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LET’S CATCH UP 3.12.22

Hello strangers. Another month has dragged by weather-wise and flown by work-wise and here we are. I’m feeling deeply ready for spring, hopeful about the loosening of pandemic restrictions and cautiously optimistic about our upcoming travel plans. While also being worried for the state of the world at large. Aren’t we all? It’s still so surreal to think that on this day, two years ago, we had no idea how much things were about to change. And even now – who’s to say what will come next? Seize the day, history tells us. Or at least that’s the lesson I’m trying to take from it all. Here, a few things on my mind, on my bookshelf and in my cart lately. Hope you all had a great weekend.

ON MY MIND:

  • I haven’t had a ton of time for TV lately but we’ve started the new season of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and are down to the last episode of The Great – which in my opinion, is one of the best shows on TV right now (it’s on Hulu to be specific). At turns smart, funny, sweet, cutting and almost painfully relevant given that it’s about Catherine the Great’s rule of Russia and how she wanted to move away from the nation’s barbaric past into a more enlightened future.
  • I’m a big fan of James Clear’s newsletter that sends simple quotes and advice for better habits and a happier/healthier life. This quote by poet May Sarton, sent in this week’s newsletter, really struck me: “The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room.” May we all make time to sit in the changing light of a room. Especially now that we’re getting more light each day.
  • The recent legislation passed in Florida and Texas (and beyond) targeting LGBTQ youth both enrages me and breaks my heart. The Freedom For All Americans site does a great job of breaking down ongoing legislation by state and then offers ways to donate or get involved. I urge you to at the very least make calls to your state officials if you live in a place where this is happening. These kids need our help.

ON MY BOOKSHELF:

  • I just started Better Luck Next Time – set on a ranch in 1930s Nevada where women would go until they could claim residency and get divorces granted in Reno. It’s a fun, easy read so far!
  • Last week I listened to People We Meet On Vacation on audiobook and absolutely loved it – one the best rom-coms I’ve encountered in awhile. I’ve also read Beach Reads by Emily Henry, but I far preferred this one.
  • Earlier this month I devoured The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy – a searing memoir about her mid-thirties, coming to terms with the balance of career and relationships, her outlook and experience with motherhood, forgiveness, loss and more. I thought this was beautifully done.
  • My book club is reading Greenwich Park next – a buzzy new thriller about a pregnant woman with a seemingly perfect life, who meets a friend in her prenatal class and suddenly things aren’t what they seem. I haven’t read a thriller in awhile so I’m looking forward to this one!

IN MY CART:

  • After having it on my running personal to-do list for about two years now, I finally went and picked out new prescription eyeglasses (these) plus got a pair of prescription sunglasses (these). I’m thrilled with both and frankly even more thrilled to finally be able to cross it off the damn list.
  • Call me crazy, but I kind of love the idea of this raffia bucket hat for our upcoming warm weather getaway?
  • I’ve also got my eye on this lace-up, nautical inspired sweater. I’d pack it for our trip but also wear it this summer at the lake with a pair of cut-offs.
  • I have these pajamas in navy and they’re just perfect. Thinking of picking up this oatmeal color (on sale right now) for spring.
  • How chic are these wide leg gingham trousers? They look as comfortable as the aforementioned pajamas. I’d wear them with a black crewneck t-shirt and a fun pair of earrings.
  • I love this black dress for spring date nights. It feels very Audrey Hepburn, á la Roman Holiday to me. I tried this brand last summer when they gifted me a dress (they make things in the same factories as your favorite contemporary brands like Reformation and Faithful, but at a fraction of the cost by charging a monthly site subscription and going straight to consumer). I was pleasantly surprised by the fit and quality and since you can cancel the subscription at any time I’m planning to try them again to pick up this dress.

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LET’S CATCH UP 2.12.22

It’s been a month since my last blog post and while it wasn’t exactly a planned break… I likely needed it. I’m still not sure about how regularly I plan to approach this space moving forward, but I like these check-in posts so I’m going with that for today. Tomorrow? Who knows.

January was both a very long month and a fast-paced blur. Work was as busy and stressful as ever, the days were veryyy cold, and after recovering from Covid at the start of the month we promptly got our booster shots and then recovered from that. We visited family, caught The War on Drugs show at Madison Square Garden and spent lots of nights cozied up on the couch. Below, what else I’ve been up to + what’s on my mind, on my bookshelf and in my cart. Hope you’re all having a great weekend.

ON MY MIND:

  • How are you doing on your goals/resolutions/intentions for the year? I’ve been drinking more water, going for daily walks and making time for writing and weekly dates with Adam. Nothing ground-breaking but a better work-life balance is a major focus for me this year, so even these small shifts have made me feel a lot better overall.
  • Speaking of work-life balance, I am determined to travel again this year. Last year I was able to go visit my best friend in Minnesota for a weekend and spent a couple of days in Florida with my sister.. but the last time I had a proper vacation? A week off work? I can’t even remember. I don’t want to jinx it by sharing my potential destinations before we book something – but you’ll be the first to know once I do.
  • We started watching The Gilded Age on HBO and while it’s definitely a slower show, the NYC history and costume design is worth watching for. Meanwhile, I can’t wait for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to come back next weekend.
  • We finally watched the movie Spencer (with Kristin Stewart as Princess Diana) last weekend and I’m frankly still haunted by it. I wouldn’t say I absolutely loved it, but I can definitely see why she’s an Oscar contender.
  • Slowly but surely I’m making my way through this embroidery from The Fabled Thread. My goal is to be done by this summer so I can frame it for our room at the lake house! It’s the perfect activity in the evening for when I want to keep my hands from endlessly scrolling my phone.

ON MY BOOKSHELF:

  • I’ve been saving Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi (one of my favorite new authors that I found last year) for the week of Valentine’s Day as a little reading treat to myself. She has such a sharp, modern voice that to call this book a romance feels reductive. Emergency Contact and Yolk were both favorites from my 2021 reading, and I’m already loving this too.
  • I joined another book club… that makes 3 if you’re counting. This one is a local group and we’ll be reading books either by New York authors or ones set in NYC – and then when we meet to discuss we’ll also do an activity related to the book. In short, it combines my two great loves – books and New York – in such a fun way. Our first read is Speedboat by Renata Adler, originally written and published in the 1970s.
  • Look past the cover of this new release, Vladimir by Julia May Jonas, because I’ve been hearing nothing but rave reviews. About a set of married professors and their romantic entanglements both on campus and off. Claire (my partner in crime @prettywords) said she couldn’t put it down and I generally love a dark academia setting. Looking forward to diving in.
  • My virtual book club is reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett this month. She’s one of my very favorite authors and I’m excited to read more of her back list work. This was originally published in 2008 about a diplomat dinner turned hostage situation.

IN MY CART:

  • I haven’t been doing much shopping (saving up for the aforementioned travel instead!) but this cute gingham tote is on my wishlist and won’t break the back.
  • Coincidentally this navy and ivory bouclé cardigan would be a perfect match. I like the idea of this dressed down with slouchy jeans and fun heels.
  • I’ve been using this toner religiously for the past two years. I just ran out and swear I notice a difference in my skin after just a week of not using it. Time to place a reorder, stat.
  • I have this classic striped shirt in camel and white, but I love this new pistachio version. Green seems like it’s going to be everywhere for spring.
  • Starting this week I’ll be in the office 3 days a week. This textured red blazer would add a bright pop of color to my usual rotation.

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MY INTENTIONS FOR 2022

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.

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NEW YEAR, SAME STYLE

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.

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Exact handbag, jeans, and white shirt are linked above, vest is vintage and exact blazer and heels are old.

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THE BEST BOOKS I READ IN 2021

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.

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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!

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