Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
My small collection of Persephone Books
When Persephone Books announced a while ago that they were moving to Bath, I knew I had to visit the store in London before they went. It had been on my list for years, as was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, one of their classics. So here I am, now having visited the store (Yay!) and having read the book, fully understanding its status.
It feels light, frivolous and funny, but it nevertheless achieves something most books don’t – it left me thinking about the characters and what they were up to after the book ended. It’s a captivating feel-good gem that kept me by Miss Pettigrew’s side for 24 hours of her life, gradually going from lonely, unemployed, undesirable, and unhappy to quite the opposite! I had one major cause for anxiety while reading… What will happen to her after this one exquisite day?
Illustration from Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Persephone Books
I will let you discover that for yourselves. I hate spoilers and I don’t particularly care to ruin a great book for you this week! Thank me later.
Bonus exquisite find is the 2009 movie starring the brilliant three times over Academy Award winner Frances McDormand! Just watch her acceptance speeches from 1997 and 2018 for Best Actress, the latter for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a must-see movie, which will hit particularly hard for women and mothers.
The Man Who Found Two Lost Rembrandts
Source – Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Young Gentleman discovered by Jan Six in 2016
I can’t believe how I just stumbled upon this BBC podcast, but it was an amazing find – an interview with Jan Six (the 11th), an art historian and dealer who has discovered not one, but two ‘new’ paintings by the great Dutch master. Oh, maybe I should have mentioned he is also a descendant of the original Jan Six, famously painted by Rembrandt in 1654! As rightly described in an in-depth article about his two discoveries in the New York Times Magazine, Jan Six is as close to art world royalty as it gets!
Source – Portrait of Jan Six, Rembrandt (1654)
This is a fascinating rich story about art, family, passion and success and there is also a documentary about it – My Rembrandt – that I am now very keen to watch. For some reason, I can only think of the pride his ancestor, who started the whole Rembrandt family passion, their art collection, their patronymic tradition and probably much more, would have felt if he had known a descendent of his will also come to play such an important role in art history almost four centuries later.
What a remarkable family saga!
Hanging Plants In An Indoor Jungle
You know the trend of the big exotic houseplants, the indoor jungles, the Monstera craze? Well, although I haven’t started calling myself a ‘plant mom’ (and I hope I never shall) I am one of the many people who have found a new passion in filling their home with as much greenery as possible. After buying a few plants last year, I was lucky enough to be gifted a few more recently and I am slowly building up my oasis!
My (Growing) Green Corner
My big problem? Space! For months I’ve been putting off repotting some cuttings of my Monstera Deliciosa (which is still taking over my living room despite said cuttings) for I don’t know where I should put them. Thus, I started looking into hanging pots and creative solutions. There are some brilliant ideas out there, but it must be said very few for big plants like the ones I have to deal with. I’ve created a dedicated Pinterest board in case you also need some inspiration.
Are you a fan of an indoor jungle too?
The History of Tassels
Source – some of my favourite uses for a tassel
How often do you research the history of everyday objects that make your life more beautiful? My answer is not often enough! But when I do, I am sure to be rewarded as I find that even the simplest of details often hide a noteworthy story. This week I was curious to learn when and why were tassels invented, and if they ever had a purpose other than decorative. They are almost ‘as old as times’ and probably the first mention of tassels can be found in the Hebrew Bible, of all places!
Still, it was the French and their Guild of Passementiers that turned tassel making into art, in the sixteenth century, and paved the way for the abundance of designs and creations featuring these, which we can see today. Used as accessories, embellishments or decor details, I love tassels of all kinds and now I know more about how they came to bring me a spark of pleasure anytime I spot one.
I also discovered a book that has gone straight on my to-read list – Fringe Frog and Tassel – The Art of The Trimmings-Maker in Interior Decoration. Read this interview with the author for a glimpse into the fascinating story of this petit detail.
The simplest designs are quite easy to just DIY, but I am sure that the internet can provide instructions even for the more ornate versions, if you fancy a project. What is your favourite use for a tassel?
Source – An Old Woman Reading by M. Knoop The National Trust for Scotland Oil on panel
I only realised writing about tassels above how much I have to thank the brilliant Prof Laurel Ulrich Thatcher for her Tangible Things course, which I took last year. While going through it and completing my assignments is how I discovered that every little thing around me hides a story I will probably enjoy and can learn something from. It was also the subconscious push I needed to start Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds!
I find renewed pleasure and motivation in researching and reading about new things, small and big, but that is no wonder since the benefits of continuing education and learning are well documented in scientific research. Lifelong learning can lead to an enriching life of self-fulfilment, and honestly, what else could one hope for?
Read more about the science behind this here and use this opportunity to continue your lifelong learning!
‘Interested, Not Interesting’ – HoNY Inspiration
I am pretty sure I don’t have to introduce you to Humans of New York – the amazing Instagram storytelling account, a living legend! Over the past few years, the creator has crossed countless real-life – digital boundaries and has made history in a beautiful way, which is not very common nowadays.
The other day he uploaded the post above and it stopped me in my tracks! Just read what this beautiful, assured woman had to say, it is perfect and goes hand-in-hand with my point about lifelong learning above, plus my praise for intergenerational friendships from last week.
“I’m really proud that I’m still interested. Not ‘interesting’—that’s a different thing. I mean interested. I’m still interested in the world. ‘Interested’ feeds me, and if that makes me interesting– then great. Quite frankly this year has been a delight. I’ve been using a lot of Zoom. I’m zooming everywhere. To places and topics that I would never have discovered pre-pandemic. And all without dealing with people. Don’t get me wrong– I like people. I just don’t like hundreds of them. There’s a series I recently found called the California Scholar’s Program— it’s 200 separate lectures of astonishing content related to a Jewish universe. It was a local thing before the pandemic. They’d do programs at various synagogues in Southern California. But not anymore. Now they’re zooming. They recently gave a presentation on a photographer who documented Hasidic families reconstituting themselves after World War II. The photographs were luminous. And I watched the whole thing while drinking a glass of wine. At 3 PM today the Natural History Museum is zooming a lecture on spies. It’s on my calendar. And there’s another one tonight about the TWA Terminal at LaGuardia Airport. I’m actually missing one right now– about cassowaries. They’re really big birds from the island of New Guinea. They’re almost like ostriches, but with incredible neck colorations. And it’s an entire lecture comparing them to modern dinosaurs. I really wanted to see that one, but the weather was so nice. So I came to the park. Had it been raining, it would be cassowaries. But it’s beautiful, so I’m here. With an exquisite book about London during the English Civil War.”
May we all find this sort of drive and inspiration always!
Eyebrows Serums & co.
For a few years now I have been coquetting with the idea of having microblading (a sort of semi-permanent colouring tattoo) done on my eyebrows to fill in some gaps and give them a symmetrical and more flattering shape. I never made a decision since I never spent enough time researching the idea.
That being said, this week I once again encountered an article praising a certain brow serum and it dawned on me that I should really research this avenue first, right? So here it goes – there are no scientifically proven products that can deliver new eyebrow growth, thickening of existing brows, darkening in colour and so forth. As far as I could find, there is only one active ingredient that is backed by science – bimatoprost and only one product – Latisse – containing it and clinically proven to grow eyelashes longer, thicker and darker. The trick(s)? This product is designed and approved for eyelashes, not eyebrows (there is evidence for eyebrows as well) it is developed in the US and while it has FDA (Food Drugs Administration) approval, it is available by prescription only. In the UK, for example, it can only be bought through a third party and it is quite expensive for a 3-4 months treatment.
But what about the billions of other eyebrow growth serums you see all over Instagram that don’t require a prescription? – as this Cosmopolitan article rightly asks. Apparently, most of these are cocktails of good ingredients that improve the thickness of each brow, giving a fuller overall aspect to the eyebrows. These ingredients include biotin and panthenol, both of which help nourish the hair, antioxidants, amino acids, keratin, hyaluronic acid, and peptides.
There is also always the option of trying good old Castor oil, but it must be noted that, similar to the brow serums, it will take months to see visible results and these most likely disappear once the treatment is stopped. My conclusion? Since I already have some castor oil in my bathroom cabinet, I will start with that, but I will be sure to try one of the serums as well, before considering microblading again!
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