It's Day Three of Kate's Favorite Things (and likely the final day... but who knows, there might be more)! I had high hopes of doing many days of this (it is seriously fun to log all of my favorite things), but I'm getting foot surgery tomorrow and will need to take a little hiatus from the blogosphere. I had hoped to cover clothing gifts at some point (amongst many, many other things!), but I just haven't gotten my act together. Forgive me, please? I promise when I'm back to blog all about my favorite fashion picks! In the meantime, I'll give you a tip: Whether you're shopping for a guy or a gal, just go to J.Crew and call it a day. Cashmere sweaters and accessories. Plaid shirts. 30% off. Done. Everyone loves themselves some cashmere sweaters, cozy accessories and wintery plaid shirts come December, and I'm sure that whatever you choose will look ravishing on the recipient and envelop them in your friendly, loving gesture.
But if you don't necessarily want to give clothes... read on! Today's topic is HOME, and I am super excited about everything on this list. Prices range from $10 to $160, and you can't go wrong with any of these items. Enjoy!
Kate's Favorite Things - Home Edition!
Crate & Barrel Camille 23 oz. Red Wine Glass, $10.36 each (on sale from $12.95), from Crate & Barrel
Are you a Scandal watcher? I thought so. I'll bet you've noticed that Olivia Pope likes to relax at the end of the day with a ginormous glass of wine. I'll bet you like the glasses she drinks out of. Who wouldn't? They're awesome.
THIS THE GLASS SHE DRINKS OUT OF. Unfortunately, I'm not the only person who figured this out, and the rest of the world has placed an order and drained C&B's supply, so they're backordered until March. But I have hope that they'll ship sooner. If you've got a real Scandal fan (and a fan of elegantly ginormous wine glasses), I'll bet they're willing to wait a few months to get their hot little hands on these bad boys so that they too can relax at the end of a hard day of crisis control and totally inappropriate affairs whilst wearing the white hat.
Crate & Barrel also has a smaller 13 oz. white wine glass that's a little less cool and isn't quite what Olivia owns, but it has the bonus of being available for consumption now and also isn't so comically large.
Compagnie de Provence Olive Lavender Perfume Diffuser, $25.00, from Compagnie de Provence
I recently tested every lavender scented diffuser that the Gracious Home store had to offer. I bought two, this one (which I'm raving about now) and this one (beautiful and smells amazing up very close, but it overall packs very little punch - also beware that if it drips on a wood surface, it will eat away the finish). The Compagnie de Provence Olive Lavande diffuser is far and away the most incredible scent I've ever smelled. You know by now that I love lavender... but I never would have thought that mixing it with olive would produce such an intensely delightful experience. It smells like fresh air and Provence. It's refreshing, relaxing and just generally amazing. I put ours in the bedroom and plan to place a few more throughout the apartment. Give this to any Francophile or lover of things that smell amazing. And trust me: buy one for yourself.
One note: The company claims that this will last 8-10 weeks. I don't know how that is possible. Mine lasted almost exactly a month (I distinctly remember buying it on Veterans' Day), and the oil has been aggressively wicked away to the last drop. I don't know if I had particularly thirsty reeds or if all of the diffusers are like this, but it's worth mentioning. And perhaps that's why it makes a room smell so darn phenomenal (the other diffuser that I bought has barely budged, but you also barely notice the scent). I am not a fan of how quickly this diffuser must be replaced, but it certainly hasn't stopped me from placing another order (and I just learned that they sell a refill, though it's out of stock). Once you smell this scent, you won't be able to live without it.
Venturi Wine Aerator, $29.95 (on sale from $39.95), from Williams Sonoma
This little thing is just awesome, and everyone should have one in their home. It's a little wine aerator and it works magic by frothily aerating your wine as you pour it into your glass. It makes a very bizarre and distinct sucking/gurgling sound that you'll come to associate with the delightful experience. Give it to everyone on your list who likes wine; buy one for yourself too.
Mariposa Individual Pearled Wavy Bowl, $48.00, from Mariposa
My obsession with Mariposa began in 2010 when my friend Stephanie gave us this bowl as a shower gift. The undulating lines paired with the pearl trim are just gorgeous, and the silver is beautiful. It's a great piece to have in the living room. I like to leave it empty, but it would also beautifully display nuts or candies for a party.
Jo Malone™ 'English Pear & Freesia' Scented Home Candle, $65 from Norstrom.com
Jo Malone is just synonymous with luxury. I've been giving the Lime, Basil & Mandarin candle as a gift for years whenever I want to give something extra special, but I actually did not get to have the privilege of owning one of my very own until last year, when my friend Emily gave me the English Pear & Freesia version. OMG is it incredible. I actually squealed with glee when I got the package -- the package comes just bursting with beautiful scent (I think they spray the box down so it's extra scentsational) and triggers instant euphoria, and as you tear into it, the scent just gets more magnificent, decadent and all-consuming. Emily also gave me the Lime, Basil & Mandarin body crème, $75, which I am pretty certain is heaven in a jar.
Waylande Gregory Green Leopard Print Coasters, $90, from Zhush.com
I'm moderately obsessed with Waylande Gregory pottery and home goods. I learned of him for the first time when Matt and I were in California over the summer, and now I am hooked. Waylande Gregory (1905-1971) was an artist and art deco sculptor from Kansas (yes!) credited with revolutionizing art deco ceramics sculpture. Now his name lives on with Waylande Gregory Studios after the great-grandnephew discovered "a treasure trove" of Waylande's work. Everything from the collection is fantastic -- I seriously cannot pick a favorite, as you'll see below -- but these coasters are a nice price point, super useful (we all need coasters and never think to buy them for ourselves) and that emeraldy green color is just incredible. As is the fabulous leopard. I'm obsessed.
Simon Pearce Woodbury Bowl - S, $95.00, from Simon Pearce
Everything about this piece is beautiful and elegant and would fit into any home. Our Aunt Susan gave this to us as an engagement gift, and I've just loved it ever since. Simon Pearce is a sure bet for holiday gift giving.
Waylande Gregory Small Tiger Gray Bullet Bowl, $135, from Orange and Pear
These little bullet bowls are adorable and a nice little size (4.5" across) to add a pop to your side table. They're also great for holding little things like earrings or rings next to your bed. There are a lot of different options, but I like this tiger. Its lines are very elegant and feminine, but the coloring is masculine, so the overall look of the bowl is not overtly girly. This brown leopard version is also really great.
Note, the bowl is a little bit elevated (1.5") and tapered on the bottom. It's hard to see in the photo, but it's an elegant touch and helps the bowl look a bit more dainty.
Waylande Gregory Gold and Orange Small Square Elephant Tray, $160, from Zhush.com
I'm just obsessed with every aspect of this dish, for reasons you can probably guess based on my previous posts: elephants, orange, gold, whimsy, and a touch of practicality. I love when whimsy and practicality meet! This dish is just the shizz. We happened upon it when we were in San Francisco and bought it as a wedding gift -- and liked it so much that we bought an extra one for ourselves... it's a tad embarrassing to admit, but having this dish in my living room is totally worth the shame.
I'm sure I will be back in a few days, but if not, I hope you have the happiest of holidays!! Let me know what you give as gifts!
At some point in recent history, I decided that I have no patience for makeup. In part, I like to sleep as late as humanly possible and still make it to work on time; in part, my bizarre foot problem (avascular necrosis of the sesamoid) has rendered me much less capable of standing in front of a mirror for any period of time that an extensive beauty routine might require; and, in part, I've decided that "natural" is so much, you know, cooler than "done up" (you see how one excuse justifies the next). I also like to bring my makeup with me "on the road" and apply on the go if necessary. Thus, I've arrived at a very speedy and foolproof makeup application process and lineup of products (all for around $100 in total and nothing more than ~$30 individually, but some items will last you for a really long time and are well worth the investment).
There are three keys to makeup success: bronzer, a worthy bronzer brush and eyes.
Bronzer is hands down the fastest way to bring your face to life. In a few quick swipes, you can go from sickly ("Oh, goodness, you just look exhausted today" - Gee, thanks...? You... too?) to glowing ("Oh my goodness, you look fabulous!" - Why, thank you! I do just naturally glow, don't I, dahling?). There are many great bronzers out there - Cargo, Smashbox, Bobbi Brown, and Benefit all make lovely ones - but I've recently come back to an oldie but goodie and am pleased with the results (I ran out of it last month and bought another brand in a pinch to make do, and it's just not the same). For my pale complexion, I love bareMinerals All-Over Face Color in warmth, $19.00. The loose powder may seem unwieldy, but once you get the hang of it, you'll appreciate the control it allows you to have in terms of saturation and placement. Also the color "warmth" may seem like a lot for a pale, semi-freckly face, but it works well on skin with a pink undertone and really does add warmth to your appearance (if your skin's undertone is a bit more yellow, I might recommend the "faux tan" color instead). When going for gold in as little time as possible, I'm not a fan of "matching skin tones" (unless you're just trying to even out your complexion). I put bronzer on for a reason: to look more bronzed.
The Bronzer Brush
It may not seem like it, but splurging on the brush is really worth it - I have cheaped out on a "natural kabuki brush" at Duane Reade to keep at work and lived to regret it. After enough painful applications, it ended up in the trash and I ended up buying a good brush. I used to keep drug store make up at work and keep the "good stuff" at home, but I've since changed my tune. We all spend the majority of our lives at work and deserve to have some nice make up around to spruce up in the morning or before going out at night. A good brush will last you years (provided you clean it appropriately) and will feel lovely on your face (you'll thank yourself with every silky swipe of bronzer). If you want something small for on-the-go or for work, this bareMinerals Full Coverage Kabuki Brush, $28.00, at Sephora, is great. It gives you the benefits of a full-sized brush, but fits somewhat compactly in a makeup bag. This Sephora Collection Classic Must Have Large Powder Brush #30, $36.00, is also really nice (but more space intensive). Throw on a few light swipes of bronzer with these bad boys and don't look back.
While bronzer and the bronzer brush are key to the success of any makeup routine, the eyes are where you can get the biggest bang for your buck in terms of time spent and immediate facial improvement, and it can be done very quickly and will few tools. My favorite quick-and-dirty eye routine is as follows (this is again for someone with relatively pale skin, blue eyes and lightish hair, but is so neutral that it could be used on a variety of complexions, and shades can of course be varied to fit your personal needs and skin tone):
1. Apply this Sephora Collection Retractable Waterproof Eyeliner, $13.00. I use the "10 Matte Brown Black" and on occasion the "21 Matte Deep Plum" (great for blue eyes). It is super easy to use and stays on. I also like that this pencil is retractable and thus does not require sharpening.
2. Using your finger, swipe your lids generously with this amazing Benefit Cosmetics Creaseless Cream Shadow, $20.00, in "R.S.V.P." (a sparkling champagne color). It is literally foolproof and instantly brightens your eyes and face. This goes on so easily and has a lovely shimmer to it to add just a glimmer and a nice "I'm awake!" pop of sheen. Darker skin tones can try "rich fawn."
3. Comb brows lightly and sparingly apply this amazing Benefit Cosmetics Instant Brow Pencil, $20.00. You think you don't need an eyebrow pencil? You do. It will change your life. Get this one. It is so easy - so much easier than using powder - and it makes an insta-difference to your face. It goes quickly, so make sure you have a pencil sharpener handy because you'll need to sharpen every week or two (I normally wouldn't force you to buy something that requires sharpening, but this product is that good). I use the light-to-medium. I have tried to medium-to-dark as well, and it is nice if you want a more dramatic eye, but I prefer the light-to-medium.
4. Finish eyes off with a quick lash curl (if you have a curler) and a few swipes of this incredible Givenchy Noir Couture 4 in 1 Mascara in 1 Black Satin, $15.00. I have the mini (I bought it on a whim while waiting in line at Sephora) and love, love, love it. Buy it. You'll thank me.
Steps 1-3 can be done in any order, but I usually like to end with Step 4. How long did all of that take? Like, maybe a minute. Go from blah to Blake Lively faster than your Keurig can make your coffee.
All of this is available at Sephora in stores or online. If you order online, all orders over $50 receive free 3-day shipping. I like to try things in store though. Make up is a personal choice and what works great for me might not be quite right for you, so I always recommend trying (some) make up out before making a big investment (if you'll recall my issues with sponges though, you'll understand why I recommend just buying the mascara and eyeliner without trying them - the germiness and possible contamination is just not worth it to me, and the mascara and eyeliner I've recommended are universally flattering and not wallet denting). Also, all of the products that I've suggested are so darn neutral too that they should very easily and flatteringly work on a variety of skin types.
Another plus? These are all excellent stocking stuffers and gifties for friends!
I am a designer and financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and sweet, art-and-design-loving toddler son and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.
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