Favorite Find: An Actual Magazine for the Soul

Bella Grace Magazine_

“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”

~ Ruth Reichl

 

In four short sentences, this quote wraps up all I love about my new favorite magazine…


{Bella Grace
: Life’s a Beautiful Adventure}

 

If you’re a regular CHIC Scribe reader {and thanks for that!}, you know I love inspiring words, creative expressions, beautiful photography and uplifting messages.

I found all that and more in this new magazine published by Stampington & Co. {volume 1, issue 1 published this summer}.

I stumbled upon it one lazy Saturday morning browsing the racks at Barnes & Noble. It’s not inexpensive {$19.99}, but I tell you, it’s worth every penny.

In her introduction to the magazine on Page 3, Editor-in-Chief Christen Olivarez notes…

Bella Grace is meant to be savored… It is meant to get tossed in your beach bag, or tucked under your pillow to enjoy before bed. It is meant to be read over and over again. It is meant to inspire you to see the beauty and the magic that surround you, no matter where you are. It is meant to be written in and dog-eared. It is meant to accompany you on this beautiful adventure that is life.”

I had my doubts when she mentioned the word, “savored”… really?  Savor a magazine?

One article in I was hooked.

Halfway through I wanted to share the magazine with all my friends.

When I turned the last page after 36 articles and roughly three hours of reading/thinking {all in one sitting!}, I’m not sure “savored” is a strong enough word.

This might seem a little over the top, but I enjoyed the “book-a-zine” {160 pages!} that much.

If a magazine can glisten your eyes, touch your heart and warm your soul all at once, this is it.

Here are some additional thoughts about Bella Grace from readers who took the time to comment…

  • “I thank you so much for your beautiful publication. I came across it today and it brought tears to my eyes because it reminded me when I was living more authentically. How I’ve missed that version of me!”
  • “Just received my copy of Bella Grace in the mail. I have only read the letter from the editor and I am already in love. This is the magazine I have been waiting for my whole life. This is the magazine that speaks to my soul.”
  • “The feel and touch of this magazine is unbelievable. When your fingertips flex across the pages, the sensation is full and complete, an experience not easily forgotten.”

Here are a few headlines to pique your interest…

 

A passionate life

More pages, fewer screens

Ordinary sparkling moments

The art of the gratitude list

 

These articles / stories {printed on heavy-stock, matte paper} were a big inspiration in my recent SOUL Rest.

Read a little. Think a little. Pray a little.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Just a few guidelines before you crack Bella Grace’s covers {which include handy bookmarks, by the way}:

 

Built in Bookmark

 

  • Dedicate at least an hour or more {you won’t want to stop once you start}.
  • Pour yourself a cup of hot tea and snuggle in with a blanket… You’re going to want to be there a while.
  • Savor the stories in silence {nothing to distract from the lovely writing}.
  • Have a pen/highligher and journal at the ready… trust me, you’ll want to to make notes.

A few of my highlights and margin musings

 

Dangerous and noble things

I want to sing like the birds

L.O.V.E. 2

Do those things that make my heart sing

 

Learn to pause 2

More than anything

 

Each article easily could inspire its own blog post. The magazine is chock-full of:

  • Workbooks and writing prompts
  • Salutes to slowing down
  • Simple pleasures
  • Beauty in the ordinary
  • Quotes from admired authors and artists
  • Personal permission forms {yes, you CAN postpone [insert-that-chore-that's-hanging-over-your-head]}.

Do yourself a favor and discover Bella Grace, too. You’ll thank me later.

The first issue reminded me of the beauty of our own stories ~ as beat up, stomped upon and bedraggled they may be.

It also showed me the great beauty of sharing these special stories with others who may benefit.

One contributing writer, Katie Thurmes, writes,

“And so you ~ and I. We are each the keepers of our own story ~ of the kindness we choose to share, of the struggle from which we choose to rise above ~ and our own joy, too. Today, shine powerfully. Let the rain of your life ~ be it from a leaking roof or the disappointment of 1,000 moons ~ find redirection toward something greater. Walk in the sun. Choose joy.”

Choose joy. I think I’ll do just that.

Claire Signature

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend?

Box Full of Darkness


[On the heels of last week's Robin Williams post, I thought I'd share some rewards to be found in the dark.
]

*****

I walked into an exam room for a recent appointment, book in hand to wait out the delay for my doctor.

I noticed a dogeared issue of Time on the counter.  Its cover piqued my interest, my novel forgotten.


The headline…

Let There be Night: Finding God in the Dark

The subhead…
Beyond Enlightenment: Strength, purpose and true faith are found in the shadows.

 

So true.

You don’t know this about me, but I’m a hardcore runner.

And while I run for fitness, that’s not what I mean.

When darkness or loss comes calling, I run for the hills {both literally and figuratively}.  My family knows this well.

I’m a bona fide flight risk.

Any others out there?

Darkness is too scary.

We see darkness as a place entirely devoid of light, a place far from the presence of God.

But is it really?

While darkness houses fear, it’s also an incubator where fear meets transformation and real-time healing happens.

The Time article ~ written by journalist Elizabeth Dias ~ highlights Barbara Brown Taylor’s new memoir, Learning to Walk in the Dark.

Learning to Walk in the Dark
It shares the benefits of allowing yourself to hold still and learn from the darkness.  It’s on my list to pick up at Barnes & Noble.

Dias:  “… darkness holds more lessons than light and… contrary to what many of us have long believed, it is sometimes in the bleakest void that God is nearest.

“On a very practical level,” Taylor says, “we pay a high price to shut out the darkness… Our spiritual avoidance of the dark may be even more dangerous.  Our culture’s ability to tolerate sadness is weak.  As individuals, we often run away from it.”

Taylor:  “We are supposed to get over it, fix it, purchase something, exercise, do whatever it takes to become less sad.  Turning into darkness, instead of away from it, is the cure for a lot of what ails me.”

Dias:  “Taylor is reviving an ancient idea in Christian theology, one that the mystics of the Middle Ages understood:

Darkness holds divine mystery.”

Taylor: “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion.  I need darkness as much as I need light.”

Bible characters knew the darkness well.  As Dias notes, “The exodus from Egypt happened at night.  God met Moses in the thick darkness atop Mount Sinai to hand down the Ten Commandments.  The apostle Paul’s conversion happened after he lost his sight.  Jesus was born beneath a star and resurrected in the darkness of a cave.”

Taylor:  “If we turn away from darkness on principle, doing everything we can to avoid it because there is simply no telling what it contains, isn’t there a chance we are running away from God?”

 

The wound is the place where the Light enters you - Rumi

 

Brennan Manning said…

“For Ragamuffins, God’s name is Mercy.

“We see our darkness as a prized possession because it drives us into the heart of God.

“Without Mercy, our darkness would plunge us into despair ~ for some, self-destruction.

“Time alone with God reveals the unfathomable depths of the poverty of the spirit.  We are so poor that even our poverty is not our own: it belongs to the mysterium tremendum of a loving God.”  {The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out}

 

God is Mercy

 

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark side. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.”

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift.  If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”  {Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging}


Dare to reach into the darkness

“Hope knows that if great trials are avoided, great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth into greatness of soul is aborted.”  {Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging}

Scripture reveals God’s presence in the dark:

“The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” {Exodus 21: 20}

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” {Isaiah 42: 16}

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” {Psalm 139: 11-12}

When the crutches fall away and loneliness stalks, a silver lining emerges…

God is present and this is enough.

 

Little Black Raincloud - Zakhar Krylov

 

Universal truth: The darkest clouds bring the greatest growth.

And thankfully, the darkness is temporary.

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” {Psalm 30: 5}

Besides, valleys make the mountaintops all the sweeter.

Next time I face the dark, I’ll try to remember to sit down in the middle of it…

Trust that God is near and working…

And enter the divine mystery, where lessons fly freely and healing awaits.

Claire Signature

Robin Williams: “What Will Your Verse Be?”

 

Robin Williams

 

Oh, Robin Williams.

Say it ain’t so.

Driving home from work, just an hour or so ago, radio personality Michael Berry delivered in a monotone, the news of comic great Robin Williams’ passing, likely due to his own hand.

I’m sure like many, I said aloud to myself, “No, no, no!”

My heart sank at the loss of such a light.

 

Goofy Robin Williams

 

Especially in a world that can seem darker by the day.

You never know what folks are going through.

 

Fighting a hard battle

 

So needless.  So preventable.

I never even laid eyes on the actor, apart from his roles on the big screen.

So why has his death sounded such a chord with me?

Answer.  Depression touches EVERYONE, whether personally or peripherally.

It’s an insidious, wretched disease that takes prisoners from the inside out.

And that’s the hardest part.

This I know well from personal experience.  And from a family directly impacted by suicide.

Above all that I’ve experienced, depression is the one thing you battle completely on your own.  Family and friends are VITAL when they know you well enough to read you and ~ while they can’t make it stop ~ come alongside you through that “dark night of the soul.”

Your silent presence can speak volumes to someone suffering from depression. Words aren’t necessary, and sometimes even get in the way.

If there’s a takeaway from this tragedy, it’s that education about depression is the best support you can provide.

It’s not a phase one goes through, or a mental malady with a particular shelf life.

A few tips:

  • Depression is a disease, just like cancer or diabetes
  • It’s not a character fault, or a sign of weakness
  • It takes time to overcome, and great patience from friends and family
  • It’s very treatable
  • Judgment has no place on the road to recovery {Unless you’ve been there, you just don’t get it.  How could you?}

In Darkness Visible, one of the most authentic books I’ve ever read on depression, William Styron said, “The pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne.  The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.”

It’s a REAL sacrifice to love a depressed person well, especially when the fog remains with no sign of dissipating.

The best way to do that?  Don’t give up on them.  They’re worth it.

 

RW-People who make you feel alone quote

 

And chances are, they’ll come through and find their real selves again.

While they may appear like this on the outside…

 

Robin Williams laughing

 

It might look a lot more like this on the inside…

 

Robin Williams pensive 2

 

People are great at wearing masks.  Depressed people have it down to a science.

So what can you do?  Share this message.  Retweet it.  Post it on your Facebook page.

Spread the word that depression is a bear ~ but it doesn’t have to win.

 

REBLOG

 

To quote his most famous line from Good Will Hunting, here’s what I’d say to Robin Williams…. “It’s not your fault.  It’s not your fault.  It’s not your fault.”

Was it selfish?  Yes.  Did it impact many lives?  Of course.  Was it his fault?  No.

To me, apart from faith, the most important gifts we’re given are relationships.  And they don’t always come easy.

In Dead Poets Society ~ one of my all-time favorites ~ Williams’ character, John Keating, says,

“But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman, “Oh me!  Oh life!…

of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless…

of cities filled with the foolish;

what good amid these, Oh me, Oh life?

Answer.

That you are here ~ that life exists, and identity;

that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse

That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?”

Time is short.

Carpe Diem ~ seize the day.

We’re still here.

We have a voice.

How will your voice lift others?

Claire Signature

 

 

SOUL Rest

Put Your Ear Down Polka Dots

SOUL rest.

My lungs involuntarily flood with oxygen ~ hold it there a bit ~ and then slowly release just thinking the words.

Vital to wellness.  Essential to creativity.  Sustenance for the spirit.

Voluntarily allowing anxiety to slip from the self… deliberately rolling the shoulders to dislodge the heavy weight… realizing the relief of surrendering to the still.

Music to my ears.  Surrendering to the Still.

Be still

No need for a hot-stone massage or a vacation in the mountains.

{You just have to be.  And listen.  And wait.}

Hard to do.  Never enough time.  Too much of an indulgence.

Right?

Last Sunday morning, actually by accident ~ and to escape the political talking heads on TV ~ I clicked off the tube and tumbled into an unexpected SOUL rest.

I took a deep breath, savoring the quiet.

I had about 30 minutes before I needed to get dressed for church, and the silence was so nice, I just sat there with my hot tea… and sat there… and sat there.

Before I knew it, an amazing thing happened.

I could feel the stress leave my body.

{The subtle input from my senses became louder than the barrage of the background}.

If you’ll listen to the silence, it’s astounding what you’ll hear.

Enter the Silence

The gently tinkling wind chime outside the bedroom window.  The songs of the birds greeting the dawn.  The chiming of the church bells just down the block.  The feel of a soft, cashmere throw on bare toes.  The sun’s rays slanting down through the blinds onto the gently mussed bedspread.  The rumpled fur of a pup, sleeping soundly within reach.

It was HEAVEN.

So heaven, in fact, that I gave myself permission to play hooky from church and opted instead to worship in my own silent sanctuary.

The quieter you become, the more you can hear

Slowing down, focusing on breathing, just listening.

Manna for the soul.

It was so addictive, I stayed right there in that spot all morning and a good bit of the afternoon!


Silence

It has a sound, a fullness.

It’s heavy with sigh of tree,

and space between breaths.

It’s ripe with pause between birdsong

and crash of surf.

It’s golden they say.

But no one tells us it’s addictive.

~ Angela Long

 

{Stillness and soul-whisperings invite the best, most authentic, self to emerge}.

When it does, you realize just how much you like it {your real self, that is}.

I spent time reading, praying, forcing myself to just be… consciously owning the present moment.

Silence the surroundings, claim the contentment.

Freedom for the taking, just enter the silence.

Shhh…. Can you hear them?

Soul-whisperings, gradually rising to the surface…

Claire Signature

Two Perspectives: Hello Kitty vs. Mature Confidence

Bethenny Frankel_Hello Kitty

 

I was struck by two very different ~ and weighty ~ perspectives this week.

One belongs to a 43-year-old, successful celebrity whose boast left the world scratching its head.

The other belongs to a stay-at-home mother of two with a “heavy” message that got quite a few {thousands} of heads thinking.

{Personal disclaimer: The issue of weight easily lends itself to judgment of others.  That’s not my intent here.  In fact, the fear of others’ judgment leads to extremes on both sides of the scale.  I’d just like to highlight the “healthy” in these two recent news stories, and suggest a possible take-away}.

For a reason I can’t fathom, a multimillionaire business woman and New York Times bestselling author took to the Twitter-sphere to “brag” {with photo proof, of course} that she could fit into her 4-year-old daughter’s PJs.  After a backlash of criticism from her 1.37 million followers, she claimed that it was a joke and that people needed to “get a hobby and a life.”  She said that she donned the tiny duds to appease her daughter’s giggly request, and that she was just trying to be a good mom {my paraphrase}.

I get being silly with tots.  Nothing wrong there.  But when did acknowledging a barely outgrown toddler’s request translate into broadcasting your skinniness {or you at all, for that matter} to the world?  What were you hoping to accomplish with #pajamagate, as you later named it on Twitter?

Instead of making me feel jealous or bummed about my inability to shop in the 6X-size section of The Children’s Place, you made me really, really sad for you.

When I wore that size, I likely also still had a bed-wetting issue and thought biting was a perfectly acceptable tool to get my way.

Why on earth would I want to go back there?

You’re such an inspiration for female entrepreneurs.  You’ve accomplished so much in the business and publishing worlds.  We can all take lessons from your determination, hard work and professional savvy.

How sad, though, that someone who said, “I don’t think it’s good to constantly talk about your own weight,” would boast ~ as though it were admirable ~ that a grown woman should be proud of looking like a pre-preschool girl?

She also once said, “I never thought I’d be a role model, but I think to some people I am or have been.”  You’re definitely on a national stage.  It would be great for you to use it to encourage others following in your stead, rather than feed our world’s oppressive obsession with “thinspiration.”

On the other hand, a relatively unknown blogger and stay-at-home mother of two ~ Bridgette White of Bridgette Tales ~ also shared a revealing photo with the world this week. And, because of its equally attention-grabbing message, it made the homepage of the Huffington Post.  {Kudos Huffington Post for sharing her story}.

Huffington Post pic

 

Her little son snapped this shot unbeknownst to Bridgette, and she admits to “self-loathing and disgust” that arose when she saw it on her cell phone.  After asking her child why he would take such a photo, he responded, “You looked so beautiful laying there.  I couldn’t help it, mom.”  Then, her daughter concurred. “That could be a postcard, mom.  You’re beautiful, I love it!”

I’ll quote Bridgette’s response verbatim from here, because I couldn’t have said it better {and I think most of us can relate}…

I took a deep breath.  This is exactly what I needed.

My default mode is to see a focus on my flaws and imperfections.  I’m starting to see a bit more.

Right now I’m the heaviest I’ve been in 10 years.  Yet…

I have not let my weight stop me this time.  I am wearing tank tops, sundresses and bathing suits in public.  I’m running around playing with my kids this summer and I sometimes even feel attractive.

Yes.  You heard me.

Is it because I’m getting older?  Is it that I have more to worry about than just how I look?  Or maybe it’s because my kids look at me with such adoring eyes?

Really, it doesn’t matter.  I don’t hate my body anymore.

That’s huge for me to admit, and hard to even wrap my mind around.

I’m not giving up on exercising and getting healthy.  Those are things I will continue to strive for, because I want to be around awhile.

Right now, though, I just want to love my body where it is.  I want it to be OK to see myself the way my kids do.

Thank you, kids.

To date, this post has garnered 94,000 “likes” and 13,777 shares on Facebook.  I thought it was pretty awesome.

To me, she’s a rock star and I want to be her friend.

In the case of Hello Kitty… I hate that social media has become an avenue to broadcast how great, witty, skinny, accomplished, [fill in the blank] we are {for a temporary pick-me-up for our remarkably insecure egos}.  I hate the culture it’s created that makes us feel we need to prove ourselves for a few measly “likes” or to gain some more perceived “friends.”

One post underscored the narcissism {and sickness} of our times.  The second portrayed real courage and BIG strength from a wise mama and realist.

Who do you think is healthier?  Which one do you want to emulate?

Brava to this chic sunbather.

And prayers that the tiny Hello-Kitty-wearer will realize her substantial worth.

Apart from those ridiculous, kiddie pajamas, of course.

Claire Signature

Undone by Some Irises {A Lesson in Thoughtfulness}

 

Flowers 2

 

A little gesture reduced me to tears this week {each time I thought about it, really}.  Still does a bit, if I’m honest.

I had some medical tests done last Monday ~ no big deal, really ~ but I was under anesthesia and that’s always a little scary, I suppose.

While I was still a little loopy from anesthesia that evening, I got a text that someone had left flowers on my doorstep.  Let me be clear ~ I NEVER get flowers.  Especially florist-arranged, created-for-me bouquets.

I don’t even know what to do with that.  I’m not used to that kind of thoughtfulness.

My reaction to the gift shocked even me!  I opened my door, saw them, and my tears started flowing!  Silent tears streaming down my face.  While I can attribute a bit of that to my residual loopiness, I realized pretty quickly that it was a lot more than that.

Let me put it in perspective… The week before, I was gifted with this GORGEOUS and enormous arrangement by a top Houston florist.  Have you ever seen such a dramatic, tall vase of flowers?

Gorgeous

 

The branches almost touched the ceiling.

My house has never seen an arrangement like that.  MOST houses have never seen an arrangement like that.

And don’t get me wrong ~ I LOVED receiving it.  But, I was graciously given the arrangement as a “thanks” for something I had done.  I played the role of photographer for a fun Houston party the weekend before and was surprised with the arrangement delivery the next day.  The picture doesn’t begin to do it justice.

But there was a difference between that monster, expensive arrangement and the small one at the top of this post that I found on my doorstep Monday afternoon.

I didn’t deserve the little one.  Not even at all.

In fact, the last words I spoke to the giver of that thoughtful gift were quite “snippy.”  And that’s being nice!  I was tired, frustrated, didn’t want to go home alone, and I took it out on one of my favorite people.  And after I woke up from a long afternoon nap, my thoughtless comments were “repaid” with those lovely flowers.

What gives?  Lash back out at me.  I can handle that ~ I even expect it!  But a gift that I didn’t earn?  I’m immobilized.  I felt like Superman zapped with Kryptonite.

I didn’t deserve it, and I didn’t know how to process that.

Even if that snippy comment had never left my lips, I couldn’t get over the fact that I hadn’t done anything at all to warrant such a gift.  It was really hard for me to even accept it!

Can you relate?

I set it on my bedside table and it meant the world to me.  I kept coming back to it, just wanting to be near it!  That sounds so crazy, I laugh just writing the words!

I realized how poor I am at accepting undeserved blessings.  

I couldn’t get over the fact that someone thought I was worthy enough to seek an arrangement for me in the first place! Do they really KNOW me?  Have I pulled the wool over their eyes that much?

I realized my reaction came from a place of feeling REALLY loved… and if you’re like me, that’s not an emotion that rears its head all that often!

Maybe you’re better than I am at accepting compliments and just-because gifts.  The perfectionist in me demands that I do something to deserve it.

And that’s the difference between the two arrangements.  One was given  in payment for a service {which I had no problem accepting, despite its extravagance ~ thanks again to the giver!}

The second was given simply for who I am ~ and in acknowledgement of a tough day.

And it darn-near un-did me!

My mind tells me:  What makes you worthy of that kind of thoughtfulness?  What can I do to make it up to the giver? Perhaps if I respond with a “thank-you” arrangement?  At least a card to show my gratefulness?  If I were to give such a gift to a friend, I’d be horrified to think that he/she felt such a responsibility to repay me.  Just accept it, I’d think.  I did it because I love you!  Don’t you DARE think about repaying me ~ that negates the whole gift!

When the shoe is on the other foot, why is it so hard to accept that we could be worthy of blessings just-because?

I was afraid for the flowers to wilt!  They were such a sweet reminder of the value another found in me.  Kind of a sad thought, really {I realize in writing this!!}, but also a great reminder that we’re enough and worthy ~ just exactly as we are.

And this a MICROSCOPIC reality of Christ’s love for us from the cross.  I can’t imagine that kind of undeserved love, paid in such an amazing way.  And I think ~ because it is so foreign to me {and perhaps you, too} ~ most of the time, I don’t even know how to process that kind of love.

It pretty much trumps all else, right?  Even when He’s silent at times we most want to hear from Him, can’t we rest in the fact that a God who would sacrifice all to prove His love and our worth to Him has our back?  That our worth will never be something we need to prove?  If we have His approval, what other approval do we need?

A little thoughtfulness goes so darn far…  And you’re worthy of it.  Just like I am.  Just like we all are.

A special thanks to my secret admirer this week.

And to some lovely irises {and gardenias, orchids, etc…} for their sweet message about worth and love and value.

Especially when I least deserved or expected it.

How can we bless an unsuspecting someone this week with the same impactful message?

Claire Signature

Notes to My Younger Self

 

Photo credit: AARP

 

Sometimes a photo just grips you, jumps off the page {or screen}, arrests your attention, flat-out grabs you by the lapels and refuses to let go until you acknowledge its power.

The picture above did just that for me.

It’s the tail end of a busy day at the office and I’m finally home, breezily surfing through a few favorite blogs, glass of pinot grigio at hand, dividing my attention between others’ wise words and an elderly songwriter on America’s Got Talent, singing a catchy little tune with the most surprising, ribald lyrics {I’m telling you, it was hilarious}.

And then, BAM… the snapshot above.  Came on like a ton of bricks.  The very last thing I saw coming.

There is so much about this photo that I love {and I wish I could credit the photographer, but I don’t know his/her name!}

What if… really and truly… WHAT IF we actually could stand face-to-face, grip-to-grip, completely exposed to our OWN soul/body five decades into the future.  AMAZING.  That would be staggering.  In fact, that would define staggering for me.

To be able to pick that woman’s brain, figure out how she finally figured it out, learn from her accumulated experience {and how nice that I don’t have to explain a thing to her}… holy cow, I’d do anything for that interview.  Except maybe age five decades to meet up with her.  If I’m honest, even facing my 88-year-old self scares me speechless.

Why?  Even that thought is riddled with fear for me.  Discovering the bone-chilling, in-your-face answer to THE  question… Did I live a worthy life?  She alone holds the answer to my most relevant, current questions…

What if I never mastered those fears that plagued the socks off me those first three decades?  What if I never actually figured it out and spent all that time wiling away so many lost moments and opportunities?  What if I’m still alone {husband- and kid-wise}, those I love having preceding me to heaven, and “alone” takes on a whole new meaning for me?  

What does Claire actually “look like” then?  

What if I’m not that published novelist, master businesswoman, world-changer, light-bringer, [fill in the blank] that {while I know my identity isn’t performance-based} in reality – again if I’m honest – actually shapes my every day?

How on earth did you make it?  Did you finally “get” what was most important and find the courage to live according to those truths?  Does being an octogenarian finally free you from the shackles of others’ opinions?  

I HAVE ONE BIG HOPE.

And it’s this… that I will have developed the faith to make most of these questions {that seem so important now} a moot point in the waning shadow of my life.

And even now, if I had faith even the size of a mustard seed, I likely wouldn’t be asking them at all!

Each of the questions I just asked my older self are driven by one thing ~ Fear.  And they’re all founded on one thing ~ Self.  Not surprisingly, they’re primarily negative at the core.

As curious as I am now, they’re certainly not questions I hope the 88-year-old Claire will be pondering.

That one picture showed me how driven I am by fear.  Not love, not a heart for others, not accomplishing my God-given purpose.  Fear is mighty strong.  But thankfully, it’s not our strongest emotion {and if we choose to tap into it, we’ve got superhuman spiritual strength to bust through that fear}.

LOCKED EYE-TO-EYE WITH THE ELDERLY CLAIRE, here’s what I {naively} think {and hope} she might say to me…

  • IT WAS NEVER ABOUT YOU.

“All those times when you agonized about why someone would act/say what they did, they really weren’t even thinking about you at all.  Even {and especially} if their actions were extreme, in your book.  You will never be able to cure anyone else of their demons, selfishness or fear.  All you can do is try to manage your own and leave the rest up to God.

“The sure way to a stale life is to focus on yourself.  And here’s a corollary to that… when people act the way they do, there’s a reason for it ~ and often it really has nothing to do with you.  Just as you embrace life through your own experiential/psychological lens, you’ve gotta give others that same grace…”

  • YOU ARE MERCILESSLY CRITICAL OF YOURSELF.  It borders on the astounding.

She might say to me, “Claire, if you even began to judge others as ruthlessly as you judge yourself, you never would have made a single friend on this planet.  By all means, freaking give yourself a break.”  {I pride myself in thinking that I’ll be a cool old lady and use words like “freaking.”}  “But I’m really serious about this one.  By cutting yourself down, you’re not doing yourself ~ or anyone else ~ any favors.  So please, starting right now… JUST STOP!”

  • WHAT IS THIS OBSESSION WITH HOW YOUR BODY LOOKS?

She’ll say, “Honey, we’re all destined to look like me at the end!  Shriveled and old and baring the brunt of a life well lived!  How about being grateful instead about how that little body of yours powers your every action and goal?  {By the way, you have no idea how fit you look right now.  Case in point, 10 years ago did you berate yourself for being fat?  Um-hum ~ all 108 pounds of you.  Sit tight… If that’s your focus, you’re in for a world of hurt!  It’s just flat not about the outside. Additional years will reinforce this for you.}”

  • I’M CONVINCED {AT MY OLD AGE} THAT WHEN GOD LOOKS US OVER AT THE END, HE’LL BE SEARCHING FOR OUR SCARS AND NOT OUR DIPLOMAS.

I suppose she’ll say, “This is one of my favorite quotes from the great Brennan Manning.  Don’t you DARE be ashamed of your scars ~ they alone are proof that you survived!  And not only that, that you made something of the tough cards you’d been dealt.”  I think she’ll say, “Lost job?  Debilitating illness?  Abandoned by your spouse?  Poverty?  Homelessness?  Alcoholism?  Infertility?  Fill in the blank… How did you use those things to rise above?  And through your life-message, inspire others going through the same?  If, in any small way, you eased others along that gut-wrenching, transformative path, you had one heck of a ministry. Atta-way-to-go, little grasshopper.  YOU DID GOOD!”

  • DROP THE PRETENSE.  BE REAL WITH PEOPLE.  IT’S THE ONLY WAY YOU’LL EVER GET THROUGH TO THEM.

I think at this point, the elderly Claire might again reference the amazing words of Brennan Manning {clearly one of my heroes of the pen and faith}, and say, “Transparency is the only way.  Everyone wears masks.  If  you want to make a real difference, rip off that misleading persona and have the courage to just be YOU.  I PROMISE you ~ from the tips of my aging, arthritic toes ~ it’s the very best gift you will EVER give to the world.  Not to mention yourself, little sojourner.”

The picture above isn’t entirely new to me.  One of the most amazing, winsome Christian men I’ve ever had the opportunity to know showed me a very similar picture a while back.  That picture clearly showed him {in his 80s} standing with his arm around a small, male child.  Of course, my first question was, “Who’s the little kiddo?”

He told me that it was an actual photo of him as a young child that he had superimposed on his own current photo.  When I asked why, he asked me, “How many of us would love to shield “life” from our own tiny selves?  Have the opportunity to go back in time and protect our child-selves from the sometimes ugly “life” that we know is coming for us?”

I’ll be honest with you.  When he asked me that, I started sobbing.  Of course I’d go back and shield that little Claire.  {And I’ve had it easy, all in all!}  Perhaps it’s not so different from learning from my decades-in-the-future Claire.

None of us have a time machine ~ either to the past or to the future.  All that we’re given is RIGHT NOW.  Despite our circumstances, most of us ~ hopefully ~ have a heck-of-a-lot-of-life left!  How are we going to use the advice our future selves would give us to make a difference moving forward?

What will you do to ensure the future YOU is well pleased with your lifelong journey?

Just a little food for thought…

Claire Signature

 

Easter Message: It Is Well With My Soul

It is Well With My Soul
I’m sitting at my desk in a light-filled window, coasting on the heels of a wonderful Easter… transformative sermon at church, doubly blessed by a spectacular choir and chill-bump-inducing hallelujah chorus, lovely spring brunch on a sunny patio with loved ones.

This morning, my pastor spoke on “getting back to basics.”  In other words, reminding ourselves of our greatest gift of all ~ Good Friday.  He said, “If you’re not a Christian, Christ ~ and the gospel ~ will transform your life.  And if you are a Christian, GET EXCITED!”

Such a great message… why do we forget {all those other non-Easter days} that we have every reason to celebrate because HE LIVES?  In your life and in mine, in the big milestones and in the very mundane.  He shared that all other world religions teach believers how to find God.  In Christianity {the person of Jesus}, we have an all-loving God who came to earth to find US.  In spite of the fact that we only deserve His wrath, that we hopelessly lose the way on our own.

I love the upside-down-ness of Christianity.  Namely, that God chose to come to earth in human form ~ born in a manger, choosing a life of service ~ and called his children to “take up their crosses” {become lowly, give up control} to reach the heights of joy {His presence}.

This week, in reading over Christ’s journey to the cross, I was impacted ~ not only by His power, which could have taken Him down from the cross at any time ~ but by his humility and COMPLETE SURRENDER despite that power.  He knew what was coming and exactly what it would cost, but he chose to do it anyway so that your name and mine would be engraved on His palms, an assurance of our forever-life with Him.

Despite the knowledge of the death He would face, He said, above all…

Not my will, but thine be done.  {Luke 22:42}

In spite of everything, he gave his Father everything, fully submitted and proclaimed…

EVEN SO, it is well with my soul.

Even crucifixion on a cross.

One of my very favorite hymns ~ “It is Well with my Soul” ~ speaks from a soul wholly given to God.  So hard to imagine that someone who had lost absolutely everything he had in this world could pen these sweet words of surrender…

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

What ever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul…

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blessed assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul…

My sin, oh the bliss, of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part, but in whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul…

And Lord, haste the day when faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

EVEN SO, it is well with my soul.

In “One Thousand Gifts” {one of the greatest little books I’ve ever read, by the way}, author Ann Voskamp addresses this ultimate surrender that makes God smile.  She says, “Eucharisteo {thankfulness} makes the knees the vantage point of a life and I bend the body, it says it quiet: ‘Thy will be done.’  This is the way a body and a mouth say thank you: Thy will be done.  This is the way the self dies, falls into the arms of Love.  This is why.  This is why the fight for joy is always so hard.”

She continues, “‘No one who ever said to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and meant it with his heart, ever failed to find joy ~ not just in heaven, or even down the road in the future in this world, but in this world at this very moment,’ asserts Peter Kreeft.  ‘Every other Christian who has ever lived has found exactly the same thing in his own experience.  It is an experiment that has been performed over and over again billions of times, always with the same result.'”

Surrender control.  Leave absolutely everything at the foot of the cross.  Find joy in His presence.

Voskamp notes, “I am kneeling… in my memories of shattered glass and Jesus comes soft, ‘Thy will be done is My own joy story, child, from beginning to end.'”

Back to the basics.  Nothing fancy.  Jesus says… surrender all and you will find Me. And you’ll find joy like you’ve never known.

Hallelujah, HE IS RISEN.  And HE LIVES to intercede for us all.  It’s his very nature.  We’re engraved on the palms of His hands.

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Even so.

Happy Easter!

Claire Signature

Oh, Make Me Blush…

TB Blush Celeste Dress - $495
Today is the first day of spring!  I can’t wait to don pretty pastels ~ especially blush pink for its feminine, delicate vibe.  Paired with a light pink lip and cheek, it’s a great hue to herald the new season.

InStyle Magazine {my go-to fashion guide} agrees.  In a recent article entitled, “Move Over, Radiant Orchid: This Sweet Shade is Stealing the Spotlight,” the author notes:

“Blush pink swept the spring 2014 runways in a soft blur, tapping a softer, more romantic side of fashion.  And no, this shade isn’t the stuff of girlhood adolescence.  As delicate as it may look, don’t underestimate its power or wearability.  For every dreamy, diaphanous dress {as seen at Giorgio Armani}, there was a sharp tailored power suit, to prove that the color indeed has attitude!

If full-on petal pink isn’t your thing, {hey, it’s not for everyone!}, slowly integrate the hue into your outfit rotation with an accessory.  Or, try taking on the shade in a more saturated tint for a bolder, less-frail effect, like rose or coral.

To avoid crossing into cloyingly sweet territory, step away from the pearls, diamond studs, or anything that spells, “too precious.”  Instead, head in the opposite direction and accessorize with a slick cuff or an edgy chain-link belt.”

Some of my favorite blush picks are from Tory Burch {shocker!}, shown in the snapshot above and the two below…

TB Blush - Eden Shell and Prisca Pant

Tory Burch 'Denise' Skirt - $275

These simple blush sheaths by Dolce & Gabbana are ones to emulate!

Dolce & Gabbana - Floral Brocade Dress - $2,395Dolce & Gabbana - Brocade Sleeveless Dress - $1,775

How darling is this Marni ‘Leather Snap-front Top’?  You could pair it with a million things this spring!

Marni Leather Snap-Front Top - $1,550

I ADORE this Nina Richi ‘Mousseline Basketweave Bodice Dress’ ~ so elegant, flowy and ladylike…  If I could spend the summer in one dress, this would be it.

Nini Ricci - Mousseline Basketweave-Bodice Dress - $2,950

And look at the lovely back!

Nini Ricci - Mousseline Basketweave-Bodice Dress - BACK - $2,950

For some lesser-priced blush options, H&M has some eye-catching looks, as shown in the three photos below…

H&M Black Off-the-Shoulder Top - $34.95

H&M Blush Chinos - $15

H&M Blush Satin Dress - $34.95

This darling Ann Taylor ‘Flutter Panel Dress’ is adorable on, but it works best on tanned gals with darker hair, in my opinion, as it completely washed out my blond hair and super fair {read borderline translucent} skin tone!

Ann Taylor Flutter Panel Dress - $149

These blush French Connection dresses are perfect for a spring wedding or garden party…

French Connection - San Diego Drape Strapless Dress - $288

French Connection - Spotlight Knits Dress - $168

FC - Hermione Beads V-Neck Dress - $228

These dressy blush Ted Baker London and Express shorts will keep you on-trend and cool at the same time!

Ted Baker London 'Topstitched Leather Shorts' - $325

Express - Mini Leopard Print Shorts - $59.90

A gorgeous blush Coach bag is always in season…

Coach Madison Cafe Handbag

Coach Madison Carrie Twisted

And, for those who want just a hint of the hot hue, these shades and nail/lip colors are a rosy solution.

TB Panama Blush Sunglasses

Yves Saint Laurent - La Laque Couture - 24 - Rose Abstrait - $27

Bobbi Brown Bare Peach Lip Gloss

So who’s ready to think pink this spring?!  With the compliments you’re sure to collect, you might find yourself saying, “Oh, don’t make me blush!”  Hooray for spring!

Claire Signature

The Jesus-Hearted Woman

The Jesus-Hearted Woman Cover
I really enjoy blogging, and one of the best perks of the job is hearing from companies and authors that you most admire.  I was delighted recently to hear from the publisher of “The Jesus-Hearted Woman,” by Jodi Detrick, asking if I’d consider reading the book and blogging my thoughts on its message.

As The CHiC Scribe is my repository of all-time favorites, it’s not altogether easy to bend my ear and inspire a post {that said, definitely shoot me an email if you’re interested!}  I asked the publisher to please send me a copy and that I’d be happy to read the book.

Two pages in I was hooked and couldn’t wait to share Detrick’s encouragement with others.

I’m sure many of you have heard of the book, “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life,” by best-selling author Joanna Weaver.  If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and pick it up.  Weaver wrote a great forward to “The Jesus-Hearted Woman” with these words…

“You’ll find practical advice in this book, but so much more.  I believe you’re going to find yourself falling more in love with Jesus as you discover what it means to belong to Him.  Drawn so close into His arms that you catch His heartbeat {italics mine}.  Held so near that your heart begins to beat in time with His.

“For you, my friend, were meant to be a Jesus-hearted woman: a humble, bold, and lovely woman who brings the love and life of the Lord to a broken-hearted world.  If you long to do something significant for God, this is the book that you’ve been looking for.  This is the book that you and I need.”

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always felt an almost magnetic pull toward the broken-hearted in our midst.  I’ve longed to {even in a small way} touch the lives of those most in need of love.  And you must only open your eyes to see them.  {One of these days, I’ll bite the bullet and get that counseling degree to work at it full time.}

I could break down Detrick’s book chapter-by-chapter, but there just isn’t space.  Instead, I’ll focus on her first chapter, which really impacted me.  “These Shoes are Too Big,” focuses on the leadership quality of confidence, but it also directly addresses one’s life purpose {What on earth are we here for, anyway?}

The Meaning of Life - Shakespeare
Anyone else yearn to make a difference and fulfill God’s unique mission for you?  Detrick addresses that noting, “But that stirring in your chest to use your gifts and abilities?  That urgency to do something about the broken lives around you?  Those dreams of how things could be different and what it might take to make them so?  That’s the heart of Jesus beating in you.”

Tapping into Your Potential

Regardless of your current situation, God can use you exactly where you are.  Do you have a lingering longing that you think might be out of your reach?  Detrick addresses the biggest obstacle to your success… namely, your doubt.  She considered the following questions when she was asked to assume a leadership role she found well above her head…

What if this is one of the things God put me on earth to do?  If I say no, will it be because I’m living a fear-based, instead of a faith-based life?  Is dread of failure bigger to me than wanting to do God’s will?  Do I really believe God can do amazing things through ordinary people who love and trust Him?  Do I really love and trust Him enough to say yes if I believe this is what He wants for me?  

Great questions that I’m sure we’ve all considered.  She goes on to admit that she didn’t have the academic degree, formal training or the credibility to assume that level of leadership.  What would others say?  {If we’re honest, doesn’t this question get us every time?}

She refers to Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” to challenge us on this.  It says, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.”  She notes, “‘Way leads on to way.’  When we take one way, it leads us on to another way and another and another…  places we could never foresee when we’re standing at the fork deciding whether to take the safe, predictable path or the less-traveled one that requires risk and trust.”

Be brave, little one

Aargh!  There’s that word trust again!  Always the hardest thing for me to master.  Doesn’t it always boil down to faith?   Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

And what could please God more than tapping into your God-given gifts and using them for His glory?  Detrick describes someone who meets this challenge as having, “gracious confidence.”  According to her, a person who embodies this trait…

  • Is comfortable in her own skin and doesn’t try to mimic the styles or gifts of others; she doesn’t yearn for someone else’s shoes.
  • Accepts both praise and criticism without setting her heart too completely on either.
  • Rests easy after she’s done her best {even if it’s not perfect}, knowing that outcomes are up to God and the free-will responses of others.
  • Laughs at herself and learns from her mistakes.

Detrick writes, “Gracious confidence means I take the gifts God has placed in me and develop them as fully as I can, in every way I can…  Gracious confidence will help my feet to grow into those too-big shoes.”

So, What is Your Sweet Spot?

What is your gift that you KNOW you’ve been given, but might be afraid to fully tap into?  No time like the present!  Detrick notes, “… there are a few things that are truly my sweet spot – things that I can learn to do well, that also make me come alive inside.”  There’s your passion and your invitation to take off!  I invite you to step away from the sidelines and jump headfirst into this talent.  Pay close attention to the passions God is stirring in your heart.  Detrick concludes her chapter with, “How about it, girlfriend…  are you ready for a new pair of shoes?”

Cinderella

That was just chapter one.  To purchase Jodi’s book for much more wisdom, click here.  You can also follow her on Twitter at @Jodi_Detrick and on Facebook at jodi.detrick.  With your God-given talent and His blessing, just imagine what He has in store…

Claire Signature

Best of Oscar Fashion Since 1929

Oscar Best Actress Dresses

It’s that time again, fashion friends… Oscar Sunday!  Since Gravity is the only nominated film I’ve seen pre-show, I’m not a great predictor of this year’s winners. But {like many ladies out there}, I wouldn’t miss the show for the fabulous fashion.  Isn’t it fun to live vicariously through those wearing vintage Dior and dripping with millions of Cartier jewels?  It’s a wanna-be princess paradise.

I bet most of us could name that ONE dress you always think of when Oscar fashion is mentioned.  Looking through pictures, I’ll find myself saying, “Yep, that was my favorite,” only to correct myself seconds later to say, “How could I forget THAT one?!”  Top of my head, I’d have to say that Hilary Swank’s truly stunning navy, backless Guy Laroche gown in 2005 was about as good as it gets.  The color + cut = Hollywood classic.

Hilary Swank 2005 - Guy Laroche

Then again, in my fashion book, Diane Kruger can do no wrong.  Here she is at the Oscars in Elie Saab in 2006.  She defines classic, understated beauty to me.  And I like that even the understated color of this dress keeps the focus squarely on her… no bold color needed.

Diane Kruger 2006 - Elie Saab

Here’s Penelope Cruz in another off-white winner at the Oscars in 2009 in Vintage Balmain.  That color brings to mind old Hollywood, romance and femininity…

Penelope Cruz 2009 - vintage Balmain

Penelope Cruz had a similar idea with this 2007 Atelier Versace gown.  {If ever there is a reason to don a larger-than-life, furry ball gown, the Oscars is it!}  I love the fitted bodice and full skirt, but I think it’s the gorgeous blush color that puts this one over the top.  Give that stylist a raise!  {Stay tuned for a strictly “blush” post this week!}

Penelope Cruz 2007 - Atelier Versace

Minimalist fashion at its finest.  Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga in 2007 was pretty wonderful.  {In fact, my twin sister’s wedding gown mirrored the large, feminine bow at the back.}

Nicole Kidman 2007 - Balenciaga

And while we’re on red, Heidi Klum’s 2008 John Galliano was quite spectacular.  I love the raised collar in the back balanced with the flowing train.

Heidi Klum 2008 - John GallianoWho can forget Halle Berry’s illusion top and burgundy train?  This Elie Saab stunner she wore to the Oscars in 2002 is one of a kind.  With her enviable figure and some strategic fashion tape, she pulled it off well!

Halle Berry 2002 - Elie Saab

I’m a firm believer that the simpler, the better.  And Beyonce’s 2005 Atelier Versace gown screamed Hollywood glamour to me.  I love the sophistication of the black velvet and the simple lines put the focus exactly where it belongs… on her.

Beyonce 2005 - Atelier Versace

Angelina Jolie had the same idea in 2009 with this elegant Elie Saab gown.  While I can’t say that the dress cemented a way into my memory, those fabulous emerald green earrings certainly did.

Angelie Jolie 2009 - Elie Saab

Gwyneth Paltrow took home the Oscar in 1999 wearing this memorable Ralph Lauren.  I’ve read how she regretted this choice following the event, but I think it’s youthful and lovely and ~ again ~ a great example of simple beauty.

Gwyneth Paltrow 1999 - Ralph Lauren

And back to true, Hollywood glamour.  Here are a couple of gorgeous shots of the impeccable Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn at the Oscars…

Grace Kelly 1955 - Edith Head

Audrey Hepburn 1954 - Givenchy

Do you have any favorites that I haven’t mentioned?  Are you planning on watching tonight?  Gather some fun girlfriends and a little wine and enjoy the fashion {not to mention the actual Oscars!}

Claire Signature

It’s Go Texan Day, Y’all!

Texas Flag
As any good Houstonian can tell you, today is a statewide holiday, of sorts ~ It’s “Go Texan Day,” y’all!  Texas pride is so big in this state, a one-day celebration hardly suffices.  But, after tonight’s Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (HLS&R) Bar-B-Que Cookoff, Go Texan Day officially kicks off a month of the world’s largest rodeo.

More than 2.5 million people will attend this year’s festivities, made possible by more than 28,000 volunteers from 82 exciting rodeo committees.  {I’m a proud former member of “Breeders Greeters,” but you can also join the Corral Club, Feed Store, Go Texan Contests, Mutton Bustin’, Parade, Rabbit and Trail Ride, to name a few…}

This year’s line-up of top performers offers a little something for everyone.  From Brad Paisley on March 4 and the Eli Young Band on March 5 to Usher on March 7, REO Speedwagon on March 10, Maroon 5 on March 13 and the Zac Brown Band on March 23, you’re in for a treat.

But Go Texan Day celebrates more than just the HLS&R, and here are a few reasons Texas Pride is nothing to sneeze at…


1.  Texas Can Claim the Greats:

Earl Campbell

The truly great Earl Campbell ~ pride of The University of Texas at Austin and native son of Tyler, Texas {homeboy of my hometown} ~ won the Heisman Trophy for the Longhorns and was drafted first overall by the classic Houston Oilers.  Plus, he’s a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.  {And did I mention that he’s a Tyler boy?  My beloved housekeeper growing up, Teenie, was good friends with and went to church with Earl Campbell’s mama.  BAM.  All roads lead to Tyler…}

Johnny Football

Johnny “Football” Manziel ~ also a Tyler boy, I might add ~ was the first freshman to ever win a Heisman Trophy.  It seems even our egos are bigger in Texas!  {As an aside, did you know that the Heisman Trophy is named after John William Heisman, the first full-time coach and athletic director at Rice University, right here in Houston?}

Willie Nelson

The one-and-only Willie Nelson was born in Abbot, Texas…

Real Cowboy Steve Martin

The hilarious Steve Martin was born in Waco, Texas…

George Strait

Country great George Strait was born in Poteet, Texas, and clearly, all his exes live in Texas…

matthew_mcconaughey

Longview boy and UT grad Matthew McConaughey on the field at a horns game…

Farrah Fawcett

Golden girl and UT Tri-Delta {woot, woot!} Farrah Fawcett was born in Corpus Christi.  {And word on the street is that she was kicked out of my sorority for an indiscretion with a fella in the shower on the second floor…  Well behaved women rarely make history.}

Luke and Owen Wilson
Luke and Owen Wilson were born in Dallas and Owen roomed with filmmaker Wes Anderson at UT…


II.  The Stars at Night are Big and Bright…

Stars at Night are Big and Bright

The sky at the UT’s McDonald Observatory in West Texas…


III.  These Classic Uniforms:

Astros Uniforms

Best vintage jersey of all time ~ Houston Astros…

Earl Campbell in Oilers Jersey

And the sweet Houston Oilers jerseys ~ on a Tyler boy of course…


IV.  The State Fair of Texas:

The State Fair of Texas

Big Tex {who unfortunately burned to the ground}, but was recently rebuilt…

Deep Fried

The Fair’s unique deep-fried innovations alone are worth a trip to Dallas ~ especially if deep-fried Twinkees, PB&J’s, Coca-Cola, cheese cake and Girl Scout cookies appeal to you…

V.  In Texas, it’s cool to grow up riding horses everyday and looking forward to those Thursday night rodeos…

Sarah and Claire Rodeo

My twin Sarah (left) with Tar Baby and me with the world’s best horse, Bob…

Horizontal Belt Buckles

And just to prove it, here are two high-point belt buckles we won many moons ago :)

Cheers to the many reasons why there truly is no place like home…

Happy Go Texan Day!

Claire Signature

Olympic Overtures

 

Sketch - Ralph Lauren 2014 Olympics Fashion

Ralph Lauren Sketch | 2014 Sochi Olympics

 

The 2014 Sochi Olympics may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carry on those patriotic pursuits in your early spring wardrobe!

I hopped onto the Kate Spade NY website recently and fell in love with some of these fun Red + White + Blue frocks and separates.  Kate Spade and Tory Burch are my perpetual fall-back favorites {you can never go wrong with these two!}, and sure enough, I found some bright, late winter looks to blast you out of the February doldrums.

You’ll also find some cute collectibles from Anthropologie {add to fave fall-backs above} to round out your Olympic-themed shopping spree.

Anyone else already missing your nightly fix of curling and cross-country skiing?  Keep that U-S-A pride going!  Here are a few colorful “uniforms” to get you started!

Kate Spade Britta Dress - $478

Kate Spade NY | Kiernan Dress | $378

 

Kate Spade Shira Striped Dress - Center - $398

Kate Spade NY | Shira Dress {center} | $398

 

Kate Spade Julian Dress

Kate Spade NY | Julian Dress | $398

 

Kate Spade Emile Dress

Kate Spade NY | Emile Dress | $798

 

Kate Spade Taylin Top

Kate Spade NY | Taylin Top | $278

 

Kate Spade Fremont Top

Kate Spade NY | Fremont Top | $258

 

Kate Spade Franny Coat

Kate Spade NY | Franny Coat | $598

 

Kate Spade Millie Blazer

Kate Spade NY | Millie Blazer | $428

 

Kate Spade Holland Skirt

Kate Spade NY | Holland Skirt | $328

 

Kate Spade Cory Dress

Kate Spade NY | Cory Dress | $428

 

Kate Spade Ashby Dress

Kate Spade NY | Ashby Dress | $448

 

Anthro - Pop Dot Blouse - $228

Anthropologie | Pop Dot Blouse | $228

 

Anthro - Legend & Song Dutch Wax Maxi Skirt - $178

Anthropologie | Legend & Song Dutch Wax Maxi Skirt | $178

 

Anthro - Spicetree Dress - $298

Anthropologie | Spicetree Dress | $298

 

Anthro - Pine Street Dress - $118

Anthropologie | Pine Street Dress | $118

 

Claire Signature

Wishing You a “Mary” Christmas

Oh Let Us Adore Him

Hello friends!

After a little break for life {blogging can be all-consuming!}, I’ve missed the CHiC Scribe and sharing and hearing from you!  While my posts may vary from frequent to only-when-especially inspired, I’m grateful for the blog and the inspiration I receive from readers all over the world.  Still amazed at the reach of social media…

Christmas is in less than a week, and finishing projects at the office and gift finding/wrapping/delivering has been numero uno on my priority list.  I’m sure you’re also making a list and checking it twice!  How easy it is to participate more in the Santa version of Christmas than the Jesus one.

This Christmas season, I’ve especially had Mary on my mind.  And specifically, Mary’s response to amazing, but truly terrifying news, and her complete willingness to be used by God despite her fears.  God’s announcement of His coming Son was met with as many different responses as the individuals who received it.  Sarah, Abraham’s wife, laughed {Gen. 18:9-5} and Zachariah doubted {Luke 1:18}.

Luke 1: 28-30 says, “Gabriel appeared to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored woman!  The Lord is with you!’  Confused and disturbed {to say the least, I’m sure!}, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.  ‘Don’t be frightened, Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for God has decided to bless you!  You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus.'”

I shutter to think what my response to such a divine proclamation would be.  I could most relate to a Bible character who heard the news and literally ran for the hills ~ I mean paralyzed by fear, not even waiting around for an explanation, 100 percent M.I.A. escapee.  And I’m in my 30s.  Mary was likely 16.  At 16, my biggest fear was not starting on the varsity volleyball team.  And that seemed monumental.

Mary simply asked how this could happen and Gabriel responded, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

Do you really believe that?  And do I?

Note:  She didn’t argue, barter or ask for a contingency plan.  She didn’t debate God’s timing {after all, she’s newly engaged, looking forward to married life and if you think unwed pregnancy is taboo now…}.

Despite her fear, Mary didn’t flee.  In fact, her response blows me away.  Luke 1:38 says, “Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever He wants.  May everything you have said come true.'”

What a novel response.  And how pleasing that must have been to God’s ears.  Mary didn’t presume to know more than God and she didn’t allow her fears to impair her trust.  She knew God and she knew that she could trust Him.  When He said that he was doing a great thing and that she had a role, Mary didn’t balk.  She just trusted and obeyed.  Yikes, what a lesson.

This Christmas, I’m realizing the tremendous role of doubt in my life ~ and its power to impede the miracles of God.  I love Jack Hayford’s commentary on this passage.  He said, “Mary thinks, ‘This is beyond me.’  Yes it is.  Every miracle of the Lord is beyond you…  You must be abandoned to the Word of God and say, ‘Lord, I trust you.  I don’t see how, but I’m not going to mess with it anymore.  I bring my mind under control of the word of your Spirit.’  Then, a miracle possibility will open up.”

Do you really believe that?  And do I?

In fact, he continues, “You do not have to live in the sub-miracle level.  The ‘Mary Miracle’ promise ~ the same power Mary experienced is available to work in you.”

Do you really believe that?  And do I?  Do our lives reflect that truth?

Do we live our lives with the expectancy that God will do great things through us {despite our lowly status, like Mary}?  According to the Bible, our lowly status ~ paired with our humility and willing heart ~ makes us even more likely vessels through which God accomplishes His will.

Feeling a little left out this Christmas?  Quite lonely and a bit adrift?  Perhaps not near the top of your game and just taking life a day at a time?  Take heart, you’re in good company.  God chose to come to earth as a lowly baby {despite his Kingship} to an unwed mom whose faith was bigger than her doubt ~ and all for you.

Mary had neither wealth nor prestige on her side, but she was chosen to help usher our Savior to the world.  Think God can’t use you?  Think again.

Mary’s greatest advantage was her abandonment to God’s will and willingness to be used by Him for a greater purpose.  She didn’t question his timing {as hard as it was to accept}.  She was open to his voice and she simply obeyed his command.  And she changed the course of history for all of us.

Mary’s role was invaluable to say the least.  But, to me, her unquestioning trust and obedience steals the show.

I wish us all a “Mary Christmas” this year.  What a divine gift that would be.

Claire Signature

Seeing with New Eyes

Seeing with New Eyes

 

 

As I mentioned here, the month of July has been an introspective one!  Sometimes it’s crazy how the days can feel like they’re flying by endlessly, while you plod along in an almost robotic, going-through-the-motions kind of autopilot.  Same routine:  Moan at my morning alarm, office by 9 a.m., generally work through lunch, inch through after-work traffic back home, get a run in if I’m lucky, bath and lights out for much-needed shut-eye to do it all again the next day.  Before you turn around, summer’s over!  For me, it’s so easy to fall into that mindset, sort of lost in my world, passing the trees and missing the forest entirely.  Kind of in a rut, I suppose, but not even really recognizing it.

Not only do I miss out on the “little” things {birdsong in the morning, a smile from a stranger, a chance to give a compliment}, I become fairly worthless to others and increasingly blue and ungrateful in the process.  A downward spiral of familiarity and whole days of missed joy.   Sometimes you need something to shake you up and make you see life with a whole new set of eyes.

Be careful what you wish for!  That happened for me a couple of weeks ago with an unexpected health scare that rattled my core.  A call from your doctor one day after a routine blood test to schedule your must-have surgery has a way of knocking off your blinders!  Second opinion?  No time, she says.  I ask her what she’s worried about; everything, she says.  {I tucked that comment away in my “Things I’d rather my doctor never say,” file, by the way}.

My sweet mom had flown to Colorado the day before; she caught the red-eye back the next day.  Unfortunately, I got this news on a Friday afternoon and had to wait until the following week for the diagnostic procedure.  Not a fun weekend.  A TON of fear and self-diagnosing from the Internet {always a bad idea, for the record}.  Long story short, I’m just fine.  Her diagnosis was not what she had feared and I’m on the road to recovery.

The whole episode ~ while it really made me rely on my faith {or lack of at times!} ~ produced in me a real gratitude and remarkable new perspective on the flip side.  Sounds silly to say, but I really did notice the birds singing and appreciate God’s sovereign protection in a new way.  When I woke up to hear that my biggest fear was just that, an unfounded worry, I felt like I had a second chance.  All the tiny things I often worry about seemed pretty petty when I got home from the hospital.  What does so-and-so think of me?  Why would she say something like that?  Does this dress make me look big?  Just not important.

What was important?  My sweet surgeon-friend who called me after her LONG workday to assuage my fears and laugh with me until close to midnight.  My other dear physician friend who called me the day before the procedure and ~ to this day ~ prayed one of the sweetest prayers over me that I’ve ever heard.  Another friend who brought me a gourmet meal made with herbs from her garden and a bright, cheery bouquet.  The double armful of gorgeous lilies from my aunt that made my bedroom smell lovely.  My parents who let me rail on them like a punching bag with my short temper and impatience in the days leading up.  My sweet pup who curled up next to me and provided pure THERAPY for me before and after.  God’s gentle way of handling me and imparting real peace when the future, if I let myself go there, seemed awfully dark and scary.

I dread scary times as much as anybody.  But I’m always amazed at how God pitches his tent smack-dab in the middle of it and ~ in the very midst of that tangible, vice-like fear ~ His presence is even more profound.  Like you can almost even see him with your eyes.

Because I know me {and human nature}, I realize that this new lease on life isn’t a permanent one.  Before long, I’ll be back on my hamster wheel and focusing on the every-day-ness of every day.  But maybe now I’ll remember how good it felt ~ if only for a moment ~ to breathe deeply, soak in the goodness and bask in the little blessings that always surround.

I learned that what I see depends greatly on what I look for.  Tomorrow, instead of moaning at my early-morning alarm, I’ll listen hard for those little bird voices just outside my window.  And I’ll make the conscious decision to let them chirp more loudly than my fears.

Claire Signature

Do You Like Who You’re Becoming?

 I Like Who I'm Becoming a Lot - Pink

 

 

 I saw a blog post recently in which the author posted two photos of herself in identical positions ~ one was taken five years ago and one was taken recently.  She went on to describe the ways her life had changed during that interval.  The post got me thinking ~ not so much about how my circumstances have changed over time, but how my heart and priorities have changed {or not!}.  Am I taking concrete steps to become the type of person I ultimately want to be?   At the end of my life, will I look back fondly at my progress and see how even difficult circumstances steered me to become a more faithful, others-focused, brave and thoughtful person?  Life is so short ~ there’s no time to waste! 

Quite an introspective week.

An old boyfriend once told me that I was one of the most self-aware people he’d ever known.  At the time, I remember laughing {as you can imagine!} and really didn’t know what to do with that!  Is that a good thing?  To myself I thought, “Please don’t equate “self-aware” with “self-absorbed!”  Of course, he meant it as a compliment, and lately I’ve grown to really appreciate his comment.  One thing is certain: life will continue to pass in a blink and we’re the only ones who can change our course and direct our journey.

So I set out to make a list of some big-picture priorities I hope to continually inch toward.  Clearly, this isn’t an overnight progression, but hopefully by making your own list {and sticking it to your fridge or tacking it to your inspiration board where you see it daily}, you’ll be proud of the {insert your own name} you see upon reflection in five MORE years!

For example, here are some characteristics of the me I’d like to be.  My “ideal” Claire…

 

  • Knows the best {and strongest} things often come in little packages

Thought She Be Little

 

  • Is a princess {a daughter of the King}

Crown Love

 

  • Is true to herself, while respecting others

Be You Bravely

Be Yourself Everyone Else is Taken

 

  • Stretches her wings

Dare to Fail

mistakes are OK

 

  • Flexes her faith muscles {daily}

Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith

You Are Not Alone and This is Not the End of Your Story

 

  • Stays attuned to the needs of others

Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle

 

  • Knows it’s all about the journey

Life is a Beautiful Struggle 2

Your Journey is Unfolding Exactly as it Should be

Long Journey Begins with a Single Step

 

  • Gives herself {and others} GRACE

Be Nice to Yourself

 

  • Goes confidently in the direction of her dreams {like Henry David Thoreau}

She Believed She Could, So She Did

 

  • Remains grounded and in the Word

A Bible That's Falling Apart

 

  • Clings to HOPE as an anchor

But as for me, I will always have hope

Hold on to Hope

Don't Let These Waves Wash Away Your Hope

There are Far Better Things Ahead

 

  • Refuses to give in to fear {that’s a tough one}

Girl with Bird on Head

When I am Afraid

With Brave Wings She Flies

 

  • Picks her battles

Pick Your Battles

 

  • Trusts, above all, that she is loved

His Eye is on the Sparrow 2

You Are Loved More than you will Ever Know

How Glorious the Human Heart

 

  • Keeps her eye on the prize

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

 

  • Holds herself to a standard of GRACE, not PERFECTION Grace Not Perfection

A Beautiful Thing is Never Perfect

 

  • Values only those opinions that matter {be they from friends, family or canines}

Your Value

No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Flags

 

  • Doesn’t let the turkeys get her down

Don't Bring Me Down

 

  • Recognizes the value of holding still

Be Still and Know

Be

 

  • Always prays firstDid you think to pray

Takes Time to Pray

Pray Hardest When it is Hardest to Pray

 

  • Lives gratitude

Live Gratitude

Say Thank You

 

  • Is an encourager

You Look Lovely Today

You're the Bees KneesYou're Imperfect, but you are WORTHY

 

  • Values her role in the big scheme of things

It's Not About You

Help People + Your Talent

 

  • Knows when to let it goLet it Go
  • Lets her little light shine

Let Your Light Shine - Pink

 

 

Those of you in the business world, like me, would never embark on a professional goal without a business plan.  Why not make your own YOU plan to keep you on track with some helpful, measurable results down the road?

Now it’s your turn!  Who do you want to see smiling back at you in the mirror next year?  And what are you doing to seek her out?!

If you’ve mastered any of the above goals, leave a comment to share the secrets of your success.  Know another gal who needs a confidence booster?  Send her this post and let her know that she’s cornered the market as an encourager, fear-buster, prayer warrior or dream chaser!  We can all use an encouraging pat on the back ~ and {if you share my personal goals above}, you’re one step closer to your ideal YOU!

Claire Signature

Star Spangled Style

Perfect Dress for the Fourth

 

 

Independence Day is upon us and it’s time to ring in the holiday with your best red, white and blue.  Whether you’re hitting the pool with your friends or braving the heat at a family BBQ, it’s fun to add a bit of festivity to your get-togethers! For inspiration, I’ve posted a few outfit ideas, ranging from all-out American to just a pop of color to show your patriotic pride.

While the color scheme {red, white and blue} is an obvious choice, here are a few key staples that will make you a style standout at any July 4 gathering…

  • White is always right {even head to toe, with a red clutch or strappy sandals to kick it up}
  • Red, white or navy stripes scream, “I’m here for the party!”
  • Same goes for polka dots
  • White slacks or skinny jeans are a great foundation for your July 4 attire
  • A white button down {sleeves rolled up} tucked into short navy shorts and flat gold sandals are a win-win-win
  • Maxi dresses are so hot ~ and comfortably cool ~ this season.  Don a solid red/blue one or a long striped sundress and you’re ready to go
  • Another trend I LOVE for summer…. A full or pleated maxi skirt in a solid color with a fitted white tank is perfect for a summer shindig
  • I’m crazy for one-piece rompers this season, too.  A solid blue or red romper with nude espadrilles is tailor-made for poolside parties

 

 

Holiday Style

Anchors and Stripes

All American Fashion

Red and Blue Maxi

stripes + solid

Red White and Blue Style

Kate Moss Stripes

Polka Dot Sheer

Ann Taylor Shorts

{I have these shorts and love them ~ Ann Taylor ~ $58}

 

 

If these outfits are a little red, white and blue for your taste, you can always stick with white and add some patriotic accessories for a more understated holiday look.

 

 

Red White and Blue Bangles

Cloth Bangles

{How cute are these wide fabric bangles?}

 

 

Marbled Cuff

 

 

Regardless of your outfit, in our 100+ degree Texas weather, a wide-brimmed hat {and plenty of sunscreen, of course!} will make you look equally CHiC and smart.

 

 

Bed Red Hat

Juicy Couture Scarf

{Juicy Couture ~ Glorious Dot Scarf ~ $68)

 

 

While I’m always for a bright red pout, my favorite NARS Velvet Matte lip pencil in Pop Life is perfect for the Fourth.

 

 

Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Luxembourg

 

 

Who doesn’t like some patriotic polish?  Here are three great holiday colors for your fingers and toes.

 

 

Sephora Red White and Blue

{Red ~ Date a Prince; White ~ Under the Covers; Blue ~ Shark Attack}

 

 

Fourth of July

{Old Glory lines the shop fronts of charming Fredericksburg, Texas}

 

 

Have a wonderful Fourth of July!  Let me know if you’re planning one of these all-American styles ~ or have another classic look of your own!

A hearty thanks to our brave soldiers and veterans this Independence Day.  We celebrate you this week for your sacrifices all year.

“Freedom’s natal day is here.

Fire the guns and shout for freedom,

See the flag above unfurled!

Hail the stars and stripes forever,

Dearest flag in all the world.”

~ Florence A. Jones

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

~ Erma Bombeck

Claire Signature

Let’s Talk Tulle

Fluffy Black Tulle

 

 

Let’s Talk Tulle…  As you may have gathered (or seen on my Pinterest page), I love all things girly.  Ruffles, bows, pleats, you name it.  Some of my favorite pictures on Pinterest have been of fun tulle skirts, paired in a casual way with t-shirts, tank tops or blue jean jackets.  Dressy AND casual, you might be asking?  I love it!  While I generally achieve this by wearing a dressy, bling statement necklace with a cotton top, or even pearls with jeans, I hadn’t been able to find a fab tulle skirt… until last weekend in Fredericksburg, TX!  Leave it to a Texas girl to throw on a ballerina-esque skirt with some tall, pointy-toed cowboy boots and a white, V-neck t-shirt for a night on the town!

I hear some rumblings of dissent among you, and I’ll admit it’s not for everyone.  But sometimes you’ve got to go a little out on a limb when it comes to fashion and be brave enough to make your own statement ~ doubters be darned!  Of course, my new tulle skirt below also would look lovely paired with strappy heels for a wedding or fancy brunch, or with cute flats, a.k.a. Audrey Hepburn.

 

 

Tulle Skirt

 

 

Here are the truly FABULOUS, Old Gringo cowboy boots I mentioned {not at all ashamed to say they are my very favorite thing in my closet, and often live propped up in my bedroom so I can love on them}.

 

 

Tall Boots

 

 

They come up almost to my knees and are so pointy they turn up at the tips.  And I wouldn’t hesitate to pair them with tulle.  When in Texas, right?

 

 

IMG_3206

 

 

Here’s another shot of those yummy boots {which also look great tucked into skinny jeans)…

 

 

Claire Boots

 

 

Here are a few other Pinterest-inspired pairings to make you catch the tulle-skirt bug…

 

 

Celedon Tulle

Favorite Tulle Skirt

Polka Dot Tulle

Tulle and Military Jacket

Poofy cream tulle

Sweater and Tulle

 

 

Hope you have a great week!  And look in your closets to find some dressy/casual matches of your own!

Claire Signature

What is Beauty, Anyway?

The Enigma of Beauty - National Geographic Magazine

If you’re a fan of fashion magazines, purveyor of Pinterest, or even a mind-your-own-business grocery shopper who happens to glance at the magazine rack in line, it’s fairly clear what passes as beautiful these days… and it’s a microscopic mold {referring both to how few actually fit into that elite group and the size of its groupies}.

The constant bombardment of beauty ~ as defined by society and rained down on women from billboards, glossy magazines and ads ~ is enough to send most women running for the hills… or at least under the covers with a pint of Rocky Road.  If you aren’t at least 5’9″, fit into a size 0 or 2 and can proudly wear white skinny jeans without sheltering under a cover-your-derriere top, then have you missed the beauty boat entirely?   Is there any hope this summer for those who see “swim suit” as a couple of the nastiest four-letter-words around?

Does society win when it comes to defining beauty, and if so, what happens to the VAST majority of women who find themselves on the short end of the beauty stick?  Sometimes I’d like to take that stick and knock some sense into society.

Warning

Society's Beautiful

I LOVE the illustration above and knew I wanted to write about it the second I laid eyes on it.  Clearly one blog post won’t eradicate a widespread, skewed vision of beauty, but at least some retailers are putting on their big-girl panties {pun intended} and taking a stand.  Just this week, H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson admitted that models in the company’s ad campaigns have sent the wrong message.  He said, “Some of our models have been too skinny.  That’s not okay.  We have a huge responsibility here.  We’re a large company, many people see us, and we advertise a lot… I believe that the models in our advertising should look sound and healthy.”  Bravo to that.

And the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty launched after Dove performed a global study on beauty.  Their study, “The Real Truth About Beauty: A World Report” confirmed society’s very narrow definition of beauty.  They found:

  • Just 12 percent of women noted they were very satisfied with their physical attractiveness
  • Only 2 percent of women described themselves as beautiful
  • 68 percent strongly agree that the media sets an unrealistic standard of beauty
  • 75 percent wish the media would do a better job of portraying the diversity of women’s physical attractiveness, including size and shape, across all ages.

That’s pretty tragic to me.

These companies’ public stances are especially refreshing in the shadow of Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries’ ridiculous comments earlier this year.  When asked to comment about why the retailer doesn’t carry women’s clothes above a size 10, he said, “In every school, there are the cool and popular kids and there are the not-so-cool kids.  Candidly, we go after the cool kids.  We go after the attractive, all-American kid with a great attitude and lots of friends.  A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.  Are we exclusionary?  Absolutely.”

Apparently that can work both ways.  U.S. sales for A&E fell 17 percent in the first quarter of this year, with future profit forecasts cut, as well.  I also saw a national news story about a mom and her kids who boxed up all their A&E clothes in the wake of this scandal and mailed them back to the company with a note to the CEO.  Bravo to her.

In light of all this, I was especially delighted to read about a new magazine {its first issue is this month!} called Verily ~ that is by women, for women.  Its website states, “When we started Verily, we knew that women needed something different: a magazine that spoke to their hearts as women and celebrated who they are, not just what they’re told they should be.”  The editors note that the many competing messages {noise} in the world lead to a narrative, particularly in women’s magazines, that often winds up leaving women feeling “not enough.”  We’ve all been there.  I read this letter from the editor, and promptly subscribed to the pub.  Bravo to them!

 

Sara Kerens, Verily Magazine, First Date shoot, March 2013

 

I’m reminded of a great verse that says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The LORD does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'”  {1 Samuel 16:7}

Just some encouraging words to stick in the back pocket {of your white skinny jeans you need to be proudly rocking this summer!}  Let’s try to separate society’s false reality from the TRUTH that surrounds us.

 

You are Beautiful Just the Way You Are

 

“A thing of beauty {you!} is a joy forever.” | John Keats

Claire Signature

Stylish Swim: the Maillot

Anthropologie Marysia Molokai Swimsuit

{Anthropologie Marysia Molokai One-Piece | anthropologie.com}

 

 

With so many cute swimwear trends out there for summer 2013, I couldn’t stop at one bathing suit post!  A close second, in my book, to the retro/vintage swim trend is the ever-popular and universally flattering maillot.  It’s a go-to suit when you envision yourself chasing little ones around the pool, participating in any sport or athletic activity or just chilling poolside if you’re a little on the modest side.

But forget the one-pieces you grew up with {or have seen your mom wear for ages}, these suits are so stylish, you won’t sacrifice a bit of panache with your pool mates.  Great details ~ like little gold belts that accentuate your waist, gold accents, ruched sides and deep-V necks will have you turning heads as you sashay along the seashore!

As I was gathering these stylish shots, I kept thinking how cute any one these maillots would be worn under colorful skinny jeans, or even with black slacks as you head from the water’s edge to the to the restaurant for dinner or drinks.  Carry a soft pashmina with you to drape over your shoulders in the cool AC inside, and you’ve got a darling outfit for a night out!

For the next six photos, I pulled from Vogue’s great, “Dive In: 45+ Suits for Summer” spread that you can find here.

 

 

Kriss Soonik Swim Splash Swimsuit

{Kriss Soonik Swim Splash One-Piece | kriss-soonik.com}

 

 

Emilio Pucci Light Suit

{Emilio Pucci Light Suit | emiliopucci.com}

 

 

Charlie by Matthew Zink Frankie Underwire One-Piece

{Charlie by Matthew Zink Frankie Underwire One-Piece | charliebymz.com}

 

 

Shoshanna Twist Bandeau One-Piece

{Shoshanna Twist Bandeau One-Piece | Shoshanna.com}

 

 

Ete Mimi One-Piece

{Ete Mimi One-Piece | modaoperandi.com}

 

 

Miu Miu Swimsuit - $215

{Miu Miu One-Piece | 212.334.5156}

 

 

Norma Kamali Kamali Kulture Shirred Dot Mio One-Piece - $74

{Norma Kamali Shirred Dot Mio One-Piece | normakamali.com}

 

 

Per the norm, I love Tory Burch and found swim style tips from the designer.  When asked about classic styles and what she prefers to wear, she said, “Certain looks never go out of style and work for anyone, like a classic maillot with gold hardware.  I love looks with color and a little extra detail like O- or D- rings or ties.  If I’m going to do something active, like surf lessons, I wear maillots.  I also wear bikinis with boy-cut shorts…”  Here are a couple of maillots in her summer 2013 collection:

 

 

TB Solemar One-Piece - $225

{Tory Burch Solemar One-Piece | toryburch.com}

 

 

TB Logo One-Shoulder Maillot - $225

{Tory Burch Logo One-Shoulder Maillot | toryburch.com}

 

 

Happy Summer!

Claire Signature

Swim: Retro CHiC

Dolce & Gabbana Striped bandeau bikini - $660

{Dolce & Gabbana Striped Bandeau Bikini | net-a-porter.com}

 

 

It’s OFFICIAL… Summer has arrived!  In the shadow of Memorial Day, the search is on for a CHiC swimsuit to make me look extra cool poolside while I watch the thermostat rise, rise, rise!  Since you may be in the same boat, I thought I’d take you along as I navigate the waters {no pun intended} of swimsuit shopping.  I’ve planned a series of posts to hit some of the hot swimwear trends of 2013, but I had to start with my forever favorite ~ Retro CHiC!  After seeing Kate Upton on the June cover of Vogue, I did a mini-dance and celebrated this trend that has never really left, in my book.

The figure-flattering look harkens back to the bombshell beauties of bygones past and will give you an old-Hollywood-glam attitude.  While most of these suits are designer pieces {with the accompanying designer price tags!}, they’ll give you an idea to take with you as you seek out your own vintage beach look.  Here are a few classic retro-swim hallmarks to keep in mind as you search:

  • High-waisted, belly-taming bottoms;
  • Cinched-in waists;
  • Sweetheart and halter necklines;
  • Shirred sides that accentuate the waist and hips;
  • Fuller-cupped tops; and
  • Boy-legged bottoms

I had so much fun pulling this post together because I love just about every retro suit I came across.  Pair any one of them with some classic Ray-Ban Aviators and a fabulous hat {plus sunscreen, of course!} and you’ll take the pool by storm!

 

 

Kate Upton - June Vogue

{Kate Upton, June Vogue | Photographed by Mario Testino}

 

 

Kate-Upton---June-Vogue-Crop

{Kate Upton, June Vogue | Photographed by Mario Testino}

 

 

Clube-Bossa-Swim_

{Club Bossa Swim | clubebossa.com}

 

 

Huit Top and Bottom_

{Huit Swimwear 2013}

 

 

Lisa Marie Fernandez Poppy High-Waisted Bikini - $398

{Lisa Marie Fernandez Poppy High-Waisted Bikini | lisamariefernandez.com}

 

 

Adriana Degreas Hot Pants Silk Bikini - $470

{Adriana Degreas Hot Pants Silk Bikini | shopstyle.com}

 

 

All the suits below I pulled from Vogue’s fabulous “Dive In: 45+ Suits for Summer” spread.  It’s a super run-down of this summer’s hottest swimsuit trends to help you out in your own swimsuit quest.  {Photographer Marko MacPherson | Stylist Bill Laughlin}…

 

 

Prism St. Tropez Bikini Top and Hollywood Bikini Bottom

{Prism St. Tropez Bikini Top and Hollywood Bikini Bottom | prismlondon.com}

 

 

Eres Algebre Top and Alpax Bottoms

{Eres Algebre Top and Alpax Bottoms | eresparis.com}

 

 

Gossard Egoboost Plunge Bikini Top and Retro HighWaisted Shorts

{Gossard Egoboost Plunge Bikini Top and Retro High-Waisted Shorts | asos.com}

 

 

Thapelo Bibi Bandeau and Angie High-Waisted Briefs

{Thapelo Bibi Bandeau and Angie High-Waisted Briefs | nancymeyer.com}

 

 

Clube Bossa Feline-Print Twist Bandeau and High-Waisted Bottoms - $362

{Clube Bossa Feline-Print Twist Bandeau and High-Waisted Bottoms | clubebossa.com}

 

 

Baku Balconette Color-Blocked Bikini and High-Waisted Bottoms

{Baku Balconette Color-Blocked Bikini and High-Waisted Bottoms | asos.com}

 

 

Makes you want to grab your best friend and head to the beach in a retro two-piece {CHiC cover-up in tow, of course!}  Be a vintage vixen in a retro suit this summer and let me know if you opt for this trend!  Cheers to SUMMER!

Claire Signature

Memorial Day Style Guide

Happy MEMORIAL DAY weekend!  As we all head out for fun pool parties or family get-togethers, I thought I’d offer you a few outfit ideas to keep you CHiC as you ring in the holiday!
*******
As it turns out, I stuck with two of my favorites in pulling together this Memorial Day wardrobe ~ J. Crew and Tory Burch.  Hard to miss with either brand and these are just three outfits from many I could have pulled together.  In my book, the name of the game this weekend {and for most of the summer} boils down to the three C’s… Cool, Crisp and COLOR!  And I’ll definitely add WHITE to that color palette.
*******
From now through Labor Day, when in doubt, don a white sundress, peasant blouse or skinny jeans to stay on top of warm-weather trends.  As you’ll see in the outfits above, pairing whites or brights with bold metallics {see silver J. Crew wedges in outfit one; classic gold-rimmed Ray Bans in outfit two; or bold gold accessories with crisp white in outfit three} are always a hit!
*******
You’ll also notice the hats in each outfit!  Having a dermatologist as one of my dearest friends, hats and sunglasses are musts when I leave the house this summer!  And thanks to the popularity of all things Gatsby, cloche hats like this one from Anthropologie, floppy rims for poolside like the J. Crew beauty in the second post, and Panama hats ~ that are having such a moment right now, you can find CHiC toppers just about anywhere!
*******
Have a great time at your parties tomorrow and don’t forget to remember those we especially honor on Monday, like my handsome grandfather here and my dad {note to self: ask my grandmother for a photo of dad in uniform!}
Claire Signature

Hats Off to Derby Day

HAT - Erin Andrews Kentucky Derby Hat

 

Derby Day!  And the only thing more enticing than the mint juleps are the fabulous derby hats!  It it were up to me, I’d wear a fascinator every week {too bad I live in Houston and not London!}  But today was a great day to whip out your fancy toppers ~ and the bigger, flashier and feathery the better!

 

HAT - Kentucky Derby Hat - Black

HAT - Kentucky Derby Hat - Bloom

HAT - Kentucky Derby Peacock

HAT - Kentucky Derby Brown

I didn’t say ALL the derby hats were stylish.  Some are definitely statement pieces!  I’ll give this one a neigh, er, nay…

HAT - Kentucky Derby Hat - Horse

 

Truth be told, I’m really taking advantage of today’s derby fashion to write about my favorite new fedora.  With spring in full swing and summer around the corner, I love the idea of shading my face from the sun ~ especially if you can do it in true CHiC style.  As I wrote in my Easter post, not everyone can pull off the hat look, for one main reason… CONFIDENCE!  If you walk in the room carefree and confident {instead of hiding underneath an are-you-sure-I-don’t-look-silly brim}, you’ll have gals seeking their nearest J. Crew to copy your look!

Some folks exude confidence with a hat and fedoras are an especially stylish, carefree, summer look.  Below, you’ll find current styles from {top to bottom} J. Crew, Tory Burch and Banana Republic.  I tried on all three and fell in love with the third one from Banana {but all three looks are great}.  It will look stylish with jeans and a black blazer, a tank top and maxi skirt or a little sheath sundress and Ray-Ban aviators.

 

HAT - J Crew Panama Hat

HAT - Tory Burch - Classic Grosgrain Fedora

HAT - Sara Bow Fedora - Banana Republic

HAT - Banana Republic - 2013

Let today inspire you to bring out your own spring/summer hats and wear them with confidence!

Claire Signature

What About Bob(s)?

adorable bob

 

With next month’s release of The Great Gatsby, I know what’s on my radar for May!  In addition to the great story, great 1920s costumes and great acting, there’s another element that I can’t help but love… the great bob haircuts!  Universally flattering for all face shapes, it’s a wonderful way to volumize fine hair, it’s so simple to style and it always looks CHiC.  A fashion staple for nearly a century, this classic cut is here to stay.

In fact, InStyle Magazine includes the bob under its, “What’s Right Now” category on its website and notes that, “bob haircuts are having a moment.”  Whether collarbone-skimming, tousled or 1920s short, it’s hard to go wrong with this cut.  Jennifer Lawrence, Nikki Reed, Katharine McPhee and Christina Hendricks are just a few of the celebs who have adopted the look recently.

I’ll take a few of these pictures into my hairdresser this afternoon and may just look like the gal above tonight!  {I’m heading to a 1920s-themed gala this evening, so shouldn’t my tresses also play the part?}

 

Darling Bob

model bob

Rachael Taylor sleeveless dress

sultry bob

black and white bob

bob with bangs

Elle Magazine also wrote about the cut recently and pulled in the expertise of Rodney Cutler {stylist behind Emma Watson’s short ‘do} for some tips on perfecting the bob.  Here’s what he had to say…

“Add instant elegance to short hair by adding a deep part.  Try using a pomade to keep fly-aways at bay…”

“The beauty of short hair is that you are probably going to have more good hair days!”

“Deciding to go short is all about the adaptation to suit one’s face shape.  It’s all about making sure you work in sync with your natural texture.”

“Those willing to take the chop must be willing to maintain it.  There is more upkeep – with regular visits to the salon.”

Elle contributing editor Johanna Cox also lauds the chin-length chop:

{Referring to Michelle Williams’ bob}  “[It] is indeed a chic in-between cut that goes just as well with skinny jeans in Brooklyn as it does a Chanel gown in the south of France.”

{Referring to Selma Blair’s short cut}  “This cut, in my view, is what keeps the nearly 39-year-old actress looking more youthful than those 10 years her junior.”

While I probably won’t go Daisy Buchanan short {Carey Mulligan in Gatsby} in my hairdresser’s chair this afternoon, a fairly close-cropped version is likely in my future.  Anyone else a big fan of the bob?  Has the movie made you reconsider your look?  Let me know!

Claire Signature

Round Top Antique Market {Part Deux}

Antique Chest of Drawers

 

I had so much fun at last weekend’s Round Top Antique Market ~ and I took so many pictures ~ that the event warranted a second blog post!  In today’s post, I’ll share with you part of my inspiration for making a trip to Round Top this year, along with my surprise at what I found!

As you may have seen on my Pinterest page, I’m rather fond of inspiration boards {especially to place over my writing desk in my sunroom}.  I love how they keep creativity close at hand and colorful ideas always top of mind.  My one goal for this year’s market was to find a large, antique frame to serve as the foundation for my new inspiration board.  Here’s the idea of what I’m going for…

 

Feminine Inspiration Board

 

I assumed that, since the frame was empty and held no painting, it would be very reasonably priced ~ WRONG!  Each of the large frames pictured below, which would make lovely additions to my writing spot, cost upwards of $900!  I hadn’t quite budgeted $1,000 for this creative project!

 

Inspiration Board Frames 2

Inspiration Board Frames 3

Inspiration Board Frames

 

It seems creativity doesn’t come cheap!  On my way out of town, I stopped by one last market and found some new frames, which wasn’t my original plan, but they fit the budget {especially because you can get some steals on the last day when the dealers are closing up shop on the show!}  Here are a couple that piqued my interest…

 

Inspiration Board Frame 2

Inspiration Board Frame 5

 

I loved this last one, which is MUCH larger than it looks, and I settled on a price with the dealer ~ DONE.  Imagine my frustration when it wouldn’t fit in my car!  Such a bummer.  I finally found it… and then I couldn’t get it home!  And it would cost the price of the frame to ship it from Atlanta.  Rats.  The dealer promised me the same price when he returns to Round Top in early October, so I may have to hold off on the inspiration board until fall when I can bring an SUV.

Speaking of frames, also on my radar for the trip were small, gold filigree, antique frames.  I bought my first two at last year’s HADA Antique Show in Houston, and I wanted to grow my collection.  Round Top didn’t disappoint, as you can see below…

 

Antique Gold Frames 2

Antique Gold Frames

Antique Frames 2

Gold Antique Frames

 

From antique frames to the pictures they hold…  I was delighted to find these antique photos that spoke volumes without a single word.  Don’t you just wonder who these characters are and the secrets they keep?  You could write a novel from the expression on one of their faces.

 

Antique Sepia Photos

Antique Sepia Photo

Awkward Basketball Photo

{Truth be told, I snapped this one because it’s so awkward, it hurts. Never seen a team picture like it!}

 

I also came across a little gold locket {circa 1890} ~ similar to these ~ that I bought, with ornate engraved initials on the outside.  And inside, it held a vintage sepia photo of a woman from ages ago!  In addition to its vintage allure, it will look great stacked with other gold necklaces.

 

Antique Lockets

 

Here is my locket {open and closed} and the vintage photo that came inside!  You can’t see them in the photo, but she’s wearing a strand of pearls.  Gal after my own heart…

 

Locket Open

Locket Closed

 

Bibliophile that I am, I especially love antique books… the stories they hold, the countless fingers that have handled them and their musty smell that takes you back generations.  Yummy.  One booth in particular was filled to the brim and a treat to behold…

 

Antique Books

Bibles

Bound Antique Books

Books in French Antique Papers

Works of Plato - $50,000

This book, the complete writings of Plato, costs $50,000!

 

Here are are some final snapshots from the show…

 

Antique Horse 2

French Sun 2

Large Panel

Vintage Pillows 2

Vintage Boxes

Vintage UT

{Vintage UT pennant! How much I’d love to buy it for my 93-year-old grandmother ~ the most hard-core Longhorn fan I know!}

 

And it wouldn’t be Texas without a sheriff on horseback…

 

Texas Sheriff

 

Happy Trails!

Claire Signature

Round Top Antique Market

Round Top Historical Sign

 

I love Round Top time!  If you’re not from Texas, the twice-yearly Round Top Antique Market is one of the best in the nation.  {Case in point, my mother, a wonderful interior designer, ran into a team of Martha Stewart designers collecting ideas and photos for the magazine!}  It really is a blast and a great way to enjoy a beautiful April afternoon amid the bluebonnets and longhorns that pave the way along Hwy 237 near Austin.

I’d usually recommend making a girls’ day out of it and taking along some good girlfriends, but ~ since this was a last-minute trip ~ I spontaneously hopped in the car by myself and had one of the most fun Saturdays I’ve had in a long time.  When you go by yourself, you also get to take your time and don’t have to try to keep up with your buddies.

Think fields and fields of enormous white tents filled with booths of antique dealers from Florida to Maine ~ and the people are as charming as the finds!  My favorite is Marburger Farm, where you can grab a glass of iced tea or wine and mosey in and out of booths with English, French, Swedish, etc… antiques and collectables from fine 18th century chests to tiny, gold filigree frames {look for a whole post on those soon!  Much too much to put into one blog post.}

 

Flowers and Linens

{I love this lazy snapshot of a dealer in the background with wonderful French antiques and linens laid out for shoppers to peruse.}

 

Lavender Swan

{What a great way to display lavender {so French and CHiC} inside a beautiful swan!}

 

Lavender

 

I’ll admit to being a crown aficionado… love them.  My house would be filled with crowns if I had the space!  I love to collect them and would almost give my right arm for the gorgeous French boiserie below ~ doesn’t matter that I don’t have a space for it in my house!

 

French Crown Panel

Antique Books and Crown

Gold Crown

Petite Gold Crown

Crowns

 

Here are a few shots of some other lovely treasures I saw along the way…

 

Antique Silver

{Antique silver}

 

Copper Bucket

Copper Pail

Vintage Apothecary Jars

{Vintage apothecary jars}

 

Round Top even offers fun fashion finds, like the vintage Louis Vuitton luggage below!  How fun to decorate a sunroom with stacks of these beside a settee?

 

Antique LV Luggage

Antique LV Luggage 4

Antique LV Trunk - $14,500

{This lovely looker is almost as tall as I am, and you can make it yours for a cool $14,500!}

 

You’ll even find vintage Chanel!  Be still my beating heart… a case full of vintage Chanel handbags in the middle of a central Texas field alone make the one and a half-hour drive from Houston worth it!

 

Vintage Chanel Handbags 3

 

I’m also a big fan of beautiful trumeau mirrors {originally manufactured in France in the 18th century}.  As I love anything French, these are some of my favorite finds from this Round Top trip.

 

French Mirror

Antique Mirror

{And how cute is the little side table in the mirror?}

 

French Mirror 2

French Mirror 3

 

On my way from Houston to Round Top, I HAD to stop along the side of Hwy 290 to join the throngs of folks taking advantage of the beautiful day and fields and fields of happy bluebonnets.  It doesn’t get more Texan than this!  I played the part of the obnoxious photog and got some irresistible shots of kiddos in the fields {of course, I asked their parents first!  Too hard for a photographer to turn down little ones in bluebonnets!}  Truly random, I know, but I couldn’t resist ~ they were everywhere!

 

Little Boys in Bluebonnets

Claire in Bluebonnets 2

{You get a glimpse of the acres of bluebonnets behind me! Only in the Lone Star State!}

 

Like I said, much too much to share in one blog post!  What a fun Texas weekend in the sunshine.  Stay tuned for some great ideas for inspiration boards, along with beautiful French panels and darling gold frames that are made for your bedside table!

Claire Signature

Easter Table CHiC

Little Nests

Easter is such a special time of the year and a favorite part of the day is sitting down with family and friends for Easter brunch.  With everyone from little-bitties to adults in their Sunday finest, there’s no reason to neglect the table!  I found several lovely Easter tables on Pinterest and thought I’d share a few with you, along with some recipes for decor that tastes as delicious as it looks!

{For the photo above, you can purchase the paper Easter grass {in Cappuccino} at Blumchen.com and the brown-butter ganache robin’s eggs at WoodhouseChocolate.com to make these little nests.}

Bunny Bowl

Bunny Table

Grass Runner

Bunny Plate

Blue Easter Eggs

Bunny Napkin 2

Bunny Napkin Directions

I found this folded bunny napkin and fell in love.  Such an easy way to add a springtime feel to the table, and a great activity to do with your kiddos or nieces and nephews on Saturday afternoon!  I found the folding directions on ~ where else? ~ MarthaStewart.com…  Pretty simple, huh?  Pick out a linen napkin in a soft pastel color, and voila!  Bunny magic.

Easter Menu

Bunny Name Card

Here is another way to infuse the bunny theme on your table in a practical way ~ via menu or name card!  These are simple to make, but will make a significant impact!  I found the idea from Matthew Mead on a great blog, MissMustardSeed.com.  All you’ll need is the rabbit template that you’ll find here, some double-sided, matte white brochure paper, scissors, glue, a single hole punch and white mini carnations from the grocery.

Chocolate Nests

And how cute are these little chocolate nests?  They’re easier to make than you’d think. Here are the directions {again, courtesy Martha Stewart!}

1.  Blow up balloons, twisting and clamping ends with binder clips.  Do not tie ends, since the air must be let out slowly later.  Dunk balloon straight down into tempered chocolate, wait a minute, and dunk again.  Rest balloon clip side down in a small bowl, and refrigerate to set for 20 minutes.  Repeat process to create as many nests as you like.

2.  To make twigs to fill the nest shells with, cover baking sheets with parchment paper.  Dip a rubber spatula into tempered chocolate and wave over lined baking sheet, trailing chocolate over entire surface.  Refrigerate to set for five to ten minutes.  Repeat to create as many twigs as you like.

3.  Unclip balloons and let air out gently, peeling balloon from chocolate, if necessary.  Peel twigs from parchment.  Drip some tempered chocolate into the nest, and add the twigs in layers.  Add white chocolate eggs or another treat of your choice to these individual nests.  {The eggs in the photo are made of tempered white chocolate poured into egg-shaped chocolate molds.  A natural sponge was used to dab milk chocolate in the molds, creating this mottled look.}

Spring Birds Nests

Here’s another version of tasty nests that is simple to make, but will make you look like a master baker!  I found this idea on another fun blog, JustShortofCrazy.com, by Deb Thompson.  I WILL be making these for our Easter brunch!  You’ll mix up the ingredients just like you’re making Rice Crispies treats, but use crispy rice noodles instead of cereal.  Thanks to Deb, here are the directions:

1.  Melt 1/2 Teaspoon of butter in a medium-size pan, add seven marshmallows and melt.  Remove from heat and add one cup of crispy rice noodles.

2.  Put the rice crispy noodle mix in well-greased cupcake holders and form into nests.

3.  Makes six nests!  Then fill the nests with pastel Jelly Belly jelly beans and you’re good to go!

Easter Place Card 2Easter Name Card

Pottery Barn - Greenvine Baskets - Sale $10.99

These adorable baskets are from Pottery Barn and they are on sale!  Check them out here, and add them as a centerpiece to your Easter table, filled with eggs or furry stuffed chicks or bunnies.

Do you have any go-to Easter decorating tips?  Wishing you all a very happy holiday!

Claire Signature

In Full Bloom: Spring Accessories

Anthropologie - Kassia Necklace - $298

Hooray for spring!  I’ve loved all the floral jewelry I’ve seen lately in stores and magazines ~ along with bright colors, what a great way to herald the season!  Very feminine and happy… two of my favorite things.  As you’ll see in the turquoise necklace below, it’s also a great idea to attach a flower pin to a multi-strand necklace to give it a little extra punch (case in point, see my photo on the right!)  Some of these pictures are from Pinterest {my favorite ~ you can follow me here}, and others are current finds.  If I could trace down the accessory, you can click on the photo to take you to the webpage.

20130323-100538.jpg

Tory Burch Multi-Floral Necklace - $695

How swoon-worthy is this fabulous Tory Burch necklace?  Gorgeous.

Tory-Burch-Large-Floral-Hair-Pin---$150_CroppedTory Burch Printed Robinson Dome Satchel - $395

Fresh Floral Necklace

Turquoise Floral Necklace

Oscar de la Renta Floral Necklace

Troika Necklace by Babette Jewelry

Tory Burch Emerald Stone Tear Drop Earring - $350

Tory Burch Tear Drop Collar Necklace - $850

Anthropologie - Captive Flowers Bib - $68Anthropologie - Elsie Straw Cloche - $68

Anthropologie - Dancing Daisies Strand - $38Anthropologie - Unfurling Flower Cuff - $48

Anthropologie - Golden Empire RingAnthropologie - Pearl and Flower Necklace

BCBG Resin Stone Waist Belt - $78Chanel Floral Necklace

This weekend I’m off to see some lovely bluebonnets on the way to the Round Top Antique Show!  Stay tuned for some of my favorite finds from the not-to-be-missed event!

Claire Signature

Easter Dress Hunt

Jardin Lace Dress

Jardin Lace Dress from Anthropologie

 

How is it possible that Easter is less than two weeks away?  I love Easter.  It brings me joy when I think about those I love in heaven, it reminds me of the importance of worship and makes me most grateful for our biggest gift of all in Christ.  Easter might be my very favorite holiday.

I’ll never forget the excitement I felt one Easter morning to discover six baby chicks hidden in a basket behind a planter on our porch!  The Easter bunny completely outdid himself that year.  Hard act to follow, to be sure!

I also love Easter because it brings everyone out in their Sunday best ~ from little tots in pastels to the elderly with their floppy straw hats!  {By the way, while Easter is THE occasion for hats, I don’t think everyone can pull it off… My older sister has cornered the market when it comes to looking CHiC in this accessory ~ case in point here.}

 

Dark Bloom Dress

Dark Bloom Dress from Anthropologie

 

Speaking of Easter’s finest attire, each spring I’m always on the lookout for a smashing Easter dress; one that reflects the brightness of the season and the colorful eggs we collect Easter morning.  I’ve posted some of my favorites from this season that I hope inspire you to find your own Easter frock.

Anthro - Slim-Glint Lace Dress - $228

Slim-Glint Lace Dress from Anthropologie

 

Nordstrom - Adrianna Papell - Print Fit & Flare Dress - $178

Fit and Flare Dress by Adrianna Papell

 

Suzi Chin for Maggy Boutique - Ruched Jersey Dress

Ruched Jersey Dress by Suzi Chin for Maggy Boutique

 

I also love the idea of a dressy white suit for Easter Sunday.  Fresh, crisp and stylish.

 

Crisp White Suit

What about you?  Are you a “hat” person on Easter?  Already picked out your Easter outfit?

Claire Signature

The Emerald Isle

Emerald Green Couple

“Lively. Radiant. Lush… A color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony.”

~ Pantone website re: its “2013 Color of the Year” ~ Emerald Green

EG Gown

It’s Saint Paddy’s Day! And since I’m not Irish {and green beer isn’t my thing}, I thought I’d celebrate with some gorgeous pictures of Pantone’s “it” color, Emerald Green. I’ve always loved wearing green and the color just screams SPRING! Even splashes of the color in accessories is a great way to go. {Who can forget Angelina Jolie’s stunning tear drop earrings at the 2009 Academy Awards?} Vogue gives you 17 ways to wear green for the holiday if you need some inspiration.

I also love being surrounded by the happy color and am about to paint my sunroom green to perk it up a bit.

EG Dress

EG Fringe

Emerald Sequins

Camilla Belle Green

EG - Gems

Emerald Heels - Steven

These shoes are DARLING. I have them in a nude patent, but I must say… the green is a show-stopper!

Retro Emerald Dress

EG Statement Necklace

Emerald Green Sweater

Emerald Swim

Emerald Statement Ring

Atonement Emerald Gown

Remember the fabulous emerald green gown Kiera Knightly wore in “Atonement?” ClothesonFilm.com notes, “This emerald green dress from “Atonement” could be the most famous item of clothing on film in the last decade. In fact, …it was recently voted “Best Costume of All Time” by Sky Movies and readers of InStyle.” Absolutely stunning ~ and created from scratch by costume designer Jacqueline Durran.

Emerald Tot

EG Accessories

Happy St. Paddy’s!

Claire Signature

Fitness: Perpetually CHiC

Healthy Always in Style

We’re nearing one-fourth of the way through 2013 {hard to believe} and I thought it might be a good time to brush off those resolutions we optimistically made a couple of months ago.  I’d bet fitness claimed the top spot on many a resolution list as the new year loomed optimistic and proud.  But ~ as I’m the first to admit ~ a verbal commitment and concrete steps to beef up an exercise plan {think coming home from the office, getting right into running gear and hitting the streets} are two ENTIRELY different things.

I’m especially burdened with my resolution as the spring temperatures in Houston are so fabulous!  I can almost forget how atrocious our sweltering summers can be.  I now have zero excuses when it comes to fitness.  One big incentive to work up a sweat is the adorable work-out clothes I keep seeing at Lululemon and Lucy.  If you’re gonna hit the trail, you might as well look cute doing it, right?

I’ve posted some photos below that I’d personally love to add to my closet.  While March can still bring some chilly temperatures ~ especially if you’re running early or late in the day ~ I’ve included some long-sleeve tees and windbreakers, as well.  To check them out online, just click on the photo.

Under Armour 'Fly By' Turtleneck - $54.99 - Nordstrom

Nike Legend 2.0 Capris - Nordstrom - $60

Alo 'Dynamic' Tank - $55 - Nordstrom

'Derby' Back Keyhole Burnout Tee - $38 - Nordstrom

Lulu - Run - Rise and Shine Pant - $92

Lole - Live it Up Tank - $64

Lulu - Cool Racerback Surf Bonded Tank - $52

Lulu - Run - Pace Setter Skirt - $58

Lulu - Run - Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve - $68

Spanx 'Power' Workout Pants - $118 - Nordstrom

Under Armour ColdGearR Top & Tights - Nordstrom - 33 percent off - $43.54

Under Armour 'Escape' Knit Skort - $44.99 - Nordstrom

Zella Jacket, Tank & Capri Pants - $98

Adidas - Supernova Long Sleeve Tee - $45

Adidas - Striped Windbreaker - $70

If you can’t tell from the 1920s photo at the top, fitness will always be perpetually CHiC!  And if your bones and joints try to talk you out of lacing up your tennies, take some inspiration {like I did!} from these active spring chickens!  You know if they can do it…..!

Happy running!

Never Too Old to Exercise

Portrait

Claire Signature

BHLDN to Spring

BHDLN - Spring Frocks

While waiting for Williams Sonoma to wrap a wedding gift Sunday afternoon, I decided to stroll over to BHLDN to peek at their fabulous frocks.  While most of the cocktail dresses are geared toward the bridesmaid variety, I love how so many of them are perfect for swanky Christmas parties, cocktail parties and weddings {guests not attendants!}  As usual, I fell in love with at least a half a dozen things when I walked in the door.  Only makes me wish I had more black tie events to attend!

BHDLN is one of my favorites, but {unlike most of the posts on the CHiC Scribe} it’s not a store I generally push for its affordability!  That being said, when I have a special event, BHLDN is always my first stop because I love its uber-feminine, vintage, classic feel.  Its throwbacks to bygone decades also earns it a true place in my heart ~ because, let’s get real… who doesn’t want to feel like a Great Gatsby heroine?  {Minus the ugly hit-and-run and murder, of course.  And if I just ruined the end of this CLASSIC book for you, shame on you for not reading it.}

BHDLN Fanfare Dress - $370

This little frock is called the “Fanfare Dress” and it is PRECIOUS.  I completely fell in love with it, even on the hanger.  What’s not to love with this style?  It’s a Tracy Reese original with a curve-accentuating drop waist and adorable flounce.  If you’ve got a spring wedding, make a bee-line for BHLDN.

BHLDN-Park-Avenue-Dress---$1250

How darling is this “Park Avenue Dress” by Katie Ermilio?  Speaking of Great Gatsby, the manager mentioned to me that several customers have bought the dress specifically for 20s parties.  It has to be my favorite, and just to show you how much I love it, here it is from all angles…

BHDLN-Park-Avenue-Dress-2

Might just be perfection in a dress.

BHDLN-Park-Avenue-Dress-3

BHDLN-Park-Avenue-Dress-4

BHDLN-Printemps-Shift---$380

This little mini is really cute, too.  It’s called the “Printemps Shift” by Quilaree and made me long for April temperatures and spring parties.  It contains three-dimensional blossoms {love how the website claims they’re “in various stages of bloom”} and includes bow accents {you already know how I feel about bows}.

BHDLN-Printemps-Shift-2

BHDLN Agata Swing Dress - $420

Lace is so big right now, and so I think this “Agata Swing Dress” by Va et Vien is perfect for the season.  Love its vintage details and throwback to the 60s with the swing shape, bell sleeves and satin bow at the back.

BHDLN Agata Swing Dress 2

BHDLN - Coral Flounce Dress - $1200

I’d scoop up this “Coral Flounce Dress” by Katie Ermilio for the color alone.  Coral screams spring to me and I think the shade flatters just about anyone.  Very flirty and ladylike with its tailored waist.

BHDLN - Collector's Lockets - $350

If you’re not in the market for a cocktail dress, many of BHLDN’s accessories also look just as good at a dinner party as they do in a wedding party.  These gold lockets are gorgeous {they date from the early 1900s} and would look lovely stacked with other necklaces {also love their antique feel}…

BHDLN Vintage Cocktail Rings - $580 - $680

I adore color for spring and these vintage cocktail rings {dating from the late 1800s to 1940s} would brighten any hand…

BHDLN - Posy Ring - $557

Here’s another stunner, the “Posy” ring by Nora Kogan, about which the website notes, “From amid a bouquet of sculpted silver pansies, a pink amethyst emerges.”  {Gotta love the marketing vernacular}.

BHDLN Lambertville Brooch - $220Brooches are so lovely and remind me of my sweet grandmothers when I wear them.  This “Lambertville Brooch” by Ben Amun would look equally as pretty on a pastel spring dress as it would a classic black suit.

BHDLN - Queen Consort Collar $330

How pretty and feminine is this little “Queen Consort Collar” by Bonnie Strauss?  It would make a sweet topper to a simple LBD with stud earrings.

BHDLN - Snowdrop Chandelliers - $380

Finally, these “Snowdrop Chandeliers” by Erickson Beamon would add an elegant touch to any outfit.  Who wouldn’t want to wear these shoulder-skimming beauties?

After oogling over these lovely “finds,” it made me almost even want to be a bridesmaid again… I said ALMOST!  Luckily, you can wear them without the expensive gifts, weekend showers and set-up dates we all remember so fondly :)

Claire Signature

Tootsies Trunk Show ~ Elizabeth McKay

elizabeth mckay large print dress

“I worship Grace Kelly and Jackie O.  Both women embodied femininity, were impeccably dressed and maintained a timeless sense of style that could be contemporary in any year.” ~ Elizabeth McKay

*****************

I’m always on the look-out for great style and recently discovered designer Elizabeth McKay.  Fell in love with just about every look I saw, and was delighted to learn that Tootsies in Houston is hosting an Elizabeth McKay trunk show starting today!  From Feb. 27 through March 1, you can see some of these great styles and stock up on some bright, springtime looks just as the season begins to roll in.  To give you an idea of her aesthetic, here are some quotes from her website, www.emckay.com.

“I have always been inspired by color.  As a child of the 80s, I grew up admiring the powerful colors and whimsical prints of the era.  Color and print are the cornerstones of this line and define each collection I create.

“Each print is unique and speaks to me through color.  The prints are bold, creative, colorful and conversational.  I love matching up my prints with rich and luxurious fabrics – fabrics and textures that convey a feeling of time and place.”

Elizabeth McKay Printed Dress

Tie Blouse 3 - $165

“New this season, the silk Tie Blouse is quickly becoming one of our favorites.  The perfect addition as the go-to blouse, tuck it into the Katherine Pant for work or pair it down with jeans.  We also love layering this top for CHiC pop.”

Nephew Tunic - $215

“This year, Elizabeth brought back her classic tunic silhouette and embroidered it with details from this season’s favorite new prints.”

Mad Men Top - $175

“Inspired by one of my eras, the 60s, and named after one of my favorite shows, ‘Mad Men,’ this vintage inspired top adds the perfect pop of print to any outfit.”

Elizabeth Blouse Silk - $175

“Our staple ‘shirt that started it all’ is the centerpiece of any outfit!  Make a statement this season in our classic, fitted blouse. Switch into your boyfriend/husband’s cufflinks to match your jewelry or accessorize your look.”

Riley Turtleneck - $195

“Buttons are the centerpiece of our favorite Elizabeth McKay styles and so we brought back an old favorite with our updated signature gold buttons.”

Fifties Dress - $295

“Easy glamour with a nod toward a classic era. The 50s Dress is the perfect combo of timeless and feminine. Silk cotton with a front slit, fitted bodice and back gold zipper. Wear with ballet sandals for daytime or strapless heel for an evening on the town.”

Elizabeth Blouse Cotton - $195

“The Katherine Pant is crafted for a sophisticated slim fit.  Our silk cotton fabric boasts a silky smooth finish and a refined shape that is perfect for the office.  Pair it with our Neck-Tie blouse for the perfect fall (or spring, in my book!) look.”

Julia Dress - $285

“The perfect shift dress with a retro feel! The Julia Dress has a polished structure and ladylike trend that will flatter any body shape. It will easily become your staple dress for any cocktail party… Pair it with our Julia Jacket for the perfect topper.”

Ruffle Top Dress - $225

“Streamlined and sophisticated, the Ruffle Top Dress adds an instant ladylike edge.  With pleats at the waist and a darted bodice, the minimalist silhouette and subtle details will carry you throughout the season!”

Marilou Dress - $265

“Slip on our Marilou Dress and transition from day to night in effortless style. Pair this Tunic Dress with tights and boots for an easy daytime look and throw on your highest heels for a night on the town.”

Julia Dress 2 - $285

Julia Jacket - $295

“The bestselling Scotland Ruffle Wrap dress is versatile enough for any occasion and is now available in all of our favorite new prints!

Features ruffles down the front and around the neckline. Fitted front and overlap creates a classic V neckline. Shipped with two interchangeable belts: one to tie around the waist with a bow closure and the other with two gold buttons to dress the outfit up.”

Scotland Wrap Dress Cotton - $275

Wrap Blouse 3 - $125

“It’s no secret that Elizabeth McKay loves ruffles!  This season, we created a flat, ruffled V-neck collar that enhances the neckline.  With a ruffle detail and tie closure at the waist, this feminine blouse is sure to become a staple in your closet… and will add a ladylike edge to any work look.”

***************

What did I tell you?  Darling things.  Don’t miss the Tootsies trunk show this week…  I’ll see ya there!

Claire Signature

Orange Crush

Diane von Furstenberg 'Yohanna' Silk Top - $345 - Nordstrom

“Orange is the happiest color.”  ~  Frank Sinatra

SPRING is on my mind!  In flipping through spring magazines and window shopping online, I keep finding my eyes drawn to orange… from handbags to statement necklaces to matte orange lips, I’ve been eager to add a pop of the happy color to my daily style.  I bought one of my favorite things recently in bright orange – a NARS matte, all-in-one lip pencil/lipstick - and feel quite bold with it on!  It’s amazing how it makes a tailored black suit really pop at the office!  A word of warning, however… give yourself a little time to get used to the bright look.  If you’re used to glossy nude lips, it can be an adjustment!

Alice + Olivia Leather Biker Jacket - $895 - Nordstrom

Reed Krakoff Seamed Jersey Skirt - $690 - Nordstrom

Pop of Orange

Orange Wrap Dress

Michael Kors Smock-Hem Peasant Top - $89.50 - DillardsMilly Belted Shorts - $250 - Nordstrom

Equipment 'Carmen' Silk Shirt - $218 - Nordstrom

And if you think a little goes a long way, add just a pop of orange to your toes, neck, eyes or wrist!

Calvin Klein Vivian Sandals - $119 - DillardsMichael Kors 'Slim Runway' Leather Strap Watch - $160 - Nordstrom

Dooney & Bourke Dillen Leather Double Pocket Satchel - $228 - DillardsOrange Multi-Strand Necklace

OPI OrangeTory Burch Tribal Paillette Cuff - $195

Cara Leather Wrap Bracelet - $38 - Nordstrom

Michael Kors 62 mm Aviator Sunglasses - $115 - Nordstrom

Topshop Orange Heels

With bright color such a style staple for spring, add some orange to the hot pink and turquoise (even together!) in your closet and bring your own sunshine to the day.  If you take a look in your spring catalogs, you’ll see the color everywhere…

Orange Model ShiftOrange Models

Orange Vogue Cover

Orange Lips

Bright, happy, colorful… win, win, win.  Now “orange” you glad you visited the CHiC Scribe to stay on trend?  Come on, you know I had to do it :)

Claire Signature

I Heart February

NM - Love Me Heart-Applique Pump - Red - Charlotte Olympia - $1450

I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I
think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming
at me with a weapon. ~Author UnknownTory Burch Wooden Heart Cuff - $125 Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Love Heart Knit Sweater - $322

Tory Burch Wooden Heart Dangle Earrings - $78

Kate Spade Hearts and Spades Scarf - $128

C Wonder Pave Heart Stud Earrings - 28

C Wonder Pave Heart Bangle - $28

C Wonder Heart Printed Striped Boatneck Top - $58Kate Spade Eat Your Heart Out Tee - $58

Tory Burch Heart to Heart Tights - $32 - Kate SpadeDogeared 'Sparkle Heart' Pendant Necklace - $62

Call me crazy, but I absolutely love the chilly month of February. Might have something to do with the fact that I celebrate my birthday on the 6th, Valentine’s reminds me of the ones I love and I still get to wear those favorite fur shrugs and cozy turtlenecks in the last little hints of winter. Great month, all around.

I also love pink and V-Day gives me an excuse to decorate with it. I’ve seen some of the cutest Valentine’s day wreaths lately and found a few below to inspire you on Pinterest. You can also visit this tutorial to learn how to make a few for yourself!

V Wreath - XOV Wreath Cockscomb

V Wreath - Heart

V Wreath Burlap

V Wreath Hearts

V Wreath - Flowers

V Wreath - ChildV Wreath - Red Apples

Happy Valentine’s to you and yours!

Claire Signature

Dots and Spots

Polka Dot Shirt

Polka Dot - Marc Jacobs Quote

Polka Dots with Red Pumps

Polka Dot Style

Polka Dot Sheer Overlay

Polka Dot Kate

Polka Dot Gown

Polka Dot Navy

Polka Dot Sheer

Polka Dot Skirt

Polka Dot Cashmere Sweater

Polka Dot Tights

Polka Dots Silk Shirt with Denim

Polka Dots with Stripes

Polka Dots with Winter White

Polka Dots

Polka Dots with Sunnies

Can you tell how much I love polka dots?  What a great quote by Marc Jacobs… so true!  I’m glad they’re a hot trend this season.  I hate to even call them trendy, though, as it’s hard to find a more classic, tried-and-true style staple that polka dots.  From Elizabeth Taylor in the ’40s, Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball in the ’50s and designers such as Stella McCartney, Christian Dior and Dolce & Gabbana, the dots will always be a favorite fashion motif.  Click on the photos below to add dots and spots to your wardrobe:

Polka Dot - Cynthia Steffe 'Simone' Polka Dot Bodice Peplum Dress - Nordstrom - $238

Polka Dot - Topshop 'Half & Half' Polka Dot Tee - Nordstrom - $64

Polka Dot - Kate Spade - Lewis Top - $133

Polka Dot - Kate Spade - Le Pavillion iPhone Case - $40

Polka Dot - Kate Spade - Make the Rounds Delacorte Bangle Watch - $295

Polka Dot - Kate Spade - Reading Sunglasses - Nordstrom - $72

Adrianna  Papell Burnout Polka Dot Fit & Flare Dress - Nordstrom - $178Polka Dot - Kate Spade - 'Licorice Too' Pump - Nordstrom - $298

Polka Dot - Anthropologie - Polka-Dotted Blazer - $59.95Polka Dot - Piperlime - Natasha Polka Dot Blouse - 213 Industry - $52.99

Polka Dot - Laundry by Shelli Segal Polka-Dot Lace Shift Dress - Dillards - $68.25Joie Addie B Polka Dot Top - $228

Do I have you seeing spots yet?  Send me some pictures of you in your dots and I’ll post them on the blog!

Claire Signature

Checks, please!

Checks - Diane Kruger - Spring 2013

Diane Kruger – Chanel Spring 2013 (via Us Magazine)

 

“Whether interpreted via stripes rooted in the sixties, Bauhaus, railroad engineers or clothes covered in bold boxes and checks, the season’s new graphic look works for day or night.”  ~ Vogue

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Piggy-backing again on the “Positively Wearable: Vogue’s Guide to Spring 2013 Fashion,” I’m glad to see that checks and graphic designs are de rigueur for spring!  We all have checks in our closets and the fashion editors at Vogue have billed them as a hot staple this season.

Louis Vuitton Graphic - Vogue 1

Louis Vuitton – Spring 2013

 

Louis Vuitton Graphic

Louis Vuitton – Spring 2013

 

Marc Jacobs Checks

Marc Jacobs – Spring 2013

 

Checks - Jessica Alba - Louis Vuitton

Checks - Kerry Washington - Louis Vuitton

 

Lots of color and big checks, and did you notice the pointy toes?  Pointy shoes are so stylish and feminine, in my book.  I think houndstooth fits in the “graphic” category, too, which I’m delighted about because it’s one of my favorites.  Here’s some houndstooth inspiration for you from Pinterest.

 

Checks - Houndstooth Red CoatKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Houndstooth Clutch

Houndstooth Chanel

Houndstooth ensembleHoundstooth Handbag

 

And here are some current styles you can “check” out online (just click the picture):

 

Kate Spade New York - Checkered Sadie Skirt - $298 Kate Spade New York - Colorblock Pocket Tee & Davis Check Capris - $248 - Neiman MarcusChecks - Michael Kors Optic Check Mock Neck Sweater - $695 - Nordstrom

Checks - Lauren Ralph Lauren - Ruggle-Bottom Gingham Blouse - $89.50 - DillardsChecks - Rachel Roy Oversized-Check Minidress - $149 - Neiman Marcus

Kate Spade New York - Checkered Sadie Skirt - $298Kate Spade New York - Paper Bangles Check Bangle - $148

 

I think I also love these looks because of all the black and white – another trend right now that looks so crisp and sharp.  {Future post on that, so stay tuned!}  In putting together this post, I remembered how much I love blogging ~ and how I’ve missed it the last week or so with a full plate at the office!  Promise to get better about posting more frequently.  LIFE ~ it has such a knack for getting in the way of my creative bent!  I’ve gotten requests lately for links to stylish, crisp white blouses, along with some looks that blend dressy with casual.  Any other looks you’d like help re-creating?  Always taking requests!

Claire Signature

Ruffle Your Feathers

Ruffle Collar

I’ve had a ball leafing through the 2013 Jan/Feb fashion magazines to pick up on spring trends from Paris Fashion Week and CHiC editors at Vogue, Glamour and InStyle.  Among my favorite looks and trends ~ the prevalence of RUFFLES ~ puts a smile on my face.  I love wearing feminine pieces and, according to the experts, you don’t have to look little-girly to pull off this spring’s sophisticated look.

Glamour noted, “When you think of ruffles, you might think of a frilly flower girl dress or that poofy frock you were made to wear on your fifth birthday.  According to Paris Fashion Week, ruffles are a match for us grown-up ladies, too!  On the Paris runways, ruffles were larger, sleeker, and used more sparingly, giving the detail a more sophisticated spin.”

Vogue agreed, “No longer hyper-feminine or romantically soft, the ruffle of spring 2013 is sculpted, purposeful, clean and often Spanish-influenced.”

The magazine included the following looks in its collection, “Positively Wearable:  Vogue’s Guide to Spring 2013 Fashion”:

Vogue - Ralph Lauren Ruffles

Ralph Lauren – Spring 2013

 

Vogue - Gucci Ruffles

Gucci – Spring 2013

 

Vogue - Balenciaga Black White Ruffles

Balenciaga – Spring 2013

 

Vogue - Givenchy Ruffles

Givenchy – Spring 2013

 

Vogue - Chloe Ruffles

Chloe – Spring 2013

 

Vogue - Oscar de la Renta Rufles

Oscar de la Renta – Spring 2013

 

Vogue - Acne Ruffles

Acne – Spring 2013

 

And here are a few examples of ruffles that might be easier to work into an everyday wardrobe:

White Ruffles

Ruffle NeckRuffle Pink Blouse

Ruffle SleeveRuffled Collar - Nude

Ruffled Collar and SleevesRuffle Collar Dress - Lanvin

 

 

Does this inspire you to ruffle your spring feathers?  Excited as I am about this feminine trend?

Claire Signature

National Get Organized (GO!) Month

OC - Pink Drapes

If you read my last post on the CHiC Scribe, you’ll know that organization is one of my key New Year’s resolutions….  In fact, I listed it as “Organize, organize, organize!”  Technically that might count for three resolutions {to show how important it is to me!}

While I love a straight house, I clearly missed the organization gene.  The thought of organizing my closet, tossing out things I haven’t seen in years {buried with dust bunnies under the bed} or categorizing my clothes into much-needed Goodwill piles makes me cringe and always has.  I’ll look through organized, actually functional closets on Pinterest and dream of knowing exactly where my red trousers are or that cozy cobalt scarf I haven’t seen since last winter.  {Still haven’t found it and we’re already half-way through January}.

I look at the gorgeous picture above and fantasize about seeing all my blazers lined up and color-coded on one bar, glass boxes of neatly folded pashminas and purses placed in easy-to-find rows.  Instead of the evenly spaced hangers holding ONLY the clothes I regularly wear, my closet looks like a smashed collision of clothes ~ from all seasons ~ many of them falling off hangers and tangled with neighboring dresses.

Not only does this make getting dressed quickly in the morning a chore, it also creates a feeling of stress and a lack of control over my LIFE!  In 2013, I’m all about taking the little steps to de-stress, gain a semblance of order over my surroundings and actually seizing the opportunity to enjoy my little house, rather than always fussing over it.

I recently learned about a fabulous website, FlyLady.net.  It is geared for clutter-prone folks like me and offers great tips on getting and keeping an organized closet, kitchen, etc…  The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) also is a great site to inspire you to take charge of your clutter with helpful tips and links to organizational seminars in your area.  I also love Real Simple magazine and you can find their article, “12 Secrets of Closet Pros” here.

As I begin to tackle my own closets this month, here are a few tips from various sources to kick your organizing resolution into high gear:

  • Begin with the “Big Toss!”  Go through your closets and if you haven’t worn or used it in a year, if it is out of style, and most importantly ~ if it doesn’t fit! ~ toss it into either the trash or Goodwill pile.
  • Get rid of your wire or flimsy plastic hangers.  Closet pros say that wooden or padded hangers are the best for keeping your clothes in tip-top shape, and they won’t get tangled together and result in a clothes-covered floor.
  • Everything is better in twos (coming from an identical twin).  Hang a double rod, or a rod underneath your current closet rod, to hang folded slacks and shorter skirts.
  • If you take it off, hang it up – right then.  Rather than making piles to hang up later, do it right then and you’ll save yourself hours.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day and your closets didn’t become a disaster overnight, either.  Devote 15 minutes a day to throwing out and straightening and don’t expect perfection immediately.

To inspire you to turn your own closets around, here are a few lovely pics:

OC - Color CodedOC - Dream Closet

OC - DoorsOC - Clean

OC - Bathroom SpaceOC - Style

OC - Light BlueOC - White dresser

Anyone else working on an organization resolution?  Anyone brave enough to share ‘before and after’ pics?  Any additional tips for putting the “GO!” in organize?  Let me know!

Claire Signature

2013… The Best One Yet

2013

New Year’s resolutions…  Clearly I’ve put them off a bit.

Steven Spielberg said, “All of us, every single year, we’re a different person.  I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.”

Do you believe this to be true?

Who do you want to be this time next year?

Admittedly, I have long way to go before I reach the me I’d ultimately like to be, but I also think it’s important ~ and one of my New Year’s resolutions ~ to give myself a break more and enjoy the present moment as much as possible.  Before we know it, another year will have come and gone… and it makes you pause to consider your own progress along the way.

Actor Cyril Cusack said, “If you asked me for my New Year’s resolution, it would be to find out who I am.”

Good goal for the new year!  Try putting your “want-to’s” into buckets… relationships, career, faith, hobbies.  Beginning from today, what is your starting point and can you visualize the finish line in 12 months?

In my own case, I want to be more present for those I love; become a much more ready listener than speaker; anticipate needs, rather than filling them reactively; switch the axis from my own center to those around me; take better care of myself and others; and play to my strengths to the very best of my ability.  They’re still in the ethos, with that description, though.  You’ve got to make resolutions concrete and measurable to be effective.

My plan, specifically, might read…

~ Become a more hands-on aunt to my favorite little bugs

~ Bid farewell to the perfectionist

~ Beef up my golf game {i.e. hit the driving range regularly}

~ Have lunch / coffee with at least one friend a week

~ Call my grandmothers weekly

~ Enroll in cooking classes

~ Complete my first novel ~ for real this time!  {If it’s in writing, am I held to it??}

~ Organize, organize, organize!

~ Read 50 books

~ Become conversationally fluent in Spanish {Despite my minor from UT, I’m functionally worthless}

~ Make GRATEFULNESS my mantra

I particularly like these resolutions:

“Resolution One:  I will live for God.  Resolution Two:  If no one else does, I still will.”

~ Jonathan Edwards

It’s no secret that keeping resolutions is tough.  Here are some tips for sticking to your guns from Real Simple magazine.

I think you’ll agree that investing in other people is a key resolution.  Possessions, fit physiques, hobbies and style will fade.  Just not important in the big scheme of things.  Make friendships and deeper relationships your priority and you can’t fail.  Here’s a great post on making OTHERS your focus in the new year from a sweet blog, LLH Designs.

Any resolutions of your own?  Don’t they say that burdens {and let’s be honest, sometimes they feel like that!} are easier to carry when shared??

Claire Signature

The Dress Seen ‘Round the World

Black Dress Brown Boots

As a style blogger, it’s always hard to know which picture, trend or accessory will really strike a chord with your readers.  It can be a trial and error process, in which you “feed the machine,” so to speak, based on reader feedback.

I’ll tell you I’m still amazed by the outpouring of interest in ONE photo I included in my “A Few Fall Favorites” post back in November.  And when I say outpouring, I literally mean HUNDREDS of blog views from more than a dozen countries daily of the one photo above.  Who knew when I chose it what a magnet it would be to draw folks to the blog!

I believe the dress originally came from Anthropologie, however when I went back to try to find it, it’s no longer on their website.  But no worries… I’ve copied below a few similar versions that I’ve found and can give you some tips about what I believe makes the look so attractive to so many people.

Firstly, the feminine cut and details… The slightly cowled neck, tailored pleats, cinched tie waste and 3/4 length bell sleeves combine into a tres CHiC, ladylike look that just about any body type can pull off.  The black color is slimming and the longer sleeves provide a little warmth in these chilly months, in addition to covering some less-than-toned/tanned arms of winter {Anyone else guilty?  Gotta get to the gym!  Included in my NY resolution post coming soon…}

Secondly, I’d guess the thing that has resonated the most with readers is the black / brown color combo.  Once a taboo, the look currently is a definite fashion “do,” and I believe is here to stay.  I basically live in my light brown, Frye ‘Melissa Trapunto’ boots or darker brown dress boots this time of year and both look fantastic paired with black jeggings or leggings, little black dresses or minis with opaque tights.  It’s a regular, go-to weekend look that is super comfortable and can’t fail.

I’m also a big clutch gal and love the tan leather one paired with the similar colored boots.

Here are a few options that will achieve the same look when worn with tall brown boots:

Anthropologie Leona Tunic Dress

This LBD also is from Anthropologie and I think it’s darling with the keyhole neckline.  I’m also on a big opaque tights kick {and with my recent bold COLOR post}, you can guess how much I love the scarlet legs with the mary janes.  This is the ‘Leona Tunic Dress,’ it is $148 and you can find it here.

Ann Taylor Crinkle Crepe 3-4 Ruffle Sleeve Dress - $99

Here’s another option.  I’ve tried this dress on and I think it’s much cuter in person than it looks in the photo.  You’ll find it at Ann Taylor for $99 {down from $148}, and it’s just as cute in red as it is in black.  Notice the similar bell sleeves and rounded neckline.

Marc by Marc Jacobs 'Billy' Patch Pocket Shift Dress - Nordstrom

I LOVE this dress.  It has the same 3/4 sleeves, is about the same length and {the real winner for me}, it has POCKETS!  I go nuts for dresses with pockets.  This is a very simple design ~ also a winner for me ~ but the pockets put it over the top.  It is the Marc by Marc Jacobs ‘Billy’ Patch Shift Dress and you can find it at Nordstrom for $258.  It also comes in red.

I never dreamed that one dress would create such a fuss!  I agree, though, it’s a great look and achieves the casual-but-clearly-put-together vibe that’s great for the office, a date or brunch with girlfriends.  Put your hair in a bun {my forever look}, pop on some big, black sunnies like these, and you’re a guaranteed show stopper.

Any other ideas why everyone from New Zealanders to Brits to Romanians to Austrians have come out of the woodwork to try to find it??

Claire Signature

Runway Rouge

Fashion Houston - Bold Color Pink

Fashion Houston - Bold Color Red

Fashion Houston - Bold Color

Fashion Houston - Lime Green

Fashion Houston - Bright Color

Fashion Houston - Bold Color Orange BCBG

Fashion Houston - Blush

Fashion Houston - Raspberry Sheer - Chloe Dao

Fashion Houston Bold Color

Kevan Hall

Gorgeous back

Flowy Purple Dress 2

Green Model

Chloe Dao with models

Chloe Dao presents her spring 2013 line at Fashion Houston.

 

Following up on the bold COLOR trend I’m delighted to welcome amid this chilly weather, I thought I’d share a few photos from Fashion Houston that I snapped just before the holidays at the Wortham Theater in downtown Houston.  Bright color was the common denominator as Houston’s own Chloe Dao, Herge Leger by Max Azria and Kevan Hall presented their spring 2013 lines.

The bold pallette was everywhere and ~ while you may not be able to add one of these fabulous frocks to your closet ~ you can jump on the color bandwagon and don some bold pigments.  You don’t need to wear head-to-toe color… even a little pop of neon or fuschia in a heel or handbag will do the trick.

That’s my contribution to the bleary, winter weather I see outside my window in downtown Houston!  Any other suggestions for how to incorporate color into your winter wardrobe?

Claire Signature

Merry & BRIGHT

BS - Rainbow Bright

“The sculptural shapes are clean and minimalist.  This means you can have a bit of fun with a head-to-toe palette that’s all about the bright optimism of the California lifestyle.”

~ Michael Kors (for InStyle Magazine, Jan. 2013)

While the holidays are officially behind us {Hello, 2013!}, I’m not ready to give up on the Merry & BRIGHT!  And, thankfully, bright color-blocking remains a hot trend for the spring.  The following photographs reveal that pops of intense color ~ whether in denim skinnies, eye-catching heels or neon handbags ~ are fashion ‘do’s’ as we head out of the gray winter months.

As I write this post, I’m bundled up inside looking out on a cold, rainy day {but wearing an oxblood blouse and a fun, lime green cashmere coat to brighten my outlook!  Similar to the one below…}  I’m all for adding bright, happy colors to the black and gray staples that we all have in our closets, especially as ‘Old Man Winter’ has a couple of blustery months left this year.

BC - Lime Green and Oxblood

BC - Louis Vuitton Fall 2012 bright red handbag

BC - Ferragamo shoulder bag in bright orange 2012

BC - Horse

BC - Bright Colors

BC - Orange Jacket

BC - Blue Trousers

BC - Bright Yellow

BC - On Black

BC - Yellow Coat

BC - BCBGMaxAzria Marcel Colorblock Dress - PiperLime - $198

BC - Marc by Marc Jacobs Avery Silk Colorblocked Dress - PiperLime - $398

BC - Coral Skirt

BC - Colorblock Skirt

BC - Bright Skirt with Graphic Prints

BC - Tory Burch Bracelets

BC - Bright Orange Heels

BC - Yellow Puffer

The fashion editors at InStyle reveal in the current issue, “Now is not the time for shrinking violets.  Big, brash, fruit-punchy color is back, and this time it’s full-body.  Whether at Burberry Prorsum or Lanvin, Michael Kors or Narcisco Rodriguez, the directive is clear… Go bold or go home.”

One of my favorite fashion blogs, Nordstrom’s THE THREAD, published a bright-hued post, noting, “For color-blocking perfection, keep your colors bright and of the same intensity, and walk with a confidence that dares anyone to call clashing a fashion don’t!”  Have any snapshots of you braving winter temps with pops of color?  Share them with me as potential posts to the CHiC Scribe!

I had the opportunity to take some fun and mega-BOLD color photos at Fashion Houston this fall, so stay tuned for some runway shots you’ll be able to adapt for your own wardrobe!  I’m not ready to turn loose of the bold color trend just yet…

Claire Signature

NYE Style Setter

Just a few outfit ideas to help you add some sparkle to this New Year’s Eve… Here’s to a new year of great relationships, promotions and style!  Happy New Year from the CHiC Scribe!
Claire Signature

All Tied Up

Bow Blouse - Jason Wu

“I believe in manicures.  

I believe in overdressing.  

I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick.  

I believe in pink.

I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls.

I believe that tomorrow is another day, and…

I believe in miracles.

~ Audrey Hepburn

 

If you haven’t figured it out, I love all things feminine.  And when I say feminine, I mean the pinker and frillier the better.

And what screams girly more than anything?  Bows.  Well, maybe pink chiffon bows, but I digress.

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about bows and looking ultra feminine lately.  A bow on a blouse, shoe or coat is such a ladylike way to soften an outfit and add an elegant touch.

 

Bow - Shorts

Bow Coat - Perfect

Bow Waist

Bow Blouse - Cream

Bow Coat - Ruffle

Bow Heels - Valentino

Bow - Chanel Shoes

Bow Blouse - Chanel

Bow Back

Bow SleeveBow Blouse - Pink

Bow Bikini Bow -Red

Bow- Teal

Bow Back 2

Bow Blouse

Bow - Shoulder

 

This Christmas week, don’t leave the bows to the packages!  Don a bow or two and feel like the gift that you are!

Claire Signature

Tweeding Frenzy

tweed clemence

With Christmas around the corner and cool temperatures finally upon us {hooray!}, I always love to rummage through my closet and find treasures that I haven’t gotten to wear in many months.  This week, in rotating my wardrobe a bit, I found several tweed jackets that made my heart skip a beat.  I love tweed!  It looks so sharp ~ whether worn as an outfit staple or just as an accent ~ and it kicks my sophistication meter up a notch {at least in my head!}  It’s hard not to feel proper and well put-together wearing a fun tweed jacket paired with dark skinny jeans or a sleeveless tweed mini over a ribbed turtleneck.

With the fabulous pastel colors and patterns you’ll find on blazers and coats, you can add a little sunshine to an otherwise frosty day.  I came across a quote from one designer that referred to tweed as “one of the world’s most noble fabrics.”  I don’t know about “noble,” but it has been in style for ages, making it a great investment piece.  Like me, you’ll be able to pull it out of your closet, winter after winter, with the confidence that you’ll always look tres CHiC.

Toss the idea that tweed is only for country gentlemen, although fellas do look smashing in the fabric.  And with the equestrian trend so hot right now, it looks great paired with leggings and leather riding boots.

Wearing this fabric, you’re sure to feel like a “tweeding lady,” er, leading lady…  Sorry, enough with the puns.  Regardless, if your goal is to stun, tweed is for you this winter.

tweed outfit

tweed blazer with winter white

tweed blazer with hot pink

tweed and ruffles

tweed alexander mcqueen boucle tweed wool blend dress with minktweed giambattista valli tailored boucle jacket

tweed flowerBurberry Tweed Trench

tweed pink shortsceladon tweed

tweed tory burch heels

 

 

Not to neglect the gentlemen…

tweed blue tie

tweed green tie

 

 

 

 

The kiddos…

tweed little girl dress

tweed lanvin girl dress

 

 

Or the pups!

tweed dog collar

tweed emerald dog coat

 

 

 

 

Have you fallen for tweed like I have?  Worn with cashmere or silk to dress it up or with boyfriend jeans and flats to dress it down, tweed is a “need” this season.

Claire Signature

Ultimate Style Icon

PS BL Header

Gossip Girl ended its six-season run last night and I thought it appropriate to crown Blake Lively as another of my ultimate style icons.  I love the way she always looks effortlessly CHiC, whether her hair is in a messy ‘do on a Starbucks run, or she’s elegantly attired in Zuhair Murad.  Like Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, her style is simple, but flawless.  She looks equally at home in a stunning ball gown, a colorful Marchesa mini or skinny jeans with a pullover sweater.

It’s hard not to admire her classic West-Coast-meets-East-Coast, bohemian CHiC alongside Upper East Side panache.  Shoe designer Christian Louboutin said of her, “Not only is [Blake] beautiful, she is very talented and she’s very smart.  One of the things that is most important for women and men, at least for me, is intelligence.  Through a lot of things, she has proven that she is really intelligent and she also has this natural beauty and this natural way of moving, which makes her absolutely a great image.”

Intelligence is incredibly stylish.  And it doesn’t hurt to have Christian Louboutin on speed dial, as she famously said in Glamour, “When I’m going to an event, I’ll send Christian [Louboutin] a picture of my outfit and say, ‘What shoes do you think I should wear with this?'”  Must be nice.

I also love that she likes to be her own stylist.  She said, “I think I became my own stylist by not knowing any better.  And once I was told it was time to get one, I thought:  This is one of my favorite hobbies!  And I’m going to pay someone to steal my hobby from me?  That’s a terrible idea!”

A Chanel ambassador, she’s devoted to the brand.  “I love Chanel so much,” she said.  “It’s everything.  It’s the epitome of what a lady should be.  It’s class.  Some people take drugs; I do stuff with Chanel.  The bags are a problem.”

While we all can’t be Chanel ambassadors, we can take a lesson or two from her style book.  Always a lady, perfectly put-together and usually a big smile on her face.  Winning combination.

Bl Sheer polka dots_

BL Hair

BL Black and White

BL CloseBL

BL Sheer

BL Car

BL Sequins

BL Burberry

BL Black Shorts

BL Fishtail Dress

BL White BlazerBL Bee

BL White Blouse

Is she an ultimate style icon in your book, too?  Leave a comment and let me know!  Or suggest some of your icons that may make their way into future posts.

XOXO…

Claire Signature

 

 

 

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Misfit, anyone?

Misfit Toys with Santa

In honor of last night’s 48th airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, I thought I’d pay homage to the oft-overlooked, banished-to-a-faraway-island bunch of Misfit Toys.  I’ll admit that this Christmas special ~ the longest running one still on the air (since 1964!) ~ is easily my favorite.  I can’t get enough of it.  When it arrives, I feel like the holiday season has, too.  Sure, I’ll watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but it’s the story of Rudolph that tugs at my heartstrings…

Grape-Jelly-Shooting Pistol

While I enjoy the main story about Santa and his reindeer, it’s always the misfits for whom my heart warms the most.  It’s the same year after year.  Doesn’t it just make you want to cry?  Those darling, perfectly imperfect playthings ostracized for being “less than?”  Forced to live on an island because no child loves them?  Give me a break… A bummed-out spotted elephant and a blue ostrich-riding cowboy?  And the depressed doll doesn’t even have a name!  She’s only called “A dolly for Sue,” for crying out loud.  Kills me.

A Dolly for Sue

While they’re as cute as can be, the reason I love them so is a simple one:  It takes one to know one!  For many, there’s nothing like the holidays to make you feel like you missed the boat to the Misfit Island!  Ever feel like you should be there, too, amid the grape-jelly-squirting water pistol, the boat that sinks and the “Charlie”-in-the-box?  Has anyone else felt the same?  I’d bet my train with square wheels that you have.

Train with Square Wheels

I imagine that many of us feel like misfits more often than we’d like to admit.  Don’t the holidays have a way of exacerbating that feeling?  But as the red-nosed reindeer sings along with Hermey the elf-wannabe-dentist, “We may be different from the rest, who decides the test… of what is really BEST?”

Hermey and Rudolph

We have two choices:  We can give up…

“Why am I such a misfit?  I am not just a nitwit.  You can’t fire me, I quit!  Seems I don’t fit in.”

Or we can move to a stranded island and wait for the flying lion, King Moonracer, to bring us more friends.

Seems impractical with work obligations.

Or better yet, we can give ourselves a break this holiday season and realize that our quirks aren’t all bad.  Just look…  Rudolph “went down in history” for saving Christmas with his red nose, prospector Yukon Cornelius taught the abominable snowman (“Bumble”) to put the star on the tree with his great size, and Hermey the challenged toy maker got to open up his dentistry office at the North Pole after all.

Bumble with Christmas Tree

Even though Christmas can be “the most wonderful day of the year,” it can also bring out feelings of “misfit” in the best of us.  But take heart!  You’re not alone.  You don’t have to remain on Misfit Island.  I LOVE the button below.
Escapee from the Island of Misfit Toys
And if all else fails, there’s still that stranded island option.
Merry Christmas, misfits.
Claire Signature

12.12.12

12 Beauty Musts on 12.12.12
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On this day of dozens (12.12.12), I thought I’d share twelve of my die-hard beauty musts.  Over the years, many brands and products have come in and out of my makeup bag, but these trusty twelve have stood the test of time (and many have won “best” product awards from InStyle, Glamour, etc…)  I’d swear by any one of them and ~ in the case where two similar products merit top marks ~ I’ve included both of them.
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As you’ll see, some are on the expensive side and some are absolutly not!  Such a treat when you find a keeper at a drug store price!  For each of these products, I’ve tried a pricey and a “cheap” version and the ones listed here are the best I’ve found.  So let me know!  Agree, disagree, have other beauty must-haves?  Do share!
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(From left to right):

1)   Trish McEvoy Luxe Moisture Balm / $28

This lip balm is magic on your lips.  It will repair even the most chapped lips overnight and feels great.

2)   Clarisonic Cleaning System / $198 

I just got a Clarisonic for an early Christmas present, so can’t speak from personal experience (as I haven’t used it yet!)  But EVERYTHING you read about this system is fabulous.  Across the board.

3)   Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara / $26

I generally don’t wear eye shadow, but I’m a stickler when it comes to mascara.  I go for the length and volume option and haven’t found a better mascara than this one.

4)   Nars Lip Pencil (Color: Pop Life) / $24

I LOVE ~ repeat LOVE ~ Nars lip pencils.  And my favorite color (Pop Life) is the best, wearable red I’ve ever found.  I can’t do flashy reds and this one is a super matte look that gives fair complexions a pop of color in the perfect shade.  These pencils stay on for hours but don’t dry out your lips.  LOVE.

5)   Oil of Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream / $22.49

This moisturizer won Allure’s “Readers’ Choice” award for 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.  I think they’re onto something.  I also give it my vote.

6)   Cover FX Total Coverage Cream Foundation / $42

Hands-down my favorite foundation.  Covers brown spots like nobody’s business.  Gives you medium-to-full, buildable coverage, but doesn’t look cakey.  The only downside is that it can be hard to find.  Go to Sephora.com or CoverFX.com.

Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Foundation / $50

Definitely comes in second place in the foundation category.  But it’s a good second.  I don’t have any complaints with it, but the coverage just isn’t quite as good.  But it is good.

7)   Loreal True Match Super-Blendable Powder / $8.99

I’m also a stickler for powder and have used a pricier one for years.  After I found this one, though, there’s no reason to spend more.

8)   Maybelline Define-a-Brow Eyebrow Pencil / $6.95

The only thing you need for your brows.  Simple.

9)   Neutrogena Age Shield Face Sunscreen, SPF 70 / $9

Sunscreen is the best thing you put on your face all day.  This is a great, non-greasy one and wears well under makeup.

10)   Cetaphyl / $9

The ONLY cleanser in my book.  Very easy on your skin, removes all makeup (including mascara) and wipes off on a clean towel without water.  Win.

11)   Flowerbomb Perfume / $120 / 1.7 oz.

My friends say I smell like “Claire” when I wear this perfume (because I usually don’t leave home without it).  Addicted to the scent, and apparently others are as well (Number 1 seller at Nordstrom).

Quelques Fleurs Perfume / $180 / 3.3 oz.

Without question, the best perfume on Earth.  I get stopped on the street and asked what I’m wearing with this one on.  Heavenly.

12)   Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner / $22

Another staple for me, this one is a keeper.  One of my favorites.  Allows you to blend it before it dries and stays on all day.  Can’t lose.

Enjoy!

Claire Signature

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