Scenes and Styles from Maine

Being a young parent has its pros and its cons. I would never ever trade it for anything in the world but I will say that sometimes I learn by experience. For instance it wasn’t until 2012 that I realized our family never took vacations, I just forgot that it would make sense to build a family tradition by visiting the same spot every year. So in late 2012, I turned to my husband Dave and told him we were going to Maine. I’m not sure why I chose Maine, maybe because I had a coworker from Maine that would talk it up, maybe it was the idea of the cool ocean or maybe it just sounded like a tranquil-all peaceful- scenic travel location.
I booked us a cabin that same evening and therefore our Maine annual family vacation tradition was born.
When my husband and I were married last year, we chose Portland, Maine as our destination.
This post will be picture heavy and thin on words as I’m still on vacation and want to stay off electronics as much as I can (but obviously I struggle with that, just look at my Instagram account!).
I will leave with you these pictures, non filter, au naturel to show you why I love Maine and when I am back I will write the actual reasons why Maine is one of the beautiful spots I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. 

Harlow & Dahlia Events: Engagement Shoot

In 10 days, it will be my one year anniversary. It seems incredible this much time has passed by since August 29, 2015 yet the seasons have changed and here we are.

Prepping up to celebrate my anniversary here are some inspiration shots from our engagement shoot.
Reminiscing on how much fun it was to snap these and can’t wait for our year anniversary shoot.







Style Inspiration: Pencil Skirt

If you were to ask me my favorite fashion item ever it may well be a tie between pencil skirts and liquid eyeliner.

Pencil skirt slightly outranking the eyeliner. My first recollection of my love for pencil skirts came from childhood. I was a strange child, let’s get that out in the open. Very strange in fact.

An only child, I had to rely on imagination to not be bored out of my mind. When I first moved to the United States, didn’t know the language and virtually had no friends, I found some form of comfort watching old Hollywood movies. I fell in love with Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Lana Turner and of course Jean Harlow. I admire Jean’s beauty and glamour so much I named my event planning company after : Harlow & Dahlia Events. My favorite Old Hollywood era was the 1940’s and Film Noir. (On a different post, I’ll cover how my love for Film Noir led me to become a film major for a year in college)

One thing that always stood out to me about this era is the clothes, I just love the style of the 40’s. Clean lines, dark tones, wavy hair, red lipstick, big eyes, strappy (is that a word?) heels.
I feel I belong to that era, while I don’t necessarily believe in reincarnation, if ever something would make me believe is the sole fact that I am convinced I must have lived in that decade.

The pencil skirt was a trademark statement of that time. I have images of Marilyn Monroe wearing a beautiful black skirt bouncing around in espadrilles wedges.

Whenever I need an instant pick me up, I don on one of my many pencil skirts, dash the eyeliner, grab a Starbucks and I feel like a million dollars. I love the instant glamour the skirt provides me, I feel fit, elegant and ready to go.

I wear them to work, I wear them out and about, I wear them on casual days and big occasions. I wear them with heels such as below and I wear them with flip flops, sandals, wedges, just about any suitable shoe EXCEPT sneakers of course. Never sneakers + a pencil skirt shall mix.

I find them to be such a flattering piece of clothing on most women. If you don’t own one yet, I ask you to go out and buy one. You’ll see what I mean about feeling glamorous in them!

                                                                  Skirt: Express
                                                                  Top: Old Navy
                                                                  Shoes: Liz Clairborne
                                                                  Lipstick: Burt’s Bees– Scarlet Soaked
 

The Joy of Cooking & A Zest of Color

I finally bought The Joy of Cooking Cookbook. This book has been a to buy item in my planner for months but I kept putting it off. I am SO happy I finally picked it up. I can now see why this book is so legendary, it has thousands of quick, easy and delicious recipes for all types of tastes. I’ve been trying one out each evening and thus far they have all been huge hits at home!
When I came home last night and took a look at my outfit and its vibrant, zestful colors I immediately knew I wanted to cook something just as cheerful! I settled on pg 515 and tried out Keema Aloo, a well known Pakistani dish  consisting of beef, potatoes and what seemed like hundreds of spices including my favorite spice: Turmeric.
The recipe turned out delicious, I should have probably taken photos but we were too busy eating it!
I promise it is worth trying and you will not regret this delicious comfort food. More importantly I cannot recommend purchasing The Joy of Cooking if you have not done yet! I am SO happy to try out all these recipes in upcoming Fall and Winter. It is going to be an amazing cold season just imagining the delicious food and dishes we’ll make, colorful outfits and the most helpful of assistants such as my daughter Mackenzie below.
Dress: Old Navy
Sweater: H & M

Look of the day: A Navy Dress & a Couple of Philosophies on Hand

I have a few philosophies I live by that I’ve picked up through the years. Little actions and thoughts that carry me through times where I wonder how I’ll make it.

My very favorite philosophy and we’ll say :

Philosophy #1

If you don’t feel great, if someone has done you wrong, if this and that is happening then dress to impress yourself.

Dress SO amazing that you spark and fly out of your house ready to take on the world. Carry yourself so high, shoulders up, determination in sight. Everyone that sees you will gasp and just like that you silence any doubters.

It isn’t necessarily about impressing others but more about showing life who you really are. The times are tough, great, then dress like you are off to the greatest party of your life. Because life is short and you can’t sit around waiting for the party to come to you which brings me to:

Philosophy #2

Sometimes we need to make the party happen ourselves. Stop waiting for the compliment, stop waiting for the better job and the better relationship. Those things will never come just as long as we wait and abide to complete our happiness waiting for their arrival.

Here is my “stopping traffic, philosophies in my mind” outfit:

Dress: IZ Byer- Kohl’s
Shoes & Bag: Vintage (bought somewhere in NYC somewhere ago)
Red lipstick: Burt’s Bees all natural line – Scarlett Soaked




Look Inspiration: Live for Today, not for Yesterday

This Monday, I woke up and had things in perfect order, I ate a healthy breakfast, laundry was done, house was clean, the girls were woken up early.

Yesterday, I was a wreck. The week slowly descended into “what is going on?!” and yesterday was a very tough day, an unexpectedly difficult day with surprising challenges.
The day ended with a friend posting this picture of me on Facebook and my husband showing a side of him that I had seen before but I never really, really, really appreciated as much as yesterday evening. As he was speaking, all I could think about is how emotional, encouraging and beautiful his words were to me were.
Somehow everything else seemed like an inconvenience in the way.
Today, I look at this picture of me and remember my husband’s words and I feel so incredibly happy, grateful and blessed. The future has never looked brighter.
I look SO happy in this picture and this is the future. Do you have any photos of you that remind you what your true purpose in life is? Remind you who the best version of yourself is? The version you want to grow and keep developing?
My favorite quote from my husband’s reassuring talk: “You have to live for today, what happens today, it’s already behind, leave yesterday behind. You’re not changing, you can’t”

The fashion statement in this photo isn’t the dress, hair or flowers, it’s my smile. Cheesy as it sounds, it’s my favorite thing to wear!

Outfit Inspiration: Black & White + A Color Pop

I can’t believe it is Wednesday. I also can’t believe how busy I’ve been and as much as I try to post each day of the week sometimes it isn’t possible! My rules for blogging are:
1- Family first
2- Work and Harlow Dahlia Events second
then…and only then I allow myself to post!
Well obviously this week #1 and #2 kept me very busy but I am back.
I am preparing for my business’ first bridal show this week and I just CANNOT wait. Stay tuned for a post about the bridal show and my set up design.
For today I want to share a look I had a few weeks ago now, a simple black on white business day take with a very colorful pop of color in my shoes! I LOVE these shoes. They are Liz Clairborne and they are the most fun shoes I’ve ever owned. I get so many compliments on them! They are classic enough to wear to work and yet fun enough to wear with any outfit.
I love this look for workday attire because it is understated and  it is practicable enough to wear to a very conservative work environment or a work environment with a less rigid code. Once out of work,  you can go out on a date or out on the town with it!
I love adding a fun pop of color such as these shoes as the outfit is simple enough to take on the colorful, flower pattern shoes. If I were wearing much brighter colors, that could be a questionable mix of patterns and colors. So remember, simple + pop of color = aesthetically gorgeous outfit
Skirt: Express
Till next time!
Claudia

Outfit Inspiration: Sunday Easy Look

 This summer has probably been my favorite summer ever (well last year is my favorite since that was the summer of I got married). I’ve been busy, lots of traveling and adventures. Well this weekend we got finally got to wind down and have an easy, breezy weekend. The girls and I did some shopping to catch up on some essentials they needed, managed to plan recipes and dinner for the rest of the week, work out and even explore some of our beautiful Vermont. Nothing gets me ready for a Monday as a peaceful Sunday.

I haven’t talked much about my career in the blog but in addition to running my own wedding planning business I am also a full time Marketing Manager. Yes, that’s 40 hours a week.

I fact I started this blog with the intention to carve out some time for myself where I discuss some of my favorite things so I can balance out family/work/business/social life. This is my “zen”. I love to share a piece of my life, it allows me to step away from the every day routine and I can focus on my love for weddings and fashion!

For Sunday, I came up with this easy to put together outfit that is still very comfortable and fashionable and in all honesty all under $25. It is possible to do! I LOVE this dress from Old Navy. I noticed I haven’t shopped there as much lately as I used to now that I’m evolving into new looks but I still have so many good finds from there! I love this dress because although simple, it is flattering and I can easily dress it down for the beach with flip flops and tossing my hair up or I can dress it up as shown below. A blank canvas dress is the best time because it is as if you own several dresses in one.
You can reorganize your look very easily when the canvas is so easy to play with.

To top it all off talk about having a fabulous hair day! I woke up and my hair curled down on its own as show in the pictures. No hairspray or retouching it. Let’s just say I ran with it.

Dress: Old Navy
Shoes: H &M
Necklace: Banana Republic
Bag: Vintage (I bought it at a store in Boston, many years ago)

Photo cred: My wonderful husband who loves to include some very strong solar flare in my pictures!

Here’s to all of us having a wonderful beginning of the week. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s outfit inspiration for very cute work style outfits that will make your work week just that much more exciting.

Jamaican Flavor Dinner

To say I love Jamaican food is an understatement. I like to think at 31 years old I’ve been well exposed to a variety of cultures and cuisines and Jamaican cooking is absolutely in my top five favorites, if not top three.

Jamaican cuisine infuses flavorful spices for unique flavors you will always remember. While I haven’t been fortunate enough to visit beautiful Jamaica yet, I’ve fallen in love it and can’t wait to visit. There is so much I love about Jamaican culture but in particular is how gracious and happy the very large majority of Jamaicans I’ve met have been.

I love reggae music, I’ve rasied my two daughters listening to it from a young age and I even my husband at a dance-hall reggae club night. When I hear reggae, I instantly relax and think of beautiful blue water by my feet, the smell of the ocean, all the good things you can expect. It is also powerful, reggae lyrics are some of the saddest and most beautiful lyrics I’ve heard. Message about love, respect, inequality, change, its music that forces you to think beyond comfort zones.

Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is one of the tasteful, bold coffees I’ve tasted (THIS I know I am an expert in!). This all organic coffee tastes radiant in the start of your morning. Grown in the beautiful Blue Mountains of Jamaica at a very high elevation, this coffee is as rich as any I’ve tasted.

Once you are done with your cup of coffee, let’s think dinner. My two favorite meals I’ve tried (thus far) is curry chicken and jerk chicken. Both will have you eating off the plate!

I’ve been cooking this recipe or well a similar variation of it for Jamaican curry chicken for years and let me assure you it is beyond delicious! Courtesy of the New York Times!

Photo by New York Times

Try it out this weekend, pair this delicious recipe with a cold drink, some reggae tunes and you’ll thank me!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, halved, stems removed
  • 6 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, thickly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, optional
  •  Juice of 2 large limes (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 6 large chicken legs, leg and thigh attached

PREPARATION

  1. Put allspice, thyme, garlic, chiles, scallions, peppercorns, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, soy sauce and lime juice in a blender or food processor and grind to a rough paste.
  2. Put chicken in a baking dish, add seasoning paste and coat chicken well, using a spoon. Cover and marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees and bring chicken to room temperature. Turn chicken once more in marinade to coat well, then put baking dish in the oven, uncovered. Bake for 1 hour or until well browned and juices run clear when probed with a paring knife. Put dish under the broiler for a minute or so to char chicken slightly. Remove and serve with coconut rice, if desired.
  4. Voila!

Wedding Designer: Maggie Sottero

Maggie Sottero wedding dresses are likely one of the most popular options for  brides. As a wedding planner, I often see brides pick Maggie Sottero dresses as their choices and for good reason.
Maggie Sottero designs are a combination of classic, beautiful and comfortable. These designs are meant for the  brides that would like to present a piece of classic and  timeless beauty at their weddings.
They frequently feature classic A line figures, very intricate designs with little fluff. 
For the very fashion forward bride the Maggie Sottero line has launched Sottero & Bradley. A beautiful collection of more innovative and playful dresses. 
The Maggie Sottero line is also incredibly affordable. In times where the average wedding rings in at $27,000, it is comforting to know you can have a high quality bridal design at a small faction of your budget. I encourage to check out their website for inspiration!