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Beauty, Pretty Things, Random Things, Yummy Things

Amazing Holiday Hostess Gifts

There’s nothing better than being with family and friends during the holidays. Attending parties, going to home gatherings and celebrating is what this time of year is all about. It’s also about giving. Showing up with a gift is a nice way to show appreciation to your hostess for being included in their Thanksgiving dinner or holiday party.  Below you’ll find some thoughtful and creative ideas.

Chalkboard Cheese Markers – $12.95
https://www.crateandbarrel.com/Chalkboard Cheese Markers

Beauty Chef Cookbook – $35
https://www.anthropologie.com/Beauty Chef Cookbook

Bath Bombs – $19.99
https://www.amazon.com/BathBombs

Caramel S’mores – $16
https://bondbars.com/Caramel S’mores

Hand Soap – $20
https://shop.beekman1802.com/Hand Soap

Geo Printed Dishcloths – $24
https://www.google.com/Geo Printed Dishcloths

Estate Collection candles and fragrance oil – $35 – $43
https://shop.lisaparigi.com/Estate Collection candles and fragrance oil

Monogrammed Mugs – $10 each
https://www.anthropologie.com/Monogrammed Mugs

Kitchen Towels (for the hostess with a sense of humor) – $5 each
https://www.etsy.com/Kitchen Towels

Honeycomb Vase – $32
https://www.anthropologie.com/Honeycomb Vase

Bottle Stopper – $16
https://www.anthropologie.com/Bottle Stopper

Fragrance Diffuser – $45
https://shop.nordstrom.com/Fragrance Diffuser

 

I hope this list provides you with ideas and inspiration for the perfect hostess gift. I’m ready to get this holiday season started. As my kids would say, let’s do this!

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

Beauty, Fashion, Pretty Things, Random Things

To a Tee

Back in the day, when I would go card shopping for birthdays and anniversaries at the neighborhood Hallmark Store, Walgreens or CVS, you’d find me in the greeting card aisles chuckling at all the funny cards. There were so many good ones to choose from. That was then and this is now. To be perfectly honest, it has become much harder to find really great cards than it is to find really great statement tees. Some of these tops are so hilarious they make you laugh at loud.  








The statement tee was a big fashion trend in 2016. Once again that trend is continuing through fall 2017. This past weekend I was browsing around the Malibu Country Mart. I saw quite a few adorable tees with very clever sayings. If you’ve ever watched the Chelsea Handler show on Netflix, I’m sure you’ve noticed that she loves a good statement tee and can rock it in a way that any streetstyle addict would be jealous of. She regularly pairs these tops with sleek pencil skirts and pumps, pulling off this look like a well-seasoned fashionista.


While following coverage of Hurricane Harvey this week, I’ve seen many Houstonians wearing statement t-shirts with the slogan, “HoustonStrong.” You can call this an ode to their beloved city as well as the state of Texas. Many shirt designs with this sentiment are selling online for a limited time with 100% of proceeds going to disaster relief efforts. Below are the links to some that have touched my heart.


https://www.highfashionhome.com/houstonstrong-tshirt.html

https://www.chipperthings.com/houston-strong-tee
https://www.theshopforward.com/texas-forever

What kind of statement tees do you have hanging in your closet? Take a selfie and share.

Smooch!

Xx Barbara

Beauty, Fashion, Pretty Things, Random Things

10 Lip Glosses Under $20

During these final days of summer, we can all agree on one thing when it comes to make-up. Lip gloss is that one beauty item that can light up any smile, any face, and any mood on any day no matter how hot it is outside. A swipe of gloss adds that little bit of sparkle and shine to brighten your look day or night. And since a girl can’t have just one, here’s a list of some great glosses to keep in your handbag or beauty bag all under $20.


Clinique Long Lost Glosswear – $16.50
http://www.neimanmarcus.com/CLINIQUE LONG LOSS Glosswear


Lancome Juicy Tubes Lip Gloss – $19.00
https://www.macys.com/LANCOME JUICY TUBES Lip Gloss

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss – $16
http://www.sephora.com/ANASTASIA Beverly Hills Lip Gloss


                   
MAC Lipglass – $17.00
https://www.macys.com/MAC Lipglass

Sephora Ultra Shine Lip Gel – $12.00
http://www.sephora.com/SEPHORA ULTRA SHINE Lip Gel


Aveeda Nourish-mint Rehydrating Lip Gloss – $19
http://www.aveda.com/AVEEDA NOURISH-MINT REHYDRATING Lip Gloss

                                                      
Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie Lip Gloss – $10
http://www.bareminerals.com/BARE MINERALS MARVELOUS MOXIE Lip Gloss

                                 
Jouer Skinny Dip Long-Wear Lip Gloss -$16
http://shop.nordstrom.com/JOUER SKINNY DIP LONG-WEAR Lip Gloss

                          
Sara Happ The Lip Slip One Luxe Sheer Lip Gloss – $18
http://shop.nordstrom.com/SARA HAPP THE LIP SLIP ONE LUXE SHEER Lip Gloss

                    
Two Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Peach Oil Lip Gloss – $19
http://www.sephora.com/TWO FACED SWEET PEACH CREAMY PEACH OIL Lip Gloss

I can’t wait to hear which brand you like best!!

Smooch!

xx Barbara

Beauty, Fashion, Pretty Things, Random Things, Yummy Things

Mother’s Day Gifts

Yes darling! The flowers are blooming and spring is in the air which means that it’s that Mother’s Day time of year again! We are amped and ready to celebrate all Moms…..our own Moms, our Grand-Moms, and all of you Mom’s-To-Be. Below is a list of gift suggestions for every Mom in your life.

1. LANDEAU BOUQUET OF ROSES – $179
https://www.givelandeau.com/BOUQUET-OF-ROSES
A luxurious yet simple twist on the classic gift. Landeau delivers bouquets of hand tied roses (25 is the new dozen) and delivers in LA, NYC and Vancouver

2. DYSON SUPERSONIC BLOWDRYER – $399.99


https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/DYSON-SUPERSONIC-BLOWDRYER
The “mother” of all hair dryers – sleek and lightweight, this hairdryer is truly top of the lineThe special edition version of Dyson’s iconic hair dryer is finished with a pale rose presentation box, felt lining and a magnetic clasp.

3. LEATHER IPHONE CASE WITH STRAP – $98

https://www.bandolierstyle.com/LEATHER IPHONE CASE WITH STRAP
This cross-body phone case is an everyday alternative to carrying a big handbag and the added plus is there’s a slot big enough for a credit card. 

4. COMMUTE CLUTCH $129

http://www.markandgraham.com/COMMUTE CLUTCH
This zippered clutch is designed for the tech-savvy mom on the go. It has plenty of pockets and places to stash cards, cords and cables. Perfect to drop in any tote!

5. HERMES TWILLY – $160

http://usa.hermes.com/TWILLY
This gift is a fabulous accessory that can be worn as a head scarf, tied around the neck, or even as a bracelet tied around your wrist. It can even be wrapped around the handles of a handbag for that added touch of cuteness!

6. POTTERY BARN BEADED SILVER-PLATED PICTURE FRAMES $20 – $48
(monogram available at an extra charge)


http://www.potterybarn.com/BEADED-SILVER-PLATED-FRAMES
This is a “go-to” gift that is perfect for any mom. These picture frames are even available with a monogram for that added touch of personalization! Don’t forget to include a favorite snapshot.

7. TAXI WALLET – $49

https://www.amazon.com/TAXI WALLET
The taxi wallet is great for an evening out or traveling. It holds coins,  8+ credit cards and there are two currency pockets for bills.

8.  THIN OPTICS – $19.95 – $29.95

http://thinoptics.com/ THIN OPTICS

These reading glasses are so small, thin, and lightweight they that they can go on a phone, in a pocket or in a wallet. Handy – to say the least.

9. ESTEE LAUDER PRESSED GOLD POWDER COMPACT – $42.50 Neiman Marcus

http://www.neimanmarcus.com/ESTEE LAUDER PRESSED GOLD POWDER COMPACT
This pretty gift makes a statement to the mom in your life. A beautiful little compact perfect for touch-ups or applying lip color and small enough to fit in an evening bag.

10. FLIP BELT $28.99 

https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/FLIP BELT
The perfect gift for the fit mom in your life – the FlipBelt is a tubular pocket that fits around the waist or hip to hold keys, credit cards, phone or whatever else she needs. Everything gets locked into place when you flip the belt inside out and it comes in a variety of colors.

11. OLLO CLIP IPHONE LENS – $99.99
https://www.olloclip.com/OLLO CLIP IPHONE LENS
This easy-to-use phone attachment has 3 interchangeable lenses: Fisheye, Super-Wide and Macro 15X zoom. These lenses are going to revolutionize your mom’s selfie game!

12. BEES KNEES HONEY TRIO – $39.99

https://bushwickkitchen.com/BEES KNEES HONEY TRIO
A flavorful trio of honey is gluten-free and paleo friendly for that honey of yours who enjoys her time in the kitchen or her evening cup of tea.

13. POLAROID ZIP INSTANT PHOTO PRINTER – $129.99

https://www.amazon.com/POLAIROID-ZIP
This portable pocket-sized device pairs wirelessly to any smartphone or tablet and uses a dedicated app available for IOS or Android users. It allows you to print your pics from just about anywhere on 2” X 3” smudge-proof paper. Perfect for any “photo – op” moment.

14. PERSONALIZED NAME NECKLACES $250 – $1,396

http://www.markandgraham.com/PERSONALIZED NAME NECKLACES
This necklace tells a story – and can be personalized with one, two or three different names in a beautiful calligraphy script. Perfect for any mom or “grand” mom.

 

Hope you have a fabulous day celebrating Mom (or being celebrated)!

 

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

 

Beauty, Pretty Things, Random Things

APRIL SHOWERS

A few months ago I was at my niece’s bridal shower in Texas and believe it or not, there were 30 hostesses giving the luncheon (which means 30 names on the actual invitation!) It may sound difficult to co-host an event with 30 people, but once you learn a few tricks, it’s actually easier. I know for sure my Houston friends have this system of co-hosting down because they do it with perfection all the time.

When my son got engaged, I got many calls from friends sending love and congratulations. Soon after that initial phone call, many called back and asked to be put on “the list” to entertain. This is a tradition across the south and midwest. Our family and friends came together to make sure my son and his fiancee were “showered with love”. They offered to entertain by either hosting a bridal shower or an engagement party. Everyone wanted to host something to help create more room for love and celebration.

Over the years, I’ve co-hosted many of these celebrations for both family and friends and I’ve learned what makes an event memorable. Here are some of my favorite tips and ideas for a fun and flawless bridal shower.

Ask How Many?
Before you can begin to plan, It’s important to get an idea from the Bride, Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom how many guests they’d like to invite to the shower. Will this be the bride’s only shower or party or will there be a few? Determine how many hostesses will be giving the event. The answers to these questions will help you determine if it will be an intimate gathering or larger event.

Pick Your Venue
Once you determine the number of guests, the venue often falls into place quite naturally.  If it’s a smaller shower, one of the hostesses might offer her home while a larger guest list may require outsourcing to a restaurant. Once you’ve settled on the venue and size of your party, your group can then decide how to proceed.

Stick To A Budget
Most people usually have a budget when it comes to entertaining. It’s normally less expensive to entertain at home whether you cook, order in, or have the party catered. However, an at home event may become expensive if you need to rent chairs, tables, china and tablecloths. Restaurants have their own hidden expenses; many restaurants have a minimum guest requirement if you are requesting a private room. When researching restaurant options, be ahead of the game and ask questions to find out all additional costs they may charge for private events. If there are a lot of other hostesses sharing the costs of the event, having the shower at a restaurant might make sense and be cost-effective. Every scenario is different so do your research!

Delegation is everything
It’s the norm that one of the hostesses (usually a close friend of the bride or groom’s mother) takes charge of the event. She secures a date from the bride and sends out an initial email asking the other hostesses how they’d like to help and what they’d like to help with. People offer to do different jobs like ordering the invitations, addressing and stamping the envelopes, choosing centerpieces, buying the bridal gift and choosing the party favors. The different duties and jobs are divvied up amongst everyone. The hostesses split all expenses, and it works out beautifully.

 Know Your Bride
Every bride is unique and if you tailor the experience to her, it will be all the more meaningful. My daughter-in-law Jayme loves shoes and the color pink. For her bridal shower in Houston, the hostesses carried out that theme just for her. From the invitations to the cake, the flowers, the napkins and the party favors; everything was personalized and picked out just for Jayme!


Just Chip In
Sometimes the event is happening out of town and you can’t be there to organize or help with the nitty gritty. If this is the case, it’s ok to leave the specifics to the local hostesses. They will appreciate you “chipping in.”  When the tables are turned and the event is in your hometown, you can take more responsibility…it all evens out in the end!

Play Games
When you have a more intimate shower, games are a great way to break the ice between guests and a fun way to pass the time. A few personal favorites are wedding jeopardy or trivia, wedding bingo, and heads up. For instructions and even more ideas, check here. Pinterest is full of great ones and is my go-to for great bridal shower games.

Shower Gift For The Bride
The hostesses usually go in together and get a nice shower gift for the bride. Some ideas include pieces from her Bridal Registry like place settings of her everyday china, pots and pans that she registered for or a special kitchen appliance that she’s been wanting.

Hostess Gift
It’s also customary for the bride to give a hostess gift to each person hosting the shower or luncheon. Some examples of this are a personalized memo pad or stationery, monogrammed napkins or gift enclosure cards, a beautiful candle, or an accessory for entertaining like a set of appetizer spreaders.

Click here Barbara’s Bridal List to download my personal checklist for a flawless event.

 

Beauty, Fashion, Pretty Things, Random Things

8 Pairs of Shoes That Every Woman Needs In Her Closet

Everyone who knows me well knows that I’m a shoe lover and I’m always searching for the perfect pair of shoes that have the two C’s. They must be Cute and they must be Comfortable, and when I can score on both of these, I truly feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.

The right pair of shoes can make or break your whole day. Shoes can make you feel great when they pull your outfit together, or they can make you miserable forcing you to limp around town in pain. It’s not until we actually wear a new pair of shoes that we realize whether the shoes are a big hit or a big mistake. I’m sure we’re all guilty of buying a pair for a special event that are perfect for that special outfit, but by the end of the night you just want to chuck them in the garbage because your feet are killing you.

Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that there are 8 “must have” styles that every gal needs in her closet. Once you find the right pair of each – both cute and comfortable – you’ll never need to shop for shoes again, but don’t let that stop you!

A feminine and classic pair of black pumps are a must for everyone. This is the LBD of shoes.  They are perfect to dress up jeans and a blazer and are chic enough to wear with almost any dress. Make sure to seek out a comfortable pair with a heel that is not too high to wear during the day, but high enough to wear out on the town at night. If you want to splurge on the ultimate classic black pump, you can’t go wrong with the Manolo Blahnik BB, the Jimmy Choo Romy and the Stuart Weitzman Nouveau. Kate Spade, J. Crew and Aldo make some great-looking shoes on the affordable side as well.

A great-looking pair of ballet flats can make the most casual pair of cropped jeans and  oversized men’s button down shirt look incredibly chic. Flats are a practical shoe for traveling and daytime wear. J.Crew, Chanel and Chloe all make great pairs and you will find a range of styles, colors, and prices. Repetto, an actual ballet company, also makes a good looking flat.

Sneakers are not so much a “want” purchase as they are a “NEED” purchase. Everyone needs at least one pair of comfortable and classic sneakers. If you seek out a fashionable pair, they can take you beyond your morning workout as well.  My favorite sneakers for a real workout are Asics. Then I have a more fashionable pair for those days I’m feeling “feh” or have a million things to get done. Nike, Adidas, Converse and Superga all make good looking shoes that won’t break the bank, while at the same time there are many brands of designer sneakers in upscale retail stores that are incredibly pricey.

Wedges are the most comfortable heels you can buy. They are the perfect pair to keep you looking great and feeling tall, or tall-er. If you’re a fan of the classic style, you’re in for a treat with a pair of Stuart Weitzman’s but other brands that offer great options are Jimmy Choo, Prada and Dolce Vita.

Flat sandals are a summer favorite when it’s hot outside and your feet just want to be bare. There is a huge variety of styles and colors to choose from, and it’s always fun to pick out a trendy pair when the weather warms up in spring. Some go-to brands for comfortable and stylish sandals are Birkenstock (most of them slides with the buckled double strap), Manolo Blahnik, Sam Edelman and Bandolino.

Heeled sandals can be worn day or night and (in California at least) they are not simply just for summer. The right heeled sandal can take you from casual to more formal occasions depending on the style. Stuart Weitzman has some great styles as do Loeffler Randall, Jimmy Choo, Prada and Manolo Blahnik.

Chelsea Boots are a great option to a flat shoe especially if you want to wear socks. They’re classic and a little bit tomboyish but are “on point” when worn with a pair of jeans and a cashmere sweater. It’s actually my favorite accessory once the weather cools down. I would recommend checking out Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, Saint Laurent and Sam Edelman.

No matter if it’s open or closed toe, the heeled bootie is the perfect shoe for winter, spring or fall and a night on the town. Paired with skinny jeans and a chunky sweater or a sweater dress and tights, this boot is a dressier option than the Chelsea boot. Check out options from Chloe, Jimmy Choo, Gianvito Rossi and Rag and Bone. I’m a huge fan of the open toed Mason Margiella bootie; they’re Cute and Comfortable (the 2 C’s) and I can walk for miles in them and still be a happy camper.

What do you fashionistas think of this list? Did I miss a pair that you think should have made my list? What are your favorite shoes and why? Let me know in the comments.

Beauty, Pretty Things

FLOWER POWER

A beautiful bouquet is the perfect way to say ‘Thank you’, ‘Get well’, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you’. Cut flowers make us feel great, put a smile on our faces and help us celebrate special occasions. Flower lovers, rejoice! Valentine’s Day is your day and it’s almost upon us!

Flowers are among the most popular gifts given on Valentine’s Day. For every florist in the country, it’s their “make it” or “break it” time of year. Receiving a bouquet of flowers any time of year is joyful. But on this day, it means a bit more: it’s a traditional expression of love and romance.

Anyone receiving a beautiful flower bouquet knows that nothing ruins the joy of a beautiful fresh flower arrangement more, than having it wilt after only a couple of days. From the time a blossom is cut from the plant, the slow decline of the bloom begins. An important thing to be aware of: a flower’s purchase price doesn’t guarantee its lasting power. I’ve experienced this problem more than once, so I’ve become a little more picky when it comes to choosing cut flowers for my home or as a gift.

My go-to flower for my home is the Phaleonopsis Orchid plant because I can keep it alive for about 2 months depending upon the time of year. I also have good luck with the cut Dendrobium Orchids (orchid sprays). These last about 3 weeks, which for cut flowers, is a long time and they look beautiful in any kind of vase. My go-to color is white for all orchids and the thing that’s wonderful is these flowers work in both traditional and contemporary settings.

Roses are always a top choice for people and especially for Valentine’s Day but sad as it is, the longevity of cut roses is only 3 – 7 days. There are many varieties, sizes and colors to choose from and the fragrant roses – well they just speak for themselves.

The Peony is my favorite flower. Its blooming period is very short and, like the old saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Late spring is the best time of year to find peonies and luckily, peonies last about 2 weeks. If you live in LA, Trader Joe’s has an amazing selection of peonies when they’re in season at the best price. I like buying a bouquet of both blooms and buds so that after the blooming stems die, I still have the blossoming buds to enjoy.

Tips for keeping flowers alive:

  1. Trim the stem of all cut flowers at a 45 degree angle before you put them in a vase. Don’t use scissors. They can squish and damage the end of the stem which can prevent them from absorbing the water in the vase. Use a sharp knife instead. For flowers with thicker stems, use garden shears. Orchid stems need to be trimmed every day or every other day.
  2. When shopping for roses, squeeze the rose where the petals meet the stem. If it’s firm, the roses are fresh. If it’s soft, don’t buy them. The roses are old.
  3. Always use a clean vase that has been rinsed well and is free from chemicals. Change the water in the vase every day or every other day. Cool water is best. If you’re not willing to drink the water that’s in there, why would your flowers want to?
  4. Don’t put the vase of any flowers close to an A/C vent or near a window with direct sunlight. Indirect sunlight is best. Also, a room temperature of around 70 degrees is ideal for most flowers.
  5. The best way to water an orchid plant that is not in a pot is to put 3 ice cubes under the leaves once a week or when the plant is dry. If the orchid plant is in a pot with drainage holes at the bottom, running the plant under cool water for 15 seconds works well but make sure to avoid the core at the center of the plant. Also make sure to let all the water drain out before placing the pot back in the saucer.
  6. For orchid stems that have multiple blooms or buds, remove the dead ones to restore energy and growth back to the stem with the remaining flower.
  7. With all of the lily varieties, remove the pollen pods when the lilies begin to bloom to extend its life and to remove staining. Use paper towels or gloves when removing as the brown powder will stain your hands.

The next time you buy fresh flowers or get a beautiful Valentine’s Day bouquet from that very special person, feel the love, enjoy its beauty and rejoice in the fact that you know what it takes to have flower power.

 

Beauty, Pretty Things

The Nose Knows

A spritz here, a spray there and a little dab will do when it comes to perfume and cologne. Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and fragrances are one of the most popular gifts bought for sweethearts around the world. This bit of feminine charm is a great way to showcase your personality and style and can actually be your symbolic trait that people remember you by. In other words, the nose knows.

This past summer I traveled to London. One afternoon when I was browsing around at Harrod’s department store, I accidentally took the wrong set of elevators and wound up in the Salon de Parfum on the 6th floor. There were little perfume boutiques in the salon with exclusive brands that I had never heard of before. Some of these exclusive brands even displayed crystal vats of ancient perfume oils that were hundreds of years old.  It was totally unintentional but this wrong turn ended up being a sensory overload, a sweet smelling secret getaway and an educational experience all in one! The sales team explained to me the difference between perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette and cologne and also explained that fragrances are classified by the concentration of essence oils.

Here is a handy breakdown:

Perfume – between 15 – 25% perfume oil and between 85 – 75% alcohol/water

Eau de Parfum – between 8 – 15% perfume oil and between 92 – 85% alcohol/water

Eau de Toilette  – between 4 – 10% perfume oil and between 96 – 90% alcohol/water

Cologne – between 2 – 5% perfume oil and between 85 – 75% alcohol/water

The quality of the fragrance oils (not the concentrations) determine how strong and how long a fragrance is going to last. Because the formulations differ, an Eau de Parfum of a certain fragrance will not smell exactly like the Eau de Toilette version with the same name. Also, an eau de parfum and perfume will last longer than eau de cologne or eau de toilette. After all these years of wearing perfume, it was thrilling to learn something new about scent. Here are some other tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years:

  1. Rub Vaseline on your pulse points before spraying your perfume and the scent will last longer than if you spray it on dry skin. Your pulse points are behind your ears, on your neck, inside your wrist, inside your elbow and behind your knees.
  2. Don’t rub your wrists together after spraying your perfume. Your fragrance won’t last as long because the top notes disappear faster.
  3. Apply an unscented lotion before spraying on your fragrance. Oily skin retains fragrances longer.
  4. For a lighter scent, spray the fragrance into the air and walk through the mist. When  you don’t want the scent to be quite so strong, this will leave you with just a hint of fragrance evenly distributed around your body.
  5. Lightly spray some perfume on your hairbrush and brush your hair. Be careful though because too much can dry out your hair.
  6. Don’t store your perfume in the bathroom. The humidity will break down the perfume oils. Tip: Store it in your bedroom instead.
  7. After you spray the scent, wait until it dries before you get dressed. Otherwise, it will rub off when you put on your clothes.

If you choose to layer your perfumes just be careful not to layer more than 2 perfumes at a time. You don’t want people to smell you on the other side of town and remember, the nose knows.