Thursday, September 29, 2011

Still at the office...


Since I had to work late tonight, I thought I'd put up a few of the office pictures I find inspiring.  We're going into the busiest time of year here so I'll be spending some quality time here, might as well try to make it pleasant.  This isn't the kind of office environment where you do big decorating endeavors, but I figure a few "pretties", as my college roommate used to call them, here and there would do some good.  Also, I could probably clean the space up a bit too - arrange some papers, spray some lysol around, clean off my white boards...

Usually I try to prompt about getting out the door so that I can spend some time with DB before her bedtime and hop back online once she's asleep, but we're going into board presentations so I got out of here late tonight, and I guess DB had an exhausting day because she was asleep by seven (she usually clonks out at eight thirty or nine) so no diplo-baby for me today.  Sad mommy...

So I guess I have a bit of extra time to figure out how I'm going to make my office look like Anna Wintour's over a bowl of cheerios for dinner.

And for the night owls out there, don't foget, last day for our stationery giveaway - enter now or forever hold your peace!









Anna's Office via Fashionista.com, Who What Wear Offices via thecoveteur.com, second office via Housebeautiful.com, third office via unpluggd.com and last office via citified.blogspot.com - full inspiration board and source links on Pinterest.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Office Space...

Office Space...

Office Space... by thenewdiplomatswife on Polyvore.com

When I first starting working full time, I had and office.  A small office, but an office.  Then I had an "officle" - essentially an office without a fourth wall and door.  Then I had a cubicle, with no complete walls.  Then I was downsized.  Then at my new job I had an office but with no window that I had to share with an office mate who burped a lot.  Then I had a cubicle with even lower walls, and then a series of subsequent cubicles.  Then I had no space altogether since I was slated to go abroad.  And then I started working in our living room, and then our guest bedroom.  And then I got promoted twice and we moved back.  Which means that I not only have an office, but one of the bigger ones.  I've arrived! Well...I don't know about arrived but it's nice to get a bit of space.

Since I inherited my office from someone who moved to another group, and since I have been working from home for the past three years, the office is a bit sparse and in these new and transparent times, it's also glass on two sides, and cardboard (well not cardboard, but you know what I mean) on two walls.  But I'll take it.

I was hoping to get some e-design advice to help get it up to snuff but it turns out, hiring an e-designer is kind of hard.  One didn't write back.  One wrote back two weeks later and gave me a rather steep price for a rather small space that really only needs accessorizing.  The third one isn't available until November.  Gah.  Looks like I'm going to have to roll up my sleeves and do it myself, which might mean that it ends up less coordinated but more fun.  I've been collecting some thoughts on pinterest but here's what I'm inspired by as of late.

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You still have until Friday to enter our very first giveaway!

Our very first giveaway!


Yesterday we brought you Notes from the Field from Botswana, courtesy of our interview with Ms. Amy Ruth.  And today we bring you a giveaway from the very same Ms. Amy Ruth.  Designed in Botswana and digitally printed in sweet  home Alabama, these cards are a great way to drop someone a line to let them know you're thinking of them while out and about on diplo-adventures.

Full disclosure, Amy Ruth did send me a some of her cards my way, but she is graciously doing the same for a lucky winner.  To enter the giveaway for a collection of cards, please visit Amy Ruth's website, Amy Ruth Designs, and leave a comment below on this page stating which design is your favorite - we'll be taking entrants until midnight EST on Friday, and announce the winner (drawn randomly) on Monday.

Here are a few previews to get you started!





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Notes from the Field: B is for Botswana!



We're back with more Notes from the Field  - this week from Botswana in Africa.  Amy Ruth is holding down the fort as a diplo-spouse, after being uprooted from her job as a designer for womens clothing in NYC.  That's what marrying a diplomat will do to you.  In addition to looking for grass and making sure she doesn't end up as a leopard's dinner (um, how close is that leopard in the picture above?), Amy Ruth also designs her own stationery line.  Read about life in Botswana below...

Also, come back tomorrow for a very special annoucement...hint...it may or may not be our very FIRST giveaway...and it may or may not have something to do with Amy Ruth's designs - more tomorrow!

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Diplo-mat or Diplo-spouse?  Diplo-spouse

Current Post:   
Gaborone, Botswana

Three words to describe your current post:
Dry
Sunny, with clear blue skies
wild
Best thing about your current post:  
Driving around town and seeing herds of cattle of the main thorough fares.
You have visitors in town for the weekend at current post, what does the weekend look like?
We usually take visitors out to our local nature reserve for a game drive, rhino tracking or cheetah visit, followed up by a dinner on the reserve, where we may see some rhinos.
If you’re in current post, you must try: 
Going up to the northern part of the country to the Okavanga Delta and Chobe National park to go on safari.  There are some of the largest elephant herds in the world here, and it is pretty fantastic to witness. 
  
Most difficult about living in current post:  The lack of grass, I never realized how much I love grass.  We don’t have any grass really, most of the green is on the trees, so I keep reminding myself look up!

Biggest adventure at post? 
It’s a toss up between camping while on safari, and trying to sleep while hearing hyenas laugh, the hippos coming out of the water to eat and lions calling each other in the back ground, and the frequent fuel shortages.  We have been on two separate road trips where we have encountered a fuel shortage, it is quite an adventure to be in the middle of the desert and not really know if you will get home because there or may or may not be fuel in the next town.

What's your daily uniform? 
It’s very casual here, but hot so I usually just throw on some old shorts and a tank.

When did you realize you were far away from home? 
It was pretty clear to me in the first month when we had no internet, no car, our house phone wasn’t working, and I didn’t have a cell phone yet.  It was fairly clear to me that I was in Africa and I was very far from home. 

What’s the most important thing about re-creating your home at post? 
I don’t know that I really try to recreate home at post, but I think it is having our own artwork and pictures to put up.  Having your own art and color in the house reminds you of all the things and people you love.
Three things you can’t live without at post?  Hmm this is hard, because you kind learn to live without most things.  However that being said, the things I want when I get back to the States are a great bagel with cream cheese, a Starbucks latte (I know, I know so typically American) and some good Mexican!
One thing you thought you couldn’t live without but have had to?  Grass, I truly miss grass.
What did you wish someone had told you before leaving for this post? 
I don’t think anyone could have really prepared me more than I was, just perhaps in the lack of things available in the city to do.  If you are looking for classes there is not a lot out there. 

You’re having guests over on Saturday night, what’s on the menu? 
We would probably barbeque, there is a lot of beef here and if you are having locals over you need to serve meat. 
Dream post for next assignment? Why? 
I never try to select a dream post, because that would make it really disappointing, but I do think about the things I would like to have in the next post.  I would love to have a bit bigger city, with grass and outdoor activities.  Although there is great safari in Botswana, you can’t go hiking or running in the same way because there are wild predators. 
Parting thoughts?
This post has been an adventure, and I’m sure it will continue to be one.  The wildlife is fantastic, and I have loved every game drive and all animal sightings we have had. 








Photos by Amy Ruth.

Friday, September 23, 2011

100 Seconds, 100 Years of Fashion

Full disclosure, I originally saw this on Coco Rocha's blog, whom I adore, and thought it might serve as as a bit of inspiration for finally sitting down and making some fall fashion pics this weekend.  A beautiful run through the ages, and of course, love the hats which sadly fade away after the 50's. Now if someone could just pull together what they think the next 100 will look like.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A cozy fall cottage...



So normally I would consider yesterday the first day of fall, and some say it's today and I bet some say it's tomorrow.  Who knows? It's right around now - though you wouldn't know it from the 80 degree sauna that is Washington, DC today.

But to get in the spirit, I thought I would pass along some photos of a little cottage in the Catskills featured on the Nate Berkus Show.  Now we can have an entirely separate discussion on Nate Berkus, his hair and his talent (and the amazing shoes of his man), but I'll save that for that later (ooo! note to self, feature Nate as a diplo-man of style!) but we'll save today for the house.  This isn't a look that I would normally go for in my own home, but I love this look for a weekend cottage, and I love especially the use of suzani and just enough oopmh from the wallpaper on the kitchen wall.  Color to make it bright, but layers to make it lived-in - this isn't the work of a designer, it's the work of someone who really cares about their home.

This home is exactly what it's supposed to be - cozy, homey, inviting, warm - lots of places to curl up with a good book and a mug of warm cider, while a record scratches away from the other room.  This is a place for naps on the couch, one-pot stews on the stove, and smoke from the chimney.  Hmmm...do you think the owner would mind if I invite myself for the weekend? I'll even bring the cider.








All photos from The Nate Berkus Show - unfortunately, my computer is having an off day and shutting down incessantly,  so I can't seem to find who to credit specifically for the images, but all are from the show's website.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Notes from the Field: Viva Mexico (DF) - Part II



Welcome back! Today we have the second part of our Notes from the Field, straight out of Mexico City.  If you missed Part I, be sure to check it out for helpful advice and pics from out and about in Mexico that definitely made me want to buy a plane ticket to visit sooner rather than later.  As I mentioned before, our illustrious diplo-spouse on the ground pens her own blog, This Gringo Honeymoon, about her new life in old Mexico - get started with her three favorite posts.  I especially love the Apartment Before and After.  State Department employees take note, there is a way to personalize your life around Drexel!

Shopping in San Miguel
Apartment Before and After
Holiday Outfit Series: Mexian Posada

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What’s your daily uniform?
I work from home and travel back to DC for business, so when I am in Mexico City my daily uniform is super casual – usually jeans and a v-neck tshirt.  When my husband comes home I throw on a scarf and cowboy boots (right now it’s the rainy season) and we go to dinner.  If we have a function or work dinner then I return to my trusty work wardrobe so I fit in with everyone else who is coming from the office.     

One thing you wished someone had told you before arriving?
This is a bit logistical, but I wish that someone had told me I could have fit almost all of my kitchen stuff in my unaccompanied air baggage – its surprising how much weight they give you and I didn’t take nearly enough advantage of it.  It is stuff that would have been nice to have sooner rather than later.  Also, I didn’t really realize how cold it would get in our apartment in the winters.  Even though it warms up to the 60s or 70s during the day, when the nights are cold and you have no heat and tile floors, it can stay pretty chilly inside!             

Three things you can’t live without at post?
My dogs (do they count as 2?), the internet and my running shoes.
One thing you thought you couldn’t live without but have had to?  Either air conditioning or central heat, because we don’t have either.
You’re having guests over on Saturday night, what’s on the menu?
Enchiladas, homemade salsa and guacamole, rice and beans and lots of mezcal.
Dream post for next assignment? Why? 
Oh, I would go anywhere.  Part of me would like to stay in Latin America and keep improving my Spanish.  Part of me wants to try something really new - maybe Africa?
Parting thoughts? 
Mexico City is a fantastic place that has something for just about everyone - we are always up for visitors!

The pyramids at Teotihuacan

Mr. Corn, esquites vendor in our neighborhood

Tlacoyos from our neighborhood tianguis

Crater lake in Nevado de Toluca volcano

Xochimilco

Flower markets at Xochimilco

Tulum
All photography by This Gringo Honeymoon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Notes from the Field: Viva Mexico (DF) - Part I


Mariachis in Garibaldi Square

So excited to share with you the latest installment of Notes from the Field, brought to you by one of my favorite bloggers, This Gringo Honeymoon.  Some of you might remember her as the blogger behind Todo de Lujo, but she did a little updating after her move to Mexico City last year.  Always a go-to for the fashionable and stylish - including around the basics of what to wear work, how to accessorize for work, and what to wear during the holidays, she's the first person I turn to when I say "but I have nothing to wear!". Oh yeah, and she arranges flowers.

And for those of you living or visiting Mexico City, she should be the first person you turn to if you're thinking "but I have nothing to do" (or nothing to wear when I do it!). 

I've split up her interview and pics into two separate posts so check back tomorrow for Part II. 

And for those looking for a little guidance on where to get the goods when it comes to Mexico, check out her handy-dandy shopping guide for San Miguel - report back with your finds!

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Diplo-mat or Diplo-spouse? Diplo-spouse
Current Post: Mexico City, Mexico

Three words to describe your current post:
Big, loud and incredibly close

Best thing about your current post:
The food!  I think I could live here forever and not get sick of tacos.  It makes me happy that Mexico City is starting to get its due as a foodie destination.  Also the weather.  People are always surprised to learn that Mexico City is not nearly as hot as DC.  We are at over 7,000 feet above sea level and so it doesn’t get terribly hot and when it starts to the rainy season clears the air and cools things off.  And the beaches don’t hurt – we are a hop skip and a jump away from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.   
You have visitors in town for the weekend at current post, what does the weekend look like?If they haven’t been to Mexico City before we definitely spend a day at the pre-Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan.  They are a short drive outside the city and I am so impressed every time I see them, plus the climb to the top is a great workout.  We take in a Ballet Folklorico performance or a Lucha Libre one evening, depending on the schedule.  If it’s really just a weekend trip our guests usually have to choose between a trip to Frida’s house in Coyoacan or a lazy day on the water in Xochimilco listening to mariachis.  And there is so much more – museums, ruins, murals, art, food – one weekend is not enough!
If you’re in current post, you must try:Escamole (ant larvae), chapulines (grasshoppers) and gusanos de maguey (caterpillars from the maguey plant).  Why not?!  Although, I must admit I don’t always practice what I preach.  I think the one thing everyone should definitely try is mezcal.  While it is becoming more popular elsewhere, you will never find the variety and quality that we have here.      

Most difficult about living in current post:Honestly?  It is a really easy post.  Traffic is the stuff of legends, but I don’t drive so I’ve escaped that curse.  The pollution is real, but for better or worse you get used to it.  I think that some people get frustrated by the realities of living in a megacity – there are people everywhere and the noise is unending.  There are times when you love it and times when you could use a little break. 

Biggest adventure at post?
I think my husband would say driving to work every morning.  But for me, it was one of our first day trips out of town.  We went to a butterfly sanctuary to see the Monarch butterflies in migration.  We rode horses up a mountain and were surrounded by millions of Monarchs clinging to every surface.  It was the type of thing you see on National Geographic and we had the opportunity to see it up close.    

When did you realize you were far from home?
This past Sunday. 

What’s the most important thing about re-creating your home at post?
We chose to bring our own furniture rather than keep the government provided furniture.  We also painted and hung our favorite things on the walls.  A very wise woman (wink wink) advised me to bring lots of family pictures and it has made a big difference.  Even though our apartment pretty much looks like everyone else’s, it feels like our home.  More importantly, we’ve kept our same routines.  We have coffee in the mornings. We walk the dogs together when we can.  We go on a dinner date the night before either one of us travels.  It feels like home. 

Come back tomorrow for Part II of Interview and pics!

Breakdancers in the Zocalo

Los Cabos

Tacos de cochinita pibil, my favorite

San Miguel de Allende

Decorations for Cinco de Mayo in Puebla

Talavera tile on a church in Puebla


Coyoacán, a neighborhood south of el Centro and home to Frida Kahlo

 All photography by This Gringo Honeymoon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Ba-Ba-Baku!

Remember our Notes from the Field from Baku? Our illustrious diplo-wife hadn't had a chance to take photos but here's a pretty comprehensive video tour of the city, in a Baku State of Mind., in preparation for their role as a host city for Eurovision 2012. Check back tomorrow for a new Notes from the Field - hint, it's from south of the border!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Shots: Hard-boiled...

From an amazing lobster boil our friends threw last weekend...mmmmmm....



Photo by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Exotic America: Glitter, Gold and Amr Diab

Well...these Friday posts are starting to turn into posts about things that were supposed to be, rather than things that actually are.  We had plans for a very special Exotic America outing this weekend - after depositing diplo-baby at the in-laws we had ridiculous plans to see Amr Diab (you know that song "habibiiii...habibiiiiiiiiiiiiii"?) in Atlantic City at the Taj Mahal.  What better occassion than that to dress oneself as a human glitter egg?

Alas, much like Labor Day, this is not to be.  More work for the diplo-husband - who knew bureaucrats could have urgent matters? So weekend plans foiled again but here's what I would have had on.  You'll note that the theme is "gold...lots of it"  - though judging by Amr's video below, perhaps "cigarette girl from Carmen" is the theme I should have considered.  But it's Amr...in New Jersey...at the Taj Mahal...If this isn't a case of more is more, I don't know what is.

Habibi...Habibi...

Object of my affection: the vroom, vroom jacket...

I left for work this morning, and it seemed like a warm, humid day - I got out of the office and fall rains and winds set in out of nowhere.  Wishing I had a little leather number (what can I say, I'm shamelessly influenced by This Gringo Honeymoon) to throw on.

What I don't understand though is why this leather number from JCrew (Belstaff or no Belstaff) is $1495 (though it does come with free shipping - ha!).  Maybe it has a lot of pockets? Many people are always astonished how expensive wallets are in comparison to purses but it's because of the higher quantity of pockets.  More pockets, more cost.  Which is why an LV Neverfull that can hold three small children will set you back $800 but a an LV wallet that can hold 30 credit cards can set you back $1000.  So in short, this jacket better have a whole lot of pockets.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A little less crying over spilt milk - Heathrow steps up...



So I'm sure a lot of you might remember the debacle at Heathrow Airport - Crying over spilt milk? To say I was angry was an understatement, sure.  But there's an experience and then all that comes after it.  I wrote about it here, and then followed up on the responses here, here and here.  And I give Heathrow a lot of credit for taking the time to address my complaint, to issue an apology, and to do a fair amount of correspondence to get the details right, and to actually change the original website language to be more transparent of what limitations actually are.  And then they answered (based on all of input and support I got from you and your letters) each one of the complaints they received from fellow readers.  But to their even greater credit, they didn't stop there.

Yesterday the airport let me know that they hosted a roundtable for "mummy bloggers" and picked some of the most influential mummy ladies and their little ones for a behind the scenes visit at the airport (including a tour of the inside of an Airbus A380 - gah! jealous! diplo-husband will be even more jealous when he hears about this).  Then they sat down for a discussion of what can make the airport an easier experience when traveling with children and chatted through the issues - you can see the highlights in the video below (and check 1'20 or so for my shout out!).  In watching the video, you'll note that the mummies are pretty forward in their requests - things like video games in the departure lounges.  I have to confess that the business traveler in me goes weak in the knees at that thought, but I bet if I were hypothetically a mom of two school-aged boys between long legs of flights I would welcome it with open arms.  But whatever, that's not even the point - since from my understanding this was a brainstorming discussion where the mummies put forth their opinions and ideas based on their own experience, and the airport took the time to listen and get the perspectives of a group of travelers that sometimes have unique needs.  

I don't know how much they'll implement but they seem to have some interest.  I actually strangely haven't been back at Heathrow since April but I'm headed back next month so I can report back.  However, friends on the UK ground said that they have indeed seen some visible changes at security in the airport, like the family and children's lanes, friendlier pictures, and animal tracks for the kids (and certain adults, ahem) to follow.

I don't necessarily agree with all the mummies asked for, but some things are also really good ideas -  but it's okay to get lots of different perspectives.  People with infants will have different needs than people with older children, and multiple children, and working mothers who happen to be traveling without their children.   That's the point of a roundtable, to get different opinions out there.  And to Heathrow's credit, they made some effort here, and then got the word out - I may not have been crazy about that one particular experience there, but I think their response deserves a kudos.

For the full set of milk debacle posts, please see: 
Crying over Spilt Milk
Crying over Spilt Milk, update
Crying over Spilt Milk - The Response Part I
Crying over Spilt Milk - The Response Part II


On your marks...get set...Missoni!




Today is the day...anything in the women's or children's wear section made the computer freeze and crash but was able to snag a few bowls and boxes that I'm planning on incorporating into my office re-do!

In case you haven't seen it 435 times already, here was their 30 second spot featuring Margherita Missoni - which I have to say was brilliantly done.  The colors are gorgeous, the plot fun and the phone line at the end..genius.  I think this whole campaign from start to finish was excellent execution, from the moment they started building the hype months ago. I think they can chalk this up as Target's most successful design collaboration yet.  Probably becuase it spanned such a wide swath of items - the design world loves it, the fashion world loves it, the mommies love it...you name it, there is a fan.  They took something that was iconic but a bit tired and re-invented it with a lot of fun and vigor, they introduced an otherwise little known brand to very mass market and they made the entry affordable but still limited and desirable through scarcity.  I think the marketing team that ran this campaign has earned every penny of their bonus on this one.

You can't even get on the Target website right now but keep checking back, there is likely more Missoni to come...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Exhibit: Remembrance and Reflection



I know it's back to business as usual, back to Monday, back to Fashion Week, back to the jobs plan...but I think for families most closely associated with 9/11, it might not quite be so easy.

Yesterday, in addition to celebrating the little things in life with family and friends, and taking a bit of time for our faith and to be grateful for the good things in our own lives as they are now, we also wanted to commemorate the day by visiting the Remembrance and Reflection exhibit at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian.  It was not to be, despite the fact that we were there early, the wait was already over 45 minutes long - a bit tough for a little one in tow.  The exhibit closed yesterday but I wanted to share a few photos, some of which I used when putting together the 9/11 slideshow for kirtsy, since they bring a much more human element to that day.  A burned but surviving flag, Mayor Giuliani's cell phone, a wrangled door from a fire truck, a china place setting from Windows on the World, a charm bracelet from someone's desk... The exhibit was perhaps most notable for having these items on "display" but not as an exhibit in the traditional sense. Instead of housing the items in display cases, they were laid out in the open for people to view.  There is something very human about seeing an item just "there", as if stating that this isn't just a museum piece, but a real testament that belonged to someone and that meant something in their lifetime.

Everything moves forward and soon fashion or work or whatever moves right back in as we get back to our daily lives, but these images are worth taking a moment to absorb.  If you missed the exhibit, you can view the full collection of images and the stories behind them here.





All images from the Remembrance and Reflection Exhibit, American Museum of History at the Smithsonian.