Friday, December 31, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spirit

Well hello there doll! As you can see I took a little blogging hiatus, not even a Friday Style file to be found! I needed a break, and honestly I did a mostly handmade Christmas for family this year so I was buried with sewing for that, as well as finishing up the last of my Christmas orders, add to that 12 inches of rain in 5 days and once again a flooding backyard and overflowing pool, plus a hubby with the flu and well, yes, a break was necessary. Oh and speaking of break, did I mention I broke my toe-- not joking-- but at least that was the day after Christmas and after most of the aforementioned chaos. So anyway, the break was necessary and very nice.

We spent Christmas with family up at my parents house. It is always such a treat to be up there. Good food, good wine and great company. And can you believe I didn't bring my sewing machine this time?? I finished up a tunic for my MIL before we left as well as a a patchwork skirt for my mom, and shoes for my nieces (yes, baby shoes!! To go with these shirts, because the shirts are available in this shop, but Jessica's gorgeous shoes are a hot commodity and hard to get, and I don't plan THAT far in advance! I'll blog about that another day)

What I did do is loads of hand sewing for a little bump... fabric rosettes hand sewn onto a gorgeous pink polka dot blanket in the shape of an "A"


The blanket turned out amazing!! But I am more obsessed with this bump and the mama who is carrying her. Ava will be joining us tangibly at the end of March, but none of us can seem to get enough of her already!


How gorgeous is Mandy? It comes from within, I tell you. Never. Ever have I met anyone with her spirit. Mandy had a less than enjoyable childhood.... to put it mildly. No one should have to experience the things she did, especially not a child. It amazes me how much love and kindness she has in her heart. More than anyone else I know. She can find the good in anyone and anything and I am so honored that I get to share her love and joy and her compassion and amazing outlook on life. She already is the best mama I know!

To spend Christmas with Mandy reminded me of what the holiday is all about. I hope you all were able to take some time to remember the Spirit of Christmas.

luvluv.
Simone

Monday, December 20, 2010

Essentials.

A little post office mix up sent two packages back to my front door this Saturday instead of to the recipients. Apparently when the postage stickers were printed by my friendly post office gal, she accidentally put the wrong ones on each of the packages. Both were returned for incorrect postage. Which meant-- I had to head back to the post office today. NO ONE in their right mind wants to go to the post office this close to Christmas -- ohhhhh hold on-- blog post getting interrupted. Just got an invitation to a fashion show being held "down stairs. Right now" be back shortly--
Ok where was I? Oh yes. The post office....the first post office. I usually got to a smaller annex office just around the corner. It's normally a quick trip- park in front of the store and head straight to the counter. Today was insanity. We could hardly find a parking spot in a lot full of incompetent drivers--of course! The girls even asked if we were just driving in circles! So I finally find a spot and go in to find a line literally to the back of the store. Out the door we go. Since we already had to go across town for another errand I figured the main post office would be much easier as they have those automatic kiosks. It took us a half hour to get there. I tell you people around here cannot drive!! And remember my horn debacle?? Well I have not had the time to take my car in to get it fixed so I have no horn. None! Nothing to communicate with those nut jobs who have no idea how to drive!! I had a brilliant idea after leaving the post office-- I need to get an air horn for the time being! That way, I can just wind down the window stick my pretty little arm out and let them know in with not so subtle blast that they need to attend Simone's School of Fabulous Driving. (It should be my second job, I know. Along with re-routing the traffic flow in our town. I"m a genius behind the wheel!)
HOLIDAY ESSENTIALS

And since I am on the problem solving bandwagon, remember this post? I've solved that problem too. A marshmallow gun!! When the kids act up, I'm jut going to shoot them with marshmallows!! I'm pretty sure that'll distract them and they won't be able to resist eating them so they'll stop whining, complaining or tattling...or whatever it is that they are so unpleasantly doing at the time.
So there you have it-- Two items to add to the list of essentials for world peace-- and a lace cardigan because you have to be chic when you're handing out whoop-a**. Just doing my part! Happy holidays!

luvluv & rebel chic
Simone

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wrap it up!

Stylish gift wrap for this Friday's style file. So many options-- Now I know why it takes so long to wrap gifts! To me the packaging is just as important as the gift. I was wrapping today and was laughing at myself running around the house and studio to all my stash spots-- sort of like I was making a bag. Inspiration for your holiday wrappings a la' InStyle Mag.
Who doesn't love modern bows? I could see these on an entry table as Christmas decor.

And I love love love these as I am no a huge fan of gift tags, or those hideous stickers. Yuck! Monograms are perfect and so easy-- head to your local craft jaunt and pick up some glittered Stickers or chip board letters....or even plain chipboard letters and glitter them yourself! I'll be doing that tomorrow!

And well, I don't need to say much about these, gorgeous colors and flowers...No, not at up my ally!

Add a vintage brooch to any of these and that's what you'll see under my tree. Enjoy the packaging as much as the gift this year. And if you are wondering what is on my wish list....the perfect rose gold watch (which I am still searching for) Tory Burch slippers (which I have decided I absolutely cannot live without,) quality time with my hubby and the perfect vintage chandelier to fall from the sky at the most reasonable price possible. Is that too much to ask?It might be as my absolute favorite flea market is this weekend and it going to be rained out.

luvluv and pretty boxes full of what you love.

Simone

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gifted and Thrifted. Chocolate Bark Recipe.

For the past few years I have been making chocolate bark for our friends and for Brian's co-workers and I thought it might be nice to share it with all of you as well. This is not the traditional chocolate peppermint bark you so often see this time of year. This one is healthy-- fruit and nuts make it that way and dark chocolate is good for you! So you can go ahead and eat to your heart's desire-- because, ya' know, it's healthy! This is a really fun and easy way to make the same thing each year but make it differently-- keep everyone on their toes and wondering what will come next year!

This year I made the following combos
-- Dark chocolate bark with dried apples and cinnamon almonds
-- Milk chocolate bark with orange cranberries and almonds
-- Dark chocolate bark with raisins, peanuts and pretzels
All are delish-- I can't pick a favorite!

I start the process with a trip to Trader Joe's which has everything you will need. If you don't have a Trader Joe's close by-- not to worry-- you can find everything you need at any grocery store although I am not sure about dried apples or cinnamon coated almonds-- you may need to go to a specialty store for those. If you can't find cinnamon sugar coated almonds, honey roasted peanuts also work very well.

I buy one pound bars of both milk and dark chocolate, you could also use chocolate chips-- but buy good quality as you bark is only going to be as good as the ingredients you put in it! For the barks above I bought 2 pounds of chocolate for each variety.

The first thing you will need to do is line baking sheets with parchment paper. This makes clean up a breeze as well as allowing for a non-stick surface for the chocolate. You will need to melt the chocolate in a double boiler (some people do it in the microwave also, but I always seem to over cook it in the microwave and it ends up lumpy-- no one likes lumpy, grainy bark! If you don't know how to set up a double boiler, this video can help you. It's easy peasy!

Step 1. Melt the chocolate one pound at a time over a double boiler.
Step 2. When it is nice and smoothly melted pour it onto your baking sheet.
Smooth it with a rubber spatula. I fill the surface of the baking sheet to within about a half inch of the sides of the pan. A note** you do not want the water or condensation from the bottom the pan that your chocolate is in to drip onto your parchment covered baking sheet so make sure you wipe all of that off before you pour the chocolate onto the baking sheet. I do this by making a fluffy pile of dish towels next to the stove, I simply pull the pan from over the hot water and set it onto the fluffy pile of towels for a few seconds, make sure all the condensation is gone and then pour the chocolate out.
Step 3. Add all of the "fillings."
Make sure you add lots of fillings-- you will break the bark up into pieces and you want a little bit of everything in each bite. Also, once you have added all your fillings, use the underneath of a ...omg--do you ever have a brain blank-- I'm having one right now!! What is the thing called you use to flip pancakes?? Yeah, one of those-- use the underneath of that to gently tap all of the fillings down so they go all the way through the chocolate. I then fancy it up a bit by drizzling a different kind of melted chocolate over the top.
Step 4. Add fancy drizzle.
If the bark was made using dark chocolate, I melt a little milk chocolate and then use a fork to drizzle it over the bark. Drizzle it by simply scooping it up on a fork and then quickly drizzle it in a side to side motion (almost like you are trying to shake it off the fork) You need to do this while the dark chocolate is still melty or the drizzle topper will just break off once you are breaking up all the bark.
Step 5. Refrigerate. Until the bark is solid.
Step 6. Break it into pieces.
Step 7. Package and gift!

Last year I used those boxes that look like Chinese take out containers which was very cute this year i went a different route-- There is so much vintage silver and cut glass at our local flea markets for literally a song that I decided to use that instead. Use all different shapes and sizes. I found some small glass cups as well as small footed silver-plated bowls and some oval fancy cut glass dishes. I cut squares of parchment and gold tissue for the bottom of the silver cup, piled up the bark and then put the whole thing into a cellophane bag and tied the top with a ribbon.



Here are some notes about each variety I made--
Dark chocolate bark with dried apple and cinnamon almonds.
The dried apples were slices so I chopped them into smaller pieces. I used cinnamon sugar coated almonds found at Trader Joe's, you could also use honey roasted almonds or peanuts from your local grocery store.
Milk Chocolate with orange cranberries and almonds--
I used orange infused cranberries which can be found at almost every grocery store.
Cute, custom, handmade and upcycled!! A perfect holiday gift just for you!

luvluv.
Simone

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bah Humbug.

I know I missed my style file post yesterday. Brian surprised me Thursday night with this "I took tomorrow off. Do you want to hit the outlets?" Uuuuuuuh. Who are you and what have you done with my husband?!? lol. Love it when my guy surprises me like that. We had a great day shopping. I scored a few things for myself including some Seven for all Mankind boyfriend skinnies for 48 bucks. Love me a good deal!

Yesterday was fab. Today was a whole different story. The girls woke up with major attitude...never fun. One of them had a mega-meltdown which left me heading out the door at 11am in tears. It left me reeling. Questioning every move I have ever made as a parent. I spent a good few hours sort of droning around town without getting much done other than thinking about the direction of my life, my family, and my business. I still have zero clarity.

I returned home to a clean house and two girls who had had a very good sit down chat with their dad. They had lists of what I do for them and how they are thankful for it. And also lists of what they are going to do to be more helpful around the house, to get along better and on and on. I was still in such a bad mood that I think I only half listened to it. How horrible is that?? I just kept thinking to myself. "Yep, I've heard all of this before." I know. They are young. And it is my responsibility to teach them how to get along, how to contribute and how to be good people. And I bet if you ask anyone who knows them well, they will tell you that they are amazing little girls. Sweet, kind and very well behaved. They are. Most of the time. Always kind caring and considerate- to everyone else. To me, today, not so much. I'm just spent. And now it's 9pm and I am still in my funk. I've been sitting at the computer for almost an hour, wanting to do a stylish upbeat blog post-- the one I missed yesterday-- but I just don't have it in me. I did spend a half hour looking for new books (I always treat myself at Christmas time)--


Necessities

Necessities by simonehowell featuring sheer shorts

And another half hour enjoying polyvore. Red wine, chocolate, jammies, red wine, good books, red wine and faux fur throws. Did I mention red wine? And chocolate? That should do the trick.

Maybe the grinch will bring some of those books for me! Santa is not stopping here :)

I think I should just go to bed. Tomorrow is a new day- hopefully a new attitude will come with it.

luvluv. chocolate and wine.
Simone

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beyond Measure

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? "
~Marianne Williamson


One of my favorite quotes and my favorite shot from the girls photo shoot (now you see why I am obsessed with Shannon?) Wanted to share....I hope you enjoy it.


luvluv.
Simone

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rukkus amokuss!

Oh MY! It's been a comical few days around here! Tuesday the girls and I were getting out of the car after school, catching up on the day just a little la-tee-dah.............. and BEEEEEEPPPPPP.

uploaded by gardenhouse.

My horn starts blaring. I figured I must have set off the alarm or something so I'm frantic in the car pushing buttons-- when that didn't work I gave the horn a few good bangs. Nope. nada, my friends. The horn is stuck....just blaring non stop. The girls have already bolted in to the house on me so I follow suit. No idea what to do. Half laughing, half crying (due to the fact that my car was just in the shop twice in the last two months to the tune of 2000 smackers...and it's not an old car!) A frantic call to the dealership yields this "Do you have a neighbor that could help you" and "You'll just have to unhook the horn" Ah yeah, I'll get right on that! Unhook the horn...."what does the horn look like?" I ask. The response is "oh, you'll know where the horn is when you open the hood." Yeah. NO! I go back outside to find neighbors on the next street over outside looking around...wondering what the heck is going on. My genius idea is to just bang the hell out of the steering wheel...and it miraculously turns off. Whew.

So I figured I must have accidentally hit the horn in a funny way while I was getting out of the car.... it must have just jammed. Until...I was going around a corner yesterday-- on a main road-- and BEEEEEEPPP the horn starts blaring again. Oh My! People are looking at me like I'm crazy!! I do use my horn...a lot....It's the New York in me. But not an unending blaring honk like that. People must have thought there was some sort of an emergency as one person even pulled over for me. I was dying-- not the laughing kind of dying either! I finally turned onto a side street and was able to bang the heck out of the steering wheel until it turned off again. The went straight to the dealership.

My girlfriend almost wet their pants when i told them about this. Do you think someone is trying to tell me I honk too much? Can't wait til that damn horn is fixed!

luvluv. And happy honkin' holidays!

Simone

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Minted on Madison Ave.

You've heard it before...how much I completely adore Shannon Stewart from Madison Ave. Photography. She has taken our family portraits for the last two years and this year we decided a mini shoot was in order, she would be shooting the girls only. It may or may not have been due to the grumbling of the only person in our house who is not so fond of getting hair and make-up done {sort of like you're going to prom} for a family portrait session. And it ain't me! Shannon produces stunning work and every year her photos have graced our holiday cards. This year will be no exception. I have become very accustomed to our holiday cards being little pieces of art. So a new tradition has been born for me without even knowing it. Beautiful holiday cards. Frame-worthy. It's my treat to myself. A yearly keepsake. I have them in the girls books as well as on a bulletin board in the house. Despite the fact that I am also now flat out obsessed with having photos of the girls every year. Done by Shannon. It's a must! Go check out her work. You'll see why.



I usually order cards straight through Shannon as well but this year wanted to do something a little different...but still didn't want to send out the glossy card on photo paper from snapfish-- it just won't compete with that gorgeous pearlized card stock our friends and family are used to {see, it's them, not me!!} So after a little googling and searching around I came across Minted.




Oh MY! The. Most.Amazing.Holiday.Cards.... Full.Stop. The "about" on their blog reads like this...."At Minted, we love the idea that our stationery will find its way into your most personal celebrations, and we don't take that honor lightly. That's why we only carry brands that use fine paper stock, rich inks, and crisp printing methods. We guess you could say that quality is an obsession for us." Enough said. Go check it out. It's a must for holiday cards. A MUST! Create keepsakes. It's part of what the Holidays are about.

Luvluv & Chic Greetings.

Simone

Friday, December 3, 2010

Holiday Love

Don't you love decorating for the holidays? My Christmases have moved much more toward the classic gold and white over the last few years. I love holiday sparkle and the warmth of Christmas lights everywhere.


This year I have created loads of little vignettes using apothecary jars, faux snow, glittered birdies, vintage thread and clippings from the tree and yard. {Faux snow, the birds and the music sheet stars are from PB in case you are wondering} Everything looks very natural, sparkly and fabulous. Lots of greenery, candles and mercury glass will do the trick to warm up the holiday!

And what would be so stylish about Friday if there were not a Polyvore to coordinate with such holiday sparkle?

If you are entertaining this month, that apron is a MUST! And that black is the wallpaper for my kitchen-- do you love?

luvluv & stylish holidays.

Simone