Live Alone (for a Spell) and Like It

June 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

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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 ItOrchids 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.*

xx

* And yes, I still miss Mr. H

(Photo of this evening’s dinner: Some Cozy Night)

Mr. & Mrs. H’s English Adventure: Grays Court

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.)

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Of all the places we visited, this one was the most relaxed and my absolute favorite part was the walk in the bluebells…

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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!

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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…

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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.

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And soon enough, the house was in view, which I greeted with extreme pleasure, as that meant we were close to a Tea Room…

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But not that close. Another garden with an odd little bridge was to be crossed, and it had rather entertaining entry gate…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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And really, that is what makes a trip around the world and in life. May you always have a good companion by your side.

xx

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)

A Quickie: The Urban Animal Scientist

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:

http://www.theurbananimalscientist.com/lookbook/

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.

Happy Monday!

xx

Where Have the Cute Cover-ups Gone?

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:

Lemlem (http://www.lemlem.com/)

Items here go fast, but there are many things to love, including this little dress that I picked up a few months ago:

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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:

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They also made an off-white one this year that I adore, because sometimes plain white it just nice…

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And, they made this great maxi that isn’t really bohemian at all — I think it is kind of sporty:

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J. Crew (http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/beachcoverups.jsp)

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:

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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.

xx

(Photos, which could be better, I know: Some Cozy Night)

In Full Swing

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…

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Let’s hope this is the beginning of a wonderful — and much needed — summer to come!

xx

(Photo: Some Cozy Night and the dishes are from Heath Ceramics (http://www.heathceramics.com/?p=63). Such lovely things!!)

Have I Mentioned?? Dog Edition

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!

photoSome 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.

xx

(Photo: Some Cozy Night)

 

 

A Little More England! Kingston Lacy

June 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

For the  record, I took around 3,000 photos on this trip, which is insane. But I am told by almost all good photographers I know that the key to getting a few great shots is to take A LOT of them. So, I did. And I am not saying that these are all great photos, but I am trying to up my game a tad.

And now back to England. The first leg of the trip was focused on the areas surrounding Bath and one of our first stops was farther south in Dorset, at Kingston Lacy (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy/), which was built to resemble an Italian palace. For all I know that was “tacky” in the day, but I find it to be pretty today. And from the 17th century until 1981 it was the Bankes family home.  (In case you are at all interested:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bankes)

We arrived on a rather dreamy day…cloudy enough to get the “English” feel, but with just enough sun and blue skys here and there to make you want to walk your legs off to enjoy the house and grounds.

KLFrintView with tourists

The walk leading up to the house kind of surprised me. Why? Because as an American who spends a lot of time seeing really big developer’s houses all over the place, this house actually seemed reasonable in size. I know this is nuts, but I have always felt that many houses are just too big these days — especially for their lot sizes — and this is estate pretty confirmed my beliefs. Is it large? Yes. But it contained a family and a staff and is sited on 8,500 hectares. (Which is a lot of acres. Please don’t ask me to do the math. I’ve been doing it all day.) And the combination of the scale of the house with the size of the property felt Just Right.

Some of my favorite moments…

KLCeiling

Amazing ceiling in the center hall. One interesting fact I learned on this trip: Many times, more “violent” paintings  — animals killing each other, for example — were placed in staircases, as they were not considered “polite” for sitting rooms. (And this center hall definitely delivered on that trend.) I tend to agree, but generally I am not one for violent art anywhere in the home. That said, when you are talking Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Brueghel, I suppose one can relax the rules a touch.

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I do love the amount of carving and plaster that can be found in this building — and many others that we saw. This one, though, just cracked me up, as I am pretty sure that I make this face at meetings sometimes. And when on the phone with my Dry Cleaner.

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As imposing as the more public spaces can be, this place still felt like someone’s home. And this bedroom really drove that home. When I walked in, all I could think of is how my Grandmother would have loved this room. And the reading contents were pretty excellent as well…

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And, to make good on that Manor House Thing, some other shots…

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OK, this one is blurry…but that lady was just constantly in my way!

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And then there is the back of the house, which leads to the wonderful grounds…

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Yeah…this is the payoff. But there is more…

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gorgeous

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(I want to paint my closet this color…or at least find a lipstick in this shade.)

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Yes. This is a headstone for a pony. Next to it was one for “a dear friend”, which I am hoping was also not human…or Silvertail must have been some pony.

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You have no idea how long it took us to figure out that these sheep “looked different” because they were shorn. (I thought they were goats at first. You can see it, right??)

Sure…we pretend to be in The Country at the beach, but no matter how many herbs we grow, we are helpless city folk. I am hoping that we are slowly educating ourselves on these matters. Which, in addition to just being outside, having fun and seeing new things, is kind of the point of the whole affair.

Until next time: know your shorn sheep from your goats!

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

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