Ignoring the fact that it’s Halloween (because we all know how I feel about Halloween, though I am TOTALLY wearing a turtleneck today accidentally), let’s take time to appreciate this beautiful apartment for sale in Stockholm, for an unfathomably reasonable $350k. Dark wood floors, white walls, farmhouse dining table, and gentle gray touches in the bedroom make this apartment the perfect, dreamy space despite only being 500ft2 (51m2). What more could you possibly need? I’m so in love with those butcher block counters and the vintage lockers in the bedroom for storage. I know that, realistically, there is no “perfect” spot to write, but check out that desk in the living room and try to tell me there isn’t an inspiration vortex lurking in that corner. Could you live here?
Issue #2 of France Property Magazine is now live in the iTunes App store! This month, I featured the grand, historic Chateau d’Aubiry in Céret, nestled in the heart of the Pyrénées-Orientales. Price tag? $28 million.
Surprising absolutely no one, I frequently check the Billboard France list of popular songs whenever I need something new to listen to. I wouldn’t say I’m really “current” in my music tastes (hello, Ace of Base and New Kids on the Block) and I only listen to classical when I put on the radio. So that I’m interested in a Top 10 list of pop music is weird, but then you realize the songs are mostly in French, and suddenly everything makes sense.
Cut to a few weeks ago when, at Billboard’s suggestion, I listened to the new Stromae song, “Formidable.” Stromae is a Belgian artist (his performance name is Maestro in Verlan, a French slang where the syllables of words are reversed), and Yelle and I have bonded over our love of his other songs, including “Alors on Danse.” “Formidable” has been on the charts for 14 weeks, often at the number one position, and it’s obvious why. This song is so damn catchy, despite being rather depressing.
(Something magical happens around the 3 minute mark, when Belgian police make an appearance)
I’m hooked on this song. What are you listening to?
There is nothing more exciting for a city girl than taking a day-trip to the suburbs and wandering an apple orchard. We’ve gone every fall for the past few years (and I went a bunch as a kid, participating in the obligatory hayrides and petting zoos and corn mazes, too) and every year we come back with more apples than we know what to do with. This year we ended up with 8lbs. Eight! It happens faster than you realize, you just keep picking what looks good (and maybe eating one along the way) until voila, you’re schlepping a peck of 30 apples back to the weigh station.
I had a lot of fun, especially getting to spend time shooting with my new camera.
“What was that?” you ask. Oh. Ahem. Yeah. I bought a new camera. (!!!!!)
Do not yell at me (JAMAL). My degree is in Photojournalism! Okay, so I’m not technically a photographer, and I didn’t need a new camera, but I’d been feeling for a while that I’d outgrown my trusty t2i. The next step was going for a full-frame DSLR, like the Canon 6d, but with a price tag of $1895 it just wasn’t smart or necessary. And then last week the price dropped $325 (it still is, too!), and my Chase card was offering 5% back on Amazon purchases, and Amazon was offering 2% back on cameras, and long story short I bought it in a flurry of excitement and guilt-sweat. I LOVE IT. It’s heavy and fast and sharp and beautiful. I used my t2i to take that photo of it, and even after only using the 6d for a week the t2i felt like a toy. And I’m able to use my 50mm lens on the 6d because there is no crop factor. Did I mention I love it?
The temperatures dropped into the 40s and 50s this week, which means I’ve been wearing my fall boots every day along with a wool coat and scarf. I am beyond excited. To go along with the fall weather, tomorrow we’re going pumpkin and apple picking like we do every year. Then we’re hitting up IKEA to look at a potential new sofa, then tomorrow night is the ballet! Sunday will hopefully look a lot like that photo above, from my Instagram.
How do people find the time to write or devote themselves to their creative pursuits with a full-time job? I only really have Sundays, when all is said and done. Sundays are my writing days. I’ve come to love them even more than I did before, it’s the day I look forward to the most, but it’s also a lot of pressure for one day. I tend to beat myself up a bit if, when I finally emerge for dinner after locking myself at my desk for the day, I haven’t written “enough.” I recently read that a first time author’s novel shouldn’t exceed 80-100k words, which is both a good end point and also insanely daunting. It took me a year to get to 31k, and that’s not an accurate representation because of all the sucky parts I’m going to have to cut. Does someone have a magic wand? Or perhaps a grant equal to my salary + benefits they can bestow on me so I can take a year off and work on nothing but this novel?
What are you up to this weekend? Make it a good one, kiddos!
She is last spring’s art history graduate…She spends her day reading The Art Newspaper, answering the phone, and saying “Can I help you?” in a tone of voice intended to cause window-shoppers to flee. One reason she is defensive is to fend off the rhetorical question from browsers: “Who buys this stuff?” She has been instructed as to which classes of people to be explicitly rude to: artists wanting to have their slides reviewed, student groups, women with large hats, cheap handbags, or who arrive in groups larger than two…Snub her as she subs you. She is not the charming and welcoming Charlotte York character in Sex and the City, who worked in an upscale gallery and actually was allowed to talk to customers and solicit new artists.
You know when you read something that is so specific and poignant that it feels as though it was written just for you? That’s how I felt when I read that quote from Don Thompson’s “The $12 Million Stuffed Shark (The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art)” the other morning waiting for the bus. “That’s my protagonist!” I thought. “That’s my Mirette!” There she was, a full (though admittedly more brusque) portrait at the end of a chapter on the role of art dealers in contemporary art sales. It was magic. She exists somewhere else besides my brain.
A few years ago I read a trick somewhere, and I wish I could remember where, but it went something like this: A friend calls you and says they’re in the neighborhood. Can they stop by in about 10 minutes? What do you do? Do you panic, and run around your house straightening up and cleaning and pushing things into closets like that scene in the beginning of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”? Suddenly the mess seems overwhelming; how are you supposed to get ready for company in 10 minutes when you have to spend hours on the weekend cleaning it?
That’s the trick: rather than spending hours doing everything at once (on your precious weekend, no less!) keep your home within 10 minutes of being “guest ready” by doing a little bit every day. For me it’s making the bed every morning, wiping down the bathroom counters with a Clorox wipe, tossing laundry in a hamper, keeping newspapers and magazines stacked and off of surfaces. Then all the “big stuff” that’s left to do on the weekends is vacuuming or mopping the floors, something your guests likely won’t even notice when they pop over unannounced (for the record, this has never actually happened. I just like a clean house and this justifies it, haha).
I’ve also heard a variation on this called the “20 minutes a day” rule, which is sort of the same thing: spend 20 minutes each weekday doing one cleaning task (dusting, scrubbing toilets, folding laundry) so that it never becomes overwhelming all at once. Do you guys subscribe to something similar? It’s so much nicer to walk in the door after work and see clutter-free surfaces and a made bed. What about you?
One of my better life decisions (among making Paris a priority, eating gummy bears for dinner, and locking down Jamal) has been to set my alarm ring tone to this song:
I’m sure I’ve shared it with you before, but in case you’re unfamiliar with the magic that is the Amélie soundtrack, give it a listen. Tell me that isn’t the most delightful thing to wake up to. It somehow manages to rouse me from my sleep while simultaneously allowing me to dream just a little bit longer that I’m here:
If you’ve ever wanted to undertake a total gut-renovation job, on an historic 4300 ft2 townhouse in Saint-Germain no less, now is your chance. The gorgeous bones are still there: the herringbone floors, built-in cabinets, winding staircase. It just needs some love (and perhaps a few million dollars on top of the unlisted, “Price Upon Request” listing) to restore it back to its former glory. I imagine it smells romantically musty and stuffy, and that there are hidden love letters stashed behind the shelves on either side of the original fireplace. Who lived here in the 1890s? Were there grand parties with string music and crinoline skirts? Did that fountain in the courtyard work? Did someone ever fill it with champagne? This house just oozes history and Belle Epoque charm. Want want want.
Here’s something you might not know about me: I danced ballet for 11 years. I stopped when I was a freshman in high school (I promptly gained my weekends back and about 15lbs, finally breaking 100). I had just started en pointe, and yes my feet are a little worse of for it even today. My parents enrolled me at 2 (3?) at the urging of my pediatrician, who was polite in his concern over my knock-kneed-ness, but forceful in his suggestion to straighten that out. Literally. I danced for 7 years under a teacher who graduated from the Royal Academy of Dance, in London, and who once worked with Margot Fonteyn. She was the most terrifying English woman I’ve ever met (Ms. Tonner, not Margot Fonteyn), but damn if she didn’t turn out some fantastic dancers.
Partially traumatizing story: my mother washed my tights with a regular load of wash once, which you’re never supposed to do, and they turned an angry shade of dark pink. Ms. Tonner called me “lobster legs” for months in her alarming accent.
I still miss ballet even 13 years later. I miss darting to the corner to crunch your slippers into the rosin box. I miss buns bobby-pinned and sprayed into a shellacked rock at the back of my head so tightly that not even the fastest pirouette could disturb it. I miss the controlled breathing, the posture, the grace, and that classic ballerina figure. I miss all the French! I miss late Friday evenings and early Saturday mornings spent in the studio, at the barre, classical music filling the large space. I still listen to Shostakovich ballet suites on repeat. This one, performed by the Russian Philharmonic gives me goosebumps:
Also, If I had continued I probably could have crushed someone to death with my thigh muscles. Also also, I know every line of “Center Stage” and don’t you try to tell me that’s not awesome.
So at every ballet recital my nieces have been in the last few years, I get a little weepy and emotional. The studio they attend brings in two professional dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet Company to perform one piece during the recital. Professional ballerinas are a thing of beauty. Unless you’ve seen them in person there’s just no describing it. Immediately after they’d finished at the recital this past June, I said to Jamal, “God, I miss ballet. Why don’t we go to the ballet?!” To which he responded, a few weeks later, with tickets to a George Balanchine production called Jewels for our anniversary. We thought it was tonight, but when we dug the tickets out this morning and checked the date, we realized it’s next Saturday. Oops.