Category Archives: Fashion

Postcard: Kid-friendly London

London is one of the best cities in the world, so when my husband was heading there for business, I knew I wanted to join him. The timing was over the summer, so with the blessings of good luck, we took our daughter and made the most of it. The first week of our trip, was all London, then we spent the next week seeing Bath, the Cotswolds and Windsor, before heading up to Edinburgh for a few days.

London

We decided to stay in the oldest neighborhood, which is called the City of London (Roman walls still exist in places). It served as a home-base to nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, Museum of London and the financial district. It’s also just across the Thames from the Southwark neighborhood, which includes the Globe Theater, Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market and the Tate Modern. We rented a flat for the week, rather than book a hotel, so we could have more family-friendly space and eat-in when we wanted, for a far more reasonable price. The location turned out to be ideal for us and we loved hearing the bells of St. Paul throughout the day.

Here’s an early morning picture of the street where we stayed (on Carter Lane), very close to St. Paul’s Cathedral. By evening, it was filled with young professionals having a pint after work.

Carter Lane

Carter Lane, near St. Paul’s Cathedral

At the British Museum we got to see Egyptian mummies (including Cleopatra), the Rosetta Stone, Sutton Hoo (an extensive collection of Anglo-Saxton artifacts), The Lewis Chessman (82 iconic chess pieces that testify to the cultural ties between Britain and Scandinavia circa 1150 AD), Viking artifacts and gorgeous Asian arts. The stunning atrium architecture (below) is a mix of historic and modernistic. Afterward, we went to Coram Fields, near Russell Square, where my daughter could climb, zip-line and do kid-stuff.

British Museum

British Museum

We spent some time checking out the royal Horse Guard in their impressive uniforms. This did not rank very high with our daughter, but I thought it was fun to see. She also did not appreciate all the ‘creepy dead people’ in the floor tombs at Westminster Abbey, but gave Big Ben two thumbs up. We all loved climbing up the steps to the Whispering Gallery at St. Paul’s Cathedral and taking the London Eye. It’s definitely worth the extra effort if you have older kids in tow.

Horse Guard

Horse Guard

Horse Guard

Horse Guard

Parliament

Parliament and Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, from the inner courtyard

Having been to London a few times before, I didn’t have an enormous checklist of tourist sights to see. For me, it was more about experiencing it as a family and planting the travel bug in our daughter. The best moments are the ones that you never plan for. She marveled at the number of different languages she heard and took in all the different cultures and types of people she saw. She got energized by taking the Tube and being in charge of figuring out our daily route. She loved seeing impressionist art by Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Manet, and Pissaro all together, at the bite-sized Courtauld Museum. At Somerset House she had the chance to run through the jet-fountain courtyard. She got to stand on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, just after walking the deck of the Cutty Sark, whose wood still smells of tea from voyages to China long ago.

Somerset House fountain courtyard

Somerset House jet fountains

It’s cool stuff and I think it helps shrink the world for a kid. My hope is that she’ll feel more connected to the broader world and realize that how we live in our town, is not the only way to live.

 –> Up next: Bath, the Cotswolds & Edinburgh

x Laura

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.
And all plans, safeguards, policies and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

– John Steinbeck

7 Cool-Weather Vests For Right Now

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got most of your summer clothes, a handful of sweaters, a few sandals, a few boots and all kinds of tees stuffing your closet right now. The weather is bouncing between warm and cool, and everyday is a guessing game. This is when I love to move my vests to the forefront. They work for cool mornings/evenings, give outfits a more fall-like look, and they can be worn right into colder months. Following are some really fantastic vests available right now:

7 fall Vests to wear now (and Later)

Layfayette 148 New York Vest, $448

Anthropologie Temescal Fring Vest, $198

JOA Brushed Plaid Vest, $129

Iris & Ink Shearling Vest, $595

Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, $275

 

OAK Wool-blend Vest, $470

Some of these picks are casual and some more dressy. If you’re a trend-follower, the fringe and folk print vests are for you. I also really like the longer lines on a few of these and can see them looking sleek over slim pants or skinnies. While I always try to keep the price-points at less than $500, the Iris & Ink shearling vest crept past that mark. Sorry! (I could not find a cuter real shearling vest.)

Hope you’ll dig out a vest from your closet and put it into rotation. We can’t ignore the turning leaves for much longer.

x Laura

Disturbance

Bang, bang, whirr, slam, thump, thump.

We’re three weeks into a home renovation project that still has a few more weeks to go. And I’m so grateful for all the noise, clunking, dust and strangers tromping through the house. Not because I love the disturbances, but because I’m keeping my sights on the end result. When we moved into ‘this old house’ over a decade ago, we thought we’d redo everything within 5 years, max. The list was long, but how hard could it be?! Well, we were naive about everything, but especially how much time it would take and how many other things took priority over renovating (roof, windows, insulation, exterior, baby, dog, cars, vacation, jobs, etc.) We’re getting closer to having it fixed up, but we’re not there yet.

Having the house in a state of destruction got me thinking about disturbances in fashion. Many designers do collections that are pleasing, balanced and perfect, but I’m also intrigued by the slightly off-kilter collections that show jarring lines, odd cut-outs, wayward colors, and fabric that’s been damaged, torn or pieced-together. There’s a lot to be said for errant design. It can be innovative, quirky, unexpected and modern.

Here are some favorite disturbances from the Fall 2014 runway:

Bottega Veneta Fall 2014 (style.com)

Wes Gordon Fall 2014 (style.com)

Belstaff Fall 2014 (style.com)

Celine Fall 2014 (style.com)

Giambattista Valli Fall 2014 (style.com)

Peter Som Fall 2014 (style.com)

When we shake things up, we end up on a new path. We don’t always know how it will end, but we know it will be different. Disturbances push us, test us, and interrupt the peace. Hopefully, in the end, we’re able to construct a better way.

x Laura

Five for Fall

Sitting here in a sweater and pair of boots for the first time this season, I guess it’s time to fully embrace the coming of fall. It’s my favorite season, with the moderate temps, gorgeous foliage colors, and the introspective mood before the coming of winter. As nature scurries to prepare for the onset of cold weather, I follow suit with a new-found energy toward finishing projects and clearing out our nest. There’s no use in trying to stop the change.

Jason Wu Spring 2015 Ready-To-Wear (New York). style.com

Making the summer-to-fall leap:

  1. Fashion shows for Spring have begun! New York, London, Milan and Paris will show collections over the next two months. I’ve started a Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear cheat sheet here to track trends, colors and fabrics.
  2. Donate, sell and consign. Good grief — the clutter! Create a haven in your space this winter by clearing out unwanted things now. Start small with a bag or two. Please don’t freak out and do too much. Slow and steady is better.
  3. Get the house winterized while the weather is still nice. Here’s a helpful list of maintenance items to get done now –  To Do: September Home Checklist
  4. My workout routine was non-existent this summer, so it’s time to make it a priority again. I’ve signed up for two classes and am ready to kick some booty. No time for the gym? Check out this printable No Running Required, 20-minute Cardio Workout.
  5. Plan the next vacation. Summer trips are still fresh in our memories, but fall and winter breaks will be here before we know it. Don’t get shut out by waiting too long. 5 Things Smart Travelers Should Do in September.

Lastly, here’s a 15-second beauty cheat. I just got wise to this brow product that is really fantastic. Gimme Brow by Benefit ($22) has a tiny mascara-like brush that fills in brows, even where they are seriously lacking. Covers little grey hairs, adds dimension to the arch and tail, and fills in patchy areas. It’s kind of a brow miracle and very easy to use.

Gimme Brow by Benefit

Enjoy all the good things that September brings.

x Laura

“My heart is drumming in my chest so hard it aches, but it’s the good kind of ache, like the feeling you get on the first real day of autumn, when the air is crisp and the leaves are all flaring at the edges and the wind smells just vaguely of smoke – like the end and the beginning of something all at once.”
Lauren Oliver, Delirium

Just Read: Cold Earth + Eight More

Book Collage - 2014

Sometimes my reading choices are right in the thick of the mainstream, and very book-of-the-moment (i.e. Gone Girl, Divergent) and sometimes I’m off doing my own thing. The books I’ve read so far this year (which included Divergent, but you don’t need me to talk about that one), have been a mixed bag.

I absolutely loved Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe, because I am such a child of that era, growing up at the same time, seeing the movies that he’s starring in. If you think he’s just another pretty-boy-airhead, you will be convinced otherwise and if you only know him from The West Wing, you’ll get a taste for his geeky-to-golden-boy early years. He narrates the audio book, which is how I read it, and it’s a treat to have his voice telling his story.

Quick Reviews

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss. Archaeology, haunted dig site and a race against the clock before the winter weather seals them off from the helicopter pick-up. Do not read while camping.

The Smartest Kids In The World by Amanda Ripley. Revealing thesis to why some countries have better prepared kids for success than others, and how we can learn from them.

When Wanderers Cease To Roam by Vivian Swift. Where do I start with this gorgeously written and illustrated seasonal journal? Vivian Swift has been a global nomad for twenty years and has finally set down her backpack. Now she roams her small village and finds a world of beauty within its smallness. Received a copy for my birthday from my mother-in-law and loved it enough to buy another one as a gift to my mother.

Are We Nearly There Yet? by Ben Hatch. Crazy, adventurous, funny, poignant, and a 5-month snapshot of what middle-age looks like for some. Sandwiched between young children and family illness, Ben Hatch ping-pongs between sippy cups, hospital visits, and a 5-month road trip with two kids under age four. Madness. Glad to have read it.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. See paragraph above.

Le Road Trip by Vivian Swift. For Francophiles, the newly coupled, or those who are interested in the musings on being a traveler rather than a tourist. Gorgeously illustrated with her watercolors and written with her unique observations. Liked it less than When Wanderers Cease To Roam, but still good.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.  Mother and son get through cancer treatments, dismal diagnosis and family dynamics with a very personal book club. Not my favorite book this year, but might be good for others.

Currently Reading

BookCollage-cabinet-wild

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski (children/YA fiction – my daughter loved this book and insisted I read it. Also got a thumbs up from her teacher.)

Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Fiction – received rave reviews, so I’m on the bandwagon once again.)

 Hope your summer allows for reading time. Let me know what books you’re reading and what you like/didn’t like. I’m all ears.

x Laura