Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Palm Springs is where one goes to spend an off-the-radar Christmas. The town is quiet (especially quiet this year, we noticed that most hotel parking lots were gapingly empty) and unless one wishes to induce a nervous breakdown by trying to shop the after-Christmas sales at the nearby outlet mall, there's little to do aside from eat, read, and watch DVD's. Even though I brought my laptop, internet connection was spotty at best, requiring sitting outside in the cold and wind to piggyback onto some unknown neighbor's unsecured wi-fi.
However, there are a couple of attractions which you can still catch this week, if you want to keep that Christmas-at-zero-humidity feeling going just a little longer. First there's the WildLights display at The Living Desert: acres and acres of holiday lights, music, fog machines, and an "iceless" skating rink. There's also a half-acre (my guess) model train setup, which features sawmills, a loop trestle, the Grand Canyon and several other scenes. Very cool, in all senses of the word (nighttime temperatures hover near freezing).
Mix Santa Claus vs. The Martians with some robots, reindeer and Godzilla, and general Christmas kitsch tossed in for good measure and the result is the RoboChristmas house, featuring very unique and bizarre Christmas displays (click on link to see pics) which include robot and other "found item" sculptures juxtaposed against more traditional Christmas decorations and a total of 7 million lights in displays over a four acre area. Not your average Candy Cane Lane! (Fans of alien autopsies will be delighted.)
I enjoy our visits to PS, but am always glad to get home. We're mostly unpacked and laundry has been done. It will take a few days of hourly hand lotion and lip balm application and ingestion of a gallon or two of water to get my coastal equilibrium back and lose the dessicated look, however.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Oy, here we go again. Come January, you'll be springing out of the gate with another Boot Camp-type regime, full of self-righteousness and zeal. If past behavior is a predictor of future behavior, you'll tell us that we all can do this, that food is a drug, that we need to make fitting in 8 hours a week at the gym a priority, or whatever your new "program" involves.
I know it's a bit audacious for me, a little blogging nobody who's no Skinny Minnie herself to presume to address you on this topic, but you've driven me to it. You may not like what I'm about to say, but you're always willing to be brutally honest (especially to some of your guests) so here goes. I know how you feel; I've been there. Many, many times, which is the crux of the matter.
First, you didn't "let this happen again." A lot of us have asked, if Oprah, with all of her money and chefs and trainers and support can't keep the weight off, why should we think that we can? And the answer is that it's not about willpower or weakness; we're fighting some serious physiological forces here.
Your body is reacting to years of yo-yo dieting and is trying to ward off the next famine. After your most recent weight loss I heard you describe how you ate, and honey, that's famine. If your biggest meal of the day is the egg whites, bowl of oatmeal and fruit you eat at breakfast, I'd wager that your body thought it was starving. And if you have to restrict food that much and exercise several hours a day to maintain a certain weight, that is not your natural weight.
Which brings me to the next point. You talk about how you eat emotionally and that food is your "drug." As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder and used to believe that about myself, I'm skeptical. Your body may be driving you to eat more than you think is appropriate which is triggering those guilt and self-loathing feelings, and the cause and effect get all mixed up. I don't know anyone who doesn't eat emotionally at times, fat or thin. I'm going to go out on a limb again and suggest that while you think you're addicted to food, what you're really addicted to is weight obession and the attendant drama.
It makes me sad to hear the self-blame and self-flagellation when you say you "have to figure out how to hold in your stomach all night and walk backward out of the room so no one sees that your butt keeps moving even when you stop." You've made your body the enemy, along with food and fat, which is probably the single most counter-productive attitude you could possibly embrace. Not only does it make you mistrust your body's signals, including hunger and satiety, but it adds to what is probably an already high level of stress in your life, which also creates homones that make you more likely to gain weight.
I know, I know, you're going to tell me this is about your health. Well, did you know that studies have shown that it's healthier to maintain a stable, higher weight than it is to keep losing and re-gaining? That moderate exercise and maintaining a good level of fitness is more important to health than being thin? And going back to stress, many believe that too much of the wrong kind of stress is probably has of the most detrimental effects on health, more so than just being fat. (Did you know that fat people in cultures where they are not stigmatized suffer few of the health effects we commonly associate with overweight?) You want to promote health? Eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies, everything else in moderation. Get 30-45 minutes of exercise five times a week, and 8 hours of sleep each night. Rediscover the joy in moving your body, focusing on the process rather than the result.
You're quite the reader (and I applaud your efforts to get us all reading again), so I'm going to recommend some books. First, Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. This book really lays out the science of why diets and other weight loss programs almost always fail, and what has been known for decades (and centuries!) about how the body responds to attempts to modify weight. I'm also going to suggest Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It was by using their "be your own food anthropologist" concept that I was able to figure out what foods work best for my body, and in what amounts. Your body will tell you what it needs if you listen and get out of the way, and accept that the weight your body wants to maintain may not match the number you had in mind.
I don't underestime the degree to which this whole concept would probably be a seismic shift for you, and might piss off some of your advertisers. But think about the good you could do by helping people to get off the diet see-saw, reduce a major cause of self-induced stress, and embrace real health and well being.
Also: Kate Harding has written a letter of her own, read it here.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Tonight we celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with extended family. We'll light the candles, the kids will open their first gifts, and then we'll bundle up and pile into the boat to cruise the canals and admire everyone's holiday lights.
It's also the Winter Solstice, and I know some of my friends will be celebrating with a traditional Sword Dance.
Picture from here.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Readers, you might be surprised to learn that I can't tolerate a lot of bulk around my neck. So if I'm going to wrap, the scarf has to be light and soft. This one is a cotton scarf my brother-in-law and his girlfriend brought me back from Ecuador last year. It's a fabulous green with gold threads, and kept my neck nicely protected from the interior winter chill.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Little-Known Facts About Well-Known Places - Paris, by David Hoffman. Fun trivia about our favorite ville.
Most e-tailers are still offering expedited shipping, so Santa or the Hannukah Fairy can still be on time.
3. L'OCCITAINE Shea Butter Hand and Foot Care Set. This is really gold-standard lotion. The hand lotion is unscented, and the foot lotion has the most delicate lavender scent.
4. Neiman Marcus is offering FREE two-day delivery with code NMFAST. How about a set of Handbag Hooks:Or for the Cocktail-Challenged, or for someone who just loves unique gadgets, a Professional Martini Maker:
Or for the very discriminating Sharp Dressed Man™ a set of Jan Leslie Collar Stays:
5. To brighten up those drab winter days, some Paperwhites from Jackson & Perkins:
7. And last but not least, pears so good your eyes will roll back in your head: Royal Riviera Pears from Harry & David. Get a box for yourself too...you've been good all year!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
The lovely folks at Harper Collins Publishers sent me a copy of A Year In High Heels: The Girl's Guide to Everything from Jane Austen to the A-List, by Camilla Morton to review and share avec vous.
Now, une femme's days of referring to herself as a "girl" are long since past, however I figure that it's never too late to learn something new. "Très cool," I thought, believing I'd sit down and light a fire in the fireplace and read it through cover to cover. But I realized quickly, it's not that kind of book. Arranged chronologically by date to encompass an entire year, the book blends historical tidbits, juicy mini-biographies of famous women (and some men), travel notes from designers (including Manolo Blahnik, bien sur) and fashion insiders, interesting bits of trivia, plus how-to advice on topics ranging from how to podcast, to how to avoid becoming seasick, to how to learn to love opera, to how to write a letter, to how to start a business, to how to moonwalk like Michael Jackson. This is a book you pick up and read a snippet or two, and can always expect to learn something and be amused in the process. For example, did you know that the word "yacht" comes from the Dutch word "jacht" meaning to throw up violently? (Whether this is actually true or not, wouldn't it be fun to drop that little tidbit at your next cocktail party?)
Targeting a younger, fashion- and culture-conscious woman, the writing style is like a fancy cocktail: frothy but with a bit of kick. I enjoyed the (small c) cosmopolitan Sex-and-the-City-ish humor, though I found a few instances where Ms. Morton plays a little fast and loose with facts for the sake of a good punch line. Some of the advice is practical, some a bit fantastical, and those looking for a serious how-to tome may be disappointed. Otherwise, welcome the era of the competent, Renaissance girly-girl, who in addition to managing a career can mix a Mohito, wear a Manolo, and name the characters from The Marriage of Figaro; it is for her this book was written.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I've been hankering after a Lafayette 148 jacket for several months. They are gorgeous and stylish, but also quite pricey, which has kept me from signing on the dotted line up until now. This particular jacket was marked down twice from $548, and with the 50% off applied to the lowest price, it came in at about $140!
But wait, there's more...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Une femme has been making noises for months about doing a ruthless closet purge, and it has finally happened. Beginning Friday night I spent about 15 hours over the weekend pulling, sorting, bagging up clothes to donate at my local thrift store. (Or photographing and posting over at Emotional Baggage. Make me an offer, I just want these to find a good home!)
A few things I've realized:
1. The hardest clothes to get rid of are the ones I've rarely or even never worn, but that have sentimental value, like my Air Garcia t-shirt (bought in 1992 at the one and only Dead concert I ever attended) or the coffee-themed Hawaiian shirts I bought in Hawaii and wear maybe once ever five years when someone has a luau party. The second toughest items to purge are the ones that I've worn much and loved, but that either are worn out or no longer fit.
2. Impulse buying isn't always a bad thing. Some of the items that have become my core favorites were purchased on impulse. If it speaks to you, it fits, it's within your budget, and you have occasion to wear it, don't dither.
3. After the purge, it's a lot easier to face getting dressed in the morning. I can see everything, and am down to the core pieces that I know actually fit and work for me. Over-abundance and too many choices can be paralyzing, and weigh me down mentally and emotionally.
4. I am just not a skirt/dress person. I kept only two skirts, and no dresses (though I only had two).
5. I am, however, a jacket person (though I already knew that) and while I thinned out my collection considerably, a couple of brilliant additions found their way in over the weekend (more in an upcoming post).
7. My tried-and-true wardrobe philosophy (stick to simple, neutral, classic pieces, update with accessories or an interesting jacket) may be boring, but it's what I keep coming back to and what works for me. For some, that might seem like a rut, but after spending so much energy trying to "find my style" I realize I already have.
* Not MY closet, mine isn't that neat and has much more black. Closet photo from here.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
You can read the entries in the comments here.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of breaking bread (well, macarons, actually!) with these two gorgeous, intelligent, stylish, funny and charming women. We enjoyed a glass of champagne and some of the best brunch this side of Paris. We chatted about blogging, shoes, jobs, travel, kids, and had a lovely time. Star sighting: Sienna Miller. Karen recognized her scarf (a freebie from British Vogue) before we recognized her.
For those who couldn't make it today, I'll try to organize another meetup soon after the holidays.
(After seeing Karen's flawless skin, I've decided I need some of that clay mask! )
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I've added some new items.
Just a note: I haven't had any nibbles on the Gerard Darel Bags, so I'm going to send those off for consignment soon. If you're interested or would like to make an offer, please let me know before Tuesday.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
In recent months, I've noticed a few women my age and older wearing leggings with dresses or longer tunics and looking très chic. I wore and loved them in the 80's, but have been hesistant to try them again, thinking that old adage about not wearing a trend the second time around may be true. So what do you think...should women over forty wear leggings, or leave them for the kids? I've put up a poll to the right.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
This jacket is the one I'd had high hopes for. The detailing is nice, it's cute and seems to be well made, but the color was wrong for me, and felt overwhelming. Someone with dark hair and a cooler complexion than mine could rock this, but it's is on its way back to the AT Mothership.
On the other hand, this jacket was actually much better than it looks online. The color, rather than being black and white as it appears in the pictures, is a grey, brown, blue, ivory and black tweed. Very nice, and it coordinates with just about every pair of pants I own. The zipper is very unobtrusive when worn open. The fit is quite good, especially in the armholes, which are cut more narrowly than I've seen in a few years.
Stay tuned for vintage Davidow jackets, purchased from Couture Allure Vintage Fashion and ebay...
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Well, my austerity program isn't working out quite how I'd planned. I blame Style Spy; thanks to this reminder from her I stopped by the local Cole Haan store on Saturday just to peruse the sale items and report back. These boots called me over from across the room, winked and asked "Where have we been all your life, Gorgeous?"
Monday, December 1, 2008
I've been mentally girding myself to do battle with the onslaught of "OMG TheHolidaysWillMakeYouFAT!!!!," "HowToKeepFromGainingWeightOverTheHolidays," (stick to the veggie tray at parties? How original!!!) and then the "LoseThatHolidayFat," and "SwimsuitSeasonIsJustAroundTheCorner" articles and the media blitz of weight loss advertisements that will hit one day after Christmas. The last few years I've been able to blissfully ignore these, having enjoyed a weight that while nowhere near as slim as my youthful Audrey Hepburn fantasies, was at least stable and had allowed me to build up a stylish wardrobe. But this last year, I've suddenly gained about ten pounds (doc says "Welcome to Menopause!"). I wish I could say I'm unfazed by this, but I'm feeling a bit susceptible to the annual bombardment of weight loss messages: half of my clever wardrobe is now too tight to wear.