20 April 2014

It's been a while...

Hi friends! You may be wondering why I haven't blogged in a while. I'm taking a break to focus on a new venture, something I'm very excited about: a mobile app for dog lovers! It's called RendezWoof and it's a great way for pet owners to connect with each other and with helpful resources nearby. Meet up for puppy play dates, find your nearest park, groomer, vet, etc… Free download & available nationwide now. Check out RendezWoof and enjoy!

03 March 2014

Oscar Fashion 2014

Red Carpet fashion at the Oscars is always a visual treat.  The anticipation of "what will they wear" never gets old!  So let's take a look at some of the most buzzworthy looks of the evening.  Be sure and tune-in to Nashville's News Channel 2 WKRN in the morning to hear some of my comments on the looks of the evening.  

Jared Leto: Several men rocked the white jacket this year, and my favorite was definitely the always-stylish Jared Leto. He took it a step further by adding the red silk bowtie and shimmering buttons, subtle but a very nice touch. 

Lupita Nyong'o: All eyes were on Lupita Nyong'o after her recent fashion hits, particularly the caped red Ralph Lauren dress.  For the Oscars, a gorgeous blue Prada gown was made for her and it was effortlessly glamorous with a nod to old Hollywood with the pleats and simple lines.

Charlize Theron: This black Christian Dior dress is a great look. The interesting lines at the bust and the element of sheer on the lower half are both gorgeous details.

Sandra Bullock: The gathering on this Alexander McQueen gown is perfection, complementing Sandra's body perfectly and the deep color works very well with her hair and makeup, making those eyes really pop. It was a stunning gown without being overpowering.

Kristin Chenoweth: The deco-inspired gold Cavalli dress was a perfect choice, sparkly and patterned all over with a very structured top. You could tell she enjoyed wearing it and it matched her dazzling personality very well.

My least favorite was Amy Adams' tuxedo-inspired Gucci. In truth, it is a wonderful dress, but I expected more for this red carpet from her. The Oscars is a great place to go big and to take risks. It felt very safe and too simple, especially for someone with a body and personality as great as Amy. Making a bigger statement with hair or jewelry would have helped elevate this look.

10 September 2013

Fun Finds | Hester & Cook | Kitchen Papers

I have a new obsession: decorative papers from Hester & Cook.  Placemats, table runners, serving papers, coasters, napkins and much much more!

Exquisitely designed, these papers are the perfect unique touch to liven up your table or event.  Easy cleanup is just icing on the cake.  Here are a few ways I've used them...

Bar setup  |  Defines the area and keeps counters clean

Chargers underneath clear plastic plates  |  Sophisticated yet casual outdoor dinner

Cocktail party display  |  Invites guests to select their favorite glass

Placemats for a birthday brunch  |  Quick way to dress up the table

I'm dying to throw a party using this series featuring sketch designs of vintage couture, perfect for a bridal shower or an Oscar party! 

Visit www.HesterAndCook.com to see all of their designs and purchase your favorites.  Let me know how you enjoy them. 

08 May 2013

Teresa Aikens at Epiphany Design Studio

I am happy to let you all know that two of my favorite things have recently come together: my mom's artwork and Nashville's design studio Epiphany!  

My mom, Teresa Aikens, is a well respected arts educator from Mississippi who is gifted in so many different mediums: oil, sculpture, calligraphy, watercolor, etc...  Prior to her teaching career, she studied the origins and evolution of all types of art in college and beyond.  She has won Teacher of the Year awards, been commissioned for works at residential and commercial locations and was recently mentioned in Mississippi Magazine for her contributions to April's featured home.

Here are some of the paintings currently for sale at Epiphany in Nashville:

I know I am biased, but I also know these are truly beautiful works.  Using a flow technique, multiple layers of acrylic paint, traces of subtle iridescent elements and most importantly her artistic instinct, she pours her heart and talent into these- transforming each canvas into a delicious visual treat.  

As I have this one in my home, I can speak from experience when I say that its modern, abstract, fresh and subtle qualities are a perfect complement for Epiphany's style.  My home is filled with pieces from Epiphany that I love, so it's a thrill to see her works now placed throughout the showroom- kinda feels like home!

Stop by Epiphany to see them in person and pick one up for your home.

Epiphany Design Studio  
2115 8th Avenue South  |  Nashville, TN 37204  |  615.385.3289

06 May 2013

Travel: Paris 2013

I had the pleasure last month of traveling to Paris for the first time.  It was an unbelievable experience and I found myself overwhelmed at literally every turn.  Beauty is everywhere... the architecture, the people, the food- in everything!  I wanted to share a few of my favorite things from the trip with you all.  If you're in Paris, check these out.  If you've been and you have more to share, let me know!  I definitely plan to return, hopefully sooner than later.  

I traveled with family and we happened to be there over the Easter weekend, so we attended Easter Mass at Notre Dame- stunning.

The Louvre museum was overwhelming both in size and history.  The d'Orsay museum, across the Seine from the Louvre, I enjoyed the most though.  Impressionist artists are my favorite so it was a thrill to stroll through galleries with the works of Monet, Degas, Renoir and many others.  This is a view of the Louvre taken from the top of the d'Orsay. 

At the top of my list was a trip to the flea markets!  We traveled to the Clignancourt area, not the safest part of town but one filled with hidden treasures.  I was surprised by the amount of art deco pieces which were amazing but highly priced.  Along the side streets were many vendors who carried everything from postcards to jewelry to furniture to lace and all kinds of accessories and beautiful French treasures.  I also had some luck at a pop-up flea market under the Pont Alexandre bridge.

Touring Versailles was truly amazing.  The details in every square inch of the massive palace are breathtaking.  While the palace was impressive, my favorite part of the tour was the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's retreat on the property.  The light stone, minty blue doors, carvings and clean details are much more my style than the gilded overly-embellished main palace.  Some of the rooms could be straight out of a Restoration Hardware lookbook which I found very interesting.  Some things never go out of style or they certainly are cyclical. 

Laudree, home of the world's most delicious and beautiful macaroons, was a place we visited multiple times.  The packaging is breathtaking, the treats are so uniquely yummy and having coffee and cakes upstairs for lunch was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  

The Eiffel Tower of course was on our list of must-dos.  We first visited during the day (walking down the block afterwards to Le Tourville for the most amazing Oreo milkshake) and then we went back several times at night to watch it sparkle from the Trocadero... usually with nutella crepes and cafe au laits in hand! 

Speaking of food, I had my fair share of croque madames and wine.  At 8eu per bottle for great wines, how could I not?  Our apartment was located in the Latin Quarter and the Rue Mouffetard market was literally outside of our doorstep.  We enjoyed picking up chocolate croissants, quiche and other treats for breakfast each day.  We found a great cheese shop and visited the market for dinner several nights as well.  

Hotel Costes on Rue St Honore was a wonderful find, as their bar was quite the place to be.  The drinks were flowing and the atmosphere was infectious.  It's an interesting combination of antique French decor mixed with modern chic music.  The Pimms Cup was my favorite, but bring your wallet if you want one- 30eu each, ouch.  On Rue St Honore was also a really cool store called Colette.  Contrast is the only word that comes to mind for this store.  On the same floor you can find high end couture and plastic drink coasters, iphone covers and one-of-a-kind hand made shoes... a feast for the eyes and a great place for gifts.     

There were too many discoveries to cover in one single post, so if you're interested in more be sure and look up the Paris Opera House, Galleries Lafayette, Shakespeare & Company, Montmarte district, Hotel des Invalides and Champs Elysees. 

20 March 2013

Spring Wardrobe Strategy

I had the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Murphy from Nashville's News 2 WKRN this morning about wardrobe strategy and closet organization for Spring!  On this first day of Spring, we met to discuss ways to put your best foot forward this season.  

Here are a few tips:

Screen for Quality and Fit

It's important to make sure all of your essentials are up to par. Throughout the year, if your favorite heels have gotten a little too worn for example- now's the time to fix or replace them. Making sure your favorite items are in good condition is important to secure a firm foundation from which your wardrobe can be expanded. 

In addition to quality, this is the perfect time to scan for fit. If you've been working out getting ready for swimsuit season, now is the time to have that shirt tailored a little bit to make sure the lines are most flattering for your figure.

Identify Lonely Pieces

Next I would recommend looking into an often overlooked area- identifying what I call lonely pieces. Throughout the year we all pick up a top, a skirt, a fun pair of pants that we say "I'll find something to go with this" and then it ends up hanging in our closet forever. Spring is the time to pull out those unique pieces and figure out what to do with them. 

One major trend now for example is to pair bright bold patterns or colors with softer more subtle neutrals. So take that fun hot pink peplum top and mix it with a great camel colored skirt or bag.

One In, One Out

This concept focuses on closet maintenance from a quantity perspective.  As you introduce a new item into your life, my suggestion is to remove an item that you love less. Eventually you'll end up with a closet full of things that make you happy, and you'll be less cluttered along the way. 

The key here is coming to the realization that you can live without it. Believe it or not, the world of fashion will always produce fabulous new things that can replace the pieces you need to let go of. You just have to enjoy the search and seek out the pieces that best work for you!

17 March 2013

Easter Decor

One of my favorite holidays is upon us, Easter!  Kicking off the Spring season, I've always enjoyed its soft colors and joyful spirit.  Over the years I've collected Easter decor that I'm quite fond of.  Hand-painted wooden eggs from a local Nashville artist with flowers taken from antique hats are always the foundation of my table centerpiece.  A tradition in my family, antique postcards are also displayed around the house.  I enjoy their vintage artwork and the nice messages from the past they reveal even more.  I recently found the speckled egg shaped plates and ramekins at Williams-Sonoma.  Happy Easter banner with aged cut glass glitter is from Pottery Barn.  

Small boxes from Bella Ches add a bit of charm with vintage accents as well.  Whether you have an Easter egg hunt, travel to be with loved ones or simply enjoy a nice brunch with friends, cheers to a wonderful holiday!

27 February 2013

Oscar Fashion 2013

One of my favorite events of the year has arrived: The Academy Awards Red Carpet!  Oscar fashions are always a topic of conversation and inspiration.  The most current looks, good and bad, are paraded in a gorgeous display as the stars make their way into the theatre.  All of the top designers are represented, new trends emerge and fashionistas worldwide take note for their own adaptations and applications.  Below is a clip from Nashville News 2 where I had the pleasure of speaking on my thoughts of the evening. 

My favorite look of the night went to Stacy Keibler, pictured here below.  Her choice of this Naeem Kahn dress is stunning, which comes as no surprise as I later learned that the amazing Brad Goreski hand selected this for her.  The juxtaposition of '20s inspired draping and glamour with coarse industrial elements really caught my eye.  It is unique and edgy, but also classic and beautiful.  Flawless in my opinion.  She may not leave with an Oscar, but don't feel too bad for her- she takes home George Clooney and this amazing gown.

20 February 2013

For The Guys: A Few New Luxury Favorites

This one is for the guys and for those who wonder what they may need.  Ok... what they may want.  There are a few luxury pieces I can't seem to get out of my mind, some more attainable than others.  I hope you enjoy these findings, on your Pinterest boards if not in your actual closet.

First up is a preview of Spring- this awesome pair of slim fitting corduroy shorts from Slowear.  Priced at $295 on Mr. Porter, these aren't cheap but certainly aren't outrageous.  The pink color and corduroy texture both are very preppy, also modern.  This is a great length for guys- a few inches above the knee without being too short.  I love the stone colored shirt with this, juxtaposing a solid neutral with this loud short.  

Next is the perfect scent- Green Irish Tweed.  I've sung the praises of my favorite cologne brand Creed many times and will continue to do so.  No collection of fragrances has ever been so memorable or easily recognizable in my experience.  This particular scent has base notes of sandalwood, topped off with French verbena and Florentine iris.  Be sure to check this out for yourself or as a gift at Creed's online site or locally at Nordstrom in Nashville for $315.  

Alright, how much fun is this shoe?  It's available on pre-order from Saks for $895.  Gucci took a risk with this one, a studded leather cute-yet-tough shoe.  I'm a big fan of it, although I will be the first to admit there's a time and a place for this shoe- not an everyday look.  Would be great with jeans or shorts, slacks not so much unless they were very structured/slim/tailored and ankle length.

Something a bit more classic- this leather jacket by Rag & Bone.  Available at ssense for $1,395, this green color is a great masculine option to throw on with almost anything.  Quilted panels add great detail and the updated bomber style with slimmer lines helps to really stretch this piece from casual to a bit more dressy if desired.  

15 December 2012

Christmas Brunch

Each year, my Nashville family gathers for a very special occasion: Cousins' Christmas Brunch.  As we all travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas, this is a fun opportunity to celebrate the holidays together, a grown-up version of "the kids' table."  I chose a box mailer for the invitation with names in metallic on the front, tied with silver tinsel string.  Inside, the invitation rested on a bed of Christmas tree branches to give a nice holiday scent when opened. 

For the table, I wanted a very crisp and clean color palette: white tablecloth, silver chargers, Juliska Country Estate dishes, hammered silverware, grey monogrammed placecards, mercury glass votives, assorted glasses, white hydrangeas and roses with painted silver leaves and winter berries.  A small gift rested on each plate in a white lacquered box wrapped with white and silver tulle.  Cable knit vases, vintage ornaments and silver antlers added some texture.

I was pleased with the outcome of an etched vinyl applique which, similar to a sticker, was applied to an antique mirror.  This easily removable element added a nice touch.  I placed this on a small table to create a special mimosa corner in the room.  Here, I was happy to also debut my new favorite decorations: cut glass glitter reindeer with fur stoles adorned with snowflake and silver bell elements.  Bling on the holidays!

For brunch I served a breakfast casserole, fresh fruit, toast with sweet orange marmalade and zesty lemon cream cake.

We visited and laughed for a few hours before watching holiday movies and enjoying red-velvet cupcakes with eggnog filling and buttercream icing.  

It was a real treat to spend the day with loved ones and I had a wonderful time hosting.  The only downside to Christmas Brunch is that it happens only once a year. 

14 November 2012

New Stationery

Today is a great day; it is the day my new stationery has arrived!  I have always enjoyed writing and receiving handwritten notes, a lost art form I believe.  Although it had crossed my mind a million times, I had never before created completely custom stationery, place cards or gift tags.  

For the last few years I have relied on nice but somewhat standard and widely-available cards.  When the talented Allison Banks recently designed my new monogram, it commanded a stationery redesign on my part.  

I chose an urban grey cover weight paper stock for the note card and a white cotton envelope with European-inspired back flap.  The same paper stock was used for the gift tag and place card.  All pieces were foil stamped silver with a matte finish.  I am looking forward to using these new cards this holiday season and beyond.  Have you recently made a change to your stationery?  Tell me about your experience! 

16 September 2012

Fun Finds: Handmade Cocktail Glasses

While browsing one of my favorite online sources, Wisteria, I came across this great set of cocktail glasses. Priced at only $39, this set of six is perfect for hosting a small, intimate event. Each is unique and antique-inspired, a fusion of sophisticated design and relaxed fun. I had to share with you all- such a great deal!

09 September 2012

Antique-Inspired Jewelry: Pyrrha

Earlier today, my fabulous friend Rachel introduced me to a great line of jewelry, Pyrrha.  I've always admired intaglios, wax seals, crests and designs from times gone by.  This great brand takes these fragile pieces and gives them a fresh, more permanent life in sterling silver, bronze and gold.  Brad Pitt, Taylor Swift, Ryan Reynolds and Katie Holmes regularly wear Pyrrha.  These rustic yet beautiful designs are great dressed up or down.  A few of my favorites are below, the first one I just purchased for myself a few moments ago- exciting! Check out their website and pick your favorites. I love that each one tells the history and symbolism behind each design.  

27 August 2012

Modern Spin on Milk Glass

I recently saw this collection of white porcelain vases on Pinterest.  These similar-but-different containers immediately caught my eye, a great mixture of size and texture.  Inspired one could assume from antique pieces of milk glass, this new collection differs only in its apparent matte texture vs. the somewhat translucent quality vintage pieces have.  This set is priced appx $75. 

While in Mississippi this weekend, I came across a couple of vintage milk glass pieces I found interesting.  The goblet pictured below was $6 and the compote $1.5.  Milk glass can be a tricky thing to incorporate into your decor.  It can be a fresh and beautiful addition, but only when done tastefully.  Far too easily it could go from chic to granny.  I plan to pick up pieces from time to time at yard and estate sales with the goal of having ten to twelve by December to use in a holiday party tablescape full of these white containers filled with flowers and candy!

30 July 2012

Custom Monogram: Allison Banks Designs

I have always loved monograms.  A few months ago, I decided it was time to commission a custom monogram rather than selecting standard styles each time I have something monogrammed.  This will not only make future pieces more consistent, but unique to me as well.  

I am so thrilled with my new monogram that I had to share the final sketch with you and  let you know about the wonderful designer.  Allison Banks, of Allison Banks Designs, did a beautiful job!  I wanted a stacked, intertwined look as opposed to the usual three letters with the two smaller on either side, last name larger in middle.  The stacked letters look more custom and special to me and I love the different textures of lines and pearls.  The shield can be included in the design or can be separated.  This design looks very crisp and fresh, but also has a vintage/antique feel to it, which will lend itself to a variety of uses.  I am excited to place this on bed linens, stationery, invitations, napkins, name cards, ribbon, etc...