Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  We have some wonderful friends coming in to town to celebrate with us.  They used to live across the street and we miss them major.  It'll be a great day and I hope you have similarly wonderful plans.

Last year I wrote this about what I was planning on wearing and loved the wrap sweater and silky pants I chose. This year, I've chosen skinny black jeans, black riding boots, and a bright silky top (pictured below). Since we're hosting, I'll be super comfortable on my feet all day and I love the toughness of the boots mixed with the ruffles of the top. Plus, the sleeves are elbow length so they'll stay out of my way while cooking.
One of the reasons I chose the jeans is outlined in this newsletter- Holiday Help Part 1.
I wrote it for the clients we have the pleasure of health coaching and thought I would share it with you since tips for not gaining weight during the holidays are usually welcome by everyone. There's an incredibly inspiring before/after shot included.

This has been a wonderful year with so many things to be grateful for...
...my amazing husband and three angel daughters who are my whole light and life.
...a happy and healthy year. 
...our happy home full of everything we need and so much of what we want, even though it's a little more crowded than last year (toys breed at night!)
...for our incredible trip to Seoul and wonderful parents and sister who kept my girls happy and safe.
...for the joy we find in the "regular old daily life."
...for the land of the free and home of the brave, even with our current struggles.
...for our Heavenly Father and his Son who sacrificed everything for us.
_For you, I wish a gratitude-filled day tomorrow.
May your gravy be smooth and your potatoes not lumpy.
May everything look as good as it tastes, and may you enjoy in moderation.
Over-stuffed tummies are not stylish.
May you be the perfect cool-under-pressure hostess or the guest everyone wants to invite again next year.
- Happy Thanksgiving -
 
 
Party season is upon us!  And where there are parties -
there are cocktails!  But first...
I am starting this post with a VERY clear disclaimer.  The following information is NOT intended to sound like you should LOOK like you're drinking alcohol.  I don't drink alcohol. Never have, never will.  I hope that you'll see the intention of this post is to:
a) help you have more fun at parties where cocktails are being served
b) NOT be the frumpy person wandering around with the can of Diet Coke in her hand and c) be an influence for good.

In my many years as a business road warrior I was subjected to a lot of happy hours.
A lot.  There were many, many, many client dinners and conference parties.  I don't drink but a lot of business is done over drinks so I had to come up with a strategy to deal with all these social drinking moments and I found one that worked very well.  When it was suggested to meet over drinks and discuss whatever project we were working on, I'd always offer to buy the first round.  (A corporate credit card is a thing of beauty!) It put me in a sort of power-position right from the start and allowed me to join in, even though I wasn't "joining in."  I was the leader at the beginning, instead of the girl hanging back from the bar (and the business!) with the can of Diet Coke. 
I rarely ran into a client or colleague who was drinking just to get drunk. They always ordered savvy, sophisticated drinks and I would ask why they chose that particular libation.  They knew I wasn't drinking and they had a good time sharing their knowledge and preferences.  Let me just tell you, the world of fine liqueurs is fascinating! 
The scotch's and whiskey's alone are mind boggling.  

For a long time I was stuck in the Shirley Temple rut.  I love how a Shirley Temple tastes, but it got boring pretty quickly.  I added Club Soda with a Twist, but still... pretty boring.  So I started hunting down new virgin cocktails to order and this post is to introduce those favorites to you.  I've also given you the recipes so you can make them at home. 
But before I do, let me share with you a fascinating thing that happened on these occasions. Since I was often the first one ordering the drinks, I made it "ok" for others in the party to order non-alcoholic drinks.  It was always a pleasant surprise when I'd order a virgin-whatever and others would say, "That sounds good. I'm not in the mood to drink tonight."  It's pretty easy for us non-drinkers to refuse alcohol.  Not so easy for drinkers in front of their peers who know they drink.  Just one person doing it first made it "acceptable" for others to do the same.  (hence the "influence for good.") It was nice. 
And now... on to the fun stuff!
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Shirley Temple
6 ounces ginger ale
1 1/2 tsp. grenadine
Garnish: orange slice and/or maraschino cherry

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Cinderella
Ginger ale + Lemon juice + Orange juice + Pineapple juice + Grenadine syrup

You can tell the bartender "Heavy on the (whatever flavor you like best)." I prefer heavy on the pineapple.


A few tips for ordering:
  1. Know your ingredients.  An inexperienced bartender may not be familiar with the name of the mocktail you're ordering but can probably whip it up if you say, "Oh, it's X with a splash of Y and Z."
  2. Have a backup.  If the bartender doesn't have the ingredients for a particular drink, know what you're going to ask for instead.  I default to a simple Shirley Temple or Club Soda with a Twist, rather than play try-your-luck with 10 different drinks. 
  3. Check the house specialties. Some bars and restaurants pride themselves on creativity and may have a special house mocktail.
  4. Nicely reiterate you want it virgin or non-alcoholic.  You never know if your bartender knows or heard you, especially in a noisy room or if you are ordering through a cocktail waitress.
  5. Keep your "You don't drink?" answer simple.  This isn't the time for a sermon or soap box lecture.  A friendly, short, "Nope. I don't drink." served with a smile will suffice. If the conversation goes further (you may have someone very interested in why you don't drink) feel free to expound but remain very aware of the tone of your conversation. 
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Virgin Mary (Virgin Bloody Mary)
Ideal if you're not in the mood for a sweet fruity drink.

3 ounces tomato juice or V-8
3 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 tsp. Tabasco (more to taste)
1 tsp. lime juice
Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
Garnish: cilantro sprig, celery stick, lime wedge, or pickle!

Pour all ingredients over crushed ice. Stir, garnish, and serve.


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If you're an iced tea drinker you'll enjoy this one. I make a killer version with cherry vanilla herbal tea and raspberry lemonade.

Arnold Palmer
1 part iced tea
1 part lemonade
Sugar, to taste
Garnish: lemon, mint, or a slice of kiwi

Pour iced tea (sweetened or not) and lemonade over ice; stir and garnish. To make it with the fancy layers, pour the lemonade over ice first, then slowly add the iced tea.


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Winter Warmer

3 parts pear nectar
1 part cranberry juice
A big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Garnish: lemon and cinnamon stick

Pour the pear nectar, cranberry juice, and dash of lemon juice over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a glass. Pierce a perfect round lemon slice with a cinnamon stick and add to the glass.


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Faux Kir or Virgin Kir Royale
(pronounced k-ear. I've been pronouncing it wrong!)

1 tsp. raspberry syrup or grenadine
6 oz. sparkling cider, chilled
Garnish: fresh raspberries

Put a teaspoon of syrup in a champagne flute, add the sparkling cider, and float several raspberries on top.


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Mock Mojito Fizz without the fog

4 or 5 sprigs of fresh mint
1 lime
1 oz. simple syrup
6 to 8 oz. soda water
Garnish: lime wedges and mint sprigs

Muddle* the mint (reserve one sprig for garnish) with the simple syrup in the bottom of a tall glass. Add ice cubes. Squeeze half of one lime into the glass, reserving the other half for garnish (slice it into three or four wedges). Top with soda water. Stir, drop in lime wedges, and decorate with the last sprig of mint. *"Muddle" means smash it up with the back of a spoon.


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Sophisticated Lady

6 half-inch slices of peeled cucumber
dash of salt
6 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. simple syrup
Juice squeezed from half a lime
Garnish: salt and sugar, cucumber slice

Mix a teaspoon each of salt and sugar in a saucer or shallow bowl. Moisten the rim of a wine or martini glass and press the rim into the salt-sugar mix. Add ice to the glass. In a separate glass or bowl, muddle the cucumber with a sprinkle of salt. Add that to a shaker of ice, along with the cranberry juice, simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake well and pour into the prepared glass.


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Baby Bellini

2 oz peach nectar
chilled sparkling cider

Pour the peach nectar into a champagne flute. Slowly add the sparkling cider to fill glass.

I skipped the frozen drinks because those aren't often served at a cocktail party and they're pretty self-explanatory. Most everybody knows they can order a virgin version of a daiquiri, pina colada, or margarita.  I also skipped the near-beer because... ewwww.

And when I say it'll help you have more fun, it's because you'll get to enjoy and sample things you normally wouldn't.  You can get a Diet Coke any old time but few non-drinkers  keep the fixings for a fun cocktail on hand.  After this, however, maybe you'll keep Rose's Grenadine or Sweetened Lime Juice stocked in your pantry. Makes any dinner party or simple dinner with your hubby much more unique! It'll kick your traditional spaghetti up to a whole new level.  It's something about sipping sweet drinks from pretty glasses.  You'll wind up toasting each other, you'll play footsie under the table, you'll let the dishes wait...
 
 
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I'm a little behind on posting this week.  I got back from Bloggy Boot Camp with a laundry list of updates and tweaks I want to make to the site and have been trying to get some of those done.  But for the next several days, life will slow down around here.  There will be delicious food, quiet time at home, snow!, and lots of gratitude.

It sounds a little Pollyanna but everyone has something to be grateful for. 
As for me, I couldn't possibly be more grateful for my wonderful husband and three adorable daughters.  For our happy home full of everything we need and so much of what we want. For the extended arms of our loving families.
For the good times we have daily and even for some of the struggles. 
They refine us and make us stronger. 
And more appreciative.
For my proud-as-a-peacock-to-be-American country, and for my Germany that will always hold a huge part of my heart. For the awe-inspiring wonder that is this Earth.
For my Heavenly Father, his Son, and all that they have blessed me with.
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For you, I wish a gratitude-filled day tomorrow.

May your turkeys roast perfectly and your stuffing not be dry.

May everything look as good as it tastes.

May you be a stylish and not frazzled hostess, as I addressed last year.

Or may you be the kind of guest who everyone wants to invite again next year.

And may you AVOID the insanity of Black Friday. (Mob shopping is not Stylish shopping!)

 
 
Whew!  It's been a busy week and my style blogging has suffered.  There's a plethora of information coming your way in the next few days but since we ticked over into October over the weekend, there's something very important we need to attend to.
The Holiday Sweater Oath.
Or more aptly put, the ANTI-Holiday Sweater Oath.
So click the ugly sweater below and take the pledge!!
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Holiday Sweater Oath
 
 
As I was brushing my teeth last night I was thinking about yesterday's post.  I suddenly remembered an article in a recent InStyle magazine about boudoir style for every day and how it translated to a comfortable outfit if you are the hostess. 

Hmmmm... an intriguing option, to say the least.  Items usually reserved for the bedroom taking a turn on the catwalk of your kitchen?  Could easily go wrong but done right, could be quite cool.   
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Now, we're not talking your terry cloth bathrobe here. 

And nothing longer than knee length, either. 

Here are 6 key points to make it a success:
  • Use just one piece.  The boudoir element can be either top or bottom and should be paired with a distinctly non-lounge wear item.
  • Avoid anything too sheer.  Yes, you could put a completely see-through top over a t-shirt but you'll lose the elegance of the outfit. Think silk, satin, lace, ruffles, cashmere and just a hint of sexy or cozy.
  • Avoid cutesy "pajama prints" and colors.  You know... strawberries and kisses, lipstick pink, "Victoria's Secret" writing, animals, feathers, snowflakes, etc. Choose solid colors or menswear prints like pinstripes and plaid.
  • Keep hair and makeup simple.  Smoky eyes and bedroom-tousled hair will take this look from elegant to "What were you doing before we arrived?"  Not quite the vibe you're wanting to put out there.
  • Watch your proportions!  Team up silky pajama pants with a trim top.  A ruffled cardigan with jeans or khakis.  Teeter-totter!
  • Don't restrict it to home.  This romantic style works great for date night!
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I naturally went straight to Victoria's Secret for some examples. Took about a nanosecond to find inspiration.

I have a red wrap cardigan almost exactly like this that would work great!

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The pants are the great piece here!  Paired with a black fitted t-shirt and casual ponytail.

I have a golden brown pair of bottoms just like this that would be perfect with my cream colored tee.  Thinking... thinking...

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As long as the fabric is no more than slightly sheer, one of these would be lovely over a t-shirt and jeans.

I had a silky short kimono robe like this that sadly didn't survive one of my moves several years ago.  Now I'm really missing it!

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This one?  This is my favorite.  So lovely!!  Perfect sleeve length.  Perfect gathers.  Perfect wrap style. 

I can see it with my denim skirt and camel colored boots... or jeans and some fun heels... or my cream colored pinstriped pencil skirt for date night... 
Oh the possibilities! 

 
 
My husband and I are hosting a few people for Thanksgiving this year and the question, "What should I wear?" flashed through my mind today while finishing my to-do list.  Don't want to forget anything come Thursday!  It was a happy little thought that evolved into ruminations about the different styles of Thanksgiving's out there.
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Are you the kind of hostess who is perfectly coiffed and presents a perfect meal in a perfectly clean house?

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Or maybe your cooking skills leave something to be desired but dang it, at least you're going to look great!

Does your family do Thanksgiving in their pj's or is it Sunday Best and nothing less?  I don't know about future years but this year, with a toddler and twin babies, I'm definitely having to prioritize.  I'll be happy that the house is clean and comfortable, spotless will have to wait.  The food will hopefully be delicious, especially since we've split the cooking duties so no one person is overwhelmed.  I admire Martha Stewart-style decorated tables, but I'm more than satisfied that I have an unstained set of cloth napkins that match the tablecloth.  And maybe some little candles for sparkle.

I've always been a fan of "dressing for dinner."  I think that would have been such a neat era to live in.  But more than anything I want our guests to feel welcome and comfortable in our home.  I don't want to LOOK like I'm frazzled and the hosting duties have left me on edge.  Even if something goes wrong with the cranberry sauce, I want the "clean and comfortable" theme to continue with my appearance.  Hakuna-Matata and pass the gravy!

I think dark jeans and a comfortable blouse or sweater will be just the ticket. Anything too over the top and guests might feel out of place.  Too underdressed and they might feel uncomfortable. I'm not a fan of shoes in the house so satiny slippers help me look polished and don't slow me down.  A sleek ponytail, light makeup, and a fun necklace or earrings should top the look off nicely.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

I'd love to hear about your Thanksgiving style, whether as hostess or guest.  Do you dress to the nine's or relax in your flannels?  Either way, I'm thankful to have the choice.  Thankful for so many blessings despite the struggles so many are facing. 

Happy Thanksgiving!
 
 
 
In case you own a holiday sweater (or heaven forbid, MULTIPLE holiday sweaters), this is your wake up call!  Your call to repent.  Your call to action. 

Please raise your right hand and repeat after me:
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"I will not wear holiday sweaters this or any future year.

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I will not voluntarily assassinate my own style.

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I realize I am over the age of 5 and will not attempt to dress like my toddler.

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I will not offend the eyes of my fellow joyous citizens who I may pass by.

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Should I be lucky enough to reach an old age when I am dressed by someone else,

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and that someone attempts to dress me in a holiday sweater,

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I will protest to my last breath.
And whack them with my cane."

These are the only folks allowed to wear holiday sweaters.  If you don't fit into one of these two groups, put the sweater down.
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With one possible exception... The Ugly Holiday Sweater Party.  These little shindigs have been gaining in popularity in recent years and frankly, I think it's worth keeping around one of these monstrosities.  If you don't see one of these parties on the horizon - throw your own!  It'll be worth it to see these things come out of the woodwork on your friends and neighbors.  Where else are you going to get to cherish moments like this one...
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just one of the many party images to be found
My family used to carol on Christmas Eve in snowman motif sweaters.  Many of us got married, leaving too few sweaters on hand, and so they were mercifully replaced with matching scarves. 

By the way, if you want to have a little fun, check out virtual holiday sweaters.  Spread some joy with a little competition to see who can come up with the ugliest design!
 
 
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"Shop for an evening gown when you don't need one.  That way you'll get one you love!"
- Isaac Mizrahi

I fear I've failed you, readers.  I wanted to share this quote before it was too late.  Too late as in, the week before your Christmas party when you're frantically racing through stores trying to find something to wear.  Frantically buying something you'll probably never wear again!  I should have posted this in June but what can I say.  I have kids.  But onward and upward, right?

The details for my husband's company Christmas party (the largest party we attend each year) were sent out this week and this year it will be a casual affair held at Costco of all places!  I've never heard of a Costco party but since it's one of the places I frequent the most (out of necessity and enjoyment) I'm looking forward to it.  I'm a little bummed there won't be a reason to get all decked out, but that's alright..  There will be other events and other times.

Your assignment this weekend is...
  1. Take a look at your calendar.  Do you have any fancy dress festivals on the horizon?  Do you know the details?  Venue, time of day, dress code.  If not, make the calls to gather those details!
  2. Go to your closet.  Yes, right after you're done reading this post.  Do you have anything suitable?  Sparkly? Shiny? Shimmery? A fabulous color? (Simple designs can merit fancy dress status if the color is right!) Does the occasion call for an evening gown or will black dress pants and a sparkly top be more suitable?
  3. Try your outfit on.  You probably haven't worn it in a while.  Does it look as good as you want it to?  Pick the shoes and accessories you're going to wear with it.  Put the whole thing on.  If you're happy then rest easy knowing you're set for the party season.  And yes, it is perfectly ok to wear the same outfit to different events.
  4. No outfit or not happy?  Before you start shopping for one - SECURE A BACKUP! It could be a dress you borrow from your sister or black jeans and your fanciest shoes and shirt.  Making sure you have a default outfit to fall back on will go a long way toward helping you avoid a pointless purchase.  You should have an LBD (Little Black Dress) in your wardrobe and an LBD can almost always be made appropriate for any party.
  5. Browse before buying.  Or maybe better put, "Surf before shopping."  Browsing the internet helps save wasted hours on the road and in the malls.  Look at what's out there right now, narrow down a style, then hit the shops with a plan.  If you don't have an LBD, I would suggest dedicating this shopping time to invest in one.  You'll get millions of miles out of it and now is the perfect season to find one that suits you. 
  6. Do not buy something you don't love.  There's no point in wasting the dollars.  Keep looking.  And avoid expensive, overly trendy items.  This is already an outfit you won't wear very often (most of us aren't hitting the fancy party circuit every month).  Your dollars will be best spent on something timeless that still fits your style.             
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Nordstrom


I hit Nordstrom to find a few quick pics to spark your creativity.

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Nordstrom


Those sleeves are beaded, not see through!

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Nordstrom



Sparkly jackets, blazers, boleros, and shrugs can instantly pop a basic outfit into party territory!  The same can be said for sparkly shirts and tanks under more basic jackets.

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Nordstrom


I just can't pass up a retro silhouette! 
And this color is gorgeous!

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Nordstrom
Don't forget the shoes!!

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Nordstrom
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Nordstrom

Enjoy your homework this weekend!  I hope it gets you excited for all the fun to be had in the coming months! 

Even if it's just you and your husband all cozy at home on New Year's Eve.  Dress up for each other and make that midnight kiss a little more fun!