Friday, April 29, 2011

One More (Royal) Thing...

....can we just discuss how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE this:

They are officially the coolest, most down-to-earth royals yet!

Two Royal Wedding posts in one day is enough - happy weekend everyone!

Fairytale Friday: Princess Catherine

What else could I write about today but THE Princess and THE dress!  I've been watching live footage of the guests arriving, etc since 8:30AM this morning and I just love it all - I don't care what anyways says (including dear hubby who couldn't give two straws about all this).

While there is more than just the bride's dress to discuss, let's talk about her first, shall we? Personally, I love it.  I've heard some criticism that it's "too safe" and "boring" but I completely disagree.  If I were a Princess-Bride-To-Be, I'd understand that I would be expected not to make any huge fashion statements and would be required to go for classic elegance rather than donning what a daring fashionista would choose.  That's not Kate's style anyway, why would she do otherwise on the most important day of her life?  She is wearing a stunning ivory gown - sating with long lace sleeves and a deep v-neck.  The box-pleating in the front was designed to look like an opening flower (a detail which I thought was beautiful alternative than the more harsh lines that a box-pleat can create).   The dress also features a rose, a thistle, a shamrock and a daffodil, representing each nation in the UK.  I love the diamond drop earrings, too!

Her veil was simple and hung beautifully and her Halo tiara (on loan from the Queen) was elegant and perfect.  Everything was just slightly understated (which is more than can be said for the meringue-like monstrosities worn by her mother-in-law and that other red-headed 'princess' who married at Westminster in the '80s, I actually remember watching that one live).  I just love it.

Love the detail at the back - beautiful!

The dress was also a nod to that other commoner-turned-princess from the 50s, but is definitely different enough to escape being a called a copy.

And what of the men?  I thought Prince William looked absolutely dashing in his red Irish Guard military regalia.  Harry looked very handsome as well but his posture is dreadful (my guess is he's a slight bit under the weather!) - take notes from your big brother, Harry!

The Queen looked lovely in lemon, but to me she wears the same thing in a different color every time.

Pippa's dress was ruined for me by those sleeves.  Also was surprised that she wore white, but she did look gorgeous.  And those little flower girls - adorable!  Love those dresses.

Carole played it safe and elegant in this sky blue mother-of-the-bride ensemble by Diana's favorite designer.

Camilla looked elegant.  The dress was not my cup of tea, but she looked very well.

Princess Beatrice wearing the worst (Phillip Treacy) hate of the day.  And Prince Andrew looking rather old.  

Another view of the hat.  Don't mind the dress so much, although the color is very blah.  What is Eugenie thinking, though, in that blue floral disaster and hat to match?  Not to be horrible (brace yourself) but clearly they get their fashion sense from their mother.

Posh and Becks looking almost royal.  Quite like that Phillip Treacy hat, and her dress is simple and elegant.  And him...what can one say except :swoon:  :)

The next royal wedding:  Prince Albert of Monaco and his fiance Charlene Whittstock.

Princess Anne looking rather colourful.  In a word: awful.

And, finally, sealed with a royal kiss:

What did you think?  Do tell...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It was Nice....really nice.

(I wrote this last Friday but with Easter and all I decided to wait to post until today).

It's early morning here in Dublin and the sun is beating through our windows.  From the temperature in our apartment, you'd find it hard to believe that it's only 65 degrees Fahrenheit outside (I still can't think in Celsius, but my converter tells me it's about 18 degrees C).  I lay for a while in bed with my eyes closed, listening to the traffic outside my window, enjoying the warm air and feeling comfortable without being covered in blankets and sheets.  Then the wind picked up and through the open window, it drowned out the sound of the traffic below.  So much so that lying there with my eyes closed, I imagined myself somewhere entirely different.  Sun on my legs, warm air, gentle breeze, and the breeze sounding like the ocean instead of the wind: perfect.  Just the mental vacation I'm craving.

That perfect feeling immediately brought be back to May 2002.  The place: Nice, France.  The setting:  lounging on a nautical-striped lounge chair on Nice's rocky beach.  The company:  Tara, Kate and Pareen - my three travel amigas who I met studying in Paris that spring (they're all George Washington University alums - we were so excited to spend our senior year hanging out in DC together).  

The four amigas - girls how is this one of the only photos I have of the 4 of us together?

The event:  Kate's 21st birthday.  We were in the mood to celebrate and we didn't think that waiting until the evening to start was appropriate at all.  So, at 10:30AM on a beach in Nice, we helped Kate start celebrating by ordering the most delicious, decadent strawberry sundae - we might have helped her eat it, too.

Kate and the swoon-worthy sundae

I don't know what it is about that moment but it's one I often think of and when I do I just feel happy.  We were 20 and 21 years old, carefree and happy.  None of us had significant others and we all were just having a fantastic time doing what single girls do best, whatever that is.   :)   We had just finished studying in Paris and this was our last excursion as a group before hopping back across the ocean (or the Irish sea, in my case) to enjoy the rest of the summer before senior year started.  We enjoyed that day in Nice so much.  We strolled along the promenade and I bought posters to bring back to hang in my apartment (which I didn't have then) - I saved them and eventually framed them and if you've been in our home in the last 5 years you've seen them for yourself. 

We also hopped over to Cannes to do some celeb spotting at the Cannes Film Festival which was in full swing:

The only photographic proof I have of the festival. That was as close as we got and in the days before digital cameras, I didn't waste a shot!

I'm sure we saw plenty of people that I'd come to know but didn't at the time, but I can say with certainty that I saw Jack Nicholson and Eva Mendes (who was in a beautiful coral colored gown, alas no photos to prove it, you'll just have to take my word!).  We spent the day wandering around Cannes and plotting how we were going to get ourselves onto one of the many yachts docked off the shore for the parties later on.  We graciously decided that we didn't want to detract from the big winners and instead chose to keep it more low-key on the shore.  ;)

We also went on an expedition to Monaco, which was simply amazing and beautiful.  

I was quite excited to see Monaco for a couple of reasons.  For the few years I spent growing up in London, our next door neighbors were an elderly couple - Ivan was from an aristocratic Hungarian family who came to London in the late 30s, and Muriel was English as far back as she knew.  And, my parents tell me, they lived quite the life.  They had the kind of life that I'm sure wouldn't be too far off the one that Madeline Felkay had (remember this post I wrote last week?) - minus the fleeing to the United States part.  Ivan chose London, instead, to be with Muriel (romantique, non?).   I remember that their flat had lots of dark wood and gilt furniture.  I remember distinctly how it smelled, even now a quarter of a century later.  The distinguished gentleman next door passed away not long after we moved back to Ireland, but his wife survived him by ten years, and as we spent every summer and winter in England when I as a child, she came to stay with us for most of them.  Many early Christmases that I remember include her, too, until she passed away in 2000 at the grand age of 95.  How I would love to meet her now and learn all about her life - she was a lady of another era, indeed.  When she passed away, she left my mother a beautiful Hermes scarf, and somewhere I still have some ribbons from Austria that she gave me one Christmas - they were like none I ever saw before.   They have an interesting story and he had a very fascinating family (or sibling, at least).  I think they might even deserve a post all of their own...

But I digress a little...our dear old Hungarian friends were very much in my mind during our short visit to Monaco because every single year they holidayed in Monaco, and they stayed here, at the Hotel Hermitage in their "best room", as they used to say.  So, I had to see it with my own (rather envious) eyes and document it photographically, of course:

We climbed atop Monaco's highest hills to visit the Palais de Monaco, and while it was beautiful, the most exciting part for me was that I was actually in the former home of Princess Grace, revered style icon and beauty extraodinaire.  We then dined near the Casino de Monte Carlo, and discovered the delights of muscadet wine, which - I'm certain - gave us the courage to enter Casino's atrium to try our hands at the slot machines.  I kept imagining James Bond sweeping in, stopping on his way (blinded by our beauty, natch) to escort us to the salon privés where we'd bet thousands without batting an eye.  Thankfully 007 didn't show up that night as I don't think I would have gotten through the doors in my white peasant top and linen skirt (hey - it was the early noughties, no judgement please!).  

Kate and I oustide the Casino de Monte Carlo

We retired from the casino (30 euros richer - high rollers!!) and continued our adventure much in the same way we did in Cannes: by planning how we would get onto one of the thousands of yachts in the harbour to party the night away in true style!  Alas, no handsome millionaires came to our rescue, so we four single gals on student budgets headed back on the train to Nice and our little 2* hotel and dreamt of all the things that almost had happened in Monaco.  We did wake up to this, it's no Hotel Hermitage, but it's definitely not bad for a 2*.   

Finally we had to say à bientôt to our beloved French Riveria.  I have yet to return, but it is firmly on my list of places to visit and rediscover.  I am grateful, however, for this little trip down memory lane to revisit one of my's amazing where a sunny day in Dublin can take you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hoppy Easter! (get it?? ha!!)


Happy Easter, everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Sunday and, in the midst of chocolate and candy, didn't forget what Easter is really about!  It was a beautifully mild day here in Dublin and we went out to mass and Munchers (which is kinda my new nickname for her - it went from Munchkin to Munchers, somehow, but I kinda like it and anyways I can't stop saying it even if I tried!).  Where was I?  Oh, Munchers looked totally adorable in her dress from her Uncle Gerald (well, he's my Uncle Gerald but he adores her and buys her the prettiest dresses!).  I'm still in a conundrum about posting pics of her but here's one of my little chick-a-dee and my big chick-a-dee on Easter morning that I'll put up for a while so you can see who distracted everyone in mass this morning:

Anyways, since most of my patient and loyal readers are American I thought I'd tell you a little about an Irish Easter.  It involves lots of chocolate.  Which makes it amazing!  SO - typically (and I'm still not back to normal so this wasn't a typical Easter Sunday), we wake up and have a hard boiled egg that is sitting in an eggcup with the face of the person who will eat the egg ever-so-artistically drawn on it by the resident Picasso (ie: not me, although he drawings do tend to be a bit Picasso-esque, come to think of it.).  Hmmm...that might just be a tradition in my family only, not quite sure...but hey, it's a tradition so I'm sharing it either way.  We didn't the that this year so no photo, sorry.  Must make a mental note to do that next year.   We also give each other our Easter eggs, but I'll get to that bit later.

After a light breakfast of boiled eggs and toast - gotta save room for chocolate - we get dressed in our Easter best and go to mass.  After mass we usually come home to the amazing aroma of roast leg of lamb - an Irish (and, I believe, British) Easter lunch tradition.  However, being that we're a bit off-kilter this year the lamb was made at dinner not at lunch.  It was, however, totally delicious.  We thought if we're gonna go wrong, go strong (with a weekend of chocolate over-indulgence and all) and we had roasted potatoes, parsnips, carrots and garlic with it.  MMMmmmmmmm!  It was amazing, I must say.  Plus the obligatory mint sauce and red wine gravy.  My husband sure can cook - he's definitely hired.

Anyways, dinner was delish.  And so was dessert!  Feast your eyes on this:

It's hard to tell from the above photo, but that middle egg is bigger than my darling hubby's head.  No really, it is.  We might have some photos to follow...

An egg that big was a necessity, despite what you might be thinking.  I decided that since the hubster exerted so much self control and didn't have ONE sweet or dessert during Lent, he deserved the biggest Easter Egg I could find.  What's an Easter Egg, do I hear you say?  You've heard of chocolate bunnies but not of chocolate eggs (outside of cadbury cream eggs and Cadbury mini-eggs)?  Well, chocolate Easter eggs are an amazing invention where the geniuses at the chocolate companies make a hollow but delicious creation that is shaped like an egg but is, thankfully, much larger than a real egg.  Almost every chocolate bar and chocolate brand available brings out their own Easter egg - as you can see in the photo above, we had a Cadbury Creme Egg Easter Egg and a Cadbury Mini Egg Easter Egg, each of which come with a large hollow chocolate egg AND a packet or two of the actual chocolate bar itself.  And a mug, if you happen to buy the Mini-Egg box that is in that photo above.  We also had a Crunchie Easter Egg, 2nd Creme Egg Easter Egg, and a Butlers Chocolate Truffle Easter Egg, none of which survived Saturday and Sunday morning to be photographed....oops!

Anyways, they are delicious and if we every moved back Stateside I would sorely miss them.  Strangely, Easter just isn't Easter without them.  So, while we don't have peeps or chocolate bunnies or Easter egg hunts (which I will adopt when C is old enough) or whatever else...we have something that, in my humble opinion, beats the band!  I'd send y'all some but I don't seem them surviving Easter Monday.  Could you blame us?

Happy Easter!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Laid Up With Too Much Time To Think.

“I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and 
try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.  Do not search fo rthe answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” 

Right now I'm lying in my bed staring out the window listening to a building alarm going off down the street.  The chances of it going off anytime soon is slim, as it's 8:15PM and I'd say everyone has gone home for the day.  So I'll just have to sit here listening to it "weeeeeeow weeeeeeeeeow, weeeeeeeeeeeeeow" until it decides to shut itself off instead, which could make for a long evening.

It's still light outside.  Like LIGHT.  At 8:15PM.  This makes me very happy.  Spring is in the air, cherry blossoms are in bloom, the air outside smells like flowers and the trees are proudly sporting their beautiful light green leaves.  Yet I am in bed.  That's not really my fault though, I kinda have to be here.  I spent all day in a hospital yesterday where I went through some things that have left me feeling pretty sore and extremely tired.  But the good news is that I had an extremely attentive, patient and kind 'personal nurse' (PK) and I will make a full recovery - there, now, you can breathe again.  

I'm not sure what this post is going to end up saying, but I feel like there are some things in my brain that I want to get out.  Having spent almost an entire 36 hours lying in bed (granted, a good 18 of those was spent in and out of sleep), you find you have a lot of time to think.  Having that much time alone with your thoughts can be good or it can be bad.  Well, maybe not bad, but sometimes when you have a lot of time alone with your thoughts, you might not necessarily want to face some of the ones that crop up.  I do think they should be faced, though - don't you?  It's like asking the hard questions {the hubster and I actually bought this book when we got engaged and went through each question first apart, then together. It was one of the best things we did in our relationship, and made us think of things and face issues that we never would have otherwise} - those difficult questions that you are afraid to ask but if you do, will give you the answers that will inevitably make your relationship better or reveal that perhaps you're just not there yet.  And that's true whether the relationship is with your significant other, your best friend, or even your job.  Are you happy where you live, are you happy in your line of work, is there more you want from your professional life than you're currently getting, are your friends enriching your life or dragging you down?  There are lots of hard questions we have to face throughout our life and I think the hardest part of all is to actually face them.

(The building alarm just went off - praise the Lord).

Anyways, I've had a little time today to think of some hard questions and mull over what my answers are.  I'm not sure I want to share them right here right now.  But what I do feel ok sharing is that I wish I started college with the knowledge of myself and the world that I have now (I'm sure I'm not the only one to have this wish - surely others feel this way too?).  Almost 12 years ago (holy cow - 12 years ago.  I started college 12 years ago?!?!?  That's scary), I had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  None.  Some people know from an early age, but that was not me.  I went in as an undecided major and during my Sophomore year I picked media studies as my major because I loved everything it taught about:  film, advertising, graphic design, political rhetoric, etc.  I discovered the graphic design element too late in my college career to re-focus my major on it, it was Senior year when I took introduction to Photoshop with Prof. Johnson.  But it's the skill from college that I use most in a professional capacity (working for my parents has given me the opportunity to really get my creative juices flowing and also to tap into my love of graphic design, so in that respect it's perfect).  I also took a senior year history of modern art class which I loved. Another path I started on too late.  I sometimes have dreams of what life would be like working in a gallery in NY or Paris.  Le sigh....

And now, almost 12 years later, I think about what I would do if I was 18 and had college to start all over again.  I still love media - films have always been a passion and advertising was always intriguing and something I felt good at analyzing and interpreting.  But now I feel that I know so much more about myself and what I like and dislike - I know more of who I am and what I am.  Would I go back and do it differently?  Professionally speaking, absolutely. But I doubt I could do it without the knowledge I have about myself and about the world now.  Which puts us back at square one, no?  

I was lucky enough to work on a film (behind the scenes) back in 2009 when I was expecting the munchkin.  It was an amazing experience - totally exhilarating.  I learned a lot, I felt that I was good at what I was doing and had the timing not been what it was (5 months away from having my first daughter), I think it would have been a path I would have actively pursued.  But the nature of film work - in this country at least - doesn't mesh well with having a young family and having to pay through the nose for child care, so that dream has been set aside, for now.  

{And there goes the alarm again...weeeeeeeeeeeow weeeeeeeeeeeow}

Recently, I've been introduced to the beautiful world of interior design thanks to the amazing blogosphere.  Admittedly, it's something I knew nothing about - nothing - until about 2.5 years ago, but since then I've devoured every blog I can on the subject, and every magazine.  I live vicariously through the work of some amazingly talented designers who share their talent through the blogosphere (Erika and Erin are daily must-reads for me).  And I wonder what their professional life is like and I wonder what my professional life would be like if I had majored in interior design, had an NYC interior design internship and started my own company when I was in my 20's.  I know now what my tastes are (those who have seen our apartment lately don't judge - it's all a work in progress!), and I'd love to try them out properly with the right resources (and budget!).  But professionally, at least, that was not to be my path at this point in my life.  I don't want you to be reading this thinking 'gosh, is she ungrateful or what - has she not done anything she has loved?'.  I have enjoyed my work - the work I'm doing part-time now is professionally the most satisfying that I have done to date, but I am still looking to tap into that big professional dream that I think we're all looking for.  

I can say with certainty, though, that the work I'm most proud of, to this day, is asleep in her crib right now.  She's perfect, she's beautiful and my husband and I made her.  And that really is something to be proud of.  I think as a mother it's often really easy to downgrade our roles as caretakers and child raisers because we don't get paid to do it - and I also mean that for working mothers and part-time working mothers (like me).  Raising a child is tough - I think it's the hardest job there is, whether your a Mum or a Dad.  You're given this tiny, perfect little soul and it's your job to raise them, teach them right from wrong, teach them to be loving but strong, patient but ambitious, independent and proud yet humble, too.  You want them to be the best person they can be and most of the time you've got about 18 years to cram all this in before they fly the coup and test out all you've taught them on their own.  That's tough.  Some may think being home to raise your children isn't contributing enough to the world (I've been guilty of that thought before), but I'm contributing a whole person to the world - who knows the amazing things she will grow and do.  How could I give more?  And I have the best partner in life to be on this amazing, exciting, demanding and often scary job of being a parent.  Nothing prepares you for it and there's nothing like it. 

So as it stands right now, I don't have the luxury of picking a new career and giving it a go, of going back to school and starting again. I'm choosing to be a mother who works part time from home and for now, that's good enough for me.   And I know it's not good to keep looking back to the past but some days when you have nothing else to do your mind can just wander back there and it's hard not to say "what if I knew then what I know now" (wait, isn't that a country song or something?).  Life is about looking forward, about appreciating what you have and doing the best with what you've got, about living your very best life as the very best person you can be.  But sometimes looking back and thinking about what you would have done can give some clarity about where you want to head, about what you want to tackle next and what is truly important for you going forward.

And sometimes it's just nice to dream too, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad (Men) New York City, of course.

Hello friends,

Once again, apologies for the sparse blog postings lately - I'm going through a little internal struggle with whether to post photos of C on here or not.  I want to share them with you but at the same time I want to protect her too - you know?  So while I'm continuing my internal debate, I'll share some photos that, thankfully, the very talented photographer, Jamie Beck, has graciously shared with the world.

I first came across these photo's on one of my favorite blogs when I was sick as a dog and stuck in bed this past Christmas.  I immediately fell in love, and thought to myself that I could actually live in that apartment (with a couple of modern adjustments, perhaps - the bathroom and kitchen most of all, for convenience's sake).  I just loved the simple yet glamourous furnishings, the pop of color in every room and....of course....the absolutely incredible views.  It just oozes the Mad Men sophistication and elegance that I have always loved.  And if you know me at all you know that I long to step back in time to the earlier part of the 20th century - I often think I was born in the wrong era.  So this is right up my alley.  Now to let you see just what I'm talking about....

This might be my favourite photo of the set (although it's hard to say that because there are so many incredible ones).  And that tufted green velvet couch?  Perfection - in love.  It might be my favourite colour green, too.   I wonder about all the people who sat on that couch and what they talked about over the years.  And I'm dying over that oversized tapestry.  Here's a closeup:

 I'd love to know the story of where that came from.

More fabulous green, made even more amazing by the addition of cerise pink.  Can it get any better?

Why yes it can - just look at that view.  Are you kidding me?!?! (And don't you love how even the rug has touches of green and hot pink?).
(That's her granddaughter)

Now back inside.....

I find myself wondering who has played that piano (apparently a Hungarian pianist-friend often tinkled those ivories), and what did they sing?  Did people dance to the music, too?  Can you imagine a party in that room - I can and I wish I could travel back and be a fly on the wall (or - better yet - a guest).
Imagine cocktail hour in this space?  Amazing.
Shaken, not stirred....naturally.
Love the bamboo silver bar tools.

Now...the kitchen.  Let's talk about the kitchen.
Wouldn't you just feel like Betty Draper on that phone?  I love that the wall paper is pink and green, and the green tile on the kitchen floor?  I would never pick that but it just works here - especially with those green topped stools.  
This kitchen is seriously like stepping back time.  I mean just look at this:
Have you ever seen anything like that in your life?  Admittedly, it's a smart space-saver for a NYC apartment, but who would think of it?  And after you're done preparing your breakfast in that wonderful little kitchen, you can enjoy it here on perfect pink chairs...
On fabulous pink china (which I LOVE):
And how smart is this for dinner parties:

Working from home in a space like this?  Don't mind if I do (especially sitting a chair like that):
My heart is made happy by the old fashioned stationary set.  All that's missing is the in-office bar and Don Draper.  Still not convinced on the office?  I bet you'll change your mind when you look out the window (if you're a NY-er and know where this is, please tell me!):

Now the bathroom.  How great is that Pucci-esque wallpaper, love it all over the door:

And now her bedroom:
Hello, vintage upholstered headboard.  I'm pretty sure the owner of this bed and I have a few things in common, the least of which being our love of upholstered headboards.
And her bathroom...
Which also has a view, naturally...
And a dressing room....
And here's the lady herself:
How glamorous is pink, of course - clearly her signature color.
Her name is Madelaine Felkay.  She arrived in the United States in 1948 after escaping communism in her home country of Hungary.  As Beck discovered when she went to photograph the apartment, Felkay married the owner of the Tip Top Brush Company, and became a true-blue Manhattanite, hosting bridge games and throwing parties in this spectacular apartment that has a "million dollar view of Central Park South".  When I first viewed these photos, she was 94 and still living alone in that apartment.  I just discovered, however, that she passed away just a week after I saw these photos.  Although of course I didn't know here it still made me feel sad - the end of a Manhattan era.
This photo just captures so much - there she is sitting on my favorite green couch in a beautiful cerise pink dress, her signature color, of course.  I like to imagine that this photo was taken at the end of the night, after all the guests have left her soiree.  She's tired, but happy and content after a wonderful evening with friends.  All she has to do now is curl up in her bed and enjoy her absolutely perfect apartment.

I hope you enjoyed looking at these photos as much as I do - they just never get old for me, kind of like that apartment....still effortlessly stylish, fifty years later.