Monthly Archives: February 2012

Homme Sweet Homme – Paul Newman

Dear Paul Newman,

Because of the Old Hollywood theme of last night’s Oscars, I have classic movie stars on my brain. I’ve been playing with a theory for a while now and I thought a cloudy Monday would be the ideal time to make it public. My theory is that you are the most attractive and stylish human being that ever lived. Here is the evidence:

It doesn’t hurt that you were buddies with one of my favorite writers ever (Gore Vidal) or that you created a great brand of organic foods (Newman’s Own). Your face, your clothes, your career. Everything is perfect.



Filed under Style

Outdoortimez in the City

Dear Cities,

You know, I love living in a bustling city filled with people from all over. But lately, I’ve been feeling cooped up. All I do every day is drive around searching for stuff. Which is fun. But sometimes I just want to get away from everything. Normally, when I feel this way I go visit my parents in the forest where I grew up. But work has prohibited getting away lately so I’ve been craving some time away from the crowds, outside in nature. This week, Emily is hosting some web shows for HGTV so I’ve been helping her plan and execute some outdoor makeovers. Luckily, this has provided us the opportunity to play together outside, which is the next best thing to taking a vacation in nature.

Our first stop was a nursery in North Hollywood. Basically, we needed enough plants for two backyards, but our budget was only $1000 so we needed a cheap place to get a boatload of plants. Cut to Emily googling “cheap plants in the valley.” We found a place called Los Pinos Nursery not far from our favorite vintage shops. It’s a beautiful, HUGE nursery filled with big, healthy plants. A word to the wise, if you go to this place you should probably learn to speak Spanish first. Communicating was done primarily by Emily speaking convincingly in Spanish that may or may not have been gibberish (sidenote: her Spanish is 500 times better than mine).

The nursery was so big you had to drive through it. It felt like Jurassic Park.

We used lavender for one of our makeovers. We found it here for $5 a pot. Steal!

We decided to buy some of these beautiful grasses for one of the backyards Emily is decorating. Until the guy working there was all “why are you buying so much garlic?!?” I had no idea garlic looked so much like grass. Lesson learned.

Being around so many plants made me want to sing out loud. But I didn’t. Because that would have been totally gay. Almost as gay as getting excited about going to a plant nursery.

I wore a denim shirt to make it seem like I was ready to do manual labor. (I wasn’t).

Emily named these plants “Dr. Seuss Plants.” We are both noted botanists, renowned for our understanding of plants.

Palm trees and power lines always make great silhouettes. It’s a fact of life.

In case you are in the market, Los Pinos Nursery also sells huge piles of dirt. Yay!

One of the backyard makeovers Emily designed involved using stumps. We found stumps at Alpine Firewood in East Pasadena. Pictured here is Emily looking adorable in front of a huge pile of logs.

This wood yard had piles and piles of firewood. Each stump was $5 – $10. The guys working there thought we were total freaks for caring what the stumps looked like. Also, those stumps weigh about 700 pounds. Luckily we had help launching them into our production van.

So I got my outdoor fix in a weird way this week. It’s not quite the same as stargazing under Yosemite Falls, but for now I’ll take it.



Filed under Style

Dollhouse Update: Done? Not Even Close!

Dear Dollhouse,

We’ve had a tumultuous relationship. At first, I loved you hard. I worked so dilligently on you and was so excited to see you. Now, I fall into the fetal position an start crying every time I hear the word “Dollhouse.” I’m not saying that working on the dollhouse isn’t the funnest thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life, I’m just saying that my life is devoid of the kind of “free time” that would be conducive to contributing the necessary time to my beloved dollhouse. Anyway, I have made a bit of progress with the help of a friend. Here it is…

I changed the color of the fireplace in the master bedroom to white and added a concrete hearth to add some warmth. The “concrete,” like everything else in the house, is made from foamcore.

I found these chairs at CB2. They’re Christmas ornaments that I bought on sale for $0.95. Not bad for dollhouse furniture, which often costs as much as normal furniture (exaggeration).

The structure of the back of the home is coming along nicely.

The concept for the roof is that it’s falling in and rotting away, allowing for plenty of skylights. The majority of the master bedroom will have a glass ceiling (insert joke about women in the workplace).

I stained the outside of the barn to make it look old and distressed. I used diluted acrylic paint. I’m pleased with the results and cant wait to stain more.

A fun fact about me is that I love staining things to make them look darker and richer. And by “staining” I mean “drenching in self-tanner.” And by “things” I mean my skin. And by “darker and richer” I mean “tan and gorgeous.” I’m scared.

My architect/friend designed this bed for me. It needs some bedding but I’m liking its simple modern lines.

I love the way the light falls through the back of the house. The beams will eventually be painted white from the inside and stained to look old and distressed from the outside.

This is the beginnings of a sofa. Just made out of wood, glue, and stain.

It’s based on this piece from episode 3 of Secrets From A Stylist.

These are some more $0.95 chairs from CB2. They need some baby cushions but I love them.

This is a the view from outside the floor length windows in the dining room. I have a fetish for huge windows.

And aerial view of the barn.

So that’s where I am right now in dollhouse world. I’m going to try and get a bit done this week and then have a major Oscar pre-party where I trick my friends into helping me by bribing them with alcohol. Yay!



Filed under Decor

What is a Food Stylist Anyway?

By Contributing Food Editor Jared Levan

Dear Non-Food Stylists,

I would like to set the record straight on what exactly we, as food stylists, do for you and your endless love of food. Though you may not realize, food as you know it could not be the same devoid the skills we employ to practically every photo shoot or TV show you’ve ever seen.

For example, do you think the limes in this photo just happened to fall into frame and angle themselves perfectly in respect to the light source? Nope. Did this perfect sprig of cilantro trim and place itself? Don’t think so.

While the responsibility of actually taking the photo still lies with the photographer, the task of making the frame composition as beautiful as possible falls to us, the stylists–photographers know photography, food stylists know food.

Perhaps an analogy will help. Though we’d hardly claim to be as chic, think of us as an army of Rachel Zoe’s (HUGE fan!), dispatched upon the culinary world to make everything look fabulous; we wouldn’t dare send a “client”–e.g. turkey sandwich–in front of the cameras without looking flawless and neither would Rachel if that client were a celebrity.

Instead of choosing from a wardrobe of designer pieces, we choose from a selection of perfect, un-bruised produce. In place of make-up and accessories, we use everything from rubbing alcohol and tweezers to super glue and paint brushes, some of which are seen here…

The result is food porn. Here is an example of my own work:
Monster Mushroom Burger styled for Bobby Deen’s Not My Mama’s Meals

The moral of the story: food stylists make good food look great so when somebody tells you it’s what they do for a living, you won’t have to say “oh, neat…what’s that?”

Now you know.


Jared Levan


Filed under Style

Fun With Fashion: Hippie Weirdo Artist Glamour

Dear Fashion World,

I go through phases with fashion. Sometimes, I’m preppy. Sometimes, I’m casual. And sometimes I want to dress like a crazy misunderstood artist. Right now I’m feeling a strong attraction to anything casual or hippie-inspired. I just want to put on some comfortable, soft, flowing clothing with a lot of layers and sit at a coffee shop talking about my feelings to anyone who will listen.

The following looks are from Diesel Black Gold.

For more Diesel Black Gold looks go here.

These three exciting ensembles are from Acne. These looks incorporate one small hippie nod (the strap sandal) into an otherwise completely fitted, modern, urban look. Combining styles never hurt anyone.

I’ve always been a fan of shorter shorts on guys.

Remember when bicycle shorts were popular in the 90s? This guy is bringing it back. Thanks, Model.

This guy looks like a cynical art critic on his way to tear apart a new art exhibition. And I like that.

View more Acne looks here.

The most impressive selection of hippie looks comes from Rogan, which is a New York brand headed by a dude from Colorado. You can definitely see the outdoor, mountain influence in his work.

This guy looks like he is about to paint something on a canvas. And then cry about it.

Ugh! This guy is SO aloof! I’m so jealous.

I love this weird hooded shirt thing. Hay!

A pop of color is always welcome in my wardrobe. And my house!

“I’m so bored I couldn’t even bother to move my hair out of my eyes.”

Me: “I love you.”
Model: “I’m straight.”
Me: “I was talking to the sweater.”

This graphic leather necklace makes me want to go to a concert and dance to “We Are Young” by Fun (video below).

For more Rogan looks go here.

“We Are Young” by Fun

Sometimes it’s hard for me to get dressed because I have such a schizophrenic fashion sense. But I know one thing for sure. I love me some hippie style, draping garments, and strappy sandals.


PS: All images courtesy of

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Shopping With Emily (Without Emily)

Dear You,

Firstly, I’d just like to thank you for being you. Secondly, I’d like to let you know about a super exciting post I just wrote for Emily’s blog. Go check out Shopping With Emily!



Filed under Decor, Style

Whut Glamour – Richard Haines Fashion Illustrations

Dear Artist & Illustrator Richard Haines,

I was perusing the style section of the NYT recently when I came across some of your fashion illustrations. They reminded me of how much I love your work and how much joy I get from looking at the drawings you create. Seeing them makes me want to be transported into a cartoon world where everything is as gorgeous and appealing as it is in your work. The line quality, the casual yet refined rendering style, the lovely washes of color. It all makes me so happy. Thanks for making such pretty illustrations. Thanks also for your delightful blog, What I Saw Today.



Filed under Art

Why It’s Okay To Be Sad About Whitney

Dear Diary,

I was in the car on Sunday after the Rose Bowl Flea Market and a Whitney medley came on the radio. At which point tears started streaming down my face. I was a little confused as to what I was so upset about. After all, it’s not like I was besties with Whitney Houston or that I was one of her biggest fans. Quite the contrary, I made fun of her crazy antics along with everyone else. But upon further investigation I’ve decided what bothers me so much about her death is the loss of something so beautiful, a gift so incredibly rare and wasted.

When I think of Whitney, I think of her in the 80s. She was blessed with such an incredible gift and it came in such a beautiful, exuberant, youthful package. Her performance in the video for “How Will I Know” (which is maybe my favorite song alongside “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”) is the essence of vitality. She just drips with beauty and talent in this video.

Here’s the video:

I also love these images of Whitney in the 80s and 90s. They are photographs of somebody who could have (and did at times) had everything. Sure, she was hardworking and ambitious, and that counts for something. But she was born with an innate gift, an unparralleled voice, that ultimately went wasted. That seems kind of harsh, given how many songs she created over her life, but she could have created more. When you love an artist, you just can’t get enough of her work and I definitely think we didn’t get enough of Whitney.

The sadness about her death, aside from the tragedy of someone with a family dying so young, is for me about a lost opportunity to create beautiful things. When she died she was no longer the youthful, vibrant siren she was in her 20s, but I always had this subconscious hope that she would clean herself up and somehow get her voice back so that she could continue to create beautiful songs to share with us. When someone talented dies too early, it feels like a robbery and a waste (recently deceased artist Mike Kelly and incredible talent Amy Winehouse come to mind).

With all these thoughts in mind I’m not going to feel weird about mourning the death of a stranger. With Whitney we’ve lost not only an American icon. We’ve lost something beautiful, an artist who created wonderful things that made us happy and, in ways small and large, enriched our lives.



Filed under Art, Style

Chili: The “Gumbo of the Midwest”

By Contributing Food Editor Jared Levan

Dear Chili,

We’ve historically recognized you as a spicy stew made of beef, red chilies/chili powder, tomatoes and beans, but these days it seems you’ve lost that straight-forward sense of identify.

When you look at any number of recipes today, the combinations aren’t limited to just beans and beef. On the contrary, the combinations are practically endless yet they all retain the name chili.

Some have meat and no beans. Some have vegetables and no meat or beans…it reminds me of gumbo, actually. A wise man once described gumbo to me as follows:

“If it crawls, flies, swims or grows, then it belongs in your gumbo.”

In the same way gumbo recipes have been tweaked and embellished to include everything under the sun, so too have the myriad chili recipes you’ll find out there. Case in point: My homemade concoction (below).

Smoky Braised Pork & Beef Chili with Fresh Chimichurri
2 Lb Lean ground beef
1-2 Lb Pork loin
2 x 28 Oz Canned San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
1 Yellow onion, chopped
1 Cup Sweet yellow corn, roasted
20 Oz Organic black beans
10 Oz Organic pinto beans
1 Cup Beef stock
1/2 Tbsp Ground cumin
1 Tsp Garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Smoked paprika
2-3 Tbsp Mexican chili powder
1/2 Tbsp Fresh ground black pepper
2 Tsp Sea salt

In a large crockpot, combine crushed tomatoes, paprika and all but 1 tsp of the chili. Season pork loin with black pepper, garlic powder and 1/2 of the salt. Place in tomato mixture, cover and cook on high for 3 hours.

Remove pork from crockpot and reduce to low heat. Allow pork to rest for 5-7 minutes before chopping into small cubes. Meanwhile, sauté onions in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil until translucent. Add ground cumin and remaining chili. Stir to coat and add to crock. In the same pan, brown the beef. Add to crock pot with juices.

Add rinsed beans, reserved pork and corn and allow to cook for an additional 30-45 minutes on low heat to allow flavors to blend.

Classic Chimichurri Sauce
1 Cup cilantro, packed
1 1/2 Cups Italian parsley, packed
1/2 Tbsp Ground cumin
4 Cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 Cup Red wine vinegar
2/3 Cup olive oil

Chop garlic cloves in food processor. Add cilantro, parsley, cumin and process to a paste. With processor running, add vinegar. Add olive oil just until the mixture begins to emulsify; this may take some or all of the olive oil. Store at room temperature and spoon on top of warm chili.

Keep on doing your thing and I’ll keep on eating you by the bowl full, chili.

Happy cooking all.


Jared Levan


Filed under Style

Wherefore Art Thou Roman Shade?

Dear Roman Polanski,

I know you’ve been quite controversial recently, and I’m not going to comment on that. What I will comment on is the fact that you share a name with my favorite type of window covering (Roman Shades). And perhaps that counts for something. Actually, no it doesn’t…

Roman Shades are a great alternative to drapery for a few reasons. Firstly, if you’re a dude (or a butch lesbian), they’re way more masculine in appearance than a flowing drape. Having them in your apartment and/or home will make you look way less ladypants than a house full of girly drapery. Not that there’s anything wrong with looking ladypants. I’m wearing women’s jeans right now. Secondly, Romans are more modern. So if you like rectangles and hard edges, a roman shade is probably much more your style. Finally, I like romans because they are practical for spaces where you can’t allow drapery to fall all the way to the floor (i.e. behind a bench or somewhere you’ll be sitting). I’m not a fan of curtains that don’t go to the floor (often called “cafe curtains”).

The only problem I have with Romans is how expensive they are. Making them custom normally costs $250-$500 per window, which makes them totally cost prohibitive for a lot of people. But Emily turned me on to this great resource that I’d like to share with you. Don’t be scared by the name (believe me, I was). It’s a company called Country Curtains. The name might conjure images of someone named Jeb sitting on the front porch playing a ukulele whilst chewing on a piece of straw, but don’t be scared, they actually have some great stuff. Recently we used their Cordless Roman Shades for a client and I’m super happy with how they turned out. Each window cost around $79.50 (the cost is based on window width) so we did the whole project for less than $600 (which isn’t bad because there were seven windows altogether).

Here are some images of the breakfast nook with newly installed Roman Shades:

In addition to the style we ordered, they have some other great options. I like this Woven Cordless Roman Shade. $86.50 – $116.50.

This Ticking Stripe Rolling Shade is adorable, right? I want to put it in my bedroom. We would have used it for our client but there’s already a lot of pinstripe in the house and that would have taken it over the edge. $46.50 – $54.50.

The Woven Shades also come with a border, which I like for a slightly more formal look. $89.50 – $119.50.

This is another image of the style we used for our client. $69.50 – $199.50.

Now that I’ve discovered how cheap these Romans/Roller shades are I kind of want to put them all over my house and/or my body. I love you Romans! Not you, Roman Polanski; you’re totally a weirdo.



Filed under Decor