Tuesday, December 31, 2013

see ya, 2013

If there's one word for 2013, it is challenging.

There were some really, really tough times, the largest by far being the impact on my family from the attacks on one of my favorite cities at a 117-year old Patriots Day tradition.
There were some great times, including my sister's wedding to her boyfriend of 10 years...

(see? I'm the runt of the litter- Britt's wearing flats and I'm in heels. Sad face.)

and, oh yeah, one of my besties was the photographer that day! (photos via Mary Costa Photography)

...and my best friend married a great guy from college in a gorgeous August Cape Cod wedding.

T and I got engaged (!), started planning our wedding, and took a vacation across the country.

But in all of the crap of this year, and there was a lot of it, I was reminded by the goodness of people, especially in the hundreds who supported my family in April and since then. From cards from schoolchildren on the west coast to baked goods left on the porch from close friends, people cared, and it meant a lot.

So, 2013, we've had good times and bad, and I can't say I'm sad to see you go.

Happy New Year, and Cheers to 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

recent obsession: gold dinnerware

On this lazy Thursday, I've been doing important wedding planning like deciding how many dish sets I'm going to allow myself to register for. I had to share these beauties from Kelly Wearstler, first discovered a while ago via Alex's blog.

What do you think - how many dish sets is too many? :)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

after-Christmas sales

I hope that you enjoyed a fun-filled, magical Christmas, whether you celebrate the holiday or not. We traveled quite a bit, all in-state but we still logged quite a few hours in the car. I love being with my family during the holidays, as crazy as it can be sometimes.

Now, let me preface this post by saying that no, I do not think Christmas is all about presents. That said, inevitably, there will be something you really wanted that you didn't find under the tree. Take advantage of all of the sales out there this week! (Just avoid the malls - they are going to be insane.)

Sephora is giving an extra 20% off sale items with the code EXTRA20

Pottery Barn has up to 50% off holiday items. Pick up some cute glitter initial ornaments for next year or add this guy to your home for winter decor.

Macy's has dropped their free shipping hurdle to $75 with code JOY (normally you have to spend $99), plus get an extra discount on certain items. These Kate Spade dishes are an extra 15% off!

Nordstrom's half-yearly men's sale is on - or if you're like me, you're hoarding discounted (but still gorgeous) ribbon for next year's gift wrapping.

Find 30% off full-price items or an additional 40% off sale items at J.Crew with code GIFTNOW (get this gorgeous bracelet at 30% off!)

Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

homemade gift: lemon-vanilla body scrub

I recently spent more than I'd like to admit on a scrub that I love, and I was thinking - why not make my own? During the cold winter months, the oil base is just what my skin needs. And it makes a great DIY gift alternative to the typical bottle of wine.

You will need:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Sugar in the Raw (or other larger grain sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Jars (I used 8 ounce ball jars, typically used for canning)
  • Optional: Add small wooden spoons, tied to each with twine, for easy use
Note: This recipe fills about 3 jars. If you don't have Sugar in the Raw, you can use 3 cups granulated sugar instead. The consistency will be a little grainier, but the scrub still works well!

Mix your ingredients together in a large bowl and then scoop into your jars. Tie with something beautiful, add a label, and you're done! (This is almost too easy to make.)

Do you have a favorite DIY giftable? I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas card traditions

Think back to when you were younger at this time of year:  How many Christmas cards did your family get in the mail? One of my favorite traditions at Christmas is sending out cards to friends and family, but each year it feels like they're more and more being replaced by e-cards and Facebook messages (boooooo). Though mine will go out a little late this year (sorry, friends!), I plan to continue mailing them out year after year. If you were wondering, yes, I love getting Christmas cards!

Not sure what to do with the cards you get? Here are a few fun DIYs:

Christmas card ornaments from The Chaos and the Clutter
Christmas card holders from migonis home, mud pie studio, and Persia Lou

image via

Monday, December 9, 2013

sitting room reveal

decorating a small living room, sitting room, neutral living room

For a while, I've been trying to find the perfect couch for our sitting room. It had to be tufted, it had to be in a neutral color, and - oh, yeah - I wasn't willing to spend thousands on it.

Here's what the room looked like before:

We were using it as an office, and (as you can see) storage for whenever we got packages. Because our house isn't huge, we needed the extra space for entertaining, so we decided to turn T's office into a sitting room.

The deer print on the right is one of T's family items that had to stay on the wall, so I went with it and made this the "deer wall". 

Sprout's tree is up!

tufted couch, nailhead ottoman, zebra chairs
 (Yes, that pillow on the floor is supposed to be there. Sprout is spoiled.)

 Overall, I'm thrilled with how it came out.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 holiday gift guide: for the person who has everything

In this season of giving, it's very, very easy to get caught up in buying, especially during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness. Retailers scream deals at you, and you accumulate an incredible amount of stuff. Yes, you're giving it away (well, most of it... I won't lie, I buy a healthy amount for myself during the deal season), but there are things you can give that don't cost anything but your time. And for the sister or uncle who have everything, think about giving a donation in their name to a worthy cause that they would enjoy (in the past I've donated to animal shelters, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Red Cross).

If you're in the mood to give your time this season, here are some ideas on what you can do:

Host a food drive
For the past three years, I've done this at work with help from a couple of coworkers. With a little bit of effort, we have collected about 10,000 lbs of food for the local food bank. That's a year and a half's worth of feeding a family of four three meals a day. (Find out if your local food bank will pick up the items - most places are glad to do it for large donations.)

Send a card
There are a few organizations that send cards to wounded veterans or troops overseas. The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes asks for cards to arrive by December 6th (so you still have time!).

... or a care package
One organization I'm fond of around the holidays is Adopt-A-Platoon, through which you can send a care package to troops overseas. We've made it a Thanksgiving tradition to involve family members in writing out cards to include in the care package.

Check a volunteer site like VolunteerMatch.org to see if there are soup kitchens in your area that may need help. Or read your local paper - they're bound to do stories on individuals who run charitable organizations this time of year. And if you can't find a place that needs help at the holidays, check back in the summer months when their volunteer numbers are low.

Do you have a favorite organization that you support during the holidays?

definition via dictionary.com

Monday, December 2, 2013

BaubleBar giveaway

I'm thrilled to be teaming up with four amazing bloggers to bring you a BaubleBar giveaway for the holidays.

bling giveaway

There will be TWO winners, one for each necklace, randomly selected via rafflecopter. You have all week to participate, and the winners will be randomly selected at midnight on December 6th and announced on December 9th on Preppy Panache (and contacted via email). If you're contacted, you'll have 24 hours to claim or prize or another winner will be selected. We want to make sure that the winner receives it in time for most of the holiday festivities. Good luck, everyone! And now for the roll call of bloggers teaming up to bring you the bling:

bling giveaway2

Sunday, December 1, 2013

cozy knits + Christmas tree shopping

We went Christmas tree shopping during yesterday's crazy cold day. It's a lot easier (and cheaper) to have an artificial tree, but there's something I love about walking around a tree farm to find the perfect tree and then bringing it home. I'm so glad I had hidden a new pair of gloves in my bag, but I do wish I had worn something a bit cozier, like some of these knit options.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

girl gifting

One of the best things about having sisters - who wear practically the same size as me - is that shopping for Christmas is that much easier. Where I struggle with purchasing clothes for others because I can never figure out their size, it's rarely an issue with us. If I think the shoes are comfortable (in my size), chances are so will my sister.

And with all of the deals popping up over the past few weeks, and which I'm sure will be around for the next few weeks too, there's no harm in adding 2 to my cart*, right?

*This year I have vowed off any in-store shopping. It's all online shopping and packages galore!

Here are some sale items I'm considering (and some not on sale, just because):

giving thanks

If you haven't seen this list yet, you should check it out. It's very timely during this holiday week.

I'm so, so thankful for what I have and what I am able to give. I am continually reminded of the incredible people in my life, the opportunities I've been given, and fabulous things that are to come. Tomorrow we will be hosting a raucous dinner at our home - happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

recap: four week vacation

Your employer has given you four weeks to do whatever you want - outside of work - and you have to take all four weeks at once. So what would you do and where would you go? 

See some gorgeous new places...

make some new friends...

and find some new favorite places...

What a great vacation it was. Two weeks on the west coast, including a beautiful wedding of two of our friends (complete with dolphins in the background - for real), followed by two weeks at home doing everything I don't normally have time to do (like go to the gym). I have a newfound love for kale (thank you, Lovely's Fifty-Fifty of Portland), determined that I need real help when it comes to packing for a vacation (we had to mail ourselves packages - twice - because we didn't have enough room in our suitcases), and decided that I would 100% love to have a job where I could bring Sprout to work with me every day (someday?).

Sidenote: I also added two states to my 50 before 50 list!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2013 holiday gift guide: shop local

one // two // three // four // five
six // seven // eight // nine

Small Business Saturday is coming soon, and this year I'm inspired to give gifts that are meaningful and support small businesses. A personalized dog bowl for my sister's new puppy, monogrammed jewelry dish for my newly married bestie, and an adorable animal print for our friends with a new bundle of joy, all supporting local artists and business ladies, are some of my top picks for this giving season.

Do you make a conscious effort to support small businesses?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

beauty favorites under $50

beauty favorites under $50

Shop my favorites:

Whether you need stocking stuffers for the girls or a recommendation on a lipstick that won't break your budget, here are some of my favorite beauty items, each under $50.

Do you have a favorite that isn't on my list? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

why I'm avoiding Black Friday 2013

I'm going to tell you a secret:  I love giving gifts. I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I gift something that someone truly loves. But that can wreak havoc on my bank account, because no matter where I am, I tend to see something that reminds me of someone - and BAM - huge credit card bill.

That, my friends, is why I am avoiding Black Friday this year. Rather than grabbing items because they are a good deal (and figuring out who should get them later), I want to give meaningful gifts. Head over to my Pinterest board to see what kind of DIYs I will be tackling this year. The best ones may show up here next year!

image via

Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 holiday gift guide: for a lady who lounges

Are you ready for the holidays? Ready or not, retailers have started a lot earlier this year than last year (or at least it feels that way). You can blame the one fewer week between Thanksgiving and Christmas than we normally have - and enjoy the 2013 gift guides!

This season I'm inspired by Scandal's fabulous loungewear aka popcorn-and-wine clothes that Olivia Pope wears often. Any lady would love a pair of luxe pajamas (or these or these - different price ranges available!) or chic loungewear (love these too). If accessories better suit her, go for elbow-length gloves, jeweled gloves, or a cashmere wrap. And what lady wouldn't love a bottle of your favorite wine alongside some new, red-specific glasses - and the promise of a girls' night.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday sales

With so many sales happening right now, I'm having a hard time not spending too much on purchases I don't really need- so instead, I've already started my Christmas shopping! (And decorating, but we'll save that for another day.)

Old Navy's 30% off site wide sale makes these already-budget-friendly coats even more so (1 and 2). You can also find some great cozy knits that are also budget-friendly. Nordstrom's 40% off sale has these fab shoes and this gorgeous watch for much less than their normal prices. And J.Crew's 25% off sale (when you spend $100) has some great mixed media pieces, like this leather-sleeve top and this sweater. Happy Sunday shopping!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

city style linkup

Today I'm linking up with four other Boston bloggers. You can link up with us below!

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