quick rec for a year-round glow

Attention all fellow pale-whities!  If you are like me, you've embraced the fact that you will never {naturally} have that Gisele-Bundchen-bronze glow, and that's okay.  Having said that, should you need to achieve a skin tone that won't cause passersby to shield their eyes, I recommend using this.
I discovered NIVEA Sun-Kissed Firming Moisturizer a couple years ago and haven't since strayed because it is the sh!t. Allow me to gush enlighten you NIVEA virgins:

  • Most importantly, it works
  • It smells yummy**
  • It doesn't streak or make your skin patchy
  • It doesn't rub off on clothing
  • Not only does it make you look subtly glowy right away, but it firms your skin, giving you a toned look
  • You can build on the depth of the tone, depending on how many days in a row you apply it
  • It's cheap
  • It's not only a self-tanner but a moisturizer as well
    The thing that got me thinking about sharing this product with you is my brother's impending nuptials, for which I am a bridesmaid.  The other maids fake-and-bake {no way, not this Virgo!}, so I would stick out like a bleached sore thumb.  I plan on getting in to a routine of applying it daily starting roughly two weeks before the big day, so at least I will feel like I tried.

    I should note that unfortunately there is no SPF in the moisturizer--its only drawback--so if you plan on using it, I strongly recommend getting on dee boat, dee Banana Boat, before lathering up.  That's all for now.  If you try it, let me know what you think!   

    **NIVEA smells good, unlike other self-tanners that make your skin smell like you were sprayed by a male cat, like that one company whose name begins with a J and ends in ergens.


    Easy {free!} cake topper - WEDding WEDnesday

    Isn't he cute? This was our final product, although it wasn't our original plan.

    I spent months rummaging through Google Images for pictures of campfire scenes, s'mores, tents pitched in the wilderness and so forth, gathering inspiration for designing a custom cake topper to represent one of our favorite pastimes: camping.  Everything I thought to do seemed so tacky, though.  I could only imagine two figures holding tiny branches roasting mallows over a fondant log fire looking too whimsical for our taste. {haha. taste. punny!}  It wasn't until after we met with our baker, the awesome Kristine of Babycakes Bakery, that I decided against the camping scene for the cake topper. Gabe and I told Kristine we wanted a mini cake on the top tier of our cupcake tower, so we would have our own special treat for the day as well as something to cut into at the reception for the traditional cutting-of-the-cake-and-smashing-it-in-your-newlywed-spouse's-face moment {read on for more on that moment}.  When it came to deciding on the flavor of our mini cake though, there was only one choice on which Gabe and I both agree: lemon meringue.  :::Drool:::  Kristine suggested covering the entire thing in stiff meringue peaks, something she had never done before, and for us to decide on a simple cake topper to complement {not compete with} the textural mini cake.  From a design standpoint, this made total sense to me, and was also the moment I scratched the mental picture of the roasting scene.   

    At that point I hadn't made any decisions, and in fact I didn't decide on what I was going to top our cake with until a couple of weeks before the big day.  Enter: Abby.  My dear friend with excellent style volunteered {along with other friends} to help my mom put on my bridal shower, and called dibs on the tablescapes.  And best of all, her gift to me was letting me keep all of the goodies from the centerpieces!      
     Gabe planted the purple flower plants in our front garden and they love us.

    I fell in love with the chubby blue birds that held photos of me and Gabe throughout the years, and thought one would be just perfect atop our little cake at the reception.  Gabe loved the idea and chose the picture that the birdie would hold--one of his favorites.  

    When it came time to cut into this beautiful scrumptious looking cake, we realized the restaurant forgot to provide us with a cake knife as promised.  Upon realizing this in a half-second, my Virgo problem-solving-mode kicked in to high gear.  I turned to our guests, who were all readying their cameras and shifting their weight to get a good view of our sweet moment, and asked {laughing}, "Does anyone have a butter knife we can borrow?"  The room burst into laughter and two people came at us quickly with the knives from their place-settings.  It was such a great moment, all the way through smearing meringuey goodness in one another's hair.  

    Good times.  And now the little chubby blue birdies sit on our fireplace mantel, holding some of our favorite photos.  

    Happy hump day!


    I don't get it.

    "Wine bottle holder" from Wisteria.  I am just baffled.  Those are empty bottles.  Empty.  Kinda depressing.  Plus, the stand costs $150 and holds 88 wine bottles.  You'd be missing out on like $4.50 in recycling profit!  Okay, so maybe you don't get a chunk of your paid CRV back when you recycle, but you could re-purpose the empty bottles.  The resources are ubiquitous in Blogland.  Here.  Here are a couple of ideas that make much more sense than turning the bottles upside down and displaying them on a spiny rack in your kitchen.

    DIY recycled wine bottle torches via re-nest

    DIY hanging vases via 100 Layer Cake

    Your husbands will thank you for choosing the torches.

    I wonder if Molly has seen this photo in the Wisteria catalog.  She'd probably have much funnier things to say about it.

    Yeah on the catwalk on the catwalk yeah

    I've got another fun site to share with you, almost as cool as H&M's virtual paper dolls I shared with you last month.  I just came across ASOS online fashion store thanks to Sofiie's references.  {Sofiie is my Swedish fashion adviser.  She just doesn't know it.}
    After spending a couple minutes changing the currency and browsing the SALE section, I clicked on a cute sweatshirt, surprised to find this!  See the link below the photo that reads, "VIEW CATWALK >>>>"?  Click it.  You can watch the model walk the catwalk in the garment!  This way, you get a good idea of how the garment fits, moves, and looks from every angle.  Brilliant!

    If you have a few minutes today, check out the store.  The prices don't seem all that bad.  Oh, and in full disclosure, there is music that plays when you watch the catwalk video, so make sure you have your volume turned up, or if you are in an office, make sure your boss is out of ear-shot.  Unless your boss is fashionable, then feel free to forward the link to him/her!  ;)

    And, I just noticed ASOS offers reclaimed vintage items, like the pants pictured below.  Pretty cool.  Pretty cool indeed.

    P.S. The styling of those lace-up booties with those pants is spot-on.


    Emily won!

    Emily won! Emily won! Emily won!

    WTF am I talking about, you ask? Emily Henderson won HGTV's Design Star! 
    The winner {Emily!} was revealed last night, although she has known for some time now.  Keeping a secret like that would surely Benjamin-Moore-White-Dove some of those pretty blonde hairs, but now it's out and she can stress no more talk all she wants about her win--which she does on her fabulous and witty blog: The Brass Petal!

    Her show, Secrets From A Stylist, airs this Sunday on HGTV @ 10/9c, so be sure and watch it!  Her concept is intriguing: taking your favorite pieces from your wardrobe, determining your style, and creating a space reflecting your style.  She is very mindful of every little detail, has a magnetic personality, and potentially could teach people a thing or two about their fashion in addition to their living spaces. 

    I am just so proud of her and although the competition is over, I continue to root for her in this new endeavor.  If my gushing hasn't yet convinced you to follow Emily, how bout I entice you with this little tidbit: she styled many-a-Domino photo shoot, including the August 2008 cover.  Yes, she is one of us. 
    Here are a few more photos from her design portfolio, all courtesy of HGTV.

      Design Star Glass House Challenge
    {I think Emily was reading my diary when she designed this space}

    Emily's apt in LA. Craspedias!

    Emily's apt in LA

    Recently I realized I don't post enough about my true passion, which is design.  I mean, ya'll probably don't even know how design-obsessed I am.  My comments can be found on just about every design blog, so I am definitely exposed to the design world daily, but I don't share enough with you this obsession.  And since I promised to inspire my readers, {in my personal manifesto} I will have to work on shifting my focus.  This may mean creating a new weekly installment, strictly to keep myself short-term-goal-oriented and keep my Virgo procrastination in line.  We'll see.  Back to Emily now.  Go read her blog, it's refreshing and inspiring, then watch for her on HGTV.  Methinks we are in for a delectable treat.


    When you have artists in the family...

    Today's WEDding WEDnesday post features some super cool art from our ceremony, made especially for us by Gabe's older brother, Cameron.  Cam is a master origami sculpturist, IMO, and has created everything from stars to balloon animal lamps (not their technical name).  We turned to him when we found our wedding site and decided the gazebo could benefit from adding some personal touches.  When searching on various wedding blogs, 100LayerCake, Green Wedding Shoes, snippet & ink, and the likes, I came across a photo of a couple at the altar, surrounded by Japanese origami cranes, and thought: hey, I know a dude that can do origami.  Just after saving that photo, I learned that a person who folds 1000 paper cranes will be granted a wish.  While that sounds awesome, I wasn't about to ask Cam to take on that big of a feat--I'd rather not have our new-sibling-relationship start out with him hating me if I could help it.  Instead, we asked him to create a few stars to hang around the gazebo to form a framed altar area, and he was so honored.  We gave him full creative license to use whatever colors he wanted, whatever materials, and whatever sizes to create these stars, and he totally delivered!  Check 'em out:

    We joked that he should slap a price tag on them after the ceremony so guests could purchase them right then and there.  But I ultimately pulled the greedy bride card and kept them for myself.  And now they hang over our dining room table!

    Being resourceful not only saved us money on say, traditional altar floral arrangements, but also showcased the talents of a family / wedding party member.  So proud.  

    Cam makes all kinds of cool origami sculptures, which are available for purchase, so I've posted his contact info below in case you are interested.  One year, he surprised each family member on Christmas with sculptures he made special for us--ours is a howling wolf lamp inspired by our howling husky, Bowie.

    In my experience, people are uber-flattered (why won't blogger let me put in umlauts?!) when you ask them to help make something for your wedding, so ask away!  It's a win-win. 


    A Virgo Vampire

    "Well I'm A Virgo. I like to be neat." -Eric Northman

    True Blood
    Season 3, Episode 9


    IKEA 2011 catalog: favorites

    Just picked up a copy of the IKEA 2011 catalog yesterday, and do you wanna know my favorite part(s)?
    No, it wasn't the new lower prices, inspiring rooms, or the new designers.

    My favorites were the spreads featuring the cute dads and their kids!  Goooood eye candy.  Thank you IKEA for your excellent taste in...style.

    Unfortunately, I cannot share photos from the catalog on my blog, but I can share with you the pages on which you will see for yourself these adorable spreads.


    Have a stylish weekend everyone!


    Thought I would need navigation to return to the blogosphere + WEDding WEDnesday

    Last week I was sick--random for this time of year--and had four birthdays back-to-back, plus a family wedding, which all add up to a pretty good excuse for being MIA in blogland, folks.  Weird how just a few days out of the loop can make me feel so out. of. the. loop.  However, I am back just in time to bring you another WEDding WEDnesday post, although this time I am changing it up.

    Ordinarily I share with you the wonderful DIY projects and pretty photos of great ideas that actually materialized for our wedding, but for this week I am shoving my ego aside and laying out for you the plans that did not work out so well--some so bad I am still suffering.  Intriguing, no?

    As a creative mind, I thought up a good billion ideas for my wedding day, some even before the ol' man proposed.
    ...Bouncy houses for all the children!
    ...Have our wedding turn in to an all-weekend tent-camp-out!
    ...$5000 Claire Pettibone dress!
    None of which {thankfully} happened.  And in order to help reign myself in throughout all the planning, I started a file to organize all these ideas, and many many more, in what I named "Didn't Make the Cut."  I named each file using the reason I decided against it, just as a reminder.  This helped.

    I shall begin with the worst.  What makes it the worst?  How about I'm still suffering the consequences of one seemingly harmless decision to this day, over a year after the fact.  This is also a {rare} case when my Virgo frugality and resourcefulness worked against me.  Here goes.  One of the perks of my job is having customers treat me to their product, and it so happens in this case, the product was two sixty-six pound sacks of milled rice {total: 132 lbs}.  At the time, I thought I had majorly scored!  I had no intention of eating it, but the creative juices were flowing for wedding projects.  Silly rabbit.

           Me & Megan.  So happy.  So naive.

    As you can see in the photo above, my plan was to fill mason jars with the rice and enough pens for each table at the reception for people to write notes to us on our comment cards.  Buddy Megan and I knocked out this project in a couple of hours, several months before the wedding, and I stored the prepared jars on my bar countertop.  Well, in the subsequent weeks, I was noticing a bit of a pest problem in our house.  Yet, it took me a {too long} while to figure out the source of this problem.  In fact, I didn't figure it out.  Hubby did.
    In our garage {or, ground zero} were the two giant sacks of rice, lying in wait to be used for my next project, infested with rice moths.  You've heard the expression, "breed like rabbits?"  Not even the same ballpark when compared to rice moths.  Luckily, we were fumigating one of my facilities at work, so I shared my huge household pest problem with my "fume guy," and asked his advice.  He sent me home with some pheromones and traps, and a number of terrifying images in my head.  He also told me to immediately dispose of every last kernel of rice, then go through every grain item in my pantry and either freeze the safe foods, or toss everything that showed signs of infestation.  Ewe ewe ewe.  Bye bye bulk organic cous cous, quinoa, rice, cereal, granola... And bye bye wedding-pen-holder-rice-jar-things, because when I popped the top on the cardboard box sitting on my countertop: the horror!  

    Even after following fume guy's instruction, after killing roughly three hundred moths, and after a year, moths are still mysteriously hatching and showing up in my kitchen.  But, back to the wedding.  Since the rice was trashed, we instead used much smaller glass jars we had been saving from our pantry and fridge, cleaning and removing the labels from the jars as they were emptied.  We saved our jars from common items in our house like capers, olives, jam, sun-dried tomatoes, mustard, etc.; and instead put the pens in them for the reception tables. 
     {source unknown, sorry}

    Another plan I had for the rice originally was to hold each guest's seating card, similar to the photo above.  Once we found the venue, though, this didn't really fit the aesthetics.  So instead, we made a poster using a photo of us taken at Disneyland, a frame from an old picture in our house, and my coworker's large scale printer.

    All in all it was a free project that turned out beautifully, and most importantly, no bugs. 

    The next few examples of projects or ideas that didn't pan out aren't as dramatic as the rice fiasco.  The first is kind of bittersweet.  My hubby was dead-set on growing all of the flowers for our wedding.  Sweet, huh?  He built a huge planter box and planted several varieties of wildflowers in the spring/early summer: sunflowers, ranunculus, dahlias, daisies, you name it. 

    {Side note: Our yard is landscaped now and doesn't look anything like these photos.}  For months we got all excited watching our plants sprout and bloom...then came the bugs.  We only used organic methods to try and repel the insects that attacked our wildflower box, but were ultimately powerless against the damn things.  The sunflowers made it, but they bloomed way before our wedding day, so we enjoyed them in vases around our home.  When the big day was rapidly approaching and our plants looked like this:

    ...we had to make the call on Plan B.  Enter: Auntie Cheri!  Gabe's aunt used to be a wholesale florist, and she still had her "card," so she volunteered to help us order and arrange our flowers from a local wholesaler with whom she used to do business.  What a life saver!  By that time I was reaching my breaking point with wedding projects, so Gabe quickly took the project over, and together, he and Auntie Cheri worked magic.

    They went over possible varieties that were in season, how to group the different varieties in an arrangement, and even had a few surprises up their sleeves that weren't revealed to me until the big day.  After visiting the wholesale florist and their {freezing} freezer of flowers, flowers were chosen, delivery was set, and prices negotiated.  I think we ended up paying less than $100 for all the flowers for our wedding day, including: bouquets, boutonnieres, tablescapes, etc.  I highly recommend going the wholesale route if you can, brides.
    My cousin Heather and my sister's boyfriend Tyrel jumped in to help Cheri, Gabe, and the groomsmen the morning of the big day arrange all of the flowers in their vases/jars/wine bottles, the bouquet for the bride toss, the bridesmaids' bouquets, and boutonnieres for the groomsmen.  Here comes the sweetest part:  Gabe picked out all the flowers and helped arrange my bride's bouquet, which Auntie Cheri told me minutes before the ceremony was an old tradition for the groom to do for his bride.  Swoon!  He used the trim from my gown that was removed during tailoring for wrapping around the base, and added my favorite flowers: craspedias and Gerbera daisies.  :)  He even found a way to still use the handful of flowers that survived the bugs in our planter box for our guests of honor's boutonnieres, grouping them with some rosemary branches from our garden and wrapping them in leftover hemp twine from previous wedding projects.  The man is a rockstar.  One would think he had Martha Stewart locked in a basement the way these mini bouquets turned out.

       Cousin Heather touching-up Gabe's boutonniere before the ceremony.

    My amazing bouquet and our 'first look' before the ceremony.

    Gabe's grandpa, step mom, and dad with their salvaged-wildflower-and-rosemary boutonnieres.

    In these cases, things turned out for the best.  We learned some valuable lessons along the way, and we had a fantastic support system to help us.  I've got more projects I could share, but I think this post is long enough already.  Perhaps I'll continue in an upcoming WW post.  Perhaps.  

    Happy hump day!  Check your pantry.  ;) 


    WEDding WEDnesday: giving thanks to our wedding party

    Never being a fan of the Things Remembered trinkets, I knew I wanted to gift our wedding party with personal items they would use.  One would think a bride would know her attendants very well, since she chose them to support and represent her in the, arguably, most important day of her life.  And, same goes for the groom and his attendants.

    Our wedding party consisted of mine and Gabe's best friends as our MOH and BM, respectively, along with all of our siblings: my two sisters and Gabe's sister, and Gabe's two brothers and my brother. 

    I spent months gathering each of their gifts, as they weren't all found in one place.  And I had a blast doing it, mostly because I was taking a break from making decisions for my wedding day, and shopping for others {Virgo}.  Gabe and I really enjoyed watching our attendants open their gifts at our rehearsal dinner, the night before the big day.  Also, I didn't want to leave out Gabe's young step sister who was not part of our wedding party, but whom we had asked to help greet and seat guests at the ceremony, so I gathered all the new and vintage blue embroidery thread I had and wrapped it up in a cute gift box--her favorite color is blue and she makes these awesome friendship-style bracelets with this kind of thread--and gave it to her to open at the dinner with everyone else.  She was so tickled, which made us really happy.

    Each groomsman received:
    2 bars of homemade beer soap
    1 vintage bow tie
    1 Crown Royal bag

    I found the beer soap on etsy, from a seller who makes them herself from several different brands of beer.  I custom selected each kind to give to each guy, wrapped the bars in a vintage silk bow tie {also carefully selected from a local thrift store Cheap Thrills, which they wore on our wedding day}, and packaged them in a Crown Royal bag.  And since my co-worker--who acted as our officiant--was watching over my shoulder as I purchased the soap and whined about how cool it was, I bought him a couple bars as well.  He told me a few weeks after our wedding that his teenage sons got a kick out of them! :)

    Each of my bridesmaids received:
    1 J.Crew tote
    1 vintage magazine from the month & year she was born

    The canvas and leather tote bags were luckily on final sale at my local second home J.Crew.  I wasn't shopping for them, but I saw a whole rack of the pink totes in the sale section while I was meeting with the tailor, and I couldn't resist.  I already owned this same tote in camel and use it as my everyday purse, so I knew the ladies would too appreciate how handy it is.  The magazines took the longest time to track down, as I had to find all of them on ebay.  I looked at local used bookstores and thrift shops, but did not have any luck.  Eventually, and all in good time before the rehearsal dinner, I found fashion mags from each gal's corresponding month/year.  The one shown above is a June 1989 issue of Cosmo, for my sister Hannah. Aaaand... Bonus!  My MOH is only a day younger than me, so her month/year Cosmo {September 1984} is mine as well, so I had a blast flipping through her's before I wrapped it up.  Note: there were several more cigarette ads back in the 80s in Cosmo.  And a helluva lot more text in the articles, in comparison to the 'gist' the writers give readers nowadays.

    Lastly, as a gift to our parents for helping us with all the wedding planning and for, well, giving us life, Gabe made rosemary {from our garden} and garlic infused olive oil, bottled in the small green S. Pellegrino glass bottles, with a neon orange pourer, and handed them out to each set of parents at our rehearsal dinner.  They were so cute, and all the parents loved them.
    Almost a year later, none of the guys have told me they have again worn their bow ties, but they did use up all the beer soap, so that's good news.  And the ladies all use their totes either for purses, overnight bags, beach bags, or shopping totes, which makes me extra super happy.  I love that we gave our wedding party gifts they could use and were happy to receive, because that truly means a lot to us.  Gifts should be meaningful.  Period. 

    I hope this has inspired at least one bride/groom to rethink the flask or shot glasses and instead dream up a more appropriate and special gift for her/his special attendants.  It will really mean a lot to your party that even though planning your wedding has you totally stressed, you still found the time to hand-pick a gift especially for them. 

    Peace and happy hump day!

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