20141016

CAPSULE AW 14 / THE ROUND UP


The first thing I've learned about myself from this capsule exercise is that forty is a difficult number for me to land on. I could do twenty really easily, I could probably even do ten! Otherwise . . .  I need fifty. There doesn't seem to be an easy in-between. Which makes no sense because I really only ever wear the same three things over and over and over: Skinny jeans, boots, and a gray sweatshirt. Done. Three, twenty, fifty, ten . . . these numbers aren't adding up. My problem isn't in simplifying a look, it's in simplifying my options. I like this red plaid shirt, but I also like this red plaid shirt! And which one will I want to wear the most? And what would that preference that even say about a person? And then I get into all these existential thoughts about things, and suddenly fifteen minutes have passed and I still haven't picked a plaid shirt, but have maybe realized I might need an extra plaid shirt all together, of a different color. Don't even get me started on the boots. I love these black boots, but I also love these black boots, and I don't need both but they're just sooo different though! This is the exact opposite of the point of this exercise, I am aware.

I'm also noticing how I approach getting dressed and I'm fascinated by it. Navel gazing at its finest! (I am my most fascinating subject, like always. ;) I tend to think of my wardrobe like a meal, and each piece is an ingredient. My ideal fall wardrobe recipe goes something like this:

Gray sweatshirt
Skinny jeans
Slouchy light wash jeans
Chambray
Olive parka 
Red flannel
Stripes, stripes, stripes
White + gray tees as the structural basis
A fancy top
A baseball tee
A dress
Boots
Chucks
Oxfords/Loafers
Birks
Something with a heel
Something with a Peter Pan collar
Enormous oversized sweater
Clogs
Black midi skirt

Twenty! Done!

Except I definitely need two striped shirts, and if I have space for more than one gray shirt, I need at least three gray shirts . . . plus there's the boot situation, because . . . and make that three striped shirts . . . and I might want more than one skinny jean, obviously, so . . . Fifty! See? No sweat. ;)


Here's my dirty secret. I've been fussing with my capsule, still, a few weeks after I should have had it locked down. I think I've been using it as a crutch when things get stressful. I can't change this certain situation in my life? Well. Lucky for me I can control the number of striped tops in my capsule, so here, let's take something out and swap it for something else so that I can feel like I have some control around here. (I'm a fairly predictable Natalie, so far as Natalies go.) But I'm ripping off the bandaid here! We're sticking with what's up there, right this minute! Minus what is in the laundry of course, this is real life here people, and it does come to forty! Right on the nose! Whew.



Here it is!
TOPS /
1. White linen baseball tee
2. Blush linen long sleeved tee
3. Gray linen long sleeved tee
4. Silk shirt (old)
5. Olive shirt
6. Linen striped tee
7. St. James striped tee
8. Boxy striped tee
9. Chambray (old)
10. Cherry red flannel (old)
11. Muted red flannel

SWEATERS/
12. Short sleeved sweatshirt
13. Gray sweatshirt
14. Red sweatshirt
15. Gray Peter Pan collar (old)
16. Black Peter Pan collar (old)
17. Black Everlane sweater (old)
18. Accompany alpaca wool sweater
19. Ganni oversized sweater
20. Cardigan NY white sweatshirt (old)

BOTTOMS/
21. Dark wash skinnies (old)
22. Medium wash distressed skinnies (old)
23. Light wash distressed skinnies (old)
24. Light wash relaxed jeans (old)
25. Black distressed skinnies 
26. Black coated leggings
27. Black midi skirt
28. Dress (old)

SHOES /
39. Black booties w/heel (old)
30. Tan booties w/heel (old)
31. Clogs (old)
32. Chucks (old)
33. Birks (old)
34. Oxfords (old)
35. Loafers (old)
36. Moto boots (old)
37. Peep toe booties
38. Clog boots (old)
39. Flat ankle booties (old)
40. Saddle shoes

(Click the images below to find the source.)


* You may note there aren't exactly 40 items above. I've included links to a few items that don't count toward my capsule (like coats and bags), since I found the links while looking for the others and it might come in handy. Also because many of my items that do count toward my capsule are old, and while I couldn't find the exact item, I did find an item or two or three that are similar-ish. A few I couldn't find at all. We'll live with it, I'm sure. :) (I don't feel bad that I am counting two pairs of Birks as one in my fall capsule. Because this is a good mental exercise in letting go of perfectionism?) 

** Exclusions: I decided not to count the following, and of course everyone should adjust their own list of exclusions to suit their own lifestyles: Coats, hats, bags, or anything else you'd take off when you walk into a restaurant, that don't count. Shoes count yes, scarves count no. Jewelry counts no. Just because that got complicated fast. Loungewear and pajamas don't count either, even if it's a lounge-y item I might wear outside as actual outside clothes to pick Huck up from school or after my yoga class when I hit the grocery store or stop at a wifi cafe to answer emails, just because that is pretty rare for me. I think if it were a more common occurrence I'd have to count it, my conscience wouldn't allow me not to. I'm also giving myself unlimited slouchy white tee-shirts and socks and undies because I'm the boss and I can do things like that if I want to. Weather or work out specific footwear, like rain boots or snow boots, sneakers, shower flip flops... (hah), those don't count either.

*** Lastly, it was suggested to me that I put together a weekly round up of my capsule outfits and I think that is rather brilliant. And so I will do it. Weekly or so. Ish.

I suspect everyone who is doing a capsule is going to be doing it for very different purposes, or with different "end goals" in mind. For me, the point in this exercise isn't learning to make do with a simpler look--my look is already very simple and very predictable. It is maybe a little bit curiosity driving it: Could I live with a drastically simpler look? (Yes, easily, turns out.) But I definitely need to learn how to live with JUST ONE of something, just one, and letting that one be enough. And not needing back ups. Or the same thing only slightly differently. Obviously I have made zero progress on this front, but I'm more aware of it now and it seems doubly ridiculous to me, so maybe personal growth and a cease to senseless purchases is on the radar! (Though, on the other hand . . . life is short? Who really cares? World peace and things?) It's also just getting dressed and I promise you I'm not taking it that seriously. Well. More or less. ;)

So! How are your capsules coming? What are you figuring out about yourself through this silliness? How do you approach your wardrobe? What inspires you when you're getting dressed??? Do you like to start with your shoes first like I do?  :)

20141013

THE GREAT COOKIE QUEST / GLASER'S, NUSSBAUM + WU


It just so happened that I had a meeting on the Upper East Side the other day. 

The Upper East Side is a super weird part of town, I've always said it. I'll say it again: Super weird. I can't explain it. 

After my meeting ended and it was the middle of the day and I had a few hours to kill before Huck needed to be picked up from school, I texted the Branderino. Naturally. And he was all, I haven't had lunch today! Roberta's? (One of those Broadway Bites / Madison Square Eats fairs going on--around 40th, this time--and the more they have these all over the city the less special they become, everybody does realize that, right?) Anyway, I was all, Duh, because special or not you don't turn down a Roberta's ever, but I'm coming from 52nd and Forever and Ever East and so it'll be a little while. And B was like, Cool, text me when you're here. And so that was that.

I got a really good Thought Walk in on the way over. Do you have those ever? Those are my favorite, and they cannot be forced. It's a wonderful combination of all the time in the world, somewhere you don't know too terribly well, shoes that don't pinch, and semi-decent weather (though this isn't a requirement, just a bonus). And then the thoughts just come and come and come, and you play catch and release with them, sometimes mulling one over for a minute or two, but mostly just letting them roll on in and roll on out, undisturbed. You're just the thought-haver in this situation, not the thought-maker. It's kind of lovely. I did a lot of Blog Thinking on this Thought Walk and I will tell you something about blogging, is it is best when it's un-thought of. If that makes any sense.

Roberta's was delicious, as always, really this post is writing itself. Oh, here is a picture of me holding a pizza: 


Tadum! I think I could make an album of purely Roberta's-eaten-from-a-Roberta's-truck photos. There'd be at least... four. Five!

So then Brandon was like, Hey thanks that was fun, now what are you up to? And I thoughtfully pondered the skies and considered the Earth's axis and whatnot and decided, You know, I think I'm up to a black + white cookie right now! Thank you Blog Thoughts, for reminding me that it's been a while since I did one.

Brandon may have suggested I go home and clean the house at this part of the conversation but I don't want to dwell on it, because it involved eyebrows, scrunching. 

From Times Square you can hop on the 1 and get off at 110th and procure for yourself a black + white at Nussbaum + Wu, which just so happens to be on my list of b+w places to try for this here questie thing, and then you can grab a half a dozen bagels at Absolute, too, and then you and your family will eat bagels for lunch and dinner, which is a kind of heaven in and unto itself.

This really is a post about black + white cookies, in case you were concerned about it. I'm getting there.

(Have you  been watching Vampire Diaries lately? I have a feeling this season might not be as horrible as the last!)


Now, I'm about to get far more serious about this than is really necessary for anything in life ever, but if you can't take a cookie quest seriously, then what can you take seriously?

The Nussbaum black + white is a traditional deli black + white, except that unlike most traditional deli black + whites, this one actually tasted good. Also it didn't come wrapped in plastic wrap. Also the whole thing is fondant, none of it is ganache. 


Which is probably why it seemed so stale. Sadly.


It was still good, though! One thumb up! I was both underwhelmed and relieved. Requisite Cookie Quest Selfie, thank you for your time. Nothing from Bloomingdale's is in the Bloomingdale's bag, is the bad news.

Let's break it down:

THE BLACK / 4 / The chocolate had some pretty great flavor! It was dry, though, hard as a rock. I really like my chocolate on the ganache-y side here, though I acknowledge this might be a personal preference thing. In any case, the black was just as dry as the white, which brings me to:
THE WHITE / 3 / White concrete. Sadly. It crackled and crumbled and I was like, sad face. It did taste good though.
THE COOKIE / 4 / The cookie had just the right thing going on, minus one point because it could have been less dry. Sigh. I know, right?
THE TOTAL / 11 

I brought the rest of it home for the boys to try, and later that night Brandon declared it "really good!" It was really good. It just didn't knock my socks off like William Greenberg's, and it wasn't weird enough to stand out in my mind like Glaser's (wait for it, or, you know, scroll a bit), and so overall I declared it an Average. I think if I had tried a bagel there and the bagel blew my mind apart, I would recommend the experience wholeheartedly, but as it was, I didn't. So. But actually now that I think about it, Nussbaum is right across the street from the Seinfeld diner, and its proximity to Absolute is pretty great, too, so if you're going to be in town, you know, it's worth a trek up there.

***

Speaking of the East Side, and so now I want to talk about Glaser's.

You should know that Glaser's bakery smells amazing inside. It is tiny. You are getting baked goods here or you are getting nothing. Also is they are cash only. I took photos inside but they all came out depressing looking. What I want to know is, are their b+whites always square? I pulled this guy out of the bag and had myself a very confused moment. 


Wait a minute. Cue cookie selfie reflecting curiosity and slight consternation.


Huck was there for this one. He and I both agreed, this was unlike any black + white we'd ever had. We weren't sure what to make of it at first. Glaser's does all frosting. No ganache, no fondant. The black side tasted like the chocolate frosting you'd get at the grocery store--which is to say amazing, but not terribly special. The white side was the winner here, ding ding ding! I could have eaten the white frosting for dinner. Really perfect vanilla flavor. But smooshy. I only wanted the white, which works out because Huck only ever wants the black. Team work!


So here we go:

THE BLACK / 2 / Just for non-specialness. Another thing I want to point out about an all-frosting/no-ganache b+w is that it's very delicate and not easily carried all over the city in your tote bag for optimum all-day snacking, which is a bummer.
THE WHITE / 5 / Five and a half!!! Five and three quarters! Even though, messy. 
THE COOKIE / 2 / The cookie itself was really, really great, but it was essentially a fluffy sugar cookie. No doming, no zinging, no spongeing. Lest we forget, IT WAS SQUARE, I can't get over that. It was kind of like a rather flat slice of birthday cake. Tasty, really good, it's just not what you necessarily want in a New York black + white experience, necessarily. Maybe?
THE TOTAL / 9 /

2897 Broadway
On the west corner of 113th 

1670 1st Avenue
Between 87th + 88th

Till next time!
Find all of the cookie quests HERE. In case you're bored. ;)

20141010

AROUND HERE


Well, so here is what all we've been up to these days.

Firstly. Bagels. I think one of the more important tasks among the new-to-a-neighborhood is the scoping out the of bagels situation. Eventually the goal is to settle on an "our bagel place" type of deal where the dudes know our order and don't have to ask every time if we want it toasted (we don't). I find that a heavy hand with the cream cheese is not necessary in an ideal bagel place relationship, although I also know that everyone feels differently on the matter, as is their right. I had the bagel scene on lockdown on the Upper West Side (Absolute, as well as the guy in front of ABC studios before noon on weekdays), and it is a little bit daunting to start from scratch like this. (I don't anticipate anyplace will be better than Absolute.  Such is life.) Any past or present Slope-types care to weigh in? Best bagel around here?


Not a bagel, but a taco. Sort of. I've been thinking about this goa taco for approximately nine hundred years since we got it at the mini flea on 7th a few weekends ago. Holy Hannah.


So there's a bowling alley down on 5th Avenue, right next to the Broncos Toncos. We went once with some friends (who just had their first baby!!! eeeep!) and Huck has been dying to go back ever since. It's on our short list of "save it for a rainy day" activities (along with, thank you, Chuck E. Cheese, Huck is obsessed). I promise he loved it way more than it looks like he loved it in these photos, hah.


Wait guys--Feet Shot.


This is probably what he loved best about bowling. Holy crap he's such a boy these days.


I keep on attempting to cook more at home and wouldn't ya know I keep on being unsuccessful. I blame this on bagels. Every now and then I achieve some moderate success. These carrots, for example. A+.


No reason at all except that it's called Tiny's Giant and I just think that's rather clever.


Oh! I made it to Russ & Daughters finally, speaking of bagels.

I don't actually know what a bialy is. Even though the other day on my birthday when we were in the lower east side and I was getting a creme brulee doughnut from the Doughnut Plant, I overheard a tour guide telling his tour group all about the famous bialy place next door. I was in too much of a rush for a creme brulee doughnut to actually listen, because you gotta get there fast before they sell out, and now I have bialy regrets. I mean, I suppose there's always Wikipedia. 


Feet Shot #2


Well, the sad tale of Blackie and Tee, Huck's goldfish babies. We've already lost Tee to the cruelties of mortality. Sigh. We planned to get him a beta, knowing that this would happen with a goldfish, but Huck was just really into the idea of a goldfish, and since the point is supposed to be to teach Huck responsibility and let him feel ownership for something, we decided to go for it. I'm sure we'll do the beta thing once Blackie finally eats it, too. Or else maybe Huck will have gotten "pet steward" out of his system by then? Huck wasn't the slightest bit upset when he found Tee floating belly-up last night, though he did express concern later on about "peeping on Tee" after we'd flushed him for a lovely burial at sea.  

I felt really bad about it, though. Poor Tee. He looked really happy until right up to the end.

Will you look at this though.


Thank you, Huck.


Just a few pretty things around our apartment that have been making me smile. You know. Nesty garbage. :)


I went all the way out to Greenpoint the other day to meet some friends at Bakeri for lunch. This place is adorable. And those jumpsuits! 


Hmmm. Not smart.

(We had pillows, cushions, and two spotters just out of frame. Promise.)

(I was really more concerned for our pipes!)


Feet Shot #3! Now that Huck is a grown gentleman, I've been going well out of my way to not match him anymore, ever. Mom sacrifices, you know. But match-y metallic silver/gold shoes, this is okay, if you ask me. It's hard because jeans and a tee is all either of us wears, so it's really easy to walk out in full twinsies without even meaning to. Anyway. He's four in three weeks (wow!) and all good things must come to an end. Another thing worth noting about this photo is it was so windy that day that it nearly blew our faces off, and Huck kept calling it "win-wind." Wind so hard it was winning? I like the way his brain works. 


I've just really been enjoying Brooklyn lately in all this buttery yellow autumn sunlight. 


Huck's been getting a sticker subscription in the mail the past little bit from Pipsticks. Half go in my bag for emergency boredom situations, the other half I give to Huck to do with as he pleases, which usually involves putting all of them on his face, all at once. A holdover from our days at the UWS Trader Joe's when he was a baby and I'd put all of the stickers we got at check out on my face all at once to keep him entertained while I paid. It's kind of heartbreakingly sweet, the way silly things like that still hang on. (If you'd like, Hey Natalie Jean readers can get one month free when you sign up for a 6 or 12 month subscription. Just use the code NAT10 at checkout.)


Okay. Final Fall Feet Shot The Last to take us out. Whew! 

The end.

20141008

RAINY DAYS IN BK


It's been a beauuuuutiful early fall here in Brooklyn. Cozy and insular and thoughtful. We've had precisely zero thunder storms since August though, which is unacceptable, and even though the skies seem to have been threatening rain for weeks on end they've stayed shut tight, and my rain boots have started to give me dirty looks, and I started to notice the other day how badly I needed some nasty weather to hide out from. Toes in the socks under the blankets with a book that isn't mine kind of hiding out. Do you know how that is? I suppose I feel I need permission in order to hole in for a while and just live in the moment, hang out with my boys, and not try to multitask all the things and answer all the emails while also making all the oatmeal . . . you know. It's been a busy season for us all, and it's been hard to really relax when the quiet times do come, because there's always something I could be doing, and once you're in the habit of never sitting still I suppose it's especially hard to all-the-way stop. My head feels a little bit scattered. I put my keys in the fridge the other day and then couldn't find them for hours

It rained here on Saturday afternoon. A good all-day rain and thank you, thank you, it really hit the spot. I didn't leave the house at all. (I mean, until I ran to the Rite Aid for some fake eyelashes.) We watched some conference till we couldn't watch any more conference, we watched some Harry Potter, we spent some time with some coloring books, all the while I puttered around the house tidying up socks and toys, more socks, some string cheese wrappers . . . feeling guilty for not sitting still and feeling guilty that there must be something I could be doing . . .  eating chocolate chip cookies . . . Yo, it turns out that the recipe for chocolate chip cookies I posted a few years back is still the best chocolate chip cookie recipe to ever exist. Not even exaggerating here. Also, seasonally appropriate cookie links coming at you right now thank-you-very-much: these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are the only pumpkin flavored things anybody needs to be eating right now. (Although I did just buy pumpkin-flavored cereal at the Trader Joe's the other day, so don't listen to a word I . . . uh . . . type.) 

I want to be able to clear my head all the way until the only sound I hear is the thud of my own heartbeat in my ears. It's been a couple months now but we still do that thing where we stop mid-stride in front of these windows and go, "THESE WINDOWS," and those stop-in-your-tracks moments when the rest of your thoughts flitter away and you're just in one place doing one thing feel so, so refreshing. I'm still in the getting-to-know-you phase with this apartment, still smitten with all the different ways the different sunlights can do all these different things with all our different corners, still discovering other funny things, like the other day when I discovered the corner where the centipede family lives and flipped my ish so hard . . . But it's been such a huge pleasure to be here. Brooklyn in the summer was ace. Brooklyn in the fall is shaping up reaaaaal nice. I really, really can't wait to see these windows in the snow. Eventually I will find myself a good window cleaner. And a decent exterminator.  I'm still working on slowing the eff down. I suspect I'm going to need ten more rainy afternoons like Saturday before I get the hang of it. 


Oh, Barrold. Barry and I have a good thing going. Believe me when I tell you, the man understands some things. Mostly I like to look at Barry and remember that however important something might feel to me right now, someday I'll be dead. Maybe I'll end up stuffed and mounted on somebody else's wall. And then what? It's good perspective. Barrold is a rather understanding chap. He still looks a lot like Barack Obama to me. 


Kiss those cookies right on the mouth. Kissies!