Gift Guide for the person who HATES the cold: or a “how to survive winter” guide.

I grew up in Chicago, and then I moved to Boston, where I spent the majority of my adult years before moving to Bermuda.  I hated winter.  Passionately.  I didn’t like being cold, and I was ALWAYS cold.  One year it occurred to me that I wasn’t really doing it right, and I was spending 1/3 of every year being cranky and miserable.  I learned to love the traditions of winter–rewarding myself with a hot chocolate when I went to dig out the car, investing in a good down coat and some other cold-winter gear, and trying to take a cue from mother nature and slow down a bit.  It worked. I actually started to look forward to winter’s arrival (though, let’s be honest here, I also promptly found myself a boyfriend who lived in Bermuda).  Anyway….. here are a few of my favorites.  I hope that you all have a wonderful season full of warm bowls of steaming soup, roaring fires and toasty knitwear.  Now go pour yourself a cup of cinnamon tea, curl up in this and read on.

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Books to inspire you to hunker down and get your cozy on:

Cookbooks: On Baking Bread, from Molly Yeh (she went to Juilliard, ya know!), or some Vegetarian Comfort Food

Hygge Books: On basic winter-survival, family traditions, or finally learn how to knit

And to help dream of sunnier weather:

Gardening books , India Hicks’s Island House is amazing! or just to plan a trip.

These lights are supposed to really help with those winter blues!

I suppose the most obvious thing would be for them to travel to a warmer climate!  Target just came out with a new travel collection that I am kind of obsessed with right now.  The suitcases are great, but the packable backpack is perfect for when you’re traveling for a concert and you need to wear your instrument on your back, BUT, you know you’re going to want to take advantage of a nice day hike while you’re there?

But the best way to get through a cold and brutal winter is to embrace it and arm yourself accordingly.

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Shearling slippers are a must.  The ultimate in coziness.

Crawling into a bed made up with flannel sheets is the BEST when it’s cold out!  Some simple ones, a more seasonal set, or these super festive ones (for you or the kiddos).

If I had this hat, I would spend my entire days frolicking in the snow.  Of course, if I could afford that hat, I’d be in Fiji. these earmuffs are a bit more reasonable!

Keep your hands and toes warm–for skiing, winter hikes, or just the daily commute.

Go snowshoeing and then warm up with some hot cocoa!

When I was living in Boston I slipped on ice and broke things (hand, finger, wrist) 3 times in 6 years.  Then I got some Yaktrax, and now I give them to everyone I care about.  Game.Changer.

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Friday Favorites

Hi!  Did you stay up late Tuesday night watching the midterm election returns in the US?  I did, and I think I’m still recovering (physically AND emotionally!) though I pleased about the increasing diversity we are seeing, and with the fantastic youth voter turnout (keep it up, guys!).  We’re having a low-key weekend over here.  Paul is racing both days, and I’ll be teaching a bunch of lessons, working in my garden, and thinking about fall weather.  It’s hard to get organized about the holidays when it’s 75 and sunny!  Are you hosting any get-togethers this season?  Here are a few ideas to help your planning, as well as a few things to keep you entertained over the weekend.  Have a great one!

If you were inspired by the progress made in the midterm elections and want to keep the momentum going, check out DoSomething.org It’s a fantastic site organizing volunteer efforts around the globe.

These would be great as part of your regular concert black gear, or with a nice top for recitals, or just as a party or concert attendee!  Black satin trousers

The perfect crossbody bag if you’re going somewhere warm (or live on an island, hint hint)

Even though it’s still warm and sunny over here in Bermuda, I’m ready to start decking my house out for the holidays.  Here are some simple and pretty things that will make your house feel all warm and cozy.

Wreath , Table Runner, Place card holders

If you’re looking for some fun holiday themed music to play, Virtual Sheet Music offers tons of customizable pieces that are ready for immediate download!  Check it out here:

Speaking of music shops, Johnson’s Strings is having a big sale on strings right now.  It’s  time to stock up!

During the crazy holiday time, I prefer short stories  to novels.  These are so beautiful and touching and no matter how many times I have read them, I keep reaching for them again and again. Here are some others that I want to check out as well. And of course, these are always a treat!

It’s a great time to be Armenian!  The new exhibit, Armenia! at the Met is receiving rave reviews from everyone I know, and the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, MA is having a grand re-opening reception next Thursday, Nov. 15th to show off their newly re-designed space.  (I’ll be there, too, so come on out and say hello!)

The party season is about to commence. Are you ready?  A friend of mine had the brilliant idea to just stock up now on a drawer full of great (and not too expensive!) host/hostess gifts.  Here are a few nice ideas–whether you are visiting for a few days of thanksgiving, or showing up to a dinner party:

I would love this wine chiller,Everyone has one wine chiller, but how nice to be able to keep a few bottles chilling on the table.  You can always use another!

A really nice, great smelling (and not so cheap that it’ll give you a headache!) candle is such a luxury.  This Tocca Candle would be a great gift if you are staying overnight.

Every year I seem to run out of taper candles and just the wrong moment (i.e. moments before a dinner party!) And good luck finding any red tapers in a store the weeks leading up to Christmas!  If a guest showed up bearing some of these, I would be forever grateful!

I got one of these Champagne Stoppers as a stocking stuffer one year, and it has come in so handy on numerous occasions.  Can’t quite finish that bottle of bubbly?  Not to worry!

And how grateful would your host be to be able to soak their tired achey feet after cleaning, cooking and hosting a gathering all day?  Bath salts to the rescue!

Of course, you can’t go wrong with food.  These look almost too good to eat!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Cheers,

Kate

 

 

On the Road Again

I’m sitting on an airplane flying from Bermuda to Boston.  I have 4 days there–teaching some lessons, and recording and rehearsing a program of Joan Tower’s music for BMOP.  From there, I head off to Miami, where Paul will meet me for a little concert tour/vacation combo.  Between the 30 degrees and snowy weather in Boston, the 82 degrees and sunny temperatures in Florida, and the mix of concerts, teaching, and beach/date time, this was an interesting trip to pack for!  Continue reading

My February Focus

 

If you have been following along on my plan to focus each month on a particular aspect of my life, you’ll know that I have already done “Health”, “Career”, “BYSO”-one aspect of my professional life, “Home”, and “Blogging”.  Some months were super clear and easy, and others were a bit more difficult and abstract than I thought they would be. God knows I have already had some wrenches thrown into the works (umm, hello computer dying in the middle of “career” month and losing some very valuable work information…oops.).  But I am so happy to say that at the end of every single month, I have been able to point to a list of things I accomplished that improved that focus area, and that every single month, I have come away feeling like I have learned a few important things, and have created some sustainable habits that will help continue the progress.   I am excited to keep going with this plan, but to be perfectly honest, I am a little apprehensive about this month’s focus: Marriage.

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At the beginning of this 12-Month Focus Project, I drew up a list of the 12 most important areas of my life, and then set about assigning a particular month to each area– trying to choose the month that makes the most sense.  I was feeling the need hit “reset” on my body after a long summer, so I made September “Health” month, and since I will be seeing lots of family in July, that gets “Family” month.  But “Marriage”? well, there IS Valentine’s Day, and I booked my week of concerts in Florida for his half-term break so that he can join me and make it a working holiday.  But otherwise, it’s a bit arbitrary.  On one hand, we’ve only been married for a couple of years.  We are definitely still newlyweds.  On the other hand, my marriage is one of THE MOST important things in my life, and I want to cherish and nurture it.  In other words, I am more than happy to devote a month to focusing on my marriage, but it’s not like we need any kind of major overhaul.  There are no big issues to resolve, and we don’t have kids, so we already get to spend a lot of quality time alone together.  So, what should I do?

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I decided to take a cue from one of my original inspirations for this whole project: Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  She devoted a month to her marriage as well, and this was her list:

  • Quit nagging
  • Don’t expect praise or appreciation
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love

 

Sounds about right.  I’ll start with these and add any others that come up.   At the very least, at the end of the day (er…month) Paul will be one very happy husband!  Wish me luck!

-Kate

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My February Reading List

Was one of your new year’s resolutions to read more?  Because I can help.  I have a thing that I do–a method, if you will–for reading more, and not getting stuck in a rut.  I do realize that there is probably something seriously wrong with me.  This obsession I have with structuring every thing I do, but I swear it works, and it makes reading more of a pleasure and less of a chore.  Here goes.  Ready? Nerd Alert: Continue reading

My Month of Home

December.  Month of holidays, vacations, family and get-togethers.  Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, or the First Snow Day of the season, there is no denying that December is one cozy-ass month. Even here in Bermuda, the lights in town are twinkling, and the nights get chilly enough to throw on a sweater or curl up in front of a fire.  And for that reason, I decided to make My Home the focus of this month. Continue reading

A Punch in the Face

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”  -Mike Tyson

If someone had told me that I would be quoting Mike Tyson on this blog, I’d have punched THEM in the face.  But, alas, it’s true.  My best laid plans for a totally Career-Centered Month were thrown for a serious loop when I managed to spill water onto my laptop.  Long story short, KAPUT.  nothing.  Did I run regular backups?  Of course!  Just not in the last 8 months or so, and that hard drive is in my condo in Boston, which I can’t get into until November.

Thank god for dropbox, but that giant spreadsheet that I have been working on for the past year with all of my contacts and venues and programs and A WHOLE YEAR OF RESEARCH?  GONE…  Gone….  gone…. Continue reading

My Healthy September Post-Mortem

Boy ,this month got busy!  I started out letting you know about my Month-long Focus Project on my Health and had every intention of posting a couple of times each week about various things.  Somehow, it is September 28th and I have posted not one lousy update.  So, here we are,  4 weeks into the month, and 2 days away from a glass of wine!  Here’s how it all went.

“Sober September”.  Paul and I managed to go an entire month without drinking alcohol.  To be fair, we each had 2 cheat days.  For him, it was after the last fitted dinghy race of the season.  Tradition holds that the trophy gets filled with rum and everyone passes it around and drinks from it (I know, gross, but they LIVE for this shit) and I sort of felt like it was an important moment for him since it was also (possibly?) marking his early retirement from fitted dinghy racing.  My cheat day was when I was out having dinner with some dear friends.   Our 2nd one was after I returned home from a couple of intense weeks in Boston, and we went out for a romantic dinner.  We each had a glass.  All told, we both had the equivalent of 1 day’s worth of wine over an entire month.  Not too shabby.  Lessons learned?  Well, it was a very boring month, to be sure. We didn’t go out as often and spent most of our evenings at home working.  A couple of times it felt silly not to be enjoying a nice glass of wine (when we were out for tapas, after a long tough day at work, etc).  But I think we both realized that most of the time we are sipping away, it’s mostly out of habit.  I was just as happy drinking a glass of Pellegrino while cooking dinner.  It didn’t have to be wine.  And Paul was just as happy with a cold glass of ginger beer as he would have been with a dark and stormy.  What we needed was the ritual of stopping our work days, pouring a glass of SOMETHING and hitting pause.   I don’t think that drinking wine is going to be a part of our daily routine anymore, and I also think I will appreciate having a nice glass of wine with a nice meal, or to celebrate a happy occasion–once in a while. Also?  I lost 7 lbs, so there’s that.

Eating healthy:  This one I wasn’t so strict about, though I did do a massive food shop and meal-prep when I got to Boston for two weeks of teaching and rehearsals.  I cooked up tons of vegetables, some salmon, chicken breasts, wild rice, and salad fixings and was happy as a clam for those two weeks.  I had options (chicken or fish? Broccoli or asparagus) but my choices were limited enough that I never had decision fatigue about my meals.  I would make a jar of chia pudding or overnight oats for breakfast and mix them up with some fresh berries and a little coconut yogurt.  Lunch would be a salad from my pre-cut veggies, and dinner would be equally easy.  I felt great, slept great, was hungry at mealtime, but not starving for snacks.  I brought mini packs of almonds and dried cranberries to rehearsals and that was basically it.  Unfortunately, when I got back to Bermuda, that plan went down the tubes.  Paul and I just like very different kinds of food. He likes to throw things together into a kind of stew/chili/casserole type of situation (served over starch) and I prefer my food to be cooked separately (but unlike a three year-old, it’s okay if they are touching on my plate).  I can’t deny how much worse I feel for how I’ve eaten the past two weeks vs. how great I felt the first two weeks, so I might need to put my foot down and make it happen (sorry, babe!)  We watched the documentary “What the Health” which everyone and their brother seems to be talking about.  Honestly, It made me question both the validity of their accusations (it all seemed a bit too much) and how much animal product I’m willing to have in my diet.  Since I have trouble being any kind of an extremist (I couldn’t even go 30 days without a glass of wine!) I hesitate to say I’m never going to eat meat or cheese again.  I have been using Almond milk and I switched to coconut yogurt, and I’m trying to be more mindful of meat and dairy choices.  Voilá.

Exercise: I did manage to get back into a running routine.  I maybe didn’t run as often as I wanted, but I managed a consistent 3-4 times a week.  I learned two things.  1) it’s a lot easier to run when your body is lighter.  Seriously, I always wondered how women who had never run before could throw on a pair of sneakers, and go out and run a 10K that first weekend, when, after months of running, I wouldn’t have even made it through a 10K without huffing and puffing.  Now I get it. They are tiny to begin with, and aren’t lugging as much weight around.  Even just dropping 7 lbs, I can run faster and farther and it feels easier.  So, here’s to the next 7 lbs, and the next.  2) having great music really helps.  I downloaded Kayla Itsines’s SWEAT playlist from itunes and it is amazing.  Love it.  I want more.  Need more.  Please send playlist suggestions ASAP!

Small habits and check-ups:  I took care of the two big one (or two)-offs: My annual “wellness exam” and mammogram with my Dr. and seeing my dentist for a cleaning and updated x-rays, and I tried to tweak little daily habits: flossing more regularly, drinking a tall glass of hot water with lemon before I have my coffee (and drinking more water in general) and doing more sit ups and squats and things like that around the house at random times.

So overall, I think my first Focus month was a pretty big success.  Aside from the weight loss, I definitely have more energy, my skin looks better, and I just feel like I am living a healthier life.  I feel good about setting up good habits that I can continue through the rest of the year, am in a good groove with my running routine and am excited to continue to tweak my (our) eating habits.

New post next week to announce my October Focus Project! I’m excited.

The Transition Week

I believe that summer begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day, and I strongly adhere to that schedule each year.  This year, however, I have realized the importance of the “transition week” in getting myself from pre-Labor Day, when my life revolves around lakes and sailboats and sleeping until 9am if I want to,  to Post-Labor Day (when people actually expect me to do some work).  Maybe it’s because I have had such a whirlwind summer; The America’s Cup started Memorial Day weekend, lasted 5 weeks and brought 4 sets of houseguests.  In the middle of that I played a full recital with an entirely new program.  Then Paul and I finished teaching and we had our three-week staycation filled with beach picnics, snorkeling, swimming, sailing and a plethora of fun social events on the island, followed by Chicago to see my family (there were definitely s’mores–YES!)  A week of camp in Boston, 2 weeks of camp in Maine, and then our road-trip to Baltimore, Charleston and DC.  I have spent the last 3 days at our condo in Boston basically comatose. I am ready for the new concert season to begin, and yet my brain has turned to mush.  I know that I have been practicing, but the lack of routine always throws me off and makes me feel like a total slacker.  But as desperate as I am to get back to that routine, if you told me the season started tomorrow, I think I would fall to the floor, curl up in the fetal position and start crying, because I’m not READY!!!

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Thus, ladies and gentlemen, “The Transition Week”. Continue reading