this or that: styling a cozy reading nook

cozy-reading-nook

1: Embroidered Paris pillow, catstudio (I’m obsessed!) | Sheepskin | Throw | Lamp | Mug
2: Pillow | Vintage kantha throw | Art | Book

There’s nothing I love so much as a cozy reading nook. Something welcoming, comforting and stylish, but a little bit fun too. Besides being a perfect excuse to curl up with a book (or the latest Vogue), a well-styled reading nook just instantly makes me feel calmer and more relaxed somehow, even when the rest of my house is a shambles.

I happen to love my current nook quite a bit. It has a picture-perfect view of the pond out back, and in the morning, I get just the right mix of sunlight and crisp breezes when I settle in with my cup of tea. 

But even spaces you love can use a little update now and then. Luckily, there’s nothing easier in the world of interiors than creating (or updating) a reading nook. All you really need is a chair, a lamp and maybe a side table (you’ll need a spot to set your tea, after all), and the possibilities become infinite. It’s like the little black dress of design – classic and always ripe for reinvention.

So, I decided to have a little fun with the options, and loved the results so much, I thought I’d share. The one on the left is so relaxing, simple and elegant – I feel calmer just looking at it! But the other is so cozy and inviting. What’s your pick, friends? (As you may have noticed, someone in my house has already cast her vote…)

 

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what to say when you don’t know what to say

empathy-cards-emily-mcdowell

|  A few of the perfectly on-the-nose Empathy Cards cooked up by Emily McDowell  |

I’ve always harbored a secret fantasy that I’d create a line of cards for awkward family scenarios. (See, e.g., a Father’s Day card for a dad to whom you sort of regret being genetically linked.)

So, when I saw what Emily McDowell has been up to, I knew I had to share. She’s created a whole line of cards for those tricky life situations you want to acknowledge, but don’t exactly know how, starting with a series for people with chronic or serious illness (aka, the people for whom a “get well soon” card doesn’t make a lick of sense). As a person who could be a recipient of many of Emily’s fantastic cards, I can tell you they’re just about perfect. (Especially that one about promising not to tell me about treatments you found on the internet. Seriously. Just…no.)

One of the (many, many) hard things about these big, hairy health issues (chronic illness, cancer, even infertility…really anything that can’t be cured by chicken soup or a Z-Pak) is that even the most well-meaning friends and family don’t really understand it. They can’t. You look fine most of the time, you act fine most of the time (we sickos get pretty good at putting on a show)…so it’s hard to know what to say or how to help. Believe me, I get it.

But the thing is, I lost friends when I got sick. Not a lot, but a few. They didn’t know what to say or how to act, so they just sort of faded away. And I let them. It sucked.

Instead of fading away, here’s what I suggest: show up. It’s that simple. Just show up, in whatever way you’re able. Send a card. Bring a cupcake. Ask questions. You don’t have to have the answers; just ask the questions. I’ll never volunteer the gory details about what’s up with my health, but if a friend sits with me over a cup of coffee and asks me to explain it to her, I always will. Because I want you to understand…but I need you to ask, because I don’t want to overshare, or overburden, or bore you to tears. Say, “If you’re okay talking about it, I’d love for you to explain what’s happening so I can be a better friend to you.” Wow, would those words be healing.

And then? Drop it. As hard as it will be, resist the urge to treat her like a patient. Plenty of other people have that covered, and no one wants to be The Sick Friend. Be the person who lets her feel like her old self. Because underneath the piles of blankets and pill bottles, that’s exactly who she is. Sure, ask how she’s feeling occasionally, and let her know you’re there whenever she needs to vent about another bad doctor’s visit or how her new meds are making her gain weight.

But your friend doesn’t need you to be her mother or her doctor – she needs you to be her friend. The same friend she had before the shit hit the fan.

So, show up with a pair of cappuccinos and resume your multi-part discussion of the best all-girl hip-hop groups from the ’90s. Call just to tell her about something funny that happened at work, or text her a string of rando emojis. Or occasionally, when you know she’s having a bad week (which you’ll know, because you’ve been showing up), show up with a casserole.

Don’t wait for her to ask, because she probably won’t. Just show up.

 

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me and art

Anna Valdez

|  My first grown-up art purchase, by the insanely-talented Anna Valdez  |

We don’t talk about it enough here, but I’m what you might call an aspiring art collector. I’ve always secretly wanted to be a Collector (yes, with a capital “C”). You know, one of those obnoxious people who “acquires pieces” at a pretentious gallery opening instead of buying posters in the museum gift shop. Yep, I aspire to snobbery. I admit it.

Alas, I probably won’t be making off with a Picasso from a Sotheby’s auction any time soon. And for most of my life, that seemed like the only way to collect. You had to be a high roller. But then, the Internet happened. And after that, 20×200 happened. And the world of collecting art suddenly became…possible.

20×200 was the first time I realized that mere mortals could, in fact, learn about art, be knowledgeable about up-and-coming artists, and even collect art – all without a seven-figure bank account or a loft in Manhattan. I was in love pretty much from Day One.

So, it’s safe to say that it makes my entire week to tell you that I’m teaming up with them on a series of Q&As with their incredibly smart and savvy founder, Jen Bekman. I’m pumping her for the skinny on everything there is to know about being a grown-up art collector (without a Silicon Valley art-buying budget).

The first one launched today, and I won’t lie…my feathers are pretty fluffed up about the whole thing. I hope you’ll love it.

 

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instant update: the easiest denim DIY ever

frayed denim jacket

| Buy it at Mango, or handle this easy denim DIY with a pair of shears and a deft hand |

I don’t know about you, but this little number has me dying to take a pair of scissors to my favorite denim jacket.

In fact, the internet seems hellbent on my taking shears to just about all of the denim in my closet. I could unpick the hems of some tired old straight-leg jeans…

raw-hem-denim

Or just lop the bottoms off a pair of washed-up skinnies…

diy-raw-hem-denim

What I particularly love about this of-the-moment trend is that it’s virtually consequence-free. Hate it? You were probably ready to part with those jeans anyway, or you wouldn’t have been willing to chop them up in the first place. So either it’s a genius reinvention or a cosmic justification for a quick closet purge.

So, what do you think? Ready to bust out the sewing scissors this summer?

 |  All images via my Pinterest page…but yes, I’m still pissed at them. |

 

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postcard: etsy binge

|  via Instagram  |
Since they’re so darn photogenic, I thought I’d show off the spoils from last week’s Etsy binge. I’d forgotten how satisfying these are (not to mention considerably cheaper than my Net-A-Porter sale binge). So many fun boxes arriving in the mail, and all of the lovely packaging and handwritten notes that come from buying handmade. Highly recommend.

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the memorial day sales that are actually worth your time

Because your inbox is probably as insane as mine this morning, I thought we could all use a cheat sheet. And so, your Great Big List of all of the Memorial Day sales worth mentioning is right here, but I’m starting it off with my faves – aka, the ones I’ll actually be shopping and which you might not have heard about yet. Read on

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