Fashion forward

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It started with the designer Vera Bradley.

Several years ago, my daughter Kate fell in love with everything Vera Bradley: bags, wallets, lunch totes. Fortunately, she didn't need to look far. My mother had a pink Vera Bradley bag that was headed for a garage sale, so Kate grabbed it.

To me, the bag looked like something a grandmother would carry, precisely because a grandmother had carried it. And of course I love that particular grandmother. It just surprised me that this bag - and this designer - could look fresh and modern and appealing to not-yet-teenage eyes.

And it's not just Vera Bradley. If Kate were to make a list of shoes she's currently coveting, the list would be very, very long. One of the pairs on that list would be the "Authentic Original" leather boat shoe from Sperry, with the emphasis on "authentic original," meaning not the new, fun, sometimes sparkly Sperrys, but the ones that were popular when I was Kate's age. They're brown and sturdy-looking. To her, and many others, they're wonderful. I just can't get past their past, if that makes sense.

Then, the other night, I was reading the June issue of Martha Stewart Living, and there was an article about making summer handbags that look exactly like Bermuda bags. Remember Bermuda bags? With the wooden handles? I had forgotten all about them, and there they were. When I look at the picture of these bags above, I think they're really very cute and Spring-like. I just don't know if I could carry one - again.

Definitely part of this is just me. I'm showing my age. But a little part also might be Vera and Sperry and Martha. Because yesterday I was looking through the new Anthropologie catalog and saw a shift dress and a peasant dress, both of which looked like something my mother might once have worn, as well as something I had as a little girl. And guess what? I flipped over these dresses. I thought they were fresh and modern and so appealing. Go figure.

(Image from Martha Stewart Living.)


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Yesterday we had our windows cleaned.

It had been six years. Six years of dirt is a lot of dirt.

Once, in the days before children and when they were very young, we had our windows washed twice a year. Each spring and fall, the window-washing guys would trudge into the house with their buckets and sponges, and several hours later we would sparkle and shine. I don't know how they do it, because I've tried, and my results are not their results.

There is nothing better than a clean window and nothing worse - aesthetically speaking - than a dirty one. Six years of sticky hands, pollen, rain, and snow. Nearly three years of dog nose and wet, muddy paws on storm doors. When Frank, the owner of the window-washing company we've always used, came to the door, I didn't recognize him. I said hello and looked for Frank. It had been that long.

Now that we're sparkling and shining, I've vowed we'll never be grimy again. Window washing is expensive, and we've had so many other ways to spend that money. But clean vs. dirty? So worth it.

(In the picture above, you'll see paint starting to buckle, ready to peel. Yes, another project.)

Don't forget

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I walked home from school dropoff with a friend yesterday, the day after a tornado ripped through central Oklahoma. My friend said she didn't feel as though she could explain one more tragedy to her 8-year-old daughter and had asked her husband to keep her away from the television. She also said she worries that the media too quickly forgets about earlier events.

I hope we won't soon forget about tornado victims in Oklahoma. NBC News has put together a list of organizations that are accepting donations, if you can help. And in Oklahoma, the media is doing a good job at finding and focusing on the heroes of the story, just as it did in Sandy Hook, Boston, and so many others. Boston, meanwhile, is doing its own good job remembering those affected by the events of April 15. On Saturday, under the name #onerun, anyone who wasn't able to finish the marathon will get a chance to meet at the "one mile left" mark and run together the final leg of the race. Of course, there will be spectators along the way cheering them on. Boston wouldn't have it any other way.

(Photo by Jennifer Green.)

Time flies

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm having a time-is-flying-by moment. These spring weekends (and weeks) are so full, there's hardly time to think. It reminds me of having babies, when well-meaning people said, "Enjoy this time; it goes by so fast," and I thought, "I'm really trying, but mostly I'm feeling overwhelmed." We'll race to the end of spring, measured by the last day of school (the end of June in our case), and then it will all come to a halt, at least for a while. Yesterday, I went with one of my daughters on a field trip to the ocean, where we spent the day searching for crabs, shrimp, and starfish. We climbed over rocks, waded in icy-cold water, and ate picnic lunches on beach towels. I tried not to give in to the feeling that my field-trip days are numbered. As parents of 8-year-olds, we can still elicit screams of excitement from the school bus when it pulls into the parking lot and the children spot us waiting by our cars. That won't last, I know, but an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old remind me that what comes after also is good, just different.

I hope you have a very happy - and relaxing - weekend.

To watch and to read

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I'm terrible about making time to go to the movies - ironic, because I love them and think each time I go that it's the very best I've ever seen. "The Hunger Games" was perhaps the last in-the-movie-theater movie I saw, which tells you something. But the film that's going to get me in my car is most definitely "What Maisie Knew," based on the Henry James novel, about the breakup of a marriage told from a child's perspective. In a review, Time Magazine says it's difficult to watch but is "the most provocative movie about parenting ... since 'The Kids Are All Right.'"

Speaking of parenting, I'm waiting for my library-reserved copy of What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-One Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most. In these essays, women writers tell about gifts from their mothers that impacted their lives in profound and often unexpected ways. One writes of leopard-print shoes; another of a horse; and a third about a year of sobriety before her mother died of alcoholism.

One box of Kleenex for the movies; one for my bedside table.


Friday, May 10, 2013

My grandmother - my mother's mother - passed away before my sister and I were born, when my mother was newly married. My mother, an only child, adored her mom, and when I was little, I loved hearing stories about their life together.

I worried, though, about my mother missing my grandmother, and I didn't like to think what it must have been like for her when she passed away. To me, it was unimaginable not to have a mother. Yet, she told me that after her mother died, she so often felt mothered by others. I liked that idea.

My mother passed away two years ago. I'm now in her shoes. Only, my feelings of being mothered come not just from others, but from her. I can't call her each day as I used to, but I think about her every single day, throughout my day, and I feel as though she's still very much my mother and always will be. I once found it unimaginable to lose a mother. Now I don't believe you can.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and an especially happy Mother's Day.

My mother and me.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jenna Lyons, executive creative director and president of J. Crew, is everywhere. A profile in Fast Company. Glamour Magazine's Woman of the Year. One of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. The subject of a New York Times article, "Jenna Lyons, the Woman Who Dresses America."

My favorite Jenna Lyons piece, though, is the April Harper's Bazaar "My List" column, in which she describes a typical 24 hours of her life and, in the process, describes herself. Reading it was like reading US Magazine's celebrity feature called "They're just like us!," with photos of famous people doing ordinary things such as grocery shopping and tying their shoes. As I read the Harper's Bazaar column, I thought, "She's just like me!" For example, she says, "I try to get my coffee to taste as close to coffee ice cream as I can." I do too. "One of my assistants gave me a T-shirt that says Sorry I'm Late." I don't have an assistant, but I'm always late. "My preferred mode of communication is silence!" Me too. "I check my Instagram far too much." I do as well. "I'll go for a year eating the same thing and then I'll switch. Right now I'm eating Cobb salad; last year it was tomato soup." I do the same. "I like to go out with just a few people at a time. I'm not good in giant group situations." I do too, and I'm not either. "I love looking at magazines. I get every possible one.... It's a problem." I do too, and yes, it is.

So, not too shabby being like the very lovely creative head of J. Crew.

Meanwhile, love, love, love the cover of the May issue of Harper's Bazaar. Partly it's because I like Gwyneth Paltrow, partly it's the colors - white, pale blue, pale pink, and grey - and partly it's something else I can't quite figure out. It feels both old-fashioned and very modern. It has an almost other-worldly feel to it. Just so pretty.

(Photo by Daniel Jackson for Harper's Bazaar)

Cleaning and canning and other good things

Friday, May 3, 2013

Very favorite activity this morning? Going item by item through Crate & Barrel's "Clean Slate" line of utility products ("utility made beautiful," as the Website says). I had the best time. I found a fabulous fly-swatter. Some bins and hooks and mats. A much-desirable upholstery brush that gets pet hair off furniture and clothing. And oh, the wool dryer balls. I read about Friedrick Redecker, who learned the art of brush-making at his school for the blind. In 1934 he started his own company, now run by his sons. The Redecker brushes (seen in the photo above) were particularly exciting to me (including that fly-swatter I told you about). While I was at it, I checked out Williams Sonoma Agrarian. I am definitely not in the market for a chicken coop, and I'm never going to be a beekeeper, but it was fun to look and to think of other people canning and preserving and gathering eggs.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

(Photo from Crate & Barrel Clean Slate)


Thursday, May 2, 2013

I was walking dogs the other day with two friends, and one of them was telling us about the dinner she made the night before. She talked a bit about her menu and where she likes to buy fish. But then she said something I've been thinking about ever since. "Cooking relaxes me," she said.

It struck me that cooking most definitely does not relax me. I cook because I want my family to enjoy good meals, and I pay a fair amount of attention to the kinds of food I buy. Oddly, I like to read cookbooks and cooking blogs (this is one of my favorites). I enjoy baking. But as for cooking meals, I do it because I have to, and I've always found it to be a little stressful, both the planning and the preparing.

So hearing my friend say that cooking relaxes her was something of a revelation. Reading relaxes me. I even find cleaning relaxing. So why not cooking? Maybe it's as simple as telling myself to relax while I'm cooking. Music might help. Not racing the clock would be good. Non-grumpy children would be wonderful.

I'd love to be not necessarily a better cook but a happier cook. To say, like my friend, that cooking relaxes me. I'm working on that.

(Photo by The Kitchn)

Wet Dog, Muddy Boots All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger