December 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
Hopefully you are nearing the end of all the prep work and almost ready to settle in for a little Holiday R&R. And if you aren’t, you probably need a break. So here are some movies that I can’t help but watch this time of year, often by myself, as they range from weird to sappy…
Desk Set, 1957
I love this movie. LOVE IT! Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey and The Electronic Brain (also known as EMERAC). It isn’t about the holidays, but enough of it takes place during that time of year so that it feels right. My favorite scene is the dinner at Hepburn’s apartment, which is completely cozy and strangely chic. And without this film, I would never be able to ask Mr. H “How do you like your chicken fried?” when we obviously can’t understand a word either of us are saying. (Just watch it and that will all make sense.) Adorable and fun. And you can refer to your computer as “The Electronic Brain” for at least 24 hours after viewing before people get annoyed with you.
Little Women, 1994 (A.K.A. “The One with Winona Ryder”)
What can I say? This one reeks of Christmas and Simpler Times and The Goodness of People — an explosion of horse-drawn coaches, kittens, quilts, snow and flowers. And Marmee is played by Susan Sarandon, who was pretty much The Best Marmee Ever. Have I mentioned that Christian Bale is in it? Yes, he is, which provides a decent enough distraction from Winona Ryder, who, let’s face it, tends to be flat. Then there is the Beth Death Scene, which is wonderfully sappy and leads perfectly into the happy ending. For the ladies, only, I think. And make sure you have a nice, soft hankie.
White Christmas, 1954
True, it makes no sense but it is cheery and has “Christmas” in the title. And I really love singing along when the girls do their “Sisters” number. I really do.
Rosemary’s Baby, 1968
I know what you are thinking: What?? Well, all I can say is that I love this movie and will take any excuse to watch it. Aside from the insanity of it all, I love the amazing apartment, every single Rosemary Woodhouse outfit and the fact that this appears to have been made in a serious manner without anyone thinking that the plot is completely nuts. Campy good fun.
When Harry Met Sally, 1989
You know why. And I believe it to be an American Classic.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
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:
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:
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.
* 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)
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.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
October 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
I was recently looking at my customized Seamless* homepage trying to decide which recent order I was going to reorder for lunch. As I scrolled down, I was kind of shocked to see that I use them almost every day. While it is a great service, I couldn’t help but put together that fact that ordering from them that frequently means that I almost never leave my office once I arrive there. I live in one of the greatest cities on earth and I spend most of my days in my (nicely appointed, but still) office. Dislike!
I also noticed that there are many nights when I have plans with girlfriends and find myself a little less than peppy at the set meeting time. While I am not a chronic canceler, I was curious to see if maybe I could make my day more chipper and be better company if I did something that I never thought I’d “do”: Lunch.
I started out with a friend who lives right around the block from my office. In all the years that I have known her, and all the years that she has lived up the block from my office, we have never met for lunch. So a few weeks ago, we went to nearby Lupa and had a lovely, lovely time. While it took more than the fifteen minutes it usually takes me to scarf down some weird vegan thing at my desk, I came back feeling so happy and refreshed that I actually think I may have been more productive overall.
The following week, I randomly called another girlfriend to see if she was free for a quick lunch. The stars aligned and we met at our usual nighttime hangout, Cafe Cluny**. Another fun meeting that didn’t blow my schedule out of the water and left me peppier in the afternoon.
Today, I took this morning’s copy of The Financial Times to lunch with me at Mercer Kitchen. Turns out that lunch with a newspaper leaves a little extra time for a bit of shopping and so I now have a new favorite lipstick to boot! And once again, I found myself able to hammer through some things with my General Counsel that I would never be up for in the latter half of the day.
Are you seeing a trend here? I certainly am.
I think it gets back to that fact that it really does not take a lot of time to have a little fun. And injecting some fun into the workweek is — if you can get past the guilt — a great way to keep yourself from getting The Blahs. So, until further notice, I consider myself not only a Lady Who Works, but also one that Lunches. (Except that I actually eat.) I suggest you try same.
*Seamless (seamless.com) is an online food delivery service that allows you to order from about a zillion places. So, in theory, you never have to leave your desk for lunch. Decide for yourself whether this is a good or bad thing.
**Great for making sure you are inexplicably dining next to a Vogue staffer. This actually keeps you from eating too much of their delicious cavatelli, to which I am thoroughly addicted.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night. And The Crosby is also great for lunch…and drinks…and dinner. So cute!)
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.
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)
February 24, 2012 § 2 Comments
Two weeks can go by rather quickly with magazines and books to read, delicious food to eat and all kinds of work things that require medicinal massages and cocktails. Yes, we leave tomorrow. And I always dislike leaving…
I guess the best way to look at it is not that we are Leaving, but that we are Coming Home. And home, where your friends, family, favorite hangouts and adorable freeloaders are waiting for you is most certainly a nice place to be.
(Photos of The Sea of Cortez at dusk and the boys on their favorite chair: Some Cozy Night)
February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
That’s right. Mr. H and I are off to our annual trip to Warmer Climes at “Nothing’s a Problem” resort. And the point of this post is not to make anyone feel bad about the weather and such. It is about showing you how I manage to go away for 14 days with one suitcase and a carryon that is also my “personal item”. (This comes up a lot with my friends who feel that I pack lightly, which I guess I do if you go by the size of my bags for any given trip.) We begin at the logical beginning…
This is a warm weather trip at a resort, so I’ll be in swimsuits and coverups during the day and nothing but dresses, dresses, dresses (13 in fact) for night. At least one hat, two or three pairs of shoes for night and a few for day are required, as are accessories, entertainment, cosmetics and unmentionables. I am comfortable repeating outfits poolside, but for some reason, I can’t do it at night. So, here is what I do instead:
Mandarina Duck. Not teeny, but not stupid big. It measures about 18 x 24 x 11 inches and my goodness, it holds a ton. I made my trip to Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux and back to Paris in April with this bag and was able to pack about 21 different outfits, including a evening coat with just this bag. It has something to do with the pockets. Amazing.
I begin by creating a spreadsheet that lists all the items of clothing that I am thinking of bringing and then making them into “travel”, “daytime” and “evening” outfits. This trip was pretty simple spreadsheet wise since the “repeats” were on a simple daytime rotation. Other trips require much more Excel time. However, I was able to pretty much get right to pulling clothes and wrapping them up for maximum space and safety in the suitcase. This is achieved as follows:
I try to put like things together…
These are the swimsuits. Seven of them, one of which I wear on the plane to avoid TSA mishaps and to make sure I have a swimsuit in case my luggage gets lost.
Coverups, which include several cotton dresses from one of my favorite new labels for daytime: Chinti & Parker. They make such comfy, interesting, well-made casual wear. Love them. (Available at Net-a-Porter.)
And at the request of my pilates instructor, some activewear. A set of three with my adorable Stella McCartney for adidas sneaks and my favorite pants from Ion Actif (www.ionactif.com for “stockists” as the English like to say). I will use the hotel’s laundry service to ensure that I get six workouts in while away. I swear.
And the evening dresses. Not all of them are very dressy, since some nights will be more casual. Still I group them together and fold them with tissue to minimize creases. (I don’t care as much about slightly crinkled daytime stuff since the fabrics tend to un-crinkle quickly.)
2) Fold, Wrap and Bag
I like to wrap groupings of clothes in an outer layer of tissue and then put them in dry cleaner plastic. Those little bags your “soft and cuddly” sweaters come in are really perfect for this job:
You get the idea. And here is how I do the evening dresses:
Fold with tissue around, then fold it up…
3) Accessories and Hard Choices
I have small feet, so it is easier for me to fit several pairs of shoes into a suitcase, but even I have to make choices on these items as well as bags, jewelry, sunnies and the like. Here is what I narrowed it down to:
The belts and cuff are put into the printed hat to help keep its shape while in the suitcase. And see that giant tote in the back? That is my carry on, which will hold all of my electronics, medications, travel docs, wallet, two magazines, that straw hat and my jewelry box. Everything else gets put into the bottom and sides of the main part of the suitcase:
It fits! Including three late additions:
4) Magazines go in the biggest front pocket.
And there are a lot of them! I need to keep busy doing nothing:
But they fit!
5) Cosmetics: Less is More
I take the essentials and as little makeup as possible. Still essentials add up, but I’ll be darned if all the Not OK in the cabin stuff also makes it into the bag:
6) The Carry On/ One Personal Item
It is big, but is will have everything I need in-flight and all my medications and things I can’t leave in my bag. Once at the resort, I use it as my poolside bag. We are very happy together. (And need I mention that the strap was recently expertly repaired by The Leather Spa??)
7) Travel Outfit
I am lucking out a tad since the weather won’t be so bad in the morning, but I also plan on being slightly cold on my way to the airport. Still better than lugging a coat. The scarf and summer sweater will be fine…
(See, I told you I like hearts. And I am still wearing those bright pink flats from last spring. That said, brights still seem to be A Thing this year. And no, I haven’t deluded myself into thinking I am Jennifer Aniston. The hat will go in the bag until I am officially in Warmer Climes.)
8) There is no “8”, so “Yay!”
(Photos of My Insanity: Some Cozy Night)
February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
My favorite holiday is here!! So, Happy Valentine’s to you.
And remember that in addition to the fact that it does not take a lot of time to have a little fun, it does not take a lot of time to tell the ones you love that it is so. So, be sure that you do.
(Photos of one of my favorite destinations for Valentine’s Day — or any other day for that matter: Some Cozy Night)
February 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’ve been a sucker for Valentine’s Day since I was a little girl. All those reds and pinks in crepe and construction paper, the doilies and twinkle lights are just too hard to resist. And there is just something about hearts that always makes me smile, even when paired with the cheesy cupid cutout. So, for just about forever (particularly bad breakups excluded), I have loved this holiday.
New York usually loves it too, but when I was trying to find windows that filled me with that special “Valentine” feeling, I came up somewhat short. I did find one that was close enough, at a children’s store of all places (it’s my neighborhood…we just can’t help ourselves):
I think that big heart is sufficiently over the top. Perhaps the store’s proprietor also digs the holiday.
This is also the time to be over the top by making Valentines, another activity that I adore. Way before I knew that Paul and Julia Child prided themselves on their annual Valentines, I’ve been making my own, mostly for Mr. H. And if I had more time, I’d probably make them for many more recipients. I highly recommend it, provided that you really let it rip.
If making Valentines is not your thing but you want to get into the spirit of the holiday, may I suggest something as simple as sending someone you love some of your favorite love songs? I’m not suggesting “Annie’s Song”* or anything, but there are plenty that fall into the cool, retro and classic categories that will do the job. Off the top of my head, I would have to say that these three are the most romantic I can think of…
“Number 1” by Goldfrapp (yeah…the video is weird) http://www.goldfrapp.com/video/
Retro (and Cool)
“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure
“Moon River” written by Henry Mancini and sung Andy Williams (even Big thought so)
And they are all available on iTunes if you feel like sending your sweetie a little something sweet.
*Not that there is anything wrong with this John Denver classic. I know that I cannot be the only grade school girl who imagined herself walking down the aisle to that tune. It’s ok. You can keep that to yourself.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
February 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
This afternoon I received the wonderful news that a friend of mine was about to have her baby. This cheered me immensely and within thirty minutes or so, I noticed that I had been singing Sheena Easton’s “My Baby Takes the Morning Train” since I had heard the news. The song is still playing in my head and my friend’s little boy is now happily on the earth. (Her husband has even had time to post his first pic on Twitter and Facebook. So, this tune has been in here for quite some time.)
I began to fear that I may be celebrating this child’s first birthday before this tune in my head abates, until I remembered that this is not the first time an event produced this situation: Whenever Mr. H and I order take-out (which is not infrequent), as soon as I hear the doorbell ring, Kool & The Gang’s “Ladies Night” begins in my head. I guess there is some node in my brain that has decided that it is the celebratory song for the good times that only take-out can create. Or it is a blood sugar thing. Or I am the Real Life Liz Lemon. Who really knows?
Regardless, it got me thinking: Do we all have little theme songs for the daily and special events in our lives that we aren’t super-aware of until we find ourselves singing them out loud? If we began trying to recognize them, would we go mad? Again, this probably gets filed under “Who Knows?” and “Don’t Go There”, but it is possible that I already have. If you care to share, I am all ears.
(Brushes Painting: Some Cozy Night)