A Classic Apartment in Paris

What do you picture when you hear the words “classic Parisian apartment”? Herringbone wood floors, large casement windows, scrolling iron railings, intricate moldings, sun-drenched rooms, fireplaces with built-in mirrors above them, oui? What a dream, to own such an architecturally iconic space. This apartment checks every single one of those boxes:

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I’ve left out photos of the updated bathrooms and kitchen, because while they are functional and modern, they clash with the rest of the gorgeous details of the apartment. I simply cannot get over how picture-perfect it is; as if someone drew from scratch what they thought a classic Haussmann apartment should look like. This is real! We could live there! Quick, who has $5.25 million??  I don’t think I would even furnish it (I couldn’t afford to!) but rather spend my time running back and forth between all the rooms squealing in delight like a child on Christmas.

February 18, 2014 / home design / LEAVE A COMMENT / 25

Happy Valentine’s Day

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I’m not usually overly personal on here, but I couldn’t let to today pass without wishing a very happy Valentine’s Day to Jamal. Thank you for being the best travel companion, for knowing just what to say when I’m lost in an anxiety spiral, for always volunteering to take Fitz out in the rain, for supporting me always in all ways, and for being funny even (especially) when you don’t think you are. I love you!

“You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.”

Ernest Hemingway

Er, that quote is kind of romantic, right? Happy Valentine’s Day, kiddos. Je vous adore.

February 14, 2014 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 12

Three Years

Today marks three full years since I started this blog. Three! It certainly doesn’t feel like three years, and yet I can’t really remember what I did with myself before like / want / need popped into existence on a random, dreary day in February (I probably shopped less). This blog has become my favorite creative outlet, in large part because of all of you (but especially Annie, my very first blog friend and whose birthday is today! Happy birthday, lovely girl!). Your daily comments, support, advice, laughs, and the amazing sense of community you have all given me have made this blog what it is. I know it’s cheesy, but I couldn’t do this without you. I mean, I could, but it would be sad and lonely. I much prefer having friends all over the country & world to virtually check-in on every day, and I’m so grateful to this blog for making it all possible.

To celebrate the big 3, here are 3 photos of (surprise!) Paris. What better way to honor the day?

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This is going to be an exciting year for both me & this blog. So far in 2014, I’ve taken more of a relaxed approach to posting, and have stopped beating myself up if I don’t post every single day. I have some big things in the works, but I’m curious: what do you want to see in the future? What sorts of posts do you love, which posts do you hate, what would you like to see more of? Less of? Should I devote this blog solely to photoshopping my beloved Gary Oldman into Parisian street scenes? Spill, kiddos!

PS. This is my 658th post! You can read the very first one here.

February 12, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 31

The Creative Life

The other day, Erika posted about her decision to be an artist, and it made me think about my own creative life. People seem to have very strong reactions, negative and positive, to those who decide follow their creativity. My family has always been whole-heartedly supportive of my creative pursuits –from ballet recitals to violin recitals to performances in plays and performances of my own play to photo exhibits– probably because being creative is the only thing I’ve ever shown any aptitude for. It’s not like I’m a math whiz (I’ll pause here for those of you who know how long it takes me to calculate tip at a restaurant to have a laugh) who abandoned it all to try my hand at writing. Growing up, there was of course an emphasis on the importance of financial security, but it was thankfully never drilled into my head to get a degree in something that would guarantee me immediate, well-paying employment (or employment at all, for that matter). What mattered was that I was doing –am doing something that made me happy, something I was good at.

But it got me thinking, because while my own family gave me such a positive foundation, and while 99% of the people I tell I’m writing a novel are really encouraging and supportive, there have been several hesitant, “Oh”s along the way. “Well…what are you planning on doing with it when you finish?” as if to say, “This isn’t going to be a full-time habit, is it?” And none of it has been intentionally mean-spirited; I just never realized some could view my decision to give in and be a writer as unconventional or risky, something to be met with confusion.

All of this reflection reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk. Have you seen it? Spare 18 minutes and watch it.

This quote in particular really stuck out to me:

Is it rational, is it logical, that anybody should be expected to be afraid of the work they feel they were put on this earth to do? And what is it specifically about creative ventures that seems to make us really nervous about each other’s mental health in a way that other careers don’t?…And not just writers, but creative people across all genres it seems, have this reputation for being enormously mentally unstable…Somehow we’ve completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish.

Why is it, do you think, that people worry about those who choose to have a creative life, but never question why someone would want to become, say, a urologist? Is it purely the lack of a steady income that makes people nervous for creatives? There’s a reason, after all, that the term is “starving artist”, not “starving scientist.” As a society we seem to place a large importance on the money that can be earned from a job, but we also definitely value literature and art, so it’s not like we’re entirely discouraging people from being creative or living a creative life. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

February 10, 2014 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 25

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

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1. Love Poems / 2. Candles / 3. Scarf / 4. Lip Balm / 5. Cookie Bouquet / 6. What I Love About You / 7. Poster / 8. Heart Balloons / 9. Pillow / 10. Barrettes / 11. Purse

Valentine’s Day is a week away, and if you’re like me and aren’t entirely disdainful about this Hallmark holiday (okay, that’s an understatement, I love Valentine’s Day, mostly for the color scheme), here are a few presents to get you in the spirit. Whether you have a lover in your life or not shouldn’t matter. The best Valentine you could ask for is yourself, and I see no reason why you shouldn’t treat yourself to an extra special day of spoiling and adoration. And really, who doesn’t want an excuse to eat an entire bag of red and pink m&ms?

February 7, 2014 / fashion / vanity / home design / LEAVE A COMMENT / 19

Quotable

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If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.

Ernest Hemingway

photo via

February 5, 2014 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 12

Tuesday Tunes

Do you ever listen to a song on repeat until you burn out on it? I do it constantly. I get ‘stuck’ on a song, and then I listen to it over and over and over again for days. The crazy thing is, I’m insatiable, and weeks or even months later I can put the song on again and still go through the same cycle. Such tunes include “Formidable” by Stromae, “Hanging On” by Active Child, “Disintegration” by Jimmy Eat World (we’re going on NINE YEARS on this one!), “Atlantic” and “Bedshaped” by Keane, “Sylvia” by Miike Snow, “Intro” by the XX, and “Waves” by Camille. Oh, and if we’re being completely honest, this song by Ace of Base. It came out in 1995 and I still listen to it on repeat. This is a judgement-free zone, fyi.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I say I’ve picked up another one. Who knows if this one will withstand the test of time for me, but it’s all I’ve listened to for over 30 hours now. And as usual, I’m way late to the party on discovering this song, but that doesn’t mean I’m not making up for lost time. There was lots of awkward dancing with Fitz around the house last night, blasting this song (on repeat, of course).

Just try not to be won over by its catchiness. I dare you! What are you listening to right now? Any other admitted repeat-junkies out there?

February 4, 2014 / Tuesday Tunes / LEAVE A COMMENT / 11

An Attic in Paris

My goal this year (aside from 1. Finish the first draft of my novel, 2. Get married, and 3. Run away to Paris) is to read 30 books. Doable, yes? In January I read “The Paris Architect”, “The Goldfinch”, and “Sotheby’s: The Inside Story.” If I keep up this 3/month pace, I’ll be fine. Right now I’m almost halfway through “The Paris Wife,” a fictional account of Hemingway and his first wife and their time in Paris in the 1920s. The description of the first apartment they rent reminds me of the line “All that’s missing is the tuberculosis.” I’ve made that joke before, but I swear every attic apartment in Paris just begs for it.

Well, almost every attic apartment in Paris. This one, for sale at €865,000 ($1.17m) is more ‘loft penthouse’ than ‘bohemian attic hovel’, and the clear exception to the notion that top floor Parisian apartments are dens of iniquity and disease for starving writers. Check out that view, and that bookshelf! I don’t know which is dreamier.

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Want.

February 3, 2014 / home design / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 22

Bad Things Come in Threes

Well! I didn’t plan on taking three days off from posting (my longest stint since 2011, and certainly the longest when I wasn’t on vacation) but then again I didn’t plan on getting the flu, either. I woke up Saturday morning with a little cough, and took my inhaler thinking it was just my usual chest tightness. By Saturday afternoon, after a probably-not-helpful-in-hindsight walk in the snow, it was clear it wasn’t going away, but that was fine, a cough is nothing. By Saturday night, I might as well have had sad game show music playing after my every movement; this was no mere cough. When I woke up Sunday morning aching all over, feeling like someone had taken a baseball bat to my back, a Cough with a capital-C, and a 102 fever, there was no denying it. The flu!

I needn’t tell you how exceedingly mopey and depressive I get when I’m sick, but oh, oh this was malaise on a whole new scale. Things hurt! I was sweaty! I shuffled back and forth between bed and the sofa, my will to live trailing sadly behind me in a flurry of used tissues. And, perhaps most disappointingly, I had been looking forward for weeks to attending an Old Masters auction on Tuesday morning that, in my weakened, near-death state, I obviously had to skip.

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It was probably for the best, because who knows what I would’ve accidentally bid on in my fevered delirium. Not that I was going to bid, I was just excited to go (book research!) and see that Edouard Manet sketch (above right, which ended up selling for $33k!) in person. To experience the exhilaration of an auction floor. Stupid influenza.

As if that wasn’t enough, our heater broke late Monday. Not that I could tell because temperatures had ceased to mean anything to me by that point, as I was alternately standing in the shower with the water as hot as it would go, shivering and with actual goosebumps on me, and then sweating through everything I slept in, my eyes boiling out of my head.

And then my debit card information was stolen, and the thief tried to charge five separate purchases of $4.95 for (wait for it) Christian bible studies ebooks. I’m not an expert in religion, but I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t really condone stealing?  I called my bank and said, “But, but…I’M JEWISH!” I must’ve sounded insane to the poor customer service representative, and to be fair, I was. I hadn’t been vertical in days, the altitude change from having to sit up and make a phone call was jarring.

But the heater got fixed, my bank flagged the charges, and my health is on the up-swing. In fact, I’m back at work today and feeling far more human than I have in days (changing out of sweatpants might have helped). If bad things come in threes, I should be set for a while, yes?

How was your week? I’ve missed you guys!

January 30, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 8

Art Gifts for Kids

Growing up with two parents who were both deeply devoted to art, who had art in the house (one of my earliest art memories is of a print of Eduard Charlemont’s The Moorish Chief  hanging in my parents’ bedroom), with a father who was an Impressionist-style artist and who kept an amazing, packed studio of tools and easels and paints, stacks of canvases in closets, his art hanging on our walls, spending every Sunday morning at the museum, going to every major exhibit in every city we visited on vacation…it all filled me with such a reverence for and appreciation of fine art. Sundays weren’t for football in my house (and thank god for that).

As someone that still finds going to the museum to be the ultimate way to spend a few free hours, who seeks out the reflective, quiet solitude of hushed galleries and Old Masters, I can’t wait to take my (very future, very hypothetical) child there. I have this plan to give them a few postcards of major works from the gift shop, and then wander the galleries with them and have them try to ‘find’ the paintings that match their cards. That sort of joy, of sharing something so special and important and meaningful, is something I am looking forward to more than anything else. And because, as my dad was fond of saying, “every cultural experience must end in a retail experience,” herewith are a bunch of art-related presents to give to kids, to provide them with a solid background and exposure to some of the greatest artists and painters in history.

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1. Dancing with Degas book / 2. Renoir nightlight / 3. Mona Lisa watch / 4. Van Gogh Rubik’s cube / 5. Rodin tee / 6. Rodin Museum snowglobe / 7. Van Gogh finger puppets / 8. Art kit / 9. Monet’s Garden pop-up book / 10. Frida Kahlo dress-up / 11. Renoir puzzle / 12. Monet doll / 13. Artist Playing Cards / 14. Picasso doll

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that Renoir nightlight and Monet stuffed doll for myself (…okay, and everything else). And yes, I already have that Rodin t-shirt (thanks to Jamal for picking it up in Paris) and that Monet garden pop-up book from my childhood. It’s one of the most gorgeous things, though I might have to wait until future-kid isn’t guaranteed to destroy it with its grubby little fingers, haha.

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January 24, 2014 / art / photo / LEAVE A COMMENT / 16