We are so thrilled to be out in the Hamptons for a big wedding that we are photographing this weekend. The client is fantastic and so kind and we are crossing our fingers for continued warm weather. What a treat it is to be able to stay at my aunt’s home, and to be in such a beautiful place this time of year. We drove down from Martha’s Vineyard and took four ferries, my favorite was crossing Shelter Island where we stopped for lunch at Marie Eiffel — delicious!
Marders sets the standard of elegance with its nursery and garden shop and is always one of my favorite places to stop while we are here. There is still a wealth of options for planting this fall before the cold sets in (the roots need six weeks to settle) up here but of course we have an extended season down south. It made me feel very excited as we are completely re-doing our back garden in Charleston and I love the combinations presented up here. Here are some photographs from inside the garden store which is jam packed with books, candles, soaps, seeds, children’s toys, and silk flowers:
This time I picked up silk peonies and roses (seen in the first photograph) for our office. I don’t often opt for flowers that aren’t real but these ones are exceptional and can extend the peony season which is all too short, and are of course far less maintenance for a space which we are very in and out of as we travel so often. I do wish that I could take home some of these hydrangea trees which are so bountiful:
I am very much hoping to return over Thanksgiving weekend when they turn the barn into a party with live music, cider and cookies — apparently extremely fun for families and I am sure absolutely charming. Xx
I love this time of year, and the back to school feeling. For me, fall has always been a time of routines set and followed, a rhythmic pace of life after a summer packed with travel, lots of late nights, endless wine and other indulgences. I also find with the onset of cooler weather and earlier sunsets, it’s a lot easier to take exercise outside, which is always my preferred format, and that I settle into the comfort of a healthier routine. I am never on a strict diet these days, but I do tend to feel more excited about fueling the family properly to keep energy levels up (this is also our busiest time of year for wedding photography) and also taking extra time for some self-care. Feeling great is a holistic effort, from skin care to delicious scents and luxuries to great workout gear and of course the exercise and diet itself.
Solid exercise gear which makes you feel fantastic is a must. I find that it is always motivating to put on a clean, cute workout outfit which is both comfortable and flattering. I tend towards leggings and fitted tops or white sweatshirts. I also thought all of these sneakers were great for both exercise or running errands around town. Workout gear is always an investment but tends to pay off as it should be durable and long lasting.
I find that once I am on an exercise kick (4 runs and a few yoga classes per week), I also tend towards delicious beauty products and skincare. The whole rounded regime makes me feel stronger and because I am focusing on feeling well, I also tend to prioritize rest, etc. This rose-scented moisturizer is a favorite right now, as is the anti-aging serum (yikes, worth it…). I haven’t tried the Clean AF wipes but I love the name and have grabbed them for my gym bag or travel, and you know that I love a good, lovely soap and I stock them for our bathroom, the guest room and the gift cupboard.
Is there anything more pleasurable than ending a work day outside? Yesterday we hitched our bikes onto the back of the car and took them up island. We have a key to the most beautiful, expansive and wild beach. It’s too far to bike (an all day excursion) with the baby in tow so we got as close as we could, parked and rode the rest of the way. What a pleasure it is ride on on smooth, quiet roads dappled in the last light of day, only to arrive to a wide-open orange sunset, light warm wind and soft sand so deep your whole foot vanishes with each step.
I bought these jean shorts the day after last in town and haven’t stepped out of them since. My last pair lasted me six years and finally tore up the leg, but I live in jean shorts in the summer, especially here where beach style is part of the Island culture (in summertime!). This linen shirt is also a favorite; it was a birthday present from my mother and is a summer staple. Last, this scarf is just the ticket for transitioning to cooler weather and is an all-season winner, here is a similarly useful one. Beautiful scarves last forever (if looked after properly) and are always a good idea.
This is one of my favorite views on the island (above and below!). Once you reach the top of the dune, you can see rolling hills, glowing houses tucked away, and the endless sea — takes my breath away every time.
We stayed until last light before throwing our bikes back on the car and heading to our favorite local store for the best pizza on Island. Fun ideas for the holiday weekend coming soon….xxxx
I have picked up cooking again. I took a break — I mean a really long, long break but I’m back, and I am finding it so completely relaxing and pleasurable to focus on feeding my boys. I’m not quite sure what jump started it, a mix of things I think. I watched great friends cooking in France with such ease and was reminded of why I loved it. I keep telling you how much the produce on this Island means to me, but it’s true, I look forward to these ingredients all year. I also was reminded of this passion which had been dampened in the chaos of life after writing a little piece on my time with Alice Waters last spring.
Last, I have a reading from my cousin’s wedding stuck in my head (it was at the beginning of this month). Simple, amusing and true, it has stuck with me. I’m sure that many of you have read it or heard it but just in case, here it is:
Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday school.
These are the things I learned:
Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life – Learn some and think some And draw and paint and sing and dance And play and work everyday some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, Watch out for traffic, Hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.
— Robert Fulghum
I bring it up in the context of this post because it seems particularly relevant: the importance of simple pleasures, doing something just because, doing things with love, supporting neighbors, and the earth, and farmers, and friends, and soaking up the delights of this life, delicious food, company, singing and dancing. So many of these things happen in or around the kitchen, and so I am planning to spend some more time in there. With love, xx
(And for those of you who were anticipating a pie and were given a poem instead, here is an easy one for crumble — I love blueberries and peaches xxx)
Oh my gosh, Bermuda in summertime is almost too much to handle. The ocean is SO crystal clear and vivid, it’s like you’re constantly looking through a filter. It is quite shocking and so mesmerizing, and also my favorite thing in the world so I felt like I was walking (and swimming) in a dream.
We stayed with Hamilton Princess, who very kindly invited us for this three night trip. The hotel sits in the heart of Bermuda’s city, Hamilton, and is both enormous with everything you might need and also a totally peaceful oasis. We ate at the hotel all three nights (despite awesome off-site recommendations, which we can’t wait to try next visit…soon….), and it was such an easy place to hang out as a family. It is very well set up for children, with large rooms, lots of activities, a child-friendly staff, and toys around every corner, from the pool to the beach club.
We spent a fair amount of time at the beach club, ate lunch there, swam, had a cocktail, etc. There is a pirate ship play garden with a slide and a digging tractor (we’re very enthusiastic about trucks right now) which kept us all entertained. We did, however, wish to find some more deserted beaches and were lucky to connect with a very helpful taxi driver who ended up as our personal tour guide for the entire trip. He was extremely helpful and I would love to share his information with anybody visiting! The hotel offers tours, and this felt like ‘insider scoop’. For example, we visited a completely deserted, wild beach while our little one napped in the stroller in the shade of a palm tree (yes, seriously, that happened), Will and I took a dip in the cleanest, clearest, softest water…it was exceptional.
And of course when our little one woke up, we couldn’t wait to bring him in….
For two of the evenings, we ate at Restaurant 1609 on site which has views of the harbor and is very child-friendly. The first night we walked straight off the beach into the restaurant, something we rarely do because we typically shower and change for dinner but we were wiped from the wedding weekend and early morning travel, and ate very early, admiring the sunset with a bottle of rosé. The second night we spent sunset in historic St. George’s and then went back to the hotel for dinner. We were planning to eat at the Village Pantry in Flatts but ended up opting for the ‘easier’ option, closer to home, although it does look so sweet there!
The last night, we ate at the acclaimed Marcus restaurant, also on site, with some pieces by Andy Warhol. It is southern-style fare with lots of fresh fish options and was a wonderful way to spend our last night in Bermuda. We had a half day yesterday and spent the morning in the gold lounge having a leisurely breakfast, followed by a dip in the pool before showering and packing up for home!
Will and I have been determined to travel with our son (and hopefully future children) as much as we can but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t intimidating, especially the days leading up to a big trip. Our son has traveled with us a lot, he has gone to the West coast a handful of times, Europe twice and up and down the East coast often. I actually find that the more we do it, the easier it is. The most nervous I have been to travel is when we are entirely out of practice. There was one six week period early (maybe 7 or 8 months old) on where we traveled four times (including one of our West coast trips) and it became quite breezy because it was a set part of our routine. This time before we left for France for our extended stay, we spent more time at home in Charleston than we have in years, and so I was feeling a bit panicked. Regardless, I could easily remember how worth it it all is as last year’s memory was fresh in my mind.
Flying to Europe
A redeye is great if you have a decent sleeper. If you can, do an extra seat. We never did it and we made it through just fine, back of the plane, hopefully not in the middle. I do recommend booking flights on the phone and talking to an emphatic operator. On more than one occasion, booking on the phone on JetBlue (local flights) and Delta has helped us get better seats — either the very front of the plane, which is desirable with a baby for so many reasons, or on a longer flight, in a two seat set rather than a middle row of four, which is far more comfortable. Even if it is miserable, remember that it’s just a blip in time. If there’s a meltdown, so be it. Most people on the flight have either had children and wish to relate to you about one excruciating flight experience or they have noise-canceling headphones and are just thrilled its not them.
I try to remind myself to just relax, go with the flow, bring baby carrier and lots of new toys. Sticker books, a white board, and big legos were our go-to’s this time around. My best friend traveled from San Diego to France to join us this year with her six month old and told me that she asked the hostesses to tell her all the worst things they had seen over a glass of wine — fantastic idea!
I forgo a handbag and just use a diaper bag packed to the brim with new toys, snacks, water bottles, extra pacifiers (because our guy still uses his), diapers, wipes, sanitizer, milk etc. I also dress comfortably, and this time I switched from jeans into something more comfortable on the flight which was life-changing. Growing up, my mother always taught me to dress up for flights, and I try maintain this as best I can while also being realistic. Bring spare clothes for the whole family if possible!
Make yourself at home.
An extended stay is designed to help you create a second way of life, a second home. Put your baby on a schedule, settle into a new routine. It’s not about a hotel mentality, it’s about a home mentality in a totally new place and it is such a pleasure! I really recommend trying to find a rental so that you can get into a rhythm.
We try to get on the local time zone right away. We’re zombies after the redeye but the excitement of arriving, and the endless espressos help. If our little one sleeps in the car, we usually arrive mid-morning so try to skip a nap for the rest of the day to get on a regular bedtime. The first year was tough with lots of nightly wake ups, this year was a dream. Both trips were great, so we just did the best we could.
What to pack
As little as possible while still also bringing the essentials that help with the transition: a handful of cuddly toys, a favorite blanket, some familiar books and toys. We find that our son is so fascinated by his new surroundings that he doesn’t need as many toys in the beginning, and then we pick up cheap and cheerful items as needed: a plastic truck, a noodle for the pool, some new books, etc.
In our case, all the toiletries that we use in the U.S. are readily available in the French pharmacies, so we can leave those heavy items at home and pick them up locally. Same goes for diapers, formula, etc, no need to bring them for an extended stay.
I know that we have a laundry machine so don’t need to overpack on clothes, and if he outgrows anything on the trip, we leave it behind (give it away).
Other thoughts, in no particular order:
Don’t forget that you need a baby passport!!
Use the local currency, even when prompted on the card machines.
Rather than renting a hotel, I recommend renting an apartment or house for the extended stay so that you can have a kitchen and get into a routine without worrying
Go early in the summer. Everybody in Europe takes their holiday in August, so go May and June. August is the most expensive and most crowded.
Transition into village life, local life, as quickly as possible by finding out what the heartbeat of the town is, pottery, rug making, etc. and also where the best bakers and artisans are.
Eat where the locals eat (hint: places that are full at lunchtime and evenings.
Buy local buy local buy local!!!! As in America, look for local markets. Cook at home 🙂 Particularly places like France, people don’t do big shopping they go every day to buy fresh bread, vegetables. They buy what is ripe that day and they eat it that night, it’s a very different way of shopping and eating.
Pimsleur programs are a great way to learn the language, just enough to get by at least!
REALX AND ENJOY you extended stay, it’s all a part of life’s rich tapestry. XX