September 30, 2009

Blog Birthday

One year ago today I embarked on this little blogging adventure. In a way, I feel as though I've given birth. Maybe I haven't always been the most attentive of mothers (I'm not here every day, after all). But I try. I try juggling work, commuting, gym, boyfriend time, friend time, family time, reading time, me time and blog time. I'm still exploring and learning and having so much fun in the process. And along the way I've met some really cool, interesting, creative people via their own blogs. I can't wait to see where else this blog of mine takes me in the next year and beyond.

September 22, 2009

Autumnal Equinox

Dear Autumn,

Welcome back! It's been too long, really it has. I say 'welcome', but to be honest, it doesn't even feel like you're here. The neighboring hillsides are currently ablaze and the mighty sun seems quite happy to stay exactly where he's been all summer, hanging solo in the sky, unencumbered by any pesky cloud formations that might drift his way. Suffice it to say that you're a little wary of making yourself known just yet.
I understand that you tend to be shy, especially in southern California. I get it, Autumn. I've been in this situation before and I just want to let you know that I'm prepared to wait. After all, the best things in life are worth waiting for, no? Think of all the fun that lies in store for us: the scarf-wearing, leaf-peeping, apple-picking, pumpkin-carving, firewood-smelling, hot coco-sipping good times are ready for the taking, Autumn. That is, when you care to join me. Until then I remain patiently yours,

Joanna xoxo

September 19, 2009

East Coast Adventures

I've been back in Los Angeles for a few days now after spending a week on the east coast. T and I flew in for our friends' wedding in Connecticut and spent some time in Brooklyn before and after. I had been to Manhattan several times, but never to Brooklyn, so I was very curious to check it out, considering it's now the hip place to be. I was charmed by the brownstoned, leafy Park Slope neighborhood and by our friends' rooftop terrace from which we could admire a pretty a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline and even the Statue of Liberty, way off in the distance. It was so peaceful up there on that roof and provided a refreshing respite from the frenzy of the city below.

I was also super excited to learn that my Brooklyn friends live two doors down from J.Crew creative director and style maven, Jenna Lyons. How awesome is that? My love for J.Crew has been made quite apparent before.

We had coffee here.

I bought paper here.

On another note, T and I were somewhat surprised and a little dismayed to discover that Brooklyn suffers from a shocking scarcity in taxi cabs. We ended up hoofing our way through Park Slope, Boerum Hill, and Cobble Hill more than we would have liked. The silver lining (there is always one, is there not?) is that we had some pretty incredible meals. And no trip to Brooklyn would be complete without checking out the Brooklyn Public Library. Check out those owls.

And crossing the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge.

And meeting bibliophile cats who get to lounge around amid books all day. Where can I sign up for that job?

The first thing I noticed about Connecticut (and New England, for that matter, for it was my first time for both) is that the air had a particularly fresh, clean quality to it. Everything was so green and lush and was tinged with that end-of-summer feeling. The leaves hadn't yet changed color completely, but if you looked closely you could see the first hints of autumn coloring the outlines of the leaves in that lovely golden hue.

The skies threatened rain throughout our visit and even made good with their threat by unleashing a bit of drizzle here and there. Thankfully, it remained blissfully dry during and after the wedding ceremony. The wedding itself took place at the Bellamy Ferriday house, which has been around since the 18th century (this sort of thing never ceases to amaze this Californian, who grew up in the sort of town where an "old" building is one that emanates from the 1920's).

The centerpieces at each table had freshly picked lavender and stones gathered from somewhere. I'm guessing a flower-strewn path from a nearby meadow (right?).

Twigs from branches formed a sort of wreath on top of the wedding cake. This completed the wood-nymph theme of the wedding, which I found utterly enchanting.

The happy couple.

September 10, 2009

And we're off

T and I are flying the friendly skies again today. Destination: Connecticut via Brooklyn. We'll be attending a friend's wedding in what is supposed to be a rainy New England (thanks It'll be my first time in that part of the country, which I hear is lovely. I hope it has that prelude-to-autumn feel in the air. Fingers crossed, anyway.

Pictures to come when I get back late next week. Have a great weekend!

September 8, 2009

A couple birthday treats

Here are a couple birthday treats I'd like to share with you: beautiful peridot earrings (my birthstone) that are my new favorite pieces of jewelry, and the new Prada perfume, L'Eau Ambree, which has notes of amber, patchouli, vanilla and opoponax and smells delightful. It's warm, yet a bit spicy and surprisingly more subtle than what I've come to expect from amber scents. I've been wearing it non-stop since it arrived on my doorstep, creating a happy fragrance memory that will forever link the amber scent with my 28th birthday.

Can you tell that I'm rather obsessed with birthdays? I can't help it, it's been ingrained in my childhood and hasn't really gone away. I look at birthdays as not just another year of getting older, but rather as another year to learn new things, to strive for a better, simpler life, to be adventurous and generous and happy and grateful for everything I've experienced and everything that has yet to come my way. What's not to get excited about?

September 4, 2009

My birthday weekend

I had, quite simply, one of the best birthdays ever. Last weekend, T and I flew up north for a little wine-tasting adventure in Sonoma and Napa, and we brought some friends with us along the way (and stayed with T's wonderful and obliging sister and brother-in-law). The entire weekend was filled with great food, great wine, and great company. In other words, it was absolutely perfect.

We flew to San Francisco via Virgin America. As a nod to my 28th birthday, T sprang for first class, where we drank sparkling wine and toasted to a terrific weekend ahead (which it was). Incidentally, Josh Groban was on our flight and could be seen flirting with the flight attendant (he sat in coach, interestingly enough). After we landed at SFO, we were invited to check out the cockpit, our ticket to this little privileged tour being our two-year-old travel companion, Oliver. Thanks, Ollie!

Breakfast on my birthday consisted of poached eggs and asparagus on toast, as prepared by T's fabulous sister Heather. Talk about yum.

We toured Trefethen winery in Napa, where T grew up. I sampled a tiny grape from this vine; its sweet flavor burst on my tongue in a perfectly delightful way.

Barrels upon barrels of wine, each containing 300 bottles. The mind reels from the sheer volume of so much wine and begs the question, 'Have I consumed 300 bottles of wine in my lifetime?' We ended up taking home their cabernet franc. Not all of it, just a bottle. :-)

Birthday cupcakes!

We had three small children in our party, so while the little ones napped in the afternoon, the grown-ups relaxed on a blanket underneath a shady tree (the female ones did, anyway; the males ended up napping along with the babies!), complete with delectable grilled cheese-and-avocado-and-tomato sandwiches and sparkling wine. Rough.

Here is T's baby niece Sophia looking like the angel that she is, post-nap.

The next day we escaped the 100+ degree weather and headed for the much cooler beach. I actually prefer gray, foggy weather, which surely must be some residual love from my London days.

Oysters and South African sparkling wine make a killer combo.

On the last day we headed into the city, where we caught a planetarium show at The Academy of Sciences (which was awesome), lunched in North Beach, spent an hour at City Lights bookshop (I'm guilty as charged), and admired the water from the Ferry Building. It's always bittersweet to experience such magical weekends as this, because for all the fun and sheer enjoyment I felt all weekend long, it's also rather excruciating to see it end and go back to reality. Although I'm struggling with serious post-birthday blues now, each day that passes gets a bit easier and I become even more grateful for having such wonderful friends in my life with whom to share a beautiful birthday weekend.

September 1, 2009

August Reads

August was a particularly busy month for me. I attended a handful of fetes celebrating impending motherhood, moving, and birthdays, including my own (more about that in another post). The number of books I read this month is a paltry two, making August the shortest book month yet. I'm trying not to feel too bad about it. Although I didn't get through as many books in August as I would have hoped, I had a pretty spectacular month, celebration-wise. Oh, yeah! Below are the books I read this August.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I love that tingly feeling upon opening the pages of a good book, when I feel as though I'm entering a world that is so utterly unlike my own that it's like I've gone through a magical portal. I open the book and instantly I'm transported. This doesn't happen to me with every book I read (the magic occurs far too seldom), so when it does happen, as it did with this one, it's an exceptional treat. This book left me positively spellbound. Golden writes with beautifully rich metaphors that linger in your mind long after you've read them. The world the reader inhabits is so vivid and resplendent with color and drama and is at times exciting, frightening, and also quite sad. These women or "geisha" are not independent; rather, they rely solely on the generosity of the men they charm and entertain and/or upon the geisha house to which they belong. Nowhere is this more apparent than during WWII when the geisha are forced to give up the life they've adopted after begging their male benefactors for protection. The title is misleading, as the book isn't exactly nonfiction. I've read plenty of book reviews in which people have expressed frustration with this literary tactic, but it doesn't bother me. I take the book for what it is: a splendidly-drawn, imaginative world that felt so real to me and which left me utterly bereft when I extracted my nose from its pages.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. It's sometime in the future, and there's a war going on. Fifteen-year-old Manhattan native Daisy moves across the pond to stay with her English cousins and aunt in the countryside. When the aunt travels to Oslo for business, the children revel in their newfound independence and spend an idyllic spring on a remote farm fishing, reading for hours, and falling in love (i.e. Daisy and her cousin Edmund, eyebrow-raising to say the least). Things are going swimmingly without any adults around (and really, what young adult work of fiction features parents that are present all the time?) until terrorists descend upon the little sceptered isle and a military group takes over the house, separating Daisy from her cousins. This is when the book gets really interesting. Daisy must struggle to survive in the country, in the middle of a war, in a way that is totally alien to her considering her urban upbringing. The war shapes Daisy and her cousins and for them life is never the same. For a book touted as 'young adult', there are some pretty adult themes coursing through its veins. I listened to the audiobook version, too, which I highly recommend.

And now we reach the month of September and my absolutely favorite time of year. There's something about the arrival of the 1st of September that conjures the autumnal mood for so many people, including myself, even though the weather outside is anything but fall-like at the moment (Southern California is ablaze right now and temperatures are reaching sweltering highs). This won't stop me from celebrating this happy season, if only in my book-inclined mind. I recently treated myself to a couple books recently (happy birthday to me!) that align perfectly with my autumnal state of mind.