Friday, February 20, 2009

Settling in like Snowflakes

My new living situation has made it possible for me to take adorable domestic photos like Nikki's. I have always enjoyed seeing life through her lens.

These strawberries were actually
on the vine when I bought them!
May I point out that the bowl is landlady's but the mini fork is mine, and they kind of match. The art nouveau mirror was the first thing I bought when I moved to Bay Ridge, optimistically anticipating more atmosphere than I had, really.

Landlady left the pretty flower arrangements in my room. I think the roses are my favorite.

I took a photo of a house on sale. Do you like this one?

Or should we pool our pocket money and get this one instead?

Having run out of houses for sale on the street I walk to the metro station, I finally snapped a shot of the cutest yellow house with its yellow Bug parked in front. And check out the giant fir tree. It's on a fairly busy corner, but not so busy that nobody will notice me...I'm always self-conscious about photographing houses...


This is an exciting place to live. I've got everything I need within walking distance but in case I need to travel further afield I'm only a
short metro ride away from some new shopping developments.

Where I am, though, there are so many amazing luxury stores that I will never need - Dior, Gucci, Tiffany, Van Cleef and Arpels, et al. are literally sitting in a row. Practically across the street corners from one another are Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus. Obviously Macy's just wasn't good enough to join in.

The Mazza Gallerie has Ann Taylor, Williams Sonoma, and some other specialty stores I don't need, Neimans being the anchor for this development. Across the road, the Chevy Chase Plaza next to the Embassy Suites was a surprise waiting to be found, and I did discover it finally yesterday. There's Ann Taylor Loft (more my line, where I buy my suits and better classic casuals), Pottery Barn, the Cheesecake Factory, J. Crew and Banana Republic (both more old-school preppy than Ann Taylor Loft), and my favorite, World Market, where I found some long-needed spice mixes, exquisite spicy snacks, and talked myself out of buying the Digestive biscuits even though I miss them, because I'm used to buying them for pennies, and would rather have gourmet cookies for that price.


People I've encountered have been very chatty, friendly, helpful, and complimentary - without me reaching out first. Many people smile if you make eye contact, even accidentally, and my response to this is not as automatic as it was when I lived in Texas, but maybe it will come back. Once upon a time I used to smile so much more than I do now. You can't smile at Londoners, they think you're a) loopy, b) high, or c) going to mug them. There were random New Yorkers who used to tell me to smile as I walked down the street, but then they're not incidental smilers themselves!


Oh! I nearly forgot to tell you about the dinner I had with C, the lovely lady who hosted me when I visited last month. She took me to a place near all those swanky shops I told you about. It's a brasserie-bar called Clyde's, and apparently a Washington institution starting with the smaller original in Georgetown, where all the good old boys and other political types congregate. No two Clyde's are the same; depending on the location, some are country casual, some are antique classics; the one near me is large and spacious as befits the neighborhood, with cushy little booths and for once I didn't feel far away from the table, or too low behind it. Very wood-panelled with potted palms, the free walls are covered with art deco murals from the Golden Age of travel. Scale model replicas of classic planes hang from the ceiling, and racing cars sit on the counters. Next time I go I promise I will take photos. In the meantime you can see some at the link above.

We ordered a starter of creamy crab and artichoke dip with baguette.
On Tuesdays most bottles of wine are half price, and we ordered a crisp Chardonnay which came in a silver ice bucket on a stand.
We split our main courses of:
1) Two fresh large-chunk crab cakes with aioli, green beans, and two little stacks of sweet potato slices pan fried to crispiness on the edges. I am no lover of sweet potato but this was a winner and I ate it all.
2) Rainbow trout in a delicious and hearty parmesan crust with green beans and roasted new potatoes.

We were way too full for dessert. I love the classy yet laid-back vibe there (perfect after a hard day at work) and hope to return not too long from now. It certainly wasn't cheap, but definitely not as pricey as it sounds, and way less than the dinner on Park Avenue last week.

There will be more adventure this weekend as Chris is driving to town from NYC for a snazzy dinner party and a visit to a museum so stay tuned.


Selba said...

And.... I'm enjoying to see your life thru your pics in here :)

Happy Weekend, Livie!

nikkipolani said...

Looking forward to seeing more of your new home and the neighborhood. I wonder how is the housing market in DC? And it'll be interesting to see how those high-end stores fare in these economic times. If you ever try ZipCar, I'd love to hear about it!

MattJ said...

There's something about American colonial(?) houses that i REALLY like. In Pittsburgh, there was such a mishmash of styles, it was lovely.

The 'new' Beetles however are little more than Audi TTs that have been smacked on the arse witha shovel. making an already ugly car even uglier.

You want cutsie awesomeness, Fiat 500 For the win! :D

Flighty said...

Thanks for a nice read, and good photos!
Have a good weekend! xx
Matt's right it's the baby Fiat that's real cute!

Olivia said...

Selby - happy weekend to you too.


Nikki - don't worry, you can count on me to show you my 'hood ;)


Boys! Boys! Where did I say the VW Bug was cute? I said the house was cute and I liked the fact that the car outside matched it, though the house looks much whiter in the strong afternoon sun.


Matt - yes, colonial style, you are correct.

I love the new Fiat 500! Have you seen the pictures??? I just want to keep one in my pocket.


Flighty - I am always glad when you like my posts, so thank you for letting me know.

Have a good weekend.

michelle Gosse said...

oh love the house pics

Glo said...

What a lovely newsy and delightful post ~ it's so much fun reading your adventures and seeing the sights as you get to know your new 'hood ;) It's amazing to think of all of those shopping temptations close at hand. Looking forward to more artistic shots at home and others of the area. :)

You're settling in very well, aren't you? (hug)

MattJ said...

Good! so long as we are all agreed the VW Beetle blows, we can all move on with our lives :D

The Moody Minstrel said...

Blows or not, the VeeWee Bug will always occupy a special niche in the American psyche. It was the first car many a Yank owned (quite often well used and held together with duct tape), especially if s/he was in college. Either that or it was one of the first cars owned by a friend and thus got used for chauffeuring a lot. ;-)

I'll never forget the beach trips we used to take in college with five or even six of us crammed into one friend's bug...which often had trouble starting and had a bed defroster, but it always somehow got us there and back! (It was our fallback in case the guy who owned a truck said no...which was most of the time!)

I love those colonial-style houses, too. (High five to Matt!) Still, I often think a Victorian-style mansion (with ghost) would suit my tastes a bit better.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Excuse me, m'lady: the bug had a BAD defroster.

Guyana-Gyal said...

You have a wonderful knack for finding all the good things, mmmm.

I just remembered a show on tv, beautiful homes, people with interesting careers in craft...wood carvers, pottery people, book binding, all sorts of interesting stuff, all over America.

divastar said...

Ooooh love the bowl of strawbs, they looked scrumbumdiddly! :o) You haven't given me your new address Livsy, I still have your Chrimbo gift to send for you so let me know on email. Love you sweetie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tea N. Crumpet said...

That picture is so perfect! I just want to eat the strawberries off my screen! Yum!

Why do people order each other to smile? I was at the college the other day and my tester wasn't around so I went to get a bottled water. Some woman walked up to me at a bulletin board and said, "Smile!" I said, "Hasn't your mother told you to not talk to strangers? You have not been with me for the past 48 hours and smiling is inappropriate at this time." (It wasn't, all had been fine, but I said so just because I am sick of it.) I wound up telling her that she'd never seen me before and that her comment was as appropriate as me ordering her to loose weight and that she had harassed me!

At my Kairos weekend at the prison, fellow salt-of-the-earth women who did not know that my grandmother had just died. I was quietly praying for her when I was back at our HQ. You'd not believe how many women seeing me not angry but just not registering a smile thought that they should order me to smile. I mentally told God to deal with them. Why don't they just pray for you when they see you not smiling? Send you good vibes? Tell you a funny joke? I wanted to commit a felony and we were volunteering at a prison!

Olivia said...

Glo - oh they are definitely not temptations. They scare me! But when I went to dinner with C last week, we looked in the window of Nanette Lepore and she said, "Hey, we should come here sometime and try on all the dresses!"


Thanks for the hug. Here's one back. (Hug)


Minstrel & Matt - true, there is a whole national history with the VW Beetle, and the little van. And I have to admit, as awful compared to today's cars the old bug was, it is a fascinating vehicle.
The new bug is a neat idea, had its rush of popularity, but in all honesty I don't see that many of them in the streets now.


Minstrel 2 - huh???


GG - fascinating - see, people who don't live in America need to see that not all Americans fit the stereotype and there is actually a strong cultural backbone of resourceful, artistic people, traits they often inherit from their colonial, pioneer, or immigrant ancestors.


Diva - they were amazingly sweet. Wish you all could grab some off the screen.

I thought I had given you my address! But I checked last night and see I haven't. *slaps forehead*
OK, I will email you. Love you too.


Tea - it's interesting that you take it in a different way.

I have no idea what I look like when I put on my "London face". Many foreign visitors to London cannot understand why everyone looks so sour and miserable. I have to say, that is exactly how I felt - sour and miserable.

Now, the glowering London face is sometimes an automatic thing, though it is finally lightening up, especially on a sunny day, and especially with the friendly people of this neighborhood. I am relearning how to go out with a more serene expression and if I am thinking about lovely things, which is much easier when you live in a place you like, then I kind of look like a good person to exchange a greeting with.

But I don't mind people reminding me to smile, and here is why:

In 2002, when my parents were in the midst of their divorce back home, I had just moved to London to pursue my master's degree. This was the first time in my life when I can literally say I lost my smile.

I would arrive at Christie's each morning and the Swiss girl who lived with physical pain (suffering not only with Crohn's disease but also IBS and often took days off class), would say in an encouraging tone, "Smile, Olivia." I would manage a wobbly something in those hazy days. But ever since then, I have been aware of what I am conveying with my face. I also remember when, a year later, I began to remember to smile on my own once more. Since then, it is still much more likely to drop, because since those days, I cannot now make my own sunshine.

There is also that interesting practice called Smile Therapy whereby you can improve your mood merely by the conscious exercise of the smile muscles. I believe it works. As does Laughter Therapy.

What say you?

MattJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Moody Minstrel said...

I was correcting a typo, m'lady.

Sheesh...remind me never to say a friendly "good morning" to "Tea N Crumpet" in passing! Not unless I have a helmet on (or a bucket over my head)! I guess my upbringing at the hands of parents who were country folks trying (and failing) to fit in in suburbia never quite prepared me for the urban frost. I'd never make it in London...

Olivia said...

Minstrel - LOL I didn't catch it before. A bed defroster? What is that, the Siberian Special Edition?

I read what (unnamed) said before deleting (it was a very British thing to say too), and what you say about London...yes, I came here in the search for sunshine and happiness - outside and in. And I have found it. If someone wants to smile at me, let them, and I will smile back because that's some good exercise.

nikkipolani said...

Hey, there's a new name to this blog!