Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Fancies - Picnic Primped

This week's Friday's Fancies theme is Picnic Primped, which I love because I love picnics (and eating outdoors in general).  There nothing like hanging out on a soft blanket under a big shade tree and relaxing with some food and music or something good to read.  A choice enough location would also allow for people watching, which is just as fun too (at least in my eyes)!  Here's what I would wear on a picnic:
Friday's Fancies Picnic Primped

1. I always think picnics call for easy breezy dresses, which actually aren't too practical if you're sitting or laying around at a park.  A maxi dress fits the bill though, with enough coverage to avoid any overexposure, and this one, with its fun colors and print, is perfect for a beautiful summer day.

2. A fedora looks chic and keeps your hair at bay while shielding your face and eyes from the sun without the "loss of color" effect wearing sunglasses brings.

3. I always carry around a scarf or sweater because I get cold easily.  In my ideal picnic world, there is enough of a breeze to allow me to be comfortable in a soft, thin cardigan.

4. I wanted to throw an actual picnic basket in the mix because I love the idea of going all out for a picnic - with actual (real) plates, utensils and cups, and an actual picnic basket of course.

5. Finally, there's nothing like being able to kick off your shoes and relax while hanging out - so easy to do when you are wearing flip flops!

Head on over to Long Distance Loving to see the other Friday's Fancies posts!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

DIY Neon Planter


How awesome is this DIY neon planter via The Proper Pinwheel?  When I saw it around the blogosphere, I immediately knew it would be perfect to house my container herb garden sink-side in my kitchen. 

First up, materials. A brown/concrete pot from IKEA ($2 in as-is, I think it is slightly bigger than the inspiration picture), acrylic paint in Caterpillar and terracotta pot saucer from Michael's , a foam brush, and 3 herbs from Home Depot - Mint, Cilantro & Parsley. Total cost, under $10.

Tape around the pot, around 1/3 of the way from the bottom and paint away.  I think the saucer took 4 coats, while the pot took about 5-6.  I really wanted to make sure I got the color fully pigmented, of course my life would've been so much easier had I used spray paint like in the inspiration picture!

And the final product.  Not perfect, but I think it adds to the charm.  And my herbs are already massive, even versus this picture.  I will need to start cooking much more soon before they take over the sink area!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In the Kitchen - Gadgets Wishlist

Do you read Centsational Girl?  It is one of my favorite, daily reads, chockfull of home decor inspiration and DIY projects.  Kate is hosting a “Fair Weather” theme party for the summer, with different “out of the box” blog post ideas for every third Tuesday starting today and I thought it would be fun to participate! 

This week’s theme is In The Kitchen: Gadgets: Good & Bad.  I’m pretty sure I had a million ideas of my favorite and least favorite gadgets to share when I first saw the theme, but then I realized that since I’ve only recently started spending more time cooking in the kitchen than eating, my tool set is still pretty basic (a chopping knife, a cutting board and a skillet basic).  In fact, I often joke to Esposito that one of the primary reasons I’d like to have our wedding already is so that I can register for new gadgets!  So instead of going through my list of “must have” kitchen tools, I figured I’d compile a list of kitchen tools I don’t have but desperately need want.
kitchen gadgets wishlist

  1. BrevilleIkon Juice Fountain – Juicing is all the rage these days, and it seems like such a healthy, quick and easy menu option that I’d love to try juicing myself.  Mayra over at Life is Bananas makes juicing look amazing, and has shared some of her favorite recipes that look very enticing.
  2. StainlessSteel Mixing Bowls – A staple of any working kitchen.  Mixing bowls seem so utilitarian to add to a wishlist, but if I told you that I only have a set of Pyrex dishes that I use for serving, mixing, and storing I think you would be more likely to understand their making it on this list!
  3. StainlessSteel Salad Spinner – Whenever Esposito and I are close to a vacation, we go on a crash diet of salad and grilled chicken.  The diet works wonders, but my salads would taste so much better if I had a handy dandy spinner to keep my lettuce clean and crisp.  Or so I tell myself.
  4. GarlicPress – Have you ever tried to mince or chop garlic with a chopping knife?  I think my fingers will thank me for this.
  5. EmulstirSalad Dressing Mixer – It makes no sense to juice and spin salads if you’re going to use store bought dressing that’s been loaded up with preservatives and who knows what else.  A dressing mixer takes the guesswork out of creating your own dressings.
  6. SlowCooker – It seems like every other recipe I pin calls for a slow cooker.  Can you imagine the gourmet meals I will be able to make with a slow cooker slaving away all day when I’m at work?
  7. FoodProcessor – Last week I tried to make my own Tahini (because my local supermarket didn’t carry any) and had a GRAND time trying to puree toasted sesame seeds in a blender.  And by GRAND I mean once there were sesame seeds all over the kitchen, I traveled to three additional supermarkets in order to find a pre-made bottle of Tahini.  Just one example of where a food processor comes in handy!
  8. FoodScale – I’ve come to the realization that eating healthier foods is pointless if you are still eating a lot of them.  And since the concept of protein being the size of a deck of cards means nothing to me, one quick and easy way to assure portion control is to weigh the food directly.

Head on over to Kate’s blog to see the other Kitchen Gadget posts!  Are there any kitchen gadgets you can’t live without?

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Weekend in Pictures

Another Monday, another work week! Here's a glimpse of what this past weekend looked like for me.

Met up with an ex-colleague for drinks on Friday to discuss exciting potential new business opportunities!

Worked on a little neon & neutral DIY

The final product - full post coming tomorrow!

Horrible picture of my Saturday night outfit - can't go wrong with a LBD and nude pumps!

My girls and I celebrating April birthdays in Hoboken on Saturday night

The beautiful weather inspired us to take our bikes out for a (4 mile) ride yesterday!

How was your weekend?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday's Fancies - Pretty in Pastels

Pastels have been all over the place this week - it's the Everybody Everywear challenge, and of course a natural choice for the just past holiday.  It's also the theme for this week's Friday's Fancies, and though I displayed my own pastel outfit earlier this week, I figured I'd go in a slightly different direction for this Friday's Fancies post - a monochromatic look in pale pink/blush tones complemented by colorblocked accessories and rose gold accents.
Friday's Fancies Pretty in Pastels

Head on over to Long Distance Loving to see the other Friday's Fancies looks! How do you wear pastels?

Side note - this is my 100th post!  Woohoo!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Savvy Shopping Secrets

I'm a frugal shopper by nature.  My mom is quite the shopper but she always taught us growing up that you should never pay full price for anything - a lesson that has stayed with me to this day.  Plenty of times I have come across something I want and found it at a better price just a week or two later either because it has gone on sale or I received a coupon code.  So it is safe to say that I rarely pay full price for anything.  I thought I'd share a few of the ways I've found bargain deals with you.
  1. Ebates - Do you ebates? Ebates is a great site I stumbled upon a few years ago where you get a predetermined percentage cash back for your online purchases. The catch is that you have to click through their site onto the store from which you are purchasing to get the credit, but it is a seamless process that doesn't cost anything and doesn't take much time. For example, I purchased a snow blower from last year. By clicking through the Ebates link, I received 2% cash back on my purchase, or $25. Just for making a purchase I would have made anyway! You can sign up here (my personal referral code).
  2. Coupon Codes - I'm on all my favorite stores' email lists and there is rarely a day when I'm not inundated with coupon offers from any/all of them. Since I know that tomorrow there will be another coupon, I often make lists of what I want and wait until a 30% or 40% off code arrives. When I don't have a coupon code handy, I do a quick google search and inevitably something comes up.  Coupon Cabin and Retail Me Not are also good places to search for user submitted coupon codes.  In February, I posted about a sweater I bought for $1.50 - it was on sale for $35 with an additional 50% off all sale items plus Lord & Taylor had sent me a $15 off any purchase of $15 or more coupon.  Can't beat a sweater for less than $2!
  3. Store Credit Cards & Rewards - Now I know this is a controversial topic, but assuming you can keep track of your spending and not run up debt for frivolous purchases, I think store credit cards are great.  I only have a couple - to my favorite stores - and I pay them off in full every month.  But I do find that not only do I get more coupon offers for those stores for which I have credit cards, but often store rewards programs are linked to your credit account and give you bonuses for shopping (again, if you are going to do it anyway, might as well get something back for it!).  There is rarely a time when I don't have at least $10 rewards to Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy that I get simply because I make all of my purchases at these stores on my Gap card (and pay them off in full every month).  Some stores have rewards programs that aren't linked to a store credit card (like DSW), and I sign on to those as well.
  4. Thrift Store & Outlet Shopping - I have no qualms about thrift & outlet store shopping, and have found great deals at both.  The pink Ann Taylor Loft coat I wore on Easter was purchased at my local goodwill, tags still on, for $19.99, for example (actually, I think that's expensive for a thrift store, but since the jacket was new/unworn it was still a good deal).  The problem with thrift stores is that you have to go frequently and you only get deals on occasion.  Outlet stores are also great because in certain cases things you find at regular stores you can find at huge discounts at outlet stores.  This is especially true of designer items, I find, as regular stores (like Gap, J.Crew, Banana Republic...) often have separate items for their outlet stores than their regular stores.  I also like to frequent discount retailers like Marshall's, TJ Maxx or Century 21 for deals.
Those are my top tips for saving money while shopping.  What resources do you use or like most to save money while shopping?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Loving Lately - The Ghost Chair

Well truth be told, I've been loving ghost chairs for a while now.  Something about the juxtaposition of traditional design and modern material just appeals to my sensibilities.  And you know I love a piece that marries form and function well.  The ghost chair seems so practical for so many different applications (dining room, sitting nook, bedroom, office...), while at once being so visually lightweight.  I know it's probably not the most comfortable chair out there, but it sure does look nice.  Here is a roundup of some of my favorite images featuring ghost chairs:

From L to R:
1 // 2 // 3 // 4
5 // 6 // 7 // 8
9 // 10 // 11 // 12
13 // 14 // 15 // 16
The original does not come cheap, but a plethora of more affordable versions are available for those that want the look without the price tag. 
Ghost Chairs Roundup

Do any of you have a ghost chair in your home?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rhode Island's It for Me

(It seemed appropriate to title this post after Rhode Island's state song).

On Saturday, I decided to take a quick road trip up to Providence, RI for the day, mostly to see one of my best friends ever on her birthday. I've been to Providence before (always to visit this same friend) but it never ceases to amaze me how great the city is. I love its small town feel despite being a "big" city (at least for the state!) and I love the quaint New England character all around. Plus, there's no shortage of cute shops and cafes to visit while you are there. I was only there for the day (yup - a 3 hour drive each way and just as much time actually there) but we made the best of it by eating, drinking, sightseeing and shopping like only we do best!

My outfit for the day - a little bit prepster in honor of my visit to New England

Sushi lunch, in a boat no less.  Gotta love the Ocean State.

Wickenden is the cutest street with tons of shops, cafes and pubs.  Just a few steps from Sushi, we found the perfect spot to grab some drinks to wash down our meal with.

And just a few steps from the pub we found The Duck & Bunny - a "snuggery" and the perfect place for coffee and dessert (in this case, their renowned cupcakes).

Just a peak at the cuteness that is The Duck & Bunny.  I was IN LOVE with the interior decor - see more pictures on their website for a taste.  This plaque alone had me at hello.  I'd absolutely love owning a place like this some day!

My coffee and Red Velvet (better than the hype) cupcake.

No visit to Providence is complete without a stop at Brown University.  Here we are at the famous entrance gates.

And just so we could feel like college students again, we ventured around a few of the quad/open areas.  I love the campus and all the historal buildings.

In general, I love the architecture in Providence, mostly because of its historical and quintessential New England style.  Pretty houses and tree-lined streets galore... swoon!

And finally, my favorite spot of all.  A park overlooking the city, with fabulous views.  I still need to make it here at night one day!

All in all, it was a great trip, and I can't wait to make another visit to Providence.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Outfit Post - Easter Sunday

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!  Mine was great, I can't ever complain when there is a three day weekend involved!  This one was particularly busy, marking the (early) beginning of what is normally a packed social schedule through the end of summer for me.  From visiting a friend for her birthday in Rhode Island, to spending quality time with my family on Easter, to doing some shopping with Esposito I feel like there was no moment I wasn't doing anything this entire weekend. 

Yesterday, for Easter, my sisters and I met up at my mother's house for church and a great family dinner.  My youngest sister (who is in Boston at college) surprised us by coming for the day to spend Easter with the family so it was great to see her (sometimes I forget how much I miss her)!  In any event, here is what I wore - I chose peplum and pastels which felt very spring and Easter-appropriate to me.

Jacket - Ann Taylor Loft // Peplum top - NY & Company (available here)
Mint Skinny Pants - Forever 21 // Nude Patent Wedges - MaxxStudio
And a few additional shots from my day:
My mom collects place settings, and literally has a different set of plates for every holiday. 

With my parents and sisters

My sisters and I - love these girls!
I'll be back later today or tomorrow with additional pictures of my weekend, including my trip to Rhode Island!  How was your weekend?!

Image 4554

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday's Fancies - Flower Power

Wow, it's been a while.  In my "blogging hiatus" I also ceased to take part in the Friday's Fancies series which is such a shame because it is so fun coming up with these themed outfits!  So I'm glad to take part once again.

This week's edition is all about Flower Power, which seems to be one of the big trends this spring (though doesn't it always seem like it is?).  Now, I don't have anything against florals and have even tried on some pieces (those ubiquitous pants at H&M) and it just doesn't seem to work on me.  But everyone else looks super cute wearing them.  So for my outfit I shied away from pants and went with a pretty peplum top instead.  Less in your face but still just as stylish.  And though the theme is Flower Power, I think my outfit could fit perfectly in a "how many trends can you wear at one" theme - let's see - florals, peplum, colored pants, colorblocking, white blazer, black and gold....

Friday's Fancies - Flower Power

Head on over to Long Distance Loving to see the rest of the Friday's Fancies posts! How do you wear florals?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

March Spend Trend Report

Here I thought I'd have so much trouble sticking to a prudent spending schedule in the month of March considering my having bought only three sweaters in all of February.  But as I started writing this post, I realized I bought even less in March than in February.  Who am I and where has shopaholic Wendy gone?  No wonder I am starting to feel deprived! 

I guess it was all the commotion of my car breaking down (and not having a means to get to the mall around for about a week) coupled with Esposito's surprisingly light work schedule that meant he was home early most evenings that kept me from doing any damage.  Surprisingly, rather than taking a "don't worry April, you won't be spared" approach, I'm thinking I can really get into just shopping less in general.  Focusing on quality, investment pieces as opposed to quantity.  That will be my motto going forward (let's see how long it lasts... I'll be going on vacation next month and you know that always calls for some shopping!).

In March, I purchased:
I had been wanting a pair of mint pants for a while, so when I found these at Forever 21 for only $15.80, I couldn't pass them up.  Similarly, I love the look of cap-toe flats, so when a blogger posted a positive review of these from (of all places) Payless, I figured why not give them a try.  After using a promotional code and the ship-to-store option, they came out to $14.99 which is not at all unreasonable as they are super cute and comfortable.  So overall, I'd say I didn't do too bad, even if I only managed to purchase one thing off of my "wishlist!"

Did you buy anything that you absolutely love/off your wishlist last month?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vertical Herb Garden Inspiration

How amazing is this standing herb garden DIY by Brooklyn Limestone (see the full post here):

On my latest trip to Ikea, I saw these outdoor bench/wallshelf things and immediately thought a pair would be great flanking my shed.

The combination of the two has me thinking about ways to DIY a tall bench/planter to style up my shed/patio with.  Of course this is a project probably way out of my capacity, but a girl can dream, no?

While I go figure that out, I figured I'd leave you with a few inspiring stylish shed images. I love it when form meets function!

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest
Source: via Melanie on Pinterest
Source: via susann on Pinterest