Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday Musings: Baby Shower Bonanza!

Today we are en route back to the West Coast after a wonderful whirlwind of a Christmas vacation in Connecticut. We saw lots of friends and family, we celebrated and ate loads of cookies, and we had some time to just relax with the people we love. One of the highlights of the trip was my baby shower, which was held over the weekend. Unfortunately, I did not have the forethought to realize that a fur vest over a (ginormous) baby bump would not photograph well, so I am not showing you any pictures of me on that auspicious occasion, but it was a really beautiful afternoon. My sister, sister-in-law, mother, and mother-in-law all saw to it that the day was tasteful, fun, celebratory, and sophisticated. We had the shower at one of my favorite restaurants, Carole Peck's Good News Cafe. Obviously, pink was the theme of the day!

We played two great games (it was a shower after all) that were not too cheesy! First was "Guess the Baby." Each guest brought a baby photo of herself, and we all had to guess which picture went with whom. (Winner got a bottle of wine cause that's how we roll). The second game was "Daddy Knows Best." My husband answered a bunch of questions about my pregnancy and the baby, and I had to guess his responses. The person who guessed the most correctly guessed it...a bottle of wine! And, of course, there were lots of lovely baby presents! My mother-in-law did the cutest favors--bottles of different shades of pink Essie nail polish. Loved it.

Because I was not digging any pics of me from the shower, I thought I'd offer up a current belly shot from Christmas day. Almost to 32 weeks!

Tomorrow we are off to celebrate wonderful friends of ours who are tying the knot on New Year's Eve. We are spending two days in St. Helena to enjoy the last trip we will take alone before the baby girl! I hope your holidays were spectacular. Thanks for sticking around during this less than predictable blogging month! Regularly scheduled blogging will commence on Friday. In the meantime, enjoy a wonderful New Year's Eve, and Happy 2014! This is sure to be a fantastic year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy, Merry, Joyous Day!

Wishing you and yours an amazing day filled with family, presents, delicious treats, love, fires to snuggle by, Christmas cocktails, and loads and loads of joy. I'll be back on Monday because I am taking the weekend  off to get in all the family time I can!

(Love this wreath by Oh Happy Day!)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Party

Last night, we had the pleasure of dining at the home of a dear family friend who is famous for her themed dinner parties. The theme of last night's party was "elegance." It was a beautiful, magical evening. Every year, our hostess takes entertaining to the next level as every inch of her house is like a Christmas wonderland.

Take a peak inside...

And the dining room reveal...

 Our lovely and talented hostess with her creation!

I know the pictures are a little dark, but I am writing this at one in the morning (and, besides, the dim lighting gives you a sense of ambiance)!

We sang carols while wearing antlers. We played instruments. And, we enjoyed a most festive and delightful time. It couldn't have been a nicer evening.

Thank you, MEL and Merry Christmas Eve! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Musings

I have to apologize, but lots of family time = minimal blogging time! I offer you this image of holiday happiness as we are down to two days until Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fabulous Friday

Tonight is the night the holiday festivities kick off with a joint dinner party for Jeff's and my families. This is a tradition we've been participating in for years, and it is a great time to get everyone together, which is particularly exciting now as the first grandchild (on both sides) is coming soon! I can't wait to sit by the beautiful tree, warm up by the fire, and spend the evening with people I love. While Christmas in CT is always a whirlwind of events and adventures, I truly love every minute of it, which makes this an absolutely Fabulous Friday! I have a bit more shopping to do this weekend (despite all my best intentions--someone gave me a wrong size and a few things have to get returned!), but I am ready for Christmas to get here. Hope you are enjoying the season as much as I am.

(Don't you love this amazing print!)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Currently (Christmas Edition)...

We are less than a week away from Christmas! <Insert squeal of joy here.>

FEELING (AND THINKING ABOUT): I am at the 30 week mark, and I am having a lot of realizations that this baby is actually going to be outside of my body at some point in the not too distant future. When we left for the airport on Tuesday, I was thinking about how this is the last time we will be traveling without a baby. This is the last time I will see my siblings without a baby. This is our last Christmas without a baby. I am so excited to meet this little one who has been a crazy-active, burrowing presence in my abdomen for the last seven and a half months, but I am trying to savor the end of my life the way I've known it for the last thirty years. Basically, all these little moments of "lasts" are rocking my world. When we get back to CA, it's full on baby preparation mode, so this is the calm before baby fever really sets in. I want to make the most of it.

EATING: I am eating clementines like it's going out of  style. I could put down about six in a day. For some reason, clementines always remind me of the holidays. My family is Italian (and Irish) on my mom's side, and my Italian grandfather was the chef in the family, so we had mostly Italian traditions growing up. One of those was a seven course fish dinner on Christmas Eve. As you can imagine, many of the cousins were less than enthused about this in their younger years, so we would sit in the living room where my grandparents had erected the kids' table and eat buttered pasta and clementines, which was what we got if we didn't want the fish. So, to me, clementines feel like a holiday staple.

WATCHING: Jeff and I have been watching Christmas movies of late (since I am currently up to date on Scandal!! And, by the way, I take back my former lukewarm endorsement of the show and give it two huge thumbs up. If you are looking for something to watch during your vacation, make this your top choice. Power through the first few episodes. They are comparatively weak. Then it really gets going...) We have recently watched Love, Actually and The Holiday, and last weekend we had a theme night where we watched Elf and ate waffles and hot chocolate! Such a good way to spend a Saturday night. This is the only time of year I can convince Jeff to watch romantic comedies (because I tell him they are Christmas movies as long as they take place around that time of year).

READING: My reading right now is of the magazine variety. I just read a highly disturbing article in Vanity Fair about Bikram Chodhury, the founder of Bikram yoga. You can read it here.

LOVING: Speaking of yoga, I am totally into prenatal yoga. After finding a studio that I love (The Mindful Body in Pacific Heights), I have been going twice a week, and it has made a huge difference in my aches and pains. The one problem with prenatal yoga is that I spend half the class obsessing over how I am way bigger than all the other pregnant women (and we are at the same place in our pregnancy), which is totally anti-yogi since I am supposed to be quieting my mind and not obsessing over the size of my belly, but I can only be so zen, people. I don't have it in me to "om" myself into an altered reality where I am not highly neurotic and moderately insecure. If I found a yoga class that could take care of that, I would sign up for life. In the meantime, I am very happy to have alleviated my back pain. I think I am going to keep this up after the baby!

BUMMED OUT ABOUT: Um, nothing! Hello, it's Christmas time. If you are bummed, you need to turn that from upside down and smile because "smiling is my favorite." Make it your favorite this week! (A little helpful tip from Buddy the Elf.)

LOOKING FORWARD TO: This wonderful respite back on the East Coast. We arrived in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and the next week and a half is jam packed with family fun and festivities. We are pretty much solidly booked until we head back to CA for our friends' wedding on New Year's Eve! This is by far one of my favorite weeks of the year. I am all smiles.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gift Guide 2013: A Very J.Crew Christmas

Okay, people. If you have waited to be a last minute shopper, you are in luck. J.Crew is giving 30% off almost everything online and in stores (with free shipping, too) from now through Christmas Eve (GIFTNOW is the code)! If you want your package in time for Christmas, you need to order before the 21st. I put together some picks in case you are still looking. Hit it up for ladies, gents, girls, and boys. (Baby items are not part of the discount. Boo!)

FOR LADIES: Sweatshirt - Scarf - Vest - Clutch - Socks
FOR GIRLS: Pajamas - Mittens - Watch Temporary Tattoo
FOR BOYS: Pajamas - Fair isle Sweater
FOR GENTS: Lambswool Sweatshirt - Timex Watch (excluded from promo) - Chamois Shirt - Flannel Shirt

And, in case you missed them, here are links to the other gift guides: 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday Beauty: Last Minute Stocking Stuffers

Chances are wherever most of you are, you are near a Target. This is the world's best stop for finding all kinds of thrilling things, and their beauty aisles never disappoint. So, this year, if you are looking for some beauty related stocking stuffers, you need look no further. All of these items should be available at the store and would make some great treats for some lucky recipients.

MAKE-UP CASE: I love all the fun patterns of the make-up bags you can find at Target.

BURT'S BEES CITRUS AND GINGER BODY WASH: An invigorating scent for the shower.

MAMMA BEE BODY OIL: I am obsessed with oiling my skin at the moment in the desperate attempt to keep stretch marks at bay. I think I'm a convert to oil for the long term (at least in the winter) because it just makes my skin feel so good.

ESSIE APRICOT CUTICLE OIL: Speaking of oil, I also oil my cuticles a few times a day. If you have a manicure that is looking a little old/dry, swipe on some cuticle oil to extend its life.

ESSIE NAIL POLISH: Love that they carry this at Target. This is a great red for the holidays.

EOS LIP BALM: The perfect stocking stuffer, and it comes in lots of flavors!

REVLON COLORBURST BALM STAIN: I use this, and it has great staying power. I want to try this red now that I'm on a red lip kick!

OLAY TOTAL EFFECTS ANTI-AGAIN MOISTURIZER: My mom has been using this for years, and I always steal it when I'm at her house because it feels great on my face. Plus, she looks about 15 years younger than she is, so I'd say there is something to this stuff...

ELASTICS WITH GEMS: How cute it is the added sparkle on these?

CRYSTAL HAIR PINS: Look like they might have come from Anthropologie...

SONIA KASHUK EYE SHADOW QUAD: I love the neutral yet sparkly colors in this palette.


SONIA KASHUK BRUSH SET: This ultra glam brush set screams "holidays" to me in the gold and green. 

P.S. This post in NOT sponsored by Target. I wish. I love them all on my own. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Monday: A Very Whitehouse Playlist

As we continue to count down the days until Christmas, instead of a musing, I bring you some merry cheer this Monday. I asked my family members to send me a favorite Christmas song so that I could create "A Very Whitehouse Christmas" playlist. They have included quite a variety of holiday favorites (and I use that word loosely). Here are the choices for their favorite holiday songs:

MOM: My favorite holiday songs are all part of the Christmas Eve Ceremony of "Lessons and Carols" from King's College, Cambridge. Each year the choir performs a newly commissioned carol. I love to listen to the service while making my Christmas stollen!

(Note: Stollen is am amazing bread my mom makes, and no, I did not include her songs on this playlist. If you want to hear them, tune in to NPR. Sorry, Mom.)

DAD: I am saving my dad's words for the end of the post, but his song choices are 1.) "Something About Christmas Time" by Bryan Adam, "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by Celine Dion," and almost anything by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Among his favorites is "Christmas Canon."

JEFF (husband--big reveal of his name here): I like my Christmas tunes jazzy and soulful, and my favorite is Ray Charles' Winter Wonderland. Sadly it's not on Spotify, so instead I'll take Ella Fitzgerald's lively version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." As a fan of all things Martin Sexton, I have to pick his "I'll Be Home For Christmas" as well.

GEOFFREY (brother): At work we have holiday music that plays throughout the office. The two songs that get the biggest reaction are “Dominic the Donkey” and “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Both songs are amazingly terrible. My current fave is “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” by Julian Casablancas. Also, every girl I know loves “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Maria Carey. To be honest, I kinda like it too.

DANA (sister-in-law (married to Geoffrey)): My favorite Christmas song is definitely Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You." It has a fantastic music video, and my obsession really began in college when my roommates and I would sing this and dance all around our dorm rooms. It was pretty hysterical!

(Note: Geoffrey and Dana are a perfect Christmas song match. How cute.)

CHRISTIAN (brother): I have a top three. The first is "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth" by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. I love David Bowie, and the collaboration with Bing Crosby is great. Love the merging of the two songs, and the simplicity of it. Number two is "Mary Did You Know" by Cee Lo. The actual lyrics are a little religious for my taste, but I love how dramatic it is as it builds up, and Cee Lo is amazing in everything. My third is "Do They Know It's Christmas" by BandAid. With an all-star cast, and it's incredibly condescending/racist, but well-intentioned lyrics, it's an absolute classic.

(Note: Clearly Christian put a lot of thought into this response. Love the serious attitude he has about his Christmas tunes. My dad also picked "Mary Did You Know," but he prefers the Kathy Mattea version. )

GABY (sister): I will always love "Walking in the Air" from The Snowman because it reminds me of watching the movie at home with the family. I also love "All I Want for a Christmas is You" by Michael Bublé because who doesn't love Mr. Bublé's voice!

(Note: Gaby and Dana will have to have a duel to see whose version is better. )

KYLE (Gaby's boyfriend/practically my brother-in-law): My favorite is "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" - Bruce Springsteen version only. My dad has played it since I was a kid, and Bruce really seems excited for Santa Claus to be coming to town.

ME: I really love all Christmas music, so asking me to pick a favorite is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child.  I love the classic songs, the jazzy songs, the N'Sync songs, but because they are not represented on this list, I thought I would throw out two emo Christmas songs that I like. I am adding Sufjan Stevens "That Was The Worst Christmas Ever" and Dave Matthews "Christmas Song" to the list. Now, I just heard this third song the other day, and it is SO sappy, and it's super religious (which I'm not), but the little kid's voice kind of gets me every time, so I will also add Sarah Groves "It's True." Jeff says to ignore this. In his opinion, "It's awful." We have agreed to disagree.

If this strange and eclectic list doesn't do it for you, try this amazing list curated by Jeff.

If you've made it this far, bless your heart. A few words of closing from my dad:
As I have gotten older, I have seen that when there are moments of great tragedy, people recognize a common humanity, a care for strangers. This same awareness is alive at Christmas. At these times, there is a realization that of all that matters, family is the most important. This time is about hopes, about dreams, and knowing at a deeper level.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fabulous Friday: The Joy of Giving (and Receiving)

I had a good mail day this week!  I was lucky enough to receive this beautiful bauble from the kind people at Carolee.

Obviously, a huge part of the holidays involves the giving and receiving of gifts. And, I would be a liar if I didn't admit that I lurve getting presents (who doesn't?). But, I also love giving the perfect gift. I hate giving practical gifts. My husband actually likes giving and getting practical gifts himself, but I love giving things that someone wouldn't buy him/herself, something they never knew they always wanted. And when I get a gift, I love thinking about the person who gave it to me. I love putting on that grey wooly sweater and remembering that it was my sister who gave it to me last year. I love wearing  that ring from my grandma, or the scarf my brother picked out. I love that kind of sentimental thing.

I have to say, though, a present you don't anticipate is often the most special and most touching, so I was very touched to get this lovely bracelet that will certainly add some sparkle to my holiday! It is from the Carolee Lux collection. If you are in the market for something sparkly for someone special, I urge you to check it out.

This Friday, I am thankful for fabulous surprises that arrive at the end of a long week, for the fabulouness of finding just the right gift, and for the fabulous holiday time with family that awaits me next week! That's pretty sweet. Enjoy your weekend, and I hope it is full of fabulous holiday fun.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Peppermint Bliss

I thought I'd offer up a little decorating idea that is fun, festive, and affordable! Last year, I got the idea from decor I saw in Anthropologie. They had placed candles inside hurricanes, and then they filled the hurricanes with various things (depending on the time of year). At Christmas time, the hurricanes were filled with peppermints. I loved this idea. It is so easy, and it looks really cute. (Plus, because you are not eating them, you can recycle the peppermints from year to year!) I bought the hurricanes I've used for under ten dollars at Marshall's (similar). The candle in the photo was from Anthropologie. The actual candle is gone, so I simply poured boiling water into the candle holder, and whatever wax is in the bottom floats to the top. Make sure you let the water cool all the way before removing the wax, and whatever you do, don't pour the waxy water down your sink drain before the wax has completely hardened (or it will harden in the drain!). This little tip allows you to reuse all those candles that come in their own beautiful glass containers. (Some glass can crack when you pour boiling water into it, so do be careful.) I just pop a tea light or a votive into the container now, and voila! When Christmas is over, you can swap out the peppermints for all kinds of seasonal objects! If peppermints aren't your bag, I also saw a version with mini pine cones that looked terrific. What are some of your favorite holiday decorating ideas?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Keep It Toasty

First things first! This is the 11th blogging day until Christmas...Let the countdown continue!

We are venturing home to the East Coast for the holidays (duh!), and I feel like I have lost my tolerance for cold! This got me thinking about the desperate need for a hat and gloves (particularly because none of my coats zip any more). I was perusing the lovely blog The Refined Woman the other day and spotted this amazing number on Em. I was having major hat envy. You MUST check out Preston & Olivia, the source of her fabulous hat. Perhaps I will have to check out the store when in NYC next week! In the meantime, here are some hat and glove combos for all the ladies in your life. Which one suits you?

THE COOL GIRL: hat - gloves * THE TOMBOY: hat - gloves * THE SOPHISTICATE: hat - gloves
THE PREPSTER: hat - gloves * THE GIRLIE GIRL: hat - gloves * THE FUN LOVER: hat - gloves

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Beauty: Holiday Lips

I had a thought yesterday...there are twelve blogging days left until Christmas...and I am a total Christmas let's have twelve days of Christmas inspired posts!! Too much? Too much like I am an extra who escaped from the set of Elf? Can you handle it?!?! I hope the answer is yes, because I'm gonna do it!

In the spirit of the first Christmas inspired post, I was thinking about beauty during the holidays and aside from the typical advice out there (slather yourself with lotion, don't drink too much, put tea bags on your eyes if you do drink too much...those kinds of things), I feel like nothing says holiday beauty like a red lip. I am not really a wearer of lipstick, but something about Christmas time makes me want to go red. I think you have to try a lot of shades to find the right red for you, but here are some inspirational images.

1 - 2 - 3

I picked three blondes because I have blonde hair and wanted to see the different shades that they were wearing. I think I might try the whole red lip and top knot look (a la Elizabeth Olsen) for my upcoming baby shower! This holiday season, I am going on the quest for the perfect red. Here are some that look fancy (and many of these are often listed as favorite reds by people in the know).

Have any of you found your perfect red? Do share it below! I'll keep you posted on my quest!

(By the way, I am also on a quest to find fonts I like for the blog. I am trying out the one above. I know it is recommended to limit the use of fonts to look more elegant, but I feel like I have to give them a whirl to see what I think. Any fonts you love that I should try?)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Musings

This is a glimpse at the inside of my brain right now...

With a little bit of this...

And a touch of holiday sass...

I can't think about anything else! I love Christmas time! Weeeee!

Images: 1 - 2 - 3

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gift Guide 2013: For the Guys

In case you are trying to get your shopping done this weekend, I thought I would forgo Fabulous Friday in order to bring you some picks for the men, which are mostly compiled by my menswear consultant, my brother. I added a couple things my own husband wants because you have to put it in the universe, right?!

STEVEN ALAN parka - SKI INSTARSIA sweater - J.CREW tie - RED WING boots - APPLE iPad mini (My guy is dreaming of this little beauty.) - J.CREW gloves - EAST HARBOUR SURPLUS pants - AEROBIE aeropress (To make a delicious single cup of coffee!) - BROOKS BROTHER'S flannel - ALEX MILL flannel (A new line started by Mickey Drexler's (CEO of J.Crew) son. Read about it here.)

Enjoy the weekend, and hope these help your shopping!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gift Guide 2013: Stuff Those Stockings!

Need something to round out that gift? How about a little treat for a stocking? Check out these finds for guys and gals...

For Her: RIFLE notebook - C.WONDER bangle - HANKY PANKY - BAN.DO hair wrap (I love this for hiding harried mommy hair!) - KATE SPADE iphone case (Adore this!) - C.WONDER hat - KATE SPADE mittens - J.CREW socks - TRUFFLE pouch - PINCH PROVISIONS mini-emergency kit - BAGGU ipad case

For Him: BELLROY wallet (My husband and brother have this wallet and adore it.) - J.CREW smartphone gloves - BUMBLE AND BUMBLE dryspun finish (as recommended by J.) J.CREW FACTORY socks - FORAGE bow tie - J.CREW FACTORY hat - ORIGINS firefighter - BROOKS BROTHERS key chain - RECYCLED FIREFIGHTER toiletry bag (Made from an actual recycled firehose!)

And the fab stocking is from FURBISH!

In case you've missed any:
and more to come!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gift Guide 2013: For the Ladies

This gift guide is called "For the Ladies," but it might as well be called "What I Want for Christmas" because that is how I put it together! Looks like I was feeling a particular color scheme this year... Because I am too preggers to put many (any) clothes on my own wish list, I looked a lot more at accessories and special, luxe items.

Anything strike your fancy? I'll take one of everything! 
J.CREW sweater - KATE SPADE agenda - SASHA RHETT watch - CUYANA infinity scarf - THE BIG BOOK OF CHIC - LOREN HOPE Sarra earrings - MEREDITH HAHN necklace - LOREN HOPE Clara earrings - WILFRED Laboratoire Coat - J.CREW Parker Boots - COACH Mini Tanner - MARGARET ELIZABETH pear shaped bangle - KATE SPADE "Things We Love" - J.CREW cocoon coat - HUGO GUINNESS tee - CALYPSO feather pendant necklace

In case you've missed them, here are links to the previous Gift Guides: 

And there's more where that came from!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gift Guide 2013: Beauty Buys

In honor of Tuesday Beauty, I thought I'd round up some great beauty products that would make excellent gifts. Some of them you've likely seen before on Tuesday Beauty because I love them. Some of them I've never tried, but would love to receive as gifts myself after hearing lots of good things! Without further ado, here is the list:

Harry Josh Hairdryer: Okay, this is only for the big spenders out there. Apparently this dryer is phenomenal and will knock your socks off (and it will cost you a cool 300 bucks).

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo: This one has been a "Tuesday Beauty" favorite. Love how it lathers. Flash Bobby Set: Because why not glam up your mane?

Dry Bar "3-Day Bender" Curling Iron: I have read terrific things about this curling iron, and as my hair gets longer, I love to give it a wave, so this seems like it would be a fun additional to my arsenal (or yours)!

Emi Jay Hair Ties: These are terrific for punching up a ponytail and keeping your hair creaseless.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask: Another product I have read amazing things about. This is all organic, natural, super good for your skin, etc.

Chanel Hydra Beauty Gel Creme: Wrote about this when I got to try it once at Nordstrom and fell in love with my skin afterwards!

Clinique All About Eyes: This one is always in my medicine cabinet. Love it, and love the price for an eye cream.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream: I have given this as a gift many, many times, and it never disappoints. It is rich and buttery, as the name suggests.

Kiehl's Deluxe Hand and Body Lotion (Grapefruit): The hotel we stayed in over the weekend was stocked with Kiehl's products, and this was the stand out. Both J. and I loved it so much. The scent is delicious.

Nars "The Multiple" in Luxor: I have been looking for a good highlighter and have seen this one pop up in this color in a number of places. If enough people think it's good...must be true!

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment: This is always in my bag, pocket, purse. It is my "take everywhere" lip gloss that moisturizes and provides a touch of color.

Laura Mercier "Color to Go Smokey Violet": I love the palettes that come out around Christmas time, and this one has everything you need for a full face of make-up in a tiny compact size!

Guerlain Meteorites Pearls: Still dying to try these...

Chloe Eau de Parfum Spray: I have put this on my wish list for about three Christmases. Maybe one of these years, I will find it in my stocking! I adore this scent. I bought a tiny roller ball version a few weeks ago, and I'm already almost out!

Birchbox: The perfect gift for the beauty lover. Join me in discovering all sorts of new goodies every month with a Birchbox subscription!

Tomorrow's Gift Guide is for the ladies! If you missed any, here are the two I've done so far: