The Ten: Breakfasts I Love

 

Breakfast has become my most revered daily habit over the last two years. After getting my son ready, fed, and dressed for preschool I come home to a quiet home and engage in the meditative process of making something just for me. I’ve decided it needs to be delicious, healthy, and feel very luxurious. Though the luxury is just in getting to be by myself for a bit and slow down!

It is also true that eating breakfast is an extremely healthy thing to do for a variety of reasons, including weight control. You can read more here and here.

Here are some of my favorite things to eat for breakfast. My husband is the one who makes pancakes and french toast on the weekends. The other items are weekday treats I whip up myself. Click through the slideshow above, and get the details, recipes, and photo links below.

Avocado on Toast with a Boiled Egg on the Side. A classic favorite of mine, I love avocado with a sprinkle of sea salt and a bit of honey on great bread. If I want a savory version I’ll skip the honey and do some chopped tomato and cilantro. I add a boiled egg on the side to get some protein in. Photo via here.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes. Michael makes great pancakes. My favorite is cottage cheese with currants. These pancakes pack a lot of protein into every bite. I follow with a glass of vegetable juice to get some vitamins in. Photo via here.

Greek Yogurt with Fruit and Granola. My favorite breakfast in the warm weather! We make our granola of home with a heavy concentration of toasted almonds. This plus the the yogurt packs a serious protein punch. Berries round it out for a perfect breakfast. Be sure to measure about a quarter cup only of granola into a cup of yogurt to keep the portion size right. Photo via here.

Pear Ginger Smoothie. My favorite recipe for a smoothie calls for: 1 pear peeled, seeded, and cubed, 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger, 1/2 cup almond milk, and 1/2 cup carrot juice. Blend all ingredients together for a delicious treat! I will also eat toast with almond butter with this for protein and extra energy. Photo via here.

Huevos Rancheros. The mother of all breakfasts! I swear by this recipe here and would eat it every day if I could! You can keep the ranchero sauce ready and simply heat it up and add the eggs for a quick breakfast. Photo via here.

English Muffin with Cheddar and Apple. Here is a very simple idea for breakfast that can break you out of your morning rut. If you do not keep english muffins on hand put the cheddar and apples on toast. Delish! Photo via here.

French Toast topped with Stewed Fruit. Another weekend breakfast treat, french toast is simple and quick to make. Skip syrup and top the french toast with seasonal fruit. My favorite toppings are berries with basil in summer, and apples cooked in butter and cinnamon in the winter. Photo via here.

Breakfast Quinoa. I love this recipe here, although I replace the apricots with cubed apple. So surprisingly delicious I could actually eat it every day! We keep prepared quinoa in the refrigerator so that we can simply cook up the other ingredients and stir the ready quinoa in for weekday breakfasts. Photo via here.

Scrambled Ricotta. An amazingly delicious alternative to scrambled eggs. Ricotta cooked down in a skillet with the addition of herbs and some finely chopped veggies is a decadent treat. There is a lot of protein and you can use lowfat ricotta with good results. I like to have some grapefruit and toast with it. Photo via here.

Veggie Omelet with Toast. I love a good cheese omelet.  We will add whatever we happen to have on hand, including leftover roasted or sauteed veggies from dinner dishes. Photo via here.

The Ten: My Wardrobe Essentials

Today’s Ten takes up the question of wardrobe essentials. If you are going to develop your personal style, you need to know what your essentials are. I thought reading mine might help. This list is definitely not meant to be universal. But it is a good point of comparison for you. Know this first:

I do not own a white shirt, little black dress, or black pumps. No one has ever called me the queen of practical dressing. These, however, are all items that I own more than three of and cannot seem to live without. In the world according to me, every gal over the age of 30 should own at least one of each of these items. So with that giant-sized grain of salt, here are my top 10 wardrobe essentials.

1. A Totally Not Black Statement Dress

My perfect dress is the antithesis to the LBD. I am one of those people who do not look great in black. I just never feel like me if I am wearing too much of it. I still love a great little dress, but all of mine feature standout details and a lot of personality. Shown here are 2 All Saints dresses, one featuring a neutral print, and the other my favorite shade of beigy-pink with zipper embellishments.

The keys to picking the right statement dress are cut and fit. You should learn which lines look best on your body type and always stick with those. Dresses that create a waist line look best on me. I feel great in a-line skirts and hourglass shape dresses. Straight cut, boxy shirt dresses, tight, and very short dresses are NOT right on me, but they may look great on you. The dress should also fit you perfectly to really make a statement.

Go for color and print, but pick those that make you feel like you. I cannot do neon brights, yellow, or super bold and busy prints. I usually opt for prints that have a softer, more painterly look to them.

Once you know what your personal statement look is, you will be able to identify the perfect dresses for you whenever you see them without falling for every trend that might not work for you.

2. A Slouchy Handbag

I have a hard time finding handbags. I feel that most look unnatural on me. The key for me has been soft and unusual colors, distressed details, mellow-toned hardware, and a super slouchy shape.

I know many of you will opt for a neater look. And it is true that I can often be found rummaging wildly for keys and all manner of things, since my bags often do not have compartments. Still, I love my slouchy bags. Please try one for the weekend at least!

3. Skinny Jeans

I believe that skinny jeans look good on everyone. I could not survive without my collection of Joe’s Jeans Skinnys. My absolute must have pair are super dark rinse. They can look formal and business like for work, and they add snap to dressed down looks too. This past year I’ve added skinnies in a range of colors, and yes, print. They’ve really added more versatility to my basic look, which is skinny jeans, with a blouse, jacket, and heels.

4. A Silk Blouse

A closet full of nice silk blouses in easy-to-wear colors has transformed my wardrobe in recent years. I used to wear mostly tees and more casual shirts under my jackets, and I was frustrated because I could not find a professional look that worked for me.

Wearing a well-designed silk blouse with interesting details under a jacket has elevated my skinny jeans to the right level for my work and lifestyle. And working with clients on their personal style, I can say that the addition of silk blouses to even the most casual of wardrobes makes a big difference.

A silk blouse is sophisticated  and comfortable. In warmer weather you can wear them alone with jeans or shorts, strappy sandals, and simple jewelry. In colder weather they are thin enough to layer beautifully with jackets, coats, and sweaters. They come in enough different cuts and colors to mean that anyone can find a few that are right for them.

5. A Leather Jacket

On to my guiltiest wardrobe pleasure. A leather jacket serves many purposes. It can be worn like a blazer over a silk blouse, thrown over tees, and be a key piece in making dresses and skirts work in more casual settings.

You really only need one great leather jacket in a basic color. But if you find yourself wearing it almost daily, it could be a good sign that you are ready for a blazer-cut leather or an unusual color. You could also try one of the amazingly well done faux leather jackets available everywhere these days to get the look at a fraction of the price. I have both real and faux leather jackets that I wear with everything.

6. Eye Catching Heels

Nothing makes me feel more well-dressed and styled than a lovely pair or heels. My requirements for pumps are that they not be too basic (ie: black or tan). I love unusual colors, like olive, and deep blue. I also like more distressed or worn in finishes, suede, or perhaps some embellishment. I find that if you wear really nice heels (and some eyeliner or lipstick), you can get away with some fashion risks. For example, I love slouchy looks. High  heels and a swash of makeup spruce the slouch up just enough so that it does not appear sloppy.

If you do not wear heels you can ease into it like I did. One year I decided to trade in my flats for 1.5 inch heels. By the next year I was up to 2 or 2.5 inches. The following year I did 3″. It worked! Now I can wear a 4″ heel if I need to, though I find that 3.5″ is very comfortable and there are many shoe shopping options at that height.

7. Embellished Tanks

Sequins, beading, lace, embroidery, even gathers or stripes, are all adornments on the many dressy little tops that I have in my closet. I used to view these items as strictly “going-out” wear, but now I happily reach for them to wear under jackets and blazers every day. These little touches really elevate an outfit to the level of interesting. Evening pieces for day has been an ongoing trend that really hit a high point this fall. I love it because I love working that balance between dressy and casual that defines style and design for me right now.

 8. Boho Boots

I love having a good little wardrobe of boots. I like to be warm and cozy in the cooler weather so I never feel like wearing regular shoes. But I also like to have options! My main requirement for boots is that they look a little bit rebel. I think it stems back to my combat boot-wearing grunge days. Now distressed leathers and suedes, slouchy styling, or motorcycle details all fit the bill. Maybe someday I will get a pair of shiny, grown up and ladylike boots. As long as I have my bad-ass ones to fall back on : ).

9. Fitted Blazer

I have a nice collection of fitted blazers. Most of them fall into the tweedy, velvety, or knit varieties. A cute little jacket can make an outfit all on its own, which is why I rely on them so heavily as part of my daily uniform. Elie Tahari has been my personal favorite resource for jackets with unique details that fit perfectly every season.

10. Standout Accessories

When it comes to accessories, I like to make a definitive style statement, or just not wear any at all. I’m not an understated pendant on a thin chain kind of gal–most of the time. In the winter I almost always wear a scarf to keep warm. I like cuff bracelets and cocktail rings. And I am most attached to my sizable collection of statement necklaces that I have picked up from travels, discount shops, and boutiques all over. I pick a few new ones each year and mix and match them with my outfits. I truly love quietly bold pieces that are not flashy, but are very eye-catching nonetheless. I do not feel quite dressed without my accessories.

So there you have it. Closet essentials in my world. How about you. What can you not live without?

Credits: My wardrobe. Photography and graphic design by Jill Bremner.

Road Map: Top Tips for Better Travel

People have their own vacation style, just as they have their own personal style. That being said, I wanted to share the strategies and little things I do that make my vacations so great. I can say without hesitation that I always happen to have a fabulous time while traveling, with plenty of heartfelt recommendations to make to others when I get back. I can also tell you I do A LOT of research before I get somewhere. Then I let the vacation unfold on its own. Here are my top tips for better travel.

1. Make it a week.

There is something about the experience of spending seven or more days in a new place. There is enough time to get to know the geography and how to use local transit. You can do all the tourist hot spots AND see enough of local life and culture. You can explore your unique interests. It is very relaxing to unpack your bags at a hotel and stay awhile. Not to mention, I find I receive excellent service and perks, like free wifi, when I stay at a hotel for five nights or more. Continue reading

The Ten: Simple Decor Updates to Try Right Now

 

This week we have really been tackling the resolution to make the house more beautiful in 2013. I started with an overall road map, then gave some of the top design styles of the year for you to consider. Now, we have ten simple decor updates you could try. I love these because they also reflect some style trends we are seeing now! Each of these little tasks might require some shopping and the zeal to finish, but there are projects to suit any budget and DIY tolerance level. I’m doing #1 this weekend. How about you? Pick one, get it done, and then enjoy the results! Read more about each project below.

1. Hang artwork in the kitchen. Most people never get around to hanging art in the kitchen. There is an erroneous belief that the art must be cutesy or food related. Wrong! Try something classic, or some photography, or whatever you might like to look at in the kitchen. Photo from here.

2. Accessorize the powder room. Look for beautiful paper packaging on soaps, nice boxes, a small vase with some flowers, and small pieces of art. A modern streamlined mirror will also make a difference if you can add it. Even if you can’t renovate, you can still make a statement! Photo from here.

3. Style your sofa and coffee table. I know that non-decorators agonize over this task. My advice? Just buy some beautiful books that you love, a tray, and some cute accessories and experiment with them. You could also try a bowl, low candles, or a short vase. Nothing is more classic and easy that a large work of art over the sofa. When selecting pillows it can be hard to know what works. Head to West Elm or a home boutique, pick up a few styles and test them out in different combinations. Photo from here.

4. Paint the ceiling. I am seeing a strong trend towards painting ceilings again, even in dark or bright colors with high gloss finishes. I generally like my spaces airy and light so I still might tend to do a classic pale blue or pale green. Photo from here.

5. Customize storage bins for toys. This is something I need to do. Buy some stencils and some fabric paint and label bins or baskets for a sweet and custom look. I am thinking of stenciling toy category names, like CARS, TRAINS, and SUPERHEROES for my bins. Photo from here.

6. Get a pair of matching lamps. This is so simple, but have you done it? Unless you are one of my clients, I’m willing to guess you don’t have a pair of matching lamps in the house. A clean simple shape in the right finish flanking either side of the sofa, bed, buffet, or console table is a sure decorating wow. Photo from here.

7. Set up a tabletop bar. Cocktails are in style big time right now. The decor equivalent? A beautiful bar set up in the living room or dining room. Find a good table surface, get a tray, get some top  shelf stuff in beautiful bottles or some decanters. Line up a few highball glasses. The bar set up will look festive and remind you to entertain or treat yourself on a Friday night in. Photo from here.

8. Style your desktop. How much time do you spend at your desk? Buy yourself a beautiful cup, a small desk tray, scented candle, and a little bud vase. Find some beautiful writing implements and paper journals or stationery. Voila. You are done. Photo from here.

9. Get a tray and some cups for the vanity. Same concept here as above. Containing all your makeup, creams, and potions on a lovely tray will have you feeling more organized. And you’ll be more likely to grab some eyeliner or even chapstick before you head out. Photo from here.

10. Do an IKEA hack. Not being into DIY I have to admit that I did not know what an IKEA hack was until last week! But now I am enamored with the amazingly creative “improvements” people have been making on this most affordable of furnishings! I want to give it a try! Photo from here.

The Ten: Chic & Easy Homemade Gifts to Give

 

Some of you people of style out there might be needing to save a bit this holiday season. Or you might just have some people who you would love to give a gift to, but they are not on your official list. And you might be needing a creative outlet, like us gals in the studio here. These ten homemade gifts really captured my attention this year. I like to make something every holiday season, but I wanted to do something beyond my usual cookies this year. Last weekend I made some chocolate bark. So simple and delicious! This weekend I think I’ll try my hand at the infused bourbon. What about you? Are there gifts you love to make and give? Click the images to get to the how-to links and read below for some additional “cliff notes.”

Soft Pretzels: Who would not love to get a box of homemade soft pretzels in a box with some beautiful wrap and fancy mustard? This is one of those treats everyone wants to eat, but seldom indulges in.

Chocolate Bark: I modified the recipe here by replacing pecans with toasted almond slivers and omitting the coconut. Everyone went wild for the rosemary and sea salt with chocolate combination. Must try and give!

Sugar Scrub: I find that homemade beauty products really work well with my sensitive skin.  I would be so happy to receive a pretty bottle containing two of my favorite scents: coconut and ginger!

Hot Cocoa in a Jar: This gift is fun and it looks lovely too. You could adjust this recipe by skipping the candy cane and adding a cinnamon stick and a pinch of nutmeg.

Apple Pie Infused Bourbon: I just really want to make and taste a sip of this. Such a cool gift to give.

Lavender Sugar: I have a jar of lavender sugar that I bought in Oregon wine country. It smells so good and tastes great in yogurt or sprinkled over fresh cut fruit.

Poundcake Truffles: Okay, so I must admit this doesn’t seem to exactly fit the “easy” description. But I would swap in some store bought poundcake for the home baked version, and just make the truffles. We’ll see if I brave this one this year.

Placemat Clutch: Selecting the right placemat would be THE key to getting this gift right. There are many wonderful options out there, but steer clear of a Vera Bradley look and go for Indian style prints or great textures.

Sweet and Savory Nuts: How easy, useful, and delicious! Everyone loves to put out nuts for the holiday and these fantastic recipes make them extra special. Endear yourself to anyone (who doesn’t have a nut allergy) by mixing up a packet of these.

Snow Globes: These lovely trinkets have been all over the blogosphere, however no one has gifted me with one, and I KNOW my son would LOVE to have one to shake and look at on our dinner table with the other holiday decor. Guess I’ll have to make him one!