Target’s JoyLab

Motivation to get you through hump day!

Target JoyLab

Target has always been known for its collection of private label brands and exclusive designer collaborations.  But recently, they announced plans to revamp their beloved brands, retiring some older labels to make room for new ones.  Their latest launch is a new activewear line called JoyLab, which touts itself as a collection designed to take you from “crunches to brunches” with styles made to withstand a yoga class or morning run, but cute enough to carry on with the rest of your day with no change of clothes required.

I’ve always been a little hesitant to purchase too many clothes from Target.  As cute (and affordable) as their clothes are, they’re often not the best quality and can quickly wear down, forcing you to have to retire them sooner than expected.  But I’ve always been a fan of their sportswear and activewear collections.  I own a number of active items from Target, from sports bras to running pants, some of which I’ve had for years and are still in good shape.  That’s why I’m especially excited for JoyLab, which looks extremely stylish and functional, and I’ve already eyed a number of items I plan to purchase (I’m currently coveting the set in the above picture).  The line launched in-stores and online this week and is available in a range of sizes and prices (sports bras start at $14.99!).

Will you check it out?

 

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Keeping It Classic

Inspiration for the new week!

KC3

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year, for many reasons, one of which is the amount of sartorial choices one can make, at least early on in the season.  It’s cool enough that you can layer, playing with textures, like leather, and you can give your sandals a rest and break out your fall weather footwear, like loafers and boots.  Plus, it’s not so cold yet that you need to bundle every inch of your body, making it easy to transition from day to night and work to play, which is exactly what I did with this outfit.

It took me awhile to realize that less is more and basic doesn’t mean boring.  I’ve now fully embraced a more simple, minimalistic look in my wardrobe- in palette and styles.  This outfit is no exception and it makes the case for classic being cool.  The colors are simple- black, navy- but dimensional thanks to layers and textures and the pop of color from the lipstick and necklace, which keep it from feeling boring.  The masculine blazer and loafers are softened by little details, like leather (faux), stripes, scalloping and the fact that the loafers are backless.  The addition of the backpack keeps this functional but playful, making it the perfect, effortless outfit for a day at the office followed by cocktails on the deck.

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Fashion note: I’m wearing Gap pants (similar here), a Banana Republic top (similar here), an old blazer, Topshop loafer mules (similar here) and a Nordstrom backpack (similar here).

An argument for barre

Motivation to get you through hump day!

barre

I recently discovered a podcast (called A Few Things) by the Of A Kind founders, in which they discuss some of the things they love or are currently getting into.  After a binge-listening afternoon, I heard an episode which I really connected to, which was a discussion with one of The Bar Method’s franchise owners in New York.  While I don’t practice at that particular studio, I have been participating in barre classes for the last 3 years and I absolutely love it.  

When I first started practicing, back in the New York area, I couldn’t believe how difficult the workout was, yet it was something I could still manage.  Perhaps it was the many years I spent dancing (although I hadn’t been in a class for ten years), but I was also likely drawn to it because of the environment.  There were only women, which was refreshing, of all shapes and sizes including pregnant women, and a challenging yet not intimidating atmosphere.  I had always hated fitness classes because I hated the intense, strict vibes they seemed to promote.  But barre was different; there was no instructor yelling at you and no competitive peers.  In fact, it seemed more like the yoga practice I had recently begun and loved.  

When I moved to Chicago, I kept up with my beloved yoga, but unfortunately my barre practice fell to the wayside.  After getting settled in my new city, I decided to revisit barre and am so glad I did.  I found a studio I love, one that I genuinely look forward to going to not only because of the environment, but because I have now seen the benefits of a consistent barre practice.  I highly encourage anyone who is unfamiliar or uncertain of practicing barre to give this podcast episode a listen to get a better understanding of what you stand to gain from a consistent barre practice.

Image via.

Elevated black

Inspiration for the new week!

elevated LBD

Black is undoubtedly a color I gravitate to in dressing.  It’s slimming, sleek and classic and you pretty much can’t go wrong with a little black dress. However, the color can also feel stale and boring, especially if you wear a lot of it or if what you’re wearing lacks any punch.  That’s not to say that simple black equals boring, which is exactly what I discovered with this Zara dress.  I stumbled upon this dress back in the winter and was immediately drawn to its simplicity and elegance and knew it would serve so many purposes in my closet.  Recently it was the perfect wedding guest outfit to some friends’ summer wedding, but it will work just as well for a honeymoon dinner and a night out on the town for a bachelorette party, both of which I plan on doing in it.  This dress reiterates the power of an LBD with an unexpected detail.

Fashion note: I’m wearing a Zara dress (similar here) and J Crew jewelry.

WEEKLY WRAP UP/WEEKEND COUNTDOWN

What got me through the week and what I’m looking forward to this weekend!

beach
Enjoying the end of summer with a picnic at the beach and some rose of course!

I’ve been delinquent about updating my weekly wrap up and weekend countdowns so I’m getting back on track this week.  In my defense, there’s been a lot going on, with my upcoming wedding getting closer and an almost week-long visit from my parents last week.  This weekend, although I’d like to say I’m laying low, I’ll be keeping busy with a taco fest, birthday party, experimenting in the kitchen and watching the Emmy’s.  Will you get curious and try something new this weekend?

  1. Fashion Week: It’s that time of year again, when the most glamorous faces of the fashion world come together in New York to sneak a peek at the latest visions of the design world.  What happens at the shows this week shapes the trends most of us we’ll be taking part in, whether willingly or not, in the upcoming year.  So far, it seems like we could be in store for some preppy with a side of 70s flair.  For front row updates with a dose of wit and humor, Eva Chen is one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram.
  2. Anthropologie cheese board: I’ve confessed my love for dairy and especially cheese many times before.  Despite trying to maintain an otherwise healthy diet, cheese is definitely a kryptonite of mine and I can’t deny a weekend cheese spread, especially now that my fiance and I were gifted this beautiful cheese board from Anthropologie.  It’s durable and unique and is a great piece to put out when entertaining.
  3. Emmy Awards: Although nothing compares to the glory of the Oscars, I’m a fan of all the traditional awards shows, but most occur in the winter.  The silver lining? The Emmy awards, which celebrate the best of TV and always occur in September.  The awards show goes down this Sunday and is hosted by Stephen Colbert so it’s sure to be entertaining.  Check out the complete list of nominees to see if your favorites are in the running.  I’m rooting for Westworld, Big, Little Lies and Stranger Things.
  4. Challah bread: Although I’m not Jewish, I do appreciate the cuisine of the Middle East and especially some traditional Jewish dishes.  When I lived in New York, I was invited on a few occasions to attend some friends’ holiday celebrations and discovered just how tasty these meals can be, especially for Rosh Hashanah which occurs next week.  In honor of the holiday, I’ve decided to try my hand at making challah bread.  I’ve been intimidated by the bread-making process for a while, but have finally decided to give it a try with this recipe.  I’ll check back in with the results…if they’re positive.  

 

Images two and three via here and here.

Date night in Venice- Part 2

Delicious recipes for the curious cook!

focaccia

For the latest installment of the “date night in Venice” series, I’m highlighting one of the favorite dishes made in our Venetian nights cooking class: focaccia with herbs and olives.  First, let me clarify that I don’t like baking with dough.  I don’t love baking in general as much as I love cooking because it requires such precision and attention to detail, which I’ve learned the hard way can’t be forgone.  But I really don’t love baking with dough for a number of other reasons.  Cooking with yeast has often freaked me out and intimidated me, I’m not that patient so I don’t like waiting for the dough to rise and I just have never been able to get it right.  

Boy did this class prove me wrong and I’m so glad it did because I truly loved this flavorful dish.  The yeast was not as intimidating as I thought and thanks to the wonderful chefs guiding the class, it was helpful to understand the science behind working with it (the key is to buy packs of yeast, keep it in your freezer or fridge and when using, wait for it to take on a scum-like appearance before proceeding).  Plus, once the yeast is added and the dough is made, there’s little left to the dish so it’s easy to prepare other parts of your meal while you wait for the dough to do it’s thing, which is what we did in class.  The simple but powerful flavor combo of herbs and olives was light and tasty and the perfect addition to any Italian meal.

If you’ve been curious about working with dough but are intimidated, I highly recommend you give this a try!

 

Focaccia with Olives and Herbs

Yield: 4-6 servings as an appetizer or side

Active time: 25 minutes

Start to finish: 1 hour, 30 minutes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Focaccia Dough (recipe follows)

1/2 cup assorted pitted Italian olives, halved

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh oregano, rough chopped

Maldon sea salt to taste

 

  1. Rub a quarter sheet tray, including the sides, generously with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  1. Punch down the focaccia dough gently to deflate. Transfer the dough to the sheet tray. Use your fingertips to stretch the dough until it is an even thickness of about 1/4 inch. (It may not stretch all the way to the edges of the pan.)
  1. Gently press the olives, rosemary and oregano into the dough. Cover it with plastic wrap, and allow to rise about 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Remove the plastic, and dimple the dough all over with your fingertips. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the focaccia, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until light golden brown, about 25 minutes.
  1. Allow to cool, and then cut into squares to serve.

 

Focaccia Dough

Yield: One quarter sheet tray

Active time: 15 minutes

Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups water, 110o to 120o

Pinch of granulated sugar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/3 cups bread flour

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  1. Sprinkle the yeast on top of water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar, and stir gently until dissolved.
  1. Allow to proof until slightly foamy and aromatic to ensure the yeast is alive, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add oil, half of each flour and salt. Mix on medium-low speed with a dough hook until incorporated, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  1. Add most of the remaining flour, and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 6 minutes. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in flour as needed. It’s better to have a dough that’s a bit too wet than dry.
  1. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, knead a few turns by hand, and then shape into a ball.
  1. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap on top of the bowl, not touching the dough.
  1. Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled, 60 to 75 minutes, or in the refrigerator overnight.

Recipe courtesy of The Chopping Block.

My favorite sports bras

Motivation to get you through hump day!

Sports bra

It might seem insignificant but a sports bra can greatly affect your workout.  If it doesn’t fit or support right, you can end up focusing more on the nuisance than your workout or worse, you can be tempted to stop your exercise short just to run home and take it off! I once owned a well-known athletic brand’s sports bra that fit so poorly it nearly cut off the circulation under my arms and it was all I could do to finish my workout.  From then on, I made sure I tried on sports bras before buying to ensure the fit was comfortable and supportive. The good news is I’ve discovered some great options along the way, including some very affordable ones! See below for some of my favorites.

  1. C9 Champion sports bra: this brand’s Target collection offers some stylish and affordable options, including some of my favorite sports bras.
  2. Free To Be Zen bra: this Lululemon bra runs small, but it offers great support.  The back straps also make for a stylish detail that looks great peeking out of any top.
  3. Athena Crop: I’ve written about my love of Outdoor Voices activewear before, so it’s no surprise they make the list again.  Technically, this is a crop top but it also doubles as a bra or can be worn in place of a sports bra, which is a win-win.  The cut is flattering, the technical fabric survives even the sweatiest of workouts and it comes in a variety of colors, making it a great option for so many workout outfits.

Feeling curious? Try one out for your next workout!

Image via.