It’s without a doubt that 2010 was the most memorable year of my life. From getting married down to getting my wisdom teeth out, the year was packed full of many amazing, positive memories, mixed with some extremely challenging and tough times. But looking back it was a period in my life with cause for great celebration.
The joy of a wedding, the memories of a honeymoon, the adjustments as a Mr. and Mrs., the surprise of a career change, the peace in my mom’s healing, the learning as a new wife, the fun in rediscovered hobbies, the opportunity to travel, and the challenge of a new job.
I’m sure you can relate to a year of ups and downs. It’s like I tell Chris, sometimes I find it hard to be a grown up. But as I took a trip down memory lane through my 2010 agenda today, I felt humbled and thankful.
As I sign off and head to ring in 2011 with champagne, chocolate fondue and my wonderful husband, I’m reminded that there is always hope in our circumstances, always something positive to embrace and always good to look forward to.
Happy New Year, friends. I can’t wait to see where 2011 takes us.
The most ho-hum ensembles come to life with a little love from add-ons like scarves, jewelry, belts and bags. Can you tell I’ve been in Texas? Southern ladies are all about glitz and glam, and as an accessories girl I always love to scope how the Texan gals are jazzing things up. I left my scrunchies in the 80s but have recently been into hair accessories that add interest and fun to my otherwise classic locks. Feather clips, headbands and decorated bobby pins are my favourites.
Like most girls, I came to the pre-wedding crossroads- veil or no veil? This is tough stuff. Yes, it’s one fleeting day, but those photos live on and heaven forbid you make a bad call on your bridal hairpiece. From the get-go, I knew I wasn’t a veil bride. I fell in love with a Toni Federici satin and Swavorsky crystal hairband before I found my dress.
If you’re feeling brave enough to spice up your daily look with some hair accessories, Etsy is a great place to start.
These shops are great for styling inspiring and a perfect place to pick out some fun handmade pieces. I was feeling crafty myself and made these headbands for my sisters as thank you gifts for hosting me at their house in Texas last week. I designed them using bits and pieces from my sewing and craft boxes.
I'm hoping you are inspired to do as the Texans do and mix up your regular accessorizing. A hair piece is a great place to start.
I got back last night from a short jaunt down to Texas. It was a wonderful few days and even as I enjoyed the sunny weather, the trip got me excited for the holidays. Texans know how to celebrate anything and everything and Christmas is no exception. Returning home, I can’t wait to get cooking, decorating, crafting and hosting. I’ve already worked out the perfect theme for our tree, planned my list of festive baking and started shopping for gifts. With snow on the ground, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas is coming.
Here's an idea that was a huge hit at our wedding rehearsal dinner and with a few tweaks this would be a blast at a holiday party. All you need is some fabric, mini chalkboards and chalk, a volunteer with a good camera, and you’ve got yourself a DIY photo booth. Most importantly, you’ll also need some awesome party guests waiting to get into the spirit of the season.
At our rehearsal dinner, we hung two pieces of patterned fabric as backdrops, had guests write messages on chalkboards, and pose for photos. A simple concept, but a big success.
I’m seeing festive plaid fabric, sparkly holiday outfits and merry messages to create a Christmas version. Props could be fun too. Think eggnog, mistletoe and Santa hats. Get creative!
I wondered how the photo booth would be received at our dinner, but it turned out to be a great addition to the night and everyone participated from the kids to grandparents. If you add a festive photo booth to your holiday party, send me your snap shots. I’d love to see your version of the fun.
What's the most unique idea you've seen at a holiday party?
November hits and Christmas seems to just want to burst at the seams. Coffee shops, bookstores, television ads, grocery stores. Everywhere you look, we’re ready to welcome December with anything and everything to celebrate the commencement of the holiday season. Christmas is only a short while away.
Fellow list lovers, I know you’ve already been busy, as have I. Wish lists, guest lists, baking lists, gift lists, card lists, play lists and party lists. As I started to brainstorm what to buy for friends and family, I wanted to share a little gift giving inspiration. I got to thinking about some of my favourite gifts I've received and products I'm loving that would make for great presents.
“Seasons” by Donna Hay A recent gift from Chris, this cookbook is a collision of impressive seasonal recipes and the most amazing photography and food styling. It's earned a prominent place in my kitchen and doubles as a beautiful coffee table book.
The comfort and warmth of the boot, but for the indoors. A Christmas gift from last year, these cozy slippers quickly become a winter staple.
A girlie apron Like closet, like pantry, I own several aprons to match my moods and menus. One of my favourites is a hand sewn black and white apron that was a wedding shower gift from my sister. These lovelies are from Anthropologie, who also carry several matching mini versions. A perfect mommy-daughter gift.
Circle scarf I recently received a similar version in peacock blue. A circle scarf is versatile and practical, making it a perfect can't-go-wrong gift. Julie and Julia Okay, so this movie is totally old news, but I am still inspired every time I watch it. It's made my top ten list, competing with the likes of Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses. Don't judge me...
Some smaller treats to stuff those stockings.
Voluspa candles A long standing favourite of mine, these candles boast pretty packaging and beautiful scents.
Le Pen With a super fine tip and an array of interesting colours, these are my go-to pens for cards and letters.
Rosebud salve This multi-purpose salve smells gorgeous and can be used for everything from dry skin to diaper rash. I keep it on hand to protect my pout. Rosebud also has an equally delicious strawberry counterpart.
Moleskine weekly notebook A fellow Anthro manager swears by this planner and I can't wait 'til 2011 hits so I can start filling mine with organizational goodness. With a spot for lists opposite each weekly calendar, it's a great way to keep your to-do's and appointments all in one place.
Nail polish I love jewel tones and I love nail polish. Sephora by O.P.I. polishes come in a bazillion shades, the price is right and they tend to last. Fall nail trends are showing purples, metallics, neutrals and gem tones as the main players.
Hope this gets you thinking about your own gift lists or wish lists or whatever lists. Stay tuned for many more Christmas prep tips. Happy holiday planning!
With a blog on the mind, I’m acutely aware of my surroundings and daily happenings. I’m always on the lookout for a great idea, photo opportunity and inspiration to share with you. While reading my October Bon Appetit, I came across the most intriguing story about a fabulous gal from LA.
Short of the long, Melissa McClure is a jewelry designer who started hosting friends on Sunday nights for soup and socializing. She named the evening, Soupapolooza!, and it’s turned into a crazy successful time of sharing with friends and a great little blog of recipes, photos and fun.
I absolutely love stories of small, unique ideas that turn into wild successes. It was cool to read about Melissa’s Sunday night soup ritual, because Chris and I had unofficially started a similar evening in our home.
We love to cook and constantly end up making big, elaborate meals for six, when there’s only two to feed. We decided to share the love (and food) and have friends over for causal Sunday suppers. We’ve done quick and easy chili, roast chicken or lasagna. Sometimes it's only a party for three and sometimes we eat on the couch, but either way we're doing what we love. Cooking and eating with friends.
Inspired by Soupapolooza! and the crisp November weather, last night for Sunday night supper we made soup. Farmhouse butternut squash soup and the insanely easy but impressive Pinoneer Woman’s homemade dinner rolls.
Hot soup, fresh buns, good company. Suddenly makes the Sunday night blues fade far away. Go check out Melissa’s Soupapolooza! blog and while you’re at it, cruise your favourite food sites for some recipes to host your own Sunday supper and share the joy of food and friends.
I’ve tried hard to keep the newlywed mushiness to a minimum here on Alexandra’s Joys, but today I can’t help but share what’s on my mind.
My new job is in full swing and I couldn’t be enjoying myself more. That said, things are hectic. There is so much to do and learn and contrary to my typical organized self, this morning was a bit rough. To begin, I was running late, couldn’t find a tank to layer under my great new Anthropologie Bretonnes blouse and then the jewel went flying off my feather headband the moment I put it on my head. Rough, I know.
In attempts to load my various items into the car, I spilled coffee all over the sunroof. Rattled that I was out three sips of java, away I drove into a.m. traffic. Red light, nice, I loaded up on the hand lotion. And there went one of my diamond wedding bands off into SUV oblivion. A panicked phone call to my hubby followed.
That little recap brings me to what my husband's morning looked like:
7 a.m. Wake up to frazzled wife cuz she’s late
7:30 a.m. Drive to fill up SUV with gas for wife who didn’t do it last night cuz she was in a skirt and heels
7:45 a.m. Pick up frantic wife’s favourite coffee
8:00 a.m. Make breakfast for hungry wife
8:15 a.m. Back to bed, Zzzz…
8:30 a.m. Panicked phone call from crying wife
9 a.m. Drive to mall to search SUV for lost diamond wedding band
9:15 a.m. Deliver found diamond wedding band to wife at work
9:30 a.m. Home to try and catch some sleep before a night shift
Prior to today's drama, I arrived home earlier this week from training in Edmonton and found a clean house, a list of to-do’s checked off and no laundry. I was also greeted by flowers from Pease Blossoms, the Sex and the City 2 DVD and a set of beautiful handmade cards. From our first date to our engagement, in the good times and the rough patches, he has been calm, caring and consistent.
You know those people in your life that make you want to be less selfish, more giving and more forgiving? My husband is that person for me. He is in simplest terms, a really good man.
I was blessed with an amazing dad, a great brother and now an incredible husband. I hope this inspires you to recognize and appreciate the good men in your life. Share with me about the good men you know. I’d love to hear and I’m sure they would too.
Greetings from the Metterra Hotel in Edmonton. It’s my first week of training with Anthropologie and I am happily absorbed in the world of fashion and home design retail.
I don’t mind living out of a suitcase for a week or so, and there’s something refreshing about soft white towels, crisp sheets and coming home to a clean room every night. However, my fondness for a hotel is typically decided on by the brand of the bathroom amenities.
While staying at the 6 Columbus in New York, I “stole” the Kiehls products every day until the cleaning staff caught on that I wasn’t actually washing my hair that much. Here at the Metterra, they have a great selection of Pharmacopia, a fantastic line of organic bodycare products.
I’m pretty product-happy and always travel with an extended supply of my own, so the tiny bottles in the rented rooms can go unused. So I like to keep the surplus hotel products and set them out for overnight guests. (*Note – when I say tiny bottles, I don’t mean the ones in the mini fridge. Those aren’t free!).
When we host, I"ll to write a welcome note and leave out the mini amenities, fresh towels, a book or magazine, water, and other fun treats like chocolate or fruit. Guests always feel more at home when they’re greeted with goodies in their room.
We bought a couple of these bedside carafes from Crate and Barrel to leave water out for overnighters.
This cute idea warrants a shout out to my label-maker-lovin’ friend, Rachel, who on a weekend visit had these personalized cups waiting for my hubby and I in the bathroom. Adorable.
It's thoughtful to leave some local reading for guests to relax with. Avenue is a great Calgary lifestyle magazine about food, style, arts and culture.
An alarm clock is a practical addition to your guest room. I bought this little vintage inspired cheapie at Ikea.
Attention to detail can make or break a hotel stay and the same goes for hosting in your home. So make sure to take those little lotions and potions when you’re jet setting abroad and make your next visitors feel like they’re camping at the W.
I have a lovely grandmother. When I was little and sad or sick, she always let me try on her diamond rings. Even at age four, sparkly jewels made me feel better. Now when I go home to visit she often catches me rummaging through her jewelry box. Although she still wears most of it, she’s handed over some amazing pieces to add to my small but growing collection.
She bought these earrings when she was in her twenties. I love that I'm wearing them this many years later in my twenties as well.
I love this delicate ring and wear it all the time. It came from another one of my jewelry box heists, but originally hails from Europe.
This bracelet, circa 1954, came from an island in Greece called the Island of Rhodes.
Remember the gold watch on my Fall fashion hunting list? Well over Thanksgiving weekend while I was visiting with my grandma, she gave me the most amazing gold watch with a tiny diamond on the face. Gorgeous. It’s no Marc Jacobs, but it belonged to my grandpa who was quite a classy man. He bought it in Barbados while on vacation.
This aquamarine, pearl and gold necklace came from Turkey and belonged to my great, great grandmother. Aquamarine is known as the stone of Greece and is extremely popular in the area.
I’d been on the hunt for the most amazing, delicate, sparkly, drop earrings for my wedding. Yet again, my grandma came through for me and I wore these white sapphires from Greece on my big day. They were my something old.
For my 25th birthday, my parents gave me this chic chunky gold ring with a diamond moon and star. It belonged to my dad’s mom and was made by a family friend in Montreal who often handcrafted her jewelry.
Lastly, a remarkable brown leather Gruen watch of my grandpa's. It’s versatile and classic. The back of the face is inscribed with the name, Ron. Which happens to be the name of both my grandpa and my dad. It feels special to wear.
Wearing vintage jewelry gives you a certain feeling. There’s always a story to accompany an old watch, bracelet or earrings. That history makes the piece far greater than a material object because it was a part of someone’s life.
Do you wear a favourite vintage or family piece of jewelry?
Leaving a job is a lot like a breakup. Both require awkward conversations, the giving back of stuff and the much anticipated final goodbye. I discovered this comparison last week after I gave my notice at the job I’ve been faithful to for almost three years. I found myself using phrases like:
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
“I just don’t see this working out long term.”
“We’ll keep in touch and still be friends.”
“We both want different things.”
Wanting different things is what it all boiled down to. My career was headed one way but my heart was somewhere else. Through a series of events it became overwhelmingly clear that it was the right time for a big change.
This week marks my last days at a job that launched my career coming out of college and I can’t be thankful enough for the opportunities I was given and the experience I gained. I am saying farewell to a large, successful company, a window office (that I’ve only had for a week!), some truly amazing colleagues and friends, and the career path that “makes sense”.
Often it’s not about what makes sense on paper, for your bank account or to those around you. It’s about taking a risk, trying something new and listening to your heart. Cheesy, but true.
On Friday, I close the door on an invaluable and stretching experience. On Monday, I open the door to a whole other world.
I debated admitting this publicly, but as a child I used to cry on all my siblings birthdays. I'm not sure if it was because someone else was getting gifts or cake or parties or attention. But I am sure that I've since come a long way from those days of pouting in the corner while everyone cheerily sang happy birthday and ate cake.
Minus that confession, I am excited for this post. But like my birthday, I had to wait for it. I’d sent my little sis a lovely box of treasures for her 20th bday but had to hold off until she received the package to write about it.
Getting mail is the best, so I always try to send a treat for my long distance loved ones birthdays. Themes are always fun, so for Brooklynne’s special day I made her a birthday party in a box.
The heart of a good party is food, so I got started with an insanely delicious Sprinkles red velvet cupcake mix from Williams Sonoma.
My first taste of Sprinkles was in Los Angeles this summer. My super thoughtful gf, Mindy, met Chris and I at LAX with a box of newlywed themed red velvets. We destroyed them before we hit Sunset Blvd.
I included some cupcake décor in the package like little bird candles, mini DIY pennant flags and dessert napkins of a Paris map.
I got all giddy about florals at Fabricland and decided to make a birthday garland. A homemade banner or garland beats balloons and streamers any day and I’m hoping my sis will hang it in her room so the party can keep on going all year long.
Every gal needs a little something pretty and new to wear on her big day, so I bought Brooklynne an awesome necklace with a pink globe and camera charm from Steeling Home.
I bundled up the joy in a box decorated in wrapping paper and doilies. Off to Texas it went, ready for a celebration honouring a special girl. Hopefully no one cries at her party.
What's the most creative gift you've ever given or received?
I wish to brighten your day with a little inspiration. Inspiration to try something new. Inspiration to find joy in cooking and crafting, entertaining and styling, writing and sharing. I’m Alexandra Joy and I have many joys to share.