Gift Guide: Personalized Gifts

Like I've said before, gift giving is my love language (side note: have you read the 5 Love Languages?!) I learned I don't have to be embarrassed about this. I love receiving AND giving gifts! Nothing makes me happier when I'm putting together a gift and find a way to personalize it a little more. Be it a gift tag, some custom calligraphy, their initial on the item, or -- good heavens -- a monogram! I'm all about it. I think it makes the giftee feel extra special that you thought of them even further!

Today's Friday Finds are all personalized gifts for your loved ones and friends:
Personalized Initial Necklace / Monogram Marble Serving Board / Initial Gold Ornament / Classic Monogram Mug/ Monogram Hook / Clutch with Gold Monogram / Plaid Scarf (monogram optional!)/ Swell Water Bottle / Umbrella / Personalized Pillow / Tie Trio for Men

Okay, if you're been a reader here for long, you're probably thinking I included that kate spade initial necklace last year in my gift guide. Sure did! #noshame. It's a tried and true, perfect gift for friends or sisters with little ones. Get their baby's name initial engraved and you've just won a million points for that new mama!

This sleek and practical clutch (with a gold monogram, of course!) is so great. It has a spot for everything you need!

I also adore these initial hooks. We have them in our entry and they spell out HOME as you walk up the stairs, doing double duty for decor AND practical space to hang coats.

I just added this umbrella to my wish list because it covers so well. It's like a full on sphere over your head, making sure rain doesn't come in from all side angles ;) I take our pup outside in the rain sometimes and I feel like this would make it more enjoyable.

This gold initial ornament has my heart. It's so feminine and sweet. I love getting things like this and attaching them to the outside of a gift, just for an added cute-factor!
Finally, I thought I'd give a little something for the men. If you have a business-man in your life, this trio of a tie, pocket square and socks might be great!
Alright, spill. Do you like giving personalized gifts?! 

Couldn't sign off for the weekend without giving you some sales. Anthropologie: 20% off sweaters and tops. This is probably my favorite one!!

LOFT: $25 off dresses, skirts and cardigans.

Pottery Barn, West Elm and the whole Williams Sonoma Brand: up to 70% off!

Past Gift Guides:
For the Hostess

Happy Weekend!
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Gift Guide: For the Hostess

It's pretty much officially that time of year! I heard Christmas music on the radio the other day and I wasn't even mad about it ;) Next week we're getting our tree and I can't wait to decorate it (I showed you the inspiration here). It's also time to start thinking about holiday gifts! For someone like me, who's love language is gifts, this is a really fun time of year. For others, this can cause a lot of stress. I'm hoping to help you cut the stress by coming up with a bunch of really sweet and thoughtful gifts for your loved ones. Today we're kicking off the gift guide series with gifts for the hostess. 

My mom always taught me to bring a little gift over when you get invited to a party at someone's house as a thank you, so these can be hostess gifts, or gift ideas for those who love to entertain! 

1. Hello Lovely Mug: Mugs with encouraging or fun sayings on them is never a bad gift idea. I love filling mugs with a gift card, candy, peppermint bark, or something else for an added surprise!

2. Oven Mit & Pot Holder: How cute are these holiday prints?! I think it'd be so fun to be able to pull out Christmas themed kitchen accessories. And if someone is throwing a holiday party, chances are they'd also love it!

3. Marble & Gold Feather Coasters:  Everyone loves marble and gold, but this coaster design is made unique with the feather pattern in each one. It's simple and neutral, so it will go with any style. 
4. Monogram Marble Cutting Board: Any hostess will love a cheese board / cutting board, especially if it's a pretty marble tone. Perfect for setting cheese and crackers out on for their next gathering.
5. Mr. & Mrs. Champagne Flutes: This one is for the newlyweds or newly-engaged couples, of course!
6. Slow Cooker Cookbook: Honestly, this is on here because I need this book ;) I want to try more crockpot meals this winter since they're easy and homey. I think giving a cookbook as a gift to someone who loves to entertain is a no-brainer.
7. Gold Spiced Candle: this candle smells amazing (it's a wonderful spiced holiday scent!) and it's really pretty and festive with the gold hue.
8. Hand Lotion: Yummy hand lotions are a great gift! This one's scent is divine. It's citrus mimosa, and let me tell you-- they ain't lying about that scent! It's refreshing and soothing and totally safe for your skin. Any hostess who does a lot of dishes after the parties needs an amazing lotion to finish with ;)
9. Hearth & Hand Dish Towel: If the hostess loves Joanna Gaines, this is the perfect gift! A set of two dish towels from the new Magnolia for Target collection.
10. Art of the Bar Cart Recipe Book: Another fun cookbook, but this time for the cocktails. This has such a cute cover, you could leave it out on your coffee table all year round!
11. Picture Frame: The shape and blush pink color caught my eye on this frame. I thought this would be a cute one to frame signature cocktail drinks in for a party!

12. Grapefruit Soap: Another amazing smelling product! Anyone who likes to host is very familiar with doing dishes. A delicious soap will help :)
Just a few more gift ideas for the hostess:

What do you think of these ideas? If you have some more thoughts, please add to my list in the comments!
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Safer Beauty Products for You & Your Family

Hi friends and happy Monday! I hope you had a restful weekend. I'm really excited to be sharing this announcement with you today, as it's been a long time coming and something I'm super passionate about! Let's rewind a little, so I can share my story and heart behind this announcement. 

A few years ago, I started really thinking about the products I was using to clean my apartment. The strong smell alone from products like bleach and windex always got me and had me thinking "what are in these things?! It can't be good!" So I went on a mission to clean up my household cleaning products. I found The Grove Collection (Mrs. Meyer is my fave!) and Seventh Generation to be awesome lines.

About this time, I also found the Healthy Living app, which allows you to scan barcodes on products and it will tell you on a scale of 1-10, how harmful or non-harmful the product is and why. This was so interesting to me! I would scan products that I thought for sure were okay for my skin or well-being, and they'd be a 7 on the toxicity scale. I couldn't believe it, but I also felt so overwhelmed by trying to replace all my skincare and beauty routine products. I felt like I'd just conquered the beast of the cleaning products, so couldn't fathom doing the same with my makeup and skincare.

In the fall of 2015, our family went through a really hard season. My husband's father's prostate cancer came back. He'd been battling with this for around 10+ years, but this time it was back and treatments weren't working. I can't even describe the heartache I felt watching my husband with his dad, who only had a few months left here on earth. He was so tender towards his dad, cherishing moments and often recalling sweet memories. I knew in my heart we didn't have long with him, though we fiercely prayed for healing every day. I haven't written a lot about this on my blog because it's truly hard to put into words. In January of 2016, right after our engagement, his father passed away. He was the most generous man, cared for the hurting and poor, and was an amazing Pops to his grand kids. We are so thankful he had a relationship with God and is with his Heavenly Father now, but our hearts were (and still are) broken.

Prostate cancer runs deep in my husband's family, so after his passing, I began experiencing a lot of fear of loosing my own husband to this one day. He's young and healthy now, but questions and fears started creeping through my head for the future. I felt a huge weight of responsibility to care for the health and well-being of our family, even now before we have kids of our own. I was on a mission to find the right vitamins for him (and myself) to take to help us stay healthy and I was adamant my husband have regular doctor appointments.

It was then I started doing more research on healthy beauty products and skin care for the both of us. I learned that parabens (widely used preservatives in cosmetics) were extremely harmful, so I started using products that could claim they were paraben-free. I felt like this was a good start, and it was! So many chemicals that companies use in their products are linked to scary and sad things like reproductive issues, cancer and more. I just couldn't believe I was using things that could contribute to that.

This last summer I told myself I would start to completely switch out products as they ran out and find chemical-free products that were also high-performing. Right on time, my sweet friend Carmel of Our Fifth house, asked if she could send me a few makeup and skincare products from the company called Beautycounter. I was skeptical, but researched the company and thought after reading their mission and dedication to safer beauty products, I would accept the products she was sending me. I used them and quickly fell in love! Not only were the products extremely high performing (like, the foundation lasts all day and doesn't make me oily!), they were also safe for me to be putting on my skin (our largest organ, by the way!)

I had no idea how vast the Beautycounter collection was, but I quickly found myself researching all their products and found they had an alternative to nearly every.single.thing. I was currently using.
Tinted moisturizer, foundation, blush, mascara, face wash, skin oils, masks, lip name it, they have it. I was SO impressed.

The more I learned about Beautycounter, the more I fell in love. I could have never predicted I would do this, but I'm excited to say I've joined the Beautycounter team and have become a consultant. This is honestly the craziest thing to me, as I'm extremely busy with my interior design clients and workshops I host, so joining had to make 100% sense to us. I'm really passionate about getting these safer beauty products into my friend's (this includes you, my sweet readers!) and family's hands.

As a side note, I want to say that I do not believe that by using these safer products, taking vitamins, and eating better, that will make us immune to disease, hardship, or even cancer. I also want to say that I have and still am really working through living in fear of myself and those around me getting sick. Only the Lord knows those details and I know he is good and can be trusted. If that means disease, we will walk through that and He will still be good. However, I do want to be responsible with the knowledge I have and others have shared with me, and do anything I can to keep me and my husband (and future family) healthy and safe!! I hope you hear my heart in that. 

- I love Beautycounter's mission. You can read it below:

The one about a major law not being passed to regular safety in cosmetics since the 30's BLOWS my mind!! I can't believe that Canada has over 600 chemicals banned and Europe has more than 1300 products restricted and the US has 11. What the heck, you guys?! We are supposed to be ahead and we are sorely just...not.

- Beautycounter has a list of 1500 ingredients they never use in their products, which is called The Never List. The crazy thing is these chemicals and ingredients that BC restricts and never uses, other beauty companies (even some I love and was using!) use them in all their products.

- Their products are genuinely amazing! My skin has literally never been clearer. The makeup also lasts all day, doesn't flake or make my skin dry or irritated, and the skincare lines smell lovely.

- They list ALL of their ingredients. Did you know that cosmetic companies don't have to disclose ingredients in a color / pigment or fragrance, because it's considered a "trade secret"?! That's where a lot of toxins lie, so Beautycounter is committed to writing out exactly what is in their products. I so appreciate their authenticity and integrity.

- I already share with you what I put in our home and what I wear, so this seemed like a really natural extension of that.

- The first thing this means is that I'm NOT turning into a beauty blog. I can assure you of that! I promise I will not be posting about Beautycounter every week. Regularly scheduled programming will continue around here with house + home, entertaining, fashion and lifestyle posts. I will be sharing a few skincare and makeup things every once and while, though! I hope that's okay.

- Like I told my girlfriend yesterday, if I like a current non-Beautycounter product I use and find that it's not harmful, I might continue using it. I'm not going to be a snob about selling this stuff, though I do believe it's wonderful. I will always, always be honest, just like I am with all my reviews on the blog, about products. If I ever use one I don't like, I'll be sure to let you know.

- I will not be salesy (that's just not me!), so don't worry about that -- and will probably never host a party for Beautycounter (ha!), but if you do want to learn more, try some samples, ask me questions about products, please get in touch with me! I'd love to help you and hopefully be a great resource for you.

- If you'd like to learn more about Beautycounter and safer products, you can through my newsletter. I will be sending a newsletter out about once a month (give or take a few months) will really helpful info on chemicals, toxins, new products, special promotions and giveaways, and overall fun beauty news! You can sign up for that here. I promise not to spam you :)

You might be wondering, where do I start?! There are so many products! Here's what I did, because it would be insane and expensive to switch everything over all at once. When things started running out, I began replacing them with the Beautycounter comparable, and what I found was I actually like Beautycounter's products even better than my beloved toxic cosmetics ;)

- My friend Carmel originally sent me the Flawless in 5 collection which has the foundation, blush, touch up and concealer pen, lip gloss, mascara, and eyebrow pencil. This is how I fell in love with the products! I love each one in this collection so much, that I started ordering my own things-- I'll tell you about a few below.

- Citrus Mimosa Body Wash: first, this smells heavenly! Second, it does good things for my skin. It's rich in nourishing oils, has a creamy texture and locks in moisture. My husband, mom and dad are also obsessed with this.

- Charcoal Mask: this kaolin clay mask purifies and balances and is amazing for spot treatment, if you have a little break out. You put it on for 10ish minutes (until it dries), then wash off with warm water. I always put an oil or radiance syrum on after since the charcoal's job is to pull out oil, exfoliate, and balance your skin tone (thanks to the salicylic acid-- a great replacement for glycolic acid), you definitely need a heavier moisturizer after. 

- Lip Sheer: I got the color Currant and it's truly the perfect fall shade! This is not only a lipstick offering color, but also moisture. The only fragrance is a hint of natural vanilla, but it's so faint. It's just a really nice, smooth color. I will let you know this is a little lighter (not in color, just in thickness) lipstick than my old favorite Mac lipsticks. 

- Nourishing Day & Night Cream (moisturizer): these are light moisturizers which I've been using for about 2 months now and I can honestly say, my skin has never looked better! I used to use Dermologica, and I liked the products but found they weren't as safe as I thought. These are great! They contain "a mix of organic coconut oil, safflower oil, and aloe to provide nourishing hydration, plus antioxidant-rich acai to protect against dry skin".  I mix the day cream with my tinted moisturizer, before I put on my foundation. I'm excited to try a few face oils soon to tell you how I like those as well! How could I forget?! I also love the nourishing eye cream. This is more of an everyday eye cream. If you're looking for something to fight aging, I would go for the rejuvenating eye cream.
- Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation: I am prettyyy fair, so I use the Linen color and think it's a great match. I love this foundation and I've actually never used a liquid foundation before-- I've always used Jane Iredale, which I actually still stand behind as being a safe option, but having a liquid one gives more coverage and is better in the winter / dryer months. I'm all about the description: "sodium hyaluronate, a natural moisture magnet, promotes smoother-looking skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles". The dew skin tinted moisturizer is on it's way in the mail, so I'm eager to try it. It has vitamin C in it, which is great for your skin.

* If you want help figuring out which color works for you, let me know and I'll send you some color samples!

- Lip glosses: I have a few of these, because they are honestly my favorite lip gloss ever. I have the color Peony, then also just got the holiday trio collection with the three you see below. They have a little shimmer to them and instead of the vanilla scent, it's peppermint-- perfect for holidays!

To celebrate my new little adventure, I'm inviting you to enter to win $50 to Beautycounter from yours truly. I'll send the winner a gift card and you'll get to pick up something fun and safe for yourself, right before the holidays! Just use the tool below to enter. 

And please email me if you have questions or want some samples (hello@michaelanoelledesigns (dot) com). I'll see what I can get my hands on for you :)

Thanks for continuing to support and encourage me through my blog and businesses! I'm so thankful!

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Our Gingham Christmas Tree Inspiration

How soon is TOO soon to start posting about Christmas decor on my blog?! ;) Hopefully you're okay with it, because I'm so excited to start decorating this year. We'll be going to California a week before Christmas and spending 2 weeks there, so I think I want to get up our decor and tree here a week early to enjoy it a little longer before we take off. I thinkkk we're going to get our tree next weekend or early next week, just a few days before Thanksgiving (don't be mad;))
I've decided to go with a classic look this year and do gingham ribbon around our tree. I loved our metallic rustic ribbon last year and will probably use it somewhere (maybe on wreaths), but wanted to switch it up a little for the tree. I am obsessed with gingham and love how wintery it looks, so we're going with it! Our ornaments will be mostly mixed metallics, but with a bunch of red thrown in too. I'm even going to try to find (or make) a few gingham ornaments. I picked up neutral wrapping paper from Target and will finish them all with red and metallic bows. 

PS. I also love the tree below in a galvanized bucket. We might have to put ours on top of one, especially with a puppy, who might be way too excited about a living tree in our apartment!
gingham tree ribbon / curtains / metallic ornaments / red bows  / tree with red berries / wreath

I can't wait to get the boxes out and deck the halls! To see our tree from last year, check it out here. 
Who else is excited? If you have any plans for your tree, share in the comments!
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