Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cat Chat :: Jessica Diaz - Boston Barre

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I don’t know about you, but longer days combined with a balmy Boston breeze have always motivated me to slim down and shape up into a beach-worthy sculpture. But before summer, there’s spring and as we segue into a new season today, I’m delighted to feature a fabulous woman who’s devoted to fitness and thrives on the successes that have flourished from her personal fortitude.

Engage your core. Pull your belly into your spine,” touts barre instructor Jessica Diaz during any given BarSculpt session. Diaz, who splits her time between Charlestown Yoga and Sports Club/LA in Boston, just marked her one year anniversary teaching others how to trim, tighten and transform their torso. And with leading 6 to 8 classes per week plus teaching private sessions, her physique is proof that barre does a body good.

For the past decade, the long-haired brunette and mother of two has been practicing the Lotte Berk Method. This fusion of ballet, Pilates and sculpt has been around since the early 1970s, but has gained momentum in recent years. During her tenure as a student, Diaz trained at the top studios in Boston and among the best names in the business.

Diaz felt compelled to begin teaching after the birth of her second child. Having experienced a less than motivational moment in a class, she immediately knew she wanted to develop a routine as challenging as the ones offered at the popular studios, but with a deeper emphasis on individual fitness levels and goals. “I wanted to take the best of what I learned and combine it with what worked best for me,” Diaz explained. “I also wanted to promote an environment that made everyone feel comfortable.”

A variety of muscle groups are worked to the core (literally) in a 60-minute session. It's challenging indeed, but truly rewarding as body parts you never even knew you had start begging for mercy. Newcomers are encouraged to focus on creating movement from the part of the body being targeted. “You want to feel the area [you're targeting] actually working,” Diaz described. “A second important step is keeping your core engaged.”

Confessing she would have loved a career as a DJ, this music enthusiast shares her love for melody by compiling a killer playlist for each class. I’m convinced it’s the tunes that get many of us through the trials and tribulations of toning our tush, tummy, triceps and other areas too. 

But this busy wife, mother, instructor and secret record-spinner has yet another duty on her dossier, she’s a brand ambassador for Splits59. The athletic apparel brand recently named her a “Firestarter” and in turn Diaz shares feedback on new products and contributes to the company’s blog. I'm always on the hunt for great workout clothes and Splits59 is a favorite,” she said. Tendu Grip Tights are perfect for barre work because they have grips on the bottom of the foot.

A typical day for Diaz starts with coffee at 5:45 a.m. About an hour later, it’s time to move those muscles at her first BarSculpt class of the day. After her morning session, she sends her kids off to school and then it’s time for a personal workout, meetings, appointments and whatever else is vying for her attention that day. “It’s busy, but I love it,” she said. “I have an extremely supportive husband who’s always my partner is juggling our busy life.

Diaz admits attempting to find balance on a daily basis is nearly impossible for her. As an alternative, she opts to structure her laundry list into whole weeks which offers her more control and flexibility. And when it comes to seeking inspiration and motivation, this go-getter who's always eager to add more to her plate draws energy from those around her. I'm amazed by the funny and smart women I know and the positive influence they have on me.

Accomplished women like Diaz who absolutely love their work, welcome new opportunities and are able to harmonize all that’s important in life always inspire me to continue in my personal quest for success and happiness. I’m honored to know her and she’s certainly one to watch.


Jessica Diaz can be reached via Facebook



Monday, March 3, 2014

Favorites from the Oscars Red Carpet 2014

For those who are fixated with fashion and bewitched by beauty (like I am), the Oscars red carpet is the “IT” show for all things luxurious and many times laughable. This isn’t a post about last night’s worst dressed. I try to keep snarky comments to a minimum on this blog. That doesn’t mean I don't share my thoughts on what I dislike (I definitely do). I try to maintain harmony as much as possible because this platform is more of a sanctuary than a soundboard.

Overall, the red carpet wasn't lacking radiance or rushes of euphoria over $20,000 dresses or anything like that. The gowns, in all their glory (and some in their ill repute), were just underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, there were darling décolletages, jaw-dropping jewels and that irritating mani cam E! seems intent on keeping. But it felt like many celebrities just played it safe. And who can blame them?! They're criticized for things that are too over the top and clothes that are too conservative. And now, on to my five favorites.


I  mean Cate Blanchett doesn't need my two cents. Her nude Giorgio Armani stunner said it all and those opal drop earrings from Chopard were out of this world. This is what a REAL movie star looks like, kids. Cate is one for channeling that timeless je ne sais quoi like nobody's business. And her performance in Blue Jasmine was epic and worthy of her best actress win. Oh, and I must add that my mom called me immediately upon seeing Cate to chime in that her dress washed her out. I, on the other hand, have been infatuated with the the nude/skin overlay look as of late.
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Charlize Theron accented her already-brilliant Christian Dior haute couture gown with $15 million worth of diamonds from the legendary Harry Winston. Swoon! I remember the first time I visited a Harry Winston store. Triple swoon!!! This dress was sleek, sophisticated and a statement all by itself, but the drop necklace and studs really pulled it together. You need bold biceps (which she has) for those translucent straps. Meow!
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Lupita Nyong’o was perfection (almost) in a plunging Prada gown. The pastel blue was soft and sweet against her skin, while the pleated detail and elongated train were very Grecian goddess. And although I loved her gold and diamond headband from Fred Leighton, I was not a fan of the way it looked with her hairstyle. I'm not quite sure how I would change it since I'm not a hair stylist, but I would have loved to see something different.
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Jenna Dewan-Tatum was radiant in Reem Acra (another favorite next to Elie Saab). I don't know what it is with me and champagne-colored dresses lately, but I'm all over them. You could argue that Jenna's dress looked a little bridal (like for the non-traditionalist or second-time-around bride), but regardless it was stunning. The sheer top was so intricate, so feminine and just so beautiful. With similarities to Cate Blanchett's nude number, it was a difficult decision. 
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Giuliana Rancic's Paolo Sebastian gown was a stunner. Yes it was princess-like, but like Jenna's dress it was delicate and demure. Unfortunately, Giuliana experienced an on-air wardrobe malfunction when her zipper broke. What's funny is that recently, I contacted Paolo Sebastian's studio in Australia to inquire about a wedding gown. Something like Giuliana's would be killer! I was told all gowns are custom and can be fitted in-person or via Skype. Since I had no intention of making several trips Down Under and would never trust body measurements via Skype, my dreams of a Paolo Sebastian dress are now a thing of the past. After Giuliana's mishap, maybe that's a good thing.

Who were your picks for best dressed?

images via

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wine Wednesday :: Boston Wine Expo 2014


In the midst of a mini-blizzard (but suited in our finest snow attire), Mr. Chat and I made our way to the Seaport District during President's Day weekend for an afternoon at the Boston Wine Expo. The annual globetrotting event caters to aficionados and amateurs alike in pursuit of all things palate pleasing and perfect for dinner parties.

First on our list was Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard, a Rhode Island gem that we've been frequenting for the better part of a decade. Yes. Gasp. One whole decade. Day-trips to Tiverton and Little Compton in the Ocean State are what we live for in the spring, summer and fall. More about that here and here.

I spoke with Steve Krohn, director of wine education at Carolyn's Sakonnet, who introduced me to their newest selection, The Blessed Blend. As the first wine produced by new owner Carolyn Rafealian, the medium bodied white is a poignant blend of vidal blanc and chardonnay; and was also blessed by Armenian priests. As zests of citrus danced in my glass, my palate paid homage to hints of green apple, guava, pineapple and passion fruit. The Blessed Blend pairs perfectly with camembert cheese and seafood, but I'm confident the wine tastes even better among best friends.

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Next, we flocked to France for a sip of cabernet franc -- a red we've been enjoying this winter. We fell in love with a medium-to-full bodied selection from Joseph Mellot. Les Morinieres is produced along the slopes of Chinon, a town on the banks of the Vienne and Loire rivers. Both beautiful and complex, Les Morinieres twizzles on the taste buds with hints of red raspberry and dark cherry. A good match for poultry, grilled meats and this weekend's charcuterie. 

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Sauntering over to Spain we found ourselves romancing a robust red from Rioja. Vina Albina Bodegas Riojanas is a cherry-red blend of 80% tempranillo, 20% mazuelo and 5% graciano grapes. Cracking its complexity, I was met with the aroma of fruits such as, dried plum and blood orange intertwined with earthy elements such as, leather and tobacco. But the taste is what's truly unforgettable as I tousled chocolate, vanilla and spice around my tongue. Reminiscing on our magical trip to Spain several years ago, Mr. Chat and I didn't hesitate tallying this to our list.

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Have you ever tried Georgian wine? Like as in wine from the country and not the American state? Well neither did we until our trusty wine guide steered us to Chateau Marko. Located near Georgia's eastern boarder with Azerbaijan and Russia, the Kakheti wine region has a climate similar to southern France and is home to saperavi grapes. The word "saperavi" literally means dye and the ruby-rich color certainly caught my eye. Chateau Marko Saperavi was dry, delicious and immediately conjured a craving for a block of robust cheese. It will be a welcomed addition to our h'orderve and dinner table.


Admission was courtesy of the Boston Wine Expo.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Style on Ice :: Sochi Winter Olympics


For the past week, I've been mesmerized by the tiers of crystals, layers of chiffon and abundance of color skating across the ice at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The Russian figure skating team has been at fashion forefront and fierce on the ice too. My favorite pairs costume was the tulle skirt Elena Ilinykh wore for her dramatic free dance to Tchaikovsky's Black Sawn. Wearing a bodice lined with intricate beading and a tutu reminiscent of the ballet's dark characterIlinykh stunned all as she stood on partner Nikita Katsalapov's stomach and feathered herself like the black swan. Katsalapov's no-frills costume allowed her to shine. By far, one of the best performances and best costumes in the figure skating competition. 

The couple also dazzled in Gatsby-inspired garments for their short program to "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" by Sholom Secunda. Ilinykh wore a beautiful shade of dusty rose which paid compliment to her creamy complexion and dark hair. And can we please talk about her fabulous flapper-style headpiece?! Gorgeous indeed. And I almost forgot about Katsalapov (as men's fashion can fall off my radar from time to time). He looked handsome in a black tuxedo.

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Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland also took a formal approach to costuming for their short routine. The British pair danced to "I Won't Dance" by Fred Astire and "Swing Set" by Jurassic Five. Flow and flirt best described Penny's sequin and lace costume...and the micro-mini skirt was just darling. Coomes' dress was fancy, feminine and perfect for the ice. And I must point out another beautiful headpiece. Buckland's after five attire was equally playful, but also very polished with black-trim cuffs, white suspenders and a sequin bow tie. 


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US figure skater Gracie Gold has been called the Grace Kelly of the ice figuratively and almost literally speaking. Her poise and perfection in and out of the rink, along with her natural beauty, has drawn similarities to the late Princess of Monaco. And believe it or not Gold's costume designer, Brad Griffies, also designs costumes for Grace Kelly's granddaughter. While planning for her free program which was set to "Sleeping Beauty," Gold wanted to channel "Old Hollywood" and that was exactly what Griffies was able to produce with the periwinkle and royal blue stunner that he showered in 1,400 beads. 

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Despite the controversy swirling around Julia Lipnitskaia's performance to the score to "Schindler's List," the 15-year-old Russian figure skater demonstrated incredible athleticism and made ice skating look truly effortless. And that's the sign of a phenomenal skater -- someone who makes the sport look easy to the audience. In terms of fashion, Lipnitskaia's red coat dressed with beading and accompanied by a grey chiffon skirt was classic, striking and simply beautiful.

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 :: Style from Sochi :: 
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy // Germany

Kaetlyn Osmond // Canada

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte // Italy

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat // France

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov // Russia

Jason Brown // United States of America

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford // Canada

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov // Russia

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir // Canada 

Meryl Davis and Charlie White // United States of America
images via

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pantone Color of the Year :: Radiant Orchid

Hannibal Laguna

As many of you know, radiant orchid is the Pantone Color of the Year. And if you know me well (*ahhem* Kristin), you know just how head over heels I am about this enchanting harmony of purple, fuchsia and pink.  

As a little girl, I wore purple sparkles on my nails. When I was a teen, I danced my prom night away in a purple gown. In college, purple covered almost every inch of my dorm room
(*ahhem* again Kristin). Purple (paired with silver) was also the color scheme for my formal college graduation party. Even my father wore a purple-inspired tie with a grey suit at the beck and call of his daughter. Yes, I styled him for the occasion.

It’s said that orchid intrigues the eye and sparks the imagination. The rich hue also encourages creativity and expands originality. This speaks volumes because it describes ME to a tee. With creativity deeply etched in my bones, I’d say there's no wondering why I’ve been passionate about purple for decades.

But with maturity comes change and with change comes distinction. And at some point (perhaps in my early-20s), my lust and consumption for all-things lilac graduated into a fixation for something else. Something gorgeous. Something grown-up. That something was grey.

I wonder what Pantone would say about grey?! Does a love for the dusty hue mean a person is less prolific? I hope not. Grey has always struck me as mellow, mysterious and mature. I think Pantone should give grey a go in the coming years. I believe that in life, there's always room for more than one color to spark and seduce your senses.

What do you think about radiant orchid? What color would you like to see as a Pantone Color of the Year?

:: how to incorporate a little radiance into life ::

Damir Doma Resort Collection

:: GET THE LOOK ::

African Violet

Benjamin Moore



Friday, January 24, 2014

Chic of the Week :: Elie Saab at Paris Fashion Week


If you’ve been following me on Facebook and Pinterest, then you know just how utterly breathless I am with anything Elie Saab. Synonymous with goddess-like gowns layered with bespoke beading and intricate appliqué, Saab did not disappoint Wednesday at the couture shows in Paris. As pastels permeated the high-fashion promenade in of-the-moment materials and striking silhouettes, it was clearly another successful event for the Lebanese-born couturier.

Floral motifs, whimsical lace and dipped-necklines lined the runway in vibrant canary, iced lilac and striking sable. And an ode to ombré introduced chiffon gowns graduated in tone from black-to-violet-to-rose and finishing in a color reminicent of a dusty snow. Breathtaking indeed and truly too beautiful for words. Oh what I wouldn't do to sit at one of his shows. Perhaps the universe is listening today or perhaps I'm just lucky enough spending a evening wearing a masterpiece.



  













images via

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chic of the Week :: Lettering by Liz

 

I love to write when I feel inspired and have the urge to share something uniquely fresh. I also love showcasing anything that involves creativity and self expression (dance, drawing, you name it). This week, I'm thrilled to introduce a woman who is creatively chic and awing everyone with etiquette.

I first met Liz Roessler and learned all about her panache for penmanship while writing a story for the Boston Globe. You can enjoy my full article here. Roessler has worked as a professional calligrapher for 20 years and for the last two, she has been sharing her talent with others through her business Lettering by Liz.

Roessler specializes in a dip pen style of the fine art. “It’s a sophisticated version of calligraphy,” she explained. The classic style involves the use of a dip pen rather than a fountain pen. A dip pen consists of a metal nib mounted in a handle or holder and the user dips the nib in ink while writing.

Stepping into Roessler’s cozy studio in Boston’s Leather District is like walking into an artsy living room. On her walls, you’ll find handcrafted cards, whimsical words and letters laced with love. A long table in the center of the room is lavished with acrylic paints, specs of glitter and paper as far as the eye can see. It feels like home and Roessler is the host as she greets you with muffin bites, refreshments and a furry blanket on your seat. “I love welcoming students to a relaxed and interactive workshop filled with festive colors of ink, card stock, envelopes and embellishments,” she said.

The artist teaches beginner and intermediate sessions, as well as, several themed workshops dedicated to weddings and various holidays. With Valentine's Day only a few weeks away, you can easily become a crafty cupid after just one class. In the 2-hour session, you'll practice basic lettering, play with inspirational quotes and take home a dip pen, acrylic ink and alphabet sheets because like any form of self-expression, practice makes perfect. Click here for a selection  of classes and events.