Now Reading

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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin- a book about books, about readers, about a bookstore owner in a charming little town, but most of all, about love, family and community. This may not be a hard book to read but it’s a pleasure.

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg- for anyone who has ever dreamt of starting a restaurant (or any other small business), this is what it is like, told by frank, disarming and totally engaging author of the blog Orangette. She and her husband opened Delancey, an acclaimed pizza restaurant in Seattle, shortly after they married, with no experience and very little money. How it changed their marriage and their lives is fascinating and ultimately, heartwarming. Molly’s delicious recipes follow each chapter.

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler- I loved this first novel so, so much. The author vividly captures life in the rural Midwest, a land of farmers, dying businesses and wide open space. Four old friends and a woman that they are all entwined with alternate chapters as they grow up, experience failure and wild success, marry, have children and betray each other. I couldn’t put this down. It’s a warm, funny read that also brought tears to my eyes.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- up next. Three book industry friends swore to me that this was their favorite book of 2014 so far, so I’m giving it a shot. I’ve never read the author’s work and I’m looking forward to this.

I know I still haven’t written about The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It’s probably worthy of its own post. In hindsight I decided that I both enjoyed it more upon reflection than I did when I was reading it, and also that I still prefer her first book, The Secret History. I also re-read Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. I posted about it last year (along with the sweetest photo of me and a nine-day-old Gabe!) and loved it twice as much a second time. Her words are sparse and lovely and she nails the minutiae of motherhood and marriage.

What are you reading?

Books, Entertainment

Beauty Products I’m Loving

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Just as I’m hooked on reading other people’s menu plans, I’m equally obsessed with getting new beauty product recommendations. It’s like snooping through a friend’s medicine cabinet, but on a much more global scale (and way less creepy). I bought two things recently after Raluca raved about them and I have to say, they are the real deal. The girl has never steered me wrong and I am fairly certain I’ll pick up a few more items she’s loving! I also get great tips from Bleubird’s Vanity Project posts. It’s fascinating to see what women use and swear by.

Here are my favorite beauty products of late. I wrote a similar post a few years back but because I’m a product junkie, there is very little carryover!

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Josie Maran Argan Oil Light- I’ve loved argan oil for years but this lighter version is better for my skin. Since I started using a retinol again, I need more moisture and a few drops of this before bed or after my sunscreen in the morning really makes a difference.

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Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray- This was one of Raluca’s recommendations and I’m loving it. I use it after drying and straightening my hair, just to add back in a little wave and body. It works well on day two hair as well. Just a light spray makes piecey waves without being as crunchy as surf spray can be.

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Dermalogica Active Moist- another lightweight moisturizer that doesn’t break me out and is super gentle.

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Beautyblender Pure Sponge- this came from Raluca, too. I read her raves about it and after using it for a few weeks, I’m hooked. I use it with my Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer and it goes on so perfectly. Flawless coverage and it allows you to use less product.

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Buxom Lash Mascara- I used this, loved it, strayed and am now back. It’s the best mascara out there if you like really natural lashes without clumping or flaking. I didn’t love the curved wand version as much, though.

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Tatcha Japanese Beauty Papers- these help me get through a long work day without too much shine and they don’t disturb your makeup at all. Light and luxurious.

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MCMC Phoenix Perfume- I’ve long been a Chanel Chance girl but I got a sample of this and it is dreamy. Much sweeter and lighter than what I typically wear, but I’m thinking it’s time to switch things up. The only problem is my husband isn’t wild about it…

What are you using and loving? Go ahead, enable my Sephora addiction!

 

*image of Marilyn Monroe via Pinterest

Health and Beauty

Weekly Menu

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I spent much of last week deathly ill with a head and chest cold that just refuses to leave. It wiped me out and left me with just enough energy to lounge on the couch binge watching old seasons of “The Mindy Project.” It turns out I am capable of watching a shockingly embarrassing number of episodes back to back. Thank goodness I have a job to keep me productive! The only things I made for myself were green juices. It’s a great way to clean out the fridge and feel healthy at the same time. I’m loving beet, kale, ginger, apple and lemon, as well as kale, romaine, lime, ginger, carrot, apple and cucumber.

I’m hoping this week will bring a renewed sense of energy and purpose and that my family will get to eat my home cooking once again!

Sunday: Extended Family Weekly Dinner. I’m bringing Wilted Kale and Roasted Potato Salad. The tahini dressing is so good, I could eat the entire bowl myself. Yum.

Monday: Book Club (i.e. drink too many glasses of wine, get much-needed moral support from the ladies and see who, beside me, actually made it through all 700 pages of The Goldfinch). I’m bringing these chocolate chip blondies because, when you perfect a recipe, you may as well make it every single week, right?!

Tuesday: Smitten Kitchen’s Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl (will add mushrooms and tofu).

Wednesday: Barefoot Contessa’s Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons (I’ve been dying to try this forever.)

Thursday: Nom Nom Paleo’s Grilled Green Chicken, Garlic Roasted Cauliflower, rice.

Friday and Saturday: dinner out.

What’s on your menu this week? And who else watched “True Detective”? We just finished it and I’m dying to discuss it with someone. That creepy house in the last episode will haunt my nightmares for weeks!

*photo credit Deb Perelman

Food and Drink

Thankful

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I scanned my Instagram feed the other day and noticed something: almost every photo I take is close-up, of people I love. Ok, people and cocktails/beer. Let’s not think too deeply on that! But compared to many people I follow, whose feeds are filled with stunning landscapes, or tiny artistic glimpses of children at play, or vignettes from their homes, my feed is noticeably heavy on faces, looking at the camera, full of joy. It’s telling, really. I’m happiest with people, and the times I most want to remember are those when we’re laughing, or smiling or connecting.

Anyway, I took two entire days off work this week, which I am fairly certain I haven’t done in months, and as a result, I’m well-rested, calm and bubbling over with gratitude for things big and small, but most of all, for those three crazies in the photos above. Norah’s been away for a few days on a spring break trip to Los Angeles and the rest of us are missing her like mad.

Grateful as well for the following (in completely random order of importance):

* My new Ray Bans, a birthday gift from my husband. They blow my old Target knock-offs out of the water.

* Two evenings out with dear college friends and their families this week. There’s nothing like laughing with old friends and feeling like no matter how much time has passed, they get the real you in a way people who meet you later in life rarely do.

* This song. One of my co-workers lets me indulge in a Pandora station full of chick pop/rock and I can’t get enough of Sara Bareilles. Love her.

* This book, that I’m halfway through. Orangette has long been one of my favorite food blogs and Molly’s latest, about the early days of her marriage and the start of her restaurant, Delancey, is riveting. More on the book later, but I’m calling it a must-read for anyone who has dreamt of opening their own bar/bookstore/restaurant (ahem!)

* These jeans. God bless Gap and their never-ending 40% off sales. I’ve worn these at least once a week since I bought them. Perfect color and fit.

* “The Mindy Project.” The shot of Danny reading in bed to Mindy was total fantasy material for any book-lover. So happy this show is back.

* “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” (And a related bit of gratitude for rare but much-appreciated afternoon movie dates with my husband!)

* Bon Appetit’s lunchtime upgrades. I already made the Fava Bean soup and it was delicious. I would love to ditch the pricey smoothie/sad pb&j slump I’ve been in recently.

* My store. I tend to get bogged down in the daily sales numbers, in traffic and reorders and emails to be sent, but some really huge things have happened in the past few weeks that made me realize that we’re on the right path. We’re still so new, and I am really thrilled with how much my amazing staff and I have accomplished. It’s nice to take a moment to feel proud of our progress.

* And finally, I’m really excited to get to see my sis and her little family this weekend. I can’t get enough of her chubby, sweet baby.

Hope you all had a wonderful week as well!

(all shots from my Instagram feed, @suchsmallsteps)

About Me, Books, Career, Entertainment, Food and Drink, Music, Relationships, Style

Keeping it Classic

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Every trip to the mall reminds me that I buy the same items over and over in the ever more minimalist palette of black, white, and navy. There’s the occasional splash of turquoise or green, but for the most part, my mid-thirties style seems to be simple, urban and tailored. I’m learning what works on my body and what colors are most flattering on me, and I rarely stray. The image above of one of my all-time favorites, Audrey Hepburn, is comforting. There are worse style icons to have! As my friend Karina recently told me, instead of fighting to change my look, why not just own and embrace it?

And on the classic beauty front, I splurged and bought a Mason Pearson brush on my hairstylist’s recommendation. It’s an investment for sure, but I am head-over-heels in love with it. It makes me want to obsessively brush my hair, and it helps me stretch another day without washing, no dry shampoo necessary. That’s huge for a non-morning person like myself.

Now if I could only master “quality, not quantity.” I seem to be stuck in “quality AND quantity” which is not great for the old budget!

(Photo from this series, which I spent way too much time looking at. The shots of Judy Garland and Vivian Leigh are my favorites but there are so many amazing shots in the group. Thanks to Girl of a Certain Age for the link.)

Health and Beauty, Style