Visiting Hyde Park, NY

How odd it is that we don’t visit our hometown and home state more like a tourist. There are so many museums and sights near us that I’ve never been to, I really want to make a habit of planning things with kids and seeing more of Connecticut and New York. Hudson Valley area though had been our favorite for years, even before we had kids hubs and I would escape Brooklyn and drive to the country. We loved Rhinebeck and the surrounding towns, the Gilded Age mansions, fascinating restaurants, all that antiquing, cute book stores and breath taking sights of Hudson River. When an old friend of mine came over for a visit, I used on of the 2 sunny days we had to take her up there.

Between my daughters school schedules we had just enough time to go up to Hyde Park and visit one of the mansions there. Vandebuilt was being renovated, so went to see FDR’s homestead. Franklin D. Roosevelt, our nation’s 32nd president (the only one to have stayed for 4 terms!) was born and grew up in Hyde Park, in Springwood mansion. His family owned the surrounding land as far as the eye can see and several homes and cottages on that property. Here’s the statue of FDR greeting visitors in his childhood home.

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Dining room:

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FDR’s mom Sara lived there her entire life and managed the property after husband’s death. There’s an initial S on the outside chimney. No wonder FDR’s wife Eleanor had her own house nearby. 🙂 Sara had Snuggery – a small little breakfast room with a fireplace, a few comfy chairs and a desk. I need a Snuggery! It needs to make a comeback.

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I loved the kids chairs by the massive fireplace, how cute are these? Loved all the panelling and molding detail on the ceiling also. Apparently FDR fancied himself a bit of an architect and designed this room while his mom oversaw the renovations.

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After walking the grounds and getting a bit of a chill we drove about 5 minutes to CIA – the Culinary Institute of America. I love the campus, the main building is gorgeous with a huge balcony and water fountains, pineapple motifs and all these people scurrying about in grey pants, white chef’s jackets and their knife cases. We walked around for a bit, peeked in on a lecture on mushrooms where the chef was peeling off bits of mushroom (huge – maybe portobello?) and handed these off to students in the hall, saw many culinary students prepping various meals through huge windows and had a lovely lunch at the Apple Cafe. Now, there are several great restaurants on the property, all staffed by students but since we didnt have much time, we grabbed a quick lunch at Apple Cafe which was ok BUT Apple Cafe has a most delicious looking dessert display that always lures me in. Like a moth to a flame.

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She had strawberries and cream cake and I had Modern Parisian something. Both beyond beautiful and delicious, if really sweet.

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And I ordered these raspberry brioche donuts for girls. They loved it, surprise, surprise!

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There’s also the world’s largest pedestrian bridge across Hudson nearby but we just didn’t have time and sort of felt some altitude sickness just imaging walking over it. But it did look cool and I bet the views are amazing. If you are in the area, give it a try!

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Getting ready for overnight guests.

Quick primer on getting guest rooms ready and making sure both you and your guest(s) have a great time and feel comfortable.

Empty a few dresser drawers or if possible, some closet space, and add some extra hangers. Same goes for the bathroom drawers. If you have extras, robe and slippers are much appreciated.

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Leave out the following:  water, tissues, Advil (PM), wi-fi information, some books and magazines on a nice tray or on the bedside tables. A throw or a second blanket on the bed is always handy.

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Set some extra towels in the bathroom along with toothpaste and extra tooth brush, I like to use the extras we get from the dentist. Leave some extra toilet paper in there so they dont need to come looking for you when it runs out, add some shampoo-conditioner and body wash by the shower.

Light a candle in the room before they arrive or leave a diffuser there so the guests will feel welcome as soon as they enter. Clean and you are done!

Favorite loungewear.

First of all, I rarely lounge. I am very type A and a little OCD what comes to cleaning and organizing, so even when I plan to sit down with a cup of tea and a good book, I somehow end up doing a project or cleaning or, well to be fair, waisting my time on Pinterest. And whilst doing all that I always wear leggings and some random top with my hair in a bun and if I am really on top of things hair or face mask as well. So the idea of lounging around the house with my hair perfectly blown out and down, spritz of perfume and bit of lip gloss holds tremendous appeal. Ah yes, the calmer days lay ahead. It’s just that the house would need be clean for me to be able to relax and preferably someone has whittled down my to do list as well.

I did try the jogger pants and while I thought I looked pretty good, hubby’s reaction was less than flattering. I think he asked me to go back to leggings as they are at least fitted. 🙂

Here’s some options for in between.

I really like Barefoot Dreams brand. It’s priced well, cute and warm for lounging around the house.

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Barefoot Dreams Circle cardigan $116

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Naked Top $58 and Pants $68

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Calvin Klein sweatshirt $68 and pants $58

And in case Santa is listening, I really want this cashmere set as I am always freezing!

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Neiman Marcus Cashmere collection Jogging Set originally $650, now $230

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-haiku

How to store shoes in your closet.

Step 1. Throw out all shoe boxes! Keep some really special ones or if you think you’ll sell some of the high end pairs, keep those boxes but preferably in the attic or the basement, not on the shelves of your closet where they just take up space and make it look more cluttered.

Step 2. Group like with like. All flip flops can go live in a cute basket on the floor. Flats together, heels together, open toe together etc. This way you can also see whether you are missing some shoes or have too many black pumps etc. If you have the space, remove the bottom shelf, get a tension rod and boot inserts and hang your boots up there. Your rain boots etc can go live in the mudroom, of course.

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This is a picture of my client’s old nursery which I turned into a closet. It was a narrow room, so the carpenter built a small window seat and added some shelving to the right of it maximizing the angle of the ceiling. I snapped the photo as we were putting outfits together hence the mess!

Step 3: find a good space for your shoes. If you have a walk in closet, then end of the room is usually ideal with thin shelves. Shelves should be spaced 7″ apart. You could even go get simple white shelves from Ikea (see below) and hang them or get a bookshelf if you can find one that fits.

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My genius carpenter Dave Bartlett came up with this creative solution for small closet space for shoes. A pull out shelf much like you would have next to the stovetop for spices etc.

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Here’s a few more inspiration photos.

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Please remember not to put shoes on top shelves over clothes and to toss/donate/sell any your haven’t worn for awhile.

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-haiku

Skinny jeans that fit well & are so comfortable!

Is there anything more annoying that trying on jeans? No matter how good your legs it always takes FOREVER to find a pair or a brand that fits well. No doubt that you too have a girlfriend that tells you to get the same exact pair as she did because it fits her and thus, must fit you too. Wrong!

I give my clients some recs re brands but then send them off to shops on their own and just have them try on as many pairs as they can possible stomach. It’s so tedious. Pull one on, discover that it perfectly highlights your cellulite or makes your thighs extra bumpy and then adds some creases under your butt so it seems wider and bigger than ever. And for some reason, most dressing rooms either have lab quality florescent lights or something so dim that you cannot see a damn thing. Peel the jeans on, feel hot and miserable, and reach for the next pair. No other way to do it. As a bonus, even if one pair fits, that doesn’t mean that other styles in that brand will.

Joe’s Jeans that have been around forever, recently came out with a fairly stretchy fabric called Flawless which essentially has much lower cotton percentage than most jeans and that cotton/lyocell blend makes jeans fit better and it feels so comfortable. I think I ordered 3 pairs. $179 at Nordstrom.

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To be fair, any time you have more lycra-esque mix the jeans will fit better and feel comfortable. I just slide my hand across the rack and pull out whatever feels softer than most. Lot of people seem to like Mother brand but can’t seem to get myself to buy it. I know I am a mother, but anything that says not your mother’s, kind of feel like it still is.

Spring’s transitional jackets

For the cool mom: this works well over leggings as well as skinny jeans and cute booties. All you need is aviators and you are out the door.

For the traditional mom and/or the one that works in the office: we probably all own a version of a trench coat, it is a classic after all. But this color is pretty and would instantly brighten up your outfit.

For the no-nonsense mom: this bomber jacket will go with anything and the color is very flattering.

For the glam mom: leather will always be in, not to mention practical, and while more expensive it will last longer than thinner coats or inexpensive jackets. Love the navy color.

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Parker Easton Leather Jacket $610

Best day creams with sunscreen

The very best thing you can do for your skin is sunscreen. I know you know. You know I know you know. But most of the time we slap on some day cream with SPF 15 and dont reapply till next day. We are lazy and really minimalistic in that way. I coat my kids with sunscreen when they go out but barely do the same for myself. Yet every single dermatologist worth her Botox will tell you that you absolutely must use it as there’s nothing as good as prevention. Sigh.

Here’s some multi taskers.

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Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer with SPF 47 $32: natural mineral sunscreens, antioxidants and argan oil. Lightweight, doesn’t break out sensitive skin and blends well with makeup. Multiple Allure best product winner.

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Dr. Jart Every Sun Day UV Sun Fluid SPF 30 $34: very lightweight and hydrating, blends in quickly, seaweed extract with sunscreen protection, especially great for those with dry skin.

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Colorscience Sunforgettable Brush-on Sunscreen $57: now this isn’t inexpensive but I absolutely love it. Perfect for reapplying, just throw it in your purse and reapply when needed. 4 skin tones to choose from plus one medium with shimmer which would be gorgeous for summer. Definite must have as you can put it under or over makeup so it cannot get any easier. Focus on your left side as that gets way more damage than right side while driving.

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Deborah Lippman Rich Girl Hand Cream SPF 25 $28: your hands get more exposure than your face yet we rarely bother with reapplying sunscreen to our hands. I must insist you buy one of those and keep it in the car. It’s bit pricey for sunscreen and it’s not terribly moisturizing but it’s not greasy or slick and doesn’t leave white residue all over your car’s upholstery.

My never ending PSA: please buy at department stores or Sephora or doctor’s offices. Amazon sellers or other countless sellers on the net might not be legit or they could be selling old product which won’t be as effective as it promises.

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-haiku

 

 

Organizing christmas decor

It looks like Christmas outside, we’ve got at least a foot of snow and more is coming. Kids are watching Christmas movies and I thought what better time to tackle this mess here:

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I had picked up matching Sterilite containers earlier from Home Depot for $8.99 and also bought this massive Husky shelving unit. It weighed a ton and was a total operation to get into my SUV so I have to caution you, have a handyman pick it up if possible. I drove home my face against the front window. Not fun.

Then girls and I took out ALL the boxes and containers, emptied and sorted them. Like went with like. All gold ornaments together, all picks together, all lights in one box etc etc etc. Tossed a few items I hadnt really used. Then we carefully packed it up again while my less than thrilled hubby assembled the storage unit. While Melanie worked without any complaints, Olivia kept complaining and asking me why I didnt do this after Christmas. Maybe I should have had, but truth be told, as much as I love Christmas and all that goes with it, right after New Years Eve I am over it and all I want to do is pack it all away and clean the house.

I labelled everything so I would know what’s what. I also had my hubs hang plenty of hooks for wreaths so they could all be up. The only downside is that he will see how many wreaths you have and really question your judgement!

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And we ran out of hooks.

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It’s SO much better than before. That green unlabelled container is where the more special and fragile ornaments reside. I still need to order another storage unit where all the loose stuff could go like little trees, Christmas flower arrangements, specific bowls and trays etc.

Other great ideas from my Pinterest Organizing folder:

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Beauty hacks for making your life less stressful.

Here are my top tips for saving time, money and nerves while looking your very best. I will recommend several products in this post, please buy them from reputable source, otherwise you’ll risk getting an old or counterfeit product (that includes lots of Amazon sellers).

SKINCARE

You should know what type skin you have and have a skincare regimen in place. Rather than wonder what to do with you insert your problem here, visit a dermatologist and sort it out.  Don’t necessary buy everything they recommend, for example I was recommended a Vitamin C serum that was $125 but that active ingredient is widely available so you can buy it for much less. If you are over 30, I strongly recommend you start using retinol which is essentially Vitamin A and helps recover damaged cells which will then retain more collagen and elastin. Great OTC product is ROC, use every other night. Your skincare regimen should look like this and then you can tailor it to your specific needs.

Morning: cleanser, tonic, eye cream with SPF and face cream with SPF.

Evening: cleanser, resurfacing pad, serum, eye cream and night time face cream.

If you have never had a regimen in place, there are a lot of companies that offer a treatment set. I recently tried Arbonne (botanical based products) and I loved the ease of using their RE9 line (algae and Vitamin C).

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A consultant will diagnose your skincare needs and recommend best products for your skincare. If you are interested and live in Connecticut, contact Michelle Hudson at 917-453-4953/hudsonmlf@msn.com

Dr. Hauschka and Weleda have good lines as well in similar vein as Arbonne. Olay Regenerist line is available everywhere and has won countless awards. And while fairly expensive Tara Harper line is a luxury natural skincare line that has hordes of devoted followers.

If your skin still looks a little lifeless, YSL Touche Eclat is a cult favorite for illuminating and highlighting, it’s not exactly cheap at $42. Here’s how to apply:

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    Source: globalglam.com

EYELASHES

I barely wear any makeup during the day save the concealer (for my nose which tends to get red if it’s below 70 degrees) and little bit of bronzer. I tried Latisse for lash growth and loved it, my lashes got so long! But it ended up irritating my eyes, so I had to give it up. Another option is to get your lashes tinted, it will last about 3 months. While lash tint is not as dramatic as Latisse or extensions, it gave me some color and made my eyes pop a bit more. Win.

TANNING

I am the fairest one of them all, which translates into a fairly pasty complexion in colder months.  I love St. Tropez self tanner if I can’t get to a salon. Little tan makes you look prettier, more rested and thinner. Try it if you haven’t. There are great tutorials on how to apply on internet. I scrub myself in shower first, then apply a little lotion on ankles, elbows and knees, then apply self tanner while wearing disposable plastic gloves. There’s a new express tanner out by St Tropez which is great when in a rush. No getting wet while it is on! Depending what product you are using, Express can be washed off in 2 hours and it will normally last about a week. Sand and long baths as well as any exfoliation will remove it, so quick showers and plenty of lotion is the way to keep your tan looking its best. I should also add it masks cellulite pretty well.

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NAILS

Gel manicure – lasts 2-3 weeks. Need I say more. It does dehydrate your nails and when not removed properly it will damage nails. Go to a reputable salon and take a break here and there so that your nails can recover.

HAIR

on your body that is – laser hair removal. I thought this was something Kardashians did until I was at a spa and the lady there said I would be a perfect candidate for it and, I kid you not, said let me show you and quickly lasered an area before I even realized what was happening. I bought a package of 6 visits, had to add another one for 3 more. It is fantastic. If you have red or grey or really blond hair on your body it might not work well for you, it needs dark hair to recognize the follicles. I went every 2-3 months and it took about 30 min each time. Beats waxing and shaving. The only downsize is that if you do some areas like bikini but not legs, you forget you need to address those areas, yikes! I recommend Melissa at Dr. Sofer’s office.

I also tend to throw on a hair mask while working out in our gym and/or when cleaning. Maybe even a face mask. I am a queen of multitasking like most moms. Trust me, you want to call ahead if you are coming by. 🙂

Hope you all found this helpful.

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-haiku

 

 

Favorite sneakers under $100

More often than not, I run around wearing leggings and UGGS or leggings and sneakers. Here are my favorites!

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How cute are these for summer? Superga sneakers $85

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I have these in few colors and they are so comfortable. Great with skinny jeans. New Balance for J Crew $80

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I love Puma sneakers, I totally forget they are on because they are so lightweight. These babies are on sale right now for $39.99. Magic Eraser helps keep these clean and I’ve heard of people throwing sneakers in the washer running cold water quick cycle and air drying after.

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Reebok light pink sneaks $79.99

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Nike Roshe One on sale for $54.98