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Posts from the ‘funny’ Category

A New Years resolution that will last a lifetime!

Like everyone else, January brings a set of New Year full of promise and good intentions. But six weeks into the new year and 80% of us have likely ditched their diet or stopped going to the gym. I’m here to tell you I’m still going strong on mine! More on that in a minute.

Restrictions on foods seem to come from those who love food the most. I was having lunch with a self-described foodie who then proceeded to tell me everything they could not eat. Another fruit-loving-friend told me she was going keto and had to give up bananas—fruit—all together! Ketosis, it’s a good thing? It sounds contagious.

Living in California, I  can’t avoid reminders about the latest diet fad! There is the Whole 30, the Zone, the Paleo, the Raw Food diet, the Boiled Egg Diet, the Volumetric diet , the Master Cleanse diet, the Grapefruit , the Vegan Diet, the Macrobiotic Diet.

It’s not that I blame anyone for wanting a fresh start or to take control of their diet, it just seems like we’re going about it the wrong way in America. Diets create some many rules and we have so little time to apply them. Are they all designed to fail? Probably. Not my new diet!

I just got back from France, where it is sacrilege to not start every morning with a croissant, a pain au raisin or a warm slice of baguette slathered in buerre and jam. Sometimes all three! There is no guilt here, no questioning of one’s food choices (the baker will never question if you ask for five croissants to go). The food isn’t somehow substituted, no attempts to trick your mind or body, it is just pure pleasure.

I hate to admit that with a pain au chocolate in my mouth, I was thinking about my diet, too. I was thinking about what would be something I could stick to and stay on for as long as possible. I call it the Kilo diet. In the Kilo Diet, a large slide of French bread with a lovely hunk of butter are daily requirements (pastries are acceptable substitutions too). A rich glass of red wine and a chunk of cheese are rightly considered heaven on earth. And pâté, pâté, pâté.

In truth, I am tired of letting food and restrictions from a new hype diet permeate my brain. The Kilo Diet is really just to let food be food. It’s an acknowledgement of simple pleasures: you eat the things that make you happy, that give you pleasure and that can satiate you physically and emotionally (like my kid who demands a strawberry tart every time she comes home to visit). And you know what? Kilos be damned. Who cares! Carpe diem, not carpe diet.

Anyway, I have got to go! I am on a mission to find chestnut ice cream. Yes, there is such a thing, it is has sugar glazed chestnuts and more fat in one tbsp than some food regimens recommend for a week! Ah, only the French could invent something so perfect for my Kilo Diet.

 

 

 

 

Midcentury modernism a midcentury later.

Midcentury Modernism.

Is it in? Out? I’m thinking a little of both. When Target introduced their Project 62 line, I knew the cat was out of the bag (more like the shag was out of the bag!). At least with this line, dedicated to all aesthetics midcentury, it’s a good looking bag. Target is selling shag rugs in pink, wooden furniture to your heart’s delight  and the chairs are more rectangular, all adorned with rounded wooden feet.

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All things midcentury modern are hot and now the style seems a part of the common vernacular. It’s a little dizzying for me! Remember all that stuff your aunt had that you hoped she would never give you? Brown dinnerware, copper lights and the olive green walls? If only we had known, we could be rich right now!

Brands like Heath Cermanics and DWR have long-known that midcentury is très in but with Target joining in on the aesthetic, the look becomes accessible to a whole new demographic. Besides, is it Heath ceramics or it Target? Only your wallet will know!

 

I love the idea of making this kind of design accessible to anyone. It’s fascinating to witness in what forms the past gets picked up. What appeals to the popular culture? What becomes the symbol for that era? Is it copper? Spindly light fixtures? Dark wood furniture or just the good old shag rug?

 

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When I visited Los Angeles earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about the unfussy, democratic nature of mid-century modern architecture. There’s something appealing about the strident lines and simple silhouettes.

 

 

 

But we can’t spend too much time looking backwards! The Project 62 line is about revisiting the past but not reinventing it. It can all end up being a little boring, frankly. My favorite pieces end up being the one that take on a mid-century shape but add in some modern colors (peacock blue) or fabrics.

I just hope that Target realizes there are things from the past we shouldn’t ever revisit (like post-modernist furniture or shoulder pads).

How I Fell Out of Love

It’s over and admittedly, this was not the first time. I’ve reached an age where inevitably a few relationships just didn’t work out along the way. Falling out of love is par for the course in anyone’s life. But this time? I thought this relationship would last forever—that it one would not disappoint and that we would grow old together happily, our lives intertwined.

It’s over, Apple.

Look, I’ve tried, really tried. I have tried to forgive the design flaws. The ugly camera lens that juts from the back of the iPhone and the weird white band on the back. There’s the terrible battery life which has me carting an extra battery pack (sometimes two) and don’t get me started on the countless vestigial cables that have less compatibility than oil and water.

(I will not even talk about the watch. Are they still making them?)

 

I’ve had an iPhone for ten years and I’ve been using Mac computers since the 1990s. Trouble had been brewing in paradise for awhile but it all went down hill with the earphone problem. In an effort to make a slimmer phone, the conical earbud port had to go. But I now need two pairs of ear phones: one for my phone and one for my computer. And there’s no adapter (I swear, look on amazon) to add a headphone jack!

I do admit: I’m a hypocrite. I used to criticize Microsoft and its products, remarking on their ugly design, their intransigent rules and operation systems that functioned something like my way or the highway? Now, I need an IT specialist to figure out my iCloud everytime I sync my phone to my computer!

Apple, what happened? You were carefree, full of simple enthusiasm and easy to get along with. What happened to us? Where did we go wrong?

I miss you, Steve.

It is just too much baggage, Not emotional but physical: I go out I am carrying ten kilos worth of phone equipment and every time I have to go through the packing list:  battery pack? Check. Cord and charger? Check. Earphones for my iPhone? Earphones for my computer? Check, check. The ugly case I hate? Check. A valium and pain killer to get me through this technological hellscape? Check and check.

But the final straw? The new Apple HQ designed by Norman Foster. (This was coming: I’m an architect, what did you expect?) Maybe some of you think this is a marvelous piece architecture and don’t get me wrong, I strongly admire Norman Foster’s work but this headquarters is all wrong. It’s wrong on so many levels: anti-urban, anti-social, elitist, environmentally insensitive. And who has been spreading gossip that working millennials love open-concept spaces? You know what millennials love? Privacy.

Apple: you cannot be a forward-thinking company with backward thinking policy. I gave up Uber for Lyft and now I will have to give up Apple for Samsung. Sorry it has been grand but I just don’t love you anymore.

(except the AirPods, I’ll be keeping those)

 

 

 

Back to “Average”

I am a a fan of the exceptional: beautiful items of clothing, stunning meals of unusual ingredients, architecture that pushes the boundaries of physics. But the exceptional is only palpable if other things aren’t (exceptional, that is).
In an attempt to make every moment of our lives noteworthy, we seem to constantly want the exceptional. A kind of exceptionalism that seeps into all elements of our life: new headquarters meant to revolutionize working spaces, new makeup technology that will fight the signs of aging.

I went to a beautiful dinner a few weeks ago at a gastronomical hot-spot. The French chef imbues memory and heritage into every dish but in a ten course meal, nearly course was over-wrought and over-thought. Not only was each course only one small bite, every dish had something in it that was not edible. What! When did this become fashionable and the norm in high end restaurant?! Is this what I pay extra for?   And because each dish was a thesis unto itself, once the meal  was over I could hardly remember what the chef was trying to tell me and why it mattered. And you may think I’m being dramatic but even the great Heston Blumenthal agrees that molecular gastronomy is over.
Two nights later, while watching the Chef’s Table, I agonized as the lead chef assembled every dish with tweezers. Ingredients pulled from the Andes, caviar made of moss and nearly microscopic leaves. These exceptional meals are of course proving a kind of ethos, a representation of the self within food. But…have you ever noticed how exhausting it is? It’s not a sustainable life-force! In the episode, even the wife of the featured chef iadmitted some of the dishes did not taste good! So now each dish is composed of the edible food that tastes bad and non-edible elements that you cannot swallow.
Why does every newsworthy recipe now involve molecular gastronomy, a sous vide machine and in-depth understanding of umami, favor profiles and notes? Why can’t my dinner include six ingredients, not sixty seven? When did a ladle become a faux pas in the kitchen? As the ladle is replaced by the tweezer, common sense is being replaced by the preposterous.

This is over complication. Some things just need to be average so we can survive: so we can make it to the next step of whatever we’re going to do.
And look, average does  not mean mediocre or uninspiring.  It is just more approachable and appropriate, something we could all use in food design and—dare I say, even architecture.

Sometimes, it’s better to be perfect than innovative

I focus a lot on innovation and modernity: how can we keep looking forward and improving on the commonplace. But the truth is, there is something exceptionally valuable about someone who is also a perfectionist in their time and within their profession.

One of my great loves is cooking. And one of my favorite indulgences is cookingware. I love reading about molecular gastronomy and new ways to consume food. But as any chef will tell you, it is your knives that are the most important.

Over the years, I have invested in some good knives. I have watched videos online on how to sharpen your knives and have attempted it many times but never with much luck. After a friend’s recommendation, I went to his knife sharpener. A man in a small boutique where he has been for over thirty years. I left him my knives. And he was good. He was so good, in fact, I had to relearn how to hold my knives because they were so sharp now…a couple of deep cuts later I learned. Cutting and dicing has a new pleasure and ease. The knives seems even sharper than when I bought them. Thank you, North Beach Columbus Cutlery.

His job isn’t necessarily glamorous or innovative. He isn’t pushing the limits or boundaries of his craft but he excels at it. And he is so exceptional that he is memorable. It takes time to be good at what you do, no matter what it is. But it takes passion and commitment to be able to call oneself a perfectionist and produce that kind of work. It also truly takes a diligence that I admire: the ability to work on the same shape, same structure and make continuous, minute changes.

There’s less glamor in it, of course. HuffPo won’t feature him as “The World’s Best Knife Sharpener,” BuzzFeed won’t make an article like “You Won’t Believe What this Man Can Do!” but his work is still important and immensely satisfying.

 

 

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