A Tiffany Surprise

Last Tuesday Ian and I had a lovely Valentine’s Day complete with delicious salmon and chocolate-covered strawberries. We exchanged sweet gifts and just enjoyed a relaxing evening in.

So you can imagine my surprise when last Friday I received a few little blue boxes:

Bravo, Ian. I never saw it coming! He bought me a lovely set of rose gold and diamond jewelry which are the most breathtaking pieces I have ever seen. My first pieces of Tiffany jewelry and I can’t help but be incredibly impressed with the craftsmanship of each piece (and those lovely blue boxes).

Gentlemen, if you ever want to truly surprise a girl, give her a gift when she least expects it.

And for those of you who are still awaiting your first little blue box, I hope you receive yours very soon!

Ashley

Wardrobe Essentials: The Foundations

For the first five or six years of my bra-wearing-life, I wore the wrong bra size. I went to Victoria’s Secret and got a “fitting” (using that term loosely) and wore these little skimpy bras which gave no support and were too large in the ribcage, creating some lovely bulges on my back. Then one day I read an article online about the importance of getting a proper bra fitting by a professional (i.e. someone who does bras for their career). So I marched on down to Bloomingdale’s and found out I was not a 36D like I thought but a 32F (!) and discovered the beauty and support of a well-fitting bra.

Finding the proper “foundations” for your wardrobe can literally make everything you wear look more tailored and expensive. And you’ll feel absolutely fabulous.

The Essential Foundations

1. Several Well-fitting bras. One in each black and nude. It is also good to have a well-fitting sports bra (Lululemon’s Ta-ta Tamer is excellent for running) as well as a deep plunge bra for evening dresses. You don’t need to have twenty bras, just three well-fitting bras will serve you better. Just remember the golden rule for bras: replace them every three-to-six months since they get a lot of wear. I was taught to buy a ribcage size that is supportive on the largest clasp and too-tight on the smallest – that way as the bra stretches with wear, you can tighten the bra with the smaller clasps.

Favorite Bra Brands: Wacoal, Natori

2. Spanx. Some may disagree with me on this but I think having spanx for special occasions and tight skirts can be a god-send. Having smooth fitting clothing and a streamlined panty line will always be classy. Even if wiggling into spanx can be less than classy.

3. Camisoles. For layering, lounging around the house and for adding a little mystery to that low-cut evening gown.

4. Seamless underwear. I am a huge fan of the lacie thongs from Victoria’s Secret! If you haven’t tried them, do – they work fabulously even with my tightest pants.

5. Tights. I know colored tights are big right now but I tend to gravitate towards the classics. Good basics include nude, sheer black and solid black. I’ve tried expensive brands (DKNY) and cheap ones but my favorites right now are the Nordstrom brand. Does anyone know a good brand for tights? I’m always looking for value since I have to wear these so often to work.

What foundations do you use?

Ashley

100 Ways to Be Elegant

I found this FABULOUS post on ‘Live the Charmed Life’ on 100 Ways to  Be Elegant:

http://livethecharmedlife.com/2010/06/100-ways-to-be-elegant/

Elegance has long been a personal goal of mine and I would like to add to her list what I believe to be the hardest way to be elegant:

Choosing not to complain when you want to.

Honestly, I have a tendency to be a rather loud complainer. And a rather frequent one. I even once complained to Ian about a man who pushed me out-of-the-way to get in the revolving door entrance to our office. To get into the office. Doesn’t even make sense that he was rushing into the office… But while that man’s manners are regrettable, the fact that I burdened Ian with this story and got myself all flustered is even more regrettable.

Sometimes unburdening ourselves can be a heavy burden for others.

And so choosing not to complain has become one of my personal Lifevestments. I draw inspiration from my father who underwent countless chemo treatments after a nearly three-hour drive and several large surgeries without one complaint. The only time you even knew he was in pain was when he would ask to go lie down in bed. It’s amazing how weak we can seem just dealing with the day-to-day world but how strong we can become when we need to be.

I believe acknowledging our inner strength and choosing not to let things bother us is one of the hardest but most rewarding ways to be elegant.

What would you add to the “ways to be elegant” list?

Ashley

A Book Worth Reading: The Hunger Games

I am not one for ‘fads‘, ‘trends‘, ‘reality TV‘ or mass hysteria. I just do my own thing.

But occasionally, I manage to pull myself onto the pop culture bandwagon and get wrapped up in the current obsession du jour:

Example One: Reading the first Harry Potter book when I was 11 and waiting whole-heartedly for my letter from Hogwarts.

Example Two: Believing when I was nine years old that once I turned fourteen, a purple cat would come and tell me I was Sailor Moon. Really bummed this one didn’t happen by the way…

Example Three: Going to see Lord of the Rings at midnight… three years in a row.

And now…

Example Four: I am eagerly waiting for the Hunger Games movie (with midnight showing and nail polish collection) ever since I finished the Hunger Games book earlier this week.

Firstly, what a fast read! I had the whole thing done in only a few days and I mostly read it on my 20 minute commute.

Secondly, despite the ‘young adult’ tag-line, I couldn’t help but enjoy the stories, the characters and the theme of survival.

If you havent read this book, give it a try. As someone who spurns bandwagons, I can tell you it is worth at least a majority of the hype.

My favorite quote:

“Destroying things is much easier than making them.”

And it is so true. This is actually something I have spent a lot of time ruminating on. Ian and I are working towards making our lives more sustainable (though my shopping habit inhibits this quite a bit) but it can be hard. It’s so much easier to destroy the world than to live in harmony with it. Secretly, Ian and I are planning to move off to a farm in a few years to start growing our own food and work towards our mutual goal of a zero-energy home. We are a ways off from that right now but last summer we started an indoor garden in our apartment and just this last week we started indoor composting (complete with 1,000 new red wiggling family members). I’ll be sure to post pictures soon.

What are your pop-culture indulgences?

Ashley

My January Birchbox

It… finally… came. Sadly my “January” box didn’t arrive until January 30th and the last few days I have been test driving the products so unfortunately this post comes a few days into February. But I have to say, it was worth the wait this month.

My January 2012 Birchbox Contained:

1. Juicy Couture – Viva La Juicy – 3.4 oz. This perfume smells delicious but since I already found my signature scent, I suspect I’ll be sticking with my signature scent from Jo Malone.

2. stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner. I had a lovely brown eyeliner from stila which I used all-up (and I’m not sure why I didn’t buy another). stila has a great eyeliner formula – however the color I got from Birchbox this month was ‘peacock’, a bright teal blue which I just don’t see myself wearing. But Birchbox has a neutral-looking brown on the website and I think I would really love that.

3. BORGHESE CuraForte Moisture Intensifier. This is an interesting product meant to boost your moisturizer however so far I have not experienced any real moisture boosts since using it. Maybe I’m using it wrong? Has anyone tried this?

4. Jouer Body Butter. This body butter smells divine – so mature and sophisticated and the formula is silky but not slimy. I really enjoy this stuff!

5. LÄRABAR Mini Bars. Each bar has nine ingredients max and no ‘icky’ ingredients. And this month I happened to get a flavor I would have never tried on my own but am so glad I did – Coconut Cream Pie. Confession: I am not a huge fan of coconut, especially coconut texture. But this little bar was smooth, not overly chewy and the taste took me to a beach in the tropics – so summer-y and delicious!

EXTRA: A small Birchbox magnet for the fridge (and matches my hot pink kitchen perfectly!).

Am I too scared of colored eyeliner? Does anyone have any thoughts for wearing colored eyeliner after Halloween?

Ashley

Past Birchboxes:

November 2011.

December 2011.