Friday, February 28, 2014

take it to go: serving 1

We made it to Friday! I'm excited about that. And I'm excited to debut a fun new series, TAKE IT TO GO—a "doggie bag" of links that caught my attention throughout the week, packaged in a snappy, grab-and-go format. Look for it (named as a fun play on my soon-to-be-revealed blog rebrand!), on Fridays—'cause I love a good routine, the attention span for anything long-winded is shot by then, and with the weekend just hours away, you've got places to go, people to see. Hope you enjoy! This weekend's scheduled events include finishing up my taxes, trimming my hair and getting a pedicure. A little work, a little play. Only seven days til Arizona sun!

A SECOND LOOK. This trippy photo series explores beauty through facial symmetry. It'll make you stop, stare, squint—and maybe appreciate a little imbalance.

DRINK UP. I buy a different fruit juice every time I go to the store and this week it's red orange. What's left after Monday through Friday breakfast smoothies will be perfect for this Sunday brunch sangria.

CULTURE. I have a love/hate relationship with social media, but it's becoming increasingly pervasive in our lives: marriage proposals are now happening on instagram.

TRENDS. Baby-faced men are paying big money to get the manly beards of George Clooney and Ryan Gosling. I do appreciate a little scruff (wink).

PARTY HARDY. Wishing my Academy Awards viewing party was going to look like this! Ballot voting and Champagne are happening.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

artisanal cheese and birthday candles

Fromagination is no secret when it comes to best specialty stores in Badgerland. A friend included it on a newcomer's guide she gave me when I moved to Madison last April, so it's been on my radar for awhile. But I hadn't stopped in until this weekend—I'm just coming around to some goat cheese dishes and can only eat feta if finely crumbled—so I didn't feel a pressing need to scope out the stock of artisanal cheese at this local favorite. But, really, any gourmet food shop has me wrapped around its finger and I was not disappointed in the Carroll Street stop. The warm-glow ambiance makes you want to linger, the French-speaking clerk (oddly) makes it feel familiar and homey, and the shelves are filled with more than just brie and bleu (going back soon for an adorable appetizer tray and keeping the gift baskets in mind for birthdays and holidays!). I'm bummed that the tastings and fondue classes are only offered on Wednesdays. They're just what I've been looking to schedule for my mom's next visit, but the mid-week timing is tough for out-of-towners. Happily, come spring (will it ever be here?) I found they offer more frequent wine and cheese pairings on the outdoor patio – and that, I'm sure, will be worth the wait. I ended up deciding on a jar of tapenade and expressing it to Minnesota for my mom's birthday, which is today! I have so many adoring words for her, but included them in her card and don't feel the need to repeat them here—so enjoy this pic of us at the lake instead (slides in the water were the coolest). Happy birthday, Mom!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

mules and wall street wolves

Mules: clunky, chunky-heeled clogs often found on the feet of older women. Not traditionally the first style I'd choose to freshen up my spring footwear assortment. But that's all changing this season. The backless shoe is stepping into "it" status with metallic touches, spiky stilettos and more modern designs—and because it's perfect for both office hours and after hours, I won't feel a bit guilty about buying a pair. John Lefevre isn't feeling any guilt either. The man behind the @GSElevator Twitter handle was recently revealed—though he was never a Goldman employee, did work on Wall Street— and he's cashing in on his tattletale tweets with a six-figure Touchstone book deal. I am seriously intrigued by this guy's inventive "extracurricular activity," his method ("Early on, I tweeted more about specific people or deals, inside jokes/commentary, and even a few ad hominem attacks. That gave me a certain validation and credibility. But over time, the tweets have been increasingly styled to have a bit more commercial appeal."), and the book will no doubt feed your Wolf of Wall Street curiosity ("I went into investment banking and I saw a group of people that aren't as impressive as I thought they were—or as impressive as they thought they were. They defined themselves as human beings by their jobs."). Treat yourself to a mule, then read more about the proposed hardcover here.


SHOP MULES: pointy toe. open toe. wedge.

Monday, February 24, 2014

seeing the sun

It's so much easier to get back into the weekly grind when the time between the cyclical task and toil is fun-filled. Brunching, window shopping and cocktailing on Saturday and Sunday is fuel for the next five days. And I feel like I'm starting Monday with a pretty full tank. It was such a high to get outside and walk around downtown for the first time in months. The sunny sky and mild temperature brought back to life the inner-animation that winter kind of kills. Saturday Emily and I joined the ranks of people stumbling out of their cold-weather comas for a bite at Bassett Street Brunch Club. The staff was friendly—while perched at the bar, several servers jumped in on our chatter which felt very "Cheers"—the service was quick—our meals arrived before we could decide which daily doughnut flavor to sample (but slipped in a maple-bacon as dessert)—and the energy was high— booths were bustling with UW students curing hangovers before heading out to incur new ones that night. Creative, unstuffy touches—like dubbing the breakfast drink list "Wake Up Calls"—give the place personality. And that's all I'm really looking for on the weekend. That kind of spirit and the impervious delight of my Saturday is something Alice Herz-Sommer had all her life. The oldest known survivor of the Holocaust, Sommer passed away Sunday morning in London. Her peace is something to hold onto. The documentary of her story is nominated for an Academy Award—catch it before the show airs Sunday!


Friday, February 21, 2014

best-dressed strategy and solid cologne

HAPPY FRIDAY. It was a quiet week, but a good week. I did receive a belated Valentine’s card and ten bucks sent direct from the coldest place on earth, so there’s the excitement for the past few days. Sometimes (I stress, sometimes) an uneventful routine is relaxing. But the wardrobe boredom I described Tuesday isn’t something I want to luxuriate in. This look is fun because it layers textures (rugged denim + soft knit with delicate cutout detail) and aesthetics (a feminine but sporty cotton skirt and masculine duck boots). It has elements of spring while still being practical for snowy sidewalks. Add thick gray leggings or faded stone skinnies to channel this fall trend. Combining classic separates in unique ways is a solid style strategy – it assures your wardrobe isn’t overly trendy and disposable, while keeping it fresh. In the end, these pieces all have longevity. And for my male readers today (perhaps prepping for a night out?), another thing that lasts: solid cologne. I don’t think men need to wear it, but do find a faint scent attractive – in itself and in its suggestion of good grooming habits. You might prefer dabbing a solid texture on the skin to spritzing yourself, it’s subtler and lasts longer than a spray, and the compact packages are easy to carry in your back pocket or gym bag. If there’s one thing you can be proud of, it’s leaving a good scent when you go. Check out a few options here

jacket. sweatshirt. shirt ( similar). skirt (gap - old). boots

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

designer taste

Someone recently asked me whom I consider my favorite designers, and I was kind of caught off guard. I don’t have a high-fashion budget, so haven’t historically paid much attention to the who behind the what – since I'm not buying the garments off the runway, all I need to take away from the shows are trends, concepts, inspiration. But it really bothered me that I didn’t have an answer. Like being able to pinpoint my favorite food or movie, I should be able to name a few designers I identify with. So I launched a little research project. Based mostly on spring and fall ’14 ready-to-wear collections, here's what I like: Temperley’s decorative designs and comingling of softness and structure (I don't say 'swoon,' but swoon); Cynthia Rowley’s modern, distinctive silhouettes with hints of sporty sensibility; Theory’s cinched, professional bodices and free-flowing, seductive skirts; Tibi’s simplicity and clever, casual sophistication; Tracy Reese’s relaxed trousers topped with tailored jackets. (Name drop alert: I met Tracy Reese when she participated in a panel at Target HQ during the company's holiday collab with Neiman. Cool lady.) As fashion evolves each season, I’m sure so will my leanings, but for now I’m satisfied. And so is Ariel Foxman, who's sharing a behind-the-scenes look at his perfectly gratifying InStyle Editor office. I think it's cool that he went from the New Yorker to a women's fashion magazine – and obviously aspire to be sent free stacks of coffee table books and tickets to the Oscars, too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

spring fever

Good morning! I'm a little bleary-eyed from staying up to watch Meryl and Charlie win gold last night. Aren't they so cute? The photos and videos from their early days as a pair are adorable and their poise (at ten!) disarming. Despite the drowsiness, I’m ready to get back to the routine after taking Friday off and having an unexpected snow day yesterday. Highlights from the long weekend include manicures on Halsted, a Valentine’s date of tacos and men’s figure skating with Stacy (yes, we’re cool), a girls’ night of greasy barbecue at Bub City, and Sunday brunch with my sister, mom and two of her BU grad school friends. It was really fun to chat with these women on the cusp of retirement after such interesting and impressive careers – and to hear about the days when happy hour included free hot appetizers and my mom (of all people) furnished her apartment by dumpster diving. After all the activity, it felt really good to sink into my couch Sunday night. Even though it’s only two and a half hours from Chicago to Madison, the drive home was slightly painful thanks to the I-90 “rebuild and widen” initiative. The posted speed limit is forty-five. Yeah. Plus it was really sunny, and bundled up in my winter wool I was so hot and uncomfortable that I had to crack the windows. I felt kind of tough until I saw a convertible with the top down cruising Broom Street. It was twenty-two degrees. Anyway, that gives you a sense of the spring fever around here. And when it comes to the wardrobe, it manifests as an “I hate everything in my closet” mentality. Lately I’ve been getting dressed in essentially the same jeans/sweater combo every day, and it just.feels.tired. Big yawn. But don't drop everything – creative layering, fun shapes and pattern mixing (of what's already in your closet) will perk you right up. A flirty skirt is an InStyle spring must-have, this boxy blouse has the feel of a trendy crop top while keeping skin covered, and complementary shades of purple (or any color) in interesting textures add the dimension a flat, uninspired routine needs. I’m sure one day I’ll look back at my style and laugh – like my mom when reminded of the pink tasseled "boudoir shoes" she wore around Boston – but for today, this is the ticket.

Friday, February 14, 2014

big kiss

I remember having zero understanding of why our parents were telling us to hold the candy lips like that, covering our own. Maybe it was just too early in the morning for me. Have a lovely weekend! xx.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

coupling up

Anyone else ready for Friday? I am beyond excited to be in Chicago this weekend. I’m due for some catch-up time with friends and by coincidence my mom will also be in from Minnesota visiting my sister±—so excited for some fun lunches with them. Ideally, I'd wear one of these matching-separates ensembles for pizza and paninis at Francesca's Forno on Saturday. The trend’s been going strong since last summer and continuing into fall, so it’s time even late adopters test it out. I especially love structured pieces like Courtney's (below right) for a smart, professional look that's fresh and modern. This trapeze top and these tailored pants in lemon yellow are so fun for spring. But don't wait for the snow to melt to whoop it up (seriously, it could be May)—Bon Appetit is counting down to Valentine's Day with a parade of sexy cocktails that all taste a lot like fun. Mix up today’s Viking Glogg for a mid-week treat.


images: one. two

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

eat dessert first

Driving home from Trader Joe’s on Saturday, the green and yellow Greenbush Bakery sign on Regent Street caught my eye – I remembered seeing the name on a Best of Madison list. When I first moved to the city I was a rock star about trying new restaurants and hotspots, but haven’t been as exploratory lately. Blame winter and my budget. But last night I forced myself out of the rut and into the unassuming shop that looked from the outside like it could be a hardware supply store – conveying an authentic "we do donuts, not decor" personality. I usually save sweets (and general indulging) for Saturday and Sunday, but this was about getting to know my neighborhood and trying new things – and certain sacrifices must be made. An old-fashioned chorus of bells rings obnoxiously when you open the door, but the sugary scent that floats in the air makes you immediately forgive it. At 6 pm, the counter was still chock full of glazed and frosted puffs – a win for the working girl. And for two bucks, I went home with two tens. Snacking on the delicately crispy, airy donuts while watching Juan Pablo make a fool of himself was just what Monday needed. It's going to be a good week. I can taste it. If you're not persuaded to press pause on your healthy routine for just one morning, stay the course with NYFW (day six currently underway) model Josephine Skriver, who's dishing on her pre-show breakfast here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

something borrowed and something for the sun

There are a lot of things I’m looking for right now. But in looking for everything we want, it’s easy to overlook the great things we already have. And for twentysomethings like me, two of those are the guiltless freedom to lounge lazily in the apartment all day with zero responsibility and subsist on snacks (namely, string cheese) instead of real meals. I enjoyed both on Sunday. One of my favorite movies, Something Borrowed (who doesn’t love this?), was on TV in the afternoon, and the part where John Krasinski tells Ginnifer Goodwin to “ask for what you want” before she flies from London to New York is kind of my mantra right now. You can’t be a passive player in your own life. Ask and you shall receive, right? It’s step one at least. The numerous Hamptons scenes also reminded me that I need a new swim cover up. A good one is so hard to find – it shouldn’t resemble a Vegas club dress, should keep ruffles and frills to a minimum, and I like long sleeves that give the chest and shoulders a break from the sun. Really into this one. I know. $98 seems extreme. But it will last multiple seasons and you won't be sick of it after one summer, which is justification to splurge. So, can I get a week in Cabo? (Asking for what I want here.) I'll leave you with this


Thursday, February 6, 2014

gimme springtime

So, old Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and temperatures are stubbornly staying low. Two thumbs down. But the days are getting longer – driving home from work this week while there was still some light in the sky was a huge step forward! So let’s keep steppin’. Strappy sandals are still a no-go, but here's how I'm getting into a spring-y state of mind right now. 1. Floral pumps – the conservative shape will protect toes from the cold, while the petal motif is leaps and bounds livelier than predictable black. 2. Sunny highlights – Kate Mara is literally aglow in this new shade. It’s all the inspiration I need to call my stylist. 3. A green smoothie – refreshing juice blends don’t have to be reserved for hot, sticky days. This one tastes amazing, is easy to make, and gets you your greens! 4. A new bag – you can justify buying two bags a year: one in fall, one in spring. Well, the time is now to refresh for spring. I love Coach’s newly sophisticated and simple designs, and the colors (grey birch, peach rose, powder blue) are dreamy. 5. A country playlist – nothing lightens the step like a little twang, and it's the best motivation for jumping in the shower at 5AM. A few to get you started: When She Says Baby, Give Me Back My Hometown, Sober. Know who else is pressing play on a new track? The Tonight Show. After more than twenty years, tonight is Jay Leno’s last night as host before Fallon takes over. Billy Crystal, Garth Brooks and rumored others will be his guests. I rarely watch the show (and kind of wish I’d been part of the Johnny Carson era), but don't plan to miss the sendoff  11:35/10:35c! 

images via pinterest

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

vitamin C and a style guide

My local news anchor loves to call the second day of the week “tough Tuesday,” which I normally find incredibly annoying (can’t we just do Tuesday and pretend it’s fun even if it isn’t?), but today her little nickname is hittin’ the nail on the head. I’m homebound with a flattening case of the flu that not even the gallon of OJ I preventively drank this weekend could ward off (and I don’t drink orange juice – even in mimosas). I’m really hoping this coughing/sneezing/wheezing beast is gone by tomorrow so I can get back to the land of the upright and mobile, but crazy, stupid, love. is on TV, so there’s the silver lining. In the meantime, here’s a peek at my remedies – magically restorative powers of retail therapy included. Have you flipped through j.crew’s February style guide yet? Even though I don’t think the quality justifies the retails (speaking from several shoddy jewelry experiences), it’s still my store. Currently digging these dressed-up shorts and tuxedo-striped pants for her and this soft weekend style and spring-essential pullover for him. OK, back to the Kleenex and cough drops, byee..