Wednesday, February 27, 2013

preppy at heart: monogram love

monogram bracelet, monogram ring, monogram cuff, monogram necklace

Shown above: gold three-letter necklace from Max & Chloe
Design Darling monogram cuff
K Kane two-letter signature pendant from BaubleBar
gorjana stackable alphabet ring
three-letter monogram bracelet from Etsy

Monograms are by far one of my favorite accessories. I'd love to monogram everything in my life...  well, almost everything.

The three-letter monogram is the most traditional, but other variations, like this silver two-letter monogram, are just as great. One of my favorite daily reads, For Chic Sake, has free printable monograms in a few different styles. I keep meaning to print one and frame it for my home office. I recently purchased one of the gorjana stackable rings- numerical, rather than alphabetical- and it's such a fun piece of jewelry. And that Design Darling monogram cuff belongs on every preppy girl's wrist.

Confused about monogram etiquette? This handy guide tells you how to monogram something for your best friend who is getting married but keeping her last name (or, even more confusing, hyphenating!).

What do you think about the monogram trend- do you wear your monogram?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscars 2013 style recap

Happy Monday, everyone! Let's talk Oscars...

My favorite looks of the night were on Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Garner, Sandra Bullock, and Jessica Chastain.

Jennifer Aniston Oscars, Jennifer Garner Oscars, Sandra Bullock Oscars, Jessica Chastain Oscars, Oscars 2013

Jennifer Aniston looked stunning in a red Valentino Haute Couture gown, and while she could have gone for something more exciting with her hair, I thought it was appropriate for the look to say red carpet rather than prom.
- I love the back of Jennifer Garner's custom Gucci gown, which was a fun twist on the otherwise simple silhouette.
- Sandra Bullock's Elie Saab Haute Couture looked gorgeous on her. I was waiting for someone to do the lace and beading trend right!
- Jessica Chastain, a fellow redhead, rocked a subtle chevron print on her Armani PrivĂ©, looking like a subtly sexy version of Jessica Rabbit. Bonus points for bringing her grandmother to the show!

And on my "what were you thinking?" list:  Kelly Rowland and Anne Hathaway.

Kelly Rowland Oscars, Anne Hathaway Oscars, Oscars 2013

Kelly's dress reminded me of Angelina Jolie's 2012 Oscars gown so much that it seemed to scream,  "I hope my leg goes viral too!". Meanwhile, Anne looked like she was going to a prom in the late 1990s. Just...why? I've seen these ladies dressed far better, like Anne here and here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

style inspired: Oscar style favorites

I'm excited to see what gorgeous gowns show up on Sunday night's Oscars broadcast, so today I'm looking back at some of my favorite looks - and how you can recreate each of them.

1. Penelope Cruz looked amazing in this Atelier Versace gown in 2007, and you can copy her look with a feminine bandage dress from Herve Lager. Bonus- you don't have to have a black tie event to wear the A-line Lager. (Romona Kaveza has a similar bridal gown- with less bandage, more chiffon-, which the new Mrs. Hefner chose for her New Year's Eve nuptials.)

2. Mila Kunis's 2011 choice from Elie Saab is one of my all-time favorites. This red lace gown is a more dramatic- but still boldly feminine- option.

3. At first, I didn't think Hilary Swank's 2005 Guy Laroche gown was anything special - until I saw it from the back. Gorgeous! I'd copy this look any day. This black Nicole Miller, available at Rent the Runway for a steal of $125, is a still-dramatic but safer option for those of us who don't walk a red carpet on the regular.

Follow me on Twitter to find out my thoughts on this year's red carpet wonders.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ready for vacation

That vacation I talked about has finally been booked, and even though it's not soon enough, I'm mentally planning what to bring for our Mexican vacation.

tried and true Old Navy flip flops
an easy t-shirt dress
blue sunnies
convertible cover up

I'm also looking at a new bikini (with ruffles, of course) and an easy beach tote.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

the making of a bar cart

building a bar cart, putting together a bar cart, Target bar cart

Target bar cart, Target drink cart

I've been hunting for a bar cart for what seems like ages, and I haven't been able to find one that I love in my price range. And then I found this one, which was a steal at $65 (thanks, Target!), and I had to have it.
It arrived in a heavy box, and I got all of the pieces out in my work space (the living room), with my trusty sidekick helping (by napping). At first, my little project did not look like much, but quickly (and after just one mistake that I fixed in a few minutes), it was standing upright!

Please excuse the iPhone photos- someday I will invest in a "real" camera!

Once it was done, I played around with where to place it in the dining room. The room is an exact square, which makes it kind of awkward for furniture. Sprout came in to check out where I had placed it, which was under his portrait. And then he thought he would pose in front of it.

It doesn't 100% fit with the traditional dining room set we have, so I moved it into the kitchen where it's closer to the rest of the glassware and fits better style-wise. I'm so glad I finally have my bar cart! I'm considering adding gold touches to it, but it'll stay as-is for now.

On top are my Altuzarra glasses and shaker, which I wrote about here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sprout turns 2

Today is February 16, which means it's Sprout's 2nd birthday! And what better way to celebrate the cutest part of my life than a photo collage of some of my favorite moments of adorableness (I'm biased, what can I say)!

In his 2 years, Sprout has been featured on as the cutest pet of the day and is also the image that greets you for a local dog training company, Paws Alive. He has also saved the life of a fellow canine (Jim, pictured with Sprout) while out on a casual walk. In short, he is pretty awesome.

Happy birthday, Sprout!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

healthy snack: zucchini chips

I came across this recipe for baked zucchini chips and had to try it. They came out great, and I'm excited to make them again for a healthy snack.

baked zucchini chips, healthy snack

Recently, I've decided to try new recipes and make more than the 5 things I know by heart how to cook well. These zucchini chips are a nice change of pace from office pretzels for the workday afternoon, and (bonus) they're healthy! 

The first batch I made were done in a frying pan with olive oil. They cooked really fast and were delicious. The next batch I made in the oven, as the recipe suggests. It took a while for them to cook, and the thinner pieces were done faster than the given time on the recipe. Next time I make these, I'll slice the zucchini thinner (and not have to wait the 2+ hours for the thicker pieces!).

With enough salt, you might be able to convince yourself that these are actually potato chips.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

splurge vs. save: capped toe heels

Who wants to talk about shoes? That's what I thought. 

These capped heels are a great way to add some interest to an outfit. They definitely follow the dual-fabric trend we've seen everywhere, from celebrities to bloggers and beyond. I'd wear the black ones with black skinny pants for work, and the jeweled tone version (in blue, my favorite color) from Target would be fun for a night out. For another splurge version, check out the Jean-Michel Cazabat ($275), which I am mildly obsessed with.
capped toe heels, Target heels, Jean-Michel Cazabat, Anne Klein heels
Splurge version: Anne Klein ($89)
Save version: Target ($23)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February covet list

Gorjana, Anne Klein, Kate Spade, Rebecca Minkoff

Bows, studs, and lace: Rebecca Minkoff bag // Kate Spade dress // Gold lace cuff
Dainty details: Gorjana bar bracelet
Dual-fabric stunners: leather top dress // Anne Klein pumps

February's covet list is all about texture and girly things. This leather-and-crepe dress is one of my favorite finds lately, and the lace detail on the cuff is beautiful. February is a tough month in New England. Part of me wants to stay in the winter mindset with darker colors and heavier fabrics, and the other part of me wants to dive into the spring months, with sorbet-colored bags and bow-backed dresses.

Monday, February 11, 2013

weekend recap with Sprout

Sprout experienced his first New England blizzard this weekend! 

Normally he loves the snow, but the 2 feet dumped in our yard over one night has made for a very difficult time finding his normal "route" on our walks. It doesn't seem like it in the photo below, but the snow is actually taller than he is.

He was quite the little trouper on Friday, riding around with me to fill up the gas tank in the car and get some last-minute essentials like bread and matches. 

Since getting the snow, Sprout has opted to spend most of the weekend indoors, playing and taking frequent naps. Romping in the snow is tiring!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

on using Petfinder to adopt Sprout

With Sprout's second birthday coming up next week, I thought I'd dedicate a few posts to the little fuzz ball who stole my heart. Today, I'm talking about what we went through to find the little guy. can be a bit more difficult than you think.

T and I talked about getting a dog and decided that if we found the "right" dog, we would both be 100% on board. Both of us grew up with dogs and love animals, so it was not a difficult thing to agree on, especially with our new house, complete with a sizable (and partially fenced) backyard. I made it practically a part-time job to check animal listings on, where I had heard quite a few success stories of adoptions.

Having grown up with a well-bred Bichon Frise, who was allergic to everything (including cats and certain types of grass) and therefore cost my parents a lot of money, I was not opposed to finding a lovable mutt from a shelter rather than going the breeder route. My requirements were not extreme: I wanted the dog to be less of a shedder (so not a dog that you could touch and have hair fall all over you) and somewhere around 30lbs. We did have to be a bit picky on personality though, because we knew our hypothetical pet would have to get along with both other dogs and children.

But application after application went in and I constantly heard back that the dog was already adopted, an adoption was pending, or we lived too far away. I started to get frustrated with the process. How was I supposed to adopt an animal in need if there were no animals to adopt?

I talked to a few breeders, thinking maybe we would go with a breeder instead of a shelter, but they wanted a lot of money for a puppy, there was no option for a slightly older dog, and those ASPCA commercials (Sarah MacLachlan, anyone?) made me feel guilty.

Eventually we found Maggie, a sweet-looking dark-haired mix who was under a year old and living in New Hampshire with a foster, a short road trip from our home. We were approved for her and had the home visit- where representatives, usually prior adopters, come to your home to make sure you actually have the space you say you do- and made the drive to see the little girl. She was so sweet, but bigger than I had anticipated, and she jumped- a lot. But still, I was ready to start shopping for her accessories as we drove home to talk about it. After a day or so, I realized that the combination of Maggie's jumping and her shedding were outside of our comfort zone, and our search continued.

And then one day I saw that a rescue group in Connecticut had 3 puppies and their mother, all available for adoption. There was a video with the puppies' descriptions, and Winter, Sprout, and Cookie (the pups) were adorable. One of the puppies (pointed out in the video as Sprout) picked up a stick and then tripped over it, and I was in love. Sprout was described in his write-up: "Sprout bounces when he walks and tries to bounce into your lap.  They are all lap pups who love to romp and play." 

Here is Sprout's 5-week old photo, taken at his foster's home.

Emails turned into an application and then reference checks, first with my childhood dog's vet and then with my best friend, T's brother-in-law, and others. Because we didn't already have a dog in the home, I was told that we probably would not be chosen for one of these puppies. But eventually (and not without tears, more emails, and lots of anticipation) we were, and we made arrangements for Sprout to be flown from Texas to Boston, where we would pick him up at the airport. I was so excited to meet him, and nervous that the first meeting would be when we were bringing him home.

Sprout at 12 weeks old, taken at his foster's home.

It sounds dramatic, but picking him up was an extremely memorable moment. We arrived at the cargo area of the airport and were taken into a huge warehouse, where there was a small crate on the floor, nothing else around it. The warehouse operator closed the massive garage door so that we could open the crate, and out peeked Sprout, a small, fluffy, timid pup. We took him out to a grassy area so we could get acquainted, and we took these first "family photos".

Sprout cared to explore more than he wanted to get to know me.

But he and T were best friends from the start.

This is one of my all-time favorite photos.

At home, exploring the backyard from a safe spot in the kitchen.

I found using to be a time-consuming process, and it could be frustrating (expected, due to the nature of what I was using it for!), but in the end, it was all worth it. I'm glad that the shelters put so much time and energy into adopting out their available animals to the right homes. Would I do it again? Yes, of course!

Check back next week for more!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday musings

Monday is one thousand times better with a new haircut and a great big cup of Starbucks. And it's even better when you have promised yourself that at the end of a sure-to-be-tough week, you will finally book that vacation you've been talking about for the past few weeks to get away from the New England winter for a bit. Cheers to the week!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday thoughts

1. These button cookies from For Chic Sake are so cute- and don't have to be just for Christmas! They'd be adorable in a heart shape for your girls on Valentine's Day.

2. Social media screening is very real. Clean up your (digital) act before your next job hunt, and watch what you're putting out there the rest of the time.

3. I would really, really like to know how this lady pulled off a wedding under $200, as she claims. If you live in an apartment, are not good in the kitchen, and don't have hoards of friends willing to put down everything and help you DIY a wedding, you probably will not be able to do the same. But take a bride who has best friends with a bakery and a house on the Cape with a gorgeous (and huge) backyard and a cousin who can easily whip up meals for 50 people, and you're in luck. Helping my sister plan her wedding, I know that it is not easy in New England to plan a budget-friendly wedding.

And with that, have a fabulous weekend!
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