Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fall's Upon Us

Fall gets me all sentimental-like, it's true. I don't think it's any coincidence, then, that two of my favorite pies - apple and pumpkin - are fall classics. And there's something about the fall harvest at the farmer's market that is simply, magic. The crisp in the air, the gourds, the flowers, the ambers and ochres of the flowers for sale, and lilting sounds of bluegrass in the air. And of course, fall fashion and cozy sweaters, blue jeans, and worn leather boots. When I was at school in Tennessee, fall was the one season I truly missed. But, we did one year escape the late season heat as we headed east to a friend's estate in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina for a fall break where we turned off the tv, took daily hikes, naps, and reading breaks, picked apples and made pies and lasting memories, and, yes, visited the farmer's market in nearby Asheville.

bluegrass at market

Perhaps so much of it has to do with the cool weather and warmth of the sun that makes activities - and tailgating - that much more pleasant than in the summertime, when it gets so blasted hot you can't do anything but sweat. Fall time is memory making time, with firepits in the evening, leaf piles in the afternoon, pumpkin carving and apple cider and college football. Oh, it all sounds a bit cliche, it's very true, but I'm okay with that.

So at the market this weekend, I was excitable to say the least at the sight of pie pumpkins and apples, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, and more but I'm going to go all out in not getting ahead of myself. There were none of those things bought. Instead, I stocked up on strawberries to make a last-of-the-season strawberry pie this week, and next week's plan is a tomato-leek pie with heirloom tomatoes.

summertime watermelons make a great resting place

You might be able to tell by now just how sentimental I get about fall and I always rush towards it, breaking out boots too early and filling my house with gourds rather than seashells, but instead, this year I'm looking to relish in the end of summer - take in the sounds of the locusts, savor the cooler mornings yet still hot days, and, enjoy the last of the fresh garden tomatoes before I rush on to other things.

So coming soon! I experiment with two strawberry pie fillers, both different than what I normally use.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Adventures in Nannying

Being a girl whose "Secret Single Behavior" is to paint my nails in bed, whilst wearing a tiara and watching "Breakfast at Tiffany's," I always figured I'd be the kind of mom who let her daughter wear princess dresses everywhere, and pink cowboy boots with said princess dresses, and my son, firefighter jackets or froggy rainboots everywhere or whatever their imaginations and senses of style choose. And the rule seems to apply to nannying too.

Well, sort of.

When I first started, I was so very aware that These Are Not My Kids. In other words, don't screw 'em up, and make sure they look nice in public. (Not that I plan on screwing my own kids up, of course. I don't know that it's more pressure when They're Not Your Kids, just a different kind).

Then there's differences in discipline styles, teaching styles, things you would let go that they wouldn't, and vice versa - all of this can make for a very uptight nanny!

No, but M & N's parents are very easy-going and love to say, they're not perfect parents, they don't do everything right (and neither do those judgy-wudgy moms at the park). And perhaps it just took some time to get used to the schedules and routines, and for N to test me to see what she could and couldn't get away with (we're still working hard on the "pleases," for example), but I finally remembered, they're kids, they should have fun. Yes, there are rules and you're there to teach them, oh, just about everything there is to life, but, tutus may be worn to the park with tennis shoes and strawberries blown on arms at lunches out. So what?

Last week, we had been asked to make birthday gifts for M & N's birthday that day, and as we were scrambling to make it out to the craft supply and get back and make gifts in between naps that day, I sent N off to put her shoes on while I strapped M in his carrier.

It's August in Kansas City, and that means 90+ degree weather, right? Now, I spent some time trying to convince N she would be cooler in flip-flops, but, in the end, I thought, what the heck. We'd mostly be in the car and the store and inside anyhow. Here's what she put on:

These were paired with black patent leather mary-janes, which were promptly taken off in the car, after jumping in a puddle in the parking lot. Oops!
She came tapping up to me and said, "I got my socks and shoes on, I ready to go!"

That is what I had asked her to do! And in the name of letting them do it themselves, sometimes, you have to go into the world with one reindeer sock, and the other, pulled up to your knee.

P.S. N started school today! I have bittersweet feelings about this. It will certainly be quieter, which is both good and bad. There will be more time for me to work on my projects (though I have a feeling M is working on dropping his morning nap soon), which is good. And, as my mom reminded me the other evening, I've never not liked quiet time (apparently, when my sister was still napping, but I no longer was, she used to send me into my room for quiet time and I very happily played quietly with my books and toys for lengthy periods of time).

M is getting to be very mobile and loves to explore, and we will most certainly get out and do lots, but he's still in the baby talk, and, well, I'm going to miss N! Sure, there'll be less toddler tantrums, and there will be more time for M, but, there will also be less N.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Freelancing Fun: Sunrise Shoot at Lakeview Lake

What I won't do in the name of clothes, I sometimes wonder. This time, it was leaving my house at 5:30 am on a Saturday morning to drive to Lakeview Lake, outside of Lawrence, for a gorgeous sunrise photo shoot at this charming little lakeside community.

Established in 1892, complete with a clubhouse, this little place reminded me of the bungalows on Chappaquiddick Island up on Martha's Vineyard, or lake camps in the Catskills - built as a place for Kansas City aristocrats to hunt and fish and get away from the bustle of city life.

Not a high fashion shoot, but fun nonetheless; I was working with Sara, the photographer, and a model couple, Ben and Crystle, and we shot everywhere from on a 1970's green pontoon boat (pretty awesome) to rickety docks and an old screened-in porch.

Here are some of the photos I took:
Sara scoping out the docks.
There was a huge storm the night before, so Sara didn't quite get the sunrise light she was hoping for, but the mists were just gorgeous.

everyone at work!

Models going fishing


Of course, Sara's will be better, and I'll share more when I get some proofs from her. Not a bad way to start a Saturday, no?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Adventures in Nannying - Farmer's Market Fun!

The thing about nannying, or working with kids in any capacity I suppose, is that one day, you think, yes, I’ve got it! I have the baby, M, on my lap and I’ve fixed his bottle with one hand and am now feeding him, while eating ice cream with the other hand, and having conversations with an adult and M's two-year-old sister, N, all at the same time! I’m so good.

And then the next, you’re having an argument - a battle - no, a discussion with said two-year-old about how much toilet paper is the appropriate amount and yes, we need to pull up our panties and if you can’t do it yourself, then I will have to do it for you. And I know you like to do everything for yourself. (Except when you don't).

And when that happens, perhaps it’s time to just get out of the house. I try to have activities planned for them to do at least a few days out of the week, and in this heat, it’s generally been go to the pool or someplace indoors with air conditioning.

But, last week, we went to the farmer’s market. And, we loved it.

Now, the Old Overland Park Farmer's Market is someplace I've been going since I was a kid with my own mother - who I very often have to thank for all the ideas I've had so far as a nanny. It's a great place for N, because each week there's different foods to learn about, different colors to name, lots of things to count - for example, she really loves holding the money and helping me count it out.

Last week, swing/ hot jazz band the Grand Marquis were there, and, after we picked up some blueberries and peaches, N's attention was definitely drawn to the music up at the clock tower. So we went up, got M out of his stroller, and we danced - even M! - played in the splash fountain, snacked on farm-fresh blueberries - it was a perfect, lazy, late-summer morning. We didn't want to leave.

This week, though N searched, there were no blueberries, but she ate an entire peach (!) and helped pick out sweet potatoes and green beans. I bought some fresh basil for myself and while she didn't like the taste, she loved smelling the bunch. Dan Bliss was there playing blues and folk, and I think we were just about the last of the children to leave.

But on days like that, I don't mind if we get home to nap a little late. Developing their interests in music is so important and N has really come out of her shell with people around there, even asking another little girl to dance with her this time. And M, who is 11 1/2 months and very mobile, is having a ball "dancing" - wiggling a lot - and clapping with the audience.

N with a fresh locally grown peach, and Dan Bliss in the background.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Freelancing Fun: A Styling Job Comes My Way!

Sometimes, you have to give up shopping in order to save up to make your dreams happen. But, sometimes, the stars smile on you, and you actually get to shop...for a job! Sure, the clothes are for models, not you, but never mind that, it's still clothes and fashion and prettiness! Not to mention, fiscally responsible.

Really, if someone had said to me when I was 8 and "styling" my Barbies, you know, you can grow up and play dress up with real-life dolls and it's considered work, I would have said, you shut your mouth (probably, especially, given the odd outfits I'm sure Barbie was dressed in. Neon roller skates with princess dresses anyone?). It's always such a fun treat that I still get to do this from time to time.

It's been quite awhile since I've done any styling, but I'm really excited to get back into the game with a very talented photographer out of New York , Sara Forrest. We got together and did a shoot with a trio of dancers from the Kansas City Ballet and it turned out really lovely - not to mention, it was such a treat to be able to watch ballerinas twinkle their toes up close!

This time around, she's contacted me for a sunset/sunrise shoot outside of Lawrence, and the look is going to be pulled from the safari / global trend a bit, bohemian, light and airy - khakis, pale blues, oranges, and browns. I'm also thinking a little sun-bleached. And, since I've been really loving the neutral/khaki look, I might be pulling a few pieces from my own closet. The test is Saturday, so I've got to really get on my lookbook! Here's a little of what I'm thinking in these preliminary stages:
Leaning heavily on that Philip Lim blouse with Current/Elliot trousers in Look #4, in this collection of looks from local boutique, Standard Style.
From J.Crew, a perennial favorite.
Also, from J.Crew. Softness plus military styling.

Love the DVF ensemble in photo #1, in this collection of looks, also from Standard Style. Of course, always, always, always love DVF.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Beginning | Le Commencement

25 is looming ahead of me, like the unfortunate snowstorm that happens just after the hope and promise of the New Year (literally: my birthday is in the second week of January). And, while those older than me either laugh, or take offense at my concern about this milestone, for me, it’s, you know, the oldest I’ve ever been and ever felt, and it’s quite scary!

According to a budding psychologist friend, though, 25 is actually, “developmentally, quite exciting.” This is refreshing news. According to her, and having something to do with the frontal lobe, 25 becomes the year that decisions are more clearly made, paths more clearly defined. Things just click. Ambitions are met with the kind of drive and work it takes to achieve. I look forward to this (though I will still participate in the illusion that I am only celebrating my 24th birthday when the time comes).

So I’m starting 6 months early. This blog marks the beginning of my efforts to make it to Paris, city of lights, la ville du mode, and the place I’ve dreamed of returning to since I first spent a blissful weekend exploring its charms the summer before my senior year in college. Previous efforts have, well, been half-hearted. Why is this, one might ask? If it’s my dream, really, why is this? Honestly, I don’t know. There were other things in life to figure out first, perhaps.

But, so, this particular journey must begin with a sacrifice. It would be lovely and charming and all if I could just pick up and move to Paris, find some quiet little flat to live in and eat charming French food and speak charming French words and wear charming French clothes. But, the road since graduation has been a little bumpy. I am 24, a nanny, a freelance writer and marketer, a would-be fashionista, a dreamer, a baker, and, a little broke.

So, first step to Paris: give up shopping. Give up shopping to get to fashion mecca. Can it be done?

C'est moi, a Paris, at the Palais Garnier for the ballet, my first time in Paris.