Bits and pieces

Friday, March 21, 2014

Some favorites from the week:

This story from the Huffington Post about a boy who's finding his own path.

This article from Vogue Magazine about how maybe Frenchwomen don't always do it better.

The Vogue article led me to this collection of short stories by the same author, Danzy Senna.

This high-octane moisturizer. My sister told me about it a few months ago and said it worked wonders for her feet. I tried it on my dry, cracked hands, and it's as good as she said. It was used originally by dairy farmers on cows' udders.

The J. Crew April style guide that arrived in my mailbox. Now that it's officially spring.

(Photograph by Charlie Napier for Gardenista.)

Wake up!

Friday, March 14, 2014

This is our morning: When his alarm goes off at 6:30, my 11-year-old jumps in the shower, dresses, comes downstairs to make his lunch and eat his breakfast, and is out the door at 7:10 for a 7:50 start time. Clearly, he has yet to enter his teenage years.

Meanwhile, at 6:45, I knock on my 14-year-old's door until I hear her say she's up. At 7:00, I call up the stairs until she calls back down that yes, she's up. At 7:20, I walk upstairs to confirm she's out of bed and in the bathroom. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. At 7:35, if we're lucky, she flies down the stairs, grabs her backpack, runs back upstairs for whatever she's forgotten, and is out the door by 7:40 for the same 7:50 start time. No breakfast, no teeth brushing, a still half-asleep 14-year-old.

And then there's my 9-year-old, who has the luxury of sleeping until 7:45, eating a leisurely breakfast, and walking to school for an 8:30 start time.

Three different scenarios based largely on age (and a little on temperament).

So I was fascinated by this article in The New York Times about the shift in some high schools - finally! - to later start times. Why, I've always wondered, is a first-grader starting school at 8:30 while a Sophmore has to be there an hour earlier? According to the Times, researchers have found that teens who get eight to nine hours of sleep a night learn better, are less likely to be late, get in fights, or be injured while playing sports. Another variable? Fewer car crashes in schools that start later. And for those who say, "Get these kids to bed earlier," (and that would be me), the research also shows that teens tend not to be drowsy until around 11 at night (and of course their pinging screens don't help).

A later start date may not happen for my older daughter when she's in high school, but it certainly seems logical. Imagine the calm that could be our morning. I'm even going to pretend for the moment that the bedroom in the photo above is hers :).

(Photograph from


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

As soon as I heard about the new book Still Life With Breadcrumbs, I reserved it online from the library. It's the story of 60-year-old Rebecca Winter, a famous photographer whose career has floundered and whose bank balance has dwindled. In an increasingly desperate effort to fix her financial situation, she rents her lovely and loved apartment in New York and moves to a less-than-charming cottage in the country. Her only choice, she realizes, is to start again.

Anna Quindlen has been a favorite author of mine for years, and I must not be the only one: When I picked up the book, the librarian told me I was the first to check it out but that there were 497 "holds" on it. In other words, many, many people were waiting for me to finish. So I read quickly and enjoyed every minute.

"When Sarah was gone Rebecca looked in the mirror. She realized she hadn't looked in the mirror for several days. Her hair reached to below her shoulders, and she'd taken to wearing it in a stubby braid down her back. She sighed. 'I look like one of those women,' she said to the dog, who looked as though he understood what she meant, although she wasn't sure what she meant herself. One of those women who let themselves go, who paid no attention to how they looked? One of those women who had given up, like the ones she saw in the market in the city sometimes with their canvas shopping bags, buying one grapefruit and a box of eight tea bags?" ~ from Still Life With Bread Crumbs


Monday, March 10, 2014

I have a like/like much less relationship with Instagram. I enjoy it for myself but have decidedly mixed feelings about it for my two older children. I'll save that discussion for another post.

Among those I follow on Instagram are photographers, lifestyle and fashion bloggers, several food stylists, many new mothers, a publisher of an online travel magazine, and one English farmer. What they all have in common is a wonderful way of looking at their world and sharing it with the rest of us. Here are four favorites:





Bits and pieces

Monday, March 3, 2014

Five things I'm loving right now:

1. I am not much of a cook or a foodie, but I'm loving the website Food52. Have you seen it or, even better, do you get it as a daily email? I love the clean, stark photography and its simple presentation. To be honest, I have yet to buy any of the kitchen items for sale or try a recipe, but I look forward to reading it every day.

2. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. A good beach reach while it's still very much winter here.

3. My current Facebook obsession is Susie's Senior Dogs, spotlighting elderly dogs around the country that have been abandoned and desperately need homes. Thousands of people are seeing this page and, best of all, adopting these sweet, gray-faced pups.

4. An opinion piece in Sunday's New York Times about what people learn in their 40s. My very favorite: "There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently."

5. Ellen DeGeneres as Oscar host. She may have gotten some mixed reviews, but I loved everything about her performance, from her opening monologue to her Glenda the Good Witch costume change to ordering pizza without money to pay the delivery guy. She made me stay up hours later than I had planned.

(All photos from Food52.)

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