Travel Finds: M2 Boutique

There are some cities that just get under your skin. While I certainly love NYC, I also absolutely adore Chicago. My best friend from college relocated to the city nearly a decade ago and I’ve been a frequent visitor ever since. I love the distinct neighborhoods, the laid back vibe and the boutique shopping. Lucky for me, my girl Alyssa is a fabulous personal stylist and knows every great store in the city.  

Today Alyssa introduced me to a new favorite – M2 Boutique in Lakeview. I’m in the Windy City for a work conference and was looking for a funky necklace to jazz up my oh-so-professional – but sort of boring – black wrap dress. This morning I stole a necklace from Lyssa’s collection, this evening she took me to find one (or, erm, three) of my own.  

M2 is my kind of store.  It’s bright, playful and has an excellent selection of fun, on-trend accessories. Best of all everything is reasonably priced. I walked out of there with three funky necklaces for under $90. Take that JCrew. (I’m sorry JC – you know I love you – but really, $90 for a costume-jewelry necklace?  At the outlet? No thanks.) Thanks to Alyssa’s stylings and M2’s selection my work wardrobe just got a little funkier. Gotta love that.


Image Credit – M2 Boutique (Facebook)




Explore NYC: Governors Island

Amongst all its towering buildings and bustling sidewalks NYC is also home to a huge array of parks and public green spaces.  Being from the Midwest where just about everyone has their own private outdoor space I didn’t spend a ton of time in parks when I was growing up.  Sure we had the occasional picnic and my Mom and I took a lot of long walks in the woods, but I rarely spent a full afternoon in a park.  Living in the concrete jungle sure has changed that – one of my favorite things to do on a summer afternoon in NYC is to round up some friends, pack some snacks and head to a park for several solid hours of relaxing.

This weekend Andrew and I finally checked another box off our Summer Bucket List – our first-ever visit to Governors Island.  Located less than a 10 minute ferry ride from either lower Manhattan or Brooklyn the island is a little slice of heaven.  During the colonial days Governors Island was reserved exclusively for the use of New York’s Royal Governors, more recently it served as a Coast Guard Base before being turned into a dedicated park space.  The island currently hosts bike trails, picnic spaces, art installations and multiple historical forts – a little something for everything.

Gov Island

Image Credit:  Governors Island Blog

On Sunday, Andrew, our friend Bryan and I headed to the island to attend a Jazz Age Lawn Festival.  The event featured music from the roaring 20s and a lawn full of New Yorkers dolled up in spiffy 20s gear.  We settled ourself on a not-very-1920s lined picnic blanket for several hours and enjoyed the show.  I’m not sure what was more entertaining, the music or the people-watching, but add a beautiful day, a yummy homemade lunch that we carted along and a few heated card games and we ended up with an incredible afternoon.  The Festival will be returning in August and I highly recommend attending.  Even if you can’t make it that weekend the island is definitely worth an afternoon.

The Best Coffee Table Book, Ever, In the History of the World

Last week, I found myself burdened with an Amazon gift card.  After much deliberation, I bought this book, A Map of the World.  And, no exaggeration, that was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Well, maybe not.  But, if you, like me, love maps and clever illustrations, then buying this book is a very, very good decision.  The cover alone is bright and beautiful and will bring a certain clever classiness to your coffee table.  I promise.  And then, the innards offer 200+ pages of gorgeous maps.  The mind, it boggles.

So pretty.

This charming map is a little taste of the wonders inside.

Explore NYC: City Walks

Apparently in some areas of the country summer has forgotten to arrive – I’m looking at you Minnesota! Not so here in NYC. We’ve had some incredible weather and absolutely lovely weekends. Once the weather warms up I am like a kid who just got out of school, I want to be outside as much as possible. I love to pack the summer weekends with fun excursions – beach trips, picnics, festivals and tons of extremely long walks.

One of the things I love most about NYC is how incredibly walkable it is. Despite being home to more than 1.5 million people, Manhattan is only 13 miles long and  about 2 1/2 miles wide at its longest point.  Even Brooklyn, our home and favorite borough, is much smaller than you would expect. I know from experience that you can make it from the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island on foot in just a few hours.

A few years ago my Mom, one of my best friends and I decided to participate in a 3 Day, 60 mile walk for breast cancer. 60 miles in a long weekend is quite the feat and it requires a fair amount of training. Because neither of my teammates lived in NYC, I needed people to walk with. I stumbled across a group of people training for 3 Day events and began to walk with them on the weekends. Despite having lived in NYC for 6 years I felt like the city opened up to me. I figured out that nothing was really that far apart. If I was willing to strap on some tennis shoes and stay hydrated I could explore a ton on foot. One of my favorite training walks started at Penn Station and continued down the West side of Manhattan, across the Brooklyn Bridge and all the way to Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand on Coney Island. It was a whopping 21 miles and over the course of the day I got to see all sorts of New York neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.

I’m no longer training for the 3 Day, but that summer changed me. I love to get out and explore NYC on foot. This last weekend Andy and I met up with our old 3 Day crew for a “short” training walk. This time we only walked from Penn Station across the Brooklyn Bridge, ending with pizza in Brooklyn Heights – a total of about 10 miles.

Along the way we explored the Highline, Manhattan’s elevated park located in Chelsea:


Caught a glimpse of Lady Liberty (she’s little but she’s there!):


And struggled through the crowds of tourists on Brooklyn Bridge – no matter how many times I walk across this bridge I never cease to be amazed.


If you’re visiting NYC for a few days, just moved to the City or even if you’ve lived here for years I encourage you to take a half day and see how far you can walk – if you get tired out you can always grab a cab or jump on the subway, it’s like magic! Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes (As I’ve said before, I can’t recommend my Newtons highly enough!) sunscreen and a bottle of water. With those safety measures covered you should be all set for an amazing adventure.


Well-Heeled Wednesday: Duo

First things first, I love Duo boots.  I discovered them when I was living in London and they’re pretty great.  This fall, when I’m in a boot buying mood, I’ll almost certainly gush about them in another WHW post.

This week, however, I want to highlight the classic appeal of their other shoes.  Like the boots, all of Duo’s shoes are handcrafted Italian leather.

Here’s one of my favorite pairs of heels:


And, another:


And, in honor of my undying love for wedges:


Duo’s not exactly cheap, but, in my experience, they’re worth it.  You can also check out the Outlet portion of the website for some pretty good deals.  Including, right now, these awesome booties that I bought a couple years ago.


Healthy Eats – Southwestern Pinto Bean Burgers

I’m not a vegetarian and neither is my husband but I try to incorporate a decent amount of vegetarian evenings into our weekly routine. Doing so ensures that we aren’t eating too much red meat, gives us a ton of variety in our diet, and is generally super easy on our wallets. These Southwestern Pinto Burgers from Cooking Light are one of our favorite meat-free recipes. They are delicious and fairly simple to prepare – perfect for a weeknight dinner. I generally make the full recipe which yields 4 patties – we have two for dinner and both Andy and I eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. The burgers are fantastic on a bun, over some greens, or wrapped up in a tortilla.


Original Image From Cooking Light

Southwestern Pinto Bean Burgers


  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 (8 3/4-ounce) can no salt-added whole-kernel corn, drained or 1 cup of frozen corn (that for a few minutes)

Top Burgers with either Chipotle Mayo or Green Chile Mayo – Chipotle is a little spicier but the green chile is also delicious.

Chipotle Mayo

  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon canned minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce

Green Chile Mayo

  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 T canned chopped green chiles

To prepare burgers, combine the first 10 ingredients in a large bowl. Add pinto beans and corn; partially mash with a fork or potato masher. Divide bean mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 3 1/2-inch patty, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

To prepare  mayonnaise, combine mayonnaise and peppers in a small bowl (or directly in the gladware that you intend to store it in); set aside.

Heat 1T canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until thoroughly heated. Place patties on bottom halves of buns; top each patty with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 lettuce leaf, and top half of bun.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving (based on Chipotle Mayo and Hamburger Buns)

  • WW Points – 10 PP with Hamburger Buns, 8 PP with Sandwich Thin
  • Calories: 411
  • Calories from fat: 23%
  • Fat: 10.7g
  • Saturated fat: 1.9g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 3.2g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 3.2g
  • Protein: 15.2g
  • Carbohydrate: 63.1g
  • Fiber: 9.1g
  • Cholesterol: 57mg
  • Iron: 3.9mg
  • Sodium: 837mg
  • Calcium: 153mg

Travel Finds: Queen City Bakery

As a native South Dakotan, it’s a little weird for me to highlight something there as a travel find.  This is especially true in Sioux Falls, since I lived there for four years as a college student.  That said, I’ve visited Queen City Bakery on each of my last few trips home and it definitely deserves a mention.

Like me, the owners spent a few years in Brooklyn and, as a result, the bakery has a subtle New York vibe.  The coffee is from Gimme! Coffee in Ithaca, the hot chocolate is from Jacques Torres in Brooklyn and the tea is from SerendipiTea on Long Island.  Also, and perhaps more important for my recommendation, every baked good that I’ve tried there has been fantastic.

In additional to the bakery’s excellent offerings, it’s also located in my favorite part of town: near downtown, by the river (hello, memories of my 21st birthday).  And, it’s housed in a charmingly renovated industrial building. Good food, good coffee, lots of character; stop by the next time you’re passing through town.


Well-Heeled Wednesday – Sunny Days, Sunny Shoes

It is finally summer in NYC!  In celebration I am wearing ridiculous bright sandals.  What’s better on a sunny day than sunny shoes?  I’m currently coveting these DV by Dolce Vita sandals on sale at My Habit.  In addition to being adorable, DV’s shoes are reasonably priced and comfy!

DV Sandals

Bright sandals are great paired with a neutral outfit.  If you want to kick up the fun-factor even further, try pairing them with a colorful dress.  I love to wear my bright yellow sandals with a bright blue maxi.  Summer perfection!