Thursday, November 29, 2012

Declaration Boutique and Events

I am beyond excited to be sharing with you my favorite place to shop...well favorite place to be actually. A few months ago my sister Jamie stumbled across a boutique while in St. Augustine. The text went something like this...

Me-uhhhhh, why, what's up???
Me-I still have my PJs on, I'll be there in 5 min.

My sister and I owned a boutique together a few years ago so we both can appreciate a really, really good one when we see it. The time, love and pure agony it takes to run a successfully unique boutique is a gift. Declaration Boutique and Events is just such a boutique. What happened when I pulled up and took my first step inside was truly magical.

My first thought in the world is this store in St. Augustine? It is straight out of New York or Chicago. How lucky are we to have something this special right at our back door! Not only is the aesthetic so adorable it is little overwhelming, the owner, Lara was just as fabulous. When checking out at the counter you could just tell how much she loved her store by the way she wrapped every single little item, regardless of price, like it was the most significant item ever purchased. I didn't want to take anything out of the bag because it was just too stinkin cute inside!
It is one of those places that I thought, maybe I should keep this place to myself because I want everyone to wonder how I always find the best gifts! But I decided that I love this store so much that everyone should stop what they are doing right now and go there. Seriously.

After quite a few shopping trips to DBE, I'm sure she thought I was stalking them :) I asked her if she would mind sitting down with me to chat a little bit about her and how my new favorite hang-out came to be so I could share with you. She was kind enough to oblige and my shop crush just deepened :)

Lara grew up in small town PA, where the shopping was scarce (they just got a Target, woo-hew). She was able to travel around the country for competitive dance which allowed her to visit big shopping meccas such as Las Vegas, Chicago and New York. In college, where she studied fashion, she was also able to travel to Italy and France. But her trips to New York and Chicago were where she found her biggest source of inspiration. She loved the feeling of finding that hidden gem of a boutique. She knew she wanted a boutique of her own to be that for someone else and in 2010 that dream became a reality. She started with a smaller location where she really focused on helping new brides and styling wedding events. On April 13th of this year she moved Declaration to it's current location to hone in on the dream gift boutique. She is lucky enough to run the shoppe with her hubby of 1-1/2 years, Steven (aren't they adorable!!!).

She describes the store as a welcoming place full of gifts that anyone could come in and buy a special treat. You can come in and spend $10 and feel just as special as if you spent a couple hundred dollars. Because Declaration is located in what is probably considered a touristy area she feels like her clientele is about 50/50 make up of locals verses out-of-towners. More of us ladies from Jacksonville and surrounding areas are discovering the rejuvenation of uptown St. Augustine and making a day out of shopping, eating and relaxing...which fits perfectly with the store's feel.

Lara explained to me her take on the art of gift giving. She recommends grouping multiple items together based on a theme, be it by color or jewelry or personal interest. It forms a more cohesive gift experience. For example, if you are looking for a holiday gift for your best girlfriend...maybe a scarf a bracelet and it up, make a basket, add some ribbons...voila, the perfect gift.

Speaking of gift baskets, this is a niche Lara is perfecting. She hopes to offer online gift baskets in the coming year. She can help you put together an amazing gift basket from items in the store that is guaranteed to impress anyone. The hardest part is going to be narrowing down what you want to give away and what you will want to keep!

Lara takes her time selecting what she sells in the store. She loves the thrill of the hunt, searching for an item that is just right. She doesn't rely on the big Markets to find her goods. She wants you to be surprised when shopping, not seeing something you have seen in a dozen other stores.

Her favorite item in the store is a whale ornament she found while on her honeymoon in Hawaii. She scoured her sources until she found it. It means something to her as do so many items she selects. That is what sets her store apart. She is the furthest thing away from a big-box store. She cares and it shows.

A very special thank you to Lara and Steven for allowing me to hang out and talk shop with you guys. And as always, allowing me to drool over the unique finds you serve up on a vintage platter. As I like to describe it, DBE is like the best parts of Anthropologie except affordable and more fabulous :) Enjoy some eye candy to tide you over until you experience it for yourself...


Now to all of my local peeps....grab your bff's, your mom or your man and plan a trip to Declaration. There are gifts for every occasion.You can finish up all of your holiday shopping as well as get yourself a little something that you deserve!

Tell them Wendy sent you!!!

Declaration Boutique & Events
77 San Marco Ave #2
St. Augustine, FL 32084

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Countdown to Christmas

Can you believe that we are almost done with November? We travel up to South Carolina to visit my in-laws for the Thanksgiving holiday so we always decorate for Christmas before we leave. That way we can come home ready to celebrate the Christmas season!

I thought I would share an easy Christmas DIY before I leave. Advent calenders are so much fun and my kiddos love counting down the days to Christmas!

Last year I had a lot of party supplies left over from birthday parties I had thrown so I whipped up a simple advent calender using items I already had around the house. I had paper goody bags in different shapes and colors (from Polka Dot Market), cupcake wrappers, doilies, crepe streamers and stickers.  Inside I filled with treats (2 of each) like candy, coupons I made on the computer or gift cards. I counted each bag from 1-24 with the stickers and sealed them up with tape.

Since we are always hanging out in the kitchen I decided that was the best place to hang them...that way the kids can start their day off with a goody bag while eating breakfast :) I used good old fashioned clothes pins to hang them.

Since my kiddos have no idea how to "gently" open anything (lol), last year's advent calender was a one-time deal. So this year I decided to make one that can be used over and over again. I saw an idea on Pinterest where they made a Christmas stocking out of an old sweater. So I thought, the same idea could work with advent bags. I started with a few of Bella's old shirts that were way too small. I didn't have quite enough so I ran by the Goodwill and snagged some baby shirts for $1.
 I took a few pics this time along the way to help with the DIY steps...

You could use markers or even sew numbers on each bag. I had some iron on transfer paper laying around so I decided to use that. I typed up numbers 1-24 in fun fonts on my computer and printed them out on the transfer paper. Cut each number out and iron on the bags.

Once again, I stuffed each bag with candy, coupons and small toys. I used some twine to tie each bag and hung using clothes pins.

 I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving & fun decorating your home for Christmas! If you have any links to Christmas DIYs you love, please feel free to leave in the comments section!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Making Macaroons with Maria

So yes, I do have a passion for those sweet little Parisian cookies...the macaroon. Lucky for me, my good friend, the very talented Maria Davis of Love & Sugar Kisses has perfected the art of making them. She indulged my request to stop by my kitchen and teach me how she works her magic. Normally I would document with photos but I thought this might be a little more fun...hope you enjoy!
***you might have to let it load a little bit so it doesn't start & stop...and turn the volume up, it is a dance-worthy song!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gift Guide-for the Traveler

Whew...the elections are finally over and regardless of who you were voting for I'm sure that everyone is happy that it's done. I saw this floating around on Pinterest yesterday and thought it was hysterical:

The gift guide for today is for that friend who either loves to travel or loves to daydream about traveling (or both). Links listed below and all items are $30 or under!

  1. Where I've Been Scratch off Map. $20.00
  2. I was Here Journal. $16.95
  3. State Mug (countries available too). $18.00
  4. Monogrammed Luggage Tags. $9.99
  5. Wanderlust Travel Planning Kit. $16.00
  6. Satin Sleep Mask. $29.95
  7. Brass State Necklace. $30.00
  8. Vintage Luggage Tag Calender. $30.00

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gift Guide-for the Party Planner

Next up...a few gift ideas for those girlfriends in your life who have a love for party planning. I admit it, it's definitely one of my favorite things ever (after it is over). Planning for months a party that lasts 2 hours is definitely not for the faint of heart. Bless my hubby & kids who have just accepted that twice a year (hahahaha, more like 4-5 times a year) I plan a party and during that time I am going to be cranky and stressed and the day before I am most likely going to throw my hands up, scream that I want to cancel it all then have a good ol' fashioned cry over a batch of whatever I'm cooking that just got burned unrecognizable. We all know someone like that...well, here are some items, under $30 that can cheer up that stressed out party planner (links below):

  1. The most adorable party hats ever! $24.00
  2. Floral Garland Kit. $16.95
  3. Photo Booth lips. $12.00
  4. Sweet Designs by Amy Atlas. $15.21
  5. Happy Stripe Gift Tags. $7.50
  6. Sugar Cubes DIY cocktail kit. $13.95
  7. Ana's Striped Taper Candles (set of 2). $22.00

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gift Guide- for the Kate Spade Lover

Now that we have moved into November I feel it's safe to start talking gift guides! I love all things Kate Spade...too bad I don't have the bank account to love her like I would like to. Her bold color patterns with simple lines are perfect for someone who is creative but still likes things in order.

So I came up with a list of gift ideas (all under $40) that would be perfect to give to your girlfriend, sister or mom who have that sophisticate but spunky personality. Links to each gift below, happy shopping!

3. Thank You Cards. $24.00
4. Painted Monogram Bracelet. $39.00
5. Mon Cheri Umbrella. $20.99
6. Glitter Dot Cosmetic Bag. $4.80
7. Enamel Bow Studs. $14.99
8. 2-Pack Winter Gloves. $5.95

Monday, November 5, 2012

Glamping Day 2-part 2

Our weekend getaway ended on the most amazing note...a Farm to Table feast held at The Martyn House. I'll warn you, I snapped a picture of each of the 5 delicious courses but it was a candle light dinner and I didn't have a flash so they are little blurry but you'll have to take my word for it, everything was top notch! The chef for the evening came in from Atlanta and we also had a professional wine guru who paired a wine for each course. So 5 course & 5 glasses of wine, you can only imagine how the "after party" went (hint...there will not be any pictures of that).

Quite a few locals joined us for the feast and they all dressed up in halloween costumes...since Mike and I didn't bring any costumes we decided I would wear my camera around my neck and we'd call ourselves tourists :)

I love it when Mike gets asked to take group photos...he definitely has the best angle :)

In the backgound of the party they showed the movie Young Frankenstein!


After we stuffed ourselves silly, we headed out to the bonfire where JoAnn had a sweet surprise for me. Since I was there celebrating my birthday and there was one other dinner guest celebrating his birthday she announced to everyone around the fire that she wanted the two birthday folks to follow her out into the field (the pitch black field). I reluctantly got up, looked at Mike and said, "please don't let me do anything stupid." We had to hold on to each other because we couldn't see and we walked about 100 yards into the dark. When I turned back I could see Mike and all of the other inebriated relaxed guests sitting around the fire getting smaller and smaller. Then JoAnn asked us to hold two white squares. I still couldn't understand what we were doing (to be honest, I thought we were going to be doing some kind of howl at the moon ritual). Then she got a lighter out and caught part of the white square on fire. It quickly started expanding and I realized what it was! It was a wish lantern...just like in the movie Tangled. She told us to make a birthday wish and send them up into the sky. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my whole weekend. And thankfully, Mike snapped some pics with his iphone. A little explanation...the guy in the picture with me was in costume, lol.  I'm sure in the deep south it's common to wear red long johns to a fancy party but he assured us it was all part of the costume :)