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Holiday parties are just one part of what make the Holidays so special.  The weekends get booked out in advance and filled with friends, family, food and Holiday cheer.  I always bulk up on my hostess gifts this time a year because I never like arriving to a party empty handed.

For gift wrapping ideas –  tie on fresh rosemary from the garden (shown) or gold and silver holiday bells.   Red and white waxed twine or burlap mixed with washi tape and fun gift tags are all that these gifts need.

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Instead of giving a tradition bottle of wine, why not give a bottle of olive oil that will be used long after the party is over.   Decorative soaps are perfect for a powder room or guest bathroom.  Seasonal dishtowels from Anthropologie also make great gifts that are thoughtful and affordable.    I have been testing out several different holiday candles the last few weeks and although traditionally around this time I swap my kitchen candle out for spiced pumpkin scents – this year the Oatmeal Cookie Candle by Boulangerie is the gift that I will be giving (it smells like you just walked into a bakery full of freshly cooked cookies).

Here is a short list of gift suggestions that will be sure to get you invited again next year!

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It is time to get cozy and we think we have found the ultimate jammies for snuggling up to the fireplace, turning in early for the night with a good movie or an endless stormy Sunday morning over coffee and tee in bed…oh it all sounds just so nice!

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Strawberryblonded loves herself a good set of pjs, so it’s important they hold up as toddler and kid pajamas tend to take a beating.  They are washed at least once a week and if you treasure sleep, you want your kids to be as comfortable and snuggy as possible in bed.

I have tried a handful of brands and the Hanna Anderson cotton holds up through thousands of washes. Strawberry Blonded started wearing the Baby Sleepers at three months old and now has moved on to the Long Johns. They also came out with Frozen Pajamas and now I have to beg Strawberry Blonded to not wear them out the door to school. They are a bit more pricy, but hold up the best through the wear and the washing.

I also love the twin pack Long Johns at Mini Boden. The cotton is thick and also holds up in the wash. They do run small and have a pretty large shrink factor so I also size up.

Last, but not least The Gap sleep sets are the best for the value and the cute prints. They are a go-to for me through the growth spurts. While they do not hold up as well as the first two brands above, given the cost and the value they are great to have in the pajama rotation for all ages!

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I used to be a old recycled soft t-shirt and random pair of pj bottoms type of girl, but in my older age I have started buying more sleep sets of matching tops and bottoms. My sister has been telling me for awhile to try the Eberjey sets. I finally caved when the weather turned and bought myself this cozy Chic Pj Set and think it’s the most spectacular clothing I have ever slept in! The fabric is so soft and amazing that I have had my eye on these other pieces here, here or here now!

I also love a cozy waffle knit sleep sets and would reccomend sets from PJ Luxe like the knit Salvage Stripe set or the Ski Bunny Fox Print from Wildfox or the Splendid Classic Pj set for buttery soft fabrics that will keep you very warm this winter.

I can’t forget to mention that Gap also has great sleep sets for Women too during the holiday season in flannels (they haven’t hit the store yet) and 100% cottons with cute prints and at a great quality and price. I love this Printed poplin sleep set for on sale now for $36!

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Sleep Chip Stripe Pj Set from Eberjey
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….a typical morning on Green street looks a lot like this! Strawberryblonded and I have a bad habit of having sleepovers every night I’m in town (which has been a lot this Fall!). She is afraid of the dark, so we have to hold hands all night long! I’m not sure it’s the most restful night sleep with the night antics of her doing the sideways starfish, me waking up with a stuffed animal on my face (there are 12 in the bed) or her asking me to scratch her back, but I look forward to the snuggles and big smile I get from her telling me to wake up every morning!

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> WKNDR WARRIOR / November 7, 2014
Written by Posted in Style Comments 0

“The Weekender.  Because your weekend bag should not cost more than your weekend getaway”  – Everlane

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Once and awhile, I find a new retailer that really inspires me both with the product they produce and the execution of their message.  Eight months ago, I found Everlane and I have been a brand addict ever since.  Just last week, I got their first catalog and I was so impressed I thought I would post these photos of some of my favorite Everlane items.

Besides great product one of the selling points about Everlane is that as company they are committed to Radical Transparency – meaning they show you all of their costs and the cost associated with delivering the goods (including where it is made).  For every product the cost is listed out by material, labor and transportation providing a true cost and selling cost (mark-up).  They also note the traditional retail which makes you feel like you are getting a piece of quality clothing without the insane mark-up of other competitive brands.  It truly is an inspired business model selling great product at a real affordable price.  It is a straight forward message just as their fashion pieces are both elegant and basic – they are the perfect pieces to build out your wardrobe.  If you are not familiar with Everlane – check them out, it is well worth your time.

final_2Here are a few of my favorite pieces for the fall season:

Weekender + Bomber Backpack / Weekender (shown in Navy) comes in 12 colors and retails for just $95 and the Snap Backpack (shown in Navy) is available in 11 colors and retails for $65.  Both of them make a great weekend pair.  The backpack is perfect for my laptop, camera and book and the weekender is a great size for weekend worth of clothing.

Swing Trench + The Seed Stitch Raglan / The swing trench ($138) is perfect for the San Francisco winter (shown in Sage).  It is easy to throw on with jeans and but can also be dressed up.  It is the perfect layer piece!   If you are looking for a comfortable sweater that is easy to wear than the Seed Stitch ($60) is a great option – it wears like your old favorite sweatshirt, but provides a bit more warmth and structure.

Have a great weekend!

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I fell in love with these old school baseball hats from Ebbets Field Flannels when I came across them in a boutique in Park City. I HAD TO HAVE one to wear to rep SF and found out I could custom make my own, so I designed and placed an order! It is perfect for a weekend hat to wear around the city or more for me to hide my messy hair on a travel day. I will be wearing this hat far from the streets of SF throughout the season!

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These one of a kind hats are for sale for $49 through our Etsy shop (more detailed pictures are here too!) or you can email me directly at mia@blondedbystyle.com to place an order! This specific color combination and logo has been ordered in a limited run, so first come first serve. The back has an adjustable leather strap that will fit most head sizes!

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> EVERYDAY GARDENING / November 5, 2014
Written by Posted in Strawberry Blonded Comments 0

final_1Gardening is a year round excuse to wear rain boots!

The backyard is a perfect place to squish around while watering the plants and rain boots are the perfect accessory to any backyard gardening party.  Strawberry Blonded is still stuck in summer and insisting that she continues to wear her summer dresses.  I thought a new pair of rain boots might be a great way to transition her into her winter wardrobe and for her to get a bit more excited about the colder months to come.  She grabbed the floor model right off the display and of course it was pink Hunter Rain Boots.  There was no talking her into anything else!  I even tired to to talk her into the same color  Hunter Rain Boots with the traditional buckle, but she just insisted that we get knee high socks with bunnies on them.  Without much deliberation we walked out with these fun pink boots and knee high socks.  I did insisted on buying them a bit big so hopefully we can get to wet seasons out of them.

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final_2Summer dresses have been really difficult for Strawberry Blonded to put away; every day it is a full-blown melt down when she can’t rock one of her sleeveless flocks.  I am not sure if the issues is that she just had too much fun this summer of if she is always constantly hot.  Either way getting her into jeans, sweaters, and long sleeve dresses has been a continual struggle.  I get her dressed for school in in appropriate winter attire and the moment she walks back through the door her clothes go flying and it is back to her summer dresses.  I fell in love with this jacquard dress on the Zara homepage and thought it might be a good transition piece.  It is still a lightweight dress yet it has long sleeves.  She actually liked the dress and now it has become a basic in her closet.

Hopefully, we have lots of needed rain this winter and these boots will get a ton of wear.

final_1.2                                                                                  Jacquard Zara Dress // Hunter Boots

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> DIY: SUCCLULENT HOSTESS GIFTS / November 4, 2014
Written by Posted in Design Comments 1

final_2It is that time once again where the calendar starts to get booked with holiday parties, dinners parties and school events.  My mom was the type of women who never to show up anywhere empty handed and so the importance of small gifts as a sign of gratitude is just as important to me as a hand written thank you note.

I love the idea of giving something green that will continue to grow and these small succulent tins are great for a kitchen window or even an office.  They are small enough to carry out of the house and will survive long after the Holidays.

succletDIY Succulent Hostess Gifts: 

I suggest making 3-6 of these at once and they can be stored in your house until they are needed.  You can make a large enough batch to carry you though the whole Holiday season if needed.  They only require water once ever week and a bit of sunlight.

Materials Needed:

Spray paint – color based on personal preference

Nail – for holes in the bottom of the tin

Tins – You can use anything from kitchen tins to full planters.  I liked these small planters  Zinc Norah Vases

Leaves & material to tie around the tin (ribbon/burlap rope)

Succulent – I buy my succulent at the SF Flowermart, but Home Depot or Loews has a great selection of succulent.

How to Assemble: 

Remove the tins from the packaging and use small nail to create a few holes in the bottom of the vase so water can drain and succulent will not mold. Spray the tins and while they are drying spray the leaves (I used gold spray paint on my leaves for an extra pop of sparkle).  Once they are dry, plant tins and tie on leave with burlap rope.

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I was cold all weekend for the first time in a long time. November 1st hit and it was felt like winter was officially here! This post was prompted since I was out of town I didn’t pack the proper accessories to layer on and to stay warm. During this colder seasons my favorite key pieces of my wardrobe are my scarves, hats and mittens. As jewelry is harder to make a statement with, cold weather accessories can add a pop of color or texture to an outfit and pull the look together along with added the warmth (most importantly!). They are also great presents to give over the holidays!

There are so many to choose from, but below are 15 of my favorite cold weather accessories right now.

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> TRICK OR TREAT / October 30, 2014
Written by Posted in Eat + Drink Comments 1

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Trick or Treat!

I volunteered to bring treats to Strawberry Blonded class for her Halloween party.  Carmel apples have always been “my” treat growing up and when I saw a photo of mini caramel apple bites I thought that those were worth a test in the kitchen.  Truth be told, I have never made caramel and I want to make it as Holiday gifts so I thought this cooking project would be a great place to start perfecting my caramels for the Holidays and a fun idea for a Halloween party.

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Embarking on making caramel turned out to be really fun – I was shocked at how easy it was once I got the candy thermometer ($5 from the grocery store).  And dipping these apples into chocolate, nuts and sprinkles was a great project for Strawberry Blonded.  Cooking the caramel mixture was is a bit dangerous for kids because of the heat factor!

Quick tips on this receipt:  Make sure apples are dry before dipping and they have the sticks inserted before you start dipping so that the caramel sticks on the apples.  If there is moisture the caramel will slide off.   Have dipping ready to go and everything stationed so that once the caramel is ready the dipping can start.   You can make apple bites these ahead of time and refrigerate, but be sure to serve at room temperature.

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Roasted Chicken Noodle soup was a favorite of mine growing up and has quickly become a favorite in my household.  Strawberry Blonded loves chicken noodle and we have fun picking out noodles such as alphabet noodles or “car wheels” (as shown in the picture).  What really gets me excited about cooking soup is the smell of homemade chicken noodle on the stove on a cold wet winter day.

When I am making roasted chicken noodle soup, I tend to have roaster chicken the night before for dinner and make the soup the following days with the left-over chicken and boil down the bones for homemade chicken stock.  If I am in a hurry, I use a pre-cooked chicken and remove the meat for the soup and bones for the stock.

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Chicken Stock:  2 roasted chicken carcasses  //  4 carrots (cut in haft and peeled)  //  4 stocks of celery // 1/2 peeled onions // 5 cloves of garlic // tbs of salt /pepper // water

Pull off chicken and set aside.  Throw the carcasses on a pot with carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Fill the pot with water and add salt/pepper.   Cook on medium for one hour and then strain to remove all chicken/vegetable parts leaving just pure chicken stock.  If you have time you can refrigerate the broth overnight and remove the top layer of fat.  If you are making the broth while the soup is cooking you can transfer right away to your soup pot.

Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup:

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Keep warm and dry and enjoy!

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IMG_0357 I spent the last five days in Saas Fee, Switzerland totally unplanned and loved it. It is a little city up in the mountains a couple hours from Zurich that sits below the tallest mountain in Switzerland (similar to Wengen that I visited last year here, but a bit bigger!). It is a walking city only and a Disneyland for adults. There are no cars allowed other than mini cars for the businesses. They have a glacier where skiers can ski up to 10 months a year accessible by two gondola rides and a train through a mountain to the top. The weather up on the glacier felt like the middle of winter while down in the town was more mild and sunny. We were told from a local they get around 300 sunny days a year. Saas Fee 1 I spent most afternoons exploring in and out of shops or aimlessly walking through the narrow streets getting lost. I loved all the different colors of the shutters on the houses from bright yellow (above) to reds, blues and greens along with the blooming flowers in the windowsills or around the entrances of the homes. They also had these really cool old huts on the outside of the city built on cement raisers and rocks (pictured below). The huts hold hay and grains for the town and are raised, so that the mice can not get to them! saas fee edit

//360 Blanket Sweater // Citizens of Humanity Rocket Skinnies in Carbon // old Piperlime Graphic Muscle Tee // Superga 2750 Suede Patent Sneakers // old Free People beanie // Crystal Drop Necklace by Zoe // borrowed from the boys Louis Vuitton Men’s Keepall Bandouliere Travel Bag //

On this afternoon, after the sun set behind the drastic mountains it got a little chilly and luckily I had my beanie with me! My new 360 Sweater kept me warm enough with the added beanie. It still felt Fall like with no snow on the ground, so my new Superga sneakers (yes I can’t get enough of these shoes!) were perfect for the walking duration.  I pulled the look together with my favorite pair of high waisted denim… the Rocket fit from Citizens of Humanity. It’s a true higher high rise that I find flattering and comfortable! saas fee detailsWe ended up eating the best fondue I have ever had at this little restaurant on the edge of town called Zur Muehle that is also a Bed and Breakfast. As most restaurants and hotels in the area it is family owned for many decades and they were extremely friendly and nice to us. I highly recommend this place! They invited us to come back the next day for a traditional Swiss meal called Rosti that was amazing too! I feel like I could go on and on in this post, but it’s late here in Austria now and my internet isn’t working very well…so that’s all for now! IMG_0534

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