Archive for the ‘Heart’ Category

Shark Attack

What is it about sharks at the moment? First there was that mad film Sharks in a Tornado or something. Then there was one found on the subway. Then the Rocket Scientist had a dream where one was biting his fist and he had to scrap its gums to get it to let go (dentist anxiety or was he sleeping on his hand?).

So well done TopShop for predicting the selachimorphamania and producing this:


Oh crikey, Brit designer Emma Cook is in on it too:


Both Givenchy and Philip Lim have shark tooth designs in the current collections:


We’re going to need a bigger wardrobe…


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The bebe is cute. Insanely cute. And I’m not even saying that because I’m her mother.

When she wore her homemade bonnet in the Hamptons, people actually crossed the street to see her as we sat outside at cafe having a drink.

But even the bebe isn’t immune to Passport Photo Syndrome. You know, the one where even the most respectable people end up looking like a close cousin of Charles Manson.

What is it about passport photos that makes us look so, if not crazed, then certainly criminal? There’s something about those booths that turn us into frozen, dilated-eyed mug shots, as if we’ve been out for three days straight, partying with Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen.

Of course, when the bebe had her first passport photo taken at around eight weeks, she had no concept of Charlie Sheen (long may that last), yet she still manages to look like a Wayne Rooney lookalike.


See? She’s really cute. Not like Wayne Rooney at all.

Wayne Rooney. Not cute. Not like the bebe at all (except for on her passport photo)

It’s not her fault. She’d just woken up from a nap. And the photographer made me hold her up, out on an extended palm, in front of a white sheet that had been hung up on the wall. She was sleepy, slumped and drooling – none of which would be top of the tip list for taking a good photo – and most likely a little alarmed because her mother was holding her out, suspended in air, in front of a big white sheet.

Her head had sunk into her shoulders and she looked like she had no bones. And we didn’t have time to take another one because we had to get to the Brooklyn library passport office before it closed.

Then, a few days later, I found out that it’s OK to take your own photo of your baby, as long as it fits within the official guidelines, so for a I did moment consider cancelling the passport and starting again. But that would have been inconvenient. And vain.

So now I’m applying for the bebe’s British passport, we have a second chance of getting it right.

(To apply for a British passport while you are overseas, go here.)

Examples of passport photos - described in text above

As an American baby (because she was born here) with two British parents, the bebe can have dual nationality.

There is no downside to this when it comes to travelling, as:

U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. (Read more here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1753.html)

The bebe will have to use her US passport when leaving or entering the country. But that’s fine by me, as I’ll be able to go with her in the nationals queue at customs – which is generally shorter than that for international travellers.

Now, I’m off to sharpen up my photography skills. Where’s that birdie?

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Our beautiful bebe is just about to turn one. And, with two sets of friends leaving our neighbourhood and me about to find a killer full-time job, it feels like her birthday party will mark the end of an era.

An era of sleepless nights, afternoon naps, first smiles, first cuddles (even better!), picnics in the park, free Tuesday visits to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and too many episodes of America’s Next Top Model.

So the party will have to be a momentous one. Which, of course, requires a fantastic party dress.

I’ve got quite into sewing since moving to New York. When I was pregnant, I spent the hottest July on record either waddling to the Red Hook Pool or sewing quilts for my nephew and niece, and a wall hanging for the bebe.

Then I made a dress for her first Christmas. Just like when I cook and browse a number of recipes for inspiration, when I sew I tend to use a number of blogs as inspiration and then make up my own pattern.


For the Christmas dress, I used this bubble dress pattern from Prudent Baby for inspiration but ended up tracing around an existing top and just made the rest up. I don’t necessarily recommend this as I used up way too much fabric getting the shape right.

The fabric was Liberty Tana Lawn print and therefore probably more expensive than most sane people would spend to make a dress that would fit a doll.

It was gorgeous though – the blue and gold reminded me of a Victorian chocolate box, and it’s covered with what I imagined were partridges and pear trees (I think they are actually strawberries, but never mind). And the dress was made to be something of an heirloom.

Strawberry Thief C Tana Lawn

Since then I’ve also made a bonnet from a pattern by one of my favourite sewing blogs Made by Rae. I made it to go with a very sweet dress I bought from the excellent vintage baby clothes shop Lulu’s Then and Now on 5th Avenue in Park Slope. 

The bonnet and dress were for my friend’s wedding in the Hamptons last week, but the bonnet was so useful (and she looked so cute in it), she wore it all weekend.

IMAG1219IMAG1225 IMAG1264IMAG1265

Oh, and the roman blind for the bedroom.

Anyway, all this is a very roundabout way of saying that my crafty fingers are starting to itch and I’ve spent all morning looking at fabrics and patterns for the bebe’s first birthday dress.

I haven’t quite found it but I did come across this collection of fabrics on Michael Miller Fabrics, which seemed quite serendipitous. (Let’s ignore what it says about the cliche of nesting mothers turning to craft in Park Slope!)


Stay tuned to see what dress and fabric I choose…

The bebe is too small for the print on this birthday dress on Made by Rae, but what a gorgeous thing:


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Working Mothers Stop Feeling Guilty

Have a read… and worry about something else instead…

(Reuters) – Children whose mothers work during their early years do as well at school as those with stay-at-home mothers, debunking a common parenting myth that has piled guilt onto career women, according to research released on Tuesday.

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We’ve enrolled the bebe at nursery. Hard to believe that the little thing will be going off to pre-school in the fall. It breaks my heart and fills me with pride at the same time; to imagine her toddling off (she can’t even walk yet), lunchbox in hand.

Which made me think of my lunchbox when I was a kid. It was a Star Wars one. Or was that my brother’s? Mine was blue… oh, that’s right, it was The Muppets.

Either way, I formed quite a close attachment to my lunchbox. It being filled with biscuits, like a small piece of home – like Mum in the kitchen but in a portable box.

That smell of plastic and old sandwiches – very Proustian.

So Young Insulated Kids Lunch Box – Blue Dinosaur:

Envirosax – Robot:

Sugarbooger Classic Lunch Sack:


Snoopy Metal Box:

Scooby Doo Mystery Machine:


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I love reading. I love books. I was the first to read in my class because my parents (who also love reading, love books…) read to me every night from a young age.

For a small baby, I don’t think there is a more perfect book that The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It has a lovely sing-songy tone to it, has non-Disneyfied illustrations and teaches about (a) good eating habits (‘and he eat a nice, big green leaf and felt much better!’), and (b) existential metamorphose.

Plus it has pages that babies can turn. It’s pretty much the only book I have read the bebe so far (with brief interludes from Goodnight Moon and a book about a shipwrecked circus off the coast of Boston).

I like the bebe’s play to be educational, consistent, warm and nurturing.

The H1B thinks her life should be filled with fun. Stat. This is the book he bought her as a welcome home present: 

He reads it to her at night, sending her to sleep with the concept of melting brains in her little head. 

And she loves it.

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Swimsuit Time

This week the UK is going to experience a heatwave.

Not a heatwave by New York standards, indeed the 17 degree temperature (about 62 in fahrenheit) probably wouldn’t even register on a New Yorker’s idea of hot weather.

Nonetheless, in the UK (a country, which in the five early-summer weeks I’ve been back has experienced snow, hail, high winds and torrential rain), you have to take what you can get.

Since my parents own a (little used but heated) swimming pool and my photographer friend Chloe is not away on some exotic location for once and wants to come around for a dip, I’ve ordered a new swimsuit.

Buying a swimsuit is not most people’s idea of a good time so buying your first one after the birth of a child you’d think would take the trauma one step further.

However, my new body-shape needs make the selection quite simple: just find me something that covers up the area between my shoulders and upper thigh. No more  trying to figure out what cut of bikini makes me look thin; agonizing over halternecks or bandeau in the cold light of the changing room mirror.

I just want something that is vaguely pretty, vaguely cool and shows off my best bits (carrying around a 20lb baby makes for toned arms, and my legs have always been pretty good), and covers up the rest. Not black, not ugly, has padded cups but doesn’t make me look like an atomic Jessica Rabbit.

I’ve bought this one from The White Company. Pretty, non?


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Viva La Visa

As you may have picked up from a few of my early posts (here and here and here and, oh, here), when I came out to the US I was on the H4 visa. And, as you may have also gleaned if you’d read them, I was less than happy about it.

When the move to the US was first discussed, I was promised a working visa, so I could continue my career as a journalist and web editor, and so I could contribute to society as any educated, mildly ambitious and intelligent person would wish.

However, because of a cock-up by the previous management – or a total lack of foresight or planning at the very least – we ended up with the H1B on, well, an H1B and me on the H4.

The H4 visa is called The Trailing Spouse visa. That is not a joke – it’s actually called that. On it, one cannot work, can’t even volunteer – making cupcakes for a school fete could be considered entrepreneurial by a particularly jobs-worthy immigration agent.

So you are simply expected to sit idle, or breed.

If the bebe hadn’t come along and forced me into maternity leave, I would have gone mad. Or gone home.

The visa is retrograde, repellent, offensive, unrealistic (show me a couple that can afford to live on one salary in NYC), and misogynist (I’ll bet my oven glove a high percentage of those spouses are women).

And my heart goes out to anyone who is on it. (Not that I have anything against sitting idle; although involuntary sitting idle is basically prison.)

Anyway, after a lot of paperwork and cajoling of editors to say nice things about me, I am now the owner of the 01 visa, which gives me full working rights. And it’s nice to be in the real world once again.

(The 01 is aka the Extraordinary Ability Visa, and when the Consulate officer interviewed me and asked me what I’d been doing in the US for the last near two years, he said, so what’s extraordinary about being a mom and wife? I nearly punched him. But I didn’t because there were men with guns nearby.)

If you are on the H4, and don’t want to be, don’t give up your search for a suitable work visa. I think the H1B’s HR department got so sick of us complaining and asking and bitching (me, not the H1B – he’s more professional), they just agreed to help us so we’d leave them the fuck alone.

Advice on finding a new visa: don’t bother with the USCIS websites or lawyers; find someone in the same situation or similar industry as you. Those websites are, I’m sure deliberately, very hard to make head or tail of, and it’s better to get a personal recommendation for a lawyer anyway.

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Mail Order Fashion

My quick, two-week visit back to the UK has turned into an entire month. Never trust a lawyer who says, yes go go go, your visa will be in next week and you can kill two birds with one stone by going to your home US Consulate.

Almost five weeks later and my visa will be FINALLY in my hot, sweaty (from stress and pulling out of hair) palms by Tuesday and I will – with any luck – be on a plane on Wednesday back to my home and husband.


The H1B’s patience is running out – but hardly surprising as this has been the longest we’ve been apart since we met, plus he hasn’t seen his 10-month-old daughter for a 10th of her life (that’s a long time in pre-toddler days).

Anyway, on the upside, all this being stuck in the depths of the Surrey woods has given me ample time to indulge in some decent UK shopping. And I don’t even have to worry about the rising cost of parking (my mother’s relentless gripe).

While everyone knows there has been a boom in internet shopping, what has quietly and successfully taken off in the UK is the mail order catalogue. I’m not talking about the 1990s JJ Bean variety, or those ones that sell post-menopausal women fleecy nighties.

ImageMy mum’s kitchen table is littered with catalogues from super-stylish companies (and generally v. expensive – as if ordering from a book somehow makes you forget the value of the pound… like when you went to France pre-Euro days and thought you were a millionaire).

Some of the good ones are The White Company, Wrap, Plumo, Pure and Baukjen. Of course, Boden has been doing this for years and has recently itself had a bit of an style upgrade. (Boden has made it over to the US quite successfully and I know they are looking at a rebrand so they can appeal to the US yummy mummies even more.)

Although, not to forget the web for one moment, another new discovery is Atterley Road, who I’m  more than a bit obsessed with. They have perfectly captured the market gap between ASOS (young, low-ish quality, very fashion driven) and Net-a-Porter ($$$, dresses that wouldn’t fare well with baby chuck-up). It’s full of curated pieces from Hobbs, Jigsaw, Whistles (basically, the best of the British high street if you are over 25), and a few less well-known brands like Danish Ilse Jacobsen and Peach Pink, who do nice, not-bonkers-expensive handbags.

And, ta-dah, they currently do free shipping to the US.

So I can feel doubly good about heading back to Brooklyn asap.

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Gisele Goes Make-Up Free!

Johan Lindeberg, Hayley Phelan, Gisele Bundchen

pic from FashionistaGisele Goes Make-Up Free!

A make-up free state is OK for Gisele but the rest of us should take caution. I should be grateful that my husband maintains that I’m the best-looking gal he’s ever seen. Charming, but outside the comfortable boundaries of domestic bliss, this false sense of security can have grave consequences. In our early days of romance, I would, for instance, happily bound into work in at a hip television company in North London, my face free of under-eye cover-up and pale eyelashes untainted by mascara – carefree in the thought that love provides a more powerful glow than Nars Orgasm blusher. Only to head to the bathroom mid-morning and catch a glance of myself in the mirror under the fluorescent bulb, and run silently screaming to the beauty cupboard.

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