What Happened When We Followed Our Dream to Live a Life Less Ordinary

What Happened When We Followed Our Dream to Live a Life Less Ordinary

Everything has a price tag. In our case, living in an idyllic beach village in Costa Rica while one of the coldest winters in years descended on our home in Brooklyn, meant dealing with a few scorpions, perpetual dirt on our floor, and giving up Amazon. At a beach party shortly after arriving, I lamented  to my new mom friend about how I could not stand the feeling of dirt on my feet. She sweetly laughed and said, ‘We have a lot of unwinding to do on you”. I knew this was true, and it would be a good thing for me.

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Are you ready for take off? Tray tables locked, seats up, belts fastened and your toddler quietly, pleasantly sitting in his seat not kicking the person in front of him.

That whole “getting there is half the fun” was clearly not about getting there with a toddler. I highly recommend pursuing your travel goals with children, but it will take a little more prep work to have “a quarter of the fun” getting there.

To get you all there and back with as few meltdowns as possible, consider these five tips

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ALL ABOARD! It's time to get out of the city (which ever city you are in) and take full advantage of summer's last long weekend. In NYC the nights are already chilly so it truly feels like summer is on it's way out. Getting out of town involves the dreaded task of ... PACKING! But once you learn to be a good, practical  packer this gets easier - Good packing is having that Jenée Sais Quoi !!!

#1: Stick to a color palette. This way different pieces will mix and less shoes and accessories are required. 

The color palette depends on the locale. In this particular series I'm going to East Hampton so I chose a Sophisticated, Preppy combo of Summmer White, Black and Navy. 
Note* for my weekend in AC is was all about Gold and Bright color.

| White Linen Pants - Joe Fresh, Black Tank - James Perse, Straw Hat- Olive & Pique (White zip-up sweatshirt - not shown) |
This is a great travel outfit. Remember that if you are using public transportation: trains, buses or planes - the air is a bit high in the summer. So don't dress for the beach quite yet. 

Later, this outfit was perfect for a casual dinner in the Hamptons. 

and this is how sticking to a color palette plays out:
White linen pants pair with Navy Stripe tank.
Navy Stripe Tank pair with White eyelet skirt....

#2 Tasteful yet fun jewelry. Like big gaudy jewels are great for the holiday season, kitschy summer pieces make summer that much more playful. These pieces are all from Kenya. The shell necklace is a gift from my friend who lives there and the double strand beaded necklace is by Kustawii: an empowerment program teaching women artisans to be self sustaining. 

Bracelets in bright gold add a touch of fancy to simple cotton outfits. Watch bracelet from Michael Kors and Brass Bracelets from Calypso. 

#3 Sensible Sleep Wear. If you are staying at a friend's house or even a B&B where you might be seen by others in your nightie, keep it tame (or at least have a nice robe to cover up). These chinoiserie printed silk pajama pants are incredibly comfortable for sleep and are chic at the breakfast table too! 

#4 Sleek Dress. Though summer beach weekends are usually very casual, always bring one dress which can elevate your look for dinner beyond a clam bake. You never know. A dress like this is perfect because it's simple enough to be casual but sleek enough to look special. This one packs up small too! 
It's a great Maternity (non-maternity) dress too - J.crew

#5 Accoutrements - A few more necessary items (not all pictured here) which are smart for a Hamptons weekend - or almost any summer haven.
A) Bathing Suit & Sarong or SunTaker Towel
B) Summer Sweater (or in my case a white Zip up sweat shirt from a gift shop in Montauk)
C) Sperry Boat Shoes
D) White Tennis skirt

The red bathing suit is a perfect accent color to my color palette for easy cover up options. 



Last week we stayed on a Ranch in Winter Park, Colorado where we attended the beautiful wedding of our friends', Rick and Jackie. As I packed for the trip I tried to imagine which dress would be most fitting for not only the occasion but also the landscape. The hand-stamped brown & ivory print felt like rustic Colorado yet the Silk fabric made it glamorous.

The outfit was complete with an antique gold and crystal necklace and The Canal Street Clutch from Mignon Faget

Here I'm using the clutch like Grace Kelly used her Birkin. Which fashionista gets it???
baby bump- j.crew dress_mignon faget_ canal street clutch_ colorado_ strapless dress
Dress: Vintage J.Crew, Necklace: J.Crew, Clutch: Mignon Faget, Bracelet: Heidi Daus 

baby bump- j.crew dress_mignon faget_ canal street clutch_ colorado_ strapless dress

baby bump- j.crew dress_mignon faget_ canal street clutch_ colorado_ strapless dress

baby bump- j.crew dress_mignon faget_ canal street clutch_ colorado_ strapless dress


La Tasse de Café | French Vocabulary by Mademoiselle Love
girls drinking coffee, cafe, coffee, talking, quelle surprise, coffee talk, la tasse de cafe

Pronounced:  [klee shay]
Definition: an expression or idea that is overused or predictable and may appear unoriginal

Back in frigid New York, I’m drinking my Nespresso and I’m wishing it was a Thai iced coffee like the one I had from Somnuek Kopee in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I could get over it and tell myself that “All good things must come to an end” but that would be so cliché, don’t you think? Speaking of which…

Have you used the French word cliché but wondered what it really means? A cliché is an expression such as “All good things must come to an end” which is overused to the point that we don’t even know why we say it anymore. I mean why must all good things necessarily come to an end?? A cliché can also refer to anything that is highly predictable and therefore seems unoriginal. Let’s see if Simone knows what I’m talking about…

Amy Lynn: OMG did you watch the Grammys?

Simone:  Like, duh! I’m guessing you did too?

Amy Lynn:Yeah, totally! I had a Grammy party - sorry I, like, forgot to invite you. We all got really dressed up, and we had champagne, and I gave out awards to everyone. I gave myself the award for “Best Dressed”! OMG it was so much fun! Too bad you missed it!
Simone:Whatever. That is so cliché. I’ve been to a thousand parties like that.

Amy Lynn:You’re just jealous. It was fabulous- even if it was cliché!

Maybe Amy Lynn has a point… Ideas become cliché because they are overused, but perhaps they are overused because they work? Then again, we all need some originality in our lives. 

What do you think? Are clichés sometimes ok?

Merci Beaucoup,
Mademoiselle Love

Jenée Here:  The older you get, the more you understand clichés. I suppose that's part of the whole "older and wiser". It's one trade off for another.

Mlle Love was kind enough to share some photos from her Thailand vacation. Now look and feel warm.  
Thai Iced Coffee and Butter Sweetened Milk Toast @ Somnuek Kopee

The Origin of "La Tasse de Café", French for "the cup of coffee"
is a morning radio show out of Ville Platte, Louisiana on KVPI-FM
My dad listens to it regularly to keep up with his Cajun French as he now doesn't have much opportunity to speak it in Louisiana where the language is disappearing. 
Since I'm from Cajun land in Louisiana - with a serious interest in fashion - and Mademoiselle Love, a Louisiana girl too, - is in love with everything French and everything coffee - it was only fitting we pay tribute to our roots and our new found loves with a weekly Fashion French lesson.

Tune in to KVPI every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 8:45AM (NY time) for your Cajun French lesson and come back to the blog every Friday for more French lessons from Mademoiselle Love. We will discuss useful French  words or expressions for the fashionable girl. To make it even more enjoyable, we will do it over a very fashionable cup of coffee.


How to Pack for a Vacation in Colorado
Fashion Cliff Notes | Outfit Ideas

A trip to Colorado is no easy task for packing (well when you care about fashion). There are active days filled with hiking, biking, and sometimes camping. Then there are days of shopping, parties and nice dinners with friends. To some degree I have noticed you can just wear exercise wear all day and everywhere in Colorado. Though, I prefer to "dress for the occasion" so here is how I pulled it off with just carry on luggage.

Light day hikes require little more than comfortable shorts and a tank top. Sunglasses or a hat and sunscreen are imperative. Now get up that mountain and watch for Chipmunks !!!!!
There is always time for a fashion show on the mountain
Shorts: Lucky brand | Tank: Zara |  Sun Glasses: Vintage Federica Ray

Outfit for Shopping Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado

Top: Zara Collection |  Shorts: Joe Fresh | Handbag: Vintage | Sandals: KorkEase

This Mullet Shirt is a party in the back and great for when you just want your derriere covered. 

Wedding Guest Look: I went for Cocktail meets Flower Child... Very Boulder
Dress: Vintage dress from the 60s care of Ari's Grandmother
Handbag: Black Woven Monet Minaudier (my own design)
Sparkly Necklaces: J.Crew
Wedge Sandals: Corso Como

Active day of biking through Canyons and City
Tennis Skirt: Addidas
Loose Tank Top: Zara
Hot Pink Sports Bra: Kohl's Special
* for a more feminine active look - don't forget about tennis skirts!!! they are not only for tennis*

Dinner Wear: Fine French Food calls for a tidy sophisticated look but still Colorado relaxed
Top: Zara Collection (makes a reappearance)
Pants: Uniqlo Hot Pink Denim
Neckwear: Vintage Scarf - flowers, stripes and dots

French Friday #20: Valise

 This week's French word

by:  Mademoiselle Love


pronounced:   | vah - leez  |
 Translation - suitcase

Today, I'm hanging out at the most adorable (how can they all be so adorable?!) coffee shop inside of a market in Tribeca called All Good Things. The name is very à propos because this is a place where you can buy- you guessed it- all good things, from flowers and chocolates to jewelry and candles and from fine meats and cheeses to local produce and hand-crafted goods. I forgot to mention that their coffee shop is a mini Blue Bottle coffee shop, so I knew just what to get- a New Orleans iced coffee. It's hitting the spot on this hot summer day!

Speaking of summer, Jenée Sais Quoi and I are both doing a lot of traveling lately, and perhaps you are too, so we thought you could use a little travel-inspired French vocabulary, starting with the word valise.

Valise is the French word for suitcase. In English, it is somewhat of an old-fashioned word for a small overnight bag. Let's bring it back, but keep in mind that in French, it's the word for a normal sized suitcase. Amy Lynn's got it down...

Simone: Amy Lynn, I'm sick of Paris. Let's get away to Provence for a couple of days.

Amy Lynn: OMG, but I don't want to leave Paris. Like, how can you ever get sick of this totally rad city? I don't get it!

Simone: Um, Amy Lynn, if you were from here, you'd get it, but I guess you never will... Pack your weekender and let's go!

Amy Lynn: You mean my valise?

Simone: OMG, yes, you're so annoying.

Amy Lynn: No, you're so annoying.

So, who do you think is more annoying? If anyone's annoying you, I suggest you pack your valise and get out of dodge for a couple of days!

Merci Beaucoup,

Mademoiselle Love
jenée here: Did you know that one of the most iconic handbag brands, Louis Vuitton, started out as a luggage brand? I'm sure at this moment you are imagining a big stack of LV suitcases ready to board the next train. Dreamy, right? LV still makes great travel bags (or valises), but on the softer side for today's modern traveller (you know, carry-on luggage for very cramped flights). I know that we all get tired of this over played logo coated canvas, but last year's Fall LV Ad Campaign is still as fun to look at now as it was then. It romanticizes travel and evokes the desire to dis our wheely luggage. Ooooh the days of the valise. Yes, let's bring back this terminology and at least pretend in our minds that travel is sophisticated again.
Fall Winter 2012/13 Add Campaign 

Mila Canvas Valise Clutch

The Origin of "La Tasse de Café", French for "the cup of coffee"
is a morning radio show out of Ville Platte, Louisiana on KVPI-FM
My dad listens to it regularly to keep up with his Cajun French as he now doesn't have much opportunity to speak it in Louisiana where the language is disappearing. 
Since I'm from Cajun land in Louisiana, with a serious interest in fashion and Mademoiselle Love, a Louisiana girl too, who is head over heels in love with everything French and everything coffee, it was only fitting we pay tribute to our roots and our new found loves.
Tune in to KVPI every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 8:45AM (NY time) for your Cajun French lesson and come back to the blog every Friday for more French lessons from Mademoiselle Love. We will discuss useful French  words or expressions for the fashionable girl. To make it even more enjoyable, we will do it over a very fashionable cup of coffee.

Fashion Note: Thai Highland Style, even Tory Burch Approves

While we were in Thailand this winter, we found the colors and patterns of traditional Thai Himalayan textiles as intoxicating as a Mai Tai. It's hard to not be drawn to the vibrant colors and intricate patterns. Then you keep going back for more, just as you keep reaching for that bright and sweet Mai Tai.
 Note: Thai highlands are in the northern part of the country where the foothills of the Himalayas lie. 

At the Sunday Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai, Ari and I found bits of Thai fashion we could not leave behind.

In a Vogue Thailand article, I discovered even Tory Burch could not help but to also be inspired by the rousing textiles and colors of the Thai Highlands. These are part of her Spring 2013 Collection.
From Vogue Scrapbook to my travel Scrapbook

Fashion Note: Jim Thompson - A Valentine's Scarf Story

THE SILK SCARF- A perfect gift (for a girl over 30 or any girl who loves to play dress up)

Scarf by Day, Blindfold by night
scarf by day blindfold by night

Refined, Playful, & Possibly the most Versatile Accessory
jim thompson scarf
Jim Thompson Silk Scarf with Elephant Print

jim thompson scarf

Since we just arrived back home the day before Valentines, I was not expecting any kind of Valentine's surprise as we are both terribly jet lagged and spent from the trip.  But when I awoke, I found a surprise from Thailand.  It's the quintessential fashionable gift from the land of silk, elephants and smiles: A Jim Thompson silk scarf.
jim thompson scarf

jim thompson scarf

jim thompson scarf

Knowing how to wear a scarf takes some practice and displays a sense of refinement.  Having the gusto to pull it off shows good taste and a playful attitude. For a trip, it's the perfect accessory for packing light as it can be a hair accessory, a neck accessory, a waist accessory or....
a bedroom accessory - think blindfold. 
Helloooo, it's Valentine's day.
jim thompson scarf
A new addition to my scarf addiction.
jim thompson scarf
Fashion show while still in my night gown.  Fold in half, Tie around neck - Instant Refinement

jim thompson scarf
Schmatta Style. Laid back.

jim thompson scarf
With the Knot in the front - Make sure you know good knots, sailor.

jim thompson scarf
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... Happy Valentines lovers

While in Thailand I was a little elephant crazy and wanted elephant print, elephant embroidery, elephant carving everything. Seeing elephants walking along the rode was so strange and amazing. Getting up close at the Elephant park was scary and amazing. Receiving a kiss from a baby elephant was really cute and quite a thrill.
elephant kiss girl
Receiving an elephant kiss in Thailand

elephant hugs boy
Ari getting an elephant hug in Thailand

With animal shaped patterns everywhere now (it started with birds), not only is this scarf nostalgic but totally on-trend

Fashion Note: Island Night Wear

NIGHT WEAR (not sleep wear): Seductive, Playful & Sparkly

As I finished dressing for our Friday night out "on the town" in Koh Chang, Thailand (a beach town), I exclaimed to Ari, "Isn't Fashion so much fun!" He laughed and said, "I love that you will always be a little girl." To that, I say: Whatever ;)

We were meeting up with friends to celebrate a birthday and see what the night life had to offer. After days of just living in a bathing suit and sarong, I was ready to put on a little mascara and pull together an appropriate Night Time outfit with my modest assortment of clothing packed.
  • I thought, little white shorts would be hot & sexy, thus covering the Seductive part.
  • For Jewelry I did the Playful arm party thing with multiple Friendship bracelets.  Also, a fluorescent bandeau under your slightly see-thru white shirt is totally: Playful Seductress.
  • Night is always the time to to put on shine since it's so dark outside! or in Da' Club. Rhinestones alone may be too much for an island, but when they are woven into an friendship bracelet style belt - they are a perfect Beach Nightwear Accessory.
  • Lastly, Accessorize with a Cute date
Tortoise Time-Will-Tell Watch, Friendship Bracelet Arm Party from Madewell, Sparkly Belt, Bright Purple leather bag

Sparkly Hand Woven Belt from Calypso, the ultimate Beach store in the City (NYC)

Fluorescent Pink Bandeau Bra from Jackie's in New Orleans

Hot Date

Let the Night Begin

Note: a perfectly normal day time outfit was transformed for night with a few small accessories. Good to remember when needing to pack light!

Fashion Note : Sarong FASHION SHOW

On this trip I introduced Ari to the beauty of
the SARONG - Exotic, Multi-Functional, and Packable

Hailing from island life, the Sarong is naturally Exotic as it is part of traditional dress of exotic peoples.

In the states most guys would never be caught wearing a sarong, but in Thailand and other south eastern Asian countries, it's quite common. Thus, I was able to convince Ari to borrow one of my less girly looking ones. After this trip, he may be sold on what a perfect piece of beach attire it is.

I may have coerced him into a Sarong Fashion show......

to achieve this look: wrap sarong around waist like a bath towel and fold top over 2x's
Ari loving the long dude sarong in front of our Bungalow

to achieve this look: tie sarong at side of waist or hip to let leg peek through
Sarong bikini

THE CAPE SARONG (for the Goth Beach Goer)
to achieve this look: tie long end at nape of neck and let if fly!
Sarong cape

for when your luggage is lost and you need a dress
to achieve this look: wrap and tie corners above shoulder
sarong dress

to achieve this look: wrap sarong around neck and fling over one side, lift chin and look down your nose at everyone
sarong scarf

to achieve this look: fold sarong in half, wrap sarong around hips and tie at waist on side or in front
sarong skirt

to achieve this look: wrap sarong around head starting at the forehead, cross in back, tie in front and tuck tails.
sarong head wrap
This technique is really great when you forget your hat on a kayaking trip, like Ari did. Just at the moment he started to become seasick (which was horribly funny - you had to be there, otherwise I just sound mean laughing at this) the heat was really getting to him. So I instructed him from the front to tie this around his head. Once again, he was loving his man sarong.

to achieve this look: spread sarong on sand and assume asana
sarong yoga mat
These images just show a sampling of the MANY FUNCTIONS of the sarong. Coupled with how light they are and small they fold up, they are the perfect staple for a beach trip. When PACKING light, the sarong leaves more room for your ukelele.  Aside from the perfecto sarong, foreign trips always include a Lonely Planet Book. 
thialand lonely planet

Travel: Kitties of Thailand - On Leashes


Yes, finally a post on A Life with Ari about Kitties!!!!!!!!

Thailand is full of roaming dogs (though not very scary ones) and kitties (but not as many as Rome).

Here are some photos of some of my favorites

kitten cat thialand

These kitties live at the Banila in Chiang Mai where we are staying. Actually there are pictures of them on there website and it was the sole reason I wanted to stay. The owner loves cats and has cat decor everywhere. These 4 kitties live in the lobby. During working hours while people are in and out the kitties are on leashes. The leashes are long enough so that they can move around and even sit outside beyond the sliding glass door. I've only known them for a few days but they have such distinct personalities. As a cat adorer, having these sweet kitties around while on a long vacation is such a good fix. Banila Guest house is wonderful for many other reasons too.

kitten cat thialand
We love to look out side and stare at the boy cat that lives next door

kitten cat thialand
All I like to do is Sleep and Dream

kitten cat thialand
I'm always a little pissed off

kitten cat thialand
I'm always a little bit frightened. I'm very sensitive
kitten cat thialand
The cars are so fast. I'm so happy we have these cute leashes to keep us safe.
kitten cat thialand
Oh so Nervous .... !!!!!!!
This kitty lives at K.B. Resorts. While we were checking in it was taking a nap on the reservation desk. One of the guys working there covered it in brochure booklets and the kitty seems to love the covers.

kitten cat thialand

kitten cat thialand
Ahhhhhhhhh Streeeeeeeeeeetch

Kitty in a Cone is so funny no matter where you are. It's a little mean to laugh because they are healing from something, but at least they are being looked after. I also never saw a kitty cone in Thai!

kitten cat thialand
Don't let the stupid cone fool you. I run this store, bitches

Dare I say it.... ERMAHGERD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Travel: Sickness. Sometimes, it does happen

Basket full of Homeopathic Remedies to cure my stomach bug. 

The basket contained:
  • Green Chlorophyll for Cooling the Fever
  • Fresh Coconut for hydrating
  • Homemade Kampuchea for good probiotics
  • Ginger to soothe stomach

In the evening we were going back to our room and the inn keeper realized we were not going to eat dinner. She insisted on buying us a rice soup that Thai people eat when they are sick. When she brought it to our room, I couldn't believe it - IT WAS CHICKEN SOUP (Thai Grandma Style Chicken Soup). Is it possible that every culture uses Chicken Soup as a feel good remedy?!

Travel: Last Day on Koh Chang, Thailand

Last day of blonde hair trying to dread
Last day to be ware of falling coconuts from above
Last day of Part I of our Thailand adventure

Our top recommendations for Koh Chang Island:

Accommodations : K.B. Resort on Kai Bae Beach.
It's ideal if a relaxing vacation is what you are after with a beautiful

Restaurants: Porn's Bunglaow
FYI, Porn is a common Thai nickname
The restaurant is on the beach with cushions to lie down on while u sip a drink of
wait for your food. There is even a tree house to sit in for dinner. My fav!

Magic Garden
The food is fantastic and the music is so cool. Our server had the coolest hair too
sorry no picture! They have accommodations too on a party beach if that is the
purpose of your trip

Transport on Island: Mr.Moon Motor bikes
It's across from KB resort. MrMoon is a super cool guy. For less than $10 a day one can rent a motor bike which is the best and most entertaining way to get around the island. The road is full of steep hills and twists and turns. It's definitely an adventure in itself.

Travel: Get Accustomed to Having Sand Between Your Toes

Yes it's a metaphor when traveling to far and foreign places.

(Or maybe you've heard the expression "When in Rome do as the Romans do")

The best part about the first day on a beach vacation is taking off your shoes and walking on the sand. The worst part is the sand from the beach stuck between your toes at the end of the day. Instead of neurotically trying to control the situation and constantly cleaning your feet, giving in to the new habitat will be far more rewarding.

Go to Local spots, Eat Local, and Dress Local
(this is not about the Brooklyn Local, Organic Movement ;)

Enjoying and embracing a new culture actually can be made better with proper footware. No joke!

Discovering Kork Ease a few years ago made all warm weather traveling that much better. They are style and function in one. The sandal style works with all warm weather outfits, and the wedge makes long walking tours in a European city or dancing late night in a beachy Thai club more tolerable and graceful. I also like the way my bum looks in a wedge/heel.

While packing for this trip I thought of a great video I once saw about a girls shoes which are animated and all wait eagerly in her closet to see which she will choose to go out into the world. I have a feeling all my other shoes are jealous of the Kork Ease because when I'm packing light, these sandals always win.

Ari's sandals are obviously not wedges but win the cool hippy award. Nomadic State of Mind sandals are the hippest bit of footware for dudes on an island or just in a... nomadic state of mind.

*don't forget sunscreen on your feet when kayaking because no shoes will feel good when those guys are toasted!

Travel: Thailand- Where the Wild Things Are


This morning, thanks to jet lag, Ari and I were the first on the beach for a sunrise swim. Diving into the ocean to start the day is a dream I have often. The only thing that would have been better is doing it in the Buff! Perhaps tomorrow

While wading in the water, we were looking forward to coffee. Then I started to think how close we are to Sumatra and thinking about this part of the world's history. While this place is civilized, it's not what we Westerners have come to know as civilization. Certainly this rawness is the magnetism ( and sometimes repulsion) for western people.

Here it is WILD. It retains a closeness to Nature and embraces Rawness

Or as Ari told me, " A rabbi once said: we are here to spiritualize the material and materialize the spiritual. "

In addition, the nature makes the Wild and the Wild makes the nature. By Ari


girl with banana

girl bite banana