Thursday, December 31, 2009

What're you doing New Years?

We're such homebodies that even on a big night like New Year's Eve we prefer staying in to going out. For many, many years we spent NYE at my in-laws, a night that would always include a huge lobster dinner and the equivalent of a bottle of champagne per person. It would also include a rousing, slightly-tipsy game of TV Bingo played during Dick Clark's Rockin' NYE.

TV Bingo is an awesome game from the '70s that challenges you to match up the pictures on your playing card with images you see on TV. It's so, so fun (particularly when played after imbibing much champers!)...but when my graphic designer bro-in-law came into the family, it got a tad less fun because his sharp, trained eye picks up things at lightening speed, so he always wins before the rest of us even gets a chip down on our card. Darn him!

Last year we started a new tradition with our closest friends--dinner and a slumber party at their house. We went out to dinner last year, but since they now have a three-month-old, we're cooking in tonight. My bff and I have been excitedly planning our menu all week, and it includes:
  • a lovely cheese board and baguette
  • butternut squash soup for the first course
  • king crab legs with lots of butter, jasmine rice, and fennel slaw for the entree
  • creme brulee for dessert
YUM! I can't wait! I haven't had crab in years and years, so we'll see if I enjoy it or get grossed out.

The hightlight of last year's NYE was a rousing, slightly-tipsy game of Clue (are you picking up on a pattern here?). I have to tell you, Clue was a favorite among my cousins and me growing up, and they are a very cut-throat group of gamers, so I learned to be very, very good at Clue. The hubby and our friends all accused me of cheating last year, but the truth is that I'm just a very perceptive player (wink, wink).

Anyhoo, despite the nasty weather here, I'm so looking forward to a good meal tonight with some of my favorite people and then kicking their butts at some board games. I wish you all a very fun, very safe, very bubbly New Year's! See you Monday! xo

(via jeongyun)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Year in Review

jersey shore, august

I'm skipping ahead a little by starting with this picture, but I decided I had to start here because when I came to the pictures of our annual long weekend at the Jersey Shore I thought, dear readers, you might enjoy seeing a young man of Italian descent at the Shore who is neither 'roided up nor overly hair-gelled. However, please note that we go to Spring Lake--NOT Seaside Heights, so maybe that has something to do with it! BAH!

Anyhoo...back to chronological order...

hallway redo, january

We started 2009 off by painting and wallpapering our hallway, something I had wanted to do since we moved in five years ago. I was totally thrilled with how the grass cloth accent wall turned looked just like I imagined. Don't you love when that happens?

chili champ, january

Also in January we held our first annual Chili Cookoff with some friends, and I was totally shocked when my vegetarian chili won! It even beat out a Texas-style chili made by a real Texan!!!

brahler brew, february

In other culinary endeavors, Seth brewed his own beer for the first time--a bock that turned out sooooo deliciously!

mom and i make a jordan sandwich with a side of joe mac, march

In March I got to see my true loves, NKOTB, twice--the second time taking my sweet, beautiful mom to meet them for her 60th birthday. (I'm not embarrassed to say that after they reunited in 2008, I saw them seven times and met them four times. It was so, so fun to feel 13 again.)

front row at nkotb concert in syracuse, march

This night in particular was probably one of the best nights of my life--hands down--because...well...let's just say Joe McIntyre and I did a little bit of flirting! If the 31-year-old me could have gone back and told the 13-year-old me that that night was going to happen, she never would have believed it! I still can't and I lived it! ( you all know what a huge dork I am!)

veggie dogs at dogtown, march

We discovered Dogtown...the best hot dogs outside of New Jersey--and they serve veggie dogs, so I can indulge, too!!!

tailgating at the spectrum, april

We got to see Bruce (and tailgate) three times...

...and at the Philly show he did a cover of London Calling. E Street Band + The Clash = mind-blowing (to say the least).

garden expansion, may

Seth more-than-doubled the size of our garden and put up this lovely fence to keep out the deer, bunnies, turkeys, etc., etc., who share our backyard.

guest room redo, may/june

In May/June we had more fun with wallpaper, spending a couple of weeks taking down the paper in our guest room and completely redecorating it before my bff from college came to visit. The room is really lovely now (probably my favorite room in the house) and gave us a place to display all the vintage Bermuda stuff we'd been collecting since our honeymoon...

floating on the bay in bermuda, june well as the new things we purchased on our vacation there in June to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary.

me and my bff at her baby shower, june

Also in June I threw a baby shower for my bff, who was expecting her first. Isn't she soooo lovely and isn't her backyard amazing? But let me share a little baby shower fashion tip: If you're not pregnant, don't wear a maxi dress. Everyone thought I was pregnant, too! Whoops!

watkins glen, september 2009

Well, that's it for the review. I had a hard time coming up with highlights from the second half of '09 because 1. that's when I started blogging so you guys pretty much know anything exciting that's happened since then and 2. around that time our year got kind of craptastic.

As I went through these pictures, though, it was nice to be reminded that we had a lot of good times in 2009 to balance out the hard times and challenges. I'm looking forward to 2010 with excitement and promise--promise of much growth and fulfillment. Can't wait to share it all with you! xo

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On the Lookout: Vintage Choker

For about the last year I've been keeping my eye out for a really bold, graphic late-'70s, early-'80s choker. I'd like something I can wear almost every day to break out of my current obsession with the big earrings, giant cocktail ring combo that I've been rocking for at least the last three years.

I think this type of necklace would be a fun contrast to a soft blouse, plain sweater, or even jeans and a tee.

But the challenge is finding just the right one that is unique enough to make a statement, but versatile enough to go with everything.

I find that I'm repeatedly drawn to this same bib-style necklace, whether in plain gold or enamel. What I really wish is that I could find the exact above necklace in two-tone brushed gold and silver. I think I would never take it off.

(via Selection Vintage, Kokorokoko, Red Dolly Vintage, Anna Carina Vintage)

Green with Envy, Part II

Remember last week how I was crushing on some beautiful green clothes? Well, today I stumbled upon this adorable J. Crew tee. Green really, really isn't my color, but it's so tempting, you know? (Particularly when it's on sale with an extra 20% off!!!)

LBD Love

I'm such a sucker for ruffles and bows. Don't you think this would be the perfect LBD for sipping champagne and ringing in the new year with friends?


Monday, December 28, 2009

Blue Monday: Navy Stripes

As I think about refining my wardrobe and honing in on a go-to look, I find more and more stripes in my inspiration folder. I love how crisp a striped top looks, particularly done in navy instead of black. I think late-'60s, early-'70s-inspired preppy, softened with the occasional sweet detail like a pom-pommed hat or a bow, might be just the uniform for me.

(via we heart it and bloo 90 fashion)

White (belated) Christmas + Holiday Giveaway #4 Winner

Well, we didn't have a white Christmas, but we woke up today to about 4" of snow and more to come all week. It's so pretty out. I really wanted to stay home and play with the hubby (who gets this week off from work), but alas I'm at the office.

I hope everyone had a lovely, lovely holiday. We settled back in at home last night after our travels and promptly put two of our new Christmas gifts to work: a rice cooker and a juicer. I was feeling a little under-the-weather, so the hubby made my favorite cashew chicken recipe, with the most perfect, fluffy jasmine rice, and threw together an orange-carrot-ginger juice for me. Isn't he a love?

I hope Santa brought just what you wanted this year. I didn't really ask for anything, and I ended up getting so many things that I LOVE!!! My favorites are definitely a vintage seahorse pin with a jade belly and real film stills from Rear Window from the hubby; this adorable cardigan (who knew Chadwick's had such cute things? And for such a great price!), a print of a pretty Cape Cod porch, and awesome slippers from my parents; a second pair of my all-time favorite shoes (in black this time) and the aforementioned juicer from my in-laws; and some personalized stationary from Pink Loves Brown from the sis-in-law and her hubby. What were your favorite gifts?

And in other holiday business, the winner of my fourth and final holiday giveaway is:

Mariel of Preppy with a Twist

I still haven't heard from some of the other giveaway winners, so if you won, please send me your address so I can get your prizes off to you!

(via JAM 2.0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Cheer

It seems like everyone is heading out for their holiday vacays today, so I wish you all of you safe travels and a lovely time with your nearest and dearest. I intended to post more this of some of our past holiday decorations, etc., but--gee whiz!--time has gotten away from me!

Sadly, I have to work tomorrow (I know...right???), but after work I will be heading home to PA to my parents. The hubby heads of to his family in NJ tomorrow morning (yes--we do holidays's strange, but it works for us), so we're doing our presents tonight! Can't wait!!!

I'll be back on Monday with a recap of my 2009 year in pictures a la Caroline, No, (that girl had an awesome year!) and my usual nonsense. And...don't forget to enter my last holiday giveaway before Saturday night! xo

(via Sweet Home Style)

Green with Envy

I so wish green looked good on me...sigh.

(via redhedgingerbread vintage, STYLE CLICKER, and LOOKBOOK)

Midweek MidCentury: Swooning

This room is making me swoon...slate gray + tomato red? Yes, please!!!

(via Sweet Home Style)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Two places I'd love to spend Christmas (other than home, which is always the best)

I don't know where this house is actually located, but for some reason this picture conjures up images of an extravagant Christmas in Newport, and I'd totally be down with that. (FYI...just learned this week that the Newport mansions get even more dolled up for the holidays and they do special holiday tours...doesn't that sound like a fun way to spend your Christmas vacay?)

And don't you just love the idea of spending Christmas in a lighthouse?

(via Sweet Home Style and sskennel's photostream)

LBD Love

What a cheeky LBD!!!

(via belladivine's photostream)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Giveaway #4: Arbonne Sea Salt Scrub

About ten years ago the hubby got me my first tub of sea salt scrub for Christmas. It was from Origins, and I felt like it was one of the most luxurious gifts I'd ever received. I loved the glass jar, the citrus-y scent, and that the scrub inside was like a miracle for my winter-chapped hands. I've been a devoted salt-scrubber every winter since.

I still very much love the Origins scrub, but my friend sells Arbonne, so a couple of years ago, I switched to their version. It works just as well, and I like to get it in the Awake essential oil blend so that I can still enjoy a hint of citrus while I exfoliate. Plus, as much as I'd like to get a manicure every week, my budget doesn't think that's a very good idea, but I swear after I use the scrub my hands look like I just had a fresh mani.

All that said, by now you've probably guessed that for my fourth and final holiday giveaway, one lucky reader will receive a jar of Arbonne's Awake Sea Salt Scrub!

Here's how to enter:
  • Leave a comment below
  • Reblog or retweet for an extra entry
  • Do it by Saturday, December 26, at midnight! Winner will be announced Monday, December 28.
Good luck, ladies!

Shoe of the Day

Anyone know what genius designed this shoe? If so, please let me know so I can start sending him/her love letters. I've had this picture in my Tumblr likes file for a couple of weeks now, and I can't stop drooling over it!!!

(via shoelust)

Blue Monday: Blue Christmas

You knew I had to go there at some point, right?

(via melisdramatic)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Giveaway #3 Winner!

Thanks so much for everyone who entered this week's giveaway! The two winners, via, are:

Cindy from Hellcat Vintage
Joelle from The Owls are not What They Seem

I'll do my best to get your corsages to you before Christmas, girls...but make no promises knowing how unreliable the USPS is!

Monday will be my last holiday giveaway, so please stop by then and enter!

Foxy Friday

The hubby and I finally made it to see Fantastic Mr. Fox this week, and OH MY GOODNESS it was one of the cutest movies I've seen in a long time. Fabulous cast (Clooney! Streep! Schwartman!), with a lovely, uplifting story that's totally reaffirming for all us nonconformists out there, and adorable, old school animation. Seriously, go see this movie!!!

And the reality is, I'm pretty sure I'm going to like everything Jason Schwartzman does. I think he's hilarious and so, so cute. I think I have a major crush on him, and I'm now obsessed with the name Ash (the name of his character in this movie). (As an aside, please tell me you watched Bored to Death this fall if you have HBO? If not, get the dvd as soon as it comes out. Seriously. It's hands down the best thing Ted Danson has ever done, and the Schwartz is just darling.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Late to the Party

As is often the case with super-trendy items, I am frequently late to the party. Often my initial reaction to [insert trendy item here] is, "Ugh! That's everywhere! No way am I wearing that!!!" But there have been a few occasions when I've finally come around, seen the error of my ways and bought said super-trendy item.

Such is my current situation with leggings. When the trend hit--what 18 months ago?--I was all, " way! I wore leggings the first time around, circa junior high dances in 1990. I will not wear them again at 32!!!" But this fall, as I've begun to deeply appreciate clothes that stretch, my opinion of leggings has softened, and I started looking for a pair back in September or October.

But let me just say: If you have an inseam longer than 29" (mine is a whopping 34"), it's very hard to find a legging that isn't going to look like a capri and doesn't cost a lot. And I'm sorry...I'm really not ready to go there.

Here's where Newport News comes to the rescue with their new legging shop. They have 15 different styles, ranging from an awesome sequined style to a leather legging. Most are really reasonable ($19), and many come in three lengths--including a long that, weighing in at 31 1/2", will even accommodate my ridiculous inseam!

I'm torn between the snakeskin pair at the top, which would make me feel like the lovely E. over at District of Chic, or this basic black pair. Which would you choose?

Holly Hobbie Christmas

Wow! I can't believe I went two whole days without posting! It's been such a crazy and exciting few days. Hopefully I can share more about it soon!!! of my favorite parts about the holidays is getting out my collection of Christmas books from when I was a little girl. Two of my favorites--hands down--are Holly Hobbie's Christmas Book and Holly Hobbie's The Night Before Christmas (my parents and I still read this version every Christmas Eve!). Something about Holly Hobbie's art is so sweet and captivating. I can totally picture myself frolicking in that gingham-clad world.

This photo totally reminded me of a Holly Hobbie house. Doesn't it seem like the perfect place to spend Christmas?

(via My Christmas)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Giveaway #3: Felt Holly Corsage

You guys...I'm so, so excited about this week's giveaway because I actually made it myself!!! That's right, the queen of non-craftiness has actually been quite crafty for the last week (I've found it's a great distraction, and I've needed a lot of distraction!)!

I've always loved vintage holiday corsages, so when I saw these in this month's issue of MS Living, I just knew I had to make one. I've subsequently made a lot more than just one and am so happy to be giving two away to two lucky readers!

Here's how to enter:
  • Leave a comment below
  • Reblog or retweet for an extra entry
  • Do it by Thursday, December 17, at midnight!
Good luck!

Blue Monday: Blue Dress + Brocade Coat

This outfit is so quirky, but I just LOVE everything about it...from the hat, to the unexpected gray sock/peeptoe combo, to that incredible gold brocade coat. What's great is that each piece on it's own is really quite classic, but her combination just completely reinvents them. I'm always amazed by that (hello, like, everyone The Sart photographs!). Plus, I feel like I'm too old to dress quirkily anymore, so looks like this one make me a tad wistful.

In other Monday news, we successfully babysat on Friday night, then I spent the weekend being marginally unproductive, except for doing a little crafting and finishing a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mystery (whew! that was some heavy reading!), and now, for a variety of reasons, it's a super-tense week at Chez Brahler, so I'm glad we had a quiet relaxing weekend.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Merry Christmas (and Happy Hanukkah), baby!

This weekend is all about babies for me. Tonight we are babysitting my bff's little 3-month-old son, and we're so, so excited! It's been a long time since either of us has done any babysitting, so it'll be an adventure (no pun intended...okay, maybe just a little!). (Man...I apologize for all the references to that movie lately!)

On Sunday, I am attending a baby shower for another friend, which means tomorrow I need to do some shopping for a gift. I'm so lame in that I give everyone the same baby gift: a pair of Robeez (I'm obsessed!), a children's book, and a little something special for the mother-to-be (usually one of these Stella & Dot necklaces). I never shop off the person's registry, which I'm starting to feel guilty about. I feel like it's rude or something. What do you do--shop off registries or get creative?

I hope you all have festive weekends planned! An extra special wish for a Happy Hanukkah to anyone observing that lovely holiday! Check back Monday for Holiday Giveaway #3 (I'm super, super excited about this one!!!) and a few of my favorite dip recipes to help you figure out what to bring to all those holiday parties next weekend. xo

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