Monday, December 27, 2010

See You Next Year!

So…did you have the most spectacularly wonderful Christmas ever?  I sure hope so.  Mine was perfect, thanks for asking.  It’s almost hard to believe that- after all those weeks and months of planning- it’s over just like that.  It’s actually a bit of a bummer.  The good news, however, is that New Years is just around the corner- which means there are resolutions to be made, parties to be planned, and a slate that’s waiting to be wiped clean.  There’s nothing quite like a fresh start, don’t you think?  Which brings me to my next point…our oh so exciting re-launch of Design-Muse is just around the corner!  We’re taking this week to focus intensely on the re-design…I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive our lack of new content over the next few days.  When we come back next week you won’t even recognize the place so please make sure you check back in with us on January 3rd!  Happy New Year!
Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I don’t know if you’re aware of this…but tomorrow is Christmas.  In mere hours we’ll be eating, exchanging presents and taking part in the glorious traditions of the most anticipated day of the year.  As I get older, Christmas becomes more than just an exciting time but a very poignant one as well.  There’s no other season that encapsulates life’s most precious treasures- faith and family- the way Christmas does.  It’s magical.  Don’t miss this opportunity to eat ‘til you can’t move, laugh ‘til you can’t breathe and tell the important people in your life just how much you love them. Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale and Merry, Merry Christmas to you and yours!
p.s.- If you’re in the market for a life-changing Christmas tradition, try making some of this Williams Sonoma Pannetone French Toast tomorrow morning.  It’s a critical part of our annual Christmas Brunch and one of my favorite treats all year!
p.p.s- In case you didn’t know, the picture above is my Mom and I maaaaany years ago at Christmas.  It made me smile, so I thought I’d share. :)
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Me vs. Me

I have a long-standing theory that, unbeknownst to Max Azria, I am his muse.  From his color palates and fabric choices to the look of most every piece, I feel pretty confident that he’s designing for me or someone identical to me.  My Mom and I diverted from our Christmas shopping just long enough to take a quick stroll through one of his stores and oh…my…heavens.  Unreal.  One dress in particular stood out from the rest and we basked in it’s glory for as long as our very tightly packed schedule would allow.  I’ve been all but obsessing over it ever since.  Pictures don’t do it justice, but voilá!

I think this dress is perfection but interestingly enough, my first inclination was that it wouldn’t make a very good inspiration piece.  Give me a tutu any day of the week but tulle in home décor?  Never gonna work.  I set out to see if I could prove myself wrong.  Here’s what I found.

                                           Photo Credit: Absolutely Beautiful Things

In a strange kind of way, I love it.  Not nearly as much as the dress of course but it’s got personality out the wazoo and there’s something to be said for that.  Like most things, tulle in the wrong hands can go horribly, horribly wrong (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding, etc.) but add a little confidence and a splash of design savy and something gorgeous is sure to bloom.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Minute Gift Guide

By this point in the season, folks are pretty well divided into one of three groups.  
Group 1) Those who haven’t finished Christmas shopping because they procrastinated.
Group 2) Those who haven’t finished Christmas shopping because they’re obsessive about finding the perfect gift(s).
Group 3) Those who have finished Christmas shopping and will spend the remainder of the week gloating.   

Try as I may, I always seem to be denied admission to Group 3…SO, this post goes out to my fellow unprepared friends.  I just had to squeeze one more Holiday Gift Guide in before it was too late.  Christmas is coming whether we’re ready or not, so here’s to finding the perfect present…hope this helps!

Dear anyone buying me a Christmas present: I want one of these.

Rule of thumb: If it’s good enough for Audrey Hepburn, it’s good enough for me.

New from Free People’s children’s line ‘Wee People’.  Quite possibly the cutest little kids clothes I’ve ever seen.


Literally made from old NYC Plaza Hotel room numbers.  Amazingly cool.

When you hit snooze this little guy jumps off your nightstand, proceeds to hide somewhere in your room, and sets your alarm off again.  Seriously.  You can’t make that up.

French Bulldogs and cloth bound books...these are a few of my favorite things...

Look familiar? :)

Doesn’t get classier than Tea Forte.  

Perfect comfy blanket?  I’m thinking yes.
Monday, December 20, 2010

Home Sweet Anthropologie

I’m keeping things short and sweet today- if you’re at a loss for what to get any female in your life for Christmas, check out the Anthropologie gift selector.  I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone that didn’t love Anthropologie (or at least anyone that would admit it), which leads me to believe it’s a pretty safe bet.  It’s the best advice I can give you in ten minutes or less, which happens to be what I have to work with at the moment.  I’m hoping to post one last original gift guide tomorrow.  I’ve gotta keep all my procrastinating friends happy...considering today was the first time since Thanksgiving I walked into a mall, I’m thinking I may one day vie to be your queen. :)
Friday, December 17, 2010

Rent the Runway

Fancy dresses are my kryptonite….they have been my whole life.  The only tantrums I can remember throwing were regarding the prospect of wearing pants for any reason whatsoever.  If I could get away with an outburst of the same nature today, I might very well try.  In the past, I’ve veered away from sharing fashion tidbits in the interest of staying focused on interior design…however, I’m hoping to expand the scope of Design Muse to include all kinds of beautiful things.  We’ll talk more about that in January.  For today, I absolutely had to let you know about Rent the Runway- specifically their first ever clearance sale .  So here’s the story…two lovely ladies met at Harvard Business school, bonded over their mutual strong yet unrequited love of high fashion, and decided to build a business that would address their problem.  The result was Rent the Runway, a place where financially challenged fashionistas like themselves could rent rather than buy an amazing designer dress.  They offer a huge variety of dresses from nearly 100 designer collections in sizes from 0-12 and do a great job keeping the process simple.  Just pick out a dress, select two sizes (both are sent to ensure a good fit) decide when you’d like to schedule delivery, and mail the dresses back within four days in their pre-paid envelope.  Rent the Runway takes care of the dry cleaning and everything.  Depending on the dress, the cost ranges from $50-$350.  It’s a genius concept, but more amazing still is the clearance sale they’re running right now to clear up space for next season’s designs.  Instead of renting these fabulous designs, they’re yours to keep.  I browsed through the sale this morning and was so shocked by the prices I left a rather incoherent message on my BFF’s voicemail.  Check out my favorites below. 

Helmut Lang $610 Now $153

Gryphon $495 Now $87

Proenza Shouler $2,080 Now $225

Halston Heritage $295 Now $74

Badgley Mischka $550 Now $97

Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti $895 Now $224

Tibi $690 Now $173

Alice+Olivia $485 Now $122

Haute Hippie $695 Now $99

Thursday, December 16, 2010


The time for more resource sharing is now…and so- I present to you Taigon.  If you’re a fan of boutique shopping, then consider this my Christmas present to you because you’re in for all kinds of fun.  I think Taigan founder, Elizabeth Nichols, described the site best when she said, “Taigan makes it possible for consumers to shop at their favorite boutiques and takes the pain away from retailers setting up individual e-commerce solutions. We’ve connected online shoppers with specialty retailers and designers all over the country and also globally.”  The bottom line is this: many of the items you find on Taigon can’t be found * gasp * anywhere else on the Internet (when was the last time you even heard of such a thing?).  So, you get locally curated apparel, shoes, accessories, children’s, home, art, gourmet food, and jewelry boutique selections without having to spring on airfare.  Heck of a deal, eh? 
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wrapping Preview

Very few people have middle-of-the-road feelings about surprises…you either love them or hate them.  I, for one, am a lover but I know a couple haters as well (my Mom being the first one that comes to mind).  The fact that I’m so fond of surprises puts me in a bit of a tricky situation when it comes to gift guides and the like.  When I find something amazing I have to balance my desire to give it as a present with my impulse to share it…because once it’s “out there” the surprise is ruined and it’s too late.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  But true.  Today is about taking a few baby steps towards normalcy and sharing something that- typically- I’d keep under wraps until it was ready to be revealed.  I did some present wrapping today and was really happy with how pretty things turned out!  I wanted to share a few of the ideas I came up with while they’re still relevant (read: Pre-Christmas).  Since I put the name of one of the lucky recipients right on the packaging (my Best Friend’s soon-to-be-newborn niece, Carolina Lee, who’s due this Spring), it’s disrupting the element of surprise…but hey- check me out, I’m posting it anyway.  I’m progressing- right?  :) All the materials came from Targetlet me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Foundary

I mentioned yesterday that I’m going to need a little bit of your patience over the next few weeks and I wanted to expound on that for just a moment.  I’m happy to report that we’re launching a re-designed Design-Muse at the very beginning of next year!  The new site will feature everything you’ve grown to love about Design-Muse (including the archives) alongside brand new elements that are sure to take us all to the next level.  In terms of a launch date all I can tell you is I set a pretty ambitious goal, so the next few weeks are going to be all kinds of busy.  I don’t want to abandon this site in the meantime, however, so have no fear- I’ll continue to make brief daily posts here while I work to complete the NEW  I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the changes ahead.  I hope you’ll stay with us throughout this transition because the best is yet to come!

As for today, I wanted to do a little resource sharing.  I was introduced to a killer shopping website this past weekend…if you’re still working on your Christmas shopping (and how could you not be?) it’s definitely worth a look-see.  Their 5 W’s are as follows:
Who- The Foundary
What- A home essentials shopping website that offers limited time sales on carefully selected products at huge (up to 70% off!) discounts.  
When- New sales are launched daily and last three days.
Where- Click here.
Why- 2 part answer: 
Part 1) Why did they launch?  To work towards their goal of bringing a higher quality of life within reach.  
Part 2) Why do I love it? Great selection, great prices, and the cutest “mascots” of all time.  Look!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The "W" in Whoa

I’m a certified fan of the ‘Aha Moment’…if it was a Facebook page, I’d ‘like’ it…if it was a twitter account, I’d follow it….heck, if it was a person, I’d probably marry it.  Putting you in touch with an ‘Aha Moment’ of your very own is part of our missions’ statement and I hope, in your experience with Design-Muse, it’s something we’ve delivered on.  Truth be told, I had an ‘Aha Moment’ kind of weekend and I’m still a little over the top excited about it.  My time at the Lavish conference was so so so well spent and I want to apply everything I learned right this very second.  Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a process that’s going to come along with it.  I wanted to give you a heads up that something pretty amazing is in the works for Design-Muse and I have a wonderful feeling it’s going to be a turning point for us.  I’ll give you some more details as it gets closer, but for now let me just say this: Happy New Year just took on a whole new meaning.  In the meantime, I may need to ask for a little bit of your patience….but more on that later too.  As for today, I wanted to show you a glimpse of the fabulous hotel I stayed in over the weekend- the W in Buckhead.  I’ve got three syllables for you…A-ma-zing.  My favorite part was the monochromatic book collection behind the check-in desk.  It’s just that type of beautifully impractical accent that adds to the fantasy of the hotel experience.  Check out the lobby and our room- great right?!  Good work W- I’m hooked.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts that Give Back

Truth be told, I wasn’t planning on releasing another gift guide until next week…buuut…I just couldn’t help myself.  This one is extra special- all the gifts shown here come with a spot on the nice list….read the descriptions to find out why.  

Made by one of 87 women in war-torn Uganda.  Each hat is marked with the name of the woman who made it. 

With every pair you purchase, Toms will give a pair to a child in need.  One for one.

Creates sustainable business for women in Africa.

Every cent goes towards supporting men, women and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS globally.M.A.C. Viva Glam Lipstick  -$14.50


Since Generosity Water started two years ago, they’ve funded 108 water wells in 16 countries and given over 50,000 people access to clean, safe drinking water. 

Project AK-47 rescues, rehabilitates, and reintegrates child soldiers in Burma, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.  These stainless steel dog tags are marked with the name, age and country of an active child soldier who “officially” doesn’t exist. 

Thistle Farms is solely employed by residents or graduates of Magdalene, a residential program for women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution, and addiction.   


P.S.- I’m heading to Atlanta this weekend for Lavish- the first ever Lifestyle Blogging ‘UNconference’.  I’ve got high hopes…wish me luck!