Documentary. If you were the scion of one of the most prominent families in New York, handsome, rich and connected, would you toss it all aside to become a monk atop a mountain? That is exactly what Nicholas Vreeland (grandson of Diana), did in his 20s. After a trip to India and a subsequent encounter with a Tibetan monk in New Jersey, Nicky, who was on the way to becoming a photographer and had apprenticed with Irving Penn, left to become a monk and study for 13 years at a remote monastery. The charming documentary, Monk with a Camera, retraces his journey, all the way to the Dalai Lama’s encouragement to move back to the West and, ultimately, become the Abbot, the first non Tibetan ever, of a Buddhist monastery in India. Nicholas Vreeland’s sincerity and, at times, struggle are narrated by him with an even keel, plenty of charm and beautiful archival footage, including the photographs he took and sold to raise money for the monastery’s renovation. Humble, devoted and chic: a strangely attractive mixture.
Make-up. I have been experimenting with a less is more approach to make-up for quite some time, through trial and error of many products, as I felt my old ones were not serving me anymore. Here is what I found that I liked, and have now become my go-to for both everyday and special occasions. Boomstick I found online – I saw an ad and followed it to the website, mainly because it was purported as a product developed by 60-year-old model Cindy Joseph. Boomstick Color ($24) is just that: an all-purpose stick that blends with every type of skin tone, and is easily applied as a blush to brighten a make-up free face. It works even with my combination skin, it’s not greasy, it doesn’t streak and it just adds an overall subtle glow. I use it most days with Boomstick Glimmer ($24), a pearlescent stick I apply to my lids, sometimes adding a dash of mascara.
For days when I need something more polished, Armani is my new favorite: the Luminessence CC Cream with an SPF 35 (I use #6 as I am quite dark)) is just as good as all the reviews say and worth $52. It’s supposed to be a tinted moisturizer but it offers more coverage than a moisturizer without the thickness of a foundation. It evens out my skin tone and lights up my face. Paired with a very subtle cream blush, Fluid Sheer ($62), I look so put together in that no-make up/makeup look I have been trying to achieve forever. The only downsize to Armani products is that they are tested on animals so I am not practicing what I preach here.
Mystery. After I learnt English as a teenager, in an effort to take the language up a notch, I read voraciously, and one of the first authors I came across, probably by chance at an airport, was Ruth Rendell. Dame Ruth died last week and the news brought back to mind all those paperbacks I devoured at the time, without probably realizing how elegant they were. I was riveted by the stories, that never had the gore we have now come to expect of mystery novels. Ruth Rendell introduced me to the pleasure of the modern murder-mystery I still read now when I need a palate cleanser. Time to revisit Inspector Wexford, me says.
Pottery. One of the things sofagirl and I have in common is a love for pottery. Her kitchen has open shelving stacked with white plates and bowls while my collection veers more towards the mismatches, in shades of yellow and blue. I thought of her when I came across Granit dinner plates from Design Within Reach. In 1926, a granite sink factory in Budapest hired Eva Zeisel, 20 at the time, as a designer. Her department, that only lasted a year, became famous for the sensuous lines of her white vases and plates and launched her career. Sixty years later, Zeisel reprised those themes and designed this granite dinnerware that DWR is now revamping.
Hypochondria tamed. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t marry a doctor – I thought having a doctor handy would cure me of my hypochondria but, on second thoughts, having all that available information at my disposal, might have exacerbated my condition. I have come a long way but I still pine for the home visits the family doctor would do when I was sick, as a child, in Italy. I don’t quite see the point of dragging oneself to a doctor’s office when one is sick but I understand the untenable economics of home visits. Heal, though, is an app – yes, an app – that provides just that. Do you have the flu? Kid has a bout of vomiting? Need a physical? Enter your address in the app, with a brief description of the problem and a doctor (with an assistant) will be at your door within an hour, with diagnostics instruments all for $99.00 (if you need a prescription, it will be $19 more). Yes, more expensive than using insurance but for a minor emergency, I would give it a shot. Should I have a minor emergency, would I really want to go to the ER and sit for four hours until the real emergencies are dealt with? All the doctors partnered with Heal are trained at Universities such as Columbia, Stanford and UCLA . Currently available in LA and San Francisco, the app will be expanding to other major US cities. And yes, I have downloaded it (free download) .
Cover photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama by Nicholas Vreeland