Happy New Year! I know I’m a few weeks late, but as usual the holiday season came and went in a whirl of glitter and music and left me exhausted trying to catch up. I had a couple of December vacations thrown in the mix this year too, which added a little more chaos. I’m not complaining, though. I’m a very lucky girl. The month of December was filled with fun and I enjoyed every moment. Then I came home from my final vacation and slept for 24 hours straight. Seriously, 24 hours. I could win a gold medal in sleeping.

The only problem with sleeping, is it’s a little challenging to take pictures. So now, I am wide awake and ready to welcome 2013. This will be my first full year as a full-time photographer and I am so excited to get it started! I have been brainstorming and collaborating with some of my favorite creative peeps and have some very exciting projects in the works.

I’ll also be traveling in 2013! I’ll be in Austin in late February and in Southern California in early April. I’ll post details and more Spring 2013 travel dates soon. If you want me to come to your city, send me a message and let me know!

Most importantly, I will finally start blogging regularly. I have a feeling it’s going to be a busy year, but now that I’ve had plenty of sleep I’m ready to tackle it.

~~~sunshine peeking through the snowy clouds in Park City, Utah on New Year’s Eve~~~

I was in Austin in September visiting some of my favorite people on the planet and celebrating my niece Cate’s 1st birthday. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Austin in September, but it’s hot. And humid. Walk outside and wonder why you bothered to shower kind of weather. Nevertheless, my BFF and I were determined to do a photo shoot with her two little girls, whom I adore. We had all kinds of elaborate intentions to have skype sessions beforehand to plan out this shoot, and then life intervened and before we knew it I was leaving Austin in two days and we hadn’t taken photos or planned a thing.

So while driving in her blissfully air-conditioned SUV to pick up the girls from school, we came up with  a plan. We assesed our assets.

She had: Bags of feathers, handmade shirts by BFF (she’s super crafty and has some cool stuff in the works), tulle skirts by Jack n Molly and headbands by Birdie Baby Boutique, and the girls’ favorite wellies (oh, and two gorgeous daughters).

I had: a paper umbrella, a lace tablecloth and a camera.

We picked up the girls from school and let them have some chill time while we prepped for the shoot. And the weather. It was 106 the day we shot this and we dressed the girls in long sleeves! But they looked amazing!!!

Our location was a local park. The first spot we scouted we quickly discovered was already occupied by a homeless man. Not exactly the setting we had in mind. We continued our search and found another, unoccupied location. Despite the heat, the girls were in great spirits when we started the shoot. I knew we had to move quickly (we did the whole shoot in 30 minutes).

Here is Paisley. This girl has a special soul. I can’t  begin to tell you how precious she is to me. She was my first niece and therefore the first little girl I got to spoil. She is so intelligent, sweet, compassionate, thoughtful and creative. We played “mermaid/Paris/Fairy Party” together while I was visiting. How could you not like a game like that?

Oh, and I did not retouch her eyes. They’re just that stunning.

I asked Paisley to come up with her own pose and she didn’t hesitate to strike one… Here’s Miss Maggie. She looks sweet and sugary, but this little one has spice! Maggie is curious, silly, assertive, enthusiastic and carefree. She has more energy than that famous pink bunny and is a joy to be around. When I asked her to strike a pose, I got this…work it girl.  Paisley is such a good listener and a great big sister. She was giving Maggie lots of encouragement throughout the shoot. It was so sweet to watch. Maggie gave a little love too. Now we’ll get to the feathers. To keep the girls engaged, we told them there was a surprise during the shoot. So once we had the initial shots done we surprised the girls with a feather fight! Doesn’t Austin have the prettiest trees? They are truly magical. After the feather fight, we were all dripping with sweat. The girls were playing ‘bride’ with the lace while we cleaned up the feathers. Despite the heat, we had an amazing afternoon. I can’t wait until my next trip to Austin to see what we come up with next. That trip will definitely be in the Spring though, I’d prefer not to wring out my bra with sweat again.

It’s taken me a while to get into blogging again. But I am finally getting around to sharing the recap of my favorite day of the year, Thanksgiving. Exactly one week later. Not too bad.

As a child, I remember thinking of Thanksgiving as the boring holiday. I mean, it wasn’t Columbus Day boring, but my childhood self couldn’t quite comprehend what the adults got out of the day. Getting all dressed up just to eat a multi-course meal that requires multi-hour prep and clean up? And no presents? That was not my childhood ideal of fun. And eating turkey? No way! (I am a reformed vegetarian).

Yet somehow as I got older, the holiday started to make sense. A relaxing day to spend with the people I love, indulging delicious food and treats and plenty of wine? Sign me up! Heck, I’ll be the hostess. The past nine Thanksgiving days, that’s exactly what I’ve been, the hostess. Our parties started simple and small, sometimes as few as two guests. As our parties started to increase in size (the number of guests has fluctuated from just two all the way to twenty two) they started to increase in planning and preparation. In 2009, we went completely crazy and started assigning a theme to each year that would guide the decor, sometimes the menu and of course the attire.

You can see previous celebrations here:

2008: No theme, this was a mellow year

2009: The Kiddy Table (here, here and here)

2010: A Magical Thanksgiving in the Enchanted Forest

2011: The Great Gatsby (here, here, and here)

and for 2012 our theme was “The 1950’s celebrates the First Thanksgiving”. A little strange, I know. But we’re a little strange. Plus, I really wanted an excuse to wear a gorgeous vintage dress I bought in London. Sadly, I got not a single picture of me in that dress. I never seem to take enough pictures of my parties. It’s so frustrating! I’m always to absorbed in hosting and having fun. I did manage to get a few pictures of the table as the sun set.

 

Each year we make a different Indian headband. This year’s ric rac and pheasant feather headband was such a hit! I used the adorable vintage champagne glasses that Teddy & Robin gave me last year. Thanks boys! I also used my vintage amber glass collection. I started collecting it a few years ago and add a few new pieces each year. The clear water/wine glasses are from a restaurant supply store. You can easily rent these, but I love having my own. Their cheap, simple and extremely durable and such a nice alternative to plastic for large groups.

 

These adorable Pie Jars were desserts/favors made by our lovely friends Haven & Denny. They were so delicious I can’t describe. I will try to get the recipe to share with you, they would be great holiday gifts/favors. The fabric used on the jars and as the basis for our whole color scheme, was scored by Haven on eBay. Such a gorgeous vintage find. She bought it with my vintage amber glass in mind and it looked fabulous together. In addition to the pie jars, we incorporated the fabric to several elements including banners, coasters for the dinner glasses and borders for the menus.

Here’s the whole table.

I found all the wheat and leaves on sav-on-crafts. Their site is a little difficult to navigate, but they have great deals and a huge variety of decorating items for parties.

I love, no adore vintage things, but I don’t like too much kitsch. I wanted our 1950’s inspired celebration to be elegant and modern. So I wanted to incorporate an element of mid-century design. I found these candelabras online at Tar-jay, but they were only available in store. I knew that my Tar-ghetto would not have them, so I sent my Southern California mom a picture and she scored four for me. On clearance! Yay mom!

The past few years, I’ve been renting quite a few things from a party supply company. It is so nice! They bring you everything you need the day before, or even two depending on the company and pick it all up the day after…wait for it…DIRTY! Yes, they take back your dirty linens, glasses, flatware, dishes, all of it. Which of course means, less clean up for you! I wish I had discovered rentals sooner in my life. They have been life changing.

Each place setting was marked with a glittered monogram napkin ring (also from sav-on-crats). I used simple unfinished napkin rings and glittered little wooden letters (from amazon) then combined the two with my trusty glue gun. They were a hit! All the ladies were wearing them as cocktail rings by the end of the evening.

Here’s a group pic we snapped just before dinner. I am so thankful that we did this. We have never taken a group photo at Thanksgiving before, shame on us. I love this and hope we can make it a tradition.

 

Here are some of this year’s stats:

Adults: 18
Babies: 1
Thanksgiving 1st timers: 2, a baby and a Brit
Moms: 1 (but she’s everyone’s really, we love you Mama Ruth!)
Red Heads:3
Turkeys:2
Hams:1
Pounds of Creamed Corn: 6
Desserts: 12? I didn’t get the final count, but there were tons! Pies, pie jars, apple bread, brittle, and a tray of cookies and
confections made by our lovely friend Teddy, who become a cookie elf this time of year. Seriously, we may need to have an
intervention with him soon about the number of of cookies he bakes.
Bottles of wine/champagne consumed:24 Impressive, no?
# of times the word ‘Thankful’ was said: Infinity. Everyone had plenty to be thankful for.

How 1950’s is that ham?! Thanks Mama Ruth!

I set the timer for this shot, but didn’t tell anyone to look so I’m the only one looking at the camera. 🙂 Notice they moustketeers? They won the golden turkey for the best costumes. Yes, we give awards too.

I always love our guests, and I’d be hard-pressed to choose my favorite Thanksgiving, but this year was an exceptionally awesome group. We had so much fun and a dance party too! It was a perfect evening. I think we did the Pilgrims, Indians, and 1950s proud. Thank you to all of my wonderful friends who help put this night together (especially La and Teddy), all of my amazing guests for being so ridiculously fun and rad, and most importantly to my patient husband, who watches every year at Thanksgiving as I become possessed with the spirit of Martha Stewart, planning and crafting for weeks, sometimes months, in advance. His patience, support and love keep me going and help me do things I never thought possible. Which brings me to what I am most thankful for this year, my new career! Just a year ago, I didn’t think it would be possible to leave my stable, established career and start my own business in an unrelated field and yet somehow it’s happening. That’s not to say it has been easy or that I don’t wake up most mornings thinking, what the heck am I doing? But I have never been happier and that is definitely something to be thankful for.

After the hype over Hurricane Irene, most of us New Yorkers were very hesitant to believe that this “superstorm” they were reporting Sandy to be would actually come to fruition. But we learned…never underestimate the weather. As I write this I am already safe in California, my planned visit /business trip undisturbed by Sandy’s efforts.  I came out of this perhaps a little shaken but completely unharmed. Our neighborhood flooded terribly as near as two blocks from our building, but our apartment never lost water or power.

Despite our reluctance to believe that the storm would be serious, we were prepared with all the supplies we needed and settled in to watch the storm from our windows on the 29th floor. A little crazy, I admit. As the wind continued to pick up and we could actually feel our building sway, we started to realize that this storm would be more serious than we had thought. One of the scariest parts of the storm for us, was watching our upstairs neighbors patio furniture fly from the 30th floor down to the Manhattan Bridge (see the slideshow below for pics). Strangely, my first instinct was to run toward the window to see what it was. When I realized how large it was, I quickly ran away from the windows. Why the neighbors didn’t do a better job to secure it is beyond me (a few expletives came to mind). The electrical transformers exploding all over the city and New Jersey also provided a frightening sight illuminating the sky with fluorescent lights that made it seem like bombs were being dropped. Then the power went out in lower Manhattan and the city seemed eerily calm and quiet.

Meanwhile, inside and cozy we weathered the storm with lost of wine and homemade, organic chicken pot pies. We stayed safely inside and ventured out only the next afternoon to assess the damage. As I said, we were lucky. Many of our friends were without power and/or water, some still are, but they are safe and otherwise unharmed. Some of our best friends lost both power and water and have a small baby. Luckily they have a car and we welcomed them to our apartment with open arms, and more homemade soup.  It was such a little thing to help friends, but we were happy to do it. Their power has since been restored and our friends returned home on Saturday.

There are so many who were much less fortunate than we were and my heart goes out to them in their time of distress. Some people lost their homes, belongings and worse their loved ones. The recovery will be long and difficult. The Red Cross is accepting donations to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. You can click here to help.

This slideshow is of images I took in our neighborhood the afternoon after the storm. Including a close-up of the now infamous patio table on the Manhattan Bridge, shown next to our building (the tall glass one) for some perspective as to how far it fell.

Nearly six years ago I started a personal blog to keep our family and friends up to date on our lives in New York City. I wrote about anything and everything I felt like and found I enjoyed it far more than I ever expected to.

When I launched my photography business, I knew I needed a blog but it just didn’t seem feasible to keep three blogs going (I also have a daily blog with my BFF, (Dear BFF). I also wasn’t convinced my blog name, {sexy}Apartment was appropriate for my business. I don’t want people getting the wrong idea about the type of photos I take (wink, wink). So I decided to retire {sexy}Apartment and wrote my final post.

The logical next step would have been to jump right in and start posting here, but I struggled with what to write and even more how to write it. Could I still be personal and share my thoughts? Could I still be sarcastic and share my quirky insights? After a few days of thinking, I decided to answer to both questions is YES. I am me and I am not going to alter or censor that for the purposes of this blog (or anything for that matter).

So take a seat, bookmark this page and come back often because I am finally coming out of my shell. And if you want to know a little more about me, you can find that old blog here. Or if you’re lazy (and I’m not one to judge) you can just read the list below. Back in the old school blogging days people used to tag each other to write all kinds of crazy lists about themselves as a way to get to know each other. So here is my list of Twenty Things About Me. They may shock you, frighten you, or bore you, but they’re all there and they’re all true. I’m not tagging you to write your own list, but you can leave a comment on this post if you’d be so kind and let me know if there are any topics you’d like to see me discuss in future posts.

  1. I am a natural blond, but prefer my hair red
  2. I am not, never have been, never will be, a morning person
  3. I love food in general, but my favorite is sushi
  4. I think all beverages are better bubbly
  5. I’ve been married 10 (mostly) glorious years, since 02.02.02
  6. I am the oldest of 5 and the only girl
  7. I was a vegetarian the first 25 years of my life, then I met bacon
  8. It was my lifelong dream to live in NYC and 8 years ago I made it a reality
  9. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and I throw a huge, themed party every year for all of my friends
  10. I don’t really like movies, unless they were made before 1970, I think The Sound of Music is the best movie ever made
  11. I adore live performances, theatre, ballet, philharmonic, opera, concerts…all of it
  12. I can see the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty from my window, this view does nothing for my tendency to procrastinate, as I could stare out the window all day long
  13. I worked in the beauty industry for 16 years (starting as a makeup artist and ending in Global Makeup Marketing for one of the largest cosmetics companies in the world)
  14. I’m half Ukrainian, my grandparents immigrated to the US in 1951
  15. I hate working out (and sweating in general) but love yoga and skiing
  16. My retirement dream is to own an apartment in Paris, my pre-retirement dream is to own a cabin in the Catskills
  17. My BFF and I met through our husbands who have been friends since high school
  18. I adore children, but have chosen not to have any of my own
  19. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, and although I’ve conceded to downloading magazines on my ipad, when it comes to books I want the real thing in my hands
  20. I LOVE taking peoples’ pictures!

 

I thought this post could use a picture, so I decided to give you a little treat. One thing I didn’t mention on the list is that I used to be a performer. This pic is from a production of Anything Goes I did 15 years ago. I played Reno Sweeney and was so excited about my sparkly red tap shoes. I met some of my best friends in the world in the cast of that show and I am so happy to say we’ve stuck together after all these years. I’ve never blogged this pic before, so this is an internet first. Why this pic? Because it reminds me to be fearless, do what I love, and sing as loudly as possible. xox,

Summer

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