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Close to the Heart

21 Jul

I don’t know if lockets are on trend (unlikely), but ever since I visited Keats House in Hampstead, London, I’ve been a bit obsessed with them. I only have two to my name—a white gold and diamond one my parents got me for my thirtieth birthday and a silver one with multicolored stones my late-grandmother bought me years ago. Unfortunately, I never appreciated that one until recently. But back to Keats. I get all misty-eyed every time I think of Fanny Brawne’s locket that was encased in glass as to protect it and the tiny tuft of Keats’ hair, bound by thread, resting inside it. I know preserving things in such beautifully sentimental ways was common in the nineteenth century, but I just found myself taken aback by the romance of it all. I wanted to steal a piece of my husband’s hair and promptly insert it into a locket, but I didn’t have one at the time (and I’d forgotten about my grandmother’s). Now that I have two, I still haven’t done it. I’m thinking of putting my little girl’s hair in my grandmother’s locket, as my daughter is her namesake, and my husband’s in the diamond locket. Although perhaps it isn’t wise to be carrying around DNA these days . . .

I was searching for more lockets and found these—all wonderful in their own way.

I’m not that big a fan of the Tiffany Notes design on the outside of this. The white gold is too shiny for my taste, and the inscription is simply too heavy on the branding. However, the blue inside is just exquisite.

I really love the antique look of marcasite. I usually don’t bother with such large colored stones, but this shade of blush is so charming.

reminiscent of vintage nature illustrations

And I’ve never even attended Ren Faire. (“Gold-tone”—fancy!)

And then there were diamonds . . .

I’m on the fence about the heart pattern, but still find it very lovely.

swoon!

Love, love, love the round shape.

That’s it for now. Nice to write something after my rather brief Internet hiatus (which was relaxing by the way—it’s amazing how much more calm I am without having the weight of everyone else’s lives on my shoulders). Also impressive that the spam sites kept visitors coming.

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In Preparation for 35

3 Jul

Something about turning 35 in the fall—and something about having a kid all my own (she’s also my husband’s, I suppose)—has compelled me to put a lot more thought into my well-being, which I’ve managed to neglect pretty much since I could think for myself. I’ve ingested disgusting amounts of fast food, copious amounts of sugar, excess caffeine, over-the-counter medicine, and slathered on toxic makeup since I was about 13 . . . the list of offenses is endless, really.

My dad, bless him, allowed me to repeatedly order and eat 20-piece boxes of Chicken McNuggets in my tween years—and I could inhale a box in about 10 minutes.

As far as wastefulness, well jeez. As a household, we’re working on the waste—but as long as you eat on the go or don’t prepare everything from scratch—and by “scratch,” I mean items that don’t come in any packaging whatsoever—there will be waste. Our main bin and recycling bin aren’t overflowing each week, but it would be wonderful to shop mostly at the farmers market and wean ourselves off of prepackaged food, even if it is Trader Joe’s.

Little by little, I’m trying to turn things around to look my best as I enter my forties and beyond, but more importantly, feel my best. I also yearn to set a good example for my little darling in hopes of making her a conscientious little citizen.

The revelation began with the documentary No Impact Man about New York writer Colin Beavan, his journalist wife Michelle Conlin, and their ridiculously cute daughter, Isabella. Seriously, if you’ve no interest in environmental discourse whatsoever, watch the film for Isabella.

To die for, right?

The documentary came out a couple years ago, but if you aren’t familiar with Colin Beavan’s project, his goal was to essentially reduce his family’s environmental footprint to nil over the course of a year. As the Beavans discuss in the documentary, the public’s reception to the mission was lukewarm. The documentary received loads of press aside equal parts, if not more, criticism. What about the fact that Michelle Conlin writes for Business Week, a periodical whose production kills forests full of trees? It’s unrealistic—who would ever be able to live without so much? It’s a publicity stunt . . . on and on. And you know what? All these people have points. Absolutely. But I understand what Conlin was attempting to do: (a) raise awareness of the things people could do to lessen their impact on the environment if they so desired (as well as raise awareness of himself as a writer, but hey, we all have to make a living—especially writers!) and (b) show the uneducated masses ways that a Fifth Avenue-dwelling family used to all the trappings of New York life managed to do with less. Most importantly, I enjoyed learning the ways that scaling back contributed to more quality time with their daughter, weight loss, overall better health, and greater peace of mind. I related most to Michelle, a self-professed shop- and crap-TV-aholic with a penchant for Starbucks. She survived. I could survive, too.

I’m so into trying to be okay with less right now. Some of it is forced, given the way the economic situation has affected our family, but I want to feel good about it in my heart of hearts.

Another source of inspiration has been Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. My husband decided about a month-and-a-half ago that he was finished with meat, and hasn’t touched it since. We both were vegetarian years ago, but somehow filet mignon made its way back into our lives. I hadn’t felt swayed any which way as far as meat-eating was concerned, but given the almost-35 thing, I have been cognizant about my sugar, fat, sodium, and caffeine intake, and have been a little worried about it, to be honest. I haven’t had a physical in years, but I’m betting my cholesterol is getting up there, if it isn’t there already. Sensing that I needed to start eating in a more wholesome manner—and learn how to make my daughter enjoy eating things that are good for her—I put The Kind Diet on hold at the library and have been fixated on its content ever since. The idea that whole grains, beans, and vegetables will make me feel full, reverse bad things happening in my body, and perhaps correct my skin (yay!) appeals, obviously. And I don’t want to go on a Meat is Murder rant, but for the first time, I was moved toward vegetarianism for the sake of the animals.

Will it satisfy? I don’t know. While my husband attempts to master the whole vegan shebang, I will embrace the “Flirting” chapter and take baby steps. I hope I like it. I doubt I’ll evolve into a health nut (not that there’s anything wrong with it!), and I don’t need to start wearing hemp shoes or anything, but I’m fairly certain the inner workings of my body have been on a roller coaster ride, and I know my crappy diet is to blame.

Probably more in this vein to come.

Post-first-vegan-dinner edit: Fried udon noodles with cabbage, garlic, paprika, onions and some other stuff. We forgot to purchase broccoli and mushrooms to go in it like we intended! At any rate, it was tasty, with a lingering spiciness. Not exactly In ’n’ Out tasty, but seriously—even though I want tasty, I’m not willing to eat a burger for it at this point. If anyone has delectable veg/vegan dishes, send them on over!

Learn a Language Instead of Reading 140-Character Posts from 150 People You Don’t Know

18 Jun

Not that I don’t read Twitter updates, because I did succumb a couple months back. But I try to keep my viewing to no more than fifty folks; and if it starts becoming a whole lot of drivel, I have absolutely no problem not logging on for a few hours. I jest. I’m honestly not that into the Twitter thing. However, I do wish I could bypass it—and Facebook—and perhaps scale back my blog reading to learn a language with the sliver of time I have left after upholding my daily obligations.

I studied Spanish for years in high school and college, but didn’t continue on; so ninety percent of those verb conjugations I memorized exited my brain ages ago. I took a semester of conversational French once upon a time. My accent was amusing at best; and, needless to say, the end of the semester marked the death of my dream to recite Colette and Baudelaire in French to myself in the mirror every morning. Because that’s romantic . . . I do, however, feel an obligation to my world community to resume or learn anew at least one other language. When I found Livemocha, I thought for the first time that learning a language post-school days actually seemed feasible.

Before I go on, I want to mention how I ended up visiting Livemocha in the first place. A Facebook friend posted a link to Stumbleupon.com—“another excellent time-waster,” she wrote. And it so is, but I also was pointed to some very interesting and useful blogs after I entered my tastes and interests and whatnot into their little blog generator apparatus. I fear this is beginning to sound like an ad for the site, so blah, blah, blah . . . and then I ended up on this post, which lists a bunch of “semi-productive” things to do while avoiding real work. Thanks, Stumbleupon! I never mentioned suffering from terminal procrastination, but you’ve got my number, quite clearly. So that’s how I found the language-learning site.

The sad truth is that I haven’t had time to utilize the site. I’m so very anxious to, though. You simply note your native language; which language you’re eager to learn, and what skill level you’re shooting for; and then you’re hooked up with online tutorials and the opportunity to converse with native speakers of your desired language in real-time. Could be creepy; could be cool. I’m really hoping it’s cool. If anyone gets to this before I do, please let me know how it goes.

In conclusion, I leave you with a thought from the ever-cosmopolitan Eddie Izzard:

Photo © Dennis_Wong on Flickr

An Elegant Bicycle

15 Jun

I haven’t been on a bike for darn near four years, at least. I’d probably not pedaled for five years prior to that. And now, I have a child who I can’t imagine trusting me to cruise her around suburbia, even with a helmet; so I don’t know how long it’ll be before my hindquarters make their way to a banana seat. However, if I had the dashing bicycle pictured below, I might be compelled get a sitter and brave a few slimy gutters in the name of letting the breeze blow through my tresses and making believe I’m in the Smiths’ “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” video.

1970s Lady’s Sports Raleigh 3-Speed • Photo © LovelyBicycle.blogspot.com

Handsome, isn’t it?

(I’m not certain as to whether Morrissey and gang are riding Raleighs. I’m in the process of finding out.)

How painfully charming is the Raleigh Green paired with, say, brown leather handle grips and a Brooks Saddles brown leather seat? It’d make a girl want to cycle from morning ’til eventide. A girl without a child, but hey . . .  here’s to dreaming. (I love my child—really. I love to dream, too.) Best conserve sitter funds—and best get over my fear of slipping to my near-demise in an aforementioned sludge-covered gutter, which I did when I was about ten, and clearly haven’t yet emotionally recovered.

Oh, and . . . I’ve recently purchased these Oxfords, which I think would complement the bicycle I’ll probably never get in quite a lovely way.

Please note that Urban Outfitters made an error on their site. The shoe is actually white on the toe and sides and tan in the middle and on the trim.

Fictitious agenda upon completing Mission: Secure an Elegant Bicycle—ride to coffee and leave with it in a slender silver thermos—and perhaps order a jelly-filled doughnut to celebrate freedom on two wheels; take a jaunt to the park to read some Colette on a soft patch of grass, preferably whilst being greeted by a group of congenial butterflies; feed some ducks and smile at babies and pleasant-looking passersby; head home for sundowners on the back deck, fairy lights aglow.