Things I Loved/Hated This Week #26


Record Players:


For my latest spring cleaning project, I’ve been organizing my CD collection and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. Do I really need the Baha Men’s album? And more importantly, why do I have it? I have never had much of a relationship with the old compact disc, they don’t have much soul or necessity in this modern era. My entire music collection is digital and I don’t see any changes in that arrangement ever. I adore digital music and could not be happier about it. I never buy CDs anymore, I use Spotify, where I can find almost anything I want. The other day, I found a live Marlene Dietrich album from a concert she gave in Brazil. That’s amazing, let’s listen to it now, yes?

I love living in the future! But even though I say all that, I have a deep love for record players and the records that play on them. I have a big collection that I adore getting out and playing once in a blue moon. My favorites come from my grandmother’s house. They are the old, thick 78 records that play fox trots and waltzes and things of that sort. My favorite ever, that sadly broke, was the single for Georgia Gibb’s “Make Me Love You.” It is divinity!

[At this point, you really should download Spotify, if you haven’t already. I think I’m going to exclusively link my music from there. It’s better quality and not as iffy as Youtube. It’s free, stop your whinging.]

One of my favorite songs. The other night we were cleaning out some more of her house in preparation for it’s sale and came across another bunch of records and I had such a fun time listening to them. I will forever have records even if I get rid of all my CDs.

“Grace” by Grace Coddington:


I was so very happy to get this book for Christmas, but I haven’t had much of a chance to read it, yet. I have almost completely abandoned traditional books in favor of eBooks. I used to read a chapter or so before bed, but now I just collapse in a heap when I go upstairs after another trying day. [I sound like those people I hate.] So, I put this book on the treadmill and read it as I walk. I’m going to finish it up tonight. I’ve long been aware of Grace Coddington, though I can’t say that I knew a lot about her. When a person loves fashion the way I do, you grow accustomed to familiar faces in the crowds of fashion shows and Grace’s trademark red hair is one that I always noticed, perhaps because she was sitting next to Anna Wintour, who (whom? Screw grammar! Don’t read this future literary agents, editors, and publishers! I love grammar!) I also adore. I recall having a long conversation about several of Grace’s photo spreads with an ancien amant years ago where we both gushed over her work, amongst other things. Her autobiography is delightful. In many ways it reminds me of D.V., the autobiography of Diana Vreeland, and in my opinion, one of the most important literary works ever published. She speaks candidly and self-deprecatingly about her life and experiences in fashion. I feel that I have a lot in common with her and although that does nothing to improve my lot in life, it cheers me a bit, especially since I have close to no experiences with the fashion world. I love reading about the time she spent in Paris and I’ve added many new shops and bistros to my “Á FAIRE EN PARIS!” list, which is already inconceivably long. Her recollection of attempting to drive around the Arc de Triompe made me chortle merrily. “I managed to get halfway round the Arc de Triomphe before stopping the car and jumping out, screaming, ‘I can’t go on!'” I adore her! She isn’t always incredibly descriptive, but in the way she recounts her stories, you can feel almost as if you are in a tiny restaurant in Paris, stuffed to the gills with models and fashion designers where Karl is manically fanning himself as a pissed Annie Leibovitz attempts to get the shot she wants. Truly a delight! I don’t know if they will, but I imagine a great biographical film of her life being made. I want to be in it! Can I be Karl????!!??!?!???! Anyway, I love everything about the book and heartily recommend it to you.

Beautiful Weather:


I’m losing my mind! I’ve been waiting for so long for the nice weather and now that it is finally lovely, I’m stuck inside at work. It’s criminal. There are no opportunities to go outside at all during the day and I think that’s just the worst. I walk outside for like a minute to go to my luncheon, but that’s not nearly enough. We should have all classes outside so that we can enjoy the warm breezes and sunshine. Yesterday, it allegedly got to 70, of which I’m dubious, but it was still nice. I began clearing out the refuse from the gardens. Last year I couldn’t be bothered to clean the stalks and stems and whatnot after the growing season was over, so it was all out there still. So, I took some time yesterday with a podcast, a rake, a wheelbarrow, a hoe (HOE!), and a sunny disposition and cleared one of the gardens. I have four. It’s too much. It’s way too much, but I never learn and I always have way too many plants…and weeds. This year, I need to pull back. I want lots of tomatoes and herbs, especially basil, beets, and all sorts of greens. I can’t think of anything else I really want. Chickpeas? Artichokes? Sunflowers? I don’t know, yet. All I do know is that I am stunned that my thyme plants are still alive. They die every year, and these ones did for the most part, but near the center are green leaves and young stems and I about collapsed. Today it’s going to be beautiful again, so I hope I get home in time to till the first garden and work on the second. UPDATE: It was amazing today. It was in the mid 70s and I ate outside with Jose at Noodles & Company and I breathed in the fresh air and it was the highlight of my week. The rest of the week SUCKED. Work sucked, but the weather sucked even more. It’s 38 degrees as I type this. Where the eff is springtime? I can’t deal with this shit.

Fresh Yeast:


Fresh yeast is not a very common ingredient, I’ve discovered after spending over half a decade baking. OH MY GOD, I’M SOOOOOO OLD! It’s in many recipes, but you don’t see it in shops. I finally found that you could buy it from the bakeries of some grocery stores, but even then, it is kind of awkward to ask for some and get a blank face response from the employee. Then, they rarely knew how to package it or price it and it was just simpler for me to convert the recipe to a sachet of active dry yeast. Thankfully, my friend works in a bakery department, so I have easy and intelligent access to fresh yeast whenever inspiration strikes. The other night, I was at Whole Foods looking at the incredibly varied assortment of butters I needed to try and noticed that there were also squares of fresh yeast for sale–be still my pastry chef heart! I, of course, bought some, and decided to use it to make croissants for the coffee shop this week. I enjoy the convenience of a sachet of yeast–you just dump it in a bowl, which is nice, but I much favor the results of the fresh yeast. I mixed my dough up, put it in the refrigerator, and when I looked the next morning, the dough had become a wonderful monster rapidly taking up space and escaping the confines of the dozens of layers of plastic wrap I had enshrouded it in. What fun! I can’t wait to see if the croissants rise ridiculously the way the dough has so far. One of the things I hate about making croissants is that for reasons I have yet to figure out, they rise differently each and every time. They always taste good, but look different, annoying. I’m going to try a new kind this week, too–lemon ricotta! Very excited.

La Môme/La Vie En Rose:


I haven’t watched this movie in years, so when I did last night, it was like catching up with an old friend you’d forgotten about. It is one of my absolute favorites and still is after this viewing. When I went to Paris for the first time, back in 2007, I was a fan of Édith Piaf and listened to her music almost nonstop. For me, one of the things that have helped me learn French best was listening to music so that I could analyze the way the words were put together. Very helpful if you’re learning. I didn’t realize there was a film of her life made, though, until I saw the iconic poster literally plastered all over the city. Marion Cotillard’s incredibly transformed silhouette was in the Métro and on the Champs-Élysées and in the magazines and bus stops. My French wasn’t that great at the time, though, so I didn’t see the film in theaters. When I got home, though, I found it online, and though it wasn’t legal, I downloaded it and from the very first few minutes, I knew there was something very special about this movie. It is told in such a way that it propels you constantly forward and never lets you become bored. It is perfectly paced and written and scored and directed and, of course, perfectly acted. Marion is Édith. The film is tragic, but absolutely beautiful. There is a scene on an American beach where Édith sits on the beach, knitting, and giving an interview. It’s so sweet and lovely and it epitomizes the film. Little simple scenes that build a massive portrait of the woman. And the last ten minutes of the film are some of the best constructed in all of cinematic history. I love how it ends, not with her assumed death, but her glorious triumph at the Olympia (where I’ve been!).


Look how thin I look here!

Anyway, Édith holds the last note of “Non…Je Ne Regrette Rien,” the screen suddenly goes back and then silence. It’s magnificent. I weep each time.


Hunt For New Fragrance:


I’ve decided not to buy another bottle of Chanel Pour Monsieur. I love it and it smells great, but it only lingers for two hours, then I don’t smell Chanel anymore. I smell it when I run, but I have to get my body temperature up a bit for the scent to kick in, which I don’t like, mainly because I hate being active. I know that I do more exercise than a lot of people, but I thoroughly hate it. I’d much rather be eating cake and watching reality television, who wouldn’t? There is a version of this cologne that is supposed to be more concentrated, so maybe I’ll try it, because I do like it so much. I wrote to L’Occitane for fragrance samples, but they don’t have any. I’ve heard they have excellent cologne. I really like this scent that my brother wears, but it’s American Eagle, and I can’t feel professional wearing a cologne from American Eagle! So, then, I recalled a shop I saw one day in London called Czech & Speake that make a variety of fragrances, so I ordered samples from them. There are a couple that I like, I’m wearing one right now called Vert, and I believe it’s my favorite. It’s a pricey company, but I don’t mind that. Money is so unimportant–things and experiences are more important than having money. I think perhaps I will go to Sephora to get some samples from there, too. I need to find something delicious that lasts.

Boxelder Bugs (STILL!):



Back in the beginning days of this blog series, I wrote like three sentences about things and didn’t even include photographs. It must have been awfully boring for you all, and for that I apologize. Anyway, in one of the first posts I wrote about my unending hatred of box elder bugs and this loathing has not diminished one bit, but has rather grown to be something borderline maniacal. With the advent of spring, there are suddenly even more of those little bastards all over everything. One was in my pants the other day, guys, I just wanted to die. It was so awful. They crawl all over the windows in the kitchen and collect on my cabinets. I spend hours and hours vacuuming them up and swatting them and sweeping up carcasses, but it seems that I can’t get the under control. They must be coming in from someplace, but I can’t figure it out. The other day, I looked at the outside of my house and about projectile vomited when I saw the unbelievable mass of them collected on the foundation bricks. I probably slaughtered a hundred thousand of them. They don’t do anything, I get that, but I do not want them in my house and in my things. The other day, I was doing some food photography after I thought I’d removed them all from the kitchen and was alarmed to see one crawling towards me in the picture, I had to edit that out. I need a solution. They will drive me out of my mind,

No More Chocolate Chambord Cake at Django:


My favorite restaurant in Des Moines is, as I’m sure you’re aware by now, is Django located downtown. It’s perfect. There are no problems there. I know that each and every time I go I can order a cocktail, ratatouille, mushroom faux poivre, tomato bisque and then chocolate Chambord cake for dessert. I get this every time and I love it and it’s worth every penny. I’d rather spend my money on food than most things, even though I need to save for a new laptop with a battery that works and a processor that doesn’t hang while browsing the Internet. So, in the mood for this delicious cake, I scurried over there after dropping Jose at the airport to order a piece to go. I was sent to the bar, where I enviously eyeballed the fancy drinks and placed my order. (Didn’t have time for a drink.) Then, to my eternal shock and horror, the bartender told me that they no longer offer my beloved cake for sale. I gasped and clutched my nonexistent bosom before grabbing the pearls I wasn’t wearing as tears welled up in my eyes. “Quoi?” I gasped in horror. They are a French restaurant after all. “Very sorry, sir,” the waiter said as I found the strength within me to order a chocolate pot de crème. As I waited for the dessert to arrive, I decided to start a social media campaign and immediately tweeted something suicidal to the restaurant. The next day they apologized and informed me that the Chambord cake was a winter specialty. Why? WHY, DAMMIT? Instead, they want me to try their chocolate ganache cake, which I will, of course, but they could have offered a coupon for my overwhelming sadness. The pot de crème was very good, but it was no chocolate Chambord cake.

Never Enough Time:


When I run for president, I think one of the platforms of my campaign will be the addition of three more hours to the day. It won’t be astronomically correct, but whatever, time is just a perception after all, it’s not real. What? Don’t you read Einstein’s theories? Because I have to work and sleep, I never have enough time for the important things–me, for the most part. There is not enough time left for me to exercise and read and cook and eat and clean and watch a film and tinker in the garden and plan my ensembles or research online. There’s barely enough time for me to eat, go for a walk, and maybe watch a show before it’s inexplicably midnight again. I’ve taken to just not sleeping much anymore, and it’s not bad, but it’s not exactly pleasant. I need some kind of cream for my eyes so that I don’t look like I’m a zombie. I also think that each weekend should be three days at a minimum. Vote for me!

My Ancient Laptop:


I’ve written of this before, but I’m getting concerned again. My laptop is near the end of it’s useful days and I’m awfully sad about that. It freezes when I browse the Internet. It takes far too long to do simple image editing. The disc drive has been nonfunctional for years. The battery lasts half an hour on a good day. It’s just about time. It’s a MacBook Pro from 2009 and I know that it isn’t that awfully old and that it can probably be useful for years to come, but these shortcomings (aside from the disc drive, which I’d never used anyway) are becoming too much for me too handle. I’ll keep it hooked up to my television, perhaps? I don’t really want to sell it for the couple hundred dollars that it’s probably worth. I thought for the longest time that I’d replace it with an iMac, and I may still, but I think I’ll stick with laptops. Allah only knows which one I’ll eventually pick, but the MacBook Air is so much better these days than the one I used to have. They act like functioning computers instead of beautiful pieces of suicidal nonsense! The new MacBook Pros also look gorgeous. Alas, I don’t know, it won’t be until this summer probably anyway when I’ll have enough extra cash to sacrifice to the Apple gods. I also want to get an iPad Mini for work next year, but we shall have to see. When do tax returns come back? I actually got some this year! Winning!

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