Choose your favourites before you reach saturation point.

I love art galleries but can only really take them in small doses. Two hours is about as much as I can realistically look at the framed stuff before I get the itch for a cup of tea and a cake. The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena was today’s cake trip. Pasadena is rich in these places and had the benefit of our company on a few days.

I was attracted to this place by the promise of works from La Belle Époque. It did not disappoint. Here are a few of my favourites from the show. It has the benefit of a cafe too. So saturation point was delayed by refreshment and we were able to take in more than I normally do.

Take a look around with these which made my shortlist of the best in this place the other day.

A small stunning Degas
This is one of the few paintings by a woman in this show and it’s by Berthe Morisot. A lovely lively painting expressed in some super subtle spare brushwork. Tells a great story.
Diego Rivera, this is a detail. Full image below with added person
Van Goch at his very maddest and best.
Very small Picasso drawing, every line just right.
Love the light shining up on this face in this typical Degas drawing
Toulouse Lautrec, some stunning works by him in the show, I especially like his drawings rather than the prints.
Here are two to choose from.
This strong graphic print has everything for me and it’s by Vouillard.
Armand Guillaumin painted this evocative scene on the Seine and captures light and pollution in this lovely piece.
Obviously not one of the Belle Epoque pictures but as a striking abstract of some scale, this is hard to beat.
So don’t put it in your shortlist.

For me the one with the lasting impression is the first small Degas of the woman ironing, which reminds me to go and get on with a spot of ironing.

Trader Joe and their brilliant bags.

I’d heard of Trader Joe’s before I came here. I follow a blog called Become Betty, where Betty, who’s not called Betty, reviews their products all the time. I like the blog, it gave me a taste of what the Americans like to eat and the strange things they do to their food.

Now I’ve experienced the place for real, and came out unrealistically excited about their re-usable bags. You get three re-usable bags in a Mystery Pack, and you get each bag with a unique design representing a particular place. Here you can see one for Atlanta, and one for Utah. The other one is in use. Not only is this a brilliant idea, they are all brilliant pieces of graphic design. We bought some to take home as gifts. Yes, that is reusable shopping bags have suddenly become good enough to give to people as a gift, not to line the dustbin. Collectible items, who would have thought it. The groceries were good too.