Sequins Are Taking Over My Life

Let me tell you guys – December has been a banner month for me and sequins.

I know saying “Hello, lover,” is probably passé by now, but …

Sequined bags hanging

Hello.

I didn’t mean for this to happen, but I’m certainly not complaining. It went down like this.

Just a few days after I wrote my post about Deux Lux bags, I was Christmas shopping at T.J. Maxx and found a whole rack of Deux Lux wristlets for $19.99! I bought one as a gift for my friend Alisa, but clearly, I wasn’t leaving without one of my own.

Deux Lux sequined wristlet

I had just read a fantastic post about organizing your purse over at Arianna Belle’s blog, and wristlets were a key player, so I was really excited about my find.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my mom had ordered me the Deux Lux Felix small duffle that I’d mentioned loving in my blog post. I know – best mom ever.

Deux Lux Felix Small Duffle

It’s even more amazing in person, if you can imagine that. The faux leather is really impressive – it actually really looks and feels real. And it’s the perfect size!

Deux Lux Felix Small Duffle

Before we exchanged Christmas presents, though, we were at Target in Newington, Connecticut, shopping for wrapping supplies and a few last minute gifts. I was searching for gold wrapping paper when all of a sudden, a glowing beacon entered my life. A pretty girl had just crossed my path, and she had something I wanted.

It wasn’t her black Minnetonkas, or her very Connecticut-esque denim skirt and peacoat combo. It was a bag, and it was destined to belong to me.

Coach Poppy Sequin Spotlight in gold
Coach Poppy Sequins Spotlight in Gold – Photo via Luxury Boutique

You know how in cartoons, some greedy character sees a pile of rubies or gold coins or something, and their eyes get all sparkly and dreamy and bulge out of their head? I’m 100% certain that’s what I looked like when I barked, without even bothering to walk over to her, “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT BAG.” It wasn’t even a question, really. It was a statement that basically meant, “Hand it over, homegirl.”

She giggled and said, “Everyone keeps asking me that!” Luckily, my eyes were too busy goggling to roll. “It’s Coach.”

Never mind that she technically didn’t answer my question. Somewhere in my sequin-addled brain, I felt a rush of relief. I had seen the gold plaque on the front of the bag, so I knew it was designer, and for some reason, the fact that it was Coach gave me hope, because Coach is affordable. Uh, what? Coach is not affordable, especially for someone in my financial situation. But I already knew that I was going to end up buying the bag, so I guess I was relieved to hear that I wouldn’t have to sell my car to do so.

After the incident, I kept asking my mom, “Did you see that bag?! Did you see it? Wasn’t it amazing?” Brad had been across the store in the electronics section, and as soon as I could find him, I was interrogating him. “Did you see a girl with a gold bag?! Are you sure? How could you miss it?! It was amazing.”

Before we even got home, I was on my phone doing some Googling. It took me a while to find it, but by the time we reached a computer, I had discovered that the style was over a year old and no longer available through official Coach retailers. I was beyond despondent. I kept going on and on about how it was so unfair that fate had put the bag in front of me – in a Target in small-town Connecticut, of all places – when there was no way I could have it. I did find it on eBay, but the price was just more than I could justify.

Don’t be surprised if I don’t wake up tomorrow,” I told Brad mournfully. “I don’t think I want to live in a world where I can’t have that bag.”

Now, don’t get it twisted – my husband did not feel sorry for me. He just knows me very, very well, and knew that I was going to go on about it until one of two things happened: 1) Until I somehow got the bag, or 2) Until I died.

“It goes against everything I stand for to buy you that bag for Christmas,” he told me. “But I’ll split it with you.”

I know. I am perhaps a little spoiled. But it’s Christmas, damnit. And FYI, I’m paying to have speakers and an amp put in his car for him. We each get one semi-big thing. This was mine. I clicked “Buy It Now” and then immediately hid my head under a pillow. I was just. so. excited.

The next morning, when my mom came to pick us up, Brad said, “Did you tell your mom about the bag?” Her jaw dropped. Again, unbeknownst to me, my mom had also logged onto eBay and purchased a sequined gold Coach bag. Even though she had already gotten me the Deux Lux bag. Have I mentioned the part about “best mom ever”? Luckily, she was able to cancel hers, and all was well. The next week, my gold bag arrived, and suddenly, my life was a sequined wonderland.

Coach Poppy Sequin Spotlight in Gold

Life is good, guys. Call me materialistic, but despite the overloaded schedule, pounding migraines and nonstop rain I’ve been dealing with for the past week, I just look at my sequined bags and all is right with the world. It just takes a little sparkle.

Have you brought any sequins into your life this month?

     

Champagne Shimmer Cupcakes

This past Saturday, I was invited to a cupcake exchange party at my friend Amy’s house. I was so excited to get the invitation, but a little concerned, because I really can’t bake. It is what it is, you know? I have other skills. I’ve come to terms with this handicap. But I didn’t want to let everybody down.

Luckily, I remembered fairly quickly that I’m married to a man who can bake. And he happens to have a recipe up his sleeve that’s perfect for a party: champagne cupcakes with champagne buttercream frosting. He agreed to make them, and I planned to help. Unfortunately, I accidentally woke up on Saturday with a raging hangover and could barely stand up. As it turned out, Brad slaved away in the kitchen all afternoon while I huddled under the covers waiting for death. It’s embarrassing.

Don’t worry, though. I recovered just in time to leave for my party. (Don’t pretend you’re relieved. You think I’m the worst wife ever and don’t deserve to go to parties. I get it. I don’t blame you.) And now, here I am to share the recipe!

Champagne cupcakes with champagne buttercream frosting

CHAMPAGNE SHIMMER CUPCAKES

(This recipe is from Gimme Some Oven, so you should really go over there to read it, but I know y’all are lazy, so I’m posting it here, too, with some very slight adjustments.)

Cupcake ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup champagne
  • 6 egg whites

Cupcake instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cupcake pan with liners. (FYI: This recipe makes about 20 cupcakes, and we needed at least 24, so Brad multiplied all the ingredients by 1.5. He ended up with 30.)
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add that and the champagne slowly to the butter and sugar mixture and blend on low.
  3. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add the egg whites slowly to the batter and blend.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Champagne buttercream frosting

Frosting ingredients: (Again, FYI: If you like a lot of frosting, you may want to double this. Worst case scenario is that you have an extra bowl full of buttercream frosting to immediately eat with a spoon save for later.)

  • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons champagne at room temperature

Frosting instructions:

  1. Beat together sugar and butter. Mix on low until well-blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.
  2. Add vanilla and champagne, then beat on low for another minute.

Make sure to wait until your cupcakes are totally cooled before you frost them, or their faces will melt off and you’ll be really bummed. Then make sure you garnish them with something pretty. We like gold sugar crystals and raspberries.

Just a tip: If you plan to drink the remaining champagne, you might want to buy something a little better than Cook’s. (Or not. Up to you.) I was clearly not thinking straight while dragging my hungover butt through the grocery store.

Cook's Extra Dry Champagne for Cupcakes
We went with Extra Dry because it’s sweeter than Brut, but not too sweet. I bet rosé would be good, though.

Amy has an adorable blog called The Chirping Dog, and she took some great pictures on Saturday, so I hope she posts about the party soon! She did the most amazing job with cupcake-themed goody bags, cupcake carrying boxes, a prize for the best cupcakes and even a cupcake-themed Christmas tree.
I want to see the pictures so bad! In the meantime, here’s an Instagram shot of all the other creations.

Cupcakes

UPDATE: Amy posted about the cupcake swap on her blog! Go check it out!

What would you bring to a cupcake exchange party? Would you ever be cruel enough to ask your significant other to make them for you? (PS: LOVE YOU, BRAD! THANKS AGAIN!)

     

Glitter Wall Art Is UP!

More than two months after their completion, my DIY glitter wall “art” pieces have finally been hung. Hallelujah!

DIY glitter wall art with Ikea Ribba frames

We’d been putting it off because my husband really, really hates the flimsy hanging mechanism that comes with the Ikea Ribba frames. But when I saw a post on Little Green Notebook that suggested drilling keyhole fasteners to the top corners of the frames, I jumped at the chance to try out a more secure option. As you may recall, I occasionally jump up and down in my office, so a secure hanging job is key.

We used the exact same method that Jenny did – click here to see her post! And man, are those suckers sturdy. I asked Brad if he had any advice to add, and he said, “Drill a deep pilot hole.” Jenny recommended that, too, but he felt it was important enough to mention again. Those cheapo frames crack like nobody’s business. (If you are anything like me, it is my wish for you that you have someone around who knows what a pilot hole is. Thank goodness for the handymen and handywomen among us.)

The pictures are hung pretty high because we’re still planning to put a small TV on top of the cabinet. Try to picture it, will ya?

DIY glitter wall art with Ikea Ribba frames

Do you like how the teal/turquoise matches the wall color in our foyer? I do, too!

By the way, the round gold lacquer tray thing on my cabinet is a recent purchase from T.J. Maxx. They were only $5.99, so I bought two! I have no idea what they’re for or what they’re supposed to be, but they sure are pretty.

Gold lacquer tray vignette with vase and crystal candlestick

Have you used Ikea Ribba frames lately? What’d you put in them?

OPI’s New Gelcolor – A Review

I absolutely love the way I feel when my nails are coated with dark, glossy lacquer. Something about it just makes me feel finished. Unfortunately, a combination of limited free time and very unsteady hands means my at-home manicures rarely come out the way I want them to. And I’m just too rough on my hands for a salon manicure to be worth it – it chips off in days!

I used to get full gel sets, but it was just too much of a time and money commitment. Because the removal was so difficult, I never had a choice on whether to keep up with fills every two weeks. I just had to, and it kind of stunk. When my budget got tight, I finally gave them up.

I’ve heard a lot about soak-off gels like OPI Axxium, but hadn’t heard the best reviews about their durability. It seemed silly to me that they took so long to soak off at every single appointment. I was already strapped for time – I wasn’t about to do something that took longer. And at my salon, they cost more than regular gel fills! Not a great option.

But a few weeks ago, I stopped into my nail salon to get my eyebrows waxed and my technician told me about OPI’s new Gelcolor formula. It comes in OPI’s most beloved colors, but it’s much thinner than the Axxium, and it both cures and soaks off much more quickly. Each coat takes only 30 seconds to cure, and supposedly it takes 10 minutes or less to soak off. Best of all, they were charging the same exact price as a regular gel fill! When the holidays rolled around, I decided to treat myself, just to try it out.

Here’s how they looked the day after my manicure. Brad wasn’t around to take a picture, so it’s not the best shot.

OPI New Gelcolor in Lincoln Park After Dark

I got my favorite color, Lincoln Park After Dark. The experience was really cool! The technician (who wasn’t my usual girl) prepped my nails as if I was getting a regular manicure – cuticle removal, etc – and then started with the OPI Gelcolor products. Unlike the Axxium, they come in bottles that look just like regular nail polish, except they’re solid black.

OPI New Gelcolor
Image via Nails by Cheryl

Much like a regular manicure, the application consisted of a base coat, two colored coats and a top coat. Each coat spent a mere 30 seconds under the LED light. They were cured before the tech even finished with my other hand! After the last coat had cured, my nails were instantly as hard as plastic. This, to me, was the best part – no more sitting around waiting for the polish to dry, only to chip my thumb as I try to get out my credit card!

And after almost three weeks, I can tell you – this stuff is damn near unchippable. Here’s a photo from the two-week mark.

OPI New Gelcolor in Lincoln Park After Dark - Two Weeks Later

The regrowth is pretty visible – my one complaint about my technician was that she started off pretty far from my cuticle – but because the gel is so thin, it doesn’t look nearly as ridiculous as a grown-out regular gel or acrylic set. And because it’s an OPI color, I can touch it up at home with the coordinating nail polish.

Overall, for $25, I would definitely do this again. I don’t feel as pressured to keep up with it on a strict two-week basis, but it’s such an easy, fast way to get the most durable manicure I’ve ever had. (Even traditional gel sets just have regular polish on top – I can tell you from experience that those chip a LOT faster!) I got my manicure the day before Thanksgiving, and I still do not have one. single. chip.

Because this is so long-lasting, and you can’t remove the color at home, I might not recommend this to people who like to change their color frequently. I’m pretty happy to have Lincoln Park After Dark all the time, though, so it’s perfect for me!

Here are the colors that have been released so far, to my knowledge:

OPI New Gelcolor - Color Chart
Image via UVnailpolish.com

Have you tried soak-off gel? What’s your manicure method of choice?

Adding Some Glitz to the Vanity

Well, I still haven’t made any changes to my vintage vanity. I’m still just not sure what I want to do, so I figure I should continue living with it until I’m really positive.

But at least the vanity’s accessories have experienced a bit of an update. My aunt Julie read my post about wanting to replace the tray my perfume was on, and check out what I got for Christmas!

Antique gold vanity tray

How gorgeous is that?! It says on the bottom that it’s 24K gold plated. The detail is just spectacular. I had been planning to peruse Etsy for a glamorous gold tray just like this one, so I couldn’t believe I was unwrapping exactly what I wanted!

Antique gold vanity tray detail

The white bud vase is antique Lenox and was a wedding gift from a family friend, Paula, who has amazing taste. Somehow, my love for the white and gold combo is getting around. I wonder how? Could it be that people are reading my blog?! I’m not sure I ever mention those things …

Vintage Lenox bud vase with roses
(By the way, the single fake peony is temporary! I know it looks kind of silly, but I had to put something in there.)

The bud vase’s sister is this larger piece. I haven’t found the perfect home for it yet, but wherever it is, it’s going to look stunning.

Vintage Lenox vase with flowers

I also added some vase filler beads to the handblown glasses holding my makeup brushes. I probably didn’t need quite this many, but I liked how they looked.

Makeup brushes displayed on vanity with vase filler beads

Here’s a peek at how the top of the vanity looks with all its new accessories.

Vintage black vanity table

This tray is quite a bit larger than the round one that used to hold my perfume, but I think putting more pieces on the tray instead of right on top of the vanity makes the whole area look more collected. I love it!

So, next up – the vanity makeover. I’m leaning toward painting it teal, like this dresser I found on Little Green Notebook.

Teal painted dresser from Little Green Notebook

With gold hardware, of course! The color Jenny used is by Behr, called Billiard Table. I’m wondering if it’s more green and less teal in person – aren’t pool tables generally straight-up green? I definitely want teal. I’d probably then paint the mirror gold. The plan has always been to decorate the bedroom in grey, yellow and teal, but so far we only have the grey and yellow going on. This would really make the vanity stand out – in a good way, I think!

What do you think? Should I go with teal, or something a little more subtle?

PS: In case anyone in the Atlanta area is wondering, I believe the tray and vases came from Marietta-area antique shops. They have such good stuff!