Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Bad Idea Lindley"

Every so often a person enters into our home and John likes to call her "Bad Idea Lindley". I personally think a better name might be "Spontaneous Adventuresome Lindley" - but Tomato/Tom-ah-to I suppose… For now we will just go with John's moniker. "Bad Idea Lindley" might or might not be responsible for things such as:

1) Convincing John to hold Emma in one arm while using the other to hold onto a large rope swing that projected them 15 feet into the air and landed them in the lake up in VT. It ended well but as John later pointed out - it might have been a slightly unnecessary risk. "Bad Idea Lindley" was sure the fun/exhilaration outweighed the risk...

2) "Bad Idea Lindley" is also known for eating food from the fridge that may or may not be a little bit rotten and feeding said food to her husband and children. 4 week old bacon. Not her best idea. She is a thrifty lady, you've got to give her that. 

3) There was also that time she got her entire family lost in the woods when she was sure she knew where she was going. "I'm a local." she said, as they wandered through the Greenwich Montgomery Pinetum trails with Emma in a stroller and Sophie in a baby carrier. The story ended with John holding the very heavy stroller in his arms as they waded through swampy waters to get back to the trail. Thankfully they found their way out of the woods just in time to get themselves home for kickoff. Maybe hiking on Superbowl Sunday wasn't her best choice...

4) And "Bad Idea Lindley" can also be accused of thinking she can do altogether too many things at one time. She's a real pro with a to-do list. Checking multiple things off a list makes her giddy.  

So here is what went down… I'll warn you now that this is not a happy ending. "Bad Idea Lindley" was in charge earlier this week when she decided to check a few things off the "list" first thing in the morning. She dropped Em at school at 8am, parked in front of Sophie's school at 8:15am, and had Sophie strapped in the stroller and ready to roll by 8:20am. En route to grabbing a much needed cup of coffee she decided to stop at the cash machine at the top of Greenwich Avenue. She really gave herself a pat-on-the-back as she realized that taking cash out on Tuesday meant she could avoid the drive-thru bank machine on Thursday. She was also pretty fired up to pay the nanny on time for a change. (She's frequently late on the payment front…) 

They hit the cash machine, grabbed coffee, and strolled back up to Lafayette Place to drop Sophie at school. "Bad Idea Lindley" really did have the best intentions when she decided to leave the stroller parked beside the car as she walked Sophie in - fully planning to dump it in the trunk as soon as Soph was safely in her classroom. Maybe she should have taken the 2 minutes to put the stroller in the car and lock it - but she was in the zone. The "check things off the list" zone. Sophie dropped off? Almost a check.

And that's when her frazzled mind forgot that her wallet (with the cash) was under the stroller. She headed into the school, chit chatting with other moms and kids along the way. She was so in the zone… 15 minutes later she walked back to the stroller and literally slapped both hands to her cheeks (á la Kevin in "Home Alone") as she realized the bone-head mistake she had made. She noticed right away that the wallet was now open as it lay in the netting under the stroller. She picked it up while saying out loud the "Oh God" prayer. (You know the one we're talking about.) And then as she opened the wallet she realized the cash was gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.  

She was crushed. She felt stupid. She felt violated. She felt completely shocked that in the ten minutes she was gone someone had boldly crouched down, taken her wallet out, and stolen her cash. All within 10 feet of other moms who stood outside the school talking. All within 200 yards of the entrance to the nursery school and the CHURCH across the street. This thief was brazen. Thank God she didn't come out and catch the person doing this vial crime - because I think we all know "Bad Idea Lindley" would have tried to tackle the thief. 

So in conclusion - "Bad Idea Lindley" learned a lot this week about being careful. Being careful and slowing down enough to do one thing at a time. Put the stroller in the trunk. Lock the car. And then walk your child in. Today it was cash from her wallet but tomorrow it could be the car, sentimental objects from her home, or worse… We don't need to be scared but we do need to be safe. Lock your cars people. And your homes. It's just not worth to take stupid risks. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

London Calling

(image: KiLiKa)

As a girl who has always lived close to home - I envy those who "cross the pond" to explore lands unknown. I recently spent an afternoon catching up with my friend Cathy Dishner who writes the blog Modern Expat Family. She regaled me with stories of her trials and tribulations after transporting her family of 4 (two teenage daughters included) to London. I was completely smitten by her words - as I'm sure you will be too. She's funny, honest, and incredibly brave. If you find yourself in London any time soon be sure to check out Cathy's list of favorites for good ideas of what to do. She's practically a local - local expat that is.  

(image: Travis Ferland Photography)

Cathy Dishner's London Story

The best part of becoming an “expat” overall is the chance to get out of your routine, your comfort zone, your life as you know it. By definition, the experience is the opportunity to start fresh. As with any move, you suddenly have to navigate your way through everything ranging from the mundane task of finding a dry cleaner to the fundamental need of finding a friend.  There is inherent excitement in this discomfort because you truly need to live every day in the moment. You embrace carpe diem as a fundamental mantra rather than a hopeful ideal.

Becoming an expat in London is a very welcome change. Suddenly, I am referred to as “luv” in the most endearing and non-offensive way. The English truly mind their manners, and I appreciate that a proper politeness prevails and replaces brash American tendencies. There is no official language barrier, but nonetheless I find myself learning a whole new vocabulary so that I may be understood:  I cook on the hob, throw rubbish in the bin, drink orange juice with bits, wear my kit to the pitch, mind the gap, and push my cases on the trolley when I go on holiday. Best of all, Europe is at my doorstep, making foreign travel irresistibly accessible. With a short train ride, I can eat breakfast in London and lunch in Paris!  I agree with Dr. Suess, “Oh the places you will go!”.

At the start of my third year abroad, I have assembled a list of my favorite things to do in London.  Some are more typical than others, but none include the tourist traps of riding the London Eye, rubbernecking in Parliament Square, or hauling shopping bags down Regent Street. If you have the good fortune to hop across the pond, here is what I suggest you do to pass the time and experience the best of what London has to offer.

My Top Ten Things to Do in London: 

1) There is no better place to eat and shop than Borough Market. Located near the base of London Bridge, Borough Market is a food lovers’ paradise. Stock up on imported olive oils, French cheeses, German pastries, and Italian black licorice. Feast on assorted Indian curries or Mediterranean mezze. Treat yourself to Turkish delight, candied nuts, specialty chocolates, or homemade gelatos. Quickly quench your thirst with fresh squeezed juices, sample imported wines and local ales, savor a rich cup of cappuccino at the famous Monmouth coffee shop where the line always weaves outside the door. Purchase crisp organic produce, smell fragrant warm breads, find English specialties like pork pies and scotch eggs, or try the more exotic ostrich and sable steaks. When your bags are bursting, take a seat in front of the nearby Southwick Cathedral and enjoy your bounty in a relaxing setting.

Veggies and Ginger at Borough Market

2) When culture calls, head over to the Royal Academy. Housed in an impressive historic building on Piccadilly, this manageable gallery is easy to survey within the hour. Stroll through the well-chosen exhibits and then cross the street to enjoy afternoon tea at the world famous Fortnum & Mason or lunch at the established London institution, the Wolseley restaurant.

Royal Academy

3) Stretch your legs and experience the beauty of London’s gorgeous parks. Choices are endless, but here are my favorite ways to enjoy a sunny afternoon. Hike to the top of Primrose Hill to take in views of the iconic London skyline, including the London Eye, the Gherkin, and the brand new Shard. Stroll through St. James Park and stand in the middle of the footbridge where you can simultaneously glance at the imposing Buckingham Palace and iconic London Eye on either side of you as swans swim along the winding river. Wander through the wild landscape of Hampstead Heath and meander along the well-worn paths to the famed Kenwood House for a cappuccino and a tour of its impressive art collection.

The View from Primrose Hill

St. James Park

Hampstead Heath
(image: Sew Graceful)

4) Tired of drinking beer and eating mushy peas? Take a walk on the wild side and head into Soho to Bodega Negra for a frosty margarita and spicy Mexican cuisine. Don’t let the street front entrance mislead you. Despite appearances to the contrary, this is not a Sex Shop …though the food and ambiance is racy and hot!

Tacos at La Bodega Negra
(image: Squibb Vicious)

5) No one does private clubs better than the British. Join the Etonion crowd at 5 Hertford Street in Mayfair. You’ll need to find a member to invite you to the cozy paneled bar where Michael can make you his famous “Screaming Viking”, a delicious grapefruit and tequila concoction. Then, descend the stairs to the exotic dining room at LouLou’s where tables are tucked into discreet banquets amid lush décor. After dinner, dance the night away under a spinning disco ball in the private nightclub.

Inside 5 Hertford Street
(image: Hello! Magazine)

6) Tempt yourself with treats for all the senses at the Burlington Arcade. Start with a colorful, chilled gourmet macaroon at Laduree. The pastel hues of these specialty cookies are showcased in a golden nook that provides a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Stroll further down past the treasure chest of estate and antique gems that line the storefronts. End at N. Peal and wrap yourself in the most luxurious fur-trimmed cashmere. If there is still money in your pockets, round the corner to Saville Row and glimpse at the custom fabrics and suits in the windows.

Burlington Arcade
(image: K West)

7) There are loads of outdoor markets for the shopper who enjoys the hunt for a bargain, the charm of vintage, or the lure of antiques. Each market has a unique personality, and here are some of my favorites. Camden Market, located in Chalk Farm, feels like NY’s East Village with its funky clothing and artsy jewelry, tattoo parlors and Indian cuisine, patchouli scent and pierced crowd. Old Spittalfields Market, in the up and coming East End, offers a potpourri of clothing, art, and jewelry stalls for all ages. Portobello Road, in Notting Hill, becomes a “happening” on the weekend when bands entertain, food stalls pop up, and all the shops open their doors offering everything from priceless antiques to cheap souvenirs.

Camden Market
(image: Sholehj)

Old Spittalfields Market
(image: Pink Julep)

Pins at Portobello Roads
(image: Prettily)

8)   London is known for its West End, but there are other outlets for great entertainment. Go catch a new movie release at any of the Everyman Theaters spread through the city. Here you can sink into a plush sofa, prop your feet on a foot stand, sip you chardonnay, and snack on little bites as your favorite movie plays across a big screen. It is like having surround sound in your own private living room.

9) When you have a few free hours, go online and search the daily offerings at Every day, London Walks provides interesting guided walking tours in different areas of the city: join the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour of the Swinging ‘60s, learn the secrets of Westminster Abbey, uncover Jack the Ripper’s haunts, trace the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes, discover the architecture in the famous Square Mile…the choices are endless. Best of all, no advance booking is necessary. Just turn up with £10 in your pocket. This could be the only bargain to be found in pricy London!

10) Dare to get lost. With google maps in our pockets, it is hard to aimlessly wander any more, but London is a great place to abandon planning and just follow a random windy cobbled lane. After an overdose of stimuli in Harrods, I did just that. I ambled away from the retail behemoth and found myself on the charming Walton Lane, populated with small cafés, decorative design wares, high-end fashion, and low-key boutiques. It is a place I randomly found and now purposely return.

(image: Cathy Dishner)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Golden Gourds

I rarely have time - but I must admit that I adore reading about DIY projects. The simplest of the projects I admire are the ones I attempt at home. I am also always drawn to the ones I can get my kids involved with. As previously noted here I adore child labor. 

While in Vermont last month we bought a bundle of uniquely shaped gourds and a few big pumpkins for the front porch. The gourds are beautiful in their natural state but I thought sprucing them up a bit would instantaneously turn them into "holiday" decorations. Let's be honest - decorating is not my forté. I had to really pat myself on the back after I Emma turned these traditional gourds into "golden beauties".

What you'll need:
-Miniature Pumpkins
-Paint Brushes
-Painter's Tape
-Acrylic Paint (I bought this at Michael's) 

1) Rinse and dry gourds/pumpkins
2) Cover stems with Painter's Tape
2) Paint body of gourd/pumpkin
3) Allow to dry for 30 minutes and remove tape from stems
4) Voila!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Secretly I wish my kids could wear small (somewhat stylish) collars that shock them ever so lightly (enough to make them stop but not enough to really hurt them) every time they whine. Is that bad?

Secretly I hope that one day John drops one of his gargantuan wooden shoe trees onto his big toe and that it hurts so much that he decides to throw them all out. Therefore I will never again hear one of them hit the wood floor in the bedroom closet when I am groggily lying in bed in the morning not wanting to wake up. Is that bad?

Secretly I really don't like working out. I do it because I want to be thin and still be able to eat whatever I want. I really and truly would always opt to watch a movie instead of going to the gym. I would. Is that bad?

Secretly I am highly annoyed by people who don't use their turn signals. I just don't get it. Is that bad? 

Secretly I am a complete table snob at restaurants. I inherited it from a family member but I'm not naming any names. Sitting next to a bathroom or kitchen door REALLY irks me. Is that bad? 

Secretly I am happier than I have ever been in my life and I still have this much to complain about. Is that bad?