Monday, December 17, 2012


It has taken me a few days to gather my thoughts on what I wanted to write today. And I still really have no words.  The grief that has filled my heart from the Newtown tragedy is so painful, so raw, and so real.  And I am not even from there. I am not a parent. And I know no one involved.

I cannot imagine what these parents, children, neighbors, and friends who call Newtown home are experiencing. My wish this Christmas is that no one ever again has to experience a day like Friday, 12/14. Because these days are nightmares.  These days are not for good, normal people who just dropped their children off at school. These days are not for smiley 6 year olds and toothless 7 year olds. These days shouldn't be real.  But they are.

When I heard that the people of Newtown were taking down their Christmas decorations because the sight of them was too painful, my heart broke again. I stood in the shower on Saturday feeling so numb. Was it not enough to take innocent lives that you had to do it right before the holidays? For these families, these holidays no longer mean Christmas lights and decorating trees, they mean funerals, and explanations to siblings, and the never ending question of, "Why?".

If I could say one thing to the community of Newtown, it would be this.  Do not turn off your Christmas lights. Do not take down the tree.  Celebrate these little lives with the beauty that is Christmas.  These tiny faces are in a place far more beautiful than here. But if they do look down and see their town, let them see it filled with beauty, and not just pain. Do not let evil win. Fill your town with light & love and let the true meaning of Christmas, God's love for all of us, be known.

Lastly, my hope and prayer for all is that the horrific scene in Newtown does not cast more of a stigma on the mentally ill. President Obama has vowed that he will protect our children with every power that his office holds. Yes, we, as a country, need this help, but we also need help with those who are too sick to help themselves.  Please, there are parents, siblings, friends, and teachers across America who are struggling with those who are battling these diseases. Let us give these people the resources they need sooner than later.

With all of this being said, I have decided to postpone the blog until after the holidays. I just can't write about materialistic things right now.  It seems so trivial and silly. Take the next few weeks to spend time with your loved ones, to reflect on how you can better the world around you, and to just love. I will be back after the holidays with more tips & tricks than ever, so come back then, it won't disappoint. And to the town of Newtown, we love you.

Peace & love this holiday season,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Naughty or Nice? The Girlfriend

We all have girlfriends on our list of gifts to get this year. Boys, maybe this is the first time you are buying for your girl.  Girls, maybe you drew a hard-to-buy-for friend in your Secret Santa pool.  Either way, the list below is made to cover you (and make you look like the best gift giver that has crossed their paths yet).

Because the girlfriend is always tricky.  About time we had some help!

Kate Spade, you have done it again.  This small clutch is not only cute, its accurate, hilarious, and oh so  perfect for how I feel after any night of drinking.  If your girlfriend isn't a tequila fan, skip this one now and keep scrolling, but if you and your friends have made a few memories over margaritas, this could be the perfect gift. $78, found here: Tequila Is Not My Friend Clutch


I love these handmade scarves from the Etsy store Little minnow. They are so soft looking, and could easily dress an outfit up or down, depending on what you mix it with. And if your girlfriend lives in the Midwest, and is anything like me, she is always cold during the winter.  Scarves can really warm the heart, too, this time of year, $32, Little Minnow Scarves.

Since phones's go everywhere with us, they might as well go there in style. Even if your girlfriend stays away from prints and patterns, adding a little spice to her phone case never hurt anyone. And with options this cute from Tory Burch, its hard not to get print fever! $50, Tory Burch iPhone Cases 

C. Wonder has surprised me lately with its affordable and adorable take on fun patterns, quirky designs, and easily interchangeable wardrobe staples. These bracelets are no exception, and if your girlfriend is in to the "arm candy" trend, these are a stackable edition to any wrist. Each letter of the alphabet has a different color bangle, and I am all about the unexpected twist here (using her middle initial or your first initial as a different approach). $48 for one, C. Wonder Initial Cuffs


Every year since Sephora launched this genius idea, I have gifted it to someone on my list.  For $50, you  receive12 best selling perfumes (including Marc Jacobs DOT and Prada CANDY), and a gift voucher for her choice of a FULL SIZE bottle of her favorite perfume. Its practically 2 gifts in 1. Done. Over and over again: Sephora Fragrance Sampler

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Naughty or Nice? The Workaholic

You all know them.  They spend more hours at work than they spend at home, they are often great (not just good) at their jobs, and they never stop pushing themselves to be the best.  By the end of the year, the Workaholic is tired, so this is the perfect time to pamper them a little and show them that you respect how hard they work year round.

(And if you are the Workaholic, maybe take a few minutes or spend a few dollars to treat yourself, you've earned it.)

1.  The Jet Setting Workaholic:

I would personalize everything if I could, so why not add a touch of something personal to the Workaholic's luggage.  For $30, you get two personalized luggage tags (you design the style and choose the font) that are made from scrap metal and will last for years.  Adore these: Personalized Luggage Tags

2. The "I never have time for lunch" Workaholic:

Let them eat lunch.  At their desk and in style.  Compliments of Tory Burch and Nieman Marcus for Target, your cube mate can go from bland to bold with a quick swap of their lunch materials.  Beverage  container, $24.99, and lunchbox, $19.99, here: Tory Burch For Target

3. The Organized Chaos Workaholic:

This is my favorite gift in this section.  It is so simple and understated, but would help any workaholic with a little too much going on get it together. And regardless of your friend or coworker's taste, this calendar is chic enough to stand out on any desk (regardless of the clutter), $16.  Found here: Desk Calendar

4. The A+ Student Workaholic:

The take the best notes.  They have the best PowerPoints.  Excel problems? No problem. These are the workaholics who bring their A game even on slightly hungover Fridays. Which is why I love these notebooks for them.  You can customize with any quote, let them make a statement, and still keep them at the top of the Corporate Ladder.  Impressive ($15): Custom Quote Notebooks

5.  The Classic Workaholic:
By far the hardest of the bunch to buy for. You may even know very little about what they like to do outside of work, so it's best to stick with something they can use on a daily basis.  These Jonathan Adler paperweights are timeless. A variety of patterns will let you get slightly creative with this gift, while still speaking to the work professional. A win-win all around, $42: Jonathan Adler Paperweight

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Naughty or Nice? The Dog Lover

The Dog Lover: a breed of our own. We adore our pups like they are our own flesh and blood, and we treasure those who understand this affection.  Which is why you can forever be on your Dog Lover's nice list if you choose a gift that is more for their furry companions than it is for them.

I had always planned to include the Dog Lover on the Naughty or Nice List, but a recent incident made me bump this segment up.  My friend Mallory, and her lovely pup Minnie, had a scare this week and Minnie needed emergency surgery.  She is doing much better now, but a scare like this can really rock a person to the core.  Having a sick puppy is an emotional roller coaster. You cannot understand what they need, but you can see their physical pain and combined with your pain, the overwhelming sense of worry is difficult to handle.  Mallory is the best mom in the world to Minnie, and I love that I have a friend who understands how much we love our dogs.  If you have a dog, take a moment RIGHT NOW (or when you get home) to give them an extra hug or kiss (even if that means you come home to a pile of chewed up socks).


These custom dog beds come in HUNDREDS of patterns and prints, making your pup feel right at home in your home. No matter your style, preppy, vintage, urban, artsy, there is a print that will work for you. The beds come in multiple sizes and range in price depending on the final selected style (start at $35): visit the Etsy shop here for more information: Personalized Dog Beds


I am obsessed with this toy! The "mustache" is attached to a durable rubber ball that your pup will look hilarious playing with (get the camera ready).  It is a great combination when a dog's toy is equally as entertaining to their human. Cute and comical always works! $12.95, Humanga Stache Dog Toy


Hands down, the best treats ever.  The are made with 100% fruits and vegetables, smell delicious (flavors like Cranberry, Pumpkin & Banana, and Apple Mix), and are low in calories. Your dog will adore them and you will feel great about giving them a healthy snack to munch on. $5.95 and Fruitables are found here: Fruitable Pet Treats


How perfect are these? Affectionately calling them "Pup Art". Custom dog prints that can capture your Dog Lover's pup and their unique sense of style all in one shot. $55 for one print, find more information on their Etsy shop here: Custom Dog Prints


Tuffy toys are the most durable in the business. Ranging in shapes, characters, and sizes, they are built to last even the most destructive of dogs.  My Barley Bear is a chewer, to the extreme, and these are the only toys that survive a few days in our house. Every Dog Lover would appreciate one of these (ranging from $12-25): Tuffy Toys

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Have You Been Naughty or Nice? New Moms

I may have a slight case of...Royal Baby Fever. I have it. 100%. Self-diagnosed.

I have always adored Kate Middleton (she is a fabulous dresser and an even classier princess), and for the first time in my life, I have my own friends who are starting their families.  So the combination of the news of the Royal Baby and the Christmas needs for many people I know, the first up on the Naughty or Nice List is Expectant/New Moms.

Here are my picks to shower that newest mom in your life this holiday season, enjoy!


This gorgeous cuff bracelet is one of a kind.  The unique punctured holes correspond with the Zodiac signs, so you could choose either the mom or new baby (you can select up to two signs on each cuff). This is a completely innovative take on the traditional astrology jewelry, and makes a simple statement that is sure to make her a standout ($80).  Find more on this Etsy shop here: Astrology Cuff


This Serena and Lilly blanket (comes in three colors: blue, green, and pink), is perfect for swaddling baby and so cute that mom will want to pack it in every diaper bag. A thoughtful gift to keep mom and baby cozy this winter ($48), view the other color options here: Serena and Lilly Stroller Blanket


The Boden maternity collection is so easy and appealing that I could pick 10 recommendations for the mom-to-be. This Easy Tee is a no think, comfy option that comes in 6 versatile colors and can be easily dressed up or down. Plus the price point is very gift-worthy as well ($44)! For all of the options, click here: Boden Maternity Easy Tee


I am a huge fan of the stuffed animal.  Some people may find them silly, but I think they are a great childhood companion that can help create many memories.  My best friends know about Curly. And while it may be a little immature that I still love my baby bear as much as I do, its a sense of security that reminds me of being young again. I love this adorable bunny from Antropologie (they have an amazing selection of first time stuffed animals).  A thoughtful and sentimental gift ($48): Wool Bunny


A new mom has so much on her mind that little gifts that ease the stress are a perfect fix. These adorable thank you notes will help her show her gratitude for the new baby gifts without breaking your bank ($9.95).  There are several card options to fit your new mom's ideal style: Papyrus Thank You Cards

Don't see something that fits your new/expectant mom's style? Send me an email and I will start looking!

Happy shopping :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spirit Fingers

Ever since I was little, I have loved decorating for Christmas.  The smell of Christmas makes me feel like a whole new person.  Pine, cinnamon, cranberry. Love.

And there is something so special about only having a tree and decorations out once a year. You appreciate every night that you come home to that beautiful, glowing tree. This time of year makes you thankful for cozy nights at home, watching Home Alone on repeat, and picking out the perfect gifts for loved ones.

Browsing through Instagram and Facebook lately, I have seen some amazing holiday decorations posted by my friends.  This has inspired me to use Seven & Seven to showcase some of this holiday spirit.  Like I said, it only happens ONCE a year, so lets enjoy every moment!

For the month of December, I will be featuring your holiday cheer on the blog.  There is no prize or giveaway for participating, I am just hoping that it helps each of us get in the holiday spirit and come away with a little creative inspiration.

If you have a beautiful tree, your outdoor lights are amazing, or maybe a DIY project that you would like to share, please email me at, or "@" on Instagram at @alirand.  And to start us off...

The Rands getting in the holiday spirit! The majority of our Christmas decorations are still in Cincinnati (fail), so I will be posting more pictures soon!

Roo loves the mini tree

Ornaments still in Cincinnati, but the tree is up!

Starting to feel like Christmas

Starting tomorrow on the blog, I will be featuring gift ideas for the various people on your shopping lists. And if you have a certain someone that you are having trouble buying for, send me an email and I will help think of some gift worthy ideas!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cheap Thrills: Tips & Tricks for Winter Skin

A few quick tips before heading into the weekend. Yes, the weekend :)

My winter skin is a struggle. Much drier and rougher, and my color feels so pale and dull compared to summer months.

I am on the hunt for easy, affordable ways to brighten my skin at home, so I have been trying out a few things behind the scenes.

Now this may seem crazy, but there are a few things in your own kitchen that are surprisingly great fixes for this time of year. Best of all, completely free (if you are already own them, which I assuming most people do).

So here you go:

1. Baking Soda: Not just for baking...anymore.  Baking soda + water = a perfect exfoliant. Take a small bowl and mix 3/4 baking soda with 1/4 water.  Use the mixture as a scrub 1-2 times per week, and I promise you will see a difference. This formula is no thrills: no great smell, no "miracle" promises, and no high price point.  But, it will get rid of skin flakes and leave you feeling squeaky clean.

2. Olive Oil: Yes, olive oil.  Its amazing.  I swear by it.  You will smell like dinner but your skin will thank you.  Olive oil is rich in natural nutrients and an ingredient found in many luxury beauty products.  A dab of this a few nights a week will cure dry patches and leave your skin softer and clearer in the morning.  Make sure you have completely washed your face before applying, and apply sparingly, but if dry skin is your issue, this may be your solution.

3. Toner (in a new way): If you use toner (I use the St. Ives Exfoliating pads from a previous post), try this--instead of toning POST shower, tone in the shower.  Immediately following turning off the shower, keep your toner in the shower and use it now.  The humidity in the air will help the product absorb faster into your pores.  Ultimately, the toner works faster, and leaves your skin refreshed and ready for lotion, makeup, etc.

Just a few tips and no real pictures tonight, because J needs the computer back (and cannot believe I am recommending you use olive oil on your face, but it really works, I swear).

Enjoy your Fridays!