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Holiday Gift Guide: Niche Christmas Candles 


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There are only a couple weeks until Christmas! Ahhh I’m not ready. If you’re still looking for a gift for someone special in your life than what’s better than a really, really nice candle. Nothing makes a home feel cozier than an amazing candle. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on here before, but my mom is like a scent expert. She knows everything and anything about perfume and scents. This year, we’ve partnered up to do a niche holiday candle gift guide! These candles are pretty pricey but if you appreciate a beautiful scent then you would love one of these. These candles fill your whole house with the scent and have a very rich depth to them that you don’t find in cheaper candles. Though, I think that many companies make amazing dupes and you by no means have to spend this much on candles, but if you’re feeling like treating yourself or a friend, then here’s what we recommend.

  1. “Holiday” by NEST Fragrances (above)

Notes: pomegranate, mandarin orange, pine, cloves, cinnamon

Francesca: I’m starting this off with my favorite one. I first discovered this candle years ago during vacation. We were in a department store and I smelled this candle and I was like “this is it, this is Christmas.” My parents let me get the mini one and I have cherished it since. This takes the place of a real Christmas tree by delivering the scent! Also, it’s so beautiful and quite large so it makes a great decoration for a centerpiece.

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2 + 3. Jo Loves “The Beaumont”

Notes: Warm, smoky incense and crushed, aromatic spices

Mom: This one smells very woody. It smells like walking into a wood-paneled library or something. It’s a little bit sweet. I like that it smells very warm and like an old grand hotel, like it’s named after. I really love this one!

Francesca: This is what I would imagine the Plaza hotel to smell like! Or like the backstage of an old theater. Very beautiful and timeless.

Jo Loves “Christmas Trees”

Notes: pine, lavender, incense, amber

M: It smells just like walking through a Christmas tree farm! We used take a horse-drawn carriage to cut down our own Christmas trees and after we cut it down, we would go to a barn and have cookies and hot chocolate when you were a kid. This reminds me of that.

F: Those were good times! I agree, this candle smells very nostalgic and fresh.  This is a smokier, more masculine pine scent.

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4. Épices et Délices (Delicious Spices) by Diptyque 

Notes: gingerbread, honey, star ainse

M: This smells like wassail, the drink we always had on Christmas eve! (Wassail is a hot mulled cider drink originating from medieval times with sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.) And gingerbread cookies. This is a beautiful and delicious scent.

F: Mhmm this smells like fresh baked ginger cookies and those Christmas anise cookies. This would make a really awesome kitchen candle. Also, how cute is this packaging!? I never want to burn it because it’s so pretty!

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5. Un Encens Étoilé (Sparkling Incense) by Diptyque

Notes: sparkling woody accord, incense, elemi, vanilla

F: Sugar plum fairies! This reminds me of the Nutcracker. This smells the most like winter, it is warm and cold at the same time. This smells very fresh, a nice contrast to the other one.

M: This smells like incense and snow on the trees. It reminds me of Christmas eve mass in a big cathedral in the country, very whimsical smelling and rich. It’s called sparkling for a reason!

We were both so pleased with how all of these candles smelled, they are super rich and indulgent. Let me know in the comments what your favorite holiday candle is! Thank you to my mom for collaborating on this post with me!

Love, Francesca

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Haul out the Holly: Apartment Holiday Decorations

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Banner from Home Goods

Hey! Here are some photos of my apartment decorated for Christmas! I’ll add where I got everything in captions, along with some money saving tips. I had a lot of fun decorating and I hope you enjoy this! It honestly has barely been sunny in like two weeks (winter probs) at least while I’m home, so the lighting in these photos is a little dark but it’s the best I could do. Since this is our first Christmas in our apartment we were starting from scratch, so we tried to save as much as possible.

Ornaments from thrift store and Dollar Tree

Tree from Amazon, Ornaments from thrift store and Dollar Tree, Topper from Target

We saved a lot of money on the Christmas tree by getting it from Amazon for just $25! Also, I found the large, glittery baubles from the thrift store for just a few dollars, then the smaller ones from the Dollar Tree. I didn’t want to spend too much on ornaments so those were some great ways to save money! They also don’t look any different from the Target ones. I wrapped them with twine to attach to the tree for a more natural look. I also just bought some gold ribbon and tied bows around the tree! It was a really cost-effective way to decorate it and I think it turned out well.

Left stocking from Home Goods, Right stocking from Target

Can you guess which stocking is whose? :)

Pillows from Target

Pillows from Target

I bought the snowflake pillow from Target right after Christmas last year and got a really good deal on it. I’m waiting until after Christmas this year to get some good deals again that I’ll save for next time!

Santa from thrift store, mini Nest Holiday candle, sign from Home Goods

Santa from thrift store, mini Nest Holiday candle, sign from Home Goods

Utilize thrift stores and flea markets! I mentioned we bought ornaments from the thrift store, but also this cute little santa and the girl nutcracker below. Yes, most of the decorations from the thrift store are ancient and tacky, but sometimes you can find a really cute knick-knack for little to nothing.

Tree from Home Goods, Darth Vader nutcracker was a gift

Nutcracker from antique shop

Nutcracker from antique shop

Truck figure from Target, Advent Calendar from Trader Joe's

Truck figure from Target, Advent Calendar from Trader Joe’s

I was so excited to see this advent calendar, I always used to do these as a kid and I don’t think I’m going to stop the tradition!

Mugs from left: Target, Home Goods, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Gift Shop, Home Goods

Mugs from left: Target, Home Goods, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Gift Shop, Home Goods

Place mat from Target

Place mat from Target

I love getting different place mats for every season and there are so many cute Christmas options! I ended up going for this one because I like the simplicity of it.

I mentioned this in my fall decorating post, but banners are an awesome and simple way to add a little bit of decoration without spending much money. After Christmas is over, I’m going to replace this banner with maybe a tassel one that can be used all year round!

Hope you enjoyed this little apartment tour. If you have any Christmas decorating tips or money saving tips, let me know!

18 days until Christmas!

Love, Francesca

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Wrapped Up in Pink

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{Wearing: Isaaz Mizrahi Live coat (thrifted) New York and Company sweater (thrifted) Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply Co. jeans, Target booties, Nine West purse}

Hey!

This weekend was Small Business Saturday, and as I mentioned in my weekend post, I did a little bit of secondhand shopping. I scored this coat and sweater at my favorite secondhand shop Second Chic.  Their prices are usually reasonable, but they had an amazing sale going on with half-off many of the items in the store. I got so many items at Goodwill prices, so it was definitely a great morning. I found this coat marked down to just $15! I had just said I was looking for a new winter coat too, and then found this. It’s so warm and is one of my favorite colors, plus I am really loving the fur trim on the hood. The sweater was just about $7 so also a great deal.

Since we live so close to the park, we usually go for walks whenever we can. This was the perfect outfit for the walk since it still wasn’t too cold out. I’m the kind of girl who will wear whatever I want even if it’s freezing out, and swear up and down I’m not cold, so I was proud of myself for bundling up.

These photos were taken in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Buffalo. It’s right next to the park and the art gallery, and it’s a quiet street lined with beautiful, huge homes. Every time we walk there, I say I want one of those houses one day. You don’t even need a big backyard because you’re right next to the park! It’s perfect. Good motivation to do well in college, at least. :)

Love, Francesca

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Weekend: Santa hats + Friendsgiving 

Merry Christmastime! Here are a few photos from over the weekend. I had a few of my friends over for a Friendsgiving. I actually made a turkey and it turned out okay (the gravy was a disaster but hey, I tried.) I don’t have any pictures of the food though because I was too busy to remember. I got the photo booth accessories from T.J. Maxx the other day and they were really fun! I’ll definitely be using them again, I wish I got them before we took photos for our Christmas cards. Everyone loves a photo booth.

I didn’t go Black Friday shopping this year, mostly because I didn’t think the deals were that great and did not want to deal with the crowds. My mom and I did go out for Small Business Saturday and found some awesome things! We went to my favorite consignment shop and they were having a massive half-off sale so I got lots of great clothes for really cheap! Tomorrow I’ll be checking out Cyber Monday for gifts to see what I can find.

If anyone has any holiday movie recommendations let me know! I have quite a few but I always like knowing everyone’s favorites and checking them out! We just got Home Alone 1 & 2 so that’s what I’ll be doing today!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and weekend!

Love, Francesca

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From Dusk until Dawn

{Wearing: Monteau dress, Cullen sweater, Eileen Fisher boots, Nine West bag, thrifted belt, random jewelry}

Hey Guys!

Yesterday was unusually warm so I got to wear this dress. Normally it’s too cold for a dress (without tights) this time of year but I was happy to get one more fall outfit in before I have to wear tights and pants all the time.

Sweaters and dresses are one of my favorite combinations. You can add a whole new look to a dress by wearing a sweater over it! A few people stopped and told me they liked my “dress..? or is it a skirt?” so you can keep people guessing ;) . But seriously, it’s the perfect way to spruce up your clothes and make you feel like you have a whole new wardrobe.

Also, today was one of the first Saturdays in a while that Dave and I haven’t had any plans (secretly excited about it) sooo… I finished the Christmas decorations! I think I’ll wait until just after Thanksgiving to share but I’m excited! Also, today I rediscovered how amazing the Dollar Tree is. It’s a store where every single item is just one dollar. And it’s heaven. Every time I go in I forget how much I like it, but it also makes me a little sad because I see lots of things I spent way too much for at Target, for just a dollar.

One more thing, you should totally go out and see the new Harry Potter movie! Well, I know it’s not a Harry Potter movie technically, but I’m calling it that. I saw it opening day and it’s amazing!! If you’re a Potter fan you will absolutely love it, and even if you’re not you will probably love it! It was so awesome to see more magic, especially set in 1920’s New York! Dave wrote a really good review on it, here it is, (spoiler, it gets an A!)

Enjoy your weekend!

xo, Francesca

Follow me on Instagram! @chessabond

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Minimalist + Festive Centerpiece (with things you probably already have)

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Hey guys!

It’s mid-November and my Christmas tree is already up, don’t judge. It’s not fully decorated yet so I have saved a bit of the fun. One of my favorite little things I like to change periodically in my apartment is the coffee table display. I wanted to make a cuter display that was festive but simple for Christmastime.

The mood struck to change my centerpiece yesterday, but I had just gotten home from school and I didn’t want to leave to go shopping to get something, plus I didn’t want to spend any money on it. So, I just went looking around my place, seeing if there were any knick-knacks I could put together to create something.

It’s almost like “shop your own closet” but for your home!

Here’s what I found: a candle, a wine decanter, a festive mini tray, and a ceramic pumpkin. I liked all of these things and have accumulated them at random times over the past few months. They were just sitting on shelves, so I put them together on a tray I already had. I went outside and just picked a couple leaves and a stick off a tree and put them in the wine decanter. It was super easy, and though they may not last that long, I can replace them with fake leaves eventually.

The key is to find things (that you already have) that all sort of match each other. You can fill any jar/vase with leaves or flowers for a nice look, then add a candle or any random thing that you like.

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{Wine decanter from Amazon, Pumpkin, candle, and large tray from Home Goods, Let it Snow plate from Target}

Tip: Don’t buy decorative “home” trays, just buy ones from the kitchen section. They are the same exact thing but way cheaper for some reason. I was searching for trays in Home Goods and they were getting quite pricey, the kitchen platters are much cheaper.

After making this one, I thought I would make another one to show how you can really just use anything you have lying around. I made this one this morning before heading to work and it took about two minutes. I just grabbed a couple things and put it together!

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{Fox and tree from Target, diffuser from Home Goods}

What I like about this one is that you can keep little remotes, change, or candy in the basket.

This is a really easy way to freshen up your coffee table! You could do this to any kind of table or shelf. Sometimes just grouping things together and switching them around makes a big difference!

Also- I’ve started decoration for Christmas so once I’m done I’m going to do a Christmas apartment tour! Plus, there will be some festive DIYs coming up soon!

Let me know which one you like better, or if you try this out!

Love, Francesca

{Follow me on Instagram: @chessabond}

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Elementary, My Dear Watson

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{Wearing: Kimchi Blue dress, Papaya trenchcoat, Freebird by Steven shoes, H&M tights, Nine West bag}

Trenchcoats always remind me of Sherlock Holmes, and no I’ve never seen it and I’m not even positive he wears a trench coat. Just googled it and he totally does.

Anyways, here is another style post! The weather has been getting significantly colder here and whenever this happens I always start to miss my dresses so much. I spend all summer waiting for it to get cold so I can wear jeans and sweaters then when it happens I just want the warmth back. The grass is always greener.

So this is one way I style dresses in colder weather because who says you can’t wear them all year long? I went shopping with my friend Laura yesterday and we found some amazing deals on summer clothing. This dress was originally $80 from Urban Outfitters and I found it on clearance for $15! Obviously, I had to get it, and as soon as I got home I put it on. I styled it with my new favorite trench and some booties and went on my way. I still got pretty freezing on the walk though so in the future I’ll add a scarf and a sweater, but it worked for now.

Back to trenchcoats, they have always been my favorite jacket. I have had the same one since about 9th grade and though it’s been featured on this blog time and time again, I figured it was time to retire it. I was going to splurge on a new one but then I found this for just $25 in Papaya and just pretend in my head it’s from Banana Republic or Zara because I don’t think you can really tell the difference. Trench coats just look so Parisian and effortless, and they make every outfit smarter.

Also, love the new Starbucks holiday cups! They’re cute every year but I like how these ones have different designs! As if I needed another reason to support my cappuccino obsession.

Love, Francesca

Connect with me on Instagram! @chessabond