{silver belle}

Surrounded by tinsel and songs of silver bells, it’s only natural to think of donning shimmery things for the holidays.  Can you ever go wrong with silver sequins? So often saved for the night, I prefer to toss a little sparkle on for the day, when the light can really play and dazzle.

1. giuda finds lulu, 2. stockholm streetstyle via lace & tea 3. dress, design, decor

{the beauty you can’t see: the most striking form of all}

This is a guest post by Ashley Ambirge, author of the famous Middle Finger Project and beautiful life expert. {Yes that’s her in the picture below.} I invited her to post on my blog to share her vision of living beautifully in hopes that her words will inspire you to live a life that you feel is beautiful. In light of her new book and the approaching new year, I believe this is perfect timing. You can visit Ash’s blog for more worl-rocking, soul-shakingly good inspiration and check out her new book here.

Typically, when we think of beauty we imagine the red-lipped woman who confidently struts down a New York sidewalk in her best heels, her long brown hair swaying back and forth behind her, along with all of the men she leaves speechless along her path.

Typically, when we think of beauty we imagine bold, breathtaking artwork that speaks to our souls in just the right way, that we just know we have got to have it.

Typically, when we think of beauty we imagine a vivid blue sky & a garden of bright orange tulips that run for miles beneath it.

Typically, when we think of beauty, we think of sexy aesthetics.

But there’s another kind of beauty—one that we often overlook because it isn’t tangible beauty, but rather, is a beauty that comes in the form of peace, of soul and of validating self-love.

It’s the beauty of living up to your potential.

So often, as we rush around in this life, trying to meet everyone’s demands, the days start to turn into weeks, the weeks into months, the months into years, and before we know it, we’ve woken up one day to wonder, “My goodness, where did the time go?”

It’s rare that we take a time out & ask ourselves hard, but valuable questions such as whether or not we actually are living up to our potential, or whether we’re just lettting life pass us by, and hanging on as tight as we can in the meanwhile.

But we should be asking ourselves these questions, because it’s only by asking the question that we can ever arrive at an answer.

And if the answer is no—that we aren’t living up to our own potential—then we’ve got to make some changes, and fast, because the beauty that lies behind our own potential is so well worth it, in every sense.

Because when we aren’t, we’re bound to experience prolonged feelings of anxiety, angst and disappointment—sometimes without ever knowing why.

And there’s nothing beautiful about that.

For me, I’ve been fortunate to have found my potential through creative entrepreneurialism—I write, I blog, I connect, and I make my living by doing so.

For years, I worked in corporate America, disillusioned with every single moment of it. I remember sitting at my desk at my very first job, looking out the window and thinking, “Is this it? Is this what I’ve worked my entire life for? This?”

But that’s where I thought my potential was. That’s where I had been taught my potential was. That’s where I had been falsely led to believe my potential was—through years of schooling, teachers, parents and the media, all telling me that I could do “be somebody” and do “big things.” Unfortunately, “being somebody” and doing “big things,” to them, meant surrendering myself to the system, working in the name of someone else’s profit, and generally doing what I was told, from now until the day I retire.

Looking back, I should have been insulted that this was all of the potential that anyone ever saw in me. Because to me, knowing what I do now, none of that is much of an accomplishment. That isn’t potential; that’s the equivalent of playing Monopoly everyday. You know the steps you have to take to succeed, and you take them without ever really thinking about it. At best, it’s a simulation.

I needed more from life.

I needed more from me.

I needed to start tapping into my own potential

if I ever hoped to do anything meaningful.

And as I started experimenting with what things made me feel ALIVE—what made my heart beat a little faster, what made me jump out of bed ready to throw punches at the world, and what made me proud of myself—I soon realized that writing & blogging & sharing my ideas with the world was that thing.

Admittedly, it took some time before I was able to accept this as a valid career path—as something that I could legitimately turn into a business, and learn to make a living doing what I loved—but once I wholeheartedly made the decision to go forth & give my all to the world, the world didn’t hesitate to reward me for doing so.

Ah, the beauty of potential.

I now look forward to each day, and can’t wait to begin “work.”  I feel as if I truly am working toward my potential, and I feel as if I’ve just barely scraped the tip of the iceberg.

And it feels amazing.

This feeling is hard to describe—it’s a mix of passion, of pride, of excitement and of relief—but most of all, the best way to describe it is simply as beautiful.

There’s a powerful, untapped beauty that lies in striving to live up to one’s potential, and while we may not be able to see it, like we can a mysterious red-lipped woman, a piece of artwork or a field of orange tulips, that doesn’t matter because one thing is for sure: We can FEEL it.

And at the end of the day, that’s really what beauty comes down to in its most basic form, doesn’t it?

{diy glittering doily garland}

Crafting up some tissue paper snowflakes recently with the little one and decided to play with making a garland out of doilys. I dusted them up with glitter and ended up liking the homespun quality of them quite a bit. Instructions below.

Glittering Doily Letter Garland

2 packs of paper doilys
x-acto knife
pearlescent paint
elmers glue
sponge brush
fine crystal glitter {martha stewart makes lovely glitters}
felt tip or calligraphy pen
string, ribbon, or fish line

+ Using calligraphy pen {or a pencil for more elaborate designs}, write your message out on the doilies.

+ Place the doily on work surface {a few layers of cardboard works if you don’t have one} and carefully trace the letter with the x-acto knife, being sure to leave a tiny strip to hold the solid centers on letters like O, R, Q, P, D, or B.

+ Mix equal parts elmers glue and pearlescent paint in a dish.

+ Lightly coat doily with paint mixture. You may want to do this to both sides, since it makes the garland more durable.

+ Cover entire surface with glitter and sift back and forth to shake off excess.

+ Once dry, place letters under heavy flat object.

+ String them up and enjoy!

{other holiday diy projects}
+tinsel tutorial
+doily snowflake tutorial

{giveaway: encyclopedia of the exquisite}

Not quite winter here yet, but the holiday season is here with scarlet and crimson abound. Poinsettias are popping up and deep maroon velvet ribbons woven into trees, soon to be tying up Christmas gifts. Meanwhile, I’m dreaming of a red Christmas with an exquisite red gown or a perfectly painted red lip.

encyclopedia of the exquisite

And, speaking of exquisite…

I present to you the first of the holiday giveaways. The lovely folks at Random House have decided to give one of you lovely readers a copy of The Encyclopedia of the Exquisite to keep for yourself or to gift this holiday season. {And, there might be a litle something extra…} Instead of random selection, we’ve decided to have some fun with this one.

To enter:

Come up with your own exquisite encyclopedic entry and list it in the comments section. I’ll pick a few favorites and feature them in a post. The best entry wins!

The contest closes December 07, 2010. Winner will be announced shortly thereafter. Bonne Chance!

1. marion cotillard by ellen von unwerth, 2. raquel zimmerman for vogue brazil 3. & 4. courtesy of random house


Enchanted by these glorious examples of ornamentation and wishing it was more common practice today. Modern day design focuses so much on function and can be beautiful in its own right, but there is something to be said about adding beautiful details for the sake of making something beautiful with no other purpose.
1. versailles by pearled, 2. barcelona facade from here