This summer has been strange. Lindy West of Jezebel reviewed Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest cookbook — favorably! — just as all my friends simultaneously became addicted to Kim Kardashian’s “fame sim” iOS app.
So it really did feel like the right time, didn’t it, for Blake Lively to launch a “lifestyle website” of her own. After all, Gwyneth, Lauren Conrad, and Reese Witherspoon have lifestyle empires, and successful ones. (Blake Lively, by the way, is a personal friend of Martha Stewart, lending the starlet’s new venture a certain edge of credibility.)
All of these websites are absolutely mesmerizing. “Aspirational,” they’re frequently called — which is to say that, for the average person, the lifestyles these sites tout are overpriced, out-of-reach, even tone-deaf. For many subscribers, it’s all window-shopping.
When Blake Lively’s website launched, I was, meanwhile, partway through Bubbly on Your Budget. First published in the 1930s, the book advocates living fabulously on even a pauper’s wages. The book seems eerily prescient for its time, and wholly contemporary now.
I began to think about what advice I might give women about living fabulously. Did you know that Black Box is the best boxed wine you can buy? That Great Lash is (still!) the best mascara, and that you can pick up a massive, neverending tub of retinol cream at Vitamin World? That you can make Osso Bucco in a pressure cooker in about an hour, and your friends will all think you’re some kind of genius?
My inspiration doesn’t come from a “look book” or a “pinboard” or a women’s magazine, and it rarely comes from a celebrity. Instead, I ask myself questions like How would Amy Sedaris host this dinner party and What is the best way to sculpt a hamburger patty? (With a divot in its center, natch. We’ll get to that.)
So, not entirely ironically, I am rebranding myself as a Lifestyle Ideaperson. I will show you how to apply bronzer, put your hair up with pencils, and make a criminal cremini risotto in your rice cooker. I will show you how to polish every damn thing in your house with Bar Keeper’s Friend.
If you are a fan of America’s Test Kitchen, lifehacks, and compulsively dusting your apartment, stick with me, friend. We’ll go far. Watch this space.