Archive for May, 2012

Writer’s Block

May 31, 2012

The little pesky problem has been waiting for me for weeks.  It was hiding just around the corner of last weekend, waiting for me to get comfortable with the blank pages and time to fill them.  It waited until the routine of work resumed this week, then pounced.

Writer’s block always hits me in the midst of a good stretch of creativity.  I have yet to figure out what works for me, but I often advise my tutoring students to try a few tactics when they can’t seem to compose an essay: go for a walk, read a book, do a little research, take a nap, listen to music, or anything to break yourself away from the blank pages.  My students seem to have more success beating writer’s block than I do.

Do you have any writer’s block/creative block-beating ideas?  Please share!

until next Thursday,

Katie (unwritten, untitled)

p.s. You might enjoy this infographic about writer’s block.


[image 1: original source unsure, pinned here/image 2: source also unknown, pinned here/image 3: write on art print from Keep Calm Shop]


Categories: Decor | 7 Comments »

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I’ve completely crossed over into the Kindle camp. I can’t live without it now. This week, I’ve been reading “Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion” by Lauren Goldstein Crowe. It’s a fascinating account of Blow’s life as a fashion maven. She lived in high heels (made by Manolo Blahnik or Alexander McQueen) and outlandish hats (fashioned by Phillip Treacy). Of course, she was always the life of the party…She was like a character from an Evelyn Waugh book!

What are you reading these days?


(Photos:  Mr. Eureka and New York City Girl Style)

Categories: Books | 5 Comments »

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Jesse Kornbluth again, mostly of, here this week to celebrate a classical musician who might be correctly be shelved in the “soul” category.

Her career lasted only 12 years, but if had been only half as long, she’d be considered one of the greatest cellists of the century — her playing was that pure, her personality was that compelling, her story is that intriguing.

Jacqueline du Pré, born in 1945, heard a cello when she was four years old and reportedly asked her mother for “one of those.” Her mother was her first teacher:

She was marvelous, because she has a great talent for teaching small children, and she started off by writing little tunes for me when I could hardly play the thing at all, and she added words to these tunes, and on the opposite side of the page she drew beautiful pictures illustrating the tunes. And she used to do these while I was asleep, and I could hardly wait until the morning came, because in the morning I’d wake up and find this beautiful thing waiting for me. And then we’d rush down and play it together. And that really made me very excited about the cello.

Other teachers followed, but she needed so little — at 17, she made her concert debut, playing the Elgar Cello Concerto at London’s Royal Festival Hall. In her hands, the Elgar sounded as it never had before — she didn’t play the music, she became it.

Jacqueline du Pré didn’t lack ambition, but practice bored her, and she avoided it. Decades later, when she was sick and a well-meaning interviewer praised her accomplishments, she would have none of it: “I’ve achieved nothing at all because I’ve never had to work.”

Her reality check wasn’t reviews or ovations — it was the music. “I have the same feeling when I walk in a very beautiful place that I have when I play and it goes right,” she said.

So it seems absolutely correct that, on New Year’s Eve in 1966, Jacqueline du Pré would meet pianist Daniel Barenboim at a party in London in 1966. ”Instead of saying good evening,” she recalled, ”we sat down and played Brahms.” They married six months later at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

She was tall, large-boned, a formidable presence. She was also shy and otherworldly — she never knew, for example, what things cost. So her relationships were best when they were about music — Barenboim has described her as “a musical conversationalist.”

According to her sister Hilary, when Jacqueline was nine years old, she shared a vision: “Don’t tell Mum, but… when I grow up, I won’t be able to walk or move.” In 1971, when she was just 26, vision became reality in the form of multiple sclerosis.

She died in 1987, at 42. And that leaves us with her music and some documentary films.

The compilation of her favorite cello concertos is probably the greatest bargain in all of recorded music: half a dozen classics for $17. The Dvorak Cello Concerto is one of my favorites, I’ve been listening to it, with some care, for decades. But to hear du Pré is to hear it as if for the first time. And the others? All at the highest level. [To buy “Favorite Cello Concertos: Boccherini, Dvorak, Elgar, Haydn, Monn, Saint-Saens, Schuman” from, click here.]

Or is it the Elgar, alone? The Elgar is where you start with du Pré and will always return — its beauty goes far beyond the power of words. To buy the Elgar Cello Concerto from, click here.)

Jacqueline du Pré may have had a complicated life, but the story of her real life — her life as an artist — is really very simple. Barenboim summed it up nicely: “I have never come across anybody who was so completely music. Everything was music in her. Brain, heart, intestines — it was her most natural form of expression.”

To buy “Jacqueline du Pré In Portrait” from, click here.

To buy the DVD of Jacqueline Du Pré: A Celebration of Her Unique Enduring Gift” from, click here.

To visit the Jacqueline du Pré web site, click here.


Categories: Decor | 2 Comments »

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Good morning! (Or good evening depending on your neck of the woods). This is Naomi Bulger again, bringing you another little literary dispatch from Australia.

I was back in my hometown of Sydney, Australia, a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to spend time with my family and friends before my little baby was born (in a matter of weeks, yikes!) and I was grounded for a while.

First stop was morning tea with my parents. We went to Surry Hills, where I lived for years before I moved to New York.

Surry Hills is one of those places that has faced a fundamental shift in personality, more than once. A hundred years ago, it was the most dangerous part of Sydney, full of razor gangs and brothels and sly-grog joints. In Ruth Park’s famous novel The Harp in the South, she conjured up the Surry Hills of the 1940s, then a slum, and the downtrodden yet vibrant families that populated its old streets.

Salvation Army - Surry Hills Sunday morning service in street, Sept 1949, from Series 02: Sydney people & streets, 1948-1950, photographed by Brian Bird

Left: Old age pensioner in Surry Hills alley with stick, Aug 1949, from Series 02: Sydney people & streets, 1948-1950, photographed by Brian Bird. Right: Martin Rubenstein and Kathleen Gorham, dancers in the J.C. Williamson / Borovansky Ballet production of Gay Rosalinda, 1946 / photographer Hal Williams

Capitol Theatre, 17 November 1944, by Sam Hood

This is a glorious, rambunctious novel about love and poverty and family and dreams. Have you read it? Here is a scene from the New Year bonfire, an illegal fire built on a street corner, just out of reach of the trams. “The authorities always forbade it, and nobody ever took any notice of what they said, but went on lighting New Year bonfires just the same.” This year’s bonfire was the biggest Surry Hills had ever seen.

“Suddenly there was a glad roar in the distance, and, startled, they looked up. Tommy, with glistening eyes, cried: ‘It’s on!’ They forgot everything and pelted down towards the bonfire…

“A second later there was a yellow glare, as some old books which Mrs Siciliano had saturated with grease and kerosene caught the flame. Whoosh! A ragged blue tongue of fire spurted high into the air, and everyone sprang back and surveyed it with awed excitement.

“‘Bravo! Bravo!’ yelled Jacky Siciliano, and he kissed his wife with pride because she had thought of the kerosene. And all the black-haired little Siciliano brats danced gipsy-like around the bonfire, yelling shrilly.

“Roie looked awed at the rose-red tower of flame, and the little hyacinth-blue sparks that showed and vanished. A ruby glow was cast over every face, the good and the wicked, the old and the young – old women with their hair rosy with reflected light; little goblin children, dirty and hungry, with bony brows and big, shining eyes; even babies with grubby wrinkled faces, blinking painfully in the glare. Dolour jumped up and down with hysterical excitement. The old year hovered around them; he was like a shadow vanishing bit by bit under an onslaught of light; all his fears and terrors, his failures and monotonies seemed now something soon to be tossed away on the stream of time, to be forgotten for ever. Dolour did not feel this; she was only glad that she was one year older than this time last year; that she was almost fourteen, and not a child any longer, and soon would be freed from school and allowed to go to work.”

Today, models, artists and designers walk those same streets, which are now filled with top restaurants and wine bars; organic cafes; vintage and designer fashion; and boutique books, stationery, music and furniture design stores.

"The Women" Co. girls on Tamarama beach, 2 February 1939 / photographer Sam Hood

ANZAC Day - celebration drinks, marching down Pitt Street, April 1950, from Series 02: Sydney people & streets, 1948-1950, photographed by Brian Bird

St Patrick's Day sports at Showground, March 1940, by Sam Hood

Outdoor dancers, schoolgirls in Botanic Gardens, Sept 1949, from Series 02: Sydney people & streets, 1948-1950, photographed by Brian Bird

It was kind of poignant to be back in Surry Hills after living overseas and interstate, to be in a place that was at once as familiar as any home I’ve had and yet now, with the passing of just four short years, had changed yet again and was not ‘me’ any more.

Have you ever revisited ‘home’ and found it had grown up without you? Or is it you that has grown out of your home?

All Sydney archive photos from the State Library of NSW photostream on Flickr, no known copyright.

ps. To give you some perspective, these photographs were taken from my apartment in Surry Hills, in 2006:

The terrace houses that Park's characters would have lived in are still there and, while many have been renovated into seven-figure homes, these across the road from me are probably not much changed from the Hills' slum days

Looking west across Surry Hills and into the heart of Sydney. That tiny spire on the horizon on the left is the Anzac Bridge. The top of Sydney Tower is on the right.

Categories: Books, Travel | 4 Comments »

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This is what my Monday looked like…

How about yours? So sorry for the late post (I had technical difficulties yesterday), but Tina was sweet enough to let me pop in a day late to share some goodies with you. First of all, a little mini vacate.

“I’m an old-fashioned guy… I want to be an old man with a beer belly
sitting on a porch, looking at the lake…”
– Johnny Depp

Our friends have an amazing little dock on the lake that is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. My must-haves?

{ sunglasses  /  towels  /  cooler }

What about you? What are your *must-haves* for a day by the water?

Also, I wanted to share with you that I’ve started blogging again on my personal blog: Secrets of a Belle! I hope you’ll come over and say *hello!* There’s lots of really great content I have planned for the coming weeks that I’m sure English Muse readers will enjoy.

Hope you have a *happy* week! xo* ~ Hannah B.


Categories: Decor | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

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This spring, I can’t seem to get enough butterflies. I keep finding them everywhere.

This is the work of English artist Rebecca J Coles. She creates these lovely, three dimensional, pieces from bits of discarded paper. In her artist statement she writes:

“Each shape is hand drawn and then intricately hand cut from carefully selected paper, focusing on recycling a medium that would otherwise be discarded and lost. I dissect small details of colour, imagery and text into silhouettes that are then re-sculptured, pinned and encased. My aim is to transform an every day object into a piece of work that invites the viewer to see beyond its original source.”

The finished work is beautiful, but I love seeing the details, and noticing the bits of scenes printed on the paper.

I so enjoy art that takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.

Have a lovely Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes

all images from Rebecca J Coles’ website

Categories: handmade, illustrations | 6 Comments »

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For you 50 Shades of Grey fans out there, I’m running a little survey: How do you picture Christian Grey?

Maybe like this handsome model (spotted on a flash sale site)?

Or dark and exotic, like this guy?

Or maybe like Robert Pattinson (apparently the author modeled the character after him)?

What do you think?

I always try to cast my favorite characters before Hollywood does…

Categories: Books | 23 Comments »

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Love and Gratitude

May 28, 2012

Morning guys. It’s Lelanie here, from of Beauty and Love. How was your weekend? I am sure most of us had a great weekend, filled with treats , smiles, happiness and blessings. Do you know what day today is? It’s a day where we focus our attention on people who are not as blessed as us and probably didn’t have such a good weekend. It’s world hunger day. I definitely don’t want this post to be a downer. Instead I would like it to be a reminder of how lucky we are. There are so many people with a lot less than us. Are we grateful for all our wonderful things in our life?

I found this lovely little gratitude print during my online wanderings. It is so lovely and positive, that I can’t help but share it.

It has really spoken to my heat. Especially today. I live in South Africa. Winter is steadily approaching and I know that there are so many people in our country that struggle to get by, that will be cold and miserable today. Yet, I am quick to bemoan my (comfortable) situation. I suppose we all are. So I have decided to make my own Gratitude poster. Here is what I am thankful for today.



What are you thankful for? Why not take a few minutes to list ten things. You might be surprised at how much you have to be thankful for. Even if it’s the small things.

Ciao, Lelanie. x




  2. Etsy


Categories: Decor | 5 Comments »

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Friday fun

May 25, 2012

Hello all from Jenny, a short post again. London is scorching hot and people are out enjoying the sun, drinking and having loads of fun at all the cool outdoor festivals going on at the moment. Here is a film I wanted to share with you. It is Prada’s short film that debuted in Cannes last week, directed by Roman Polanski and featuring Helena Bonham Carter and Sir Ben Kinglsey. It is really well done with excellent acting performances and a brilliant ironic undertone. LOVE IT!

Appearing Fridays on the English Muse, Jenny of Freedom & Thoughts.

Categories: Fashion | 2 Comments »

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Cycle Chic

May 25, 2012

I love riding my bike. It’s not a dream bike, but it will do for now. I love the feel of sun and wind on my skin. I like to ride fast. I sometimes have the impression I am almost defying gravity. I like to smile when I ride my bike. I shock everyone by smiling at them. I am smiling at everyone and no one in particular–I am smiling at the world, life, myself. Riding my bike has helped me overcome a debilitating fear of driving a car. Now I  love it and drive with a smile! Such a miracle for me to be driving and  thanks to my bike. What other blessings are in store for me while I ride my bicycle?

I like wearing nice things while I bike. Not exactly skirts–they reveal too much when I’m speeding, but a nice shirt, nice jewelry, stylish shorts, effortless yet cute hairstyle. Do you ride a bike? What do you usually wear? What is your definition of cycle chic?

Happy Friday Everyone and Smiles,


This is my dream bike–in white and with a basket, looking elegant and casual at the same time. And retro.


Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Marta, appearing Fridays on the English Muse.

Categories: Fashion, Things to love..., Vintage | Tags: | 7 Comments »

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May 24, 2012

I never quite know what book will start that tightness in my throat, the tension in my chest, the eyebrows rising and brow furrowing as moisture builds in the corner of my eyes.  Nor do I know how it’ll happen, or what will make me cry, or when–will I weep through a few pages, or will the book haunt me later, when I go to sleep?  When I read Where the Red Fern Grows in fourth grade, I pitched it across my bedroom at the end, then went to find my mother and sob in her arms for a little while; when I was even younger, I tried to read Old Yeller and couldn’t bear it.  Even now, a lost or dying animal kills me inside, which I realized reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

It’s not just the loss of a pet that brings me to tears, of course.  Maggie O’Farrell’s After You’d Gone and The Hand That First Held Mine both left me a teary mess, as did Jane Eyre, when I read it a second time in college.  I think it’d be crazy not to cry a little while reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, but a few unexpected and bittersweet tears snuck up on me during The Night Circus.  Loss is what drives me to tears in novels, whether I know it’s coming or not, and yet loss does not always make me cry, even when I feel it deeply.  Take, for example, Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love or Lisa See’s Peony in Love, two books that broke my heart and yet never moistened my eyes.  Even though some made me cry and others didn’t, each of these books are among my favorites, and I have felt these books within my heart.  Great books should make you feel, no matter how expressed that feeling needs to be.

When I read a book like this, and especially when I finish, I need a few quiet moments alone with a steaming cup of coffee or tea, a place to tuck my knees under my chin, and my journal and a pen.  Sometimes I have a few words to say, a moment of expressing the thoughts that a book has inspired in me; other times, I sit with a blank page and sip my tea until it’s gone and the world is okay again, and I return to my life.

So, dear readers, what books have broken your heart?   What do you do when you’ve encountered them?

Until next Thursday,

Katie (unwritten, untitled)


[image 1: Once Upon A Time… painting by Peter Käuflin/image 2: silent emotion print by Kelly Rae Roberts/image 3: Everything is going to be OK print by Jen Renninger]

Categories: Books, illustrations | 21 Comments »

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Telling tales

May 23, 2012

Sometimes the tale is so graphic that it needs no visual aids. Other times, pictures speak a thousand words. And sometimes, the picture is stunning and the story behind the picture is what takes it a step further.

Ormond Gigli’s Girls in the Windows is an example of this.

He  says this of his image:

“In 1960, while a construction crew dismantled a row of brownstones right across from my own brownstone studio on East 58th Street, I was inspired to, somehow immortalize those buildings. I had the vision of 43 women in formal dress adorning the windows of the skeletal facade.

We had to work quickly to secure City permissions, arrange for models which included celebrities, the demolition supervisior’s wife (third floor, third from left), my own wife (second floor, far right), and also secure the Rolls Royce to be parked on the sidewalk. Careful planning was a necessity as the photography had to be accomplished during the workers’ lunch time!

The photography came off as planned. What had seemed to some as too dangerous or difficult to accomplish, became my fantasy fulfilled, and my most memorable self – assigned photograph. It has been an international award winner ever since.

Most professional photographers dream of having one signature picture they are known for. GIRLS IN THE WINDOWS is mine.”
Of course, when I think of an image with a story behind it, my mind immediately goes to the Afghan Girl.
Alt Tag
Steve McCurry’s image haunted the universal psyche for seventeen years, from the time he took a picture of this girl during the period of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. “I didn’t think the photograph of the girl would be different from anything else I shot that day,” he recalls of that morning in 1984 spent documenting the ordeal of Afghanistan’s refugees. but different, it was, because for the next seventeen years, the world searched for the elusive Afghan girl with eyes that pierced like a beam; but no one even knew her name.
In 2002, a Nat Geo team brought McCurry to Pakistan to seek her out, and seek her out they did. Her name is Sharbat Gula and this is her story.
Afghan Girl
All images have a back story. Do you too love finding out what these stories are and telling them like tales? Which one, then, would be your favorite? I would love to know.

Categories: photographs | 2 Comments »

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Jesse Kornbluth here, mostly of, musing this week on the first 20th Century woman to become a brand — and she was a writer!

You ask me to come and spend a week with you, which means I would be near my daughter, whom I adore. You who live with her know how rarely I see her, how much her presence delights me, and I’m touched that you should ask me to come see her. All the same, I’m not going to accept your kind invitation, for the time being at any rate. The reason is that my pink cactus is probably going to flower. It’s a very rare plant I’ve been given, and I’m told that in our climate it flowers only once every four years, Now, I am already a very old woman, and if I went away when my pink cactus is about to flower, I am certain I shouldn’t see it flower again.
So I beg you, Sir, to accept my sincere thanks and my regrets, together with my kind regards.
— Sidonie Colette

This charming letter from “Sido” — mother of the most celebrated female writer in France — to Colette’s second husband begins Break of Day. But forget about the husband. Within sentences, Colette pierces your heart with the ultimate news of her mother: “A year later she died, at the age of seventy-seven.”

“Break of Day” is many things, but above all, it’s a love letter from Colette to Sido. And that was a stunning departure for Colette in 1928, for she was just coming off the huge success of her “Claudine” series and her two Cheri novels. In the first, we follow the sexual awakening of a young girl. In the second, a younger man has a long affair with an older courtesan. Not terribly shocking stuff in Paris — child prostitution wasn’t outlawed in France until 1909 — but not discussed in public, and thus very racy reading.

Colette was a powerhouse. She published fifty books. She was a marketing wizard, with chocolate and cosmetics bearing her name. She showed her breasts on stage. She wrote about orgasms, real and otherwise. And, in 1954, she was the first woman in France’s history to be given a state funeral.

So by l928, Colette — like our latter-day Madonna — needed no last name. She was a brand, and her product was sex.

But here she asks a remarkable question: Who obsesses a woman most — her mother or her man? We’re trained by habit and media to think only of the man, the night, the perfume, the champagne. And then there’s reality. As women hit their 50s and “the change” frees them from an insistent awareness of reproduction…. but this is beyond me. So I turn to Colette.

Problem: memoir or novel? The catalogue says fiction, but “Break of Day” doesn’t even seem like writing. Page after page, you feel you’re reading the diary of a season in Colette’s life.

Here she is, awake early, writing in a notebook “until the smell of the sea warns me that that the hour when air is colder than water is at hand.”

Here she is, fending off worshipful guests.

Here she is, in the closest thing to an ongoing story, dealing with a young man who has no chance of becoming her lover — trying to pair him with a young woman who’s smitten with him.

Here she is, on every page, delivering a bon mot: “I no longer ask for anything except what I can’t have” and “My true friends have always given me that supreme proof of devotion, a spontaneous aversion for the man I loved” and “I instinctively like to acquire and store up what promises to outlast me.”

And here, most of all, is a tribute to a great mother.

But beware. Colette is a master, and this is a masterpiece; her writing darts toward truth but won’t stay there. In Secrets of the Flesh, her biography of Colette, Judith Thurman tells the story of Colette’s first wedding night. In the morning, when she came downstairs, there was Sido, still in her party dress. She had spent the night awake, brooding and inconsolably sad — and now Colette was devastated by her mother’s sadness.

A touching scene. But hardly one that suggests a healthy separation. Or anything like the relationship Colette describes in these 168 pages.

So this is largely fiction. But not like any fiction you have ever read. It’s so easy on the eye, so seductive, so physical that you feel the book more than you read it. It’s what a man thinks of as woman’s writing, in the sense that it’s written from intuition and marrow.

Men fear irony, Colette writes. And she’s hardly the first to note that young admirers — and admirers not so young — have urgent needs. She, in contrast, is beyond all that. In her house in the South of France, she has her garden and the sea and the sky for comfort. She’s done — at least for now — with carnal love. Her heart beats for a greater lover: “Here is the dawn. Today it is all little clouds like a shower of petals, a dawn for those with hearts at rest.”

I know a number of women of a certain age who tell me they are glad to be done with the fire and disappointment of romance. “Break of Day” is for them. As it is for the bewildered men in their lives. As it may be for young readers who’d like to know what lies ahead.

It’s easy to be dazzled by Colette the superstar. Or entranced by her life. Or lured into her racy novels, though they’re so much less sexy now. You’ll do better just to read her at her best. Start with “Break of Day” — and watch her create, one perception at a time, one of the most liberated women you may ever meet in print.

Categories: Decor | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

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Hello! It’s Naomi Bulger again, filling in for Tina on a Tuesday evening.

Once upon a time, in an age before digital cameras or film or even those overhead projectors the teachers used in school, way before electricity, in fact, there was the magic lantern, an early type of image projector.

In the 1400s, a Venetian engineer by the name of Giovanni Fontana created a lantern that projected an image of a demon. Scary. Super scary if you are a 15th Century Venetian and don’t know what you’re looking at. But it was not until the 1650s, supposedly, that the first ‘magic lantern’ as we know it today was formally invented.

Picture an old fashioned lantern with a concave mirror in front of a light source (which, back in the days, would have been a candle or an oil lamp). The mirror gathers the light, and projects it through a slide with an image on it. Then the light rays cross a small opening at the front of the lantern, and hit a lens. This throws an enlarged version of the picture on the slide up onto a wall. Ta da! Big, scary demon in the house!

I saw some of these while I was in Venice last year. Somehow, the air around them still vibrated faintly with magic, the magic that tricksters and charlatans conjured when using magic lanterns to bamboozle their early audiences.

Not far from where I live in Melbourne, Australia, two artists Gonzalo and Lucy have opened a shop called Magic Lantern, with an artists’ studio out the back. The shop is a veritable emporium of curiosities and ephemera from before the age of electricity. Gonzalo kindly let me loose in there with my camera.

Categories: Vintage | 1 Comment »

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Hello, sweet English Muse readers.

It seems like everyone is in a New York state of mind this week.  My favorite travel destination is France. However, with the ever-increasing costs in air fare, France is out of the question for this summer.

This weekend is a holiday in the US so we are jetting off to NYC for a few days.  I’m really excited to walk everywhere, people watch and eat good food. I also plan on walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (I’ve never done it) visit the 9/11 Memorial, the NY Public Library (the famous one where Audrey Hepburn filmed a scene for Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and the Met.

What’s your favorite travel destination?

xoxo Luli

Categories: Travel | Tags: | 7 Comments »

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I had the amazing luck to attend an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner on Friday night. It was only the third event of the season, the start of the North American tour that will take them across the country and back by the end of the year.

The basic idea is to take a bunch of people who are interested in food out to a farm (or sometimes an orchard or vineyard) and have a dinner party, with the ingredients for the meal from local sources. The diners eat at one long table set out in the field. It is a pretty spectacular experience.

Before the dinner the farmer gives a tour of the farm, with stops along the way for demonstrations and tasting. Our guide was Dave of Crows Pass Farm. I had one of the best strawberries of my life, picked from the field and eaten immediately. The variety that he grows has a very thin skin and does not travel well, so you can’t sell it in a supermarket, he only supplies it to restaurants, and then only those within a few miles of the farm.

Food is served family style, and part of the fun is talking with your neighbors. At my table there was a photographer, a couple who made costumes for Venice Carnevale, actors, and assorted food lovers of all stripes.

And the food was remarkable. I haven’t stopped thinking about the scallops, or the tuna and arugula salad, or the olive oil cake…

If you have the chance to attend one of the dinners GO. It is expensive, but the food and experience are worth it. Honestly, when I think about how much goes into creating these events I am surprised they are even breaking even. This is truly something the team is passionate about.

Have an Outstanding Day,

Sarah from Design Flourishes

All photos from the Outstanding in the Field website

Categories: Decor | 5 Comments »

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New York, New York

May 21, 2012

Chapter 1.
He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion…no, make that: he – he romanticized it all out of proportion. Yes. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.’
Er, tsch, no, missed out something.

Chapter 1.
He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on the hustle bustle of the crowds and the traffic. To him, New York meant beautiful women and street-smart guys who seemed to know all the angles…’. No, no, corny, too corny for a man of my taste. Can we … can we try and make it more profound?

Chapter 1.
He adored New York City. To him, it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. The same lack of individual integrity that caused so many people to take the easy way out was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in …’
No, that’s a little bit too preachy. I mean, you know, let’s face it, I want to sell some books here.

Chapter 1.
He adored New York City, although to him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. How hard it was to exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage…’
Too angry, I don’t want to be angry.

Chapter 1.
He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat.’
I love this.
New York was his town, and it always would be…

-Woody Allen, Manhattan

Start spreading the News…

Tomorrow my husband is leaving for The Big Apple to work for 4 months as an intern before coming home to complete his MBA at the University of Tennessee. This is going to be the beginning of a huge adventure for us that we are both really excited about. So here’s my dilemma. Neither of us really know anything about New York. We went there over Spring Break for a few days but other than that limited experience, my only knowledge of NYC consists of random pop culture references, a slight obsession with the New York Times, and too-many-to-count viewings of You’ve Got Mail.

That’s where you come in. I’ll be coming up a couple weekends a month, and I’m hoping we can find some fun things to to do while I’m there. So what’s your advice? What’s your favorite thing to do in the city? Any tips of traveling up there? Any places we should eat? picnic? listen to music? drink coffee? people watch? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter and next week, I’ll share a secret project I’ve been working on that will incorporate these new finds!

Until then… xoxo* ~Hannah B.

**P.S. We are looking for a place to sublet through mid-September so let me know if you have any leads for that as well 😉  

Categories: Decor | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments »

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Morning friends. How are you all today? I hope you had a wonderful week and that you feel rested and ready for the week. Today I have Vignettes on the brain, or table scapes as some like to call them. I love a beautiful collection of objet as much as the next gal, and today I am going to share some tips on how to compile a great one.

You love all you little bits and bobs so much. It’s easy to succumb and display them all at one. This approach runs the risk of looking cluttered and un-edited. Rather use the ‘rotation system’. Only display a selected group at a time. That way, you won’t tire of them as quick. Changing table displays is a also a great way of giving as room a quick mini redo.

Display like coloured items together. Tis will make a bolder statement and is pleasing to the eye. It is also a quick and easy way of to add a burst if colour to a neutral space.

Remember, you can use everyday items to create a beautiful display. Why not use a combination of makeup, jewellery, perfume bottles and the like to create a feminine vignette on your dressing table.


Books are very handy in generating height in vignettes. Use piles of large books on a coffee table to transform it from a bland surface to an interesting feature.

Simplicity is key. Sometimes, the simplest of collections can be the most striking. Group objects to tell a story.

Mother Nature is your friend. Potted plants, cur flowers or other organic elements to add texture, interest or colour to a vignette.

What is you secret to the perfect table scape? 

All styling and decorating done by of Beauty and Love aka me, and photo’s taken by Gregor from Gap photography.


I hope you are inspired,

Ciao, Lelanie.

Categories: Decor | 4 Comments »

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Hello English Muse readers! Karen from A Simple Cup of Tea once again. This week I’m talking about traveling. I spent the entire week in Wroclaw, Poland. There’s nothing I love more than exploring new countries, meeting new people and learning about new cultures.

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

I love this quote by Samuel Johnson. He is absolutely right: seeing things as they are is one of the best things about travel. But the thing I like most is that when you’re traveling you discover parts of yourself you never knew or never recognized before. It’s as if being somewhere else unlocks something. It’s more than discovering a new place, it’s also discovering a bit of yourself.

Well, as we’re talking about travel I thought it might as well share the following video with you. I posted it on my blog a couple of weeks ago but it is fabulous. Makes me want to jump on a couple of planes tomorrow or even tonight.


What about you? What do you love most about travelling?

Categories: Decor | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

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Dear readers, Jenny here again. I actually wanted to talk to you about something else this week but I will have to postpone that until next week because I don’t have the time at all and I would like to write a longer post. Anyhow, I wanted to share Opening Ceremony’s Spring Summer 2012 short movies with you because they are very funny and unique. Other than admiring the beautiful clothes, I loved the way OC decided to mirror the Godard -like style but make fun of it at the same time, using dummies instead of stunt doubles and add an unexpected twist to the usual love storyline. Londoners are very excited to be getting their own OC store- the first one in Europe!!! Here are the videos:

P.S I love it when you comment, please keep on doing that, I am always so happy to hear about your thoughts, I just don’t always have time to answer, but I hope this doesn’t put you off. Lots of love x Jenny

Categories: Fashion | 1 Comment »

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May 18, 2012

I first heard of CocoRosie in relation to Antony Hegarty. Sierra and Bianca Casady, two sisters separated in their childhood, reunited after many years in Paris, formed the band in 2003.  Growing up separately it is uncanny that they both were musical and developed and cultivated their talents singing and composing. Their first album  La Maison de Mon Rêve  (2004) consists of strange, yet not entirely cacophonous sounds: their voices, instruments, sounds everyday objects and toys make. Second album Noah’s Ark (2005) involved cooperation with Hegarty, followed by The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (2007) and Grey Oceans (2010).

CocoRosie will perform in Berlin (July 8 & July 9) and in Wroclaw, and I’m planning to attend one of these concerts.

Have you heard of them? What is your favorite song? Their music resists labels but is often dubbed freak folk. The word “freak” makes me want to make a list of synonyms — weird, bizarre, freakish, curious, eccentric, funky, outlandish, peculiar, strange, anomalous, deviant, exceptional, extraordinary, irregular, off, uncommon, unexpected, unorthodox, unusual, queer, singular…I could go on and on.

Let your ears (& eyes) be surprized! Smiles, Marta.

Photo credit: 1.


Categories: Decor | Tags: | 6 Comments »

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Rare Perfumes

May 17, 2012

“He walks the flower-edged
paths in the cool spring
dawn and each blossom
gives its own note to a
symphony of scent and yet
his thoughts are on his beloved
and the way her rare
perfumes turn the hollows of
her white wrist and perfect
throat into deep pools of
pleasure and how the richest
of all the scents she wears is
the perfume of her beauty, a
fragrance known only to the
angels of deep heaven, one
part starlight and two culled
from the shimmer of full
moons. It belongs to no other
woman who walks the earth
–the scent of tender love.”

I’m obsessed these days with Byredo’s Pulp, mixed with a touch of Santal Blanc by Serge Lutens. Is it possible to be addicted to perfume?

(Photo by a Swedish Love Affair.)

Categories: Decor | Comments Off on Rare Perfumes

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Hello my friends! Same ol’ Jess here- the only difference being that I am missing a good inch or two of hair since my last post.

I have quite long hair, very straight, fine, brown (possibly boring) which I am trying to grow out for ‘Locks for Love’. My 91-year-old grandmother is going through chemo and lost her hair so we went wig shopping. I tried to convince her to get a pink one, but apparently she doesn’t like the Katy Perry look. She joked that she wanted a few inches of my  hair, which is what inspired me. You must donate ten inches and my hair is my security blanket of self-esteem, so I need it to be as long as possible before it’s officially snipped. 


 I recently went to the Paul Mitchell Salon here in St. Louis and when the stylist asked me what I wanted, I told her ‘just a little trim on the ends to keep it even and healthy’. Know what she suggested I do?

Dye it ombre. Add extensions. Then she told me that I needed a spray tan.

Now I am quite aware of my paleness and that I don’t have Sophia Vergara’s thick luscious hair. I am not designed that way, and I don’t feel a huge need to change this. There is nothing wrong if people want to do this stuff, if it makes anyone feel better about themselves, I’m not going to judge. I enjoy makeup too much for that. If I were going to completely embrace nature then I would have to tell my Grandma to walk around bald. Not going to happen! I just don’t like the idea that it’s a necessity to alter so much of ourselves to be considered ‘beautiful’. I shower and brush my hair and I think the natural, clean, healthy version of what I was born with is just fine.

I believe in taking care of nature, and presenting it well. To further demonstrate the art of carefully arranged nature, please enjoy these lovely works from Charleston based artist, Lulie Wallace.

What lovely compositions. I also think the fact that I did not yell, ‘Are you calling me ugly?” at the stylist is a tribute to composure, even if, truth be told, it went totally against my nature. There are some things, like a truculent nature, that are ok to change. “A rose with a different complexion would still look this Grumpy”

Until next time- xo from Jess

Categories: Fashion, illustrations | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

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Hard Books

May 17, 2012

Some books are hard to write about.  I began making my way through my to-read list last week, and Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being was the first I checked off.  I tried to write about it and realized my mixed feelings made a short response impossible.  I loved the story, some of the philosophizing, and the characters, but in a good bit of the philosophical spurts, I was frustrated.

Other books have presented me with a similar quandary: Anna Karenina (loved it, but what can I say that hasn’t been said?), Everything is Illuminated (mixed feelings), Absalom, Absalom (couldn’t stand it, but knew it was brilliant), The History of Love (simply left me speechless), and more.

This sudden impossibility of saying anything about a book that I’ve just read and can’t stop thinking about leaves me wondering why certain books have this effect and not others.  Was I simply not ready for the book?  Am I not intellectual enough to verbalize my thoughts about these works?  Did I miss that something that would bring the work all together and let me write?

As always, I’m curious to hear from fellow bibliophiles: what books, if any, are hard for you to write or talk about after reading?


Have a lovely Thursday, friends, and see you next week!

~Katie (unwritten, untitled)

[image 1 by munir on flickr/image 2 from one cover of The Unbearable Lightness of Being/image 3 by jacQuie.K on flickr]

Categories: Books | 3 Comments »

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