The Smallest One Was Madeline

One of my all time favorite children’s books was “Madeline.” Have you read it? I’m assuming it’s so well known I don’t need to explain the premise to you, but just in case: the story focuses on a young girls boarding school in Paris, and a plucky, precocious girl named Madeline. It’s a testament to how frequently we read it growing up that I can recite the opening from memory to this day.

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. In two straight lines they broke their bread and brushed their teeth and went to bed. They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad and sometimes they were very sad. They left the house at half past nine in two straight lines in rain or shine — the smallest one was Madeline.

The book was written by Ludwig Bemelmans, an Austrian born writer and illustrator who is said to have named the title character after his wife, Madeleine Freund. He wrote 50 books, seven of which are the beloved Madeline series. Only six were published in his lifetime; the seventh was found after his death and published more than 30 years posthumously.

The illustrations in “Madeline” are just as charming as the story itself. I remember having a VHS tape of the original story, which used the same illustrations as in the book. I wonder where it wound up.



Only Bemelmans could have made having your appendix out something to envy as a child. It was quite the event, and Madeline got lots of presents and wore cute pajamas and had the teeniest little scar.

He also illustrated 16 New Yorker covers. I would love a copy of the first one with the Eiffel Tower in the background.


In 1953 he bought a small bistro on the Île de la Cité and painted murals on the interior walls. He sold it a few years later, and the murals were lost when the building was converted to a cabaret. The only other public mural work Bemelmans made was at the bar at the Carlyle Hotel in New York (at the now aptly named Bemelmans Bar) for which he negotiated a year’s worth of accommodations in exchange for his artwork. He painted whimsical scenes from Central Park, including a familiar face:



1 / 2

Bemelmans died at the too-young age of 64. His grandson, John Bemelmans-Marciano, has continued the “Madeline” series with five new titles; Madeline has even visited the White House. I can’t wait to read these stories to my own child, one day.

Books Books Books


If my mother is any indication, retirement means you get a new full-time job of sending your daughter funny images through Facebook messenger. I get adorable monkey videos, ecards mostly making fun of my math skills, and gems like the one above. If that is not the single most apropos thing ever, I don’t know what is.  The need to buy every book in Barnes & Noble is sometimes too great to handle, though I usually find  a way to manage and generally buy at least one a week. My “to read” pile is getting out of hand. Especially since I renewed my Vanity Fair subscription and am making a concerted effort to read it cover to cover, on top of the Sunday New York Times that generally takes me a week to finish (and I only read the good sections).


SO. Remember that time I stalked met Gary Oldman? Wait, side-note: no, I will never ever stop talking about meeting Gary Oldman because it was the most ridiculous and amazing thing that I’ve ever orchestrated has ever happened to me and I will pimp that ish until the day I die. Do you want to see the picture of us together? Thought you’d never ask!


Omfg his bow-tie. I just wanna love you, Gary Oldman!

Moving on.

He was in town filming a movie with Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss, and Miley Cyrus’s on-again-off-again fiancé. That movie, titled “Paranoia,” officially has a trailer. Let’s watch, shall we?

There are lots of things to talk about. One, he has a British accent in the movie, but it’s a more affected version of his normal British accent. It’s like an American playing a southerner, only classier and more fabulous because it’s Gary Oldman being more British. Second, I watched the trailer approximately 30 times today alone and every time I tell myself I’m going to pay attention to the plot and I invariably end up drooling over Gary Oldman instead. But from what I can gather it’s like “Air Force One” only instead of the Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman playing the President and a Russian terrorist, respectively, they’re playing rival business tycoons using Miley Cyrus Guy as bait? And Sawyer from “Lost” is in it, and there are a lot of shots of Philly in the trailer, as well. So basically I have no idea what’s happening other than GARY OLDMAN IS FANTASTIC. I’m not going to bother seeing it in the theater when it comes out, though….

…..Just kidding, of course I’m going to!




Want more Gary Oldman eye candy? Check out previous posts here (my personal favorite is Gary Oldman in Paris) or my Pinterest board.

500th Post

No, it’s not this one. It actually occurred last week, and you’d think for so auspicious a milestone I’d have kept my eyes peeled. Not the case, and I didn’t even realize I’d hit 500 posts until this weekend. I’d always figured I’d make a bigger stink about my 500th post, that there would be fanfare and a humongous sense of accomplishment. And then I missed it entirely. I’ve been blogging for over two years now, and blogging every day for the past 18 months. I guess I sort of forgot about milestones and was just going with it.

Are you curious to know which post marked the big 5-0-0? It is ridiculously fitting.



















A post about the New Kids on the Block. I have never been more proud.

I’m also insanely grateful to all of you who hang around here everyday, who read and comment and don’t judge me for being obsessed with things such as macarons, Gary Oldman, or Paris. Or, of course, the NKOTB. Here’s to the next 500. Yikes.

Exclamation Marks


This was perhaps the single most hilarious sentence I’ve read in years (with the exception of a passage from Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” on libeling someone in your story: “And the best advice I can give you is to give im a teenie little penis so he will be less likely to come forth.”) and if this doesn’t pique your interest in reading a book about punctuation, I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends. Yesterday, I had the urge to use an exclamation mark in a scene I was working on, but realized that if the dialogue was good enough and the writing was good enough, I didn’t need to. I shouldn’t have to sound a large foghorn to let the reader know a character yelled something. “In here!” vs. “In here,” he called. Though that last bit goes against another writing tip I try to live by.

File “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” under “Books I Adored.”

Wedding Venue

As promised, here is where we are getting married:

It’s the first place we saw, when we got back from Paris and started the hunt. Immediately when I walked in, I knew. This was the place. There is a courtyard and garden and a gorgeous Victorian house, and we get full reign over all of them for the day. It’s a few blocks from our house, my nail salon, my hair salon, a stone’s throw from the park, and down the block from a hotel. It’s perfect. I cried. Jamal, on the other hand, needed to see other options. Not because he didn’t love the place (he did),  but because the man is incapable of making a decision without exhausting every other option. And making a spreadsheet. My future husband, ladies and gents. I don’t doubt he had a spreadsheet about me.

So we saw five or six other options, and I was mostly doing it to humor him. My heart was stuck on the first place. And wouldn’t you know it, I was right! We have well over a year and a half to get everything else in order, though, so I’m not sweating the details at this point. We have the freedom to pick our own caterer and buy our own alcohol, which is preferable to being locked into an exclusive caterer (those of you who have gotten married understand how much they can gouge you on price simply because they’re your only option).

So, yeah! Step one: pick a venue, accomplished! I already have my dress, so I guess I can cross of step two? I’ll show it to you another time. What a tease.

Citron de Vigne


Last week was my best friend’s birthday, and I bought her, among other things, this rollerball perfume from Fresh. I tried on the tester in Sephora and fell in love; the scent is ‘Citron de Vigne’ and it’s the most delicious summer fragrance. It’s “inspired by Reims, France’s Champagne region” and is a mix of “Neroli, Bitter Orange, Pink Grapefruit, Pinot Noir Accord, Jasmine Tea Leaves, Lemongrass, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Amber.” That’s a lot of smells, I know, but I was hooked. I couldn’t stop talking about it.

Jamal came home on Friday afternoon with two surprises. The first was a tube of the perfume for me (!! this is a bad precedent, Jamal. I will start talking everything to death until you buy it for me) and the second was a packet of paper. Seemingly not exciting, until I read it; Jamal had officially put a deposit on a wedding venue. I’ll share more details tomorrow, but it was the place I had my heart set on.

This post has no point other than I wanted to brag a little bit about how good I smell now and how lucky I am to have a Jamal in my life. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday Tunes (I Still Love the New Kids on the Block)

A lot.

Did you forget? Maybe you need a litte refresher (here and here). My love for the “five bad brothers from the Beantown land” (as they refer to themselves in the 1991 hit “Games”) has been a pervasive and defining element throughout my entire life. Though I was too young to go to a New Kids on the Block concert before they broke up in 1994 (I was 8), I have consistently stoked the fire of my burning love for them for the last 20 years. I had the bed sheets and comforter. I had the Barbie dolls. The CDs. The trading cards. And then, years after they broke up, I had a serious problem letting go of them, so I didn’t. My dad and I belted out their songs in the car, instead.

I always held out hope they’d reunite. And in 2008, after 13 years apart, they did! With a new album and a tour (Lady Gaga was the opener for the opener, and no one knew who she was back then). I went to a show that year, and I feel that the only way to accurately describe what I felt is with the power of their beautiful lyrics: “Didn’t I blow your mind this time? Didn’t I? Didn’t I do it baby… didn’t I do it baby?” OH. YOU DID, BABY.

It was like poetry in the form of five late-30-something grown men skilled at synchronized dancing. It was, in a word, MAGICAL.








So yeah. They’ve gone on a few tours since, and their current tour includes Philly-natives Boyz 2 Men. They played here Saturday night, and there was no way I couldn’t NOT go. And lo, it was good. I didn’t bring my camera this time, from a combination of fear it would get confiscated upon entry and desire to just experience the force of their boyband skillz without being behind a camera (I did snap one lone Instagram). They played all the hits. There was hip-thrusting. A rendition of “Hot In Here.” And! And! At the very end of their TWO HOUR set, Boyz 2 Men came back out and they all sang “Motown Philly” together. It was a trip!

At the risk of being judged for this: the New Kids are hot. If anything, they’re hotter at 40-something than they were at 20. Observe:


Maybe it’s the suits. But Donnie was shirtless for a good portion of the concert, so it’s clearly more than the clothes. A swagger that comes with age? I’m like an inch away from using the “a fine wine” analogy, somebody stop me.

Today is Tuesday, and even though we’re three days removed from the concert, I have not left the haze of New Kids music (Jamal will tell you all about it). Herewith, the first single from their new album, “10.” The video is delightful and the song itself is pretty great. And they’re in suits! It’s fantastic.

I love these guys. Always have, always will. And I don’t care who knows it.




Father’s Day has proven to be a pretty difficult day for me the past seven (seven? shit, man) years. It’s more manageable than, say, my dad’s birthday, or even the anniversary of the day he passed away. And sometimes I feel guilty for not being more sad, but that’s stupid; I know he wouldn’t have wanted me to feel sad or guilty. Yesterday was actually a pretty good day: I spent the day on a high from the New Kids on the Block concert I went to on Saturday night (more on that tomorrow) and laughing about all the times my dad and I drove around listening and belting along to the New Kids Greatest Hits, eight years after they had broken up. My dad did great back-up vocals for “The Right Stuff” in case you were curious. He was good at a lot of things, not least of which was putting up with and even sharing my totally un-ironic obsession with NKOTB (though he stopped short of letting me stalk them out during our annual summer trips to Boston, rude.). I miss him every single day, to the point where some days it smothers me and I feel like I’ll never be able to dig myself out of the absolute bleakness of the fact that at some point I will have lived more years without him than with him. And that’s a reality I’m not okay with yet. But there was also a time when I thought I would literally die from grief, and the only upside to the distance that’s inserted itself between me and his death is that it gets microscopically easier every year.

So yesterday wasn’t terrible. I wrote another 1,500 words of my book. Fitz had a play-date and didn’t make a total idiot out of himself or end up in time-out too much. I cleaned my bathtub. And yeah, I listened to a lot of New Kids. I lived. That’s the best way I know to honor my daddy. Miss you, daddy-o.