Giving Warmth

December 11, 2017

If you're anything like me, you've been counting down the days till Christmas since Halloween. I just love, love this time of'a a combination of the build-up that comes with knowing I'll be with all my family for a long stretch of time, being surrounded by festive lights and decor, the giddy excitement I get just thinking about our holiday traditions, and reminiscing over favorite Christmas memories. Some of my strongest and fondest memories are from Christmas' past and with each year new magical memories are made.

To me, Christmas is all about family, friends, and giving. The older I get the more I realize just how much I have - when asked what I want for Christmas I'm always answering with, "I don't need anything!" - and while the abundance makes me feel so much gratitude it also shines perspective on the reality that so many go without. This year I'm inspired by Altar'd State to re-thinking what it means to give. Altar'd State is a retail brand with a core mission of giving back in everything that they do and this season they're encouraging everyone to give warmth with their #ASGiveWarmth campaign. The idea is up to interpretation but I have a few ideas of how to put the idea into action...

Does anyone else nerd out for nostalgic Christmas movies and books? Sally and I recently inherited a huge collection of holiday children’s books (our own from way back when) from our mama and as I was going through them the other week I felt a rush of memories then quickly recognized how so many of the stories share common themes. From The Polar Express” and How The Grinch Stole Christmas” to A Christmas Carol,” so many of the tales we’ve loved since childhood focus on believing (faith in what can’t always be seen) and share the message of the holidays being about people (and not things).

A Christmas memory that really hit home for me happened as recently as a few years ago. My grandparents have always been notoriously generous when it came to holiday gifts – think thoughtful, exciting, and typically grand. But several years ago we (my siblings, cousins and I) didn’t get presents to unwrap, but modest envelopes containing a simple message: this year we were being given the gift of giving. Our grandparents told us that we each had a sum of money that they would donate to the cause or charity of our choice in our individual names…all we had to do was write to them with the name of an organization and why we went compelled to give to it. Such an incredible moment. Not only did they demonstrate how important it is to practice what you preach (my grandparents have always voiced how important it is to be generous and philanthropic) but their gift made us all feel so much happier than any sort of item that we would have unwrapped and kept for ourselves.

At a time when influencers like me are encouraged to treat Christmas as a an opportunity to buy, buy, buy it feels like a breath of fresh air to have Altar’d State promoting the type of thinking that’s more like, “Of course, buy pieces that feel special and authentic to you and those you love! But also consider giving back.”

Altar’d State has never been shy about stating that they’re a retail company wanting to fill a gap in the industry and change the world for the better. With a mission to “stand out for good and do their part to change the world for the better” guiding all that they do, they’ve been successful in growing their presence to over 80 boutique locations across the country. With values, faith, and a strong commitment to community Altar’d State has been able to offer fashionable and quality goods while inspiring customers to give back. To spark that inspiration, the brand is leading by example…funding local community service hours for employees, donating a portion of sales from each store to local communities, partnering with brands that have similar missions of giving back, and starting an Altar’d State Brand that helps feed, clothe, and educate children around the world.

I’m really happy to say that all my Christmas shopping is finished. I went with a “less is more” approach but I really feel like what I bought is special and specific to each of the people on my list. I even found some cute chew toys for my pups and a cozy pair of mittens while looking through Altar’d State’s gift guides! Since I’m feeling compelled to join the #ASGiveWarmth initiative I’ve come up with a few ideas of how to do more than just making my list, shopping, and crossing off to-do’s.

For my family and friends I’m going to spend time writing handwritten notes. Some will be serious, some will be funny, but I hope that all of them convey how much these individuals mean to me and how grateful I am to have them in my life. No gift could compare equate to the love they show me on a daily basis and I’m hoping that putting pen to paper will give them warm fuzzy feelings and maybe even result in a Christmas memory they’ll always cherish.

To give warmth to those I don’t know I’ll be continuing my annual tradition of selecting several names from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. Sally and I have been doing this ever since we moved to Dallas and it always feels so good to be contributing to the cause that serves over 45,000 children in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Taking a cue from my grandparents, I’m going to be contributing to a couple of my favorite non profit organizations. Whenever I start to think that what I have to give seems monetarily insignificant I try to remind myself that giving is giving is giving and that all donations make a difference towards a greater goal.

If you’re feeling inspired to join the #ASGiveWarmth campaign I highly encourage joining in the movement to spread the message about how it’s the season for giving and doing good for others!!

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Special Signet Rings

December 8, 2017

As Molly's 30th birthday was approaching, I wanted to think of something special to gift her that would always commemorate the big occasion. On top of wanting to make her feel really loved and celebrated, I also wanted a gift that would say "thank you" because with a 7 month old I quite literally would not be surviving without my sister/best friend living in the same city. Molly watches baby H for us while I work out and my husband and I are forever grateful for every ounce of help she has given us over the past seven months - and beyond! This mama has yet to leave her baby at home with anyone other than family (I know, I know - it's time!) and even though no gift could equate the selfless generosity Molly's given me, I wanted to at try...keep reading to see what I gifted her and what makes it so special!

Those details aside, I felt that Molly deserved something fantastic from our little family. I’m a big believer in jewelry as a gift for special occasions – especially if it’s jewelry that is worn every day. You are constantly reminded of who gifted the piece to you and what it was for. I still to this day regularly wear the Van Cleef necklace that our mama gave me for my 21st birthday and a diamonds by the yard necklace that I received for my graduation. So many of my most treasured jewelry pieces are ones that were gifted to me and I wear nearly all of them daily. I like to think that if I have a daughter someday that I’ll definitely be passing a few on to her which makes them that much more meaningful. My Mimi passed down an incredible pair of Michael Good gold hoop earrings to me that I had always admired. I could keep going with my list of beloved jewels but basically, I love that these pieces have a story to them.

Shortly after baby H was born, Elizoebeth Jensen made me the most perfect gold signet ring (to wear on my pinky) with his initials. I’m still blown away by her thoughtfulness – it was one of the few gifts I received for myself to mark the occasion. I love having something so personal with my sweet baby boy’s little initials and ever since I slipped it on my pinky I’ve rarely taken it off.

Delicate signet rings have always been something I admire thanks to my mama. Growing up I remember pawing through her jewelry selection and noting that one of the few rings that fit my small fingers was a gold one engraved with her maiden name initials. She explained to me that it was called a signet ring and that was gifted to her back in high school. I had always admired the classic look of the ring and loved when my mom started wearing it regularly on her pinky several years ago. No matter what other rings she wore along side it, the signet ring always stood out as being classic, feminine and personal. And really, I just loved the look of it worn on her pinky. Since the days of trying on my mama’s ring I’ve always perked up when I saw other signet styles…I envisioned having something similar to hers for myself someday but I wasn’t totally on the hunt. Imagine my surprise and serious delight when Elizobeth reached out to me just after baby H was born and offered to make me one of her 14k gold classic signet rings! Elizoebeth’s design is so strikingly similar to the one my mom has and the hand engraving makes the ring unique and gives it a look and quality of an heirloom piece. I will forever cherish it!

With our mama and me both wearing our signet rings on our respective pinky fingers, I felt like Molly most definitely needed to join the club. No one loves jewelry more than her and she had been lusting after one for years (even more than I had!). Her 30th birthday seemed like the perfect excuse to have Elizoebeth Jensen make her a signet ring of her own. When October 21st rolled around and I got to give Molly her gift I was basically jumping out of my skin with excitement. To say that she was surprised and elated is an understatement…she was so shocked by the sentimental treasure that she got a little teary-eyed (which then made me cry). It was the most perfect 30th birthday surprise and I’m so thrilled that it made her feel so loved on her special day. She couldn’t be happier with her ring, and just like me, has been wearing it ever since.

You all know that Molly and I love any excuse to match (in good taste, of course), so matching sisterhood signet rings are just the cherry on top. I just love that mine and Molly’s knowledge and fondness for signet rings came from the one our mom has had since high school and that the three of us now each have one that we wear on our pinkys. I’m so grateful to Elizoebeth for bringing her classic signet ring into our lives!

P.S. Elizoebeth (who could not be sweeter) would love to help you celebrate the special people and occasions in your life – whether it’s a gift or a little self-gifting love – and she’s offering A Piece of Toast readers 20% off online purchases on her site through the month of December. Enter ToastToLove at checkout to redeem!

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Molly’s Moreau

December 7, 2017

Remember when Sally shared the beautiful Moreau-Paris store she visited while in San Francisco in this post? If you didn't have a chance to see the images or learn more about the brand you need to check it a world saturated with luxury brands, Moreau is one that truly stands out for its combination of craftsmanship and approachability. Though I haven't been able to experience the SF flagship store (the brand's only boutique in the US!) I felt like I got to live vicariously through Sally's visit and even made her FaceTime me while she was there so I could see more of the store's beautiful interior and array of gorgeous bags and accessories.

As soon as Sally came back from her trip - this was back in September - we had some theoretical discussions about which Moreau-Paris bag we would want. As you may have seen from the pics she snapped while in the store, have visited their website, or checked out their Instagram account, you know there are a lot of options and some really fun ways to personalize the leather. What started as a fun pipe-dream turned into a full collaboration with the wonderful people at the Moreau San Francisco store. I'm still pinching myself over the whole experience and am so excited to share with you my very own Moreau-Paris bag!


Ok. Back to business. My favorite thing about the Moreau’s San Francisco store is the beautiful blue color that’s painted on the walls and ceiling. It’s the brand’s signature color that can also be seen on their shopping bags, dust bags and more. It’s almost like a deep teal blue. Anyway, when Sally and I were perusing the site and Instagram it was always the blue bags printed with Moreau’s iconic woven pattern. Blue is my go-to color (maybe because I’m always wearing denim?) and I loved that the pattern on the blue leather was a combination of dark blue, black, and tan. Blue + black is my favorite color combo and with the subtle addition of tan, the whole print made for a perfect neutral that I knew would go well with pretty much everything I wear on a daily basis.

After chatting with Graciela – the wonderful brand director of the SF Moreau store – Sally and I determined that we both loved the Vincennes style tote bags. They’re on the more simple side compared to some of the other totes and we especially loved the “pocket” style with the printed leather that has a more relaxed silhouette that could be cinched in at the side with interior ties, and features a slim side pocket on the interior. I hate saying “simple” because nothing Moreau does is simple. Everything is hand printed, stitched and finished so even a more casual style like the Vincennes has no shortage of detail.

I was pretty much decided on getting the Vincennes pocket tote in printed blue with the black straps but Graciela surprised me with a image she snapped in the store of a pocket tote that had the blue printed leather on the sides and “blue canard” leather on the front, back, and bottom. I loved that the handles matched the color of the bag and totally fell for the tone on tone look!

When it came time to decide how to personalize the bag – something I was so excited about since I don’t have any bag with my name/initals/etc. on it – I spent a lot of time scrolling through @moreauparis on Instagram and checking out all the customization they had done for past projects and customers. This brand has so much fun with their hand-painting…from one-of-a-kind symbols, crazy-cool stripe combinations, unique lettering techniques, and more. But as soon as I saw the stripes they did that started out structured then ended with drips at the bottom I knew that’s what my bag needed. The drippy stripe (as I’ve been calling it) is such an unexpected artistic juxtaposition to the long established luxury backbone of the brand and I just loved the mix of modern with traditional. A single drippy stripe – hand-painted in somewhat of an electric blue similar to the brand’s signature color – topped with an “M” for Molly. I think it really suits my personality, no?

Fair warning: this will not be the last time you see me with this bag in blog-related images. As soon as it arrived at my doorstep, lovingly wrapped all the way from San Fran, it’s been in use.

If you’re feeling the itch to have a Moreau-Paris bag of your own I highly suggest visiting the San Francisco store or getting in touch with wonderful sales and brand team there (P: 415-398-1110, E: Sally and I did all our bag deliberating over emails and texts and it was a really fun and easy process. The store even did mock-ups to show us color and sizing options for the personalization we were wanting (so helpful and made me all the more excited to have mine customized).

And don’t fret, Sally will be sharing her Moreau tote soon!!

Pieces From The Post

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Current Vibes

December 6, 2017

Does anyone have a dog who loves seeing other animals on TV? My little Rosebud can basically sense when an animal (dog, horse, etc.) shows up while I'm watching and she totally tunes in. I don't know how she knowns - it's not like these short animal clips in my Bravo and Law & Order: SVU watching involves much sound. But anyway, I just started feeding her animals on TV interest with Animal Planet and she is hypnotized. Not sure if this is a good thing (could help for me to leave it on when I leave the house so as to distract her from destroying my rug) or a bad thing (is screen time for dogs unhealthy?) but for now I love watching Rose watch other animals. My life is full of fascinating going ons like this. Just call me if you want more mundane stories. (and read on for the stuff I love this week!)

1. SPYING // JENNA LYONS’S LOFT: Remember when everyone (including me) freaked for Jenna Lyons’s brownstone that was published in domino? Dark bedroom…yellow couch…white and yellow striped nursery ceiling. It was nine years ago and I still see images from the feature on Pinterest. But I have to say that Jenna’s new SoHo loft that was recently showcased – along with a short video tour – for T Magazine blows the brownstone out of the water. There’s still splashes of color (a giant pink couch situation) and moody darks (a deep green/blue hallway and a dark-walled master bath) but it feels a lot more layered and dare I say, more Jenna-ish. Like most everything Jenna does, it’s both enviable and approachable. Love how the article notes how her “idiosyncratic genius for color and texture.” Truth.

2. BLOOMING // SISTER GOLDEN FLOWER ART: I stumbled upon the work of Vicki Rawlins and her “flower prints” the other week and felt like they were to fun not to share. Vicki and her daughter Brooke started Sister Golden, their online shop of curated artistic goods – including Vicki’s floral wonders and work by other independent artists all over the world – in 2014 and have been going strong ever since. Each flower piece that Vicki makes carefully arranged and layered (no tape, glue or pins!) then photographed before the temporary balanced beauty is gone. Though the 3D goodness can’t be framed and displayed, the prints are the next best thing! They literally look like they’re popping off the page. I think Iris might be my favorite…

3. WEARING // TIPPI: If you saw my post yesterday you saw me in one of my two J.Crew Tippi sweaters. I bought both around this time last year and am so glad I did…they’re soft, a basic shape (like a t-shirt but better?), and fitted just enough. I love the grey and ivory Tippi I have so much that I’m considering getting both black and heather flax this year. But then I saw that J.Crew made a very special Tippi sweater this season…one with a heart-eyed emoji. So good, right? I feel like I can’t totally justify getting the style for myself since I already have the style in grey but I really want to scoop it up for an emoji-loving friend. Who wouldn’t have hearts for eyes when getting this as a gift this year?!

4. UPGRADING // iPHONE X CASE: I did it. I ordered the iPhone X the other day. Though I have to wait a couple weeks to get the shiny new device in my greedy hands, I couldn’t be more excited to have an upgrade camera for all the dog and nephew photos I’m snapping on the reg. New phone = new case. I’m not one of those people who live on the edge and let their iPhones go naked…mine always needs a protective case. I’m recycling the Anya Hindmarch “Thumbs Up” leather sticker I used on an old iPhone case for whatever new case I get and I want something sold in color so that when I superglue the sticker on it stands out. I’m going to go super basic with either white or black. I’m torn between Apple’s silicone case or a Pela eco-friendly case. I recently learned about Pela and their plant-based cases that are BPA-free, eco-friendly, child-safe and designed to be 100% compostable. If you’re into clean products (I find myself switching out more and more things to be non-toxic/clean/eco-friendly thanks to Sally) then you should definitely check out the brand!

5. STUFFING // CHOCOLATE FOR THE STOCKINGS: Stockings are one of my favorite things when it come to Christmas. My parents are pretty great at stuffing mine and my siblings with a combination of sweet treats, things for the pups, and small surprises. Sally and I are doing stocking for each other this year in Dallas (a new tradition we’re starting) and I’m thinking that I might have to get a Compartés chocolate bar or two (sorry for spoiling some of your stocking surprise, Sal). If you haven’t tried yet the gourmet chocolate that is Compartés yet, I’ll tell you that the bars worth the hype. Besides the fact that each bar is handmade with all natural organic ingredients in Los Angeles, the crazy creative and delicious flavors are enough to have you intrigued. S’mores, anyone?

6. INSPIRED BY // BOBBI BROWN: I’m such a nerd for Bobbi Brown. I love her, her products and her whole approach to makeup (no contour palettes, whatttt?!). Last week I was on The CUT and liked reading this feature on how she “gets it done” – really cool to see a day-in-the-life of – but it was a link to an older Bobbi feature from March that I really loved. “Bobbi Brown on Why She Really Left Her Brand and Resisted Making a Contour Palette, and Her Next Moves.” If you’re also a fellow Bobbi lover you’ll probably really enjoy this read…she touches on her start her career (as a make-up artist, how her signature style came about, how she got into making her own make-up and was the first makeup artist to do so!), and more personal topics (like why she left the brand and what she’s doing now). Bobbi, you’re a boss.

7. WANTING // URBAN SPIKES: Hi, my name is Molly and I do not have a green thumb. I love the idea of having pretty plants in my home but have a very hard time keeping them alive. I’ve been told that succulents, cacti and orchids will be my best friend and require little to no maintenance…but I don’t just want to plop a succulent on my coffee table and call it a day. Ideally, I’d like some sort of arrangement that’s less “I picked up this resilient plant at Home Depot” and more “Oh this living piece of art? I consider it my flora spirit animal.” If you’re feeling a similar desire for something green that won’t be instantly killed and you live in the DFW area, then you need to check out Urban Spikes. Sorry for everyone who doesn’t reside in Dallas/Fort Worth…but this company is based in Dallas and Courtney Goldberg is the artful genius behind the creative arrangements. Love how Courtney uses so many elements – from sand art, stones, geodes, branches, petrified wood, quills, crystals, and more. Head to the @urbanspikes Instagram and site to see more eye candy and find out how to order your own “inventive, modern, botanical décor”!

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Carrying Clare V

December 5, 2017

Over the past few months I realized I was missing an essential accessory. A smallish black bag - ideally one that could be worn with a shoulder strap or as a clutch. I have a lot of clutches and bags with straps (several of them black) but they're either too small to fit what I need or too casual when I want to transition it from my everyday wear to something more dressed up. As someone who has loved all things Clare V - my flat clutches are go-to's - I wasn't too surprised that her 2017 Holiday collection included the bag I had been dreaming of. Called Flore, she's a hard-framed bag that has a gold chain strap that can be worn over the shoulder or tucked inside when carried as a clutch. What really made me fall for Flore - besides the vintage-inspired shape - was that it came in hair-on (aka calf hair). Elegant and fun but un-fussy...I obviously scooped her up and am excited to share her glory!


Along with the Flore, Clare’s other Holiday pieces were influenced by her trip to Africa with Every Mother Counts – specifically the vivid palette she experienced while in Zanzibar. Same minimalistic silhouettes Clave V is known for with a dash of graphic pattern, textures, and more. Each bag in the collection is lined with bright red canvas…a perfect festive pop!

Get to know the other Clare V Holiday bags: If you’re a girl who loves the clutch/shoulder strap option (sort of perfect when you want to be hands free or need a more minimalistic look) then you’ll love the Midi Sac Supreme (the croc embossed leather is beyond beautiful in the bold red) and the Colette Maison Crossbody. I’m really into the mixed stripes on the Midi Sac Stripe Crossbody and the Mixed Media Fold-Over Clutch and love that the same red and navy was incorporated in all the snakeskin embossed leather bags…check out the Midi Sac Crossbody, the Petite Henri Drawstring Bucket Bag and the Center Stripe Flat Clutch. Speaking of flat clutches, the Poppy Print Clutch and Star Suede Cluch are both examples of print perfection. More great pattern and texture action with an awesome chevron use on this Drawstring Pouch (love that gold chain strap) and the Marquis Foldover Clutch. I really think the size and price tag of the Croc Embossed Wallet Clutch makes it an excellent gift for someone!

When you have a great bag, it doesn’t really matter how you style it…you just need to pick a bag that you know will be versatile with your needs! Flora totally filled an gaping accessory hole I had. I’ve already taken her town and she’s just as great at a casual dinner with girl friends as she is at a more fancy dinner then out for drinks (and maybe some dancing).

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