5 Things I Love – Aug 15

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1. Louis Vuitton Creatures by Billie Achilleos

These critters are fabulous by nature with their oh so high end materials, but even more so they are awesome works of art and cute to boot.

2. The Return of Ankle Boots and Booties

I’m guessing that perhaps this is due to the influence of Steampunk working it’s way out to the rest of the population, but I have recently noticed that lace up ankle boots much like those of the Victorian era and turn of the century have found there way back into fashion. I, for one, am stoked about this. Great detailing and boots – what’s not to love. A couple of examples of this are Madden Girl’s Devotid Bootie, which is a flat, and the Gwyneth Meg Bootie which has a modern buckle twist and 3.5 inch heel. I’m also loving the BX by Bronx Maron Bootie with it’s slight heel, side buckle and stitch detailing.

3.Free Classics for Mobile Reading

Blame it on ‘The Great & Powerful Oz’, which just started filming in Michigan a few weeks back, but I love that I can get all of Frank Baum’s books along with a host of other classics for free on my iPod touch which means no worries about interloaning or late fees while I sate my curiosity on what Baum has to say about the Wizard beyond The Wizard of Oz. Of course, if you’re interested in the Wizard as well and don’t want to download them all seperately, you can get bundled versions like this Kindle edition for $1 or less.

4.Back to School Shopping Season

Despite my apparently youthful appearance (I often get asked if I’m a student) I don’t actually do back to school shopping for school, but the sales are great even for those of us not attending this fall. For instance, my printer recently decided that blue was the one and only color worth printing in. With the sales going on for school I was able to get a nice new printer that will print in a full array of colors for 45% off the retail price which is pretty darn awesome.

5.Pearson Cooking Classics Quick-Cooking Black Beans

These would be the beans that I used in yesterday’s black beans & rice recipe. I don’t particularly care for beans in general, but black beans are on my willing to consume list and these not only cook fast but have a great taste too.

lia sophia NEXT: Clinton Kelly’s Top 10

Since Clinton introduced us to his closet last year and it’s a bit hard to do live questions with 4,000 women; this year he did the next best thing by addressing the top ten questions that he gets asked. Of course, in the midst of this discussion he admitted to being caught in flip flops on the street after expressedly stating they are the bottom of the shoe ladder. This admission led to the removal of one show – to validate his claim of having attractive feet – and then a totally barefoot state.

I’m really rather amazed there weren’t more catcalls in the midst of all the cheering going on at that time. Anyway, on to the tips…

10. Most people I know are hot messes. I don’t want to look overdressed in my own neighborhood. What’s a girl to do?

Really, most of America is a hot mess. We all know it and Clinton’s not afraid to say it, but he’s also quick to say not to worry about what people think about you. Everything you put on your body should be a personal expression of you aka You Be You!

9. Can you help my husband? He’s gross!

I loved that Clinton showed a picture of himself with the admonition not to get your hopes too high. His advice – reward him your hubby/boyfriend/etc for dressing well with treats. What those treats are I’ll leave up to you to determine ;)

8. These boobs of mine! I just can’t figure out what to do with them. Any ideas?

I feel this one ladies. The girls are pretty fond of getting in the way. Last year, Clinton told us that getting a bra fitting was one of the best things to do to up your style ante. This year, he shared it a bit differently by telling us to get the girls in a bra halfway between the shoulder & elbow. That’s where designers design them to be.
For the smaller ladies, create a volume with ruffles, folding etc. whereas those more amply endowed should get to know v-necks. They’re our friends. He also encouraged smaller shouldered individuals to add some volume at the shoulder to balance things out.

7. How do I make it look like I have less junk in my trunk?

This problem I do not have (as my mother will attest) but Clinton has a phrase to help remember what to do if this is a problem area for you – divide & conquer. Dividing breaks up the attention and therefore helps minimize.

6. Shopping for jeans is about as much fun as playtime at Guantanamo Bay. Please… help… me.

My favorite part of this answer was when Clinton told us that the best way to prevent muffin top is to keep the muffin in the pan aka 2 finger widths under the belly button is an ideal location for the top of the jeans to hit. In case you’ve ever wondered, the trouser is apparently the most flattering style of jean available.
He also reminded us that the average woman on what Not to Wear has to try on 20 pairs of jeans to find that pair that fits, so don’t give up after one or two.

5. You’re always recommending heels. Well, my feet hurt Mister Smartypants. Now what?

“Why would I see a podiatrist? Because they’re a foot doctor!”

While taller makes you look thinner by elongating your body, if your doctor tells you not to wear heels – don’t do it! If you’re a heel avoider you can still be stylish sporting a cute non-athletic sneaker; light, airy wedge; ballet or other style of flat; boot or a sandal. Just avoid those flip flops. Oh, and with flats raise your natural waist to make your legs look longer and you, therefore, taller.

4. Is there such a thing as too much jewelry for daytime?

Jewelry is all about drawing attention to where you want, so use statement jewelry to draw the eye where you’d like it to go and complement it with simpler pieces for the daytime then trade out for a bolder evening look.

3. Momma ain’t got no money for Gucci. How do I still look fabulous?

“Style is not about clothes – it’s a state of mind that you believe & look good every day.”

Being a bargain shopper I love this – style is not about price tag. More important is the fit. Without fit, there’s no style involved no matter what the price tag says. According to Clinton a tailor & a bra fitting will change your life, so buy the less expensive piece and get it tailored to get that million dollar look.

2. My kids left me with a pooch as a reminder that I carried them for 9 months. Whaaaaa!

There are several options to get the attention where you want it like a great structured jacket, a blouse with shape (dart, etc.), avoiding tubes or an a-line dress that’s fitted at the waist. Don’t be afraid of shapewear either. It’s a girl’s best friend ;)

1. How do I dress so that I don’t look like my teenage daughter… or my mother? Yikes!

According to Clinton if you’re asking if your too old to be wearing something you probably need to seriously consider the likelihood that you are. Here are his 4 questions to ask:
– Does it show too much cleavage?
– Does it show too much leg?
– Does this trend involve the belly button at all?
– Is this a trend that a hooker would look at and say that’s a trend for me?

That’s it for Clinton’s Top Ten, but I’ll leave you with a few more quotes of his to brighten you day.

“You have a choice to be blah, boring or fabulous – like me.”
“Stop comparing yourself to anyone else on this planet. You are you & you are perfect.”
“You can be perfect & imperfect. Embrace your perfections.”
“You be you. You be the best version of you possible and everything else will fall into place.”

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the lia sophia giveaway going on right now. Less than a week left now to enter…

5 Things I Love – July 18

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1. ‘Believe’ by Transiberian Orchestra

One of my favorite songs from their Night Castle album, I was geeked to hear it live at one of their concerts last year and it comes up pretty regularly in my iPod playlists. It’s not just the song I love, though. It’s Tim Hockenberry’s singing it. He’s got a fabulously raspy voice that makes me think of late nights at smoky piano bars. Not that I’ve really done that myself, but that’s what it puts me in mind of none the less.

2. Clinton Kelly

Host of TLC’s What Not to Wear, fashion guru and funny guy. I’ve now had the opportunity to hear him speak twice and he was fabulous both times. Now I just need to get his books, which I’m sure are great, funny reads. After all, the most recent one is Oh No She Didn’t. Unfortunately, I’m sure she did or she wouldn’t have ended up in the book ;)
Also, the post about his talk at this year’s lia sophia conference will go live tomorrow. is up now!

3. Trader Joe’s Mango Butter

Mangos are my friend. I love them. The problem is getting mangoes that are in decent shape up here in the Midwest. Enter mango butter. The wonderful taste of mango in a tasty spread for those mango-less times in life. It’s also great for cooking to give a bit of that creamy fruit flavor to a dish.

4.Retro Bikes

I’m currently bike shopping and I must say I love the retro inspired bikes that have hit the market. It started when I took note some of the Cruiser styles from Schwinn which are at Walmart. Then there’s the lovely offerings from Velobis and a multitude of other places. Thankfully I’ve got a price cap or this search would be far harder than it already is.

5. Vanessa Mae

In a recent scroll through my iTunes artist I stumbled upon Vanessa Mae once more and realized I still love her music as much as I did when I first was introduced back in high school. A classically trained violinist, she brings a modern techno feel to her music that I quite enjoy. It doesn’t hurt that I love violin. If I ever decided to pick up a new instrument most likely that would be it (though percussion has a certain appeal as well).

lia sophia NEXT: A New Year, A New Look

As I’ve been thinking over this post I can’t help but think that the first and shortest day of conference is designed to ease us into the packed schedule of the rest of the conference. Of course, it could also just be that they know we’re bubbling over with excitement at knowing we’re going to be seeing all the new jewelry soon. Anyway, that first session is where most of this news comes from. There’s far too much to fit in one post.

This year they changed things up by starting us all together in the U.S. Cellular Arena. They even sent us our badges ahead of time so that we wouldn’t have to go through registration first. We knew they had something up their sleeves, but I know I wasn’t alone in my surprise when they unveiled the new look of lia sophia, but I love the new purple and abstraction of the company name. As I said in my post earlier today, these changes are already live on the lia sophia website for you to check out.

Here’s a look at the new packaging that will be coming out with the new line:

Aren’t they pretty? I was super excited to check them out live while I was there, but I know that not everyone has quite as strong of feeling about such things as I do so here’s some of the other news I haven’t covered yet…

Elena Kiam, New Creative Director

If you’ve ever taken the time to look at the first few pages of the lia sophia catalog then you’ve seen Elena Kiam. Now she’ll be even more visible as she takes on the role of Creative Director for lia sophia. A women of fabulous style, a passion for lia sophia and a background studying design at Harvard; her touch can already be seen in the new catalog from the available styles to the tips that she’s scattered throughout it. In addition to the behind the scenes work, she’ll be becoming more involved with a blog at lia sophia homepage, Social Fashion videos on YouTube and more.

Social Fashion

Social Fashion is the intersection of style and friendship. Since this is what lia sophia is all about, be expecting to see even more about Social Fashion in the future like the previously mentioned videos and a special fashion update flyer every month featuring key trends & ideas.

Fall Winter Catalog

With 100 pages and 617 styles this is the largest catalog that we’ve ever had. It also features fashion tips from Elena, updated photography and even more trends. With over half the catalog under $50, it’s still affordable too though I will admit that I’m pretty sure I want every $45 Hostess Bonus item in there. Supporting my jewelry habit is definitely one of my ‘whys’ for being an advisor ;)

Special Editions

We all know trends don’t constrain them to the catalog cycle, so to address that lia sophia is now doing small collections known as Special Editions. This first special edition is all about bright colors and is only available through the end of September.

Charms!!!

One addition to the new catalog I want to call out specifically is that we now have charms and charm bracelets! There are a couple of varieties of regular charm bracelets and necklaces for clip charms as well as a leather wrap charm bracelet that can be adorned with mini slides. They’re super cute and I can’t wait to get my samples of them :)

Expanded Spanish Materials

Starting this August lia sophia will be expanding the materials offered in Spanish to a full suite including not only catalog but a special Spanish starter kit.

I know what you’re really looking for are some pics of the jewelry so, with no further ado, here’s a sneak peek of a few of the new styles:

Still to come are Clinton Kelly, Geena Davis & the Fashion Soiree…

5 Things I Love – June 27

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Today I am posting live from NEXT, the 2011 lia sophia conference, in Milwaukee. What a fabulous way to spend my birthday, right? Well, being here for the post it only seemed appropriate that this week’s edition include the 5 things I love about conference…

1. The Jewelry

Not only do we get the new catalog for Fall/Winter, but we also get a chance to see & try on the upcoming styles in person. We even get to bring several styles home to show off to all our friends!

2. The Ladies

I know I’ve said it before, but the ladies of lia sophia are AMAZING and when 4,000 jewelry fans gather from around the country entertaining things are bound to happen. It also gives us a chance to celebrate with all the award achievers, like our own Cheri Willis who was the #1 manager in the country in recruits. Go Cheri!!!

3. The Surprise Announcements

One day in & OMG!!! A rebranding (we’re purple now!), new creative director (Elena Kiam is amazing), new Spanish materials AND the new catalog will start July 11 overlapping the current catalog for 20 days!!!

4. The Speakers

Can I just say Clinton Kelly? He was fabulous last year & came back by popular demand because, well, we love him. We’ve also got the lovely Geena Davis, Go For No & Mikki Williams.

5. The Parties

We eased in with a festive atmosphere at Mo’s last night. Tonight we’ll be rocking our Zone party and tomorrow is the Fashion Soiree!

More to come about the conference in the next few days…

5 Things I Love – June 20

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1. Opal Applique Clutch in Multi

As may become apparent at some point, I have a thing for clutches. Never mind that I rarely am anywhere that I would carry such a thing. This particular clutch is another one that caught my eye in Marie Claire, though it’s much more affordable than Stella McCartney’s.

2. V8 V-Fusion Raspberry Green Tea

As a kid who hated tomatoes growing up I never thought I would want to drink V8, but the combo of green tea and raspberries brings together two things I love for a great, healthy beverage choice.

3. Michigan Awesome

Michigan Awesome is this, well, awesome little company who makes t-shirts for Michiganders at heart who are proud to show it. I’ve got a list of their styles I intend to acquire, the most recent of which being ‘4 Out of 5’ and ‘Michigangster’.

4. Neuro Web Design by Susan Weinschenk

I was first introduced to this book last year when my manager came up one morning and asked if I could read and produce notes on the book for presentation at an afternoon meeting. Thankfully, it’s a really great book which meant I didn’t mind immersing myself completely in it for a few hours or reintroducing myself last month for our design workshop. To me it’s a must read for anyone who works with customers and the web.

5. Bear River Valley Cereal

I stumbled across this brand while perusing Big Lots and am wishing I had stocked up more at the time because not only are they a bagged cereal (so 75% less packing is used) but they’re all natural, whole grains and tasty to boot.

5 Things I Love – April 18

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1. Delivering Happiness

If you like a good read – read this book. If you’re involved in business of any sort – read this book. If you want to succeed in your chosen profession – read this book. Really, there’s a reason that it hit #1 on NYT Bestsellers. Tony Hsieh tells a great story about his journey to build Zappos starting all the way back with his childhood worm farm and in the process shares a lot of great lessons and tips not just about business but about life.

2. ‘You Never Let Go’ by Matt Redman

I learned this song awhile back and just recently it was reintroduced to my life. Even us glass half full people have down days and for me this song is a reminder that ‘through the calm and through the storm… in every high and every low, Lord, you never let go of me’, which is easy to lose sight of sometimes.

3. ‘Chicks Dancing’ Video

This past week Zoya Nail Polish put up this great video of their new spokeschick that is quirky, entertaining and cute. Never fear – not only is this video amusing but it is safe for the workplace and small children.

4. Knitted Dove

One of the things I love about Ideeli is that it introduces me to great new brands (or at least new to me), like Knitted Dove. The line is actually one I could envision my old roommate living in. It’s super cute, feminine and has a great aesthetic. The kind of pieces I might mix into my wardrobe for my less tomboy/bohemian/etc more embrace the femininity days. They’ve also got fun music videos for their Spring & Fall 2011 collections on their website.

5. My Mitten In Yours

One of my lovely friends of the blogging persuasion got engaged not all that long ago and has decided to blog her way towards a Michigan made wedding. She’s a great writer and I’m looking forward to reading along on this journey over the next year plus a few months.

la belle rose Expands with la belle rose II

Have you read about the first la belle rose collection yet? If not, check it out here before continuing.

Back in October, lia sophia released the ever so lovely la belle rose Red Carpet Collection. Well, just a few weeks ago that collection expanded with the debut of  la belle rose II at Lounge Tzigan at Villa Pacri, NYC. Here’s the official description:

la belle rose II encompasses not only beauty and femininity, but also strength and power through daring designs that meld traditional deco, industrial and old Hollywood glamour together with a rock and roll twist.

The result is a unique collection of breathtaking baubles that are both exotic and elegant. Share your confidence and showcase your style in la belle rose II.

As you can see below, much of the collection is truly an extension of the first collection. Here’s an overview.

Sequence

3 pieces – $125-350

My favorite piece in this collection is also the newest style to be introduced in the collection – Sequence. The bracelet comes in both a matte silver with jet crystals (above) and a matte copper with matte silver and clear crystals, while the earrings only come in the matte copper scheme.

Sequence Earrings - $125

Bullet

2 pieces: $375 each

The Bullet portion of the collection saw two more bracelets enter it’s midst only with a twist. While the first selections featured a combination of matte metallics, these new bracelets feature a matte base accented with enamel finish and crystals. Combos include matte gold with jet enamel or matte silver with ivory enamel both accented with black diamond crystals.

Bullet Bracelet - $375

Runway

5 pieces: $125-$650

With a new button ring in matte copper with matte silver and clear crystal accents as the edition of one ring, two bracelets and a necklace in a whole new color scheme of matte silver with jet crystals, this portion of the collection saw the greatest growth.

Runway Bracelet - $275

Cluster

2 pieces: $125-$200

These two went all matte silver with jet crystal accents which are a little bolder than their matte gold and black crystal friends in the la belle rose collection.

Cluster Ring - $125

Wrapped II

3 pieces: $150-$375

Wrapped II saw the addition of a matte copper finish for it’s earrings and bracelet along with an addition to the hematite finish in the form of a ring.

Wrapped II Bracelet - $375

Estate

3 pieces: $175-$700

Here too matte copper came to play with matte copper and clear crystal versions of the ring, earrings and bracelet.

Estate Bracelet - $700

Marble

1 piece: $300

Last but not least, this portion of the collection saw the addition of a bracelet featuring black onyx resin in the mix.

Marble Cuff with Black Onyx Resin - $300

That’s a wrap on the latest from lia sophia’s Red Carpet Collections. You can check out la belle rose II on it’s own or see the whole collection together.

Visit here for pictures from the event.

Haute Living also has coverage of Villa Pacri event.

Quest Mag has a brief mention of it as well.

5 Things I Love – Nov 15

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1. French Press Coffee

Ever since changing jobs I have developed a bit of a coffee addiction. One cup a day and I’m good, but without it… well, it becomes very obvious that my brain doesn’t wake up until 10am. I blame this addiction in part on my office and in part on being my first ‘desk’ job. I’m still not used to this being in one place all day thing. Anyway, a few weeks ago we got a french press and not only does the coffee taste better, but when it comes time to make a new pot there is a certain joy in the simple ceremony of bringing it together.

2. YSL’s Dark Olive Muse Two Bag

So it’s way out of my price range, but I can still drool, right?

3. World Usability Day

Really, I love any opportunity to meet up with my UX/ID friends IRL. The actual sessions that day were pretty awesome as well. Be on the lookout for a re-cap post later this week.

4. Old Family Photos

A personal project that I am currently working on necessitated my going through five boxes of photos at my parent’s house yesterday and it ended up being a very fun journey through our family history. There’s no real order to the boxes so I’d open one sleeve of pictures to find photos from our Wales in trip in ’01 and then the next sleeve would be full of baby pictures. I told my mom she needs to scan some more of them in for a truly entertaining family photo album on Facebook.

5. Sporks

Sporks came up specifically because TechSmith was giving away titanium sporks as a part of the promotion for their new Snagit for Mac, but really sporks are just amusing. While we have no sporks here to give away, they have worked their way into our office shenanigans (see the vampire spork incident) and I expect that given time they will pop up again.

New Red Carpet Collection – la belle rose

inlaid enamel stretch bracelets from lia sophia's new la belle rose collection

Back in June when I wrote about attending the annual lia sophia conference, I mentioned getting a sneak peek at the new Red Carpet Collection and this week it went live, so of course my first thought… okay, second thought was that I have to share it with you all. The first thought was a certifiable case of B.S.O.S. (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome).

The new collection, la belle rose, combines matte metals with cut crystal then throws it into a mixer with Old Hollywood glamour, Art Deco and some military grunge (which has been popping up with regularity in the style world). Here’s the official description.

la belle rose encompasses not only beauty and femininity with the introduction of rose metal, but strength and power through daring designs that meld traditional deco, industrial hardware and old Hollywood glamour together.

The result is a unique collection of breathtaking baubles that are both exotic and elegant. Share your confidence and showcase your style in la belle rose.

You can view the entire collection here, but here’s a quick look at some of the styles you’ll find.

Bullet

$130-$800

A choker, bracelet and ring that come in matte silver with either matte gold and black diamond crystals or matte copper and clear crystals.

the matter gold, silver and black diamond crystal bullet choker from lia sophia's la belle rose collection

Bullet Choker - $800

Runway

$60-$650

Several necklaces, bracelets, earrings and a ring, this section is also matte silver with either matte gold and black diamond crystals or matte copper and clear crystals and includes the most affordable piece in the collection at $60.

Runway Ring - $125

Cluster

$125-$200

A bracelet and ring each in matte gold with black diamond crystals.

Cluster Linked Bracelet - $200

Wrapped II

$175-$375

This earring and bracelet set is one of my favorites from the collection. Black diamond, clear and jet crystals are set in either matte gold or hematite. I couldn’t pick which finish I preferred so you get both.

Wrapped II Linear Earrings - $175

Estate

$175-$700

Earrings, bracelet and ring all clear crystals in matte silver.

 

Estate Chandelier Earrings - $300

Marble

$100-$300

Earrings, ring and bracelets with black diamond crystals, black enamel and tortoise, lapis or black resin.

Marble Ring with Lapis Resin - $100

The Red Carpet Collections are always a bit, okay, a lot more dear on the pocketbook than the regular lia sophia line, but you can get the pieces at 1/2 off with the Customer Save Plan which makes it a little more affordable. That is especially true with the rings, which usually are in the $100-$150 range, and earrings. These hoops from the Runway set, for instance, are only $30 at 1/2 off.

Runway Hoop Earrings - $60

Of course, I’ve only seen the collection in pictures. Here’s a first hand account from the Toronto Film Festival.

Pieces from the collection can also be found in the Sept. 27 edition of Seventeen’s Runway Insider and the Oct. 11 issue of People (pg 101).

Update

Want to see more coverage of the la belle rose line? Here are some articles and posts I’ve found since:

Style Bistro

Elle Canada

Sicka than Average

The la belle rose II collection is now available as well.

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