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Charting the style of daily life...with a mouth like a sailor.

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Make like an Italian

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Last night I made Marcella Hazan's very famous (and incredibly simple) tomato sauce - it's a Fox family favorite.

Here's the original recipe I've been using:

Combine 2 cups organic crushed (or whole peeled) tomatoes, 5 tablespoons real butter, 1 white onion, peeled and cut in half in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer then cook uncovered for 30 - 40 minutes. Stir occasionally and add salt as needed. If using whole peeled tomatoes, use a wooden spoon to mash larger pieces. Discard the onion halves then toss with pasta.

After discovering my just purchased organic onion was rotting from the inside out, I got creative and mixed a few extra things in:

* a few generous splashes of red wine

* fresh chopped basil

* rosemary (crushed in my hands before adding -- smells SO good)

* a pinch of minced garlic

* a dash or two of onion powder

* fresh cracked pepper

Before tossing into the pasta, I added browned ground chicken. 

Seriously, Marcella's legendary sauce is so simple to make (and to make it your own), I can't imagine ever buying another jar of pre-made sauce ever again. Give it a whirl and let me know if you come up with some other fab additions. I might try adding mushrooms next time...



The Five | birthday edition

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I love birthdays --- mine and others'. I'm taking tomorrow (my actual birthday) off to get that mani/pedi I've been needing, have a lovely lunch with the husb and perhaps even take in a matinee (I adore going to movies alone). No blogging tomoz for me so here goes my weekly wrap up:

* My homemade Mother's Day cards were the shit and continue to make me smile --- I can't bring myself to stop displaying them. My husband has the rare gift of being both right and left brained. He's creative AND can do math! #multitalented

* Speaking of Mother's Day --- for this year's gift, my fellas picked out a new elephant for us to sponsor. The reason the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust exists is heartbreaking but the work they do is so incredibly inspiring and important. I'm happy to welcome sweet baby Roi to our family and pledge to support the work of the DSWT for the rest of my life. #SaveTheElephants

* I finally framed a cute print I originally bought for my oldest boy. But I love it so much, it's going to go in our kitchen for everyone to see. We can all use the reminder. #dreamBIG

* We bought a cute little bonsai tree. After doing some internet sleuthing, we've discovered just how complicated the art of bonsai can be. I think I'll leave the care of this tiny tree to the Mister. #blackthumb

* I'm a HUGE fan of Howard Stern - for many reasons. One of them is his interview style because of the insight he gains. This week, Stern interviewed James Taylor (I'm NOT a fan) but the interview was amazing and I came away actually liking him (just not his music). Howard can be quite polarizing and I find myself defending his show and my love for him A LOT to my friends and family (you know who you are). I'll be devastated when he finally retires. Until then, the Stern show makes my every week that much better. #bababooey 

 

Bootstraps.

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Yesterday was a little bit of a downer for me --- but only because I was in a little bit of a writing funk. But! I have just 3 days left of my 36th year --- and I'm going to make sure these final days will be KICKASS. Trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps:

Image via Pinterest

* I'm treating myself to a clean mani/pedi (taking my own tools and polishes to a nail salon that now lines their jetted tubs with a fitted...shower cap of sorts). I'm not going for a tasteful, ladylike mani look - I'm going for fun and slightly tacky. #yolo

* I'm on a cleaning rampage for house, handbag and car. I'm selling and donating a bunch of ish AND I'm getting down and dirty to get every corner of Chez Fox sparkling clean! I'm hoping this will help clear up my mental block.

* I'm celebrating writing I've already accomplished by basking in the glow of my latest feature article for Fort Wayne Monthly magazine -- now online -- which highlights the amazing style brands that were founded and are still headquartered here in my hometown. Gotta respect the hustle. 

Writer's block is still hanging over my head (the struggle is real, my friends) but honestly, it feels kind of good to just go stream of consciousness like this... 

Keep it funky.

 

Blocked.

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I just don't feel like blogging today. I have a massive head cold (that feels like it's finally breaking up), I just sat through 35 minutes of tornado warnings and alarms (one of my worst nightmares) and as I stare at my computer screen, my eyes keep wandering to the Cheerio dust on my floors. I can't concentrate.

I had a fantastic weekend with my family and a great group of friends (thank you to all responsible) but I'm currently battling writer's block. Sure, I have multiple projects I could work on but my brain is just...lame. 

I Googled "how to battle writer's block" and found a few articles/suggestions:

* Take a break. Okay, I'll watch some Southern Charm.

* Write in a new place. But I haven't showered today.

* Write about something else. That's what I'm doing right now.

* Get Moving. Well, I was going to go for a bike ride but the tornado action put the kibosh on that.

* Use Mind Mapping. Hmm, this sounds interesting. This might finally give a purpose to my hoard of cute notebooks. I'll get right on this...after an ep of Southern Charm.

The Five | Under Deadline

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This week, I had two different items to turn in to the glossy mag I write for - my column and a feature story (I love a double whammy). Thus, I just haven't had time to publish any of the amazing, life affirming blog posts swirling in my head (or shower). However, I did have time to do a little lazy blogging (ie, this post).

* The feature story I turned in for the April edition of Fort Wayne Monthly celebrates the incredible clothing companies based in my hometown. I super proud of my profile of these creative, driven people and the brands they run. The online edition will publish closer to the end of the month. #justbecomeasubsriberalready

* One of the brands I wrote about in the article mentioned above is a clothing company for boys called The Good Ones. I'm so in love with this brand and so are my boys. TGO just released the 1st edition of their newest collection last week. #swoon

* I feel like it's old news by now but the video of Britt McHenry was interesting to watch - and infuriating. But in a strange way, the video made me feel good because it pointed out to me that I don't personally know anyone that would speak to someone that way. Britt McHenry made me happy I don't have friends like her. #beingrudeisugly

* The return of SJP to HBO is SOFA KING exciting!!!!! #cannotwait

* I finally got to have a Caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil, and I loved it (I drank three). I just still don't know how to pronounce it. #mynewsummercocktail

Cheers!

 

The Five | Get Outside

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Cabin fever hit me hard this year and I've been craving lots of outdoor time this Spring. As I stare at my computer screen, finishing up some of the week's work, I'm pining for the sunshine just outside my door.

Until I can really get down and dirty in my yard, I've been bringing a bit of the outdoors in. Succulents are my jam since I tend to kill most house plants. #blackthumb

My husband and I recently got some new bikes and we just purchased a Peg-Perego ride-along bike seat for our youngest. Here's to family bike rides! #bicyclerace 

And since we'll be spending lots of time on bikes this season, I bought myself a helmet. It's a tad dorky but I actually don't hate it. #safetyfirst

I'm desperate to give our home an outdoor makeover. We have multiple challenges ahead. What's a modern girl to do? Make a Pinterest board! #AtomicFox

I'm obsessed with Rejuvenation, an online store with lots of Mid-Century Modern home decor accents and hardware. I've been swooning over these minimalist planters but found a less expensive version at Target. #HOLLA 

Hope you get some Vitamin D this weekend!

This is my Indiana

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The laser focus on Indiana over the last two weeks has been supremely uncomfy for multiple reasons. People of Indiana always love mentions of our cities and state in the media because typically, Indiana is one of the "flyover" states largely ignored by a majority of the country. That's why even with the sweeping generalizations and digs about being hillbillies, Indianans get excited about shout-outs in shows like The Middle, Parks and Recreation and, the latest gem, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. "The Durnsville Indiana Mole Women" IS a hilarious string of words and I'd laugh at pretty much anything Tina Fey thinks up. But after this recent legislation passed by Indiana state government and our shiny faced, asshole governor, the spotlight on Indiana has become way more harsh. I'm 100% against this new #RFRA law (and not totally thrilled with the "fix") and I'll continue to fight the hate and show my support for inclusive businesses and organizations rather than give in to the negativity. There are many fantastic people and businesses in Indiana trying to attract new talent to the area, something incredibly vital to our growth. I'm sick of hearing the tired stereotypes about Indiana, perpetuated for decades by people who don't know my Indiana.

I've seen many jokes on social media about the state since this RFRA nonsense began, some of them hilarious, some stupid and most of them based on untrue or outdated stereotypes. One tweet in particular struck a chord with me because I spend much of my professional time highlighting fantastic, local/small Indiana businesses and products in my column for Fort Wayne Monthly. The tweet I'm referencing is actually pretty innocuous and it's by someone who I think is really funny but it highlighted a stereotype Indiana is always fighting --- that we have nothing to offer this country except our fields of corn (and gum, apparently). If you've never been to Indiana or have only briefly passed through, you may not know about just how much we have to give.

I'm actually a fan of Gary Janetti, which is why I follow him on Twitter (he's hilarious). This particular tweet just touched a nerve for me.

Indiana is home to some major corporations like Eli Lilly and Simon Property Group. The state has great sports traditions thanks to the NCAA, the Indy 500 and Super Bowl XLVI, which received rave reviews for the production and coordination of the massive event and our state's legendary Hoosier hospitality.

Indianapolis has world-class museums like the huge Indianapolis Children's Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In my hometown of Fort Wayne, we have a top ranked Children's Zoo and Arts United, a collection of vibrant artistic institutions dedicated to enriching lives through all art forms.

Indiana has many historical places and innovations to highlight, most beautifully displayed at The French Lick Resort, which includes the National Historical Landmark West Baden Springs Hotel and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg museum.

Warsaw, Indiana is the orthopedic capital of the world while Columbus, Indiana is home to many important works of architecture, created by the likes of Pei, Saarinen, Meier and Venturi. Speaking of great design, there are numerous Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Indiana. Hillbillies don't live in FLW homes.

Fort Wayne, Indiana is home to a handful of style companies like Vera Bradley, Matilda Jane, cinda b, The Good Ones and OFabzModbar is a gorgeous coffee brewing innovation, also headquartered in Fort Wayne, gaining popularity throughout the nation for its superior quality and design. 

Indiana has a growing craft beer industry and so many independent, amazing restaurants like Joseph Decuis in Roanoke, for example. We can lay claim to Martha Hoover who, with her 12 local restaurants, is a major, national player in the restaurant industry. Eating at one of her Cafe Patachou locations is reason enough to visit Indianapolis. #cinnamontoast 

We have thousands upon thousands of talented musicians, makers, artists, entrepreneurs and writers among our population. Indiana is home to some incredible entertainment venues, big and small, universities and leading hospitals. You can't have all this (and so, so much more, just not listed here) without dynamic, smart, forward thinking, creative, driven, educated and passionate people with taste and influence. I could go on and on about everything Indiana has to offer but you should come here for a visit before you decide you know what our state is all about. You can get here by flying in to our award-winning Indianapolis International Airport.

The Five | Easter Essentials

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For me...

Pretty hats +  little girls in white gloves + nibbles of chocolate + sips of champagne  + my family's {intense} game of Pic-A-Me = the perfect celebration of Spring!

I'll be missing my sweet Nan this year, who was always the most beautiful, most elegant person to sit at our family table. I'll be wearing her signature Lily of the Valley scent in her honor...

xoxo

JDF

The Five | Where the F^@$ is Spring?

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Spring Break starts now. No, we're not going anywhere sunny but we are getting out of town for a few days. My plan involves a few meals at my favorite restaurant and not a whole lot else. I'm in a bit of a sour mood due to recent legislation in Indiana and the very un-Spring-like weather we've been [not] enjoying this week (and a week that started with doing my taxes and getting blood drawn --- I'm not sure what's worse). I'm bound and determined to turn my mood around so here are some of the bright spots from the past few days.

* Little League is starting back up and I'm really excited to see my oldest on the field again. He's certainly no slugger but there are valuable lessons to be learned from participating in team sports and he needs to learn them. And seriously, watching little kids try to field is hysterical. #letsplaytwo

 

* My sibs and I threw a little birthday lunch for our mother (she loved it) and I finally got to use my Oh Joy for Target party paraphernalia. This was my Mum's first birthday after losing her mother (my sweet and sorely missed Nan) and we wanted to make sure she was the sole focus of our get-together. Thus, we opted for lunch at her favorite Chinese resto, when we could easily pull it off without 73 little kids making the meal all about them. #surprise!

 

* After moving into our new house, we started hearing the beautiful, haunting sounds of an owl at random times throughout the day. After a few conversations with neighbors, we discovered there are two of them and they spend most of their time in the pine trees in our backyard! My husband managed to capture some awesome pictures of them this week. #hootyhoot

* My skinny-ass brows (I also have skinny ankles and wrists, but that's about it) are always in need of a product or two and after testing quite a few (so, so many, really) of the latest and {not so} greatest brow mascaras, I've settled on an absolute fave: L'Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper. The formula is a great consistency and the triangle spooly brush is the perfect size to offer precion AND proper coverage. Bonus: It's under 10 bones. #cheapthrills

 

* Mint has been my color of choice for the last few months and the feeling is only increasing as summer gets closer. Whenever I get hooked on a color, I get dangerously close to accidentally dressing head to toe in it. To prevent that nonsense, I'm having fun experimenting with complimentary hues that make mint pop. #mintyfresh

If you happen to be enjoying an actual Spring Break this year, please have a cocktail (or five) on the beach for me!

K, bye.

 

The Five | Reboot

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I used to do a little series where I'd wrap up my five (lifelong love for the number five) favorite things of the week. At some point, I stopped doing that --- I'm not sure why. It's back, b!tches.

* Barely Famous just debuted on VH1 and it's hilarious. The Foster sisters (daughters of composer/songwriter David Foster) are super cute, stylish and funny --- what more could you ask for? I don't have cable but I bought the season pass through iTunes for under $20. Score! #cheapthrills

* I'm hashtag obsessed with one of Madonna's new songs, Ghosttown. She will always be a badass, no matter what anyone says. #datass

* Open For Service is such a fab initiative, freshly started by a couple of forward thinking peeps in Indianapolis. This needs to be a worldwide movement so click here, read and share with everyone  you know --- providing  you agree with the mission. If you don't agree, I'm not sure we can be friends.... #justsaying

* These teacups are totally my vibe. Follow @trovestore on Instagram for tons of super cute merch. #cheeky

* I've always liked fennel but right now I just can't get enough. I think I'm just craving fresh, crisp salads now that the weather is not as frightful. Here's how I've been getting funky with fennel: Make a bed of baby kale, dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Add fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, segments of grapefruit, Meyer lemon and blood orange then top with shaved fennel. #nocookdinner

 

Cheers to the weekend!

58 Hours in Savannah

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I tagged along with my husband on a business trip to Savannah, Georgia last week and had such an amazing time. I explored the beautiful and incredibly charming historic district, spent some quality alone time at the spa (steaming, kneading and buffing every single square inch of my dermis) and enjoyed as many of the indie restos and boutiques as I possibly could. I found so many little treasures and left feeling well rested and totally inspired. Here are just a few of the gems from my trip...

Always my #1 in a new city: Secure a list of must see/do/eat from someone who looks cool. Trust me, it works. This list came from the baristas at The Coffee Fox. 

I'd never pass up a store called The Salt Table. I left with Lavender Salt and Habanero Sugar and more...much, much more.

Just one of the cheese boards we ordered. This one was from Churchill's Pub. They're a fixture on many Savannah menus. HOLLA!

A jumble of pearls at Peddler Jim's Antiques. It takes A LOT of digging to find a real treasure here.

Waiting for our fabulous tex-mex dinner at Foxy Loxy (sister store to The Coffee Fox). How could we not eat there? 

Took a late night jaunt to the sea. No way would we be that close to the ocean and not stick our toes in!

I always pick up as many local publications as possible.

A HELLA fast visit to the Wormsloe Plantation was beautiful and peaceful. So nice to walk around outside without a coat.

Shop SCAD proved to be chock full of treasures from local design students. I think Savannah's booming indie vibe is a direct result of having a great art school in its midst.

FOUND: the ugliest souvenir in Savannah. However, this certainly wasn't the most offensive. I won't be posting a picture of that one.

A bird's eye view of the basement at The Paris Market. This was my favorite store when I visited 7 years ago and it's still my favorite today. Lovely!

Cute, rustic decor at Back in the Day Bakery. We went for breakfast and ended up splitting a Jambon Royal and a cupcake. 

Cupcakes may be "over" but these babies from Back in the Day Bakery were DELICIOUS! Perhaps the best I've ever had (and I've tried my fair share).

I loved everything at Back in the Day Bakery. I just want to live there.

The mead tasting bar at Savannah Bee Company. We had our first (and definitely not our last) taste of honeycomb here, paired with crisp green apple and sharp cheese. Yum! The company makes all manner of honey products as well as a range of haircare and skincare and sells beautiful honeycomb inspired jewelry. 

The nice craft beer selection at The Beer Growler. Fun fact: You can stroll the streets of Savannah while drinking beer, as long as it's in a plastic container.

Super Bowl Style

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No matter your thoughts on #deflategate // #ballghazi // #Belicheat, most Americans will be watching the Super Bowl this coming Sunday. Even non football fanatics like moi. The barftastic snacks, uber expensive ads, each one trying (and occasionally succeeding) to be wittier than the next and Katy Perry are enough to lure me in...

More than likely, I'll be cuddled up in sweats on my favorite corner of the couch during the game, but let's pretend, for blogging's sake, that I'll be at a fun, lively party. 

What I'd wear: Seahawks blue, green and silver, natch! Even though I lived in Boston for over a decade, I could never get down with the Pats. Celtics? Mos def. Red Sox? F^ck Yeah! Pats? Hell to the NAW!

What I'd bring: A package of eye black stickers for fellow guests. Super Bowl Rings (Ring Pop lollies) for post-game celebrations!

What I'd do: Use my ref's whistle and penalty flag for anyone that double dips at the buffet. 

Happy Super Bowling! 

Happy New Year!

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Narrowing down color choices for the kitchen. 

Well, I finally unpacked and plugged in my computer after a hectic move right after Christmas. At long last, we've hung curtains, installed appliances and tackled the sea of laundry that piled up during the chaos. We still have lots to do in terms of unpacking, painting and some light renovating but that will happen...eventually. I'll be blogging the transformation of our 1954 Mid Century Modern ranch home in a series I'm calling #AtomicFox. 

I just know 2015 is going to be a great year but we've started off with a few illnesses and a semi-frightening career decision for me (have to remain cryptic for now). I'm accepting all good vibes sent my way...

So --- now that it's almost February --- Happy New Year!!!

Happy Holidays!

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I'm so thankful for a wonderful ending to a year full of ups and downs. As we wrap up 2014, my family will be packing up and moving to a new house - a Mid Century Modern atomic ranch. We're incredibly thrilled to start the New Year in our new home.

Given that we'll be in full moving mode starting December 26th, I'm taking the rest of the year off (and then some). See you in 2015!


Holiday Gift Guide, Special Edition| Fort Wayne

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With only two days left to complete your holiday shopping, I've got some fantastic last minute ideas for those who reside in my fair city. Shake a leg, people!

* Subscription to Fort Wayne Monthly -- I hear they have some pretty kickass contributing writers in that gorgeously glossy mag. It's $18 a year and provides readers with all the fantastic things happening around town! Fill out and send in the subscription card or complete the online form and put a bow on the current issue (available at Kroger) for under the tree or in a stocking. Just go ahead and get one for every person on your list... You'll make at least one freelance writer very happy! 

* Opal & Ruby is a tasteful and fun gift shop for babies, kids, men, women and home --- essentially, everyone. Check out the selection of gourmet seasonings, Doodle tablecloths for creative kids, printed canvas wine flasks, chic zip code pillows, affordable sparkly earrings, books, stationery, greeting cards and cool men's grooming products. 

* The Monogram Shoppe always stocks the most current gifts and gadgets and the massive inventory is impressive. Go here for no-fail gifts for the kiddos --- or die-hard IU or Purdue fans, as the store stocks a wide selection of novelty gifts that represent both.

* If you need a gift for a girl of any age, you can find it at Essentials & Frosting. Think eco friendly cosmetics, candles, a vast array of jewelry and gobs of sweaters and denim.

* Symmetry stocks designer clothing and a well curated selection of cool jewels and accessories for the fashionistas (I hate that word but sometimes it's hard to find a good substitute --- someone help me) on your list.

* Bravas' new brick and mortar burger joint sells gift certificates - a slam dunk for all the bros on your list.

* Make a donation in someone's honor to Wunderkammer Company. Right next door to Brava's, this indie gallery churns out hit after hit, supporting the community and the regional scene with innovative events and a fresh, approachable take on the arts.

* A membership to Science Central or the Fort Wayne Museum of Art can be enjoyed all year long. One membership can serve an entire family and they'll think of you every time they visit.

Keep the change, ya filthy animal!