Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Though olive and grapefruit aren't the most traditional color combo (or food combo....ew...), they do make for an eye catching ensemble.  I love the way the scarf ties everything together- the color palate, the accessories- it all takes a cue from that lovely silk number.  I'd wear this in a millisecond...what about you?  

1. Grapefruit Commute Top, Modcloth $27.99  2. Brass Drop Earrings, Etro $640  3. Coralie Bag, Badgley Mischka $375  4. Parachute Satin Harem Pants, Willow $495  5. Chesil Scarf, Anthropologie $198  6. Marum Platform Sandals, ALDO $49.98  7. Super Lucia Sunglasses, Piperlime $150  8. Tribal Arrows Bracelet, Forever 21 $5.80

Fancy Friendships

Um, get this story- two best friends travel to Ecuador and incidentally rediscover their love of friendship bracelets.  They come home and add a few of their grandmothers' vintage brooches to their fun finds.  They're stopped on the street by a Women's Wear Daily reporter who likes their bracelets and runs a story on their unique style.  Two days after the story runs, they receive so much feedback they quit their jobs and go into full time jewelry design.  Since then, their company Frieda & Nellie has been featured in Elle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and The Oprah Magazine (among others) and you can purchase their line of jewelry at J. Crew, Barneys Co-Op or Henri Bendel.  Amazing, right?  That's a little something I like to call living the dream.  Not only do they have a bonafide "is this real life?"-esque story, they make a darn cool bracelet.  Each of their pieces is handmade, one of a kind and a total party for your arm.  I don't know about you, but I just added "think of something awesome" and "casually bump into someone influential" to this week's To Do list. mind=blown.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Get It Together: Green With Envy

1. Paci Pendant, Store03 $345  2. Oversized Zinc Letters, Anthropologie $98  3. Brass Knuckles Bookends, CB2 $19.95  4. Emerald Mohair Throw, Jayson Home & Garden $195  5. Gray Zig Zag Ikat Pillow, Store03 $45  6.  Chicago Trays, Jayson Home & Garden $78-$195  7. Emeco Hudson Rocking Chair, Design Public $845  8. Unison Reed Square Pillow, Design Public $52
Monday, August 29, 2011

Design Musings

Well.  I had a rough weekend, folks.  One of those Murphy's Law whirlwinds.  My hard drive crashed and needed to be replaced, so I literally lost every template, every picture, every bit of music, every everything on my computer.  Which stinks.  But it's time to come out of mourning and rebuild!  Since I have to start from scratch in every area, I'm gonna try a few new things...for example, this Design Musings template.  What do you guys think?  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Table for Twelve: Garden Tea Party

I wanted the summer's last Table for Twelve to be special...really special.  After a few brainstorming sessions, we decided what better way to bid summer adieu than with a big, floral bang?  My Mom and I hosted a garden tea party at my parents' South Jersey home and, for the first time ever, extended an invitation to a few faithful Design-Muse readers.  The resulting afternoon was lovely, personified.  I'm a big believer that any day that includes flowers, delicate food, tea and your grandmother's china has no choice but to be fabulous.  Our mismatched, antique place settings were a big hit, as were the napkin brooches (handmade by my talented Aunt Evelyn).  We decorated tables with hydrangeas, daisies and greens, all fresh from my Dad's garden.  The overall look was so dainty and feminine- exactly what I envisioned for our beautiful outdoor fĂȘte.

The food was, perhaps, my favorite part of the whole afternoon.  We filled the gazebo with crisp, white tablecloths, satin, an abundance of chandeliers and a wide assortment of finger foods.  There was mini quiche, lavender cupcakes, Watermelon gazpacho, Waldorf chicken salad, summer crostini, tassies and butterballs, madeline cookies, fresh fruit, cream puffs, a chocolate fountain and- of course- plenty of tea and scones.  We filled teacups with greenery and assorted garden surprises and used them to label each of the dishes.  It was ladylike to the fact, I'm sitting up a little straighter just remembering it.

By the time the guest list was completed we'd invited a lot of women...

 ..., but I couldn't imagine the day without every last one of them present.  I so appreciated their enthusiasm to be a part of this event!  Armed with only paper fans, they soaked up some serious sun and didn't mutter a single complaint.  Are they wonderful, or what?  As a small thank you for their support, everyone went home with the brooch from their place setting and a selection of artisan tea.

As I walked around admiring all the beautiful sundresses and watching ladies laugh and sip their tea, I was just so...happy.  It was the perfect way to spend the day- surrounded by incredible women enjoying a girly afternoon.

Thanks again to everyone who pitched in to help make the day so lovely.  For more information on this party or any of our other extravaganzas  (Pool Party, Sugary Sweet Goodbye PartyPicnic in the Park, Royal Wedding, Breakfast at Tiffany'sValentine's name a few)  or to find out about Design-Muse's party planning services, contact me here.  
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Paradise Island: Lillian

Welcome to the final post in our Paradise Island series!  I hope you've enjoyed the sneak peak into the lives of our Table for Twelve ladies...I think they picked out some pretty amazing selections, don't you?  If you missed anything- anything at all- you can get caught up here (missing out is never fun...just saying).  As for seems I saved the best for last.  Today's Paradise Island is all about my Mom, Lillian.  I've told you all about how wonderfully amazing she is before, and in a fabulous case of perfect timing, I've got a sweet girl on deck that wants to give that thought an "Amen".  However genuine my bragging on my Mom might be...she's still my Mom, so there's a degree of "well, of course you'd say that" involved.  So when Amy, the Lillian's Paintbrush crew chief, e-mailed me and asked if I would publish a message of gratitude for her on Design-Muse, I didn't think twice before saying yes.  Amy is one of the most treasured employees my Mom has ever had.  After making the difficult decision to resign and enroll at Valley Forge Christian College this fall, Amy had a few things she wanted to say publicly.  I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to give her the floor.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Amy and I have worked for Lillian's paintbrush for 7 years.  Sadly, yesterday was my last day as Lillian's employee.  I thought it would only be fitting to share my love and appreciation for Lillian with all of you.  Now where do I start?  I wish everyone could know Lillian personally.  She truly is an amazing woman.  Her heart is full of love for those around her.  She also has an abundance of patience.  Each time I am ready to complain or get annoyed with someone, Lillian sees the side of the other person and can defuse the situation with understanding.  Another way Lillian has inspired me to be patient is a saying she uses... "I choose to remain calm."  She explained to me that the one thing we have control over is our emotions and that we can choose to remain calm. 

Lillian is also very gracious, she is always ready to give and help those in need.  There have been many times I have been in a jam and Lillian has come to my rescue.  She also has been a blessing to my family. For those who know Lillian, I am sure you have been touched some way by her kindness.  She is that way with clients as well.  When we all are tired and ready to go home, she pushes us to go the extra mile to make sure the job site is spotless and error free.

On a lighter note, one thing I will truly miss is her ability to tell stories.  I have the worst time telling any type of story, so this quality I truly envy of Lillian.  I love hearing her ask "have you seen this movie?" because I know a detailed story is soon to follow. 

Lillian has been a joy to work for and I will always be grateful for all she has done.  I will always admire her and take what I have learned from her into my next journey. 

Lillian- You have been a dear friend, and inspiration, and a role model to me.  I thank God for you.  You have seen me through all my ups and downs.  I am thankful I got to share these 7 years with you not only as an employee but as a friend.  You and your family have been a blessing!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your love and support, for laughing with me and comforting me when I was down.  You're truly the best boss anyone could ask for!  I am forever grateful!

Q&A: Lillian would be famous for an unforgettable singing performance with a full orchestra.  Her celebrity BFF would be Marilyn Monroe and she would help her steal every last item in Eva Mendez's closet.  

1. Beyond Vintage Bead Detail Blouse, Piperlime $82.97  2. Wood Working Toolkit, Sunrise Exports  3. Betsey Johnson Teardrop Earrings, Macy's $35  4. Rouge Allure Lipstick, Chanel $32  5. The Dreamer Boot-Cut Jeans, Old Navy $17.50  6. SK-II LXP Moist Softening Serum, Bloomingdales $265  7. Clinique Quick Corrector, Nordstrom $14.50  8. Alexander Wang Oval Sunglasses, Saks Fifth Ave $369  9. Genoa Thong Sandals, Tommy Hilfiger $50

The Foodie Files

I've never been much of a pie person.  That's terrible, right?  I mean, it sounds downright un-American.  It's not that I dislike pie, it's just that- up until recently- I'd never craved it.  With the exception of a few moments during various Pushing Daises marathons, I'd never so much as thought about pie.  But weirdly enough, I've been desperate for a homemade peach pie for the last three weeks or so (out of the blue and for the first time ever).  Weirder still, when I finally got around to making it yesterday and googled "peach pie" for a few hints on what on earth a recipe might look like, I discovered it was National Peach Pie day!  Am I the only one who thinks thats the craziest thing ever!?  My non-excitable brother and cousin weren't quite as awestruck about my discovery, but I stand by the fact that that's amazing.  I was pretty thrilled at how the pie came out, especially since it was my first attempt (although how could I go wrong on National Peach Pie Day)!  What I ended up making was a variation of this recipe, although I definitely adjusted a few items.  Hope you enjoy it!  And happy belated National Peach Pie Day!

1 package pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1 egg, beaten
5 fresh peaches
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Before you get started, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and set water to boil in a large pot.  Lightly score the bottom of each peach with an X, then toss 'em in the boiling water to blanch for 2 to 3 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer peaches to an ice-water bath to stop the cooking.

Peel the skins off with a paring knife...they should come off extremely easily (many thanks to Martha Stewart for the inside scoop on how to skin a peach.  I'd still be hacking away at it if I hadn't known to blanch it first). 

Once all the peaches are skinned, cut them in cubes and place them in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with lemon juice and mix gently. 

Line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate with one of the pie crusts. Brush with some of the beaten egg.  

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Pour over the peaches, and mix gently. 

Pour into the pie crust.

Cover with the other pie crust and fold the edges under.  Flute the edges to seal or press the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in egg.  Brush the remaining egg over the top crust.  Cut several slits in the top crust to vent steam.  

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the vents.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

I have a pair of pants that's veeeeery similar to these (except they're from H&M) and they've turned into one of my favorite pieces of the season.  They're a part of my "I can rack up no less than 3 compliments if I wear these" collection (admit it, you have one of those too).  The black and saddle color combo is superb in my book and the accessories I put together here...well they just take the cake for me.  I couldn't dream of picking a favorite piece (although it's probably between the shoes and the purse.  Or the earrings and the Bonnie & Clyde bracelet.  Or  maybe it's the sunglasses.  Or the ring). 

1. Washed Silk Tank, Kain $155  2. Woven Capri Pants, Forever21 $14.50  3. Follow the Omens Bracelets, Gretchen Jones for Piperlime $68  4. Star Earrings, House of Harlow $45  5. Jeffrey Campell 'Mariel' Wedge Sandal, Nordstrom $109.95  6. Bonnie & Clyde bracelets, Mathias Chaize $65  7. Huxley Leather Clutch, Anya Hindmarch $795  8. Oversized D-frame Sunglasses, The Row $445  9. Philosopher's Stone Ring, Gretchen Jones for Piperlime $58
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Get It Together: Patterns, Prints & Textures

1. Vintage Industrial Egg Crate Chandelier, Etsy  2. Scott Lifshutz Appetizer Plates, West Elm $24  3. Basket Weave Pillow, Urban Outfitters $34  4. Metal Wrapped Side Table, West Elm $149  5. Ska Chair, Anthropologie $980  6. Olin Rug, Crate&Barrel $299

Details, Details...

I can't remember the last time I noticed the inside of an envelope.  In fact, I can't remember anytime I've ever noticed the inside of an envelope.  What's there to notice?  In the super beautiful envelopes below- the answer is 'lots'.  I came across this tutorial the other day and realized how undervalued this little piece of real estate is.  Since my perfect brother got me a letterpress kit for my birthday, I'm preparing to send out quite a bit of correspondence.  If all goes as planned, I'll be customizing the mess out of my envelope liners.  Any suggestions for what might look pretty?

Monday, August 22, 2011


Guys- this is totally random, I get it.  But I just couldn't help myself.  I love these forts!  They totally take me back to my childhood- my childhood (didn't see that one coming, did you?).  My hilarious roommates built an indoor fort in our apartment Sophomore year and left it up for weeks...I can still remember army-crawling through my living room to get from the front door to the kitchen.  That fort heard some secrets, lots of laughter and maybe even a disagreement or two.  And while I was definitely ready for the fort to be gone by the time it was disassembled, the whole experience is one of my most smile inducing college memories.  Had the fort (which, by the way, was named 'Fort Awesome' if I remember correctly) been as pretty as one of these, I may have made it a permanent attraction in our little Brinsfield Row Town-home.  I mean seriously, as forts go, how could these get any lovelier?  

Design Musings

Friday, August 19, 2011

Working for the Weekend

I don't know about you but I'm pretty ready for this week to be over.  More ready than usual, I think.  Don't get me wrong- it was a fine week...I got a lot done, I finally went to the Wilson County Fair (I'll post pictures in next week's Que Bella), I even did a little traveling!  But- and I'm just gonna be honest here- I'm tired.  And I want it to be Saturday.  I want to go shopping and spend some of my birthday money and get my house in order and there's just no time like the weekend to get that sort of stuff done.  I'm excited to come back rested and revved up next week- it's gonna be a great one!  Have a fantastic weekend and I'll see you Monday morning.  Enjoy the weekend links!

I gave this triple pink makeup a go yesterday.  It was fun.

Tiny Toms!  Love, love, love.

Bourbon Chocolate Milkshake...I want to say I'd be up for trying this.

Asked my Dad to help me "design" a few custom chocolate bars from here this week.  Can't wait to taste them!

You can help bring Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte to your city a week early!  How 'bout them apples (or pumpkins, as it were)?

Design Sponge released their book tour dates!  See your city?  You should go!

The Amazing Fact Generator: mostly irrelevant, shockingly interesting and a little bit addictive.

This playroom is like a real life Narnia!

Want a brand new Eames chair for $12?  You can have it!  You're right...there's a you can't guess what it is!

Newsies THE MUSICAL is finally here on Broadway (NJ to be exact).  The first three days of it's run coincide with the last three days of my upcoming trip to the Garden State.  Coincidence?  I think not.
Thursday, August 18, 2011

Paradise Island: Denise

I can't even believe I'm saying this, but summer is getting ready to abandon us folks.  My dear, sweet warm weather is preparing to head south for the winter and I'm just not ready to see it go.  But rather than waste too much time pining for it, I'm determined to shift gears- from barbecues to bonfires, pool side days to picking apples and from our fabulous summer series Paradise Island to...our next adventure (to be announced soon).  But it's not over yet!  In fact, today we've got the spotlight on pretty Miss Denise.  It's hard to describe Denise without saying things like "she marches to the beat of her own drum" or "she's free spirit" because those things are all true- she's one unique little stunner.  I'm not sure if that shows you the whole picture, though.  She's not some scattered flower child- she's an outrageously strong, independent, hard working lady (and arguably the only one out of all of us that's consistently on time, ha).  She's got some fun quirks, many of which manifest themselves in her uber fun sense of style, and those just make her more of a treasure to all of us lucky enough to call her family.  There's a few things in her Paradise Island picks I'm gonna have to check out myself (especially that water- she says it's part of the secret to her perfect hair...sign me up)!

Sorry fellas, she's taken.

Q&A: If Denise was famous, it would be for writing a memoir called 'Yes, I'm Mexican and I don't Speak Spanish'.  Her celebrity BFF would be Kate Hudson, and she would help her steal every last item in Rachel Zoe's closet.

1. Lip Balm, Burt's Bees $2.99  2. Black LePen, Paper Source $1.95  3. "Thora" Black Patent Flip Flop, Tory Burch $115  4. Jackie O Sunglasses, Chanel  5. Original Herbal Body Moisturizer, Hempz Body Care $20  6. The Invitation, Amazon $21.95  7. Penta Water, $29.50 for a 24 pack  8. Gold Mums, Batik & Crinkle Journals, Paper Source $18.95

The Foodie Files

I ate dinner at one of my regular haunts in Nashville a few days ago and, much to my horror, learned they stopped serving my favorite soup.  Not okay.  This may sound crazy to you, but I get flavors stuck in my head the way other folks get songs stuck in theirs...and after awhile it gets to be pretty consuming. It didn't take long (significantly less than 24 hours, to be honest) before the chorus of "Lemon Artichoke Soup" got to be too much for me and I resigned myself to figure out the recipe.  Now that I'm on the other side of it, it's looking a lot more like a blessing in disguise.  I have my soup and I get to share it with you.  Win, win- don't you think?

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced carrots
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped artichoke hearts
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 lemon, halved

Melt your butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the chicken broth, artichoke hearts, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Squeeze both lemon halves into the pan and cook for 10 minutes more.  Simmer for 5-10 additional minutes to develop a bit more flavor and serve. 

I made this for myself for lunch today and ate an ungodly's so savory and just tart enough to be interesting.  I did have a few issues in the "I've gotta stop eating this department" but let's be honest, those are pretty much champagne problems.  Hope you enjoy it!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

1. Tangerine Flicker Dress, Anthropologie $358  2. F7572 Sunglasses, Forever 21 $5.80  3. YSL Ring, Polyvore $850  4. Dries Van Noten Bracelet Set, Mytheresa $405  5.  Turquoise Clutch, H&M  6. Bremseth Heels, Aldo Shoes $90
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Get It Together: By the Sea

I know what you're thinking and the answer is yes, that is a ginormous lobster on that rug.  I put a bit of a modern twist on a sea side color palate and it came together in a really fun way.  While shore houses can often be where good interior design goes to die (mauve shell-covered wallpaper, anyone?) I think this look would float quite well.

1. Spiny Lobster Rug, Anthropologie $498  2. Oblique Big Shelf, Matter Matters $2,624  3. Wooden Spheres, West Elm $29-$49  4. Althea Side Table, Anthropologie $198  5. Hand-Blocked Tiger Pillow Cover, West Elm $19  6. Valdes Chair, Matter Matters $2,880

Silhouettes of the 60's

I'm gonna need someone- anyone- to take me to go see The Help.  I'm desperate here.  Not only is the storyline absolutely phenomenal, the clothes are killing me in the previews...killing me.  The 1960's had the most breathtakingly gorgeous silhouettes- so feminine and flattering.  They're an overlooked decade to be sure.  Have any of you seen the movie yet?  Is it as amazing as I've heard?  Okay, now who's coming with me to check it out?!

Photos Via: My Vintage Vogue
Monday, August 15, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011

Working for the Weekend

Well, birthday week is coming to a close...thanks for hanging in there with me whilst I got all introspective.  I'm already having a blast here in Miami- I'm so glad I got to cap the week off by celebrating my birthday sister and bestie!  I don't know what the policy on birthday weekends is, but I can promise you I'm gonna ride this wave out for as long as possible.  Wish me luck. :) Rest up everyone (and while you're resting, don't forget to check out these super fun links)- I'll see you back here Monday!

If you love Sephora (and how could you not?), you'll love this.  I signed the birthday girl up today!

This is precious and I love it.

My new favorite store in Green Hills.

Cheesecake stuffed strawberries.  Have you ever heard of such things!?

Such a chic nursery.

The 1,000 Journal Project.  Super neat-o.

Summer is almost over and I'm not okay with that.  Especially cause i just discovered these and have yet to experience one.

Super sweet gift idea.

Creative packaging.

DC got one of these today.  So cool.
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Birthday Week: Say Thanks

I'm gonna have to interrupt our regularly scheduled posts to say a big birthday week thank you.  My family and friends went over and above this year- I was totally blown away by their thoughtfulness and love.  I especially want to say thanks to my incredible cousin, Jess, who kept me entertained all day long with the best activities ever (shopping spree and shooting range- how much better could it possibly get?).  When I think about how lucky I am to be part of our little tribe I can never get over it.  I just adore my family.  They may not be perfect but they're darn close.

In other news, I'm off on another birthday-related adventure today.  This time the birthday isn't mine- it's my bestie DawnChere's which makes it all the more exciting.  I made a last minute decision to fly to Miami so we can celebrate our birthdays together and I'm thinking it might be the smartest thing I've done in awhile.  I've missed her something fierce!  Due to the unexpected adjustment in my schedule (and the fact that I spent all of today getting spoiled instead of working) I won't have anything else for you to peruse until tomorrow.  So sorry.  Let's regroup on Friday for some awesome Working for the Weekend links.  And break!
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

The time between seasons is a fun chance to do some experimenting.  This outfit, for example, uses autumn's color palate (I'm really feeling this whole monochromatic look, by the way) but maintains a bit of summer's breeze.  I'm liking it.  I'm liking it a lot.  

1. Divine Rights of Denim Colored Skinnies, Forever 21 $26.80  2. Polka Street Top, ModCloth $32.99 3. Pammyy Chestnut Suede Wedge, Steve Madden $99.95  4. The Wonder Ears Earrings, ModCloth $14.99  5. Gold Metal Shell Bag, Topshop $76  6. Black Cats Eye Flat Top Sunglasses, Topshop $32  7. Ginette Cadiz Onyx Ring, Shopbop $300

Birthday Week: Set Goals

There's nothing quite like a birthday to make you think about life in a weirdly philosophical way.  Every year around this time I find myself dwelling on what I've accomplished thus far and all the things lingering on my to do list.  Rather than get discouraged, I've decided to get organized- after all, it's hard to meet a goal you never set.  I came up with a few things I'm hoping to accomplish over the next few weeks, months and years and took the time to write them down.  Some will require more dedication than others but hopefully I'll knock them all out at one point or another.  Since today is my actual birthday (happy birthday to me) I figured it was as good a time as any to make a few wishes.  Here are a few of the more interesting that made my to do list:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Get It Together: Art is Good for You

1. Shaker Chair Diamond, Matter $2,000  2. Cluster Light Pendant, Matter $2,200  3. Caged Clock, Urban Outfitters  4. Live With Art Print, Mikey Burton  5. Flash Fire Rug, Anthropologie $298  6. Dakota Pillow, Rouge du Rhin €64

Birthday Week: Smile!

It's day 2 of birthday week and the word of the day is smile.  Aside from quality time with family and friends (my very favorite thing), these are a few things that make me happy.  What would make it onto your list?  Go ahead, make's fun!