An Old Friend at a New Find

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Living in a city is exciting because there is always something new to see, eat, or do. The less discussed dark side of this equation is that often to make room for the shiny new stuff, existing shops, shows, restaurants, and venues have to go. Once you’ve lived in an urban center for a few years, you’ve likely lost a few of your standbys due to this cycle. We sure have. In the years that we’ve lived here, we’ve said goodbye to several favorites including The Lockhart, El Nivel, and Kopapa.

Some of these were bittersweet. El Nivel’s closing night was also the last night we stayed in our old apartment and attending it felt like the end of an era, our first three years in London finished. That apartment saw some heartaches, some triumphs, and was the place where a lot of hard won victories came to fruition and El Nivel was where we celebrated a lot of those triumphs and got through a lot of disappointments. We made friends with the owners and staff there who made it a point to know and interact with their regulars; through them we were invited to food festivals and introduced to new areas of the city. It felt like saying goodbye to a pal when that place shut up shop–to say nothing of the fact that we had to begin our hunt for good fusion/Mexican food anew. Suggestions welcome, see me in the comments!

Kopapa was a place where we celebrated New Years as well as our fourth anniversary (we’re now coming up on our eighth). It was conveniently placed in the heart of the West End so if we ever needed to entertain guests, it was a trusted stop in Theatreland. It was one of the first brunch places we indulged in as newly minted urbanites, and brunch has become (admittedly stereotypically) an important part of our family routine.

Whilst being nostalgic for our old favorites recently, I went on a bit of a google spree to find some new joints to try out and discovered that Peter Gordon, the chef behind Kopapa also has a restaurant on Marylebone High Street, The Providores. Actually, it predates Kopapa which a more experienced foodie would have pinged to much sooner than me, but let’s set that aside. Joy of joys, their brunch menu contained the same dish I fell for at Kopapa and have never found a substitute for since: Turkish Eggs. Poached eggs sitting on warm, whipped yogurt, with chili oil sauce on top. If it sounds too weird for you, do me a solid and trust me to try it just once–it’s a savory delight.

While it’s fun and important to always give the new a shot, it’s also occasionally nice to rediscover an old friend.

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Weekend Links

“But Sasha was from Russia, where the sunsets are longer, the dawns less sudden and sentences are often left unfinished from doubt as how to best end them.”
― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

One day after the president was praised to the skies for simply not acting like a narcissist or an uninformed jerk in public, we were right back to the crazy the next day with reports that the FBI is investigating the fact that the new Attorney General (and possibly more campaign officials and connections) also met with Russian officials in presumably shady circumstances. Business as usual in the brave new world.

Investigations need to happen, like yesterday. And my personal theory is that any investigation will quickly turn financial in nature, given the nature of the property and development businesses with which Mr. Trump has been involved all his professional life, and how it intimately it is tied to wealth movement and management of UHNWIs. Including Russian oligarchs. Things to, hypothetically, look forward to…

But in the meantime, I have a a bushel full of links for you, only a couple of which are political. Let’s call it a palate cleanser.

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This investigative piece in The New Yorker is required reading to understand the background and complexity surrounding questions of Russian influence in the election, and the political stage in the United States as it stands right now. This short segment on PBS Newshour is also a good summary.

10 out of 10 C.s would watch a Chaucer opera.

The Milo Yiannopolous story, in case you missed it.

Also in case you missed it, icon and all around lady boss Roxanne Gay pulled her book from Simon & Schuster when they initially planned to go ahead with Mr. Yiannopolous’ book. Now that S&S has dropped him, there was some discussion as to whether Ms. Gay would go back to the publisher. In characteristic style, she answered.

Was there ever a more SDS appropriate topic that this?! I say to you, nay!

Likewise, a quick scroll through my Instagram feed will confirm I’m a sucker for a shop cat or dog.

Beauty junkies, hearken! Sephora has announced a new annual subscription service to expedite shipping on orders, no matter how big or small. Were I stateside, I’d be on this like white on rice.

In more beauty news, the perpetual teases at Glossier teased the release of their next makeup product, which looks to be cream/water based blush. I forsee me begging my girls in the States to send me a bundle of products here shortly.

Michelle Lee, the EIC of Allure magazine accidently created a viral tweet that, I think, accurately represents most people’s online life these days.

THIS. A thousand times this. Mr. Trump is not a great manager, he has played a great manager for years and people have bought it.

Well…shit

Save the hedgehog. We need good things in the world, people!

Two years ago RadioLab ran a fascinating story on then-breaking research technology to edit genes. They recently published a follow up to this story that explores the leaps and bounds that have come in just two years of development and the potential (good and terrifying) for this kind of technology. Well worth a listen!

Gotta say, the “future liberals want” meme has been cracking me right up this week. I think it’s the best example of self-own I’ve seen in a long time. Have a scroll through your social media feed of choice and enjoy this one.

Album of the week: The Chirping Crickets, by the Crickets

Five Things I Loved in February

“February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March.” 
– J.R. Stockton

It may be a short month but I found a wide range of things to go giddy over this February. Here’s my list of top five pleasures, what are yours?

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Images via Amazon.com

Pretty Iconic, by Sali Hughes. One of Britain’s best beauty writers strikes again with her latest book. Her first was a friendly guide to navigating the world of products, services, and options available to the enthusiastic but perhaps baffled customer. This books is a retrospective of the (mostly 20th century) products that changed the beauty industry and how women (and men) make themselves up today.

 

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Image via Amazon.com

The Road to Little Dribbling, audiobook by Bill Bryson. I’m hideously late to the game with this well-beloved writer, but I’ve been inhaling his work ever since reading his In a Sunburned Country, which is basically a love letter to Australia in the form of a travelogue. His ditto on the UK, which itself is a follow up to a similar book he wrote twenty years previously, was a joy to listen to. By turns grumpy and delighted with his adopted country (Bryson is an American by birth), his insights to some of the less well traveled parts of Britain are hilarious and perceptive.

 

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Image via Glossier.com

Glossier serums. This fairly recently created but very quickly beloved brand doesn’t ship to the UK, but I’ve been lucky (or wily) in getting my hands on it. Either kind friends have been willing to help a girl out, or I’ve timed deliveries to coincide with our visits to the States last year. I picked the 3-pack of their serums up on our visit to my family over Christmas, but have waited to give them a proper test drive until this month. Consider me converted. Each of the formulas are designed to address different skin needs and by far the most useful to me is the Super Glow serum, which I will find a way to repurchase, so help me god.

 

 

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Image via Uniqlo website

Uniqlo cowlneck cashmere sweaters. A quick scroll through my Instagram feed confirmed my worst suspicions: I’ve been practically living in these jumpers all season. Uniqlo does some decent affordable cashmere options and, though they don’t last as long as a quality cashmere buy, at a fraction of the price, they are worth picking up and wearing out. We’re moving towards Spring fashions but that means it’s time to do a scan of the sale sections of stores to see if you can find a bargain. This image is of a v-neck rather than a cowl neck, but I’ve found the quality to hold up regardless of neckline.

The Tory 2.0 dress, by MM LaFleur. This dress is my workhorse work piece and, as I’ve been working at a corporate client’s office since the start of the year, I’ve been reaching for it again and again this month when I need to look sharp. I own three dresses from this line and it’s a long term goal for me to buy at least a couple more to have a go-to capsule work wardrobe. They aren’t the cheapest options available, but treating them like investment buys and throwing in some professional tailoring has been a very good decision for me personally.

 

Where the Pancakes Are

“The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves.”
– W. C. Fields

Today is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day here in Britain, so it is only fitting that you guys hear about a recent breakfast find.

Welcome to Where the Pancakes Are, in Flat Iron Square. Fairly close by to Borough Market and just south of Southwark Bridge, this is another of those delightful little pockets where markets and sellers and food joints are springing up in tandem

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I’m automatically fond of most areas that contain food trucks but WTPA is charmingly located in a a former trainline archway. A number of these kinds of areas of London have been or are in the process of being redeveloped to shops, restaurants, or other spaces and some of the results are quite fun!

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But you’re not here to read about property schemes, are you, kittens? You want to know about the carbs? I’m here for you!

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Where The Pancakes Are is not a large eating joint, but there is a mezzanine to add tables so its apparent small space is a bit of a deception. If you turn up at the weekend, you may have to wait a bit, but get on the list because it’s not too terrible and there are a few shops and market stalls to explore while the minutes count down.

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Pets and families welcome!

The menu is divided into savory and sweet options and you will have a devil of a time deciding which tickles your fancy. Jeff plunked for the traditional American while I went as wild as I could with the Hummingbird.

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As it transpired, our marriage suffered a major test in the middle of the meal when I excitedly demanded that Jeff validate my enthusiasm for finding a good pancake place. His response was, “Eh, I don’t really eat pancakes.”

My reaction to this was one of outraged shock until he laughed and countered, “We’ve been married for nearly eight years, and you haven’t noticed that I don’t really eat pancakes until now?”

To which…oops? Spousal fail on my part?

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Forget Jeff’s poor taste in breakfast carbs. He’s healthy and leans towards the protein, for which we may be understanding, even if he is misguided. If like me you are among the less than virtuous, breakfast wise, this place is a delightful way to spend a Saturday morning!

2017 Oscars Gown Rundown

I’ll tell you this about the Oscars – they’re real.
– William H. Macy

Gather round, ducklings, it’s time to fight in the comments! That blessed time of year has arrived again, the annual Oscars Gown Rundown on SDS, where we admire beautiful things and people…and occasionally throw some shade at questionable fashion choices.

I’m not going to lie, this didn’t feel like an awards show where the fashion was for the ages. There were some beautiful pieces and looks but it was fairly tame overall. The real drama this year lay elsewhere.

First and foremost, I am pleasantly delighted and shocked at Moonlight’s upset win over long declared favorite La La Land. The disorganized mess of having to apologize for announcing the wrong film and then get the correct team and people on stage to take their bow was cringe-worthy. But the fact that a small but powerful film about race, sexuality, poverty, and masculinity upset yet another film where Hollywood is fairly self congratulatory and referential is a win, as far as I’m concerned.

Other major stories were Mahershala Ali’s win for Best Supporting Actor, which I believe is the first win for an American Muslim actor of any kind, and Viola Davis being the first woman of color to win an Emmy, Tony and Oscar award. Asghar Farhadi was not present to accept his award due to the politics of the travel ban, and lots of people were sporting pins or other supporting design elements for the ACLU and other organizations. While the fashion might not have been speaking as loudly, plenty of statements were being made.

The Good

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Viola Davis looked flawless and her speech was powerful–no surprise there whatsoever. Her Armani Prive gown was a stunner and perfectly executed. One design detail more and this would have looked messy, but the single design note of an unusual neckline married to a powerhouse red, and the results just sing.

 

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I will always fall for a deceptively simple looking gown and Brie Larsen’s Oscar de la Renta nailed that criteria. A cross between’s Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X and a flamenco dancer, loved it. I would have liked a different hair/accessories look, however.

 

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Michelle Williams has stuck to a rather precious and twee look for years now. Sometimes it works in her favor, sometimes it doesn’t. This Louis Vuitton is an example of the former. Another deceptively simple frock with some exquisite details.

 

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No, this is not a gown. It remains a “best dressed” contender regardless. Men’s fashion is often wildly overlooked when done well, and is more often bypassed entirely by male actors who phone it in for events or photoshoots while their female counterparts spend hours preparing thousands of dollars worth of couture and accessories to just show up in public. Mahershala Ali did not phone it in, his Ermenegildo Zenga suit is perfectly tailored and (though you can’t see it well in this shot), his suit contains a subtle pattern that is a delightful change from the typical tux. He is also, let’s face, extremely easy on the eyes.

 

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Speaking of not phoning it in! Taraji P. Henson decided she was going to armor up in the the most fierce af getup she could find, and that’s exactly what she did. Another relatively simple gown by Alberta Feretti paired with major jewels and even more major attitude.

 

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Okay, I can admit that Sunny Pawar is here most because he’s adorable. I also admit he could have used a better hem job but I fell hard for his amazing shoes and stay fallen. I’m a big proponent of child actors dressing age appropriately on the red carpet and when I see it, I signal boost!

 

The Middling

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This look proves that the devil really is in the details. Alicia Vikander in Louis Vuitton looks very similar to Brie Larsen in several key elements, but I found this look fussy and overly complicated in a way that didn’t suit its (obscenely gorgeous) wearer. It looks like a ballet costume rather than an Oscars gown.

 

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I love prints on the Oscars red carpet and they are not often deployed, unfortunately. But Scarlett Johansson in Alaia shows why that may be the case. Her hair, makeup, and jewels are stunning but her outfit looks…tacky. The fabric looks cheap, I don’t think that the belt suits the look, and the blouson bust area isn’t doing her spectacular figure any favors.

 

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Sigh. We can set our clocks by it at this point. Charlize Theron is a Dior ambassador and faithfully wears them each year, and each year in recent memory, her bustline has been assaulted in some way by the design. Like unto Scarlett Johansson, the blouson cut is really taking away from this look for me. A bit more fitted and this dress would have been the perfect vehicle to carry off those stunning jewels.

 

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Felicity Jones is absurdly pretty in that English Rose kind of way, but this Dior seemed very twee for such an event as the Oscars. On a younger, perhaps teenage actress this would have been lovely, but it underwhelms for an event that is supposed to be a fashion highlight of the year. Her hair is also very low key which contributes to the underwhelm of this overall look for me.

 

The Bad

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No! No, Dakota Johnson! Whichever of your team members voted for this Gucci gown must be shown the door immediately. The color is not particularly great, but add to it the incredibly basic hair, next to no make up, and top it off with the fact that no one seems to have remembered to steam your dress properly and you have been Let Down.

 

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I wanted to like this Kaufman Franco dress on Jessical Biel, I really did. It looks like a drag gown, and I mean that in the best possible way! But I feel she was badly let down by the styling of the look, her makeup looks harsh and her hair color and style a bit severe when paired with a bold but tailored gown. Normally I like looks to be balanced between drama and restraint, but the restraint here overpowered the drama.

 

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Hailee Steinfield is beautiful, but this Ralph and Russo frock is bad. Fussy, messy, colorless, and looking like bedsheets.

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There was a “buttoned up” micro trend to several looks this year, which is not a bad thing. Done well, severe or even religiously overtoned looks can pack a punch. But this gown on Ava Duverny looks heavy and awkward when she could have looked armored and dangerous.

The I Literally Can’t Make Up My Mind

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A lot of people are falling over themselves to praise Ruth Negga in this Oscar de la Renta but I find myself torn. In some images this looks dramatic and beautiful, in others it looks odd and dare I say a bit frumpy. I have nothing but love for her selection of jewels (bring back tiaras, I say) and I love her makeup look independently from the gown, but I find them a bit oddly matched together. The darker garnet shades of her jewelry and smokey eyes don’t seem to match the better aspects of a floaty, peasant-y frock. Help me make up my mind, kittens!

 

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Janelle Monae has developed a red carpet persona that she rarely deviates from: black and white and drama all over. This Elie Saab is certainly dramatic! A cross between 18th century, Elizabethean, and fetishwear, I should be all over this, but it’s not coming wholly together for me. I think that having both a sheer top and sheer paneled inner skirt made the look veer more towards tacky while all of the embellishments seem to compete. I’d have loved this look more if the skirt had stuck with either the layers of beaded black tulle, or committed solely to the layered white motifs. Both are too much.

 

Best Dressed

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Emma Stone’s Givenchy dress was the runaway red carpet star for me. The subtle gold tones were varied enough to keep from being flat, while the detailing did the heavy lifting. From the Old Hollywood hair (which I’m always a sucker for) to the simple yet stunning beauty look (apparently by Nars cosmetics), she clearly came ready to walk away with her Oscar. A gorgeous look!

Weekend Links

“There aren’t enough days in the weekend.” 
– Rod Schmidt

Kittens, we made it to another weekend! This one is badly needed for me, as I’ve now been sick with a persistent cold for two straight weeks, the hard drive on my computer died and needed to be replaced, and our house requires a deep cleaning.

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How I think I look whilst troubleshooting. The reality is somewhat less…glamorous. And effective.

In political news things are a bit less bombastic this week (meaning, I surmise, that someone has managed to hide the President’s phone during his preferred Twitter times), but plenty of weird or bad things still happened. For instance, they administration is now claiming that Mr. Bannon’s elevation on the National Security Council was the result of a faulty “copy and paste” job, the president conflated (dangerously, in my opinion) military and law enforcement work when it comes to rounding up and deporting immigrants, and transgender safety has been drastically walked back. Just because they aren’t picking silly fights with allies and being ridiculous in public doesn’t mean that policy changes aren’t happening. If you like these policy changes, fine, let’s have a respectful and vigorous debates in the comments as to why! If you don’t like this policy changes, keep up the pressure on elected leaders to make your voices heard.

[ETA after the above was written: annnnnnnnd then the White House banned selective news organizations from a press gaggle, apparently in retaliation for not being flattering enough. These happy, carefree days, aka three months ago, are now over and I’m back to being low level scared.]

However it’s not all doom and gloom this week! As usual there is a heaping pile of links for you to peruse, spring is slowly creeping closer, and this weekend sees the return of that great and glorious SDS annual tradition: the Oscars style review!

This piece on Medium got shared around quite a bit this week, comparing and contextualizing President Trump’s rise to internet culture.

Meanwhile, this article from MTV was a good reminder that those of us whose candidates lost the election might have to get used to losing even more in the short term. But we’re obliged to keep up the protests and civic engagement regardless. Despair, or worse apathy, are not options.

There was more than a little nonsense from CPAC this week, including this bit of you-can’t-make-this-shit-up news.

In a piece of good news from this week, I was heartened to read of the selection of Lt. General McMaster as the new National Security Adviser.

The perfect dog.

London Fashion Week wrapped and the street style images are as eccentric, colorful and stylish as you could wish for. Some years fashion weeks feel powerful and proactive, showing looks and styles that portray women (primarily) deliberately in command of their image, other years it shows a more reactive and vulnerable side that is more reactive to social or political climates. Neither is wrong and both are art. But in a season that could have easily gone the latter route given current realities, I’m thrilled to have seen more of the former.

Meanwhile, Maddie from Whiskey Tango Flat White has some thoughts on the political t-shirts shown at FW, particularly by Dior.

This beautiful but melancholy piece in Town and Country about the private art collection of a family destroyed in the Holocaust was a great read.

Read up!

This is a thing?

One writer debates the pitfalls of a President Trump soaked media landscape, what news is not getting the attention it needs as a result, and why the media ecosystem might need to work harder to pay less attention to him.

...This is not how vaginas work, dude!

These short videos by Vogue have been tiny pockets of visual delight.

In writing this post, the do-over attempt at immigration bans is underway and there’s plenty to be upset about in this version as well. Not least of all the fact that the administration seems to think that they can foist “unwanted” people on a government to which they do not belong.

This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

A hard to read piece about one good thing that might come out of the whole Milo Yiannopoulos media situation: a better and more blunt discussion about sexual abuse against young and teenage boys, particularly if they are gay.

A hideous action, and one that I am afraid will become more common, not less.

Album of the week: Drunk, by Thundercat

Checking in on 101/1001

“I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest.”
– Venus Williams

Six months have now gone by, so it’s time to check in on where I’m at with my goal list. At a rate of nearly 2 a month, here’s what I’ve ticked off so far:
35. Move to a new (bigger) apartment
46. Keep a spending diary for a month
51. Do the Yoga With Adrienne 30-day Challenge  (Did a 31-day challenge instead!)
55. Blog twice a week for six months
59. Participate in  a protest in support of a cause I care about
65. Finish another “cult TV” show (Twin Peaks)
81. Find a way to collaborate with one of my creative agency contacts
82. Achieve 10,000 steps a day for a month
85. Drink 2 litres of water a day for a month
94. Go a month without biting my nails
97. Try starting a new feature on SDS (monthly faves)

And here are some longer term goals currently in progress:
28. Go a month without eating out once
30. Put $10 in savings for every goal accomplished
33. Pay off the remainder of our student loans
44. Go on a shopping hiatus for 3 months once a year (currently on 2 of 4)
49. Decorate a new apartment like a real, live grown up (a work very much in progress)
54. Pitch 4 writing projects a year as a bare minimum (3 of 15)
66. Listen to one new-to-me music album each week for a year
83. Go on one holiday a year with just friends (1 of 3!)
84. Deep clean once a season for duration of 1001 day timeline (2 of 15)
86. Vote in every election in my US state for duration of 1001 day timeline
91. Relearn how to knit
95. Listen to 20 audiobooks (6 of 20)

Brag your recent personal achievements in the comments and let me know how you’re getting on with some of your long term goals and priorities!

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