Seeking Calm


This morning I escaped, slipping out the door in search of calm. When worry steals my breath, I often find it hidden in the trees, on the wings of birds, or waiting patiently for me along rocky shores. Where do you go when you need life to pour air back into your lungs? When you need a gentle reminder that the world is as big or as small as you allow it to be?


Morning light doesn’t always lend itself to capturing surroundings on film, but I took my camera and these images to remember the day’s journey. What I lost in perfect photographic lighting, I gained in solitude and song. The birds were singing praises to the sunlight, calling to each other as they searched for breakfast and each other. I heard a great blue heron’s wings beat against the water as it took flight, a robin’s tiny feet rustling through leaves in search of worms, the whistling upward trill of a glossy brewer’s blackbird. And as I listened to the smooth sound of rocks slipping against each other under the weight of my feet, I was reminded that this is not just their place, it is my place too, so long as I tread lightly and lovingly. Continue reading

Celebrating Four Years + Peeking Around the Bend


Four years ago, I created this space to share what inspired me. My first post was the account of a wildly fortuitous vintage shopping experience with my sister, and since that day I’ve covered everything from style and culture to love and loss through my words and my photography. The blog’s name, much to my dismay, elicited confused and quizzical responses, but my intention had been simple. I endeavored to say, in a succinct and self-deprecating way, that while I have great love and appreciation for this world’s beauty – from pristine waters and mountains to lovingly crafted plates of food – I am in no way an authority or expert, just a wanderlust-filled dabbler wanting to share it all with you.

My time here has been equal parts joy and catharsis. It has also bestowed upon me an unexpected gift: the act of putting pen to paper here (so to speak) has allowed me to discover what I am profoundly passionate about and given me the confidence to trade breadth for depth. 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.

Continue reading

The (Hand)written Word

During a recent bout of spring cleaning, I discovered a thank you note tucked deep in a drawer that my mother had written after celebrating her birthday at our home (we were celebrating my stepfather’s as well – they shared a birthday).  I remember the events she refers to in the letter as if they were yesterday, though it was written three and a half years ago.  As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, my passion for cooking was largely influenced by mother, and one of our favorite rituals was shopping for and preparing our Thanksgiving feasts together.  The Thanksgiving she was looking forward to in the note turned out to be the first that my daughter, then 8, helped us prepare start-to-finish, my mother patiently teaching her to make pie crust, stuffing, pumpkin custard, and corn pudding.  It also turned out to be the last we created together as she was too frail in her final years.

Had she e-mailed or phoned in the words, they would have been lovely and gracious as were most things she said, but they would not have carried the intimacy of the note in her hand.  I worry that in today’s world, with cursive dropped from curricula and e-mail replacing “snail mail” that the handwritten word, with all of its beauty and power, will be lost.  Touching a letter that has been touched, reading sentiments that have flowed from another’s pen, brings the writer’s voice and physical presence to the reader’s mind.  Handwriting, like laughter and cadence, is an utterly unique expression.

Write letters of love and notes of gratitude.  Sign all of the books you give as gifts.  Urge your children to do the same.  Someday they will be grateful that you did.

Dear Wendy,
Thank you and Tim for such
a lovely birthday celebration for
David and me.  Cocktails, music,
food and family – what more could
anyone want?  And our gifts –
you are far too extravagant my
dear, but we love them.  I am
listening to jazz as I write this.*

We are looking forward to
Thanksgiving – what a fine
group we shall have.  I do
think I will most enjoy our
time together Wednesday and
Thursday morning.

Til then –

L,L,L – M.

*We shared a great love of jazz so I had purchased an iPod, loaded it with her favorite artists, and given it to her with a Bose player so she could take it from family room to porch – her two favorite places.





True Love

Last Sunday, my fifteen year old son Will hugged me goodbye and took off for an evening bike ride as I cleaned up the last of our Easter dishes.  I don’t know what made me look at the clock when he left, but I remember being pleased that the sun was still shining so late in the day.  Minutes then turned into hours, and as the sun dipped below the horizon line my panic level rose.  He had, at that point, been gone for over two and a half hours, had left without a helmet or identification, and his phone was going straight to voice mail.  My mind flew from believing he would walk in the door at any minute to sickening thoughts of him lying unconscious in the dark (or worse) .  And just as my husband unearthed his bike from the garage to search for him, he came home.

The sobs that erupted from my chest startled both of us.  I hugged him tighter and longer than I had in ages, and, for a moment, I think he truly understood the depths of parental love.  He surprised me as well.  I expected him to laugh at my outpouring of emotion, but instead he reassured me that he would never scare me like that again.  If only he could keep that promise.

He has grown from little boy to full-fledged teen in the blink of an eye.  I can’t believe it’s been almost a decade since I ran behind him holding onto the seat of his two-wheeler!  Letting go of that bike and watching him speed away was the first time I recall thinking I wouldn’t be able to shield him from danger forever.  But I am so proud of the fine young man he has become, and have confidence in the choices he will make to keep himself out of harm’s way.

Below is the eloquent letter John Steinbeck wrote to his teenage son, Thom, after learning he had fallen in love.  While away at boarding school, Thom wrote to his father and step-mother seeking advice regarding his feelings for a girl named Susan.  Steinbeck’s response brims with thoughtfulness, wisdom, and honesty, as well as respect and love for his son.  The words have always stuck with me (that beautiful last line!), but they returned in a meaningful way this week while thinking about how I will maintain a strong, steadying presence in Will’s life as he transitions into adulthood.  I can’t hold onto his bike seat forever.

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



*from Steinbeck: A Life in Letters

Necessary Luxuries


DSC_0062 Happy Monday to you!  Though I’m sad to say goodbye to this weekend filled with family, friends and gorgeous weather, the bouquet I put together for our Easter celebration will make me seriously happy all week long.  Fresh flowers are on my list of necessary luxuries, along with: Friday night sushi, traditional Sunday dinners at home, the exquisite custom letterpress stationery my friend Amy created for me, runs by the lake, coffee dates with friends, and a handful of embarrassingly expensive hair and skin care products.  Do you have any little luxuries you hate to live without?   DSC_0066 DSC_0071photo 3

The Aesthete and the Dilettante Featured in Forest & Bluff

I was absolutely delighted that the aesthete and the dilettante was featured in the April issue of Forest & Bluff Magazine!  A huge thank you to Ann Marie Scheidler, the editorial director of Forest & Bluff, for writing such a kind and thoughtful article.  It’s an honor to be on the pages of a magazine I truly love!  To read the article, click here.

above photo by Jim Prisching from Forest & Bluff article

Welcome, 2014! I’ve been waiting for you.

photoOur family closed 2013 skiing with close friends in Northern Michigan where subzero windchills kept all but diehard skiers off of the slopes.  The cold may have prevented us from spending the entire day outside, but paired with a new-fallen blanket of snow, it brought the gift of quiet which was almost as beautiful as the landscape.  And it made après-ski feel like heaven!

Wishing everyone a serene entry into the New Year.  May we all resolve to love hard, live in the moment, and surround ourselves with those who bring us joy.  If 2013 taught me anything, it’s that we only get to do this once.  xo

Weighing Anchor

DSC_065841.  A seemingly inconsequential birthday, no?  With zero expectation (or desire) for the grandeur of a 40th fete, and feeling 50 to be lightyears away, I wasn’t looking forward to it, nor was I dreading it as I had 40.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Celebrating 41 was of little importance, but I was looking forward to letting go of my 40th year.  In the weeks preceding my birthday, I’d begun compiling two lists in my mind: one with the parts of my life in need of acceptance (e.g. that I finally need reading glasses, that I frequently choose Chet Baker over Maroon 5 on Pandora and always Castle over Breaking Bad on tv, and that aging will happen regardless so gracefully is the only option) and the other of places where I really need to let go (those I’m keeping close to the vest).  But this loose, impromptu life assessment became a little daunting, so I put pen to paper for clarity’s sake.

As the lists grew and their contents moved from light to serious, I realized the significance of the pages in front of me.  I was mentally weighing anchor.  Readying my mind and soul for the second half of life’s journey and pulling anchor from the murky floor of my first.  This realization was scary because I feared the emptiness, but as I thought it through and saw what it truly was – a resolution to clear out physical belongings and heavy mental clutter – I felt lighter, not emptier.  My intention is to carry with me only what will shape this second leg into one of wisdom, acceptance, gratitude and love.

When I unwrapped the birthday gift from my family I could not believe the coincidence of what laid inside: a delicate gold anchor necklace, making my 41st the most meaningful and significant yet.

Summers to Remember

644_1108542276121_1303757050_330342_5091_nAnother summer has come to a close.  Looking back over the years, I am most nostalgic for the summers spent sailing with my grandparents in Canada.

My sister Kathy, Grandpa, and me at the helm circa 1976.
My sister Kathy, Grandpa, and me at the helm circa 1976.

  Our journeys always began in Penetanguishene, Ontario, where we would gather provisions and fish from the docks while our grandfather readied our boat, Mañana.  Our grandmother would stow bags of buckwheat flour, baskets of oranges for juicing and eating, peanut butter, honey, homemade bread, and cornmeal for crusting and frying catches of the day.  Milk was stored in the freezer (so delicious with its icy shards when paired with our peanut butter and honey sandwiches!) along with emergency meals for the days we hooked nothing but bottom.

Kath with our grandparents.
Kath with our grandparents.

Leaving port was always filled with excitement!  When the lines that bound our boat to the dock cleats were tossed on deck and bumpers were hauled aboard, we would motor out of the marina onto Georgian Bay.  I remember the smell of Manana’s diesel engine and the eager anticipation of cutting the motor and unfurling her sails.   How I loved watching land drift further and further away until it was out of sight!  This meant there was no turning back and I could finally enjoy the thrilling juxtaposition of our boat’s intimate quarters against sailing on open, unprotected waters.

Kathy in the hammock  and our cousin Robin on the canoe, soaking up sunshine.
Kathy in the hammock and I on the canoe, soaking up sunshine.

We sailed during the day, passing time with backgammon matches, boat songs and turns at the helm, then anchored at night, staying a day or two in one of the protected coves my grandparents had named after each of their grandchildren.  The moments of navigating our boat through the narrow, rocky passage ways to reach our secret coves were often fraught with tension.  I recall being confused at how they could yell at each other while anchoring but then be so calm and loving afterward.  They contended that it wasn’t “yelling” if you were on a boat – it was simply “speaking with urgency.”

Days were filled with blueberry picking (for my grandmother’s buckwheat pancakes), fishing, swimming, canoeing, exploring, and napping or reading in the bow hammock.  After dinner we would play cards or tile rummy and look over the next day’s nautical charts.  Many nights ended with time in the cockpit marveling at the stars while our grandfather taught us constellation names.  Their brilliance against the black of night is something I still dream of today.

Fishing with my grandmother.
Fishing with my grandmother.
Kath and our mom with Northern.
Kath and our mom with Northern.

Baths were taken in the bay with a bar of Ivory, chosen for its inability to sink.  I can still feel the cold water inching up my legs as I eased down our boat’s ladder.  If the temperature was unbearable, my grandmother would pour buckets of water into the dinghy and let the sun warm it before washing our hair.

Braving the cold Canadian waters for a quick dip!
Braving the cold Canadian waters for a quick dip!
A dinghy bath.  It's the only swimsuit I remember her wearing!
A dinghy bath. It’s the only swimsuit I remember her wearing!

Every trip had a different crew, with parents, cousins, and my Aunt Sally all taking turns.

Clockwise from top left: Robin, Kathy, Rod, and me, rocking the Jordache sweatshirt circa 1983..
Clockwise from top left: Robin, Kathy, Rod, and me, rocking the Jordache sweatshirt circa 1983.
Canoeing with my cousin Rod.
Canoeing with my cousin Rod.

Save for one year, Kathy was always with me.  I can close my eyes now and see her curled up in a sleeping bag with a book on her favorite starboard bunk.  She cherishes those summers just as I do, and we dream of returning, together with our families, someday.

Kath and me.
Kath and me.

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