Natural Born Traveler: Accessory Edition Monday, Nov 21 2011 

For better or for worse, I have accumulated a vast amount of experience with all modes of travel. Planes, trains, automobiles, international, domestic cross-country and puddle hoppers alike. With felines and solo trips. So I’ve decided to put my hard-won expertise to some good use and start a “Natural Born Traveler” series- tips, tricks and secrets for avoiding all the holiday travel hassle and getting to your destination in one piece…while looking fabulous of course!

First up: Accessories. We all know how much I capital-L LOVE accessories. However, there is one mode of stylish life where ex-cessories, as I call them in any other capacity, fall under the “less is more” file. That is when traveling.

 

Whether you’re taking to the skies, the rail or just hopping in your trusty four-wheeled friend to take you where you want to go this holiday season, it’s important to think about your accessories. We’ve already established how important it is to appear well-dressed and sophisticated during a voyage, but this is NOT the time to try out your newest bauble or highest heels.

 

Airport security is a total, utter nightmare. Without fail. Especially around the holidays and other busy travel times, it seems that TSA agents get surlier and ruder every day. Don’t give anyone any opportunity to hassle you about your hoop earrings getting caught in that adorable Hermes scarf- best to save anything too flashy or eye-catching for that fabulous party you’re jetting off to. Dangly earrings, anything too glitzy, a bevy of bangles clanging against each other or even anything too “serious” (I’m talking to you, 4 carat diamonds!) can draw unwanted attention. Not just the TSA guy showing extra attention to your lingerie in your carryon. Thieves, pickpockets and other evil sorts have a field day at airport security! Especially in this vulnerable, maybe even frazzled state of shoe-less panic, you do NOT want to be worried about your emerald necklace or Rolex watch sitting in one of those yucky, grey plastic bins.

Even once you’re on the plane (or train, if you’re smart enough to avoid subjecting yourself to the scrutiny of those metal detectors that always seem to freak out about your bra wire or belt buckle) accessories can slow you down. Gracefully throwing your stuffed-to-the-brim Longchamp or Louis Vuitton carryon suitcase into the tiny overhead compartment is stressful enough, without having to worry about snagging that lovely statement necklace on the way down. Always go for the bare minimum of costume jewelry or anything loose when you need to be on the go. Unless you could live without that fabulous silver cuff if it slips off when you fall asleep against the window, tuck it away in your packed luggage and wait until you arrive at your destination to show it off.


If you’re driving, there is nothing worse than getting a gorgeous, dangling charm bracelet caught in your clothes while you’re reaching down for your trusty Cappucino or Diet Cherry Coke to keep you awake. Just do yourself a favor for safety and peace of mind, and keep your hands and wrists totally clear. You can go crazy with the ear and neck adornments, as long as nothing interferes with your vision or ability to turn your head to check all those blind spots. This doesn’t mean dress like a total slob during long car rides- always dress as if you were going to meet someone you’d like to impress one day. Accessories can always be thrown on quickly to jazz up your black knit pants and comfortable sweater!

 

I always wear just the basics when traveling, to keep myself organized, together and efficient. Everyone wants to look stylish, so select maybe just one piece to keep you company during the long journey- a pair of stud earrings, if you don’t mind the post stabbing you when you try to sleep. I usually opt for just the rings I wear all day, every day (which are difficult enough to get off that I can rest assured they aren’t going anywhere) and a few little beaded bracelets that don’t carry enough metal to set off the metal detector, or with enough sparkle to blind my neighbor when the sunlight streams though the plexi-glass window. Costume jewely is great- but wear your lightest accessories (also a good idea to keep them on the cheap side) to ensure a smooth travel experience.

One accessory I can never have enough of when traveling? That would be my friend, the scarf. Whether you prefer Hermes, Burberry or a trusty old Pashmina, you can never go wrong with throwing an extra in your carry-on. They become pillows so your skin doesn’t touch the yucky window, they can keep you warm during a layover or an outside train stop, and they are so lightweight that if you desperately need to make your bulky bag slimmer (for stuffing purposes in aforementioned bin spaces) just slip out your scarf and throw it around your neck. Sometimes I even bring two or three- use it to protect anything super fragile in your carry-on to shelter it from blows of fellow passengers’ swinging satchels. I even wrap mine around my Louboutin dust bags, just for some added cushion.

 

One final warning about traveling with accessories and anything else valuable: never, EVER check something irreplaceable. I hate to say this, but my vast experience with checked luggage proves that you have to be willing to replace Every. Single. Thing. In that checked bag. So keep your beloved baubles and treasured trinkets out of sight, nestled at the bottom of your carry-on, and keep it within your sight at all times. Remember to act the part of First Class (even if you’re toughing it out in the middle seat in coach)- you are fabulous enough to be jetting off to somewhere, so count your blessings, and have a safe trip! Bon voyage, mes amis!

Hopefully these sounds bits of well-worn advice will  help keep you stylish, safe and smart en route. 

 

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of protocol411.com

second photo courtesy of askville.amazon.com

third photo courtesy of bauergriffinonline.co

fourth photo courtesy of thestylishconfessions.com

fifth photo courtesy of thefiercediaries.com

sixth photo courtesy of bluelinerny.com

seventh photo courtesy of travel-security-and-safety.com

Advertisements

Wait…There’s A Boy in My Bathroom Saturday, Nov 19 2011 

The first month and a bit of blissfully married life has flown by!

 

With spending a few days at the Cape, then heading up to New Hampshire for a “mini-moon”, getting a flat tire en route to said mini-moon, taking care of the two kitties, opening wedding presents (ok, that was super fun!), writing prompt and personalized thank-you notes to our wonderfully generous guests, dealing with insurance company about said car accident and adding me as “spouse” to coverage, filing marriage license, standing in line at Social Security office to change my name, then packing up both cars for the two-day drive to Charleston, finding a pet-friendly hotel, while keeping both pets still friendly, finding an apartment ASAP, dealing with the movers…..it was a bit hectic to say the least.

But it’s been wonderful. Through every moment of moving, money merging and “settling in”, we’ve been so excited and happy to finally have our new place and our new lives together. Setting up the closet was a bit dicey- a nice size walk-in, but we both have enough clothes and shoes to fill it completely on our own. Not kidding. But compromise is indeed the magic word of marriage, and we set up our little apartment just the way we like it.

 

The biggest adjustment to married life- and living together in a small apartment life- hasn’t been trading my nice, cushy hangers for the space-saving thin ones. (Every sweater-loving girl knows what a compromise that is!) It’s something I was able to sort of swerve around in the three-bedroom, three-bathroom, two-story Monterey townhouse.

Newslfash: Boys are messy. Meaning the bathroom is always messy. Sure, they’re messy in that they can stay in there for a good thirty minutes and not have that be a big deal-anyway, moving on- but they don’t hang up their towel, they leave their dirty socks right outside the shower, they don’t fix the floor rug when the edge lifts up, and they get toothpaste all over the nice clean, white sink.

It’s a bit weird to see a boy- albeit my adorable husband whom I’ve dated for over five years, and spent many a weekend sharing a tiny hotel bathroom with- but still, a boy nonetheless, standing at the sink in his Calvin Klein briefs brushing his teeth. With simply noooo disregard for where the toothpaste goes. And really, how hard is it to fold the French white “Le Bain” hand towel laid out beautifully on the sink after you dry your hands?

I know I take up lots of the counter and self-imposed shelf space. He’s only allotted a few centimeters in the medicine cabinet, and his toothbrush is his only product visible on the counter. I need my makeup, two shelves, plus my Jo Malone candle, pretty picture frame that matches our bathroom accessories, face moisturizers, cleansers, toners and masks, plus all my other beauty products under the sink. But girls need lots of products. I can’t help it! I know I spend more time in the bathroom- makeup, blow drying my hair, and I even take longer to wash my hair in the shower. But it’s his bathroom too. Don’t boys like a clean living space? Shouldn’t he care if the counter is wet? Doesn’t he like a dry, fluffy towel? Doesn’t the big blue blob of toothpaste bother him even a little??

 

Well, ladies, it’s been done for hundreds of years, so I guess this is the way it has to be. Married couples have been surviving the shared bathroom space- again, may I highlight the word compromise- for years, so I have hope for the future.

 

Any advice? What’s been the biggest compromise for sharing space with your boy toy?

 

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of azmovingco.com

second photo courtesy of mesnxp.com

third photo courtesy of babybathtowels.com

fourth photo courtesy of fotosearch.com

Comfort Color Thursday, Nov 17 2011 

 

The color of a stormy sky, of majestic elephants, of smooth granite countertops, and of course many beautiful and rare bird species. The word itself signals a sort of mid-ground area that is neither a deep black or a stark white, and the term has come to mean a “no man’s land” of decision making- more comfortable than staying in the boundaries, yes?

 

Grey is many things: the name of the most dramatic doctor on the ABC network, a neutral against which to balance many dark and light colors in your wardrobe, and arguably the universal signal of sweatshirt comfort.

 

It even has two spellings, for whichever comfort and mood you’re in. Grey could be for cuddling up in a deliciously warm fleece or the world’s softest sweatpants, and gray could indicate a chic, charcoal color for a yummy cable-knit sweater or a luxurious coat. You can wrap yourself in warmth and security for your own Grey Sky Morning. Grey is one of my favorite colors to own in my closet because it seems that no matter what the ensemble, grey signals comfort and warmth. Sure, grey tweed suits and separates aren’t the cuddliest of options, but a sharply tailored outfit for work appears just as impressive as grey as its navy, black and brown counterparts. And it just gives it that extra something.

A beautiful grey linen signals a relaxed yet sophisticated vibe of 1960’s glamour- how many grey suits does Roger Sterling wear on Mad Men?

 

Everyone has a favorite grey sweatshirt- either from college days or just to wear around the house on a cold night. The different shades of grey evoke different levels of emotion, comfort and style throughout your wardrobe. Grey provides the perfect canvas to let some bold accessories steal the spotlight. Here are some of my favorite looks in that effortless, ethereal grey.

Kate Winslet dazzled in a shimmering slate Yves St. Laurent, and the muted color showed off her gorgeous coloring and the icy $2.5 million Tiffany & Co bauble around her neck.

 

Angelina usually sticks with sweeping black or eye-catching emerald, but this dramatic grey Saint John knit dress was the perfect choice for a more muted, but equally elegant look, as she played the supportive wife in 2007 when everyone was talking about Brad’s film Babel.

But she is Angelina Jolie, after all, and was nominated herself, of course, for her role in A Mighty Heart, and she looked stunning all evening.

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge herself actually wears grey quite frequently. The ultimate style star has dazzled in varying shades of sleet on several occasions: the charcoal Kensington dress by Catherine Walker was perfect for a tree planting ceremony in Canada this past summer, and the stunningly simple, one-shoulder Jenny Packham stole the show a few days ago at the National Memorial Arboretum Appeal Dinner in London.

Winter is coming! Be sure to stock up for the colder nights by investing in some super cozy greys to keep you wrapped in warmth all winter long. What are some of your favorite shades of grey?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of picable.com

second photo courtesy of vanityfair.com

third photo courtesy of justjared.buzznet.com

fourth photo courtesy of fabsugar.com

Kate Middleton in Catherine Walker photo courtesy of cipulita.com

Kate Middleton in Jenny Packham photo courtesy of hollywoodlife.com

seventh photo courtesy of myfirstlittleplace.com

 

Omg, Natural Nails! Wednesday, Nov 16 2011 

Here is the follow up to my blog post a few days ago about my little nail identity crisis.

I did it!

I bid “adieu” to my acrylic nails and have embraced my natural nails for the first time in 8 years. When my new manicurist heard that, she was shocked to say the least. As we delved into the process of removing said acrylics from my nailbeds, we encountered quite the ordeal. Soaking in Acetone proved to just not work- Andy at Nail Perfection (I’ll miss you, friend!) must have super-glued these gel tips on! Ahh! I thought this would be an easy fix- I thought the hard part, the decision making, was over!

I was wrong. Thirty minutes later, I had no choice but to head to another nearby salon to drill off my acrylics. Madison at Simply Your Spa (thank you for putting up with my apparently never-ending high maintenance!) hated to send me away, but they simply did not carry the proper tools for removing artificial nail enhancements, and even though she was able to pry one off with some little torturous tool, the difficult process- and the pain to my sensitive nail nerves- proved too great. She said she had never seen damage like mine, and didn’t want to risk any sacrificing any more natural nailbeds in the process.  So I hopped over to a nearby Vietnamese salon that specialized in gel and acrylics, and insisted they remove my nails with drills and files only- even though the nice lady wanted to use clippers. I couldn’t bear the thought of my natural nail becoming even more damaged by that- so I sat for a good thirty minutes and endured the soak,file,soak,file,soak,file cycle.

Finally! They were off! I was surprisingly relieved- this sort of had began to feel like prepping for a surgery.

I triumphantly returned to Simply Your Spa, where they could not have been nicer and more accommodating in my trying “Nail Day” and promptly enjoyed a relaxing, natural manicure. Nail strengthener applied (and purchased for home use- I have a lot of strengthening to do!) and OPI’s “In the Spotlight Pink” administered. I felt much better- they looked clean, fresh, and natural. 

I returned home to show my clueless husband- I had been gone 4 hours longer than I had told him, but he was occupied by “Skyrim” so I was able to surprise him with my new, acrylic-free paws. I was bit weak(and my nails were still wet- quite the new phenomenon!) so I enjoyed a night off from dishes, opening drawers, or grasping much of anything.

I am SO happy with the finished product. I have a long way to do in the world of natural nail strength, but I can’t wait to experiment with new colors and treat my hands to some natural, non-damaging, relaxing manicures. I’m quite proud of myself.

Any suggestions for any great strengthening treatments or favorite nail polish colors? Feels like I’m entering a whole new world of beauty choices!

 

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of sparkle-and-grey.blogspot.com

second photo courtesy of nailpolish99.com

third photo courtesy of sophisticatededge.com

fourth photo courtesy of my iPhone (taken by happy husband)

fifth photo courtesy of collegefashion.net

 

A Good Cry Sunday, Nov 13 2011 

There are times when you just need a good cry. Be it PMS, an emotional day, or just a reason deep inside you that you can’t explain, sometimes the littlest moments are the ones that get the waterworks flowing.

When that moment hits us, we can turn to music, movies, old pictures or anything that warms you heart and has you reaching for the Kleenex. Next time you feel a good cry coming on (sometimes it just comes out of the blue, of course) don’t fight it- carve out some alone time, take some deep breaths and let the tears come. It can be good for your soul to cleanse any old feelings of sadness, guilt, frustration, anxiety-even happiness. Just release the emotion into the universe and let the thick tears roll down your cheeks in a beautiful, self-healing catharsis.

 

There are some old classic tearjerkers- Old Yeller (or Marley and Me, both achieve the same gut wrench), Armageddon, Stepmom, Field of Dreams (my dad even loses it at that one) and of course Titanic. I mean, seriously, he saved her. I lose it when Rose is on the lifeboat being lowered down and-cue the high, heartbreaking bagpipe music-and she looks up at Jack and the flare lights go off behind him, and he knows he’s not going to make it because of the evil Billy Zane character. Omg.

Wow, ok, sorry, had to wipe my eyes there.

 

Here are some of my own, modern favorite “good cry” triggers.

 

Good Cry TV Show: Grey’s Anatomy, “The Song Beneath the Song”

I believe Sara Ramirez deserved an Emmy for that formidable performance in one of TV’s most dramatic, emotional episodes. My absolute favorite scene that just totally makes me lose it? When McSteamy, the delicious Eric Dane, starts singing. You can hear the pain and angst in his voice- and then when Lexie, the angel-voiced Chyler Leigh has “eyes on Sloane”, and she finds him on the stairs and they sing together-ahhh!!!!! Cue the tears. The whole episode is so beautifully written and performed- shockingly beautiful voices grace those insanely talented actors. Grey’s sometimes gets a bit silly and overly melodramatic, but this episode is one of their shining, authentic moments. I bought this on iTunes, and often indulge with some Ben and Jerry’s by my side.

 

Good Cry Song: Darren Criss from Glee, cover of “Somewhere Only We Know”

This guy’s voice gives me chills. The goosebumps and lump in my throat contribute to the power of this heartbreakingly stunning rendition. He and Kurt are just too adorable together for words, and this is by far my favorite song from the entire series.

 

Good Cry Movie: The Notebook

So many moments to choose from, but how do you not burst into tears when elderly Allie has her moment of lucidity at the end, and Noah has to tell her it only lasted a few minutes last time? This is like ugly-cry-rip-your-heart-out-sobbing sad. Use your judgment with audience friends- this could be best reserved for your best friends for slumber parties with plenty of chocolate ice cream.

 

 

Crying is a healthy, authentic way of  feeling and expressing our most basic, human emotions. Everyone does it. People are paid millions of dollars to cry convincingly on cue. So don’t be embarrassed- just maybe don’t see Million Dollar Baby for a first date. Everyone will of course have their own emotional triggers, and their own favorites to settle in for a good cry. Grab some waterproof mascara and release the emotion. What are some of your favorite “good cry” moments?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of flickr.com

second photo (kleenex) courtesy of panikdesign.com

third photo (Titanic) courtesy of fanforum.com

fourth photo courtesy of fygreysanatomy.com

fifth photo courtesy of tvguide.com

sixth photo courtesy of fanpop.com

seventh photo courtesy of jennifer-too.com

Happy 11/11/11! Now, To Nail or Not to Nail Friday, Nov 11 2011 

Happy 11/11/11! To celebrate my first Veteran’s day as a Navy wife, today I’m writing about what really matters in life. Just kidding. But a serious “Thank you” to everyone who has served and is currently serving our country. Thoughts and prayers for a safe return are with friends and everyone overseas.

Now, for a beauty identity crisis….

Ok, so I have had acrylic and/or gel nails since the ninth grade. A very long story about semi-formals, proms, and other excuses along the way have led me to this place where I have no idea what my natural nails look like anymore. I’m sure they’re very weak and somewhat useless, and this has been part of my rationale defending the twice-monthly manicure appointments to maintain my ever-French manicure. The appointment itself was my own guilty pleasure-my “me” time. Sitting there, amidst the nail files, drills and polishes, felt as natural as brushing my teeth. I have had no need to ever question this frivolity, something I deemed a necessary part of my beauty regimen and existence.

Until now.

My new husband has recently informed me that he does not like them. Not a shock. I knew he didn’t love them and never pictured himself with someone who has fake nails (I mean, who else has fake nails constantly at 17?) But as our lives progressed, and my nail habit showed no sign of dissipating like my perm, I figured he just sort of accepted it. Like my addiction to high heels and Hershey almond kisses. Thankfully I had my nails recently done for this shot, taken moments after we became engaged this past December:) What if I had chipped polish?

But today, during an incident of chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-stuck-under-my-nails, he informed me that he actually disliked them. Not just the absence of liking them, but an active distaste. Okayyy.

I have to admit, my little world was sort of shattered. Something as silly as gel on the tips of my fingers caused my husband to like me less than the maximum amount. This really shook my confidence. I expressed my surprise reaction to him, and he informed me how unnatural he saw the notion of attaching plastic to your body(yes, hence, the term “artificial nails” I wasn’t going for natural!) I never went for the long, crazy, colorful nails- just tasteful, short, squared (or “squoval” if we are being technical) French nails with white tips. But apparently, it’s still too unnatural for him to understand.

So I have been seriously considering giving up the fake nails. I considered it once before, right before I moved to Paris for a few months. I was a bit wary of tracking down a nail salon in Paris to continue the look that I held so dear- but a French manicure shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish in France, right? So I stashed my Euros away for my monthly treat to the little salon, and indulged myself to my little slice of home, in a new but comfortingly familiar nail salon on the Left Bank.

With all that devotion to keeping my nails constantly French, what am I to do now? Try colors? That brings me to the issue of chipped nail polish. Hate it. Like an abnormal amount of loathing- makes me uncomfortable. Another one of my rationales for the expense of my artificial little friends- I’d be re-applying some sort of polish every few days to prevent the OCD twitch that draws my eye to the one area of imperfect polish.

I still haven’t made up my mind. I still haven’t found my new salon in Charleston yet. When I finally do go in for my first appointment, will I ask them how they do gel tips, or will I ask for a purge of all thing plastic and let my fingertips go au nautrel for the first time in eight years? Quite the manicure meltdown, yes?

I shall keep you updated as I continue on this new journey of self discovery and salon treatments. Thoughts?

Media Credits:

first photo of my engagement ring courtesy of my iPhone, December 20, 2010

second photo courtesy of timesofindia.indiatimes.com

third photo courtesy of smartnow.com

Return to Writing, Now a Newlywed Thursday, Nov 10 2011 

Hello friends and fellow Laduree lovers!

So, a lot has happened since the last time I wrote…September 14th WOW! So sorry for having fallen off the face of the Earth. What with moving back to Massachusetts for the wedding, planning the wedding, HAVING THE WEDDING, moving to Charleston with the new hubby, finding a new apartment for our family and the 2 kitties, settling in, etc…it’s been quite hectic. I’ve loved every minute of it- especially the wedding! Expect lots of posts in the future to focus around aforementioned perfect event.

Not everything in the past two months has been so fantastical- I promise, I will delve into the tragic fate of Paris’ own Laduree (and it’s ironic role in my wedding!)

I’m very excited to get back into the writing world and re-connect with all my wonderful readers and “blogger friends”:)- thank you so much to everyone who has been so wonderfully supportive, encouraging and loving during this magical time in my life. No, the honeymoon is not over (we never even really had a real honeymoon- I’ll tell you about that too!) but it is time to let the smoke of our magnificent wedding sparkler departure disappear, and settle into real life. I couldn’t be more excited!!

Media Credits:

Since I can’t share my beautiful professionally taken photographs on here, these are some of my favorites from the camera of my dear friend and incredible bridesmaid Connie Dundon. (Don’t worry- the 2 people in the picture are the same- both my husband and I enjoyed one outfit change during the evening!)

 

Abientot!!

 

Bisous xx