Modern malaise

The concept of unhappy hipsters is pretty genius. You know all those home decor catalogs you have floating around, even though you can’t afford anything in them except for one candlestick? And those cutting-edge architecture blogs? Isn’t there something weird about them? Yeah, the people. What’s with them? Why are they all so contemplative all the time? How can they afford these surroundings when they look too depressed to get up off that $10k Danish Modern sofa? This blog zeroes right in on that disconnect, and it’s pretty funny.

Within the settings of these photos- stunning interiors, the whole big gorgeous world visible through airy windows- there are young, attractive people who look desperately alone. Throw in some snarky commentary, and I was hooked. Apparently, this is the modern zeitgeist. Enjoy.

Memories and scent, or, I’m totally out of my snarky groove

When I was home for Christmas, my cousin gave our grandmother another bottle of Stella perfume. Both of them wear it and love it. I was sitting next to my cousin’s husband and he mentioned that my cousin not only turned my grandmother on to the perfume, but also his mother, and that it’s a little strange for one’s mother and wife to smell the same.

I agreed, it must be strange and slightly creepy. My father doesn’t wear any scent, but my grandfather uses Old Spice like it’s going out of style, and if my fiancé started using it would really throw me. And I remember when my mom switched perfumes when I was a child – she wore L’Air du Temps when I was very young and then switched to Yves St. Laurent Paris – suddenly mommy smelled completely different and it was a bit of a surprise.

However, many people before me have written about scent and memory and what perfume their mother wore, so I’m going to go back to the parent/partner scent conundrum. There were several guys I really liked in college who wore the same cologne as my younger brother, and as cute as they were and as nice as they could be, it was just too difficult to get past that scent issue. I’ve also had conversations with people who complained that their new girlfriend or boyfriend wore the same perfume as an ex – this was a bigger issue in high school or college when most people are more interested in being part of a trend than being unique and scads of young people wear one or two trendy scents. And I’ve known girls who bought several successive boyfriends the same cologne because they loved the smell so much. I wonder if, as most colognes do, the scent worn by the new boyfriend with his unique body chemistry was different enough from the others before him?

Scent is so personal, so linked to our subconscious, memory, and it has a powerful role in attraction. The more I think about the more intriguing the link between our sense of smell and relationships becomes to me.

Photo credit: Jaako on Flickr.

January Roundup

Decor: I’ve just started apartment-hunting, and I’m thinking about color palettes. Red is always a favorite, but I also like unexpected pops of blue, turquoise, and orange. Ever since I saw Amelie at least 8 years ago, I’ve wanted to find a blue lamp like the one in her living room. (The movie also inspired my college roommate and I to purchase a gnome.)

Music: New release: Vampire Weekend- Contra. My favorite track right now is “Taxi Cab.” The piano part reminds me of songs from a Wes Anderson movie soundtrack. And…probably unrelated, but the font on the album cover looks suspiciously like Futura bold. Hmm.

Clothing: Is it spring yet? This yellow shirtdress from Anthropologie tells me it must be.

Destination: Los Angeles, in March. I haven’t been there since I was a teenager. I’m looking forward to morning yoga in a palm tree-filled park and visiting two very different museums: The Museum of Jurassic Technology and the Getty (image from flickr).

Turquoise

One of my favorite colors is Pantone’s color of the year for 2010 – Turquoise.  For me, it’s one of those colors that immediately draws my eye, and my computer is littered with files of photos featuring turquoise interiors, turquoise vistas and turquoise clothing. Turquoise is one half of some of my favorite color pairings – brown and turquoise, red and turquoise, orange and turquoise. Here is a sample of my favorite items from some of my favorite stores in various shades of turquoise (and aqua and teal, but let’s not get into that discussion).

(Here is a much better round-up from the always impeccable blog, if it’s hip, it’s here).

Aquamarine hand blown vase from corporanglass on Etsy.

Twinkle print from irenesuchocki on Etsy. (I want this print more than anything).

Salong vase in turquoise from Ikea.

Zinnia knob from Anthropologie. (I want about 10 of these to punch up my dark brown dresser).

Out of Africa bag from ModCloth.

Baggu shopping bags from Reusable Bags.

Ocean Love Potion nail polish from Sephora.

Fill me up, Buttercup

This year, my loved ones fueled my love of weird, obscure, vintage things through their choice of Christmas presents. Most of these aren’t interesting enough to write about (do you want to hear about the enormous vintage Hemingway insulator the boy gave me? No?) but maybe you’d like to read about my new butter bell.

Here is where a photo of my cherry-red butter bell would be a perfect illustration, but unfortunately it broke in transport from frozen tundra land (Minnesota) to green wet land (Seattle) so you will have to be satisfied by the official photo from the Williams Sonoma website. We won’t talk about how sad I was when it arrived broken, as I’m sure you don’t care AND also because I’m getting ahead of myself because I am guessing most people have no idea what a butter bell IS.

Do you hate it when your butter is cold and hard? Do you have trouble spreading cold butter on bread? Do you get frustrated with cold butter and leave it on the counter, only to have it go rancid? If you do, then the BUTTER BELL is perfect for you!

Hm. I think maybe infomercial humor doesn’t come across in text very well… let me try that again.

So, a butter bell is an bell-shaped crock and bowl used for keeping butter fresh at room temperature. The bell is filled with butter and the bowl is filled with fresh, cool water, and when the bell is inverted into the bowl, a seal is formed that prevents air and other contaminants from reaching the butter, keeping it fresh longer. Most butter is fine kept for a few days at room temperature, but by using a butter bell and frequently changing the water it can stay fresh for much longer. According to Williams Sonoma the French have been keeping their butter in butter bells since the Middle Ages.*

I first found out about butter bells from the blogger Vanessa “Green As a Thistle” Farquharson – a woman who unplugged her fridge, among other things, to make her life more green. And even though I’m trying to make small changes to make my own life more green, I was more excited about the butter bell because I grew up with butter in the cupboard instead of the fridge, but living by myself I can never use my butter up quick enough to allow me to do that. I’ve never mastered the art of applying cold butter to bread without ripping gigantic holes.**

Butter bells are available at kitchen retailers like Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table, but they’re also available on Etsy.

*Old, French, food-related, nerdy – check, check, check, check.

**Eco-friendly, solves problem of cold butter application, available on my favorite website – check, check, check.

A new year’s workout mix

If you’re not lucky enough to live in a place where the sidewalks are ice-free, then the gym is probably crowded with all those New Year’s resolution peeps. Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe I am. Don’t worry, most will drop out by February. But not us.  Here’s my inspirational workout mix to keep us running/biking/jumping/vaulting those perfect 10s…

Jenny Lewis- See Fernando

The Cure- Just Like Heaven

Micachu & The Shapes- Golden Phone

Souvenir- Drums, Sex and Dance

The Decemberists- O Valenica

Feist (Britt Daniels remix)- I Feel It All

Mos Def- Quiet Dog

Vampire Weekend- Cousins

Lily Allen- Not Fair (the lyrics could be a little, uh, distracting on this one, but the beat is pretty awesome.)

Cut Copy- Lights and Music

Arcade Fire- Antichrist Television Blues

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- Heavy Metal

Kanye West/Radiohead (DJ Earworm remix)- Reckoner/Love Lockdown

David Bowie- Golden Years

Goldfrapp- Strict Machine