Perspective: See Your Goals. State Your Goals. Seize Your Goals...

So... I have a new life goal. And it's a good one! I've always had a deep, deep desire to be a venture capitalist - able to give entrepreneurs and upstarts the financial push they need to thrive. I still have that goal, as it's a passion close to my heart for personal reasons. Now, however, I have a parallel goal. I need (notice the shift in verbiage here) I need to own homes around the world that are part of the a luxury home rental network. 

Just flipping through the Inspirato magazine is enough to jumpstart a dozen dreams. but I suspect most people glossing through the pages simply think of their next vacation. Me? I want more. I need more. It is my intention to own a handful of carefully selected properties that a company like Inspirato (and there are growing number of others like it) will manage and strike to keep booked throughout the year. 

Imagine knowing you have a home in St. Martin like the one above and it's generating passive income for you. Imagine feeling thrilled by the knowledge that you own a stunning mountain home in Vail that is producing a handsome profit for you. A chic flat in Paris's 16th arrondissement would be dreamy, no? What about a Mediterranean beauty in Sonoma overlooking a vineyard. It sounds like a dream, but these are real homes owned by investors who see the value in the ownership of spectacular properties. 

The rise of the Airbnb's and Luxury Retreats of the world is a cultural shift not to be overlooked. It's one thing to dream of vacations - and I definitely do. It's another thing entirely to develop the goal to own jaw-dropping real estate in the world's most coveted destinations and set yourself up for financial success. 

So that's it world. I'm putting this intention out there for you, for me, for everyone to see. It's a dream that's been building for a while and I'm finally saying it out loud with greater frequency, a stronger sense of purpose and a vision of it so clear that it rivals the clarity of that swimming pool above. 

What good is a post like this if I don't share simple goal setting & achieving steps? None at all. Here are the basic steps I liken to those shampoo bottle instructions "Lather. Rinse. Repeat."

STEP 1: SEE YOUR GOALS

This is the most difficult part for everyone. You need CLARITY. To get this, find ways to clear your head. Perhaps it's a scenic drive, a challenging run, a long swim, a solo bike ride. For me, thinking of this intensity happens when I'm moving. Regardless, you need perspective which means you'll want to shake off your typical daily routine and perhaps GO somewhere. Distance can be your very best friend. Frankly, these ideas just "come to me" once I'm alone with my thoughts. It takes some discernment to cast aside the flights of fancy from the inspired ideas.  Trust that you'll have the wisdom to know when your marvelous idea or ideas emerge. (Hint: you'll be overwhelmed with the urge to engage in step 2...)

STEP 2: STATE YOUR GOALS

Write those ideas down. FAST and in detail. Articulate them and flesh them out in as many beautiful details as you can. If it's a better body you dream of, describe how you'll feel, what that new body will wear and how you'll own every room you walk in. If it's a series of properties like mine, begin declaring specifics such as locations, occupancy rates, property management partners, etc. Articulate your BIG GOALS on paper for YOU to see, then you'll feel emboldened to share them with people. This process will develop a sense of certainty in you - a feeling of power and momentum. (Tip: a pretty journal pairs nicely with this act.)

One more tip: put it "out there" in the form of a decorated refrigerator door (do people still do that?) or an inspiration board. Me? I'm putting Inspirato photos of that house on my pinboard (my favorite option can be found here). I'm writing a few goals out and putting them up to see every day. I'm boldly declaring to myself (and anyone who observes my work space) the driving force behind my burning ambition. 

STEP 3: SEIZE YOUR GOALS

You won't believe this, but the first two steps are the most difficult for people. Most of humanity simply won't attempt the first two steps. They don't take time to dream, they feel that "thinking" the idea is enough. It isn't. Without a written goal that you can SEE on a regular basis, your actions won't align to bring about the necessary changes. Step 3 is a natural response to steps 1 and 2. So stop here and take the time alone to get clarity and then put those visions and goals on paper in big, bold, bossy ways. The third step will almost happen for you once you've established the importance of the goal on your subconscious. 

So go ahead... Dream big - REALLY big - because if those goals don't make other people think you're crazy, they aren't big enough. 

{Editor's note: this incredible home can be seen at Inspirato.)

Color Crush: Adriatic Blue + Glistening Gold...

Ready for a mini-vacation? Take a brief moment with me to imagine the glistening waters of the Adriatic. Sail with me through the Greek Isles. Stroll with me through Santorini's steeped, winding streets. Dine with me on Croatia's coastline. Charter a yacht with me and sail to Corfu for a day trip. These colors will inspire you to soak in the summer sun, dip your toes in a pool and possibly, just possibly live a little more luxuriously today. 

SHOP THE SEDUCTIVELY SERENE VIBE





Are you feeling it? Me too. If you're swimming in client work today rather than an infinity pool, do yourself a favor and at least make an attempt to book a summer vacation. Dubrovnik, Mykonos, Crete... you can't go wrong with one of these amazing coastal destinations along the Adriatic. If not, I hope you enjoyed this mini mental escape. You deserve it!

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Beauty: Secrets to Serving Up that Radiant Summer Glow...

Newsflash: it's summer! School is out. Pools are open. Skin is being shown. It's time to get your skincare and makeup look in line with the season. 

I've been experimenting with a variety of factors and reaping the benefits of all my research. I'd love to share a few of my hard-earned favorites and a few tips for letting your true colors shine through. Quite simply, nothing will substitute for a happy life and a healthy lifestyle. However, you can boost your beauty just a bit with a few simple techniques and carefully selected products. 

Ready for summer beauty school? Here we go: 

STEP ONE: REVEAL YOUR TRUE COLORS

Fact is, clogged pores need cleaning and your skin may  need encouragement to make way for new cells and skin to emerge. Healthy skin is safely exfoliated skin. It's taking me time to get my "recipe" just right, but I'm honing in on a few important factors. A regular AHA/BHA treatment keeps pesky blemishes away and fights the good fight of cellular renewal. (My tip: these presoaked pads from Radical Skincare were a happy discovery!!! Skinstore almost always has 20% off too, so it's a sweet deal!) A Clairsonic brush is your bestie if a dewy, fresh-faced look is your goal. I'm discovering the joys of this newest version (hello, awesomeness!) paired with this crazy looking black soap. Turns out, a little mud is great for your skin. Who knew? 

STEP TWO: PRIME THE CANVAS

I may be a self-professed serum addict, but if there's one thing I'm loving is my newest discovery: a plumping, skin-enhancing, radiance-boosting mist that arrives just in time for the summer heat. The benefits of a serum with the refreshing qualities of a spray. Hello, innovation! Kate Somerville just introduced this stuff and I'm already hooked. Better yet, pair it with her Nourish moisturizer for a light as a feather but perfectly hydrated product. Both contain Matrixyl 3000™ which lifts, firms and smooths any fine lines beginning to show. It's a one two punch for your skin. Now, protect that beauty with a serious sunscreen. My old favorite from Clarins has been reformulated but thanks to the wonders of online reviews I've discovered my new favorite. Vita Liberata packs a serious anti-aging punch and doesn't burn or give you a ghostly glow. Regardless of your choice of brand please protect your skin from the sun! 

STEP THREE: EVEN IT OUT

I love a light-as-air foundation. Think liquid goodness that only requires a few drops to deposit skin-tone balancing pigment on your lovely face. Rather than conceal your skin, the idea is to reveal it via a light-reflecting product leveraging the latest makeup technologies. My search for the perfect foundation has been documented here and here, I'm happy to say B10 in Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua has sealed the deal as my product of choice for the moment. It is positively dreamy and seems to be neither drying not too "wet" for my skin. I prime with Base Lumiere, but the girls at the counter swear by Le Blanc for its dreamy skin-perfecting qualities. 

STEP FOUR: BRONZE & GLOW!

Finally... the fun! Truth be told, I love applying makeup. While it might look like a lot, each of these steps deposits only a very thin layer of high quality ingredients. By taking care of your skin (sunscreen & moisturizer, girls!), you'll use far less makeup and actually enjoy your reflection in the mirror. That said, a little blush and bronzer is a good thing. My suggestion? All those awards only confirm what loyal fans know. NARS Orgasm blush is quite possibly the most perfect shade of blush a girl could ever hope for. I've used it for many years and will always consider it a staple. Next: choose your bronzer and prepare to fall in love with that "I just returned from St. Barths" glow. Guerlain makes an amazing version in their Terracotta Joli Teint Powder. You've likely seen it's eye-catching image in many Instagram shots. Well... I tried it and it lives up to the hype. My favorite is Blonde Clair, a color perfect for those of us on the fairer side. Brunettes, they have something for you as well! 

STEP FIVE: POWER UP YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP

So... beauty sleep is a real thing. And you can leverage those resting hours to reveal (and develop) more beautiful skin. A retinol product can be used at night once you hit your 20's. Available in many forms and strengths, this acne & wrinkle fighting ingredient fights breakouts, plumps skin, shrinks pores, battles wrinkles and is one of the only proven (and proven time and time again) anti-aging ingredients out there. Grab a powerful dose of retinol and vitamin C (another radiance booster) with PTR's Retinol Fusion PM. This bottle offers serious bang for your beauty buck! I also love a good AHA cream to facilitate cell renewal and make the skin more receptive to those high quality ingredients you're applying. Kate Somerville's Goat Milk moisturizer is a good one, as it this more potent glycolic acid moisturizer. Retinol + and AHA will positively result in a fresher face by morning. 

Now... go out here and get your summer on, everyone! And don't forget your sunscreen. :) 

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Luxe Accommodations: Sweeping Vistas in the 'Bu

So let's just get this out of the way: I adore Bravo and the wanderlusting, lifestyle enabling, success celebrating nature of its Million Dollar & Real Housewives shows. This week I find I've been missing and longing for the Joshes (both Altman & Flagg) as well as the dreamy California properties they feature. 

This airbnb listing has me almost realizing my Malibu dreams with this stunning modern residence. This is surely a home Bravo's very own Malibu expert Madison Hildebrand would have personally been familiar with. Yours (or mine) for $900 per night, this glamorous architectural beauty boasts mountain and ocean views - and enough jaw dropping vistas indoors to make the nightly rate feel downright reasonable. What it lacks (pool... where are you???) it strives to make up for in high end appointings and Kelly-Wearstler-meets-Martyn-Lawrence-Bullard sexiness. Brass wrapped tufted velvet seating, anyone? Check. Sleek white kitchen? Check. Deep soaking tub with a view of the Pacific? Check! 

So come on, Bravo. Bring back my house lusting summer show. I do believe I do believe I'm experiencing withdrawal symptoms of the luxurious kind. 

Not on Airbnb? Sign up here

PACK YOUR BAGS


YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Musings: On Building One Another Up...

Sometimes a girl just needs a good pick me up, doesn't she? If you've been reading for a while you'll be happy to know I'm finally serving up special content in a weekly email. These are personal notes where I dish up special thoughts, behind-the-scenes happenings and favorite discoveries. The content will always be inspiring and a bit different from my typical posts. I'm even hoping to shift into creating video content (although I might need a bit of encouragement to do so!) for you special subscribers. Think of this as VIP content delivered right to you inbox. If an inspiring email is just what you crave, sign up & join the fun. I can't wait to connect with you!

xoxo,
Franki 

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Buon Weekend: Anything is Possible...

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely due for a good weekend. And by good I mean FUN. It's raining and glum here (where are you, Texas sun???) but we'll make the best of it and get creative with our days. I hope you're somewhere fabulous sinking your toes in the sand and warming yourself by a pool with a great book and even better friends. If not, perhaps you'll imagine the possibilities and create a little sunshine of your own. Life is too short to live average days! 

Luxe Accommodations: Effortless Luxury on Laguna Beach...

I'm an OC girl at heart. Can't help it. Always will be. I'm not from there but if I could choose anywhere in the US to live, this paradise on earth is surely my jam. Until the movers arrive (and my west coast dreams come true) the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort is a sweet cure for my California cravings. It's got everything a summer-loving girl wants: beach yoga, a stunning pool area, beautiful balconies and opulent elegance inside. There's a reason those SoCal brides flock to this property: it is picturesque and perfectly captures the romance of Mediterranean architecture against a backdrop of a blissful beach and craggy cliffs. 

So... what should we wear on our virtual vacation there today? Let's pack our make-believe bags and jet off to Laguna Beach, girls! 

PACK YOUR BAGS




YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Beauty: D&G Makeup Artist Christian McCulloch Reveals His Luminous Tips...

Can you tell I'm obsessed with makeup and skin care? I'd say a series of deep-diving beauty posts can attest to my dedication to perfecting the art & science of beauty. Today I bring you a VERY special treat. Makeup artist to the stars Christian McCulloch was kind enough to put down his brushes long enough to answer some very detailed questions I posed to him. 

But before I share his "get glowing" tips I'd love to familiarize you with his work. Do the names Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone, Taylor Swift, Kate Hudson, Jessica Biel, Hilary Swank, Rachel Weisz, Shakira, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Cameron Diaz, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Richie, Milla Jovovich, and Rachel Zoe ring a bell? I know I had you at Taylor Swift, but the list of famous clientele is impressive. The Sydney, Australia native has worked with brand giants YSL, MAC, Oscar de la Renta, Jason Wu, Tory Burch, Donna Kara, MaxMara and many more. Let's just say when it comes to getting gorgeous, Christian has the lock on all things beauty and everyone in the industry knows it. 

Through a series of fortuitous events I was able to ask Christian a few questions about the makeup techniques & products he'll be featuring at the Spring Looks Event in Houston. Utilizing the newest products from the Summer Shine Collection as well as those Dolce Matte lipsticks everyone is dying to get their hands on, Christian will be gussying up Houston's finest on May 30th at Saks at the Galleria. Yes, you too can have this supremely talented (and incredibly fun) makeup and skin care guru bless you with the gift of his artistry. (Don't worry... full details at end of post!)

Okay... ready for my skin care & makeup questions? I pressed him for his thoughts on how to prep your lips for those richly pigmented matte lipsticks, how important moisturizing is to the final look and his thoughts on getting that natural luminosity when the mercury rises. Ready? Here we go: 

Franki Durbin: Christian, thank you for your time. I love your ability to leverage makeup to bring out the unique beauty in your clients. It is truly a gift! 

On to Dolce & Gabbana Summer Shine look… the step-by-step instructions begin with application of the luxurious 10-minute Aurealux Mask. Can you share with us the transformative properties of the mask and the qualities it lends the skin in preparation for the makeup to follow?

CM: I love the Dolce&Gabbana Aurealux Mask. It's super refreshing and hydrating and boosts the skin's overall quality and texture leaving it very silky. The Mask is a serum-based formula with a gorgeous luxurious consistency. The key ingredients are an exclusive Gold Flavo-silk complex  - with gold silk sericin, Italian olive oil extract and Vitamin B3.   The Mask perfectly primes and conditions skin beautifully before makeup application.

FD: What I love most about the finished Summer Shine Collection is the pairing of luminous skin and dramatic eyes. I’d love to hear your preferred method for applying the Luminous Foundation. Are you a brush enthusiast? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the difference in the finished look when foundation is applied with a brush versus with fingertips. 

CM: I like to use all methods for foundation, brushes, sponges, and yes, fingertips.  Tools are more helpful if the formulation is liquid and runnier as you can get a little more control. Fingers and hands can be great when used as an "instant palette" for thicker, more heavily pigmented foundations and concealers. The warmth of your hands melt and break it down so you don't apply too much. With the Dolce&Gabbana Luminous Foundation I usually apply it with a foundation brush first, starting in center of face working outwards, and then finessing with fingertips and sometimes a sponge, as I blend outwards to a seamless and sheer finish.

FD: It’s refreshing to see the Summer Shine look emphasize facial curvatures by way of highlighting rather than shading. I love this for creating a radiant summer look. Could you offer tips for giving the illusion of fuller cheekbones by placing the Dolce Illuminator in just the right spot? It’s often a challenge to nail the art of placement without going overboard. 

CM: Highlighting the face with contour and dimension is so big right now! The new Dolce&Gabbana illuminator in Luna works incredibly well in tandem with the Bronzers and Cheek Colors because it illuminates the cheekbones and makes them pop when applied over the color. It really brightens things up!  I like to sculpt with a gorgeous Bronzer such as Desert first, under the cheekbone area, lightly dust the "apples" of the cheeks (i.e where you smile) with a peach or pink blush. The Illuminator goes on the upper outer cheekbone area, just below the eye contour area. Your guide is about halfway between your outer nose and outer eye area, where the light hits. Lightly dusted over the whole area, blending, blending - blending. It's also great as a brightening base for the whole eyelid and brow area, as it functions as a finishing powder. 

FD: Matte red lips done well are a sensual statement on a woman. What professional advice can you give to us on achieving a flawless finished lip when daring to use such a richly pigmented lipstick as Dolce Matte? 

CM: Dolce&Gabbana Dolce Matte Lipsticks rock! They are the most amazing rich velvet lipsticks, packed with color.  The application is very smooth, especially for intense color with such a matte finish. I tend to apply it to the bottom lip first. That's easiest and the fullest area so you get an immediate sense of the color. Then I lightly rub the lips together to transfer the color straight up to the top lip.  This gives a great natural shape to the lips. Then I use a brush to finesse the edges, making the outside line more precise. Then if I want to really go for long wear, or super precise shape, I'll use a Dolce&Gabbana Precision Lip Liner Pencil in the corresponding shade to make the lip edges flawless. The resulting look can be very dramatic; without the pencil the delivered look is that of a softer edge. Depends on the occasion! You can always blot the lips with a tissue and reapply the lipstick to make sure it's really not going anywhere! 

SHOP THE GLAMOROUS POST




So allow me to talk about a few of these items. I just tried the Aurealux Mask and could not believe the instant plumping it delivered. My skin absolutely glowed for a few days after use and somehow, magically, my makeup seems to glide over the skin now when applying. Hydration is definitely key, and even more so as your skin adjusts to changing seasons. 

I loved getting his thoughts on brushes versus fingertips for foundation application. I've learned the value of a brush, but I admit to being a creature of habit and LOVING my fingertips for immediate (albeit messy) application. Tools definitely keep the hands clean, and the result is a very different finished look.

For D&G's Luminous Foundation I would suggest that either method delivers a stunning look. The product comes in whipped cream or liquid formulas, so you can choose the one that best suits your preference. But, ladies... do consider sitting with a pro at the counter and discussing brushes. I'm leaning towards their use more and more for that airbrushed look we all crave.

And about those red lips - as you know I'm a nude lip girl. But... his insights on a "softer" version of this look were eye opening. I've actually never heard the suggestion to apply on bottom lip and let the pigment from that lip color the top. The result would certainly be softer and more natural. This is a look I might actually be willing to try! What a  brilliant suggestion for those of us looking for a less dramatic result. 

For highlighting I am smitten with the Luna Illuminator. Just enough shimmer, not glittery at all. It is absolutely stunning and, as the name implies, is as subtle as moonlight on your beautiful face. If you're looking for a believable glow on the peaks of your cheekbones, this gorgeous illuminating powder is the one you seek. It's a keeper!!! 

Now... about that event. Mark your calendars and get ready to get gorgeous. Christian will be here in Texas making everyone who sits in his chair more beautiful. It's a great opportunity to sit with a pro and try out a new look. He's sure to teach you quite a few new techniques and arm you with a new (or at least expertly improved) approach to warm weather beauty. 

Need more inspiration? Here's the D&G behind-the-scenes video exploring the skin-celebrating look: 

EVENT

Dolce&Gabbana Make Up Hosts Spring Looks Event with Christian McCulloch in Houston

WHO

Dolce&Gabbana National Makeup Artist, Christian McCulloch
Christian is known for his keen eye in designing chic and sophisticated beauty looks for top celebrities and major publications.  He has recently worked with: Kate Hudson, Camila Alves, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Bosworth, Emma Stone, Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes, Christina Hendricks, Olivia Wilde and major publications such as: Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Marie Claire.  

WHAT

Christian McCulloch and top Dolce&Gabbana make up artists will be on-hand to introduce the Dolce Matte Lipstick Collection and Dolce&Gabbana Summer Shine Collection and will be creating custom makeup applications inspired by Spring beauty trends.  

Customers are invited to make an appointment with Christian and the team as he reveals his insider makeup tips and demonstrates the newest Dolce&Gabbana trends and application techniques. 

WHEN/WHERE

May 30th, 2015; 11:00 – 7:00pm
Saks Fifth Avenue, The Galleria
5115 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77056

For appointments please call: (713) 627 – 0500 EXT. 5102

*Editor's Note: this is not a paid post, but the team at D&G Beauty were kind enough to send me a few samples to try. All opinions are authentic and unbiased and you can rest assured I do not author content or make product suggestions unless I'm personally impressed by the products and a fan of the brand.  See my FAQs for more on this and other topics. 

Wardrobe Management: Why You Need To KonMari It All...

Seriously. Aren't you tired of that overstuffed closet filled with "so-so" pieces of clothing? You are. I know you are. I'm sick of mine too. And while the litmus test "would I buy this today if I were shopping?" was good for a time, today I'm loving the much more challenging KonMari method.  

Marie Kondo's basic premise it to ask of each item in your possession this simple (yet profound) question: Does it bring you joy? Ooooh. That's a different question entirely, and the answer is a resounding "no" most of the time. This is an editing program I can fully get behind and finally dissect my wardrobe with purpose. 

Most of the images above are from the portfolio of Lisa Adams, LA's premier closet designer and the secret weapon behind many of those celebrity closets you fawn over on Pinterest. I admit to being a huge fan of her and her work. Not familiar? Watch this episode of Million Dollar Closets and consider yourself motivated to KonMari almost everything you own: 

Feeling Bookish: Falling Under Casa Bohemia's Spell...

It's no secret I harbor a love for Spanish-style architecture. Barrel tile roofs, ochre walls, arched doorways, ornate wrought iron accents - I love it all. We're lucky to have stunning examples of Mediterranean architecture here in Dallas. Drive through a pretty neighborhood and prepare to oooh and ahhh against your own will at the glory of these stunning stucco structures.

I went into my deep dive read of Casa Bohemia expecting to see beautiful examples of the elements mentioned above. It did not disappoint, page upon page of exquisite examples of ornate tiled floors and fanciful fountains. What surprised me, however, were the gorgeous homes that broke from my preconceived idea of the style. Modern creations with clean-lined furniture and sleek kitchens that still gave a nod to their Spanish design influence. The tie that binds these often diverse dwellings together is their inviting nature and almost palpable warmth. Perhaps it's a brick hearth or a stone interior wall, there is an inviting vibe and a relaxed feel achieved with the choice of materials, finish and design that unifies all of the homes featured in this beautiful book. 

Casa Bohemia: The Spanish-Style House is a cool book filled with even cooler casas. It would be difficult to choose a favorite, but if pressed I'd reveal that Casa Nequette (p. 73) was gorgeous. This was one of the homes that revealed a surprisingly modern interior hidden beneath a white stucco facade that reminded me of the Alamo. Once within it was a pleasant surprise to see rooms so cleanly designed Jeff Lewis would be proud. 

Don't get me wrong - there are many examples of ornate interiors filled with spectacular examples of what would traditionally be seen as Spanish-style (think: hanging tapestries, ornately carved poster beds in dark woods and elaborate iron candelabras), but Linda Leigh Paul makes a great case for broadening the definition of the quintessential bohemian casa.

Frankly, it felt like a vacation packed in a glossy book. Spectacular pools, cool tile floors, palm trees, scenic vistas and meandering bougainvillea transported me visually to enchanting houses all around the globe. If the real estate gods are good to me (and I trust they will be!) I'll one day have a bohemian casa of my own overlooking the water. In the meantime I'll keep dreaming of the romantic balustrades and arched french doors that only a Spanish-style home can offer. 

Art & Design: Light & Shadowplay by Anila Quayyum Agha...

Isn't this lovely? I just love the idea of light & shadows as the elements of a massive art installation. These images showcase the work of Anila Quayyum Agha and the photos instantly transport me to exotic Morocco with those intricate lace-like patterns formed from the cutouts. This is a must see, and if you're in or around Dallas you can view this at the Dallas Contemporary.

Learn more about Anila here and then please... go get your art on, friends! xoxo

Musings: On the Merits of a Life Edit...

This sums it up perfectly, doesn't it? Evaluate everything in your life and make decisions about the value everything holds. If it isn't bettering you, perhaps it's time to let it go. This could be an overflowing closet or an overstuffed social calendar. There's no shame in prioritizing yourself and your time. The life edit isn't just good for you, it's oddly freeing and empowering. This newfound freedom from real or imaginary weights will be deeply liberating and will offer you a fresh perspective on everything you've shuffled into the "keep" category.

So go ahead... donate those clothes, clean out those cabinets, carefully consider your future appointments, outsource a few tasks and focus on what really matters in life. The people, the projects, the relationships, the goals - make them your highest priorities and whittle away those things that work against that flow.  

I promise... the results of such an edit are worth it! 

xoxo
Franki 

Interview: Inside the Studio with Serena Dugan and Lily Kanter of Serena & Lily...

Ahhhh, Serena & Lily. Just thinking of the brand reminds me of trips to the beach while growing up in North Carolina. Salty air, boardwalks, sand dunes and a certain easy way of living are all part of the vibe this laid-back lifestyle brand suggests.

Last week I featured their initial capsule collection of apparel - the Serena & Lily's first foray into fashion. Seeing the simple silhouettes and everyday styling made realize that most clothing these days is over-designed. Somehow the creative minds behind this small collection had tapped into our collective desire for beautifully tailored clothing that feels effortless and natural to wear. They've created exactly that with these simple yet lovely dresses and casual separates - and managed to time the launch perfectly to coincide with our season of trips to the beach. Genius indeed. 

I'm pleased to share that I was able to interview Serena Dugan & Lily Kanter (yes, the real women behind the brand) to discover what makes them tick, what inspired these fresh pieces and whether or not we might see "mini-me" dresses coming online anytime soon (spoiler: nothing is impossible for these two).  

 
There’s no easy road, you have to remain optimistic, keep an open mind, and you have to be tenacious.
— Lily Kanter
 

Are you ready? You will be once you see their fantastic answers! Read on to get to know the brains behind this wildly successful lifestyle brand: 

Thank you ladies for taking time to dig a bit deeper into your capsule collection. I love that the collection was inspired by what you deemed a void in the market. I happen to agree. Where did you look for inspiration for the simple silhouettes for the Serena & Lily apparel? 

Serena Dugan:  I designed the collection to be classic in reference, flattering in fit, and timeless in your wardrobe.  I was the target audience for the collection, as it is exactly what I was missing and wanted to see.  Much of the collection was assembled around vintage pieces I had kept in my closet, knowing that they spoke not only to my aesthetic sensibility but to any female's...and were surprisingly hard to find.  

Your unique textile designs have played a key role in differentiating your brand. Tell us about the nuances of designing those textiles for dresses and pajamas versus those for bedding and other home textiles? 

SD: Ultimately designing for home and designing clothing is complementary. Our point of design differentiation for both categories is our attention to detail, quality construction, and our timeless silhouettes. We’re able to apply much of our knowledge of textiles and construction and production to apparel, while bringing a more feminine sensibility and fashion aesthetic.

I love that the limited collection focuses mainly on effortlessly chic dresses. Do you both find that dresses are your “go to” look for busy days? 

Lily Kanter: Yes, the shirt dress in particular is a favorite for me. The Jane dress is the perfect fit, impeccably tailored with just the right combination of fit and flare to take you from day to night. We are introducing four new colors with our fall collection, launching on 8/18.

You’ve imbued the capsule collection with that special southern California bohemian vibe, but still masterfully nailed the art of tailoring and fit. This must have been quite a learning process, moving from bedding and draperies into fitted garments. Tell us about that learning curve and what drove you to persist in spite of the challenges that are always paired with pushing ourselves to learn something entirely new. 

SD:  We learned that much like with home items, the fabric selection was incredibly important. We chose fabrics according to the fit and drape that we wanted the garment to have.  Our more tailored pieces needed fabrics with structure (which is why we chose an almost taffeta-like cotton for the party dress), and our flowy pieces needed to be silk, to get the effect that we were aiming for.  It’s not unlike décor:  You choose a material that fits the desired effect.

This is one of those instances where your brand extension leaves us (as fans and loyal customers) thinking “Yes, of course!” It feels like an organic and surprisingly obvious evolution of the Serena & Lily lifestyle brand. When did the idea first occur to dive into fashion and how long did it take from truly making the decision to develop a line until it hit production? 

SD: I’ve always wanted to design apparel, but it really began to take shape as we imagined people living in the environments we were creating for our catalog. It was a natural segue to envision their style and what they’re wearing.

It’s no secret that the collection as a whole has been favorably received. Many items are even sold out, so congratulations on nailing your vision and executing a very successful first foray into our closets! What has been the most satisfying part of seeing your creative and strategic vision come to fruition? 

SD: Many things about this collection and launch have been rewarding, but I think the best part has been seeing people react to and fall in love with the garments. I can’t wait to do it again for fall.

 
The entrepreneurs that succeed get knocked down every day, get up, brush themselves off, and start a new day.
— Lily Kanter
 

Can you share any insights for business owners and entrepreneurs considering extending their brand beyond what others might see as their obvious niche? 

LK: The entrepreneurs that succeed get knocked down every day, get up, brush themselves off, and start a new day. There’s no easy road, you have to remain optimistic, keep an open mind, and you have to be tenacious. Surround yourself with smarter people then yourself. I know I make it sound easy. It has not been easy and takes a lot of perseverance. 

As a mommy to two young girls I’ll just add this: I’d love to see a girls collection emerge next year. We live in cotton dresses all spring & summer long! 

LK: Nothing is out of the realm of possibility for us!


Oh, I love a duo on a mission, don't you? Based upon their vision, drive and history of successful designs I feel there's nothing out of reach for Serena & Lily - the women, the brand, the visionaries.  

SHOP A FEW OF MY SERENA & LILY FAVORITES



Love hearing entrepreneurial stories? Be sure to see my interview series, filled with inspiration and ideas for your mind & soul. 

Coveted Pieces: Stepping Up Your Sleepwear Game...

This is one area where i feel even the best of us falter: sleepwear. Let's face it - almost no one sees us in our jammies and this category of fashion essentials often falls to the bottom of the investment priority list.

Whether you're the t-shirt type or you're rocking a delicate silk negligee, there's likely some room for improvement in your nighttime wardrobe situation. I shall raise my hand high as a candidate that needs a major sartorial sleepy-time upgrade. I tend to favor the same look and would benefit from adding a wider variety of looks. And frankly, sometimes letting go is great to make room for new floral prettiness in this arena.

Favorite brands? Eberjey is absolutely a favorite. It's a "girl's girl" kind of brand with sleepwear that is feminine and girly but not impractical. I LOVE this brand above most others, but Anthropologie has one or two other lines that are hard to resist. I'm also a fan of chest support, it's just more comfortable. So fitted camis and chemises with at least some definition up top are the way to go. 

With that, let's see what's available to bring home so I can toss out my over-loved black cami & pants combo and add a little feminine glamour back into my dream state. 

SERIOUSLY CHIC SLEEPWEAR



Interested in a better night of sleep? Me too, sister! I was fortunate enough to ask linen expert Felicia Marquie, owner of Lucky Den, a few questions. Earlier this week she offered her insights on building the perfect bed top situation (think: luxurious sheets & cozy comforters) in my in-depth interview. I hope it will encourage you to focus more on the importance of sleep and bedtime rituals. Never underestimate the power of beauty sleep! The word beauty in the name says it all!  

Beauty: Discussing Skin-Saving Strategies with Dallas's Own Dr. Teotia...

One thing I'm learning is that "aging" starts from within us. Happiness may very well be the secret to long-lasting beauty & good looks, and stress is likely one of our greatest foes. Sadly, no amount of yoga can give us a truly stress-free existence and that big bright sun up above is determined to dash any hopes we all have of baby smooth skin forever. So... what's a beauty-loving girl to do? There are choices we can make from a young age (think: childhood & teen years) to preserve the physical beauty with which we are all born to enjoy. There are also decisions we can (and should) make as adults to put our foot down when it comes to lagging skin and a dull complexion. 

You've likely noticed I've been ramping up the sheer number of beauty posts here lately. It's definitely a passionate topic for me as I feel we are very much in control of the impact our lifestyle choices have on our appearance. Adding daily exercise, fresh greens and a clean diet will definitely give you a more radiant complexion and more energy. Drinking abundant water will keep you hydrated and balanced. Being happy will visibly show on your lovely visage. Sunscreen, while not sexy, will prevent you from prematurely aging. All of these things will help - and you should be doing every one of them. 

What we can't do, however, is stop the clock. But perhaps... perhaps we can at least slow it down a bit with the right topical products and in-office professional treatments.  

I've been holding back on kicking up my skin care regime until I felt I found the right skin guru to help me. Peels, microdermabrasion, injections... they can all seem a bit "out there" if you've merely been dipping into the day spa facial services all your life. For me, this is all about trusting the right professional to guide me to the right choices and help me choose appropriate products. And then... I met her. She completely changed my mind about upgrading my skin care and putting regular chemical peels on my calendar. Who is she? Dallas's very own Dr. Stephanie Teotia. And she's amazing. 

I sat down with the lovely Dr. Teotia to talk about face-saving strategies, advanced skin care products and a range of in-office beauty treatments. How often do I have an opportunity to ask a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon how she keeps her clients looking fresh, the "Golden Mean" and why we're so obsessed with those Kylie Jenner lips? Not often enough. Thus... I jumped at the chance to tap into her wisdom on our youth-obsessed culture and how we can indeed age gracefully and appropriately. 

This, dear friends, is what I learned:   

Dr. Stephanie Teotia


Dr. Stephanie Teotia

Dr. Teotia, you began our conversation with a discussion of lifestyle choices (smoking or non etc) and skin care. How much do those factors influence the condition of the skin and one’s appearance?

Lifestyle makes a huge difference in regard to appearance. I encourage my patients to exercise, eat nutrient rich foods, and take time to reflect. We know that smoking is harmful to our bodies. Smoking accelerates aging of the face and skin. Smokers are often not candidates for large cosmetic procedures. I saw a woman this week who was a great facelift candidate; however, she is an active smoker. Operating on her would be inviting wound healing problems. I love when patients stop smoking in order to have surgery! They both look and feel better.

At the practice, we try to practice what we preach. We have an outside vegetable garden growing near our clinic front door. We recently opened our location and have discussed having weekend yoga classes in our “clinic home” backyard.

The “Holy Trinity” of topical skin care seemed to include Sunscreen, Retin A (Trentinoin), and a skin lightener. What are the benefits of each?

I love the "Holy Trinity" term! Consistent use of a sunscreen is the simplest (yet most important) part of a beauty regimen. We all love a bronzed look; however, sun damage causes loss of skin elasticity resulting in wrinkles, sun spots and skin cancers.

Retin A (Trentinoin) is one of the few scientifically proven topical creams that rolls back time at the molecular level. Retin A acts by decreasing fine lines. It creates a smoother skin texture and helps to diminish brown spots. In Texas, Retin A is a prescription product which is dispensed by a pharmacy. Retinoids are the less potent cousin to Retin A and can be sold without a prescription. Retin A can cause skin redness and flaking. A patient should work with a health professional to adjust the strength or frequency of use.

Hyroquinone is a very effective skin lightener and is also a prescription product. It acts on the cells that make pigment to give an even skin tone. Hyroquinones are frequently used in the United States and are deemed safe by the FDA. However, the safety of hydrquinone has been disputed and use is banned in some countries. There are excellent natural alternatives to hydroquinone, including arbutus (from the bearberry plant), kojic acid and licorice root.

Both Retin A and and most skin lighteners make skin “sun sensitive” which is even more reason to use a sunscreen. I offer SkinMedica products in my office. I would encourage your readers to consider prescription products sold from a physician’s office. It is unfortunate that you can easily spend $400 on a jar of beauty goop at department stores. {Editor's note: she's speaking directly to all of us - or perhaps just me - with that one, isn't she? Oh, if I could recoup all the money lost an department store beauty counters... likely enough for a trip to Bali!}

Prevention is clearly the best cure. Sunscreen being the main factor in preventing visible signs of aging. What other products do you wish young patients would use and when do you recommend we all begin a regimen of the above three active ingredients?

Great question Franki. Rather than starting a specific product, I wish some products were banned. Specifically tanning beds. I realize some people "feel better" with UV light. However, it takes too much of a toll on skin. Regarding products, Vitamin C serums are great for younger (and older) patients as long as they do not have acne issues.

Sunscreens should be started in early childhood. Speak to your child's pediatrician regarding specific products and timing. Retin A is sometimes prescribed for acne and thus started at a young age. For aesthetic purposes, I would consider Retin A and a skin lightener in your 30’s.

Let’s talk treatments beyond topical. You are known for your very subtle technique when it comes to fillers and other injectibles. Describe your aesthetic approach and your philosophy on helping each patient look his or her unique best?

I first assess whether or not a patient is a surgical candidate. This decision is mostly based on the individual patient’s goals. We all see things that bother us when we look in the mirror. My main objective is to determine how to effectively and safely address the patient's concern. Facial soft tissue fillers (which increase facial volume) and neurotoxins (such as Botox) are a great alternative to surgery in the appropriate candidate. I am a bit unusual in that I do my own facial injections rather than having my staff do these procedures. Soft tissue fillers and neurotoxins are a great way to look refreshed. Unfortunately patients can appear overfilled. My philosophy is, “Less is sometimes more.” I tell patients that I am not doing my job correctly if anyone asks her or him, "Who is your plastic surgeon?" Results should elicit a response but be subtle. Instead patients should be asked, "Did you change your hair or go on vacation?"

You are a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. Could you share with my readers why that professional distinction is an important one to them?

Absolutely. Too often physicians will take weekend courses on performing liposuction or other procedures and then claim to be a Cosmetic or Plastic Surgeon. It is no wonder that there are a lot of bad results out there! A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon has completed an accredited residency training program; the current minimum is 6 years of surgical training after medical school. In addition, once in practice,the Board Certified Plastic Surgeon must pass rigorous written and oral exams. Every physician has different talents, abilities and beside manners.

However, certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) should give a patient a significant degree of comfort.

What do you wish new (or potential) patients knew about Botox®, Restylane® and other treatments? Are there common misconceptions or frequent questions you’d love to address?

Patients have often heard of Botox. However, they are not sure how it works and are concerned about safety. There are three neurotoxins on the US market at this time. These include Botox, Xeomin and Dysport. I use all three in my practice. Neurotoxins act by paralyzing the facial muscles that cause wrinkles. I only use these products in the upper third of the face (forehead, crows feet, between the eyes and to elevate the eyebrows) for aesthetic purposes. The product lasts for 4-6 months. Neurotoxins can also be used for excessive sweating of the hands or under the arms.

Facial soft tissue fillers are injected to recreate facial volume and harmony. The vast majority of the products that I inject are hyaluronic acid (HA) based. HA’s are naturally found in your body but also naturally break down in time. Thus, the fillers are temporary and last between 6 months to 2 years. It is fairly easy to inject these products. We use a numbing cream on the patients face, and injections are performed, in clinic, with the patient awake. I use different products in different areas based on the thickness and properties of the filler. Injections can fill in hollowing of the temples, cheek volume loss, tear troughs, nasolabial folds, pre-jowls — to name a few. It is pretty amazing how you can subtly change the structure of the face using these fillers. Make sure that your injector has significant experience.

Dr. Teotia, much like our prized relationships with personal hairstylists it seems that a long-term relationship with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon would yield the best results. Building the relationship over time develops a deeper understanding of the patient as well as provides a trusted medical professional to turn to for medical needs beyond beauty treatements. Do you find this to be true? 

Absolutely. You can often create a timeline with the patient regarding future treatments or procedures. The relationship often expands to other family members as well. You repair a laceration on their child's face or perform their mom's breast cancer reconstruction. 

Botox® seems unique to me in that it can (and perhaps should) be used preventatively. Would you share with us the long-term benefits of using Botox® (and similar products) before those pesky signs of aging begin to appear? 

When you paralyze a muscle, the muscle begins to waste away (similar to not exercising). It is movement of the forehead muscles and muscles around the eyes that cause lines in the upper face. In time, these lines become etched wrinkles that are present without muscular animation. Recurrent use of a neurotoxin in the upper third of the face helps prevent these lines from forming. However, the injector must know which muscles to paralyze and which ones to avoid. Detailed knowledge of facial anatomy is needed for the best result. 

Lip treatments are popular, and celebs like Kylie Jenner are fueling our cultural desire for fuller lips. What can you tell us the treatment and patient satisfaction?

I see a number of younger patients that want full lips. Other than breast augmentation, this is probably the most popular procedure on my 20-something patient age group. Older patients just want their lips back! Part of facial aging is elongation of the upper lip with turning in of the vermillion (the red part). Time causes you to lose your upper lip.

There are several ways to augment lips. Some options include silicone implants, fat injection, and placement of an acellular matrix sheet. I pretty much stick to injections with a hyaluronic acid based filler. The fillers are soft and can give a very natural look. I tend to be conservative - especially if the patient has not had lip augmentation before.

I spent a year operating on the lips of cleft patients during my Pediatric Craniofacial Fellowship. I learned that there are natural ratios to the size and projection of the upper and lower lip. Once these ratios are unbalanced the eye knows that the lips look “fake” or often duck-like.

It seems to me that our culture is fighting the signs of aging earlier than perhaps our mothers did. What tips can you offer readers for determining if it’s time to begin considering stepping up their skin care program by visiting a medical professional like yourself?

We maintain our cars. We update our software (it seems like continually). Why should it be a big deal to work on ourselves? There is a spectrum of treatments for different ages and goals. Protect your skin when young, and seek professional advise when signs of bothersome aging appear (note the word bothersome).

Your office! Can I just way how attentive and warm your staff and the environment is? I love that you are in a freestanding building and not in a hospital. What guided your decision to locate your practice in it’s current location?

I wanted patients to feel like they were at home or at least hanging out with good friends (who also happen to be qualified medical professionals). I checked out numerous options in the Dallas area. I was put off by parking issues and confusing medical campuses. Our "clinic home" affords patients both privacy and ease. Hospitals (my hospital privileges are at Baylor facilities) serve a great purpose. I always operate on larger cases in accredited facilities.

Is there anything else you’d love to share with my readers? We are eager to glean any wisdom and professional insights you can offer!

It is important for patients to know that I am a mom, wife and caregiver. I'm the one unloading the dishes in the evening (not that I want to)! As a female plastic surgeon, I feel that I can relate to most issues or concerns that my female patients express. The best part of my job is feeling like I get to know my patients well and knowing that they feel good about how they look and feel.

Also, I recently moved my plastic surgery practice to Dallas and I have to thank many people in the medical community for being so welcoming. Specifically, prior to his recent death, Dr Byron Brown gifted me his patients, phone number and his amazing nurse. Dr Brown was the Chairman of Plastic Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center for about 30 years. I am honored to try to follow his footsteps.

Beauty really is from the inside; however, it never hurts to look good on the outside as well. Investigate your physician and proposed treatments. If something doesn't seem to be right or fit your goals, then seek a second opinion.

PROFESSIONAL SKIN-SAVERS

A few of the SkinMedia products she offers that I'll be switching to:

So much knowledge and if you noticed - her preferred weapons against signs of aging are all tools YOU have at your disposal: healthy living, exercise, a positive outlook on life and SUNBLOCK. I can't stress sun care enough as it is near and dear to me. 

As mentioned above, Dr. Teotia's office is not in a hospital. Instead, she and her amazing staff have a freestanding building with ample sunlight and a terrific vibe. I was impressed with their selection of skin care products and, frankly, every touchpoint of her practice. She's rallied a great team of attentive employees who all seem to truly enjoy what they do. It seemed fun to tap into their world as well and give you their side of the skin care experience. 


Here's what Michelle from Dr. Teotia's team had to share: 

What is a typical day at Dr. Stephanie Teotia’s office like?

Our typical day consists of a busy schedule of consults, minor office procedures and Surgeries at our various facilities: Baylor University Medical Center, Baylor Surgical, Baylor Uptown, and Valley View.  

I am not only the Patient Coordinator, I am here Marketing Manager.  I work with the website developer, Facebook, RealSelf, as well as market around the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex.  Being as though we are new to this area I really try and market to other Surgeons, Dermatologists, OBGYN’s to get our Name and Business out there.  Also Bridal Boutiques, Hair Salons (Mens and Womens), Jewelry Stores, and even Restaurants and Retail.  

I discovered Dr. Stephanie via RealSelf.com. They seem to be dominating Google at the moment, so I'm guessing I'm not the only one! 

We are going on month 3 of RealSelf and are seeing a large amount of inquiries from the site. We stay active on it answering questions and posting before and after photos, as well as post offers on there as well.

Dallas girls (and boys!) are very into beauty treatments! What treatments performed at the office seem to be trending right now? 

We are always trying to stay up with the “latest trends” and right now we are offering a New type of procedure called the “Weekend Augmentation”: an outpatient procedure done under local, where you inject saline solution directly into the breasts for instant volume and enhancement.  It is virtually painless and gives the patient a temporary look for a Night out, Red Carpet Event, Wedding, etc.  It lasts 24-48 hours and right now we are offering a Special - for $1500.  It is a NEW and exciting procedure and Dr Teotia is one of the only Surgeons in Dallas offering it.  

Other than that, Breast Augmentations, Body Contouring, and Facelifts are always trending. Quite possibly our most popular surgeries. We also have a lot of patients come in for Botox, Fillers, and Chemical peels.  

I was impressed by the skin care products you offered. Which lines does the doctor recommend and which products seem to be the most highly prized? 

We carry SkinMedica, a great line that helps to refine pores, smooth and diminish wrinkles, and brighten & lighten dark pigmentation in the skin.  Many of our products include growth factors that helps build healthy collagen in the skin. 

I loved everything about my visit to your sunny office! Dr. Stephanie has a way of putting you at ease right away. What do patients seem to love most about her and the results she produces?

Dr. Teotia has a large, loyal patient following from Midland (where she practiced for a over a year)…and we love to have patients visit us from all over.  Not only those patients but ALL of our patients always give us a lot of feedback regarding the practice and state things such as “it is so inviting”, “it is so homey”, “i love how it doesn’t feel like a medical office” etc.

It is very nice to hear all the positive feedback.  

Is there something offered by Dr. Stephanie that you wish more patients (current, new or potential) knew about? 

One thing we really push on our end is the fact that Dr. Teotia is a FEMALE Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. We find that a lot of our patients come in stating that they found us on the internet by searching “Female Surgeon”….It is a breath of fresh air for our patients to meet Dr. Teotia and see that 1. she’s extremely personable, 2. she is FEMALE 3. she’s a mom and can relate to other women. {Editor's note: I agree! Standing face to face with another mommy was comforting and I instantly knew she "got it" when it came to my questions and concerns.}

It has to be fun seeing smiles on faces all day. What do you love most about your job? 

The thing I LOVE most about my job is meeting patients from ALL over with different ethnicities, backgrounds, cultures, etc and help them to change their lives…..give them confidence and put a smile on their face….I love the Medical Field (especially Plastic Surgery) because it is constantly changing and NEW and modern techniques are always coming out.  I believe in empowering people (especially women) and I am so blessed to be a part of Dr Teotia’s practice.  I feel we can be one of the BEST in the Nation :)


Suffice it to say I'm convinced. I am also actively planning out my peels and upgrading to better products - pronto. Thanks to this introduction I'm also no longer afraid to ramp it up and take preventative care much more seriously. Retin A is a must and those peels are sure to help kickstart my "get fresh-faced" program. Dr. Teotia's advice on skin care and lifestyle choices really hit home for me, as they are exactly in line with my personal beliefs and way of living. If you're still sitting on the sidelines wondering if you should step it up - the answer is yes. Start wearing sunblock immediately and find a highly qualified physician like I did to talk about stepping up your face-saving game. Your future self will thank you! 

(Editor's note: for those interested, Dr. Stephanie's profile is on RealSelf. As I discovered, you don't need to be seeking plastic surgery to see a physician for your skin care. And yes, I love that she's a female and "gets it" when it comes to our girly concerns! Plus, who better to trust for chemical peels and other in-office treatments than an expert? If you are in Dallas, her office has SkinMedica products for sale right at the front desk. Swing by & say hello!)

Tech Chic: Thrillseekers, Meet Lily, Your Drone Bestie...

Ever wish you had a camera crew follow you everywhere you went? That's Lily. She's a next-generation drone designed for extreme sports enthusiasts who are always on the move. Lily is rugged, GPS stabilized and totally agile enough to handle whatever path you blaze. To get her up and running you literally throw her up in the air and she stabilizes herself. Led by a device you wear yourself, she'll follow you wherever your surfing, parkouring, running, rockclimbing self will lead her. She's waterproof, flies herself and is equipped with a high-def 1080p camera ready to shoot video, slo-mo films or perfect stills. How seriously cool. Will be $999 when she hits the market. Pre-order now for a steep (think: 50%) discount and be the coolest early-adopter around. 

Note to self: learn parkour and give yourself a reason to own this amazing piece of tech. 

The Art of Living: Designing the Ultimate Bed for Dreamy Nights...

It's no secret I'm a little obsessed with bedding, linens and all things sweet dreams. I thought it would be fun to bring in the expert advice of a self-professed linen aficionado and glean wisdom from her personal experience and professional expertise. Who is she? Felicia Marquie, owner of luxury home goods and accessories boutique Lucky Den. She was kind enough to answer all of my questions about selecting the right sheets, caring for linens and making what she feels is the perfect bed. I hope you'll enjoy the read and more importantly, I hope you'll learn a few tips for guaranteeing your own night of blissful rest. 

(Also... read to the end for a special promotional discount to make achieving that perfect bed a bit easier on the Amex.)

Felicia, your love of fine linens and fabulous accessories certainly shines through on Lucky Den. What events led you to launch your online boutique?
Not to sound like a cliché, but I have always daydreamed of owning my own linen line and flagship store.  Lucky Den is the first step in accomplishing this dream.

Lucky Den carries several of my favorite brands. Lily Alessandra, Arte Italica, Ankasa, Trina Turk and others. What criteria do you use to select your vendors?
I am always looking for great design and exceptional quality, but my interest is piqued by how the item is made and the materials used to construct each item. Everything we use has a story behind it. We don’t always think about it; we just logon or walk into the store and buy it, but the product we sell at Lucky Den were once an idea that eventually materialized as a piece we like to showcase and sell.

Handmade versus machine made linens: break it down for us. Aside from the romance of a duvet was hand embroidered in Italy (which, in and of itself is pretty spectacular), what makes the quality of these artisan products superior?
The artists are creating heirlooms;  One might argue that the difference is in the eye of the beholder, but I believe that the relationship between an artist and their creation is passed on with care from one generation to the next, whereas many items mass produced are more disposable and not made for longevity.

One look at my bed and you’d definitely label me pampered princess. I love fluffy down comforters, pretty white sheets and embroidered pillows. They make me happy. Would you share with us how you dress your bed?
I thought you’d never ask. I love making my bed, and I do every morning. I start with removing everything except the fitted sheet and then start layering from there; starting with my flat sheet, which is smoothed out evenly on either side. I don’t tuck, my husband is not a fan. Next, I spread a cotton blanket over the flat sheet and then my coverlet goes on.  After that, I fold the coverlet, the blanket and the flat sheet back exposing the banded part of the flat sheet. Now I am ready to add my pillows, my many plush pillows. I use between two and three Euro shams on our Queen bed, one or two propped against the headboard and one flat next to them and two standard shams, one standard sham lays flat on top of the Euro sham and the other propped in front of the two Euro shams against the headboard. Lastly, I toss a couple decorative pillows in front of the standard shams and neatly fold my fluffy duvet in its cover at the foot of the bed. Now, I love bedding, and this is one of the more elaborate ways I like to dress my bed. I like to keep it fresh and rotate between several sets and my Euro shams get changed just as often as my sheets. My advice is to have fun with it and get in the habit of making your bed every morning because there is nothing else more relaxing after a long day than crawling into an inviting bed.  

Sateen versus percale. I know some people are firmly in one camp or the other. For me it’s a seasonal choice. Warm weather = percale. Cooler months = cozy sateen. I would love to hear your thoughts on this epic debate.
Ah, the debate continues; it is true, sateen or percale is a personal choice. I happen to be neutral on the subject. I have linen, silk, sateen, and percale sheets and long for each the same when they adorn my bed.

I’ve heard that three is the perfect number. How many sets of sheets do you feel savvy homeowners should have on hand for each bed?
Three is a good number because one is always in the laundry because of breakfast or picnic in bed spills, the occasional “I want clean sheets tonight” night. 

Talk to us about maintenance. How do you suggest we care for our linens?
It is all ways best to follow the care instructions on your linens. However, I would suggest line drying, weather permitting.  If you can’t, then remove them from the dryer before they are completely dry, damp, and air dry them around your home.  The aromas of the detergent and fabric softeners will lighten the home as a pleasant side effect.  

The weather is warming up and I’d love to lighten up my home. What three things would you suggest to freshen up and signal “summer is coming” inside the home?
Aside from changing your linens and air drying them around the home, I also like to lighten up the bathrooms with a new shower curtain, bath mat and towels to match. You can also bring the outside inside by adding freshly cut flowers to the rooms that you use the most and I am a big fan of filling the fruit bowl with seasonal fruit. The colors and aromas are fantastic for the sprit.   

My most important question… any tips for getting a better night of sleep?
Yes, and practice makes perfect. Prepare yourself for bedtime, start a ritual, a bedtime ritual that includes some pampering and do not bring electronics to bed. I am a firm believer in getting eight hours of sleep a night.

Since no one knows her merchandise as well as Felicia, I thought we'd ask her to point out her favorite products and give us some insights on why she adores them so. Let's peek at some of the special Lucky Den items she's featured:

SILK BEDDING 

You might not know this, but silk is practical enough for everyday use, and naturally hypoallergenic - making silk is a wonderful option for people suffering from allergies and asthma. And have you ever slept on a silk pillow? I rest my case. It's a luxury you'll try once and look forward to forever. Discover her Kumi Kookoon Classic and French Pleat options to make your bed a hypoallergenic haven. 

FRESH & CLEAN WHITES

Nothing beats the luxury-hotel bedding of choice: opulent white bedding. My personal favorite. Felicia has rounded up quite a few of her private selections as well. Begin by using Lili Alessandra's Therese Lace bedskirt, top the mattress with Lili Alessandra Lace sheeting, add Anichini's White Chevron Blanket, encase your duvet in Anichini White Claridge Linen Bedding, use Anichini's Canette Shams on your euros, place the Rani Arabella Duke throw in beige at the foot of the bed, finish with Pyra & Co's very opulent Lili Pillow - and voila! You've design your very own Ritz-Carlton worthy bed prepped for a serene night of shut eye. 

BRIGHT & CHEERY

You bolder types (and me on rare weeks!) will love this section. These are color-happy options that would make even Jonathan Adler downright giddy. She loves a mix of Stamattina's colorful orange Sophie bedding and the brand's Kyara bedding in 100% Egyptian cotton for a bit of pattern play. The Giulia sheeting & shams with it's single band of colored embroidery plays well with the previous two collections. Rani Arabella's orange cotton throw adds a moment of Hermes chic to the foot of the bed. Finish with an array of Pyra & Co's Janagali pillows in Tangerine for shimmery & colorful appeal. Now that's an anti-depressant bed! 

Now... about that sweet dream of a deal I mentioned earlier. Simply use code MEMORIALDAY15 at checkout to save 15% through (you guessed it) Memorial Day at Lucky Den and enjoy your blissfully chic nights at home. I hope you enjoyed learning the art of bed making and gleaned a bit of wisdom about selecting and caring for your linens. Thank you, Felicia, for your time! 

Objects of Desire: A Glamorous Punch of Color for My Desk

My eyes are suddenly ravenous for color. Bold, bright, unapologetic color. Happy color. The starting point was the discovery of a certain Christian Lacroix journal I spied at Neiman Marcus a day or so ago. From that moment I have been mentally assembling the other bold elements which need to play a role in what promises to be a colorful home office moment. 

I'm also blaming all of these amazing spring blooms (peonies are off the hook this season!) for my sudden need for an explosion of pink inside my house. It's a welcome shift from my usual cream & gold mix, and I love the idea of my interior color story being a moving, evolving creation.

So... what am I loving? Let me share...

Now you can see why that notebook held such power for me. The rest of these goodies will all play a role in my home office refresh. I've even considering adding a single wall of wallpaper to the mix. I've got my eyes on Speckled in Black from Chasing Paper and the "everyone has it but I still want one anyway" hair on hide zebra rug.  

So... what about you? Do you feel the urge for boldness in your desk area? A "life lift" that can be yours for the cost of a mere hardbound designer journal? If so, I hope you'll feel inspired to add a burst of energizing color to your home work area. Even if your "office" is a tiny bit of kitchen counter space (no shame in your game, right?), you deserve to feel pretty and powerful when handling your business. May the injection of happy hues bring light and love into your life. xoxo 

COLOR-INJECTED ACCESSORIES


Culinary Pursuits: Qui veut de délicieuses crêpes faites maison?

Food and literature have been intertwined for years. Under the Tuscan Sun inspired many to create authentic Italian countryside dishes. At the moment I'm reading two books making me yearn for authentic French food, the most accessible of these being crêpes.

Their simple preparation and fast cook time make crêpes ideal for weekend breakfast - especially if you have children with eager eyes and hungry stomachs. Which brings me to my next topic: encouraging these girls to crave healthy breakfasts when the western world seems bent on telling them a bowl of sugared flakes is the norm.

Crêpes - especially those of the savory variety - are rich in protein and vegetables. And did I mention how pretty they can be? Yes, sweet ones are all the rage and a fun treat, but for regular meals I love the idea of a chicken and broccoli crêpe or spinach and cheese. Both of these being easy to convince a your Francophile to try. 

A few quick and easy basics to help you channel your inner French girl (or guy): 

CREPE-MAKING ESSENTIALS

Ready to go beyond the basics? I thought so. Step up your crêpe game and brace yourself for an onslaught of compliments from your family & guests with a few culinary superstars: 

NEXT LEVEL ACCOUTREMENT

Now, about those books... I'm absolutely smitten with both. One is a novel that I can't put down and simultaneously hope never ends. Sadly I'll finish it this weekend, but every Loire Valley filled page of it has been inspiring and interesting. French Illusions has all the makings of a page-turner: tension, European travel and the potential for romance that never quite seems to pan out. An ambitious young American girl fibs her way into a lavish au pair position for a wealthy French family only to discover that perhaps lying about her language skills wasn't the most wise of plans. I won't spoil the story, but this is a fantastic read. 

My next recommendation is more of a reference book, but is so beautifully designed and chock full of useful information it is mind-blowing. I can't help but see the irony that The Farm-to-Table French Phrasebook would have helped the subject of the novel I'm reading navigate the terrain of her foreign surroundings with aplomb. Packed with foodie terms, cultural tips and everyday French phrases that will make even a novice sound like a local (well, except for that telltale accent). Even if you're not boarding the Boeing 777 Dreamliner soon you'll want to snag a copy of this book - if merely to entertain family and friends while you whip up those fancy crêpes. 

BOOKISH RECOMMENDATIONS

What I like most about these books is their non-touristy appeal. Both of them - in their own unique ways - are educating you on the nuances of French living, French language and the esteemed cultural cuisine. Reading each I've gained a getter understanding of customs, etiquette and an awareness of more pronounced and nuanced cultural differences. If you'd like a mini-vacation without lifting your passport from the drawer, consider these two books a delicious tour of French cuisine and cultural divides.

So now... Qui veut de délicieuses crêpes faites maison? Translation (courtesy of the fab Farm to Table book mentioned above) Who wants some delicious homemade crêpes? Answer: I believe we all do. Happy Weekend!