Kitchen Witch Fashion and Closet Taste

Maybe I’m not the kind of girl who should be offering fashion advice. Maybe I can’t tell you the history of Halston (although if you’d like to be my art patron and toss me your hand-me-downs, that is the kind of history, er, herstory, I am very interested in.). Maybe haute couture leaves me in a particular state of desperate hybrid: part art/theater daze of bliss, part capitalist/excess disgust, and of course, a generous serving of self-effacing pedestrian, a woman much too suburban for such ensembles and certainly not worthy. Don’t worry I can tackle this in therapy and won’t bore you here with my fragile Leo psyche. Anyhow, I think practically, there is no place to wear them, FOR ANYONE. And maybe, to tell you truth, I am mostly drawn to comfort. Not to jump on the pile of the aging lesbians in comfortable shoes compost heap, it’s just that frankly, I spend most of my fantasy time in the kitchen. Wearing natural fibers. WAKE UP!!!! So what if I like arch support. Sheesh.

Woodcuts by Lydia Eccles and Miriam Klein Stahl, Coffee coaster from a diner on a road trip, and set list from an Elliott Smith show at The Fillmore

So obviously, by way of introduction, I will make no attempt to be cool here. I am done laboring under the delusion that I ever knew how anyway. There are crocs on my back porch for gardening, and though they exist there in the strict context that they will never appear anyplace remotely public, they are so supremely comfortable, maybe sometimes I garden for longer than I need to just to enjoy the feeling. It’s Ginger’s garden, really. I kill most things without specific direction. But she turned out a phenomenal herb patch for me, a bushel of kale, plucky butter lettuce, tons of chard, cabbage, peas are on the rise out there, and the collards reign in glory. I stare out the window and I daydream about this ancient olive wood spoon I have, picture myself stirring candy striped chioggia beets into the garden bounty alongside waiting pink ringed radishes. I slice fresh corn off the cob, watch it tumble into the vintage teal pyrex mixing bowl with shaved fennel. I lose myself to the perfect dressing for the thing, peaches and ground anise stars with cumin seeds, crushed Malden salt crystals, champagne vinegar with extra virgin in my Delux deco blender that me and Ginger found at an estate sale someplace for 10 bucks.

All the plants are from friend's clippings or they are gifts. My kitchen is stocked with the people I want to cook for, even Gladys the ballerina presiding over the bonsai plant was drafted from her performance on my 40th birthday cake, a nuclear sheet number from a Safeway in Palm Springs.

Besides longing to cook constantly, listening to a mix that includes both The Carpenters and The Gits, and constantly soaking any variety of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, I try and look nice. I do. But here are some conundrums: I like to be asleep by ten and up by five. This cuts down on evening wear possibilities. Also, I exercise often which offers an inherently fashion poor undertaking. Most attempts I’ve seen to bring style to sweat really blow. Don’t ruche my tank top, please. Don’t drape some bullshit spandex over my thighs. It’s dishonest and looks stupid. Fuck it. Health seems like a better fashion choice than the crystal meth and weed I preferred in my younger years, and some days I take solace in just tying a bandana around my head and hoping for the best. Additionally limiting my look is that while I love shoes, I often can’t afford the outfits that are built around them, so I just window shop and appreciate the things as objects as I might a Gonzalo Fuenmayor or a Laurel Sparks. Mostly I continue to amass a hoodie collection I don’t need, featuring a black pullover emblazoned with a Pittsburgh Steelers situation, and my most coveted additions, complimentary custom made Friday Night Lights hoodies Ginger and I designed for each other on various holidays. I’m Riggins. She’s Saracen. Don’t be jealous.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.

So take my fashion sense with a grain of salt. I love salt. I have the alchemical symbol for salt tattooed on my finger. I am deeply committed to salt. Pink salt. Black salt. Chocolate salt. Bring it.

Here's some salt. And pepper.

Let’s talk about food and kitchens now. Come over for dinner. That’s my favorite thing of all. I love dreaming up a menu, wandering through the produce section at Rainbow Grocery or hitting the Ferry Building farmer’s market. The fruit and vegetables tell you what they want. I collect plates to serve it all on, while we slowly, one piece at a time, try to build a set of Heath Ceramics table wear, each special occasion in our home arriving with a bowl here, a dinner plate there. Someday. (The big dream is to tile a backsplash with these things.) In the mean time, this has been all junk shops, estate sales, and Community Thrift.

Here's some.

I’ll get the goods home and peruse the pantry exploding with mason jars, and wait for you to arrive, garlic and cilantro smells filling the hallway.

These labels are from http://www.tapeswell.com.

In my fantasy, I’m wearing the perfect apron, not the beautiful vintage ones that look amazing on everyone but me, but maybe a plain linen one with a singular embroidered red stripe down the hem. Have you seen something like this? I would like it, please. And the tablecloth as well. In reality I am wearing these boots because I am almost always wearing these boots.

So trashed.

Deeply, deeply trashed.

I got them used in NYC when I “lived” there. Best thing I ever couldn’t afford. At $42. Used by some tiny cowboy someplace. Also maybe I am wearing this. Messy seams and no tags at all, perfectly worn in, a French naval shirt. Thanks, France. I like that Statue in New York you gave us, too.

Just don't make me get on a ship and shoot anyone.

After dinner we will sit round the table, sated and happy, and we will write in our book the day, what we all ate, and some highlights.

Come over. Eat food and write in the book.

We’ll preserve community and family this way, and we’ll look up at the good Dr. King, who presides over the meal. Ginger got him at an antique store in a back room in North Carolina for fifteen dollars. It’s signed White 4/25/65 and at every meal, reminds us that it’s not just food that nourishes life. It also reminds us that Dr King had this awesome blue tie.

In the next two months I will visit chefs, writers, restaurant owners, and fantastic cooks in their homes. Most of them I have never met. I just wrote them and they said ok. Can you believe how people will just let you invite yourself over? I am stunned and delighted and looking forward to introducing you to what promises to be a deeply interesting collection of kitchens and closets, generosity and talent, genius and humility. I can’t wait. I love a Tuesday.

About Sara Elise Seinberg

I love a princely oak cabinet fronted with leaded glass and piled with Heath ceramics. Give me sun dried linen sheets and red ticking. I like wild and calm at turns, a person who can mix a pattern successfully, and I often daydream of paint chips tumbling in file across a wall at the hardware store. My longing to return to the outfits of Jewish summer camp has been fulfilled with a recent return to pond fashion and striping, raw leather, a fisherman's bracelet from a beach town for $2.95. Thanks, world. I can't wear ruffles or bows, even handsome ones, and honor those who can. I want my food on a pretty plate in explosions of color with exclamations of texture collisions. I want it healthy, divine, and crammed with life. I love a snack, a scarf, and a good belt. I have a running wish list for my dream kitchen. My favorite articles of clothing are a pair of used boots I got while New York living was eating me alive. They cost $42 and I couldn't afford them then, and they are my personal sign of the intrepid. The other thing is a stripy French sailor shirt, thick and too big, like wearing a friend on your shoulders into the world.

6 comments

  1. Liz

    Awesome. Can’t wait to read more from you!!🙂

  2. I *love* the look of mismatched plates–same with mismatched furniture. Maybe it’s out of necessity, matched sets of things costing what they do, but somewhere along the way it became an aesthetic.

  3. hollyhilgenberg

    I wish I had your kitchen. Do you want to come over and decorate mine?

  4. gillian bell

    Please, sirs and madams and sirmadams, may I have some more Sarah Elise Seinberg?

  5. Erock

    I got choked up to see your FNL hoodies. So tender, So good. Excited to read more

  6. It’s so satisfying to hear the delicious sounding descriptions of vegetables: it’s almost as if the imagination can eat? I also love hearing about your personal accessories and then getting to look at the gorgeous pictures of them.

IBC LOVES your brain, and we encourage thoughtful, lively discussion. We will, however, moderate comments that are abusive or disrespectful. Stay classy!

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