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Angel, my angel

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I rarely bring my personal life into my blog.  I told myself from the start that fashion and personal style are fun, so I would always keep it light here on A Ring to It.  However, some events in our lives are so momentous and life-altering that the effects will surely be noticed whether we acknowledge them or not.  My emotional transparency is not the only reason for my sharing this piece of my life with you.  This platform allows me to properly honor the memory of my beloved Angel, who passed away over the weekend.

If you are a friend of mine, or have even just met me in person, you have probably met Angel.  She has been my best friend and faithful companion for fifteen years, nearly half of my life.  I know we all have special relationships with the animals in our lives.  I have had many animals come into my life, and many animals go, but I have never had a relationship with any being like that which I shared with Angel.

When I was sixteen years old, Angel came into my life.  The day I brought her home, in my two seat convertible, she sat terrified in my lap, just wanting me to hold her.  I held her all night, and by morning, we were bonded for life.  She never wanted to leave my side, and I never wanted to leave hers.  Throughout high school and my early twenties, Angel and I would wake every morning at 5 am to run.  She used to run off and appear randomly on the trail throughout the run.  At the end, she would always be sitting by my car in the parking lot waiting for me.  Neither of us ever worried that the other wouldn’t show up.  That was our relationship.  We trusted each other, we knew that the other would always be there, and we never failed one another in the others’ eyes.

Angel and I traveled together everywhere.  I have yet to go on a US-bound trip without her as an adult.  We have been from Virginia, to New Jersey, to Chicago, to New York, to Florida, and back to Virginia.  We have survived together a brutal dog attack in which she “should have died” and a car accident which left her paralyzed for over a week.  She was a fighter and survivor, and I can only think that she fought so hard to survive for me.  She knew that I needed her, and as long as I needed her, she would fight to be there for me.  She was there for me through sickness, through stress, she was there for me when I barely had time or energy to be there for her.  She was my guardian Angel.

The most common thing I heard in reference to Angel was “she’s so good”.  It’s such a simple statement, even trivial to some ears, but it could not be more accurate in it’s purity.  Angel was good.  She was sweet, calm, quiet, loving, she never did one “bad” thing in all the years I knew her.  She came to work with me, out to eat with me, shopping with me, hiking with me, even camping with me.   Angel loved every person and animal she ever met.  Anytime a new dog, bunny, or cat came into our home, she was immediately protective and mothering.  Anything with a heartbeat became her fast friend.

Living with and loving each other since she was a baby and I was a child, Angel and I truly shared a life and helped to form one another’s personalities.  She was stoic, strong, and beautiful, yet tender, kind-hearted, and so friendly.  In her, I saw all of my good qualities reflected yet none of my bad.  That I saw the potential of my best self in a dog may seem odd to some, but not to any who knew her.  Angel taught me what it is to love and be loved.  Angel’s love was unconditional without awareness of it being so.  Her love just was, and it was me she chose to love.  Because of her, I know the true meaning of friendship.  I see her reflected in my closest friends.  The ones who always stand by you, who never waver, who don’t know what it would be to waver.

Angel was more than a dog, she was more than a person, or a life.  Angel was to me, an angel.  She came to life, she loved, she taught, she saved, and because of that, she will always remain.  Her body was tired, but her soul and her spirit live on.  While I miss her presence by my side, I feel her presence in my heart and there it will never fade.  I know her spirit walks beside me and will until my body too becomes tired.  Angel and I are forever.

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Ellen Bucher Photography

Greetings from Richmond

As you all know, I reside in the beautiful and talent-filled city of Richmond, Virginia.  With Christmas fast approaching and shopping days dwindling down, I thought I would offer a little help with some last minute gift ideas, from my town to yours.

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First on our list is that person who says “just get me a card”.  Well, if all they want is a card, you better make it a beautiful one!  Miss Holly Camp Gallagher of Holly Camp Cards makes some of the most gorgeous water color cards, and paintings, I’ve ever seen.  She’s one of my favorite Richmond illustrators.  Any card by Holly is sure to be a cherished gift.

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Next up, I have handpicked some perfect small gifts for friends.  Urban Revisions is a label I have featured many times on A Ring to It.  Miss Arlie Throwbridge is the genius behind these glass wonders.  Any Urban Revisions piece would be the perfect gift to give any lady in your life, these earrings in particular are simple, classic, and the all around perfect small gift.

Following my pick for earrings is a beautiful friendship bracelet by the label Giant Lion.  Giant Lion designer Caroline Whittington adds glamour to everyday pieces with high quality materials and meticulous attention to detail.  Her pieces are simple and polished yet still fun and youthful.  What better gift for a friend than a beautiful friendship bracelet?

For your most whimsical and fun-loving friend, an adorable hand knit headband topped with a bow, made by the equally adorable Leney Breeden of the label A Girl Named Leney.  Her shop offers a number of precious pieces, including panda bear hats, tiny knit animals and sweet pom pom topped caps.  A great stop for the forever young.

Now, if you are searching for a gift for a friend who actually IS quite young, (which I have a quite a few of since so many of my friend began reproducing in the last couple years), look no further than Phil Barbato.  Phil’s shop is packed with fun and unique plush creations that any child (or adult) will surely love.  Baby apes, fuzzy yaks, “whiskerbears”, and even a viking octopus, Phil Barbato creatures truly bring a child’s imagination to life, in the cutest way possible.

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I’m calling this next set “for your sister”.  Be it your blood sister or your soul sister, these are some beautiful pieces that she will truly adore… and they’re all necklaces.

On top is the gorgeous fringe beaded bib necklace by Young Frankk.  Another one of my favorite local designers, I have worn Christine Young’s hammered brass pieces a number of times on A Ring to It.  This piece in particular is an excellent complement to the holiday season.

Eliza Spell creates pieces heavy in technique, history, and meaning.  Her black jasper merkaba necklace protects the spirit and body on all of its worldly travels.  Gifts with a story are always cherished.

Now, for the true Virginia-proud lady in your life, Rare Bird‘s Virginia State necklace is the gift to give.  Richmonders are known to be very proud of our city and our state, I have more than a few friends lusting over this piece.

Finally, a lovely piece by miss Rachel Albright at Academy Jewelry.  Another Richmond lady whose jewelry is regularly featured here on A Ring to It, her handmade baubles are some of my favorite.  Whimsical and modern, they are perfect for any fashion forward lady in your life.  This particular piece is available through Need Supply Co.

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Now some help for the men out there…  If you are searching for the perfect gift for a special woman in your life, these are some excellent choices.  Your first option, an exquisite handmade leather bag by miss Angie Bacskocky.  Meticulously handcrafted from beautiful leather, this bag, or any of her others, are staple pieces for any woman’s wardrobe.  In addition to bags, Angie Bacskocky has a full line of women’s ready-to-wear with pieces to suit any closet.  Definitely a must-stop-shop for clueless men.

Another shop you have to see?… That of miss Emerald Grippa.  Emerald’s scarves, digitally printed with her extraordinary water color paintings, are truly wearable art.  I want every piece she has ever made.  You cannot miss with any of her lovely designs.  Women of any age, and with any style silhouette, will treasure whichever design you choose.. and you are in luck because right now, Emerald’s entire store is 30% off with guaranteed arrival by Christmas if you order by the 21st!

Another option for lovely scarves are the ethereal, hand dyed creations from designer Willow Knows.  Willow Knows’ pieces are breathtakingly beautiful.  Their clean aesthetic and dreamy colors are a great match for the free spirited or city smart woman.

Looking for something special and a little different?  These handmade clay bowls by Tasha McKelvey, with precious lovebirds perched on their rims, make a sweet and thoughtful gift.  Also in Tasha’s store, clay gnome and Santa ornaments!

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Now a little guidance on gifts for guys.  I say that the holiday season is the perfect time to push the men in your life towards the fashion aesthetic you think they SHOULD have *wink wink*.  If they are already stylish, just continue the tradition.  Richmond menswear has taken a huge leap forward this year.  With the arrival of new Richmond based design brands Ledbury and Shockoe Denim hitting the scene and joining local designers like Richmond Thread Lab, men have more local goodies to choose from than ever.  This is just a sampling of what these designers offer.

New label, Shockoe Denim, designs, cuts, and sews denim from Cone Mills in North Carolina into handcrafted jeans right in their downtown Shockoe district showroom.  Truly capturing the craft of a bygone era, these jeans are a great addition to any man’s wardrobe… who doesn’t need perfectly tailored, perfectly fitting jeans?!

Christie Hope is the designer and brain child behind Richmond Thread Lab.  Handcrafting ties and small accessories from vintage textiles, she creates unique gifts for stylish men and women.  With amazing textures and beautiful prints, every item is handmade and one of a kind, two qualities that always make the best gifts.

Lastly, Ledbury is pretty much Mecca for stylish men.  Clean, classic lines, impeccable attention to detail and tailoring,  a Ledbury shirt (or pair of cuff links) is truly a quality gift.  If I had a boyfriend, I’d be buttoning up one of these babies on him every day.  A Ledbury shirt is plain and simple just a perfect shirt!  Don’t forget to check out their blazers and accessories as well!

I hope this gift guide helps you all friends!  Have a wonderful Holiday Season!  xox

when the minima-list met the maxima-list

Since my blog’s inception, I have received a number of requests to do a post on how to create a minimalist wardrobe. Every time I am met with this query I think the same thing, “they are asking the WRONG person”. So, I took it upon myself to find the right person.

I can only imagine that the reason one would want a minimalist wardrobe is to simplify one’s life. I can definitely recognize the appeal of having a wardrobe which doesn’t require a lot of time, space, or critical thinking and yet always manages to be stylish. So how does one achieve this? Being a lover of bold prints, bright colors, and eccentric details, I was most definitely lost. I began researching minimalist dressing when it hit me, Kristen Ziegler! One of my dearest friends, and owner of the professional organizing company, Minima, Kristen is the ultimate minimalist, so I contacted her with my dilemma and my journey into minimalism began.

Kristen’s closet was like the 8th wonder of the world in my eyes. How could someone so stylish have so few items tucked away in such a small space? Kristen began with the basics. Just as she tells Minima’s clientele, the first step is to think about what you need, then sort, and purge. Sadly, what I need is not something I have ever considered in relation to my wardrobe, so I needed a little help understanding just what it was that I do need. Kristen’s guidelines were pretty simple :

1. Decide on your wardrobe staples. These are the basics. Just the pieces that you need as a foundation for the rest of your wardrobe. For example: jeans, a white button down, a little black dress, etc.

2. Choose a neutral color palette. Stick to black, white, and grey or brown, cream, and beige. Choose according to your own preferences and skin tone.

3. Select two accent colors, preferably one muted tone and one bright tone so as to match various occasions. Kristen loves pale pink and bright red. These colors will be your outlet to spice up the basics. Try to incorporate prints and unique elements with these pieces.

4. Look for pieces that are both multi-functional and mix and match, including accessories. A denim shirt can be worn as a jacket with a dress and has an over shirt with jeans and a tee. Black flats can be worn with almost any outfit.

5. Focus on quality rather than quantity. Find brands that you love, and that fit your body well, and stick to them. This not only keeps your personal style in order but also minimizes the time and energy spent looking for clothes.

6. Do not keep clothing that does not fit your body or your style. How many women out there hang on to jeans that are two sizes too small or keep a shirt they loved three years ago hanging in their closet simply out of sentiment?… I know a lot of them.

Now, for some, including myself, the implementation of this initial set of rules seems as though it would suck the fun right out of getting dressed every day. We are wrong! In order to demonstrate for me how a true minimalist works her mixing and matching magic, Kristen played model for a day using only seven items of clothing to create a weeks worth of outfits. I felt inspired, in an entirely new-to-me way, to go home and mix and match pieces from my own wardrobe. I realized that finding numerous ways to use one piece really gets your creativity buzzing and, shockingly, it is incredible FUN! Here is the beautiful Kristen, proving that fun and unique style is fully possible while still maintaining the most minimal of wardrobes.

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Cameron Charles Lewis Photography

Kristen’s pieces: H&M sweaters, tank, denim shirt, white blouse, and striped scarf. Urban Outfitters jeans, American Apparel disco pants, Gap pink scarf, Dolce Vita khaki wedges, Rare Bird inverted triangles necklace, Marks & Spencer tote.

A few touches from A Ring to It: Rag & Bone hat, Zara bag, Urban Revisions glass necklace, Academy clay necklace, Elizabeth & James sunnies, Schutz pumps, Jeffery Campbell sneakers c/o Nastygal

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. In fact, Kristen had at least five more outfits planned when we ran out of time. Such is the life a busy professional organizer. If you need some help organizing your wardrobe or closet, or any other room in your house for that matter, give Kristen a ring (to it) *wink wink*. She can be reached via her website or via facebook, and she has gift cards of all values just in time for the holidays! They make the perfect gift for the organizing challenged loved one in your life! Thank you so much to Kristen and Minima for teaching me a lesson in minimalism. I will be back soon to prove to the world that I did in fact learn a thing or two. Good luck cleaning out your closet my friends and don’t forget to check out Minima!

http://minimaonline.com/

https://www.facebook.com/minimaonline

the unseasonable sunny

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Insight blazer and shorts c/o Wasteland

Ellen Bucher Photography

Well, it seems to be floating away now, but recently, we here in Richmond have had some unseasonable warm weather.  I’m talking mid 70’s late spring sunbathing weather.  So, I figured I ought to take advantage of it, put on some fun summery flowers, and basque in the warmth.  This outfit came to me via Wasteland over the summer and I never got around to posting it.  Insight is a label that is always on top of it’s game.  Unfortunately, their designs run a little large on me, so wearing them for my posts can be a bit complicated and usually involves a number of clips and awkward posturing.  I still love it though.  This year, wearing an entire outfit in all one print is super on trend.  I happen to love this way of styling outfits.  I find it super accessible and yet daring in a somewhat muted manner.  The key is to find fun prints.  While floral seems to be one of the most popular prints of the moment for this fad, more avant garde options include large fruit prints, ombre fabrics, and even digital photo prints.  I’m pretty obsessed with all of the above.  I find that popping these prints onto classic styles works best and also is a fantastic way to spice up the basics.