June 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
This post is a small tribute to Marjorie Hillis, former Vogue editor and author of several excellent books of her day, including Live Alone and Like It, Orchids on Your Budget and a number of delightful others. While a few of the titles have been re-issued, I prefer the originals from the 30’s and 40’s, which are easily found on Alibris and other vintage book sites and shops. They are completely charming and rather radical for their time. They are also hilarious.
Ms Hillis was a writer with an intoxicating combination of chic and practicality. Sort of a Dorothy Draper of Living. (In one of her books, she asks her readers to think about whether or not they can “afford a husband”. Ha!!) Given the times she was living in, when women were supposed to be attached and raising children, her’s was a novel idea: be single, be married, whatever you decide, just make sure that you are happy and confident in your choices. Oh, and don’t be a schlub.
So, why all this chit-chat about Ms Hills, the married lady who happened to write about being a single woman waaay before the idea of “Carrie Bradshaw” could have been imagined? Well…for the last several days and for the next few as well, I am on my own at the beach. Mr. H is in the city working on finishing up a major project, and I am here for the sole purpose of having a new dishwasher installed at the house. (I know, it’s all glamour, glamour, glamour with me.) I am also working remotely on said Big Project, but still, I am on my own. And it is reminding me of all the truly wise things Marjorie has to say about living on your own. One of them is that you should always eat your meals at a properly set table — or tray — even when you are alone. No “Soup for One” in Hillis-land!
And so I have been making an effort to do so, including setting the table for myself and choosing some new music to take in while “dining”. I’ve also made sure that I have entertainment between reading copy and approving things, fresh flowers all over the house, and have even gone so far as to make sure that I look less than insane when leaving the house for grocery shopping and dog walks. And I must tell you, it makes the whole Being on My Own much nicer than if I were just kind of being a Sad Girl. A lesson for us all, I think. Even if you aren’t a person who loves their solitude, Living Alone and Liking It is completely achievable.*
* And yes, I still miss Mr. H
(Photo of this evening’s dinner: Some Cozy Night)
June 28, 2013 § 4 Comments
I hope you aren’t getting too sick of these posts, but there was so much to see and each place was so different, that it is hard to control myself. These next posts are firmly mid-trip and contained some of our busiest and most beautiful places. And what I loved the most was how different they all are — not once did I get that “oh, another one of these” while on this trip. Quite a nice surprise, I must say.
First up: Grays Court, which had a little guest appearance on Downton Abbey last season as their Scottish Residence. Yes, it is in England…and only the exteriors were used, as the interiors were in use as a rather low-key family home until just a few years ago. (And for the full DA Experience, just replace the tourist and late-model cars with Lady Mary and Matthew and you’ll see it.)
Of all the places we visited, this one was the most relaxed and my absolute favorite part was the walk in the bluebells…
It all started rather innocently enough, with a modest gate between us and what we thought we be a typical walk with the usual bluebells. Only, we simply could not have imagined the magnitude of the bluebells…the path was a dense carpet of them, and as your kept walking, it got to be downright trippy!
The path though the bluebells — which photos cannot really do justice to — left us at a most lovely clearing, and in the distance, you could see the beginnings of the house. But really, that landscape was the star of the show…
As you may have noticed, things had become cloudy and I am here to tell you that it was also somewhat cold. I had a choice to make: Be a baby and try to get the the house as quickly as possible OR Get My English On and just keep walking and enjoying. I chose the latter. As did Mr. H — being half English, he is always game for a good walk.
And soon enough, the house was in view, which I greeted with extreme pleasure, as that meant we were close to a Tea Room…
But not that close. Another garden with an odd little bridge was to be crossed, and it had rather entertaining entry gate…
Is it me, or is this discovery crying out for new nicknames for my besties?
Onward we walked, me thinking of little else but tea and not being rained on (I am not half English, so I still feel I did well given the circumstances). Sadly, by the time we arrived, there was very little in the way of nourishment beyond some tea in a paper cup, which we drank outside, in the rain. Still, I happily waited for our tour to begin and even had a chance to visit an outbuilding that has a really charming vegetable garden, where it was too early to grow food. But is was pretty to look at from indoors…
And then it was finally time to get into the house. As I mentioned, there wasn’t much to see, as it was a family home until around 2003. But heavens, upon leaving the house, we were treated to a psychotically lovely situation…
And that was a perfect ending to our visit. And what made it extra perfect was that Mr. H and I did it together. As we were on this trip, running around from place to place, being fascinated by so many things and having such hilarious (to us) conversations in the car that music was not needed, I’d like to always think of this gate as ours…
And really, that is what makes a trip around the world and in life. May you always have a good companion by your side.
For more information on Grey’s Court, including a snap of Matthew and Mary: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greys-court/
(Photos: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H)
June 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
Another dog post, but my monsters are turing four next month and I find that after a few years (or minutes), their things need replacement. This summer appears to be The Year of the Collar & Lead. And not unlike bathing suit cover-ups, good ones are hard to find! My new favorites are from The Urban Animal Scientist and even if you don’t have a dog — but wish that you did — take five and give these fantastic photos a gander:
I have a feeling that these are owner and canine shots…all parties seem to connected (or “all in each others energy” as a passerby said to me about A+O recently) in a kind of sweet way.
June 19, 2013 § Leave a comment
A pressing question as the temperatures begin to really rise and I have to pack for a short trip to Scottsdale this week. Out of all the things that one must shop for, I find the bathing suit cover-up to be the worst. Why? Because most of the ones I find seem to be some combination of: (1) Totally sheer, (2) Too expensive to get sunblock all over, (3) Bedazzled and (4) Made of fabric that is better used for throw pillows.
However, I have done quite a bit of legwork and am happy to report that there are a few companies that are making downright adorable things. My favorites of the season:
Items here go fast, but there are many things to love, including this little dress that I picked up a few months ago:
Founded by the fantastically beautiful model, Liya Kebede, Lemlem’s wares are made of handwoven fabric from her native country Ethiopia. The fabrics are just great and while the prices are a little higher than most, I think the good cause and cool designs make it worth it if you want to splurge.
Joie (available everywhere from Piperlime to Nordstrom)
When they feel like making a coverup, they go Bohemian, but not too far. Super soft cottons that breathe but longer sleeves for extra coverage makes me a little nuts for them. These are two of my favorites — same basic cut, two different fabrics:
They also made an off-white one this year that I adore, because sometimes plain white it just nice…
And, they made this great maxi that isn’t really bohemian at all — I think it is kind of sporty:
Considering the mixed bag of quality at J. Crew overall, they seem to keep the cover-ups pretty consistent. And there are some awfully nice ones this season, including collaborations with Lemlem and Nili Lotan!
Ella Moss (http://www.ellamoss.com/)
OK, they don’t really make cover-ups, but I use this kind of crazy dress as one:
I think the print is happy and perfect for poolside. Beach, less so. But that is just me.
And that is all I have for today.
(Photos, which could be better, I know: Some Cozy Night)
June 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
Today is Father’s Day and I am playing host. Thankfully, the weather decided to play ball and I am just about finished with all the prep for a lunch of lobster rolls, corn salad, greens and blueberry pie. (And wine…always wine.) In the meantime, I could not help but notice that summer is really here and getting into full swing…
Let’s hope this is the beginning of a wonderful — and much needed — summer to come!
(Photo: Some Cozy Night and the dishes are from Heath Ceramics (http://www.heathceramics.com/?p=63). Such lovely things!!)
June 11, 2013 § Leave a comment
If you have dogs, you know the value of a good dog wipe. After many, many years of trying different brands — and the extinction of my last favorite — I believe I have found ones that are even better. In fact, I am just going to go there: These are the best!
Some may argue that they are over-packaged, but the individual packets are perfect for one-the-go dog clean-up and keep the whole lot of them from drying out. (Clorox Wipes, anyone?) And they smell heavenly — a nice clean lavender scent that just makes slightly-less-than-clean dogs smell a whole lot better. Like!
Hearban Essentials Wipes can be purchased at http://www.herbanessentials.com and at http://olivegreendog.com, which also sells my very favorite shampoo for my little monsters.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
June 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
I thought I’d pace myself on England posts and take a moment to note that summer is finally here and so far, it has been delightful…
I came out last night to find that this year’s cutting garden was planted! So today I snipped a few buds that were more than ready to hit the stage. I know I post a LOT of flowers here, but I just love them and they make me happy. (I hope they make you happy, too.)
Also making me very happy this weekend is our herb garden (that also contains lettuces and small tomatoes). Mr. H and I planted it in the rain a few weeks ago and it is already taking off. And this evening we’ll be having our first summer salad containing only Mr. & Mrs. H greens*…
Along with some of our first tomatoes that must be eaten by us before the birds get to them…
Also worth noting is that last weekend we enjoyed our first grilled summer steaks and hamburgers, with beef from our favorite butcher in Brooklyn: Fleisher’s
Originally located in Kingston, New York, their second location opened about two years ago and what can I say? All their meats are fantastically delicious and “happy”. (And it is a touch easier to pop into this place than store 60 pounds of beef from a share once a year.) Even their ground chicken is tasty. Yay.
And that is all I have for today. I think we are off to a good start!
* I am not a hero, so we buy plants and lettuce plugs every year from The Green Thumb, which is a bit of an institution and one of the best places out by the beach for organic produce.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)