Fingers crossed

I had a shockingly short and easy phone conversation with a United representative this morning (seriously, under 5 minutes from start to finish, including a teensy bit of hold time), and I'm rebooked onto a flight to Newark tomorrow instead of my original La Guardia flight (have you seen those pictures?!). It looks like about half of the Houston-Newark flights today were cancelled, but the others have left mostly on schedule, so I'm hoping the travel gods will smile down on me. I've booked a car service to get me to Manhattan from Newark since trains and subways will probably not be up and running yet when I arrive. I'm wishing that I was staying within walking distance of Lincoln Center, but I'm very happy and relieved that I'm subletting uptown where there's no flooding or power outages.

All in all, I'm feeling that my timing has been extremely lucky. I'm sad to leave home, but excited (AND scared) for my next adventure—I'm making my Met directing debut in November!

My thoughts are with everyone affected by the storm. How are y'all doing???

Batten down the hatches


I'm tempted to take a Hurricane Day today. You know, in solidarity. We'd pretend the internet was out and keep our computers closed all day. We'd light a fire in the fireplace (or, in our case, turn the fire on) and snuggle up under blankets on the couch reading real books. As it got darker outside we'd light candles and talk about things we haven't thought of. We'd slow down, even though we wouldn't be in any danger here.

Instead, we're heading to work and obsessively checking Sandy status reports today (it's a little shocking to see my little hometown of Westerly, RI on so many weather maps!). We're sending safe, warm thoughts to all our loved ones east of us, and crossing our fingers that it won't be as bad as predicted.

Hunker down, folks.

Happy weekend!

We're a bit bleary-eyed this morning, having been woken up in the middle of the night by a kitten attacking us for sport. Blergh. She is cuter when she sleeps through the night. However… it's Friday! What are you up to this weekend? Today the Houston weather has magically turned colder, so I'm hoping for some nice long walks. Plus, tonight is opening night of L'Italiana in Algieri.

While I'm busy sleep-training my kitten (kidding…sort of), some links:

Have you registered for Go Mighty yet?

We rented Moonrise Kingdom last night and I loved it in all its Wes Anderson weirdness.

Just bought this cutie for fall.

In lieu of a Vespa, I think I need this.

Rabbithole of the week. Gorgeous.

And here's Lola falling asleep in a fruit basket.

Hope your weekend is full of cooler weather, changing leaves, and hot cider! xoxo LMB

Lazy day

Today's our free day (last one before I leave in a week!!), so of course we've spent the whole day in workout clothes. A trip to the recycling center (yes, we're very exciting), then IKEA, then Argo (so great!), then the first step for the barrel-aged negronis (approximately 4 weeks until they're ready), then the end of Homeland Season 1 (holy stressful amazingness). CM's grilling us a gorgeous steak and we're whiling away the evening.

Oh, and then there are the cats.

Sigh. I'm wishing I never had to leave.

LMB eats/Europe

You may remember that when we moved to Vienna I set the ambitious goal of eating a meal in every country in Europe (there are 45 of those, by the way). It was originally on the Bossy List, but when we came back to the States I moved it to my Life List instead, because I knew for certain that I wouldn't be getting it all done by 2018.

Since I started the project, I've eaten meals in France, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. This summer, I made some more headway.

United Kingdom

We ate many a meal in the UK this summer, including countless Glyndebourne canteen breakfasts, the best Indian food I've ever had, and one sneaky trip to Vapiano. And every Friday (just about), we ate fish and chips. I recommend it with mushy peas, which are exactly what they sound like.


During our week in Munich, we made sure to have one traditional Bavarian brunch, consisting of Weisswurst, pretzels, mustard, and (obvs) beer. In my experience, best eaten in a courtyard tucked away off the street, preferably under a sturdy umbrella to protect you when the summer rain starts falling.


I was too embarrassed to photograph the waffles I ate EVERY DAY for breakfast at our hotel, so you will have to settle for moules frites instead. Also served with beer (sensing a summer theme here?). Note the ketchup and mayonnaise in the corner—we're basically locals.

All photos by CameraMan

Solo photo excursions

CM and I both love taking photos, particularly while traveling, so you'd think it would be a great activity for us to do together. In reality, however, it's not my favorite. Chalk it up to my own insecurities, but I get frustrated when we both photograph the same thing and his photos turn out SO MUCH BETTER. And with his amazing eye for composition, he spots photo opportunities that I would pass right by. For whatever reason, when we're together, I tend to leave my camera in its bag.

Which is why we I'm so happy we discovered a new travel activity: solo photo excursions. Some of my favorite pictures of the summer were taken during a timed 30-minute stroll in Montalcino at sunset, when we headed off with our cameras in opposite directions and met up afterwards for Negronis and shared what we'd each seen. It's a tradition I hope we'll keep on subsequent trips—I actually felt closer to CM after spending a (teeny tiny) bit of time apart.

I had plenty of time to wander alone with my camera during our 3 days in Aix-en-Provence. Poor CM was holed up in our (admittedly gorgeous) hotel room working for most of our time (despite the vacation beard, he wasn't truly on vacation). I was going stir-crazy, so I headed out to take pictures of this gorgeous city, all winding streets and outdoor cafés and rosé…so, so much rosé. I've been told that Aix is not even close to being the most scenic spot in Provence, but we sure liked it.

As ever, click on any photo to be taken into a slideshow.

All photos by LMB

Vacation beard

I'm suffering from a serious case of Europe Withdrawal this week. The only thing for it is to relive our fabulous summer and plan our next trip (tentatively the month of June in Berlin, but that might change). Shall we devote this week on the blog to all things Europe? Yes, let's.

Starting with my husband's facial hair, of course. Whenever we're on vacation, CM stops shaving, except for the occasional trim to keep things neat. We call it "vacation beard," and I love love love it.

Exhibit A: First day of vacation last summer (at Sekt Comptoir in Vienna)

This is CM's usual look (plus lovey eyes).
Exhibit B: Last day of vacation (on the London Eye)

Isn't he handsome? It's always a sad day when the vacation beard comes off—back to reality.

Do you have any vacation rituals that help you relax? I try never to blow dry my hair on vacation (usually it's like this or like this). Also, wine with lunch never hurts.

Happy weekend!

What do y'all have planned for the weekend, friends? Something fun? And is it just me, or has this week just flown by? Tonight is the opening of the HGO season, so we're getting dressed up in our black tie finest and seeing opening night of Bohème.

While I'm admiring how handsome my husband looks in a tux, some links:

This is the map I need to navigate NYC.

Loved this article about a man, a Fitbit, and Paris.

Cool street art.

Our go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. #paleoschmaleo

Fascinating post.

This is what it looks like around our house much of the time.

Hope your weekend is full of champagne toasts, cookies warm from the oven, and cat safari! xoxo LMB

On my mind

I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea of “playing to your strengths.” It started with vanity. Last month I made an impulse purchase in the Sephora check-out line: this peel (stay with me), and when I used it I was bowled over by what an immediate difference it made to my skin. Because I'm lucky enough to have naturally good skin, I never spend much time or energy making it better. That got me thinking. I know from experience that, despite many hours attempting to make my thighs leaner, it's far more rewarding to focus on whittling my naturally small waist because the results come so much faster.

I was still mulling that over when I spent an afternoon with a lovely singer friend. She's had quite a bit of success, but she confessed to me that because singing and performing have always come easy to her, she's never worked all that hard at it. She had a recent epiphany: if she could do this well without putting in a ton of effort, imagine where she might be if she really worked at it.

This resonated deeply with me. I have a strong and constant urge toward self-improvement, as I think many of us do, which means that my focus goes most often to correcting my deficiencies and developing new skills I lack. That can be incredibly satisfying; for example, after forcing myself to cook more I'm now relatively good at it and I love it. Often, though, it can feel like a never-ending struggle to be better at everything. I remember back when I was in high school and starting the college application process, some wise person (probably Mama Bossy) told me that it isn't true that colleges are looking for well-rounded students. No, they're looking for a well-rounded student body. Each applicant doesn't have to be good at everything—in fact, colleges want each student to have true depth of talent and passion, even if it's only in one specific area.

What if we're trying so hard to be well-rounded that we're missing out on that depth? What if, instead of relying on the things that come naturally to us to…come naturally, we focused our efforts toward those things and made them really great? What if we allowed ourselves to be bad at some things, and just go of them?

I don't know yet exactly how I want to apply this to my life (identifying exactly what your strengths are seems to be key in this equation), but it's giving me food for thought. You?

Birthday gift tip

Suppose you are shopping for your husband's birthday. And suppose that he is a well-employed adult, prone to buying the things he has his heart set on all by himself without waiting for a special occasion. This would make it awfully difficult to get him something he's dying for as a birthday present, wouldn't it?

Here's what I recommend. In the weeks and months leading up to his birthday, whenever he mentions that thing he has his eye on, that hobby he's wanting to try, you should act like it's the stupidest thing you've ever heard. Roll your eyes, forbid him from buying it, do whatever you need to do.

That way, on his birthday he'll be well and truly surprised when you buy him a whiskey barrel for making his own barrel-aged negronis. For example.

Happy birthday, CM.

Bossy kitten update—2 weeks!

I took Lola to the vet yesterday for her first shot, and the vet pronounced her in perfect health and told me we were doing a great job (cat mommy gold star!). Also, she weighs 1 pound, 5 ounces, which is more than TWICE what she weighed at her first visit 2 weeks ago. She's a big girl.

She loves all cat toys, and also she thinks everything is a cat toy. Particularly cables, nice shoes, and other things we don't want her to touch.

She goes up and down the stairs now like it's no big deal. She's also figured out that she can climb anything made of fabric (beds, couch, chairs, pants) by clawing her way up.

This is why we can't have nice things.

The Bossy Cat is getting used to her. There's still a bit of hissing going on, but not nearly so much. She's very interested in the idea of playing with the kitten, but she isn't quite sure how to do that yet.

I think we'll keep them.

All photos by LMB or CM

Faking fall

In other parts of the world I hear it's autumn. Here in Houston we're having highs in the 80s with humidity to match. And the fall foliage? Non-existent for the moment—we usually catch a few leaves mid-December for about a week.

But I adore fall; it's my favorite season. So we're faking it around here. Here's how.

I'm lighting fires in the fireplace in the morning. Completely worth the higher electricity bills (from cranking the A/C up).

I'm eating seasonally (ish). Make this immediately. Throw some brussels sprouts on the side if you're feeling healthy.

I'm wearing fall clothes. I just bought this skirt and wore it today. With bare legs and pink flats, true, but still, it's flannel and autumnal!

I'm drinking hot drinks. And I'm grinding this on top. Perfection.

I'm slowing down. I'm giving into my cravings for quiet time with books and movies and snuggly kitties.

I'm making plans. And to-do lists. And resolutions. Fall seems like the right time for big ideas.

Is it truly autumnal where you are? What are you doing to celebrate?

Happy birthday weekend!

And how will YOU be celebrating my birthday this weekend? I am taking the whole weekend off from work, and on Sunday morning CM is taking me on an adventure to cross off a list item! It was actually my birthday present from LAST year, and this is the first time we've been able to fit it into our crazy schedules. Go figure.

While I'm birthdaying it up, a few links for you.

As an experiment, I've been letting my naturally wavy hair air dry. The only thing keeping it from becoming a frizzy bird's nest mess is this fantastic product.

Just what the doctor ordered.

My parents got me this book for my birthday. Looking forward to sinking my teeth into this one.

I'm in!

CB2 has some gorgeous art prints right now. I can't decide whether this one or this one is my favorite.

This is Lola asleep on my stomach. She is being THIS CUTE every day around here.

Hope your weekend is full of celebration, champagne cocktails, and cake! xoxo LMB


I turn 31 today, and I'm spending the day just exactly how I want to, roughly equal parts husband/kitten snuggling and work. Last year's birthday was hard, coming right on the heels of the Giovanni final dress rehearsal, and the day was filled with rehearsing our new leading man, nary a husband nor a kitten in sight.

The year of 31 promises to be an exciting and full one. Directing debuts and lots of travel and no doubt other adventures I haven't even envisioned yet. I'm feeling lucky today. Lucky and happy.

Happy birthday to me.

Craving carbonara

I'm craving Italian food today for no particular reason, and not just any Italian food. I'm craving Vapiano. Have you ever been to one? It's a chain of casual Italian restaurants where you choose your pasta and your sauce and watch it being made in front of you. That sounds lame - I obviously haven't done it justice.

In Vienna, there was a Vapiano right around the corner from our apartment, and it became a weekly staple dinner for us. Now, sometimes we're hit by cravings, and TWICE this summer we tracked one down when a craving struck, once in Munich and once in London. It's our comfort food. I like campanelle carbonara with lots of garlic (Knoblauch auf Deutsch). CM likes campanelle tacchino piccante (that's spicy turkey).

There are now a number of US locations, but sadly none of them are withing striking distance of Houston, so I will table the craving for now (and perhaps revisit it when I'm back in NYC next month!).

What are you craving these days?

Free days in Houston

I don't think I can overstate the effect that the Sundays in New York project had on my attitude and overall happiness this fall. It forced me out of the apartment on my free days, helped me to explore new neighborhoods in the city, gave me built-in activities for social time with adventurous friends, and generally made me realize how fantastic NYC can be.

So I was jazzed about trying something similar in Houston this month—exploring the city, trying new restaurants, visiting museums and parks, seeing the Symphony and the Ballet, maybe taking a day trip or two.

I don't think it's going to happen. It is almost impossible to entice us to leave the house on a free day. Here's what Saturday looked like for us. We were going to take a long bike ride, but instead we took a very short ride to Revival Market for Bacon Saturday (need I say more?) and then biked home. We looked up movie times but didn't go. We made and then canceled a dinner reservation. We DID manage to get to Trader Joe's, but our resulting full fridge made us even less likely to leave again. We did some work. We drank coffee. We lazed around the house. The end.

This is not a bad way to spend a free day, let me tell you, and whatever it lacks in culture it certainly makes up for in pure relaxation. And I've decided to embrace Free Day Laziness, at least for the month. The key, it seems, is to make sure the house is the most comfortable, relaxing place it can be. Get organized. Run your errands on other days so you don't have to think about them on the free day. Keep the place relatively clean. Get a cuddly kitten (check). Make sure the fridge and pantry are fully stocked and the Hulu and Netflix queues are fully loaded. Keep the to-do list short. Create a truly free day.

How are you spending your free days, wherever you are?

Bossy Kitten update

Lola has been living with us for a week, and it's hard to imagine life without her now. She is the cutest, and sometimes when she's doing something amazing and adorable our hearts get full and we look at each other and say, “What's it going to be like if we have a baby?” Surely a million times worse (better).

She's getting stronger and smarter every day, and she's a curious little monkey. She knows how to jump off the bed to get to her food, and when she's in the right mood she can go down the stairs with a lot of coaching and encouragement. She's too little to go up.

Because she's so young, and really too little to be away from her mama, she can't eat regular kitten food yet. So we warm up cat milk replacer (basically baby formula for kittens) and mix it with baby cat food. For the first few days she was putting her front paws in the dish every time she ate and then tracking milky footprints all over, but she seems to have learned not to do that. She's very good about using her litter box.

She spends a large portion of the day sleeping, and when she gets sleepy she will happily fall asleep in any position, particularly next to or on top of a warm body. She loves getting under the covers in bed. For the first few nights we kept her in the guest room and switched off sleeping with her there. Then we left her in there alone for a couple nights (we missed our bed), and she slept through the night tucked into a blanket without making a squeak. On Saturday she was hanging out in our room around bedtime, so we decided to try having her in there, and she slept on the rug next to our bed without waking up until morning. (The Bossy Cat sleeps on that rug as well, but as far away as possible from Lola). We'll keep her with us at night for the foreseeable future.

As for the Bossy Cat, she's starting to relax, but she decidedly does not like the kitten. She can tolerate Lola being in the same room, as long as she doesn't get too close. When the kitten gets too curious, she gets hissed at (and once, swiped at). The Bossy Cat is a bit of a bully. It's getting better, though, and we're holding out hope that eventually they'll be friends. In the meantime, we're mostly keeping them apart, and marveling at how enormous Lucy seems compared to Lola.

It's going to be hard to say goodbye to my sweet little family in a few weeks, so I'm trying to enjoy every moment of being home.

All photos by CameraMan

Happy weekend!

My dears, what's on tap for you this weekend? Any big plans? We're planning a long bike ride, a trip to the new Houston Trader Joe's, and maybe a movie night (we want to see this). It's lovely to be home.

Some linky goodness for you:

We made these for cocktail hour at our dinner party last weekend. Delicious.

I had new headshots taken this week, and I realized the night before that I had nothing to wear. One quick sweep through Anthropologie and I walked out with this in blue, which turned out to be the perfect thing for the photos. I also couldn't resist taking this beauty home with me. I'm craving new fall clothes with a vengeance!

LOVED this book. Somehow managed to read it in a day. Cried at some point in every chapter. Don't judge.

My life is full.

This is on my to-make list.

Here's Lola being cute, which is apparently her full-time job. My hand is there for scale, obvs.

Hope your weekend is full of date nights, fall foliage, and purry kittens! xoxo LMB

Bossy List remix

My birthday is coming up next week, and as ever I'm taking stock and making plans for the year ahead. I took this opportunity to revisit my somewhat neglected Bossy List, and I'm making a few changes.

Coming off the list:

4. Own a Vespa. Start a scooter gang.
It's not that I don't want to do this. I REALLY do. We know 2 people who were in recent scooter accidents in Houston, though, and general consensus in the Bossy-Melear household seems to be that scooting in this city is just too dangerous. So I'm taking it off the list (and tabling it for when we retire to Italy a few decades from now.)

65. Walk a red carpet.
In April we flew up to New York for one night to see opening night of Evita on Broadway. We were guests of the director, which sounds impossibly glamorous, and honestly, it pretty much was (not least because we randomly got upgraded to the penthouse suite at the Royalton, but I digress). There was a red carpet, and we got to flash our tickets and breeze past the dozens of fans lined up behind a barrier. We didn't walk the red carpet ourselves (because we're not celebrities), but we were red carpet adjacent, standing right next to the photographers and watching honest-to-goodness famous people arriving and posing. And you know what? That's as close as I ever need to get to walking a red carpet. Off the list!

81. Learn to schmooze for real.
While this remains a goal of course, it's one of those hard to quantify items I'll probably never be able to cross off with confidence. Tangible list items only, I think.

85. Ride a mechanical bull.
Off the list. Why? Because I'm over 30, that's why.

97. Eat a meal at the French Laundry.
So many great restaurants in the world, some of them actually in cities where I spend time. I'm making this goal more achievable.

Replaced by:

4. Complete a year-long Happiness Project.
I'm contemplating starting it on my birthday. We shall see....

65. Fly International Business Class. Preferably on an airline with flatbed seats.
That's the dream.

81. Christmas in Vienna

I missed the Christmas markets entirely the year we lived there. No one does Christmas better than Vienna. Let's go back and do it properly!

85. Spend at least 250 days with CM in a calendar year.

97. Tasting menu with wine pairings somewhere schmancy.
Per Se, perhaps?

How's your list?


We threw a little dinner party on Sunday night, and I tried out the toasting tradition I stole from my friend. Before dessert we poured prosecco and everyone made a toast. After the first couple toasts, we were getting tired of clinking everyone's glass each time (8 people x 8 toasts = too many glass clinks).

Our German friend Simon told us that where he's from, there's a toasting shortcut! Here's how it works. Instead of touching every other glass with yours, everybody touches their glass to the table edge. We quickly switched to that method. Simon says that in Germany if you forget to touch your glass to the table, someone will invariably yell "KONTAKT!" to remind you.

On Sunday we toasted to friendships new and old, and to second chances, and to the luxury of all being in the same place, if only for the briefest of moments.

What are you toasting to these days?


Finding my balance

I can already tell this month at home is going to go by in a flash. I'm keeping very busy. No magazine reading, yoga class attending housewife I, no sir, not this time. I have an honest-to-goodness JOB, as drama coach to the young artists in the HGO Studio. I realized today that I haven't had a job in the city I live in since Tosca at Miller. That was in May 2010!! Crazy.

Being home is great (obvs), and I can already tell the job is going to be satisfying and varied and fun. I can also tell, however, that I'll be forced to confront issues of the elusive “work-life balance” in ways I haven't had to in a long time (and not only because we're now parents of a newborn). Generally the main question of balance I deal with is how to get the right ratio of time spent at home to time spent elsewhere. It's far from simple, but I'm mostly used to it.

This month I have the happy task of figuring out how to get all the restorative nourishment I need from being in my home with my husband, going to work every day, studying for upcoming projects, and still fitting in all that other stuff that keeps me sane: blogging, running, cooking, reading, seeing friends, kitten-nuzzling, etc. There are a finite number of hours in the day.

This is not a revelation for anyone but me, of course. This is how people live. And I am dying (DYING) to live this way myself. I dream and scheme constantly how to live and work in the same place. Now is the time to figure out the day-to-day of how it's done.

So I'm signing off now to go do some more kitten-nuzzling (and husband-cuddling—also very important).

Introducing... the Bossy Kitten!

Yesterday morning we were lazing around in bed chatting and checking our phones when CM said, “You do not want to know what I’m looking at right now.” Obviously I knew it was kittens. I've been campaigning for a kitten for the better part of, oh I don't know, our ENTIRE relationship, and he always has a lot of very practical reasons why it's not a great idea.

I guess he changed his mind.

Friends, I’d like to introduce you to Lola. By the vet’s estimate she’s about 3 or 4 weeks old, and as the runt of her litter she weighs a whopping 10 ounces. A friend of a friend of ours found her and her 5 brothers and sisters under a bush in his backyard Sunday morning. She’s quick to purr and quick to squeak, and she's already figured out how to lap up formula from a dish, though that doesn’t stop her from rooting around trying to find a drink when she’s sleepy. She has already charmed us and everyone who has met her, including our dinner party guests last night (the key to a successful dinner party is obviously a tiny kitten navigating the obstacle course of glasses and dishes on the table at the end of the meal—so entertaining) and every single person we encountered at the vet’s office today.

The Bossy Cat doesn’t know quite what’s happening yet, and we’d like to keep it that way for a while, as she gets used to the smells and sounds of a kitten in the house. We’re trying to pay her lots of attention and give her treats whenever she asks for them, lest there be any doubt that we still love her.

It’s crazy that when we woke up yesterday we didn’t know we were getting a kitten, and now I can’t imagine not having her here. Did you do anything unexpected this weekend?

Photos by CameraMan


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