Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scary Love (a true story)

I seriously have the most fucked up story to tell you.

It is in your best interest to read every word, or you won't experience the same kind of horror I did, when I first learned the tale.

If you're a little older than me, or perhaps from New York, you may know this story already.

It is the story of Linda Riss and Burt Pugach.

I recently saw a documentary about the couple.

In 1959, Burt Pugach was a successful 30-something-year-old lawyer in New York City. He was driving with a buddy in the Bronx one day, when he saw a gorgeous young woman sitting on a bench. He practically jumped out of the moving car to introduce himself to thd beauty.

She was 21-year-old Linda Riss, a kind-hearted girl from a poor family.

Dazzled by his wealth and charm, Linda agreed to go out with Burt, much to the delight of her lower middle class family. Burt took her to the hottest clubs in New York City, showing her off to his jealous friends. Linda became absolutely smitten with the adoring older man.

But one day, Linda found out that Burt was married, with a young daughter. She was heart-broken and disgusted. She broke off their relationship. Burt begged her to come back to him and even showed her some divorce papers to prove he was leaving his wife.

Linda was about to relent, because she loved Burt, but then her family's lawyer discovered that the divorce papers were fake. Burt had no intention of leaving his family for her. So, Linda broke things off with Burt for good.

Burt begged her to come back. She wouldn't relent. He started to become obsessed with her. He called her apartment dozens of times per day. He called her family and her friends. He stood across from her apartment every day. He followed her everywhere she went.

He event sent her a threatening note, saying if he couldn't have her, nobody could.

Linda was frightened and went to the police several times. But 1959 was a time before stalking laws were in place. The police shrugged off the incidents and told Linda there was nothing she could do.

Meanwhile, Linda tried desperately to move on with her life. She soon met a very handsome young man and they became engaged.

When Burt heard about the engagement, he was livid. Overwhelmed by jealousy and hatred, he hired a few men off the street and whispered a plan to them.

One afternoon, the doorbell rang at Linda's apartment. Linda's mom answered it and called out to her daughter that it was a deliveryman with a wedding package.

When Linda came into the doorway, the fake delivery man threw acid in her face.

The 23-year-old beauty was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and was there for several days.

But it was too late. She was blind and facially disfigured.

The incident made national news. Burt was the most hated man in America that year. He received 14 years in prison.

Despite the sympathy pouring in from millions of people, Linda's life was destroyed.

Her fiance broke off their engagement. Not because Linda was no longer beautiful, but because he simply couldn't afford to take care of her, now that she was visually handicapped.

For the rest of her 20s, Linda dated various men, but the relationships all ended when she took off her sunglasses and revealed the horror underneath.

She became painfully depressed and incredibly lonely. She spent the next decade holed up in her tiny apartment in New York City, hating her life.

And during those years, Burt never left her alone. He called her from jail every week and wrote her letters every day. He was still obsessed with her. She couldn't escape him.

In 1974, Burt was released from jail and he immediately contacted Linda, desperate to see her in person. Against her better judgement, Linda accepted.

When she went to see Burt for dinner, he apologized for ruining her life and asked her to marry him.

Linda accepted.

Although she hated Burt for what he had done, she could tell he was truly sorry and he still loved her. Plus, she was lonely and living in squalor. The finally-divorced Burt was a wealthy meal ticket who could take care of her. She truly didn't believe she had anyone else. She was desperate.

The two married that year.

Their marriage shocked the entire nation. They were the subject of every talk show, news report, and magazine article in the country that year.

Linda's family and friends were appalled. But Linda saw it a different way. She felt she finally had a man who still thought she was beautiful, despite the physical damage he had caused. Plus, what better payback than to force him to see what he had done every single day for the rest of his life?

Their marriage appeared to be oddly blissful until 1997, when a young woman accused Burt of threatening her life. Although Linda was hurt when she discovered her husband had been having an affair with the woman, she was a character witness during the trial, stating her husband wouldn't harm a fly.

It worked, because he was found innocent.

Burt and Linda are still married today. Happily.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Baking with Jonny & Jenny

I'm sorry for the unexplained absence.

My bestie Jonny came to visit, so I sort of put my life on hold for a few days and had fun.

It was a lovely weekend. On Saturday night, we met up with Jonny's friend, Greg, who was visiting from NYC. We went to an art show, dined at a fancy restaurant, and then headed over to my favorite lounge to listen to live jazz music and sip cocktails.

On Monday, Jonny and I had a lazy day.

We made pumpkin pie and pumpkin challah.

Well, Jonny baked everything while I sat by and chain-drank grapefruit raspberry cocktails, let's be real.

If you're fascinated by pumpkin challah, here is a recipe.

I hope everyone is having a cozy week!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

City Brasserie & Vinbar–decent food but disappointed by the wine bar

A few years back this place was called “Bryggeriet” I think and right before City Brasserie & vinbar took over they installed “wine machines” – a machine where the bottles are kept with nitrogen I guess to preserve it longer (I have seen similar ones in butcher shops in Tuscany – see this trip report). The result was of course that they could offer many wines by the glass every day which I really enjoyed. Anyway, City Bistro took over and turned it into City Brasserie & vinbar and I had big expectations as there isn’t really a proper wine bar in Stavanger. So I was a bit peeved when the first thing they did was to remove the machines. I asked them why and they had some sort of explanation that they wanted the wine experience to be more personal and exclusive. But I’m not sure that it has turned out the way I wanted it to at least – when I have gone there I don’t feel like they had lots of options of wine by the glass and buying a whole bottle is normally out of the question.

Today City Brasserie & vinbar is split into three sections: the lower floor is the brasserie, the mezzanine level is the champagne lounge and wine bar and the upper floor is the restaurant. I have been there a few times and I have eaten both upstairs and downstairs but this will mainly be about my latest visit in September 2011. Nikki and I went there to have a meal at the restaurant upstairs but when we came all the lights were turned off. I asked them what was going on and the head waiter said that due to personnel being off sick they had closed the restaurant and only had the brasserie open. When I have been there before there has not been many visitors to the restaurant so I speculate that they closed it off as they didn’t have any reservations but that is just my personal opinion.

photo 1(1)We were offered to go to the brasserie instead and the menu is quite short which is not a problem – but I would like to have seen the menu on their website but I guess that is tricky if they claim that it changes daily. They had a three course meal for 499 Norwegian Kroner (about 85 USD these days) if I’m not mistaken but as we were not that hungry we decided to go for a starter and main and that was about 450 kroner. I went for the foie gras as a starter and pork as the main meal. They did have a few options of wine by the glass but I do get a bit worried when I get to a restaurant early in the evening and they bring out a bottle of red wine where there is hardly anything left in the bottle – does that mean that it was opened yesterday or even the day before? So I got to try one wine and as it seemed to be a bit on the border of going bad, I went for the other Italian red wine alternative. My starter turned out to be not quite what I hoped for – foie gras can be excellent but I got some sort of bloc de foie gras which was more of a pate – still good but not quite the same as the real deal. It was served with shredded lemon and with a lemon sorbet type ice cream which was actually a good combination. Nikki went for a seafood risotto as a starter and it seemed like she enjoyed it and the was a good lobster taste as far as I can remember – the only problem was that it was not warm enough when it was served.

My pork main was one piece of pork belly and one piece of tenderloin I guess served with a block on potatoes and some sort of “cabbage package“ and sauce came on the side. The meat was quite good but the tenderloin was a bit on the dry side but the portion size was quite good.

photo 2(2)All in all the service is quite good and the atmosphere is nice in this small restaurant located on the Skagen side of the Stavanger harbor. But it seems like it is quite empty on most days when I have been there and I’m not sure there everyone gets the “three sections” concept as I described earlier on. I’m a bit disappointed that a champagne and wine bar does not have more varieties by the glass on offer but it is nice to have a glass of Mumm champagne while sitting by the fire place in the lounge. So if you are looking for a place to go for a decent snack before going to e.g. the movies, City Brasserie & vinbar might be a good option – but don’t expect to be blown away by the vast variety of wine by the glass or food. You can read more about the place and book a table on their homepage

Gard – trip reports and pictures

Amber Heard

A couple days ago, I got caught up in a new television show, The Playboy Club.

I'm a huge fan of the 1960s and Mad Men, so I thought I would give the show a shot. I was pleasantly surprised that The Playboy Club focused less on sleaze and more on an exciting plot. So much happened in one hour!

I was instantly smitten with the main actress, Amber Heard, who is absolutely adorable.

I had seen her in a few films beforehand, and I knew she is starring with Johnny "spank me" Depp in the upcoming The Rum Diary (which I'm dying to see).

Well, after seeing her lovely debut as a Playboy Bunny in the new NBC show, I decided I simply had to know lore about her!

The 25-year-old has a pretty interesting story.

Amber comes from a middle-class Catholic family in Austin, Texas.

In high school, she was active in her school's drama department and also did local modeling and television commercials.

When she was 16, however, her life changed forever.

Amber's best friend died in a car accident. The incident haunted Amber, who began reading depressing novels by Ayn Rand and George Orwell. She then proclaimed herself an athiest.

At 17, she eventually dropped out of high school and moved to New York City to become a model.

A very short time later, she found herself doing small parts in television and movies in Los Angeles.

As her career began to pick up speed, so did the public's interest in her.

Last year, Amber came out at GLAAD's 25th anniversary event. She is currently dating the famous Hawaiian artist and photographer, Tasya van Ree, who is ten years her senior.

When she's not busy working, Amber enjoys spending time with her girlfriend, traveling, line-dancing in Texas bars, cooking, doing her own laundry, and playing with her Golden teacup Yorkie named Pistol.

She is an avid gun enthusiast (you can take the girl out of Texas, but...) and she proudly owns a .357 Magnum.

She is also a huge fan of muscle cars and like a bad ass, drives a 1968 Ford Mustang.

Despite her climb to fame, Amber just wants to keep it real.

"I would just love to work in films for the rest of my life. I don't care about famous or about being anything like that. All I care about is living my life, being able to do what I love, working project to project, city to city, in films I believe in. That's the only way to live."

What do you think of Amber?

Monday, September 19, 2011

A look at: Amberie

I'm really excited because my bloggy bff has just launched her jewelery store online!

Many of you probably know Amber from Amber's Mouthwash. She's an adorable quirky beauty with the cutest style in the world. I seriously want to own everything in her closet!

Amber recently launched Amberie, a collection of drool worthy jewelry and headbands.

I had the honor of interviewing Amber, so you all could get the head's up on her new store and learn a little about the artist herself!


How long have you been designing jewelery/accessories? Why did you start?
My mother would probably want me to say that I have been designing things for a while. However, I really began focusing on designing accessories in late 2008. It was the Fall '09 DVF collection that got me started. I was in love with the pom pom like head pieces and was determined to create something similar. When her spring collection came out the following season, I nearly died. That's when I decided to create my own floral headpiece. At that time however, it was because I loved it, and simply wanted to share in the beauty.

How would you describe your collection?
Urban woodland nymph, trying to take on a more polished outlook...but keeps slipping? Kidding! I'd say an innocent 1970's is Amberie's look. Definitely girly.

Where do you find your inspiration?
My first inspiration came out of pure panic, actually. I was on a layover in Heathrow, flying from Nice, France and on my way back to San Francisco. It was September 2009. I had moved out to France just three weeks prior with big dreams. I had been saving throughout my four years of college in anticipation of moving abroad to experience the culture, food and language of another country. I had always known that I would choose France. I went over as an au pair, and the first night there, I nearly had a panic attack. It dawned on me that I had traveled thousands of miles to a sleep in a strange bed, and live with a family that I had really, never met. The first week went fine, but by the end of the second week the mother stopped speaking to me. A week later, an emergency ticket back home (not covered by the family), and one night spent in the airport, I was on my way home. To say that I was absolutely devastated would be an understatement.

I was suddenly without my dream of living abroad, without a job, broke, and had bills waiting for me. On the flight, I was determined to keep my head held high. I've always believed that dressing the way you love helps assert confidence, and I decided to wear my favorite headband. It was the floral DVF Spring 2009 inspired one that I had made nearly a year ago (at that time). I received such a positive response from people in Heathrow that I began to wonder if I had a business opportunity. It was on the flight between London and San Francisco that Amberie was born. I took out a loan of $35 from my boyfriend, and four months later I got into my first store!

Now what inspires me are the things that I find beautiful. I love flowers. I particularly love wearing flowers in my hair. Flowers, feathers and sparkles. I think those three things pretty much sum up Amberie.

What is your most popular item?
You're never going to believe this: Black lace Bunny Headband, with black lace veil. They'll be out first thing October. Lady Gaga inspired that headband!

Anything else you want people to know about Amberie?
Amberie is a play on French vocabulary. In French, where things are created, such as a bakery, they often end in "rie". So, a boulangerie is a bakery. So Amberie, is my little area of creativity.

What do you think of Amberie? Don't forget to check out Amberie on Facebook!