Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Official

Fall has a certain romance to it, just I suppose, as does spring.  And everyone has a favorite way of marking the transition to the new season.  Perhaps it is the first day you switch from your cotton blazer to your leather jacket, maybe it is when the final tomatoes of the season have left the market and apples take their place, or perhaps it is the first day that you wake up at your normal time and the sun has not fully risen.

For me it's slightly different.  The first day of my fall is the first night we don't have to run the air conditioner in the bedroom.  Our bedroom runs hot since the room has no windows, which means that we have to do odd things like run a humidifier (I'm totally in love with our new one, I find it adorable) to combat the dry fall air simultaneously with the air conditioner to combat the heat.  It also means that I don't pick up on the start of fall until about six weeks after it has occurred.  But no matter, the air conditioner-free day has finally occurred.

The days are well and truly crisp, and the nights are bordering on cold.  Which has me thinking about cozy evenings curled up on the couch with a glass of wine and a good movie.  As I was conjuring up this idyllic scene I realized that any and all outfits that I have to go with it are tragic.  Old yoga pants, Paul's sweatshirts which are many sizes too large for me (but oh so comfy)...not a good look for a gorgeous yet nippy evening.

Cashmere is really more the move than pilling cotton, don't you think?  Like this luxe, softer than soft take on harem pants.

Naturally paired with this devastatingly comfy cardigan.  With this in my lounging arsenal I might never leave the house.

See how these two items simply belong together?

I mean how warm and happy does she look?

But I simply can't stand socks without shoes, so to keep my tootsies warm I would have to top the ensemble off with these slippers, an appropriate nod to my tiny bit of Russian/Polish (no one really knows which one it is) heritage.

And for the next big transition?  I am officially coveting this linen nightshirt for the warming trend that will occur six months from now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Routine

One of my favorite features in the Sunday New York Times is in the Metropolitan section (which, oddly, is my least favorite section) and it describes the typical Sunday of various local celebs.  I suppose I like it because everyone really does have a Sunday routine, and it's always interesting to see how mine compares with the rest of the world's.  Since it is doubtful that the New York Times will be asking me about my weekend anytime soon, I'll post my own Sunday Routine column here.

MORNING GAME  During soccer season, Paul sets the alarm so he's up in time to watch his beloved Manchester United play, which means we're both up by 8:00 or 9:00.

BAKED GOODS  Unless the weather's too hot, I'll usually bake something for breakfast.  For a while it was chocolate brioche each week, but lately I've been branching out.  Today I made Dorie Greenspan's apple cake, and it was perfection.

POLITICS  I am obsessed with the Sunday morning political talk shows, so once soccer is over, the TV is mine for an hour or two.  My favorite is Christiane Amanpour on ABC so I never miss her, but I usually watch David Gregory as well.

BREAD  Since I was raised in the Bay Area I've been absolutely spoiled when it comes to bread.  I cannot find a decent loaf in New York.  A tragedy.  So I make my own.  Often I've started it the day before so I just take the loaves out of the fridge and pop them in the oven.  Today, I gave this recipe from the new Tartine bread book a try.  It was a rousing success.

INDIAN  Paul's an absolute indian food freak, so sometimes he persuades me to accompany him to his favorite lunch buffet spot, Salaam Bombay in Tribeca.  If I can't be persuaded, he scours the city until someone agrees to it.

FOOD  After either Salaam or Christiane, depending on my mood, I head out for a little light grocery shopping to supplement whatever I picked up the day before at the farmer's market.  If we're having friends over for dinner I'm shopping for dinner, if not I'm shopping for the week's lunches.  I hate paying for mediocre lunch food so try to brown bag it as much as possible.  Today I made a chicken b'stilla...

and a provencal vegetable soup.

Both courtesy of Ms. Greenspan's new cookbook, which I've got on loan from the library at the moment but which I will be buying anytime now.

PREMIUM CABLE  In the evening we either host a mini TV marathon or go to a friend's place in Tribeca to watch one.  Boardwalk Empire is an absolute must, as is Dexter.  I usually end up going to bed later than one probably should the night before the first day of the workweek, but no matter, I turn in early on Monday.

What do your Sundays look like?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Growing up, I used to look forward to the arrival of the mail each afternoon.  It wasn't that I was looking forward to a flood of letters or postcards, as more often than not, there were no such items addressed to me.  But I loved looking through the avalanche of catalogues that used to come.  Spiegel was the height of sophistication, Victoria's Secret, which I used to have to fight my dad over, seemed like the key to relations with the opposite sex, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Shop catalogue told of the bastion of culture that (to me) was the east coast.

There were less interesting ones that came as well...those that peddled knick knacks, personalized address labels adorned with flowers and cheesy tween clothing.  And then there were those that were just hilarious, and the funniest one of the bunch was the Vermont Country Store catalogue.

Printed on a material resembling newspaper, the catalogue looked like something out of the 19th century.  The items available included flannel nightgowns, girdles, multiple implements that would allow one to perform personal grooming tasks without having to bend over, orthopedic shoes, and Blackjack chewing gum.  How did my mother get on this mailing list?  Two reasons.  One, the Vermont Country Store carried the nightgowns that my grandma liked (no one else had manufactured them since 1959) and which my mom bought for her, and two, they carried Carmichael's Cuticle Cream.

Carmichael's is essentially a small pot of beeswax.  In theory it is meant to soften raggedy, hardened cuticles, which is does brilliantly, but I use it for just about everything.  Lip balm, eyebrow grooming, chapped hands, to soothe a dry nose during a cold, even as eye cream in a pinch.  Why this product isn't on every beauty essentials list I'll never know.

For nearly as long as I can remember, or perhaps just since I left home, my parents have put one of these little pots in my Christmas stocking.  One pot will last you far longer than a year, so I never ever ran out, and as a result took it for granted.  But for some reason there has been no Carmichael's in my last few Christmas stockings, and I have tragically just exhausted my last little pot.

I am at sea without it.  No reliable nighttime lip moisturizer, my cuticles are a mess, and my eyebrows are looking a bit too wild for polite company.  Hence this post.  As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in this case absence has made the heart grow desperate.  A trip uptown to Caswell Massey to purchase a multi-year supply is imminent!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Party Time

It is fashionable to lament the death of the "epic party", sometimes in the same breath as people lament the death of New York nightlife.  Truman Capote's Black and White party is often the prime example of the time gone by, but as that is often the only example that is cited, I wonder if it was in fact part of some great party pattern that was present in decades past or whether it was a high point in an otherwise dull landscape.

But that said, I have spent nearly ten years in New York and during that time, in what is supposedly a highly happening city, I have only been to two truly noteworthy parties.

Noteworthy Night #1 - One evening I found myself on Liberty Island, which a Russian vodka company had rented to host their product's American launch.  I shared a ferry boat with a bunch of supermodels over to the island, where I drank champagne and ate caviar in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.  After much wandering and oohing and ahhing at my fellow guests, the night ended with everyone sprawled on the ground on massive Moroccan cushions dining on Russian delicacies while watching fireworks over Manhattan.  As you can perhaps guess, this was at the beginning of the silly money era in New York, and spending was becoming insanely free flowing.  I was riding the wave.

Noteworthy Night #2 - Just as the (economic) world was starting to fall apart, I attended a party that had to be the last gasp (for a little while at least) of the freewheeling, flush times.  Bono was hosting an event for his Red charity, and although Paul and I, as mere plebes without millions in the bank, were not invited to the actual money making event (an auction at Larry Gagosian's gallery), we were invited to the myriad after parties (aka the best part of the night).  Up at Sotheby's I found myself shoulder to shoulder with Ed Norton, Paul wrangled a photo of himself with Dennis Hopper and we both found ourselves mere feet from Bono when he took to the tiny stage and played Beatles songs with The Hours.  The night moved on to the newly reopened rooftop at the Gramercy Hotel where Bono stalking commenced, and we finished the night (and spent part of the next morning) downtown at The Box at a table with Damien Hirst.  The intense glamor juxtaposed with the tanking economy gave the night a particular poignance.

But as much fun as I had those nights, no one will be talking about them decades hence.  In fact, almost no party that I can think of during my time in New York will be memorialized in the history books.  So I got to thinking, maybe the nay sayers had it right.  Maybe I have missed out on the glorious party years.

But then something came about that gave me hope.  And it was, as is so often the case, the brainchild of Carine Roitfeld, the editor of French Vogue whom I worship from afar (I'm not the only one...the woman has blogs dedicated to her for goodness sake!).  It was Vogue's 90th Anniversary party.

Held in a mansion in Paris, where guests were required to dress up in masquerade gear, it sounded like something out of a fantastical movie (Eyes Wide Shut as it Turns Out).  I breathlessly read Garance's tale of her lost invite, and then her tale of the party itself.

chicest masks of the night

coolest dress of the night

most elaborate skirt of the night

my favorite dress of the night...if I had the courage to do it I'd get married in this outfit

the fabulous creature that is Anna Dello Russo...according to Garance she could barely move in this outfit but it is worth the pain I think

Leigh Lezark...who would have thought when she starting DJing in New York a few years back she'd be here now?

straight out of twisted Alice and Wonderland, Suzy Menkes and Jean Paul Gaultier

thank god Giselle didn't cover up too much of that gorgeous face

Queen Diane

Mama Roitfeld and son

all photos via here

I read about the night in the New York Times...the man who had lashed a mirror to his face, the antics in the courtyard, the decadence, the beauty, the all reeked of art and imagination and an intense commitment to beauty and fun.  

Although we have parties that embody these qualities on a small scale here in New York, we're lacking something large scale that doesn't scream money and celebrity.  But until Carine can bring her magic stateside, I'll have to console myself with the fabulous issue of French Vogue this month.  Let me just say this:  Crystal Renn and that squid are insanely good together.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

En France

At the end of my freshman year in college, my mother came to visit to watch me row at Eastern Sprints up in Connecticut.  The name of the lake one which the races were held escapes me now.  The day was so miserable and rainy that my mother dubbed it Lake Wobegone, and that is the name that has stuck with me ever since.  But once back in Philadelphia we had a grand old time, and I felt very grown up being able to show my worldly mother around a major city that I knew better than she did.

I took her to my favorite bakery, my favorite coffee shop and my favorite international magazine store.  We flipped lazily through many unfamiliar publications, but it was La Maison Francais which made a particular impression.  I still remember the image that did it:  a photo of a yellow jacquard upholstered sofa in a sunny nook, the legs and arms of the sofa almost completely shredded by a cat.  My mother was enthralled that such imperfection could be celebrated in a national publication (and perhaps it made her feel a bit better about the occasional furniture shredding our cats engaged in), and I thought it was just the chicest most bohemian thing I'd ever seen.  I vowed to love all things french home then and there.

So it is no surprise that my newest bit of blog love is directed towards a french woman who photographs french interiors of friends, acquaintances and perhaps strangers as well for all I know.  Sort of a gallic version of The Selby, Ensuite is where I've been spending quite a bit of time lately.  

I wonder if I lived in France whether I would have glorious windows to throw open in the sun...

...witty cats...

...gorgeous tarts and chanterelle mushrooms just sitting around...

...fabulous and well organized shoes...

...chic perfume bottles and pink flowers adorning my bathroom...

...and on my mantle...

all photos from Ensuite

...or would my apartment look exactly as it does in New York?  

I think my shoe and perfume collections needs some work.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

To Your Health

One evening last week, Zenia and I headed uptown for a bit of quality time with one another and some cosmetics shopping.  We are both partial to the cosmetics floor at Barney's, Zenia because of good memories of a Vincent Longo makeup artist who worked there years ago, and me for their extensive selection of Byredo fragrances, so we hoofed it there straight away.

While looking for Byredo's new fragrance (M/Mink, sadly not yet in stores) I became absolutely infatuated with Gypsy Water.  TO DIE.  I could not stop inhaling my wrist.  It smelled of earth, I just could not get enough.  It has officially replaced La Tulipe and Blanche as my favorite.

Zenia found that Vincent Longo had long left the floor, and that the service one gets at 7:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, although reasonably serviceable, did not live up to her memories.  Between my inability to spend $195 on my new favorite perfume and her disappointing makeup experience, cocktails were in order.

We went directly across 60th Street to Rouge Tomate.  Now although the restaurant has been around for quite some time, I had never set foot inside before.  I suppose because I am still depressed about the loss of the fabulous Nicole Fahri store that had been the previous occupant of the Rouge Tomate space.

But as is so often the case in these situations, it had been my loss.  The space was gorgeous and calming and sleek, the sort of restaurant that I imagine Lilly van der Woodsen might frequent, and to which I am somewhat inexplicably drawn.

photo via nycgo

Due to a vague wariness about the kitchen's Sanitas per Escam philosphy (translated as Health Through Food), which sounded a little too much like some crackpot raw food manifesto that would cause us to pay untold sums for a plate of purslane or some such nonsense, we stuck to the bar.  And to the oysters.

The bar was a good call.  I got a Green Mary, which is essentially salsa in a glass with vodka.  Green tomato, tomatillo, jalapeno...all of my favorite green items in one place.  It was possibly the most refreshing, unique drink I've ever had.  Zenia's dark and stormy was up there as well.  Everything was so good I actually didn't mind the $14 price tag (and this is saying something...I almost always mind the price tag regardless of the situation).

The oysters, adorned with ginger, beetroot and mignonette sauce, were absolutely delicious as well, although at $16 for 5 oysters I think I'll be sticking with the $1 oysters at Lure and Ten Bells going forward.  I have to ask, who serves an odd number of oysters?  It's a phenomenon I've never witnessed before.

But that said, the food that was coming out around us looked fabulous (if a bit small).  Based on my experience with the very tasty cocktails I may just have to take a look at the very healthy food menu next time I'm in the neighborhood. 
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