5PFWM: Winter 2011/12

On November 22nd I wrote a post about the 5 Piece French Wardrobe Method (5PFWM) which is a way of building a quality wardrobe without being completely overwhelmed by choices. The whole theory is that every season you should pick five pieces you would like to invest in to build up your wardrobe. I think subscribing to this method is a huge Lifevestment simply because it forces you to concentrate on what your wardrobe needs and to find quality (not quantity) to fill the void.
 
Here are some pictures of my Fall 2011 5PFWM pieces. To re-cap, I added (1) a classic Anne Klein trench coat with single-breasted buttons, storm flaps and an a-line flair, (2) a black-and-white patterned wrap dress from Eliza J, (3) a velvet peplum blazer from Winter Kate, (4) a basic black sweater and (5) waterproof booties from Aquatalia (so in love with these boots)!
 

My Fall 2011 5PFWM loot

Trench Coat, Patterned Wrap Dress, Velvet Peplum Blazer

My absolute favorite addition from the fall season was my Aquatalia ‘Royal’ booties. They are so comfortable and the suede is so luxurious! They were a gift from Ian for Christmas and are the best investment shoe I own.
 
Aren’t they gorgeous (can you tell I am crushing on these boots)?
 

Aquatalia 'Royal' booties

They have a cute plaid interior (this photo doesn't do it justice)

Aquatalia makes a fabulous boot

These boots have me absolutely convinced (as if I wasn’t already) that wardrobe essentials will last so much longer if you invest in quality. A good mantra to remember is: Quality is always worth the price (though a high price isn’t always indicative of quality). I really tried to keep that in mind when picking my Winter wardrobe additions.
 

My Winter 2012 5PFWM includes:

1. An Alexander McQueen Silk Skull Scarf in Black/Blue. I have lusted after this scarf for a long time – to me it’s as versatile as a Burberry scarf. And the Black/Blue combination will work perfectly with jeans or a black suit.

McQueen Silk Skull Scarf

2. This fabulous Pleated Jersey Dress from Issa. I have always wanted a green dress and on my bucket list I did promise myself I would buy a nice designer dress with all my own money. Isn’t the cut so interesting? Plus this is dressy enough to wear to a party or wedding but the jersey fabric makes it easy to wear all-day at the office too. LOVE!

Issa's Pleated Jersey Dress, available at Net-A-Porter

3. A pair of well-tailored skinny jeans. J Brand makes the best for my body but I would suggest trying on a few brands before purchasing to make sure the fit is right (not one likes ‘wrinkly-knee’ skinny jeans).

J Brand Cigarette Leg Jeans

4. An L.K. Bennett Davina Dress is another investment piece which I have had my eye on for some time. I know this is my SECOND dress on a short list but a red dress is such a classic and L.K. Bennett really makes quality clothing. Plus the cut on the Davina is so flattering and timeless.

L.K. Bennett's Davina Dress in "Lipstick"

5. Cole Haan ‘Air Violet’ Patent Pumps in Black. These beautiful pumps actually contain Nike Air comfort technology which would make them extremely versatile and comfortable for all-day wear. Not to mention that black patent is such a wardrobe staple!
 

Cole Haan 'Air Violet' Patent Pump at Nordstroms

 What are you looking to add to your wardrobe this winter?

Ashley

Pug Therapy: December 28th

Apollo is still recovering from the Christmas festivities. He hasn’t wanted to play fetch in days and has staked himself out at the world’s most dedicated couch potato.

Example #1:

Example #2:

And a third and final example:

If any of you are feeling the same, I wish you a speedy recovery from the holidays!

Ashley

Reindeer Treats

Originally I had planned to make these for my co-workers and I am so glad I made my Festive Cupcakes instead because making this in large quantities is exhausting! But I just had to make these for Ian’s family.

To make Reindeer Treats:

Make a batch of “Muddy Buddies” (otherwise known as “Puppy Chow”) according to the recipe on the back of a Chex Cereal box. Wash out a mason jar and fill with the mix. Tie a festive ribbon around the lid and add a tag saying “Reindeer Treats”.  I think they turned out pretty cute but I wish I had made more so I could have given some to my family too! But be sure to learn from my mistake and make the mix in small batches. Otherwise you’ll wind up with a floor covered in reindeer treats.

Ashley

P.s. Sorry for the blurry photos, Santa didn’t bring me a tripod this Christmas…

Scenes from Our Christmas

I hope everyone had a safe and fulfilling Christmas (for those who celebrate it). I wanted to share with you some scenes from our wonderful celebrations:

My mother always decorates the most beautiful trees but I especially enjoyed her frosty tree this year:

Isn’t it beautiful?

My mom actually decorated the whole house in a frosty winter white. Look how she decorated the mantle:

Apollo also got into the holiday spirit:

My sister gave my Mom some adorable Kate Spade slippers too. Don’t they look fabulous?

My Mom gave Apollo a very festive gift too:

After celebrating Christmas with my family, Ian and I went down to Indiana to celebrate Christmas with his family. Doesn’t his mother do a beautiful job decorating too?

Merry Christmas (one last time)!

Ashley

Apollo the Wrinkly [Reindeer]

Our Christmas cards from Pinhole Press just came! I think they turned out very cute.

I think Apollo is happier without the reindeer antlers:

As gifts for co-workers I made my favorite festive cupcakes and gave these cards. Everyone really seemed to enjoy them and couldn’t believe I made the cupcakes myself (or that they were born from a red velvet cake mix box). It just goes to show: a gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be impressive. A little thought goes a long way.

Happy Holidays!

Ashley & Apollo

My Favorite Festive Cupcakes

Last night I realized I hadn’t planned anything as gifts for my co-workers… and I felt like a deer in headlights. With at least twelve co-workers to find gifts for, I had to think of something relatively inexpensive but still thoughtful since I do work with these people every single day.

While I was running around the grocery store last night with an idea of making reindeer food (puppy chow in mason jars with cute tags), the reality of making 24 cups of puppy chow hit me. I didn’t even have enough bowls for the job, not to mention that I don’t have a car here in the city so I would have to lug home over six boxes of cereal, four bags of chocolate chips… yikes!

Luckily I happened to be in the baking aisle when this epiphany hit and like a small Christmas miracle, a large box of red velvet cake mix was on the shelf right in front of me and I began to think. Cupcakes are pretty easy to make in large quantities… Plus. Red velvet cupcakes are festive… Plus! Red currants, the most festive berry, just happened to be in stock in the produce aisle… Plus. And then I realized it: there were no minuses to this plan.

So if you are looking for a thoughtful last-minute gift idea, try these out!

My Favorite Super Easy Festive Cupcakes

What You’ll Need:

1 box of red velvet cake mix

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, but I recommend it!)

3 teaspoons milk

1 bag chocolate chunks, for garnish

1 carton of red currants, for garnish

Directions:

Make red velvet mix as directed for cupcakes. Meanwhile mix powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract until they form a pourable icing. Once cupcakes are done (a toothpick should be able to poke through them cleanly) pull out of the oven and drizzle icing as desired. Once cupcakes have cooled for about ten minutes, place a small pile of chocolate chunks on top. Garnish with a small sprig of red currants.

And enjoy! Yes, it’s that easy.

These are especially delicious to enjoy in front of the Christmas tree, it creates the right atmosphere:

Ashley

P.s. For some reason these cupcakes make me think of another red and chocolate dessert:

Award Nominations

I’m not sure how to even begin this post. I had the busiest weekend filled with plenty of Christmas parties and cranberry mojitos (soooo delicious) and low-and-behold, I sign-on to WordPress this morning only to find out that Lifevesting was nominated for two blogging awards over the weekend!

This is an honor, most especially because I was nominated by two blogs which I admire deeply and I can’t help but be over-whelmed by how much having this blog has given me since I started it on October 19th. Originally this blog began because I wanted to take on a new challenge in my life and pursue a new direction. But as time has passed over the past two months, I see myself changing and paying more attention to the beauty and meaning in the world around me. The unexpected shift in my mental attitude and my renewed positivity is something which has surprised me and I hope that this little blog helps others find that too.

As for the future of Lifevesting – I have big plans for future posts and collaborations with other bloggers. I want this blog to be a forum for ideas on how to improve your life on many different levels (from the superficial to the profound) and I want your ideas! If you have something that you do that you consider a “lifevestment”, send me a message because I would love love to feature your idea!

Now onto the awards and my nominations:

The fabulous ladies over at the Image Mistress (http://theimagemistress.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/liebster-blog-award-nomination/) have nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. Thank you so much for the nomination, I feel so honored.

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
3. Copy & paste the blog award on your blog
4. Reveal your 5 blog picks.
5. Let them know you choose them by leaving a comment on their blog.

For this award I have nominated five blogs which I all feel superbly exemplify the Liebster Blog Award:

1. Susie Mae Day – http://susiemaeday.wordpress.com/. The title of her blog gives away just how clever this Susie is and she is absolutely one of my favorite blogs. Not many women can post about her fabulous outfits and her fabulous cooking – but somehow she does (and always manages to make me drool on my computer screen).

2. Just a little Brit – http://justalittlebrit.wordpress.com/. This blog is so much fun to read (especially her recent post on photographing a concert for Florence + the Machine). Her bucket list is truly inspiring as well!

3. Shine On: Illuminate the Shadows – http://breatheitgetsbetter.wordpress.com/. Brittany has a fabulously positive attitude about the world and the most thoughtful posts. I really appreciate how clever her entire blog is.

4. xoxoxo – http://unapologeticallycute.wordpress.com/. This blog has some of the best ideas and I love how much fun both Lo and Lexi have writing this! I always walk away from their blog with a great idea!

5. my little moments – http://nuresma.wordpress.com/. She has her own Etsy shop, a beautiful outlook on life and the sweetest little pug. I always enjoy reading her blog!

And because I couldn’t choose 5, I had to also nominate Lark & Linen – http://jacquelynnicole.wordpress.com/. Her blog is simply beautiful and I love all of her photography!

And for Lifevesting’s second award…

The fabulous Emily over at GroundingMyRoots (http://groundingmyroots.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/my-first-blogging-awards/) nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you so much!

These are the rules for the Versatile Blog Awards:

  • Nominate 15 fellow bloggers.
  • Inform the bloggers of their nomination.
  • Share 7 random things about yourself.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Add the Versatile Blog Award logo on your blog post.

THESE ARE IN NO ORDER! I had a hard enough time trying to choose 15 blogs which I thought were the most versatile – I feel like there are so many impressive and diverse blogs here on WordPress!

1. Helena Handbasket – http://ninhydrin.wordpress.com/.

2. roam&home – http://roamandhome.com/.

3. notesfromadogwalker – http://notesfromadogwalker.com/.

4. pursesandpugs – http://pursesandpugs.wordpress.com/

5. She Found Style – http://shefoundstyle.wordpress.com/.

6. Candy Stilettos – http://candystilettos.com/.

7. lark&linen (again!) – http://jacquelynnicole.wordpress.com/.

8. Fashion Script – http://fashionscript.net/.

9. twomuffinsinanoven – http://twomuffinsinanoven.wordpress.com/.

10. leahmariev – http://leahmariev.com/.

11. Cactus & Kudzu – http://cactusandkudzu.com/.

12. Elizabeth Cori – http://elizabethcori.wordpress.com/.

13. The Lonely Wife Project – http://thelonelywifeproject.wordpress.com/.

14. Chi On A Dime – http://chionadime.com/.

15. I am Abimarvel – http://abimarvel.com/.

And to finish this off, here are 7 fun facts about moi:

1. I am terrified of heights (or rather death by falling from them). I actually worked in the Sears Tower for a few months until our office was relocated and building tenants have access to the 66th floor for free so everyday for TWO MONTHS I went up there and tried to get over this fear. It isn’t going anywhere and I’ve moved on to different self-improvement projects.

2. I have been a pescetarian since 2003 (lacto-ovo vegetarian who also eats seafood, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pescetarianism). I try to be very educated about what I am eating and why and I am working towards more sustainable eating habits. Ian and I have even started a small table-top garden in our living room.

3. I would like to get Apollo certified to be a therapy dog. When my dad was in a nursing home, I would bring Apollo to visit and it was a wonderfully rewarding experience to bring so much cheer to the people there. If only Apollo would cooperate and show his affection in a more friendly way than gnawing on fingers…

4. I am currently reading Heinlein’s The Moon is A Harsh Mistress (which also happens to be on my bucket list). I would highly recommend it!

5. I have a long, skinny tattoo down my spine – maybe one post soon I’ll surprise everyone with what is of (warning – somewhat geeky).

6. My all-time favorite color is green.

7. I am an in-the-closet home-body. I may live in Chicago and go out to some fabulous meals and events, but my favorite activity is sitting on the cozy couch with Ian watching the Office.

Thank you everyone for making my Monday!

Ashley

Getting in the Holiday Spirit

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

Generally, I don’t need any assistance getting in the spirit of the holidays but I will say that this year has been full of more cheer than usual. All of the lights here in Chicago are beautiful! We went to see the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights last weekend and they were spectacular – especially after a large glass of mulled wine. I couldn’t believe how many lights the zoo put up and I loved that you could sit on Santa’s lap in the Lion house. And it seems that every time I go online I find something else to boost my holiday spirit.

But we all have things that really put us in the spirit of the holidays. Here are a few things that always put a jolly smile on my face:

1. Chic Holiday Cards. Aren’t these Kate Spade cards fun? She always has quirky, colorful and nondenominational cards for everyone on your list.

2. William Sonoma Peppermint Bark. It isn’t Christmas without this quintessential peppermint bark. I’ve tried other kinds, I even have the Dove Peppermint Bark bites in a jar on my desk, but this is the best. It has the perfect balance of white chocolate and peppermint to balance the milk chocolate.

3. Fun ornaments. I have a little glass sushi roll ornament and also some fun childhood characters hanging on my tree. But when I saw these bows from Pier One I couldn’t help myself – I decked out our entire tree in these. They are actually a sturdy metal and the glitter doesn’t easily rub off so I figured I would get to use these ornaments for years.

4. Evergreen Candles. I love love love the smell of evergreen trees and around the holidays I light tons of these everywhere. It helps create the right atmosphere and compensate for the fake tree… And this year I have become obsessed with Bath and Body Works’ Merry Mistletoe candle which is a slightly more sophisticated evergreen.

5. Potato Pancakes. Is an explanation really necessary?

What things put you in the holiday spirit?

Ashley

P.s. I always enjoy putting up my Charlie Brown Christmas Tree on my desk at work too:

It isn’t the most professional desk ornamentation but it’s perfect for the holidays!