To Do List: August 2011


This month I’ve been making like a ping-pong ball bouncing back and forth between the two cities I call home: San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s a bit strange living two places at once because when I’m living the moment to the fullest in one city, I can’t help but feel I’m missing out on something in the other. That said I’ve done my best to take in the best of each city so here are the ten things (a few from each place) that made this month memorable:

READ: I usually have a cookbook on my nightstand and read them like novels. So when I travel, I make an effort to actually read non-food-related books. Anything by David Sedaris is always an entertaining choice and though I would have sworn I had read everything else he’s ever written, I realized that When You Are Engulfed In Flames somehow slipped through the cracks. The short stories are filled with the wit and humor that makes for classic Sedaris. The only problem is that I don’t want it to end. At least not until he has puts out a new book for me to read.

READ: Though I travel a lot for work, I haven’t been able to vacation this year. I know, I know, you’re playing the smallest violin in the world on my behalf but exploring new corners of the globe is what keeps my creativity ticking. Until I’m able to book that next adventurous trip flight, I’ll be getting my travel fix over at They Draw & Travel where, as the name suggests, artists submit whimsical illustrations of their home cities along with highly usable insider tips and tidbits. They also have delightful illustrations of recipe over at their sister site, They Draw & Cook.

COOK: I’ve never been to New Zealand (though it is on my short list), but when I get down there I’m quite certain I’ll want to be in touch with sisters Ingrid and Vanessa of FoodOpera. Their site says it all with stunning food photos, witty writing in a typewriter-style font, and somehow they’re fervor gets me excited about things like ordinary cabbage.

CLICK: Some fervent web searching led me to Eat Boutique a few years back and I’ve been following their evolution ever since. It’s a Boston-based blog and food marketplace and their taste seems right on par with mine because I’ve often been discovering products for foodCrafters or OpenSky only to realize EatBoutique is carrying that same product. They’re also friend with Boston pasty queen, Joanne Chang (whose book Flour is a must read), so they’re doubly cool in my book.

INSTALL: For years I had a picture of a Swoon (see below) piece as my computer backdrop but even gorgeous art can get tiresome given enough time. That’s when I started using Kuvva. They plaster your computer’s home screen with gorgeous visuals in what I call an art takeover. Each week there’s a series of art by a new artist and each day a different piece by said artist. There have, inevitably, been artists I’ve favored over others, but it’s a low-fuss way to get exposure to new art that I might otherwise never see — like a sort-of virtual art gallery that comes to me on a daily basis.

VISIT: Despite growing up in a graffiti-clad city, I never appreciate street art until I came across work by Swoon. It was years ago and I was walking down a street in New York and I searched online until The Wooster Collection informed me that I had had my first encounter with modern street art. Years have passed on street art is now shown in museums, like the MOCA here in Los Angeles. For the recent exhibit, Swoon installed a piece titled Ice Queen that stood over 15-feet tall, occupied an entire room, and was meticulously cut by hand like a giant set of old-fashioned paper dolls.

VIEW: Time-lapse photography always draws me in — there’s something about how one picture captures so many thousands of moments simultaneously that intrigues me. I’m drawn in and can visually explore them endlessly. My latest time-lapse explorations aren’t actually time-lapsed but are instead collages of thirty to fifty photos that blend seamless. This set of photos by Stephen Wilkes, coined Day To Night, are on display at NYC’s Chelsea’s Clamp Art Gallery through the end of October, but, if, like me, you don’t have any plans to head that way anytime soon, you can explore them online.

WATCH: The fog of San Francisco has a mind of its own. It’s totally unpredictable, showing up at inopportune times and ruining visibility across the city. All in all, it’s safe to say that I am in no way, shape, or form, a fan of San Francisco fog. Correction: I wasn’t a fan. That all changed when I saw this stunning stop-motion video of the fog that’s stunning and serene and is so aptly named, The Unseen Sea.

COLLECT: While researching for the holiday gift guide of CHOW way back when it was a print magazine, I had one of the magazine’s earliest contributors turn me on to Paris Hotel Boutique. Truth be told, my interest was primarily piqued by the name because way back in 2005 there wasn’t much a web presence to speak of. So I visited Lynn Goldfinger-Abram and saw all the marvelous travel-related antiques she had collected across the world including flatware from the Fairmont, a silver teapot from the Palace Hotel, and silver serving dish from the Ritz Paris.

LISTEN: Something about the horns and generous use of ukelele made me a fan of Beirut from the very start. Their new album just dropped a few days ago and I’ve already played it through many a time. It’s a distinct sound that I’m well aware is not for everyone, but the blend of nostalgic Eastern European sound, familiar voice of lead singer Zach Condon, and the subtlety of this new album shows that Beirut is maturing in a sophisticated manner that I’ll remain a fan of for the foreseeable future.

Photos courtesy of Swoon, Eat Boutique, Kuvva, They Draw & Travel, Paris Hotel Boutique, and Beirut

To Do Lists are monthly lists where I share my favorite discoveries of the last 30 days with you.

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