I have REALLY high maintenance hair. Naturally wavy and curly hair is beautiful on many people. Me? Not so much. If I don’t blow-dry my hair or, heaven forbid, I sleep on it wet, my natural waves and curls take on a life from another planet. The same situation applies if I go to the beach. That first morning glance in the mirror reveals not soft ringlets and piece-y waves, instead I behold patches of frizz, curls gone wild, a rogue horn or two and some kind of bouffant-do gone way wrong. I just like to look at that girl in the mirror and say, and I do it very politely, I.DON’T.KNOW.YOU. But, alas, my good friend denial turns out not to be so helpful on the hair front because my days are crazy and if I’m lucky my nights may be too! Got to have good hair….what to do?
OUTSOURCE whenever you can. I don’t have the kind of hair that has to be washed every day, so I go to Kim for a blow out once a week. She has been doing my hair for over 20 years. We don’t have to discuss a thing. I just plop down, and she works her magic. Puts a little drag on the pocketbook, so I try to make it last as long as possible. If I put a value on my time, for me it is more cost effective to have several good hair days là Kim than spend gobs of time trying to wrangle this wild hair myself. Plus, who doesn’t feel good after a blow out?
Now I am a real human with tamed hair that can be seen outside the confines of my house. I love taking Kim’s blow out and making it my own by keeping it piece-y and messy, see below. Always fluffing and touching for maximum volume!
BUT since I don’t see a daily, personal hairdresser in my future any time soon (wouldn’t that be great!), I have found some great PRODUCTS that help me get that freshly blown out look as best I can. And believe me, I have tried everything. My go-to’s are pictured below, and I have an arsenal of them. I can wage war on this head of hair with these great lotions, potions, sprays and tools any day, or at least on a non-Kim day!
1. Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo – $26.00
This works wonders. If I want to stretch out the professional blow out a little longer, just give this a try. I think it is far superior to other dry shampoos.
2. Chi Large Round Brush – $18.74
3. Moroccanoil Volumizing Mousse – $28.00
4. Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo – $40.00
5. Chi Pro Hair Dryer – $159.96
I have found that a hair dryer is not a hair dryer is not a hair dryer. Invest in a good one. Well worth it!
6. Moroccanoil Extra Volume Condition – $43.00
7. Miracle Leave-in Product – $12.33
8. Moroccanoil Boar Brush – $26.00
9. Puff Me Volumizing Cloud Mist – $17.54
This is a texturizing powder that is small enough to put in your handbag. If your hair needs a little body at the end of a long day, you just shake a little of this on your roots where you want a little lift and run your fingers through. Works wonders.
10. CHI Enviro Natural Hold Hairspray – $6.93
Those of you who know me or who also are culinary challenged will get a little chuckle at my posting anything cooking related. But hey, remember AK Atelier is all about blurred lines, which means even I can cross over from the dark side of the kitchen to the light where all you talented chefs hangout. My family was out of town, so on a whim I decided that I would try to create a meal out of what was currently in my pantry and fridge. If it was bad, I wouldn’t have to feed it to anyone else, and my fragile little chef-ego would remain intact. Well, guess what? It actually turned out to be quite tasty.
I know, it’s a damn miracle.
Anyway, I am sharing my novice Italian-inspired recipe here in the event there are others out there looking for a little self esteem boost when they walk into what is definitely the most fear inspiring room in my house….the kitchen.
First I poured a glass of red wine….for me, not for the recipe. Needed a little liquid courage in this endeavor. Next I sliced the garlic cloves in very thin slices. Then I sliced the onion and chopped the tomatoes. I wiped off the basil with a damp paper towel and used scissors to cut it in pieces. I filled the pasta pot with water so it would be ready to go. Then I dumped some olive oil in my other pan and heated it on about medium, added the garlic and onion and stirred it around a little while sipping on my wine. When the onions were getting soft, I added the chopped tomatoes and stirred them around a little. It was starting to smell good, so I put the pasta on to boil. Sip sip, stir stir. I remembered the red pepper flakes which were probably supposed to go in earlier, so I added them and then the basil. Added a touch more of olive oil and played around with it a bit until the linguini was ready. Next I drained the linguini, tasted my sautéed concoction and was pretty pleased with myself. Sip, sip. I added a little salt and pepper and more red pepper flakes and decided I had better quit while I was ahead. Pulled out a plate and put the linguini on it, topped it with my vegetable mixture, added some shredded parmesan, and my masterpiece was complete. Lastly (and most importantly I might add) I topped off my wine, poured a glass of water and sat down to my meal. This last minute supper is now a keeper in my fledgling recipe box and should be in yours too!
Give this one a try, post your results and tag @anna.kemper.atelier! Or please comment below with any easy recipes you may have for the culinary challenged! XO…Anna
Truer words were never spoken about my feelings for New York. Yes, yes…soon, often, always and forever! I will never tire of visiting this iconic city, this American institution….this city that thankfully never sleeps. And there was not a lot of sleep to be had for Jenny and me on our recent jaunt to the Big Apple in honor of her 50th birthday. We were on the move!
I’m no Woody Allen….probably a good thing…but to me anyone’s New York stories are share worthy and need to be told. I always want a blow by blow account of my friends trips to the Big City…the hot new restaurants as well as the tucked away little eateries you just stumble upon that turn out to be hidden jewels. Regale me with your best shopping spots, which Broadway shows lived up to expectations and, of course, OF COURSE, all celebrity sightings. So nothing deep here, just a little travelogue of the spots we hit, the ones that have become traditions and therefore special for us, as well as the funky new finds and quirky moments. So if you too like New York stories, enjoy!
1st stop is always Locande Verde (@locandeverde) for a champagne lunch or boozy brunch. This fabulous restaurant never disappoints. It is in TriBecA, attached to the Greenwich Hotel, which was founded by actor Robert DeNiro. If you wander into the lobby and seating rooms of The Greenwich while waiting for your table you can view part of Mr. DeNiro’s collection of his father’s impressive artwork. When time to eat, opt for the garlic chicken; it’s melt in your mouth crazy good, and definitely start with the sheep’s milk ricotta and crostini. AMAZING!
Really we just walked around TriBecA and SoHo after our 4 hour lunch. Let’s just say we needed to take a little break. Then we wandered into Balthazar (@balthazarny) an old standby and favorite of many, when we got hungry again. I always have to get a French fix, and here you have an authentic French brasserie experience. Pomme frites are delish. This place is lively, loud, bustling and crowded in a good way. Love it!
The next morning we popped up….well we didn’t really pop up. We slowly arose and treated ourselves to coffee, diet cokes and a lot of ibuprofen. Then we started popping…sort of 🙂 We hailed a cab and headed north for a little midtown shopping at the 2 B’s…Barneys and Bergdorfs. The traffic was horrendous and the cab ride supremely jerky. I realized about half way there that this cab ride, my champagne headache and questionable tummy status were really starting not to get along. So I yelled. Really loud. More like shrieked. “Stop! OMG! Let me out! We will walk!” We bolted out of the cab before things got ugly and luckily landed smack dab in front of a NY pizza walk-in. Jenny was so quick to the rescue that is was almost spooky. Before I knew it, I had a NY slice in hand with a cold ginger ale. Well, that did the trick along with a bit of fresh air from walking the rest of the way. I was all patched up, good as new, ready to conquer the stores.
We had a full day of very successful shopping and as usual, started getting punchy and giggly as we are known to do when together, as in aren’t we funny in this fitting room pic wearing twin dresses standing in ballerina 1st position. Only we think we are way funnier than others do, but really we don’t care. We thoroughly amuse ourselves, and that’s enough for us. Speaking of twin dresses, thank goodness we do not live in the same city, because we would see ourselves at the grocery store and at parties constantly. We buy a lot of the same things!
Dinner that night was pizza and a movie in our hotel room, as we had overdone it a tad the day before. Snoozy snooze, sun comes up andthis time we really did pop right up, dressed, grabbed an Uber and headed to the West Village for what is quite possibly the best breakfast to be had anytime, anywhere. Buvette (@buvettenyc) has become another sisterly tradition, and I never miss it when in NY for work or play. Never, ever. Snag a seat at the bar, I prefer it over a table, and watch in awe as they turn out the most amazing French breakfast from the tee-tiniest space you can imagine. Everything is utterly delicious, but make sure you start with the cranberry toast with melted butter and bee pollen. It is a little slice of heaven served up up on a plate. Not to be missed!
Buvette is just off of Bleeker Street in the West Village, where you will find great boutique shopping. A few favorites we hit were Sandro, Maje, Cynthia Rowley, and BA|SH. We both got the black sandals, Jenny got the black faux fur bag, I got the ivory one, and I was oh so happy to find this vintage inspired white lace @cynthiarowley dress for a throw back, retro-style party I have coming up. Felt very Jackie 0-ish even though I could barely zip it up. Better double up on the workouts this week!
We shopped all day in the West Village and Soho and then headed back to our hotel, quickly changed and freshened up in our room and decided for dinner we would try Little Park (@littleparknyc), the restaurant in our hotel, as we both had heard great things. The food was yummy, the atmosphere subtly chic, and it is a happy new addition to my New York restaurant list. Of course we made a little detour on the way for a pre-dinner cocktail at the sleek, mod bar at The Smyth Hotel where we were staying. They make a mean dirty martini if you are a fan. Highly recommend!
Soooo, it was our last night and never ones to go down quietly, after dinner we decided to take our middle age selves to a local bar around the corner and continue our fun. As you can see we were kind of in a “strike a pose” mood. The bar was crowded and fun and all about country music which was a fitting final destination for the Amacher girls, as we are Nashville natives. We had a couple of cold beers, felt a need to demonstrate that Budweiser and Gucci loafers can indeed coexist, and then called it a night.
Why does it always go by so fast? It just does, doesn’t it? Here we are headed to the airport in our perma-tails, wrinkled clothing, feeling happily exhausted. Sister time is incredibly special to Jenny and me, and we always make time for travel to visit each other. But our summer New York trip is always one for the books. Or one for the blog in this case! Please share your favorite haunts and New York moments below. Remember, all New York stories need to be told.
Interested in any of the pieces shown above? Shop some of these pieces and similar looks below!
Macarons. I don’t like them. I want to like them. I have tried to like them. I have tried to like them so much that I am blogging about them but I.. just..don’t. On occasion, when presented with the opportunity, I will take a nibble. Hoping that somehow a fledgling taste bud will have popped up somewhere in my mouth, finally gratifying my need to like this flaky, chewy treat. Call me crazy, but somehow I feel I would be a cooler person if only I liked macarons. So far, no such luck.
Yet I am forever inspired by this ….cookie. Really, a cookie? Actually, it is a wee bit of an obsession. Whenever I travel and pass a bakery, I just have to peer in the window for a quick visual fix. Perhaps it can be chalked up to my love of all things French? Really, I just adore their rich saturated colors, the neat little rows, cookies all snuggled up together. I mean, who doesn’t like looking at a box of macarons? They are always packaged so beautifully, as if they are just waiting for all the beautiful people to come buy them and whisk them away. If I were a macaron, I would be stuck up….because I could be.
So, I will wait patiently for my palette to step it up and delight in this little piece of culinary perfection. In the meantime, I will pay homage to the mighty and mystical macaron the only way I know how…. by championing its beauty, its history, and the culinary creativity inherent in its making.
A modern twist on those after shower essentials…
What every woman should have on their bathroom hook as they step out of the shower is a …. no, not a fluffy towel and your favorite robe. Let’s mix it up a bit with a Turkish towel and a lightweight cotton sarong. But before you worry that you just can’t part with that teddy bear of a towel and and your morning uniform, let me tell you why this is my go to!
Here’s the secret : Turkish towels are amazingly absorbent.
Granted they may take a little getting used to because they aren’t as fluffy as their traditional counterparts, but if you make the switch you may never go back. The Turkish towel just soaks up the water off your body like a greedy little sponge, while the traditional towel sometimes rubs the water around while you’re trying to soak up and dry your little tush. And of course, I just can’t resist their chic and exotic details. The sassy fringe and subtle color and stripe combinations makes them the show off of towels. I have to admit, on occasion I like a show off… much easier to get away with if you are a towel.
The cotton sarong or pareo is now my go-to instead of even the lightest weight robe. Who hates sweating while they are getting ready for work or going out? Me too. And for those of you who have at some point made the acquaintance of a hot flash, you now can fight back with just a cute little swath of cotton. Just tie on the sarong strapless dress style or crisscross and tie behind the neck and you’ve scored a three for one deal…good coverage, sweat free primping and yes, you guessed it, style points! And wait, there’s more. These little beauties pull double duty as your beach cover up and can be styled so many different ways. Seriously, I have a vast collection of these and they last for years! Ok, this is beginning to sound a bit like an infomercial so let me just leave you with a few sourcing tips and fun style pics and then I can move on to ginsu knives and bamboo steamers. Ba ha ha. 🙂 (google it if you are too young to get that one).
Graham Kandiah – (pronounced can-dee-uh) I love that name…. She has moved on to other things but you can still find her pieces on Ebay or Poshmark….Snatch them up and I promise you will not be disappointed!
Another great online source for Indian cotton pareos and sarongs is West Indies Wear. Shop here: https://www.shopwestindieswear.com/collections/beach-sarongs?page=2
MACK Home – Our website is currently being updated but we constantly carry these popular towels. Feel free to give us a call, we are happy to ship! 803-790-9911, mackhomecolumbia.com
A little stream of consciousness event was my inspiration for Desert Chic. I recently saw an Instagram post of a bunch of oranges, oranges showing off an array of luscious, citrusy color, which got me thinking about one of my recent “I Forgot to be Her” Instagram posts. This particular post featured a woman in a fabulous orange frock walking by a fabulous Palm Springs white mid-century house, which in turn made me design this Palm Springs room in my head, which then made me start creating Palm Springs-inspired outfits in my head. My head gets kind of crowded sometimes, and I think in run-on sentences. Put pen to paper. Make more room in head.
This is where the lines start to get blurry which you know are my favorite kind of lines! The bright and bleached desert hues and the rich textural array serve as the perfect muse for interiors and fashion, architecture and art. Don’t have a house in Palm Springs? Not headed there any time soon? Me neither. But I love, love this look for a beach house, in a sun room or a covered outdoor living area. On the fashion front, your wardrobe combinations and possibilities are endless. You will never go wrong looking to the natural world for creative inspiration. So mentally transport yourself to the Palm Springs desert and channel your inner sponge. Soak in all of that sun and sand, bright color and tactile inspiration. Going Desert Chic is easy. Just start with:
Remember to use a strong and varied mix of textures with your Palm Springs Palette, and you have the tools to create your own little desert-inspired oasis right in your own home! Here we have velvet and linen, hide, bleached wood and bone, sisal and brass. Choose something you are naturally drawn to as your leading inspiration and build from there. In this example, I loved starting with my favorite Lee Industries curved sectional sofa. Beginning with a neutral foundation for the main upholstered pieces is my favorite jumping off point in designing a new space.
Same process applies here. Experiment with the full tonal range of the colors in your Palm Springs Color Palette and a varied textural balance for your wardrobe pieces. Use the chalky whites and sand tones as your foundation and then add in just one color for a minimalist look or multiple hues and textures for a more bohemian or bright vibe. Multiple outfit combinations will emerge.
See pics below for a desert chic inspired look straight out of the closet. These pieces are simple and will take me from day to night which is huge for me. I often don’t have time to change between the work day and client meetings to a work dinner, dinner with hubby or a girls night out. A white tee and jeans is the foundation, and I added in a ton of sand colored beads, a bright orange jacket and fun colorful platform sandals. For evening, I can change the tee to a silky cami and be ready to hit the town!
See style shots below for a little inspiration and start experimenting with this fun and funky color palette. You will be well on your way to desert princess before you know it!