The Story Coaster

storycoaster_gsniderGrant Snider for the NY Times

I saw this illustration at the back of the Book Review in this weekend’s paper and actually laughed out loud. I think I lost it at the “plot hole” loop-de-loop. Or the unicorns kissing and all the discarded garments of clothing outside the “tunnel of badly-written love”! The critical reaction playground? Dead. I love Grant Snider. Let’s not forget his Literary Consolation Prizes.

I don’t want to jinx anything or risk stirring the demons of writer’s block, but writing has been going REALLY, REALLY WELL lately. I broke my 25k word count goal over the weekend, which, while exciting and deserving of all of the awkward dancing around the house I did, interspersed with high-fives from Jamal, it’s still only a quarter of what I think I’ll end up writing. But still, progress!

Giveaway!

Even though this season of Mad Men was pretty disappointing for me (am I in the minority on this one? I didn’t even bother to watch the finale, so maybe I’m wrong), I still can’t get over how elegantly everyone used to dress only 40 years ago. Women in beautiful sheath dresses and gloves, men in hats. I’m not saying I’m chic enough to pull that classic, vintage look off successfully (I’m no Joan Harris, that’s for sure), but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to. Enter Shabby Apple.

Shabby Apple is an online dress boutique that specializes in vintage and retro dresses. The styles are all perfectly Mad Men approved. You can browse their incredible selection of vintage dresses here. And today, they’re graciously offering one lucky reader a $50 gift card to spend on anything they’d like! Personally, I’d go with this “Blighty” polka dot number or this gorgeous lace dress, appropriately named, “With This Ring.”

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To enter:

+ Considering liking Shabby Apple on Facebook and following them on Instagram

+ Leave a comment below telling me which pieces from their collection like you the most

+ Make sure to use a valid email address when commenting so I can get in touch with the winner (you don’t have to have a blog to win!)

The giveaway will run until July 18th at midnight, and a winner will be announced Friday July 19th! Good luck and happy shopping!

Diptyque

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When we were in Paris in March I made a beeline for the Diptyque store on the Avenue Victor Hugo one afternoon, unaware that Jamal was taking me to Colette later in the day to pick up a Diptyque Rose Duet candle and Huiles Précieuses he’d ordered for Valentine’s Day. I left the store with a mini Baies bougie, and he didn’t even say anything or try to talk me out of it. That, my friends, is a good man. I now have more Diptyque products than I will ever need (this is a good problem to have) so I likely won’t have an excuse to go back to the store anytime soon.

However, once I saw these photos of the Diptyque store on Bleecker Street in New York, designed by British designer Christopher Jenner, I started to doubt my decision. Look at that interior! The chandelier is made of empty candle jars and the walls out of 180 hand painted mirrors. As a certified Crazy Candle Lady, I can safely say that store is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen.

I’m On Fire

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I keep a line of post-its on the bottom of my iMac with word count goals. It’s a good way to set tangible milestones when I sit down to write, especially when it doesn’t feel like I got anything done after a particular session. Writing is a lot of just sitting there, I’ve found, typing a few words every five minutes. Deleting them. Rephrasing them. Sneering at them. Starting over. But the post-its keep me on track, and thus far I’ve crossed off four: 15k, 18k, 20k, 22k. And then I set fire to 28k.

Literally.

I did not magically write six thousand words in a single session this past weekend, but I got to take down the 28k milestone post-it. Because while writing, I like to light a mini French baguette candle to ‘set the mood,’ and on Sunday I accidentally slid the candle too close to the bottom of my computer screen. You see where this is going.

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No one should ever leave me home alone. Jamal left that morning for Colombia for a business trip, and I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my privileges with matches from now on. The best part was I wasn’t even in the room when the fire started, so the likelihood that our entire house went up in flames was pretty high. Thankfully, the smell of fresh baguette quickly turned to burning paper and adhesive, and I came back to find a singe mark on my computer (which thankfully came off) and bits of hot pink post-it floating in the candle. And that: that sad, burnt milestone.

Adulthood!

We Went to the Museum

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It’s like visiting old friends again, saying hello to Renoir, and Monet, Degas, Seurat, Pissarro. Keep your churches, your synagogues, your meeting halls; this is my place of worship. I think of all the Sunday mornings spent here with my dad, before playing on the dirt trails of Fairmount park right behind the museum. I think of the tile making class I took here one summer as a kid, painting my own tiles and being amazed at how they came out of the kiln. I think of the times I came a few years ago following an ugly breakup and a year of unemployment, when the only thing I could afford to do, emotionally and financially, was sit in front of Eakins’ “The Gross Clinic” for hours at a time, thanks to our life-long family membership. I think of the unbelievable embarrassment of riches this museum holds, right here in my city, and am staggered. I think of the plan I made 20 some years ago, that if there were ever a world war and everyone was wiped out but I magically survived, I would move into the museum and live among my favorite paintings.

I love museums. I love this museum.

Weekend in Pictures

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I would like to formally request that every weekend be a 4-day weekend, please and thank you. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was so delightfully disoriented and confused as to what day it was from spending the previous two days off, that I almost burst into tears when I found out I still had one more day before Monday. Incredible!

As we’ve done for the past few years, every July 4th Jamal and I have a picnic at his alma mater, with Fitz in tow. I didn’t snap any shots of us spread out on our blanket with our sandwiches and fruit, mostly because it was approximately a billion degrees and we didn’t stay long. Fitz, however, was beyond excited. Look at that face! Friday, as part of my anniversary present to him, Jamal and I went on a 2 hour tour of the Phillies stadium and got to wander the park and the field (unfortunately, we weren’t able to tour the locker room, but I was totally hoping for some player encounters). That night we went out for drinks at a rooftop bar, dinner at our favorite Italian place, and an impromptu comedy show featuring Kevin Nealon. We were exhausted by the time we got home after midnight, but in the best way possible. Have I mentioned before that I love this guy? He’s my favorite. (Jamal, not Kevin Nealon.)

Tomorrow: photos from our museum date on Saturday!

Un Tasse de Thé

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Et deux croissants.

Okay, so today’s photo really is from Paris, a leftover shot I had from our trip in March. Breakfast at Au Rêve cafe in Montmartre, just down the block from our apartment. What I wouldn’t give for a teleporter right this minute. Though I’d probably swap out the green tea for any other kind of tea; I got all flummoxed when the waiter asked “Quelle type?” when I ordered “Du thé, s’il vous plaît,” and ended up saying “vert” instead of “rouge” or “noir.” Ah well.

Happy 4th!

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Happy Independence Day! I suppose it’s just a little bit un-patriotic to post a Parisian-esque picture on such an important day in American history, but I’ll have you know that photo was taken right here in Philly (the city where the nation’s independence was officially declared) at my favorite restaurant outside of Paris, Parc. Today is also my 3rd anniversary with Jamal, and I can think of no more fitting honor than fireworks and a day off from work (though the vintage New Kids on the Block sweatshirt he got me is pretty spectacular, too). Happy anniversary to the best guy I could hope for, the absolute greatest guy to have in my corner, the kind of guy who knows the way to my heart is to buy an NKOTB sweatshirt and tickets to the ballet and a book about Paris. Take that, America.