Friday, April 30, 2010

lady grey

Tim Walker's photo shoot entitled "Lady Grey" from the March 2010 issue of Vogue Italia is a perfect blend of whimsy and couture. It's Alice in Wonderland meets a Venetian Carnival.  I love the fantasy and high drama... but am secretly thankful to see it play out in the pages of Vogue and not my *real* life.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

chillin' with lhb

Growing up, my earliest recollections of music in our house was listening to Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell and Charley Pride. We (and everyone else) called it Country and Western music back in the late 60s.  My father would throw in some Edith Piaf or Miles Davis just to keep things lively. In the 70s, my parents moved on to psychedelic music and we listened to Iron Butterfly, Jethro Tull and Jefferson Airplane. I loved it all. I had Sweet Baby James and Tapestry on vinyl (of course) and thought I was the cat's meow. Somewhere along the way (1976??), my brothers and I became the owners of Kiss Destroyer on 8-track. We had died and gone to heaven!  I knew every lyric (and still do) and spent hours contemplating who was the cutest band member. (Like you could actually see what they looked like.)  I ultimately decided that I would bestow the honor on Peter Criss because, at 13 years old, I thought his cat face was just too cute.  He also sang the ultimate love song (at least in 1976), Beth. (Personally not my favorite, but even then I knew I was in the minority.)

My whole point here is that people knew what they liked and knew what to call it... Country, Psychedelic, Rock-n-Roll, Jazz...  I don't think things are that easy today.  The fact that I continue to love it all only complicates things.  Is it down tempo, chill, shoegaze, trip hop, folk, pop, ambient, rock, trance, fusion, electronica??  I don't know! And really, I don't care.  I like that I like so many things.  Knowing what to call it would help in conversations, though.

Recently, I have fallen for a band that is no longer around. (I hate when that happens!!) I've been on the look out to buy some of their stuff, but the best I've been able to do is on Amazon, where a new CD is running over $60 excluding import fees and international shipping. I think I'll be doing a saved search on eBay. (Keeping my fingers crossed.)

The band is LHB. I am not sure what kind of music to tell you they play... I'm going with chill/trip hop/ambient.  If you like R√∂yksopp and Zero 7, they are for you. The first video features the awesome vocals of Imogen Heap, definitely a high point.  Have a listen and tell me what you think.  And if you come across one of their CDs, buy it for me!! (I will absolutely send you the money for it... assuming it's less than the $60 Amazon wants.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

eye candy

My first eye make-up consisted of the dreaded baby blue eye shadow and black mascara.  The blue eye shadow was pretty much due to the fact that:
1. It was the 1970's
2. It was all my mother wore and it belonged to her
3. I have blue eyes (as did my mother) and people used to think your eye shadow should match your eye color

Thankfully, my make-up bag has expanded since then and I can tell you without a doubt, I do not own any blue eye shadow. (Though, these skills are way out of my league.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic `til I'm safely gathered in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love

One of my favorite modern artists is Jack Vettriano.  The Scottish painter's realistic paintings capture simple isolated romantic moments.  I've seen his paintings described as reminiscent of film noir.

I have a couple of his prints hanging in my bedroom and even after years of owning them, I still enjoy seeing them every day.  The picture above is entitled, Dance Me to the End of Love.  It makes me think about being in love and feeling like only the two of you are even alive.  The original was painted in 1998.

The matchless Leonard Cohen wrote his song of the same name in the early eighties.  I don't think I will ever tire of hearing it. I can't share the official Cohen video with you, but you can see it here. It is very sweet and the older couples make me smile. Madeleine Peyroux did a very nice cover of the song on her Careless Love album but I'd like to share with you another version that I am fond of by The Civil Wars.  

Isn't that what we all want?

Monday, April 26, 2010

john james audubon

Few painters have garnered the admiration of John James Audubon. Though French by birth, he immigrated to the United States at the tender age of 18 in 1803 and developed a deep and abiding love for this country and it's wildlife. So in honor of Mr. Audubon's 225 birthday, some of my favorite samplings of his work.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

cuppity cuppity cup cupcakes

It's a rainy Sunday morning here at the Mouse House.  Countrymouse has zipped to the market to pick up some milk and scrapple.  Yummmm..... scrapple.  (This can and will be a post on it's own.  If you don't live in the Mid-Atlantic, you've probably never heard of it and all I can say is, sorry about your luck!) I've been scrolling through my blog roll and reading all these wonderful foodie blogs that have made me ravenous.  Like this one with a recipe for a just kill me now chocolate cake (she calls it the "weapon of ass destruction") and this one that gives a recipe for Pimento Cheese. (I am totally going to make this. The only Pimento Cheese I've ever eaten had Kraft stamped on the label and I thought that was pretty good, so I am sure this will be divine. Besides, her post title is so cute... Pimento Cheese: The Glue that Holds the South Together.)

The one item food that I haven't been able to get out of my head lately is cupcakes.  Cupcakes are so in right now and are just so haute chic.  I remember my mom making cupcakes for school parties and such.  Nothing over the top... a Betty Crocker mix and chocolate frosting.  We were thrilled.  Who knew they'd take on a life of their own?  There are cupcake bakeries and shops opening up all over the place, like this one in DC. (A little bit of a drive for me just for cupcakes, but definitely worth stopping for next time I'm there.) Speaking of Betty Crocker... even they are getting in on the cupcake movement.  I recently got an e-mail from them with this recipe for Pink Champagne Cupcakes.  You all know about my love for champagne, so of course this intrigued me.... only I can't see me pouring 12 ounces of champagne into a mixing bowl instead of a flute.

Hands down, the best cupcake website is Ming Makes Cupcakes.  I want to run away and live in Ming's kitchen.  I suppose the responsible, adult thing to do is just pull out my cupcake tins.  Damn adulthood!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

postcards from italy

I really do love all things Italian.  I suppose that makes me an Italianophile??  The wonderful Zach Condon and his band Beirut is all American but just the title of their song, Postcards From Italy, works for me.  The song is actually very, very good and stands on it's own merit, but the title makes me love it even more.

How can you improve on this?  Have the take-my-breath-away Florence and the Machine cover it!  Florence Welch is on-fire hot and her cover is spot on. (Unfortunately, there is no "official" video for this, but at least you can hear it.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

silver liquid drops

Spring in Maryland means rain.  And more rain.  We yearn for the sunny calm days we know are coming and the farmers fret about not getting crops planted on time.  Soon enough we will have weather that threatens reaching triple digits and all the havoc that brings.  I want to kneel in my yard and play in the earth and anticipate a summer filled with unspoken promise. But it's not time yet. 

Let the rain kiss you. 
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. 
Let the rain sing you a lullaby. 
~Langston Hughes







Friday, April 16, 2010

the thin man

I love the Thin Man movies.  There is something just so ultra-cool about Nick and Nora... it's almost hypnotic. The chemistry between William Powell and Myna Loy was believable and though there were only 6 Thin Man movies, the pair ultimately went on to star in 14 movies together.  I love their easy, sassy banter and their love of cocktails.  They make life look so easy (of course, being wealthy and glamorous helps).

 The Thin Man (1934)

After the Thin Man (1936)

Another Thin Man (1939)

Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)

The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)

Song of the Thin Man (1947)

I always romantically think of these movies representing an era that was long, long ago. After all, the first film debuted over 75 years ago. Another Thin Man was filmed in 1939 and Shadow of the Thin Man in 1941, the years my father and mother were born. This fascinates me and gives me a small window into what the world was like when they were born. This fact somehow makes that time more in my grasp... it makes me feel like I can almost touch that era, even though the world itself seems to have changed so much since then.

It amuses me to no end that the original Thin Man movie was released just a year after Prohibition was repealed. Nick and Nora's love of all thing alcohol is a major component of the movies and you have to wonder if it was some kind of commentary. Me? I don't like it when I find myself somewhere that still has Sunday Blue Laws, I can't imagine not being able to (legally) have a drink for 13 years! Noble Experiment, my hiney!

The following clip highlights some of Nick and Nora's classic cocktail moments.  My favorite is probably the scene from the first movie where Nora and Nick are having martinis. It is obvious that Nick has been drinking heavily and Nora wants to keep up with him:
Nora: Say, how many drinks have you had?
Nick: This will make six martinis.
Nora (to waiter): All right. Will you bring me five more martinis, Leo? And line them right up here.
She never misses a beat!  That's my girl.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

precious privilege

When you arise in the morning, 
think of what a precious privilege 
it is to be alive-
to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.                                                                                                                    ~Marcus Aurelius

Photo of Southern Maryland by Kurt Preston.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

a most unusual gin

When I was 18 years old I decided I liked gin.  I'm not sure why now, looking back, but I did.  Not just any gin... Tanqueray gin. And, in case you're wondering... the drinking age in Maryland back in the dark ages day was 18, so I was totally legit and obviously drinks were cheaper back then because my poor-minimum-wage-earning-college-hiney couldn't have handled what good martinis cost nowadays. I've continued to drink and enjoy gin ever since, but seldom drink Tanqueray these days. Bombay Sapphire ranks high on my list, but my gin of choice is Hendricks, hands down. Hendricks is just so yummy. It is a small batch gin crafted in Scotland (yet another reason to be proud of my heritage), with an "unexpected" infusion of cucumber and rose petals.  I know... sounds pretty highfalutin... but I swear it works. Cucumber, of course, is the garnish of choice for Hendricks.

I love Hendricks' advertising. It is clever, fun and interesting... just like the product it advertises.  

Monday, April 12, 2010

alphonse mucha

I was probably about 11 or 12 the first  time I saw Alphonse Mucha's work.  I was in awe of the highly stylized detail. The organic shapes and floral motifs appealed to me. I had no idea what Art Nouveau was at that time, but I knew I loved it. Mucha is the poster child for this style. Art Nouveau was a short-lived period, probably lasting only about 15 years, but it has a significant impact in design history, bridging neoclassical design and modernism. I still love the intricate details and flowing expression and while not always purely Art Nouveau, this design element is present in my day-to-day life.

This is the poster I had hanging in my room as a teenager.

One of Mucha's many advertisement designs. 

Some of Mucha's most popular prints are his Four Seasons...




Mucha's first lithograph for the Sarah Bernhardt play, Gismonda.