Thursday, March 28, 2013

Things that make me happy: March chic list

Normally, at this point I would tell you that the thing that makes me the happiest is the spring: the arrival of warmer days, trees blossoming in the soft breeze, the opportunity to pull all my favorite spring skirts and heels out of my closet. But since all I can see while looking out the window right now is snow and more snow, I have to focus on other things currently making me happy. And despite the fact this month was tainted by my ongoing lawsuit, there were very many things that made my life more beautiful in March. The fact that I'm leaving for a long weekend in spa being the best of them. I'm leaving my laptop at home and I'm beyond ecstatic at the prospect of doing nothing more than swimming in the pool, getting massages, taking long walks, reading great books and drinking vino for the upcoming 5 days. I'll be back on Tuesday morning, and I'm wishing you all a fantastic Easter and a lovely long weekend!

Eating: Homemade sushi. For some unknown reasons I always thought that making sushi would be something challenging and difficult to learn. Then I learned that the opposite was true. Thanks to my fantastic friend H, I mastered the technique in no time, and now I'm making salmon and avocado makis practically three times a week. Definitely one of the best things that ever happened to me!

Buying: Essie Spring 2013 collection. I know I already have more nail polish bottles that I'd ever be able to use completely, but every time Essie come up with a new collection, I am helpless. This spring collection, inspired by some of the most fashionable and stylish world cities (Paris? Check. London? Check. New York? Check.) is probably my most favorite one of all times. I have Madison Ave-hue on my fingers and toes as we speak. 'Nuff said.

Dreaming of Longchamp LM Cuir in Pink. I need this bag. Like, immediately! I explained it here.

Pampering myself with: Dior, YSL and Lancôme beauty products. There can never be too many pink things in my life, that's for sure. And I could never say no to a perfect pink nail polish (Dior Rosy Bow, Lancôme Rose Macaron) or a gorgeous pink lipstick (YSL Rouge Pur in Le Fuchsia). I'm in love.

Coveting: Paul & Joe Pearl primer. I first discovered this beautiful thing on Alix's blog, and I've been obsessing over it for weeks. The lack of sleep is one of my biggest beauty sins, that's why I'm always on the lookout for the perfect primer that would give my skin that I-look-fabulous-even-if-I-slept-only 5-hours-last-night glow. I am really excited to try this one!

Doing: Reading legal stuff concerning my upcoming business adventure. Admittedly, this is not the funniest thing to do in my free time, but it's oh-so-necessary. I've been pondering going freelance and launching my own business for quite some time, and if I do it, I definitely want to do it right. And if that means crunching paragraphs and paragraphs of business law, then be it.

Watching: White Collar. Confession time: I am utterly, completely and unapologetically obsessed with this show. I can't believe I discovered it this late, and I have my dear friend Rowena to thank for introducing me to this New York based story. In just three weeks, I made it to Season 4, episode 8 (I told you, I'm obsessed), and I have a very age-inappropriate crush not only on Matt Bomer (undoubtedly the most handsome man ever). I really hope they do at least 20 new seasons!

Loving: My new specs and Dior Skin Perfect cream. I am very picky when it comes to buying new glasses, but when my optician called me to tell me there was 50% off on frames and glasses, I couldn't resist. And since I made such a great deal, I could use my saved pennies to buy my favorite Dior moisturizer to prep my skin for the upcoming warmer days. I love spoiling myself!

Wearing: H&M pink blazer. This piece has the most beautiful and vibrant pink hue I've ever seen, and it's been on constant rotation ever since I brought it home from the store. I love it's versatility: it looks equally fabulous with jeans and a t-shirt as it does with a pencil skirt and knee-high boots. Right now, it's my favorite item in my closet.

Drinking: Pinot Grigio, while trying to summon the spring weather by the sheer force of my will.

Reading: Decision Points by George Bush. Having majored in political science and international relations, I can never pass up a great political memoir. And while I'm not a fan of the man himself (or, more accurately, some of his political choices), it's fascinating to get a peek inside his thinking, his convictions and the reasoning behind his decisions. A fantastic read.

Listening to: Practically every song in my iTunes, trying to put together the list of my favorite songs. I've already rediscovered some long lost gems!

Now tell me, which things rocked your world in March? I'm looking forward to reading your answers!

Once again, have a lovely Easter, and see you on Tuesday!

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Real talk: Longchamp totes & the illusion of perfection

Images via Longchamp

First of all, I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who reached out to me with kind words, support and encouragement after reading my last post. I feel very blessed and thankful for every single one of you. My life is definitely richer for having such great friends, and you most certainly make those long blogging hours worthwhile.

Truth be told, I was a little bit weary before hitting the Publish button on Friday morning. It's never easy to share this kind of hardships. But I feel that blogging should not only be about pretty pictures and optimistic words, and it should definitely not gloss over the life lessons that are far from being enjoyable. I don't know if this is true for you, too, but so very often I get the impression that other bloggers' lives are picture perfect: closets full of designer clothes, doting boyfriends or husbands, stylish homes, overflowing bank accounts and supportive families. Sometimes it can make me wonder whether there's something wrong with me if I'm not having it all, right here, right now. It takes time to realize that no one's life is perfect, they just leave the bad stuff out.

Of course, not even I am going to share my morning bed head, no makeup selfie, or the mess that's currently my apartment or a completely messed up recipe. I want to inspire you to make your life more beautiful and enjoyable, and seek out beauty in little everyday things and situations. But when it comes to difficult life lessons like break ups, unemployment and legal issues, I will always be honest. I don't want my readers to feel bad about themselves because they don't lead the seemingly perfect "blogger's life" (whatever that is). And I thank you fro accepting me as I am, flaws and all.

So, now that I'm done with confessions, let's dive into the colorful and fabulous world of Longchamp. It's not often that I go completely nuts over a magazine ad. Which is exactly what happened with the latest Longchamp campaign for LM Cuir tote. I stumbled upon the above picture in the March issue of InStyle, and I couldn't stop thinking about it ever since.
Longchamp is one of those mythic French brands that are both chic and relatively affordable (as in 400€ for a bag, not 4000€ like the Birkin), and which sell not only a piece of maroquinerie, but a story and a certain je ne sais quoi as well.

Their latest design is the perfect everyday tote for anyone who has a tendency to carry around half her apartment (or am I the only one to do that?). LM Cuir comes in a selection of 16 colors (yes, 16!) which makes it incredibly difficult to pick just one favorite. I'm thinking about buying one as a gift for my 27th birthday, so I still have a few weeks to obsess over the perfect hue. I'm currently leaning towards the perfect neutral Honey or a more stand out Pink or Vermilion. Of course, if I could, I would take them all, but let's be realistic here, shall we? Once again, I'm asking for your input: I would love to know which color you would pick for yourself!

See all these dazzling and pretty rainbow colors? Stunning!

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Real talk: A few words on trials and blessings

First of all, I am sorry for going MIA on you this week. But I had a major reason. You know what they say about the skeletons in your closet: they always come out when you least expect it. That's what's happening to me at this moment. If you read my blog regularly, you know that I had to cancel my wedding last year. It was 8 months ago, so you would have expected that I'm already over the entire experience. Well, unfortunately, that's not exactly true. While cancelling all the wedding arrangements, I got into conflict with one of our contractors, who basically stole my money and refused to give it back. After many futile efforts to find an amiable solution, I was finally forced to file for a lawsuit. And yesterday, I experienced my very first court hearing. This is the thing that's been capturing all my attention for these past few days. And while it wasn't an altogether pleasant experience (cue contracted stomach and a strong impulse to throw up), I'm trying to keep up with my efforts to turn even the worst bumps on the road into something positive. I'm proud, because I was able to stand up for myself even when being bullied and intimidated. I overcame my fear of public speaking and I didn't cave in to the attacks of the contractor's lawyer (who obviously thought that a few chosen strikes would reduce me to silence, maybe even tears). Oh, and I didn't puke on the judge, so that's one huge accomplishment to add to the list!

My problems are not over just yet (I have the second hearing coming up in 3 weeks), but I'm being cautiously optimistic and crossing my fingers for a positive outcome. 

And the morale of this story? If you are planning your wedding right now (or might be planning it in the near future), be careful who you are working with. Get all the details of the contract on the paper. Make sure you know what the cancellation conditions and fees are. Have witnesses. And most of all, don't think that something like this can never happen to you. Because it can. Please, learn from my mistakes. You'll thank me later.  

Oh, and since I'd like to end this post on a positive note, I wish you all a wonderful weekend, stress-free, lawsuit-free, filled with lots of sunshine (or the least snow possible) and happiness! Thank you so much for sticking with me!

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Etsy finds: Thank you cards

Honizukle Thank you cards, $30 set of 12

I love stationery. And I love snail mail. Always have, always will. In this era of texts, emails, whatsapps and other instant messages, there is nothing that makes me happier than receiving a beautiful, handwritten note with a few well chosen words. And I equally love to make someone's day brighter with a lovely card. Birthday, Christmas and other holiday cards are a no brainer, but I've recently realized that I was severely lacking in the "Thank you" cards department. There are so many people and things in my life that I am thankful for, thus it only feels appropriate to acknowledge this fact with a piece of glamorous stationery.

Of course, when it comes to beautiful, unique and affordable stationery, Etsy is my goldmine. There are countless drool-worthy options, original designs and endless possibilities for custom orders. And that's exactly what I love. And as much as I'd love to have a signature stationery one day, right now I'm probably going to order some of these pieces (for sampling purposes, bien sûr) and maybe I'll be able to determine and narrow it down to my favorite one (insert doubtful face here). Will you help me? Which one do you like best? Which one would you purchase in a blink of an eye? I'm curious to know!

4. Designkandy Thank you cards, $12.95 set of 8

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Monday, March 18, 2013

My style: Spring colorblocking

Dress & belt: Dorothy Perkins, Blazer: H&M (similar here), Boots: CCC, Clutch: H&M (similar here), Necklace: Etsy, Rings: Forever 21, Sunglasses: Asos

So it seems that I was overly optimistic with my spring cleaning. Just when I put away all my winter sweaters, turtlenecks and boots, we got hit by a huge snow storm (enter 3 meters high snow heaps here). Obviously, these photos were snapped before the storm hit.
But seeing these pictures now is quite funny for another reason, too. I would never have believed that I would be the one to embrace colorblocking this wholeheartedly. My high school years were all about casual outfits, my college wardrobe was all about black and grey, and I used to shy away from bright colors (for no apparent reason). Nowadays, I've been having so much fun playing around with pinks, blues and yellows that I can't even fathom the possibility of going back to black. My rules for successful colorblocking are simple: I only stick to two bright colors, even when it comes to accessories and I alternate them to create a visually interesting ensemble. Neutral accents in black, beige or brown are always a safe bet, if you don't want to resemble a rainbow (or a parrot). 
Have you embraced colorblocking trend? What is your approach when it comes to pairing bright colors? Let me know in the comments! 

Shop the look

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

From my kitchen: Mozzarella sticks & Marinara sauce

Ladies, now that we are hopefully over those post-Christmas nonsenses like diets, cleanses (or whatever you want to call that low-caloric torture), it's time to get serious again about great food! Today, I have one easy, delicious and rather addictive recipe for you (I made it 3 times in 5 days, I think that explains it best).

I love random strikes of inspiration, and that's exactly what happened with these scrumptious appetizers. Really, simply stumbling upon a random mention (not even a recipe!) of mozzarella sticks on The Everygirl was enough to get me intrigued. It took me exactly 2 minutes to google this Giada de Laurentiis recipe and already I was running out the door to the grocery store to pick up some mozzarella and Parmesan (yes, I can get this enthusiast over a random recipe. Don't judge.). At the same time, I remembered this Clara's Marinara sauce recipe, and I knew that these two would be match made in heaven. And I was right.

The preparation is a little bit messy (you have to literally get your hands dirty, dipping mozza sticks in eggs and breadcrumbs), but so worth it! In fact, the hardest part was waiting two hours for the sticks to freeze! And of course, they disappeared faster than I care to admit (but of course, I wasn't devouring them all by myself). Be sure to give this savory treat a try asap. You'll thank me later.

Mozzarella sticks 

You'll need:

* approximately 200g dried breadcrumbs (start with 1/2 cup, and add more progressively as you go)
* 150g freshly grated Parmesan
* 1 tsp salt
* 4 large eggs, beaten to blend
* 500g (I used two 250g blocks) pasteurized mozzarella, cut into sticks
* vegetable oil

1. Stir the bread crumbs, Parmesan and salt to blend.
2. Dip the mozzarella sticks in the eggs, allow the excess egg to drip back into the bow and coat the sticks in the bread crumb mixture. Coat completely,
3. Place the sticks on a tray.
4. When you have all the sticks covered, repeat the whole process a second time.
5. Cover and freeze, about 2 hours and up to 2 days.
6. Heat the oil in a deep fryer (or in a large frying pan). Working in batches, fry the mozzarella sticks until golden, about 2-3 minutes.
7. Transfer to plates and serve immediately.

Cheesy Marinara sauce
adapted from Channeling Contessa

 You'll need:

*  1 can diced tomatoes
* 1 onion, diced
* 2 large garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 tsp dried basil leaves, crumbled
* 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. In a medium sized saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil over low heat for 10 minutes.
2. Stir in garlic, and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
3. Add in the tomatoes, salt and basil and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from the heat and blend the sauce with the help of immersion blender, until mostly smooth, Fold in the grated cheese.

Bon appétit!

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Inspired by: Chic coffee table books

I've only just realized that my birthday is quickly approaching (less than 2 months to go) and it's time for me to choose my gifts. Great books (especially those beautiful coffee table volumes) are on top of my favorite gift list (a piece of jewelry wouldn't hurt either, but let's be realistic here, okay?), that's why I've decided to round up some gorgeous options I would love to call mine. This is not only my way to drop a subtle hint to my beloved ones, but also an inspiration for you, if you are on the lookout for a perfect gift for every stylish bookworm around you. 

1. Kate Spade: Things we love. If there is one brand that doesn't take itself too seriously and which believes that fashion should be fun, it's Kate Spade New York. For someone who loves flirty, feminine, colorful and chic fashion as much as I do, Kate Spade is the ultimate icon. Getting a peek behind the curtains and discovering what inspires their creative minds would be such a treat! Bold colors, dainty bows, statement jewelry and even easy and playful style tips, this book has it all. I've already reserved a very special spot on my coffee table for this gem, if only it would hurry up and arrive!

2. Paris by Hollywood. I love movies. I'm obsessed with books. And I adore Paris. And there is no other book that brings together these three passions of mine together in such a glamorous way. The American in Paris, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Sabrina or Midnight in all these movies (and in so many more), Paris was one of the principal characters, transforming from romantic to dangerous, from colorful to depressing, from playful to enigmatic. This book, full of exclusive interviews and unique photos explores 100 years of Tinseltown's relationship with Paris and it is a promise of great reading and beautiful visuals all in one neat little package. 

3. Edmonde Charles-Roux: The world of Coco Chanel, Friends, Fashion, Fame. Of all the authors who once attempted to retell the mysterious story of Coco Chanel, I think that Edmonde Charles-Roux was the only one (except maybe for Axel Madsen) who could successfully sift through the myths, half-truths and downright lies that Mademoiselle had spread around for all her life. Unhappy childhood, dramatic love life, friendships with the most notable artists of her time, and a lifelong of hard work and dedication, this book covers it all, and then some. Throw some 600 photos and illustrations in the mix, and you have the most beautiful and comprehensive coffee table book about Coco Chanel there is.

4. Hamish Bowles: Yves Saint Laurent, Style. With the catastrophe that's Hedi Slimane's latest collection for Saint Laurent, I've found myself going back to the life and work of the one and only YSL who, not unlikely Coco Chanel, influenced and transformed modern fashion in so many ways. Whether it's le smoking, safari jacket or a peasant blouse, Saint Laurent left us a fashion legacy that Slimane, with his skinny black pants and grunge plaids could never surpass. This book is the tribute to Yves Saint Laurent and his talent (plus, I'm sure that this bright pink book would look fantastic on even the most subdued of coffee tables!)

5. Breakfast at Tiffany's The official 50th anniversary companion. Every truly chic and classy girl out there must have seen this movie at least 5 times. This was the movie that turned Audrey Hepburn into a style icon, that placed Hubert de Givenchy in fashion spotlight, and this is the book that documents it all. Behind-the-scenes photos, facsimiles and even the shooting script, this book has everything to make an Audrey Hepburn lover's heart skip a beat. It's a keepsake tribute to one of the most glamorous movies that ever took place in New York City and it's a book that I'll surely be asking for for my upcoming birthday.

6. Robert Doisneau: Paris. My love for Robert Doisneau's photographs of Paris was born even before I set my feet on French soil for the first time. To me, black and white photographs are the most powerful: there is nothing (neither color, nor special effects) to distract you from the beauty of the scene and the depth of the captured story. And Doisneau was undoubtedly master in this domain. His photographs are supremely poetic, capturing not only the monuments that define the City of Lights, but also the Parisians who make Paris alive, and he captures them with love and tenderness. Doisneau's quotes about Paris (preferably in French) are just the perfect touch to make this book an incontournable for anyone who loves this beautiful city (and the whole country, for that matter) as much as I do.

Now tell me, what coffee table books are on your wish list right now?

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My style: Marchin on...

Dorothy Perkins coat (similar here), CCC boots (similar here), Dorothy Perkins clutch (similar here), Dorothy Perkins skirt (similar here), Eric Bompard cashmere beret (similar here), Peerless Charm earrings, Forever 21 ring, Six bow ring, Chanel Le Vernis in Tentation and Distraction

And I'm back! After a short (and very beneficial!) break I'm back in full swing, with ideas and projects perfectly lined up. First of all, a huge thanks goes out to every single one of you that took time to comment on my last post. Your words made me really happy, and they were just the perfect dose of inspiration and motivation I needed. I've taken every single one of your comments in consideration, and you can look forward to many delicious recipes, fun diy projects and stylish outfits to come. So let's kick the new week off in style!

When looking at these photos I really hope that this is the last winter outfit I'm posting this season. I was trying to summon the spring by spending half my Saturday cleaning out my closet (we'll see if it works). Away with the warm sweaters, in with the brightly colored billowy blouses. I've rediscovered quite a few hidden gems that I can't wait to revisit, but first, let's just get over with this last winter photoshoot.

I have really taken my time embracing the military trend. Since I'm not the one to jump blindly on every trend bandwagon that appears on the runway, you're not likely to see me in a camo print anytime soon. But a sharp military trench, that's a completely different story. This fun twist on the classic black coat is the perfect compromise between the Park Avenue uptight and trendy. It's classy, chic and extremely versatile with just the right touch of contemporary to make everyone around you aware that you know your fashion ABCs by heart. This coat will take you seamlessly from the coldest of winters to the first rays of spring sunshine. And it doesn't even have to cost you an arm: I snagged mine on sale at Dorothy Perkins and I couldn't be happier with my choice! It has only one little flaw: since it has a flared bottom, it tends to get in the way

Now tell me, have you embraced your inner Sgt. Pepper? Did you experiment with camo print? How far are you willing to go when it comes to trying new trends?

Shop the look

10. Chanel Le vernis in Tentation and Distraction

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Please, help make Macarons and Pearls a better place!

Hello, my lovelies. I'm staring off this new week with an inspiring quote and an apology: I've had a lot on my plate lately, and I feel like I need some time to cope and to think things through. I'm going to take a week off from blogging, hoping that you'll forgive me my absence and that I'll see you back here next Monday! 

In the mean time, I would love to ask for your help. Lately I've been thinking a lot about the direction I want to give this blog in the upcoming weeks and months, and I would love to get your feedback!

You are the ones who made Macarons and Pearls grow over years, and you continue to inspire me daily to get better and to learn new things. Your input, comments and opinions are extremely important to me, and I'd love to hear your honest insight into how to make Macarons and Pearls a better, more inspiring and more agreeable place for you to visit. Please, leave me your answers in the comments, or shoot me an email, or connect with me on Facebook. I'm looking forward to reading your opinions!

1. Which kind of posts do you like best on Macarons and Pearls?

2. What do you think is missing from this blog? Would you like to see more outfit posts, celebrity style, beauty tutorials, recipes or home decor?  

3. Do you feel like you can relate and be inspired by the content of this blog?

Thank you so much for taking time to help me make this blog a more fabulous and inspiring place! I'm looking forward to reading your answers!

Have a lovely and successful week!

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