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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Thanatopsis
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.

Golden Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Pistachios and Clementine Vinaigrette

DSC_0262Wow. It’s been four months since I’ve posted. FOUR MONTHS! Can I let Robert Frost explain? His poem The Armful says it all, and much more eloquently than I ever could:

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns—
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road.
And try to stack them in a better load.

The good news is that my sabbatical allowed me to thoughtfully gather ideas and create. And I can’t wait to come here each week and share with you.

I’m starting with this salad. I LOVE this salad. It’s a super yummy nutritional powerhouse perfect for keeping you healthy during the cold winter months.  Continue reading

Exploring Tarpaulin Cove

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Our week of sailing with my cousin and his family was a fantastic adventure!  After weathering a few crazy storms while moored in Red Brook Harbor, we sailed to Naushon Island, anchoring in idyllic Tarpaulin Cove.  Hannah and her cousin Sasha immediately jumped on a paddle board and made their way to the island in search of shells and sea glass.

Red Brook Harbor

Red Brook Harbor

DSC_0019 DSC_0096 DSC_0158I followed in the dinghy with camera in tow, capturing as many seabirds as possible before the sun went down.  DSC_0162 DSC_0200 DSC_0320 DSC_0251 DSC_0353The rest of the family joined us for a sunset dinner on the beach.  Above, my cousin Blake and his beautiful boat Calypso.DSC_0124 DSC_0303The next day, we sailed to Martha’s Vineyard where we spent a long, lazy weekend indulging in lobster rolls, ice cream, and our cozy bed at the Hob Knob.  And though we loved being back on land, our favorite moments of the trip were spent on Calypso and exploring Tarpaulin Cove.

Sailing Away

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Gay Head cliffs, Aquinnah

This Sunday, my daughter and I leave the boys behind and head east for a sailing trip with our Connecticut cousins.  We’ll make our way from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard, then spend a long weekend in Edgartown.  I’ve been eagerly anticipating this trip from the moment we planned it and can’t believe it’s actually here!  I’m dying for her to experience the thrill of sailing – crossing my fingers that she loves it as much as my sisters and I do.

Menemsha

Menemsha

Two summers ago, our family spent a week on the Vineyard and the trip was by far my favorite that we’ve had with the children (the photos shown are all from that trip).  At one point during a fishing excursion my son looked at me and said, “Mom, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so happy.”  And he was right.  You know you’re doing what you love when time slips away and your joy-filled soul has no room for worries.

Lucy Vincent Beach

Lucy Vincent Beach

My posts and photos from that trip are without a doubt my absolute favorites, so I am sharing them here, here, and here as many of you are new to the aesthete and the dilettante since I first posted them.  I hope you love them as much as I do.  I can’t wait to share with you what I discover this time around.  Until then, Happy Summer!

 

 

 

Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

 

DSC_0044 Isn’t this French kale beautiful?  I know, I know – the words kale and beautiful don’t normally sit side by side in the same sentence, but the dark green and purple all ombréd together and those perfect, rounded ruffles make it the ODLR of the vegetable world.DSC_0023I brought the above kale home from Elawa Farm’s garden market, tore it into bite sized pieces (which almost made me sad), massaged it with vinaigrette (yes, massaged it…we’ll get to that), and tossed it with ingredients that reside in just about everyone’s pantry.DSC_0212DSC_0237Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

serves 2 for a main course, 4 as a side

for the vinaigrette (makes 1 cup) –

  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

for the salad –

  • 1 bunch kale (any variety), center ribs removed and discarded, leaves torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, from a jar or home roasted, cut into strips
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted almonds, store bought or homemade (recipe to follow)
  1.  Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously until emulsified.
  2. Add torn kale leaves to a large salad bowl.  Pour 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette onto the kale leaves and massage with your hands for a minute or two until kale begins to soften (kale will wilt in a good way and lose its bitter edge).
  3. Add the sliced roasted bell pepper, chickpeas, and a tablespoon or two more of vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.
  4. Divide salad among plates and sprinkle with honey roasted almonds.  Pass extra vinaigrette at table.

Honey Roasted Almonds

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • big pinch kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together honey, oil and salt in a small bowl.  Add chopped almonds and stir to coat.
  3. Spread almond mixture evenly on baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes until nuts are light golden, stirring once during baking.  (Be sure to monitor nuts carefully – they burn in the blink of an eye!)
  4. Allow to cool completely.

DSC_0014This cheery bouquet of yarrow also came home with me…how could I resist?

 

Summer Lovin’

Happy Friday!  It feels like summer is finally here to stay, thank goodness.  Don’t you love how relaxed everything becomes, from the clothes we wear to the way we entertain?  The seasonal shopping bug bit me recently, so I thought  I’d share a few of my warm-weather discoveries.  Chill the white and cue the sunshine!Does anything say summer more than seersucker?  This tablecloth arrived on my doorstep today and I can’t wait to break it out for a casual al fresco dinner.gSKj6_1-86LOCm6hLDh_YVDKc2MEz3J5ge04TLAqVvZ4G4rPmejb7HfN5jo-aEsLP2HyiGSKKLJFiLHcaxs=s1100-cThese  oyster shell salt cellars will be the perfect finishing touch to your summer table.Juliska’s rope detailed wicker caddy  is weathered and vaguely nautical without being theme-y.My official drink of summer is well chilled Lillet Blanc with a slice of orange or plum.  It’s also fantastic over ice with a big splash of Pellegrino and a little splash of Grand Marnier. But I would advise against trying to quick chill your Pellegrino by putting it in the freezer then forgetting about it.  Why, oh why, did I not set a timer?!  If anyone knows how to undo this mess, I’m all ears.  Though it is keeping me out of the ice cream, so maybe I should leave it.  I’ll be cooking from this book all summer long.  The recipes are simple, delicious, and focus on ingredients from your garden (or farmers’ market).  The roasted cherry tomato and goat cheese dip was a huge crowd pleaser at our first summer get-together.

This bad boy was my Mother’s Day present (yes, I asked for it – it was not a vacuum-cleaner-for-Christmas type situation).  So far I’ve smoked a pork shoulder and baby back ribs, both of which were amazing, the first of which took over 8 hours (getting us to the table at 11:30pm).  Lesson learned.

This raffia bag has been on my shoulder every day since the weather turned warm.  Light weight, sturdy, and roomy, it is the quintessential summer bag.Speaking of bags, I literally did a happy dance when my monogrammed clutch and laptop case arrived in the mail.  Buttery soft and beautifully made, they are the essence of simple chic.  I love the summery, grass green (obviously) but it comes in over 50 colors, monogram optional.  And the price point can’t be beat!

I picked up this striped jersey maxi skirt for a song.  Super soft and flattering (even with the horizontal stripes), it will go over my swimsuit as a quick cover up, or out to dinner with a knotted-at-the-waist white button-down.  And it’s an extra 25% off the sale price online right now with code SUMMERTIME.Warm weather begs for a LWD, and this one can go from casual Saturday night barbecue to dressed up Sunday brunch.And finally, it wouldn’t be summer to me without hydrangeas.  I’ve had great luck with the Endless Summer variety – each year I plant them in big pots on our porch, then transfer them into the ground before the first frost.

Images 1-4, 7, 8,10 & 11 from corresponding highlighted retail sites; 5, 6 & 9 via me,  12 via Martha Stewart.

This Weekend: Bike Races, Food Trucks, and 16 Candles – The Glencoe Grand Prix

The forecast is 80 degrees and sunny for this Saturday’s 8th annual Glencoe Grand Prix!  Come to picturesque Glencoe for the bike races – both amateur and professional – and stay for the food and fun.  Or come for the food and stay for the races and fun.  One of the great additions to this year’s event is the presence of twelve food trucks, and the good news is: they’ll be around for the entire event.

Start the day by cheering on riders while noshing on doughnuts and biscnuts (a doughnut/biscuit hybrid…um, dying to try this) from Endgrain or gourmet egg sandwiches from Eastman Egg.  Before stopping by the highly popular kid races at noon, you can lunch on just about anything – Lillie Q’s barbecue, The Salsa Truck’s classic Mexican street food, Grill Chasers’ chicken, Tamale Spaceship’s authentic Mexican cuisine, or Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese from Chicago Lunch Box.  And don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with cupcakes and gelato from Flirty Cupcakes and Gelato Italiano!

Though you can visit any food truck at any time during the event, I’m planning to save Chicago Pizza Boss’s wood-oven pizza and arancini, Chubby Wieners’ hot dogs and fries, and gooey gourmet grilled cheese from Toasty Cheese (with gluten free options!) for my evening and late night meals.  I’ll need to pre- and post-dance carb load for the can’t miss 80’s cover band 16 Candles who will perform at the event-closing Block Party.  Don’t fret if you haven’t stepped foot on a dance floor since the actual 80’s – a beer from Goose Island or a glass of wine from The Bottle Shop in Wilmette will help you lose your inhibitions.

Click each link within the post to view corresponding food truck information and menus.  Prepare to get extremely hungry.

Click here for the full schedule of Glencoe Grand Prix events and here for a story I wrote two years ago on the history and evolution of the Glencoe Grand Prix and the event’s founder, Jon Knouse. 

The funds from the Glencoe Grand Prix directly support the Glencoe Schools and their technology initiatives.  Illinois Bone & Joint Institute is this year’s title sponsor.

Photo via the GGP website.