I read your blog all the time, and I so often relate to you on your “life advice" posts. I admire the help you are willing to offer your readers and am seeking advice on an issue.
In college, I majored in theater, and I love performing and acting so much. Since graduating a year ago, I have worked a couple of small gigs, but nothing big and nothing paying enough for me to not have a day job. So I’m working at a small (and quickly growing) start-up.
Here’s the thing: I have fallen in love with my day job. Not the job so much as my boss, the CEO of the company. She has told me many times that she can see me running the company one day, and that she wants to help me find my passion and the right position in the company for me. I look forward to going to work every day and I think what the company is doing is important and awesome.
The other day, a friend in the theater community asked me to audition for a show. It would be full-time during the day and paying (an amount that I could live on), but would only last through mid-November. It’s a children’s show, which is not my ideal production, but hey: it’s theater. When you’re an artist, you take what you can get.
I haven’t even auditioned yet, but I am already dreading the choice that I will have to make if I get the part. My boss knows that if I had my way in life I would be acting, and she wants to help me achieve my dreams. How amazing is a boss like that?
Do I stay with the job that I have grown to love with people I so enjoy and work to help grow the company and potentially lead it one day? Or do I take a job I’m passionate about, but maybe end up jobless again in a few months?
I need your advice.
A.Â I’m so glad you wrote, because I think that the issue you’re dealing with is one that many people who are drawn to careers in the arts confront at one point or another.
First, let me say that I completely understand (and mostly agree with) your sense that, as an actor, you have to “take what you can get.” I did lots of “take what you can get” jobs when I was an actress, and often gave up other things that I wanted to do in order to take them (my mom and I had a running joke that all I had to do to book an acting job was schedule a flight or a vacation). Early in one’s career is the time to be grateful for any and all opportunities that come your way and to establish yourself as a consummate professional…which means getting the job done (with a smile), no matter what.
That said, if you’re going to dedicate yourself to acting in the long-term, it’s so important to be honest with yourself about the lifestyle that comes along with it: there are very big highs, very big lows, and a lot of frustrating stuff in between. The simple fact is that nearly every actor has to have another job or jobs to pay the bills, and these jobs likely won’t be particularly stimulating or have a ton of forward motion, because they’ll be transitory by necessity. My resume is peppered with bartending jobs; Kendrick sold coconut water on street corners when he was in Harlem Shakes. And this isn’t the sole domain of the “young, starving artists” - for many, taking odd jobs to support their passion is a way of life for the duration of their career.
I’m sure you know most of this already and have considered the challenges associated with an acting career, but I think it’s important to emphasize these things because it’s so easy to get caught up in the “all-or-nothing” approach to being in the arts. Sometimes it’s easier to stay so focused on what might be that you forget to check in with whether you’re happy now.
I wasn’t honest with myself about my career and the realities of being a (semi) working actor until…well, until my career went down in flames. It hurt so much - so, so much -Â and a lot of that pain stemmed from the fact that I was so shocked by my failure (or what I perceived to be my failure), because I had never really looked at the industry or my role in it realistically. I was scared to, because I was afraid that what I might discover was that I had chosen the wrong path for myself…but if I had taken a cold, hard look at my life what I would have seen far earlier is that it wasn’t “being an actor” that I loved; it was certain aspectsÂ of being an actor. Aspects that I was able to incorporate into a career path that I ultimately found much more fulfilling and comfortable.
The point of this isn’t to discourage you from acting, not at all. It’s just that there’s this pervasive idea that in order to be an artist you have to be all-in, often to the exclusion of other things in your life that might bring you joy…and that somehow your artistic contributions aren’t as valid or relevant if you do (and enjoyÂ doing) other stuff, too. And I think that’s false. I think there are lots of ways to incorporate a true passion for the arts into one’s life in ways that don’t require you to make potentially enormous sacrifices in other realms.
And of course there’s something else to consider here, and that’s the fact that you say that you love your job. I was so thrilled for you when I read that: seriously, it is so unbelievably rareÂ - such a gift - to find a job that you truly love, and to be surrounded by coworkers (your boss, even!) who want to support you and teach you and help you grow. That’s flat-out awesome, and not something to be taken for granted.
Again, this isn’t meant to suggest that you shouldn’t pursue an acting career, although I do think that you should be open-minded about what sounds like a really fascinating alternative. It’s just so important to understand what the realities of being an actor are, and then, if you decide that your love of acting is simply the most important thing to you, do it. And take joy in every single opportunity that you have to set foot onto a set or stage and entertain people for a living, because it’s a tremendous thing, and so many actors I’ve known (myself included) get so jaded by the industry that they start to take it for granted.
When it comes down to it, the fact is that you’re in a pretty great position where both of your alternatives are fairly awesome, and I strongly suspect that you already know what you want to do. Both paths - either committing to the theater or acknowledging that you love acting, but that you want other stuff, too - require a not-inconsiderable amount of bravery on your part, so all you have to do now is have faith and courage, and take the leap, one way or the other. And know that whatever happens, it’s not the end of the world. One of the most fantastic things about life is that you get lots and lots of opportunities to change your mind. Take it from someone who did (more than once), and who eventually found her way.
This is called “Chicken-Pineapple Stir-Fry” because I like chicken and pineapples (a holdover from childhood, when Chicken-Pineapple Casserole, complete with canned pineapple discs and maraschino cherries, was one of my mom’s specialties)…but what it really is is “Chicken-Whatever You Want Stir-Fry.”
Because that’s the thing about stir-fries.
You put whatever you want in them.
And they’re pretty much impossible to screw up, except I kind of did screw this one up by adding bok choy (not baby bok choy, the regular old enormous-leaved stuff; Kendrick bought it by accident), which was bitter and tough and really not very good. So don’t do that.
But everything else worked out well.
What you need:
2-3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 red pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 small chili, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
About a cup of diced pineapple
What you do:
1. In a heavy-bottomed frying pan or wok, heat about 3 tbsp olive oil. Season the chicken pieces generously with season salt, salt, and pepper, and add to pan. Saute until cooked through and remove to a platter.
2. Add a little more olive oil to the pan along with a few splashes of soy sauce, and saute the rest of the ingredients (except for the pineapple) until vegetables are crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).
P.S. That’s a next-day photo, hence the slightly wilted appearance. It was prettier when it was first made.
3. Return chicken to pan, add pineapple, and toss to combine.
Interesting (I think) article over on IFB today about work-at-home moms and “having it all”. An excerpt from my interview:
Jordan of Ramshackle Glam, [a] new mommy, told us, ”The truth is that there’s a lot of guilt involved – I always wish that I could be 100% focused on my son when he’s awake, and then 100% focused on my work when he’s otherwise occupied, but that’s just one of the challenges associated with being a work-at-home mom: you constantly feel like you wish you could give more to both sides of your life. I do wish that I had more time in the evenings, so that I could get the bulk of my work done while my son is asleep, but I also feel like it’s important to spend at least an hour or two of concentrated time with my husband, and that’s our only opportunity to focus solely on each other, so…I guess I just wish I had 6 or 7 more hours in every day.”
Oh, new mama guilt. It’s been one of motherhood’s biggest surprises; I can ‘know’ all I want that I’m doing the best that I can, but it still doesn’t keep me from feeling that I’m just not giving as much as I want to give to anything - work, family, friends - in my life.
I think I’m very lucky to be able to work (mostly; shoot days are different) at home and spend that extra time every day with my son, but truth? Sometimes I envy women who leave the house every day, focus exclusively on work for the hours that they’re at the office, and then come home and focus exclusively on their family. It seems like when the lines are clearer, maybe you do everything just a little bit better. But I also have no idea; I’m new to this, and am still finding my footing with regards to balancing family and career.
Of course, every situation - working mom, stay-at-home mom, work-from-home mom - has its pros and cons; if you’re a working mother, how do you feel about the work/life balancing act? Is there a way to do it “right”?
Pre-mixed cocktails in Mason jars with screw-on lids perched in an enormous galvanized-metal bucket.
I mean, obviously.
Moving beyond garden parties: if you’re having a summer wedding, I’m going to go ahead and insist that you do something like this (with alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, whichever you prefer) pre-ceremony; so fun, and I think it’s such a nice touch to give your guests something to sip on while they wait to watch you walk down the aisle.
Last night, I hosted an intimate (think wine, cheese, and crystal chandeliers) seminar on behalf of Mastercard and Better Homes & Gardens over at the Meredith building. The program was about how to entertain if you live (as I do) in a small, not-particularly-conducive-to-parties place, and I kicked off the presentation with a question that I received from a reader a few weeks back.
Q. Hi Jordan! I need your advice. My boyfriend and I live in a shack of an apartment while our friends live in quintessential “perfect houses.” We get invited to our friends’ houses for dinner parties often, but I’m too embarrassed to bring friends to where we live in return.
I want to entertain, but feel inferior because of my digs. Any suggestions for how to deal with this situation?
The answer, of course, is that I can definitely relate. Our apartment (pictured above) may be very “us” and (I think) kinda charming, what with the floorboards that all slant East and uneven doorways, but it’s nowhere near the kinds of places that some of our friends live in.
Small space entertaining can be totally fun.
See? Totally fun. (That’s me and Francesca, totally having fun.)
Let’s talk about the whys and hows, from decor to food to cocktails to chilling out (seriously, things will go wrong - just chill out).
It’s all about working with what you have, and finding creative ways to incorporate items that you already own into your decor (thereby saving both time and money). One nice bonus of small-space entertaining: unlike at larger parties, your guests are likely to notice all your special little touches.
•Pull in furniture from other rooms, and move any and all furniture that doesn’t serve a purpose for the party into unused areas.
•Transform key pieces (for example, use your dresser as your buffet table, or convert your dining room table to a bar).
•Expand the size of your coffee table with an inexpensive plywood board (ask your local hardware store) and a tablecloth.
•Create additional surfaces with inexpensive trays (check out this JITH episode for a DIY Serving Tray idea that works wonders at parties).
•Lights & reflective surfaces work wonders - try using a long mirror as a centerpiece and top it with candles (go for 1/2 real, 1/2 faux to minimize smoke and heat).
•When it comes to flowers, think “dramatic”, not “big”, and swap in inexpensive blooms (carnations) for pricey ones (peonies).
•No need for fancy vases: you can pull in anything from teacups to creamers to sake carafes in a pinch (click here for my Celebrations article on unexpected flower decor).
HOW-TO: AT-HOME PICNIC
My favorite way to entertain for two at home: a coffee-table picnic like the one pictured above (that’s our Christmas Eve tradition).
Or course, you can skip the coffee table entirely and just head to your roof. No grass required!
•A coffee table picnic works for up to 6, more if you create additional floor seating areas around your apartment.
•Chic, cozy floor pillows make all the difference (you can even use regular old pillows and toss pretty throws over them).
•Serve food in the kitchen so the table doesn’t get too cluttered.
•If you head to the roof, bring along a card table for the food/drinks, and let people serve themselves
When it comes to food at a mini-party, the key is to make it all as easy on yourself as possible. Martha may make everything from scratch, but I certainly don’t…and when you don’t have a dishwasher you suddenly become quite fond of disposable cutlery (melamine works well too, and there are lots of gorgeous patterns out there these days).
•A nice side-effect of having a small space: you’re guaranteed to be able to chat with your guests while you cook. They’re right there. Next to you.
•Try a buffet, and serve foods that can be eaten standing up (without utensils).
•If you’re uncomfortable not offering a sit-down dinner but straight-up don’t have the space, consider serving cocktails & apps and then heading to an inexpensive local restaurant.
•Crostini - I’m particularly partial to the Ricotta, Lemon and Honey Crostini pictured above - is a fantastic solution for small-space serving (it can be sweet or savory, light or hearty).
•To save time and money, try serving up store-bought dips with pretty extras (for example, add capers and arugula to hummus).
•Go for a selection of small plates (tapas) rather than the traditional appetizer-entree-dessert.
•Never underestimate the impact of a really great guacamole (my recipe includes tequila. Yes it does).
The most important thing to remember when it comes to party drinks: Let your guests serve themselves, or you’ll be playing bartender all night.
The second-most-important thing to remember: nothing saves cash like a signature drink. Serve up something special (like my guava sangria) and have a couple of bottles of wine, some beer, and something non-alcoholic on hand, and you’re good to go - no full bar necessary.
And, most importantly…chill out.
Because even when everything goes wrong (that’s Kendrick washing dishes in our bathtub on the day when I tried to cook a fancy, multi-course meal and both our stove and our kitchen faucet went on the fritz)…
I recently purged my closet with my daughter’s help, and discovered these full-leather boots, which have been sitting in my closet for over 15 (!) years.
My daughter said, “Mom, these look like galoshes. Not vintage treasures, just plain old ugly boots. They are worth exactly $0.” So I stuffed them straight into a big black trash bag…but I’m wondering: do you agree with her?
I hope you send me a reply. My daughter and I are waiting impatiently for your answer :).
A. Do not throw away those boots! I love those boots. The stovepipe shape is totally ’70s, and totally fashionable right now. Below, some evidence (courtesy of Gucci):
See?! Try them with skinny, tucked-in jeans and a relaxed-fit tee, or with a pencil skirt and blouse. Anything goes; they’re a fantastic wardrobe staple, and easily go from day to night.
Now, granted, the look isn’t for everyone, but even if you don’t find the style flattering on you personally, why not give them a spin on eBay? I once bought a pair of stovepipe riding boots on the site for about sixty bucks, and that was years ago, when the things weren’t even particularly in fashion.
Now, if the boots have been crushed into the back of your closet for over a decade, chances are that they’ve seen better days and could use a little TLC. I swung by my local shoe repair guy, who is both slightly grumpy and extremely good at what he does, and here are a few tips I picked up:
- Clean the boots with leather cleaner or saddle soap to remove dirt and build-up. Pay special attention to any spots where the leather is cracked.
- Using a soft cloth and a circular motion, apply leather conditioner and let it soak in for awhile (you may want to set the boots in a plastic bag in the sun or run a hair dryer over the boots to help the conditioner penetrate better).
- Once dry, apply leather polish (filling in the cracks with extra polish).
- Use a damp rag to apply mink oil; this will make the leather more resistant to cracking in the future.
I’ve written before about the intense emotional tailspin I went through in the weeks following the birth of our son and my need to reach out for help. Here’s a segment from the post (read the whole thing here):
On the night we came home, I was crushed – absolutely crushed into pieces – by my love for my son, and my terror at all the ways in which the world could hurt him. I couldn’t stop crying, and simply didn’t know what to do with all the pain that I felt – both physical and emotional. It wasn’t rational – I knew that – but it was a misery so overwhelming that I turned to Kendrick and told him that I needed help.
I don’t know that I’ve ever said those words so plainly in my life, or meant them so much.
I ended up turning to medication until the storm passed (about two weeks) because…well, it worked for me, immediately and completely, and because it felt like the most expedient way to give me the emotional and physical strength I needed to care for our newborn. But medication is not for everyone, and for those looking for a different kind of support, there are options.
Reader Marianna wrote in to tell me about a business that she started with the goal of providing emotional support to mothers during the post-partum period without the additional demand of asking them to leave their homes. Services include Preemie Support, Single Crisis Visit, access to psychiatrists, Lactation Consultation, and a comprehensive Post-Natal Package, and this honestly sounds like exactly the kind of organization that I would have reached out to had I known it existed. In any case, it’s nice to know that this kind of support is out there, if you need it.
Learn more about Parenthood Psychology Practice here.
But Friday afternoon was actually lovely; Gala (of Gala Darling; she was at the Art.com Summit with me, along with bloggers including HonestlyWTF, Glitter Guide, Apartment 34, and Simple Lovely Blog) dragged me off to the Betsey Johnson clearance sale at Westfield Mall (serious clearance; we’re talking microwaves and light fixtures on sale alongside the tulle).
Betsey Johnson is not my jam (I like it on others; it’s just not the right cut for me), but across the way I found a pretty fantastic (and majorly on sale) necklace at Juicy Couture.
I’m not usually a fix-the-sads-with-shopping person, but getting to spend a couple of concentrated hours leisurely wandering around a mostly-unfamiliar city with a friend was exactly what I needed. (Also, neon = instant mood lifter.)
This? Amazing. I’m not a beef carpaccio person generally, but when it’s sprinkled with parmesan, corn, caper berries, and chive flowers, apparently I want to eat it in very indelicate, non-carpaccio-esque quantities.
On Friday I spent the day in a series of great seminars (I’ll be sharing all the info I learned with you over the next few weeks); a wonderful day punctuated by a not-so-wonderful moment in which I received bad news about the house that we’re presumably moving into within the month, my dream house that I’ve been imagining a life in for two years now…and sort of lost it.
I stepped outside onto the street before answering my phone so that I wouldn’t disturb the event, but as it turned out the acoustics were such that every single person inside the space - we’re talking PR representatives, clients, and approximately 20 bloggers - heard me yell “NONONO!” at the top of my lungs. This, of course, was at the exact moment that a large truck went speeding by, and so the entire group (very understandably) went rushing outside in horror, only to find a sad - but completely intact and unbelievably embarrassed - me. So it’s not like I caused a totally huge, mortifying and unnecessary scene or anything.
We’ll just call that “the cherry on top.”
I’m not going to get into the details of the problem that came up yet because a) I want to see how things play out first so that I’m not constantly going back-and-forth and making grand announcements that don’t pan out (I’ve already done this enough, and it’s exhausting and embarrassing), and b) the details are logistical, difficult to explain, and not exactly high-drama to anyone not in the middle of it, and the last thing I want is to bore you.
Of course, you can’t get away from the “boring” side of house-purchasing: it’s all contracts and lawyers and money and wildly dry-sounding things like zoning regulations and certificates of occupancy. And yet…it’s totally not boring, when it’s you going through it. It’s one of the most intense, overwhelming processes I’ve ever experienced (and this seems to be a common feeling - seriously, everyone who has just gone through the process gets a sort of traumatized, shell-shocked look on their face when the topic comes up).
When I heard people whining about the home-buying process prior to entering into it I thought…you know, holy god, deal with it, guys. You get to buy a house. It’s hard and annoying, and a lot of paperwork is involved. I get it. Also, shush.
But let me tell you: this process is insane, and devastating, and joyful, and a great many other things that you wouldn’t expect to find in the same sentence as “zoning regulations.” Because it’s just a purchase, yeah, but it’s probably the biggest purchase you’ve ever made by a factor of about a million, so you’ve got all those emotions that for most people are naturally tied up with worries about money and security and enormous, life-changing decisions that impact not only them, but possibly their spouses and children as well…but it’s also your home that you’re worrying about. Which is, in many ways, your life. Your family’s life.
There is something about the home - the sense of security and warmth and safety that it embodies - that is deeply rooted in all of us, and the feeling that that home may be taken away…it leaves you feeling dizzy, unsteady.
Remember how I said that when I travel I go for comfortable basics + great shoes (heels on this trip, ‘cause there’s not much walking around) + jewelry? This is what I meant (and what I’m wearing for today’s events, plus a sweatshirt).
…and here’s what I changed into after I realized that I was going to freeze on the walk over to the restaurant (did I remember to pack a jacket? I did not!). Well, this plus a sweatshirt.
My Go-To Travel Wardrobe:
- Comfortable, relaxed-fit tees
- Jeans with some stretch to them
- Snakeskin heels, obviously (make sure that the heels go with pretty much everything, since you won’t want to bring more than one pair for a short trip. Animal prints, to me, are basically neutrals, and I’m happy to wear them with everything from solids to stripes to florals.)
- Flats or flip-flops (for the plane and walking around town)
My wardrobe strategy when traveling: mostly comfortable basics in neutral colors, a great pair of heels…and jewelry. (Three days away from tiny fingers means three days of my largest, most tuggable hoops and tiers.)
What I brought along on this particular tip, clockwise from far left: ROXoxox black wrap bracelet, silver earrings (a gift from my Aunt Jo), Stone Savant necklace, Jessica Hicks pink hoops, Swati Jr* Selene’s Dangles earrings.
(This photo has very little to do with the post other than that 1. I’m sleeping in it and 2. Aw.)
Thanks so much to reader clairebecca for sending me the link to this article on Biphasic Sleep, which was both generally interesting and made me feel loads better. And many of you have written to me that you have similar problems, so I thought hey: maybe it’ll make you feel loads better, too.
(To recap, in case you missed my earlier posts on the topic: more nights than not, I suffer from something called “habitual waking” where between the hours of about 1:30 and 4:30 I wake up repeatedly, and am sometimes am unable to fall back asleep for hours, if at all. If you’ve never dealt with this, it may not sound like a big deal, but honestly, it’s pretty miserable: after a certain point you start panicking, which only makes the situation worse, and while some things help a little - including turning clocks away and keeping the room cool - I have yet to find anything reliable.)
Anyway, I found this article fascinating. Basically, what it says is that we didn’t evolve to sleep eight straight hours: we evolved to fall asleep when the sun went down, spend the nighttime hours in total darkness (not the city/suburban yellow-ish glow of today), and go through a biphasic cycle, in which 3-4 hours of “deep” sleep are followed by a second phase of “morning sleep”.
It’s likely that societal expectations about sleep structure – that it’s supposed to be eight hours of unbroken, deep, heavy slumber – are making problems out of what may be normal sleeping patterns. Clinicians are finding that if they can make insomnia patients understand that waking up in the night is actually normal and natural, they feel better about their condition. Because they “perceive interrupted sleep as normal,” they stop stressing over waking and are able to get back to sleep more easily.
Some forms of insomnia, in which people wake up in the middle of the night, might not actually be clinical conditions, but rather the manifestation of the natural human sleep cycle trying to assert itself. Insomnia may just be a problem of perception; if you look at your “problem” in a different light, it disappears.
Whether all this is true or not I have no idea, but what I do know is that when I woke up at 2:30AM last night and started to panic, I thought about how the article describes Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote about his time camping in the French highlands and how he often awakened in the middle of the night to enjoy a cigarette and some quiet contemplation.
I’m in need of a new quilt. The thing is, quilts are EXPENSIVE. Do you have any suggestions for sites with affordable bedding (ideally under $100) that’s also nice-looking? I was thinking of getting a white quilt…but maybe this is too boring? I dunno! Got any advice?
Best to you,
A. Bedding! One of my favorite topics. Here’s how I feel about it:
This is what I want. Not this one specifically - although it’s lovely - but anything from Anthropologie, really. Their bedding is just beyond gorgeous - so much so that I find the idea of actually buying something from them paralyzing, because I cannot decide which pattern I like best. Can’t do it.
But it’s also beyond expensive, and when one has dogs and babies and budgets, bedding that costs half a grand is not a very good idea.
I’m really just showing this to you because it’s so pretty. Moving on.
Next! Above is a quilt from Garnet Hill. I bought the blue quilt that’s on my bed right now from them a few years ago for about $150. Their prices have gone up over the years and are now around $250, but that’s actually not too bad of a price for a really nice quilt…and mine has held up fantastically for over half a decade now.
Still expensive, but worth considering. (Especially that style pictured above, which is called “Half Moon” and is a mix of 10 vintage-y prints.)
Now, let’s talk totally affordable but still pretty, which means let’s talk JC Penney ‘s Jaden Coverlet. It’s adorable, comes in a bunch of different soft colors, and is $50. Can’t beat that.
(It’s a sand shark. They have no teeth. But still!)
And I ate sashimi.
The guys on the boat actually cut up a fluke straight out of the water and handed us plates of fish with soy sauce and homemade garlic-pepper sauce. It was pretty awesome. Not…good, exactly. Chewy. But still!
Let me tell you a little story about growing up in the city.
Specifically, around age 16.
Those of you who live…oh, anywhere else…probably learned to drive on wide-open, leafy streets lined with beloved friends and relatives all waving little flags, ushering kittens, trash cans, and other small dangers out of your path, and generally cheering you on. Or at least that’s how I picture it.
You know what happens on Day 1 of your first driving lesson in NYC? If you’re me? A very over-it driver’s ed teacher picks you up outside your Hell’s Kitchen apartment, which happens to be located directly next to Times Square, and points you in the direction of one of the most congested, heavily-trafficked areas in the world.
Oh, and it was raining.
So twenty minutes later, I was treated to the pleasurable task of giving my mom a ring from the police station, where my instructor was filing a report about how his student managed to hit a limo (it wasn’t all that hard, actually).
And then test day came. And you know how you get to your driving test, if you grow up in New York City?
You take the FDR Drive, which is basically a Speedway To Hell, it’s so fast and narrow and full of completely insane drivers. (I took that photo yesterday, when Dad and I were driving to Sheepshead Bay to go fishing, because we almost - and I don’t mean “almost”, I mean really seriously almost - got in accidents two separate times, thanks to the aforementioned completely insane drivers. See how the photo is blurry? That’s because I was bouncing up and down in my seat so much because of the enormous potholes that I couldn’t get the camera to focus.)
On test day, however, I managed to survive the trip on the FDR and make it through parallel parking, three-point-turns, and stop signs. And then I hit a person.
Let me say that again, in case you didn’t hear me the first time.
I hit a person. On my driving test.
But as it turned out, it wasn’t as big of a deal as I initially thought (and trust me, I initially through it was a pretty effing large deal), because the person had totally tried to get hit. You see, the town where I was taking my test was basically Driving Test Central for kids from New York City, so I guess the local teenagers had started making a game of it, jumping in front of the cars as they were rolling up to a stop sign and then screaming that they’d been hit and that the test-taker should fail. Nice, right? And smart.
Anyway, I passed. (In all fairness, though, I should admit that this was the second time I took the driving test - the first time involved a stop sign that I swear to god, came out of nowhere.)
You know, I almost never wear white jeans. Mostly because they stress me out: I live in New York City, and I’m a massive klutz (see, for reference: the last time you saw me wear white pants on RG).
Oh yes, and the baby thing.
But I love them, I do: they just look so chic and crisp and effortless, and when they’re stretchy and lightweight and comfortable to boot, they’re such a great alternative to traditional blue denim. Also, I got all inspired by the Summertime First Dates post I put up last week.
So: I wore a pair to brunch on Saturday.
And then I ordered steak tacos.
Tell me that doesn’t give you little heart palpitations (both because of the deliciousness and the proximity of snow-white pants).
But I papered my entire body with napkins before tucking into my brunch, and all was well in the end.
See? Totally sparkling.
I love this jacket. I think that there’s absolutely no reason in the world to go buy a brand-new jean jacket (unless you’re impatient and happen to be standing inside a TopShop, in which case, sure, go for it): vintage denim is just the best. I picked up this thing at a clothing swap ages ago, and it just looks better and better as the months roll on.
The weather in New York hasn’t started to steam up to maximum capacity quiiiiite yet, but it will very, very soon. And I have this vision of myself sitting on a beach, or in a park, or wherever, makeup-free, with gorgeous, glowing, blemish-free skin. It’s a lovely vision. It’s just not the easiest one to realize in…you know, reality.
Here’s the thing: my skin tends to even itself out once it figures out what’s going on with the weather, but during the shifting of each season it kind of has a full-blown panic attack for at least a couple of weeks (this is a major indicator of sensitive skin in need of sensitive skincare products, and I cannot believe that it took me thirty-one years to figure out that I am planted firmly in this category).
Every year at the start of summer, the big switch I make when it comes to facial skincare products is to swap out my creamy cleanser for a lightweight gel one, and this year I’m trying out Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel: it’s 100% soap-free (so no drying problems), completely free of dyes, perfumes, or any other potential irritants, and has a whole bunch of added vitamins as a nice little bonus.
And you know what’s sort of cool and sort of weird about it? It doesn’t smell at all. I know, I already said it has no perfumes – but we’ve become so accustomed to our skincare products being loaded up with scent that I did a little double-take when I opened up the tube for the first time, trying to figure out what seemed so different about the stuff, until I realized: ah ha! No coconut/passionfruit/cucumber/what have you. Just everything that you need, and nothing that you don’t. Which is kind of refreshing, no?
Some more of my favorite ways to mix up my beauty routine once the heat rolls in:
- Bye Bye, Blowdryer: There’s no point in fighting with the kind of humidity that hits these parts, so I try to embrace my natural texture by either twisting my hair into a braid or applying frizz-fighting products and letting it do as it will.
- Makeup Makeover: In the summer, I try to lighten up my overall makeup routine, but maintain that there’s nothing like some bright pink or red lipstick even on the hottest of days (see above, and click here for my 5 Tips For Red Lips tutorial).
- Powder Puff: I make best friends with a big old box of lightly scented powder, and dust myself in it from top to bottom on particularly obnoxiously hot days.
- Neat Nails: I’m the laziest person in the world about my fingers and toes, but once the summer arrives it’s a salon pedicure every 2-3 weeks and a DIY manicure every week – those summery shades are just too fun to skip (click here for some at-home manicure tips).
Q. The Daily Fiona: That steak and egg wrap…do tell. Eggs, avocado, steak, anything else?
Those three ingredients - marinated skirt steak, sliced avocado, and scrambled eggs - are pretty much it (although I would suggest adding shredded cheese of some sort), but that’s because I like my wraps on the simpler side. Of course you can always get crazy with the add-ons - Kendrick certainly does.
Tip: Throw your tortilla onto the open flame of your burner for just a couple of seconds, flipping it once to warm both sides (and of course watching the thing carefully so it doesn’t catch fire) - it makes a huge difference.
Share Your Style / Daily Candy + Dove Pinterest Contest
This is me (and Kendrick) in the Hamptons, the one time that I managed to make it there in my 31 years (and simultaneously managed to break the beautiful house that we were staying in, which is what’s happening above). It’s extremely fun and glamorous and all those things that you’ve heard it is.
And! I’m going back. I am so excited; extra excited because there’s a chance that I might get to see a few of you while I’m there.
Dove and DailyCandy are partnering up to give you the chance to inspire women with your own hairstyle and to win fabulous prizes, including a spot in a DailyCandy flipbook and trip for you and a friend to Super Saturday in the Hamptons.
To Enter: Send a pic (high quality, horizontal, and at least 380 x 285 pixels) of your hairstyle at its best (simple yet beautifully styled) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your photo should be a solo shot and taken head on.
And: just for entering, you’ll receive a coupon to save on Dove Style+Care products.
Contest ends June 25. Finalists will be revealed on June 28 and showcased on DailyCandy’s Dove® Great Style Effect Pinterest board.
Just got home from the annual Piano Factory BBQ (that’s the building I grew up in, and I’m still close to lots of the people who live there). It’s a pretty gorgeous place - you may remember it from this JITH segment featuring my mama.
Guess who was the hit of the party? (Hint: that person is a) pictured above, and b) not me.)
That top that I’m wearing, by the way, is a sneak preview of the new Princess Vera Wang line for Kohl’s that arrived in the mail today. From what I can see, the collection (launching later this summer) is super-eclectic: we’re talking leather-and-neon wrap bracelets, lace shorts, sporty v-neck sweaters, and floaty paisley blouses (like the one pictured above).
“Yes, Obama duped young people by not doing every single thing they want. So now, they’ll all vote Republican. It’s like when I want some bread, I won’t settle for half a loaf. Instead, I will have a muffin made of broken glass.”—Stephen Colbert (via annemonroe)
The first time barely counted: I spent a week at a very intense gymnastics camp, so it was much less “s’mores and canoeing” and much more “soul-crushing competition and tears”. I did, however, get to play in those crazy pits full of foam cubes (a secret dream of mine, always), and I met a boy named Kyle. It was one of those fantastic relationships where you decide that you want to be boyfriend and girlfriend, and then never speak again. And then he sends you a postcard declaring his undying love should you ever make it to the town of Schnecksville (really). So that was nice.
The second time I went to camp was a bit more traditional. I shot bows and arrows, dressed up for ’60s night, and hiked in the woods. I held hands with other girls around campfires, we tearfully promised each other that we would be friends forever, and every week felt as long as a year…until it was over, and then it was over too soon.
Most of all, I remember that end-of-the-day feeling: being sort of sunburned and hungry, and pulling on a sweatshirt over my Umbros (!) before heading down to the cafeteria, a little nervous about the dark woods on either side of the path but loving the way the air smelled - like pine needles and smoke.
The other day I was early for an appointment, so I stopped into American Eagle, and ended up walking out with this sweatshirt. Because it felt just like that. Like summer camp.
The summer after graduation, shortly after I moved to Los Angeles, I found myself living in Malibu in an Oscar-winner’s house. My boyfriend Rob’s best friend had gotten engaged to Mira Sorvino, and they were getting married that summer, in Italy. We couldn’t afford to make the trip to the wedding, so we volunteered to spend a few weeks watching their house and dogs for them.
A terrible hardship, I know: the property was on a cliff overlooking the ocean, and every morning we drank our coffee sitting by the pool, watching dolphins and whales surfacing just off-shore.
In actuality, though, it wasn’t nearly as idyllic as it sounds: Mira’s dogs (all twenty of them) very obviously wanted to kill me, Rob and my’s relationship was unraveling more and more every week, and I spent most days pacing around the guest house while Rob worked in the upstairs office of the main house. If someone came to visit, they were there to see Rob; I was still new to L.A., and knew almost nobody.
Our cell phones didn’t work way out by the ocean, so one day we strung soda cans from window to window in case we wanted to chat without running back and forth between the houses.
We never used them.
But, you know, I was keeping respectably busy: I had auditions, a new puppy, Jack, to take care of, editing work, and acting class, and had just gotten my first big writing job (I’d managed to get assigned a feature article for a national magazine - a story on long-distance relationships that graced the last-ever cover of YM Magazine, a job that I got by literally sweet-talking my way past reception until I reached the editor-in-chief, and then forcing her to listen to my pitch until she gave me the opportunity to send her a spec article; totally insane and kind of brave, in retrospect). But those things only took up so many hours in the day. There were still many, many left to fill.
So I drove. Back and forth, sometimes very far away, but more often just to the Malibu Country Mart and back. You’ve seen the place, if you read US Weekly: Denise Richards and Kate Beckinsale get their photographs taken there a whole bunch. It’s the kind of place where everyone looks so rich they almost don’t seem real: it’s all blonde moms and their babies, off-duty movie stars with their babies, and the most insane cars you’ve ever seen in your life filled with still more babies. I met Keanu Reeves there once, at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. He was on his motorcycle, and he said he liked my car. It was extremely exciting.
Anyway. Whiling away hours at the Malibu Country Mart sounds pretty fun, I’m sure…except when you take into account the fact that I was wandering around in an area where $20 sandwiches and $150 tank tops were considered bargains. I found a yogurt stand I really liked, so lots of days I would sit at the edge of the playground, eating my yogurt and watching families play.
I don’t know how to explain how I felt in those days better than this: I could barely see straight through the crushing loneliness, through the fact that I couldn’t find a single thing in my future that I thought would make me happy…but still: I wasn’t blind to the fact that my circumstances that summer were special. More often than not I felt very, very sad - hopeless, even…but I was still standing on a windswept beach with lighthouses blinking way off in the dark water, and I still saw how beautiful and remarkable of an experience it was to get to live in a place like that, even for a short time.
I had this vision, that summer, of what the future might be like, if I wished very, very hard: I’d be a glamorous movie star married to a successful writer, and we’d live in a beautiful waterfront home with our sweet dog and sandy-footed children, and every night we’d cook steaks and asparagus on our barbecue, and then I’d wrap myself in layers of white gauze and pad barefoot to our big white bed before falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves. The only thing was, I couldn’t see any faces in that vision: it was all just sand and water and barking dogs and white cotton tangled up in clean sheets.
Because even though if you squinted your eyes very hard my life at that moment didn’t look all that different from the one I imagined for myself, what I really was was an unhappy girl with an angry boyfriend and a dog who didn’t really even belong to me, living in an uncomfortable place where everything was damp and nothing was ours, and no desire to cook anything at all, because I couldn’t see the point when I knew that it wouldn’t make either of us happy.
So I drove: back and forth, up and down along the coast. And sometimes I stopped for yogurt and window-shopping.
One of my favorite places to window-shop at the Malibu Country Mart was the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Store, and one day, wandering through the aisles, I broke and bought something, just because I wanted it so, so badly.
This was what I bought: a white cotton nightgown with a cream crochet neckline. It was ridiculously expensive, but I figured it could be a “souvenir” of sorts. I still own it, and for years it’s been my favorite thing to wear to bed. I can’t help it: wearing floaty white nightgowns still makes me feel glamorous and romantic, and every time I slip it on I remember the quiet of the beach at night.
But now years have gone by, and that nightgown has holes in the neckline. Malibu is a memory, Shabby Chic went out of business, and things are different these days. Realer; louder; brighter in nearly every way. And so it’s time for a replacement, I think.
Every time I pass through the sleepwear section of a store, I keep one eye out for a nightgown like that one I bought in Malibu so many years ago, but something about white, floaty cotton makes designers think that they should be charging upwards of two hundred bucks for the things.
And then last weekend I was wandering through H&M with my husband and son, and I found it: the nightgown I’ve been looking for all these years. Except it was a dress, with a big rope belt around the middle.
But big rope belts are made to be pulled off and wrapped around other outfits, and so I bought it.
Actually, I bought three. What can I say: it was eighteen dollars, and I’ve been searching for it for so many years now. And now it’s for a life that I’m actually living - not one that I’m dreaming of while watching the waves pull back into the sea.