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DIY

DIY Discount: Dolce & Gabbana Fruit Earrings

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dolce-and-gabbana-lemon-earrings-diy-16D&G photos via & via.

I have a major (orange) crush on the Dolce&Gabbana accessories department. The jewelry, handbags, headwear and phone accessories that come out of the Italian house season after season are stunning enough to make a girl willing to work another job just to afford one or two of them. Among my current favorite pieces from the D&G Italian Summer collection are the intricate earrings dripping with ripe fruit that seems to be plucked straight from the orchards of Sicily.

And it seems I’m not alone—Beyoncé herself donned a pair of D&G lemon earrings on her Hawaiian vacation last week. So I set out to satisfy my Queen Bey taste on a pre-American-Idol-Jennifer Hudson budget. It took me awhile to source the perfect lemon drop beads and enameled leaves, but once I had all the materials ordered, these pretty earrings were a breeze to assemble.

dolce-and-gabbana-lemon-earrings-diy-14For this project, you’ll need the following:
• rhinestones (I used these from Hobby Lobby, but you can use any rhinestone as long as it has a flat back and somewhere to attach a jump ring)
• flat earring posts (I used these 10mm ones)
• E6000
leaf beads
• fruit beads (I used lemon beads from this bracelet and these orange beads mixed with these orange beads)
daisy cabochons
• wire
• needlenose pliers
jump rings
eye pins 

dolce-and-gabbana-lemon-earrings-diy-8dolce-and-gabbana-lemon-earrings-diyTo make the lemon earrings:
1. Start by adding a bit of glue to the flat earring posts and gluing them to the backs of your rhinestones. Let dry completely while you assemble the rest of the earrings.

2. Add a bit of glue to the backs of the daisy cabochons, and attach them off-center to the bottoms of the rhinestones. Let dry.

3. Twist thin gold wire through 4 enameled leaf beads, creating a small loop before threading the wire back through the bead hole.

4. Add a gold jump ring to the top of each lemon bead. Thread two leaf beads onto each jump ring, making sure the leaves lay flat on either side of the lemons.

5. Attach the jump rings to the bottoms of the rhinestones. Et voila!

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To make the orange earrings: 
1. Start by adding a bit of glue to the flat earring posts and gluing them to the backs of your rhinestones. Let dry completely while you assemble the rest of the earrings.

2. Add one orange bead to the eye on the end of your eye pin. This will be the base for the earring.

3. Twist thin gold wire through about 7 or 8 more orange beads per earring, creating a small loop before threading the wire back through the bead hole. Now you’ll have a bunch of orange beads fitted with a thin wire loop.

4. Add jump rings to 5 or 6 leaf beads per earring.

5. Starting with the orange-tipped eye pin, layer on orange beads and leaf beads, alternating until you have a nice, full look.

6. Trim any excess, then connect the top of the eye pin to the loop at the bottom of your rhinestone teardrop.

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DIY, Food

DIY Chinese Paper Lantern Cupcake Toppers + Orange Cream Cupcakes

chinese-new-year-paper-lantern-cupcake-topper-4chinese-new-year-paper-lantern-cupcake-topper-7Gong Hey Fat Choy! Today is Chinese New Year, which officially marks the start of the Year of the Monkey. And while I, myself, am a rabbit, I’m still going to heartily celebrate and hopefully usher in some good fortune for the upcoming lunar year. With that in mind, I baked up some super-simple, semi-homemade orange cream cupcakes, since eating oranges at the beginning of the year is said to bring wealth and luck. According to Chowhound via the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, the tradition of eating oranges and tangerines for the new year, “stems from the way the Chinese words for gold and orange sound alike, while the word for tangerine echoes luck.” That’s good enough reason for me. And lest these cupcakes not look festive enough, I topped them off with mini Chinese lanterns crafted from bright red and pink paper and finished with sparkling gold designs and playful tassels.

chinese-new-year-paper-lantern-cupcake-topper-5For the paper lantern cupcake toppers, you’ll need the following:
• varying shades of red and pink cardstock
• gold wire
• gold beads
• metallic gold gel pen
• gold embroidery thread
• gold eye pins
• gold jump rings
• glue

1. Print out this template, making sure it stays to scale to make a 3/4″ cube. Trace the template on cardstock and cut out.

2. Using a gold gel pen, draw geometric designs on the outside of the paper.

3. Score along each corner, then add a small amount of glue to the three tabs and fold up the cube, holding each tab closed for about 30 seconds to ensure a good hold.

4. Once the glue dries, poke holes through the top and bottom with a needle, then thread an eye pin through the cube. Add a gold bead on top and close the pin with a loop.

5. Make a small tassel from gold embroidery thread using this method, then attach the tassel to the bottom of the eye pin using a jump ring.

6. Finally, cut a length of gold wire and bend it in the shape of a candy cane, looping the end so you can rest the little paper lantern on it. Stick it in an orange cream cupcake to celebrate the lunar new year in style!

chinese-new-year-paper-lantern-cupcake-topper-1chinese-new-year-paper-lantern-cupcake-topper-6 chinese-new-year-paper-lantern-cupcake-topper-12Orange Cream Cupcakes

Cake Ingredients:
• Betty Crocker SuperMoist Yellow Cake Mix
• 3 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup orange juice (instead of water)
• 2 tsp orange zest

Frosting Ingredients:
• 1/4 cup butter, softened
• 2 cups powdered sugar
• 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 to 3 tsp of milk
• orange zest for garnish

Directions:
1. Follow the directions on the cake box, substituting orange juice for water and adding 2 teaspoons of orange zest to the batter. Bake cupcakes and let cool.

2. To make the frosting, cream the butter in a medium bowl then beat in the sugar and vanilla extract. Add milk bit by bit until you’ve achieved the right consistency.

3. Frost cupcakes and top with orange zest and a Chinese lantern topper!

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Accessories, Style

3 Ways to Tie a Silk Scarf

three-ways-to-tie-a-silk-scarf-3three-ways-to-tie-a-silk-scarf-2 The neck scarf—tolerated by flight attendants, beloved by Daphne and worn with a stylish sense of machismo by the perennially cool gaucho—is staging a comeback. Seen tied jauntily around the craning necks of the blogging elite this summer, the bandana lent a sense of borrowed-from-the-cowboys nonchalance to any number of distressed denim shorts and draped t-shirt combos, further popularizing a trend that started on the runways of Prada and Saint Laurent last season.

I, too, succumbed to the casual allure of the bandana, but as temperatures drop and heavier textiles (hello velvet! how do you do faux fur?) start making their way to the front of my closet, I sought a neck scarf that could keep up. So, I tucked away my collection of red and blue cotton squares and tucked into the basket of vintage silk scarves at my favorite local antiques and vintage shop. The aforementioned designers showed their neckwear skinny and monochromatic—a look I love, to be sure—but for this dress I preferred the on-trend ’70s vibe afforded to me by this sherbet-hued silk square. Possibly even better than the Mick Swagger this vintage beauty adds to any look is the versatility with which it can be worn. Here are three simple, chic ways to style a silk scarf.

1. I’ve always loved the look of a brightly colored scarf tied casually to the strap of a leather handbag—extra points if it’s Hermès—so this style was my immediate go-to. This look is carefree, slightly bohemian and easily transferable from outfit to outfit.

three-ways-to-tie-a-silk-scarf-142. Roll the scarf at an angle and knot it loosely around your neck for a Mick Jagger-inspired look that’s as cool as it is retro.

three-ways-to-tie-a-silk-scarf-5 three-ways-to-tie-a-silk-scarf-6 3. Skip the bracelets and wind a scarf around your wrist for a playful take statement jewelry.

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Scarf: vintage // Dress: Lush // Bag: Coach // Sunglasses: Ray-Ban via Endless Eyewear // Shoes: Target, old // Necklace: Julie Vos // Bracelets: BaubleBar, Julie Vos, H&M // Nails: Wallis by Butter London

Clothing, Style

Orange You Glad

orange-you-glad-6orange-you-glad-4orange-you-glad-1orange-you-glad-3orange-you-glad-5orange-you-glad-2Top: Old Navy (similar) // Jeans: Nordstrom // Belt: J.Crew (old) // Purse: Therapy // Shoes: Nine West // Necklace: Julie Vos // Watch: Michael Kors // Bracelets: Kate Spade, J.Crew, Julie VosForever 21

We took these pictures a few weeks ago, when there was still a chill to the air and the dirt path behind our house was still mostly dirt and naked trees. I wanted to wear something bright and cheerful in hopes of bringing about warmer weather—and I think it worked! Since these photos were taken, spring has officially sprung.

Cardinals are building their nests in the flowering trees in our backyard, peonies are growing (and falling over from the weight of their beautiful blossoms) along the sidewalks and the Midwestern humidity appears to be here to stay. Now I just have to remember: next winter, when I’m sick of the cold and longing for warm weather, all I have to do is wear orange.

Clothing, Lifestyle, On the Cheapish, Shopping

Fair Isle for Foul Weather

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Sweater: Old Navy // Shirt: Old Navy // Jacket: J.Crew Factory // Jeans: Old Navy // Bag: Rebecca Minkoff // Boots: Sam Edelman // Bracelet: Julie Vos // Ring: Stella & Dot // Nails: Essie in Blanc

I learned a new word this week: Chiberia. And with temperatures dropping below -15° with wind chill in Chicago, I came to a full and complete understanding of the origin of that chilling nickname.

As winter settles in for the long haul, I’m daily realizing how ill prepared my wardrobe is for sub-zero weather. Not to mention the fact that I’m still without proper footwear due to the massive nationwide shortage of duck boots. But let’s look at the silver lining of this snow cloud, shall we, and discuss this cozy ensemble that fought bravely against the elements.

My plan of attack is to layer until I’m warm enough or I can no longer fit into my coat, whichever comes first. Thankfully, this fair isle sweater and button-down combination provides warmth while maintaining a streamlined silhouette—win-win. Even better? I got both on mega-sale at Old Navy.