I Like Big Books And I Cannot Lie

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I like books. At an early age, I had a pretty badass collection of Dr. Suess books. That then morphed into me being a member of The Babysitters Club. Monthly, I received three books and some stickers in the mail.

My love of reading stayed with me through college where I got hooked on the Harry Potter series. Then in my grown up life, I breezed through Twilight – and a million other RoCom books. What can I say, I’m a reader.

Today, I was actually pleasantly surprised when I pulled the word “Book” from my jar ‘o words. I found a lot of cool ways for people to use books as décor and entertaining.

Love this tote bag

How cute are these book worm favors?

Book party invitation

Book party décor

Put the vase on top of the books

Card catalogue as a place card holder

And finally, I’m obsessed with this library.
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Oh Make Me Over

Sunday, February 26, 2012

So I have a confession. While I’m a total girly girl, there is one area that I’m just awful with – beauty products. Let’s just say that I’m lucky if I wash my face with water at night. My beauty regime is non-existent.  

HOWEVER, now that I’m getting a bit, ah hem, older, I decided to devote some more time researching beauty products, creams, etc.

I’m a big fan of test driving products before I buy them, but I’ve found that there are less smelly perfume ladies passing out free samples at department stores.


Most of you probably have heard of this, but last year I signed up for Birch Box. It’s like a magazine subscription, but rather than receive some paper, you get a handful of beauty products each month to test out in a pretty little box. So far I’ve got awesome things like nail polish, face creams, exfoliating masks, etc. For a minimal cost ($10 a month), I’m able to sample new things to determine if I’m going to invest in the full-sized sample.

So far, it’s so good! I’ve found that I LOVE Zoya nail polish because it stays on forever. Applying eye cream nightly isn’t difficult. Juicy perfume and my allergies don’t mesh. Hot pink lip gloss is fun, but not functional for me. See, I’m learning a lot!

Note that the pics above show a few items from more than one Birch Box. I wanted to show the variety of stuff that you get! Oh and you can end your subscription at any time. 

Wanna join? Click here!

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I Do in 20 12

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Do you know what song I love? That one that goes, "I do, I do, I do, I do..." 

This year is starting to become the year of engagement (and in some case wedding) for the hubs and I. If we thought years past were spattered with weddings, it was really only a pregame for what we are about to experience in 2012 – 2013. And let’s just say we’ve got our party shoes ready!

In thinking about weddings and trends, here are some that I’ve seen and that I hope to see at the upcoming nuptials that we will attend.

·         Individual Centerpieces
o   LOVE this idea. Rather than go for one show stopper centerpiece, give guests their own piece of flare.
o   This may include mini flower arrangements, cakes, piñatas!

·         DIY Bouquet Bar
o   Building off of the first idea, for a shower, I love the concept of buying bunches and bunches of flowers and inexpensive vases and allow guests to make their own arrangement to take home.
o   You can also have signs up on tips for making the perfect arrangement – like what colors to mix, flower placement, etc.
o   In Pittsburgh, you can buy the flowers from the Strip District OR order from Sam’s Club or Costco. For vases, go to Home Goods or Garden Ridge.

(Photo – Moi)

·         Farewell Toast
o   While people tend to serve a signature drink during cocktail hour, the new trend is a farewell toast. It’s a great way to thank guests for coming and cap off an awesome party.

o   This is also where you can hand out sparklers for a farewell photo!

o   Also unexpected – rather than give people a welcome bag, work with the hotel to drop of some goodies for guests to find in their room when they go to sleep or in their car through the valet!

·         Bringing the Outside In and Inside Out
o   Way before Kate Middleton turned Westminster Abbey into a forest for her wedding, I noticed this trend of brides bringing the outdoors inside and chic things from inside, outside for their weddings. Let me show you what I’m talking about here.

o   For these outdoor weddings, one brought couches on to the sand, while the other used a door as the opening to the aisle. I’ve also seen people pull vintage desks outside to use as a bar, gift table or buffet.


o   For indoor weddings, brides are bringing trees and the second photo incorporates twigs (with lights), wood and pinecones.  This is also popular to bring summer (seashells) and winter (snow) inside.  

Other “In’s”
·         Arcrylic furniture – still in (and still pricey!)
·         Doughnuts
·         Chevron
·         Local food

What’s moving out?
·         Cigar Bars
·         Candy Bars
·         Cupcakes 
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Reader Mailbag: Shoe Shoe Ba Doop Doop

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reader Margaux Writes:

I have noticed that people all over this winter are rocking peep toe shoes, even on the coldest and rainiest of days! Is there a new fashion norm I am unaware of?!

Well Reader Margaux, I believe the answer is – yes you can.

There really isn’t a rule that exists that says you can’t wear open toe shoes between Labor Day and Memorial Day.

Last year there was an open-toed winter booties trend (it also carried over into 2012). So I think that was also leading in it being more acceptable to wear open toes year around.

You see, a lot of people look to celebrities to set trends. And frankly, they wear open toed shoes year around.

Margaux lives in the south (Atlanta) and I tend to see more bloggers that I follow that live in warmer weather markets wear more open toed shoes in the winter. For those in colder markets, it’s more so for a special occasion.

In my opinion, I would say that more of a trend is to rock tights WITH open toed shoes. Let me caution you – you need to do this right. This can go way, way wrong.

I did some research and here is what some stylists say:

·         "That old thing about not wearing tights with an open-toe doesn't exist anymore.  And it's a very economical way to winterize your spring accessories." – Rachel Zoe

       “You can wear tights with open-toed shoes, as long as there’s no reinforces toe or even toe seam,” – Stacey London
            “… more sophisticated women that are older should experiment with tights — try a colored tight and see how it plays out. If that’s pushing it too far, try a black stocking. I don’t think women should feel limited to thinking they can’t wear an open-toed shoe in the winter and they should just play around and explore what looks best for them.”Cristina Ehrlich (Ashley Greene’s stylist)

Check out these girls on Accidental Chic doing that tight and open toed shoe trend the RIGHT way!

A few years ago, I set a personal style rule. I only wear boots from late September until March 31st (one exception – cowboy boots). The same typically goes for tights as well (with MAYBE some exceptions in early April or late September).

So to sum this up. Use caution, but yes, you can wear open toed shoes in the winter. However, if you are in a colder market, why not try the tights with open toes!
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Go Whipped Lighting, Go Whipped Lighting!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Jersey has a bad rap. Whether it’s the reality TV shows, the jokes about the smell or even the recent decision by the governor to lower the flags in honor of Whitney, people are always picking on the home state of my hubs.

One thing I love to do when I visit the dirty jerz is to stop by Joe Canals. No, this isn’t a friend of Brady’s – it’s the liquor store. They always have cool wines and liquors that aren’t always readily available in Pittsburgh because PA is a control state (the state controls the liquor).

On a recent trip, I spotted this – Whipped Lighting. As the tagline states, Whipped Lighting is the first alcohol-infused whipped cream.

With flavors like Spiced Vanilla, Strawberry Love, Chocolate Mint, Tropical Passion, Coconut, German Chocolate, White Chocolate Raspberry and Caramel Pecan, this “Whipahol” is sure to jazz up almost any cocktail. I mean this stuff is perfect for shots and coffee drinks. It’s totally one of those “Why didn’t I think of that” inventions!

The site is full of recipes and here are a few to show you all how Whipped Lightening is used!

If this still isn’t in PA by the time of my next trip, I’ll bootleg some past state lines ; )

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I'd Hit That

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One of my FAVORITE words that I put into my Word of the Day jar came out this weekend – piñata. When adding this word, I knew that it would inspire some fantastic ideas – and it totally exceeded my expectations. So I decided to share here some great ways to incorporate piñatas into your next fete.

Mini Pinatas for place cards!

A party favor!

DIY pull string piñata – so much safer than hitting. And all kids get to participate.

Confetti System has some awesome, rad sparkly piñatas, BUT I would suggest DIYing these – they are a bit pricey!

A Halloween costume? Maybe 2012? I’m thinking I can make the headpiece a bit more authentic

And finally, humor.
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Dinner with Oscar

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It’s Oscars Week! It’s Oscars Week!

Go on a juicing diet and roll out the carpet – it’s Oscars Week!

Forget the fashion, one of my FAVORITE things to do is create an Academy Awards party menu inspired by the Best Picture nominees. I must say, this has been an easier, more fun year for this little activity of mine.

·         The Artist
o   Silent movies were super popular in the 1920’s. You know what wasn’t? ALCOHOL. You see, in 1919 the 18th amendment passed – which prohibited the manufacturing of alcohol.  So legally, booze production was corked until 1933.
o   Let this set the tone for your bar. Serve classics like The Sidecar and French 75. These also help set the tone for another nominee – “Midnight in Paris”

·         The Descendants
o   This movie set in beautiful Hawaii was the perfect escape for the hubs and I on a snowy night.
o   When you think of Hawaii, you think of luaus. When I think of luaus, I think of pig roasts, kabobs, pineapples and rice. Since this is a winter entertaining occasion, I say go for the kabobs!
o   Signature Cocktail: Blue Hawaii

·         Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
o   Another sad theme – a young boy deals with losing his father after September 11th. While there was loss all over the country that day, people often think of one city – New York.
o   You can go a few ways with New York fare – a big apple themed menu, NY style pizza, food trucks.
o   Signature cocktail: The Manhattan. Duh.

·         The Help
o   Two words can sum up all you need to know about what to serve with this movie – FRIED CHICKEN.
o   There is actually a lot of food in this movie. From cocktail meatballs at Bunco gatherings to pie, pie, pie – The Help (as in the movie and the help!) leaves your mouth watering.
o   This story from Food & Wine is a great resource about food in “The Help.”  
o   Drink: Southern Sweet Tea

·         Hugo
o   Dude – what’s up with Paris? Yet another movie with Parisian influence.
o   This movie takes place in the Montparnesse Train station. In one scene, Hugo steals a croissant, so let’s go with that!

·         Midnight in Paris
o   Don’t we already have this covered!? The movie is set in Paris, yet has throw back scenes to the roaring ‘20’s. So we killed a lot of birds with some stones, BUT if you are still looking for some more French fare, what about some French Fries (they would be awesome next to the ballpark buffet).
o   Drink: Champagne.

·         Moneyball
o   Another movie perfect for entertaining. I mean do I even need to say it? Ballpark fare – hot dogs, cracker jacks, nachos. I say turn this into a big DIY station. Let people put their own toppings on the dogs and nachos (think cheese, jalapenos, Heinz Ketchup, tomatoes, etc.)
o   Drink: BEER.

·         The Tree of Life
o   This movie is based on the childhood memories of a man growing up in the ‘50’s.
o   Since we are lacking some sweets at this party, I saw we incorporate some 1950’s candies.
o   I consulted Old Time Candy and found that popular sweets included: Atomic Fireballs, Beer Nuts, Bubble Gum Cigarettes, Candy Necklaces, Certs, Charleston Chews, Gold Coins and Jolly Ranchers.
o   Drink: Root Beer Floats – spiked or virgin!

·         War Horse
o   To figure out food for this one, I had to consult the Internets – specifically the interwebs of the Smithsonian. You see, this movie was set during World War I. So what were American’s eating during this time? Corn, oats, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables and potatoes.
o   What’s old is always new again and food manufactures were pushing an “eat locally” theme – way back then!  
o   I say make a meal with the ingredients above featuring all local foods.
o   Drink: Water

(Source: Wikipedia for film synopsis)

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Fashion Week F12 Summed Up In One (very long) Post

Monday, February 20, 2012

It’s that time of year for the guys to stop reading and for us gals to talk fashion.

While many of us are thinking spring, fall 2012 Fashion Week wrapped last Thursday in New York. While the fun is still going in London, as usually, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite things on the runway. Note that all photos are from Style.com.

Oh, so by me publishing this now, most of the critic’s verdicts are already out – the collections were boring. They felt that designers didn’t really take any risks.You know what - I agree. 

The marriage of Black and Red was very apparent on a lot of runways and presentations. Jason Wu, Monique Lhuillier, Jenny Packham, Kate Spade – the list goes on.

Shot of Brandi* favJason Wu was inspired by the town he was born – Taiwan. The pieces in his show featured awesome lace and quilting.

There were a few designers that typically had me wishing that I’d hit the lottery. That included collections from Monique Lhuillier, Naeem Khan and Marchesa.

The Monique Lhuiller runway featured fancy fall jewel tones. I specifically pulled these four gowns to show some new neckline options out there.

Naeem Khan showcased a plethora of black and white frocks. B+W was in a number of shows. Also – note the variety of patterns.

As usual, the Marchesa featured a crazy about of detail in another to die for collection.  It’s been said that the show was inspired by a painting titled “A Soul Brought to Heaven.” You can see it here – complete with a nip slip.

Two show-stopping gowns here from Christian Siriano and Zac Posen. Not only did I like the shape of both of these dresses, but I also loved the colors. Perfect for fall.

The next two sets of slides remind me of prom back when I was in high school. Us gals wore head to toe tight sequin frocks. A few things to call out – obsessed with the green and preplum in the Tory Burch look. I feel like the Reem Acra dress is classy, yet super sexy with that sheerness that still shows major leg.

The Carolina Herrera gown is the most beautiful purpleish color, while the others on this slide would be great for any woman up for a gold trophy next weekend!

Now back down to earth with some wearable jewel-town dresses. According to my closet, I’m obsessed with the color of this DKNY dress. These other dresses would be perfect for a fall or winter event.

Speaking of color, I loved the bold neons (pink, blue, yellow and green) mixed with black on the Milly runway. Brights are still big and I was super giddy to see the red/pink mix still trending through Takoon.

Finally, I had to throw in these last two dresses. Isn’t it crazy how similar they are?! Whoops!!

Some other trends that I noticed for fall you won’t see here:

·         Outside of Lincoln Center, one trend that was emerging that is going to take me a long time to get into – a skirt over a dress. Yes – you heard me right. This was seen on the catwalk at Nahn.
·         Libertine showed these amazing coats with a confetti-like pattern on them that was just awesome. Speaking of coats, lots of shows had super pretty coats including Ruffian, Tory Burch and Marc Jacobs.
·         Prints are wayyyy in. Print dresses and pants were huge at a number of shows including Jill Stuart. Pint mixing was also popular at Tory Burch.
·         Watch out for Winter White. It’s gonna be big!
·         Rachel Zoe showed a lot of separates that focused on suiting.
·         Shorts were included in a number of shows including Jenni Kayne.
·         Leather is still trending. Pants, coats…invest now. Fur too. 

All photos from Style.com.
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New Tastes for Twenty Twelve

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A new year means new products hitting the shelf. And there is not an exception at the liquor store. Browsing through my local Wine & Spirits (and its wonderful magazine), here are some of the new launches that I can’t wait to get my lips on.

·         I mentioned before that Cupcake was moving into a new category – Vodka. Its new line features flavors like Chiffon, Frosting, Original and Devil’s Food. Yum!
·         Pinnacle is also expanding its flavored Vodkas with Cake, Gummy (red fish), Tropical Punch and Marshmallow (and did you know Pinnacle is the #1 Imported Vodka in PA? – REALLY??)
·         Moonshine is becoming modern. Companies mass producing this Applichia fav include Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon Cranberry and Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine.
·         The Winter 2012 Fine Wine & Good Spirits TASTE magazine (free in our local PA Liquor Stores) had some great recipes for dessert cocktails, including:

Birthday Cake Martin (from Edward Jones, Darmicia Food and Tonics, Philadelphia)
·         2 oz cake-flavored vodka
·         Slash of Godivia White Chocolate or original
·         Splash of cream
·         Whipped cream for garnish
Shake all ingredients together over ice and strain into a martini glass

Red Velvet Cake Martini (from Pinnacle Vodka)
·         2 oz Pinnacle Cake
·         1 oz. chocolate liqueur
·         Splash of grenadine
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. 
Shake and strain into a martini glass.

Orange Dreamsicle (From Pinnacle Vodka)
·         2 oz Pinnacle Whipped
·         2 oz orange juice
·         Splash lemon-lime soda
·         Orange wheel and / or cherry garnish
Combine vodka and orange juice in a glass filled with ice. Top with soda and garnish with orange and/or cherry
Editor’s Note: Because you are using a fizzy soda in here, that’s why you don’t shake it in a martini glass

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