under $100 and it's personal

Something I absolutely adore these days is from the website Valsey and Me. They sell sets of mini personalized soaps, which come in a variety of scents (my personal favorite being Milk, Almond, & Honey), colors, and boxes.  They don’t need to just be a gift (although they are an affordable and incredible one); I’m going to be buying a set for myself.

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biscotti bites

Some of my friends took me out for a pre-birthday dinner last night. I wanted to bring them some homemade treats, so I decided on something I like to call ‘biscotti bites.’ They are mini versions of biscotti with bittersweet and white chocolate chips inside, dipped in chocolate.  It was fun and fairly simple to make, and I must say, they were delicious.

going into the oven
last few minutes baking

Ingredients:

  •  1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips – for the mixture
  • 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips – for the mixture
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk chocolate chips – to dip
  • 1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips – to dip
  • 4 tablespoons of cold butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs – lightly beaten
melted chocolate
the finished product
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a food processor, combine sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt
  • Process for a few seconds
  • Add butter and vanilla, and process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal
  • Add chocolate chips (bittersweet and white – for the mixture) and eggs, and pulse until dough is evenly moistened
  • Divide dough into 4 equal pieces, and press onto pans (with parchment paper) as ‘flattened logs’
  • Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from oven and cut into diagonal pieces (however thin/thick you want your biscotti – I recommend fairly thin)
  • Turn all slices on sides and return to oven for 4-5 minutes
  • Take out, and turn slices on the opposite sides, and return to oven for another 4-5 minutes
  • Let cool
  • While cooling, put white and milk chocolate chips into a big bowl, cover, and heat in microwave between 4 and 5 minutes
  • While chocolate is heating, cut each piece of biscotti in half
  • Stir chocolate so it all combines together
  • Dip the ends of each ‘bite’ of biscotti into the chocolate
  • Place on a plate or pan lined with parchment paper
  • Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes
  • ENJOY
working on the goodie bags
(And if you’re giving them as gifts, as I did, you can place them in small plastic bags, tie with various colors of ribbon, add a little notecard with a hole punch, and it’s as easy as that)
off to my birthday dinner I go

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time for tea

I’ve had a thing for teapots forever.  Ever since I was a little girl my mom has collected them. There are probably 30 scattered about the top shelves in her kitchen.  I think they are such a cool little accessory. It’s an unexpected piece of ‘artwork.’ Most people think of teapots as solely something for making tea, but they are also a great collectible, a great gift, and adorable to have in your home.
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a portrait is worth a thousand words

I love a really great piece of artwork. Who doesn’t? I love even more portraits.  It’s a great addition to your own home or apartment, but also can be a really great gift. My favorite portrait artist is none other than JoEllen Cornrich.  She captures every last detail of the subject she paints. She doesn’t only paint people’s faces, but she does pets, as well. I was fortunate enough to have a little Q & A session with her.  Check out her answers below, some images of her work, and of course her website here: JoEllen Cornrich

 

From Prosecco to Plaid: Have you always been passionate about painting?
JoEllen Cornrich: As long as I can remember, I have always done art. The passion has always been present. It picks you…you don’t pick it! That is the driving force.

 
P to P: How did you decide you wanted to paint portraits?
JC: I  have trained and experimented in many aspects of art. My work is quite diverse and I enjoy working on multiple projects. However, I decided to focus on portraiture as my main business knowing that  it seemed to come naturally to me. Capturing a precise likeness defines the difference between good and great!
 
 
 
P to P: Besides painting, what are three of your other passions?
JC: I love everything in the arts! I have done ballet my entire life, I play the piano, and also enjoy culinary arts as well!
 
 
 
P to P: Is there anywhere else, besides through your website, where people can purchase your art?
JC: My work is purchased on a commission basis. I have exhibited at galleries and juried shows. I also partner with several pet stores for my pet portraits. I have studios in Cleveland and Chicago.
 
 
 
P to P: What are three things about yourself that no one would ever guess?
JC: Nobody would believe that I am really shy! I am a perfectionist. I like to have my alone time.
 
 
 
JC: I  started my portrait business over 10 years ago. I can not believe how many portraits I have completed. The gratification given as well as received has been immeasurable! I thank all the wonderful people and pets, past present and future for their support!
 
~
 
Many thanks to JoEllen for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for me.  Happy painting!
 
 
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navy and black: what a fine looking duo

I know wearing navy with black used to be frowned upon. It was a fashion faux paux if you paired the two together. However, that little myth should be completely disregarded. I think there are few things more chic than pairing navy and black together. It has a classic, elegant feel to it.  Whether it’s dresses, pants with blouses, jewelry, bags; in my mind, it all works.  If you don’t believe me, check out a few examples below that I think will change your mind almost instantly.

Let’s start with this fabulous Alice + Olivia dress from REVOLVE Clothing. It can be worn a variety of ways. Wear it out on the town with simple black patent shoes, a black alligator skin clutch, a leather motorcycle jacket, and a long silver chain necklace, or wear it to a cocktail party with stilettos, a beaded clutch, and some fancy jewels. The dress is sexy, yet adorable.

Now, how about this great clutch from Lauren Merkin. It could go with skinny jeans, ballet flats, and a cute blouse or with a cocktail dress for a ‘fancier’ look.
How about this great black and navy leather wrap bracelet from Chan Lu? It’s a perfect addition to any casual look.
And, finally, this amazing little scarf from Necklush. It can be worn a variety of ways and, as I’ve said before in scarves, scarves, and more scarves, these pieces just add a little extra something to any old ensemble.
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too pretty to unwrap

I know the holidays are over, but you never know when you’ll need to give a gift.  Giving a gift wrapped without thought is just not an option.  The outside of the gift is almost as important as the gift itself. Presentation is key. I’ve found some great gift wrap options that are worth the extra penny or two to make the gift look beautiful.

Paper Source – floral and fauna butterflies
Bags and Bows – flashback
Papyrus – paisley floral duo
Paper Mojo – marbled paper
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affordable and fabulous jewels

 

A girl can never have too much jewelry, and especially when it’s so reasonably priced and all over amazing.  Brooklyn Stars may just be one of my very favorite jewelry lines right now. The pieces have a downtown meets uptown feel.  They go perfectly with jeans and a tee but can also go with a dress and heels.  The necklaces and bracelets come in all colors, with all sorts of beads.  The prices can’t be beat and they look much more expensive than they actually are.  I was lucky enough to sit down with the designer of this incredible new line, and I got some insight into her designs, as well as her personal life…

From Prosecco to Plaid: How did you come up with the name ‘Brooklyn Stars’ for your jewelry line?
Brooklyn Stars: It comes from one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, Matt Pond PA. I also just love Brooklyn…I mean, who doesn’t.

 

P to P: What is your inspiration behind your designs/creations?
BS: Like the shop name, each piece is named after a band, a song or an album that has influenced me in one way or another.  In general though, I just wanted to make easy-to-wear, cool and (most importantly) affordable jewelry for the average girl.  Everything is under $25, with most things around $20.  I think the fact that they are handmade makes it a little unique, too.   My pieces can be worn alone or multiple ones layered which mixes it up a little.

 

 
P to P: How long have you been making/designing jewelry?

BS: Since high school…as soon as I realized I could make things myself instead of buying them for a ridiculously marked up price.

 

 
P to P: What is your ultimate passion?

BS: I just love to create things…I’m totally “artsy fartsy”  Whether jewelry, knitting, painting, random DIY projects around the apartment..if I’m crafting, I’ll be happy. I also love my kitties and my boyfriend.

 
P to P: What are 3 things about yourself that no one would expect to hear?

BS: 1. I hate onions but I LOVE french onion soup. 2. I’m a huge nerd (although people probably already knew this about me..). I just finished reading the 5th Game of Thrones book….yep. 3.  I only have ONE country song on my iTunes, but I’ve been listening to it on repeat! (Dirt Road Anthem by Jason Aldean)

 

Thank you to Shanna, the designer behind these incredible pieces, for answering some questions for us, and now I’m going to add to my cart full of Brooklyn Stars items!

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clothing to go buy now

I recently discovered a love for the fabulous line mason by Michelle Mason. I want everything! Seriously. And after browsing their collections you will, too.  The pieces are edgy, yet classic, yet structured, yet sexy, yet fun, yet PERFECTION. If you don’t think a clothing line can consist of all of these things, check it out for yourself and be pleasantly satisfied.

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Jul's Gems

As my first post in 2012, I’m going to start with what I will now be doing once a month. I will be writing a post titled Jul’s Gems.  These gems will consist of my favorite items at the moment, my must-haves, those things that are getting me extremely excited at the present time. I hope you all had fabulous endings to your 2011 and I hope 2012 is even more fantastic. And with that, my first edition of Jul’s Gems

1. Nars Roman Holiday – This is my lipstick obsession at the moment.  Now, I know sometimes when you hear lipstick you think ‘thick,’ ‘matte,’ ‘not as sexy as gloss,’ but not this one.  This is their sheer lipstick line, which goes on so smoothly, does not feel heavy on the lips, and it wears well all night long.  This color in particular is my favorite. It is the perfect shade of pink that adds a little extra something and brightens up any outfit.  I can’t get enough of this lipstick and if you think pink is just too much for you, with over 25 shades to choose from, you’re bound to find something you love. However, I do dare you to try pink.

2. Prada Candy Perfume – I usually don’t like to share my perfumes of the moment because I like to wear one that not everyone has, BUT I couldn’t resist sharing this one with you because it is the most incredible smelling perfume, and it would be a waste to not share it. A few months back I purchased Prada’s Candy perfume and I’m pretty sure this is one I’ll be wearing for a long long time. It includes my favorite ingredients of musk and vanilla (amongst many other delicious ones). If you’re in the market for a new perfume, take my word for it, and go buy this one. You’ll be extremely happy you did, as will those around you.

3. Belle Fleur Flowers – My new favorite place to get flowers delivered from for gifts is Belle Fleur in NYC.  Their flowers are unmatchable and so perfect for any occasion.  While they may be a bit pricier than you’re looking to spend when sending flowers, they are more than worth it, and your recipient will absolutely agree.  One of my favorites currently on their site is from their ‘Pure’ collection.

4. Pocket Watch Necklaces – Lately, I can’t stop looking at pocket watch necklaces (no, not the kind that actually work – just the kind that look so cute on anyone’s neck).  I think they are a perfect combination of a vintage, stylish look.  Either go raid your grandma’s jewelry drawer or go buy one of these: from ModClothSosie, or any vintage store.

Until next time for Jul’s Gems
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smell and feel amazing…

We were walking back to the ship today in St. Thomas, and I stumbled upon the cutest little store. A few minutes later and I found my new favorite hand cream. I could have bought almost any product in this store and it wouldn’t have been enough. One thing smelled better than the next.  Welcome to Laline, where you will find your new favorite bath and body products.

This company was started by two Israeli cousins and only more recently has it made its way into the US. There are very few stores, which I prefer, so it’s not something that can be found just anywhere and everywhere.  The islands recently started carrying the line, as well. From delicious smelling lotions, hand creams, shower gels, soaps and any bath and body product in between, for men, women, children, and babies – these products make the perfect gifts to give to others or to yourself. One of my purchases that I already can’t get enough of is their Vanilla Hand Cream. Enjoy!


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