Sunday, December 30, 2012

Style Sunday: Some Sparkle

The sequin is in and since I prefer a more modest style, I have resisted ...but I do like this outfit...

This is sophisticated. And I already have the other items: a dark gray blazer, white button down shirt, dark blue jeans and strands of pearls. I may look around for a sequin top... I'm not sure if it will fit into budget since I recently purchased a pencil skirt online. If either works out, then I'll post about them one Sunday.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Style Sunday: Modern Christmas Decoration

I know this is just a little thing, but I love using lots of the same object to fill a container or a few to use as decoration, instead of displaying just another Santa figurine. It's modern and budget-friendly.

This is 3 packs (or $9 worth) of small red Christmas ornaments from Target as filler for a tall glass vase I had (from HomeGoods). I love red for Christmas.

I could expand it by filling multiple varied vases ...but, sometimes, my budget doesn't allow for more. Something like this...

I also created a centerpiece that I posted about before. (Read it about here.) It uses small silver jingle bells. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Style Sunday: My Bookcase Christmas Gift

This is my big Christmas gift I received from my parents early. It's the Avington Bookshelf in Dark Tobacco I've wanted from Target for years now. It's a more sophisticated option than the collegiate IKEA Expedit unit to store my beloved books (and white pieces). This is how I styled it...

The second shelf is full of books on Italy.

I need to think of what to put on top though... 
A big white ceramic piece?
Possibly a pyramid of larger coffee table books! 
(I have four tall piles on the lower shelf of my cocktail table as well as four in my end tables.)

Here's a detail...
The clock sits on three of Nina Garcia's style books.
The clock's time is always happy hour! ;)
An owl from West Elm serves as a bookend for my books on France.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Phestive Spirit of the Season in Philadelphia

On Friday, November 30th, I spent the day in Philadelphia, a city I adore. I did exactly what I wanted to do. I had such an amazing day!

I wanted to take a ton of pictures ...but discovered that my camera battery was completely dead upon arrival. My intention for this post was "my day in photos." Oh well. I'll be better next time.

I happened to stick to a single neighborhood, Center City, which is downtown. I simply loved being there.

After getting off the train, I hopped on the subway to get to the outdoor German-Style Christmas market. This was in Love Park (with its famous namesake sculpture) where a giant tree stood in place of the usual fountain. After perusing all the wooden stands and huge tent with its lovely artisanal products, I went back to one for a gingerbread heart with frosting decoration. It read "Merry Christmas" in German and had trim and depicted two lit red candles.

I LOVE Philadelphia!

I strolled up and down the shopping streets, Chestnut and Walnut, browsing many of its shops, even trying on beautiful clothing. This included a visit to a quirky accessories store called Tselaine where I was awed by beautiful soft cashmere scarves with a peacock feather print and the Italian grocery store named Di Bruno Bros. where I lingered... Across Broad Street, Macy's has a famous light show, so I checked that out for a song or two.

I also hit my favorite place in town, the Reading Terminal Market. It had changed a bit since I was last there, about 13 months ago. The first stand I hit was Termini Bros for some Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti for future breakfasts. For lunch, I also hit my favorite stand, Tommy DiNic's for a Philly Cheesesteak, the most delicious one in my opinion. With a long line, it seems so for everyone else as well! We were all thrilled to wait awhile for such a glorious reward and chatted all about what we were ordering. I sat down and immediately a couple of other girls sat down at the next table pushed up next to mine in this very crowded place. We had a lovely little conversation about France. On the way out, I picked up a couple of cookies from the Famous 4th Street Bakery. Although a bit messy, this fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie was to die for! Really, I shouldn't have saved the other two for later!

I walked around some neighboring streets, browsing through the West Elm Store. I also got a small decadent European-style hot chocolate at a nearby chocolate cafe. The ambiance was charming. There, I picked up a little molded piece of chocolate in the form of a squirrel on a lollipop stick for my godson, a lover of chocolate just like his godmother.

I had to head back to the train station after that, back to my normal life right away actually, full of errands and work.

It was just so nice to celebrate the season in my own special way.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fabulous Friday

I had such a great day off today.

This was my last vacation day of the year from my full time job and my last chance to relax before I work five days in a row at my part-time job.

This was a payday Friday, so, first, I went shopping at Target and grocery shopping at Giant.

Next, I had a professional pedicure, which was such a nice experience. I read some more of Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child during the pampering. I like feeling like I'm taking good care of myself. My toenails are now painted OPI Red.

After that, I ate a picnic lunch of cheddar cheese, thinly sliced proscuitto, good bread and good olive oil in my apartment. ...and a few bites of  Giant's excellent pasta salad, to make sure it was still delicious, of course. I had been given a Target coupon at checkout that morning for $10 off Crest White Strips, so I returned to redeem it. ...and they were on sale. I also picked up a bottle of Bolla Chianti from the nearby liquor store. In addition to red wine, I also enjoy espresso, cappuccino, tea and coke fairly often. All of the above stain your teeth! So, I am looking forward to a more attractive whiter smile.

Then, I got out of town! Any remarkable day off needs alittle travel. I took the light rail to Baltimore, where I jumped on a free bus called the Charm City Circulator to get over to Little Italy (via the Orange Route). I walked a couple of blocks to get to Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop in order to redeem my Groupon. I traded this voucher for $16 worth of two kinds of cookies and a slice of chocolate cake with hazelnut cream frosting. It was such a beautiful winter day that I walked back to the lightrail stop, taking in the city and, simply, the change in environment. I love a city. I browsed a couple of shops in one of the buildings that make up Harborplace. My favorite was Fire & Ice which among other things sells jewelry. The case full of rubies stopped me in my tracks. They range from dark pink to red. I tried on an absolutely stunning bracelet of dark pink ruby ovals all neat in a row. Priced at $265, I, unfortunately, walked away empty-handed.

Read the top line on the bakery box.

Back in town, I drove over to Hallmark and purchased a birthday card for a friend whose birthday is in January. I thoroughly enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate from Starbucks. I also hit HomeGoods, my favorite store. I bought a black wire basket on a pedestal for my kitchen counter and a big laundry bag. The tote's very chic with a brown and cream damask print and two short rope handles. It can sit up on the floor of my closet and is large enough for bed linens.

I called my friend E hoping to hit a happy hour or go out to dinner, but with such short notice, she already had plans. I still talked with her for a solid half an hour. We engaged in the kind of girl talk where you couldn't get in a word in edgewise. It was so great to catch up. I last spoke with her during the summer. We promised that we would go out to dinner soon, (as soon as my work schedule and budget permit.)

After that, I proceeded to make myself a quick dinner, a burger with leftover Rice-A-Roni Fried Rice. (I'll go back to eating plenty of vegetables tomorrow.) It'll be quick and easy to have three leftover burgers in addition to my other sandwich and salad stuff for a week full of double shifts. I also wrote and scheduled my two upcoming Style Sunday posts. I started my post on my recent day trip to Philadelphia too. After taking a couple bites of that chocolate hazelnut cake which was... squisito, I toted my laundry in my new bag to my parents' for about an hour of laundry.

After a fun yet busy day, I am trying to unwind now... laying on the sofa, netbook on my lap, with a cup of iced tea and two cookies on a real plate beside me, Christmas tree lit up in the corner. I've been trying not to think about my upcoming hectic work schedules and it all begins tomorrow. Maybe it'll go reallyreally fast...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


When asked how I've been lately, I hate answering "busy." I would much prefer to recount the beautiful happenings in life, both the big things and little things. ...but, unfortunately, "busy" is the truth. I'm sure others are just as busy with holiday things to do at this time. I have had fun though... Here's the good and the bad...

Friday, November 30th, I visited Philadelphia for my own holiday cheer. I promise to post all about it sometime this week.

The next night I hosted two old high school friends for a girls night in. We had takeout while viewing Crazy Stupid Love, which they hadn't seen and I had only watched once before. The three of us had a great time. :)

I worked at my retail job the next day (Sunday) open to close alone. This was a 9 1/2 hour shift. Since I had to prepare for another visit of investors and their bankers looking to buy another apartment community in the area, I tried to psyche myself up to clean my apartment following my shift but simply couldn't. Instead, I got out of bed at 4:07 the next morning to make my home sparkle. My boss's boss's boss commented that my apartment felt homey and that it made her want to go to Italy. :)

I also worked a double Tuesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, I fit in an emissions test and then some Christmas shopping for my siblings with my mom. So I ran around until 4 when I had to run around to get ready for work at 5. I even had to pick up my library book on hold during my lunch hour on Thursday because I was always working during my branch's hours of operation. I picked up Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck, which is good so far since I adore the woman behind When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You Got Mail, but she thinks very differently than me on many things. Even when I don't relate, I still find her writing amusing. This interrupts my continued reading of the Julia Child biography, Dearie, which I waited in a long queue again to finish up.

I was thrilled to have Friday night to myself! I planned to make lasagna for the first time ...but then my mom called me while I was at work and asked if my dad could assemble my bookshelf Christmas gift and she could take me grocery shopping as another holiday gift that evening. Sure! My new bookcase from Target's Avington Collection is beautiful. Plus, my mother was thrilled to have my old IKEA one for use in one of her antique stands. I spent $60 of parental money on food and other grocery store items which is what I truly needed. I am incredibly grateful.

After they left, I still went forward with my original plan ...and I sampled my lasagna at 11:00 pm! Blessed by being surrounded by people who like to make lasagna, this was, like I said, my first time I made it myself. The meat version I tried turned out well. I followed this recipe, but used jarred tomato sauce and did not use sausage. I'll try to channel my inner domestic goddess and make a more complicated version next time. Anyway, I've had it for most lunches and dinners since ...with good bread, good olive oil and good red wine for dinner.

I didn't have today off as usual. I worked at my part-time job. Working the extended hours until 10, I caught the last three performances of the Michael BublĂ© Christmas Special on NBC afterwards. I've loved him ever since my study abroad semester when his song entitled Home (over)played all the time. It reminds me of Italy. Luckily one of those three performances was (a duet with Blake Shelton of) this very song.

I am looking forward to having off from both jobs this Thursday and Friday. You see, I had to use up the last of my vacation hours from my full-time employment. Maybe venture to Baltimore to use my Groupon at Vaccaro's, an Italian pastry shop... Maybe I'll indulge with a professional pedicure...

From the 15th through Christmas Eve, I work an insane amount of hours. And then it finally starts to slow down. With the exception of working on my boss' birthday during the second week of January, I only work my part-time job on Sundays. It's a long time coming, since late December will make four months that I've been back to work and have been working far far more than what I signed up for, pretty much only Sundays.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Style Sunday: Simple yet Chic Centerpiece

In this post, I expressed my desire to recreate this centerpiece, consisting of a plate, jar candles and jingle bells...

...and I did...

I picked up the plate at JCPenney, the jingle bells at Michael's, and the candles at Target.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Style Sunday: Capsule Wardrobe

The capsule wardrobe can also be called a ten-item wardrobe, composed of select basics and classics. I don't possess just 10 items for fall and winter though... In fact, I cultivated 30, three times as many, which works for me since I have three lives! You see, I work a full time job, a part-time job, and have free time. My dress code at my part-time job is specific, white top and black bottom. The 30 also work for me because I launder my clothing at my parents' about once a week, so I need enough clean items to last me through working a double or for hosting a girl's night after a single shift. More days of the week than not, I have a wardrobe change. So, even with thirty, I still consider it a capsule wardrobe nonetheless. You don't have to have only ten either to apply the concept of the ten-item or capsule wardrobe to your closet. Take my lead and do what works for you. It certainly doesn't look like the usual overstuffed American closet to me!

My Capsule Wardrobe
on matching slim hangers
occupying half of one of my closets.
I did not include my camisoles that I usually hang up, 
nor my three cardigans which I pile next to my sweaters on the shelf above.
Jennifer L. Scott, author of Lessons from Madame Chic and the blogger behind The Daily Connoisseur, does not include extras like outerwear, occasionwear, accessories, shoes, and under shirts (camisoles for me) in her ten-item wardrobe (page 45 of Lessons). I have not either.

How did I get down to thirty for these colder seasons? I kinda wish I had a massive cleanout like everyone else, a story. Three trash bags full! Nope. Pieces were weeded out one at a time over the past few years. I am a moderate minimalist who believes in the "one in, one (or two) out rule" for decluttering. I like only owning what I love and use. I love having a capsule wardrobe for this reason. Plus, I also lost a size a few years ago so I discarded items that no longer fit as I replaced some and, honestly, have pretty much been too poor since to purchase more than one item at a time in any store, using any paycheck! Furthermore, both having less and being on a budget, I now only buy something unless I love it and it's perfect. I have become pretty picky now!

May I introduce you to my 30-Item Fall/Winter Wardrobe...

1. dark pink crossover 3/4 sleeve shirt by Merona from Target
2. ...and one in white
3. ...and one in navy
4. ...and one in black
5. white v-neck 3/4 sleeve tee shirt from H&M
6. white 3/4 sleeve button down shirt from New York & Company
7. ...and another one
8. white long sleeve button down shirt from H&M
9. white long sleeve button down shirt with ruffle trim from New York & Company
10. chocolate brown wrap shirt with collar from H&M
11. blue stripe button down shirt from New York & Company
12. dark gray v-neck long sleeve tee shirt by LOGG from H&M
13. ...and one in black
14. black scoop neck long sleeve shirt from Express
15. black crossover sweater from Ann Taylor Factory Store
16. green-blue v-neck sweater from The Limited
17. chocolate brown crossover sweater from Ann Taylor LOFT
18. deep red v-neck sweater from Ann Taylor Factory Store
19. purple v-neck sweater from The Limited
20. dark bootcut jeans in curvy fit from Ann Taylor Factory Store
21. Levi's 515 jeans with studded back pockets in short
22. ...and in regular
23. brown wool skirt from Ann Taylor LOFT
24. gray wool pants with pink pinstripe, without pockets from Ann Taylor LOFT
25. short black Worthington Modern Fit trouser pants with pockets from JCP
26. ...and another pair
27. ...and another pair
28. dark gray pants without pockets from Ann Taylor Factory Store
29. black pants in regular from The Limited
30. black pants in regular from Ann Taylor Factory Store

The extras that accessorize these basics include but are not limited to... two suit jackets, three crew-neck cardigans with one in black, one in cream and the last in dark pink, so many scarves and pashminas, a black winter coat, a khaki trench coat, a long sleeve crossover black dress for special occasions, shoes, boots, black patterned knee-highs, handbags, clutches, totes, four belts, jewelry including earrings, and so many camisoles- from cotton to silk, from plain to lace-trimmed or polka dot. I could even replace a top on this list with two of my extras... a deep red cami under my cream-colored cardigan for a day for example.

Comprised of items I love, I love it overall. You can see that I tend to gravitate towards certain colors, mainly neutrals but rich ones like crisp white, chocolate brown, charcoal gray or black with a couple jewel tone warm colors thrown in. I also love pockets, especially to keep keys in while checking and showing apartments at my full-time job. If not, I wear a lanyard around my neck at least half the workday. A v-neck or faux wrap like a crossover neckline is flattering on my figure. Having so little, I know for a fact that everything looks great on me. I wear pants in size short, which are the perfect length for me in ballet flats. And, of course, size regular to pair with heels. I do own multiples of many things, which I do not advocate since variety is the spice of life, but I think when something works well, it works, oh well. I've been working too many crazy hours lately to have enough time to shop in every store. These multiples are usually purchased one at a time too, at the stores I am loyal to. Cotton is the fabric of my life. Maybe I should have my own TV commercial...

However, I feel like I have prettier pieces in my spring and summer wardrobe, like sheer fabrics and more patterns, so I wouldn't mind trading one of these for a top with fine details that I'm accustomed to the other half of the year. Do you have any fabulous recommendations of additions for me?

Do you have space in between the hangers in your closet too?

P.S.- Sorry this is late. Again.