Stellar stationery

I L.O.V.E. paper!  Notebooks, note cards, wrapping paper, notepads.  Whether you monogram it or not, I think it's important to always have some fabulous stationery at hand.  You never know when you might need to write a quick note to a friend or a co-worker.

And who doesn't love receiving such lovely stationery as a "thank you" card or a "thinking of you" note?

Here are some fabulous note cards I came across.  Get some! 

Row 1: (1) Ladies of fashion, $10.50, rockscissorpaper.stores.yahoo.net (2) WordPlay Sampler Set, $20, feterie.com (3) Pink and white honeycomb foldover, $1.06, redstamp.com (4) Golden cherry blossom signature boxed notes, $17, snow & graham
Row 2: (5) Wild Bunch, $64, thestationeryposition.com
Row 3: (6) Lollipop Personalized Note Card Set, $20, etsy.com (7) P.S. boxed set, $30, Kate Spade (8) Girls in Skirts, $4.95, Papyrus
Row 4: (9) Salon Blooms Boxed Notes, $13, redstamp.com (10) Glitter Feather Butterfly, $5.95, Papyrus
Row 5: (11) Fall Tree with Glitter, $4.95, Papyrus (12) pom pom signature boxed notes, $17, snow & graham (13) Whimsical Insects, $2.95, Papyrus (14) Ruffle Card, White, Blank, $2.50, etsy.com


Fashion trend: faux fur

This season, I have been seeing faux fur everywhere: coats, hats, vests.  I think it's fun to add a little soft-to-the-touch, cozy element to any fall/winter outfit.  But please don't overdo it.  Nobody wants to see a real-life animal walking through the office.  To achieve an elegant and appropriate look, try using only one faux fur piece that compliments an, otherwise, plain outfit. 

Row 1: (1) Silence & Noise Cropped Faux Fur Coat, $168, Urban Outfitters (2) Carter, $100, Abercrombie & Fitch (3) Faux Fox Fur Trapper Hat, $68, Express (4) City Style Faux Fur Vest , $49.50, New York and Co.
Row 2: (5) Deena & Ozzy Fur Hood, $48, Urban Outfitters (6) Vest with belt, $59.95, H&M (7) Fox Faux Fur Scarf, $49.50, The Limited (8) Faux fur cropped coat, $168, Express


First impressions

When you meet someone for the first time, we all know that "first impressions count."  Well, the same goes for your house.  When guests come over to your place, first impressions definitely count.  Before visitors get to your clean and organized entry way or your decorated and candle-filled living room, they first have to get through your front door.  Your front door entry is a great opportunity to give your guests a taste of your fabulous style and personality. 

Taking a minute to decorate the front entry can pay off in big ways.  Inexpensive items, such as, doormats, house numbers and mailboxes, can really change up the entire space.  Large items, such as plants, the door and lighting, complete a look of welcoming style.  For those who live in an apartment, consider adding potted plants, doormats and wreaths on the front door.

Here are a couple of looks that I would love to develop for my own place.

(1) Riga Outdoor Wall Sconce, $795, ylighting.com (2) Sausalito house numbers, $14 each, Chiasso (3) Bamboo artificial plants in 3 feet long Planter Box, $442, buyflower.com (4) Greens Planter, $135, bobbyberkhome.com (5) Nuova letter box, $298, Chiasso (6) Pebble mat doormat, $48, Chiasso (7) Reflect spheres, $18-64, Chiasso (8) Oluce lyndon outdoor lighting by vico magistretti, $4,163, unicahome.com

(1) Priority mailbox, $58, Chiasso (2) Olivia Star Mood Lamps, $178 both and Olivia Star Pendant, $129, Potterybarn (3) Neutra Aluminum House Numbers, $48 each, Design Within Reach (4) Boxwood Ball, $150, artificialplantsuk.co.uk (5) Rosemary Spiral, $300 each, artificialplantsuk.co.uk (6) Doorbell, $150, Design Within Reach (7) Uovo Outdoor Floor Lamp, $1,190, ylighting.com


Penguin classics with fabulous covers

I love reading classic novels - not only does it make me feel smart :), but it also connects me to the many generations of readers who have read these stories before me.  I am interested to find out "why is this book a 'classic'?"

What I don't usually love about classic novels is the publishing quality and craftsmanship.  The books are either so old that they are smelly and falling apart.  Or they are part of a huge roll-out of reproduced classic books that lack grandness and specialness.

Penguin to the rescue!  Today, 10.27.09, Penguin is releasing eight beautifully covered and published classics.  Produced in-house by Coralie Bickford-Smith, these intricately patterned hardback classics are just as gorgeous as they are literally filling.  The titles include: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. 

Check them out - they are available at Amazon and Anthropologie!


Halloween costumes already in your closet

As Halloween approaches, you cannot avoid all the costumes lining the aisles of major retail outlets.  But, during this economy, a $75 pirate costume may be a bit ridiculous.  I propose that you save your money this year and search your closet for some home-made Halloween creations!  You can buy inexpensive accessories (i.e. bee sting, sailor hat, witch broom) to complete the costume, but the major part can be constructed at home.  Below are some ideas for easy costumes:


(1) Luxe stretch ruched tube top, $29.50, Express (2) Fringed Gauze Scarves, $12.50, Old Navy (3) Carrie Pump, $90, Guess (4) BDG Knit Mini Skirt, $38, Urban Outfitters (5) Patent Croc Pull Through Belt, $38, Steve Madden


(1) Shrunken Denim Jacket, $110, Martin + Osa (2) Tama Stretch Stripe Balletneck, $59.50, Ralph Lauren (3) Miss Me Women's Heart-9 Peep Toe Slingback Wedge, $55.95, Amazon (4) Silence & Noise High Waisted Mini Skirt, $58, Urban Outfitters (5) Woven Nylon Belt , $42, Ralph Lauren


(1) Kenneth Jay Lane, $75, Bluefly (2) Teeze Me Origami Pleat Strapless Dress, $68, Nordstrom (3) Opaque Tights, $12, Urban Outfitters (4) Go Guide Pointy-Toe Tall Leather Boots , $159, Kenneth Cole Reaction


Animal house

I came across these adorable home/kitchen appliances.  They are all in the shape of an animal.  What a great housewarming gift for the animal-lover or a fun set of utensils to make cooking a little more fun.  These are by AnimalHouse and can be purchased at kitchenkapers.com.

Row 1: (1) Toucan Can Opener, $19.99 (2) Elephant Dish Brush, $7.99 (3) Peacock Dustpan & Brush Set, $14.99
Row 2: (4) Angelfish Colander, $12.99 (5) Mouse Cheese Grate, $9.99 (6) Beaver Flat Whisk, $11.99
Row 3: (7) Whale Ice Cream Spade, $9.99 (8) Woodpecker Scissors, $14.99 (9) Turkey Baster, $9.99 (10) Monkey Peeler, $7.99
Row 4: (11) Skunk Duster, $9.99
Row 5: (12) Piranha Pizza Cutter, $14.99 (13) Shark Paring Knife, $8.99


Belts belts belts

Any outfit can be spruced up with a belt.  Skinny belt, waist belt, colored belt...oh the possibilities.  I challenge you to add a belt to any outfit you already wear with pleasure.  Whether it's a dress, a skirt, pants or a tunic, a belt will add style to any outfit.  Make sure to accentuate  the smallest part of your waist or to have the belt hug your hips to achieve the most flattering looks. 

Here are some inspirational ideas:

(1) Crystal Flower Button Earring, $34, White House (2) Houndstooth Dress, $160, Ann Taylor (3) Short Sleeve Textured Sweater Coat, $89.50, Ann Taylor Loft (4) Daisy Pump, $265, Stuart Weitzman (5) Mini Rib Tight, $14, Urban Outfitters (6) Adjustable Skinny Belt, $19.50, The Limited

(1) Shaker Infinity Scarf, $39.50, The Limited (2) Sexy Scoop Sweater, $39.50., American Eagle (3) Croc Embossed Leather Tote, $675, Botkier (4) Tweed trousers, $69.50, Gap (5) Wide Wrap Belt, $75, Ann Taylor (6) Amaya Fashion Pump, $99, Ralph Lauren

(1) Flower Appliqué Top Zip Hobo, $345, Lockheart (2) Coral Flower Cluster Ring, $98, Juicy Couture (3) Hip slung yarn-dyed flare pants, $59.50, Gap (4) Cambridge cable ribbed turtleneck sweater, $98, J. Crew (5) Studded Geometric Belt, $68, Free People (6) Mezmorize Ankle Boots, $119, Nine West

(1) Roseau Embossed Tote, $380, Longchamp (2) Short Sleeve Cardigan, $110, Ann Taylor (3) Jeweled Swirl Pin, $16.95, New York and Co. (4) Carrie Pump, $90, Guess (5) Cropped knit legging, $28, Banana Republic (6) Wide equestrian belt, $60, Banana Republic

(1) Pave stationed flower necklace, $78, White House (2) Snap-button cable-knit vest, $89.50, Banana Republic (3) Rib Detail Turtle, $44.50, The Limited (4) Perfect Platform Pump, $175, Ann Taylor (5) Wool gabardine pencil skirt, $110, J. Crew (6) Stitched Obi Belt, $34.50, The Limited


Not your average pumpkin

I love carving pumpkins as the next 10-year-old kid.  But as the years go on, I've noticed that carving the same 2-eyed-big-mouthed face gets a bit tedious.  So I looked into other ideas and came across many new ways to carve or simply decorate a pumpkin.

Pumpkins do not always have to be carved.  Try accessorizing your pumpkin with a ribbon or a super fun eye mask!

Creating a creature out of the pumpkin, such as a spider or caterpillar, is a creative new take on using pumpkins.

You could also paint the entire pumpkin for a drastic new look.  Paint designs on your pumpkin or paint the entire thing white to resemble a ghost.

If you are still leaning towards carving, get a fun template or spell out a spooky word.


Cool and calm lighting

I love candles any time of the year.  But, as the cold, dark winters come closer, I find that lit candles are a great way to bring some warmth into any room. 

I also love and appreciate the current designs of candles and candle holders.  There are so many options, which allow you to create your own feel, whether it be an ultra modern, outdoorsy or glamorous.  Either way, the candle holder design, the flickering of the fire and the reflection of the flame all come together to create calmness and coziness.

Here are some of my favorites:

Row 1: (1) Sliver Titanium Mini Magma Stones Set, $32, speranzaonline.com (2) Bling Globe Hurricane, $179.95, Z Gallery (3) Lumen Oil Lamp, $50, MoMA (4) Luau Portable Lamp, $198, Design Within Reach
Row 2: (5) Western Kingdom Lantern, $398, Anthropologie (6) Oil Lamps, $309, Wolfard (7) Silver Candle Holder , $42, speranzaonline.com (8) Galerie candleholders, $77, speranzaonline.com
Row 3: (9) Pivot Tealight Holder, $9.95, Z Gallery (10) Smart candle light, $9.95, CB2


Latest favorite work outfits

With so many new fall styles for work, you'll never want to NOT dress up for work again.  I absolutely love the new ways to wear suits that are not stuffy.  I also love the mixing up colors through accessories, such as fun belts and bold necklaces.

Check out some outfits that I hope to fashion at my office soon:


Things I want for my home

I know, I know...the economy is horrible, everyone is losing their jobs, there is no financial stability.  BUT a girl can dream, right?

I figure as long as I just browse new items for my house and not make the actual purchase, I'm safe!  If I could go on a shopping spree, here are some things I would get for my house ASAP:

Row 1: (1) Animal index, $23, greenergrassdesign.com (2) Lacquer Boxes, $24, West Elm (3) Side table, $275, Magino
Row 2: (4) Barbie Lacquer Tray, $150, Jonathan Adler
Row 3: (5) Zodax Modern Morocco Embossed Silver Square Tall Lantern, $116, Amazon (6) Flowers, $50, Tilla (7) Tree Snow Globe, $29, West Elm (8) Bramble vase, $68, Jonathan Adler
Row 4: (9) Gnome's Home Moss Terrarium, $30, Etsy.com (10) Faux-Sheepskin Throw, $99, Potterybarn (11) Bonsai Tree, $99.95, Crate and Barrel (12) Slate Hummingbird with Eucalyptus Rectangle Pil, $28, Etsy.com


Halloween decorations

So you're ready to throw a Halloween party!  But once you start decorating with the same old pumpkin-shaped candy dishes, plastic skeletons and spider webs, you begin to feel a little déjà-vu.

Instead of throwing out the decorations you have collected over the years, let’s simply re-purpose!  By adding a few additional items or spray painting some existing ones, you can re-create an entirely new look.

Here is an idea for a traditional black-and-orange Halloween party, but with newly added bling to freshen up the look and make it stand out from past parties.

(1) Black Skull Candle, $16.95, Z Gallery (2) LED Light String with Sound Box, $24.99, Target (3) Candelabra, $49.99, Target (4) Jeweled Skull Tray, $12.95, Z Gallery (5) Urchin vase-sculpture, $39.95, cb2 (6) Glass Icon Skull Candle, $24.95, Z Gallery

If this is your first year hosting a Halloween party, don’t run out and buy a Target aisle – not everything needs to be branded “Halloween”.  As long as you stick in a color palette or have a common theme (i.e. skulls, skeletons), you can pull of everyday items as Halloween-specific decorations.

This idea takes a whole new, fun approach to Halloween – who said it has to be scary?  Here, I combined the complimentary colors of orange and pink.  I also added some neutrals to ease the eye.

(1) Boo! Wood Cut-Out, $6.95, The Afternoon (2) Metallic Skull, $24.95, Z Gallery (3) Silver Bullion Ball, $22, West Elm (4) Serving Bowl, $33.99, centralchef.com


Can you tell the difference?

I believe that you DO get what you pay for.  The higher price can afford you nicer, softer, longer-lasting items.  And some items are totally worth it!

However, sometimes, price is relative.  Some items receive a higher price simply for the brand name.  And depending on the item and your intended use, you may give away a bit of quality to save big.  The key is to know how to scope out the best deal that works for your pocket and your style.

I found a few items that seem comparable, yet differ greatly in price.  Can you tell the difference?

(1) Glam it up Luxe, $300, hautehostessaprons.com (2) Smocks Designer Aprons , $39.95, http://stores.smocksdesign.biz

(1) Couture Stripe Heidi Tassel Hat, $55, Juicy Couture (2) Mossimo Knit Trapper Hat, $12, Target

(1) Venetian Beaded Leaner Mirror, $699, Restoration Hardware (2) Antique Tiled Floor Mirror, $359, West Elm

(1) Tie-Front Wrap Dresses, $29.95, Old Navy (2) Kimoni Wrap Dress, $445, Diane von Furstenberg

(1) Jonsbo egby, $19.99, Ikea (2) Bacchus Table Lamp, $199, Potterybarn

(1) Hillary Wool Pump, $22.99, Payless Shoes (2) Platswoon Pump, $298, Stuart Weitzman

(1) Icon trench, $298, J. Crew (2) Belted Trench Coats, $49.50, Old Navy

(1) Apothecary Jars, $30, Container Store (2) Victorian Accessories, $150, Restoration Hardware

(1) Belted Shawl Cardi Coats, $44.50, Old Navy (2) Hooded sweater coat, $79.50, Gap


I heart BCBG dresses

Sooo in love with all the different styles, colors and fabrics that make up the BCBG dresses.  They have dresses for work, dresses for a summer weekend and dresses for a gala. 

Row 1: (1) Strapless Chiffon Gown with Beaded Waist, $398 (2) Faux Wrap Matte Jersey Dress, $168 (3) Ruffle Halter Dress, $220
Row 2: (4) Brushstroke Border Print Jersey Dress, $158.00 (5) Strapless Floral Appliqué Dress, $288.00 (6) Poppy Print Long Evening Gowns, $398

I also heart Max and Cleo dresses and I just found out that Max and Cleo is a division of the BCBG Max Azria group!  No wonder!

Row 1: (1) Max and Cleo Party Dress, $158 (2) Flutter Sleeve Silk Dress, $138 (3) Sleeveless Textured Dress, $138
Row 2: (4) Belted Dress, $150 (5) Sleeveless Taffeta Ruffled-Hem Dress, $148 (6) Swish Print Dress in Port, $115


Jewelry trees

I love my jewelry. But when it comes to storing it, I often find that no jewelry box is large enough to house my "costume" jewels. Solution: a jewelry tree!

I have one on my dresser and it’s such a big help! I can store all my large and small necklaces and bracelets. And since they are always on display, it’s easy to find what to wear in the morning. Bonus: once all of your jewels are hung up, the jewelry tree becomes a decorative accessory for the room.

Here are some of my favorites.

Row 1: (1) Manzanita Jewelry Tree, $99.99, Lunareshome.com (2) A Tree For All Seasons, $70, Uncommongoods.com (3) Swivel Jewelry Stand, $38, Urban Outfitters (4) Sea Tree Jewelry Stand, $38, Urban Outfitters (5) Kaleidoscope Wire Wall Jewelry Holder, $24, Urban Outfitters
Row 2: (6) Bird Vine Jewelry Stand, $24, Urban Outfitters (7) Lace Pedestal Jewelry Stand, $18, Urban Outfitters (8) Sculpted jewelry tree, $59.95, RedEnvelope.com (9) Ceramic Hand Jewelry Stand, $18, Urban Outfitters (10) Out On A Limb Jewelry Stand, $19.99, modcloth.com


Celebrity designers

Oh the lives of the rich and privileged.  They can be actors, singers and even designers with the snap of their fingers.  Although most of those dreams fizzle out once they realize they really don't have the right talent, sometimes, their "affordable designs for the masses" can be a nice surprise.

Lauren Conrad (L.O.V.E. her!) has created a clothing line for Kohl’s that includes everyday pieces at super low prices:

Row 1: (1) Watercolor Ruffled Dress, $60 (2) Dolman Top, $34 (3) Solid Leggings, $20 (4) Brushstroke Sheath Dress, $50
Row 2: (5) Boyfriend Jeans, $54 (6) Boyfriend Cardigan, $44

Cindy Crawford has come up with a home furniture and decor line for J.C.Penny, which includes contemporary statement pieces without the heavy price tags:

Row 1: (1) Nailhead Storage Trunk, $400 (2) Scroll Bench, $500 (3) Table Lamp with Frame, $160
Row 2: (4) Stoneware Vase, $54 (5) Dynasty Console, $340 (6) Luster Hurricane, $50


Save the colors!

OK, so the weather is turning gray and murky and dark.  But please don't let that happen to your wardrobe!  In fact, adding some pop of color to your outfit may make up for the gloominess outside and keep you in a positive mood all day long.  

Be careful not to look summery with your colors - so avoid light-weight fabrics in "breezy" colors.  Instead, shop for winter pieces, such as turtlenecks and cardicoats, in any non-neutral color.  Add them to the winter elements you already have, such as brown cords, warm grey tights and cozy white vests.  And tada! 

Try the following outfits:

(1) Puffer Vest, $59.99, American Eagle Outfitters (2) Martin solid flannel pant, $98, Banana Republic (3) Cashmere turtleneck sweater, $158, J. Crew (4) Skinny cheetah calf-hair belt, $55, J. Crew (5) Fall boots, $285, Just Cavalli

(1) Silk pleated posy top, $89.50, J. Crew (2) Trovata Del Mar Classic Cardigan, $185, Piperlime (3) Clean Cut Mini Skirt, $59.50, The Limited (4) Opaque Tights Grey, $12, Free People (5) Amaya pump, $97.95, LAUREN Ralph Lauren

(1) Modern Dark Rinse Straight Leg Jeans, $85, Ann Taylor (2) Merona Collection Pleated Top - Orange Blaze, $24.99, Target (3) Forever stripe V-neck cardigan, $95, J. Crew (4) Sterling Silver Key Pendant Necklace, $54.50, The Limited (5) Martinez Valero Steffi, $153, Zappos.com

(1) Solid three-quarter sleeve stretch shirt, $58, J. Crew (2) Merona Collection Petites Printed Cardigan, $29.99, Target (3) Green bowler bag, $1,695, Prada (4) Nuncio Pump, $69, Nine West (5) Monogram striped wide-leg pant, $152, Banana Republic


Anthropologie at home

Anthropologie usually has super cute dresses and cozy sweaters. But, don't forget, that Anthropologie also carries some adorable house items. Here are a few of my favorites.

Row 1: (1) Printer's letter stand, $28 (2) Vintage Rotary Phone, $198 (3) Western Kingdom Lantern, $398 (4) Avian Scene Shower Curtain, $98
Row 2: (5) Chatting Garden Rug, $348 (6) Felt Tulip Pendant, $198 (7) Ceramic Melon Knob, Antique Brass, $8
Row 3: (8) Castile Rose Bathmat, $38 (9) Victoria Bookmarks, $18 (10) Antwerp Chair, Spectrum Swirl, $1,698
Row 4: (11) Garden of Delights Trinket Dish, $16 (12) Birds Of A Feather Bookmark, $16 (13) Twilight Grove Single Switchplate, $32 (14) Illume Bejeweled Candles, $26


Rubber duckies

Although somewhat childish, some rubber duckies can add a bit of fun and excitement to your bathroom.  I came across a website that has a bunch of adorable rubber duckies - I wish I could have have them all!

You can have them be part of your bathrooms decor (next to the soap dispenser) or a guest welcome set (fresh towels with a duckie on top).  With so many duckies to choose from, you can coordinate with any color/theme/personality!


Get the most out of your clothes

Some people shop by function: certain items are for "work only" and others are for "weekend only".  This ends up in a huge closet and a huge credit card bill. 

Here's a better idea.  When purchasing major staple pieces, select neutral shades (brown, grey, navy) and clean, classic styles.  This way, the piece will not be out of style next week and, with the help of accent pieces and accessories, it will work for various outings, day and night. 

Below is an example of a versatile piece: a grey sweater.  Oh, the possibilities!  With some changes in shoes, purses and jewelry, this sweater goes from office appropriate to weekend run-around to night-time sexy.

(1) Multi-Colored Pearl Bib Necklace, $99, Spiegel (2) Short-sleeve belted cardigan, $90, Banana Republic (3) Carrilena, $98.95, Guess (4) Striped wide-leg pant, $152, Banana Republic (5) Be & D Bag, $1,084, Zappos

(1) Essential crewneck tee, $30, Banana Republic (2) Short-sleeve belted cardigan, $90, Banana Republic (3) Ballet Flat, $120, Camper (4) Jane Boot Jean, $98, Ruehl (5) Timex military watch, $150, J. Crew

(1) Adriana Orsini, $125, Sak’s Fifth Avenue (2) Short-sleeve belted cardigan, $90, Banana Republic (3) Nanette Lepore Sweetheart Pump, $350, Piperlime (4) Silence & Noise Tulip Skirt, $48, Urban Outfitters (5) Gabby Clutch, $79.00, Nine West


Flower arrangements

Flowers can complete any room in your house and make it welcoming, exciting or just simply pretty. I am a huge fan of displaying fresh flowers in different vases throughout my house - it's easy and creates a decorated and polished look.

If you have to select where to place the flower arrangements, consider what you see as you walk through your house. High traffic areas are great for flowers because you will get the most enjoyment out of them before they wither away.

The living/family room, where you entertain, definitely deserves fresh flowers. Consider placing the flower arrangement in the corner of a coffee table, on a side tables or book shelves. Large arrangements can be placed on the floor. Just make sure the arrangements are not blocking the view of the TV and are not getting in the middle of you and your guests' conversations. A striking arrangement will get noticed without cluttering up the room. If you decide to have small vases and flowers, consider pulling together multiple vases with similar flowers for a bigger impact.

The guest bathroom is also a great location for flowers. Your guests will most certainly use your bathroom (it's human nature) and will get a pretty surprise while stepping into "someone else's bathroom." Make sure to place the arrangement in a secure place, where there is no chance of your guest accidentally knocking it over - no need to create a big embarrassing scene. Placing flowers at the sing or on top of the toilet bowl are ideal. Avoid super fragrant flowers as they can overtake the usually small bathroom, however, a hint of fragrance is always a great idea.

If you have an entry way table/console or a large dining room table that is visible from a hallway, definitely take advantage of this space, which can set the mood of your entire house. When guests walk into your house, initial impressions are key. By having a large bouquet greet your guests as you open the front door or another one peek out of a dining room as you walk your guests to the entertaining area, you can instill a welcoming and aromatic impression. Your guests will appreciate the time you took to arrange fresh flowers and your home will look like a model from the latest home style magazine.

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