Many of us have been given the gift of a long weekend, a day off from work. But as we celebrate Martin Luther King Day we should pause for a moment and remember his crusade about social injustice and inequality. A man of many words and quoted often, his words continue to move and inspire so many of us. No matter what you're striving to reach - whether personally or professionally, career or fitness - we've got to keep moving forward, whether we fly, run, walk or crawl. Keep your eye on that prize!
Whether you're making resolutions or not this year, I want you to promise to be kinder to yourself. We, especially women, are our worst critics. We tend to focus on our faults rather than our assets. We tend to be fixated with our weaknesses rather than our strengths. We tend to hone in on our mistakes and failures rather than our successes.
Let's all vow, this year - in 2018 - to turn that all around.
Let's find and focus on those strengths, successes and all the good things that we have to offer.
Let's not worry about perfection, but strive each day to be the best that we can be.
Let's stop comparing ourselves to others - comparison really is the thief of joy.
Do the best that you can do.
Be the best that you can be.
Some days you'll be better, stronger, faster than others... and that's ok.
Some days you'll give it your all and feel as though you've come short.
And some days you'll struggle just to get out of bed, to put pen to paper, to pedal at all let alone with strength and speed... but you made the effort, and effort is more important than success.
Some days you'll succeed.
Some days you won't.
And that's OK.
So this year make yourself a promise to be kinder and gentler to yourself.
We're almost a week into the New Year. Many of us have set up goals, and no doubt many of us may have slipped some already. And that's OK. We are tough. We are strong. We haven't failed. So pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on that treadmill, stationary bike, yoga mat... So you had a slice of bread, a piece of chocolate... So what?! Tomorrow's a new day, and there happen to be 358 more of them!
There are two things I have a weakness for, design books and dogs. And so when I received an advance copy of At Home with Dogs and their Designers, Sharing a Stylish Life, from Rizzoli, it was akin to getting an early Christmas gift. It's the time of year I start to take note of those gifts worth giving, and books are always at the top of my list of favorite items to give. As soon as I pulled this gorgeous book out of the bubble-wrap-lined manila envelope, I knew immediately who must have copies of these stunning pages filled with fun photographs, with snapshots into the lives of these vivacious dogs and their designers, with tips for dogs on living stylishly, and tips for humans on living with their 4-legged friends. As whimsical as it is stunning, this is a must for those designing dog-lovers in your life.
I remember, about 4 years ago, when fellow blogger Stacey Bewkes and designer Susanna Salk got together to create a series of short videos bearing the same name. Stacey was the talent behind the scenes while Susannah was in front of the camera conducting the interviews. Perhaps Stephen Gambrel summed it up best when he said "I thought that houses were all about dinner parties and decorating but then I realized that you have to have a dog to really make it come to life."
Inside the glossy pages 22 A-list designers offer us glimpses into the lives with their pets who tend to (more often than not) rule the roost. In these homes no room is off-limits, no piece of furniture banned. Here clothing is optional and accessories are as chic as their surroundings. And as such as dogs will be dogs, accidents do happen - sometimes on vintage rugs, and antiques can sometimes be mistaken for chew toys.
Each dog and his (or her) human has his own chapter and we are invited along to watch as they frolic around their stunning homes and gardens. At Home with Dogs and their Designers is as much an inspirational design book as it is a resource. Featured are such renowned decorators as: Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Nathan Turner and Eric Hughes, Jeffrey Alan Marks, Mary McDonald, Betsy Burnham, Kelly Wearstler, Schuyler Samperton, Brooke Giannetti, Hutton Wilkinson, Windsor Smith, Mark D. Sikes, Jonathan Adler, Steven Gambrel, Katie Ridder, Alex Papachristidis, Robert Couturier, Charlotte Moss, Bunny Williams, Carolyne Roehm, Brian J. McCarthy and Michelle Nussbaumer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lifestyle author Susanna Salk has written many books, including Room for Children, Decorate Fearlessly, and Be Your Own Decorator, all published by Rizzoli. She also hosts (and co-produces) the At Home With video series featuring visits with leading tastemakers. Interior designer and architect Robert Couturier is the author of Designing Paradises, also published by Rizzoli, and an ASPCA supporter.
AT HOME WITH DOGS AND THEIR DESIGNERS: Sharing a Stylish Life By Susanna Salk Principal Photography by Stacey Bewkes, Foreword by Robert Couturier
Hardcover / 7¼" x 9⅛" / 176 pages/ 235 color photographs $35.00 US
ISBN: 978-0-8478-6090-6/ Rizzoli New York
October 2017 www.rizzoliusa.com
Camouflage has been making its way into mainstream fashion over the past few years. Designer labels such as Valentino, Michael Kors, Burberry and Dries Van Noten have been incorporating this green and khaki-colored print into their ready-to-wear lines for a couple of years now. As it started to capture the attention of the general public, it has become more mainstream. With stylish and affordable takes on the pattern in such places as J.Crew, The Gap and Banana Republic. From skinny jeans to tailored pants, from jackets to dresses, we're seeing stylish, chic and modern takes on the battlefield uniform. From the front lines, to the runway to Fifth Avenue does Camouflage have what it takes to become a classic?
Looking for recipes that would allow me to take full advantage of all the wonderful tomatoes found at the farmer's market this time of year brought me back to the mid 1990s and my favorite restaurant in Italy.
My grandmother had just renovated a villa in the hills of Umbria in a wonderful medieval town of Citta della Pieve in Perugia. The old Villa Rosetta is steeped in history, purported to have been named after King Emanuel 2nd's lover, Rosa. And although he was married it is said that Rosa was his one true love. She gave him 2 children, Vittoria and Emanuel. I had heard rumors of an underground tunnel leading from Villa Rosetta to the King's home in Rome. So naturally, I tried looking for it and had no luck. This Umbrian home that was named after the King's true love would, centuries later, become a German command post in the Second World War. How fitting then, that a former American Navy Pilot who also happened to be a German and a Jew would end up living at the home with his wife (who also happened to have German and Jewish ancestry).
This husband and wife were my grandparents. My grandmother bought this home as a present to herself for her 70th Birthday. After teaching herself Italian she began the massive renovations to make the home liveable. (Because this was to be a summer home, she spared herself the expense of modernizing it with heat!) Her renovations included restoring all of the home's frescoed ceilings, installing a swimming pool, tennis court and the most magnificent gardens that yielded the most divine bounty.
We typically took lunch at home, on the terrace, poolside if the weather allowed. Lunches were always the same, and we dined on salad daily with items meticulously grown and handpicked from her own gardens. The only thing that would vary was the bread picked up at the local bakery. For dinner we went out almost every night. When we stayed in town, there were two restaurants she favored and everyone knew and greeted Signor and Signora Bachmann by name. But it was Trattoria Bruno Coppetta (Bruno's) that completely stole our hearts, captivated our tastebuds and is permanently etched in my own memory. Although I haven't been in 20 years I can remember with the utmost clarity the many wonderful dishes I ate... We were fed handsomely and one dish was better than the next. It was at Bruno's where I would enjoy many of my "firsts" which would hold the standard to which today's dishes are measured. To know really good food one must have experienced it from the source. New York Times Restaurant and Food Critic Patricia Brooks shared that thought with me over lunch one day a few weeks ago in New Canaan. And so Bruno's still holds the gold standard.
It was at Bruno's that I would have my first Panzanella -- a Tuscan bread salad that is out of this world. A good panzanella will be abundant with freshly picked, perfectly ripened tomatoes. For my own, I used just a small amount of bread for taste and texture. (I am trying desperately to watch my carbs.) It is suggested and encouraged to use a day old crusty bread that will absorb the juices and not get soggy. You really need a hearty bread for this dish; the type I refer to as Crunch and Chew. One that has a solid crust and a dense dough. A fresh bread that's mostly airy dough and less crust will feel heavy and soggy and that's not what we are after here. The salad is best when made ahead of time allowing the tomatoes to marinate in the dressing, with the bread tossed in just prior to serving.
Now there are, of course, varied ways to make this salad, but the key ingredients are always tomatoes and bread. You could add onion, and cucumber if you wish but I didn't. I kept it to the tomatoes and the bread, but I used assorted heirloom tomatoes and peppers to create a depth of color and punctuated the flavors by tossing in a few capers and a couple of olives that I had chopped into small pieces. I created a very simple dressing by adding 1 anchovy to a little bit of olive oil. Don't be afraid of the anchovy! Its saltiness lends itself perfectly to the tomatoes and crusty bread. If you choose not to add it simply add more coarse salt be it sea salt, Himalayan salt or Maldon.
Serves *2 - 4
*2 cups of freshly picked tomatoes, either red, heirloom or a mix
1 bell pepper
1 scant tsp capers
1 tbs capers
6-8 olives thinly sliced
2 - 3 slices of bread with the crustiest pieces possible!
1 1/2 tsp. Olive oil
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar
1-2 tsp lemon juice (from lemon)
* Depending on what, if anything, you're serving with this.
Into a large bowl I added bite sized pieces of heirloom tomatoes - green, yellow and red for their varied colors, a sweet multi-colored pepper, a few capers, sliced olives and let them bask in their own juices. A quick twist of the salt and pepper grinders... I let them sit while I prepared the dressing.
Next I added about a teaspoon (give or take) of olive oil to a ramekin and started working the anchovy into the oil using a small whisk. The anchovy will break down and start to dissolve in the oil. As it started to do so I added a couple squeezes of lemon and some freshly ground pepper.
I then added some bread and cut the ends off of a really crusty and chewy loaf of bread into bite-sized pieces and mixed them in with the tomato and pepper mixture.
Add the dressing and toss well just prior to serving to ensure that there's just enough to coat everything without rendering the bread completely soggy and mushy. Once the dressing has been added, serve immediately!
Although it looks like I may have used a lot of bread, it's really not a lot. Don't worry about the bread abosrbing too much flavor (or not enough) there'll be plenty of natural juices from the tomatoes and the dressing to dredge the bread through.
Yesterday I wrote a post publicly declaring my love for black houses. I think they're bold, elegant and in short, sublime. (You can read about them here.) Today I will write about my love for white houses. Perhaps a direct reflection of my own Gemini personality, I happen to adore both. Traditional and classic there's a reason why this color has remained a favorite since the Colonial times. Whether at the shore, in the desert or on top of the mountains, the simplicity of this effortless color choice speaks for itself. Unlike its darker counterpart, white paint fares better in the elements, as the darker colors can fade beneath the sun's bright rays, this is never a problem with a white home, (which may need a good power washing on an annual basis.) Although modern homes are very well insulated with eco-friendlier heating and cooling systems, the darker colors do tend to absorb the heat of the sun, whereas white homes do not.
In my town of Southport, Connecticut - a quiet, coastal hamlet located about an hour outside of New York City, white remains a popular choice among homeowners. Our architecture runs the gamut from Colonial to Cape Cod to Georgian, with a few VIctorian style homes. More modern-Colonials and Farm-style houses are starting to pop up in crisp white colors that seem to magnify the brilliance of the natural landscape. These white houses while no less sophisticated than the black ones I highlighted yesterday, do make a quieter statement, evoking a sense of calm and tranquility.
I've been noticing a few changes over the past couple of years in the newer as well as the older homes.
I've seen more homes removing their shutters and painting their trims the same color as the exterior paint (as opposed to a shade or two darker or lighter) or by complete contrast outlining the trim in black, which I also adore. As though piping has been added along the exterior of the home.
Windows are getting larger and many are starting to remove their shutters entirely. This is an easy update for an older home looking for a more modern look. In the case of the modern colonial, especially those with larger windows, I prefer the no shutter look, yet with the older homes, I'm torn - the jury's still out on that decision. I love the crisp, clean lines of the white home without shutters, yet there's nothing as charming and quintessential New England than driving through a historic down full of light color houses with dark shutters. If one has shutters on their home, I believe they should absolutely be a dark, classic color. What do you think?
I have a relatively new obsession. I am just mad about dark colored houses. Whether deep charcoal grey or black, these unfussy homes are about as sophisticated as they get. They offer an understated elegance, a subdued glamour and blend into their settings seamlessly, whether coastal, urban or suburban. In fact, they almost seem to enhance the landscape that surrounds them. The color suits both large and small, modern and traditional. Dark colors add drama and depth and beckon you to take them seriously, a message that you’re not afraid to be noticed. Not everyone can pull off a black home. I find them to be handsome and bold, do you?
I think I have a particular fondness for those houses with white trim. I think the white accentuates the black even more, making it seem all that much more dramatic. Yet there's the classic side to it as well - black and white will forever be classic colors, and there is a part of me that does embrace the traditional, even if the architecture might not be.
As I prepared to pack for my trip to Palm Beach last spring I knew that getting everything into my carry on was an improbable situation. It wasn't so much for the fact that I had too much to pack -- I'm a pretty good packer despite the fact that I always to take more than I need. My issue with Palm Beach was nothing more than a bottle of sunscreen. My bottle of sunscreen was well more than the "safe" 3 oz. I didn't want to spend obscene amounts on bottle at the hotel only to have to leave half behind. I found the same issue with my favorite moisturizer. And by the time you've packed enough 3 oz bottles your carry on becomes heavy and bulky. And so surely there must be a better solution, I thought. And there was indeed, and it quite literally came to me one day while I was in the shower.
Lush's shampoo bar was, for me, life changing. Shaped like a smaller version of hockey puck, this bar lathered up deliciously, and I required just a small amount. The company also has a conditioning bar and I have been a longtime fan of their cocoa butter bar, a wonderful body moisturizer. I recently learned of a "safe" sunscreen in stick form. All of our necessary beauty products are available in a "dry" form. Not only are these FAA safe, but they're terrific products to begin with.
Below are some of my favorite dry beauty bars... The best part is that each product featured below is made by companies that don't use harsh ingredients, chemicals or unnecessary additives. They're environmentally and socially friendly so you can feel good about purchasing and using them. Now I've just saved you the hassle of checking your luggage, eliminated the need and hassles of the 3 oz bottles, and lightened up your load.
Now that I've got everything I need, where should I go to next?
3. Lush Body Butters I'm a huge LUSH fan and have been for years - ever since several slices of homemade soap were given to me nearly a decade ago as a gift from the UK. Their products are clever, fun and really fabulous. Environmental friendly, and vegan, this brand is no flash in the pan. I was turned on to these moisturizing bars about a year or so ago and have been using them ever since.
4. Honest Company 30 SPF Sunscreen stick Launched in 2012, the company's mission has been to create a safe, non-toxic, and beautiful products for skin and home.
5. Burt's Bees Lip Balm - My most favorite lip balm ever... and now they come in a huge array of flavors, as well as tints. Think of these as your favorite Lip Smackers all grown up!
Sant Ambroeus, Felidia, Bemelmans Bar (cocktails at the Carlyle), The King Cole (Bar at the St. Regis - home of the original Bloody Mary), The Modern, Balthazar, The Press Lounge (Rooftop Bar), The Standard (Rooftop Bar), BG at Bergdorf Goodman, Bedford Post Inn (Bedford, NY), The Inn at Pound Ridge (Pound Ridge, NY)
Connecticut (Fairfield County):
Match (South Norwalk), Barcelona (South Norwalk and Fairfield), Rive Bistro (Westport), The Whelk (Westport), Southend (New Canaan), Le Penguin (Westport), Pearl at Longshore (Westport), Artisan at The Delamar, especially outside in Summer (Southport), The Schoolhouse (Cannondale), Southend (New Canaan)
The Verandah Raw Bar at Ocean House (Westerly), The Inn at Castle Hill (Newport), Fluke Wine Bar (Newport), Belle's Cafe (Newport), The Midtown Oyster Bar (Newport), FiSH (Jamestown), Dewolf Tavern (Bristol) The Black Pearl (Newport), Clark Cooke House (Newport)
FAVORITE LOCALish DESTINATIONS
Westerly, Watch Hill, Narragansett, Jamestown, Newport (RI)
Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Ocean Park (ME)
Amaganset, Stony Brook, Shelter Island (Long Island)
(ON MY TRAVEL MUST SEE LIST)
Cuba, Barcelona, Greece, Sonoma County, Seattle, Venice, The Amalfi Coast, Croatia, the Maldives, Africa (Safari), Reykjavik (Hot springs), Bali.... for now!
Caccio e Pepe (which I don't eat often but I adore), Oysters, Grilled Octopus, Lobster Roll in the summertime (hot or cold), Sushi, freshly picked tomatoes - especially heirloom, ice cream (unfortunately!), fresh fruit in the summertime, stovetop popcorn made with white truffle oil and either maldon or himalayan salt and a glass of rosé.
Sabrina (the original), Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Metropolitan, Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally, Dead Poets Society,
The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger), any book written by Ruth Reichl, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith), Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe), The World According to Garp, Cider House Rules (both John Irving), Gift from the Sea (Anne Morrow Lindbergh), Still Alice (Lisa Genova), My Life in France (Julia Child), Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert), Tender is the Night (F.Scott Fitzgerald), and of the ee cummings poetry books
Freshly mowed grass, the ocean, freshly brewed coffee, the rain on the pavement on a hot day, apple pie baking in the oven, Votivo White Ocean Sands and Nest Bamboo candles, lilacs, lilies, gardenia...
Clocks (Coldplay), Speed of Sound (Coldplay), Fix You (Coldplay) Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen), Glitter in the Air (Pink), All the Right Moves (One Republic), Sign of the Times (Harry Styles), El Cerrito Place (Kenny Chesney), Landslide (Fleetwood Mac), Heroes (David Bowie)
MY (FAVORITE) CAMERA
My phone... because I have it with me I never miss a "Kodak moment," but I have an older model Canon EOS Rebel that I use both for work and to capture my favorite images. I'll upgrade the body at some point, but rely on the lenses, the kit 18-55 mm as well as a 75 - 300 mm for city and landscape images and the kit lens and a 50 mm lens that I use for a lot of my food photography. I truly believe that if you have an eye for images you really don't need a super high end camera. Practice makes perfect!
My style is unapologetically, unmistakably my own. It starts from the classics. The classics, after all never fade from style. From there I add on to accessorize or emphasize - to create a bit of an edge. I add on to express my mood - Am I feeling particularly wild? Or am I feeling more demure? Do I want to sit back and assess a situation, or do I want to make a statement? I don't really spend much on myself these days, a busy single mom with three kids and a budding business, and I don't have the desire (or the inclination) to scour shelves and racks. I firmly believe that style can be achieved within a minimal budget. I have pieces that I've had for 10, even 20 years. They always look current, alway fresh - and very much me. These are the foundations, the building blocks of my wardrobe and I can create around them. Truth of the matter is that I am complimented often, stopped in grocery stores and on the streets where someone asks about a pair of shoes, pants or sunglasses. Instead of a mere thank you I always give away my trade secrets and people are usually generally shocked to learn where the item may have originated from. With everyday brands borrowing ideas from luxury brands, style is always achievable and luckily for us these days, always affordable.
My go to places for affordable style:
Banana Republic has the most amazing sales racks!
The Gap has only jeans I will wear. And because they're super affordable I can buy more!
Anthropologie and Free People better reflect my Bohemian side which I love to mix with the classics.
I never discount consignment shops. (Pun intended!)
I'm a true (and devoted) Marshall's and TJMaxx addict.
I also love the boutique shops that dot the streets of my town and the surrounding ones where I can find unique pieces that I won't see on the streets. I like to be individual!
Elements of My Style - The Classic components
A Little black dress
A great fitting pair of jeans (in numerous styles and colors)
A tailored jacket (blazer) - black, off white, navy, tan - in classic colors
Kitten heel mules or slingbacks in assorted colors that work well with jeans and said little black dress
A little white dress
A few good cashmere sweaters, cardigans and crew necks
A well fitted white Tshirt (to wear w jeans and sweaters or jackets)
A well fitted white blouse
Elements of My Style - The Bohemian components
Espadrille wedges, both mules and lace-up
Simple A-line dresses, linen and cotton, both above and below the knee
A little (white) blouse, loose fitting
Beaded anything, especially necklaces and bracelets
Tunics, both dresses and tops
A carefree attitude!
Today is Friday and marks the end of what's been both a fantastic and positively grueling week. This can only mean that tomorrow is Saturday which cannot come fast enough. Tomorrow's weather doesn't look terribly promising either and for that I could not be more grateful! We've found ourselves embroiled in a heat wave. A relentless heatwave that smacks at you the minute you step outside, causing you to stumble and lose your balance. August will be here next week and I suppose this is what they mean by the 'dog days of summer.' And here we are stuck in the middle... because before we know it the kids will all be off to school and life will get even crazier. So tomorrow, in appreciation for all things slow and simple I will do nothing. Nothing at all. I will not clean. I will not do laundry or change sheets or pay the bills. I will not run to the grocery store or fill the car with gas or go to the bank. And it's going to rain... Hallelujah! This means I can stay inside and do nothing... nothing at all! I might read, lose myself in a Netflix series, write, do some painting... but I will do nothing that feels like work or a chore. I will do only those things that seem relaxing and that please myself! (Of course it helps that my kids are all away in Maine.) I think we all need to proclaim it National Do Nothing Day... What do you all think?
Croissants, coffee and flowers. Note self, pick up some flowers today. Note to self the croissants look delicious ... but a minute on the lips and a year on the hips... at least a my age...
A book, coffee and bed. I mean really, this is a trifecta. But my 1938 house has no central AC and I never did get around to putting AC in my bedroom.... I do have a fan which works well.... so maybe that French press becomes a tall glass of iced espresso... But what I love more than anything at all is blasting the air and pulling all the covers up over me. There's nothing better. Well, almost nothing better!
Confession. I do like eating in bed. But I don't love the crumbs. So I make it a habit not to do so. Now I'm craving a sunny side up egg!
I mean ideally yes... this... but given the overcast skies and 99% humidity and the fact I have no balcony over the ocean... I prefer to stay home. But if this was a possibility I'd opt for it. I might swap out the glass of white for rosé, however!
Why is it that every image I have chosen has some sort of mouth-watering food in it?
And here we go again... But look at the cup. Have you ever tried to balance a cup of coffee on your bed... without a tray? On a plate or otherwise? I don't know about you but that would never work with me. It would get knocked over in a New York Minute. Which would be anything but relaxing. And my day would be ruined because I hate nothing more than stripping my bed... and yet I love nothing more than the feeling of crisp clean sheets against my skin.
Perfection! Head on over to the Kitchn to get a recipe for the perfect cup of iced coffee. I have my espresso cooling in the freezer... I'm a gonna step away for a sec and make mine!
As is this... but before it gets too hot out...
And here we are... another food and beverage shot in bed again. Don't tell me that this cup of tea did not get knocked over while said photoshoot occurred.... However you choose to spend your day of doing nothing, make it a good one!