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THE BEST FALL SHOES TO SHOP NOW

There are few things that soften the blow of summer’s impending end to me.. but fall footwear is one of them. This past weekend I felt the first of fall’s cool air creep in and promptly did what any rational New York woman would do.. I went shoe shopping. The picture above shows the two perfect pairs I snagged and the rest I’ll just be dreaming about from now until when fall truly shows up. I’m not rushing it though.

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LET’S CATCH UP 8.4.19

As we sit at the beginning of August, still in the thick of hot summer days but with the realization that they’re passing all too quickly, I figured it was a good time to hit pause and catch up. Below, a few things on my mind before we head into what will no doubt be another whirlwind week.

  1. This past week (amidst a difficult work week) I started making lists on my phones of random things that made me happy each day. It really shifts your perspective. This week here are a few things that landed on my list: Saw two old men who seemed like old friends unexpectedly run into one another in the park, saw a very little girl hug a very big fluffy dog, a big bunch of limelight hydrangeas bloomed along my walk to work, Adam made me laugh until I was in tears, I tried a new workout… the list goes on. This post mirrors my sentiment.
  2. Adam and I set a goal to be “finished” with decorating the apartment by October. Not that it still won’t evolve as we live here but we have a few things that we want to push ourselves to wrap up so we can finally start entertaining this fall. This rug is at the top of our wishlist for the living room and we’re thinking of popping up to Brimfield in September to find a few more vintage finishing touches.
  3. Speaking of homes – this house tour is like a Wes Anderson movie come to life. That incredible kids room is exactly what I’d do if the lake house were mine alone to decorate (it’s doubtful that Adam’s family would agree to this – ha!). Life is too short to not have fun with decorating.
  4. We’re almost done season 2 of Big Little Lies (HBO) and Ozark (on Netflix) – both are so suspenseful! What should we watch next? I could go for some comic relief.
  5. August always signals “back to school” shopping for me and as a kid that meant a new pair of jeans. My friends at Talbots just sent over this pair of girlfriend jeans and they’re the perfect relaxed fit in a timeless dark wash. I’ll be wearing them everywhere come September.
  6. Our tiny local park (we call it our backyard) plays free outdoor movies in the summer and this week we’re going to see Wall-E. The animated pixar movie first came out in 2008 and was set in the “future” and shows all of these humans who only communicate through tiny screens fixed in front of their faces, even to speak to someone right next to them, and have had to leave their planet because it’s overrun with trash. I think it will be incredibly poignant to watch it now that we’re firmly in said “future”.
  7. Speaking of things that should be cautionary, fictional tales, but are frighteningly our reality – the gun problem in this country has reached an absolute fever pitch and I don’t know how we’re still not agreeing on this. It’s not a partisan issue when people are afraid to go to the movies, send their kids to school or do their weekly shopping for fear of being gunned down in a mass shooting. Here’s a great site with 30 ways to take action.

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THE STEELE MAIDEN BOOK CLUB: CHAPTER TEN

I’ve been reading so many books this summer that I nearly forgot to go back and write the reviews on this batch! I have long days at the lake house/in the park to thank for that (plus stress at work that leads me to want to escape into a good book to blame for it). Last time I checked in, I committed to 5 books and I breezed right through them all and for the most part really love each one! Below my reviews + what I’ve already moved on to next on my shelf. And you can find all of my book club posts here.

SHOP THIS MONTH”S BOOK CLUB:

Black Swans by Eve Babitz: What an unexpected treat. This collection of short storeis reads a bit like Joan Didion meets Carrie Bradshaw if she were a 1960s Hollywood groupie. There were times I would write her off completely as a vapid valley girl and in the next sentence she would write something so beautiful I’d be searching for my notebook to copy it down. The stories are about the city of Los Angeles and her wild times… and sober days… living there. I loved this and it set me up nicely to get into the 1970’s LA rock ‘n roll scene that led right into reading Daisy Jones. (4 out of 5 stars)

Normal People by Sally Rooney: I expected to love this based on the rave reviews I was seeing everywhere – and I did like it… but I haven’t found myself highly recommending it to anyone. The novel follows a long up and down relationship between a young girl and guy as they struggle to define themselves both separately and together. While the portrayals of the main characters were honest and in depth, there was something slightly forgettable about the entire storyline – just teetering on the edge of being fully engrossing to me. (3.5 out of 5 stars)

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins-Reid: This book on the other hand was exactly as fun as I hoped that it would be – I honestly may read it again this summer (it only took me a day and a half I was so into it!). Written in a really interesting documentary style of interviews, the novel follows a band that rose to quick fame in the 70s and then broke up. Very ‘Almost Famous’ – a movie I love deeply, so consider that a major compliment. (5 out of 5 stars)

Blue Nights by Joan Didion: Ohhh Joan. Her book ‘The Year of Magical Thinking‘ about her husband’s death and daughter’s illness is in my top 10 favorite books of all time. ‘Blue Nights’ didn’t knock that out of place, but I really loved it too. This one is about her daughter’s death and once again Joan’s incredible ability to cut through the heart of one of life’s most trying experiences and really examine her own closest relationships is so moving. (5 out of 5 stars)

Goodbye, Vitamin: Funny and heartfelt this was a quick read that I ended up loving after picking up on a whim at the library. This novel follows the story of a woman in her early 30s who moves back home for a year when her father is diagnosed with dementia. Sometimes when things get the hardest in a family, it’s exactly when you need to find the humor most – and this book does that to great effect. (4.5 out of 5 stars)

SHOP NEXT MONTH’S BOOK CLUB:

I’m going to be closing out the summer reading as much as I can. My stack this month includes Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi, My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (all buzzy, relatively new fiction), Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (non-fiction following the true love lives of three American women – in vastly different scenarios – I’ve heard SO many rave reviews of this) and Leading Men by Christopher Castellani (which just seems like a fun, summer read). Happy reading!

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LINEN BLAZER + CUT-OFF DENIM SHORTS

In general, I’m not a very casual dresser. I don’t wear leggings out of the house unless I’m going to the gym and I never got on board with the whole athleisure trend. It’s not to say I don’t think it looks good on other people, it’s just not me. That being said – one casual piece mixed into with other more classic pieces feels right for a hot summer day. Case in point: these jeans shorts paired with a linen blazer, statement earrings and neutral block heels.

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I’ve always just felt that life (and especially New York) is worth dressing up for. What if you run into an ex? Or a potential boss? Or a reallyyyy pretty West Village street. Dress for the neighborhood you want to live in, right?

In full disclosure, these jeans were Adam’s and were only slightly too small for him so he gave them to me to cut-off (I won’t dwell on the fact that we have nearly the same sized waist…), but pretty much every thrift store in America has a good pair of vintage Levi’s that you could do the same with. I say that because there are an somewhat alarming number of girls on Instagram wearing $150 cut-off jean shorts and raving about how amazing they are. Here’s an alternative.

And while I’m giving out advice – this bag has been one of my favorites since spring and is now on sale. It will be a wardrobe hero straight through fall. I tied on this vintage Liberty London silk scarf that I bought in a nearby vintage shop about 10 minutes before we snapped these photos. Even my bag’s like to dress up apparently.

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DIY BUILT IN GALLERY WALL

Our apartment building was built in 1905 and it was that old world charm that immediately drew us to it and made it feel like home. But there are some interesting quirks and design challenges that come along with that – not to mention the restrictions of being a renter. This nook (once likely a door that was sealed off somewhere throughout history) had just the top two narrow shelves installed when we moved in. And neither one was evenly spaced. To make it look more purposeful we decided to build out the rest of the wall, adding two more shelves that look like a match and filling it with frames of various sizes. It took me months and months more to actually decide on the photos for said frames – and if I’m being honest I’m still not sure that I am 100% firm in my decisions – but I love that it feels finished and I can easily swap photos if I’d like.

Each of the photos holds a special meaning for us and since it’s on the wall that sits between our living room and kitchen we look at it daily and wanted it to feel sentimental as opposed to filled with something like abstract art.

Above (from L to R): a photo of my late beloved Nan looking like the perfect 1940s pin-up, a photo of a sign we saw on a trip to Portland, Maine (I loved the typeface and the motto), polaroids from Palm Springs, Montauk and Manhattan, a happy bunch of chamomile (a favorite tea and flower!), a street in London next to a photo from a sunrise at the lake house (two of our favorite places), my niece and nephew, a postcard from one of our favorite restaurants in Charleston and finally – a photo we took in Copenhagen.

Below: two photos from our recent trip to Paris plus a classic car spotted in the East Village.

Below: One of my favorite pairings – this classic car next to a swan swimming through Hyde Park in London. Masculine vs. feminine. Man-made vs. nature. Two things of beauty in two completely different ways. Both were iPhone snaps – a testament to the fact that anything can be elevated to art in the right context.

Below: My Dad (the youngest on the left) with his two brothers in the 1960s and a photo from a picture perfect Fall day we spent in Amsterdam.

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