June 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
This post is a small tribute to Marjorie Hillis, former Vogue editor and author of several excellent books of her day, including Live Alone and Like It, Orchids on Your Budget and a number of delightful others. While a few of the titles have been re-issued, I prefer the originals from the 30’s and 40’s, which are easily found on Alibris and other vintage book sites and shops. They are completely charming and rather radical for their time. They are also hilarious.
Ms Hillis was a writer with an intoxicating combination of chic and practicality. Sort of a Dorothy Draper of Living. (In one of her books, she asks her readers to think about whether or not they can “afford a husband”. Ha!!) Given the times she was living in, when women were supposed to be attached and raising children, her’s was a novel idea: be single, be married, whatever you decide, just make sure that you are happy and confident in your choices. Oh, and don’t be a schlub.
So, why all this chit-chat about Ms Hills, the married lady who happened to write about being a single woman waaay before the idea of “Carrie Bradshaw” could have been imagined? Well…for the last several days and for the next few as well, I am on my own at the beach. Mr. H is in the city working on finishing up a major project, and I am here for the sole purpose of having a new dishwasher installed at the house. (I know, it’s all glamour, glamour, glamour with me.) I am also working remotely on said Big Project, but still, I am on my own. And it is reminding me of all the truly wise things Marjorie has to say about living on your own. One of them is that you should always eat your meals at a properly set table — or tray — even when you are alone. No “Soup for One” in Hillis-land!
And so I have been making an effort to do so, including setting the table for myself and choosing some new music to take in while “dining”. I’ve also made sure that I have entertainment between reading copy and approving things, fresh flowers all over the house, and have even gone so far as to make sure that I look less than insane when leaving the house for grocery shopping and dog walks. And I must tell you, it makes the whole Being on My Own much nicer than if I were just kind of being a Sad Girl. A lesson for us all, I think. Even if you aren’t a person who loves their solitude, Living Alone and Liking It is completely achievable.*
* And yes, I still miss Mr. H
(Photo of this evening’s dinner: Some Cozy Night)
January 18, 2013 § Leave a comment
Hello there. So this week was a doozy, and next week stands to be equally “stimulating”, so to keep things light, I thought I would give you all some updates on prior posts and mention a few things that I am really enjoying these days.
Here we go…
Rodin Face Oil, Three Weeks In
I LOVE THIS OIL!!! I use it on top of my other products — mostly the Cellular Patch Cream and a Retinol Serum (at night) and I have to tell you, my skin feels wonderfully soft and I think I might even be approaching “dewy”, which is no small feat in one’s forties.
I also got in a little deeper and started using the hair oil as well. On just-washed hair, I put it on right after my leave-in conditioner, and lately, I haven’t been using much product after that combo. When I let it dry naturally, I look much less like Monica in a humid climate and much more like someone who has a nice wave in her hair. When I blow it dry, less static and the ends don’t look fried. I also use the oil on non-wash days, when the ends look a little dry. However, a word of caution: They say use TWO DROPS of the oil. I did not listen the first time and I should have. TWO DROPS. THEN STOP. That is all you need. Enjoy! (To buy: http://oliolusso.com)
Things were going really well in the first two weeks of the year, since I decided to tack it on right after workouts in the morning. Then this past weekend a horrid illness set in and I found myself stoned on NyQuil and getting overly emotional while doing a Loving Kindness meditation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_kindness_meditation) To be fair, they can be hard, but I was a disaster this week, so I am going back to some of my other favorites for the time being. For the record, some of my go-to guided meditation practices are by:
Jack Kornfield — I recommend him to anyone starting a practice. There is just something about his voice and perspective and how he mixes in Buddhist teachings with just smart stuff to think about outside of Buddhism that really works for me. If you try him, I hope he does the same for you. (http://www.jackkornfield.com and iTunes)
Tara Brach — New to me, but recommended by a friend. I find her discussions of Self Acceptance to be very on point. I don’t really meditate to her, but I do listen to one piece, The Wisdom of Self Acceptance, (I know…but we are talking meditation here) before bedtime and I always sleep really well after listening to it. (http://tarabrach.com and iTunes)
Dr. Siddharth Ashvin Shah — His Splendor of Meditation guided sessions contain three of my favorite ones: Morning Time Stress Prevention, Five Minute Rescue and Restorative Yoga Nidra. These are less spiritual and more about decompressing and keeping a good attitude. Perhaps that is why they are my go-tos for pre work sessions. (http://www.siddharthshah.com and iTunes)
Also, even if you aren’t meditating, may I remind you of the power of a few good, deep breaths? Whenever you feel like you Just Can’t, try it and see if maybe You Can.
Cook and Freeze
I did it again this past Sunday, which made eating while being too sick to cook (Mr. H had the same thing I did this week) a breeze. Also, have I mentioned how much I enjoy escarole raw? I grew up eating it cooked, mostly in soups, but it is fabulous with some hummus and warm pita and a really nice change when making salads. My new favorite is escarole, toasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds with a citrus dressing. (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Escarole-and-Butter-Lettuce-Salad-with-Pomegranate-Seeds-and-Hazelnuts-356310)
Favorite Online Reads
Sometimes you find yourself at your desk and in need of something that takes you Away from It All. If you are avoiding gossip, hard news, or what fabulous things people are up to on Facebook, I highly recommend these sites:
Into the Gloss (http://intothegloss.com) Lots of great interviews with interesting people, lots of great product info and generally transporting.
Nowness (http://www.nowness.com) Owned by LVMH, but don’t let the Corporate Giant thing keep you away. They cover everything from Art to Fashion to Culture. I even saw a video of Rick Rubin meditating. If it is interesting, it is on there. Enjoy.
Refinery 29 (http://www.refinery29.com) I am probably a touch too old for this site, but it is filled with fun stuff and reminds me of when I had little else to do but wonder what I was going to wear on a date. Still, how would I know about BB Creams — of which that Urban Decay stuff I mentioned recently happens to be — if I didn’t check them out on a regular basis? Have fun.
And that is all I have for today. Happy Weekend!
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
August 31, 2012 § Leave a comment
It’s been some time I’ve noted things I’ve been loving lately. So just in time for you to ponder “Where has the summer gone?” and “Ack! Am I ready for fall?” this weekend, some more food for thought…
While the magazine isn’t always as fashion forward as the cooler kids (V, for instance), I am still a Vogue Girl. And their site, while not quite well-formatted, provides bursts of inspiration any time you need it. I especially like APT with LSD, the Best Dressed of the Week and all their thoughts on things to do at a given time of year. Enjoy! (http://www.vogue.com/)
2) Yoga Toes
During a recent trip to southern California with some girlfriends, we discussed the important subject of keeping our feet in good shape as the years pass by. And that is when Yoga Toes came up. They are a touch hard to explain, but I have been using them for about ten minutes a day for well over a month now, and I love them. A great stretch for your tootsies that have been shoved into all manner of foot-hostile shoes. And don’t fret, they come in clear. (http://www.yogapro.com/products/YogaToes.html?utm_source=adCenter&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=YogaToes%2BKeywords%2B-%2BUSA)
3) Diptyques’s Mini Candles
As I have said before, Diptyque makes the best (outrageously priced) scented candles on the market. Full stop. And their mini ones are great for trying out new scents, to give as gifts and to just save a few dollars if you haven’t been fully converted yet. I am especially loving the
Feuille de Lavande scent, but there are few that I don’t adore. (http://www.diptyqueparis.com/home-fragrances/mini-candles.html)
For the major splurge, nothing feels more right these days that Phoebe Philo’s chic, streamlined and wearable designs. I loved her work with Stella McCartney and at Chloe (much of which I still have!), but she is just white hot these days. No gimmicks. Not super trendy, despite everyone in fashion loving everything she is doing right now. Just things that will effortlessly fall into your wardrobe and make you feel confident and comfortable. Love. (http://www.celine.com/)
5) Ciao Bella Malt Ball Gelatto
Theis flavor has been around for a while, but in case you are unfamiliar with it, put down your computer and go get yourself a container. There really isn’t anything more to say on the matter. (http://ciaobellagelato.com/#/products)
6) Tokyo Banana
Friends of mine brought me a box from a recent trip to Tokyo. Apparently, they are kind of a touristy thing to buy, but they are like a Japanese Twinkie and they are also crazy delicious. (http://www.tokyobanana.jp/)
And that is all I have got for you this evening. Enjoy and have a great long weekend!
(Funky photo of the bag my latest splurge came in, taken while on a bus, mind you: Some Cozy Night)
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.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
July 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Not sure if I have mentioned this, but A+O have been with me at the office almost every day since the beginning of June. While fun in the beginning, after several days, seeing those two conked out in various poses can start to get a little annoying…
Especially when they position themselves right under me, so that I get the full view of their relaxed state while I am toiling away just a few feet above them. But that is really the least of my concerns with this new situation.
Our new “closeness” has also made it extremely important to stay on top of that “Not So Fresh” scent that comes from having two of these creatures around. Much to their dismay, they are on a bi-weekly bath rotation. And after all my years as a pet owner, I declare this to be the best shampoo currently on the market:
Yes, then name and packaging is screaming “adorable…buy me!!”, but honestly, this stuff works. It has a mint-mixed-with-rosemary fragrance that isn’t too powerful and super-soft suds that make the job of bathing someone who would rather not be bathed a little less horrid.
On “off” weeks, nothing tames pet odors coming off said pet the way a good brushing and a wipe down with these babies does:
I have tried other wipes with cuter packaging and those that promise a more “organic” experience, but honestly, they just cover up what lurks under the fur. The Nature’s Miracle Wipes appear to actually remove the offending whatevers that are causing it. And anyone who knows their way around a pet situation will probably have a gallon or two of their household cleaning product as well. (I keep containers of it all over the house for those “oopsy” moments.)
I also highly recommend those microfiber towels for the quick drying of your furry ones, and trying to surprise them with a bath so that they don’t run and hide.
And that’s all I’ve got for making the insanity of pet ownership a little less insane.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night.)
January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
December 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
If you have been with me since the beginning, you may recall that last year I started this project while on my break between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Mr. H and I close our company for the week so that we can disconnect as much as this highly connected world allows. And generally, we spend that time by the beach.
Since swimming and sunbathing are not options this time of year — New York is weather challenged — prior to Disconnection it is essential to make sure that we have everything on hand for a proper time of indoor rest and relaxation. The focus of my efforts is on two things very dear to my heart: Eating and Being Entertained
Ensuring the proper complement of goodies to enjoy while resting requires both planning and cheating. Under “Planning” we have a stop at my favorite cheese shop in town and its equivalent by the beach (I never remember everything). New Year’s Eve nibbles are on order for delivery next week, and I am slowly working myself out of my Holiday Cold Haze to purchase the other ingredients needed for dinner on Christmas Day. (Note to self: Pack that turkey.)
As for the “Cheating”, I’ll be serving a ginger cake from Zingerman’s instead of making one myself on Christmas Day, as well as their cinnamon buns for the following morning, since I just can’t knead this year.**
Finally, Mr. H has made sure that the bar is stocked, including a supply of lemons and limes, a fresh Soda Stream cartridge* and ice made with the giant ice cube tray*.
Aside from long walks with A+O, Disconnection generally involves a stack of magazines, Pandora, an Intended Reading List and an idea of movies we’ve been meaning to see or want to watch again. These have all been gathered, although I could stand to spend a few extra minutes planning out the movie selection. I believe “Iron Lady” will top the list, even though we’ll need to leave the house to see it. Suggestions welcome.
Not to be Forgotten…
1) Firewood! Essential to being truly cozy. Kindling and newspapers are also very much required. (Good thing I’ve been reading all those Financial Times this month.)
2) Facial Masks and other Treatments that can be done since you are home anyway. My newest love is Sonya Dakar’s Nano Mask. I have no idea what is “nano” about it, but after 15 minutes, my skin feels plumper which is the only place I ever wish to feel that way.
3) My loved ones, since Disconnecting without them would make the whole endeavor pointless — and not at all fun.
So there you have it: A little bit of effort, but not so much that I wind up blowing off the preparation entirely and find myself bored instead of blissed. And I didn’t even use Excel for this one. Yay!
* These are life-changing items:
The Soda Stream: http://www.sodastreamusa.com/store.aspx?gclid=CIfHxuuHlq0CFQXd4Aodu30OoA
BIG Ice Cube Tray (Big cubes, less water in your drink.): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00395FHRO/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B003DR4W4C&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1KK82YBAA8FD18R11CKA
** When I can, however, Nigella Lawson’s Norwegian Cinnamon Bun recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess is my favorite. Just don’t use wax paper in place of parchment, even though it says you that you can. You can’t.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
November 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
I plan to be. As you may have heard, Mr. Tom Ford has a new cosmetics line out this month and I just had to have this polish:
It is called “Bitter Bitch” (Provocative, Tom Ford…same thing) and it is the next logical step for those of us who may want something a little more purple than the grays we’ve been wearing since last year — Chanel’s “Particuliere” is my favorite and I still intend to wear it — but not so dark as to make us look Kardashian. (That’s a little tired, no?)
Other loves of mine from all things Tom Ford include two of his fragrances, Black Violet and Champaca Absolute and one of the most beautiful movies made in the last few years: A Single Man.
Links should you need them:
And let me just add that Colin Firth was robbed of his Oscar that year. Robbed!! And I don’t care if he got it last year. So there you have it.
Hankies should you watch said Film
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
November 10, 2011 § 1 Comment
Miss Fiona Apple’s last record with the above title is one of my all-time favorites. I am humming it to myself right now as I type. And honestly, I think it is about time for another album from her. Six years is long enough, no?
In the meantime, another Extraordinary Machine has come into my life:
No, it isn’t a Space Age Hole Punch, as I first guessed when I found it in my office the other day. (A gift from Mr. H — he gets me.) It is a vintage letter opener from Pitney Bowes. And it is the best thing to happen to my office in forever. Except for a few pieces of furniture and this lovely mirror I recently picked up…but you catch my drift.
It basically slices off the top part of any envelope, eliminating the need to use my horrid knife-style letter opener that I struggle with daily. Finally, I look forward to opening the mail!
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
September 21, 2011 § 2 Comments
I am writing this as a group of men are using very loud equipment to chip off the existing facade of my house. (It will then be replaced, I sincerely hope.) Getting to the “destruction” phase of this project has highlighted how much knowledge one can amass over time that is not necessarily something that you would pass on to younger generations unless you made a point of remembering to do so. And since I probably won’t be writing a book on the topic of Managing Your Life, I thought I’d put some of it down here.
So here we go!
Don’t get too set on marrying your college sweetheart. True, I know of three couples that met in college and are still happily together, but the odds are not in your favor. Try to think of these relationships as Starter Marriages Without the Paperwork and carry on.
Also, enjoy the insane amount of time you have with your friends now…it gets harder and harder as you get older to find enough hours in the day. And I know people say this all the time, but that is because it is true.
This is a good time to start getting into the habit of keeping things tidy and organized. Sure, it can be fun to ignore all housekeeping rules you lived under as a kid for the first few months out on your own, so do what you must to feel “free”. But after a bit, really, make your bed, do your laundry (and put it away), keep your bathroom clean, dust and, for Pete’s sake, WIPE UP THE CRUMBS. These are good habits to develop now so that you don’t have One of Those Houses later in life.
When you leave the house, try not to look like La Sonnambula. (Although, that is a lovely costume in the ballet.) Dressing with purpose gives you a little lift. Also, I can’t be alone in appreciating the effort when someone is dressed like they care. In fact, I know this to be true, since shopkeepers and the like will almost always treat you better when you are dressed properly. This isn’t about expensive or trendy…it is about pride and good manners.
Also, regarding women’s shoes, a possibly earth-shattering bit of information: A pair of nude-colored shoes are a better investment than a pair of black ones. Neutral goes with everything; black goes with very little. Trust me on this one and spend wisely. Same with handbags and the like. Although I tend to like purple for evening bags. But that could just be me.
It has been my experience that I never regretted spending my hard-earned dollars being generous or doing the Right Thing, if that makes any sense. Just make sure it comes out of your “nice to have” budget and not the “essentials” portion.
Now You’re Really In It
Seriously, the best part of my wedding (aside from getting hitched to Mr. H) was going down the aisle and seeing all those smiling faces of the people in attendance to celebrate with us. So, whichever end of the aisle you are at, take a moment to take it all in, as I am pretty sure you will remember it for the rest of your life.
Also, figuring out the seating plan at a wedding will make you feel like a Ninja when you are done. Keep in mind what you have learned and put it to good use at dinner parties and the like later.
So, you now “own this piece of s***”, as Samantha Jones once said to Carrie. Congratulations and my condolences. It is going to be great and a lot of work. Please, for your own happiness and sanity…
– Test paint on each wall before you do the entire room. ON the walls…in big, wide strips.
– Be patient when decorating. Rushing often leads to wasted money.
– Appointments with home care professionals are always “tentative” on their end. This is especially true for Electricians, HVAC Servicemen, and The Cable Guy. As such, schedule several on one day so it isn’t a complete waste when one or two don’t show. (And don’t drink too much water on these days for obvious reasons…)
– Believe and live “Cheap is Expensive”, since it is.
– Know that you will probably spend more time waiting for your new windows to come in than you will spend finding your dream job, perfect mate or even that perfect place to live. (Which will probably need to have the windows replaced.)
Catherine Deneuve is believed to have said that when it comes to aging, you have “to choose between your a** and your face”. I don’t know if this is true, as my a** pretty much has a mind of its own. But I do know that if you haven’t been, you should start getting very serious about skin care. Moisturize (everywhere!!) and be careful in the sun from here on out.
OMG, There’s More???
You are no longer young enough to be completely carefree, and you are too old for hooey. So I say do only what you have to, what pleases you and what you feel like trying on for size.
Since you probably don’t have much time for gardening and arranging flowers, it might be comforting to know that you can get an orchid to bloom again. I know because I have done it myself and it is easy: After the first round of blooms have died off, cut that stem down by about 50% below the nearest notch and just let it be in not-so-direct sun. It takes a while, but when they do bloom you won’t believe how fresh an orchid can be.
I used to throw bigger parties (think 40 – 50 people), but realized that I never got to spend time with anyone and was exhausted by the end. So now I keep it to between four and ten guests, create a menu that does not require a lot of time and attention, and set a table that looks inviting but not “table-scaped”. (Is there a more stupid entertaining trend? Avoid.) Also, for weekends with guests that inevitably include lengthy, wine-soaked dinners that frequently start with cocktails and end with nightcaps, water glasses must be full at all times. And, it does not hurt to keep individual coconut waters on hand for everyone before bed and in the morning.
Generally, it is never as good or as bad as you think it is going to be. And, more importantly, you never know what “it” is going to be, no matter how much planning, imagining or worrying you do. So it simply isn’t productive to obsess over what could happen. (This is a Development Area for me.)
It does not take a lot of time to have a little fun. So make sure that you do.
(Photo of a rather sensible shoe: Some Cozy Night)