I am religious about my Departures magazine.  It’s an American Express magazine that I’ve always admired on the coffee tables of friend’s parents.  I still don’t get one delivered in my name.  Ah, but The Suitor, he’s in good with Amex.  I covet that magazine, I tell you.  Today, by the pool, I ripped into the summer issue, hoping perhaps I’d be inspired and find a honeymoon destination.  I read an article about traveling to Italy with children.  "Don’t consider taking children unless they’re over five and won’t complain about too much walking," the article said.  Okay, I’m paraphrasing.  And I thought, who isn’t going to complain at some point?  I walk to the car and I bitch about the heat.  And then I vomit.  Certainly kids have it worse, being dragged about, steered by the bowls of their heads, then being forced to stand in lines, behind adults with body odor, to see… a painting in a museum.  This sounds way worse than the circus

Here’s what sounds better: "bites of quail dressed up with grapes, raisins, frizzled leeks, and micro shallots; a cream-of-cod soup with ham, poured table side; a Staub casserole of pork cheeks braised with lardon-spiked lentils." Also from Departures magazine.  Why does this absolutely excite me?  I’ll tell you. 

It’s not about the actual items.  It’s those hard to find ingredients and delicious descriptions.  Frizzled, micro, poured table side, lardon-spiked.  Crackling, rendered, mulled about.  I think I’m starting to feel better.  Extravagant magazines seem to help.


  1. You'd better take those babies to Italy. Smelling pitty grown ups and looking at old art are character-building.

  2. congratulations Stephanie and The Suitor! I haven't had the chance to write this before, but I couldn't be happier for you. And the way you describe food just kills me. I've got to get a bib I'm salivating so much!

  3. OOOOOOHHH! I loved the summer issue as well. I think Italy is a great destination with kids. Our son has been going to Austria (for family reasons) since he was 4 months old. Europe is great as long as you don't expect to do the grand tour.

    But leisurely outdoor lunches, exploring old gardens, hanging out by a lake…all that is great with kids.

    Go for it. But you'll probably have to wait until the twins are about a year.

  4. Anytime I pick up The Robb Report or Cigar Aficionado I feel the same way. Cigar Aficionado is far from being simply a "cigar" magazine; it's typically features mini-articles on everything from watches to cars to ultra-private resorts to new cellphones. And The Robb Report is essentially a paper-based Craigslist for anyone who has an extra $20 million lying around to spend on a car that goes over 200 mph (Porsche Carrera in custom colors, anyone?) to a vacation house overlooking Richard Branson's private island. Like someone who gains five pounds by simply looking at a decadent piece of cake, perusing these magazines feels like I just signed a check in the high-six-figure amount for a duplex on Park Avenue. I didn't — last time I checked, anyway — but until the magazine down and step back into my own life, it feels good ;)

  5. Don't believe that article. My kids travelled to France and Italy several times before they were even able to walk. Granted, Paris was hard with a stroller navigating the steps of the metro, but Italy was a blast. Don't plan to tour the city, take it one small neighborhood at a time, and plan lots of downtime. In most european countries (esp Italy) you are embraced as a parent, and find that congratulations and offers to hold the baby (ies) will abound.

  6. no to children on vacation unless its to visit family elsewhere. If you have family in italy to visit and you will be staying with an aunt in her villa or something then by all means, yes.
    I disagree with kids in church before they are old enough to receive communion (in a catholic church for example), etc. Sure you can say in theory they belong and blah blah blah, but it's intrusive to others there and no matter how good their manners, it's just awful. I believe it's in bad taste. And we have a right to believe what we want so I'm sure others will definitely disagree with me.
    NO NO NO!

  7. This has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to tell you that I just devoured your book! It took me 2 days but that was around my 2 kids, my job and my house. Honestly Steph, when I got your book in the mail I was so excited, it felt like a friend had sent me her journal to read. When my husband asked me what it was I told him and then said "it's weird but I feel like I already know her, like she is a part of my life". How does that feel for you , to know that there are strangers all over the globe ( I am Canada) that feel that way about you ? Anyway Steph, your book is absolutely amazing. You are an incredible writer, truthful,poetic. The only thing that is missing , which may be weird to you , is the sound of your voice. I have no idea what you sound like and it bugs the shit out of me. I have a thing with makes the visualisation thing easier. Maybe you could let me know if there are any sound bites out there. Sorry if that freaks you out. I hope that you have started writing the second installment!!
    love kat

  8. How is Linus? It has been awhile since we heard from (of) him, and I'm starting to worry about him, even though we've obviously never met. Is he doing okay in Texas?

  9. I really hate the way you use Britishisms such as "mulled about" or "dragged about." You are so trying to make up for being from L.I. Get over it.

  10. Oh Stephanie,
    I wrote many newsletter, departure magazine etc. for American Express (in Italy). And I was frustrated, because it isn't a creative subject to write. But now, I'm pleased to hear you are interested in this reading. Thank you.

  11. I really appreciate your blog. I just started reading a few days ago and decided I must have your book. I'm lovivng it! Anyway, so much of what you say I've thought or had similar experiences. I've heard that eating a green apple helps with morning sickness. By the way, welcome to Austin. I hope there will be an Austin book signing.

  12. Before my daughter was born, people would say to me, "Traveling with kids isn't vacation, it's a trip."

    That is so true. Now that she's in the world, we travel on a monthly basis for my work and vacation, and she's wonderful. But I'm saving Italy for when she's 16 and can really appreciate it. Start getting the brochures for Disneyland and Disneyworld now!

  13. Just wanted to stop by and say that I totally loved your book! It took me a few hours, but I spent the majority of the time nodding my head… you seem to convey exactly what every woman is thinking when it comes to dating! Golden!

  14. I've spent a lot of time with children in tow. The key to travelling with infants is to bring a sitter. My ex and I visited Bermuda with a 3 year old and a 6 month old. We also brought my sister. She entertained the kids, slipped out of restaurants with my crying infant, pushed the stroller when I wanted to shop, took them to the hotel cafe on a night when we wanted something a little more upscale, etc. You get the idea. She was thrilled because she got a free trip to Bermuda, albeit a working vacation.
    Two downsides: flying–there's just nowhere to go with a crying baby;
    Doctors–if a child gets sick, which he/she's bound to do, it can be difficult to navigate medical care in a foreign country.

  15. I've got a kidless weekend coming up – and a date with your book. I plan on starting that indulgence right after my early morning massage and iced chai Saturday. And I'm not doing anything else until I'm done. No matter what.

    I wonder if it's a bad sign that I start fantasizing about my weekend plans before 9:00 Monday morning?

    Hope you're feeling better.

  16. Have you had the experience yet where you order something at a restaurant that normally you would like, but when it arrives at your table it makes you nauseous to look at it? I don't know how many meals were boxed up or thrown out because of that pregnancy phenomenon.

  17. IMVHO, it might almost be time to forget about adult vacations. I could take the kids some place that I really want to go to, but since they won't enjoy, I won't enjoy it. I'm just going to dumb down my vacations until they either enjoy my activities, or until they are out on their own.

  18. I would take that honeymoon before the twins are born.

    Or wait until they are 18 and can stay home by themselves.

    When's the wedding date anyway?

  19. I love Departures!!!! Someone left one at work about four years ago and it was about Iceland. I have wanted to go ever since. I run across one evr so often and LOVE IT!

    Congrats on the TWINS!!!!

  20. Extravagant magazines ALWAYS help. I love (love) the European fashion magazines – buy them in droves – they're entirely too expensive – but the fashion is decadent – and the style – infinite. It sates my soul.

  21. "steered by the bowls of their heads" – So cute, a mental image that really makes me smile. I have never done steering quite like that, but I have "beat time" on my daughter's head while waltzing 'round our kitchen. Makes me smile, again, to think of your creative interpretation of the Roethke poem. You will soon see that parents and non-parents view the world in entirely different ways. Only successful steering and much happy waltzing with your little ones!

  22. Oh, how I love reading food magazines. Descriptions of food totally get to me, too. It actually makes me want to cook, and I don't even know how.

    Anyways, I agree with Buffy. If reading descriptions like that aren't making you run for the toilet, sounds like things are improving for you. Hooray!

  23. I used to work for AmEx Publishing. My boss totally abused me there and I hated that place. I did love my comp issues of Departures.

  24. i just wanted you to know, i spotted two people reading straight up and dirty this morning on the train on the way to work. :-)

  25. Like other comments this also has nothing to do with the post. Or maybe it does, sort of. I too, devoured your book this weekend. I tried to save it and read magazines instead, but I couldn't put it down. I love all the writing, it's so fresh and real, and of course your honest voice regarding all that you went through. Which brings me to something somewhat embarrassing . . . what I really love is your descriptions regarding, well, things. Stuff. I've loved this on your blog for a number of months too, but I've always had questions about your comments, but thought it was perhaps too shallow to ask. But screw it. (You were very kind writing back to me regarding your camera of choice). So here goes: you've mentioned rose oil in the winter — why winter? not summer? what do you do with rose oil exactly? just a perfume or an all over body thing? (I always wondered the purpose of lavender and rose oils and waters, really what are they for? This has eluded me even though I am a girl who seriously froufs). And what about unoaked white wine? What do you taste when you taste oak? Are all chardonnays oaked? And the lobster fra diavolo you make in the book …fresh lobster? or FRESH lobster? Seems hard to find FRESH in NYC. These are the important questions. Seriously, your next book needs to be a lifestyle book . . . but until then if you wanted to post answers to these questions on your blog, that would be great. In the meantime, speaking of indulgence, do have the suitor take you to the Gristmill in New Braunfels for chicken fried steak. Now is clearly the time.

  26. Speaking as an ex-restaurant owner, and I'm sure you'll agree, menuing is marketing/advertising. Dressing up the otherwise ordinary to make it fancy and appealing. Gotta be creative to sell food. And yet I fall for it everytime.

  27. Just an aside to Ingrid — it's not hard to find ANYTHING in NYC. It's just a matter of money and a phone call. Fresh lobster — google Lobster Place (I'd link them but that may or may not be a no-no).

    Point is, and some might disagree, but NYC is a city in which one can find anything (and pretty much at any time of day or night).

    One Taiwanese amputee dwarf hooker at 3AM? No problem. Visa, Mastercard or Amex?


  28. Stephanie- take notes on what Bobette wrote. HINT. HINT.

    Ingrid- (if you read this) Lavender, rose and other essential oils are therapeutic; both their smells and the properties of the oils (going into your blood stream). In the winter, it's nice to use an oil because most people get dry skin. And the essential oils are concentrated (in and of themselves), hence the reason they are usually added to a water or oil base (like Jojoba oil) when used on the skin. Most oils in full concentration can irritate the skin, and most stores like Bath and Body Works and The Body Shop usually sell them water/oiled down. I dabble a bit into aromatherapy, so I buy the full on strong stuff and mix my own oils.

    Stephanie probably likes the rose because of her fondness for the Creed Vintage Roses (of the Bulgarie)…that and she just has "old lady tendancies". It's also kinda heavy and rich smelling. Some rose scents are just horrible.

    I prefer lavender. I add it to my bath and I wear it as a perfume…mixed with Patchouli. Yes, I DO wear Patchouli. I love it. Mmmm. I smell GOOOOOOD.

    Hope I could answer that bit for you.

    She probably doesn't even know or care about all of that crap though; she just likes to smell like our cousin Beverley's bathroom.

  29. OH! Oaked whites are bitter, and un-oaked whites are sweet and fruity.

  30. Of course take your children to Italy! It's absurd that people think you shouldn't. My son was 3 the first time we took him, and then 6 the second time. He was a fabulous traveler. When he was 3, we were at the Vatican and some crotchety American scolded us for having our child with us. Mind you, our son was perfectly content, not making a peep or causing any disturbance. Frankly, some people just have their heads up their asses!

  31. there is nothing like traveling with children–not a relaxing vacation, that is for sure, but it is wonderful. my husband and i took our daughter to venice and verona at 10 months and just returned from a trip to rome and umbria with our 3 1/2 year old and 1/12 year old. we ate a lot, drank a lot and saw some "Really old stuff"–says our daughter. it's just a state of mind. also, always rent apartments/villas as opposed to staying in hotels. good luck!

  32. Just wanted to drop a note to say I received the book via amazon on Friday, cracked the cover Saturday morning, and wrapped up Sunday night. Excellent. Cheers to you, can't wait to read the next one.

  33. I'm not sure that they allow smelly people into the Uffizi, actually. I certainly hope not. :)

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