The Dylan

clean, refine, edit

I’ve been squirreled away at home in Buffalo in total nesting mode cleaning and organizing every surface and cavity in site. After a summer of non-stop travel, or was it six months of travel, it’s divine to be in one space. 

The pause won’t be long, I’m off to London soon to celebrate Thanksgiving in an Airbnb with third and fourth daughters, the third finishing up her semester abroad, the fourth simply wanting to be with her sister after not seeing her for way too long. We might roast a bird, we might not, perhaps we’ll simply treat ourselves and go out for Indian food. 

I can make a mess pretty much anywhere, bathroom at The Dylan Hotel

The cleaning binge is fueled by both need and desire. Need because it just has to be done and desire because I’m always a better human when my space feels good. Also, once December hits it will be non-stop shenanigans, so November is my month to get prepped. 

In early December husband and I will be hosting a ‘Holiday Salon’ for local theatre company Irish Classical Theatre, and the invite has this charming excerpt from its upcoming production A Child’s Christmas in WalesPoem by Dylan Thomas:

            ‘I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.’

I feel this, today as I write the snow is falling down and I’ve barely left the house in the last week and one day is leading into the next and I’m really not sure exactly what day it is. 

Dylan Thomas is one of my husband’s favorite poets. While in The Netherlands in September we stayed two days and two nights at The Dylan Hotel Amsterdam, I was enthralled. 

The original parcel of land where the hotel sits was purchased in 1617 by Samuel Coster. Coster was interested in plays, dramas, and poetry, and he built a wooden theatre which was later replaced by the first stone theatre in Amsterdam, and in The Netherlands. In 1772 there was a horrific fire, destroying many lives and the theatre itself, leaving only the doorway that still stands and serves as the main entrance gate today. 

original stone structure

It’s a gorgeous doorway, and a gorgeous hotel. Through renovation and re-design there are four different room styles, and two restaurants, one being a Michelin star

restaurant menus, my kind of window boxes: simple
small courtyard
ready to ride

Everything about the place could serve as my inspiration board, and it’s visiting places like this that make me want to clean, refine, and constantly edit the home spaces I inhabit. 

It’s also never ending, the keeping of a house, six days, twelve days, six months, thirty-two years, whatever. For now, I’m just tucking in, knowing I’ll resurface. We have things to do, places to go, people to host. 

still warm here

white tee under black slip dress

We’ve been on a bit of a tour (London, Amsterdam, Glasgow), and I’ve been wearing pretty much the same thing. Black dress, black jacket or sweater (or jumper!) white tee, boots and a sandal, all set, go anywhere. I have to bring a sandal or a Birkenstock, happy feet, happy day. While boots always look better in September, sandals simply feel better.

Out of Office

early morning sun

Summer 2019 in our Northern Hemisphere ends astronomically on Monday September 23rd and I’m holding on tight. 

Fifth child is off to the UK for her junior year semester abroad and we dropped sixth child at Providence College in RI for her sophomore year. Husband looks forward to and expects regular phone calls and texts from the sophomore, and she is not obliging. Older siblings report she’s on a bit of the party circuit, probably doing exactly as the same as the majority of the college population first week or so of back to school. When pressed she simply typed back on her iPhone to dear dad: THRIVING. Good for her. 

Four older kids are easing into adulting, all doing it in their own unique way, the world is good. 

This is the first-time husband and I have experienced what some call an ‘empty nest’, and I must say I enjoy the benefits. 

Last fall our second daughter had debilitating health issues and she remained at home with us while we assembled an exquisite care team to help see her through. She has come out of the abyss and is rebuilding her life. When your child suffers, she doesn’t suffer alone, we all felt the pain. 

So now, with a little newfound autonomy, we’re kind of landing where we want to land- and I’ve been a little more than ‘out of office’.

Black Point Inn
sandy quiet beach
rugged coastline
cliff walk

We’ve been in Boston MA and took a short road trip to Maine to revisit the coast we used to vacation on thirty-four years ago as singles. It was beautiful. Our stay at Black Point inn offered the best of both worlds, sandy beach and gentle bay on one side, and rugged gorgeous cliffs, rocks and surf on the other. Our room was old school, (like the food), and we spent hours simply looking out the windows and enjoying the view. 

lobster Benedict, food was okay

I chose lobster on the regular, lobster benedict for breakfast, lobster roll for lunch, and lobster ravioli for dinner. The wine pours were generous, it all made me happy. 

Ten hours of driving and back on the home front and of course I had to clean out the fridge, details, and then prepped for Labor Day weekend company. 

all this gorgeous color
can they get any better?
peppers and onions
starting to simmer
stirring in the minced thyme

I find solace in the kitchen and have learned to love an organized mise en place. Husband still can’t get his arms around my preoccupation with good food and what’s next for dinner- not sure if that thing about me will ever stray. 

On the style front I have things from summer I haven’t even worn yet, shame, and have started to slowly move towards fall, incorporating more fall ‘looks and feels’ into the rotation. 

We have a trip to London, Amsterdam, and the Scottish highlands on the very near horizon, and for this I bought a natty plaid pant suit, two cashmere sweaters, a pair of Italian stretch suede pants, two merino wool sweaters, a wide brown leather belt , and a gorgeous pair of black boots. They are all lined up and waiting to be put on the ‘packing rolling rack’, a system I designed that works exceptionally well when culling the closet for travel. 

smashed red potato salad with red onion and dill
ratatouille

Today we’re at the country house, and yesterday I made delicious dill potato salad and classic French ratatouille. Yesterday I made scratch blueberry pancakes and the day before that a blueberry pie, triple batch of Bolognese, scratch Caesar dressing, garlic croutons and chocolate chip cookies. You could say I like to feed those around me. 

Essie polish | Geranium

We will be vacillating between city and country, sleeping where we want to sleep. 

Professionally I’m debating whether to jam in a short quick fall trunk show this month of September, or simply go full out for the one on deck October 12thto the 22nd. I’ve also got a talk on the line for an upcoming wellness workshop, ‘Creating a Beautifully Balanced Lifestyle’ where I will be speaking about how to ‘Reignite Your Style and Confidence’, very good stuff. 

This post has been kind of a brain dump, if you’re reading this far, wow, and thank you. I love that with age now I know I can take time off and that I will do what needs to be done when the time calls for it. For now, we’re still soaking up the warmth…every day dress.

black white and blue in Chicago

beautiful blue sky, and we walked miles
black dress, white sneakers, white bag outside of Carlisle | Per Se showroom
The Burberry building caught our eye, great looking, and nice things inside

Predictably one of my favorite color palettes is black, white, and shades of blue, (hello Caroline). For touring around the beautiful city of Chicago wore a black silk maxi dress, white sneakers, and carried a white bag, it felt right for a summer city look. That long dress endured 17k steps, up and down and all around the miracle mile, river walk, and even held up for the late afternoon flight home. I’m not afraid in the least of outfit repeat, wore that same dress the night before with a pair of sandals for dinner down in Lincoln Park at North Pond.

the view outside our room
morning room service
we had a suite, home away from home
I spy three handsome men :), and he is all of them

We stayed at The Langham, and absolutely loved it. Great gym, spa, food, room, service and location, would return in a heartbeat.

If you’re in Buffalo you can shop the L’Agence dress locally at Tony Walker & Co., everyone on the floor is helpful, my particular favorite is Lexi.

Every day dress and black, white, and blue while in Chicago.

duty free pick-up

I’m not much of a regimented beauty routine devotee, one of my things is washing my face at the kitchen sink with dish soap and then drying it with the towel that’s attached to my apron. 

A few things that I do love are a black kohl eye pencil, black mascara, and a good eye makeup remover to take the whole smudge thing off with, dish soap doesn’t seem to work well for the eye area. I’ve tried several, and always come back to Chanel

I also like to even out my skin tone with a good foundation as I’ve done a bit of damage from, I know it’s bad a life-long sun worshiper. 

Getting out the door for travel is tough, getting out the door when you’re leaving for a month makes me completely scattered, and likely to overpack while also forgetting a few things. 

The white bag? (similar one here) A gift from the husband. Whenever I carry this, I double wash my hands before and while using it and never put a pen of any kind in there, that would be disaster. I’m even careful with lipstick picking one that doesn’t have too much pigmentation because I’m always in a hurry and I would probably smudge on the bag. 

These are my recent duty-free cosmetic pick-ups and they’ve been great.

eating and drinking in France

room with a view

Yesterday morning I broke a piece of baguette and smeared it with French butter and then soft ripe cheese and then topped it with local honey, it was sublime. I’m drinking small cups of espresso, forgoing the tall American coffee, and usually indulging again at half past three. 

everyone helps for dinner in

Second son’s girlfriend says le vin rosé is like water, and you know how you’re supposed to get in eight full glasses of that. 

on our way to town to gather supplies
we did have lunch at this Michelin star restaurant L’Aubergine
okay, so I took this photo, daily run to market

Booie asked me where the pantry is in the kitchen and I replied, ‘no pantry, we buy what we need and will use on the daily’. 

petit déjeuner on the lawn for six

We started with a party of six, grew to eight and then ten, and now back to eight, and on Thursday we will be five. We’ve been gone three plus weeks now, on holiday with really nothing to do, simply enjoying one another’s company in this beautiful country of France. We are blessed, and the husband is the triple gold star. 

prepping for dinner in

I’ve been cooking as most times we prefer staying in and accustoming myself with an electric cooktop and an oven I don’t understand, but that’s okay. Everything makes me think, even the every day run to the market where I have to navigate the carts, and the checkout. 

The first half of the trip I was fairly disciplined with the workout routine and now as we’re getting ready to head home, I’m savoring every lazy hour of undriven bliss. 

and the sun goes down

We’ve been eating and drinking in France, and that’s a very good thing. All photos here by Maxwell Collins, on Instagram @maxyny.

a holiday writing retreat in Andalusia, Spain

For an entire week my daughter Sarah and I wrote, read, walked and meditated while at a beautiful rustic farmhouse in Andalusia, Spain. 

Finca Buenvino
the terrace where we would gather for tapas
top of a walk
on the farmhouse property
Elaine, in the orange puffer, on one of our many walks

We were there for Elaine Kennett’s sessions of Write-it-Down, one of her many writing workshops. She’s a warm, intelligent, energetic, full of wit dynamic leader. The writing was tough at times, and made you stretch and go places you might not go on your own. One of our group called it ‘absolutely life affirming’, and I agree. 

the corner for tea
Sarah writing on our last morning

Our days were full- sunrise meditations overlooking the hills of sweet chestnut and cork oak followed by a seated breakfast at 9 am. Writing began around 10, every day was different as long walks were figured in as well. We worked in chunks, usually around three hours at a time, and religiously broke for lunch at 2:30 pm, served in the garden. There was always wine. 

seated lunch in the garden, local rose
three delightful meals every day

After lunch we would work on our assignments, most often poolside. We would regroup around 5 or 6 pm to read aloud our pieces and write some more. The evening session would usually round out at half past seven, and tapas were served at 8:30pm, followed by a lovely seated dinner in the formal dining room at 9 pm. Again, much to my delight, there was always wine. You could linger over tea and fireside conversation afterwards, Sarah and I usually ducked out early for a little extra sleep time. 

walking about town
one of our excursions to a local cafe

We were hosted by Jeannie and Sam Chesterton, the absolutely adorable owners of Finca Buenvino, their family home of more than thirty years. Sam would taxi us about, picking us up in Seville, dropping us for lunch or a visit to the Hammam, and taxied us to the airport at the end. He also served as bartender for tapas and offered up a pretty brilliant gin and tonic. Jeannie and her son Charlie ran the kitchen, coordinating three delightful meals per day for our group of eight. 

Sam made floral arrangements from the gardens
the pool house where we would have writing sessions
all rooms had small arrangements

I can’t say enough about Elaine, she is the epitome of an evolved human, reinventing herself through life’s inevitable twists and turns, and she is magnificent. She turns seventy this September and has no qualms about sharing her age or her desires for creating her enriched and magical lifestyle. She can hike with the best of them, leads effortlessly and is endlessly supportive. She will return to Finca Buenvino late summer with her three adult children and closest friends to celebrate what I have no doubt will be a most beautiful week. Happy 70th birthday Elaine and wishing you many returns of the day. 

Thank you for encouraging us all to write it down.