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Thoughts : Blogging

“Today I thought about blogging about one-sentence synopses of what I thought about blogging about today.”

On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 4:05 PM, KA wrote:

exactly! i might just start doing this with my blog…
“Today I thought about blogging about one-sentence synopses of what I thought about blogging about today.”
or is that too meta?

On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 4:03 PM, Aimee wrote:

perfect. I would read it, since it wouldnt take a ton of time to read, its a blog for the busy folks.

On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 4:02 PM, KA wrote:

Bwah. Let’s just start a blog that says, “today i thought about blogging XX” and that’s it.

On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 3:58 PM, Aimee wrote:

Its the thought that counts.

On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 3:54 PM, KA wrote:

Ugh. I *thought* abt blogging the other day, does that count?

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Lifestyles of the Rich, Famous…& Historical

One of my most enduring obsessions is visiting historic homes. It might sound lame… and historical. But how often did you get such an up-close peek at how the rich and famous live—does it matter if it’s the rich and famous of 100 years ago? They didn’t have to pay income tax! They could spend all their money on Carrara marble houses and fancy dress parties instead–it was insanity. And often their reproduced French chateaus are all that are left of the legacy of the Jennifer Lopezes and Angelina Jolies (without much of the philanthropy) of today.


The most spectacular places contain original furnishings and decor (or well-researched and immaculately produced reproductions) as if their owners are just out of town for the season…whatever season that may be. On the other hand, the most dreamy places are often falling apart at the seams, conjuring visions of rebuilding one’s own Gilded Age palace. Because I also love lists, here are my five favorite homes in the States and abroad:


Eagle’s Nest

Centereach, Long Island, NY


pc: IslesPunkFan via Flckr


Its Spanish/Moorish design is reminiscent of a “mini” Hearst Castle, and WK Vanderbilt II’s Eagle’s Nest is the house that started my love affair with houses and history. As there’s a planetarium and some semblance of a science museum on the premises, most elementary school kids on Long Island visit at least once. And while most of them just want to get to the light show, I was transfixed by the house itself. Its walled courtyard and stucco and clay tiles transported this 8-year-old from suburban Long Island in a big way. Highlights are Mrs. Vanderbilt’s circular mirrored dressing room that women today would still lust after. For the guys there’s a building full of dioramas of hunting trophies straight from Africa—and not too surprisingly, an Egyptian mummy.



The Breakers

Newport, RI


pc: Robyn 2175 via Flckr

(And now that I’ve seen this, I absolutely HAVE to go at Christmas!)


Oh how I would move into the Breakers on a moment’s notice. Sure it’s unbelievably ostentatious and gaudy, but less so than Marble House, its neighbor down the street. It’s also an exquisite Italianate villa right on the ocean, something that most real Italian villas just aren’t. I would literally never leave Its atrium and loggia—that is, if it came with the nineteenth century servants. Oh, and just imagine the parties.



Lockwood-Mathews Mansion 

Norwalk, CT


pc: Jesse J. Forth, LMMM Volunteer 

When I visited this house years ago, it needed so much help! But it had such raw potential, I just wished I had money to throw at them to save (and furnish!) this beauty. It had a conservatory that would make any Victorian proud, along with several delightful oval rooms, and a magnificent foyer and stairwell, that blended typical McKim, Mead & White classicism with charming Arts & Crafts-like woodworking.




Versailles, France


pc: Ted Drake via Flckr


Versailles is…Versailles. A list like this, and my life in general, just wouldn’t be complete without visiting. But, and maybe it was the mid-November grey skies, it was oddly…soulless. I guess this is to be expected of the palace that was so ridic it contributed in part to the demise of a monarchy. There was a glimmer of its prior splendor through the crowds and clouds in the way the afternoon sun streamed through the arched windows. For a moment I could see what held people to this place with its strange relationships and politics and looming downfall. But the Hall of Mirrors, like the Sistine ceiling, is so difficult to appreciate en masse.



Hearst Castle

San Simeon, CA


pc: Jill Clardy via Flickr

(And this is just a guest house.)


Because it’s in the middle of nowhere California, I didn’t make it out to Hearst Castle until I was in college in LA. I took the trip with my mom which meant, if that wasn’t bad enough to a 19 year-old, that it was the first time in months I was separated from the friends and roommates that I’d been umbilically joined to all year. But despite all that, it was just as magical as I’d always thought it would be. It’s a stunningly beautiful middle-nowhere-CA coast. So remote that I think William Randolph Hearst built a railroad all his own to bring groceries, so dreamy that we wound up driving through the midst of a Porshe rally all day, and so picturesque that we stayed at a Best Western that I’ll remember forever because it was hanging off a cliff.


The house itself is beyond. You’re driven with a small van of people through the California moors, and you’re practically the only ones there as you tour the property of bougainvillea laced bungalows, the imposing main house, indoor AND outdoor swimming pools. And all of this designed by a woman, the incomparable Julia Morgan.


If I could never leave my house again, I would without a doubt want it to be Hearst Castle.




I’ll be blogging soon about the fulfillment of a childhood dream–my recent visit to the Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.


Meanwhile, anybody else out there a lover of historical homes?

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Fancy a picnic?


My life hasn’t exactly been chock full of picnics. Although there was a great 20-something birthday in Central Park a couple years ago.

But Ideeli’s Picnic at Ascot sale today basically makes me want to run out and rock wine and cheese on a grassy knoll somewhere.



pc: ideeli


Elegance and OCD in a sweet little package that conjures up images of celebrity frolicking in Hyde Park.



pc: wenn


In fact, James May might be the exact celeb that would appreciate such a combo…


Shopping Tip: Check out Picnic at Ascot’s many retailers. Unless you’re buying a bunch, Ideeli’s $10 shipping makes some of the items priced at close to MSRP.

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To Buy of Not to Buy: An Overanalyzation of an Impulse.

When does cluelessness absolve one of trendiness?

I started crying in Target Saturday night over this dress.

pc: Nylon

I was obviously on my period.

But the wonderful Art Deco pattern, the colors (my colors!), and the cut were still very much speaking to me. It reminded me of how I wanted to acquire lots of 1960s Alice in Wonderland-type looks as worn by Yvette Mimieux in Light in the Piazza.

My boyfriend, despite his best efforts, is easy prey for tears and dutifully purchased said dress at $60. Not a ton of money, but also not pocket change as we’ve happened to have just paid our year’s worth of property taxes (Disclaimer: in the 2nd most expensive county in the country), and planned a trip to Mexico in the same month.


Said dress is Anna Sui for Target. This was temporarily exciting, as I’ve never really been tempted to “splurge” on any of the “designer” Target collections before. Said collection is based on Gossip Girl characters. Uh oh. Dress is now losing points.

Quick Google search reveals debut of collection in trendy “pop-up” SoHo boutique. (Why can’t they at least let us suburban girls have Target!?)

Dress looks massively heinous in look book as featured in NY Magazine. (NY Magazine?! It’s a Target dress!) Minus more points.

But why would I base my decision on how a dress looks on someone else?!?!

Dress is also rip off of original Anna Sui design from 2007. This actually gains points in my book–from where I see it, it’s less actually based on anything from Gossip Girl, and more of an original Anna Sui. Plus I easily like the Target one much better than the original.

Is it even likely be seen or known by someone else? Nobody who saw the look book would go out in search of it; no one on LI would buy it, and how well-attended would an Anna Sui for Target temp boutique be in the midst of fashion week anyway…

Do I keep it?

Target has a 90-day rumination policy, so check back then…

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Muse: A Return

What MTV keeps harping on as Muse’s first television appearance in the States (ARGH, live yes, first ever no. See Fuse’s footage “Live at the Wiltern” from December 2004), is just one of their many returns to my life.

Their last first show back in the States, in 2006, was like a really big deal.

I’ve been realizing, getting now to actual adulthood as I am, that there are those chunks of time when everything happens and those when nothing happens. Even though it’d only been a year since we’d last seen them then, May 2005 to July 2006 was an everything year for me. July 2006 to August 2007 even more so.

Muse tends to bring everything times.

Yes I know, three very insane, very wonderful blokes from Teignmouth, Devon, in the UK, are not literally responsible for my jobs, my moves, my loves, my losses, my kidney stones.

I am solely responsible for making things happen, or not happen. The happenings (and the not happenings) of the past Muse-years have been me getting off my ass and doing something about my life.

But I’m tired, and I’m scared, of the same, same, sameness of August 2007 to August 2009. Happy same-ness, but still, wtf just happened?

I guess I’m in need of an Uprising.


So very long story short, I’m glad those three and all the ridiculousness that comes with them are back. Being there last night was surreal, and bizarre, and wonderful;. I’m proud to continue to be a part of their journey, whether they actually become the annoying Twilight-era icons they’re being made into or not.

And I hope that, starting last night, my life will move forward, and that I will finally learn how to translate all the hoops I’ll jump through for them into having an impact on my real life.

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Who is the Discerning Dilettante?

Someone who has never been able to settle on things in life: Since the age of five I’ve been an amateur fashion designer, interior decorator, travel agent, architectural photographer, event planner, gardener, a crafter, film historian, and brit rock (not) groupie. There have been 2 constants: I’ve always been a writer. And, whether from the thrill of the hunt or necessity, a natural bargain hunter.

Any advice or treatise on blogging will tell you to keep it specific. Blogs about cereal, bookshelves, Manolo Blahniks–that’s the kind of specificity people seek out and read. But I’m sick of needing to pigeonhole myself into a career, a hobby, a blog topic. There are plenty of things I’d once given up because no one has time for it “all”, and I’m through with that now. If it means I’ll just be another blogger talking to myself, so be it.

With this blog I hope to curate a virtual collection of the things I–and you–find make life interesting. If money, space or my own indecision prevent it from actually hanging on my walls or in my closet, at least I can keep it here. So if you love interior design, fashion, crafts, travel, the arts, cooking, and beautiful places, people and things, read on…