personal

Painting the Picture with TMI

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

I was just having a very passionate paint moment….really, I was. Corine Ingrassia was begging (in her adorable way) for help with the palate for her biggest project to date, her new home. I jumped up as fast as I could and said “pick me, pick me” – and really, I was not kidding. And really, I was armed with all my Benjamin Moore loyalty and tools — ready to roll (paint roll that is).

That got me thinking — how many other brands had me at hello? Who has made my super-short list of brands that get my signature swoon and preferential passion? I drafted the list.  And then I started wondering, what exactly does this say about me? Let’s see:

Fresh

Benjamin Moore

The Moth

Bedford Cheese Shop

Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask

The Dry Bar

Starwood Hotels (all about the W, Union Square but I am a loyal girl)

Ok so super smart people — what ever does this TMI say about me?

 

Thankful

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

  • I am thankful for those who have cared for me when I have needed it. And for those who allowed me to care for them when the tables were turned.
  • I am thankful for new friends who bring fresh energy and light to the day.  And for old friendships, either tireless or renewed, which remind me of the scope of the spectacular journey I have been on.
  • I am thankful for an abundance of intelligent, passionate and driven people in my life – you spark me, encourage me and challenge me in all the best ways.
  • I am thankful for those who turn me on to so many new ideas, finds and inside lines  - and always, I am grateful for the ability to return the favor.
  • I am thankful for health – the return of mine and for the optimism that those I love will regain theirs.
  • I am thankful for my family for cheering me on from here and the great “what’s next”.
  • I am thankful for my soul’s mate and for a house full of beautiful souls to go with him.
  • I am thankful for amazing genes that make so much of my dreaming morph into my reality.
  • I am thankful for love – the ability to give and receive it.
  • I am thankful for age – the intersection of experience and recognition is a remarkable one!
  • I am thankful for the little moments of perfection I keep finding along the way.
  • I am thankful that there is today and maybe even tomorrow to see what’s next…

Thanking all of you for being a part of my world – and so,  sending love to you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

JSB

So many precious things to be thankful for this year

Renior in Retrospect

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

I left Philadelphia in 1985. I was bright-eyed, ambitious and hungry for life’s experiences. I left behind friends and a way of life that would never be mine again. Though the way life works is funny, and sometimes these things circle back. The very sweet silver lining of loosing a beloved friend to a terrible disease this summer was reconnecting with a childhood friend in a new way. This weekend, Julie came to DC to bring her daughter to look at colleges. Funny circle that was created – my leaving point was our reconnection point. The power of that was not lost on me as I made plans for a day doing some of what I have always loved, followed by an evening reconnecting.

Bob and I made plans to visit my all-time favorite art-space in DC – The Phillips Collection. There, we would enjoy the Van Gogh exhibit –  interestingly enough called Repetitions (an exploration of Van Gogh’s repeated study of the same subject matter). It is a worthwhile show and a very engaging way to connect with some some of my favorite Van Gogh subjects (the towns of St. Remy and Arles as well as the families that filled his world).

 

Luncheon of the Boating Party (Renior)

As we wandered thought galleries on 21st Street, I made my way to another old and very dear friend. I have been visiting Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party  at the Phillips Collection since I arrived in DC in 1985. I have powerful memories of standing in front of this majestic, lush painting with my mother, my friends, various dates and certainly alone. I would dive deep into the narrative of the painting – paying close attention to the characters. I saw myself in the painting – that was clear. I was (or longed to be) the flirty, alluring woman in the top right. She had a twinkle in her eye was surrounded by two rapt men. She did not lack for company or attention. She did not lack for anything it seemed. Though yesterday when I stood in front of that painting, I allowed myself to look not though my old lens but with fresh eyes. And as I did, tears began to flow from my eyes as I realized with complete clarity that I was not that girl. I may have been, and that may have once worked for me – but that “moment” seemed far away.  I looked harder, wondering if I was even still at the party. And I was….my eyes connected with the woman sitting confidently alone, sipping her wine and taking in the scene with a quiet strength. This is the actress, Ellen Andree.  I did not realize that I was crying until the lovely, young docent walked over and asked if I was ok. I explained what I had been considering and she said clearly, kindly and with total conviction – “that is who you want to be – that other woman had a messy, complicated life — the actress was the best of the guests”.  I will take it…

This weekend was about revisiting. And while backwards is not my preferred trajectory – I am glad I did.

Ad Hoc it is…

Friday, October 26th, 2012

My son Sam asked for lamb tonight for dinner. I smiled. Friday nights at my grandmother’s home evoke the most remarkable memories — a feast for all my senses comes to life somewhere deep in my soul. I can see myself there — a little girl (maybe Sam’s age) sitting to her right (oh the coveted seat of the eldest granddaughter) as she presented the perfectly petticoated (yes, she put petticoats on her rack of lamb!!!) platter of succulent lamb, roasted vegetables and of course  - herself to the dining room full of family.  The silver is shining, the stately dining room is full of familiar faces , the  scents of roast rack of  lamb and my grandmother’s signature Ivory soap are in the air. That is how I remember our family and my grandmother’s dining room.

So good – lamb for shabbat, I am in! I know just where I will go to try something new. My dearest Lisa Bernstein had given us (as a most lovely wedding gift and thank you Lisa!) Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home — I want to dive in and see what I can play with there. So I grab Thomas Keller off the baker’s rack that houses my cookbook collection. This cookbook collection is one of my real-time intersections with Debbie Moses, Bob’s deceased first wife. She, like I, had a great passion for cooking (and many of the same chefs including Floyd Cordoz) and built a remarkable collection of books which I like to say we now share.

Thinking I was grabbing Ad Hoc I actually pulled Bouchon. As I opened the book to the index in the back, out came  tumbling a menu dated November 17, 2004 ( a year before Debbie passed away). This menu was from an event at Sur La Table (another passion we share) called Great Cooks and Their Books.  Debbie had met Thomas Keller at an event here in DC. Turning to the front – I found this was a signed copy. My eyes welled up with tears. The discovery was just so startling and jarring.

This whole of this moment was a harsh juxtaposition to where I have been this week on so many levels. It was a reminder of how very short, precious and delicious life really is and how it must be savored. And that, above and beyond a cookbook collection or a love of cooking – Debbie and I  share a deep love for, and commitment to the remarkable people who live in this home.  I don’t know what she would make of me or of this blended family I am carefully marinating, seasoning and sharing with the world. I don’t have a recipe. I am doing this ad hoc (as the title suggests) simply by being present – taking advantage of the bounty of season and of the moment. It  feels as though I am constantly making lemonade – some sweet and of course,  some sour. Sometimes I am preparing for a banquet and other times I am simply making do with scraps – really, it varies.  I do know that I am doing my best to do my best…and on this grey Friday in October, I will take it.

 

 

9/11 Blue

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

The sky is that color –  9/11 blue…I make my way to New York…remembering little bits of a big story that lives in my bones, forever. There were the towers, the PA crash, then a sniper that held DC captive for weeks. There were new security measures, new innovations on our privacy. So much loss – human loss, loss of dignity, loss of innocence. Was I really that young on 9/11/2001? Have I just aged the way a women on her way to 50 will?  I struggle to remember life before all of this fear and hesitancy. Maybe it is better this way?  I hug my Lila who was 2 – so beautiful and soft – my baby in pre-school. I kiss Rebecca who is so full of teenage -isms I wonder what she is really experiencing today. I hug Sam over and again (oh how I love you my 9/11 baby). I will wait until it is late enough to text Matthew, maturing man of a son – how proud of you I continue to be! I wonder about Bob in Paris today — are you too far away from me?  And I get up, dress the part (with a nod to another era, I channel my inner-St. Emlos’s Fire) and resume with our regularly scheduled program…

I’ll Have What She’s Having – A Sad Goodbye to Nora Ephron

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

She was literate, compassionate, witty and wise. I did not know her – I just knew I wanted to be as close to that amazing ideal as possible. Not just today, but everyday. That was and is pretty much the goal…some cheese, some dear friends, some views, some laughter, some clarity, some connection, some optimism, some candor, some sweets, some perfectly brewed espresso, some feelings of accomplishment, some great hair, some well crafted prose, some silly, some clear goals, some kids heading in the right direction, some insight that paves the way, some citrus in bubble water, some witty, some inside line, some passionate kisses, some lucky breaks, some role in the big picture, some cushion for hard falls and yes one true love…well Nora Ephron made it look easy, attainable, a noble pursuit and most of all fun – so I went for it!

Nora Ephron’s death was shared via a tweet which quickly went viral (and led me to believe she would have something sharp and quite genius to share about the reality of the viral obituary). Since then, I cannot quite stop reading the commentary from the most  amazing circle of strong, savvy and  certainly stung by the news individuals who just adored Nora (or what they imagined they knew of  her). Just as we all came of age with the wink of “I’ll have what she’s having”  from When Harry Met Sally, so too did we mold ourselves around the obvious fun Nora Ephron was having even living in the truth of it all.

I read the  oh so moving New York Times obituary and all I could think after reading Meryl Streep’s beautiful quote:

“You could call on her for anything: doctors, restaurants, recipes, speeches, or just a few jokes, and we all did it, constantly,” she wrote in her e-mail. “She was an expert in all the departments of living well.”

Was this:

I am so damn glad I ordered what she had….

What to say?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

This week I will be honored by the R Baby Foundation with their first-ever Champion Award. It is an incredible moment – not only to be marking five years of  progress in improving the standard of pediatric emergency care though life-saving grants, self-advocacy education and of course, legislation/regulation – but also to be shining a brilliant light down the path of “what’s next”.  As we progress towards clear standards in definition of pediatric emergency departments, greater tools available to doctors and EMTs, higher levels of parental and care-giver knowledge we will stop and remember.

We will remember how my friends Phyllis and Andrew Rabinowitz took the most tragic of moments, the loss of their daughter Rebecca Ava –  and turned it into a powerful mandate to save babies lives. There is nothing that compares to the one-two power-punch of Andrew’s vision and determination along with Phyllis’ deep passion and  methodical, well-considered approach. These two have taken harrowing loss and used the painful power of this experience for the greater good. Phyllis and Andrew have spent five years trying to assure that no-one suffers the loss their family experienced. They have been tireless and courageous. They are the  real champions. I was just lucky to be invited along for the journey.

And so, today I sit, pen (OK MacBook) in hand trying to craft just the right words to say as I am brought in front of 1000 people at the Plaza Hotel on Wednesday night.  How do I even begin to write this speech? What words are there really to express:

My gratitude for being recognized for the thing that means the most to me – using my voice, passion and authenticity to incite  real change where is it needed most?

My deep appreciation to my beloved friends and colleagues who have been limitless in their support of my commitment to RBF – you show up again again with a level of care and commitment that is both real and impossible to ignore. Have you seen the PSA?

My unwavering belief  in Philanthropic Moms – my  hypothesis that the power of all of our voices to elevate the dialog is the way in which we see progress over and again.

My thanks for being asked to join RBF and be a part of change that will protect all babies and children in emergency medical situations – not only now but for future generations.

My love for my husband and children for making room for this in our lives — for what they may have scarified along the way (and for my kids, especially who have been educated via the blue tooth – listening as strategies were built, tactics were designed, plan Bs were conceived).

My love too for my own parents for instilling a deep sense of community in me from the earliest of ages (or should I thank Woody Guthrie and my mother’s late 60s lullaby of  We Shall Overcome) and to al of the amazing mentors who have helped me hone in on these instincts, combining them will my skills and making it “easy” to step up and serve.

I don’t know where to go with this one. So I will wait for it to come, I know it will begin with the words: Thank you.

P.S PLEASE – sign the RBF petition and pass it on.

Bueller Parenting

Monday, January 30th, 2012

I just got to see the amazing Matthew Broderick Ferris Bueller Superbowl ad. I loved it so I ran out and purchased a Honda CRV (OK, I already had one). It was a treat and I am still smiling, ear to ear!

I grew up in the age of John Hughes. The 80s had a lot to teach us (my children find my knowledge of neon fashion, ripped tees and well John Hughes to be more than impressive/ annoying). But what they don’t get is how much I learned from Ferris Bueller. That day, that one wondrous day has it all…and there is nothing that comes close to that pitch-perfect  movie.  I have been trying to get my  kids “in” but  the movie moves too slowly for them, my kids can’t really appreciate it – somehow the wildest adventure of all time feels dull to them. I am miffed.

Still, Ferris has played a big part in their growing up. My  parenting style (call it what you will) has always been balanced by an eye towards that day off. The fact that we all need it. And sometimes, quite badly. And so in the world where I am Mommy (cut to the 2012 Julia shot – still me , but wait – where are those cool highlights?!?!) each one of my kids is allowed one “mental health day” per year. On that day we go our own wild adventures – we visit museums, watch movies, try new restaurants, take a drive, take a shop, explore new neighborhoods – we just take a day off. It is completely a la Ferris and completely rich on so many levels. I see them as they see the world – just one on one – with no agenda but discovery and fun. It is bonding and bumming all at once. An really it is priceless. Yup, I am sold…

Cue the Ferris music….

Bastille Day…the best of my French Food Adventures

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

one all of my all time favorites - L'Oustalet in Gigondas, France

One all of my all time favorites - L'Oustalet in Gigondas, France

Weekend Market - Uzes, France
Weekend Market – Uzes, France
cheese in Annecy

Cheese in Annecy

Oh France can not come soon enough….bon (or Bob!!) appetit!

Goodbye to the Big Man

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Oh this is completely off topic – except that there is no possible way to understand me and thus all that is now Forty Weeks without first imagining me in my yellow bedroom on Frobel Road in Laverock, Pennsylvania completely lost in my Bruce albums. I got a brand new stereo for my Bat Mitzvah (thank you Uncle Herb) and I can still see myself there, in that end bedroom (when not spending countless hours on my “private” line 232-5332) listening to Bruce albums. The River had just been released and it seemed so had some powerful passion inside of me. I still cry when I hear certain versions of The River. It was bigger than any emotion I had experienced and the notion of being de-flowered of my emotional innocence still rattles me a bit. Loss? Hopelessness? Despair? Disappointment? The street? All this was new to the newly minted teenager in Philadelphia.

I went journeying backwards through the Bruce catalog and spent my days making sense of the world through his poetic lens. There is none of that without Clarence Clemons. There was something about the way he blew that sax that drew me in and never released me . It was not just the melancholy it was also the party that he brought to the table. And the best part – back then, was the live shows and the amazing camaraderie between Bruce and Clarence. That is how I wanted my work to feel (and it does, btw) – connected to and surrounded by people who love what they do as much as I and frankly who feel it…big, juicy and real. This was  a relationship that moved and motivated me to find  and surround myself with my own - loving, like-minded, and spirited,  The friendship, care and respect is so evident in these images:imagesCAERGP18bruce clarencebigman

And so last night, in the wee hours (I really could not sleep) I wrote my goodbye to the Big Man. And so with love and sadness, goodbye Clarence, goodbye and thank you.

It is a sad, somber day on E Street.  Saying goodbye to one of the most talented, charismatic and soulful spirits – what a gift you were! Clarence has been the omnipresent musical force that has elevated, emoted and engaged both on stage and off. There is no soundtrack of my life without his sax, and for that I am grateful. RIP to the Big Man…oh how you will be missed.