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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 07, 2014

Do That...

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Success favors the bold and "luck" follows those who are willing to try again and again. The commonality here is to DO, to TRY, to get moving and ATTEMPT to do whatever is in your soul. Whether you need to pick up the paintbrush, the pen, the cello, the suitcase or the phone - DO the things that will fulfill you and give this beautiful (yet all too short) life meaning. Momentum is the secret key to success. Even small steps forward are movement in the right direction. DO. CREATE. TRY. PURSUE. LIVE!

July 05, 2014

Weekending...

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Enjoying a few much needed days off. I trust each of you are doing the same. Catch you Monday! xoxo

June 30, 2014

Summer Read: The French House...

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What is your "unload it all and start fresh" location? Portugal? Portofino? Some tiny island in the Pacific? At one time or another, the weight of the world has caused us to entertain the farfetched idea of quitting our jobs and moving overseas for a life made more simple. Haven't we? If not, perhaps your retirement dream is more akin to what Don Wallace has described in The French House. He and his wife, professional Manhattanites, decide to do something crazy - even by New Yorker standards. They risk it all financially, socially & professionally and struggle to create a little slice of life for themselves on a tiny French island off the Brittany coast. 

I've been reading this book in the evenings by the pool. While the pacing of the book is frenetic at times, I kept finding myself drawn in to the story. If city life is hectic, life on Belle Île doesn't promise to be easier. Language barriers, social customs, local politics and manipulative neighbors only serve to complicate the renovation process that Don & his wife have taken on with the purchase of a home on this picturesque island. 

So... where do you dream of going to get away from it all? It varies for me. While I feel a view of the ocean is a must, I can't deny the siren call of Lake Como. It's not that life itself would be simpler in a foreign land... it's that it would be so drastically different from the typical American life. While I harbor no fantasies about renovating a ramshackle home, it did not strike me that the author did either. Instead, the multi-year journey was a labor of love. 

Much like my dreams of living in a villa overlooking the Bay of Naples or Lake Como, friends & family typically find the idea audacious at best. Yet, isn't this the only life we are given the opportunity to live? Isn't the greater crime to waste this precious existence driving into an office to sit in a chair day after day, year after year. That, sir, is crazy. A life worth living is filled with passion and pursuit of new horizons. 

I, for one, found myself happy to read a story of persistence & commitment from a small family. They dramatically changed their life forever with a single decision and the tenacity to see their plans through to fruition. The French House is a great read for those of you, like me, who have ever considered moving abroad and living La Dolce Vita. 

Could I have done what the Wallace's did? No way. My dream isn't populated with nearly the struggles they faced. I'm more the buy it ready to move in type. Clooney's Villa Oleandra in Laglio will do just fine. ;) Yet this family's perseverance and personal journey was genuinely compelling. Here was this small family permanently altering their lives with a single action and sticking to it no matter what obstacles they faced. In many ways, they surrendered to the house they purchased and the often arduous adventure of making it home.Their fighting spirit, perhaps even more impressive that the location itself, made for a gripping summer page turner. If you enjoy reading stream of consciousness writing and are looking for a mental escape in the form of a book... this is surely it :)

June 28, 2014

Slice of Heaven...

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Live like a supermodel in the divine Ms. Klum's dreamy estate. While the interior is not my idea of perfection (not keen on that particular tone of wood), I think we can all agree that the grounds & European styled outdoor living area are just stellar. The beautiful Brentwood estate is a spacious 12,300-square-foot manse featuring 8-bedroom & 10-baths on a generous 8.5 acres. Hello, California! Details here.

June 27, 2014

Amazing Amethyst...

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In junior high I began the process of designing and redesigning my bedroom. Once I attempted to build a platform for my canopy - as if a princess bed needed even more pronounced height. This was not a success. Another time I took black spray paint to make a pattern on a large piece of coral fabric in hopes of giving a new look to what I thought was an unsightly table. These two were abysmal failures, but easily earned me an A+ for effort.

My most memorable early interior moment was related to paint selection. Ahhh, color! It holds tremendous power.

What I believed would be a barely-there soft shade of lavender on my walls was in fact a murderous mauve. Pure awfulness. Worse get, I believe we had drapes to match. It was a bit much. As a result, it's taken me years to warm up to almost every shade of purple, plum, lilac, lavender and amethyst on the spectrum.

Today, miraculously, any remaining scar from this primitive paint session has vanished. I now see amethyst (and the full range of regal derivatives of purple) to be among of the sexiest & more sophisticated of shades. After all, it's not what we do but how we do it that matters. Used properly, any color can shine like a star.

SHOP THE SHADE

Have you yourself recovered from a previous emotional association for a color? I will say that my complete turnaround fascinates even me. What I once found repulsive I now find downright luxurious. It is, of course, historically the color of royalty and society's elite... so I suppose I could only harbor ill will against it for so long. Now I find myself craving more of it in my life.

I've recently added deep amethyst velvet pillows to my living room. It has deepened my appreciation for the sensual properties of the shade. I don't see any plum-related paint coming to my life anytime soon, but I'm learning to never say never when it comes to colors. There's a right way to incorporate everything into your life - no matter how much you once protested it.

{image credits: pinterest}

June 26, 2014

Tiffany Blue...

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Another day, another pretty color. Today I'm inspired by Tiffany blue. Somewhere along the lines of turquoise and aqua lies this optimistic shade of blue. Light, bright and always eye catching, I have always loved this color. 

It reminds me of azure waters and sunny skies. It makes me think of pretty things and positive memories. Frankly, what more can you ask for in a color?

SHOP THE SHADE

June 25, 2014

Buttercup...

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This color really speaks to me today. Rich, vibrant yellow. This color doesn't hold back. Bold be the woman who can wear it near her face. It takes just the right undertone to rock this unapologetic shade of sunshine. Used properly, the golden glow from this energizing color can lighten the mood, brighten a space and brinch much needed zest to an otherwise neutral color scheme. 

Yellow doesn't hide. It cannot be concealed. And why should it? It is lovely and inspiring. It is there for all to see whether they like it or not... and I suspect most do indeed like it. Yellow tells the world it is there to shine and be a part of the conversation. Yellow has power in its boldness. 

ZESTY GOODS

There are rules, of course, when it comes to color usage. Personally, I love my buttercup yellow with a side of salt & pepper. Black and white make proper foils for this ray of sunshine. They add glamour and gravitas to this otherwise not-so-serious shade.

I'm not certain what my present love of the sunshine hue says about my mood, but on this rainy Dallas day I'm not going to question it. So... how do you yellow?

June 24, 2014

Reach Higher...

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There you are living your life in a state or relative contentedness when suddenly BOOM. A far better existence crosses your laptop screen. Blame Pinterest. Blame really talented photographers. Blame designers. Regardless, suddenly now your goals are bigger, your aim is higher and your ambition just kicked into overdrive. Me? I say all of this is good. It's natural. It is all a part of growth. 

Am I saying don't be content? The opposite, actually. You must find genuine gratitude and enthusiasm for all you presently have. After all: everything in your life was once just a thought in your mind. Those shoes, that spouse, that job. All things you once pined for. And now they are yours.

You must learn to understand the flame of desire within you. If a craving for finer things burns within you GO GET IT. Make it happen. Expect it to happen. This is all a part of receiving blessings (or for some of you: aligning with the energy to manifest them). I believe with all my heart that you should envision your life in as much detail as possible assuming those dreams will come true. They are glimpses into your future if you allow them to be so. 

What will that dream home look like? Tell me about the view. In detail. How about the pool. Does it spill into the horizon just so or is it centered around a fountain. Tell me about the wind in your hair as you look out at the water. Describe to me the sun hitting your face as you look up in a moment of consideration. Is it amazing? It is, isn't it?

Most people fear longing for more because they fear becoming discontent with what they have. Standing still is falling behind. Whether your dream involves furthering your education, raising your children (or fur babies) well, sculpting your body or selling it all to travel the world one thing is true - growth and change are necessary. So... you must plan what that future you will be like down to the tiniest of details.

Donald trump has a fantastic quote. It's very simple. "You have to think anyway, so why not think big?" My thoughts exactly. If thoughts become things and the sum of all things in your life are indeed the sum of your life... you need to get a handle on your thinking. Spend some time writing down exactly what you desire. What will the next 2 years look like? What is your next big project? What is your next big chapter?

Let's put some time into this and consciously create our futures rather than letting days turn into weeks turning into a quiet life. I don't know about you, friends... but I'm here to make some noise and accomplish big things. I'm here to see the world and live a lovely existence. I know you're here for specific reasons as well. 

So get out that journal and start defining it!

{images via // via}

June 23, 2014

Summer Styling...

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Summer parties are kicking off. This week is all about sourcing easy outfits for afternoon events by (although likely not actually in) the pool. The foundation is a great maxi dress. The rest is easy: oversized sunglasses, SPF to spritz onto bared skin and some form of pretty sandals. I like to do a messy low bun with sideswept bangs and keep makeup simple but pretty.

The above look is a great one if you have a special summer soiree to attend this coming week. You can't go wrong with a floral DVF dress and statement jewelry. Finish with an intoxicating summer scent (not too heavy, mind you!) and you're out the door. Ciao! 

GET THE LOOK

DVF floral silk maxi dress // Clarins SPF 50+ Spray // Kendra Scott Byron Earrings in White // kunzite ring // sparkling sandals // Acqua di Parma Iris Fragrance // Oversized Sunglasses

June 22, 2014

Feeling Bookish: Tom Scheerer Decorates...

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Today's featured interior designer goes without introduction. Most in the design industry or anyone who blogs about design is likely very familiar with the talented Mr. Tom Scheerer. To the few who can't quite place his name, I'll simply offer an image or two of the Lyford Cay Club in the Bahamas featuring the now famous Quadrille wallpaper. Ahhhh... yes, now you know the designer. And you know he's positively amazing.

Written by Mimi Read, Tom Scheerer Decorates is a celebration of the designer's body of work to date. Unlike most tomes broken up by room type or project, Tom's is categorized by location: city, country or seaside. Using the aforementioned Lyford Cay as an example, I'd say some of his more familiar projects take place among the palm fronds of more equatorial locations. Tom's portfolio is incredibly varied though, and he executes chic city design & refreshing country interiors every bit as well as those infamous beach properties.

While noted for eschewing pomp and circumstance in his design, his spaces still offer that magical "wow" factor. There is a sense of grandeur to Tom's understated elegance. That stems largely from the natural elements and lively patterned fabrics that are repeated throughout his work. Both of these featured help a space feel warm and inviting - not too perfect or stiff. The tension between raw natural fibers and formal design elements hits just the right aesthetic balance.

Organic fibers, especially the way Tom incorporates them into his vision, lend marvelous texture and build a visual bridge between indoors and out. Whether it's an exposed beam ceiling, a pair of woven cane chairs or a sisal rug, Tom grounds amazing interior and residential spaces with elements of nature right outside the doors.

His fuss-free yet luxe designs create an inviting quality in his work that surely endears him to his clients. The ability to deliver showstopping rooms that allow living in an elegantly causal manner is a gift not all designers enjoy.

Add this incredible book to your must-have designer book library. Mimi beautifully explores Tom's unique approach to effortless chic living and fills the pages with insights and ideas for all who care to read them. This gorgeous hardback book will be a treasure for years to come when seeking inspiration or simply craving a glimpse into a magical world of fine interior design.

{images via}

June 21, 2014

God is in the Details...

{note: post sponsored by Metrie, but ALL thoughts, opinions and moments of shameless gushing are my own}

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I've been pinning my heart out lately. One such board is focused on spectacular ceilings, coffered and otherwise. Another delights in the beauty of boiserie. These are architectural details that so often today are not part of the modern construction process. Cost is an obvious factor, but I believe a perceived lack of interest and inspiration are the true culprits.

Until they reached out to me and asked to be a blog sponsor, I'd not heard of Metrie. One look at their beautifully designed site and AMAZING products won me over. They step in where builders often step out. Adding layers of details such as these is a labor of love, not born of necessity. The trend towards modern and transitional interiors have given some builders even less of a reason to consider paneled walls and coffered ceilings. Yet in that absence of detail a craving for the fussiness and fabulousness of the past is born.

I am grateful to live in a home with detailed millwork and substantial architectural details on the inside. These are aspects of my home's design I appreciate each and every time I see them. Sculpted baseboards, paneled library walls, rosettes and wall moulding lend interest to the bones of the house and make it a joy to live in. It's no Chateau du Grand-Lucé, I assure you, but I love it nonetheless! That said, a modern house can still benefit from interesting details. A herringbone ceiling, raised panels... it all tells a story and creates a feast for the eyes. Repeatedly, I see spaces that ooze a certain sense of modern cool but possess innovative architectural details.

Metrie was created for fans of such details - whether or not the builder shared that vision from the start. From solid core doors with Neo-Classical designs to marvelous mouldings for ceilings and walls, Metrie makes it easy for designers and decorators to give their clients the rich interior architecture may of us pine for these days. I can assure you, any nursery I decorated in the past would surely have benefitted from a glossy coffered ceiling to highlight a glistening chandelier. Those details make a room sing and set the stage for elegant living - the goal of every great design plan. 

But I digress... back to my thoughts on this brand. The lovely team at Metrie asked me to look around their site as well as The Finished Space for inspiration. I assure you, very little prodding was necessary. Between the Style Quiz and the Room Styler it's clear the brand is focused on ease of use for the end user. No guesswork is necessary. The quiz nailed my preferences perfectly: I'm a girl with a weakness for the French Curves collection. Classic details inspired by the Baroque and Empire periods that lend a romantic and glamorous look to any room. No surprise there!

The room visualizing tool, however, was even more robust. Using any collection chosen, it allows you to visualize a room outfitted with a variety of product options. Paneled walls, baseboards, rich moulding options and color choices make this a really smart tool for communicating your vision to design clients. I loved the playfulness of the tool and the super simple ease of use. The bold among you can simulate painting those panels hot pink or you might opt for more reserved options as I have and stick to a monochromatic 

Whether you're a designer friend of mine or just a design enthusiast, you'll want to have a look Metrie's beautiful collections. Created with designer collaborations and usage in mind, this brand is sure to be a new favorite for many of you out there. 

Follow them on twitter at @OfficialMetrie like them on facebook and visit them online. Be sure to take the quiz! You'll love seeing how it perfectly identifies your interior preferences by asking just a few easy questions. Special thanks to Metrie for reaching out and saying hello. I'm thrilled to now be aware of your beautiful products and I look forward to dreaming up ways to use them on future projects. 

{image credits: metrie // metrie // metrie // metrie // the finished space // pin // pin // pin // pin}

{note: post sponsored by Metrie, but ALL thoughts, opinions and moments of shameless gushing are my own}

June 20, 2014

Leisure...

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It's (almost officially) the weekend and I'm already thinking of palazzo pants, sunglasses and poolside umbrellas. The life depicted in a Slim Aarons photograph seems ideal right now, doesn't it? Bronzed skin, a life of leisure and a (seemingly) stress-free existence in a picturesque environment. Enviable, no?

Whether or not it's attainable for most, we can all agree that the life of luxury and ease captured in these timeless photographs casts a spell upon us. No matter our station in life, we all find the life of the jet set to be appealing.

My local Trina Turk boutique does a fabulous job curating books. They always have a stash of Slim's books on hand and other Taschen & Rizzoli titles that evoke thoughts of the privileged lifestyle. It isn't that the good life doesn't exist today, it's that Slim's images remind us of days when we weren't hiding from the sun's rays or worrying so much about global events. It seems to be a celebration of "the now" in these storied photographs. No iphones, no disconnected friends. These photographs all capture people interacting with one another and these stunning locales. You long to be there and you desire to be them.

Here are a few of my picks to get you in the jet set mood this weekend. May you sip your iced beverages with a bit more style and a lot more sophistication!

THE JET SET LOOK

JET SET LIFESTYLE BOOKS

Enjoy more Slim Aarons photography here. All images sourced via Pinterest

June 19, 2014

Medi Dreams...

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As much as I wax on about French chateau style architecture, there's an Andalusian princess within me that longs for a Mediterranean manse. You know what I mean... ochre stucco and a barrel tile roof. Sweeping wrought iron staircases and exposed beam ceilings. Lengthy balustrades and flowering bougainvillea lining private courtyards. Soaring cypress trees and cascading fountains dotting the landscape.

I long for this style of home in a way typically reserved for objects of passionate lust. I can envision myself in beaded kaftans overlooking the Pacific Ocean and letting the breeze blow the hair back from my face. I've always held an image in my mind of living in one of these seaside homes.

Fortunately, stucco is de rigueur in Dallas. It is one of the common modes of construction, but for authenticity's sake I prefer to see these homes overlooking vast bodies of water. They just don't seem quite right unless they are in a state that ends in "a" (California, Florida, Arizona etc). Unfortunately, since my husband has endured the hell on earth otherwise known as LA traffic, my chances of getting him to move out west (again) to Southern Cali are slim to none. A little resistance never stopped this girl, though. So still I plot and plan to have a vacation home in Orange County or Malibu at some not-so-distant point in the future. 

These images above? All by Oatman Architects, a husband & wife team that creates these sprawling Mediterranean style homes that seem so right on the California coastline. What might seem garish in Texas seems downright homey in Newport Beach. It is definitely more "Old World" than my normal daily style, but I find these homes really call my name and appeal to my fantasy way of living. The opulence in design is balanced by very durable materials and expansive livable spaces. 

See more here

 

June 16, 2014

Brunch...

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As noted previously, I love breakfast. If there's a meal worth celebrating, it's the first one of the day. I also find this meal to be my preferred choice for hosting soirees. Get them in, serve them coffee, delight them with a frittata or quiche and then off everyone scatters to enjoy the day.

In the past we've done custom omelettes for everyone. This is tedious at best and results in the obvious byproduct of staggered mealtimes. Not ideal.

Father's Day brought about motivation to reshuffle our hosting plan and make it far more fuss-free. While a quiche was our family's go-to brunch item growing up, I personally prefer the frittata. Why? For one, I'm allergic to cheese. The real reason, however, is the crust. Any dish served in a pastry is judged largely on the flakiness of said crust. Frittatas - at least here in Dallas - tend to be more boldly seasoned and loaded with vegetables. It's a dietary/culinary win-win.

Neatness counts too, of course. You've cleaned in preparation for guests and now your sparkling kitchen can be spared. These crustless egg-centric brunch entrees can be prepared using the oven only, keeping your stovetop glistening and cool to the touch.

Which recipe did I make? This one. It's meaty enough for the men but elegantly suited for ladies. It sits nicely on the fork and looks gorgeous plated. What more can a hostess as for on a Sunday morning? You might notice the recipe calls for gruyere. We served it without and I heard not a single complaint. We paired it with fresh brioche, orange juice and coffee. Brunch was easy from a hosting perspective. As for the guests, the meal was light yet filling - the perfect start to a sunny holiday.

SETTING THE TABLETOP

CHEF'S KITHEN FAVORITES

My special hostess secret? I love to eat my breakfast before guests arrive. Yes, a full meal. Not only does this keep me energized, it gives me the peace of mind to relax and focus on the arrival of people. I'm not so patient when I'm hungry, and once the first person comes through the door its "go" time. There are often few opportunities to focus on enjoying the meal myself. There is also the small matter of my two litle girls. When I'm not pouring OJ for someone I'm very likely chasing a toddler through the halls. Thus, my pre-party meal fuels me and makes the entire experience an exercise in "giving" rather than trying to sneak in a bite here or there. Besides, I genuinely love breakfast and like to fully take in the "moment" of the meal solo. 

This little frittata trick will be the basis for many future lazy Sunday brunches to come. I was able to circulate and have easy conversation without keeping my eyes on the food. It also ensured that Mr. Venti could unwind and enjoy the guests. Father's Day or not, I highly recommend you experiment with breakfast dishes you can bake. You'll be smiling and gracious and guests will leave happy and sated. Brunch success by every measure!

{image above of our Father's Day brunch}

Chalk...

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Some of my closest friends make a great living injecting clients' homes with bright, bold color. Do you know what my favorite color is (besides gold)? White. Pure, unadulterated white. It makes me happy. And it is - contrary to all those who eschew its use - a color. A fabulous one at that! I absolutely love white when done right.

Now... I'm the first to tell you that white must be done right to get the look you want. The goal is elegant warmth. You need touches of gold, bits of faded wood, flowers, organic elements and - of course - black. The best white rooms all feature weather-worn woods and hints of black. It's a push-pull tension that is essential to the lyrical sensuality of the room. Failure to insert patina will leave you with the dreaded dentist's office effect. "Clinical" is not a compliment to how your space looks or feels. Luxurious warmth is the vibe we are aspiring towards. 

Also key? Layered textures. A high pile rug, piles of pillows, a faux fur accent, a cashmere throw... the key is to add touchable texture and lend visual interest. White needn't be sterile and cold. My favorite rooms are ALL largely white and what I love most is their tactile qualities. Coffered ceilings, dripping chandeliers, floor to ceiling silk drapes. These rooms are sexy and alive and filled with touchable fabrics and objects of visual interest.

Tell me... what color do you love?

{credits}

House Proud...

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Home. The importance of it cannot be understated. We spend an inordinate amount of time in them. One thing to know about those of us about living in the South: we love (and I mean LOVE) to entertain at home. Being "house proud" is not a character flaw, it's a responsibility and an extension of our innate hospitality. We like keeping the house "company ready" and hosting family and friends for meals, gatherings and celebrations with little notice.

During summer, this means expanding the flow of the home to the outdoors and perhaps blurring the lines between "in" and "out" of house. Plump pillows are taken outside as are the "good" dishes. Yesterday we hosted a Father's Day brunch on the patio with stemware, bone china and linens. Why? It's recognizing that "someday" is today. The "special occasion" is now. If you're holding off on using your flatware and dishes until some spectacular moment in the future, you are missing out on the potential of this once-in-a-lifetime moment known as today. 

No outdoor space to speak of? The reverse approach works as well. Bring a potted tree indoors, add a few colorful outdoor pillows to your room. Consider a casual poof for the floor. Add more flowers to your room and consider using natural materials on your tabletop. It need not be fancy or expensive, just let the season inspire you.

Summer is just getting started. Why don't you spend some time getting your home ready for opening the doors - literally and figuratively - to those you love most. Embrace the opportunity to play host to those in your life. Invite them over. All of them. Treat them to simple, but spectacular food. Be gracious. Invite life into your home. Being "house proud" is really just code for loving how you live and wanting to share that life experience with others... and there's no shame in that.

HOSTING FAVORITES

See more of my favorite outdoor/indoor spaces here.

June 12, 2014

Mini Modesty...

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As much as I love fashion for moi, dressing my minis is somehow even more satisfying. Imbuing these little beauties with sartorial sensibilities from a young age is a gift I am happy to give them. What lesson do we need to learn during the summer? Modesty. Enter: Milly Minis.

I'm not keen on bikinis for babies - and for my rapidly growing six year old keeping it fresh & preppy is the name of the game. No scandalous poolside attire desired. Milly makes swimwear & coverups for toddlers & little girls that is every bit summer fun whils still being beautrifully age appropriate. Ruffles keep it sweet and generous cuts prevent suits from being skimpy. It's fabulous swim & beachwear that's packed with style but every nit suited to fun-loving little girls. They even rock a one-shoulder leopard suit that somehow manages to be tame. Big fan of these pretty pieces.

Here are a few of my favorites. All of these are on summer clearance at Saks happening now.

Silly for Milly...

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More great takeaways from this sick sale at Saks happening. Milly (one of my favorite brands) has their end of season sale prices are super low. No surprise my favorites are bold black & white. Also... shipping is free. You can thank me later. Enjoy!

Saks Appeal...

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True, I live in a Neimans town... but NOBODY rocks a designer sale like Saks. Each of these dresses are marked down below the $75 mark, ladies! Shop now. They are selling out fast! 

June 11, 2014

All In...

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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!

{image credit}

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.



{images via // via // via // via}

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.

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