Style: Lingerie, the French way

American women wear underwear. French women wear lingerie.

French women seem inherently more confident in their bodies, able to embrace the sensuality of life and love. What’s their secret?

angels3

Lingerie

I may not be of French descent and I don’t know if growing up in Montreal had anything to do with it, but I have embraced beautiful lingerie for as long as I can remember.  And that’s why I was so excited to discover a feminine unique brand native to South America which I brought back to sell in Canada for several years.

Yet, even though I tend to wear t-shirt bras, running bras and even yoga bras when need be, nothing shouts “I’m a sexy woman” more than when I put on a lacy, silky undergarment.  We don’t even know if men really appreciate it but just the fact that we have something sensuous underneath our outerwear that makes us feel special is good enough.

Did you see the parade of young, sexy women with perfect bodies strutting the Runway for the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show the other night?  It was the first time I’ve watched it and it was amazing!  It was filmed in Paris with Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars as guests and the backdrop was pure fantasy and the girls were seamless in their not necessarily seamless undergarments.  These chosen few are really top-notch in their category and the ones who exhibit more personality will surely go on to excel in the magic model kingdom.  But it is not reality as we know it, and on a more somber note it’s probably why  many young women become anorexic or bulimic in comparison.  These girls work out non-stop just so you knowangels1But moving right along….

A Toronto native by the name of Kathryn Kemp-Griffin is the author of a new book entitled “Paris Undressed.”  She moved to Paris with her husband in the 90’s and now also runs lingerie-themed tours of Paris.  She found that in North America comfort was an excuse for a lack of aesthetics.angels2

She realized that after moving to Paris, that lingerie could be something more. The idea is lingerie should be about activating the senses, not fixing perceived flaws.

Paris Undressed goes behind the seams, combining cultural references, expertise, and practical advice to inspire every woman to reconsider her underwear drawer.

It’s good to know that North American women are already embracing this!

http://houseofanansi.com/products/paris-undressed

Edible Art: the BENTO redesigned

Thinking inside the Bento Box

Made with lunch meats, cheese, cucumbers, and mayonnaise. Courtesy of Amorette Dye

Made with lunch meats, cheese, cucumbers, and mayo (wasabi-mayo maybe?)

Like many aspects of Japanese culture, particularly contemporary fads (anime, Hello Kitty, harajuku girls), the bento has become extremely popular here in North America.

Frappucino: Chicken salad with toasted almonds, wheat crackers, tangerine wedges, cucumbers, cauliflower, rice, bits of Fruit Roll-Ups, and fondant over Okinawa sweet potato (naturally that purple!) Other food coloring used is vegetable-based colorants.

Frappucino: Chicken salad with toasted almonds, wheat crackers, tangerine wedges, cucumbers, cauliflower, rice, bits of Fruit Roll-Ups, and fondant over Okinawa sweet potato (naturally that purple!)

A single-portion meal, a Japanese bento typically contains rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables. It’s pretty much on every Japanese restaurant menu or outside billboard (with the more casual places) as a fundamental lunch staple.  A little variety of favourites in a partitioned decorative wooden box good for times you’re craving Japanese but you can’t make up your mind exactly what you want to eat, you’re hungry and don’t want to pay a fortune.  Usually it’s the expected Western preferences like California roll (boooring), chicken or beef teriyaki over rice, tempura and the tiniest bit of salad.  Sometimes miso soup on the side.

Recently I’ve come across some restaurants that offer a bit more creativity to the familiar boxed bento.  You can pick and choose your add-ons from a variety of delicacies (usually from looking at photos on the menu).  A design your own box lunch.  After all Bento (弁当 or べんとう) really means the art of arranging one’s lunch. This is perfect for me.

Canadian Geese. Yellow pear tomato, rice, portobello mushrooms, sesame seeds (as eyes), couscous, pear puree, green beans, and soba noodles.

Canadian Geese: Yellow pear tomato, rice (made with vegetable food-grade dye), portobello mushrooms, sesame seeds (as eyes), couscous, pear puree, green beans, and soba noodles.

Anyway, for fun I wanted to share a few of these brilliant or at least cute looking bento boxes and lunch plates.  I mean if they can create coffee art, why not this?

Above photos courtesy of Amorette Dye

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And finally a sophisticated French dessert

And who cannot resist a perfect happy ending

It brings new meaning to you are what you eat but are you willing to disturb the presentation?

ART/Culture: Where the Universe Sings

The nice thing about ART is that it’s universal.

Isolation Peak, Rocky Mountains. 1930. Oil on canvas. Hart House Permanent Collection, University of Toronto. Purchased by the Art Committee with income from the Harold and Murray Wrong Memorial Fund, 1946. (Lawren Harris).

Isolation Peak, Rocky Mountains. 1930. Oil on canvas. Hart House Permanent Collection, University of Toronto. (Lawren Harris).

And a necessary distraction. You can be anyone from anywhere and of any economic background or situation and appreciate what you see the same way (or not) as the next person.  This is why ART is so appealing and inspiring.  But aside from the recognized and renowned artists such as Picasso or Van Gogh (love them or not) it’s good to expand your knowledge of other well respected but maybe not so widely famous artists from other countries.  I’m having a Canadian moment here.  Those of you living in the U.S. might not have heard of the Group of Seven.  Comic book characters they’re not.

In the early decades of the twentieth century, circumstances brought together several artists who were committed to exploring, through art, the unique character of the Canadian landscape. Collectively they agreed: Canada’s rugged wilderness regions needed to be recorded in a distinctive painting style. This style would break from European tradition and reflect an increasingly nationalistic sentiment. Today, these men (and one woman, Emily Carr) are among Canada’s most famous artists. For many, their works have come to symbolize what is the distinctly Canadian identity.

When I lived in Toronto I had not paid too much attention to this Group of Seven but then I went to an exhibit at the McMichael Gallery to see what all the fuss was about and it changed me.  Just like the saying goes “if you love to travel, explore your own country first” (or something like that), the same goes for art.  So I did, and I learned something and appreciated what I saw – mostly the beautiful expansive and diverse landscape of my own country. Which, by the way I did explore in full since then.  So I can admit that Art did influence me in another respect.

This year at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) I looked forward to watching a documentary about one of the most influential Group of Seven artists – Lawren Harris.

A founding member of the Group of Seven and a major figure in the history of twentieth-century Canadian art, Lawren Harris (1885-1970) remains largely unknown in the United States. This year the AGO partnered with the Hammer Museum to introduce Harris’s iconic landscapes to audiences in Los Angeles and Boston. The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris was the first major solo exhibition of his work to be shown in the United States.

Around this time I was watching CBC (a former employer of mine while living in Toronto) and saw comedian (author and artist himself) Steve Martin talking about his love of Lawren Harris’ work with news anchor Wendy Mesley.  It was very interesting.

Steve Martin was Michael's guide for a tour of a new exhibition of Harris's work at the Art Gallery of Ontario. (Art Gallery of Ontario)

Steve Martin was Michael’s guide for a tour of the exhibition of Harris’s work at the Art Gallery of Ontario. (AGO).

The exhibition The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris was curated by comedian, musician, actor and writer Steve Martin in collaboration with Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs at the Hammer Museum, and Andrew Hunter, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art at the AGO.

I have a lot of respect for this guy.

I have a lot of respect for this guy.

Yes, I too believe that while anyone can put brush to canvas, true artists are not created equal.  Sorry, but that’s what I really think.  The ones who really move you are guided by some other outside force.

An intimate portrait of the life and art of Lawren Harris, a founding member of the legendary Group of Seven, and the expansive landscapes that inspired him below.

WHERE THE UNIVERSE SINGS: The Spiritual Journey of Lawren Harris (trailer):

https://vimeo.com/192636801

And while writing this I decided that I’m going to attempt to create a painting of my very own.. on a whim with some friends….and some expert guidance….and some wine. It’s not until the end of this month.  It’s kind of on my revised bucket list and believe me, I’m not expecting to create something of “worth”…just somethin…somethin….do something that scares you….well….this is it.  I’m expecting that whatever it is, it will turn out to be pretty scary. However, according to my personal horoscope this month I have all of the cosmic mojo I need to accomplish—nay, excel at—anything I put my mind to.  A possible masterpiece??  You’ve got to believe!

 How about you?  Do you have a desire to paint?

Feel-good Friday: let the parties begin

Wow…can you believe we’re into December already?  There’s something festive in the air as we get ready for Christmas and the New Year.

It’s PARTY SEASON!

Santa Paws at Tisol, Vancouver. Jia Jia was good all year. Me; not so much!

Santa Paws at Tisol, Vancouver. Jia Jia was good all year. Me; not so much!

Jia Jia with friend Tammy Preast from

Jia Jia with friend Tammy Preast from “Love on a Leash” trusted dog care services – Vancouver. Photo: Malcolm Perry

I love this Phyllis Diller (remember her?) quote. “What I don’t like about office parties is looking for a job the next day.”  Good thing I don’t have a job!

Office parties are starting as early as November now as restaurants get booked up fast.  I started celebrating a month ago last night when six on my building council got together for a rowdy celebratory non-silent night for dinner and live jazz. And this time everyone behaved!  And there’s only more to follow including back-to-back get togethers with friends and neighbours, dance parties and another fundraising gala (more on that later).  Oh, and Stevie Nicks.  Okay, it’s not a dinner but she’s amazing…still.

It’s a time to be especially nice to people you otherwise ignore the rest of the year.  But all kidding aside, it can be a lonely time too for people without family, or the homeless, etc. And it’s a time to put aside rifts and nonsense and look at the good in people (because nobody is perfect).  It’s time to spread the CHEER!  lit1

I hope you have a Happy Holiday Season!  XO

Beautiful books for the beauty buff

The Best Fashion and Beauty Coffee-Table Books to Gift This Year

What do you get the artsy fashionistas and beauty buffs in your life? Consider one of these beautiful coffee-table books. There’s truly nothing like spending a rainy afternoon looking through a nice stack of hardcover tomes for your next style inspiration. Plus, not only does it spruce up your living room decor, it can also double as a great Instagram prop (add a vase of flowers and you’re in business). I narrowed it down to three personal choices below.

Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

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Coinciding with photographer Peter Lindbergh’s exhibition at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, this book features more than 400 images including striking portraits of iconic figures like Kate Moss and Tina Turner. Best known as the man who “invented” supermodels, you’ll also find shots of ’90s “It” girls like Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Tatjana Patitz frolicking in the beach or strutting down the streets of New York.

$69.99 (taschen.com)

Diverse Beauty by Alexi Lubomirskibooks3

Fashion photographer Alexi Lubomirski has shot multiple beautiful women in the world, including Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Natalie Portman. But it was after shooting actress Lupita Nyong’o that Lubomirski was struck by the homogeneity of the “looks” he’d been assigned to shoot professionally. “I realized how rare it was that I got to take pictures of beautiful African, Asian, Indian, or Latin women,” he writes in the introduction. In response, the photographer conceived Diverse Beauty (Damiani), which celebrates women including TSS survivor Lauren Wasser and transgender model Hari Nef. Even better, all proceeds from the book will be donated to Concern Worldwide, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing poverty in disaster-affected areas around the world.

$50 (amazon.com)

Grace: American Vogue Years by Grace Coddingtonbooks4

In January, the fashion world gasped in shock when Grace Coddington stepped down from her role as Vogue‘s creative director. The model-turned-editor has created some of the most memorable fashion shoots in collaboration with iconic photographers including Steven Meisel, Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, and David Sims. Following the success of Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue, this new release features nearly 300 photos from past 15 years, along with Coddington’s personal stories behind the shoots.

$175 (phaidon.com)

Source: Allure Magazine BY Seunghee Suh 

Style: the real price of cashmere

I’m not talking about the amount you paid for that gorgeous cashmere sweater.

You know if 007 wear it it must be fine.

What’s good enough for 007 is good enough for me.  In this photo he’s going to kill some cashmere intruders.

I’m talking about the lifelong commitment of keeping your cashmere moth free, pill free and looking fresh for as long as possible.  It’s a process that is time consuming but it’s worth it if you enjoy wearing this luxurious natural fabric. And who doesn’t?

Photo: Huffington Post

Photo: Huffington Post

A classic that an be dressed up or down

A classic that can be dressed up or down

cashmere1Last week when I put on one of my sweaters only to find several small holes and one fairly large hole I decided “no moths, no more!”  I will never use moth balls because they smell horrible.  My grandmother’s chest of drawers used to reek of them.  Even though they do the trick – NO way!  I roll my sweaters with pretty lavender sachets in a box containing cedar wood chips.   After this I went through my sweaters one by one and found another three that have holes.  So now I’m desperate. And through experience I know that if you’re lucky enough to find someone to mend them you might as well buy a new one because it’s expensive. So I called my friend Colleen because a) she has a lot of cashmere and b) I don’t have Martha Stewart’s phone number and this was the next best thing because c) she seems to know a lot about a lot and d) when she discovered that moths had eaten her favourite cashmere housecoat she called the moth exterminator people (she recommends Mat Neale  from *Pest Solutions in Vancouver) who sprayed her whole house with a non-toxic substance that killed those little suckers dead. Apparently they also have pheromone moth traps.

I didn’t want to do that so on her advice I spent a good portion of Sunday (and yes, I’m aware that there are far more pressing issues in the world and this is not the worst problem that someone can have) but this is my style post so we can be decadent taking care of this problem.

First I shook the sweaters outside just in case there were invisible hangers-on.  Then I turned them inside-out and put them in the dryer on HOT a few at a time for 20 minutes each round.  As long as the item is dry it will not shrink.  This will kill any possible larvae almost impossible to see.  It sounds gross I know.  Then after cooling I used a fuzz remover called “Gleener” on the ones which needed it and it worked like a charm.  In Canada you can find it at Canadian Tire.  Comes with three attachments for removal depending on the severity of the fuzz and the other end has a lint remover.  My new best friend!

Then I neatly folded each one and stuffed them into individual large zip-lock freezer bags.  Then…into the freezer they go for storage.  At this point if you don’t have a large freezer you may want to consider removing any frozen items to make room for your sweaters.  Or I recommend getting a second freezer for your sweaters. Or; don’t put stuff in the freezer at all…just your sweaters.  Then of course your warm cosy sweater will have to warm up before you wear it – this is what we go through in the name of  fashion comfort.

I wish there was an easier better way but I’m aware that the picky little buggers don’t like extreme weather conditions so doing it this way will eradicate the problem.

You know something else I noticed?  They have an appetite for quality wool, silk and very fine cotton.  NO; I’m not planning to refrigerate my whole closet!!

Not that everything in my closet is of the utmost finest but still….

What about leaving something out for bait?  Something like a t- shirt in a pima cotton, silk, wool, cashmere blend that will attract and take their attention away from anything they want to invade next.  Something that says “dinner is ready and it’s a smorgasbord of all your favourite food FABrics” and they can eat the whole goddamn thing for all I care as long as they stay away from all the rest.

Well it’s an idea.  Do you have a better one?

I think he's wearing cashmere but really...does it matter?

I think Ryan Reynolds is wearing cashmere but really…does it even matter?

I saw this at Coco's closet - LOVE! EQUIPMENT Shirley leopard-print silk and cashmere-blend sweater

Spotted at Coco’s closet in Vancouver, EQUIPMENT Shirley leopard-print silk and cashmere-blend sweater. LOVE!

 One that will never go out of style!

Your Welcome

Moths, they’re just like us – they appreciate the finer things in life!

*Pest Solutions: 604-986-8881

Food: Brasserie Bourride (Fish Stew)

Yesterday I posted about the dreamy dinner for two prepared at the Frick Museum by Michelin chef Daniel Rose of Le Coucou brasserie in New York.

The bourride, stewing.Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

The bourride, stewing. Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Rose, an intense young chef originally from Chicago, made his Michelin-approved reputation conjuring clean, seasonal recipes from the old French canon at a small Parisian establishment not far from the Louvre called Spring. For his New York debut, however, he has provided the kind of grand, ostentatious stage you rarely see anymore in this populist era of chef burgers and haute pork buns. The T-shaped space, on the ground floor of a downtown hotel called 11 Howard, is lit with rows of circular chandeliers that look like they’ve been heisted from one of the castles in Game of Thrones.

Below is his recipe for one of the Entrées he served up for he and his lucky wife:

Recipe: Bourride With Aïoli

Bourride in case you are not familiar is a provençale fish soup which is akin to a classic Mediterranean fish stew and which is much less complicated and expensive to make than bouillabaisse.

Phone: 212-271-4252

Source for Daniel Rose: NYmag.com

Art/Food: Dinner at the Frick

This is frickin amazing…

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. -Virginia Woolf

Daniel Rose and Marie-Aude, Styling by Diana Tsui. Suit, shirt, and shoes by Tom Ford. Dress by Ralph Lauren Collection. Shoes by Oscar de la Renta. Tablecloth by E. Braun & Co. Candelabras by Lynn Field at Bergdorf Goodman.Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Daniel Rose and Marie-Aude, Styling by Diana Tsui. Suit, shirt, and shoes by Tom Ford. Dress by Ralph Lauren Collection. Shoes by Oscar de la Renta. Tablecloth by E. Braun & Co. Candelabras by Lynn Field at Bergdorf Goodman.Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Inside Le Coucou Chef Daniel Rose’s Seafood Dinner for Two at the Frick

A feast for the senses! I mean what could make you feel better and be more romantic for a foodie/art lover than fine French dining inside a New York  Fine Art Museum among distinguished Old Master paintings while wearing designer duds. Nothing I say!

For this year’s Holiday Food special,  American cooks with French restaurants were sent into homes (and the Frick) to host relatively easy-to-replicate dinners.

It smells like France in here,” chef Daniel Rose says upon entering the Fragonard Room of the Frick Collection. It’s a welcome smell for the 39-year-old Chicago-born chef, who rose to fame in Paris for his tiny, seasonally focused restaurant Spring, and who decamped to New York with his family this past June to launch the grand, inventive brasserie Le Coucou. He was at The Frick recently to cook a romantic dinner for his wife, Marie-Aude, surrounded by the looming The Progress of Love panels, done by one of his favorite painters. (When he first arrived in Paris to study at the American University, he found himself at a Drouot auction at which he bought a “possible” Fragonard, cut from a larger painting, and had it cleaned and sold it for three times more.) For this intimate dinner (save for a crowd of security guards — the Frick has never allowed food to be consumed in this room before), Rose set out to design a menu that would allow him to spend more time eating and less time cooking: warm briny oysters with seaweed butter and oeuf norvégien (an artichoke heart topped with a soft-boiled egg and a creamy coating of crème fraîche with chives and enveloped in smoked salmon), followed by a bourride bursting with clams, mussels, large prawns, and black bass. As the two finished up their meal with a classic dense chocolate mousse and royale d’orange cookies, he said: “There’s no place I’d rather be than here.”

Culture/Art/Film: Landfill Harmonic

This is the best feel-good movie I’ve seen in a long time.

landfil2 I just watched it with my film buddy who I met at VIFF. landfil1This film is not about garbage, it’s about making the best of the junk that surrounds you.

The reason it’s uplifting is that it points out that no matter what your living conditions are like, through the power of hope and dreams you can build on becoming what you desire and we realize that music is that unifying force that binds all people.  It’s pretty powerful.  It’s actually a film on the power of music through very unusual circumstances.landfil5landfil4

These kids play everything from the BIG THREE (Mozart, Bach, Beethoven) to heavy metal (play heavy metal with heavy metal) favourites.

Land Fillharmonic was showcased last year at various film festivals but was recently re-released in many cinemas worldwide (you’ll have to check in your hometown).  If so, I highly recommend seeing it.  WATCH TRAILER:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCjbd21fYV8

Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical youth group who live next to one of South America’s largest landfills. This unlikely orchestra play music from instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. With the guidance of their music director, Favio Chávez (a most amazing man), they must navigate this new world of arenas and sold out concerts. However, when a natural disaster devastates their community, the orchestra provides a source of hope for the town.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king – one of the instruments taken in the lobby of VanCity Theatre Tuesday night.

Instruments Beyond Borders...harnessing the power of music to better children’s lives.  Many schools have now very unfortunately cut music from educational programs.  It’s good to give back.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

An entirely volunteer, charitable Society dedicated to delivering donated musical instruments and funds to music education programs in disadvantaged communities at home and abroad.  In Vancouver instrument donations can be made at Tapestry Music (3607 West Broadway).  Tax receipts for donated instruments are available upon evaluation.

Music heals the world.  So will recycling.