July 9, 2014

#RawBeautyTalks

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Here I am.  No make-up, no filters and no Photoshop.  I’m participating in #rawbeautytalks.  The message: change the beauty conversation and love the raw you.  

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There are a handful of beauty memories that have stuck with me throughout my life.  Years ago, in my 30s, I wasn’t wearing much make-up, and I happened to be in Los Angeles visiting a cousin.  She asked me why I didn’t wear more make-up.  She said, “You live in New York.  How can you not wear make-up?”  In my mind, I thought, she has a point, I need to represent and package myself in a competitive, fast-paced city like NY.  While I had never allowed that statement to sway me, I still do hear her in my head from time to time when I walk out the door fresh-faced. 

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The second memory took place on a hot summer day, and I spotted the hostess in the restaurant I was dining in.  She was tall, model-thin with a gorgeous afro and wasn’t wearing a lick of make-up.  She was very small-chested, braless wearing a colored tank top.  She was a vision of raw, natural beauty.  She owned every ounce of it.  It was a form of sexy confidence I had never seen before, and one I never forgot.  

Do I cover my grays?  Every three weeks.  Do I think the eyelashes on my right eye that I just curled look better than the straight lashes on the left?  Absolutely.  Do I wish I didn’t have chronic eczema?  No, I wish I didn't.  I have no problem walking out of the house with only moisturizer on my skin but there are moments I feel vulnerable and exposed.   

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My husband tells me I look better without make-up.  He’s a sweetheart, and never makes me feel like he’s looking at the wrinkles, uneven skin tone and red splotches that I know I have in spades.  The other person who looks into my eyes without judgement?  My two year old.  It should be said, it should be shouted, Accept meLove me!  I love myself. 

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June 30, 2014

Family day in Dumbo

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Dumbo is one of our favorite destinations in Brooklyn.  We spent the day with another family whose daughter is the same age as Zoe.  With two toddlers, things can unravel very quickly if a plan isn’t in place.  This was our itinerary:

{ } Met at 2pm (after naps)

{ } Took the train to York Avenue

{ } Walked to Front Street where we had 3pm lunch reservations in the outdoor garden of Gran Electrica.  This was key to the success of our excursion.  Have you ever strolled aimlessly looking for a restaurant with a toddler??

{ } Walked to Jane’s Carousel for a ride on the historic spin.

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{ } Headed to Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.  You can wait on line to buy your scoop inside their landmark fireboat house or stand on a shorter line and get your flavors from their outdoor ice cream cart.  We opted for the ice cream cart. 

{ } As you wait in line, there’s a fabulous open-air, covered area that serves beer and wine.  Sit at bistro table and chairs, and enjoy the view of downtown Manhattan and the East River.

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{ } The kids kicked around a ball in the plaza, ran among the dozen bride and grooms taking photos, and played with the locks left on river fences by the married couples.  The dads drank beer and watched the World Cup on the television set up in the outdoor seating area.  

{ } We packed up and headed home at 6pm.  Happy parents, happy toddlers: it was a perfect day.

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June 28, 2014

Fun Goth Portraits

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Nineteenth century portraits, we’ve all seen them: black and white, nobody ever smiling, upright postures and clothes you could analyze for hours.  I found the whimsical, Tim Burton-esque, children’s version at the Hester Street Fair.  So colorful, they avoid being cutesy with their gothic and quirky characteristics, which I love.  Buttons make google-y eyes on original paintings.  Some come in vintage oval frames, others are paintings on wooden plaques.  Both are equally wonderful in starting a wall gallery.  Check out Naughty and Nice on Etsy.

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June 27, 2014

Hello Friday...Bits 'n Bobs

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Happy Friday!  When I was pregnant with Zoe, I began noticing parents congregating and socializing in our grassy courtyard.  They would have large picnic spreads, adults chatting, kids cavorting and having fun.  I felt a little intimidated.  Did I have to make new friends all over again so that Zoe had kids to play with?  I had heard stories of mommy cliques and mommy drama, and I felt like I was entering high school all over again.  I didn’t want to be friends with people I didn’t care for but I also didn’t want Zoe to be friendless.  I was feeling the once familiar pre-pubescent angst.   

This was before I understood that the parents had kids the same ages and they all grew up together.  Now they were a social unit; family and kids moving together in unison through the grades.  I’m happy to report that I’ve met a handful of great moms.  I feel very fortunate.  They’re generous and kind.  It turns out that I have a good rapport with the ones I socialize with and Zoe has made a few first friends.  I realize now that kids or no kids, people gravitate towards other birds of the same feather and of similar comportment.  Note to new moms: Seeing other kids the same age as yours also helps the conversation to start.  I didn’t have to force a square into a circle.  That was a relief. 

I’ve had my share of moms who didn’t want to be my friend though.   We shared a handful of meals with one particular family.  One day, she and her husband were walking towards us in the neighborhood; she splintered off and sent her husband to greet us.  I guess I wasn’t a bird with feathers like hers.  My feelings weren’t hurt!  Off-put but not hurt.  It’s so great not being 14 anymore because I would have been in pieces.  How liberating it is to be older and wiser, and with a to-do list that keeps you so busy that you brush off the people who aren’t friendly to you, and you appreciate the people who are.  And on that note, some bits 'n bobs!

{ } One dad discovers the difference between being a baby in the 1970s versus today.

{ } I learned how to fold a fitted sheet from Martha Stewart. Here’s another helpful video

{ } 30 commonly mispronounced food names.

{ } Jamie Oliver’s 3 tricks for poached eggs.

{ } Overcome shyness, and turn strangers into connections.

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June 24, 2014

The Best Little Flea Market Guide

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Hand to heart, I found the best little book in the world.  I promise!  Do you love flea markets?  And when you travel, do you research whether there are any antique malls nearby?  {Hello, friend!}  Then you must pick up Pamela Keech’s The Best Flea, Antique, Vintage, and New-Style Markets in America.  She hand-picks the best of the must-see markets spanning from the East Coast to the West.  

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If you’ve ever done a keyword search such as, “antique malls XXState/City/TownXX,” then you know the hodge-podge of information you need to sort through, and that forming an itinerary is painstaking.  Pamela not only gives you an essential organized list of 20 locales across the country but provides advice on what time to arrive, where to park, where to eat and strategies on how to tackle certain overwhelming markets. 

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Here are a few highlights: 

{ } Pamela breaks down how to cover Brimfield (Massachusetts) in a day-by-day itinerary.

{ } In Philadelphia, there's a market which leapfrogs around town intertwining itself with bake sales, neighborhood BBQs and art openings.

{ } There’s an 824-mile yard sale on the oldest highway in America stretching from Maryland to Missouri.

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She goes on to cover other states including North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, California and Washington.  Even if you never hit any of these spots in person, a great armchair adventure is to be had!  One other characteristic about her book is that it’s heavy in content, and small in stature.  This tiny little tome is a charming guide with an insider's feel throughout.  It is definitely worthy of your bookshelf.

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{Photo credits: all photos by Pamela Keech; book cover photo by Annie Schlechter}

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June 20, 2014

Hello Friday...Bits 'n Bobs

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Happy Friday!  Here’s a quote I read today, “Fashion is what you buy.  Style is what you do with it.” I’ve believed this ever since I was old enough to earn my own money at 14, and something I still feel to the core.  I’m not being a drama queen.  Materialism is a black hole in our society, and you can suffocate in it every single day.  Name brand does not automactically equal style.  However, I’m a girl, and it doesn’t mean I’m not fond of seeing what Stella McCartney or Chloé have done lately.  For the record, this is what I admit to owning:  a Marc Jacobs wallet from 10 years ago that I still use everyday; and a purple Prada wallet from an outlet mall that I’ve never used, probably because its so pretty and clean, and I want to keep it that way.

Fashion tells you what you should wear but style is editing that notion, which says, “This is how I will wear your fashion!”  Remember Sharon Stone when she wore Gap {twice!} paired with a designer piece to the Oscars?  It was the shot heard around the world.  I LOVE watching the pre-Oscar shows on the red carpet.  The gowns are beautiful, but it’s less about their great taste, and more about the talent of the designer for drape and silhouette.  

In my book, style outweighs fashion any day.  If you can mix low, mid, high-priced items all over your body, straight out of your closet at one time, then you have an impeccable eye for style.  Kate Moss and the Olsen twins are three, who mix vintage and highbrow, and do it so effortlessly. 

I think it's high-time I pull out the Prada wallet, and pair it with baggy boyfriend jeans from Levis and a vintage cropped leather jacket.  Some bits ‘n bobs for you!

{ } Seriously, how can Cindy Crawford’s daughter look EXACTLY like her?  By the way, her son has awesome flair!

{ } The perfect picnic sandwich with a twist.

{ } 10 decorating mistakes that you can avoid.

{ } Interesting glimpse into Charles Dickens’ personal life, and the mistress he abandoned his family for.

{ } Hurray!  The 2-year-old ate this whole spinach burger.

{photo: a cookie for Zoe’s 2-year-old birthday party by Nikkiikkin}

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June 18, 2014

A Gift for Father's Day

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When days are hectic and you’re living under the daily strain of keeping it all together, sometimes not enough thank-yous are said in our household.  Since Zoe can say ‘Welcome’ or ‘come’ but not ‘thank you’ yet, I guess I’m the one who’s being deficient in the appreciation-expression department!

So for Father’s Day, I culled together 12 photos of my husband and Zoe together, and made a calendar through Artifact Uprising.  The calendar begins in June and runs through May 2015.  After I compiled the images I wanted to use, it took me less than an hour to upload, edit and place my order.  Paper stock is thick and sturdy at 130 pounds.  I particularly liked its eggshell sheen, which gives the images a very subtle softness.  Twelve months come on reclaimed pine fashioned as a clipboard to either lie on a surface or to hang with the magnetic hardware that’s included.  

I imagine my husband will lay the calendar on his desk, and I know it’ll be something he’ll take great joy in seeing every day and every month of the year.  And then, I hope, he’ll be reminded that we are thankful everyday. 

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June 17, 2014

Get ready, set, printables!

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How great are printables?  From labels to gift tags to frameable prints, you can have product in your hands in an instant, straight from your own printer.  Many are free to download, which to me is generous and community-building.  The time and effort it takes to create graphics, and then to give it away for free is indeed a kind act.  Arm yourself with good thick printer paper, and you can end up with nice quality, functional products that are very useful.  Most projects can be printed from your home printer, while others require larger pieces of paper and a visit to your local copy center.  If you move the download file to a portable flashdrive, the copy center will get the job done!

Here are some of my favorite printables right now:

{ } Send a little note ~  tuck a written note in a floral printable that folds into a mini envelope

{ } Calendar ~ download June and visit again for the next month

{ } Proper placemat ~ outlines placement of plate, cup, fork on the left, knife on the right…

{ } Plastic utensil paper bag ~ tuck away unsightly plastic cutlery at your next picnic

{ } Pantry labels ~ give your pantry a coordinated and organized look

{ } Recipe cards ~ vintage-looking recipe cards.  Choose to handwrite the recipe or type it out in Adobe Acrobat

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June 2, 2014

Not Your Mom's Patches

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I would know because I’m a mom, who used to wear patches on my oversized denim jacket in the 80s.  Many were odes to the hot bands of the day: Duran Duran, The Stray Cats, Blondie, Pat Benatar.  I hadn’t thought of that jacket in a very long time but I sure felt like a cool cat whenever I wore it.  

I thought of this jacket and its patches because I happened upon Paulette, who owns Dahlia Soleil at the Hester Street Fair one week.  She crafts some of the hippest iron-on/sew-on appliques I’ve seen in a long time.  She has this wonderful forward-thinking point-of-view: meshing the old crafts of embroidery and crocheting with Photoshop and the digital arts.  The details are wonderfully old-school and simple.

While there’s nothing in my “mom” wardrobe that calls for patches any more, I immediately thought of my toddler Zoe.  These designs are so relevant, streamlined in design and the topics are super fun.  I think a little denim jacket plastered with a few of these would put Zoe early onto the road to coolsville!  And maybe a Blondie one for mom’s good ol’ days.  

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May 23, 2014

Hello Friday...Bits 'n Bobs

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Happy friday!  My hair and my hairdresser have been dating for over 10 years.  It’s been a very successful relationship; he’s followed the trials and adventures over the course of my life, as I his.  I’ve always wondered what I’d do if he ever moved to another country or decided to retire.  What would my hair and I do?  With each visit, I try to glean his level of happiness with his career, whether he’s bored cutting hair 10 times a day, five days a week.  I know my hair requests haven’t changed in a decade, “long layers, bangs at an angle.”  I want to spice up his day, so he won’t be bored, and then not leave me and my hair, so I try to change it up, “Let’s go a little shorter, say an inch off the back.  And maybe some messy layers this time.  I trust you.  Whatever you think.”  

On my last visit, he announced he wanted to get into hat making.  

I said, “Hats?  Do you draw?  I wasn’t aware you had an interest in making hats.”  

“Are you leaving me?” I thought as he showed me pictures of all his fashion sketchwork on his phone.  

I replied, “I’ve always wanted to learn how to make shoes.  I think I could love the process of how a shoe is crafted.”  Good cover!  Don’t let him see you sweat.  

“Yes, I love the idea of working alone.  Not being bothered by anyone.  I could sit home and get lost in my own world.”

We all fantasize about doing something new with our life, and all good things eventually come to an end.  So, for now, I think I’m safe but I remember a life’s lesson: don’t get too comfortable because life rarely stays still for many people, and learn to love hats.  Have a wonderful weekend!  Some bits 'n bobs for you...

{ } A granddaughter’s tribute to her grandmother. 

{ } A photographer takes a pic out of the steeple of the tallest residential building in the world in Dubai.

{ } Rob Lowe wrote a beautiful essay on sending his son off to college. 

{ } Sarah Jessica Parker’s new docudrama on the NYC Ballet looks interesting.  

{ } Love the idea of using a cake stand to display perfume bottles.

{Photo via TISLstyle}

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