Monday, January 29, 2007

Smart and Attractive- A Good Combination

Well ladies, I've been shopping on the internet the past couple of nights, and have seen things that would make your jaw drop! Yes, I've seen gorgeous Marc Jacobs bags, drooled over Chanel, and practically fainted at the prices. To loosely paraphrase Scarlet O'hara, "As God as my witness, I will never pay retail again!"

When I started Ashley's Big Secret, it was important to me to provide a way for fierce and fabulous females to buy gorgeous, exquisite and elegant jewelry without spending a darn fortune. I think I have good taste... but do I?

Lets take a look at some things I found that prove that you don't have to spend a lot to look like a million bucks. (And prove that my taste is pretty good in the meantime.)

First up, Marc Jacobs. I love him... and I'm pretty sure that my young shopping habits and first credit card bought him a small island in the Carribean a few years ago. He has come out with a wallet I just adore. Check it out... it's pretty, chic and $395.00! In the other corner, we have a surprisingly similar wallet from Ashley's Big Secret for $32.00. Winner? Our wallet. Wallets that leave some money to carry in it are best in my book.

Next up, a math lesson... bangle bracelet style. I found these bangles for $525.00 at Saks for 5 bangles. That's $105 a piece. On the other hand, we have Bangle Bracelets a la Toni for $15.00 for 10. That's $1.50 a piece. Or... double the bracelets for 2.85%. Or half the bracelets for 70 times the price. Sheesh! Let's be sensible now! I don't need a genius to tell me that saving $510 is a wise choice.

And finally, I saw these black beads for $190.00 in InStyle. I do think that long black beads are an essential this year, especially with all the white and black that's on the runway for spring. But for such a simple staple, I prefer our long black beads for $14.00. That leaves me $176 to spend when I wear them out with the girls.

What's more attractive than a well dressed woman? A smart one. Turns out, you can be both!

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at

© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Bangles, Bangles, and more Bangles or here doggie, doggie

If I am known for one thing it is my gold bangle bracelets. I never take them off and wear 5 of them at all times. I always get compliments on them and they are an easy accessory that dresses up the most drab and comfortable outfit (even pajamas).

My nephew once commented that he always knew where I was in the house because he could hear my bracelets jangling like a dog with its tags attached to its collar! I suppose that was an indirect compliment!!!???

Gold or silver bangle bracelets are a classic accessory. You can wear one or ten and you can wear them with other bracelets.

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at
© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jeff's Wine and Jewelry Pairings

Poor Dad/Husband lives completely surrounded by fashion loving girly girls! He's a good sport, though, so we thought we'd give him his own blog segment. We love wine, and no one knows more about good wine than he does, so without further ado, we bring you:

The traditional and most obvious wine and jewelry pairing is, as we all know, Sparklers and Sparklers – sparkling rings and sparkling wine.

I remember seeing a friend’s wife who had some serious real jewelry one-upped by Toni wearing a Cubic Zirconia sparkler that looked every bit as delightful on Toni’s hand as the oversized real thing on our friend’s hand. They were both beautiful rings and attracted everyone’s eye to the dazzling display of opulence or, in our case, faux opulence.

So, if we are going to pair a sparkling wine with sparkling jewelry like: a black pearl necklace with matching pearls, we need to find a sparkling wine worthy of the jewelry and tasting expensive, but not. My first choice in this category is the Roederer Estate NV about $20, a deal at twice the price. Or, for half of that price, you can get a delightful sparkler in Domain Ste. Michelle Blanc de Blanc NV about $8. Ashley recommends wearing something classy and sparkly with either of those champagnes.

Buying great wine at a great price is sort of like Ashley’s Big Secret. If you are smart about what you buy, you can get great things at great prices. Let everyone else pay high prices. You are too smart for that.

Let’s try another pairing.

This time what wine goes with pearls?

Naturally, you were going to say, Sauvignon Blanc is perfect with pearls.

Pearls look especially fetching while holding a glass of white wine and shout for white wine that is sophisticated, but easy to like. Voila, Sauvignon Blanc from California or New Zealand. Neither the pearls nor the wine need be overly expensive. Ashley suggests these pearls and I suggest either the Canyon Road Sauvignon Blanc at about $7 (WOW, what a deal) or the Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from down under at $12.

In both wine and jewelry, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have beautiful things, you just have to know what you are doing or have a friend, like Ashley, who does.
For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at
© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Mission: Organization!

Somehow, and I am not saying I had anything to do with it, but somehow my closet exploded, throwing clothes everywhere. I don't think it happened all at once, but gradually clothes began to spill out onto the bed, covered my chair, and even started to take over night stands. No surface of my bedroom was left untouched- simply put, my closet vomited.

Today, I decided to do something primarily because I couldn't find my favorite pair of boots. So I reorganized all of my clothes, and decided that there was no proper place for my jewelry. Standard jewelry boxes don't even help with my jewelry collection... it's epic. Only Emelda Marcos could truly understand. I've been collecting jewelry for years, and since the start of Ashley's Big Secret, my collection has at least doubled. (When it comes to a piece of jewelry I really like, I have about as much will power as a crack addict.) So I decided to take all of my clothes out of my dresser drawers and make a GIANT jewelry box out of my bureau.

Six gorgeous, oversized and pain stakingly organized drawers now happily contain rings, necklaces, bracelets and every other little bauble I couldn't live without. What I'm most proud of are my ring and earring drawers, that I organized by recycling egg cartons (pictured above), so now every pair of earrings has its own little space. Mom taught me that- she's always used the egg carton trick.

It feels SO good to have everything organized in a neat and tidy way- hopefully I'll be able to keep it like that for at least a week. The best part? I rediscovered some fabulous things I haven't worn in awhile which is almost as fun as buying it the first time.

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at

© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I'm going to be a Grandma again!!!!!

Sweet dreams …..Stephanie

Our oldest son and daughter-in law gave us the news we are going to be grand-parents. They have decided not to find out the sex of the baby, but that does keep the rest of the family from predicting what the sex will be.

General folklore has been, if a pregnant women is carrying low, it’s a boy. If she is carrying hi, it’s a girl. If she is carrying all the weight out front in the shape of a basketball, then it’s probably a boy.

A 1999 study at Johns Hopkins recruited 104 pregnant women who did not know the sex of their babies. They found that the shape of the abdomen was a poor predictor of a baby’s sex. However, predictions based on dreams and feelings were more accurate than those based on the way a woman carried.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Our January Newsletter

Hello from my winter hideaway! It is freezing here!

Every winter season I grapple with how to stay warm and still look stylish- do I wear my ugly, bulky parka or that adorable overcoat I know I’m going to freeze in? I’m not one of those women who are lucky enough to look sporty and cute in North Face. I just picked up a gorgeous antique faux fur coat from a second hand store that I am so excited about… it was sooo inexpensive and sooo elegant, and we know how I adore that combination!

Here’s some style news: As always, I’ve been perusing the fashion rags, and PEARLS are the thing right now. I have always loved pearls, and am delighted that they are no longer reserved for women of a certain age. They add such a nice air of sophistication to just about anything, which I truly believe our generation needs. If I see one more Olsen twin walk out of the house in ironic hobo chic, I’m just going to scream! Funky pearls, classy pearls, colored pearls… they are all totally in right now. Check out our green pearl bracelet for $10.00 or my signature pearls for $24.00!

Big, glam bracelets are also hot at the moment… anything that sparkles. As far as I’m concerned, anything to shake the winter blues is perfect! Check out some pearls and sparkly bracelets on the site…

Random fashion factoid: ‘a la mode’, as in ‘ice cream on my pie’, comes from the French ‘a la mode’, which means, ‘in style’.

Just remember: you don’t have to spend a lot to look like a million bucks.



For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at

© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Friday, January 19, 2007

playboy evolution made by photoshop

This really makes you think! I don't know whether to be relieved to know that no one really looks that good, or to make photoshop my new best friend!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ug... Moving Day

Whew! I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off! This week I moved the rest of my things from Chicago to Wisconsin. I had terrific help from friends, Mom, Dad and 'lil Bro, but boy, it was still quite a chore.

Several moving revelations:

1) I've often heard people tell a story about heirlooms that goes something like this, "My grandmother carried this over from the old country in her purse... and now it's one of my most cherished possessions". I think I now know how those stories started. I had just finished packing up all of my boxes, which included A LOT of china. I have luncheon china, dinner china, sushi china... you name it, I've got a 12 piece set for it. Roughly a minute and a half after sealing the last box, I came across one last, lonely teacup. It is pretty and delicate, so I couldn't leave it or throw it away... but other than its untimely reappearance, it probably doesn't deserve to be hand carried anywhere. Even still, I literally had to take it in my purse. One day, I'm sure, one of my grand children will hold up my lonely teacup, and say, "My grandmother carried this over in her purse."

2) It helps to have a sense of humor. Luckily, we had it in spades! My movers were awesome, but most importantly, they came with a moving truck with a graffiti Stewie from The Family Guy emblazoned on the side. Awesome. You can't buy that kind of consideration!

3) While I usually have a few pieces of jewelry on at all times, moving day is not one of those times where its necessary to look cute and classy at all times. I made the executive decision to remove my signature pearls and my big rings. It felt really weird, I admit, but lets face it- jewelry get in the way of trying to move a nine foot couch. Don't worry, it's all back on now!

Well, I'm exhausted... but so glad it's over!!!

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at

© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


PROCRASTINATION….to defer, delay, linger, neglect, dilly-dally

A recent survey has come out indicating that most of us procrastinate. Is that news to you? Did you need someone to tell YOU that you still have not started that exercise program that was #1 on your New Year’s Resolution List, lost a pound a week, cleaned out the refrigerator from the holidays, or best yet cleaned your oven. How about cleaning the closets, cars, garages, bathrooms, etc, etc, etc.

Now what if your list included…go shoe shopping, out to lunch with your best friend, attend a cocktail party, get a manicure & pedicure, have a massage, buy a new purse, plan a vacation to an island, visit a friend you have not seen in months, go dress shopping, get a new hairstyle, buy a fur coat and hat, buy a new diamond ring and necklace…why not include the matching bracelet.

Well, now you tell me what list you would choose…Would you then be procrastinating? If someone would invent a way to make LIST #1 fun, appealing, easy, & exciting….the word procrastination would become extinct.

By the way, the group doing the study took 10 years to publish the results when it was supposed to be done in 5years!

Have a fun day!

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Crossing Film

This is really incredible- this guy did this without using special effects or a green screen. What a talent!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

What a wonderful Sunday!

I had such a lovely day today- it has put me in a brilliant mood, and I feel totally refreshed for the week ahead. I drove into the city today for brunch with my best friend, Sarah- brunch on Sunday was a longstanding tradition while I lived in the city, and it was so wonderful to get back to it. We went to our favorite diner, so there was lots of quality 'people watching'- I even ran into an old co-worker of mine! As he was passing by the window, we waived him in so we got to catch up with him a little bit, too. After brunch, I got a call from J. Michael, who had just finished up an audition, so he came over and we got to gab with him for awhile. Then a few friends called to invite me to watch the Bears game, and my oldest friend in the world Kyle, had a chili party! Whew! It was lovely to see and hear from all those old friends today but I am beat and happy to be home....

By the way, that is a vest I'm wearing in that picture, but I promise you it's cute and hip, and not at all 1993. :-)

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Have your cake and eat it, too!

I was reading an article in the paper regarding image consultants, who by the way were men. Does that seem as bizarre to you as it does to me? I certainly would not want my husband to consult me on my wardrobe, but that is an entirely different subject, so I will not go there. But I will add that he is the one who bought me camouflage for Christmas. At any rate, the article went on to say that “cake is the foundation of your wardrobe…..yum yum…now my husband would certainly like that! And that the frosting for the cake are accessories…”frosting pieces are items that are trendy and look fabulous, too much cake is boring” WOW!

Guess I will now get dressed for the day….how does chocolate cake and white frosting sound to you? Or white cake with pink frosting?….Um….I think I will ask my husband which he prefers. Have a fun day!

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at
© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Products are Online Now!

Oh my goodness- we had such a wonderful time on our buying trip! We have been super busy getting everything ready to go online and now we're basically done. The new products are just gorgeous, and we couldn't resist taking a few for ourselves!

Sometimes, I'm like a little kid in a candy store when it comes to this stuff- I just get so excited about fun and sparkly jewelry. We personally select every item in the store, which can be really hard work. We're very picky about what we choose, and sometimes searching for just the right style of dangly black earrings, for example, is tough- especially when we're staring at hundreds of black dangly earrings!

I did get to take some time out for my best friend Sarah, who's a style maven, herself. We gabbed and gossiped for hours, then did some people watching at our favorite diner. You just haven't lived until you've pointed out a woman wearing skin tight gold lamé stretch pants while eating greasy food. It just doesn't get any better than that!

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

A little dab will do ya….

After dressing for an evening out and looking in the mirror, making sure I have the look I want, I add my perfume. I always dab a small amount on each side of my nose, so when I greet our male and female friends with our standard hug and peck on each cheek they inhale my scent. It is a beautiful way to begin an evening.

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at

© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Feliz 2007 DoubleYou

Live action internet is more amusing that I would have thought.... I love the guy in charge of scrolling!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Buying Trip... WAHOO!

We are off on a buying trip... and we are so excited! Professional shopping is by far our favorite part of being Secret Keepers!

Thanks for all the tips you have given us about what you want to see at Ashley's Big Secret! We will have your suggestions in mind as we pick out the new merchandise.

I also want to thank a very special friend of mine, J. Michael Haas, who helped us with a new banner. Don't you just love it?

For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at

© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Success and Beauty

“Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success” Christopher Lasch’s quote.
I have often thought the most elegant look was a long mink coat worn over jeans.
The coat dresses up a rather ordinary and everyday outfit, but certainly makes the woman wearing it stand out from others.

You do not need a fur coat to look or feel beautiful. However, you can dress up an ordinary outfit with beautiful accessories. It takes seconds to add, costs much less and can make all the difference on how you feel and how you look to others. Also, by adding different accessories to the same outfit will appear to others as a new ensemble!
For fabulous accessories, visit Please feel free to comment here, or give us a shout out at

© Copyright 2007. Ashley’s Big Secret, Inc.

Friday, January 5, 2007

So busy!

I have been super busy lately getting orders out, working on the website, and looking for new products for the store that I have barely had time to blink!

We have received such wonderful support from our customers lately, which is exactly what makes this so much fun for us.

Judy from Austin wrote, "Your selection is fabulous and the prices are too (including your shipping rate which is VERY reasonable)!! I can't wait to get my order and share Ashley's Big Secret with all my friends~"

The picture is of Jo Anne, one of Mom's overnight guests- they decided to have a little party trying on jewelry, and they had such fun that Jo Anne even decided to take a few pieces home! She picked absolutely beautiful items- She looked gorgeous and glamorous in them!

I want to thank everyone who has given us love and support these last few weeks... thanks for making not such a secret anymore!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Tips from Toni

New Years Resolution 2007….waist or waste

After the holidays most of us ladies decide we need to lose those ugly and most unwanted pounds we had so much fun acquiring. Along with getting back to your “normal” weight try adding to your jewelry collection a huge semi precious CZ ring. Adding a 5carat ring to your collection will make you feel sexy and beautiful and the “weight” is not added to those pounds already accumulated during the holiday season.

Just remember while you are dieting this month to think when you want another bite of food….waste or waist!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Oh, What a Night!

I had such a magnificent time on New Year's Eve! I ended up having some seriously amazing people at my house including handsome Phil, pictured here. If you can consider men an accessory (and I fully believe you can), Phil is the equivalent of Kissaka Pearls! He is fun, classy and gorgeous! I served Roquefort infused steak with a port wine reduction that was unbelievable, and wore the big purple rectangle ring that got tons of compliments! Because I believe in lots of sparkle, I also wore a sparkle sparkle ring that got so much attention it was practically another dinner guest.

It was fabulous to see old friends, make some new ones and party til dawn! Here's hoping 2007 is the best year yet~ Happy New Year, everybody!