Things I love

Rathmullan House

I stumbled on the beautiful Rathmullan House today in Donegal, Ireland. (I fell down the rabbit hole of the internet again. I did not find it irl.) It was so breathtaking that I’m literally planning my next Irish adventure around it! I’m already in love with Ireland so I’m thrilled to have another place lined up to visit. Can’t wait to see this special seaside palace in person.

 

Anthropologie

I’m not sure if you love Anthropologie as much as I do, but right now their store bags are just so beautiful. I usually decline bags at stores because who needs another bag when your handbag is gigantic? But these are deluxe, I’m telling you – heavyweight paper in a beautiful blue floral print – thanks Anthropologie!

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The Mascara Diaries.

My sister Tabbie and I have been on an endless quest for the perfect mascara. If you’re anything like us, you’re on a merry-go-round of mascaras you use in rotation. We’ve been wearing Diorshow Blackout for the last couple of years, thanks to their amazing formula that’s super dramatic – thickening, but also lengthening, giving you a false eyelash effect (provided you put on the appropriate number of coats). But hold the phone – I found something better.

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MAC Haute & Naughty Lash - so naughty

Fast forward to MAC Haute and Naughty Lash. This mascara isn’t one mascara doing double duty – it’s two mascaras in one tube. Literally. Two brushes. In one tube. The first brush thickens, while the second lengthens. Amazing.

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Sparkly wand = Thickening brush
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Pink wand = lengthening brush

Ladies and gentleman who wear mascara, do yourself a favor and go out and purchase this mascara. Swear to god it will change your life. And it’s half the price of Diorshow (sorry, Dior – I love you, but we’re still in a recession).

And if you have a mascara you think is better, I welcome you to challenge me. Bring it on, and I’ll post the results here.

Love,

Phoebe

Lighting my way home

Friday marked my 3 year anniversary in NYC – a tremendous move for me, coming from Southern California.┬áThere’s nothing like moving to a new state where you hardly know anyone to make you feel a little lost.

Goodbye California
Hello NYC, moving at the speed of light
My first winter in NYC

The last 3 years in New York City have been exciting, partly because they presented so many new challenges (weather, employment, transit, and more), and also because NYC is such a fast-paced, fantastic, fun place to live. Despite the good times, I must admit that there are days that I wonder who I am and what I’m doing so far away from family, and from people and places that I know and love.

Last night as I lay in bed, once again wondering if I might be completely alone in the world, I remembered a small lighthouse-shaped night lamp my mother gave me years ago. I used to use it all the time, but over the years I’ve stowed it away, never really finding a place to put it. I pulled the lamp out and plugged it in, and suddenly, in the dim light, I felt like she was right there with me.

I’ve always loved lighthouses; they seem grand and noble to me, guiding ships in the dark to a safe harbor. Perhaps I love them because, like a ship in a dark sea, I’ve always known I was destined to travel the world, but would always need a light to guide me home. And so I know that no matter where I am, as long as I remember where home is, there I shall be.

My sisters, Mom, and me, Summer 2010

Are you Betty-Booping?

My darling mother has been giving me Betty Boop-themed gifts since I was a pre-teen, and I’ve never had the heart to tell her – I don’t like Betty Boop. I never have. In fact, the first Betty Boop gift she ever got me was a mindless mistake.

When I was about 14, my mother purchased adorable Disney princess beach towels for my sisters and me, based on the Disney princess we liked. My older sister got a Princess Jasmine beach towel; my younger sister got a Mulan towel, because that was her favorite. I got a Betty Boop towel. (She’s not even a Disney princess.) When my mother handed it to me, she simply said, “Well you like to be sexy, so…”

Let me point out three things. 1: Betty Boop was sexy in the 40’s, around the time my mother was born. That was a long time ago. 2: A 14 year old girl with no breasts or hips who still secretly plays with dolls is not “trying to be sexy,” just because she wants to join the 21st century and wear a denim skirt above her knees. 3: My favorite Disney princess is, was and always will be Sleeping Beauty, because she lived in a castle, got to nap while she waited for her prince, and said prince knew how to Waltz. I know how to Waltz. I learned how by watching Sleeping Beauty, among other ways.

Princess Jasmine
Princess Mulan
Princess Aurora - Productive Napping

Because I never told Mother the truth, I’ve been receiving Betty Boop-themed gifts I don’t like, want or need for years. This leads me to share that I’ve had several friends tell me in the past few days how unhappy they were with their holiday gifts. Not because the gifts weren’t expensive enough, but because they were neither age appropriate nor purchased with the recipient in mind… much like that Betty Boop towel.

One friend told me that she received a Christmas stocking from her parents containing (among other things) a toy car piggy bank with NYC printed on the side (she lives in NYC by the way), and underwear. Nevermind that this friend is 32, married, and with child. She says she’s pretty sure that her father walks into a gift shop, eyes closed, grabs whatever he touches and wraps it up. Another friend told me that she received several bejeweled/name labeled gifts for Christmas. Please note that I said name labeled, not monogrammed (I love monograms), as in your full first name, 6th grade camp style. She’s 36, and also married.

I'm an adult, please don't buy me this

I bring these things up because the consensus today was that receiving mindlessly gifted objects actually makes a lot of people mad. It makes them mad because others could benefit from the money wasted on unusable gifts purchased in haste. (I’ll be honest – I’ve been guilty of it on occasion.) There seems to be a growing percentage of people who would rather see a donation in their name to a cause they love (animal rescue, food for the hungry, etc) than a gift they’ll never use. If your sister, brother, mother, father, or any other relative asked for a small donation (of any amount) to a charity of their choice in lieu of a holiday gift, would you be offended? Or would you give the $25 you’d planned on buying underwear with to the cause of their choosing?

A great organization. http://www.heifer.org

Homemade for the Holidays

A few years ago, my sister began making homemade gifts for me for Christmas. Among my favorites was a scrapbooked shadow box with photos of our activities that┬ásummer, and sisterly sayings neatly arranged inside. It’s one of my favorite things, and I now look forward to receiving something homemade from her every year. Though I’ve received really fun (and more expensive) things for Christmas in the past few years (Uggs, the camera that took all the photos below, etc), I believe the best gift of all is something personal, made by the hands of someone you love.

This year, my sister FINALLY made me one of her prize-winning quilts (well they haven’t actually won any prizes… YET)

Tabbie’s quilt – front
Tabbie's quilt - close up
Close up

My brother-in-law made me a Chargers themed, monogrammed ceramic coaster:

Forrest’s xmas tile

In past years, I’ve received a one-of-a-kind Christmas pumpkin:

Christmas pumpkin 2010

How do you feel about making homemade gifts for loved ones for the holidays? Would you rather wrap a gift card, or make something more meaningful? Tell me what kinds of handmade things you’ve received!

Winter Solstice 2011

I lived my whole life in 70 degree weather with sunshine in the wintertime, and now that I live in NYC it’s almost like that life never existed. Except for recent “global warming” (the only reason I can think of for a 50 degree winter in Manhattan), the last few winters of my life have been spent in knee deep snow and down-filled puffers. Depressing, when you consider how many days it’s been since your toes have seen sunlight.

On the first official 2011 day of Winter, I feel compelled to have a mimosa in the sunlight and toast to this holiday season, spent in the warmth of my hometown, San Diego. Today, it’s 61 degrees in sunny Pacific Beach, where I will be unwrapping Christmas cheer and many mimosas with one of my two darling sisters (the other one doesn’t celebrate Christmas, and that’s a story for different blog). It’s my favorite way to spend Christmas; with cocktails and family. What’s yours?

Questions:

1. I bought a Steve by Searle puffy last season, but I’m still doubting its warmth. What kind of puffer do you wear? Rate it, on a scale of one to ten. I’m obsessed with puffy coat ratings!

Steve by Searle, 7/8 length down filled coat with removable hood

2. I feel the need to have a pedicure once a month. How often do you get a pedi during the winter?

Solution: OPI Muppets colors, if you can still find them. Delightful!

 

p.s. Do you open everything on Christmas day? Or do you open presents early? I just unwrapped fun holiday jammies!:

Cute, warm, and from Target!

The beginning of autumn.

The beginning of fall always herald’s the end of summer – the best season in the world, and also my favorite – which in my opinion is sad news. But in spite of the almost instant, dramatic drop in temperature here on the east coast (which forces me to put on layers, my least favorite thing to do), the arrival of new seasonal adventures forces me out of my post-summer funk and into the outdoors – usually to go apple picking.

I piled into a car full of friends and headed to Milton, NY on Saturday, home to Prospect Hill Orchards. I must pause here and tell you about a terrifying discovery my friends and I made in Milton last year. This is a town without working public restrooms.

Remembering the difficulty we had last fall locating a working ladies room in this little town, we decided to start the day off right by locating a working restroom right away. We stopped at at a gas station mini mart. And we were disappointed. Our first search turned up exactly what we hoped we would not find – an out-of-order restroom. Two of them, in fact, which led my dear friend Katie to ask not for the nearest gas station, but for a plunger so she could fix it herself. (Ladylike? Perhaps not. Smart? You betcha.) Here’s the proof.

Thank goodness for can-do ladies like Katie! As a pat on the back for our efforts, we picked up celebratory drinks on the way out (shockingly, we didn’t get any pats on the back from the mini mart employees…).

Back to apple picking.

Prospect Hill Orchards. I love this place, mostly because they show up at the farmers market near my old apartment in Washington Heights every week with the most delicious apple cider donuts known to mankind. Seriously, if you’re ever in the area, do yourself a delicious favor some Tuesday morning and pick some up! I think they also have a booth at the farmer’s market in Union Square.

It was such a fine day for apple picking!

This particular weekend turned up plenty of red delicious, crispin, and macintosh apples. The honeycrisp trees were bare, though, and there were no fuji’s or granny smith to be found. (I’m going to make pie with the macintosh apples, and I’ll post the photos here.) The best part about picking apples is that you get to eat them right off the tree!

It turns out that I’m the only person I know who likes red delicious apples. Fiber, people! The thick skin is good for you.

I lied when I said the best part of apple picking is eating apples off the tree. The best part is climbing the tree! And having a drink in it.

All in all, I welcomed fall with good friends, sunshine and a smile.