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

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June 11, 2014

All In...

Dive

Dive right into life today, friends! Whatever it is you choose to do, decide to be "all in" with no reservations, no hesitation and no uncertainty. Honor your decisions by committing to them fully and giving them your unlimited focus. From that you will find success, satisfaction and deepened connection to life.

Happy Wednesday!

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June 10, 2014

Like a Norwegian...

I can NOT get this song out of my head. Best cruise marketing ever for my demographic. What demographic is that, you ask? Young married enough to still want to "date" my husband but balanced with the reality of having two very young (translation: high need) children. This doesn't mean I should be subjected to a "kiddie" cruise. My taste leans towards the finest of life's offerings, but I still need a family-friendly experience.

These TV spots have convinced me that I can be whisked away on a Norwegian Cruise and all of my earthy worries will be a thing of the past. I'll be sipping champagne, be romanced by my spouse and my children will have the time of their lives - all with a luxurious bent. At night we'll retreat to our suite. The advertising for this line exudes luxe with enough fun to keep it from ever feeling stuffy.

Lest you think I speak in hyperbole, I've downloaded the song and played it at least 10 times already this morning. Pandora station in the making. This vacation starved girl is ready to set sail on a trip and make memories that last a lifetime. Have any of you ever tried a Norwegian Cruise? I'd love to hear about it. Come with me let's go...

In the Kitchen: Breakfast...

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Over the course of the past few years I altered my food intake completely. My beef is grass-fed, my eggs are free range brown, I'm gluten-free and milk (if I drink it) is organic and whole. And let's not forget the butter... it's now real butter. Kerrygold Irish butter, to be exact. Before you write me off as a saint, trust that this is the norm and I do eat the occasional cupcake or croissant. But by and large I'm come to realize that it isn't just the type food you eat, but the trusted source of the food. 

In addition to my organic farm-to-table food sources, I also have made major changes in the way I prepare meals. Gone are the days of the microwave. I now heat foods in a toaster oven. We said see ya later to the toxic pans. Most of our meat is grilled outdoors.  

All of that is great for dinner. But what about my favorite meals? I do harbor a certain weakness for breakfast. I could eat the first meal of the day all day, every day. Given the choice, I always opt for a broccoli & egg white omelette with toast. Mmmmm mmmm. This is my perfect breakfast. 

How do I prepare it? It's quite simple, actually. 

The Perfect Egg White & Broccoli Omelette

Steam broccoli florettes & chop into smaller bits
Heat non-stick pan (I prefer these)
Add extra virgin olive oil once pan is heated
Toss in broccoli to lightly sear
Add three to four egg whites
Let eggs turn white before carefully turning over
lightly brown both sides
fold & slide onto plate
add sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

The more adventurous of you can easily add in extra veggies such as spinach and diced tomatoes. You may also wish to toss in a handful of feta to make it a bit more indulgent. I love mine just as described with two pieces of this bread or this one toasted to a golden brown in the Breville with the above mentioned butter on top.

This is my idea of heavenly breakfast perfection. What do you eat each morning? Are you a breakfast fan as well? 

MY BREAKFAST WEAPONS OF CHOICE

Breville Toaster Oven // Silicone Whisk // ScanPan Skillet // OXO Nylon Turner // ScanPan Pan Set

{image via}

June 09, 2014

Black + White...

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There's a good reason tuxedos come in black accented with white button up shorts. The combo simply looks SO good! The same philosophy is true of interiors. Pairing crisp black and white is almost foolproof. There's a pleasant visual tension between the two opposing ends of the color spectrum that is deeply pleasing to the eye.

Not only is it hard to go wrong, the look withstands the ravages of time. Colors come and go in terms of home fashion, but the pairing of black + white will never ever fade in popularity. Personally I favor dark floors and grand white (or cream) walls. It is a visual marriage made in heaven. Add in deeply textured rugs or perhaps a dynamic floor pattern, glistening chandeliers and chic furnishings and you've got the makings of a timeless space. 

Frequently the look is modernized or softened with neutral accents or raw elements. A brick wall, a rough hewn wooden table or antiques with patina do the job nicely. This keeps the space from feeling too formal or too museum-like. I love the idea of a playful rug and a few unexpected occasional pieces that add depth to the story. Floor to ceiling curtains panels, playful toss pillows and uncommon accessories add personality and showcase your unique point of view. Animal prints are excellent counterpoints to the seriousness of the look - but exercise restraint. A single rug or a "moment" of leopard is all it takes to sex up the room. Any more is overt.

Personally, I love adding rich textures and layering elements of design. A cream shag rug might be a delightful contrast to an ebonized wood floor. A lucite bar cart might highlight lamps acrylic. An eglomise cocktail table brings attention to a gorgeous wall mirror. Gilt gallery frames pick up glistening gold from a chandelier above. This keeps the eyes moving about the room rather than fixated on a single element and instantly gives you a pulled together look.

How do you rock your black + white? Subdued or bold? Classic or mod?

See more classically appealing pairings on my Black + White board. 

 

Oh, the Possibilities...

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Never let anything stand in your way. Not fear, not past failures, not lack of experience. You must be bold and do everything within you to draw yourself closer and closer to your goals each day. You'll wake up one day and realize you've done it. But you'll never get there with limiting self talk and an "it's impossible" attitude. You must expect to accomplish your goals and realize your dreams. You must see it, smell it, taste it, feel it as though it is happening. You must see yourself as a success. See the goal as happening. See the future as now. {via}

June 08, 2014

Tiara Time...

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Now that the Cannes film festival is over and life in the Côte d’Azur has returned to normal, travel to this coastal French region is desirable. Just moments away from the vibrant Saint Tropez & the famed film festival city lies an intimate retreat known as Tiara Yaktsa Côte d’Azur. The name says it all, don't you think? Tiara is a an opulent hotel experience for the discriminating client seeking a quiet (but indulgent) getaway. The luxury retreat is nestled in idyllic Théoule-sur-mer known as a quiet enclave of endless luxury. Yes, I think this will do quite nicely. 

From the looks of it, I don't expect it to be a bustling, busy destination. Frankly, I could use a bit of peace and quiet to restore my hard-charging soul. For some, a vacation means overbooked days and jam packed itineraries. I'll admit to being the ringleader on those whirlwind trips in the past. These days, however, I'm more interested in lounging by the sea (or, more accurately, in a cabana by a spectacular pool overlooking the sea) and pondering nothing more complex than which dish to eat for lunch. I'm seeking restoration, relaxation and reconnection on any upcoming trips.

Thus, what to pack for this crowning jewel on the coast of France is quite simple. Flowing goddess gowns, Pucci-esque coverups & embellished jumpsuits over my bathing suit, sparkling sandals, big sunglasses, perhaps a hat & pretty bracelets. That's it. I'll need gorgeous carryon to tote the goods and of course my entourage (meaning, my amazing husband & two sweet little girls) will need bags packed as well. But my emphasis here is always on elegant simplicity. Less can be more when those items you do take are spectacular.

Take a look at the Tiara Yaktsa Côte d’Azur and tell me if it doesn't inspire you to consider living La Dolce Vita as well. Even if only for a few nights.

June 07, 2014

Oh, Hello!

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Happy weekend, everyone! {via}

June 06, 2014

On the Table...

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This afternoon I discovered Creme de la Crumb's homemade version of PF Chang's Mongolian Beef. As you may know from reading, I prefer my beef grass-fed and my meals gluten-free. You certainly won't get that at a chain restaurant. Making this (and any) dish at home gives me control over ingredients, portions and sugar/sodium levels. With small children in the house, food allergies are a concern as is convenience. Hence, recreating favorite meals at home is both enjoyable and preferable. 

How difficult is it? The ingredients and steps are fairly simple. Procure the best flank steak you can buy. Whip up that signature sauce. Mix, serve over rice. Viola! For an even faster preparation method, we love using this jasmine rice. I've not actually tested the recipe yet, but you can bet my little judges are eager for me to give it a whirl this coming weekend. 

What about you. Do you have any restaurant recipes you love to recreate at home? 

cutting board // stainless steel mixing bowls // medium saucepan // "zen" dinner plates // chopsticks

Façade...

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Don't you love it when things just come together? I've been building my future home (via Pinterest) and slowly but surely the entire property is coming together What's been missing is the façade. Thank the Lord... today I found the image! That lovely top photo? That's it! Sadly, even using reverse image lookup I've had no luck identifying the rest of the house beyond that pretty front... but I am so grateful to have a photo that clearly says "This is it" to some lucky architect in my not-so-distant future.

As you're no doubt discerning from the images, I'm fixated on a c-shaped house that surrounds a central courtyard containing a pool. Ample outdoor dining is key, lounging areas outdoors shielded from the Texas sun are paramount to the success of the design. I want the visual and physical flow from indoors to out to be a key attribute of this structure. Alcoves for enjoying breakfast or early morning coffee are all integral to the design. Covered areas are planned for dining at night by the pool. I see ivy covered walls and lion-mouth fountains, reminiscent of a European property. I see urns dotting the landscape and finials with patina on top of walls. No small plans here!

Take a deeper tour through the vision here. Trust me when I tell you that these are plans I have fixed so firmly in my mind that they have only one option: to come true. I don't consider them to be wishes. Instead they are plans.

What about you? What does your future home look like?

Feeling Bookish: One Man's Folly...

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Very seldom do I read a book from cover to cover in one sitting. In this instance, One Man's Folly arrived at our studio one afternoon. In a single afternoon I devloured this wonderful book. From the warm foreword from Bunny Williams to the peppering of peacocks throughout the book, I was captivated. You see, Furlow Gatewood is quite the individual. You might not recognize his name, but he is an important person in the world of interiors. His notable friends (Bunny, for example) cite him as inspiration and influence. 

This book is an invitation to get to know this famous-yet-unknown design celebrity by touring his Georgia estate. And what a tour it is! On the grounds of Gatewood's southern property we explore a handful of structures that all seem to have just "come together" just so. He has lovingly restored buildings on his family's sprawling Americus property.

Journeying through the book (and by extension, his picturesque estate) we are smitten with a carriage house, delighted by dogs and entranced with architectural elements. Through the ethereal photography of Paul Costello and the accompanying storytelling by Julia Reed we gather that Furlow is born with "the gift" of relaxed sophistication and has refined his taste with a rich and storied career as a designer. We read accounts of fabulous dinner parties, sought after antiques and adventures in architecture and design that have you turning page after beautiful page. 

But it would be a mistake not to point out that One Man's Folly is as much a visual treat as it is a lesson in southern hospitality. Through accounts of late night dinners, adventures in restoration, personal relationships and Furlow's personal experiences we are granted lessons in stylish living. All I could think as I read it was that I was equally eager to read it again - perhaps this time taking notes.

How I went so long without knowing this marvelous talent existed is a wonder to me. If I can encourage you to pick up just one book this weekend, this is it! One Man's Folly will dazzle your senses and make you reconsider how you entertain, what possessions you accumulate and how you spend your days. 

{all images via}

June 05, 2014

Art & Sole...

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A little red book appeared at my door last week. Within the rouge cover I discovered imaginative conceptual works celebrating one of my favorite things... shoes! The pages are filled with fantasy shoe concepts constructed from unusual goods. Think: fresh flowers, corrugated cardboard, frosting - anything really. The resulting pieces are fanciful and inspired.

Art & Sole: A Spectacular Selection of More Than 150 Fantasy Art Shoes from the Stuart Weitzman Collection is a hardcovered gem that makes for the perfect hostess gift for the your summer soirees. Shoe lovers, art aficionados, bookworms and your stylish designer friends will all appreciate this ruby red addition to their coffee table or bookshelf.

Me? I'm keeping it on my desk as a reminder to free myself from societal definitions and norms. It takes great creative freedom to design conceptual pieces, and even moreso to share those far-flung ideas with the world. And we could all use a bit more courage and creative edge, couldn't we?

Sun Kissed...

My grandmother instilled in me a desire to be very sun-safe and to always, ALWAYS protect my skin from the sun. Her porcelain skin always serves as an inspiration to me, but I wasn't always so swayed. Melanoma scares on both sides of my family (in addition to a certain level of vanity), however, have convinced me to shield my largest organ from the gorgeous sun.  

Obviously I'm a zealot when it comes to skin care all year round, but never is this more important than during the summer months. How, exactly, do you avoid the sun in Texas? You don't. You can't. You must simply embrace the fact that you'll be tan by May without even trying. But you can be smart about it by protecting your skin. And lucky you... the way I do it could not possibly be more stylish!

First, the sunnies. The sun may do the damage, but squinting tells the wrinkles where to live. Avoid this at all costs with wrap-around sunglasses that protect the sides of your face from the sun's rays. I happen to adore these from Tom Ford. Feather light and flattering, the Miranda frame in gold is the epitome of summer cool. Next, you'll want to rock a pretty tunic or glamorous kaftan on your way to the water. The look says "I've come to play, but I might pitstop for lunch on the terrace afterwards."  These chic coverups shield your shoulders and keep chest and back protected from the sun. Not to mention - it looks FABULOUS poolside or on the deck of a yacht in port at Monaco.

Next... a hat. This fabulous Eric Javits packable hat (FAB!!!). Why packable? Because someone will most certainly sit on it, step on it or otherwise seem to strive to damage any hat you wear... ever.  For this reason I'm a huge fan of the more durable variety that can withstand the beating that life offers. (and since I do have a weakness for standout accessories, this fabulous Lilly Pulitzer tote cannot be beat for travel and running around town. What to put in the tote? Here's my list below: 

Let's talk BEAUTY, ladies. As you know, Clarins UV Plus is my go-to sunblock for day. However... summer brings its own special challenges, such as hanging out by the pool and that all too familiar mid-day face shine. For this, I suggest Clarins's other product, this SPF 50 Broad Spectrum for face.

Lest you forget your gorgeous locks, I urge you to coat them in a hydrating SPF that prevents summer damage and protects those hard-earned tresses from the ravages of ocean water and chlorine. This Clarins hair & skin spray is amazing! Somehow it works as an all-over spray to give you protection and moisture so you can play without fear.

While the above may offer some protection for the body, I mostly consider it a hair product. I'm a big fan of this motto: prevention is the best cure. So to ensure my skin doesn't turn to a leathery mess or run the risk of melanoma scares, I opt for something much more heavy duty like this Shiseido SPF or the Clarins 50 body spray. It is sand-proof, perspiration proof and even combats wrinkles and scaly skin while you're out enjoying the sun. 

Since any gloss you toss in your bag is likely to melt, why not invest in a little tube of balm from Sun Bum? At only $4 a tube, the faint pink hue and SPF 30 make this an investment worth sharing! 

But back to the skin care tips. Numero uno is do what is necessary to prevent damage. Repairing it is a losing battle. So it's a heavenly miracle that hats are so stylish. I say grab a few that you love and toss one on anytime you'll be out for an extended period of time. Next: sunblock. Discover products you love (I swear by Clarins, personally) and commit to wearing them every day for the rest of your life. Yes. Ever day. Finally... sunglasses. The bigger the better.

Ready to shop? Neiman is having Camp Gorgeous right now, giving you a chic striped summer tote filled with goodies with every $100 purchase. More skin care options an be found here. Don't miss Candice Swanepoel's sage beauty wisdom. It's not always just about looks. Summer can truly be about being healthy on the inside. For this reason, you'll want to see Vogue's guide to a healthier summer. Now... off you go. And don't forget the three S's of summer skincare: sunnies, sunblock & a sensational hat ;)

Out Meets In...

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Summer is filled with contradiction. It's too hot to tolerate outdoors, and yet we long for jetting out the door to feel the warmth on our skin. We are eager to jump in the pool but cover our faces in sunblock. We crave the heat and yet we do all we can to cool ourselves. One thing is certain: summer beckons us, delights us and seduces us by inviting us to move our lives from in... to out.

So... how do you venture out and still make it civilized? By bringing the creature comforts of the indoors out. That's right. Today's fabulous creations make sectional sofas, plump pillows and glittery chandeliers all facets of outdoor living.

The same carries through for entertaining outdoors. No need to feel as though it's a picnic. Bring out real plates and serving pieces. Provide linen napkins and candlelight. Make a simple dinner a grand affair. Turn up the music and don't be afraid to pour the drinks generously. Life is too short to be lived indoors, and certainly too brief to resist living in the moment when friends & family are enjoying themselves in your company.

Since I am in Texas and pests are an issue, I highly recommend a ThermaCELL mosquito repelling lantern (or two) be placed around you and your guests. Unbelievably they do work! I was also recently turned on to the fire ant deterring properties of dried molasses. Who could have guessed a natural solution to a major issue was in the pantry? It also seems to turn your green blades of grass into a uniform thing of lush green beauty. Double duty - and super eco-friendly.

For even more decorating tips for the great outdoors, head to House Beautiful. And do NOT miss Scot Meacham Wood's tenets of dining outdoors. It will help elevate your thinking on the forever blurring boundaries of out meeting in. Ciao for now, everyone!

 

Jump For Joy...

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Some of us are very tactile. We only wear clothing and accessories that are supremely comfortable. Soft, flowing fabrics & malleable jewelry. I am such a creature.

Pairing this with my very selective taste is actually not an issue. There are many options available - all of them suited to my unique textural needs. Behond, for example, the jersey knit jumper. This is obviously the intersection where fashion & fit meet.

Here's how I love to rock this look (also known as my summer uniform!)...

Fab fedora // ruffled boho jumpsuit in regular & petite // Dior "Special Fit" Sunglasses // Kendra Scott Earrings // Pendant Necklace // Gold metallic slip-on wedges // the perfect gold metallic crossbody tote

June 03, 2014

Wish...

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Those of you following along on facebook likely know it's my birthday today. I wanted to say a genuine thank you to each and every one of you for the warm wishes online, by phone & via fun text messages all day. What a magical world we live in, to be connected to friends scattered far and wide. I've never been one to shy away from celebrating life, and holidays (even personal ones) are no exception.

Life is amazing, life is short, and life is precious. I trust you'll do what it takes to live out your dreams and chase your passions. My wish for me, for you and for everyone? To discover your purpose in life and to develop the courage to chase it without compromise. Now that is a worthy wish! xoxo        

June 02, 2014

How Do You Dew?

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The days are long, but that doesn't mean we have more time to waste during the summer. I love to streamline my "get ready routine" so I can get out before the brutal Texas heat becomes an issue. But since I'm not the kind of girl to go about her day without liner, gloss and lots of mascara, I wanted to share my warm weather beauty routine with you. Personally, I feel a dewy glow is always sexy. But many of you worry about your face seeming too shiny. Never fear. My foolproof tips for achieving a dewy look that carries you through these hot summer days. Ready..? Fan through my beauty toolbox to steal my favorite summer beauty tips.



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Rightside Up...

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Yoga is when I edit my thinking and "fix" anything out of order. Today I had a blissful session... realizing I had no worries, no stresses and no things to sort. It won't last long, of course... but what a lovely feeling. Happy Monday to you! {via}

May 31, 2014

Fresh...

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It's been a week of extreme clarity and decisiveness - two things I crave in my life and appreciate greatly. Bold decisions come from a clear mind and pure thinking. I don't know about you, but I do my best thinking outside. A fresh breeze on my face, wind in my hair and sun on my skin... the trifecta of outdoor happiness. This connection to the elements sets my mind free to care for any areas of life that need buffing and polishing. This week was about clarifying relationships and focusing on the giving rather than the receiving. There's something deeply satisfying about helping others and expecting absolutely nothing in return. It feels so good I can hardly stand it. I wish the same intoxicatingly good feelings for you this weekend. May the sun kiss your face and life smile upon you.

May 27, 2014

Fresh...

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Sometimes in order to create a new inner life, we must rethink our exterior. A fresh lease on life can sometimes be ushered in my a new haircut, a wardrobe refresh or a redesigned living space. It's a trick I've played on my mind over and over again when I need an adjustment in my thinking. And so it begins with my (annual) obsession with wearing all white.

Billowy linen pants, eyelet dresses, embellished tunics... all of these are fashion hallmarks of summer. I'm seeing this season as a time to reinvent, re-imagine and refocus on myself, my goals and my outlook. A monochromatic look simplifies the dressing process and is the physical manifestation of my internal fresh start. 

Think of it as a sartorial clean slate. No complexity, no vagueness, no mystery. Just a pure, clean, straightforward outlook on life. Care to join me? 

May 25, 2014

Happy Holiday Weekend...

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Happy weekend, everyone! I trust you are celebrating by playing in the sunshine and letting laughter fall from your lips. Lighten the mood, lighten your attitude and brace yourself for summer fun!

May 21, 2014

Cucina...

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There comes a time when you begin to consider reconfiguring your kitchen. I adore mine, but I can envision a different reality of the space that centers upon a massive island. Not big, not bigger... obscenely large. So grand that it houses ample storage, tucked under seating, a dishwasher (or two) and sinks. This... topped by two sparkling chandeliers.

This future version of my kitchen will mesh with the reality of how people flow through the home and our real needs. A generously sized counter-height island offers the perfect spot to host guests, do homework, focus on art projects, participate in cooking lessons, do food prep, artfully arrange those "candid" Instagram shots or simply relish the moment with a cup of tea. It would alter our lives beautifully and usher us into the next era of our life as a family. Are my plans over the top? Please... it's me! Of course they are. Texas-sized dreams for our Texas home. What else would you expect from this Venti girl?

The reality is that you can't simply redo an island. By comparison, the cabinets will look worn, so this would be a rebirth of our kitchen. And then it seems the best time to do the floors, since you're already moving fixed objects. Le sigh... you see where this is going, right? I'm energized by the prospect of a project of this scale and have had no shortage of ideas to bring to the table (island?). The new kitchen will have more glitz, more glam and - most importantly - more improved livability. Assuming we decide to redesign mia cucina, it will truly be celebrated as the crowning jewel of the home... bells, whistles and fabulous details not spared. So please... enjoy my inspiration images above and be sure to explore the rest of my dream home plans.

May 20, 2014

Designer Spotlight: Laura Lee Clark...

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When you begin pinning the same designer's images over and over again, that's a good sign. For me, Laura Lee Clark can do no wrong. She is known throughout Dallas as quite the star. He distinctly European style no doubt stems from her time as a student of the Parsons School of Design in Italy. Her work is infused with French flair and Italian grandeur. She has also been named "Best Designer" by her peers in D Home magazine in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Talk about accolades! Further drooling and inspiration can be found here. 1d3dea9c3dd879c6af0c63340ccc47bb

See the image above? I want my next home designed entirely around a scene such as this. Blending outdoors and in, encouraging long evenings spent by the pool and the fireplace with friends. I crave this. Realizing that a local designer was responsible for this amazing creation filled me with joy. Universe... you read it here. Let's work on delivering the goods!

Faith...

Faith Preach

Fear not, friends. Fear not. Have you ever faced a challenge that didn't ultimately lead you to your new better life? I believe life's hiccups all drive us toward a better version of our life and ourselves. Growth is not without discomfort or moments of uncertainty, but we mustn't worry or be afraid. It is your opportunity to rise to the occasion with a smile on your face knowing that this, too, is leading you to a better life. {image via & via}

May 17, 2014

Café Love...

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Hello, hot weather and warm summer days! It seems pool season has arrived, and with it, the noticeable shift in our dietary cravings. Gone are longings for warm foods and steaming beverages. With the mercury rising and the sun high in the sky, I've come to realize that having my beverages on ice is the way to go. With this in mind, I've rounded up some less-than-ordinary ways to enjoy your coffee. These are guaranteed to breathe new life into your summer entertaining. I can assure you this: guests will ask about the delicious coffee that forms the base of each of these marvelous recipes. But who are we kidding... you'll enjoy these all yourself before your guests arrive at the door ;)

First up... ice cream! This is REALLY delicious and perfect for après swim or as a more original option for dessert. (Note: Those of you sensitive to caffeine can opt for using decaf espresso as the foundation ingredient.)

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart, prep 10 min, chill and process according to your ice cream maker’s instructions, adapted from Cafe Fernando and David Lebovitz

 - 1 cup espresso or very strong coffee
 - 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
 - 1/3 cup heavy cream or whole milk
 - pinch of coarse ground coffee

Whisk to combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
Chill until cold, then process in your ice cream maker according to the instructions.

Pops
Next on the scene... iced coffee popsicles. That's right. Iced coffee popsicles. You'll be dreaming about these tonight and running out to procure the accoutrements tomorrow. This, I promise. So without further ado, the recipe:

The goods...
These amounts are approximate, based on my mold. Mix up about 2 1/4 cups of cold coffee with cream and sugar to your liking. You'll need a little extra sweetened cream for the white tips of the pops.

1 3/4 --- 2 cups cold strong coffee
1/2 --3/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra for the bottom of the molds
sugar to taste

The process...

Set aside 1/3 cup of cream and sweeten it with a little sugar. Stir until completely dissolved.
Pour a little of the cream into the bottom of each mold, just about 1/4 to 1/2 inch high.
Freeze the mold until the cream is solid, about an hour.
Mix the coffee, more cream and sugar (to taste) in a glass measuring cup and stir until the sugar is dissolved. You will need about 2 1/4 cups total. Refrigerate until chilled.
Carefully pour the chilled coffee mixture into each mold, filling it to the top.
Cover the top with foil, and insert the sticks. Freeze until solid.
To un-mold the popsicles, fill your sink with hot water, and submerge the mold in the water right up to, but not past, the top ledge for about 15-30 seconds. If the popsicles don't slide out, submerge it for a few seconds longer.

Tidbit...

This recipe works for a mold with 10 slots, 1/4 cups each. Your mold might hold more or less liquid. Adjust recipe to accommodate your unique popsicle molds.

Crema
Crema
But what about normal days... right? This is real life and we have clients to meet, fittings to attend and rehearsals to... rehearse for. Time is a precious commodity we dare not waste. For moments when you have about 60 seconds to spare and desperately need a jolt of something to kick you into high gear, we keep things fairly simple. Mr. Venti rocks the bulletproof coffee like nobody's business and I rarely met an espresso shot I didn't love. What is bulletproof coffee, you ask? It's a very strong cup of high quality coffee (Stormio works very well), plus MCT oil (virgin coconut oil will do) and pure organic grass-fed butter (we prefer Kerrygold unsalted butter). Mix well, enjoy each sip and brace yourself for the most productive day of your life.

For me, a shot of espresso is typical fare, with foamy cappuccinos regularly making their appearance regularly and of course... iced coffee.

We thank our lucky stars for our Nespresso machine because it's embarrassingly easy to produce perfect coffee instantly. You simply push a button and the best cup of coffee you've ever imagined is magically filling your cup. Trust this mommy of two: time is precious, so making a cup of liquid gold super quickly is essential. I swear by my lovely little chromed out machine.

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Am I totally biased? Yes. I've been drinking in the good stuff for well over a year now and find it to be a treat I look forward to each day. Don't take my word for it, though... grab yourself a delicious cup of coffee from Nespresso. Trust me... it's as good as gold.

{images via via via}

May 15, 2014

Lemon Sorbet...

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Have I mentioned that I LOVE lemons? Love, love, love them. I use them in food, in beverages, for cleaning and for any use possible. They smell fabulous, they look marvelous in bowls in the kitchen and they have myriad uses for every room of the home.

Did you know, for instance, that you can repel summer pests with a few squeezes of lemon around your doors? Or that nothing shines a stainless steel sink as a halved yellow fruit? Or that often the key to making your recipe go from good to great is just a simple squeeze of this citrusy wonder as you're plating your dinner? It's the superwoman of fruits in my humble opinion.

As my culinary prowess improves I'm beginning to venture into the dessert end of the spectrum. What, may I ask, could be better on a hot Texas day than lemon sorbet? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, the Kitchn has a very simple recipe that even a busy girl like I can follow. No ice cream machine necessary (high kick!). You. Are. Welcome. 

Lemon Sorbet

Makes 2 pints, or about 5 cups

1 3/4 cups water 
2 cups sugar
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and sugar, and boil until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest, then pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer instructions. When the sorbet has frozen into ice crystals (it will still seem quite soft), transfer to a storage container, cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve. The sorbet will solidify in the freezer.

Recipe Note

• Sorbet Without an Ice Cream Maker: If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can transfer mixture to a 9x13 metal baking pan. Freeze until firm (about 2 to 3 hours), stirring with a fork every half hour.

{images via here & here}

May 14, 2014

Saturated Color...

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With very few exceptions, the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse offers us a glimpse into the current mindset of today's nonpareil in interior design. Darryl Carter, Markham Roberts, Carrier and Company, Ingrao, Cullman & Kravis, Christopher Peacock and others all converged upon the Manhattan showhouse to create an attraction worthy of luring visitors from far and wide. The event runs through May 29 with proceeds of tickets going to aid Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, a charity that improves the lives of underprivileged children in the Bronx. Go... see... admire... learn from the masters who are clearly at play here.

While color is the main aspect one can glean at a glance, so too is drama and glamour. A teal lacquer four poster bed sits near a Mongolian wool stool in a bedroom. A white and kelly green chevron floor adorns another room. Royal blue suede paneled walls ground the lounge. A Ron Arad fireplace screen looms over the living room as part art installation part functional wonder. Sadly, I will not be in NYC in time to see this magnificent display of talent and creativity, but that doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for this annual spectacle. If you're in or near Manhattan, score yourself a few friends, a few tickets and spend the afternoon oohing and ahhing over this delicious display of talent. {all images via ArchDigest}

May 12, 2014

Blooming...

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It will come as no surprise that we've been Shark Tank fans for several years. As innovators, it is always informative to see how people secure funding or lose their cool in front of investors. Watching has helped us hone our craft, but we've also been introduced to countless products that we otherwise would have missed. Most recently we fell in love with The Bouqs, a disruptive entrant into the floral delivery service. Rather than paying for hidden fees, cheesy add-ons and poor quality vases (not to mention wilted flowers), these beautiful blooms are shipped straight from the side of an active volcano or sunny California to your door. No add-ons other than the option for doubling (or tripling) your flower count. And did I mention they are gorgeous? 

Ready for the best part? $40-70 per bouquet (depending upon size and origin). That includes shipping. That's it! No extra charges, no mylar balloons, no disappointed recipient on the other end. My intention is to sign up for the concierge service for myself and my mom. How nice to have a fresh bouquet delivered on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Sweet, right? And to me the pricing seems very reasonable. If you're in need of a fresh bouquet (and aren't we all?), here's a link you can use to save $10 off your first order immediately. Now... go enjoy your Monday and dream about beautiful blooms arriving and filling your home with intoxicating fragrance and abundant natural beauty. It's an indulgence you genuinely deserve. And so does your mom. :)

May 10, 2014

Feeling Bookish: Luminous Interiors...

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Through the years I've come to acknowledge that there are designers whose style I can learn to emulate, and those who can only be described as "the chosen ones" blessed beyond measure with "an eye" and a certain "way" with design. Theirs is a style that is the antithesis of formulaic, impossible to reproduce and the subject of many hours of studying glossy magazine pages. Brian J. McCarthy is such a designer.

If there are characteristics that all designers at this caliber seem to possess (and I would argue that they are a rare breed) it is that they are endlessly curious about the world, avid collectors of art, uncommonly well-traveled and committed to continually educating themselves about history, the world and design. Brian, an AD100 member, is a graduate of the esteemed Pratt Institute of New York as well as a former partner of the legendary design firm Parish-Hadley. All major accomplishments for any professional. But Brian's incredible body of work overshadows his high gloss dossier.

As the title of his new book implies, these are indeed luminous interiors. Each room dripping in exquisite taste, fine furnishings, coveted art and glorious sunshine. Brian's work is upper crust quality with down home comfort. By the looks of it, he never met a color he didn't love - yet there's not a hint of garishness to any of his rooms. This is livable glamour done right.

I adore his love of zebra (as a nice counterpoint to the chetah & leopard we see everywhere else) and his ability to make traditional pieces seem fresh and fun. These aren't modern spaces, but high gloss and high drama make each completed project look young and exciting for clients of any age. 

By his own admission, he is all about the details. He and his clients commit to seeing an idea through to completion, down to the granular elements they envisioned at the start. This certainly reveals itself in his work. Not one tiny detail is "undone" or overlooked. Everything is finished to perfection - yet nothing (anywhere) looks showroom fresh. It is as though these incredible elements have assembled themselves to support the grand lives of the owners. His work is remarkable and his ability to make his clients' magnificent art collections take center stage without bowing to a spartan gallery aesthetic is impressive. 

If you're looking for a gorgeous book (gold spine, anyone) dripping with style, Luminous Interiors: The Houses of Brian J. McCarthy {Stewart, Tabori and Chang} is a must for your collection! 

I leave you with one last bit about the designer... a quote form Brian's in the introduction to his book: 
"I don't mind doing less properly rather than more poorly." 

This is a motto I strive to adhere to in my own life. I am committed to excellence in those things which deserve my focus. Otherwise - why bother? Why do anything if you don't plan to do it well? With belief systems based upon a commitment to quality and excellence, you too can produce award-winning results. 

Now go out and be inspired! 

{all images property of Brian J. McCarthy}

May 09, 2014

Snugg as a Bug...

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Ask any parent and they'll confess that "their" iPad is rarely a device they themselves use. These wonderful tablets are the stuff of genius - but mostly for the younger set. Our daughters use it for movies, learning apps and reading. We've broken their addiction to thoughtless (and countless) hours spent using the device, and now when in use the goals are specific. We love the Fingerprint Digital & Toontastic apps and a handful of other terrific digital learning tools.

So how does one protect this technology from accidentally falling into the bubble bath or taking a tumble onto the tile? A case. A really, really good case. We've invested in countless products to protect these delicate Apple products. Some are pretty, most are not.

Presently we're enjoying the lovely pink Snugg that feels like the softest leather imaginable and transforms into a variety of amazing shapes and forms. My resident mini Barbies LOVE the cover almost as much as the goods inside. What can I say... they are drawn to the rosy hue! 

What does this fashionable mommy love? That (while not waterproof) this gorgeous little cover looks chic and sleek and stands up on its own. The flexible design & sturdy contrast stitching make this entrant into the iPad cover competition a serious win in the "good gear" department. Much love to the fine folks at Snugg for the preview of this pretty pink wonder. We adore it and give this Barbie-worthy goodie a Venti approval. (Lucky you, it comes in every color and device size imaginable... but this girly trio still feels Barbie pink is the best.)

Foundations...

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Never - ever - compromise on your values or your dreams. Your life is the sum total of your decisions, your actions and your beliefs. Dare to dream and raise your expectations. Happy Friday!

May 08, 2014

Moving Towards...

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As you know, I'm purging the closet. What am I making room for? Investment pieces. Foundation pieces. Solid dresses. Perfect pants. Classic fitted tees (long and short sleeved). BASICS. Think: black, white, nude, pink. Pretty pieces in timeless forms. I want so much less and so much more. Wall to wall accessories and about 25 flawless garments sounds just right to me (jackets and coats not included in the count).

A few LBDs, a great white dress, the perfect shoes for every occasion, white jeans that fit just right, black pants that flatter the buns and a handful of tops, blouses and shirts to pair with my jackets. So what are these pretty pieces I pine for? Simple things. Pretty things. timeless things. Pieces that will make me smile for years to come. Let's have a looksie at just a few of my favorite things. You can expect to see more of these posts and I shed my old wardrobe and look towards rebuilding a new one piece by piece.

Out with the Old...

Selling

I'm tired of my clothes. All of them. Aside from shoes, bags and jackets, everything must go. How, pray tell, does one rid themselves of the bulk of their personal apparel? Thankfully a bevy of online options abound. After reviewing them all I've decided Tradesy is the magic bullet I've been seeking.

Why? First, the site is easy to browse, clean, and trustworthy. It takes less than 60 seconds to design a gorgeous listing. They only take 9% when it sells. I don't even need to handle shipping, they'll send me a pre-paid bag with tissue paper to merely pop into the mail. Oh... the best part? I don't even have to think about the price. They suggest the price it should be listed at (which you are welcome to ignore, if so inclined) based upon condition and original retail price. From a buyer perspective I love that they guarantee authenticity and accept returns for 30 days. The system is elegant, simple and feels very comfortable from both sides of the selling equation. 

I cannot tell you how empowering it feels to begin eliminating possession waste. I'll be selling everything I possibly can in an attempt to edit my wardrobe down to a blank new slate. With the earnings I'll invest in a classic foundation and fabulous "special" pieces. This is a process I've already performed over and over with shoes, bags and jackets. Those are my "investment" areas where I only keep the very best. Because of the tight editing process, I"m deeply in love with each of those items. My dress collection, pants and tops however...? Not so much love. I'm eager to see them gone so I can begin anew. I'm keenly aware that someone else might (and will) love them far more than I do today. 

If you're feeling the same urge to purge, have a looksie at Tradesy. They have everything from Dior to Banana Republic and everything in between. (Curious about what layers I'm shedding? Have a peek. New items being listed constantly, so don't be disappointed if there's not much to see. I have plenty to add to this digital closet and I only began listing pieces this morning.)

Are you with me, friends? Let's edit our belongings and get back to only investing in those things that we dearly love. I am so looking forward to starting fresh and feeling free. THose of you interested will be happy to know that use of this link will give you an instant $25 credit at Tradesy. Enjoy!

{image via}

May 06, 2014

Shoes...

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Not all days are easy. Thankfully, I'm not one to dwell on challenges. Instead, I honor them for a moment, consider why I'm feeling a certain way, call a friend (or two) to gain clarity and perspective and then I move on. My other guilty pleasure? I dive into Pinterest to explore glorious, gorgeous, inspiring things. Today I plundered pretty images of tightly organized & edited shoe closets. The heady mix of order and stunning heels serves as an instant pick me up. What about you... what's your feel-good secret? {via}

May 02, 2014

Friday...

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This was an incredible week around Casa della Durbinetta. We worked hard, played harder and in the process leapt forward into our perfect future. It was a week of measurable progress on a handful of key projects and significant growth on the home front. Always a delicious combo.

What happened? Well... for one, I'm obsessed with supermodel hair and doing a fair job achieving it. I continue to be obsessed with the color "blush" and nude (I know... I know... what's new, right?). In bigger news, I've finally had my ah-ha moment on the topic of dreams, desires and goals. The simple quote "What you seek is seeking you." via Rumi was the catalyst for my achievement epiphany. Read more on that here. Oh, and apparently I'm slowly becoming Lisa Vanderpump. But enough about moi... here's what's happening here and there in other lives...

The Paris Apartment showed us "opulent minimalism" and we loved it

Man Repeller utters the unimaginable (life without coffee? say it ain't so!)

Who What Wear helps us edit our closet (Lord knows we all need help in this area)

Into Mind gives an intro into assessing a garment's construction quality

Song of Style rocks her signature fabulosity in Dallas (as do a bazillion other uber stylish bloggers at last weekend's RewardStyle conference)

We learn the distinction between imitation & inspiration 

Wendy kills it again in tweed & a beautiful bow-bedecked blouse

Coco+Kelley gives us great tips on getting out of our comfort zone and creating art worthy of displaying 

Coco + Mingo has a phenomenal rosemary & lemonade zinger certain to pucker your kisser

May 01, 2014

The Higher the Hair...

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It's not that Texans love big hair... it's that everyone loves bounce and volume and those enviable Victoria's Secret Angel waves. Name one girl who doesn't love a good blowout with volume at the roots and those to-die-for tousled loose curls. We all do. It's simply a part of the feminine experience. Beautiful hair can be a crowning jewel of beauty and thusly so, we all want our locks to look their best.

Yet the elusive hair of supermodels seems unattainable or at least unlikely without a trusty in-house glam squad. Until now. How, you ask, do you perform a Southern Belle blowout at home? Like so...


WHAT YOU NEED

{images via 1 / 2 / 3}

April 30, 2014

Feeling Bookish: Collected Cool {is undeniably cool}...

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If anyone in the design community looks as though they are having a blast - it's Jay Jeffers. If his work is to be translated as his personality and his mindset, Jay is filled with creative spirit and an ability to embrace his playful nature.

I've long believed that those who best decorate the spaces in which we live are those possessed with the ability to truly live their lives out loud. No quiet mouse-like personality is going to lacquer a ceiling to a high gloss finish or truly know how to deck out a Manhattan penthouse for high rollers. It just doesn't happen that way. The best designs are produced by those who embrace life and have an earnest desire to assist others in enjoying their lives as well. Mr. Jeffers falls squarely in this camp and is quite possibly the greatest current example of vibrant design.

If you've obtained a copy of Collected Cool you no doubt agree that Jay is blessed with more talent than can be expressed in a tightly bound book jacket. His heady mix of colors, art and curated pieces is both wildly impressive and intimately livable. Nothing is precious and yet everything is luxurious and fabulous. This art form simply cannot be taught in school - you are truly born with the gift for creating collected interiors or you are not. The dear Mr. Jeffers certainly is!

Few interior designers command the skill of this San Francisco star. This is a master at play - I say play because his rakish smile and easy disposition inform us the joke is on us. He's doing exactly what he was born to do and being commissioned to do it for exciting clients across the globe - all while having a roaring good time. And isn't that what life is all about?

Like his signature style, Jay Jeffers lends us his sense of effortless cool in his beautifully written and impeccably designed book Collected Cool {Rizzoli}. From start to finish he presents projects with detailed notes on his design decisions and insightful tips we can all choose to experiment with in our own projects. With a foreword by the iconic Jamie Drake, this brilliant tome (which, by the way, is impressively oversized and gorgeous) serves as a field guide for infusing that Jeffers energy into your life and perhaps (if you're lucky) your home. 

Through his showcased projects we easily glean he has a love of geometric designs, stunning abstract art and pattern play. What most impresses me, however is his ability to combine so many fanciful patterns and textures while still having a tightly edited finished result. Nothing ever seems forced or overdone. It looks... collected. This surely is confirmation that design star Jay Jeffers has been blessed by the design gods. Yet no matter how generously he doles out his wisdom, few if any of us will be able to mimic his signature cool looks. And frankly, that makes me admire him even more. Essentially, the Jay Jeffers awesomeness is simultaneously inspiring and incredibly humbling.

If you love design (and I know each and every one of you do) you will not want to miss this marvelous talent and this impossibly cool book. It is certainly one of my new favorites - as is Jay himself.

{all images via Jefferson Design Group}

è per me...

Do you remember when Jimmy Choos ran about $400? I do. Not so long ago. Now the prices on these bad boys are climbing the ranks of their red soled brethren and beyond. Sadly, my love for them continues to grow. This time I'm swooning for these blush hued beauties. The perfect pairing comes in the form of these pale pink strappy heels and a clutch the color of a whisper. I can think of no more feminine fashion duet.

MY MOTHER'S DAY WISH LIST

April 29, 2014

Savor...

Mais

Today I resolve to: drink life in more slowly and focus on only one thing at a time. No iPhone in my palm. No need to obsessively check the inbox (or the spam box for that matter). No thoughts of yesterday. No focus on tomorrow. Today will be governed by a singular focus on being fully and completely immersed in the moment. Today I will live THIS day for the sake of its unique individual potential. I gently encourage you to do the same. {image via}

April 28, 2014

Seeking...

Seek

There are things I long for with my entire being. Things so firmly entrenched in my heart that I cannot imagine life without them coming true. Deep, soul-squeezing desires that simply have to come true because I can almost see them in the here and now. I cannot imagine a future without these "wants" becoming my reality.

Lately I've noticed a shift in my thinking. I'm less interested in goals and more aware of these longings. When I think about a goal, I feel it in my mind. When I focus on my longings, my entire being feels the pull towards it. The latter experience is so much more powerful! It's the difference between pushing vs being pulled. Following those yearnings is so much easier and met with so much less resistance (if any).

I ask you... what do you pine for? What makes you swoon when you imagine it happening? What sets your soul on fire? Do you have the courage to speak it out loud? Do you have the confidence to write it down and look at it and see the simplicity of your dreams? I do. And I'm printing them out today and placing them on my inspiration board. They will be front and center in my life. Not as goals to strive for... but as realities I am excited about seeing come to fruition. 

If you need a nudge, download this lovely desktop wallpaper
I created this morning. Now... let those dreams start chasing you. 

{original background watercolor via PaperSquid + text by moi}

Barely...

Swim

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There are days when a barely there hue is just what the fashion doctor ordered. Today is precisely one of those magical days. A hint of gloss, a barely there blush... a blush colored denim jean. I love these mornings that inspire a nude blush, a neutral look. Why? Because it means the focus of the day is not on the things I see, but rather the feelings felt and the things done. Let your Monday be filled with wonder.

EMBRACE THE LOOK

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