"We are all walking each other home." - Razz Mas
Welcome to Monday Morning Inspiration, ANNA Magazine's free weekly online publication where we share our love of food, fashion and travel woven with heartfelt inspiration that will warm your soul and inspire you to Make Everyday Special! If you haven't signed up please do so here, SIGN UP!
My message today is bittersweet.
On the one hand, I am so grateful for all the amazing people who showed up at our Mother’s Day Brunch Pop Up last weekend. We sat bookings together at large tables encouraging them to connect with other guests. And it worked! Beyond the delicious food, the room filled with conversation and laughter. It was lovely!
On the other hand, I am heartbroken to learn of yet another beautiful and talented person who made the decision to take her own life this past week. Interesting enough, several people had told me over the last few weeks that I needed to connect with her, thinking we had many similarities. I never got that chance. I didn’t know her that well, but I knew of her, and I wept when I heard the news.
Both situations led me to think how badly we all need connection. We are hardwired for connection. We need a place to share with one another, to be honest with each other, to laugh with each other… And maybe to cry with each other.
With my 18 year old graduating this year, my own life is about to change dramatically. Last weekend I pulled up to the restaurant where she works, and just sat in my car watching her through the window. It was Friday night and I was by myself. At first, I actually enjoyed just sitting there… But then I thought, there must be more! And there must be more women out there feeling like this… Where are they?
Then I remembered, when I first designed the ANNA Test Kitchen, I imagined how great it would be filled with like-minded women on a regular basis, maybe a daily basis (like a men’s club) for an espresso and a chocolate croissant, a business or leisurely lunch, a glass of wine after work or dinner… Sitting together at large tables and connecting… About work, relationships, family, friends, life. So we are thinking about ANNA’s Summer Pop Up for this exact purpose! I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments section below!
Through sadness and joy, everyday is an opportunity to be special. Today, I'm sharing a little of both... (and my fashion obsession with Clair Underwood).
What I have learned…
Today, I decided to share a heartbreaking story that someone special shared with me many years ago for our 4th issue, on the loss of her son.
When I was young I thought nothing of lifestyle or wealth or prestige. I grew with ordinary longings for family and ultimate love. I imagined myself surrounded by children and beautiful days. Then I met my husband and we fell in love. We were so happy, I knew he was the one. We had five lovely children, they are all unique. Our life took on such meaning. He became a dentist and I fell in love with design. He was a good husband. We had a good life. On a vacation in St. Martin, we got a phone call to come home, something had happened to one of my sons. He was sad, the things he was saying. We rushed him in, I was stricken with fear. Something was terribly wrong. I pleaded with the doctor but we were released a short time later. I was told perhaps he needed more independence, a place of his own. We left feeling helpless, we were in such despair. Later that day, my son took his life... Those were the years when I couldn’t breathe. The grief was beyond what one can comprehend. After 15 years I have found a special place in my heart to place the grief. And somehow, someway to reinvent myself. I see life in a whole new way. If ever I meet a person with a story to tell, for the rest of my life I will listen and I will never tell them that I’ve heard it before. If you know someone in crisis, please call them and say, "I want to spend time with you, I am taking you out". They just need you to listen, without giving advice. Over and over they need you to listen. They are not capable of telling you. Or calling you. They need you to call.
Without any further introduction, here are a few good titles I found on my iPad bookshelf...
On a lighter note...
I just finished watching House of Cards Season Three... Although her personality leaves something to be desired, Robin Wright’s character, Clair Underwood’s fashion sense is enviable. Her wardrobe essentials are 1. Neutral colours 2. Fitted Outerwear 3. Structured button-ups 4. Strapless gowns 5. A Classic Satchel Handbag 6. Tailored Sheath Dresses 7. Boatnecks and Square Necks 8. Chic Workout Attire.
Her stylist, Kemal Harris, describes Claire's style in three words: "Timeless. Decisive. Feminine” and shares fashion lessons we can learn from.
1. Claire's clothes fit her perfectly. Indeed, it is all about fit. Harris explains: "We tailor almost every piece to her fit; not everyone can afford to do that of course, but having a great tailor makes all of the difference." Buy one less pair of shoes and instead have your pants and dresses tailored. 2. Claire is not much of a pants girl. Pencil skirts. Full skirts. Fitted dresses. More feminine, and somehow more powerful. 3. Claire is even less of a prints girl. She prefers solid colors. Harris laughs: "We did one striped blouse in Season 3. That is as far as we went. Anything beyond that is too flamboyant for Claire's character. She is so classic." 4. Claire's idea of color remains muted. Deep burgundy, hunter green, violet, light gray, oatmeal. Otherwise, her color palette is black, white and charcoal. 5. Claire is not into jewelry or accessories. If she has to choose, she chooses pearls over diamonds. A single strand of pearls as a necklace, sometimes a single strand bracelet. And of course, her Cartier watch. That has been her trademark from the start. 6. Claire does not own a pair of jeans, or sweatpants. Her version of casual are pants with cuffs (when she does wear pants), and a cashmere sweater. Or a pair of black silk pajamas. 7. Claire's preferred sleeve length is three quarters. So much so that Harris often has to alter the sleeve length of the outfits to fit this rule. And oh how powerful does this look with long black leather gloves? 8. Claire only wears stilettos -- Manolos and Louboutins, specifically. You will not see her in a wedge or flats. Unless she is running of course. 9. Claire loves a statement purse. YSL Sac du Jour is her go-to, although an Hermes Kelly bag does make its appearance. As does a Ralph Lauren beaded clutch. 10. Claire likes contemporary designers. In addition to classics such as Ralph Lauren, Armani, and Burberry, she wears up and comers such as Altuzarra, Jason Wu, Derek Lam.
Simple Beautiful Food...
Dinner is easy when tucked into parchment and wrapped in foil. Parchment paper allows the natural juices to steam food during cooking, thus eliminating the amount of oil that could otherwise be added. These three simple combinations are a good idea all summer long, whether grilling outdoors or baking in the oven.
Salmon with fennel and leeks
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 small bulb fennel, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (10-12 ounce) salmon fillet
½ lemon, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
Line a 12 x 18 sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil with parchment paper. Place leeks and fennel onto parchment. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, top with lemon and salmon, season again with salt and pepper. Place onto parchment and fold parchment over ingredients once, then fold again to seal. Tightly fold the foil across the top of the parchment package and seal both ends to prevent steam from escaping. Preheat grill to medium-high, place package on grill seam side up and cook for 20-25 minutes, until salmon is cooked to desired doneness. Serves 2.
Shrimp with corn, potatoes and Old Bay seasoning
2 ears corn, husks and silks removed, cut into 1-inch lengths
½ pound baby potatoes, halved
1 pound jumbo shrimp,13-15 count, shell on
Extra-virgin olive oil
McCormick’s Old Bay seasoning
Line a 12 x 18 sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil with parchment paper. Lay potatoes onto parchment, then corn and shrimp. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with Old Bay seasoning. Fold parchment over ingredients once, then fold again to seal. Tightly fold the foil across the top of the parchment package and seal both ends to prevent steam from escaping. Preheat grill to medium high, place package on grill seam side up and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and shrimp are pink. Serves 2.
8 Indian eggplant, cut in halves
1 zucchini, cut in chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup pearl onions, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh parsley and oregano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
Line a 12 x 18 sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil with parchment paper. In bowl, toss vegetables with herbs, olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place onto parchment paper and fold parchment over ingredients once, then fold again to seal. Tightly fold the foil across the top of the parchment package and seal both ends to prevent steam from escaping. Preheat grill to medium high, place package on grill seam side up and cook for 15-20 minutes. Serves 2.