The Goddess Experience kindled my love for Paul Smith, and the Design Museum’s latest exhibition, HELLO, MY NAME IS PAUL SMITH, has heightened it. The title alone is endearing.
Paul Smith is the epitome of British quirk. Classic with a twist. His designs are colourful, but Colour does not need to be COLOUR, he says. It can be just Colour.
He loves to add surprises to his designs, like an exciting jacket lining. Evidence of this is clear from a video of him cycling into Paris Fashion Week with a navy suit, dark shoes, white shirt, and, just visible with the turn of his bicycle’s wheels, bright pink striped socks.
The exhibition recreates Sir Paul’s work spaces and shopfronts, beginning with his first showing in a Parisian hotel room. Observe his classy version of an idea board above.
Paul’s advice is to “Look and see. Look and see things in a different way. Too many people look but don’t really see”.
Londoners, the exhibit runs through 9 March 2014. Do attend.
It’s 16 days til Christmas.
If you’re not in the mood yet, watch this film. Yes, it’s one of those that everyone says you should watch but listen to the hype. And to the fabulous cast pictured above.
This is the film that converted me from Scrooge syndrome.
Add some awkward English humor to the country’s already fine appreciation for all things Christmas, throw in some of my favorite actors ever [which, as a child, was determined by who was in Harry Potter, but I think they're still good choices], and we have a winner. The first time I watched this film was July a couple of years ago, and for the first time, I found myself aching for the holiday season in the middle of summer.
There’s something for everyone.
Love Actually follows several, very different, characters’ stories around Christmastime that all weave together. It kicked off the ensemble cast comedy trend that you may remember from New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. But this one is actually good. [Actually].
The first time I saw this one was alone on my couch, but I suggest gathering a group of friends and some Christmasy food for a festive viewing. Happy holidays!
Perhaps your sticker collection, like mine, includes random leftover calendar stickers: “Lunch”, “Big Game”, “Vacation”, and “Date Night”, all subtitling images of Charlie Brown characters [in this case].
When I purchased my Moleskine 2013 diary, it too contained such a feature. It’s exciting at first – oh wow, an extra, just like the table of international dialing codes! – but does anyone actually use them?
Simple Fix: Use the Stickers in your Planner
But actually. Excepting calendrical purposes, when are you ever going to need a sticker that says “Dinner”? Stick them in, use liberally, and add some color to your life planning.
Perhaps you just can’t be asked. Fine. But if you, like I, subconsciously save these stickers, then don’t. Spend out. Sticker up. It’s quite cute.
How fortunate am I to have two meilleures amies who live in Paris! I spent the weekend dining on crêpes and macarons, wandering enchanting streets and markets, soaking up le Noël, and of course chatting away [en anglais.].
To lighten my load, I relied on Toadette the iPod for photos, and the above is the best result. I also packed my hand-me-down St Johns skirt, a reversible Anthro tank, a J Crew striped top, and an Izzy Lane jumper. It worked pretty well for traveling light, though my feet are grateful to be home to other options.
Not an outfit, but Stuff on the Ground is worth mentioning.
Even discarded leaves and things are beautiful in Paris.
^Toadette’s new wallpaper.
P.S. Flashback to my last trip to Paris.
Eat Regular Meals? Isn’t that…super easy?
Well, yes! And that’s the point of a tiny tweak. Each month when I define my new habit-forming step, I find something that should be easy, but is actually not happening. My first tweak, to get fresh air in the morning, takes seconds, but can make a day of a difference.
My November has been rather on-the-go, which means inconsistent eating. It means too many crisps because they’re an easy option, and not enough yummy veggies because they’re…only slightly harder. My occasionally sore tummy prompted googling, which led to the advice to eat regularly. Huh. Seems too simple to prescribe, yet there it is.
to eat three square meals each day. Let’s try that one out for a bit.
P.S. Photo from lunch at Mudchute Park & Farm. Yum.
In honour of my impending departure from London [and from putting u's in honour.], I Simply Must plug my favourite guide to one of my favourite cities. [might as well throw around as many u words as I can.].
Saska Graville’s London Style Guide is divided into chapters by neighbourhood, and lists the most chic places to eat, sleep, and shop. It is equipped with stylised maps [and we know how much that kind of thing excites me]. Sometimes I use it for inspiration on where to wander, and stumble upon the recommended specifics by happenstance.
Between the neighbourhood guides are interviews with cool local Londoners who share their thoughts on the city and spill their hidden jaunts and sacred weekend-in-the-city routines. The interview with Brix Smith-Smart’s Sunday-ly trips to Daunt with her husband was such an idyllic concept for me that it inspired my current reading routine.
Not your average travel guide.
I refuse to buy some mainstream guide with poorly selected fonts that is guaranteed to take me to a city’s most touristy spots. First of all, if I’m going to invest precious suitcase space to a book, it has to be pretty (Like the Wallpaper city guides.). This is both gorgeous and super informative. Perfect for perusing on the Tube and planning one’s next adventure.
If you don’t live in London…
Well, you can always browse, can’t you? The pictures alone are worth it. And now they sell it at Anthro, the ultimate aesthetic/lifestyle stamp of literary approval.
After paying at a till, I used to rush. I would stuff everything in my wallet. I’ll deal with that later, thought I. Thing is, it takes an extra couple of seconds to deal with things on the spot, but much longer to deal with it all later. Plus, if you let your wallet get cluttered up, every time you open it, you’ll get that nagging feeling that oh right, you need to clear it out at some point. One more thing for the to do list.
Simple Fix: Never Put Receipts in Thy Wallet.
My wallet is an exclusive club that only the most fabulous and important cards are allowed to occupy.
I have built the habit of disposing of receipts on the spot, or stuffing them in my bag, which I do clean out after each use. Keep it simple!
1. Climber’s Interpretation
Twice a year, Oxford’s mountaineers don black tie for formal dining. And twice a year, this climber faces the challenge of embracing the dress code as literally as she dares: “black tie, climber’s interpretation”. It started with a carabiner necklace, and each time I simply must outdo myself. Here i am in bespoke styling of REI. I happened to have a flouncy dress at the back of my closet from my solo soprano days, so voilà.
2. Fabulous + Tea = FabulosiTEA
Reader, meet Caroline “Cakewise”, my creative partner in An Upcoming Surprise. Yes, we’ve been working on an exciting collab project, launching this January! Hints: 1. Tea is involved, sort of. 2. It required a photo shoot at Fortnum and Mason’s avec urban pixie Sarah. Oh and Lyra the Unicorn was invited too of course. [Psst, the super keen can follow us on Facebook and Twitter…].
The 43 Things Oops
Last month I decided to tackle my list of 43 Things, to be completed by July. This month, I’ve realised what an incredibly un-minimalist task that was! Multi-tasking to the Extreme. And I detest multi-tasking! [*closes down other tabs on browser.* That's better.]
Xandra Burns, Guilty Minimalist.
Welcome to my new series, in which I confess the ways in which I, a self-proclaimed minimalist, am actually not living a perfectly minimal mindful life. Indulge in my weaknesses!
The Stuff that’s Gone Well:
So the good thing about making that life list more urgent is that it turned dreams into reality. It’s nice to have a list of things you’d like to do ‘one day’ but even better to question what you actually want, and how you can get those things. I’m a big fan of deadlines, and with July in mind, I did make some progress:
- I attended the Mean Girls Quote-along at the Prince Charles Cinema. [Even though I had to go by myself. And had to ask girls dressed as Regina George if I Could Sit With Them. It was an immersive experience.].
- I have nearly memorized the words to “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, and have learned some things about history along the way.
- I asked for a New England Aquarium penguin experience for Christmas so I can [hopefully] play with a penguin.
- I went to The Astrology Shop in London and bought a beginner’s guide so I can learn astrology.
- I wrote an outline for my book on minimalism. !
- I have an idea for a piece of artwork I deem worthy of framing.
- I have become addicted to the French vocab app MindSnacks in the early stages of becoming fluent in French.
- I bought an optical drive for my MacBook Air so I can play Zoombinis and learn Korean on Rosetta Stone.
- I have an idea for a book club.
The Stuff That’s Not Gone So Well:
- The pressure.
- The rushing around.
The Change of Plan:
I’ve abandoned the July deadline, freeing up time for spontaneous adventures. In the meantime, I’m focusing on one thing at a time. The point of this challenge was to turn my dreams into reality. I’m still doing that, while keeping them as dreamy and unstressful as possible.
Jane Austen on YouTube is sort of my new Gossip Girl.
One of the reasons I adore Gossip Girl is Blair Waldorf and her well-dressed go-getter self. I hadn’t found a character quite like her until I saw Pemberley Digital’s latest - Emma Approved! The original Austen-ian Emma Woodhouse is already in my list of fictional BFFs because we are annoying in similar ways. I get along with YouTube Emma just as well. Years before this series, I was already making Xandra Approved lists of things like cupcakes. I mean, I have a series in which I tell people what they simply must watch. *wink!*
It started with Lizzie Bennet.
So last year, Hank Green and Bernie Su produced The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which is Pride and Prejudice told through Lizzie’s video blogs. [And through the characters' Twitters and Tumblrs.]. Now Emma Approved is in full swing, the premise being a video documentary about Emma Woodhouse’s wedding planning slash life coaching business, staffed by Alex Snarky Knightly [as nicknamed by Emma], her assistant Harriet, and IT guy Martin. I wish I could get more of an Emma fix than a couple of 5ish minute videos each week, but if you’re a first-time viewer, lucky for you there’s already an archive of episodes to catch up on! Start here:
P.S. If you’re looking for more inspiring fictional females, check out last week’s You Simply Must!