ikea hack: malm dressing table.

easy + affordable ikea hack: malm dressing table.

Six months ago, I assembled this IKEA MALM Dressing Table to use in our master bedroom as a glorified TV stand. The size and height worked beautifully with our space, but I didn't anticipate the eyesore in created: a mass of crazy cords from our TV, cable box, and wireless router. After staring at these cords every morning, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I needed an easy {and affordable} solution stat.

easy + affordable ikea hack: malm dressing table -- how to hide the cords for good!

Since we aren't going to be in this apartment forever, I didn't want to spend much money on the solution. The dressing table itself cost $149, so I ideally wanted to round out the project for under $200. I realized the best method to cover this mess would be some sort of curtain. Since curtains don't really come in that size, I knew I would have to make my own. 

To hold the curtain, I found a white tension shower curtain rod at Bed Bath & Beyond for $11.99. I used a 20% off coupon, so I took it home for only $9.59. For the curtain itself, I wanted to use a few yards of the Pottery Barn linen fabric to match our headboard. However, our budget got the best of me. At $40 per yard, I knew it wasn't worth the price for a nine-month solution. I stumbled upon NY Fabric Center online and found a nice linen for half the cost: $18.49 per yard. I was even able to score a free shipping coupon via RetailMeNot.com, so my grand total for the fabric was $36.98. {Note: I'm sure you could find some other fabric to your liking at your local fabric store; I just made a quick decision late one night and went with this!}

Below,  you can find a little play-by-play of how I made this hack happen--pin it for later or download a PDF for easy reference by clicking here!
ten steps to tackle the ikea malm dressing table hack + how to get rid of the cords for good! {free printable included!}

The total cost of this project came to $195.57 {$149 for the table + $9.59 for the rod + $35.98 for the linen}. As for a time investment, I would estimate at least 60 to 90 minutes for the assembly of the table itself {more if you're not familiar with IKEA products}. The sewing of the curtain should take less than 30 minutes. I'll admit that it had been a little while since I used my sewing machine, so it took me a bit longer than I had hoped. All tolled, I was at my sewing machine for 60 minutes.

I apologize for the long post, but it was necessary to include all the details. Coming in under $200 with relatively little headache, I'd say this was a win for me. {cv} even agreed ;) Have you found any other fun hacks {that worked} across the interwebs lately? Please share! xoxo {av}

not just for winter anymore.

With the delayed start to spring in the Northeast, I still find myself reaching for a heavier coat in the morning. I may not be happy about the cold temps, but I'm learning to accept the non-existent New England spring. I discovered one coat I need in my closet after observing a trend on my outfit inspiration board on Pinterest: a cozy yet stylish camel coat. I tried buying the J.Crew Stadium-Cloth Cocoon Coat earlier this winter, but it just didn't work for my shape {though I wish it did!}.

If it is still cold where you are, what one piece of winter gear are you still wearing? If it is finally warm in your locale, I'm jealous. I still find myself piling on the sweaters {and searching for the perfect end-of-season camel coat}. Have a happy weekend! xoxo {av}

choosing the right tile.

tips for choosing the right tile for your home.

A few weeks ago, I shared the little excitement going on in our corner of the world: we are re-engaging the build process! When we went through the motions last spring, it felt very real. However, we've learned this spring we only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the decisions to be made. I find the process extremely exciting but daunting at the same time. {cv} and I are aiming for the most timeless look our dollars can afford. It is proving to be quite the hunt!

tips for choosing the right tile for your home.

While we haven't chosen the exact tile we plan to use, {cv} and I did make the rounds of a few tile stores over the weekend. We noticed some common--and pricey--themes with the tile we liked. We definitely need to do some digging to find options which look like what we love but have a smaller pricetag. We have repeatedly heard that it is worthwhile to invest in tile for your master bath and kitchen. Other rooms like the kids' bathroom {no, we don't have those yet--just in preparation!} and the laundry don't require the same investment. We can always "upgrade" in the future, but we are trying our best to choose something which wouldn't require us to have builders back in our home three years down the line.

For all you homeowners out there, what tips would you give on choosing the right tile for your space? Which rooms (in your opinion) deserve the investment of nicer tile? Whether you built or bought your home, your advice and expertise are very much appreciated! xoxo {av}

the colors of spring 2014.

**J.Crew 25% off Sale Code = HEYSPRING {through March 25, 2014}**

Inspired by the Pantone Spring Color Report, I decided it might be fun to see the hottest colors in action now that spring is finally here. I'm gravitating toward the softer hues like hemlock and placid blue this spring, but I can't discount my perennial love of cayenne-like hues. What colors are catching your eye this spring? xoxo {av}

dreaming away the cold.

In the winter, she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold.

This has been one brutal winter. With spring finally making its long awaited return this week, I feel like I can finally breathe a huge sigh of relief. The temperatures may not be spring-like just yet, but I am holding onto hope that we aren't far from some warm sunshine. I spied this quote from Ben Aaronovitch and it described my feelings about this winter perfectly. I am officially dreaming away the cold.

After this endless winter, I'm calling March 20th is the start of a new "year". Who's with me? I may even make a few new resolutions, starting with putting my phone away after 9:30pm. What other "resolutions" would you like to start with this new season? xoxo {av}

P.S. Tackling our biggest project yet is taking the vast majority of my time and attention. If you hear from me less frequently in the coming weeks, please know I'm not far away...we just have a ton of decisions to make. I love my little space on the internet, but sometimes "real life" wins out. I promise to share updates on the house front when I have them. Thank you so much for your understanding {and moral support!}.

48 hours in paris.

48 hours in Paris.

This December, we made it back to my all-time favorite city: Paris. We managed to pack in a LOT of the sights in the 48 hours we spent in the city of lights. In the last four years, we have visited Paris three times, so this post will be home to the places which we loved the most. If you have only two days in Paris, you can maximize them using our learnings from the past few years. {I'm not the slightest bit sorry for the picture and information overload below. Paris is the best.}

48 hours in Paris.
48 hours in Paris.
48 hours in Paris.

-Paris is chock full of museums, so we generally choose one to visit when on a shorter trip. The Louvre is a must-see for a first-time visitor to Paris, but then again, I would say the same thing about the Musée d'Orsay. We also loved our visit to the Rodin Museum, which is slightly off the beaten track but in a lovely corner of Paris. Wherever you choose, you can't really go wrong.
-Strolling through Montmartre and seeing the city from Sacré Coeur make for an excellent afternoon. You can take the Metro there and get in a little exercise while climbing up to visit ;)
-Notre Dame is near the top of the list of "cliché" tourist stops in Paris. The crowds are bananas, but the amazing rose windows and the overall beauty of the cathedral are incredibly powerful.
-If you have two mornings in Paris, save one to stroll the market on rue Cler. {It's close to the Eiffel Tower.} My best friend who studied in Paris clued us into this gem. If you want a real taste of Parisian daily life, this is it. 
-I will always and forever love the Eiffel Tower. Whenever I see it for the first time, it literally makes me stop in my tracks. Be sure to pre-book your tickets for this one! If you can only swing tickets to the second level, you CAN get tickets to the top when you get off the elevator. {We were able to swing that on our last visit; it felt a little like the Amazing Race.} If you don't love heights, don't worry. Whether you go up the tower or not, I would recommend taking a picnic at sunset to watch the Eiffel Tower start to sparkle. We grabbed a few things from a market nearby and made a little evening of it. {It also makes for a cost-effective dinner option!}

48 hours in Paris.
48 hours in Paris.
48 hours in Paris.

-If you're down for a good drink, Harry's New York Bar is the birthplace of so many drinks {the Bloody Mary, the French 75, just to name a few}. It's an experience for sure--and is a real "American" outpost in Paris. {Here is a little video I snapped on our trip this December of the 15-second Bloody Mary production...unreal!}
-You must have the hot chocolate at Angelina on rue Rivoli. Though by sharing that I may be forever cursing our future visits, we found that the best time to go is first thing in the morning around 8am. If the line is too long for a seat, you can still get the hot chocolate in a take-away cup in the macaron line. {While you're in the take-away line, grab a few macarons while you're at it. We did a direct taste test with the same flavor from Angelina, Ladurée, and Pierre Hermé--and we liked Angelina the best.} One other tip: If you're planning on a visit to the Louvre, Angelina would be an ideal stop before you go.
-Buvette is a one of my favorite stops in NYC and they just opened an outpost in Paris. In addition to being perfectly quaint and cozy, the food is super tasty.
-We found Willi's Wine Bar on our honeymoon, thanks to a sweet little guidebook my mom gave us. It was closed on our visit in 2012, but we were happy to find it open again this winter. With a killer wine list and wonderful atmosphere, {cv} and I definitely plan to go back on future trips to Paris.
-Another great friend is lucky enough to call Paris home for the next few years. She recommended we stop at Candelaria for a few tacos {yes, you read that right}. They were AMAZING. The seating is tiny, but worth the wait. Though we didn't time it right for their hidden bar {literally through a nondescript door in the back of the restaurant}, she tells us phenomenal tales of their drink selection.

48 hours in Paris.
48 hours in Paris.

-Always book tickets ahead. Always. For the Eiffel Tower, I would hop on to book your ticket the same day you book your flights. When time is at a premium, 30 minutes here and there spent in line add up. You'll be glad you took a few minutes on the front end to pre-book. 
-Leave your giant purse, tote, or backpack at home. I carried a small Longchamp and never had to check a bag at a museum. It helped me look slightly less touristy, as many French women also carry these bags. You can also keep a better handle on access to your bag when in crowds. I may sound like a crazy person, but I always keep the zipper in my hands on whatever side I carry it. Knock on wood: I've never been pickpocketed.
-I know Paris is a fashionable city and you want to look chic, but you must bring a comfortable pair of shoes. One day, we tallied up our walking to discover that we walked more than 13 miles {equivalent to a half marathon!}. Doing that kind of distance in heels or strappy sandals just isn't a good plan if you want to be mobile for your entire visit.
-While we're on the topic of fashion, I maybe one of the few women who would prefer sightseeing over shopping. If I only have two days, I don't need to be doing it inside a boutique. It is my preference, though it may not be yours. We can agree to disagree ;) 
-Plan some unplanned time. Some of our best memories from Paris are from strolling through different corners of the city and just taking it all in...

Do you have one city which will always rank as your favorite? Paris is, without a doubt, mine. The city holds so many incredible memories for us--and I'm already dreaming of our next visit. If you're planning a visit soon, bookmark this post for later consumption and report back on your favorites. xoxo {av}

say no to green beer.

10 green sips for St. Patrick's Day!
from top:  St. Germain + Mint Margarita via Waiting on Martha for Sweet Lemon // Lime Sherbet Punch via Paula Deen // Kiwi Lime Mojito via The Merrythought // Tequila Mint Limeade via New South Food Company // Basil Lime Cocktail via The Italian Dish // Green, Green Grass Champagne Cocktail via Marthafied // Green Apple Ginger Martini via Gourmande in the Kitchen // Mojito Jello Shots via A Beautiful Mess {I know this isn't technically a sip, but it is booze-related...} // Sour Apple Champagne Cocktail via Will Cook for Smiles // Honey Rum Fizz via Design*Sponge + Spoon Fork Bacon

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I decided to pull ten green cocktail recipes to jazz up your beverage selection. Green beer may be fun, but the green teeth which come after are not. These ten options will keep the green factor high without that unfortunate side effect. {Don't drink? Don't worry. A few of these cocktails could actually be made as mocktails!} 

Is St. Patrick's Day a big to-do near you? I wouldn't say I'm crazy for this green holiday, but it is fun to don some green--and sip it too. {cv} and I experienced St. Patrick's Day in South Boston, but it is on my bucket list to see the river dyed green in Chicago. I think I'm too old to appreciate a crazy Savannah St. Pat's, but I have heard great things about their festivities too. Have a safe + festive St. Patrick's Day! xoxo {av}

P.S. If you're in need of some other fun drink ideas, I have plenty on my "sip sip" Pinterest board!

barton build.

If you've been following {long distance loving} for any length of time, you might remember a post filled with excitement about our upcoming build last spring. The excitement dissipated when we hit a few bumps in the building process. Sadly, 2013 was not the best year to build a home in our corner of the world.

As disappointed as we were, we decided to take the optimistic angle on the whole situation. For a little change of scenery, {cv} and I signed a lease on a newer apartment across town and bought ourselves some time to find out what to do about the house. By September, the pain subsided and we were enjoying our new place. 

When the calendar turned to 2014, {cv} and I found some renewed hope in the housing market and our timing. I'm cautiously happy to report we're back in the throes of the build process. In just a few weeks, we will be meeting with our builder to make the final design choices and I am o-v-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-e-d. Though I've been compiling ideas for years, I decided it was finally time to create one Pinterest board to share with our builder and to wrap my head around the vision for our home.

We spent a good portion of yesterday roaming the halls of Lowe's and grew increasingly overwhelmed by the number of decisions ahead of us. {The Pantone paint chips were one of my happy discoveries!} I snapped about a billion other photos of things we liked or hated. Wrapping our heads around the build is daunting, but we are just grateful to be making this little dream of ours a reality. It's like my Dad always tells me: "you can rest on the bus." In this case, we will rest in that new house.

Any tips from house building vets out there? Whether you've built a house or watched your parents agonize through the process, I'm curious how you {or they} were able to make the little decisions so far in advance. I want to make sure the house we are building is timeless. Any and all help is very much appreciated, as are prayers that this is the right time for us! xoxo {av}

friday's fancies: march.

step into spring: a casual look with a touch of sparkle!

Welcome to this month's round of Friday's Fancies! March is such a hopeful month: it holds the return of daylights savings time and spring. After a long winter, I'm ready to shed the layers and simplify my wardrobe a bit. My March fashion M.O. is to keep it simple--and add a touch of green whenever I can ;) Since we moved to New England, March has been a difficult month for dressing, but I'm learning how to make it work with each passing year. One of these years, I'll actually get it right--and not leave the house in a heavy coat on a 50-degree day.

Are you buying new springy things or waiting until the warmer weather arrives? Many thanks to those of you linking up this month! Remember: this link-up will be live all month, not just this week. Feel free to add your fashion-centric links all month. Enjoy your weekend! xoxo {av}

psst: I finally made my Instagram + Twitter handles the same--you can now find me at @ali_vinciguerra :)

passport to paris.

passport to paris: scenes from a winter trip to the city of lights.

We were in Paris two months ago this week. For some reason, I always procrastinate going through our snaps from Paris. My theory? I am always in denial that our next visit may be a few years away. 

Paris holds a very special place in my heart: I was 7 when I first got a taste of this amazing city. It is the city in Europe I've visited the most. At the start of our long distance years, I studied a few hours south of Paris and made frequent weekend trips to soak up the city. Most of all, {cv} and I honeymooned there in 2010. The romance of the place gets me every. single. time.

passport to paris: scenes from a winter trip to the city of lights.

For a little mid-week treat, I thought I would give you all a little passport to Paris. This is only the tip of the iceberg of our trip photos, so I hope you'll indulge me in a few Parisian posts. In the dragging days of winter, I think they'll give a bit of a boost to all of us ;)

passport to paris: scenes from a winter trip to the city of lights.

Sadly, I was only able to capture one of our two days in the city of lights. Our first day had plenty of sun, but our second day was full of rain. We visited a few of our favorite haunts during the trip, but we added a few more to our repertoire. {I'll get to those in another post, I promise.}

passport to paris: scenes from a winter trip to the city of lights.

The one big tip we learned during this trip to Paris: Hotwire is your friend. With our knowledge of the city, we were able to score a room in an ideal location without paying anything close to full-price. While you may not always get a "name-brand" hotel via Hotwire, your location in Paris is arguably more important. Paris isn't a cheap city, so finding a reasonably-priced place to rest your head in close proximity to the sights is worth every penny.

passport to paris: scenes from a winter trip to the city of lights.

Your passport to Paris doesn't end with this post! Check out these posts from our trip in the summer of 2012 for more Parisian prettiness: here + here + here + here. I also have a few more tips and tricks from our past trips in an upcoming post, so stay tuned. I can't do this visit justice with a single post.

Have you ever visited Paris in the winter? How did it change your Parisian tourist tactics? In spite of the cold temps, we found Paris to be just as romantic and charming as ever. In some ways, I was glad to have cold fingers so I wasn't constantly snapping photos--and could enjoy just soaking in the sights. {cv} and I also used the metro much more during this winter trip than our warmer weather visits. All in all, I'd go back to Paris in a heartbeat...but then again, was that ever a question? ;) xoxo {av}

red carpet rainbow.

red carpet rainbow: radiant red, duck egg blue + gorgeous graphite.
 {photo sources: Jennifer Lawrence + Emma Watson - Jordan Strauss | Lupita Nyong'o - Steve Granitz}

My grandmother instilled in me a love of award shows. Perhaps it is because her brother was a talented designer, but whatever it was: she loved watching the stars walk the red carpet. It almost feels like she comes back to me every year on Oscars Sunday.

Every year, I take note of the color walking the carpet. The dresses above illustrate the colors which stood out to me during this year's show. My "surprise" favorite hue was worn by Lupita Nyong'o. I normally overlook this "duck egg" blue, but I couldn't stop staring at her gorgeous gown. I loved the subtle sparkle and two-tone nature of Emma Watson's dress. Last but not least, I couldn't go without mentioning Jennifer Lawrence. The simplicity of her look made it absolutely timeless. As a random sidenote: I heard an interesting fact while watching the carpet coverage on E!. This graphic confirmed it: no woman has won the best actress award while in red.

Which looks were your favorite this year? Were you surprised at all by the "muted" red carpet rainbow this year? Beyond those above, I adored Julia Roberts' lacy number and Kate Hudson's sparkles {sans blazer}. I can't wait to hear your picks! xoxo {av}