be well + be fierce | a giveaway with tata harper (closed)


you guys, have i got something fab for you. and not just for you, for you and your bestie! i am talking about the ultimate in special treatment. luxury to the max.

i am partnering with tata harper skincare to bring you a special treat for your skin. the perfect way to combat dull winter skin and to start the new year putting your best face forward. radiance and glow and warm and fuzzies and wellbeing. great, right?

if you haven’t heard of tata harper or become a convert, now is the time. these products leave your skin dewy and refreshed and glowing. the company is all about using natural and nontoxic elements to nourish the skin. they carefully select effectual ingredients that heal and feed your skin while imparting a delicate, floral, garden-fresh scent.


i am delighted to give be well + be fierce treatment sets to TWO LUCKY DUCKS. one for you and one for a friend. you could receive a be fierce lip treatment + a pocket-sized aromatherapy treatment set. swoon. sigh. and wowee.

be fierce lip treatment

this deeply hydrating, conditioning lip therapy effectively relieves feelings of dryness and chapped irritation for soft, happy lips. a highly concentrated, antioxidant-rich formula (no fillers!) delivers powerful environmental protection for day-long damage control.

  • vermont herbal nutrition complex combines meadowsweet, alfalfa, calendula and comfrey to exfoliate, oxygenate, repair and soothe
  • apricot kernel oil nourishes and moisturizes with concentrated minerals, vitamins and proteins
  • rhubarb, acai, and green tea oils infuse the lips with rich antioxidants for environmental protection and deep hydration

be well aromatherapy treatment

find daily peace with this set of aromatherapy treatments – highly concentrated essential oil blends formulated to deliver immediate emotional benefits. all together, these treatments help reduce the effects of a hectic, fast-paced lifestyle, and bring moments of peace and serenity to everyday life. these treatments can be used as many times throughout the day as desired. you will receive travel sized versions of: aromatic stress treatment + aromatic irritability treatment + aromatic bedtime treatment + love potion.


this giveaway will run from december 31 through january 3 on the blog and on instagram. head over there to check it out and play by those rules (i am @madameswanky).

blog rules:

comment below and introduce yourself! just your name and maybe what you would do to treat yourself with these treatments. a winner will be randomly chosen and contacted on january 4…and you will receive two sets: one for you and one for a friend of your choosing.

have fun! and good luck.

and goodness gracious, thank you team tata harper for your crazy generosity! xo.

thanks to everyone who entered! it was so nice to “meet” you and get to know each of you a bit. i wish i could give tata harper goodies to EVERYONE. maybe, someday…

our winner is…AMANDA! congrats, lady.



taking stock | december’s end | 2015’s end

making // plans for the new year.
cooking // is taking a backseat to eating out. we are keeping it super simple during the day and either squeezing in some dinners out on the town or making a big pot of something and enjoying it for a few days to follow. ’tis the season. a new month/year will bring new ideas and motivation.
drinking // honey lavender almond milk lattes + anandamide smoothies + ambrosial bulletproof coffee with prash + water. water. water.
reading // voracious + rosie revere, engineer + spurgeon.
wanting // to play games and watch movies and enjoy some sipping chocolate for the next few days.
looking // at the twinkling tannenbaum. it will come down soon (still debating whether it stays until after epiphany). but for now, we savor these final moments of holiday magic.
playing // classical christmas on pandora + sinatra and crosby christmas records + michael w. smith christmas. the sounds of the season are still going strong.
wasting // coffee grounds. any locals in need of some for their garden? come to think of it, i have a new herb box that could use them. cross your green thumbs for me. i want to keep these babies alive…they were a gift from my father-in-law. no pressure, rachel.
sewing // some super amazing projects are really, truly happening. the fabrics have been purchased. look out, world!
wishing // that i had a universal remote for our universe.
enjoying // my sockerbit candy stash and decadent chocolate bars.
waiting // for the little ones to wake.
liking // playing with new pretty things and curating collections: closet, bedroom, art, and home goods.
loving // my new specs and my selfie stick. specs for when i want to unleash my inner nerd (or for days when i want to look polished and makeup just isn’t happening). and my selfie stick because it is such a fun new toy! i think it will be a nice break for my instagram husband. love you, ben…mwah!
hoping // that i can be a better me in 2016. and by that, i mean, less of me and more of Him.
marveling // at ridley’s dexterity. he is rocking side planks and grasping and maneuvering. and the eating! yes, we have a solid food eater over here. please send money. we are starting an avocado fund. come to think of it, we should just plant an avocado tree. okay, okay, let’s see how the herbs fare.
needing // a night out with my man. this weekend, ben!
smelling // logs burning.
wearing // a half topknot + yet another plaid shirt + striped jeans + colorful sequined flats.
noticing // the peculiar feeling of this time of the year. i have talked about it before. the days between christmas and the new year. they are bittersweet. some of my favorite moments with kith and kin. but also, a certain sadness. my friend sarah (and here and here) is living in sweden right now and she texted me the other day about this very thing. she said that she remembered my posting about the week between christmas and the new year and could never find the right sentiment to capture it until, sweden. the swedish language has a word for it! they call the time “mellandagar” which means “between days”. and so, i am in the thick of mellandagar, over here. and as an aside: the english language is often lacking when it comes to capturing feelings and ambiance. for example, we have the word “cozy”. but scandinavians have the word “hygge” which carries much more weight of meaning. it means the season of well-being and cozy. warmth. glow. being surrounded by loved ones. hearty meals. twinkling lights. illumination. you know, the glorious “feeling” of christmas. love that.
knowing // that God is good.
thinking // about business-y things.
feeling // full. still.
bookmarking // travel books and home design inspiration.
opening // boxes of goodies…that i get to share with you all very soon!
giggling // like crazy with my ever-amusing family.

past post here. and keep your eyes on the blog for the next week or so…i’m talking resolutions and GIVEAWAYS and super fun collabs. 

celebrating christmas

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we had such a splendid holiday, and i hope you and your family did as well.

the days leading up to the big day were spent cooking and baking and movie watching and festive coffee/tea sipping. lots of popcorn was consumed. even more sweet treats were consumed (but it is okay because of the half training, right? ahem. right.). and of course, there was a smoothie or two mixed in there. you know #balance.

the days and nights were spent with our little family, extended family, and church family. savoring the advent season and preparing our hearts. the joy around our home was effervescent. all was calm, all was bright. well, except for the one strand of tree lights that blew right before the main event. sigh. oh well, at least things were calm. we were good in the calm department.

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on christmas eve, we cooked up our traditional pot of chili, donned our festive best, and piled in the sleigh to meet up with our family at church. everything was twinkling and magical. merry and bright. we listened to the festival of nine lessons & carols. my very favorite. and after some post-service mixing and mingling (as well as some exclamations of christmas cheer by elinor) we went back to our place.

the little ones opened their christmas eve pajamas and put out the cookies for santa, and were tucked into bed to let those sugar plums dance in their heads. the adults settled in with some white chocolate peppermint tea and popcorn to watch a christmas carol. the gloriously grainy alastair sim version (p.s. did you know that ridley was *this close* to being named alastair? yup.) anyway, after we were sufficiently in the spirit, we got everything arranged under the tree and got to bed so santa could come!

and boy, did he come.

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on christmas morning, ben and i woke early to enjoy some “just us” time. we sipped christmas morning mimosas, listened to the messiah, and opened gifts together. it was magical. quiet and sweet. i cherish this time together. and i know our quiet christmas mornings together are numbered so we really tried to enjoy it. our kids love their sleep but i give them another year tops before they are up before the sun, begging to get the party started.


after we had our turn opening gifts, we placed baby jesus in the manger and placed the little ones’ gifts under the tree. we woke elinor and ridley so that our christmas day could officially begin. and one of my favorite moments of the day was when elinor saw jesus lying on the straw that she had added to the manger throughout advent. she exclaimed: “oh! baby jesus is here! he came in the manger!” and our hearts melted. she spotted him from the staircase. she noticed His presence before any of the presents. she was more excited about that than anything else. it was incredible. soli Deo gloria. gloria in excels is Deo.

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we opened presents. we watched the little ones play and giggle. it was such a perfect morning. santa even brought matching yankees hats for elinor and ridley. good man.

AND in an ironic and hilarious act of baby, ridley nibbled on his new book, “the incredible book eating boy” so that gave us quite the chuckle. oh, children. they make everything more fun. they keep you young. they keep you humble. they keep you grateful.

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and then, it was off to my folks’ place for a morning of faux-snow-ball throwing and presents and beautiful children-full christmas chaos and my man’s lasagna. dare i say, legendary? but seriously, it’s that good.

we laughed together. we swapped gift shopping stories. we sipped wine and filled our bellies with all the meat and cheese and pasta that we could handle. and then, we finished off the meal with sticky toffee pudding. perfection. all around.

and speaking of perfection…these match-matchy cousins…

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the evening was spent back at our place with ben’s family. we opened gifts and enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs and salad and cannolis. we like to be italian on christmas. all the carbs. all the cheese. all the veal. it’s grand. 


we chit-chatted and played with new toys and a few people even curled up and took naps. i mean, adults! adults took naps. that’s the sign of a successful and cozy gathering, in my opinion. so, i guess you can say it was a pretty good day.

the only bummer was that my phone and i lost steam around 6pm and i only captured one measly shot of our evening. slacker. next year i am enlisting ben as my back-up photog. i will pass the baton in the early evening so i can make sure to get more pictures. lack of pictures, notwithstanding, i can assure you that we had the very best time.

and now, i am off to play with my presents and listen to christmas music to keep those christmas-is-over-bah-humbug-blues at bay. until next year, christmas! you are the very best.

on the eve of christmas


o holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
long lay the world in sin and e’er pining.
’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
fall on your knees! oh, hear the angel voices!
o night divine, o night when Christ was born;
o night, o holy night, o night divine!

#12DatesofChristmas2015 | number eleven


 ····· on the eleventh date of christmas ·····

annual family brunch and shopping extravaganza

over the weekend, ben so thoughtfully offered to spend the morning at home with the kids so that i could fly solo and meet up with the whole whitehouse crew for the annual brunching and browsing and buying outing. i have missed it for the last couple of years, but this year the event was scheduled on a saturday so, no excuses. and since ben has been busy-busy doing his year-end-financial-dividend-market-stocks-mutual-funds-buy-sell-bull-bear things (please don’t ask me what he does. that explanation is about as close as i can get.), he was thrilled to have an opportunity to crash at home and enjoy a quiet morning of playing with the kids and having a coffee date with elinor.

and so, i donned my festive plaid apparel and blasted christmas music in the car…and braved the crowds. all of the glorious hustle and bustle!

once our crew squished into a cozy booth at snooze, we ordered a pancake flight to get things started…so, yeah. it was once of those meals. we lingered over our breakfast feast and once we were feeling full and fine, we got down to the business of shopping.

all my shopping was done, so i was really just along for the ride. but, i did my best to provide stimulating conversation and comic relief. oh, and i might have snagged an extra pair of hanna jams for ridley because they were having a killer sale and i am a sucker for babies in pajamas. and ’tis the season for wearing jams all day long, am i right?

and speaking of jams and  ’tis the season…three more sleeps ’til Christmas!