Holiday Wisdom

December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

sowise

Well, we are nearing the Finish Line for The Holidays. And while I wish I would have actually made some latkes and jelly donuts this week, I think that I may just buy some and enjoy them before the week is out.*  That was a little bit of Holiday Wisdom that has served me well these last few weeks: Do it up, but be reasonable and don’t cut out the fun. 

As such, even though it has been super busy, I have managed to go ice skating in Central Park with Mr. H and two good friends, have seen or plan to see other friends for a number of pre-holiday dinners and will be decorating a (pre-assembled) gingerbread house with my God Daughter this weekend. Even our company Holiday Party is something I am looking forward to this year. (Many thanks to my So On It, It Hurts colleague who has arranged a fabulous one.)

More Holiday Wisdom: Planning is next to Godliness. My gift spreadsheet worked like a charm and now all but one gift is ready for giving or have already been shipped out. I must say, this year’s Paper Mojo crop was my favorite to date:

pretty

lovethese

For the record, I am now dying to do a powder room in prints like these…we’ll save that for 2013, I suppose.

And planning isn’t just for Gift Management. Getting the Christmas Day Menu in place and ordering as much of the food that is required for said meal ahead of time is extremely important. For the menu, I turn to new and old faithfuls:

prepprepprep

I know people have funny feelings about Joy, but I find it to be very handy, especially for Straight Up things. And as I have said before, there is nothing in an Ina Garten cookbook that doesn’t turn out perfectly, and Alice Waters is Alice Waters. So, with the help of these three books, I have planned a festive meal that has tons to make ahead and very little that you can mess up. Festive but Foolproof: another key to Happier Holidays.

And to make sure things stay festive throughout our week off, I’ve also ordered all the goodies needed for New Year’s Eve and the days in between. Reservations at our favorite places by the beach have been secured and I have a rather massive reading and watching list to get through. I am also hoping to get to the new and undisputed massive new Parrish Museum. (http://www.parrishart.org) The building alone is should make it intriguing enough, but the exhibitions could be promising as well…we shall see.

And that is probably the final bit of Holiday Wisdom I have for this evening: Plans should go with the flow. This isn’t a military operation, it is meant to be fun, so if things get a little off course, no biggie. You’ve done the work, now is the time to just enjoy.

xx

* In fact, I just ordered the latkes with the fixings from Russ & Daughters…now we just need the donuts. And yes, I am not  actually Jewish, but I still like Chanukah and any reason to celebrate.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

“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.

xx

(Photo: Some Cozy Night)

No Pressure, But… (Holiday Edition)

November 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again: The Holidays.

You will probably remember that I am not a fan on account of all the rushing and general insanity this time of year brings. But I have made a little promise to myself not to be so Grinch-y this year.

Sadly, that does not exonerate me from the planning and prep, which does make the actual events of the season go much more smoothly. And since things can get so hectic at year end, I get started early to avoid finding myself In The Soup. So, in order to discourage you from getting into The Soup yourselves, here are some of the things I rely on quite heavily this time of year:

Wrapping

Paper Mojo (www.papermojo.com)

These folks have the most lovely gift wrap, available by the sheet, so that you don’t have to commit too heavily to one or two styles. And as an added bonus, you don’t have to wrangle those long rolls of paper, which is one of my least favorite things to do.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I don’t really do “holiday” themed wrapping — I just try to put interesting combinations together that hopefully feel delightful. This year I went gaga over PM’s Chiyogami and Katazome papers, and wound up doing a larger selection than usual. But I could not help myself and I honestly can’t wait to see them all.

One King’s Lane (onekingslane.com)

They regularly have gift wrap available  and if you free yourself from the need to have specific holiday-themed papers, you can purchase it whenever, and use it now and later. Their prices are pretty good as well, which makes wrapping larger gifts feel less painful. Order early as they take time to ship.

Kate’s Paperie (www.katespaperie.com)

Oh, yes. They have been around forever and while I can’t go into the store without some kind of beta blocker, I find their house brand of ribbon to be perfect for almost anything. So, I heavy up this time of year and use leftovers until I run out. Order online to keep the insanity level low.

Dempsey & Carroll (http://www.dempseyandcarroll.com)

Here’s the thing about Dempsey & Carroll: If you look hard enough, you will find things that are well made but aren’t trying too hard. Since my wrapping will be on the effusive side this year, I just purchased enough of their cream colored gift cards for slipping under the ribbon of each package. It is just enough space to put a little something sweet without having to go on forever. Because let’s face it: People want to open the gift. And a long card feels like all those trailers you need to watch before the movie.

Gifting

Our company gift and recipient list is all taken care of by October. But that still leaves me with around forty — yes, forty…4-0* — gifts to buy for family, friends, colleagues and all the wonderful people who do so much for us year round. Need I say I use a fierce little spreadsheet to track it all? I do. It eliminates confusion and puts the attention back on the gifts themselves, which is more fun.

For hostess gifts and other smaller tokens,  I always opt for something a little luxurious or totally delicious. A fabulous nail polish (Chanel, Tom Ford, YSL), fresh yummy baked goods,  mini Diptyque candles…stuff I buy to treat myself that I think others will also enjoy.  You can find these things at the usual places, but that does not mean I don’t like a good deal, so I also like One King’s Lane for some of these items. And I really can’t tell you how much people love things from Zingerman’s (https://www.zingermans.com). I do, too. So I guess it all makes sense. Oh, and did you know that Russ and Daughters ships?? They do. So I do, too. (http://russanddaughters.com)

As for the children in our life, I love The Land of Nod (landofnod.com). With careful digging, one can find really great things that seem to go over quite well with the Wee Folk. I always try to include an art project or two for children that will be home for the holiday break. I figure that leaves one less activity that their parents need to plan, and it doesn’t create as much long-term clutter.

More personal gifts for good friends and family are always harder, but I do think that experiences (concert or show tickets, dinners to a new or favorite place) are always nice presents for people who have all the sweaters, pjs and electronics that they need. I’ve also had great luck online with 1st Dibs (1stdibs.com), Net-A-Porter (just add the “.com”), Ruby Lane (yeah…add that “.com” again), Paul Smith (www.paulsmith.com) and Design Within Reach (dwr.com). And nothing beats taking a little time to go hunting for that perfect thing in some well-known or off the beaten path place. You know the drill.

Still, my absolute favorite gift to give and receive is one that takes the pressure off: A commitment to spend time together after the holidays. I do this with one of my dearest friends — usually spa and lunch. It gives us time to catch up and unwind. What better present for a Bestie?

Decking

If you don’t have time to mess with assembling your own greenery and the like, White Flower Farm (www.whiteflowerfarm.com) does a bang up job with pre-assembled boughs and wreaths. L.L. Bean is also an able contender in this category. (www.llbean.com) I try to keep things simple, so I just fill the place with paperwhites, amaryllis, and the usual greenery. And this year I am trying something new: battery powered lights from Restoration Hardware. You can use them for covered outdoor areas and I am hoping they will eliminate the need for the troublesome cord that always hangs down the table where we keep our little tree** in the city. Fingers crossed and full report TK.

Making Merry

I don’t host every holiday, but for the ones that I am responsible for I do try my best to follow The Ina (Garten) Principle: Keep it simple and delicious. Honestly, there is not one cookbook of hers that I do not love — the recipes always work and are not hard at all. That said, I have evolved into a pretty good Just Cook What Looks Good kind of person, so that is generally what I do. This year we are hosting Thanksgiving, so the menu will consist of whatever arrives my CSA box (yes, it includes a turkey), fresh cranberry sauce and Classic Joy of Cooking Stuffing. Oh, and Ginger Cake from Zingerman’s (I really hate baking) and some good wine of Mr. H’s selection. Pinot and Turkey? Maybe a Zin? We shall see…

For pre- and post-holiday visitors, I like to do cozy things like fresh pasta with bolognese, braised short rib and roasted vegetables and maybe a baked fruit of some kind. Easy but not Everyday. And do not forget the power of the Cheese and Charcuterie Plate!! Or the festive feeling that sparkling wine and a little canapé tray can lend to any occasion.

Savoring

This is a major Development Area for me. Work is nuts, there is the added pressure of the above AND the need to feel like This Is The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, even though you are exhausted, possible cold, and probably (if you are me) cranky.

All that said, I am going to make a real effort to appreciate the decking, make time to Make Merry and to take care of myself (early to bed when I can, keeping up with cardio and pilates, and eating a cookie now and again) as a gift to myself. Care to join me?

xx

* We’ve been over this, right? Forget The Godfather, almost all the answers to life’s questions are answered in All About Eve.

** I cannot extol the virtues of the Table Tree enough. I used to do giant trees, which always resulted in a foul mood on my part.  But with the Table Tree, in under an hour I get the same effect and no dogs snooping around the presents or drinking tree water. Like!

(Photo of a bit of 2011’s Wrap-Mania: Some Cozy Night)

Lightening Up

August 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Oh, we are really in worst of summer right now, yes? In New York it generally feels like one is stepping inside of a mouth. Also, unless you are out of the city, it smells. Really.

All of this makes finding the right fragrance extremely important. Personally, I want something light, but not so light that I am not protected from the odors I run into around town. My two favorites for this time of year these lovelies:

As you can see, I am extremely fond of Balanciaga’s fragrance. It is pretty without being too sweet, if that makes any sense. And for those of you who did not know that you can also blow some money at Diptyque on things other than (the World’s Best) candles, their Do Son fragrance is a touch more masculine, but totally fresh and cool.

I also find that by this time of year I have almost no patience for makeup. So in addition to my Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer and brow gel, I just barely get on a smear of Nars cream shadow in Lido and a little blush in Deep Throat. (I don’t name them…but I can’t resist them.) Oh, and a bit of mascara so that I look like I tried.

Other Hot Weather Concessions:

1) Flat sandals. Currently digging those from K. Jaques…very Rosemary Woodhouse.

2) The Bun. Seriously, I can’t deal with my hair right now.

3) Jill Platner’s teeny silver and gold “Baby” studs. Although they are hardly a concession — their super-small size just feels the right amount of light and airy. (http://jillplatner.com/store/item/E-0517)

4) My Mood. Yes, I am grumpier than usual when the weather is like this, so I just try to accept it but try to not go completely berserk on anyone.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Making Lemonade

June 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

So, this has been an awfully nutty week for me, complete with workmen washing my house facade with acid — yes, acid — and a flood that resulted in Mr. H and I ripping up wet wall-to-wall carpet and having other workmen basically tear out a bunch of ceiling and wall matter and then setting up NINE fans and dehumidifiers to dry it all out.

It was clear to us both that the logical thing to do was get ourselves to the beach last night, which we did. And then we woke up to this:

Lovely weather, right? Just the kind of day where you should be lunching at your favorite outdoor spot and taking your ungrateful terriers for a nice, long walk. Except that we are behind and need to work. So, instead of blue skies today, I get to spend the day pounding away on my keyboard:

I could be glum, but am trying not to be. I am out of the city and there is no reason why I shouldn’t enjoy the general pleasantness as much as I can. So, before I plopped myself in front of the computer, I ran outside and cut some flowers…some wild, some not…

And every time I look up from my work, I can enjoy a little bit of what is waiting for me outside when I am done. If I am ever done.

Here’s hoping!

xx

 

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

 

Keeping My Word

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Prior to arriving at my vacation destination, I requested — at the request of my pilates instructor — that a yoga mat be placed in my room. Naturally, an awfully adorable one was there on arrival:

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Oddly enough, I have found that going to the fitness center here has been more fun and productive than going it alone in my room. Perhaps the view on my way back has something to do with it…

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Regardless, I am pleased to report that I am on track with planned Fitness Activities, which I think bodes well for my return. Apparently, it also does not take a lot of time to have a little fitness, either.

xx

P.S.
The Yoga mat is from Gold’s Gym. And I am still not athletic, in case you were wondering.

P.P.S.
What is with people who talk on the phone all day while they are sitting next to their traveling companion, poolside, on “vacation”??

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

My Sin

January 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

OK…the title is a tad dramatic. But Mr. H was just in my office trying to help me with my printer. Turns out you not only need to plug the printer into the outlet but also into the computer. I don’t recall doing this the last time I hooked the sucker up, but apparently I did…or it was done for me. Who knows, really.

ANYWAY, over the course of diagnosing my printer problem, Mr. H asked if I had “the cable”. And I replied that I had a whole drawer full of cables right in my (seemingly) organized credenza:

I am rather meticulous when it comes to keeping that travertine top free and clear of the junk that accumulates while living. And yet, I was confronted with this grim reality when I showed Mr. H my “cable drawer”:

Seeing the contents of the credenza through his eyes filled me with the same feeling I get upon seeing my uncovered and out-of-shape upper arm in a photo: horror and disgust.

So, I have decided that right after I finish sharing My Sin with you all, I will clean out the darn thing. It is the beginning of the year after all — the perfect time to take care of such matters. Maybe I’ll do a few triceps exercises, too.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night, who is leaving the internet now to clean up that mess.)

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