Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wrapped in Love

I never fully appreciated the value of a well-wrapped gift until I met my friend Kara. Now, in fairness, she's also one of the most creative, innovative artists I know, so it shouldn't have surprised me when she taught me how much love can go into presenting a gift- no matter how small or large!

But when I received a gift from her, it FELT special. It looked as if she spent time preparing it for me. It showed that regardless of what was inside, she had wanted to offer it to me with class, style and creativity. So, friends, let me share the gift that is the Paper Source.

I love everything about the Paper Source.
Wrapping paper: check
Fancy wrapping paper: check
Ribbon selection: check
Greeting card options: check
Holiday stickers: check
Every color under the rainbow cards & envelope sets: check
Stamps and ink colors: check
Helpful staff: check

I really love their holiday wrapping paper. I usually buy 2-3 sheets of various designs, stock up on red grosgrain ribbon, and poof!- The perfectly wrapped gift. I also adore their gift tags where you can stamp a holiday greeting for your own creative message. I even like using their holiday stickers on plain cards to make it festive. It's just the crafty person's haven- and if you're not the crafty type, I swear their supplies are easy enough to fake it :)

So, take this tip from me: Your gift recipient will love the gift 10x more when it's presented with care. And all it takes is a little time to find great paper and ribbon to tie up the goodness!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hem and Haw

I fear that the tailor has lost it's allure.

In an economy where people are feeling the pinch of salary cuts, it's fair to ask for clothing that fits off the rack. Let me be honest with you, it's usually a gift from the fashion gods when this happens. Pants that are the right length. Tops that hit you at the right point on your hip. Dresses that highlight your best figure flattering aspects.

So, what do you do when you find a fabulous item, but it's slightly too big here, or too long there, or too tight there?

You go to a good tailor.

And you smile at the investment you just made in your item.

See, I discovered with my friend Susan a really great tailor in Belmont, MA who simply did the FASTEST quality work I have ever experienced. (Literally, she brought in jeans to be hemmed, and 10 minutes later, she had a perfectly shortened pair of jeans in hand). And the prices were unbelievably competitive for the Boston area.

So if you live in metro west: go here. She's worth the effort.

hemmingway: tailoring & alterations
597 School Street
Belmont, MA
jinnie lee (owner & seamstress)

So quit your hemming and hawing: Just go! Spend the $15 to get that clothing item to fit well. You'll wear it longer and with more enthusiasm. To me, that's worth every penny!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Consumers Unite!

So picture it: It's the holidays. (Or your birthday, anniversary, etc. - you get the idea...a gift-giving occasion) And you hear the inevitable question, "What would you like for _____ holiday this year?"

I don't usually struggle with this question, mostly b/c at any given time I'm likely to have my eye on several items of clothing, accessories or trinkets that I'm loving.

But perhaps you can't think that quickly on your feet.

Perhaps you're one of those people who likes to only ask for what's really needed. (This is such a foreign concept to me, but I do know it exists.) But here's the trick- Can you always remember what it was that you wanted? Don't you ever so vaguely recall coming across some great "thing"...and well now, you can't remember where you saw it, what it was, or even if it's still available anymore. Shoot.

Solution: I stumbled across one of the coolest websites I have ever seen:
Here's the premise: You create your own wish list (sort of like registering for a wedding or a baby shower) and the site keeps all your cravings in one location.

So when the gift-giving time rolls around, you simply direct friends and family to your cyber stockpile and just like that....your every consumer wish has been shared.

And you'll never have to stumble over the question, "What would you like for your birthday this year, honey?" SCORE!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Here's the Skinny

Slim leg.
Skinny fit.

Have you seen these names before? Believe it or not, they all refer to a particular fit of jeans...which are making a HUGE comeback. If you are old enough to remember the 80s, you know that the slim fit jean (I'll refer to all of them with this name) is no "new" trend. In fact, "they" say if you are old to enough to have worn them the first time, it's safe to say, you shouldn't wear them now!

I think the slim fit jean has a place in the style world. This jean fits shapely through the hips and thighs, and then tapers in to fit the leg. It should hit just below your ankle.

But it should be noted: wearing this jean takes honest evaluation of one's body type. Steer clear of this fashion trend if:
  • You carry weight in your thighs. The slim fit jean is designed to hug this area and keep an elongated look to the floor.
  • You are uncomfortable wearing snug clothing. These jeans cannot fit loosely; they are supposed to fit close to the body.
But if you're in...keep these tips in mind to snag the best pair:
  • At least 1% or 2% lycra or some kind of spandex to keep the shape close to your body.
  • Dark denim- without the distressed look. The more uniform the color, the longer your body appears.
  • They also look best with ballet flats or tucked smoothly into tall riding boots. A very Audrey Hepburn look :)
  • They are also perfect to accompany a tunic or long cardigan sweater (with a waist-cinching belt of course!)
  • I happen to like this pair from Ann Taylor LOFT.
Perhaps you will learn to love them!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hand-le with Care

One of the things I love most about fall weather is that I can wear great fall colors of nail polish!

Open any magazine these days, and there are so many new colors to choose from, which thankfully give us a new approach to the season. For those in Texas who are blessed enough to have an Ulta (this great beauty supply store- somewhat like a Sephora, but no where near as expensive), I have stumbled upon several terrific fall colors. And since nail polish is likely to last only a week without chipping, why not shake things up and try something different!

My favorite brands are definitely O.P.I. and Essie. And while my loyalty usually is to O.P.I., I have been pleasantly surprised to find several Essie colors worth raving about. Perhaps you'll try them!

Steel-ing the Scene
: a subtle, yet metallic wonder. It has a pewter-esque look to it that I adore!
Over the Top: PERFECT for fall, almost grey, almost metallic, very deep and looks great on fair skin.
Raisinnuts: A really lovely blend of creamy red/pink that looks like a winter festival!
Sheer Bliss: This has been a fan favorite of mine for years. It just has the sweetness of pink, with the creamy white of winter. So lovely!

I also stumbled upon two colors that appear to be discontinued, but if you happen upon them- it'll be hard to resist: Sag Harbor (think subtle, serene harbor water) and Private Bash (think party ready! Perfect blend of red and pink.)

So treat your nails a little party and welcome fall with open hands!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mi Casa es Su Casa

With the holidays calling, we are fortunate enough to have friends and family invite us for dinner, parties, gatherings, game nights, family traditions- you name it! Like a good southern girl, I do know the value of a quality hostess/housewarming gift. With all of the shopping to be done in the upcoming months, it may be good to make note of a few quality, creative ideas to say thank you for the invitation and all the planning your host/hostess did to make the evening a success!
  • Wine Wraps: I LOVE these from one of my favorite catalogs: Garnet Hill! It's a perfect way to dazzle up a bottle of your favorite red or white. Add a personal message, write a cute jingle, or simple say "Thank you!" with style.
  • A scented candle: I'm a fan favorite of the Bath and Body works holiday line: Both Pumpkin Patch and Evergreen are two I never go wrong with. Evergreen smells like real pine, subtle and fresh, while giving your home the perfect cheer. And you can't beat the $5 price right now!
  • Stonewall Kitchen out of York, Maine makes the BEST little jams, sauces, marinades, chutneys- it's all delicious. They make them in perfect 4 oz. sizes for gifts. I would recommend the Red Pepper Jelly (delicious accompanied by cream cheese and Triscuits!) I also think the Citrus Teriyaki Sauce is fantastic for marinating pork chops.
  • Pepper Mills: I know, you're thinking, "Really? A pepper mill?" But truly, these are adorable, conversation pieces for anyone's table. And instead of buying those McCormick pepper mills from the grocery store, why not give a great reusable one?! They also have a fancy stainless steel with a custom painted top coming out in November ($32)- so check it out!
  • Holiday Decor: I realize not everyone celebrates Christmas, so you can't go wrong with traditional "winter" decor. I've given these precious twig reindeers in past years- they are perfect on a mantel, arranged on a coffee table, or even to serve as a center piece for your table. Every recipient has loved them so far!
So as you start to celebrate the good times with loved ones, remember your housewarming gifts and don't forget to wrap with care...A well wrapped gift is often as appreciated as the gift itself! (I have a special love for The Paper Source and their holiday wrapping...more to come on that!)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Save money? Yes, please!

AAA members: LISTEN UP!

If you aren't saving money by using your card, you are missing out. I swear by it. Not only for the roadside assistance (and I have had to use their services before), but for all the great discounts when I shop!

I recently went on a little shopping excursion with my mom and sister (yes, we all believe in retail therapy) and stumbled into a New York & Company. Not a store I frequent often, but my sister was raving about a pair of great knit pants that wear well for travel. (By the way, those pants are perfect- and I can't find them online, but they are the City Knit Luxe. We snagged a deal of buy one, get one 50% off!) But I digress...

After we had successfully found the pants and a terrific fall ensemble for my mom, we went to pay, and I remembered: Wait! The AAA discount! We saved 25% just by showing the card! (Thanks to my old roommate, Katie, who swears by NY & Co. and the AAA discount, too!)

So, it got me thinking: Where else does this little card perform discount magic?

Here's what I found (and mind you, I have AAA for Southern New England):

Shopping (since this is what the blog is about- but there are entertainment, dining, lodging, travel and online savings, too!)
  • Banana Republic Factory Outlets
  • The Gap Outlet
  • LensCrafters
  • New York & Company
  • Payless Shoe Source
  • Pearle Vision
  • Reebok Outlet Stores
  • Rockport Outlet Stores
  • Sears Optical
  • Sullivan Tire & Auto Service
  • The Red Sox Team Store
  • The UPS Store
  • USA Today
  • Wrentham Premium Outlets
I encourage you 1) to sign up for AAA if you haven't already and 2) investigate your local retail options where you could be saving as much as 25% off every time!