Use it up, wear it out, & live like royalty

I have a few friends from Russia and other former Soviet republics, and they are some of the loveliest people I know. Exceptionally generous, amazingly crafty, poetic and unbridled in their expressions of love, they also all seem to possess equal parts exquisite taste and an aptitude for ingenious frugality.

Case in point #1: Natalya, who almost single-handedly saved our wedding by whip-stitching my husband into his suit jacket when he had a bulky plaster cast covering his entire right forearm. (His plan for getting into his outfit involved about 50 safety pins, which would have brought a certain punk element to the proceedings, but in the end, I’m glad Natalya stepped in.) She also made my bouquet.

Dark haired woman with three calla lilies

Case in point #2: Elena, who shocked us all by trading her Manolos for Converse and car services for a Piaggio a few years back. She followed her dream to a farm in Arizona and a meditation retreat in India, but still made in time in between to take us on the trip of a lifetime to Russia. Now even her rock star mother and I are penpals.

Blonde woman in plateau among mountains

Case in point #3: Katerina, who I only met this year, but who I already know is a giant. She’s opening the first package-free store in the northeast U.S. next week in our very own borough of Brooklyn; I wrote about the venture for Bushwick Daily. A busy entrepreneur and mom to a young son, Katerina somehow always looks great, and her deeply felt concern for the future of our planet and its people is evident in her every classy move.

Woman standing in front of vegetable store

Not sure if it’s something in the water, something in the culture, or just my great good fortune to have continued to meet such fantastic humans from this part of the globe. In any case, we would all do well to follow their example: live generously, live carefully, and you will live beautifully.

Delicious courage

Although I didn’t attend Sarah Lawrence College, I’m always pleased when people see my byline in their terrific magazine and think I did.

Sarah Lawrence comes out twice a year. It covers all the usual alumni magazine stuff like updates about goings-on at the school and news from notable alums, but blows most other alma mater publications out of the water with its commitment to producing a score of thoughtful stories about fascinating people, places, and projects in every issue.

Rohan Kamicheril Tiffin Club

Rohan Kamicheril at work (photo by Mike Jesson)

Take this sampling from their most recent edition, themed “Finding Courage”:

(In addition to presenting you with these opportunities for top-notch reading, I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out the aforementioned chef’s supper club by name. The Tiffin Club pops up periodically with inventive menus, bodacious wine pairings, and excellent camaraderie. Worth your time!)

The Tiffin Club

My hearty thanks to Sarah Lawrence‘s smart and gracious editors, who are wonderful to work with and who somehow keep inviting me back to write stuff. Coming this fall, an interview with a Davis Projects for Peace winner who’s making cardboard furniture with inner city kids!