Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Forward

Trench: Zara (similar here)/ Long Sleeve Tee: J.Crew (similar here)/ Pants: Gap)/ Flats: Tory Burch/ Bag: Ferragamo (similar here)/ Sunglasses: Michael Kors (similar here)

This past weekend, we experienced quintessential early fall weather here in New York.  The mornings were crisp, the afternoons were warm and the evenings were perfect for curling up by our outdoor fire pit with a cashmere sweater and a generous glass of Malbec.  My husband even marked the change of season by making his annual version of Barefoot Contessa's ultimate fall comfort dish, butternut squash risotto.  While there is a definite appeal to autumn with it's promise of apple picking (and apple pie, of course), Halloween (my favorite "holiday" due to copious amounts of chocolate) and new fall fashions (very excited for leather everything), this transitional period where it's not quite summer and not fully fall has people (including me) thrown off in the wardrobe department.  Case in daughter and I ventured into the city on Sunday for a much overdue day of shopping and lunch.  Naturally, we ended up at Bloomingdale's and eventually made our way over to Rockefeller Center for it's proximity to Sak's and for Dean and Deluca (best coffee ever).  As we sat sipping coffee and hot chocolate and nibbling on our brownies, we witnessed a conflicted fashion show in full New York glory.  Everything from shorts and flip flops to quilted jackets with fur trimmed hoods and riding boots went strutting past us.  There were floppy hats, plaid button downs, denim cut-offs and sundresses.  Judging from yesterday's images, one couldn't tell if it was August or November.  My version, based on the morning's cool conditions and the chilliness factor after the sun sets, had me layering in a three quarter sleeve cotton tee, skinny cropped pants and my trusty trench.  I must say, I was neither too hot nor too cold and my reliable Reva flats by Tory Burch are ideal for navigating through the relentless streets of Manhattan.  I do have my eye on this vest and these boots but I'll wait for the temperature to take a dramatic dip before I'm ready to make a full commitment.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Southern Charm

Palmetto Dunes Plantation

We live a mere ten minutes from the ocean and we definitely take advantage of this amenity year round.  During the spring and summer months, we enjoy driving down there after dinner to stroll the boardwalk and take in the spectacular sunsets while during the fall and winter, we bundle up in our parkas, gloves, and hats and take brisk walks, breathe in the fresh sea air and try to spot snowy owls and harbor seals.  It truly has become our special spot or as my daughter says, "our home away from home."  For this reason alone, I love living on Long Island.  Having said that, however, when it comes time to taking a vacation, I like to feel like I'm really getting away.  I want to go somewhere where everything is different from the vegetation to the architecture to the food to the climate to the people.  A few years ago, we decided to try out Hilton Head Island in South Carolina for spring break.  Since then, we have returned four more times.  It is the kind of place where from the moment you cross over the bridge, you are transformed.  The elegant combination of Spanish Moss, Live Oak and palm trees dot the island.  This magical forest leads right up to vast beaches which are characterized by white dunes and swaying sea grass.  You won't see cheesy tee-shirt shops or amusement parks or anyone known as "The Situation."  Everything is low-key, understated and peaceful.  We went down a few weeks ago at the end of August when the crowds thinned out and stayed in a plantation called Palmetto Dunes.  This was by far, my favorite location on the island for its' winding lagoons, countless bike paths and abundance of wild life.  I am already dreaming about our next trip....who needs a white Christmas anyway?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day to Night

Tee: J.Crew/ Jeans: Gap/ Flats: Tory Burch (similar here)/ Scarf: J.Crew/ Bag: Isaac Mizrahi for Target (similar here)/ Sunglasses: similar here

I'm all about keeping things streamlined and simple because I no longer have the time (nor the energy) to over think my look.  So, when it comes to dinner with my husband or drinks with my friends, I typically do not undergo a full outfit change.  Rather, I try to tweak my ensemble by swapping out accessories and adding some layers.  If I have an extra five minutes, I'll apply some lipstick and dab on some perfume but truth be told, most times I'm okay with just my Kiehl's lip balm and my hair piled into a loose bun.  I spent my twenties in front of the mirror fussing over this and that and religiously watching what I ate.  Now, in my thirties, I feel like I've just begun to hit my stride.  I don't stress over the piece of cake I ate (and enjoyed) and I rarely spend more than twenty minutes getting ready anymore.  Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.  If I could write a letter to my twenty-five year old self, I'd tell that young woman to relax, smile more, count her blessings....and ask for seconds!

Blazer: Nordstrom Juniors (similar here)/ Pumps: Coach (similar here)/ Bag: Ferragamo (similar here)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Daily Delights

My 11 year old daughter took this impromptu photo while I was touching up my make-up on the way out the door.  (She is also my personal photographer and takes all the fashion pictures for my blog!)

This past weekend, with the exception of a couple of baseball games, we had nothing scheduled.  I forgot how lovely and relaxing it is to wake up to a leisure breakfast of coffee and pancakes, take a long, hot shower (and actually have time to blow dry my hair), enjoy a late night dinner for two with my husband, and catch up on my favorite reality shows.  I realize every weekend cannot be a replica of this one but it does put things into perspective and forces me to take a step back and appreciate the small things...and quite literally, smell the roses.

These roses were $2.99 at the grocery store.  Five days later and they still look fresh.  

I love my Starbucks latte but I'm trying to save for our next my trusty milk frother has been working overtime these days.   

I love Bobbi Brown's rich chocolate eye palette for fall.  

I cannot eat enough beet and goat cheese lately so of course this crostini is a must have.

My two year old son spotted this butterfly and promptly requested that I take a photo.  

My husband took this photo while we were away a few weeks ago.  It was one of those perfect days.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rocking the Red Carpet

Natalie Portman in Christian Dior.  Sheer Perfection from head to toe. 

This evening, I put the kids to bed early, made a chocolate chip banana bread and some decaf cappuccino, and settled onto my couch to tune into the Emmy's Fashion Police.  Admittedly, I never make it through the live red carpet coverage of these award shows so I always count on Joan and her crew to bring me up to speed on the latest and greatest.  How disappointed was I when their best dressed nominees were Heidi Klum in that Vegas style Versace and Christina Hendricks in a boring, black Christian Soriano gown?  At that point, I decided to take matters into my own hands and scroll through Sunday evening's looks myself.  An hour later, after pouring over gown after gown, I was extremely disheartened.  Nothing jumped out at me....that is, until I spotted Natalie Portman in this exquisite color blocked dress by Christian Dior at the New York City Ballet's fall gala.  It got me thinking....does Natalie ever really get it wrong?  She knows what looks good on her body, she's not afraid to take a risk, and she always carries herself like a lady.  Here's a look back at Natalie's best red carpet moments.  What are some of your favorites?

In vintage Chanel at the 2006 Golden Globes.

In Lanvin at the 2005 Academy Awards.

In Rodarte at the 2009 Academy Awards.

In Azzaro at the 2011 SAG awards.

In Lanvin at the 2012 Golden Globes.

In Dior at the 2013 Academy Awards.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cozy Cashmere

Cashmere Sweater: Aqua for Bloomingdale's (similar here)/ V-neck Tee: Old Navy/ Scarf: Nordstrom Juniors (similar here)/ Pants: Karen Kane/ Flats: Ivanka Trump (similar here)/ Bag: Ferragamo (similar here)/ Sunglasses: Michael Kors (similar here)

There are definitely some things that are worth splurging on (we're talking fashion here, of course).  In my humble opinion, here is a must have list: a well constructed dress coat, a one piece bathing suit that fits like a glove, a pair of jeans that can segue from day to night (no rips or tears please), a leather satchel in a neutral color, a crisp white button down (ideally a fresh one each season), black cigarette pants, a comfortable pair of ballet flats, a lined trench coat (black or beige), a black cocktail dress, black pumps and last but certainly not least, a good cashmere sweater.  Cashmere is elegant, functional and timeless.  It takes you from season to season and from year to year.  I purchased this cardigan a few years back when I was pregnant with my fourth child.  I wanted something easy to slip on over a tank or a tee, something lightweight and not bulky, a piece that I could wear to the park or out to dinner.  I had been eyeing it for weeks before I finally took the plunge and I must say, I never looked back.  Let's just put it this way...if my house were on fire, I'd grab my children and husband and this cashmere sweater exactly in this order.  I take it with me on every trip, throw it over my shoulders whenever I'm chilly (pretty much all the time), and leave it in my coat closet for easy access on my way out the door.  It is so versatile that it accompanied me to the hospital when my son was born and I used it as a wrap for a September wedding last year.  I guess you could say I'm crazy for cashmere.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quick Marinara Sauce

Sometimes, the best meals require the fewest ingredients and this is certainly the case with Giada's marinara sauce.  I'm a bit of a sauce snob, I'll admit.  Growing up, our next door neighbors were from Naples and their mother made the most scrumptious "gravy" I have ever tasted.  I can still remember the smells wafting out of their kitchen on a Sunday afternoon and hoping that I would be invited over for dinner.  Being from Irish descent, I was fascinated by the traditional Sunday meal which consisted of several courses:  anti pasta, pasta with sauce, a meat and vegetable, and salad which followed the main course.  To this day, no other sauce comes close and  I was always too intimidated to attempt it myself.   So, for years I had been buying the eight dollar jars made by Mario Batali, Emeril and Lydia.  That is, until I discovered Giada's  more affordable line of sauces at Target.  They are delicious (my favorite is the vegetable marinara) and great for those nights when you want to keep dinner to two pots and ten minutes.  However, when you want your kitchen to smell warm and inviting and you don't mind chopping up some onions and garlic and firing up the blender, this is a no fuss, straightforward recipe that will become part of your weekly meal rotation.  I usually make extra and freeze it in one or two cup portions.  It's especially tasty on homemade pizza or as a dipping sauce for bread sticks.  Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Keeping it Classic

Top: Kayce Hughes/ Blazer: Aqua for Bloomingdale's/ Jeans: Gap/ Bag: Ferragamo (similar here)/ Flats: Tory Burch/ Aviators: similar here

I love uniforms.  Perhaps it harkens back to my days in Catholic school but to me, uniforms are neat, uncomplicated and classic.  They never go out of style and they look polished and crisp.  Now that we're gradually transitioning to fall, I need to tweak my summer "uniform" of vintage tees and cut-offs to cropped jeans, easy, cotton three quarter sleeve tops and flats.  I like layering for cool mornings with blazers and scarves and shedding these accoutrements toward mid-day.  This look can also segue from day to night by swapping out flats for wedges or pumps and trading in this tote for an envelope clutch.  I am a true believer that less is really more.  Trends may come and go but I will always remain an eternal minimalist.