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11 posts from May 2008

31 May 2008

What Posh Has For Lunch


So, you're Posh Spice and you're off for lunch at New York's latest powerhouse restaurant Lever House, where a whole brigade of chefs is ready to tantalize your tastebuds with exquisite morsels.

So apparently, according to fashion blog Fashion Addict Diary you order

- a mixed green salad with balsamic vinegar

- steamed veggies

- a fruit plate

- sparkling mineral water

Hotel Careyes

The one problem with Mexico is that it's BIG.  And full of mountains.  Which makes getting around pretty difficult.

When we first started researching our holiday, we fondly imagined that we'd be able to see a few different places in very different parts of the country, but we soon realised that we would be racking up many hours and many dollars in plane flights as it's difficult to travel great distances in the car.

But we didn't just want to say in a big impersonal resort and so when we found a really great deal on the boutique-y Hotel Careyes on Luxury Link (how I love this site) we jumped at the chance.

When we told people that we were driving 150 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, people looked at us as if we were crazy, but I think that's because many American travellers are not very adventurous. True, the road through the Sierra Madre was a bit twisty and turny, but in pretty good condition and nothing like some of the truly terrifying roads we've driven on in Greece and Turkey.

We arrived at the hotel at midnight and were unable to ascertain whether it was 'colourful' (the Minx's key criterion for a good hotel).

She really needn't have worried.


We were also lucky enough (it was late in the season remember) to get an upgrade on the room, which was simply furnished, absolutely enormous and featured a large jacuzzi in the middle.  The decor was a little tired, but the hotel is apparently due for renovation, so catch it while it's still even vaguely affordable.


305I swear the jacuzzi got more use than ever before, as  the Minx LOVED it and would swim in it every morning while we lounged in bed.












El Careyes has an interesting history - an eccentric Italian built the resort and neighbouring villas and casitas in this remote enclave of the Costalegre coast back in the 50s, hoping to create a Mexican version of Portofino.  There's even a polo field nearby.

It's nothing like as developed as Portofino (one of my favourite places in the world - do you have any idea how much I miss Italy?) is now, but apparently Careyes is quite the celeb hangout around Christmas.

In May though it's almost too quiet and sleepy - we had fun escaping to the funky little town of Barra de Navidad which was very Mexican and reminded us a bit of cute Southern European resorts such as Kas in Turkey and Nafplio in Greece - that is, until Heidi Klum turned up.

30 May 2008

The Lab - Chemistry


From left to right along the couch:  the back of John Tusher's head, me, Elaine Decorno, Mary Shelterrific, Megan Not Martha  (Photo courtesy of Eliza Truitt Photography)

So, guess who's the Italian in this picture?

The Lab was fab.  John and Ali from Velocity had done a spectacular job drumming up an even higher turnout than the first one (John's going to have to get a bigger showroom) and everyone had come armed with loads of thought-provoking questions so it felt just like chatting with old friends.  I hope I didn't come across as too drunk.


My fellow panellists were all fascinating and have fabulous taste in shoes.  John is the new Oprah.

Things I Learned:

- The way to drum up lots of comments on your blog is to write posts saying "xxxx - yes or no?" and/or write about bacon 

- Pink hoses make people very excited (!)

- I MUST HAVE Elaine Decorno's handbag

- People in Seattle are lovely and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


I didn't even begin to chat to all the people I wanted to meet, but it was lovely to speak to Still Dottie (who rocks the platinum blonde crop I've always wanted but never dared to have); Kim who makes stunning handmade books; the fabulous-as-always Stanford Blatch-alike Uncle Beefy (we were wondering where all the male design bloggers are?), the very lovely Danielle from Apartment Therapy (an Apartment Therapy Seattleite, who knew?) and meet, albeit briefly, the very cute Tula from Whorange.  I also talked to lots of other people who don't have blogs and therefore can't be linked to (how can this be? - get with the program!).

For more detailed notes on what we spoke about check out Megan's and Mary's posts.

June's Lab will feature Kristen Rask of Schmancy and a couple of other crafters talking about crafting and plush toys.  I have a horrible feeling though that I'm going to have to miss this as I'm due to be cruising to Alaska with my crazy Italian rellies.  Though in typical badly organised Italian fashion the cruise has not yet been booked, so there is still hope of a reprieve.

28 May 2008

Chocolate Brownies and Design Blogging

We were invited to our first barbecue of the summer over the weekend and I decided to take some chocolate brownies, as it's been far too long since I made them.


The best brownie recipe in the world is from Green & Blacks Chocolate Recipes.



The addition of dried cherries takes these into a different orbit of deliciousness.  I sprinkled some chocolate chips onto the finished brownie when it had just come out of the oven and pressed them in with a spatula - er, just because they weren't chocolate-y or fattening enough.


910 912 915

They turned out great, despite the Minx 'helping' out in her usual inimitable style.  

I mention these because I was going to bring some to tonight's Lab, but apparently can't because of pesky health & safety regs.  But do come along anyway and ponder what might have been...

I need to think of an acceptable giveaway.  Megan Not Martha has set the bar horribly high and I hear that Mary T from Shelterriffic will be bringing along a new design classic.  Also speaking is the delightfully scary Miz Decorno herself.  All details here.

24 May 2008

I. just. can. not. wait

I know we've recently been very rude about US Vogue, but this month's issue features one of the most gorgeous photoshoots I've ever seen in honour of the upcoming release of Sex and the City - The Movie. (All photos by Annie Liebowitz for US Vogue from










Even though the cover is still pretty crap.

The gorgeous boys at Project Rungay (one of the all time great blogs) have done some great detective work tracking down the catwalk origins of most of the frocks. (They are so going to LOVE my Heidi Klum holiday goss).

I have just two questions.  Why don't we see epic dresses like these on the red carpet (including SJP to her own premieres) instead of all the boring fishtails we saw at the Oscars this year? (The green Nina Ricci is what I will wear when I win my Oscar and have extensive liposuction). And could Mr Big, whom I've always loved as a character, but who has never done it for me as a lustbunny, look any hotter?

Also check out this vid, via Perez Hilton, which conclusively proves that this is one of the biggest ever product placement opportunities for women (I've heard the movie called the 'Superbowl for women' in terms of its advertising potential).  I just love how all the accessories are just piled up as if they were in the rummage bin at Primark.

The hot mamas of Seattle have booked out the evening of June 3rd to see the movie and drink too many cosmopolitans. Back with an actual film review then.  (The only thing I don't like is the fugly ass decor in that hotel bedroom).

23 May 2008

The Lab - Design Blogging in Seattle


The next Lab is on Wednesday 28th May from 6-8pm (though the last one went on longer) at Velocity's showroom at 251 Yale Avenue N (opposite REI) and is starring ME!!! Talking about design blogging.

Map image

Actually I'm feeling like a bit of a fraud, but fortunately there will also be Seattle bloggers on hand who actually know their stuff, namely Megan Not Martha; Elaine Decorno and Mary T from Shelterrific.

So come and have all your questions about the ins and outs of design blogging answered; find out if we're really all rampant egomanics or just to sample some fab drinks from sponsors Dry Soda and have a nose around Velocity.  Remember the Lab is open to men and women and everyone who has even the vaguest interest in design. And if you're a Seattle blogger yourself we'd be hugely grateful if you could spread the word on your own blog.

If you do come, please be gentle with us.

I'm in a jolly mood today.  Have just discovered some superfab ambient house music podcasts by a Swedish DJ  - DJRiver (also available for download on iTunes), sort of high end Buddha Bar meets Hotel Costes. Not that this will be remotely of interest to anyone in Seattle, where hairy white rock music reigns supreme.

21 May 2008

United Colors of Mexico


You may have noticed that I quite like bright colours, so I was always going to like Mexico wasn't I?

More on my Flickr here.

20 May 2008

Britain v America - Book Covers

Here's our next look at British v. American design sensibilities.

Last time round we hugely preferred the uncluttered British approach to magazine cover design, though we did stop to note the American fondness for glitz and glamour, as exemplified by Gwyneth Paltrow in a ballgown on the cover. Immaculately groomed movie stars and celebrities are everywhere here, all over the TV and on the covers of every magazine.

The British on the other hand are notoriously bad at glamour and polish.  We can very rarely pull it off and so regard deliberate attempts at glamour with suspicion, resorting instead to cheerful eccentricity which often tips over into untidiness or even dowdiness. Brits like to call this 'reality'.

Compare if you will the UK and US covers for the book Petite Anglaise.

I got hooked on 'petite's' blog a couple of years back, just as she was leaving her live-in partner and father of her child for someone she'd met in her comments box.  The blog is hugely well-written and for a while was as suspenseful as a daily soap-opera. Petite (Catherine Sanderson) became globally notorious last year when she was 'dooced' for blogging at work - the first high-profile European blogger to whom that had happened. As a result though she managed to snag a big book deal for global publication of her story.

Until I came to live in the US I didn't realise to what extent books etc. are repackaged for different geographic markets. Sanderson writes amusingly here about how much the text has to be 'translated' from English to American. The covers are also COMPLETELY different. 

Sanderson's book is half about her dissatisfaction with her day-to-day 'metro, boulot, dodo' routine, her unsatisfactory  relationship and the difficulties and sometimes loneliness of bringing up a young child.

This is the half of the story which the British cover very clearly focuses on.  Have you ever seen anything more mumsy and dowdy?  You just know that there's going to be dog poo/poop (see how good I'm getting at this English/American translation business!) somewhere in that picture. Note the flat shoes and huge nappy/diaper bag. And I bet her nail varnish is chipped and her legs are hairy. And yes I know that's how most mothers dress, but do you really want to see that on a book cover? And no sign of the various menfolk in the book.  Indeed it's unlikely, despite appearances, that the woman on the cover has ever had sex.

The dowdy, old-fashioned, feel carries through into the design.  Note all the sugary pink, serif fonts and pretty pretty flowers. Though maybe the layout, aside from the fussy illustration, is, in true British style, a little cleaner.


UK cover art for Petite Anglaise 

The other half of Sanderson's story on the other hand is about the illicit thrill of flirting on the Internet via blog comments and emails, meeting this stranger in real life and her subsequent mad affair. Her blog at the time this was happening fairly crackled with sexual excitement. And guess which half of the story the American cover focuses on?



US cover art for Petite Anglaise 

Look at those heels! Is she even wearing any clothes? Note the cinema posterish layout. On this cover Petite has been turned into Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is lurking behind the Eiffel Tower.  This woman has sex all the time, NEVER has chipped nail polish and probably doesn't know one end of a stroller from another.

And yes, I know real life is not like this, but really, if you're feeling mumsy and badly put together, do you need to be reminded of it in a book cover? The only thing I don't like about this cover is the actual title where the curly font and fiddly border reminds us of the American love of excessive ornamentation.



Which cover would you buy?

UPDATE:  I'm intrigued that people seem to be preferring the UK cover - would love to hear your reasons in the comments.  

19 May 2008

Viva Mexico!



I LOVED Mexico.  I can't tell you how much.


The places in the world I love best are in Southern Europe - the South of France, Italy and Greece - and Mexico is as close as you can get to being there while being on a different continent.

While my relationship with the US is sometimes strange and ambiguous, I felt utterly, completely, at home in Mexico - the colours; the light; the delightful, crazy people; the margaritas; the food, the interiors.

Things I learned in Mexico

- It is possible for a hotel to be too pink

- If you teach a small blonde girl a bit of basic Spanish you get amazing service in restaurants

- Heidi Klum has thread veins on the back of her left knee

- Heidi Klum had a nanny and her mother hanging around all the time and didn't seem to know how to interact with her kids

- Heidi Klum is still far too pretty to meet by the side of a pool, though not as luminously pretty as Kate Moss

- Parasailing is as terrifying as it looks

- It was lovely to see churches with spires and domes and things dotting the landscape. 

- It is not possible for a margarita to be too large

- Guacamole is not entirely devoid of calories

- I hadn't realised how much I miss football.  It was great to walk into a bar and see PROPER football on the telly, and kids playing football in the street and PROPER goalposts in the school playgrounds. It was like rejoining the rest of the world again.

- Air travel into and out of the the US is a total nightmare

- A very large part of me still wants to give everything up and go and live on a beach somewhere

- I urgently need a friend with a large and expensive yacht

Back properly soon.  The house is currently covered in piles of washing, the garden has turned into a jungle (apparently Seattle had summer while we were away) I have a shop which requires rather a lot of TLC and I somehow managed to take 901 photos on our travels.  It is possible you may see more Mexico photos anon.

12 May 2008

An Interlude

Huge apologies for lack of bloggery in recent days.  We're on vacation and I was so busy in the days leading up to our departure that I didn't quite get round to mentioning it. 

Anyway, after a few days here (the Husband was conferencing again), we are now having a fabulous time here in Mexico, having scored another great deal via

Don't miss me too much. I will be back next week, with loads of holiday pics to bore you with and HOT CELEBRITY GOSSIP (guess which A-list stars had booked out the Mexican hotel for a party for their wedding anniversary?)

02 May 2008

Calling All Font Nerds


Since we ascertained that there are a few of you round these parts, why not give your inner geek a treat with the 'Rather Difficult Font Game' from

You have a not-so-stellar 21 out of 34 to beat.