Lady Who Lunches

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.

xx

*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!)

Wardrobe Experiment

August 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

It is that time of year again, when women are supposed to begin shopping for Fall and Winter. Yes, I know it is a zillion degrees outside, and we are all just finishing up our summer steals with everything on Final, Super-Duper Discount sale. But still, it is time.

In fact, in some stores, we are already late. Case in point: The fantastic brocade pants at Céline that I suddenly very much needed last month were no longer available in my size. Gone. Forever. (Did I mention that they were from the Fall collection? They were.) And just the other day I was invited to a Resort trunk show later this month, which essentially clothes for the beginning of NEXT SPRING.

Such is the cycle of fashion.

To be truthful, I like the idea of getting my wardrobe in order well before the season hits. So I play ball and am quite close to being “done” for this one. However, this time around I am doing things a little differently.

As you may know, in general one wears 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. And while I suspect my percentages are a little better than that, I am attempting to significantly improve that ratio using a three-pronged approach:

1. Inventory
I am currently going through every item in my wardrobe — every one — and putting it into one spreadsheet that can be sorted by garment type, color, season, label, year made, and size. I already had a running start on this document, as I have been keeping these kinds of spreadsheets for years, but a new and completely up-to-date one is in order. It will keep me from over-buying (especially at sale time) and remind me of when things might need to go.

2. Ruthless Edit
While taking the inventory, I am trying everything on to decide if it stays in the picture. So far, the editing has been fierce. Anything that I no longer completely love is in a Donate bag. For the record, there is more than one bag and I am not done with the Inventory and Ruthless Edit Process. I tell you: I mean business here and I will have a smaller but better functioning wardrobe.

3. Precision Purchasing
This part is not going to be what you think, as I am not a fan of “basics”. Sure, we all need a pair of great black pants and a few perfect white t-shirts, so those are purchased as needed. But when thinking about what is going to make it into my closet, I first decide if we have chemistry. Without that, there is no point. Then, assuming we do, I decide if I have anything else too much like it, and if not, whether it goes with my life and the other things in my closet. And, in the hopes of improving my ratio, I now ask myself the hardest question of all: Will I wear this frequently? If the answer to this and all the other questions are “yes”, the piece is in.

And so, in the last few weeks I have added several items that met the above criteria, including a cool pair of black wedge booties with a rubber sole for wet days, a skirt that reminds me of Charlie Brown’s T-Shirt in a good way, a black down coat that actually looks good on me (a small miracle) and a fantastically simple short sleeved top done in pin-striped wool flannel.

And while my list of purchases for the season is far from short, many more things are leaving the closet than are being brought in, so I think I am off to a good start with my little experiment. Wish me luck — and don’t be afraid to try it yourself on the next rainy weekend.

xx

The First Cut is the Deepest

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.

Snapdragons-to-be.

No idea, but I am sure they will be pretty.

More dahlias…

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.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Another New Year: Losar

February 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

I love that there are so many opportunities to celebrate a New Year. I mean, Mondays don’t always cut it when you want a little Life Reset. So, imagine my delight in finding out, courtesy of my Times’s Digest this morning, that the Tibetan New Year celebrations begin today. Since I have allowed certain Outside Issues to muss up my vacation over the past day or two, I could use a reset. And the happy news that this New Year celebration is decidedly food-focused — including many dough-based delicacies — I am thinking this is an ideal celebration to embrace. Yippie!!

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So, back to Losar. Wikipedia says that the last day of the current year is a day of cleaning and preparation (I missed that part), and includes putting up the finest decorations for the celebration. Then the first two days of this 15-day lunar-based holiday are for official ceremonies to make offerings (including a sacrificial cake) and to wish the Dali Lama good luck for the coming year. (He is even given special barley and dough based pills for this.)

From the third day on it is time for everyone to enjoy the rest of the holiday celebrations. This includes, according to Julia Moskin at The New York Times, Tibet’s unofficial dish: aha momos. These are little dumplings filled with meat and spices (a little bit in conflict with Buddhist Vegetarianism, but you can read Julia’s piece on that) that sound just heavenly. And apparently if I were in New York today, I could have some at a place called Tsampa, in the East Village.

Anyway, I fear I am getting too far afield from the Point of the Post, which is that I think that if you have the opportunity to reset and celebrate, you should. (Especially if there is food involved.) So, Tashi Delek and happy reset to you all.

xx

(Photo: 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)

Awesome Wife Production

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

So, I went a little nuts yesterday and spent the day cooking and freezing to make at-home dinners a little more within our grasp. The goal was to make several soups, a few things with our beef*, and a number of sides and sauces that will enable me to cook up a chop or two, make a salad or get some nice cheese and call it a meal.

When I began at noon, I didn’t really think about the end game exactly. I just bought a ton of stuff and got down to cooking. Here is some of the fruit of my labor:

Please note that it is very hard to make edible food look nice in a photo. But this was my “cooling” center where prepared food was left to get cool enough to freeze and avoid freezer burn.

A recent Development Area that I decided to work on in earnest this year was to begin labeling the things I make and freeze. No matter how certain I am that “I’ll remember”, I do not. And it is silly to pretend that I will. So, here are my very casual labels.

And here is the end result, with everything in the freezer.** Again, not pretty pictures, but I am still pretty proud. In fact, it was around this time, either in a fit of delirium or just too much dancing around the kitchen to the Scissor Sisters, that I proclaimed myself “An Awesome Wife” for doing all this stuff.

So, what did I make? I’ll tell you:

– Three containers of Roasted Veggie Soup with Spelt Pasta
– Three containers of Escarole, Bean and Sausage Soup
– Two Sautéed Broccoli and Pine Nuts for use over pasta or as a side
– Two Sautéed Brocoli Rabe with Garlic and Red Pepper as a side
– Two Sautéed Bok Choy, Ginger and Mushrooms to be combined with thin chicken slices at dinner time
– Two Sautéed Kale with Onions and Red Pepper as a side
– Five mini-meat loaves
– Thirty meat balls
– Five containers of Tomato, Basil and Garlic sauce, for use with said meat balls

I finished at around 7PM, just in time to have a little dinner, wash all the food off of me and settle in for my reward: the season premier of Downton Abbey. A very good end to an Awesome Wife Production indeed.

xx

* Have I mentioned that Mr. H and I do a beef share every year with about ten friends? It sounds nuts but it is excellent.

** And there’s the beef. And some lamb from our CSA. And other important items like ice cream. (You have to have priorities.)

(Photos: Mr. H, who also put everything into the freezer for me. That was an Awesome Husband Production.)

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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