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Authored by Dallas-based luxury lifestyle blogger Franki Durbin. Celebrating the very best life has to offer.

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July 30, 2014

Escapist...

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Some days you just need to pretend you're someplace else... right? When I think of exotic locales where I can do some reflection, few places come to mind like India. This is a region of the world which is untapped for me. We've never been to this great land and I can barely wait to visit. It strikes me as a culture steeped in rich history, vibrant color and honored tradition. My mind can only begin to imagine the fragrant markets, the busy streets and the overwhelming sights.

I hope this post offers you a minor mental vacation today. Most people I've spoken to certainly feel they need a moment to escape the mid-week madness. Enjoy what remains of your Wednesday and don't - even for a moment - wish your moments away. Now is the only moment that really matters... so squeeze the most out of it. Be present. Be aware. Be fully alive. 

{images via}

July 25, 2014

Flipside...

Hair
Choes
Choes
Choes
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Choes

Ahhh, perspective. It is a wonderful thing, no? Last night I received a thought provoking email that took my present closet edit to the next level - or perhaps even a few levels beyond. My focus this time has been on what to purge. The thoughtful email from a reader/friend suggested that perhaps I view the challenge from the other side of the hanger (so to speak). What if I asked myself, "What few spectacular items should I actually keep?"

Some of you are having a eureka moment, others of you may have read those sentences unfazed. Let me put this into more concrete terms. Up until now I've been carefully selecting 30-40 items to purge, sell or donate. What if... what if I were only allowing myself to KEEP 30-40 pieces of clothing. What gems would those be? How many pieces in my closet do I absolutely adore? Which dresses make me feel like Sophia Vergera (or Sophia Loren, while we're at it)? Which jackets make me feel unstoppable? Which pants to my yoga booty justice? Are any of these blouses really worth the wooden hanger they rest upon? Or perhaps the ultimate question: if I were shopping today, would I purchase this item. Ouch. Yes, that last one stings. It is actually my favorite question to ask when I evaluate each item. 

Positioned this way, I become a much more harsh critic on my sartorial acquisitions. Each piece is cast in an entirely new light and I ask myself, is it hanger worthy? Few things will make the cut, I assure you. This is actually quite liberating. Especially if I can unload them in a more high-end fashion via Vaunte and The Real Real, I feel I might actually end up with a bit of pocket change when all is said and done.

What if we only allowed excellence into our lives and our closets? How different would our existence and our wardrobes be? It should be noted that I already do this with bags. There are no extras in my handbag collection. The only items I have are those that I adore. No so-so bags filling space allowed. 

The same is absolutely true in terms of my furniture and home decor. I would never, ever acquire or hold on to something I didn't absolutely love. In fact I go out of my way to eliminate anything in my visual life that I am not absolutely enamored with. There are no "so so" chairs. There are no mediocre sofas. I do not take in pieces that I don't absolutely love. In fact, I've been known to stubbornly do without key furnishings until I find EXACTLY what I want.

Being in the business I'm in I have most things custom made. They are, therefore, the result of month's long consideration and planning. Each piece is the result of specifying to the letter how each chair or sofa should be created. I obsess over tiny details no one will notice. I fondle a fabric for months next to dozens of others and carefully weigh pros and cons of this versus that and how it reads in a variety of lights and conditions. I put each piece of furniture through the paces before ever placing an order. In the end, I go with what makes my knees weak and my heart flutter. 

So why would anyone allow mediocrity in the closet? There are many, many reasons. Few of us apply such a judicious and careful approach to wardrobe building. Commitment and cost differentials play a major role, of course. A sofa costs thousands of dollars and is a longer term investment. It also isn't an impulse purchase. Our apparel should also be considered in such a careful way - especially since it represents us to the world at large. 

Yet it's more complex than that, isn't it? We make excuses. "It's summer now. I'll wear it again when it's cold." Will you? I believe lifestyle and lifestage play a key role. I'm self employed. I no longer need clothing for an office. Perhaps I obtained too many boho items before and now I'm back to my preppy classic roots. Regardless, it is time to trim the fat once and for all and leave only space for that which is awesome. 

One quick look at my "sell" pile confirms what I've always known: items purchased on sale or at major chain stores are the very first to go. They hold little or no long term value (emotional or otherwise) for my wardrobe. Moving forward I want very, very few pieces. Yet the standards for those few pieces will be exceptionally high.

And so... off I go to dive in and free myself of clothing that isn't everything I hoped it would be. If you're an online shopper, feel free to look me up on  Vaunte and The Real Real and Tradesy. The Venti closet is being freed once and for all and I couldn't be more excited.

July 24, 2014

{Repost} Lashes, Liner & Skin....

Lashes

{Hi, friends! A few of you have emailed about my go-to beauty prooducts. On this topic I cerainly have opinions and experience. I'm reposting this comprehensive post from April for convenience. Apologies if you've read before, but this is loaded with so many great products it seemed worthy of sharing again for those who haven't seen it. xoxo Franki}
 
Allure comes down to a series of L words... lashes, liner, lips, locks & luminous skin. While it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of product available, a girl has to learn which product she can count on. Thankfully a willingness to experiment and a desire to try, try again has resulted in many repeat buys in my beauty cabinet. There are a number of products I consider "essentials" in my primping routine. Make no mistake, good products do matter and price often comes into play. Like all of us, I pay frequent homage to Neimans or Nordstrom for the beauty counters. Yet it might surprise you to learn that a few of my favorites are of the drugstore variety. Yes, yes... it's true! I thought I'd share a few of my high-low favorites. Perhaps you'll fall in love with them as well. Questions? Just ask! 

PREPPING THE CANVAS

These are my go-to items for adding moisture and evening out skin tone. Most of the products I use lend themselves to leaving my skin hydrated and smooth while protecting it from the elements. Kate Somerville Quench is my serum of choice. I smooth it on my face right after I shower to retain moisture & give my skin that oh-so-desirable glow. 

Next, I use a blend of Prevage Body (yes... body!) and Clarins UV Plus on my face and decolletage. In winter months I sometimes use Bliss Youth as We Know It, but for most of the year it's Prevage all the way. About that UV Plus: Never ever skip your UV coverage! This tiny little bottle is my favorite way to protect my skin from the ravages of the sun. A little bit goes a long way and it never burns or makes my eyes water. I've tried what feels like EVERY brand on the market and this is the only one I buy again and again.

Next comes the coverage. I don't wear foundation, but I swear by Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. It evens out skin tone and the shade "Nude" is essentially my skin, only better. Periodically, I've tried other products (Dior & Chanel each have super-lightweight foundations I've dabbled in) but I can't imagine using anything other than this wonder product. I've used this for about 6 or 7 years and it is essential to my "get ready & get glowing" routine. While everyone seems crazy about powder, I'm a "dewy" finish girl and this doesn't give me the dry look of foundation. Plus, it is weightless. No caked mess here. 

This seems like a lot, but remember you are using whisper thin layers of the products. And never fret, the word "moisturizer" in the Laura Mercier is a bit of a misnomer. For me, it lends very little hydration and solely offers a hint of skin tone smoothing color. 

If I'm feeling particularly dry, I'll dot on Origins Plantscription Eye at the outisde corners of my eye area. However, I'm beginning to think this should be done without fail daily. Prevention is the best cure!

{Savvy tip: Nordstrom exclusively carries a larger size of both the Clarins UV Plus and Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. For this reason I am very loyal to my local beauty counter. These larger items are not always visible online, but are so worth a few extra dollars for almost double the product.}

CREATING THE MASTERPIECE

Now on to the color! First step: The YSL concealer pen. Another MUST! Love it, love it, love it. A dot at the inner eye, a dot at the outer eye and then I look for any other tiny places that need a bit of a boost. Some days require a LOT more than others, but this super sheer product never looks visible to others. It is 8 hours of sleep in a little gold pen. Helloooooo, awesome! 

Next up, my BFF: NARS blush in Orgasm. Don't bother with any other brand or color. This one is "the" shade for all of us. Add to apples of your cheeks and move on. 

Next... eyes! I love my YSL palette #19. It is neutral but feminine. I use YSL waterproof black liner daily for that sexy winged look. It does not move! Tip: Sharpen it daily for best results. Finish with Loreal Voluminous Mascara in black (of, course) for a look worthy of a photo shoot. Swipe some Tom Ford gloss in Pink Sugar across your lips and you're all set for the day.

The look is "made up" but not heavy. My emphasis is always on glowing skin, glossy lips and lined eyes. It is classic and chic without looking caked or heavy. You look positively radiant.

Face 

BEHIND THE SCENES BEAUTY

Of course there are other characters in the cast that work behind the scenes to keep my skin glowing. If you're not on board yet with Clairsonic, you should be. Cleaning that debris from your pores and keeping the skin safely exfoliated is the first step in any good beauty routine. I am always looking for safe, gentle ways to exfoliate without overstressing the skin.

My trusty pink Clairsonic does the job beautifully! Weekly, however, I love to step it up with a Kate Somerville combo: Exfolikate (an enzyme based product) and Kate Clinic-to-Go pads. This two step process leaves my skin smooth as "buttah" and ready for any topical products to sink in and do their job.

What, you ask, do I apply? The ladies at Neiman Marcus call it "Cinderella Cream" and I have to agree. Omorovicza's Plumping Cream is very pricey, but worth investing in and using judiciously. I am able to extend the use of my jar to about 8-12 months depending upon how sparingly I apply it. It is a weekly treatment (or so they say), but I've had months where I lived in it! 

Whether you're battling bumps or crinkles, ROC retinol is gentle enough and one of the most effective (and least expensive) cure there is available. I really ought to use it more religiously, but I tend to forget this wonder product. I'm sure there will come a day when I'm more committed to my anti-aging routine. When I am... these little tubes will be stockpiled! Tools


So there you have it... these are the bulk of my secret beauty weapons. I love, love, love to talk about beauty products and techniques... so if you have questions about any of these products or my methods, please ask. I mean it when I tell you I've tried brands - both high and low. In the end I've arrived at what works for me today. What about you? What do you use? Do any of these appear in your makeup drawer? I'd love to hear it!

July 22, 2014

Blown Away...

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You know by now I'm a Drybar fan. What girl doesn't LOVE a good blowout and watching chick flicks while flipping through magazines? Hello? It's heaven on earth. Most of the time. 

What do I mean? Well, like Kimye, I travel with an entourage. Only my companions are of the "mommy, can you help me?" variety, not the Bentley key toting kind. When it was announced that Blownaway was launching in Dallas I knew my lucky day had arrived. Now the glam squad comes to my door and primps and preps me for anything the social schedule may contain - all for the same great pricing as Drybar. Hello, answer to secret prayer!

With a variety of style options like The Dallas, Nightclub, First Date and Greek Goddess there is hairstyle in the lookbook for every girl. The team is coming here next week to transform my golden locks into something far more fabulous. We cannot wait to share the pix with all of you. (Hint: I'm choosing The Dallas from their menu of styles.)

Hair aside, they also do makeup. This is surely making my fellow Dallasites squeal with delight, as there are few things we love more than a good blowout and a freshly made face. Aside from Chanel flaps and bright dress, good hair is almost a state requirement. It might be a Dallas thing, but Blownaway clearly understands the needs of local Southern Belles and busy socialites.

While there are perks to going out to have your hair done, lately I've been "in-sourcing" every service possible. For the modern girl, concierge beauty services are less about luxury and more about practicality. Now that my youngest is two I find it more and more difficult to carve out time to spend hours at the salon. An at-home professional blowout for $55 is pure heaven.

Ready to be blown away yourself? Download the app and join the mailing list for $10 off your first blowout. And stay tuned... my 'do will be on display in the next week or so for all to see. I'm eager to share the experience with all of you!

July 21, 2014

Crush-worthy: Oomph's Gossip Chair...

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My interior designer friends will recognize the brand instantly, but some of you may not be familiar with the awesomeness that is Oomph. As the name implies, these playfully sophisticated home furnishings and accessories add just the right "oomph" to your space. Known for colorful lacquered lighting, cool console tables and plenty of other amazing home interior pieces, this brand is stepping even deeper into your home with an even more extensive array of cheerful options. Most notably, the upholstery collection has grown impressively.

Witness this amazing gossip chair. Hello, posh seating! I can think of so many uses for this versatile piece: hallways, foyers, living rooms, offices... the list goes on. Me being a nursery obsessed girl, I can't think of a cuter upholstered piece to add to a playroom or baby's room. Visiting grandparents and friends can sit and coo over your beautiful bambino as you relax on the other side. As your children grow they will enjoy the chair themselves for reading books and telling stories (or in the case of mine, giggling up a storm!). I love, love, love this piece aptly named the Siamese Chair. See it here in all its customizable glory

Chances...

Chances

This!

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It's In the Bag...

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What exactly do I love to toss into my handbag? It varies. My trusty Macbook Air, perfume, an extra pair of shoes (sometimes) and a few standout accessories are my feminine weapons of choice. A worry-free zippered tote conceals my "quick change artist" accessories and places those essentials at my fingertips.

Impromptu lunch? Not to worry, I'm all set with a spritz of fragrance and a few more bracelets added to my wrist. Makeup need a touchup? Lip gloss is really all you need to freshen the face. I don't carry much, but I like to have a few options. 

Water bottles are a no-no when it comes to handbags as there will inevitably be a spill (not to mention the drag on your shoulders). The same is true of push-top pens. If it doesn't have a tightly closed cap it is not going anywhere near possessions. Frankly, I'm not keen on ink or even certain lip gloss containers in my bag. The more secure those liquids can be stored, the better. Especially in the heat of Texas summer, I try to avoid fashion accidents by preventing them in the first place. 

Since we're talking essentials (as well as contraband), I take at least one emergency protein bar everywhere. My favorites at the moment are these. If you're into paleo or crossfit (and chocolate) you'll love them too. Since I'm likely to have my little ones with me, any opportunity to prevent my own mid-outing food crisis is key. 

I should note that I treat most of my bags as though they are on the endangered species list. My high-end designer bags are fiercely protected and typically not considered "run around" handbags. When I find a glam zippered tote that I'm comfortable using each day, I snap it up. They do not replace my designer bags, but they give me comfort by preventing me from worrying about my investment bags as I run about with my daughters. 

Lunch with girlfriends or a client meeting? All bets are off. That's when the big guns come out to play. But for outings with my precious mini-me's I almost always reach for a smart zip top tote that is pretty and drama-free. After all, my precious cargo in the back seat deserves my attention more so than my delicate quilted or studded bags.

I do admit to often keeping a luxurious clutch inside the tote. This gives me maximum fashion versatility and makes transitioning to lunch at Highland Park Village or a visit to Neimans a snap. 

What about you? What's in your bag on a daily basis? Do you fiercely protect your high-end handbags in the same fashion I do? Or do you have a more relaxed approach to glamour? Are you an on-the-go Whodini with a bevy of accessories at your disposal, or are you committed to your look (and your bag) once you're out the door?


SHOP THE LOOK
Shoes: similar here & here // Chanel Glossimer & Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Bonbon // Coco Mademoiselle Perfume // Olivia + Joy Lileth Satchel // Bracelets: similar here & here & here // earrings: my favorite hoops // MacBook Air  // my favorite pink leather bound notebook // Paleolife Bars

{image credits: photography by Franki Durbin}

July 20, 2014

Lazy Sunday (a quick how-to)...

Tea

Fuzzy
Peonies

If anyone needs to heed this advice, it's moi. But I assure you today will indeed be a restorative Sunday. My plans? Not much! Fresh flowers are a must, cuddle time with my girls is necessary and a fresh mani/pedi will indeed make me feel whole again.

To make the week ahead more productive, I do have some tidying up to do (if you're following me on instagram you know by now I have a major closet clean-out in the works). So wrapping up a few related details is on the list as well. But by and large today is all about relaxing, making moments count and not holding my iphone in my hands. 

How do you relax, friends? Is Sunday a big day out or a chill day for you? 

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July 19, 2014

Just a Hint: Barely There for Maximum Impact...

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Don't you just love falling in love with something new? I recently added this incredible little Olivia + Joy flap bag to my personal collection and I can't stop fawning over it. It's part clutch, part shoulder bag, part hand carry flap and I just can't stop gushing over its incredible versatility and innate beauty.

Did I mention it is butter soft and has hidden pockets galore and boasts two pretty gold chain handles? Do you have pretty (and super functional) items like this in your closet that you simply adore? I know you do, so I know you completely "get" my obsession with my new acquisition. 

The shiny gold hardware and sophisticated blush pink faux leather make this my new favorite summer accessory. Magically it coordinates perfectly with my favorite patent wedges. For night I add sparkle to the look, but for day I get more casual and rock it with my favorite hoops.

Ready for the best part? She's only $58. Yes, you read that right. How's that for high-low style with maximum impact? Let's call this a Venti essential, girls. 

SHOP THE LOOK
Shoes: similar here and here // Clutch: Olivia + Joy Lillie Small Shoulder  // Necklace: similar here and here

{image credits: photographed by Franki Durbin}

July 18, 2014

Lost & Found + Anthropologie = Rough Luxe

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What happens when a globetrotting trendsetter suddenly hits it big time? She and Anthropologie team up to curate an intimate collection of organic luxe items for the home. Think: artisinal dinnerware and hand-dyed indigo coverlets. This collaboration between Jamie Rosenthal of Lost & Found and indie-store-gone-global Anthropologie delivers everything a wanderlusting entertainer could wish for: handmade goods with a story behind them.

If there's one thing I've learned about tabletop design it's that the organic elements instantly add warmth and vitality to the room. You can add all the gilt candleholders you like, but it will be the rough hewn burlap runner than beckons guests to sit down and spend the evening at the table. Jamie's collection features special pieces with character and personality that will have you and your dinner guests ready to linger for hours by candlelight long after the dessert forks have been laid to rest. Each globally sourced or acquired piece is a conversation starter all its own.

Shop the full collection here.

MORE GREAT FINDS FROM THE COLLECTION 

Wrap Stars...

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I've professed my love of the black jumpsuit to you before. The wardrobe secret I've not disclosed is my passionate love of scarves and stoles. Almost weightless, these colorful silk creations are fashionable workhorses that can transform even the most humble of outfits into a stunning look. Plain tee, skinny jeans? Twist it, tie it, knot it, fold it... a simple scarf can make you a street style superstar.

While options abound, I do prefer lightweight silk versions adorned in colorful abstract prints. To me they are more feminine and lend themselves to a variety of outfit combinations. This post will demonstrate that these closet Whodinis are true fashion original mix masters, ready to change your look in an instant.

Today's post showcases an outfit based upon a simple black strapless jumpsuit. With a few quick items I transform this basic black one-piece wonder into a stellar outfit using only accessories. I've created one look for day that's fresh and fun with a burst of cheerful color. The look for night is definitely VIP section ready, with sexier accents and plenty of after-dark attitude. To anchor each look, I've selected two long rectangular stoles from Floramirris. This exercise will give you a sense of how these featherweight creations can completely set the tone for your look - day or night. Ready to learn how? Let's begin: 

Daytime_chic
Our daytime look features oodles of gold and very classic accessories. A versatile tote, platform wedges and oversized sunglasses turn the black jumpsuit into a festive daytime affair. The stole? tie it to the bag for a burst of color or... I love the idea of wearing it around your hair like a modern day Brigitte Bardot. Of course, there are myriad ways to wear this chiffon creation around your neck (as I'll show you below), so don't hesitate to inject a beautiful burst of color to frame your face (hint: it will also protect your neck from harsh mid-day sun).

SHOP THE LOOK

Thakoon Addition Black Strapless Jumpsuit (and super on sale here) + (or try this Super Budget Friendly Jumpsuit) // Tom Ford Miranda Open-Frame Sunglasses //  Floramirris Lilly Butterflies Silk Stole // Endless Oversized Hoop Earrings // Jimmy Choo Pela Cork Wedge // Emmy Crossbody Tote

Nighttime
For nighttime I like to switch it up a bit. I'm loving this option with rose, pink and raspberry blended together into a fanciful romantic stole. Wrap it once around the neck and let the ends hang free for movement and added focus to your beautiful face. To me, the free ends work in much the way a long necklace would, emphasizing a vertical line on your body and lengthening your silhouette. Pair the same jumpsuit with a chic statement clutch, strappy high heels and gorgeous earrings. Boom! You're a sartorial sensation.

SHOP THE LOOK

Thakoon Addition Black Strapless Jumpsuit (and super on sale here) + (or try this Super Budget Friendly Jumpsuit) //  Harlot & Bones Earrings // Floramirris Peony Wings Silk Stole // Jimmy Choo Lottie Sandal // YSL Cassandre Clutch

If you feel you need a primer in how to style these silky beauties, look no further than this incredibly helpful video (or the original one here without how-to tips). I assure you, within minutes you'll consider yourself a total wrap star.

July 17, 2014

Blanco...

Whites
Pulling off an all-white look for summer isn't as dull and drab as it sounds. Quite the contrary. I find that head to toe blanco is a bold statement of quiet sophistication. My one exception to the rule is adding a statement clutch. Next to a solid base, a spotted hair-on-hide clutch is just the thing you need to take a look from drab to fab.

Why do I love this look? It takes you from dawn to dusk without ever looking out of place. Poolside, terrace, boutique, living room - the single color statement is at home anywhere and everywhere. The only question you need ask yourself is where you want your day to take you.

SHOP THE LOOK

Crochet Shorts // Statement Earrings in White Pearl // Cotton Blouse // Haircalf Foldover Clutch // Burberry Espadrilles

Barbara's Beauty...

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Oh, how I love Classicism in my outdoor spaces, and no one does it quite like Barbara Barry. Boxwoods, planters, wrought iron furniture and blooming flowers conspire to create pretty patios and formal gardens that are dreamy and inviting. True, a home in Montecito or Corona del Mar would help to facilitate this lush green fantasy of mine. In lieu of that geographic option, I've found a few weather-worthy elements you can add to your patio to help you bring a bit of Barbara (and Southern California) to your own backyard. 

Warning: they are ALL on sale right now at Horchow at extremely good prices. Don't say I didn't warn you! ;) 

SHOP THE LOOK

Wall Medallion Set // Round Dining Table // Wall Fountain // Oversized Planters // Tufted Stool // Ornate Garden Stool

July 16, 2014

Iconic Voyages: La Mamounia, Marrakesh...

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These days when I think of "getting away" I'm most certainly focused on going far, far, far away. Perhaps it's too much of the familiar or too many long summer days. My soul is craving exotic locales and strange lands.

Yesterday's interview with Alexandra Foster stirred up thoughts of Morocco and the infamous La Mamounia hotel in Marrakech. If ever a property called for jeweled sandals, flowing dresses and darker eyeliner, this surely is the one.

Most only dream of experiencing Arabian nights, but I cannot wait to experience the intoxicating grounds myself. From the moment you are greeted at the handcarved doors to the second you slip into the cobalt tiled pool, La Mamounia beckons with exotic charms and mysterious seduction.

Now... onto the business of what to wear to dinner under the stars in the open air garden. With neat rows of swaying palms, a warm breeze and the faint sounds of Moroccan life all around, you'll love a look that is bold and sexy while still harboring plenty of mystery.

I found this incredible Norma Kamali gown (below), which I think would be perfect for drinks on the terrace & a dinner date. Add shimmering shadow on the eyes (Tom Ford does it best), spectacular shoes and a standout bangle (in gold, no less!) and you're out the door for dinner. Don't forget the eyeliner for added glam. Below I'm showing you these beautiful elements and my recipe for adding exotic charm to your getaway suitcase. 

Discover more of what awaits at La Mamounia and surrounding Morocco so you can plan your next far flung getaway. Happy traveling! 

Exotic
SHOP THE LOOK
Norma Kamali Floor-sweeping gown // Rene Caovilla crystal jeweled sandals // Kendra Scott Ivy Fringe bracelet // Tom Ford Seductive Rose Eye Quad // YSL Waterproof Gold Eyeliner

July 15, 2014

Blushing...

Blushing
I'm so grateful that the "blush" trend shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. There are so many incredible pieces available in this barely there hue that I can hardly contain myself. Fabulous bags, pretty undergarments and 2014's must-have shoes.

While I could wax on for hours showing you my favorites, I've whittled it down to four precious things in this delicate shade that lives somewhere between pink and nude. I hope that it inspires you to be fearlessly feminine.

SHOP THE POST

Simone Perele Andora Seamless Briefs // Valentino Studded "Poudre" Pumps // Chloe Satchel in Anemone Pink // Ferragamo Bow Clip Clutch Wallet

Anything...

Word

 

 

The Globetrotting Series: An Interview with Alexandra D. Foster...

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The only investment in yourself that I believe genuinely rewards & repays you tenfold (aside from striving to improve your health) is world travel. As you know, I suffer greatly from wanderlust and find great pleasure in travel. I also indulge in sharing my own tales and learning about travel adventures of others.

Today's in-depth interview is with the lovely Alexandra D. Foster. This passionate creative force thrives under the belief that everyone should live life beautifully.  How do you not love her already? Her professional path has taken her from Boston to Bloomingdales and ultimately on to London where she successfully launched a brand new range of furnishing fabrics for quintessential British brand Liberty.

As a globetrotter, home accessory designer and blogger extraordinaire I knew Alexandra would be the perfect fit for The Globetrotting Series we're launching here on Life in a Venti Cup. Throughout this series we will dive into the experiences of those who see continent-hopping as their God given purpose on this adorable blue marble of ours. Alexandra is such a person, and therefore having her kickoff the series is quite apropos.  

Readers of Destinations Perfected are familiar with Alexandra's passion for seeing the world and savoring every far flung experience. Now it's time to familiarize yourself with her stunning silk pillow collection inspired by some of her favorite destinations.
Pic 1 - St. Tropez
A quiet spot in sexy St. Tropez

Pic 1 - St. Tropez
Enchantment awaits at exotic La Mamounia

Pic 3 - Goyard luggage
The luckiest Goyard bag in the world

Pic 3 - Goyard luggage
A phenomenal suite at La Minervetta with panoramic views of Mt. Vesuvius

Without further ado, let's dig in to her well-traveled journey and learn some of her favorite global hot spots and her best kept secrets for looking refreshed after a red-eye flight:

How many continents have you visited? 
Four down, three to go.
 
 
When did you know you were hooked on travel? 
The very first time I went abroad as a young teenager with my best friend’s family to their home in Ireland, I was hooked on travel. It seemed like such an adventure crossing the Atlantic and not being with my own parents, with whom I always traveled. That first trip opened my eyes to how much travel changes and challenges you. I ended up studying for three semesters abroad in college (London, Rome, Padova) after that.
  
 
Are you an on-the-fly adventurer or do you map out your full itinerary ahead of time? Why?  
Both actually. If I am going to a place I have never been, I usually do a lot of research beforehand so that I can maximize my time there and make sure to hit all the hot spots. As a travel blogger, I feel it is my duty to report back to my readers on the best of the best that each location offers. However, this past January, I did actually touch down in London from Los Angeles (with a one day stopover at home in Boston), threw all my bathing suits out of my suitcase and re-packed all my heaviest winter clothes for a last minute trip the next day to my friend’s ski chalet in Megeve (French Alps). The four time zones in 96 hours made for some interesting jet lag!  
 
Best repeat performance: what spot do you visit again & again?  
Italy. I’ve lost track of how many times I have been, but it must be well over 30 times now. The food, fashion, art, culture, people watching, and stunning natural beauty are really unparalleled. I’ve also been going to St. Tropez in the south of France every summer for the past ten years. I’m a big fan of their local rosé wine and stunning sunsets.  
 
Okay...tell us about the best trip you've ever taken... 
I was just blown away by Marrakech. I stayed at La Mamounia and the Royal Mansour and honestly received celebrity status treatment at both properties. Even Yannick Alleno, the three Michelin star chef from Le Meurice in Paris, was on hand to cook me my own special meal at the restaurant at the Royal Mansour. From a design perspective, the level of detail, colors, patterns, craftsmanship, fabrics, furniture, marble, lighting, embroideries, traditional cedar wood, sculptured plasterwork, and carved ceilings are almost unfathomable. You could sit in one single room at either of these hotels for hours and still not be able to absorb everything around you. Meanwhile, the city of Marrakech itself engages absolutely all of your senses. 
 
Do you seek out luxury or do you consider yourself a budget traveler?  
During college I definitely put in my time traveling Europe with a backpack and bouncing from hostel to hostel (oh the stories!). Now I definitely seek out the more luxurious properties. That being said, I always book my flights and high-end hotels through discounted travel websites. I don’t believe in paying rack rate anywhere!
 

What personal travel indulgence do you consider an absolute necessity? 
An excellent piece of luggage that will last you for years. My biggest indulgence is my orange Goyard Boeing carryon with hand-painted initials. It is the perfect size for a weekend away and fits in any overhead compartment.  
 
Most memorable hotel room… 
The corner room perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean and Mt. Vesuvius at Maison La Minervetta in Sorrento, Italy. All the walls facing the ocean are windows, so you feel like you are on a ship at sea. If you open the windows before you go to bed you can be lulled to sleep and woken up by the sound of waves lapping below. 
 
Craziest travel tale…  
I took a picture of a snake charmer in the Medina in Marrakech, which evidently you are supposed to give them money to do. He then proceeded to chase me halfway through the souk, threatening me by waving the snake in my face, until I deleted the picture from my camera. If you know how much I hate snakes, being chased with one was terrifying! 
 
 
Best vacation meal ever... 
The Restaurant at the Setai in South Beach, Miami. They’ve now sadly changed the concept, but at the time the menu items transported you through China, Thailand, Singapore, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. We ordered from a menu (and a kitchen) that was divided into five sections: The Wok, The Steam, The Tandoor, The Curries and The Rotisserie & Grill, each style of cookery prepared by its own individual chef. We ate Peking Duck, Dim Sum, and Indian curries with homemade naan bread, among other things, all in one sitting, finished off with a warm molten Valrhona chocolate cake. I’m still dreaming about that meal!
 
 
Most remote location you've ever visited... 
A suburb of Taichung, Taiwan. Our factories were located there when I used to create new footwear styles for PUMA. It was the first time I felt like I was really very far from home.
 
 
What destination surprised you the most & why? 
I think I was surprised by how tiny the living quarters are in cosmopolitan cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo in Asia. Given the population and the cost of living, families of four can be found living in 500 sq ft. Space is at such a premium that apartments are downright claustrophobic. 
 
 
Do tell: what's your secret to smart packing? 
Never pack anything that you are only going to wear once. Make sure you bring items of clothing that can work double duty and be worn often, either dressed up or dressed down. This will also help you lighten your load.  
 
Tell us: what do you keep in your carryon? 
My iPhone, professional Nikon camera, a book, Louis Vuitton epi leather passport wallet, water bottle, Carmex lip balm, Evian facial spray, Clarins moisturizer, and a cashmere scarf for when the plane gets chilly. 
 
Advice for others eager to dog ear their passport:  
You don’t always have to go to far-flung destinations; sometimes we overlook the beauty in our own backyards. Spend time being a tourist in your own city, or get in the car and take a long day or weekend trip to a part of your state or country you have never seen. My friends in London seem to hop on a plane almost every weekend, even though there is so much to explore right here in England. 
 
Tell me about your ultimate dream trip: 
I am working on an interior design project right now in the Seychelles, off the coast of Africa, and can’t wait to visit. Prince William and Kate Middleton spent their honeymoon there and, from everything I’ve read and researched about this archipelago in the Indian Ocean, it seems simply idyllic. 
 
 
Where are you off to next?  
During the last two weeks of August my factory closes in Italy and most people are on holiday in London/Europe, so it’s the only downtime I get all year. I’m heading to my family’s beach house in the picturesque New England seaside town of Rockport, Massachusetts. It is the perfect place to unwind and chill out. Come October I am hoping to do a tour of the Middle East. 

That concludes our interview, lovely readers! Learn more about Alexandra and her adventures via her boutique and her lovely blog. Until next time, keep those passports active and stay curious. The world is a big place and we should all strive to explore it far and wide. 

Fresh Toppings...

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Continuing my discussion of dreamy bedding. I wanted to share with you a few sales happening on top of bed treatments. You can save 20% site wide at Yves Delorme or shop this same exclusive brand online at Bloomingdales.

The collections above are all from this brand, which I discovered in my quest for top of the line, oversized duvet covers and fine sheets. Explore & enjoy!

July 14, 2014

Balancing Act...

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At some point you simply begin to take your health more seriously. Perhaps it's a health scare, but more likely you decide that feeling sluggish isn't aiding you in your quest for greatness. Periodically I realize my body isn't keeping up with my blonde ambitions. It is this awareness of self that makes me snap to it and clean up my eating habits (less coffee) and add more body movement (power yoga is my weapon of choice).

Through research and experimentation I've come to realize that it goes beyond a little kale and a lot of vinyasas. The body's pH balance is often the culprit. Or, more accurately, your constant attack on that balance. Acidic foods and stress are often to blame.

If feeling great isn't a motivator for you, perhaps vanity will convince you. An out of whack pH can lead to signs of early aging (wrinkles, anyone?) and weight gain. That's right. Dry skin isn't sexy, and either is a grumpy disposition.

Fortunately, getting your body in balance isn't actually that difficult. Here's what I recommend... a simple glass of green juice every day (I promise, it actually tastes GREAT and your body will beg you for the second glass.). This alkalizes your body and floods your system with nutrients your body has been craving. Drink plenty of clean, filtered water. Move your body daily: walking is great, yoga is exceptional, but any and all methods of raising your body temperature are good for you.

The new thing I'll be trying? Super Elixir from Elle Macpherson and Doctor Simone. It is a powdered supplement loaded with greens, antioxidants, digestive enzymes and Chinese herbs. It is going to raise your energy level and introduce key missing minerals and vitamins to your body. I read about this early today and my singular goal is to order it later this morning (no, I've not been contacted by the company or any PR firm to promote it... I simply believe this might be the missing link in my healthy living plan). It very well will be the boost I've been looking for to revitalize my energy stores and invigorate my life. You can get yours here.

So... it's not easy, but it really is simple. Move, drink, eat greens and find balance. Here are some of my tools of the trade that I use (or will be using) daily to keep this body of mine feeling great:

Balancing

1. Breville Juice Plus Fountain Elite // 2. Green "Lemonade"  (see recipe below) // 3. Super Elixir // 4. Yoga // Clean water

Venti Green Lemonade Recipe
2 Large Handfuls of organic green kale (freshly washed)
1 small "lunchbox size" Granny Smith apple
1 whole lemon (rind and all)
2 handfuls of organic baby spinach
shaved ginger to taste (go easy!)

All simply tossed into your Juice Plus Elite (my juicer of choice for its powerful motor, all-stainless construction and shockingly fast speed). Drink immediately upon making for best results. This is certainly a more tart version of the popularized green smoothie, but I'm making this as a low-glycemic way to add a hefty dose of nutrients to my diet. One glass of this a day is perfect. This recipe will make one tall drinking glass. Do not store or save, as those enzymes and nutrients are all maximally available when freshly blended. 

July 13, 2014

Preservation...

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Regular readers will know that I'm big on the care and maintenance of things acquired. I don't much see the point in owning quality pieces (be they in the dining room or the closet) without making the commitment to treat them well.

My favorite handbags are emptied, bagged and shelved after use. Shoes are returned to their shelves. Denim is placed back with the other jeans. Necklaces are hung after use. Why? I take pride in my organizational skills and my closet is a unique showcase where those OCD tendencies shine brightly. To me it only makes sense to keep my wardrobe tidy and well preserved for longevity and basic respect for the work I've put into building it.

What are my favorite tools of the trade? Matching hangers go a LONG way in bringing visual unity to the closet. Invest in good hangers and expect to order more than you might guess. Mine are wooden with grooves for dresses and blouses. Next, assign a drawer for jewelry. Unmentionables are best kept in drawers with faintly scented liners. It makes it a pleasure to get dressed. Personally, I do not like keeping shoes in bins or boxes. Leather needs to breathe. Boots are best preserved if hung, and these little devices from Organized Living do the trick for very little cash.

Lastly, for open surfaces in your dressing area I love to add pretty lidded boxes. Place trinkets and special objects in them. I have a box that holds rose petals from a bouquet my husband gave me on our first Valentine's Day. It's a small thing, but a special one. And that's the key... personalize your closet and make it uniquely yours. Create a space you love to see each day.

What are some of your favorite closet-keeping tips & tricks? 

Closet

SHOP THE POST
Walnut Wood Hangers // Boot Shapers // Jewelry Tray Organizers // Scented Drawer Liners // Lacquered Storage Boxes

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