AltLuxe

Posts from the “Living Well” Category

In praise of specificity

Posted on January 12, 2016

When I was in Japan a few years ago, I went to a place called Tokyu Hands. It blew me away: floor after floor of stuff, so much of it incredibly specific. A container to hold sliced tomatoes so they wouldn’t sit in their own juice. Teapot brushes. 15 different types of scissors for ikebana. A knife specially designed for cutting chestnuts. An those were just the things whose use I could fathom. I found it fascinating but perplexing: even if some of the products were clearly genius (I loathe soggy tomatoes) why oh why would you want all this stuff in a country where houses were so minuscule?  Would you even use it? Wasn’t it all a bit silly? Was it just another example of Japanese…

Have the chocolate

Posted on January 2, 2016

I recently came across a reasonably compelling piece on how eating for pleasure could be the best diet plan. And, it reminded me that what goes for the body, goes for a lot of other things, I do think. Headspace, a favorite modern mindfulness blog/app, reminded me that often,  we go on holiday, eat what we want, and, miraculously, return to “real” life with minimal weight gain, feeling amazing. Not to mention having some pretty amazing memories (and dishes to add to a culinary repertoire.) Why is that? “Pleasure is an important appetite regulator. With every meal, the body registers feelings of fullness (the stomach expanding) and levels of satisfaction (has the body received what it was hungry for?). When we deprive ourselves of pleasure, our brain…

Doing the holidays, right.

Posted on December 25, 2015

  I am an unabashed lover of the time that starts just before Thanksgiving and runs to about mid-January. It’s the darkness. The layering and the coats. The focus on bringing light into the world. The way people just smile at you on the street, even though you know they’re over-stressed, over-fed, and under-rested. I even like the shopping, yes I do. And the wrapping. And the giving. Here’s what makes me love the season so… The smells. It is all about the cedar and juniper and fir. And the decadent Feu de bois candle. And a new favorite since last year: my German wooden Dragon Smoker from legendary toy company Dregeno (extra points for its utter ridiculousness) and its Crottendorfer incense cones. I’m also newly in love with Lite + Cycle’s Urban…

The gift of procrastination

Posted on December 10, 2015

When I think about what impedes the quality of my life, about what saps both my pleasure and my energy, it’s got to be procrastination. But not in the way you’d think. While I procrastinate a LOT, I think the problem is the quality of my procrastination, not the fact that I do it, or even do a lot of it (which I do). Google “procrastination” and you get all these ways to stop it, get around it, get beyond it. It is evil. It gets in the way of progress, moving forward, making things happen, growth, achievement. All those things that are what we (in the west) are supposed to be about. Yes of course, there’s “bad” procrastination: not getting important work done (note the word, important); putting…

Undone by design

Posted on November 16, 2015

Just over a year ago, my partner and I moved house. Radically different from what we’d lived in before, it required a big rethink of how we wanted the space to be. And it was more than that: moving house was something I’d done a dozen or so times before, but this time it was about making home. This was great. I adore design. I work in a design-focused company and write a blog about craft, design, and aesthetics. I hang out with people who venerate “Design”. (Cue grand music.) As a result I consume an endless succession of shelter magazines, blogs and books and my head is daily filled with beautiful spaces, places, and things. I have a sense of my own style. I have opinions. So doing my own space would be…

Collected stories

Posted on October 11, 2015

It seems to be that if you like the finer things in life, and are far enough along to have a lot of the basics taken care of, at some point you will confront the “c” word.  As in collecting. As in being a collector. As in having a collection. I think the first time I was aware of the idea of a collector was when I was living in Hong Kong. I visited the home of a lovely man named Paul Braga, a member of one of the oldest Portuguese families there. My 7 year old self was awed by a collection of snuff bottles. I had no idea of what they were. What on earth was snuff? I was told. (Yuck, said I, the 7…

The thing about things

Posted on September 7, 2015

At long last, I’m weighing in on the unlikely book that blew the minds of publishers everywhere: a book from a little known (in the West, at least) Japanese home organization consultant. I’m of course talking about Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But I’m not that surprised. Because the book taps into a very deep craving for the values she’s espousing. The values of pleasure and joy and ruthlessness and clarity. The book is not just another self-help book (though there are some embarrassingly awesome ideas on how to organize your underwear drawer): it’s a philosophy for living and even consuming. For those who’ve been otherwise occupied, the book is nominally about de-cluttering. But it’s not it’s not the usual one about…