Exploring Tarpaulin Cove

Tarpaulin Cove Light

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

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.


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!




App Obsession: Waterlogue

Small plates and cocktails at a favorite New York spot, Buvette.

Last week my friend Domonique mentioned the app Waterlogue in her Friday Favorites post, so I had to check it out immediately.  Waterlogue miraculously transforms your photos into watercolor paintings with the click of a button.  Fair warning: I was up hours past my bedtime playing around and watching the magic happen.  The following are a handful of photos I converted from my travels and instagram roll to share with you.  It’s great fun to experiment with whatever you’ve snapped (who would have thought the above not-at-all-good photo would make such a charming “painting”?) but landscapes and photos with an inherent graphic quality seem to work best.

Grazing Belties in Wisconsin.
Grazing Belties in Wisconsin.
Little J in the powder, Telluride
Little J in the powder, Telluride
Hank in the study
Hank in the study
Vintage Land Rover, Vineyard Haven
Vintage Land Rover, Vineyard Haven
Apple picking, Wisconsin
Apple picking, Wisconsin
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Surprise catch, Vero Beach
Surprise catch, Vero Beach
View from a cottage porch, Menemsha
View from a cottage porch, Menemsha
Ladurée, UES
Ladurée, UES

Waterlogue is available through the App Store for $2.99.

Mid-Summer Green

This long, treacherous winter has me longing to skip spring altogether and jump into the warmth of a lazy mid-summer day.  I’ve been dreaming of green – not scattered shoots of crocuses or the chartreuse of emerging leaves, but vibrant swaths of treetop and grass so lush that it begs for bare feet.  Steinbeck wrote in Travels with Charley: In Search of America, “What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”  I predict this will be our sweetest summer yet.

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It’s Been Quite a Ride

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

I am ready to close the proverbial door on 2012.  Anyone with me?  It has been a year of great highs and lows both personally and globally, but glass half-full kind of girl that I am, I prefer to reflect on the moments worth celebrating.

One of the highlights of my year was launching this tiny little blog in January.  Talk about a learning curve!  Starting with the retelling of a crazy adventure that was too good to keep to myself, I dove head first into the blogosphere intending to share my, well, my love of life I suppose.  I leave the year much more tech savvy than I entered it and with a clearer sense of where I want the blog to go.  The new format (which I hope you have noticed today!) is part of that focus, and I look forward to bringing you more original images and content that take advantage of this clean, wide, streamlined layout.

my dressing room

February brought what continues to be my most widely read post.  From India to Indiana, it seems women everywhere are still searching for the perfect nude pump.

sleeping sails

Beautiful and unexpected weather visited Chicago in March, bringing runners and revelers to Lake Michigan months early.

 upside down chick

A visit to The Museum of Science and Industry on the last Saturday in April taught our family  a lesson about Perseverance.


In May I counted celebrating Mother’s Day with my mom as one of my greatest blessings.

mini carrot cakes

I also leaked her closely guarded carrot cake recipe.

sharpie triathlon tattoo hugs

Ah, June.  My first triathlon was a great high and horrible low all at once, and because of that I walked away with tremendous gratitude.  And exhaustion.  Thank goodness my little sister sharpied our  favorite expression on my arm before the race because I almost sank  and think it may have saved me!


sea turtle

A trip to Kiawah Island in July brought us close to creatures big and small.  Witnessing the journey from shell to sea for a group of loggerhead turtles is something I will never forget.

Lucy Vincent Beach


fishing nets

the bare essentials

Martha’s Vineyard in August was the best part of summer.  Exploring Lucy Vincent Beach, fishing with Captain Tom Langman, and wandering Menemsha were highlights of the vacation.


September brought autumn’s arrival.

apple picking

And October, a trip to the apple orchard in Wisconsin.


And my 40th.  Yes I’m fussing with my candles.

The Sartorialist

Fashion blogger and photographer Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist came to Chicago for a book signing in November.

peppermint bark

ginger cookies

Cookies and chocolate were all over December – just ask my poor neglected bathroom scale. Which brings us to the New Year.  Resolutions or no resolutions?  I’m already working on my list….

All images via the aesthete and the dilettante

The Casual Kennedys

I couldn’t help dreaming thinking about my girlhood crush while vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard last week.  Growing up, most girls were crazy over actors and rock stars, but it was John Kennedy Jr. who did it for me.  President Kennedy was equally swoon worthy, and his manner of casual, timeless dress is still pure perfection.  The men of today would be well served to adopt his off-duty style.

A Fishing Story

As we walked to the end of the creaky dock on Menemsha Harbor where Captain Tom Langman moors his no-frills Boston Whaler, I knew in my gut he was the man to take our family fishing. Weathered by years in the sun and covered with markings of boat grease and struggles with fish, I could see he’d spent a good portion of his life on the water.  He greeted us warmly and held out his hand to help us aboard, and after quick introductions asked what we wanted from our afternoon.  Our focus was definitely on a good catch, we said, but we also wanted a tour of the Vineyard and its surrounding waters from his perspective.

Sensing she was the most intrepid fisherman on the boat, he warmed to my daughter immediately.  And what endeared me to him most was that he never – despite her slight stature and young age – questioned her capability.  When the fishing rod belt was too big for her tiny waist, he didn’t balk at knotting it to fit her and letting her give it a go.

His instincts were dead on as she reeled in, with a bit of assistance, one of the biggest fish of the day.

Another thrill was my first catch of the day – a gorgeous, perfectly sized sea bass:

Maddeningly, a bluefish tore away its bottom half before I could get it in the boat! Needless to say, I didn’t feel guilty about this:

I hope he was the one who ruined my sea bass!

After reeling in more than we could possibly eat, Captain Tom cruised around the neighboring islands, docking on Cuttyhunk for a brief excursion.

He took us back by way of Buzzards Bay as we shared stories in the afternoon sun, dropping a line in the water from time to time.

Cruising into Menemsha Harbor, Tom suggested we offer our catch to one of the best restaurants up-island in exchange for dinner preparation for our family (we hauled in almost 30 pounds of fish, after all!).

In a truly unforgettable moment, we traipsed into the restaurant inn with windblown hair and salty sea skin, three giant fish in tow.  Not only did the chef agree, he seemed genuinely pleased and excited.  Grinning from ear to ear, we returned to our cottage for long showers and a rest.

From the oysters with creme fraiche:

to our bluefish stuffed with lemon and fennel, grilled and served family style with out of this world sides:

we delighted in not only the best meal of our trip but also the knowledge that the diners around us were being served the fish we caught.

This post is dedicated to my grandfather, Bob Fletcher, who would have been 97 years old today.  He taught me everything I know about fishing and much of what I value in life.

all photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

Perfectly Weathered in Menemsha

The beauty of Martha’s Vineyard undeniably exists among its sailboat-dotted seascapes, windswept grasses, and breathtaking sunsets. And while I’ve fallen hard for all of the above, it’s the quiet beauty whispering from the shores and shingles that has my heart completely.

all photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Sea Fever by John Masefield (1878-1967)

When I was a child, rather than read or tell stories at bedtime, my father would recite poems he had committed to memory.  John Masefield’s Sea Fever was always my favorite and it still resonates today.  Nothing makes me feel more fulfilled than being near the water, so I am giddy with anticipation as I pack and prepare for our trip to Martha’s Vineyard.  This vacation will be agenda-free and as laid back as they come.  Shouldn’t that be the only kind?

Image via pinterest