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H&M Home 2011 Spring Collection

I was finally able to read my December issue of Elle Decoration UK. I was stunned to find that 1. H&M has a home collection and 2. the products are available in the online shop.  Not to mention that 3. the advertorial presents inspiring spaces for him and her.   I thought to myself, yes, 2011 is looking pretty good.

H&M brings their low price tag and attention to trends to their Spring collection for the home. While they are sticking to accessories for now, I foresee them venturing into furniture. Check out some of my favorites from the collection.

And a shot of the storefront of the London flagship store - ugh - yet another reason to be bummed that I don't live there.

Photo Credits: 1. One Photographic, 2. Ria Trudgeon {Beautifully photographed by Damian Russel, click his name to check out his amazing work}, 3. Tea For Joy, and 4. Style Pantry

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Merry Christmas!!

I am feeling especially thankful this Christmas as this is the first time ever that I am hosting family.  Yesterday,  a friend asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I quickly said, "nothing".  And I thought to myself - hmm, it is uncommon for me to not list at least a couple of things.  And then it hit me, my family coming to visit DC is the best gift that I've received to date.

Wishing all of my readers, a holiday filled with cheer and the warmth of being surrounded by family...Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Decorating for the Holidays

I love the holiday season, especially because of the cheerful decorations. This weekend, I went crazy decorating. As a single guy, I wondered how I could balance incorporating Christmas (my holiday of choice) cheer and not going overboard. I figured that I would share how you can do just that.

1. Keep it simple - my place is small so I settled on 3 holiday statements - a tree, a wreath, and garland. Also keep the decor simple as well.

2.  Create a budget - prevents overspending

3.  Go real - while a personal preference, there is nothing like the smell and look of a real Christmas tree, wreath and garland

4. Get inspired - what do recall from your childhood? I started with how much I loved our large Christmas trees growing up. Rather real or fake, the tree was always at tall and full.  Image above from Apartment Therapy....great color palette and love the oversize ornaments

Here are some great options that inspired me this season.

THE PALETTE

Fruitfully Luxe I love this palette of rich cherry red, violet, plum, blackberry blue, and teal. Image from Apartment Therapy

Monochromatic and masculine. I love the ads for Macy's this season featuring stylish duds in an equally stylish christmas back drop.  Note the great tone on tone gifts in chocolate and silver....Love that combination this season as well. Image from Glamour Boy

THE TREE

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My tree of choice this year  and perhaps for years to come is the Concolor Fir AKA White fir.  The trees tend to be quite full and quite wide in diameter but the overall look is phenomenal.   Here are some ideas for trimming the tree.

Images by Cupola House Tree and  Iowa State University

Fruitful Plumage

Monochromatic

Silver  with  subtle pops  of color

Love the gold and silver in the Macy's tree and the pool of ornaments is fun touch - imagine integrating your gifts too.

Tree images Credits: Apartment Therapy 1,3 Your Nest Design 2, Macys 4

WREATH

My favorite wreaths and garlands incorporate magnolia leaves.  Perhaps it is because I am from the South.

Traditional Charm

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Pottery Barn Magnolia Wreath and Williams Sonoma Bay Leaf Wreath  - add a colorful bow to these beauties for some pop

Monochromatic

Crate and Barrel Centerpiece Wreath Champagne

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Neiman Marcus Shell Wreath and CB2 Bubble Ball Wreath or Garland - a little DIY project

Out of the Box

NM Lodge Wreath (R)- masculine and certainly a conversation piece, although I would loose the dangling spruce cones

GARLAND

My favorite wreaths and garlands incorporate magnolia leaves.  Perhaps it is because I am from the South.

Traditional Charm

Copper Ribbon Garland by William Sonoma - WS has great combos for wreaths and garlands

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Pottery Barn Magnolia Garland and William Sonoma Triple Berry Garland

Monochromatic

Vintage Beaded Glass Garlands - combining these will provide the look of the garland in the Macys ad I love.

Crate and Barrel Jingle Bell Garland

So have fun decorating this season but remember to keep it simple and classic so your decor will stand the test of time.

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Fall / Winter Fashion Must Haves

Although, I have been in denial, fall is here and winter approaches. The cold weather does mean wearing more clothes which means more opportunity to make a statement with your style. Here are 5 things I am obsessed with the Fall/Winter season. 1. Tailored Preppy American classics are back but with modern tailoring which I love.  And I especially love the clothing from Penguin this season.

2. Blazers & Ties Try dressing up more whether you have to or not...Add a skinny tie to an long-sleeve oxford and a herringbone blazer with dark blue jeans...For a more layered and warmer look add a cardigan or sweater.

3. Work Boots I am obsessed in general with boots but my favorite style this season is military and work boots in dark colors - black, charcoal, or brown.   Specifically, I am digging Corcoran Jump Boots...pretty easy to find on Amazon or even Ebay for a pre-owned pair.

4. The Vest Vests are an easy way to dress up  just about anything.  I especially love a vest with a henley or oxford shirt.

5. Black and Tan Not sure why but this winter - I am all about mixing blacks/grays with camel/tan colors.  I plan to pull out my Camel coat this winter and wear a black oxford, pants, and boots...and you should try it to.

IMAGE CREDITS: 1. The Fashionisto, 2. J Crew, 3. The Blaque Book, 4. Macys, 5. Eclectic Jewelry and Fashion

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Buying a Used Car

The search for a car has contributed immensely to decline in posts lately, my apologies.  However, I am pleased with my purchase and  I am loving my "new-to-me" 2009 Volkswagon Rabbit, pictured above.  I learned a great deal through this process and thought that I would share with you.

1.  Do your research! I am not a huge car person but you must be familiar with the following when purchasing a used car:

- Searching multiple sites, eg. Craigslist, AutoTrader, Cars.com

- Appraising using Kelley's Blue Book or Edmunds

- Checking the Carfax report

- Getting cars checked out by a mechanic

- Financing (if you plan to get a loan)

- Certified Used Cars Additionally, I found a lot of information on Edmunds.com to extremely helpful during the search, from articles, to reviews, to car listings, so start there!

2.  Know what you want! I decided to purchase a Volkswagen early on as I have always wanted a Jetta or a Golf (a.k.a. Rabbit). Focusing on these models made things easier as I looked for cars through private parties and dealers.

3.   Determine a budget and stick to it! As you begin looking at cars, it is surprisingly easy to lose sight of your budget.  And especially, don't let a dealer or anyone lead you astray.  If you finance, pay attention to residual value so that you don't wind up upside down on your loan - or owing more than the car is worth.

4.  Take your time! Avoid making  decisions on the spot.  I found great value in taking a night to think every time I came close to purchasing something.

5.  Go with your gut! Buying a used car involves risk so if your gut is telling you something is off - something is off!  I was considering purchasing a Jetta (pictured above) at one dealership and the manager was very brash and aggressive, all the while not explaining the fees assessed.  I just felt uncomfortable and despite the low price on the car.   I just got a real sleezy vibe and started questioning everything.  So, I left the dealership.  Best thing I could have ever done. Because....

I had a wonderful experience purchasing my car from the first salesperson I saw during my search.  We negotiated pricing and I feel that I received a great deal on this car.  He was exceptionally knowledgeable and never pressured me to buy.  In fact, he followed up with me the day before the shenanigans at the dealership mentioned above.  I just had to get back in touch with him because I felt more comfortable working with him.

So special thanks to Charles at Volkswagen Alexandria.  DC readers, if you are interested in a new/used VW, give him a shout.

IMAGE CREDITS:  2 from Edmunds

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