Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A fab fiesta for Cinco de Mayo

With spring in full swing and my backyard living space finally coming together, I think it's high time  to take the party outdoors. Fortunately, spring has no shortage of reasons to celebrate, and cinco de mayo is one of my faves for two reasons: bright colors and margaritas! Who's with me?

When we think of fiestas, we think of bold color use, which I am a total fan of. Go bold or go home! An easy way to make bold colors work visually is to pair two colors together and them ground them with a strong neutral, like white. This way you don't overwhelm your eye or the space. I paired vibrant sapphire blue and orange with crisp white.  The touch of aqua with the organic qualities of the gravel and landscape provide a beautiful backdrop for this festive setting.

Now if you saw the post of my Easter table, you would know I am less on formality and more on fun, at least when it comes to my personal entertaining style. Since we are talking outdoor entertaining, I set my dining table as more of a buffet style serving center, allowing guests to graze and find a cozy spot of their choice.

I found this inexpensive shoulder-wrap-turned-table-runner in the Pinata district of downtown LA. The oversized pom-pom's on the ends had my name on them. It compliments the fun, vibrant pops of orange found in the sunflowers and citrus so well! 

To add some dramatic fun, I picked up these gorgeously colored wafers at a Mexican market, but I must admit, they were big on display, but not on taste. 

And what's a fiesta without Chiclets? I sprinkled these across the dining table like edible confetti. It kept little hands and mouths busy to say the least!

I carried the theme over to my "fresh off the truck" patio furniture that had arrived a day earlier from CB2. New furniture is a perfect excuse to celebrate in my world!

Now that the table is set, I'll have Señor de la casa LaMarque fetch me a margi, on the rocks with salt por favor. Happy Cinco de Mayo mis amigos!

How will you celebrate?


Friday, April 25, 2014

Santa Barbara on my mind...

It's Friday! Which means it's time to daydream about a weekend escape. In reality, I'll be attending kid's birthday parties and frequenting the park and/or Home Depot. Nothing wrong with that, but mama is dying for some R&R.

This week (ok fine, every week) I long to visit Santa Barbara. It's one of my all time favorite destinations. It's only a 90 minute drive north for me and most Los Angelinos, making it ridiculously tempting to just hop in the car and go.

What I love most about Santa Barbara is the amazing mountain backdrop set against majestic beaches and ocean bluffs as well as the charming spanish colonial style buildings that dot the hills with white stucco with red tile roofs.

By the time I arrive, I'm usually starving. So I stop in and have an early lunch at Julia Child’s favorite, La Super Rica Taqueria. Fresh homemade tortillas and grilled pasilla chiles with cheese. OMG. Last time we were there we saw Gwynnie and Chris Martin, pre-breakup, and she totally made me want to have Tracy Anderson be my personal trainer. Be prepared to wait in line, unless of course you're A-list status. I promise it's well worth it!

I particularly enjoy the off the beaten path experiences that can only be discovered by finding the hidden gems that make a town not just an exceptional place to visit, but transport you to a destination of true escape. That's what I'm after!

So next up, I drive through Hope Ranch and check out the beautiful scenery. I love to meander down windy oak shaded roads, spying on dream homes and scouting ocean vistas that lead to secluded beaches. I have to make sure my favorite driveway is still intact in all its glory. Here I dream a little dream of what it would be like calling this my zip code.

PS- it's not trespassing if you don't actually cross the property line!

From there, I wind down the road to Arroyo Burro beach and take a long walk down the shore. I prefer to go west down the beach where the dogs run off leash. Get your toes in the sand and check for sticky sea anemones in the tide pools, Quinn's fave.

After a long beach walk, take Cabrillo St. along the coast back downtown and stroll down State Street for some retail therapy. My go to stores are Wendy Foster for me and Chicken Little for the kiddies. Duck into Paradise Found for a spirituality check and discover some some fab finds to feed your soul. 

Speaking of food, I'm hungry again. So I'll head to dinner at The Palace Grill where the muffins are amazing and the cocktails are served up mason jars – yes, literally, it's a vat of alcohol. And after I've finished said vat, we'll all sing ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ with the natives.

Finally, I'll finish off my evening with their famous chocolate soufflé. Wait, what am I celebrating again? Oh yeah, escaping! We should all be so lucky.

As you can see, Santa Barbara is the dream destination for me to imagine my inspired life! To collect memories like seashells and take a part of that joyful day home as a reminder to find the bliss in the everyday. Even if that means birthday parties and Home Depot. Remember to find your bliss. 

Where is your happy place?


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Setting a spring table with style

With Easter coming up this weekend, it got me thinking about creative ways to style our holiday table this year. Growing up, our table was often set with this delightful vintage strawberry china from Fitz & Floyd. Side note- I had to look them up because I was nearly convinced the little FF icon stamped on the back meant "For Food".... which would have been perfectly fine by me. If it looks good enough to eat off of, I won't judge!

So with the 'vintage-vibe-meets-spring-time-fun' in mind, I decided to work on an elegant yet playful update, making this tablescape casually chic and kid friendly. After all, I am in that season of attempting to live stylishly with children. It is a tall order at times! And speaking of kids, since my cousin Leslie came over with her kids, we decided to make this a "working playdate"; as in moms work while kids play... when do we get to play? is it wine-thirty yet? So while we dressed up our table, we baited our little minions with candy and kept them busy with a fun Easter craft. More on that later.

I created a simple floral arrangement of wild chamomile in a glass pitcher to echo the strawberry blossoms in the china. The pitcher was a perfect accompaniment to the casual table setting.

Next up, I added brightly hued sweets displayed in mix and match dishware to accentuate the cozy vibe, and because, well, a little food bribery will get children to sit through a meal. I rarely do that, but being that it's a holiday I will make a small exception (I mean teeny).

My favorite impromptu addition to our table was this amazing artisnal candy from Papabubblela. These artful edibles were hand crafted for Land of Nod which had their tour bus in front of Papabubblela's shop in Old Town Pasadena, the same day we were planning to do our photo shoot. Being a big fan of all things from Nod, we stopped by and naturally, couldn't resist making a home for these quirky little conversation pieces. I don't think it was pure coincidence that their colored confections matched our table either. Meant to be!

Now back to the treat-gorging minions....

We filled their bellies with candy and put paint in their hands... we live on the edge like that.

They painted hard boiled eggs as well as egg shaped salt dough ornaments which the mamas prepared ahead of time. After we eked a little child labor out of them, we decided to hang the salt dough ornaments with turquoise baking twine found from the 1 spot at Target. Great little craft project for $1 if you already have the essentials- flour, salt, water and paint of your choice.

This was the end result, the piece de la resistance... ok fine, we just needed to let them hang dry away from little grabby hands.... the Japanese maple never looked so perdy.

Meanwhile, back in the design dojo, we finished setting the table in strawberry style.

And then this happened..... busted....

Luckily for Miss Olivia, cuteness makes up for her mischievousness.

As you can see, this shoot was easy breezy, free of interruption and after a day's work of high styling fun, the mamas joyfully sat outside, taking in the warm spring sun in perfect peace, while the angelic little babes, sat contently, rolling pleases, thank you's and other praises off their tongues as sweet as the candy they just devoured. Right.... now, let's return to earth. The day was not without distraction, but it was plenty of fun and no vintage china was harmed during the process... whew! The biggest take away from this and any holiday for that matter is making memories that last.

Whatever that may be in your home and at your holiday table, may you find the joy in the perfectly imperfect and bring that real life combo to light in the heart of your home, the place where we gather for meals. It will create fond memories, family bonding and years of laughter to come, promise!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Rock On! Designing with natural gems

There is nothing more breathtaking and exquisite than the colors, crystals and reflective quality of natural stones. They have a sense of history, permanency, and incomprehensible beauty. Using natural stone as accents, hardware and lighting brings nature right into the home, allowing it to gorgeously reflect and shine in your dreamy interior.

As children, many of us collected rocks, and I for one, still do... in a different way of course. I'm constantly in pursuit of the right gems to create a sanctuary at home that is both calming yet luxurious. Amazing how a colorful geode or amethyst can lift your mood, isn't it?

Here are some of my favorite pieces using natural gemstone. Ready to rock some in your home?  They will become the drool-worthy focal point of your room. I mean, who doesn't notice bling??

1. Gorgeously glam geode wallpaper from Kremelife.
2. Matching rock crystal lamps from Craig Van Den Brulle.
3. Black lacquered box with geode from MapletonDrive.
4. Lovely little airplant and crystal combo from Falcon&Finch.
5. Crystal wall sconce from Kallista.
6. Agate cabinet handles from West Elm.
7. Selenite tabletop decor from Plantation.
8. Charles Edwards crystal door knobs.
9. White quartz bookends from High Street Market.
10. Agate inspired gicleé print from Oliver Gal Signature Collection featured on One Kings Lane.
11. Belle&June agate and lucite serving tray.
12. Cole & Son malachite inspired wallpaper found at Walnut Wallpaper.

I love how working with crystal can be both dramatic yet soothing at the same time, I mean, when does drama and calm ever go together? This is why they are truly amazing and can create the perfect inspired accent in your living space.

So in spirit of throwing you a few design solutions (because stones would be umm... reprehensible), whatever you choose to do in your living space, may these gems be an inspiration to you.

Until then... rock on with reckless abandon!