Part 1 of many NYFW posts

February 16th, 2012

This is going to be my claim-to-fame for a while so I’m gonna break it down into sections and milk it. Plus, I don’t want to bombard you with too much text and not enough pics – I get chatty when I’m excited. I’m gonna start with my celebrity sightings while in NYC. There actually weren’t many, oddly enough.

SIDE NOTE: A couple years ago while in the city, my husband and I and a couple of friends of ours stumbled upon the ‘True Grit’ movie premiere. We stood there like idiots and watched the biggest names in Hollywood stroll out of the theater and head to the after party. Some kind folks that happened to attend the showing but couldn’t go to the party handed us a couple tickets. The four of us decided to be bold and just walk into the party like we belonged there (and like we had enough tickets). We ended up being successful and standing next to DeNiro and Damon and Bridges and Brolin (all very short, mind you) and loads of other names that I can’t even remember. Even on my last trip to Manhattan in the summer I ran into Simon Doonan (aka My floral-shirted HERO).

Needless to say I was expecting to see oodles of famous faces since they were all technically gathered in a very small radius. But other than a few stylists and street-style pic regulars, somehow I only saw a handful of celebs and heard that Victoria Beckham was in Prada on Fifth Ave right before I walked in. I did see one of the fashion bloggers that I follow from eat.sleep.wear. And in the front-row of the Monique Lhuillier show I spotted Kate Mara and Nina Dobrev of the Vampire Diaries (and on the cover of every magazine this month).


Outside Lincoln Center, my husband pointed out an older gentleman with a camera and called him Bill Cunningham. He would have said this about ANY older gentleman with a camera but he happened to be correct his time! If you don’t know who Bill is (which I didn’t until after I watched his documentary called Bill Cunningham New York), he is the original street-style photographer (even before the Sartorialist) and he is the most interesting person I have learned about in a long time. He simply takes pictures of fascinating people – whether they are in Gucci or Gap. I followed behind him like a fool trying to decide if I should tell him how great he is. But just as I was building up my resolve, a lovely older woman with a camera approached him and said just what I was thinking. His response: he grimaced and shooed her away. He doesn’t believe he’s a celebrity and isn’t caught up in who’s who of fashion, which makes him awesome. I am a little upset he didn’t photograph me while I was right there, but maybe he was on his lunch break….

The countdown begins!

February 14th, 2012

I am completely packed for my trip to Fashion Week and if I don’t lock my suitcase and walk away I will repack the whole thing over again.  But here is another outfit I will be taking with me to wear to the Monique Lhuillier Ready-to-Wear show on Saturday. One of my favorite ways to dress is to mix the high and low price-points. I love finding pieces in obscure places so I don’t end up having the same, trendy outfit that everyone else has from a popular store. I shop EVERYWHERE and love the challenge of making something that others would find ugly into something chic.

Sweater Dress: Old Navy

Boots: Nannette Lepore from (purchased several years ago)

Leopard Pony Belt: Another Line, Inc. from Macy’s

Handbag: Kristen Bell for Erica Anenberg

Leather Jacket: Michael Kors from Nordstrom

Sunglasses: Dolce & Gabbana from SunglassHut

Bracelet: Lucky Brand from TJ Maxx

Ring: Murano Glass from Italy (cheap souvenir that I love)

Necklace: D&G from Nordstrom (no longer available)

***Shopping Tip of the day: All of the above items were purchased for at least 30% off – the handbag was 80% off! Some pieces are worth splurging on – classic shapes and styles that you can wear for years. But don’t pay full price unless you ABSOLUTELY have to! My moto is: always check the sale rack first (which is usually in the back). Pretty much everything goes on sale at one point or another and if you can be patient and learn how the mark-downs work throughout the year, you will save tons of money. And it can help keep you focused when you shop so you don’t fall for the fancy displays of full-price items in the front of the store. Always check for coupons and work the retail system.

Check back for more shopping tips from a life-long shopping professional!


NYC, looking forward to seeing you…

February 7th, 2012

Another outfit in the running for fashion week is this sexy (and super uncomfortable) number. If I’m in the mood to stop breathing for the evening, this will be my pick!

Wool Corset: Herve Leger from the BCBG Outlet

Lace Skirt: Gabriella Rocha from

Trench Coat: Burberry

Shoes: My faithful JCPenney booties, similar ones here from Cole Haan

Necklace: Modern Cameo from Steinmart (purchased many years ago)

Tights: Most likely from Target

Clutch: Hobo International Lauren

(best wallet I’ve ever owned, look for them on Ebay)

Belts: H&M

Bracelets: Gold Monet cuff from Macy’s and other randoms from the clearance rack

***Styling Tip of the Day: When I was having trouble finding a belt with mixed metal finishes, I purchased these two from H&M and connected them end to end. The were under $13 (for real leather!) and can be worn many different ways.

Because the world needs another fashion blog!

February 5th, 2012

I have the immense privilege of attending a fashion show next Saturday during fashion week in NYC. This is not only a dream come true, but a reason to make a special trip to the city I love most. While the weather may be dreary, I am still excited about the challenge to look chic without freezing to death.  I finally had to break-down and buy a REAL winter coat (i.e. heavy wool, very long and warm). I got a killer deal on it and while it’s not super fashion-forward, it’s a classic shape and color that I can keep forever.

For the few days leading up to my trip, I am going to chronicle my outfit options because frankly, where else am I going to have the opportunity to dress like this? I’d love to hear your comments on what you love/hate or just plain don’t get.

My wonderfully patient photographer-friend is Leslie Houx of Sweet Child of Mine Photography. We had a blast taking these pics despite the fact that I have a special scowl that I reserve for cameras. “Relax your brow” she would say gently and often. What can I say, there’s a reason I’m not a professional model.


Coat: Fleurette from Nordstrom Rack

Dress: Printed jersey (and so comfy) Rachel by Rachel Roy from Macy’s

Clutch: Vintage Tooled Leather

Scarf: Jersey Infinity scarf from Nordstrom

(I wear this constantly because it’s light weight and soft but warm and great for travel)

Tights: Target?

Shoes: Leather booties by Worthington for JCPenney

(but dangerously similar to these Cole Haan ones)

Bracelet: Red plastic bangle circa 1990-something from my mom’s closet

**And my styling tip for the day: Don’t pay attention to sizes. If you like something – try it on! My closet has EVERY size it in, from XS to XXL, 2-12.

It’s all about how you wear it. Fit >Numbers



Magic of Minnesota

January 6th, 2012

Over the holidays I spent 10 days in Edina, Minnesota visiting my husband’s relatives. While we were hoping for a white Christmas, we didn’t get much snow. But that allowed us to get out more and see things that otherwise would have been a hassle. I spent one afternoon with my parents visiting the James J. Hill house in St. Paul. It is the massive estate of the late railroad entrepreneur and continues to be maintained by the historical society. This home was not only huge, but covered in the most intricately detailed carvings and packed with super high-tech for the time amenities. I snapped a few shots with my phone that don’t do it justice. I highly recommend seeing this house if you find yourself in the Twin Cities. Actually, the entire street of Summit Ave is lined with Victorian-era homes that will make your jaw drop.

Xmas of a different color

December 7th, 2011

If  it were up to me, I would have a small sparkly, fake tree hanging from the ceiling. But since my family doesn’t share the same flair for the unexpected, I have to go the more traditional route when it comes to decorating a tree. So, once again we have put up a standard Douglas Fir. However, because my husband has a flair for the dramatic, he purchased the largest tree on the lot. We’re talking a 10-1/2 foot beast of a tree that took us about 7 hours to get into the house. I’m pretty sure there is an outdoor shopping center that didn’t receive their giant tree this year because it is crammed in our dining room. Once we purchased an extra 300 lights or so, we finally have the thing set-up and decorated. My normal color palette for decor is what I use for the holidays as well – blues, greens, purples and metallics. Whenever I come across anything remotely Christmas-themed in those colors, I buy it immediately. For example: ever seen a turquoise Jesus? I didn’t even paint it, it came that way! I purchased some new stockings this year from Crate & Barrel (for $5!) to go with the pair I bought years ago from Anthropologie (I think…?). Anyway, I spent most of the year trying to get my decor just how I want it, so I don’t use the holidays as an excuse to change it all – although you’d think I would. I prefer to keep it to a minimum in one area of the house. That way there is far less stress involved in set-up and tear-down. Practicality > Holiday Decorations, at least in my book.


What to buy me for Christmas #4

November 20th, 2011

This is the fourth post of my ‘What to buy me for Christmas’ series. Please leave comments with any gift-finding questions.

Everyone should own a robe and while they vary drastically in price and style, they generally give the sentiment of luxury and relaxation – who on your list wouldn’t want that?  I own a couple robes and they each serve a different purpose. My big, cozy robe used to belong to my dad and it has fond memories woven through its 1980’s striped velour. I also have a light, cotton robe for summer, but I don’t have a nice, silky, feminine robe that has a sense of luxury and class. I stay at home with my kids and work out of my house, so lounge wear is an important part of my wardrobe. When I’m not going anywhere, it seems that this robe would  be a step up from my ugly pajamas or exercise clothes. It is made of vintage silk saris. Not only is it from recycled materials, each one is unique, bright colored and beautiful. I found it in a catalog called Acacia and while I’ve never ordered from them, they somehow got my address. Most of their stuff has an earthy, yoga, zen-vibe, but there are other styles mixed in. Another fun robe for a more elegant (and maybe dramatic) feel is this starlet robe from Soft Surroundings. Again- no clue where these random catalogs come from, but I’m trying to broaden your horizons here. If the prices of these robes seem too steep, there is always the option of pairing a backward Snuggie with a chic belt. Try to guess if I’m kidding.

And one of my best-kept shopping secrets…..whenever I order ANYTHING online, I check retail-me-not for coupons first.

Kindergarten has happened. My life must now change.

November 15th, 2011

The whole transition from baby-rearing to school-aged humans is difficult for me. Most of the damage I did while they were younger will be forgotten, but now they will start remembering. And taking mental notes to tell a therapist in the future. All this to say that my son started kindergarten and we needed an easy way to stay organized so we didn’t forget anything in the morning rush. We have an odd wall in the hallway that was not being used to its full potential, so I decided to make it our school home-base.

I’ve been wanting to use reclaimed wood for years now and I decided to tackle it in this small space to see how it worked out. I grabbed some disgusting, rotting wood from my grandparent’s backyard and started sanding, spraying and cleaning. Once I was convinced that all the critters/rot/funk were gone, I started painting them to look like they were all from different buildings and signs. I dry-brushed them and spray painted a few stencils to create the effect. Since I am lazy, I decided it would be an abstract installation instead of a fully covered wall (so I wouldn’t have to cut or measure anything).

I had a collection of cool hooks and clips for a different project that didn’t happen, so they found a home on top of these boards. I randomly placed them so the kids could reach some and not others. I stole the clock from my family room (I was sick of looking at it in that spot anyway) and made it the final piece. The end product has enough room for jackets, hats, bags, helmets, keys, notes and important papers.  Even my umbrella and sunglasses found a happy spot to rest. Now I have less of an excuse to be late for school.

What to buy me for Christmas #3

November 10th, 2011

In my quest to find interesting gifts that yours truly would love to own, I’ve come across a home decor item that I must rant about first. Ottomans, poufs, floor pillows, whatever you want to call them – are so versatile. They can be tucked under tables and benches for extra seating or just used to fill empty spaces in larger rooms. They can act as tables with trays on top, foot-rests, and temporary places to perch. Not only are they (usually) affordable, but they are a quick way to add color, depth and interest to your space.

That said, I want several of these knitted poufs. I’ve been eyeing the ones on CB2, trying to decide which color would work best for me. Then they had to go and add more colors and start making them at other stores (Cost Plus!) and now I’m really stumped. One of the reasons I like this particular pouf is because it works with nearly every decor style. Modern, eclectic, traditional – you name it, it works.

These two poufs differ by about $20 in price, so I’m curious if the difference in quality is noticeable. If you are interested in purchasing one, they have all of the colors in-store at Cost Plus, or if you spend $99 at CB2 you get free shipping.

What to buy me for Christmas #2

November 7th, 2011

In case you missed my first post, I’m doing a series of gift ideas that I love. Next on my list is a perfume that I read about in some random fashion magazine. I’m not super into fragrances and when there are lengthy articles about the ‘top notes’, I move on. But this had a quick description of Fendi’s new smell being inspired by their vintage leather handbags and jasmine. Sold! I love the smell of leather and at the risk of making animal-lover enemies, I will never buy the fake stuff. My leather jackets, boots – even my sofa, are my favorite items because of how they age and wear and smell. That said, I tracked down a sample of the perfume – Fan Di Fendi and I love it. Fragrance is a very personal thing to buy and I advise only buying a perfume that is specifically requested or that can be returned. I learned the hard way last year…. sorry mom, the bottle was so pretty!

The holidays are sneaking up on me

November 2nd, 2011

The first step of starting the holiday season off right is having an egg nog latte from Starbucks. Done. Now, I start pulling all of my scarves and gloves out of my closet to air out the ‘I’ve been crammed in a small space for too long’ smell. Next, I will start my shopping list. Often when I am looking for gift ideas for friends and family, I end up only finding things that I want. So, in honor of my new positive spin on the season – I’m gonna document all the things I want but truly don’t need – which is the definition of a gift, in my opinion. This will be the first of a series entitled ‘What to buy me for Christmas’. Please don’t feel obligated to buy these items for me (did that really need to be said?), just use them as inspiration to start your gift shopping – because if I happen to like something, maybe your loved ones will, too.

I really don’t want to set any parameters for this, so prices and topics will be all over the place. But if you want help finding a gift for a certain someone or need ideas in a certain price range, please leave a comment or message me. I receive an obscene amount of catalogs in the mail, as well as emails from every shopping site known to man. My goal is to show you cool, unexpected places to buy things, as well as giving you tips on how to use the gifts – whether for fashion or home or beauty or whatever.

And so my wishlist begins with these super cute mini chairs from Chiasso. Now, why on earth would someone want doll house-sized chairs? Well, because I can’t afford the real thing right now and don’t have the space for them anyway. This group of chairs includes the most iconic designs of the 1950’s-1970’s. I would put this set on a display shelf, or across a mantel. They could even be used for place card holders at your dining room table. They are a great way to show that you appreciate the designers of decades past without having to get a personal loan.

If you aren’t familiar with Chiasso, it’s a great source for funky, modern pieces in a mid to high price-point – depending on what you compare it to, of course. I have ordered a few pieces in the past and the quality seems good. Right now they are offering free shipping and have a ton of unique gifts.

Amazing knock-off alert!

July 18th, 2010

I just received the latest issue of the Home Decorators catalog and I was so excited to see their new stuff! Most notably, they have new aluminum chairs – for indoor and outdoor use, that are knock-offs of some of the most iconic chairs around. I dream of someday owning the real thing, but for now, these affordable options are a great way to have high-end style on a low-end budget. First is the Marais A chair, common to French cafes. The real thing, found at Design Within Reach is $250.  Home Decorator’s version: the Garden side chair is $99. Pretty good deal, I’d say. But wait until you see the Philippe Stark Kong chair – usually $1,200, HD calls their version the Samantha chair, and it comes with or without arms and in a variety of colors for $129-$149. Brilliant! I’m buying them for my patio. I’ve read some of the reviews and these tend to be on the smaller side, so keep that in mind when ordering. They still carry the affordable version of the Navy chair by Emeco, it’s called the Sandra and it comes in different heights and some even swivel.

Also worth noting are the Industrial accent tables. They come in end, coffee and console styles, as well as round, adjustable heights with reclaimed wood tops.

And the gallery wall grows….

July 14th, 2010

I toyed with the idea of leaving a few spaces on my walls empty, then my collector/pack-rat genes kicked in. I decided to create a GIANT gallery wall in my family room. The goal is to cover every inch of it (I can hang things on the lower half when the kids get older). My mom has found most of these interesting pieces at random antique and thrift stores for me. I enjoy the challenge of properly filling the gaps instead of gathering all my items at once and evenly laying them out. As you can see, my philosophy is: the stranger the better. I love when people walk in and just stare for a moment, usually with no comments. It may be hard to tell in the pictures, but my wall art includes, but is not limited to: paint-by-numbers, framed embroidery, CD covers, playing cards, a guitar, family photos, vintage crumb trays, and old Sunday school book illustrations.

Ps- I wanna give a shout-out to my amazing husband that allows me to do this stuff.

My first, real before & after pic

July 10th, 2010

I came across some pictures I took of our house while we were in escrow on it over 2 years ago. It was so fun to see how far we’ve come. Now my goal is take some ‘after’ shots at the same angles for the best effect. This is the first of many – but there are only so many (kid-napping) hours in a day.

I am currently in a manic creative phase. I am full of inspiration and I have multiple projects going at once. Now, hopefully it will last long enough for me to finish them. Painting the fireplace has been a long process but I am happy to say it’s finally complete! And after buying tons of drapes and returning them, turns out I didn’t have to look any further than my family room for my new window treatments. Yes, these lovely teal drapes have been hiding in my family room and I was so happy to move them to a more appropriate (and less child-occupied) room. The hardware is actually PVC pipe covered in some fabric sleeves that I whipped together on my sewing machine. The tie backs are giant zippers I picked up at Jo-Ann fabric for 50 cents a piece.

RIP Domino, Welcome Lonny Magazine

June 30th, 2010

I may be a little behind on this, but better late than never, right? Domino magazine – my favorite interior magazine EVER, folded in early 2009, along with some other great shelter mags. The final blow was the recent removal of online content. A collective moan was heard throughout the country and the founders of Domino, Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline, decided to do something about it. In October of 2009 they launched Lonny, an online magazine full of domino-esque spreads and amazing design ideas and sources. I virtually flipped through the recent issue was pleasantly surprised by the amount of content they could fit in a single issue. Because there are no page limits, they can feature an entire home instead of one or two rooms. My favorite features: you can click on something you like in a picture and it takes you directly to a link with more info and it’s free! Yep. Just sign-up with your name and email address and it’s free for your viewing pleasure. I’m so excited to peruse the archives in my spare time.

Some other exciting news for Domino lovers is that (don’t ask me why, just be thankful) purchased the content and has some of it available for viewing on their website. I have recently realized how popular Domino truly was and I noticed on ebay full sets of the magazine (37 issues) are still selling for over $600! Or single issues for over $25. Too bad I can only find 8 copies in my collection…..and I may have ripped out all the good pages already.

Alternatives to your standard bath vanities

June 28th, 2010

I’m pretty much into all things alternative when it comes to design. I don’t like the feeling of being pressured into doing what is expected. And who says your bathroom vanities need to be wood cabinets with doors or drawers? Or that you must have a giant, boring mirror and a light fixture that matches your faucets? I say do what you want.

I used wood cabinets in my master bath, but they are extra large (refrigerator cabinets, actually) and sitting on custom metal bases. The integral sink top from Kohler was my choice for ease in cleaning. The mirrors were cut to fit my favorite Ikea frames and the sconces were the the best options to properly light the space.

My other bathroom, shared by our kids and guests, has a similar pale palette and unique cabinetry. However, this look was due to a measuring error on my part – I don’t recommend remodeling while pregnant. Luckily a shiny piece of furniture can pretty much fix anything.

Desire to inspire is one of the many design blogs I follow and they posted this wonderful round-up of unique dressers used as bath vanities. Makes me wish I had more than two bathrooms…..

Shine by S.H.O. and a couple other brilliant items

June 21st, 2010

I’m in love with all of the products from Shine right now and I’m in the process of setting up a designer account so I can actually buy this stuff. I’m sure it’s pricey but I at least want to know I have the option to purchase it if I feel so inclined.

I always enjoy things that have multiple uses – mostly because it is easier to justify the purchase in the first place. And if my roommates (a.k.a. children) didn’t have the tendency to destroy everything, I would be buying these spring flowers from MollaSpace as a room dividing curtain for my dining room/office.

These invisible switch plates are one of those things that should have been invented ages ago. This is not rocket science, people. Forbes & Lomax make them in clear for wallpaper applications and an etched, paint-able surface for painted walls.

The beautiful midwest

June 15th, 2010

I just spent the last 4 days in lovely Edina, MN with my husband’s extended family. It is an upscale suburb of Minneapolis. His grandparents live near an amazing golf course and all the houses are surrounded by small lakes and ponds. The rolling green lawns have no fences and more trees than a poor Californian can fathom. We drove around on Sunday gawking at all the million dollar homes and I wanted to give you a peek at what I spent the weekend drooling over. Just a side note: I have only visited the area in summer and during oddly cool weather. So, in my head this wonderland has perfect temperatures all year long and is always green. I realize that this is not the case, but in the fantasy where I own one of these homes, it’s true.

I also had the chance to visit the cutest little shopping area in downtown Edina called 50th & France. The highlight was the designer resale shop, but it also had an Anthropologie, Ann Taylor Loft, Sur La Table, Caribou Coffee (way better than Starbucks! Why don’t we have one?), and various other boutiques. I can’t wait to go back and spend more time there.

Liberty of London for Target: The full report

June 14th, 2010

I have been hearing about this Liberty of London collaboration for months and I even had it on my calendar to visit target today and buy every single thing they had. But on Thursday I walked into target (yes, I’m there at least twice a week) and found they already had the LOL bedding on the shelves! Naturally, I purchased a couple throw pillows, because you can never have to many of those. Ha. Then I went this morning expecting empty racks and screaming women. Nope. Although it is mostly sold out online, it was only slightly picked over and they are promising more of a selection in the next couple weeks. So, I grabbed a couple candles, some file folders, clipboards and notepads for my desk, and gloves and a plant pot as a gift. I tried on nearly every piece of clothing and was sorely disappointed. I know the quality of these designer collaborations has been questioned over the years, but I was hoping this one would be different. The clothes looked good at a distance, but close up they were not so hot. Who can sport a 8″ ruffle right around their hips and look slim? And the tiered ruffle dress in a size large looks horrendous. The bathing suits were also ill-fitting and not flattering. I bought this camisole and the last minute without trying it on. It’s super cute, but my husband says I look 6 months pregnant. Ugh. That will be going back. If I had any free time, I would be selling this stuff on ebay for three times the original price. See, it’s not just me that gets crazy about this stuff. Did I mention that I have been obsessed with peacock and paisley prints for as long as I can remember? It irks me that it is so trendy now, but I figure everyone else will get over it and I can love it again when it’s considered passe. As with most of these super hip collections, many of the pieces will end up on the clearance shelves in 2 months. But you should all know by now that I’m not that patient.

To summarize my thoughts on the subject: Super cute prints, great for the cheaper, throw away stuff. Don’t plan on any of it lasting longer than a season, but very fun to see something new at my favorite store. And honestly, the non-high-end designer clothes in the store are equally as cute. I’m just a sucker for labels. And if you have any more questions about this stuff and don’t want to waste a trip to the store, just email me. I still have all sorts of opinions on the topic, but this entry is getting way too long…..


Since I am running out of room inside, let's move outdoors

June 11th, 2010

I pretty much can’t cram any more furniture in my house at this point. My next step is to start replacing what already exists, which is slightly harder to justify. But, I happen to have a giant front porch area that is screaming for attention. Outdoor furniture has never really thrilled me because it doesn’t last. And no matter how cute it is new, the dirt and grime and bird poop really take away from the overall look. And I’ve got enough stuff to clean inside, so the patio doesn’t get much attention. However, we are finally taking the step to cover our hideous red brick columns out front with some pretty stacked stone veneers. Once that happens (hopefully this week), I will then tackle the challenging project of the ugly gray concrete. Then the horrendous front door situation. Ugh. As if the oak wasn’t bad enough, the ice block and leaded glass really put me over the edge. As my reward for finishing these projects and probably long after my hiatus ends, I will buy some cute new patio furniture like this from Grandin Road. Or these from Pier 1, or maybe those from CB2….

Bessant Designs