Let it slide

Sadly, I've been letting this blog slide, but I've been focusing my efforts over at the Q blog. Most of the fun/interesting things I've seen recently have been videos rather than reading, anyway. I just haven't had much extra time as I'm starting to get Fall things in, so that means unpacking boxes, checklists, styling, photographing, computer editing, marketing, etc. etc.

I'm still here, though...


Cha cha cha

Thanks to Grace Weston for the head's up on this. Cheers me no end to watch! (p.s. Go look at Grace's photography—she's a genius!)




Spent the day working on spreadsheets. Just shoot me.

Staying cool by drinking iced tea with fresh mint and raspberry honey.

Watching dvds of the series Justified, and we are all addicted. On Season 2 now. All I can say is Margo Martindale is one terrific actress.

The dishwasher is on a rapid decline, so the Obscure household is experiencing the delights of handwashing dishes.  It's not so bad, gives my brain a nice break, so I'm not complaining. Really, I'm not.


Sale at the shop!

I've been working hard on this Look Book (featuring local artist Lisa K. Alan; take a peek if you haven't seen it already! You can click on any photo for more information) and there's a sale at the shop to celebrate.



was the fifth anniversary of my husband's death.

Here is the poem I read at his memorial service, by Gregory Orr, from Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved:

If death, then grief, right?
Well, yes, but also
Relief, release. And love
That goes past death, that
Keeps the connection
So many think death severs.

And then, of course, there's joy,
Because what we're after
Is the fact of resurrection—
That's what the heart longs for
The poem accomplishes:
Praise that lifts up the body
Of the beloved. That wasn't
A grave, only a door that closed
And is now open, opening onto a poem.



Down with a cold/flu/something like that, so I'm distracting myself this weekend between naps and cups of hot tea.

Free shipping at the shop!

Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett performing together (finally). Two of my favorites from my Austin Days.

Just re-watched In the Loop (2009), still funny as hell. I couldn't stop laughing. Don't watch this if you don't enjoy creative obscenities.

Currently reading:


RIP, Ray Harryhausen

Best special-effects guy ever. Images from Sunset Gunshots.

The Skeleton Army from Jason and the Argonauts. Still the scariest, and still my favorite.


Yo Mama Compliments

Just squeaked it in there... Happy Mother's Day!



Yesterday, author Maureen Johnson proposed an experiment on twitter: take your favorite novel and image what the cover might look like if it was written by someone of the opposite sex, or who was genderqueer. The results are hilarious and telling. I'm pretty sure my favorite is for Lord of the Flies.

The original:

Written by "Willa Golding":

Johnson explains:

And the simple fact of the matter is, if you are a female author, you are much more likely to get the package that suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality. Because it’s “girly,” which is somehow inherently different and easier on the palate. A man and a woman can write books about the same subject matter, at the same level of quality, and that woman is simple more likely to get the soft-sell cover with the warm glow and the feeling of smooth jazz blowing off of it.


The French Jeweler's Smock

Going back to my post in December about the book Cheap Chic, I mentioned that I found a French Jeweler's Smock on my first-ever trip to Paris (1983; I was living in Northern Italy at the time). It was made of unbleached linen, about knee-length with long full sleeves and open sides. I found one photo of me in said smock, which I usually wore that winter with a long full black skirt and cotton turtleneck underneath, and a pair of cheap suede ankle boots purchased at an Italian chain store I want to call Basta (but I don't think that's right). In this picture I'm also wearing it with a fair isle sweater vest and cotton scarf I got at a Paris flea market. (The weather was very chilly and damp that winter. We lived in an apartment built in the 1500s, no central heating, no phone, no laundry facilities.)


The baby's not mine. I babysat for some friends in exchange for use of their washer and dryer. The bag at the left was a splurge at a local boutique: a raw leather backpack I carried everywhere.

I don't remember what happened to the smock, for which I now give myself a big dope slap every time I think of it. It disappeared in one of my subsequent (frequent) moves.

This is the closest thing I have been able to find, from an artist's supply in Great Britain:

Not the same, though. Mine had no buttons, it just slipped over the head and had a bateau-type neckline with small pleats.



The missing shipment has been found and is enroute from NYC! so while I wait for my inventory to arrive, enjoy...

✜How did I not know about this blog before?! "How to Be Like Robert Benchley":
Look at the people in the Congress, or the Chamber of Deputies, or the Parliament in London, and listen to what they say. The only logical ending to it all is that the world is headed for dementia praecox, with all the buildings tumbling down, all the water works shooting up into the air and all the citizens bumping into each other with trays of hot soup.

And yet automobiles dodge each other as if by magic, passable motion pictures are produced, many people stay married all their lives and actually don’t seem to mind, and only occasionally does hell break loose entirely. It’s a pretty lucky old world we live in, when you consider its possibilities.

✜And this store? Office supply heaven.

✜Sylvia Plath wrote a children's book? An odd concept, maybe, but the illustrations by Rotraut Susanne Berner are charming:

and I'm off to mail my first modest round of packages...

Glad to be unhappy?

from Godard's Band of Outsiders via google
 ...it may well be that the French are only less likely to call themselves happy—and what’s unclear is whether the gloomy or skeptical turns of phrase that they use to describe their states of mind correlate to their actual states of mind. It may be the language of happiness that eludes the French rather than the underlying condition. Unhappiness, after all, often implies the desire for change—in circumstances, or even in oneself—and so dissatisfaction with life despite its material benefits suggests a kind of idealism—of intellectual vision of possibilities beyond the actual—that would, at the very least, match up with even the most superficial or stereotypical view of French culture...

In debates here over teacher evaluation and the testing of student skills, what has been lost is the question of the very substance of education. I have long thought that there is a quiet conspiracy at work to reduce education to training—to generate students who have the skills to get a job rather than the historical perspective or theoretical detachment to criticize authority. It’s a commonplace that knowledge is power, and the emptying-out of classroom substance in favor of abstract and deployable abilities is a terrifyingly surreptitious way of shifting the balance away from the individual. The rumblings from France may be just what the utilitarian faction has in mind to avoid.

From Richard Brody in the New Yorker.


The shop is open!

I have no fingernails left, and haven't had a good night's sleep in a week (lost shipment hasn't turned up yet), but the shop is open!


I'm going to go have a big glass of wine...


Gremlins afoot

A shipment of clothing from France has gone (temporarily, I hope) missing. I spent an entire afternoon writing up a full page of store policies and it vanished into the internet aether, never to be seen again. Functions that should be working on the store website are not. Shipping labels are not printing properly (after years of doing so just fine)...




The trailer for the new Joss Whedon film "Much Ado" reminded me that I've owned this cd for years. This song (by far my favorite from the album) is perfect for today.

I made steel-cut oats this morning, enhanced (or adulterated, depending on your point of view) with toasted hazelnuts and dried wild blueberries.

One of the benefits of owning a greyhound: I discovered a very nice little paved walking trail in my neighborhood. I've lived in this area 12 years and never knew it existed. It's back behind a nursing home/apartment complex. The woods it goes through isn't particularly pretty (lots of blackberry brambles, english ivy, and dead/fallen branches), but it gives me trees and quiet. There are benches placed throughout (for the benefit of the seniors living nearby, I'm guessing). Looking forward to visiting often.

p.s. I want my hour back.



Well, we had a day or two of sunshine and temperatures in the 50s, which made us all get our hopes up here in the Pacific Northwest. But of course, the weather returned to its mildew-inducing rain and chilly temperatures.

The Hound donates blood every 3 months at the local veterinary blood bank (turns out retired racing  greys make excellent universal blood donors). It was a long drive in the heavy rain, but his donation is so much appreciated and he gets lots of love and treats from the great staff at the hospital, as well as a quick check-up, so it's worth it. He's very calm about the whole business, as long as he gets his treats.

In between ordering and receiving for the shop (it's odd ordering things for summer and next winter simultaneously), I decided to make some comfort food-- in this case a cream of tomato soup recipe from the smitten kitchen (skipping the grilled cheese tonight, but it's an excellent recipe too). Listening to Joshua Bell play Gershwin's But Not for Me, drinking my favorite cheap white wine from new French glasses. I'll have the soup with a big salad and some nice warm bread. Ahhh. Who cares if it's cold and rainy?


from smitten kitchen


The new blog is up!

The Quotidienne blog is up.

The shop is still under construction, but you can click the link and see some of the designers I'll be carrying... I'll be setting up email notifications for the shop itself in the coming weeks.

Whew, there's still lots to do and much to learn. Back to work for me...


Here is a hint of things to come in the spring. The bulletin board in my studio, where I'm posting pictures of things ordered for the shop, making sure it all works together.

(Notice the Tarot cards at the top: Strength and The Fool. Story of my life.)


Welcome to hell

(thanks to Lisa for this)


The stuff of nightmares

Clearly, Orla Kiely never worked at a dead-end, soul-sucking, boring office job in the 70s. In a windowless, fluorescent-lit room with a horrible boss breathing down her neck. Having to use carbon paper and Wite-Out, for christ's sake. I could go on but I think I'll just go stab myself in the eye instead.

And that's my fashion comment for the day.

{Photos of Orla Kiely's AW 13 collection from the otherwise perfectly lovely blogs Kris Atomic and what's your tale nightingale.}



Things for the shop, which is to be called Quotidienne, are progressing. I'm still planning to open some time next month.

My professional dress form (which for now will be my model), just arrived the other day. She needs a name-- any ideas?

I've received some beautiful scarves, and a few gorgeous handmade bags from the Netherlands will be on their way soon... and a local bag maker is working on a collaboration with me to make a small clutch. I spent part of an afternoon last week at her studio looking at leathers and talking design. It was a delight.

My studio has been cleaned and rearranged. One wall is covered in photographs of the clothing I'm considering for the shop. I want to see everything together, so it flows, and things can be worn together, even if they are from different designers. 

In the meantime, I am working 7 days a week... any free time is spent walking the greyhound, keeping my house relatively organized, doing yoga, and sleeping. I'm having a blast.


So here's the deal.

I haven't been posting much recently, as I've been very busy working on a "project", as they say. Actually, the project is giving myself a job. I've decided to start up an online clothing/accessories  boutique. It's going to start small, and modest, and I'll go from there. Fortunately, Portland is a mecca for the self-employed and DIY business community, plus there will be no sales tax!. I'm committed to selling well-made things that are more minimalist than trendy, and beautifully designed. I'm also trying, as much as possible, to source things that are made in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. (I'm considering a couple of items that are made in China but with environmental/sustainable/ethical practices. We'll see.)

I'm hoping to open in March, but much depends on the shipping/manufacturing schedules of the designers I'm working with. This is all still in the works. And it's a one-woman operation, so I'm learning a lot of new skills (happily, I love learning new things). It's a risky thing to do, so I'm throwing everything I have into this.

There will be a blog that accompanies the shop, but it will focus on the designers, the clothes, and other style-related topics. I'll still be posting here, though, for the time being.

So, if you know of any small-scale, independent designers that you think I should know about, please comment! (You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find someone making good, simple, comfortable  trousers and skirts that don't cost a million dollars.) I've been researching extensively and for a long time, but there are always new things starting up. And someone may be local to you but wanting to expand... My only requirements are that it has to be designed with a minimalist sensibility-- well-made, good material, and unfussy.


"Life is always either a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope." -- Edith Wharton (Happy 151st Birthday!)

 (via Powell's Books)


RIP Andrée Putman, 1925-2013

andrée putman
Interior designer and "Ambassador of Style" Andrée Putman passed away yesterday at her home in Paris. From the Daily Beast's obit:
Putman would rise to become an icon of French chic. She was an "Ambassador of Style," the title of a 2010 retrospective on her work at Paris's City Hall. She cultivated close associations with the fashion world in the 1970s as artistic director of Créateurs & Industriels, a design bureau and breeding ground for talent famed for launching the likes of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and Thierry Mugler.
 From France24:
Seen by many as the Grande Dame of French design, the chic Parisienne was the subject of a retrospective at Paris city hall in 2010.
Her daughter Olivia, who now runs the Putman design studio and who curated the show, said Andree Putman "became a style ambassador in spite of herself -- she just did her own thing, she would never have claimed such a role."
 More about Putman, her life and work, at Studio Putman.


"Let everything happen to you.
Beauty and terror.
Just keep going.
No feeling is final."

~ Rainier Maria Rilke
via Lost in the Moment...


Cambridge Satchel Co.

I first heard about Cambridge Satchel Company maybe in early 2009. I saw a little blurb about them on NotCouture. I was looking for a school satchel for my daughter (who loves all things British) and thought it was perfect. I emailed the company directly to ask about the leather and how they were made, and corresponded directly with Julie Deane. She was lovely! And when she heard we were coming to London that summer, she invited us to stop at Cambridge and see the shop. (I still regret that we didn't have time.) Anyway, the bag arrived and my daughter, now a junior in college, still carries it every day. She says she's gotten a million compliments on it over the years. And the bag has held up fantastically well.

Here's a great interview with Julie at Refinery 29. She's an inspiration to me.
How would you sum up the working environment here? What kind of mood do you try to create?
"I want it to be friendly. I want the factory and office to be somewhere where people feel proud to work. We employ 84 people now, and I know them all and I know their families. That’s really important to me. At Christmas when we’re super-busy, if someone’s child is in a school play, then we make sure that they go and watch it. I created this business because I wanted things better for my own children, and I’m not going to do that at the expense of other people’s families."
My daughter's bag: the Classic Satchel in vintage brown. No embossing.
pic from cambridge satchel co.


I'll be glad

From the great Elvin Bishop.

And from Lowering the Bar (via Boingboing): One-Armed Man Arrested for Clapping. (In Belarus.)
Anyway, once it became clear that clapping was dissent, clappers were rounded up. And like all thuggish regimes this one was not too particular about who it arrested. That included Konstantin Kaplin, who said he was convicted of "applauding in public" despite fairly conclusive evidence of innocence: he's only got one arm. "The judge read out the charges [and] the police affirmed that I was applauding," said the one-armed man. "The judge looked ashamed of herself," he said, but she imposed the fine anyway.
A journalist was also quoted as saying that a mute woman had been charged with "shouting antigovernment slogans," but there was no independent confirmation of that.


Market Research

(For an upcoming possible project, I swear.)

Loeffler Randall Felix boots (pretty much perfect, and less expensive than my previously designated perfect pair)

From Makié, a wool coat and indigo top (on sale!).

...and I'm thinking one of these may be needed. My desktop doesn't travel well (don't own a laptop) and I loathe "smart" phones: