Happy Holidays!

I'm taking my own advice and taking these last few days of 2012 to reflect, regroup & recharge for 2013. I might post a little something over the next few days, but I want to wish you and yours a very merry week filled with love, relaxation, and plenty of quality time (and maybe some sparkly dresses).

Thank you for following along for the past few months ... I've loved having you! Your comments brighten my day more than you know.


P.S. I'll still be tweeting & instagramming if you'd like to follow along for the holidays (@MNouc).

image via InStyle Magazine

If Holiday Window Displays Could Talk

A funny little number to officially kick off this holiday weekend from the always hilarious Sarah. What would your favorite extravagant department store holiday windows say if they could talk?

Aside from gifts, themed cocktails, merriment and begrudgingly spending time with loved ones, the best part of the holiday season are the decorations. And none can surpass those of department store windows, whose competitive displays set new standards that seem to escalate with every passing year. However, their beauty and sheer decadence does not come without sacrifice. Each window tells an insinuated story either about the artist or their underlying message, and I've been so kind to elaborate and divulge the secrets of some of 2012's most exquisite holiday displays. All images via Vanity Fair.

This gold-leafed, clove-studded roast bird may have been pardoned by Obama at Thanksgiving this year — but not the fashion industry. (Liberty)
The souls of the interns working on this display are eternally trapped within each snow globe, giving it an extra hint of authenticity. (Saks Fifth Avenue)

While Bart's dreams of being the 'happiest little pirate' were shattered long ago, the recent sting of barely missing the 'head intern' title was still a fresh wound. He turned his sorrows into art, laying them on the capable shoulders of his boy mannequin. (Liberty)
In this economy, aging showgirls will pass up little for an under-the-table paycheck. NYC taxes are a bitch.  (Bergdorf Goodman)
Much to the dismay of Mrs. Claus, Santa "discovered" himself this year and traded in his outdated sleigh for something more *fabulous*. (Selfridges)
"Just throw some unicorns in there. Bitches love unicorns." (Printemps)

Happy Holidays!


Hepburn on Happiness

Kicking off this Tuesday with a favorite Audrey Hepburn quotation. It's so true, isn't it? 
Have a lovely, happy day!

 photograph by Philippe Halsman


5 Winter Beauty Essentials

Last week, we talked winter fashion, this week, let's talk winter beauty essentials. While my daily routine doesn't change much from season to season, there are a few tried and true products I've discovered over the years that lessen the impact of the cold winter weather on my skin and hair.
Moroccan Oil | For my fine, tangle-prone hair that gets especially dry and knotty in the winter, this stuff works wonders. A little bit goes a long way, and using it is as simple as applying a bit to the ends of your hair and blow drying or air drying as usual.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment | A lip balm that keeps my lips from getting dry and adds a swipe of sheer color  – let's just say when the cold weather comes around, I never leave home with out it. I love the color of "Sugar Rose" for everyday wear, and "Sugar" is great for applying right before bed for a little extra hydration!

Tea | During the winter I drink a lot of tea. The health benefits range depending on the ingredients and kind of tea you sip, but isn't it so satisfying is it to sip a hot cup of tea on a freezing winter day? Some of my personal favorites: Harney & Sons 'Hot Cinnamon Sunset' (perfect for winter, cinnamon helps curb sweet cravings and improves circulation), Revolution 'Pomegranate White Tea' (packed with antioxidants), and TeaVana ' My Morning Maté' (perfect replacement for your daily coffee that won't make you shaky; made with red rooibos tea which is full of beneficial minerals).

Sephora Collection Instant Moisturizer |  This is one of the best moisturizers I have ever owned, and it's super affordable at $20. It's lightweight and not greasy, but seriously moisturizes my sensitive skin. I use this year round, but I definitely see the difference it makes in the winter.

TREsemme Dry Shampoo | I picked this up back in the fall, and have been using it ever since. It sprays on like hair spray, but absorbs excess oil and leaves your hair fuller and surprisingly easy to work with. It's also great for quick touch-ups when you're going from day to night.

Do tell – what are some of your winter beauty secrets?


It's a Date: Barbour, Cocktails & A Little PDT

Next Wednesday evening from 6 to 8, you'll find me at Barbour's Soho shop (along with my friend & fellow blogger, Sarah) for a fab event. Mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT will be signing copies of his brand new book, The PDT Cocktail Book, and Barbour is offering 15% off any in-store purchase that night. Perfection, right?

If you're in NYC, come wrap up those last few gifts on your list while mingling and sipping on delicious cocktails. Basically, they're going to have to keep me from buying the entire store. See you there?

December 19  |  6 - 8 PM  |  Barbour  |  123 Wooster Street


I ♥ Lulie Wallace

I stumbled on Lulie Wallace's paintings about a year ago (on Pinterest!) and have been smitten ever since. I adore her style ... especially the pops of color and patterns in her paintings (I'm currently saving up for an original!). A few of my current favorites in her shop ...

9 x 12 Flowers for Estelle (those stripes!)

The originals would make a perfect gift for anyone loves or collects art, and the prints are perfect at $45 a pop if you're not quite ready to splurge!

Do you love Lulie, too? I'd love to know – who are some of your favorite artists?


The Winter Wardrobe "Blahs"

My yearly dilemma: it's cold, it's dark, and even my morning coffee isn't waking me up. The only thing I feel like wearing are my pajamas and cozy socks. I'll admit it ... in the winter my style definitely suffers.

As much as I adore fall, I am so not a winter person ... at all. I never quite feel like I have the perfect wardrobe (because I never want to buy winter-y things), so instead I search for easy ways to make what I already have work with a few minor tweaks. After some major pinning sprees, I narrowed my inspiration down to 3 specific & simple ways I plan on perking up my winter wardrobe this year.

For instant glamour ...

Take a page out of Alicia's (of cheetah is the new black) book and rock a fun fur collar with a cable knit sweater. So perfect!

For easy chic ...

Black on black on black. Simple, slimming, and always chic, how easy would it be to pull together an ensemble à la Emerson Fry?

For cozy & cute ... 

Layer it up! Lace, fair isle, leopard, chambray ... throw on a few different layers of patterns & textures for a cozy, but cute look. Check out Blair Eadie's Atlantic-Pacific for lots of layering inspiration.

What are some of your favorite ways to beat the winter wardrobe "blahs?"

images via 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6


Get Crafty: DIY Gilded Message Mugs

What a week! I hope you've all enjoyed the fabulous DIY crafts cooked up by all of our contributors. It's always so cool to see the ideas other creatives come up with, and how they make their projects work. I'm so grateful for everyone who posted, read, commented and shared this week (definitely send some pictures my way if you try out the DIYs on your own!). To round out the crafty week, I'm sharing a simple, customizable gift that you can whip up for just about anyone for less than $10. 
One of my favorite morning rituals is prepping and organizing myself for the day over a freshly brewed cup of coffee ... and I know I'm not alone on this. Let's face it – the first cup of coffee (or tea) is essential to the start of many mornings, so why not add a little love to your loved ones' mugs? For my mugs, I chose a metallic gold ink and the sayings "crème de la crème" and "make it happen," but you can really get creative with this step and tailor them to the recipient's style/taste.

- 1 gold Sharpie marker
- white mug(s); I found mine at West Elm for $3
- scrap paper
1. Make sure your mugs are clean, dry and dust free before starting. Choose what you want the mug(s) to say. It's also a good idea to practice your design on a spare piece of paper a few times before staring on the actual mug (trust me).

2. With your Sharpie, draw your message on your mug, letting it dry as you make your way around the mug to avoid smudges. Let it dry fully ( a few minutes). I found that the metallic marker on the ceramic surface wasn't as opaque as I liked, so I ended up going back over everything once more. I also found that longer strokes made for a smoother, more even coverage. Remember, fellow perfectionists, that these are handmade gifts – the fact that it's your handwriting makes it all the more special. P.S. Don't forget to sign and date the bottom!
3. When finished & dry, bake your mug(s) in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees (note: do not pre-heat your oven). This sets the ink so they'll be able to be hand washed. Remove the mug from the oven and let it cool to room temperature before handling or wrapping. Voilà! Package with hot cocoa mix, coffee or tea & you have a personalized gift perfect for everyone on your list.

Have a lovely, crafty weekend!


Get Crafty: DIY Holiday Kissing Ball

Happy Thursday! Today, Hannah, a lovely designer & illustrator (who I get to work with on an almost daily basis), is showing us how to add a little holiday greenery (and steal a few extra kisses) this holiday season. She has me convinced I need to swap out my mistletoe with one of these lovelies!

I love the idea of making your own holiday decorations, especially those made out of natural elements. This time of year we are surrounded by so many beautiful greens that are surprisingly easy to work with!

These holiday boughs were originally created as a way to "grace passageways" and were hung as an omen of goodwill.  The design of this holiday tradition became more and more elaborate and the herbs chosen were not only for their beauty but their symbolic value (Lavender = loyalty and devotion, thyme = courage, and mistletoe = romance). Throughout the years, the kissing ball began to emphasize romance more than anything. Dancers swooped under the kissing ball for a peck and single ladies stood in line hoping for a kiss from potential suitors. Today I am presenting the kissing ball to you as a fun, creative, and easy way to decorate this year. Add your own flare to it! And hey, a few extra kisses this season can't hurt.

Chit Chat with Hannah: Her Portfolio  |  Email  |  Instagram


Get Crafty: DIY Glitzy Wine Corks

To start off this crafty Wednesday, Jess from the always well curated blog, Curating Styleis here to show you a simple, but chic way to add a little pop & glitz to your hostess gift ... take it away, Jess!

Thanks, Melissa! I'm excited to share with the atelier readers a little DIY I created just in time for holiday fanfare. With less than four weeks until Christmas, the holiday season is definitely upon us! It can be tough coming up with fun (yet inexpensive) hostess gifts, so why not do it yourself? I like to bring a nice bottle of wine to either compliment a meal or to contribute to a growing wine collection, and a sparkly DIY wine cork makes the memory sweeter.

This DIY project is so simple, I'm almost embarrassed to call it that. But not everyone is a natural crafter and not everyone has time to spare, so this DIY is quick, easy, and best of all, glittery!

My trick for this project is to use nail polish instead of paint to reduce the number of things you have to try and find before starting it. If you're anything like me, you have too many bottles of glittery nail polish to use up!

All you need are the following items:

Replacement wine corks (I found a pack of four for $2.99 at Target, Chefmate brand - similar)
Nail polish (colorful, glittery)
Clear nail polish/top coat
Thin brush for detailing (optional)

Step 1. Put down a paper towel or magazine in case of spillage. Layer at least two coats of nail polish, letting dry between layers.

Step 2. Add a layer of glitter or decoration! Go crazy. You can paint the entire cork, making it look like a shiny Kate Spade bauble, or add a sprinkle of gold stars for some festive fun. If you have a thin detailing brush, try out monograms or designs.

Step 3. Let your cork completely dry before covering in the clear top coat. This will seal in your design and make it shiny just like it would your nails.

Step 4. Affix your cork to the neck of a nice bottle of wine for a glittery, frugal hostess gift!

[ If you have acrylic paints, small brushes, and Mod Podge at home, feel free to use these instead of nail polishes too. ]

Enjoy! Don't forget to open a bottle of wine to sip on as you work on your corks.


Get Crafty: DIY Faux Ceramic Gift Tags

Lauren is one of my go-to girls for anything creative (she worked with me on Sweet Lemon Mag & created those lovely custom watercolors for my blog), so I knew she'd come up with something DIY-worthy for the holidays.

Her inspiration came from Anthropologie's ceramic gift tags, where she got the idea to whip up a batch of her own using a favorite childhood medium, shrink film (remember Shrinky Dinks?). These tags would be so fun to make (hello, blast from the past!) and are completely customizable – the perfect finishing touch for all of your pretty presents. Here's the how-to, with tips from Lauren ...

- Pen or Pencil
- Permanent Markers, Acrylic Paints, or Colored Pencils
- Parchment Paper
- Scissors
- Hole Punch
- Baking Sheet & Oven

ILLUSTRATE your tags on the Shrink Film paper. I recommend starting with pencil, and then filling in with permanent markers, acrylic paints, or colored pencil.  Crafty tips: Make it big! Your end result will be 20% of the original size. If you choose to use colored pencil on White shrink paper, you will need to sand the surface first.  

CUT OUT your designs carefully. I recommend a small sharp set of scissors for better precision.

BAKE at 325 degrees for 2-3 minutes. Use a non-stick baking sheet and cover the tags with parchment paper. The tags will curl while shrinking. You’ll know they’re done when they’ve flattened out.   

FINISH the tags off with a bit of twine or ribbon. If they are still curled over slightly after you remove them from the oven, quickly flatten them out using a spatula.   

Chit Chat with Lauren: Twitter  |  Pinterest


Get Crafty: DIY Monogrammed Pouch

I'm so excited to be kicking off this DIY holiday week with Alex of one of my daily reads, Dreams + Jeans. I can't get enough of her crafty monogrammed gift (is there anything better than receiving something with your monogram on it?) – it's such a great way to add that personalized touch to a practical leather pouch that just about anyone will love.

Here's Alex to give you the step-by-step details (while I head off to make one for everyone on my list!) ...

When Melissa asked me to come up with a DIY gift, I immediately thought of doing a monogrammed leather pouch. Leather pouches can be used for so many different things and by adding a monogram, it shows you really took the time to think of the recipient.

- fine paint brushes

ONE. Determine the placement and size of the monogram on your pouches.

TWO. Tape monogram onto the adhesive film and cut along the letters. Remove the paper backing and place the adhesive film onto the pouch. (I ended up using the backing as my stencil because the adhesive wasn't sticking.)

THREE. Position stencil onto pouch and tape into place.

FOUR. Paint one coat of liquid gilding. Let dry one hour in between coats. Certain letters may be difficult with a stencil (like my A) so you may want to carefully freehand them.
After you've done enough coats, let dry for a few hours. It's also recommended to seal the gilding to prevent chipping.

Thanks so much for having me Melissa!

Chit Chat with Alex: Dreams + Jeans  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Facebook