Mind sufficiently blown.

Did I ever tell you that I wanted to be an astronaut growing up? I know, shocking that my aspirations weren’t to have a blog and the ability to stay up past 9pm (had I wished for the latter, I would be in a totally different position now). I was always obsessed with outer space. My dad put up glow-in-the-dark starts in the shape of the Orion constellation on my ceiling when I was younger; I can still spot that one in the sky at night. I loved watching Apollo 13 over and over again, going to the Planetarium, eating freeze-dried ice-cream sandwiches, or reading my book about constellations. Also, I really loved the Jetsons, and that counts.

Anyway, my dreams were dashed when it became obvious that my aptitude for math was on par with, say, my New Kids on the Block lunchox (YES, I’M STILL TALKING ABOUT THEM). Which never made any sense to me, because why do astronauts have to be good at math? Does anyone really expect them to solve differential equations while floating around without gravity and drinking lots of Tang? So lame. But you know what isn’t lame? This video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_MSEWUbhtw&feature=share

I watched the entire thing with my jaw on my keyboard. How amazing is that? It makes my heart swell up and I wish we lived in the future where everyone lived in space-pods near Mars or Saturn or something.

Also, it kind of reminds me of Christopher Kane’s Galaxy collection from a while ago. He took actual images from telescopes and printed them on dresses, shirts, and scarves.

The entire line is just so gorgeous and so dreamy. He also had a line of silk scarves, one of which had Orion on it. Because they aren’t carried anywhere anymore, I did some googling and found perhaps the most gorgeous alternative I could have ever hoped for. I gasped audibly when I saw it. If anyone wants to know what to buy me for Christmas, look no further:

from here

I mean, really. How gorgeous is that thing? It also costs way, way less than the Christopher Kane scarves, but I love it just as much if not more. And just as a bonus, galaxy nails!

So now I’m curious. What did you want to be growing up? And do you find yourself drawn to things that are related to that now, later in life? I can’t believe it’s Thursday already. I’ll be back tomorrow with a Friday Five.

(Also, did you notice that I tagged this post as “travel”? It counts, right?)

Friday Five, Halloween edition

I’ll just put this out there, and I am obviously in the minority with what I’m about to admit, but here goes:

I don’t really like Halloween.

Why, you ask? Well, living on my own was an experiment in how many lights I could leave on at night and still sleep; I can’t watch Law & Order when I’m home alone because I just know the evil murdering rapists are hiding in my closet ; I have a paralyzing fear of spiders; I instinctively check on the other side of the shower curtain both when I get home and when I’m in the shower because I’m convinced there is a mass murder with a chain saw waiting for me; and I come from a long line of people who have night terrors. The scariest Halloween movie I can watch is “Hocus Pocus”, and I still have to cover my eyes during the parts where the zombie with the sewn-together lips gets his fingers cut off under a manhole (OMG now I won’t be able to sleep). And that movie was made for CHILDREN!

(You know what else was made for children? “Frankenweenie”, but I screamed uncontrollably for something like 3 days straight after watching the first 5 minutes and still cannot see one of those dogs on the street without losing my shit. All because the dog gets hit by a car, like, 20 seconds into the movie and then has his head sewn back on and then whenever it drinks water and it spurts out the holes in his neck. Classic Tim Burton, but maybe not an appropriate movie for a 4 year old. My father became apoplectic with laughter and I thought Satan had crawled out of the tv and into my eyeballs. And they’re making a remake! WHY. STOP. NO.)

So obviously, I am diametrically opposed to a holiday that fetishizes everything scary and spooky. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have some awesome costumes as a kid, because I did. (And I have pictures to show you on Monday, of my little kid self all decked out in Halloween costumes.)

No, it just means that, at 3, I made my dad put his jack-o-lantern outside because it scared me. And that when friends went to a haunted house for a birthday party in 2nd grade, I stayed outside with the adults, trying not to pee my pants. And that when my dad and I tried to visit a haunted house in BROAD DAYLIGHT when I was 15, I didn’t make it in the door, and the lady felt so bad for me she gave us a refund (this comes up again later). And that all my mom has to do is say “boo” when I can’t see her, with no more intonation that if she were saying “oh” and I will be so startled  I will shriek wildly and drop to the floor. And it means that I don’t care how fake that decorative spider looks, part of me still thinks it is going to spring to life and try to crawl up my nose and lay eggs in my brain, YOU NEVER KNOW.

Overcoming your fears is overrated, kids. That’s why this Friday Five is dedicated to the gentler, less spooky side of Halloween. Because honestly, I had enough trouble with this post as it is.

 

photos from Nightmares Fear Factory

Maybe I lied when I said “gentler,” but this photos are so hysterically funny I just couldn’t help myself, even if they are from a haunted house. This is just genius. Set up a camera at a particularly scary part of the tour, and capture the hilarious faces of the poor idiots who actually paid money to have the bejeezus scared out of them. Talk about capturing the exact right moment! I’ve never seen such unbridled fear and sheer terror in my life. There are 20-something pages of similarly awesome photos in their Flickr stream, and I almost gave myself an asthma attack laughing so hard. Of course, this just further proves my point about why Halloween is the worst holiday ever. This is what I would look like if I participated in any festivities, so I’ve taken great pains to avoid it. Teehee, look at their faces!

 

Monstercake!

I might have an objection to Halloween, but I launch no such objection to Halloween goodies. Treats not tricks, got it? This monstercake is 20 different kinds of adorable, and if I possessed even an ounce of patience, you can bet I’d be piping on orange frosting to look like fur and making cake-balls for googly eyes. The only problem I have with this cake is that it looks too good to actually cut into, and when I am deprived of cake (especially when the cake itself is depriving me) I become extremely fussy.

 

Pumpkin Candles, West Elm

Ah, see? Nothing spooky  or  gross about these. THIS is the kind of Halloween I wish we had, instead of one with blood and gore and mummies popping out of every corner covered in spiderwebs and death. I love these candles, and I think they celebrate everything nice about the season without being the least bit creepy. They’d make a beautiful centerpiece on a table if you had 4 or 5 of them. I even love that they styled them with a burlap tablecloth! So perfect.

 

Silly Dog Costumes

Does this require an explanation? Really? You’re not convinced simply based on the pictures? Fine. One of the best things Halloween has done for the world has been to provide pet owners with the adorably insane notion that they need to extend the dress-up to their 4-legged companions. And thank god for that, because nothing is cuter than the puppy version of anything. Oompa Loompa? Cuter if it’s a Daschund. Think your Dalmation has been giving you too much attitude recently? Affix an inflated pink balloon to its undercarriage and tell people he’s a cow. I love pet costumes. This is a Halloween tradition I can endorse.

 

Salem Witch Museum, Salem, Massachusetts

Okay, so despite my debilitating fear of anything scary (as well as some un-scary things like sand and elevators), I was hugely into the Salem Witch trials for about 6 or 7 years of my life. I read historical fiction, non-fiction, everything I could get my hands on regarding the trials. Nineteen men and women were hanged, and one man, Giles Cory, was crushed to death with heavy stones. My dad and I took a trip up the east coast to visit family friends in New York and Massachusetts every summer, and once my fascination with Salem started, we added it to the itinerary. We would make sure to hit all of the tourist attractions, including the graveyard where the alleged witches were buried, as well as Salem Willows, the most amazing and old-timey arcade and park with a bandstand right on the water. We also tried going to one of their famed haunted houses, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, and the “guide” jumped out of his dark creepy doorway to lead me to my death and I screamed bloody murder. I was 15.  Anyway, we also made sure to visit the Salem Witch Museum, which recounts the entire history of the trials through wax figures. It’s really pretty cool, and the museum is right across from the park at the center of the adorable and charming town. The first time we visited, though, and they got to the part about how Giles Cory was executed, his wax figure has a voice over of him begging for more weight in this really sad, horrible whisper. I mean, imagine people crushing your body with giant stones and you’re refusing to admit you’re a witch but hello, you’re being pressed to death. Sad, right? Apparently not to my father, who collapsed into full body hysterics and angered every other family in the room. Go dad.

Happy Friday! What are your feelings on Halloween? Are you dressing up as anything this year? I’d love to know, unless you’re going as that guy from the “Saw” movies in which case, keep it to yourself. I’d like to sleep tonight.

I’ll see you on Monday with some embarrassing pictures of me as a kid. Enjoy your weekend!

London Love

photo by Alan Klim

I’ve talked at exhaustive length about my love of Paris and Sweden, but it’s only fair to give some special attention to my other favorite city in the world: London. I have family right outside the city and along the southeast coast, and on all of my trips across the pond I fall more and more in love with the country. It boasts one of the most easily navigable public transit systems in the world, and some of the craziest, most bi-polar weather as well. The accents, the countryside, the history, the architecture, the food (yes, I said food. I’m part English, I can’t deny my love for Yorkshire pudding), and the television shows and movies that come out of that country (my dad and I broke our VHS tape of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” from watching it so many times), are some of my favorite things in the world. So what better way to celebrate jolly old Grey Britain than by turning it into a retail experience? Love London? Here’s how to incorporate it into your every day life:

 

1. A to Z of London Tea Towel, Keep Calm Gallery / I love tea towels to begin with, and on my most recent trip across the pond, I bought back this one for like, 5 different people. I love tea towels more than standard American dish towels, and this one, which highlights 26 different London attractions (did you notice “I” is used for the London Eye?) is too adorable for words.

2. Underground Map Jute bag, London Transport Museum / I almost bought this from some vendor or souvenir shop on my last trip but didn’t, deciding I had enough things in my life emblazoned with the map of the Underground. But I’ve regretted it ever since. I can just picture carrying this tote around farmer’s markets, stuffed with fresh local veggies and a giant bouquet of wild flowers.

3. PG Tips Tea / This is the best tea in the entire universe. The end. No arguments. I’ve never ever been a coffee drinker, and since I can’t really handle caffeine at all, I don’t really have tea too often, but (I’m about to rip off the Dos Equis commercial) when I do, I prefer PG Tips. My mom and I used to smuggle it back in our suitcases by the hundreds to stock up on it, and this is the tea my family overseas drinks exclusively. And now we can finally get it in the states, but it just isn’t the same as when my cousin would make me a cuppa. It still comes pretty close though.

4. Aero Candy Bars / Something happens to me when I get around Aero bars, the delicious chocolate bar that is filled with air bubbles, and it is similar to the behavior exhibited in primates when they go into heat. I am crazy about these candy bars. I can’t ever eat just one, no no. I consume probably 10-15 bars A DAY when I’m in England, and then I take tons back with me. I bought 5 giant size bars in the Heathrow airport before my last flight out and only made it off the plane in New York with 1. A former co-worker had a lay-over in London last summer and picked me a few bars up…and then I promptly asked him for his hand in marriage.

5. Union Jack Dog Bed, Unleashed Life / This is just adorable. I’m pretty sure I just figured out what Fitz is getting for Christmas. Beagles are, after all, an English breed, so this Union Jack doggie bed is quite fitting (quite!) for him, don’t you think?

6. Waving Queen, Museum of London / And speaking of adorable, someone over at the Ministry of Adorability needs a raise for coming up with a little model of the Queen that is solar-powered (see the panel on her purse?) and waves, smiling cheerily all the while. I want one of these SO BAD. Can you imagine the non-stop giggling?

7. Melamine Tray, Transport for London / Can’t you just imagine serving afternoon tea and bickies on this, or even leaning it on the counter behind your sink for a gorgeous visual element in your kitchen? It’s so graphic and hip while still managing to incorporate all of the iconic London architecture (Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the Eye) without being too clichéd. I absolutely adore it and think it could work as wall-art.

8. Red Telephone Box Cabinet, Amazon / Don’t be fooled, this is not just any ordinary red telephone box replica. This is a 4′ tall storage cabinet, inside which you can store DVDs (like your very own copy of “Midnight in Paris”, ahem ahem) or trinkets, or maybe other London souvenirs. I keep thinking this would make an adorable toy chest for a kid’s room. Or a liquor cabinet. OR, if you still own a landline phone, you could route out a hole in the back for the cord and put your phone inside and make it an actual phone booth. Assuming you put it on a table or dias or something, because it would be annoying to have to bend over to answer the phone. Um. I kind of want this. I’m seriously debating buying it.

Well, there you go. And of course, I can’t forget to mention my favorite piece of London transit memorabilia, my travelcard cushion!

And, because I’m feeling extra generous, some pictures of London by yours truly from my most recent trip:

Liverpool Station

The London Eye

taken from the top of the London Eye

This is me and my cousin, Nicky. He was born, raised, and still lives in England, and the poor sod agreed to take super tourist-y pictures with me around London one afternoon, including up in the London Eye. He was such a good sport about it, and we had a ton of fun and laughed the whole time. Although, he did apologize to that guard by saying, “I’m from here.” The rest of the trip the whole family kept giving each other thumbs up. Nicky also now calls Aero bars “Erin bars” because I ate so many of them. And, knowing how much I love Big Ben, he popped into a souvenir shop and bought me a small glass figurine with Big Ben etched inside. It has been sitting on my desk ever since.

See you tomorrow morning with another post! (I’m really on a roll here!) Oh, and happy hump day! I’ve always hated calling Wednesdays that. Can we think up a new name for it? Like Joey did on Friends? “Monday, one day. Tuesday, two days. Wednesday, huh? what, when? Thursday, the third day.”

Friday Five, Lake Vacation edition

Fall is officially officially here, and I am in love with this weather. Every year I forget how delicious the crisp air smells and how much I love living in boots and scarves and drinking hot apple cider. I’m indulging in some totally clichéd fall fun (more than pumpkin picking!) and taking a vacation in the Finger Lakes, in New York state at the beginning of November. I’m excited for scenic drives, orange and yellow leaves, bed & breakfasts, and enjoying the region’s plethora of wine trails (read: getting drunk in nature).

And as we know, I’ll take any excuse to turn something into a material experience. This week’s Friday Five is all about prepping for the ideal fall vacation.

 

Seneca Lake Wine Trail, Finger Lakes, New York

The problem with figuring out where to stay in the Finger Lakes is that there are so many options, and all of them boast the same gorgeous scenery and abundance of vineyards. How I settled on Seneca Lake in particular is a mystery, but you can bet I’m beyond excited to see that view up close and personal. I’m hoping that there are still some leaves left on the trees in a few weeks, and it isn’t too cold to enjoy a hot cup of spiked hot chocolate on the balcony of the bed & breakfast at night.

Flannel boots, Steve Madden

I can’t even take how adorable these boots are. Check out that flannel! These are such an awesome balance between masculine and feminine…or more like 90-10, but still. I can just see myself walking around the rows and rows of grapes, leaves crunching beneath my flannel-lined  faux work-boots. And, because I am a tycoon of internet shopping, I have a coupon code that brings these bad boys down an additional 20%. Now all I have to do is wait until they have my size back in stock. WPP.

 

Plaid throw blanket, Terrain

Now I know, technically, that bed & breakfasts provide their own blankets. But who doesn’t need a little more plaid in their life? And considering this blanket is made by a family-owned wool farm in Ireland, I’m kind of swooning over the idea of wrapping myself up in it. It doesn’t look the slightest bit scratchy, either. Oh, and have we talked about Terrain? That store is incredible.

 

Feu de Bois candle, Diptyque Paris

Sure, spending $90 on a candle may seem a bit excessive. But have you smelled this thing? It smells like crackling firewood and if there was ever a scent associated with this time of the year, it’s a roaring fire. Let’s be honest, the reason it is so perfect (and the reason I was so quick to include it on this week’s list) is because it’s French. So not only will you smell the yummy and smokey smell of “warm, familiar, sophisicated accord of rare woods throughout the long winter days” you’ll smell like a French elitist. Win-win.

 

Abingdon Tote, J Crew

The poor salespeople at J Crew have had to endure me walking in, making a beeline for this bag, and then looking at it and touching it for the next hour. I love this bag. Talk about masculine-feminine. Can’t you just imagine carrying bottles of Seneca-vineyard-made wine back to your room every day? The canvas is a perfect color in real life, and if I didn’t already own 2 bags that look like second cousins to this one, I would’ve snapped it up by now and saved the people at J Crew some exasperated sighs.

Have I inspired you to get rugged and go on a wine tour? Ha. Do you have any fall vacation plans? Or even spring vacation plans? Have a great weekend, kiddos!

(Also, special “hello” to the person who came to my blog after googling “Red Dwarf Porn.” I’m not sure I know how to feel about this.)

Weekend in Pictures

I’m so tired, but isn’t that the mark of a great weekend? Walking the puppy along the beach and laughing as he freaked out when the water came up to him, picking 20 apples from an orchard for $4.75, going to an Italian festival and playing lawn Bocce, having a wine tasting at 11am, stumbling upon a creepy abandoned motel on the outskirts of Atlantic City and being too scared to get out of the car, and wishing I’d never heard the noise Fitz makes when he comes face to face with goats. Oh my god, that screeching howl. Anyway, here are tons of photos, as promised:

 

Happy Monday, kiddos! How was your weekend?

Friday Five

You guys, something very exciting is happening to me today: I’m getting my hair cut! More specifically (and most exciting of all!) I’m getting bangs again. So that picture of me on my About page from when I was 3 years old (and refused to wear pants but would wear sunglasses indoors) is going to be an accurate representation of me again! I still even love turtlenecks, go figure. Though I may have to put a moratorium on wearing turtlenecks while I have bangs; there will be just too much encroaching on my face.

The haircut is just the the tip of the Exciting Iceberg that is this weekend. I’m heading down to Brigantine, New Jersey (and no, we are not allowed to make any references to the festering pile of degradation and spray tans that is The Jersey Shore) for the weekend. Fitz is very excited to run along the beach and has been bugging me all week about whether or not he has to wear his swimmies (yes) and if he’ll be allowed to pee in the ocean (no, but he probably will anyway). Then, on Sunday, we’re heading to our favorite orchard/winery for some apple and pumpkin picking, followed by a wine tasting and loading up the trunk with as many bottles of their delicious Peach wine (trust me on this one!) as we can carry. All this means for you is that I will have tons of photographs to share with you on Monday. Win-win.

Without further ado, here are 5 things that have piqued my interest this week:

 

BookBook laptop case, Twelve South

I had never heard of these before my friend Anna mentioned that she was going to buy one for her new Macbook Air. But now that I know about them, I have to have one. Are you kidding me with how cute that thing is? And practical, since it’s hard-backed, so it will protect the laptop in addition to making it look like a vintage book. Sure, it’s pricey. But you can stand it up on a bookshelf! And again, have we not established that I care more about form than function? BookBook, why you so cute?

 

New Zealand, photo by Simon Smith

Stay with me. I recently got Google Earth (I know, I know, I’m about 2 years late to the party) and I spent all day Sunday “traveling” around the world (I even went to the northernmost tip in Europe, in Finnmark, Norway and found some weird secret bunker/where Santa lives). Aside from the obvious perks of being able to “visit” the Eiffel Tower whenever I want (which has been every 5 minutes for the past week), it’s given me a renewed fascination with New Zealand. The culture (this is the country that has given us “Flight of the Concords” and “Summer Heights High”) and the landscape (see above) are just so appealing to me. I’d love to go someday, and hopefully double up the trip with a nice jaunt in Australia. Until then, I’ll be wandering around on Google Earth.

 

“The Most Beautiful Walk in the World” by John Baxter

I picked up this book only a few hours after I saw “Midnight In Paris” because the back cover promised something equally as enchanting as that movie: an account of the Paris of pedestrians, told through historic vignettes and present-day stories, the former of which included copious references to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, all the major players in Woody Allen’s movie. And it didn’t disappoint. I finally finished it this week and just wanted to give it a big hug afterwards. Baxter is just so likable, even though part of me hates him for being an accomplished writer living in Paris with his Parisian spouse and making a living spending his days helping friends buy Matisse prints or giving walking tours to clueless Americans. I just ordered “We’ll Always Have Paris” by him, which promises to be chock-full of stories of love and sex in the city of light. I can’t wait!

 

“West Forty Third Street” and “Central Park South” by Joseph O. Holmes

These photographs of New York are absolutely amazing. The detail captured in each of them is just ridiculous. I wish either of them were still available for purchase, though I think I’d have a hard time choosing between them. Joseph O. Holmes is a Pennsylvania native (yeah, PA!) and he is currently documenting the Occupy Wall Street protests over on his blog. I love photography, and these photos make me want to be better at it. That’s why I love them.

 

Sidecar High Dining Table, CB2

I’ve lusted after this table for awhile, and even tried to talk my friend Aisling into buying it for her new apartment just so I could visit it and cuddle it when she wasn’t looking. I don’t have a need or the space for an additional dining table, but if I did, this would be the table I’d choose. I’m aware it’s completely impractical for any household with more than 2 people (or even 2 people who don’t love all-white interiors or sleek, clean lines) but could you just check out those shelves on the end? So incredible.

What are you up to this weekend? Any seasonal activities like apple picking? Have a great one, kiddos!

Friday Five, Fall edition

First of all, let me apologize for working on some redesign issues yesterday (and, um, today). I don’t know if any of you happened to check out the blog in the middle of one of my millions of changes, but my apologies for having things look a little weird if you did. I’m incredibly difficult to please, apparently, when it comes to this site design, but I’ve made a few changes in a direction I think I’ll enjoy for longer than, say, 2 weeks before I get bored again. The biggest change is the placement of all my old sidebar links (things like my archives, categories, blog roll, etc). I haven’t deleted any of it, just moved it to the footer of the page, where it is magically more organized. This let me make the content space wider, which just means now I’ll get to post BIGGER pictures of my dog. All of the other stuff, including my needs-to-be-updated About page, are now at the top.

Anyway, enough of the boring stuff. It’s Friday, which means it might or might not be time for another Friday Five! Who can tell around here, though. My track record is spotty.

It’s fall, and I’m starting to look ahead to chillier weather and crunching through leaves. So here are five fall things I’m liking this week:

 

The Library Bar at Gild Hall Hotel, New York

I stayed at this hotel last summer on a mini weekend getaway and fell absolutely in love with the whole decor of the place. It’s in the Financial District, so it’s quiet when you come home at 3am after hitting up a corner bodega to pick up a box of mini nilla wafers and a giant bag of salt and vinegar chips and proceed to be loud, annoying drunks. Ahem. Anyway, every room had a custom leather headboard, and the hotel had this gorgeous library bar on the second floor; don’t let the lighting fool you, it was never this bright, which only added to the appeal. It was moody and dark and great for making out in a corner. Big, majestic libraries with lots of leather definitely remind me of fall. I’d recommend Gild Hall in a heartbeat.

 

Brown boots, H&M

I have two great pairs of camel boots, one with a heel and one without, and they are absolutely a fall staple. They go with everything. So I have my fall go-to shoes set, right? Um, I’m sorry, do you not see these booties? I can think of 30 reasons why they are perfect and why I need to have them without even batting an eye. Perhaps the most persuasive reason is that they are under $40. For someone inept at the basic skill of walking upright such as myself, spending an inordinate amount of money on death-trap-heels is a waste. Can’t you just picture wearing these with a pair of dark wool tights and some rich fall colors? These are speaking my language.

 

Fjällräven Kånken Backpack in “Uncle Blue”

For every year of my life between the ages of 4 and 22, fall meant back-to-school. So maybe that’s why I’m drawn to backpacks this season. Fjällräven (which is Swedish for “arctic fox”), has an iconic series of backpacks in tons of colors. I love that you can wear it like a typical backpack or carry it handheld if you wanted. This would be great for a short vacation if you needed just a little extra storage for your laptop, camera, etc. Also, how cute is that little fox?

“Leaves” candle, Slatkin & Co.

You guys, I raved about this candle a while back and at the time, I was trying to fend off the heartbreak of thinking this scent had been discontinued. Thankfully, I was right in thinking that it was just a seasonal scent, and luckily, now that fall is here, it’s back! Don’t be put off by the name. Like I said before, it combines all of the best smells of fall (crisp, cold air, warm apple cider, and crunchy leaves) without being earthy or too sweet. I was so excited to find them back in Bath & Body Works that I couldn’t resist picking one up.

Scotch Naturals Nail Polish, Fall Collection

These colors are so, so perfect for fall. Sure, as far as nail polishes go, $14 a pop is more than a little steep. But given that they are an all natural, water-based, non-toxic alternative to standard nail polish (and that dreamy magenta is called “Macbeth’s Dream”!) they’d make a great gift in individual colors. The only problem is picking one. I’m leaning towards a rich red, called “Blood and Sand,” or maybe “Hot Toddy,” the dark gray-brown.

Happy Friday! What are your weekend plans? I’m planning on tuckering Fitz out at the dog park tomorrow and then giving him a much-needed bath when he’s too weak to resist it. Great parenting!

Friday Five

Hi! I want to start by saying that I’m seriously impressed that I can articulate a thought outside of “ohmygodohmygodmacaroonsmacaroonsohmygod”  and “ohmygodohmygodLidiaLidiaLidiaohmygod” after yesterday. I think I can safely rank yesterday as one of the best days of my entire life, from start to finish. I mean, really, what isn’t to love about getting a day off work to traipse around Manhattan, walking around the gorgeous public library, eating macaroons imported from France, having drink at my very, very favorite bar in the city, having a 4 course meal (& wine pairings) prepared by a famous chef, and then coming back home to a puppy who is beyond ecstatic to see you? I have so much to tell you about Laduree and the Lidia experience, but I’ll wait until Monday for all of the pictures and details (there are lots of both). Don’t worry, I’ll still give you a sneak peak at the action below. I am benevolent like that.

Also, another lovely side-effect of having a Thursday off work is that I only have to wait one day before the weekend arrives. I’m pretty sure this has spoiled me for all future work weeks in the same way that Lidia has spoiled all food not prepared by her for me, and the same way Laduree has spoiled all desserts that are not French macaroons for me. White. People. Problems. Actually, speaking of WPP, my darling friend and ex-roomie Lyndsey provided me with perhaps the most amazing WPP of all time, in reference to her recent drive down the east coast: “I was so frustrated because NPR kept going in and out!” That might trump every other WPP, ever.

Anyway, here are 5 things I’m digging this week:

The New York Public Library, main branch

I’d walked by the main branch by Bryant Park the last time I was in the city, but unfortunately, the last time I was in the city was Memorial Day weekend, and naturally the library was closed. It was on my to-do list this morning, and boy am I glad I got to see it. It is a massive and beautiful building that is seemingly all marble and dark, carved wood inside. The ceilings are cavernous and gilded and hand-painted, and now I totally understand why Carrie wanted to marry Big here. I love libraries. They always smell so good. Oh, and there’s books. I like them because of the books, too.

Macaroons, from Laduree

Have I mentioned yet that I went to the new Laduree in New York? Or that I was really, really excited about it? How silly of me, I thought I already shared that with you. Allow me to fill you in: YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS. These macaroons. They are, and I’m straining to say this politely, an orgasm in your mouth. I know I should be all delicate with them because they cost just under $3 a piece and are not something I can easily go buy more of, but something happened to me when I opened the box, and it wasn’t pretty. I lost all ability to keep my saliva inside my mouth and my clothes spontaneously came off. I might have growled while eating them. From lower left, we have 2 pistachio, 2 rose, a vanilla at the top of the row and a vanilla at the bottom of the 2nd row, caramel with salted butter (OMG WHY DID I ONLY BUY ONE?!), 2 blackcurrant violet, a green apple, a raspberry, a coffee, a lemon, a coconut, and finally a strawberry & mint. I also bought the world’s most expensive carrier bag so I can take my lunch to work and look like a total snob. Horray! More pictures on Monday.

LIDIA, at Eataly

Here, the woman who gives me a flicker of hope that my ability to cook exists is explaining the kind of saute pans she prefers to use. Isn’t she adorable? If you’ve ever watched her show on PBS (and if you haven’t, WTF!) then you definitely get the sense that she is a genuine sweetheart whose passion for food and travel is inspiring. She is so knowledgable, and such a good chef. Really, this might have been one of the most expensive meals I’ve ever had in my life, but it was worth every penny. Again, waaay more pictures to follow on Monday. I have so much to show you!

“A Beautiful Death,” by Jack Crossing

Jack Crossing is a British graphic designer with a really interesting and unique portfolio of work. I stumbled across this bird on a tumblr somewhere without any credit to the image’s creator. Thanks to the (crazy and futuristic!) invention of reverse image search, I was able to track it down. Now I just wish he had a print of this available for sale. Something about it is so haunting and dear. From Jack: “This was a piece I put together last year for a project called RVLR, where a selection of designers, artists, and illustrators were all given the same images and asked to create a new piece of art work.” From me: I really love this image.

Alphabet totes

I bought one of these, with a giant E on it, a few years ago from Urban Outfitters (at an insane mark-up now that I look at it). It has been my go-to bag ever since. Sure, I have a ton of bags and purses, but this tote seems to go with everything, and has held up well to being beaten up over the years. It could use a good washing, but I’m trying to use that as an excuse to buy a brand new one. They have them in a few different color combinations, but my heart is still with the natural & black combo. Really, as far as canvas tote bags go, this is high quality and durable. Plus, I’m a narcissist at heart, so I’m obsessed with my own initial.

This weekend I am hoping to catch up on my sleep and lick the inside of the Laduree box for any crumbs that might have escaped my grasp the first go-around. And, you know, I’ll probably spend the weekend being talked-down from going back to New York to get more. Or to stalk Lidia and make her live with me. What are your hot weekend plans?

Enjoy, kiddos!

Inspiration: Kitchens

Right now I am en route to New York via the ever-so-cheap and convenient Bolt Bus, set to arrive in Manhattan at 10am. You might recall that I had made plans to attend a cooking class with Lidia Bastianich last week, but thanks to the arrival of a very annoying rain cloud named Irene, the class was postponed. To today. So this afternoon at 2:30 I will be sitting in the back of Eataly in a small private classroom (with carrera marble counters, swoon) mere feet from everyone’s favorite Italian grandma, while she prepares a 4 course meal and provides a wine pairing for each one. Hopefully, through sheer osmosis, I will be able to pick up some of her skills and talents with food, because, at present and when left to my own devices, I am incompetent at any task more advanced than boiling water (wait, that’s a lie. I can make homemade pasta. Which sounds impressive, but is easier than boiling water). Also, I am going to attempt to strap boyfriend to his chair to prevent him from lunging at Lidia and planting kisses all over her plump cheeks. (Forreals, dude? You couldn’t crush on someone more like Gisele? I’m curious as to what this says about me.)

But I will still have a few hours to kill both before and after the class, and my plan is to hightail it to the new Laduree on Madison Avenue and blow my entire paycheck on macaroons and pastel colored packaging. Horray! Don’t understand why I’m so excited? Take a look at these pictures:

from New York Magazine

Still not convinced? Well, the macaroons are over-nighted FROM FRANCE every day, and served only by actual French people. Again, let me repeat here one more time with feeling, you could serve me dead bugs and if it came from the hands of a Frenchman, I’d be so honored I’d probably cry.

from Park & Cube

With flavors like Pistachio, Rose, Blackcurrant Violet, (and did I mention THEY’RE IMPORTED FROM FRANCE?), how is your mouth not watering? I’ve talked about them this much already and I will probably still mention them in tomorrow’s Friday Five. You never know! Well, actually, you probably do, who am I fooling.

Anyway, since today I am learning to cook (kind of), I thought I’d share some beautiful kitchens for a little dose of Thursday inspiration:

 

from here

I know I’ve featured this kitchen before, but I still cannot get over how perfect it is. Painted white brick! Old stools! Chalkboard wall! My brain is pulling a Fitz and just ceasing to understand.

from here

Metal counters, subway tile, and an old French street sign? Can I get an “amen.”


from Living Etc.

I’m in love with subway tile. And farmer sinks. And plants in pitchers. And raw wood. And open shelving. So basically, this kitchen is heaven on earth.

 

from here

This is from a Swedish based (obviously) sustainable-home manufacturer. Do you know how much I’d love to be able to function with something so minimalist? Or how much I’d love an all white cabin on a Swedish island? This reminds me of my dad’s sense of design so much, and his kitchen.

I have to say, these are pretty exciting plans for a Thursday. Any interesting plans of your own for the end of the week? And advice for me as I try to cook with a professional? I’ll see you guys tomorrow with another Friday Five!


Paris. And I’m famous!

Well, ‘Midnight in Paris’ was phenomenal. Exquisite cinematography and a charming story. The movie starts with a two minute montage of glorious shots of Paris, and I had to pick my jaw off the floor and wipe the tears of desperation from my eyes. I’m assuming that by now, everyone has seen this movie, but if you haven’t yet, you need to. Need!

I’m really starting to enjoy seeing movies by myself. I went to a noon showing and the theater only had 4 other patrons. Another upside was that tickets were only $6, which is virtually unheard of these days. The ticket might have been cheap, but the movie itself might end up costing me a few thousand dollars, because I’m this close to packing up everything I own and moving to Paris. Like, tomorrow.

Why, you ask? Oh, no reason:

from here

from here

from here

from here

from here

There is a conversation in the movie about whether Paris is more beautiful during the day or night, and Marion Cotillard’s character asserts that it is more beautiful at night. I completely agree. It’s been over 10 years since I was in Paris, and this is just simply unacceptable. Woody Allen really has me considering becoming an ex-pat.

Oh! This was a wonderful little surprise over the weekend: I was featured over on Insideology.com! Well, my desk was (or, one iteration of it!). And by a nifty British blogger, no less. Thank you, Annabel, for including me!