Fashion · Organization

What is your “It” bag?

IMG_0574Sex and the City made certain bags cult classics, if they weren’t already.  The Birkin and the Kelly are certainly “it” bags but I’m asking a more nuanced question here.  What makes a bag or a style of bag your own personal go to bag?  Confession time, I’m something of a bag connoisseur.  I love handbags and have since I was around three years old and was gifted a Chanel inspired bag as part of my Easter ensemble.  I loved that bag and cried and cried when I discovered my Mom “gifted” it to a younger child years later.

I have many lovely handbags but I find that, time and time again, I return to a particular type.  My personal “it” style is an unstructured tote.  The Louis Vuitton Neverfull and the Goyard St. Louis fit the profile perfectly and are the bags I return to daily.  This style is perfect for the “dump”.  In addition to wallet, phone and keys, it holds files, an iPad or laptop, leggings for after work yoga or Pilates or barre class and about anything else I think I’ll need between the time I leave for work and return home.  This style also makes a perfect carry-on bag.  I can’t count the number of times my St. Louis has been stuffed under the seat in front of me on an air plane.

While the unstructured tote is my go to bag of choice, I also have a soft spot for a hobo style bag and a bucket bag.  Goyard’s fidji / hobo bag is a favorite.  Smaller than the St. Louis or the Neverfull, the hobo bag is slightly smaller but still holds everything I might need sans laptop and has the added advantage of a zipper.

Next on my list of favorite bag styles is the bucket bag.  Celine’s cabas /tote is in my bag rotation.  The bucket bag is deep and the chief flaw is its depth.  It is easy for an item to fall to the bottom and get lost but it has the same advantages of an unstructured tote.  It is another “dump” bag.

Do you see the common characteristics?  My personal “it” style bag needs to be:

  • light because I’m going to stuff it;
  • discrete; and
  • able to accommodate the dump because I’m going to fill it with everything I need for a day in my life.

So what are the characteristics that make a bag your own personal “it” bag?

Fashion

The Capsule Wardrobe

I keep hearing about creating a capsule wardrobe.  As I understand it, the idea is to embrace minimalism and concentrate on quality pieces that work together to make fabulous outfits.  I love the concept but confess that I’m having trouble with the execution.

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This fall I promised myself that I was limiting my purchases to items that met two criteria.  The first criteria was that they were basics and quality such that they would stand the test of time.  The second criteria required that any item must work with things already in my closet.  This worked well.  I walked away from some lovely items knowing that I already had similar ones in my closet or that they would not stand the test of time.  The unintended effects were great as in money in my bank account and the re-discovery of items that I loved but were no longer being worn, like my favorite black cashmere sweater.  I’ve had a ton of fun mixing old, forgotten, favorites in with new pieces. I tend towards dimple pieces that I can accessorize with simple pieces of jewelry or a scarf.   I am sold on the concept of fewer quality pieces that stand the test of time.  I also realized that my favorite pieces seem to be those that I found in January at the clearance sales at Saks and Bergdorf’s.  What is better than finding a treasure at 75% off.

In thinking about spring, I’m now trying to decide what direction to take my capsule wardrobe.  For the winter it is somewhat easy, I lean towards  pieces in neutral tones of black, navy, red, and gray.  Cashmere is a favorite and add in jeans and leggings and I’m done.  Booties, boots, and ballet flats are a must for me.

So what for the spring and summer?  I tend to be slightly more casual in the summer than the winter.  I’m thinking white denim and J McLaughlin’s Catalina cloth?  Regardless, I’m embracing the less is more and staying  with black, white, blue and red and maybe pink and yellow or orange for the spring and summer!  Cotton replaces cashmere, otherwise, stay tuned.

Etiquette · Fashion

Cinderella Goes to the Ball

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Okay, I’m not Cinderella, but I do love to get dressed up and go dancing and have a night out every so often.  Doesn’t every girl have an inner Cinderella?  The shoes, the dress, the wrap, the bag, the hair, nails and makeup?  Let’s not forget the jewels!  So you are ready for the big night but there is one ingredient missing, Prince Charming.  So Cinderella went to the ball unescorted what’s holding back an independent, modern woman of today?  Absolutely nothing!  Go have fun, enjoy a great dinner and good friends, a great band and tons of dressing.  Oh, did I mention a fabulous pair of shoes!

Going to such an event is something of a treat.  You want the perfect dress and shoes and accessories.  The bill for a night out can begin to add up.  My trick is to invest in accessories that I can use again and again and find a relatively inexpensive dress.  I have two pair of dress shoes, the Carrie Manolos in black and a par of jimmy Choos in pearl.   They  are neutral and go with almost any dress.  They are my investment but  they get pulled out for every formal event.  For my evening bag, I scoured eBay and my Mom’s closet.  She has some great evening clothes.  I even discovered this amazing black cocktail dress from the 60’s that is now in my closet (don’t tell!).  On eBay I scored a beautiful black Judith Leiber bag that I’ve used again and again.  I also keep an eye out for costume jewelry pieces that can make a simple dress pop.  Two years ago, I received complement after complement on a “bubble” necklace of large clear glass beads.  Worn with a simple black gown and diamond earrings, the outfit was a hit.

Uber replaced the pumpkin coach and off to the ball I went for a ton of fun.  Hey, once a year it is fun to play Cinderella and maybe my Prince Charming will eventually show up.

 

 

 

Exercise · Food · Travel

A Visit to Colonial Williamsburg

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Are you ready to take a trip back in time?  Colonial Williamsburg is the restoration of the town of Williamsburg, pre Revolution.  In other words, welcome to a living history museum set in the 18th century.  You literally take a trip back in time.  The buildings are restored and the docents are in period attire.  If you’ve not been, I can recommend you visit.

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I love visiting. Colonial Williamsburg operates multiple hotels on the property for visitors to enjoy.  My favorite is th Williamsburg Inn.  Every time I visit I feel like I’ve died and gone to pampering heaven.  The rooms are beautiful, the service designed to make you feel like a princess, even the Queen has stayed there.

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The Inn and the nearby Lodge are perfect for access to the historic area.  What better for exercise than a walk or run around the historic district? Merchant’s Square is a fun stop for shopping and eating.  The Cheese Shop is a must visit for a quick bite. The Fat Canary great for supper, although my personal favorite is the Blue Talon.

The Blue Talon restaurant is a French bistro within east walking distance to the Inn.  Their mac-n-cheese is to die for and the garden salad the perfect accompaniment.  The menu is replete with excellent choices and the wine menu is to die for.  Added fun are the replays of The French Chef, Julia Child’s tv program.  My favorite is that I can have a wonderful dinner and walk back to the Inn.  The Inn also has a wonderful breakfast.  Sunday brunch is legendary and don’t forget to grab a cocktail from the Restoration Bar or the patio bar, depending upon the weather.

No visit to CW would be complete without a visit to the spa. I always opt for a massage and leave time for the whirlpool and the steam room.

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CW offers so much from golf and tennis to museums to history to shopping.  There is something for everyone.

Fashion

Brrr . . . It’s cold outside!

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I love a good snow and I’m a huge fan of winter but I’m also born and bred southern so when it gets down in the single digits, I’m happy to snuggle up by a nice warm fire and count my blessings.

Still, who doesn’t enjoy a good snow?  There is something I love about a good snowstorm.  I love curling up with a good book and watching it snow.  Even better when the pup snuggles in beside me.  Speaking of the pup, she loves the snow.  Who knew a miniature dachshund would love to play in snow drifts over her little head?

This leads me towards my outdoor wardrobe (and hers).  Kenan has her own wardrobe of coats and sweaters.  A lovely pink turtleneck sweater from Canine Styles and a cute red fleece coat for playing in the snow.  For me, wool gloves, matching scarf and hat with a down coat.  I have two to snuggle up in.  A red Canadian Goose and a black Moncler.  I know there is much debate about which is best.  I love both.  The Moncler has gone with me to Paris and Prague and kept me warm walking in freezing weather in December.  The Canadian Goose was purchased during a blizzard in New York and kept me toasty.

Footwear is key in bad weather.  My first year living in New York, I learned this the hard way.  Growing up sneakers always served as reliable for walking and playing in the rare North Carolina snows.  That first snow in the City proved I was not in the South anymore.  One block from my apartment and my feet and sneakers were soaked.  I went directly to Saks, did not pass go, and purchased a beautiful pair of snow boots.  I still have those boots and have added a pair of Hunter boots with socks.  Both keep my feet toasty and dry.

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Me?  I plan to enjoy this season.  Play with the pup in the snow all bundled up and warm in my outdoor gear and enjoy a good hot fire with hot chocolate or tea to defrost!

Stay warm!

 

Food · Home · Organization

What’s for dinner? Kitchen Staples

 

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What do you keep in your pantry or kitchen?  I’ve been cleaning out closets and generally organizing things.  The kitchen is next on my list.  My cleaning binge sparked the question of what are my staples?  What are those items that are “go tos” for my kitchen?  Let me start with the fact that I cook.  Take out is a rare thing for me and while I love eating out, it tends to be a social occasion with friends for me.  This means that I cook dinner most nights, breakfast and sometimes even lunch.  My doctor is all for this.  She tells me to eat on the outside of the grocery.  By this she means fresh veggies, fresh meat and fish, avoid the frozen food section and go light on the canned goods.  Avoiding the canned goods may be the most difficult part.

So what are my kitchen staples?

Meat:  Chicken, chicken sausage, bacon, beef, pork chops, shrimp, salmon

Canned goods:  tuna, chicken stock, beef stock, green beans, tomatoes, beans of all types

Vegetables and fruits:  tomatoes, asparagus, lettuce, squash, apples, onions, grapefruit, grapes, blueberries, broccolini

Frozen foods:  corn, mixed vegetables, broccoli

Add in butter, flour, eggs, milk, sugar and cheese and I can whip up something healthy in minimal time.  I tend to go for soups and stews that I can make up on Saturday or Sunday and eat on during the week.  I love rice, potatoes, and pasta but they only love my waistline so I limit them to twice a month.

Suggestions for a new soup or stew?

 

Business · Decorating · Home · interior design · Organization

Paper versus online?

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I love office supplies and stationery stores.  So many tempting items.  Pens, pencils, notebooks, calendars, agendas, and supplies to organize.  Can we name January organization month?  It is the beginning of the year and time to start fresh and organize everything for the beginning of a new year.

I use a combination of online and paper to keep my life organized.

  • Agendas – I keep two one that I keep by my bed (Inslee by Design at Inslee.net) and one that fits in my tote.

 

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  • Office calendar – I use a circa calendar (weekly version) in the office.  It serves as a diary in addition to a calendar.  Appointments, phone numbers, meetings and projects and related notes end up there.
  • Online calendar – I keep all my appointments entered in an online calendar that is synched to my phone and iPad.  I love having that information electronically available and at my finger tips.
  • iPhone reminder app – I love this app.  I keep my to do list, grocery list and every other kind of conceivable list there.  It synchs across my devices and I can enter due dates.
  • Ulysses notebooks – I keep three going at all times.  One has important facts related to contacts and other key life information.  It is the notebook I take in advent of fire.  Also, it includes information I don’t want available online.  The other notebooks are more project based and hold notes for various projects and from related meetings.  One or both always seems in my tote.

 

  • Online file storage – this is a must and is available from a variety of different services.
  • Circa notebook system – I love this system.  I have custom notebooks for every project.  Small ones for travel, large ones for large projects and everything in between.

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Last but not least is my converted hope chest.  I’m southern so, of course, I have a hope chest.  Actually I inherited it from my grandmother who got it from her grandmother.  While my grandmother kept lines and her memories in her chest, I’ve turned mine into a file cabinet.  I outfit the interior with hanging folders and use it to organize and keep the papers I don’t want online or those things that simply don’t lend themselves to scanning. Added bonus is that the chest looks beautiful in my office.

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