CHIC PLACES: A LONG WALK IN NYC


New York City, my heart goes out to you... right now everywhere in the United States and the world, is suffering from the impact of widespread COVID-19. But NYC in particular, appears to be one of the hardest hit cities in America. New Yorkers have been told to remain inside, which I imagine is much more difficult given the small nature of most homes there. I am sure a walk outside in this brisk Spring air is a privilege for most city dwellers everywhere and I can't help but reminisce about my own big day walking the dense streets last Fall in the big city. At the very least, this post is meant to be a small mention of gratitude and love to one of the greatest cities in the world. Enjoy. 


We started our day outside of our hotel on the Upper West side, early in the morning, following our redeye in from the west coast. Since I knew we'd be walking the city all morning, I decided to wear sneakers and try my best athleisure wear chic I could muster, hence my fabulous faux fur cropped coat. And the result was the most practical and fabulous outfit I've ever worn; I can't wait to find a reason to repeat. And given that walking is the only activity outside the house I have now, this shouldn't be hard to do! 

In search of some strong coffee, we walked a short distance to the famed Plaza Hotel Food Hall and found some goods at the Ladurée counter. Unfortunately is was too early in the day for the infamous lobster roll, but I was excited to get moving and overcome my jet lag, knowing there would be many delicious options at every turn in this great big, food obsessed city.  



Arthur I and both had separate eating agendas for the day, his being Katz's Deli, mine being a delicious pasta dish, in addition to the many cute neighborhoods and places to explore. 



So we walked down 5th avenue and eventually hit the Lower East Side after many blocks and many lovely little neighborhoods to explore. Arthur found an amazing pastrami sandwich at Katz Deli and I was appalled at the low effort bagel selection given I judge delis solely on their cheese bagels and matzo ball soup. However, the place was quite an institution and I loved seeing Arthur happy with my recommendation, especially since he's gone fully vegan since. 



After Arthur got his New York deli fix, we continued on, heading towards the villages. Arthur quickly found a vintage looking ice cream shop his friend recommended, to fulfill his sweet tooth. I again, held out for something saltier, knowing full well how close we were to the quaint Sant Ambroeus in nearby West Village. 



This is perhaps what I love the most about New York, how so many different places are relatively close to one another, yet so unique on their own. And even though this city is home to so many people, welcoming millions of visitors everyday, there are still so many quiet streets and neighborhoods that exist peacefully. 


Like the villages, where I happily walked right into for my now second caffeine fix of the day, at the charming little Aimé Leon Dore. An upscale men's shop, full of colorful casual wears, has the most scenic storefront with adorable scalloped awnings. It was no surprise that they opened a small cafe for us all enjoy the lovely setting. I felt compelled to order the popular freddo cappuccino, which is similar to the Greek frappes we enjoyed on our honeymoon and perfect for a sunny day outside. 



After twenty minutes of people watching and our second dose of caffeine set in we continued our stroll right into the fashionable streets of Soho. I immediately found a lovely background for my ensemble of the day, as I assume most style bloggers do.





Shortly after window shopping in Soho, I was finally ready for a little snack and so we headed towards the lovely little West Village neighborhood in search of my favorite food group, pasta. Of course I made it seem as if we just magically stumbled upon the charming little Sant Ambroeus, to my less directionally gifted husband. It was, after all, the most perfect spot for siting alfresco, with my love and the best cacio e pepe of course. 



Sitting outside on a perfectly cozy New York street corner, on a beautiful fall afternoon, eating delicious pasta in leggings and a fur coat was perhaps the closest I'll ever get to emulating Carrie Bradshaw, whose apartment facade was just a stone's throw away. And of course my beloved blue and white mural also lived on the same street. If I wasn't so obsessed with central park and the quiet, classic vibe of the Upper East Side, the cobblestone street of West Village would most certainly be my next favorite place to live should I ever relocate to Manhattan. 



But in times like these, I've never been more grateful to live in a city where being outside still allowed. I pray the New Yorkers can return to their fast paced lifestyle soon and the rest of the world can recover from the tragedy of our time. I will be continuing to share the things and places that inspire me most here on Gisele Chic, as it's one great thing that keeps me going during these uncertain times. Until then, let's all do our part to find joy amongst all that we can't control. New York, we love you!


"The city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience—if they did they would live elsewhere."E. B. White

-MGN

A WALK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE


Well these last few weeks... have been a whirlwind at best and slowly I’ve been settling into this new pandemic lifestyle. Which has proven quite the transition from where I was not too long ago, what now feels like another lifetime, shuffling between my office, therapy sessions and face to face meetings all week. Mornings at Orangetheory, fetching vanilla lattes mid afternoon, time spent out with friends and family on the weekends. Supperclub with the girls, monthly book club and weekly date nights with my husband at our neighborhood watering holes. Any extra time being dedicated to Gisele Chic, or making future plans for trips with friends: wow have times changed so quickly. 

But as absolutely heartbreaking as COVID-19 is, this entry is meant to explore the silver lining if you will. A chance to take a walk on the bright side, quite literally. 


I've found a new routine. And it still involves exercise in the morning, thank goodness, given the amount of goods I've consumed since being scared silly into stocking up at the grocery stores and signing up for unlimited delivery on Postmates. Now more than ever I am so incredibly grateful to live in a neighborhood with such ornate landscaping, hilly streets and colorful vegetation. Each morning I either run outside or use our building's gym, desperately attempting to recreate the intensity of my Orangetheory classes, now appropriately renamed ArthurTheory, as a nod to my husbands best efforts at HIT choreography. I am most certainly not working out to the standards set by my previous coaches, however, being outside is really great, especially as Spring is setting into full bloom. 

The work days haven't changed too much, they just require more effort being remote. In my profession I am always talking, but for some reason doing over the phone and video chat is proving so much more incredibly draining. At the end of each the day, I feel exhausted in a new way, perhaps I am just tired of myself? But it is nice wearing sweatpants, I don't miss wearing real pants AT ALL. 





Many of my friends have started lively video chats for us all to pour our lives and wine into. If you haven't yet been invited to a virtual hangout, please start one yourself. I've also poured myself into creativity with this blog, photography from our walks and my Pinterest boards. 

In other positive news, our home remodel is so much closer to being finished, which feels incredibly timely right now, as we have no where else to be. We've been re-watching Sex and The City, still mourning the loss of our beloved Pierre of course, taking each day as another opportunity to focus on what we do have, which is a home we've thrown our blood, sweat and tears into that I am praying we can start to fully enjoy sooner than later. 

Bur perhaps the biggest joy right now appear to be our routine sunset walks, where we break from the day before heading into night with the sun, reconnecting with ourselves and each other. It's been a game changer so far, what I look forward to most everyday, a wonderful release from the stress work and the state of the world bring, a chance to be reinvigorated with optimism, knowing that the very least, the sun will rise again. The world will preserve it's beauty and as of yet, flowers haven't been affected by the virus. 


Making meaning in times of uncertainty is ultimately a gift. And I have found so much gratitude in what I have already had the privilege to do. Travel, education, human connection all seem so much more sacred right now and any opportunities we have for expansion is something of great value. Thank goodness we have ways to connect, ways to help each other and hopefully time to explore ourselves on deeper levels. 

Let's take what we can from this global pandemic, let's make it something worthwhile, let's try to find our way to brighter days. 

-MGN

COVID-19: SOME THOUGHTS


In the midst of this pandemic, I am attempting to find small moments of peace, in any way possible. Last week truly felt like an avalanche of paranoia, uncertainty and fear that I was in absolutely no way prepared to deal with, but as with everything, we did our best to adjust. I was fortunate enough to still have work I could do remotely and maintain safety from the comfort of my own home, unlike a number of people who were not. And I want to take a moment to acknowledge the extreme impact COVID-19 has had on so many people, particularly those who are either sick or have lost their source of income as a result. We are all being effected in various ways, some more detrimental than others, but I always caution myself against comparing each other's suffering and I encourage you to do the same. My hope, however, is that we can all do our best to stay safe and take care of our loved ones, our neighbors and ourselves, in any and all ways possible. A big piece of that involves staying physically distant from each other and minimizing contact, even with the people we know and care to spend time with. It's heartbreaking to think that people are separated from one another, given this is the time we need each other the most. 


I'd like to reframe social distancing as physical distancing, given there are many ways in which to still remain social. This past week I was blessed with the chance to spend an evening with my sorority sisters on Thursday night and high school friends on Friday, all via virtual chat. It was such an uplifting way to escape my busy days of figuring out how to manage my interns remotely and provide therapy to clients over the phone, among many other daunting tasks in this new world of work. But on my virtual chats, we had a lot fun with home tours and updates on each others lives. Of course we were unable to fully get away from the main topic, I think we all felt less alone in navigating the stress of this major shift. Fortunately a few husbands and pets made appearances, adding even more levity to all of our long days. 


We even made plans to continue our virtual hangouts next week and I am excited to do it now with my book club and family members soon. If you haven't gotten a chance to connect yet with your people, this is most certainly the time to do so over the many various platforms offered in this very tech savvy world. And if FaceTime fails, there's still the good old phone call or old fashioned snail mail to keep us all connected during this trying time. 


At this point, we are still able to leave the house for exercise in Los Angeles, as long as we remain six feet apart. So I took up running in my neighborhood again, with my regular loop through the beautiful vegetation and aspirational real estate. My husband started to tag along and I even though I love my solo journeys, this might just be the start of another shared pastime for us. After a week of rain, the hedges were extra green, the seasonal flowers so bright and the weather just the perfect balance of brightness and breeze, making it easy to forget at various moments how much different a world we now live in.




Saturday night, despite my renewed sense in the beauty of virtual chat, a few friends of mine and I decided to take a little stroll outside together, employing physical distancing rules as instructed. And given it was past 5 o' clock, I figured a little pink bubbly in our portable cups seemed quite appropriate. We sipped, we strolled, we commiserated about it all, alternating from hope to worry, from gratitude to dismay, all while admiring my cute new sweater for Spring, which was one of my very last purchases before realizing the severity COVID-19 would cause. 


And with that said, I have really been considering how this impacts everything in my life, but particularly Gisele Chic, my happy place I created in lieu of the heavy work I have always done professionally. At this point I can't imagine not continuing to explore my creativity and share it on this platform, in whatever way feels the most authentic, as I always have before and as I always will forever. I know I need many different versions of escape right now and that is why I am so grateful we have the internet, advanced technology and social media during this time because I don't know how else I would connect, learn and entertain myself so readily. But I understand how other's may see it, digital creators sharing life as they imagine it, their content disconnected from reality. Which I don't exactly believe to an entirely negative ting. But I think it's fair to recognize your feelings and make the choice that keeps you your very best. 


But if being entertained or embracing escapism isn't a reality for you right now, I hope it can be soon, because we all need it one way or another. Everything feels so urgent right now, so new, so incredibly destabilizing. And that's because it is. If this crisis is to be our new normal, then it will take time to adjust. It will take time for us to all figure out how to survive, in the midst of uncertainty. I am doing my best to find out what this new routine will look like, as I am sure you are too. But I am optimistic about our ability to figure it out, to adapt, to help each other. I just hope we can find some peace while doing so. Some soul searching, some gratitude for what we've had and what we might loose, for what we didn't have, and for what we may gain? 


-MGN

CLASSIC STYLE: FAIR ISLE SWEATER IN THE SNOW


Fair Isle, forever mountain style... Sorry, I just couldn't resist the rhyme! This classically cold weather pattern truly brings me all the good feels of winter. Whether you are Cameron Diaz sipping tea in Rosehill Cottage or in the midwest about to deice your car's windshield, you'll feel the warmth. So of course I had to pack it in with all my other fun ski sweaters for a weekend with friends in the snow. It's crazy to think that I spent my whole childhood and early adolescence wearing some variation of a sweater for about six months straight and after nine years in Los Angeles, it's safe to stay, nothing has changed! So here are some scenic shots outside our rental house, which I would highly recommend for anyone looking to stay in Steamboat, in addition to some of my favorite fair isle patterned sweaters to shop below. Stay warm, stay safe and enjoy. 



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-MGS

CLASSIC STYLE: SPRING FLING { No. 1 }

{ bag via Zara } 

Dear March, you'e kinda the worst... What the hell, you have always been so great. You've blessed us with longer days, pinker sunsets, romance. Excitement about the change in weather, in people, in opportunities. You have always, without a doubt, given me hope. Optimism. The beauty of what's unknown. This year you presented me with loss, you presented uncertainty, utter chaos. If I were my own therapist, of course I'd reframe it. When life presents, you say thank you. But I am not fully there yet, and I think that's okay. I know we will survive this, I know we will be okay, but right now I know I need to let myself feel it all, find a way to withstand it and I hope you do too. Slowly, non-linearly, we will find hope again, we will figure this all out. We will maybe even say thank you, one day. Until then, my plan is to continue, the best way I know how. To create, write, to share. To bask in lovely images, people and things. To find a way to fall back in love with March, to get back my Spring fling. How will you? 




MORE TO LOVE



-MGS

CHIC PLACES: HOT SPRINGS + SPA IN STEAMBOAT SPRINGS


After my big adventure... mastering the mountain on skis, a day of relaxation and respite was most certainly in order. Fortunately, I wasn't the only bunny hill member from our group and found two other ladies with the same agenda for this winter weekend. So we crafted a relaxing itinerary off the mountain, one that involved just the same, if not more, scenic views of this quaint little ski town in Steamboat Springs. 



We started out morning off with a visit to the Steamboat Grand for an athletic massage to work our post snow-sport bodies back into shape. I woke up the next day surprised I had absolutely no sore muscles, even more convinced that I love the leisure filled mountain life. The Steamboat Grand Hotel was super close to our rental home and about a minute ride via the Steamboat shuttle service, which will take you wherever you'd like to go. This place is heaven. 



The spa didn't have many amenities but massage was great and reasonably priced compared to most hotel spa menus. After our rub downs, we headed back home to change into our swimsuits, grab the most beloved bag of cheez-its and drove out to our next relaxing destination, Strawberry Hot Springs.


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This is the type of place that does live up to its hype. It's not fancy by any means; there's no towel service, snack bar or chair reservations. But it's much more charming than I had originally assumed it would be, with a very cozy changing cabin with a rustic furnace. It's family friendly and you can bring a picnic and towel to keep warm. Unfortunately no alcoholic beverages are allowed, but we managed to sneak in a little treat. I was so worried about my feet freezing that I wore my Ugg boots with my bikini, but being barefoot ended up being totally fine. 



Most of the pools were varying degrees of warmth, but perhaps the largest, most scenic one was not. I wouldn't call it ice cold, but it was a shock to the system. However, it was somewhat refreshing after a long soak in high temps. It was also the best photo opportunity, an easy sell for moi.



And so we fully embraced the warm and absolutely picturesque setting, sipping some secret sprits and munching of course on the most delicious white cheddar cheez-its that instantly became the most coveted snack in the house. After changing into warmer clothes, we headed back into Steamboat's charming little downtown for some more snacks al fresco. 



I ordered my official drink of the trip, a coffee with Baileys and whip cream on top. It's a wonderful afternoon cocktail, filled with warmth, a little energy boost and spirits all in one. And the pimento cheese dip didn't hurt either, my only wish is that there was more of it to go around! Afterwards we headed back to our cozy little townhome to join the rest of the group, refreshed, relaxed and well served.


Of course when we arrived back home I couldn't resist another soak in the hot tub with my love, after all, it's exhausting to relax. 

-MGS