Thursday, June 30, 2011

Colorized Cameo

I took all the color I leached out of the Jazz Age Lawn Party pics and poured it into a cameo. I don't know what happened--decided to do a cameo in color, but I meant to do it very pale, and next thing you know there's all this red hair.

There's been a lot of talk of red hair going around lately, maybe that's why. I always notice and admire the ginger. We were told as kids that my great-aunt was the flame-haired beauty of the family and not, alas, my poor black-haired grandmother, so I learned from an early age what a valuable attribute it is. Always wished for a redheaded boyfriend. Prince Harry, ideally. Never had one, though.

I've been sick all week. Traveling back to the 20s was too much for me, apparently. I promised myself once I finished this drawing I would make a triumphant return to society and fashion, but yeah, that didn't work out. Oh well, the fresh country air should restore me this weekend (the drive will probably kill me instead). Hope you have non-deadly plans for the weekend!

colored and graphite pencil on bristol, 17"x14"

Monday, June 27, 2011


The Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island was this past weekend. It was a lot of fun.

Lou is hiding his face because he doesn't want you to see him crying. He wasn't allowed to go and be a jazzy dog:(

The shoes and pearls I wore

Dapper Dans

Dapper Dancers


Tug O' War

Demon Rum

Oh look! It's the Hon. Mrs. Zara Constance Woolsen, glittering socialite, and international star of stage and screen, Joelle Van Dyne! Guess whether it was Zara or Joelle who said, "I've just read the Great Gatsby, and I'm simply giddy with excitement about dressing up for the Jazz Age party!"

Hint: You got it wrong.


Is it me or something a little off here? I just don't know.

Robert Rodriguez dress, ASOS brogues, vintage pearls, bakelite cuff

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fruit Frenzy

Left to right: Strawberry vodka, blackberry-orange cordial, and blueberry and peach vodkas in their infancy.

Although I am by no means a Food Person and so any Food Project I take on requires a lot of embarrassing internetz searching (how-to-hull-a-strawberry. how-to-choose-a-pomegranate. how-many-oz-are-in-2.5 lbs. and on, and on, and on), I've been dabbling in popsicles, infused vodka, and cordials/syrups.

I wanted to start another infused vodka while my strawberry vodka was in progress, but I only had one jar big enough, and it was occupied by the strawberry. After unsuccessfully hunting around dollar stores for jars, I ordered a set of six from Amazon. Of course I don't need that many, and after they arrived I found cuter jars at the drugstore, but it's a good deal if you add a five dollar something to the order to bring it up to $25 for free shipping.

So now I have six, actually seven, because the old one is empty now, big ole half gallon jars. If I use them all, that will be a whole lot of vodka infusions, but at least it will increase the odds that I get a really great one, and if any are disgusting, they can be pawned off as "homemade gifts" come Christmastime. Ha ha ha! Hopefully there won't be any disgusting ones. I'm trying to do as much research as I can to prevent that. Even middle-of-the-road vodka is not that cheap.

I went to the grocery to see the fruit situation, and settled on blueberry, peach, and pomegranate vodka, and since I just looked up a ton of cordial recipes, I decided to make blackberry-orange cordial too.

The strawberry vodka I started in May is finished. I strained it and filtered it through coffee filters twice to remove any strawberry goo. Now it's just a question of whether to age or not. Right now, it tastes like strawberry candy. Seriously. This is the Hello Kitty of vodka. It is so girly I'm almost embarrassed to admit I like it. Oh but I do. I really do.

I was impressed with the strawberry vodka recipe I used because most of the sweetened vodka infusion recipes I have seen either add simple syrup to the finished infusion, or throw it in with the fruit and vodka at the beginning. The strawberry recipe begins with just strawberries and vodka, but after a week the strawberries are transferred to a different jar and sugar is added. The sugar pulls vodka and strawberry-ness from the strawberries, and the resulting liquid is combined with the original infusion. No water is added and less vodka is wasted. It makes so much more sense than tossing out the vodka-soaked fruit and adding sugar water to the vodka.

The blueberry vodka recipe is exactly the same as the strawberry, only difference is the fruit. I wonder if it will be as candy-like as the strawberry one. It will be pretty for sure.

The peach and pomegranate recipes came from a great (unfortunately now defunct) blog written by a Polish woman living in California. Her infusions (she calls them by the Polish name nalewka) are well thought-out and tested, which is rare. You would not believe how many infusion "recipes" I've found that go something like this:

Dragonfruit-Earl Grey-Peanut Butter Cup Vodka. A gorgeous flavor marriage you will adore. Put one dragonfruit, one Earl Grey teabag, and one peanut butter cup in a bottle and add vodka. Let sit for one week. Enjoy! By the way, mine isn't done yet!

The peach nalewka recipe begins with just peaches and sugar. I photographed the jar yesterday, right after I put the peaches and sugar in it. Now the sugar has dissolved and the peaches are floating in syrup. At the end of the day the vodka will be added. I was concerned my peaches were not good enough, because I sampled one and it was meh, but I tasted the syrup today and it is mos def peach, so maybe they were not so bad.

I haven't started the pomegranate vodka yet because I need to buy more vodka first, but the recipe is from the same blog. The traditional Polish pomegranate infusion is called Pasha's Delight, but she thought it needed jazzing up, so she added more pomegranate and spices, and named her creation Roxelana.

Roxelana! I love pomegranate, so as soon as I get the vodka I will begin Roxy.

For the cordial, I was (temporarily of course) strawberried out, so I chose blackberry-orange from the list of cordial recipe links I compiled. It happened to be the only recipe sweetened with agave nectar. I had some agave already because I needed it for a popsicle recipe. It has a nice mild flavor, somewhere between honey and corn syrup. I did worry I might not like the cordial since it came from a show called "Eat Yourself Thin", but figured I could always throw a bunch of sugar in it if it came to that.

It turned out great, and so different from the strawberry-cardamom one I made. Strawberry-cardamom was sweet, almost like a strawberry soda, but much milder because it was so diluted with sparkling water. Blackberry-orange is completely different. It reminds me of a mimosa. Not sweet. The fruit flavor is strong and the citrus really comes through. The reviews on the website call it "refreshing" and "bright", and I agree. It's very good. I don't know which I like better. Probably blackberry-orange, because it has a more intense flavor. It would be the perfect drink for a hot summer day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Syrups for Sparkling Water

An offshoot of my hunt for vodka infusion recipes has been the discovery of non-alcoholic cordial. Cordials are syrups, usually fruit-flavored, that are meant to be mixed with chilled sparkling water to make sodas. I did not know this. I mean, when I made an all-purpose strawberry syrup I added it to sparkling water, and I buy sparkling water+Torani syrup sodas from my local cafe, but I didn't know there were entire nations inventing syrup recipes specifically for fizzy water. Wow. I have been missing out, man. Maybe I never noticed because to me "cordial" means boozy, and "syrup" is an all-purpose word for sugary liquidy stuff. I used "syrup" and "cordial" interchangeably in the post because I haven't settled on one or the other. Neither sounds exactly right to me.

OK! Cordial time!

Strawberry-Cardamom Cordial

I know I've posted a million pictures of bottles of pink stuff that all look the same. I swear it is not the same bottle of stuff in every picture. Even though it really looks that way.

This is just great. Tastes great, smells great, looks beautiful. I'm crazy about it. The only downside is the sugar. I drink flavored sparkling water all the time, and usually buy the zero calorie kind, which this is not. However, adding two tablespoons to a glass of water doesn't seem like that much, and the drink it makes is very lightly sweet. I suggest measuring the two tablespoons, though--it's easy to add a lot more than that, and it tastes really good (not that I would know). Also, I didn't know how to bruise a cardamom pod, so I looked it up, and read to nick it with a knife, so the flavor, but not the seeds, would come out during cooking. Well, I am a big cardamom fan, and the flavor wasn't strong enough to suit me, so after tasting the mixture while it was cooking, I crushed the pods. A couple seeds did make it through the strainer, but I don't care.

I liked the Strawberry-Cardamom cordial (recipe is in the link list at the end of the post) so much that I wanted to find lots more cordial recipes. This was kind of aggravating, because there is no way to differentiate between syrup meant for pancakes and soda syrup, except by looking at the amount of sugar and water in the recipe, and also no way to know if it's an alcoholic cordial or not except, again, by looking at the recipe. I got the best results from adding "sparkling water" to the search terms. In other words, "peach cordial sparkling water", and if that yielded nothing, "peach syrup sparkling water".

The results of the hunt are in the link list below. Unless the recipe says otherwise, these syrups keep, refrigerated, for about a week.

Some call for citric or tartaric acid, preservatives which improve their longevity and enhance flavor (or so I read). They can be omitted, but then the cordial should be used within a week. I don't have any experience with these acids, so I don't know how much they affect flavor.

Caster sugar is superfine (not powdered or confectioner's) sugar.

You can strain through coffee filters or cheesecloth if you don't have the muslin some of the recipes mention. Cheesecloth might be the same thing as muslin anyway.

I included flavors I'm not familiar with if the recipe sounded good--I wouldn't know a rosella from a tube sock, but maybe you are not as challenged. I also have no idea where I would get fresh elderflowers, so for locals, there is an elderflower sparkling water by the brand Bottle Green at Dean & DeLuca, and when I was buying it, the cashier told me there is an elderflower cordial available too (she called it "concentrate"). I forgot to look for the cordial, but I will next time I am there. I liked the elderflower sparkling water.

9/11/11: I am going to update this post every now and then after I make some of these to give reviews. I have made Blackberry-Orange and Strawberry-Ginger-Mint. Both were very good. Blackberry-Orange was very flavorful and sweetened with agave nectar, so not too sweet, but sweet enough. I think I might have mentioned it in another post. Strawberry-Ginger-Mint was great! Really interesting flavor--it also has balsamic vinegar as an ingredient. The recipe said it would keep indefinitely, and it makes a lot, so it took me about a month to use it up and it does keep, it was totally fine.

9/22: Made Blood Plum, but I used black plums and vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean. Meh. It tastes great by itself and would make a fantastic ice cream soda, but not so hot in sparkling water. The plum flavor doesn't stand up to dilution, so all you taste is vanilla.

11/8: Found the Bottle Green elderflower cordial! It's really good! For New Yorkers, I found it at the Madison Dean&DeLuca. I have never seen it at the Soho one.

11/14 Found a clementine recipe which I just made and added to the list. Fast, easy, and good.

11/20 Made Blackberry-Verbena, which I just added to the list. I was put off by this recipe's supposed yield, 4 servings, but I had a blackberry surplus, so I decided to try it. It filled a bottle like the one in the top picture with about half a cup to spare. I guess it depends on how much you use, but they suggest one part cordial to three parts soda water, and following that ratio, it makes a lot more than four servings, so I don't know where they came up with that number. I was glad though! I used pineapple sage instead of lemon verbena. It turned out really well. Pressing the pureed blackberries through a sieve to extract the juice was a purple pain, but the flavor is very nice.

2/28 Made Vanilla Bean. It's the best vanilla I have made so far, but I wish it was a little more concentrated. I'm drinking a vanilla soda right now though, so I don't know what I'm complaining about. Also discovered a whole shelf of syrups at Dean&Deluca Soho, somehow I completely missed them before. I bought lingonberry, to recreate the Ikea cafeteria experience, and almost passed out when they rang it up. I think it was 16 dollars OMFG that is not an Ikea price. This is a good reason to make your own. I saw some other syrups (also expensive, but not quite as crazy) at the Bedford Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, but haven't tried them yet.

7/30  I have made Berry, Raspberry-Rosewater, and Blueberry.  All were good.  Berry is a good one to make to use up berries that are getting old. Raspberry-Rosewater is on the thick side, and the rosewater doesn't come through as much as I'd like, but it's still nice.  Blueberry is the real star.  You make it, and then leave in the fridge for 4+ days to infuse before straining, and damn it is good.  The best yet.  It calls for 40g of tartaric or citric acid, which totally confused me because my citric acid is a tiny little bottle of liquid, but it's an optional ingredient, so I just tossed in a few drops.



Blackberry Verbena

Blackcurrant and Lemongrass

Blood Plum






This has a lot of sugar, but also considerably more ginger than the other recipes I looked at. It looked the best to me, but I like strong ginger flavor. There are lots of other ginger recipes out there.


Ginger with Mint, Lime, and Cucumber
They suggest mixing this with ginger beer and Pimm's, not water, but it sounded so good I couldn't leave it out.

Ginger, Spiced

Gooseberry-Lemon Verbena

Key Lime





Lemon, Lime, and Bitters


Mango with Ginger and Lemongrass


Orange, Mint, Ginger and Anise
Unfortunately named "Tummy Tamer", but the flavors sound good.



Simple Syrup recipe

Sugar-heavy, but it was the best I found. I had to hunt for one that didn't have butter in it.


Pink Ginger

Pink Grapefruit








Rhubarb-Vanilla Bean


This is a syrup made with wine. It sounds good, so I'm including it.

Rosella (Australian Hibiscus)
You have to scroll down to find it.

Rosemary, Red Currant, and Orange

Star Anise
This is a page of cocktail recipes and you have to scroll down to "Antoine Peychaud" to find the Star Anise Syrup recipe. The recipe isn't a true cordial, it's a cocktail mixer, but I looked for an anise cordial recipe and this is the closest I found.



Strawberry, Ginger, and Mint


Strawberry-Rose Petal
I pasted this one rather than linking because it is in fucking annoying PDF.

If you’re lucky (and green fingered) enough to grow old-fashioned scented roses, then spare a handful or two of the petals to be added to this cordial. Store the cordial in the fridge and serve diluted to taste with sparkling mineral or soda water and plenty of ice. Or pour a generous glug over vanilla ice cream and add a handful of sliced summer berries for a scrumptious ice cream sundae.


300g caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
500g ripe hulled strawberries, quartered
2 handfuls of fragrant,unsprayed rose petals, washed
1 teaspoon citric acid
Put the sugar into a medium-sized pan and add 300ml of cold water.
Using a vegetable peeler, pare the zest from the lemon in strips and add
to the pan along with the squeezed lemon juice. Set the pan over a low
to medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, then bring to
the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the strawberries, rose petals and
citric acid. Gently crush the berries in the pan with the back of a spoon.
Leave the fruit and petals to steep in the syrup for about 4 hours.
Strain the cordial through a fine sieve or muslin, then pour into sterilised
bottles, seal and label. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.


Vanilla (Bean)

Vanilla (Extract)
This is a recipe for vanilla cream soda which includes a vanilla syrup recipe.


Monday, June 20, 2011

So much for the modeling career

of the Pekingese.

Friends ask me about Pekie sometimes. They worry she is a canine Cinderella, handed a broom and apron and left at home, while Lou is jetting fabulously around like a canine (pre-crazy) Howard Hughes. Well, Pekie was a stray (can you believe that--a stray Pekingese roaming the streets of Brooklyn!) and she has Issues. Some of her Issues, ranked by Level of Horror, are:

1. The Groomer
2. Storms
3. Trucks
4. Cars
5. Dogs
6. The Brush
7. Walking
8. Food That Is Not Fried Chicken (this was a battle that ended in compromise, so basically I lost)

You'll notice Lou has a leash and Pekie doesn't--that's because she normally moves with the speed of a turtle on crutches. But she is a bolter, and I forgot about that. Last year, in Maine, she made a beeline for the lake and headed out to sea! I didn't even know she could swim!

Anyway, it was early evening, she was unusually frisky, so I brought her along. She bolted. Into a busy street. YES it is my fault for not putting a leash on her. The bolt was partially captured by the camera.

We start out together

Pekie takes the lead

Pekie makes the turn and heads into the street

We got her out of the street before anything happened, but that ended the photo session. I should have known not to expose her to Horrors #3 and #4. And if you're wondering where her summer clip is, see Horror #1.

Did you notice my espadrilles? Very happy with them. Fate was on my side (for once). I bought a pair of Swedish Hasbeens like these

and although not madly in love (sorry Swedes), I thought they would be useful summer shoes. It's hard to find truly comfortable heels that aren't boots, for me, anyway. Then the summer ritual of chewed-up feet commenced; I wore sandals that destroyed one foot, and couldn't wear much of anything but ballet flats, so the Hasbeens stayed in their box.

Found myself at Beacon's Closet and discovered the Stella McCartneys! They are somewhat similar to the Hasbeens, because of the wooden sole, so I definitely don't need both. Back went the Hasbeens. I much prefer the Stellas--they have a higher platform and look kinda Japanese. She must have liked them too, because most of the models in her Spring RTW 2005 collection wore them:

(Daria would never wander off into the street.)

photos by Don Ashby,

Yes, 2005! They are that old. Yay for chewed-up feet and old shoes!

Stella Mccartney for H&M silk blouse, tank I ineptly tie-dyed myself with rubber bands, Lorie Lester silk shorts, Stella McCartney espadrilles.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Souvenir Venezia


This vintage (if you consider 1994 vintage--I was able to date it with some internetz sleuthing) Dries Van Noten shirt was such a good deal, I couldn't pass it up, even though I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Crazy souvenir postcard print? Great! But . . .brown and blue together, shiny, rayon, Hawaiian-ish. . .in other words, old man wearing black socks with sandals, smoking a cigarillo, maybe hanging out in front of a liquor store or OTB with his similarly attired friends. . .

I cast my doubts aside and built an aquatic Garanimal outfit around the shirt by adding a treasure of the seas necklace, pale watery green suede booties, a turquoise bra, and reindeer sweater shorts. The reindeer shorts didn't contribute much on the aquatic end, but for matchy-matchy Garanimal action, they made the outfit, I think.

A girl of five or so I passed on the street really liked it all. She complimented me head to toe, starting with my shoes. Probably the most compliments I've gotten in my life, so if you want to dress to impress [the kindergarten set], now you know what to wear.

Back view of the shirt with the treasure of the seas necklace and some vintage souvenir postcard books.

Dries Van Noten souvenir postcard print shirt, Forever 21 reindeer sweater shorts, sea treasure necklace from Etsy seller Bionicunicorn, Jeffrey Campbell 99 Tie in mint suede.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Is she feeling?

Feeling That Way

Are you feeling? You feeling that way too?

colored and graphite pencil on bristol, 17"x11"

Larger image on Flickr.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lou took off again

Yeah, said he found the decor "enervating" and the air conditioning inadequate, and next thing I knew, he was gone. He even swiped my phone and sent me pictures of the getaway! Lou, why?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Won't you smile a while for me?

Sara Smile

Decor-wise, I like anything with a face. Always have. I remember coming back from a birthday party when I was a kid with a package of dog stickers, going to my room, carefully sticking one dog in the center of every flat surface, drawers, doors, sides of furniture, etc., and then stepping back to survey the effect of a million dogs staring at me with great satisfaction. My mom was not as pleased.

I haven't changed at all since my dog sticker decorator days, so I was very excited to find these Heureux canisters (the four on the left, the others are vintage) by Belgian designer Sabine Rarebit at the MoMA design store.

They can stand at attention

They can also gossip, probably about your terrible cooking.

Oh damn, did I say they were from the MoMA design store? No, actually they were from the dollar store and cost 9.99 for all four. But I truly think (even though it was probably accidental) they are very well designed. If I had to choose four colors to make a set, I would never come up with bright red, deep green, light yellow, and lavender, but it's actually two pairs of complementaries (red and green, yellow and violet) and it totally works. Plus they are all smiling!

Now, I wonder if you can help me with a little dilemma. As well as faces, I am drawn to clear objects, so I love the Louis Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck.

But I found this at the dollar store for about 1/10th the price of the chair

Pros: Clear! Rubber duckies! Shells! Starfish! Ferns (?)
Cons: Not a whole chair. Not really a chair at all, a toilet seat with weird stuff embedded in it.

Do you think the duckies and shells make up for the lack of legs and back, and that it's not actually a chair? Do you think anyone would notice? I can't decide what to do.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Can you tell me how to get

On Saturday we went to some open studios. Took a few pictures on the way, and when I looked at them later, I was like, "Wow, awesome how the wrinkles in the garbage bag echo the gathers in my dress. This is the ugliest background I have ever seen, and god, I don't know what I can do, but I have to do something." Desperate, I begged Oscar to make a cameo appearance.

Heels would have looked better, tis true, but open studios always involve a lot of walking and stair-climbing, so it had to be flats. The dress is from last year's Costello Tagliapietra for Uniqlo collection. I really dig how rooted in the classical world those two are. What is better than a dress that makes you feel like Julius Caesar or the Venus de Milo? This is a Venus dress, but I got a Caesar dress from the recent collection, last month, I think. It has one sleeve and makes me want to point at things imperially. I will have to wear it soon.

So what did we see? Lots of things. We saw studios with huge windows and skyline views, prompting Lou to say, "I don't care in the slightest about getting to Sesame Street, can you tell me how to get one of those studios, I want it for my photography and my basking." "I WISH," I replied, and then I looked like this.

We saw a giant peanut wearing a necktie

We saw a flock of paper sheep

(Lou practiced his herding)

Thanks so much to Costello Tagliapietra for linking this post on their Facebook page!!! Wow, I am so flattered!!!
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Costello Tagliapietra for Uniqlo jersey dress, Rejoice the Hands porcupine quill earrings, French Sole ballet flats.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Poupette St. Barth

This is a tropical island dress, so Lou and I are doing a tropical island dance to go with it.

I don't actually have much experience with the island life, and I've never been to St. Barts. Tragic. I have, however, been to (beautiful!) Martinique. It was not easy to understand the people of Martinique, as a non-French speaker, but I did understand these questions, which I heard quite a bit: French? Italian? Creole? It made me sad that I was none of those cool things, particularly Creole. Look at their clothes:

Aren't the dresses wonderful? The bustles and plaid remind me so much of Vivienne Westwood (although these were around long before she was). I looked at the traditional dresses in the Martinique shops (ah, too long ago!), but couldn't and still can't see myself wearing one here, unfortunately. So I'm glad I found the Poupette dress. It has great textures: silk charmeuse, cotton crochet, and velvet ribbon, and it's as close to Creole as I'm going to get.

Poupette St. Barth batik print dress, Kork-Ease patent platform sandals, vintage enamel bracelet, vintage necklace.

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