Transitional Territory

IMG_2590I don’t know about you, but I’m dying for Spring to really, really get here. Every time I step into my closet I try not to hate all my sweaters, black jeans and boots. Yeah…yeah…I’ll be happy to see them again next October, but right now I want to break out my sandals and slides, white jeans, t-shirts and more.

Last weekend we headed down to Baltimore to watch our son Chanler and his Blue Jay teammates play (and beat! in OT!!) UVA’s lacrosse team. Forget Spring, it felt like Summer with temps in the 80s and tons of sun. The next day was another story — damp, grey and down to the 50s and dropping. We had plans for a trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art and brunch with Chan, so I was happy I hadn’t completely succumbed to wishful weather thinking and packed some warmer options. Everything is this post is pretty much an oldie but goodie, and what I’ll still be reaching over the next few weeks. Think tried-and-true transitional pieces.

You can’t get more classic than a trench. And this versatile jacket-length version in black easily goes from dressed down to dressy, making it a go-to outerwear option Spring into Fall. I hadn’t planned on shooting a post and had no idea we would be seeing an exhibit filled with black-and-white art (I swear!), but my cashmere cold-shoulder yet cozy sweater (seen here) and ink blot skinnies (seen here) were kind of spot on (pun intended). Silver hi-top sneakers (seen here and here) are weekend (and workday) faves, because they’re just a bit bling-y but also stand up to cold and rain. This “splurge” shopper tote (seen here and here) has gone with me everywhere, every day. And it “goes perfectly” with my (proud) Parent’s Player Button, don’t you think?

IMG_2609IMG_2612(Oops on the bra strap. Sorry about that!)

IMG_2605IMG_2637IMG_2582Art you were actually encouraged to walk on…a first for me!IMG_2587Go Hop!IMG_2634

Trench: (old, London Fog) Similar here and here (on sale)

Sweater: (old, C for Bloomingdale’s) Similar here and here (on sale)

Jeans: (old, Zara) but like these and these

Sneakers: (old, Ash) but fun metallic options here and here

Tote: Balenciaga More affordable here and even more affordable here

All photos by Chris & MP Allegaert

Crunchy & Cheesy

IMG_2474Sometimes a spur of the moment cooking “experiment” turns into gastronomic gold. OK, slight exaggeration. But this side dish is definitely a winner on all fronts — taste, calories (approximately 235 calories per serving), nutrients.

For starters, have you discovered Cauliflower Crumbles? I just did! Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable filled with nutritional power: Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Fiber, and 20 calories per 3/4 cup, just to name a few. I don’t know about you, but washing and chopping a head of cauliflower is definitely not one of my favorite activities. It’s messy and time-consuming. These organic crumbles eliminate all that. And make making a multi-step side dish so, well not, multi. All I can say is that Chris was skeptical, and he loved it. And leftovers are even better!

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Ingredients (This was based on 4 servings as a side dish. Up the proportions as you need.)

Organic Cauliflower Crumbles, 2 Cups

Orrecietta (or other small pasta like Orzo, whole wheat preferred),  1 Cup

Mixed Organic Shredded Cheese (put @ 2 tbsp aside for topping), 2 Cups

Organic Unsalted Butter (I like Kate’s), 1 Tbsp

Salt & Pepper to taste (I used Himalayan Pink Salt and Multi Peppercorns)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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While you cook the pasta for @ 6 minutes (al dente!), microwave the cauliflower with 1/4 cup water for 3 minutes.

IMG_2446Drain cauliflower and pasta, then combine with cheese mixture, salt and pepper.

IMG_2455Pour into dish that has been basted with a bit of olive oil. I thought this fluted pie dish was perfect.

IMG_2461Pour in heavy cream.

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Sprinkle on reserved shredded cheese. And more pepper if you like. Even red pepper flakes.

IMG_2466Wrap dish in aluminum foil and bake covered for 20 minutes.

Unwrap and bake for another 15-20 minutes. (Check!)

IMG_2477IMG_2481We served with grilled marinated chicken breast and sauteed spinach. Yum.

Let me know if you try this recipe. Or any other ones you come up with for cauliflower crumbles!

All Photos by MP Allegaert

 

Pretty Little Spring Things

IMG_2386Spring is definitely in my dreams, if not quite in the air. Here in Jersey City we’re still waiting for all of Storm Stella’s now dirty snow to melt. But I love how much warmer the sun feels, how much longer it stays light outside. Don’t you?

In this post I’m sharing some of my favorite finds for Spring. I would love to have styled some head-to-toe looks with them, but it’s still just too darn cold. Because they are so special, at least to me, I’m pretty sure they will sell out fast. If they’re not exactly right for you, I do hope you’ll find some fun, pretty inspiration for your wardrobe.

But before I share, I have to thank Casa Mona for allowing me to shoot this post inside their jewel box of a flower and home decor shop. Designers Carlos Riva and Antonio Vieira are the co-owners of this new and not-to-be-missed JC spot. Not only do they have a rainbow selection of classic and unusual cut flowers and orchids, they also have the coolest cacti. Take your pick too of beautiful baskets, sleek vases, even treats and treatments for your pooch (we love their Harry Barker Oatmeal Shampoo for Bowie). They also stock coffee, jams and other delectables from Kerber’s Farm — a historic and recently restored farm in Suffolk County, New York. (Think great gifts.) And they’ll be heating up their state-of-the-art coffee service any day now. Go!

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IMG_2331IMG_2328Now this my kind of baseball hat! So, so pretty and it comes in S, M or L, which if you have a peanut head like I do is good news.

IMG_2384IMG_2359IMG_2358Ballet slipper inspired flats are a big trend for Spring. And these are pirouette-worthy as far as I’m concerned.

IMG_2377IMG_2379IMG_2381Don’t these earrings look like something a fairy would leave behind? And they’re light as a feather too. Good news for over 50 ear lobes!

IMG_2389IMG_2362IMG_2363Embroidered flowers, leafy tendrils and hummingbirds…I can’t wait  to wear this top. With a cami or tank underneath, of course.

IMG_2339IMG_2375IMG_2344As you can see, this gold-and-diamond bangle and matching ring (gifts from Chris) look beautiful anywhere…and everywhere. They are from one of my favorite jewelers. Details below.

IMG_2332IMG_2334My new favorite nail color, courtesy of the latest Rachel Zoe Box of Style. Mani Pedi, please!

IMG_2392And here’s Mona, Carlos and Antonio’s rescue chihuahua from the Dominican Republic and namesake of their new store. She’s snuggling with her big brother Diego. Precious!

IMG_2396IMG_2403IMG_2406And the picture-perfect roses I could not leave Casa Mona without. Love!

Baseball Hat: H&M (I could only find it in-store) but similar here and here

Ballet Flats: Zara (in multiple hues). As always, other must-have options here and here

Earrings: J Crew but check out these and these

Top: Zara, now in black but also like this and this

 Jewelry: Ginette NY bracelet and ring

Nail Polish: Piece of Cake by Butter but LOTS of delicious shades to choose from!

All photos by MP Allegaert

Old is the new New

IMG_2192I grew up in a classic PreWar apartment on Washington Square Park. Its black and white tile bathrooms with massive tubs still looked Pottery Barn cool when my Father died this past August. Chris grew up in a Turn-of-the-Century Colonial in Scarsdale, NY, which his parents meticulously restored over the many years they lived there. So while sometimes a “Gut Reno” is called for, preservation has its place too.

Our mountain log cabin was no exception. A kit house from Maine, it was built in the early 70s. Once we stopped gaping at its spectacular view, we explored inside. Not so pretty. Corners had been cut, bad design decisions abounded. BUT…the potential! Buying it would mean selling our (lovingly restored) suburban NJ home, paring down, keeping what we could for the cabin while moving to a modern apartment in Jersey City.

One of the best things that came out of this seismic change was what family heirlooms and well-loved antique/vintage finds we could repurpose in their new mountain abode. And how they made this new place feel like home. Of course we needed those rustic touches that would make it Adirondack-perfect, not “Adiron-dorky.” And I don’t mean taxidermy. That sent us on the hunt. The hunt for unique, well-loved, purposeful pieces that would enrich our new space and our new lives. With their age-old patina, their mysterious stories, their timeless beauty.

So…”treasure hunting” in the vintage and consignment shops of Northern NY has become a favorite time-together thing to do. And last weekend was no exception. Here’s what we found and why we just had to have them.

How handsome is this binocular and leather case set! We had been wanting binoculars to scan the mountains when we’re out on our porch. Chris spied these. Made in Germany in the 1930s, they were in perfect working order. The case has some worn leather, but that only adds to its charm. Asking price? $95. Chris offered $75 and was accepted. Way to go!

More from the 30s. This railroad lantern is just the perfect combination of color, form and finish. Originally kerosene was used to light it. We’ll be using faux votives inside. I can just see it out on our porch in the summer evenings ahead. Oh…and there was a cool yellow one we might just have to snag too. Priced at $44, we got a 10% discount because it was the same vender as the binoculars. Score!

IMG_2189This vintage Rudyard Kipling storybook was published in 1947. Since our son Pierre and his girlfriend April recently adopted a rescue cat they are training to walk on a leash, I couldn’t resist it. I’m encouraging them to frame the book jacket and keep the actual book around as a conversation piece. Happy to report they thought it was pretty cool.

As much as I love my fashion finds, this trove of untold stories and new stories to come somehow felt more satisfying. And meaningful.

If you’re (way) up North, here are our favorite places to peruse:

Plattsburgh NY

https://www.facebook.com/RedRoosterMrkt/ (source for everything from this post)

https://www.facebook.com/Antique-Variety-Mall-209243055772556/

http://www.furnitureanddecorny.com/

http://traderpetesny.com/home/2583451

Keene NY

https://www.facebook.com/thriftstoreadk/

All Photos by MP Allegaert

 

 

Wild Things

IMG_2204With Daylight Savings this past weekend, I was wishing Spring felt closer. (You hear that, Groundhog!) Up at our cabin, temps dipped below zero. Made for drinking wine and playing Scrabble by the fire but not for debuting any new “warmer weather” fashion. So…I pulled together a Best Of Look that features some of my favorite “wild things” pieces. Apologies to my PETA followers. I’ve included fur-free options for you too.

Winter weather update: Sadly we had to head back to reality (jobs!) on Sunday. So we missed 36 inches of powder! My (stress-fractured) knee has sidelined me from all impact activities, but I feel bad for my Black Diamond skier Hubs. Good news is…more snow coming! Keep ya posted!!

IMG_2206IMG_2264IMG_2210IMG_2221IMG_2226IMG_2231IMG_2251IMG_2234IMG_2248So OK this coat…it’s old (as in not as old as I am but 8, 10 years?), but I loved it the moment I saw it. The luxe shearling, the warmth (it was a balmy 15 degrees for these pics), the details. In short, it was special, and I had to have it. And all these years later I think it looks just as chic as when I first spotted it in Bergdorf’s.

Underneath, I kept it simple. Uniqlo HeatTech (are you sick of hearing about this amazing stuff?!?), cream cabled turtleneck, frayed hem jeans and my coziest, feel-like-slippers Uggs (no socks needed!). Finishing it off, rugged wool gloves, a fun magnifying glass necklace that comes in super handy when I forget my glasses (um…menus) and this super cute, super warm foxy beanie. You bet people comment on it.

I am so looking forward to sharing all my Spring finds with you, but for now cozy is the new cool.

Coat: (Tahari, old) Similar here and fur-free here (super bargain!!!)

Turtleneck: (Banana, last year) but love this and this

Jeans: (7 for all Mankind, sold out) but similar here and here

Beanie: (Kate Spade, last year) but how about this or this

Boots: Ugg,Chicaree (super sale!)

Gloves: (Woolrich, old) but love these

Necklace: Big Crow Trading

All photos by Chris & MP Allegaert

Five Supplements I Take Every Day

IMG_1740IMG_1744IMG_1729When it comes to my mornings, I’m happy to be a creature of habit. Sure I’ll go for eggs over easy,  crispy bacon and whole grain toast once in a while. But that’s a “brunch with friends treat” as far as I’m concerned. My typical AMs start with a cup of coffee and almond milk. I’ll have a second cup as I put together some version of a smoothie — my breakfast of choice (or champions?) for decades. No stress about what to eat and pretty much no mess. Smoothie in hand, I organize the five supplements I take every day. I truly believe they are essential components of my 50+ health and beauty regimen.

Probiotic: My favorite is Udo’s Choice Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotic. The high level of L. acidophilus in this formula helps maintain proper yeast balance in the body — super important in those post-menopause years. This is also an ideal supplement to bring along when you travel as it helps to maintain healthy flora (regularity, folks!) while away from home. Trust me, it does. Because probiotics are living organisms, their potency slowly decreases over time (2% per month) so it’s best to keep them refrigerated. (Tip: I store all of my supplements together on a lazy susan in the fridge.)

Calcium & Vitamin D3: I’m so happy I discovered Nova Scotia Organics. They use the highest quality organic ingredients and many are water-extracted from plant sources. Their Calcium & Vitamin D 3 is free from GMOs, fillers, synthetic or irradiated ingredients. As you know, I’m recovering from a stress fracture in my left knee, and my Orthopedist was relieved to hear I am taking this supplement. Again, a big boost in combatting possible bone density loss.

Glucosamine Chondroitin: Our joints absorb a lot of stress, especially when we exercise. I spent 20+ years taking ballet and modern dance, then switched to running, then switched to the elliptical, treadmill and brisk walking. Then throw in tennis, hiking and skiing.You get the picture. Decades later, my hips and knees just aren’t as young as they used to be! Glucosamine is a compound naturally found within the cartilage of our joints. For me that makes its cartilage-building properties a no brainer. It can also help lower pain and tenderness, plus combat inflammation. Something I also know about as someone who’s had Lyme Disease. These days, I’m liking Nature’s Bounty. They have an over 40 year commitment to making products with only the purest ingredients. No GMOs, artificial color, artificial flavor, artificial sweetener, preservatives, sugar, starch, milk, lactose, soy, gluten, wheat, yeast or sodium. I’ve even got Chris taking it, and he swears his joints feel better than ever too.

Tumeric: Found in a plant in the ginger family, Tumeric is a natural anti-inflammatory compound and can also increase the antioxidant capacity of your body. You may know it as the source of the orange-yellow tumeric spice commonly found in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. And while I really do like cooking with it, I know it’s made its biggest difference for me as a daily supplement — especially as I battled inflammation from Lyme Disease. These days I’m trying (and liking) Nature’s Lab Tumeric Curcumin with BioPerine.

Olly Undeniable Beauty for Hair, Skin & NailsThese almost-sugar-free (just 1 gram each!) grapefruit-flavored gummies are the cute, fun way to get your daily dose of Biotin, Vitamin C  and Borage Oil. Why this trio? Biotin is a powerful nutrient that helps your body metabolize fats and proteins — essential for the growth of healthy hair, nails and skin cells. Vitamin C is a key nutrient in the production of collagen, the protein which can contribute to your skin’s strength and “youthful glow.” And Borage Oil is the highest known potency for naturally occurring GLA — an omega 6 fatty acid. I can honestly say my hair, nails and skin all look noticeably better, healthier since I started taking these.

As always, you should consult your doctor before adding supplements to your daily diet, especially if you have any serious health concerns.

If you do try any (or all) of these, let me know what you think!

All photos by MP Allegaert

 

 

Cozy Does It

IMG_1931A few weeks back in February people were actually strolling around in sandals, shorts and tees and dining al fresco. Then March rolled in. It’s gotten chillier by the day, and while I’m dying to break out my favorite new Spring pieces, it’s still too soon to do it from head-to-toe. But…you can mix in the new (long cardigan, pom pom sneakers and white jeans) with cozier layers you already own (turtleneck sweater, cashmere beanie).

This look started with my new sneakers…which I am going to wear into the ground. The two-tone pom poms are so fun and the mix of grey suede and silver leather elevates them way beyond basic. I am already planning a look that pairs them with a metallic midi skirt and fun statement tee. This cardigan is an amazing transitional piece. It’s a simple, sophisticated silhouette that anyone can wear in a crazy soft wool-and-alpaca mix.  And I love that it has pockets too. As far as I’m concerned you can never have too many pairs of white jeans, especially since that old fashioned rule about no white after Labor Day has blessedly gone bye bye. These are a new flared leg style from Madewell that combines a higher waist (flattering and aaah inducing) with no visible pocket outlines. The distressed knees and frayed hem give them the fashion edge I was craving. But you can get them without those details, too.

As for the old, this beanie never feels old! And Swarovski crystals are the icing on top. They make me and everyone else who sees them smile. I can’t count how many times people have asked me about it…or even called me “Sparkles.” Is there anything more versatile than a grey turtleneck? Less severe than black, I think grey flatters every complexion and haircolor. This one has a super scrunchy neck which eliminates the need for a bulky scarf. I guess this clutch says it all. And I love that the screened design captures a close up of knit cables.

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Cardigan: Madewell (on sale but limited sizes) Also love this (sale) and this (super sale!)

Jeans: Madewell (I’m 5′ 8 1/2″ and ordered Tall so they weren’t too cropped)

Sneakers: Zara (And because the entire fashion world is crazy for pom poms, check out these and these pom pom charms to add to sneakers you already have!)

Beanie: (old) but similar here and here

Turtleneck: (old) but of-the-moment options here and here

Clutch: (old) but I’d snap up this and have snapped up this

All photos by MP & Chris Allegaert