— Noted.



I got the most perfect surprise birthday present from my girlfriends. They took me to the Philip Johnson glass house, with the current fog installation by Fujiko Nakaya.










The property had several structures on it that Philip Johnson designed and used.
A little library:



Painting gallery, with several revolving walls of notable contemporary art, including Frank Stella:



Sculpture gallery:



Pavilion, and stair sculpture:



I always thought Philip Johnson was a very serious man, with his black glasses and stern face. But it’s clear, he was not afraid to experiment. Adjacent to the glass house is a brick house. And the pavilion shown above is a bit of an optical illusion as the ceiling is only 5’3″ in height, meant to appear further away than it really is.

Philip Johnson died in the glass house in 2005, at the age of 98. If you are in the NYC area, it is the perfect day trip by car or train. The fog installation is on until November.



I’m a follower of Nicholas Kristof‘s column and the Half the Sky movement he has led with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. After reading the book, I was inspired to sponsor women in Rwanda through Women for Women, and educated on
the potential of a girl’s education, despite the threat it poses. While this past Sunday’s column comes off as a softer subject in the midst of his usual reporting on inequalities around the world, it takes one to know Kristof to understand he actually really wants us to visit the far-off places, for the far-reaching potential that it would make the world a better place.

Read it here.



And, adding no. 53 of this to my to-do list.


Faroe Islands. Photo by Hans J. Hansen.



I went to Palm Springs for the first time a few weeks ago. I’ve not seen much of the Southwest at all, and aside from seeing my best friend, was mostly excited about a trip to Joshua Tree. As I nosed around for places to stay, I saw that the Ace had a location in Palm Springs, which totally satisfied my vision of doing a morning of hiking in the desert in the early morning, and swimming in a pool and lounging with a michelada in the hot afternoon.

I am always at odds when it comes to staying at hotels. The practical side of me hates spending lots of money on something that will disappear as soon as the stay is over. The designer side of me wants to stay at a place that is well-considered and special. I most often settle for the place that looks clean enough and not much more.

The Ace in Palm Springs is my idea of a perfect hotel. The rates are affordable, and the rooms are just the right amount of detail (and more fun than fussy).

From the ace website, this is the room we stayed in:




And here are a few details I noted:





Artwork in the room for sale:




A little black make up towel:


The hotel used to be a “mid-century desert modern former Westward Ho with a Denny’s.” The cafe made me think of the episode of MadMen when Don is on the Ho Jo account and goes for a visit:





On my way between the two pools:





And the pool. The glorious pool. Quiet in the morning with its orderly shades:




In full disclosure, I do have to point out the fact that we went in the heat of summer, which is the winter of Palm Springs, when the locals hibernate inside their air conditioned rooms and no one is caught wandering outdoors in the noon-to-6pm afternoon sun. Our room rates were low, the hotel was quiet, and the trade-off was a 110° forecast. But I loved it, and it was perhaps the perfect city escape and final extra defrost that I so needed. And I am encouraged, by how much there is left to discover, in places near and far, that can suddenly change your secure feeling of how much you know of the world around you and somehow, then… the adventure is only just beginning.


Back from a splendid vacation in Palm Springs, and I can’t stop thinking about the chilled corn soup I had at this Austrian restaurant. I know what you’re wondering — corn soup, Palm Springs, Austrian food? But it all made sense at the time (could have been the 112° desert heat)! Found a recipe to try to replicate:

From Bon Appetit:

Chilled Corn Soup with Lobster Salad


Photo by Ditte Isager


Speaking of chilled soup makes me think of my all-time favorite, first tasted when traveling in southern Spain. It’s a creamy version of a standard gazpacho, but made creamy by adding bread. Recipe here!

Gazpacho Andaluz from Saveur


Just when you think web design really can’t get all that exciting, a site like this comes around. Simple, but really beautifully executed. From COS:

To celebrate our arrival in the US, we’ve gathered a collection of things we love from across America – people, places and objects from each of the 50 states.

Explore the project: http://projects.cosstores.com/50things


And, looking forward to seeing COS in America. For a mass brand, I’m impressed by the level of consideration they put into everything they do. Curious as to how well they will do on this side of the pond.

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I discovered these blocks at the Bauhaus museum in Berlin. So simple, each block has a different material inside — making different noises when rattled. In a world where we can become over-stimulated with beeps and whizzes, it is amazing how satisfying it is to jiggle each one. Sparking wonder. Instant joy. A special gift for anyone with child-like curiosity.


From a google translation of the product description:

Sounding Blocks
rings in 12 cubic blocks and rattles it, which have a few same color and same sound. children from 1 year can with this little kit first experience in the stack with a make basic form. accompanied by the sound of the dice. the acoustics will be trained: blocks of the same sound can be associated with each other. strong rainbow colors from yellow to blue help with the assignment. a block game that meets the assumptions of the bauhauslers, who have dealt with the design of toy: the game is to prepare joy while fulfilling an educational purpose. as material was already at that time related mainly wood in bright colors. kept the 4 x 4 x 4cm large stones in a soft cotton bag. a nice entry into the world of shapes, colors and sounds.


When I was in Guatemala, I stayed at a beautiful inn on Lake Atitlan that had a memorable breakfast. The owner would come around to chat with us, and I asked her what was in the coffee she was serving. She revealed her secret: cardamom. Add just a dash of it to your grounds before brewing, and you get a wink of being in a foreign land. Cardamom is related to ginger, and has the same digestive-aiding qualities — a perfect mix-in to cut the harshness of coffee.

It’s become my simple dose to a perfect morning.

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One of my favorite museums in the world is the British Museum in London. It is a beautiful space, the main structures designed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1823, and completed in 1852. In 2000, Norman Foster designed the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court which is the inner courtyard and also the largest covered public square in Europe.




I will admit it. I find museums of anthropology to be challenging. It’s a task to find some kind of emotional connection to historical artifacts, perhaps also because of the underlying notion that the artifacts are so important, they must be delicately placed in a temperature controlled glass case, usually in a dramatic building. Halls are organized by periods and regions, and just one glance at the signs (e.g. Chinese Jade from 5000 BC – present) makes me want to head straight for the cafe and bury my face in a cappuccino.

However, The British Museum is lovely. I spent all day there wandering. The objects are beautifully arranged, with careful attention to color and composition. I found myself wanting to know more about the objects, drawn into the simple (yet carefully considered) context that they were given in their presentation.






One of my favorite pieces was this white porcelain “moon jar” from Korea’s Choson dynasty (1392–1920). The moon jars served practical purposes of for storing rice, soy sauce, alcohol or sometimes displaying flowers. There are now only 20 left in the world. But the reason why the moon jar is so celebrated is because of the purity of the porcelain and the imperfections of the jar’s contour.

“This jar shows this exquisitely, with the imperfections in the clay and the glaze, as well as in the bulge around the centre that marks the join between the upper and lower halves of the body.”




No future plans of making it to London? Check out, A History of the World in 100 Objects, a book that is edited in a way that reminds me of the British Museum’s curation (which is no wonder since it is authored by Neil MacGregor, the museum’s director). One of my favorite objects is #45: Arabian Bronze Hand, from Yemen, AD 100-300.


Need to plan a trip to Toronto, to visit the bookstore that sells these books:


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Photo by Ángel Franco/The New York Times.

If you get the chance to go to Puerto Rico, you have to seek out this fluffy bun called the mallorca. It is covered in powered sugar, and you can ask the bakery to press it in the sandwich maker with a slice of cheese inside of it. Some even go so far to also add ham, but that seems a bit much if you ask me. Sugar and cheese melt into a gooey mess and there is this perfect mixture of sweet and salty, low (sliced cheese) and high (local delicacy), evil and good.