Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I lived

Varanasi Ghats by photographer Namit Arora. His beautiful photos make me feel homesick
for what was my temporary home for a year.

Here. For one year. And then went back for another 6 months a few years later. Varanasi or Benares, India. It was one of the best things I ever did. I had a bicycle and a normal day consisted of going to my Hindi class in the morning and then doing fieldwork: sitting with toymakers and toy-painters for the rest of the day. It's where my penchant for creating small objects was sealed.
When I'd get back at night there would always be blackouts since there were too many people tapping into the grid, but I'd cook or paint by candlelight and almost always have friends over.
The saying in Hindi that Banarsi's use to describe their feelings toward the city is, "Banares me, mera dil lagta he" or literally, "My heart is attached in Banares". It's a really amazing and special place.
I found this wonderful blog and it reminds me so much of my experiences there.
I started thinking a lot about my time in India again when I started to design my newest collection for pring 2008. It's influenced by the Indian Miniature paintings I collected when I was there and the fantasy of our 19th c. French Heroine (Bonbon Oiseau?) who travels all over Asia and the Americas, stringing talismans, tribal details and memories from her adventures. Lately I've been wanting to go back....

Friday, July 27, 2007

8 Facts

Tag! You're it! Players list 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, players then tag 8 people by posting their names and make sure they know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at the tagee’s blog.

I've been tagged by {RNVL} the writer of one of my very favorite blogs This is Glamorous to write 8 facts or habits about myself and then tag 8 other bloggers.
This is how memoirs get started but I'm afraid mine would be pretty boring (Wait. does that count as fact one? That I think I'm pretty boring?)

Anyway...Let me tell you about my boat:

1. I'm nerdy. I'm just trying to be cool. Just rent the first (and only) season of Freaks and Geeks. I relate absurdly well to Lindsey. Which makes me think Judd Apatow knew me (or knew right through me) back in high school or something.
geeks at the Cooper Hewitt

2. One of my grandfathers was a haberdasher in Germany. One was a cabinet maker in Manhattan. One of my grandmothers went to finishing school and learned to speak perfect French, cook, crochet and embroider. One worked as a cigar roller in a factory on the lower east side. I think it explains a lot.

3. I hiked the Himalayas in clogs. (see #2)

4. I love getting in the car and not knowing where I'm going until I get there. Jim often refers to this as “turd hunting”, especially when he's hungry.

5. I used to say whatever was on my mind until I realized it was a tremendous waste of energy. Now I waste my energy trying to hold myself back from saying whatever I feel like saying.

6. My dream is to buy an old English cottage in Mussoorie (we rented one in the summer of 1997. It was incredible) or one of the old hill stations in India and settle there, then travel all over India to discover new artisans, new jewelry techniques and maybe start a coop
7. I 've had the constant thought that I run my business like Steve Zissou ran his team from the Life Aquatic…great calling cards, no real business acumen.
"Supposedly Cousteau and his cronies invented the idea of putting walkie-talkies into the helmet. But we made ours with a special rabbit ear on the top so we could pipe in some music." -Steve Zissou)
I think I eventually find the jaguar shark though, so that’s good.

8. I'm a big fan of contrasts but I'm not a big fan of symmetry .

Tag! You're It:
Molly @ A Little House In The Clouds
Tracey @ Life in Sugar Hollow
Kaelea @ The Royal Me
Elaine @ I am a Fashion Designer. Gee
Ada @ Ada Limón
Cathy @ Scrappy Girl Decorates
Eireann @ Hello Another Way
Ada @ Dear Ada

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Love on a Wednesday (and a Thursday)

Even though the NY Times has gone up to a buck twenty five, last Wednesday's food section was killer and you can just check it out on-line. My secret crush, Mark Bittman, gave us "101 Simple Meals", and is worth printing (and possibly laminating or making into a Martha Stewart style scrapbook with little stickers.)
It's kitchen gold.
For example, today we shed a little tear (I did anyway-like a proud mother on graduation day) when we harvested our first crop of tomatoes and Jim cooked up number 21, with thick spaghetti, really good fruity olive oil that my brother just brought back from Provence, and fresh basil, also from the garden.
I held up the paper, hunched over with my mouth full of spaghetti and Jim responded, "It's pretty good."
We're really meant for each other.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Recovery (or a Very Specific Holiday)

Cool rug I'd like to buy, by Dan Golden

This one's long but there are lots of links:

The Story of Recovery, Take 1: the Early Days:
The night before my surgery I downloaded the audiobook version of My Life in France by Julia Child and her nephew Alex Prudhomme. Also on the old i-pod, I made a playlist consisting of 4 episodes of the “Splendid Table” along with some soothing music: Luna, some Belle and Sebastian, The Libertines, Feist, with a little Django Reinhardt thrown in---happy feel good stuff.

I did that because I was under the impression that I could listen to music while I was being operated on—at least that’s what they told me in my pre-surgery "try to relax" meeting the week before. I figured I’d wake to the soothing voice of Lynn Rosetto Caspar. I was thinking I could put some of my Learn French by Podcast on there, and when I woke up, I’d be parlezzing Français.
But none of this happened. Just before I walked through those doors, the resident said no way.

I handed Jim the i-pod.

No worries. When I came to, I could barely parlez English. It wasn’t until the next morning (they wake you up at 5 am), I could even figure out how to make my i-pod work. For the next few mornings I’d listen to Julia Child’s story, and then nod off in a morphine haze. Then I’d try to look at a magazine. I only brought 2 mags: Blueprint and Vogue. I never got past a few pages of Blueprint before I nodded off again, sometimes with my finger in my eye, my nose or where ever it was when I fell off. Later that day Kaelea brought all kinds of British Gossip rags which I later nodded off to as well.

On my last night in the hospital, ironically and possibly as a tribute to my hard work at being drugged up, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was on AMC, and I dozed off with that in one ear, my loud roommate’s loud son telling his mother about his roommate problems in the other.

Then: Home Coming/Coming Home:
I was lucky that Joie, my oldest friend and also step-niece came with Jim to drive me home. A cab driver would have hit bumps I think, and that would have hurt. She helped us settle in at home, brought all kinds of food for the week and also I book that I’d put off reading for some reason, Julia & Julia, about Julie Powell’s year of cooking all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art Of French Cooking. (I found the blog she kept that year, one of the first blogs I’d ever seen, The Julie/Julia Project when I put in Julia Child in a Google Search. Anyway I loved that blog and how inspiring a story to know that Julie Powell found her way via cooking and writing about her experiences.)

Last Week's Schedule:I read Julie & Julia in the mornings, listened to Julia Child for a while before lunch and then turned on BBC America around 1 pm to watch Naked Chef and Gordon Ramsay’s Boiling Point, the documentary made about him after he quit Aubergine and opened his own restaurant in London. I happened to get a copy of an April 2nd New Yorker which had a great article by Bill Buford ( I really want to read his new book where he trails Mario Batali for a year) about Ramsay so I simultaneously read that while watching daily half-hour doses of Boiling Point. You could say that both Julia Child and Gordon Ramsay have been well researched by me during this recovery.

One day I watched back episodes of Top Chef, one day I watched back episodes of Food Network’s weird competition show, Top Food Network Show Star or whatever it was called ( I didn’t think much of it—I prefer PBS style cooking shows to Food Network shows any day (although I like Nigella and the Barefoot Contessa). In between, I’d ask Jim, who’s been wonderful throughout, for food like, scrambled eggs, buttered toast and ginger-ale, smoothies made with big fresh strawberries he bought for me and my new favorite yogurt brand besides the Greek Stuff called Wallaby. One night, I craved boiled then pan butter roasted potatoes of which he did an excellent job. I can’t remember eating much more but I nourished myself watching all the food shows whenever I wanted.

On Thursday night, exactly one week after the operation, we watched back to back episodes of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, where Gordon goes into failing restaurants and helps turn them around into viable businesses again. I love that show because Ramsay’s tough-love approach, simple marketing ideas and downright entertaining bouts of anger and honesty helps me look at my own business to see what’s working and what isn’t. Then I’d read the book again and look through my own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, old copies of Saveur and the new Food And Wine. I didn’t touch the computer all week because I just wasn’t up to it yet I figured out you can still find out about all sorts of things without it. Oh yeah and one day I watched all of Season two of The Office. One day, when it rained monsoon rains all over NY, I went right back to bed where Jim had found Knocked Up on tv-links.co.uk and then Little Mosque on the Prairie (confirming that Canadians are the coolest) on Joox.net. That was a good day to go back to bed and watch Jim’s laptop. Anytime someone came to visit we’d make them watch Flight of The Conchords (on-demand). You know what Wednesday means.

Afterthoughts on the First Two Weeks:
I realize this has been both a dull yet inspiring journey. I’ve been on an amazing virtual culinary vacation laced with narcotics, anti-inflammatants and bland foods. And it hurt (a lot) when I laughed.
When I’m completely recovered, whenever that is, I’m ready to eat and take a vacation.

P.S. Thanks to my great husband who never left my side and made that first week bearable (and made unbelievably good potatoes). And my great mom who took great care of me the second week when my great husband had to go back to work. And also to my great friends who called and visited and beared great gifts that totally cheered me up (dvd's, nightyshirt with pictures of skulls all over it, bunches of sunflowers, zinnias, lavender roses, hydrangeas, a banh mi sandwich. ) I also have a great assisitant to thank, who worked several market tables for me and made me completely proud of her abilities to run the show.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Going Under

Ok...this will be my last entry for a while, at least a week or two I think? Tomorrow is the surgery finally and will be so happy when it's over, happier when I can get back to the studio again and get back to work.

In preparation for going under and to relieve a great amount of stress about closing down the shop for a few weeks, we had an incredible photoshoot here on Sunday. I was very lucky to work with an incredibly talented photographer Alexa Vachon who produced some amazingly beautiful work during a very long and hot day (sorry about that sunburn thing on one of your arms Alexa). The model is Mathilde Bergaon, who is actually an incredibly talented designer from Paris. She doesn't normally like having her picture taken but she kindly did it for me...I think she is the ideal Bonbon model and I feel so blessed that both photographer and model chose to work with me as well.

I'm hoping after I'm better, to work on a new bridal catalog and of course, you're getting a sneak peek at Spring 2008.

Have a wonderful 2 weeks and wish me luck friends.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


Life's been hectic in Bonbon Land lately. But happy 7/7/07! It made me think of these. Coming Holiday '07: The Keyfob Necklaces.

Cupcakes at the Cooper-Hewitt

Design for the Other 90% at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum.
I loved that the exhibition was set up outside, where much of life
happens in the developing world. It was the most hopeful
and inspiring exhibition I've seen in along while.
I admit guilt that I am focusing this entry on cupcakes and not so much the exhibition.

Dave regards the cupcake (in Chocolate)
Sad that the old cupcake was finished, the new cupcake (in Vanilla)

Last night, after a few glasses of some weird drink that Jim concocted using tequila, cointreau and Ceres youngberry juice (a.k.a. Youngberry Frescas). Our discussion turned to cupcakes and the best cupckae of the year award goes to:
The Cooper Hewitt Museum, NYC. Where do your cupcakes come from Cooper-Hewitt? A few weeks ago,when our friend Dave was here from Portland, we went to see two great and inspiring exhibitions, Design for the Other 90%, and their Triennial,"Design Life Now" but hadn't had lunch yet when we arrived, so opted to eat at the cafe. We were all doing so well, choosing salads and Perrier. The setting at the Cooper Hewitt is so...genteel. But it was hard to resist the giant cupcakes calling to us from under their pretty glass bell jars.
Best. Cupcakes. Ever.
Second Prize: Billy's Bakery, over on 9th Ave. in Manhattan, (which we had taken Dave, the Cupcake King, to the night before).

Cupcakes gave us energy to play with the motion detecting wall in the stairwell.Kidrobot's graffiti ready blackboard doll. Psyched to see Kidrobot,
ReadyMade Magazine, and Planet Propaganda in the Design Life Now exhibition.

I loved this lamp by Alison Berger Glassworks,
where the words become shadows, and sort of become the lampshade.