Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bedroom Behavior


I have a zero tolerance policy for electronics in the bedroom. Here's some science to back up that "my way or the highway" philosophy.

A

P.S. The rules.

Image from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation via uproxx

Monday, December 22, 2014

Paris Match



The Dec 14/Jan 15 issue of Lucky features a tour of makeup artist Violette's Paris abode. Her taste is eclectic and she has a thing for wiry light fixtures, but otherwise I dig her decor. Three design elements that jumped at me from the feature's pages:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Take Back Your Shower Time


Do you watch 60 Minutes? My husband, whose TV diet of Antiques Roadshow, Charlie Rose, etc. could easily be confused with that of your 85-year-old Grandpa's, got me hooked.

On December 14th, 60 Minutes featured a segment on mindfulness. "Anderson Cooper report[ed] on what it's like to try to achieve 'mindfulness,' a self-awareness scientists say is very healthy, but rarely achieved in today's world of digital distractions."

Cooper participated in a mindfulness retreat led by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn is an MIT-trained scientist who's been practicing mindfulness for 47 years. Cooper and Kabat-Zinn sat down and discussed what mindfulness is all about: essentially, being present. For example, Kabat-Zinn said, "When your alarm goes off and you jump out of bed, what is the nature of the mind in that moment? Are you already like, 'oh my God,' your calendar pops into your mind and you're driven already, or can you take a moment and just lie in bed and just feel your body breathing. And remember, 'oh yeah, brand new day and I'm still alive.' So, I get out of bed with awareness, brush my teeth with awareness. When you're in the shower next time check and see if you're in the shower."

Cooper responded like many of us would: "what does it mean to check and see if you're in the shower?"

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Is Coming


The weather has been cold and dreary for weeks here in NYC, but winter doesn't officially begin until Sunday 12/21. Also known as "Winter Solstice," Sunday will be the shortest day of the year. The silver lining in all of this: perfect weather for snuggling up with a good book! Here are my winter reading picks:

Monday, December 1, 2014

How to Win In-Laws and Influence People


When my husband and I were just dating, I went on a family vacation to Turks and Caicos with his parents and siblings. Afterwards I was determined to send the perfect 'thank you' gift to show my appreciation and win over my beau's rents. I thought long and hard about what to send. I asked around, I waffled over different options. Finally I settled on a gift basket: the ultimate "there's something for everyone" catch-all gift. When done right, a gift basket can be the best thank you for any occasion. But that begs the question: how do you pick the perfect gift basket?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Embracing 'No'


Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your holiday is filled with lots of love, stuffing and plenty of relaxation. But if you're like most Americans, you may be feeling a bit of holiday stress. If so, I hope you're able to find some peace amid the ensuing chaos. I'm determined to keep from succumbing to holiday stress this year, and I have a strategy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sprucing Up


The Fall edition of Domino does not disappoint. I dogeared many pages for inspiration and even ordered some the fine home furnishings featured inside. So all in all, it's a dangerous glossy, and I highly recommend picking it up :)

A few highlights:

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Kind of Crew


J. Crew is one of my go-to brands. I love J. Crew's easy, comfortable yet chic pieces. A few favorite buys include this coat, these pajamas and this scarf.

My husband also happens to be a fan, so we'e basically a J. Crew couple. In fact, our wedding featured a J. Crew tux worn by the hubby and J. Crew bridesmaids dresses adorned by my maids. We even got Vans from J. Crew for the groomsmen. The overall style was easy, elegant and fun. And decidedly us

Of course the J. Crew catalog is an absolute treat. I dog-ear lots of pages and hope my chosen items go on sale. I'm currently coveting:

Elsie Fabric Pumps
I'm not normally a shoes girl but these are just so pretty and provide the perfect pop of print and color. 

Marble Coasters
These match everything, and would look great with practically every bit of home decor

Water Bottle
I'm ashamed to admit I still sip on plastic bottles. And I drink tons of water.

Band-Aid Bandages
Yes, band-aids are on my wish list. These happen to look totally rad. And I happen to be a complete klutz. I currently have not one, not even two, but THREE self-inflicted injuries. 

Happy shopping,
A


[J. Crew Style Guide, December 2014]

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hector and the Search for Happiness, Francois Lelord


I just finished Hector and the Search for Happiness and I'm seeing its messages everywhere. Maybe that's because happiness is a universal message, but I'm always attuned to happiness-related information. 

Many books focus on the more mundane science of happiness. While I appreciate the facts and research behind finding lasting joy, I really enjoy learning through interesting stories. Hector's story is realistic enough and so spot on when it comes to observations about human beings. 

Hector is a French psychiatrist who sets out to see what makes people happy. He seeks wisdom beyond his studies and work experiences. He travels to Asia, Africa and North America and shares his observations along the way. Below are Hector's lessons learned while accidentally falling for a prostitute, befriending a drug trafficker, hiking with a monk and trotting across the globe. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sweet Surrender


I have a serious weakness for sweets. This isn't ideal, as sugar is proving to be poison. But as a yogi and commonsense person, I know that desserts consumed in moderation are alright. But how does one consume an addictive drug in small portions and feel A-ok? I've learned the hard/delicious way, through trial & error. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Get More Sh*t Done


I have a friend who is a super successful marketing executive. She also happens to be a fantastic chef. I'm always in awe of her work + recreational feats. Where does she find the time? It's been said that we all have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce... But does everyone get as much sh*t done as Queen Bae?

Friday, November 7, 2014

What I Love About Me


Marie Claire's "What I Love About Me" section is refreshing. Each issue the magazine spotlights a city and features local real women showing off their signature styles and sharing tidbits about what makes them feel beautiful.

The November Marie Claire focuses on San Francisco. The San Fran locals' answers to "What I Love About Me" range from "my mysterious eyes" to "my friendliness." One woman feels great about her ability to cut her own bangs. Another has "a naturally pouty mouth that looks good in every shade of lipstick." My favorite out of all the SF ladies' prized features are Krystal Bick's "dark, bold brows." Bick and I are basically soul sisters. I often get complimented on my brows. They're naturally thick and can get pretty crazy if I don't groom them, but alas, I do! I see brow specialist Maral Balian every few months and I do my best to upkeep in-between appointments. Thanks to Balian, I look presentable even without makeup. Oftentimes women comment on my brows in exercise classes. I suppose this is because most women bare their faces sans cosmetics during workouts, so these kind eyebrow admirers know mine are the real deal. In fact, my favorite barre teacher remembers me as "Amy with the great eyebrows." I love it. 

A

P.S. A huge thank you to my friend Alex, restauranteur and native New Yorker, for the Maral Balian introduction.


P.P.S. Check out this brow-related web read

P.P.P.S. Do you, too, find that beauticians make the best spiritual advisors?


["What I Love About Me" Marie Claire, November 2014]

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham


I finished Not That Kind of Girl in less than one week's time. It was an impressive, quick read. Lena Dunham is no doubt very smart and insightful. One slight reservation I have, however, is that much of her book's stories are the same as those depicted on her hit HBO series Girls. So readers be warned: much of Dunham's material is recycled.
That being said, Dunham is certainly courageous. Her writing is vulnerable and funny, and she candidly discusses her extreme neuroses with a refreshing comedic spin. And if you ask me, bearing your soul in print is much braver than exposing your naked body on TV -- something Dunham is (in)famous for.

A few of Dunham's essays really resonated me with me:

Falling in Love
After walking us through her first three serious-ish and ultimately doomed relationships, Dunham touches on the history of her parents' courtship. She then bounces back to relationship #3 before cryptically introducing her current Prince Charming: "Then he appeared. Gap toothed, Sculptey faced, glasses like a cartoon, so earnest I was suspicious, and so witty I was scared." She goes on to say that he and she evolved from friends to more over the next few months. But surprisingly for this notorious over-sharer, she doesn't divulge details. Dunham tells the reader that yes, she has written those sentences, but that they are hers, and she's not sharing. This portion of "Falling in Love" feels a little stingy. Why even go there if you're not going to go there? Dunham then loops back to the old boyfriends. (Yes, this particular essay is a bit circuitous.) She never really loved those first boyfriends. But she can now appreciate and love her own younger self. She ends with a retrospective, this being the portion of "Falling in Love" that touched me:
Everything has changed in a way that sounds trite and borderline offensive when recounted over coffee. I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. There she goes, backpack on, headed for the subway or the airport. She did her best with her eyeliner. She learned a new word she wants to try out on you. She is ambling along. She is looking for it.
'Diet' is a Four-Letter Word
When talking about body image in "'Diet' is a Four-Letter Word" Dunham includes a sample of her 2010 food diary, prefacing it by saying that this documentation "has been the most humiliating document on [her] computer." It actually doesn't seem that embarrassing to me, although she does share some intimate medical info. Maybe I just have horrendous eating tendencies and embarrassing medical issues, too. Perhaps one day I'll share my own humiliating food diary with you. In the meantime, here's a taste of Dunham's:
THURSDAY AUGUST 26, 2010
Late night snack: 4am
3/4 container of Fage 2% Greek Yogurt (110 calories)
raspberries (20 calories)
Breakfast: 6:30am
          Gluten free honey oat toast (120 calories)
w/ almond butter (100 calories)
9:30am
30 raspberries (35 calories?)
1:45pm 
weird orange juice/tracking liquid for cat scan (100 calories?)
3pm
5 Raisinets (38 calories)
5:30pm
1/4 turkey on rye bread w/ lettuce and mustard (300 calories?) 
2 bottles Teas green tea 
9pm
1/4 small container saag paneer and white rice (380 calories?)
1/2 container chocolate soy delicious ice cream (230 calories)
green tea 
seltzer
Total caloric intake: approx 1,433 
Notes: Spent day in ER. Diagnosed with acute colitis. (Not the chronic kind! Maybe from the laxative tea?) Lots to say about that and I'll type it when not on jury duty. By which I mean Percocet. I meant Percocet and typed "jury duty." I think I overestimate my calories sometimes.
A Guide to Running Away
In "A Guide to Running Away," Dunham's final and most moving essay, she advises readers on how to run away at ages nine and 27. Her advice for a 27 year old looking to escape? Take a long shower, ingest pills or say you're sick. Dunham explains that she personally no longer needs to escape herself and/or her circumstances regularly. She can be in her body, especially when she's a "tool", i.e., acting as a creative outlet. (I totally get that!) Dunham also feels supported by true unconditional love: "Even when [I] cry or misbehave or show him how terrible [I am] at planning festive group outings. He seems to be there without reservation." Dunham admits that sometimes that old feeling of "being outside your body" slips back in, but she has "learn[ed] a new rule and it's simple: don't put yourself in situations you'd like to run away from."


Amen sister.
A

Bottom image via Nasty Gal

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Strand



I did some damage at the Strand last Tuesday. The famed bookshop happens to be on my work commute route, which is both awesome and dangerous. Books are to me as shoes are to most ladies. And having finished Not That Kind of Girl the previous week, I had been going barefoot.

So I had to stop by the "home to 18 miles of books." There was a whole shrine to Lena Dunham and her literary picks both in the store window and inside. Having been there and done that, I was drawn to an ICYM section ("in case you missed it," for those not familiar with the language of hashtags AKA my parents). It turns out I had missed The Secret History, the first novel by Donna Tartt. I loved Tartt's recent bestseller The Goldfinch, and I can't wait to dig into the author's first book.

Next I hit up the "Best of the Best" table. I picked up Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami and Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord. I'm halfway through Hector and it's fantastic. Review to come. The Strand always steers me in the right reading direction.

The Strand is always packed with browsers, but the checkout line is typically null. This probably doesn't bode well for business, but it makes the shopping experience pretty painless. (Just like stationery shopping!)

Another great thing about the Strand is that the store buys back books. I think I got about four dollars and change the last time I sold a stack of used books. You don't exactly get rich quick from selling your old tomes, but you can earn cash or store credit. And here's an insider's tip: If you select the in-store credit option, you get a 10% bonus. Even more incentive to keep purchasing bound beauties! Try finding a deal like that at your local shoe store.

A

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rifle Paper Co.


Stationery stores are up there with bookstores when it comes to shops I can stomach spending lots of time in even when they're crowded. (An important distinction for every New Yorker to make: Know thy shopping tolerances to avoid claustrophobia and general overheating.)

Browsing paper goods, to me, is worth it. I adore stationery. And I love checking the mail. There's something special about receiving a physical greeting card, invitation or thank-you note via snail mail (and a good glossy, of course).

I would send hand-written notes a la Jane Austen all the time if it weren't for my horrendous penmanship. Because of this handicap, I rely on pretty paper with witty inscriptions. I just sign my name in my most careful cursive.

One brand I really adore is Rifle Paper Co. I recently purchased this awesome notepad because it boasts an inspirational saying PLUS a zebra, and I love zebras. I spotted the notepad at Paper Source while picking up b-day cards. Coincidentally, I recently complimented my friend Teddi on her iPhone case, which just so happened to be Rifle Paper Co. I did a little more research and Rifle Paper Co. also makes pretty coasters, original artwork and even gorgeous special edition books. Perfect for this bookworm. I'm smitten.

A

Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Ode to Oscar


In the December 2011 issue of Lucky magazine, Beauty Editor Jean Godfrey-June pays homage to Oscar de la Renta. She says if she were rich, she'd buy tons of Oscar de la Renta clothes, and also live just like him.

Apparently de la Renta had "gardens with espaliered apple trees bent into arches over walkways, looming yews the size of small apartment buildings, and gigantic statues of wild boars." He dined on homegrown tomatoes al fresco, on his vast terraces. He bathed among elaborate decor and serious works of art. 

Godfrey-June explains de la Renta's charm as being "Olympic-level." She says he told "wicked stories" and said "precisely what [he] was thinking." 

And when it came to de la Renta's means for making his lavish lifestyle a reality? "No designer [knew] better how to make a woman look truly female; he never [forgot] about the waist."

Godfrey-June's article culminates with a review of de la Renta's new (in 2011) perfume. She describes both the bottle and the scent as utterly original. Just like de la Renta - one of a kind. 

A


P.S. Anna Wintour's moving tribute to Oscar de la Renta after he passed recently. 


[#TBT - Lucky, December 2011]

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Home Decorating 101


I devour catalogs with the same enthusiasm as I do magazines. I'm in major nesting mode, so I especially like the design ones: Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, West Elm, etc.

I try to mix and match cookie cutter, albeit beautiful, popular brand name pieces with original items. For instance, I paired a Pottery Barn desk with a one-of-a-kind stool from Nadeau. We also have special items from our travels strewn about the apartment, like our walking sticks from the Inca Trial, hanging (kind of precariously) above our makeshift bar. 

But when it comes to decorating, I'm learning I have a lot to learn. Here are some design lessons I've learned the hard way:

  • "Cream" shades of paint - in particular, Chatsworth Cream - can look too yellow. 
  • You can over-stuff a couch.  
  • You will stain your ivory pillow cases with mascara, even after you've washed your face with makeup remover.
  • Framing is expensive, but always negotiable. 
  • Get curtains when you first move in. Otherwise, four years later you'll still be flashing your neighbors. 
It turns out design catalogs also have helpful suggestions. Here are some tips I learned from browsing the October 2014 PB catalog:
  • Sherwin Williams Functional Gray SW 7024 looks like a good, safe gray! Noted. 
  • The term "Rustic Luxe" is now on the scene: It's a trademarked name for PB's bedding collection, and I like it. Let's let "Rustic Luxe" have a moment and give "Rustic Chic" a break.
  • Mixing and matching different frames of photos and artwork, along with sculptures looks good. 
In addition to picking up these helpful hints, I also found a piece to pine for, this time in the November 2014 catalog: The Logan Collection Small Modular Wall Suite. I yearn for something to hold wine glasses etc. Ours currently live atop a counter on a "Rustic Luxe" tray, underneath the aforementioned walking sticks. 

A


[Pottery Barn, October & November 2014]

Monday, October 27, 2014

The New Classic


Last Monday night my husband and I did a little impromptu cooking. We don't often cook, let alone whip up something at the last minute, so it was an unusual albeit lovely experience. We were hungry and feeling uninspired by seamless, so we did the practical, cost-saving, thing: raid our cupboards for edible food that isn't dessert, and make a meal of it.

We happened to have a box of fusilli, some leftover tomato sauce and a jar of artichokes (one of my go-to salad ingredients) as well as some frozen spinach probably meant for a lasagna I had intended to make years ago. So voila, we put together pasta with tomato and artichoke sauce, with a side of spinach. This may sound incredibly rudimentary, but cooking for us (when it happens) usually entails lots of strategizing, a ton of prep work and way too much time and money spent at our overcrowded and overpriced local grocer. It's a whole to-do and it's expensive and stressful. Our easy peasy basic meal last Monday was somewhat of a revelation for me. Cooking can be simple and still satisfying.

Plus, now I'm seeing "our recipe" everywhere! When digging through the April 2007 Gourmet magazine for last Thursday's TBT post, I found this Fettuccine with Artichokes recipe. And last week A Cup of Jo posted a link to this Real Simple Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks recipe in a Quick Dinners To Make At Home feature.

I think my hubby and I stumbled upon a pasta classic, and now I'm determined to add it to our meal repertoire.

A


[Gourmet, April 2007]

Friday, October 24, 2014

Three Books from Three Lives

Last weekend I indulged in one of my favorite downtime activities: browsing a bookstore. I know, wild! But seriously, I could spend hours lost in my own little world reading book titles and blurbs, perusing shelves and finding literary treasures. I feel lucky to have a local bookstore around the corner from my apartment: Three Lives & Company.

I dragged my husband there last Saturday, in-between picking up coffee from Jack's and biking to Black Seed Bagels. I had the intention of only picking up Lena Dunham's new book. Once inside the store, however, I was drawn to the essays section as well as the mindfulness section (yes, that exists!) and I ended up picking up the The Best American Travel Writing and How to Sit as well. Stay tuned for reviews.

Also help a sister out and support your local bookshop, whether it be a Three Lives-esque spot, Barnes & Noble or anywhere! I fear that bookshops will become obsolete, just like Blockbusters. (And of course land lines)

A







Images via Book Reviews Lite, Steve Minor, @BlackSeedBagels

Thursday, October 23, 2014

#TBT - Gourmet, April 2007


I've kept this particular magazine for seven years (yes, seven!) not because I'm trying to be a gourmet chef or because I even love cooking, but because this glossy's cover is so gorgeous. I must admit, I thought it featured an image of a carrot cake, one of my all-time favorite desserts. It turns out this cover actually portrays a delicious looking Pecan Spice Layer Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting, and the recipe now lives on epicurious.com. Gourmet sadly folded in 2009, so I'm happy to revive its contents here on B & G.

First, however, I'm behooved to mention that while searching online for an acceptable replica of Gourmet's April 2007 cover image to share on this blog, I came across some eBay listings for old glossies for sale. So to all of those criticizers of my magazine "hoarding" habit, AKA my husband and family members and Jesse Silver, let it be known that we can make a small fortune off of my esteemed magazine collection. 

Now back to Gourmet, "The Magazine Of Good Living." I'm delighted to have unearthed this mag just in time for Fall cooking. It may have hit newsstands in the Spring seven years ago, but this glossy contains classic recipes perfect for Fall, especially the Pecan Spice Layer Cake. In fact, I think it'd make a delicious addition to a Thanksgiving meal. See here for instructions.

A

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall Library


I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I hoard magazines, seeing as this blog is basically an excuse for me to buy, read, re-read and write about magazine articles... :)

But it may surprise you that my husband, too, is a hoarder. He's been a loyal subscriber to The New Yorker for years, and these mags have been piling up for some time. Justin reads all day at work, so he doesn't jump at the chance to read more in his leisure time. He claims he's saving his New Yorkers for vacation, but come vacation time he watches movies on flights and reads books on the beach.

These New Yorkers aren't altogether neglected. Justin and I are always curious about each edition's cover and cover title, as well as its Cartoon Caption Contest.

When the October 13, 2014 New Yorker arrived in the mail, I was thrilled. Usually I'm only excited about our mail on Thursdays when Us Weekly comes. But seeing the above cover was a treat, especially because Justin had recently chastised me for piling books on the floor. And the title? "Fall Library."

AND check out the magazine's description, which is totally on par with this blog's premise:

When Tom Gauld sent the first sketch for this week’s cover, “Fall Library,” we discussed a variant where the woman was holding an electronic-book reader. “But I decided against the e-reader,” Gauld says. The image “ended up having too much going on, which made it less interesting. I think the fact that she’s holding one of her millions of books is what’s nice.”


["Fall Library" The New Yorker 10/20/14]

Monday, October 20, 2014

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This novel is one of the best books I've read in recent memory. I hadn't heard anything about it when I picked it up randomly at The Strand, so I had no expectations.

Thank goodness I spotted it and was drawn to it at the bookstore. (And thank goodness there are still bookstores to go to!) 

Here's a snippet of the book's synopsis: 

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Bravo to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her story of Ifemelu and Obinze is captivating. Americanah is brilliant, funny and informative. It's a moving story about what it means to be a black immigrant in America, and what it means to be human. Despite not having much in common with Americanah's main characters - I'm a white Jew, born and raised in NJ - I found myself really relating to the female lead. This book is a beautiful reminder that we are all connected. And Adichie is a fantastic writer.

A

Sunday, October 19, 2014

An Ode to Land Lines


Land lines are obviously becoming obsolete. Our parents' generation still has them, but we don't. I'm feeling nostalgic for land lines these days, though. They're in the same boat as real paper books, magazines and newspapers. 

I miss the days when I wasn't connected to a phone at all times, when I could be out and about and unreachable for short periods of time. Remember back when people had to be alone with their thoughts while doing errands, or while waiting in line at a coffee shop?

A funny thing happened this past Friday, involving a Tweet of mine. (Yes, I embrace social media while also keeping one foot firmly grounded in more traditional media.)

After tweeting the below 140 characters last Friday morning, my phone stopped working.

to the girl @Starbucks this AM holding up the line because she was gabbing on her cell abt #mercuryretrograde slowing things down.. really?!

I felt compelled to tweet about the absurdity of the situation. Plus, as a yogi, I love a good mercury in retrograde reference. Anyway, this girl in front of me, Donna, was responsible for the holdup of a sizable Starbucks line of grumpy New Yorkers in need of their fix. Donna was yelling into her phone, trying to explain to some poor soul on the other end what it means for mercury to be in retrograde. Donna said something along the lines of: IT MAKES EVERYTHING SLOWER! She was clearly frustrated about something amiss in her life, a miscommunication potentially caused by the planets.

All the while, Donna wasn't paying attention to anything in her immediate vicinity. A befuddled Starburcks barista tried yelling "next" about 400 times before I gently tapped Donna on the shoulder to move along. Afterwards, I felt compelled to tweet about the absurdity of the situation. 


Later that day, I took the subway downtown towards home, one of the last places in the city where people are forced to disconnect. During my commute I disconnected for about 20 minutes and caught up on the October Vogue. When I resurfaced, I was eager to check my phone for messages and make some calls to plan the evening. But...wait. Call failure. I tried my husband 11 times, to no avail. I couldn't make or receive calls or texts for the duration of the night. And I had no backup, no land line.

F-ing mercury in retrograde?! Or was it my social media karma? Donna, I'm sorry for picking on you. Maybe I was too harsh in the moment (like many people on Twitter). We can't get so caught up in our digital lives that we forget to maintain good manners with those physically close to us. Especially when mercury is in retrograde.

A

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebrity Must-Haves


InStyle is one of my go-to glossies. It provides the perfect combo of down-to-earth fashion, home tips and overall lifestyle inspiration.

In the October issue there's a spotlight on Jennifer Meyer, jewelry designer to the stars, and wife of actor Tobey Maguire. I've always admired Meyer's dainty gold jewelry pieces, and I jibe with her personal fashion picks whenever I see her in paparazzi shots. It always seems that Meyer mixes highs and lows, fancy and low-key. However, upon reading her "top secret tell-all" tips in InStyle, I'm pretty sure she's straight up fancy, despite looking laid-back at times. Meyer describes her personal style as "comfortable" and I'd say that's spot on. She seems comfortable in every sense of the word, and all the power to her! She may, however, be a little out of touch with us little people:

Meyer's jet-setter look requires a $1,495 scarf and she believes "every woman should own a Saint Laurent leather biker jacket or a denim jacket by Current/Elliott." Why, you may ask? "They go with everything." Amen sister. If you have the means, why not rock couture to look casual? For the rest of us, J. Crew will have to suffice. 

When pressed for a "drugstore steal," Meyer recommends Rescue Remedy by Bach: "a homeopathic spray that instantly calms you down when you're stressed out." That's one Meyer-approved item I'm game to try (and able to afford).

A


[Jennifer Meyer, InStyle, October 2014]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Dos & Don'ts of Being an Actual, Full-Grown Woman


Perhaps it has something to do with the particular people and brands I choose to follow, but it seems to me that Twitter is abuzz with feministic notions lately, including equal pay for equal work demands, anti sexual harassment protests, abortion clinic news and more. I have never considered myself  "a feminist," but I do have morals and I happen to be female, so I'm paying special attention to these women's issues. But really, these "women's issues" should be "people's issues," don't you think?

I recently came across this clip of Sarah Silverman raising awareness (and funds) for the Equal Payback Project. It's no laughing matter, but Silverman makes the case for equal pay in a most comical way. Go to YouTube for the full, R-rated video.

Silverman may not make me laugh all that much via her raunchy standup specials, but she has my utmost admiration and respect, especially after making The Equal Payback Project video.  

In general, anyone who puts herself out there in any creative endeavor has my support times a million. I feel vulnerable and insecure all the time just by posting innocuous blogs. Fellow writers, comedians, artists and story-tellers of all types inspire courage in me, from fashion bloggers sharing their "OOTD's" to next level heroes like Malala.

But back to our homegrown hero, Sarah Silverman. A lot of her work is not necessarily appropriate for all audiences, but something of Silverman's I do feel comfortable (and compelled) to share here is an article I had dog-eared back in the June 2014 issue of Glamour magazine: The Dos & Don'ts of Being an Actual, Full-Grown Woman. As Glamour says, Silverman is both wisecracking and just plain wise. See below for a condensed version of Silverman's Dos and Don'ts, as published in Glamour:

Do get your sweat on most days.
Don't clutter your life with stuff you can't afford.
Do brush and floss your teeth every day for reals.
Don't expect someone to "complete" you.
Do be with someone who gets turned on by you being turned on in bed.
Don't be a bitter ex.
Do listen to your mom.
Don't lack initiative. People tell me, "want to be a writer? OK, then write." There's no trick. No one's gonna knock on your door and ask you to write. Just write, dummy. Put your 10,000 hours in (see: Malcolm Gladwell), and be undeniable.
Also, don't let defeat discourage you. I got fired from Saturday Night Live and fired from my next job, a sitcom, right after. It made me gun-shy. But I lived through it. I kept going. As Charlie Kaufman said: "Do not worry about failure. Failure is a badge of honor. It means your risked failure."
Do start reflecting. I do therapy. If therapy isn't your thing, then go to church or get a Pema Chodron book for $9 on Audible--whatever you need to do to live an examined life. It'll make your life (and the lives of people around you) exponentially richer.
Don't talk sh-t about yourself. You'll start to believe it.
Do be nice to yourself.
Sarah, thank you for sharing.
A


Image via Esquire 

["The Dos & Don'ts of Being an Actual, Full-Grown Woman" Glamour, June 2014]

Monday, October 13, 2014

Brunch Is for Jerks


When "Brunch Is for Jerks" ran in The Times, multiple friends directed me to The Gray Lady. They all know of my deep dislike for this alleged "meal." I hate it. I love going out to dinner, and even grabbing breakfast OR lunch, but brunch as the main event on a Saturday or Sunday? No, thank you. 

This has been a lonely opinion for years. I turn down brunch invitations often and try to avoid participating at all costs, but then I miss out on seeing friends and family. It's a lose-lose situation. Lose out on seeing loved ones, or lose out on a full, productive day with multiple meals to boot. So imagine my pleasure at seeing this article in The Times. Finally, people are coming around! 

David Shaftel declares it's gone too far:

Saturday and Sunday mornings in New York’s West Village, where I have lived for nearly 20 years, used to bring an almost pastoral calm. Now they’re characterized by the brunch-industrial complex rumbling to life. By late morning, crowds of brunchers — often hung over and proudly bedraggled — begin to assemble, eager to order from rote menus featuring some variation of mimosas and eggs Benedict.
Julian Casablancas, the lead singer of the Strokes, is also on the anti-brunch team. In response to why he left NYC for somewhere upstate, he quipped, "I don’t know how many, like, white people having brunch I can deal with on a Saturday afternoon.” 

Another team member, Shawn Micallef, wrote a whole book about "The Trouble With Brunch." He argues that "the meal brings out the worst in restaurants and their patrons." As Micallef explains, "[c]hefs bury the dregs of the week’s dinners under rich sauces, arranging them in curious combinations.” Even worse, “brunchers treat servers uncharitably and servers, in turn, view them with contempt.” Shaftel sums up Micallef's thesis: "It’s as if everyone feels entitled to wring as much out of this bad deal as possible."

Shaftel's overall "Brunch Is for Jerks" thesis is that the meal personifies yuppie rejection of adulthood. That seems like a stretch to me. After all, all types of people are drawn to brunch, not just my Young Urban Professional friends. But I do agree that brunch is an overall raw deal. For years I have been forced to explain to incredulous friends and family why I don't like to participate in this wildly popular culinary tradition. Allow me to explain:

A - If the weather is bearable, I hate to be cooped up indoors for hours.
B - I don't like drinking during the day. For many people, day-drinking is the sole purpose of brunch. The mediocre eggs are for show.
C - I get really indecisive when it comes to picking between breakfast or lunch. This is always a hard choice. I'm sure theres a whole chapter in Hillary Clinton's new book dedicated to this very decision. 
D - What a day killer! You wake up early-ish. You overeat overpriced food. You feel too sluggish to exercise. You go home and sit on your couch. The Sunday Scaries set in. You order dinner early because you're starving from not having a proper breakfast and lunch. Later, you get the munchies because you ate dinner too early. You order ice cream or candy from the bodega. You get high on sugar and totally wired. You can't sleep. The next thing you know, you're hitting the snooze button come Monday morning. 

Micallef thinks brunch is growing out of fashion, like a pair of old bell-bottoms. I agree. Time to clean out the closet. 

A


Photo credit: Tim Lahan via NYTimes.com

["Brunch Is for Jerks" The New York Times 10/10/14]

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Paris Eats


The cover of the September issue of Travel + Leisure features a quintessential Paris image: A chic, svelte, young woman relaxes with a cup of coffee; behind is a backdrop of the Seine River, lush foliage and the Eiffel Tower. There is little text on this cover, just an indication that this is the "style + culture issue" along with the words: "Essential Paris," the word "Paris" appearing in a beautiful, irresistible, most-Parisian cursive font.

I picked up this issue Travel + Leisure just after returning from Paris... I couldn't resist. I love travel mags, and I wanted to see if the T + L editors and I had any of the same "Essential Paris" spots in mind.

It turns out I had gone to one of the article's "hot tables:" David Toutain. This restaurant was recommended by a foodie friend and it proved quite the fancy foodie experience. My husband and I received course after course of surprising yet tasty food combinations. The restaurant didn't feel particularly French, but it was certainly an original Parisian experience.

T + L says:
"Chef Toutain's ethereal treatment of unusual produce at Restaurant David Toutain has notes of Scandinavian-style naturalism, but his dishes are locally sourced. The seasonal menu may include steamed sea urchin with espresso foam or black truffle with raw hazelnuts and pea shoots."

I'd say that description is spot-on.

Other "hot tables" featured by T+ L:

Septime: Justifiably famous 
Clamato (also by) Bertrand Grebaut, casual, next door, with its focus on fresh seafood, is first come, first served. The crab fritters and maple syrup tart have become instant crowd-pleasers.
Chef James Henry's flair on the grill at Bones is the only hint at his Australian origins; his house-made charcuterie, baked bread, and cultured butter are far from regional farms and producers.
With a willingness to dial up the spice, Le Servan specializes in updated bistro classics in a slick white-on-white dining room. The fried quail is lacquered in soy and honey, beef bouillon is served with a wonton--nods to Asian cooking that never feels like gimmicks.
A sous-chef and a sommelier from the upscale Sergent Recruteur have created a homier, but no less refined, version of the same locavore cuisine at the tiny neighborhood bistro Les Desereurs. Portions are generous in dishes such as poached, line-caught grouper with peas and fava beans in a milt yuzu foam.
The "Essential Paris" guide also includes Boutiques T + L loves, go-to flea markets, recommended museums and patisseries offering "star-studded sweets." For me, a list of recommended restaurants is an essential resource to have on hand when exploring different cities. Stumbling into local joints is always a treat, but I like to be prepared with insider eating tips. 

Below is a list of restaurants the hubby and I hit up, in addition to David Toutain, on our recent trip to Paris:
Perfect bistro meal. Jovial staffers treat you like family. Get the house wine and don't miss the chocolate mousse.
Go for drinks and dessert. Then stroll along the canal and see local students socializing by the water.
Cool scene but waitstaff only reluctantly provides English menu translations. Understandable, but still... Small tapas-like plates. Mix of locals and tourists.
One of the best culinary experiences in recent memory, but expect to be surrounded by fellow tourists.

I've also heard fabulous reviews of Frenchie, and I have an extremely long list of other Paris food recommendations which I compiled using a few jetsetter friends' contributions. And of course, pick up the September T + L for lots of delicious info.

Bon app├ętit,
A



["Essential Paris" Travel + Leisure, September 2014]

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mexico


It's officially Fall, but I just finished poring over the Summer 2014 issue of Domino magazine.

Since moving into my current apartment three years ago, I feel like I've really created a home with my (now) husband. Prior to finding our current place, I felt like a perpetual nomad, always in transition. In my first five years after graduating college, I lived in about nine different spots across the Midwest and Northeast. Throughout that time, I didn't exactly put roots down. I stayed in minuscule rooms in friends' apartments. I crashed on family members' couches. I did a brief stint in a studio I disliked so much I didn't bother unpacking. Even when I did land the perfect apartment (we're talking master suite with personal bathroom, doorman, pool, gym...) I still didn't feel like I truly belonged; I was thousands of miles from my family. (Hence the spaciousness and amenities; As everyone knows, you can get serious bang for your buck in Chicago vs. New York.) 

But alas, New York is where I need to be. And now that I've settled here, I'm putting some decor roots down. I'm decorating with meaningful photos and souvenirs from my travels. I'm investing in furniture pieces my husband and I will have forever. I'm trying to keep a clean home with a zen feel, a respite from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. And now that I'm a serious NYC apartment-dweller, I have a newfound appreciation for interior design and I'm cultivating my taste through decorating my small living space. This ironically comes a few years after my having worked at Elle Decor magazine. I enjoyed reading Elle Decor when I was employed at the magazine, but now that I'm focused on making a beautiful home, I read ED as a hungry student. And I don't discriminate among decor glossies. I'm enthusiastic about many design magazines, including Domino, which was recently resurrected.

The Summer 2014 issue of Domino is a treat for anyone looking to learn about home design. One story in particular stood out to me, and not just because of its bright pastel visuals: "South of the Border." This feature is about a young woman from the Northeast, Brittney Borjeson, who visited the Mexican beachside town of Sayulita and ended up staying. Borjeson was drawn to Sayulita's picturesque natural splendor, particularly the Pacific seascape. She can hear the ocean from every room in her home. And this (dream) home is gorgeously designed with white-washed walls and local artisan accents. Borjeson's home seems idyllic, a Mexican gem. 

Mexico itself will always be a special place for me. I used to visit Acapulco annually with my extended family. The trip was a tradition from which I have many fond memories, including days spent reading tons of paperbacks, listening to The Cranberries on my Walkman, dipping in and out of the pool, sipping on virgin strawberry daiquiris, painting pottery and picking out silver at tents pitched along the beach.

Now I'm starting a new family tradition in Mexico: a visit to Tulum each wintertime. My husband and I went last year and fell in love. We're planning our next visit, and I'm already planning on picking up a few special souvenirs for home. 

A








Photos by Brittany Ambridge via domino.com

["South of the Border" Domino, Summer 2014]
 

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