Editorial Inspiration and Serendipitous Shopping Generates a Look For Less.

Do you find yourself flipping through the pages of fashion magazines lusting after a particular editorial that inspires your inner fashion Macgyver? With so many designs, trends, tastemakers, and shops at the ready it can be overwhelming to choose what you want to spend your hard earned cash on.  You also have to decide what is within your resources and budget. Do you want to pull off a straight up look for less outfit or make a trend your own by getting inventive with what you already have? Maybe you want to settle on a few pieces you’ve been coveting, get spendy and they end up being your go to pieces for the season. I fluctuate between all of these things. Sometimes I go out looking for things and sometimes they have a way of finding me.

Last week, I made the mood board pictured above.  A few days later I strolled into h&m and saw a blast of beautiful muted green much the same color as a top on said board.  After walking over to explore the apparel grouping  I found a single blouse in my size that essentially led me to writing this post. I purchased the blouse and returned home to study the picture. Then it occurred to me, “I have a dress that reminds me of that skirt and with a tomato red bag I could totally recreate the vibe of mood board outfit.”  I had been drawn into the colors and textures but the price tags, not so much. The inspiration blouse was over $600. My h&m blouse cost $35.  I frequently get inspired by imagery and then mimic what I’ve see in a personal way. Sometimes the look I come up with is so close to the original that it really ends up being a ‘Look for Less’, but often it’s the overall feel that I re-imagine and you may or may not make that connection between the inspiration and the result. Below is the outfit that produced a look for less as a result of what I stumbled upon, sought out then combined with what I already owned.* I hope you like it and have fun coming up with your own editorial inspired outfits!

Editorial inspiration courtesy of Vogue magazine.

*Note that this skirt is a sale item from h&m. The dress pictured is MYNE by Ashley Ann that I purchased at Anthropologie a few years ago. You could check ebay or Poshmark.

A second skirt option from ZARA

The second red bag option is stylistically different from the editorial and has a darker blue tone to it but I just liked this bag better so it’s the one I kept.


Thankful for: When things I don’t even know I want appear in my life.

Wanting: To have a good balance of inspiration from current trends while embracing my own personal style.

I’ve learned: I love the creativity of couture designers and respect their work but mostly I can’t afford it so I have to get creative.

 

 

 

 

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City Guide: Columbus, Ohio

IMG_2340I went to visit my sister in Columbus, Ohio over Labor Day weekend. Columbus is the 15th largest city in the United States. Who knew? Well, a lot of people probably do but I didn’t. They have a crazy popular College football team at Ohio State but I won’t pretend to know anything about the team, their schedule, popularity or rank.  I will however share with you some delightful discoveries in Ohio’s capital city. Keep in mind there were no small children in tow.

DAY 1:

I arrived Friday afternoon and we headed straight to lunch at Northstar cafe. It’s cafeteria style so nice and casual and the atmosphere is inviting and attractive. I had the Northstar veggie burger no bun, hold the cheese with side salad. A very good side salad tossed with a particularly delicious vinaigrette. The burger itself is made with organic brown rice, black beans and beets, topped with white cheddar, kale, tomato, pickle and onion. I was hoping for a good veggie burger but it totally exceeded my expectations. It was super fresh, flavorful and unique.  It’s their signature item which apparently many people have tried to re-create. I found a recipe on The Kitchn blog which I’m going to attempt. All in all Northstar is a tasty, easy, affordable lunch spot. Done.

After lunch we did a little shopping around Easton, a fancy built-from-the-ground-up outdoor shopping district with all the chain stores you can imagine from Claire’s boutique to Nordstrom and most recently Wholefoods. Since I’m spoiled with no sales tax in Minnesota and I’m trying to shop at small boutiques vs. chain stores I didn’t buy anything.

IMG_2258Friday evening we dined at a relatively new restaurant in Worthington called The Whitney House.  It was fabulous from start to finish.   The atmosphere, decor and service were impressive and the food? Outstanding.  The Skewered lamb appetizer was succulent and flavorful. We shared it though I could have eaten the whole thing myself. I ordered the Bells Farm trout with purple potato hash, bacon, wilted greens, Tabasco butter sauce. Yes, it was as tasty as it sounds. I was skittish when they brought the dessert menus because I haven’t eaten cane sugar in months and was fearful of derailing the hard work I have done to stay fit over the past several months. I opted for the fresh berries with vanilla infused Ohio honey and lemon Mascarpone crème. We also ordered the Peanut butter pie to share and let me tell you, I was derailed. I have no regrets but as soon as I tasted that sugary goodness I knew there was going to be more trouble as the weekend progressed. The thought of those desserts is currently making my mouth water if that’s any indication of how scrumptious they were. We opted to head home for an early and relaxing night post dinner. The gregarious Maitre’d who had taken such good care of us from our arrival throughout the meal was rendered speechless after he excitedly asked “so, what’s next for this Friday night?” and we replied “bed” half jokingly.  If there are dance clubs and after hours bars in Columbus I am not the person who knows about them but if you want to know more about Farmers markets, restaurants and coffee shops read on!


Day 2

IMG_2247 After an early Saturday morning spin class, my first ever, we headed back to Worthington to check out the farmers market. It was extensive and bustling. I got honey sticks for my girls and lavender infused honey for moi from Honeyrun Farm. I saw purple potatoes that I had tasted for the first time at Whitney House and discovered the existence of fairy tale eggplants.

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IMG_2245They was a bread man selling loaves, bagels, scones and much more. With all the free samples he was offering his table was packed. Since he seemed to be doing so well I broke my no gluten rule and tried a bagel sample. It was worth it. He boils before baking, New York Style, to achieve the crispy outside and soft chewy outside. It’s a texture and taste that is hard to perfect but he managed to make some crispy, chewy, delicious bagels. We also passed by the Doll museum but did not go in because, well, it’s a doll museum. The poster alone was enough to creep me out.

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IMG_2272We headed back to the house for some downtime but it wasn’t long before we were ready to grab some coffee so off we went to Fox in The Snow. If you’re wondering where all the hipsters in Columbus hang out, it’s at this place.  It is a really cool spot. The interior is simple, clean and modern but more importantly the coffee was perfect. I could imagine hanging here with my laptop or a good book for hours if I was that person. All food is prepared in-house but since we had just eaten lunch at the house we didn’t indulge (unless you count the banana chocolate muffin we split. What?) I was instructed to order their egg sandwich so I’ll be sure to save my appetite next time around.

IMG_2275 IMG_2273Driving home we passed by a cool looking brewery called Seventh Son where a food truck had set up shop in the parking lot. If we hadn’t just had coffee and didn’t have dinner reservations a few hours later we might have stopped for a beer and a bite but really there is only so much enjoyable eating that can be done in one day.  They have a rotating food truck schedule. How cool is that?

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IMG_2312We read, chatted and hung out before we heading to the Short North Arts District for the monthly Gallery Hop that happens on the first Saturday of every month. We had dinner at The Guild House. The food was outstanding not to mention the decor. Forty foot ceilings and a design scheme that blended modern elements with vintage accents to create a cool yet welcoming environment. The mix and match English china side plates provided a unique sense of balance to the rustic wood tables.  IMG_2300 IMG_2301The contrast of Murano glass chandeliers,  over-sized Persian carpets, ivory leather tufted banquettes, large and likely hand-carved wood tables paired with white Eiffel chairs created a vibe of European elegance meets rustic lodge with a nod to mid-century design. I liked the look and the food was delicious and approachable. This is what we ordered and shared.

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  • Oysters tabasco granita, apple cider mignonette, honeycrisp apple (I did not partake)
  • Tomato and watermelon salad feta cheese, basil, golden balsamic vinaigrette (see above)
  • Smoked trout avocado, caper vinaigrette, toast
  • Eye of the ribeye, potato purée, mushrooms, buttered leeks, fois gras paté, sherry reduction
  • Salmon romanesco, raisins, capers, cauliflower caviar cream
  • Pork duroc blade steak, sour apple cabbage, poached apricots, brown butter (my favorite dish)
  • Carrot cake, cream cheese icing, carrot anglaise, candied almonds, raisins (see below)
  • Flourless chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse, vanilla tuilleIMG_2308After dinner we strolled into some galleries and shops. Toy shops, plant shops, gift shops, clothing shops you name it and very few chain stores. In fact, Anthropologie is the only one I can think of.  There was an energy in the streets of people soaking up the last days of summer as they shopped, ate and watched street performers.  The Gallery Hop is likely a different scene in the midst of winter.

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And then it was Sunday.

Day 3

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IMG_2328We woke up and headed to German Village which is a quaint, mostly residential neighborhood with a couple of must visit places. The first is Pistacia Vera where we went for coffee and breakfast. I had the Muesli and Greek yogurt with orange preserves and a coffee. Some macaroons might have been purchased. The space is pretty and the baked goods buttery and plentiful. Stop in before of after a visit to The Book Loft, A book store like no other. That is not their tagline by the way. This is the kind of bookstore you could get lost in for hours. Literally. There are tiny winding rows of books on multiple levels. Little nooks and paths going this way and that. They have a huge assortment of books but aside for the layout what makes it special is the editions they carry. It’s not full of the latest releases with pictures of the movie promo on the cover. Particularly in the children’s section I was excited to find beautifully illustrated editions of well known titles in addition to some rare children’s book and re-issues of series like Nancy Drew in hardcover.

IMG_2330After The book loft we strolled around German village admiring the beautiful brick houses and the Fortress which was at one time the neighborhood school. It has been converted in to a home by some baron or business man of some sort who has tastefully preserved the original structure while adding what appears to be a beautifully landscaped “yard”. Apparently the foundation was dug up (don’t ask me how) to build an underground garage so all his hedge fund, celebrity and royal guests have a place to park because apparently parking in the neighborhood is a…rhymes with witch.

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IMG_2337 IMG_2335 IMG_2333After two nights of dining out we decided to order from Natalie’s coal fired pizza and pick up some Jeni’s ice cream. Jeni is a hometown hero of sorts and her ice cream is pretty darn good. There are multiple locations throughout Columbus. If you’re in town go ahead and treat yourself. I rarely eat dairy anymore but unique and delicious specialty ice cream is where I take liberty. Hmm, I should do a post on specialty ice cream.

IMG_2360Anyway, Natalie’s pizza was great but I also recommend Harvest Pizza which is where we ordered from last time I visited. Both are delicious. For dine in I prefer the vibe at Harvest. They have two locations but the one in German village has a great little attached bar called Curio.  The bar is set up like an apothecary. They make fantastic cocktails, the decor is super cool and they are quite possibly the only bar in town with out televisions broadcasting Ohio State games. I don’t know about you but I prefer to drink and dine without the distraction of TV.


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Day 4

Departure day. Before heading to the airport we had brunch at Katalina’s Cafe. A tiny, order at the counter place serving lots of local goodness with a line out the door. They have a festive patio to accommodate the crowds in warmer months. We had breakfast tacos and tried the pancake balls which are their claim to fame. They are salty delicious pancake dough balls filled with Nutella.  Did I mention being derailed from my usual diet on this trip? Well the pancake balls were the last hurrah. This is a great spot. Check it out.

So that’s it!  It was a fun sister weekend and I hope to have many more all over the country maybe even the world to share my finds.  Happy travels!


Thankful for: The ability to travel.

Wanting: A trip to Europe. It’s been almost ten years since my last trip. I am just yearning to go back but not quite ready to make the trip with the kids.

I’ve learned: Good things come to those who wait. Or is it now or never?  I’ve learned that mantras depends on the day and circumstances.

 

Fall Edit: Part 1

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Stella McCartney collection Fall /Winter 2015

My favorite part about fall approaching is the shifting weather. It signals change, new beginnings and an opportunity to wear boots!  As I study the September Issues, peruse fashion blogs and visit shops I’m getting an idea of the pieces that I want to wear this fall. I just purged my wardrobe, selling and donating many items that have been in my closet/life for way too long. It was extremely liberating so I don’t want to turn around and replace those things with more clutter.  I’m going to be more thoughtful about what I bring into my home, clothing and otherwise. I don’t want to end up with more pieces of clothing than there are days to wear them. It is tempting to give into spontaneous purchases when a sale is running or “it’s the only one!” but by planning ahead this year I am going to decide from a distance exactly what silhouettes or pieces I want, decide on my budget and then take a purposeful approach to finding them. There are few things more dangerous that shopping for sport. Going to the mall with no intent just leads to buyers remorse and time wasted on returns. Believe me…I know.

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Stella McCartney in a coat of her won design.

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ZARA

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Long leather gloves and lots of glam.

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Retro glam with a modern twist Miuccia style.

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Marc Jacobs. I LOVE these!!!!

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Prada

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Runway looks. Long, lean 70’s inspired prints and colors.

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Zara jeweled hair comb. This is the perfect way to add some lady-like glamour.

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The key pieces, listed below, are on my radar. Keep in mind I want things with some longevity or good resale value. I also want things that can easily work into or compliment my existing wardrobe. What’s on your list?

  • A Faux fur statement piece.
  • Cropped and/or flared high-waisted jeans.
  • A blush, pink or mauve sweater or jacket
  • Block heel Mary Jane shoe.
  • Long leather gloves
  • A printed chiffon maxi dress.
  • A jeweled accessory

Stay tuned for Fall Edit: Part Deux

Wanting: See above

Thankful for: Fall fashion. It’s my favorite season for dressing.

I’ve learned: A few key pieces are better appreciated than a ton of disposable trendy things.

Sweating in Style. Fitness Clothes That Move Me.

e7e549a7699dad452e0ac2c8770ee77cWorkout clothes have come along way in the past several years. There is an entire market dedicated to fitness and lifestyle clothing that celebrates fashion and function for your time sweating and stretching at the gym, studio or wherever you choose to feel the burn.

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Lululemon

I purchase all of my athletic gear on sale. The majority comes from Gapfit since they have frequent sales and I am a card member so I can use reward points and special discount promos. I typically spend $10-40 per item. Nordstrom Rack carries exclusive brands like Zella, Alo and Stella McCartney for Adidas.  Athleta, Lucy, and Lululemon are also places to check out during sales season.  Free People recently launched a line of  “movement” wear which is a little on the pricey side and newly launched so I’m not sure what the sale situation is. Many of the ballet dancer inspired pictures below are from their line. Finally, Old Navy is ideal if you’re on a tight budget.

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Altheta

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Gapfit

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Free People Movement

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Lucy

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Free People Movement

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Athleta

I like to put outfits together and feel my best regardless of where I’m going. Whether it’s Target, school drop off, a meeting, or to the gym. Generally, feeling good makes one more productive so why not take a few extra minutes to put some flattering pieces together and coordinate workout clothes?  If you’re just starting an exercise regime or just want to stop wearing ripped concert t-shirts from the 80’s and sweatpants to workout in you should find these resources useful. Scour sale sections and start with the basics. Once you’ve got the following pieces in regular rotation you can add what feels good and comfortable. I wear mostly black, grey and pink but some ladies like bright colors and patterns. Whatever floats your boat. Here are some guidelines.

  • Black yoga pants
  • Black medium support sports bra
  • Fitted capri pant or legging in a pattern or color
  • Loose fitting racer back tank
  • Fitted tank with interesting detail or straps
  • Running short
  • Long sleeve pullover with interesting detail or neckline
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Gapfit

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Free People Movement

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Free People Movement

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Free People Movement

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Gapfit

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Old Navy

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Dancewear Solutions

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Lululemon

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Gapfit

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Gapfit

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Free People Movement

Thankful for: Stylish active wear that inspires a good workout.

I’ve learned: When I feel good I work harder.

Wanting: To find a good ballet barre class.

 

New York City Family Guide: Midtown East and West

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Midtown is a bustling part of town with lots of shops, offices, landmarks and tourist attractions.  The boundaries are 34th street to 59th Street from the East River to 5th Avenue on the East side and Central Park West to the Hudson River on the West.  It’s not the part of town where I take pleasant and contemplative strolls. It is busy. Especially during the work day when people are walking with fury and purpose to lunch dates, meetings, appointments or to hop on hop off tourist bus loading stops. The Empire State Building, Macy’s Herald Square, The United Nations, Bryant Park, and Grand Central Station plus countless shops and restaurants all rest in Midtown. There are many great places to visit with the kids but it is not, as I said, an area to quietly and freely explore like you would want to in West Village for example. A neighborhood where you can wander up, down, through and around cobble stone streets discovering somewhere new every time you go. Oh, I love the west village.

But, back to midtown. There are places you should know about. Let’s start on the East side.

One of my favorite combo activities as of this trip is riding the Roosevelt Island Tram and getting frogurt at Bloomingdales.  I have not ridden the tram in years, like since I was a kid.  I had a fear of heights and panic attack issues in my twenties so the tram was not my go-to hang out.  Now that I can experience joy and excitement though my childrens’ eyes it’s much easier to dangle in a box 250ft over the East river.   The newly built Four Freedoms park at the tip of the island has become a venue for out-door yoga classes, social gatherings and major events like Hilary Clinton’s Rally this past June. In contrast to the new park grounds the ruins, yes ruins, of Renwick hospital, a building dedicated to treating smallpox patients in the mid 1800’s rest here and were declared a NYC landmark in 1975. Read more about the history here.

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Depending on how much time you have,  you could either ride the tram, disembark then pay the return fare and immediately head back to Manhattan or you could pack a snack, check out the cute souvenir shop, and take a stroll along the promenade to the edge of the island before returning to Manhattan. You’ll get unique views of the city and it’s quiet and calm.  A good place for a pleasant, contemplative stroll me thinks. The park and ruins are worth a visit if you have the time. Did I mention that you can do this with two swipes of your Metrocard? That’s right. Since the tram is part of the city transit system you can use your Metrocard. Awesome. Anything that is cool and cheap makes my list.

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Frogurt!

When you get off the tram on the Manhattan side you are 2 blocks from Bloomingdales. Forty Carrots, the 7th floor cafe that serves their exclusive frozen yogurt aptly called Frogurt is Da bomb as the kids say. People either love (like me) or hate (like my husband) this stuff. Turns out the kids like it so we indulge. Majority rules!  We get the plain flavor which is so perfectly tart and unlike any other frozen yogurt I’ve had.  Actually, I don’t eat frozen yogurt other than frogurt but I assert because of its cult following that it’s special. We are able to get in and out of Bloomingdales quickly because I don’t even attempt to shop in a department store when with the family.  You may not be as lucky if it’s during sale season.

If you’re so inclined on the way out, Magnolia Bakery, made famous from the HBO series Sex and The City, opened an outpost on the ground floor of Bloomies that is always packed.  Personally, I don’t get the hype. The cupcakes are fine but I just don’t get what the fuss is about. To me it’s a tourist trap.  If you want really great cupcakes head to the Cupcake Cafe in Hell’s Kitchen. but more about that later.

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Views from the promenade at Roosevelt Island.

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Renwick Hospital ruins.

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Dedication wall at Four Freedoms Park.

Let’s move south and west to Grand Central Station.  Grand Central is one of my favorite buildings in the city. It is simply put, gorgeous. I used to take a Metro North train from the city up to White Plains when I was working there after college.  The 125th street stop was closer to my apartment but the experience of taking the train from Grand Central was not lost on me.  So I took the longer way. I’m still fascinated by how people rush through everyday to get to work or to catch their train home and wonder if they have ever stopped to just look up.  When you are a New Yorker you don’t give as much thought to the things and places that attract people from all over the world. Grand Central is my exception. The light fixtures, the floors, the constellation on the ceiling, the shops, the people, the trains, the energy. It is a place to behold. In recent years they have tried to made it more of a destination outside of its practical purpose as a transportation hub by adding an extensive “food court” downstairs for neighborhood workers, an amazing market where the most discerning cooks shop for provisions and some cool and unique retail shops.  Kidding Around is a great toy shop and Cursive is my favorite for unique gifts. There is also an Apple store rather discreetly tucked into the upper mezzanine on the east side if you need to stop in for the lastest tech gadget.The NYC transit store is the perfect spot for souvenirs and around the holidays they set up their amazing model train set which all kids love to watch. Seeing the actual trains chug in and out of the station is pretty mesmerizing for the children as well. The conductors and ticket collectors on the platform are happy to take pictures with enthusiastic kids despite their often surly looking faces. In fact in our experience it makes them light up with pride and purpose. Don’t forget to check out the whispering wall outside of the Oyster bar. Talk into one corner and your kids can hear your whisper in the opposite corner.

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My favorite light fixtures at Grand Central and the whispering wall.

The New York City Public Library Flagship branch is an exemplary Beaux Arts style building adjacent to Bryant Park. The Library is the perfect place to take shelter from the elements no matter the time of year.  There is a great children’s area to explore, story time and events year round. Bryant Park is pretty amazing too. The website is comprehensive, up to date and has a detailed schedule of activities and events throughout the year. It’s the perfect destination to combine with a trip to the library. There is a carousel, arts and crafts and drawing classes for children 9 and up through Art Cart, putting greens, and an ice skating rink during the winter months. They also show movies in the park. I’ll leave you to determine age and time appropriateness. It can get hot and crowded in the Summer when everybody wants to dine al fresco. Pack a lunch or grab something at Shack Shack and head to a quieter park on 43rd Street between 8th-9th Avenues. There is a playground, picnic tables and a sprinkler so the kidlets can eat and burn off some steam. While we’re on the subject of sprinklers I usually carry kids swimsuits a hand towel and change of clothes. You never know when you’re going to happen upon a park with a sprinkler and when it’s 90 degrees and humid it’s hard for the kids to pass up.

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Bryant Park behind the NY Public Library.

Between 34th-59th streets on Fifth Ave you will encounter a plethora of stores. From tourist trinket and souvenirs shops to the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue and everything in between. Seriously. H&M, Zara, Abercrombie and Fitch, Prada, Bendels, Gucci, Sephora,The NBA store, Uniqlo, and many other retailers have flagship locations along this stretch. Across from Saks is Rockerfeller Center. I have never taken a tour here or gone to the Top Of The Rock but you can if you want to.  The ice skating rink is actually pretty cool to visit in the winter months and I’m a sucker for going to see the tree once it’s set up during the holidays.  Oh, and Lego has an insane store there which most kids go nuts over.

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Last day at the Bjork Retrospective at MOMA. She may be gone but Starry Night and Water Lilies aren’t going anywhere.

You’ll be happy to know that The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is just a hop skip and jump from many of the aforementioned shops. I don’t know about you but taking my kids to museums in about 1000 times easier and more enjoyable than dragging them into stores. If you’re able, tag team with another adult in your group. Take the kids to MOMA and see some incredible world renown art, wander the sculpture garden, check out the gift shop for souvenirs then split up and take turns shopping while the other take the kids for a snack or to the amazing play space for children at the museum. I encourage you to check out the family resources on their website (see link below). There are so many activities and opportunities for children of all ages to explore. A Play area, workshops, tours geared towards children, films and more.

In a nutshell. These are my picks.

Thankful for: Libraries and Museums for the countless hours of enjoyment they can provide.

Wanting: Time to freely explore more dining options in this area.

I’ve learned: No matter what you already know and love there is always more to know and love.

 

 

 

Pretty Foods Follow Up: Raw Blondies and Other Foods I Never Thought I Would Eat. #yum

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Raw blondie ingredients and My New Roots cookbook.

I made raw blondies yesterday. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore. Do you remember the Well Bread Loaf Blondies and Brownies? You could buy them at Delis, Bodegas and places like E.A.T.  throughout NYC in the 80’s and 90’s.  I don’t even know if they sold them outside of New York since they were a local brand. The point is, I loved them.  They paired particularly well with Cool Ranch Doritos around my menstrual cycle but that is way more info than you want to know. Forgive me. Though my palate has matured since then I still crave the feelings those snacks from my youth gave me minus the salt, sugar and unhealthy side effects. I want to bite into something and think yum, this taste so good and it is not actively bad for my health.

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You may remember a while back I wrote a post about Eating Pretty, a term coined by the book I was reading at the time titled Eat Pretty. In a healthy, raw nutshell I was writing about my genius discovery that eating well makes you feel “pretty” from the inside out. I was learning about the health and beauty benefits of specific foods and the ill effects of many others. Well, my journey continues. Since starting my “pretty foods” diet which is essentially a diet free of gluten, dairy, alcohol, refined sugar and what was the last thing? Oh, right Caffeine but scratch that one since I haven’t give it up. Sorry my my relationship with coffee runs deep. Anywho, I’ve shed 18 pound in the last six months, which is still hard for me to believe, and I just feel much better, inside and out. You are what you eat people! Now I know. Besides radically changing the way I eat I have continued to exercise 3-4 times a week alternating weight training, cardio and some, but actually very little yoga. I feel energized, toned and simply put, good.

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Picture courtesy of A Beautiful Mess.

I don’t consider my changed eating habits as a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. As soon as I started losing weight, feeling more energized and my skin improved I was hooked. Every meal was like a reward.  Whether prompted by health, beauty or weight issues I’m here to tell you that you can do this 85-90% of the time. That’s what I do. I love food too much to vow off anything entirely and forever. I am just much more thoughtful about what I eat and when. If I am on vacation or dining out I choose what sounds appealing even if it contains gluten or dairy. I also enjoy a glass of wine now and again (organic, of course) and it’s OK. Nothing should be forbidden. That’s a fast track to failure. Again, it goes back to making informed choices.  When I first started making changes in my diet I thought, ” This is going to be so hard. Why does being healthy and losing weight have to be such torture?!”  Guess what. It doesn’t have to be. In fact it can be beautiful! My plates look so much more colorful and appealing that I actually started texting pictures of my lunches to my sister. Here are some of those pictures and meal suggestions. If you are trying to make improvements in your diet I would encourage you to check out these two books, The Beauty Detox Foods and Eat Pretty. Try some of the recipes and lunch ideas listed below. Many can be made ahead of time and packed easily for work or a picnic. Don’t view it as a challenge where you must deprive yourself of all of the foods that you love. Use it as an experiment to discover some new foods and get excited about it. You will fall into what feels good, natural and practical for you. I am not a doctor, lawyer, nutritionist or anything like that so if this post inspires you talk to one of those people (except the lawyer) to get advice before making radical changes. Maybe I should be a lawyer since I love disclaimers so much! Enjoy the beauty.

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The Glowing Green Smoothie is a game changer. Recipe in The Beauty Detox Foods . I drink one EVERY morning after a cup of hot water with fresh lemon.

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Raw brussels sprouts salad: millet chia toast with fresh avocado and sprouted hemp seeds: roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes: organic blackberries and blueberries.

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Millet chia toast with avocado and broccoli sprouts: organic egg: wilted spinach with mushrooms sprinkled with Maldon sea salt flakes.

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Millet chia toast with slice of turkey and fresh pepper: Farro with carrots & parsnips, spinach with fermented cabbage, ramps and nettles.

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Spinach with roasted beets and fermented cabbage, broccoli sprouts, roasted cauliflower and garlic.

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Roasted beets and butternut squash,wellness blend greens with organic chickpeas, homemade coleslaw made with veganaise.

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Millet chia toast with smushed super ripe banana, over almond butter sprinkled with cinnamon. SO good.

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Italian Tuna in Olive oil mixed with red pepper, chickpeas, boiled egg and olives wrapped up in romaine leaves.

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Arugula and raw brussels sprouts salad, roasted cauliflower with capers and carrots, boiled egg avocado and gluten free chips.

What about the kids you ask?  Well, I’m still working on this. I am the mom who routinely prepares different meals for different people. Right or wrong it’s reality. My husband encourages my efforts and has been very supportive but that man still wants his meat, gluten, sugar and alcohol.  I’m also not going radically change my children’s diet and not let them eat things that kids like to eat.  We make good choices most of the time but they can make independent choices about the way they eat when they are older. I provide them with as many different kinds of foods as I can whether I eat them or not. So there.

Now, about those recipes…

I don’t want to reprint without permission so check out:

  1. Beauty Detox Foods for raw brussels sprouts salad recipe and glowing green smoothie.
  2. It’s All Good for roasted cauliflower with chickpeas and avocado toast.
  3. Smitten Kitchen for zucchini ribbons with almond pesto salad (not pictured), farro with parsnips and carrots (minus the feta).
  4. My New Roots for raw blondies

Thankful for: Discovering the joy of eating in a whole new way.

I’ve learned: It’s not only possible, it’s a joy to do things that have a direct positive impact on your body and your mind.

Wanting: New sneakers!  I’ve actually worn my old ones down.

 

How to Maintain Individuality When Fashion Trends Saturate The Market.

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Backstage at Chloe 2015.


The fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar business that celebrates art, creativity and self-expression while providing millions of jobs around the world. However not all fashion is accessible to all people. Runway shows are not where the majority of us order our seasonal wardrobes from. Analysis by taste makers, fashion editors and now even top-tier fashion bloggers dictates what retailers will design for or sell to the masses. It is business and trends are no a coincidence.

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On the runway at Celine

Case study: High fashion interpretations of Birkenstocks-like sandals were all over the runways two years ago as seen above at Celine. The classic, comfort, anti-fashion symbol was emerging as a new trend. In fact the trend coined the descriptive fashion term “pretty-ugly”. How could something so disdained by the fashion elite become what every trend conscious lady wanted to wear? (Guilty as charged. You can read more about my relationship with Birkenstocks here.)

When a designer item becomes popularized you will find a version of said trend at the retailer of your choice. It’s not quite the same as seeking out a counterfeit Chanel bag down a dark alley in Chinatown but begs the question, should designers be flattered when their ideas are copied and mass manufactured?  It a quandary.  The fashion insiders who popularize trends have a unique sense of power. Their reputations and personal motivations will determine what the majority of people will want to wear and what stores will carry.  It’s like a secret society that’s not so secret. They have it. People want it.

I consider myself neither a fashion insider nor a fashion victim. I do, however often find myself on the cusp of predicting what’s going to be a trend before it catches on. It’s not always a fun or inexpensive place to be. I may emulate a particularly stylish woman, or hone in on an item from a runway collection that I dream about. The issue is, before a trend item has been entrenched it can be quite difficult to find at a reasonable price.

Case study: The gladiator sandal. I have been coveting a pair of tall, lace-up gladiator sandals since I saw the Chloe Spring/Summer runway show in September of 2014. Truth be told, I wanted the entire collection. But those sandals, I wanted them something bad. Remember my look for less post a few months ago? That’s when the trend started picking up speed and you could find some decent looking tall gladiators that didn’t cost $1200 like the Chloe ones.  Now, here we are at the start of summer and lace up gladiators are EVERYWHERE. Banana Republic, Aldo, Macy’s, H&M, Old Navy for heaven’s sake! Pretty much any women’s retailer that carries shoes has a variant. I find that the excitement has been replaced with displeasure that what I wanted is now what everyone and their mother will likely be wearing around town. The appeal has diminished significantly. The feeling of having something special and unique does not last long in the fashion arena. Shopping vintage may be the final frontier for unique pieces. Ironically, vintage pieces are often what inspire designers to create in the first place. Fashion is cyclical after all.

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Chloe

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River Island gladiators from ASOS.

Despite my issues with fashion and apparel industries I really do have a passion for fashion. Super corny because it rhymes but It’s true. I’ve collected fashion magazines since I was in sixth grade and as a young girl I remember thinking that Ines De La Fressange was the epitome of chic. She was my fashion icon. Her style was something I admired. I was enamored by her confidence and flair. I knew owning a Chanel suit before graduating high school was unlikely but still, I took inspiration from her countless editorials and advertisements for Chanel.

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Ines for Chanel in the 80’s.

Nowadays, I fear that young girls see a celebrity wearing a designer garment and they want to dress exactly like her to gain confidence or to prove something. Individuality seem to be fading away. It’s entirely possible, in fact likely, that a $12,000 dress worn on the red carpet or in a magazine editorial by an influential celebrity will be replicated and for sale at Forever21 for $29.95 in a matter of weeks.  Fashion then becomes copying rather that taking inspiration. It reduces an art form to commerce and that disappoints me.

I do not stand in judgement. I wish when I was younger fashion trends were more accessible. However it’s that very attainability that takes away from the creativity and self-expression that comes with dressing oneself. What to do? I recommend a balance when it comes to shopping. Invest in a few quality pieces that are well made and enjoy some trendy goods sprinkled in from season to season. Bring out some oldie but goodies from your past and modernize the styling. Wear what you like and what you can afford and most importantly what makes you feel good. Mix individual elements of interest and combine the unexpected. Both are at the core of self expression.

Chances are, if you are at all interested in fashion you’ll come across an abundance of in-vogue pieces when you shop. Trendy feels safe. Bold and unique choices make you stand out from the crowd.  Remember to always let your personality and individuality shine through. No one wants to bump into a friend wearing an identical outfit!  Quelle horreur!

Is there anything on your fashion must have list? Do you love trends or do you find the world of fashion entirely tiresome? Does wearing trends make one a “fashion victim”. So much to discuss. Tell me, what do you think of all this?


Thankful for: Design Inspiration. Watching creatives create!

Wanting: To put together outfits this season by mixing my trendy buys with some old reliables, many of which date back to high school. Eeeek!

I’ve leaned: The novelty wears off. I know that just as Gladiator sandals have replaced Birkenstocks as the “must have” footwear this summer a new trend is on the verge for next summer. Hmmm, what will it be? White sneakers, mules? metallic lace up platforms? All real possibilities.

Fiona Finds: Stories Behind The Brands.

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When I first opened Fiona Finds, the shop, I intentionally selected a small assortment of brands because of the stories behind them. I was testing the waters of online shopping with regard to specialty childrenswear and wanted to do so with brands and people that I believed in and hoped to support.  The merchandise currently in store is cute, cool, functional and well constructed but… those traits alone aren’t enough in any market. The amount of choice we have when it comes to shopping is utterly overwhelming. There are many different kinds of shoppers out there who have specific priorities and availability of funds. My goal in starting the store was to seek out great brands with quality products and good intentions. As seasons pass, new designers and makers will continue to emerge. For now here is some information about the brands and products currently available.  Enjoy reading about them and do take a moment to look at their beautiful creations. While you’re at it enjoy 50% off site wide with code TAKE50.

MOTORETA

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Motoreta is a young brand of kids wear from the south of Spain, Seville, a magic place with unique identity and tradition. This new project is lead by Cristina Lopez-Lago and Maria Llerena, both architect partners for years and closely linked to the world of art and design. Two years ago we embarked on this creative project following the design concepts that we were developing in our office for years but, this time, applied on evocative world of childhood. That is the background of all our collections  and the pillars of Motoreta’s designs,  simple but sophisticated, with plain colors and clean shapes.

The Motoreta’s concept is the result of a free creative process, inspired by the place were we live, our own kids, architecture and art, without neglecting its commitment to the new design and production processes. A small-scale brand that bets for clothes locally and sustainably produced, choosing quality raw materials and enhancing the small industry. This local production is supported by a global distribution  so we are developing a carefully but strong international presence. An example of how a local manufacturing can go together with a global thinking, design and best quality. Garments and accessories for kids, very comfortable, with contemporary cutting, high quality and 100% made ​​in Andalusia.”

MUNSTERKIDS

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Munsterkids is a collection of kids apparel that is driven by music, art and street culture.

Created by Rich and Samantha Brown in 2005. The Sydney based label now exports to over 20 countries around the world.

The label takes inspiration from the urban legend of Mikey Munster, the sharp toothed trouble maker that resides in every kid. Having 3 boys of their own, Jax, Zai and Kash the Mikey character is seen every day and the boys constantly provide inspiration for the line. The collection includes, denim, outerwear, woven shirts and shorts, board shorts, tees, fleece and accessories with a strong focus on graphics.

Since 2009 the line has expanded into girls with the launch of Missie Munster. Missie blends some street style silhouettes with beautiful illustrations providing a nice alternative for the more street savvy little girl. For the younger Munsters, there is also the little brother and sister of Munster – Mini Munster and Lil Missie.

The range goes from 0-24mths and brings some street smart looks to the babies and toddlers out there.”

DAGMAR DALEY

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“Inspired by the pure and natural beauty of children and the imagery of childhood in simpler times, Dagmar Daley set out to create stylish, simply detailed clothing. Timeless designs (both nostalgic and modern), quality fabrics, and fine detailing are inherent in her collection. The line has been produced in San Francisco since the beginning, we have been committed to local production since before it was fashionable. We are lucky to work with some of the best, most hardworking local family factories in the Bay Area.  This close collaboration guarantees quality, but more importantly it gives us understanding and compassion for the few remaining factories struggling to provide local manufacturing services. Local does matter. Only our hand loomed alpaca sweaters are produced abroad.

Dagmar Daley worked in architecture and design prior to starting her children’s line in the fall of 2003. She works in a converted cottage in the mission district of San Francisco, a short walk from many of her production sources.”


So there you have it. Mind you these are just three of the brands we carry. Also available are unique and lovely pieces from Bacabuche, Zuzii and Jess Brown! Click any pictures to enter store.

Thankful for: A platform to share great designers, makers and their stories.

Wanting: To discover and share more brands and stories with y’all.

I’ve learned: It’s hard to put a price on things. What something is worth and how it is measured varies greatly from person to person.

 

 

Extreme Play-Home Makeover.

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Simple Scandinavian. So clean and modern, and not ours.

We bought a play house for the backyard off of Craigslist two summers ago.  It has been a source of great entertainment for the girls and their friends during the summer months but I have never found it particularly attractive, cute as it is. Then, last week, when we had a taste of summer sun and warm weather a little light bulb went off in my head.  I started Google image searching (one of my favorite past times) for ‘painted outdoor playhouse’ and discovered the handiwork of many like-minded parents and designers who had stepped up their playhouse game. Seeing these beauties made me want to start from scratch and build or buy a wood cottage.  What we already have happens to be plastic. Boo hiss. The project is to improve upon what we already have not to spend money on newer and “better”. Working with what you’ve got is often more rewarding than getting something new. Did I really just say that?  Besides, I need to save some money for the rest of the backyard which needs some landscaping love. For now I’m off to the hardware store for some paint samples so I can extreme home makeover our little shanty. Take a gander at these lovely mini homes and stay tuned for the reveal.


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I like the black roof and the white detailing.

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Someone takes play cottage building to the nest level for reals.

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I love the black, of course, and the bi-level tree house effect. Don’t they just look so happy!

This reminds me of Hansel and Gretel.

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I like the built out porch and the hanging basket.

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Similar in color to our existing play house and very cozy.

And last…and least is the our storybook play cottage before the redo…

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Thankful for: A backyard! It’s nice to have a space to landscape, set up play houses and fairy gardens and just hang out.

I’ve learned: There are lots of people out there with great experience to inspire and aid in DIY project development. Yes, I mean other parents who have fabricated things for their children.

Wanting: The playhouse to be done my next weekend. Eeek!!

Eating Pretty.

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I stumbled across the book, Eat Pretty the other day whilst in line with a basket full of crafting good at Joann’s. They’ve strategically planted all of their books and magazines (and candy and $1 items) where the line forms so you just can’t help but look. Despite there being about 200 titles to choose from, my eye shot straight to this one. I don’t judge a book by its cover but I’ll be darned if I don’t buy it 9 times out of 10. I am a visual person with a radar for “pretty” things and if there is pink involved, forget it. I flipped through a few pages of this pretty little book and then, as if by magic, it ended up in my bag. Yes, I did pay for it.

I’m currently in a eat-super-healthy-and-work-out-5-days-a-week cycle. It feels good to eat well and to exercise. I know this. We all know this. But, even with my best intentions I know myself. I’m afraid that at some point I will digress back to a cookie after lunch, not motivated to go to the gym phase that leaves me feeling less than my best. The discovery of this little book subtitled, Nutrition and Beauty, Inside and Out, is well-timed. I have made enough headway that I am fitting comfortably into my “slim” clothing. Not so coincidentally my skin looks better and I feel overall more positive and energized. As I read further into the book it confirms the adage that “you are what you eat” and I don’t want to be a cheeseburger.

Though lacking in some areas I like this book for several reasons. It is compact, concise and easy to read.  The author, Jolene Hart, commences with “Beauty Betrayers (BB)” a list of food and drink that are non beneficial to one’s health or well-being. While acknowledging that BB’s are things that many people enjoy and consume with some regularity (hello alcohol, caffeine, dairy and sugar to name just a few) she suggests limiting intake of said things. She lists the benefits of doing so as opposed to shaming us whiskey drinking, sticky toffee pudding eating, cheese loving monsters. This book will not be for everyone. My sister read the Beauty Betrayers section when she was visiting and her comment was, “I started reading that book you got and once the author listed every single thing I like to eat or drink as something to not eat I stopped reading.” I get it.  However, the author goes on to provide helpful and encouraging information. She lists, by season, the ideal foods to be eating, why each one is beneficial,  a “beauty building blocks” section and a checklist of vital nutrients and specific foods sources for optimizing your nutritional intake. I don’t interpret this book as radical with the intent of turning us all into vegetarian farmers who grow and eat our own food. It contains thoughtful information to help one make positive changes in their eating habits. Some of the advice may come off as extreme but I will take her advice with a grain of salt (wait, no salt!;)

I have no intention of never drinking coffee again despite caffeine being on her list of beauty betrayers.  I have been a coffee drinker for most of my life and there are studies that support drinking a cup of coffee each day. For each point there will always be an opposing or contradictory view. With anything it’s my responsibility to gather information and make choices for myself. In this case I have decided to brew 2 cups of coffee for myself in the morning as opposed to the usual 6. I can have my coffee while limiting my intake of caffeine. win-win.

Eat Pretty has been a catalyst to do more in-depth research about the direct and long-term benefits of eating well. Part of saying goodbye to the cookie after lunch non-exercising part of me will be changing my long-term eating habits based on information from a variety of sources. The goal is to feel energized, toned, strong, healthy and beautiful on the inside and out long-term not just when I’m in a “good” phase. The Beauty Detox Foods and Skin Cleanse are both on my library wait list. Each title was recommended by people who had reviewed Eat Pretty as alternatives or supplemental reading that promote the idea of feeling and looking ones best from the inside out.


 

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So tell me, have you read any great books that have inspired you to look and feel your best?

Thankful for: The abundance of delicious and healthy foods available to me.

I’ve learned: I really do look and feel better when I eat well.

Wanting: To apply some new-found knowledge so I can look and feel my best for the long haul.