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The BEST 6 New Obsessions: From Lip Tar to Hoes

By Nora Zelevansky / February 14th, 2013

It’s been ages — ages I tell you! — since I last posted simply about my latest obsessions.  It’s about time, I say!  (Why am I talking weird and old timey?)

I know I actually neglected to post about The Bachelor this week too, but — you know — what was there to say besides Tierra is a pyschopath, who treats others terribly and then somehow manages to feel like a victim, Lesley and Catherine should get a room and Des’ hometown date looks potentially psychotic.  (The operative word is potentially, since the possible confrontation they teased may well have been a red herring, since she seems like the most likely final choice.)

SO!  Moving onto “real” life, here in Park Slope, Brooklyn and the my wee day-to-day pleasures:

1. LIP TAR from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (*pictured above)

I’m not much of a bright lipstick girl because I don’t really have the massive lips to support it.  However, I’m so damn pale from NYC winter that a burst of color seemed like the only solution, so — the other day — I channeled my inner Zooey Deschanel (or okay Jess) slathered on this neon pink stuff and discovered that it’s brilliant.  It’s so opaque and bright that it’s like painting your lips, but it goes on thin and shiny like lip gloss.  I may be walking around looking like a fool — who knows? — but I am loving this stuff because it’s unlike any other lip sitch I’ve tried before.  And at least I don’t look as much like a zombie.

PS Also, I’ve been known to like natural products.  I’ve also been known to like chemicals and lasers.  However, I was happy to learn that this company is totally cruelty-free & vegan.  Now I feel even more virtuous wearing the stuff!  Their store is LES, but their products are sold all over.

2. LA ROSE DANCE WEAR & HOSIERY

Generally, I stick with Spanx tights/stockings.  Actually, that’s a lie: Generally, I stick with the random and sad assortment of stockings that have someone landed in my closet over the years.  Stolen from my mom?  Left by my sister?  Borrowed from a friend?  Gifted at some party?  (That last one refers to a pair of neon green fishnets that blend into my skin and make me look like I have scales from far away.)

But I digress: Yesterday, I picked out a dress for the next day’s Nanette Lepore Fashion Week show and then realized that I had no intact, hole-less stockings left.  It was already evening and I was late for The Gin Lovers book party, where I was meeting my editor and another author.  What to do?  On the advice of one very generous salesperson at a store down the street, I stopped into this old school Park Slope dance shop on 5th Avenue.  It’s really no frills, but the owner was there and let me in, despite the late hour.  She explained to me that I was looking at the wrong size for my proportions (she says the size chart is useless).  And she sold me two pairs of tights.  That are amazing.  And fit perfectly.  And feel like they won’t run.  For $8 each.  I am never spending $40 on stockings again.  The End.  Try a dance store near you!

3. THE SOUP BOWL

Locals will mostly know, but Drewser and I just happened upon this “pop up” spot that serves only soup and bread.  The menu is revolving — the man there said there are about 200 options — and range from Lobster Sweet Potato Bisque to Sausage & Eggplant (like red checkered tablecloth Italian food, as soup).  Bacon & Lima Bean soup AND Turkey Bacon & Vegetable have both been highlights for me.  The people who work there are lovely and you can sample any soups you choose — it’s so cozy and delicious during the cold winter.

Anyway, I am totally obsessed and I’m going as much as possible because they close, most likely, by March 1.  Then, they go back to being an Uncle Louie G. Italian Ices spot.  Which I sort of can’t complain about because I love that too.  Only, couldn’t we have both?  Couldn’t we?  Actually, I think it’s a totally brilliant idea; people should always split their shops by seasonal offerings.  Genius!

*They list what they have for the day on their site, but you should get their early if you have specific desires because they do run out of various kinds, especially if it’s snowy and cold!

4. UNIQLO LOUNGE WEAR

It’s cheap.  It’s super cozy.  It’s thicker and more substantial than you expect.  In need to buy three more pairs.  Need I say more?  Also, have you tried the FLUFFY SOCKS?  OMG.  Don’t get me started.  Let’s just say, it’s surprising that I leave my house.  (And I often do — with them inside my rain boots!  What?  Yup.  Blow.  Your.  Mind.)

5. FINE COLLECTION Sweaters

I have never been so thrilled (well, maybe at some point) than when I discovered that one of my favorite Nolita boutiques, Poppy, was opening up shop just blocks from my house.  I love their stuff, they have great sales.  It’s just reliable and good.  Anywaaay, actually the Manhattan store this week, I happened upon a Fine Collection sweater that was on sale — the price point is reasonable anyway — and just seemed like that item I’d been looking for all fall and winter without success.  It’s a completely simple, long-sleeves, non-itchy, over-sized but not without shape sweater in a color that sometimes looks slate and sometimes looks green.  It’s amazing.  And now I am super curious about the collection in general.  Eyes out!

6. RENOUVE

I honestly can’t say enough about this product.  I am completely obsessed.  This is brilliant: A hand sanitizer that’s the consistency of a serum and acts both as an anti-bacterial agent AND an anti-aging product.  I mean.  If you aren’t intrigued in this flu season, with harsh colder weather, you’ve lost it!  Lost it, I tell you.  Anyway, I am a fan 4-EVA because it doesn’t smell like alcohol or strip your hands of moisture and it dries super quickly.  That’s it!

Anyway … That’s all for now!  More later, as I explore the challenging world of  … I dunno.  Not bare midriffs.

xo – N.

 

THE BEST BIRTHDAY TRADITION

By Nora Zelevansky / November 9th, 2012

My friend S.D. and I have a tradition: On our birthdays, we send each other packages of either strange (but enticing) or indulgent foods from companies across the country.

The whole thing started during my sophomore year in college, when SD—with whom I’ve been friends since we were four—first sent me a candy bouquet.  Let’s just say I can’t believe how long its been since my 19th birthday and what we’ve sent each other in that time: We’ve exchanged everything from artisanal Baked marshmallows (support Red Hook!) and Zabar’s cheese crackers to salt and flavored popcorn, dark chocolate spreads and chili-infused brownie bites.

For a while, thanks to S.D., I was even a member of the Jelly Belly fan club (yup, I’m admitting that), which meant that I got advanced tasters of any new flavors that were coming out.  Yeah, I tasted the Dr. Pepper flavor waaaay before it came out.  No big deal.  I’m not bragging or anything.  Don’t hold it against me: It’s not my fault if that makes me cool.

Anyway, this Monday is my birthday yet again.  (They seem to come quicker as you get older, right?)  And today I was feeling a little blue.

This has been an amazing year, for sure.  My husband Drewser and I moved from LA back to NYC, my debut novel was published, I even just returned home from a great trip to LA, where I got to teach a Writing Workshop at Scripps College (my alma mater) and work on a feature for ELLE.

But, in the aftermath of Sandy, this is an odd time on the east coast.  Though, for me, the Obama news is happy as can be.  Writing my second book is turning out to be a slightly different process than the first time around, a bit more pressured, less carefree.  Also, I guess the passage of time always make us pensive.

Anyway, I was feeling melancholy.  But then I received S.D.’s gift for this year!  It was the above super adorable and well-designed box of Parisian Macarons from Macaron Café in NYC, from which I will most definitely sample while writing my NaNoWriMo words today.  Just the kind of writing motivation I needed and something cheerful to remind me that birthdays may be strange sometimes, but they also can be sweet.

xo – N.

PS Does anyone else think that this post should be read to the tune of That’s What Friend Are For?

 

What’s The (Fashion) Story? “Sisterhoods of Style” in The LA Times

By Nora Zelevansky / August 12th, 2012

Meet the Smith sisters, the impossibly cool kats behind the clothing line you’re about to start hearing about constantly and seeing everywhere nonstop, Elkin.  Don’t they look like dolls here or some inexplicably updated Renaissance painting?  You might recognize their stuff from the recent cover of New York Magazine, featuring the cast of GIRLS largely dressed up in Elkin frocks.

This duo is just one of the sister designer teams—also including the Malakpour sisters behind coveted accessory line NewbarK and the Thornhill sisters-in-law behind drool-worthy new jewelry line Liv Haley—I wrote about for yesterday’s SISTERHOODS OF STYLE story in the Los Angeles Times “Image” section.

My editor gave me a heads up late last week that the story would be getting the cover, which is always amazing news, but I still get excited for the reveal of what it looks like; it’s a surprise.  I think it ended up looking beautiful!  Also, with all the book craziness lately, it’s kinda nice to focus on journalism for a sec!

Anyway, I may be in Brooklyn right now, but in spirit I’m still in LA too … only with a smaller apartment, better bagels and less Earth Bar nearby.

xo – N.

The Best Part of a Book Tour (& 2 Upcoming Readings!)

By Nora Zelevansky / August 9th, 2012

My Signing at Powell’s in Portland; Photo Compliments of Anna Lobell

Unless you’re a serious bigwig, publishers don’t organize and send you on lavish book tours these days.  They do help you organize, but ultimately you take yourself.  That’s why I chose to visit places—to read from Semi-Charmed Life—where I had friends and/or family who I got to see (an extra plus!).

I started in NYC (where I live), traveled to LA (where I used to live), headed to SF (where Hotel Palomar had ever so kindly offered to host an event), then to Portland (where I just love it—that alone, plus getting to see friends, was enough of a motivating factor) and onto Pittsburgh and the Hamptons from there.

Powell’s Bookstores, a Portland institution, were an Oregon draw too.  I had visited the original Powell’s years ago when my husband Andrew “Drewser” and I took the most unbelievable winter road trip up into Oregon from LA (through Northern Cali wine country too!) and then back down the coast.  I am a lover of bookstores and this one made an impact.  Also, the city is so proud of Powell’s and that’s rare in this online shopping filled world.

Anyway,  the trip from city to city gave me new found appreciation for real performers.  Though the feeling subsided a bit as I gained more experience, I still got nervous and nauseous before every reading or event, I’d be comfortable while reading (and trying to turn on the energy!), I’d have a rush afterward and then, finally, I’d crash.  Then, it was onto the next city.  That tuckers a person out!

Two parts of that basic repetitive cycle stood out for me as my favorite.  I LOVE the interaction with readers, so the Q & A and/or discussion portions are great.  There’s something so rewarding about having people ask you fantastic questions about a project that you pondered mostly alone for the longest time.  (That’s why I hope to make myself available to Book Clubs for author discussions via phone, Skype or iChat.)  The signing is an extension of that experience and, in some ways, that’s even better because you get to have one-on-one conversations with readers about your experience.  And every so often you even meet a young person, who wants to be a writer and says she is inspired to try in part by your book.  What could be better than that?  That slays me.

My second favorite part of the readings is the dinner and drinks afterward.  Ha!  That’s probably not considered ‘part of the book experience” per se.  But to be in a slightly random city and to spend time with a group of friends who I rarely get to see and to go to some awesome local restaurant (which I don’t have to pick because I’m clueless about the AREA!) and to eat delicious food and sip stiff drinks—I mean, that is not an everyday occurrence.  (I also lucked out because two of my amazing friends came with me to SF and Portland, just to be supportive and fun!)

Next up, I have a reading on Monday, August 20th at 5pm at Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, SC.  After that, I have a reading in Rehoboth, DE at Browse About Books on Monday, August 27th at 7pm.  I don’t know a lot of people in either area, so—as usual—I’m just hoping (and worrying!) that a decent amount of people will show up.

I’m looking forward to the readings, of course, and I know I’ll see a couple familiar and hopefully some brand new faces at both!  And, in both of those delicious cities with specialties from fried grits to blue crabs, afterward I’ll likely stuff my face.

xo – N.

 

NYC (& BEYOND): The Best Things To Pine Over As 2011 Comes To a Close

By Nora Zelevansky / December 27th, 2011

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I know that right now I should be waxing poetic about a holiday season in the city.  And, since I relocated back to NYC about a month ago, I have been romanced by the crisp weather, the smell of pine wafting from Christmas trees for sale in bushels on the sidewalk, meandering walks with hot apple cider through Prospect Park and a close proximity to Bergen Bagels.  But here's what I'm really obsessed with: boots!

What??  You can take the girl out of LA or NY, but you can't take LA, NYC and 30+ years of fashion grooming out of the girl!

Here are the boots I want badly right now and yet may have to forgo in exchange for … a couch:

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These Isabel Marant Dicker Boots (above!) are AMAZING and the taller version is beautiful too.  My pal Z. says they're comfy too.  So comfy I could slip them off her feet and steal them maybe?  I wonder.  But she's kind of quick.

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These Rag & Bone Newbury mofos are must-have (only for me they're S.O.L.) and I know they'll still be perfect come springtime.  And there are even versions on sale right now.  Boo hoo.  Where is Santa when you need him and you're a JEW?  I could steal them off the tootsies of my friend C.C.R., but we don't wear the same size.

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But, hey.  I'm an artist (ahem), right?  My suffering sans these boots is only fodder for my deeply introspective writing about … more boots.  And beauty products.

Still, I can at least drown my sorrows in vegan brownies from 'sNice nearby and the adorable monogrammed Lucky Bee cards by sent to me (sweetly) by one of my editors for the holidays, pictured above.  You know how you're supposed to write letters to people you're upset with and then never send them?  Maybe I should use my new cards to write notes to the boots about how I feel abandoned.

Dear boots. How could you?  Sigh.

Anyhoo, happy holidays!  May you get all the boots (and love and other truly good stuff!) that your heart desires.  And may you then send them to me.

xo – N.

NYC (AND BEYOND): SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION & A FREE TRIP [VALENTINE’S GETAWAYS}

By Nora Zelevansky / February 10th, 2011

Pura-vida

First of all, you all should totally read this story, if only to put your name in the hat to win a free trip to Malpais, Costa Rica.

That's kind of all I need to say, right?

Here's a story I wrote for AOL's My Daily (or is it now Huffington Post Media Network?) about girlfriend getaways for Valentine's blues.

I'm married and I don't even like Valentine's Day.  Maybe I should go to Costa Rica?  Pura Vida, man.

xo – N.

EAST COAST: FLAGEL TIME! [The Bagel Equivalent To The Muffin Top]

By Nora Zelevansky / October 21st, 2010

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Call me ill-informed or all Cali-fied, but this LA girl had never even heard of the "flagel" until some good folks shared the concept with me on a recent trip back east.  And I am OBSESSED with bagels, so you'd think I would have had at least an inkling.

Does no one tell me anything anymore??? GAWD.

Let me just say that, in my mind, when it comes to bread, there are two kinds of people in the world: The people who favor the crust and the people who favor the soft inside.  (There's also a third kind of person, who doesn't eat carbs at all ever, but I don't think that person has any business talking about bagels.)

ANYWAY.  When you're lucky, you have close relationships with people who are opposites in that regard.  For instance, my friend N.R. LOVES the crusty outside of bread to the point where she scoops out the inside.  I, on the other hand, would rather scoop out the inside, mush it into a ball and eat only that.  We're a match made in heaven (if heaven supplied many many bread basket and, for sure, it must)!

So, the "flagel" is a brilliant concept, especially for those crust loving people.  It's flattened out and is mostly made up of the crusty outside, so I suppose you're also getting potentially less bread.  But, basically, it's the bagel equivalent of a muffin top.

Although, I think it's important to mention here that there is no such thing as a person who likes the cakey inside of a muffin better than the top and, if I'm wrong and you're out there, please do let me know.

Now what can we do besides sit patiently in sunny LA and wait for a flagel food truck to pull up to our doors?

xo – N.

 

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST WAY TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY (AND SHOP VIRTUOUSLY)

By Nora Zelevansky / April 22nd, 2010

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[The special reduced price Earth Day Bundle, which actually does seem to hold all their best stuff.]

The earth is going to the dogs (and not the cute ones).  Well, maybe one of those weird "designer" hybrid dogs like a labradoodle or a puggle.  They might sort of signal the end of days.

Eh, ANYWAY.  This is just my twisted way of saying that today is Earth Day.

On my first ever Earth Day (and maybe it was officially the world's first ever), I was in circa sixth grade.  I went to Central Park to see the B-52s perform on an enormous lawn.  When I couldn't see, some friendly dude picked me up and put me on his shoulders.  (These days, he would probably be some kind of serial killer psycho and I'd end up on a "ripped from the headlines" Law & Order, but anyway.)  During the celebration, the park got so ripped up and littered with beer cans that they had to replant the entire area's grass.  So much for saving the earth from puggles.

This year, I suggest you do something equally self-serving, but less destructive: Jurlique is offering 25%-off all orders on their website today.  So, buy yourself some rose water toner and call it a happy Earth Day.  See?  Earth Days are easy!

A portion of proceeds will go to preserving Botanical Gardens in S.F., L.A. and N.Y.C.  Actually, if you shop in-store at the Madison Avenue boutique, they'll also give you a free pass to the Botanical Gardens.  (Although, if you spend weekdays strolling along Madison Avenue and shopping, maybe you don't need a free pass.)  Eh, plant it or something.  Maybe a flower will grow.

Speaking of which: Do you know what puggles do to gardens?  They dig them up!  Not very earth friendly.  I think I'm onto something here.

xo – N.

LA (BEVERLY HILLS): THE BEST ALTERNA-“IVY”

By Nora Zelevansky / March 9th, 2009

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(Cecconi's Delish Ahi Tartar, Lovely Indoor Area and Refreshing Iced Tea Served Alfresco)

The Ivy, Orso, Spago . . . any longtime LA-er can point you towards the city's sceniest power lunch scenes, where–often–a beloved patio table is most coveted.  No matter how notorious the scene, though, many restaurants have slowed to a relative crawl in light of the current economic sitch (blah, blah, blah–who wants to talk about that?)

Just trying to set the stage . . .

Picture it, Sicily, 1910.  No.  Cause I'm not Sophia on Golden Girls.  But do picture it, Robertson & Melrose, this past Thursday: I head into new Italian spot Cecconi's for lunch at a little past 1pm (yes, I have a lateness problem–SORRY).  First of all, it smells like fire place outside, which I love and this little stretch of Melrose is a lesser traveled section with many good restaurants and SoCal staple shops from comfy casual, but well-cut haven James Perse (can you tell I'm obsessed?) to his father's famed boutique, Maxfield.

Once inside, this new restaurant is crazy crowded; not in a bad way, but it's packed to say the least. And I'm seriously underdressed in a striped long-sleeved shirt, jeans and white converse, at least by comparison to the swanky crowd.  In a weird way, I guess my nearby neighborhood is just a bit more casual.  Maybe I should have seen that coming, but the more time I spend working at home in loungewear, the less I ever feel like putting on constricting nice clothes (that aren't James Perse).  Like Cher from Clueless, my party clothes are binding, you know?  Moving on.

Though I'd not heard a ton about the food itself, of course I'd read about the eatery's opening, so I wasn't surprised to see the pretty French blue chairs and chandeliers set against black and white tiling. Plus, as the restaurant originated in London and then found a home at NYC's Soho House, I knew to expect at least a high-end experience.  Luckily, my punctual lunch date had picked a spot on The Terrace.

My theory is that patios are so coveted in LA because, despite the year round beautiful weather, there aren't so many great outdoor dining spaces.  It's inexplicably odd, but true.  Anyway, this is a lovely one and no sooner had I taken a seat on the sun-slathered banquet, when they covered half the patio with their retractable roof to shield us from burning or heating up.  Very conscientious, I must say.

First of all, the restaurant is not too pricey, especially for the level of experience (a wise choice in this climate–blah blah blah–I know, who wants to talk about that?).  I ended up taking a risk and ordering the Ahi Tartar with Chili & Mint, which is occasionally good and sometimes–when the tuna isn't quite right, the tomatoes are overused and the seasoning is nil–can be a dire mistake. This version was delicious, tangy and flavorful–perhaps the best Tuna Tartar I've had almost ever.  And my companion's Carpaccio was equally tasty.  (Why when I say "companion" does it evoke my grandmother's nurses for me?  Whatever, Driving MIss Daisy.)

The iced tea, which was delish and (rumor-has-it) is sometimes offered in peach, has a thick, juice-like appearance, which the waiter explained is because it's french-pressed like coffee.  He said that means the herbs are potent, but–whatever it truly means–the iced tea is very refreshing.

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(Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza–You Know I Can't Resist, My Driving Miss Daisy's Crab Ravioli and A Little View of the Patio)

I continued on the classic train with a Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza (lactard buffalo/not cow-style), which was really chewy (in a good way) and had incredibly fresh tomato sauce and an almost smokey flavor to the crust–I loved.  And, though I skipped dessert, I'm definitely planning to head back and hit that sweet stuff soon.

Rumor has it that breakfast is amazing (and extremely reasonable) and also there's Prosecco on tap on the way.  Especially by comparison to scenester spots like The Ivy, where celebs and execs go to make appearances and literally be seen, but the food is pricey and largely uneventful, Cecconi's seems like a lovely alternative.

But hopefully not too lovely.  Cause we'd all love to continue to be able to get in.  Even in an economy that's not so messed up (blah, blah blah–who wants to talk about that?)

Picture it, LA, 2010 . . . 

xo – N.

NYC (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / February 12th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

Ya'll know I'm a sucker for Television Without Pity (why do I suddenly have a southern twang?).

ANYWAY, they've gone above and beyond, offering up "Top Chef: Season 5 Misfires" for all crazed Top Chef NYC fans to enjoy.  (Can the above picture be added to the list of misfires, please? What is going on with Gail's dress?)  TWP is completely on point, as ushe.  And I'd like to offer up my top 3 list items from their larger bunch:

1. "The Guest Judge's Cookbooks are not Legitimate Prizes."  Seriously.

2. "The Mystery That Is Leah"–Hallelujah!  The wait is finally over.  Keeping her around was so clearly a producorial (um, made up word?) choice.  So over her ass.  She should have gone home instead of Jeff.  She should have gone home instead of Jamie (who I kind of didn't like, but it turns out that we took the same SAT prep course in NYC, so I had to root for her).  Anyway, I'll go out on a limb and say I kind of can't stand Hosea too. He looks like Play-Doh.

3. "Toby Young's 'Jokes'"–Okay, first of all I miss Gail.  Second of all, there is way too much male energy up there–it's like Tom is making decisions unchecked. Third of all, has anyone ever tried so damn hard to be funny and been less clever?  I mean, he is TERRIBLE off the cuff and should probably stick to writing.  They could have at least used Queer Eye's Ted Allen.

Actually, I feel so strongly that I'd like to list this grievance twice:

4. "Toby Young's 'Jokes.'"  Okay. 

Also, I'd like to add my own misfire to the list as well:

5. I usually love him, but why is Tom on the rag this season?  The rag, I tell you!

That's all.

xo – N.

P.S. I know the rumors are that Tom is gay, but I have such a hard time believing that.  Didn't he have the hots for Season 3's Casey?  He got all giddy around her and actually nicknamed her too.  I dunno. I'm just not quite a believer yet.