Monday, December 31, 2012

Real talk: Lessons I learned in 2012

 To say that 2012 was an eventful year would be a serious understatement. It was the year in which my whole life was shaken and turned upside down. Twice I changed the country in which I was living. I went from being engaged to happily single. I could really appreciate my family and my true friends who stood by me when I needed them most. And I truly learned a lot about myself. It may have been tough, even excruciating sometimes, but I'm grateful for everything that made me grow and move forwards, not backwards, this past year. If I should only name a few, these were the biggest life lessons that 2012 taught me:

1. I was made for working.  

I know I've been complaining about my busy schedule quite a lot these past few weeks. The end of year was really intense in terms of workload (last minute projects are everyone's fave, aren't they?). But the truth is, that at the end of the day, I wouldn't have it any other way. I was born to be busy and always in action. Inactivity kills me more than the full agenda. I will always choose lack of sleep over too much of free time.

I experienced a few months of "joblessness" this year, and honestly, it was the most miserable time of my life. And I never ever want to go back to such a situation. I imperatively need to give a purpose to every single day of my life. That's why I'm ready to seize every idea that crosses my mind and embark on any project that comes my way. Being open to new opportunities will be my motto for 2013, and I'm already working on something that brings a lot of joy and excitement to my life, and I really hope I'll be able to share it with you soon!I'm so excited for 2013, because I've decided to dedicate this year to me, my dreams, my passions, and I have a feeling that it's going to be a good one!

2. Sacrificing myself and my ambitions for love was a very bad idea.  

The reasons to break up my engagement this past summer tightly evolved around the things I mentioned above. I've never thought of myself as of someone who would be able to one day leave everything behind for love. My life's ambition has always been to become a strong and independent woman, responsible for her own choices. Yet somehow, I drew the short straw. 

When my (then) fiancé asked me to move to Austria with him, I hesitated. I wasn't sure about starting a new life in a country whose language I didn't speak, without any tangible perspective of finding a job. I didn't really want to do it, and yet I did. I foolishly believed that one day he'd be able to do the same thing for me. You're guessing right: he wasn't. In the end, he was interested only in pursuing his own plans, without taking my opinion into account.

It was a difficult thing to live through. But it has taught me one huge life lesson: I will never ever let myself lose self respect again. I've spent too much time trying to comply with other people's dreams. Now's the time to work full time on fulfilling my own. 

3. Whatever happens, my family will always be my safety net.  

My family has been through its fair share of rough times and things haven't always been ideal. But the moment I needed them most, my mom, dad and older brother were right there for me. It's partly thanks to them that I didn't have any major post break-up meltdown. Working round the clock in my father's company and goofing around with my brother, I simply didn't have a spare minute to wallow in sadness and regrets. 

Which leads me to the lesson n. 4. Pity and regrets don't make me move forward and grow. Dreams do.

After the end of my 4,5-year long relationship, I could have spent a few weeks crying in my bed, watching rom-coms (or worse, crap TV) while sipping on cheap wine, calling my friends to ask all those "whys" (why me? why us? why now?). Nobody would have held that against me. 

However, I made a conscious effort to act differently. I may have lost my relationship, but I didn't want to lose my dignity. Instead of focusing on one closed door, I turned to all the possibilities that suddenly opened up for me. I am finally able to dream for myself, not for anybody else. If I decide to move back to Paris tomorrow (or even to New York, for that matter), I can. Suddenly it's all about and up to me, and this freedom is intoxicating.

But, please, don't get me wrong. I haven't become one of those sour, frustrated single ladies who can't even stand a male in their vicinity. Quite the contrary. I'm still a hopeless romantic who cries when watching Love Actually (yes, even the 20th time). I still believe in love. The big one. But I'm a lot wiser now. I know I deserve someone amazing, who will love me as I am, who will encourage me to follow my dreams and passions, who won't feel threatened by my ambitions, who will sweep me off my feet and whom I'll be able to admire. And of course, someone who will love Paris at least as much as I do. I know I may be asking a lot, but I think I finally know what I stand for and what I deserve. And I'm still too young to settle for anything less than perfect.  

Parce que je le vaux bien!

I would love to know, has 2012 taught you any important life lessons? What new knowledge are you taking with you to the new year? 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Things that make me happy: December chic list

And I'm back! After enjoying a blissful (and very much needed) break from the online world (no blogging! no Facebook! no Twitter! seriously, it happened!), I'm returning to blogosphere with clean head, tons of energy (must be all those mom's Christmas cookies!) and lots of inspiration.
But before we kick off 2013 in style, let's discuss the fact that this is the last Sunday in 2012. Seriously, how did that happen? Anyway, despite the fact that I didn't see it coming, I still managed to remember all the things that made me happy during the last month of 2012, the highlight being my trip to Paris bien sûr! These are the things that made my December an exceptional one:

1. Visiting and Loving: Paris, of course. Just one week before Christmas I spent the most wonderful, enchanting and magical week in Paris, surrounded by amazing people and unique atmosphere. There's truly nothing more wondrous than wandering the streets of City of Lights after dark, with Christmas lights twinkling in the night. I missed Paris the moment I landed back home, and I'm already plotting ways to get back there very soon (summer sales, perhaps?).

2. Buying: The best from Paris. I've been saving up my pennies for Paris for more than 4 months, and the shopping spree that followed was truly epic. Beauty floor of Printemps, macarons at Ladurée, perfume and candles at Diptyque, books at Shakespeare & Co., souvenirs under the Eiffel tower, tea at Mariage Freres, vintage postcards on the banks of name it. The only problem? Packing, of course!

3. Watching: All the Christmas classics, and then some. Love Actually? Check. The Holiday? Check. King's Speech? Check. All the Christmas fairy-tales? Check. I've been watching more TV over Christmas than throughout the entire year and it's been well worth it! After all, a good dose of Christmas romance never hurts!

4. Eating: All sorts of Christmas sweets and delicacies. Due to my travels I somehow missed all the Christmas baking craziness this year, but that didn't prevent me from indulging in my mom's scrumptious concoctions. I still claim that Christmas calories don't count, but I may be adding a lot more cardio training to my January workout.

5. Reading: Grace A Memoir by Grace Coddington. I promised myself to set aside enough time this Christmas to read through the stack of books that's been sitting on my nightstand. This one is my current favorite: I've been thoroughly enjoying Grace's recount of her modeling debuts, her life in swinging London, her time spent in Paris. And I'm so looking forward to learning more about her years at British Vogue, and of course, about her role as a fashion visionary at Vogue US. Talk about an inspiring career!

6. Drinking: Mom's homemade eggnog. This is one Christmas tradition I'll be sure to uphold until the end of the world (whenever that day arrives). Mom's eggnog (with its special recipe that's been running in the family for generations) is the best Christmas drink I've ever tasted!

7. Listening to: Christmas songs. To me, Christmas time officially begins when I first hear Mariah Carey's All I want for Christmas (sans Justin Bieber, please!). Chris Rea's Driving home for Christmas and Band Aid's Do they know it's Christmas will forever be my favorites, too.

8. Dreaming of: Visiting London over Christmas. Blame it on all those enchanting Christmas movies (Love Actually, I'm looking right at you!), but all I can think of these past few days is how wonderful it would be to visit this beautiful city just before Christmas. Seeing all the monuments decked in Christmas lights, wandering on the (hopefully) snow-covered streets, visiting Christmas markets and enjoying some last minute holiday shopping, now that's something that makes me daydream.

9. Wearing: My favorite camel ankle boots. They've been getting more than a fair share of attention this past month, not least because they are my only shoes that keep my feet warm when the temperatures drop below zero. Since I was wearing them while running around Paris, they might soon be paying visit to the cobbler (isn't that the best proof that I love them to pieces?)

Now tell me, what were your December highlights?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

My dear friends, I'd love to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! May you all spend happy and memorable holidays with your loved ones! I'm infinitely grateful for every single one of you who visit this blog regularly: you are all a huge source of inspiration to me, and your support and friendship mean the world to me! Seeing you all following my blog's expansion into 2013 would be the best Christmas gift I could wish for!

I've decided to take a little break from blogging over the Christmas, to enjoy some downtime with my family and friends, and to gather my strenght for all the big plans and projects I have in mind for next year. I'll be back on Sunday (December 30), to share my favorite things from December and all the things I've learned in 2012. Oh and if you were wondering, I'll be sharing all my photos and adventures from Paris in a bunch of January posts (just sayn').

Until then, have a lovely Christmas time, enjoy all the wonderful things this time of year has to offer. May your holidays be filled with joy, happiness, bliss and lots of wonderful memories!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Brunch with an illustrator and a blogger: Debra Lynn Mejia

Ever since I started this blog, I've had the chance to get to know some of the most wonderful and inspiring women in the world. Even if I've never met most of them in person, I still call them my friends, because we share the same passions and obsess over the same things. And since I love sharing the most fabulous things and finds with you, it feels only appropriate to introduce you to these fabulous ladies, while having a virtual Sunday brunch with them (you can find all the previous interviews here).
Etsy is definitely one of the most wonderful and inspiring places I know. I can spend hours scouring different little shops, discovering stylish and affordable gems, and shopping, and shopping...What I love most about this experience (besides the obvious fact that I always find unique and original items) is the fact that I can discover and support little business and savvy entrepreneurs. I have already introduced you to Rowena and her enchanting shop Certain Moments Photography, and today, I'm happy and proud to introduce you Debra Lynn Mejia.

Debra is an incredibly talented illustrator and a fashion dreamer after my own heart. A California girl by adoption, she loves art and good books, and she can't imagine her life without dancing. Spending time with her adorable little daughter is her favorite pastime. And she loves Breakfast at Tiffany's as much as I do and has a weakness for Mad Men and Pan Am TV shows.

Debra has an eye for classy silhouettes and eye-catching and outfit-making accessories. She can share her latest doodles as well as her favorite cocktail recipes on her blog. And these Friendship Blossoms are definitely among my favorite DIY projects ever!

Her Etsy shop is one of my favorites. I first noticed her back in July, and I've been daydreaming about her perfume bottle prints ever since. Last month I finally caved in, and purchased Chanel Coco and YSL Parisienne prints, and I couldn't be happier. They are now proudly sitting on my home office desk, making my evenings spent blogging even more enjoyable.

Let's now discover things that are rocking Debra's world:

My ultimate style icons: I'd have to say my ultimate style icons are Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. I don't think anyone can compare to these two ladies for their classic style. Who I look to in this day and age: Zooey Deschanel for her fun, feminine and quirky style. I also love what costume designer Lyn Paola has done for Kerry Washington's character, Olivia Pope, on the television show Scandal. Using Armani, Valentino and Escada, Lyn Paola has made Olivia Pope's wardrobe the right balance of professional yet feminine style.

My favorite fashion accessory: If I leave the house without earrings on, I don't feel completely dressed.

My favorite magazine: Lucky magazine gets me in trouble. Not only do they show you the hottest fashions, but they also show you exactly where to buy them.

My favorite song: I love anything by a group called Pink Martini.

My favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of my favorite books. I think Jane Austen was a great observer of people. She saw through to the true nature of relationships and captured them so well, that her books still ring true today. On my bookstand right now is The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. I love all her books.

Always in my closet: I always have a leather jacket, skinny jeans and boots in my closet.

My guilty pleasure: Science Fiction. I've read almost all the "Game of Thrones" novels by George R.R. Martin, and I'm eagerly awaiting the new season of Game of Thrones on HBO. My other guilty pleasure is chocolate cake!

My favorite scent: My favorite fragrance is Eau Dynamisante Treatment Fragrance from Clarins. It is made with essential oils of lemon, orange, thyme, lavender and extracts of ginseng and ginger.

My favorite movie scene: I love movies, so it is really difficult to choose just one. There is a dance scene in the 1954 film, Seven brides for seven brothers, that I have always loved. The brothers are out in the snowy woods longing for their girlfriends in town, singing "I'm a lonesome Polecat". There is a fluidity to this dance that is simply breathtaking. Chopping wood never looked so good!
The other movie that came to my mind immediately, when I read this question, was Moonstruck (1987) with Cher, Nicolas Cage and Olympia Dukakis. Whenever this movie is on TV, I just can't turn off the channel. Although I'm not Italian and I don't live in New York, the family dynamics in this film feels very much like my family. And all this family craziness is backed by a soundtrack that ranges from Dean Martin's "That's Amoree", Vicki Carr's "It must me him", to Puccini´s opera "La Boheme".

My favorite blog: I don't get the chance to check out blogs everyday, but when I do, the three I keep tabs on most are Everyday is a Holiday, Happy loves Rosie and Macarons and Pearls (no really! I'm not just saying that because you are interviewing me!). 

My life mantra: I guess it's "Never give up on your dream."

One thing I simply can't live without: Dancing. I'm going a little nuts right now because I'm not in any dance classes. I usually take belly dance, tango and salsa classes. At the moment I can't quite fit them in my schedule. 

The thing I'm most proud of: I would have to say that I am most proud of my 6 year old daughter, Sandra. She's amazing and makes me laugh everyday.

The best blogging advice I've ever received: Post what truly interests you, often. I haven't quite gotten the often part down yet. My blog is definitely a work in progress. 

My style in 3 words: Classic and comfortable with a vintage twist.

Now onto Debra's adorable little Etsy shop:

1. What was the inspiration behind launching your Etsy shop?

I launched my Etsy shop because I was looking for a way to work from home now that my daughter is in school. I used to work as an in-house salaried illustrator and designer for a giftware company, but the hours were not at all flexible.
2. Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations? How long does it take to make one?

I find inspiration in many ways. I look through books, magazines and watch movies. But I find the best way for me to find inspiration is to let my mind wander and make sure I always have access to a notebook to jot down thoughts and doodles as soon as they come to me.
I rarely have a large block of time to work anymore. So I have to take advantage of the time when my daughter is in school. So it might take me a couple of days to paint (and there's a lot of drying time involved since I work in watercolors) and a day or two to scan and clean up / color adjust the painting on the computer.
3. Do you have an artist who is your hero / icon, and whose style you admire and who continues to inspire you?

I am always in awe of the fashion illustration of the 1930's and 1940's like Eric and René Gruau.

4. How would you describe your illustration style in 3 words?

Fashionable, crisp and happy.
5. Is there a piece of your work that's particularly close to your heart? Why so? 

It's funny, I think I hold onto my doodles more than my finished artwork, waiting for a time to use them in a painting. Here's an example of a little fairy doodle that I kept for a long time. 

6. What's next? Do you have any special plans for your shop and your blog? 

I hope to create two new sections for my Etsy shop. So there will be three sections in all: one for fashion, one for children, one for floral / food / home. And I hope to take on more freelance projects. 
For my blog, I am going to put a greater effort into blogging more often.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Paris shopping list

Ever since I moved back to Slovakia, I've been mainly indulging in online shopping (Asos and Dorothy Perkins could testify). I have neither time, nor many opportunities to enjoy long shopping sprees, so you can only imagine how excited I am at the perspective of running around Paris with  my credit card at the ready. I'm spending five days with one of my best friends from the university, with whom I already navigated through more than one epic shopping spree. And rest assured that this time it won't be different: I've been saving up my pennies for months (for as long as I've been putting together my shopping list, in fact).

Diptyque, Ladurée, Nespresso, Fnac... all my best friends live in Paris, and I'm determined to pay each of them a well deserved visit. I have already shared my obsession with beauty products scoured in French pharmacies: Nuxe and Bioderma are just two examples of miracle product that have found their way into my bathroom.

These are the things I'm hoping will be leaving Paris with me next Monday (oh well, I probably won't buy all six candles, but picking just two or three will be so difficult!). And no, they won't be all only for me: there is a bunch of last minute Christmas gifts included as well.

 What would your perfect Parisian shopping list look like? 

1. Diptyque L'Ombre dans l'Eau perfume
2. Diptyque Baies candle
3. Ladurée L'Art de recevoir (The art of entertaining) books
4. Clarins Hydra Quench cream mask
5. Mariage Freres Heritage gourmand Macaron Black Tea
6. Nuxe Huile prodigieuse multi-usage dry oil
7. Ladurée macarons
8. Ladurée Lucky charms Paris candle
9. Bioderma Créaline H2O micelle solution
10. Ladurée Sweet and Savory cookbooks
11. Clarins Lotus face treatment oil
12. Diptyque Jasmin candle
13. Annick Goutal Petite Chérie perfume
14. Ladurée Marie Antoinette tea
15. Mariage Freres Festive black tea
16. Ladurée Orange Blossom candle
17. Ladurée Délice de Ladurée candle
18. Nespresso coffee pods

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paris bound

Finally! When you read this post I'll be on my way to the airport, hoping that the snowy weather wouldn't cause a delay to my flight. I don't think I have to bother you with any more explanations: I think it's really obvious how much I need and am looking forward to this short holiday.
I'm leaving my laptop and iPad behind, but I have a few posts lined up for you, so be sure to check back, especially on Sunday: I have another very special guest for my Brunch with a Blogger feature, you don't want to miss that!

And of course, you can follow my Paris adventures on Twitter and Instagram.(with a hashtag #ivanainparis). See you next week!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Travel: Packed and ready to go

Cable knit sweaters and stripes (it's Paris, after all): H&M and Forever 21

I have a confession to make: I hate packing. And it's very funny, considering that I've spent the past 5 days moving around various European countries. Life's full of paradoxes, isn't it?
The positive thing here is the fact that over those years of constant packing and unpacking I've became quite a pro. Packing lightly is not a problem: I'll never be the girl who jets off somewhere with 20 kilos of luggage (it's my destination shopping sprees that always get me in trouble!). Choosing the right separates that are easy to mix and match is the most important thing, especially when going to Paris in winter. I love to have my options, but I see no point in packing 5 different dresses if I know I'll spend my days running around in my favorite skinny jeans, winter coat and comfortable ankle boots. Fashionable tops and my favorite cable knit sweaters are my favorite staples that will always be stylish and keep me warm.
These are the staples that will travel with me and which will allow me to put together at least 10 different outfits! That should be plenty enough for 5 days, right?

I would love to know: what is your approach to packing: are you a proponent of streamlined suitcase or do you always carry around too many things?

A little bit of sparkle: Orsay and H&M

Fashion tops: Dorothy Perkins and Orsay

Tops & baubles: Orsay, Dorothy Perkins, Forever 21 and Etsy

Accessories (probably too many, but that's one thing I can never resist: they can make an outfit, after all): Asos, Forever 21, Etsy, Peerless Charm, Six

"On the plane outfit": comfort is the key here. I always make sure to avoid all the things that could set of the security scanner: metallic embellishments, earrings, necklaces and rings. A watch that's easy to remove before the control is the only accessory I wear. 

Skinny jeans, basic top, mint sweater, ankle boots and a carry-all.

A few plane essentials: passport, my iPhone, wallet, tissues, lip balm, pressed powder and hand cream, something little to snack on and a good read.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Brunch with a blogger: Julie of Julie Leah, A life and style blog

Ever since I started this blog, I've had the chance to get to know some of the most wonderful and inspiring women in the world. Even if I've never met most of them in person, I still call them my friends, because we share the same passions and obsess over the same things. And since I love sharing the most fabulous things and finds with you, it feels only appropriate to introduce you to these fabulous ladies, while having a virtual Sunday brunch with them (you can find all the previous interviews here). 

"My closet is far too full, my pantry far too empty, but my priorities are in perfect order." Julie Leah

Julie Leah's blog is one of those you visit in order to check the latest post, and half an hour later you're still clicking through her archives, getting your inspiration overdose. Julie describes herself as a girl with an incurable case of wanderlust. She loves pink peonies, red lips, high heels, sparkling jewelry, pretty stationery and expensive bags. She has a fun, colorful and very feminine personal style, dotted with touches of leopard and tons of bauble necklaces. Just as I, Julie enjoys viewing the life through rose-tinted oversized sunnies.
Julie's blog is charming, colorful and bubbly (just as the author herself), full of inspiration in fashion, beauty, home decor and entertaining. She always puts together the most inspiring ensembles, and her Christmas gift guides always put me in a shopping mood (like I needed any excuse, really!)  Julie even writes for the Society Social blog The Social Diary and the Sweet Lemon Magazine blog The Zesty Digest. Believe me when I tell you that this girl is simply fabulous!

These are the things that are rocking Julie's world right now:

My favorite blog: Cupcakes & Cashmere

My favorite fashion accessories: A great pair of shoes or a necklace. Either can make an outfit!

My favorite magazine: Elle

My favorite scent: Oscar de la Renta Live in Love (Favorite for now! It changes with my mood).

My favorite book: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

My style icon: Carrie Bradshaw

My guilty pleasure: Pretty Little Liars

One thing I simply can't live without: My iPhone!

My favorite song: Killing me softly by The Fugees

My favorite movie scene: The opening scene of The Italian Job - so smart and well-done.

Always in my closet: Tights and scarves.

My life mantra: Live the life you love.

Thing I'm most proud of: Following through with graduate school right after I finished my bachelor's. I was so indecisive, impatient, and desperately wanting a break. Looking back, though, it was such a great decision. Thanks, mom and dad!

Best blogging advice I've ever received: Blog for you. Blog because you love it. When it becomes a chore, it's time for a break. Blogging is an extension of you, when it no longer feels that way, reevaluate. Never lose your genuine voice and honesty.

My style in 3 words: Classic, colorful, feminine.

Thank you, Julie, for having this virtual brunch with me!

You can find all my previous blogger interviews here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas gift guide: For a girl who loves to sparkle

To be honest, I thought I was going to skip the gift guides entirely this year. But when I started to do my own Christmas shopping, I quickly changed my mind. I have stumbled upon too many beautiful, stylish and perfect gifts that it would be too selfish not to share. To me, Christmas is synonymous to sparkle, and I had a glitter girl in mind while putting together this list. A glitter girl is not afraid of daytime sparkle, she thinks that sequins are appropriate at any day or night hour, and she enhances her inner spark by twinkling wardrobe and accessories. She is a hostess with the mostess, she has a knack for perfect manicure, she always has at least one DIY project up her sleeve and gold glittery pumps are her equivalent of red slippers. She is bubbly and fun to be around. Do you recognize her? Maybe this is you? What, in your opinion, would be the perfect gift for a girl who loves to sparkle?

2. Michael Kors Crystal topring watch, $104.98
6. The Whimsical Muse envelope seals, $12.75
8. Essie Leading Lady and Beyond Cozy, $8
9. Kate Spade Norella, $328
10. Kate Spade glitter bow belt, $98
11. Tiny Galaxies pink earrings with gold glitter, $21
12. Persian Laundry gold glitter envelope liners, $16
13. Deborah Lippmann Nail Color in Boom Boom Pow and Today was a fairytale, $20
14. Kuhn Rikon glitter paring knife, $9.95
15. The Little Pad glitter wine glass pair, $16
16. London Rebel glitter slipper shoe, $38.70
17. Keep it Close rose gold stardust necklace, $27
18. Design Lab glitter iPhone 4&4S case, $14
20. Kate Spade Belle Boulevard flute pair, $65
21. Ciaté Paint pot in Party shoes and Confetti, $15

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On my nightstand, December 2012

Once again, I seemed to be overly optimistic when putting together my last reading list (In November, I'm reading): 6 books in 4 weeks proved to be very challenging this time of year (I mean, how many yet another last minute urgent issues can arrive on my desk before the December ends?). I had hardly enough time to blog and sleep: needless to say, reading wasn't among the most urgent priorities. However, I still managed to scrape up a 50% success, since I finished 3 out of 6 books. I especially loved Austin Kleon's Steal like an artist, full of little helpful tips on how to boost my creativity.
I really hope December will be kinder to me, and I'm planning to take full advantage of Christmas holidays to catch up on all the books that are sitting patiently on my nightstand. These are the newest additions:

1. David Downie: Paris Paris. After what I wrote here and here, this is pretty self explanatory. I was living in Paris for almost 4 years, yet I would never claim that I know everything about this wonderful city. There are still many gems to uncover, many new streets to saunter, many fun facts to gather and remember. This book was written by a San Franciscan expat who settled down in Paris, a food and travel writer keen on discovering unbeaten paths. He offers insightful essays on Parisian places, people and daily life written in a fun and unique voice. I started reading it yesterday and in just one short essay I learned so much new information!

2. Grace: A memoir. Judging by the Instagram feed, everyone who is anyone in the fashion industry is reading this book, even Grace herself. I've always loved Vogue's unique and thought-provoking fashion editorials. Almost all my favorites were imagined and brought to life by incomparable Grace Coddington. She's always had a very clear and unique vision, drawing inspiration from her English childhood and career as a model. Her editorials always transport me into a world of fashion dreams, full of enchanting gowns, beautiful women and dapper gents. Her work is simply exquisite, and I can't wait to learn something more about the woman behind the magic.

3. Béatrice Peltre: La Tartine gourmande. Yes, I read cookbooks.Call me weird, but it's something I've enjoyed ever since I set my foot in the kitchen for the first time. I'm not interested merely in the lists of ingredients or the step-by-step procedures. I want images, I want stories, I want sneak peeks into the creation of a perfect dish. That's why I'm so delighted by all the wonderful cookbooks written by my fellow bloggers. I've been awaiting anxiously the arrival of The Smitten Kitchen and What Katie ate. In the meantime, I'm finally ready to dive into La Tartine gourmande and experiment some more with French kitchen.

4. Simone Bertière: Les Deux Régentes. I've been enjoying these series more than I can say. Simone Bertière has a very special gift: she can inspire historical figures with a sense of humanity, bringing them to life and making me passionate about history and the place women held in the course of centuries. I'm especially looking forward to this tome, describing lives of Marie de Médicis and Anne d'Autriche, respectively mother and wife of Louis XIII.

Now tell me, which books will you be reading in December? Are you planning to cram some reading time into your Christmas schedules?

Monday, December 3, 2012

My style: Black & mint

Sweater: H&M, Skirt: Brigitte, Boots: Deichmann, Bag: Galeries Lafayette, Necklace, rings and earrings: Forever 21, Bow hair clip: Orsay, Bracelets: Asos

I think I already mentioned here, that a few years back I went through a very intense black period in my dressing. My closet was full of black turtlenecks, black pants, black everything. I think it's understandable that I don't really like seeing photos from that time anymore. For the past few years I've made a conscious effort to eliminate all-black outfits from my wardrobe, only keeping a few of the most classic and timeless pieces. This skirt is one of them. You may remember me wearing it here and here. But whenever I wear black these days, I always pair it with bright colors, soft pastels or at least with other neutrals.

With the dramatic drop in temperatures these past few days, opaque tights are a must, and they always have to be black: I'm firmly convinced that colorful tights only look good on Blair Waldorf, no one else! What is your take on wearing black? Do you wear it often? And what do you think about an all-black outfit?

Side note: I don't usually run around sans coat in December, I just purposefully lost my faithful red coat for this photo shoot. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent wreath, 2012 edition

Creating my own handmade advent wreath has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions (you can see my last year's design here). First of all, I come up with a color theme: this year I opted for various shades of purple, a color that's very sophisticated and always makes a statement. 4 advent candles are indispensable, as well as a little bit of sparkle (after all, I can't imagine Christmas without a touch of glitz and glamour).
I would love to know, what are your advent traditions? Do you have an advent wreath in your home? Do you buy it or make it yourself? Do you light the candles every advent Sunday? And which colors are your favorite?

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