black white and blue in Chicago

beautiful blue sky, and we walked miles
black dress, white sneakers, white bag outside of Carlisle | Per Se showroom
The Burberry building caught our eye, great looking, and nice things inside

Predictably one of my favorite color palettes is black, white, and shades of blue, (hello Caroline). For touring around the beautiful city of Chicago wore a black silk maxi dress, white sneakers, and carried a white bag, it felt right for a summer city look. That long dress endured 17k steps, up and down and all around the miracle mile, river walk, and even held up for the late afternoon flight home. I’m not afraid in the least of outfit repeat, wore that same dress the night before with a pair of sandals for dinner down in Lincoln Park at North Pond.

the view outside our room
morning room service
we had a suite, home away from home
I spy three handsome men :), and he is all of them

We stayed at The Langham, and absolutely loved it. Great gym, spa, food, room, service and location, would return in a heartbeat.

If you’re in Buffalo you can shop the L’Agence dress locally at Tony Walker & Co., everyone on the floor is helpful, my particular favorite is Lexi.

Every day dress and black, white, and blue while in Chicago.

let’s speak French

boom, just as I got a little comfortable with my super simple French expressions, we were on our way out

Exactly as I was feeling somewhat confident third week in with my super simple French conversations, boom, we packed up and flew to Spain. Super thankful sixth child is French fluent, and four of our other kids can speak Spanish. Me, not so much, and definitely felt challenged and my brain had to work overtime. 

Three weeks in the south of France surrounded by all of our kids, pure heaven, husband and I would go back in a heartbeat. 

French dress, French handbag

While packing I threw in my one and only Chanel ready-to-wear piece, this dress I wore last summer for oldest daughter’s country-side wedding reception. Danced all night and put myself to bed, still wearing the dress. The next morning, I slipped it off, probably dropped it on the floor, and maybe the next day hung it on a hanger. There it hung, no steaming no cleaning until I just recently popped it in a large zip-lock bag and stuck it on the top layer of my case. Good clothes don’t need to be precious; I believe they are meant to be worn, loved, enjoyed. 

Thinking I’ve got a pretty decent handle on French clothes and food, really need to spend some time concentrating on the language. Oldest son did some Spotify podcasts while driving before traveling, and he was spot on. 

Ethel’s 80th

gathered at the barn for ‘stingers’, our featured cocktail
Ethel, peanut, me looking at old family photos
Queen City Strings
absolutely love these two, Ethan and husband
the gang’s all here

Birthdays in our world are most often celebrated with a scratch baked cake and dinner at home with family and maybe a few close friends. Mom turns eighty late August, and we gathered for a barn dinner last week to celebrate as my dear sister and her family were visiting from San Francisco, CA. 

seating for sixteen
birthday girl place card and menu

It’s not often we’re all together, she’s got a full life with her huge west coast event design company, Radeff Design Studios, managing fetes for thousands. The two of us together pulled off a home cooked five course seated dinner, country-side, and it was brilliant. 

Tracy ordered rentals, booked the string quartet, arranged flowers, designed graphics, and basically planned the menu. I came in at the eleventh hour and baked a cake and cooked off the entrée, a little well done. 

Mom really started the two of us on this party-planning journey, even while holding down a full-time job back when that was really not the thing she would set the table, make fancy food, and have us put on our best clothes to come together and break bread. That’s a gift that continually gives, the desire to feed and care for others, making meals memorable and soul stirring, whether it be scrambled eggs with toast and homemade jam or a wedding celebration for 200+.

happy birthday dear mom

There were sixteen of us that night, my sister and I with our men, her eight grandchildren, and two life-long young friends. Most of us took turns raising a glass and offering a toast, telling stories with love and affection of fun and crazy times. An 80thbirthday is reason to celebrate. Mom, you are beautiful, independent, curious, elegant, and ever-evolving. Happy Birthday and wishing you many returns of the day. 

Maxwell toasting Ethel
birthday bouquet from Lexi
the table is set
menu details
seated dinner for sixteen, how we celebrate birthdays

day on the water

let’s all live in the south of France

Most of the last three weeks have been countryside Provence yet we did break code and booked a boat outing, highly recommend.

We brought plenty of alcohol, obviously, should have packed a picnic as we had to buy sandwiches and chips from the gas station, not one of my best culinary feats.

Yeah, I did that

It was a ball, swimming in the Mediterranean an absolute highlight. Driving back that evening I thought I could live forever in the south of France, wishful thinking indeed.

Happy weekend everyone, tomorrow we start moving west, we’ll be stateside Monday. Third week of June is one of my favorite times of year, the long days feel endless.

Elizabeth and Ethan

duty free pick-up

I’m not much of a regimented beauty routine devotee, one of my things is washing my face at the kitchen sink with dish soap and then drying it with the towel that’s attached to my apron. 

A few things that I do love are a black kohl eye pencil, black mascara, and a good eye makeup remover to take the whole smudge thing off with, dish soap doesn’t seem to work well for the eye area. I’ve tried several, and always come back to Chanel

I also like to even out my skin tone with a good foundation as I’ve done a bit of damage from, I know it’s bad a life-long sun worshiper. 

Getting out the door for travel is tough, getting out the door when you’re leaving for a month makes me completely scattered, and likely to overpack while also forgetting a few things. 

The white bag? (similar one here) A gift from the husband. Whenever I carry this, I double wash my hands before and while using it and never put a pen of any kind in there, that would be disaster. I’m even careful with lipstick picking one that doesn’t have too much pigmentation because I’m always in a hurry and I would probably smudge on the bag. 

These are my recent duty-free cosmetic pick-ups and they’ve been great.

eating and drinking in France

room with a view

Yesterday morning I broke a piece of baguette and smeared it with French butter and then soft ripe cheese and then topped it with local honey, it was sublime. I’m drinking small cups of espresso, forgoing the tall American coffee, and usually indulging again at half past three. 

everyone helps for dinner in

Second son’s girlfriend says le vin rosé is like water, and you know how you’re supposed to get in eight full glasses of that. 

on our way to town to gather supplies
we did have lunch at this Michelin star restaurant L’Aubergine
okay, so I took this photo, daily run to market

Booie asked me where the pantry is in the kitchen and I replied, ‘no pantry, we buy what we need and will use on the daily’. 

petit déjeuner on the lawn for six

We started with a party of six, grew to eight and then ten, and now back to eight, and on Thursday we will be five. We’ve been gone three plus weeks now, on holiday with really nothing to do, simply enjoying one another’s company in this beautiful country of France. We are blessed, and the husband is the triple gold star. 

prepping for dinner in

I’ve been cooking as most times we prefer staying in and accustoming myself with an electric cooktop and an oven I don’t understand, but that’s okay. Everything makes me think, even the every day run to the market where I have to navigate the carts, and the checkout. 

The first half of the trip I was fairly disciplined with the workout routine and now as we’re getting ready to head home, I’m savoring every lazy hour of undriven bliss. 

and the sun goes down

We’ve been eating and drinking in France, and that’s a very good thing. All photos here by Maxwell Collins, on Instagram @maxyny.

soft florals, brilliant light

Now in Eygalières, and we’re settling in to life in the French countryside. 

our very own garden
pool with a view
morning coffee spot
very early morning
home base

First morning I took these photographs of the garden before anyone else was awake, and then did an hour of exercise, it was divine. 

rolled neutrals
bought a khaki green tablecloth and napkins in St. Remy and cut white roses from the garden.

Of course, I’m up to my usual, buying linens and candles, and these I picked up in nearby Saint Rémy. I was undecided between the khaki green or a very soft pink, and at the end chose the khaki, I guess if you look at my case of rolled clothes it all makes sense. 

youngest of the bunch, she’s pretty good at speaking French
both wearing a variation of florals

We are now a party of six and expected four more to come. Summer holiday in Provence, the light is absolutely brilliant.