Holiday Outfits That Sparkle!

Tis the season for…sparkle!  I know that wearing sequins during the holidays is not groundbreaking, but it is a classic for a reason.  Whether you are going to a holiday party, Christmas dinner with the family, or a NYE celebration, they are the perfect choice for standing out in the crowd.  Sequins are festive, dressy, and just fun to wear.  Believe it or not, sparkles are more versatile than you think.  My favorite way to wear them isn’t what you’d expect.  I love to pair a sequined skirt with a fisherman’s sweater for a chic and casual day look.  Trust me, sequins are not only for evening-wear!

Now, if you really want to show off your holiday spirit, pair your sparkles with other festive-wear, like lace and velvet. You will be sure to turn heads and remember, if you look and feel fabulous, it will only make the holiday season more fun!  I could have put outfits together all day for you, but I chose to stop at these three fabulous picks.  I would love to hear what you will be wearing for the holidays, so be sure to leave a comment below.  P.S. don’t leave the red lipstick at home!

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1. Endless Love – Sequin Top | 2. Asos – Oil Slick Foldover | 3. Mango – Faux Leather Leggings | 4. Kate Spade – Square Studs | 5. Loren Hope – Sarra Crystal Cuff | 6. Asos Southy Pointy Heel

 

 

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1. KT Collection – Silver and Hematite Fringe Earrings | 2. Gigi New York – Python Leather Clutch  | 3. Reiss – Colorado Dress | 4. H&M – Sequin Jacket | 5. Vince Camuto – Marlene Sandal

 

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1, J.Crew – Fisherman Cable Knit Sweater | 2. Sam Edelman – Petty Ankle Boot | 3. TopShop – Sequin Pleated Midi Skirt | 4. BaubleBar – Pearl Earrings | 5. BaubleBar – Crystal Mason Ring | 6. Zara – Croc Mini City Bag

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Holiday Gift Guide Part 2: Anthropologie Favorites

Anthropologie has always been one of my favorite destinations for holiday shopping.  No matter whom you are shopping for, you are bound to find the perfect gift.  From quirky home goods, cozy knitwear, to stunning jewelry, they seem to have something for everyone.  This one-stop shop will not only bring a smile to your loved ones faces, but it will also make the holidays less stressful for you.  Over the weekend, I visited the store and was very happy to have gotten most of my shopping done for the ladies in my life.  The following are my favorite Anthropologie pieces.  Trust me, it took me a long time to narrow them down for you.   I am in love with the layered necklace and the pineapple decorative candle.  Of course I had to include the limited edition gold monogramed mug that every fashionista should own.  Hope one of these items inspires you and that the holidays aren’t too stressful for you.

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10 Unforgettable Christmas Movies, Too Often Forgotten

By Johnny Pomatto

Perhaps the reason the Christmas season seems to start earlier and earlier each year is to provide us with enough time to watch our favorite classic Christmas movies.  There are so many of them, and some staples demand to be watched every year, such as IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE or A CHRISTMAS STORY.  People often demand at least one telling of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, whether it be the classic Alastair Sim version or one of a more Muppet variety.  One must make room for the modern classics, including new favorites like NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION or ELF.  There’s also the ones to watch after the kids go to bed, including the very R rated DIE HARD or BAD SANTA.  Then of course everyone has a few guilty pleasures that they enjoy more than anyone else in the house, like HOME ALONE or THE SANTA CLAUSE 2: THE MRS. CLAUSE (it’s a lot better than you’d expect).  With all of these to choose from, many others are bound to get lost in the shuffle.  So I thought I’d highlight some of my personal favorites that usually aren’t at the top of everyone’s stockpile of DVD’s.  Some of them you may know, others you may not.  But if you’re tired of seeing that kid get his tongue stuck to the pole every year, these are some worthy backups that might find their way into your annual holiday rotation.

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REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940)- For those of you who are fans of seeing Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck sexily double-crossing one another in “Double Indemnity,” you might enjoy seeing them fall in love in much lighter fare.  Stanwyck plays a shoplifter who is caught and put on trial right before Christmas.  When the trial is postponed until after the holiday, her prosecuting attorney, (MacMurray) takes pity on her, bails her out of jail, and takes her home to spend Christmas with him and his family.  Naturally the holiday spirit gets to them and the two fall in love, though her impending, post-holiday trial is always looming over the couple.  The masterful Preston Sturges, (marking this his last screenplay he would ever not direct), doesn’t let the characters off the hook or give them an easy way out at the end, giving this film an unexpected but nonetheless wonderful ending.

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THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940)- The story of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is already known to new generations who grew up watching “You’ve Got Mail,” but that is a poor imitation.  Set in pre-war Budapest, Ernst Lubitsch’s tells the tale of the employees of the trinket shop owned by Mr. Matuschek, who viewers will instantly recognize as Frank Morgan, the wonderful Wizard of Oz himself.  Two of Matuschek’s employees, (James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan) don’t really get along in the shop, and neither realize that each other are actually the secret pen pals that they have been writing anonymous love notes to.  The love story is handled perfectly, but the movie’s best scene comes late in the film, as the ordinarily grouchy and miserly Mr. Matuschek finally softens up and affectionately reaches out to Stewart in an act of contrition.  You’ll wish you could do all your Christmas shopping at the titular shop.  This film truly has the Lubitsch touch.

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HOLIDAY INN (1942)- Not only am I not a fan of the inexplicably beloved Bing Crosby film “White Christmas,” but neither was Bing.  He thought that it was a subpar film that people only embraced because of its title song.  But that very same Irving Berlin song was first featured in Crosby’s earlier and far superior film HOLIDAY INN.  While “White Christmas” matched both Bing and Danny Kaye with love interests, HOLIDAY INN had Crosby and Fred Astaire competing for the same woman, with each using their signature talents to woo Marjorie Reynolds.  Fred’s dancing is predictably outstanding, but the reason that every one of us knows the words to “White Christmas” is due entirely to the charming scene when Crosby instructs Reynolds how to sing it, line by line.

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MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944)- Though this has one of the most iconic Christmas scenes in movie history, this isn’t precisely what I would call a Christmas movie.  The story of a close knit family in 1904 St. Louis spans an entire year, and has just as memorable sequences surrounding Independence Day and Halloween.  After a perfect Christmas Eve, Judy Garland is struck with the revelation that her family’s impending move to New York means this will be her last Christmas in St. Louis.  In a vain effort to comfort her younger sister (the iconic, adorable, little crier Margaret O’Brien), Judy sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  This is not the uplifting Bing Crosby version of the song about “hanging shining stars upon highest boughs.”  This is about having a merry Christmas now and trying not to think about how unhappy they’ll all be this time next year.  Of course, Vincent Minnelli wouldn’t end his film on such a dour note, and the tears you’re shedding will soon be converted into tears of joy.

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THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1947)- Divine intervention comes in the form of Cary Grant in this charming Christmas fable about a bishop, (the always marvelous David Niven) who is struggling with his faith and his marriage to Loretta Young.  Grant plays Dudley, an angel sent from Heaven to help Niven and anyone else he happens to come across.  Grant is equal parts playful and sincere, and he doesn’t give in to temptation when Young becomes a little too charmed by him.  Dudley may not be the most famous Christmas movie angel, (that title undoubtedly goes to Clarence from “It’s A Wonderful Life”), but this is one of those forgotten gems that perfectly balances Christmas merriment and religion, with beautiful results.

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3 GODFATHERS (1948)- Christmas stories can pop up in any genre, even in a John Ford western.  John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, and Harry Carey Jr. play outlaws on the run in the desert when they stumble upon a stagecoach that has been attacked by Indians, leaving only an infant child alive.  Despite the general loose morals of the bandits, they become determined to bring the baby to safety, even if it means facing the lawmen that are pursuing them.  It’s certainly a sweet side of John Wayne you’re not used to seeing.  The film is a very loose retelling of the story of the three wise men which may not be enough to fully classify it as a “Christmas film,” but I still enjoy it as a welcomed alternative to the usual snow and sleigh bells of the season.

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A CHRISTMAS MEMORY (1966)- One of my favorite pieces of writing of all time is Truman Capote’s autobiographical tale of growing up in Alabama with his beloved elderly cousin.  A CHRISTMAS MEMORY has only ever been adapted for television, but the original 1966 special, starring Geraldine Page as Ms. Sook, is a magnificent and faithful telling of the story.  Capote himself narrates the tale, but even his prose that aren’t included verbatim are lovingly captured by the details of its lived-in setting.  The story is incredibly simple, as Truman (referred to as Buddy), and Sook scrounge together what little money they have to make fruitcakes for their friends and relatives.  The end of the story always reduces me to a sobbing mess, but I still revisit it as much as I can, and I’m happy to report that you can do, as it’s available to view on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBipwZoJSyU

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GREMLINS (1985)- Not every movie that happens to take place during Christmas can be called “a Christmas movie.”  I wrestled with putting dark treasures like “Brazil” or “The City of Lost Children” on this list, even if there happens to be a Christmas tree in the background of a scene or two.  But although GREMLINS is a movie about nasty little monsters wreaking havoc on a small town, it is undeniably a film for both lovers and haters of the holiday alike.  Zach Galligan thinks he’s gotten the coolest gift ever when he unwraps an adorable little Mogwai, but feeding it after midnight (isn’t it ALWAYS after midnight?) causes it to turn into a nasty creature with murder and mischief on its mind.  The Gremlins gleefully destroy whatever they encounter, especially Christmas decorations.  They even get into the spirit and go caroling.  GREMLINS is a giddy, nasty delight from beginning to end, and you will never be able to forget the scene in which Phoebe Cates reveals the reason why she hates Christmas.  The story she tells will just make you love the holiday more.

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MILLIONS (2004)- Director Danny Boyle won an oscar for his film “Slumdog Millionaire,” but that’s only his second best film with the titular number.  MILLIONS tells the story of young boy Damian, (the adorable Alex Etel) who is playing in a field when a suitcase full of money falls from the sky.  Thinking it’s a gift from God, Damian wants to give it to the poor, while his brother wants to spend it, or invest in real estate.  The Christmas connections to this movie aren’t fully revealed until close to the end but this is an often forgotten, wonderful film for the entire family.  The climax of the film, when Damian is treated to a Christmas miracle as reward for his goodhearted efforts is sure to bring tears to your eyes.

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A CHRISTMAS TALE (2008)- Every year families come together at Christmas, including families who don’t like each other very much.  Arnaud Desplechin’s French family drama A CHRISTMAS TALE centers around dysfunction and strife, but shows that the holiday spirit can bring out the best in anyone.  When the black sheep of the Vuillard family (the incomparable Mathieu Amalric) returns home for Christmas after being disowned a few years prior, he threatens to ruin what will be his sister’s last Christmas unless she gets a bone marrow transplant.  Heavy stuff, but the film still manages to provide joy, warmth, and even some humor.  Plus, Catherine Deneuve looks radiant in the glowing candlelight and red and green color palate of the sweet and sad film.

 Hear more of Johnny Pomatto’s reviews on his podcast MOVIES AND FILMS WITH JOHNNY AND FRIENDS available on iTunes

Weekly Finds

Links I Discovered This Week

This week flew by as fast as I thought it would.  December always seems like such a blur with a busy work schedule, end of the year to-do lists, and holiday shopping.  Speaking of which, this weekend I am devoting my time to crossing off all of the names on my holiday shopping list.  This year, my family and in-laws are all coming together for the holidays and that means there is a lot to get ready for.  Other than shopping, we’re planning to pick out our Christmas tree.  I love our Christmas decorating tradition where my husband and I make dinner, decorate the tree, and watch “A Christmas Story”.  Until then, it never really feels like Christmas.  I hope you all enjoyed my posts this week.  The stocking stuffer gift guide really inspired me for my shopping list and I hope it gave you some ideas as well.  Try to not stress out over the holidays.  When it’s all said and done, it’s all about spending time with one’s family, isn’t it?  Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the links I discovered this week.

 

A NEW SIDE TO JULIA: We saw a whole new side of Julia Roberts this week when she was named the face of Givenchy’s Spring 2015 Campaign.  The advertisement featured a makeup free Roberts and, of course, she was beautiful.

SWEET TOOTH: This weekend, I am braving the cold and I am determined to get all of my holiday shopping done.  The one thing that can get me through it is a cup of hot chocolate.   Here is a list of the best spots to find the best hot chocolate in NYC.

HOLIDAY STYLE: When A Sparkle Factor posts a story about the best holiday shoes, you know there will be some fabulous sparkly options perfect for any holiday event!  I personally love the red pumps with the bow detail from Asos and the sparkly booties

KATE THE GREAT: The highly anticipated NYC Royal Tour has come and gone and it was fabulous.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed everyone, per usual, and Kate’s style was spot on.  Even though some hated that she recycled another evening gown, I really didn’t mind.

NYC FAVORITE: When William and Kate visited NYC this week, they stayed at the Carlyle Hotel.  It got me thinking of one of the most beautiful bars in the city, the Bemelmam’s  Bar located in the hotel.  It was named after the talented illustrator of the Madeline books and, even though, it has very expensive drinks, it has old New York charm.  Since it was on my mind, I was very happy to have come across this story on Victoria McGinley’s blog.  The images are stunning.

WINTER LIFE SAVOR: Now that we’ve had our first official snowfall, I realized I am seriously lacking a pair of winter boots.  By the end of the day, my toes are completely numb, so I’m hoping I’ll find a great pair from this list.

PIN OF THE WEEK: I may not know what I am doing for NYE yet, but this is exactly how I want to look for an evening of sparkles, champagne, and new beginnings!

 

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Beauty Review: Tea MD Facial Cleanser


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When it comes to beauty products I am a very low maintenance kind of girl.  I want an all-natural product, something that’s not too floral (I have a very sensitive nose), and something that provides good results.  It can take years to find the perfect beauty regime for oneself, but for as long as I can remember, I have sworn by tea tree oil.  It is the best way to fight blemishes quickly and efficiently.  That is why when I discovered Tea MD’s Daily Facial Cleanser, with its key ingredient being tea tree oil, I was eager to give this cleanser a try.

I am very diligent about my skincare regime and I was very pleased with how this cleanser worked with my other products.  In fact, don’t tell my moisturizer, but my skin was so soft and hydrated following the cleansing process, I didn’t even feel I needed moisturizer.  This is a first for me when it comes to cleansers.  I have naturally dry skin and I usually feel the need to apply a heavy amount of moisturizing cream after I’ve used a cleanser.   Another plus for me was the scent.  As I said before, I am very sensitive when it comes to aromas.  When I visit a department store, I have to run through the fragrance section with my nose covered to avoid a serious headache.  That being said, this cleanser has an aroma that is refreshing and light.  I found that using it in the morning woke me up before I even had a sip of coffee.   I think it has a lot to do with the tea tree oil, as it has always been a smell I’ve enjoyed.  Speaking of tea tree oil, I am excited to see how it affects my skin in the long term and if it will keep those unwanted blemishes at bay.  In the past, tea tree oil has worked wonders and it is about time I found a product that features it.  Finally, because this cleanser is an all-natural product and free of toxins and harsh chemicals, it is healthy for your skin and gentle enough to be used daily.

Tea MD’s Daily Facial Cleanser is an excellent product that has come into my life at the absolute right time.  After only a few weeks into winter, my skin was already starting to feel like sandpaper.  Now, it feels refreshed and restored to it’s fabulous self.  This is Tea MD’s signature product, and I am looking forward to seeing what else they have to offer for beautiful skin.

Tea MD is offering my loyal readers a special discount code for 20% off your purchase.  All you have to do is use code BC1413 at checkout.   For additional information about Tea MD Skincare, visit their website: www.teamdskincare.com

 

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Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Tis the season for giving and whether you are shopping for your mother, sister, or bestie, I’m sure one of these fabulous gifts below will inspire you.  When it comes to gifting, it is the thought that counts.  There is no reason why you should break the bank, no matter whom the receiver is.  The honest truth is, we don’t really need anything, but it is always fun to receive a thoughtful gift from the heart.  So today, I have put together a group of gifts that are affordable, simple, and perfect stocking stuffers that your loved ones are sure to love.  Not on this list, but still a wonderful gift to give, is donating to a charity in the receiver’s name that means something to them.  Gifting a donation has been a tradition in my family and always a great thing to do. Let me know what fun things you plan to gift this year, and they may make it onto our Gift Guide Part 2 post!

 

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  1. MONOGRAM WINE STOPPERS:  This wine stopper is a fun gift for a wine loving friend.  The monogram is a special touch that will make the gift even more meaningful.
  2. DOG COLLAR: BaubleBar has launched a brand new dog collar collection full of bedazzled accessories for your favorite pet.  This would be perfect for the canine loving friends on your list.
  3. DIPTYQUE CANDLES:  I am obsessed with these candles and I know I am not alone.   If your loved ones enjoy candles as well, then you can’t go wrong with this brand.  Bonus, when the candle is gone, the jar acts as the perfect holder for makeup brushes.
  4. PALAIS DES THES:  For the tea lover on your gift list, pick Palais des Thés’ Miniature Set of 4 Scented Blends.  It will introduce them to the pleasure of the brand’s best flavors like green dates and berry infused The du Hammam.
  5. JONATHON ADLER DISH:  This zebra dish is a favorite of mine, and great for any lady in your life who loves pretty home décor accents.  I love using mine as a jewelry dish on my nightstand.
  6. KATE SPADE INITIAL PENDANT:  Like I said before, monogramed gifts are meaningful for the receiver because it is personalized and thoughtful.  Pick this monogram necklace for anyone who loves jewelry.  It can be worn by itself but it also makes the perfect layering piece.
  7. MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION: What’s better than a gift that keeps giving?  Gift your friend a year membership to a magazine that she loves.  That way she will be have something to look forward to each month and a constant reminder of your awesome friendship.
  8. URBAN DECAY:  This season, Urban Decay is offering the “On the Go” eye shadow palette that is perfect for traveling on vacation or taking it with you to work and beyond.  This is high on my wish list this year and your beauty-loving friends will thank you.

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Movies & Films: Fishing With Oscar Bait

Jake Gyllenhaal plays an unscrupulous news cameraman in the thriller Nightcrawler

By Johnny Pomatto

It’s that time of year again.  The time when movie studios trot out their awards hopefuls that they know low attention span voters will be sure to remember come voting time.  But something feels different this year.  Though I’ve seen nearly every high profile release to come out this year, I’m having a really hard time picking out frontrunners for awards.  Is it a bad year for movies?  Possibly, though the problem runs much deeper than that.  The screening and voting process is letting the system down, and while it’s easier than ever to craft a narrative that will appeal to Oscar voters, the films are solely relying on their hooks more an more, without anyone feeling the need to make a good movie that surrounds them.  And why should they?  After all, there’s a good chance the voters aren’t going to watch their films anyways.

Last spring the Academy Awards named “12 Years a Slave” the Best Picture of the year.  It wasn’t my personal favorite, but I did like it a lot and I couldn’t find much argument for why it wasn’t worthy of the recognition.  Mere weeks after this year’s Oscars, numerous voters began admitting that they hadn’t even bothered to see “12 Years a Slave,” but voted for it anyways.  After all, it’s a critically acclaimed movie about slavery, how could they NOT vote for it?  A tragic story involving wrongful enslavement and the abuse and torture of human beings doesn’t sound like a fun watch, and voters trusted others to do their work for them.  Hearing that it was a great film was enough for them to vote for it in good conscious, without having to subject themselves to a bummer of a night watching the slave movie.  One of the reasons this problem is emerging more and more is because nobody goes to the movies anymore, especially Oscar voters.  Now anyone in SAG or the Academy simply gets screener DVD’s mailed to them, so they can watch the newest and best movies without ever leaving their living room.  This sadly means that even the films that voters do watch might be watched while playing solitaire on an iPad, reading a magazine, or perhaps in fits and starts during multiple viewing sessions, some that might never be completed.  How many people began “12 Years a Slave” only to turn it off when the whips started to come out?  Did voters just say to themselves “I think I got the gist of it,” and start watching their “Frozen” screener again?  One can’t imagine voters actually going to a theatrical screening and just walking out halfway through when they get bored or depressed, but it’s all too easy to do that when sitting at home.

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