Monthly Archives: June 2012

What I Wore to Ascot

My trusty Macbook, which is like 100 million years old, is finally on the way out and it no longer allows me to load photos (or to run two programs at the same time, play DVDs/CDs, or operate whilst being unplugged- basically me and the spinning rainbow wheel are BFF), so I have been waiting ALL DAMN DAY for David to get off our iMac so I could post this.  Sharing a computer is sooooo 1998 and really isn’t conducive to a healthy marriage.  “Are you done yet?” has become the phrase of the day and it’s making me crazy.

ONWARDS!  There have been some inquires from friends (and from my mother, HI MOM!) about the outfit I wore to Ascot last weekend.  I didn’t get many pictures of myself at the event because I was too busy hogging the camera and taking pictures of horsies, so you’ll have to settle for a post-Ascot outfit post. Because it is winter outside (again!) and because I cannot will myself to do that fashion blogger thing where I get all dressed up to distractedly pose in front of some greenery or in an abandoned alley (no disrespect, super-stylers!), these photos will have to do. 

Okay, my outfit!  After some v. laborious Google image research in which I learned that the average female Ascot-goer dresses a) like they’re going to a wedding, b) like a grandmother, or c) like a tacky tart, I made the informed decision to stay as far away from these categories as humanly possible.  Initially I thought I’d buy a vintage pant-suit, but I had (notice the past tense) a Harrod’s gift card that was calling my name and I ended up falling in love with this feathery, flapper-style Michael Kors (aka Queen Tangerine) number instead.

Next step: the hat! Fascinators were banned from the Royal Enclosure at Ascot this year, so I felt that my initial idea of a flapper-style headwrap would be a little too risky, not to mention a little too on-point… I didn’t want to look like I was wearing a costume, after all!  In my head I was envisioning something a la Julie Andrews in Thoroughly Modern Milly and after many exhausting searches, I finally found a hat that was the right shape, but the wrong color.  It was on sale and I was tired, so I bought the hat and a can of black spray paint and came home.

The next day, I tore off the ugly bow and spray painted my blue hat black.  Later that evening (this is the night before Ascot, mind you…) I sewed decorative beads and feathers to the back for a little bit of a wow-factor.  Sewing things onto a straw hat is gory, people!  My fingers still haven’t forgiven me.

Morning of, I put on my dress and painted all twenty of my nails in my favorite simple, clean polish, OPI‘s Bubble Bath (this was a total repeat from my wedding when I painted my nails 20 minutes before the ceremony… when will I learn?!).  I used MAC‘s Party Line on my lips, put on a pair of earrings I bought at a Renaissance festival forever ago (no joke!), tucked my tried and true Clare Vivier clutch- which I lovelovelove- under my arm and was out the door!  I didn’t put on my shoes, which I got from an old co-worker who also has tiny feet, until we got to Ascot.  Usually I’m incredibly overzealous and immediately jam my freshly painted toes into my shoes and completely ef up the finish, but this time I practiced self-restraint and my toenail polish didn’t chip until the next day. YAY!  I’m a lady!

Another fun fact: I couldn’t find black feathers anywhere in my Hobbit Town, so I ended up having to buy a silly mask with black feathers on it and repurpose them onto my hat.  Craziness, I tell you!

So there you have it, my first ever What I Wore post. I can’t wait to don my dress again!  Someone, give me an excuse!

 

And there I am again.  HI!  Men in the service are allowed to wear their uniforms into the Royal Enclosure in lieu of a morning suit.  Pretty snazzy, huh.  OKAYBYE!

Aperol Cocktails

There is nothing I love more on hot summer day than an Aperol Spritz.  I fell hard for them on a trip to Italy last summer where it became our staple pool-side cocktail at our villa nestled in the Tuscan countryside.  Many months later, I had the most gorgeous Aperol Spritz I’ve ever seen at Sam’s in Boston.  The color reminded me of a phoenix rising and I’ve been trying ever since to have bartenders replicate it, to no avail. 

Just as I often choose my outfits based on the shoes I’d like to wear, I also sometimes decide my drinks based on the vessel I’d like to sip from.  Tuesday was a warm day, by English standards, and I was itching to use my vintage champagne glasses that my parents gave us for our wedding in March.  I didn’t want champagne, so I decided to play off an Aperol Spritz and make an Aperol Cocktail.  It’s cool and refreshing and perfect for a warm afternoon that isn’t so stifling that you crave ice.  Here’s how to make one:

  1. You will need: Aperol, Prosecco or a dry sparkling wine (I used cava because I like it better), and soda water. 
  2. In a pitcher or cocktail shaker (we left ours in Boston, accidentally… tragedy!) combine equal parts Aperol and soda water and stir with ice until it is very cold.
  3. Strain into a glass- the prettier the better!- and top with prosecco/sparkling wine/cava.  As you add the cava, the drink will change from the color of dying embers to that of a blushing sunset.  Garnish with a lemon slice and enjoy! 

It’s super easy and, as is the way with me and summer cocktail-crafting, there are no definitive measurements.   Just add as much of this and that as you like until you decide it tastes right.  I’d say my concoction was 3 parts cava to one part Aperol/soda water.  The end result was light, bubbly, and super beautiful to both look at and consume.  YUM! 

    Tuesday w/Moi II

    I bought this book at a used bookstore last week because I just can’t turn down Hemingway.  I love him! Why? Because Hotchner describes him of having a fear of the telephone, because he always wore an old Nazi belt which was too wide for his belt loops, so he wore it over them, and because he said incredibly wise things very simply, such as, ‘Never confuse movement with action.’  Also, Hemingway is basically synonymous with ‘badass’ and I like that, too.  And he was a great writer.
    During my years working in a salon, I became very particular about the products I use to keep my hair healthy and gorgeous (no really, I love my hair, though it’s in desperate need of a color soon).  Every ten days or so, I use Rene Furterer Complex 5 on my scalp and Karite Oil on my follicle to keep my head moisturized and healthy.  These plant extract oils have the added bonus of smelling heavenly, making them a morning indulgence that I look forward to between treatments.  Yesterday was one of those special mornings and I lit a candle to celebrate (sidenote: I prefer candlelight when I’m showering, it makes everything so soft and lovely!).
    It was a long time coming, but I finally got around to hanging my earring rack and kimono yesterday.  Slowly but surely this apartment is coming together to become a home.
    Made a shopping list.  We needed a lot of soap!
    In town, I found a little street paved with rocks that reminded me of the surface of an oyster shell.  It made my heart ache for the ocean.
    I didn’t end up buying any flowers on my shopping trip, but I did buy a mint plant which is almost as good!  I’m definitely going to make a pitcher of minty lemon fizzy water this afternoon.
    Skyping with my Dad.  He’s in Australia right now.  Our family is a time-zone nightmare!
    The English don’t call French Presses French Presses, they call them Cafetieres.  Weird.  Also, I miss my Moccamaster so so so much!  We fried the motor when we plugged it into our UK outlet (with an adapter, mind you) and it’s sadly beyond repair.  As is my heart.
    Checking-in on Le Chat.  She has the best life ever, no?
    David came home!  I still get excited when I see him after a day spent apart.
    I made Aperol cocktails with prosecco and soda water.  Like an Aperol Spritz, minus the ice.  More on this later in the week…
    Cowboy dinner.
    Got lost in my work and forgot to take a picture at 21:00, OOPS!
    I like to think that Lula and Samantha House Jewelry are going to be good friends.  Girl of my dreams, indeed!
    Thank you for sharing my Tuesday with me, friends!  I think I need to get over my penchant for left-leaning paper-goods, no?  It’s so painfully obvious that I’m right-handed!
    xoxo

    SUMMER?

    Over the last few weeks, while all my friends in the States have been eating popsicles, boating off the Vineyard and sunning themselves, I’ve been wearing sweaters and rain boots, trying my best to stay warm and dry… until today!  Today is one of those rare English days where it actually feels like summer.  Yes, it’s still quite cloudy and I probably didn’t need to slather myself in SPF 30 this morning, but I can’t help but be a little overzealous when this weather feels so foreign and deliciously wonderful.   For the first time in weeks*, I’ve let my limbs out of their fabric shackles for a day of frolicking in the sun, and oh, the sun!  How glorious it is!

    Today, I am thankful for the sun.  And for beer gardens, too.  What are you thankful for?

    *Barring my time at Ascot when my limbs were bare but also covered in goose bumps. 

    @Ascot

    You guys, this ain’t no Kentucky Derby, it’s Ascot.  Royal Ascot, in fact.  A genteel affair that’s as British as Sunday roasts and high tea with the Queen (seen entering the Royal Enclosure in her carriage, second photo).  It doesn’t get any more British than horse races and irony-free head-wear and I’m so pleased I was given the amazing opportunity to take part in this 301 year-old tradition. 

    On Saturday morning, I put on my knee-length dress* and home-made hat,** took David’s arm and we made our way to Ascot.  A very generous friend***  invited us to join his party in the Royal Enclosure which meant we were far removed from the majority of the fashion monstrosities that are just as much a part of the Ascot tradition as the horse racing.  Luckily, there are pictures

    As you can imagine, I was ever so charmed by the clothes- especially the morning dress worn by the men (Swoon City!).  If an American man were ever required to wear tails and a top hat to a sporting event, they’d pick up their guns and start shouting about Civil Liberties faster than you can say George Washington, which is precisely why the majority of men at the Kentucky Derby look like they’re in an Easter-egg hued parody of Boardwalk Empire, complete with unlit cigars, clip-on bow ties, and ill-fitting bowler hats.  Though there was much moaning about the restrictive dress code this year, the crowd at Ascot was [for the most part] wonderfully put together and very handsome, indeed!

    And speaking of handsome, how ’bout those horses!  I’ve never been one of those horse-obsessed girls with notebooks full of pencil-drawn horsies, their manes blowing majestically in the wind as they gallop across a plane or along a steep embankment that falls into the sea.  That being said, I’m not immune to the power and grace of a beautifully built horse and I definitely fell a little bit in love with a temperamental grey stallion that lost me five quid and taught me to never again bet on a horse just because it’s pretty.  And when they race, oh! how your heart does beat, especially if you have good money on a horse.  The horses are so strong, so fast, I imagine that being a jokey is the closest we’ll ever get as humans to feeling we can fly. 

    Horse racing has gotten into my blood and like a junkie I’m already searching for my next fix.  I’ve spent the last two days daydreaming about picnic lunches and steeplechases, of bigger hats, bolder dresses, and sunny racetracks, of horses nibbling apples from the palm of my hand.  Maybe, just maybe, I’m a horse girl after all.  A horse racing girl, I mean.

    *It’s by Michael Kors, for those who are interested. 
    **I didn’t make the hat, but I did spray-paint it black and hand-sew beads and feathers to the back, which warrants some props, I think.  
    ***Thanks, Mike!

    I’ve Got Mail, Part II

    Not only do I have mail, I also have a PEN-PAL!  Her name is Natalie and she’s super awesome.  She and I became friends once upon a time in college and we bonded right away over our shared love of beautiful handmade things (she’s much better at creating them than I, however), cooking, and vintage housewares.  When she proposed that we becomes international pen-pals, I agreed immediately and am so pleased I did!  Just a few days ago I received this adorable card in the mail and even though it’s rainy, it put a big huge smile on my face!

    Having a pen-pal has taught me that I can no longer write in neat, straight lines on blank paper, I still write letters with the emotional depth of a high school note, and I need to make some cute stationary as soon as humanly possible!  I must say, too, that the act of writing a letter is very cathartic and introspective- it’s like shooting with film, and every word has to be intentional.  I’m so excited to continue this letter exchange with my dear friend and am also excited to build up my finger muscles again!

    In her letter to me, Natalie wrote that a man (fully grown) stood in front of her at the post office with two sheets of paper in his hand.  When he got to the counter, he asked the postperson how to mail them.  HAHAHA!  People are so funny.  And Natalie always has great stories!

    Now, I must hip-hop away to finish adorning my hat for Ascot tomorrow!  Right now it smells like spray paint but I’m hoping that will change overnight, otherwise I’ll be wandering the racing grounds with a very serious contact high.  EEEK!

    TODAY

    Today I’m going to enjoy the blue (bluish/grey) skies.  Lately, the internet has been more of a hinder than a help and today I need to kick my own ass and get some stuff d.o.n.e. 

    Have a beautiful (and productive!) day and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.  xx

    Tuesday w/Moi

    I’ve started a new initiative for the blog.  The idea struck me as I was cruising through Sandra Juto‘s blog and came across her One Photo Every Hour, Monday post.  What I love about Sandra’s photography is that she captures the little things in life- a balcony, a flower, a crack in a teacup- and she has such an authentic point of view which she charmingly communicates both verbally and visually.  Reading her posts makes me wish I could join her for an eight hour-long walk through Berlin.

    As I look for projects and work here in the UK, I sometimes feel as if my life isn’t as interesting as it was in Boston, where I was surrounded by inspiring friends, colleagues and clients.  Of course, it’s my job to make my life interesting, so I’ve decided to challenge myself every Tuesday to take one photo on the hour for every hour that I’m awake.  I will give myself one minute to take the photo (from the time the clock hits x:00 to x:01) and will try my best to make the most of where I am and focus my lens on something interesting.

    Yesterday was my first attempt at my new challenge.  Some of the photos are okay, and a lot of them are terrible but I’m excited to train my eye and get better at this exercise as each week goes by.  Not only does it inspire me to find beauty wherever I am, it also inspires me to do things that are beautiful so you lot don’t think I’m the most boring person on earth every Wednesdays when I post my photos.  So let’s begin, shall we?

    Date: Tuesday, June 19
    Le Chat gazing out the window in our bedroom.  I woke up half an hour before (I know, lazzzzzy) and was getting some work done in bed before heading into London with David.
     Literally running out the door to make it to the station in time for the 10:21, which we missed by 30 seconds due to a ticket mix-up.  Do you like our weird Garfield Hooters sign above the door?
    I don’t, either.
    On the train to London.  We were in a coach full of The Very Elderly.  Lots of newspapers and balled-up tissues, which I chose not to photograph.  Instead, here’s a picture of one of David’s stacking creations.  He likes to stack stuff in piles.  It’s cute.
    Enjoying a baguette and latte at Spreads on Pall Mall.  I was so hungry when I got off the train that I stumbled into the first independent-looking cafe I could find.  It was very simple but wonderful and reminded me of a NYC deli.  I like that they make crispy bacon the American way.  YUM.
    Walking paste the Animals in War Memorial before heading into Hyde Park.
    Trying on clothes at Harrod’s.  I had some gift cards to spend…
    Walking to meet David in Green Park.  The sky clouded over and I was glad I had a jacket with me.
    I literally thought I was going to pull a LiLo and have to be hospitalized for dehydration, so David and I stopped in a little cafe near the train station for some sparkling water and a snack.  And maybe a glass of wine, too…  I really like the Berger bottle.
    “I want to see teeth”
    I don’t know?
    Back on the train.  Ready for an Adventure?
    In a cab home after stopping at the grocery store. Most people don’t tip cabbies here, but David and I do it anyway. I can’t help it, I’m just so impressed they actually know where they’re going!
    Trying on my outfit for Ascot, which is this Saturday.  Don’t worry, I’ll paint my toenails before I go…
    Getting some work done & Skyping with my mother whilst drinking tea.
    David and I have been watching Spooks in the evenings lately.  We’re in the 3rd season now but it’s just not the same without Mr. Darcy (Spoiler Alert!).
    Cuddling with Le Chat before bed.
    Zzzzzz….

    Yo, Mom!

    Mom, if you’re reading this, I want to Skype with you!

    If you’re not my mother, please do yourself a favor and call your mom today.  I’m sure she’d like to hear from you.  If you’re like, Yeah, no, my mom definitely doesn’t want to speak to me, then call someone else you love and don’t talk to all the time.  I’m sure they’d like to hear from you, too.

    I have exciting things to post tomorrow.  Not like OMGEXCITING!!!! but, like, I think they’re fun.   See you then!

    p.s. Mom, I’m being serious.  I just bought the best leather skirt ever and I really reallllly reallllllllllly want to show youuuu! 
    p.p.s. It’s such a bummer when your family isn’t just a phone call away… or, rather, they’re a phone call away that is going to cost you through-the-nose.

    Sunday Lunch @The Hare

    Yesterday, David and I laced up our walking shoes and strolled a couple miles down the road to The Hare where we enjoyed a beautiful Sunday lunch.  After our meal, we sat in the garden for a drink and dessert (rhubarb crumble with custard, yummmm) and all around us were families with children.  Many of these children took it upon themselves to find entertainment amongst each other, and they played in the field beside the garden- games of tag and cricket and whatever else English children do- and sometimes an adult would saunter over, beer in hand, and kick a ball around, too.  But usually the adults sat together in the garden, enjoying conversation and a drink in the sun with a few children leaning their heads on their arms, quietly listening in.  

    The attitude toward child-rearing is far more relaxed here than in the States and parents seem to have a more harmonious balance between their own social priorities and the activities of their children.  Once a couple has children, their children do not seem to replace their social life, and I think it’s great to see families together at pubs, groups of parents engaged in conversation as their children run off on their own.  At first I found the presence of so many youngsters to be tiresome and irritating, but the more I see it, the more I realize their inclusion in the ‘adult world’ is actually healthy and quite liberating.  Instead of sequestering their children at home with a sitter, they allow them to experience and observe the real world, and allow them to behave like children at the same time.  It’s just one of those English things- like Sunday lunch and beer gardens- that I find sweet and charming.

    How was your weekend, dear reader?  Did you do anything exciting/inspiring/relaxing?