December Wish List

While I enjoy shopping for presents for friends and family, I can’t resist making a wish list for myself…

grownup Christmas list

I adore coffee table books with their lavish pictures and exquisite details, and this book from the Victoria and Albert Museum has me drooling. Even though this December has been rather mild, it’s only a matter of time before the arctic cold sweeps through, so I am hoping for some shearling mittens to keep my fingers toasty. As a former figure skater, I cannot resist anything with a skate on it, especially if it is jewelry. A turntable is on my list because I have records but nothing to play them, and this turntable has a delightful vintage look to it. Rounding out my list is an ingenious makeup brush designed for applying pretty much anything.

What’s on your wish list?

Erin Condren 2015 Life Planner

planners, organization

For the last several months, I’ve been eyeing an Erin Condren Life Planner, so I decided that I would treat myself to one for 2015. It seemed to take forever to arrive, but it was really only a few weeks before I had my new planner in my hands. I definitely have to give them an A+ for customer satisfaction. With my order was included a couple of stickers and a few sheets of gift tags, but the best part was that I received a $10 off and a $15 off coupon.

I chose the classic mermaid cover and decided to just do my first name on the cover despite the other personalization options available. At $50, this planner is a splurge, but it has so many great little details that I think this planner will be worth it.

Watch the video for a look at my planner and some additional thoughts…

The cover is laminated and snaps off, so you can change the cover throughout the year. The tabs are, also, laminated, and I really like the folder and the zip lock pocket in the back. Erin Condren offers a wide selection of planner accessories and office supplies, and I am very tempted to pick up some coil clips, elastic bands, and a pen holder.

organization

Erin Condren has a great referral program, and if you sign up using my referral link, you will save $10 off your first order, and I’ll get a $10 store credit. I love it when everybody wins! 

Do you prefer a paper or a digital planner?

Jane Austen Gift Guide

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a girl in possession of many friends must be in want of a gift guide. Whether you are shopping for bookish friends or splurging on a little something for yourself, today’s gift guide is sure to please Jane Austen lovers of all ages. From playing cards to an iPhone dock, these ten Jane Austen inspired gifts will surprise even the most serious literary lover.

bookish gift ideas

Little Miss Austen: Pride & Prejudice – An adorable book for the young Janeite.

To Sip in the Shade Mug – A cheerful mug is a good way to start the morning.

Novel Tee in Elizabeth – A cute way to show some literary love.

Jane-a-Day: 5 Year Journal – A diary to bring out your inner Jane Austen.

Rich Neeley Designs Pride and Prejudice Booksi Dock iPhone 5 – For the friend who has everything else.

Blush With Destiny Dress – A dress fit for a Regency ball!

Jane Austen’s World – For the lady of musical accomplishment.

In Her Own Hand series boxed set –  A series of facsimile editions of Jane Austen’s fiction in her handwriting.

Jane Austen Playing Cards – Perfect for a game of Whist.

Austen Little Thinker – A doll that Janeites of all ages can appreciate.

Both of Me

Both of Me

It was supposed to be just another flight, another escape into a foreign place where she could forget her past, forget her attachments. Until Clara found herself seated next to an alluring boy named Elias Phinn—a boy who seems to know secrets she has barely been able to admit to herself for years. When her carry-on bag is accidentally switched with Elias’s identical pack, Clara uses the luggage tag to track down her things. At that address she discovers there is not one Elias Phinn, but two: the odd, paranoid, artistic, and often angry Elias she met on the plane, who lives in an imaginary world of his own making called Salem; and the kind, sweet, and soon irresistible Elias who greets her at the door, and who has no recollection of ever meeting Clara at all. As she learns of Elias’s dissociative identity disorder, and finds herself quickly entangled in both of Elias’s lives, Clara makes a decision that could change all of them forever. She is going to find out what the Salem Elias knows about her past, and how, even if it means playing along with his otherworldly quest. And she is going to find a way to keep the gentle Elias she’s beginning to love from ever disappearing again.

BookSparks’ University Fall Reading Challenge continues with Jonathan Friesen’s YA novel, Both of Me. Today’s course is Personality Psychology. I wanted to read this book because of the cover (pretty stars!) and because Elias sounded like a very interesting character. There are so many possibilities when a character has two different personalities. After reading the book, I’m not sure what I think. The story made me sad.

Both of Me is a bizarre tale about a series of coincidences that coincide with the delusions of a crazy boy. But, who is the crazy person? Elias, with his dual personality, or Clara, who follows him? Clara is so filled with guilt she sees her Great Undoing in the sketches of a boy she has just met and is willing to do anything in order to discover what he knows. Elias spends half of his time intent on completing a secret mission in his imaginary world and the rest of his time just trying to hang on to his sanity.  If this was an adult novel, the story could have been deep and powerful, but as a YA book, it merely skims the surface.

I wish Elias’ imaginary world would have been developed more. A big deal is made about characters wanting to spend time in “Salem”, but the place is only an idea not a world that comes to life like Alice’s Wonderland. While Elias talks about Salem, the reader never really goes there. Also, I never understood Clara’s motivation for following Elias. Random sketches? Cute, disturbed guy? While this would normally annoy me, I think Clara’s vague reasons work for her because she is just as confused as the reader. I spent half the book wondering if maybe she was the crazy one…

If you like YA fiction and stories that deal with mental disorders, Both of Me is definitely a book to check out.

You can find out more about Jonathan Friesen on his website or follow him on Twitter.

BookSparks

This book was sent to me for review and is part of the BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge.

Winter Trooper

One of my favorite winter accessories is a hat. which is a must for me because I hate having cold ears. From slouchy beanies to pompom ski caps, I love adding new hats to my collection. Lipton Publicity sent me this Nylon Puff Trooper from Callanan to review, and I’m digging the lumberjack vibe. I almost look like a person who likes winter or at least someone who knows how to dress for it. With fleece lining and faux fur trim, the hat is sure to keep at least one part of me warm. The Nylon Puff Trooper comes in chocolate, red, silver, and black and retails for $30. The hat is one size, but I think it runs a little small as I found the fit a little snug. While this is a women’s hat, this style is popular with the guys, too, as my brother liked this hat so much he commandeered it for himself.

winter hats

Hat: Callanan Nylon Puff Trooper (c/o Lipton Publicity)

Coat: J. Crew Peacoat

Sweater: Gap Women Cable Knit Sweater

Jeans: Levi’s Juniors 524 Skinny Jeans 

Boots: Rag & Bone Classic Newbury Booties (c/o Shopbop)

Bag: Elizabeth and James Cynnie Mini Bucket Bag (c/o Shopbop)

I’m posting this a little late, but here is the video for my November Favorites; however, please note that the Sunday Suppers giveaway is over.

Lipton Publicity sent me the hat to review, but all opinions stated are my own.

Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup

lalam1204

Keep it Clever

by: Jennine Jacob

Do you know the difference between a cocktail dress and a gown? Do you know how a man’s suit should fit? How about what you should buy on vacation (as there are SO many things!)… Well, for all the little bits and pieces you need to know this season, we’ve got you covered in this week’s links!

Links à la Mode: December 4th

SPONSOR: Shopbop App Melissa shoes, Narciso, Women’s Watches, Mackage, Swell Bottles , Men’s JeansClutches, Shapewear, Tretorns, Herschel backpacks & Kate Spade Bags

Want to be featured in Links à la Mode?

1. Read the clarified rules and submit your links on this page: Links à la Mode.
2. If your link was selected and you need this week’s code, visit this page: Links à la Mode Code.

Floral Friday: Flowers As Gifts

dog and flower

“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.”
Georgia O’Keeffe

I know it’s Saturday, but let’s turn back the clock 24 hours and pretend that this post is on time. In fact, let’s go all the way back to spring when the sun was shining and the flowers were blooming. I do not come from flower people. Flowers were occasionally given for recitals and certain Hallmark Holidays, but mostly, flowers were not seen as gifts. Flowers might be bought to be planted in the garden but rarely were they bought to be displayed somewhere in the house. Dare I say that flowers were seen as frivolous wastes of money because they would not last…? Yet, I think there is something magical about the woman who buys flowers every week to display in her kitchen or the man who regularly gives his wife flowers just because. For me the gift of flowers comes in the spring when the grass suddenly turns green and little blooms pop up everywhere. While spring does not last, I don’t think anyone can call it a waste of a season. Spring’s gift is a yearly wonder that paints the world in a rainbow of colors.

While spring’s gift fades, the memory doesn’t have to. This darling camera is a lovely way to capture life’s sweet moments no matter the season.

old fashioned toy camera

Diana F Camera in Honeycomb

Floral Fridays is a monthly photography project with different themes each month. This series is about fun and taking time out to smell the flowers. To play along, please email Trishie (trishie@underlockandkeyblog.com) for next month’s theme.

It’s My SITS Day!

Halloween

It’s no secret that the secret to success is support, and thanks to The Secret is in the Sauce, I have found a wonderful community. Welcome SITS Girls! I’m so happy you could stop by on my SITS Day!

Happy. Pretty. Sweet. is where I blog about life beauty and fashion. One day may find me writing about How to Dress Like a 90’s Music Video, and another day the topic could be totally different, such as Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert.

Currently, I’m giving away a copy of Sunday Suppers: Recipes + Gatherings, so be sure to take a second and enter.

If you’re interested in following me elsewhere, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.

Now, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite posts…

Favorite DIY and Recipe Posts

Favorite Fashion and Beauty Posts

This entry was posted in Life.

The Unimaginable

adventure thriller book

From the author of One Pink Line comes a story about letting go of the past and finding bravery in the depths of fear. Set on the sun-soaked beaches of Thailand and the rough waters of the Indian Ocean, The Unimaginable paints a vivid portrait of a young woman on a journey to find herself—and her harrowing fight for survival…

BookSparks’ University Fall Reading Challenge continues with Dana Silver’s The Unimaginable. Our subject for today is Study Abroad: Semester in Thailand.

Looking for adventure, Jessica moves to Thailand to teach at a local school, but when she meets Grant, a man intent on sailing around the world, she quickly falls head over heels for him. Grant and his crew, Quinn, soon become an important part of her life in Phuket and her ticket to traveling and seeing more of the world. However, sailing through the Indian Ocean is fraught with danger, and danger soon finds them.

I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but it is pretty clear from the beginning that Jessica and her friends will be attacked by pirates. Sadly, not the Jack Sparrow type of pirate. I was surprised, however, that the kidnapping was only a small part of the story. Jessica is a woman desperate for love and adventure, and she spends most of the first half of the book ogling Grant and asking about joining his crew. The last half of the book covers the kidnapping and Jessica and Grant’s relationship in the aftermath.

The Unimaginable is nothing like I’d imagined it would be. It’s not an inspirational story encouraging readers to seek adventure in far off places. It’s not a page turning thriller that keeps you up late at night with suspense. It’s not a daydream inducing romance that leaves you breathless. It’s a story that plots its own course, plodding through genres and dragging the reader along in its wake. The idea of the story is so good, but this book just wasn’t for me. And, while I found the plot predictable, the main characters uninteresting, and the romance absurd, I feel that I should point out that the book does have a good rating on Goodreads. But, for me, the most interesting part of the book is the note from the author where she writes about the true stories that inspired her novel. The boating community sounds fascinating, and I would love to read more about the people who spend their lives on the water.

BookSparks

This book was sent to me for review and is part of the BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge.

Holiday Wishes

If I could steal anyone’s voice, I would take Idina Menzel’s in a heartbeat. Whether she’s a green witch singing about defying gravity or a queen learning how to control her frosty powers, Idina Menzel brings so much passion and life to the characters she plays. Now, she’s released a Christmas album covering holiday favorites from “Silent Night” to “All I Want For Christmas is You”.

Holiday Wishes was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff (Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey), so you know this collection is going to be good. One of my favorite songs is “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, which pairs Idina Menzel with Michael Bublé for a dreamy, Christmas duet. How cute is that music video? “River” is another song I could leave on repeat, and I won’t even talk about how beautiful “When You Wish Upon A Star” is.

For a taste of this magical album, take a look at the Holiday Wishes trailer.

Now that I’ve tempted you, you can pick up Holiday Wishes on iTunes and Amazon. Or, head over to Target for an exclusive Target edition of Holiday Wishes featuring two bonus tracks, including “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”.

To learn more about Idina Menzel, you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

I participated in the Idina Menzel Holiday Wishes album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

What’s your favorite Christmas album?