Monday, March 31, 2014

Treasure hunting

I am a sucker for vintage shops. It is like a treasure hunt for me. I definitely get a high when I see something I love and have got to bring home. Two weeks ago I went thrifting with my great friend Becca (who also loves vintage pieces). We hit a couple places and I did find two great pieces at Hey Betty! The first piece I saw the minute I walked in the door! 

It's a beautiful black sweater with a fabulous fox fur collar. It has a beautiful buckle in the front as well as a small jeweled button on the end of each sleeve. For me it was love at first sight. You can dress up any outfit with this piece. It reminiscent of old Hollywood fashion.

I also found a great necklace. It has a great gold tone color and a great locket with a large turquoise stone. You can wear this with a great maxi dress or jeans and a white shirt!


Friday, March 28, 2014

have a sweet weekend!

Patisserie print from one of my favorite Etsy shops

I think some sweets are in order, don't you? Waking up to snow on Wednesday?? For realz?! Though my friend pointed out that it did snow on the exact same day last year. But this weeks snow capped off a loooong winter and seemed completely unnecessary amiright? I thought I would do a round-up of some of the candy-esque recipes I've tried. I love when we have a small stock of one-bite treats, for birthdays, or out-of-town guests, or just because its Wednesday. (I wish, so badly, that I had some pictures of any of these recipes. I'm sure somewhere I snapped a iPhone picture but I just couldn't find any in the depths of our external hard drive.)

{Barefoot Contessa's Fleur de Sel Caramels}If I'm being totally honest, I initially made these so I had an excuse to use the adorable parchment paper wrappers...

{Homemade Marshmallows via Smitten Kitchen} Most store bought marshmallows are not kosher (they contain gelatin, and gelatin is made from...well, nevermind) but for my precious, first-born daughters first birthday we were having a hot cocoa bar and you can't have a hot cocoa bar with marshmallows, so I thought I *must* make homemade marshmallows. It was a lot of effort, and a big mess in a tiny apartment kitchen (I'm talking every surface covered in goo, including yours truly) but completely worth it.

{Sweet and Salty Frito Candy from Couldn't Be Pareve} This is a go-to pareve/non-dairy dessert for me. Once you make it, you can store it in the freezer and then you have a (somewhat dangerous) supply of a treat that will satisfy no matter what you're craving. If you decide to try it, instead of the peanut butter bar that she mentions, I just swirl in gobs of peanut butter during the chocolate-swirling step.

{Twix Bars! via Sugar & Spice} These were super yummy, though I am curious what other, similar recipes (like this) might taste like - the idea of salt on top intrigues me. Full disclosure: the shortbread in the original recipe was a little crumbly/dry.

If you try any of these let me know! The rainy weekend coming up (at least for the East Coast) might be the perfect excuse to play in the kitchen!

til the chocolate chips,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How-To Create the Perfect Photo Wall

I just recently completed a project I started 6 months ago, creating a photo wall in my house and I couldn’t be happier with the finished results. This project went on so long because I had no guidance, so I want to help others who would like to create a wall of memories but don’t know where to begin.

There are three major components to think about before taking out the hammer and nails: 

1.) What do you want your main focal point to be – your middle of the wall, build everything around that photo (your focal point can also be a quote, an initial, a monogram or whatever else you would like). Mine is a photo to canvas of my husband and I from our wedding.

2.) Deciding on a theme for your frames – rustic, metal, glass, antique, all one color, etc. – I went with the distressed look for my frame choices.

3.) Finding the right balance. What I mean by this is finding the right balance between frames, photos (horizontal and vertical), any three-dimensional pieces you would like to incorporate onto your wall. I never realized how few photos I have that are vertical until I began this project. A majority of my photos are horizontal, but the way I managed to arrange everything on the wall works perfectly.

Once you have considered the above, it’s time to start looking through your photos for the ones you want to include on your proudly displayed new photo wall. For me this was the most difficult part, deciding which photos make the cut and which don’t. I love taking pictures so the choices were endless. I will be married two years this May, so for me having a well-represented group of pictures from the wedding was important to me. From there I accumulated a great mix of family, friends and travel to round out the mix. 

In addition to photos, I purchased a wood letter “S” (for my last name) at the craft store and wrapped it in a pretty paper and mounted it to a unique frame. You can also paint your letter, cover it with glitter, wallpaper or anything else you can think of. I also wanted my photo wall to have some quotes and words mixed in with the frames. Home Goods always has a great selection of quotes mounted on canvas. 

Once the stage is set (a focal point is decided on, framers are purchased, pictures printed and three dimensional words/quotes are bought) it’s time to start laying this out on the floor to see where you want to place everything. Start with your main focal item and work your way out. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t like your initial lay out, or pat yourself on the back if you laid it out perfectly in one try. 

After that, it’s time to get started. Measure your wall where you would like the photos to go. Decisions to be made here: how far (width wise) on the wall you want to go and how high (from the ceiling) and low (from the floor) you want to start and end. Try to keep the span of your photo wall in some type of a range. What I mean by this is, work on creating a horizontal line with your picture frames, both at the top and bottom of your display.  

Now it’s time to get out that hammer and nails and start hanging. Note – once we started hanging the middle focal items and the frames surrounding it, our original layout and design we created on the floor in our spare bedroom changed (and that’s okay!) Once you’ve gotten the core of your frames up on the wall it’s okay to deviate from the plan a bit.  

Happy hanging – I hope you enjoy your photo wall as much as I’m enjoying mine!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Palettes in my everyday

These are some of the pallets that I have been loving lately. Easy to use colors and great pigments. I'll go through them one by one. 

1. Too Faced The Return of Sexy palette. 

The Return of Sexy
I really love this palette. You have your neutral pinky goldish tones, rosy purplish tones and black silver palette. The shadows are very pigmented and very easy to blend. Great set to throw in your everyday makeup bag. You can do a look for day or a great look for a night out. 

2. Naked3 by Urban Decay palette

 This is my newest palette. It's mostly rosy pinky tones. These colors are so beautiful and I am having a lot of fun using them. In my opinion, these are great tones for spring and summer. I highly suggest adding this to your makeup collection. 

3. Smashbox The Master Class Palette II

This has to be my most all encompassing palette yet. I bought this during the 2013 holiday season and if you can get you're hands on one, I would. It comes with 28 shadows ranging from neutrals, blues, greens, blues, pinks, and purples, 4 gel liners, 5 great blushes, 1 bronzer and two highlighters. Talk about a great piece to anyone's makeup collection. It's a MUST have!!!!!!


Friday, March 21, 2014

TGIS...thank goodness its spring

Hope you all got your free Rita's yesterday (mmm, Swedish Fish is my fave)! I, however, have been awaiting, not the arrival of spring, but the arrival of Frozen in my mailbox. This movie is er-mazing. Oh wait, I mean my daughter thinks its amazing. Right. Her. The 3 year old is obsessed. Not the 30 year old. Right. But it has arrived, along with spring, so all is right with the world.

Speaking of frozen, icy things...spring! Since we bought the house (and once I got my act together after having baby #2 a year and a half ago) I've been doing seasonal mantel decorations. Started out pretty lame with 4th of July 2013 but I've been working on it. I really, really try to use things that I've got around the house, but if I think to stalk Michael's for 40% off (or even better, the rare 50% off) coupons, then I might buy one or 2 items...usually something floral-y. Some elements of my mantel decor are permanent and then I just sub out seasonal stuff to fill in as needed. Please note the exceptionally classy child-proofing strips on the edge of the hearth. We usually have a couch on one side and chairs on the other to protect the corners. Graham's a little daredevil!

child-proofing really adds a little je ne sais quoi, no?
As life has leveled out somewhat in the post-infancy months, I've also been having fun with Photoshop Elements. Is it too stay-at-home-mom cliche to say that it provides a wonderful creative outlet? It is? Oh well. Because it is! I love it. I've been making all kinds of fun things - birthday decorations, some wall decor for one of my besties, and now, a printable to add to my seasonal mantel. And just for a little Friday fun, and to spread the spring cheer to all the land, here's the 8x10 in case you want to download it for your own self. Just right-click on the image and save it to your computer. Let me know in the comments if it doesn't work!

a few of my favorite spring things

yours til the butter flies,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Diamonds...This Girls Best Friend

Fooled you … I’m not talking about the sparkly, flawless gemstones that many, if not all girls, would love to be showered with. I’m talking about the baseball diamond, America’s favorite past time. Don’t stop reading just yet, baseball has its perks. Good looking men in tight pants, cold beer, and stadium food that’s sinfully delicious.

This blog post is a mix of baseball, spring training and one of baseball’s sexiest players and nicest guys … Derek Jeter, captain of the New York Yankees, one of New York’s most eligible bachelors and a true “mensch” both on and off the field.

Spring training 2014 is now in full swing – and teams have clustered in the Valley of the Sun, dubbed the Cactus League (Arizona) and scattered across the coasts and center of the state in the Grapefruit League (Florida). Players aren’t the only ones enjoying the warmth of both Arizona & Florida, fans flock to Spring Training destinations to catch their favorite teams in action and enjoy some R&R.

the original Yankee Stadium
While sports like Football & Hockey are much more grueling on the body, they play far less games than Major League Baseball (MLB) players. The NFL (National Football League) plays 16 games a season, the NHL (National Hockey League) 82 games and MLB plays 162 games during their season (all numbers are excluding the post season). 

Say what you want about baseball players, but playing 162 games a year, sometimes leaving for their next city straight after a game and often not returning home for days on end (bouncing from one city to another) can take a toll on the body. 

Hence leading me to the topic of retirement and why on average a MLB player retires around the age of 32 (according to Although a Philly girl through and through, I grew up a Yankee fan and a diehard Derek Jeter fanatic! Although Jeter has well exceeded the average retirement age (he’s 39), he’s also known for training throughout the year and keeping his body in shape, which helps a player stay in the game they love a bit longer. 

Derek Jeter is the final member of the “Core 4,” a nickname given to Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte (pitcher), Jorge Posada (catcher) and Mariano Rivera (pitcher), all New York Yankee players. All four players were drafted or originally signed as Yankees in the early 90’s. Each played together in the minors and made their major league debuts in 1995. All key contributors to the Yankees late 90’s World Series wins (four wins to be exact, in five years). 

Jeter announced he will retire after the 2014 season, telling ESPN he’s simply ready to being the second half of his life. 

As both a Yankee and Derek Jeter fan, the Bronx Bombers just won’t be the same without him next year. But like all things in life, things change. I look forward to watching the next generation of the “Core 4” take the field and rooting them on to have as a successful career as #2 has had!

The start of the 2014 MLB season will kick off in Sydney, Australia on March 22nd between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. All other teams will kick off their season on U.S. soil starting March 30th. 

Until next time... 


Monday, March 17, 2014

a Jersey girl in Pittsburgh

I'm a 100% Portuguese Jersey girl living in Pittsburgh. I grew up in New Jersey and met my husband in seventh grade. We were friends for years after that, till we came together again and BINGO! I married the love of my life in September 2011. Soon after that my husband got promoted and BAM! I was quitting my job and moving to Pittsburgh. It was a crazy two months…jesus…lol. Since then, I became a dog mommy to my labradoodle, Tucker, built a new home, started my makeup artist business, and have been on a journey to have a baby. I will be sharing my life and interests with you along the way. I love everything beauty, clothes, cooking and much more.

why, hello there

Hi! I’m Em and I’m married to my high school sweetheart Justin and we have 2 really, quite adorable children, Sally and Graham* (and I am totally biased, but it’s still the truth). In the past 6 years, I’ve gotten engaged, married, moved 5 times (sniff, sniff...still miss DC), left my job, had a baby, bought a house, and had another take that, job interviewer circa 2007 – that’s where I see myself in 5ish years! I get stupidly happy when I make a yummy (and kosher) meal, or bake a treat, or decorate (some days I settle for straightening) a room, or watch The West Wing, or manage to keep a plant alive, or giggle with my sister, or re-read a Harry Potter book, or wear stripes, or dream about going to Paris.

My family and friends are my life support. For the hard, heavy, real-life stuff, and also for those little every day moments when you need to feel like part of a team. FaceTime-ing with grandparents during the 5:00pm bewitching hour (aka the hour when your kids become crazy, irrational, maniacal dictators), a quick outfit selfie for last minute approval (can I really wear a chambray shirt under that?!), comparing notes on favorite, easy dinners, or the thank-goodness-my-sister-is-a-nurse-what-is-this-rash phone call. 

These every day moments will inspire most of what I blog about - and through posts and comments (that's where all the good stuff is anyway!), three girls three cities can be place where we know our friends are hanging out, ready to help whenever and wherever we may be!

*names have been changed to give some privacy to the non-bloggers in the family