Fall Has Its Merits

September 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

leavesturninsonoma

As we were driving back to the city this morning, I was feeling a twinge of Summer is Over Sadness. Until I remembered that fall has quite a bit to recommend itself. For starters, there is the fashion. Whether cuddled up in cozy sweaters, busting out my favorite capes and jackets or wearing something insanely pretty and glamorous — but impossible for real winter weather — this is the time of year to let it rip.

Concerts, plays and art openings are happening everywhere, restaurants are bustling and it finally gets a little more quiet by the beach for when it is needed.

And then there are the pumpkins…have I mentioned that pumpkins are one of the things in life that makes silly happy? I have no idea why, but when I spy the first ones popping up, I get full-on giddy. As such, I always take the Children in My Life pumpkin picking. They are an excellent cover, and tend to be extremely adorable bopping through the patch. They also are totally into “more” as a concept, which ensures that our wagon is nice and full and totally guilt free.

pumpkinlove

Fall is also grape harvest season for all that wine I like to drink! And it tends to be the time of year that some equally Wine Friendly companions of ours hit the vineyards to find things to squirrel away for the perfect occasion. Last year, we went to Sonoma for said trip and it was, among other things, a very nice way to spend a few days in the fall…

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quiet morning

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As you can imagine, I didn’t miss summer at all in these surroundings. And the food and wine that went along with it made it even better…

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My new crush vineyard: Williams Selyem. A must if you are in Sonoma.

chickenandwafflesplease

And fall is the perfect time to not only drink a few reds, but also to eat slightly more hearty food. Let’s just say that I enjoyed the chicken and waffles here very much. Very much. As well as the food at both Barndiva (sorry for the blurry photo) and Zazu Restaurant & Farm, which was a little meat-centric…hence the twinkle light pig, I think.

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oink

See, fall is fun and filling!

And then there are still the Farmer’s Markets. Now, they might not be in their full glory come November, but they do keep chugging along, which allows you to prepare all manner of cozy fall meals.

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For the record, these are from a stand in Sonoma, so, you know, they still have zucchini blossoms. In New York, not so much. But my favorite one by the beach stays open until December 1st. So, I am In Produce until almost the end of the year.

farmersmarketsaretoveryet

And you can wear a cute sweater cape when you are out shopping!

So, bottom line: fall is fabulous! Enjoy the season. I plan to.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Not Too Shabby

May 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Before I begin bombarding you with the gorgeous English Countryside, where they make scone eating a way of life, I wanted to remind myself and you all that natural — and created — beauty is everywhere…

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A quick snap of Prospect Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and said to be his favorite of this and Central Park (which he also designed). I love this park and on a beautiful day, nothing is better than taking our terrible terriers out for a walk through its winding paths and open fields.

So, just a little reminder that you don’t always have to go far to get away.

xx

(Photo of Friday’s walk: Some Cozy Night)

Do Not Wait

April 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

donotwait

This is one of my absolute favorite neon signs in New York. I have loved it for years and year and years. And have been meaning to get a photo of it for just as long. But for one reason or another, I haven’t been able to — or at least wasn’t motivated enough to make it happen. Then, a few weeks ago, Mr. H and I noticed that the building was for rent and the panic set in: Were we too late? Would this sign be gone before we could get to it? UGH!

Luckily, Mr. H was able to get a shot on the way back from an appointment today. Or rather, I should say that he took the time to get that shot. It could not have taken all that long, but I am sure once the sign is gone, we will both be happy to have this snap, since memories fade.

I know that this is, once again, a small thing. But I do think it is a good reminder of what we all know: Time moves in only one direction and you cannot expect things to always be the same. So, with that, let’s remember to take the time to do those things, both small and huge, that we’ve been meaning to do, just in case things change later.

xx

(Photo: Mr. H)

Random Post Past Midnight

March 29, 2013 § 1 Comment

Just back from a lovely dinner party with a group of people that I didn’t really know before this evening and had just the best time. This was preceded by a meeting with someone that I’ve known for a long time but finally got to know better today and was so happy to find that she was as cool and easy to talk to than I could have ever anticipated. And on top of that, I could not help but notice what a great team we have at work — they are all so committed and interested in making it right. AND fun to be with. Tonight, I feel lucky.

So, my point? Well, one’s life can be measured in so many “accepted” ways that you wind up feeling as if you haven’t done it quite right. But then there are moments — and even entire days — when you are left with the genuine feeling that there was no other way than the path you picked. In the midst of the Supreme Court hearings of the last two days, the LEAN IN hoo-ha and all the other things in our culture that seem to be designed to draw a line between you and what is “acceptable”, a day like today reminds me that making your own happiness is really all that matters. So, I guess that is my point: Make your own happiness and do what feels right to you. It really is all that matters, even if it doesn’t feel like it most of the time.

xx

Breakfast, Better

January 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I just finished reading a biography of Craig Claiborne* and was immensely cheered to discover that when he was dining at home alone, he made a point of setting a proper table just for himself. (He trained at  École hôtelière de Lausanne, so I suppose it would have been a hard habit to break.)  While Mr. H and I are Free Range when it comes to eating meals**,  for years weekday breakfasts have been served on a simple rattan Breakfast Tray that we make up each morning. I don’t know why it started — maybe because our kitchen isn’t an eat-in — but it is on my Must Have list today.

Considering that it can be done up while our toast is toasting and the dogs are eating, it takes very little extra time to put our morning meal on a nice plate with a proper napkin and pop it onto the tray. Even the idea of the Breakfast Tray gives me a little lift at the start of the day, which is especially important when it is, oh, I don’t know, ten degrees outside and maybe snowing***. And if you are a Breakfast at My Desk Person (I have been known to be one), taking a few extra minutes on the weekend to treat yourself in this way will probably produce the same effect, which may result in this simple pleasure landing on your Must Have list, too.

xx

* Major League Food Writer when things were more civilized. Chances are that you have a cookbook of his.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Claiborne

** But we’ve recently been making an effort to have dinners ala Mr. Claiborne which does make even takeout sushi feel special. Lunch is another story entirely. (https://somecozynight.com/?s=do+lunch)

*** Why do we live in the Northeast again?

(Photo of our typical, but somehow more special, morning oatmeal: Some Cozy Night)

Not to Go All Oprah On You, But…

January 11, 2013 § 2 Comments

prettierinreallife

I moved to New York in part for this view on 5th at dusk last night. The sky was an insanely pretty shade of blue and the city seemed ready to light up and do something very, very “smart”.* My choice to move here — at 18, when you know pretty much nothing, which aids the decision-making process — was based a little bit on an impulse and a lot on a vague idea I had of what it would be like: One part Woody Allen, one part Nick and Nora, one part “Who Knows?”. And I knew I wanted to be in that glow. It can be a very hard place to live, but in the end, I don’t know that I would have it any other way. Which brings me to Oprah…

OK, I am not really going to write about Oprah**, but I know that she is all about “lightbulbs going off in one’s head” and I was just reminded one of my biggest moments of that variety today. I was flipping though some photos online (trouble focusing at the office today), and saw one of the designer Cynthia Rowley. No offense to Ms. Rowley, but I pretty much never think about her. Until I saw her photo. Then I remembered that a decade ago, I was on the subway heading to my job at one of the world’s largest media companies where I was completely and utterly miserable. I was deep in thought, contemplating leaving my job to work with Mr. H.

No offense to Mr. H, but this was a tough decision. I had no idea how it would all work out if I left,  but was awfully certain that if I played the game right (and learned German…for another post), there was a clear path and it wasn’t shabby.***  The train stopped at West 4th and Cynthia Rowley got on and stood pretty much in front of me. My head still full of “what ifs”, I looked up and realized that someone who took a risk to do her own thing — that worked out! — was literally standing right in front of me.  Yes, she looked tired. (If only I knew how tired she probably was!) But she also looked settled in that way that people do when they have accomplished something they weren’t certain they could pull off.

I am not a big risk taker, but I am a big believer in Signs that are Convenient for Me and this one was too good to ignore. Standing right in front of me was the reason to do it. So I resigned, was terrified for a bit and then became quite calm about the whole affair.

Ten years later, Mr. H and I are both still alive, still married to each other and have had some amazing experiences that would have never been possible if I had remained on my previous path. (There were also many more stupid, agonizing and annoying experiences, but I think O would want me to stay positive here.) Which I guess brings me to a point that may seem trite and obvious, but is worth repeating anyway: Life never goes quite how you think it will,  so you may as well just try to steer it in the direction of happiness, even if you aren’t sure that you can pull it off. The odds are more in your favor than you think.

xx & one major “O”

* Sadly, I was headed back to the office after a doctor’s appointment, but still, just catching a little of that buzz was enough for the moment.

** Love her in the Liz Lemon way.

*** Unless you think Well-Paid Total Misery is a bad thing.

(Grainy photo: Some Cozy Night)

Winding Down

December 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

stockings

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

yum

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.

xx

(Photos: Mr. H and Some Cozy Night)

You Know What This One is About

November 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mr. H and I got to the beach early this morning and were able to get ourselves in decent shape for cooking Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. As I write this, I’ve got some squash roasting and we should have the stuffing and cranberry relish complete before our bedtime tonight. So I seem to have a little extra time tonight to reflect on the year so far and the notion of being “thankful”.

It isn’t hard to get down these days, which is why I like Thanksgiving. If you give it a moment, you can fill up on memories of happy times and the people — and dogs — that you love, and the world doesn’t seem so bad after all. Definitely a reason to be thankful. (Plus, you can eat stuffing!)

And then there are the Little Things, which you are probably sick to death of my going on about. But I am doing it anyway:  One of my favorites is the view outside my bedroom window…

 

It is a small view, but I find it extremely comforting on account of it being constant yet always changing. When I remember to pay attention, it is a perfect reminder of what has past, what is here and what is to come. And yes —  for this I am thankful.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

xx

 

(Photo: Some Cozy Night)

 

 

Everyday, Not Basic

October 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

As you know, I am a great lover of fashion with a capital “F”, and indulge in it far too regularly. But I often feel as if attention is paid most closely to Ready-to-Wear and Fast Fashion, and very little in between. But there are so many In Between options that are just fantastic: great style, beautiful details and good quality. Here are some of my favorites:

Nili Lotan’s store in East Hampton makes you want your entire wardrobe to consist of about ten things. It seems as if there is nothing in her small collections that can’t take you through your day and into the evening without being comfortable and stylish. (Unless, of course, you must wear a suit…Nili can’t exactly help you there.) Fantastic sweaters, cozy coats, simple but beautifully cut dresses and a well-edited selection of cotton shirts and pants. Did I mention the scarves? Terrific. (www.nililotan.com)

Vanessa Bruno’s ATHÉ line is filled with more comfortable yet cool pieces. My latest love: a poncho-styled sweater that has all the best parts of the poncho (like adorableness and a new look) and none of the bad (arm use, anyone?). And it must be said, her signature line is one of my top picks for easy summer dresses and other items of wearable coolness. (www.vanessabruno.com)

Well, I hadn’t darkened the door of Joseph since sometime in the nineties. And after a recent trip, I have to ask myself “WHY???”. The pants are well cut and won’t make you feel like you are wearing something “for the office”, even though you can totally wear them there. (And they often have coordinating jackets should you need them.) I think I may have purchased the sexiest pants I currently own there the other day. They don’t look like much on the hanger, but HELLO! when on! Love. (www.joseph.co.uk)

I will admit that there was a time when I thought Phillip Lim was not a contender, but those days are long gone. After five or so years, he has truly figured out his own direction that frequently creates Desire in my heart, without that nagging feeling of “when am I going to wear this” in my head. Super pants, lovely dresses and smart sweaters, including another great “hybrid poncho” in black and a super cool heather cream sweater with a chiffon overlay on the front (above) that mixes Sporty with Special perfectly. (www.31philliplim.com)

Who doesn’t want to look effortlessly beach-y, even in the colder months? I got hooked on James Perse through the t-shirts that are wonderfully soft and last a good, long time. (Yes, J. Crew, I am looking at you — and The Gap, too.) Everything on offer tends to be in those fantastic non-color colors that make putting together casual outfits pretty mindless. And you can pop a more tailored blazer over any of their t-shirts and drawstring pants and somehow look all CBK* without even really trying. (www.jamesperse.com)

So, I know Gwyneth Paltrow is Gooping Chinti & Parker up a storm lately. But I want to go on the record as saying I loved them first. I am presently deeply in love with their hoodies, and never don’t want to wear their other cashmere knits and cotton pants. (Which, btw, they could make more of…just thinking out loud.) The kind of clothes you can run an errand in and be all “don’t I look cool and comfy” while waiting on an endless line. (www.chintiandparker.com)

Before there were hipsters, there were Cool French People. And may CFP’s always be with us, since it will require that A.P.C. never goes out of business. In that mysterious French way, they make clothes that are alluring, hip and above all, wearable. There isn’t a season that goes by that I don’t pick up an item of two from their beautifully authentic collections. And did I mention that the stuff lasts forever? It does. (http://usonline.apc.fr/colorama/women)

And I think that is all I have for now. Happy shopping!

xx

*CBK: Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. I know I have mentioned her before, but really, even all this time later, her style was solid. And I am sorry that we didn’t get to see what was next for her.

(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!

xx

(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)

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