Sunday, September 18, 2011

My how you've grown

When I went to college, I had these:

LL Bean Duck Boots

Now, there are these:

Steve Madden Mallard Boots

I still prefer the original ducks. What about you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall Shoe-a-palooza

little bit of thor?


modern oxford

we know how much i love buttons


love me a wedge rainboot

peacock swoop

argyle laces? awww-yeah

you had me at wooden wedge
All available at anthropologie (as if you had any doubt).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


...about the mold problem in our bathroom. So much so that I couldn't bring it upon myself to take a before photo. Okay, so it's not that terrible... but gross enough that it has to be dealt with. Stat. Because, of course, house guest number 2 is due to arrive in December.

So this weekend was spent cleaning the walls (thankfully the worst of the issue is isolated to one area near the ceiling in the bathroom) with some gross cleanser called Zoflora. Quite a challenge considering our ceilings are 10+ feet and I am not the most proficient on a ladder (ummm... gigantic klutz, let us not forget). Unfortunately there's patches of mold all along the wall just adjacent to the ceiling. So it's been quite interesting trying to sort that out. Then came the great "seal" with what I'm sure is toxic paint that is oil based and has a slight sheen, meaning impossible to clean brushes. And finally, the "mouldtec"- and condensation-resistant bathroom paint (conveniently available in the same color as the rest of our house: Natural Hessian). I've only managed to "cut in" on all of the edging and corners around the room (so, all the mold-affected areas). This weekend will be a second coat on all the edging and then a full coat on the walls. Man, do I hate painting. But not as much as mold. Hopefully this will solve the problem... but living in the dampest of all damp places, I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember

"Over the great bridge, with sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world." F. Scott Fitzgerald

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years. It seems like a lifetime ago...I guess in a lot of ways, it really was. I've moved twice (first half-way across the country and then to a whole new country). But no matter where I am living or what I am doing, every year when this day comes around, I always stop and remember.

I imagine it's the same for people who were living during the Pearl Harbor attacks. The fact that there could be a terrorist attack, on American soil, is unthinkable. We're lucky, though-- no foreign war has been fought on American soil since the Mexican American War (though that was only because Texas became a state during the War); and we are privileged to live in a place where there isn't fear of daily bombings or genocide or constant threat of terrorist attacks. Well, for the most part at least.

I've written about that day before; it's still not one that I like to dwell on and I still can't really watch the coverage or the specials or the memorials. Even ten years later it's too raw. So instead I thought I'd touch on the days after the attack-- how the city slowed down; How everyone banded together. It was remarkable, really. In a city where you keep mostly to yourself, you don't make eye contact, and you certainly don't talk to strangers, it was the complete opposite. People were kind to one another-- exchanging smiles, words of condolence or lending a helping hand. The donations were overwhelming-- money, food, clothes, offers of housing, cell phones. I, with a co-worker, delivered boxes and boxes of food and clothes to a salvation army center downtown where hundreds of volunteers were cooking meals for the emergency workers assembled at "Ground Zero" and providing a place to rest. And the volunteers-- they came in droves. So many volunteers that they had to turn us away. From around the country-- from around the world. It was amazing, really, to see how quickly everything mobilized. But it was the City's emergency services first and foremost that were incredible. I've never seen a force that big (40,000 police officers alone) assemble so effortlessly and in such a coordinated way. I think as laymen, we all knew it wouldn't last... that as the weeks went on, we'd eventually get caught back up in the hustle and bustle that is NYC. But for that brief time we were united... and for those there that day-- and I think every American who lived through that day, deep down, we always will be.

I wrote this passage five years ago, and I feel very much the same today. New York is something that gets into your blood and takes over your consciousness. If you're lucky enough to have lived there, no matter where you go or what you do, it will always be yours.
People think I'm crazy because I love NYC so much... "Why would you want to live there?" they ask. "It's so expensive, dirty... people are so mean." The reality? I can't believe that I ever left. It's the only place that I've ever felt was mine; a place where I belong; a place that I almost feel guilty for leaving. But in my heart, I know that I'll go back. Despite its faults, expense, general craziness, NYC is a place where so many people, of varied backgrounds, sensibilities, and, well, homes, come together to find a common ground; a place where all of these people who strive to be, and accomplish being, "individuals" can still come together and rejoice in being a single thing: A New Yorker.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Getting my Buda on

Buda Castle

I'm off to Budapest in a few weeks to meet The Daves. MRN is opting out of the hols (as they say in England) because he's not into the city vacations (and he thinks that I'll have more fun without him... not true!!). All the same, it's my first time in Eastern Europe (well, I've been to Austria, but Salzburg which is decidedly west...), and I'm super excited. I've been listening to Learn Hungarian! podcasts (I have absolutely no chance of speaking Hungarian despite my daily lessons, but it's fun to try) to prepare for the trip, and reading up on the history of the fair city (I like to know my history before traveling). Mostly I'm excited about the seeing the beautiful Neo-Gothic architecture and to walk along the Danube (on both the Buda and the Pest sides). And of course visit a medicinal bath (not for the swimming part because I'm super not into being in a bathing suit in public, nor am I a big fan of public pools). But I've been told that it's what you do, so I'm going to suck it up and give it a go-- because I'm not anything if not someone who will try anything at least once (well, so far...).

The fabulous thing? It's a quick 2 hour flight (as opposed to the poor Daves' nearly 15...). I'm meeting them in Amsterdam and we'll fly together to Budapest. Seriously-- I need to be taking better advantage of living in Europe.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

You can never have enough shoes...

...right? Don't tell the girl who refinished a china cabinet for her shoes if you think otherwise. Of course I'll have to rearrange to accommodate my latest treasure: my first acquisition of a pair of Chie Miharas. *Sigh.* Of course, they're waaay too expensive for my wallet, but these beauties I found on eBay-- in my size (39.5!! impossible to find!! It was fate!!-- so said the self-justifying devil on my shoulder), for £75- almost 1/4 of the retail price. Soft, supple leather, a sweet scallop detail on the toe, retro with a disco twist... how could I possibly resist?? Not to mention (well, I did mention in my previous Chie post), they're super comfortable given the brand's affinity for comfort without sacrificing style. You can bet I'll be trolling eBay for more deals... and maybe a second china cabinet... (kidding... just kidding).

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

If you've ever had a broken heart...

Monday, September 05, 2011


One of my FAVORITE movies. I actually own it on DVD... and watch it when it's on TV (which was quite recently in fact). Released in 1985, it was Matthew Broderick's 3rd feature film (followed War Games); Michelle Pfeiffer's 7th (how she went from Grease 2 to this role, we'll never know...); and Rutger Hauer's, well-- he had far more under his belt. And although many predating Ladyhawke were Dutch, let's face it folks, he was probably the big star of this film.

Even though the story is still a great one (come on-- star-crossed lovers, cursed and destined to live their lives together, but never as humans at the same time? Action, adventure, comedy and heart-crushing love story? Tale as old as time!), the music-- oh, the music-- is SO, SO BAD. Seriously... 70s porn music is never a good idea for a non-porn movie (not that I have first hand experience with porn music, but all the same, the synthesized goodness that floods all of the action (and otherwise) scenes of this movie really takes away from it).

My wish? That someone would not remake the movie, but simply re-score it. How freaking awesome would that be? Any movie music gurus out there willing to take on the challenge?? PLEEEAAASSSE??? Maybe for a 30 year anniversary party? Who's with me??

Oh, Matthew and your comedic genius

Navarre and Ladyhawke

The beautiful Isabeau telling the evil bishop to shove it

The three stars and the drunken priest

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Learning to sew

Well, learning is a stretch. Considering I haven't yet successfully threaded the bobbin (I don't really know what a bobbin is or if that makes sense). Considering, even after studying the instructions for about 30 minutes, I can't figure out how to get the machine threaded, I don't think this is going to be a very fruitful activity...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Countdown to Downton

I fell in love with the British series "Downton Abbey" last year, and am waiting with baited breath for the second season to begin (two weeks!!). I think I would have loved to live during those times... for the hats alone! Of course, I'd probably end up a ladies' maid or a cook, so perhaps not.

It's been a year since series one aired to critical acclaim. The series has a terrific cast (including the venerable Dame Maggie Smith) with a few great new additions joining this season (Maria Doyle Kennedy who played Queen Katherine of Aragon in another great series "The Tudors"-- whoop-whoop!). Filmed at Highclere Castle, methinks there may be another adventure in England on the horizon...

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Peak District

Can we say breathtaking? We had an awesome weekend (a few weekends ago now...) in the Peak District in Derbyshire. And little did I know that the town we stayed in (Beeley) was the land of my ancestors. It neighbored the town of Endsor (pronounced "Ensor") which happens to be my grandmother's maiden name, and, we suspect, where her family originated. Too cool.

We stayed at a wonderful B&B called Fold Farm. Named because, well, it's a farm (and still a working farm). We learned from one of the proprietors (a retired major from the Welsh army-- and an absolutely charming man with a wicked-- err, dirty, sense of humor) that his partner was the only landowner on the Chatsworth estate aside from the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire themselves. Alas, we weren't able to get the story behind that one (we were sworn to secrecy), but intriguing all the same. The good old major Vince was the life of the party-- he greeted us with afternoon tea in the garden, and was our tour guide/waiter (he cheerily served breakfast alone with constant happy chatter). And what a spread breakfast was-- homemade butter and jams, a full English (that's 2 eggs sunnyside up, sausages, bacon, roasted tomato, mushroom and all the toast you can eat for all you non-Brits), fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, fruit juices, water and bottomless pots of tea and coffee. Certainly better than any hotel (and terrific for the price). Major Vince is also a world champion fly fisherman and captained the Welsh team at the World Championships in Jackson Hole, WY in 1997. The farm house itself is full of character with low ceilings, exposed beams and quirky passageways.

Oh, and Chatsworth House. Pretty incredible. I don't have any good photos, partially because my iPhone battery was dying and partially because it was undergoing renovations, so the whole front side of the property was covered in scaffolding and tarps (an impressive feat!). The Devonshires have an impressive collection of art, both masters and modern, and the decor is a fabulous juxtaposition of old and new (my favorite thing). The property and gardens are equally impressive, and we very much enjoyed a tractor ride around the property and into the wooded hills behind where there are three vacation rentals that us lay-men can rent out (bit of trivia: Prince William lived in one of them for a few weeks during school as part of a work/study placement. Even royalty does stuff to get into college). Definitely something to look into for the next adventure in England.

Fold Farm-- the B&B

The Lane at Fold Farm

Private residence at Fold Farm
View of Chatsworth House from the garden
Dried thistles to discourage visitors from sitting on the fancy furniture
Cupola in the main stairway (previously obscured by a false ceiling that the Dowager Duchess had removed)

I loved the carpet

Wonderful sleeping lion in the sculpture gallery

The Hunter's Tower (Where Prince William stayed)