Since Somebody Asked: Comfy Shoe Edition

October 24, 2013 § 2 Comments

Oh, New York is a horrible place to have feet. You have to walk everywhere and if you feel, as I do, that dressing nicely gives your day A Lift, the shoe thing is a Thing. So, since a good friend of mine asked me what I like for comfortable but stylish shoes that actually let you to walk — especially in the cold — I thought I would share some of the highlights with you. Here we go!

Fantastic but comfortable shoes are NOT a myth. (“Volumizing” mascara is though, I think.) So here is my list of favorite kinds of comfortable shoes to wear when I am not yet in full-on winter boots, but cannot get by thermally-speaking in a ballet flat:

The classic gucci loafer, which is worth the expense because they go well with so many things and really never change all that much. I like them in suede year-round to keep them looking relaxed and fashionable.

http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/329891

A lace-up. I swore a few years ago that I would not wear them, but that black patent pair (https://somecozynight.com/2012/10/16/am-i-really-wearing-these/), and the nude and gray leather ones that followed are all up-to-date and make more conservative outfits feel fresh. Ex: I have this black crepe dress with a kind of boat-neck collar, that hits nicely above the knee. While most women who own this dress probably think heels are what is called for, I love them with the patent lace-ups and tights because it takes the whole look down a level. And, someone did ask to take my photo once last spring when I was wearing said combo. (But I was also with the dogs, so maybe it was them and not the cool outfit…) This week, I walked from 98th and West End Avenue to 70th and Amsterdam in said shoes and aside from my knee bugging me, my feet were fine!

Go for it! There’s lots to choose from:

http://www.barneys.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-BNY-Site/default/Product-Show?pid=502765760&cgid=womens-flats-lace-ups&index=4

Smoking Slipper. So chic. So comfortable. I LOVE my blue velvet ones in the winter and have a great pair of light gray suede for every season but winter. These are also great with dresses, but totally fab with pants…and everything else for that matter.

Just pick a pair:

http://www.net-a-porter.com/Shop/Shoes/Flat_Shoes?topnav=undefined&level3Filter=Slippers&pn=1&npp=60&image_view=product&dScroll=0&excludeFilters=false

I have also determined that finding the shoe maker that seems to work for your foot best allows you to wear 2 – 3 inch heels without too much of an issue. That said, for walking, pumps are a troubled category unless it is more of a bootie or has some kind of strap or detailing in the front that keeps the foot in the shoe. Or, for non-winter, slingbacks (sexy ones) are perfect. And I wear them to death provided that it is somewhere between 80 and 60 degrees.

Happy walking!

xx

I’m Totally Not a Runner, But…

August 14, 2013 § 2 Comments

really?

Let me begin by saying that, like camping (which I do not do), I never imagined that I would take up running. In fact, very much like camping, I did not believe in running — for myself at least. And I was pretty certain that all the weekend runners I’d seen by the beach were people who were just so sick of Family Togetherness Time that they decided to take up the activity to get out of the house.

And yet, one day last summer, out of some odd fit of curiosity and maybe boredom, I decided to see what this running stuff was all about by going for a jog around town. And by “jog” I mean 45 minutes of absolute terror at the prospect of being hit by a car, bike, or other, more serious runners, and “adjusting my headphones” whenever I felt like I might have a heart attack.

There was no more jogging for some time.

Then came the holidays and one afternoon at the gym, I hopped on the treadmill. And I did it again the next time, and the time after that — which happened to be “Where I Was” when I learned that Kim Kardashian was expecting Kanye West’s baby, in case you were wondering. That time was also the day that I finally understood why this activity is so popular: The Runner’s High. Heavens…it is good. Yes, you are crazy*, but you feel GREAT and want to have that feeling again. As soon as possible. And after a few more sessions it became clear that running allows me to compete against myself — which I find to be awfully irresistible. So this is how I started becoming something I never thought I would be: A Runner.**

The running continued through the spring. And after my Doctor was rather emphatic about my shoes being “my gear” and only the proper gear (not “cool” gear but “proper” gear…he was very clear on that one) would keep me from ruining my knees and ankles, I had myself fit for running shoes at Jack Rabbit (http://jackrabbitsports.com).

Like Fun Shoe Shopping, they had LOTS of options…

finallynormal

Alas, when Running Shoe Shopping, concepts like comfort and suitability seem to come up quite a bit. As does pronation.*** So after the kind people at Jack Rabbit recorded me running in a few pairs of shoes, it was determined that I had a neutral pronation and that Blakes, New Balance and Mizuno were my best options. And so I spent more time thinking about how comfortable I felt in each of these options — a truly foreign concept for me when it comes to shoes — and finally determined that this pair was My Gear:

iamnowarunner

They are Mizunos and, as intsructed by my Doctor, I purchased two pair so that I could alternate between runs. And what can I say, except that I love them. And running, it seems.

Go figure. And never rule out trying something new — except camping.

xx

* I realized I was experiencing a high when I began thinking that I should totally start a charity. For what, I have no idea. It was the endorphins or something.

** Or at least a tentative one. And camping is still absolutely out of the question.

*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pronation_of_the_foot

(Photos: Some Cozy Night. And for the record, not every establishment in Brooklyn is required to have a chalkboard sign outside. It just feels that way.)

It Gets Worse and It Gets Better…

August 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

So, this was a rather crap week for me, but in all fairness, I must make note of the following things:

– We are having some seriously lovely weather this week

– Mr. H, my other family members & fantastic friends (also family to me) are always on my side*

– I scored some Goldfrapp tickets for their show in September (http://goldfrapp.com/live/),

– I CANNOT WAIT to watch my excellent and cheery Nephew devour his 2nd Birthday Cake this weekend, and

– A-Dog never ceases to be adorably odd:

ADog_Office

So, as I always like to tell myself, when things are feeling all wrong, try to remember how much is really quite fine.

xx

* Except when I suggest to Mr. H that we get a small monkey. Can’t blame the man, though.

(Photo of A-Dog looking out a glass pane into the rest of the office: Mr. H. Any chance he’ll learn to code?)

The Sunday Ritual

July 21, 2013 § 2 Comments

whyfightit

I grew up in a rather traditional Italian-American family (surprise!), where Sundays were kind of a big deal. Every week, tomato sauce, meatballs, sausages and other delicious things were prepped before my last Lucky Charm was eaten. And my Grandparents always came over for Sunday Dinner, which was often eaten in the middle of the afternoon and kind of stretched out until the early evening. That was “Sunday” to me. I never questioned it. It was just how it was and it was pretty nice.

When I went to college, there was no “Sunday Dinner” so-to-speak. But I did notice that early in my freshman year, my then-boyfriend and I always went to a very late lunch (seriously, like 3pm) at the same Chinese restaurant every Sunday, where I ordered the same exact thing, week after week, pretty much until we broke up. I suppose I had replaced one Sunday ritual with another.

Once out of college and living on my own, I found myself inviting my friends over for dinners on Sundays, rationalizing that if we didn’t get together, we were essentially tossing away part of our weekends. Another ritual. But that one was hard to sustain on account of Life Events, and everyone eventually becoming too busy to make it stick. And honestly, I didn’t feel like I’d “lost” anything. This was life and things change. Right?

But this past winter I was at a dinner party being thrown by a fellow Italian-American woman and as the evening went on, I was surprised to find myself confessing to her that I actually missed those more special Sundays. And her reply was simple: “You just have to make new rituals.”

Hmmm…that sounded too easy. And while I haven’t yet figured out how to create a Sunday of my childhood, I have noticed that Mr. H and I do have a few Sunday rituals which vary, but still count. One of these is lunch or an early dinner at Almond, which has an outpost by our house at the beach.

almondjoy

There is always a warm welcome to be had here, as well as a delicious mac-and-cheese and something called the B.A.L.T., which is a BLT with avocado and some kind of heavenly spread to which I am thoroughly addicted. They also have that fabulous Scalamandre Zebra wallpaper that I adore, but have nowhere to use…

zebras

There is also the Sunday Flower Run which not only keeps the house cheery during the workweek, but can also result in an excellent education in the various varieties and care of the things we pick. (The Watering Orchids session was one of the most useful in my Floral Life.)

bhflowers

And when we are in the city, trips to Larder to make sure we have a treat or two to help us through the week is a pretty regular thing…

joinus

As are walks with A+O,  especially when we are at the beach, where things are a little slower and we can take it all in…

longstretch

And watch A-dog flip out over the horses…

Thehorsedoes notcare

And O-dog judge the quality of the plantings…

inspectorO

And then there are days when I simply crave the scent of garlic, tomato and basil in the house. Those are the days, like this one, that I pull myself off the sofa and just make a simple tomato sauce with some pasta and call it a Sunday. Sometimes those are the best rituals of all.

xx

(Photos, including one of this evening’s early pasta dinner: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H)

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.)

justimaginemaryandmatthew

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

entrytobluebells

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!

everywhere

swimminginbluebells

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…

postbluebells

peacefulwith rrain

photo

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.

2013-05-07 18.36.35

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

thehousethehouse

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

humansponiesorcows

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…

lookoutside

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…

photo copy 4

grayscourtcows

photo copy

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…

photo copy 5

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)

Chicken Soup to Get Over It, Already

April 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

OK, dear friends. Sorry for the rant last night. I am feeling better today and was reminded that good friends and family, along with a good night’s sleep, can make almost anything manageable. Also something that makes things more manageable is a good base for chicken soup: homemade stock. I know. Everyone says it and I am always like “I have a life to live”, but it is true, good stock makes for delicious everything.

photo

A couple of weeks ago, it felt like one of those days where you should be roasting a chicken. And so I did. It isn’t hard once you’ve browned the skin and turned the bird onto its back (that is a pain in the a**), and it certainly makes you feel like you have one of those very Domestic Goddess lives.

After a delicious dinner, I found myself with the remains of a chicken that was kind of begging to be used. So, I cleaned off as much meat as I could (and froze it for more Goop salads) and then put the carcass in a big stock pot with the usual suspects: water, an onion, some bay leaves, celery stalks, carrots, salt and pepper. And then added one ringer ingredient courtesy of Jean-Georges: a few whole cloves. I cannot tell you what a difference this makes, provided that you use it sparingly — we aren’t making a pie here. After a few hours of simmering, I ran it though my chinois* and was done. Eight cups of liquid bliss waiting to be used for days when you need a little extra something to manage it all. Like!!

xx

(Photo: Mr. H)

* You need one of these. Not only do they make you feel like a pro in the kitchen, they are essential in getting something clear without a lot of hoo-ha: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinoise

Spring Lineup: Maintenance Edition

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

As we all know, it is technically spring. I know this not because of the weather — it snowed again this morning — but because Mr. H and I were invited to a Yankees game next week. Upon accepting this excellent invitation, I realized that I need to get up to speed on their roster this year. And this reminded me that it might be a good time to share the newest additions to my lineup this season:

butter

Butter’s “Pink Ribbon” nail polish. Truth be told, I am finding many of my go-to brands of polish to have less shine and longevity of late. (I do not know why.) I’d read nice things about the Butter line, so when I found a shade that didn’t emulate the Pez palette, I gave it a whirl. Excellent coverage, quick-ish dry time and so far, the longevity has been good. We shall see what the rest of the week brings, but for now, I say “like”! (http://www.butterlondon.com/lacquers/3-free-lacquers/pink-ribbon)

kateisgreat

Kate Somerville’s Micro Glycolic Polisher I didn’t think it was possible to have skin even more dry and sensitive than mine was already, but this winter’s weather had upped the ante. While my Rodin oil has been keeping things well-hydrated in this hostile climate, I can’t seem to use even the gentlest of scrubs for exfoliation without feeling irritated. Enter Kate Somerville’s polisher. A few pumps is all I’ve been using once a week for a couple of months now. And I have to say that the results are far better than any scrub I’ve ever used: Soft, even and really clean. In my mind, all the product I put on after the polisher (Sonya Dakar’s Cellular Patch Cream, Visual Lift and Retinol Serum, followed by a vigorous massage with a few drops of the wonder oil*) absorbs more quickly and works more effectively after I’ve “polished”. That part may be in my mind, but the rest is not. This stuff is just great. (http://www.katesomerville.com/micro-glycolic-polisher/)

And that is all I have this evening. Enjoy!

xx

* Yes, I need them ALL, plus sunscreen. And a good brow shaping every couple of weeks. And a facial every six weeks or so. And a little makeup each day to look alive. This is how it goes in ones’ forties.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Re-Entry: A Week’s Worth of Coping

February 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Happy Thursday! I’ve been back home for almost a week now and I must say, things have been not too shabby.* As always, a combination of planning and being open to whatever has been key.

On the planning front, I made sure that the house was in Ready Mode when we arrived with a stocked fridge c/o Fresh Direct and some lovely flowers from Emily Thompson (http://www.emilythompsonflowers.com/):

goodmorning

There is also the matter of making sure that my agenda for the return week was set to a certain degree. Before I left, I divided my “Work”, “Home” and “Personal” To Do lists into “Before You Leave” and “Upon Return” segments. I’ll spare you the contents, as many things were as mundane as “order diverter for shower” and “complete the E&O Insurance Application”, but every list feels better when you have it in something pretty. I count my blue diary with refillable inserts among one of those things, even if the checkbook sticks out:

gettingitdone

And in the diary, I reminded myself to schedule some fun and some maintenance. So, brows and facial this afternoon with the lovely Robin Evans who keeps me from looking like a teenage George Whipple (http://robinevansskincare.com/) and dinner at The Modern (http://themodernnyc.com/) last night, with a wonderful view of one of my very favorite gardens in the city…


MoMA

Nothing like this kind of view to make you feel less glum about leaving the sparkle of the sea and unlimited amounts of guacamole. Also, the wine and painstakingly prepared and served food helped.

And this evening, dinner with a Bestie — just us girls — as the most excellent 606 R&D (https://somecozynight.com/2012/06/12/cool-places-606-rd/). Donuts may be consumed, so I was good and had some steamed broccoli for lunch.

As for the unexpected, I managed to unpack on Saturday (this almost never happens to me), leaving me with a free Sunday. So, I decided to head uptown to buy some hankies for the upcoming and dreaded allergy season. In addition to discovering that the watch repair place was open (ON A SUNDAY!!), I also happened upon the last few boxes of my absolute favorite plain note cards by G. Lalo. I am a great fan of the handwritten note and these could not be more stylish…


three

They are still on my dressing table because the boxes make me happy. I will put them away, but not until a trip to Ladurée occurs, I think. Macarons are immensely cheering, no?

The weekend will be at the beach, where large amounts of working out will hopefully occur, as will the consumption of a fabulous Saturday lunch c/o Topping Rose House (http://www.toppingrosehouse.com/), one of the best additions to our little town out there.

And that is about all I have for now, except to say that I have more to say about the Fall Collections, but for now, I will leave it at this: Is it me, or was there WAY too much fur?? (For me, “none”, is best.)

xx

*Except for my inability to rise at a decent hour to work out or meditate. Hoping to re-set on that one this weekend.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

 

Waste Not, Want Not

February 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Or something like that. After the flower-cade from last Saturday, some of the more delicate flowers in the arrangements were a tad past their prime by Wednesday. But I make it a point to never toss out the good with the bad, so I set to work tidying them up and making new arrangements with the material that was in fine form.*

magnolia

Originally from the Out-of-a-Dutch-Still-Life arrangement in the dining room, some of the magnolia branches add a perfect bit of  color in my rather monochromatic bedroom.

tulips

Tulips from everywhere found a place to be all swoon-y in the library…as did some anemones and ranunculus…

just

And I never forget the bathroom, which always benefits from a little floral matter. This time, I took some smaller magnolia branches and used them as support for some other tulips…

simple

Happily, these have kept the place cheery during our nutty week that is now meant to end with some serious snow — and hopefully a flight out to our Nothing-is-a-Problem Hideaway on Sunday. Fingers crossed and keep cozy!

roar

xx

*This also works well with arrangements you might not like, or are too big. When you spy a juice glass or teeny cup at a tag sale or in your basement from who-knows-when, think about the possibilities.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H)

Breakfast, Better

January 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

L1010144

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)

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