Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing in the New Year

photo via Vintage Culture

Thank you for a wonderful 2009!
I wish each of you a happy and healthy 2010!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reindeer Games

Before I finished packing, I had to show you what I chose to wear for this year's holiday festivities.

No red and green this year. Instead, my own gift guide heavily influenced my decision to purchase J.Crew's antler tissue tee to pair with a full black skirt. (I wish I took a detail shot of the skirt - it has a subtle plaid pattern woven into the material.)

Happy Holidays!

Shirt: J.Crew; Earrings: J.Crew; Skirt: Ann Taylor; Shoes: Nine West

To Grandmother's House I Go

photo via Martha Stewart

With an impending mix of snow, rain and ice on the radar for Christmas Eve, I've moved up my travel plans to trek across Wisconsin today. I'm planning to spend a week at my parents' house with (*gasp*) dial-up Internet, so I hope you understand why I won't be posting or commenting from Wisconsin's north woods.

I hope you all have wonderful holidays and safe travels! Thank you for making 2009 such a lovely first year in blogging for me!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Santa Came Early

Last night my boyfriend and I exchanged Christmas presents. Partly because we won't see each other on Christmas day, and partly because we're just too darn excited about seeing each other open gifts.

He did incredibly well this year and I'm thrilled with the thought he put into each gift. But I just have to share my glee over one particular item:

It's a buffalo bone and malachite bracelet from Bougainvillea Boutique. I'll post proper outfits with it soon!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Light as a Feather

I spent the majority of the day breezing through my to-do list. It didn't come without its share of stress, but soft unstructured layers helped me stay relaxed at the office. Well, that and a large cup of coffee.

Necklace: J.Crew; Cardigan: Banana Republic; Feather-Print Cami: Forever21; Ring: Forever21; Skirt: Banana Republic; Tights: Target; Suede Booties: Nine West

Holiday Gift Guide: The Little One

Family traditions are my favorite part of the holidays, including starting on the cocktails a little too early in the day, chattering through the buffet-style meal, and taking family photos in front of the Christmas tree. But I know there's one tradition my young cousins do not approve of: waiting until after dinner to open gifts. They anxiously wait all afternoon, curiously eyeing the presents to see which ones have their names on the tags. (Admittedly, I'll give them each a gift to open early in the day - I'm a bad influence, I know.) Here are some gift ideas for the children on your list.

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Moncalin, Pink & Melon Plush Toy, $65
Petit Tresor, Nutcracker Suite Dolls, $12/each
Skip Hop Funky Farmyard, Squeak & Rattle Bunny Mirror, $12.99
A Pink Princess, Light Up Fairy Wand, $12.95
IZ Byer California, Tutu Skirt, $19.60 (on sale)
Hohner, Bluesband Harmonica, $6.50
Wisteria, Derby Critters, $39/set of six
Charm, Jacky Rocking Giraffe, $115
BRIO, 50 Piece Natural Wooden Block Set, $13.98 (on sale)
Tiny Transportation, Trio Airplane, $25
Ohio Art, Etch-a-Sketch, $16.46
Slinky, Slinky, $8
Wisteria, Felt Bird, $8.40 (on sale)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: The Sportsman

The men on my Christmas list just aren't fashionable - they're Wisconsin men who spend their weekends in the woods or tinkering with tools. Here are some gift ideas that they would appreciate this holiday season.

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Filson, Bridle Leather & Stainless Steel Hip Flask, $67.50
Oooms, Wooden USB Stick, $79.80 (on sale)
Arno Bernard, Knife with a Giraffe Bone Handle, $152.07*
Uncommon Goods, Baseball Bat Bottle Opener, $75
Sovereign Code, Kingsley Western Plaid Shirt, $22.49 (on sale)
Williams Sonoma, Monogrammed Beer Mug, $59/set of four
Filson, Small Wool Duffle Bag, $250
eCrater, Silver Playing Cards, $8.88
Uncommon Goods, Golf Ball Bottle Stopper, $25
Wisteria, Black Forest Reindeer Plates, $14.70 (on sale)

*I purchased the Arno Bernard knife for my boyfriend last year - it was a hit. He was like a little boy, carrying around his new toy for days. This year I have a fossilized dinosaur bone knife under the Christmas tree for him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Cookies

This weekend I slipped on an apron and baked dozens of Christmas goodies. The first few batches disappeared almost as soon as they emerged from the oven. Two stomach aches later, my boyfriend and I were finally able to resist the sweets.

I'm taking the remaining temptation to the office, along with little bags for each person to wrap up a package of his/her favorite cookies.

Sugar Cookies ...

... with Frosting and Sprinkles*

What are you favorite holiday treats?

*I'm picky about my sugar cookie and frosting recipes. I get rave reviews on my family's recipe and I'm happy to share. Just let me know if you'd like it and I'll send it to you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: $30 and Under

With only 11 short days left until Christmas, I've already spent countless hours scouring stores for the perfect gifts, leaving my holiday budget nearly depleted. For the last-minute gifts on your shopping list (yourself included), consider any of these budget-friendly items - all ringing in at under $30.

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Urban Outfitters, Anchor Charm Necklace with Gift Envelope, $16
Thomas Glenn, Black Ornament with White Stripes, $28.99
J.Crew, Beaded-Antler Tissue Tee, $24.99* (on sale)
Philosophy, Not the Pits Cherry Cola Shower Gel, $16
Uncommon Goods, Coal Bubble Gum, $5
Anthropologie, Decimal Point Tights, $20
Crate & Barrel, Kado Rice Bowl, $5.95
Banana Republic, All-Season Sparkle Bobby Pins, $18
Shu Uemura, 24k Gold Eye Lash Curler, $24

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Daze

Fifteen inches of snow blanketed the Madison area over the last 24 hours. It's a heavy, wet snow that's even causing snow plows to get stuck in ditches - not exactly something my Honda Civic can handle. The upside? My coworkers and I have the luxury of enjoying a snow day when the local school district cancels classes.

While I'm stuck inside, I'm using Mother Nature's white wonderland as inspiration for a cozy winter ensemble.

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Arden B., Asymmetrical Drape Cardigan Sweater, $48
Ann Taylor Loft, Faux Fur Neck Warmer, $29.50
Forever21, Feathered Pendant Necklace, $5.80
J.Crew, Wool Duffle Coat, $298
Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Hammered Hoop Earrings, $32
Sorel, Joan Of Arctic Winter Boot, $129.95
Lori's, Fingerless Knit Gloves with Mitten Flap, $24
J Brand, Pencil Leg Jeans, $200

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Wisconsin winters mean one thing: snow. And lots of it. (In fact, our local weatherman called tonight's impending blizzard "epic.") But as much as I disdain the fluffy white stuff, I just adore bundling up in a wool coat. Here's what I wore to brave the elements this morning:

Earrings: J.Crew (Thanks, Anjali!); Fur Scarf: Adrienne Landau; Coat: Banana Republic; Dress: Diane von Furstenberg; Tights: Banana Republic; Suede Booties: Nine West

In other news, I'm thrilled the gift guides are going over so well! I had originally intended to only post five, but I'd love to do more. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: The Fashionista

Christian Louboutin's Cat Burglar Barbie reportedly sold out on Net-a-Porter the day of its debut, leaving many holiday shoppers without the perfect gift for the fashionistas in their lives. No worries. I have a few ideas for the fashion-loving recipients on your list.

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Hermes, Tout en Carré Twilly, $125
Kate Spade, Bourgeois Bow Key Fob, $50
Alexis Bittar, Small Teardrop Necklace, $155
J.Crew, Sequined Starland Tank, $138
Missoni Home, Dalia Rectangular Outdoor Cushion, $165
CC Skye, Pave Knuckle Ring, $175
Lauren Merkin, Card Case, $35
St. Germain, Elderflower Liqueur, $25.98
Marc Jacobs for Waterford, David Wine Glass, $65
Feather Pouf Comb, $9.80
Marimekko, Piccolo Umbrella, $40
Banana Republic, Confetti Hoop Earrings, $36
Estee Lauder,
Golden Alligator Compact, $33

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: The Next CEO

Don't try to tell your workaholic friend to take time off to relax and pamper herself. She's not going to. Instead encourage her goal to be her company's next CEO and treat her to unique desk accessories she can enjoy while working those late nights, kept company by the glow of the computer screen.

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Tibor Kalman/M&Co., Legal Paper Paperweight, $28
Kate Spade, 1-2-3-4 Post-It Pads, $9
Webster's, Fashion Color Dictionary, $180
Jayson Home & Garden, Modern Quill Pen, $32
Blue Tree NYC, Star Handle Magnifying Glass, $65
Page Goolrick, Page 1 Pencil Cup, $35
Anya Hindmarch, Miami Hard Back Business Card Holder, $87.45 (on sale)
Design Within Reach, Heavy-Weight Tape Dispenser, $60
Barnes & Noble, Metal @ Paperweight Zinc Alloy, $12.95
Acco, Gold Tone Paper Clips, $1.99
Lauren Ralph Lauren, Perry Industrial Desk Lamp, $275 (on sale)
The Container Store, Hardwood Pushpins, $2.99

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: The Hostess

Do you have a social director in your circle of friends? She's the person who loves to host cocktail hour, invites guests over for Sunday morning brunch, and makes new acquaintances feel like old friends. For the hostess in your life, try classic gifts with a quirky twist.

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Kate Spade, Classic Kate Playing Cards, $15
Emily Elizabeth Jewelry, Shiny Good Fortunes Necklace, $88
MoMA Store, Half-Pint Creamer, $14
UniFlame, Solid Brass Match Holder, $27.73
Macy's, The Cellar Selene Cake Dome, $29.99
Urban Outfitters, Cupcake Ornament, $10
Kate Spade, Larabee Dot Tidbit Plates, $80
Crate & Barrel, Clio Martini Glass, $9.95
Michael Aram, Bark Ice Bucket, $199
Michael Aram, Twig Tongs, $45
Claus Porto,
Citron Verbena Bath Soap, $16
Jonathan Adler, Penguin Salt and Pepper Set, $44.99

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: The Romantic

Everybody has at least one hopelessly romantic friend who still watches Cinderella, cherishes albums of photos, and keeps each love letter she's received. Here are some pretty present ideas for the sentimental one in your life:

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Forever21, Side Jewel Drape Necklace, $7.80
Banana Republic, Ballerina Bracelet, $32
Michael Aram, Twig Photo Frame, $109
La Compagnie de Provence, Rose Body Lotion, $26
French Connection, Siouxie Top, $89.99 (on sale)
Tiffany & Co., Tiffany Blue Box Charm, $150
Uncommon Goods, Gold Forget Me Not Ring, $198 (also available in silver for $48)
MoMA Store, Prismatic Bowls, $70
Kate Spade, Pickney Street Rose Bowl, $150
Michael Aram, Bellflower Ornament, $29
Pierre Deux French Country, Moineau Silver Birds, $38

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: The Frequent Flyer

Most of my Christmas shopping is already complete, but there are still a few hard-to-shop-for people on my list. This week, I'm posting holiday gift guides to help you with your own difficult gift recipients.

I'm sure many of us have a friend or relative who is ready to jet set at a moment's notice or is planning her next international excursion. For the frequent flyer, opt for luxe travel items or charming souvenirs to inspire her next vacation plans.

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Splendid, Two Pocket Cardigan, $72
Royce, Leather Passport Wallet, $59.99
Laura Ashley, Brittania Pillow, $57.76
Banana Republic, Lightweight Cashmere Scarf, $70
Pan Am, Orion Carry-On Bag, $75
Rau's Country Store, Russian Buildings Nesting Dolls, $69.98
Simply Ooh La La, Eiffel Tower Key Chain, $15.95
Kate Spade, Par Avion Stamp Small Henrietta Make-Up Case, $60
Kate Spade, Perry Street Clock, $40
Crate & Barrel, Decorative Globes, $5.95 - $6.95

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Black Friday!

The turkey is banished to the refrigerator, only to be reincarnated in the form of many poultry sandwiches. The only remnants of pumpkin pie are a few orange-tinted crumbs. The holiday cocktails have subsided into an epic headache. And yet the festivities continue in the 2 a.m. line outside of Best Buy.

I wish I could say I avoid Black Friday, but I can't help taking part in the twisted ritual. The flurry of people and intoxicating discounts kick off the holiday season. But when I watch someone yank a coveted DVD from another's hand, I vow never to do it again. Yet every year, I'm ready to go when the alarm sounds at the crack of dawn.

I didn't realize, however, that I'm taking part in a 28-year-old tradition. From a Detroit News article:

But few shoppers know that the sense of urgency that now rouses them to the pre-dawn hunt was manufactured here in Detroit, to spur sales during hard times in 1981.

The notion of an early bird sale to kick off the holiday shopping season was born at J.L. Hudson's, when the department store unlocked its doors at 9 a.m. -- half an hour earlier than usual -- and held a one-hour "doorbuster" sale.

Are you taking part in the chaos today? What deals have you scored?

And, please, don't trample anyone.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

photo via Martha Stewart

Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!

P.S. I've severely neglected my blog roll over the months. I'm planning on revamping it in the next week or two and adding many more wonderful blogs I've fallen for. If I'm on your line-up, please let me know! I don't want to miss anyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recent Purchase: F21 Ring

It's official: I'm pathetic. I thought I'd be content to just post pretty jewelry this morning. Nope. A few hours later, I found myself sifting through the cheap thrills of Forever21. For a menial investment of $4.80, this ring makes quite a statement.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wish List Wednesday: Jewelry

Today is officially the beginning of my Thanksgiving vacation. I feel slightly guilty for ditching the office in favor of cozy sweats and daytime TV - especially because I'm not actually traveling until tomorrow morning. But, this does give me the perfect opportunity to scour magazines and the Internet in search of fantastic holiday gift ideas (for myself and others).

Next week I'm planning a series of holiday gift guides, but I'm dedicating today's post entirely to jewelry. Costume baubles are one thing, but I rarely purchase fine jewelry for myself during the year. I leave that to my boyfriend and parents to splurge on the contents of a tiny, perfectly-wrapped little box.

Here's a collection of faux and real jewels to add to your wish list.

(pictured clockwise, starting from upper left)

Asha by ADM, Crystal and Lemon Quartz Earrings, $495, Diamond and Tiger's Eye Necklace, $225
Fred Flare, Dangling Paper Airplanes Necklace, $68
Alanna Bess, Smoky Quartz & Pyrite Necklace, $48 (on sale), Diamond and White Gold Ring, $295
Jean Paul Gaultier, Pendant Earrings, $389
Betsey Johnson, Large Snowflake Studs, $55
Kate Spade, All Wrapped Up Idiom Bangle, $78
J.Crew, Shadow Facet Necklace, $150
Guess, Avery Triple Hoop Rhinestone Earrings, $58
Banana Republic, Glam Leaf Earrings, $50
Daphna Simon, Large Silver Log Ring, $340

Win It!

Few things are better than free jewelry! Head over to Savvy Mode's giveaway to win a trendy little pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs stud earrings.

Holiday Dress-ing: Realist Edition

Yesterday's post left me fantasizing about layers of chiffon, yards of silk and piles of sequins. I've since wiped the drool from my keyboard and came to terms with my bank balance. Owning a dreamy Marchesa dress isn't exactly in my foreseeable future, so I've sought out affordable options for holiday cocktail parties. Each dress below rings in at under $150.

Snow White
(left to right)
BCBG Max Azria, Satin Halter Dress, $135.90 (on sale)
Topshop, Brocade Tube Dress, $90
Cynthia Steffe, Floral Clip Cotton "Fatima" Dress, $130 (on sale)

Bright Night

(left to right)
Banana Republic, Twist Wrap Dress, $125
J.Crew, Silk Taffeta Strapless Sanglé Dress, $59.99 (on sale)
Ralph Lauren, Shannon Silk Ruffle Wrap Dress, $119.99 (on sale)

Black Tie
(left to right)
Rachel Rachel Roy, Belted Matte Jersey Dress, $129
Maggie London, Matte Jersey Sheath Dress, $98
BCBGeneration, Metallic Tiered Ruffle Strapless Dress, $112

Nip & Tuck

(left to right)
Max & Cleo, Pleated Taffeta Strapless Bubble Dress, $107
Arden B, Taffeta Shine Bow Tube Dress, $78
Blondie Nites, Strapless Dress, $139

Sparkle & Shine
(left to right)
INC International Concepts, Sequin Sleeveless Stripe Dress, $99
Arden B, Bow Front Sequin Tube Dress, $88
INC International Concepts, Open Back Sleeveless Sequin Sheath, $99

My favorite is the black
Rachel Rachel Roy dress. Which one(s) do you like?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Dress-ing: Fantasy Edition

I've come across many gorgeous cocktail dresses in my search for holiday attire - and have become heartbreakingly aware that many of my favorites will never hang in my closet. Each of the frocks below are out of my price range, but a little Monday morning eye candy has never hurt anyone.

Snow White
(left to right)
Jason Wu, Embroidered Chiffon Drape Dress, $2,350
Marchesa, Organza Jeweled Strapless Dress, $1,980
Temperley London, Mini Bea Silk Dress, $1,795

Bright Night

(left to right)
Mark + James, Strapless Beaded Bodice Mini Dress, $485
Notte by Marchesa, Ribbon-Trimmed Silk-Chiffon Dress, $695
Vivienne Westwood, Rill Silk Asymmetric Dress, $1,100

Black Tie
(left to right)
Marchesa, Sequined Strapless Dress, $4,620
Alice + Olivia, Bustier Satin Dress, $525
Matthew Williamson, Jewel Detail Black Dress, $2,217

Nip & Tuck

(left to right)
Preen, Fountain Cotton-Jersey Dress, $350
Marchesa, Embroidered Silk-Organza Dress, $1,725
Marc Jacobs, Duchesse Satin Zip-Embellished Dress, $1,900

Sparkle & Shine
(left to right)
3.1 Phillip Lim, Silk Sequin T-Shirt Dress, $895
Alexander Wang, Draped Pailette Dress, $1,152
Hervé Léger, Sequined Bandage Dress, $2,300

What's your fantasy cocktail dress for the season?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hangover Helpers

I apologize for being such a lame blogger this week. I've been busy with networking functions and social gatherings that left me a little exhausted and a little hungover - and there's a good chance that holiday parties will leave me sluggish for much of December. Fortunately, even a holiday hangover can be a little glamorous.

Choose loose garments in calm colors, like this silk slip and oversize cardigan, and give your tired feet a rest in a pair of chic cable knit slippers. When you're ready for a nap, block out the morning sun with a satin sleeping mask and cozy up with a plush throw. Use an eco-friendly glass water bottle to wash down a few pain killers. Once your stomach has begun to settle, order a pizza or head to the nearest Arby's for my favorite hangover cure: a non-diet soda and curly fries.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wish List Wednesday: Springcart Designs

I recently stumbled upon Springcart Designs and found an online boutique filled with a well-edited selection of affordable home goods and accessories, including charming tea towels and jewelry. Here are my favorites:

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