Advent Calendar Idea :: 25 Days of Kindness

In light of all the visible hatred going on in the world, combined with days upon days of consumerism frenzy, I really wanted to refocus and help my kids turn their attention to something positive this holiday season that does not involve any of the material things they want. And with it being the beginning of December, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to introduce them to a new way to count down to Christmas--something they're already super excited about.

I have never really grown up using an Advent calendar, and up to this point, it hasn't yet become a part of our holiday tradition. But lately, I've been trying to think of ways to teach our children the concepts of empathy and altruism. Given that they are currently ages 8, 6, and 3, these ideas are pretty foreign to their egocentric existence.

It's a battle sometimes, helping young children understand that the things we do as parents, such as creating structure... and rules... and setting limits, are done ultimately for their benefit (according to our parental minds) and not because we are hateful tyrants here only to make their day the "worst day ever" (which is how they see it and they do make sure we know it too). Being second generation immigrants, they are showered with all the rewards without any awareness of the struggles and sacrifices that preceded them. I can see how easy it is to feel entitled to all these things when it's all that you've ever been exposed to. It's certainly not their fault, but I do feel that it is my responsibility to instill in my children a deep appreciation for what they have, an understanding that they are not entitled to anything, and the desire to bring kindness to the table in everything they say and do in life. That's not too much to strive for, right? Personally, it's daunting and sometimes feels hopeless (like when they're complaining about a meal I just spent 2 hours prepping and cooking, or throwing a fit because screen time is over, or complaining about picking up their own toys), but I can only keep trying.

With the hope of practicing kindness and being mindful of our actions toward others, this is how we are using our Advent calendar this Christmas.

>> Each day, each one of us (mommy and daddy included) will do at least one nice thing for someone else.. something that doesn't benefit us directly in any way. It doesn't need to be a grand gesture. Small and simple are just as grand when they're genuine acts of kindness.

>> We'll write them down on these little slips of "happy heart" papers that I made and will talk about them at dinner time. We'll put them in the drawers for each day.

>> Then after Christmas, we can pull all the pieces out and reflect on all the things we chose to do to for others and how they made our hearts happy.

Today was Day 1 and already, I'm so proud of the kids. At school, Jax saw a kid on the playground (a student he didn't already know) who looked lonely and he went to play with him. At lunchtime, Kaili's classmate spilled her own lunch and Kaili stepped in to help. Even my youngest, Lexi asked if she could help me load the groceries into the van, and when we got home, she helped me bring groceries into the house. I really hope that this momentum continues! These things may seem small right now, but I'm hoping it's laying the foundation for something greater and lasting in their lives.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?


eNVe 6x6 :: Sandy of Sandy a la Mode

Next up on my eNVe 6x6 Style Series is Sandy. I met Sandy several years ago when she contacted me and invited me to my first ever blog meet up, before there was a KC Blogger Meetup (now The Blog Guild). Not sure how she found my blog, but I'm so grateful she did! So much has happened since that time (like she had 2 babies! and moved half way across the country), but one consistent factor was that she was always super stylish and effortlessly so. You'll see for yourself.  ;)  She chose to style a one-of-a-kind eNVe matte gold statement necklace with faceted quartz nuggets.

>>> Tell us a little about you and your blog.

Hello! My name is Sandy and I am the blogger behind Sandy a la Mode! My blog is primarily a women and kid's fashion blog with features on DIYs, home decor, recipes, and lifestyle too.

>>> How would you describe your style in one sentence?

>>> Being a busy mom of 2 little ones, working full time, and blogging full time, how do you manage to balance it all and keep fashion at the forefront of daily life?
Yes, I am very busy, but we all need to get dressed every day right? I just pay a little more attention to fashion trends and outfit pairings, maybe more than the normal person, but it's something I enjoy!

>>> What is your favorite item of all time from your wardrobe and why?
Wow that is a tough one. But I would say my favorite items are tulle skirts because they are just so beautiful and fun. But my most worn items are probably every day dresses or distressed skinny jeans!

>>> What trends are you looking forward to this fall/winter season?
I think a big trend will be black and white!  It's nothing too crazy, but it's definitely a classic. I know that I said my style is colorful, but I actually love doing outfits that are all neutrals with a pop of color!

 >>> Do you have any predictions for Spring Summer 2016 trends? Anything you hope will make a big comeback?

I think muted gray or blush pink colors will be big next Spring/Summer... at least I hope they are since I think both are beautiful colors that can act as neutrals too!


Thanks so much for sharing your style with us, Sandy!  

Now that seasons are changing, what are your fall/winter wardrobe staples for this year?  For me, it is breaking out the booties and boots....forever and ever, it's the staple I look forward to wearing every fall.  

Stay toasty, everyone!


How to polish raw brass jewelry

A lot of the metals I use in my jewelry designs include raw brass and raw copper. And by raw, I mean that there are no finishes applied to the metal, such as any patinas, antique finishes, or anti-tarnish treatments. I LOVE my metals raw. But by nature, raw brass and raw copper are both rather reactive to air and the oils on your skin, and therefore tarnish much quicker than sterling silver (which also tarnishes, but much slower). Personally, I love the natural aged patina that happens after wearing brass jewelry, but I also love a good golden gleam! Great news is, brass is super easy to polish! 

I use Brasso. You can find it at Home Depot for around $2 and some change! It's so easy to use. It looks like this:

I just take an old pair of socks you no longer use. Make sure they are clean! I said old..not dirty. ;)  Put them on your hands like mittens. Use one sock for the Brasso and the other sock for final buffing. I'm right handed so I use my right hand sock for the Brasso and left hand for buffing. Dip the tip of your index finger into the Brasso (its texture is like lotion which makes it relatively mess free! and you don't need much.."just a dot, not a lot" you know the saying if you have little ones). And just rub it directly onto the metal in a circular motion. You'll see the tarnish start to disappear (it's transferred onto the sock). Dab more Brasso as needed. Then do a final buff with your clean sock on the left hand. Voila! Your brass should now be gleaming like new!

See the photo below. On the left, is the tarnished brass bracelet. Right side has been polished with Brasso. And to illustrate how quick and easy it is to polish, I finished this bracelet in less than a minute. It's not much trouble and a very small price to pay to go with raw brass (versus gold plated..which brasso cannot untarnish). It is affordable, tarnishes beautifully, and can be polished beautifully (and easily)! 

The cool thing about this stuff is that it also works on several other metals: copper, stainless, chrome, aluminum, pewter, and bronze. But do not use it on plated metals or metals that have artificial patinas or anti-tarnish finishes on them, and do not use on stones.

Next up, I'll share my homemade sterling silver polish. You won't believe how easy it is..it's seriously like magic! But really, it's just chemistry. ;)  

This post came about after fielding several questions from customers. So as always, let me know in the comments if you have any other questions about jewelry or metals or stones! I love sharing my knowledge about these things and if I don't know the answer, I will find it! 

Have a happy weekend!!


eNVe 6x6 :: Megan from Chasing Davies

Spring Look

First up in my eNVe 6x6 Style Series is Megan from Chasing Davies. I met Megan several years ago at the first ever KC Blogger Meetup event and have since admired her eye for style. At the time, Megan had recently become a new mom and began her blog to explore style and fashion after motherhood. I'm one of those people who had (90% of the time) let my personal style float by the wayside after having kids, so it was refreshing and inspiring to see a new mom not forget that important aspect of herself. With a wonderful flair for color and patterns, not to mention how to make it all jam so impeccably, of course I had to invite Megan to participate in 6x6! Just check out all the diverse ways she styled this eNVe long druzy necklace from spring to winter!

Spring Look

Spring Look

>>> Tell us a little about you and your blog.

My blog is a life and personal style space that I document my family happenings, travels, learnings, favorite things and outfits! It's a space I can be creative and share what's making me tick. I love learning from other people's experiences and perspectives, so I hope to be able to do the same for others.





>>> How would you describe your style in one sentence?

My style is always shifting and changing depending on my mood, the season and even the year, but typically includes classic pieces with a bold or trendy pop, and I'm always up to try new things.

 mama/daughter look
An adorable mama-daughter duo for sure!

mama/daughter look

>>> What are your favorite go-to pieces from your current wardrobe?

For this summer, I'm living in my Birkenstocks, sundresses and simple (and light) jewelry!

boho style

boho trend

boho trend

>>> What important factors do you think about when selecting jewelry and accessories?

I think about all the types of outfits, pieces and/or ways I could style the piece(s). I never want to buy something that is very limited. Additionally, I weight the cost of it with the quality and longevity of the piece (both in wear and in trend).

fall to winter

fall to winter

>>> And if you dare to venture here, describe a "fashion disaster" moment you've experienced.  ;)

Oh, I have so many! I'm always up to try new trends - the best way to see if something will work for you is to try it on! And I've learned, thanks to my blog, that some things just don't work for me (and that's ok!).

winter snow

winter snow

winter snow

Megan, thank you so much for sharing your fabulously fun style with us! 


eNVe 6x6 Style Series

One of the most fun and rewarding things about being a designer is seeing your creations out and about in the real world, integrated into people's lives. I'm sure all artists could attest to this! So I have teamed up with six of my favorite style bloggers to bring you this new series I'm calling "eNVe 6 by 6".  Each blogger will each style one eNVe Designs piece in six different looks. I'm super excited to see how these ladies will incorporate their piece into their already fabulous wardrobes! Pictured above are the first looks from each blogger. I'll be individually featuring each of these ladies and their blogs in the next couple months and you'll be able to see just how creative they are with their outfit choices! I already know...that's why I personally selected them!  ;)  If you're not already following their blogs, I hope you'll stop by and visit.  While you're there, tell them I said hello. :)

Sandy // Sandy A La Mode
Megan // Chasing Davies
Lisa // Peridot Skys
Lashonda // Fashion Plate KC
Shea // Shea Lennon

And if you're ever wearing eNVe Designs, I'd love to see it! Just tag me @eNVeDesigns and #eNVeDesigns on twitter and/or instagram or share to my facebook page. Who knows, you may be selected to participate in my next 6x6 series! :)


KC Fashion Week Recap :: Part II

Thanks for checking back in for the second part of my KC Fashion Week recap! So I attended the first night, missed the second night, but was happy I got a chance to attend the final night of runway shows, especially because I knew Project Runway alum Lauren Kathleen would be there!!! I was such a big fan of hers on the show and was excited to see her designs walk the runway in person!

Prior to the runway shows, I got to attend the Ulta Beauty media event, where I got to sample delicious drinks, deserts, and hors d'oeuvres. They certainly know how to entertain a lady. ;)

I also got in some chat time with these two lovelies, Antonia (who just launched Curvaceous City) and her sister Alexis. They're super sweet, funny, and doing some great things here in KC! We probably could've chatted the entire night, but before we knew it, it was time to get seated for the runway shows!

While walking to my seat, I spotted Laura Kathleen and had a major groupie moment. I had to force myself to go talk to her because if I didn't, I knew I'd be kicking myself later. So I'm happy to report, I did it! She was so sweet and approachable..and just look at her adorable baby bump! :)

If I had to pick a highlight of the evening, this would probably be it.

Now onto the show!

The collection by Christina and John, the duo behind Architexture (love that name), combined structure and texture so seamlessly. I loved the sleekness of everything and can definitely see myself wearing practically everything in this collection. They had a couple of jackets that are to die for, but sadly, I didn't get clear pictures of them.

Kate Walz
Definitely one of the most notable collections of the night was this one by another young designer, Kate Walz (she's only 17!). Again, I'm just so incredibly floored by the amount of talent she already has. This is the stuff I expect to see when I think "runway"...more avante garde and daring looks that push boundaries. I loved her blend of structured textiles with more feminine silhouettes. It definitely made for an unconventional look. And just check out her final look!


Laura McGrew
These TOMBOY Designs looks by Laura McGrew were classic, yet edgy. I must be going through a black and white phase because I find myself gravitating toward these neutrals, along with greys and off whites, in my every day clothing lately. I love the clean, classic lines, and I also really appreciate the asymmetrical pieces (like the grey short-sleved jacket below, which I failed to get a clear pic of).

Christian Micheal
I loved that there was another men's wear collection at this season's KCFW! Christian Micheal did not disappoint. Again, when I think runway, I expect to see more daring styles like these. I love the details he incorporates in each one of these looks. I must be a sucker for structure and texture because I really appreciate all the detailed work that went into these pieces! Just look at the quilting and impeccable stitching involved. Aside from the exaggerated collars and cuffs, they're pretty wearable. I actually kind of wish he did a version of this collection for women!

House of Cochon
Anyone who knows me knows I love jewelry. Obviously! ;) And I love a good piece of statement jewelry. So when I found out that House of Cochon was showing their collection, I couldn't wait to see it! I'm definitely digging their natural, tribal, bohemian vibe. The splashes of color are refreshing and make me want to hop on the next plane to the nearest tropical beach. It's always inspiring for me to see the work of other jewelry artists and to know how far they've come. I definitely walked away very inspired...and who knows...maybe eNVe Designs will walk down the KCFW runway too sometime in the future!

Whitney Rorah Designs
As an artist, I'm always viewing others' work through an appreciative lens, particularly imagining how many countless hours it took for this person to achieve the piece of work I see in front of me. That's exactly what was going through my mind when I saw Whitney Rorah's collection. Just look at the amount of meticulous detail that went into all those gowns! 

Laura Kathleen 
I have to be honest, Laura Kathleen's collection was much more casual and ready-to-wear than what I was expecting, given her incredible work on Project Runway, especially her collection for NYFW. So part of me was a little disappointed that there wasn't a real "WOW" moment with this collection. But that said, I still think she is amazing and I do love the flowy, feminine look of this collection. Sometimes it's hard to make black look ultra flowy and feminine, but she managed to do that here. Plus, the sunnies and the head scarf are calling me to take a coastal road trip in a convertible! Who wants to go with me? I'm pretty fun on road trips! ;)

There you have it...my entire first experience with Kansas City Fashion Week! It was so much fun that I know I'll be back for more next season! In the meantime, I think I need to get some red-carpet posing lessons! And some photography lessons! LOL

So which collections caught your eye?? Good or bad?