New for April

20 Apr

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Spring, where for art thou? I bought pansies last week intending to plant my window boxes but New England had other ideas. Today it snowed.

In my attempt to escape the misery of this endless winter season and trick myself into patience as I await the bright and early AM coverage of the royal wedding, a few weeks ago I decided to investigate who this Meghan Markle was and what her show “Suits” was all about.

Now I’m not usually one to gush about something as low brow as television. But before you stop reading — I promise, this is leading somewhere you want to go. I should note that I am NOT a network TV-watcher. I was never a huge consumer of television before I met my husband, but Brian slowly turned me into a television snob. It started slowly: The Office. Thirty Rock. Parks & Recreation. Do you see where this is going? The quality shows. Now I almost exclusively watch Netflix and Amazon original series’ because they are just so damn good.

Suits - Season 6But Suits blew me away. I didn’t expect too much so I happily dove ahead, right into Season 7, (skipping seasons 1-6 because I’m impatient like that) but quickly fell hard for the snappy, intelligent, hilarious bromance between Harvey and Mike. The writing is superb and I find myself laughing over various lines, or often, little facial expressions I’ll recall Donna or Harvey or Mike making in something I’ve just watched.  IT’S JUST SO GOOD, so trust me and watch. And Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane, well.

Meghan-Markle-Suits-PicturesShe. Is. Exquisite.

Full on girl crush over here. Move over Price Harry, because I get it. If Meghan is at all like her character on the show, Rachel Zane, it all makes sense. Also, her HAIR IS ALWAYS AMAZING. I don’t know if I tooootally buy that “a mutual friend set them up” all blind date like, because if I was him and I watched the show which I have a sneaking suspicion that he did, you bet I’d be pulling all the strings to find a mutual friend to help get it set up, too. But watching almost five whole seasons of her has been such a luxurious treat and I can’t wait to see what her choices are as far as the wedding goes because she clearly has incredible taste and is stunning.

Also, as someone who used to watch Gossip Girl purely to admire the fashion and to figure out how (HOW) Blake Lively’s mane was as glorious as it was, between Donna, Rachel, and Gina, (ok, and Harvey, with his peaked lapels and Windsor-knotted ties; see a great Suits style breakdown here), Suits fills a void in me that is starved for elevated, subtle, corporate-world style. Jolie Andreatta, the costume designer, is killing it. Here’s a great collection of some amazing looks from the show. I had been getting my fill from Mireille Enos on The Catch, but it hasn’t had as long a run and the witty banter between the two leads isn’t quite as quippy.

Suits - Season 6But back to Suits. The first few seasons are especially amazing, so I’ve been loving the opportunity to watch them back to back, en masse like this. I say opportunity like I have no children, job, or life. As I write this, I’m hiding in our office, kids asleep, laundry and housework all in need of attention, yet all I can think is: do I have time for one more ‘Suits’? It helps that episodes are only about 40 minutes long. I feel like it’s also worth mentioning that it took me almost all of Seasons 7 and 1 before I stopped confusing Gabriel Macht for Johnny Lee Miller, of Hackers fame. I KNEW I’d seen and loved him in something but couldn’t quite place him. Well, when it finally hit me, it was like I was hit in the face with a ton of bricks: He was Johnny from one of my fav ever Diane Keaton collabs.

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Does anyone reading remember a little film called Because I Said So? It was the movie that first introduced me to the magic of a Diane Keaton film set. (How about that Hampton’s House, am I right?) Also, knitwear. This is totally an aside but, do you know that Diane Keaton had her knitwear for that film specially made by a luxury knitwear designer? I learned this during a deep dive one night while I was fantasizing about how I will one day, eventually, (in my spare time), master knitting my daughters’ luxurious, Norwegian-inspired, heirloom-quality knitwear. Obviously.

Anyways, in the film, which is terrible but I love anyway, Mandy Moore plays one of Keaton’s daughters. The love-afflicted one. She also happens to be a chef which is the real reason this film has a special place in my heart. I love movies about chefs — even if they’re terrible. I can’t help it. Anyways, this specific film introduced me to the magic of a “Lady Baltimore” cake — Keaton baked it for Mandy Moore in the film, and ever since, it has topped my “To Try Someday” list and I will go to my grave with it still at the top of that list probably, seeing as it’s been like 10 years since I first saw this damn movie, and have yet to make the cake.

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Johnny, played to adorable affect by Gabriel Macht, was the guy I’ve had in my fantasies forever more or less, since the first pages of Pride and Prejudice were seared into my heart, in that he appreciated “Milly” (Mandy Moore’s character), just as she is. Much like Mark Darcy appreciated Bridget Jones, just as she is. (Hang on, there is an amazing connection here that I’m rambling my way to. Just hang on!) That, and those brooding, dark brown eyes. Because good God, what is he wearing throughout that film. And why is his hair that color? Yikes.

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Although the second Bridget Jones’s Diary was absolutely horrid, this is in direct inverse contrast to the bright beacon of light HIS REAL LIFE WIFE, Jacinda Barrett was in the film, as the misconstrued love interest of none other than… Bridget. The fact that these two real life celebs had two roles I absolutely adored them in in two films I really appreciated just makes me all that much more certain that there is someone pulling the celestial strings somewhere and that deja vu really is something important… but, I digress. If you’re still even with me and were able to follow any of that…

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Then the last thing I need to mention as far as weird celestial coincidences is this: Amanda Schull from Center Stage is ALSO on Suits, as is Gina Torres, from the previously mentioned The Catch. And both are absolute bad ass bitches (excuse my French) in their roles. I particularly adore Amanda as Katarina, Louis’ devoted Associate. She plays her absolutely perfectly and I love to see the dancer I wanted to BE way back when, resurface in a totally different role. And as for Gina, well — I can’t wait for her spinoff.

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But back to the show. It is really amazing and you need to watch. Trust me! Seasons 1-6 are free on Amazon Prime right now.

If you need more convincing, the stories about what they’re like on set make me chuckle. As do the bloopers. Enjoy and happy weekend!

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On My Mind: February

4 Mar

I’ve talked before about how I live to start (but rarely finish) projects. Now that I’m a mom of two, this extends to just about everything. Lunch. A Shutterfly calendar. Deciding which type of strawberries to plant this spring. The list goes on.

I’m afraid if I wait any longer to write full posts about some of the things currently on my mind, that day will never come so I’m going to test out a new monthly series idea, kind of like a “Currently Digging,” but on a monthly basis. I bet it will be fun to look back at the end of the year, too. So, without further ado…

Betula apoiensis ‘Mount Apoi’ at the winter garden, The Bressingham Gardens, Norfolk.

  1. Winter Gardens by Cedric Pollet

    It’s an annual tradition that once the Christmas decor is packed away (aheam, in February), I become consumed with spring garden planning. This time it coincided with my discovery of a book dedicated to the beauty of the dormant winter garden, aptly titled, Winter Gardens, by Cedric Pollet. To say that is has completely changed my approach to garden design is an understatement. Utilizing seedheads for winter interest was on my radar already, but this book opened my eyes to bark color, heathers, and flame colored dogwood stems and I cannot stop thinking about it all. After yet another season gazing upon the depressing, barren void that is our current backyard all winter, I could easily drop thousands of dollars at a garden center in a heartbeat designing our garden with the “winter garden” in mind.

  2. Tricycle Paths

    How ADORABLE would a dedicated “tricycle” path be curving around the perimeter of our huge backyard? For over a year now, “kid-friendly backyard ideas” has been the unicorn of my Google search history: do they even exist? It’s laughable what comes up in the returns — insanely unrealistic tree houses and DIY swing-sets. As I’ve started to think more and more about integrating our landscape design with the set-up of our daughters’ swing-set, I’ve been thinking long and hard about how we want to utilize our outdoor space.My must-haves include: a space to comfortably entertain and eat/relax as a family; a safe space for the kids to play; and I dream of a comfortable, quiet, shaded spot where I can take a book and my tea every morning and just escape for a bit. Ideally, in a teak adirondack steamer chair like this. I could go on and on about how deep I want to dive with our landscape design and plan which I’m taking on myself, but the most exciting aspect so far has been stumbling across a photo (FINALLY) of a swing set with an adorable little curving bicycle path around it.

  3. Yoga teacher certificationIn my early 20’s I considered getting my Pilates mat teacher certification and have kicked myself for YEARS for having not followed through. I just took to Pilates. It was my “thing.” For someone non-athletic, I was weirdly good at it so when my favorite instructor pulled me aside once after a class and told me: you should really be teaching, I practically died on the spot. Before my love affair with Pilates though, I was a yoga devotee largely thanks to Rebecca Pacheco, my teacher for years at Inner Strength. Long before either of us had kids or she became the authoress of Do Your Om ThingI was one of her Thursday night disciples. I rarely missed a class for years because attending was akin to therapy. Her teaching is just different from other instructors, more meditative if that makes sense? Since I love to work with children, I’m most interested in that certification, but I’m also considering pre-natal certification as well.
  4. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

    I haven’t had much time for television lately, but I couldn’t resist the premise of this show about an Upper East Side wife turned stand up comic. And the lead is INCREDIBLE. She was born to play this part. I think the most incredible thing of all is that the actress in the lead was a rather minor player on House of Cards and when I see her in the lead role on Mrs. Maisel I’m just astounded that so much talent was relegated to such a minor role on another show I love. I feel like it has opened my eyes to how crazy it must be to be an actor.

  5. Natural Skincare and makeupThroughout my early 20’s, I desperately wanted to start a database-type website that inventoried product ingredients to help educate and inform people about makeup and skincare products after I learned how damaging it was to not wear sunscreen while using retinol products. Although that project never quite got off the ground (holla, Beauty Check Blog), I’ve been moving more and more toward natural skincare and makeup lines since I feel really strongly about avoiding exposure to toxins and chemicals. This Into the Gloss article about Emma Watson’s similar transition to more natural products was excellent and gave me a lot of great leads for things to try next.
  6. Quick dinners without recipes

    Maybe it’s all the crappy, gray weather lately, but I had a rare craving for one of those creamy, soul-warming Hamburger Helper meals recently. It’s not a nostalgic thing either, my mom wasn’t a box mix type of cook; it’s more that I never cook creamy pastas and the few times I do are when Brian is traveling (so I can do something cheesy/with cream) or I’m feeling lazy (hence a box mix dinner). It’s weirdly indulgent for me I suppose. Anyways, I don’t keep many prepared box meal type foods stocked in our pantry beyond taco kits so I did a quick Google image search and found an inspiration meal: Creamy orecchiette with sausage, peas and kale. We only had elbow macaroni, lean ground turkey, zucchini, and peas and no heavy cream, so that’s what I ran with and improvised where I needed to. It was delicious and so simple — I cooked it all in one pan. A pinch of freshly grated parmesan romano took it to the next level.

    Emilia chose the pasta and helped me stir and add the peas and seasonings so it was a fun experience in the kitchen together. Then she wanted to make cornbread too, so we really went for it with dinner that night and it all turned out absolutely delicious.

  7. Montessori activities for toddlers

    My mom was way ahead of her time as far as her approach with my siblings and I growing up and I realize this more and more as I observe other parents with their children. Curiosity and exploration was encouraged and we learned at every single turn instead of being told “no” or “don’t touch.” I’ve adopted the same style with my kids too and in seeking out new activities for my girls, have realized how much I relate to Dr. Maria Montessori’s methods and approach to children’s learning. I particularly love this, from her writing:The classroom is  prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed.I’ve been on a quest for simplification and order in our house for a while now, so it particularly resonates with me that children crave order and independence. Merely through observation, I’ve noticed how much more deeply they engage with activities when there is simply LESS. And, for my older daughter, when she feels a sense of autonomy as far as being able to select her own paper, stickers, or markers from an “art drawer” when she wants to work at her coloring table.

    I haven’t read anything by the Italian physician, educator, and innovator as of yet, but plan to as I continue to look for inspiration for some of the toddler activities and environments I want to set up for my girls as they grow.

    a selection of fiddle leafs at Home Depot

  8. Fiddle Leaf Figs
    I’m about $200 deep as far as investing in these finicky, uber popular house plants; I’m averaging about two a year at this point. I buy them in the late winter and baby them until the garden takes off, usually around July, and by then they’re usually vestiges of what they once were; dusty, completely dried out, and clinging to life.Right on schedule, I purchased a new one in mid-February and have vowed that THIS ONE WILL LIVE. The thing is, these things are total divas. If I look at mine wrong, it dies. One early mistake I made was over watering, but the next batch died of thirst, so this time I decided to hedge my bets and intensely research how to not kill it. In my research, I learned that they’re not technically supposed to be house plantsThey’re tropical trees native to rainforests that can grow to absolutely MAMMOTH size. No wonder the little stunted thing in a pot doesn’t do well for me.

    I’m sure there is more that has been floating around in my head but this will have to do for now. ‘Til next month. Godspeed, fiddle leaf.