Stripes + Heart

December 27, 2016

Have we all had a nice holiday? Sal and I have loved being home in Kansas City...so nice to be with all our people and soak up the magic of Christmas! We don't leave to drive back to Dallas till tomorrow so it's still our mission to eat all the things and spend quality time with family before packing up. Sally is actually having a baby shower today and I'm going to try and snap some images of the adorable set-up our mama put together for it.

Now, we have all heard about "wearing your heart on your sleeve." But how about literally wearing a heart on your chest? If you ask me, it's really kind of really cute when done in contrasting stripes...

 

I actually packed this entire outfit you see in this post (just substituting the mules for UGGs) and brought it home with me. The striped heart tee didn’t totally feel like my style when I first saw it in J.Crew but after trying it on while shopping with Sally we determined that it was too cute to pass up. I love it layered with my long Everlane cardigan!

 

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Smart Spending + Holiday Bows

December 23, 2016

Christmas Eve is tomorrow! It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also one of the most chaotic times of the year. My biggest stressor has been budgeting the expenses of gifts and of visiting family. Spending is an inevitable part of the holidays (and I LOVE giving gifts, so it’s always worth it to me), but I do try my best to shop and spend “smart.”

For me, “smart” means hunting for steals and deals (something y’all know I’m obsessed with) and using credit cards that offer great rewards. As someone who was very reluctant to have a credit card post college (we’ve all heard the debt horror stories), I’ve found them to be incredibly helpful when used responsibly.

It was actually Molly who convinced me that it would be a smart way to spend money. Since she’s such a shrewd spender, I was kind of skeptical. That is, until she told me unlike using a debit card or cash, certain cards come with amazing rewards that either give you money back and/or points credited for purchases. Of course I had seen rewards marketed online and on credit card commercials, but hearing it from Mol - who I trust with all things finance - is what finally made me consider adopting a card (or two) for myself.

This time of year, there is no better card than the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase for your ho-ho-holiday shopping!

 

There are several things we really like about the card. For one, my family can earn points on every purchase we make, which can go towards free night stays at Marriott properties worldwide. They have a super diverse selection of hotel brands too – with over 5,700 hotels around the world! We have some out of town weddings and a few trips on the calendar for 2017, so being able to sock away points to put towards hotel stays makes travel that much more affordable.

I won’t lie, budgeting and tracking my spending does not come easy to me. Using a bank account or separate credit card for all utilities/reoccurring monthly expenses and then another credit card for my other purchases has helped me. For others, however, it’s using coupons. A survey from Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase found that 47% of Americans have shopped at stores where they had a coupon or there were discounts in order to save money to spend on holiday shopping. Now that’s one way to shop “smart”! Regardless of your choice or methods, budgeting is always key – especially during the holidays.

Once I’ve done my shopping (and I’m just waiting on a few last minute buys!) it’s time for my favorite part: wrapping. Beautifully wrapped gifts are a hallmark of Christmas for my family and my mom has passed down her flair of choosing festive, colorful papers and hand-tying color coordinating bows. Whether you have many gifts under the tree or a few special items, seeing them done-up in these bows makes opening what’s inside even more special.

It’s taken me years of practice to be as good at bow tying as my mom and Molly but I thought I would show you how it’s done in case anyone wants to take a stab at it! We use “satin ribbon” for making the bows because the loops keep their shape. And, after a little Googling (trying to find some help in writing out directions), I learned that these types of bows are called “pom pom bows.” Who knew?!

Here are the steps:

  1. Take a piece if ribbon and loop it around the middle of your wrapped box (your choice if you want it to wrap the long or short width!) – make it so there is enough to tie in the center with about 6-10” extra length on each side of the tie.
  2. You can knot the ribbon wrapped around the body of the box in a knot but we (my mom, Molly and I) prefer to just do a single tie and not a true knot. If you wiggle the satin ribbon a bit back and forth it should hold in this spot once you release
  3. Start pulling ribbon off your spool, pinch* a spot ~4-6” from the end cut, make a loop that measures about 4” in length (that’s ~8” of ribbon length) and pinch it at the same spot you were holding. *the pinch should be gathering the width of the ribbon
  4. Do another loop, going the opposite direction of the first (you’re basically just folding the ribbon but pinching in the center) and pinch it again. At this point you will have two loops, being pinched between your fingers.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 so you have four loops total, all pinched in one area.
  6. Position the pinched section above the tie you have made on your wrapped box. Keep a hold on the pinch section and press firmly down on the tie!
  7. This is where things get tricky, you need to use your free hand to take the loose edges of the tie and use them to tie around the pinched loops. Practice!
  8. Once you get your tie made, pull it firmly. You should have your four loops all secured and be able to fluff them up.
  9. Now just trim the four loose ends – two from the box and two from the pinched loops – in diagonal cuts, leaving about 3-5” depending on the size of your box.
  10. 10. Voila!

Like I said, it took me years to perfect the bow-making method. But now I can’t tie up wrapped packages any other way. Now excuse me, while I finish up the remainder of my buying and wrapping (making a list, checking it twice…)

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This + That // Sales + Steals

December 23, 2016

I have been pretty much sicker than a dog this entire week. It's just your typical run-of-the-mill cold (watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, etc.), but it feels even more emphasized when you can't take many any of the medicines that would make a difference. Being sick makes me that much more excited to get home to our cozy house and our mom's yummy food (which I have been dreaming about all week). Could not be more excited to celebrate the holiday with our family! It might seem a little cray to be doing this post when Christmas is just two days away but last minute sales are still good sales! (read on to get the sales + steals)

This + That:

  • A. FAVORITE READ // “The 10 Most Fashionable Movies of 2016” via VOGUE (Not surprised to see Jackie on this list…dying to see the wardrobe on the big screen in theaters)
  • B. FAVORITE PIN // this via Glitter Guide (Love the tip of hanging wreaths in unexpected spots – going to do this next year!)
  • C. FAVORITE INSTAGRAM // @johnderian (This little collection of antique ornaments from the 20’s and 30’s makes me think of my mama and her love of vintage Christmas decor)
  • D. FAVORITE OUTFIT // The August Diaries (Just discovered Jill’s blog – not sure where I’ve been – and I’m loving all her beauty tutorial posts…and outfits, too!)

Some Sales:

  • Ann Taylor: 50% off almost everything with code HOLIDAY50. (Remember that post earlier in the week that featured sherpa coats? Well here’s another good one for you.)
  • Anthropologie: The best gifts – now 30% off in stores and online. (Stocking stuffers always end up the last things I buy – these are adorable.)
  • Athleta: Semi annual sale – up to 60% off online and in stores. (Sometimes, especially lately, I get sick of wearing pants that are tight all over – these are perfect for those days.)
  • Banana Republic: Biggest sale of the year – extra 50% off sale! (This looks pretty darn fabulous.)
  • BaubleBar: The BIG winter sale – new styles up to 60% off! (Love the colors in these.)
  • Calypso St. Barth: Take 30% off full priced styles with code MERRY30 at checkout. (Have I mentioned this every week? Because its still on my wish list.)
  • Club Monaco: Take an additional 40% off already marked down styles – no code needed! (Lots of good men’s items – I always forget to look there!)
  • Free People: Enjoy an extra 30% off select sale styles through 12/25!
  • Gap: 35% off regular priced styles + an extra 40% off sale styles with code HAPPY. (Loving this and this looks SO soft.)
  • H&M: Further reductions – sale up to 60% off! (Could these be any cuter?!)
  • Intermix: New styles added to sale – AND extra 50% off sale! Discount applied at checkout! (This would be perfect for our time in Kansas City. I really like how they layered a button down under it on the model.)
  • J.Crew: 40% off last minute gifts + extra 40% off sale styles with code GIFTNOW. (How am I just now seeing this? I’m obsessed.)
  • J.Crew Factory: 40% off new arrivals plus 50% off everything else! (These popover tunics would make for a good maternity piece to invest in. Especially to layer under sweaters when its cold out.)
  • kate spade new york: Enjoy an extra 30% off sale styles with code sprinkles. (This iridescent wallet is beyond fun, and who said wallets can’t be a little bit out there?!)
  • LOFT: 40% off everything with code FESTIVE40. (The back detail of this makes it anything but boring.)
  • Lou & Grey: 25% off a purchase of $100+ with code NICELIST. (This looks beyond cozy – wishing I had it for our car ride today!)
  • Lulu & Georgia: Take 20% off electronic gift cards with code HOLLYJOLLY.
  • Madewell: 25% off your entire purchase with code LATEBIRD. (Really bummed I missed out on this in my size, but hoping to find it in a store.)
  • Mango: Sale – up to 50% off Fall/Winter ’16 collection. (The style of this coat along with the color is one I would wear all the time!)
  • Old Navy: Entire store – up to 75% off!
  • Saks: Online and in stores – the designer sale, up to 60% off!
  • Steven Alan: Take 25% off everything online and in stores with code 25FORALL. (I absolutely love this designer, and the two tone aspect of these would go with everything.)
  • Steve Madden: Up to 60% off select dress, boot, and bootie styles. (These are darling and the price is even better.)
  • Stuart Weitzman: Take up to 40% off sale styles. (These are pretty amazing!)
  • TIBI: Sale now up to 70% off! (Loving the silhouette of this blouse.)
  • Waiting on Martha: Give a digital gift card! Give a $100 gift card and get $25 for yourself or give a $50 gift card and get $10 for yourself! Offer valid through tomorrow!

Some Steals:

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Dorothy Shain Bikinis

December 22, 2016

So sister Sally won in the holiday decor department this year with her festive living room situation. I completely failed on putting up any sort of decorations aside from tacking up my "Mistletoe. Like, Now" print and filling this bowl with a small assortment of my ornaments (you can see my sad attempt at cheer here). Even though my living room didn't get the Christmas treatment, it did get some new artwork that I'm so completely in love with!

I had been corresponding with artist Dorothy Shain since March about commissioning a few custom pieces. For those of you unfamiliar with her work, Dorothy is a contemporary artist based in South Carolina. Her paintings, collages, hand-dyed fabrics, and mixed media pieces have been gaining steady attention and praise - and Sally and I have loved following her work over the past few years. I was over the moon when she suggested we work together to come up with something specific and special to my home. The result are three bikini pieces that wouldn't be more perfect...

 

When Dorothy and I first started talking about what might work with my style I told her that while I had some art pieces that were bright and bold, I was most interested in bringing in something neutral. Being the sweet, Southern gem that she is (along with being comfortable working with any color palette), Dorothy was more than down for doing something neutral. We discussed where I envisioned a piece(s) going – sizing – and which of her pieces I favored most. I told her that I was obsessed with her bikini pieces but that I didn’t know if they were totally me…their feminine nature always made me think they’d be better suited in Sally’s home. But after some thinking I determined that they were too magical to pass up and I knew Dorothy would make me a bikini or two that would perfectly align with my aesthetic.

Dorothy’s bikinis were an instant favorite among fans and she continues to sketch, paint, and tweak the concept; her experiments with styles (high waisted briefs, underwire tops, string ties, etc.) and play with patterns and colors has elevated the teeny swimsuit to something more than worthy of having on the wall.

Once we settled on the bikinis, I gave Dorothy an idea of what I meant by “neutral” colors. I pointed her towards Loeffler Randall’s Pre-Fall ’16 mood board…I’m an LR addict but this particular collection really aligned with what I going for in my living room area (bleached neutrals, blush pink, intentional pops of color like sienna and red). It was kind of a weird reference but I thought the bikini pieces totally fell in line with the “everlasting summer” concept they had for the collection and lucky for me, Dorothy totally got where my head was at. I also sent her an image of the rug I had bought for the room (a vintage Turkish piece from Etsy seller Lavendersky Blue).

And then….I patiently waited. Usually I am HORRIBLE at waiting for anything when I’m super excited but moving in September and getting Rosebud in November, coupled with being work busy helped distract me. It also helped that Dorothy sent me a sneak peek of three (3!) bikinis she had been working on for me in early November. My response was something like, “OMG OMG OMG so amazing, looooooove them.” We chatted about various framing options and determined that simple white frames and floating the pieces on a white mat would look best.

Next thing I know…it’s Tuesday of this week and the bikinis are at my doorstep (each lovingly wrapped in layers of bubble wrap, framed to perfection, and signed). I was blown away that Dorothy sent me all three – we’d originally talked about one or two – so I was equal parts shocked and touched. The bikinis are so special in person (though I tried to capture their beauty and Dorothy’s artistic layering with these pictures) and I still can’t believe they are mine. These are my first “original” mixed media art pieces and that makes them all the more special.

When it came to hanging, I knew I wanted two of the three bikinis to hang with the mirror above my entry table in my living room – with one on either side. Sally helped me determine which pair looked best and we decided that they looked best positioned a little higher than centered in the middle of the mirror. Our mama is really the master when it comes to hanging art but she’s taught us well and getting these babies up was a snap.

I’m still thinking about where the third bikini will go…for now it’s leaning on the entry console below the pink bikini. I think my heart is feeling a little sad about breaking up the trio so soon – they just look so great together! But I have some empty walls that I’m contemplating moving it to.

If you love Dorothy’s bikinis as much as Sally and I do (and really, what’s not to love?!) you can shop her current offerings of the swimsuits here. We love the black and white versions and Dorothy has told us that she’ll be adding more with color and on white backgrounds to her site in January. Make sure you also check out her collages and giclee prints, and follow her on Instagram @dorothy_shain to stay in the loop when new pieces are released, upcoming events, and more. In addition to her prints and originals for sale, Dorothy creates custom invitations, stationary, and logos and is accepting commissions for custom art pieces for 2017. We’re predicting that her star will continue to rise so if you’re interested in her talent, now is a great time to work with her!

Thank you again, D! Adore you and smile every time I look at my new bikinis!

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Festive Living Room

December 21, 2016

When we - my husband and I - first moved into our house in Dallas we had a fairly large front living room that was completely empty. I dubbed it the "Christmas tree room" even back in July because the front-facing plantation shutters were perfect for displaying a pretty, fresh tree in front of and the white fireplace was just begging for our Christmas stockings to be hung from it. Fast forward to almost 6 months later and a lot has changed in our Christmas tree room.

We were able to fill the room with some pieces that we absolutely love from ATG Stores that make the room cozier than ever on our first Christmas in this house...

I have a hard time picking a favorite piece in the room because it really did all come together so well, but I can safely say that our dog Camp’s favorite the Hadley/Hemingway Rug by Loloi. The rug was one of the first items I picked – and this first piece to arrive – and it alone made a world of difference in the room as soon as we laid it down. The rug is soft and cozy and different from any rug in our house which makes it special. Finding a one-color rug that has visual interest isn’t always easy and I love that this one looks striped with its cut pile and loop construction.

Truth be told, the first piece I fell for when I started browsing the ATG Stores site was the Antoinette Antiqued French Accent Chair by Baxton Studio in the yellow linen. Yellow is my most favorite color and we had yet to use the hue it in any other room of our house, so it seemed meant to be when I saw this chair. They add just the perfect punch of happy color to the room without being too much and I love the classic design of them. With the bright chairs, a neutral rug seemed like a perfect choice and also led me to wanting a neutral sofa. *Side note: our pup Dolly loves perching in the chair that sits closest to the front windows.

I had a vision for what I wanted in a “living room” sofa (we have a sectional sofa in our family room by our TV) and in my mind I wanted something somewhat formal-looking but also approachable and inviting. Nothing worse than having furniture that guest feel is too nice to sit on! I instantly gravitated for the Emily Tufted Sofa by Pacific Loft for it’s velvet texture and turfed design. The curves compliment the French design of the chairs and the beige hue is just slightly darker than the ivory of the rug, keeping it from blending in.

With the yellow chairs making such a color statement, it was a little hard for me to determine what type of coffee table I wanted to anchor the sitting area. I knew I wanted something rectangular so that the length could sit parallel to the couch and the chair could sit on either side of it. My mom (who helped me pursue all the ATG Stores pages and weigh in on the look of the room) is the one who first found the Back to the Roots Atlantis Coffee Table by GroovyStuff. At first I wasn’t sure if the piece would be too much of a departure from the elegant chairs and sofa but my mom was right in suggesting it because the organic nature of the table is a perfect contrast to the structured sitting pieces. I love how the wood warms up the space and goes well with our crisp white walls and the art that we knew would be in the room.

This room is hands down my favorite room in our house – it is the first place we see when we walk into the door and it never ceases to make me smile. As I had pictured when we first moved in, the space has become even more special with the Christmas holiday.

My husband and I picked out our fresh tree after Thanksgiving and we got to hang the collection of ornaments my mom has been gifting me each year since I was a baby. I was pretty impressed by how full the tree was though I feel like we still need to thoughtfully add some more ornaments over time. It will be exciting to share the ornament tradition with a new baby next Christmas and for many Christmases to come.

Another family tradition? Our needlepoint stockings which were literally a labor of love over the past year and a half by Molly and my mom. After my husband and I got married my mom and I had the designs painted by a local needlepoint studio in Kansas City (we were inspired by vintage Christmas illustrations) and once they were ready to stitch Molly took over mine and my mom went to town on Robert’s. We already have one painted and ready for stitching to add to the mantle for the new baby, which is so exciting (and a little surreal). It’s one of my task in the New Year and I’m really excited to get going on it. I’m a slower stitcher than my mama and Molly so I’ll need all the time I can to complete it before next year!

And of course, I couldn’t leave our puppies out when it came to representing the family with stockings. I learned about Shari Ledji and her Red Llama Studio –  she makes absolutely darling custom felt, initial stockings – and thought the modern design would look great along side the needlepoint stockings. I was able to pick the colors when The Loveliest hosted a trunkshow with Shari months ago and love how they coordinate. They seriously out better than I could have expected!

Aside from our Christmas tree and the stockings, the other big holiday decor moment happening in the living room are the colorful bottle brush trees on our mantle. I found them at Neiman Marcus in the fall and jumped at getting all the colors (they came in little six-piece color groupings). Sadly, there’s only one color left – but I’m sure they will be back next year.

See why I smile every time I walk into this room!?

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