Introducing Sale Into Style

Happy Friday all! I'm excited to introduce a new segment on the Parismonia blog called Sale Into Style, where I'll be pulling together sale items from different stores into one cohesive look.

This is for the lady (or dude) who can't bring herself (or himself) to shell out the big bucks for clothing. Maybe you're on a tight budget; maybe your style changes so much you know you won't get your money's worth of wear; or maybe you just don't care enough about brands.

For me, it's all of the above; so the odd times I do find myself in regular retail stores (not thrift stores), I usually head straight for the sale rack. And if I can't find something there, then see ya later, suckers.

So keep coming back every Friday (or every day {wink}) to see if something catches your eye!

1. Aqueous Vapor Tank by Anthropologie: $19.95 (was $78)
2. Chinese Laundry Nixon boot via Piperlime: $44.99 (was $69)
3. Goldtone Petals Ring by New York & Company: $19.95 (50% off in store per the B1G1 sale)
4. Pearl and Crystal Drop Earring via Target: $12.74 (was $14.99)
5. Gold Skinny Belt With Oval Golden Buckle by ByTheBelt: $13 (buy 3 get 1 free)
6. Jet Sweater Cape by Old Navy: $30 (was $34.50)
7. Straight Leg Jeans, Stardust Wash by New York & Company: $$19.95 (was $39.95)

It's Friday. I'm in Love. {With Color}

{1. Polaroid coasters by justnoey; 2. Ferm Living knitted poufs via sfgirlbybay; 3. Supergirl Party by Tortoise and the Hare; 4. Mid-century modern teak napkin rings via Apron Thrift Girl; 5. Pantone branded folding chairs via How About Orange; 6. Mighty Pelican letterpress 2011 calendar via Felt & Wire Shop}


Style Spot: Free Mid-Century End Table

Earlier this week I was at the local Goodwill shopping for this morning's Thrifty Thursday challenge, when I get a call from my husband:

The Hubs: "Hey, there's an end table in the alley behind your old apartment. Looks mid-century."

Me: "Well, get it!"

The Hubs: "I don't know. What are we going to do with it? Will you actually use it as an end table?"

Me: "Of course! And if it doesn't work we'll just put it back in the alley."

The Hubs: "No...you'll put it back in the alley. Once it gets inside my job is done."

Me: "Okay. Deal."

Poor guy, an eternal martyr for letting me bring home strays from the curbs and alleys of Los Angeles...and then fixing them. :)

Once we picked the table up, however, I saw why he was hesitant to get it. The top had somehow come off into two pieces, and I'm sure he knew that meant another repair job was in his near future. It looked to be a pretty simple fix, and I guess is the person who had it just didn't want to bother trying.

So, we took a trip down to the hubs's shop, where he glued one part, hammered another, and *POOF* we had a perfectly functional end table in the exact style we've been looking for.

Favorite part? The star bursts.

Favorite person? The hubs. :)

Thrifty Thursday Challenge: Bookstore II From Anthropologie

Two weeks ago I announced the next Thrifty Thursday challenge, setting the bar high by choosing a look from the constantly creative Anthropologie. It was the "bookstore ii" look, which is heavy on layering but still gives off that casual "I'm not really trying" feel. Let's see what happened!

the original look

Total cost of thrift-a-like: $15.43

Okay. Time to analyze.

The big difference is the outer white sweater. In the original it has long sleeves, here it's sleeveless, and I think that's okay. Since the black-and-white cardigan I found wasn't as bold of a print, I think it helps to have the sleeves visible. My sweater is a little heavier than Anthro's, but again, we've got to be creative with what's available!

I didn't find a chartreuse scoop-neck shirt, I did find one that was a V-neck, and given how low the neckline is of the cardigan, again, I think it works.

The cardigan, like I said, isn't as bold, which would be preferable, but it's at least the same color palette (minus the scarf).

What do YOU think? Passable? Or epic fail?

For the next Thrifty Thursday challenge, I'll be recreating this look from the latest issue of Real Simple, because I really love stripes right now.

Have an outfit you'd like to see recreated from thrifting? I'm up for the challenge! Just send me the photo, where it comes from and your name!


Building Up Your Basics

The classic black dress.
Last week for What's in Your Closet we finished up our miniseries on finding your personal style, and I'm dying to know if anyone added a new item to their wardrobe in the past seven days. If you have, I would love to hear about it!

At the end of the final chapter, I promised we'd have a crash course in what the "basics" are when it comes to building your wardrobe. The short answer is they are considered to be classic pieces, things that will stand the test of time and trends, and are very practical to a woman's everyday life.

The long answer I've pulled from the one-and-only Tim Gunn, advisor to the contestants on the show "Project Runway." I love Tim for various reasons, and his list of the "10 Essential Elements" any woman should have in their closet is really solid.

  1. Basic Black Dress: The basic black dress has been around for a long time and is often called the "Little Black Dress." It's true that shorter skirts on the basic black dress, when they hit you in the right place, can be more flattering than a long black dress.
  2. Trench Coat: The trench coat is one of the pieces that is both classic and currently a hot fashion item. Most any store sells this piece now. It is great for fall and you can pick it up in a wide range of lengths.
  3. Dress Pants: Although it doesn't say black, this is probably what you want to look for. Black is flattering on all figures and goes with everything.
  4. Classic Shirt: The white shirt is a definite classic, but it can also come in many different styles to make it look trendy and not dated. Find one that accentuates your best attributes and minimizes trouble spots. For example, if you have wide shoulders, stay away from large collars.
  5. Jeans: Everyone has a pair of jeans, but does everyone have a pair of jeans that make them look great? The wider leg, low-rise jean style has been popular, but now people are shifting to a narrower leg along with a higher waist, which eliminates the unflattering "muffin top" look.
  6. Any Occasion Top: Find something you look great in that can look respectable under a jacket but bring on the fun after hours.
  7. Skirt: If you need dress pants then you also need a skirt. A skirt is womanly and can be flirty or businesslike. Nowadays women do not wear many skirts or dresses, which makes a lot of them fall into a rut of dressing sloppily or like men. (See number 8.)
  8. Day Dress: Women also are not wearing as many dresses anymore. It was certainly liberating to go from the '50s when women wore dresses every day to wearing more practical pants for gardening, exercising and so forth. But the dress does not have to be abandoned altogether. They can be very flattering, and there is nothing wrong with "dressing up" for daytime.
  9. Jacket: A jacket does not have to be masculine. Find one with a proper, fitted shape. Women's jackets should follow the silhouette of a woman's body and accent the hourglass curve at her waist. It is also a perfect piece to put with the skirt or dress pants, and white shirt. Or make it casual with a pair of jeans.
  10. Sweatsuit Alternative: As mentioned before, women wear fewer skirts and dresses these days. But some women have taken casual to the extreme and spend days on end in sweatsuits. It is possible to be casual and comfortable without looking like a slob. Find a comfortable material (that's why this doesn't say jeans again – denim is not as comfortable as a nice soft cotton) that you would want to wear every day. It could be khakis, cords, a cotton dress or much more.
He doesn't really cover shoes so, for what's it worth, here is my two cents. 

I like for my shoes to be practical, meaning they can be worn with many different outfits depending on the season. And where you live also plays a big part. Out in California we can get by with wearing sandals of some sort for a good portion of the year, so it makes sense that they make up most of my shoe collection. But say you live someplace like Seattle, where it rains a lot; you're going to need a nice pair of rain boots.

I also like color into consideration. I've never been much of a fan of mixing brown and black together, so I make sure I have one of each shade when it comes to pumps and boots. For sandals I consider gold and silver to be the "brown" and "black," respectively. Think about the colors you wear most often and make sure you at least have the basic shade that complements it.

All this said, here's my suggestion for people who experience every season:
  1. Summer: a pair of gold sandals to serve your earth-toned/brown outfits. A pair of silver sandals to serve your black outfits or ones with bright solid colors. It also never hurts to have a good pair of wedges in either black, brown or white.
  2. Fall: a pair of brown boots and a pair of black boots. How high they go up all depends on your personal taste. Mine are mid-calf, but I'm really liking the ones that go just above your knee this year. I also suggest some closed-toe flats that you can wear to work or with jeans. If you like to wear heels to work, then make sure you have a pair of classic black pumps, and a pair of brown (classic meaning no frills or patterns and a simple 3-inch heel).
  3. Winter: Your fall shoes can pretty much transition into winter, except you'll most likely wear boots more, especially if you live somewhere where it snows. If you do, consider some snow boots, too.
  4. Spring: Not much to say for this season, other than to recycle your summer sandals and your flats from the fall.

{Source for Tim Gunn's Essentials: Suite101; image courtesy of the Deccan Chronicle}


Sustainable Style: Our Shop

Last week on the Apartment Therapy blog I spied these beautiful mango wood bowls (pictured above) sold by an online store called Our Shop. The owners are the same duo behind the graphic design agency WorkShop, and they've put together an inspiring assortment of creative and quirky things for creative and quirky people to buy.

I quickly got lost perusing their shop, and I was pleased to find that a lot of their products are made of either recycled or sustainable materials. But rather than ramble on about them, I'll let you take a look for yourself. :)

Another look at the mango bowls.

A larger mango wood serving bowl with beautiful grain.
The reason these bowls are so great is because you can literally use up every bit of the mango tree, and even after it's gone, it keeps on giving. According to the website, "Mango trees are initially grown for their fruit, but once the trees reach a certain size and age, they stop bearing fruit. It is then that the trees can be cut down and used to create wood products. The removal of the old trees makes space for farmers to plant new mango trees. This not only means that none of the wood is wasted, but offers a supplementary income to mango and wood farmers."

Pretty great, huh?

Our Shop also carries these adorable and graphically intriguing cards that are printed using vegetable inks onto 100% recycled uncoated board. Each one comes with a recycled envelope, and the cellophane wrapping it comes in is biodegradable!

Right in time for fall decorations are these bright and festive leaf door stoppers, which are made from recyclable material and come in a box made from recycled paper.

If you've got a thing for London and wild graphics, this tray — hand-crafted from high-quality Scandinavian birch from sustainable forests — features drawings by renowned Swedish illustrator, Maria Holmer Dahlgren, and shows bits of London life, raining cats and dogs, red route master buses, black cabs, Tower Bridge, London Wheel, Big Ben and more.

And, finally, I would love to cuddle up with these recycled wool pillows as the temperatures drop and our severely under-insulated apartment leaves us no choice but to bundle up! :)

Hope you've spied something special to give to a friend, family member or co-worker for the upcoming holiday season. And how great is it that these little beauties have such amazing stories that go along with them!

The Only Baked Ziti Recipe You'll Ever Need

That's right. This is hands-down the best recipe I've come across for baked ziti. I made it this past week since it seemed like such a nice complement to the rainy weather we've been having, and it lasted us two dinners and two lunches, which is great for your grocery budget.

It comes from the wonderful people at Cook's Illustrated, who test and test each recipe until they get it perfect, saving us the hassle. :) And what caught my eye about this version was the use of cottage cheese instead of ricotta. What? But it works, and it's delicious.

Baked Ziti


1 pound whole milk or 1% cottage cheese (see note)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 pound ziti or other short, tubular pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (see note)
8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)(see note)


1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the cottage cheese, eggs and 1 cup of the Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook, stirring often, until the pasta is just shy of al dente, 5 to 7 minutes.

Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander (do not wash the pot).

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and garlic in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup of the basil and the sugar, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Stir the cornstarch into the cream in a small bowl; transfer the mixture to the now-empty pot set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup of the tomato sauce, and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella, then stir to combine.

Add the pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.

4. Transfer the pasta mixture to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over the top.

Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake foe 30 minutes.

5. Remove the foil and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Let cool for 20 minutes.

Be sure to take a picture before your husband sneaks a bite...
Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

*Notes: The test kitchen prefers heavy cream, but whole milk can be substituted by increasing the cornstarch to 2 teaspoons and increasing the cooking time in step 3 by 1 to 2 minutes. Either whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella can be used, but avoid preshredded cheese, as it does not melt well. Do not use nonfat cottage cheese; it will break when baked.

Mid-Century Monday: DIY Atomic Clock Magnets

Good morning my dears, and happy Monday! How was your weekend? Get any thrifting, estate saling or rummaging in? I would love to hear about what you found! My find of the weekend was a vintage crystal punch bowl set. The bowl has a pedestal base, and the cups hang along the rim. It's exactly what I've been looking for, and I'm so excited to break it in!

I was also able to get some craft time in for Halloween decorations, and it was in that mindset that I came across today's Mid-Century Monday post, our first one involving a DIY project: atomic clock magnets via the How About Orange blog. They're made from bottle caps, designs printed on paper and Modge Podge, and they're super stylish!

Luckily, one of my friends faithfully gives me bottle caps — a big bag every couple months — because I like to think of different things they can be repurposed into. But if you don't have any lying around, it's a perfect excuse to have friends over, (responsibly) knock back some beers, and then you're ready to go! (The next day, of course. Crafting and drinking do not mix, kids.)

And if you're adept at using computer design programs, you can make your own graphics and use the same method. I'm already thinking of variations I can make and give as little presents for Christmas. I'll let you know how they turn out!

In the meantime, if you want to try your hand, click here for the full tutorial. While you're there check out her other projects, because she's got a knack for DIY.

{Images courtesy of How About Orange}


It's Friday. I'm in Love.

Okay, my dear readers. It's time for a little change. I decided last week that this week I'd be bringing in some permanent pinch hitters to the blog. What that means for today is I'm not really feeling Reel Inspiration anymore. Although, if I happen upon a movie whose style I love, it'll make a special appearance.

Instead, we're moving onto (hopefully) greener pastures, starting with this Friday series, where I'll be posting things I've come across this week that I...just...love. There are so many inspiring things out there, done by amazingly creative people, and it makes me happy.

{1. Edible cake icing sheet via Ticings; 2. Photo by Patrick Cline via Lonny; 3. Photo by Chris Chen for Have You Met Miss Jones via Oh Joy!; 4. Soft Cakey Pumpkin Cookies via Poppytalk; 5. Art by Alison Sahmel via Fine Artichoke; 6. Mi Mamie Hippie kitchen via Design*Sponge}


Halloween Template Round-Up

It's only 10 days now until the witching hour is here, and I'm so excited! We're having a small, somewhat impromptu get-together at our home with some friends, so I've been scouring the web for DIY projects, decoration and recipe ideas, and free templates. I've come across oodles of stylish tags, labels, garlands and more that you can print at home that are perfect for today's Thrifty Thursday post.

Last month I was introduced via Twitter to Matthew Mead, who is a celebrity lifestyle and entertaining expert. His site is crammed with downloadable goodies, but here are a few of my favs. Click here to see the rest of his printables.

Wicked labels.

Ghost garland.

Treat box.

Paper Crave is another great place for freebies. They've been tempting the cravings of paper nuts since 2006, and in 2008 they uploaded some great printables that are still available. You can go to their Halloween freebies page here. They also have their own roundup of freebies going, full of templates to download. Check out Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

Cute garland.

Illustrated labels.

Via the Twig and Thistle blog I came upon these super chic printables from Shauna Younge, a dessert table designer from Minneapolis. I especially love the tags for the brownie bites, which I will mostly like download for our little party. Get the links to download these freebies here.

Treat flag labels.

Candy bar wrappers.

Simple, last-minute invites.

Then there is always the fabulous Martha Stewart. Her site is a never-ending supply of ideas for the holidays. I have been on a silhouette kick while decorating house and downloaded the black cat. You can find a gallery of her Halloween templates here, here and here.

I love treat boxes, if you couldn't tell.

If we had stairs, I would do this in a heartbeat.

Great idea if yo have wall space that needs some spook.

Chic paper lanterns.

Great way to finish candy bags.

Lastly, I fell in love with these creepy and chic BOO blocks from the love&lace blog. You can find her Tutorial and BOO template here.

Yes, you do have to break out your crafty pants to make these work, but I know you can do it. You may have to buy some paper goods and supplies, but I can assure you it'll still be cheaper than getting stuff that's already finished.

If none of these suit your style, check out some of your favorite magazines and see if they have ideas or freebies on their site. Or just Google phrases like "free halloween templates."

Hope these leave you inspired to create a thrifty (but still stylish) Halloween!


Butternut Squash Risotto + Roasted Brussels Sprouts

On Monday night the hubs and I made our first fall-inspired dish of the season, a repeat recipe from last year. The risotto recipe comes from MSCHEF on AllRecipes, and the Brussels sprouts from the fabulous Ina Garten (i.e. The Barefoot Contessa) on Food Network.

It's only suppose to make 4 servings and 6 servings, respectively, but together they're so filling that we've been able to spread it out into 2 dinners and 1 lunch. And the flavor only gets better each day.

Butternut Squash Risotto


2 cups peeled & cubed butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/3 dry white wine
5 cups hot chicken stock (I used vegetable since I'm a vegetarian)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & ground black pepper to taste


Add just enough water to a large saucepan to cover the bottom. Insert a steamer basket. Place cubed squash in the basket.

Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow squash to steam until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and mash in a bowl with a fork.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until the onion begins to soften.

TIP: Have your husband on hand to come in right before you're about to add the rice to tell you that you've carefully measured out long-grain instead of Arborio. And yes, there's a big difference. Oops.

The right stuff.

Stir in Arborio rice.

TIP: What I've learned, and it's never let me down, is to cook the rice and onion until the edges of the rice grains become transparent. Then you know it's time to add the wine.

Once edges of rice are transparent, pour in white wine and cook, stirring constantly, until it has evaporated.

Stir in the mashed squash 1/3 of the hot stock. Reduce heat to medium. Cook and stir until the stock has been absorbed by the rice, 5 to 7 minutes.

TIP: I couldn't give you a risotto recipe without insisting on the following (and because I know my grandma will read this and she'll be disappointed in me if I don't mention it): Heat your stock in a saucepan to just below boiling before adding it to the rice. Not only does it help the flavor cook into the rice more, but adding cold broth can result in the centers of the rice being hard and uncooked.

Add half the remaining stock and continue stirring until it has been absorbed. Pour in the remaining stock and continue stirring until the risotto is creamy. Remove from heat, stir in Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

TIP: I also like to add a couple tablespoons of butter once everything is cooked. Gives is a punch of buttery flavor and adds some creaminess.

If you're still waiting on the Brussels sprouts, take some time off and take a picture of your favorite dog.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Pour them onto a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with more kosher salt and serve immediately.

Buon appetito!

{Images by Parismonia}
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