I Can’t Believe I Am Saying This…

February 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Reading books on the iPhone is great.

There, I said it. And this is coming from a serious printed book nerd. While I wouldn’t use it for books on design or anything highly illustrated, the darn thing is perfect for frothy novels poolside. Even better than the iPad, I think. And if you can avoid checking email, the news and the rest of the outside world while reading on your phone, even better.*

And that is all I have for now.


* Yes, another Development Area for me. But I am trying.

“How Do Parents Do It??”: Gift Wrapping Edition

November 18, 2012 § 2 Comments

In a few hours I will be celebrating my God Daughter’s fifth birthday with her family and friends. For the last two weeks, I have been  trying to figure out how to wrap her gift, which is sort of “Let Your Mind Go Wild” themed and includes glitter glue sticks, a proper 64 pack of crayons, drawing and crafting paper, a crafting book and three little finger puppets that I could not leave at the store.

Aside from the Crayola Box, nothing is a normal shape to wrap. And it seems as if all the stores where you can buy these kinds of presents for children opt out of carrying boxes to put all the oddly-shaped things in for wrapping purposes. So, I was left to my own devices.

I managed to get the rectangular items into one block of wrap-able matter, provided that I did not get all nutty about the sides being perfectly even. The crayons were a snap and I just kind of went with it on the trapezoid-shaped glitter glue sticks. Once I got the ribbon on, I was feeling pretty good about myself, and then I remembered: The #!*% finger puppets.

Tulle netting? Didn’t have any in the house. Same for tissue paper. And there were no shoe boxes that weren’t in use, and really, without decorating the box itself, how great would that have been to open? (My thought: Not so great.)

So, I decided see if Mr. H had any ideas, and just stacked the puppets on what was already wrapped for his review. (I get his thoughts on perplexing issues at work all the time, so why not this?) And then I happened to notice that they kind of looked good. Could proper arranging of the puppets solve my problem and make the gift more exciting from a presentation perspective? I think the answer is “Yes”.

Considering my Rookie status in the Children Gift Wrapping Department, I think I did all right. And while I debate the merits of spending time trying to make little outfits for each puppet for added zing, I think we’ll be just fine if it doesn’t pan out. And for the record, each puppet butt is taped to the package to make sure they don’t fall off.

And that is all I have for today.


(Photo: Some Cozy Night)

Car Shorts

August 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I love how some of the fabulous women I know manage to pull off shorts — especially at the office. But I almost never partake since I lack Leg Confidence (with good cause). That said, the world has been making some awfully adorable shorts of late and a particular pair by one of my favorite lines, A.P.C., got really stuck in my head this season. Then it hit me: What if I purchased said shorts, but wore them more as a part of my (newly created) Car Outfit on summer drives out to the beach?

And a new concept outfit was born:

Now, it may seem silly to designate an outfit solely for a weekly car trip, but it has its benefits:

1) Work Clothes Stay at the Office, where they are not subjected to the abuse of a long drive that may or may not include food, dog contact, and who knows what else. Also, when we leave at night, I’ve probably been in those work clothes for fifteen hours, so a break would be nice.

2) No Clothing Migration, which, in spite of my efforts, seems to happen a lot. That dress I wanted to wear to a meeting last Tuesday? Yeah, it was over 100 miles away because I forgot to pack it. Eliminating this little bit of irritation from my life through a cute pair of shorts seems totally logical to me.

3) I Can Be Comfortable, but Presentable, because let’s face it, we get pulled over from time to time, frequently need gas, and well, you know, you never know when you will need to get out of the car. So why not make sure you aren’t going to embarrass yourself should the need arise?

And truthfully, those shorts were on mega-sale and are ridiculously cute!

I rest my case — and make note of that fact that I will need the winter equivalent soon enough. More on that later.


(Photo: Some Cozy Night)

The First Cut is the Deepest

June 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

My life is not always the life I have in mind for myself. I want to be one of those peaceful people who has time to grow things, come home from work and make an amazing meal, carefully manage how my orchids are coming along and discuss which new ballet productions I’ve loved and which ones I loathed. Maybe I want to be a retired WASP living in Connecticut? Or an Alice Waters-type in Berkeley? Who knows. But I think we can all agree that whatever it is, I am not there yet.

That said, I did get this to bloom again. So, that is something.

Still, the disconnect between how I want things to be and where they really are requires that I recall the principle of the BATNA from my negotiation classes. (Yes, I actually studied this stuff.) BATNA stands for the Best Alternative To No Agreement. Right now, I am in need of a Life BATNA, and decided that my Best Alternative to being the person I described above is to get a little help with the getting to that place and to not bite off too much when possible. (The latter is a Development Area for me.)

This brings me to the Cutting Garden. I’ve wanted one forever, since I am a firm believer in fresh flowers in the house whenever and wherever possible. And there is something so luxurious about just popping out into your garden and snipping off a few buds to bring into the house. So after several years of dreaming about it, and thinking that I would get to it when I have time, I asked my friend who is also a Landscape Designer to just put a small one in for testing purposes. (The following years will be for getting the layout just where we want it, and for flower choice refinement.) And so he did:

Dahlias and salvia.

More salvia, which line each side of the beds and smells lovely, and some zinnias in a color that I wish I could find in lipstick.

Cleome, I think.


No idea, but I am sure they will be pretty.

More dahlias…

And the “something green” I asked for in an email, but could not remember what I meant when pressed during our last meeting. But he came up with something perfect.

So I found myself standing around all these new things in the back of my house, and didn’t want to touch a thing. I mean, shouldn’t I be “saving” these flowers for something?

The answer is simple: No. Flowers are for now. But being a planner and someone who’s childhood was not without plastic slipcovers, this is a big block to overcome. But I reminded myself that (1) cutting these flowers was part of the Life BATNA I am working on and (2) if I didn’t, I would have to buy some and that would be wasteful. And I hate waste. So, I got my clippers and went for it…

Dahlias and salvia.

Some very early hydrangea blooms…this was a tough one, since they last a long time on the plant, but I cut anyway.

The light scent of roses makes brushing one’s teeth in the morning a little more civilized. And that is the point, isn’t it?

Now, there is still much left to do to get these beds to where I want them to be. Same goes for me personally, I guess. But at this very moment, I am delighted by both the present result and the prospect of the future.


(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Need To Do

March 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

I started thinking about writing something on the topic of doing too much when I looked down as my ersatz desk yesterday afternoon:

As you can see, in addition to my laptop, I have a blackberry, an iPhone, a diary and a full note pad. For the record, I am not a disorganized person. It just seems that my life has evolved into requiring all these things to do what I feel I need to do.

Hmmm. “Need to do” is such a slippery slope, isn’t’ it? I need to be out of my office right now because I am doing some work on the house that needs to be done. (And some of it is genuinely necessary, but it is possible that the other stuff wasn’t really critical. There, I’ve said it.)

I need the blackberry so that wherever I am, I can reliably be in contact with and direct the people on my team at work. (The iPhone doesn’t really cut it for those long emails I write about contract terms, ad placements, one-off requests and the like.) And of course, I need the iPhone for all manner of personal things, including directing all the work that is currently going on at my house.

The diary is needed to jot down notes because I am 40 and was brought up taking notes. I also love the feeling of the pen crossing off something on one of the three different “To Do” lists that I keep. In my book, it is one of Life’s best feelings.

The note pad is for other notes and sketches that aren’t necessarily archived like things in my diary. And in truth, I can’t function without my laptop, since I can’t really read things as well on any of my other devices — even my iPad. (Yeah…I have one of those, too. But at least that is mostly for entertainment or light computing.)

So, all of these things have become more important to have with me than my keys (lots of people have copies of those!) and almost everything in my wallet. And I can’t help but wonder if maybe I am doing something wrong here.

Am I doing too much? (Are you?)

I think the answer is a resounding “YES!”, but if you are at all Type A (check), have a business or demanding job (check), have children (ok, this I don’t have), like things “a certain way” (check) and are at all goal oriented (check, check), it is hard to avoid the “Too Much” Pickle. But as I round the corner into 41, I am thinking that maybe I should give it a shot.

The other day I was thinking about a list I made six months before I turned 40. It was a plan to achieve various things by that fateful birthday, including (and I am not kidding): learning French, exercising at least 3 times a week, meditating at least three times a week, planning all my evenings with social and deliberate “at home” time, and a whole bunch of other stuff that was going to make me a Better Person. Inside and out.

All I can tell you about that plan is that when I turned 40, I was able to say “pencil”, “the bike is yellow” and “the fish swims” in French. But honestly, what was I expecting? To achieve it all, of course! That is what we all do, right?

Well, a more rational person may suggest that one must accept the fact that you can’t put everything on a schedule or a project plan. (What??) Maybe I will get around to learning more French in the next year or two. I meditate when I can, but try not not stress about it, since that seems illogical, even to me. And somehow in the last three months, I have miraculously become someone who exercises almost every day. It didn’t happen on schedule, but it did happen.

And that is the trick, I guess: knowing that you can achieve a lot in this life, provided you give yourself a break here and there and recognize that, like a garden (I just met with my most excellent landscape designer regarding yet another project, so the process is on my mind), it all takes time to mature and blossom.

So, here’s to our gardens –and to giving ourselves a little break so that they can grow!


(Photo…and I know it is a kind of blurry, but I think that reflects my state of mind at the time it was taken: Some Cozy Night)

And Now I Feel Bad…

January 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

You may recall my retracting my “like” status for Moda Operandi in a recent post. While I am still a die-hard Net-a-Porter fan, and quickly becoming a La Garconne fan, MO sent me a lovely little gift today:

I cannot tell you how much I love NARS products. So the arrival of this lip crayon, especially during my latest “maybe I can wear a red lip” phase, was the perfect little reminder that these folks get their clients. So, I will continue to open their emails and keep you posted.


(Photo: Some Cozy Night, at my desk once again.)

Soaplessley Devoted

February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

If the memory of my twenties is intact, I believe Joni Mitchell once wrote these wise words: “Everything comes and goes…pleasure is gone too early; trouble leaves to slow”.

Knowing Joni’s oeuvre, I am guessing that she wasn’t singing about products that you make a life with that suddenly disappear, without the merest hint of a warning. But since I am fortunate enough to have worked out most of my Love and Feelings issues, I can happily use Joni’s words as a jumping off point to discuss this strangely pressing problem.

My first great lost (product) love occurred about six years ago. It was a mascara by Dior that had cashmere in it. And the concoction actually made me appear to have eye lashes. I was faithful through the end of the Clinton Administration, and well into the W years. Then the unthinkable happened: While feverishly looking for my magnificent mascara at the SoHo Sephora (one of the circles of hell, but that is for another post), I was coldly informed that it was discontinued.

Bonjour Tristesse.

As I didn’t have the Product Sourcing Prowess I now possess, I immediately folded and moved on to the product’s ostensible replacement: Dior Show.OK. The stuff is quite good and I have used it ever since, but I still miss my old flame. (Head of Lash Enhancements at Dior, are you listening??)

I could tell you many other such tales, but the most frustrating one of late has to do with soap. And it all began so sweetly…

The last time I was in Paris, I fell deeply in love with the soap stocked in the hotel where Mr. H and I were staying for my birthday. (This definitely makes my life sound more glamourous than it is, trust me.) I knew the brand and when I got back home, I immediately ran off to Bergdorf’s to get a few bars. Once Mr. H appeared to be happy with said soap, I began taking on slightly larger positions out of convenience. It was then unanimously determined by me that this would be our “house soap”. Life was good.

About two years ago, my soap suppliers (yes, that last word is plural) began tossing out phrases like “delayed on account of repackaging”, “limited supplies” and “not knowing when they would have more”. Life was becoming a little less good.

Through sheer tenacity, I was able to get about a case of my beloved bars. At a consumption rate of about one bar every two weeks, I felt confident that I could ride out the storm.

Around the time of my big score, a sane friend of mine suggested that I maybe try some other soaps during this period of uncertainty. I ignored her at first, but as I watched my supply dwindle, I went to LAFCO and bought a
bar of everything that didn’t repulse me.

The Soap-Off was on.

I will spare you the details of my research, which was conducted over a period of months. But the findings were not promising: I had found the world’s most perfect soap back in Paris. There could be no other.

I scored a few more boxes over the last several months, but as of this writing, I have but five bars and my suppliers are telling me they don’t know when to expect more. One did say he’d call me, though.

If you have gotten this far in the story, I feel awfully bad telling you that I have no words of wisdom or encouragement to finish out this post. Except, I guess, this:

A few days ago I began to take notice of the lovely soap they stock here at my Nothing is a Problem Hideaway. It smells delicious, lathers well, and Mr. H seems to like it. So, through the magic of Poolside Internet, five bars should be waiting for me when I get home, and several of my precious Parisian bars are “delayed”, but should arrive sometime in the not-so-distant — or totally distant — future. We shall see.


(Crappy photo of my new soap, Bvlgari’s Green Tea, taken while Mr. H was trying to sleep: Some Cozy Night)

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