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11.30.2015

Cyber Monday Sales

Cyber Monday Deals + Sales
On this Cyber Sales Monday, I thought I'd share some treasured, must-have items in my kitchen that make cooking and entertaining efficiently seamless. Gifting such essential items would make any hosts' time in the kitchen more of a pleasurable experience, instead of a dreadful one. 

1. Le Creuset Cast-Iron French Oven this classic beauty has served my family and friends numerous amounts of delicious soups and boeuf bourguignon. It certainly is the perfect gift for the cook or chef in your circle. Its colorful beauty sitting on the stove inspires more cooking. 

2. Kitchen Aide Stand Mixer. Is one of the greatest additions in my kitchen. I've been whipping all kinds of flavored whipped cream around here. Think of bourbon espresso.

3. Candles are always a great idea. Especially, well-crafted ones that smell heavenly as in this one, the tobacco bark and my current favorite scent gifted from a friend.

4. Champagne Saver Topper any item that can keep champagne bubbles in and is a no-spill         pourer - makes it the best gift ever!

5. Corkscrew Kit is a gift that has me thanking my friend with a huge smile every time I use it, even after several years later.

6. Le Creuset Cafe Stoneware French Press. Though my Bodum has been serving us well, I'm crushing on the beauty of these colorful ones.

7. Reversible Grill & Griddle make either pancakes or grilling sausages a cinch.

8. Copper roasting Pan with Rack is now on sale* - making it the perfect opportunity to score one this year.

9. State Slate Cheeseboard. Oh, how fun! A little bit more interesting than my current plain one.

10. Juice Squeezer Set (on sale). I make fresh citrus juice for my cocktails or cooking, and these come in so handy when I don't want to pull out my electric juicer.


*Sur La Table Sale is one of my ultimate go-to stores for kitchen gadgets and with all the sales right now, I'm nervous that I might go overboard.
Use code: SAVEBIG for 20% off clearance sale (ends today).
 Orders over $59 Ship Free - use code: SHIPFREE at checkout.

If you're looking for some idea inspirations of what to give, check out my gift picks (make sure to click on the side arrow to continue to the next page) + gift guides here.


11.25.2015

DIY Fur Lampshade Makeover

DIY.WestElm.Source Kudu Table Lamp.Makeover.Before+After
I rarely say that I'm obsessed with anything, but when it comes to plush soft to the touch fabrics such as fur, I will admit that word appropriately describes my love for this material for its ability to bring a sense of glam and elegance to a space instantly. I can proudly say that I am obsessed with the rich, lush sophistication that it adds to a space. For instance, take these lamps. I recently paired the one I had for a couple of years with its sister on my sofa table, but for some unfortunate reason, one shade is a brighter white than the other shade which in comparison, makes it look like an unbecoming eggshell hue. This, of course, drove me slightly insane every time I came down the stairs and saw them. Additionally, I've always felt that the shades fell flat and needed something as stately as the base, so I decided to update them and detract from their color variances by covering them in none other than some luxuriously plush faux fur fabric.

11.17.2015

Vintage Suitcase Repurposed to Side Table

A side table is an integral piece in the success of a well-decorated space. It's an accent piece that improves the functionality of any room by adding extra surface space for holding drinks, displaying vignettes of favorite things, such as current reading bookscandlesflower arrangements. Of course, the extra storage space it provides is an added hidden bonus. While I could have gone shopping and brought home a side table for my sofa, I opted to re-purpose one of my old vintage suitcases for an instant side table simply by adding a chrome butler's stand to elevate it off the floor for a uniquely stylish end table. I just love the charming imagery the old vintage suitcase evokes - that of well-traveled adventures of yesteryear.

11.13.2015

Grateful Moments


1. My traditional pie game for my girls' night in.

Happy Friday! What's on your agenda for this weekend? My ideal dream weekend right now would be to spend it in bed, catching up on reading that I've fallen very behind on and lazily lounging around listening to music or watching a favorite movie or two, but the reality of it will be completely the opposite. It is already a packed one with mandatory events and a scheduled to-do list to get closet space and guest room ready for out of town company arriving in about a weeks time. While I may not get to have my ideal weekend, I plan on staying in the good moments of my week that I enjoyed.

2. The best lovely surprise gift from a girlfriend and my newest favorite fragrance (a similar scent of this pink grapefruit).

3. A great afternoon walk through the beauty of the Autumn leaves at the neighborhood park.

4. An ordinary tin of butter cookies that got a touch of glam for a memorable luncheon get-together. 

5. Those moments when you stroll in to the supermarket and get that instant comforting feeling that it's fall!


11.12.2015

70s Inspired Fall Fashion Edit List


70s inspired fall fashion 2015 monthly edit list
I could not be happier for the resurgence of the 70s retro silhouettes and colors that are back in style right now. I love everything about that throwback vibe – from bell bottoms, rich plaid, and earth tones to flare jeans. What I mostly like about this trend is how a nice pair of flare jeans when paired with my heels or platform shoes can elongate my petite frame - making me appear taller in an instant. It's no wonder that currently my fall mood is for the 70s inspired fashion and luxurious textures from faux fur, oversized ponchos, classic plaids, flare jeans, winter white jeans, bow blouses (an old uniform) to ribbed turtlenecksstack pave bling, dark red lips, slouched camel booties and new scents for the home. I'm also definitely getting my hands on my first ever parka this year and last but not least, a necessary pair of sophisticated tartan touch sensitive tech gloves.




11.11.2015

How to Host a Wine & Cheese Party


How-To: Host-A-Wine-And-Cheese-Party

There's nothing I love more than entertaining and making my friends feel special. In an age where true genuine friends are extremely hard to come by, I cherish those in my intimate circle even more and love to let them feel that when they come over. The bonus of course is seeing the reaction when their eyes land on how I set things up for them – the surprised expressions never fail to make me happy. Though this night was just an easy: “hey, I want to come over and hang out…no need to make food… kind of night”, my ‘I have to have something to offer my guests when they walk in’ manners just could not let me wait till they got here to order food. So I proceeded to arrange a few things for their enjoyment, which morphed into a full cheese platter with wine and bubbly to celebrate their trek to our place in the city.  Nothing signals a great party like a table arrayed with lit candles, a well-arranged cheese board and bottles of wine.

How-to: Host A Wine And Cheese Party

How-To: Host A Wine And Cheese Party

A well-assembled cheese plate can be the perfect appetizer before a casual dinner with friends or a perfect complement to the dessert course at a formal dinner. It's a great simple entertaining idea for a night that you'd like to have friends over, but your not up to being in the kitchen cooking. This is my process of how I determine what will be included on my platter: First, visual interest is very important to me, so when I buy cheese, I select a wide range of flavors and textures (from creamy and buttery to salty) in a mix of shapes and colors. So as to avoid overwhelming my guests and my cheese board arrangement, I typically keep my selections down to three but will increase it to four at the most if I know that one of my guests has a preference of cheese that I usually don't include in the mix.

1. Serving Equipment: 
It varies on my crowd and whether or not it’s going to be a formal or casual affair. It could be a slate, marble or wooden board. But any of these accommodate three to four cheeses perfectly, depending on the size of the cheese.
 
2. Cheese Assortment:
Hard Cheese: Aged Gouda, Manchego or Jarlsberg cheese
Soft Cheese: Brie (one of my faves!). This time around, I went with Boursin cheese (the garlic and fine herb variety) in lieu of my usual Gorgonzola and/or Goat cheese.

3. Style presentation:
Since you eat with your eyes first, a well-assembled cheese board is imperative. I place the cheese first, each one with its own knife. Then I start to build the accompaniments around the cheese. I love the look of a mix of grape clusters, dried apricots, pomegranates, strawberries for a pop of red, toasted walnuts (that I tossed with a drizzle of maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil, couple of pinches of smoked truffle salt and smoked paprika – toasted in the oven on 400 degrees for 12 minutes), crispy crackers, apricot preserves, cured meats and a mix of green and black olives. Finishing touches like sprigs of herbs and pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top of some cheese blocks will make your plate that much more attractive.
How-To: Host A Wine And Cheese Party
Ultimately, the success of any party is sending your guests home with a nice reminder of a lovely time by making them feel special and included in the conversations.

P.S. Find more ideas here.

11.10.2015

Sizzling Seasonal Sales Alert Top Picks


Sizzling Seasonal Sales Alert Top Picks
The sales around this time of year bring back memories of going shopping back in the day with my old bestie. Our shopping spree would slowly start right around this time and go full force from Black Friday till February. We would excitedly hunt for all of our favorite key items that we had anxiously been waiting to get at a much better deal, all the while hoping that they’d still have our sizes. This would be a whole day affair that culminated in a victory dinner at one of our favorite restaurants afterwords. She somehow was always able to score the better deals though and our evening conversations would include me lamenting how I should have bought this or that or feeling buyer's remorse for paying full price (regrettably, most things that I like rarely ever seem to go on sale). And when I’d leave the item and say to myself, 'I’ll wait till it goes on sale', the stores would either be out of it or what’s left would never be in my size.  Eventually, we both realized from all of our shopping excursions together, that it wasn’t the wisest choice for me to leave any favorite items that weren’t on sale behind as I was never fortunate enough to find them again. So when I did find something that I truly loved, she would say to me “you better buy it, you know you won’t find it again”.  Today as an ode to a very nostalgic time, I’d like to feature the top favorite stores that always made our shopping list and my favorite picks from each one.

Anthropologie | Get 20% off full-priced tops and sweaters using code TOPITOFF at checkout
Banana Republic | Extra 40% off sale sales styles exclusively online using code BRSALE + free shipping on $50 orders
Bloomingdales | 25% off friends and family sale from 11/8 - 11/15 using code HOLIDAY at checkout // Loyallists get $25 rewards card for every $100 spent + free shipping (no minimum) on online orders now thru 12/22

Express | Now thru Wednesday get $25 off every $100 you spend using code 1351. Also, buy 1 get 1 50% off everything + free shipping on orders over $125
J.Crew | Extra 30% off fall sale styles in stores and online using code GETSHOPPING + $5 flat rate shipping or free shipping on orders over $150.

J.Crew Factory | Extra 35% off for online purchase using code YOUWIN + free shipping on orders over $100
Macy*s | 20% off your purchase using code VETDAY // $10 off your $25 purchase or more using code VETDAY25 or get extra 25% off online clearance styles + free shipping with $75 purchase
NordstromUp to 40% off on favorite styles + free shipping (no minimums) and free returns now thru 11/15 
Nordstrom Rack | Major clearance (no code needed) + free shipping over $100 with easy 90 day returns
Old Navy | 30% off your online order (no code needed) + free shipping on orders of $35 or more using code FREEBIE


11.09.2015

Mad for Plaid and Leopard


Navy Lace Top (similar here, here and here) // Zara Skirt (similar here, here and here) // Balenciaga bag // Leopard Heels (old; similar) // Necklace (a great optional alternative or this and this) // "Napa Vineyard" Lip Color

Personally, I associate plaid with coziness. Think of being in your softest to the touch PJ’s, sitting on a plush rug on the floor by a crackling fireplace while listening to your favorite seasonal tunes softly playing in the background.  This fabric is my seasonal comfort style much like a pumpkin spice latte with coconut milk is to me during this time of year. Basically, I’m mad for plaid.

Naturally, anytime I come across an amazing plaid piece like this skirt I picked up at Zara over two weeks ago, I fall for it immediately (no pun intended). What I love most about this skirt besides the red and black plaid print, are the waist buttons and how the skirt flares out. The way it billows makes me feel free. Its equal parts preppy and modern style makes it a great seasonal update to my wardrobe that will team well with my high heel boots and turtlenecks for many fall and winter seasons to come.


11.06.2015

Grateful Moments: Fall Touches Around Here Lately

1. These apples have been permeating our home with such aroma - a reminder of our new fall tradition

Whenever you require a run to the massage therapist for a mid-week manipulation, you can imagine what kind of a week it must have been. In spite of how the week went, I’m grateful for several things. For one thing, I got some issues that weighed heavily on my mind ironed out finally. Second, I survived a presentation that had me in a trembling tizzy. But ultimately, as I ponder over how the week went, I ask myself a question that I really should ask more often, but never really take the time to do which is ‘What have I learned?’
2. A glimpse of the touch of red and burnt orange pumpkins from my desk always brings joy to my heart.
3. These pumpkins spread throughout our terrace are like happy rays of sunshine under a dark bridge.

The lesson I learned this week is this: (though it’s really nothing new, but a very important reminder nonetheless given the end result of how things turned out for the best) no matter how difficult it is to deal with the hurt and pain that arise when you’re a victim of mistreatment or unfairness, it’s best to keep your composure rather than letting uncontrolled anger cause you to take action that you’ll later regret. First, analyze the situation all the while remembering that paying back injury for injury by lashing out will just make matters worse and accomplish nothing.  How about you? Do you ever take the time at the end of each week to ask yourself: ‘what lesson have I learned?’ I appreciate how that simple question forces me to assess how much or how little I’ve grown to be a better individual.
4. I love the glow the candles inside the lanterns cast against the skin of these pumpkins in the evening.
5. So grateful for these fall touches around here lately.

I couldn't think of a more appropriate time to spend some one-on-one time with a girlfriend this weekend. She loves to laugh and lots of laughter is the exercise I need right now. Have a wonderful relaxing weekend. 

11.05.2015

Ten Fall Must-Have Ankle Boots: My Kind of Flats


I’ve always known that I’m a shoe addict, but not once has it ever dawned on me that other people notice my shoes much, until recently when two people, including a waitress at one of my favorite local restaurants made the comment that she always notices my shoes when I go there. I mean, old time friends I grew up with picked up on my love for heels because back then, most of them were constantly in their doctor martens, combat boots or sneakers while I was in either lace-up booties (like these), wedges or heels.  I can see how that obviously would have made me stand out. It was not because I intentionally wanted to get attention- I just wear what makes me feel the best. Plus, I’m more into details. I love how details, whether it’s in d├ęcor or fashion, instantly elevate a look. And shoes are the perfect embellishment to any outfit. It's like the cherry on top or the icing on the cake as you will. That’s why I couldn’t agree more with Christian Louboutin when he said that, “shoes transform your body language and attitude. They lift you physically and emotionally.”  And I can attest to this as fact. Now, this attitude isn’t referring to an air of arrogance, but more like confidence.

I know when I put on a pair of flats, not only does it hurt my feet, but I often trip and stumble in them and feel so awkward when I walk. Flats tend to make me walk on my tippy toes, which we can all agree isn't at all attractive - unless, you're a ballerina to which I'm not. So the closest things to flats you’ll most likely find me in are comfortable ankle boots. They're my go-to for running errands whenever I want to give my legs and heels a break. These are a few of them that are ranking high on my shopping list this fall. Sweeter yet, they're all on SALE!

1. Carlos by Carlos Santana Suede Boots
2. Western-inspired Fringe Ankle Booties 
3. Chinese Laundry Peep-Toe Slouchy Booties
4. Belted Booties
5. Jessica Simpson Western Fringe Booties
6. Madden Girl Hunttz Ankle Booties
7. Lucky Brand EHLLEN Booties
8. Guess Hardley Pointed-Toe Booties 
9. Nine West Ivy Suede Booties
10. Tahari Fringe Booties

See more of my favorites here.

11.04.2015

DIY: Roaring 20s Flapper Feather Headband Hair Clip

DIY-Great-Gatsby-Roaring 20s-Flapper-Feather-Headband-Hairclip-Before+After

As promised, I will now show you how I made my flapper girl roaring 20s feather headband for the Great Gatsby party I attended two weekends ago. It’s really a no brainer DIY that I simply put together in less than fifteen minutes. When I went shopping for a dress, I saw several different feather headband styles that didn’t come close to the one I had my heart set on (in look 3) or would fit the look that I was after. But once, I purchased the dress, I decided that I was going to make my own headband instead with items I already had lying around in my crafts arsenal. The only new item I needed to buy was the feathers. The key to achieving the 1920s look is by going bold and over the top, which is right up my alley. Think large glittering headpieces that can be embellished with or without a large feather. Since my dress already stood out with its beautiful intricate detailing, I went with an in-between creation for my headband as I wanted it to complement the outfit, not overpower it. I combined a black feather hair clip atop of a white feather that I cut down (yet kept tall enough for a bit of exaggeration) and glued it to my glittering black headband topped with an old crystal pin that I had sitting in my jewelry-making drawer. But if it’s way too out there for your taste, you can always go with an elegant crystal hair comb like this one, this one or this one. Alternatively, for a touch of understated sparkle, you can add an old sparkling broche to a glittering headband.  




What you'll need:  

·        Glittering headband
·        1 white feather + 1 black feather (or any of your choice) hair clip to clip on the headband
·        Crystal embellishment (could be anything that strikes your fancy or already own)
·        Felt
·       E6000 adhesive
·      Scissors



Step 1:
I clipped the small black feather hair clip on to my headband. Then I cut down my large white feather to the size that I wanted and added a little drop of glue inside the clip in the back before I place it inside the two sides of the clip, I than applied pressure for a few seconds. 


Step 2:
Cut a round piece of felt (I would have much preferred black, but I used what I had on hand) and glue right over where the clip (in this case – a hard plastic) sits on your hair just to keep it from pulling on your hair or pressing into your scalp.



Step 3:
Finally, I applied some glue on the back of my crystal pin and pressed it right in the center of the black feather for an added touch of sparkle and let it dry overnight.
For a faux bob, I simply tucked my hair under after curling it and secured it with several bobby pins. Then I slid my headband right over the top.



Next: I’ll share my rookie makeup process for that evening which moved my hubby’s eyes to look at me as if I was a different person. And when I asked him “what’s that look? You don’t like it?” He said: “I’m just not used to you with makeup on. You don’t need it.” His usual response for those rare occasions when I do put on more makeup than my usual barely there makeup face. 

11.03.2015

Favorite Links Around The Web

Favorite Links Around The Web

1. The most insightful 15 facts about France and French people I've read.

2. I prefer this explanation of why I sometimes lack concentration and am forgetful.

3. This must-see video confirms all my fears of living in the mountains. The ending is the best!

4. I'm in love with everything about this fall fashion edit.






11.02.2015

Flapper Girl of The Roaring 20s

Flapper Embellished Fringe Dress // Long Crystal Earrings (similar herehere and here) // Glitter pumps (similar hereherehere and here) // Clutch (similar)

One of my top favorite movies is the Great Gatsby – the one with Robert Redford in it. Suffice to say, I was enthused when my friend mentioned to me that she was going to throw a theme party based on the movie. It married both of my favorite things: glamming up and channeling an era I dream of having lived in. However, the invite to my friend’s party happened to also be during one of my busiest months, trying to juggle so many projects at once.  So of course, being so preoccupied with all that I had going on, I sort of pushed shopping for my attire for the event to the background.  It wasn’t until I got a reminder for the upcoming party, that I realized I only had a week left to place the order for look three on my Gatsby inspired fashion list. Obviously, by the time I was ready to order the selections I wanted to wear, they no longer had the dress or the shoes in my size, and even if they did, I was told that they would not have arrived on time in the mail. Now I had to figure out plan B at this point – leaving me running around the city, scouring different costume shops, trying to find a dress similar to the one I envisioned wearing. Sadly, they either were exorbitantly pricey or were nowhere to be found. Finally, down to the wire and having only one day to do all my shopping - after much frustration, I despondently settled on this dress choice because the gorgeous detailing stood out to me and it was the only one that fit me well. (Which by the way, these dresses apparently come in extraordinarily small sizes. I’m wearing a XXXL here). I ended up making my own flapper headband (the DIY post soon to follow) the night before  the party and rounded out my flapper girl ensemble with just the right details, such as long crystal earrings, sparkly pumps, clutch, a multi-strand crystal bracelet (really like this one) topped with a fur shawl that once belonged to my mother-in-law. All in all, it turned out to have been an extraordinary night spent with beloved friends under the stars.


Great Gatsby Flapper Girl of The Roaring 20s




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