Feeling Bookish: Windsor Smith Drops Serious Design Knowledge in Homefront...

I'll admit it. I went into reading this book believing I "knew" who Windsor Smith was and was familiar with the success of her brand, her products and her firm. I've been a fan of her for many years. From her high profile projects to her successful Design in a Box offering to her products and product collaborations. Yet I write this review today feeling humbled and truly inspired - not just from what she's achieved professionally, but from what she is capable of achieving as a human being.

Windsor is a serious powerhouse of ideas, innovation and - most importantly - a deep loving knowledge of how we live and aspire to live. Trust when I tell you: we all want to be Windsor Smith when we grow up. Seriously. Windsor's got game and appears to have mastered the art of living. 

While the currently accepted stamp of "arrival" at the top echelon the literary design scene is a foreword by Charlotte Moss, Windsor's book opens to a passage by none other than Gwyneth Paltrow herself. The Goop guru is a client and friend, having purchased a stunning Mandeville Canyon home designed by Windsor herself. The resulting real estate exchange was widely publicized and possibly the tipping point for bringing the name Windsor Smith to the forefront of everyone's mind. 

But, back to this gorgeous book...

Not only is is impressive in size, it it filled - filled! - with quality photographs of projects both popular and rare. I love adding a book to my collection that offers project details not normally seen online. This book achieves the lofty goal of being visually rich and offering tremendous wisdom from the designer herself. This is where I feel I really got to know so much more about her unparalleled understanding of how we live, how we want to live and how interior design plays a pivotal role in our enjoyment of life. 

Quite possibly the most appealing aspect of Homefront is its accessibility. It is written to appeal to everyone from the pedigreed designer to the curious design lover. Through thoughtful insights and an "arms open wide" generosity of spirit, Windsor brings us all into the fold of her excellent and practical advice for living and design. 

Homefront is like a master class for anyone looking to make more sense of their home environment and wishing to maximize both the usefulness of spaces and their beauty. Rather than pages of lofty concepts about furnishings and design, Homefront serves up specific tips and personal insights for truly "living" in your home.

While her historical knowledge of design and its many incarnations is impressive, the tome never reads like a textbook or comes off as too lofty. Windsor offers plenty of her signature warmth wrapped around applicable ideas for surrounding yourself with pieces you love. She freely shares thought-provoking insights on how rooms should be used and why you should consider mixing up the status quo.

If you haven't already read between the lines: I absolutely love this book. Consider me an even bigger fan of Windsor Smith, a seemingly unstoppable design force who deserves every moment of the success she is enjoying. 

Get to know Windsor Smith better via her portfolio, her collections and her blog. If her name is new to you, I hope this post has served as a great starting point for your appreciation of this great talent. Those of you like myself who consider themselves already familiar with Windsor will find yourselves in  awe of her talent, her passionate generosity of spirit and her love of "home" in this book. Book available hereEnjoy! 

Tot Fashion: Our Garden Party with Kate Mack...

It's no secret I love dressing these two little girls. A four year gap in their ages lends them a distinctly big sister / little sister dynamic. It's much easier to get a toddler dressed (and keep her clothes on) if she's inspired to look like her cooler sister. Our saving grace is a handful of brands that they both enjoy equally and that allow matching or coordinating outfits. 

While many of their "playground" clothes are from J. Crew and Tea Collection, no outfits are favored more than their Kate Mack / Biscotti pieces. These are always the most feminine, the most fabulous and the most beautiful pieces in the closet. 

If some of these pictures look familiar, they are from last year's photo shoot with my little ones frolicking in their Garden Party dresses from Kate Mack's spring/summer collection. They've worn these little pink creations countless times since then. Easter, tea parties, princess dress-up moments and just having fun - these ruffly dresses will possibly make an appearance. My favorite part? While frilly in appearance, they don't cause itching or scratching. At all. Rarely are pretty dresses comfortable, but these chic mesh-fabricated dresses wear just as effortlessly as an "everyday" look.  

We are constantly on the lookout for new pieces to add. Since Kate's seasonal colors and styles overlap, it makes it easy to coordinate one season's pieces seamlessly with the next. My oldest only stops wearing her Kate Mack (or Biscotti as it's often known) pieces once she's' outgrown them - then my littlest inherits them. It's a fabulous system. 

If she's being candid, my oldest would probably share that she loves that the outfits coordinate but aren't perfectly identical. My budding fashionista loves being just a bit different from her little sister. Who can blame her? Fashion is all about personal expression and showcasing your uniqueness. 

Since they've worn them so many times, I thought it would be fun to share the various "lives" the dresses have lived. I can say without hesitation that my daughters have made amazing memories in these little dresses. As a mom who adores her children, I can't possibly ask for more than that. I'm always thrilled when something they own brings them - and me - this much joy. 

Side note: you can find these brands at Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus (typically in-store, not online) & Nordstrom. (Insider tip: past season treasures can also occasionally be found at 6pm.com.)You will want to look under Kate Mack and Biscotti brands. Kate Mack offers more bathing suits online but if you search far & wide (especially on the brand's flagship site) you'll find full outfits for little & big kid sizing. Biscotti leans more towards baby & toddler apparel.  

On durability: Don't be put off by the delicate appearance. We have been astounded at the quality and construction of every piece we've ever purchased. This entire brand gets high marks from me, a very difficult mommy to please in the fashion department. We have coats, bathing suits, tunics, leggings and dresses all from this company and my only complaint is that my local stores don't carry more of it. (Perhaps I should have realize that dream of having my own children's boutique!)

Happy weekend, everyone! 

FRESH KATE MACK & BISCOTTI LOOKS



Current Obsession: The Slouchy Pink Satchel I Simply Must Own...

This lovely rose pink bag is my very next acquisition. Yes, I need a black tote, but I love everything about this delicate rose-hued satchel. A mere 13" x 10" x 6" means it fits my petite frame without being overbearing, but that inside capacity is a thing of beauty. It has only one flaw: no feet, but I suspect that's why it comes with a convenient cross-body strap. Those occasions that call for me to be hands-free are still achievable while keeping this pretty bag safe from harm. 

Wondering just how much it holds? This handy image above shows the storage capacity of the Tory Burch "Frances" handbag, making me pine for it even more. I'm not one to stuff a bag full, but if I were, this lovely satchel promises to hold my essentials and much more. Perhaps this can even convince me of its merits as a "work" bag for running off to see clients. 

Mother's Day is coming, you know. Perhaps you can tell my sweet, thoughtful, blog reading family that this is what I want this year. Pretty please, won't you? 

By the way, this useful beauty is available in a few other fabulous colors: black, taupe and this lovely pale pink. There are also a few colorblock options out there, but for me it's all about that rose pink leather. How about you?

WHERE TO SNAG THE BAG

Shopping: Louboutin Pumps & Polishes for All...

The single shoe every fashion editor can agree upon: the nude pump. This leg lengthening, silhouette slimming, go with everything wardrobe staple is a must-have according to every Nina Garcia out there. And yet, "nude" is that elusive shade that varies for every woman. Well, Louboutin is striving to bridge the skin tone gap by expanding their definition of the color. Now in five shades and a variety of style, you too can rock a pump that comes close to matching your unique version flesh, whether that be fair blush or rich chestnut. Did I mention, new nail colors were released as well? A match made in nudist heaven. 

SHOP NUDES FOR ALL



Still not convinced you need a nude heel? Dig a little deeper into your closet and your "what to wear" process and you might be swayed by the simplicity of this universally flattering option. Let these three experts share their reasons for adding this neutral pump to your footwear collection. 

EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON THIS NEUTRAL PUMP

 
 

Convinced? See the full collection of pumps & polishes at Bergdorf Goodman

Tot Fashion: Samantha's Spring Picks....

Samantha's style picks are always a hit. We thought we'd launch into spring and summer dressing with some of her favorite selections from J. Crew. But first... what does my precocious 7-year old pine for in an outfit? I'll allow her to elaborate... 

Q: Tell us about your style...
A: I'm kind of feminine and sporty at the same time. It's important to be girly and fun when you're a little girl. 

Q: On a typical day, what do you wear? 
A: Most days I wear leggings and a tunic or dress. I like the idea of having modesty and style at the same time. 

Q: Your sister is three. Do you two dress alike? 
A: Sometimes. We have some matching outfits, but not everything is alike. We love to match but some things don't come in mine or my sister's sizes. 

Q: What are your favorite brands?
A: Tea Collection, J. Crew, Kate Mack and Lilly Pulitzer for outfits. Most of these make it easy for my sister and I to find matchers. Sperry, Sam Edelman and Pediped for shoes. But winter is great when I can wear my Timberland boots!

Q: Let's talk hair. Headband, bow or ponytail for you? 
A: I like headbands the most because they are cute. They keep my hair back from my face. It's perfect for the playground. 

Q. Fashion icons: Which Disney princess do you think would have the best closet ever? 
A. I think Jasmine would have the best closet ever. Her dad was the Sultan and she sleeps in a red velvet bed. You know her closet would be great! Her dresses are amazing and she would have lots of gold and glitter on everything. Jasmine!

Q: Why are you shopping J. Crew for spring and what are you loving?
A. I like how bright and happy their dresses are. They have lots of color and happy patterns. Color and style equal one thing: cuteness! Also, they have sizes my sister and I can both wear. 

With that... here are some of her favorite looks - all on sale presently for an extra 30% off with code TIMETOSHOP. 

Neon Floral Tank Dress // Mila Cap Toe Ballet Flats // Peony Headband

EVERYDAY FLAIR

This outfit scores high points for it's on point preppy matching. The shoes really seal the deal on selling us on the fashion value of color coordination. Love that the dress could be dressed down with flip flops or make an appearance in Sunday church. Toss on navy leggings and it takes the playground by storm. Love this look!  

Embroidered Butterfly Dress // Capri Leggings // Neon Citron Headband // Silver Gladiator Sandals

COLORFUL FUN

This is one of those fun looks with amazing details. Samantha loves the embroidered design on the dress and those unexpected pops of neon. Capri leggings make this dress more casual and practical. Add metallic sandals and a floral headband and you're set for the day. 

Sundress in Flipped Hearts // Capri Leggings in Gold Foil // Cyrpus Sandals // Glitter Sunnies

GOLDIE LOCKS

Gold, gold, gold! This look is fun and fab all in one. This featherlight dress with gold and neon hearts in a (somehow) subtle pattern pair with these fun metallic leggings. Why stop here? Rock shimmering shoes and a fancy headband just to show the world you got this. 

The takeaway? A mix of girly details and practical styling makes it easy to dress little girls in fashion they love to wear. You can have your glitter and wear it too if you just know how to mix it up.  Stay tuned for more of Samantha's chic picks. 

Beauty: Facing Forward with Skin Care Infused Makeup...

Those of you following along have seen my recent quest to find the best foundation. I've been migrating from my long-standing favorite to something new and it's been an epic quest that has taken me to beauty counters far and wide. My deep search turned up lots of great experimentation, plenty of gems along the way and a few disappointments as well. Little did I know that my very first stop to the Chanel counter a few months ago would yield what I now deem as the very best of the best. 

First, a bit of background. I have combo skin that's drier on the cheeks and oilier in the t-zone. I'm not looking for full coverage, light to medium is  preferred. I'm also somewhat fair skinned with a light olive complexion with yellow-undertones. Those pinkish colors some lines are based upon simply won't work for me. I tan very easily, but I'm a slave to sunscreen so my face stays fairly pale, tipping me towards the lighter end of most color spectrums. 

Since I'm shifting from a tinted moisturizer I discovered that most true foundations felt uncomfortable to me. Many are are too thick, too dry and often too opaque for my taste. Even the "new breed" of lightweight foundations largely turned out to be a bit different from what my skin really craved. Besides, if I'm wearing this product all day it only makes sense that my color coverage could serve as a treatment of some sort as well.

So... what did I discover I loved? A CC cream AND a super lightweight foundation. Chanel to be exact, and I consider each of them to be a big surprise since they were products I initially thought weren't for me. In fact, my first trip out to find what was new and different on the scene led me to my Chanel counter at Neimans. The makeup pro on duty took no time to match me up with what she deemed to be my perfect shade and Holy Grail product. I resisted, turned off by the pedestrian squeeze bottle applicator. All the other Chanel products come in glossy pump top style bottles with frosted or clear glass. But I have to admit... she nailed it.  

Who can resist coverage, sun protection and a daily beauty treatment in one? Not this savvy babe! Chanel CC Cream adds an extra dose of moisture and SPF that I love. And the foundation? Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua. It does not come in a chic bottle (boo!), but the miraculous liquid inside is enough to completely sway me and win my devotion. Pair this with their Base Lumiere and brace yourself for surprisingly flawless skin that looks like you - only so much better - and lasts all day.  

So... why two products, you ask? Excellent question. 

In the process of searching for my skin soulmate I learned a lot about makeup in general. While I considered myself a cosmetic expert of sorts before, it became clear to me that technologies in this arena evolve quickly and I needed to up my game. It also became apparent that much like a jacket or dress wardrobe, one foundation (or tinted moisturizer or CC cream) would not be enough to prepare me for all occasions. Some days (or events) call for a more "finished" look and would require an upgrade to my normal dewy "my skin by better" appearance. 

Some days that CC cream is the solo star of the show. The result is a brighter look (it's a shade lighter than the foundation) with a more diffused, velvety matte finish. Other days I crave the dewy look that Vitalumiere Aqua (against all that I originally believed to be true) delivers. My favorite look, however, is a combination of the two. Together they achieve the perfect match for my skin color and my desired "dew" factor. I squeeze a tiny dot of both on the back of my hand and blend with my favorite brush for a look that is so realistic looking it almost fools me into thinking my natural complexion is perfect. (It is not!) Pores are diminished. Tone is even yet natural looking, I look healthy and radiant. This duet is that good!

Note: the CC Cream is limited to just three colors. I happen to be a near perfect match for Beige Clair 20. They also have JUST released Beige 40. Previously, the only other shade was Rose 30, a pinkish tinted cream. For Vitalumiere Aqua I was paired with Beige 20, a color I insisted (to every makeup artist who reached for the shade) was too dark. But it actually works. Neither of these products oxidize over time, so the color stays true all day. But mixing the two seems to lend staying power and creates a texture that is absolutely perfect for me. 

Another valuable lesson? Primers are miraculous but very difficult to select. I grew to love very few and loathe many others. Details make all the difference, and in this case that means I needed some convincing to realize that a loose powder would be necessary as well. Ewwww, I thought. Powder? Yes. Powder. I chose Chanel's Poudre Universelle Libre in the lightest shade. This isn't your great grandmother's powder puff (although admittedly she had a system that worked). Imagine a barely there veil of micro-fine mineral powder. A featherlight dusting of this with a kabuki brush acts as a miraculous last step to ensure that your flawless face is going to look "selfie ready" all day long. Note that this is a completely invisible powder that doesn't leave you chalky or powdered up. A tiny bit goes a long way and I just lightly dust the center of my face and around my eyes for an airbrushed finish.

FRESH FACED ALL STARS


Chanel CC Cream // Chanel Foundation Brush #6  // Chanel Base Lumiere // Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua // Chanel Universelle Powder // Chanel Kabuki Touchup Brush

Remember those Tilbury products I fell hard for a few weeks ago? I still love them. In fact, Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder has landed a permanent spot in my makeup-meets-skincare arsenal. I'm discovering there will be seasons in Texas (I'm looking at you, Spring & Summer!) when Light Wonder is just too hydrating (humid days are one example). On drier days (think: all fall & winter) this magical tube of moisturizing-Beyonce-beauty-enducing-fluid is exactly what I reach for. Sadly, right now (note: we've had more rain this spring than I ever recall seeing in Dallas. Ever.) it leaves me feeling just a tad too wet and dewy. In addition, I'm cycling off my retinol products for a few weeks which is likely affecting the dryness of my skin. Don't count this magical tube of goodness out for me. 

I can tell you this: on days when I wear Light Wonder, I am greeted at the end of the day by a plumper, firmer, smoother face with pores vanquished. It absolutely lives up to its skincare meets makeup claims. This tube of color is beyond AWESOME and if I'm being honest with myself, I'd be a fool to ever let this run out. For reference, I wear a color 04. I stand by my words that it is a miraculous skincare-meets-makeup product that each of us should own.

Just writing it out makes me realize it's likely less about her product and more about my current skin situation. I LOVE this stuff and on days when I am in a hurry, Light Wonder Foundation easily replaces my moisturizer, primer AND foundation. I absolutely love it and am beyond happy to have discovered it. Consider this a mainstay in my "get glam" arsenal. 

MORE FRESH FACED ALL STARS

Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow // Charlotte Tilbury Retoucher Pen //  Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation

So... what about all those other products I tried? Guerlain, Sisley, NARS and more. Many of them were amazing, and a few of them are still in my repertoire of awesomeness. In a few upcoming posts I'll share the best of my recent discoveries and my thoughts on them. There's so much to share and so much wisdom to impart. If I can save you some time on your journey to a flawless face, I'm happy to do so! 

Feeling Bookish: Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Triumphant Journey...

I remember the initial wave of the Shabby Chic obsession. Suddenly, everywhere you looked there were Rachel Ashwell books, achingly beautiful distressed chests and French linens that could make you weak at the knees. Her signature blend of cozy, casual & feminine finds were everywhere. Oprah, E!, magazines, shows... it was Rachel Ashwell fever and no one was immune to catching it. 

The epic white slipcovered obsession seemed to begin with Hollywood's elite and land somewhere in middle America. Everyone was hooked and longed for her flea market finds and lovingly restored furnishings. And then... it ended as soon as it began. 

At the time I was unaware of the heartache this single mother endured as she watched her Santa Monica boutique (as well as the others scattered about the country) and her fanciful empire of matelassé and vintage French chandeliers crumble. 

Rachel's business and her brand were wildly popular and successful. Celebrities and the fans who loved them couldn't get enough of her signature style. But when investors joined her business and pushed her too expand too rapidly and steer her away from what she knew instinctively her clients wanted - bankruptcy was imminent. 

What got me through hating myself for ignoring my intuition was looking at these kind, smart men who had put a lot of money into my company. I kept thinking, “they know what they’re doing.”
— Rachel Ashwell

In The World of Shabby Chic, Rachel reveals her private perspective on what many saw as a public failure. As happens so often with great championships, "failure" was just a speed bump on her path to massive success. 

The true story of Rachel Ashwell is so deeply inspiring. Undeterred by what others might have seen as the end, Rachel seized the moment at the end of one era to bring her business back in line with her original vision. The broad, homogenous vision those investors held of Shabby Chic was gone. Yet Rachel's smaller, hand-selected, approachable brand and design ethos were what the public at large still yearned for.

Back with a vigor, Rachel came back. Shabby Chic reemerged at the intimate scale as it was intended - back to the marketplace. From that pivotal moment on,  Rachel has led the brand her way -  not letting outside investors interfere with what her instincts assure her is right.

I would be difficult to articulate the impact this story holds me right now. What seemed like the end of her brand in 2009 with the shuttering of numerous boutiques and the loss of jobs for her 200 employees, turned around and brought Rachel renewed focus, restored vision and a thriving business. Her own business. One that holds true to her creative vision and the special touches she intuitively knows to be authentic. 

When you have everything stripped away, you can come back a bit more objectively and think, What is worth bringing back?
— Rachel Ashwell

Fair warning: you might read this book and feel a burning desire to hit up your local flea market in hopes of scoring your own spectacular finds. You might also find yourself longing to visit her original Santa Monica boutique. I certainly have (although I've done the flea market thing and always come up dry!).

I was a big fan of Rachel's inviting aesthetic prior to reading this lovely book. Now that I know the story behind the brand I am a huge champion of hers personally. In addition to going into detail about her professional and personal journey to success, Rachel shares plenty of beautiful imagery in this book. The World of Shabby Chic is inspiring, elegant and easy on the eyes. Effortless rooms beg you to settle in and cozy up with a book, a friend, a daughter or a spare moment. This substantial book will deliver Inspiration of every sort from cover to glorious cover whether you're a reader, a picture lover or a biography fan. 

Consider this a fabulous gift recommendation for that special someone on your list. If you need a nudge of encouragement to forge on, to trust your own instincts and to follow what you know to be true, Rachel Ashwell's personal story is high on my suggestion list. For those of you who just want a book filled with pretty images, add this to your coffee table immediately. 

Now... I'm off to to do some measuring for slipcovers and quite possibly transform my living room and my life in one fell swoop. Consider me quite inspired. 

DIG INTO RACHEL'S SHABBY CHIC WORLD

BRINGING THAT SHABBY CHIC FEELING HOME

Hungry for authentic Shabby Chic brand furniture for your home? If, like me, you're not near the flagship showroom or one of the other boutiques, pop over to One Kings Lane quickly and snag some authentic Rachel Ashwell pieces for much less than retail. But don't delay, those babies will be gone before you know it! 

SHOP SHABBY CHIC ON ONE KINGS LANE

Tot Fashion: Mini Me Chic...

While we may not have snagged any of her collection for Target, we can rest assured classic Lilly Pulitzer is still available. Some of you up north may not "get it", but here in the hotter climates we love bright sundresses. Girls of all ages (even grandmothers) are proud to rock an aqua floral frock.

But do you know what's even cuter? Seeing little girls in their Lilly. Seriously, seriously cute. These cheery dresses end up being our go-to looks for summer. Now that my "baby" is technically a young girl now at three, let the fashion fun begin. These two sisters can once again rock matching looks - and if so inclined, I can join in on the flamingo bedecked fun. 

Warning: The color shy need not apply, Lilly built her eponymous business on happy colors and playful prints. Giraffes, elephants, lions, palm trees, pineapples - you name it. All in the name of festive patterns and "out there" prints that somehow read preppy, pretty and perfect. What's not to love? Get your Lilly fix here and let the sun shine on you and your mini.

PRETTY PULITZER FAVORITES


Shopping: Palm Tree Chic...

If internet uproar is to be believed, I should be staunchly against Lilly Pulitzer for Target. But, sorry... it's fresh and adorable. And yes, we're headed up to go see (what's left of) it. While most will be fussing over the dresses (which are amazing), I'll be hunting for those chic home goods. Colorful glasses, glam textured white dishes with gold rims. It's all quite pretty. It's very in line with Lilly's aesthetic and I'm eager to seek inspiration from seeing it in person. Prayers up to the palm tree gods that those sweet coffee cups are still available! 

Entertaining: Chalking It Up to Experience...

While some of us keep expecting the global love affair with chalk to fade away (no pun intended), love of this forgiving medium only seems to be growing stronger. Call it the cafe effect if you will, but hostesses everywhere are having fun discovering myriad uses (and surfaces) for those useful custom identifiers and personalized messages. Put frankly, guests love seeing their name on pretty handwritten cards and savvy entertainers love the flexibility of the last minute menu changes this style of display affords. 

My secret weapon? Chalk Ink markers with what they call a chisel tip. Being a classic girl, I adore the white and metallic gold & silver versions. But don't limit yourself to my preferences. These handy tools come in every color from neon orange to pastel pink, giving you complete control over design and the mood you wish to project. And that chisel tip gives you the ability to lend a calligrapher's look to the most simple of applications. All while keeping your hands clean. As you might guess, I love that! 

Since chalk designs and the handwriting styles that accompany them have become a sub-genre of the art world, myriad options abound to aid you in improving your skills in this area. Skillshare offers lettering classes that will put you on your journey to developing an artist's flair regardless of the medium. YouTube is loaded with similar lessons. Don't overlook the power of Pinterest to lead you to inspired (and easy) skill honing sessions to improve your handwriting and mature your chalk-specific talents. 

Believe it or not, the use for chalk has gone beyond those French hens bearing a menu around their neck (although I do have a soft spot in my heart for those) .I love the idea of small chalk-friendly place cards at the table or with a bar cart listing out the available drink options.

Starbucks has trained us that menus and signage need not be boring or restricted to just text. Perhaps a little artistry is just the thing for the dinner table. Placemats that wipe clean might make for great entertainment for creative guests or little ones while you're whipping up a feast. It makes the time fly by and gives guests (or family members) something fun to do.

One thing I have certainly learned: personalization is something everyone, old or young, enjoys. From their name to custom illustrations celebrating their individuality, it's the small touches that transform simple parties into fabulous and fêtes. Details matter, and seeing your name on a napkin ring is a small touch that warms the heart. Lesson: make it personal, make it memorable.

A FEW FAVORITE CHALK PRODUCTS



The key is to use the tools at your disposal and exercise those creative muscles. Take a cue from glamorous weddings and the many ideas offered by pinterest. I love keeping it simple, but don't be afraid to demonstrate your creative freedom. After all, the best part of chalk is its impermanence. If you decide to make a change simply wipe away the design with a damp cloth and... voila! A blank slate is born. 

A FEW MORE CHALK-FRIENDLY OPTIONS


Remember, with a quick spray or brushstroke almost any surface can be transformed into a chalkboard. From and old picture frame to an entire wall. Those of you with an "I can do it" streak in your soul (you know who you are!) can feed your need to create with these easy products below: 

FOR THE DIY-INCLINED


Tot Decor: Celebrating the Mighty Twenty...

We've been experiencing quite a few visits from the tooth fairy in our house. She's leaving a trail of magical glitter on my daughter's nightstand and a very special pillow we've added just for this momentous occasion. This sweet little zebra-adorned accessory offers a little pouch for those middle of the night money-for-a-tooth exchanges to go down.

As a mommy who values the art of learning, I appreciate that my resident loose tooth princess now tells me casually that her lateral incisors are readying themselves to come out. Mighty Twenty offers handy a Tooth Tracker Journal that lets your toothless wonder document the journey of their visits from the tooth fairy (e.g. which tooth fell out when). It also educates them on what this process is all about - after all, losing your teeth can be a little scary at first. My daughter is learning quite a bit about oral health and dentistry for a freshly minted 7 year old, and I love that she's gaining confidence by understanding more about the process of getting her adult teeth. Add that to the fun of prepping her flashy pillow on those special nights when an incisor has come out and it's a magical memory maker we love having in our home. 

Visit Mighty Twenty to help your little ones celebrate this milestone in style!   

Visual Poetry: World's Most Magnificent Sites as Seen By A Drone...

Seriously.. I have ONE thing I desperately want at the moment. A drone. I know, I know... controversial at best. Truly, I just want to look at gorgeous houses and green areas, nothing nefarious here. Although, the idea of everyone having ready access to these makes me nervous enough to leave the recreational espionage activities to others. Anyway... seeing the world from a top-down perspective such as the images above is beyond awesome. These photographs are of some of the world's most spectacular "bucket list" sites as seen via high-powered drones equipped with phenomenal camera equipment. Impressive? You bet. In fact, some might say this is precisely how these structures were designed to be viewed. Seem a God's-eye view of the world is actually pretty spectacular.  {source}

Recipes: Tangy, Crunchy & Oh, So Good Korean Tacos...

The weather is warming up and, well, it's time to move the cooking and the dining outdoors for the season. If Dallas does one thing really well it's tacos of every variety. I discovered this recipe over on Half-Baked Harvest and can't wait to give ti a try. It does not look particularly healthy, but the photos speak for themselves! I'd have to skip the queso fresco due to my cheese allergy, but aside from that, this is exactly what I'm craving right now. Spicy, tangy, colorful and packed with texture & crunch. 

CHEF'S TOOLS


Ingredients

  • Korean Fried Chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons gojujang (Korean chile paste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 pound chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 pound cooked chow mein noodles or other thick asian noodles
  • Sweet Crunchy Asian Slaw
  • 3 cups mixed red and green cabbage
  • 2 carrots, sliced into match sticks
  • 2 red chiles, seeded + sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • black pepper, to taste
  • Topping
  • 4-8 warmed corn or flour tortillas or hard shell tacos
  • queso fresco
  • fresh cilantro
  • sesame seeds
  • picked ginger

Instructions

To make the slaw

In a medium bowl mix together the cabbage, carrots, red chilies, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, sesame seeds and black pepper. Toss well to combine and place in the fridge until ready to use, but no longer than a few hours or the cabbage will get soggy.

Make the Chicken

In a large bowl mix together minced or grated garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, jojujang, rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey. Set aside.

Heat a few inches of oil in a heavy bottom high sided skillet or pot to 350 degrees F.

Add the cooked noodles in 2 or 3 batches to the hot oil and fry until golden, 3-5 minutes. Drain on paper towel and then break into pieces. Set aside.

Whisk flour, cornstarch, and 2/3 cup water in another bowl. Add chicken chunks and toss. Working in batches, fry chicken until golden, 6–8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Return oil to 350 degrees F. Fry chicken a second time until crisp, 6–8 minutes more. Drain on paper towels. Add the chicken to the bowl with the sauce and toss well.

To Assemble

Divide the chicken among the warmed taco shells. Top with sesame seeds and slaw. If desired: add the crunchy noodles, cilantro and queso fresco. 

*Recipe via Half-Baked Harvest

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Boutiquing: Fine Luxury Linens from Kimberly House...

Easter is behind us, so it's on with summer decorating for me. Gone are the pastel objects that make egg hunt season so fun, and onward with colors and accents that remind us that summer is coming. 

Over the years I've developed a lovely selection of coral and shells that make tablescaping so much easier. This year I've added a few new linens to the mix in an effort to up my entertaining game. Embroidered linen pretty much makes me weak in the knees, and when I spied the Ornament collection from Kimberly House my eyes lit up like fireflies. Hand embroidered table runners and napkins just give a dining table that special vibe that shows your guests you're thrilled they came. It's the smallest of details that make the difference, and this is where these hemstitch accents really shine.

SETTING THE TABLE

On my table: Kim Seybert Placemats (similar above) but all are gorgeous! // Williams Sonoma Water Goblets // Bianca Dinnerware // Mini Starfish // Assorted Coral & here

I'm using the Ornament Runner & Napkins to set the stage for summer dining. Frankly, the site offers so many beautiful creations you might be challenged to find just one design you like. But for me, a medallion type design always steals the show and looks timeless. 

The overall vibe of Kimberly House is one of finely made goods crafted from natural, high quality materials. Think: beautiful living with simple, elegant details. Products range from linens and towels, to purses and candles, table runners, napkins, and even a baby line which features quilts, sheets, sleep sacks, clothing, and adorable bib and burp cloth sets. With baby shower season quickly approaching (is it ever really NOT baby shower season?) I thought you'd love knowing these amazing gifts options were available. Bonus: these selections are so uncommon you'll be the only one at the fete with your special gift in tow.

About my images: Pardon the poor lighting, it's a hideous day here and I was eager to get my styling done today. Clearly there's more to do to set the stage for my summer-inspired table, but the sweet team at Kimberly House has been gracious enough to create a special offer just for you. 20% off your ENTIRE purchase. An elegant discount just when you need it - tax time! 

A FEW KIMBERLY HOUSE FAVORITES

Simply use code FRANKI20 at checkout April 15-May 1 for 20% off the entire Kimberly House site. Amazingly generous, of them! I hope you'll enjoy topping your table and adorning your home with these supremely fine linens. I can't wait to choose a few more. 

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Feeling Bookish: Diving Into the Tropical World of India Hicks...

I can think of no instagram account I follow that plays out like a fantasy as much as India Hicks. From swimming with pigs in the Bahamas (yes, it's a thing) to zip lining through a lush green forest, this model-turned-designer-turned-author is living the life we all dream of living. Only it's her life - and her family's life - right here, right now.

For a woman with so many hyphens in her professional title, her lifestyle and her general vibe is one of ease, acceptance and balance. Her newest book Island Style celebrates that effortless bohemian style she's known for exuding and embracing. India's aesthetic is undone and fuss free, but also filled with fanciful flourishes and unexpected details. When you think of India's decorating style, it's a unique melange of formal British Colonial meets the carefree spirit of the Caribbean. 

Island Style invites us all to slide into our metallic espadrilles and find comfort in the shade in a hammock alongside she and her naturally tanned brood. Their smiles are infections, and even more reason to urge you to channel some of her laid-back sensibilities into your over-scheduled life. The timeless homes she designs are strikingly gorgeous and provide more stylistic range than I would have expected in a book of this title. Her eye for detail and breadth of knowledge is clear, as is her father's influence. The influential David Hicks would be incredibly proud of India's regal take on casual living. It is inspiring to see the wide range of styles that comprise island living. This stunning book she offers a roadmap for achieving a similar aesthetic into your own home.

This summary from the book's official release captures it perfectly:

"In ten chapters, India walks the reader through the basics of capturing the look: the subtle palette of island life; the miracle of tablescaping; the warm anarchy of a family kitchen; the pleasure of porches; the drama of entertaining; bedrooms as places of self-expression; the "more is more" style of living with collections; the importance of repurposing; and creating spaces of sanctuary." 

What makes India and this book so unique is how openly she invites us into her life via the pages. It is written from a very personal perspective, sharing her passion for scrapbooking, the importance of building collections, lovely details about her family life and her absolutely wonderful tips on design, living and entertaining. And through the photographs she fully opens the door to her love of family, entertaining and celebrating each day of life. 

Honestly, the whole book makes me want to sell it all and move my own small tribe to a warm sunny place with hammocks and swaying palms. Let me tell you, this woman knows how to live! India embraces life with a passion and an ease most of us could only hope to achieve. 

INFUSE YOUR LIFE WITH LAID-BACK ISLAND GLAMOUR




So find spot in the shade, fill up your glass with mango-infused tea and for a moment, just a moment, imagine swear you can feel the breeze from the sea on your skin, hear the waves crashing, breathing in the salty air as it blows the vibrant bougainvillea branches against against the shutters. Island Style will take you there and leave you inspired and empowered to lend a little of India's signature subtle boho glamour in your own home. 

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Outdoor Glamour: Lessons From the Garden...

That moment when you realize your grandmother totally had it going on (and still does) when it comes to living the dream. I was always impressed by the time and attention my grandparents gave to their garden.

They were farm-to-table before it was cool. But instead of a farm it was a lush suburban backyard with a decidedly English feel. Ivy, raised beds, herringbone brick patios, wrought iron furniture, sculptures with patina one could only wish for... seriously. Who knew these two dynamos were so cool? Well, I suppose I did on some level, but as the years pass I begin to realize how fully they have always embraced life and daily living. There are millions of lessons to be learned from these two. 

Fast forward to today and I'm trying to channel some of that good green energy of my own into my own patio and yard. We have two enormous rose bushes outside which are in full bloom right now. While I am a bit astonished by their wild and crazy ways, I can't help but be won over by their colorful pink blooms. One favors a delicate pale pink flower, the other a hot pink worthy of a Bollywood hit. Once in a while a wildcard blossom erupts with a flower divided into each of these bold opposites. To see our patio floor dusted in pink petals makes spring a very sweet time indeed. 

MY FAVORITE OUTDOOR ELEMENTS


But now the mission is mine to excel at container gardening. I've decided to add window boxes to a wall and to focus on adding a few gardenias to the mix via large urns. If you're a southerner, you'll know these fragrant shrubs are a favorite around here. They thrive in the heat and offer the most intoxicating scent to your outdoor living area. Those of you more prone to killing a plant (myself included!) might like Southern Living's video with tips on keeping these hearty plants alive. And that, in a nutshell is my plan. 

So... back to my awesome grandparents and those life lessons they offer by example. To this day, they have a robust and thriving back yard filled with colorful blooms are carefully chosen plants. They've gravitated towards far more fuss-free options as the years have passed, but the message is clear: care for the things you love and they will repay you in beauty and enjoyment. I can take absolutely no credit for the roses in the yard. They were here when we arrived and are never my favorite shrubs until spring brings their gratuitous display of wild pink blooms. The rest of the space is up to me. It's time to refill those empty urns and pots and make our covered area a floral paradise. It will be thrilling to see (and smell!) the gardenias in full bloom and turn our plain but ample patio into a private Shangri La. 

HERB GARDENING MADE EASY

But that farm to table (or more accurately, windowsill to pizza oven) concept. I know my girls LOVE the idea of growing their own herbs. A slew of good looking raised beds have cropped up on the market and herb garden starter kits are available everywhere I look. Choose your herbs of choice and get started today. Your meals will thank you and your family will benefit from taking part in the creation of the ingredients. You don't have to veer much further than the classic trio of parsley, basil and oregano. These three will get you going and offer much culinary inspiration! 

DINING AL FRESCO IN STYLE



What about you? What do you love to grow? Are you skilled at raising herb gardens and tending to your plants? Are you a rose aficionado? Is there wisdom you can impart to me? What plants do you love to grow in containers? I'd love to hear and learn from you!   

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Coveted Pieces: One-Piece Wonders...

Jumpers and rompers and playsuits... oh, my! While I've pledged my love for the dress this summer, there's one alternative look I'm always down for: the adult onesie. The idea is the same: pop on a single piece of clothing, accessorize and bolt. It is the season of sartorial ease. Since Texas is home to serious wind (I'm talking gust force gales that could make Marilyn blush), on breezy days it's often best to wear something guaranteed to stay put. Enter: jumpsuits, rompers and playsuits. Honestly, I thank God for the thoughtful souls that originated the concept and the designers who continue to love us by rolling out new options. All hail these wardrobe wonders! 

If you're looking for fuss-free dressing, you've just found it. Pair with heels or flats, it doesn't matter. The right piece is guaranteed to look good regardless of whether you turn it up or dial it down. Here are a few of my favorites: 

SHOP THESE ONE-PIECE WONDERS




Options abound. From strapless to long-sleeved, you can find these miracle workers in every style imaginable. I suggest you hone in on your summer style but don't be afraid to mix it up with a festive floral or pretty pink. Those of you who feel this look is reserved for weekends, think again. Top with a blazer or cardigan and you'll find many of these pieces work as well for the boardroom as it does the bistro. And trust me on this: you'll feel as cozy as if you wore your jammies all day while totally looking like you glammed up for the occasion. Win-win, baby!

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What to Wear: Channeling Effortless Island Style...

I've just finished reading the latest India Hicks book, Island Style, and it not only transported me to a breezier, more relaxed way of living, it has inspired me to loosen up my approach to spring and summer dressing. 

A kaftan is surely necessary. In fact, after this brutal winter (yes, even here in the south it was punishing by our standards) I'm eschewing the idea of any restrictive clothing. My mission: dresses & skirts all day every day. With one exception: culottes. My summer fashion edict is t approach the season with easy, breezy style that perhaps - just maybe - can help me channel some of India's unfussy approach to glamour. Think: Calypso St. Barths and you've nailed it. 

With this you'll see I've found the PERFECT summer tote. And I do mean perfect. Leave it to Tory to absolutely nail the straw tote. Pair it with these amazing metallic espadrilles and you are ready for the resort, the corner cafe or a fun afternoon out and about. 

GET THE LOOK: RESORT CHIC


And of course, no belle du jour look is complete without a sun-kissed glow on your beaming visage. I love a good bronzer-blush duo to give my face a milk dusting of bronzy-peachy goodness. Gloss up legs with a good gel to get that coveted gleaming gams look. Finish with a swipe of balm in the most delicious shade of tropical punch. You. Are. Done. 

SUN-KISSED BEAUTY

DRESSED FOR THE LAID-BACK OCCASION


Above are few more dresses to help you channel that vacation state of mind - even if it's Monday. I like them simple and swingy, but figure flattering too. And while I chiefly choose solids, a few prints are fun to mix it up. 

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Quotes: Work For It...

It's Monday, everyone! Time to rise and shine and make strides towards your best life. What simple actions can you take today to move the ball forward? What call are you putting off? What conversation is crucial to unblocking your path? What decision are you deliberating? The smallest steps are often the key to significant change. Be bold in your tiny actions and relish in the fact that they add up to major shifts in your life. 

Don't wish for it... work for it!