December 31, 2012 § Leave a comment
It is one of our last nights before a new year and before we must going back to the city and to work. The end of the year or a vacation always puts me in mind of “What’s Next?”. What is next at work? What’s on the social calendar? What new things will I learn? What things do I never want to think of again? And what things do I want to stay just as they are?
I think I’ve covered enough of most of these topics, except one thing I hope always stays the same: A-dog’s love of television. Since he was a puppy, this canine has intently watched everything from reruns of The West Wing to every episode of Breaking Bad. He also loves movies, including Malcolm X. (I am not joking. He was really into that one, making two Spike Lee fans in the house.)
At any rate, tonight his attention was a tad torn, since A-dog also loves watching the fire. So he was sort of watching it while watching The Hour* with careful body positioning. Got to love a dog who manages to make it all work, even when he is pulled in different directions. Perhaps that will be one of my New Things to Try in 2013.
Happy New Year!
* Have you been watching The Hour? It is on the BBC and it is pretty good. Less dramatic than Mad Men, and also less beautifully directed, but still a good one.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
December 26, 2012 § 2 Comments
Do you like Mr. H’s Christmas Stockings? I certainly did. And the toasty fire made our Christmas morning quite cozy, which was a great start to a lovely holiday. I hope you had a good one, too.
And now that it is all over, we are in the midst of winding down for the year. Mostly I hope to sleep, read, sleep, go to the gym without “squeezing it in”, eat and did I mention sleeping? Well, that is the plan.
I also plan to continue enjoying one of my favorite holiday treats: Panettone
How did I ever find this unappealing as a child? Maybe because it had “fruit cake” connotations? Or perhaps I was just stubborn. Whatever. A friend brought one to our place a few years ago and I am completely addicted to them now. Lovely with a cup of tea or as an indulgent breakfast. And you can get them this time of year in many places. My go-tos are BKLYN Larder (http://bklynlarder.com) and Zingerman’s (https://www.zingermans.com…and no, I do not work for them). Yum.
I see that I have gotten off the topic, which is Winding Down…whoops!
Part of Winding Down for me is actually getting rested and relaxed enough to wind back up again. Another part always involves some thinking about a goal or two for a coming year. You know I dislike “resolutions”, but having a sense of what you would like to incorporate into — or eliminate from — your life isn’t such a bad thing. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself. (A Development Area for me, sadly.)
So, goals for the coming year…
My first it to meditate more seriously. I have everything I need to meditate: the floor and myself. And you don’t even need a ton of time to meditate, but I can fill up a day so quickly that it is super easy to skip it. And, like moisturizing at night, I really should not skip it. When I meditate regularly, I find my overall reactions to things are much more measured and I am less easily flustered and overwhelmed, putting this in the Very Worthwhile file. So, I am going to try to spend less time reading mindless headlines on the internet and such, and reallocate it to a decent practice. Fingers crossed.
The second goal is a really tough one for me: Ask for help more often. I am a terribly independent person so I find it very hard to ask for help — or even accept it when offered. Since this is so not in my nature, I am going slow. But today, when Mr. H said that he would sweep up some dirt I had tracked inside, it took a moment, but I put down the dustpan and said “sure…thank you”. And to my knowledge, the said dirt has been swept up. Baby Steps, my friends…
But Baby Steps are sometimes all it takes to make big changes in life. So, I am stepping and shall see where I wind up.
(Photos: Mr. H and Some Cozy Night)
December 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
We finally made it! And I am so happy to be out of the city for a spell and to have nothing to do but cook Christmas dinner and open presents.* On the way out to the beach, Mr. H had the radio tuned into a station that was playing nothing but Christmas Carols.**I have a number of favorite ones — “Away in a Manger” and “What Child is This” are two — but had completely forgotten that one of my all-time favorites is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. (No, I do not know how I could have forgotten this carol. I really don’t.) Naturally it was in the rotation and the phrase “Comfort and Joy” has been swirling around my head ever since.
What lovely things to wish for someone and to have for yourself. So, I am wishing that for you, in whatever form it may take.
*Less happy that our neighbors by the beach seem to have the only construction crew willing to work on Saturdays and in the rain and cold, but whatever. I think I am earning some good Remodeling Karma on that one. We shall see.
** Not to be confused with Christmas Songs, which tend to drive me nuts.
(Photo of the 2012 mantle at the beach: Some Cozy Night)
December 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
In a final flurry of Pre-Holiday Socializing, I met up with my friend who is a Make-up Artist…let’s call her Ms B. I usually try very hard not to pepper her with questions about how to look perfect on her nights off, but one bottle of wine in and all bets were off. So I asked the one question that has been weighing on me: Should I give the old pencil eye liner a try? (I know, we tackle the Big Issues here.) Ms B gave me an unqualified “YES!”, and told me the one to try was the darkest one I could find by Urban Decay (http://www.urbandecay.com), and to use a push brush* to do the necessary smudging.
I ordered two shades that evening: a really dark brown and a fierce black. Today I tried the brown since it is daytime and I am at the beach, so I wanted to at least approach the Naturally Fresh and Lovely look. And I have to tell you, this stuff goes on smooth, is easy to smudge until the desired smudginess has been achieved and then kind of “dries” and stays put. Needless to say, I am impressed and bow down to Ms B for sharing her secrets.
Three other items that I wanted to share while we are on the subject:
1) B. Kamins Daily Facial Peeling Pads. Recommended to me by a facialist when I mentioned that sometimes even the gentlest of scrubs can sometimes feel a little harsh on my face. I’ve been using these about once a week and whenever I am too tired to actually wash my face before bed. (I know, the height of laziness…but I always make my bed.) Bottom line: They do the job and suspect that for someone with less sensitive skin, they would be great everyday use. (http://www.bkamins.com/en/peels.aspx)
2) Rodin Face Oil: Just sent to me by one of my dearest friends. I haven’t used it yet, but its reputation precedes it and it smells heavenly. I begin oiling tonight. (http://oliolusso.com/products/rodin-olio-lusso-face-oil)
3) Urban Decay Beauty Balm: This came with my eye pencils and I am not sure that it is released just yet, but I tried it today and I really like it! Not at all greasy, but goes on smoothly and has a broad spectrum SPF, which from what I hear, is a good thing.
And that is all I have for today, but that feels like enough, right?
* That is the stubby little brush that comes with all those kits of brushes you see. Also, have you washed your make-up brushes lately? Just a little reminder in case you haven’t.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
December 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
At first I didn’t think it was appropriate to write about Sandy Hook, but it also seems wrong not to say something. I don’t think I am alone in not being able to get my mind around “why?” and feeling extremely sad.
I suppose the best we can hope for is for peace for the families and genuine action in our country. I don’t think people who own guns are “bad”, but I do think one needs to decide whether the freedom to possess certain things is more important than the safety of the community at large. Hopefully now will be the time that we all start thinking about these choices and start making some positive ones.
December 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
Hopefully you are nearing the end of all the prep work and almost ready to settle in for a little Holiday R&R. And if you aren’t, you probably need a break. So here are some movies that I can’t help but watch this time of year, often by myself, as they range from weird to sappy…
Desk Set, 1957
I love this movie. LOVE IT! Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey and The Electronic Brain (also known as EMERAC). It isn’t about the holidays, but enough of it takes place during that time of year so that it feels right. My favorite scene is the dinner at Hepburn’s apartment, which is completely cozy and strangely chic. And without this film, I would never be able to ask Mr. H “How do you like your chicken fried?” when we obviously can’t understand a word either of us are saying. (Just watch it and that will all make sense.) Adorable and fun. And you can refer to your computer as “The Electronic Brain” for at least 24 hours after viewing before people get annoyed with you.
Little Women, 1994 (A.K.A. “The One with Winona Ryder”)
What can I say? This one reeks of Christmas and Simpler Times and The Goodness of People — an explosion of horse-drawn coaches, kittens, quilts, snow and flowers. And Marmee is played by Susan Sarandon, who was pretty much The Best Marmee Ever. Have I mentioned that Christian Bale is in it? Yes, he is, which provides a decent enough distraction from Winona Ryder, who, let’s face it, tends to be flat. Then there is the Beth Death Scene, which is wonderfully sappy and leads perfectly into the happy ending. For the ladies, only, I think. And make sure you have a nice, soft hankie.
White Christmas, 1954
True, it makes no sense but it is cheery and has “Christmas” in the title. And I really love singing along when the girls do their “Sisters” number. I really do.
Rosemary’s Baby, 1968
I know what you are thinking: What?? Well, all I can say is that I love this movie and will take any excuse to watch it. Aside from the insanity of it all, I love the amazing apartment, every single Rosemary Woodhouse outfit and the fact that this appears to have been made in a serious manner without anyone thinking that the plot is completely nuts. Campy good fun.
When Harry Met Sally, 1989
You know why. And I believe it to be an American Classic.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
Well, we are nearing the Finish Line for The Holidays. And while I wish I would have actually made some latkes and jelly donuts this week, I think that I may just buy some and enjoy them before the week is out.* That was a little bit of Holiday Wisdom that has served me well these last few weeks: Do it up, but be reasonable and don’t cut out the fun.
As such, even though it has been super busy, I have managed to go ice skating in Central Park with Mr. H and two good friends, have seen or plan to see other friends for a number of pre-holiday dinners and will be decorating a (pre-assembled) gingerbread house with my God Daughter this weekend. Even our company Holiday Party is something I am looking forward to this year. (Many thanks to my So On It, It Hurts colleague who has arranged a fabulous one.)
More Holiday Wisdom: Planning is next to Godliness. My gift spreadsheet worked like a charm and now all but one gift is ready for giving or have already been shipped out. I must say, this year’s Paper Mojo crop was my favorite to date:
For the record, I am now dying to do a powder room in prints like these…we’ll save that for 2013, I suppose.
And planning isn’t just for Gift Management. Getting the Christmas Day Menu in place and ordering as much of the food that is required for said meal ahead of time is extremely important. For the menu, I turn to new and old faithfuls:
I know people have funny feelings about Joy, but I find it to be very handy, especially for Straight Up things. And as I have said before, there is nothing in an Ina Garten cookbook that doesn’t turn out perfectly, and Alice Waters is Alice Waters. So, with the help of these three books, I have planned a festive meal that has tons to make ahead and very little that you can mess up. Festive but Foolproof: another key to Happier Holidays.
And to make sure things stay festive throughout our week off, I’ve also ordered all the goodies needed for New Year’s Eve and the days in between. Reservations at our favorite places by the beach have been secured and I have a rather massive reading and watching list to get through. I am also hoping to get to the new and undisputed massive new Parrish Museum. (http://www.parrishart.org) The building alone is should make it intriguing enough, but the exhibitions could be promising as well…we shall see.
And that is probably the final bit of Holiday Wisdom I have for this evening: Plans should go with the flow. This isn’t a military operation, it is meant to be fun, so if things get a little off course, no biggie. You’ve done the work, now is the time to just enjoy.
* In fact, I just ordered the latkes with the fixings from Russ & Daughters…now we just need the donuts. And yes, I am not actually Jewish, but I still like Chanukah and any reason to celebrate.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
December 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
I have one person on my Holiday list this year who deserves a beyond special treat. And I think this is it:
A gift certificate that is good for any establishment associated with the Relais & Chateaux program, which includes a zillion fabulous places to stay or to dine almost anywhere in the world. (Here in the New York area offerings include Per Se and The Mayflower Inn, to name just two. And there are many more to choose from.)
I was a little nervous about the transaction, as you basically have to fax France* to get the darn thing, but I sent off my request on Thursday and the gift certificate and guide were on my desk this very morning. No extra calls, fuss or muss. Yay.
* Have you read From Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik? Well, you should and pay close attention to his “error distant” tale to understand my concerns. Only in France…
December 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
I moved to New York City in the middle of the AIDS epidemic. It was a very frightening and sad time. Much has been accomplished, but there is still so much to do. In honor of this day, I have finally finished gathering up all the clothes I no longer wear and am donating them to Housing Works. Just a little thing…but LTs add up!