Lace & lazy legs

Lazy legs were allowed to stay in this position because due to the dismal weather I’m doing most of my sales shopping online. No, I couldn’t find any cashmere trackies, nor affordable diamond earrings (surprise, surprise) and the much coveted Wolford cashmere-silk tights are still £109.- (ouch).

Only once did I venture out on the high street and was nearly clubbed to death by lacey items. Lace and sequins EVERYWHERE… And what
Couture Cookie already mentioned about sequins I think applies to lace even more: Cheap just doesn’t cut the grease…*

Just in case I don’t have a sudden inspirational moment tomorrow – A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!
*I bought this beautiful vintage dress in Sterling Gold (www.sterlinggold.de) in Berlin this summer. The cut looks quite 50s to me. What do you think?


Rush not Hush

This is where I planned to be – tranquil, peaceful Scotland - Hiking around the loch, relaxing with friends and Hercule Poirot and drinking whiskey… But it was not to be. The weather gods and the traffic gods were against us and after 4 hours on the M25 we just gave up and went back home.

Instead I will take my lazy, cookie filled legs to the sales and this is what I’m looking for:

- Cashmere sweatpants
- Diamond earrings (I can’t understand why I still don’t have any. Could it be that husband has become deaf?)
- A really cool tennis dress
- Cashmere/silk wool tights (I hear there is a new Wolford store in London)

Come on, lazy feet! Let’s see what we'll find...


Go Blogging!

When I started writing a blog I thought it might also be a fun way to connect to family and friends living in different countries and continents, maybe even reconnect to old friends I lost touch with. Blogging has turned out to be great fun and every day I’m amazed by the creativity of bloggers all over the world. To me blogging is entertaining, informing and inspiring and a new found way to communicate with the world.

Strangely the reactions from family and friends were often very different to what I had hoped for… 'A blog? What’s that good for?', 'All this information on the internet - that’s really dangerous!', 'How’s this going to make you money?' were just some reactions. Others plainly ignore it and though we might speak on the phone, skype or email they never refer to it, making me wonder if public communication is something to be ashamed of or if having a blog is just considered to be so terribly egocentric that it’s better not mentioned. (I surly don't dare to ask, fearing this would just show my incredible egocentricity.)

Do I sound whiny and full of self-pity? If so, I’m really sorry (and blame all the alcohol and food over Christmas, making me chemically slightly imbalanced). It’s just, before I can honestly say 'I don’t give a f…' I need to sort my brain on this issue. And for me it comes down to this:

1. Blogging is a great way to play around with visuals. For me it’s photography, something I wanted to come back to for a while.
2. It’s a great space where you can share thoughts and ideas with like-minded people
3. Yes, the idea of publishing one’s creative output unasked, hoping it might be of interest to someone is pretty egocentric, but, I think, rather a constructive egocentricity.
4. It’s a good way to organize yourself and your thoughts, and the (admittedly self-imposed) pressure of having to post something supports creative productivity.
5. Again, it’s a great communication tool, allowing people all over the world, who would otherwise never meet, to share their thoughts. (It also helps me to figure out what I’m actually interested in.)

I guess I’m talking to the converted here, but I’m really interested if anyone else had similar – or totally – different experiences (many bloggers seem to stay in touch with a big group of friends through their blog; so no technical challenges there). I can only say blogging gives me an opportunity to talk to incredibly interesting people all over the planet and I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.

Wishing everyone a great start to the New Year. I’m so looking forward to more virtual exchanges. Thanks for talking to me, I love talking to you, too!


I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas...

White or not; now that the end of the year is nigh, there is not much left to do for me, but -

1. read, read, read
2. finally find the time to paint my nails (yeap, it's that bad)
3. spend all day in trackies and an old cashmere sweater
4. eat lots and lots of cookies

But most important of all -
Wishing you all Happy Christmas Days, wherever you are, whatever you celebrate... xxx


The Joys of Snow #2

I don’t know how long this will last, but right now I’m absolutely loving our isolated living situation. Suddenly there is so much time… Time to rummage through old trunks and finding kimonos bought in Japan, for example. 'Ah', I delight 'more kimonos'… I remember Liberty London Girl just recently showed us one of her great grandmother.
Did you know that kimono means 'thing to wear' in Japanese and that they are always wrapped with the left side over the right (except when you’re dead and are being dressed for burial)? They are traditionally made of silk, silk brocade or silk crepe and are often taken apart for washing and resown by hand. The belt, called obi, is tied at the back and the length of the sleeve varies according to the un/married status of the woman wearing the kimono.

Naturally we got it all wrong: Not only is the obi a belt I bought in Guatemala, we also wrapped the garment the wrong way round. The rather restrained colour and pattern as well as the form of the sleeve seems to indicate to my untrained eye that this is a kimono for men rather than for women. Bah, who cares? I just wanted some pictures in the snow…

Read more:


The Joys of Snow

A few inches of snow have lead to the usual scenario: The car can’t get up our small road, and with schools closed an no bus services, do I have a choice? Nope! All I can do is cosy up by the fire with a book, cookies and tea and be really lazy.

I am not going to worry that the presents won’t arrive (naturally the post man isn’t braving the icy road to our house, either) or that I have no stocking fillers or that the fridge needs to be filled. If we are getting too hungry there is always a walk to the next village. Hibernation, here I come… Wishing you all happy days in the snow, in the sun, wherever you are!


Le Geek, C’est Chic! (is it?)

What do Dan Humphrey, Ross Geller, Hermione Granger and Hiro Nakamura all have in common? They have made nerdiness (or is it nerdishness) not only acceptable but even attractive. (I would like to include Marc Jacobs, or is this just too presumptuous? Plus, do you notice that fictional and real people are all the same to me?)

Even good old Justin Timberlake* openly flaunts his inner nerd. But is the mind-over-matter look really chic? And what does it take to show that you favour brains over brutishness?

Here's my list:
1. horn-rimmed or strong, dark-rimmed glasses
2. turtleneck sweater and/or
3. buttoned up shirt
4. cardigan
5. sandals worn with socks (in summer)
6. short fringe
7. beret (girls)
8. calculator watch
9. the Rubik’s Cube (No kidding, they are back! I’ve seen them around and they look as geekish as they did in the 1980s)

Since many of these items (especially no. 1, 2, 6 and 7) also remind us of French existentialism I think they can actually look rather sexy (anything French is sexy, isn’t it?) – for the rest – you tell me…

My conclusion is that though the geek may be past his/her hayday fashion-wise, combined with some nerd-no-nos such as a mini skirt, cleavage and/or high heels it can still look quite cool. Fashion, it’s all about balance...
P.S. 1 Normally friendly husband tells me the glasses make me look 20 years older but 'quite intelligent'. Now, I'm not fishing for compliments here (would I ever?!?!), but are nerd glasses really a deal-breaker with men, i.e. unsexy?

P.S. 2 The word geek derives from the old German word 'Geck', which is something like a clown. According to Wiki it is "a peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc." How geekish am I, mmh?!

*I had problems inserting this link but you can read more about Justin's fashion statement here: http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2009/12/justin_timberlake_does_nerd_ch.html


A Hairy Situation

Don’t you think hairdressers have a special position in a woman’s life? Confidence-wise they must be right up there with the gynaecologist and the psychoanalyst. (And if you do not trust them who can you trust?) A good hairdresser enjoys (or at least pretends to) listening to you. And because snipping away leaves a lot of time to talk, your hairdresser normally gets to know you pretty well. Trouble with the boyfriend, naughty children, latest car crash… You can be sure you will spill it all out in an atmosphere of relaxed grooming.

But I LOST MINE! She was such a lovely girl. I met her when she was still a teenaged apprentice at Tony & Guy and when one of the directors opened his own salon she was the only one he took with him. I followed her like a lamb. I didn’t complain that prices doubled, I took it with a wince that they made fun of me for only coming twice a year, while all the other customers made an appointment directly after having been coiffured.
No, I certainly wasn’t their best customer, but I was faithful, always tipped rather well and tried to be my pleasant self. But when the boss’s boyfriend was rather rude to my daughter I decided I couldn’t go any longer. (Sorry, but being mean to children just isn’t nice!)

So here I am, my last hairdresser was in Berlin, and I just can’t face putting my head into someone else’s hands… Luckily I remembered the recession haircut the Guardian had favoured last year: Bend your head over and cut in a straight line. Result: Perfect layers! Luckily I’m a ponytail girl...*

*without a horse


Why Oh Why Turquoise?

You just have to follow Tommy Ton from Jak & Jil: 4th of December it’s Giovanna’s handbag, 11th it’s heels, and - oh look! - on the 13th another handbag does peek-a-boo… There is no ignoring the signs - Turquoise is on the rise. Now it’s even official: Pantone has declared '15-5519' as the official colour of 2010. (I know there are a lot of links, but please STAY - you can check them out later!)

The combination of light green and blue, which is turquoise, combines the 'serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green' and is supposed to be an extremely positive colour, reminding us – according to Pantone LLC - of 'sparkling Caribbean waters and spiritual stones'.

Frankly, not me! Yes, it can be beautiful as a necklace, brooch or earrings, and it's just acceptable as an accessoire, but for clothes? Only for the under 10-years-olds or at the beach. (If at all)

But perhaps it’s just my problem. This supposedly invigorating green-blue combination makes me look like I was suffering from acute sickness (one would think a greenish colour should go nicely with reddish hair, but in fact it just makes me look like I’ve just thrown up).

I think I’ll give this up-and-coming hue a miss and rather stick with red. Although according to the Financial Times this is also a difficult colour to wear.


These Boots Are Made for Walking

'Oh look' says astonished husband 'You are wearing sensible shoes. What’s the occasion?' The occasion is that I want to throw myself into the shining pre-Christmas lights of Oxford and Regent Street. I know, it’s absolutely manic and I promised myself to stay away from the London shopping hubs until Christmas is over.

But Harrods, Harvey Nics, Selfridges & Co. always put on such a great show and there is a certain magic to the city. No shopping for me (thank God for online shopping), but I want to have a good stroll and although I like to strut my stuff there is hardly anything more pathetic than a woman hobbling in pain because she chose the wrong shoes.

I think my favourite is the Dolce & Gabbana window in Old Bond Street…
Thank you, flat boots - Painless feet! You are my Christmas stars!


In Search of the Perfect… #1 Underwear

Though I might run around in high heels, stretch dresses and mini skirts, when it comes to underwear my sensible Teutonic side gets the upper hand. To me bras and knickers (or briefs or panties, whatever you prefer) need to fulfil certain criteria:

a. I don’t want to notice them (no under-wire bras, please)
b. The bra should give proper support
c. They should be invisible (no-one likes a VPL, but dental floss for the bum also isn’t one of my favourites)
d. Ideally they should be made from natural material (cotton, silk) or one of these modern man-made breathable materials (e.g. sports underwear).

All this has lead to the unflattering situation that I’ve got loads of beautiful lingerie in my wardrobe, but mostly wear the same old sport bras which also has the advantage of less changing for my
Roger Federer regime. (This is rather embarrassing to write, but hey, I’m looking for solutions here!)

As I was raised by a 'liberated' mother who had burnt her bras in the 70s (at least mentally and she never looked back) it took me more than 25 years on this earth to figure out that bras actually come in different sizes (no wonder they never fit). (What does this tell you about my friends? a. I don’t have any, b. they all have Kate Moss figures, c. they were just as ignorant as me – Just take your pick.)

Anyway, I love La Perla and Co., but for comfort and reliability I swear on the Swiss: Hanro and Zimmerli (although good old German Schiesser isn’t too bad, either).

But surely there must be other comfy invisible knickers and bras in this world…?


The Wedding Dress

Having spent my teenage years in smoky cafés in Berlin, reading Henry Miller, Anais Nin and Jean-Paul Sartre, my romantic dreams were mostly geared towards becoming an artist and leading a Bohemian life in Paris. To my friends and me marrying was something only boring people did and when we finally bowed to it (mostly for tax reasons and 'for the children'), we tried to keep it as inconspicuous as possible. (One of my friends actually married secretly, telling me later that she was convinced that marriage is the sure end of all romance).

So when I moved to England I was slightly bemused by the enthusiasm of most English for marrying, getting children and owning a house. Coming from a society where renting is a convenient and safe option (German renters are not only well protected, many rent contracts can be passed on through generations) to me owning a house only meant constraints to ones freedom; and though children are lovely, they often just happen. As for the husband… well, that would be one half of assumed boredom, wouldn't it?

Perhaps I was cheating myself all the time. Because when I stumbled upon a beautiful beaded dress in Australia I bought it with the words: "If I ever marry, this is going to be my wedding dress". The dress went into some trunk and was never used, until –

Although we kept it all very low-key it was a beautiful day and to me the dress made me feel special and really added to my sense of romance.*

*And now I’m going to brush up on my French!


The Return of the Tie-Dye

Normally I don’t mind November very much. Yes, it’s grey, dark and cold – but it’s still only the beginning of winter, which means the excitement of wardrobe changes (leopard gloves!) and the pre-Christmas spirit keeps optimism up. That’s normally… But this year here in the UK the weather tried to become a Blade Runner theme and there seemed to be no end to weeks of rain and darkness…

So can you blame me for trying to stay away from reality as much as possible by escaping either into the lives and stories of other bloggers or into the pages of a book? Unfortunately it seems I was quite successful because I was really shocked when Tommy Ton from
Jak & Jil informed us that all the fashion forward people are moving back to the 70s.

Hold on a minute! Didn’t we just move from the 70s to the 80s?? I must have slept through several seasons because according to everyone in the know '70s romance is returning in fashion'. Trying to understand what’s happening here, I have to admit it took me a while to accept the 80s look. Having done it before, it just seemed idiotic to me. Why would anyone want to go back to the times of Wham!, Maggie Thatcher and yuppies? But being of a weak character I slowly bend to stretch dresses, big blazers and shoulder pads and have started to like them (especially my broad shouldered, waisty Alexander McQueen blazer – so Dynasty!)
But it’s not to be. Move over Joan Collins, AliMcGraw is back.


Cheating with Chanel

Although I find it surprising that Chanel No. 5 is the scent to 'most likely attract a mate'* this information evokes memories in me. Nothing to do with romance, though. Personally I find the smell of Chanel No. 5 slightly repugnant. It’s just too woody, too harsh for me. (Or as Leonora Epstein puts it in TheFrisky: 'It’s one pungent aroma that came into style in the '20s and smells like it’s been in the same bottle since then.'**) But I don’t mind, because I will eternally be thankful to this old fashioned smell…

Physiotherapy exams were nothing to laugh at, and having been glued to my desk with muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments for weeks on end probably made me slightly imbalanced. Anyway, I panicked, I didn't trust myself to get through all this. Then I remembered that our anatomy professor had mentioned he couldn’t resist a woman wearing Chanel No. 5... Perhaps he just wanted to see how desperate students can get, but I thought it was worth a try. So before the anatomy exams I stopped at a department store and gave myself a good spraying (I wasn't in a financial position to buy it then).

Did it work? You bet! I got the highest marks of all students in anatomy. To me it doesn’t matter if the professor appreciated my devotion to get through the exams or if he had an Oedipus complex...** Even though my
favourite smell is something totally different; No. 5 has been a fixture in my perfume assembly ever since.

If it's not No. 5 (or even if it is) - Is there a smell on whose erotic power you swear?

*Superdrug poll with 3000 women.

** She also mentions that it's the smell for guys with an Oedipus complex, since it reminds many men of their mums and grandmas.


Walk on the Wild Side

To me the leopard print is a frightening development. Don’t get me wrong, I know leopard print has been around for donkey’s years and I really don’t care that it has come back with a big roar this season. Although, maybe I do care because it seems to be dragging me down towards a disastrous end.

Up to my late 20s, when it came to clothes, I hated anything leopardy. It just seemed the most vulgar, ordinary, cheap pattern to me and I would probably rather have gone naked. But during my 30s the barricades softened. Instead of contemptuous I began feeling interested… Could this actually look nice… quirky… maybe even chic? When in Italy I bought myself a pair of horse hide gloves with leopard print and I LOVE them. I actually wanted it to get cold and wintry so I could show off my beautiful gloves.
But now it has gone further. I can’t pass anything with leopard print anymore. When I go shopping my daughter has to physically drag me away from the wild print. ‘Don’t you think that looks nice?’ I ask tentatively. ‘No! It’s just embarrassing!’ she answers. Everyone knows what to think about women over 40 and animal print… I don’t care, I had fashion sense in my 20s. Age means freedom… Grrrr!


Organic Disneyland

There are places in this world that seem too good to be true. The Daylesford Organic farm shop in the Cotswolds is one of them… Imagine yourself marching through a cold, grey November rain and ending up – in farm shop heaven! You enter a spacious, light barn with scrubbed tables, laden with luscious flowers, baskets full with lustrous fruit and veg and all kind of other delicious looking food. No kidding, if Disneyland had a farm shop it would look like Daylesford Organic!

In the 'real world' the Daylesford Organic Farm shops belong to Sir Anthony Bamford, the owner of the JCB tractor empire (remember Nizlopi’s JCB Song? I agree, better not). There is a HQ in Gloucestershire and some London outlets. The Times journalist AA Gill, who gave a scathing review of one of the London restaurants, thinks the Daylesford scheme caters to the 'bigger golden calf' syndrome and 'cashmere lifestyle' you can find in abundance not only in London, but also in the Cotswolds area and he just 'couldn’t hate it more'. He also mentioned a friend who had been to Daylesford to buy some cheese but had come back empty-handed 'because he had only £196 on him'.
But not so the website ladieswholunch-in-hampshire. Here Daylesford is described as an 'exquisite set-up. A real experience of "upmarket" organic lunching tucked away in the countryside'.

Philosophically I’m definitely with Gill. I too feel rather silly in a place where you pay £3.00 for 227g jam and £5.00 for 500g pasta; but to my escapist soul it’s also like entering a dream world, where everything is healthy, delectable and beautiful (until you get the bill). And the cakes are absolutely delicious!

P.S. When the Cotswold HQ burnt down in September I couldn’t avoid suspecting that there must be more haters of the lets-play-healthy-living idyll; but apparently the fire was caused by a gas barbecue.

Daylesford Organic Ltd. http://www.clearlyso.com/company/177/DaylesfordOrganicLtd.jsf
D’Souza, C: Daylesford Organic Café. May 06, 2007. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article1722589.ece
Fire crews tackle blaze at Daylesford Organic. Monday, September 14, 2009, 06:25. http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/gloucestershireheadlines/Blaze-farm-shop/article-1333913-detail/article.html
Gill, AA: Daylesford Organic. The Sunday Times. March 15, 2009. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/eating_out/a_a_gill/article5880725.ece


A Tracky Question

Looking at my blog fav list it will come to no one’s surprise that I love fashion. Like so many females the question of what to wear features high in my list of priorities and I always thought that experimenting with fashion is one of the best 'funs' in life. So when I started working in a 'proper' company (instead of for myself) one of the more difficult adjustments was the existence of a dress code. In the corporate world men wear suits and women wear (often rather long) skirts. (Actually, before moving to England I thought long skirts were exclusively worn to the opera). Now, I like wearing a suit, sometimes (I draw a line at a long skirt though), but what I like even more is to wear whatever I want and that depends on how I feel in the morning.

So when one day my morning mood called for a pair of black Michael Kors shorts and pretty much EVERYBODY at work had given me a rather obvious stare (so un-English) and I (naïve German) thought they were just admiring my outfit, I was taken aside and it was explained to me that the company had a ‘no shorts’ policy. Oh dear!

Luckily my boss happened to pass and intervened. "But you are German! You can wear whatever you want." Bless her. I don’t know why my German-ness gave me a licence to thrill (fashionably), but hey, I thought, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth! Since this incident I wear pretty much what I want and the glances have stopped. (I just ignore the mutterings around the corner.)

No problem with short dresses, satin leggings, even batiked jeans (they get a lot of positive comments). But lately I have become infatuated with the jogging look. I mean, really, you just can’t get away from it. I tried to ignore it at
Garance Doré in May, but now all fashion magazines feature the ‘trackie look’ and when I stumbled upon it again in the The Glossy my thoughts went wild: This just looks sooo comfortable, couldn’t it be the perfect pre-Christmas work look?
Sadly our tolerant, protecting-the-continental-ways boss has left us. So the question is: Do I want to fight my fashion corner? But maybe they’ve given up on me anyway.

P.S. Special Thanks to Sarah and Harriet for modelling!


Will Melatonin Prevent Me from Turning into a Zombie?

Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night. Dave Barry

I don’t know if it’s autumn or some strange virus – but I cannot sleep. I go to bed, utterly exhausted, read a bit, close my eyes, and then I lie there.. and lie… and lie… for hours. First I thought it was the full moon, but that came and went and slumber still escapes me. ‘I can’t sleep!’ I howl. ‘If it goes on like this I will get wrinkly and grumpy and ill!’ (in that order)

‘Maybe you are taking something that keeps you awake’ asks sensible husband. ‘Are you taking a new product?’ (He knows I am my best customer when it comes to supplements. In fact, when I’m working on a catalogue our kitchen is filled with all these great products I have to try.) ‘I haven’t changed anything.’ I say ‘I take alpha-lipoic acid and astaxanthin to stay young forever, acetyl-l-carnitine, chromium and CLA so I can eat as much as I want, ashwagandha and rhodiola against stress, lecithin and fish oil for happi- and cleverness plus calcium, magnesium, selenium, probiotics as well as vitamins b, c, d and e because you just can’t go without them.’ ‘Maybe you should stop it all, to see if any of these substances are the cause?’ ‘WHAT? Now I need them more than ever, since I have to function with hardly any sleep.’ No, I certainly can’t do that, but I could add something…

So when - again - everyone in the house is snoring, but me, I rummage through our kitchen and find some melatonin that we brought back from Australia. That was 10 years ago and the ‘best until’ date is 2001. I’m beyond caring; all I want is sleep.
Yes, it did work. I might have felt a bit drowsy in the morning, but the sensation of having slept is wonderful. I wonder, do I need to add another supplement to my daily regime?


Scent & Sensibility

It’s not that I needed one… I was actually quite happy with my current perfume – oriental, musky, lots of amber – just what I like. But then November arrived and the weather turned bad and I really needed a pick-me-up. Whenever I need a bit of consolation from the dreariness of everyday life I go to Liberty London and stroke the handbags. The sales people there probably already know the sad handbag-stroker. And since Yasmin Sewell had gone on about ‘Pulp’ by Byredo in the shop’s magazine I thought I’d have a whiff of that, too. What a very strange olfactory sensation! Pulp is supposed to be ‘a compilation of exotic and Swedish influences creat[ing] an international fruit basket.’ And it goes on: ‘A dramatic composition focused on the idea of ripe, sweet, shapeless mass of fruit, an unruly and intense savor.’

I don’t know how Sweden smells (childhood memories are pictures of forests full of blueberries, wild streams with crabs and beautiful butterflies which my dad would make us look up in field guides, but no smell recollection). The combination of bergamot, cardamom, blackcurrant, fig, red apple, tiare, cedar wood, peach flower and praline (???) was intriguing but also slightly repellent (it must be the rotting fruit basket). Anyway, I had my whiff and moved over to the Frederic Malle counter (most charming French shop assistant!) and nearly bought Musc Ravageur (very much in my olfactory comfort zone). (Daughter wanted ‘French lover’ but I think she’ll have to wait a bit for this one). Then I remembered that we are in the middle of a recession and I will end up like Carrie Bradshaw – the lady with shoes, but no home – and darted out.

The problem was, I was absolutely hooked. For a week I would sniff at the sweater I had been wearing that day and fall into some kind of scented trance. All I could think of was I really wanted the pulpy mix. But how to overcome my financial morals? Easy! This could be my first christmas present from myself to me! (When it comes to persuading myself to spend money I’m actually quite ingenious.)

To help me through the long wait until Christmas I also bought one of their candles (Cassis - cinnamon, clove buds, blackcurrant, lingonberry, strawberry, cedarwood, black amber, birch). Beautiful fragrance and easy on the nose.
Naturally I can’t wait ’til December 25th. So now every morning I unwrap the whole shebang to get to my Christmas present just to spray a few secret whiffs of my smelly addiction. Come Christmas I’ll probably need a new one…