Eco-Chic: Sustainable Ideas for Your Summer Wedding or Party

Ahhh, summer.  Hot days, long nights, lightning bugs ... there is something about summertime that just makes you happy, even if you aren't crazy about the heat (like yours truly).

Summer weddings and parties can benefit from the season, and if you're hosting one of these events, why not incorporate a more sustainable element to your party?  Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Fruit centerpiece. Instead of breaking the bank with florals, why not do something fresh and unexpected like fruit?  Limes, apples, oranges, and lemons would work beautifully.  Just leave a note to guests to take a piece from the centerpiece on their way out.

2.  Starfish placecards. Nothing screams beachy fun summer like starfish.  Simply tie a placecard to the starfish with some ribbon or raffia and set out for your guests to take and enjoy.  I would bet most would keep the starfish and display somewhere in their home.

3.  Fruit favors. Offer up some edible favors to your guests -- instead of the expected chocolates, go for a fresh local fruit that is in season, such as berries or cherries. Yummy goodness and no waste: that's what I call a win-win.

4.  Ice cream truck. Full disclosure: I attended a rehearsal dinner a few years ago in which the bride and groom had an ice cream cart.  Those who know me know exactly what happened: I ate ice cream all night long.  It was delicious, and that goes down as one of my all time favorite rehearsal dinners, if only for the unlimited ice cream.  What about doing something similar? End your wedding with an ice cream truck to offer cones for guests to enjoy on their way home?

Got any other nifty ideas for incorporating a little summer fun into a party that also happen to be on the greener side?  Please share!

See you swoon,

{photos courtesy of Martha Stewart, Couture Stationary, and Fine Stationary}

Swoon-Worthy: Shops & Boutiques We Love

We have some really great stores in Philadelphia that are so unique that can really bring style and sophistication to any wardrobe.  I am going to share some that I enjoy browsing in hopes that you will come across something you truly love.

Arcadia Boutique  is an eco-friendly fashion boutique that offers some really great styles that are affordable and So cute!  I actually would like to buy a few dresses of my closet.  I must say I am really impressed with their selection and versatility, I am definitely going to keep my eye on this one.

Third Street Habit

LOVE.  is so so adorable.  Their e-shop is not up yet but you can check out their blog that I have totally fallen in love with.  This is a store that has my style down pat!  You can wear these pieces to satisfy your casual side or dress them up to wear on the weekends.  Check it out, oh and you can be sure I will be stalking their site for the e-shop!

I am such a sucker for jeans, I could wear them every single day of my life and this shop satisfies my need to wear denim.  Charlie's Jeans is not just denim, they have dresses, tops, and men's clothing.  They carry the higher end denim such as Rich & Skinny, 7 for all mankind, Hudson, JBrand and the list goes on and on.

Do you have a favorite boutique?  Have you had the chance to visit any of these shops?  Let us know what you think.

See you swoon,

Swoon-Worthy Pros: Soapsational Creations

A few months ago, Jamie and I had a fun afternoon styling a couple of "staged events" - just to play around with some ideas that we had brewing. Lisa of Lisa Levine Photography took the photos, and we had a great time.  We will post more pictures and ideas from this photo shoot soon, but up today is the terrific Soapsational Creations, which is the handmade soap by Laurie Poyant Short.  Laurie and I went to college together and reconnected on Facebook.  She graciously donated a few of her soaps for our "baby shower" staged event.  You can check out her website here and her Etsy store here.

Soapsational Creations soap is a glycerin soap bar embedded with seasonal or themed images, photos, or company logos.  All soaps can be personalized per the client's request with messages, names, or non-copyrighted images.  We asked Laurie for her input and we agreed that a little yellow duckie would be adorable.  The creative process was interactive and fun.  We asked her to have the soaps say "rub-a-dub-dub", and Laurie sent several mock-ups with different fonts until we chose the one we wanted.

Laurie is a delight to work with, and we love love love her soaps!  What great shower or wedding favors they would make, don't you think?

See you swoon,

{photos courtesy of Lisa Levine Photography}

Swoon-Worthy Site: Modcloth

I am totally digging this website and so I thought it would be fun this week to get all of you involved guessed it, shopping on-line! I would love to see a piece of clothing that each of you have been eyeing up and please, share it with rest of us. I would love to see a picture or a link, come on everyone, share the love!!

So my site of choice this week is Modcloth, the site is inspired by vintage and retro styles and even has a really great feature where you can be the buyer and vote on items that have potential to show up in their inventory.

So here is one of my picks this week from Modcloth, don't be shy let me see your style!

Indie-candescent Dress

See you swoon,

Wishing Wells: yay or nay?

Chances are, you have been to a shower where there was a wishing well.  These are a surprising source of controversy: are they useful and fun or old-fashioned and wasteful?

Wishing wells are a great idea in theory, but one problem we see is that most brides and grooms register for everything these days - including things that were once thrown into the wishing well.  We suggest those hosting a shower consider a more modern approach.  Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Wine. This is a great idea for a wine lover.   Ask each guest to bring a bottle of wine for the bride and groom.  In the invitation, include a small card with ribbon and ask the guest to write her wishes for the happy couple and tie it to her bottle of wine and bring it to the shower.  The bride and groom will love reading all of the "toasts" as they crack open each bottle.  To package up the wine and to make for easy transport home, ask the wine store for a cardboard case for wine and keep the inserts.  Wrap the box with pretty paper, and you're good to go.

2.  Christmas ornaments. If the shower is held in the few months before or even after Christmas, ask each guest to bring an ornament for the bride & groom's first Christmas tree.  Like the wine bottles above, ask each guest to write a little note or wish to the couple and attach it to the ornament, so the bride knows who gave her which one.

3.  Recipes. Love this twist: send a blank recipe card with the invitation and ask each guest to bring her favorite recipe for the bride.  The host provides a recipe box so the bride can begin her collection.

Where do you fall on the great wishing well debate? Yay or nay? What do you think of the more modern twists to the concept?

See you

Swoon-Worthy Pros: Frederick Hart Entertainment

I will start off by saying that I am a bit biased when it comes to this pro since he was the DJ for my own wedding but he truly was amazing!  My husband and I knew going into our wedding plans that a band would be a stretch financially for us so we set out to find a DJ that would suit our personalities.  We wanted someone that would not be a typical DJ with blow up props, glow necklaces and talking throughout the night at random times. 

When I found Fred Hart, we called him fora meeting and he had us watch him on his website to get a feel for his style beforehand, we were pleasantly surprised.  When we met with him at our home he made it clear that he would listen to all of our needs and make sure that all of the entertainment would be taken care of, he was so right, we did not have to worry about this at all!  Simply put, he said this night is not about him showing off or making it known that he was there, his success came from making our event all about us and what we wanted.  Fred's attention to detail from the way he sets up a ballroom to make sure there are no wires hanging out to the position of speakers to make sure the sound flows correctly through the venue was impressive.

I highly recommend Frederick Hart Entertainment, check him out and let me know what you think!  I would love to hear what vendors made your event a dream come true.

See you swoon,

Home Swoon Home: How to Hang a Picture Wall

Last week, I blogged about my living room transformation.  One of my favorite parts of the "afters" is my picture wall over the couch.  It's a wonderful way to make sure all of your most treasured photos are on display in your home.  All it takes is some careful planning and a bit of patience.  Here is my grouping:

What you'll need:

* photos, frames, large sheets of craft paper or newspaper, painters tape, tape measure, pen, hammer & nails

What you do:

1- select the photos that you will hang.  I liked the way an all black and white wall looked.  I gathered up wedding photos, pictures of my kids, pictures of my family, etc.  Make sure to choose several different sizes.

2- get your frames.  I wanted everything to be uniform, so I chose black frames with white mats.  This simplified the arrangement and made it seem very balanced.  (check Target, WalMart, Michaels, West Elm, Home Goods, Marshalls and Pottery Barn for great black frames!)  Place all of your photos in your frames. Now comes the part where patience comes into play.

3- Clear a big open space and arrange the artwork on the floor.  Take your time.  Play around with it.  A good rule of thumb is to have about 1 inch in between pictures.

4- Once you have your arrangement, take your frames (one by one so you don't forget your arrangement!) and trace them onto your large paper.  I used the big roll of white art paper that Ikea sells.  Write a quick description of which picture that piece of paper is for.

5- Measure where exactly the frame hangers are located and place these on your paper with a small circle.  This will take awhile.  But trust me: it will be worth it in the end!

6- Use your painters tape to place each paper "frame" on the wall, just as you had it arranged on the floor.  Again, you may need to play around with this when it is on the wall.

7-  Once you are happy with the arrangement, grab your hammer and nails and put them through the paper, where you have already marked with circles in step 5 above.

8- Once your nails are in the wall, remove your paper template and hang its frame in its place.  Use your level to make sure everything is perfectly even.

Voila!  A gallery-like arrangement in your own home.

Need any help with decorating? We'd love to help!

See you swoon,

Guest Blog: DIY Make-Up Tips from Toya

I am so excited to introduce today's blog! My good friend, Toya Smith, is truly a Jill of all trades: she's mother who works full-time, a blogger with not one, but two very active blogs, a professional belly dancer with a troupe in Baltimore, and a make-up artist -- and she's amazing at every one!  We've asked her to guest star today here at Swoon and give a few make-up tutorials. We're all about DIY, so why not DIY make-up too!?! And without further ado, here is Toya with her suggestions for summer wedding beauty tips!
Beauty for a Summer Wedding

So . . . you're going to a summer wedding and you want to look your beautiful best.  Well, you've come to the right place!  Before we get started, let me be clear.  The most beautiful woman at any wedding is the bride.  Get that through your head now and there will be no problems.  LOL!  And hey, brides-to-be - if you want some tips for trendy makeup looks for your wedding, this article is for you, too!
Coral/orange lips

This may sound frightening, but believe me, there is a coral that looks great on everyone.  If you are a fairer-skinned woman, you want to go for softer corals and apricots.  Bobbi Brown had a recent collection based entirely around coral, including her glamorous and easy Pot Rouges in Cabo Coral and Calypso Coral.  Pot Rouges are wonderful in that they can be used on cheeks as a cream blush and on lips as a soft creamy lip color.  You instantly match and can make yourself look more beautiful in just minutes.  Brown-skinned beauties, go for a deeper shade that's closer to orange.  MAC lipstick in either Lady Danger or Morange will be perfect.  If you're looking for more economical choices, Milani Cosmetics has similar shades and their lipsticks have a lusciously creamy texture.

Such an attention-grabbing lip requires minimalism in other areas.  If you're going for this look, pair it with softly shimmering gold shadow, brown lip liner and a couple layers of mascara.  Add a touch of radiance with a cream highlighter under your brows and on cheekbones.  Keep hair pulled back in a sleek ponytail or chignon, with just a slight bit of lift in the crown.

Brightly Colored Eyeshadow

Summer is the perfect time to experiment with new colors on your eyes.  Brands like MAC and Urban Decay have a wide array of colors and textures for you to try.  If you want to experiment but don't want to spend too much money doing it, try NYX Cosmetics which can be found in many local beauty supply stores or ordered online from It's also carried in Ulta.  For summer, an oceany teal/turquoise/aquamarine will be fitting, as will a rich purple.  These shades both look wonderful on women with brown eyes.  If you have blue eyes, try a warm bronze.

Simply apply your favorite colored shadow directly to your lids - do a few thin layers in order to make the color very saturated.  Skip the liner.  A few swipes of mascara and your eye look is done!  For cheeks and lips, stay neutral.  Nudes or a very soft peach will be appropriate.

Deep Fuchsia Lips

Like coral lips, these are the stand-outs of your makeup look.  MAC and Illamasqua make wonderful hot pink/fuchsia shades.  If you want to purchase less expensive options, look to NYX, Milani, or Iman (which is now available at Target and Walgreen's - score!).  Do clean black eyeliner - liquid works well.  Two coats of mascara.  Brown bombshells can do a pop of bronzer on the cheeks to warm up the skin.  Fairer beauties can do a very soft application of pink blush.

Barely There

You don't have to go all out in order to look beautiful.  Even the most minimal makeup can make you look fresh and pretty.  In this case, it's best to go for cream blush, as it will give you a flush that looks as if it comes from the inside out - it will give the most natural glow to your cheeks.  Try a rosy shade.  I love MAC's Cream Colour Bases, as well as NARS cream blushes  Other great ones are NYX and Sally Hansen Natural Beauty inspired by Carmindy.  Paired with the rosy cheek, try nude lip gloss, a couple swipes of mascara and a cream highlighter to add luminescence.

Try any of these trends and you'll feel up-to-date and fabulous.  I'd love to hear from you about how gorgeous you look!


We can't thank Toya enough for sharing her beauty words of wisdom with us today!  Check out her blogs:  "The Life of a Ladybug" and "Makeda".  Toya is a professional make-up artist in the Baltimore area, and also offers email consultations.

We'll feature guest bloggers from time-to-time in the future. Would you like a feature? Let us know!
See you swoon,

Eco-Chic: 5 More Ways to Up Your Green

A few weeks ago, I posted five simple ways to add some green to your life.  Here are five more.

1.  Reuse: I try to reuse everything before throwing it in the trash.  Envelopes from junk mail? They work fine as scrap paper for grocery lists.  Plastic containers that aren't recyclable? They make perfect containers to hold paint for small jobs.  A calendar picture that you really love? Frame it and turn it into art ... like I did here above my sofa.

2. Choose Glass Over Plastic: I used to use Tupperware a lot.  I still have some, but I am slowly replacing it with glass.  First, it eliminates a step: I used to cook food, put in plastic, put in the fridge, then when it was time to reheat, put the food in a glass bowl and then reheat.  This saves me time.  Second, and more importantly, I've read some alarming things about plastic and what happens when it breaks down.  Obviously, I encourage everyone to read up on the issue and come to your own conclusions.  But for me, I'm making an effort to use more glass food storage containers.

3. Paint with Low or No-VOC paints: I love to paint.  Love love love.  It relaxes me and gives instant gratification: after a few hours, your room goes from yellow to blue.  How easy (and fun) is that?!?  I also love Sherwin Williams paints - they are my go-to brand because they're durable and go on so beautifully.  Sherwin Williams, like several other manufacturers, has a no-VOC paint called Harmony.  Harmony has very little odor and zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds, which aren't so great to breathe) and yet still covers just as well as any other Sherwin Williams paint.  Love it.

4.  Buy Local:  Now is a great time to buy local produce.  Seek out what's in season and what is available from local farms.  Relying on local crops and farmers means less you're requiring less transportation and packaging of produce, which is so much better for the environment.  I have to say, one of my favorite things about summer is stopping by the local produce stand near my parents' house in South Jersey: fresh Jersey tomatoes, corn, peppers, zucchini ... it doesn't get any better than that.

5. Baking Soda: Baking soda, like vinegar, has so many uses in your home.  It's a great abrasive for scrubbing sinks: I use a sprinkle of baking soda once a week or so to make my stainless steel sink shine.  It is also terrific for getting stains out of things: it takes red crayon off of white counters and white MacBooks.  Mix a little of it with some cleanser and you have a super gentle and effective exfoliating scrub.  Sprinkle on the floor before you vacuum to help with any odors.  This is just the tip of the iceberg:  check out a few more posts on the topic here and here.

There you have it.  Five more super simple ways to be a little greener.  Do you have any simple suggestions for incorporating a little more green to your life? Share!

See you swoon,

What Would Jamie Wear: Summer Outfit

Maybe it is the sweltering summer heat that makes me feel like I have NOTHING to wear but I have been online building massive shopping bags lately that could make my wardrobe everything a girl could ever ask for.  OK, well let's be honest, even after buying the next greatest outfit there will be one to follow that, it is a vicious, vicious circle yet so enjoyable.

I did make a little trip to Anthropologie this weekend, I know Anthropologie, are you really surprised though?  I will have to show you what I bought once they have the top on their site but in the meantime I will share the next outfit on my wishlist.

The top is from Anthropologie (since I was just there of course).  The jeans are by Hudson, yes they are white but I just cannot resist even though technically the season to wear white pants is so short, rules were meant to be broken and I fully intend to do this.  The shoes believe it or not are Clarks and are so comfy and stylish, ladies you know how hard a pair of shoes like this is to find!!

So what do you think, does this outfit work or does it miss the mark?  I would love to hear what you think.

See you swoon,

Home Swoon Home: Living Room before & after

I think I have mentioned one or two or twenty times that I'm currently redecorating my entire house.  Up today: my living room transformation.

The front door of my home opens up right into the living room.  Hi - come on in.  There is no entry way or vestibule.  One huge decorating conundrum in this room was the size: it was really long and narrow.  When we first moved in, we placed the sofa and chair along the same wall, which made conversations awkward to say the least.  We also purchased the antique armoire that the former owner had in the corner of the room. It seemed *perfect* to hold our television and television components.  And it was.  Unfortunately, it was a monster of a piece and ate up a ton of square footage, which is precious in a 1400 square foot house like mine.

When it came time to redecorate, I enlisted the help of my good friend Angie from Minnesota.  Angie has an eye for design that I simply do not have.  I like to think I am learning a lot, but it is all due to her help.  I sent Angie pictures of my living room ... "befores" that were just dying to be turned into "afters."  With Angie's guidance, I set to work.  (note: I highly recommend this practice if you are all unsure of how or where to start.  Ask a friend whose style you admire to help.  It's fun! and here is a shout out to Angie - THANK YOU!)

I knew I wanted a different color palette.  We had a warm scheme going on: reds, golds, greens, deep eggplants.  This felt too heavy for me.  Thankfully I had chosen the perfect wall color years ago: Parisian Taupe by Behr.  It stayed.  Almost everything else did not.  The new color palette was taupe, cream, pale "seaglass" blue, and pops of black and brown.  And without further ado, here are the pix!

Before:  As you can see, the antique armoire was massive -- functional, but massive. It took up too much real estate in the room and looked like clutter junction.  I also had two crown molding shelves with pictures, but they were always hidden by the armoire door.

After: Ahhhhh.  I measured and realized that hello! a loveseat would fit on this wall!  I instantly doubled the amount of seating in the room (which would later be tripled ... stay tuned).  I ditched the armoire, brought in a new love seat and matching sofa, splurged on a flat screen wall mounted television and bought a $50 bookcase from Target to hold toys and the tv components.  I bought some fabric and glued it to foam board and tacked the foam board to the back of the bookcase for a pop of pattern.  Love it.  The floor lamp is from Target.  The art over the loveseat is from a calendar believe it or not!  I absolutely adore the Susy Jack calendar, and loved this print so much I framed it (and am doing the same with my daughter's room).  The baskets in the bookshelf are from Home Goods, as is the large canvas box next to the shelf; the blue canvas bins in the shelf are from Babies R Us.

Before: Our sofa wall was long and awkward.  I loved this sofa and it repelled stains like you would not believe.  But I knew I wanted a matching loveseat and sofa, so I gave my sister our sofa (so long to the best sofa for naps ever!).  I had dark wood in the room: the one end table and the coffee table (both Pottery Barn) were deep brown and the CD cabinet (Pier 1) was red print.  The lamps were mismatched (which I thought were kind of shabby chic, but now that I look, they were just kind of sad).  The print over the sofa was from my law school days, as were the two Pottery Barn candle sconces flanking the print.  I also had plain tab-top white cotton panels on the windows. (please excuse the lounging toddler on the couch)

After: I mean ... can you believe it?  I ditched the curtain panels and cannot believe what a difference that made alone.  So much brighter and cleaner in the room.  I took down the stuff on the wall and added a wall of family pictures (note: I'll post a how-to on creating your own family picture wall soon - it's so easy).  I sold the Pottery Barn coffee table on Craigslist, as it was taking up too much room, and moved my trunk (formerly next to the armoire) as the coffee table.  I painted the end table and CD cabinet cream.  I bought new matching silver lamps that are smaller in scale.  (again: please excuse formerly sleeping toddler's toy on couch)

Before: This corner was so not functional before.  We had a chair here, but no one, except for the cat, hung out there.  I had a mishmash of frames on the wall and random accessories.  Plus, the door was right there, so it would hit the chair if opened too far. Not exactly ideal ... especially if someone was actually sitting in it.

After: The formerly unused corner became our office!  I used the Christmas money from my grandmothers and splurged on this awesome, compact secretary from Ballard Designs. The secretary has our computers (we have two laptops), our bills & checkbook stuff, business stuff and the bottom drawer is a filing cabinet.  Perfect.  Where's the printer you ask? Oh, on top in the "printer cozy" I fashioned out of a basket.  I have a wireless printer, so when I need to print, I just lift off the basket, turn it on, load with paper and print.  I bought the dandelion print from Pier 1 for about $30.  The baskets on the floor are from Home Goods (the larger one) and Crate & Barrel (the smaller) and add some texture to the area (and also hold the kids' puzzles!).   The cool vase is a steal from Ross, and I have since painted the small square metal frame white and added a tall narrow vase from IKEA.

Before: Again, wasted space.  This desk area is almost a textbook example of what not to do.  Nothing worked here.  We never, ever sat at that desk.  It served as a place to drop our bags and mail.  And it took up a ton of space.  The little mirror above the desk was functional (it had hooks to hold our keys), but way too small and pathetic looking.

After: Since our coat closet is all the way across the living room, I turned this area into a pseudo-entryway.  I bought this shelf & bench from JC Penney (sadly, I do not see it there anymore).  I changed out the hooks (bought some larger oil-rubbed bronze numbers from Target) and recovered the cushions with the same fabric as I used on the back of the bookshelf.  I added two small hooks on the side to hold our keys, too.  During the week, we use this as our coat hanging area.  The kids keep their jackets, hats, gloves in the baskets underneath.  We keep scarves and gloves in the baskets on top, and in the summer, I store sunscreen up there.  When we have company over, I just move the "stuff" into the coat closet and the bench is freed up to seat more guests.

And that does it!  I have to say, the room feels so much larger and is so much more functional than it was before.  I absolutely love it.  Let us know if you would like a little (or a lot!) decorating or organizing advice.  We will tonto jump on it.

See you swoon,

{note: none of the above-referenced sites and companies have sponsored or comped us for mentioning them}

Signature Wedding Details: CANDY BUFFETS!!!!

I would like to make this perfectly clear, I am in love with candy(I hope my mom is not reading this, otherwise I am going to get an earful about my cavities as a child). By now I am sure most of you have had the pleasure of attending an event that had one of these amazing buffets or at least heard about them and are just waiting for the day you get to experience this for yourself! I could go on and on about how much your guests will love them, and how they will take you back to your childhood as you circle the table and fill your container or containers with lots of treats that will last for a week!

Amy Atlas is an event planner that I absolutely love. She makes candy& dessert tables that are to die for, they are seriously a work of art...almost too pretty to eat.  I highly recommend checking out her website and blog, I guaranty you will start to drool.     

Candy buffets are a great way to express your style by using candy color themes and dressing up the table with beautiful containers wrapped in gorgeous labels with attractive fonts.  Have fun with this, a candy buffet will be the greatest favor you ever give (OK well that may be stretching it a little but you will love it, I promise).

Honestly?  Does life get any better than this?  So what do you think, are you over the candy and dessert buffet craze or do you still love them?

See you swoon,