Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays for outfits! Think about it…Halloween is not flattering to anyone, Thanksgiving is drab, Christmas has too much tendency to be totally cheesy. But the Fourth is crisp and summery and involves pretty colors that flatter everyone! Here are some of my favorite patriot pieces for this summer:
One of the biggest perks of summer break is more time to spend with my nose in a book! I am a voracious reader, and, while there is no rhyme or reason as to what I like to read, historical fiction, specifically World War II, and suspense seem to dominate my Kindle. Lately, however, my emotions have been slightly out of whack. Family illness and death, overwhelming home repairs, and bittersweet feelings about my last baby finishing preschool have had me weepy and desperately in need of a little soul nourishment. Prayer is so powerful at keeping priorities straight and emotions in check, but sometimes I just need a little guidance as to what I should really be praying for! I’m excited to share with you some reads in my current rotation. These three books have been invaluable at helping keep my joy intact during this season filled with so many stressors!
Where do I start with this book?! Precious Lysa TerKeurst and her infinite words of wisdom have opened my eyes and reached deep into my soul to show me a scripture-based approach to keeping my emotions from running away from me. The truth is, this isn’t usually a problem for me. Most people would probably describe me as a very reserved girl who is pretty even-keeled. When we get enough on our plates, though, even the most steady of us are bound to waiver a little here and there, and we can all use reminders on how to regain our balance. More importantly, Uninvited provides insight into the struggles others may be going through and helps hone our empathy and compassion skills. That’s why I immediately devoured this book…and then read it again!
The honest and transparent vulnerability Lysa shows is admirable and lends credibility to the often-shunned category of “self help” books. Don’t let the title and cover description deter you. The concept of rejection and handling such feelings is indeed at the core of this book, but it is not only for those who have been abandoned or feel left out. Her take on basic human nature shows us the tools for maintaining healthy coping skills and learning the courage to extend grace and forgiveness because we really never know what others might be going though. A review on her website points out “[i]f you are searching for hope, this book has exactly what you need.”
In this excerpt, the author is referring to David’s Psalm 23:
David started this stunning soul declaration with the assurance that with God there is fullness. There is no lack. Nothing can be added or subtracted with human acceptance or rejection. With the fullness of God, we are free to let humans be humans — fickle and fragile and forgetful…The peace of our souls does not rise and fall with unpredictable people or situations. Our feelings will shift, of course. People do affect us. But the peace of our souls is tethered to all that God is. And though we can’t predict His specific plans, the fact that God will work everything together for good is a completely predictable promise.”
Pretty good stuff, right? I have gifted this book to several friends, and I recommend it to anyone who…well, really, just to anyone!
Perhaps one of my most favorite Sunday morning hymns is “It is Well With My Soul.” Although it is often used in times of grieving, this song is relevant to any situation in which we need to remind ourselves that peace within our souls will get us through any adversity we face. In How’s Your Soul, Judah Smith explores how to cultivate a healthy soul in the midst of this season of busyness most of us have found ourselves in. Sure we take time to make it to spin class and we make sure to buy hormone-free, organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts and we make it a point to invest as much into our 401k as possible, all in efforts to “take care of ourselves.” Important, yes, but often we are overlooking the part of us that most needs nurturing — our souls. The shape of our bodies or bank accounts won’t matter much when our souls are deprived, and this lighthearted book shows us that only by living intentionally to seek God’s truth will we truly experience peace and find that it is indeed well with our souls. I LOVE this book!
I’m a sucker for a good parenting book, and the timing was just right with this one. My son recently turned eight. He is wise beyond his years in so many ways and quite strong-willed, but he is a sensitive boy. A big heart is always a blessing and a curse, and I feel it is my job to help my son see this as the gift it truly is.
This book points out the innate need in males for not only love but also respect from an early age. Parental authority need not overlook this basic need to “see the man in the boy”; rather, coupled with a large dose of love, respect can bring much peace to both your son and you! What I love about this book is that it focuses not necessarily on “parenting,” but on strengthening our relationships with our sons. It’s easy to get caught up in getting through the day, with occasional reminders of manners and etiquette, without really stopping to connect with our children. I’m not saying to be their friend; they all desperately need and want the guidance of our parenting, even if they don’t know it! But as this book points out, showing respect is essential to not only their own self-respect, but to meeting our sons’ basic needs. Mother & Son is a great read for all boy moms!
Although they are a staple in any woman’s wardrobe, black pants are definitely not all created equally. This Enza Costa pleated “Easy Pant,” however, has earned the title of current favorite! For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a pair of go-to black pants. Thinking back on how my favorite styles have evolved, I get a little tickled (and maybe a tad embarrassed) as I recall the trends! The first pair of LBPs I remember having a relationship with was a wide-leg pair from Banana Republic my senior year of high school. My sister gave them to me for Christmas, and I thought they were just so chic. With the faintest hint of a pinstripe on the draped silk (or more likely, rayon) fabric, those pants made me feel like I was going places!
College in the late 90s, for better or worse, dawned a new era for “fashion.” Going out meant one of two things: black Express pants with a cropped top or black Express pants with a business casual button down. There was no in between; you either looked like you were about to get on stage and dance backup for Britney or head to your summer internship at Arthur Andersen! And there was really no rhyme or reason as to which direction you went on any given night. You might have anywhere from three to four bare bellies in your group right alongside the buttoned down law clerks. I suppose it could have been based on just how dedicated you’d been that week to your Abs of Steel VHS tape? The common denominator, however, was always the black stretchy, bootcut pants. So invested was I in the ubiquitous black bottoms from Express, I opened a line of credit just to purchase my outfits for evenings out. (No worries, Mom, it had a $500 credit limit!)
Law school and early career days ushered in the introduction of 7 For All Mankind jeans, thank goodness! We finally began dressing normally for happy hour, and black pants were reserved for court appearances and somber occasions. Hence the Theory suit pants still hanging in my closet. They were a splurge at the time, but I’m happy to say they are still “in” and well worth the investment! These days, however, black pants are just a great staple and great way to embrace trends while keeping a classic look intact. I’m in love with the silhouette of these pleated, tapered Enza Costa ankle pants, not to mention the comfort level. They pretty much feel like wearing pajamas, but paired with a pair of sexy stilettos, they make for a foxy little date night number. I can’t think of a better combo to earn the title of best LBPs ever!
Black pants: Enza Costa (similar by Vince Camuto) | Tank: Bobi | Shoes: Stuart Weitzman (similar by Steve Madden) | Clutch: Saint Laurent | Similar Gold Feather Earrings | Watch: Larsson & Jennings | Python cuff: Similar by Stephen Mikhail | Gold bangle: Marco Bicego | Gold feather cuff: Similar by House of Harlow | Hermes bracelet: Consigned version
Just before Thanksgiving, my sister traveled to NYC for a few days on a work trip, and I decided to join her for a little girl time. Our sister trips to the Big Apple usually consist of staying Uptown and schlepping all over to our favorite spots. What we’ve realized, though, is that many of our fave haunts are in Lower Manhattan, far away from much of the hustle and bustle, so we switched it up this time. At the risk of sounding like SNL’s Stefan, I’ve put together a guide of our go-to places to eat, stay, shop, and play in lower Manhattan. I have no clue about “New York’s hottest nightclub,” but I’m well-versed in shopping and eating!
WHERE TO STAY
Of course there is no shortage of awesome hotels in NYC, but sometimes narrowing them down can be overwhelming. We’ve done the work for you! These are a few of our faves in Lower Manhattan.
Ritz-Carlton Battery Park
2 West Street | 212-344-0800
My sister’s meetings were in the Financial District, so we booked the Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park. Due to an annoying flight delay, we didn’t arrive at the hotel until after midnight, but our travel woes disappeared when we realized we had been upgraded to a fabulous corner suite with views of the Hudson, the Statue of Liberty, and downtown Manhattan! Our room was even equipped with a telescope to check out Lady Liberty and beyond. The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park truly provides an uptown dose of pampering in a laidback downtown locale.
123 Nassau Street | 212-233-2300
For more of a “scene,” The Beekman manages to mesh its painstakingly restored 130-year old architecture with a hip artsy vibe and spacious (relatively speaking) rooms that are actually comfortable. No easy feat! The library-inspired Bar Room serves inspired craft cocktails in a cozy lounge illuminated by the Insta-famous pyramidal skylight at the top of the open atrium, and both on-site restaurants are impressive enough to justify never leaving the premises. Part of the Thompson Hotel portfolio, The Beekman just gets it right!
9 Crosby Street | 646-218-6400
Located in the heart of SoHo, NoMo is a gem of a hotel within walking distance to all of the curiosities this quirky neighborhood has to offer. The picturesque entrance and courtyard restaurant feel as if you’ve stepped into a magical fairy garden with twinkle lights and ivy-covered everything, and the lively ambiance and spot-on service make NoMo a destination in itself!
Gramercy Park Hotel
2 Lexington Avenue | 212-920-3300
Perhaps it is not technically considered Lower Manhattan, but Gramercy Park Hotel is close enough for me! We adore everything about this hotel, from the imaginative decor and impressive art collection to the chic Rose Bar and exclusive guest access to the private Gramercy Park.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Basically, we go to New York for all the French food!!
138 Lafayette Street | 212-271-4252
Located in the 11 Howard Hotel on Lafayette in SoHo, Le Coucou feels at once vintage and contemporary, and I can’t help but think this recently crowned James Beard winner for “Best New Restaurant” will become a classic staple for upscale French dining.
5 Beekman Street | 212-375-0010
While the vibe at Augustine (one of two eateries in The Beekman) is decidedly Parisian, the food definitely has an all-American flair — the whisky burger, to my surprise and delight, was served with a shot of bourbon! Along with the requisite frites and aioli, it was easily my favorite meal of the trip.
80 Spring Street | 212-965-1414
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Balthazar (yes, another brasserie…NYC just does them so well!) offers comforting faves like French onion soup and reliably delicious steak frites in a cozy neighborhood setting. You may have to get over the fact that the strangers at the adjacent table are so close they could feasibly split your meal, but that’s part of the fun at Balthazar. Besides, it could be a super cool celeb, like Isla Fisher, who was at the bar next to us!
767 Washington Street | 212-243-1053
For a carefree, dancing-on-the-table kind of night, head to Tortilla Flats. This kitschy cantina boasts weekly bingo and hula hoop contests, and the Mexican fare is surprisingly very solid…especially for New York!
181 W. 10th Street | 212-488-2626
Although we didn’t make it this trip, Bobo is always a favorite. With its gorgeous decor and elegant French menu (are you noticing a trend?), this West Village spot is a design lover’s dream!
Other notables include Jack’s Wife Freda (224 Lafayette Street | 212-510-8550) an understated American-Mediterranean bistro, The Bao (13 St. Marks Place) known for their delicate Shanghai-style soup dumplings, Raoul’s (180 Prince Street | 212-966-3518) a timeless NYC bistro that will having you feeling like a character in a Woody Allen film, Carbone (181 Thompson Street | 212-254-3000), a glam red-sauce Italian joint, and Waverly Inn (16 Bank Street | 917-828-1154), infamous for serving the “worst food in New York” according to Donald Trump! Waverly Inn may be considered passé to some, but to me, it’s timeless. I love feeling as if I’m eating my delicious meal in a good friend’s home. And the people watching is next to none….I sat across from Uma Thurman during my last visit! Last but not least, no trip is complete without a stop at Ladurée (398 West Broadway | 646-392-7868) for a box of beautiful macarons!
WHERE TO SHOP
While my sister attended her meetings, I took full advantage of the glorious fall weather by walking around and poking my head into all of the adorable shops SoHo has to offer! I adore the Old World vibe of this neighborhood, from the cobblestone streets to the unique merchants and galleries. Without an agenda, I tried to just explore without the aid of my phone. I did go in a few circles, but it’s not a trip to New York without losing your way once or twice! Here are a few of my favorite discoveries:
16 Howard Street | 212-625-1797
This fabulously quirky boutique is filled with bespoke wares created in M. Crow owner Tyler Hays’s Philadelphia workshop. The meticulously hand-painted wooden jigsaw puzzles are true works of art and kept me browsing this gallery-like shop for close to an hour!
459 Broome Street | 212-420-8796
If you know me, you know my creative skills are…let’s just say underwhelming. Knitting is not on my resume, but after perusing the lovely, colorful display of yarn at Purl SoHo, I just may need to schedule some lessons. The rainbow of raw materials on display is inspirational, and the helpful, friendly staff makes this a place to which you want to return.
Rudy’s Music Shop
461 Broome Street | 212-625-2557
My son has recently taken up guitar playing, and Rudy’s Music Shop is such a fun place to poke around for him. Full of Fenders and Gibsons, both vintage and new, this is a great stop for any music lover.
27 Howard Street | 212-343-0033
For the design lovers, Michele Varian is a fabulously eclectic home and lifestyle boutique, featuring stunning wallpaper and lighting designed by Varian herself. Great stop for a unique gift or conversation-starting accent.
MoMA Design Store
81 Spring Street | 646-613-1367
Though the Museum of Modern Art is located in Midtown, the MoMA Design Store has an outpost in SoHo, conveniently located directly across the street from Balthazar. The MoMA Store has so many cool and unique items that make great gifts or souvenirs. I had several friends celebrating big milestone birthdays immediately following my trip, and I chose to gift them each with a set of Kaleido modular trays by Swedish designer Clara von Zweigbergk. So fun!
For the fashionistas, SoHo is heaven on earth! Walk to favorites Isabel Marant (469 Broome Street |212-219-2284) for effortless, upscale Parisian-designed items with a Bohemian flare, The Reformation (23 Howard Street | 212-510-8455) for California-cool “killer clothes that don’t kill the environment,” Zimmermann (55 Mercer Street | 212-226-6440) for sophisticated and feminine frocks designed by an Australian sister duo, Marissa Webb (104 Grand Street | 212-334-1853) for accessible yet edgy pieces, and of course Intermix (98 Prince Street | 212-966-5303) for all of it!
WHAT TO SEE
Eden Fine Art Gallery
470 Broome Street | 212-888-0177
Galleries abound all over the city, but Eden Fine Art Gallery has an identity all its own. Featuring colorful pop-art pieces from a handful of Israeli artists, this outpost is the ninth location by this husband-wife duo — locations include Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, San Francisco, and St. Barth. What I love about this place is that you simply cannot leave here in a bad mood. The art itself is lively and uplifting, and the cheery curators and directors will make you feel right at home.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
180 Greenwich Street | 212-227-7931
I am usually not one for the big tourist attractions in New York. I’ve not been to the Empire State Building, I’ve only seen Lady Liberty from afar, and I steer clear of Times Square at all costs, but I have wanted to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum for years. Because it was within walking distance from where we were staying in Battery Park, my sister and I headed there on our way to dinner. It was sobering and emotional, but it felt like an important thing to do. It is tastefully done, and although I did not personally know any of the victims honored here, I felt like I was paying my respects in a way. I hope to go back next trip and spend more time in the museum.
Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th Street | 212-221-1211
I totally realize Broadway is nowhere near the geographical limitations of this Lower Manhattan favorites guide, but I’m throwing this in here because Uber! It took us about 30 minutes to get to the Richard Rodgers Theatre from our dinner at Augustine, and it was worth every minute of the drive. Hamilton is the real deal, and although I sometimes have trouble staying focused during musicals, I was captivated by this show and its brilliant use of hip-hop numbers to tell the story of Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton.
Spring in Texas can be confusing…85 degrees the day before school let out for spring break and down in the 40s once the kids were out! So aggravating! But the one thing we can always count on is rain. I have a severe aversion to the air conditioning settings most places utilize on a good day, but when I’m wet from rain and have to be indoors, I can get chilled to the bone. I’ve learned to just cover up. No matter what season we’re in or what the thermometer reads, I need my arms, legs, and toes covered when it rains! This is the perfect outfit for a day like today!
This Free People split-back top has been such a favorite of mine. I’ve worn it with jeans, yoga leggings, and cutoffs. The fabric is woven in sweater-like fashion, but it’s lightweight and not the least bit scratchy. It also comes in an array of colors for those a little more adventurous. I usually wear it with a tank underneath for a little coverage, but the amount of skin exposed from the split-back is minimal and just adds a cute detail. It is the perfect transition top, from cool to warm weather AND from barre class to carpool!
I’m wearing it here with my fave Mother Denim distressed skinny jeans. I heart Mother jeans so much (you may recall from this post about the flares I fell in love with). The fit is so good, and their washes are spot on. Another favorite, my studded Anine Bing booties, have gone everywhere with me since I got them last fall…to the point my daughter has decided I need to wear some of my other shoes every now and then. They are super comfortable and go with everything. I love them with jeans; I love them with dresses; I love them with shorts….I love them in a car; I love them in a bar! 😉 And of course a rainy day calls for hair protection. Brixton makes such great hats at such approachable prices. I’m wearing the Indiana fedora, and I also love the Pacific straw version for summertime.
It’s a mess out there today….stay dry and covered!!
Top: Free People | Jeans: Mother (similar by BLANKNYC) | Booties: Anine Bing (similar by Vince Camuto) | Fedora: Brixton (summer straw version) | Bag: Chanel (similar Chanel and Jerome Dreyfuss) | Belt: J.Crew, sold out (similar by Anderson’s and less expensive option by Halogen) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban