Fashion

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

The Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale is finally here and will end on August 8th.  Instead of spending hours sifting through hundreds of dresses, I have made it much easier for you and have selected my favorite 20 dresses.  These are definitely dresses that I would wear to a luncheon, on a trip or to an evening cocktail party on the veranda.  If you are like me and can’t find the time to go into the store and walk for hours looking for a dress then you are in the right place!

Fashion

A Bag for Every Occasion: Raffia Edition

That ’60s and ’70s icon of style, actress Jane Birkin, was known for her purses. After all, Jean-Louis Dumas, Hermès chief executive from 1978 to 2006, created the Birkin bag in her honor. Truth to tell, though, she preferred that nondescript but trusty, picnic-style wicker basket she was famous for, the one she took everywhere and wore with everything. (She even took it to a black-tie dinner at a Cannes fete in 1974.)

This summer, the humble woven purse is back in style, and whether made from wicker, straw, raffia or rattan, it’s simple, roomy, built to last and goes with whatever’s in your closet. This season’s wovens come in a number of forms: tubular, circular, basket, bucket, lunchbox and top-handle, and run the gamut from glammed-up dressy to beach casual. There are totes, baskets, crossbodies, clutches, pint-size versions and more.

  For the animal lovers, there’s Stella McCartney’s Falabella tote in light khaki vegan suede and raffia with diamond-cut, chain-link trim and whipstitch detailing. Poppy + Sage offers a sturdy attractive rattan tote, a perfect accessory for the warm months. Brahmin’s sophisticated take is displayed in its straw satchel with white leather accents and circular gold handles; and Isabel Marant’s natural raffia clutch is trimmed in tan or black leather and great for dinner out. We love the embellished bags, like Serpui’s structured basket-weave straw purse featuring white floral embroidery, gold-tone hardware and bamboo handles, as we do Chloé’s range of raffia accessories.  Chloé partnered with Mifuko on the line, which is crafted by Kenyan artisans. One killer bag is the bucket woven from natural straw with a drawstring-fastening interior pouch and trimmed in leather. Another is the Marcie, a medium-sized, hand-braided raffia basket bag with small-grain calfskin in tan, mirage blue or pottery green that is pure, unadulterated chic. Dragon Diffusion wittily turns the straw idea on its head, creating a tightly woven basket bag in leather. And finally, for all those girls who love pearls, check out Soraya Hennessy’s basket bucket bag in natural straw with a pearl handle.

Fashion

Summer Must-Haves

Summer is officially here, guys, and I am so excited to spend some time in the sun and out of the house. I wanted to share some summer must-haves to upgrade your wardrobe game. After all, this summer will be so different from the last as businesses are open again and public gatherings are coming back. Show off the season’s new trends and styles with my hand-picked items that I absolutely love (and I hope you do too).

Decor

Newest Designer Collection at Crate & Barrel

I was shopping for outdoor pillows last week when I stumbled upon the greatest find ever at Crate and Barrel:  The Paradox Collection.  I was amazed by the quality and also the weight of the pieces.  The solid oak chairs with their linear design are beautifully sculptural, and they are what attracted to me the dining room and eventually the entire collection.  Had to share this with you guys or I could not forgive myself.

 

Lifestyle

Pantry Organization

Searching your pantry for your Panko breadcrumbs but finding only 20 jars of capers, COVID-era bouillon cubes, and that box of Cantuccini Toscani biscotti you’ve been trying to resist since forever? Organizing the calamitous mess that is a cluttered pantry can be sheer, unadulterated hell and can daunt the most organized among us. But I did it for a client recently and I’m here with tips on how you can do the same.
When I organize a pantry, I look first at what the homeowner eats and what type of organization is necessary. The process can seem overwhelming; in fact, this pantry took a team of three people five to six hours to clean and organize. But it’s worth it later on when you have an easier time accessing items.
Take note of what you have more of to determine how you want to organize your pantry. All of the items for this client’s pantry are from Amazon. It’s affordable and ends up saving you tons of money in the long run due to less food waste.
Food waste is a result of a disorganized pantry. When you can’t see that you have five packets of penne, it just makes it easy to keep buying more.  Therefore, I recommend that when you organize your pantry, it’s a great idea to take everything out so you can see exactly what you have. Then, you deep clean your pantry, throw out expired items and then categorize all your items into groups. (Crackers with crackers.) The next step is to consider where you want things in your pantry. And that depends on what items you use frequently (cereal for the kids’ breakfasts) and daily (olive oil, coffee, salt, pepper). When you can see these items front and center, it takes the chore out of searching and scrambling to find them.
We started with a tea and coffee section, due to the client’s daily use of these items, placing the tea and coffee in jars and coffee/tea organizers for easy access. We labeled the jars using the printable Avery labels, making it easier to identify where things go and what they are. We also placed loose tea and miscellaneous coffee items in woven baskets which come with chalkboard labels. This is a super fun feature because you can change the label as many times as you need to when changing products out of the basket.
We located granola bars, crackers, and other kid-friendly snacks in front, on the lower shelf for the client’s kids to find easily. That position also helps parents to know when snacks need to be replenished because they can see them at first glance. The next section we focused on was canned goods: soups and beans and similar things that everyone has in the pantry. We started off by placing a few, three-tiered shelves on which we organized cans by size due to the depth of the shelves. Shelves with more depth are good for larger cans, while smaller ones are suitable for any essential canned good. We also placed a clear, three-tiered shelf with a lip that can hold bottles, liquids, and boxes, ensuring they stay secure and don’t fall over.
This pantry also got a section dedicated to health items. The client has a lot of different kinds of medicines, which can be challenging to organize. For these items, we set up up baskets for each category of medical relief. We placed vitamins and supplements up front because my client uses them frequently and needs them within easy reach. Cold relief and first-aid items were stored on the top shelf because she does not need to access them daily.
We placed flour, breadcrumbs, sugar, and other baking needs in jars. This shows you right off the bat how much of an item you have while eliminating used-up space by replacing boxes with reusable jars. This also helps to keep rodents and bugs from entering because of the lids. So, all-in-all, one of my best pieces of advice is to go out and get yourself some jars!
When it comes to spices and condiments, I recommend lazy susans. The deeper ones can be good for smaller items or items that could fall over. However, I like the thin lazy susans for larger condiments and sauces. This keeps everything very organized and saves a ton of space. I also have acrylic pull-outs in different widths for granola and protein bars with such easy access.
My final tip is a crucial one: place pasta inside spaghetti jars. These are the only jars that will fit this height of the noodles starch while also keeping them fresh, and you won’t have to hassle with resealing pasta boxes. I keep unopened pasta boxes in a basket right next to the jars keeping everything accessible and organized.
Please head over to my Red Elevator page and go to Level 2 to see my Pantry Organization vlog. Thanks so much for reading (double points for watching the video) about my tips and tricks to pantry organization. If you have any ideas or other great secrets, or if you purchased any of these fantastic Amazon finds, feel free to leave a comment! I would love to see your approaches and any items in your home that make organizing easier for you.

 

Beauty

Equilibria: By Women for Women

Being proactive about my health is something I can plan, but it hasn’t always been something I focus on. I wanted to set some balance in my life. After all,l I’m a busy gal! It seemed impossible to do until I did my research and learned the benefits of CBD.

Many questions and answers later, I decided to try out Equilibria’s premium CBD products. The co-founders are both women who source their plants from a 1,100-acre partner farm in Colorado. Their products are all free of GMOs, solvents and heavy metals, and are pesticide- and herbicide-free, ensuring top quality harvesting and no BS. I am all for it.

Aside from the pain and symptom relief aspect, I wanted to see if my overall well-being would improve. It has been a few weeks now, and I already feel a shift. I like the fact that you can use CBD topically and orally while still claiming the benefits. Equilibria offers an array of products all designed for specific needs with us in mind, ladies.

For the newcomers who want to get the full benefits of CBD, stay consistent, and the rest will speak for itself. In addition, the company’s website allows you to take a quick quiz to discover the products that best fit you based on the answers you provide. Finally, for anyone just looking to up their CBD routine or try some new products out, there are some fantastic reviews to back up the brand.

Besides the daily drops and softgels, I considered partnering my daily dose with some personable add-ons. For example, I love the Rapid Calming Melts and Relief Balm. The melts are an excellent way for me to clear my head and give myself a breather. I can also apply the balm to those aches and pains I get throughout the day. Not only am I working from the inside out, but it’s great to have some add-ons for when I need them. I could even take a nice hot bath with some of their Mindful Mineral Soak Bath Salts and Bath Bombs. The relaxing properties of CBD with daily use make a difference in your everyday routines. In a way, it kind of feels like I’m treating myself, on top of already treating myself. Funny how that works, huh?

There have been many struggles and setbacks this year, but I can only hope for the best as time goes on. I’ve changed bad habits into new routines that help my physical being and my mental health. It all starts from within, and I can honestly say I am doing a lot better in that department. I am thrilled that I found these products, and I plan to stick to a daily routine to fully capture all the beautiful benefits. Thank you, Equilibria.

If you would like to shop their products, be sure to use this link and my personal discount code

https://equilibriawomen.com

discount code: ninatakesh

Lifestyle

Courant

When decorating clients’ homes, I’ve noticed a real dilemma with all the device-charging accouterments lying about. Charging blocks everywhere and wires, cords and cables streaming out of every outlet like so much spaghetti. The result is a truly annoying eyesore. Some folks make do with cable clips and wire holders, but outlets can be the ruling factor for designing your space for most homes, so this matters. Nothing is worse than a charger running from one side of the room to another. It looks bad and is also  a trip hazard. The little things add up, and this is something that can be a designer’s worst nightmare. With modern technology going full speed ahead, I had to check out some trending tech-appliance companies who could solve the problem.

That’s why I want to introduce you to Courant. The company’s slender and stylish portable wireless charging pads, combining the best in tech and high-grade Italian leather, blend into any room, from offices to bar spaces to patios and bedrooms. No more bulky wires or tucking your charging cords into your couch. You just place your device on the pad and bingo! I personally love their Airpods Leather Case and the Catch:3 Charging Tray. The Catch:3 includes a slim-lined accessory tray, making it super easy to keep my important items all in one place. Running out the door is now more convenient than ever. I can charge my phone in the same area as my wallet and keys are, running no risks of leaving any valuables behind. Catch:3 is designed to be weighted and non-slip so your devices will stay put no matter what happens around them.

Catch:1, a single-device charger  is convenient for side tables and office desks, while Catch:2 provides charging for multiple phones, great for any large gatherings. The leather pad design is sleek and unobtrusive which makes it easier to place the charger in any room of the house without catching attention. All in all, this is a beautifully designed wireless solution built around any and all of your charging needs.

To check out these products, click below to shop.

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Decor

CB2 Must-Haves

I recently took a tour through CB2’s incredible showroom. I was amazed by the stylish decor and gorgeous furniture they had to offer, so I am thrilled to share with you my favorite finds for Fall 2020. I’ve placed all these products on my shop page and at the end of this blog post. Feel free to take a look at my YouTube channel, Red Elevator, where I talk about these products and show you how I use them in my own home. Like turning a candle holder into a fruit basket, and how you can style a Specchio mirror to enhance any room in your home, and SO much more.

​Click the link below to bring you to my Red Elevator page to watch these videos now.

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Fashion

Father’s Day

Father’s and Father figures everywhere have left a mark on all of us. In each relationship between a father and his child, the bond is unmatched. Let’s give thanks in a big way this year by ditching the drugstore cards and hardware tool products. We’re here to help with a personalized Father’s Day Gift Guide. To find these products, be sure to scroll to the end of this blog. 

Work From Home Dad

With the “new norm” in play, let’s not forget all the fathers who still might be working from home. That trip to their favorite coffee shop might not be a part of their routine as often as before, but that doesn’t have to stop them from brewing a fresh cup of coffee every morning. But, although automatic coffee machines are convenient and effortless, they don’t always deliver the rich flavor of our favorite cup of joe. So why not treat your dad’s taste buds to an elegantly designed french press? This double glass french press is dishwasher safe and includes two latte glasses. Fast and easy to use, all the dads out there will have more control of how their coffee tastes.

And caffeinated or not, fathers’ sleep schedule might not be as consistent anymore. Ease them into slumber with a Deluxe Diffuser, Essential Oils, and Eye Mask Sleep Set. The soft, silk eye mask will crowd the world out as hey drift off into a deep slumber with the help of a ceramic diffuser and sleep oils. 

For the dads who are AFK (away from keyboard), let them express themselves with this Offline” T-Shirt”. This shirt can be perfectly paired with any type of pant material such as denim, cotton, knit, and nylon. 

Traveling Dad

You might not be booking the flights, but you can still help them pack for the trip. The Thule Crossover 2 Duffel Bag  is a light and spacious carry-on duffel, securing all your personal belongings safely while also keeping them organized. Dad will love the front tech pocket, especially the padded tablet sleeve that protects all his electronics and has a PowerPocket cord management system for charging on the go.

 

With a huge population coming out of COVID and crowding airports for a vacation escape, Dad might prove tricky to find his  luggage and even easier to mix it up with someone else’s. A personalized passport cover and luggage tag should make traveling a breeze and ease their mind while going through baggage claims.  

Catching a red-eye flight or just need to catch some Zs? This neck pillow is perfect for fathers all over. Let flying be the easy part of their trip no matter how long their air time is. The memory foam and ergonomic design will comfortably shape around their head and neck to ensure some shut-eye time before landing. 

All About the Face Dad

For the father figures in your life who either need a face care routine or want to try something new, the Jack Black Skin Savior Kit is a perfect gift. This cruelty-free, vegan skincare set include a daily facial cleanser, SPF 20 moisturizer, mint & shea butter lip balm, and face scrub. Dads can kiss those dark spots and impurities goodbye with the company’s 4.5-star rating! Each item comes in TSA-approved sizes so Dad doesn’t have to worry about carrying it on board.

Another great gift would be Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Moisture Treatment. This moisturizer, made with chestnut, soy, and vitamins C and E , tackles dull-looking skin and helps bring radiance back to the surface.

There are tons of shaving clubs Dads can join to keep on top of their grooming. One of the top-rated subscription services of 2021 is Harry’s. With a 4.9 rating, Harry’s says, “guys who shave with us four times a week say their eighth shave is as smooth as their first.”

Now let’s talk accessories! With the summer heat approaching, every cool dad needs some cool shades. These Persol Blue Gradient Italian-made sunglasses are to die for. Their acetate frames are thin with crystal-made lenses. You even have the option to make them more personalized with a monogram engraving!

Just Cause We Love You, Dad

Here are some other gifts that might be perfect for dad.

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Decor

Styling Display Shelves

I am constantly being asked by clients, friends, and subscribers how I style different kinds of shelves. The process can seem daunting. Maybe you don’t know where to start or what theme you are going for. I’m going to show you how I style shelves to make them chic and full of character and function.

The first thing I usually set up on shelves are eye-catching coffee table books. I usually place them face down, spine facing outwards. By placing them horizontally it builds a base on which you can stack other decorative items.

When I have an idea of items I want to use for decorating, I typically start by putting the larger items on the top, since this will be a place that you don’t access all the time. In this particular house, I chose these beautiful baskets, which are an ode to this farmhouse-style home. Sticking with natural materials like wicker really adds beauty and personality to these stark white shelves. These baskets are from Living Spaces, but similar items can be found just about anywhere. 

As I move from the top shelves down, I start by working from the middle out. I love starting with my favorite pieces and playing around with them to create a balance of color, height, and texture. I didn’t want too much black on these particular shelves so I started with a black vase as a centerpiece. By having the vase centered I was able to map out where I wanted the other darker decor to go. That way I could spread the black pieces out so that  they becomes a visual pop within all the other pieces. Grouping pieces into groups of two is a great way to fill a shelf without mixing too many textures. 

Depending on the feel of the home, you may want to decide on how many colors you’re using to decorate. In this particular house’s case, we chose to use a very small amount of gold items. We chose to incorporate this one gold vase because it was a wedding present, and it fits seamlessly into the feel of the shelves. 

It’s important to not group all the same items together. As always, we come back to the word balance. Avoid putting tall items on one side, or short on items on the other. The key is to keep every shelf unique and different. If you take that philosophy to heart, you will absolutely be able to decorate like the pros. 

In terms of color and balance in this modern farmhouse, I encourage you to add some natural greenery. This can be from your own yard or even store-bought. I love bringing the outside inside and you can never go wrong by adding plants and so on to your shelves, or even to any other parts of your home. 

The last tip I have as we head down to the bottom shelves is to avoid clutter. I talk a lot about balance and your eye and whether a novice designer or professional will be able to tell when a shelf feels too full. Play around with the design, perhaps leave a shelf empty. As I get to the lowest of the shelves I typically only place one item on each of them. 

Don’t be afraid to be creative, add your personality to your shelves, and play around with your pieces. Keeping my tricks in the back of your mind will help you create a gorgeous display that will have your guests wanting to redo their own shelves. 

All the items that I’ve used for today’s decorating are from Living Spaces, CB2, and Crate & Barrel and are linked in my shop. 

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Lifestyle

Kitchen Organization

During 2020 our homes became more than just the place we return to after work. They became our offices, schools and restaurants all at once. With a family working and learning at home, it became crucial that the kitchen of my dreams remained decluttered, but also extremely functional. 

Whether with an apartment or a home, I run into tall, deep cabinets in every kitchen. This can often be frustrating. No one wants to constantly bend down or reach all the way back in order to grab something. For my cabinet, my husband (a big shout-out to him!) installed bamboo drawers that serve as storage for our kitchen necessities. These drawers are incredibly easy to install and organize. I store daily-use things like  garbage bags, sponges, and bottles of cleaning products in them, and grabbing them is so much easier because you’re not shoving bottles back into disorganized shelves. 

If your family is anything like mine, each member likes a different cereal. These open, cardboard boxes are the bane of my existence and I knew I had to find a solution to organize the cereals within them. I found these amazing plastic bins, made specifically for cereal and they have saved my life. They hold exactly the amount of cereal in the boxes and come with a vacuum-locked seal that prevents them from going stale. 

I love my beautiful white sink and I want to keep free of clutter, while also maintaining its function. Sponges are a necessity for keeping our dishes clean, but I’m not a fan of how they look. I bought a white sponge holder that hooks onto the sides so that the sponge is out of the way, while still close enough to use. Speaking of sponges, I have been loving the sponge daddy sponge I learned about from Shark Tank. It’s eco-friendly, hard on one side and soft on the other, and activated by water. With all that in mind, I love washing my dishes by hand. However, I find that with most regular gloves for washing dishes, water drips into them, causing more mess than I began with. These new gloves that I purchased have little wings at the end of them that prevent water from dripping in. 

I’m a huge salad person and I love having all the things I need for them easily accessible. In my cabinets, I have turntables where I can store all the things I need, and make it incredibly easy to find what I am looking for. There are several sizes and styles that you can choose from to fit your kitchen’s aesthetic. Of course, these can be functional for anything you may like to store on them, like seasonings, soups, or anything else you may think of. 

Oh, the cutlery drawer. It gets disorganized and slammed too hard along with spoons ending up with forks, and butter knives with chopsticks. The solution I found is the Rev-a-shelf inserts that keep the cutlery organized at all times. These inserts come in a large size, and all you have to do is cut it down to the size of your drawer (a saw of some sort is needed). I also found a wonderful knife caddy from The Container Store that keeps them clean and organized. 

I mentioned before that you can use turntables for organization, but I have a few other solutions that you may want to try for yourself. Spice drawers and cabinets are typically the first things in my house to become dirty and cluttered, so I’m always searching for the best way to keep them clean. I have a three-tier bamboo rack that I am obsessed with. The tiers allow you to locate the one spice you may be looking for without digging through a bunch of them. I also took my spice rack organization one step further transferring them to jars from Ikea. I then just typed out the names of each spice, printed and taped them onto the front of the jar. I love how unified it looks, and keeping it organized is that much easier. 

Having a designated spot for your items helps maintain a clean space. Tea is one of my favorite things to have in the house and the bags can easily become cluttered and difficult to find. I love this perfect tea storage that makes searching for your desired tea a piece of cake.

I just couldn’t do a kitchen video without my favorite part of my kitchen, the Rev-a-shelf that houses my mixer. It makes the process of baking that much easier and eradicates having to pick up the mixer each time it gets used. 

The last kitchen organization tip I’m going to share with you is my favorite wine holder. This is perfect for any dinner party so that washing your glasses becomes incredibly easy. Like most, I like to wash my glasses by hand and this portable and easy-to-store stand keeps them beautifully clean and ready to use for the next party. 

Click here to watch my video on Kitchen Organization!

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Beauty

Merit Beauty Makeup Routine

The year 2020 was a reset year in which we sought out ways to make our lives less complicated. Whether it was investing in our own set of dumbbells,  ordering hair cutting shears, or bidding farewell to fancy manicures, we moved away from high-maintenance beauty regimens in favor of a simpler, cleaner life. This is precisely what Katherine Power, co-founder of fashion brand WhoWhatWear, was chanting when in January, she launched her new makeup line, Merit Beauty, and its five-minute makeup routine.  

This concept was perfect for the days of quarantines and lock downs. Gone were the hours of contouring and creating smokey eyes as we shifted eagerly to the luxury of minimalism. After years of using 20 different concealers, mascaras, and eye shadows I was delighted to discover Katherine has developed a line that requires only five essential yet powerful products.

As a busy mom and entrepreneur, I could not have asked for a more ideal makeup line. I have always been a makeup lover, but the multiple steps of an average routine require time that I simply don’t have. Why waste expensive and heavy products when I have to wear a mask throughout the day? Merit promises luminous and flawless skin with eco-friendly and cruelty-free products, and I don’t think I could ever go back to my old routines. The line leaves my skin feeling fresh and light, and the DayGlow complexion stick is the perfect product for to replace heavy foundations or concealers.  Merit also offers eco-friendly tools, like Brush No. 1, to blend the complexion stick onto my skin. To add color, I’ve dab the Flush Balm onto my cheeks with my fingers. Instead of creating a mess with a thousand brushes, Merit’s products are designed for simplicity and those on the go, making vanity messes disappear. 

Katherine is a powerhouse with an immense knowledge of the fashion and beauty industry. She has so many unique ideas and tips that I couldn’t wait to give this makeup line a try. The Brow 1980 gel is one of my favorite gels. It brings the look together and makes my brows feel bold and full. To finish off the perfect eye look there’s the Clean Lash lengthening mascara. I’ve been using the same mascara for years, so it would have to take something extraordinary for me to make the switch. The Merit mascara is non-toxic and light but lengthens my lashes giving me that perfect feathery look. It also lasts all day without running. Yay! Finally, no look is complete without lip color. The sheer, tinted lip oil nourishes my lips but still has the luxurious feel that other glosses give. It’s the perfect lip for everyday activities like running errands and going to work. I love a natural color, and the Au Naturel shade fits my needs perfectly. I have to say my favorite part about the lipstick is that it does not have a scent.

I’m loving the extra time I have in the mornings since my routine has been considerably shortened, not to mention not having to worry about heavy products that are harsh on my skin. Merit beauty has incredible products that I now cannot live without. Check out my tutorial video for an easy step-by-step application process.

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