Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Things Round the Kennedy Casa

 I have a couple lovely new acquisitions I wanted to write about. First, I popped over to Portsmouth's Seawall Art Show and ended up coming home with one of these beautiful glass bowls by Joshua Solomon. The colors remind me of my own watercolors, and it captures light so beautifully. I love the modernity of the shape; it feels very feminine and masculine at the same time.

How lovely is that ombre? To die for.

Back in June, I couldn't resist buying this fun little objet d'art from The Paris Market and Brocante. It's a scratched and burnished bit of printing plate and I loved the haunted quality it had. It demands a closer look...I'm half tempted to ink it up one day and see what prints.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Best v.254

Tseng Kwong Chi in Vermont, 1985.

On Thursday night, I went to an exhibition opening at the Chrysler Museum for their landmark new show, "Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera" and it left me so inspired. I wasn't familiar with his work, but of course was familiar with his contemporaries Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Basquiat. He was a pioneer of the selfie, of club kid photography and gags, and his work is imbued with impish humor that had me laughing out loud. This particular image was taken later, during a series that juxtaposed him in contemplation of the vast American landscape. He died of AIDS by the end of the decade, and I couldn't help but find this image haunting knowing his fate. If you're in the area, definitely check this one out before it closes Dec. 13.

Here's some distraction for your Sunday afternoon:

  • Art becomes life when a giant red ball makes a run for it in Toledo.
  • This movie about a kidnapped woman's escape looks amazing.
  • A black man experiments with living in whitopia.
  • Google's Project Sunlight will tell folks how beneficial it would be for them to install solar panels. So cool!
  • One woman's body is photoshopped to reflect different international beauty ideals.
  • I mocked it, but the Ice Bucket Challenge worked! Good nonprofit management, right there.
  • This movie about a dad who's missing his daughter's dance recital left me weepy.
  • Banksy's Dismaland is a masterpiece.
  • This video about husbands had me cracking up. Story of my life!
  • Two grooms put their bridesmaids in wedding dresses!
  • Love this feature on fashion at the Whitney. Museum folks are always well dressed!
  • Perfectly researched rant about a dumb character name on "Fear the Walking Dead."
  • What happened when a Michigan town decided to pool its money for scholarships.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Midsummer's Night Wine Club

Last week, Lauren hosted a lovely wine club with a "Midsummer's Night" theme, and it was a perfect (almost) swan song for summer. She decorated with lovely zinnias from her wildflower patch and blue mason jars...

 And I couldn't resist checking out her wild (yet contained) wildflower field.

 For supper, we had delicious chicken thighs, roasted potatoes and a layered salad with that most Southern of dressings: Duke mayo and sugar! It was delicious and reminded me of potlucks in church basements in the best way.

She got super creative and created these fairy fruit wands that were so adorable, I feel like I need to steal this idea for all my future parties. She said they pop up anytime you do a Pinterest search for fairy parties.

And of course, we had to stuff our faces with cupcakes. These were lemony with raspberry sorbet-flavored icing! So good.

 And last, but certainly not least, we tried some light wines perfect for summer:

  • Night Harvest Chardonnay: I'm not usually a Chardonnay fan, but this one was crisp and tropical, with notes of pineapple, honey and papaya to make it a good choice.
  • Saracco Moscato d'Asti: Predictably should save this for dessert!
  • Charles and Charles Rose: I picked this bottle up at Target based purely on the label and it ended up being one of my favorite roses I've EVER bought. It had a strong note of watermelon that was perfectly summery.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Best v.253

If...they...could...see me now!

Busy times in the Kennedy household, but nothing too fun to report! Just housework, garden work, and even a little work work. Here are some great links that kept me interested this week:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I Do Give a Flying Fig

My first summer as a homeowner and burgeoning gardener has proven what I already knew to be true...I start out with a green thumb and then my true black thumb self emerges over time. I'm just terrible at weeding, watering, and fertilizing, plus when it's 99 degrees with a heat index of 104, I'll do anything to avoid being outside, fussing with my flower beds. I know it'll take time to improve all those skills, but I've been feeling pretty defeated and ready for a clean slate.

So imagine my surprise when God graced me with a small victory! I was mowing the lawn a couple weeks ago and saw that our two tiny fig trees — only planted by the previous owners last summer — were sprouting little green figs. My first reaction was dread. 

My mother-in-law has a huge fig tree that yields more green figs than she can even give away. When we moved into our house, I thought, "Uh oh...this is a disaster."

Last week, I was watering my plants when something caught my eye. The fig trees appeared to be covered with black dots. I stepped closer and realized, to my delight, that our green figs had already ripened into plump Black Mission figs! I don't know what we'll do when the trees are even bigger, but I was able to quickly harvest most of them (although some have been a tasty meal for the birds and the bees). I offered them up on Facebook and my comments exploded with takers! For a day, I got to be the fig fairy!

The figs themselves are succulent, a little mild and lovely. I definitely was feeling itchy to bust out my watercolors and paint them. Although I can't imagine what we'll do with them all in the future, it's been fun to share them with folks. And at the end of the day, it's nice to have at least one thing going right in my yard!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Diner En Blanc in Hampton Roads

Several years ago, I learned of Diner en Blanc, a traditional pop-up picnic held in Paris for 27 years. It has lots of rules: attendees must wear white, must bring their own tables and meals, and the location is kept secret right up until the guests arrive. This year, the international party came to Hampton Roads and we decided to attend the inaugural event!

We piled onto buses with no idea where we were going, but we had lots of guesses. All of them faded away as we traveled out of Norfolk, taking all roads toward Newport News and ultimately stopped across from a field off Warwick Boulevard, just a stone's throw from my workplace. I'm not going to lie: the location was a HUGE disappointment, especially knowing how many more beautiful locations exist in Newport News. But, the core points of the party — dressing up and being fancy with a tribe of people aiming to do the same — certainly didn't disappoint. Here are some pictures of our set-up and our group:

I bought the pretty placemats at Table Seven Antiques, the faux flowers from Dollar Tree (I created my own arrangement) and got LED tapers for my favorite Crate & Barrel candlestick holder. 

We put together a beautiful cheese tray with grapes and figs (from my backyard!). 

The ever-important selection of wines and champagnes, plus my trusty St. Germain.

Our group each brought dishes to share, so we had sandwiches with ham, apple and brie; brisket; a delicious bowtie pasta dish with feta and sun-dried tomatoes; a beautiful cucumber, tomato and feta salad; and caprese stacks.

A toast to a lovely night!

The best parts of the event, in my opinion, are the pomp and circumstance! The event begins with a ceremonial wave of white napkins, and that was fun and pretty. In some cities, sparklers are lit before the dance floor opens; we were given glowsticks.

I took some time to explore and see how other people had decorated, and it was very inspiring to see how creative people were! If I ever do it again, I definitely might get a little more daring with it. This table had gorgeous flower arrangements and a beautiful silver ice bucket.

This table was by far the most creative, with a beachy theme and a mannequin lamp! Their centerpiece had driftwood. 

We finished our meals with beautiful French macarons from Hummingbird Macarons in Norfolk.

Our lovely group of friends at Diner En Blanc.

After dinner, we busted into the champagne and St. Germain, which was clearly very exciting...

As the sun set, I finally got to see my LED lights in action! I wound battery-operated copper strands of fairy lights into my bouquet for some extra nighttime glow and it was magical.

We finished the event on the dance floor and probably ruined our white dresses forever with sweat stains. LOL!

The Verdict
Many people were deterred from attending because of the expense ($42 a ticket, plus $12 to rent chairs) and the hassle (hauling a table, a meal, decor, white linens, etc. to a remote location). In addition, registration involves getting an invitation code and signing up within a certain span of time before they turn to the wait list.

The hassle part was much easier than expected. I bought an inexpensive handcart, piled my picnic basket and table onto it, and everything was packed into the bus's cargo bay by the bus driver, meaning I only had to carry my stuff to and from the bus. Not too bad. 

The expense was a little murkier...I'm still not totally sure what that money pays for, except presumably the DJ, lighting, generator, and facility rental. Since the location was basically a field on the side of the road, I'm not sure where that money went. 

Would I go again? Surprisingly, I probably would. I certainly hope some elements will be a little better organized (the whole timeline was off by an hour, and those who ordered catered meals had to wait a really long time to get their food), but I found myself already thinking about future outfits and decorating ideas. More than that, I hope we can incorporate some of the inspiration and joie de vivre into our own parties and events from now on! Surprise location birthday party, anyone?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Best v.252

Painting by Margaret Kilgallen

This weekend had some excitement; I attended the first Diner En Blanc in Hampton Roads! More on that tomorrow, but it was fun to dress up and be fancy with a bunch of other people who wanted to do the same thing! It was like finding a tribe. Here are the best links I read this week:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Jams of the Summer

Let's just acknowledge I haven't posted a "jams" post in a long damn time. It's been a weird summer, but I'm determined to get my groove back! Here's a super-sized jams post, just to make up for it!

Music Jam: "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd

I like how everything about The Weeknd is a throwback. His hair is straight from a Basquiat portrait. His ad-libbed moans and grunts are pure Michael Jackson, with EDM grooves. Everything about this song works and gets me raising the roof in traffic.

Online Soulmate Jam: Matt Bellassai's Whine About It series

I stumbled upon this series a couple weeks ago and this guy is my soulmate and stole my perfect job: complaining while tipsy. I always joke that only people who really know me realize I'm basically a walking Seinfeld episode of nitpicky complaints, so I laugh with recognition at every one of his gripes.

Literary Jam: Jane Smiley's 100 Years Trilogy

I had read great reviews of Jane Smiley's "Some Luck," the first book in her sprawling trilogy tracing the generations of one family through the 20th century. If that sounds like an unremarkable story, you'd be where I was for the first few chapters. But once the characters started to face the challenges of the Depression, the pace quickened and I literally spent every spare moment of the subsequent two weeks reading "Some Luck" and its sequel, "Early Warning." The final book will come out in October and I'm pumped!

Other Literary Jam: "The Signature of All Things"

Speaking of sprawling multigenerational historical family novels, I also lost a few days to Elizabeth Gilbert's "The Signature of All Things." It would be easy to dismiss Gilbert as a self-obsessed memoirist after the super huge success of the treacly "Eat, Pray, Love" (a book I actually couldn't help but enjoy), but this book is LEGIT brilliant and excellent. Her prose is beautiful, the science is fascinating and the characters are richly drawn. Who knew tracing the history of botany in the 18th century could be so entrancing?

New Show Possible Jam: Mr. Robot

Funny story: My husband started DVR'ing USA's new show Mr. Robot and AMC's new show Humans at the same time and when he asked if I was interested in watching either show, I said no because I had the plots completely reversed. One is about household artificial intelligence run amok and one is about a gang of anarchist hackers. You decide which one sounds like it would be "Mr. Robot." Anyway, it turns out I had them mixed up and this show — the hacker one — is excellent. It's stylish and cinematic, large in scope and full of interesting commentary on the state of a hyper-connected society. The most recent episode left me breathless.

Summer Movie Jams: Trainwreck

If you haven't seen "Trainwreck," get thee to a theater, stat. Amy's comedic voice, the inspired choice of Bill Hader as sexy leading man and the surprising and delightful LeBron James help rise above what is an essentially very formulaic plot. I had lots of laughs and am loving this moment in female-driven comedic entertainment.

Inside Out

I cannot gush enough about the brilliance of Inside Out, which I hope will enable a generation of kids to visualize and verbalize their feelings and experience empathy for others. It managed to make me laugh hysterically and sob. I saw it twice, and you know that ain't cheap!

Tented Spectacle Jam: Kooza

It's rare to see a bonafide spectacle these days that is completely unironically entertaining, but that's the case with Cirque du Soleil's Kooza, a touring show in a tent set up in Virginia Beach through this month. I was lucky to see the show with my friend Andi, and it felt old-fashioned and thrilling in the best way. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Best v.251

Nina Simone, 1963. That eye makeup!

I'm having a pleasantly lazy/active weekend. Skipping my chores to make time for perusing art book fairs, watching Bob's Burgers, hitting the beach and seeing Mission Impossible No. 400 (seriously, what number are we on now?) on IMAX. I hope you're having an equally chill/busy weekend, too!

For your cool for the summer link distraction, might I present: