My RI Life: Hilary Levey Friedman, Writer, Sociologist, Wife & Mom
In Rhode Island terms I’m a real newbie. My family - husband and two sons, aged two and four - relocated to Little Rhody last summer. Having previously lived in Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, and England, I can honestly say I’ve never felt as instantly at home. Rhode Island has such a strong identity and we have all loved exploring our stylish, delicious, and historic state.
Shopping & Style
Our home base is East Greenwich - though all four of us commute to Providence for school, school, school, and school each day (My husband and I both teach at Brown.) - and what a spot to land with so many local business all over town, not just on Main Street.
I’ve been brushing up on my #profstyle, given how well-attired college students tend to be around here. Zuzu’s Petals on Main Street has helped me up my game with some gems from Shoshanna and Tibi. Bonus that both of these frocks came from the sale rack!
(Excuse the unmade bed, but professing with two little kids at home means you have to prioritize…)
I can never forget my boys, especially when it comes to their wardrobes. I’ve gotten some great items for them at Teddy Bearskins in Wickford. Check out my eldest’s Rhode Island-themed anchor khakis.
My husband, who teaches Economics and Public Policy, has also found some great pieces at Blueprint 5, on Main Street in EG, and Milan Fine Clothiers in Wayland Square (They have particularly nice accessories.).
In addition to sartorial styling, I have found some lovely beauty businesses in Little Rhody. Close to home is Facial Aesthetics Center & Spa on South County Trail. Dr. Sarah Levy is a wizard with even a small amount of Dysport and Kerri Parks always ensures I leave with glowing skin (You can’t go wrong with any treatment, but I’m a big Hydra facial fan.).
I also love Royal Nails in Coventry. Not only do you get a back massage with every service (and paraffin), but they also help make my nails fun, so that the kids can enjoy special holidays. And they do all the designs using gel, so they last!
Managing an insanely busy schedule full of teaching, writing, and mothering means I look for time savers when I can. The absolute best blowout I have gotten is at John Bacon Salon on South Main in PVD. No joke, I can make it last all week long, so well worth the investment (bonus that they are open on Mondays, rare for a high quality salon). Plus, as the late, great Nora Ephron wrote, “Twice weekly blowouts are cheaper than psychoanalysis and much more uplifting.” I also have to give a shout-out to Charisma in Coventry where Charlene (a Matrix color educator who travels around the world teaching *other* stylists how to color hair) covers my grays and (Shhh!) even gives me fabulous perms!
Food & Restaurants
My husband and I strive to schedule a weekly date night - where we attempt to not discuss scheduling or the kids the whole time - which also means we have been sampling Rhode Island’s amazing culinary options.
The first place we ever ate in East Greenwich, and it remains a fave, is La Masseria on Main Street. Just a few blocks down the road I love Besos as well. I can never go wrong with the Non Sequitur cocktail and the Chilean Sea Bass.
In the summer, down on Greenwich Cove, you will find many great options as well. One of the many “only in Rhody” things I have come to appreciate are clamcakes. I have taken one for the team and sampled them all over, and my favorites are at Blu on the Water - can’t wait for them to reopen for the season soon!
I have only one complaint and I hope someone can rectify it. Rhode Island is desperately in need of a Jewish deli. I am seriously missing having a place to get matzo ball soup from when someone is sick and picking up pastrami and chopped liver for special occasions, or better yet, for no reason at all. PattyJ readers, please get on this!
What I'm Working On Right Now
You could say I’m an expert on competition in American society. I’ve written a book on children’s competitive after-school activities (I studied dance moms before Dance Moms was a thing.). You can buy a copy of Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture here. And, yes, I often speak to parent groups on how to manage competition among children in a healthy way, so feel free to contact me anytime. This semester I’m teaching a large lecture course at Brown entitled Sports in American Society. We recently welcomed Rhode Island legend Bill Reynolds to class, pictured here.
I reviewed Bill’s most recent book, about Hope High School’s basketball team, in The Providence Journal earlier this year. I am an extreme bookworm and a frequent book reviewer for a variety of publications. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I love reading more than any other activity (Yes, seriously, even more than a blowout, but maybe that’s because I usually read while getting a blowout.).
On the weekends lately, you can find us supporting Brown student athletes on campus, especially my students, or catching a show at PPAC, sometimes even with the kids!
Last semester I taught an advanced undergraduate seminar called Beauty Pageants in American Society - mainly because I’m writing a book on beauty pageants (child pageants, Miss pageants, and everything in between), but also because Rhode Island had quite a track record in the world of pageantry, from Bravo’s Game of Crowns to Cranston’s Olivia Culpo to Barrington’s Shanna Moakler.
Because I love Rhode Island so much, I’ve also been getting involved with civic life. Just recently I was sworn in as an Affordable Housing Commissioner in East Greenwich.
Yes, I’m wearing a made-in-Rhode-Island Kiel James Patrick anchor pearl necklace, and the boys are wearing anchor clip boutonnières (Thanks, Gymboree!).
I hope to see you around town sometime, and please be sure to come up and say hi. In the meantime, I’ll keep reading PattyJ.com to find more Rhody hot spots to explore and little gems to uncover…
Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Hilary Friedman