Friday, November 30, 2012

One for You and One... or More... for Me

To me, holiday shopping is like being a kid in the candy store.  Normally, I am a very calculated shopper and head out with a very specific game plan.  It never fails that – when I have carte blanche – I can’t find anything. 

The complete opposite is true when I am shopping for friends and family during the Christmas season.  For every one gift that I find for a giftee, I always want one for myself or seem to find a plethora of other items that I want under my own tree. 

 Here are a few of my favorite things this holiday season:

 

Wild Fig & Cassis Cologne by Jo Malone. Inspired by breakfast in Tuscany - the moment of breaking open juicy figs, fresh from the tree - Wild Fig & Cassis is a delicious fragrance. The scent of sun-warmed figs and delicate cassis is entwined with notes of hyacinth and cedarwood, enveloping the wearer in the warmth of the Mediterranean.
 

 
Daily Yoga Jacket by Lululemon is a versatile layer we can pull on pre- and post-exercise class. The loose fit and tall, cozy collar make it an easy piece to transition from class to cafe and home again.

 


Bobbi Brown “Uber Nude” eye and lip pallet.  Monday to Sunday, a pocket-sized palette has it covered with Bobbi's most timeless, tried-and-true colors for eyes and lips. With three eyeshadows, two lip colors and a mini glitter lip gloss, the Uber Nude compact includes everything you need to achieve a classic, but modern look.

 

 

Stella & Dot Serenity Stone Drop Earrings.  Need I say more?

 

 
Le Vernis by Chanel comes is a variety of classic and trend-defining shades from the runways of Paris. State-of-the-art formula strengthens and moisturizes nails as it delivers long-wearing, high-shine, chip-resistant colour. The polish applies evenly without streaking.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Couple Finds Reckless Abandon in Spain




Jason and I with Gaudi Architecture in Barcelona, Spain

Right now, my friend Lynn is in Spain with her sweetie and I couldn’t be more envious. 

Back in 2002, my hubby and I had our last solo European sojourn before our son was born. We spent two glorious weeks in Barcelona.

A few days before Lynn departed; I gave her some recommendations while staying in the second largest city in Spain, besides Madrid, and found myself longing for the cobblestone courtyards of Catalonia.

My menagerie of European countries is not as vast as my husband’s but, out of all the countries which I have visited to date; there was something absolutely magical about our vacation in Barcelona.

Right off the bat, it looks like every other European city and, by viewing photos, I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a café in France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark or even London.  However, I think it was our state-of-mind at that period of our lives which made this trip such anadventure.

At 33-years-old, I was grown enough to know that Jason and I were coming to the end of an era.  We had been married 4 years and together for almost a decade; we knew that trying to start a family and the sacrifices that came with that commitment were just around the corner but they were not with us when we arrived in Spain.

Some might say we had a reckless abandon – our journey took us to private parties in abandoned buildings (think Eyes Wide Shut but not quite as risqué), drinking “real” absinthe, dancing at raves in deserted castles until the sun came up, and visiting one of the oldest Amusement Parks in Europe.

From the moment we arrived, we broke our normal travel pattern.  Jason booked us a hotel in the touristy La Rambla district of Barcelona, but only for two nights. 

La Rambla is a tree-lined pedestrian mall located in the center of the city – which houses many shops, restaurants, and boutiques – and is popular with tourists and locals. Despite being fun and hip, it is not where we wanted to stay for thenext two weeks.

Right away, we set off to explore and find apart of the city where we did want to plant our roots.  We traveled up and down the narrow cobblestone paths, but had no luck.  In desperation, we stopped at one hotel located in a very artsy area with lots of cafes and shops.  The lodging was small but very clean and the price was right, but the man at the front desk would not even give us the time of day.

We left discouraged and headed back to the main drag to drown our sorrows in Sangria.
 
The next day, we had to check out of our temporary digs and we went back again. The same desk man was there and Jason was very persuasive – aka – gave him a bribe and we got ourselves a room.
 
We weren’t expecting much so when we opened the door and realized that we had a small balcony that overlooked a cobblestone alley running right into the Plaça de Sant Jaume (where the main roads of the Roman colony Barcino crossed), we were stoked.

We soon realized that we were super lucky to have even found a hotel because we had arrived during La Merce Festival, which is the largest street festival honoring the Patron Saint of Barcelona and celebrates the end of the summer.

To say it was a scene is an understatement.

For a whole week, there were concerts at Plaçade Sant Jaume or human towers being built and – from our balcony we got to watch up close and personal the “Parade of Giants.” 
 
The best event – which we were not privy to until it was literally right upon us – was the fire run. 

Spaniards dressed up like devils and dragons would spray the crowd with flames from sparklers while low flying fireworks were shot up into the sky.  Well we did not get the memo about the danger of this celebration until we were literally getting burned from the sparklers and fireworks.
The smell of burnt flesh was pungent in our noses and the line to the Pharmacia wrapped around the building.  At first, I thought “these people are crazy”but then I realized that they are the same people who drown themselves intomatoes and run with the bulls.
 
We had to escape the mayhem and ended our evening watching a concert in the Plaça de Sant Jaume from our balcony.

We spent the next few days exploring and acclimating ourselves to our new neighborhood. One afternoon, we ambled into the Picasso Museum which houses more than 3,500 works of art from the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, co-founder of the cubist movement.

While there, we saw this eclectic tapas restaurant located within the ruins of an old structure that seemed like a castle.  Jason and I made plans to walk back that evening to have dinner. 

We were not disappointed.  The outdoor restaurant had muted electric lights but it was the hundreds of candles placed among the ruins that truly brought out the ambiance of that establishment. While there, we asked our waiter for recommendations on what to do after our dinner.  He told us that he knew about a secret club and would give us the password so we could attend the party.

Being the paranoid person who I am, I had pretty much made up my mind that I was not going to that party.  All I could think was that it was a set up to rob or mug us.  Luckily, my adventurous husband sent me straight and, after our dinner, we were off on our escapade.

The address our waiter had given us was in one of the courtyards off La Rambla.  We found the address and did a double-take. Could this possibly be the correct place? 


The author with the impressive skyline of Barcelona in the background

As we looked up at the five-story dilapidated building which – no joke – was probably built about the 16th or 17th century, I could not believe that there was a secret party taking place inside.

We did the secret knock and one of those little windows from the days of prohibition slid open.  We said the secret word, “Pipa,” and this massive 10 foot door slowly opened.

Since we didn’t really speak Spanish, we couldn’t really communication, so we just followed the muted sounds of music and voices up several shaky flights of stairs. I thought for sure I was going to fall through at any moment but, of course, we arrived on the top floor safe and sound.

As we pushed open the door into the club, the first thing I noticed was all the hip, chic people who were perfectly placed through the rooms of a gigantic apartment in this abandoned building. 
 
It had no electricity and all the light was coming from hundreds and hundreds of candles placed throughout the club just like at our dinner.  In retrospect: what a cra-zy fire hazard in an ancient abandoned building!  Once again, thank you God for allowing me to survive.

The bar had a line that was mobbed and, when Jason finally got my Tanqueray and tonic (in honor of my first NYC supper club Nell’s), I was disappointed.  Since the club had no electricity, there was no ice. Not to mention that most Europeans seem to have an aversion to ice anyway.

I have chills just thinking about myself choking down that drink.  However, as we explored the various rooms of the club, another (fricken pardon my French) danger that was glaringly obvious…everyone was smoking. 

That’s right, cigars, cigarettes,cigarillos…if you could puff it; it was puffing.  Come to find out pipa in Spanish – not French this time – technically means pipe but that was just the code word for a “smoking club.”

Well, Jason and I – especially Jason – is not fond of smoking of any kind, so we high-tailed it down all 10 flights of stairs and found ourselves safely outside gulping in the clean night air. 

With one adventure of the night behind us, we set off for our next.

…Stay tuned for Part II: One Couple Finds Reckless Abandon in Spain




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Pressure of a Picture Perfect Holiday Card

With all my thanks behind me; and Black Friday and Cyber Monday a distant memory, I am face-to-face with my biggest challenge of the holiday season -- the Mausser Family Christmas Card.

Ah, I remember the good old days when I could actually pick up several boxes of holiday cards at Big Lots (formerly known as Pic N' Save)...are y'all feeling me yet?  For my gal pals, I would proudly choose a cute kitty cat motif; for my peeps back in Jersey, I would always secure a religious nativity scene; and -- for my co-workers -- a "holiday" card would always suffice.

But then, my baby boy was born and so was the pressure.  The first year, we just sort of stumbled across our idea which was printed at CVS  (formerly Sav-on in the 11th hour) and it had a typo.  Arghhhh, as an English major typos are the bane of my existence.  However, the cute picture of 3 month-old Shane laying (face down) naked on a rug made of Mongolian lamb fur with the moniker, "Have you been naughty or nice?" was brilliant; If I might say so myself. 

Although, my late-grandfather thought it a tad racy.

I stumbled through the next few years and, when Shane was three, I captured an amazing photo of him at my Mom's small (non-working) ranch in New Mexico.  It was a simple Snapfish card which also included the lyrics of John Lennon's "Imagine." 

I received so many compliments on this card that my tiny bit of creativity was born.

The next year was a card with photos of Shane -- and some of the family -- which included a quote from the Dali Lama.  I continued the theme which always included a power quote or lyric from a song that promoted world peace and happiness.  My genre was born. 

However, along with the inspiration to create, came the obsession to try and "outdo" myself every year.  Now that we own a house and my formerly accessible disposable income is no longer disposable, I am now trying to get creative on a budget. 

The year I did the Minted card -- which consisted of a photo book and quotes from one of the Beatles...I can't even remember which one because we sent out all of those cards with none to spare...it wasn't quite a mortgage payment but rent on a small apartment.  OMG, you say you didn't get one of those cards?  Yes, if you didn't make the cut you got the alternate Shutterfly card that year. At $400 for 50 cards, sick, I tell you!  Sick!

Last year's card turned out perfect; It was cost-effective and cute.  Which leaves me back at square one...what can I possibly do to outdo myself this year?  The pressure is on!

For the past several days, I have spent hours scouring the Internet for ideas and concepts.  Unfortunately, I did not find anything too motivating but then I had a novel idea.  What is wrong with going back to basics?

Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy.  I must learn to be happy with the simple things in life; I must squash this need to go above and beyond. 

Is it so bad to have a Christmas card that only includes a single photo of my amazing son (so out-of-town relatives can see how much he's grown) and conveys the most sincere message to all of my close friends and family...We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year?

I think not!

A real photo montage of holiday cards from years past.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Under the Mistletoe: Kissable Lips

Softlips® Lip Balm


Thanksgiving is really just the pre-cursor to the holiday that we are all REALLY looking forward to... Christmas.

I was hoping to find a holiday item to post about but, with hours of research under my belt, I couldn't find anything truly blog-worthy.  However, now that the colder weather is upon and the heat is on, I want to let you know about my best-kept, kissable secret: Softlips® Lip Balm.  It is perfect for under the mistletoe.

I love, love, love this lip balm and have been using it for the better part of the decade.  For real!  I keep one in my desk at work, one in my car, one on my night stand and one in my make-up bag.  I am not joking.

According to its website, Softlips® goes beyond moisturizing and protection with a collection of flavors and tints that areperfect for your every mood and moment. So irresistible. So versatile. So you.TM

 

In honor of the season, Softlips®  is offering several holiday flavors: Sugar and Spice; Sugar Plum Berry; Winter Mint; and Sugar Cookie and everything nice; yet my all-time favorite is Vanilla.

Who did you see Santa kissing underneath the mistletoe?  It wasn't me!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Being Thankful in the Blogger-Sphere






I just wanted to take a moment to thank all my readers who have been following All Things Fashionating for the past year and a half. 

I truly never thought that my little blog would or could sustain as long as it has; and I could not have done it without the inspiration my audience.  I am motivated by just knowing that someone or two or three out there has been reading my posts on a regular basis.

However, I know that they have certainly been sporadic of late but only because I have been living my life in the moment and finding it hard to write as much as I had been.  Yet, after the holiday, I have high aspirations to start blogging more frequently again.

In the meantime, I am hoping you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

xo

Tracy



 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Making Waves One Curl at a Time

Conair Minipro Deep Wave Ceramic Styler, $23

I was born with pin-straight, thin, fine hair.  Some may say it is a blessing; however, I think it is a curse.

I have been battling my lack-luster locks for most of my adult life.  Nary a curl or wave will stay in my hair  -- unless you happened to know me in 8th grade -- when I made the poor choice of getting a permanent poodle wave at the mall.  Yes, you just read right.

So, when I saw an ad for the Conair Minipro Deep Wave Ceramic Styler, I was intrigued and could not resist in giving it a try.

The miniature iron has triple barrels which creates tousled waves, while the ceramic coating leaves a smooth and frizz-free finish.

My mini iron arrived on Thursday and it is perfect for my baby fine locks.  For the first time in my life, my hair is making waves.

Ooh, La, La!

http://www.conair.com/minipro-deep-wave-ceramic-styler-p-1077.html

Friday, November 9, 2012

Proud As A Peacock

Kate Landry Social Peacock Minaudiere, $325


With the holidays fast approaching, I am loving all the cute minaudieres out there.  If you are like me, I had to google the meaning of minaudiere which is really an ornately decorated small purse.  Mini clutch would probably suffice, but I just love the way the word minaudiere rolls off the tongue.

So my love of minaduiere and love of peacocks has fused into one bag that, to me, looks like a piece of art.

Kate Landry Social's Peacock Minaudiere retails at Dillard's for $325.

Now that is one proud bird.

http://www.dillards.com/product/Kate-Landry-Social-Peacock-Minaudiere-Clutch-Evening-Bag_301_-1_301_503500771?df=03862053_zi_silver

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mid-week Yoga: Beats This Downward Dog Into Submission




 
To me, Wednesday is my day of spirituality.  Well, as much spirit as one can muster mid-way through the work week.  It seems that the trauma of Monday and Tuesday are behind and, with the promise of another weekend in front of me, I always feel a sense of calm and control right about now.

So today -- in honor of my inner spirit -- I started off the day with a half hour of yoga. 

As anyone who follows this blog knows, I completed a half marathon on the last Sunday of October.  I promptly took the week off from any exercise and luxuriated in sleeping in -- during the week until 6am.  Not necessarily anything to be excited about but, after waking up at 4am a few mornings a week for the past several months, six seemed like noon.  However, despite the early buzz of my alarm clock, I was excited to greet the world with my Sun Salutations.

Well, since it has been more than a year since I have even attempted a series of asanas, yoga beat this downward dog into submission this morning.

My core is strong -- by default -- from all the running I have been doing.  Yet, it has been well over a month since I have done any other sort of strengthening exercises and these wet noodle arms could barely keep my chin off the mat as I attempted chaturanga over and over.  Actually, they are twitching uncontrollably as I sit here and type these words.

However, it felt so good to just stretch my body and it always amazes me how easily my breathing comes while going through the different yoga poses.  I feel as though I spend most of my day with my shoulders hunched somewhere up around my ears and my breathing is as shallow and quick as though I am hyperventilating.

Trying to juggle a busy time at work with my responsibilities as a mom and wife all lumped on top of a myriad of sports and school commitments, I just had to find my own little peace of Zen.

My only deterrent is having to start from the beginning.  I feel that you really have to work hard to get into good yoga shape but, you have to start somewhere and that was on a mat in my living room this morning. 

I would be lying if I didn't say that it was hard and I barely made it through my half hour (which I will hopefully work up to an hour and a half), but it is really the cute Lululemon workout outfits that will keep me going back.

Namaste!




Monday, November 5, 2012

Jersey Strong: Restore. Rebuild. Recover

Relief Aid for Hurricane Sandy Victims in NJ
 
 
 
Ok, enough whining on my end.  Despite all the devastation on the East Coast, it is now time to pick myself up by bootstraps and move on.  Since all my friends and family back on the Jersey Shore are already doing so, I think need to do it as well.  But, being able to lend a helping hand has made this possible for me and made me feel so good in the process.
 
My friend Lisa Pedersen shared a post from another Jersey girl on Facebook.  Laurie Banach Wisniewski, who lives in Redondo Beach but originally hails from Toms River, NJ, spearheaded a Hurricane Sandy relief effort for New Jersey.  Laurie's husband owns a trucking company and the goal was to fill the tractor trailer with provisions for one of the areas hardest hit -- Laurie's own Toms River.
 
I did not even see the post until I was at my son's soccer game on Saturday afternoon; I even missed my little guys goal since I was completely obsessed with figuring out how I could help.
 
In the 11th hour, I was able to rally a few girlfriends -- thank you Tracey, Chana, Jessica, Lisa, and Amanda -- for helping me fill my Toyota FJ to the hilt with clothing, non-perishable food, toiletries, cleaning products, and batteries.  I arrived at Laurie's home around noon and it was "organized chaos" to say the least.
 
Laurie's amazing group of neighbors and friends were there to help. I was grateful and so appreciative of my BFF Rachel who, of course, showed up to help work side-by-side with me on this important cause.  I also met Laurie's neighbor Janet, a former New Jersey resident, who showed her perseverance.  We commiserated about how strong and tenacious people from New Jersey can be and how they will rebuild one of the most beautiful coastlines -- similar to our own South Bay.
 
One true example of this is Laurie.  She is one amazing chick as she toggled between helping coordinate her volunteers and taking care of her 4-month old triplets.  She is an inspiration to me for sure.  Overall, I was so happy to be able to help my people back home and meet other wonderful folks from the South Bay united for a great cause.
 
As I packed up those boxes, I couldn't help but have tears in my eyes for my Motherland.  But I know that she and her people are resilient and they will restore, rebuild and recover because they are "Jersey Strong." 



Saturday, November 3, 2012

11th Hour Request for Donations/Help for Hurricane Sandy Victims

Description: Aerial Views of Hurricane Sandy Devastation
Ariel View of my hometown Ocean Grove. Photo:Andrew Mills
These past several days have been very tense and emotional for me. Hurricane Sandy hit my original home -- the Jersey Shore -- with a vengeance.  My loved ones faced a natural disaster at epic proportions and the aftermath has been paralyzing.

It wasn't until this past Thursday that I was able to account for all of my family and friends back home  -- most of whom still don't have electricity, water or gas.  I was so happy to hear that all are safe and sound, but I am devastated by how many have lost so much.

I have been receiving online alerts from my local hometown newspaper, The Asbury Park Press, and I know that my people are banding together to get through this tragedy. But, I have been wanting to help out in some way and feeling so helpless that I couldn't...until about two hours ago.

I saw a post on Facebook, which had been shared by a friend, about another Jersey Girl who lives in Redondo.  Laurie is packing up a tractor trailer to take supplies to New Jersey first thing Monday morning.

I know it is the 11th hour, but if you have anything to donate, please let me know.

Jersey needs things such as: D Batteries, Non-perishable food, shampoo, soap, hygiene items, glasses, feminine products, coats, gloves, hats, scarves, pillows, blankets, storage containers, pet food and supplies, and cleaning supplies.  However, anything would help!!!!

I will be headed over to help Laurie to pack up the donations for a few hours tomorrow.  She said she needs extra hands more than anything, so if anyone would like to join me, let me know.

I know that Jersey is the brunt of a lot of jokes..."What exit you from?" It has been misrepresented by shows like the "Jersey Shore," "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," and "Jerseylicious,"  but it is truly one of the most beautiful states with the most loyal and tenacious people please help them if you can.

If you live in the South Bay, please let me know if you are willing and able to help on such short notice.