Several items caught my eye this weekend when reading my Sunday morning indulgence,  The New York Times. These are my top 3 picks:

Courtyard at El Convento, Puerto Rico

Courtyard at El Convento, Puerto Rico

36 Hours, my favorite part of the Times Travel Section,  finds itself in San Juan, Puerto Rico this week. Featured in the piece is Hotel El Convento, a beautiful example of Spanish colonial architecture and design and a European-style alternative to glitzier properties. It has almost convinced me to put Puerto Rico on the top of the travel list, particularly because my husband has insisted we go somewhere tropical before returning to Europe. Hotel El Convento  is an Old San Juan institution right on the water. It was founded as a convent and housed Carmelite nuns for 250 years. Since then, the structure was rebuilt in 1959 on the foundations of the original. Check out its grand open-air courtyard and more on the hotel’s photo gallery. Looking for a hand-fitted, customized Panama hat? The article also suggests the best hat maker in town.

lotionIn the Arena section, where readers are treated to highlights from, I took notice of a piece on the Stockholm-based beauty brand called Sachajuan because of its simple packaging and my love for many things stylish and Swedish like Ikea. A cult favorite, its products – which include body washes and lotions made from a soluble fiber from oats called beta-glucan – is debuting in the States and carries a reasonable price tag. The article quotes Misha Anderson, its American distributor, as saying “In Swedish culture, they have a word called lagom – the idea that things should be chic yet understated and functional. This line embodies that in every way.” Learn more about Sachajuan products at


Sunday Review’s cover article “Relax! You’ll be More Productive” offers another nudge of convincing research in making the case that more naps and vacations – and less frantic juggling of overwhelming demands at an unsustainable pace –  lead to better output in the work world, and that the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. The “work when you work and rest when you rest”  philosophy, accepted much more in Europe, has no patience for the American pastime of guilt associated with vacation or the drive of “more, bigger, faster”.  This article suggests that working long hours and skipping vacation days is not equivalent to positive outcomes and results in the workplace. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal (longer sleep hours, more frequent vacations, more time away from the office, etc)  boosts productivity, job performance and – of course – health. A recent survey found Americans left an average of 9.2 vacation days unused in 2012, up from 6.2 in 2011. Maybe this research can turn the tide of the oddly placed bragging rights that accompany unused or working vacations and frantic schedules,  and introduce the idea that a siesta (even short) is nothing to laugh at.


6 responses to “lagom

  1. As siesta is definitely nothing to laugh at.

    Being raised American, growing up in L.A. (fast, fast, fast), and having worked since I was a teenager, I still deal with a lot of guilt when it comes to free time. But life in Europe has shown me that time off and a nice annual vacation (that is, please, longer than the standard 2 weeks in America) is nothing to laugh at. It breaks my heart when my old schoolmates talk about how hard it is for them to have to go back to work as soon as their child is 8-12 weeks old (as they frantically look for a nursery near their jobs that will allow them to breastfeed during lunchtime, etc), and one particular friend pushed herself to go to work ONE WEEK after an invasive surgery. You know, the whole “work hard, play hard” form of thinking.

    In Europe the standard vacation time is 5 weeks (5 weeks!) and you can spread it out however you’d like, and I’d say that their productivity is as competitive as the States, no?

    Ooh, San Juan in Puerto Rico sounds and looks wonderful. I definitely want to wear a Panama hat on my next tropical vacation. 🙂

    • and you would look great in a panama hat, michi! I miss our european time off when living there but because we are self employed here in the states, we enjoy a very good amount of vacation time and a nice balance. You just need the right situation I think and the right state of mind. I think you already have found that through living there, lucky you!

  2. I enjoyed this post (shared it on Facebook) and thought I had commented at the time…I agree with Michi that it is heartbreaking to see the moms going back to work when the babies are even 6 weeks old. I went back to work when both of mine were just 8 weeks, but fortunately I had someone to care for them at home when they were small. About productivity, I have taught this topic in one of my classes, and according to the research we saw, Americans are more productive in general, but Europeans are more productive by the hour.
    I haven’t been to Puerto Rico but am very interested in checking out some destinations that are not so far away but still historic and beautiful

    • thanks for sharing Jenna! Take a look at the research mentioned in this article, you might want to add it if you teach on the subject again. I havent been to puerto rico either but right now we are looking also at the yucatan peninsula area of mexico. good spots for snorkeling are a priority. I want culture also, so Merida is of interest too.

  3. I love the Sunday edition of the New York Times and the Travel section always makes me want to plan a trip. I have saved so many of the “36 Hours In…” articles. All three of these articles are of interest to me, thanks for pointing them out!

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