Friday, September 6, 2013

Styling for Early Fall with Edit by Lauren and Harman Ebner Finery

Remember Christmas morning as a kid, when you woke up early to run to the tree and spy the goodies peeking beneath the branches?  I felt like that this morning as I checked my Instagram feed to find a gem of a link from Lauren Lefevre of the beautiful blog Edit by Lauren.  A prolific stylist and all-around super person, Lauren created four different looks around three Harman Ebner Finery clutches from the most recent collection...and I had goosebumps when I saw them.  Goose. Bumps.

My goal when designing HEF clutches is for them to be endlessly stylish and practical while toting your necessities.  I'm absolutely over-the-moon about how Lauren styled the clutches to show just that.  I especially love how she incorporated pieces just right for our early Fall days still filled with sunshine, but tempered with a bit of crisp breeze.  Longer length sleeves and hemlines, as well as close-toed shoes, lend a hand in prepping for Fall.

I encourage you to wander over to the Edit by Lauren blog and check out her amazing photos and advice.  (*Readers will also receive a 25% discount on all HEF clutches with the coupon code LAUREN!)

Thank you for your inspiration, lovely Lauren!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Renewal (and Fashion Friday)

Hello's me, your long-lost/fair-weather blogger.  Good grief, four months is quite an absence and yet I feel like it's gone by in a flash.  Like a shooting star with a tremendous arch.  These past four months have seen some ups and downs.  I'm immensely excited that it's the first day of March, though.  Spring is the ideal time for a fresh perspective.  Since the beginning of January though, I've known this was to be my year of re-focus my lens and start fresh from a new vantage point.  And while I've been aiming for the right shot (to continue with my "camera" analogy), I've simply forgot to post.  Until now.

Without trivializing the marvelous complexities of personal renewal, my inspiration was tapped after a fashion project...namely a pair of heels in need of a second chance.  Last January (2012), while in Las Vegas for the Miss America Pageant, I wore a brand new pair of blue suede heels to a luncheon.  Every heel-wearer worth her salt has taken the opportunity to slip said pair of heels off while dining, as the tablecloth typically provides the perfect shade for a brief tootsie respite.  When I sat down to dine, I shed one of my heels to stretch my toes.  To my dismay, I felt a patch of liquid beneath my foot and slight panic set in.  Sure enough, the restaurant's carpet had been freshly cleaned that morning, meaning dampness was inevitable.  Upon closer inspection of my new shoes, the liquid had stained the suede.  Double disappointment at my carelessness and the ruin of a pair of heels that would have made Elvis proud.

I suddenly wondered if I could replace the heels.  And just like that, (the sister outlet site of answered the call.  Amazingly, I was able to snag the last pair in my size of the beloved blue suede heels...for 70% off what I originally paid.  The heavens parted and the angels sang.

But what to do with the identical pair of perfectly wearable, but hopelessly stained heels?  They couldn't be consigned and I wouldn't dare pawn them off on a friend.  Perhaps I could repurpose them?  And then I spied these Chanel beauties on the feet of a celebrity...


My quest to repurpose the blue suede babies started with my own supply of leather paint (check out the painted leather handbags I have for sale in my shop), a bottle of black suede dye and painters tape.  I set forth armed with this tutorial from one of my favorite blogs (recall this necklace project from the same blog).  It turned out to be a messy endeavor (expected), but WELL worth it.  I got exactly the result I had hoped for...and a newer pair of new heels.

Amazing what a little renewal can do for your soul and your soles.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Fearless Hero: Caitlyn's Story

The mere mention of cancer strikes fear into the hearts of most within earshot.  An initial fear almost paralyzing; one driven by the unknown and the mystery that swaths what we truly know about the disease. The human condition knows much of fear.  We battle it on a daily basis, especially as we navigate a world racked with heart wrenching pain, suffering and sorrow - circumstances we can't explain and horrors we can't begin to understand.  There is a wrinkle in the fabric of fear, though; a flaw or "point of fatigue" where it's strength is easily hope. Powerful, mighty, enduring hope.

Hope is the true antidote to fear. Or the light that rips through frail fibers revealing fear's unnecessary presence in our lives. It fuels joy and builds faith.  God's promise in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) illuminates the evidence of hope in our lives: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In the presence of cancer, hope should be wielded like a sword, and I know one such warrior who understands precisely how to swing it.

She stands a smidge over five feet tall, but has the countenance of a seven-foot-tall general at the front lines of battle…as well as the delicate grace of woman who truly understands the beauty and frailty of life.  Her name is Caitlyn, and she is a beautiful young mother to three bouncing boys, as well as a wife to her loving husband, a musician and former English teacher, devoted daughter, caring friend, and Stage IV cancer patient.  Caitlyn was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at the age of 27, after watching her mother battle the disease and subsequent metastasis to other areas of her body for much of her young life.  She discovered a lump in her breast while breastfeeding her third son, and was shortly thereafter wrestling with a doctor’s orders to wean her newborn son and begin aggressive treatment immediately.

She knew all too well the ravages of cancer while witnessing her mother’s decade-long battle with breast and ovarian cancer.  Caitlyn’s mother, Christina, was a pillar in our small community; a woman admired and respected by all blessed to know her…and especially to hear her angelic voice.  She was teeming with musical gifts!  Christina’s unwavering commitment to her family, church and community earned her a reputation as a revered performer, teacher, mentor and leader…all the more solidified as she continued to heartily serve throughout her battle with cancer.  With or without her gleaming blonde locks, Christina’s inner and outer beauty was a beacon of God’s love.  Those in her presence couldn’t help but feel His powerful grip on her life.  She demonstrated true faith: an unshakable acknowledgement that God always gives us a plan and a purpose, even if we don’t fully understand the trials and tribulations that accompany.  Christina lived her life’s purpose and honored her Savior with verve and vivacity, shaking the ground with her ability to crush fear with hope.  She proudly wore a necklace emblazoned with the word “fearlessness” on it, as a badge of honor knowing full well that she embodied what it meant to face cancer without fear.

Caitlyn’s life-course was altered immeasurably in just 14 short days.  One week after her diagnosis, Caitlyn’s mother passed away.  The following week, Caitlyn underwent a double mastectomy and began chemotherapy.  Stories like this make any and every heart grieve; for no one person should ever bare the weight of so much suffering and sorrow…and yet Caitlyn was left to endure it, alongside her equally heartbroken family.

But Caitlyn’s story does in no means end there.  A new chapter began when she chose to carry her mother’s torch by leading her church’s worship service two days after her mother’s passing – a powerful and profound acknowledgement that One had already endured a similarly horrendous heavy weight of suffering and sorrow for all of humanity, and given her hope and future.  Her faith in Jesus Christ has given her the strength to carry on her mother’s legacy: to fight cancer with every ounce of hope in her being, and demonstrate to others – especially those three precious little boys of hers – that fear has no place in her cancer treatment.  In fact, Caitlyn now wears her mother’s “fearlessness” necklace as a constant reminder of her choice to face cancer without fear.  She is a fearless hero, navigating the murky, muddy waters of surgery, treatment and everyday life with an astonishingly bright beam of hope to light the way.

Let us strive, beyond our human weakness and proclivity for fear, to follow Caitlyn and Christina’s example and live a life overflowing with hope.  In supporting our fearless heroes, we add wattage to their luminosity…a brilliance we desperately need in a world too often stricken with fear.

In honor of Caitlyn, Christina and those revered during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’ve paired with my friend Carrie Johnson, founder and owner of Style Me Perfect, to support our local Sky Lakes Cancer Center for the instillation of a new Linear Accelerator radiation therapy machine, desperately needed to provide cutting-edge and life-saving therapy to patients just like Caitlyn.  Our businesses – Style Me Perfect and Harman Ebner Finery – are holding a two-day fundraising event to provide support for Sky Lakes Cancer Center’s “Be a Hero” Campaign; raising awareness of the heroism of community members battling cancer and bolstering their treatment with the best and most effective cancer-fighting technology they so greatly deserve. 

Throughout today, Friday, October 26th and tomorrow, Saturday, October 27th, 30% from the sales of all styling packages purchased through Style Me Perfect and all limited-edition “Caitlyn” clutches handcrafted by Harman Ebner Finery will be donated to Sky Lakes Cancer Center in Caitlyn’s name – and in tribute to her enduring heroism.

We invite you to honor the loved ones and fearless heroes in your life by joining with us to support Sky Lakes Cancer Center.  Together, let’s continue to stamp out fear with HOPE!

{Caitlyn being styled by Carrie Johnson, founder and owner of Style Me Perfect. 
Purchase your styling package here and 
support Caitlyn and other patients treated at Sky Lakes Cancer Center!}

{Caitlyn with her namesake clutch by Harman Ebner Finery,
emblazoned with the word “Fearless” throughout the interior.}

{All photos are the gift of Kelly Armijo from Armijo Designs.}

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Outdoor Movie Night

I'm an August baby; born in the dog days of Summer when lasting rays of sunshine delight during the day and cool breezes swing at night.  It's truly my favorite time of year in part because it seems to last forever.  Last August my family tried something new and hosted a small outdoor movie night, which was perfect for soaking up those last drops of Summer before the kidlets headed back to school.  This morning I was fondly reminded of that night while assembling school supplies for next week's start of the school year.  

It was the perfect little end of Summer celebration and I hope to carry it on as a tradition.  The eaves of our old farmhouse's porte-cochère provided just the right space for a movie screen, while two pairs of friends brought a movie projector and beautiful smiles.  We provided well-worn quilts to lay on the lawn, as well as a grilled dinner and plenty of popcorn.  A string of vintage bulb lights provided just the right ambiance and plastic burger baskets and paper liners from Crate & Barrel held our goodies securely.  When the sun finally settled into its resting place for the night, we sat back to enjoy Rodgers & Hammerstein's The Sound of Music under the stars.  It was magical...and I'll remember it forever.

{BIG thanks to marvelous friend Kelly Armijo for capturing the evening with her delicious photos!}

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Add just a dash of neon...

What a colorful summer this is shaping up to be!  My break from writing the last few months has been the result of a handful of exciting projects and travels...please forgive my absence, but I promise to share details in the weeks to come.  Cross my heart.

I'm dubbing this the "summer of inspiration" to reflect the many things seemingly popping up around me that cause my imagination to many inspirational people sharing their talents, so much bloom in nature and adjacent growth in my own family, such a paintbox of colors currently hitting their stride in fashion, and an unlimited number of ways to improve our lives and those around us in the world.  This inspiration has fueled my need to if I need more fuel.  My hubs quietly observes me transform open surfaces in our home into a whirling dervish of craft space bits at a time, but never blows the whistle to stop.  He's such a patient fella.

I never thought I'd be transfixed by neon colors the way I was back in 1987, sporting my neon green bike shorts with a side-knotted tee.  And while I'm grateful to say I won't be re-visiting that outfit again, I am amazed at the ways a pop of neon can update a neutral palette.  I'll admit I was slow to embrace the neon trend of SS12, given my past history (sends a shudder), but as I've watched others - especially the slew of talented fashion bloggers on the web - seamlessly add brights to their wardrobes, I happily jumped back on the bandwagon.

One such blogger, who I find immensely creative and just flat out cool, is Geneva from A Pair and A Spare.  She's an Australian now living in Hong Kong, churning out fashionable DIY like no one else. About a year ago, she posted a project where she had transformed a thrifted necklace into a trendy treasure with a few coats of neon spray paint.

{Find Geneva's project here}
I LOVE, love, love this idea and decided to give it a try last month.  I sought out a vintage rhinestone necklace from one of my fav local shops for a little over $20.  Armed with a can of neon pink spray paint, I took an afternoon to give the necklace a few good coats, waiting until one coat had fully dried before applying another.

Imagine my delight when the finished product turned out just as I had hoped...super bright and just right for layering!  I gave it a go when judging the Miss New Mexico Pageant, pairing it with another vintage rhinestone necklace and a new neon yellow love from Bauble Bar, atop a RACHEL Rachel Roy dress.

Now I say, "Bring on the neon!"  Besides, a dash along the neckline is far safer than trying to make the bike shorts fashionable again.

Enjoy a colorful summer!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Celebration of Mothers

Women know
The way to rear up children (to be just)
They know a simple, merry, tender knack
Of tying sashes, fitting baby shoes,
And stringing pretty words that make no sense,
And kissing full sense into empty words.

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In celebration of mothers near and far...thank you for the many ways you make the world go round.  There is no greater honor than motherhood.  It is a noble quest to instill good sense into your children, all the while enveloping them in a thousand kisses and hugs.  While I know I often fail at being "the perfect mother," my prayer is that I consistently demonstrate to my children that there is great worth in actively trying to be a better, kinder, more compassionate, more patient, appreciative and faith-filled person.  My own sweet mother modeled this so beautifully over the years and inspires me still.  There is so much joy in the journey of motherhood.  Let us dedicate today - a day devoted to all women everywhere committed to caring for others - to the simple joys of being simply grateful.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fashion Friday: DIY Printed Scalloped Shorts

{Photo by Kelly Armijo}
If there is one thing I've learned to appreciate living in an agricultural town, it's snow.  Snow means moisture and moisture means water for crops come Summer.  We rejoice with snow in the hopes of a good harvest.  But alas, this time of year makes me yearn for real Spring, filled with a little more warmth and tulips and rain boots instead of snow boots.  We won't actually see real Spring until June.  My lawn had a light dusting of snow this morning, as it did yesterday and the day before...{sigh}.

Spring trends this year (as it seems every year) are ripe with bright colors and gorgeous pastels, and I keep collecting little lovelies to pull out when the time is right.  Oh, don't get me wrong though...I haven't been afraid to swath myself in bright citron or pale pink in spite of the temperatures, but I'm aiming to take a bigger bite into the season's fashions when the snow officially melts.  Which brings me to prints...the PERFECT solution to transitional dressing for those of us patiently awaiting warmth, tulips and rain boots.  Since prints often incorporate more than one color, and can also be anchored by other neutral pieces, they usher in a Spring feeling long before the snow has melted.

I've had my eye on printed shorts in particular, since late January when Spring designs started popping up.  It feels so fresh to switch things up a bit in my usual routine of prints on top rather than below.  I'm not a tall girl, nor do I have slender legs that could give the illusion of height (at the right angle), therefore I've always adhered to a personal rule of solids on bottom and shorts that don't draw attention to what the good Lord and my mama gave me - namely hips that were made for birthin' babies (of which my husband seems proud).  In an effort to restore confidence in my unique figure instead of trying to hide it like I've done for a lifetime of reading fashion magazines and pining for a model's body, I'm not going to shy from the printed shorts I love this season.  Fashion is 10% style and 90% confidence.  True dat.

Big labels like Prada and Miu Miu have made cute, quirky prints a mainstay...causing fashionistas everywhere to run wild in the direction of cat prints and little images of lipstick and purses.  What makes these prints so desirable is how they are crafted into traditional/retro shapes, looking cutting edge and original together.  Honey, I've never met a retro style I didn't like...especially in a cute print.   I've been particularly fawning over two prints, one in a dress and one in shorts, from luxury designer site

Can these be any cuter?!?  The prices {ouch!} just don't work for my budget, though.  So, I decided it was time to be resourceful and just DIY it.  A friend and I recently joked that when we can't get our hands on a particular style, it's time to DIY and be done.  I love this philosophy and it forces me to really appreciate what's possible when you put your mind (and hands) to something.

Armed with extra yardage of an adorably bird-printed Kooka twill (which I've been saving for "just the right project" for 3 years now) and a FABULOUS pattern from Australian pattern maker (and fellow Etsy shop) Pattern Runway, off I went on a quest for printed shorts.  I chose Pattern Runway's "Sweet Scalloped Shorts" pattern because I loved the slightly retro feel of the shorts, with a great (and flattering) little scallop feature on each leg and a high waist.  It seemed perfectly suited to my printed Kooka fabric and evoked the same feel as the two prints I loved from Miu Miu and Paul & Joe Sister.

The pattern was a gem, too...easy to follow and beautifully detailed.  It was emailed to me in a PDF file upon purchase, which I printed out and taped together atop my coffee table.  Such a snap.  My curious daughter helped me cut out the pieces. 

Once the pieces were cut to my size, I made a muslin to be sure of the fit.  Glad I did, too...along with my birthin' hips, God gave me a long torso and I had to adjust the fit ever so slightly to accommodate accordingly.

Along with changes to the rise, I also decided to add surprise fabrics to the pockets and the waistband...just for the fun of it.  I found a fat-quarter tucked in my pile of pink fabrics with a crazy cool fish pattern in a complementary tone to the little pink cheeks of my birds.  I used a Michael Miller dotted cotton for the inner waistband.  It was a personal touch to a personalized project!  Additionally, I omitted the welt back pockets as shown in the pattern simply because I don't like/need extra attention on my backside. (Have I mentioned what God gave me?)

To my amazement and delight, the shorts turned out exactly as I had, quirky and slightly retro.  They are an antidote to the snow flurries around me, offering a hint of Spring and hope for the Summer!  At the moment, I'm pairing them with opaque tights, but I know it won't be (too) long before I'll be wearing them with bare legs and sandals.

Cheers to what God really gave us...the ability to create and make due with what we have.   Here's to a Spring blossoming with new life in creativity, acceptance and uniqueness!

{Top: Ben Sherman, Jacket: Alexander McQueen, Necklace: Vintage, Earrings: Anthropologie, Ring: Vintage Button,
Sunglasses: Chanel, Tights: DKNY, Shoes: DSW, Clutch: Anthropologie}

-Photos and collage by Kelly Armijo-