The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

Love and Marriage

Snow Day

New York City, Love and Marriage, Living For The WeekendAlexandra kingComment
mid-storm, Jonas

Well, despite my cynicism, Jonas turned out to be a whole lot more than the little storm in a teacup I had witheringly predicted. Saturday was a record breaker- the second highest snowfall in New York City history; and as Brooklynites slept soundly in their beds on Friday night, naughty Jonas whipped himself into a rage. Two and a half feet of snow was dumped onto the streets of Brooklyn, flung onto windows, slopped onto stoops. The city issued emergency measures- banning cars, shutting down transport and urging people not to go outside. We dutifully obeyed, but by 4pm, cabin fever had set in, and, with literally every jumper I own on my body, I persuaded Isaac to take a walk outside with me.

Isaac Jonas
two snow bunnies
Brooklyn Jonas

It truly felt other-worldly. Frightening. Lovely. Visibility at times was only about ten feet or so, busy intersections were totally empty and the only traffic in sight were other stir crazy (emphasis on crazy) civilians, wrapped in every layer they own, desperate for fresh air, and curious about such a new white world.

Alexandra kIng-Lyles TSWIL
jonas, brooklyn apre ski

Despite the wind and snow, we ventured a very long ten blocks to one of our standard haunts, The Double Windsor, which (god love you Double Windsor) was one of the few places open. Inside, it was pumping, with skis and sledges propped against the walls.  Apres-ski in Brooklyn! We dutifully drank hot toddies and ate too many french fries. Then began the truly punishing walk home (into rather than away from the blizzard). The snow smacked us hard on our cheeks and filled our eyes with water. Cue multiple groans of "who's idea was this?" (mine) and epic falls over walls of ice. A couple of times we stopped into the few open places on 7th Avenue for warmth. It took us about an hour to walk ten blocks.

kitty girls

FYI,  these girls know how to deal with a blizzard (cuddle, chill, stay the hell inside). I swear they are giving serious side-eye in this photo.

tswil chateau king lyles

Once home, we thawed out (courtesy of our battered old bathtub) made spaghetti and binge watched the new Netflix Chelsea Handler show (hilair and well done. Highly recommend). I had learned I have bad survival skills. But all was well.

Brooklyn in Jonas
isaac shovelling snow

The next day, after what had truly seemed like an interminable 24 hours (this girl is truly not made for staying inside- there's only so much hand stand practice I can do on the rug before the neighbors protest) the blizzard was over. Isaac cleared the steps and had a great time bonding with all our friends on our block, digging out cars and clearing the pavements.

brownstone under snow
street light and ice, TSWIL
thawing out Brooklyn

And now, on Monday, business as usual. The thaw begins. Oh Jonas, you were naughty as hell, but so pretty.

Christmas Gift Guide 2015: For Your Artistic, Sports Obsessed, Hotty Of A Husband

Gift Guides, Love and MarriageAlexandra kingComment
Hartwood Cookbook


Hartwood Cookbook, $28, to remind you of the amazing food you had on your honeymoon.

heatpack

Microwave Heat Pack, $38.95, to ease aching shoulders after carrying around giant paintings all day.


Benton's bacon , $30, (for four one pound packs) because it's hand smoked in Tennessee and legendarily good.


Leather House Shoes, $120, that are made by hand, modelled on a Civil War-era design and mould over time to the exact shape of his feet.


Tom Dixon glass and copper tank decanter, $145, because its next-level, future-heirloom beautiful

TSWIL

Tickets to a sports game, in this case, Dallas Mavericks vs Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Centre (there's a Shake Shack on site. YES) $50

wine gums tub

A giant tub of Wine Gums, $15.99, because you got him hooked on UK "candy" (sweets)


Burroughs Beard Oil , $28, which has an incredible woodsy, leathery smell. Hubba.

Boxing gloves TSWIL

Boxing Gloves, $99.99 for day-off fights with the training bags
 

Leatherman Multi Tool, $82.99, because, though terrifying looking, this is the kind of stuff that brings him joy

A Love Corner

Home and Design, Love and MarriageAlexandra kingComment
Photo by Katja Hentschel

Photo by Katja Hentschel

A few months back I was at the beautiful Williamsburg apartment of my friend Caris, interviewing her, over tea, for her The Street Where You Live feature. You can see the photos and interview from the shoot here, if you haven't already. But there was something that didn't make it into the piece. In the course of photographing and talking about all the stylish and thoughtful details that made up C's home, walking through her kitchen, I was struck by the way she had hung a sweet photo booth strip of her and husband over the lip of a canister of wooden spoons. It thought it was such a cute and unexpected detail. When I asked her about it, she explained it was more than just styling- she'd put the photo there, she said, because it was the apartment's "love corner".

Yes, according to feng shui, the Chinese principle that argues that certain organization principles can benefit one's life, the South West corner of your home contains mega-watt levels of love energy. Though this, without doubt, sounds a little hippy hippy shake, bear with me. The basics of feng shui principles (in short- light, de cluttered environments, spaces that harmonize) have always been ones I'm drawn to, for practical reasons, and are certainly good guidelines for the small apartment dweller. Fast forward to me, Iphone compass in hand, Park Slope's useless answer to Captain bloody Cook, ascertaining that my love corner was in fact (conveniently) where my fridge was. Quelle surprise, said no one- nom nom nom. Though I had vowed when Isaac and I first moved in, to leave the fridge, a common attractor of clutter, white and clean and magnet free, I instantly felt the need to gild my love corner appropriately, as in the photo above. And I must say, it makes me feel happy everytime I see it.


So go find your love corner, darling readers, and deck it out appropriately (and send me pics!). For some basics about feng shui principles, this article breaks it down a little.
 

Seven Great (And Unique) Wedding Readings

Love and MarriageAlexandra king4 Comments
Alexandra King-Lyles and Isaac Lyles wedding

It will surprise none of you, I'm sure, to know that I had a greedy FOUR poems read at my (approx 15 minute-long, that's basically the whole thing) wedding. The readings are so often one of my favourite parts of a ceremony, revealing as they do, so much about a couple and the love they share. However I appreciate that not everyone is a poetry buff, or particularly cares about it, or, frankly, has time in between the caterer and the table plan and the hyperventilating family members to give it too much thought- enter one bloody Corinthians or Dr bloody Zeuss or Kahil Gibran and The bloody Prophet. Don't get me wrong, all lovely (yawn) but certainly part of a stock roster of dependable wedding readings, the ones that come up, sleepily, dependably, on google searches. But, I insist, a wedding day calls for words that will move your audience- poems or readings that don't speak in platitudes, but instead surprise and move your guests (disclaimer: #5 and #7 of this list are poems I chose for my own wedding). In a bid to inspire anyone who's stumped, below are eight suggestions- authored by everyone from The Supreme Court to Frank O'Hara to Ann Drysdale, each a beautiful and unique reading strong enough to do true justice to a beautiful and unique love.

1) No Union Is More Profound Than Marriage by The Supreme Court of The United States (otherwise known as the most romantic piece of legislation of all time)

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.

2) Song of Smoke by Kevin Young


To watch you walk
cross the room in your black
corduroys is to see
civilization start—
the wish-
whish-whisk
of your strut is flint
striking rock—the spark
of a length of cord
rubbed till
smoke starts—you stir
me like coal
and for days smoulder.
I am no more
a Boy Scout and, besides,
could never
put you out—you
keep me on
all day like an iron, out
of habit—
you threaten, brick-
house, to burn
all this down. You leave me
only a chimney.
 

3) Friday by Ann Drysdale

The print of a bare foot, the second toe
A little longer than the one which is
Traditionally designated "great".
Praxiteles would have admired it.

You must have left in haste; your last wet step
Before boarding your suit and setting sail,
Outlined in talcum on the bathroom floor
Mocks your habitual fastidiousness.

There is no tide here to obliterate
Your oversight. Unless I wipe or sweep
Or suck it up, it will not go away.
The thought delights me. I will keep the footprint.

Too slight, too simply human to be called
Token or promise; I am keeping it
Because it is a precious evidence
That on this island I am not alone.

 

4) Cultural Studies by John Hicock

They were in the air on chairs,the bride and groom, when of course they needed a table so we lifted

a table, a dishwasher and our shoulders were strong enough,

a sofa and I began to understand

the demands of Judaism

when we let go and they stayed, decades, their children balloons

who’ve risen even higher, O love, that makes us want to live  in the sky with the hawks,

the clouds, the pollen, the dust,the planes, the satellites, the moon, the clear, the clear, the blue.

 

5) Animals by Frank O'Hara


Have you forgotten what we were like then

when we were still first rate

and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it's no use worrying about Time

but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves

and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal

we didn't need speedometers

we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn't want to be faste

r or greener than now if you were with me 

O you were the best of all my days
 

6) Abide by Jake Adam York


Forgive me if I forget

with the birdsong and the day’s

last glow folding into the hands

of the trees, forgive me the few

syllables of the autumn crickets,

the year’s last firefly winking

like a penny in the shoulder’s weeds,

if I forget the hour, if I forget

the day as the evening star

pours out its whiskey over the gravel

and asphalt I’ve walked

for years alone, if I startle

when you put your hand in mine,

if I wonder how long your light

has taken to reach me here.

7) The Amorous Shepherd by Fernando Pessoa

When I wasn’t with you
I loved Nature like a monk contemplating Christ...
Now I love Nature
Like a monk contemplating the Virgin Mary,
Religiously, in my own way, like before,
But in another way more moving and nearer.
I see the rivers better when I go with you
Through the fields to the bank of the rivers;
Sitting at your side looking at the clouds I look at them better—
You didn’t take me from Nature...
You changed Nature...
You brought Nature to my feet,
Because you exist I see it better, but the same,
Because you love me, I love it the same, but more,
Because you chose me to be with you and love you,
My eyes stare at everything more lingeringly.
I don’t regret anything I was before because I still am.
I only regret not having loved you.
Put your hands in mine
And let’s be quiet, surrounded by life.

 

I'm curious, what poems did you read at your wedding? Any suggestions to add to this list? I'd love to hear.

 

How to Stay in Love

Love and MarriageAlexandra king1 Comment
jane and serge

...according to science.

Full disclosure: Isaac and I have been driving each other a little crazy recently. In the last year alone, we got married, opened a business and moved house, a beautiful trifecta of very good things that nevertheless has been a lot to deal with. Don't get me wrong, I'm still obsessed with my husband, but, needless to say, there have been some quarrels along the way. Why is he physically incapable of finding things that are directly in front of him? Are we out of milk again? Dude, let's talk about that wet towel on the floor. Etc and so forth.

Anyway, at times when the going gets tough and the pesky covenant of marriage/real-deal-true-crazy-love denies the tough from getting going, I often remember this article from The Atlantic. It's about a study where psychologists John and Julie Gottman studied hundreds of newly married couples and monitored them over the years to discover who stayed together. By the end, armed with their data, the Gottman's claimed they could predict whether or not a couple would stay married with (gulp) 94 per cent accuracy. They termed the couples that had good marriages as "masters" and the ones who didn't as "disasters":

Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”

Yep-the secret to a long-lasting marriage? Just plain old kindness, says science. Of particular note for crotchety me:

"The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind. Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship.

"Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explained, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.”

John Gottman elaborated on those spears: “Disasters will say things differently in a fight. Disasters will say ‘You’re late. What’s wrong with you? You’re just like your mom.’ Masters will say ‘I feel bad for picking on you about your lateness, and I know it’s not your fault, but it’s really annoying that you’re late again.’”

And finally, I loved this part.

"There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work."

A good reminder. Find the full article here. Super worth reading.

P.S The quote that changed my life and three game changer words at work



Getting Married? Ten Things I Wish I'd Known.

New York City, Love and MarriageAlexandra king4 Comments
Alexandra King-Lyles wedding




Between roughly the ages of 26 and 36, google calendars light up all speckled like the 4th of July fireworks. Invitations arrive wrapped neatly in twine. Dresses are purchased. Hitchcock-esque Holiday Inns are located. Tears are shed. Confetti is thrown. As we enter our collective salad years (not to be taken literally, obviously, you want that cake) the decade of weddings begins. At the start of this summer, I had lunch with a group of friends, who in the course of conversation, all tried to outdo each other with how many weddings they were going to between June and September. I think the winner had twelve (for the record I had two this summer and they were both absolutely lovely thank you very much). Anyway, I think I do love weddings so much more now that I had one of my own. I appreciate the effort that goes into them, all the ridiculous and beautiful minutia. When I see the bride or groom walking towards their bride or groom, I remember standing outside a door over a year ago, hearing this song start up, holding my dads arm. It takes me back and fills me with wonder that we still all want to do this mad and crazy and totally boots to the wind thing. True love, bbs. It's still where it's at.

Anyway, another beautiful summer of weddings got me thinking about what I wish I'd known when planning mine, so I decided to write ten unsolicited but very much heartfelt pieces of advice for prospective brides and those who love them. Veni, vidi, vici.


1) Brace yourself. I'm going straight to the hard part. At least one close friend or family member, perhaps both, perhaps just one, perhaps several, will completely lose their minds and behave strangely or badly before, during or after your nuptials. It may be as minor as a family tiff over dinner, it may be as serious as losing a friend. This is all part of the process I'm afraid, darlings. You see, weddings aren't just milestones in the lives of the bride and groom, but for your close friends and family too (that commonly heard platitude- "it's your day", nope, not true, more on this to come). With our modern lives no longer mapped out by social seasons- trips to the races or the proms or a weekly unloading of alms, weddings, with their "Save the Dates" and dress codes and gift registries are among what remain. Whether it's a too-small outfit someone bought especially to fit into by that date, an estranged spouse he/she wants to impress or a friend who is suddenly overcome by the fact that they absolutely hate your future husband/wife or just life generally, for a few of your guests, walking through that door, there is something hinging on that wedding that isn't at all to do with you, but is terribly meaningful to them. This is what makes weddings so incredibly beautiful (all that emotional energy! all that expectation! all this freshness and newness and love! weeps!) but also what can make certain people become irrationally emotional and demanding. Also, on a side note, don't expect divorced parents, broken up couples or perennially nutty people to suddenly be on their best behavior. Accommodate them accordingly, it's part of the process. And when someone does become tedious, and someone will, at least one, try not to sweat it. Also cry and drink wine.

2) You will be told as a bride to be variants of two sides of the coin, and they are both wrong. They go like this:


 a) The first rule of thought is that your wedding should be filled with 'musts''. You must have a bouquet 'toss'. You must have the rabbi/pastor/Wiccan druid that has married all of your other family members. You must spend 2000 dollars on 'favour' pencils in Pantone colors stamped with your initials (soon to be trodden on during a serious throw down to the Beastie Boys). This is all mental and i encourage you strongly to ignore any pressure. There are no musts. UNLESS, CAVEAT, they are ultimately minor and coming from a person contributing a substantial amount of money to your wedding. You shouldn't be bullied by anyone, but if it's something small, just let it go and do it. Even Mariah Carey has to be told no sometimes.


b)The second thing you're told is that you should just do it your way. Do what you want. IT'S YOUR DAY. This sounds lovely, but the immutable fact is, it's just not your day unless a) you paid for it in it's entirety (go you!) or b) no one else is there- therein lies the joy of eloping. If an elopement isn't for you, you've got to actually think about your guests and tailor your plans to them, and, truly, that doesn't have to be too much of a drag. The reason why they're there is to share in your love and happiness, and that's a beautiful thing, so give them special love and enjoy that planning process. Will all 100 of your wedding guests enjoy a bar that only serves Brooklyn IPA and/or red wine? Does everyone enjoy a mariachi band or techno DJ? Will everyone be keen on camping? If the answer is no, and in these examples it is, it really is, reconsider. Make sure you've got the gin and tonics for your Grandpa, the dependable hip hop classics for the girls to grind to, soft drinks for non-drinkers, a roof over the head and hairdryer to hand for your very indoorsy mother. It's really easy to make everyone happy, whatever your budget- lots to drink, good music, tasty food, a back up in case of rain. If you've planned a birthday party, you can plan a wedding. But think about it like this- if you had a color-themed birthday party four hours away by car with not enough beers, an hour long speech in full sun and only a string quartet, everyone, even if they loved you dearly, would assume you were losing it or just being a bit of a tosser. See what I mean?


3) So many things will go wrong. So many. Flights will be missed. Guests will bail last minute. Flowers will wilt prematurely. The only thing you can intrinsically depend on is that absolutely no one will notice.


4) Tell your vendors it's a party. Only use the word "wedding" if you absolutely have to, because it immediately adds about 20 per cent to the price. I realized this was happening very early in the game and played it accordingly. The guys that strung my string lights claimed to have never seen so many flowers at a bar mitzvah. I smiled wryly and spent the 400 bucks I saved on mani pedis for my bridesmaids. Shabbat Shalom y'all!


5) Make loads of decisions really fast as soon as you get engaged. You need six months to plan a wedding, absolute max. One of my dear friends planned her beautiful wedding in six weeks. All you're doing in that time is procrastinating. We figured out a date, booked our venue and decided on a caterer within a week of being engaged, all three probably the biggest and best decisions we made. The rest was mainly just me wrenching my hair at over-ambitious Pinterest boards and being consistently paranoid I had forgotten something (I hadn't).


6) Real talk: unless you just swapped out your promise ring you are not going to be having sex on your wedding night. You will in the morning. It's FINE. It will also be pretty much the same, just better in the eyes of God, I guess, if you believe in that sort of thing. Or if you spent your formative years in some sort of very strict and austere Catholic school and then I'm guessing it's kind of kinky and awesome.


7) It's a good idea to do the posed photos. When I first got engaged, and was feeling utterly clueless about weddings (I had attended precisely four before my own) I profiled all the cool chicks I knew who were married and asked them what they felt was the best thing they had done. I also asked them, whether, if they could do it again, they might have changed something. Every single person said that either the best thing they had done was getting a great photographer or the worst thing they had done was not getting a good enough one. Guys, I know it's anathema to those who never really thought about weddings before and aren't necessarily into the pomp and ceremony of it (I definitely fell into this category) but the posed shots really matter, because a cheap venue photog/distant mate who is quite arty on Instagram and also a guest (by the way, a person should either be a guest or a vendor- never both) and has had at least four glasses of prosecco by his tenth click of the shutter doesn't know who your best friends are or why it's really important to get a shot of you with your Grandma. One friend confided in me, woefully, that most of her wedding photos consisted of a bunch of photos of her new husband's friends dancing. She'd wanted a carefree unposed vibe and had asked a friend of a friend to do photographs for cheap. That meant she ended up without a single photo that she could put in a frame on the mantelpiece. Whatever the budget, whether you've spent three grand or three hundo or three pints, just take an hour with you and your photographer and your new spouse and your families and besties. You really want those shots. Do them. Do them!


8) Accept that you will end up feeling absolutely mental in the run up to the big day (you will read on smug blogs that certain brides never panic-know that they are either straight up lying or filthy rich with ten wedding planners wearing Britney-in-concert-headsets or both). My own sporadic but terrifying mania manifested itself in obsessively checking the weather, primal screaming in the bathroom and just generally channeling Angie in "Girl, Interrupted". Make sure to apologize profusely to your loving besties who are forced to ride along with you on your one way ticket to cray-town. I'd say you've got 72 hours before it's okay for someone to give you a clout around the head (FYI I'm pretty sure I overstepped this deadline).


9) If the dance floor starts to lag at any point, immediately play "Ignition" by R. Kelly.


10) Here is the secret nobody knows. The wedding, how ever you choose to hold it, is so minor in the grand scheme of things. I crack up now when I think about how seriously and QUIZZICALLY i thought about table settings, like I was Marie bloody Curie staring into a petri dish, rather than a formally carefree but always over anxious 20-something finding herself irrationally stumped by table cloths. It's almost like that thing that I've heard so many new mums say, seemingly nonsensically, fresh from their terrifying and agonizing 72 hour labour, a-flush with love, holding their sweet babes in their arms while sitting casually on a giant bag of frozen peas- "I don't even remember the pain." Suddenly, the wedding's over, and then, duh, you get it. What matters is you got married, and being married is heaven. The joy that you get walking down the aisle? Massive. The joy that you get when your beloved first casually refers to you as his wife in the supermarket checkout line? Just as massive. And it stays that massive. No one tells you that. Except me, just now.
 

TGIF- 04/09/15

TGIF, Food and Drink, Fashion & Beauty, Books & Words, Love and Marriage, New York City, TravelAlexandra kingComment
Alexandra King-Lyles
alexandra king-lyles TSWIL

TGIF and happy September! Isn't it such a thrill to feel the seasons changing? Though it remains hot as Hades in NYC right now, there's no doubt that the tendrils of Autumn are sneaking their way through the air on the breeze- there's a clarity in those whispers of wind that promises change. Though I often nurture dreams of packing it all in and heading to California (usually in the depths of a New York January) I know that were I to ever leave my beloved NYC, I'd miss that. We all need markers don't we? And when life is too busy to journal or photograph or commemorate properly, when all the hectic days combine fast and close and linear, it's so nice to have the signpost of a season. Bring on the scarves, jackets and blankets of fallen leaves, say I. I'm ready.

My weekly best of the net below.


Summer may be almost officially over. But it's still hot here. And I'll be sunbathing in the park to this song just one last time this weekend


Taylor Swift vs Socrates
 

This chick gives zero shits. Applause. 


I love Mindy


Emerson Fry goodness making the coming colder weather seem oh so appetising


And this Autumn, I'm totally forcing Isaac to drive us upstate so we can admire some of that beautiful fall foliage


How to really help the world's new refugees 


YUM! 
 

What a cool idea. An app that adjusts the brightness of your computer screen to the time of day. Totally trying it out

A chic ceiling clothes rack


Excited to watch this

A sweet and interesting perspective on travel