summer tropics

On July 21, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Far more likely to engage my attention than a floral print is a botanical print. Perhaps because they tend to be more lively, less repetitive? Because I love the color green? Because they often incorporate more earth tones?

It is likely all of these things, amplified by the volume afforded by the maxi length. What I really like about this print is that it conveys a tropical look without being garish or neon about it.

floral print olive summer skirt

I am particularly predictable about this kind of olive shade, grounded and earthy, and just inexplicably compelling, the way one’s favorite things often are. Can we take a moment for these sandals? Adore these sandals. Can we take another moment to embrace shamelessly rumpled silk?

henna italian leather sandals

Henna still going strong.

Ah, the maxi, so easy, so cool and loose, such a strong impact of color by virtue of square footage alone. I quite enjoy the gathering up and sweeping around required to go up stairs and such, too, and very much enjoy the billowing that accompanies descending the stairs. Yes, long skirts rarely look so well as when they are displayed upon a stair.

J Crew silk camisole Coach sunglasses

I also love this Cleopatra-style necklace, which I picked up at a Cambridge artisan co-op a couple of summers ago.  Always on the lookout for interesting, handmade pieces like this. I recently met the owner of local company December Thieves, which specializes in pieces from emerging artists in jewelry and fashion. She has wonderfully curly hair as well! Obviously we got along. She has the kind of shop that makes you want to take up metalsmithing.

pearls stacked bracelet

Kara Ross bracelet, amber ring

Especially like to pair amber with earth tones.

J Crew silk camisole, silk blend skirt (thrifted), Kara Ross bracelet, Gian Luca sandals, Coach sunglasses. On the lips, Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in La Favorite (color showed better on instagram).

J Crew silk camisole Coach sunglasses

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on the menu: birdseed bran muffins

On July 19, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I enjoy cooking from flour, local chef Joanne Chang‘s first cookbook. It’s full of the kind of dessert-esque breakfast/brunch items I always want. This week I tried the addictive bran muffins (link to recipe), which won me over with the ‘birdseed’ topping.

flour bakery birdseed bran muffins

I made a few adjustments to work with what I had on hand, sour cream instead of crème fraîche, cream instead of milk, a little coconut flour and coconut oil just because, some mashed banana, some cinnamon, extra raisins. I also added white and black sesame seeds (to the prescribed flax seeds, millet, and sunflower seeds) to make things ultra-birdseedy. I also halved the recipe. With all these changes, the texture still came out nicely – to weather such haphazardness is a mark of a solid recipe.

One thing I would say is that the quantities are sometimes high. I think I routinely halve these recipes, and in this case I still made about 12 muffins, which is the yield given…so something is not quite adding up. But I don’t care, as long as the muffins are good.

flour bakery birdseed bran muffins

These are dense, not too sweet muffins, which seem not outright unhealthy, as is the case with certain muffins, and which improve with grilling or strawberry-rhubarb jam or both.

flour bakery birdseed bran muffins

Happy baking!

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the basket

On July 17, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I cannot say enough good things about this Memories bike basket from Netherlandic brand Basil, a complete game changer, bike-wise.

basil memories bike basket

Tough and stylish, available in several fun colors as well, this hooks on a rear rack (just gravity holding it on, so easy to remove as well) and cleverly includes a handle. I often shop or pack directly into it like this. It makes all kinds of previously tiresome errands a breeze.

basil memories bottle bike basket

On a grocery run recently I realized what a lot of wonderful use I’ve gotten out of mine, which I’ve had for about two years, and how much I admire the look. Such handsome and functional design, and in perfect harmony with the retro design of my bike.

introductory henna

On July 14, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been wanting to try to do my own mehndi for a really long time now, years. I really like the concept of a tattoo— and have a healthy appetite for tattoo reality shows—but I’m not yet drawn to any idea so powerfully that I want to wear it permanently. Enter henna, that clever, versatile dye.

It’s a different creature, really, than the etched precision of ink. It has its own history, and its own style, which varies from one culture to another, and lends itself beautifully to modern hybrids of tradition and innovation. Many designs have ancient origins and ancient meanings to match, ranging from simple patterns and shapes to those astonishing intricacy. You know how I like astonishing intricacy. If it is somehow tied up with wearable decor, so much the better.

henna paste cone

Somehow I wasn’t able to make the time for the project until I gave up, at least temporarily, on the idea of mixing my own henna paste, and got the ready-made cones (thank you, eBay).  I also needed a fair chunk of time, as the henna can take a while to apply and to achieve a dark, long-lasting stain it stays on the skin for at least 4 if not more like 6-8 hours. I had to decide on a pattern, too, which we won’t talk about how long that took. I opted for something geometric and straightforward to start.  If you are one of those people who can’t bear to look at feet, you’d best tap out now.

Designs on the feet connect the spirit, mind, and body to the earth. I like this kind of physical symbol or reminder, perhaps because my memory seems to need all the help it can get. And I like my feet. I like them as they are, just as I like my face as it is, but it’s appealing to embellish them all the same. It’s not exactly that I like them more when they are embellished…but I like the novelty and the energy of embellishment.

mehndi henna feet geometric design theseventhsphinx

I washed my skin and and rubbed it with eucalyptus oil (diluted) to prepare it to receive the dye. Henna also has an earthy, peculiar [though not exactly unpleasant, though not exactly pleasant] smell, which the eucalyptus combats. You snip the end of the cone to the desired diameter and essentially pipe the henna paste on, like frosting a cake. You can use a transfer to create the design or just freehand it as I’ve done here. I had a pile of cotton buds and toothpicks on hand to quickly remove errors before they became part of the story. I looked at a few hundred images and cobbled together two that I liked to make this design. You have to take care with anything around, as henna will stain a good many things if given the chance.

You keep your design intact for as long as you can manage, moistening it periodically with a lemon juice and sugar solution (I only spritzed mine with diluted lemon juice because I’m always going off-recipe, which seemed to work fine). It eventually starts to flake off and, in my case about 6 hours later, you scrape the remainder off.

mehndi henna feet geometric design theseventhsphinx

The initial stain is a bright rust, sepia, basically my favorite color ever.

mehndi henna feet geometric design theseventhsphinx

As it oxidizes it darkens into a deep, warm brown stain that lasts about 2-3 weeks. There are strategies for making it darker and longer lasting but I was only willing to be inconvenienced up to a point, and I’m delighted with the results of my first foray.

I don’t like to miss an opportunity to decorate myself in a new, personal way. And it’s so like me to want to do it myself, though I have seen mehndi artists at some of the Indian shops in the area. [Perhaps I’ll visit them after botching something with my non-dominant hand.] I find it extremely appealing, fitting, beautiful.

I absolutely love it.

I’m already thinking of what to try next, I like this medium so well. It’s versatile, flexible, it needn’t be too precise, neither in execution nor interpretation, and its duration is a comforting balance of not-quite-fleeting and not-remotely-permanent. And it’s beautiful.

Have you tried it?

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Happy 4th!

On July 4, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

MAC damn glamorous 4th of July

MAC damn glamorous 4th of July Ray Ban

Reebok stars and stripes tank, Hollister shorts (thrifted), MAC Damn Glamorous lipstick, Ray-Ban sunglasses.

MAC damn glamorous 4th of July

Happy 4th!

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