Fashion · Home · Skin care

Do you pamper yourself?

 

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Each week I look forward to Sunday and Sunday night, specifically.   I set aside Sunday nights to indulge and pamper and generally get ready to face the week.  It might be something as simple as watching Downton Abby – uninterrupted-  a bubble bath, a glass of wine and soft music, a long walk on a beautiful evening, a new book I’ve been dying to read, or curling up with the latest magazines.  You get the picture, something relaxing, something fun that I enjoy, something I’ve not had time to do all week.

Tonight I’m going to have a bowl of chicken chili with a glass of red wine.  I’m planning a long hot bath along with my usual Sunday night skin care routine and last, but not least, a couple of episodes of Madam Secretary.  I can’t get enough of the show.

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My Sunday night skin care routine is the definition of indulgent.  I pamper my skin. A few years shy of eighty, my Mother has the most beautiful skin.  She’s never worn a lot of make up but she always took care of her skin.  I’m attempting to follow in her footsteps.  My first “holy grail” of skin care is eye cream morning and night.  I alternate between La Prairie and M-61 power glow eye cream but for Sunday night I opt for Sisley’s eye contour mask.  The mask is a once a week thing for me and it is decadent.  It is also the night to exfoliate. For my face, I opt for Channel’s Gommage Microperle Eclat exfoliant and for the body, Jo Malone’s vitamin E body treatment scrub.  Last, but not least, is a conditioning mask for my hair.  I opt for Moroccainoil intense hydrating mask.  It makes my hair feel soft and healthy the entire week.  I end with either Kiehl’s creme de corps or Jo Malone’s pomegranate body cream.

Now I’m ready to face Monday!

entertaining · Family · Home

Do you binge watch?

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So I will admit that I am a binge watcher.  It seems like my nights are crazy and I always miss whatever popular show is on that night or I’m too tired to enjoy what is on or I’m multi-tasking which means I’m really not enjoying or paying attention to what is on the tube.  I think I just confessed that multi-tasking is a bad idea.  So given that I fail at multi-tasking or miss the best part  because I’m falling asleep, I’ve come up with my own coping mechanism.  You will be familiar with it as I confess that it is not original – I DVR and Netflix.  Yeah for lack of originality, but if a solution works, it works and these days I’ll take all the help I can get.

My DVR and Netflix lists probably need some updating.  Right now lists are programmed to include:

  1. Blue Bloods;
  2. Madam Secretary;
  3. Masterpiece theater;
  4. Miss Fisher mysteries; and
  5. Perry Mason, I know it is ancient but I have fond memories of watching re-runs of it with my Mom.

My list is not long and doubtlessly needs something fresh.  I’m thinking the new PBS movie on Vietnam is up for addition but what else?  Suggestions are welcome!  What is on your Netflix list?

Decorating · Family · Home · interior design

A change of seasons

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Yesterday I looked down at my calendar and saw the notation, “first day of autumn”.  It’s been cool here in Virginia, somewhat unusually so for the beginning of September, but it also cues a sense of anticipation, of something new to come.  I love the fall, but then again, I love winter, spring, and summer.  The change of the seasons feels like a right of passage.

I enjoy fall for its crisp cool nights, change of leaves, the fall fruits and veggies like the squash and apples I find at the farmer’s market.  What is more fun than a corn maze, mums on the front porch, or  a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway at the height of leaf color?  As the days grow shorter and the weather cooler there is a sense of an ending as is appropriate for fall and the approach of winter.  The anticipation of spring will soon follow and start the cycle over again.

Growing up I heard stories of my grandmother changing the curtains and rugs for summer and then back again at the start of fall.  Something of that rubbed off for me.  I tend to “decorate” for Easter, fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and, of course, Christmas.  Nothing as elaborate as Christmas, but seasonal centerpieces for each holiday.  So, this week I pulled out my velvet pumpkins for the dining room table.  The geraniums I’d lovingly planted in containers on the front porch at the beginning of spring were on their last leg.  It was time to freshen up the front door with mums for fall.

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As I write this, I’m also making my “must do” list for the fall.

 

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  1. Gather a group of friends and fin a corn maze to explore.
  2. Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and remember to bring my camera.
  3. Take 29 from Charlottesville to Lynchburg for a drive for leaves and fresh apples.
  4. Find a pumpkin patch and bring home fun pumpkins.
  5. Pull out my ceramic jack o’ lanterns for the front porch.
  6. Plan a movie night for all my favorite scares movies, calling John Carpenter!
  7. Football and tailgate Saturday, bonus points if I can arrange it for Kenan stadium.
  8. Cook up a pot of Brunswick stew.
  9. Change out my closet for warm clothes.

What is on your must do list for the fall?

entertaining · Family · Food

Taco Soup

I’m a soup girl.  There is nothing I enjoy more for dinner after a hard day at work than a bowl of homemade soup.  I enjoy cooking and I find it is better for me generally than fast food. I’ve also received a push in that direction from my doctor who encourages me to avoid the center of the grocery store and opt for fresh foods on the exterior of the market.  Of course if I want homemade soup, this means I have to make the soup to have it for dinner.  I have a number of “go to” recipes for soup and in the fall and winter, I tend to make a large pot of something on Sunday, sometimes Saturday, to have for the week ahead or to stock the freezer.

IMG_8926One of my “go to” soups is taco soup.  It is on the low-calorie side of things, tastes, and so simple to make.  I put it in the dump and run category of recipes.

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Three chicken breasts

Two large cans diced tomatoes

Two small cans of black beans

Package of frozen corn, preferably white or silver queen or two small cans corn drained

Half a cup taco seasoning

Half a cup ranch dressing mix, dry

Two cartons chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste.

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I use a La Creuset stock pot to cook my soup. Poach the chicken breasts in half a carton of chicken stock.  Remove the breasts and let cool.  Shred the chicken and set to the side.  In the stock pot, add the tomatoes and remaining chicken stock, the taco seasoning and dry ranch dressing mix, stir and let simmer for two hours.  Drain one can of black beans and add to the pot.  Add the remaining can of beans with juice and the corn.  If you elected to use canned corn, drain and rinse the corn before adding to the pot.  Add in the chicken and bring to a boil.  After reaching a boil, reduce to low and let cook at least another hour, preferably two.  Then enjoy!  I enjoy it “plain” but you can also top with shredded cheese, sour cream or tortilla strips.

Post Script:  This soup freezes well.  I divide it into small quantities and freeze it for lunch when I want to take something for those busy days at work or for dinner after one of those days.

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Business · Home · Organization

Routine?

Do you have a routine?  I recently realized that I do.  On the pro side of the equation, it helps.  I’m busy.  I have a job, a house, a family to care for and time is scarce.  On the con side, sometimes I feel constricted by my routine.  I’ve also found that I’m a creature of habit so the routine helps.  Amazon prime is a lifesaver and I can’t wait for the day when I can order my groceries online and have them appear at my house within a specified hour.  The reminder list app on my Iphone is my savior.  I keep a running grocery list, a life “to do” list with reminder dates and times and other lists for work, professional, and volunteer organizations.  The best suggestion I’ve ever received is to create a reminder with a date and time when I read an email.

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My routine tends to go something like:

Sunday:  church, cook a pot of something either for the freezer or to eat for the rest of the week, yoga class, or track, or hike with the fur children depending upon the time of year and the weather,  pay bills and answer any correspondence that came during the week, gather laundry for the cleaners, iron, class prep for Monday.  Much to the pup’s dismay, this also tends to be bath day.  Continuing a tradition from childhood, this is also the day I reach out to family and friends for a chat and catch up.  I like talking, so brunch with friends or a mid afternoon chat over the phone, is a delight.   If I’m very lucky, I can squeeze in a nap or a movie or something fun for an hour or two.  I always end the day with a long hot bath where I can relax and start the week off on a good note.

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Monday – Thursday:  work from 8 to ???, exercise class two nights a week, write my blog posts for the next week, catch up on life maintenance that can’t wait for the weekend and catch up on work maintenance that didn’t get done during the day. Update my “to do” lists for the next day, the week, and weekend and answer all emails received before 11PM.

Friday:  work, dinner with friends or tennis, Netflix evening.

Saturday:  check on Mom, tennis, laundry, grocery shopping and errands, house maintenance.    Fresh flowers are a Saturday thing for me.  I love the brightness that a vase of flowers brings to the house so I usually pick up flowers at the grocery store and arrange them for the kitchen table.  Glass of wine at night and time to relax with a good book.

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What is your routine?

Travel

The Carlyle Hotel (New York part 2)

 

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Last weekend I tried something different.  When I visit the City I usually crash in my BFF’s guest room.  I’m fortunate to have wonderful friends and the only thing better than a trip to New York City is a trip shared with great friends.  As luck might have it, my schedule was such that I was going to miss my friends so I elected to stay at the Carlyle.  While this was my first time staying at the hotel, I’ve visited the Carlyle or rather Cafe Carlyle and Bemelmans’ Bar for years – both are favorites!  I could not have made a better choice for a stay.

The location of the hotel was perfect for me.  It was a quick walk to the Met, the Frick, and Central Park from the hotel.  It is also across the street from Zitomer’s, a New York favorite.

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I arrived late Friday evening where I was greeted by the doorman who wisked my bags to my room while I was checked in by the wonderful staff.  My room was spacious, especially by New York hotel standards.  Since I’d come in on a late flight, I’d not had dinner and opted for room service.  I elected mac-n-cheese which arrived quickly and was delicious.  The bed was to die for and I immediately crashed after a long day.

The next morning I slept in  and then headed to dining room for breakfast which was  included in my package.  After eggs, fruit, bacon, and pastries, I headed to the Met to begin my day.  The buffet was extensive and tasty.  It was the perfect start to the morning.

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Everyone at the Carlyle was wonderful.  They did their absolute best at making my stay delightful.  The hotel itself is old New York from the elevators with the elevator boys to the doorman who is great with cabs, luggage, and directions.  I could not have picked a better place to stay.  I will be back!

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Fashion · Travel

New York City in 48 Hours

Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York . . .  (Credit Frank Sinatra)

I’ve been in love with New York since my first visit with sorority sisters as a college freshman.  I’ve been fortunate to visit many cities and each has its own special je ne sais quoi but New York is definitely in its own class of city.  Museums, shopping, Central Park, Times Square, the theatre district, the architecture, eating, so much to enjoy and so little time.  So, what’s a girl to do, just how do you spend a weekend in the City?

The Met, as it is known by many, or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is one of many museums available to frequent.  MOMA, The Frick, the Neue Galllery, and J.P. Morgan’s library are some of my favorites and a wonderful escape for when the weather is bad.

Madison Avenue, SOHO, and Fifth Avenue are home to designer and other boutiques.  If it can be bought, you would be hard pressed to not find it in the City.  Madison Avenue is my personal favorite.  I spent a wonderful birthday on the top floor of Tory Burch sipping Champagne  and purchasing new boots.  Claudia there is amazing.  Lexington Avenue also has a number of fun boutiques that are very New York.  Canine Styles is my favorite boutique for the quadraped and Gracious Homes is my go to store for linens.  I love their house brand sheets.

Central Park, so long as it is not freezing cold, is a must visit.  The boat pond, the Zoo, the Carousel , the Alice and Wonderland statute, John Lennon’s Imagine and, just simply, the existence of an oasis in the middle of the City means that it is not to be missed. Just take a walk, grab a sandwich, and simply enjoy the amazing green spaces in the middle of the metropolis.

So how do I spend 48 hours in the City?  First stop is a museum, usually the Met.  I pick one area of the Met to visit in a day.  You could spend days there and, as much as I love it, I find a couple of hours in one or two exhibits usually has me on sensory overload.  Next, I head to lunch.  The Met has several wonderful restaurants,  but Neil’s Coffee Shop on Lexington Avenue is an absolute favorite.  Forget the calories!  I go for a grilled cheese and fries and  enjoy.  If not Neil’s, then BG Restaurant  on the 7th floor is another favorite.  Their mac-n-cheese is another lunch favorite.  A bit of shopping has to be part of the visit.  I usually pick one of Madison Avenue, Lexington Avenue, Soho, or Fifth Avenue for a bit of retail therapy. The end of the day is perfect for dinner at any one of the City’s amazing restaurants. Cafe Carlyle, Bemelmans’ Bar, Cognac, Un Deux Trois, Deux Amis (yes, I have a thing for French restaurants), The Smiths, or Fig and Olive.  Finally, a Broadway play, or a concert, or simply an after dinner drink at the Peninsula Hotel or the St. Regis is an excellent way to end the day.

Day two usually begins with sleeping in a bit and then a Sunday brunch.  Balthazar’s on Spring Street, Esse-a-bagel, or Neil’s are all favorites.  The Botanical  Gardens are amazing and the Orchid show in February is always a treat.  Grand Central  is a fun stop and Sunday afternoons are great for the park or one of the museums.  Then, back to reality and time to return home so I head out to LaGuardia  or Penn Station for the trip back and a reunion with the pup.

So how did you spend your weekend?