The Spaces Between Fun

friendsDo you get out enough? It seems these days that no vacation lasts as long as it should, no weekend is filled with enough adventure, each special plan is marked by its ending. My mom and I call it the Sunday Blues, and unfortunately they can come on at any time, not just Sundays. I feel it when a date with my fiance is coming its end, and believe me, I cried before we hopped the plane home from Paris.

So, how do we solve this? I have a fantastic job and a fulfilling extracurricular lifestyle as a freelance journalist. We have a lovely home and two sweet pets. And I don’t need to tell you how much I adore my fiance. So, what is the secret to staying jazzed up about life on the in-betweens? You need to make a fun plan. And then make another. And another. You will not be jetting off to Paris at a moment’s notice (that was wonderful, but it was a one-timer!)

But there is brunch and there are parks and sweet cities to discover and dog parks to wander about. If it’s not in your budget or allotted vacation allowance to take a trip anytime soon, add something fabulous to your calendar, ten days from now or less, and that night after you’ve unwound from the day’s adventure, start to plan your next one. Here are some ideas that work in any city:

cupcakesThrow a sweet party. These do not need to break the bank. My brother once hosted a cupcake tasting for which he purchased cupcakes from Manhattan’s top competing bakeries, cut them into quarters, and had guests vote on their favorite. Beer and wine were kept cold over ice that filled the bathtub. Guests snuck out to the rooftop for cigarettes, listened to music and swayed about in their summertime cocktail dresses. It was a truly divine evening, one I’ll never forget. And the party cost next to nothing. You can do this just as well by baking them yourself, and having some guests bring baked goods, too.

Top Tip: Invite a couple friends to crash at your place, and let them help you clean up in the morning.

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you can find the recipe for this super-yummy lavender lemonade at http://www.sophistimom.com

Do a “spa day” with your girls. You might not have the cash for a full-on day of nails, massage, facial and so on, but you can still make a spa day happen. Gather up your best girls, a bottle of polish and a flatiron. Take turns doing each other’s nails and hair outside in your backyard or at a local park. Snap lots of pics and Instagram like crazy. You’ll get some sun in lieu of a spray tan, and this Long Island girl never shied away from that!

Top Tip: Make a refreshing and delicious beverage for your girls like lavender lemonade.

popcornEat popcorn for dinner with your leading man. Dinner and a movie can run you a good $100 these days. If you just need to get out of the house, and don’t want to spend a fortune, plan a movie date night with your guy and skip the dinner portion of the program. Popcorn and soda are loaded with cals, so if you swap it for dinner, you’re saving money and your girlish figure. Josh and I are doing this on Friday night, and we can’t wait!

Top Tip: Dress up all fancy like you’re going for a night at the opera. Or just throw on a pair of heels with your jeans. Your guy will love it, and you’ll feel like a million bucks.

So these are just a few of my favorite things to plan when I need an escape from reality. What are yours?

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Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

I can’t lie, I’ve always loved diamonds. Long before I met Josh, I used to tear out Tiffany ads, making an engagement ring wish-list scrapbook. I have a few vintage diamond pieces from both grandmothers, and I’ve always felt just a little more special when I wear them. My mom wears her fingers (and sometimes ears and neck) stacked with sparklers, and whether she’s headed to the mall or a ball, they always work.

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there’s my beautiful diamond, a 2-ct. round brilliant in a four-prong, timeless platinum setting.

Last year, when I briefly worked at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue, my absolute favorite two hours spent on the job were during the store tour we were given as part of orientation. I had to keep running to catch up with the group, because (especially on floors one and two), the chance to stop and stare at the bling was just so amazing. I couldn’t stop.

Of course, just after the tour I returned to work and was sent home for being dressed inappropriately, which sort of soured the moment. But that’s nothing new for an envelope-pushing girl who’s always felt confined when faced with a strict dress code. I digress.

Tiffany & Co. Celebrates Its Blue Book Ball At Rockefeller Center In New York City

The company’s annual Blue Book event features their best of show-stopping jewels. I’m personally most impressed by the diamonds, natch. This year’s top celebs to attend were Gwyneth and SJP. I came across these photos from the blue carpet; do you not love how Sarah Jessica Parker pairs two over-the-top necklaces together, for a Carrie-esque, eclectic re-imagining of the designs?

Tiffany & Co. Celebrates Its Blue Book Ball At Rockefeller Center In New York CityBreathtaking. I love this look but must admit, I’m perfectly happy with my own amazing diamond. Every time I look at it I think, “It’s true! Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” And hey, it doesn’t hurt that the heart of the guy who gave it to me is much more valuable than the world’s most impressive stones.

Life Changes, Big and Small

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if we keep this up, our house is going to look like THIS when we have children….

Sometimes, you look around and realize everything is changing. This is a good thing, a terrifying thing, and one of those things about growing up that you just can’t change. I am getting married in five months and I have been waiting for this time to come since I was a little girl. Yet, with it comes complicated things like moving across the country for your fiance’s work, learning how to put someone else’s needs before your own, adopting a second animal when you already felt guilty about not spending enough time with the first… and, of course, figuring out how to clean for two.

Josh has often accused me of being a “fashion hoarder.” And to that end, I must admit to my horror after we fled Brooklyn with him telling me to bring “just the essentials!”, when I discovered a large box of vintage cell phones had snuck its way into his packing list. What?!

Josh and I both have major OCD. But the funny thing about compulsive cleaning and organization is that when you are so busy that you can’t handle it the way you want to, many are unable to do anything at all. Thus, you find yourself coming home from a pleasant Tuesday at work and looking around your apartment in horror.

How did this happen?

There are dirty clothes on the floor in most of our rooms, clean ones folded and stacked from here to the ceiling in the living room. There is a constant stream of dishes going in and out of the dishwasher and yet always a stray glass by the computer, fork under the coffee table, and so on.

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Between focusing on my career, nurturing my relationship with my wonderful husband-to-be, making new friends in a new city, and of course holding on dearly to those from home, things have gotten a bit hectic. But today is the day to turn a (minor) life problem into a (major) life change.

Am I ever going to be the perfect housewife who leaves not a single surface undusted and whose family comes home to individually personalized cubby holes with their monograms at the top and a color-coded system below? Um, no. But maybe one day I’ll be able to afford to hire someone to come in and do that for me. (Hey, a girl can dream.)

When I was a little girl, and then a teenager, and then a college student, and then a starving editorial assistant living in Manhattan… I would have these major revelations about my personal messiness and go on massive cleaning binges. At the end, there would be bags of items to give away, and everything left was lined up in rainbow order, labeled and put away. My mom or dad would always say, “This looks great! Now, are you going to keep it this way???”

This past Sunday I chatted with my dad and offhandedly remarked that I planned to set aside some time to truly organize this walk-in closet, get Joshy’s man cave spic and span, and step up my kitchen game so that one half of the counter was no longer cluttered with paperwork we’ve accumulated since August. His response?

“That sounds great! Now, are you going to keep it that way???”

Let’s see!

PS – I will post before and afters; stay tuned.

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a lofty, yet wonderful, goal.

Finding Meaning in Heartache

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I usually blog about silly things. Pretty things, girly things and sparkly things. Today is the third in a string of sad days and I am not going to lie, nobody can sparkle all the time.

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Josh and I headed down to South by Southwest in Austin on Saturday with a couple of friends we adore. We were geared up for a great weekend–hippie-esque clothes packed, sunscreen slathered on in honor of the 85+ degree weather, and a full tank of gas in the Benz. Not a care in the world.

I received a text message at around 11 am that broke my spirit. I’d been expecting it for some time, but when it came it was like a punch in the gut. My sweet dog that we got when I was 13 years old, a delicious and wonderful chocolate lab who taught me patience, resilience, and calm, had died peacefully at home with her paw in my mom’s hand.

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Losing a loved one is sorrow, and whether this person is an actual person-person or an animal-person, the pain cuts deep. My Hannah was a true angel, a dog who licked my tears after my first truly bad fight with a best friend. Who lay beside me while I wept over being stood up for my senior prom, and later when my college boyfriend broke my heart, when I was laid off from a job I loved, and many other times before and after that.

She was a dog whose tail wagged so vehemently that one wondered if it would just go and wag right off. She had golden eyes that were so soulful, looking into them was like reading a really good book. She was a friend to my baby brother when he faced some incredibly dark times, and she was a companion to my mom through many difficult nights.

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Hannah was the life of our neighborhood, a beloved creature who always received huge smiles everywhere she went. She was known for stealing bites of ice cream, scraps of meat and even licks of a margarita. One Christmas, she ate an entire bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans and disappeared for two harrowing hours. We later found her, hoarse and tired, on a neighbor’s lawn.

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My Hannah taught me to slow down. We used to call her Ferdinand because her walks were never fast or exciting, but slow and delightful ramblings meant for sniffing flowers and watching bugs, people and cars. She taught me more than I know how to express, and it’s hard to believe she was on this earth shy of fifteen years.

I remember clearly the day we got her, all of her brown foldy puppy fur wrinkled up in Noah’s arms as we left the puppy store. I remember the mornings Jacob bemoaned having been up three times to clean out her pee-soaked crate. I remember the very few-but always glorious-licks she’d offer when you really, truly needed one.

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I remember my Hannah now and I will remember her always. She was not just my dog, she was my sister, baby and friend. She was a chair, a pillow, and a safe. I don’t know where dogs go when they leave us, but I know this. Hannah took a piece of me wherever she went.

hannah and charleston cruising

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Had the most delicious four days in Vermont with Joshy. From a glorious Middlebury campus visit to watching a football game in a dive bar, then stumbling home drunk in the snow, it’s amazing how some things change, and others stay the same. Photos and stories and musings to come, but for now–a word. Happy.

Photo borrowed from indiekidsmakemecry.blogspot.com

PS. Check out my recent piece on ski bunny beauty here. What do you think?

A White Manhattan

Today is Wednesday and the glorious cushion of white that swirled and shimmered and covered this beautiful city has mostly turned to brown slush and black ice. But Monday was a lovely snow day for those of us lucky enough to be off from work and not relying on any mode of transportation to get from here to there, aside from one’s own feet.



Josh and I walked from his place on the east side across to do some shopping (window and otherwise) on Madison and Fifth, then continued through the park and ended up at the shopping center at Columbus Circle. It was his birthday and we joked that the whole city was halted in his honor. We warmed up in the afternoon at the Brooklyn Diner with skim lattes and split pea soup. Yum!


Check out these shots from our Winter Wonderland adventure.
Photo credit: Joshua Gerson 😉

Snow fall on 12.26. as seen from Josh’s window
Swirls of snow
Abandoned cabs were everywhere!
44th Street
A bench in Central Park
We found this cute guy in the park
Maniac running in shorts!
Peace
Columbus Circle in a blanket of white

My Boyfriend is Better Than Santa

I have to admit I am a very lucky girl. When it comes to clothes, I have pretty much every staple a NYC gal could want–little black dresses from Marc Jacobs, Catherine Malandrino, and Les Copains, a gray knee-length Prada skirt, a Louis bag, duds and accessories from Chloe, DVF, and Dior… the list goes on and on.

But Josh felt that something was missing. My stint at a prominent fashion magazine allowed me access to some of the greatest sample sales around, and thus my shoe collection is hardly lacking. I have Carrie’s favorite Manolos–the silver peep-toe slingbacks with the rhinestone oval at the front. I own Dolce & Gabbana maryjanes in a pale shade of olive with a simple stiletto and ivory-hued piping. I was also lucky enough to add to my collection last spring’s montrous Dior sandals whose heels are comprised of little Buddha-esque statues. And yet, my friends, this picture-perfect collection was missing the quintessential shoe. The red sole. The Christian Louboutin.

I won’t share the words of the card with you because they were too sweet and I want to keep them just for me. But the gist was that, in order to be inducted into the status of a true New York fashionista, Josh felt I was missing one special thing. And damned if he was going to get me the “entry level” black pump. My boy knows me well, as you can see. He went beyond. They are the most beautiful shoes these feet have ever stepped into. They are nude silk with a black lace overlay. Somewhere in heaven, my grandma, “Gaga,” whose own collection rivaled that of the movie stars of her day, is doing a little dance. I’m dancing right along with her. I am in shoe heaven this Christmas. Thanks to my man.

Dancing around the living room in the best Chrismy present ever

Welcome to Sparkles & Fun

Hi friends!

I address you as such because it’s pretty clear that the only people who will read this for a while are my already established friends-and-family base. Nothing wrong with that. I love you all and welcome you to my newest endeavor…

What is “Sparkles & Fun”?…

It started several years ago, to be honest. I like to pretend sometimes that we’re all still 19-year-old college girls bopping around in my navy blue VW Bug convertible through the mountains of Vermont, country music blazing through weary speakers and a case of cheap white wine clinking around in the back seat. But the truth is, that was (well) over five years ago. Some things have changed–big things have changed. But the essence is still there, and that is what I want to write about.

My best college friend–we will call her Pookie–is so much more than my friend. She’s the mirror of my soul, the voice I always want on the other end of the line, and most recently added to her list of connections and titles, she is now my sister to boot. Luckily my older brother fell in love with her a couple years back and on May 1st of this year, she officially joined the family. But I digress…

Pookie and I started out as a couple of blondes on a cheerleading team (she was a natural at both–my hair needed chemicals and my body needed major training), with big open hearts and huge dreams. Anytime we had a fight, a negative moment, tears over a boy, a disappointment in any element of our sweet lives, one or both of us would shake it off suddenly and declare, “Sparkles and fun!” It seemed–seems still, really–that glittery things and fabulous times were always at the core of who were, who we still are. It seems that no matter how difficult or discouraging a moment can be, you can always find a way to bring it back to the positive. Nothing matters as much as finding the joy in life. It sounds corny, but try it. I promise you will find, we were right.

I start this blog not as an homage to my incredible friendship with Pookie (though I know you’ll all hear plenty about that!) but as an affirmation that though I am older now and presumably wiser, and though the proverbial “plate” is much fuller in many ways than it was back when Sparkles & Fun, the concept, was formed, I am still a girl at heart. A girl in New York City, filled to the brim with hopes and fears and excitement and disappointments. A girl desperate to try new things and get ideas out and hear feedback from her peers. A girl overflowing with glitter and love for the many wonderful people who make it all matter, and the beautiful city that now plays host to my dreams.

I hope you’ll stay with me and help me to navigate this new and somewhat daunting path. I am so excited to start Sparkles & Fun, and only hope that Pookie will forgive me for borrowing the term from us, for now. I hope she knows she can always take it back and do her very own things with it.

Welcome to my blog!

“It’s simple. I believe in pink. I believe in wearing lipstick. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe in miracles.”
–Audrey Hepburn–