Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Don't Know About You, But I Love A Recipe With Leeks In It. I Always Feel Cool With A Leek In My Shopping Cart. Clearly, I Need To Take A Good Hard Look At What I Consider Cool These Days.

Okay, so maybe I wasn't as Zen as I'd imagined over the weekend.  I've ended up with a canker sore on my throat which (as informed by a doctor years ago) is an unfortunate by-product of quiet stress and tiredness in my world.  Delightful.  They are pretty painful - especially when talking or yawning.  Two things I do all day long frequently.  So I'm in the process of self-medicating.

A glass of wine, of course, has numerous health benefits - one of which is the deadening of throat pain, I've noticed.  Will the wonders of wine never cease?  But my major weapon in battling illness is chicken soup.  I am a true believer in the power of a good chicken broth with veggies and the like floating around in it.  So last night, I don't want to brag or anything, I may have made the best chicken soup ever.

After wading through the Googled results of a chicken soup recipe search, I concluded most of them were way too labor intensive, time consuming, or plain ol' blah-sounding.  So I pieced together the parts I liked, added elements I recalled from fond soup memories, and created my own little concoction.  I wanted savory, tangy and spicy all at once and I think we have a winner here.  This whole pot-full of healing goodness was easily thrown together between a freezing cold soccer game and the lacrosse carpool.  Simple, tasty and curative.  Here is the recipe so you can feel like a doctor next time someone you love isn't feeling dandy.

Amazing Chicken Soup

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large leek - chopped, white and light green parts only
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 - 1 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into smallish pieces
coarse sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
8 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup orzo
1/4 chopped fresh dill
juice of 1 - 2 lemons

Saute the leek, celery and carrots in the olive oil until they start getting soft.  Season them with salt and pepper while sauteing.  Add the chicken and season with the salt and pepper again.  Saute until the chicken is mostly cooked through.  Pour in all the chicken broth and simmer until the chicken is totally cooked.  Add the orzo and cook until the pasta is finished.  Add the dill and lemon juice.  Simmer for a while - at least as long as it takes to fold a load of laundry.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Serve it up and feel better.

* I may have overdone the salt a bit.  I like to season things as I add them to the pot rather than only at the end - I feel like it locks enhanced tastiness into whatever is being cooked.   So maybe next time I'd go with a low-sodium broth.  That, or I'll just drink some extra water before bed.  Do not skimp on the pepper though.  Part of the joy of this soup is the heat in the end.

* These are all rough measurements - don't feel tied to any amounts, really.  Except for the broth.  I know I emptied out two of those box things the broth comes in nowadays so that amount is right on the mark.

I'm wearing this:

It's an at home day, but I still wanted to look presentable.  Jeans, a loose sweater and clogs fills the bill.  I feel better when I take off my yoga pants and just get dressed already.  Even if no one but that guy that sells "high-quality" meat door-to-door sees me.  That's just how I am.

gratitude:  the weekend weather forecast, Kathryn Budig's yoga classes, slipcovers, baguette

thanks and love.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Our Weekend Was So Busy, The Last Thing I Wanted To Do Was Make A Trip To The Grocery Store. That's Why Dinner Last Night Consisted Of Plain Pasta On A Few Leaves Of Spinach And Breakfast Was A Frozen Bavarian Pretzel. Mission Accomplished.

What a weekend!  We enjoyed a bit of everything these past few days - birthday fun, lacrosse, soccer and our first prom as parents.  What we didn't enjoy much of is sleep.  And we're not done yet, tonight we're hosting Eliza's high school soccer team for a team dinner.  A taco bar has been requested.  Slow clap.  I figure if I start chopping now, I should have enough toppings prepped to feed 25 hungry teenage athletes.  Wondering if Qdoba takes last minute orders...

I've noticed that days like these past few give me a nice opportunity to practice going with the flow - which is a critical skill to raising teenagers without needing heavy doses of therapy or prescription meds.  As much as I wanted to give helpful tips for eye makeup application, picture taking locations and other bits of event details, I just laid off and let it be.  I let love, gratitude and joy be my vibe - and didn't allow my default grasping need for some control or impact rise to the top like it has (more often than I'd prefer) in the past.  And you know what?  Everything worked out just fine - probably better than fine because I like the way I feel today after having taken a more chillaxed attitude over the weekend.  I proudly remained loving and joyous even when faced at 4:30 am with five teenagers borrowing our luxurious new throws to keep warm while they watched the sunrise at Red Rocks after prom.

It's no mistake I made sure they were machine-washable in the first place.

I'm wearing this:

This top from Anthropologie and a turquoise belt buckle are a quiet nod to our dinner theme tonight.  The pattern on the top feels a little South American, so I'm hoping it'll get me into the fiesta spirit as I brown seven pounds of taco meat.  It's all I've got because tequila shooters before a team dinner would be inappropriate.

gratitude:  tea, clean sheets, freesia-scented candles, funny games

thanks and love.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Yesterday I Bought Myself An Under-Eye Illuminator/Brightener And The Latest Copy Of More Magazine. I Also Made Sure To Eat Yogurt And Dark, Leafy Greens. Guess Who's Turning 47?

Ah, birthdays.  A perfect time to review where we've been and where we're going, don't you agree?  While I sit here in the later half of my forties, I can honestly say, I've never been happier.  Aging is indeed, an honor.  We shouldn't forget that.  What a gift to be given another trip around the sun!    I'm so grateful for Life and the ability to live it as beautifully and joyously as possible.  

I also really appreciate the wisdom that comes with age (we tend to tap into our inner Yoda as we get older, don't we?).  The wisdom of knowing we have the freedom to be any way we want to be at any time in life.  It's too bad you can't live your life as a twenty-something with the mindset of someone older.  But I suppose it's all part of the process - it's possible we wouldn't appreciate where we are later in life, if we'd been this way the whole time.  There's a shifting of our mindset over time - at least there has been for me.  We move from thinking about 'what' we want to be, to 'who' we want to be, to 'how' we want to be.  And it's living life how you want to live it that makes everything so. much. better.

Think about how you want to be when you get older - no matter where you are in life.  Imagining an older you is always possible.  Then be that way, right now.  Find older person role models to give you examples and inspiration.  We can control who we are by choosing how we are in every moment.  And birthdays are a great time to think about how we want to be today and in the 364 days to come.  By living how you want to live every day, you'll create a life that feels like a celebration - and that's really how it should be, I think.  Because celebrations are fun (and often include good music and a cute outfit - also fun). 

I'm wearing this:

Because I want to be an older woman who wears tribal prints and orange necklaces with aplomb.  I'd like to do a lot of things with aplomb.  Three cheers for aplomb!

I will also be sipping my new favorite vino tonight on the patio facing the sun, of course.  It's a blended white called Evolution (which is a cool name).  It's got a really funky label too, and it's from Oregon.  I find it quite tasty.

gratitude:  creative freedom in life, the song 'Here Comes The Sun', Fridays, peace

thanks and love.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yesterday, For Earth Day, I Bought A New Plant In Celebration Of The Holiday. I Think I Heard Mother Nature Let Out An Audible Groan.

Admittedly, I'm not a green thumb.  But I have such desire to be one that I feel it should count for something.  I really want to add more plants to our home - they offer health benefits, make you feel connected to nature, and give your decor kind of a funky 70's vibe.  All good, in my opinion.  So the plant I purchased yesterday is, what I would think, a good starter plant.  It's one of those mixed bowls of succulents.  Those are supposed to be low maintenance, right?  I certainly hope so because it's the plant maintenance that I struggle with from time to time.

Are some people born knowing how much to water a plant?  Because I was not.  We have a shamrock plant that has been around for several years now.  It's a real fighter, that one.  Sometimes the pot is bursting with willowy stems and leaves and sometimes there's just one withering sprig making a valiant effort to keep the entire pot from being pitched into the trash can.  It seems to me the plant begins to fail most often after I water it.  Isn't that what you're supposed to do?  When I ignore it, it takes off and sprouts all sorts of new life.  I don't get it.  Do I love too much?

Last year we babysat our neighbors lemon tree while they were in Brazil for a few months.  They left with us a lush, leafy shrub sporting numerous future lemons.  When they returned, it had approximately 15 leaves remaining, a lot of what appeared to be lemon raisins, and some kind of mite infestation.  It was an embarrassment.  And, unfortunately, not a surprise.

But, I'm not a quitter, so I'm giving it another go.  When I picked up the plant at Whole Foods, I whispered an apology to it - it seemed the right thing to do, all things considered.  I really want this to work.  I figure I managed to sustain two human babies, why not a few plants?  Here's to hoping my new Earth Day pot of succulents represents the turning of a new leaf (intended) in my quest for botanical success.  You can stop rolling your eyes now, Mother Nature.

I'm wearing this.

Somehow a peasant top, gladiator sandals, and moto jeans felt right for a conference with JD's math teacher.  I don't know why.

gratitude:  green things, asian salads, being happy right now, orchids

thanks and love.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sure, You Have To Do A Little Extra Work When The Family Gathers At Your Pad For A Holiday, But You End Up The Next Day With Clean Toilets And A Couple Extra Bottles Of Champagne. Not Bad, Really.

Hosting family events is a great motivator to get some projects wrapped up before your guests arrive.  Take yesterday, for example.  We hosted Easter over here and, while I did need to run three loads in the dishwasher and developed carpal tunnel trying to scrape baked on egg off a baking dish, we ended up getting all of our outdoor curtains hung and our side patio about 90% finished.  Here are some visuals.

The Before.

We had furniture out here last year, but when we purchased our firepit (in a shameless effort to tempt the kids and their friends to hang at our house) we moved all of it to the back patio for seating around the pit.  We were left with a dirty rug, a lone table, and a bird's nest that our feathered friends have deemed too much of a fixer-upper to nest in this year.

And now, the After.

We love it.  The kids have even been hanging out here with their friends which makes me think we can put off finishing the basement a while longer.

So there's that.

I'm wearing this.

I wanted to wear something soothing.  This weekend was exhausting mentally and physically, and a long white t-shirt over some grey jeans felt functional and calming.  Of course, there's a pendant necklace because I'd never be too tired to accessorize (duh) and gladiator sandals because they are awesome.

For Meatless Monday we're having pasta with truffle butter (a donation from our neighbors who are cleaning out their fridge before they move to Arizona) and a nice big salad because after eating countless Reece's peanut butter eggs yesterday, we could all use a little roughage.

gratitude:  finished projects, peace and quiet, pretty flowers, detox tea

thanks and love.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I Joined Instagram To Stalk My Children, But Now I Can Enjoy Candid Peeks Into The Lives Of Peter Griffin From Family Guy, The Vice President, And A Cute Cat With A Smooshy Face That Lives In New York.

Since young people these days are so technologically savvy and connected through all sorts of social media, I honestly think it's important that we, as parents, at least attempt to understand what it is they are doing out there.  This isn't an easy thing for me since I don't understand why sometimes the clicker doesn't work.  Technology makes me urpy.

But just because we don't understand or even want to use social media, we need to be aware of and involved in it as much as possible because our kids are, and it's actually a great way to keep tabs on the goings on of our teenage babies.  Once when I was out to dinner I checked Instagram while I was waiting for a stall to become available in the loo and learned, through observing one picture, that my kids had invited a few friends over, ordered Chinese food and were drinking the pineapple juice I'd purchased to use in a brunch dish for the next day.  It's like having a baby monitor for teens.  Sort of.

I've also heard that Instagram, besides being useful in the effort to spy on your kids, is also a good way to draw traffic to your blog.  And, it does make me happy when I know a post has been read by lots of people.  I even went so far as to take an online webinar on how to maximize Instagram for your blog, but I fell asleep while I was listening.  Not good.  I think unconsciousness was the only option to save my ego from being completely diminished by my lack of basic social media knowledge.

But I'm not letting that stop me.  I'm going to give it a go for a while.  Maybe Instagram will be fun.  If I don't like it I'll just disappear again, fade into the background of Instagram, and just use it as a handy way to round out the dossier I've prepared on my daughter's prom date.  

I'm wearing this:

This may be the worst picture ever taken.  Is a UFO landing behind me?

gratitude:  laughter, our side patio, white candles in sand, orange tulips

thanks and love.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If I Have A Little Spring In My Step Today, It's Because We Weren't Late To Middle School. Starting Your Day At The Very End Of The Drop Off Line While Wiping Sweat Off Your Upper Lip From The White Knuckle Ride You Made Just To Get There Is A Tad Defeating, Really.

We're entering that part of the season where the rumblings of all sorts of warm weather projects can be heard in the distance.  And as usual, Geoff and I have big plans.  Whether or not we can pull them off has yet to be determined, but at this point we're very optimistic and never far from a tape measure.  Our most pressing task is hanging some outdoor curtains.  Our patio faces west and from May to November the setting sun constantly threatens to cause some dangerous retinal damage.

And thanks to a uncomfortably surprisingly swift delivery process, we're 'wheels up' with the curtain project - it's way past fantasy now.  We purchased the curtains (big sale at Ballard Designs) and they were delivered in what seemed like only hours (gulp), but may have actually been closer to two weeks.  So there's no turning back.  We have 14 panels of sand and brown awning stripe fabric sitting on our kitchen table - it looks like an earth-toned circus is in town and they've stashed their Big Top at our place.  Thankfully, the kitchen table is so full of homework, lacrosse heads, and what I hope are clean soccer socks that we haven't eaten there in days (many, many days if I'm being honest).

So, weather permitting, this may be the big weekend.  Maybe by Sunday evening the curtains will be off the kitchen table and hanging patioside.  And we'll be out there toasting our success.  We'd probably be out there toasting anyway, but this time we won't be squinting.

I'm wearing this.  I call it Bohemian Cat Burglar.

And this is Bohemian Cat Burglar With A Chill.

gratitude:  extended forecasts that include temps in the mid-70's, the Stella & Dot Joy candle, Ina Garten's Chicken Salad Veronique, good lotion

thanks and love.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Have Found Something That's Like Shopping With A Really Fashionable Friend, But You Don't Have To Feel Bad If You Order Wine With Lunch And They Get An Iced Tea.

So I've been hearing a lot about StitchFix lately.  It's a personal shopping company based out of San Francisco and basically they help you find cute things to wear.   When you sign up, you give them all sorts of information about yourself - how you live, how old your are, what your style preferences are, budget, what you do, sizes, etc.  Then they send you five pieces of clothing or accessories that they think you'd like based on your profiled information.  You try it all on (they even give you suggestions of what to pair with each piece) and decide what you'd like to keep.  You can keep all of it, none of it, or as many pieces as you wish.  You pay online and give your opinions about each piece in the process, then mail back the pieces you're not keeping within three days.  It's amazing.

Really, who doesn't love coming home to a box of goodies you scored during an online shopping session?  Especially if you get to the box before any family members notice you've been shopping again, right?  StitchFix is even better though, because it's a surprise - it almost feels like you're getting a present and when you have to cook dinner every single night, you deserve a present from time to time.

Plus, they make it really easy to return what you don't want to keep.  A weird chair (still in a box) and a floorlamp (also still in a box) from Ikea have taken up a permanent residence by our snowblower, simply because making the return was such a hassle that when I finally decided to do it, it was too late.  Maybe someone will ask for a cheap floorlamp for Christmas!  StitchFix actually sends a postage paid envelope with the clothes and you just stuff whatever doesn't work for you into it, seal it up, and drop it off at the post office.  I did it on the way to a lacrosse game and was still there in time for the first face-off.

This is another thing I really appreciate, it forces me to look at things I wouldn't normally consider for myself.  While I dearly love clothing and style, I do find I get into a bit of a pattern when shopping for moi.  StitchFix is like when the salesperson at a clothing store brings by an item for you to try on that they just got in or she thinks would look great on you, and you think she must be high to even think for a moment this is something you'd like, then you try it on and realize you absolutely love it and wonder if you could just wear it out of the store.

So here is what I received.  First this:

I love this top.  I'd been looking at a similar piece by Free People at Nordstrom Rack for a while, and this one is way better.  It's so much more versatile than the one I had my eye on and actually has a bit more visual interest to it.  I wore this with a pair of dark boot cut jeans and some new gladiator sandals that have gold detailing on them to a lacrosse game this weekend and was very, very happy.

I also like this:

I love a tribal print, but I probably wouldn't have been drawn to one in these colors.  Turns out though, these colors go with so much and really pack a stylish punch.  It's just what my highly neutral wardrobe needed.

This one was a surprise.

While I love the Mary Tyler Moore aspect a wrap dress brings with it,  I'm not a huge fan of anything in a minty green color.  But this was so incredibly comfortable - and the mint color made my pasty winter skin almost look okay.  Plus, I liked the shorter length and the fact that it's machine washable.

I did send back two things, a pair of dark skinny jeans (because those pants have multiplied like rabbits in my closet) and a coral colored knit shirt (felt a little too 'office' to for a free-wheeling stay-at-home mom/unpaid blogger like me).  When you return things you get to explain why you didn't like certain pieces so they can better select things for you the next time.  And by the next time, I mean next month.  You can get monthly 'Fixes' or schedule them farther apart.  I'm going for monthly because it's been some time since I've had a bit of a wardrobe refresh, but I'll spread them out after a while because, you know, money.

Give it a try!  You can click on this code and it'll take you right there.

For Meatless Monday we're having a salad with a creamy lemon dressing and a poached egg on top.  With a baguette and the end of the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc we opened last night.  What about you?

gratitude:  melting snow, decor inspiration, wardrobe enhancements, the massage chair JD picked up at our neighbor's garage sale

thanks and love.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

There Was A Full-Size Kit Kat Candy Bar, Wrapped No Less, On My Garage Floor And I Seriously Contemplated Eating It. For Days.

I share this story with you in the hopes that you'll no longer feel embarrassed about experiences in your own life.  That, and because finding meaning in my battle with food on our garage floor is pretty much all I have going on at this point.

From the Kit Kat's placement it must have fallen out of the backseat area of the car.  Probably something the kids had with them that dropped out of their grasp as they carted their belongings into the house.  I never bent down to touch it (that would have drawn the kids' attention to it and I would have had to share the candy bar with them if it was deemed edible), but I could see that the packaging appeared fully intact.  This gave me great hope that some gross garage cooties hadn't entered the treat and contaminated it.  I also felt that it seemed to have avoided being crushed by the car.  Lucky.

What struck me as odd was that the kids never picked it up or showed any interest in it.  This concerned me a bit.  Of course, I shouldn't be surprised that my kids didn't lift it off the floor of the garage because they seem to not have the motor skills necessary to perform such a task.  Given the heaps of clothes, both dirty and clean, on their bedroom and bathroom floors, proves they may lack the musculature required for "picking up".

I considered that maybe it was a trap.  Did the kids leave it there so I'd pick it up and find I'd touched a Kit Kat bar that had fallen in the toilet at school or something?  Then I remembered that laughing at their mom is okay, but they'd never stoop so low as to trick me.  I think.

Finally, I thought that maybe all my preaching about healthy eating had made a difference and the kids were immune now to the siren song of junk food.  That thought quickly passed when I went to place something in the trash can and noticed no less than three giant-sized slushie cups in the canister. Clearly, they're a-ok with a little sugar and artificial flavoring from time to time.

After a few days of wondering about the candy bar and becoming increasingly concerned about my hopefulness in getting to eat it, I simply picked it up and threw it out.  The whole experience annoyed me after a while.  I mean, geez, if I wanted candy I could easily pick some up on one of my 6,000 trips to the grocery store each week.  Am I not treating myself to something special often enough?  Should I go shoe shopping?  So many questions!

When I lifted it from the garage floor I observed it was slightly crushed, which relieved me - I'd made the right choice to toss it.  I was glad that upon making the discovery I was in the process of throwing it away, not greedily snatching it off the floor and opening the wrapper with trembling fingers.  It made me feel better about myself.  And it's really the little victories in life that make all the difference, isn't it?

I'm wearing this:

A maxi skirt and sandals.  Kind of a bohemian chic look that works just fine for watching a girls' high school JV soccer game.  'Cause that's how I roll.

gratitude:  birds nesting, new fish, gladiator sandals, warm weather

thanks and love.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It Occurred To Me Recently That Ranch Dressing Has Taken Over Our Palates. I Ordered Pizza For Dinner Thinking I Was Making A Very Popular Move, But The Children Were Disappointed That I Didn't Order Ranch With The Pizza. I Was Unaware That Dipping Your Pizza In Ranch Dressing Was Now A Thing. Seriously. I Worry We'll Be Drizzling It Over Ice Cream Soon.

I remember when I was a kid and Ranch dressing made it's first appearance on the food scene.  It had probably existed somewhere else for years already, but to a girl in 1970's Denver, it seemed almost mythical.  It was a magical liquid from a special place called Hidden Valley, right?  Honestly, I spent years wondering if maybe there really was a place called Hidden Valley - was this recipe a part of their shared cultural history?  There were occasional moments for me when the whole Ranch dressing thing crossed a line from trendy condiment to anthropological query.  Of course, we never really ate this Hidden Valley treasure at our house.  My mom was a bit of a food stickler (I wonder where I got it?) and all of that herbed creaminess didn't meet certain dietary requirements she held.

Of course, you could find this dressing almost everywhere and I'll admit, when I saw that green topped bottle at the end of a buffet line, I coated every bit of iceberg lettuce on my plate with it (I think that was the only acceptable salad lettuce until the late 80's).  Thing is, I wanted to really love it, but I just didn't. It always tasted a bit too sweet for me.  And its glossy thickness gave me pause, at even a young age.  Turns out, there are all sorts of thickening agents to thank for that particular Ranch dressing's creaminess and the extreme sweet/tangy flavor can be attributed in part, at least, to sugar and the dreaded Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).  Bummer, because the concept is a good one and it does make a raw broccoli floret something special.

By the time I had kids of my own, Ranch dressing had become the default flavor in dips, dressing, chips, even Goldfish crackers.  It was impossible to escape.  But even the 'healthy' versions of Ranch didn't always hit the mark.  Finding a healthy Ranch dressing that tasted fresh and flavorful was like Prince Charming trying to find who's foot fit the glass slipper.  Until the Magic Spoon Cookbook came along.

My mother-in-law gave my daughter this cookbook when Eliza was in kindergarten (see Note).  It came with a clear mixing spoon filled with a glittery, purple liquid.  But more importantly, it came with a Ranch dressing recipe that I still use to this day.  It's a game-changer.  Give this a go - you'll forget there ever was a place called Hidden Valley.

Ranch Dressing from The Magic Spoon Cookbook

1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. garlic powder or  one small clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. onion powder (I actually use organic dried, minced onion)
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. buttermilk or plain yogurt

Mix all ingredients together and pour over all sorts of things.  Enjoy.

*Note: My daughter, Eliza, grew up watching cooking shows on TV.  We played together in the kitchen a lot. And now, at 16, she has zero interest in cooking.  We are clearly outliers when it comes to the belief that involving your kids in food preparation and kitchen activities helps them make better food choices as they get older.  She thinks slushies are their own food group. 

I'm wearing this:

Layering some items better suited for warm weather is apparently how I'm going to spend this first part of April.  Can't decide yet on a scarf to today.  It may be a game-time decision.

For Meatless Monday we're having artichokes because my nice neighbor, Susi, showed me how to make them in the microwave.  I may supplement with a frozen Whole Foods goat cheese and pesto pizza because I would need to prepare 75 artichokes to fill up my children and who has that kind of time, really?

gratitude:  ease, new clothes, yoga, trash day

thanks and love.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Final Focus On A Basic Warm Weather Wardrobe. And Since I've Managed To Embed Something From Another Website Into This Post, It Doubles As A Dazzling Display Of My Advanced Computer Skills. Or Better, A Living Tribute To The Power Of Googling 'How-To' Instructions.

And now, I present the Fashion Friday Finale!  It's kind of like the much anticipated publication of the final book in a well-loved trilogy, isn't it?  That, or it may be more of a Rocky III kind of thing and just a little underwhelming.  Either way, here it is!

Today we're talking wraps, shoes and accessories.  The final touches to every great outfit.  Plus, I have a little visual aid to demonstrate how versatile a good basic wardrobe can be.

Wraps (top layers):  I think the basic top layers you need for the warmer months are a white blazer, a black blazer and a long cardigan.  All summer weight, of course.  I'm a big fan of blazers.  Blazers instantly take whatever you're wearing to a higher level - they finish the look perfectly and can be dressed up or down.  Give them a try.  I find Loft and Forever 21 are good places to get just a casual, lightweight blazer or two for the summer months.  No need to spend too much money if it's not part of a suit, so don't fear hitting the cheaper stores for this kind of piece.  Also, a long cardigan gives you a little extra layer of warmth and, in my opinion, is a bit cooler than a short cardigan.

Shoes:  I think it's good to have a gladiator sandal - in brown, preferably.  This style is very on-trend and it covers the foot well so if you happen to have kind of funky feet, this is a stylish way to camouflage them.  Bonus.  A classic thong sandal is perfect for summer.  The plainer the better - tres chic.  Flip-flops are fun - Havianas are actually way more comfortable than other brands I've tried.  White sneakers are a nice option for spring and summer.  I like Converse myself.  A strappy black heel will instantly jazz up your look and there are many comfortable options out there so find one that works for you.  And finally, I like a D'Orsay flat myself - the kind that only have the front of the foot covered (with a pointy toe) and the heel covered, but really any flat that you like is nice, just keep the look as streamlined as possible or it gets a tad frumpy.

And accessories:   I am huge believer in the power of good accessories.  Especially if you're working with a basic wardrobe - accessories bring the zing.  I use a lot of Stella & Dot pieces.  I used to be a stylist for them and I continue to adore their things.  Of course, you can find great accessories everywhere, but for me, shopping from the Stella & Dot collections makes it super easy because they are already edited down and I don't have to schlep through a ton of stuff to find things that work.  A great starter accessory wardrobe should include:  a statement necklace, a long delicate necklace (bonus if you can wrap it around your neck once to make a shorter layered look), a long pendant necklace, a cuff, some bangles, a statement earring, two scarves (a dark one and a light one), a daytime tote and a nighttime clutch.

There you have it folks, the Spring/Summer wardrobe wrap up.  I've put together a few Polyvore collages to demonstrate how all these great basics work together.  From just a smallish group of clothing items, you can really put together a ton of cute outfits.  What I've shown though, is just the foundation wardrobe.  Once this is established you can add to it with additional pieces that reflect your specific tastes and style preferences.  The beauty of having a great foundation wardrobe is you never find yourself with nothing to wear, you know you'll always looks classically good, and it's fun to get creative mixing and matching very simple pieces.  Enjoy.

Happy weekend!

gratitude:  the Dictionary Word of The Day today (omphaloskepsis), melting snow, my Joie top, birds

thanks and love.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Nothing Says 'Bedtime' Like Lavender Oil On The Sheets, A Double-Shot Of Chamomile Tea And Some Industrial-Strength Ear Plugs From Ace Hardware.

I'm back!  I took full advantage of Spring Break, hoping to conjure up some heightened creativity and personal insight that I could put forth in the form of blog posts and such.  As it is, I find I'm pretty much at the same place I was before, save for a slightly peeling face (rookie sunblock application) and a sore knee from skiing (old).  I did have every intention of posting on Monday, however, I had myself a bit of a mini-breakdown.

After examining aspects of my life waaaay to deeply, panicking that I would never understand what a "widget" is or how to apply one to my blog, and whining to Geoff about my overall lack of sparkle (I seriously said that) I came to realize there is something very important to one's emotional well-being:


Turns out, without enough sleep pretty much anything can take on a bit of a negative hue.  And that's where I found myself the other day.  It seems we have a little snoring issue at the High House.  Not anything cartoonish, but just enough consistent noise that I can't ever really get to sleep.  It's been going on for a while, but I've been able to make adjustments along the way that usually work.  Temporarily.  Then somehow my brain or Geoff's nighttime noises become immune to my defenses and I'm back to gritting my teeth and poking him in the side all night - admittedly, at times, not so gently and maybe with a bad word (or two) muttered under my breath.

Our most recent discovery was an iPad app.  It's a white-noise maker and for a while I thought it was brilliant.  We combined 'River' with 'Thunder' to make a wonderful cocktail of meaningless snore softening sounds.  It worked for a few days, then the snoring started to break through our little self-created din.  So we decided we'd put an iPad on both sides of the bed for kind of a stereo effect.  But the two iPads together produced way more than white noise.  It sounded like we needed to move to higher ground or build an ark.  It was far from restful.

So, now our best solution is for me to move to the couch when the night noises start in.  Geoff has offered to take sofa duty, but I feel bad waking him up to move when I'm already wide awake myself and he is clearly well into one heck of a REM stage.  This, of course, will not be how things remain from here on out.  He's seeing a doctor soon to discuss some options one of which, we understand, is a very expensive mouthpiece that the very thought of makes me sad.  I can't imagine Geoff having to wear some kind of contraption to bed and there is a huge part of me that would rather spend all that money on cute shoes and dinners out with the family.  Geoff thinks he just needs to lose some winter weight.  I hope he's right and that dropping a few pounds will do the trick, but I've never heard of anyone carrying extra weight in their throat.  Fingers crossed I'm wrong.

As it turns out I wasn't becoming emotionally unhinged, I simply needed more sleep.  There is an Irish proverb I found that sums it up perfectly:

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book."

Amen to that.

I'm wearing this:

I needed a look that could go from driving lacrosse carpool to a neighborhood happy hour.  Jeans, a t-shirt and blazer work perfectly.  "When do they not?", I ask.

gratitude:  debt elimination, successful shopping for teens, family getaways, soccer and lacrosse games

thanks and love.