Friday, November 29, 2013

12 Best Black Friday Sales

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their families and/or friends. We sure did! We celebrated our very first Thanksgiving with baby Lily as a group of 12 over at my in-laws' home, we had such a nice time catching up with everyone. I made these fabulous roasted garlic mashed potatoes which were a huge hit and I can't wait to make them again. 

Today is a long awaited shopping day for many as well as the next few days. While we don't venture out by car on this busy day to scope out deals, I love to curl up with some hot apple cider and visit my favorite shops online. I hit the jackpot today with these 3 items from the 75% off Kate Spade Black Friday sale which ends tomorrow. I searched high and low for that Ooh La La bangle and it's been sold out for nearly a year as was the iPhone 4 case (because I'm not upgrading my phone anytime soon). I was over the moon to have found both. The bow coin purse was just the icing on top! My shopping budget was $100 and these lovelies including shipping and tax were all under that-yay! If you are in the market for a stylish new handbag, they have some amazing steals which end 11/30/13 at midnight EST.

I've compiled for you a list of the 12 Best Black Friday Deals on the web for all of you Classy Ladies!

Kate Spade- Up to 75% off several items, flat rate $5 shipping on any purchase. ~Ends: 11/30/13

GAP- Save 40% off your purchase using code: GAP40 ~Ends: 11/30/13

LOFT- 40% off everything using code: ENJOY ~Ends: 11/29/13

Ann Taylor-  Save 40% off entire purchasing using code: GET40 ~Ends: 11/30/13

Neiman Marcus-  Up to 40% off! Free shipping, free returns and free gift packaging! ~Ends: 11/30/13

J.Crew-  30% off entire purchase with code: HOLIDAY ~Ends: 11/30/13

Club Monaco- Save an extra 30% off already reduced items using code: THANKS30 ~Ends: 11/29/13

Nordstrom-  Save 25% off select brands

Tory Burch- Save 30% off orders over $300 + free shipping with code: HOLIDAY ~Ends: 11/30/13

Henri Bendel-  25% off your order of $100 and receive a $20 splurge card with every purchase. Enter code: TURKEY25  ~Ends: 12/01/13

C.Wonder-  30% off everything with code: GIFTS30 ~Ends: 11/30/13

Banana Republic-  40% off everything with code: BRGIVING ~Ends: 12/01/13

Thanks for Reading!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Create Something One of a Kind with Blurb Books

Over the years when trying to shop for a hard-to-buy for person, I've found that photo gifts seem to be a hit. Anything personalized, monogrammed or that reminds someone of really wonderful memories is a winner. Photo books have a way of telling a story, they make for a beautiful accent for anyone's coffee table also. Out of all of the companies I've come across, blurb seems to provide the most polished looking final product.

As the leading indie and self-publishing platform, Blurb has an entire online bookstore full of unique books by an incredible array of undiscovered, self-published authors, artists, and photographers. And while these books probably aren’t in your recipient’s bookshelf, many of them should be. So, if you’re thinking of giving unique gifts this year, consider these titles below. Each costs around $40 USD or less:

Cookie Cravings by Maria Lichty and Heidi Larsen
We all have cookie cravings. Popular food blogger Maria Lichter decided to put them into something deliciously original: A baking book featuring 30 recipes you won’t find anywhere else.

Dog by My Side by Adam Schnitzer
This charming collection of original, vintage photos shows us that as long as there have been cameras, we’ve wanted to photograph our canine best friends. As a special bonus, there’s a glossary of the early photographic methods used in the original images. 

Food Stories by Elena Scott
A short, wonderfully illustrated collection of recipes (and food stories) that will inspire you to pick up the knife and spatula—or just pen and paper. 

Things I Love by Carol Nehls and Jessica Rose
Illustrated and written many years apart by a mother and daughter, this sweet rhyming story told by a fox is pure joy for all ages.

Patent Pending by Jordan Natyshen
Chicken goggles, air-conditioned rocking chairs, monkey jockeys for greyhounds… humankind has invented and sought to patent some amazing and crazy things. Illustrator Jordan Natyshen illustrates some of the strangest in this history of odd inventions. 

Tiny Horses are Everywhere by Thea Lux
The perfect stocking-stuffer for fans of off-beat humor, this undeniably nutty book is based on a Tumblr blog and combines simple photo collages of small horses in human environments with incredibly funny captions.

Rouleaux by Anastassia Elias
What can you do with an empty roll of toilet paper? If you’re French artist Anastassia Elias, you create tiny dioramas inside of the discarded tubes. Inspired by art and movies, these pieces are beautifully crafted, fun, and unbelievably detailed. 

Low Fidelity by Bobby Grossman
If you, or someone you love, listened to New York punk and new wave in the 70s, chances are your favorite artist can be found in this book. Bobby Grossman photographed Iggy Pop, David Byrne, The Ramones, Debbie Harry, Andy Warhol and many more. This book is a time capsule of—and a love letter to—a legendary time, place, and sound.

These pre-made custom books aren't your only option of course, you can  use your own photos to tell a wonderful story such as a recent family vacation, your wedding day or even sharing how much your kids have grown over the year. If you order a few printed books with all your recent fancy Thanksgiving pictures, you can have them in time for Christmas! 
Blurb even allows you to use your Facebook and Instagram pictures to help build up your books, which is bonus in my opinion! 

25% off $50 or moreTake 25% off any book order when you spend $50 or more. Just use code 25OFF50 at checkout between Dec.20-24th.

Thanks for Reading!


*image sources: (1), (2) and (3)

**This is a sponsored post however all opinions and thoughts are my own.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I Love You Infinity Times Infinity

Every year around this time (and sometimes a few months earlier if I'm really organized) I begin making a list and thinking about what I want to either make or purchase for each person on my Christmas gift list. I'm a big believer in sticking to a budget so I write out the names of each recipient and break down the value of their total gifts based on what I have to work with that particular year. Then, I decide if I'm going to get one larger gift or a few smaller gifts and write some ideas that come to mind for each person based on their needs, wants and what they like. My favorite gifts to give are those that are meaningful and will be used or enjoyed over and over again.

Certain people are harder to shop for than others but when it comes to the important ladies in your life, such as your mom, sister, best friend or daughter, I don't know of a single woman who doesn't appreciate a quality piece of jewelry in a timeless design. :) Jewelry is something that I personally get excited to receive. Most people will buy themselves clothes, fashion jewelry, perfume and other accessories but hesitate when it comes to buying fine jewelry as they typically can't justify spending on themselves in this manner, so a gift like this is always a winner!

Helzberg Diamonds recently contacted me to share their newest INFINITY X INFINITY jewelry collection with me since they know I enjoy curating classy holiday gift guides, and I'm so glad they did! I've long been a fan of the infinity symbol on jewelry and it has become increasingly more popular over the last couple years making for a beautiful and meaningful gift for a variety of occasions. What's neat is that this exclusive collection was inspired by ABCs hit tv series "Revenge" and lead character Emily Thorne and her father's mantra, "I love you infinity times infinity." Do any of you watch the show? These pieces are the perfect way to celebrate your infinite love and make someone special sparkle this holiday season and for years to come!

Created by award-winning jewelry designer Udi Behr, the collection emphasizes the double infinity insignia, symbolizing infinite love, and, with an elegant collection starting from just $49.99, it offers the perfect gift on any budget this holiday season. There are 44 infinity jewelry designs in all, including bracelets as well as rings. How gorgeous are these diamond-encrusted sparklers below? This necklace and earring set are my favorites of their entire collection-they are stunning and so versatile.

Here are their Top 3 Best Sellers of the INFINITY X INFINITY collection which are each under $100.

For more great gift ideas or to learn more about Helzberg Diamonds, you can follow them here:

Twitter  //  Facebook  //  Pinterest  //  Instagram

Thanks for Reading!


*This was a sponsored post, however all opinions and thoughts are my own.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Design Inspiration: Craft Rooms & Office Spaces

For as long as I can remember I've dreamed of having a dedicated craft space. I envisioned large working surfaces, a gift wrapping area, a dedicated table for my sewing machine, well organized bins and a closet to match. Every Christmas Eve as I sit on the floor in our family room or at the kitchen table surrounded by wrapping paper, bows, tags and gifts, I think how much fun it would be to have a wrapping area (not to mention private) so those you purchase gifts for won't see what you got them. I would sometimes take to my previous shared guest bedroom/office space but that has since been cleared out and overtaken by a certain newborn and all of her belongings. ;)

A month before she arrived I set up a very tiny area in our den with a secretary desk and my existing office chair where a bookshelf used to reside, to have as my own working area. Since most of my office stuff is still in plastic totes and the majority of what I'm doing these days (apart from caring for baby) only requires my laptop, I tend to work mostly at the kitchen table in front of our large picture window, but it hasn't stopped me from dreaming once again and brainstorming potential areas where I can create a shared office/craft space. I've been pinning some images for a future home with larger space and came across ideas for shared office/craft spaces of varying sizes. I know I'm not the only one who craves a dedicated crafting space. So, if you have one and are currently wondering how to lay it out to maximize its function, decorate it or are simply in the dreaming stage like I am, I thought I'd share some of my favorite photos as I did recently with gallery wall inspiration which is currently a work in progress for a large wall in our living room.

For those who love a soft & elegant work space. This is gorgeous!

Bold colors are a must in a craft space! They speak to creativity.

Large shared laundry room + craft/office space. Lots of storage is a must!

Simple & Refined. A single accent wall adds so much to a room.

A closet-turned-office/craft space. Close the doors when you're done for the day.

Crafting/Gift Wrapping room

Beautiful wallpaper, a sleek chair and a soft curtain transform a small closet.

Why not remove the closet doors entirely and create built-ins?

A small, narrow room with pretty accents hues create the perfect woman cave.

Simple & Clean. If you only have a corner or part of the guest room.

Classic black + white with pops of color via accessories & a whole lot of storage boxes

All in one centers can assume a bedroom, hall or portion of a living room/family room.

A do-it-all space for drafting, painting, sewing, crafting, gift wrapping, gardening and more.
 This layout offers it all. A little bit of inspiration from the home projects page at Rona.

Do you have a dedicated craft space or a room that would serve as one? What is your favorite thing to do in your special space?

Thanks for Reading!


image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 789, 10, 11, 12, 13

*This was a sponsored post however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What Not To Do at a Restaurant Table

Today's post was inspired by a friend's Facebook status update that I read last night regarding her dinner out with her hubby. It went a little something like this.... " L and I are at a restaurant having dinner and this well dressed couple comes in and sits at a booth across from us. The lady pulls out a brush and proceeds to brush her hair at the table-what??!

I think this is proof that being well dressed and even possessing a wealth of money cannot buy you class. It is also evidence that most of us still have areas to improve upon it the manners and etiquette department. Some things just appear so innocent like swiping your lips with a wand of lip gloss to freshen up your color after a meal or in this case, grooming one's hair before dinner. Essentially, anything that resembles grooming activities that you would normally perform in your bathroom at home are off limits at a dinner table whether it be at a restaurant, dinner party or elsewhere.

This got me to thinking about all of those seemingly harmless things that so many do at tables all across the globe on a daily basis, offending others along the way. Some have become common place and seem less taboo such as having a cell phone on the table, however I think we can all agree it's still a no-no. Below is a short list of what not to do.

1. Picking teeth with a toothpick, business card corner or a fingernail- if you must use a toothpick, be sure to do so after the meal once you've left the table, preferably in the restroom. Your best bet is to carry a small roll of floss in your handbag and reach for it while you freshen up in the ladies room after a meal or mid-meal if you can feel a large piece of food or spice lodged between your teeth which could become a conversational distraction to you and others.

2. Lip gloss or Lipstick re-application is something that women seem to do in public in a variety of places but it's best avoided at the table as with all other personal grooming habits-take it to the ladies room. Some may argue that if they don't need to use liner, don't require a compact mirror and can do it in a flash that it's not a big deal. Please see tip #5 regarding the mystery of a lady.

3. Smoking is acceptable and welcomed at many cafes, restaurant patios and in some venues however this is a no-no at the table when others are eating and drinking. I assure you, nobody wants to look at an ash tray with cigarette butts and ashes on the table nor do they care to breathe in the toxic plume while they're enjoying the array of flavors before them. Even if everyone is finished their final course, it is still appropriate and most considerate to smoke outside away from company in a well ventilated area away from others coming and away from busy restaurant front entrance. If you happen to smoke, read more tips on the post I wrote about smoking etiquette.

4. Nails and hands in general can carry a lot of germs. Never bite fingernails, pick at them, file them and absolutely under no circumstances would you apply nail polish to them at the table. If you need to file a chipped or torn nail, the restroom once again is the place to be.

5. Makeup application such as a quick powder of the nose or blotting paper should be done in private. Not only is it impolite at the table but it is not ladylike, a classy woman never gives away her beauty enhancement secrets at the table while in the company of other women or men.  There is a sense of mystery to beauty that is lost when we choose to reveal such details by putting them on display.

6. Chewing gum needs to be disposed of before sitting down to a meal. If you find yourself with gum in your mouth after you've sat down, be sure to excuse yourself to the restroom to remove it and wash your hands thereafter. Many will gently spit chewing gum into a napkin or take the wad of gum out of their mouth with their hands and put it into a napkin but that is not sanitary and nobody at the table wants those images before they eat.

7. Cell phones should remain off at the table. Some say vibrate mode is appropriate while dining but it will only trigger the person carrying it to look and see and possibly attempt to text or respond to the alert in some way. If it's a business lunch among colleagues and everyone agrees to the protocol, it is acceptable however others in the restaurant don't care to hear your phone conversations so in my mind even that's still off limits. The best bet in any environment, if you're going to take the time to 'do lunch' or enjoy a meal with others is to turn it off completely where you won't be tempted to become distracted and turn off those who you're dining with. There are of course exceptions to every rule as in the case of cell phone etiquette, for both parents who have left their children and in someone else's care or the husband/significant other of a woman who is expecting should set to vibrate.

8. Touching one's nose, blowing one's noses and even sneezing or coughing need to be done in private with a tissue in hand, the restroom again is the place to go to avoid spreading germs.

9. Passing wind in either form is completely forbidden at the table however I'm amazed at how many still do it, namely belching. In some culture's it's considered to be a compliment to the chef! While that may be fine in other countries, in North America it most certainly is not. It's disgusting to both those you are dining with and others who have to bear witness to it.

10. Hair brushing (which of course was the prompt for today's post) or even combing seems harmless but stray hairs can come out while primping and a restaurant is an environment where food is served to many, it is never appropriate to groom your hair or even re-position hair clips at the table where hair could end up on your own or another person's table or in their food.

Do you want more etiquette tips on dining out? Take a peek at some of my previous posts here:

Table Etiquette

Restaurant Tipping Etiquette

Where to Place Your Handbag When Dining Out

Reader Request: Is it Ever Okay to Take Food From Another Person's Plate?

Have you ever dined out and found yourself in the presence of someone doing something that should not be done at a restaurant table? Feel free to share it in the comments below, I'd love to hear your own experiences!

Thanks for Reading!


*image source
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