Roses + Coffee

Drip coffee package with specialty rose shaped cookies - pink.

This morning, I received a surprise gift: A box of rose-shaped cookies from a Tokyo patisserie called Tulip Rose. I can’t have the cookies because I’m gluten intolerant, so I took photos before giving them away.

Drip coffee package with rose shaped cookie - blue.

The illustrations are from individually-wrapped drip coffee sachets. I received four from a colleague who found them while hunting for coffee deals on Amazon. I have had three so far. (When I say I have coffee, I mean a milk substitute, cream, sugar, and coffee as a flavour).

Rose-shaped cookies

I kept the packaging in case I could create some yummy photo art. The moment has arrived, the coffee brand is called Tasogare, and the beans are from Ethiopia and Brazil. 

Drip coffee in package - green. With decorative wooden clothespins, and graffiti.

Thank you for your support so far. Please enjoy the cookies with your beverage of choice, a warm hug from me, and best wishes for the months ahead.

Box of rose shaped cookies (cookie petals with semi-solid cream filling) from Tulip Rose, Tokyo. Thank you scribbled over the top.

( ^ω^ )

Shame-free Romance (PG 16+)

 German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi doing the tango
Photo courtesy Chigirev

If romance were like sports, winning would be easy. A game has rules and a clear winner. But as Grace Dent elegantly states it, “real love with actual humans can be an arduous task.” That is why, if you’re bashful, like me, you will be appalled by the idea of approaching a person and saying, “Please, like me, please.” It seems pushy and even rude but lots of men and women do this with no fear whatsoever. I wondered if I was missing out.

Over dinner, a friend helpfully suggested that I try to be bouncy. I thought she meant I was to change into a thigh-split dress and hurl myself from a moving car.

 Rebecca Ferguson in Rogue Nation
Photo courtesy Business Insider

I liked the idea, as it is a subtle way of asking to be introduced. Until another friend explained that she meant I should mislead witnesses with a padded bra.

While my friends discussed these details, I recalled three attention-grabbing techniques favoured by women Glampions. I’ve seen these tactics in sports: The Wedge, the Lob and the Shirt Pull. They are 100% shame free.

Wedge | When a woman is talking to a man you want like, wedge yourself into the conversation with a tango style pasada, and body block. Slowly caress his thigh with your thigh, à la Gisela.

 Lonestar Rollergirls, Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Lobbing | Pretend to misunderstand information.  Lob a series of pointed and penetrating statements at your rival’s pride. For example, Fantastic Bachelor says, “Ai, you look lovely this evening.” Ai says, “Sorry I’m late. I stopped for gas.” You respond, “Oh, no! Go home and get over your case of bad gas, that’s happening right now, at this moment. Remember? You mentioned it in la toilette yesterday!” Keep at it until she evaporates.

Caroline Wozniacki at the US Open
Photo courtesy Fansided

Shirt pulling | Pull up your shirt and expose your tummy, on which you’ve scribbled your phone number. This may cause Fantastic Bachelor’s brain to short circuit. If it does, he will text you over and over until he passes out.

 Photo: London 2012 Olympics

All right. I’m not sure I’ll ever be 100% shame free. But the tango looks enticing. It is a contact sport and it has a very dressy uniform.

London, 1953

The intruder pulls me away from the closet door, believing I’m too frightened to react. But I am a woman with a plan.

One roundhouse kick to his chest fractures a rib. He reels backwards. His abdomen and chest form a ramp and I use it to vault over his head. Twisting in mid-air, I end the discussion, heel to jaw. He’s on a timeout.

His accomplice rushes in to assess the situation. My fists plough through his face. The concussion blinds him temporarily. Ax kick to the knee. He’s on the floor. I stomp on some fingers to disable a hand.

My bodyguards have finally joined us. They look shocked. (They’re also fired). I point to my wrist and say, “You were taking too long.”

I adjust my tiara and make my way to the banquet hall. Two hundred guests, most of them blood relatives, are waiting. My smile says, “Welcome to my coronation reception.” But to be honest, I am a bundle of nerves.

London, 1953 (Coronation Day)

Notes: Feminist Tuesday. Special shoutouts to Mek @ Work in Progress and the Artful Blasphemer. Thank you all very much for your support.

Photo: Claire Foy in “The Crown”, courtesy, Live for Film.

The Feast at Samhain

Three pairs of eyes, dusted heavily with shadows of Dior, beamed at the stage where a D-list “vessel” was just sold. The auction house, or rather, suite, was rattled by the combined assault of perfume, statement earrings and martini shakers. Plush carpets steadied the unquiet clacking of new Louboutins.

Up next was a down-on-his-luck A-list actor with perfect teeth, two ex-wives and mortgage payments of $60,000 a month. His nickname was, “Paper Tiger.” The auction proceeds, minus a 9% fee to the organisers, would net him more than he earned from his latest blockbuster film. He was a raw vegan, free of infection, drugs and alcohol. They could have called him, “Prime Meal.” His blood was that refined.

The auctioneer called the bid. “Vessel withholding one litre of highest quality, purest, untainted blood of Hollywood’s acting elite. Bidding starts at nine MILLION dollars.”

The actor’s pulse raced as all paddles clapped the air in unison. It was one past nine of the clock. The vampires would continue bidding for two hours and ten minutes.


Happy Halloween!

Photo credit: The three vampires are wearing Christian Dior Haute Couture – via Blogazine.


Pink edit - Popsicle
Berry Soda

Acrylic and moulding paste on
A4 illustration board (processed)

Orange edit - Orange silk
Orange Silk

This is a practice painting I’ve been playing with since early March. It started as an orange stigma and petals in shades of green, on green illustration board. Later, I painted over it in light rose and oxide black. And finally, in deeper shades of rose.

Two versions of the painting were photographed on magazine pages. Below is the light rose edit I’m using as wallpaper for my phone.

iPhone screensaver edit - on magazine pages, a model is wearing a spiky Game of Thrones style tiara and necklace.
Corona – The Same Face

Outtakes: The collage below shows the edits that nearly made it to the main presentation. This time, I really couldn’t make up my mind. The final deep pink version appears in this one.

Collage of alternate edits
Collage with texture details

Corona - Banner with inverted text, by SB

As always, I wish you a lovely day. Thank you so much for viewing.

Magazine photos – Maggie Jablonski by Elena Rendina for Numero, Tokyo, “Be Gorgeous”, vol 91, November, 2015. 

Antique Moss Green

paper plate with green wall paint
Antique Moss Green

Ordinary, exterior wall paint (yellow in green) drying out in a paper dish, on a sheet of newspaper. The result of a demonstration that wall paint doesn’t blend like artists’ colours.

No Forks Given

aluminum cans
Varnished aluminum cans …

A head dressed up
… dressed up a head

Can I have a witness? Two hours after swearing on a stack of fifty imaginary Bibles that I would never, ever, ever publish anything from my archives, I found myself wedged in a situation.


Lomo wired

newspaper roses
Newspaper roses

Summer, 2009 – A friend and I thought, “Let’s, like, totally deface a mannequin as an homage to Alexander McQueen (memba that headdress?) and Junya Watanabe (Comme des Garçons).” Yeah, sure, she had some at home, so we borrowed one. Ow!



red tab
Red tab

Instead of using plastic to wrap the soda cans, as in the McQueen Horn of Plenty Autumn 2009 show, we used 110 denier tights, glue and wire. Nail polish went on the lips, can motifs and Hangul lettering. The barcode was inked with permanent marker.

Forked over
Silver painted forks

My friend was really into Korean pop music and the Hangul script was hers. I have removed the forks because I don’t remember why we added them.

The heart can
Heart can wire

They are tucked away in a basket on a nearby shelf. But please don’t get any ideas. I’m not giving away any of my forks.

No Forks Given
Modern art, these days

Thank you for viewing. xo

“Be nice, for everyone that you meet is fighting a harder battle” – Anita Roddick

yellow, cotton Body Shop pouch for hand cream, iPhone and other accessories

This is my iPhone pouch. I washed it recently but I lost it again and don’t know where it is. It has space for lip balm, hand cream and a silk rabbit that a very nice person made for me. Being nice is easy when everyone plays by the rules. The quote helps me pull it together on days when I need constant reminding:

“Be nice, for everyone that you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

(Anita Roddick, Founder of The Body Shop)

Did you know that you are easily influenced by the people you dislike? When you despise someone, you become emotionally attached to them. Without realising it, you start competing with that person. You try to be better. To prove that … (something or other). But your detractors created the rules and before you know it, you’re playing their game. So, no matter what you do, you are being influenced by that person.

Olivier Rousteing, head designer at Balmain, once said, “I love my haters!” When you admire something about someone, you remain inspired and grounded in your own space. That is why I remind myself to be nice, every day.

Faux pas

If Kublai Khan were to see my hair today (92% humidity), he would mistake me for a cave dweller. Do not be misled, Kublai. I am a vain, stuck up precisionist who was raised by a Debrett’s handbook.

I once torpedoed plans to fund a small wedding party for a recently married colleague. I objected because he invited part-time staff to his wedding. However, he snubbed full-time, worked-to-the-bone six-days-a-week staff. He did not follow protocol and inform his boss. He kept it a secret from the persons who covered for him when he skipped work.

The Monday following nuptials by the lake, the Photo Album was flopped on my desk. As I thumbed through it, there was a faux smile on my face. But he still hadn’t told me he was now married, so I did not congratulate him.

Victoria Beckham. I have two versions of that dress in grey.
Photo credit: Pop Sugar.

Snobs resemble prudes to a degree. But prudes are predictable and rigid across the board. You already know what they’ll disapprove of. To succeed as a snob, however, you need to have double standards and these must fluctuate unpredictably.

For example…

Thanks to Marc Jacobs’ final rule-bending antics at Louis Vuitton, I now have a collection of dresses that could pass for nightgowns or underwear. I have also been outdoors looking like this:

 Alexander McQueen Photo credit: Vanity Fair, Italy.

Ask my wine club. And yes, it is appropriate for male guests to remove their clothing after a few glasses of Riesling. I won a pair of neon pink lace briefs in the raffle at the last gathering. The morning after, my inbox was flooded with requests to see me wearing them. That was everyone’s way of thanking me for a fun evening out.

Now, does this view pop your tart?

A facsimile of mornings in my office. Nail polish is banned, but this goes unnoticed. 

Photo credit: Star FM, Australia.

Because I’m a snob and have double standards, that does not pass. Not at 08:13 in the morning, when my eyes have just started to focus.



Collage, one Saturday morning

x (∿°○°)∿ ︵ ǝʌol
Love is free and I am an equal opportunity ego butterer.
x (。♥‿♥。) 1000%  ( ⋆•ิ ᴈ-ิ(ᵕ❥ ᵕ⁎ ॢ) x

… continued in Notes 5/3 


She is fighting the glamour wars
during office hours in cropped pants
of size… six?
You’d better take notes
and get in the mix

She is delighted to spread
in fashionless sense
with plumped up pride
what a skirt should hide

I think Mrs West is my icon and I’m, like, you know, following her on Instagram. I liked, you know, all of her posts yesterday. She wears see through tights with jackets. Now everyone is doing it. So I wanna be, like, the first person to, like, wear all capri pant suits. Just suits! I want that one and that one and that one…

OMG did you see the Queen of Spain
whose canary capris were a faux pas in vain
for Trendi bought them in bale and
that mane

Minutes after noon, she’ll toss
her meal in the trash
then dab some gloss
to soothe a lip rash
caused by (vitamin) deficiency
but not to worry
Facebook is telling me,
these capsules heal effectively

Haughtily she swipes past
sucking all your energy
pretending to have a blast
There goes Trendi
on a Pepsi Cola fast

A Chat with Mr Ford (1 of 3)

I am sorry if you are offended by my remark. I was not using the term “gay” in a denigrating way.

Well, I am not offended by that. The thing is, the kind of woman I want to attract won’t pay attention to a man who is not metrosexual.

I see. What kind of woman is that?

The kind of woman who would be impressed that I took a photo with Tom Ford, but would roll her eyes at one of me with Marc Jacobs.


What’s the difference?

Haute couture and high fashion. Exclusivity and accessibility. Marc Jacobs is very down to earth and friendly. Tom Ford is not relatable.

I see, so you want to meet Tom Ford?

No, I want to be photographed talking to him. Not posing side by side. It’ll look like I asked him for the photo.

That’s all? Is there a magazine you wanted the photo for?

No… Well, can I get that?

Sure. We could arrange a thing or two, but he’s very sweet in person. I’m not sure how … he will make you look edgy.

It’s the aura he has, of being so aloof. If I’m seen in a photo with an aloof person, the women I want to attract will covet my attention.

Why not just ask them out? The women you like.

Well, I do, but I keep getting turned down. I’m determined to not let my lifetime investment go to waste.

What kind of investment are we talking about?

Two hundred thousand dollars. I mean, I have put every cent I saved into this.

I’m not trying to talk you out of going for what you want, but don’t you think that you’ll have financial problems if you’re constantly keeping up with this couture theme? You’re an attractive man, physically flawless, women must be all over you.

I can’t give up on this. I’ve spent too much money. I have invested too much time. I’ve endured too much hardship.

Alright. How about Lulu Bellini?

No. She’s not the type I’m going for.

You’re similar in height and body type. She’s Karl’s muse and Tom lusts after her.

Yeah, but I want someone who is less acquired taste and more seasonal favourite, like a Bar Refaeli. She’s certain not to go out of fashion next season.

Bar has gone out of season, as of when she was dumped by Leo. No one is buying her Chinese made panties. This is an age where beauty is all inclusive. It’s not dictated by the norms of the old guard.

I need this, though. My life plan has this particular condition attached.

Do you have a specific person in mind?

Yes, but she is not impressed by …

You’re spending a lot of money here, and you’ve already put yourself out, as you said. I just want to know if this will be worth your while. We’re not obliged to be ethical, since I am a publicist, but I just want to point out that you might be chasing a rainbow. There is always a trade-off with these situations. Especially if you’re after the kind of person you’re after, as you say.

What trade-off?

Have you carefully thought through the consequences of being this choosy?

What do you mean?

You seem irritated. Do I sound judgmental?

Yes, and it’s annoying.

I can help you get a photo taken while chatting to Tom Ford, and I can talk to a friend at Bazaar and get that posted on their website. However, you need to wear one of his suits, and his fragrance, and you need to update your professional networking pages. You’ll need to stay in New York and wait for us to call you. It could be a four-month wait. We also need some credentials for you. People will be seeking you out when the photo gets published and they need something they can relate to.

I can do that.

I apologise for offending you. Your preference is none of my concern. I would like to make up for the inconvenience to you, by doing this job for free. Our firm is equal opportunity, after all. We do not discriminate on the basis of our clients’ discriminating tastes.

Thank you. That’s all I ask.

If you’re interested, we have a job opening for a stylist and I wonder if you’d like to be interviewed for that? No hard feelings.

I appreciate it. That’s very kind of you. May I have some lemon water, please?


to be continued

Style notes: How not to wear Prada

So, I saw a black Prada Saffiano handbag perched on a desk this morning. Sometimes, my office can look like a designer boutique. That worn and faded lap blanket that resembles your grandmother’s sofa cover, is from Mulberry, London, and those antique tea mugs with the quaint flowers, are from Wedgwood.

Prada Saffiano tote bagImage courtesy Pinterest.

On Monday, some of us were talking about the dessert, but one of my colleagues misunderstood and dug a Montblanc pen out of his desk drawer. He said he couldn’t be bothered filling it with ink through the converter. The three of us tried to jump him to get it. We were bickering quite loudly. And, I saw it first, so hands off.

The thing I wonder about when people spend a lot of money on name brand things (not fountain pens, or fine stationery: there is no limit to how much you should spend on those), is how come they don’t notice the other stuff?

I don’t care if you use a gold nib fountain pen and carry a beat up briefcase. That’s the way it’s got to be. I applaud you if your clothes are from twenty years ago and you’ve got a vintage Rolex on. What I don’t get is how come a woman spends so much on one handbag when she clearly should have spent a third of that on a full year’s wardrobe at the outlet mall just down the street.

Montblanc fountain pen and inkwellImage courtesy: Marcus Link

Seriously. I am proud to say that I own skirts or dresses that cost less than thirty dollars. I mess them up with food, paint, ink, more food, more paint, more ink. The cheap ones never die, by the way, wash after wash. I’ve got $12 wool sweaters I bought fifteen years ago at Uniqlo. They go right to the cleaners and return looking as good as new.

This is me talking about what I personally prefer. I prefer natural fabrics and I also enjoy synthetic fibres, as long as I don’t look flammable. I don’t want to collect silk shirts because I can’t wear them without fretting about getting raspberry sauce on them. My favourite skirt is charcoal gray, in cotton and it cost me nine dollars. It goes for formal and casual events with the right jacket. No one can tell I bought it eight years ago.

I have absolutely no opinion on whether other people should be paying a lot for clothes, so that’s not what I’m going on about here. My concern is about balance.

I am also one of those individuals who can resist a designer label if I don’t like the thing. I enjoy having the labels that most people can’t recognise from a first glance or from the logo. I pay attention to labels because sometimes people model counterfeit bags and shoes as if they were real, and I want to stare blankly at them while they’re trying to impress me with a fake Hermès Kelly bag.

Prada: Image courtesy fashion lover

I don’t believe that possessing designer labels is equivalent to having good style. Labels can sometimes encourage us to escape from the responsibility of carefully arranging ourselves. I’ve seen some awful looking things from Dolce and Gabbana and Versace and would never let them near my body, even when they were offered to me as gifts. “It looks awful, but it’s from that designer, therefore…” I don’t think so.

Easy bun hairstyles
Easy bun hairstyle from Gal Knows

But let me put it to you, women. What is the point of carrying a Prada bag when your sweater’s all stretched out and faded? Or your patterns and silhouettes are mismatched? Why have you got that $4000 bag and a very large scrunchie in your hair holding up what could have been a cute chignon? I’m sorry, but I just cannot with scrunchies. Please, someone, do something. Do you need a Prada bag, or did you need an extra two minutes to find a black ponytail holder?

A balanced style requires time, rather than money. I like the idea of rearranging a few items of clothing week in, week out, to get a brand new total look. Perhaps I am that way because I had to wear uniforms to school until I was seventeen, and after that to work in a bank. I enjoy the challenge of getting creative with limited items.

That’s what it means to have a personal aesthetic. Labels cost money, and they take time to acquire but in the end, they’re products. A designer label doesn’t always do a good job of cleaning up your presentation and it certainly shouldn’t.


Camera Obscura

The body is a container.
In it we protect the vital parts of our physical selves.
It’s a minimum representation of the self
and should not weigh heavily in judgement of who we are.
When we adjust it to alter how others relate to us, it becomes, at that point,
camera obscura.

Tell me about your week.

It has been a revelation. I made minimum effort at everything. On the first day, I walked into the office with my shirt half buttoned, chipped nail polish, hair unkempt. I greeted no one. I found it interesting that no one seemed to notice me. It occurs to me I want a medium tan. Carla Paine. She just oozes self confidence. So I walked out and did that. Missed an appointment with a client. I had him meet me for brunch at the Trattoria. I lied and told him I was working on his stuff and used the travel time to punch out a strategy. He kissed me full on the lips after hearing my pitch. I sauntered back into the office at two and my boss asks me to run point on a huge account. Day one. I literally did nothing all morning. As you’ve heard, the rest of the week goes like that.

It seems to me that with the freedom of being, you exuded this power.

It would seem so. I got things done while relaxing. This makes no sense though.

Before questioning the fairness of it, how will you use your power?

I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed with this feeling of wholeness. I want nothing. I need nothing.

Let’s cement this idea in our cloud because these feelings can be transient. What does “want nothing” feel like?

I have everything and it’s all a rich, palpable having. The answers are all up to me and they’re all correct.

I’m going to note that statement for later because I really need you to discuss the meaning in depth. It’s time to move to phase two. After this session ends, go to the Thermage Therapy Centre on Lexington Avenue. The treatment will burn out all of your fat cells. They’ll roll your skin flat and PowerPlate you to get things moving.


That’s not all. Through separate procedures, fat will be injected into your breasts and blood proteins into your face. They’ll pump you full of placenta, glutathione, Vitamin C and growth hormone. You won’t need to exercise for six months. I made an appointment for you. You get forty percent off.

Okay …

It’s preparation for an experiment. I’m making a point but you need to put yourself through this first. Then, go to my salon tomorrow afternoon. They will colour your hair blonde and flatten it. In the evening, get rid of every shoe in your closet that’s lower than four inches in heel height. Dress as you’ve done this week.


Then, you’re not a smoker, so develop a video game habit. I have some suggestions. If you feel a deep, self reflective thought creeping in, grab a game. Focus. When the thought goes away, stop.

No problem.

What’s the most menial task at the office?

Coffee runs, filing, archiving, stationery inventory.

Go to the office an hour early and do the filing and inventory. Repeat for one hour at the end of every day no matter how late. In fact, go to your office on Sunday and work on the backlog. Do it thoroughly and double check your work.

Alright. And…coffee runs?

Yes. Do them every morning for the rest of the month. Inventory and filing exercises go for these two weeks, too. No longer. I want to be able to bring you back. Most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hundred dollars in the two weeks. This is a prepaid credit card. Keep the receipts. We will go through them. You may accept charity, beg, steal or trade sexual favours. If you can’t afford to eat, go hungry. Subsist.

I think I understand where you’re going with this. What’s the outcome?

You’re now a minion. Outcomes are not part of your cognitive framework. You have no higher order thinking skills. Survival is the name of your game. I want you to really feel that side of her. According to you, she’s the perfect woman. She is coveted by the man you desire. What does a skinny blonde of average height with a smoking habit and an entry level job feel every single day? Occupy that existence. Answer the question by living her life.

Cloud therapy

I feel so used, and just icky!!

What does that have to do with you?

I don’t understand.

What’s wrong with you.

Nothing. He flicked me away like I was something stuck to the bottom of his shoe. I’m out of ideas about how to prove myself to him.

What are you proving? Tissues.

Thanks. My value. My worth.

Alright. What if I said, objectively speaking, a man would be blind to not notice you?

That is my problem. I was rejected anyway.

Again. What’s wrong with you?

I’m the problem?

Yes, you are the problem. I would like you to take responsibility for the rejection you’re facing. Do not blame him. He is not wrong to be indifferent you.

This is hard. Isn’t he wrong to not acknowledge me as a sexual threat?


I can’t do this right now.

Let’s work this out today. Let us work towards a consensus that you can lean on during the upcoming week. We will stamp it out in later sessions. Come on. Tell me what’s wrong with you.

I have jet black hair. It is really frizzy. Oh, God… I’m short. I’m … uhh… struggling to be at my ideal weight. I dress conservatively because of my job so I can’t look fuckable on a twenty four hour cycle!!!! I obsess about Karajan and I get a small panic attack if I have to pick things off the floor. I’m in my thirties. I have crooked teeth?

What does he want?

Blonde Kim Kardashian lookalike with blue eyes, spotless complexion that feels like marshmallow to the touch, early twenties with perfectly white teeth, D cup and a tiny waist. Her naturally blonde hair is very long, luscious, super soft and tossed dry, it’s perfection. She’s sweet, easily influenced, passive and not opinionated. She smokes, has a minimum wage job and dresses provocatively all day, every day. If I looked like that, he would be nice to me…

Leave him out of this.

I’m not effortlessly pretty. I work hard at looking like a woman. It’s time consuming, expensive and I need a team of friends to fix me. I overthink things, have too many hobbies and interests and I work hard to cultivate friendships. Being me is a full time job.

So you’re a short, fat, ugly nerd with a mind of your own and friends who look after you.


Say it slowly.

I’m a short, fat, ugly nerd and I need friends who look after me.

Say it again. This time, take a deep breath and say it like it’s a compliment.

I’m a short, fat, ugly nerd and my friends are really nice to me.

Say it again. Transform into a vampire and stare me down.

I’m petite, I’m plain and I rock the androgynous look. I live in my head. I don’t have friends. I have minions. They worship and adore me.

Let’s put this last concept in our cloud. The concept that all this is part of your glorious being.

Okay. I hate that I’m not good enough…

Stop. It’s in our cloud. This upcoming week, voice record a journal. Make as many entries as you like. When you feel something, record it. Message all memos to me without editing. You will normcore it to work. Make minimum effort. Wear the same clothes every day if you like. Do not blow dry or iron your hair after a shampoo. Moisturising products only. Don’t wear makeup.


Do not pay lip service to this. I need you to feel a freedom in being yourself. And you do that by embracing those things you say he’s rejected. You own them, you display them. Pay attention to your feelings and let’s get on this next session?

Thanks. I’m sorry, I just …