Monday, November 22, 2010

On the holidays and the power of the masses

Omigosh, blog. Look at how good I was at updating ALL THE TIME and now two WEEKS have gone by. What the?? I'm going to blame it on the winter that has officially arrived in Londontown. It's a bone-chilling average of 5 degrees now (that's Celsius but I'm using here because it sounds fiercer) and it gets dark at four in the afternoon. FOUR IN THE AFTERNOON. Small children are still getting out of SCHOOL at four in the afternoon. And it looks like BEDtime. Needless to say, by the time I get out of school all I can think about are my sweats and wooly socks. Blog wha?

On the bright side, London loses its MIND during the holiday season. I think they string up lights as a mad way of compensating for all the darkness. I don't know how on earth I ended up at Oxford Circus during the busiest time of year, but I will NOT make that mistake again. But check out the giant Present in the Sky! Thank you, Oxford Circus, for the gift of insanity.

And Carnaby Street, in another shocking turn of events, has decided to kick last year's bizarre holiday decor of 'snowflakes' and 'Santa' and has gone instead for the ever-underappreciated, more traditional 'Holiday Solar System.' I think we can all breath a sigh of relief.

And unrelated to holiday festivities, I made it to the Ai WeiWei (which I pronounce as 'I wee-wee') Sunflower Seed exhibit at the Tate Modern! The guy had hundreds of sweat-shop workers helpers painting each of these ceramic sunflower seeds by hand. BY HAND. 

Lest you not understand the scope of this, let's zoom out a little:

And a little more:

Can you believe the size of this? There are over ONE HUNDRED MILLION SEEDS. ALL. UNIQUE. It's supposed to be some sort of commentary on the relationships between 'the individual' and 'the masses' and what it means to be part of a society, but I left that soul-searching to the security guard while I attempted to steal one.

This is why they roped off the seeds. Originally you were supposed to be able to tread on them, but due to 'dust hazards,' they closed it off. I think we all know who 'dust' is. COMMON MAN, LEFT TO HIS OWN DEVICES. Interpret THAT commentary on the individual, WeiWei. You know what the power of them working together means? NO MORE SUNFLOWER SEEDS.

I must head off now--I have a soup to make and more homework piling up! (Always, always.)

Big hugs and love,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Only in America

I GOT A PACKAGE! I GOT A PACKAGE! Words cannot express how happy this makes me. Sandwiched between Indian menus and cab cards was personal mail! I LOVE PERSONAL MAIL! And then when I opened it--and by 'opened,' I mean 'frantically shredded,' it JUST GOT BETTER: I received an item that can best be described as 'Only in America.'  Jenn, * you * * complete * * me. *

This is a PEPPER grill. A PEPPER GRILL! For all those wonderful jalapeƱos that you love to stuff with yummy oozy things and bake. I know I'm not alone here in my pepper-filled-love. And while yes, technically I didn't know this * existed * just a few days ago, I now can't imagine how I ever lived without it.  Prior to this I had to cross-section my peppers (think little jalapeƱo canoes) and it was always a big drippy mess, but now I can stick the peppers in upright! OH THE POSSIBILITIES! I think I need to have a party  and serve nothing but peppers JUST BECAUSE I CAN.

It also doubles as a cookbook holder.

Speaking of international treats, Aya came over yesterday so we could work on our latest project together (more model-making, oh yes) and brought this lovely Japanese dessert! 

They're chewy rice balls covered in this caramel-esque glaze that Aya made with soy sauce, sugar, and some corn starch. Hea-ven-ly.

I'm off now! Aya's returning to the wreckage that is our craft for a few more hours of slave laboring. * sigh * * but a happy one, because at least a friend will be here *

Big hugs and love,

*This is a banner week. Mon amie, I got your picture of Elena! Now she is totally on glorious display on my favorite living room shelf, right next to the photo of me and you holding her at the farmer's market. She makes the room so bright!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rambling, and some pictures of East Anglia.

So many nice things have happened lately that I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by goodness. Like yesterday morning I had a great chat with an old friend, and over the past couple of days I've received a few 'thinking of you' nudges from people that I love, which means so much, and also I'm getting to do a lot of neat things here in London-town and beyond. It's just too much. I'm just waiting for something to happen--BLAMMO!--to disrupt it. Probably in the form of my drawing teacher.

Speaking of, I have an absurd amount of homework due tomorrow. These are my best blogging conditions.

I need a cup of coffee. Please to hold.

Today is the sort of wonderfully quiet day that wants soup made and something baked.

I really hope some sort of homework-related urgency strikes soon.

Over the weekend I got some lemon and thyme olive oil from this farm shop in Norfolk and yesterday I added it to the cold pasta salad I bring to school for lunch every day (ingredients: pasta,  olive oil, a splash of white wine vinegar, a handful of cherry tomatoes, some crumbled feta or goat's cheese, and if I have them, some chopped scallions. Oh, and some cracked black pepper or red chili flakes on top. So easy so good!), and the seasoned olive oil made my pasta go from yum to YUMMMMMMMMMM. Officially addicted. Now wishing I got the mega-bottle rather than the sweet little artisan one. But it was so pretty.

Aya taught me the word for yummy in Japanese! It's 'oyshe!' Exclamation point required. I love Aya.

Omigosh, this is what I'm going to make today. Love love love.

That is, when I'm not hand-crafting a full-sized, wearable bird mask and wings. And writing a paper on cork.

These brownies will help. So will that carrot and orange soup.

Speaking of Norfolk, here are some pics from the weekend. It was An Authentic English Countryside Weekend Holiday, complete with fall colors, blustery beaches, lavender farms, and precious centuries-old villages.

And gnomes. Never forget the garden gnomes.

Hunstanton Beach

AND SANDRINGHAM! Okay, I had never even HEARD of this place prior to four days ago, but apparently it's just one of those things that Everybody Here Knows About Without Even Knowing How They Know, so maybe a lot of Americans know about it too and I'm just That Out of Touch, which let's be honest, wouldn't be much of a surprise. Anyway, Sandringham is the Royal Family's country hangout. You know, when they're bored with Windsor and Buckingham Palace. They come out here to do things like ride horses, and look at trees, and shop at the Sandringham Gift Shop, where they can buy postcards with their faces on them. Can you blame them? Look how gorgeous it is! It rivals any golf course in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

This is the gated entrance to the estate itself. They wouldn't open it for me, no matter how many times I sang my 'I've Come For You, Prince William' song:

I have way more photos to show you next time I have loads of homework to do, so get excited! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get to work on this soup bird project. I'm thinking about doing a penguin just so the wings are suitably anti-climactic. We also have to take photos of ourselves wearing our contraptions, so you may see me squawking around this blog soon. Depending on how they turn out. (Shoving the cardboard out of sight under the kitchen table.)

Big hugs and love!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oh yeah? Does a Philistine like stuffed birds??

After class today I headed across town to the V&A and Natural History Museums--in part because they're AWESOME and in bigger part because I had to for my drawing homework. But let's not focus on that latter reason when the former makes me sound so cultured.

One of my favorite things about the V&A and the Natural History Museum--other than their free-ness and rad gift shops--is the fact that you're allowed to take photos. Of EVERYTHING. I always feel drunk with power when I can wield my camera in a museum without a small Asian security guard squawking at me. (I miss you, SFMoMa.)

This statue KILLS me. When I first saw it, I was like, 'SWEET! The Romans knew how to raise their young!' but then I looked at the sign and it was all, 'Achilles Getting Dunked.' SO not the same. Though I have to hand it to his mom. A for Effort, Thetis. HILARIOUS.

What up, Rooster?

Okay, so this is wild: did you know that in Victorian times, people used STUFFED BIRDS as art? And not just one on a branch, like the dead pet parakeet that little Jane couldn't let go of, or some owl that your mustachio'd husband shot while hunting the foxes with the hounds, but a FULL, WALL-SIZED windowed CABINET full of them. Like the one above, which dates at least as far back as 1819. This was one-sixteenth the size of the entire display. Victorians, you are tricky tranny hot mess FIERCE. Why buy hummingbird wallpaper when you can kill and mount a hundred real ones? And yet...I was strangely drawn. Like a hummingbird to a feeder right before its brains got blown out.

I've got to run now--I'm going to see David Mamet's House of Games at the Almeida tonight! I picked tonight's performance because it's captioned--and anybody who's ever had to endure a movie with me knows how I love my subtitles...! ('You just get so much MORE!')

Big hugs and love!