Life

LET’S CATCH UP 10.23.20

I’m in the final two weeks at my current job, the election is rapidly approaching, the days are getting shorter – it’s a season of change to say the least. Despite what feels like a chaotic world, I’ve been making it a real point to savor October – one of my favorite months of the year. We’ve baked pumpkin cookies, had a weekend at the lake, I’ve been reading seasonal books… little joys if you will. This weekend, Adam and I are on the hunt for apple cider donuts, going up to see the foliage in Central Park and watching the new Sofia Coppola movie, On the Rocks, with Rashida Jones and Bill Murray on Apple TV. Here’s what else is going on:

ON MY MIND:

  • I’ve passed my poll worker training and am officially set for Election Day. In preparation I’ll be voting early (over 30 states now offer the option!) next week. Have you made your voting plan yet? Voting.org makes it easy.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about what the holidays are going to look like this year. There won’t be the usual throng of tourists here in the city. Many won’t be traveling long distance to see family. There won’t be as much of a need for fancy party dresses and sparkly shoes. I think my content here on the blog will likely look a little bit different, with a focus on getting cozy at home and keeping things smaller scale. The one thing Adam and I are excited for is a return to our winter tradition of ice skating in the city. The Bryant Park rink will be back – and still free when you have your own skates like we do! – you’ll just need to reserve your time in advance.
  • I really loved these honest blog posts by Grace Atwood and Jennifer Lake about not wanting kids. I do want to have kids but was a ‘maybe’ for a long time and found that any ambiguity around the topic for some reason causes strong reactions – almost always from other women. I have been meaning to write a post on the grey area and thanks to their bravery feel inspired to do so. Coming soon.

ON MY BOOKSHELF:

  • I’ll be doing my best to support local, independent bookstores this holiday season. McNally Jackson reported that their sales are 50% down and Strand is down 70% to last year. Another great, Amazon-alternative option is Bookshop.org.
  • There’s still a week of October left and I’m squeezing in one more witchy-read. This book merges the Suffragette movement with Salem and between Halloween and the Election couldn’t feel more timely! I’m excited to dive in this weekend.
  • This month my virtual book club is reading The Radium Girls by Kate Moore which is based on the real life New York factory girls exposed to radium in the early 20th century. I’ve heard it’s riveting and the movie version was just released. My in-person NYC club is reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, which sounds like a nice escape read!

IN MY SHOPPING CART:

  • Call me crazy but I kind of want these leopard crepe pants. They’d be chic with a black knit turtleneck and black flats, no? And the price is definitely right.
  • I’m an absolute amateur when it comes to the skincare world – but I’ve been using this Caudalie purifying toner to help combat breakouts from wearing a mask and after just a few days I really see a difference!
  • This argyle sweater is 50% off right now and keeps coming in and out of stock in my size. *Hits refresh again* If I can snag it I’m going to wear it for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Speaking of getting cozy for the holidays – I desperately need to refresh my pajama drawer. I love the classic look of these.
  • This “pumpkin spice” quilted jacket that so many of you swooned over when I shared it is 40% off right now. It’s a great weight for these next couple of months of weather.
  • Is it too soon to think of holiday decor (the answer is a rhetorical ‘no’ here). I love the thought of this sparkly snowflake garland on the mantle.
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A CAREER UPDATE + MY GOALS FOR THE REST OF 2020

Here I am – in the entryway of a new path so to speak. My last day at my full time job is in a month. The brand is restructuring for the future and while, after 6 and a half years, it’s certainly bittersweet – I’m so thankful for the growth and opportunities that I was given while there and for the fact that I had some time to prepare for this.

If you know me personally – you know that my career has always been extremely important to me. I dreamed of a job in the New York fashion world in the same way that I suspect some women dream of children. I plotted and planned and for the past 12 years – I’ve done it. And yet now, on the precipice of such a big change, I have no idea what I’ll do next.

Which is, frankly, scary. But at the same time – a little bit freeing. Maybe I’ll finally take the plunge and do freelance work full time, taking on a range of clients that excite and inspire me. Maybe I’ll find an incredible job in an industry outside of fashion. Who knows? Although if you have leads send them my way 😉

While I can’t control everything about the next few months – I wanted to put together a list of goals for myself outside of work to keep me feeling happy and motivated in the midst of this big change.

  • Keep practicing the piano and ukulele. I’ve been half heartedly tinkering away on both over the past 6 months but want to get on a better, more consistent practice schedule.
  • Continue working on my novel. One of my big pipe dreams is to write a book (or who knows – a few!) and I have a pretty fleshed out concept that I’d like to dedicate more time to working on. In November I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – a program that helps you track your progress and set milestones so that ideally you’ve written an entire novel structure in a month!
  • Walk more of New York. If I’m going to have a little bit of extra free time on my hands – and before the weather gets too cold – I want to walk and explore even more of the city. My morning walks that I started at the beginning of the summer continue to be a true bright spot and contributor to my good mental health.
  • Catch up on my “to be read” book stack! I’ve already read quite a bit more this year than I have in recent years past – but I’ve got a big stack that I’d love to get through if I have extra time.
  • Dream big for the future. The road ahead feels wide open so I want to do my best to push through the fear of uncertainty and really think of what the next 12 years of my career could look like. The sky is the limit, right?

If you’re in the same boat, you’re not alone. This year has left so many of us grappling with seismic life changes. But I’m choosing to look at this through a lens of positivity and with an open mind. Onward & upward!

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WHAT 6 MONTHS OF A PANDEMIC TAUGHT ME ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIP

Pat yourselves on the back if you haven’t broken up with someone during the past six months. I’m kidding… but I think I speak for most of us when I say that this has been an incredibly trying time. I’ve never felt more stress about the world at large and probably never been more stressed in my work life. Add to that the fact that for 3 months Adam and I were both spending almost all of our time living and working inside a one bedroom apartment and even with him back in the office now, our life remains much more insular than it ever was before – and you’re bound to hit a few rocky moments.

This is a truly unique time to have survived with someone and there are a few things that have become even more clear to me over the course of the past 6 months. I think any one of these could apply to any close relationship you have (parents, kids, roommates, friends) not just a romantic partner – so I hope you find something that may feel helpful. Because who knows what the next six months will look like – but I know I won’t be spending it fighting about who should do the dishes.

A little distance goes a long way.

From going to the grocery store to watching TV, Adam and I have always tended to spend a large majority of our time together. So to some degree, the early months of the pandemic were probably not as big of a jolt as they were for some families. But that being said – two humans are not meant to spend every waking second side by side. And during the past six months it’s become more important than ever to be sure that we’re also giving ourselves a little bit of distance. Maybe that means me going for a walk without him or me going upstairs to read while he stays downstairs to play video games. Too much time together can inevitably lead to some quarreling or – equally dangerous – a sense of complete co-dependence on the other person. It doesn’t have to be for long or every single day even, but a little distance goes a long way.

Let them have an annoying habit. Or five.

Adam is a uniquely quirky person. His taste in music for instance – which ranges from deeply experimental jazz to hard core death metal to every song that Hall & Oates has ever recorded. And when the spirit moves him he will play these at a volume that rattles my bones. He also frequently whistle tunes over the mouth of a beer bottle. Come to think about it a lot of his habits are ‘noise’ related. But I stopped labeling these as annoying during quarantine. They’re just him. My life would be painfully quiet without him and I bet I’d miss the sound of him the most. And those habits that can get labeled as ‘annoying’ are bringing the other person some sort of joy – and truthfully not hurting you at all. Plus – just remember that your partner probably has an equally long list of all your quirks and habits.

Carry the extra weight when you’re feeling strong.

Inevitably, one person is usually having a worse day than the other. Maybe something went wrong at work for me or Adam was feeling particularly anxious – if that was the case, the other of us (who was feeling mentally/emotionally/maybe even physically stronger) would just step up and carry the extra weight. Because we are spending so much time together I feel like we’ve become particularly in tune with spotting these signs and no longer need to wait for the other person to come out and say “I’m having a bad day, can you make dinner?” which feels like such a relief when you’re the one struggling. Don’t wait to be asked for help. Who cares if you’ve been the one to do the dishes every night that week. Don’t keep score and just carry the weight when and where you can. I’ve found it never goes unappreciated or unreciprocated.

The only constant is change.

When the world comes along and rocks the boat of your relationship – it can be easy to feel upended. You had your routines, you were comfortable. But the truth is that your circumstances – and with it your relationship – are always going to be in a state of change. Nothing can escape it. All of life is fleeting and no one has a crystal ball. So when the rug gets pulled out from under your feet – it’s important to be with someone that you can weather that change with and continue to recalibrate throughout life. Rather than someone who you are with only because your current circumstances are set up perfectly to support that happiness. This won’t be the most challenging thing that we survive together (and if it is, we’ll count our blessings) – but that’s fine. We’ll be by each other’s side. And he’ll likely be whistling a tune.

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MY 10 FAVORITE MOVIES THAT FEEL LIKE FALL

  • You’ve Got Mail – “Don’t you love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” Swoon.
  • Goodwill Hunting – Collegiate, New England.. how ’bout them apples?
  • When Harry Met Sally – It’s actually our New Year’s Eve tradition to watch this movie (because of the ending), but it also happens to have some of the most quintessential scenes of New York in the Fall. It’s worth watching twice a year, no?
  • Practical Magic – 90s Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sisters who just so happen to be witches. It’s also worth noting that the book that this movie is based on is actually part of a trilogy – with the 3rd book coming out this October. I highly recommend the first two in the series and I’ve already preordered the new one!
  • Stepmom – Such a classic to me. It’s a tearjerker but also upstate iconic. And if you’re on a Julia Roberts kick – Mystic Pizza deserves an honorable mention on this list.
  • Moonrise Kingdom – maybe it’s that perfect Wes Anderson color palette but this movie has a definite autumnal feel to me. Same goes for Fantastic Mr. Fox.
  • Hocus Pocus – I was a kid in the 90s – can you blame me? Also SJP never ceases to delight me in her ditsy witch role.
  • Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Featuring Steve Martin and John Candy in an epic and hilarious journey to make it home for Thanksgiving. My family used to rent this on VHS when I was a kid and it still makes me think of watching it in our old living room.
  • The Craft – a must if only for all of the 90s goth-girl fashion that’s totally back in style now.
  • Remember the Titans – I’m admittedly not a football fan, but I do like this movie and for those of you that take your fall with a side of football, watching this would be a fun way to kick off the season.

What’s a movie you love that I should add to the list? I had someone suggest Knives Out which came out last year and I still want to see. Since I doubt I’ll be going to a movie theater any time soon I picture lots of cozy movie nights at home this season.

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LET’S CATCH UP 9.4.20

Perhaps a little worse for the wear, but we’ve made it to the unofficial last weekend of summer. Adam and I have been in the throes of some really demanding work weeks lately and are more than ready to blissfully check out at the lake house all weekend. Hope you all have equally relaxing plans. Below – what’s on my mind, on my bookshelf and in my shopping cart.

ON MY MIND:

  • I think we are all in agreement on how crucial voting is this year. I just submitted an application to be a poll worker. As someone with flexibility in my schedule and in good health – I want to make sure that I’m doing anything I can to help the in-person process at my local polling sites go smoothly. Apply here if you’re interested.
  • Museums have finally reopened here in the city! You need to buy tickets in advance and there are plenty of safety measures in place, but I’m already planning on a trip in late September or early October so that I can see the leaves of Central Park in all their glory from the rooftop of the Met. It’s one of my absolute favorite spots in the entire city.
  • The other night Adam and I spent several hours indulging a vivid fantasy in which we buy a cottage in the English countryside. I’m talking Google maps street view down rural roads, floor plan comparisons – the whole thing. I blame @hillhousevintage and the entire #cottagecore trend.

ON MY BOOKSHELF:

  • Truly one of the best things to come out of this strange year is the fact that I started two book clubs. And we’re into our second sessions already! The virtual group is reading The Paris Hours by Alex George this month and my NYC-based group is reading The Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson.
  • I tragically once ran out of books to read at the lake and I’ll never not overpack them again. I’ve got my library copies of The Chelsea Girls and The Topeka School in my weekender bag – just in case.
  • Claire – my other half @prettwords – has been reading and raving about André Leon Talley’s (former Vogue Creative Director) memoir: The Chiffon Trenches and I’ve promptly added it to my list. In a year of sweatpants, we could all use a dose of high fashion, no?

IN MY SHOPPING CART:

  • One of my goals this year was to invest in basics. Not that they necessarily needed to be expensive – but just to put a focus on filling in the holes in my wardrobe with good, solid staples. I always find myself wishing I had a dark brown leather belt – and this one could finally solve that problem.
  • I just switched over my closet from summer to fall and have plenty of great dresses to wear again this season. But if I do add a new one to my rotation, I think it will be this Seventies-inspired floral midi dress (30% off sitewide). Belted with boots for a stroll through the park or barefoot on the couch for Saturday napping – it works either way.
  • We’ve been using this year to tie up the loose ends around the apartment. Case in point – finally getting around to hanging curtains. We worked with Calico Corners on a quick home office update back in March (see that post here) – and loved those draperies so much we moved them down into the living room. Meaning we now need to replace the office/bedroom panels. They’re running a 25% off sitewide sale right now and I can’t tell you how much it elevates a room to have true, quality window treatments. It makes me feel like a real grown-up!
  • I want to add another pair of non-denim pants to my rotation for the fall and these wide leg cropped khakis are less than $40 now and look super flattering. I like the olive green shade.
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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.