Sunday, June 30, 2013

peace soap.

Whole Foods has some cool business practices, like supporting and encouraging local farmers and apparently, even artisans. (That's how when I was shopping there today, I came across this:)

Peace Soap is handmade by Diane Bard right here in Seacliff, NY. I bought a piece of the Coconut Kiss, which smelled absolutely wonderful. I can't wait to use it! Washing with natural soap is a simple, practical way to cut down on the chemical exposure that is endemic in hygiene products. It's been my experience that many of these natural soaps are easier on sensitive skin. Peace Soap's line has a number of different yummy scents perfect for the summer, like Mojito and Eat a Peach. If they don't carry Peace Soap at your local Whole Foods, you can also order these soaps through etsy.

So, Long Islanders, who are some of your favorite local craftsmen to patronize? Share your suggestions with us! :-)

benefit brow bar... before & after.

What are summer weekends great for on Long Island? ...the BEACH!
What about when it's raining? ...

A lifelong tomboy, I looked myself squarely in the mirror on the matter of eyebrows today and took a long overdue (as in 8+ years) trip to the Benefit Brow Bar in the Lake Grove Ulta. Brow aesthetician Shannon really worked her magic, and mine came out a lovely, natural shape. While it might be slightly less expensive to get one's brows waxed at a salon, the convenience factor was high (I could finish up and then continue on running my grocery shopping) and the quality of the service was fastidious (she continued with additional plucking and trimming to get things just right).

The below photos are not retouched in any way, and I wasn't wearing an ounce of make-up. You can see firsthand what a miracle-worker Shannon is. :-)



As it happens, this Lake Grove Brow Bar is having a special promotional event all-day on July 26th, which will feature a free makeover and giveaways.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

coastal cheap and chic #6: calm blue summer wardrobe.

After perusing all those amazing Southampton shops, I've come up with a few fun summer outfits... for a fraction of the price. A few of the acquisitions are a little older, but I tried to only include things I've bought this spring as much as possible. I have a lot of navy-striped, nautical, charmeuse, etc. things from previous seasons, but I thought less would be more. (Not to mention I didn't think female readers would be interested in items that aren't in stores anymore!)

The major palette influence is turquoise (as well as other blues). I was going for a calm, breezy look, free of affectations. Enjoy! :-)

(And please feel free to share your favourite wardrobe acquisitions for this summer, Long Island ladies.)

Look #1: Crisp cuts, quality fabric, and slightly playful prints. Lord & Taylor's own, on sale at the Garden City location. (Bring your coupons; Friends & Family still worked on top of the additional 25% off! ;-) I paired the top and shorts with a delicate custom-made seaglass necklace from Sayville's haven..., which runs between about $25-50 a necklace depending on the design. Nautical bracelet was $3.95 at Greenvale's Paper Source. Add an inexpensive straw hat and shades and you're boatworthy, or a pair of dressy sandals and you can lunch somewhere smart.

Look #2: Coastal Pool Party. It is my rule o' thumb never to spend more than $25 on any unlined cotton dress. Why? Because a lot of unlined stuff in cotton hangs poorly, and you're not getting what you paid for. That being said, there are times you really do want a simple unlined cotton dress, especially when it's hot out. This Elan hi-lo style dress was found at the Stony Brook Marshall's-Home Goods for $19.99. Beautiful, multi-toned and extremely comfortable wedge sandals were found at DSW for $34.99 and can be worn with outfits #4 & #5 as well. 'Paired the dress with a shell necklace I had gotten a few year's back (sorry!)--- the reason being a solid colored number like this can handle a chunky, expressive necklace or dangly earrings. You don't need to spend much on costume jewelry to channel this look--- for example, I spied a beaded necklace at Claire's for $12.99, a coral & scallop necklace on etsy for $28, and dangly shell earrings from a Huntington etsy designer for $9.

#3 Nautical Prep. En route to the Island from Philly, I passed through a favourite old haunt of my mother and I: Lambertville, NJ, one of the prettiest litte towns in the Garden State. (Side note: The fact people associate the rest of NJ with the northern end of the Turnpike is comedic--- many of the northern and western suburbs are downright idyllic and picturesque.) Duo Design Shop's own Ginnie Burke-Preston makes adorable fabric headbands--- scored this one for $12. The scalloped-eyelet, inverted-pleated dress was also a Lord & Taylor sale purchase (and happily lined! :-)

#4 Beach going blue. The trends in swimsuits this year are rocking. Matchy-matchy out, but just about every style known to mankind--- in. That makes for great versatility and finding something that best suits your age, body type, skin tone, etc. Whoever thought swimsuit season could be so win-win? This cut-out suit from the Lake Grove Gilly Hicks was just $20. If you prefer coverage as I do, these gauzy palazzo pants came from Marshall's for just $16.99.

#5 Travel-ease elegance. This yayajeans polyester, lined, pleated maxi dress (purchased at Regatta Girl, $44) can be literally bunched up in a suitcase and taken anywhere.

#6 Other adorable summery staples: Southampton's Jack Wills comfy & cute braided headbands ($12.50); Joe Fresh's ikat printed cotton dresses ($22,; and Gilly Hicks flip-flops ($15.50).
For inexpensive clutches, totes, hats and scarves, there is an adorable collection of Hamptons-y things at mud pie. (Consequently when I was in Southampton, I noticed a lot of their wares carried in the boutiques.)


Friday, June 7, 2013

liebster award.

Who-hoo! The fabulous Sarina of nerdcraftlibrarian fame has nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is designed to promote blogs with small followings (<200 followers). Thanks so much, Sarina! :-)
Liebster 411
1. Highlight the person who nominated you (nerdcraftlibrarian) to help spread the word about their blog as well.
2. Tell 11 facts about yourself.

3. Answer the questions from the blog that nominated you (nerdcraftlibrarian)

4. List 11 blogs with less than 200 followers. (I'll do my best!)

5. Post 11 questions for those blogs to answer.

6. Notify the blogs you nominate via email.
Kay's 11 Facts
  1. Black tea is my favourite beverage. Give me a cup o' Second Flush Darjeeling, Assam, or Ceylon any day! I have to be in the mood for herbal teas--- don't drink 'em as much. I probably drink 3-7 cups of tea a day.
  2. I really love writing, drawing and graphic design, although I don't do those things for a living.
  3. Enjoyed a brief modeling stint in my late teens. I think fashion as an art form and means of self-expression is pretty cool.
  4. The last names of my and DH's blog pseudonyms come from some of our favourite songbirds. Male cardinals feed their mates in a courtship gesture, and Jay is the cook in the house. Nuthatches "crawl" upside down on trees, etc., much like I live outside the box.
  5. My favourite sport is... fishing!
  6. Autumn is my favourite season.
  7. I was probably a taxi cab driver in my last life; I feel very calm driving in places I've never been before, driving in NYC, etc.
  8. I love getting the free samples at Costco.
  9. I don't watch TV much.
  10. Some favourite foods are kale, goat cheese, chocolate, seafood and Annie's Shells (though not necessarily all together). I can't cook, so salads and mac n' cheese are standard go-to's for me when I gotta fend for myself.
  11. My second language (albeit rusty) is Japanese.
11 Questions from Nerd Craft Librarian
  1. Pick one place on planet Earth you would like to go tell us why. New Caledonia--- it looks like such a beautiful, tranquil place.
  2. What is something you have done that is completely unexpected and out of character for you? Hmm... I'm stumped on this one!
  3. Name some weird exotic food you would like to try and tell us why.  Truthfully, I've had the privelege of trying a lot of unusual and amazing foods over the years, though I would never be so bold as to assert myself as a gourmand; I simply like really well-executed dishes (obviously made by someone else, since everything I cook turns into carbon anyway.) There's no particular dish on my "to-do" list, but my "to-do" restaurant list is miles long.
  4. What do you want your wedding song to be? If married, what was your wedding song? Ceremony or reception? We had a few really special songs... lotsa of live music, too!
  5. Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars, but just the original trilogy.
  6. Doctor who fans: Who is your favorite doctor? (non who fans can skip this one) n/a
  7. If you were going to be sorted at Hogwarts, what house would you want to be in? Ravenclaw!
  8. Why are you blogging? I want to share what I love and observe about my new home, Long Island, and highlight businesses, services, restaurants and local phenomena. There's also a smattering of my bumblings about, scrapbooking, life on the water and chicken-keeping.
  9. Do you use your public library? If not you should! If so, what do you use specifically? Yes! I am a proud, card-carrying member of the largest library system on Insula Longa! ;-) Honestly, I try to take advantage of everything--- peruse the magazines, take out fiction, non-fiction and DVDs, etc.
  10. What is your one karaoke jam? That one song that comes on and you're like, "yes this is my ultimate theme song! Too much pressure to choose just one... :-)
  11. What did you eat for breakfast? (sorry I ran out of ideas) Can't lie... a cup of Darjeeling and a Strawberry Shortcake cupcake.
My Nominees

11 Questions for the Nominees
  1. What is your favourite type of cuisine?
  2. Did you grow up on Long Island?
  3. What is your favourite season and why?
  4. Read any good books lately? If so, what?
  5. (For iPad, iPhone, iWhatever users) What is your favourite free app?
  6. What is your favourite beach?
  7. Where do you culturally/psychologically delineate "Western" and "Eastern" Long Island? How about "North Shore" and "South Shore"?
  8. Who is your favourite Long Island musician/musical group?
  9. What is your favourite thing about Long Island?
  10. Have you lived anywhere else?
  11. What is (in your opinion) the most beautiful NYC bridge and why?

retreat to southampton.

Shops on Jobs Lane
Wednesday found me in Southampton, continuing my research of all things wonderful about Long Island! There are few places I can think of quite like the Hamptons. Money aside (after all, there are plenty of money communities on full display throughout the North East) the East End is one of the calmest places I've ever been to in Yankee territory. Every shop I went into I was treated with an unaffected, inviting graciousness that from my limited perspective seems to pervade the culture here.

The beautiful variety of architecture out East reflects the rich history
of this area, the oldest settlements in New York State.
  First stop was Jack Wills, a self-proclaimed "University Outfitters" continuing the casual luxury lifestyle trend that is all the rage among folks in the younger demographics. It was a charming little British boutique run by a vivacious shopkeeper. We both exchanged tales of how we ended up on LI (decidedly the same--- meeting a nice Lawnguylander and settling down out here seems to be de riguer for non-natives.) I treated myself to an adorable braided headband and stifled myself from buying more. Pretty much loved everything in here, which varied from casual lifestyle to beachy seersucker dresses to quintessentially British, tea-worthy florals. They're hosting a number of summer happenings and can be kept up with through Twitter via @jwsouthampton.   NĂºmero duos was Gretchen Scott Designs, a lifestyle brand in the vein of Lilly Pulitzer. Everything was punchy and cheerful. (While dropping $150 on an unlined tunic wasn't exactly in my realm of possibilities, it served as a great inspiration for the Coastal Cheap and Chic post to soon follow.) Scarves and jewelry were really lovely, too. The silk evening wear had a wonderful, understated elegance.
Southampton Cultural Center
  The third shop I went in was called Twist. Geared primarily at teenagers, they had some excellent sales in the back of the store, particularly on designer jeans. (You can score some Joe's or Paige Premium Denim for about 1/3 or 1/4 of the MSRP.)
Old wall outside the SCC
C. Wonder was a source for remarkably beautiful costume jewelry, many pieces with a beachy or nautical theme. It seemed to cater to well (yet simply) dressed middle-aged women with adorable, well behaved canine accoutrements. (Come to think of it, lots of people walk their dogs into shops around here.) There was a large goldplated coral-shaped necklace that was absolutely stunning, and a number of colorful bangles. They also monogram their textile products, which is a nice touch. Also a bit pricey, but they had some nice sales and also made for great inspiration for beforemention C C & C post.  
Pretty building
LF was also on my to-do list, and it was well worth it. In the most loving possible way, this store embodied a city slicker twentysomething's torn apart closet. It was an adorable mess, a kind of fashion hangover. Sales girls were laid-back, sweet and very well-versed in fashion-related conversation. The Jeffrey Campbell shoes were fierce.
One of many lovely windowfronts at Hildreth's
Hildreth's, the nation's oldest department store, was a delight. (I've grown up on local department stores, having lived in a region where they survived well into the '90s. This place was a real trip down memory lane). They have quite a collection of everything: fine linens, beachy tchotchkes, kitchenware, children's toys, ladies accessories and more.

Tenet, a loft-like boutique that could have popped out of Soho, was filled with airy fabrics and effortless linens in soothing colors, very much characteristic of natural-style clothing. I would've like to have bought everything. ;)

  Driver's Seat on Urbanspoon

Lunch was had at The Driver's Seat, an updated, beachy chic restaurant that's been around for decadeds. I went with panko-crusted fish and chips and sweet potato fries. This place is what "made with love" tastes like. Simple food, prepared well, and the waitstaff couldn't have been more congenial.
There are no shortage of well-dressed and beautiful people out here. Even the conversation was amusing to overhear as I flitted about the downtown and casually people watch from my outdoor view at the restaurant. The burnings in my ear... ;-)
Fortysomething woman with girlfriends: Party? We [her family] don't have a free weekend until after July.
One teenaged kid to another: I'm from the city, I know how it [life] works.
Man to woman: I lived in the city. But I've been out here for 27 years. Moved out here permanently in '96.
Woman: And you haven't looked back?
Man: I haven't looked back.
Beautiful wrought-iron gate
Oh the Hamptons, the wabi-sabi haven of peacefulness to the important (as well as the not-so-important like me, who simply savor a bit o' quiet and beauty. But then, I did come on a Wednesday, not a Friday ;-) Hey, LI--- What's your favorite part of the Hamptons and why?
Main Street

Thursday, June 6, 2013

bistro on the brain.

(The impending return deadline to Paper Source looming over my head, I decided Tuesday's lull the perfect opportunity to better explore Greenvale, particularly Wheatley Plaza. After poking around the collection of shops, I took lunch at Bar Frites. Nevermind the day before DH's female colleague and I went to Waterzooi, which has an awesome 3-beer, 3-course dinner on Mondays for $35.)
Bar Frites on Urbanspoon

Bar Frites, located in Greenvale's Wheatley Shopping Plaza, had a reputation to live up to. Well familiar with other establishments within the Poll Hospitality Group of restaurants, my expectations of the place was high before coming in. Bartender was attentive and made a delicious French Martini (meeting my flavor profile of "girly" drinks not being overly saccharine.) The Apple-Pear salad was perfection, with the truffled pecorino shavings the icing on the cake, so to speak. The salad's composition was essentially very simple, but the combination of light flavor of the vinaigrette and candied walnuts with the truffle made it a profound, ballsy take on Springtime. (Had I not gone for the martini, this would have paired nice with a Sancerre to cut the truffle, or a White Burgundy to compliment it.) Next time I look forward to taking DH here and trying the prix fixe (which looked quite generous at $22) and the mussels with leeks Pernod sauce. There were a few little hiccups initially with the communications/flow of service between the staff, but the food and overall affability of the staff redeemed that. Physically it's also very beautiful restaurant, with intricate tilework on the floor and walls, mirrored cocktail displays and marble tabletops. Sitting at the edge of the bar area facing out onto the al fresco dining area was a real delight, especially with weather as beautiful as this past Tuesday's.

Crumbs Bake Shop on Urbanspoon

Dessert could be had only one place--- Crumbs. Blessed with a number of this small chain's locations in northeastern New Jersey, I was eager to get this Nassau County shop a try. The cupcakes were right on--- the best I've had yet on the Island. The flavor featured these days is the Lemon Cake, and it was divine. Cappuccino was excellent as well. The only thing that could've made my visit better was if they had some seating--- there is ample bar counter surface for customers, but I didn't spy any chairs.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

quiet thursday evening at the beach.

I took these photos in mid-May, but the past few weeks have been crazy. (Mostly great, a little very bad, but always crazy.) On one particular Thursday in May, I needed a few moments of quiet, and so a trip to Short Beach was in order. The weather was perfect (70 degrees) and the sky was golden, with the sun nearing its descent. I found myself pondering at what a locaphile I am--- everywhere I live, I have to get to know all the usual stuff, the unusual stuff, the daily flow of life as well as the cracks in between just waiting to be noticed. Though I flit about, all over, frequently out-of-state, enjoying a formidable, engaging (yet bit-sized in the hourly sense) career, I return here, to my new home of old loves (saltwater, surf and seafood) as well as more recent ones (the inimitable Jay Cardinal).
Clogs are great sand shoes, easy to clean. The pebble-y sand is indicative of the North Shore. 
Snowy Egrets stalk for fish in the beautiful Nissequogue.

Camping sites await Town of Smithtown residents who register for overnight permits. Fot general day use permits, Smithtown residents can get those free. :) Our town beaches are really well-maintained.

There were these little birds called terns who kept diving into the Sound in search of fish. It was funny watching them; instead of descending purposefully like a missile, it was almost as if they just allowed themselves to fall ---plop!--- and then they'd recollect themselves and fly back up, hopefully with a meal in tow.

Looking forward to getting back to blogging, and taking time for this simpler side of life.