07/19/2016

Olympic Style

Patriotic colors and enough performance wicking fabric to dry out a rain forest are athletic musts, though we find inspiration in how athletes are styled post event.

  1. Greats Royale floral shoe 2. Majorelle round towel 3. Sports watch 4. New Balance State Fair shoes 5. Field Drop Through longboard
07/16/2016

Exterior Makeover – Shop the Look

Add the details for an instant exterior makeover without a major overhaul.

  1. Light Yellow by Benjamin Moore. 2. Schoodic rope doormat 3. Dancing Elephant pillow 4. Silver sand dollar door knocker 5. Pollywood Adirondack chair 6. Floating house numbers 7. Front door light
07/14/2016

Exterior Makeover

With a year to mull over paint colors and hardware you’d think we would get it right. As with every design project there is some trial and error. Unfortunately my budget is not a fan of trial and error. The current before and after of our home’s exterior makeover does show improvement, and for readers treat it like a “count the differences” exercise in those children’s game books my son adores.*

We secured the right painters, who powerwashed the shingles with a bleach cleaner. We changed the paint color of the porch from dark blue to gray, door from red to yellow and trim from light blue to white (with plans to add shutters–more to come on that project). The yellow door makes me smile, which was an impulse change after thinking it would be blue–still have the paint can to prove it.

The other color in flux is the stain, which had an orangish reaction to the wood. Learn from my mistake–do not paint the entire project until you are satisfied with a test patch. Currently considering white based stains and any feedback is appreciated.

White based stains from Benjamin Moore in consideration.

White based stains from Benjamin Moore in consideration.

Finishing details with the hardware and accents complete the styled look.

Ellie who cannot refuse a photo opp and loves the new porch.

Ellie will never refuse a photo opp and loves the new porch.

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Doormat made from recycled lobster rope is good for the environment, good for style.

Doormat made from recycled lobster rope is good for the environment, good for style.

Making a yellow entrance.

Making a yellow entrance.

Classic adirondack chairs are updated and durable in their plastic reincarnation.

Classic adirondack chairs are updated and durable in their plastic reincarnation.

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Sand dollar door knocker is jewelry for the home.

The right hardware is a simple way to update the look.

The right hardware is a simple way to update the look.

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Pillows weave in color and comfort.

The door knocker is by Michael Healy. Yes, door knockers now have designers for those who care about such things. Packaged in a lovely box and felt satchel, it felt like opening a piece of jewelry. It is in fact jewelry for the home. The floating house numbers were a quest to find as most available have a dated feel. Made from recycled plastic, the Pollywood adirondack chairs have a modern feel and are made to endure. Pillows in our color scheme bring in whimsy and comfort. The nautical inspired front light updates the look. The doormat from Cape Porpoise Trading Company is made from recycled lobster trap rope–good for the environment and good looking always earns high points for the ecologically design friendly group.

*Answers to before & after changes: 1. Porch brackets removed 2. New paint color for trim, porch and door. 3. Lighter stain 4. Door knocker and house numbers replaced. 4. Addition of pillows and doormat 5. Ellie in different positions.

07/05/2016

Travel – Fisher’s Island

Fisher’s Island has a few basics: the ferry, beach and meals prepared with food bought from the only market in town. We began the weekend by driving to the dock in New London, Connecticut, with a few panicked calls to the ferry office on holiday traffic and the probability of catching the boat. The friendly dispatcher recognized my voice upon arrival, our bags bouncing with carsick dog in tow, and granted us entry without collecting our tickets so we’d be on time.

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Fisher’s Island map, an island of 9 miles, which is in New York’s Suffolk County but the only way to travel there is from the New London, Connecticut, ferry.

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We made the ferry, preventing us from having to wait three hours for the next departure.

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Kids under 5 and dogs ride for free.

The calm after chaos quickly levels when you decompress to the steady hum of the engine. You observe other passengers who share the anticipation of arriving to the island in a spirit that is more exalting than the return ride back. Approaching the dock and you could be entering a past time where phones and gadgetry are not an essential. We chat with new acquaintances with pets as we navigate the steep stairs with plans to meet up at the dog beach. Everyone is ready for a summer experience that has little deviation from those experienced as a child.

Fence art.

Fence art.

Island transportation of choice.

Fisher’s is about nine miles long but not cleanly cut like Nantucket or Bermuda. It’s scraggly, like a chewed up piece of gum, and the island’s insignia is seen on everything from bumper stickers to golf balls. If you want to stay overnight you must either know a resident or rent since there are no hotels. Marketing for food happens at the local food store though Peapod has become quite popular. Nightlife primarily consists of a friend’s porch. Send a letter with only the name of the family and it will most likely get to them.

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Tray of Long Island by Ben’s Gardens on a Fisher’s Island tea towel.

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Topper’s, the exclusive ice cream shop, has recently changed hands to the owner of Drink ‘n Vessel, the only wine store–a transaction that happened at the end of a routine business call. Kids expertly wield an ice cream scoop and record the purchase on an index card for those with an account.

Boy's night out.

Boy’s night out.

There is a lot of travel by bicycle. Dinner plans are made at a friends’ home, just plan to bring what you intended to cook on your grill. There may be a movie later or unexpected guests will stop by. They bring the drinks. You provide breakfast.

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A vintage car that fits in with a vintage summer.

Topper's for ice cream where locals have an account.

Topper’s for ice cream where parents went to as a kid.

Shopping in town, resort style.

Shopping in town, resort style.

Home decor style of the island.

Home decor style of the island.

Pop up shop in the one lane town.

Pop up shop in the one lane town.

Summer cottage, typical Fisher's Island style.

Summer cottage in typical Fisher’s Island style.

Transportation of choice.

Beach cruiser.

Ironic signage.

Ironic signage.

Side kitchen entrance.

Side kitchen entrance.

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Porch living is key on Fisher’s.

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Front entrance of the club.

Front entrance of the club.

Kid with a pointed sense of humor.

Kid with a pointed sense of humor.

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Ready for windsurfing class.

Ready for windsurfing class.

Inside the sailing shack.

Inside the sailing shack.

Path to fun.

Path to fun.

Door to the sailing shack.

Door to the sailing shack.

Fisher's Island blue.

Fisher’s Island blue.

Poolside at a neighborhood club.

Poolside at a neighborhood club.

Dogs have free reign.

Dogs have free reign.

The homes share the New England clapboard look, they just escalate from beach cottage to cottage mansion, which includes the stately home where the movie World According to Garp was filmed.

View of the coastline with the home featured in The World Accoring to Garp.

View of the coastline with the home featured in The World According to Garp.

The best summers practice simple pleasures, which have been experienced on the island for centuries. The less beeps of an iPad and more games of kick the can the better. With so much to pack into a season that goes into seclusion come Labor Day (there are less than 300 residents and only one elementary school) there is little regard in new constructions or upgrading cars. Besides, a 19th century summer home is built better, more authentic and withstood many hurricanes, while beach cars like a VW Thing endures all the sand. The main island dilemma is choosing between kayaking or crabbing.

06/29/2016

Dead Zone – Shop the Grateful Dead Style

While I never followed the Grateful Dead in an herb infused Vanagon I do respect the lore and style of this iconic group. Kids from nice families hippy-ed out for a summer and followed the band. To summarize one of their catchier tunes Scarlet Begonias: “She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes. And I knew without asking she was into the blues. She wore scarlet begonias, tucked into her curls. I knew right away she was not like other girls, other girls.” Who wouldn’t want to be that girl?

  1. Floral Midi dress 2. Bag 3. Tie Dye dress 4. Bracelet 5. Shorts 6. Dog collar 7. Grateful Dead shirt 8. Curtains 9. Blanket 10. Muslin cloth 11. Earrings
06/27/2016

Birthday Party Supplies – Ulimate Shopping Guide

Plan a birthday party like a pro with the right accessories. Candy, paper goods and decorations have never been sweeter, they may even overshadow the cake. Browse the best party pieces that’s cause for celebration.

1. Pennant bunting 2. Puffy Poles candy 3. Striped paper straws 4. Sparklettes Brittes 5. Chevron favor bags 6. Grande Fairytale Cones 7. Sea Confetti 8. Rugby stripe goody bags 9. Mylar striped balloons 10. Paper fans 11. Tissue paper pom poms 12. Paper food tray 13. Paper tablecloth 14.Confetti mini milk bottle 15. Pail favors 16. Ice cream cups 17. Paper party hats 18. Scallop plate 19. Chevron paper plates 20. Cupcake liners 21. Baker’s twine 22. Flower garland kit 23. Candy apothecary jar 24. Tiny balloons 25. Spotty popcorn boxes 26. Ice cream cone chocolate cake pop 27. Paper straws 28. Cupcake toppers 29. Shimmer gumballs 30. Pastels Dazzle napkins 31. Party blowers 32. Pedestal cake stand 33. Truly Pretty paper dessert plates 34. Paper umbrellas 35. Stripey straw mason tumblers 36. Star confetti

06/25/2016

Travel – Venice

There is a storybook quality to Venice, the ideal place to see through a six-year old. It’s a city on the water where gondoliers share the same qualities as a performer in a mouse suit. In San Marco Square I stopped myself from thinking about health repercussions and gave in to beggars who lured pigeons onto Luc’s head. By spending time in the city, wandering its streets, shops and restaurants, you step out of your regimented self to learn there is something more to this city than boat rides in narrow canals.

Luc picking up hearts confetti outside one of the many churches after a wedding.

Luc gathering heart confetti outside one of the many churches after a wedding.

Chasing pigeons.

Chasing pigeons.

Arriving in Venice.

Arriving in Venice.

Luc and his cousin versed in ordering in Italian.

Luc and his cousin ordering in Italian.

Luc and his cousin being chummy.

Luc and his cousin being chummy.

The streets are ancient and a bit gritty. You will wander along peeling walls, stray cats and cleaners who sweep with the kind of brooms I thought were only used for a witch’s costume. Another Italian street look is clothes drying from lines that perplex me from the logistics of how a Venetian resident approaches the tenant across their window for access to hook their line. Shopping runs the gamut from luxury retailers like Prada and Frette to quaint souvenir shops peddling tourists needing to deplete their Euros on wooden Pinocchio dolls and carnival masks. The carnival is a very big deal here, perpetually present with storefronts displaying costumes and posters advertising next year’s event held during Lent. It’s a tradition where streets bustle with masked celebrators and a series of events with scenery that rival the Cirque de Soleil.

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Souvenirs of Venice.

Chilling on the gondola ride and completely unaware of our gondolier hamming it up for the camera.

What we presumed a chill moment, unaware of our gondolier hamming it up for the camera.

A first for Luc, being a statue and allowing pigeons to land on him.

A first for Luc, being a statue and allowing pigeons to land on him.

It’s Venice’s mix of culture, art, architecture, food, history and theatrics that keep visitors on hyper speed. We only amble about our tiny hotel loaded with antiques for clothing changes. We were fortunate to be there during a full moon. San Marco square flooded, which evoked something biblical. Young couples fall into the romance of it all while Luc slid into the water fully clothed. I couldn’t be too upset despite an early morning flight and traveling with wet clothes is not something Americans do but we adapt to the frivolity of this intriguing city.

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San Marco square during a full moon, walking back to our hotel in the flooded plaza.

06/22/2016

Italian Street Style

Italians are known to design a car or an espresso machine as an art form. Part of the world’s fashion elite, with such houses as Fendi and Prada fermenting their street cred, town life is the most authentic way to view everyday style in its natural habitat.

There is a gutsy mix of classic, punk and avant garde. From the children to their grandparents they follow their own rules, which is the Italian way.

06/22/2016

Travel – Cinque Terre

The “five towns” of Cinque Terre along the Italian Rivera is not easy to get to but most good things in life are just that, a quest to find something epic. We began another morning awaking to the crow of the neighborhood rooster, the sting from my eyes yet to soften. To minimize travel confusion from Lucca to Cinque Terre my father hired a driver who would attach us to a tour bus. I will omit any information on this driver considering that we were a party of seven, with three children under 12, and would have missed the connection unless he did not pull a Nicole Richie, reversing down the highway to make the exit that secured our on time departure. The Italians are passionate about their work.

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The bus driver announced that he would unload us at a train as ferries were canceled due to choppy water, which I am grateful for as choppy water and the smell of diesel fuel with lack of sleep never ends well. Cars are not permitted on the island.

Cinque Terre is five towns, translated to “five lands,” which have been around for millenia. The dwellings are colorfully painted so the fishermen could find their homes. Combined with a complicated system of roads and paths are the makings of a great tourist destination.

Luc and I broke from our group so we could take in a few of the towns without the pressure of a requisite photo opp to make travel deadlines. Instead we bought sandwiches made of focaccia, ham, cheese and tomato with lemon soda and took selfies in the main square. Luc linked with what I presume were local boys in a game of soccer. Hand gestures and the understanding of a universal sport knocked down language barriers.

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When we arrive to the town of Monterosso rain poured from the cool air. We ran to an outdoor pizzeria with views of the beach and shielded by an awning strong enough to stand up to the coastal elements. The pizza maker was out sick so I had a simple cod, served with the fish in tact, and Luc had pasta, fresh berries and an interesting apple sorbet that tasted what I imagine ice creamed green apples slurped through a straw would be. We were too preoccupied with our meals to have an opportunity to sample what the rest of the table ordered but I recall a seafood risotto and some thinly sliced beef.

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Luc created an imaginary game with his cousins on the beach, playing in the rain and chasing the ripples of the sea that resulted in me fishing for his shoe.

06/17/2016

Travel – Touring Italy Like An Italian

Forget guidebooks, travel is about assimilating into the culture. This was the routine in Lucca as we came to love the small Tuscan village for its mix of antiquity architecture, culture and food. It came to no surprise to follow my parents into a realtor’s office during a trip into town as they lust over real estate listings the way I do fat figs. (They have been known to leave a vacation with more than a souvenir in the new home variety).

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Pops sharing his gelato with the grandkids.

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Souvenir bought within the walled piaza.

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The villa La Palma has become a valued member of the family. If we forgot lemons at the market she provides from the lemon tree. She saves us from traveling with candles with her scent of jasmine that circulates through the house. The home is set so we can come together or have a private place to retreat. She gives us views that are painted in the art they sell at galleries within Lucca’s walled piazza. There are enough bathrooms to thwart senseless arguments about toothpaste staining the sinks. We watch Seinfeld in Italian when sifting through channels for an English speaking show becomes too exhausting. There are wine tastings with heated debates. La Palma has become the great mediator, a more luxurious, quieter form of bringing a family together over pressured holidays.

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In town you only need a few words to get by: grazzi, Si prega di and prego. Thank you, please and you’re welcome—the language I placed most importance on to Luc before he even started speaking. For more involved discussions there’s always Google translate. When I went for a haircut the stylist accommodated my pantomiming and masterfully executed the desired style. I slipped into the energy of the salon, watching the generational gaps of a young girl fiddling on her phone while she and her grandmother shared a day of primping. How a deliveryman was left to wait as the stylist attended to his client first. If we were in New York there would have been an episode.

Delivery man happily waits for a simple signature.

Delivery man happily waits for a simple signature.

I hurried home to attend to lunch–pasta, fresh bread, salad and sliced melon. Whether dining at home or out, meals play an important role here. Our first night the caretakers of La Palma cooked for us, a dinner that lapsed for four hours with more courses than a wedding. Even Luc has learned the artistry of arranging a poolside breakfast plate. Perhaps what’s most rewarding is Italy’s influence on a 6-year old. Luc soaking in the habits of La Dolce Vita before he returns to his hardwired East Coast life.

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A prepared meal at home from the caretakers.

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Caprese salad with pate.

Luc's breakfast plate.

Luc’s breakfast plate.

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