already found:

1. "One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something when it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed." (p. 267)

2. Of baking bread: "You have to do it and do it until you get it right." (p. 280)

3. "No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing." (p. 328)

4. "Try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" (p. 328)

5. "Good results require that one take time and care." (p. 332)

Julia's heartfelt advice can be applied to business, management, art, marriage, you name it, you apply it. Just put the words in and see how it rings for you. I leave it to your imagination!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

5 Secrets from the Julia Child School of Management

The leadership literature I've been reading for a Berkeley-Columbia EMBA class that I'm not taking combined with the thought stimulating movie Julie and Julia has given me a veritable soup of thoughts. It's my integrator brain part working overtime.

If Julia Child ran a School of Management, what would she teach?
1. Pursue your passion unfailingly.
Julia had a thing for a cookbook of recipes for French dishes written for servantless Americans. Despite Houghton-Mifflin's rejection and an underperforming collaborateur, she kept going in the planned direction. She didn't change it to A French Cookbook in French for the French or an American cookbook in French for the French. She kept true to her passion.

2. User documentation is key.
If you want people to use your product, cook your recipes, you have to make them operational. Meaning if someone follows the directions, it has to work. Julia tested every recipe in her book to make sure the measurements were right and the ingredients were right. When she discovered that French and American flour were different, she figured out how to change the ingredient proportions so that American flour would work.

3. Face your fears.
Whether it's boning a duck, boiling a lobster or stabbing a lobster in the head with a big knife, be brave. "Confront the duck!"

4. Do not market mistakes.
Don't run around confessing to everyone you know. If you make a mistake, make it right as best you can and charge on. Whether it's a flipped omlette that splatted on the stove or a tart that doesn't quite lie down in all the right places, put it back together and move on. Don't focus other's attention on that for goodness sake!

5. If you're going to stick out in a crowd anyway, do it with joy and verve.
Julie was tall with size 12 feet. There was no way she was going to escape unnoticed in any kind of crowd. Fortunately, she was gregarious and she made the most of it. If it's going to happen to you anyway, make the most of it!!!

There's probably a lot more that Julia would teach but she didn't run a school of management. That's why these things may be secrets. Neither did Julie Powell but she's got a lot to teach as well.

12/09 UPDATE: I'm not the only one who was inspired! Check out what Andi at Misadventures with Andi learned too.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What Not To Wear

On the recommendation of a fashionista friend, I took at look at the "What Not to Wear" series on hulu.com. Each episode is less than 3 minutes long so it was easy to look at 3 or 4 of them and they offer great wardrobe pointers.

My friend had particularly mentioned a special episode on "Shapewear". Curious, I gave it a look. The hosts tastefully address various shapewear options displayed in ensembles on mannequins. I'll leave it to you to watch the video for the details.

What struck me really, was the incredible repackaging of these things that look like running tops and bike shorts just slimmed down a bit that function like a corset or girdle but using 21st century materials. No whale bone, just spandex.

Friday, September 4, 2009

5 Things I've Learned From the Leadership Class I'm Not Taking

My husband is assistant teaching a Leadership class in the Berkeley-Columbia EMBA program. Since the course reader and syllabus are lying around the house, although I'm not enrolled, I decided to take a crack at Week 1: What Exactly are We Talking About When We Talk About Leadership?

Here are my takeaways on the answer to that question from the Harvard Business Review articles:
1. Find your strengths and use them. Focusing on weaknesses doesn't necessarily help and it can hurt.
2. Be able to answer this question: Why should anyone be led by you?
3. Becoming the boss doesn't mean your in control...or anything else you thought it might.
4. Leadership is not charisma but faith combined with reason.
5. Being a good boss in a bad economy is especially hard. It helps if you provide as much predictability, understanding and control as possible and it makes an incredible difference for the good if you can do that with compassion.

It's amazing what you can learn when you're paying attention, even when you're not in class!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lost Diamond!

"Oh!!! I lost my diamond!" I cried as Mom drove away from the bank. It was a marquis given to me for my engagement almost 20 years ago.

We whipped a u-ey, went back to the bank, parked in the middle of the driveway and scoured the ground with our eyes. All those asphalt glitters were just that.

We backtracked our morning. I had been to the Assistance League Thrift Shop to meet Mom's cohorts in benevolence to abused children. Mom quickly dialed them on her cell phone, "Have you vacuumed yet? Jennifer's lost her diamond. You'll look? Oh, thank you!"

We had taken photos of me at the Assistance League so we decided to speed to Walgreen's and make prints to see if the diamond was still in my ring at that point. We got the memory card out of the camera and into the Kodak machine, paged through photos to find the 2 of me. Was it there? The image on the screen wasn't big enough to tell. So we decided to order prints which would take an interminable 24 hours. Mom's cell rang. "Hello? You found it!!!! Oh bless you! We'll be right there."

Well, not quite. There were suitable gifts to find for the hunters. I got roses for Betty, the woman who found the diamond, and Mom got Popeye's chicken for everyone who looked.

On the drive back to the Assistance League, I said to Mom, "I hope it's my diamond that they found." Of course it would be. How many times do you find more than one diamond in a day?

When we got there, Mom walked in with the Popeye's and I walked in with the roses. Betty greeted me warmly, "I knew I would find it. I prayed." Smiling, I gave her the red roses.

Betty walked to the desk behind the checkout counter, and brought me a ziplock bag with my name on it. Inside was a beautiful round diamond.

"Oh, that's not my diamond."

Betty's chest sagged. Everyone who had looked so hard was crestfallen, listless, milling. So thorough had their work been, there was no point in redoing.

I walked outside and called my husband to find out if we had a jewelry rider. We didn't. He assured me that I was more upset about the whole thing than he was. I went back inside to the backroom for some Popeye's myself.

After some minutes had passed and the chicken almost gone, Betty, her hand folded around something, crept up to me, opened her hand and said "Is this it?" In her palm lay a marquis diamond.....that fit in my ring. It was mine!

Unbeknownst to me, she had been crawling on her hands and knees under shelves, racks full of clothes and down aisles, picking up every shiny thing, looking for my diamond. And she found the second diamond that day, because she prayed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Perfect Scent

I just finished reading The Perfect Scent and passed it along to my husband who graciously had given me first crack at it. Author Chandler Burr follows the creation of 2 perfumes, Sur de Nil by Ellena at Hermes and Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker from the sourcing of the name behind them to the launch. Funny enough it wasn't the inside view into the creative process, the industry's sacred cows, basic materials background, business items covered in contracts or insight into industry structure that really got me going although all these were definitely thought provoking. It was the description of scents that sent me over the top.

For example, Ellena desribing his creative goals for a perfume he designed: "So for L'Eau d'Hiver I took my inspiration from Après l'Ondée's theme. Cloud. soft, comfortable, light, and very present, but without all this grosse étoffe that you have with the Guerlains, all this stuff. It took me forever to do it. The idea of the diaphonous."

Once you know what concept the perfumer was after, it totally changes the experience of smelling it.

This book also reorganized my idea of what a fine fragrance is now. Similar to many art forms over time, it has become a reductive definition. Create a fragrance that hits the target with the fewest number of ingredients at the molecular level. It's a war of precision now not a profusion of scent. Tis the curse and blessing of mastery, this more with less.

Also, while Turin in his book Perfumes: The Guide (I reviewed this in January) pastes Kelly Caleche as "disappointing", knowing that Ellena made it for Hermes and some of the backstory gives me new respect for the fragrance.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Velvet Angels

Inspired by Meryl Steep's shoes in the movie Julia and Julie, I grabbed these out of the closet to design an outfit around for a pizza party. The light orange color, flamboyant heel and unique design seemed a perfect way to rejoice in the last blast of summer heat.

After a few false starts I opted for a short white skirt, a sky blue cotton sweater and a string of pearls. Deep wine or purple nail polish does a nice job of setting the shoes off. For a more discreet showing, white linen pants and a taupe long shirt worn open works well.

Aptly named Charlatan by Velvet Angels, these look like a sandal but wear like a shoe because of the secure strap over the ankle and forefoot. The heels are sturdy and held up well to tromping through the hay strewn back yard to check out the party hosts chicken coop. Can't wait to see the fall/winter line.