Winter Mornings

It’s Hibernating season. Though I do love to get out and play in the snow from time to time or take a dreamy winter vacation, most of the hours are spent indoors with a good book, magazine (currently obsessed with this for food | this for travel | this for interest), or watching documentaries.

Recently I watched Regarding Susan Sontag and I love her thoughtfulness on photography: “We have a notion about a photograph. You see, we want photographs to tell us the truth, and we value them because they really are records in a sense, let’s say, that a painting isn’t. At the same time we want photographs to lie. We want them to make us look good, that is to say, better than we normally look. Our sense of the world is now ruled and shaped by photographed images.” She goes on to state, “The problem is not that people remember through photographs, but that they remember only the photographs.”

I’ve sense started reading her book On Photography which starts with something I fully believe in, “To collect photographs is to collect the world.”

So this past weekend upstate, I spent every morning in a long hot bath, listening to soft old jazz and reading about that thing I love most of all- photography.

Here is a winter playlist for your own snowy mornings until that spring day comes and we emerge again….

More playlists!

Rainy Days | Summer & Wine | Autumn Days

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Scotch in the Snow

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Valentine’s Day always falls in the middle of New York Fashion Week which means for the past 4 years we have been working non-stop and unable to have a proper romantic date.. that is until this year. Kevin surprised me last weekend by clearing my work schedule and whisking me away to Glenmere Mansion, originally built in 1911 as a home for Robert Goelet, for an “early” Valentine’s Day celebration.

We have recently been learning about the world of Scotch. I love the simplicity of a single pour drink if it’s at our studio in New York, or on a weekend getaway, so I don’t have to think about mixers and recipes. I’ll never forget the first time I tried Scotch- it was on our honeymoon on Safari in South Africa. We arose before the sun and had a quick breakfast before hoping in the jeeps- on the breakfast bar, oatmeal with a topping of scotch. What?! I mean.. this blows the “before noon” rule right out of the water. Come to find out, it was a delicious tradition and on those very cold sleepy mornings, just the right thing to warm you up ever so.

Fast forward a few years and we have been slowly learning and enjoying the lessons in scotch. We recently did an amazing flight taste tasting with our friends from The Glenlivet at Highlands, a Scottish experience gastro pub in the West Village. When Kevin was planning this romantic getaway he took inspiration from that evening and bought us a bottle of  The Glenlivet 15 which he knows I’d like because of its sweeter notes of almonds and spice. I love it’s distilled in French oak which makes it creamy and rich which I prefer, as a woman, to the other smokier varieties. The best part about gifting and receiving a beautiful scotch if you’re a man or woman is that you get to share it together, what each person individually smells and tastes and untimely make memories wrapped in the beautiful glow of golden honey.

So here we are, at the historic Glenmere Mansion, a place to cradle us away from the noise of the city and to spend the hours snuggled by the fire with the winter air breaking outside as we sip on scotch to keep us warm.

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“Last year I decided to educate myself about Scotch, something I knew very little about. When I went to the wine shop on our street I asked for some recommendations for where to start, and they suggested The Glenlivet 12 as a starter. Jamie and I both really enjoyed it, and knowing her palate I knew the 15 year would be a great next move.”

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Things I’ve learned about The Glenlivet:

The Glenlivet was the original Scotch, supporting an idea we believe in strongly, to be an original.

Why “The” Glenlivet?: The Glenlivet is known for its smooth and elegant whiskies. It was renowned and other distillers copied and took advantage of this fact including copying their name! George Smith’s (the founder) sons and heir went into a lengthy battle to secure the rights to be known as THE GLENLIVET to differentiate it from the copy cats.

All their spirits are created using a natural spring water from the same spring they founded the company with in 1824

This region of Scotch making is known for producing very smooth, easy and soft spirits.

On the rocks or straight up? It’s a personal preference but how they described it to me was that by drinking it room temperature you have a fuller, robust flavor. They likened it to a walk in the forest- the smell of the forest after a freshly fallen snow is more muted as opposed to its natural state, or after a warm rain (adding water).

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Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

It’s hard to follow up the historic fantasy of La Casona or the romance of the Hiram Bingham train with anything other than the citadel itself, but between here and there we found one such place.

Tucked away in a a jungle of amazing flora and fauna in the heart of the Andean cloud forest was the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a mountainside refuge for the body and soul. It’s exactly how you want to stay in a forest: with hummingbirds outside your door, orchids in bloom everywhere, fireplaces always aglow, and the view of a roaring river below captivating you. Trains arriving in and around the mountain through the Vilcanota Valley take you back to a time when travel was truly an adventure. The afternoon rain showers make relaxing in the tub or having a pisco sour on the porch seem like the perfect thing to do.

First built in the 1970s for backpackers, the owner had a vision for an ecological boutique luxury resort complete its own gardens, a tea farm where all production is made by hand, bear rehabilitation center and an impressive orchid garden. Our suite was built from local stone, adobe, stucco and eucalyptus beams and had not one but three showers, two located outside. A deep soaking tub (OBSESSED) and an outdoor private hot tub.

I loved the attention to detail and exclusivity felt here, so much so that when it was time to check out I totally forgot I had to do that, I was just right at home.

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Machu Picchu

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I always say, the best places in the world are the hardest to get to. An eight hour flight to a one hour flight to a thirty minute bus to a three hour train to a 4am alarm clock to a thirty minute bus to here. Totally worth the journey when “here” is the amazing Machu Picchu. Being there, when the doors opened (and relieved we didn’t fall off the mountain on the bus ride up!) in the quite morning air, soft diffused light, and sounds of nature alone was more of a spiritual feeling of being one with the history of humanity, earth, and astronomy. A connectedness that is so easy to forget or not feel in our real lives at work in New York City.

We spent the first part of the morning hiking up paths to vista points, turning back to take it all in, photograph the majesty then continue on until we reached the farthest perch. We sat for a very long time, made some time lapses, watched birds soar through the valley, inhaled the smell of incense from people who came to meditate and feel the energy of this astonishing place and just be. Be in the moment. I was there, one of my dream places, and this moment meant so much to me.

Our entire journey to Machu Picchu was arranged by Grey Line tours which I can now highly recommend. Our private guide who took us to the citadel, Hector, was incredible and patient with us. He let us do our thing, took us to the best photographic spots and peaceful places and waited until we were ready for all the information… and boy did I have A LOT of questions. I won’t fill you in on the history of Machu Picchu, hello wikipedia, or even share too many photographs. I think, for this moment, it is best lived and I hope everyone has the chance to experience this place as I have and feel that thing which can not be expressed in pixels but in LIFE.

Machu Picchu. Did it. As my Dad and I like to say “Check.”

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