Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's a beautiful day

Many years ago my family went on vacation to Northern California and when we were in Sonoma we stopped at a very nice restaurant that resembled someone’s fine house more than anything else. The General’s Daughter was located in the historical home of the well-off daughter of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, a general and multi-talented man of early California.

I remember many things from this vacation, not the least of which was that I saw an old photograph of “the general’s” three daughters, taken from the back to show-off their never-cut long hair. (You could say that I learned to love California history during this trip because of this sort of detail at the many historical sites that my family chose to visit.)

I’ve forgotten the main course of the lunch at that restaurant, but it’s no matter. It was the salad that stood out then. The salad stands out even now. You see, that time that we went to The General’s Daughter was the first time that I ate flowers. They were perfectly edible—nasturtiums—and they made for a cheerful orange petal confetti sprinkled over my plate of lettuce. Nasturtiums tend to be slightly peppery in taste.

Nowadays, I think of that first flower salad as I browse the lettuce-seller’s produce at the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market (on Thursday evenings from 4 to 8). Her salad-making products are organic, but even better, she sells bags of edible flowers! Better not dawdle though, these petals sell out fast!

When my siblings and I had finished our Sonoma lunch and were leaving, an older lady exclaimed about seeing us “well-behaved” children dining together (what she did not know was that we had made a game for ourselves, and our “good manners” were “mannered,” to say the least…) and grabbed hold of my sister’s arm to ask her what we were doing there. “We’re on vacation,” Amber happily replied. What else could the lady say but, “How delightful?”

It was delightful.

Please enjoy these salad garden pictures with my sister Autumn and our cat, Penny. I also noticed that you can learn to make a flower salad (from seed to table) in the April 2009 Sunset magazine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I’m sorry, darlings—I meant to post earlier, but I’ve been under the weather these days… Such beautiful days, too!

Here are the pictures that I promised you, taken mostly on Lake Avenue in Pasadena.

A futuristic yogurt shop

The perfect man

(I’m sure that he helps with the electronics at this repair shop.)

Some old-fashioned fun

By the way, this past weekend I had Mon Oncle out from my library. In case you haven’t watched it, Mon Oncle is a very funny movie by French filmmaker Jacques Tati and pokes fun at modern houses, furniture, gadgets, etc. It struck me that, even though the film was made in 1958, many of these things could still be considered “modern” today!

A bientot!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Je joue

Stop! Before you read any further, you must watch this short (less than a minute short!) video. Please click here.

It’s a delightful confection of a commercial for Dior by director Sofia Coppola, centering around model Maryna Linchuk. Miss Dior Cherie is the fragrance featured, and the song playing in the background is “Moi, Je Joue” (“Me, I Play”) by 1960s personality Brigitte Bardot. Coppola has described the song as “a charming, catchy melody, a little ‘bubble gum.’”

Reminiscent of Coppola’s 2006 film “Marie Antoinette,” the Miss Dior Cherie commercial shows a carefree day in Paris, of fountains and little dog-walking, strolling by the Seine, flower markets, couture, bangs, a perfect pink dress, bicycle-riding, posing, macaroon pastries, sunglasses, significant looks, swinging, floating, falling into white bedclothes, sauntering indoors, skipping outdoors, shimmying downstairs, balloons in the blue sky, smiles, spraying perfume, roses, and kissing your boyfriend—before finally grabbing hold of a bunch of ribbon-tied balloons and taking flight over the city!

Don’t you love fashion?

It was this fanciful advertisement that was the inspiration for the photo shoot for my sister that took place in South Pasadena recently. Who needs to go to Paris when you have South Pasadena nearby? South Pasadena is the home of some very fine French business establishments, conveniently in walking distance from the Mission Street Metro station.

First, there’s Bistro de la Gare, which is very near the station, as the name suggests. The outdoor diners seem to enjoy themselves very much, but the people seated indoors have the benefit of looking out the black painted French windows at a not-too-tended herb garden. For the wonderful ambiance of this place, the menu prices are very reasonable indeed.

Along the path, Autumn happened upon this little dog, called Cosmo. (It’s Cosmo like the “Singin’ in the Rain” character played by Donald O’Connor, not the flower of the same name, the owner informed Autumn.)

Then, you can pick-up some special long pasta or a jar of fine sour cherry preserves at Nicole's Gourmet Foods next door to the Bistro de la Gare. One L.A. Weekly writer said of the place: “Yes, there’s nothing that I can’t live without, and nothing that doesn’t make life just a wee bit better.” You can also choose a French chocolate cake from the glass case.

Next, you can venture a bit north and west, to Jean-Vier Espirit et Creations Basques on Mission Street, which sells mostly fantastically colorful table linens from the southwest region of France. Don’t miss the company’s website here.

Finally, if you are tired and in need of a nap, you might like to set a blanket down on the lush grass at South Pasadena’s Garfield Park. Just walk eastward on Mission Street. As you rest, you might look up and see a couple of ambitious balloons from a child’s birthday party nearby. That might be the moment that you believe that you are in the land of “The Flight of the Red Balloon.”

Please check on Wednesday for our pictures from Pasadena’s Lake District!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bus stop

With spring’s start, I can’t help but feel that something great is upon us. It begins with not a few very wet rainstorms. Then, there are some inordinately warm days for wintertime. The southern California foothills become quite green, and the sun stays up for the journey home from school or work. At this time, we’re in the midst of the very gorgeous mornings—you know what I mean—the morning time is light and bright, garnished with sparrows’ songs.

But, it’s not to say that there will be no more rainy days for a while, because springtime weather is notoriously changeable—which is why you need a reliable raincoat.

Here, my sister is borrowing the raincoat that used to be a staple in my wardrobe. (I wonder, does that make it vintage?) It’s a Target find from the time when the chain store first started featuring low priced designer items.

This raincoat is by Isaac Mizrahi, and I love everything about it. The standout tangerine color got my attention first, and somehow, it just works on otherwise all gray days. What’s more, it’s lined with polka dot fabric! But, that’s where the frivolity stops, because the coat’s lines are straight and no-nonsense, making water to slide off as on a duck’s back.

Some asides: Once upon a time, one of my main occupations was as a dolls’ fashion writer, and I wrote this catchy phrase: “One duck and two ducks and one raincoat girl.” Makes you want such a resilient raincoat, doesn’t it? Another memory with this raincoat in particular comes from when I was a poetry student at UCLA, and my teacher, Professor Cal Bedient, was a pretty snappy dresser himself. He appeared to enjoy when I wore this striking outer garment and used to comment that it seemed to make me walk more confidently—virtually stride, actually. It should be noted that Professor Bedient does not shy away from distinctive colors in his everyday dress.

I admire the way that Autumn pairs the tangerine with the white—the skirt, the sunglasses, and the bracelet—making for an effective one-two punch against the rainy day gray. It fits fashion designer Trina Turk's definition: “What’s the opposite of a wallflower?” Autumn looks as if she could be embarking on a grand adventure via Metro.

Practically, an umbrella would be a very good idea, but maybe you shouldn’t risk it if you believe what The Hollies sang some decades ago:

Bus stop, wet day, she’s there, I say,
Please share my umbrella.
Bus stop, bus go, she stays, love grows
Under my umbrella.

Autumn brought this video of the song "Bus Stop" to my attention, and you might like it, too. It’s only a few minutes long--just click on the blue "video."