Friday Links

“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

On Wednesday I put on construction boots and gear and got to go through a Grade II listed historic building site getting nicely dusted up. Yesterday we put on the event I’d been primary planner on at Somerset House and spent a few hours going around in heels and a LBD entertaining the super wealthy with caviar, champagne, and vodka (the sourcing of which on such short notice has rather consumed my work life for the last week and a half). In other words, the gig continues to be great!

It also continues to be terribly busy so here are your links, quick and dirty!



Pemberley is for sale, team. And it has a bear pit.

Words can’t express how heartily I endorse this.

Well, this is grimm…sorry. I’ll show myself out…

Who knew that C02 could like this artistic?

Ebloa, already a horrifying disease, has another scary component I just learned about this week, a degree of sexual transmission ability. Yikes.

Jeff has found his next cooking project.

Well this is just positively heartwarming. Be sure to read the follow up for extra heart warms.

There’s nothing like living in a fashion capital to make you doubt your style abilities. Bill Cunningham to the rescue.

The struggle is real.

The effort that goes into cheese. Totally worth it.

The Real Apple Store

“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”
— Carl Sagan

As part of the Apple Day festivities, Borough Market set up one of the cleverest display exhibits I’ve seen in a while. Come and step into the REAL Apple Store!

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Now that’s just cheeky. The set up was made to deliberately mimic Apple Inc, down to the blue shirts of the display minders.

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But rather than digital and electronics, the display was of 1000 varieties of apples, one for every year of Borough Market’s existence.

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This apparently is the oldest recorded variety of apple in Britain, and it’s still around.

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We loved it. It was cute and clever and fun!

Apple Day at Borough Market

“It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Borough Market is currently celebrating 1000 years of history, and this year’s Apple Day pulled out all the stops with a proper harvest festival. Players put on traditional skits featuring English folk heroes like Robin Hood and anthropomorphic woodland creatures, Morris dancers performed, and a Green Man (a pagan throwback, probably to harvest and fertility gods) presided in a fab costume. The big deal this year was a display of 1000 apple varieties, including the oldest known variety to come to Britain. There were tasting stations to try the apples, the kitchens hosted baking classes, and generally a nicely traditional time was had by all!

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Some of the varieties of apples grown in and near London throughout the centuries.

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The players performing, alongside a Corne Queene, a traditional symbol of plenty and constructed entirely of harvest bounty.

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The Green Man (also called the Berry Man and any other number of names across the centuries), a symbolic nature figure who appears in literature and traditions across Europe.

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One of the players hands out conkers…

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And the Morris dancers immediately start a game!

Sunday Bulletin

Two of our nephews made a bargain to go a year without video games in exchange for a to be determined request, and to our collective surprise, they made it! They also gave Jeff and I a lesson in hypothetical parental bargaining because one of them asked for a motorcycle which my brother and sister-in-law are now contractually obligated to produce. But what the younger one really wanted…was a pet lizard.

Today Jeff and I learned what he called him: Harry.

Literally so he could say to it, “You’re a lizard, Harry!”

Carry on.


Friday Links

“Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.”
― Gustave Flaubert

It’s Friday, I’m putting the Russian event to bed and gearing up for one involving Rolls Royce. Life is surreal right now. It’s also Jeff’s 29th birthday and I get to tease him about being old (while wiser people roll their eyes at us). I have to say, he is aging marvelously.

We celebrated earlier in the week with an excellent dinner at a restaurant we’d both wanted to go to for over a year, and it was worth it! Tonight it’s pizza and movies with presents.  Over the weekend it’s freelance, food, and writing/editing. I’m pleasantly tired and looking forward to it. If I could find a way to mix in regular exercise again, I would be downright impressive. Here are you links, with extra holiday cheer, and share anything else worth reading in the comments!

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The view from Jeff’s birthday dinner. Not bad.

The John Lewis Christmas film has arrived. And I am in irrational love with it. Call me ridiculous, but as the companion of an intrepid and well loved teddy bear, I think this advert nails both the relationship and the general loveliness of the season. Sue me.

Sainsbury too?! Guys, my heart grew three sizes this day.

And speaking of childhood wonder: loop forever.

The madness needs to stop!

Newly working with luxury developers as I am (she humbled bragged), these caught my eye.

In case you haven’t noticed them on The Toast, their women in Western art pieces are hilarious. But this is my favorite yet.

I snort laughed, remembering the feeling of the limitations of my first paycheck well.

Good luck sleeping tonight.

Oh dear…some of Jeff’s “dance” moves are validated…

My religi-crush on the Pope continues.

Keeping Up With the Marlboroughs: Ai Weiwei and Blenheim Palace

“I do the thinking, you do as you are told.” -Alva Vanderbilt to her daughter Consuelo (later Duchess of Marlborough) Sit back and strap in, kittens, because today we have a massive post for a massive house. Blenheim Palace is the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough and began as a project of the first Duke and Duchess, who were favorites of Queen Anne. Today it’s still one of the grandest homes in the country.  photo blenheim1_zps6c186488.jpg For a sense of the size we’re talking, this massive entrance isn’t even in use.  photo blenheim2_zps0f4e5ab7.jpg Like many great homes, much of the house is open to the public for a fee. But it’s still a working estate in many ways, and as these houses were supposed to do, employees a small army.  photo blenheim3_zps36fbfd1f.jpg We absolutely lucked out (a theme of our travels this summer) because it just so happened that Blenheim was hosting an exhibition by the famed artist and activist Ai Weiei. The contrast between the establishment that one of the most prominent aristocratic families and houses of Britain represents and the anti-establishment artist was quite interesting and his ultramodern pieces within the historic staterooms was very effective. This chandelier is one of his pieces, and does not belong to to the house.  photo blenheim4_zps4dd0cd84.jpg One of the most famous of the family, Consuelo Vanderbuilt was one of the American heiresses whose family traded her wealth and beauty for position. By the time she married the 9th Duke (under duress), Blenheim was in serious need of funds. During the Gilded Age, these marriages were the stuff of society papers and saved many a British estate. Downton Abbey portrays this, somewhat unrealistically, but the reality behind it is correct. Many American beauties, including Winston Churchill’s mother (who married another member of the extended Marlborough family) made the bargain. One interesting fact I learned is that the Marlborough family is the only other highborn family in Britain, besides the Royal Family, to allow daughters to inherit the title. And interestingly enough they did it three hundred years before the current government got around to doing it. The 1st Duke and Duchess had several children but none of their sons lived to adulthood, so a special inheritance law was passed that applied only to their title to allow their eldest daughter to assume the title of Duchess in her own right, rather than as the consort of a Duke. Downright revolutionary stuff at the time.  photo blenheim5_zps42edcb59.jpg And speaking of! One of Ai Weiwei’s pieces covers the carpet. Contrast the historical art with the new…  photo blenheim6_zps54894a4b.jpg Ceramic crabs, a comment on the sea-based economy of some parts of China.  photo blenheim7_zpsc5fac2b1.jpg Commentary on tradition and stability.  photo blenheim8_zps6b36017f.jpg Pieces representing the Chinese zodiac signs…  photo blenheim9_zpsdab12b54.jpg Located in the unbelievably big formal dinning room. Apparently this cavern is never used by the family except on state visits…and for the family Christmas dinner. I don’t think I’d be able to eat a thing with that much history bearing down on me.  photo blenheim10_zps1bb59b24.jpg  photo blenheim11_zps01521676.jpg She might have been miserably married and later happily divorced and remarried, but Consuelo’s influence still reigns supreme at Blenheim. The palace might not be standing today if not for her money. That banner over the fireplace also has an interesting role, apparently it’s the “rent” that the Dukes pay to the crown, a new one is presented annually, and the Queen has a collection of them somewhere.  photo blehnheim12_zps44d0f1dc.jpg Another Ai Weiei piece beneath a portrait of Louis XIV. One Duke had a small obsession with Louis’ larger than life persona and sense of building scale and decided to redecorate Blenheim, modeled upon Versailles. The effect was less than impressive as Blenheim might be massive, but it’s not Versailles, and the scale of the new gilt and moldings ended up not being what His Grace envisioned. By which time, of course, the money was spent and the fait was accompli.  photo blenheim13_zps5cbd86a0.jpg Pearls as rice.  photo blenheim14_zps1c5183e8.jpg The beautiful library with a most un-quiet looking (and staggeringly massive) organ at the far end which is kept in good form by daily recitals. I was quite perturbed to have missed that! And on the walls…  photo blenheim15_zpsad32c36a.jpg A series of Ai Weiwei at various significant social, political, and religious sites with his, um, reaction. Offensive yes, but an interesting series to hang where it does.  photo blenheim16_zps19df7099.jpg Horrible grounds, really. Quite tragic.  photo blenheim17_zps96531126.jpg Those poor Marlboroughs.  photo blenheim18_zps86043b78.jpg Such an embarrassment.  photo blenheim19_zpsb4b0440e.jpg  photo blenheim20_zps93885c0f.jpg  photo blenheim21_zpsaee142e4.jpg Oh well, I guess we all have our trials.