Since I’m the hostess — and Broadside now has (yay!!) 462 subscribers, from British Columbia to England to New Zealand — I’m increasingly curious to know more about you, oh lovely and faithful readers.
So, to start,
Here are ten random things about me…
— I was born in Vancouver to a Canadian Dad and American Mom who met in the south of France, and I moved to London ages 2-5, then lived to the age of 30 in Toronto.
— I’m passionate about antiques and am happiest around objects with serious history and patina to them: I use coin silver teaspoons, painted, rush-seated chairs about 200 years old and often wear vintage shawls and scarves.
— I’m most excited when I have a bunch of trips lined up: next week, Toronto; July; upstate NY; August, I’m speaking at a retail conference in Minneapolis.
— I’ve developed a bit of “white coat syndrome” when I have to see a doctor, after having to see five specialists in a few months in 2010 for my arthritic left hip, which needs replacing.
— I usually have fresh flowers in our apartment; this week, peony and stock and three yellow spider mums. My favorites include parrot tulips, lilac, hyacinth, delphinium and anemones.
— I have three half-siblings, 5, 10 and 23 years younger. We all have different mothers and I’ve never met the woman who is my half-sister. Yes, it’s complicated!
— I love to play competitive sports. I was a nati0nally ranked saber fencer in my 30s, with a two-time Olympian as my coach, and have been playing co-ed softball for eight years.
— I live to travel. Some of my favorite places (so far) include Corsica, Thailand, Paris, Algonquin Park, Ireland, Maine.
— My favorite cocktails are Tanqueray gin and tonic, a spicy bloody Mary, a gin martini with olives or Lillet on the rocks.
— I attend an Episcopal church while my sweetie is a devout Tibetan Buddhist — a man of Mexican heritage whose own Dad was a Baptist minister. He’s taking me (shriek!) on a 10-day silent Buddhist retreat this July.
Please tell me some things about you!
I’m curious to know about y’all, and have you “meet” one another as well.
For example….I’d love to know what sort of work you do, or where you live and why you chose that place, or what sort of music you love.
Do you play an instrument? Have a hobby or passion?
Have you lived in different places? Which did you like best (and/or least) and why?
Twenty more shopping days ’til Christmas. I’ve already mailed my mom’s presents and still have no clue what to get my Dad.
Here’s my alphabet of non-mall, somewhat unstandard ideas:
A: Antiques. Not everyone is as crazy about them as I, but this time of year there are antique shows all over the country, from small, affordable local shows to the glossiest, vetted international events. If someone you love is a collector — of magnifying glasses, or walking sticks or majolica or Depression glass, an antique show is a fun, efficient place to find all sorts of good things and high-quality surprises. Auctions: again, many smaller, regional auction houses have extremely affordable possibilities, much of it viewable on-line and biddable by phone or email, from crystal decanters to prints. One of my favorites, William Smith, recently offered lovely 200+ year-old Japanese woodblocks, some estimated as low as $150 apiece. Alpaca: is light, warm, lovely change from cashmere. One of my favorite sources with sweaters and shawls of alpaca is the 33-year-old company Peruvian Connection.
Baked Goods. If you can afford a loaf pan, some flour, eggs, sugar and fruit, you can make banana, lemon or cranberry loaves. They’re quick, easy and delicious. Delicate cookies are impressive indeed, but anything home-made with love (and some skill!) is a treat.
Charity: For the person who already has everything, make a donation in their name. Camera: My sweetie, a professional photographer, gave me the Canon G7 Power Shot, a tiny digital camera that fits in the palm of my hand and takes fantastic images. I started my career shooting with Nikons. This is just as good — I’ve sold my images shot with it to The New York Times and Toronto Star, so far.
Duvet: It’s a European thing, but the best! Not cheap, but a great lifetime luxury. Light, warm, comfortable year-round. Cuddledown has good choices.
Elephants: I love elephants. I even rode one in Thailand, best travel experience ever. Here’s a great list of terrific non-fiction books about these creatures. If you don’t know and love the 78-year-old children’s storybook classic Babar, about an elephant family, check it out.
Fountain pen. I know, some people think they’re pretentious. Nuts. Using my Lamy makes even writing out my quarterly tax payments a little less painful. Filofax. Equally old school, equally elegant and sensual way to stay organized. Mine is a decade old, fuchsia leather. I love all its accessories — yeah, pre-Iphone apps — like a ruler in metric and Imperial, map of the world with time zones, NYC subway map and notepaper for jotting down random ideas.
Glasses. Champagne flutes, martini glasses, fun juice glasses. Crystal or glass, antique or new. I like these, with bees embossed in them.
Hermes scarf. Oh, go on. $300. Gorgeous. Their silk twill has a lovely crispness and feels like no other. The patterns can be spectacular and come in wonderful color combinations. Their site has perfume (Caleche is a crisp classic), men’s and even baby gifts.The orange box is heaven and so is the chocolate brown twill ribbon printed with their name; I wear an antique locket on mine.
Isamo Noguchi lamp. I love his simple, quirky white paper lamps, like this one, at $105.
Kitchen timer. Boring? Not if you have a crummy old stove or oven and/or you do a lot of cooking. Helpful to have several to coordinate the chaos at dinner party time. Affordable, cute, stocking stuffer: chickens or cow, $7.99 each.
Massage. Give one, get one. Or give a gift certificate for one.
Notecards. I’m crazy for beautiful stationery and recently discovered this great national chain, Paper Source.How about a set of personalized cards?A nice touch for all those thank-yous you have to send out while job-hunting.
Soap. Few affordable presents beat a hard-milled, long-lasting (like a month) fragrant bar of soap. Here’s all-natural, woman-owned Sarva soaps. Sephora carries Fresh soaps, $14 each, and anything by Roger & Gallet, three to a box, is a do-able luxury at about $16.
Toile de Jouy. (Twal de Jwee, for the non-Francophiles!) This is one of my favorite things in the whole world, a fabric design that dates back centuries. Pottery Barn has lovely cosmetic bags, two for $36, as well as bed linens and shower curtains, in this pattern.