I'm really digging flat ankle booties, and in particular Chelsea booties, right now. I've been wearing sneakers for nearly a year since having had foot surgery last December, and while I do love my slip-on Vans, I'm ready to graduate from skater canvas to the wild world of cool-girl leather. The Chelsea boot, with its flatness and roomy toe box, seems like it just might be my ticket to ride.
Why the Chelsea boot, and why now? You mean, aside from the fact that it's just plain cool? Why, Thanksgiving, of course.
But not for the reasons you might think. It's not just because of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that undoubtedly drive me to consume far more than I ever should. It's not the 30% off, 40% off, spend $200 and get $25 off, use code GETFESTIVE, FREESHIP, act now or regret forever. I mean, obviously, that's part of it... okay, that's a lot of it. But it's not all of it.
It's not at all all of it. Because if the sales alone were all of it, then the Chelsea bootie would make no sense. The Chelsea bootie would be but one of many random purchases that the brilliant department store marketers have manipulated me into believing I must buy. And the Chelsea boot was not but one of many random purchases. It was not, I tell you!
(I mean, fine, I didn't just buy a pair of boots. I bought a lot of pairs of boots to try because who knows how they'll fit? And I bought boots from multiple stores because the sizes were selling out as I was price-comparing and putting them in my shopping cart, and it was maddening. And okay, yeah, I also got a few long down puffy coats to try because I'm cold and I want to feel like I'm commuting to work in a comforter. And a new down pillow for Matt and me because it was on sale and feels like sleeping on a cloud and no other pillow will do, and don't we deserve it? I got it on sale, after all. And a plaid flannel shirt because the dry cleaners lost my favorite one and because I needed to get over an extra threshold of spending to get to a new level of savings and I'll probably return it anyway... I mean, truly, the psychology of Black Friday/Cyber Monday is insane! Forget buyer's remorse or saver's remorse: the "need" that these post-Thanksgiving sales instill in our malleable, exhausted, L-Triptophan-laden, wine-infused brains creates an entirely new form of MY-GOD-WHAT-HAVE-I-DONE? guilt and self-loathing.)
But existential crisis aside, the reason I'm into the Chelsea boot right now is really not the sales at all.
The real reason? Nostalgia.
Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks and of gratitude and of being with family. And for me -- and I imagine it is for many of you -- it's also a time of remembering. Because childhood was great, and the holidays as a child were sparkly and involved mandated time off of school. And because Thanksgiving as an adult is so much harder than it was as a kid, isn't it? I mean, don't get me wrong, I love every part of it. It's incredible and wonderful and I appreciate it so much more now as an adult than I did as a kid, when I didn't realize just how much work it all was -- when I thought it was just a given -- and what a novelty it was to have all of your family from near and far under one roof breaking bread and doing the dishes together. But as an adult, the physical act of getting yourself to the Thanksgiving table -- of gunning the gas pedal on everything else -- on all that other effort of getting a seat at the other table(s) -- for weeks prior and then suddenly slamming on the breaks for just long enough to pack a bag and catch a flight or make the drive or, god forbid, host -- is downright exhausting.
As we age and our families morph and merge and bifurcate and grow, new traditions are created and some old ones are maintained. There is always turkey. Same as it ever was. Isn't it great that there is always turkey? And even better, there is also always so much more. Tradition is wonderful, but it has a way of locking us into old ways and closing our minds to new experiences - old habits die hard, as they say; but having new experiences has a way of expanding our horizons and making us open to change and new ideas and, subsequently, new contentedness. There's innocence lost, sure; but also new traditions and a new kind of happiness gained.
As I write this (it's the Saturday after Thanksgiving - who knows when I'll actually hit "publish"), I'm laying on a ginormous sofa in my sister- and brother-in-law's lovely new house in North Carolina. My husband Matt just flew back to New York in the morning for work, and I just spent the day getting a pedicure and eating pizza with my sister-in-law (I mean, really my dream come true) and I am now lying here in sweats and serenity while my brother-in-law snores next to me. I feel completely at home in a family that I was not a part of until just a few short years ago.
But with that new sense of serenity and gratitude of being part of a new family, there is also that sense of remembering our "original" families -- the ones we knew when we were kids; the ones we knew when we knew nothing else -- and what it was like when there was less to worry about. There's the nostalgia. For being a kid. For having no cares in the world.
I am an only child. And growing up I had no cousins at all on my mom's side of the family until I was 17. So when we would do Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family in St. Joe, Missouri, I was quite literally the only child. It was me, my parents, my Mama Norma (grandmother) and my incredibly cool aunts and uncles, Aunt Mimi, Uncle Dan, Uncle Mike and his wife Aunt Jackie. I idolized my aunts and uncles. They were in their twenties and early thirties (ancient, learned, wise cool ones to a 10ish year old), and I hung on their every word and fashion choice.
Much of my memory of these Thanksgiving times is blurry. I can't place the year(s) or my age. But I can remember the smells and the feels. I remember the plush pink carpeting and (fake?) wood paneling and heavy brick fireplace in my Mama Norma's family room. The linoleum floor in the kitchen that was meant to look like brick. The pantry that had a secret double-layered door that hid my Kraft Mac and Cheese and Spaghettios & Meatballs. The orange and white 60s floral wallpaper in the kitchen. The saloon quality (and shiny, non-wood feel) to all wood features - swinging doors that I loved to swing and swivel chairs that I loved to swivel on and a bar that I could climb up onto from the swivel chair to retrieve Diet Cokes from a mini fridge. There was even a small fake Western town of storefronts in the unfinished, cobwebby basement. It was always dusty and there were never kids to play in it with me and I realize now that adults had no interest in going down there, but I remember it and that concrete, cinder-blocked basement all the same. I'd run around it all as if it were my own personal play area. As if all basements had small Western-themed towns made for kids. That basement had a pool table. I could play against myself for hours (seldom correctly), and when I was lucky, I'd convince one of my aunts or uncles or my dad -- and if I was really lucky, more than one of them -- to come down and play a round with me. I was terrible (and very small), but over time, each one of them managed to teach me how to hold the cue correctly and to think about angles and to always, always avoid the 8 ball. I learned a lot in that basement.
Amongst all of these memories, I have one very clear one: It is the memory of boots. It is of being in the basement and hearing the clunk, clunk, clunk of someone's arrival. It is of being in the family room and watching each of my awesome aunts and uncles walk into the room, having just arrived in their Hondas and Toyotas from their drive from Kansas City or St. Louis, still emanating the cold St. Joe air that they picked up between the car and the front door, still wearing their coats and hats and letting out hellos and giving hugs. And in those moments, they always clunked in wearing thick, black leather boots. 90s boots. Sturdy, sh*t-kicking boots. Boots I yearned to be old enough to wear.
Each arrival was different. Aunt Mimi would squeal and sort of march in place as I ran to her. Uncle Dan would always show up in his uniform -- ripped, worn jeans, an oversized heather wool sweater, a wool hat and Chelsea boots -- and hold up his hand for a high five. Uncle Mike would run in grinning and squat down in his jeans and rugged boots, open his arms wide and let me dive into them for a bear hug. Aunt Jackie would always be by his side, wearing a hip, healed boot, her hair always blond and perfect and covetable, ready with a hug.
Those boots (unbeknownst to me) symbolized so very much to my young mind: the arrival of family; love and comfort; adultness; coolness.
And now, years later, they have come to symbolize something else for me: Youth. Strength. And fond memories.
That house in St. Joe no longer exists. Or so I hear. Zillow and Trulia thankfully tell me its edifice endures, but my Mama Norma sold the house several years ago, and rumor has it that the buyers razed its Formica'd, linoleum'd, saloon-themed wood-paneling to the ground. It's a pity. That house was the best for exploring.
But it's still there in my memory. All of its insides are still living and so real to me. That strange basement in particular.
As are the boots. Their clunk. Their weight. Their leatheriness. Their coolness.
Where to Buy
I'm working on a comprehensive list and will share this with you soon. I bought a number of different options -- Tory Burch mostly (because she makes boots with a wide toe box, and also, I love her), Sam Edelman, Munro (a brand I didn't know existed until yesterday but which makes boots in wide sizes and with cushioned insoles) and Vince -- the majority of which have sold out at the moment, so I don't want to list them here and give you false hope (and I also don't want to vouch for something I haven't tried yet). If I were to make general recommendations on quality worth the price, I would recommend trying Frye, Tory Burch and Vince on the higher end (over $200) and Sam Edelman, Steve Madden, Doc Marten and Vince Camuto on the lower end (under $200).
What are your favorite Thanksgiving memories?
Happy Thanksgiving and happy finding happy!
How do I love thee, Cameron Diaz's kitchen? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height of thy emerald green cabinetry, thy clean lines and gilded edges, thy glamour and thy brassiness, thy cozy cocooniness, thy futuristic lighting juxtaposed with thy traditional woodwork and the graininess of thy wood...
I happened upon Cameron Diaz's kitchen, as I'm sure many of you did, in the October 2013 issue of Elle Decor. I remember flipping through the issue, turning the page to the above image and letting out a gasp of great joy. If I could have purred, I would have.
"This," I said to myself, "is a kitchen."
The story featured all of Cameron Diaz's incredible Manhattan apartment, designed by the incredible Kelly Wearstler. I wanted to climb through the magazine pages and into Cameron Diaz's apartment and live in all of its rooms, but this kitchen in particular... this kitchen... was something to behold. I wanted to pad barefoot around its wood floors, lounge on its countertop, leaning against its grainy emerald cabinetry, and savor a cup of coffee. I wanted to wash vegetables in its sink (and imagine that it had a disposal, because in my dreams, New York sinks have disposals). I wanted to have friends over and dribble lemon juice and leave red wine rings on the unlacquered brass countertops and marvel at how I didn't care that it was staining, that I was adding to its character, its patina, or as Cameron Diaz put it, "its soul"... I wanted to see how the kitchen would sparkle and glow if I turned that overhead light fixture on. Of course, in this fantasy, Cameron Diaz was also my best friend and participated in all the aforementioned activities with me. For example, we would turn the overhead light on and off and she would make this face:
Let's look at the kitchen from another angle so we can see how it looks from other parts of the apartment:
I've given it a year now. I've looked at literally thousands of kitchens. I've veered off into different directions -- a white kitchen! a grey kitchen! black! navy! natural wood! -- but always it comes back to this one. The best part? Matt loves it too. Throughout the past year, as I've shown Matt my various ideas for how we might one day renovate our dated galley kitchen -- the white, the grey, the black, the navy, etc. -- he always says, "That's nice, but what about that green one?"
And so I said, "You're right! What about that green one?" And the more I had the green in my head, the more I found inspiration everywhere I looked...
Our lamps in our entryway for example....
And these images from Anthropologie's October 2014 issues, which I ripped out and taped to our cabinets....
And this kitchen by Bailey and Pete McCarthy (Bailey a decorator and writer of fab blog Peppermint Bliss) featured in Southern Living:
And this kitchen designed by interior designer J. Randall Powers (it's his own home) and featured in Architectural Digest:
And so, with all of that inspiration, the question becomes, how to adjust Cameron Diaz's ultra high-end Kelly Wearstler designed kitchen to a non-celebrity's budget and a family friendly design... and make it our own?
1) Keep all of the fabulous green cabinetry and brass hardware. Maybe even a brass sink.
2) Eliminate the unlacquered brass countertops, but keep the backsplash. As much as I love the countertops and I'd love to feel completely at ease with the stains I would inevitably create, I know that I would stress about the fine line between "giving the kitchen soul" and "completely destroying the counters"... and I would manage to completely destroy the counters.
3) Instead use perhaps a clean, white, easy-to-clean countertop (quartz?). Something durable, low maintenance and impossible to ruin.
4) Lighten the floors to a simple, easy, dark brown wood to flow with the rest of our apartment.
5) Five, plop one of our flame-colored Le Creuset pots into the image because we insisted upon getting the one so big that it won't fit in any cabinets and it now sits permanently on our range.
6) Try to imagine it all in a galley style instead of this nice little jewel box.
The result is something like the below image.
We've also toyed around with the same concept but with subway tile with dark grout instead of the brass backsplash, but that does seem to eliminate some of the warmth that is so key to this look.
What do you think? What kitchens make you swoon??
I am an artist/designer and former financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and my two boys Michael and Theo and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.