Back in the Act

If you thought this sweet little blog was dying, you were not alone. I, too, had my doubts. With so much more interest in the bridal blog and a slew of deadlines upon me (not to mention, you know, getting married) it’s been a crazy fall.

But now that my brand-new husband and I are settled in our new home just outside Washington, DC, and I am no longer working full-time… it’s back.

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Many things have changed, but you know… Dolce still hangs out in boxes.

Sparkles and Fun has been my little running diary, starting in the always-cold apartment on 100th street where I used to type away into the wee hours after working a full day (more than a full day) as a publicist. It’s been an outlet for exciting news on the fashion and beauty fronts, and even some of my adventures in cooking. (I’ve gotten better, Mom. I swear!). I am just not willing to give up on the glitter! Moving forward we will be stepping it up. Stay tuned for plenty of sparkles, and lots more fun.

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The Spaces Between Fun

friendsDo you get out enough? It seems these days that no vacation lasts as long as it should, no weekend is filled with enough adventure, each special plan is marked by its ending. My mom and I call it the Sunday Blues, and unfortunately they can come on at any time, not just Sundays. I feel it when a date with my fiance is coming its end, and believe me, I cried before we hopped the plane home from Paris.

So, how do we solve this? I have a fantastic job and a fulfilling extracurricular lifestyle as a freelance journalist. We have a lovely home and two sweet pets. And I don’t need to tell you how much I adore my fiance. So, what is the secret to staying jazzed up about life on the in-betweens? You need to make a fun plan. And then make another. And another. You will not be jetting off to Paris at a moment’s notice (that was wonderful, but it was a one-timer!)

But there is brunch and there are parks and sweet cities to discover and dog parks to wander about. If it’s not in your budget or allotted vacation allowance to take a trip anytime soon, add something fabulous to your calendar, ten days from now or less, and that night after you’ve unwound from the day’s adventure, start to plan your next one. Here are some ideas that work in any city:

cupcakesThrow a sweet party. These do not need to break the bank. My brother once hosted a cupcake tasting for which he purchased cupcakes from Manhattan’s top competing bakeries, cut them into quarters, and had guests vote on their favorite. Beer and wine were kept cold over ice that filled the bathtub. Guests snuck out to the rooftop for cigarettes, listened to music and swayed about in their summertime cocktail dresses. It was a truly divine evening, one I’ll never forget. And the party cost next to nothing. You can do this just as well by baking them yourself, and having some guests bring baked goods, too.

Top Tip: Invite a couple friends to crash at your place, and let them help you clean up in the morning.

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you can find the recipe for this super-yummy lavender lemonade at http://www.sophistimom.com

Do a “spa day” with your girls. You might not have the cash for a full-on day of nails, massage, facial and so on, but you can still make a spa day happen. Gather up your best girls, a bottle of polish and a flatiron. Take turns doing each other’s nails and hair outside in your backyard or at a local park. Snap lots of pics and Instagram like crazy. You’ll get some sun in lieu of a spray tan, and this Long Island girl never shied away from that!

Top Tip: Make a refreshing and delicious beverage for your girls like lavender lemonade.

popcornEat popcorn for dinner with your leading man. Dinner and a movie can run you a good $100 these days. If you just need to get out of the house, and don’t want to spend a fortune, plan a movie date night with your guy and skip the dinner portion of the program. Popcorn and soda are loaded with cals, so if you swap it for dinner, you’re saving money and your girlish figure. Josh and I are doing this on Friday night, and we can’t wait!

Top Tip: Dress up all fancy like you’re going for a night at the opera. Or just throw on a pair of heels with your jeans. Your guy will love it, and you’ll feel like a million bucks.

So these are just a few of my favorite things to plan when I need an escape from reality. What are yours?

Sunday Afternoon & A Couple of Vogues

Yesterday Josh decided to play tennis in the afternoon, so I decided to go to the gym. And then I decided to instead give myself an afternoon off and indulge in my greatest dual pleasure–sunshine and fashion. I leashed the dog and headed to our rooftop, getting some much-needed color on my blindingly white legs and flipping through this and last month’s Vogues (it’s been a busy eight weeks!), along with an Us Weekly and the latest Martha Stewart Living. Heaven!

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I dog-eared some chic spreads, ripped out a cool recipe, and happily watched my pup catch some sun-soaked Z’s. Sure, I prefer when Josh is around because anything with him nearby is more fun than not. But it was still lovely.

When you have two free hours on a Sunday afternoon, what do you love to do with them?

A lovely thing happened on the way to the beach…

Crystal Pier, San Diego, California… where this little princess became someone’s fiance.

Devoted readers, friends, family… everyone in Sparkle Land who has been wondering where the Hell I’ve gone… please FORGIVE me. In addition to a glorious full-time job that pushes a tad (or more than a tad) past the normal hourly range of “full-time,” and a blossoming freelance writing roster that keeps me busy, Joshy and I disappeared over the week of July 4th for a little R&R… and a BIG life change.

That’s right. After three and a half years of love, laughter, and even some major tears, the man I picked up in a bar in March of 2009 gave me the surprise of a lifetime of July 5, 2012. I thought it was an evening stroll pre-dinner, until he knelt down and shared some very special (private) words, and asked me to marry him. I’ve never known such joy!

Back to Brooklyn, back to reality. I’ve never known such chaos! Between the job and the after-hours job, the wedding planning, and another big announcement that’s in the works (NO, I’m not pregnant!), we’ve been running around like crazy people. We even ran ourselves right into Sinus Infection Land this week, and it’s been Hell climbing out.

This was taken on our vacation, but pretty much sums up what we look like around here most days. Working from home, wedding planning, and other exciting things lead to lazy haircare routines and sweatshirt re-runs.

In any case, I just wanted to remind you that I am still here, and Sparklier than ever! I have a new bridal blog, Born to be a Bride, which I hope you will check out. And I have new, happier outlook. I will not stop blogging about all things sparkly from summer dresses and lipglosses to the fall collections, as they roll out. But there are some big changes coming for this little bride-to-be, and I can’t wait to take you all along for the ride. Let’s go!

xxx, Jensy

One thing this super-blogger and bride is always armed with: a Venti. Keeps me sane, productive, and creative.

This is what makes us girls

Rocking out to Lana del Ray’s “This is What Makes Us Girls” with my pink earbuds plugged into my pink-rubber-bunny-cased iPhone is a fabulously girly thing. The song makes me think about all the trouble my little posses of the past got into… in high school we were cruising around in the back seat of older boys’ Jeeps, swigging Arizona iced tea mixed with cheap vodka out of water bottles. In college we were buying clothes on our parents’ credit cards and pretending no one would ever find out. And then there were the parties… but no need to get into all of that now.

Flashback: Pookie’s bachelorette party in March 2010. Oh, what a night!

Last week: Getting trapped in a hurricane en route to pick up Pookie at work. This served as the perfect time to experiment with a deep side part and a navy eye liner that I found in her glove box.

So, what now? I’m in my late twenties (yes, I am at the age that I can still pretend is mid twenties but everyone else in the world says it’s late. I am over it). I live a calm and quiet life in Brooklyn with a wonderful boyfriend and a sweet little cat. We don’t have children but we do make dinner together from scratch. I make the beds and he does the laundry. We take walks to the pier for ice cream and occasionally I convince him to join me for a boozy brunch with friends or a raucous happy hour. It’s all blissful.

Pookie is domestic too. One night while I visited her in CT, she buried herself in this cookbook trying to decide what to make me for dinner. In the end, we settled on Chinese takeout.

But what about the girls? I spent this past weekend with Pookie remembering what makes us girls. We got really corny-chic manicures at a local salon for $15 a pop. We went shopping and tried on a million lovely things, then bought one each. We skipped the maxi dresses and blue plastic bangles we didn’t need. We lunched on Thai food outside and, influenced by the crisp rose, went back and bought the unnecessary maxi and bangle. (Pink wine and sunshine will do that to a girl. Learn it!)

We ate Mexican food for dinner and got dressed up for no one but each other. We straightened our hair and wore sky-high heels (and our new dresses, you guessed it!). We stumbled home, drunk on jalapeno-infused margaritas and laughter. We stayed up too late watching reruns of Teen Mom and dancing around this pristine little Brooklyn apartment like school girls. (Yes, Josh was out of town!)

It was more than a weekend of splurging and laughing. It was a time to reflect on who we are, who we were, and why we ended up friends in the first place. She might be my sister-in-law now (my brother fell in love and married her after we graduated; can you blame him?), but at the heart of it all, there are a few things that never change. Glitter, lip gloss, music, high heels, secrets, laughter, drip coffee, and pink wine. This is what makes us girls.

Years and miles might have brought us farther from the moment that this shot was taken, but at our core, Pookie and I will ALWAYS be these girls.

Worry Dolls

I am a worrier. It’s evident in my daily life today and it was evident in the video footage of me as a child. It’s my fourth birthday. The dining room of my home has been decorated in glitter and tulle. Little girls surround me in a circle of sweetness, handing me gifts and giggling in two’s and three’s. Pan in on the leotard-clad princess in the middle of the circle now. There is a look of sheer panic on her face.

I remember it well. I was worried about the possibility of opening a gift and not liking it. Would I be able to do a good fake? Would the offending gifter catch on and get her feelings hurt? Even more importantly, was I actually worth all this attention? Did anyone even like me? And so began a journey of worry, one that has yet to end.

Now that I am (quite solidly!) in my twenties, I’ve learned to conceal the worry. I think of my relationship with my anxiety much like the proverb about the duck–calm on the surface, paddling like the dickens below. I am quick to conceal anxious thoughts with a huge smile and a self-confident remark. And, in the big picture I actually am quite a happy and confident person. But often, beneath the surface there lurks a sense of doom. What if…? What if…?

Luckily, Pookie serves as a constant source of positive energy and support. She’s also helped me to create a little trick for easing the worry. We call it the Worst Case Scenario Game. You look at the issue you’re frightened/concerned/stressing out about. Then you play out in your mind (or aloud, with a friend, over a cocktail) the absolute worst thing that could happen as a result of this situation.

Step by step, you make a comprehensive plan of how to deal with that worst possible outcome. Now, you have control. Once you’ve assessed the situation this way and gained control, you will find you’re not as worried as you were before. And, my little worry dolls, it’s almost never as bad as the worst case scenario, so you might just find you have very little to worry about after all.

She's been making things better since the days when I used to dye my hair to look like her...

Resolutions for a New Me

Do you all feel the pressure? It’s the first week of the new year and it’s time to assess what mistakes we’ve made and figure out how to make better choices in 2012. My personal resolutions follow a new and different trend this year than last. Before, I was very concerned with eating in a healthier way, drinking plenty of water, and spending more time listening than speaking. I’m glad I made those decisions at this time last year, and they’ve certainly paid off. I’ve lost some weight, am feeling generally healthier, and have forged new friendships with amazing people due to my adherence to the listening plan.

But this year–can I say this??–it’s more about me. I am ready to embrace the things about myself that I want to improve for personal gain. I hate to really admit this in a public space, but I have (finally) realized after a slew of downs (yes, there were ups, but mostly there were downs in 2011), that I need to commit to myself or no one else will. It is time to kick that novel into high gear and get it done. It is time to moisturize every single night without making a single excuse. It is time to preserve myself even if it means cutting out people who are not there for the right reasons.

On New Year’s Eve and in the days before, I spoke to many people who were absolutely certain that this year is going to better than the last. Socially, economically, personally. Whichever motivations fuel you, you should follow them. You should believe wholeheartedly that this is your year. I know that this is my year, and I am going to do whatever it takes to shine. Not for anyone else, but for the girl in the mirror. It’s time for me to make me proud. I hope you all are working diligently on your own dreams, and remembering that you owe yourself the best that you have. If you build it, they will come. Let’s build it. This is our year.

A Very Sweetsie Chrismy Season

Budgets and kittens and deadlines have kept us from purchasing the grand, real tree we might have imagined. But in Williamsburg with my little brother this Christmas, the choice to borrow a neighbor’s white tree and make everything deliciously sparkly is good enough for me. I came home from work on Sunday to find a delightful little Charlie-Brown-esque white tree in a corner of the great room modestly decorated in sequins, lights, and little silvery swirls of aluminum tinsel. Yesterday afternoon we finished our shopping (everyone is getting a little–or huge–blue box this year) and I have to say, I am quite pleased with the result.

Now, I’ve just finished sculpting and painting my nails in Lilacism, my old standby. I’ve come home from a delicious evening with a dear old friend from my magazine days. And as I sit here looking at my little tree, and watching the cats run around over Oriental rugs and through hanging silk scarves, I have to admit things are looking up. It’s been a long and interesting year, and quite frankly, a pretty dismal month. But December 25th holds promise of family and love, and plenty of booze. No complaints here. Happy season, my beloved readers! I hope you all rally around your trees, Menorahs, and/or family with the same type of appreciation and love that I am lucky enough to enjoy.

Add a Little Glitter

Ready to spice up your day but not quite sure how to do it? A touch of shimmer goes a super-long way. You don’t have to go all out to get into the sparkly season, but you can add bits and bobs to join the trend wagon, while adding some much-needed glitter to your busy, crazy day. Some ideas:

Shadow

A sparkling eye shadow is a great way to brighten up your face. While you might not choose this look for day, it’s a fabulous choice for evenings on the town, a hot date, or a Christmas party. Make Up For Ever is one of my favorite brands, and you can always count on them for eye makeup that has serious staying power. This glittering shadow from the brand, only $13, is a perfect treat you can buy yourself and it comes in a ton of great colors. Sephora.com.

Lips

MAC Cosmetics’ “Glitter and Ice” lipstick is slick and special and works by the light of the moon… or the office. From shimmering silver to a punchy, robust red, there is a hue for you. Swipe it onto well hydrated lips for a perfect shimmer and a pretty smile. $15.50. Maccosmetics.com.

Nails

You know I’m an Essie girl, but I have to give a little love to butter London, one of the best nail polish brands to burst onto the scene in recent years. We knew the Brits had style, but did we have any idea how serious they were about their nails? Now we do. The current collection features some pretty crazy sparkly colors that, when worn with everything from a simple black sweater and jeans to a little spandex dress, will make you stand out in the crowd. $14. Beauty.com.

I Remember… this Day in December

Cool weather has settled in. We’ve had some snow and there is definitely more to come. As December arrives and winter is starting to encroach, it makes me think of times gone by. December is a beautiful month filled with warmth and good feelings. Whatever the “holidays” mean to you, the bottom line to me has always been family. From my dad’s side to my mom’s, from the friends I’ve made who have become family to the colleagues about whom I care deeply, December is the time to celebrate these special people. We can save ruminations and regulations and resolutions for January, facing reality happens in February, and then depression is sure to set in some time in March.

But on this, the first day of December, I would like to wish everyone in my life all of the warmth that you make me feel every day. And to that end, today is World AIDS Day. If you have been looking for somewhere to pour the overflow from your love cup, the AIDS cause is a great place to do it. You can go here for information and ideas on donating and helping out with this important cause. I personally have lost a very dear loved one to this terrible disease and it is extremely close to my heart.

With lots of good wishes for a warm and healthy December…

xx Jensy