Black & Grey Color Blocking

img_9272Hopefully “mess” is not the message you get from this outfit. Grey, in all its nuances, happens to be one of my favorite shades. It looks great combined with almost any other color, in particular brown, navy and, of course, black.

I played with textures and proportion to keep things interesting. Like pairing a boxy wool jean style jacket with a knit trumpet skirt. You’ll see that the black “cold shoulder” cashmere turtleneck underneath is anything but basic and helps take this outfit from casual to chic in a sec. I originally bought my cutout black booties last Spring, but layering opaque black tights underneath makes them winter wearable. Finishing touches: an embellished beanie and monogrammed Signet crossbody bag.

I hope to get one last 2016 post in tomorrow, but thank you all so much for helping to launch Life’s a Spritz…and liking, commenting and following. Let’s see where 2017 takes us. Cheers! MP

img_9322img_9291img_9297img_9415img_9316img_9504img_9503

Jacket: (old, Gap) but like this and this…and both are on sale!

Skirt: (Ann  Taylor, sold out) but great options here  (40% off with code SHOP40) and here (extra 60% off)!

Sweater: C by Bloomingdale’s (5-% off!)

Crossbody: J. Crew and you can customize in so many ways.

Beanie: (old, Club Monaco) but I’d snap up this…on sale and extra 40% off!

Lace-up Booties: (old, Asos) but affordable alternative here and extravagant one here.

Tights: Zara and my new faves!

All photos by Chanler & MP Allegaert on iPhone 6.

Christmas in the City

img_92492016 sure has been quite the year. Amidst a slew of music and art icons passing away, a wild and contentious political scene, worldwide terrorism and tragedy, I hope you’ve also enjoyed some joyful surprises, good health, successes on every front, loving family and friends. I for one am going to hold onto my wish for peace for everyone, everywhere as we head into 2017.

Even though it’s a little worse for the wear, I am always happy to hang this vintage greeting. Now that we’re living in an apartment, the front door was the perfect spot. In our city place, I take a much more streamlined approach to holiday decorating. I still want that magic mix of sparkle and schmaltz, but I also love the clean lines and flow of our open plan space and don’t want to overdo.

I think I reached a good balance that’s fun for a few weeks but also easy to pack up and stow away in an hour or two. Hope you enjoy our holiday scene!

img_9198

Entryway organization with some sparkle, stars and a reindeer.

Cheers to a very Cocktail Christmas!

Pillows from Target and Pottery Barn are affordable decorative updates, add a celebratory and comfy touch, and easily stow away in Ziploc Space Bags until next year!

Cozy up for some conversation.

img_9244

Love this view at night. Can you see the Freedom Tower?

Bedeck the Living Room bookcase.

img_9236Let’s eat!

Santa and Buddha meet amidst greenery, berries and votives.

img_9203Don’t forget your doorknobs…

All Photos by MP Allegaert on iPhone.

Is it Soup yet?

img_9153Brrr. It’s cold outside.  So as far as I’m concerned it’s time for soup. “Tasty” inspired this recipe, and since I was missing a few ingredients I ad-libbed a few of my own. What I can say…delicious. Hope you enjoy!

img_9002img_8997img_9008img_9015img_9020img_9023img_9026This Curried Butternut Squash Soup is really pretty simple to prepare. I’m giving you proportions so you can adjust to how many you are cooking for. Seriously, it’s so good I suggest you make more than you think you need and refrigerate or freeze. You won’t be sorry!

Ingredients:

2-3 Butternut Squash Soup (you will have to adjust other ingredients based on this)

2-4 scallions

3-5 cups Vegetable Broth

1 Tsp Curry Powder

4 Cardamon Seeds (or 1/2 tsp Powder)

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Ginger

Saffron (optional)

Fresh Ground Pepper  Salt (I used Kosher)

Olive Oil

For topping: Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds

 

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I prefer organic).

Wash, dry and peel 2-3 Butternut Squash.

Slice squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, then cut into chunks.

Scatter on parchment lined baking sheet.

Peel scallions, then add to baking sheet.

Sprinkle squash with spices (you can adjust to your preferences) and Olive Oil, then mix together by hand. (Yes…you will need to wash your hands with soap and the blade of a stainless steel knife to get rid of smell!)

If you have Saffron, sprinkle a few threads over squash as well. Great for color!

Drizzle scallions with olive oil.

Sprinkle both with freshly grated pepper and salt.

Bake in oven for @ 30 minutes or until soft when pricked with a fork.

Once ready, let cool for about 10 minutes..so you can handle.

Scrape Squash, Cardamon Seeds  and Scallion into blender (or food processor).

Add Vegetable Broth, beginning with 2 cups and then to your desire thickness.

Either transfer to pot and simmer on stove or store and reheat when ready.

If simmering stovetop, lower oven to 350 degrees and put Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds into baking dish and toast for @ 7 minutes. Then sprinkle on hot soup.

I also treated myself to one piece of toasted and buttered sour dour bread. Think this might be my “Go To” winter soup. Hope you enjoy!

 

 

Black & Camel Combo

img_8923A wee bit tired of black and white as your go-to look? Think about combining black and camel. For me, it’s a warmer palette that’s especially flattering to every skin tone. This bell-sleeved peplum sweater is one of my favorite purchases of the season, so that’s where I started. To balance out its fitted and flared silhouette, I paired it with black skinnies. These have patched pleather knees which gives them a bit more of a fashion edge. For accessories, I chose my beloved and oh-so-plush personalized cashmere scarf, a teeny (but it still holds your phone, keys, lipstick and credit card/cash) bucket bag (note to self: ring handles are “it”) and leopard print booties. And let’s not forget Bowie, the ultimate Black & Camel combo!

img_8529img_8658img_8871img_8710img_8709img_8786

Sweater: Ann Taylor (40% off, in sweet kiss and pepper grey too!)

Jeans: (old, J Brand) but fun and affordable options here and here

Scarf: Burberry (worth the splurge or start dropping “all I want for Christmas” hints now!)

Bonsai Bucket Bag: Simon Miller but love this and this, too

Booties: (old, Loeffler Randall) but available in black. If you’re after leopard (and I always am), check out these and these

All photos by Chris & MP Allegaert on iPhone 6.

Christmas at the Cabin

 

img_9033We spent this past weekend up at our cabin with Christmas decorating topping my “To Do” list. Since we’ll arrive Christmas Eve day, I wanted everything up and ready to welcome our Boys. We were also invited to a lovely holiday party at one of the historic Adirondack Camps in Keene Valley. So not all work and no play!

I’ve collected A LOT of decorations since we bought our first home in 1993. When we downsized from a rambling Victorian where I decorated every room, I had to pare back and pick what would work in the city and what would work in the country. I’ve also got boxes (and boxes!) stored in a dear friend’s basement. That’s a 2017 resolution. I like to group like things — Santas, snowmen, angels, nutcrackers — in obvious and unexpected places. And I love remembering the stories they tell us every time we unpack them.

Since Home is where the Hearth is, we’ll start there…

img_9074

img_9073img_9075img_9042img_9031

Santas, Santas everywhere…nestled on beams, standing sentry. LOVE our Jamaican Santa complete with Red Stripe.

img_9137img_9144img_9140

img_9100img_9053img_9055

Snowmen line the stairs to the loft and greet you at the front door.

img_9047img_9048img_9099

Dining a la Glow!

img_9113img_9116img_9123img_9133

Sprinkle sparkle, magic and love in little ways.

img_9068

img_9071img_9064img_9066img_9062img_9081img_9058

Since we travel back and forth I can’t keep a real evergreen watered. Not to mention we can just look out our windows and see a mountainside of them! The solution? A lovely pre-lit faux birch tree from one of my local favorite’s Big Crow Trading, complete with woodland creatures and acorn ornaments.

img_9106img_9109img_9110-1

Every cabin needs a jingle bell on the front door and a welcoming bench for taking off snowy boots.

img_9093img_9147

I probably drive Chris crazy with my once a year holiday soundtrack, but it really puts me in the mood and makes the whole process, well, perfect.

Wishing you peace, love and happiness!

Sweet & Savory

img_8146img_8034img_8015img_8021img_8027img_8044img_8049

After years of traveling around the globe as the daughter of a USMC officer and then settling in Norfolk VA, my mother’s years in the South must have influenced her approach to Thanksgiving. We never had mashed potatoes, always sweet. Even in NYC! And today sweet potatoes continue to be a signature, and in demand, dish at our Thanksgivings.

Nutritionally there are so many good things about Sweets: they are one of Nature’s unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene, have a superior ability to raise our levels of Vitamin A (great for kids!), and are rich in Vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B6 plus Manganese, Biotin, Potassium and fiber.

I often eat a baked Sweet with a brushing of unsalted butter, salt and pepper for lunch. Yum. However, I did research the healthiest way to prepare them and boiling them does lower glycemic levels. I have baked mine in the past, and this year boiled. Think I might swap the lower glycemic for roasty, toasty flavor next year. Either way, Sweets are a winner.

For my family, this is not just a Thanksgiving dish. We have them all the time. They’re great with roast pork tenderloin (bbq marinade) or chicken (tandori marinade). Let me know what you think!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

6-10 Sweet Potatoes (I double the number of people served)

Organic Brown Sugar, to taste ( don’t go crazy…1/4 cup…)

3/4 stick unsalted butter (to taste, go for it if you want)

Tsp of Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Nutmeg (freshly ground best!)

1/2 tsp Ground Ginger

1/2 tsp salt (or 4 twists of freshly ground)

1/2- 3/4 tsp pepper (or 6-8 twists)

2 shots of Bourbon

Optional: 1/4 cup Organic Heavy Cream (not shown)

 

Wash and dry Sweet Potatoes.

If baking, have oven preheated to 400 degrees, prick holes in one side (up) and place on middle rack in oven. If boiling, place all potatoes in large pot, cover with water and boil. They’re ready when a fork sinks in, @ 25 minutes but you do need to check.

Remove from oven or drain from pot.

Let cool enough to touch, slice in half lengthwise.

Scoop flesh out of skin and place in large mixing bowl.

If potatoes have cooled too much, melt butter. If not, add all the ingredients into bowl and mash away. But not too much! My family likes them kind of rough and rustic. Of course, it’s up to you.  Here’s where you can add heavy cream as well.

For Thanksgiving, I try to make these a day or two ahead and store in fridge. But whenever you’re ready to serve, lightly butter (or spray with canola oil) a baking dish, spread in potatoes, then put in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. I’ve thought about it and haven’t done it, but I bet these would be delicious dotted on top with some marshmallows.

These are also great leftover, especially if you have some roasted brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce on hand. Enjoy!

See below for Vegan ingredients…same steps.

img_8038

 

 

 

 

 

Fitted, Flare & Faux

img_8365-1img_8250img_8439img_8369img_8306img_8303

img_8454img_8522Despite being December it was sunny and almost 50 degrees when we shot this post, so I opted to go coat-less. Not so a few hours later.

I absolutely love this sweater (and its shade name: Sweet Kiss). Also bought it in camel (upcoming post). If I didn’t have so many grey sweaters, I would have bought that too. Might still do, because it’s on sale! The bell sleeve and peplum silhouette are the perfect balance to fitted denim. Since I cut and frayed the hem on these, I didn’t think I could brave the weather in just sandals. Thank goodness every superstar blogger has shown me the geek chic of adding black socks. Not kidding! It works!! And with these black sandals it’s almost a bootie effect. How cute is the faux fur trim? I would wear these (sans socks!) with cropped tuxedo pants and a fun top to a holiday party.

The multi-hued faux fur stole appears to be sold out, but you can still get it in some luscious colors. It is so cozy, soft and fun to wear. Last but definitely not least, I’m crushing on this ultra-luxe metallic leather mini bag. My Cyber Monday treat. Here, I’m carrying it as a top handle, but it also comes with a removable crossbody strap. It too will be making the party rounds this season….and beyond.

Sweater: Ann Taylor (40% off with code PARTY40!)

Jeans: (Seven, old & DIY) but like these and these (As usual Zara is killing it with a phenomenal, and phenomenally affordable, selection of denim.)

Stole: Ann Taylor (40% off with code PARTY40!)

Sandals: Zara. These are fab too!

Bag: Stuart Weitzman (40% off too!)

All photos by Chris & MP Allegaert on iPhone 6.