Best Dressed: Emma Stone in Lanvin; Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace. Both just a little bit odd; both close to perfect (although I don’t love the sleeves on Emma’s dress or the hem on Angelina’s, the amazing slashes of color on both gowns make them unforgettable).
Honorable Mention: Dianna Agron in Giles, who gets an A for Effort. I don’t really like the dress, but I do really like that she’s a relative newcomer and nevertheless refuses to play it safe.
Best Beauty: Salma Hayek. Her Gucci dress may have disappointed some - it’s simpler and less va-va-voom than what we’re used to seeing Salma in (which is actually a big plus in my book; I thought she looked chic and modern) - but I don’t think anyone would argue that she nailed it from the waist upwards. Those earrings!
Most Yawn-Worthy: Sofia Vergara in Vera Wang. We’ve seen her in this silhouette countless times, and yeah, it works on her, and yeah, she’s beautiful…but I’d love to see her try something ’70s-inspired with a loose updo. Or anything else. Anything.
And finally, if all of these are too pricey, try Ikea. They’re not going to last you a lifetime, but they have lots of cute, extremely well-priced sets; I particularly like the Rustik ($30/20-piece set) for a retro country look:
Senator Al Franken, who also happens to be my good friend Thomasin’s father and a man for whom I have enormous admiration and respect, is fighting to pass a bill that would require schools to protect LGBT students who face threats and bullying (while students are presently protected from harassment based on race and gender, there are no protections in place for children who are bullied based on their gender identity or sexual orientation).
Check out Senator Franken’s message above, and then please take a moment to call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 and urge your Senator to sponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
For Those Kinds Of Nights / Facial Cleansing Cloths
Q. I read your blog and decided to start using Cor soap because of your rave. I’ve never had anything even out my skin tone and make my skin feel so good. I even raved about it on my own blog.
Do you have any recommendation for facial cleansing wipes that might give me similar results for those few times it would be nice to wipe the makeup away and just go to bed?
A. Right?! Cor is just awesome. Ridiculously expensive, but - and I mean this - totally worth it. Both because of how well it works (full review here), and because it lasts forever. I’ve had the same bar now for so long that it’s starting to get weird (and if you just want to test the waters, those little sample size bars also last a bizarrely long time).
Anyway, I hear you on occasionally needing to keep emergency supplies by the bed for the nights when you are simply not moving in the direction of the sink. I keep a stash of Proactiv Makeup Removing Cloths ($15) in my drawer, and they’re great - very soft and thick, and get everything off without drying your skin or leaving residue.
My friend Stephen (whom you might remember as the guy who taught me this awesome lampshade refurbish trick using graphic wallpaper fragments) just gave me the heads-up that craftsman-with-a-cult-following John Derian is launching an exclusive sale of framed prints inspired by 18th-century French wallpaper patterns on One Kings Lane today. Gorgeous stuff starting at just $99.
The sale launches at 11AM EST, and goes for 72 hours. Check it out here.
How to keep a black-and-white palette from looking cold: just add texture, splashes of green (exposed brick and wood balance out the look nicely too, if you’ve got ‘em), and cozy things like floor poufs.
Love floor poufs; wish I had them (both because they’re cute and because I spend a large amount of time every day perched on the floor next to a bouncy seat). Of course those oversized Missoni ones are The Dream, but there are lots of affordable options out there. Por ejemplo:
When I was fifteen years old, my four best friends and I spent a week at my friend’s parents’ place in Vermont. They had a porch enclosed with screens, and on it was a hanging bed - really just a piece of wood suspended from the ceiling by four chains and piled up with sleeping bags and comforters. We took turns sleeping on that bed, and on the night that it was my turn, I asked my friend what was so special about it, why everyone fought over who got to stay there. “You’ll see,” she said.
And in the very early morning, while everyone else was still asleep, I woke to pale sunlight streaming across the lake through a thick cloud of mist. I burrowed down into the blankets, and watched as the lake grew brighter and the birds began to stir. It was one of the most peaceful moments of my life.
The place weâre looking at has no lake, but it does have an enclosed porch, and a distant view of the Hudson River. I’m not counting any chickens, but I’m just saying…
Yeah, yeah…more about money. What can I say: it’s on my mind lately. And there’s nothing like starting a family to make you start thinking very seriously about the future.
Some more tips that I picked up at the Go Girl Finance event Monday night and wanted to share:
Love & Money
- The number one predictor of divorce is fighting about money. That I knew already, but Personal Finance Expert Manisha Thakor has a simple test to determine whether a couple is starting from the same basic headspace. When you look at a menu, which side do you order from first: the left side, or the right side? And which side does your partner order from first? (This test doesn’t exactly work for me, since I like to order two appetizers rather than an entree because I usually think appetizers are more interesting…but I get where she’s going: do you approach eating out as an opportunity for indulgence, or are you frugal even when enjoying yourself?)
- You (and your partner, if you have shared finances) should give yourselves an annual “financial physical”, going over your net worth, your savings, and your credit score.
Saving For The Future
- The three most powerful words in the world of personal finance: Start Saving Now. The money you save in your twenties and thirties will give you five times the money in the long run.
- Savings show respect for yourself and your life (and that life may be pretty long - or at least significantly longer than previous generations - so keep that in mind when you start your savings plan).
Estate Planning & Insurance
- No one likes to talk about this stuff. But this is one of those things that feels like it doesn’t matter…until it does. And then it really, really, really does. At minimum, you should have the following: a medical directive, a will, life insurance, disability insurance, and umbrella liability.
- Your life insurance should be at minimum 5-10x your annual income, and the younger your children are, the more you should have.
For The Self-Employed
- If you own your own business, you should protect yourself by setting up a wall between your personal and professional finances.
- Set up an LLC (Thakor recommended using Legalzoom), which will have both legal and tax-related benefits, and set up separate bank accounts in case you’re audited.
I promise: we’ll get back to your regular programming now…but this stuff is too important to ignore.
Take your annual income, and divide it by 2000 (the number of hours per year the average American woman works) to learn how much you make per hour….and then before you buy something, do a quick calculation to determine whether the item is worth that many hours of work to you. It may be tempting to pick up a $300 pair of boots…but once you realize that you’ll have to work 15 hours to pay for them, resistance may come a little easier.
Click here for my another of my favorite (easy!) ways to up your savings.
Click here to learn how to handle tricky financial situations involving friends (hint: no yelling!).
I don’t want to say too much more about it, because I know that what usually happens with these things is that they don’t work, and then don’t work, and continue not to work, until finally one day they do…but oh my god, do I ever love the place. (These pictures were taken right outside, just as the sun was setting.)
Something else I love: the fact that I rediscovered a pair of pants that were purchased the same year that I went around quoting Ani DiFranco and contemplating dyeing my hair platinum-blonde with a big streak of purple down one side (which is to say, a long freaking time ago).
They’re cargo pants. They have a little spot for me to place my hammer. You know, the one I’m always toting around wherever I go.
They’re ridiculous. And amazing. And they’ve been tucked away in the storage bag under my bed for over a decade now, because every time I’ve taken them out to toss them I’ve remembered how excited I was when I first bought them with money from a commercial (they’re Frankie B, and were way more expensive than any pair of pants I’d ever owned), and thought to myself, “You know what? I bet they’ll come back in style one of these days.”
And I’m not quite sure that day has come.
But you know what?
Don’t much care.
Like I said: ridiculous/amazing…and anything that can be described using those two words should be worn immediately, and often.
You know that saying that grandmas (and I guess I) use: “She’d lose her head if it wasn’t screwed onto her body”? (Or something like that.)
Well, these days it would not be 100% out of the realm of possibility for me to leave the house without pants on. (Yes, ha ha, she tends to go pantless on purpose from time to time. I’m talking about forgetting the lower half of my outfit when its presence is most certainly required.)
The thing about breastfeeding is that it’s a hell of a lot easier if you stay in a state of partial disrobement at all times. And because this style of dressing has started to feel normal, I’ve had to remind myself on occasion that this is not an appropriate state in which to say hey to the FedEx guy or assorted other visitors. Yesterday I took Indy over to the doctor’s office, and halfway there I felt a chill in a place where a chill should not be, and had a total panic attack, and had to check to make sure that I was in fact wearing leggings, and hadn’t accidentally put on tights and forgotten to add the requisite something-to-go-over-them. As it turned out, I was happily covered up - just not wearing enough layers - but I am constantly doing things like leaving the house to walk the dogs wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops. In January. And you know what? A couple of times I’ve just said “F it” and continued on my dog-walking way. Because once you’ve wrestled a baby in a bear suit, a panicking lhasa apso, and a near-comatose shih tzu down four flights of stairs, hypothermia seems like a better option than prolonging the experience for one more second than absolutely necessary.
What’s obviously going on here is that I’m so preoccupied with making sure that the baby has the gazillion things he needs in order to leave our little nest happily and safely that I’m completely forgetting to attend to my own attire. Whatever goes on my body is usually the fastest and easiest thing to put on when I’m already fifteen minutes late (because despite the fact that I have historically prided myself on being to-the-letter on-time, I am now always fifteen minutes late).
But…if you see me walking down the street, and I’m not wearing pants…
maybe give me a heads up.
P.S. In an odd coincidence that makes this post shockingly timely…did you know that Sunday was apparently No Pants Subway Ride Day? ‘Twas.
Friday night we went on Date #2 A.B. (After Baby), to see The Descendants (this was Date #1). I wore a dry-clean-only cashmere sweater and spike heels to sit in a dark movie theater because, you know…I don’t get to wear impractical clothing all that often lately. And I totally missed our son madly and ended up rushing home right afterwards so that I could be the one to put him to bed.
(Excellent movie, by the way.)
Saturday involved not a single photo-worthy activity (we’re talking straightening up and trips to the dry cleaner, woo), but on Sunday we drove up to Ossining (well…Mom drove. So we didn’t have to take the train with the baby. Thank you, Mom! Also, I need to sign up for ZipCar) to look at more houses. We also made a stop into Lubin’s & Links - that’s Kendrick eating something called a “Junkyard Dog” (chili, bacon, jalapenos, eek) in our realtor’s conference room, because Lubin’s has no indoor seating, it was freezing outside, and our realtor is nice.
This is my Serious Home Buyer Face. (I know, I look super-professional up there in my blazer, but you want to hear a secret? I feel like a six-year-old, having conversations about home ownership - it’s just a world that I’m completely unfamiliar with. It’s also very exciting. Where will we be living in six months? No idea! Now that’s suspense.)
This height chart, spotted inside the closet doors of one of the houses we visited, is a pretty good encapsulation of why we want to move.
We finished the journey back in the city at Flex Mussels, home of spectacular shellfish and that sorta deconstructed lemon meringue pie that I posted about (and shot a Better TV segment on) awhile back.
Click here to learn how to make 100% Not-From-Scratch Lemon Meringue Pie…In A Glass.
And finally: this might be my favorite photo of our son ever (or at least so far). Almost 12 weeks!
2. We just watched the premiere of this season’s The Bachelor last night, and I want to know what I was thinking, not watching every second of every other previous season ever. Kendrick and I were literally on the edge of the couch going “PickJennapickJennapickJenna” during the rose ceremony. You know what sounds fun? Buying that treasure of a girl drinks and listening to her talk. About anything.
3. My gel manicure has grown out quite a bit and really could stand to be redone…but it has still not chipped. I want to give it a hug.
4. Part of the morning routine we’ve established involves settling into the rocking chair around 9AM and listening to classical music while we (or at least one of us) gets ready for a nap (yes, we’ve already been awake for long enough to require a nap). It’s my favorite part of the day.
5. A great side-effect of having a baby - there’s so much time during which you can’t do anything but sort of just be there. Like during middle-of-the-night feedings, or the aforementioned rocking chair time. You can’t check e-mail, can’t watch TV, can’t really even talk on the phone…you just do whatever it is that you’re doing. And I feel like maybe it’s been years since I’ve done that. I remember the feeling from sitting on the back of a motorcycle during long road trips (when the scenery is boring and all you have to do is hold on): it’s amazing how much thinking you get done when thinking is all you can do.
Eat This Now, I Mean It: Grilled Cheese with Bacon & Avocado
Ever since I had my first for-real grilled cheese experience a little over two years ago (not a joke; I went twenty-eight years before discovering the wonder that is melted cheese on toasted bread; and to answer your question, no, not even as a kid - my mother is an alien who doesn’t like cheese and never really kept any in the house), I’ve been sorta obsessed with them. I’m generally of the opinion that simplicity is key when it comes to food like this - give me Kraft Singles and Wonder Bread, and I am a happy lady - but sometimes the addition of things like bacon and avocado makes a dish just worlds better.
Oh, who am I kidding with that “sometimes” jazz?
Bacon and avocado always make a dish worlds better. Even (especially?) chocolate ice cream: bacon and avocado make that stuff better, too. (Try it.)
A little discovery I made last night: rather than spreading butter (or mayo) directly onto the outsides of the bread, which is both messy and a pain when you’ve forgotten to bring your butter to room temperature and it’s all hard and unspreadable, just pop a big dollop of it in a heated pan and let it get foamy before adding the sandwich. When you’re ready to flip the bread, just balance it on your spatula for a moment and let a little more butter melt in the pan before frying the other side.
Oh, and use really good bacon. Like, really good. Expensive. It’s worth it.
(I know, it doesn’t look like there’s bacon in there. That’s because there isn’t. I used up all our bacon in last night’s grilled cheeses, and then devoured them like a crazed velociraptor before I could even take a photo, so what’s pictured above is today’s sadly baconless lunchtime replica.)
I mean…obviously I love this. And obviously it’s now on my list of Projects to Undertake When We Move Into A House (not that you need to live in a house to do this - this makes a perfect Apartment Garden).
The best part: when I kill one of the plants - which I will, as I am quite the expert plant-slayer - I can just replace the one I’ve destroyed without mucking about in the garden and potentially creating more victims.
P.S. Lots more Mason jar inspiration here. Click here for Mason jar wedding decor ideas.
Q. My boyfriend and I just got engaged and are planning on doing a destination wedding with just us two, then one big reception back in the States for both of our families and all of our friends.
I’m wondering if a) you have any cool ideas for locations or wedding packages for our wedding, and b) what your advice would be for breaking it to our families that they aren’t invited to the ceremony - just the reception.
A. I love this idea. If a small, intimate affair is what you’re looking for this is a great way to get the wedding you want while still including your friends and family in the celebration…plus it’s a great way to cut costs if you keep the reception relatively informal.
For a destination wedding, my dream locations would be Turks & Caicos or the Greek Islands, but if you’re looking for something more affordable you might want to consider Cancun (really; if you go at any time other than Spring Break you won’t have a problem with the crazy kids, and you can get spectacular all-inclusive deals) or nearby - and slightly calmer - Cozumel (pictured above during our one-year anniversary trip; we spent quite the afternoon at Senor Frog’s). For more specific info, you might want to head over to Mary Rambin’s blog; she travels to Mexico frequently and has lots of great trip advice.
In terms of breaking it to your families that you’ll be having a private ceremony, the important thing to remember is that while your family’s feelings are of course something to be considered, this is your day, and it’s up to you how you want to do it. And besides, some of your friends and family members may be secretly relieved that you don’t expect them to purchase tickets to an exotic locale.
For most people, the invite will be sufficient to clarify what’s going on - nontraditional weddings are increasingly common these days, so it’s not like they won’t have ever heard of a couple doing this kind of thing. You don’t need to mention the ceremony at all - why bring up an event to which they’re not invited? Instead, try something like this: “_____ and _____ invite you to celebrate their recent marriage with a cocktail reception, to be held at _____.” You may get a few confused emails from those wondering where the ceremony is being held; if that happens, just tell them that you’ve decided to have a private ceremony, but are excited to celebrate the marriage with your family and friends at the reception.
You should be aware going in that some more traditional family members may be upset at the idea that they won’t be able to watch you get married, but hey: a little family drama is pretty much standard-issue for weddings, and when it comes down to it, the drama is nearly always coming from a place of love and a desire to feel included. Just keep the focus on the fun to be had at the reception - not on what an awesome time you’ll be having at the ceremony without them - and you should be good to go.
For more on Island Honeymoons and All-Inclusives, click here.
I’ve been making this for dinner all the time lately - it’s such a good one, so healthy and fast: you just wrap the fish in foil, put it in the preheated oven, and then get to sauteing the vegetables about five minutes before the fish is done.
I don’t know what’s in the water lately (probably a bit of New Year’s Eve champagne, if I had to guess), but I’ve been getting request after request for recommendations for under-eye issues - primarily puffiness and dark circles. And I’m certainly the right person to commiserate with about these kinds of beauty troubles, because I have been through it with the eye drama.
Dark circles I don’t know a ton about (see below; would love your recommendations), but I’ve always had a problem with puffiness - and specifically one eye that gets way puffier than the other, creating a stunning lopsided effect. And then in the summer of 2010 I hurt my eye in an embarrassing dance floor mishap, an injury that ended up compounding the problem to the point where the appearance of my eye became something that I obsessed over. I even (sharing secrets, now) briefly contemplated looking into surgical help, because it was starting to affect my ability to function at work.
You know how when you have a pimple as a teenager and you think everyone’s looking at it, and your parents tell you to stop being silly because you’re the only one who even notices the thing? Well, I was hosting a project awhile back, and as the shoot rolled on I began to feel my troublesome eye growing puffier and puffier. I tried to apply that no-one-notices-but-me logic…until I realized that everyone was most certainly noticing. The producers had a whispered conference in the corner that was quite clearly about the golf ball popping up on my face, and shortly afterwards a cameraman instructed me to please direct the remainder of my lines to the food that I was preparing (in other words, keep those eyes far away from the camera).
So we’re not talking run-of-the-mill poof; we’re talking a sorta majorproblem for someone who does the kind of thing that I do for a living.
And I FIXED IT.
I mean, not totally - it’ll always be something that bugs me - but it’s no longer something that makes me miserable.
Ask me how. Go on, ask!
It’s very scientific and expensive and involved.
What I did: Get pregnant, and start drinking water like it was my job.
I swear, I’d tried everything from fancy creams to Preparation H to crazy expensive eyedrops (part of the problem was attributable to dry eye syndrome), and after all that, it was the constant water-drinking that helped more than anything else. Which is why even though I don’t really do the New Year’s Resolution thing, I made one this year, and it is to continue drinking water as if I have a baby on board.
It’s a simple equation, really: Drink water = feel fantastic. Don’t drink water = feel and look like a truck ran over me.
Anyway, that’s my big, earth-shattering beauty secret. But of course creams do help as well, so I wanted to offer up some suggestions for those of you who want additional help beyond the H20.
And of course, I always take off every stitch of makeup before going to bed (another new development) and leave whatever cream I’m applying to my eyes in the drafty spot next to my air conditioner (or in the refrigerator during warmer months) to up the cooling effect.
The dark circles thing I can’t speak to, though: I just don’t really have them unless I’m very tired. When they pop up, I erase them with Yves St. Laurent Touche Eclat or Laura Mercier Secret Concealer, and my mom recommends Benefit’s Erase Paste…but I figured I’d post the question here in case those of you with more experience with this specific problem would be interested in offering up product recommendations.
So: If you suffer from dark under-eye circles…what do you find helps the most?