A little peter pan: by J

Reading K’s post reminded me of how much I love Peter Pan. It’s one of those books that beautifully withstands growing up. Barrie, having been a playwright doesn’t pander to a young audience, and the book moves with a surprisingly adult and clever humor.

Of course I was familiar with the story as a child. However, I am not sure I actually read it until a Children’s Literature course in University.

I had no idea K loved Peter Pan. That’s what I love about our little blog, I get to learn things about her I might never have known otherwsie.

Just after reading her post, I got an email from J Crew about peter pan collars, and I thought what a lovely way to hold onto fairytales in an adult world.

I must admit, as per my uniform post, I can be pretty shy about trends or even really specific styles. Boring, I know right?

Thus, I wasn’t sold on it until I saw the beautiful Valentina di Pinto via Citizen Couture, pictured below.

Umm , yes please. That’s all I’ll say.

(ps I had to remind myself she’s a stylist and fashion consultant, so I wouldn’t feel bad)

Finally,

I would like to append Peter Pan to the Summer Reading list.

And.

Here’s a little DIY peter pan collar for you crafty ladies via HONESTLY…WTF.

Happy Friday

xo J

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Favorite Fairy Tale: J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, by K

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Like a lot of us out there in the world I grew up on fairy tales. Mostly the Disney kind.  A most exciting week night event in the young lives of my sister and I was when dad would come home from work in his suit and tie, one hand holding his jacket, the other behind his back. We knew what this meant – a new Disney VHS for our collection. What will it be this time? Sleeping Beauty?? Dumbo? Aladdin? No matter what it was – new or old – we would be uncontrollably excited and would, obviously, watch it immediately eight times. My sister and I are very well versed in the Walt Disney collection. I think the first time my mom really questioned her mothering skills was when she couldn’t separate me from the TV after introducing me to Dumbo at 2 years old.  What had she done!?

What she and my dad had done was introduce me to the world of good old fashioned story telling from a very young age. So it was no surprise that as I grew older I became more interested in the written stories these fantastical, uplifting, beautifully animated Disney movies came from. This opened up a whole new world for me and I fell deeply in love. I couldn’t believe how dark the original stories were.

J.M. Barrie’s The Adventures of Peter Pan has become one of my top five favorite reads of all time. The beauty of this story blew me away. The character of Peter Pan is heartbreaking. He is a tortured soul so desperate to hold onto innocence, so afraid of what growing up will do to his soul. J.M. Barrie’s Neverland is a frightening and lonely place where everything is pretend – real emotion doesn’t exist. Peter and the lost boys are introduced to real feelings of love and loss through Wendy.  The lost boys realize that even with the pain of loss, there is so much pleasure in really feeling something.  But Peter is not convinced. He is determined to stay as far away from pain as he can and in this way isolates himself even further, becoming a very empty soul.

I have two favorite moments in this story. The first is when we are introduced to Peter in Neverland:

“They do seem to be emerging out of our island, don’t they? The little people of the play, all except that one sly one, the chief figure who draws farther and farther into the wood as we advance upon him? He so dislikes being tracked, as if there were something odd about him. That when he dies he means to get up and blow away the particle that will be his ashes…” – J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan). 

Not only an amazing visual, but also such insight into this sad main character.  The second moment actually gave me chills the first time I read it. At the end of the story Wendy gives Peter three chances to leave Neverland and be adopted by her mother along with the lost boys. She tells him that for three nights she will keep her window open and on the third night her mother will close the window and lock him out forever.  Peter visits the window each night but his pride won’t allow him to enter no matter how badly he wants to.

“Mrs. Darling closes and bars the window.  At this moment there is no longer any second chance to go either in or out…” – J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

There is nothing Peter feels that we can’t relate to and along with Peter we are reminded why it is necessary to grow up and experience love and loss. Which is why the end is so incredibly dark. We know he has made a huge mistake by letting his pride keep him in Neverland and how by staying he goes against everything he claims to be.  There is no happy ending for Peter. Even more amazing is the comparison made between Peter and his evil nemesis Hook – a man who stayed in Neverland far too long:

“The curtain rises to show Peter a very Napoleon on his ship. It must not rise again lest we see him on the poop in Hook’s hat and cigars, and with a small iron claw…” – J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

The illustrations I’ve included in this post are from none other than the amazing Arthur Rackham.  A big, scary goal of mine is to someday illustrate these dark moments in my own style. I am not ready yet – They feel far too special for me to touch right now. But someday!

xoxo k

Woody Allen: I only kind of get it, by K

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Like J I wasn’t really introduced to Woody Allen until my late 20’s.  But I think that makes sense. I am not sure I would have been able to appreciate any of his work before then. That being said I only kind of get the whole Woody Allen thing.

I was gearing up to see Midnight in Paris and having only seen one other Woody Allen movie – Vicki Christina Barcelona – I thought it would be a good idea to catch up on some of his older works. So I had a Woody Allen marathon. Don’t ever do that. Don’t ever watch more than one Woody Allen movie in one sitting.  Thank goodness I started with Annie Hall. At least I have good memories of that one. But by the time I got to Crimes and Misdemeanors I wasn’t laughing anymore.

I am being a bit harsh. But the truth is after just three of about 8,000 Woody Allen movies I was pretty much done. From his older works I enjoy Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters. Mostly because he really knows how to capture the flavor of New York City. The people, the streets, the attitude, the colors…you can almost smell the 1970’s city streets while you’re watching. Delicious.

His modern work is a different story. Vicki Christina Barcelona was good for three reasons: 1, Penelope Cruz 2, Javier Bardem and 3, I got to see Barcelona for the first time. Everything else was terribly annoying. Midnight and Paris was great for 2 reasons: 1, Marion Cotillard 2, Paris at night.  And To Rome With Love was watchable only because of, once again, Penelope and Rome. Just like with NYC he has a real knack for transporting his viewers into the magic of these cities.  I won’t take that away from him.

What I will take away from him is his ability to capture the human spirit this late in his career. I think he lost it. For whatever reason I do not relate to any of his modern day American characters. I find them extremely irritating and would not befriend any of them in real life. I’d actually run the opposite direction. His European casts are a different story – I just love all of the Italian actors in To Rome With Love. They felt like real people with real problems.  Plus they are all beautiful and who doesn’t like watching beautiful people. Unfortunately after seeing To Rome With Love I will never ever watch another Ellen Page movie ever again. I am sorry if that is harsh but holy crap I did not get her character AT ALL. And Scarlet Johansson’s character in Vicki Christina Barcelona? Really? Was I supposed to admire her “adventurous spirit” and therefore take up photography? Because I didn’t do either of those things.

Maybe I am missing the point. Maybe Woody Allen agrees with me and is trying to show us Americans what we look like and how awful we can be. That is why he continues to compare us to these fabulous European characters. Or maybe he thinks whining about every stupid trivial thing in your life is interesting and makes us (Americans) deep and funny. And thoughtful.  hmm.

Whatever his reasons I will probably watch his next film on mute.

“I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.” – Woody Allen

xoxo k

Woody Allen: some thoughts by J

Does it ever happen to you where you just don’t get something and then suddenly you do? That’s how it was with Woody Allen for me.

The man, the artist. I truly can’t say I am any expert on the matter in any way.

And for the most part I’ve shyly hid my embarrassment with having not seen most of his works. The man is prolific.

In any case, it wasn’t until I saw Annie Hall that I was able to fully appreciate his work. It was one of those times where I understood why everyone always says it’s their favorite Woody Allen film, or simply their favorite film.

I fell in love with Diane Keaton. She has an allure that is so much more than just beauty.

Which leads me to my disappointment in To Rome With Love. I love Rome and I love Penelope Cruz, I figured it would be an easy sell. But, it just fell a little flat to me. Also, Jesse Eisenberg growing up to be Alec Baldwin?

However, I will say I would love to dress like Judy Davis in the film, when I am in my 50’s (or right now actually).

I’ll leave you with my favorite Woody Allen quote: “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.”

xo J

Four Generations by K

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I come from a pretty large family – both of my parents are italian and therefore there are lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins etc… on both sides. We were all lucky enough to grow up in the same 40 – 50 mile radius and so it was easy for my parents to make sure as children my sister and I spent lots of time with the family. It was important for them that we had actual relationships with our cousins. I am really thankful for that and realize as I grow older how rare that connection is in other families.

As with any family we all grew up and went our different ways. Some of us stayed close, others for whatever reason became holiday and birthday card pen pals. But that bond our parents nurtured between us as babies does not seem to weaken no matter how much time goes by.

Saturday we had four generations of Labriola’s at my parents house. I didn’t think much of it until we were all sitting together at the table. We don’t see this side of the family that often – we honestly could not remember the last time we were all together like that – but the beautiful part was the level of comfort had not changed a beat. My 84 year old crazy grandpa sat quietly off to the side watching his sons laugh and reminisce with their growing families. I caught up with my first cousins who I hadn’t seen in years and got to know their three adorable children who brought us back to our childhood – running around in wet bathing suits, begging our parents for permission to go in the pool for just a little longer and can we PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE have a sleep over!!! Oh to be 6 again.

The best part of the day was knowing we all felt how special it was without having to say it. When everyone left we, of course, promised we’d make this happen more often and how silly we had let so much time go by etc… even though we all know there’s an excellent chance another 5 to 10 years might pass before we have a day like that again. But that’s OK. We did it and I am so happy we did. There’s nothing like the comfort of family and knowing no amount of time or distance can make that go away.

xoxo k

A lazy saturday: By J

Saturday was one of those days that blurs past in a haze of all encompassing nothingness.

It began Friday when we celebrated two friends’ birthdays in one crab filled eat fest at R & G Lounge, an absolute SF fixture in my opinion. The salt and pepper crab is where it’s at.

R & G Lounge is one of those old school places that is always packed. There is nothing trendy about it, just good Chinese food served up in a space that feels like someone’s basement from the 60’s. Think a lot of wood paneling.

I figure there might be a nicer upstairs, but have yet to be seated there if it exists. (Am I the only one who has paranoid thoughts that there are better places that are some how reserved for other people?)

Then back to our place with everyone for Apples to Apples, which I failed at by the way. I didn’t even win 1 round. I did succeed at making some tasty whiskey sours though.

Suffered from a major food hangover on Saturday. I’m going to pretend it was just a food hangover. More like a food and drink induced stupor. Leading me to do literally nothing all day. The couch and the little guy pictured above were my partners in crime. That’s Lego, aka the rescue scruff.

He is awesome at being lazy.

Sunday was much more productive, notably, we ordered the hubs suit from Taylor and Stitch’s pop-up custom suit shop.

Happy Monday,

xo J

Ps, that is Lego at his cutest, he also has a weird old man face, but I figure like all of us, only fair to put his best face forward on the internet.

Summer Reading: by J

Ha, oh goodnes, responding to K’s post feels like showing up to class and having no idea that there was a test.

Yes I love books, I swear I really do.
I did my degree in English Literature so that I could read novels, seriously, that’s how I decided.

But for some crazy reason, I have just not been reading much lately, well if you don’t count blogs as reading.

I have random reading spurts, where I devour three books in a row, love them, and then nothing. Then I start to read something, and I put it down, and I just meander through it until the end, but this goes on for weeks or months, and then I just don’t read anything for awhile.

Does that ever happen to you? Where you stop doing something that you love, that you used to do all the time, and you are not entirely sure why?

So I guess what I am saying in a round about way, is that I don’t have a whole lot to report as far as summer reading goes.

I will say that I read Cormac Mcarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, but didn’t like it nearly as much as I loved Blood Meridian.

A book that is amazing for summer reading is The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss. It is just so well-written and sweet.

My all time number one book which I love passionately, and will defend as being one of the greatest works of literature of all time, just because I love it that much is 100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This is a great summer read, winter read, spring, fall, this book needs no season.

The image above is from this excessively hip antique store in the Mission (one of my fave SF neighbourhoods) called Viracocha, where for $10/month you can take away 1 book at a time. If it was a little closer to me, I would likely utilize what I would assume is their well-curated collection to boost my reading back to its old glory.

That’s all for now, please feel free to share your fave summer reading, guilty or not, in the comments,

xo J

Summer Reading: A sophisticated summer by K

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Summer reading lists are different for everyone. Generally speaking the beach reads section at most book stores is stacked with bubble gum for the brain love stories, mystery novels, Sex and the City spin offs etc… And this makes sense. Who wants to think about character development when you’re sitting on the beach or on vacation – a place where along with time, your life and all that goes with it seem to be on pause.

For whatever reason I have gone a different route this summer. I usually don’t find any satisfaction, even fleeting, in the bubble gum books so it’s not that surprising my summer reading list this year did not include any Jennifer Weiner novels.  However, that being said my list did consist of an actual history text book. I seem to have gone to the other extreme.

It all started with my re reading of the Tim O’brien classic, The Things They Carried. I read this in high school, again in college and now for my third time 7 years later I finally decided to educate myself on the back drop of this novel. O’brien was an actual soldier in the Vietnam War and wrote a collection of stories from his experience and the experiences of his fellow soldiers. It is a very real, heart breaking depiction of what it means to be a boy too young to drink but some how old enough to be thrown into a war he doesn’t understand with zero preparation emotionally, mentally and even physically for the hell he is about to endure.

I am ashamed of how little I know about the Vietnam War. I blame my high school history teacher for my ignorance but that is a discussion for a different post. So I picked up A People’s History of the United States.  I highly recommend adding this book to your library for moments when you realize you know nothing about our country’s history.   This ‘text book’ covers every major happening in our nation’s history from 1492 to present day but not in the boring factual way we are used to. Instead Howard Zinn had the genius idea of putting together first hand accounts of the people that experienced it all. People like factory workers, women, men, Native Americans, Immigrants, laborers and so on. Not only is it accurate and educational, but it is easy and pleasant to read and literally brings you back in time with the people that were there in the flesh. It is the way history should be taught. I actually couldn’t put down the chapter on the Vietnam War.

Next stop was a book on writing. For any avid readers out there who miss their college english classes – this is a fun read. It’s called, Reading like a Writer  written by Francine Prose.  It’s a book for people who love reading novels and would someday maybe like to write one themselves. But really it’s a book about great books and why they are so great. She dissects specific author’s use of words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters and how to use the language to tell a story that makes you feel. I am a painter and reading Prose discuss how to pick the right word or the write couple of words was not unlike what I go through when I am picking a color or when I’m deciding how to apply a brush stroke.  She does an inspiring job breaking down the beauty of the written word.  She also encouraged me to add about 15 more novels to my ‘must read before I die’ list.

Side note – another book on writing that I just recently added to my Amazon shopping cart is Stephen King’s, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I’ve heard amazing things about this one so I am really excited to get my hands on it.

And right now I am in the middle of The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Like most of his admirers, my love for Dostoevsky of course began with Crime and Punishment. I definitely need to be in the right state of mind plus have a lot of solid reading time on my hands to get into a Russian novel – but when you find that time, there really is nothing like it. I am loving this and also loving the bit of history I’ve read on Dostoevsky. He had quite the life and it’s no wonder he can write 600 + pages on just one emotion or idea while keeping his readers in a trance.  I had no idea he had been sentenced to death in prison for protesting against the government, only to be let off the hook moments before his execution. That is just the tip of the iceberg apparently.  Knowing more about his life in conjunction with his quote on the back cover, made The Idiot a must read for me. “My intention is to portray a truly beautiful soul.” That he does. While portraying the world we live in as no place for that beautiful soul.

J and I share a deep love of literature, so I am curious to know what author’s she’s spent her summer with.

xo k

Late Night Eating: The Rules by K

The main thing to remember about late night eating if you do it right and start after 10pm, in a fairly dark place with no one watching, is it doesn’t count. No calories will be absorbed, guilt disappears, crumbs can fall wherever you need them to fall and no one will judge you. Also, the faster you eat the less chance the eating ever even happened… That is my rule when it comes to m&ms in a movie theater. If I literally pour the m&ms in my mouth instead of eating them like a proper human being one by one, it basically never happened.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all of that were true? Because these are rules I would have no problem following. The sad part is when this is all happening and I have essentially crawled into the refrigerator in my dark kitchen – they are true. It’s amazing what your brain will rationalize in this type of scenario. Not so different from when I return an expensive item of clothing to a store and am suddenly rewarded with “free” money from said store and therefore absolutely must purchase something new. With my “free” money. Sometimes I feel like my brain is not on my side.

Back to the topic at hand – my late night food of choice, if potato chips are not in the vicinity, would have to be cheese. Cheese and bread. For the Calcium.

I admire J’s energy so late at night. I too enjoy cooking – but the trouble with cooking your late night snack is you are allowing way too much time to think about what you are doing, what time it is and how this will effect you in the morning both emotionally and physically.  I can’t stress enough that the key here is speed and simplicity. I guess in J’s case she had a partner and really that is the only exception to the rule of speed and simplicity. If you have a partner in crime, then all bets are off and there is absolutely 100% nothing wrong with what you are doing.

My top three favorite cheeses: Taleggio, Fontina, and FRESH salted Mozzarella from here and nowhere else – unless I am in Italy. Oh wait… I can’t forget Burrata. Never forget Burrata.

xoxo k

Late night eating: midnight pasta by J

Saturday night I was out with the girls. Upon returning home a little before midnight, I discovered the hubs had waylaid dinner with a mix of pre-dinner snacks the girls and I had eaten, a few cocktails, and work.

What to do? Knowing him, he would have sufficed with an oversized bowl of cereal or a handful of almonds. However, I was feeling a little energetic, and knew we had a couple of things kicking around in the fridge that might make a simple pasta dish.

Since I haven’t been working in SF due to visa restrictions, and an extreme case of “what do I want to do with my life?”, I have been doing a lot of two things, well three if I’m honest with myself. Yoga and cooking (and reading blogs).

Hence the willingness to cook midnight pasta. Knowing myself, once I throw in a career and possibly a few little people, there will be markedly less home cooked meals.

That being said, this pasta would also be great for a weeknight meal. It is simple and satisfying. This makes a lot of pasta for 1 person or a small amount for 2, which would be great with grilled meat, a salad, etc.

My recipes are always very rough, because I don’t really use recipes when I cook, so feel free to ask any other questions you might have in the comments.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small zucchinis cut in rough chunks of about equal size
  • a little leftover marinara, roughly 1/2 a cup (which you could forego in a pinch)
  • a handful of pasta (I like this gluten free brand because you can still cook it al dente)
  • a clove of garlic, minced or thinly sliced
  • a touch of dried oregano, or fresh parsley, or any green herb of your choice
  • a blob of any cheese, I used a soft cow’s milk, feta would work, goat cheese would be delicious, buratta out of this world, but whatever you have on hand would be fine
  • and of course salt, pepper, olive oil and optional chili flakes

Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it (pasta water should be salty as the sea), and add a touch of oil. Sautee the zucchini and garlic on medium-high in a large pan with olive oil. Season with your dried herbs (if using fresh, reserve them for adding at the end), salt and pepper, and chili flakes if you like a little heat.

After the zucchini starts to brown, add your marinara. Just after you start to cook the zucchini add your pasta to the water, and cook al dente. When you drain your pasta, be sure to reserve a cup of pasta water.

Once the sauce is ready (the zucchini are tender) add the pasta and toss, adding additional pasta water if the pasta becomes too sticky. Finish with your fresh herbs, heap it on your favorite plate or bowl, and top with the cheese of your choice.

Once you get the hang of it, the pasta and the sauce will be ready at the same time. However, in the mean time it is fine for the pasta to sit drained, or for the sauce to be turned off. You just don’t want limp pasta or mushy zucchini.

Despite already having dinner here and cupcakes from here I still helped myself to a few bites.

What’s your midnight go to?

xo J