Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve.

Fashion-wise, by the end of the holiday season, I've got nothing left.  Hence, this ensemble for dinner at our neighbor's house.  Please note:  Geoff and I are still working on the photography angle.  I can't bear to see my face in these photographs, so in this case, you miss the fact that there were some awesome Stella & Dot earrings making quite a statement for me.  Alas.


Geoff thinks I looked like Dieter from Saturday Night Live.  He may have a point, but with the skinny pants, turtleneck and flats, I was aiming at least for a little Audrey Hepburn.  A little tip for those moments when you're feeling your least creative: dress in a single, neutral color.  Honestly, it looks instantly sophisticated and requires no analyzation, the simpler the better.  Leonardo da Vinci said, 'Simplicity is the highest form of sophistication'.  I must agree.  Plus a single color hides the fact that you may or may not have polished off an entire baguette on your own while cleaning the kitchen.

And now to New Year's Eve.

I no longer feel the slightest need to ring in the New Year from anywhere but my own couch.  To be honest, home has always felt most right to me for the occasion.  There have been those times in life when I've found myself at a crowded party, a city bar, or even an event at a total stranger's home dressed in something festive, eye makeup smudging, feet throbbing from the shoes that looked so cute when I bought them.  Usually the guy who was 10 years older than anyone else in the room, and possessing an abundance of facial hair, was inching closer as midnight approached.  I wanted nothing more than to get home, wash my face, slip on my jammies and socks and get out a good book.  Admittedly, I'm an introvert.

I have loved the different iterations of New Years we've experienced while raising kids.  My all time favorite are those wonderful ages when they are old enough to want to stay up til midnight and have perhaps set a little resolution for themselves that we might discuss, but they haven't started to feel like they should be doing something for the evening.

We have finally hit that do something point.  And, as a result, we'll be hosting a little teen soiree here this evening.  Geoff and I have determined that we will do whatever we can to make sure our house is a place kids want to hang out.  So today, that means Geoff will be hooking cable up in the basement by himself. Comcast assures us this is simple to do (insert nervous laughter).  And I will be out with Eliza and JD picking up party fare.  We think hosting something here is a nice compromise.  The kids can be with their friends but we still have them under our roof.  I'll take it.

I wish you all peace, love and joy for the New Year.  I really appreciate all of you reading this blog and I hope there will be times in the New Year the blog will make you happy.

gratitude:  The Smitten Kitchen cookbook, coffee, pencils, gas fireplaces

thanks and love.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Perspective.

The kids have both gone skiing with friends for the day.  Each with associated sleepovers.  I must say, I think at this point a little break is good for everyone.  Of course, yesterday when these plans began to develop, I wasn't such a gracious parent with a peaceful mind-set.  I was a shrew.

While the day after Christmas is blissfully quiet and relaxing compared to the holiday pace of previous days, the day after the day after Christmas,  was not (for me) a real delight.  I truly felt like Cinderella at the strike of twelve.  My chariot was a pumpkin and my footmen were only mice.

Laundry hadn't been done for days and alpine peaks of darks, lights, colors and hot whites filled my upstairs hallway like a really soft mountain range.

The hand washing from Christmas dinner still waited on the kitchen counter.

The taste of turkey and brisket was no longer mouthwatering.

I hadn't quite mustered the energy to bring the bins up from the basement and begin the holiday deconstruction process.

I was wearing pajama pants and a coffee-stained t-shirt until 3:00 p.m.  With unmatched socks.

I might have been a tad crabby.

When the ski trips were spontaneously suggested, I wasn't immediately ready to say yes.  I, admittedly, was a little mopey about the prospect.  I wanted more time together, but why should they pass up an opportunity to play in the mountains for a day or two during break?  So, after some light begging from the children, I relented and they were off.  Of course, only after a rushed load of darks for JD and a trip to Breeze for Eliza.

I know the kids are having fun and that makes me happy.  I still crave more time together, but I do feel that after a little time away the kiddos are a tad more eager to prioritize family time.  The wing-spreading of older children is a poignant part of life.  
That is why being present to this very moment is so so so important.  Life offers some really helpful reminders, doesn't it?

And now Geoff and I can enjoy a day together as well.  We're going to lunch (where we may avail ourselves a cocktail) and I'm wearing this:


It's a little riff on something I saw in a display at Loft.  Sometimes it's best to not try to reinvent the wheel.

I'm also going to use this quiet time to work on plans for 2013.  I've been really into the insight on goal setting that Danielle LaPorte offers.  She talks about thinking about how you want to feel in life rather than what you want to do.  The reason you set goals to achieve is because you want to feel a certain way after achieving them.  The feeling is the most important part.  Very interesting idea.  You may want to check it out.

gratitude:  perspective, large capacity washer/dryers, dates with Geoff, cell phones

thanks and love.






Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day.

The day after Christmas tends to be a bit of a downer for some, but I actually like it.  I have felt the post-holiday blues in the past, but have devised a plan to prevent that from happening as much as possible.

Starting on the ride home from Thanksgiving dinner, I go hardcore holiday.   I'm talking only Christmas music, holiday events every weekend, tree up ASAP, holiday movies,  skating, cookies, shopping and entertaining.  I love every minute of it - it's truly an all-out holiday blitz.  That way, when Christmas is over I'm ready for it.  I've had my fill of festivity and I'm ready to take back my house, get rid of the crispy evergreens strewn about, throw out the cookies and fudge, the candy canes and nog.  After days, nay weeks, of socializing and events, I welcome a breather.  There are lots of nice to gifts to enjoy, plenty of food in the fridge and there is a little extra time to contemplate the new year (love those new beginnings and fresh starts!).

We had a great holiday and I hope all of you did too.  Christmas Eve was wonderful.  During our traditional group reading o' the classic Christmas book, we went for extra credit and read both The Night Before Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.   My son JD read the Grinch's lines while channeling his inner Nicholas Cage.  It was perfect.  And that's high praise. I wore this:



I was inspired by Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada.  See:



I liked it and the pearls I was wearing belonged to my grandmother so that made me happy.  Finding fashion inspiration in movies is kind of a fun way to get your creative juices flowing.  However, the fact that I dressed like Annie Hall in middle school may explain why my house was TP'd so often.  For instance:

 Please do consider your setting and audience.


Christmas Day was a crazy fun blur of wrapping paper, music, eating, drinking, laughing and sweating (because of the ping pong and Just Dance 4).  We ate an hour and a half late.  Apparently, Geoff was torn between his ping pong prowess and his turkey frying responsibilities.  I'm glad we have such an easy-going family.  It was fabulous.

Enjoy this Boxing Day - a day off from our holiday tasks.  Hey, we still have a big fryer full of oil in our backyard so we're planning to scare up some crispy vittles later.  We're classy like that.

gratitude:  board games, ipads, large trash bags, the dishwasher (we are on load 532, I think)

thanks and love.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Merry.

Hark!  I do believe I hear herald angels singing or reindeer hooves on the roof or is that the sound of the fire alarm because my pancetta is burning?  Not that the pancetta actually caught fire, let's just say there will be some crispy nuggets of hammy goodness in tomorrow's breakfast casserole.  I hope no one breaks a tooth.

It's go time.  Here is our tree.  The lights are still off at the top and will remain so for the duration of the holiday.  Alas.


Tonight we start a two-day holiday fest at our house.  One of our favorite activities on Christmas Eve is a reading circle featuring a dramatic rendition of T'was The Night Before Christmas or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  Everyone gets to read a page wearing a Santa hat.  Our family is so full of performers it really takes on quite a competitive air.  There are pages read in accents, real tears are shed, sound effects used, etc.  Who knows where it will take us this year?  No one has called to ask about the possibility of a pyrotechnic display, so it still feels manageable.

We'll eat, drink and be merry.  We'll also play a lot of competitive ping pong.  We'll wear paper crowns too.  So much to enjoy.  I wish you all the very best holiday.  Be safe.  Be happy.  And thanks for reading my little blog.

gratitude:  holiday snow storms, make ahead mashed potatoes, the fact I haven't eaten the mashed potatoes, togetherness

thanks and love.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Is It Christmas Yet?

Wow.  Impressive start to a blog, huh?  After nearly a week, I'm giving it another go.  It just seemed so icky talking about the silliness in my life after everything that occurred on Friday.  I've decided to just push forward for the sole purpose of not wallowing in all that darkness.  I think we all need to bring more light to the world. There is so much bad energy right now - every bit of love, humor, compassion, positivity, etc.  will help the cause of peace.  And so...

We have a tradition of making gingerbread houses during the holidays.  In years past, we did a boys vs.  girls competition.   This year it was every man for himself.  Looking back I see the overall appearance of these houses as a foreshadowing to how our recent week has progressed.  I present you our homes.



Indeed, there are two houses that look pretty good.  But then, you notice one house has only half a roof done.  The builder of that home ended up with a four-day stomach flu that commenced during roof application.  The pretzel house (or Jamestown/little pig house of sticks) is only half done - the builder of that home walked away after the roof collapsed three times.  Mood, not good.  Anyway, we leave them up as a tribute to our efforts.  Geoff and I can't decide who won this year.  Frankly, no one really wants it.  It would be a hollow victory.

As indicated by the gingerbread houses, things weren't going to go as smoothly as we had planned this week.

The lights we so smartly hung on our back fence just a day after Thanksgiving have gone out.  A thorough investigation has taken place - there is no obvious cause.

The freak wind storm we enjoyed prior to the snow has blown away one of the big, silver balls that served as a centerpiece in one of the two urns outside the door to our back yard.  We went from chic to shabby instantly.  Worse yet, I have left the remaining ball in place - why?

The lights at the top of our Christmas tree are out.

Both Geoff and I asked each other the other day "What is that in the shower?"  Clearly it's time for a thorough cleaning.

Stomach flu.  It's a miserable experience.  At one point I was disinfecting the door to the bathroom ('nuff said).  But, parenting teens means we don't always get to be super-nurturing, so it's kind of nice to be able to care for one of your babies that way again.

Fashion (normally a refuge for me) has been an issue as well.  Let me explain.

The kids need something for the holiday that's a tad more formal than leggings or shorts.  I found a super cute combo for Eliza - a sequined French stripe shirt paired with a pleated organza skirt.  Darling, I thought.  Sort of a festive French Resistance look.  It was not well-received.

We headed out late yesterday to scramble to find something she liked.  At 14, short and tight are key words in fashion.  I want to accommodate those style needs as I have learned myself, the day comes when short and tight is to be avoided at all costs.  We needed something that met her needs for skimpy and my needs for family photo appropriate.  We ended up in one of those shops that must have a large clientele of drag queens or something.  Who needs a size 14 pair of leopard print platform pumps?  Anyway, we found a dress that literally cost less than a pair of underwear - "Is it supposed to be disposable?", I thought to myself.  I am going to assume so.  We'll jazz it up with some Stella & Dot - a true test to the power of a good accessory.

As an aside, I have found those Naughty Ned photos soooo funny this year.  Here are a couple of my favorites.



The last one really captures a bit of our holiday this year.  I have an ever-growing itunes collection of holiday hits - ranging all the way from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the London Philharmonic to Jimmy Buffet and Cee Lo Green.  This year JD added the lovely 'D**k in a Box' from Saturday Night Live.  Warms the heart.

Here is our elf.



I didn't know the red elf was Ned.  I placed him by the liquor in our butler's pantry (we have no butler - of course) and now I'm concerned I should have marked the level in the bottles.  He does look suspicious, doesn't he?

Nonetheless, I love the holidays.  I always feel as we near the big event like I'm trying to land a plane that's coming in too fast.  I'm too hot!  It's not going to work!  Pull up the nose!  Foam the runway!!  But somehow it always works out.  We just pour more wine, dim the lights, light some candles and hope no one wants to use our shower.  It's just so nice to be together, to laugh, to create memories and to be grateful.

gratitude:  the snow on the ground/blue sky combo, family dinners, wrapping paper with lines on it

thanks and love




Friday, December 14, 2012

Fa-la-la-la Leopard.

I ventured to the mall yesterday. I try to limit my holiday mall shopping to one maybe two trips a season.  I'm a huge fan of online commerce.  I love turning on my Christmas music, sipping a glass of wine and filling my cart with online treasures.  But some shopping must be done in person and yesterday was my day to tackle that task.  I wore this:


I love a leopard print.  Some people say it's on its way out, but I disagree!  This topper is one of my favorites. It looks like something Mrs. Hannigan would wear in a high school production of Annie.  Light coats like this add so much to a wardrobe because you can layer them over the simplest of basics and really give an outfit some pop.  Look for something with great color or pattern - maybe details like ruffles or buckles. Then throw it over all black, all white, a combo or just jeans a t-shirt - the simpler the base layer the better.  And, if you need a costume for Annie, call me.

Speaking of shopping at the mall...when did I get so old?  Has anyone else had this experience?  I went to the store that greets you with black and white photos of college freshmen canoodling - the one you can smell 100 feet away.  I was approached by an employee who, at first glance, appeared to be walking on his hands because his jeans were so short and skinny they looked like sleeves.  He mentioned something about a sale that required advanced math but the music was so loud I couldn't really hear him - I just smiled and nodded.  I needed sweatpants.

The store was dark, so I blindly felt my way along a wall searching for something that felt like sweats.  When I touched on a familiar texture, I had to get out my iphone to light the area I was in to get a better look.  The pants looked right, but they didn't have the size I needed.  I could find it online, I was told.  "Of course I can," I thought to myself and stumbled back out into the mall gasping for air and rubbing my eyes as they began adjust to the light.

Seriously.  How could anyone work in an atmosphere like that?  I clearly don't have what it takes to shop in those conditions.  It has passed me by.  I need more light and less sound.  No matter how cute or stylish I feel when I head out to shop, I may just be an old woman in a crazy, leopard coat.

Gratitude:  beautiful sunrises, leftovers, online shopping

thanks and love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gratitude, Mostly.

I've read in several books about the importance of gratitude and I've tried for years to be as present as possible to all the goodness in my life - I think having kids really makes you aware of the passing of time and the need to be in the moment NOW.  Even in the midst of parenting teens I feel deep in my bones such gratitude for being blessed with Eliza and J.D.  I know other parents can relate.  And I know the gifts don't end there.  My heart is filled with love not only for my kids, but for Geoff as well.  And for our health, our families, our friends, our home, and on and on and on.



So, when I read that writing down three or four things you are grateful for each day would increase your sense of abundance and joy and very possibly your actual abundance and joy, well, I was in.  Who couldn't use a little more abundance and joy?   However, as I'd begin to list my three, Eliza, J.D. and Geoff were all I ever had room to include - I certainly couldn't not include them, right?  It felt good that they had their place of honor, but somehow that list just didn't really capture that day in particular.  Where to put the rest of the people who touched my life?  What about something small that still made me feel good?

That's when I came to an Understanding.  Eliza, J.D. and Geoff would always have the top spots - their positions were guaranteed.  As were the concentric circles of love and gratitude for my parents, brother, friends, in-laws, etc.  My pets too.  Now, when I record my three or four gratitude subjects, I feel free to look at each day in particular knowing that, even if they aren't listed formally, the thankfulness and complete love for my family, etc. is a given.

Doing this has helped me see things in more detail.  And it's kinda fun.  Give it a go - I think it's a good way to think about the day.  It couldn't hurt, right?

Gratitude:  new, old friends, iphones, holiday scents (aka; my pot of Goodness)

Two more things.

I had lunch today with a wonderful new, old friend.  Carla.  She and I grew up in the same neighborhood, but reconnected only last January through Stella & Dot.  It's been so fun to come together as an adult with someone you last saw in your teens.  She is truly a lovely person and I'm lucky to know her.  I wore this:


The look is kind of like if Mr. Rogers and Rhoda Morgenstern had a love child.  I love a dress over jeans.  Try it sometime.  It really increases your wardrobe options.  If you can wear something as a dress and as a top - you'll enjoy more bang for your fashion buck.  Plus, you can do a skinny jean without fear because the dress hangs longer than a normal top - no one can see your bum.  Bonus.




Regarding the holiday scents I am ever so grateful for - give this a go.  Put the peel of of a whole orange (I use a couple clementines because my children eat about 234,345,345 of them a day), the peel of half a lemon, some cinnamon sticks and about a tablespoon of whole cloves in a saucepan.  Fill it with some water and put it over a low heat on your stove.  Instant coziness and holiday aromatherapy.  Enjoy!

thanks and love.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ah, Monday.

Mondays get a bad rap.  I kinda like the fresh start aspect of the day.  If you struggle with Mondays, try changing your approach.  Set some reasonable goals for yourself and make an effort to accomplish them.  No need to shoot too high today, good gravy we're just coming off a weekend.  And I've heard Tuesday is the most productive day of the week anyway, so what's Monday got to prove?  I think if we feel like we did what we set out to do on Monday, then the rest of the week stands a better chance of following suit.

Because my life is so glamourous, if everyone has clean underwear to wear tomorrow, I will have accomplished one of my goals for Monday.  Fingers crossed.

On a different note, we had another jam-packed weekend in the West!  Friday Geoff and I attended a very fun holiday party where I laughed so hard my face hurt.  I wore this.


That is indeed a simple gray t-shirt jazzed up with layered statement necklaces (Stella & Dot's Estate Bib atop the Lillith Fringe).  I liked this look and it proves a gray t-shirt can be made festive, I think.  I also think people shouldn't fear statement necklaces.  I'm not a big person and I had two on - I felt sorta happening. 

On Saturday Uncle Jon and the kids went skating.  It was freezing cold.  Geoff and I ate dinner nearby, enjoyed a couple glasses of wine in a cozy restaurant then quickly zipped by the rink to snap this shot.   Needless to say, the skating wrapped up quickly and we had everyone over for an impromptu sleepover.  The least you can do for someone who has braved freezing temps and a public skating rink is offer them a night on your couch and a breakfast of frozen waffles, right?


We capped of our weekend with our 2nd Annual Cooking Baking Day.  It was a great time and reminded me how important it is to create some traditions around the holidays.  I feel because this was the 2nd annual event for us, it is officially a tradition.  However, I'm not sure we'll be bringing back the "cookie dare" next year.  Participants weren't feeling their best today.


Gratitude:  heating pads on my feet, snow, kitchen islands, jigsaw puzzles

It's Meatless Monday!  We'll be enjoying Ina Garten's Provencal Tomatoes and some pasta.  Maybe some rosemary white beans for a little added protein, if I'm feeling aggressive.

thanks and love.


Friday, December 7, 2012

A Start.


minutiae.

…little details from my world.

So this is my blog.  I started it because I’ve really missed writing.  Journaling helped for a while, but I was talking to myself which, combined with the ongoing chat I share daily with Me, started to feel a bit like an echo chamber (and made me feel slightly crazy to boot).  I also wanted a creative outlet for all the bits and pieces I happen upon during my days.  From thoughts on fashion and style, to food and d├ęcor, to inspiration, health and family – I collect things from other blogs, books, websites, magazines and my own life.  I will put some of that info here.  Take what interests you.  What I say may not always be what you need, but sometimes it might hit the right spot.

I’m not sure exactly how to do this, so please keep an open mind.  I’ll try to share a little bit each day and maybe these pieces will eventually come together to form something.  Either way, it’s all minutiae.