California Wine Country


Oh Napa Valley, how I fell for you! Your sexy, curving roads thrilled. Your warm October breezes, heady with eucalyptus, rosemary, and grapes intoxicated. Your wine sated and delighted. And your food. Oh, your food! Each ingredient shining but not overpowering, casually lending just-yanked-from-the-garden character. And your insouciant beauty, from vista to vineyard lunch, aroused both inspiration and envy. Don’t tell Chicago, but I’m dying to see you again. Continue reading

Roasted Buttercup Squash and Soba Noodle Salad with Creamy Miso Ginger Dressing


This hearty autumn salad was inspired by last week’s trip to Napa Valley. On our first day, we drove to Sonoma County and spent a lazy afternoon wandering around Healdsburg. SHED, the foodie paradise market and café, was by far our favorite spot. My friend Domonique, a San Fransisco native, mentioned that it’s probably the most instagrammed place in wine country and after seeing it for myself I understand why. SHED exemplifies Northern California culture – hyper fresh, local, sustainable, organic, simple and thoughtful. The eat-local/organic/farm-to-table movement now prevalent everywhere began in this little corner of the world, and spending time there had a profound impact on me. Continue reading

Wasted on the Way


With my nephew, a mere six hours old.

My baby sister gave birth to a healthy, gorgeous boy last week. The moment she went into labor, I scrambled onto a plane. My children were every bit as excited as I, practically kicking me out the door and assuring me they would get along fine without me. And so I arrived just a few hours after he came into the world, watching with wonder the essence of life as my sister sat on her sofa and nursed him (yes, she came home five hours after delivering, and yes, she’s semi-superhuman). I was able to hold him, stroke his silky soft cheeks, marvel at his perfect cupid’s bow mouth and teeny tiny hands while he gripped my finger tightly. My heart tugged, pulled close by the invisible strings that will connect us forever as family. I looked at my sister and brother-in-law and remarked, can you even remember what you thought about before he was here? He quickly wanted to return to her, already knowing the warmth and scent of his mama. I watched my sister take him in her arms, Continue reading

Weekend Kitchen: How to Grill a Whole Fish


One of the best parts about a coastal vacation is the abundance of locally caught seafood, and we enjoyed it almost every night during our recent sailing trip. Returning home, I vowed to make fish a more prominent part of our diet (much to the dismay of my teenaged son, who already views our once-a-week salmon as excessive fish consumption). I took inspiration from the bluefish we caught during our trip to the Vineyard Continue reading

Celebrating Independence Day


Celebrating a recent Fourth of July with my friend Christie.

I have the great fortune to live in a community that celebrates the Fourth of July in true Norman Rockwell form. In this small town on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, families gather along tree-lined streets to watch the parade, with gracious houses draped in bunting serving as backdrop. Picnic blankets dot the lawns where little girls and boys in their patriotic finest play, blowing bubbles, waving flags. Adults mingle and celebrate, sharing their summer plans and catching up with the young men and women home from college. It feels like America should feel, to me at least. Continue reading

Profiles in Beauty

While I love to grab inspiration from pages of fashion magazines and images of the editors who put them together, what inspires me most are the beautiful women who surround me in my everyday life. Their beauty routines and how they put themselves together each day are only a few brushstrokes on the painting. What inspires and motivates them, how they carry themselves, deal with adversity, what makes them crazy or leads them to laughter – to me, these are the things that comprise a beautiful, inspiring woman.

Stephanie and Eric, her college sweetheart and husband of 17 years, attending a dinner at the Palace of Versailles.

The first profile I’m sharing with you is of my dear friend Stephanie. We met our freshman year at DePauw University and instantly became close. We roomed together in our sorority house, and after graduation moved into a little apartment on Dayton in Chicago where we shared closets and many nights we’d love to relive (and a few I’m sure we wouldn’t!). Steph and I now live three blocks apart here in Lake Forest, and I am lucky enough to see her several times a week, often working out at our friend Fronzie’s studio or walking our dogs, who are quite in love.  She continually inspires me with her effortless beauty, quick wit, and extraordinary outlook on life.

DePauw University

DePauw University

What is your go-to work outfit?  Skinny pants with cropped jacket/blazer and a chunky necklace, most often my Mom’s pearls.

Your go-to date night outfit?  Dark skinny jeans, black top, heels, some kind of leopard accessory.

What are your absolute beauty essentials?  My Clarisonic, Neocutis bio-restorative (what that means I’m unsure) skin & eye cream, Laura Mercier eye basics and tinted moisturizer with SPF 20. Also, something neutral with just a hint of color on my lips. And I do really like this mascara called They’re Real. This sounds way more high-maintenance than I really am.

Favorite flower?  Tulips

What inspires you?  Perseverance

I couldn’t live without my….family & friends.

What is your biggest pet peeve?  Laziness.

Favorite places to shop?  I’m not a big shopper, so when I need something I like to be able to get it quickly. If I’m not purchasing online, I will go to J.Crew and Valentina, both within five minutes of my home.

What never fails to make you smile?  Hearing my kids laugh.

What makes you blush?  Certain compliments.

What’s on your DVR?  That I watch? I’m somewhat of a news junkie. The Daily Show with John Stewart, Nightly News, 60 Minutes…and mostly HBO shows…Girls, Looking, Togetherness, Silicon Valley, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Not on my DVR, but loyally watched – House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

What is your guilty pleasure?  See previous response, and Starbucks.

If I had 24 hours of absolutely nothing to do, I would… This is such a difficult question, because it’s hard to even imagine! Whatever it is, I would want to be with Eric and my boys.

You’ve traveled all over the world. Do you have a favorite locale?  Domestically, I would say the Montage in Laguna Beach. Internationally, I love Paris.

The Mosaic Pool at the Montage

The Mosaic Pool at the Montage

My favorite childhood memory is… From the time I was born, my parents owned a home on Marco Island, and we drove to Florida a lot. I loved it when we had driven far enough south where we could open the car windows. I just remember the warmth, the smell, how happy I was to know we were getting closer to our destination. Being together with my family on Marco were very happy times.

When do you feel most beautiful?  When I’m happy.

Together at a Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital benefit.

Together at a Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital benefit.

Thank you, Steph, for your inspiration and for sharing your thoughts here. I know you’re blushing!

Sunny Side Up

I have a confession to make. When I was in first grade, I pilfered the lemon yellow crayon out of a classmate’s desk. I’d worn mine down to a nub and she hadn’t even reached the peeling-down-of-the-paper stage!  In my six year old mind, she clearly didn’t love yellow as much as I did.  I needed it.  Alas, the guilt kept me up all night so I snuck it back into her crayon box, heart racing, when she was at the pencil sharpener the next day.

I’m as crazy over yellow now as I was then, especially in spring and summer when I’m craving color and sunshine.  So many people think they can’t wear yellow, but there is a shade for everyone. My friend Stephanie, a fair skinned, flaxen haired beauty of Swedish descent, looks stunning in the pale, lemon yellow of my crayon stealing years.  As a brunette, the golden, runny egg yolk version looks best on me and I love to wear it in both bold statement making pieces (my Alberto Moretti velvet day slippers – on huge sale here) and in smaller touches (my favorite Lem Lem scarf, similar here). The best part is, wearing it never fails to elicit a smile or two. And who wouldn’t want to be a ray of sunshine in someone’s day?

Below, street style images of the mood-lifting hue, then links to pieces you can buy Continue reading

Cumberland Island


I just returned from four amazing days spent with my little sister (affectionately known as Little J) at her Florida beach house. On our last and best day, we took the ferry to a place I’d always longed to see: Cumberland Island, Georgia.


Cumberland Island is a magical, chill inducing place. No bridge links the island to the mainland. Accessible only by boat, visitors explore on foot or bicycle, wandering ruins of old mansions and cemeteries while observing wildlife without boundaries. Life and death are imminently present on the island. Skeletal fragments seamlessly, exquisitely, meld with the earth while birds fly overhead and wild, feral horses and hogs roam without boundaries.


We rented island (i.e. rustic) bicycles and pedaled our way to Stafford Beach for a picnic, where we spent most of our time with no one else in sight. A giant steel buoy eroded next to horse shoe crab exoskeletons of the same color, striking an incredible visual chord. Wild horses grazed silently while seabirds circled marine life that had washed ashore. Fishing boats trawled as the men aboard waited to heave their catch on deck. It was impossible not to contemplate the circle of life and one’s place in it.  William Cullen Bryant’s Thanatopsis filled my mind as I saw so much beauty in life and death, and the natural progression of it all.













by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)
To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around—
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air—
Comes a still voice—
                                       Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix for ever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
     Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre.   The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods—rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings—yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man—
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.
     So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.