Wait, last year’s bathing suit doesn’t still fit?

It’s looking like it’s actually going to be hot enough to go swimming this weekend… Which means it is long past bathing-suit-shopping-for-the-kids time. Here are some suits that have caught my eye during my most recent late night internet surfing sessions…

bobo choses swim suit
This print was inspired by David Hockney, whose work always makes me think of sunshine and carefree days. Bobo Choses David swimsuit, $59

pop up shop cat suit
We will not be getting a cat as a pet any time soon (we’re all allergic) so maybe this cat suit will suffice… Popupshop’s Black Cat swimsuit, $38.

wolf and rita bikini
This is the kind of bathing suit a sort of goth badass princess would wear. Wolf & Rita Amelia bikini, $69.

seersucker swimsuit
Nothing says summer like seersucker… J Crew Seersucker swimsuit, $52.50

FRANCISCO-STROKES-PRODUCT

I don’t have a son, but if I did, I’d like to see him running around in these Wolf & Rita swimming trunks.

wolf and rita two piece bathing suit
The perfect compromise between my daughter’s urgent desire for a bikini and my personal preference for one piece suits…
Nununu Star Tankini, from $51.

boy tie die swim trunks

One last cute one for the boys… because I can’t resist an indigo tie die… Stella Cove boy swimsuit, $45.

A clean start for summer

eggwhite soap

This bar of Eggwhite Soap, or Eiwit Zeep as it’s known by the locals, hails from Belgium, though the Swedes are also known for their slightly different formulation of the same basic thing.

Now I admit that I am a sucker for a beauty product with old fashioned european style packaging, so when I saw this little bar of Eggwhite Soap, read the label which promised removal of all impurities and a fresh glow on the skin, I had to have it. The $5 price tag didn’t hurt either.

The timing is perfect… Summer has suddenly pounced upon us, and with the heat comes an extra layer of grime that requires a bit more effort in the daily face washing department. Who knew that generations of Swedish and Belgian women have been harnessing the protein rich power of egg whites, the soothing healing of chamomile and the deep moisture of palm oil and lecithin to keep their skin so lovely?

So much better than layers of foundation and powder. And much less expensive than dermabrasion.

I am wholeheartedly jumping right on this bandwagon.

Monday, Monday… or more links about superheroes, skin care and snacks

Unlike the horrible Batman vs. Superman, this new Captain America movie (Civil War) is actually good. If you’re into loud, totally unrealistic, action-packed superhero movies like I am, that is…

Evidently drinking bitters is a time tested way to wake up the digestive system, a bodily function that we often take for granted until it malfunctions. This recipe for grapefruit bitters makes a perfect base for a festive summer cocktail (and it’s good for us to boot!)

Check out this group of artists who twist thousands of Rubik’s Cubes into massive murals.

I’m thinking we might make this Moroccan spiced soap for teacher gifts this spring. We’ll let you know how it turns out!

Who doesn’t immediately want to start reading any article called The 5-Step Skin-Care Routine Everyone Should Be Following?

Design Matters, the podcast of the inimitable Debbie Millman, is the perfect way to dive deep into the world of design and begin to understand why… well… design matters.

I am most certainly going to make these brie and grape crostinis a part of my memorial day entertainment situation.

My apple pies always look like a 5 year old baked them, but they taste DELICIOUS, so who cares?

apple pie

Clearly I am not related to Martha Stewart, but I have decided that I don’t care.

I want to be one of those people who turns out a perfect looking home made apple pie at the drop of the hat, whilst wearing high heels and not messing up my manicure. Oh and I’m sure my daughter is either practicing for her Carnegie Hall debut or working on coding the robot she’s built from scratch while my husband is rebuilding the shelving in the closet of my dreams.

But life’s not like that.

And at the end of the day, my slightly challenged looking crust is so god damned flaky and delicious, that no one in their right mind would complain.

The secret is the half shortening half butter recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen, which she adopted from the gurus at America’s Test Kitchen. Shortening makes the crust flakey. Butter gives it flavor. But I like to go as un-processed as I possibly can, so I substituted lard for the Crisco and OH. MY. GOD. does it improve the flavor. It’s no longer purely vegetarian, but as long as I’m not cooking for my super strict friends, I stand behind my modification. As would our grandparents, I’m sure.

Here’s the recipe. If you can handle lard, I strongly advise you use it. Otherwise, Crisco or some other shortening will do you just fine.

American Pie Dough
(This is pretty much verbatim from America’s Test Kitchen via Smitten Kitchen, except for the lard part, which comes via yours truly)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons lard ( or use all-vegetable shortening if you can’t deal), chilled
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

1. Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with steel blade until combined. Add lard/shortening and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; cut butter into flour until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 8 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if it will not come together. Divide dough into two pieces, these pieces should be even in weight and both round. Wrap separately in plastic and refrigerator at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.

Apple Pie
(Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook via Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 large)
1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cups (5.25 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 500°F. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable).

2. Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 1/2-inch pie plate or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.

3. Peel, core and cut apples in half, and in half again width-wise; cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.

4. Roll out second piece of dough to 12-inch disk and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits on dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

5. Place pie on baking sheet and lower oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

6. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours.

Time to get outside…

This is the time of year when all thoughts turn outside… and rather than spend all of my energy worrying about ticks and how to keep those little buggers away from me and my clan, I choose to think about the earth and what kind of tools I might need in order to form a more perfect garden. Some people may say I am thinking about shopping, but I say whatever to those spoilers.

Here are a few of the things I’m thinking need to be making their way into my backyard sooner than later:

shovel

There is no such thing as gardening without digging. Landscaper’s Ultra light shovel, $98

haws-brass-watering-wand

So I’m reading this article about the 10 absolutely essential garden tools I’m going to need to survive and a garden wand is at the top of the list. Who knew I needed more than the simple nozzle I’ve had for years? Haws Brass Watering Lance, $80.

japanese garden pruners

Not sure why the Japanese hold the title for most bad ass pruning knives and clippers, but they do. Handmade Japanese Garden Pruners, $119.

edison string lights

You can’t really party in the garden if you can’t see anything, can you? Edison String Lights, $40.

wind chimes

Because sometimes the wind really is the best stereo. Porcelain Wind Chimes, $46.

marshmallow skewers

It is as beautiful to eat a smore by a raging bonfire on the beach as it is to pop one into your mouth by the fireside in the dead of winter. So why not upgrade the skewers? Marshmallow Skewers, set of 4. $24.

birdhouse

Birds need lovely summer cottages, too. Fieldstone Hanging Bird Shelter, $95.

gardening boots

Some people might call these rain boots, but I know the perfect gardening boot when I see it… Ilse Jacobson Laced Rain Boot, $168.

mier lamp

Taking the flashlight to a whole new level. M Lamp by Juniper Design and David Irwin, $220.

Monday, Monday… or a few links about getting ready for summer (despite this morning’s near freezing temps!)

maine summer picnic

This was one of the best days we had last summer… picnicking with friends on a tiny island in Maine…

First up, the change of seaons is the perfect time to get that closet under control. For inspiration and guidance, check out Apartment Therapy’s Spring Closet Cure.

After the closet comes the bank account… Refinery 29 helps us get it together (and save $500!) with this 30 day money challenge.

Uh oh… the kids are about to be on summer vacation aka back in your world full time. Fun! Keep them busy and away from those playstations with the help of these 25 best kid art supplies (according to The Artful Parent).

Bathing suit season is only a few weeks away! As we are all strapped for time, might I point our attention to this 7 minute workout that I am hoping will do the trick.

Rather than go on a 2 week long juice fast, my new thing is to do one day of cleansing per week. Which is easy if you’re getting your juices, etc from Brownie at the Shanti Shack in Williamsburg.

It’s time to get planting (if you haven’t already!) Check out these ideas for how to turn a tiny urban-style outdoor space into a miniature paradise…

The Cool Factor

the cool factor by andrea linett

You can buy The Cool Factor, by Andrea Linett, for $18.95 on Amazon.

The thing that makes Andrea Linett a true arbiter of style is not the fact that she has a star studded address book that gives her full access to all sorts of high end designers and trendsetters, but rather that she knows how to put together an outfit which lets her subject’s individual personality shine through. Sometimes that Alexander MacQueen jacket needs a worn in vintage t-shirt to tone it down a it, and Andrea is just the woman to make it happen.

And now she’s put together a book, with the help of her photographer husband Michael Waring, that helps all interested parties to steer themselves in the direction of effortless “cool” style. There are photos of Kim Gordon wearing leather pants (does it get cooler than that?) and of designer Maria Cornejo and her daughter Bibi rocking black and white jumpsuits. You’ve got Refinery 29′s Christene Barberich explaining how she layers dresses over skirts over pants and tops, and double page spreads explaining the anatomy of a perfect t-shirt or how to shake the mundane feeling out of classics by pairing them with something unexpected.

the cool factor andrea linett

A bunch of unexpected clothing combinations to get the juices flowing…

In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Andrea for years. I was excited and flattered when she asked me if I wanted to be a part of this book, but I had no idea how many incredible women she was gathering. Nevermind how much fun it was to go through the clothing racks with the icons listed above gossiping about what they brought and how they put things together… I almost exploded with excitement when I met Linda Dresner, whose legendary Park Avenue boutique was my introduction into the grown up world of avant-garde fashion back in the 80′s. Talk about style heroines…

But the thing that makes this book really stand out from most other fashion how-to tomes I’ve read is Andrea’s engaging, accessible and just plain funny voice throughout. It’s the perfect mix of personal anecdotes, sisterly advice and practical specifics. I actually found myself reading the book from cover to cover, laughing at the descriptions of ill-advised fantasy shopping, soaking up a few extra bits of advice on getting the perfect fit, and wondering if I could ever make socks and sandals look as cool as they do on Pascale Poma.

The most consistent message through the book, both from Andrea herself as well as all of the women profiled within, is that the most important thing is to remain true to yourself and to have a bit of fun in the bargain.

Which, if you ask me, is great advice for life in general.

The Cool Factor: A Guide to Achieving Effortless Style, with Secrets from the Women Who Have It by Andrea Linett with photographs by Michael Waring. Available now wherever books are sold (or just click the link!)

Monday, Monday- or some random links for a bit of post Mother’s Day exploration…

gas lights

Examples of some early gas street lights… so much nicer than the modern ones, don’t you think?

I’m thinking I would like to make myself some of this kimchi ramen one of these days…

I’ve been to a couple of funerals lately, so this piece about turning cremains into trees seemed oddly relevant.

Get inspired to make art (or at least to go see some) as you listen to Brian Alfred talk to a fascinating selection of his fellow contemporary artists about their lives, their work and what makes them tick.

Screen time doesn’t always have to be mindless… Check out these great online math related games for kids.

There may be a bit of an upside to Trump’s candidacy after all.

Even a silent phone, placed discreetly on the table, disconnects us…

And while we’re on the topic of technology, turns out people were not all that excited about electric street lights when they first came out…

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Just in case you forgot…

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and I’m sure pretty much all of you have figured out what you are getting the mothers in your lives. (Plus you’ve probably already had the beautifully gift wrapped packages sent off ages ago!)

But if not, here are a few ideas of things that a mother like me might like… should you still be in need of suggestions.

red flower body cream

When in doubt, anything from my all-time favorite natural beauty line Red Flower is the perfect thing. All natural plus supreme luxury equals home run every time. Right now I’m feeling plum blossom silk cream, but you won’t go wrong with anything from their selection.

Jill Platner bands

Oh happy day… Jill Platner is having one of her rare sales! Run don’t walk… mother or no mother.

the metal lunch box

Our kids have their lunch boxes. Now it’s our mothers’ turn…

soi the bag light

Buy this little light so that never again will your beloved mother have to dump all the junk out of her bag to find the coat check stub…

white magic energy spray

What mother wouldn’t appreciate a little white magic energy spray?

bamboo calculator

I bet your mom remembers a time when everybody’s calculator wasn’t also their phone. And I also bet she wouldn’t mind going back to that time if her new calculator was made out of bamboo.

leff amsterdam steel tube bluetooth  speaker

Upgrade her sonic and visual situation at the same time with this bluetooth tube steel speaker.

And last but not least, Greenhouse Holistic Spa is offering a 2 for 1 deal on massages through the end of the week, so you can get one for your mom and pocket the free session for yourself!

Gift giving at it’s best…

Another thing I really don’t need but totally want, regardless…

The Kinzey pump, by Rachel Comey. Photo from rachelcomey.com

The Kinzey pump, by Rachel Comey. Photo from rachelcomey.com

The weather has finally transformed from freezing to beautiful, the trees are all flowering, and I don’t know about you, but my thoughts are beginning to turn toward open toed shoes. Mind you, I’ll need to pay a visit to my local manicure spot before I go sporting any such footwear, but lets not get bogged down with details.

The shoe I most want right exactly now is this navy blue suede sandal/pump that the ever talented Rachel Comey has dreamed up for this season. Sure, suede isn’t the most practical of materials, but navy is a good color for hiding imperfections and the cream piping is a detail to die for.

I’m thinking anybody wearing these pumps is automatically well dressed. Plus all Comey shoes are meticulously constructed, so you can make it all day and into the night without having to switch into flip flops.

Which I consider a total victory.