February Wishes

Here's to hoping February will be a little brighter and more sparkly than January! A few ideas to help you last til spring:

1. Blow a charming little kiss...
2. ...while wearing a pale coral lipstick (my staple is Nars in Casablanca).
3. Brush up on a classic book, like The Great Gatsby, and pretend you're actually a flapper.
4. Get bejeweled — more is more, especially against a simple black sweater.
5. Add a delicate bow. Just because you enjoy imported beer doesn't mean you're not a lady.

Also, since I clearly love to write lists, here's my first piece for Listicles! In the form of a list, no less.

[photo credit clockwise to 1 via Musings in Femininity, 2 and 3 via Patterson Maker4]

Pregnant in Paris

This weekend, my mom dug out a bunch of old photos from when she was pregnant with Lucy and me. They were so much fun to see. My parents had just moved from the U.S. to France, and they thought they were having just one baby (they didn't expect twins!). My mom described what the experience was like...

"When we moved to Paris, I was already pregnant and very excited," my mom told me. "We went to French restaurants every night and explored Paris and surrounding towns on the weekends. During the day while Dad worked, I would walk through Le Vésinet, a beautiful residential district, to St. Germain en Laye, where I would have tea and a croissant and write letters home. Some days I would go swimming at a public indoor pool on the way back. I had a fitted black maternity suit--very sexy and French! Once on the way home, I was craving a hamburger, so I stopped for lunch. It was delicious. As I left the cafe, I saw a poster with an outline of a horse, saying that the special of the day was hamburger a la cheval!"

"During my pregnancy, Daddy and I called the baby 'Freddie' and whenever we visited a gorgeous French cathedral--Notre Dame, Chartres--we would always light a candle for 'Freddie.' "

"In early January, I was eight months pregnant. My belly was quite big, and my doctor was worried that something might be wrong. Dad was on a business trip, so I went alone to the Hôpital Américain de Paris for a sonogram...

"I was lying on my back with the cold jelly on my belly and the technician said, 'Je vois un bébé.' I smiled, and he kept working. Then he said, 'Ooh la la! Je vois deux bébés.' I was stunned! Twins! He kept working and then he exclaimed, 'Mon dieu, je vois trois bébés!' Triplets! He was a bit flustered and wanted a second opinion so said he was going to get a doctor and left the room. I lay there thinking, 'Hmm. I only have two arms, but I am going to have three babies!' When the two doctors came back, they took another look and finally said, 'Madame, you are definitely having two babies only!' I thought, 'Only two! That'll be a cinch!' Later I wondered if they had worked some clever psychology on me..."

"When I left the hospital that afternoon, I was so excited. I passed a little shop and spotted this cute mouse doll with two mouse babies! I bought it, and when I met Dad at the airport the next day, I gave it to him. He was perplexed and just looked at it (Why was I giving him a stuffed mouse?). Then it dawned on him, 'Oh my gosh! Are you serious?' He was shocked but thrilled. The next week we lit candles at a church for 'the Freddies!' "

(Next I'd love to share a few from after we were born, if you'd like to see...:)

House Proud on The Nate Berkus Show

Last post about Nate Berkus, I promise! Thanks everyone for watching :)

Happy birthday, Lucy!

My twin sister Lucy and I turn a whopping 32 today (eeps)! I wish I could beam myself to San Francisco to buy her some carrot cake.

(Photo from our wedding by Max Wanger)

Importing T-Shirts

Dear Rich: My wife and I have a small importing business. We have recently acquired some t-shirts and are wondering how to react to possible copyright. We are building a website for all our other hand-made goods and are wondering if we can put the t-shirts on there for sale. Are we on the hook for the copyright or is this like reselling an item personally purchased (aka that the assumption is that the copyright was paid by the original seller)? It all depends if the shirts are infringing -- that is, whether the shirts were authorized by the copyright owner.  The first sale doctrine permits you to resell authorized merchandise without any hassles. So if you buy 100 t-shirts that were authorized by Disney, Lady Gaga, or the NFL, you can resell them, no problem. Because infringing shirts are not authorized, their resale is not permitted under the first sale doctrine. The same rule is true for importing in general. You can import non-infringing t-shirts, but you're prohibited from importing infringing ones. As for your website, copyright law (see Section 113c) permits you to post images of the copyrighted merchandise in connection with the sale.

Trent Hancock – Ghostbird [EP]

Trent Hancock – Ghostbird [EP]
2010, Trent Hancock
Trent Hancock picked up his life in San Diego and moved to Brooklyn after an inspirational tour through New York City.  Late of the musical duo Ghostbird, Hancock became enamored with the singer/songwriter scene in New York, and chose a new direction for himself musically.  His work caught the attention of producers of Mikal Blue and Andrew Williams (Colbie Callait/Five For Fighting), who invited him back to the west coast to develop the sound.  The resulting EP, also entitled Ghostbird, shows off Hancock’s new sound.
Hancock sets off on a bland pop note with “Falling Faster”.  The song has an A/C friendly sound; airy but a bit too much like too many other things on pop radio to stand out.  “Me And You” is a step in the right direction, showing off a winning melody and Hancock’s exceedingly pleasant voice.  This is mildly catchy pop music with commercial legs.  “Lost My Way” is solid, easy-listening pop music about getting caught in a bad romance.  This one isn’t going to climb charts, but would sit very nicely as an ad-in on a TV or movie soundtrack.  “Strong Hands” explores his own inability to protect someone who has been physically abused.  He talks about the things he’s done to try to help but she just shies away.  The low key musical approach here is perfect.  “Zale” is a sonically appealing creation full of outstanding guitar work and brilliant vocal harmonies.  Hancock closes off Ghostbird with the title track.  “Ghostbird” sounds like a grand musical theme; wanting to be bigger than it is.  There is a lonely beauty to this song that creeps on you and stays around long after the final note has sounded.
Trent Hancock takes an ambitious pop turn on Ghostbird.  The EP starts slow, but builds in beauty and complexity as it progresses.  Trent Hancock certainly seems to be onto something here, possessing a delightful pop sensibility delivered in low key arrangements that mine beauty from everyday observations cast in varying tones of light.  Ghostbird won’t overwhelm you on the first listen, but with each successive spin, Trent Hancock draws you in a little further.  This is definitely an EP worth spending some time with.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Trent Hancock at www.trenthancock.com or www.facebook.com.trenthancockmusic.  Ghostbird [EP] is available as a CD through Trent Hancock's webstore.  If digital is your thing, the album is also available via iTunes.

Morning Light

In my bedroom at home, I have huge, arching windows that face east. I feel unbelievably spoiled and luxurious when I'm woken by the soft rays of the sun...until those soft rays turn into a heat lamp and before I know it, it's 7:45 AM and I'm sweating like a pig who knows he's dinner. Still, my bedroom windows here in Chicago face west, which means I no longer enjoy the pale glow of morning light. It's the happiest sort of light — it promises sunshine and clear skies, a perfect setting for a lovely day. It's just the thing to make a calm, bright Monday morning.

I spent my weekend bonding with old friends over pints of Stella, ice skating by Lake Michigan, and babysitting my friend's new kitten, Pants. Pants drove me a little crazy. He woke me up by meowing and continuously barreling into my door. I fed him. He kept meowing. I let him into my room, where he took my spot on the bed and proceeded to assault my teddy bear. Did I say teddy bear? I meant pillow. I finally had to put him back in the hallway once he began to claw my comforter. From time to time, he'd sit outside my door and positively holler until I put down my homework and went to play with him, at which point he'd gnaw on my ankles and try to pull down my jeans with his deceptively small claws. Luckily for Pants, he's super adorable. This is what he looks like when he's too sleepy to drive me out of my wits (I could've woken him up for a better picture, but I didn't dare do such a thing):

Totally redeems the 6:30 AM wake-up call he gave me. So tell me, how was your weekend?

P.S. I don't own the furry pink chair in the picture. I swear. Pinky promise.

[photo cred clockwise to 1 via That Kind of Woman, 2 via Patterson Maker, Mario Testino for Vanity Fair April 2004 via Everly True]  

Buson: Winter Rain



Distant rain, Ocean Beach, San Francisco: photo by Mila Zinkova, January 2006

The evenings of the ancients
Were like mine,
This evening of cold rain.

File:Rain in Kolkata.jpg

Rain falling on the streets of Kolkata: photo by Monster eagle, 2007

The winter rain
Shows what is before our eyes
As though it were long ago.


Evening rain at Azuma Shrine
: Andō Hiroshige, from the series
Eight views in the environs of Edo, between 1827-1840 (Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

This post dedicated to Don Wentworth

The evenings of the ancients / The winter rain
: Yosa Buson (1716-1783), translated by Reginald Horace Blyth

Over The Rhine – The Long Surrender

Over The Rhine – The Long Surrender
2011, Great Speckled Dog/Over The Rhine
It’s been twenty years since Over The Rhine took their first steps toward becoming darling of the alt-folk scene.  What started out as a quarter has been whittled down to husband and wife team Linford Detweiler (piano/guitar/bass) and Karin Berqquist (vocals/guitar).  While the sense of ambience present on albums such as Till We Have Faces (1991), Good Dog, Bad Dog (2000) and Ohio (2003) may have faded some with the passage of time, Over The Rhine’s new album The Long Surrender  displays an intimate and integral sound that is compelling.  The Long Surrender will be available of February 8, 2011.
The Long Surrender opens with “The Sharpest Blade”, a slowly meandering folk/rock recitative with mid torch qualities.  Gorgeous, sorrowful and heartfelt, Berqquist makes the most of the vocal line.  It’s a stunning beginning.  “Rave On” has a quiet, impassioned urgency.  Berqquist is at her most emotive in a song with a timeless feel.  There’s a sense of a universal theme here that’s perhaps just beyond the listener’s reach; unchangeable in form but vibrant in force.  “Soon” is deeply melancholy, perhaps even morbidly blue.  The darkness of the arrangement and Berqquist’s voice is fascinating.  “Undamned” is a gorgeous oil painting in music pondering the saving grace of love.  Written from the perspective of a lost, broken soul suddenly wrapped in, and saved by love, the realization dawns on her that she is worth saving.  The unmistakable mark of humanity here is vibrant and tangible.
“Infamous Love Song” is pure torch; a love song of broken souls.  Detweiler and Berqquist have composed a mini masterpiece here; you nearly see the speakeasy coalesce around you as Over The Rhine begin to play, and sense the waves of sorrow and desperation wafting forth from the patrons therein.  The song is amazing: needful and powerful and full of a lonely grace that will refuse to let you go.  “Oh Yeah By The Way” explores the words left unsaid after heartbreak sets in.  This one’s a vocal duet, and captures the love, pain and regret in a stellar bit of songwriting that is likewise unforgettable.  “The King Knows How” is a stylish, bluesy number with a sultry feel that drops references to Elvis Presley and Hank Williams.  The song is a bit opaque perhaps, but is entertaining with a sense of surreal sensuality. 
“There’s A Bluebird In My Heart goes back to the bluesy torch sound, perhaps not quite as successfully as before.  Berqquist continues to excel on the vocal lines, but something about this one doesn’t quite click.  “Days Like This” is more ambient in nature, a dreamy folk/pop number that’s ethereally pretty.  “All My Favorite People” opens with what might be the best opening line to a pop song ever.  “All my favorite people are broken…” launches an exploration of the beauty of the shades of grey that envelope our lives over time.  The depth and maturity of the songwriting here is nothing less than stunning, and Berqquist shows a depth and presence the likes of which are generally the mark of a consummate performer.  Detweiler also shows off with a healthy dose of Ray Charles-style piano licks.  The Long Surrender closes with “Unspoken” is a brief piano-based instrumental epilogue with country accoutrements.    Saxophone takes the lead on the melody line in a pretty closer that sounds like the end credits to a film.
Over The Rhine just keeps getting better with time, and The Long Surrender is their most intimate and compelling work to date.  Karin Berqquist could sing the Cleveland phone book in the middle of Times Square and draw an audience, and Linford Detweiler shows an almost preternatural ability to build arrangements that fit her voice perfectly.  There are a couple of slow moments on The Long Surrender, but on balance it’s hard to imagine The Long Surrender not ending up on a number of year-end lists for 2011.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Over The Rhine at www.overtherhine.com or www.myspace.com/overtherhine.  The Long Surrender drops on February 8, 2011.  The album can be pre-ordered from Amazon as a CD, on Vinyl or as a Download.

Marie Glad – Bedroom Stories, Part One

Marie Glad – Bedroom Stories, Part One
2010, Royal Sister
Marie Glad is a Swedish singer, songwriter, visual artist, designer, film maker and yoga instructor.  That’s enough vocations to prove a point of some sort.  As a singer/songwriter Glad  saw moderate success with her 2009 debut album Rescue Me.  She returned in 2010 with a four-song EP entitled Bedroom Stories, Part One.  The EP is full of bland, fluffy pop music that’s easily convertible to the dance scene with the appropriate remixes.  Glad has a nice enough voice, but the material presented here is the musical equivalent of empty calories.  The peak of the EP comes on the last track, a second version of the song “Butterfly” featuring Duvestar.  Duvestar is a partnership between Glad and Irish DJ/producer Oisin Lunny (U2, Gangstarr, Sinead O’Connor).  There are points of promise here, but little is truly realized.
Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Marie Glad at www.marieglad.com or www.myspace.com/marieglad.  Bedroom Stories, Part is available digitally from Amazon.com and iTunes.

My Date With Nate

My appearance on the Nate Berkus show is airing THIS MONDAY (Jan.31st!). Oh my.


A quick little recap of our NYC adventure with Nate...

10:00AM - Consult Urbanspoon and decide on delish breakfast at Sarabeth's. Follow it up with a brisk walk to Central Park to burn off some nervous energy.

12:00PM - Bye bye Lucerne Hotel & hello CBS studios!

12:30PM - WHOA, my own green room (that isn't really green)

1:15PM - hair & makeup, and a run-through with the panelled wall mockup. Two minutes after this photo was taken, I almost spilled an entire bottle of carpenter's glue on my shoe!! Yikes!

3:30PM - waiting, waiting, waiting and then it was showtime! Sorry, no photos in studio. You'll have to watch and see how it turned out!

4:15PM - All done and packed up - but stop for one more quick photo with "Nate"... the fake Nate that appeared on the show too :). Bye CBS studios!

9:00AM - up bright and early and head to our favourite store, Fishs Eddy. Stop into Eataly and admire the pretty packaging.

11:00AM - check out ABC Carpet & Home. Love the herringbone floors. Hmm, that wood frame around the wallpaper in the Barbara Barry display has me inspired to do something similar in my own home...

12:00PM - meet up with one of my favourite bloggers, Mrs. Limestone! And yes, she is just as lovely and humble in person as she appears on the blog.

4:00PM - So long New York! We had a fabulous time!!

CLA's 28th Annual Music Seminar (Resources)

Attendees, here are the resources mentioned at my talk:
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Simple Trademark Search
Register a Song Copyright Using Form CO
Trademark (TTAB) Decisions
U.S. Copyright Office
Form CO
Harry Fox
Simple Photo Release for Use at Website
Stanford Fair Use Site

In Bill's Backyard, Bolinas



Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951): publicity photo depicting amusement park scene (image by Harrington Smith, 2010)

Now light streams through the trees of the dream.
Dead friends idly amble through the arches
The green bower makes over our heads;
In Bill's backyard -- framed for this flashback
To the days before, or perhaps during, the Flood --
Things are, as in a kind of moonlit masque
Lit up at night like the carnival scene
In Strangers on a Train; yet strangers
There are none, only friends; summer fog coming in
On the marine layer clockwork shuttle
Over the populous village in the dream;
Sea, hill, wood, numberless goings on;
Off in the distance beyond Elm somewhere,
Off beyond Ocean Parkway in the mists,
A whistle buoy intermittent; blue reedy
Spiritual openness of Eric
Dolphy floating from inside the humble shack
Taking shape as words, a cool
Geometrical language; then cloudy faces
Tossed up on the cresting waves
Beyond the reef, in the dream: ghosts
Waving, not drowning. So let's make this stroll
Through the underworld last.

File:Strangers on a Train - Bruno on boat.png

Into the gloom of the Tunnel of Love on a boat named after Pluto, god of the underworld: screen shot from dvd trailer for Strangers on a Train (image by Yworo 2010)

Have a fun weekend.

My lovelies, what are you doing this weekend? Alex and I are going to Upright Citizen's Brigade to see some improv comedy. Amy Poehler sometimes performs, I'm crossing my fingers! Meanwhile, Toby's new thing is to sit around holding his feet, like this guy. :) Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and thank you again for all your sweetness this week. Here are a few great posts from around the web... xoxo

Like every other blogger, I'm swooning over Steven Alan's spring lookbook.

Puppy love.

French striped baby pajamas.

Iceland wanderlust.

Grilling a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich? Why didn't we think of that sooner!

Bubbles around the world.

Vintage scribble dress.

Yummy, the Minimalist's 25 favorite recipes.

These make me want to play tennis or smoke.

Cutest duck booties.

Plus, a cute video about finding a roll of film in Brooklyn. (Thanks, tvmom)

P.S. Many lovely readers email me for advice on magazine writing or blogging or starting a business, and I'd love to recommend Oh Joy's services. Joy is warm and wonderful (as you probably know from her blog) and can offer genius expert advice on branding your business or growing your career. I'd definitely recommend her if you'd like a little guidance! xoxo

(Photo credit unknown)

Friday giveaway!

Today's giveaway is from Nell's Compass, an amazing candle company run by a mother-and-daughter team in California. I love how the beautiful scents of their soy candles were inspired by their favorite places: South takes you to an aunt's flower garden; East transports you to an Italian hillside orchard, West is a masculine candle inspired by the great outdoors, and North is romantic for the winter, as if you're cuddling by a roaring fire. Alex and I were lucky enough to get these candles as a Christmas gift and love them; the scents are pitch-perfect and truly transporting, and they make the whole apartment feel cozy.

One winner will receive a full collection of Nell's Compass candles ($140 value). For a chance to win, please visit the Nell's Compass website and online store, and leave a comment below. Good luck, my sweets!

Update: Jacqueline B. is our lucky winner. Thanks for playing. xo

Two pretty things

Oh, my darlings, thank you for all the sweet, sweet comments yesterday. A big kiss to you all! I don't know what I'd do without you. :) On a cheerier note, have you seen J. Crew's spring line? I'd love to nab that dress on the right for springtime picnics...
And wouldn't you like to curl up in this super rad bed? The headboard is made of solid walnut. Stunning.

Hope you're having a good day and have some fun plans for the weekend! xo

Interior Design Show / IDS11

Its been a busy week here for Rambling Renovators! Its the Toronto International Design Festival which means all the biggest and best events in design are happening this week. The week culminates with the Interior Design Show which opened last night with quite the gala event. Along with a few other bloggers and media, I had the privilege of seeing the IDS show floor a mere 24 hours before opening night.

We started off our tour all smiles in our dorky hardhats. (Notice the always stylish Arren Williams in his orange Hermes helmet). That's Shauny Levy, director of the Interior Design Show beside Arren, who conducted the tour. We got a peek at the Sarah Richardson designed Panton chair that was going up for auction last night. Sarah had the chair shuttled around the city to get it signed by many celebrity personalities. Then we headed to the show floor - and let me tell you, it was pure chaos! I didn't know if they were going to pull it off.

76,000 hours + 9000 cups of coffee + 3000 steel toe boots + 1200 gallons of paint + 3 football fields of storage + 56 people laying carpet by hand. Those are just some of the numbers behind putting an event of this magnitude together.

We saw some beautiful installations in progress, like these stunning brass pendants at the Snob booth and the always inspiring lighting at Ikea.

The Miele folks showed off their new dishwashers which feature an auto-open feature that helps to dry the dishes, and their new multi-function steam convection oven. The ovens are in this shiny white exterior - apparently, shiny white kitchens are all the rage in Europe and are making their way here.

The highlight of the tour was the Sibling Revelry spaces created by pairs of designery siblings. Glenn Dixon and his fashion designer brother David were inspired by the book "Sadaku and the 1000 paper cranes" and created a dreamy space. I loved all the moulding and trimwork, which for a temporary installation was quite well done.

The Brothers Dressler created a giant room of glass. The exterior was made from reclaimed windows, all of which would be reused in other projects after the show.

And then of course, there was the spectacular space created by Sarah Richardson and her brother Theo. It was a standout. Each room was designed to showcase a product made by Theo, a partner in design studio Rich Brilliant Willing.

My favourites were the In The Right Light pendant lights and the Appalachian Chair featured in the dining room. Evocative of rowdy family gatherings around the dining table, the room blended modern and vintage features. I loved the brushed metal cupboard, the striking subway art, the Ikea dishes and bottles, and the mixed chairs all painted in the same warm cherry red.

At the gala last night, I was able to see how it all came together. I posted a few pics on my facebook page but do encourage you to come to the Interior Design Show this weekend and see for yourself!