I’ll have what he’s having – maybe not. Mick turns 65 today!

Wow! Clean living? Lots of sleep and water? A multi-vitamin? Whatever it is, the man (and his cohorts) are from good, peasant stock. Happy birthday, Mick! And cheers to our neighbor up the road, Keef.

UPDATE: Hey, they can totally raise the near-dead, just like they say.

The gift of reading and rediscovery.

So often in our busy lives, we forget the littlest joys. Last week, I went on a hunt for a series of 9 books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, as they were a favorite when I was a child and I want to share them with my kids. As an only child, books were my favorite “friends” and there is no greater gift that a parent can give than to encourage a love of books as my parents did me.

I found all nine books in a boxed set from book dealer. I caressed the covers and looked at the drawings inside, remembering them from my own girlhood – it was a magical feeling. Tonight, Ava and I were getting ready for bed and I decided that I would read all of these books to her. I tell you, it sent me right back to the days where I would drag a sleeping bag on top of my bed, open the window shades to see the snow falling and read my “Laura” books for hours on end, forgoing dinner until my mom put her foot down. It was as if it happened yesterday. Ava was enchanted with the first chapter of “Little House in the Big Woods” and how different life was during the 1860s. As a mom, I can tell you, there is no greater pleasure than reading to your sleepy child and seeing their world open up.

Did you have a favorite book growing up? Was reading important in your life?

Retail Spotlight Friday – light up your world (part deux).

I am a huge fan of Kartell lamps at parties and since I am redecorating, I decided to get a few new lamps for Chez Notranting. This is my current fave – the Bourgie Lamp in Opaque White with Gold by Kartell. Environmentally sound, it’s made entirely of polycarbonate.

Gorgeous, right? Not a huge bargain (especially if you, like me, needed 2) but just showstoppers.

Whoa. Bummer.

Just a reminder to support local surfing – the makers of boards, instructors, etc., rather than the big guys. Surfing has become sort of a douchebag sport in that every middle aged white guy now thinks he’s a surfer and it’s becoming totally commercialized, but once this baby is out, I’m back on the board with the real folks.

I know Channel Island makes great boards, but seek out a hand-crafted board if you can. I use a local guy out of Newport, CA. Your local surf shop can guide you to the artisans and it will cost you much less.

In the meantime, enjoy the Gary Busey magic.

Saturday Recipes – totally belated – Agua Fresca.

Agua Fresca is a cooling, satisfying summer drink I like to make in the summer – somewhat healthy, somewhat sweet (but not sugary – ewww to high fructose corn syrup), always fun and colorful. I’ve craved nothing but fruit this entire pregnancy and this drink in particular. It’s origins lie in Latin America (I am part Mexican and Cuban – yep, that’s correct) but never learned the foods and traditions of my culture, really. More on that some other time.

Anyway – this can be done with cantaloupe, raspberries, strawberries, cucumber (my fave!) or here, with watermelon. It’s simple. In its native lands, one makes agua fresca by muddling the fruit and sugar with a mortar and pestle. I am short on time and use my blender or food processor. Stay cool – it’s crazy hot everywhere!

Agua Fresca – Watermelon

2 cups cold water
2 cups chunked watermelon
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
juice of 1 lime
fresh mint
ice (optional)

Combine the cold water, melon, sugar and lime juice in a blender or processor and pulse until smooth and drinkable, not too frothy. Pour into a chilled glass over ice or not. Garnish with fresh mint.

Makes two large coolers. PS – for “adult swim”, add vodka!

Retail Spotlight Friday – summer beauty indulgences.

Being knocked up during the summer is a little challenging in the looking good department – especially when you are a) high risk and feeling run down, b) living in an area that gets really hot and humid, c) still need to pull it together and look polished for meetings and events. As such, retail spotlight Friday focuses on the beauty lifesavers that we are currently obsessed with at home and in the office, regardless of your situation. Not to mention, this blog can be downright depressing if not taken with the message that each and every one of us can affect change. To that point, sometimes we need a break from the realities and to indulge in some frippery. So, we love:

Body Bling Platinum by Scott Barnes – adds a touch of color and shimmer in a body lotion that gives serious glow. Cellulite disappears and limbs look long and skinny!
DiorShow Mascara in Blackout – best mascara, hands down. Perfection and worth it.
Sephora Brand Super Supreme Body Butter – smells like a dream, comes in a giant tub (wait til you have a bump!)and is made with all-natural ingredients. Great texture.
Essie Nail Polish in Bermuda Shorts – garish in the bottle, perfect on toes. I finally have broken from my pale milky pinks – everyone in the office wears this one!
The Body Shop White Musk – cheap, crisp, around for 20 years, still fresh
Korres Quince Lip Balm – so great and tastes divine. The whole line rocks.
Nars cream blush in Penny Lane – for the perfect flush, you need a cream.
Cargo Eyelighter in Gold – for the corners of your eyes, makes you look awake!
Tricia Sawyer Eye Slept balm – lacking sleep? Here’s the cure.
The Fit Flop – need we say more? Loving these!
Ted Gibson Hair Sheets – genius. I have a ‘fro unless I carry these around.
Stila Silk Eye Shadow Wash in Kitten – the perfect neutral, great on everyone
Boots No. 7 makeup remover towelettes – so cheap, anti-aging, deep cleansing

Retail Spotlight Friday – ooh, ooh, that smell!

My good friend Meredith owns the gorgeous and fabulous New York floral and decor design firm, Belle Fleur. She’s a wonderful talent, awesome girl, mom and wife. And that’s not why I am featuring this today. As a logical outflow from her bouquets (a favorite of such luminaries as Anna Wintour, Salma Hayek and Gilles Mendel), home scents made sense!

If you are a candle addict, as am I, you will love her candles. Packaged beautifully and thoughtfully in aqua and chocolate croc-embossed boxes with the matches already in there (!), the candles come in gorgeous chocolate brown glass containers and there are many choices. You can buy online here, or at your nearest Anthropologie, Barney’s or other retail store.

I’m a fan of Jasmine Verbena, among others. The great thing about Belle Fleur candles is that they fill the room with scent immediately and burn cleanly. Get yourself some today!

Retail Spotlight Friday – rest your weary head in this bed.

Since my Boffi bathtub lust has gone unrequited, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect upholstered white bed for our new Hollywood Regency bedroom. After considering having it custom made (hello, pricey!), I found this gem from Eurway. They also have a well-edited selection of other furniture – I bought a terrific Eames knock-off desk chair here as well. If you order between now and midnight June 22, you get 20% off.

Sweet dreams. Isn’t it glamorous?

What’s Your Soundtrack Tuesday?

Aha! You thought I had forgotten. Nope, just on a little bedrest today. I have completely overextended myself and The Little One to be needs some calm and safety. But everyone knows that balance is practically unattainable in today’s society. Music helps you balance and gives you a sense of calm, energy or whatever you need to fill your soul. That said, my soundtrack today was a total mixed bag of old/new/completely geeky/melancholy.

The Killers: “When You Were Young” – searing, painful yet anthemic.
Bruce Springsteen: “Thunder Road” – for Tim Russert, of course, as The Boss dedicated it to him the other night. “Come take my hand; we’re riding out tonight to case the Promised Land…”
Tonic: “If You Could Only See” – seems like a love song; actually stalker-ish, no?
Minnie Riperton: “Loving You” – spoofed all the time, it’s an amazing song (pre-Mariah octaves) that for some reason, reminds me of soaking in the tub when I was a 9-year-old ballet student with sore muscles. Did you know she’s Maya Rudolph of SNL fame’s mama?
Bush: “Letting the Cables Sleep” – Sexiest. Song. Ever. Mr. Rossdale was never “Mr. Stefani” to me. And yowza, that video!
Brook Benton: “Rainy Night in Georgia”. Just like the title, reminds me of that very thing.
What’s in your ear today?

Retail Spotlight Fridays – are you a gladiator?

Let’s be warriors! I need to lighten up.

As I am not a big fan of SATC (I know, but I am irritated by the fact that people move here from Nebraska and think NYC is like this all the time), I did not get to fawn over the Dior Extreme Gladiator worn by SJP in pretty much each scene. Rumor has it that my new favorite store, Bellhaus, in Wainscott, has them. Otherwise, preorder for fall here.

So, my aversion to SATC can be summed up by: 1) Carrie’s ridiculous wardrobe, 2) Carrie’s ear-bending screech, 3) Charlotte’s crazy-eyed prissiness, 4) Samantha’s ridiculous caricature of sex-starved cougar with the Mae West voice and everything being a double entendre, 5) Miranda’s constipated look at everything, 6) the hype, 7) I’d like them all to listen to more music and read more books, 8) the fact that they seem small and petty and not generous, 9) they are given boyfriends, for the most part, that make them seem desperate and clingy.

There, I’ve said it. Love Mr. Big, love the gay characters, love Magda, loved the cameos (hello, talking about you Mr. McConaughey in the “Los Angeles” epi!). But the shoes? Freaking fabulous.