While summer is not quite over yet, fall merchandise is upon us. The stores are switching from summer sale items to cashmere. It’s time to think about adding some accessories to your wardrobe–and I’m feeling a little sparkly today. It’s Friday…time to shine.
I’ve always loved clothes and fashion. Part of me never stopped playing dress up. I think it’s fun to shop for and coordinate outfits—and I look forward to waking up each morning and figuring out what I will wear. I’ve been revamping my wardrobe lately—particularly adding color (trying to stay away from black a little) and attempting to dress a little more classically as I’m growing older. Accessories have the ability to add that special “pizzazz” to an outfit and make you feel fabulous.
The beautiful thing about metallics, sequins, shimmer, and the like is that they act as neutrals and can go with anything. Whether you purchase one of these or buy a knock-off, a little sparkle can certainly liven up an outfit. Play with accessories—they can change your look instantly. To read more about accessories, visit two previous blog posts: Make Accessories Matter and 5 Accessories To Help Perk Up Your Wardrobe .
All day you’ve been thinking about this blog post and what you will write. It’s your birthday, and it’s tradition that you write something snarky about aging. Some people will tell you they love growing older–maturing, growing up, watching their kids grow, maybe even becoming grandparents. It’s a lovely thought—growing old(er) naturally—as if we actually have a say in holding on to youth and beating Father Time.
Aging is not fun.
So your birthday looms. It’s the big 5-0. You think about it for weeks. It practically consumes you. You notice every grey hair, ever extra mile you have to walk to shed .001 pounds, and each line on your face that you never remember seeing before.
“Fifty? It’s just a number,” people tell you.
“You look great for your age!” they say.
“But you can’t possibly be turning 50! No way!”
The year you were born.
The month and day.
You’re 50 today.
You do things to help quell the anxiety that starts to grow in your head, your chest, your limbs. You think things like, “Robert Downey Jr. looks pretty damn good for 50—he’s the biggest star in Hollywood!” He was also born in 1965. “Sarah Jessica Parker looks amazing at 50.” It’s true. Another 1965 birthday. JK Rowling? Unbelievably awesome. Brooke Shields? Ridiculously gorgeous and stunning. The two of them also Vintage 1965.
But they’re all celebrities, with lots o’ money, stylists, and surgeons.
What about the rest of us?
You do what you can to stay healthy, though it’s not always easy with a demanding job, demanding family life, and demanding other stuff. You try your hardest to stay current (who the heck is Shawn Mendes?), keep up with fashion, and shave your legs every day. You honestly do the best you can.
You won’t lie. Turning 40 was the worst. Mental breakdown and all that stuff.
Turning 50 is just, well, turning 50. You’re waiting for your AARP card to arrive in the mail so you can use it to your advantage for movie discounts and other such benefits.
You feel 36.
But you’re not.
Wait! Wait! Hold on a minute there, Missy! Haven’t these past 50 years been pretty darn good?
Yes. They have, you think. In fact, there have been way too many good things as opposed to bad things that have happened to you. Too many, in fact, to write in a single blog post. Suffice to say, you’ve had a good life so far. You have loved and lost. Been loved. Given love. Been madly in love. Tried different careers. Had babies. You know the score.
You look ahead into the future.
You can almost see it dancing, shining its light in front of you.
The reason you become sentimental about certain gifts is because the gifts were given to you by people you love.
Okay, wait. Rewind. First we have to go back in time.
I’m writing this post today because I just displayed some sentimental treasures that were given to me 18 years ago when my husband and I married. My friends hosted a bridal shower—a high tea—at a cute little place called Paradise in a Teacup.
What was so special about that afternoon was that each friend, cousin, and mom and mom-in-law-to-be gave me a teacup as a remembrance of the day. Today, I unboxed them, dusted them off, washed them, and redisplayed them in my cabinet. When I moved here two summers ago, I sort of just put things in places, and didn’t take the time to consider all my sentimental items and where I wanted them displayed. These teacups stand for love and friendship, and I want to showcase them properly.
One of the most sentimental things about receiving gifts when you marry or have a baby is remembering fondly who gave them to you. These teacups are from England, Ireland, Austria, the United States, and many other places. Each one has its own personality and each lady chose one she liked. I think each teacup reflects each of their personalities as well.
I hope my dearest friends—the ones who attended and planned that shower—take a peek at this post and find the teacup they gave me that day.
I noticed today is #WorldElephantDay, and that means lots of folks are celebrating this amazing animal. If you are a lover of elephants, did you know some of these amazing facts?
Elephants are the largest land animal in the world. They can live to be 70 years old. When we say you must have “thick skin” to plow through something, it doesn’t even compare to that of an elephant’s skin; elephants have skin over one inch thick! They have very bad eyesight, but an amazingly keen sense of smell. And, they are the only mammal that can’t jump!
If you’re obsessed with elephants like some people I know (ah em, The Faithful Elephant), then you might appreciate some of these great gifts you can give to that elephant lover friend of yours.
The iconic trench coat. Do you have one in your closet? Has it been dusted off? Is it still fashionable?
The rise of the trench coat’s popularity came after World War I, when it was developed as a lighter option to the heavier coats worn by British and French soldiers. Both Burberry and Aquascutum have claimed to have invented the overcoat frock, dating back to as early as the 1850s. However, it was Thomas Burberry who invented gabardine, and he was credited with creating a design for an Army officer’s raincoat back in 1901.
Women turned to wearing trench coats when iconic figures such as Kate Moss, Goldie Hawn, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Audrey Hepburn were photographed wearing the piece and turning it into a classic staple for one’s wardrobe. Given the various styles and material trench coats are made of today, women have a wide variety of choices that suit their body types, yet offer a sense of timeless style.
Here are some of my favorite trench coats on the market today. I still love my plaid trench I got years ago from BCBG—and I still wear it—though I am in the market for a solid color trench to round out my wardrobe.
Who doesn’t love Sunday brunch? Besides the delectable French toast, Ricotta pancakes, and fresh fruit, the best part about having brunch with friends and family is that it’s Mimosa Sunday—time for a little champagne and orange juice. It’s believed that Mimosas have been around since 1925 when it was first served at the Hotel Ritz Paris by Frank Meier.
Besides being very easy to make, Mimosas are colorful and add life to your table. Additionally, they can be garnished with fruits or herbs to dress them up. You can serve them in any style glass you would like, and that choice may depend upon the table setting itself.
Probably what I love best about Mimosas is that they are named after one of my favorite trees—the Mimosa tree—and it was the title of my first book Beneath the Mimosa Tree. When I was a little girl, we had a Mimosa tree in our backyard, and it was always my favorite tree, with its delicate leaves that curl up and sleep at night and its beautiful pink blossoms that give the tree its personality. In my novel, Michael and Annabelle, the two main characters, fall in love “beneath the mimosa tree.” I could have picked from an assortment of trees—Oak trees, Weeping Willows, Maple trees—but to me, Mimosa trees are the most romantic.
So add a little romance to your life today—perhaps with a Mimosa drink—and possibly with Michael and Annabelle as they discover whether forgiveness can be found after love has fallen apart. I think if they fell in love under a Mimosa, it might have a happy ending.
I’ve never been afraid to paint things, and I rather enjoy it. I’m not sure if it’s because I work my butt off during the school year and take time to write, but the mood that comes from painting is similar to that of sitting around relaxing. I find it to be a total stress reliever, and as a bonus, you get a great product at the end of it.
I’ve been wanting to chalk paint my dining room table since we moved into the house. This house has a lot of character and charm, and I didn’t like the way the dining room was feeling. Recently, we added a French door that will lead to the screened-in porch, and we are adding grills to the front window that will help lend some charm. Additionally, we’re going to do some more work to the kitchen which sits adjacent to it. We do not have a separate dining room; we have one dining area in the home, so we wanted it to have that French cottage feel to it. Therefore, after reviewing many videos on YouTube on how to chalk paint, talking to the woman in Annapolis who owns the store where I get the products, and talking to my contractors, I tackled this project. I got a little extra help from my parents today, as my dad came to help finish up the table.
Here’s how I did it for those of you who have asked:
Pick the colors you want. With Annie Sloan chalk paint, she has many different colors. There are local places that sell the paint. Those places are also helpful and will offer you guidance. They give you a “cheat sheet” on how to paint with it when you purchase. I got mine from The Red Dresser on Mayo Road in Edgewater off Rt. 2 (a little south of Annapolis).
I decided to use Paris Grey for the table. I cleaned the table first and let it dry completely. I used a mild soap and water.
I used the Annie Sloan brushes because they can get into difficult areas.
The paint can be applied to any surface wood; mine was finished with a sheen to it. It went on beautifully.
Chalk paint dries rather quickly. I applied a second coat about 30 minutes after the first coat. It also has little to no odor. BONUS! Also, it goes a long way. I used about half a can for the project.
When you touch it when it’s dry, it feels “chalky,” hence the name. It does not feel smooth. To get it smooth, move to the next IMPORTANT step.
When the second coat was dry, I sanded the whole table. THIS IS THE KEY TO USING CHALK PAINT. The sanding step is imperative. I used a 100-grade sander, and I sanded THE ENTIRE TABLE UNTIL IT WAS SMOOTH. Then, I went along the edges with the sander and distressed edges as if the table had been loving used for years. Go ahead and let yourself distress it. You can always repaint if you make a mistake. But this step is vital to the look and feel of the table.
After I was done sanding, I toweled off all the chalk dust. Make sure the table is clean and free from the dust before you move to the next step.
Annie Sloan chalk paint recommends the WAX that goes with it. The wax does leave you with a lovely finish. However, I have read many articles and blogs about the product, and the wax is not recommended for surfaces that could be hot, such as a dining table where hot plates may sit. This is because the wax could melt over time and could affect the look of your table.
I decided to go with polyurethane with an oil base. While the drying time in between coats can be 12-24 hours, I wanted a finished AND PROTECTIVE finish on the product. Despite the negative comments that the poly can turn yellow over time, I opted for this as my choice. A little yellowing sometimes adds to the look of a piece, and I won’t mind if my French-inspired table and chairs look a little worn and lived in. That’s the whole point of it.
Right now, my table is sitting in the dining room drying. Today, we sanded the first coat of poly, dusted it, and put another coat on top. This will sit for another 12-48 hours, and then we’ll apply the final coat. Then, one final time, we’ll go over the table with steel wool to make it really smooth. It is coming together beautifully.
The chairs, which are pictured, only have the first coat (one has a second coat) of chalk paint on it. I have not sanded the chairs or distressed them yet. But I will. By next week, I’ll show you the entire, completed project.
That’s how I did it. If you have any questions, feel free to post your comments and I’ll try to help answer them for you.
I read books. I write books. I decorate with books. (They say good design comes in threes!)
What is it about a well-decorated room filled with books? What is it about the written word displayed on shelves? Beautifully displayed books want to be admired and read. Beautifully displayed books harken you to peek inside and see what you can uncover. You know that feeling…that feeling of getting lost in a book, sinking your teeth into the characters and the plot, and longing for the novel to continue because you are enjoying it so much.
Our house has books in it. Books on fashion, baseball, business, travel, food, and communication. There are countless fictional books I’ve read and shared with friends and family. Books act as a connection between people—”Have you read At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen?” Books are meant to be written in and lent to others. There are living, breathing characters among those pages, and I enjoy giving them room to reside on our bookshelves.
I wrote a piece about a year ago on Decorating with Books with many great examples of rooms filled with books—all kinds of rooms, all styles of books, all different types of decorating.
Today, I’m sharing photos of my bookshelves, along with some absolutely stunning images of book shelves I’ve selected.
If these photographs don’t make you want to curl up with a book and read, I don’t know what will.
Here are some lovely bookshelves from other publications and blogs!
Tiffany’s: the world’s most glamorous jewelry store, thanks in part to Audrey Hepburn’s role as Holly in Truman Capote’s film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Holly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Holly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!
Tiffany’s is representative of what Holly believes happiness can be. For most romantics, receiving a gift in the little blue box—Tiffany’s own signature color, Tiffany Blue—is one of life’s lavish delights and wonderful indulgences. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of walking into that store on Fifth Avenue, you know it smells of elegance and extravagance while also showcasing simplistic grace. You can visit the numerous jewelry cases and take in all the sparkles—everything from engagement rings to elaborate necklaces—and it’s wonderful to dream for a few moments. But don’t despair: if you want something from Tiffany’s, there are lines under $500 that you can take home if your purse strings can’t accommodate more.
Tiffany’s also has a great collection of giftware, from baby gifts to wedding gifts, all gorgeous and able to come wrapped in that Tiffany blue box.
My husband recently gave me the Tiffany heart locket necklace, which I love and wear all the time. Years ago, we both bought matching watches from Tiffany’s, and he still wears his every day. I’ve been secretly wishing upon Elsa Peretti’s single diamond necklace above, something I think I’d like to add to my small collection of Tiffany jewelry.
Nevertheless, blue box or not, Audrey Hepburn had it right. Nothing bad could ever happen to you in Tiffany’s.
Below are some of my favorite “drool” pieces from Tiffany’s. What are your favorites?
I’ve always found that mixing elements of old with elements of new adds that personal touch to a home. Making your place feel like it’s yours gives it that warm and welcoming feeling. Whether you’re mixing old photographs with new photographs or old furniture with new furniture, the blending of elements is what makes your home uniquely yours. Mercury glass, also known as silvered glass, is one of those elements that can be incorporated into your decor: it just makes everything a little prettier, and stores like Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, Home Decorators, and Pier One all sell products featuring Mercury glass.
The candlesticks pictured above decorate the mantle in my home. I bought them at Home Goods. I love the elegance they add to my dining room (our fireplace is in the dining room), and when the candles are glowing, they become a focal point.
The first products made of Mercury glass came from England, and in 1855, America saw its first pieces of it.
Featured here are some photographs of Mercury glass, plus some ideas for decorating with it.
What is Flash Fiction? It’s telling a short story in a limited amount of words. Some call Flash Fiction a story in 300 words, 500 words, or under 1,000 words. There are varying degrees of word counts for this type of writing, and some Flash Fiction definitions include a word count of 1,500 words. In today’s case, I’ve told a little story in 646 words. Usually with Flash Fiction, there is a clear beginning, a middle, and a wrap up. I wrote this story a couple of years ago, and polished it up a bit. Sharing it again because it’s one of my favorites!
THE FORTUNE TELLER
“That boy loves you,” the old woman next door calls to me as she sees Nick peel away in his black BMW. She is sitting on her stoop in the 98 degree weather, her dyed red hair in old-fashioned rollers, her socks gathered at her heels in her slip-ons. The look on her face indicates that she wants me to engage in further conversation. We have been friendly since we’ve lived next to each other in the row homes of Baltimore, but have never had a long, in-depth conversation.
“He may, but he’s leaving,” I say.
“Probably for the best,” she replies.
I’ve lived beside this odd-looking woman for almost a year, and she pretty much keeps to herself. She knows nothing of my personal life. Her name’s Mable, and I’ve heard others on the block refer to her as “the palm reader,” though she has no official business. I don’t believe in fortune tellers and have never engaged in any sort of it.
“Come here,” she says. “I’ll show you.”
For curiosity’s sake, I walk down the steps from where I am, and climb the four steps to meet her on her stoop. I’m tempted to see what she knows, trying not to let the tears fall in front of her. Her appearance alone warrants concern; there seems to be a twitch in her eye, and she’s wearing more mascara than a runway model. It looks uneven and gloppy. Her coral-colored lipstick goes beyond the outlines of her lips. It is difficult to take her seriously.
She stretches out her hand and asks for my palm. I extend my hand and turn my palm over for her to see.
She examines it. “There is a lot of passion here,” she says, pointing to the line that runs from my wrist up across my palm in a curve ending at the base of my fingertips. “There’s a great deal of love for that boy.”
“However, you will not see him again after today,” she says.
I feel a lump build in my throat.
She continues to look at my hand. “You have a good career, but you’re not quite sure if you want to stay in it. You’re thinking of uprooting yourself and moving someplace far away.”
I get a little chill up my spine. I’ve had this particular thought on and off for the past month, and I’ve told no one. Not even Nick. Not my own parents, or my best friend, Ava.
She focuses on one particular line on my hand, tracing it with her fingertip for what feels like hours, studying it with concerned eyes. She looks puzzled.
“Interesting,” she says.
“What?” I ask, now confused.
“You will travel. You will go where you’ve considered going, and you will be happy.”
“Without Nick,” I say, more as a statement than a question.
“Yes,” she says. “There will be passion again, but only if you go.”
Nick and I have been together for a year. However, I can’t be with him long term, nor should we ever have been together. Nick is unhappily married. He lives apart from his wife, but they are not formally divorced. Nor are there any plans for them to be so. The passion with which Mable speaks is true; it currently exists, but it is a sick, twisted, unhealthy passion, and it has become the ruin of me.
Three weeks ago, I was offered an opportunity to work for my friend’s father’s business in Rome. I’ve always wanted to go abroad, and have seriously contemplated accepting it.
I scoff at the idea of leaving for a moment, and then I stop. She sees my face, and gives me a crooked, quirky smile.
Mable is offbeat, eccentric, ridiculously dressed, and the oddest person I’ve ever talked to, but something tells me to listen. Something makes me take her seriously.