Archive for April, 2014

Love Sonnets to Laura

Posted by Winifred on April 29th, 2014  •  No Comments »

image

It was the day the sun’s ray had
Turned pale
With pity for the suffering of his Maker
When I was caught, and I put up no
Fight,
My lady, for your lovely eyes had
Bound me.

It seemed no time to be on guard
Against
Love’s blows; therefore, I went my way
Secure and fearless – so, all my
Misfortunes
Began in midst of universal woe.

Love found me all disarmed and found
The way
Was clear to reach my heart down
Through the eyes
Which have become the halls and
Doors of tears

It seems to me it did him little honour
To wound me with his arrow in my state
and to you, armed, not show his bow
At all.

Francesco Petrarca (July 20, 1304 – July 19, 1374)

Image Via Noupe

Posted in : A Taste Refined, Dimensions  •  Tags: , , , , , , , ,

How we came to love the hat….

Posted by Winifred on April 28th, 2014  •  No Comments »

image

It seems timely to go over what it means for a little girl to discover her first role model and how the very existence thereof forever informs her life…

We were probably 7, maybe 8. Born and raised in the Netherlands, we also lived in Spain and then spent several years in Suriname, where our parents were born. After Suriname, we returned to the Netherlands. It was still an innocent time, few outside influences, a culture of little television, few magazines and we were too young for peer pressure. No outside world telling you you weren’t good enough. In fact, in our house, being an outsider was what we celebrated. Our parents spoke Surinaams, we ate Surinaams, we adhered to our culture of respect for elders, family values, entertaining big and celebrating big. Oen mek presirie, always. Dutch culture was for us often a bit of a joke. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be Surinaams, even as we recognized the greater opportunities for education and earnings potential of Holland.

Then, already cocooned by our Surinaams family, we allowed one snippet of influence to come into our home. That snippet was our first glimpse of Miss Diana Ross on Dutch Television. At that time, it took quite a while for American imports to reach Europe. We had never heard of ‘Mahogany,’ and were too young to know the Supremes. So our first introduction to Miss Diana Ross was in the much later part of her career. There she was, thin, brown, with big eyes and big hair. She was beautiful, she was famous, she was glamorous, she was rich. She was a big star and everybody loved her. And she looked like us. And in that instant we were programmed. To be thin, brown, have big eyes and big hair was the ultimate in beauty, fame and possibilities. We would never want to be anything else, but what we were: the Surinaams version of that very image.

It seems so timely to share this now, as we notice how often attempts are made to shake that programming. Whether in the media, or sometimes closer to home. And we feel bad for the many people impacted, young girls especially. It reminds us how lucky we are to have received the gift of Miss Ross, but also of our parents. First, the gift of parents who gave us so solid a foundation and connection to our roots that in a time when the Netherlands was not so multicultural, we never questioned the richness of who we were. And second, that before society was able to work on us, in came Miss Ross to forever sear in our minds, an image of beauty, glamour, elegance and style that ’till this day continues to inform, inspire and guide us.

When asked how she manages the negativity of the press, Venus Williams responded that she had from her birth been brainwashed by parents who only told her she was amazing and could achieve anything she wanted. She has no ability to think anything else. We could not be more grateful for being brainwashed…

Vintage

Image Via Villagevoice

Posted in : Beauty Refined, Head wear, In an Ideal World..., We digress  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The face of Gene Tierney in ‘Laura’

Posted by Winifred on April 25th, 2014  •  No Comments »

We do remember that face from Leave Her to Heaven and The Razor’s Edge, but the face was even more incredible in Laura.

image

That face belongs to Gene Tierney, and while make-up and lighting are always masterful in Films Noir, this face was that and more.

image

We do credit Guy Pearce with creating tricks of eyeliner that elongate the shape of the eye, and placing highlighter on the inner corners gives brightness and definition as well. Using eyeliner under the eye to give the illusion of shadows from the lashes – Tierney gave a devastating eye.

image

Then there were those lashes, impossibly thin long peaks of lash, so long they covered her lower lid yet seemed almost not there. They had a way of brightening the eyes, making them pop right open. Llama eyes without the heavy llama lash. What’s stunning about the photography of that time, is that even in black and white you see color. You feel certain that you are seeing green in those eyes, that blueish green of Mediterranean waters.

image

The look is so fresh, so bright, so completely focused on shaping the face, widening the eyes, bright sparkling, piercing eyes, a small straight nose, not a button exactly, but shapeless. Unnoticed with those eyes, because the next thing your eye does, is travel to Gene’s mouth.

image

We are more than a fan of a defined lip, we demand it. We rarely see a beautiful mouth. A nice lip, lovely colors, yes, all the time. But Guy Pearce really elevated this already shapely lip; more than just a swipe of lipstick, this is art, a signature shape, defined to frame the face…These lips are more rare. We see a commitment to shape, to architectural lines of the face, drawn with specificity, perhaps with concealer, drawing out, the essence of her.

We see in our future a project: the search for an artist who can capture our face, the best of our eyes, nose and mouth, the defining lines, the creation of our signature…

Images Via Pinterest

Posted in : Classic Films  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Isabella or The Pot of Basil

Posted by Winifred on April 23rd, 2014  •  No Comments »

Though we are disturbingly late in acknowledging April as National Poetry Month there are many favorites we would love to share. It seems fitting to start with this one – an excerpt from the first poem we shared with Mr. K…

image

‘Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,
‘Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,
‘And I must taste the blossoms that unfold
‘In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time.’
So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,
And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:
Great bliss was with them, and great happiness
Grew, like a lusty flower in June’s caress.

~John Keats (1795-1821)

image

Posted in : Dimensions  •  Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cosmos: The Glamour of Science…

Posted by Winifred on April 21st, 2014  •  No Comments »

image

In our prior life, we had once upon a time majored in Mathematics in college, receiving one of two degrees therein. We were never what one might call a nerd (not outwardly anyway) but we do find ourselves excited by numbers and certain technical feats like architecture. We could wax poetic about the building of the Birdsnest stadium in Beijing by Herzog & de Meuron. So when we heard that Seth Macfarlane had remade the 1980 Carl Sagan series Cosmos, we were more than a little curious. Last night’s episode had us quite giddy, we thought we should share.

First, can we say kudos to Neil deGrasse Tyson for hosting this show and for the little anecdote he shared about meeting Carl Sagan. He talked about being a young kid interested in science who got to spend an afternoon with Carl Sagan, and was transformed to set out on the path to become an astrophysicist and the Director of the Hayden Planetarium. His enthusiasm for science is infectious and he gives us back that awe of being, of living in this amazing space, as well admiration for people like him, who have given their lives to the research and discovery of the cosmos and how it all came to be.

Last night Neil taught us that the age of Earth was only established in 1953 by Clair Patterson, a geochemist with the California Institute of Technology. He did this through measuring lead in meteorite particles called zircon. He established that earth was 4.6 billion years old. But then we get into an even more interesting story. The story of lead.

Ancient Romans had used lead in pipes to carry water, to line their baths and cooking vats and many other things even while they knew it to be poisonous and cause brain damage, violent behavior and death. This did not keep them from using lead as those who were in closest contact with it, the builders, the slaves, were not deemed important enough to keep safe from its harms. America in the 1950s worked much the same way. Leaded gasoline was known to cause deaths and to be especially harmful in children, yet the factory workers who most closely handled it were not seen as valuable enough by the oil industry to potentially stem their profits.

But as Clair Patterson learned the age of Earth through lead his research also showed that contrary to what we had been told, high concentrations of lead in the environment were a recent phenomenon and thus not a natural occurrence. In fact the oceans and our cities everywhere were being poisoned through the use of leaded gasoline. For 20 years he battled to have lead banned in products like paint and toys and of course gasoline. It is because of Clair Patterson that the levels of lead found in children dropped by 75%.

We love this unexpected and little known story, we love this series, we love that science is being presented in such a glamorous way – the pictures and special effects are not just exciting for kids. We love a chance to get back to our own curiosity. We look forward to sharing more…

Image Via National Geographic TV

Posted in : Dimensions  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mogambo or Red Dust?

Posted by Winifred on April 18th, 2014  •  No Comments »

image

We watched Mogambo, 1953, because we were interested in more of Clark Gable’s work and also Ava Gardner’s. Of course we are always a bit hesitant to watch any film shot in Africa knowing that the storyline will be unflattering to natives. There was plenty of ordering natives about, throwing towels at them, unflattering speak behind their backs. Once we accepted that as part of the trial we would have to go through, we settled in for the story. A love triangle set in Africa, with Clark Gable in the lead as a game hunter, and Ava Gardner as a showgirl looking to meet a rich maharajah who did not show. That part of the story seemed to us a bit flimsy, and we actually read it as her looking for an excuse to escape somewhere, not that there really had been any setting of a meeting.

Given how quickly she then started a relationship with Gable, this seemed all the more so. After a few days of frolicking in the wild, a third party enters the scene. Grace Kelly and her husband, who want to film gorillas. Gable then falls for Kelly while taking care of her husband who conveniently falls ill. By the time he recovers, Kelly and Gable are mad for each other and Gardner is the woman scorned left to take it all in.

We did like Gardner with Gable, but her sad pining quickly wore thin next to Kelly’s grace. More and more she looked used up with nothing left to offer, and Kelly though not giving her greatest performance still resonated as the better choice. What we did not know is that Mogambo is a remake of Red Dust from 1932. We watched Red Dust after and were surprised we liked it better. Red Dust also starred Gable, 21 years younger and not much better, we were pleased to say. This time Jean Harlow is a prostitute on the run and Mary Astor the wife of a new employee. The location Indo China, the setting a rubber plantation.

image

Harlow’s role was considered much racier than Gardner’s, primarily because, as was mostly the case for a Harlow role, her breasts were not confined to a bra and she was consistently jiggling and bending about in flouncy, low cut dresses. There was also a bit more heat between she and Gable as he went, in a flash, from high levels of irritation to presumptuous and forward. But what made it fun was Harlow’s character; rather than being sad and forlorn she was also gutsy, playful and wild. In a cute scene she is bathing in an outdoor shower when Gable asks her to use the curtain so as not to offend Astor. Harlow then jumps in a barrel and finishes bathing there just as Astor comes out and sees them.

Though Red Dust has the same colonialist racism, with plenty of unflattering depictions of Asians, what made it better was that it had none of the bad discrepancies of Mogambo which struggled to combine clear set footage of the actors with raw documentary footage of African wildlife. Some of it so blatant as to appear cartoonish.

Both stories could have benefited from a better ending. Gable, after feeling some guilt over breaking up a marriage, decides to make his lover believe that he does not want her and wants her to go back to her husband. After sending off husband and wife, he then turns to his discards, now wanting them back. That disappointed a bit, particularly for Harlow who would seem far too brassy to accept second best. Even Gardner would not seem the kind to take him back, simply for the long suffering she was made to endure.

Neither movie tops any lists, but Magambo was particularly dry and slow where Red Dust offered levity and more sparks. If you must watch one, we enjoy Mary Astor and Jean Harlow’s breasts do entertain. A young, oft shouting Clark Gable works well, and frankly, difficult as it already is to watch classic films, the disrespect heaped upon the Southeast Asians hurt a bit less. Sorry…

Images Via Wooden boat, Doctormacro

Posted in : Classic Films  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Port Wine, organ meats, good health and good eats…

Posted by Winifred on April 16th, 2014  •  2 Comments »

image

We love it when a number of circumstances collide to create one beautiful and delicious event which also serves more than one purpose. That was quite a lot of words to simple say that from chicken liver pate, we now have three things to gain. An infusion of Vitamin D, a deserving use of our Port wine and a midday snack that keeps us away from other sins such as peppermint oreo cookies…We have known for some time now that Vitamin D, best received by sunlight is not only good for you but a necessary nutrient. (Why do you think Surinamers living in the Netherlands run back to retire in Suriname and start to really enjoy their lives? We can always weave in a little something about Suriname, just when you think there is no relevance…) It is said to help with the absorption of other nutrients, prevent all manner of inflammation, aid bone density and most recently thought to prevent disease. Though better received through direct sunlight, Vitamin D is present in some foods, one of which is organ meats.

Then there is the matter of port wine, something we mostly drink in restaurants only on the very right occasions, mainly in the company of wine enthusiasts, but is sometimes called for in recipes for dessert. This is how a bottle of port came to spend two years on our bar shelves without being savored and enjoyed the way it could have been. News of Vitamin D in organ meats and a dusty bottle of port then combined with the discovery of a most wonderfully simple NYTimes recipe for chicken liver pate giving us reasons to celebrate! No longer would port go to waste with us, but there would be health benefits to be gained and even we could handle making what is now our favorite thing to eat. And yes there is much butter, embrace it, that too is better for you than previously believed. We are running off to make toast now…

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 pint fresh chicken livers, approximately 1 pound, trimmed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/3 cup Madeira or port
3 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more as needed
Kosher salt to taste
PREPARATION

1.
Put a large, heavy sauté pan over medium heat, and melt 4 tablespoons of the butter until it begins to foam. Add the shallots, and sauté them until translucent, being careful not to allow them to brown. Add the livers, thyme and Madeira or port, and bring the heat to high. Cook, occasionally stirring the livers around in the pan with a spoon, until the wine has reduced and the livers are lightly browned but still very soft and pink on the inside, approximately 5 minutes.
2.
Remove the pan from the stove, and put its contents into a blender or food processor, along with the cream and the remaining butter. Purée until smooth, adding a little more cream if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt if necessary.
3.
Pack the pâté into a glass jar or bowl, then smooth the top with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about two hours or up to five days. Serve with copious amounts of toast.

Via NYTimes

Posted in : A Taste Refined  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Mad Men,’ the premier of season 7

Posted by Winifred on April 14th, 2014  •  No Comments »

image

With a Fantasia cigarette (yellow) in our right hand, Bourbon in our left, we were promptly seated at 10pm EST for the final season of Mad Men. Hearing that music come on and seeing the outline of Don Draper seated, right arm over the back of the couch, cigarette in hand, it felt like coming home. What a wait! How do they get away with it, having us eager and still hungry after a year long absence?

The first episodes often leave us wanting; there are always a lot of questions which sometimes take the entire season to have answered. But then there is always enough to keep you attuned for more. We don’t overanalyze plots and twists, we settle in for a smooth ride through the 60s, doing our best to tune out the unsettling things. We suppose it’s best to get those out of the way first, especially because it has nagged at us for sometime.

As we mentioned in a prior blog, ‘An early 20th century lover’s lament,’ it is always difficult to stay completely focused on the charms of the 20th century without flinching at its ugliness. Naturally, in a show that strives to be fanatically accurate to the times, Mad Men’s story lines for its black characters are less than desirable. On the one hand, it was an unpleasant time and thus the realities of that must be reflected. On the other hand, the writing on this show is extremely clever and if Matthew Weiner was truly interested he could do exactly what he does for the other women on the show, celebrate their victories, even in a climate of oppression.

Instead, one is always left with the feeling that the writer is bitter for having to succumb to pressure to diversify the show and has decided to make us pay for that in every way. A clear example of his bitterness would have to be the older black woman stealing from Don’s children in Episode 8, last season. We had to choose not to give this the power to ruin the show’s deliciousness for us.

Thus more important is Roger waking up in the middle of an orgy that one can certainly imagine him falling into, but can’t believe he would return to. We hope he moves on quickly, it’s a scene we only want him to dip a toe into – not even a foot. For Peggy we continue to ache as she finally allows herself to feel her own devastation over Ted leaving, by sinking to the floor in tears.

It was a full 9 minutes before we even saw Don. That permanent scowl of disapproval and detachment making us only want to draw nearer. Matthew Weiner talked about the authenticity of Jon Hamm’s portrayal, due to his own experiences with darkness. Perhaps this is what was missing from Ike Evans in Magic City. You never truly felt you were looking at a man weighed down by his descend into darkness. Don leaves no doubt…

We fawned, we gushed, we adored the visual of Megan jumping out of her sports car to pick Don up. We love that we just saw her mod style dress turn up at bridal designer Madeleine Fig. But then we just returned to our usual scorn for her as the replacement for the icy cool perfection that is Betty Draper. (Were we the only ones who fully approved of Don’s affair with the neighbor?) What did please us was finally an addressing of the elephant in the room, by Megan’s agent, her teeth! How long were we going to act as if it made sense for Don to have married someone with such teeth?? Yes! They need to be fixed for us to buy her career as an actress, and Don should already have done so!

image

Joan had a moment of betrayal last season, but she mostly makes us swell with pride. Her cool deflection during a reluctant meeting with Butler Footwear, then strengthening her position by educating herself. She amazes us every time, she reminds us of what matters. Always your own belief in your self…Her briefcase in white leather a style statement!

image

Nev Campbell looks great in the 60s! What a surprise to see her board Don’s plane and take the seat next to him. It would have been too predictable for them to run off together, we suppose, but part of us was kinda for it. We need to consider a replica of her chunky gorgeous necklace for Summer.

Things are a mess, Don and Roger are clearly lost and out of place where they are trying to land. We need them both back at the office, Roger staying in an elegant hotel, no more trips for Don to Megan’s hippie nest in the hills. We prefer their debauchery to unfold from the solid base of the office…

Posted in : Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , ,

On Vampire Facials & real treats for the skin…

Posted by Winifred on April 9th, 2014  •  No Comments »

image

We had the best time talking bridal beauty with our friend Dana Butler of Days Desk the other day! After attending the International Beauty Show we couldn’t wait to sit down and go over our experiences with an audience of soon to be beautiful brides. Take a listen as we fawn over some of our favorite brands and hash it out over Restylane, vampire facials and how soon a girl ought to become a regular at the Medi Spa.

http://tobtr.com/s/6098063

A curious caller also asked about the Vampire Facial, a procedure in which the body’s own platelet rich plasma (PRP) is drawn then, first applied topically to the skin followed by aeration of the skin with a DermaPen. The Dermapen perforates the skin with near microscopic holes, which allows for a deeper delivery of the plasma. The growth factors in the PRP are said to re-energize cells to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while improving the skin’s tone and texture. Following the DermaPen a second layer of PRP is applied allowing for maximum benefit.

image

A cursory glance at different news outlets leads us to still stand by our hesitation with this procedure. When asked by CBS News if she approved of the procedure, New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Michele Green said, “it makes no clinical sense that this would help at all, I think it’s literally crazy.” To prevent skin aging, she points out “people can wear sunscreen and reduce their time in the sun, eat a healthy diet or use moisturizing products.” She adds that $2,000 could purchase other more widely used laser and chemical skin rejuvenation treatments, or injections of FDA-approved products such as Botox, Restylane and Sculptra. “Lots of things you can do to turn back the clock instead of putting blood in your face,” she said.

We couldn’t agree more, especially as it pertains to blindly following each new fad and constantly attacking the skin with more and more radical and invasive procedures. We felt especially vindicated when even Dr. Brandt, a visible proponent of injectables, peels and lifting told the New York Times, “there is a tendency among Hollywood stars and countless others increasingly plagued by the cultural obsession with youth and beauty, to cut too soon, to overfill, to go too far. When there’s too much pulling, too many procedures, you lose the softness along with the personality of the face, its old familiar landmarks.”

To our caller who we feel certain looks as lovely as she sounds, we hope you will be good and gentle to your skin and do not do too much long before it is truly called for…

Images Via Pinterest, CBS News

Posted in : Beauty Refined  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,