The Nutcracker Redux

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 No comments

Like it was for hundreds of other families, the Nutcracker was always a holiday fixture for us Hoveys. We went to see it every year when the Kansas City Ballet put on their production. When I hit six, mom had me training there (it had become the State Ballet of Missouri, an odd unnecessary name change I never understood) and my best friends and I got to dance in that beloved Christmas ballet as soldiers, angels and members of the party scene. (I fittingly, was a soldier two years in a row). 

Of all the fun scenes, nothing gave me chills of excitement like the when the men came out in their flowing Cossack pants and danced the ballet version of the classic Hopak in the candy scene. Even as a kid, I couldn't imagine human thigh muscles performing in that manner. 

But what I saw then was nothing next to this. Ignore the politics of Reds and Russia today and just try to stop smiling at the Red Army Dance Ensemble's unimaginable moves. And just wait for the accordion...

(For more, pop over to the wonderful British Pathe collection to see the 1936 ensemble dance the Kanava and another batch performing at the Albert Hall in 1963
Adventures in Helsinki

Tuesday, December 02, 2014 No comments

Helsinki is only a 45 minute flight - or eight hour booze cruise - away from Stockholm. The city offers such great design options and Scandinavian touches - with a heavy dose of Soviet influence (Saint Petersburg is also only about an hour away).

You could spend hours in C. Hagelstam, a wonderful antiquarian book shop that also sells old maps and charts.  

Agricola Church in Punavuori

Designers Nora Hellberg and Elsa Vilén opened the charming and beautiful shop - Proloque - in the Helsinki Design District earlier this year and they have it DECKED out spectacularly for Christmas, as you can see here. Their instagram feed is so lovely and they gave us great suggestions for shops around town. 

Things to do in Helsinki. In the city centre there are some interesting shops you might want to see like Samuji. The founder Mr. Samu-Jussi Koski is one of the most interesting finnish (fashion) designer at the moment. They also launched a new home line as well. Minna Parikka is Finnish shoe designer, and then there is Marimekko and Artek. And if you are interested of Jugend architecture, Katajanokka is place for a walk. And the Alvar Aalto Museum and Hvitträsk might be places to go to.

About restaurants; Tomi Björck is probably the number one chef here at the moment. He has several restaurants in Helsinki; BrondaBoulevard Social, FarangGaijing. Bronda has also a nice bar if you want to get drinks only. Then there are some legendary, classic "artist" restaurants like Savoy  EliteKosmosStrindberg etcThe old Market Hall is also open again after many years of renovation.

Here's Porter attempting a jump in front of Helsinki Cathedral and achieving what looks like Marcel Marceau attempting a wild, uninhibited Charleston.

The view from our wondrous apartment via Air BNB.

Me, in my new Costo x Johanna Gullichsen hat. We also picked up a pillow case from Johanna Gullichsen's adorable shop in Punavuori.

More scenes from C. Hagelstam here...

And here.

Finlandia Caviar has a small, adorable cafe designed by the stellar Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio that serves up champers and...caviar. You can go with Finnish or Russian tasting menus. We went local and it was delish.

The Maiden of Finland in her Rudolph costume, looking very upset.

Sardines pickling at the Old Market Hall.

Our apartment stairwell.

Destinations: Stockholm and Helsinki

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 3 comments

It's been seven long years since Porter and I first visited Stockholm (she was appropriately blonde back then). We're heading back next week with a short sojourn to Helsinki in the middle. Now, after many years of travel, I've learned that a little general aesthetic guidance to direct us towards key clusters is the best way for us to explore and actually relax once we land. This usually manifests into a Google map, but the Type A nature on display in the following pre-planning (and with Vienna) even terrifies me. But as soon as I started gathering the photos, the chills of excitement hit...and then I had to do full layouts. It's a little heavy (pun) on the restaurants, but maybe we'll do a polite wine crawl. All that TBD... 

So, all that said, here's Stockholm. Helsinki to come! 


Here's a map with all the website links and a PDF you can download and view perfectly, mind you, on an iPhone. 

Great Chaste

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 1 comment
Pawel Pawlikowski's stunningly austere portrait of a young Polish nun on her path to find her family and self before taking her vows may inspire a whole new generation of filmmakers to shoot in black and white. Perhaps the fashion world already took inspiration, too, when Ida toured the festival circuit last year. So many of Spring's best collections have been exceptionally monastic, as you'll see below amidst some of the most remarkable modern monasteries. Watch Ida stream on iTunes and say your prayers that you'll someday don Mary Kate and Ashley's incarnation of a monk's frock on an adventure in Anjou or go Pagan in Pugh in Bellelay. 

The Row S/S15

Mathieu Lehanneur's mind-bogglingly beautiful minimalist masterpiece, St. Hilaire Church, in Melle France via Yellowtrace, one of my favorite sites.

Gareth Pugh, S/S15

Romain Crelier's La Mise en Abîme installation of precise pools of oil in Bellelay Abbey in Bellelay, Switzerland.

Gareth Pugh S/S 15

Gareth Pugh S/S 15

The lobby of the new Abbaye de Fontevraud hotel designed by Jouin Manku inside the Saint Lazare monastery in Anjou, France.

Marni S/S 15

Gareth Pugh S/S15

Steven Alan S/S15

Marni S/S15

The Row S/S15

Steven Alan S/S15

The Row S/S15

(All fashion images from