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The Journal

Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 7

Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 7

Well, it’s fall. That happened fast, didn’t it? 

Even during these strange times, I can’t help but delight in the change in seasons and chance to layer up for warmth with colorful and cozy wardrobe additions. 

And don’t even get me started on the comfort and deliciousness of fall foods... or do! I have a lot to say about it, actually. Fall food makes me think of outdoor entertaining, which is still a thing as far as I’m concerned, and I trust no one more than this icon for advice on how to do this well, and, obviously, easily.

And how to fill an outdoor space with a festive spirit? Have some fun with it – or, as I might say about this British brand – a sense of humour and some spot-on fall colours. I admit, I might be falling for their elevated chintz, and will presently start using the term “crockery.” It’s so much more delightful than, "tableware," and momentarily tricks me into thinking I’ve crossed the pond. 

Speaking of travel, my wanderlust is getting REALLY bad. I am also getting sick of ordering in, which I never thought would happen. This box solves both problems. Who doesn’t love a multipurpose solution!? I’ll tell you who does, this gal.

But honestly, let’s remember there’s still so much to do and enjoy right here in our own backyards. I love being outdoors in New York in the fall – a casual stroll through the park, apple picking, vineyard visiting, or just sitting at one of the rather impressive outdoor restaurant setups around the city. This is one of my favorites, and it may or may not be because they were voted best Negroni in the US.

Even in more normal times, I always feel a bit of pressure to enjoy being outdoors before the weather turns unpleasantly chilly. This sweater is ideal for all the outdoor activities with its coziness, and the extra layer makes it extra chic.

Getting outside means I get to see friends and family. It also means I’ve been wearing a mask A LOT. In an attempt to reverse the, “maskne,” that has set in, I gave this serum a try. It’s been a little over a week, and dare I say I notice a difference?

Another great thing about fall? New AM pajama sets in the coziest, comfiest flannels. They’re coming soon, so start making your holiday gift (or wish!) list.

Until next time,

xxA

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How To Wake Up Refreshed

legs wrapped in bed sheets

LET THE LIGHT IN

My husband likes blackout shades, while I prefer to know I can make my way back from the bathroom in the middle of the night without stubbing my toe. But we both agree that waking up with natural light is the best, least-jarring way to start the day. Be it an alarm clock that mimics the rising sun, or simply keeping your curtains raised an inch, give it a try and see if you come-to feeling more refreshed.

meditation rocks by the ocean

MEDITATE

I know, it's the wellness buzzword du jour. But trust, from this not-morning-person to another, it makes a world of difference. Just sink down to the floor beside your bed and log your 5 minutes before you even brush your teeth. I need training wheels, so I prefer the guidance of an app, but I'm sure some of you can ride with your arms out and your eyes closed.

woman in pajamas holding a cup of coffee

CAFFEINATE

Depending on who wakes up first, either my husband or I make coffee for the sleepyhead still in bed. I like it hot with 2 sugars, he likes it milky and iced. Regardless of your preference, give yourself the time, space and permission to enjoy your ritual beverage before rushing into the day.

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Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 6

Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 6

Follow my tips below for your own at-home Roman Holiday and you’ll go to bed dreaming in Italian. 

A presto! (talk soon!) 

Alessandra

 ***

Start the day like Italians do, with a cappuccino. To prepare your cappuccino in the most Italian way possible, know your ratios. I like a little cocoa dusting on mine. It feels fancy, and guess what, sometimes I like to be fancy.

Turn your living room into a seaside Italian retreat with climbing bougainvillea–a signature of the region. The fuchsia buds create the most cheerful atmosphere and I can’t help but delight in seeing them. This guide shows you how to bring these bright fiori into your space.

Lunch Italian-style is an event unto itself, and on the Amalfi Coast it’s served seaside. I can hear the waves breaking in the background just reading this famed restaurant’s specialties. Using their menu as inspiration, I created this Italian Sangria recipe, guaranteed to transport you seaside instantly.

AM’s Pesche Al Vino, “Da Adolfo” Style

Ingredienti: 

  • a bottle of light wine - red or white, your choice!
  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 1 tbsp sugar (or more to taste)
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice - 1-2 lemons

Preparazione:

Slice the peaches into wedges and place into a large jug. Sprinkle with sugar and toss to coat. You can adjust the sweetness to your liking and to the sweetness of the peaches. Add the lemon juice and let sit uncovered in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the light red or white wine into the jug (nothing too fancy - save that for unadulterated sipping), stir well, and return to the fridge for at least a few hours. The longer you can wait, the better it will taste. Remember to stir before each serving to ensure each glass is perfectly portioned. 

I bet you’re sleepy now–go ahead and indulge in a siesta on a shaded lounge, err, couch. When you wake up in a haze and a bit parched, this recipe works wonders to ensure you enjoy the remainder of the day – with or without the limoncello.

Take a nice, refreshing shower and don something that shows off your sun-kissed skin because it’s aperitivo time! This is one of my favorite Italian traditions. Savory snacks and sweet, citrusy cocktails magically combine to prepare your palate for dinner–don’t ask me how that works, but trust me, it does. I like to keep the snacks light, a mix of olives and sea-salted potato chips works so I don’t ruin my appetite–but this is your vacation, so hoard those chips if that’s what you want to do!

Should you decided to turn the aperitivo into more of an event - outdoors and socially-distant, of course - take some inspiration from the many bitter cocktail options combined with these olives and cichetti (pronounced chee-ke-tee) and serve up a cocktail party that’s whisks your guests away to Italy with you.

Live La Dolce Vita, and enjoy!

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Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 5

Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 5

Let’s try something new, shall we? My friends Debbie and Chelsea road tripped cross country for Chelsea’s job relocation from Chicago to Seattle. I bet you’re thinking of hitting the road this summer too. So, to help you out, I invited them to give you some pro-tips for road trips. 

Ladies, take it away.

*** 

My wife and I drove 30 hours and just over 2,000 miles with a bunch of houseplants, a bicycle trainer, and our sourdough starter. If you don’t need to bring your houseplants, your trainer and your sourdough starter, don’t – it’s kind of a pain. But here are the useful things we brought, and some things we learned along the way.

1. Get a plug in car cooler.

My road trip guilty pleasures are egg white Egg McMuffins and as many barbecue potato chips as I can eat. Unfortunately, a pandemic is not the time to stop at roadside eateries or convenience stores, so we packed a 12v plug in car cooler full of food. It was the number one smartest thing we bought for the trip.

A few cans of tuna, some peanut butter, trail mix and these sweet bites of manna rounded out our car food. Seriously, get on that spring mix. And don’t forget to bring along a sharp knife, utensils, a roll of paper towels and some sharing bowls. Upcycled empty cottage cheese and yogurt containers work great (Alessandra would like to mention that she would have color-coordinated glass containers at the ready, but to each their own).

2. Plan your caffeine.

My wife is serious about her coffee, and most hotel coffee is brown acid water, so I got us “coffee tea bags” like these. We are a little high maintenance and brought our own electric kettle, but don’t do that. Most hotels have in-room coffee machines, so sanitize the surface with an alcohol or bleach wipe, then go ahead and brew some hot water. 

3. Plan your happy hour.

After a long, kind of stressful day of pandemic road tripping, you’ll want to unwind. For us, that means having a glass of wine. Going to a hotel bar was off limits, so we unapologetically traveled with a box of Trader Joes Cabernet Sauvignon. Shatter-proof packaging, a great bang for your buck, and, the internet agrees, it’s not bad at all

4. Stay hydrated.

Fill up one of these because water fountains are shut off right now and you don’t want to fill your water bottle in a rest stop bathroom. Also, fizzy water helps keep me awake, so we had some cans floating around the car too.

5. In Your Lodging:

You know the drill–wipe down high-touch surfaces and wear your mask when you’re in the public areas. My biggest recommendation here is to trust your gut. We pulled into a hotel in Idaho that was busting at the seams with mask-less bar-hoppers – we did not end up staying there. 

6. On the Road:

Download your maps! You never know when you’ll lose reception and you don’t want to go in anywhere to ask for directions. Download your playlists too, because in that dead, arid stretch of North Dakota you’ll be sad and bored without your music. 

7. Road Clothes:

Comfy and cozy without looking schlubby, that’s my m.o. I like moisture wicking pieces that don’t wrinkle, like these

And Chelsea literally does not travel anywhere without this. No joke, and it’s not just because Alessandra is our friend. The blanket is the perfect size for traveling, and sometimes she even wears it as a shawl. It’s like a little bit of home when we’re on the road.

Bonus: Final Thoughts

It was hard passing points of interest and cute little towns without stopping–that’s usually the best part of a road trip. But remember, road tripping right now is about getting from point A to point B safely and with as little impact as possible on the places you’re driving through. Keep a list of all those great places you wanted to stop – it’ll make post-pandemic travel plans easier and give you something to look forward to. 

Debbie holding a sandwich and Chelsea eating off the trunk of their car during their cross-country road trip

car full of plants, suitcases and food during a road trip

Debbie (out of frame) and Chelsea (in frame), and their (PACKED!!) car during their cross country road trip.

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Cozy Cashmere is Back

Cozy Cashmere is Back

We created the Cozy Set make you feel at home, wherever you are. To us, home means familiarity, comfort and security. It also means a hint of I’m-worth-it indulgence, so we knew we were going with cashmere for this one. 

We partnered with a family-run mill with over 60 years in the industry to bring you this luxurious cashmere. Generations of milling expertise ensure that cocooning yourself in it feels like being held safely in the warm, soft hug of a loved one. It also ensures the longevity we stand by, since the extra-long fibers in this cashmere resist pilling, while masterful knitting gives each piece strength and integrity for years to come.

Initially we envisioned these pieces as a travel set, to help bring the comfort of home with you no matter where you traveled. But with work/home boundaries getting so blurry during these WFH days, we see value in offering you a way to separate the two in your own space. Leave it to the hard edges of things to keep you awake and alert for work and let the soft, inviting embrace of our Cozy Set remind you that there is still a home in your house.

Shop the Cozy Set here and make yourself at home.

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Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 4

Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 4

For this edition of Things To Do In Quarantine (or TTDIQ), I give you a list focused entirely on the art of creating a delightfully chic, safe, and socially distant picnic. From what to bring, to what to eat, and (of course) what to wear, these tips work in the park, on the beach, or in the middle of your living space. 

1) The Picnic Basket. I’ve been on a never ending quest for one that is both large and durable enough, yet not awkward to carry. Extra points for one that’s easy to clean and pretty, too! Enter this number that is somehow all of the above. And, of course, you can use any bag big enough that won’t fall apart if it gets wet.

2) I don’t love the feeling of sitting in the grass and getting up with a soggy bottom, so I do love this mat that rolls up neatly and can be carried on the shoulder and not take up precious space in the basket. Now you have a chic, dry place to park it. 

3) I’m a reusable to-go dinnerware advocate. Between the scores of charming options out there and the many service items you probably already own, there’s really no reason to buy anything disposable. Here’s what I’ve got in my basket:

Glasses - These fluted, stackable glasses come in two sizes, and the many colors help ensure you always know which one is yours so you don’t unintentionally commingle germs. 
Plates - I’m big on nostalgia, and these melamine plates deliver. A bonus delight is watching the a-ha moment when someone realizes they’re not actually paper.
Napkins - I love this tea towel set. It’s a fun, modern take on the classic picnic check, and generously sized to take care of any emergency spills. And if utensils are required, I just wrap them up in these towels so they stay together and don’t clank around in the basket.
Beverage Cooler - Fill the largest size S’well bottle (25 oz.) with your drink of choice. Stays cold forever, no condensation, SO EASY!
 

4) The perfect picnic lunch? Something you pick up at the store, of course! I mean, haven’t you cooked enough? This is supposed to be a break for goodness’ sake. My favorite: an Italian-style antipasto situation.  

5) Ambience is important. The speaker on my phone is fine in a pinch, but the tinny sound that it projects can ruin a perfectly good playlist. This portable nugget is Scandinavian design at its best.

6) What to wear during this picnic, you ask? This frothy concoction transitions breezily from day to night. Pair it with one of these, a pair of these and your favorite set to snuggle into on cool summer nights and you’ve got yourself a capsule summer collection that’s ready for anything.

7) Other must-haves for a safe, socially distant picnic include, but are not limited to:  

A MASK!! Please don’t think it doesn’t make a difference. It very much does. It’s our duty to protect each other and this is the easiest way to do that. 
A HAT!! Let’s keep those fine lines and melasma at bay, shall we? Also, does anyone else find it challenging to layer a mask and sunglasses?
SUNSCREEN!! I’m very excited to try this new brand by an athlete I have long-admired. Chalky, sticky sunscreen, be gone! 
SUNGLASSES!! An added layer of protection that sends love everywhere you look. 
HAND SANITIZER!! I prefer the spray to the gel for it’s quick drying properties and versatility (I use it on my phone, keys, etc). Whatever your preference, make sure it’s always at the ready.

 

So get out there, keep your distance from others, soak up some relaxing vibes and come back refreshed and ready to get back to work!

Love,
Alessandra

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Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 3

Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 3

Another day, another quarantine extension. Does anyone else miss social interactions that don't involve a sidewalk?

Here we are, descending the curve and heading into summer, and I thought it was an ideal time for my latest and greatest tips for making quarantine a bit better.

Without further ado, Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol.3!

1) I'm verging on desperate for things to do that don't involve a screen. That said, watching these singles on a beach in Mexico is a gift from the quarantine gods (and Netflix). The "voiceover of reason" is primarily why I found it so delightfully amusing.

2) As a person who is sick of sitting and starting to experience what I can only assume are premature middle-aged aches (my knees can't stay bent for a extended periods of time), this short and sweet routine is much appreciated and does not require a change of clothes.

3) As many of you know, I got my fashion start at Ralph Lauren, but way before that, I was an immense fan of the Polo Bear (Martini Bear was my favorite). This coloring book feels nostalgic and the act of coloring (or watercoloring if you're like me) is incredibly soothing. I feel silly pointing out that it's also great for kids.

4) Speaking of soothing, these meditation breaks at 3pm help me reset during the afternoon slump. I don't do them every day, but when I do, it's a quick 5-minute meditation followed by Q&A of how to stay sane in this craziness. I will happily take helpful info from a meditation expert like MOBY, wouldn't you?

5) When calm and quiet just isn't doing the trick, knock something over! Playing this game in giant size makes me feel like a kid, with the giant-ness making the destruction potential even more satisfying. Anything I can customize to my interior, entertains me and supports a maker is a win-win-win.

That wraps up Vol. 3! Keep your comments coming! I love hearing from you.

Stay safe and stay home, and don't forget the sunscreen.

Love,

Alessandra

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Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol.2

Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol.2

1) For the adventurers who are starting to twitch, these classroom sessions do temporarily satiate my wanderlust. It's as if you're dreaming of a vacation but you're awake. 

2) It turns out that I absolutely do not have a green thumb. I have murdered - or maybe plantslaughtered? - the green things I brought home last month. I figure this hilariously titled book is sure to rectify my horticulturally challenged-ness.

3) This incredible house has earned a spot on my vision board.

4) The "Lipstick Effect" is in full effect with this chic compact. Organic ingredients, personalization and it's French, bien sûr! 

5) I made these because why the {expletive} not? Added chocolate and berry sauces for dunking which pair very nicely with the cinnamon sugar dusting. Plus, the kneading is highly therapeutic. Careful you don't overdo it.

That's a wrap for Vol. 2 of, "Things To Do In Quarantine!" Keep your thoughts coming - I love hearing from you! And if there is anything in particular you'd like to see next week, let me know by replying to this email.

Stay safe, and stay home.

Love,
Alessandra

P.S. The links included here are purely recommendations, we do not receive any compensation if you click or purchase at this time.

 

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Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 1

Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 1

Alessandra, here. I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe in this unprecedented time. 

In these past weeks, in addition to getting used to our new normal and emptying the dishwasher, I wondered how AM could use its limited resources make a difference in our beloved New York that has been so hard hit by COVID-19. Last week, we donated leftover fabric to our NYC factory to aid their efforts to (safely) make and donate masks to local medical professionals. We are so happy and proud to be a part of this endeavor along with other NY designers. It's inspiring how we have all come together to help however we can.

I also want to be helpful to all of you, to provide some inspiration, happiness and a sense of community in a time that can seem quite bleak and lonely. And so, without further ado, I give you, "Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 1!"

Expect to read about how I keep my shower clean-ish and other things I have found to make my days a little brighter.

Please note: I will NOT suggest that you make a piñata from scratch which I actually read recently and was marginally offended by the assumption that I would do such a thing. My lists will have much lower barriers to entry.

 

Things To Do In Quarantine, Vol. 1


1) My husband takes VERY HOT showers, and to limit the need for scrubbing, I decided to try this daily shower spray. I have used it for a week and it seems to keep the soap scum (and mold) at bay. It also smells delightful. 

2) We've been trying to expand our go-to's, but we can't help but keep going back to this recipe. It's fantastic, but even better the next day (hello, leftovers!). I also find his son adorably entertaining.

3) Those who know me know how much I ADORE going to school, and there is no time like the present to learn something new, amiright? I thought this was a fantastic list of free options to keep boredom at bay.

4) I desperately want to add to my pathetic collection of table linens but I suffer greatly from indecision, so instead I'm going to order an issue of this magazine to satisfy my desire for color and pattern.

5) Finally, for all the moms with young, needy children, I would like to prescribe a nightly Negroni as made by Michelangelo in Positano. It might sound weird at first, but just try it. I promise it will make your day.


That's it for Vol. 1 of "Things To Do In Quarantine!" I would love to hear from you with any thoughts or comments or tips or tricks you've employed to stay sane. A trick for not having to iron cloth napkins would be MUCH appreciated. Email us at hello@alessandramackenzie.com.

Stay safe and stay home.

 

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A Note From Our CEO

Dear AM Family, 

I hope this finds you and your loved ones well in the midst of this very strange reality. We are so grateful for you, our loyal AM supporters, and are thinking of you and your families at this time. 

I wanted to take a moment to update you on what we are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The safety of everyone who works for us and with us is our number one priority.

We have checked in with our factories in NYC and LA, and they are safe and well.

Our team is working remotely, and will continue to work to bring you uplifting, inspiring content and some exciting new products this summer. We are doing our best to find a new normal in a world that is far from it.

We have donated fabric to our NYC factory to aid in their efforts to safely make PPE for medical workers on the front lines. We would like to do more to help those who need it most, and so we are donating 10% of all orders directly to God's Love We Deliver. 

We hope this brings some happiness and inspiration to our wonderful community during this unprecedented time. 

Sending love,

Alessandra

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