Friday, November 21, 2014

The Quest For The Well Edited Wardrobe

A year and a half ago I began to pare down my closet(s), rid myself of excess and change my approach to how I dressed myself. I shared how overrun my closet(s) had become and was able to edit down to one closet's worth of clothing (no longer a plural! hooray!) with minimal seasonal storage. While this may not seem impressive to you or to have required any kind of superhuman strength and willpower, let me mention that I have worked in apparel retail for 26 years. It is not easy to be around clothing all day, 5 days a week with styles and trends that change more frequently than some people may change their skivvies. (Except me, I change my skivvies daily!). 
After this "awakening" I can proudly say that I have purged more than I have purchased yet I am continually working on downsizing into a very small, well edited wardrobe. The less I have, the more simple things are. Not really rocket science, but yet it never ceases to amaze me. 
A few weeks ago I saw this pin on Pinterest and once again it refreshed my mission and mantra that less is more:

As I looked over this list it dawned on me that these items are truly the only things I grab on a daily basis. I don't know that I could survive without my black and white v~neck tees. I wear them constantly and with everything. I realized that I rotate only between 3 pairs of jeans; black skinnies, blue skinnies and a blue boyfriend but still own about 5 other pairs.
I had to travel for work last week and as I packed my suitcase I looked down at the items I had laid out and lo and behold, what do you think I had selected? A white v~neck tee, boyfriend jeans, ankle boots and a wool blazer. I added the same belt I reach for time and time again as well as a thin, gold necklace to finish it off. One of 3 necklaces that always adorn my neck. The basics of my wardrobe or core of my closet, if you will.
It's no surprise then that I felt my best and most comfortable in this outfit is it? Of course not. I still have some work to do in the purge department and after this recent reminder it will be a lot easier. If it seems wasteful or painful to the wallet (think of all that money you've spent!) you can always resell better branded clothing, footwear and handbags on sites like eBay and donate the rest to your favorite charity thrift store. I paid for our summer vacation last year with the money I made selling my clothing, shoes and handbags on eBay. You'll be surprised how quickly it can add up and the demand for used clothing online. 
Hmmm...that gets me thinking...extra Christmas shopping money???
That idea in itself is worth an additional purging! Happy Friday friends, I think I'll now be spending the weekend doing some additional closet cleaning, you?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Harvest Wine & Cheese Party

With the holidays approaching faster than a speeding bullet and the stress and strain feeling more powerful than a locomotive, you sometimes feel like you have to be Superman in order to deal with it all. We want to entertain and throw parties that our friends will be talking about well into the new year, but sometimes reality (and exhaustion) keep us from doing so.
Cue the Wine & Cheese party.
There is no need to whip up a fancy dinner party for 4, 6 or 8 (or more!) when you can set up an amazing spread of noshes and nibbles and sip the night away with your nearest and dearest. All you really need is a sideboard, buffet or even your dining room table on which to set up a variety of cheeses, nuts (if no one is allergic!), crackers, breads etc. You can incorporate seasonal elements alongside your serving pieces to make the setting festive and fun. Using a plate stand for the dishes adds a little height and gives guests a starting point to fill their plates. A few candles in between provide mood lighting and some pretty flowers, or in this case, some sheaths of wheat, are the finishing touch. Pop open a few bottles of your favorite wines, set out some pretty glassware and you are ready for an evening that required minimum effort but delivers maximum impact. With no crazy clean up! You'll be more relaxed, able to enjoy yourself and still host that seasonal soiree we all dream about having.

Shop the setting:
Wrought iron plate stand sold
Cheese domes here, here and here
Danish modern serving tray here
Vintage linen towel here 
Pretty vintage wine glasses here, here , here and here
Etched glass salad/dessert plates coming soon

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Making A Statement

Yesterday I had to attend a style event for the company I work for to kick off the launch of a new line. What to wear was on the forefront of my mind all week. While I have paired down my wardrobe tremendously and tend to stick to a uniform of sorts lately, I still need that statement piece to really make my outfit pop. I settled on a white v~neck tee under a great black wool blazer and black skinny jeans with these amazing printed back zip heels. The heels certainly make their own statement but I still wanted a little "bling" around my neck or in my ears to complete the ensemble.
In the same way, I am always looking for "statement" pieces to complete the rooms in my home. Sometimes it's a chair, a painting, or a necessity like lighting. When we moved in and I began designing my master bedroom I had my heart set on a crystal or glass chandelier with silver accents to complete the look.

Unfortunately, I had to compromise with the husband on this. He compromised on dainty coral red nightstands that barely hold more than a frame and a night time glass of water and I agreed (sadly) to let him have the ceiling fan over the bed that he cannot sleep without.
From time to time I find myself still looking for that showstopping chandelier that should be hanging over our bed and I recently found a few on One Kings Lane that have me contemplating whether or not he will divorce me if I quietly replace his beloved fan with one of these beauties.

In an effort to save my marriage I should probably look to some of the other rooms in our house where having the white noise of a ceiling fan is not critical to his existence.

Our study/office might be the perfect place to add this amazing vintage chandelier:

Or maybe it is better suited for a larger space like our formal living room with it's gallery of vintage and antique artwork. It might be perfect since our adjacent dining room has black wrought iron, teak furniture and some rustic accents.
As I continue to look for those finishing touches for each room in our house, each day I look for that piece of statement jewelry or outfit "completer" for what I am wearing. It's the key to pulling a look together in every facet of style and home design.

P.S. One Kings Lane has me swooning over more than their lighting, this vintage ring. I would love  it for the birthday I have this week. Hint, hint Mr. Ceiling Fan lover. ;)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gather Round The Table ~ A Vintage Thanksgiving

When I see stacks of vintage dishes and crates full of no longer loved china, I see endless possibilities. There are countless ways to incorporate the old into the new and make it feel fresh and modern. Take for instance the soft, sage green leaves and graceful, gold chrysanthemums of Noritake's Janice pattern. A little bit of glam but in a effortless manner. Pairing it with natural elements such as a jute runner and a wood charger makes it comfortable, approachable. The white linens feel crisp, not stuffy. Serving your award worthy side dishes in some charming vintage ironstone will have your guests not just coming back for second helpings, but coming back to gather around your table time and time again.

Maybe glam isn't your thing. Perhaps you prefer something a little more simple and understated. There are always sweet floral print dishes piled high on those flea market tables or cluttering the shelves at the thrifts. Finding a set in soft, classic colors like yellow and green opens the door to a variety of mix and match potential. Pairing natural elements like rattan and wood with earth tone linens creates a neutral backdrop so you can easily add a statement piece like a hand painted tureen. By keeping it in a similar color palette, it doesn't come across as over the top. Instead it is warm and inviting and gives the whole table a sense of being curated or thoughtfully put together.

Next time you find yourself wandering through a flea market or meandering up and down the aisles of a thrift store, take a second look at those stacks of dishes. Look at them as more than just  "grandma's china". It's a chance to reuse, recycle and create gatherings where your personality and style can really shine.

Shop the setting:

Traditional Glam
China available here
Gold flatware here
Vintage napkins here
Table runner here
Ironstone serving bowls here
Etched wine glasses here

Country Farmhouse
China available here and here 
Gravy boat here
Hand painted tureen available here and here
French tureen here
Vintage basket here
Pressed glass wine glasses here

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Chic Autumn Table On The Cheap

Isn't this table runner lovely? I adore it's rich, burnt orange color that is so perfect for fall. And that print. That print! It goes so well with plaids and floral that I think it may very well be able to be considered a neutral like leopard print. It's fast becoming my "go to" this autumn with it's ability to mix and match with so many things. There's just one thing minor detail about this runner that you may not realize.
It's not a table runner at all.
It's a scarf.
From Old Navy.
That cost me under $10.
Crazy, right?
I love a well set table. Not much satisfies me like a gorgeously dressed event does. I have a whole Pinterest board called Gatherings dedicated to nothing but impeccably set tables. They excite me the way other women find shoes, handbags and jewelry exciting. You can keep all of that, I'll take some pretty plates, graceful glassware and beautiful linens please.
Almost two years ago I realized that people are not always comfortable gathering around a traditionally well appointed table. Tablecloths add an air of formality that doesn't translate into the informality we live in today. While I might not have been serving food on bone china or pouring wine into fine crystal stemware, formal linens feel, well, formal. So I started to use runners. A simple table runner can bring any setting to a more casual level. There was just one problem. Even though my dining room table fits a generous 90" round tablecloth, I found that most table runners are too long because they are specifically designed for rectangular or oblong sizes. Because my table is round, ends sit stiffly and squarely and just a little bit awkwardly. Plus, the people at the ends usually ended up with a lap full of excess runner.
I can't exactly remember how it happened, but one day it dawned on me that the mountain of decorative scarves I hardly wear anymore are in loads and loads of different colors and prints. They are not nearly as long as traditional runners and the ends drape gracefully around the curves of my table. Most are wide enough to generously cover a good portion of the surface. They wash well too because obviously they are meant to be worn.  And the options! The options!!! Almost any women's retailer sells scarves in all sorts or styles and sizes making them ideal for personalizing your table like you personalize your outfit. 
The good news?
A chic table on the cheap.
The bad news?
That scarf collection might just keep growing and growing and growing.

*scarves of much thinner than traditional linens so make sure you take precautions to protect your table surface when serving hot foods!

Shop the setting:
Vintage dinner plates here
Similar autumn scarf here
Similar gold glasses here
Great vintage rocks glasses here and here
Other items are vintage

Friday, October 17, 2014

Vintage Champagne Flutes

So often I come across gorgeous glassware just gathering dust on the shelves at my local thrift stores. Stemware in so many different shapes and sizes yet the majority don't necessarily relate to our entertaining needs today. I usually bypass them for the more practical and relatable ~ until the other day when these etched champagne flutes stole my heart.
The moment I saw them I knew they could be for so much more than raising a glass of the old bubbly. Brunch time mimosa's or filled with the perfect parfait; this set not only offers charm, but versatility as well.

Vintage set of 4 etched champagne flutes available here

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Campfire Frittata

What impacts a meal more ~ the aesthetics and surroundings it is served in or the food itself? I think there is good argument for both. Some of the most amazing things I have ever eaten were all on the beach. Ham and cheese sandwiches on fresh kaiser rolls were never as  magical as they were after I had been begrudgingly pulled from the water for lunch. The same sandwich eaten at home paled in comparison. I've never been much of a sweet tooth, but a frozen Milky Way bar purchased at the snack bar and devoured in the sand came pretty close to a religious experience for a child under 12. Growing up just minutes from the shore, there were hundreds of summer days where all three meals were served on the beach and everyone of them was remarkable. In fact, these memories are what led me to plan our dinner on the beach over the summer and again, a meal eaten next to the crashing surf resulted in pure magic.
The weekend we camped each family took responsibility for a meal to provide to the group. On the last morning of our trip, our friends Paul and Ann were in charge of breakfast. In a dutch oven over the fire they began to brown bacon and as it cooked added other odds and ends to that sizzling loveliness. Once everything had had a solid head start, they poured in an egg and cheese mixture and let it rise up to perfection. There were delicious edges crisped up from the fire and each bite seemed more incredible than the last. As we talked about our wonderful weekend on the ride home later that afternoon, that frittata was mentioned again. And again.
On our way home from the apple orchard I thought I would try my hand at recreating it. It was a chilly morning and we had left the house with bellies full of coffee which had worn off as fast as our caffeine buzz. While I browned half a pound of chopped bacon in an old cast iron skillet, I rummaged through the pantry and found a few russet potatoes that were begging to be used before their imminent departure to the compost bin. I cubed them up and added them to the bacon watching them brown up nicely in that bubbling bacon fat. I threw in some onion for good measure and gave it a minute or two before I poured in some eggs whisked with shredded cheddar cheese and let it just do it's thing. After a few minutes on the range top I popped it into the oven so the top would gain a nice light shade of brown.
I wasn't sure it would blow my mind the way the one eaten around a blazing fire while the early morning sun attempted to penetrate the dense woods with it's hazy rays did. Would it be as tasty as it was while we were all sitting around a weathered picnic table, wearing hooded sweatshirts and wool hats, hands clasped around mugs of steaming coffee for warmth?
It ended up providing equal satisfaction even without the incredible outdoorsy aesthetics. It was tasty and filling and made me wonder why I sometimes fuss over delicate omelets while the frittata is it's plain and practical sibling ~ the no nonsense one who doesn't require bells, whistles and tender loving care. The frittata also leaves in it's wake a legacy the omelet cannot. Leftovers. Which I warmed up in my office the following day for lunch. It was just as good as it was the day before and treated my senses to warm memories of that camping weekend. Let's just say it managed to make the Monday blues a little less painful. That in itself is a magical thing.