THE M LIST: HOLIDAY EDITION



It's the most wonderful time ... of the year! This month's M List is dedicated to the many fun things I am excited to do this winter. Los Angeles might not seem like the most Christmas-like city but people do in fact get excited for the holiday season and the good weather tends to help us celebrate just a little more outside. So aside the many holiday parties and actual celebrations are the more exciting days leading up, when we are perhaps the most hopeful and excited, the things that make the month of December so fun for me, are all here in this list. Enjoy!


The Montana Ave Holiday Walk, Montana Avenue is a very cute little street in Santa Monica with a bunch of small shops, restaurants and specialty services and every year they light up the sidewalks for a night of holiday celebration. There are carolers, tons of cookies and sips of free wine as each shop has special discounts for holiday shopping. I love to go with a group of girlfriends and visit some of my favorite Montana Ave spots like Sweet Lady Jane, the Brentwood General Store, Frilly Lilly and end with a cheesy pasta dinner at Forma, one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles and conveniently located right at the end of Montana. It’s happening this year on Friday, December 1st 5pm-9pm, so check it out if you're around.


Ice Skating, a tradition that seems to feel like a relic of the past, ice skating is such a wonderful winter activity. Santa Monica and Chicago both offer seasonal outdoor skating rinks to venture to between the months of November and January. This is definitely a great activity to do with friends, family or a date and I am planning to go this year after missing it the last three! More info here and here





Rodeo Drive has perhaps the best holiday decorations of all which I suppose isn’t that shocking as the motto in Beverly Hills seems to be more, more, and more. I love all the lit up palm trees that line the streets, the big bow on Cartier, the holiday windows at every store, the santa sleigh perfectly draped over Wilshire Blvd and the beautiful Christmas tree and menorah at Two Rodeo Drive. They also tend to have lots of very instagramable installations each year, so it’s a great spot to tag yourself. I intend to check out all the pretty decorations with a hot coffee or maybe some cider and then head to the Nosh of Beverly Hills for some comfort deli snacks after. They have such good chicken matzo ball soup and I have become newly obsessed with their cheese bagel, sadly I can’t walk there on Sundays like my New York Bagel spot but maybe it’s for the best. Anyway Rodeo Drive has tons of holiday fun lined up each season, including a menorah lighting I try to attend every year for Hanukkah. 


Candy Cane Lane, is exactly what it sounds like, a bunch of residential streets all themed perfectly in the spirit of Christmas. There are tons of lights and beautiful decorations at every house and it’s an adorable street to drive or walk around and see all the pretty lights. Last year I drove around the area with my mom and bought some delicious homemade cookies from some women selling them in support of a veteran's charity. Definitely a fun activity for a free night if you are anywhere near Woodland Hills.  


White Elephant Gift Exchange, an easy and fun way to give gifts to friends, something to do at work or in my case book club. One year I did it with about 40 other women and it was quite entertaining to see them all fight over a Veuve candle. Some other good White Elephant gifts I’d recommend are books, target gift cards, candles, bottles of champagne, coasters, a gingerbread house kit, stationery or anything from my 2017 Gift Guide

Watching The Holiday for the 100,000th time, I don’t know what it is about this movie, but it’s just so good. It’s honestly my favorite holiday film and probably has the least references to any winter holiday then the majority of “holiday” movies out there. I just love the coziness of that English cottage, the charm of the old Hollywood producer, and I suppose the ideal version of Jude Law; I’m assuming the real one is not quite as romantic. The way the film was made just gives so much perfect attention to detail and great casting, however, I think they could have done a way better job with Jack Black’s character- no offense but Kate Winslet deserves better. The movie always leaves me with warm and cozy feelings despite that half of it takes place in Los Angeles. I am still putting a December month holiday to London way high on my life to do list!! 


Cozy Meal at the Fountain Room, the basement 50’s diner at the Beverly Hills Hotel. They serve breakfast food all day, make a mean grilled cheese and have delicious milkshakes for anyone who consumes dairy. If you haven’t been the fountain room I highly recommend it as it’s one of my favorite spots in LA! I also love seeing the little nutcrackers with their pink jackets right at the entrance of the hotel around Christmastime and they have some other really cute decorations throughout. Such a pretty time to go! 

Hanukkah, as you may know I celebrate Chrismakuh, meaning I celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah each year. For Hanukkah I love to make latkes,  play dreidel and light candles on the menorah. The whole point of Hanukkah for me is to celebrate the Jews religious freedom and remember that small miracles do happen. It’s also a nice time to reflect on the ways we can give to others in need of a small miracle, something that people tend to forget about since the commercialization of the winter holidays but also a common theme within most religious communities. It’s fun to share this holiday with other Jews or anyone really, as it’s a beautiful tradition I believe all people can participate in. 


Find a decadent hot chocolate, to indulge in and let’s be real, to Instagram too. I’m not quite sure yet where I will find this and I may even have to try a few out before finding the best one but I’m hopeful! I tend to stay away from any milk based drinks but with almond milk and coconut milk appearing at almost every coffee shop here in LA, I am certain I will find something substantial! Let me know if you have any recommendations, I’ve heard good things about the hot chocolate at the St. Regis in New York but unfortunately we don’t have one in Los Angeles, so I’m going to do some research because this is what makes me happy! 

More LA Holiday Events: 

What's on your holiday to-do list?

-MGN

THE 2017 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

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A great gift... for me is anything I really love but most likely wouldn't get for myself. There are so many things we need on a daily basis or will get more use out of. But I really like the gifts that aren't so practical, but rather thoughtful or fun, frivolous and of course personalized. So from truffle cream brie to monogrammed dog beds, Fortnum and Mason hampers to silky pajama sets, pink gin bottles and cocktail napkins with Coco Chanel's illustration - I think I've got you covered. My biggest gift guide yet, one for the hostess, the bar cart, the cozy camper, the gentlemen, the athlete, the lady, the monogram maven, the Beverly Hills Hotel obsessed, the jet-setter, the happy baby, the luxury lover, the beauty junkie, the jammie queen and of course, our little furry best friends - Enjoy! 


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Happy Holiday Shopping!

-MGN

HOLIDAZED: SOME THOUGHTS ON HOW TO DEAL

Because sometimes the holidays aren't merry and bright... beyond the mistletoe, classic movies, enticing treats, ornate decorations and overhaul of lofty expectations for happiness, altruism and gratitude, is the not so jingle worthy reality that holidays can also be hectic, stressful, overindulgent, lonely and expensive. When our friends, families, partners, kids and coworkers can bombard us with unattractive small talk, uncomfortable political discussions, the overconsumption and ugliness of too much food and booze. Reminders of those who've passed or are no longer are in our lives in the way they used to be, the tendency to overlook or instigate the differences and separations between family members. The reality that a picture perfect holiday doesn't exist no matter what Instagram and the Macy's windows tell us. So today I'm offering a little room for us all to be real about the part of the holiday that hasn't always been so celebrated, but has always had a seat at the table. I originally wrote this post last year around the holidays and my intention was to write a newer version, but it seems like pretty much everything still applies. So I tweeked a few things and added some new thoughts, but for the most part, these were the main themes I considered when thinking about the holi-daze we can easily fall into. I write this post with a lot of honesty, empathy and of course, love. Enjoy. 

1. Mindfulness around the food and booze... but seriously, so hard. This, I believe is one of the most difficult things for me to maintain mindfulness about during the season of nonstop feasting, cheering, and nibbling on salt and sugar. If you are only planning to attend one celebration then by all means go all out and deal with the cookie and alcohol combo hungover but for those of us attending multiple holiday parties it's a slippery slope. And let's be real, I often find the yummy cheese plate and glass of rosè as a reward for doing 20 minutes straight of small talk with a girl named Sara who hates her boss, no offense to any Sara's out there. It's so tempting to just calm our social anxiety with too much cake and wine but, at the end of the day I will often ask myself, "is it worth the lull, the bulge, the lack of energy?" And to be clear, I always ask myself these questions from a place of love and acceptance of my body, and not shame and resentment for my choices. I try sometimes to think of all the cocktail parties as a marathon, not a sprint, trying to think of other ways I can manage some of the temptation by nourishing myself maybe before I go to a party with foods that make me feel good, so I'm not starving and consuming large amounts of food that won't feel good the next day. It's not an easy task but before alternating between nonstop fasting and feasting for several months, it might be worth some consideration. 

2. Family comes first, but...  The holidays are also supposed to be enjoyable, so why do others have to dictate what that looks like exactly? I know, I know, this is hard one. But I really believe that as individuals we need to stop apologizing for wanting more for ourselves, especially when it comes to our own happiness. If you don't enjoy seeing Aunt-oh how are you still single?- then don't. I understand people have commitments to see family for so many different and complex reasons, and sometimes it's just not feasible. I wonder, however, if is at all feasible to cut some of the guilt out and do what's best for yourself, your partner, or your kids in any small way (for example limiting the time with difficult family members or planning something separate and special for yourself or loved ones). Life is just too short and the holidays too special not to enjoy some or all of it the way you'd like. 

3. Can we just say no... Like the last thought but a tad easier sometimes than with family. Saying no to "omg I haven't seen you in forever, let's do brunch", saying no to more than two secret Santa's, saying no to the entire cookie making station, just take your snap of the cute holiday party invite and Instagram that custom hot chocolate making station and get the hell out. Saying no to whatever you don't want to go to and stop feeling bad about it. It's not selfishness, it's common sense. Remember, the holidays are about being happy, right?

4. #Holiday on a budget...Let's face it, way easier said than done and I am no expert in budgeting. We all want that understated but ultra-luxe and on trend New Year's Eve dress, the substantial donation to our favorite charity,  the extra pretty gift wrap option, the $70 ugly Christmas sweater (I wish I was kidding), that gift that makes our partner go wow! And with social media it's hard to re-wear the expensive cocktail dress and not be a tad jealous about what model Range Rover kid car the Joneses got Timmy. It's the thought that counts and I'll admit that it is sometimes very difficult for me to understand that fully. So in the spirit of supporting the opportunity and meaning behind giving this season, making a budget for everything involved, not just the gifts and donations, but the real cost of each event, the holiday cards, the last minute/overpriced bottle of champs, the beauty regimens, the Uber surge pricing, the outfits, the secret Santa gifts you forgot about until the night before, and all the little extra details that add up, aka the $8 ornate, but oh so convenient  wine gift bag nobody will ever use again. 

5. Don't just do it for gram...I know, I know, I'm a total hypocrite. But I do constantly tell myself this all the time and for the most part it reminds me why I gather and plan before the gram (haha that wasn't meant to rhyme but I like it). Remember that you can Insta at anytime and often it's the photos we don't post that make us look cooler. If you're having a good time, the photo can wait, if it has to happen at all. Heather Dubrow said on her podcast that she only takes photos at the beginning of an event so she can enjoy the rest of her time without worrying about it. Clearly she isn't a blogger, but hey I think the principle still applies. Some of the best photos required the most work and stress. I am clearly still thinking hard about this one... 

6. Exercise, exercise, exercise... A general rule of thumb that's been particularly useful for me in this last year. If I can't make time to relieve the stress, then I don't make it. AKA if I know I'm going to be in a frenzy going to three events in one week and won't have time to recover (aka workout or relax a night or two in between) then I just don't go. Its kind of like putting gas in the car, if you are constantly on empty you won't be able to go very far! 

7. Can we honor those who've passed... Perhaps one of the hardest parts about the holiday is being reminded of those who we have lost, who played significant roles in our celebrations in past years and remind us of how much we miss them even if the rest of the year is more bearable. As a therapist I often encourage clients to acknowledge the loss in the safest and most bearable way possible. This can vary from reading a poem or quote, playing a particular game, sharing a fond memory, eating a special food or even visiting the grave or special place he or she used to love. These are not as simple as they sound and perhaps not appropriate for every situation, however, often times allowing a welcomed space, that may come with some sadness and difficult memories, feels better in the long run then avoiding the loss entirely. 

8. And maybe it's okay to be sad... As a matter of fact, maybe we can even plan for it, just a little. Like I mentioned before, as much as the holidays are fun and filled with happy memories, they are also sometimes stressful and emotionally draining. We tend know ourselves well enough to sense when we might have an extra hard time putting up with a parent who might not change, a recent breakup, or a change in life circumstance beyond our control. And when everyone is forcing cheerfulness and gratitude down your throat it can often leave us feeling extra sensitive to the things we don't have, or did and lost. It's never a bad idea to have a little plan in place for these days — maybe promising yourself no guilt in saying no to a party invitation, or treating yourself to a massage/movie/SoulCycle class, having a friend on speed dial who is comfortable with just listening or watching a re-run of Friends. We all have things that make us sad and often times the stress or pressure that comes with this season brings it up a little more for us, and for what it's worth, I'm here to tell you that is so okay. 


Tis' the season and take care, but really

-M
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AN AUTUMN INSPIRED CHEESE PLATE


As you know... I am not much of a cook. I do try to refrain from eating mounds of quick meals from Postmates or Whole Foods by preparing myself chicken, quinoa, and veggies as much as possible, but I by no means enjoy it. So when the holidays roll around (or just another Monday night) I like to stick with what I’m good at; pouring the drinks and throwing together a fabulous cheese plate. So in the sprit of the season, I created my lovely little fall inspired cheese plate. As per usual on my boards I always try to mix sweet and salty, with a soft cheese, typically a form of creamy Brie, a hard cheese, often my favorite Manchego and then something in between in texture and taste; typically something more strong in taste like a blue cheese, but this time I did Morbier. To make it more autumn-like I added some pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, blood oranges (in season now) and apple, with a honey sauce to dip. And there you go, an easy, festive and incredibly delicious way to entertain. Enjoy! 




Brie Humble!

-MGN
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PINK PEACOAT NYC


A pretty pink peacoat ... makes the dreary sweater weather in New York so much more bearable, I’d imagine. I was secretly happy about cooler temps during my stay in NYC last week, as they appear to be fleeting in Los Angeles. When I planned for this trip I really wanted layers and fortunately this coat is thin enough to lay nicely over a thick and cozy sweater, without being bulky. Mine is from last year but I linked a very similar and reasonably priced option here. Its also a great lighter coat option for spring and those semi muggy, semi chilly days most of the country tends to see. And of course I shot this outfit outside the pretty pastels at Ladurèe. Didn’t get a chance to visit the beautiful soho location but fortunately we now have two locations in Los Angeles to brighten any rainy day. Enjoy. 




Happy Weekend!

-MGN

photography by diego farfan
makeup by anita aguirre
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2018 AGENDAS


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What have we got on the agenda today...? As much as I love technology, I’ve still kept some artifacts of the past in my daily life. For example, phone calls, books you can hold, handwritten cards, and of course, my trusty old school agenda. For the last 5 years I have used the same agenda from Gallery Leather because it's got a great weekday outline, divided by each hour, which helps me keep all my sessions and meetings straight. And of course, they monogram. I will most likely continue to order the same version every year, until I can justify purchasing a Symthson but I complied a list of other noteworthy (see what I did there) options too! Now full disclosure, I do use my google calendar (synced to my iPhone calendar) to keep all my personal dates such as dinner plans, blogger events, vacations, etc. But I find it much easier to keep all my work related items like meetings, client appointments and trainings, in a more tangible way. I will admit, that with Outlook appointments and Google docs the temptation is real to put it all online, but there's just something so much more meaningful to me about writing things down, especially important dates and being able to physically keep track of everything. I also think it's in poor taste (no offense 2017) to use my phone during a work meeting or in front of clients, and so using a planner keeps me organized and feeling a bit more professional. So if you're anything like me, this selection of organized eye candy will get you going, to work! Enjoy! 

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NAVY ON NAVY

Well, well, it's FINALLY sweater weather here in Los Angeles, aka 65 degrees, and I am fully embracing fall now; even outside my air-conditioned office. And to me the fall season always has my style leaning more towards menswear; baggy sweaters, blazers, darker colors like blues, greens, and brown, and of course, a staple men's watch. I have always loved a 'borrowed from the boys' look and an oversized watch is one of the chicest ways to add it in. I have been searching the last couple years for a navy face version, as I always find myself in some shade of blue on a daily basis, and I think I have found just that! I am obsessed with my new navy on navy watch from Lilienthal Berlin. It had just what I was looking for and at right price point too. I love the pebbled leather and the ability to switch out the bands from the new Urbania collection, which I have in rose gold/white with a red strap to mix and match. I just tried it on with pink coat and the red looked less bold and much more fall like, if that makes sense. And the blue looks so great with navy velvet blazer I just got, can't wait to pair them. Enjoy! 








Happy November, 

-MGN