Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Wes Anderson Train

Now that Wes Anderson's "The French Dispatch" is finally out, let's look at a little side project he created: designing the interior of a British Pullman train car like it was one of his film sets!

Angular, symmetrical and intricately designed, Wes Anderson films are known for their exquisite aesthetics and predilection for panache. Just look at the snow-capped pastels of Zubrowka in ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, or the whimsically named Ennui-sur-Blasé in ‘The French Dispatch.’

Wes is an expert in rendering fantasy worlds that are a little more beautiful and satisfying than the ones we live in. With relentless details to feast upon and carefully calibrated colour palettes to pore over, his films aren’t just thrilling stories: they’re works of art.

Anyone who has seen ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ will also know that Wes has an affinity for the beauty and excitement of train travel. Starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, the film sees three brothers reuniting in India and embarking on a luxury train journey together.

“I have often had the chance to invent train compartments and carriages in my movies,” Wes tells us. “So I was very eager to make something new while also participating in the process of preservation which accompanies all the classic Belmond train projects. They are keeping something special alive. An endangered species of travel which is nevertheless very suited to our time.”

Cygnus—a carriage built in the 1950s—has its fair share of cinematic history, featuring in the 1972 film Agatha starring Dustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave. It is one of eleven on the British Pullman, whose carriages have hosted royalty, carried statesmen and survived World War II bomb raids over the years.

With his love of trains and passion for craftsmanship, Wes was tasked with balancing the history of the Cygnus carriage with his own bold and modern vision. The result is a carriage straight out of one of his films: stunningly symmetrical marquetry, bold rectilinear shapes and a feast of complementary colours.

With a pastel-pink ceiling detailing and a variety of green tones in the carpets and chairs, at first glance Cygnus feels like stepping onto one of the director’s film sets. Stunning marquetry work in numerous wood panels shows sunbeams, clouds, stars and waves.

Bold, sharp lines feature in the shape of the chairs and mirrors, adhering to the angular equilibrium the director is famed for. Eagle eyes will also spot the many swan details, referencing the carriage’s name and history.

Guests can ride in Cygnus on any journey on the British Pullman, a unique travel experience that rumbles across the rails all over England. Whether a murder mystery lunch through the Kent countryside or a sparkling dinner hosted by an up-and-coming guest chef, a ticket in Cygnus means you can experience the Golden Age of Travel while appreciating the beauty of modern design. With two private four-seat coupes or seats in the open carriage, the choice is yours.

Book a spot on Cygnus here:

Friday, October 15, 2021

Honey Lemon Chiffon Pie With Bees

I love clever food and this pie looks very clever. Little bees are made from chocolate covered raisins and almond slices, and the honeycomb pattern is made from bubble wrap!

1 (3.5 ounce) box chocolate-covered raisins
1/3 cup white chocolate melting wafers
Yellow food coloring
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 9″ blind-baked pie crust
1/4 cup cold water
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) unflavored powdered gelatin
1 cup clover honey, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh lemon juice, strained, divided
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
4 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream, divided
5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bubble wrap, to set
Lemon wheels, to garnish, optional
Flowers to garnish, optional

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Line the chocolate covered raisins in rows.
2. Place the white chocolate melting wafers and a few drops of food coloring in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave to melt according to package directions. Mix until smooth and yellow.
3. Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and then quickly wave the fork over the chocolate-covered raisins, back and forth, drizzling over the melted yellow chocolate to create stripes. Dip the ends of the almond slices into the remaining melted chocolate and press the almond slices onto the sides of the chocolate-covered raisins to create wings. Allow the chocolate to set before moving the bees.
4. Meanwhile, make an ice bath ready by partially filling a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water.
5. Pour 1/4 cup cold water into a saucepan and sprinkle all over with gelatin. Let the mixture sit until the gelatin absorbs all of the water, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup of the honey, and then whisk in the salt, 3/4 cup of the lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolks. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook for about 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened slightly. Don’t let the mixture come to a full boil. It will continue to thicken much, much more as it cools.
6. Immediately transfer the saucepan to the ice bath to let cool until the lemon mixture is cold to the touch. Whisk occasionally to make sure the mixture is cooling evenly.
7. Beat 1 1/2 cups of the cream with 1/4 cup of the confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form. Mix in the vanilla extract and beat again until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream, a bit at a time, into the cooled lemon mixture. Keep folding until smooth and well-combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and smooth the top. Firmly press the bubble wrap, bubble-side down, onto the surface of the pie. Make sure that the filling has filled in all of the crevices in between the bubbles to get the neatest indentations. Transfer the pie to the freezer for at least 4 hours, to set. Once you can peel the bubble wrap off without disturbing the filling, it’s ready to glaze.
8. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the remaining honey and lemon juice and microwave for 30 seconds, or until softened. Mix well and brush over the top of the frozen pie. Refrigerate the pie for an hour to thaw.
9. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining cream and confectioner’s sugar until stiff peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream on top of the pie and decorate with the honey bees, lemon wheels, and flowers. Serve.

This delightful recipe comes from Morgan at Host The Toast.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

BEAUTY: Ceramics--Julia Pilipchatina

I am in love with these beautiful handmade ceramic plates by artist Julia Pilipchatina. Her technique for making part of the plate look like it is carved from wood creates a magical balance with the matte black and gloss white ceramic and occasional gold line. Stunning.

You can purchase her work from her Etsy store.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

More Collage...2021

Last year when the pandemic started, regular readers may recall that I spent some of my downtime creating a lot of new art work including a series of collages previously seen here. I enjoyed playing in that medium so much that I have continued to create collage pieces. Here is a sample of what I have been making...

Top to bottom: The Aeire (They Can Come From The Sky); Because the night is dark and full of dreams...; Before The Divorce; Counterpart - The Two Pools; The Experiment; Ghost House; The Healing Place; I Call You, You Call Me; Life In A Northern Town; Natives; Opacity; Playing Chess With Bucky; The Rain; Trip To Nowhere

Monday, October 11, 2021

Happy International Coming Out Day 2021!

Today is the 33rd annual International Coming Out Day. This celebration started in 1988 as a way to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement.

Coming out, whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, matters now more than ever. When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law and that is of utmost importance in this day and age when our civil rights and our very lives are still under attack. But beyond that, our stories can be powerful and empowering to each other, inspiring change.

Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality. If you haven't yet, join us.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Bill McClintock's Mash Ups

Sometimes mash ups (the practice of editing two disparate or perhaps similar pop songs together into a single new musical piece) can be a little like annoying novelty songs from the 70s or 80s, but every once in a while someone hits on a combination that feels so right. And then there is someone like Bill McClintock who creates mash ups on an entirely different level for his Youtube channel.

Although it requires some familiarity with these artists catalogs to appreciate the full quirky, unexpected shock of it all, the original source material is enough in the zeitgeist so as not be completely lost.

Take a listen to this jaw dropping extravaganza of Nine Inch Nails with their brutal song "Closer,", Ohio Players with their phenomenal funk hit "Fire," and a bit of special guest David Bowie with his legendary song "Fame."

Then there is the completely surprising marriage of Fleetwood Mac's "You Make Lovin' Fun" with Earth Wind and Fire's "September." Who could have possibly seen this one coming?

And then this miracle of rock and funk rocks and gets down! Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady" and Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion." Let's just call this song what it is: awesome.

Friday, October 8, 2021

BEAUTY: Art--Justin Bateman

Artist Justin Bateman (not the actor) recreates famous paintings and sculptures in found pebbles and stones on beaches to delightful effect. His eye for tonality makes these special.