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Pilates barre, a fusion workout of Pilates, dance, and yoga, has been heralded by celebrities, models, and chiropractors alike for its ability to create lean, long muscles, reduce stress, and improve posture. I consider myself relativity in shape (though, admittedly, my athletic career peaked in high school) and I love to dance, so I figured I’d have no trouble dropping in for a class to see what all the hype was about… but this is not a class to be taken lightly.

The Barre Work
Unsure of what to expect, I walked into a room of girls pliéing at the ballet barre in a mirrored room. I don’t know whether it was my underdeveloped leg muscles or my brand new yoga mat that gave me away, but the instructor immediately asked if it was my first class and positioned me at the barre next to one of the more experienced girls. I began to mimic her movements, feeling a little bit self-conscious but not really challenged at first. What felt like hundreds of squats later, however, my legs were shaking uncontrollably and the announcement of the switch to the mat was a welcome relief.

The Mat Work
I never thought I’d be grateful to be told to hold the plank position for as long as I could, but anything besides squats sounded wildly appealing at the time. On the mats we worked with medicine balls, Pilates rings, and blocks in a series of core exercises as the instructor counted off to the beat of the music. The lights were gradually dimmed as the class came to an end with some deep stretching and “introspection” time (all I could think about was how happy I was that I live in a ground-level apartment).

The Verdict
My overall opinion on the experience: this class is for you if you’d like to explore 500 different forms of cruel and unusual punishment to a Ke$ha soundtrack. Was it rewarding when it was over? Absolutely. I’ve never felt so satisfyingly exhausted after any other one-hour workout. But go in prepared to really work it out.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

How did your road test fare? Share in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue Road Test column every Thursday.

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April 25, 2013

There’s a good reason (or ten) thousands of people flock to the shores of Nantucket every spring and summer. Whether you plan to catch up on a book at the beach or pedal to the famous lighthouses and markets, a quintessential Massachusetts vacation awaits. Just pack your bags and bring along this list of must-dos.

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Our Nantucket Island Resorts – Nantucket, MA Boutique opens Tuesdsay, March 19, at 3PM ET.

By Brianna Lapolla, Staff Writer

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March 19, 2013

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On a recent stroll around SoHo (after a major carb splurge at The Dutch), I spied the telltale chain links glimmering in the sun – Chanel! Gently used investment bags (along with The Dutch’s sweet potato doughnuts) are a particular love of mine. So down I went into A Second Chance. What I discovered was a jewel of a shop featuring some of the most coveted pieces imaginable: Stephen Sprouse–edition Vuittons (yes, more than one). CÉLINE mini luggage. A bottle-green Lanvin leather dress. And, oh, the Chanel.

Now, better than any doughnut is an entire Boutique on Rue devoted to a curated collection of Chanel from this beloved NYC destination. This merited a chat with Natalie Rivera, daughter of owner Maria.

Rue La La: What inspired you to open A Second Chance?
Natalie: My mom, Maria, was an avid resale shopper. She always dreamed of owning a Chanel bag of her own one day and opened the store to stay active and involved in an industry she loved. She never dreamed the business would grow to what it has become today. I joined after working in corporate fashion for three years.

Rue La La: We hear you’re ruthless – in a good way – when deciding what makes the cut for the shop. And it shows.
Natalie: Authenticity is first and foremost. Once we are confident that the item is authentic, we appraise the condition to ensure that it is up to our standards. While condition of vintage items varies from piece to piece, we avoid selling items that show too much wear. Once this criteria has been established, we look for items that are classic and timeless. We accept both current and vintage pieces, but everything must be from a luxury designer. Our forte is Chanel, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton.

Rue La La: How tempted are you to buy the pieces right when they come in?
Natalie: We only accept items we love, so there’s always a strong desire to buy before they hit shelves. My mother and I are a good balance for each other; she loves to shop and I love to sell.

Rue La La: Is there something that always flies off your shelves?
Natalie: The fastest items to sell are Chanel black quilted classic flap bags with gold hardware. They are iconic bags and almost every girl aspires to own one.

Rue La La: What are people asking about most right now?
Natalie: Chanel vintage jewelry. The handbags have always been on their radar, but the jewelry is becoming more and more popular. There was a time when people would only be interested in the classic CC pieces, but the demand is now growing for the more unique Gripoix and vintage jewelry pieces.

Rue La La: What’s on your personal fashion wish list for spring?
Natalie: A pink Hermès Kelly bag. (Ed. note: Ours, too.)

Our Chanel: Picks by A Second Chance Resale Boutique opens Wednesday, March 13, at 11AM ET.

By Rachel Solomon, Associate Creative Director

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March 13, 2013

Meet Executive Chef Shawn Calley of Amuse, the main restaurant at The Essex Resort & Spa in Burlington, Vermont. Before he won over the hearts and appetites of Vermonters, Shawn studied interpersonal communications as an undergraduate in Michigan. Two years in, he made a bold career move to attend culinary school in Pittsburgh, and, as he says, “Haven’t looked back since.” With a passion for flavor and farm-to-table cooking, Shawn strives to bring innovation to every dish. Here, he gives Rue La La an inside look at the limitless opportunities in the life of a head chef, his thoughts on cooking locally, and the trick to the perfect risotto.

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Rue La La: What do you consider your specialty?
Chef Shawn Calley: I love heavy classic French with a modern twist. Taking an old dish and rediscovering the flavors in a new way.

RLL: Is Amuse a French restaurant?
CSC: I wouldn’t call it a French restaurant, but it’s based on classic French style. I like pushing the edge, getting people to try new things. I’m passionate about the local movement. We use as many local proteins as possible. We make all of the sausage and charcuterie in-house.

RLL: Do you work with farmers directly?
CSC: Yes, I deal with about 20 different farmers. For instance, our maple syrup, beef, and the majority of our vegetables are from local Vermont farms. Unfortunately, having cold climates, we can’t be 100% local.

Continue reading “Interview with an Executive Chef: Shawn Calley from Amuse” »

March 7, 2013

Fact: Breathing is one of the most natural, subconscious things our bodies do. But when it comes to meditation, focusing on every inhale and exhale can be a powerful technique – one that keeps you from getting distracted by nagging thoughts and the stress, anxiety, and frustration that accompany them.

Mindful Breathing

To find out just how mindful breathing works, we asked the wellness experts at Canyon Ranch® to give us a few tips.

Find a Comfortable Spot
“It doesn’t matter if you are in a chair, on the couch, or on the floor. Sit wherever you feel the most comfortable. Aim to keep your back as straight as possible; it’s not necessary to sit frozen like a statue, but try not to slouch either. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your neck long and straight.”

Narrow Your Focus
“Mindful breathing is less about altering breath pattern and more about tuning into each inhalation and exhalation as it happens naturally. Once you’re in a comfortable position, close your eyes and inhale. Notice how the oxygen flows into your nose, down your windpipe, and into your lungs, expanding your belly. Observe the slight pause your body takes when you’ve breathed in as much air as you can. Next, focus on your exhale. Notice the warm air as it slowly leaves your lungs through your mouth, and feel your body relax and your abdomen deflate.”

Allow Your Thoughts to Drift Past You
“One of the most difficult parts of meditation is sitting still – both in the body and mind. Distractions are a normal part of the process. When you feel your mind start to wander, refocus attention on breathing. Acknowledge the distraction and then make a conscious effort to let the thought drift away. Visualize stray thoughts as clouds in the sky – you can watch them slowly float by, but don’t reach out and grab them. They are simply there for you to observe.”

Stick with It
“When you first begin a mindfulness meditation practice, try it for short periods of time – between three to five minutes a few times a day. Once you begin to feel more comfortable with the practice, you can adjust the time and frequency to whatever feels right to you.”

Our Canyon Ranch Boutique opens Wednesday, March 6, at 11AM ET.

By Keriann Coffey, Associate Blog Editor

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March 6, 2013

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Visiting the deserts in Sante Fe? Vacationing in the Vineyard? These sandals have your feet covered. From glam wedges perfect for the glitzy Hamptons to boho flats that match L.A.’s free-spirited mindset, it’s time to pack up that suitcase. With these vacation-ready shoes, you’ll fit right in – no matter your destination.

Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Step onto the Kennedy Compound with perfectly preppy, iconic whipstitching that would make even Jackie O proud.

The Hamptons, NY
With metallic leather, this wedge has just enough elevated glamour for those chic Hamptons pool parties.

Palm Beach, FL
What better place to wear a sweet pink version of the Navajo sandal than the home of the original?

Santa Fe, NM
In vibrant orange, the signature rondelles on this flat sandal nail Sante Fe’s Southwestern style.

Los Angeles, CA
This buttery-yet-simple leather sandal is made for laid-back Cali days – just add cutoffs and a carefree attitude.

Seattle, WA
In sunny yellow, this buttery leather moccasin is the perfect way to brighten up daytime in cloudy Seattle.

Our Jack Rogers Boutique opens Friday, February 15, at 11AM ET.

By Keriann Coffey, Associate Blog Editor

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Continue reading “6 Jack Rogers Shoes for 6 American Hot Spots” »

February 15, 2013

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According to the groundhog and the ticking months, ski and boarding season is nearing its end… though you’d never know it if you’re in Boston, where we were just gifted about two feet of snow. So let’s make the most out of these last few months of carving powder – here are a few ideas to get you started.

Hit the mountain solo: It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s hugely relaxing. Forget about waiting for skiers or riders who aren’t at your pace and don’t worry about keeping up if you’re prone to a more leisurely glide.

Ski from sunup to sundown: Trust me – it’s a really long day. But it makes you feel seriously accomplished to say you rode both the first and last lifts of the day when you’re mingling over beers at the lodge.

Play hooky: Don’t tell anyone I encouraged this, but skip school or work one day after it snows to plow through the fresh powder. You’ll feel like a rebel and get some midweek exercise in.

Burn the midnight oil: Night skiing is a very different experience from day skiing, so make sure to give it a try before the season ends. Though the trails are well-lit and fully functional, the missing crowds and peaceful atmosphere make you feel like you’re on your very own mountain.

Now that your list is started, finish it off and hit the slopes. Or, you can always go heli-skiing, too. Our For the Last Run: Ski Jackets & Snow Gear for Women, Men, and Kids Boutiques open Thursday, February 14, at 11AM.

By Abigail Kuzia, Editor

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February 14, 2013

Come mid-February, I’m in dire need of a vacation – with a to-do list that includes enough time to relax, de-stress, and learn something new. Luckily, Lake Austin Spa Resort has more than enough to get my rejuvenation going without abandoning my New Year’s resolutions. Besides the extensive list of mind-body classes, there are spa treatments, cooking demos (I need to work on my pasta-making), and discovery classes (think astronomy and Tarot card reading) to keep me blissfully unaware of the outside world. Now all I need is more time in a week….

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Our Lake Austin Spa Resort – Austin, TX Boutique opens Wednesday, February 6, at 11AM ET.

By Melissa Mann, Staff Writer

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February 6, 2013

Red Carpet

Awards season is officially here, and after last night’s Golden Globes, it’s safe to say it started with a bang. While the night’s top moments belonged to Les Misérables, Ben Affleck’s Argo, and one very glittery Jodie Foster, let’s be honest – the red carpet was the real star of the show. Here are some of my favorite looks:

Claire Danes: The Homeland star looked gorgeous in a bold red Versace gown. Totally flattering and structured in just the right places, this gown made the brand new mom one of the best-dressed of the night. (And yes, you heard right – she’s just a month removed from giving birth.)

Anne HathawayBefore picking up the Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture award, the Les Misérables star arrived in a sparkling white Chanel gown. The sleek, slim-cut shape was femme without frills – a perfect counterpoint to her pixie cut.

Jessica AlbaPerhaps one of the forgotten best-dressed of the night, Jessica Alba showed up in a strapless coral number and a blingy statement necklace. I loved the coloring – with her complexion, she pulled off that coral easily.

Kerry WashingtonIt’s not hard to make the Django Unchained star look beautiful, and when she opted for a neutral Miu Miu & Chopard gown, she reminded us that sometimes simpler is in fact better. Shimmery embellishments and some saucy sheer accents upgraded the straight shape, making the simple gown into something eye-catching.

Some other favorites: Taylor Swift looked surprisingly grown-up in a purple Donna Karan Atelier gown, Olivia Munn aimed for understated in a Giorgio Armani number, and Julianne Hough went all-out with cascading gold studs. After an ultra glamorous night like this, there’s only one thing to say – awards season, I missed you. (Only 41 days until the Oscars!)

By Anna Kuchinsky, Staff Writer

What were your favorite red carpet looks from last night’s show? Share them in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala.

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January 14, 2013

The Vanderbilt Grace Hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, has luxurious living down pat. And the historic mansion’s new culinary experience, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, is a reason to visit in itself, featuring international food and wine with a decidedly New England flair. Here, I caught up with Chef Jonathan on all things Thanksgiving – from cooking the perfect turkey to preparing for the big meal (and even got a recipe for a downright delicious pumpkin soup).

 


Instructions

1. In a thick-bottomed pot, cook the pumpkin, carrot, apple, onion, garlic, and thyme in the butter for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine and cook until it has all evaporated.
2. Add the chicken stock and simmer until all the vegetables are soft, approximately 30 minutes. Blend the soup and strain it. Add the cream and season to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
3. Sear the seasoned scallops in hot olive oil on both sides until golden.
4. Place the seared diver-harvested scallops in a soup plate, cover with the velvety soup.
5. Garnish the soup with some whipped cream, flavored with a little five-spice powder.
6. Sprinkle the top of the soup with some crisp fried ginger strips.

Rue La La: Let’s talk side dishes. What’s your personal favorite holiday dish?
Jonathan Cartwright: Brussels sprouts blanched then cooked with shallots and butter.

Rue La La:  Sounds delicious! You cook for lots of people all the time. What’s the trick to cooking for a big bunch?
Jonathan Cartwright: It helps to be organized and do the preparations in advance.  Also teach your children to help and ask family to make sides or dessert!

Continue reading “Meet the Chef: Jonathan Cartwright of Vanderbilt Grace Hotel” »

November 19, 2012