I usually share my goals and intentions right at the start of the new year. Hopeful and ready to see what the next 365 years can bring. But I ended 2021 in bed, quarantined with a case of Covid.. so I’m giving myself a bit of grace here. 346 still to go, right?
In so many ways, 2021 was harder for me than 2020. The first year at my new job was incredibly fulfilling and exciting – but also really demanding. I dealt with some health stuff. Travel was put off for another year. My world felt really small in a lot of ways. Work, home, sleep, repeat. The word on everyone’s lips was ‘languishing’ – not quite depressed.. but not exactly thriving either. I certainly could relate.
When I think about the near year ahead I feel, despite two years of a pandemic, resiliently hopeful. I like to pick a word each year that kind of serves as a guide to how I want to approach things and this year I picked “vast” – like the wide expanse of the ocean. I want to get out into the world – exploring the city and beyond. I want to remain really open to new opportunities and to seeing where things lead even if the path isn’t immediately clear. I want to stop talking about some of the things that I’ve wanted to do but have put off these past few years and finally do them. Vast!
In more practical terms that means intentionally shifting my life so that work – while still a major priority – is better balanced. Making time to write each week. See what direction my imaginary novel begins to take. Daily walks. Prioritizing setting weekly dates with Adam that take us to new restaurants, places and experiences. Finding ways to travel, from a day or overnight trip to bigger trips. Continue working towards our financial goals. I have a big birthday coming up this year and I want to enter the year feeling really great about where I’m at and where I’m headed in my life.
This blog remains, honestly, a bit of a question mark for me. While so many influencers are lamenting Instagram right now, I do still really like sharing content in that space and having a quick way to connect with so many of you in a way that I don’t always feel here on the blog. However, I also like writing in longer form content.. but not necessarily about the same subjects as I used to here. Sometimes I like the idea of shifting to a weekly newsletter instead. In general I find myself wondering if the time I spend here takes away from work I could be doing in other areas? I’m not sure of the answer, but I’ll keep you posted.
Here’s to 2022. May the year be ‘vast’ in all that it brings us.
It’s a new year.. and I feel really content to be entering it with the same ‘style’ as last year. And the year before. Of course, I’m always weeding pieces out of my closet that no longer serve me or feel quite right, and adding new items that I think will fill in the gaps. But for the most part I don’t have any gnawing new year feelings to ‘refresh my wardrobe’. And it’s a relief.
Likely a combination of age and the fact that I’ve been really conscious these past few years about honing in on what feels most like ‘me’. Which is to say a mix of classics and more modern pieces, a balance of feminine and masculine, and things largely influenced by the 90s (think Carolyn Bessette not Courtney Love) and the late 50s/ early 60s. These days I try to collect items that are ‘forever pieces’ – even if they won’t physically hold up for as long as I live, they’re items that I can see myself wearing now, and in my 50s or my 70s.
This wasn’t always the case for me though. I can vividly remember standing in front of an overstuffed closet back in 2017/2018 and thinking I had absolutely nothing to wear. If you are in the same place now, or consistently fall victim to picking up trendy items that feel great in the moment but then feel tired in a year – I feel you. My best advice to combat it is to do a major closet cleanse, keeping only the items that truly fit and bring you joy. Then make Pinterest mood boards of the styles and outfits that you think you’d feel great in. From there, slowly and thoughtfully find pieces that will work with the items you already have and push you towards those mood board looks until you can cobble your closet back together.
I started this for myself in January of 2019 and now 3 years later I can reach into my closet nearly blindfolded and put together an outfit. It’s not an overnight process but it’s one that, for me, was well worth the effort.
So if you see me in this outfit again in a year… or a decade… that’s fine by me.
SHOP THE POST:
Exacthandbag, jeans, and white shirt are linked above, vest is vintage and exact blazer and heels are old.
I’m set to finish 62 books this year, certainly my biggest reading year in the past decade. When I thought of picking my favorites I tried to think of the books that I still find myself reminiscing over. Whether it was the way they made me feel, a certain character in them that remained especially vivid or a storyline that really captured my mind or my heart. Below, my top 10 books of 2021.
In terms of stats – it was fun to notice that all 10 were written by women, 6 were debut works, 4 were by diverse authors, 4 were backlist titles (meaning they didn’t come out in the past couple of years) and 2 were non-fiction.
And in case you’re looking for more: my 2020 top 10 list here and my 2019 list here.
The Paris Wife by Paula McClain – Originally published in 2012 (almost a full decade ago!) this book had been on my list to read for awhile now and I’m SO glad I finally did. This is one of those rare books that I would absolutely re-read. A love letter to Hemingway’s Paris and the woman lost to his early history.
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters – Unlike anything else on this list, or that I’d read before. This debut work was hilarious and heart-breaking in equal turns. A modern story of trans identity, motherhood, and love.
Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff – Another backlist title, this one from 2016, proved that if you can press pause on the shiny new releases, there is a world of amazing books that I still want to read from years past. This one blew me away in a way that a book hasn’t in a long time. A couple so complicated, so dynamic, so unbelievable yet so vividly real – I still think about them often. Another book I can’t wait to re-read in a few years.
Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi – I was really excited to find this author this year and she quickly became a new favorite. Yolk is a really gripping story of two sisters and their complicated relationship set in modern New York. So few books get today’s generation’s voice right and Choi really does it well in my opinion.
She Come by It Natural by Sarah Smarsh – If you can believe it, I just read this over the course of the past couple of days (it’s short) and it made the list! It’s essentially a think piece on Dolly Parton’s life and a look at how she’s been a brash, unorthodox embodiment of feminism all these years. There’s a lot on the way she was raised – which is very similar to my own late Nan (who I adored and who not surprisingly, was a Dolly fan herself) and how she never ‘got too big for her britches’ as my Nan would say. I loved it. Long live Dolly.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller – Switching between present day Cape Cod and the main character’s often wrought childhood in Manhattan, this book was at turns dark and gripping. A complicated family dealing with the rippling effects of past traumas with settings so vivid you felt like you were there.
Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz – I sometimes struggle with short story collections – I like a few, feel mediocre about the rest. Get bored and set it aside. Not the case with this debut collection of short stories, that I devoured in a day and still think about a few of the stories. Sometimes dark and always full of emotion, this author will be one I watch.
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb – One of the most interesting ‘memoirs’ I’ve ever read in that it re-told the stories of her great grandmother, grandmother and mother as they were passed down to her. Largely, it was a love letter to the strong women in her family and the bond between her and her beloved late grandmother which I adored.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett – Her second book, The Vanishing Half, made my list last year but I’m so glad I went back and read her debut novel because I actually like it even more. There are particular lines in this book I still think about months after reading it.
Olympus Texas by Stacey Swann – A dynamic family with drama as big as the gods, this story set in the ranch lands of Texas played with themes of Greek mythology while remaining completely modern and original to me. My entire book club loved it and I’m hoping it gets translated into a movie or miniseries. The female characters were some of the most interesting I read all year.
SHOP THE LIST:
Looking at thAT list, I definitely lean towards more complicated, sometimes darker reads – so I wanted to add in a few honorable mentions for 3 books that were completely *fun* to read.
The Guncle by Steven Rowley – An out of work actor and resident ‘Guncle’ (gay Uncle) has to take in his young niece and nephew for the summer in his Palm Springs home. Hijinks and heartwarming moments ensue. Such a feel good read.
The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling – Read this next October. It’s like Practical Magic meets Gilmore Girls, fun, light, and romantic with just the right amount of witchiness.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – This was described as Dracula meets Steel Magnolias and as strange as that sounds – and as unlikely as I was to me that I would like this book – I loved it and couldn’t put it down this summer. A reminder to branch out every now and then when it comes to your reading life!
Between the fact that I’ve been going non-stop since November and New York has seen a pretty drastic rise in Covid cases (planning to get my booster shot asap!), I had a very quiet weekend at home and it was a welcome change. Looking forward to a slightly shorter work week ahead and seeing family this weekend for Christmas. However you’re spending the week, I hope it’s a good one! Here – a few things on my mind before the holidays:
ON MY MIND:
Have you watched ‘And Just Like That’ the Sex & The City reboot? I’ll be honest, the first 3 episodes were a bit of a downer. But admittedly, I love returning to Carrie’s world (and closet) regardless of the storyline. Plus, it’s refreshing to see a show starring 3 women in their 50s. I’m looking forward to see where the season goes.
I also started watching ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ on HBO and am loving it. Honestly, Mindy Kaling – who created the show – can do no wrong in my mind. The writing feels so fresh and fun.
When I haven’t been playing ‘Kacey Musgraves Christmas’, I’ve been listening to the new War on Drugs album. We saw them play in Brooklyn maybe 6-7 years ago and I’d love to see them live again. Will 2022 allow for plans like that? I sure hope so.
I found these ‘The Shell House’ spiked cranberry seltzers at Trader Joe’s the other week and am loving them. They’re only 100 calories and are super light and bubbly tasting. I add a wedge of lime and it feels like a fancy cocktail but way lighter and with less alcohol. Nice when I don’t feel like a heavy beer.
ON MY BOOKSHELF:
I’ve been flying through a handful of holiday rom-coms this month and my favorite has been Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis – but honestly, I think my mind will turn to mush if I read one more. Ha.
I picked up The Turnout by Megan Abbott from the library after Claire raved about it. It’s a *slight* thriller set in the ballet world around The Nutcracker – which feels fitting after just having caught a performance at Lincoln Center earlier this month.
Infamous LA girl and author Eve Babitz passed away earlier this week and it makes me want to read more of her work. Imagine if Carrie Bradshaw lived in LA in the 70s mixed with a dose of Joan Didion. Her observations were so sharp and self aware. I loved Black Swan and want to read Sex and Rage or the biography about her – Hollywood’s Eve.
My virtual book club is reading The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot this month – a sweet sounding story about an unlikely friendship between a 17 year old girl and an 83 year old woman. It feels like it will be a cozy read for over holiday break.
Mango has a great end of season sale happening right now – I’m eyeing this striped sweater in a chic tan and black combo.
If, like me, you realistically plan on spending a good deal of time in loungewear over these next couple of weeks – then you likely need these leggings. They’re nice and thick and super high-waisted, which is exactly what I want in a lounge-type legging.
Post-holidays I’m in the market for new bedding and a new bedroom rug (our current one sheds so badly I swear it’s like we have a phantom dog). After years of white bedding, I kind of like the idea of a color like this one.
We’ve got 12 Days until Christmas and frankly, I’m barely hanging on. Work/life has felt particularly demanding these past few weeks and while I’m trying not to let that dampen my holiday spirit, it’s making it slightly challenging to fit in all that I want to soak up during this season. Regardless, since I’ve already checked off a few of these, I’m confident that I can get through the rest of my list before the year ends. ‘Tis the season for ‘city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style’ after all!
Wander through the West Village: Streets like Grove, Bedford, Perry and Bank are always full of festive cheer and beautifully decorated doorsteps. I’ll try to grab a bite at Sant Ambroeus or Buvette while I’m there.
Have a Movie Marathon: Love Actually, Elf, Serendipity, The Holiday, While You Were Sleeping, and Home Alone are all favorites in our home. Best served with warm cookies and a mug of tea.
See the Lights: We first went to Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood a few years ago and the lights and decorations can’t be beat. Hoping to take a drive through after work one night this week since it’s fairly close to my office.
Give Back: Despite the hustle and bustle, this time of year always reminds me to be thankful for what I have and try to give back to those less fortunate. I like dropping off new books to my local Little Free Library (kids books especially in case a parent needs something to give to a child), and donating to causes like the New York Cares Coat Drive (where $25 gets someone in need 10 meals and a warm coat for the winter).
See The Nutcracker: I hadn’t been to see this in over a decade and so I had been dreaming of going again this year. We made it happen last week and I’m happy to report that it hadn’t lost a single ounce of its sparkle and magic.
Go out for a Festive Drink: I met my book club girls at Lillie’s in Union Square last week.. which is essentially a bar that explodes with Christmas decorations this time of year. The service left a little to be desired but it’s so festive and fun, plus the drinks were good, that it all evened out. I’ll try to grab a drink at Pete’s Tavern in our neighborhood too (it’s one of the oldest bars in the city and was closed for nearly all of last year).
See Live Music: Not only did I get to go to a show at Carnegie Hall for the first time last week, but later this month I’m seeing a live classical string band performance of all Taylor Swift songs.. in a candlelit Trinity Church. It sounds nearly too good to be true.
Visit the Tree: It’s not Christmas in New York without a visit to the Rockefeller Tree.
Fifth Avenue Windows: Likewise, a stroll along Fifth Avenue to see the window decorations. It’s become a yearly tradition to pack a thermos of hot toddies to ward off the cold and the crowds.
Ice Skating in Bryant Park: The pandemic has meant that you have to pre-book times and they book up really quickly – but if you can grab a spot, do it! I love Central Park skating too, but Bryant Park is a nice central location and you can say hi to the NYPL while you’re there.