Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gift Guide: His parents

If you're stopping by your boyfriend's parents for the first time this holiday season, what to bring as a gift can be a nerve-racking decision when you're looking to impress. Here are three small but thoughtful gifts that are sure to make you welcomed right in.

1. Personalized: Put his family surname on these cute salt and pepper shakers for a gift that's useful, adorable and just for them.

2. Homemade: Layer regular granulated sugar with creative and aromatic mix-ins like rose petals, vanilla beans or lemon peel for a special gift that can be used as a delectable mix-in for teas, coffees and baking. Learn more about how to create this gift at .

3. Fun: This tabletop topics game will get his family reminiscing about everything from their favorite family vacations to their most memorable holidays. Bonus: it will make conversation a breeze for you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Feeling sleepy

If I could add every piece of extraordinary clothing that walked down the runways at the Victoria's Secret fashion to my holiday wish list, I totally would. But unfortunately, I think diamond-encrusted bras are a little out of Santa's price range this year.

Instead, I'll wish for something only VS does right ... making incredibly cozy pajamas still look incredibly cute. And major bonus, use the code PJGift at checkout to receive a free pair of slippers with purchase.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dancing into December

I'm so excited December is here - it's one of my favorite months of the year for all the warm traditions that chase away the cold weather.

A most cherished annual event for me is getting dressed up to go to the ballet and see the Nutcracker. When I was just a kid, my parents would don my sister and I in fancy velvet dresses and take us into downtown Chicago to see the show and walk past the windows of Marshall Fields.

Now that I'm in New York, the decorations in the city are even bigger and brighter and I can't wait to see what joy the holiday season will bring.

To get your December started, here are a few beautiful photos of the Dance of the Snowflakes from the Nutcracker.

From Flickr





Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What a stitch

One of the best kinds of gifts is one you can enjoy and use over and over again.

In the winter, I love cozy scarves, hats and mittens. I wish I could have a closet full of them! That's why this year I'll be hoping to be given a series of knitting classes so I can start to make my own winter wears like this gorgeous handmade scarf from seller trendyknitting on Etsy.

With the gift of learning to knit, I can make a slew of presents for myself, and for others.

Party people

I've been having so much fun in NYC that I'm several days behind on sharing my Christmas list! Next up are party pieces in jewel tones, lacy details and shiny studs. Each of these five pieces in under $70 and is sure to stand out at any holiday soiree.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lend a hand

And in the vein of helping others ... next on my Christmas list are these adorable mittens from Kate Spade. They were created as a part of Kate Spade's partnership with Women for Women International, an organization that offers employment to women in war-torn countries to help them rebuild their lives.

Read more about it here and check out all the other goodies Kate has to offer.

Savings as clear as black and white

Want to sweeten up your winter wardrobe and make the world just a little bit better?

From today until the November 15, you can save 30% off at Banana Republic, Old Navy and The Gap with the coupon located at this link

And a major reason to splurge besides the incredible savings? 5% off all purchases go to Teach For America and the effort to close the achievement gap among children low socioeconomic areas.

So get an education in style and help getthe real education they deserve!

Below are three outfits I've put together from the stores in classic black and white and the incredible savings with this head to toe discount.

$62 for the Old Navy outfit

$357 for the Banana Republic outfit

$114 for the Gap outfit

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A cut above

Next on my holiday list ... some adorable cookie cutters from Bake It Pretty.

One of my favorite family traditions is to bake sugar cookies every winter and now that I'm on my own, I'll need a set for my apartment!

Bake It Pretty has everything from holiday cutters to birthday themes to animals and household item shapes. There's a cookie cutter for every occasion!

Here are a few of my favorites for $2.25 each.

Items in this set:
Bake It Pretty, $2.25
Bake It Pretty, $2.25
Bake It Pretty, $2.25
Bake It Pretty, $2.25
Bake It Pretty, $2.25

I salute you for all you do

Happy Veterans Day!

Thank you to all the active service men and women and Veterans.

Trimmed and Taylored

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ringing in the holidays ... a little early

OK, I confess, I'm already getting excited for the holidays and thus preparing my Christmas list. Every day I'm going to share with you what's on my wish list to help inspire you with gifts for the holiday season (or a little sooner).

Right now I'm blinded by a slew of sparkly gold cocktail rings ... a lovely gift to open on Christmas day and an even lovelier one to wear on New Years.

Rings clockwise: Betsey Johnson Metals Bow Ring, $50, ; J. Crew Golden Orb Ring, $30, ; Speakeasy Cocktail Ring, $20,; Vintage Style Fan Ring, $21,; Rose Ring, $4,; Daisy Cluster Ring, $24,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm always envious of the well-styled girls blogs and magazines capture in "street-style" photos. Take the blog Streethearts, the project of two photographers in Oslo, Norway who snap photos of all the beautiful people they pass.

These street styles, though on real people, often seem so far out of reach. I wonder how I can put a look like that together at home!

Well here is Henriette, one of Streethearts au naturale models who's style I love. I've taken her look and created a tangible version from head to toe for under $250. Check it out and next time you see someone on the street with a great look, remember, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

Clothes clockwise: bracelet, $7,; tee, $19,; chunky cardigan, $50,; white cardigan, $30,; Nine West booties, $99,; skirt, $17,; belt, $9,; tights, $13,

Monday, November 2, 2009

Well read

There are a few books I have found simply invaluable since I left the comforting arms of college and entered the big, brave world of single-gal-in-the-city.

The first is The Big Sister's Guide to the World of Work: a tongue-in-cheek guide to everything from interviews to promotions that is as informative as it is entertaining.

The writers are Marcelle Langan DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz, two women who started at the bottom of the barrel in NYC jobs sharpening pencils for bosses who only paid attention to them when they "did something wrong or (their) skirts were too short."

These two snarky, savvy writers battled their way to the top of some of the biggest media companies in the world.

Read this book for a good laugh and incredible advice. Then read it again and again and again ...

My second pick is The Little Black Apron: A Single Girl's Guide to Cooking with Style and Grace. Written by three women - a writer, a chef and a nutritionist - it offers healthy, delicious and easy recipes for one as well as ideas for entertaining a whole group of gals. Also filled with hilarious remarks and sassy stories, this book will be one you read in and out of the kitchen.

Both of these books are available on Amazon or check out their Web sites at and

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dinner date

As much as I love my girlfriends, in a city this big and busy, it's hard for us all to get together. If we're out at night, it's too loud to catch up and dinners at restaurants add a stressful high bill to the night of fun. So last night, my friends and I began our now monthly tradition of coming together for a potluck dinner.

A different girl offers up her apartment each time and the host cooks the main dish. Everyone else is assigned the right accompanying pieces from appetizer, to sides to dessert and drinks.

Our first try at it was at my apartment and I was so excited to host. I love playing host and my collection of vintage aprons definitely came in handy in the preparations.

For the main dish I made chicken stuffed with mozzarella, basil and tomato ... a recipe I found here on Martha Stewart's Web site. I substituted sundried tomatoes for canned diced tomatoes with olive oil and garlic for a more bruschetta-esque flavor. I also kept the ingredients on top of the chicken instead of stuffing it, this way the mozzarella got a nice brown crust in the oven. I'm sure the stuffed-version would give it another fantastic spin.

All of my friends really came through on their ends. Jess was in charge of the appetizers and in addition to some always-yummy edamame, she introduced to a fantastic new combination - hummus mixed with pomegranate. We ate it with some pita chips and I was practically stuffed before dinner even began!

Jen brought a delicious dish of brussel spouts which she cut, rubbed individually with garlic and cooked with fine chopped pancetta. Her dedication paid off, the flavors were incredibly delicious!

Gena showed up with tons of fresh asparagus which she drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic and pepper. Always a simple, great side!

Lauren made a delectable salad with spring greens, cucumbers, pears, feta cheese and topped off with creamy maple balsamic dressing from Stonewall Kitchen. It tasted restaurant-quality good!

The dessert girls made sure our sweet cravings were well-fed. Amanda made fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and bought four (yes four!) types of Ben & Jerry's ice cream to pair with them. Justine stopped by Crumbs for a scrumptious assortment of mini-cupcakes from M&M to Cookies & Cream to Coconut.

And Sam, Jenni and Michelle kept the wine flowing.

I was having so much fun I forgot to take any pictures of the night! There was lots of laughter, tons of great food and so much warmth in my tiny home!

I highly recommend trying this out with your own group of pals. Email me for tips on recipes, table arrangements and more!

Images from top to bottom: Vintage dinner party from, Chicken from, Pomegranate from, Sprouts from, Asparagus from, Salad from, Crumbs from

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Although Halloween is the holiday that is right around the corner, Christmas decorations have already started springing up in many stores, and I can't lie, it's already got me excited about the impending winter season.

And if the stores are going to start wrapping gifts, I may as well get in on the action and right now I'm loving hats with bows. Here are a few of my favorites under $50.

Hats clockwise: Cream felt bow beret, Debenhams, $13; Kate Landry Tweed Cloche hat, $28; Lilah pull-on cap,, $35; Chunky bow beret, Urban Outfitters, $34; Red hat,, $43; Wine satin bow ribbon hat, Debenhams, $28.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yesterday I showed you how to use orginal pieces of photography from Etsy to cover your walls in seasonal looks for fall and winter. Today I've found you the best pieces for spring and summer!

So pine for warmer months, go pick up a few inexpensive frames and start shopping on Etsy!

Spring clockwise: Pink Magnolia Bloom by NatureMandalas, $24; Spring Bloom by NatureMandalas, $14; Oh for Spring Again, by BucksCountyFrames, $35; I would follow you anywhere by ZuppaArtista, $24.

Summer clockwise: Beach Day by Urban Pink Photography, $24; Feel the sun by Arialmages, $25; Palm Springs Swimmer by LunaParkProductions, $25; Ferris Wheel II by Blissful Colors, $35.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I've always been pretty non-committal, so the thought of investing in one piece of art for my apartment to last me years to come isn't exactly appealing.

Enter Etsy into my life. This one-stop-shop for everything homemade is the perfect spot to get an original piece of art for a fraction of the price at a fancy gallery.

Many of the unique creations are under $30 and a purchase from the site means you're supporting a budding artist!

The prices are so great, you can change the look of your walls as often as the seasons.

Try picking four pieces of original art of photography that go with your current mood. Right now I'm totally falling in love with fall so this creation from four separate artists' work is the perfect compliment for my decor.

When the seasons change, I'll save the frames but switch my art out for a wintry look that will bundle my home in a silvery glow.

Each of these pieces is under $30, so a set of four will only run me less than $100 a season and a few frames from Michael's will round out the look.

Check-in tomorrow to see my picks for spring and summer.

Fall clockwise: by Nature and Art, $12, by OlgaStudio, $20, by Lynda Naranjo, $22.
Winter clockwise: by Nature Mandalas, $24, by Diana Pantz, $15, by Memento, $30 by Sparke, $20

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fresh Picked

Happy autumn! What sweet fall activities are on your October calendar?

All images from Flickr: From bottom Midnightoilspill, Duckwizard

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Made for walking

If you're like me, you can wear a pair of boots down to the bone in one single winter. A solid re-heeling by a good cobbler is one way to keep your worn-out boots in walking condition, but I'm too fickle to let the same pair stick around for too many seasons. The solution? Finding affordable winter weather footwear that won't leave your wallet feeling cold.

Here a the top five places to find deals on boots, right now.

1. Kohls

Kohls has some pretty high quality merchandise and with fashion icons Elle McPherson and Vera Wang stocking their shelves, you're sure to find something stylish.

Use the coupon code SPECIAL20 to get an additional 20% off and HOME50FREE to get free shipping on orders over $50.

2. Newport News

This store stays under the radar but has some overwhelmingly good prices. All their boots are currently on sale and you can use the coupon code 548 for 25% off and L25 for free shipping.

3. GoJane

Where this shop falters in quality it makes up for in trendiness. You can find some pretty dazzling footwear here and for the low, low prices, it's OK if you only wear them once or twice. Use GJSHIP50 for free shipping on orders over $50.

4. Target

Target is always spot on when it comes to affordable fashion. Drop in your local store and try a few pairs of boots on for size or buy online right now with free shipping for orders over $50.

5. Payless ShoeSource

Payless is stepping up their game with collections from designers like Abaete and alice + olivia. If a local store doesn't have what you want, their Web site will ship it there for free.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Want superhero powers this winter? Be a superhuman fashionista indestructible against the cold in an otherworldly winter cape. Pair a cape with some skinny pants for an earth-shattering look that is sure to stop any criminal cold in his path.

Clothing clockwise: Plaid cape, $45, ; Cape jacket, $49,; Knitted Cape, $88, Anne Weuburn,; Fur Neck Ponch, $138, Kimchi Blue,; Madras Canvas Cape, $200, A.P.C.; Tartan Cape, $282, Mbym,; Tweed Military Cape, $5,780, Balmain, ; Silver Fox Jacket, $7,199, Fendi.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Take it easy

It's time you pampered yourself. Yes, go ahead, it's OK to think it. You've been working hard and so have I (apologies for the blogging absence) so it's time you treated yourself to a little spa time.

And don't worry about it, I've got you covered on the costs. From now until October 18 it's Spa Week across the country which means high end treatments at the blanket cost of $50 and discounts across the boards.

I think the 60 Minute Harvest Facial with Enzyme Pumpkin Peel or Microdermabrasion with Customized Mask at Nina's Day Spa in Manhattan or the 45 Minute Chocolate Truffle Body Massage or Microdermabrasion at DeNova Beauty Spa also in Manhattan sound absolutely delicous.

Check out the Web site, for a list of spas and treatments in your area and start relaxing.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pocket something good

One of my favorite things about New York is the huge variety of cuisines that are just around the corner in my neighborhood. Polish, Vietnamese, Egyptian and Australian Outback restaurants sit side by side just outside my door.

The other night, I went down the street to Caracas Arepa Bar, a Venezualan restaurant with a cozy atmosphere, limited seating and a delicious variety of arepas. Arepas are best described as a corn tortilla/pita pocket filled with a variety of delicious fresh ingredients including plantains, avocados, chicken, beef and chorizo. Crisp on the outside and melty, warm inside, they are the perfect meal and just the right size to have you full without overflowing.

If you're in New York, you have to check out one of the Caracas locations in Manhattan on 7th and 1st Avenue or in Brooklyn at Grand and Havemeyer.

Or be adventurous and try to make your own with a recipe here. Either way the outcome will be delicious.

Image from

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The dark side of the light

Since I’ve started my new life in New York City, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to pull myself away from actually experiencing all the fun, fashion and beauty to write about it! I’m sorry for my time away and I've learned my lesson that in the city that never sleeps, a good blogger can’t lay down her head until she’s laid her thoughts out online.

I’ve got so much to share from my first month in the Big Apple, but tonight , the impending fall air has my head filling with … hair.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a blonde. First, naturally, and later with the help of a chemical or two. Lately, the change in seasons (as well as the skyrocketing price for platinum highlights) has me rethinking my hair color. My natural shade is somewhere between blonde and brown, so why can't I walk the line in the other direction? How would I look as a brunette?

This isn’t the first time I’ve considered heading to the dark side. A few years ago I did a non-permanent dye job to a light-brown shade for a day, immediately felt like an imposter and went back as quickly as the blonde dye could set-in. But maybe now that I’m officially in the adult world, I could handle a more grown-up color ... maybe not.

For inspiration, I’ve turned to photos of a few beautiful celebs who slide seamlessly between shades, looking beautiful in tones from golden to auburn. Granted, I don’t have a celebrity hairstylist on hand, but if they can be brave enough to make the change, maybe I can to.

Monday, August 31, 2009

French kiss

Now that I’m in New York, I’ve started to notice the toll big city living takes on my skin – from the sweaty subway to the swanky bars that stay open until 4 a.m., my face just can’t get a rest. But today, I got a little break from the heat (thank goodness for 75 degree weather) and a few tips from Clarins on how to keep my skin young, healthy and glowing.

They’ve just released a new product line called Multi-Active Day, made for girls who never stop. With ingredients grown in fair-trade in Madagascar, it fights that fatigued look, provides protection from the sun and even has anti-aging properties (I am entering uncharted territory with my 23rd birthday coming up). It really does seem like a great product. Luckily for me (and you) Clarins gave me a nice little sample so I can test it out and let you know if it works before you buy.

In big bonus news, they also announced that Clarins gives away free 20-minute mini-facials at every Clarins counter nation-wide. Free! The process (complete with neck massage) looked so relaxing I was just about put to sleep watching the demonstration.

I plan to stop by the Macy’s by my office immediately after my next hard day at work because walk-ins are always welcomed for this genius free pampering.