high maintenance

Passing comments from unrelated friends in the past 24 hours has me wondering if perhaps I'm a freak.

One friend - not remotely high maintenance, as a human being I mean, mentioned she was getting her hair done. The other was facebook private messaging me, from Miami, while getting a mani and pedi. 

And a third friend was on her way to her salon to get a blow dry. 

I'm wondering if perhaps I'm not normal.

For starts: I do my own nails. I've ever had a pedicure, and my toes are pretty good, I guess. I've been doing them hot pink for like a year now. My nails, I change all the time, but I also do those on my own. One hand paints the other, so to speak. And not only do I blow dry my own hair, but half the time, I just let it dry naturally. In fact I haven't spent any money on my hair, apart from purchasing shampoo or conditioner (I SWEAR by conditioner, preferably Aussie 3 minute miracle, which I'm known to leave on between swims, for hours at a time). I cut my own hair with a scissor. Now mind you: I"m not saying this is a trick you should try at home, nor am I saying I'm doing a good job. I remember though that Jerry Hall - while being married to Mick - not only cut her own hair, but conditioned it - and her entire body - with olive oil.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I just don't get it about any of this. I don't understand the concept of a 'spa'. If someone, say, gifted me with a day pass at a spa, all I'd want to know is, does it have a pool/sauna/steambath, and if so, I'd bring my conditioner (see above) to compensate for the chlorine - or hopefully, they'd use that new salt based water, which is heaven - and I'd swim and swim and rest in the sauna til I was too hot and about to faint - as I did today - and swim some more. Then shampoo, conditioner, and hit the road, Jack.

But please don't come at me with beauty treatments, thank you very much. I don't like the idea of people I don't know poking and prodding me. Or pulling my hair.

Which leads me to the question: what is your idea of being pampered?

And that leads me to think of the idea of being high, or low, maintenance. I know this is just one superficial example. And the model shown here - backstage at London Fashion Week - I'm sure she can, and does, her own hair. This is work. This wasn't remotely relaxing, not in the context that I shot it. In fact the poor girl looked like she was being attacked. Which she handled with cool aplomb.

I'm just really thinking in terms of the concept of being high maintenance. I have friends who are single, and friends who are married or living with someone, and the difference has nothing to do with the texture of their hair. To a man, it seems to me that what men look for in women is are they high, or low, maintenance. Which leads me to the question: just who, exactly, are we doing all this for?



lu·mi·nos·i·ty (l m -n s -t ). n. pl. lu·mi·nos·i·ties. a : the quality or state of being luminous b : something luminous 2 a : the relative quantity of light b : relative brightness of something 3 : the relative quantity of radiation emitted by a celestial source (as a star)

We have a screening tonight in Leicester Square - Roman Coppola's short films, and I know nothing more than that (I like to go into things - films, especially - with no preconceived expectations) - and a little cocktail party first. And I was thinking (not too hard, mind you) about what I'd be wearing. And today - perhaps because it's been so grey, cold, wet lately - I"m in the mood for something luminous.

Yesterday, for example, I wore a three seasons old Topshop sequin motorcycle jacket over layers of fine grey tees, white jeans, lots of chains and things, and dressed it down with brown Chelsea boots. Tonight will probably be variations of the same.

Speaking of stars, this is Julia Restoin Roitfeld - Carinne's daughter - and I was seeing her a lot at fashion weeks, back when I was going (I'm on a break, you might have noticed). She's lovely, a nice girl with a lot of class and not a competitive bone in her body - why should she compete? - and we became quite friendly. If that's possible, during that circus. I think she sensed that we both feel the same about it all. Like we'd rather be home, alone or with our men, with a cup of tea and a nice book.

Took these shots within minutes of each other, at Waterloo Station for the Topshop Uniqlo show.. wow, must have been a year and a half ago now. But these kind of subtle colours, and metallics and, well, haha, LUMINOSITY, are the other look I'm craving at the moment. Like when there was all that 'nude is the new black' hysteria a few seasons back, I still love the subtleness of greys and beiges together - I can't bear grey with black, but pair it with neutral tones, and the greys start to feel blue and the beiges start going all peachy..

Those definitions of luminosity are fine - and Julia's, I suppose, a star, although probably in the scheme of things, a minor one - but I kind of like this definition best:

Luminous quality. The intrinsic brightness of a celestial object (as distinct from its apparent brightness diminished by distance).

It's about, I feel, that trick of the light: the appearance of something that is reflecting back light, but appears to be glowing from within.

I don't have a wish list. I'm not a wish list kind of woman: my cup is more than half full. My cup runneth over. But if my Fairy Godmother put a gun to my head and said 'you've got to wish for something, Punkin', I'd probably wish for luminescent grey green or violet blue eyes. Something I know I'm not gonna be getting. Not in this life.


pumpkin head

Is it just me: wasn't Thanksgiving meant to be the last Thursday of the month?

I nearly missed it this year: I was all psyched for next Thursday - living in London, it's not like everyone's talking about it - and if it wasn't for one of my many American friends happening to mention on Monday that she couldn't believe it was Thanksgiving already.. anyway, the thing about Thanksgiving is, it has nothing to do with nationality, or religion.

Anyone can own this holiday. All you need to do is cook. Or show up where someone else has cooked. You don't need to come bearing gifts. You just need to have an attitude of gratitude.

And this year we had the world's smallest Thanksgiving: just me, my husband, and the cat. Corn fed Devon 'freedom food' chicken (don't ask me what that means: I just hope she had a good life) roasted with garlic, butter, leaks and thyme, tons & tons of unbelievably wonderful stuffing - a whole giant souffle of stuffing - brussel sprouts with home made maple cured Danish ham and cream, braised fennel, thinly sliced raw fennel with olive oil and sea salt, roast potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks and fennel with rosemary,  spinach souffle, fresh spiced cranberry sauce with orange zest, baked sweet potato (which I forgot to serve, it's on the leftover menu tonight), and for dessert, two pumpkin pies - one shown here - vanilla ice cream, and dark chocolate with ginger.

Because I had been doing everything in such a chilled way, starting on Tuesday, dinner was smack on time - to the minute - with scented candles and Bach playing. Very grown up and civilised, until the husband and cat had so much roast chicken in their systems that they started going mental. Feral. Fighting and chasing each other all over the house, like kids at a birthday party on too much sugar, until they worked themselves into a stupor, and crashed. Deep asleep.

This year, starting with last New Year's Eve, I lost the three most important of the older men in my life since my father died. They weren't only my loss, of course: they were each deeply loved by their family, friends, and spouses. I have many friends who lost a parent or loved one. One friend, my best friend since childhood, Sheila Fein, a brilliant artist who lost her mother this year, became a grandmother herself, for the first time.

And all through this, I don't think I've seen more of an attitude of gratitude than I'm seeing and feeling all around me. All the toxic friends - and family - seem to have melted away. They can go off being nasty to someone else. All I'm surrounded with now are loved ones, friends old and new, who feel the way I do about life. About what matters.

Today, in yoga class, our teacher spoke quietly, while we were breathing at the end of class, and asked us to picture the Middle East. Picture children laughing, free, on both sides of the wall. To picture peace. Lasting peace.

I haven't lost the people I lost: they are with me, all the time. The only thing that is lost, when Sandy first blasted her way onto the Eastern Seaboard, are the bottom 100 feet of the wooden stairs leading to my father's beach. They told my mom, who was safely in Florida, before the storm even hit, the stairs were gone. I pictured them, 100 feet of wooden stairs, floating off to sea, like Noah's Ark.

But that is the worst that happened. When Sandy left, a neighbour told my mother she could see a rainbow reaching down and touching the roof of her house. And the beach is still there. Waiting for our return.


blanc: juxtaposition

Perhaps because I'm feeling pretty content these days, I'm going through another white phase. In what I wear, and in what I like to surround myself with.

But that's nothing new: I always go through stages of being really into white, especially as a strong contrast to black, with nude. And often, I'm realising, when summer ends, and dark wintry days start kicking in: white feels so fresh. I've rediscovered a great thick white cable cropped turtleneck with extra long, belled sleeves, which I'm pairing with everything: today it was tight, high waisted black riding trousers and my black Chelsea boots. Simple, clean, crisp. And (she feels compelled to say) this isn't a sponsored post, but I was recently gifted a bottle of white geranium & juniper BLANC moisturising hand cream, in a simple white dispenser, by The White Company. Which now resides on my (white) night table in our (mostly white) bedroom. And which I'm constantly applying, wafting off such delicious fresh floral scents it's actually giving my husband hay fever in November.

So while assembling a some white images for this post, I accidentally clicked on a shot I must have pulled offline: the second shot isn't by me. I think it's actually part of the series of Maison Martin Margiella for H&M. And the bag isn't even white. But I like the composition juxtaposition. And the coincidence, because the third shot IS by me, and it's also, coincidentally, MMM.

That's another thing about white: wearing white, being surrounded by white - especially with winter looming.. it's so calming, so meditative. In fact, I'm feeling so blissed out, as I type this, that I really do have absolutely nothing to say.

All photos by me, apart from the second one. From top: Rosalind, of Clothes, Cameras and Coffee, shot in Ludlow. Sandra's feet, (of 5 inch & up), in paper Maison Martin Margiella boots and shoes, Somerset House. Swan, Hyde Park, nature's own.


thinking about fashion: my fabulous little black chelsea riding boots

I was just thinking this rainy, grey, London morning, while my husband was doing two thirds of his triathlon training in the gym (running and cycling - he doesn't like swimming - he said between the two of us, we could do a triathlon), that I haven't been posting about fashion for ages.

Just because I don't post about fashion, doesn't mean I don't think about fashion. In fact - curious to find how often women think about fashion - I found these statistics in a refinery29 piece: on average, women think about fashion 91 times a day. Not 90, not 92, but 91.  Now, granted, that's women in the UK, and aged between 18 and 25 (presumably the number decreases with age - but judging by some of my friends, I'm not quite sure). And that's not counting women in some parts of the world who are dealing with, uh, survival, for example.

But it's still a lot more than men think about sex. Men, it turns out, don't think about sex nearly as much as we think they do: only 19 times a day - how ironic is that! The digits are reversed! - and nearly as many times as they think about food (18), closely followed by sleep: 11 times. None of which surprises me. Women think about all of the above less than men (see the Telegraph article if you want more details, I'm too lazy to quote it all now) but that's probably because they're too busy thinking about fashion.

Which is also why this new platform that's emerging - this LookBible, a kind of Pinterest but solely for fashion images - is so fascinating. It's currently invite only. But the guys who launched it, based on the discovery that their girlfriends are spending a lot of time online, thinking about fashion - are really nice, and if you ask politely, I'm sure they'll say yes.

I think a lot of the reason I'm thinking less about fashion at the moment is because my feet are sorted.

Shoes are so important: not as important, I guess, as survival, food, shelter, ELECTRICITY (as a lot of my NY/NJ/CT friends have discovered recently), or even sex, but they still really make or break a look. I bet the top of most women's wish lists (besides more, or better sex) is probably, at any given point, a certain pair of shoes.

And what's most important, once summer is over, is the right little black boots.

But I got that sorted, on holiday, on the North Fork of the end of Long Island. Because while my family's summer home doesn't have a town, a post office, or even a place to buy milk, it does have the cutest, 200 year old white clapboard church with pretty stained glass windows. And twice a week in summer, they have a thrift shop.

And I bought - for TWO U.S. DOLLARS - these black riding boots, seen above. Also called Chelsea boots - which my husband decided, out of the blue, that he wanted to revive, about four years ago - way before it became on trend (couldn't find them anywhere, gave up) - but now they are everywhere, in every variation.

Of course, had I not found those when I did, I could always find some alternatives. Clockwise from top left: Chloe, for £690, the glitter Miu Mius (£495),  those gorgeous Givenchy, at a whopping £800, and the quasi-dressage riding style 'leather monk-strap ankle boots' by Jil Sander (£535).

But my favourites of the Chelsea boot options are probably this lime-green soled black leather pair, with bright yellow zippers, from  Esquivel, a steal at £452.

Then there are so, so, many black boots, currently available at Net-a-Porter, that even if my fairy godmother said 'pick whichever you'd like, darling, it's on me' - even if my fairy godmother had a GUN TO MY HEAD, I'd still not wear them. I'm happy for Christian Louboutin that he's won the right to sue anyone selling red soled shoes, but sorry, Chris: red soles with black boots just doesn't float my boat. And I'm really not feeling the platform, cloven hooded silhouette anymore - certainly not with these designs. Even tho these are the more simple and conservative range of what's on offer, I'm starting to realise I don't really like boots with heels. Period. Is that just me? Where do you stand on the issue?

If anyone feels like whiling away a few hours - my God! it's after noon! - please send me a link (in the comments, or via email) or your favourites on the Net-a-Porter little black boots list.

And I realise I've mainly been focusing on Chelsea boots: there's a whole WORLD of options in the slouchy, or motorcycle, Cuban, or military boot range, which also appeals to the flat footed who walk amongst us. (Burberry, for example, did the PERFECT pair of ankle boots, and I do love the leather and snakeskin pair of ankle from Pierre Hardy: they're like the sixties boys' winkle pickers, slim and sexy) AND riding boots.. and let's not forget Wellies. But I think each of those deserve their own posts. I do, however, quite like the slouchy ones by Isabel Marant, £365, and while the Gucci 'brogue style Chelsea boots' are nice enough, at £495, are they really £493 nicer?

Which brings me back to my own incredible find.

I've since rubbed natural almond oil into them - they're as good as new, and fit like a glove. And a week after I found those at the church, someone donated the same pair in a beautiful shade of maple: a nice, nutty, warm brown. And then I kept finding these other amazing things.. a fabulous sixties coat, and a pale, lime green Barney's v-neck jumper... and a pair of black Converse, with the sweetest aqua and white trim..  I don't think I spent more than ten bucks in total.

So I am completely covered, style wise. It's like going thru a fresh lime phase, or sweet chili sauce: if you love something, you start to discover that there's nothing it doesn't go with. All I have to decide in the morning then, is which Chelsea boots to wear, and that's easy: if I'm wearing black, I go with the brown, and pretty much everything else, I wear with the black. This way I'm not too matchy matchy, but I'm bang on trend.

Which then frees me up to think about other things.


i am camera: sewlomax

This is such an amazing time to be alive.

Epic the-world-is-ending storms, and yet nearly everyone survives.. and then a Presidential election where the Fate of the Entire World is hanging on the balance.

But we all have our cross to bear: some friends are still without heat, or power, and some people have lost their homes.  Mine is that my camera broke. It is inoperable. I am in mourning, but have been assured by the lovely Greek man who tried to save it, Kriton Chris Krimitos, that the cause of death - while technically being the shutter breaking down - was really that I wore it down. I literally wore it into the ground, through use. Which heartens me somewhat: my Canon EOS (which sounds Greek actually) really did have a good innings.

But when God closes a door, He or She opens a window, and just I lost my camera, I received this lovely handmade bespoke camera bag from SEW LOMAX, which was created by Emma Lomax, and her site is the most adorable, clever, charming site I've seen in a long long time. (I shot this, incidentally, with my phone). And she sent it because she's good mates with the girlfriend of one of the two Toms who are behind LookBible.

Which is pretty friggin' amazing. Just at a time when the world is seeming rather Biblical - what are the odds? - LookBible is launched.

LookBible, for those who don't yet know about it, is an invite-only social platform, recently launched, which is purely for fashion and trends - like a private Pinterest, only better. I had been feeling rather.. flat lately, about blogging - I have all these photos I want to show, but I don't have the time to post, or to visit all the blogs I'd love to visit - but this is pure visual. With quick links to the post. And everything's connected by tags.. I'm really excited about it. I've only just started loading photos - it's so easy, you have your own button.. I'm too delirious from seeing the election results at a party at the American Embassy here in London to properly explain: sorry, I'm not making any sense, but just go to the site, and ask for an invite. Tell them that Jill sent you. 



Last August, while visiting our friends in Tranquility, New Jersey, they surprised us the first morning with a treat: a day trip to the Jersey Shore. They've know me forever, and know that heaven for me is swimming in the waves, and it was a perfect beach day. Even Maryann went in the water.

At one point, when my husband and Jim and Maryann took a walk around to see the houses in Ocean Grove (they're beautiful, multi-coloured Victorian wood sculptures - and Jim's an architect who's worked on several of them) I was frolicking in the waves, diving over and over until my head was clear of all thought - just pure energy - and suddenly, the sky turned dark.

This is a dream I've had - over and over, all my life. A perfect beach day, and suddenly, the world is about to end. And I try to tell the people at the beach 'it's not too late, we can still swim'.. sometimes in the dream, everyone is on the beach, afraid, and we're watching a giant wave moving in from the horizon, out of scale with anything you'd ever see.. in one of the dreams, I walked out into the water, and made it recede.

I've had these kind of premonitions before: I woke up in the middle of the Christmas night, before the Boxing Day tsunami, at the exact moment, it turned out, that it was hitting the first shores. I was dreaming of waves. And 9/11, I was at the beach of the Hurricane Hotel, near Tarifa, Spain, but that's another story. I know I'm not alone in having these feelings.. do you get them?

My heart breaks when I think that this pier might be gone, the houses.. this bird, who I had practically tamed, feeding him by my beach towel, I hope he was able to shelter from the storm.. the photos came out this bright, but even as it was happening, the day felt surreal, like a dream.



This is real.

Apparently this photo is real.* And once again: I didn't take this photo.

In the aftermath of Sandy, I am hearing story after story from friends that I love like family, amazing stories, focused always on how lucky, how grateful, and they're off helping someone less fortunate.. one friend, one of my closest friends from childhood, Linda, works in an ER. She said not everyone's been handling it so well, and has told me some of the really stupid or unkind things people are doing. And I know I have a lot of catching up on my own real photography to post, but I like the number three, so I'm rounding this trilogy up with a shot I found online of Liberty, just as the eye of the storm was moving onto New York.

Pretty unreal, huh? But all of this feels like a dream.

*It's not. It's a fake, gone viral, and I fell for it! Thank you, my dear friend Stephanie of Odyssey, for setting me straight. But then again - this isn't the first time.