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Self-Care is NOT Selfish: New Year, New Goals, Same (Amazing) You!

Self-Care is NOT Selfish: New Year, New Goals, Same (Amazing) You!

Hi Everyone!

It's been a minute, but I'm so glad to be back!

I hope that everyone had a truly wonderful holiday season, and that everyone is (so far) enjoying their new year. Let's be real: I don't think any of us were sad to see 2020 go, am I right?

With each new year comes the almost inevitable setting of a series of new goals. We've all done it I'm sure: the ball drops, confetti flies, and as champagne bubbles cascade down our throats we cheer, "This year, I'm going to ______". Whatever your ______ happens to be, it's most likely something that is wildly important to you. 

Image credit: vectorstock.com

So...my question is...how come these goals we set rarely seem to last longer than it takes that big, shiny ball in NYC to drop?

My theory, and I'm sure it's not original, is simply this: we set goals that are too stringent (often after a holiday season full of overindulgence--it's so much easier to push off willpower to the next month) to actually go through with successfully.

 

Image credit: learning.linkedin.com

 

Personally, I set several goals for myself last year. Guess how many I actually achieved?

Zero. 

Want to know why?

Well, when I set those goals, I hadn't accounted for several things that were absolutely out of my control. I certainly didn't think the news reports I was hearing about some new virus was going to turn into a full-blown global pandemic, and I certainly didn't see some upsetting family news coming either. Let's just say, I adjusted my goals as I saw fit to the get through the year. 

You want to know something? I'm OK with that. 

What I want to share with you is something I learned prominently over the last few years, both as a mother and just as a person in general. 

It's OK if your biggest goal of the year is simply summed up in two words: 

Self. Care. 

Image credit: rubyfremon.com

Self care is actually the opposite of selfish. See, here's the thing: you can't actually follow through with new goals--much less serve others around you--if you are trying to do so from an empty tank. Much like you need to put your own oxygen mask on before putting one on another person if you are on a plane that's going down, you have to make sure to take care of yourself enough that you can help others. 

 

So, my challenge to you is this as we launch into, God-willing, a brighter year. 

Don't set resolutions that you can't keep, and therefore set yourself up for failure and depression. Instead, set a goal to take care of yourself--mentally, physically, and spiritually--and then, stand back and watch the other goals follow. 

Sending lots of love for a happy and healthy New Year!

Love,

 

-Em

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Not a Hallmark Movie: To Those for Whom Christmas is Hard

Not a Hallmark Movie: To Those for Whom Christmas is Hard

For many, Christmas is "the most wonderful time of the year". 

For many others, it is exactly the opposite. 

Somehow, we always talk about the joyful parts of the holiday season--the lights, the music, the presents, the decorations, and if you are a Christian like me, the fact that Jesus came to Earth to save humanity from their sins. All you have to do is turn the TV on starting November 1 to see literally everything dedicated to all of those things depicted in big-budget Hallmark fashion.

What you never see? What's never shown? Those for whom the holidays bring much pain and sadness. 

Every single one of us has had an incredibly hard year in 2020--I think that goes without saving. For some of us, those challenges have presented themselves in such a way that they are completely affecting our typical "Christmas spirit."

I'm not going to lie to you guys--I'm one of those people. My family and I have received several pieces of devastating news over the course of 2020 (who hasn't), but we received one in particular just two days ago that felt like a punch to the gut. That news, coupled with the inability to see family tomorrow, has made me not really care much this year.

I would be lying if I said that my Christmas spirit is intact. To be brutally honest, in large part I'm faking it for my daughter. 

I decided to write a very atypical Christmas blog post tonight, as I know I'm not the only one experiencing grief (any of the stages of that lovely un-friend) this holiday season. If you've been reading anything about Christmas at all this holiday season, I'm sure it was of the Hallmark variety of smiling, beautiful people in cheerfully decorated homes, surrounded by delicious, homemade baked goods and artfully wrapped presents. 

This post isn't that. 

Me? I'm sitting on my couch with a glass full of wine and a heart full of bitterness and sadness. My presents aren't wrapped, my Christmas breakfast isn't made, and my "Holiday Spirit" is all but nonexistent. 

I decided to write honestly for this blog post because I know it is what I would need to read from someone else tonight with how I'm feeling...and I thought, just maybe, there's someone else out there who needs the solidarity, too. 

Here's the thing: Christmas can be HARD. Maybe you lost a loved one, maybe you and/or someone you love is sick, maybe you are struggling financially, or maybe you also just received some really horrible news. Whatever it is, I'm writing to let you know three things:

1. You are not alone. 

2. It's OK not to be OK. 

3. Think about what you need to do to keep going. 

Let's break that down a bit, shall we?

1. You are not alone. 

Please know that Hallmark Christmases are Hollywood. It's fake. It's not real. While I'm sure you know that, sometimes I think it's good for someone to remind you of that. If you are grieving tonight, you are in good company. You are absolutely not alone in finding this season challenging. 

2. It's OK not to be OK. 

No one can tell you how to feel about the holidays. Remember that.

3. Think about what you need to do to keep going. 

What is your self-care going to look like to get through this season? Perhaps it is booking a (masked) massage on 12/26; perhaps it's treating yourself to something special that you've been eyeing up for awhile (#treatyoself), perhaps it's a mini-vacation...figure out what it is that you can do right now to plan ahead for something that will help you get through tomorrow. I'm doing that right now currently--setting boundaries mentally to get through the next week--and, while it's certainly not fixing anything, I'm proud of myself for taking a stand for my mental health. 

Here's another thing, Friends...people love you. You are important. The world needs you in it, and you matter more than you realize. That's the whole point behind the arrival of Jesus, who is the whole reason for this entire season--you matter to God. You matter to others. And, just in case, I'm sounding preachy, please know that Christians don't have it all together. I'm grieving horribly this year too, even though I know the meaning behind the glitz and glamour of the season. 

Once again, no matter who you are, where you are in life, or what you are grieving if you are hurting this Christmas...it's OK not to be OK. 

For those of you reading this who ARE ok this holiday season...check on those in your life who might not be (I've got to send a huge shoutout to Anna, my parents, Kim, Tanya, Nikki, Lindsey, and of course my husband for speaking words of life into my heart when I literally couldn't function this week as I thought through hard next steps. You guys are gifts from God). You absolutely never know how much something only you can say can speak into someone's life in a unique way (special thank you here to Tanya). 

The bottom line of all of this, Folks, is that it can be SO hard to feel anything other than bitterness when everyone around you is not only celebrating, but expecting you to celebrate and be OK too--and the holidays are prime time for that. 

If that's where you are tonight, I raise my glass to you. I love you. I look forward to (God-willing) a brighter 2021 with you. My personal email is emilykenniston@gmail.com, and I'm ALWAYS here if anyone wants to drop me a personal line and vent. Please know that if you feel alone, a shoulder to vent upon is a click away. 

And, from the bottom of my heart, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

Let's stand strong together. 

With love, 

-Em <3

 

 

 

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The OFFICIAL 2020 TCC Gift Guide!

The OFFICIAL 2020 TCC Gift Guide!

Marni's (Much Anticipated) Gift Guide

Hi all!

Since the holidays are here, I want to share my favorite gifts from The Curated Closet. I've put together a list (and checked it twice) of my personal favorites. Don't worry if you're not seeing what you're looking for, we have plenty more to look at, as we have over 1000 items in inventory in sizes XS to 2X!

For a limited time, get $5 off your order with code: JOY5

(*EuroLuxe not included in the discount offer. Offer cannot be combined with our discount offers.)

Looking for something a little “extra”? Check out our EuroLuxe Collection, where you’ll find watches, sunglasses, bags, wallets and clothing by Versace, Dolce & Gabanna, Armani and many more! This special collection is shipped from Milan! Shipping is $12 from Europe to your doorstep, and takes about 5-7 business days.
*If you have any questions about sizing, or just need some help picking a gift, please contact us. (info@thecuratedcloset.net)
Still not sure what to get? Let the recipient shop for themselves with a gift certificate!

Now let's get into the good stuff...

Our CC Beanie hats, gloves, and headbands are always great small gifts and/or stocking stuffers at around $20 or less

Dressy Blouses:

Dressy/Holiday Sweaters & Tops:

Comfy and/or Cozy tops and sweaters:

Trending Sweaters:

Trending Tops:

Hoodies:

Cardigans:

Lounge Sets:

Lounge Sets

Bottoms:

For a limited time, get $5 off your order with code: JOY5

Some EuroLuxe Picks: (reminder, these items incur a $12 shipping fee, and ship from Europe)

Men’s Diesel Thommer jeans Retail $155, just $65
Red Armani handbag, Retail $256, just $185
White Balmain sunglasses, Retail $216, just $69
Women’s Made in Italia “Angelica” pump, Retail $99, just $35
Love Moschino red back pack, Retail $245, just $145
Laura Biagiotti gray ankle boot, Retail $143, just $45
Men’s Made in Italia “Romano” ankle boot, Retail $88, just $30
Men’s Emporio Armani sneakers, Retail $199, just $71

Happy Holidays!
With much appreciation for your support-
Marni (TCC's Boss Lady) 
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What I Would be Wearing to Holiday 2020 Parties this Year....You Know, if Covid Wasn't a Thing....

What I Would be Wearing to Holiday 2020 Parties this Year....You Know, if Covid Wasn't a Thing....

Well, y'all...I guess I probably should have titled this blog post "What I'll be Wearing for Holiday 2021 Parties"...since Holiday parties this year definitely aren't going to happen. 

Oh well...c'est la vie. 

However, just because you'll be stuck at home this year due to Covid doesn't mean that you can't still look FABULOUS, whether you are rocking a #livingroomchic look just for yourself, OR you have a Zoom Happy Hour with friends to celebrate the season! Either way, here are a few of my favorite things this holiday season (and, since no one is going to see them this year, they can do double duty for 2021!). 

 

Holiday 2020 (and 2021...Hopefully) Looks that Slay

 

Clothing

  • Faux Leather
This season, it's all about faux leather--leggings, pants, and jackets! You can find some amazing faux leather jackets at TCC (search #8751, #8753, and #8754 on thecuratedcloset.net for some of my FAVORITES currently in stock), and Express.com has some incredible faux leather leggings and pants for great deals (pro tip: find an Express outlet for prices that are unbelievably reduced)
Just be careful not to pull a Ross Gellar with your faux leather pants!
 
Yours Truly (with hubby and daughter) in my favorite Comme Faux Leather Jacket from TCC (#8751, in a cranberry shade that's PERFECT for the holidays...and only $40!), and my favorite faux leather pants from Express
  • Sequins

From masks to tops to pants, sequins are IN this season! Just make sure that you find an item that has a soft lining...nothing worse than sequins scratching your skin!

Search "sequins" at thecuratedcloset.net for some seriously fierce looks, including everything from sequin face masks to sequin-decorated hoodies! Some of my favorites are below:

 

French connection sequin top, #7479

Nanette Lepore sequin dress, #8302

TCC Boutique Sequin Face Mask, available in blush (#8949 - sold out), gold (#8951), silver (#8948), black (#8947), and rose pink (#8963)

 

  • Velvet
Pairing beautifully with the faux leather pants/leggings above, or standing easily on it's own as a dress, velvet is a festive, classic, and oh-so-chic choice for your holiday looks! We have a huge selection of velvet blouses and dresses available at TCC, and once again, Express rarely disappoints with their options as well!
Ro & De Velvet Cold Shoulder top, #8171 at thecuratedcloset.net
  • Satin/Silk
I'm a sucker for a classic, silky satin blouse--whether you wear it on it's own or peeking from under a blazer for a sultry understatement, you just can't go wrong. Lately, some of my favorite pieces that really stand out come from bostonproper.com:
"Marilyn" Blouse, available in multiple colors
Makeup
  • Eyes
All right, guys, when it comes to holiday makeup, it's ALL about an intense, glittery smokey eye with long, thick, intense lashes. For glittery eyes, I LOVE Stila's Glitter and Glow line, which is available in many shades (though, FYI, E.L.F Cosmetics has a super affordable dupe as well--their liquid glitter eye shadow is just as amazing looking as the Stila product, and ELF's version is only $5!). For lashes, I love Ardell's Naked Strip Lashes in #422, and I use Silly George's adhesive felt tip liner...literally the ONLY false lash product that has EVER worked for me!
Pro Tip: Make sure to use a great eyeshadow primer to lock your look in place all day!
Some of the Stila shades, available all over at prestige makeup stores (including Sephora and Ulta)
ELF's Liquid Glitter Eyeshadow
What makes these lashes awesome to work with is the Invisiband, the clear band at the base of the lashes. When used with the Silly George adhesive felt tip liner, it makes these puppies blend beautifully into your natural lash line. They are also easy to find at drugstores, or sallybeautysupply.com
Silly George's LinerBond felt tip adhesive liner--which legit just applies like a felt tip eyeliner, then holds your lashes in place like hard-to-apply glue without the mess!--is a MUST for false lash wearers! Available at sillygeorge.com. 
  • Lips

What do you pair with a fantastic, smokey, glittery eye? Why, a matte red lip, of course!

Make sure you find what red best suits your skin tone (for me, it's a deep red with blue undertones), and then find a long-lasting lipstick in that magical shade. Pro tip: After applying, blot lips with a tissue repeatedly, then re-apply and do the same one or two more times to create a stain that lasts for hours!

Maybelline SuperStay Ink Crayon Lipstick--my perfect shade is "Own Your Empire"

My ideal holiday makeup look!!!

Shoes
  • Heels

For a fierce holiday look, you need the fiercest shoes! For me, that always includes either over-the-knee stiletto boots, or platform heels! Some great platform heel choices are available on Amazon, like the pair below by DREAM PAIRS:

  • Boots

I'm absolutely obsessed with these gorgeous boots from Chinese Laundry--they are gorgeous, super high while still being pretty comfy, and they ACTUALLY. STAY. UP...my OTK boot-wearing ladies know what I'm talking about! Available in two colors from chineselaundry.com--black and burgundy--they are priced affordably enough to get both colors!

 

I have these exact boots and they go with every look! I hope to get the burgundy soon too!

Wondering what jewelry to pair your incredible look with? See my earlier blog post, "Accessorize Me"!

There you have it, my lovelies! My picks for a fierce, feminine, and sexy look this holiday season. Whether you rock your fabulousness in your living room or over Zoom, I hope you have a glorious holiday. 

In two weeks, I'll be sharing "A Very TCC Holiday" with the TCC team reflecting on their favorite Christmas memories and traditions. Until then, stay safe, stay sane, and stay fabulous!

 

Love, 

 

-Em

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Small Business Saturday Spotlights: Every Gift You Want to See Under the Tree This Year!

Small Business Saturday Spotlights: Every Gift You Want to See Under the Tree This Year!

The Christmas season is FINALLY upon us (buy-bye, Thanksgiving!), and you know what that means...SHOPPING! Whether you are "adding to cart" for yourself or for others this holiday season (or a little bit of both), please consider shopping small this year. Small businesses, and their incredible owners, need our support more than ever as a result of all that has happened in 2020. 

Without further ado, here are some of my FAVORITE choices for everyone on your Christmas list in various categories. 

A Few of My Favorite Things: My 2020 Christmas List Must-Haves (and their Super Black Friday Deals!)

 

Hand-Delivered Christmas Place Settings and Stocking Stuffers: Lovely Luxe Rentals/Lovely Ring Boxes

Looking to add some cheer to your small holiday table this year? Give Lovely Luxe Rentals a call!

Husband-and-wife team Nicole and Mike Cecchi are on a mission to make sure people still feel Christmas cheer this year at home, even if it is spent more quietly than normal. 


Photo courtesy mikesgoodhumor.com

The Cecchis operate Lovely Luxe Rentals, a full-service tabletop rental company, that provides curated collections of plates, glassware, and flatware for various special events all over New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and beyond. According to Cecchi, they specialize in renting tabletop items for weddings. “We had lots of weddings this year,” said Cecchi. “That’s been really special; this year there was a big pivot to micro-weddings and small celebrations [instead of large-scale events].”

An event Lovely Luxe Rentals styled at Hotel Bethlehem in PA (photo courtesy lovelyluxerentals.com)

And, for those getting engaged this holiday season...

In addition to Lovely Luxe Rentals, Cecchi and her husband also own two offshoots from their main business: Mike’s Good Humor, a vintage 1931 Model A Good Humor ice cream truck they rent out for events (see photo above), and Lovely Ring Boxes, a website that offers heirloom velvet ring boxes and other styling items. Cecchi highlighted the fact that an heirloom ring box is a great stocking stuffer for those getting engaged this holiday season. “[There are lots of] holiday proposals, and often the engagement gets photographed,” she said. “You want [the pictures] to look the best they can, and a special ring box is a great way to do that.”


Photo courtesy lovelyringboxes.com

What sets Lovely Luxe Rentals apart from other tabletop rental companies is that they will deliver the items you order straight to your door. “We want to bring beautiful aspects and our expertise to make even small events just as special,” said Cecchi. 

Find your perfect holiday table setting at loveluxerentals.com, rent Mike’s Good Humor for a special socially-distanced holiday event at mikesgoodhumor.com, and find the perfect ring box to compliment your special jewelry at lovelyringboxes.com. From Black Friday-Cyber Monday, save 40% on all rings boxes and styling items with code NOVEMBER40!

 

Jewelry: Sincerely Ginger Jewelry 

Hoping for that ring...and I don't mean on the phone...this holiday season? Look no further than the stunning, original pieces from Sincerely Ginger Jewelry

Photo courtesy of Ginger Herbein

Ginger Herbein’s love affair with jewelry began as a young girl, when she would look through her grandmother’s jewelry box. A Berks County native, Herbein took an unconventional path into the world of jewelry design in the process of creating her own line, Sincerely Ginger Jewelry. 

With a Bachelor’s Degree from Kutztown University and a Master’s Degree from St. Joseph’s University, Herbein spent years teaching in the Philadelphia School District. When an injury on the job forced her into a period of recuperation, Herbein began researching jewelry designers who followed their passion without having a degree relevant to that particular field. That led her to take her first jewelry-making class at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2014, where she learned to work with silver. 

After discovering that working with fine gold jewelry (in particular 14K) was ideal for the complexity of the pieces she envisioned creating, Herbein decided to take a hiatus and restart Sincerely Ginger Jewelry with a new vision in 2019. 

Two of Herbein's favorite handcrafted pieces

Herbein’s designs are all made from eco-friendly, recycled gold, ethically sourced gemstones, and conflict-free diamonds. “I’m very strict about who I purchase from,” said Herbein. She added, “Whenever I make jewelry, [the materials] that don’t get used, get recycled.” She also is not limited to working with 14K gold--when it comes to custom orders, Herbein can create anything. “If a person wants jewelry made out of 18K gold or platinum, this can be done,” she said. 

Herbein has a passion for creating custom jewelry. “I love the fact that such jewelry is so personal,” she said.  “I'm excited about getting the chance to create heirloom designs at some point, when I'm offered that opportunity.  I like that custom jewelry allows me to represent the people I'm designing for, and that it will be treasured for lifetimes to come.”

In many ways, Sincerely Ginger Jewelry is a family affair. Herbein shared that her mother designed her jewelry displays, and wired her display lighting to maximize the beauty of her pieces. “I am so thankful for my mom,” Herbein shared. 

Looking forward to the future of her company, Herbein said, “It’s all about connections, and trusting that over time I will come across ideal clients that find sentimental meaning within jewelry and its value.”

You can view Herbein’s designs here: https://sincerelygingerjewelry.com/ In celebration of the holidays, every jewelry purchase comes with a FREE pair of 14K gold clover earrings, FREE shippings, and a goodie bag. 

Photography: Lindsey Hart Photography

Photo credit: Lindsey Hart Photography (Facebook)

What better gift to give yourself or others this holiday season than the gift of professional photography?! The beauty of giving a photography gift card as a gift is two-fold: You support a small business, AND you get heirloom-quality photographs to cherish forever. 

Lindsey Hart has been expanding her repertoire as a photographer for years, and has experience shooting everything from families to weddings to high fashion and everything in between! Learn more at: lindseyhartphotography.weebly.com

She is running a special Black Friday discount for her services below:

Photo credit: Lindsey Hart Photography (Facebook)

Personal Care/Makeup/Eyelash Extensions: Patrice Williams, MUA

Photo credit: Patrice Williams (Facebook)

If there's one thing that every lady on your list (Ok, you too), needs after this dumpster fire of a year, it's some pampering!

Patrice Williams is (from experience) the best in the biz when it comes to professional makeup application...and that's not all she can do! Patrice is also certified to apply eyelash extensions, but for an unbelievably amazing price you won't find anywhere else. 

Check out her website at patricewilliamsmua.com! 

Clothing and Accessories: The Curated Closet

And, of course, I can't NOT mention how our very own TCC (available online at thecuratedcloset.net OR in person at The Mercantile in Doylestown at 444 N Main Street) is running some unbelievable Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday sales!

Starting Black Friday (EuroLuxe Excluded)

BFVIP - 12:01am til 8:30am 33% off

SLEEPY - 8:31am thru 11:59pm 25% off on Black Friday
HOLIDAY - 12:01am 22% off on Saturday thru 11:59pm Sunday
Cyber Monday (EuroLuxe Excluded)
SHOPTCC - 12:01am til 8:30am 33% off on Cyber Monday
25OHMY - 8:31am thru 11:59pm 25% off on Cyber Monday
EuroLuxe Codes:
 
Black Friday ONLY
SURPRISE - 20% off 
Cyber Monday ONLY
TREAT - 20% off 
There you have it, Folks--some of my favorite picks for shopping small and supporting some incredible local businesses this holiday season!
Stay tuned for 2020 Holiday Party Looks--even if that party just consists of you looking suber-fab over Zoom :)
Cheers, 
<3 Em
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A Very TCC Thanksgiving

A Very TCC Thanksgiving

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving 2020 is only ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!

Yes, 2020 has been...interesting...but, we are still so thankful for so much here at TCC this year!

In this blog post, TCC staff members Emily Kenniston (me!), Courtney Lynch, and Tori O'Donnell share some of their favorite Thanksgiving memories/recipes from years past. 

 

Courtney:
"Favorite Memory: Growing up, Thanksgiving has always been a holiday I spent with my immediate family (Christmas is always the big one for us to see relatives), many times my parents would invite neighbors or elderly friends that aren't able to be with their families and they became a part of ours. For as long as I can remember watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and 6ABC Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade with my parents and 2 sisters was our tradition. Many years my dad would take my older sister and me and later on both of my sisters and me down to Philadelphia to watch the parade in person while my mom stayed home and cooked without interruption. As we got older, the tradition of watching the parade in person changed, we would watch at home in our PJ's with hot chocolate and then go to Manna on Main Street to serve meals and spend time with those less fortunate. 
One fun fact about Tori and I, we went to high school together and it now seems to be a holiday tradition where I find my way to her parent's house to crash her family celebrations...always showing up later than when I originally said."
What I'm Thankful for in 2020
"I'm very thankful to be blessed with family and friends (especially Tori) that still find ways to laugh through the craziness of 2020. Being at home with my parents and younger sister has allowed me to spend more time with my 91-year-old grandmom who always keeps us laughing. I'm grateful to have been able to find joy in all that has been going on this year, especially watching my older sister and brother-in-law become first-time parents and my younger sister start her college career."
Tori:
Favorite Thanksgiving Tradition: "My favorite Thanksgiving tradition actually involves leftovers! Every year, my mom makes a Turkey Cranberry Wreath that has since become one of my favorite meals, and something I ask for all the time when I visit. Here’s the recipe:
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) chopped cooked turkey
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (we leave these out)
  • 1   egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Unroll crescent dough; separate into 16 triangles. With wide ends of triangles toward the center, arrange 8 triangles in a circle on a pizza stone. Corners of wide ends will touch and points will extend 1 inch beyond edge of baking stone. Arrange remaining 8 triangles in center, matching wide ends. Points will overlap in center; do not seal.)

  2. Place mayonnaise, mustard and black pepper in a bowl. Chop turkey. Slice celery. Snip parsley. Add turkey, celery, parsley and cranberries to batter bowl. Grate cheese into batter bowl. Mix filling. Scoop filling over seams of dough, forming a circle. 

  3. Coarsely chop walnuts; sprinkle over filling. Beginning in center, lift one dough triangle across filling mixture. Continue alternating with outer triangles, slightly overlapping to form wreath. Tuck last end under first.

  4. Separate egg (Discard yolk or set aside for another use.) Lightly beat egg white; brush over dough. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

    Makes approximately 10 servings. Recipe is by Pampered Chef, but it’s now “mine” after insisting on making it so many times 😉"


What I'm thankful for in 2020: 

"I'm thankful for how much time I got to spend with my family and friends this year. As crazy as this pandemic was, it gave me a chance to just settle down from the hustle of work for a little bit and appreciate the amazing people around me."

 

Emily: 

Photographer: Lindsey Hart Photography

MUA: Patrice Williams

Location: The Reading Public Museum

 

"When I was a kid, we always spent Thanksgiving at my Grandma's house in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where my mom grew up. Going to Grandma's house for the holidays is a memory that I will always treasure in many ways, especially now since we lost Grandma this year.  I'm very weird in that I actually don't enjoy traditional Thanksgiving food at all, however, my Grandpa always used to make this incredibly thick chicken soup with homemade egg noodles. I have amazing memories of Grandpa covering the entire kitchen table with noodle dough and painstakingly cutting them out by hand for his incomparable soup. To me, it was the best part of Thanksgiving, hands-down.

When I became a young adult, I started spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my then-boyfriend, now-husband's family. Thanksgiving is "the big one" for my in-laws, and family members typically gather from all over the East Coast to share a meal (obviously this year is going to be wildly different). My Father-in-Law changed my whole perspective on turkey, which I've never really cared for, by smoking it in his amazing smoker...let me tell you, smoked turkey is the most amazing thing ever."

What I'm Thankful for in 2020:

"While this year has indeed been insane, God has done some truly beautiful things. The facts that my daughter's speech has improved drastically, and my husband and I finally became home owners definitely top my list of things I'm grateful for this year! I'm also incredible grateful that, despite the pandemic, this has been a year of incredible dream fulfillment for me. God has been so good--I got a job as a reporter (and discovered that apparently I should have majored in journalism 10+ years ago), competed in my first pageant, and am all set to compete next year for the title of Mrs. Pennsylvania International again!"

I know that many of us are struggling with how different this year is going to look--many of us will not be able to celebrate with our families in person due to safety concerns. However, I'd love to challenge you to join our #TCCThanksgivingChallenge and comment below: What's something that you are thankful for in 2020?
Here at TCC? We are thankful for YOU!
Sending lots of lovely for a beautiful holiday,
-Em <3
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Pandemic-Approved Date/Friend Date Ideas You Can Do at Home

Pandemic-Approved Date/Friend Date Ideas You Can Do at Home
Image credit: istockphoto.com
 

Let's face it y'all: 2020 has sucked. Royally. On SO many levels. 

I'm sure that we all have some things that we miss more than others about when life was more normal, and for me, that thing is being able to go out on date nights. Not just romantic date nights with my husband mind you, but good old-fashioned date nights with my girlfriends, where we got to get all dressed up to the nines and not have to worry about a mask ruining the red lip that flawlessly matched our outfit (but seriously, do wear the masks, folks). 

I don't know about you, but there is no season that I love more for dates than the holidays--from the crispness of Fall (bonfires! corn mazes! haunted houses!), to the magic of Christmas (twinkling lights! sledding! Christmas caroling!), it just has a happy place in my heart. 

In honor of being in the very thick of prime holiday season (why yes, I did start listening to Christmas music on November 1), and in honor of TCC officially re-opening at The Mercantile in Doylestown this Saturday, I've decided to round up my favorite at-home date nights you can do for very little $$--you know, in case you want to save your $$ to shop TCC at The Mercantile, which of course you do. :)

You can tweak these dates to do them with your girlfriends--just pile on the bling instead of the romance, haha. Fun fact: I created a booklet with some of these ideas for my husband three years ago for Christmas 2017. I was about to have our daughter, and wanted to come up with some fun ideas for date nights that we could do from home instead of needing to hire a babysitter and leave the house--I guess you can say I was ahead of my time. :)

Budget Friendly (and Social Distance Approved) Date Night Ideas
At-Home Movie Theatre
Image credit: Youtube
 

Don't let the pandemic bum you out--bring the movie theatre experience to you! Rent a movie on Redbox or your favorite streaming service, then get goofy--create a concession stand experience by using a table as a ticket window (and, of course, make faux tickets--lots of templates are available online!). Create a concession stand by lining up popcorn, candy boxes, water--and since it's your home, adult drinks if you want!--on another table, too. Once your date or your friends have all "checked in" with punched tickets and snacks, dim the lights and start the show!

Themed Cuisine Night
Image Credit: Huffington Post
 

Consult with your date or friends a week prior, and pick a country whose cuisine you have always wanted to try. If it's a romantic date, cook the food together, and if you are inviting friends, have everyone prepare an authentic dish to bring and share. 

Photoshoot
Image Credit: dir.coolclips.com

This idea is always a blast--I've done it BOTH as a romantic date and as a friend date! Grab your partner or your friends, get all fancy, and take turns taking some incredible pictures of each other to treasure for a lifetime. 

Helping Hands

Image Credit: kifumc.blogspot.com

 

This is one of my favorite date/friend date ideas, especially during Thanksgiving month: Helping Hands. Look around for ways that you can serve your community, then get together and DO it! I know things look different this year due to Covid (you might not be able to go serve a Thanksgiving meal at a shelter, for example), but there are definitely plenty of ways to give back. Participate in an Angel Tree by buying some gifts for kids in need, pay to have a meal delivered to a family in need, sponsor the family of a soldier overseas by providing gifts for the family, etc. This year, giving back is more important than ever before, so grab those closest to you, put your heads together to figure out how you will give back, and get to work! :)

Christmas Light Extravaganza
Image Credit: nimvo.com

Ready for a fun, free date night experience? Bundle up and grab your hubby or your besties and go look at all the Christmas lights in your neighborhood (or, if you don't live in a neighborhood where it's easy to walk from house to house and see lights--drive to the nearest one!). Make some yummy holiday drinks and cookies to sip on as you stroll along, and make sure to take pictures of the most incredible decorations you see. Bonus? Stop at some of the houses and do some (socially distanced) caroling!

There you have it, Folks! Some fun ideas for spending time with your significant other or your friends that won't require spending a small fortune or going into crowded restaurants during a pandemic. 

Any fun at-home ideas of your own for spending time with those you love? Drop them in the comments!

Next up on the TCC blog: Yummy Thanksgiving recipes, Small Business Saturday highlights, and Holiday Party 2020 Looks (don't worry, more than just sweatpants and a three-day-old shirt I promise). :)

Still next time, Friends, stay safe and stay kind. 
<3 
-Em
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Halloween at Home: How to Have an Amazing Halloween During the Pandemic

Halloween at Home: How to Have an Amazing Halloween During the Pandemic
Image: The Home Depot
 
In a twist that might have come straight out of your favorite scary movie (cue ominous Ghostface voice), Halloween 2020 is going to be celebrated while our country is still firmly in the grips of a global pandemic. 
So...how can you celebrate spooky season in style, while still being safe? 
Never fear, your favorite Basic Fall-Loving Chick from TCC is here to spam you with creative ideas to safely bring the fun for adults and kids (and adults WITH kids) alike!
Don't forget to shop our stylish, cozy Fall looks exclusively at thecuratedcloset.net (super easy to find, just click on the Fall tab)--use code EMILY15 for 15% off our already reduced prices :)
Halloween 2020: The One with the Pandemic 
1. Go all-out decorating your house
If people can't actually come IN your house this year, make sure the outside gives them something to remember! There are some fantastic ideas out there--from the couple in Riverside California who actually had 911 called on them because their decorations so convincingly made their house look like it was on fire (see below), to my college besties turning their garage into Frankenstein's lab, complete with actors (us) and fog machines! The sky's the limit (and let's be real, you have the time) so get crazy!
Photo credit: Riverside County Media
Photo credit: Riverside County Media
2. Host a socially-distanced outdoor party
For adults: If we have to wear masks right now (#maskup), why not turn it into a whole theme--think a Phantom of the Opera style masquerade party! If the weather cooperates (which, in PA, it looks like it will), decorate your back yard, deck, or other outdoor space with all sorts of orange lights, pumpkins, candles, etc. and host a socially-distanced outdoor party. Encourage your guests to dress in their finest costumes and matching masks, and make sure you have a prize for the best/most creative mask of all!
For kids: Cheltenham resident Christy Irizarry is planning some safe, spooky fun for her family of six this year: " We're doing a spooky backyard party with friends who are in our bubble" says Irizarry. "We're going to paint pumpkins and have a dance contest." Quakertown resident Katie Burland Poremba is bringing the magic by doing a Halloween Easter egg hunt in her yard instead of Trick-or-Treating, and Shillington resident Lindsey Hart is doing a friends-and-family only safe variation on Trick-or-Treating. 
Photo credit: venetianmaskscollections.wordpress.com
3. Host a Zoom Party 
Ok I'll be honest here--I'm not a huge Zoom fan. However, when it's the safest option to at least see the faces of your best friends and family members (especially those far away), you can still make it fun! When you send the Zoom link invite to your friends, include a few other instructions (wear a costume, a recipe for a special drink everyone will make and can consume during the Zoom party, a specialized playlist, Halloween Mad Libs-styled games you can all play together, etc.) to keep it fun and inclusive for a virtual night of celebrating!
Photo credit: fuelstorycounty.com
4. Get creative with how you hand out candy
Everyone is in the same boat this year, folks--all you have to do is run a quick Google search, and you will see all sorts of amazing ways people are planning to hand out candy in a safe, socially-distanced manner this year (like the homemade candy chute below, or an especially ingenious zipline-like decorated pulley system that delivers candy to the kids and beers to the adults from the safety of your porch!) 
 
Photo credit: Fox4news.com
5.Host (or attend) a neighborhood Trunk-or-Treat
Almost everywhere you look, local churches and organizations plan festive Trunk-or-Treat options for kids. These events were always socially distanced before social distancing was a thing! 
Photo credit: adsiunited.com
6. Plan an outdoor costume parade/competition
A super fun option for kids--especially those who are doing at-home learning this year and won't be able to have their typical classroom Halloween parties--an outdoor costume parade with prizes is a great option. Whether you choose to hold it in your neighborhood cul-de-sac with your "quarantine team", a local parking lot to include more kids from other neighborhoods, or--bonus points--in the parking lot of a nursing home to bring some joy to elderly residents, this is a fun way for kids to make sure that people are able to see their costumes, even if Trick-or-Treating isn't an option this year. 
Photo credit: gclipart.com
7. Man your fortress in character
This is the option that I'm personally doing this year. I have been portraying the "Ice Queen" for almost six years now, and I do it as a ministry to bring joy to kids everywhere. I've been doing lots of virtual appearances over quarantine, and will start off Halloween morning in character on a Zoom meeting for Voice of Our Child. My husband is going to take our daughter Trick-or-Treating while I man the house and hand out candy (family tradition; my dad always took my sister and me Trick or Treating while my mom stayed home). I'll be sitting at the end of our driveway in character, with a backdrop for photo ops, and a big bowl of candy (maybe a glass of wine for me :)) 
*Side note: I will be wearing a mask while I had out candy, as well as gloves to hand out the candy itself. I will only remove the mask if parents want to have pictures taken*
Me in character earlier this summer
8. Drop off "Spooky Baskets" or Fall craft kits at friend's homes
This is a fun one! If you aren't comfortable celebrating in person, try dropping "Spooky Baskets" or Fall Craft Kits on your friends' doorsteps! 
The world is your oyster here--fill a spooky basket with favorite Halloween treats, stuffed animals, scary movies, etc., and a Fall craft kit could include ANYTHING--Fall leaf wreath making supplies, pumpkins to paint, make your own candy, etc. 
Photo Credit: premierehomeandgifts.com
9. Create a Halloween playlist with your friends
Do the Monster Mash either socially distanced in person or on Zoom by creating an incredible Halloween playlist with your friends!
Don't forget my personal favorite Halloween classic--Michael Jackson's THRILLER!
Photo credit: thehande.wordpress.com
10. Halloween 2020 Photobook
However you choose to crush this super-unique Halloween, make sure to document it for yourself (and future generations who want to know what living through 2020 was like) by making a fun Halloween 2020 scrapbook!
Who knows? Your pandemic memories might be worth big bucks someday!
Photo credit: 15minutescrapbooker.com
There you have it, Friends! I hope you found my suggestions for this undoubtedly different Halloween helpful and fun! 
Let me know which ideas you want to try in the comments, and also, in closing...
What's your favorite scary movie?
Cheers,
-Em <3
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Fall into Fitness

Fall into Fitness

 

 

Ok, so, maybe not the most original title, but I'm tired. Haha (no, but really, I'm tired). 

Fall is the season of everything delicious--pumpkin spice lattes, apple cider donuts, pies, fritters, turnovers, Thanksgiving feasts, etc.--not to mention the Christmas and Hanukkah feasts and treats that come immediately after. How's a girl to stay fit with so much deliciousness always around? 

With the current pandemic, many people who used to work out at the gym are finding that their options are more limited. Even though gyms have opened up, many people don't feel safe returning just yet. I've seen some individuals turn to some pretty creative workout ideas instead in the absence of their normal classes.

Take my husband, for example. While he very much misses going to the gym to "pick things up and put them down" (his words), he resorted to using the monkey bars at the gym down the street to do body weight exercises instead. He kills two birds with one stone this way--he gets a great full body workout, and gives our new neighbors a morning show. 

When it comes to workouts, this is my mantra: It's easier than you might think! You don't need to be a CrossFit champ or take a million fitness classes to be your fittest self. My personal workout of choice? Simply making the time to walk in my neighborhood at a brisk pace for 30+ minutes a day, 4-6 days a week (on average). 

According to 1md.org, "for the average person just looking to stay fit and healthy, all you need is a thirty-minute walk [per day]." Walking also has been proven to boost mental health, immunity, and reduce stress (among other benefits). 

The beauty of walking (especially in the Fall!) is that you can literally do it anywhere--inside when the weather is colder, outside when it's mild. I'm so grateful that I live in a neighborhood with both ample sidewalks AND walking trails--not mention two different playgrounds IN the neighborhood that I can walk to with my little sidekick. The beauty of using brisk walking as a main source of cardio is--besides being just about the most effective lazy workout you can do--it's easy to fit into almost everyone's schedule. Whether you take a quick walk on your lunch break during the work day, or you're a busy mom walking to the park with your kid(s) instead of driving there, finding half an hour a day for a walk is most likely doable.

I have found that routine is as important to my daughter as it is to me. Almost every morning since moving to our new house in June and discovering how incredible the neighborhood is for walking, I pack my sidekick into her stroller, and we take off. I incorporate my morning cardio with her morning outdoor play time, so we both win!

In addition to walking, I also aim to do an intense, targeted ab workout 1-2 times a week. My personal favorite workout videos to target everything--arms, abs, thighs, you name it--come from a trainer named Rebecca Louise. All of the videos are FREE on Youtube, they are all brief (10-15 usually), and they are INTENSE but doable. Plus, she has the most delightful British accent...it's a win/win. Search "Rebecca Louise Fitness" on Youtube, and trust me, you won't be disappointed! 

There you have it folks! A shorter blog post today, but hopefully it helped you to see that you don't need to fear fitness, or think of it as some lengthy and complicated thing--it's OK to have a simple routine!

Sending everyone lots of love in this season--I know things are stressful. Remember that just as important as physical health is your mental health (and, as mentioned above, getting physical can help with that too!). Take time for yourself whenever you can, and make yourself a priority. Remember, you can't serve others from an empty cup; take the time to fill yourself up. 

See you next time, 

-Em <3

 

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Accessorize Me--Jewelry Essentials that Compliment Every Girl's Wardrobe

Accessorize Me--Jewelry Essentials that Compliment Every Girl's Wardrobe

Some might argue that no piece of jewelry would be considered "essential", but I would beg to differ (this will come as no surprise to my poor husband). The right staple pieces of jewelry should compliment every outfit you wear, no matter if you are going for casual or dressy that day. It should also work well with whatever other accessories you choose that day (think scarves, sunglasses, and shoes). 

I have made a habit of scouting gorgeous pieces of fine jewelry (real gemstones, solid gold, etc.) for the best prices possible. Below, I'll share some of my secrets for finding gorgeous staple pieces of jewelry for unbelievable prices (eBay!), and also my favorite place to scout well-made dupes if fine jewelry is not in your budget at the moment, but you still want to add some sparkle to your outfits. One thing I would mention before we dive in--try to stick with one color of gold for your "essential" pieces--either all gold or all yellow. This makes everything flow a bit better, and look more uniform. 

So, without further ado...

 

Jewelry Staples Every Woman Should Have to Compliment Her Wardrobe

  • A classic strand of pearls

-Your grandma was on to something--nothing screams elegance and sophistication like a simple strand of classic white pearls. The versatility of a strand of pearls can't be overstated--whether you wear them to dress up a casual tee and jeans ensemble, or your strand accessorizes your favorite cocktail dress at a formal function, a strand of pearls are one of the most essential pieces of jewelry for a woman's wardrobe. 

I recommend searching for a strand that has a solid 14K white or yellow gold clasp--silver is lovely and often more affordable, but keep in mind that silver tarnishes. You most likely won't be wearing your pearls every single day, and the last thing you want to deal with while dressing for a function is having to polish your clasp last minute. 

Perhaps shockingly, I have found that eBay is an AMAZING place to find some gorgeous pearls. The great thing about eBay is that you have 30 days to exchange a purchase, so if you want to take your new jewelry to a jeweler for an appraisal and it turns out not to be of the quality you wanted, you can return your new piece and get all of your money back. Freshwater pearls--which look almost just like their more expensive cousin, saltwater pearls--tend to be a great deal. 

This is a great current deal I found on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/17-1-2-Genuine-5-6-mm-Pearl-Necklace-w-14K-Yellow-Gold-Clasp/333437195249?hash=item4da267d3f1:g:bI4AAOSw1hZd8-4C

I purchased a beautiful strand last summer for somewhere around $30--yes, genuine freshwater pearls with a stamped 14K gold clasp! It was so beautiful and such a great value I ended up purchasing a second strand for a friend, who was equally delighted. I can't tell you how many times I've worn these pearls over the last year, and I look forward to giving them to my daughter someday. 

Rocking both my Ebay pearls and one of my favorite TCC dresses to go on-location (I'm a reporter)

  • A diamond eternity ring

-You don't need to wait for a man to buy this for you--a classic eternity ring is a jewelry staple that will not only go with everything, it's somehow both attention-grabbing and understated at the same time. 

I recommend sticking with a one carat total weight ring--substantial enough to grab the eye, yet not overwhelming on your finger and easy to stack with other rings if you wish. 

I personally recommend going with either black or white diamonds (or a mixture of both) for a classic ring that will pair beautifully with all of your outfits and other staple pieces of jewelry. 

ross-simons.com has some of my favorite, affordable, and stunning eternity bands. The one below is a classic that is guaranteed to go with everything you wear, and the eye-catchingly unique mixture of black and white diamonds (totaling one carat)  is stunning (search Item #: 923736 on ross-simons.com): 

Image credit: ross-simons.com

For a classic look for less, modgents.com offers high-quality faux stones (CZ) that sparkle like the real thing, set in real rhodium plated sterling silver. Search "The Eternity" style on modgents.com to see this ring; available in silver, rose gold plated, or gold plated:

 

Image credit: modgents.com

You get the look of the real thing, for a fraction of the price ($44.95!). The best part? This ring comes with a Lifetime Warranty, so if it starts to look wonky in any way, they will replace it!

  • Diamond Studs

-The ultimate classic piece of jewelry for any woman's wardrobe: The diamond stud. I recommend to go no lower than 1 carat total weight (or .5 carat per stud), as anything smaller will most likely barely show up on your earlobe. 

These studs from Pompeii3.com (search item number ER3150-1.0WDD on their site) clock in at just under $500 for the pair, set in solid white gold. *From experience, you will want to check the quality of the diamonds from this company. However, this particular pair is a great deal and very highly rated).*

 

A cheap alternative from modgents.com again are these great studs (search "The Ritz" on the modgents.com) for $29.95!

Image credit: modgents.com

 

  • Diamond pendant

-Every girl's best friend, you simply can't go wrong with a classic diamond stud pendant. Once again, I recommend searching on EBay, Ross-simons.com, or pompeii3.com for great deals on great pieces in your price range, and the modgents.com for a cost-effective solution. 

  • Statement ring

-Typically worn on the right hand, or a finger on the left other than the ring finger, a statement ring (preferably one set with gemstones) is a piece that is sure to thrill. I've found some incredible statement rings for great prices on Ebay, including the one below:

Over 2 carat genuine blue topaz, set in solid stamped 10K white gold with genuine blue and white diamonds, for around $200. Can't beat it!

  • "Wow" bracelet

-A "wow" bracelet can be a slightly less-classic, more personalized piece of essential jewelry than pearls or diamond studs. I say go with what thrills you--whether it's a tennis bracelet (real or faux), a multi-strand gemstone bracelet, or something classic, such as a beautiful pearl and yellow gold Tiffany bracelet my Dad gifted me five years ago that is one of my most treasured pieces. Make it loud, make it proud, and make it reflect you!

 

So there you have it, friends! My "essentials" list for classic pieces of jewelry that every girl should have in her jewelry box to compliment her wardrobe. 

Next up? I'll be exploring my favorite Fall workouts (spoiler alert: lots of walking), workout playlists, and...

SHOES!

Have a great two weeks, enjoy the Fall weather, and stay sparkly!

 

<3

 

-Em

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