Monday, February 27, 2012

Fell in luuurve with this bracelet and these earrings over the weekend. Oh.em.geez.

It's so Monday. 
How was your weekend?
Mine consisted of two trolley events (mardi gras & brewery tour), a blogger brunch/jewerly preview, coconut milk ice cream, a kitchen deep clean (I keep staring into the refrigerator in awe at it's interior beauty), and of course, the Oscar's! A great one I'd say, and just what I needed to kick off 2 very busy weeks.  Sooo, what were your red carpet thoughts - I wasn't wowed by anyone in particular this year, you?  

A Mini Fashion Week Roundup

Friday, February 24, 2012

Overlooking NYC from the rocks in Central Park last fall. 

Despite that winter is back (boo) we've got a big weekend lined up - a mardi gras themed trolley party, a jewelry/blogger brunch, a beer and chili tour, and some spring-ish cleaning (fridge, closets, inbox!). Life is hectic at the moment - preparing for meetings, travel and events (oh my!) so I still haven't caught up on fashion week coverage! (double boo.)

Here are a few New York Fashion Week links I'm loving so far though -

"Only four?" you quip. Like I said, I'm behind... send me your faves, pretty please! What are you loving/loathing?

P.S. Unrelated to Fashion Week but equally exciting, my favorite blogger on the planet created some fabulous hair tutorials - check it.

P.P.S. Thank you sooo much for your sweet words about Callie yesterday, they meant the world and made me feel as best a girl can. xoxo

Feeling Down Today

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My dog in Tennessee passed away yesterday - sweet Callie Marie. Pausing to remember our ice cream evenings, pool side lounging and her funny elbow kisses. She was the prettiest puppy you've ever seen, a darn good guard dog and had the deepest people eyes. (And was featured in an outfit post here once before.) Ah, pets are the best. Hug your fur-babies today. Back to regular programming tomorrow.

Love you my little Callie Flower - there will never be another.

Chicago Fashion Foundation's 5th Annual Scholarship Event

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Speaking of being busy, one of the big things on my plate right now is gearing up for the Chicago Fashion Foundation's 5th Annual Scholarship Event and Fashion Show. Taking place on March 7th at the Chicago Cultural Center and hosted by eDrop-off owner and VH1 'House of Consigment' star Corri McFadden, this is going to be our biggest event to date! Themed to Street Style: Chicago Fashion through Chicago Communities, ten promising design students will present their garments and compete for the grand prize - scholarship awards and the coveted title of Chicago's Future in Fashion. (I got a sneak peak at the fittings on Monday - these designers are on fire!) If you're in the area, I'd like to invite you to attend. Check out pictures from last year's event and learn more/purchase tickets here. Hope to see you there!

Mardi Gras Moment

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

earrings  /   earrings  /  mask 

Happy Fat Tuesday friends! Any plans to party gras on Mardi Gras? 

We have a Mardi Gras themed trolley party coming up this weekend. Any advice on what to wear? I have a mask but I'm still debating on the apparel portion. Have you ever been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans? I'm such a sucker for any celebration involving costumes... why hasn't this been on my bucket list before now?? 

Favorite Face Washes

Monday, February 20, 2012

Let's talk face wash, foams, scrubs and suds! I rotate between a few favorites, here's the scoop.

Sad fact: I still get breakouts and I'm not getting any younger. Denial ain't nothing but a river in Egypt... so I might as well kill two issues with one cleanser that contains anti-aging and anti-blemish properties. (Can I get a "woot!"?) On top of that, my skin is super oily so when it needs extra exfoliation I love Olay's pore minimizing scrub. It's fresh scent and gentle suds make my skin feel squeaky clean. To make matters more bogus, sometimes my face feels dry despite my oil producing pores. To keep a healthy balance I use Purity in the morning - the non drying and hydrating formula and feel ahmayzing with the Clarisonic Mia. (I love the Neutrogena with the Mia as well but I avoid any cleansers with exfoliating beads or scrubs, as they feel too harsh paired together.)

What are you skin care issues and how do you solve them? Am I the only one who chuckles at products made for 'normal' skin? I guess I'm just jealous!

The Simple Life

Friday, February 17, 2012

My current to do lists. Yes, lists.

The good news is that you have a lot going on. The bad news is that you have a lot going on.
-my horoscope this week

It seems like simplifying (or a version of it...streamlining, minimizing, downsizing) is the word on everyone's lips lately. We're busier than ever - which can be a blessing and a curse. My word of the year is 'cleansing' and I'm reminding myself of that before I take on any new projects, commitments, accept invitations or make product purchases. That's not to say I'm going hermit, just the way I remember to focus on what matters and why it matters. Since many of us are in the same busy boat so I thought it might be nice to share some sites and stories that I'm enjoying and have been helpful for me recently.

I really can't say enough about Michael and his site so here's a bit to get you going:
  • Start by Creating a Life Plan. How can we get to where we want to be if we don't even know what we want? It's not about how to get more done, it's about doing what's important to your plan and forgetting the rest. 
  • Make sure you're signed up for the daily email. It's the first one I read in the mornings. Subjects range from leadership, productivity, and social media among other things and I'm always enlightened. 
  • If you're a list maker you'll love this. I recently started the 'priority tag' method and it's changing my productivity immensely. 

Jess is a wonder woman in my book - a Chicago based jewelry designer, blogger and business consultant. Though our path's haven't crossed in person yet I hope that day comes soon and after browsing MML I'm sure you'll wish for that, too. Whether you're looking to live with less, design a life with intention or launch a small business - the resources you'll find here will be a huge asset. If you're new, start with the 'Best Of' and be sure to check out my personal fave - what to do when you don't know your purpose yet.

This is my go to for anti-extreme minimalist tips and insight. Browse the Benefits of Minimalism to spark your curiosity and How to Live With Less Stuff for some truths and tips.

If you're on the simplicity path, I'm confident you find some helpful nuggets within these sources. I am, by far, not where I want to be in terms of managing my schedule, commitments and productivity. It's a work in progress, always changing and will never be perfect so if you have any tips, trick or favorites I would to hear them! What sites or resources have you found helpful in managing your dreams/goals/life?

BHLDN Backdrops

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's been a long time since I've posted anything wedding related...I guess it's been a long time since I've been so captivated by something wedding related. Peep these backdrops from BHLDN, though they're beautiful as alter decor or photo backdrops I really just want one for oh, you know, the living room.

P.S. BHLDN just opened a 2nd store! It's on Walton Street in Chicago if you're dying to check it out. (Take a peek!) The original store is in Houston.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

You guys have heard of JewelMint right? The subscription jewelry line that offers new pieces of jewelry every month for $29.99 per piece? Before I go further, hang in there, this might get wordy but it'll be worth it...
(If you're really pressed for time skip down to the bullet points for the cliff notes version, I've got your back busy ladies. But otherwise, I hope you'll settle in for a minute.)

It's easy to fall into the trap of cheap accessories. And while cheap pieces aren't bad, they're often exactly that. Fading, breaking, lost stones, etc. "Ah, I'll just toss it." we say. But as I'm declaring this my year of the 'cleanse' I'm trying hard to rid myself and my home of junk. I've been debating over ordering from JewelMint for a while now - one, because when I normally pay 'the cost of lunch' for a new necklace or bracelet, $29.99 seemed pricey. And two, because I wasn't sure the quality would be worth it. (Another celebrity's name attached to a less than stellar product...) (This line is designed by actress Kate Bosworth and stylist Cher Coulter.)

But, I received my first JewelMint order over the weekend and was more than pleasantly surprised. I say pleasantly surprised because I consider myself pretty critical of products in general. After all, I get paid (in my full time job) to figuratively pick apart apparel products and analyze the details to negotiate for the best cost, quality, etc. So you can see why I might be a picky consumer. However, after my first experience with JewelMint I have nothing but great things to say. Starting from viewing the individual video's per piece (more on that below) things felt right. Then the package arrived - black and sleek and mysterious. I opened the box revealing my first awesome piece and was thrilled with the weight, sturdiness, security of clasps and overall quality. More than anything, it's so easy. I do love shopping but I rarely make enough time to do it properly. It's so nice (and thrilling) to be able to have a new showroom emailed to me each month and make a selection from high quality, on trend pieces. In fact, my favorite realization was that each piece has qualities making it unique and special, yet feel like something you've had for ages.

Here's the quick and dirty scoop on JewelMint:

  • It's a 'jewelry of the month club' subscription service offering new pieces each month at only $29.99 per glorious piece. Yup. Pretty amazeballs.
  • You can skip a month if you want (though I highly doubt you will.)
  • The designs run the gamut, there is truly something for everyone.
  • Shipping is free! I don't know about you but nothing makes me happier than getting to checkout and finding out I don't have to pay for shipping. *happy dance*!
  • You don't have to fight stores, research trends or even put forth much effort. Each month, just pick a fabulous piece from your personalized showroom.
  • In addition to the monthly video to excite you, each piece features an individual video telling you about the design inspiration, how to wear it and other fun facts. This little discovery put me over the edge. I think I've watched each one in my showroom at least 3 times. So much thought and detail over each piece, don't you love it?!  It's so helpful in getting a feel for scale and how it looks on. 

Speaking of how it looks on,  peep the Love Spell Pendant in action!

Sweater - Kenji  //  Necklace - Love Spell Pendant  //  Leggings - UK Style by French Connection (similar)  Clutch - Asos  //  Orange Ring - H&M  //  Boots - Dolce Vita  //  Mani - 'Love Letters' Real Polish Strips

Curious yet? Check out the February video. Can you spot my manicure inspiration?

So guess what? JewelMint is being so kind and offering 50% off your first purchase when you use the code: BIG. Oh, snap! That translates to $14.99 a piece. This is major folks. Use this code and make it work! Offer is valid until 2/29/12 (First time users only.) Grab the code and go!  

I wanna know... have you ordered from JewelMint? What was your experience like? Please do share!

Disclosure: I received product in return for this post, however, my opinions are my own, based on my experience and interaction with the brand. As always, if I don’t love it, I don’t tell you about it. Read my official (i.e. “wordy”) disclosure here.

P.S. Thank you soooo much to everyone that voted in the H.Bloom 'Give Love That Lasts' contest...              
WE WON the grand prize for Chicago! And it still hasn't sunk in yet :) (More deets here) Mwah! 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stole - Vintage  //  Top - Ann Taylor  //  Pants - Kimichi Blue  //  Gloves - Armani Exchange  
  Shoes - Kardashian Kollection (similar)

Happy Valentine's Day sweets!

Remember what I said about subdued holiday dressing?  Sometimes you just gotta scratch that. Here, I went for vintage glamour (my grandmother's mink stole), romance (lace high waisted cigarette pants), a touch of leopard and pops of red - the polar opposite of subdued. But, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

Scratching off one my new year's resolutions, I made my first batch of macarons this weekend. Some of you followed along on Facebook - they turned out pretty swell for a first try! I'm handing some out with my MintedValentine's today. If you were here in real life we'd share a plate as my way as saying thanks for being such fabulous/wonderful/amazing readers and friends!

If you have any extra love to share, hubby and I are *thisclose* to winning free flowers for a year! Can you spare a vote for us (until noon)? Visit here and search for "Ashleigh" - mwah!

5 Valentine's Dresses (that aren't red!) for Under $50

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Clockwise: Lace / Pleats / Chiffon / Draped / Peter Pan

I love a festive frock but sometimes it's fun to be subdued. Here's a little roundup of some flowy and flirty dresses that say (not scream) sweet, charming, and lovable each under fifty bones! And if you're looking for something a little more obvious and still on trend, well here's your girl! Curious, do you dress for the occasion or think it's cheesy?

Speaking of you know that in Finland Valentine's Day is called Ystävänpäivä which translates into "Friend's day"? It's what I've been saying all along!

Cherry Cherry Boom Boom

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When I saw one of essie's latest ads for luxeffects I was inspired to get creative with my own red polish and gold glitter. (Sorry essie, already had these on hand. But I do love you! No hard feelings m'kay?) 

Did you notice how well the name name came together? Since that took zero effort on my part I'll throw in a song where Gaga sings "cherry cherry boom boom" twice. You're so welcome! ;)

I painted two coats of red and layered a swipe of gold glitter to the bottom 1/3 of my nail bed. No need to be perfect, the randomness of the glitter hides uneven mistakes. Just try to keep with a similar distance, otherwise you may end up with a few super sparkly nails. It's been ages since I've worn a classic red and the gold accent is such a fun pop. Strangers just might grab your hands for a closer look. (True story. From a distance glitter just sucks folks in. Might want to avoid this one if you're a germophobe.) 

Man, it is so hard to photograph nail polish. You have no idea how much I'm looking forward to this class...
In the meantime you're stuck with these and the promise that this manicure looks much better in real life! 

P.S. Another glitter mani using Boom Boom Pow here!

P.S.S. Gave the blog an impromptu mini makeover last night around 11pm, curious to know what you think! Mulling over my midnight design decisions, I'm not set on it yet so your brutal honesty is welcome!

Super Bowl XLVI!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This weekend we drove down to Indy to hang out in the Super Bowl Village (also known as 'the epicenter of awesome') which I must say was quite spectacular. Even though I wouldn't call myself a major football fan, I still love being around big crowds and witnessing the energy and excitement that comes with celebrating one of America's favorite pastimes. And it's always fun to be with friends and soak in some great people watching, including a few celebs! (My friend was sitting one row behind Lil Jon on her flight from New York, Ivanka Trump walked right by us with her husband, we saw Nicki Minaj pull out of her hotel and hubby got a picture with... see below!)

  (my Jimmy John's cup made into nearly every photo. What can I say, I'm a fan.)

The city looked pretty. The weather was truly perfect.

We took flying photo's in front of our favorite teams...

We found $1,000,000,000 dollars! 

But the real jackpot was meeting...
  Kenneth!! (Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock)

Of course we watched the game and partied in the streets afterward (but we won't share pictures of that here) ;)

And now it's Tuesday and I wish you a happy one!

P.S. The other big event on Sunday was the arrival of Jason Wu at Target. Who got lucky? Spill the beans! 

Loving Lace

Friday, February 3, 2012

1. Onyx Cuff  /  2. Packing Tape  /  3. Polish Strips  /  4. Swimsuit   /  5. Tee

With the day of luv upon us what's more romantical than lace? It can be sweet, sexy or downright sultry. These days I'm loving it with casual undertones - a manicure, a tee shirt, even packing tape. Wouldn't you love to receive a box taped in lace??

P.S. Every time I proofread this post I thought sultry said slutty. Did you, too?? Ah!