Monday, February 9, 2009

:::things is wish my mother had told me:::

i just finished things i wish my mother had told me by lucia van der post. it was excellent! this book was full of wonderful advice on style, decorating, food, everything, really. the writing style has a warm and chatty tone that is infused with loads of wisdom that the author has gained throughout her 25+ years working as lifestyle/style journalist.

not only does she offer general knowledge, but there are also very specific tidbits like where to buy the best linen (perhaps edith mezard, or maybe chateau de bagnols) and shop for the best perfume (try lorenzo villoresi, or les senteurs). let's get real, i'm never going to be able to afford shopping at any of those places, but it was sure as heck fun to read about them!

but don't worry, van der post understands that we aren't all living the high-life. she gives great tips on what to economize on and what to splurge on, and what stores to check for great items for our wardrobes and home for those of us who aren't pulling a six-figure salary.

i cannot recommend this book to you enough. i was sad to see it end, and i will more than likely buy it so that i can have it for reference purposes. here are some of my favorite quotes --

1. "never underestimate the power of glamour. it's life enhancing, and even the plainest woman can be glamorous" (page 19).

2. "if we're going to wear black -- and we surely will, because black is the new black more often that it isn't, and it certainly won't ever be going anywhere for long -- we've got to learn how to wear it. it needs drama" (page 21).

3. "nothing -- not even a pair of manolo blahniks or a blissful shearling coat -- does more for the morale than a spanking new haircut that really works" (page 123).

4. "really great scents aren't cheap. if you can't afford good ones it is better to wear nothing and do as master hotelier gordon campbell grey does, simply smell divinely of nothing but fresh soap" (page 149).

5. "i absolutely empathize (again) with andree putman when she says, 'of course, i love seven pillows behind me, but physical comfort is never the first thing. i prefer spiritual comfort, by which i mean space, light (natural, as well as artificial), contrast of textures, and pure lines. i never look for literal comfort, but for something that allows my mind to rest" (204).

6. "the thing i always remember about my mother...was that she made the small and not very prepossessing apartments she lived in seem warm and welcoming because she always filled them with books and music, flowers, fruit, and chocolates" (206).

7. "i'd rather the house smelled of fresh coffee, fresh flowers and simple honest soap then cheaply scented candles" (245).

8. "pick up, say, the sear catalog and, in among the stuff you wouldn't give house room to, you will find some gems" (page 253).

9. "if you're short of money, though, the real pitfall to avoid is buying anything you don't really, really love" (page 254).

10. "all the best houses take years to evolve, layer upon interior designer with their instant solutions, their bulging address books and professional know-how could ever create a house as intersting, as particular and as individual as the houses that are truthful expressions of their owners and the lives they've lived" (page 255).

11. "most experts seem to agree that while the difference between a thread count of 120 and 250 matters greatly, once you go above 250 you're just showing off" (page 234).

12. "i see no point in eating bad food. it gives no pleasure, no proper nutrition and makes you fat" (page 277).

13. "most of us love giving presents and i can't think how we've come to the sort of state we're in in the western world where come Christmas time they seem to be a source of such angst and resentment...perhaps it's time to remind ourselves how lucky we are that we have money and a plethora of fabulous shops and delicious things to choose from -- and, even more importantly, that we have people in our lives that we love and care about to give them to" (page 307).

14. "if i'm really, really pushed for time and need to produce a supper for sixteen -- or even a smarter dinner for six -- i've learned ways to doll up the best supermarket food. it may not be up to the finest homemade but it's better than not seeing your friends or making excuses not to welcome visitors" (page 283).

the best way i can describe this book is to say that it was a delicious read. van der post knows her stuff, so even if you don't agree with her personal tastes, you can still respect that she isn't like so many self-proclaimed style mavens who shop coordinating lines and use their money to buy pretty things and indulge their fancies. what i would give to have a long lunch with this woman.


Sharla said...

Delightful! It sounds like this might end up on my reference shelf as well. :)

Anonymous said...

I cannot find the double talk of Andree Putman interesting to follow, every quote seems to me to be her stating one thing, then claiming another at the same time.

rebekah said...

mom, is that you?

if not, hello anonymous!

i somewhat agree. what i do with artsy fartsy types is to try and find the general *feel* of what they're getting at. otherwise, if i try to understand them specifically, i end up slapping them across the face because they're off in a la-la land that doesn't support rational trains of thought.

i think the *feel* for this quote was don't put a million pillow on your bed just because it would feel good because it might not be the most aesthetically pleasing thing to look at.

annette said...

I love these quotes. And what I get from it is that you can achieve a level of comfort at any income. And that style is personal. Of course, I realize that there are some unfortunate souls who are unable to put food on the table, pay the rent, etc. But, seriously, writers have a target audience...
I do feel badly that after 35 years in the same house I hope anyone who visits doesn't think it represents my style. After all I live with that man!

Sarah said...

My mom told me ALL of those things.

rebekah said...

i wish to rescind my previous comment calling andree putman 'artsy fartsy', since it may have been a little rude.

what i meant was that i agree that the quote was a little contradictory, but i tried to find the general meaning behind it.

Rachel and Jeremy said...

My favorite is #10. I totally agree, and I look forward to many years of making my house into something special just by living in it and adding things I love...