Wasted on the Way

photo

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

DSC_0619

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

Summer Sailing: Casco Bay’s Jewell Island

Our much anticipated summer sailing trip has come to a close. My daughter Hannah and I have returned home, exhausted yet exhilarated, with sun-kissed cheeks, giant seashells, and cameras full of images merely touching on the rocky coastal beauty of our Maine to Boston adventure. After an abysmal start to our trip (we arrived at O’Hare only to find that the American Airlines agent had booked us on a flight to Portland, Oregon not Portland, Maine – and yes, I am POSITIVE I specified Maine on the phone), our frustrations melted away the moment we stepped foot on our cousins’ beautiful boat, Calypso (see last year’s sailing trip here). We sailed the following morning to Jewell Island, one of the outermost in Maine’s Casco Bay, anchoring in the harbor known as Cocktail Cove.

Little Jewell Island, just west of Jewell Island.

Little Jewell Island, just west of Jewell Island.

We rowed Calypso’s dinghy ashore that afternoon, and hiked the steep rock wall to trails that led us through the forest, past abandoned World War II Military towers (we climbed to the top of one and peeked through the lookout windows), and down to the Punchbowl, a massive tide pool brimming with marine life.

DSC_0811 DSC_0622 DSC_0602 DSC_0781 DSC_0620 DSC_0626

Magnificent sculptural roots of a fallen tree.

The magnificent sculptural roots of a fallen tree.

DSC_0677 DSC_0633

Hannah, Blake and Sasha hiking on Cove Trail.

Hannah, Blake and Sasha hiking on Cove Trail.

This World War II tower looked like something straight out of The Hunger Games.

This World War II tower looked like a structure straight out of The Hunger Games.

Exiting the woods down to the Punchbowl.

Exiting the woods down to the Punchbowl.

DSC_0752 DSC_0703 DSC_0718 DSC_0735 DSC_0760

We emerged from our hike to find we had the harbor almost entirely to ourselves. The evening was spent on board, enjoying some of the best lobster we’ve ever had (my cousin’s wife, Dunja, is an extraordinary cook) and watching the blue moon rise.

Calypso

Calypso

DSC_0826 photo 3 DSC_0862

DSC_0880

Celebrating Independence Day

IMG_2401

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.

This year I will celebrate Independence Day with a great reverence for all who protect this nation and make our freedom possible. The holiday falls on the heels of last week’s trip to Washington DC where I toured Arlington National Cemetery and the United States Capitol Building with my sister and her husband Michael, both Navy Commanders. Michael currently works on the Hill, and took us onto the House floor from where Presidents address the nation and votes are cast that can change, and have changed, our world. I imagined FDR standing in that very spot on December 8, 1941 giving his Pearl Harbor Address:

And remembered President Bush at the podium as he addressed our nation in 2001 following the attacks of 9/11:

DSC_0297

A detail from The Old Senate Chamber.

DSC_0276

Constantino Brumidi murals in the Senate hall.

You cannot stand in that room, walk the halls of our capitol, and not be grateful for this extraordinary country of ours. Immersed in the flurry of activity that is DC, it struck me that for every politician who makes a mistake and withers from his or her own human fallibility, there are thousands who work behind the scenes and damned hard to protect and maintain the life we all live.

Murals, here and below, in the old Naval Affairs Office, now the Senate Appropriations Room.

Murals, here and below, in the old Naval Affairs Office, now the Senate Appropriations Room.

DSC_0289 DSC_0302

Even more awe inspiring was our walk through the 600-acre Arlington National Cemetery, where over 300,000 have been laid to rest, including JFK and Bobby Kennedy. We placed flowers on the grave of Michael’s close friend and Naval Academy classmate, watched the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, and walked for miles taking in the enormity of our surroundings.

DSC_0177

Near President Kennedy’s grave and overlooking the Pentagon, a quote from his 1961 Inaugural Address.

DSC_0198

DSC_0182

DSC_0185

DSC_0190

Washington Monument through the trees of Arlington.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

DSC_0210Happy 4th of July to you and yours.

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

IMG_0238

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.

IMG_0325

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.

IMG_0243

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.

IMG_0311

IMG_0259

IMG_0256

IMG_0308

IMG_0274

IMG_0287

IMG_0299

IMG_0342

IMG_0321

IMG_0328

IMG_0330

IMG_0341

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