Friday, December 31, 2010


I hope your New Year's is as fabulous as this ad:

gotta love the grey goose lifestyle

Let it Snow

Almost waist-deep in snow in my driveway on December 27th

A Prep Christmas

Happy belated Christmas, I hope everyone had a fabulous time with family, friends and Santa! In typical prep fashion, I had a Christmas full of traditions and a small army of family.

Since preps especially have a hard time adapting to change and value the importance of family tradition (why do you think every boarding school and Ivy are full of legacies?) Our Christmas follow this unwritten commandment and are blissfully the same year after year.

Our tradition starts with our Christmas tree and our carolers:

On the 23rd, we always have a family lunch in the city, this year we had a fabulous meal at Gramercy Tavern (HIGHLY recommended) followed by the girls heading to Lincoln Center to take in the Nutcracker and the boys off to do their last minute shopping at Saks, a steam at the R&T and/or attending some sort of sporting event.

The 24th bring all the cooks to the kitchen at an absurdly early hour.  This year, we had 17 people to our house for our formal Christmas Eve dinner.  My tasks for the day were red velvet cupcakes, mashed potatoes and to get a manicure-all of which I completed successfully!
We had a delicious dinner of filet, mashed potatoes, green beans, orzo with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and other stuff, smoked salmon, plum pudding and red velvet cupcakes.  After dinner we headed to bed-the kids crash in the basement and we always have a great time watching Christmas movies and indulging in a cocktail or two.

kids table

adult table
 the kids

On Christmas morning, my little brother is usually trying to drag me out of bed around 7:30.  This is a kid who is never up before noon if he doesn’t have to be, and without fail year after year I’m up way too early and almost always missing my pillow and blankets as a way to get me out of bed.   This year was no different.  Then comes the excruciating stair waiting.  Mother has a strict 9am policy-she will not get out of bed on Christmas morning before 9am.  So we spend typically an hour and a half on the stairs, while Father lights a fire, takes a shot of Rocky with his dad, makes it look like Santa came all while yelling “five more minutes, almost ready!”
This year, heaven forbid, we forgot Mother’s Starbucks.  So the kids managed to execute the fastest Starbucks run in history (all while still in our pajamas…classy) so we could finally open our presents.

the prizes
New to the Christmas day lineup-at our place at Christmas breakfast we each had a wrapped t-shirt that indicated what color team we were each on for the First Annual Reindeer Games.  A complex bracket of ping pong, pool and beer pong so fiercely competitive it might make the Olympics look like a t-ball game. We had a blast.  And I am pleased to say, Uncle Jeff and I (the red team) were this year’s champs.

the fierce (and victorious) red team

the camo and green teams hard at work

the teal and tar heel blue team in a tight match

ping pong champs
game face

The best part of our Christmases is not the presents, the festivities or the food but it’s the fact that for 30ish hours my whole family is together enjoying each other’s company, something I try never to take advantage of because as we all get older I know that each year we get to keep on celebrating the holiday all together is a gift. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

kevin you're such a disease!

Tis the season for christmas movies! Every year I have a good old-fashioned sleepover with my two best friends where we stay up all night, make pizza, eat junk food and watch christmas movies.

Tonight we watched The Holiday, the Home Alones and now we're onto A Christmas Story.  We haven't seen Home Alone 3 in years and we had so much fun watching it.  Now I'm not saying it's better than the first Home Alone, but for a sequel it's pretty awesome.  John Hughes, you had mad skills.  Put young Scarlett Johansson, a talking parrot who takes crackers as bribes and quotes like "Excuse me, but I saw a man in Karen Stephen's bedroom, a little older than Dad, and he was wearing butt inspection gloves" and you've got the recipe for a fabulous laugh-filled movie

If you've finished all your christmas shopping and have endless amounts of wrapping to do like me, put in one of my christmas faves to keep you in the spirit and get you through your paper cutting, taping and bow tying:

1. Home Alone
2. Home Alone 2
3. Hone Alone 3
4. The Family Stone (filmed by my house!)
5. A Christmas Story
6. Joyeux Noel
7. The Holiday
8. Love Actually

And for you lucky ducks who are done with both your shopping and wrapping I'm super jealous.  Enjoy kicking back and relaxing-these movies will definitely keep you laughing and entertained for a day while you're waiting for Santa!...and remember don't ask for an official Red Ryder, carbon action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle-you'll shoot your eye out! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December in Paris

December in Paris, not something you hear often.  When my grandmother and I picked our dates to go people thought we were crazy.  Everyone kept saying why don't you wait until the spring! April in Paris is beautiful!  We just shrugged, it was the best time for us to go and anyway Paris is Paris! The last time I was there is was a dozen years ago in June and it was raining and overcast and it was still gorgeous so I figured December would be just as great.  I was wrong, it was so much better.  Before we left we checked the weather for the days we were going to be there.  Cold. Rainy. Snowy.  Snow? in Paris?!  Great, justtt great we thought-and most importantly HOW DO WE PACK FOR THIS WEATHER!?  It actually didn't turn out to be that terrible.  For the most part the weather didn't deter us from seeing anything I wanted to see (except Pere date with Jim Morrison will have to wait until my next trip) And Paris in the snow was amazing.

My only complaint about December in Paris is that this time of year from DC there are only two flights a night on Air France.  One gets you in at 5:45am and one gets you in at 11am.  So it was either waste half a day in Paris by landing at 11am or land at 11:45pm DC time (5:45am Paris time) and then have to stay up all night.  Well we took option A.  NOT something I would recommend.  Having to stay up all night like that was like getting drunk on irish coffee-you're still awake when you come down with your hangover. 

We stayed in a charming hotel in the 6th called the Hotel Lenox Saint Germain, my grandmother actually stayed in the same room when she was 19 for $1 a day...oh how times have changed!  It was a perfect location and the rooms were great.  I would absolutely stay there again.

After we checked in we began our food and art tour of Paris.  Throughout my many years of school I have studied SO much art and french history that I was eager to see the paintings and places that I had heard about and seen on power point presentations.   I think we hit just about every art museum and historical/tourist site in Paris (except the Monet exhibit at the Grand Palais-there was a 3 hour wait outside in the cold and snow)

My favorite day of the trip was the day we spent at Versailles.  I had never been and it was better than I could have ever imagined. 

outside Versailles (in my new Hermes scarf! bought
at their store on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré) 

 I loved the Hall of Mirrors.  All the pictures I've seen in no way did it justice.  The attention to detail all throughout Versailles amazed me.  I couldn't believe how much was accomplished during the days without the technological resources we have today.

While I adored the palace, my favorite part was the grounds. Though admittedly, I'm sure they would be spectacular in the spring and summer and it would have been great to see the fountains going-but I've seen pictures and used my imagination.

I took these two photos from inside the Palace.  I think the way sun is hitting the building, the perfectly winter blue sky and snow on the ground makes them look almost like they are fake or a painting

What I was most excited to see was the Hamlet (I truly dragged my grandmother all over Versailles-I really don't think she knew what she was getting herself into...)  I knew that Marie Antoinette built herself an Austrian village to play in but oh my goodness was I not expecting it to so incredible.  I figured it would just be a house or two but no-she had built 5 houses (I think!) all with gardens and around a lake.  Then, a 3 minute walk away she had another area where she had another house and a whole barn where she kept animals.  You can't go in any of the houses since they are no longer structurally sound for that much traffic.  I hope one day someone donates money to restore the insides it would be very cool to see.


I also enjoyed the Louve way more than I thought I would.  I love the artist Jaques-Louis David, and seeing his paining the "Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and the Coronation of the Empress Josephine in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris on 2 December 1804" (one of my all time favorites) in person was incredible.  I think it so elegantly captures one of the greatest acts of narcissism in history.  I bought a magnet of it for my fridge-I'm still very excited about this purchase.  The exhibit on Napoleons III's apartments is also a must see too-and don't miss the crown jewels of France at the end of that exhibit! 

The outside of the Louve is gorgeous as well, though every time I see it now I think of the book the Da Vinci Code :)

Okay enough about history and art.  Lets get to the good stuff.  FOOD.  We absolutely ate and drank our way through Paris.  Our best meals were are restaurants owned by Jean-Louis and Gilbert Costes, we went to three of them during our trip l'Avenue, George and La Société.

La Société was my favorite of the three.  It was right by our hotel, there is no sign on the door (from the outside you can't even tell it is a restaurant) the food is delicious, and it is no doubt a place to see and be seen.  I loved looking around the restaurant at the decor and all of the people enjoying their Friday night out. 

L'Avenue we went to for lunch during a day of shopping.  It is located on the corner of the Avenue Montaigne and Rue François...basically the Paris equivalent of NYC's Madison Avenue.   During the middle a weekday it was packed with business men and women, models, fashionistas, and ladies-who-lunch.  It was so fun to sit in a little table in the window while drinking my wine and chocolat chaud and watching people stroll in and out of the designer boutiques on Avenue Montaigne.  

Avenue Montaigne decorated for Christmas

We ate at George on our last night in Paris.  It was the perfect place to say fair-well to the city.  Located on the top floor of the Centre George Pompidou it has glass walls that provide panoramic views of Pairs. 

With my grandmother at George

Though April in Paris may be lush and green, in December you get to see it decorated for Christmas.  The whole city was elegantly decorated to a level that I have never seen in any city (including New York)  It wasn't just certain areas, the majority of the center part of the city was festive.

The Champs de Elysee decorated for Christmas

Along a good part of the Champs de Elysee there are these little white boathouses that are open in the afternoon and at night that sell vin chaud, crepes, tea, soap etc. We had the best time walking along there and enjoying a crepe!

Notre Dame at Christmas

Paris is an incredible city and if you've never been I would make it a point to go at sometime in your life.  I had a wonderful time especially being with my Grandmother.  It was something I'll never forget.

PS I'm having a lot of formatting issues with blogspot...anyone have any suggestions?