Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

After pouring myself a glass of cheap wine, I sat in front of my Christmas tree and cried. It was the first holiday I had ever spent alone and away from home. I wasn’t just sad, I was bone-wearingly exhausted from my overnight shift at work. It left me wondering if the relentless sacrifices I was making (the crazy hours, aggressive work load, being away from my friends and family) all to pursue my dreams of being a television journalist were even worth it.

Earlier that week, my mother had sent me a box full of goodies to cheer me. Despite dreading the approaching holiday, I carefully placed each present under the tree and waited to open them. My usual tradition was to enjoy the most amazing Christmas Eve dinner with my family. My mother always prepared her yearly feast of steak and lobster. It was a treat all of us anticipated and relished; feeding a lot of kids that kind of food was expensive and my parents saved all year to make it happen.

After we devoured our meal, each person at the table would become the center of attention as they opened one allocated gift. Naturally, everyone oohed and awed at the reveal, but the rest of the presents and overstuffed stockings were saved for a joyful Christmas morning, one that was celebrated with pastries, eggnog, Christmas carols and a huge Mexican-style dinner served later in the day. The highlight of the meal was always my mother’s famous “Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas.” It’s still one of my favorite meals to date.

It all seemed like such a distant memory as I sat in front of my Charlie Brown Christmas tree (which was actually more of a plant,) with a huge bottle of “Gallo White Zinfandel” and a Burrito Supreme (with extra sour cream) from Taco Bell. It was the only thing open when I got off of work. What’s more, it was the only thing I could afford on my paltry 12-thousand dollar a year salary.

Christmas morning was even worse. I woke-up with a hangover and a hole in my heart. My gifts seemed obsolete. I called my mother and cried into the receiver, explaining how depressed I was. I tearily confessed: “Not only can I barely function, I don’t think I could make it to work today.” I also admitted that I had stopped showering and doing my own laundry. I begged her to come to Texas (where I was living and working at the time) and help me as soon as humanly possible. What my mother did next was something I will never forget.

“Shireen, listen to me carefully,” she said. “Get out of bed and clean yourself up and do your own laundry. You’re a grown woman, for the love of God. Start taking care of yourself, because if you don’t do it, NO ONE else will.” I fell silent. She then told me that she loved me, wished me a Merry Christmas and hung up the phone. I was nothing short of stunned by her response. She had always been so supportive and kind.

I cried again, but this time I did it while putting a load of laundry in the washer. Matter of fact, I was still crying by the time I got in the shower. I have to admit, though, it felt pretty good to wash away the West Texas dust that had built up in my hair. It also felt good to mourn what Christmas had once meant to me. I knew that if I truly wanted to be a journalist, life as I had once known it was not an option.

Christmas came and went. Actually, a lot of them did. I’m not going to say it got easier, it just got different. Some years I celebrated with different co-workers, other years (if I was working on location out of town,) I celebrated with different strangers. Eventually, I married and celebrated with different families. After I divorced, I found myself alone and celebrating differently, once again.

Read the rest of my holiday blog at www.wsvn.com or buy one of Natalie’s special ornaments at www.nataliesarabella.com.

Twitter: @NataliSarabella
IG: @NatalieSarabella
FB: Natalie Sarabella

Blog wardrobe, shoes & accessories by www.kokopalenki.com
Styling: Shari Bloch of Koko & Palenki
Twitter: @KokoPalenki
IG: KokoPalenki
FB: KokoPalenki

Top 3: UGG Australia Booties

 

My favorite things in the world, fashion-wise, are shoes. For me, there’s nothing like a beautiful pair of high heels and whether it’s a pump, stiletto, platform, single-sole, ankle strap, cone, sling-back, peep-toe, mule, ballroom, cut-out, french, corset, oxford, chunky, comma or fantasy heel, I love and wear them all equally.

My shoe game is sick (I mean that in a good way.) I don’t have a traditional 401k, I have four-hundred-one killer pair of shoes, give or take a few, but when I’m not sliding, slipping, buckling, snapping and lacing a pair of my lov-ahs on (I stole that phrase from “Sex and the City,”) I’m relaxing my feet in one of “My Favorite Things,”  UGG Boots.

It’s a dirty secret no more. When I’m not prancing around on my tip toes, I’m shuffling along in my UGGs. They’ve been my favorite relaxed footwear for years. When I wear a pair, it’s like walking on marshmallows, but prettier and with less calorie consumption. This week my Top 3 is dedicated to my favorite new UGGS, just in time for the holidays! Hint, hint …

 

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Mini Bailey Bow Snake in Black or Metal /$160 

As Rachel Zoe says: “I die!” The Mini Bailey Bow Snake UGG is so stylishly delicious, I can’t stand it. Matter-of-fact, deciding what color to buy (they come in black and metal) threw me into a complete tizzy. The front of the boot is decorated with a snake print, while the back of the boot shows off a perfectly tied, beautiful bow. UGG calls it “a perfect merger between chic and sweet” and I couldn’t agree more. If you’re the kind of girl who needs to be fashionable even when you’re chill-axing, this boot’s for you. 

www.uggaustralia.com

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The Cozy & Cool “Camaya” in Textured black/$175 

When I’m not on television, I let my “Santa Fe” come out. That’s my funny way of saying that I love dressing like a bohemian gypsy from New Mexico. I grew up in the Southwest and the suede Camaya UGG boot makes me feel closer to home. It’s textured with a cozy metallic knit and has splashes of sequins to add pizzazz. There’s nothing like a pretty shirt, a long skirt, my favorite turquoise necklace and these booties to make me feel like any errand is fashionably possible. 

www.uggaustralia.com

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Classic Mini Exotic Scales in Tropical Sunset/$140 

Who needs a rainbow when you have your choice of Marine Blue, Anemone or my favorite, Tropical Sunset. The Classic Mini Exotic Scale boot isn’t just bright, it’s beautiful and perfect for the South Florida fashionista: they’re short, chic and easy on the feet in the warm weather. Along with the sunny colors, UGG dipped this supple suede mini into the oh-so-popular aquatic trend, embossing the boot with exotic scales. I adore wearing them to work because they’re cute and comfy, plus they’re easy to slide-off, making way for any of those fabulous aforementioned high heels. These boots are definitely made for walking. 

www.uggaustralia.com

 

Shop the look at www.uggaustralia.com or find it on social media:
Twitter: @UGGaustralia, IG: @UGGaustralia, FB: UGG Australia

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” Marilyn Monroe
Now, go be fabulous!

Shireen’s Spotlight: The Beach Cafe at Morada Bay

 

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What: The Morada Bay Beach Cafe & Bar, 81600 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, Florida 33036 

Why: I’ve never been so in love with an outdoor space (although, “Shuckers” in North Bay Village is a close second.) The Morada Bay Beach Cafe & Bar is the perfect place to have an adult beverage and watch Paradise slowly, beautifully and hypnotically fall asleep. 

Its sandy outdoor area, which faces west, overlooks the sparkling blue waters of Islamorada. Its a view that lets you watch Mother Nature show off in all of her splendid glory. My visit to the restaurant wasn’t planned, per se, but it was arranged at the last minute by “The Moorings Village & Spa,” where my crew and I were shooting a “Shireen’s Favorite Things” fashion blog. 

After a hard day’s work, we drove a short distance South on the Overseas Highway and ended up at the cool and colorful cafe. We quickly ordered cocktails, chatted, laughed and fully fell in love with the crazy-good view. Just before the golden glow of the sun sunk below the horizon, we took an obscene amount of selfies (light like that is hard to come by) and then proceeded to order every plate on the menu, which has a Caribbean flair.

The yummiest were the Mayu Coconut Shrimp and Mahi Fish Tacos, but the absolute standout was the Morada Bay Crab Cakes. In the middle of dinner, though, we were interrupted by gusty winds and a major drop in temperature. The super friendly wait staff quickly and efficiently moved us to their covered patio area, where we finished the night with Cosmos (for the non-drivers) and coffee. It was such a fun experience, we all vowed to return ASAP. 

Where: Islamorada is located in the Florida Keys and is only a couple of hours away from Miami. It’s a great getaway, especially if you’re longing for some rest and relaxation but don’t wanna schlep all the way to Key West. You’ll find a plethora of little shops, restaurants and great places to stay there. 

The Beach Cafe sits right off of Mile Marker 81.6 and is situated next to Pierre’s, a famous two-story plantation house adorned with bright blue shutters that was converted into a French Cuisine restaurant back in 1999.

When: The cafe & bar are open 7 days a week until 11:30pm (sometimes later, depending on your enthusiasm or the spirit of your party.) That’s just how they roll in the Florida Keys. 

The cafe doesn’t take reservations.  
www.moradabay.com 
Facebook: Morada Bay Seafood Restaurant 

Editor: Matthew Auerbach 
Photo: t4two photography 
Producer: Shireen Sandoval & Moorings Village  
Writer: Shireen Sandoval 

“I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.” T.S. Eliot  Now, go be fabulous!

Wrapped in Beauty

 

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When Diane von Furstenberg told me to stand up and raise my arms above my waist, I was slightly embarrassed, but completely enthralled at the same time. She wanted to teach me the proper way to tie her famous wrap dress. So I, of course, did exactly as the fashion icon ordered. “The Amelia looks really good on you,” she said happily and explained the reason I was styled in the dress.

“I designed it to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the wrap dress,” Diane said proudly, as she ripped the sealed pockets of the frock open. “Has Shireen been gifted this dress?” Diane inquisitively asked her assistant. “No, not yet,” her assistant chirped. “Well then, this is my gift to you,” Diane said matter-of-factly as she reached for my waist. Overwhelmed by her gesture, I mumbled how honored I was and watched as she untied the bow that I had carefully cinched before our interview. 

“All you have to do is tie this one under and this one over. Voila! See, you don’t need a bow. It will stay put, you’ll see.” I nodded vehemently, as she easily corrected something I had obviously been doing wrong for the majority of my adult fashion life. My face flushed with redness; it wasn’t because I was embarrassed, either. 

It was because Diane von Furstenberg, herself, the woman, the designer, the legend, the person who had created this incredibly stylish, beyond beautiful dress had not only generously gifted it to me, but had unpretentiously proceeded to show me the proper way to tie it. Despite having a career jam-packed with celebrity encounters, it was an incredible moment, one that I will never forget. It felt different; special, even. 

Perhaps it was the affectionate fawning she showered over me, the sincerity of it or the fact that we both shared a deep love and passion for fashion. Whatever it was, I held back the tears as the moment unfolded. In her presence, I felt undeniably “Wrapped in Beauty.” Later that day, when I got back to the Deco Drive offices, I tried explaining the encounter to my blog editor, Matthew Auerbach, who I endearingly call Matty.

I didn’t expect him to understand, but he surprised me by replying: “I totally get it; it’s like a Yankees fan getting a batting lesson from Derek Jeter.” I shook my head in total agreement and replied: “Yes, that’s exactly it.” Matty then proceeded to tell me if I didn’t write about the exchange between Diane and myself I’d have to be insane. Actually, I think he said nuts and I definitely don’t want him thinking I’m nuts. 

There are a lot of reasons why DVF, the woman is so special. The magnitude of her individuality and what makes her so appealing is perhaps best explained in her new book “The Woman I Wanted To Be,” a candid and heartfelt memoir about her relationship with her mother (who was a survivor of Auschwitz,) her many lovers and her incredible rise to fame as a fashion designer. 

I sat down with Diane recently at her pop-up store in the Aventura Mall, a beautiful space partially dedicated to her Los Angeles exhibit, “Journey of a Dress” celebrating the 40th anniversary of her famous wrap dress. We talked about her new book, her new reality show and in short, just what an astonishing year it’s been for her.

To read my intimate interview with Diane go to www.wsvn.com or to shop the look featured in the blog go to www.DFV.com

Blog wardrobe provided by www.dvf.com 
styled by Diane von Furstenberg 
Twitter: @DVF
IG: @DVF 
Facebook: DVF – Diane von Furstenberg  

Top 3: Candles of the Holiday Season

 

My house is my sanctuary and I love to fill it with things that make me feel comfortable, spoiled and relaxed. During the holidays, there’s nothing like the smell of a beautiful candle to celebrate the season. I’m especially obsessed with cookies, spices and tropical fruits. This week’s Top 3 is dedicated to my favorite “Candles of the Holiday Season”…

 

 

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Christmas Cookie/Yankee Candle/$27.99

If you can’t bake it, fake it with a Christmas Cookie candle from Yankee. When I light one up, a rich buttery vanilla scent hangs in the air. It’s perfect for when I’m trying to show off my domestic prowess. I burn it for a few hours, blow it out and hide it the cupboard. When my company arrives, they know instantly that I’ve been “baking,” but of course, I deny it and then coyishly offer up a plate of my favorite Archway Soft Sugar Cookies (sans their container, naturally.) This candle makes the holiday sweet, fun and delicious.

www.yankeecandles.com

 

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Holiday Classic Candle/Nest Fragrances/$34.00

Before I fire up my Holiday Classic Candle by Nest, I put on my silky robe and high heel furry slippers, then pour myself a glass of champagne for good measure. This scent is pure decadence and is meant to be adored and savored. I guess that’s why I don my evening’s best before burning it. The intoxicating candle is a mix of pomegranate, Mandarin orange, pine, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and amber. It makes a great stocking stuffer or gift. When I buy them for friends, my motto is: “one for you and two for me.

www.nestfragrances.com

 

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Capri Blue Mercury Glass Jar Candle/Anthropologie/$28.00

I love anything that looks used and worn in the most wonderful way, so you can imagine the love affair I have with the store Anthropologie and its Capri Blue Mercury Candle. Not only does it smell fresh and clean, it looks amazing as the candle flickers through its Shabby Chic recycled glass jar, giving off a glorious, golden glow. I’m enchanted by its ingredients of tropical fruits, sugared oranges, lemons, limes and exotic mountain greens. A few years ago, I started gifting the Capri (as I call it) to close family members,  now they demand it. Oh, the nerve! At least it makes my list simple and easy.

www.anthroplogie.com

 

Now, go be fabulous!