Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Provence

france france
fields of poppies from a distance
Notice the adorable elderly couple on the bottom left, I only now just saw that...

When I went to Provence in 2008, I had a crappy point-and-shoot digital camera. At the time it suited my 18-year-old self just fine, but now looking back on it, I so wish I had bought myself a nicer DSLR. But with the genius photo apps that are out these days, especially Afterlight, I've been able to enhance my old photos and make them into something that I am actually proud of. 
And what did I listen to while I was editing these photos? None other than a French-y mixtape ---

1. Charlotte Mittnacht (The Fabulous Destiny Of...) - Devotchka
2. Forks and Knives (La Fête) - Beirut
3. À bicyclette - Yves Montand
4. La Valse D'Amelie - Yann Tiersen
5. Mimizan - Beirut
6. Elegy - Hey Marseilles
7. Lay Your Head Down - Keren Ann
8. Berceuse - Coeur de pirate
9. Mamanita - Jelly Roll Morton
10. C'était salement romantique - Coeur de pirate
11. Moon Waltz - Roger Neill, Dave Palmer & Brian Reitzell
12. Liberty - Keren Ann
13. Bauhaus - Hey Marseilles

provence church
provence carousel france provence windows poppies provence

Friday, July 19, 2013

Samantha French


These underwater paintings by Samantha French are so seasonally appropriate right now. It's so fascinating how she perfectly captures the ever-rippling water movements and reflections that you would see from the bottom of a pool. 
Her works bring back summer childhood memories of having an underwater tea parties and pretending to be a mermaid...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Albums I Will Always Love: Kate Nash, Made of Bricks

Kate Nash
Made of Bricks

Kate Nash rose to popularity in the US just about the same time that her fellow sassy, British chanteuses did (think 2007 - Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Adele). And although people loved to lump them all together, I would argue that they are so so different and each deserve their own place. Kate Nash was less brash and sexual than Lily Allen, which I think to most girls my age at the time, made her more accessible. Her lyrics are straightforward and always funny. She sings about the woes of seeing your crush make out with another girl to dancing at discos and eating cheese on toast. You can relate to her and she makes you smile. 
With Kate's lovely, strong British accent, accompanied by well orchestrated music, Made of Bricks urges you to move and get out. The record screams "Girl Power," and empowers me, and I hope other girls, to not let boys get you down and defeat your spirit. You're made of bricks. 

And my friends were like whatever
You'll find someone better
His eyes were way too close together
And we never even liked him from the start
And now he's with that tart
And I heard she done some really nasty stuff
Down in the park with Michael
He said she's easy
And if your guy's with someone that's sleazy
Then he ain't worth your time
'Cause you deserve a real nice guy
 - We Get On
Birds can fly so high
And they can shit on your head
And they can almost fly into your eye
And make you feel so scared.
But when you look at them
And you see that they're beautiful
That's how I feel about you
 - Birds

Check out: "Foundations" - the single that started it all, "Nicest Thing" is beautifully dramatic and mellow, and "Skeleton Song" is a silly, head-bopping song about being awkward. 

Buy: Amazon | iTunes

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mixtape Monday: What I am Listening to and Why

Here are some songs I have been loving on lately and why:

1. Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. & Pharrell) - Robin Thicke (I mean, this is THE SONG of the summer. Even my mom loves it, and yours probably does too.)

2. You (Ha Ha Ha) - Charli XCX (for fans of: Marina and the Diamonds and M.I.A.)

3. The Way We Are - Kate Boy (watch the video above)

4. All You're Waiting For - Classixx (This band takes a page from Daft Punk - but adds an 80's tinge to their sound.)

5. Unblessed - The Mary Onettes (80's all the way - perfect for a party at the beach)

6. Take My Hand - Charli XCX (If you're loving Icona Pop right now, you'll love this gal.)

7. Speak - PEAKS

8. Chloroform - Phoenix (standout track from their latest effort)

9. Tennis Court - Lorde

10. No Church In the Wild (feat. Frank Ocean & The-Dream) - JAY Z & Kanye West (super sexy track off The Great Gatsby Soundtrack)

11. Hannah Hunt - Vampire Weekend (My favorite song off Modern Vampires of the City.)

12. Wedding Song - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Karen O is a goddess divine.)

13. Young and Beautiful (DH Orchestral Version) - Lana Del Rey

14. Boy - Emma Lousie (for fans of: Imogen Heap and Kate Havnevik)

15. The Ghost on the Shore - Lord Huron (dreamy and lush)

16. Rafstraumur - Sigur Ros (Thank you, Sigur Ros, for releasing two amazing albums barely a year  apart from one another.)

17. New Lover - Josh Ritter (Josh Ritter always puts me in a great mood.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

5 Summer Beauty Essentials

summer beauty

 When it comes to summer beauty essentials, sunblock is always a given, but here are some of my other picks I am loving for the season:

(left to right)

Mint Water
We've got an abundant mint plant that seems like it grows several inches each day. I love sprucing up my hydration with some refreshing mint. 

Moroccan Henna Lipstick
I am now in a phase of my life where I am always wearing color on my lips. I love a good moisturizing, long-lasting lip balm/stain (read: hard to find). When I saw The Man Repeller's post on this magical, green Moroccan Henna Lipstick that stains your lips a rich, pink hue (color varies depending on your own specific body's pH levels), I knew I had to try it. I feel like I did see these lipsticks in the markets when I was in Morocco a few years ago and am kicking myself for not being experimental and buying  unique beauty products when I was there. Anyways, I am a fan of this - the color lasts most of the day and I love the vibrant raspberry color that appears on my lips. 
I would recommend buying it on ebay - there are several sellers and all come at a reasonable price.

Trader Joe's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
This is the new "it" hair treatment it seems, and rightfully so. I like to work it completely through my dry hair about an hour before I shower and let it sit. It might take a washing or two to get all the oil out, but I swear my hair becomes rehydrated and more manageable. Plus, I love the unsweetened coconut smell. 

Covergirl Clump Crusher by LashBlast Mascara
So happy Ulta was out of my former go-to mascara, so that I had to buy this one - and fall in love. It truly leaves lashes clump free, which to me looks natural and as lashes should look. I have green eyes, so I get it in the brown because the red undertones in the brown mascara contrast my eye color - making my eyes look overall brighter and clearer. 

T.N. Dickinson's Witch Hazel
My friend recently recommended using witch hazel as an acne fighting agent. It really does clean out your pores and tighten your skin - and helps to dry up your pimples without making your skin look like an alligator. Great for topical stress acne. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pimm's Cake

pimm's cake
pimm's cake
One of my best friends studied abroad at Oxford during a summer in college and came back a full-fledged Anglophile. After arriving states-side, she introduced me to her new favorite cocktail: Pimm's Cup, a gin-based liquor that is typically mixed with lemonade or ginger ale and garnished with cucumber, mint, and citrus. It's refreshing and so British-ly brilliant. 
For her birthday this year I decided to make her a Pimm's Cake - a boozy sponge cake with shredded apples baked into it, filled with a cucumber - mint icing between the two layers, only to be topped with a glaze and traditional Pimm's garnishing fruits. 
It turned out to be such a flavorful, moist cake that perfectly captures the essence of Pimm's  - and summer. 
I would serve this to the Queen of England. 

Pimm's Cake
(adapted and converted into US Standards measurements from this recipe)

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups caster sugar (how to make your own caster sugar)
2 cups self rising flour
3 eggs
1 large apple, grated - skin on
3/4 cup Pimm's No.1

Mint & Cucumber Buttercream Filling
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
A handful of mint, chopped
few tablespoons Pimm's No.1 (optional)

Lemon Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Pimm's No.1

1. Butter and line two 8" round cake pans with parchment paper.
2. Whip the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs one at a time.  
3. Add the flour, grated apple and Pimms and turn mixer on a slower setting until combined.  
4. Divide batter into 2 cake pans and bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 - 28 minutes, or until done. Let cool.
5. While the cake is cooking/cooling, make the buttercream filling: whip together the powdered sugar and butter using an electric mixer until a stiff buttercream forms. Add in the chopped cucumber and mint  - and a few tablespoons of Pimm's if necessary - and mix until combined.
6. In a separate bowl make the lemon glaze by whisking lemon juice and Pimm's with the powdered sugar until the right consistency is reached (not too runny - or else it will go everywhere!).
7. To assemble: spread the buttercream over the bottom half of the cooled cake, then place the other cake on top. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of the cake and garnish with cucumbers, oranges, mint, strawberries - whatever you would put into your Pimm's Cup.

pimm's cake pimm's cake

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Spaghetti Westerns II

I am late to the game, but I just got Lord Huron's debut album Lonesome Dreams and I am smitten. There is a Don Quixote/dreamlike quality to their sound with bouts of Bob Dylan thrown into the mix - perfect for another Spaghetti Western-themed playlist.

1. The Stranger - Lord Huron (This album is so great, I am going to have to write a separate post just to brag about it)
2. First Push - Devotchka & Mychael Danna (music from Little Miss Sunshine)
3. Something's Rattling (Cowpoke) - Benjamin Gibbard
4. No One Gets Left Behind - Devotchka & Mychael Danna
5. End of the Earth - Lord Huron
6. Exhaustible - Devotchka
7. Black Roses - Escondido
8. Algiers  - Calexico
9. The Pharaohs - Neko Case
10. Sinner in the Sea - Calexico
11. Down by the Water - The Decemeberists

hear 'em:

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