We’ve been obsessed with Lisa, a writer and artist, since we discovered her blog, A Bloomsbury Life, and are so excited to get to know her better here. She lives with her husband Piero and their 11 year old son Luca in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Give us a little background on yourself/what you do/how you came to it.
I’m a former NYC advertising writer who reinvented herself five years ago by starting a blog that explores how you can live a modern life through an Old World lens. I call it “A Bloomsbury Life” in homage to the Bloomsbury Group, a posse of BFF artists and writers in the 1920’s who moved to the English countryside to devote their lives to art, literature, friendship, travel and pleasure. I started off with two readers — my husband and my mother — and now I have followers in over 140 countries, and a book coming out on Random House in 2014 about how to discover your design style through classic literature.
Tell us about your embroidery work–how that came about–what was the inspiration?
I’m also an embroidery artist who cross-stitches modern poems onto huge burlap samplers. The samplers are part of my obsession with taking an old-school craft like cross-stitch and using it as a vehicle for modern social commentary. Instead of traditional biblical verses or quaint homilies, my samplers tackle subjects like plastic surgery, the recession and It Bags.
Do you work in a home office, and if you do, how do you deal with working from home?
I have an office upstairs and I try very hard to do the bulk of my work between the time I drop my son off at school and pick him up. Of course, it doesn’t always work out like this, so I’m usually sitting at my computer in my pajamas when my husband and son are asleep.
What would you say is your “mom uniform”?
For the past few months, it’s literally been a version of the same thing every day since I’ve been racing to finish my book and I have zero time to think about my wardrobe. I wear a short kilt over skinny jeans, black t-shirt and fitted leather jacket. Sometimes a long patterned scarf tossed on at the last minute. Oh, and my Skullcandy aviator headphones with built-in mic which make me look like an air traffic controller. As my husband says when I’m talking on the phone, “Don’t forget to tell Delta they can descend to 17,000 feet.”
Do you cook much–if you don’t, what are your ways around not cooking, and if you do, what are your go-tos–both for yourself, and for your son?
I am very lucky in that my husband’s parents were restaurateurs, so cooking in his genes and he loves it. He handles the weekends, but I make Luca dinner on weeknights – usually some variation of pasta with veggies, turkey burgers, chicken quesadillas, etc. I aim for easy and healthy. And Trader Joe’s spinach pizza makes it onto every grocery list – it is seriously amazing.
What’s your weeknight family dinner routine?
Piero doesn’t get home until around 7pm, so Luca and I eat together on school nights. Once a week, we’ve started having “Dinner and a Book Night” where we are both allowed to read at the table. I will do anything to get him to be as passionate about reading as I am. Food fills your stomach, but books fill your soul.
How do you celebrate Luca’s birthday?
We’ve done it all – the Chuck-e-Cheese party, the sword-fighting party, the three friends at a fancy restaurant with an over-the-top dessert menu. This year my son asked my husband and me if we could all hike to the top of Mount Hollywood and then play board games and make popcorn. We did and it was the best day ever.
Best kid purchase/bang for your buck?
The monogrammed school satchel he gets to pick out every September from Lands End. It’s got great zips and pockets and is completely indestructible. He uses it for vacations, sleepovers, soccer games, you name it.
Any rules about TV/screens?
I have a ship’s sand timer hanging right next to our television so that he knows when 30 minutes is up, but generally the rule is homework first and no more than an hour or so a day of TV or computer. His Nintendo DS is only allowed on the plane because he literally cannot put it down, but this means that a 12-hour flight is his dream come true.
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life? Preferred social media is….?
Momfilter, of course! Garance Doré for fashion and because she’s just so darn cute. Brain Pickings and Arts and Letters Daily for multiplying my gray cells. Remodelista for great design. The Persephone Books blog for a dose of Englishness. My friend David Netto’s website for sheer coolness. In terms of social media, mostly Instagram and Facebook. I need to get better at Twitter.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you? (Photo albums? Organizing your kids art projects? Planning a family trip?)
Ay-yi-yi, you’re killing me with that question! Photo albums! I have thousands of photos on my computer that I have been meaning to print out and put in books for YEARS now. I’ve printed a few Blurb books from specific vacations which are great, but I still think my son should have some physical photos – otherwise, he’ll have nothing to put into frames when he’s grown up, right? Also, I need to organize all the artwork I’ve saved of his.
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine?
Yes, I call it “My Faithful Five.” Cetaphil cleanser and a washcloth, Estee Lauder Soft Clean Silky Hydrating Lotion (I’ve been using it forever and it smells so good), any moisturizer with SPF 30, Stila Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 and a quick sweep of Laura Mercier Candlelight Illuminating Powder. Three minutes and I’m done.
Best family trip?
Two that spring to mind are the stately manor in Scotland that we rent with two other families through the Landmark Trust (it’s like time travelling back to the 19th century) and a recent trip to Marrakesh which was incredible because we had the most wonderful adventures: wandering through the souks, hiking in the Atlas Mountains, driving through the desert to a little village on the coast.
Any personal/parenting “a-ha” tips?
Not letting your mood determine your manners. A friendly greeting in the morning to everyone in the house is non-negotiable.
You feel your best when?
I’m sharing a simple candlelit meal with my husband. I’m singing in the car on a roadtrip with a girlfriend. I’m tickling my son until he’s laughing so hard he can’t breathe. I’m curled up on the couch with a book I can’t put down—and no one’s interrupting me. It’s the small moments.
Those rolls of marzipan you find in the baking section of the grocery store. I buy them for recipes but end up eating it straight from the tube so there’s never enough to cook with.
Proudest moment in parenting?
I was having a conversation with my son about dying and how important it was to live every moment to its fullest, and he told me that if a lightning bolt struck him right that second, he would still have had the best life because he had been happy every day.
Best parenting advice you ever got?
“If you can’t balance the meal, balance the day.” In other words, the red velvet donut for breakfast will even itself out with the chicken salad at lunch and the veggie pasta at dinner.