We are Jenna & Mark, a designer and a pastry chef living in Brooklyn and parents of two little girls. We are also owners of Whimsy & Spice, a Brooklyn confectionery. Sweet Fine Day is a visual journal of 2 self employed entrepreneurs juggling family life in NYC.
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Have you ever used a ceramic knife? I think my friend Nichole was the first to tell me about the ceramic knife when I spotted it at her house. Mark and I later saw a Kyocera knife for sale at one of the stores at Chelsea Market and we decided to give it a try. They’re lightweight and super sharp, but the claim that it actually prevents cut fruit from getting brown (which supposedly happens when metal interacts with acidic juices) was the thing that sold me. I pack the girls apple slices nearly every day for lunch, and in the past those containers of cut fruit would sometimes come back untouched at the end of the day because the apples looked “too brown”. Now, I will say that it doesn’t prevent all browning as it claims, but it does a good enough job that I definitely do see a difference and the apples get eaten every day. Besides, that white blade! It really is a fun knife to use.
I think you all know by now that the girls wear Salt Water sandals almost exclusively as their summer sandals, but have I told you why? (Miss C got these gold pair this year). Aside from the reasonable price (yes, there was a time when I got sucked into all the adorable, yet pricey kid sandals when the girls were toddlers), they are durable and have even lasted us 2 summers depending on how much their feet would grow during the winter. Those more expensive, adorable brands? They would be trashed by the end of summer sandal wearing season, absolutely trashed. One of the reasons why the Salt Waters survive is because you can get them wet and they won’t get ruined in water. If you live in NYC, you know what a big deal this is. With sprinklers open at every playground in the city, and with a playground every 7-10 blocks (at least in our neighborhood), it’s hard to avoid the sprinkler in the summer, especially when all your kid wants to do is get wet. Before I started buying Salt Waters, I’d have this conversation with the girls almost daily:
Me: “Wait! You’re wearing your sandals and we don’t have your crocs or flip flops. You can’t go in the water with those sandals”.
Girls (as they run towards the water): “But…SPRINKLER!!”
Me: “Did ya even hear what I said?? You can’t get those shoes wet. They’ll get ruined.”
Girls: “Can we go barefoot then?”
Me: “Do you see where we live? This is the city! With rats and glass and god knows what else.”
Girls (as they run into the water anyway): “But…SPRINKLER!!!”
But now when we enter a playground with the water on, it’s like…sure, get wet, whatever. By the way, there are 2 types of Salt Water sandals – the ones that have stitching on the foot bed and the ones that don’t. The smooth, slightly higher foot beds without stitching seem more durable and hold up best in water.
And finally, this dress. Yeah, it totally looks bleh and boring on the website and I would have never even looked at it twice past these photos because I don’t particularly like the way it hangs on the model, but the dress is actually pretty nice in person. I bought it as a late birthday present to myself (and I’m all about dresses with pockets these days).
I’m not sure what possessed me to buy hot pink pants, but I did. Maybe it’s because they ended up being $20, marked down on sale and forever discounted with one of the Gap’s never ending sale codes, but it hasn’t just sat in my closet either; I’ve worn them quite a few times since they’ve arrived in the mail. See? Despite assumptions that I only wear black or gray, I do wear color (sometimes). Another color that I seem to always gravitate towards is bright green which is odd because from 5th to 8th grade my Catholic School uniform was bright green and yellow and I vowed never to wear green again. It was the ugliest color combination I could think of, especially in polyester, and I had to wear it every single day. But that was 30 years ago and green has since worked its way into my closet (but never worn with yellow. I still think it’s a hideous color combo).
Can I give you a tip on some kid shoes? These sparkly mary janes are the best. These are our second pair from this brand called Cienta and they come in lots of colors and a few different styles. I bought some non sparkly mary janes for C last year and they could have lasted another season, but it seems like her feet grew like crazy in the last 8 months. Mia got a pair of these slip on Converse for Spring this year. Chuck Taylors didn’t work on her when she was younger as they always seemed to slip off her feet at the heel so I almost wrote them off, sadly, but I’m so glad I decided to give them another try, especially in these no-laces style. I think every kid should own a pair of Chucks at some point.
Has anyone done any good shopping lately? I swear, I’m not finding much I like at stores and I’ve gone out a few times looking around…AND I’ve been in a shopping mood with some money to spend, I tell ya! I didn’t even find anything to buy when I went shopping on my birthday. Oh well. I guess I’ll just do something boring and responsible like pre-pay some of my mortgage [insert eyeroll here. Just kidding. Maybe].
And something a little bit different with this month’s obsessions…music!
I’m that person who can listen to the same song over and over and these 2 songs have been in my rotation non stop for the last month. They both happen to be Brooklyn-based bands/musicians and these albums were released last year. Hey, I can sometimes get out of that 80s/90s music rut if I try.
I had a sudden urge to go shopping over the weekend which is something that doesn’t really happen often. It’s not that I don’t like to shop – I actually do, but who has the time anymore? I certainly don’t shop socially as much – you know with a friend, bopping around from store to store and stopping for lunch or coffee. Those were the days. Now, shopping is less leisurely and more utilitarian; less browsing and more focused on specific things we need. I covered a lot of ground though in about 2 hours when we all went into Manhattan on Saturday, and I bought something for everyone while Mark took the girls to the bookstore and the playground (btw, is the Gap forever on permanent sale now? They are ALWAYS having a sale, as is J Crew).
Speaking of the Gap, I bought these jeans. I think I am over the whole expensive-designer-$175 a pair-jeans thing. Remember when denim was reasonably priced? And then somewhere in the last 15 or so years all these brands started coming out and charging $150+ per jeans and that was the new normal. For years I wore a lot of AGs, Sevens, Citizens and J Brands, but I have to say, I don’t see a real big difference in fit or quality than the jeans that I have bought from the Gap, Urban Outfitters or Zara. Maybe those less expensive brands just got better in the last few years. I never thought Gap jeans fit me because it felt like I was in between sizes, but I realized that they stretch with wear and if I size down, they actually fit me really well (actually, most jeans stretch out and AGs are the worst culprit in my opinion). I’ve worn those Gap jeans everyday since I’ve bought them on Saturday and they were less than $50 on sale. I may never spend more on jeans again.
While I haven’t been shopping at all this year before the weekend, I have poked around on the web at some of the Spring clothes that are coming out, but I haven’t found anything that appealing. Everything is sort of meh. But sometimes clothes are hard to judge from photos and I never would have picked out this shirt, pictured above, for the girls at Zara from their website, but it’s really cute in person. As is this dress. I usually have a threshold of not spending more than $30ish for any piece of clothing for the girls (the constant sales make this possible!) except shoes and coats, but I splurged on that striped dress. The girls are at a size now where they can actually share dresses and tops because Claudine is so tall (almost off the charts!) and Mia is so skinny. They can both wear this dress and I know I’ll get at least 3 years from it (oh, we can justify most any purchase, can’t we?)
And as far as summer sandals (of which I have a particular weakness) I bought these Madewell sandals for everyday wear to replace ones I finally wore out last year. They’re having a sale right now and I must have snagged one of the last ones in my size because now they are backordered. I’ve been consistently impressed by the quality of Madewell shoes so it seemed too good to pass up on sale with free shipping, plus the sale price puts it at the threshold for no sales tax. Now if only this weather would listen to what month it was and start cooperating. Can’t even imagine sandal weather yet with this cold. Happy first day of Spring?
I recently bought this purple shamrock plant, an oxalis, to put in the living room. I hope it does ok (the succulents, by the way, are still doing fine!). I read that oxalis have resting periods where they will drop all their leaves and appear “dead”, but they are actually “resting” and will produce more sprouts after a few months. Good to know.
I mentioned that January is the one time of year when I’m motivated to spruce up our apartment and we finally got our light fixtures for the living room. I bought this Restoration Hardware task lamp when it was $100 off during their lighting sale a few weeks ago. It replaces a lamp with a large 20″ drum shade that didn’t fit our living room anymore once we squeezed the piano in along the same wall. It’s a relief to have the big lamp gone and a smaller one in it’s place, which is at a much better scale for the space. We sold the old lamp too and found a new home for it which makes me happy.
As for the living room ceiling, I bought this simple 3 globe satellite fixture from School House Electric. We haven’t installed it yet, but I’m really excited to finally change the light fixture the apartment came with. I’ve been wanting to do that for 8 years. These 2 small changes really make a huge difference in the living room, much like when we switched out the curtains last year.
Onto more frivolous things, I love these Marc Jacobs demi wedge sandals (I know…MJ again) in rose gold (the yellow is pretty too). It’s nowhere near sandal weather, but I’m already looking forward to warmer temperatures and wearing sandals again. Maybe that’s just the doldrums of winter talking.
In the meantime, I have been wearing this sweatshirt-style pullover from OAK a lot. It was a Black Friday purchase at half off and probably the best thing I bought for the winter because it’s really cozy and warm.
Remember this Uzi feathers kimono top that I was coveting last month? (I knew it would sell out!). I did find it under the Christmas tree thanks to Mark, but sadly it did not fit. Hmmm…one size fits all…really does not fit all. Too bad. The print is gorgeous, but back it went.
One purchase that did end up well are the Hudson Horrigan boots that I’ve written about a few times. I snatched them up when Madewell was having a sitewide 30% off sale and they are the best! Piperlime is having a sale on these boots (slightly different colors than the all black boots I bought, but at the same sale price). I love that it has a little heel and they are so comfortable. It looks great with dresses too. I have been so into ankle boots lately that I haven’t worn any knee boots at all in the last 2 years. Anyone else make the switch?
For the girls, I have these Vans suede sneakers bookmarked in red. What a vibrant color combo. For years I thought their feet grew so slow because we were able to get 2 years of wear out of most shoes, but Mia must be catching up because she has been outgrowing her sneakers really fast, so I’ve been on a sneaker hunt.
If you’re interested in a winter coat recommendation for the kids, I recommend this J Crew long puffer, which is on 30% sale right now. Ok, so the colors in stock are a little bright, but these coats, which are available every year, are one of the best coats I’ve found for the girls, especially when they’re marked down. I bought Mia’s charcoal gray coat in the same style a few years ago on one of these year end 30% off sales and she is finally wearing it this year. We’ll get another year out of it and if it holds up (and it looks like it will), we’ll pass it down to C. The great thing about having 2 girls is that we’ve been able to pass down clothes and get as much as 5 years worth of wear out of most items.
Looks like the NE is headed for a cold spell this week. Hope you stay warm. My friends totally laughed when I told them about these faux fur lined knit leggings I was wearing the last time the temps hit the 20s. It sounds hideous and bulky, I know, but they’re not (they’re exactly like these, but lined with fuax fur, not fleece). You can only wear them if it’s really cold outside because they are almost too warm, but man, are they nice when it’s freezing outside. I think they are a Korean or Asian thing because my mom got them for me at a Korean department store in Queens. While most of my friends cracked jokes about my faux fur lined leggings, my friend Sally, who moved to Korea a year ago knew exactly what I was talking about!
Adorable, yes? I bought a woodland creature from this Union Square Holiday Market vendor, Hazel Village, for my little niece. It wasn’t just the handmade dolls that were adorable, it was also the tiny clothes and accessories hanging on tiny little hangers that made the Hazel Village booth an enchanting space. Go visit if you can while the market’s still open.
I haven’t quite finished my holiday shopping yet, but almost. So close. And like every holiday season, you just can’t help but be tempted by purchasing a thing or two (or three) for yourself. I just call it holiday stress retail therapy, the one time of year where I ignore any concerns about household budgets.
I’m obsessed with this shirt from Uzi (I know! This store. AGAIN!). It’s already sold out which I knew it would it would be even though it’s a new item, but I dropped some heavy hints (ok, I emailed Mark a direct link) so maybe it will appear under the tree for me someday. Maybe. Hopefully.
I’m still in dress shopping mode and I really like these two dresses (here and here) from Marc Jacobs. I think I mentioned that I haven’t bought anything from that line in about 10 years, but I’m really liking the stuff that he put out this year. The dresses are both very simple and black (navy?), but contrary to most of my picks lately, I do wear color, I promise! It does remind me of high school though when my friend’s mother would always ask why I wore black all the time and how depressing that was. Well what else is a teenage goth going to wear? Duh.
While looking online for some clothes for Mark (I pretty much always buy him clothes for Christmas), I did sneak this dress from Zara into my shopping cart (not all black!). I haven’t worn it yet, but it fits perfectly. Another item that fits perfectly? These black jeans, also from Zara, that I picked up at the store last month. They have a slight sheen and they’re really comfortable.
Two other things that I’m wearing a lot these days are this duffle coat from Top Shop in Navy (seems like they don’t have navy anymore). I wouldn’t have purchased it if I just saw it online as I never even wanted a duffle coat, but I liked it so much at the store that I felt compelled to buy it over the summer when it was 85 degrees out. And I’m glad, because I’ve worn it everyday so far this winter. Another item I would have never bought if I was just browsing online are these flat black Frye boots. They look really meh online, but these were the first pair that I picked up when boot shopping with my friend Anna in September at the Soho Frye store. I was looking for a basic low heeled black boot for everyday wear like these, but not $600 (although those really are the most perfect flat ankle boots I’ve ever seen). I didn’t buy the boots back then, but I did purchase it when I found it on sale a few months ago. And ok, I must confess, I may have a black boot problem this year because remember these Hudson Horrigan boots I wrote about a few months ago? They are 30% off at Madewell (along with everything else in the store). No more boots for me!!
I attended this event last month which had me scrambling at the last minute with a wardrobe “crises” when I realized that it might be a dressier affair than what I had first thought. My friend Nichole and I traded emails throughout the day, throwing out outfit possibilities and changing our minds multiple times, down to the last few hours before the event. It was like being back in high school.
I know everyone goes through this experience where you think you “have nothing to wear”, but I quickly realized during that moment of panic that I’m so not prepared to attend anything that requires me to dress up in formal clothing. I can manage business casual if I have to and I can certainly come up with an outfit for a nice dinner, but my lifestyle of freelancing at home and conducting most client meetings via conference calls just doesn’t support the need to have dressy clothes. What made it even worse was that the few items I had that I always thought were my go-to dressy outfits neither fit well anymore or were very badly outdated. This includes a beautiful silk Mayle dress that I bought at a Barneys Warehouse Sale 12 years ago that just doesn’t really fit me all that well anymore (oh yeah, they never really tell you that you can get broader in the shoulders permanently it seems after pregnancies, do they?). I also had saved these fancy expensive strappy high heel sandals that I bought for a project launch party we held one year at MoMA 12 years ago, but they too were completely outdated (we’re talking severe square toe beds from the late 1990s). So off to the Goodwill pile they went.
So now what? I managed to come up with an outfit for that evening, but just shook my head at the ridiculousness of someone my age not having anything remotely appropriate in her closet for anything dressy. I’ve set a goal to stock my closet with at least 1 dressy appropriate outfit for cold and summer seasons whenever I have the extra budget to do so, which means online window shopping!
So on that day of outfit panic, I used a coupon code to buy these short Madewell high heel booties. They’re not super dressy, really, but they can certainly be dressed up more than my high heel clog Swedish Hasbeens, that’s for sure. I’ve been wearing them a lot since I’ve gotten them and I love them. They are perfect with jeans and dresses.
Bur for more fancier shoes, I am sort of at a loss because I am not a stiletto or pump wearing kind of person, but I do enjoy thinking about these Michael Kors strappy sandals, but have to admit that I would probably be a lot more comfortable wearing something like these high heeled mary janes from Frye (in black). I do have vintage navy Ferragamo t-strap heels, so I think my search will be more focused on dressy sandals.
So…dresses! Why is finding a dress so hard? I really LOVE this Maje dress, but why so short? I don’t necessarily have a problem doing short, but I really wish this dress was at least a few inches longer because then I think it’d be perfect. Too bad!
Now if I were a person of a certain budget I would wear pretty much anything from Ann Demeulemeester. Even though these black dresses here and here are styled down (and it’s styled perfectly in my opinion, I might add), I think they would work as cocktail dresses with the right shoes and accessories. But I’m not. So…moving on…
On the other end of the spectrum from these black dresses is this flapper inspired beaded dress. I can’t help it. I like shiny and beaded things. I think the model is standing a little weird and therefore making the front of the dress a little awkward looking, but the back is beautiful. I can’t really tell whether I love this particular dress or not, but I’ve learned from window dress shopping that I gravitate towards simple black dresses or beaded neutral flapper craziness. Ok!
Now, you can’t be all fancy and lug around your everyday canvas tote bag or even your casual leather shoulder bag. You just can’t. Luckily I do have a few options for dressy handbags which I inherited from my mom from her fancy bag carrying days in the 60s, but I am mesmerized by this woven metallic clutch from BCBG. I can’t stop staring at it and I want to play Q-bert on it. For something less flashy, I love this simple Calvin Klein evening clutch. That rose gold color is really pretty, plus it’s shiny! I told you, I like the shiny!
So I haven’t actually bought anything yet other than those boots so I’m not any more prepared for a dressy occasion than I was last month, but I’m still looking. It might also require actually shopping in person in actual stores, something that I usually don’t have much time for or really enjoy all that much anymore. We’ll see…I will keep you posted.