Merci Beaucoup!

I recently celebrated my 22nd birthday and was blessed with very sweet and thoughtful gifts from my family and friends. It’s always been important to me to send thank-you notes, letting the giver know how I appreciate the time, thought, and money they generously spent on me.

I’ll admit that when I was younger, Mom would have to force me to sit down and write them all (it can be a tad overwhelming when you turn 18 and your entire church congregation attends your party), but now that I’m older I’ve found a few ways to enjoy it…

Don’t be lazy.

Emailed thank-yous aren’t nearly as personal as handwritten ones. That little bit of extra effort goes a long way in showing you are truly grateful.

Don’t procrastinate.

It’s best to write your notes as soon as you can. If you’re running behind, remember that it’s better to send a late note than nothing at all. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed with that huge list staring you down, break it up and write the notes on different days.

Don’t be boring.

Invest in some stationery, woman! These are pretty irresistible…

Target – Monogram Notecards

Tiny Prints – Pink Birds on a Branch

Wedding Paper Divas – Little Bird

Wedding Paper Divas – Modern Paisley

A thank you card is the perfect way to show appreciation for something a person has given. Remember that when someone receives a thank you note they feel stronger about that person’s character, they feel as if they’re important enough to you to be worth your time, and the bonus… you give them that all-too-rare, simple pleasure of opening an envelope that isn’t junk mail!

I also think it’s a fabulous idea to have plenty of extra cards in case of emergency. I keep a box of birthday, thank-you, anniversary, and even blank cards for those last minute uh-oh moments. If it happens, there’s no reason for anyone to know. ;)

For the Jewelry-Obsessed

I will be the first to admit I have a little obsession with jewelry… and by little, I mean monstrous. One trip to the mall will mean at least two long necklaces, a pair of dangling earrings, and the occasional huge statement ring. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong. My ever-growing collection has taken up residence in various drawers, bowls, and plastic baggies in a tangled, jumbled mess. Just this morning I reached in one of the piles, aiming for my triple layered, 18″ gold chain necklace, only to pull out 23 others. Spending three hours untangling them was not on my agenda – such a nightmare.

I found these adorable, functional jewelry stands at Urban Outfitters. They keep your delicate pieces neatly separated, while being decorative and stylish. These are such great little things, and much more practical than a dusty old drawer.

Little Birch Jewelry Stand

Earring Stand

Little Birdie Jewelry Stand


Delight! I love the Little Birch stand, but I just don’t think it’d do the job for me. The Little Birch Forest, perhaps?

The Duties of the Matron of Honor

I recently had the privilege of hosting a few events for my best friend who is a soon-to-be-Mrs., and let me tell you… what a rush of a weekend! Her bridal shower was held in our church’s banquet hall, where a full buffet style lunch and dessert was served. The guest list topped out at about 80 women, which, thankfully, was only half the amount that was invited!

The following afternoon, the bridesmaids and I threw a smaller, more intimate lingerie party for the bride, where my amazing friend Christa prepared the most delicious pinwheel sandwiches in the universe (I ate all the leftovers myself). The photo above shows the food table (we snapped this shot half-way through the serving, hence the slice of cherry cheesecake floating in the middle), where you can see the stacks of those addicting pinwheels, chocolate dipped strawberries and marshmallows, pasta salad, and a few other goodies. It’s not the most flattering angle, but just know it was cuter in person! :)

I found this great, online party store, Social Couture, and I am absolutely in love! They sell table settings and decorations for all sorts of parties and events (if you take a look at the Girl’s Night Out, you can see where I tried to recreate some ideas…and somewhat failed). What a perfect idea for a hostess! I have my eye on the Black Vine collection, and I’m trying to convince my husband that I’d get our money’s worth out of it if he ever decided to buy it for me (not likely). I’m such a sucker for anything remotely close to toile — I’d honestly be throwing a party every night if I owned those cute plates!

Would You Like a Spot of Tea?

Mmm, tea. Whether you prefer it over ice while sitting on your front porch, or steaming hot with honey while reading a good book, you can’t deny it’s the perfect beverage.

There are endless varieties and flavors – white, black, green, chai, flavored with syrups and enhanced with fruit – but my absolute favorite way to enjoy it is hot, with one lump of sugar out of a sweet little tea cup.

My Grammy started a family tradition of Girl’s Day when I was about 8 years old. Grammy, Mom and I would all get dolled up and have high tea, complete with finger sandwiches and cranberry scones, at the Victoria Rose Cottage. It’s a treasured tradition that we still enjoy today, almost 15 years later. It’s such a delight to sit and visit in such a lovely atmosphere with my two favorite ladies.

If you’ve never experienced hot tea, make it a priority! It’s the ultimate, girlie treat. The Republic of Tea is a well known distributor, and offers some very delicious flavors. Ginger Peach is my all-time favorite… I carry a travel size tin in my purse for whenever I need a quick fix.

A less-popular, but equally fantastic choice is Culinary Teas. My Mom had me hooked on Caribbean Blue Lady after the first sip.

Do you have a treasured, girlie tradition? A collection of tea pots? A yummy recipe for scones? Do tell…

Forgiving, yet Stylish Options for the Lactose Intolerant

Those of you who bloat beyond recognition after eating anything with dairy — I feel your pain! Lactose intolerance is the devil. I can’t even look at fettucine alfredo without my stomach ballooning into oblivion.

Thankfully, after years of experience I have mastered the art of hiding the great bloated beast, while still remaining fabulously sassy and stylish… not to mention, humble. ;)

Fortunately, with all the great trends of the moment, you can wear a loose-fitting tops and dresses without the danger of being mistaken as pregnant. That happened to me once and ONLY ONCE, and you better believe I burned that yellow top without a second thought!

Keep these tips in mind next time you go shopping — they help me every day!

  • Big, baggy t-shirts defeat the purpose of aiming for cuteness. Stop right now and ask for forgiveness for allowing that thought to enter your pretty little head!
  • Stay away from anything too short. If the hem of your shirt hits you anywhere near the danger zone, you might as well just wear your bra, because you’re not hiding anything. (I’m kidding — please don’t!)
  • Be wary of ribbed sweaters, and any fabric that is too thin, stretchy, or clingy.
  • Just because it’s loose, doesn’t mean it’ll do the job! Garments should still fit your frame and body type without hanging awkwardly, pulling, or looking just down-right dumpy.
  • A well-fitted camisole worn under a flowing garment will give that extra support without adding bulk.
  • Empire waists are your holy savior. Stick with them, and no one will be able to tell you had that frappuccino with extra whip. Not that I’m condoning that sort of behavior.
  • Wrap dresses can be a lifesaver as well. Most items that are belted at the waist can give the illusion of a slimmer mid-section.
  • You know that girl friend of yours that tells the absolute, blunt truth when you really don’t want to hear it? When in doubt, ask her opinion. She will come in handy.

Some great, affordable options:

Dresses

Tops

What are your figure-flattering tricks? I know I’ve only scratched the surface…