Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fewer and Better Things

I've recently discovered the brand CUYANA. They make beautiful, quality things and their entire philosophy is about having fewer, better things. It's easy to lose sight of that during this insane season with constant bombardment of sales but I'm really striving to make that my goal this holiday season. Things I bought because they were on sale that aren't perfect are going back and I'm searching for meaningful, personal items. My favorite part about Cuyana is something they call "Lean Closet" it's described on their website in the following way"

Lean Closet

With every Cuyana purchase where you select "lean shipping" at checkout, we will send you a reusable bag to fill up with items that aren’t helping you live your most beautiful life. You mail the bag back to us (with the included shipping label) and through our non-profit partner, H.E.A.R.T., your donated clothing will be given directly to women who will be able to gain fresh starts through your generosity. As an added bonus, for every donation you make, you will receive a $10 credit towards your next Cuyana purchase. It's about doing more with less in our closets — and doing more for others who are in need.

That's a philosophy I can get behind. I haven't bought anything yet but they are on my list!

Monday, December 7, 2015


If there is one thing I love, it's plaid and plaid scarves are my especial weakness. I snapped this beauty up at J Crew today and it was only about $40 with free shipping using the code Monday. I am always cold this time of year due to an auto immune syndrome that decreases circulation in the cold so I wrap up all the time! The best part is that I don't find this scarf to be overly "holiday" the way some are. The red Stewart pattern in particular feels very "Christmas" to me. Lot of heavy wear in December, not so much the rest of the year but I can see this one getting some mileage. Most of my wardrobe is navy and dark green anyway so what could be better? I'm thinking about taking it to my local trophy shop that does monograming and having my monogram put on in pink to match that stripe. Cute yes?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Getting (and staying) in the Mood

One of the things I sometimes struggle with during the build up to Christmas is the expectation that everything will be perfect. The kids will get along, nothing will blow up at work, my house will be perfectly decorated and clean. That kind of expectation can be hard to live up to.  We are going to my mom and dad's this year. My fathers has Alzheimer's and this may be his last Christmas where he's really there, if you know what I mean. I'm trying hard this year to focus on the simple things that make it feel like Christmas. If I don't get matching pajama pants made for all the kids, that will be ok. Holiday music, my family, hot chocolate and flannel pajamas! That's my formula. Any times for surviving holiday stress?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Spiked Hot Chocolate!

Now that we are safely in December and can put away our pumpkin lattes, it's time for spiked hot chocolate! When I was in college in Connecticut, my parents always came to NYC in December for a business meeting my dad attended. I'd take a few days and stay with them at the Plaza, shop and got to a show. One night at the Marriot in Times Square, I ordered something called a Stage Coach. It was hot chocolate, Baileys, peppermint schnapps topped with whipped cream and  stirred with a candy cane. Put simply, it was heaven. I recreate it every year. Delish has several yummy sounding hot chocolate recipes up right now but as always, the peppermint hot chocolate is my favorite. Sound yummy? Which one is your favorite?


  • 1/4 oz. Peppermint Schnapps
  • 1/2 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
  • 1 c. hot chocolate
  • Whipped cream, for serving
  • Crushed peppermint candy, for serving


  1. Add peppermint schnapps, chocolate liqueur, and hot chocolate to a sauce pan. Heat mixture then add to serving glass.
  2. Garnish with whip cream and crushed peppermint candy.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Now the Christmas Season May Merrily Commence!

I've been steadfast in waiting to leap into Christmas cheer until after Thanksgiving. I do love Thanksgiving and fall/harvest themes and decorations so I like to savor them. Now, however, it is time to usher in December and go full out holiday. I love this picture from a long gone J Crew and if you have followed me for a while you will know that I post it every year. I have the same coat in red and still love it. It just radiates Christmas cheer. Are you ready?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Ugly Item of the Season Winner!

Ding, Ding, Ding! We have a winner for the ugliest item of the holiday season. I give you the J Crew sequin buffalo checked pants.

I don't even know where to start with these. Elastic waist, cotton, dry clean only. And at $248 it's not even cheap and ugly. I like some sparkle and bling at the holidays, who doesn't? But if I showed up in these, my family would die of laughter.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wearing the Pants

I know I have posted about some of the recent wardrobe changes I have made given my foot issues and the need to only wear flat shoes. I've trended to slim ankle pants with either pointed toes flats or loafer inspired shoes. I have some great picks to share below. Apologies for the small pictures.
 These are the Lands End Slim Legged wear to work pant. Beautiful navy wool pattern, 29 inch inseam and great quality. The rise is about an inch higher than I tend to like but not so much that I feel like I'm wearing granny pants. I live in Northern California so these are likely to be a year round pair of pants for me.
 Both these red pants above and black watch plaid ones below are also from Lands End. They are the mid rise wool pant. Fully lined and the kind of quality you don't see everyday any more. I went with the red ones because I have a pair of black watch plaid wide legged wool pants from the long past J Crew days of splendor than I wear at Christmas time. Adding another pair seems sort of redundant because they feel like the kind of pants you can only wear in December. But I'm really tempted and maybe I can work them into January in this shape? Stay tunned

This red pair is from Talbots and looks fun but very limited to the holidays. I think I'd go black watch plaid before I went with these but they could be a contender in the right context.
Any good pants in your life this year?

Monday, November 16, 2015

What a big family looks like

Now, my husband comes from a big family. He is the youngest child of 9. My kids are numbers 16, 17 and 18 in the list of grandchildren. It's a huge difference from my family where there is just my sister and I and my three kids plus my sisters 2. My kids are also the youngest of the grandkids. Most of them are grown up and starting to get married. This picture was taken just recently at one of the cousins weddings.

 This one is all of the original kids and spouses with my mother in law. My father in law passed away several years ago. My husband and I are on the far right.
My mother in law, who will be 90 in the spring, is in the center with the bride and groom. My family and I are on the far right. Missing from this picture are 5 adult cousins, 4 spouses and 4 great grandkids. It's quite a group!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Good and the Bad

I can't seem to help myself with regards to J Crew. It's hard for me to give up on them despite their current lack luster offerings. Holidays is one of the things J Crew has done really well in the past so I had hopes for the new arrivals. Breathlessly, I went to the web site.

These beauties are the Sloan Plaid d'Orsay flat with bow. Yes, they are pricy at $168 but I jumped on line to order them at once. Unfortunately, they are sold out in all sized but 12. I'll keep stalking these though. Perfect with wool pants and a cashmere sweater for holiday fun. They also have a pretty pump in the same bright plaid but with an almost 4 inch heel, they are not in my plans.

Now we come to the bad. I just have no idea who would wear these.

These are the Collection Ultra Wide Legged Pant in Italian Wool. They are $328 and the description does not state they are lined which leads me to think not. Maybe, and I do mean maybe, someone tall, thin and very long legged could pull this off with a sleek tucked in turtleneck and some high heels. They look awful with the sneakers the model is wear.

So, maybe there is hope for J Crew. However, I still think the prices are inflated as compared to quality. Have you seen the new roll out? What do you think!

Friday, November 6, 2015

DIY Pumpkin Chai Latte

Do you read The Glitter Guide? You should. It's a fun web site with great ideas and they send email blasts which are great. In today's email there was an article (click here) with a yummy recipe to make pumpkin chai latte. They had one earlier that was just to create pumpkin latte and I tried it. So yummy! I'll be making this to enjoy this weekend!

Pumpkin Chai Latte
– ¼ cup liquid sweetened chai tea
– ¼ cup brewed coffee
– 2/3 cup almond milk
– 2 tablespoons sweetened pumpkin purée*
– Cinnamon stick
*Sweetened Pumpkin Purée
Mix the following ingredients in a saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes (or until fully incorporated and heated through):
– 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Combine brewed coffee, chai tea, almond milk and sweetened pumpkin purée over medium heat for 5 minutes (or until heated through). Pour into a coffee mug and garnish with a cinnamon stick. To make a less sweet version, add additional almond milk when serving!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Let's Enjoy Fall!

In keeping with my last post, I want to remind people to enjoy November and fall before throwing yourself full force into December and Christmas madness. I love the December Christmas feeling but I love Thanksgiving too. Sometimes I even think I like it better (shush, don't tell). Why? Because it has all the things I love about Christmas, food, family, fun and none of the pressure to have a perfect holiday that I sometimes feel about Christmas. So throw a log on your fire, admire your fall leaves, have another piece of pumpkin bread. Let's savor the season, not race through!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Holiday Pretties

Now, I'm not one to start decorating for Christmas even before Halloween. It's actually one of my pet peeves, don't get me started. Anyway, I do love Christmas tree decorations. It seems like we have a ton but the reason for that is that my mother gives each of my kids a beautiful ornament every year at Thanksgiving. The idea is that when they grow up and move away, they will have a "starter set" of ornaments with meaning. What I'll have is an empty tree. While we are several years away from this happening, I'm always on the look out for pretties all my own. I found these two beauties at Anthropology.

I missed out on the sailing ship snow globe ornament from last year but these are also super pretty. I can't wait to hang them on my tree, although I will be waiting until after Thanksgiving to do so!

Monday, October 12, 2015

This makes me crazy!

My daughter, she's 12, wants to be Joan of Arc for Halloween this year. This part, I love. She recently studied Joan of Arc at school and independently picked this as her costume choice. Now, my daughter is tall for 12 and has a developing body. She looks like a teenager, not a child. This past weekend we started looking at costumes. The picture below is representative of what we found.
Can I just say, WTF? Why are all women's costumes "sexy" something or other? Needless to say, we were horrified and went to the fabric store and I'll be making her something. But, if we wonder why girls don't appreciate their worth or feel inferior, look no farther!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Costume Idea!

It's fall and my kids are going back and forth on what to wear as a costume. I found this great idea on Pinterest. The original link is here. It was originally an idea for a girls tulle tutu but I love how it was done above for a witch costume. CMB is thinking about being a witch this year and this might just do the trick!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


CMB's horse is named Dancer. We bought him about 3 years ago when she outgrew the little pinto pony she had learned to ride on. He's about 15.3 hands and a registered quarter horse. For those who don't know, horses are measured in "hands" which are 4 inches each and they are measured from the withers (at the base of the neck) to the ground. Anyway, he's been pretty good and she's had 3 good hunt seasons on him. However, he developed some bad habits as CMB got more demanding and became a better rider. She also got busier when middle school started. Dancer lives on my parent's property about an hour from where we live. He started bucking people off, well, CMB and I specifically as we are the only 2 who ride him. He went to spend the summer with a trainer to see if some good old fashion discipline would help. CMB and I went to visit last weekend. He looks really good and she had a nice ride on him. Hopefully, things will improve when he comes home.

Friday, September 25, 2015

An Interesting Side Effect of the Capsule Wardrobe

I'm going to start right off by saying this isn't my closet. Although, I totally wish it was! I've posted in the past about trying to buy fewer, better clothes and stick to my defined style and colors. The interesting side effect is that you really don't want to buy stuff. I guess that's the point. I click around on web sites and flip through magazines but, if I already have the perfect navy turtleneck sweater, do I need 2 or 3 less than perfect ones? No. The hardest thing for me is re-training myself to look for clothes that really fit my style now that I have narrowed it down. I admit I love dresses and pencil skirts. There are times when I fill my on-line shopping cart or eBay watch list or dressing room with them. Then I look at them and remember, I can't wear heels at all anymore (severe arthritis in my ankle and big toe joint) and I think flats worn with pencil skirts and most dresses make me look dumpy. I know lots of people wear them and look great but I hate the way it looks on me. Same thing with button front blouses. In theory, I love the crisp look and style of a button front. In reality, I have narrow shoulders and they don't really fit right. Still, I long for them. It's been an interesting transition. My wallet thanks me and I love the ease of getting dressed and out the door in the morning so I plan to keep it up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Not getting it done, J Crew

Ok, first off this is not a good picture but my computer is not performing well this morning. I just can't get over how, I guess the word is over, I am with J Crew. There was a time almost all my clothes came from there. I've thrown away the last several catalogues after a quick skim and a laugh. The super skinny models, the sloppy layered look, the messy hair and don't get me started on the dropped shoulder trend. All of this was visually off putting but the lack of lined dress pants, the increased costs and the declining quality are also a major factor. The last time I had the chance to walk into a brick and mortar store, I turned around and walked right back out. Really the final straw is the apparent demise of the School Boy Blazer, one of my staples. I wear a blazer almost every day in my business casual office. I have wool school boys for fall and winter and linen ones for spring and summer. I hate the popped collar on the Regent blazer and am not a fan of the Rhodes or Campbell either. The prices are higher and the fit isn't as good on me. I'm busy scouring ebay and snapping up school boys when I can. What do you think? Am I being to hard on the "Crew"?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ethically Source/Produced Clothing

As I learned more about "fast fashion" and started to re-focus on buying few but better items, I began to add learning about a companies production environment was like and including that in my calculations when looking for items. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Brooks Brothers is one company that is paying attention to this. They have a detailed description of their process and commitment on their web site here. They also just opened a new, expanded manufacturing space in Massachusetts.  A commitment to ethical production and to production in the US and not oversees. Just another reason to love them! Brooks Brothers has long been one of my favorite places to shop, although I usually stalk items and wait for sales. As I re-focus on fewer and better things, this really has been working for me. Do you consider production when you shop?

Friday, September 18, 2015

In Which I Embrace Printed Pants

I was always a dark, solid pants person. Navy, black, the occasional glen plaid maybe, but nothing printed or bright. I know that printed slim pants have been around a while but I have only recently jumped on the band wagon. My shift on only flat shoes have had something to do with this. I tend to wear mine with a pointed toe loafer or flat and either a round neck top or turtleneck and a blazer. That's my new uniform but I'm experimenting with some slightly different pants to mix it up.
 It's really hard to tell but these are from Brooks Brothers and a very dark navy or black (I can't really tell) and have a small, subtle brighter blue foulard print on them. They almost look like a man's tie.

These I think I have posted about before. Also, Brooks Brothers. They are so great! I was nervous about buying them as they were my first toe dip into printed pants but I love them. I also have a gray windowpane plaid pair of Sloan slim ankle pants from Banana Republic which I couldn't get a good picture of. I wore them to work this week with a dark green Tippi sweater and a dark green blazer. I think the key has three parts. First, quality trousers. They shouldn't look cheap or shinny. Second, I always try and pair them with a conservative top. The busier/crazier the pants, the more conservative the top. This goes for shoes too. Third, I'm sticking with conservative prints too. Not wild floral prints. It's working for me and I quite like it. It allows me to feel fashion forward and safe at the same time. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Almost Fall!

I think fall is one of my favorite seasons, not that we get a lot of season in the Bay Area. But the feeling of fall is the same. The light is a little different, even the sunshine feels quite, a little sad. I went to college at Fairfield University in Connecticut and the fall was so beautiful there. I miss it every year. Still, there are a few leaves turning on the trees outside my house, the evenings come quicker and there is a nip in the air. Time for fires, pumpkin spice, quilted vests and boots!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It had to be ME!

I don't have a good picture for this one but felt like writing it. I've been feeling like I was caught in a spiral lately, not a good thing. I turned 45 at the end of June and suddenly felt like I'd accomplished nothing. If I were a cliché, I'd be driving around in a red porche! I kept looking at web sites and shopping trying to find the perfect thing that would make me happy. Surely if I had the right clothes and makeup I'd be happy? Maybe if I lost 10 pounds (not going to happen while I was visiting the office vending machine every afternoon) then I'd be happy? Then, after a lot of thought, and a very good yoga class, I realized that only I could make me happy. If I want to lose weight, I can. My clothes are great and I don't need to buy more. I'm the compliance director at a hedge fund, so I'm pretty sure I'm not stupid. It was like a light bulb and a huge weight falling off my back. It seems silly now, like that should have been evident to me. But it wasn't, but now it is.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pretty Puppy

I love spring spaniels. Growing up we had a couple but the one I remember best was named Ruffles and I got him as a present for my 16th birthday. He didn't have beautiful long feathers like this guy above but these short, tuffty ones which is how he got his name. He was super sweet and went every where with me through high school and when I would be home from college. He loved to ride in the car and swim in the ocean. We are currently without a dog and it's a little sad. Both hubby and I work full time and we have three school aged kids. It's just not the right time. But some day that time will come again and I'll be searching out another springer to keep me company!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Rare Sighting

It's very hard to get all three of my kids to smile for the camera at the same time. Frankly, it's not easy to get all three of my kids in the same place at one time unless they are asleep or eating. However, we were at a family wedding last weekend and I managed to grab this one for a status up date. From right to left, AGB is almost 15 and a freshman in high school. He's baseball crazy as you would guess if you could see that's what is on his tie. In the middle is CMB, she's 12 and in the 7th grade. Still playing lacrosse, soccer, the flute and running cross country. Finally, the boy in the bow as we call OPB. He's also 12 (yes they are twins) but he's in the 6th grade. It's a very long story, perhaps the subject of another post. OPB is into fencing, chess and plays the violin. So there you go, a rare sighting of all three kids, in the same place, at the same time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Capsule Wardrobe

I've always been drawn to the idea of a capsule wardrobe. It seems easy and time saving as well. Trouble is, after a while I always got bored. Or distracted by something I saw on line or TV and before you knew it, I'd veered off course. Recently, however, I've been working to refine, update and streamline my closet and my life and the capsule is back. I found the blog The Vivienne Files and this great post about capsule wardrobes. It's based on a book called Ma To-Do List by Jeanne-Aurore Colleuille and Laure Gontier and has 3 main points.

1. Dictate your rules: This defines what you want and how you see yourself. Short sleeves? Dresses, flats? Think of this as your personal style rules and then eliminate anything in your closet that does not fit. My personal style rules are trousers (preferably ankle length and slim), round  neck tops, blazers and flat loafer style shoes. This is a switch for me from pencil skirts, cardigans and heels. The switch was mainly driven by 2 things. First off I have a bone spur and arthritis in my foot which makes walking in heels, even low ones unendingly painful. Second, I am the compliance director at a hedge fund in the Bay Area and the only woman in upper management as well as the youngest person. Somehow the cardigan and skirt look, just didn't work. This feels more authoritative.

2. Work on your coordination: A variety of colors, tops and bottoms that are impossible to coordinate, shapes and materials without a common ground: these are the enemies of the ideal wardrobe. At the base of the “capsule wardrobe” is a simple idea (and yet we apply it rarely!): everything should go with everything else, so that you can get dressed with your eyes closed. Think of this as a sort of grown up "granimals". I'm probably dating myself with that reference but that's how I think of it. My core colors are navy and gray. I accent with white, hunter green and camel.

3. Choose your signature piece: This is the part that makes it you. Do you love bangles? Scarves? Hats? Pick what pleases you and what you feel the most "you" in and go with it. For me there are 2 main one. First is pearls. I almost always wear the pearl and gold knot earrings my grandparents gave me for my high school graduation, the pearl necklace my parents gave me for my college graduation and the gold and pearl ring that was my mother-in-laws that my husband gave me at our wedding. I sometimes alternate with the gold and pearl necklace my father gave me on my wedding day. Second, I love brooches and have a collection of vintage ones that belonged to my grandmother and great grandmother. They look great on the various blazers I wear.

What do you think? Do you embrace the capsule look? Or are you more free ranging? Which suits you best and why?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Favorite Work Pants

I confess, I love these pants for work. They are the Banana Republic Sloan Slim Ankle Pant. I usually wear them with a shell or tee and blazer during the summer and either a Tippi sweater or a wool turtleneck under a blazer in the winter. I wear them with structured flats, like pointed toed loafers or sometime smoking slippers. They are trim and yet not tight. I used to love the J Crew Minnie pants but thought they were just a smidge to tight for my office and a bit casual as well. These pants are really perfect and they are super comfortable to sit in all day and yet still look crisp when you stand up. I find they do stretch during the day but I don't get the dreaded "saggy but" look with them. They come in a bunch of colors but I like the navy best. I just got a pair of gray windowpane ones for fall! Have you tried these? You should!

Friday, August 21, 2015

An Interesting Read

I'm reading "the life changing magic of tidying up" and really liking it. I love the idea that everything in your house and closet should bring you joy. It's kind of a freeing feeling, which I think is the point. It doesn't matter that a jacket I got on sale was a great buy, if it doesn't bring me joy when I put it on, out it goes. One of the things she stresses is that you should devote a major block of time to doing a major "life changing" de-clutter which is focused on getting rid of the things that don't fill you with joy. I admit to having trouble finding a big block of time so I am trying to do one category at a time. I'm almost done with clothes. My next focus is going to be books, then toys and finally the garage. Have you read this book? What do you think?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Harvest Garden

My daughter and I recently joined an organization called National Charity League. It's mission is to foster mothers and daughter volunteering together. Think Junior League only for mothers and daughters. The girls join at the end of their 6th grade year and remain members until the graduate high school. We've done some really fun things this summer but our favorite is working with the town of Hillsbourgh's Harvest Garden. It's quite cool, tucked away on a little side street between two homes is this little garden. It is a non-profit, organic, community garden that provides fresh vegetables to shelters for the working poor who can't afford food. It is planted, maintained and harvested solely by volunteers. The garden  beautified an unsightly vacant lot, provided involvement for area residents including school children, all while achieving its primary goal of providing for those in need. You can learn more on their web page which is here. In the past weeks we have weeded, planted and harvested everything from lettuce to beans to tomatoes and corn. Last weekend we planted a root vegetable garden they hope to get one crop out of before November. We've really enjoyed it and it's a great way to spend time with my daughter.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Letting go of "When"

I just chose this picture because it is pretty and peaceful, doesn't have anything to do with this post. I subscribed to get email updates from a great blogger called Maxie McCoy. She's very inspirational but today's email really spoke to me. The title is "Your Blacking out so Ditch the When". You can read the whole thing here and it is completely worth your time. The basic idea is that so often we are holding ourselves back for when things are perfect. The perfect job and everything will be all right, loose 10 pounds and I'll be perfect, find the right partner and all will be well. This attitude keeps us from enjoying our here and now because we are obsessing and worrying about an imaginary future. I know I fall prey to this often but I'm really trying to focus on the now and not worry about the when!

Friday, August 7, 2015

In the Navy

I've noticed something about all my recent posts with outfits I've been loving. Everything is navy! I recently packed to go to Yosemite for the weekend and all my tops were navy and white. Even my bridesmaid dresses were navy! I have to say it's my favorite color. I wear all navy the way some people wear all black. Somehow I just like it better, it's not as harsh and I think it's better with my skin tone. I also really like the nautical vibe, especially in summer.

Does that picture just make you glad it's Friday! It makes me even more glad I am heading over to my parent's place on the coast tomorrow morning!
I found the above image on Pinterest and love it. I'm wearing almost the exact same outfit today, except that my jeans are a darker wash.
Really I just love the color. It's crisp and fresh in a way black isn't. It's also a bit more unexpected. I have a beautiful navy blue wool dress that I often wear in place of a LBD, although since both blue and black start with "B", I guess it is!
Are you "in the navy"? or do you stick with black?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Back to School!

It seems like every year the first day of school gets earlier and earlier. When I was a kid, we didn't start until after Labor Day. That's especially true this year because our district switched to a schedule that is considered a "hybrid" between a traditional and year round calendar. The first day of school is NEXT WEEK! I can hardly believe it. My oldest will be a high school freshman and I'll also have a 7th grader and a 6th grader. No more elementary school for me! I went with the big guy to freshman orientation yesterday and tomorrow is what they call "jump start" day in middle school. You go and turn in all the forms, buy PE uniforms, get schedules etc. Seems very early to me but back to school we go!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Yesterday I talked about the idea of uniform dressing. Today I am drooling on these red and navy jacquard slim pants from Brooks Brothers (who else). This is also very close to the winter version of my uniform. I have a navy wool turtleneck and navy blazer. I'd do sleek navy loafers instead of pumps but you get the picture. They are quite pricey so I'm thinking this purchase through carefully!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mary Poppins

Every summer the kids spend time at my parents house on the coast. They have an amazing musical theater company and this year the production was Mary Poppins. Everyone has seen the movie of course but the stage play was really, really good. Above are my twins, in the white dress and yellow button down and my sisters two, with the yellow polo and pink head band. The twins will be 12 next month and my sisters two are 10 and 7. We went down on Saturday morning and the kids played around the house. My folks live on 25 acres of apple orchard that backs up to a creek, so there is plenty to do. Sunday we went to lunch and the theater. Really a fun weekend!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Having a Uniform

I went to Catholic school growing up and always wore a uniform. Now, of course I'm getting dressed for work and not school. However, I still find that I have a daily uniform. I've changed and refined it  a bit over the years but the trend remains. I work in a business casual office as the Director of Compliance for a hedge fund in the Bay Area. No jeans but pretty casual otherwise. Recently, I have had some serious foot and ankle issues that are a combination of arthritis and a bunion. My doctor ordered that I try and reduce the stress with flats. And, since I like being able to walk without pain, I've complied. My current uniform is similar to the above. Slim, usually ankle length pants (I love the sloan style from BR) I then wear a silk shell, a Tippi sweater, nice tee or some other top layer and a blazer. My shoes are flat, upscale loafers. I wrote about my favorite ones here a few days ago. I'll add a scarf or necklace to perk things up and there we go. I also tend to always have the same colors. They are navy, Khaki or camel, gray and I use green and red as accent colors. What about you, do you have a uniform?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Taking Ownership

The older I get, and the older my kids are, the more important the lesson of taking ownership for things, especially in life seems to be. Late to a meeting? Fail a test? Life isn't mean, if just means you weren't prepared. I do notice in my kids friends, a tendency for things never to be your fault. Sometimes it is. You don't study? Well, you fail the test. It's a lesson I want to impart to my kids and yet find important in my own life too. It sounds easy to say that you want to make a change or do something new and different. But if you don't own it, it won't happen. I think Ownership, with a capital "O" means:

Ownership, in my opinion, means....

If you want to change, you have to make it happen:  This seems like and easy thing to say but it's absolutely the hardest thing to do. I think there's a song that goes "Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying" Well that's not enough, you have to do.

– Other people are not the problem: You weren't late to school because of traffic, it's because you stayed up to late playing games or reading and slept through your alarm. Fail that test or get a bad review at work? Buckle down and study (or work harder). Making excuses is easy and it's hard to pullback and look at what really caused the problem.  

What you do matters: This can actually be motivating. At my new job I planned, scheduled and managed a major audit of our company's IT systems and we got a great report. I felt awesome and my hard work paid off. Being able to see something like that is only possible when you take ownership.

Know the goal: You can't strive to achieve something if you don't know what you want. Think hard and figure out what's REALLY important. It's usually not what you think but being able to recognize what your goal is and to move towards it is a major part of ownership.

You've got to stand for something: Don't be afraid of what you believe. You don't have to shout it from the roof top or be aggressive and arrogant about it but you have to know what you believe. If you do something wrong, admit it and learn from it, do something right? Feels good, doesn't it?

Remember you:  As a working mom to three kids in 6th, 7th and 9th grade, I find this one hard. I have to remind myself to take a break. Most recently this has taken the form of making sure I get to yoga class twice a week and do a kindle yoga video I like 2 other days. But you have to own taking care of you.
Do you take ownership of your life? How?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Going Digital

OK, I confess. I've always been a paper person. I loved back to school as a kid, frankly even in college and law school. New paper, binders, pens, calendars. I have stubbornly clung to my paper organizer and address book as well as my note books at meetings. Then, an amazing app called One Note entered my life. I know it's not new but it's new to me. I have it on my lap top, I-phone, tablet and it syncs across devices. I have note books for personal things, family, work. It's really cool. Now I have to admit, I do not store personal information like social security number, credit card numbers etc in it. But as far as a note taking device. I'm a convert!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Perfect Shoes

I love these shoes. I have them in the red/navy/white combo above and also in a cognac/cream/white combo. They are from Brooks Brothers but a few years ago. All leather, super comfortable and well made. I wear them with jeans and blazers on the weekends and trousers to work. They are more classic and stylish (at least to my eye) than brogues or wingtip type shoes. Love, love, love!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Once again, it's Brooks Brothers for the win!

I've written before about how I feel J Crew and Banana Republic have gone down hill in terms of quality and also classic style. Well, I was in Brooks Brothers over the weekend and I could have bought the whole store! Their prices may be high but their items are classic and last forever. I have a size 16 boys navy blue blazer from there that I bought in college. I won't tell you how long ago that was but it's been a while. My now 15 year old son wore it to several events when he was that size and now my 12 year old daughter has appropriated it. It still looks great. 
 This dress is even more gorgeous in real life. The colors are vibrant and the fabric crisp. The details are lovely too. The front is pin tucked and the sleeve buttons have silk knots like a man's French cuff shirt.
 I'm torn between these two tunics. On one hand, I like the navy gingham with the white collar and cuffs but I do love the navy window pane below.

I just love the classic colors and the great fabrics. What do you think? Been to a Brooks Brothers lately?

Friday, July 10, 2015


Doesn't that look yummy? It's a New England style lobster and shrimp dip. I found it on a neat web site called Your Party - Tuned Up. You can see it here.

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
Fresh lobster meat from two lobsters (or about 6 ounces of canned or frozen lobster meat)
2/3 pound cooked shrimp (about a cup chopped)
1 Tablespoon horseradish (real horseradish, not sauce)
3 dashes Tabasco Sauce
3 Tablespoon Milk
2 scallions, sliced
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
One sleeve Ritz Crackers, crushed
4 Tablespoon Butter, melted
Chop lobster meat and shrimp; put in bowl.  Toss with scallions.
Sprinkle mixture with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Toss again.
In separate bowl, whip the cream cheese until fluffy.
Note:  I whip the cream cheese in my KitchenAid, then add the following ingredients and blend on low.
Add horseradish, tabasco sauce and milk; blend well.
Add shrimp and lobster mixture to the cream cheese mixture and stir (by hand).
Spread into large pie plate or flat casserole dish.

Mix Ritz cracker crumbs and butter in a bowl.
Spread over lobster-shrimp mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until light brown.
Let sit about 15 minutes before serving so it cools down a bit and sets up.
Serve warm, lukewarm or room temp with Pita Chips, Bagel Chips or crackers.  Yum

I see snacking on this around the fire pit near the lake (actually in my back yard) while sipping wine. A happy Friday thought!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Saying No

I hate saying no, it's hard. However, along with the supposed to's I talked about yesterday, saying no is something I'm working on. My inability to say no has led to me being PTA president, Little League President, Chair of 8th grade graduation and other fun things. In case you forget, I have three kids and work full time at a fairly demanding job (I'm an attorney). Anyhow, it's not that I haven't enjoyed doing those things or that I regret saying yes but those things did increase the stress of my daily life. I have 3 new rules for when I might say no to  something.

1) I will not say no because I am afraid.
2) I will not say no if I have already committed.
3)I probably won't say no at all but I might modify or negotiate the ask.

Now, before you think I am amazingly clever for coming up with this, I must give credit where credit is due. I found these new "rules to live by" if you will on an older post by the fabulous blogger, The College Prepster. You can read her original post here. But it really struck a chord. I have long tried to make everyone happy, I'm a pleaser by nature. It's the modify or negotiate the ask piece that I'm most interested in trying. What about you? How do you say no? Or do you?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Letting go of the "supposed to's"?

Having just had my 45th birthday (which I really don't like telling you all) I've been doing some reading and thinking about what I have accomplished and what I still want to accomplish. I've also been talking to my kids as they get older about their lives. My oldest son will be a freshman in high school this fall and is starting to think about college.

In thinking and talking, one thing that struck me is my allegiance to the what I was always "supposed" to do. I was supposed to take AP classes in high school, play sports and get into a good college. There I was "supposed" to also get good grade and get either into graduate school or a good job. I chose law school where I was "supposed" to get good grade and ultimately a good job. Along the way I was "supposed" to get married and have kids. I was also "supposed" to quit my job to stay home with those kids, which I did for a while before the 2008 crash required me to go back to work.

Would I change any of that? So deeply engrained was the idea that the steps I took were the only ones open to me, that I don't even ever thought there was another option. I certainly wouldn't have considered any other paths. Also, society has changed immensely since I graduated, especially from a technology standpoint. The idea of being a professional blogger or something similar just didn't exist. Today I see opportunities that I could never have imagined.

Am I unhappy with my choices? I don't think so. I love my family and while I don't always love my job, I do very well at it and it allows me to provide for my families future. Maybe the things you are "supposed" to do aren't so bad?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Worthy Cause

Every now and then you stumble on something so amazing that you have to pass it on. I read Town and Country and this month there was an amazing article about a girl named Mary Grace who started a philanthropy aimed at helping girls in Africa get an education when she was only 12. She asked for a sewing machine for her birthday and began making reversible headbands and bows. She's now a senior in high school and below is a summary of her accomplishments (from her web site):

 66 girls in 4 countries
  • We’ve funded 154 years of school fees
  • Our students attend 21 different schools
  • 37 of our students are in boarding schools which keeps them safe and increases their academic success
  • Every single student who boards is fed three meals a day
  • Our funding includes textbooks, uniforms, shoes and school supplies. We also cover national testing fees
  • Though our focus is funding secondary school costs, we also fund primary school students at risk of early marriage. We currently have 8 primary school students
  • We’ve shipped over 250 lbs. of sewing supplies to Uganda and have encouraged students to begin their own entrepreneurial ventures
  • 50% of funds we earn through sales of my International Day of the Girl Limited Edition Collection are shared with their student commitments
  • With help from The Barat Foundation, we've funded a pre-school teacher's salary at Shining Hope School for Girls in Nairobi's Kibera slum
  • We’ve funded LifeSkills Workshops in rural Kenya that teach important health and sanitation practices. These educational workshops also focus on a girl's right to attend school and on ending the illegal practice of FGM

  • Really this is an amazing thing! My daughter will be 12 next month. Her girl scout troop is going to write letters to the girls that Reverse the Course sponsors and try and get involved in other ways. Truly, a role model for young girls. The Reverse the Course web site is here. Check it out, you'll be amazed. The fact that the headbands and bows are adorable is simply a bonus!