Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding: Evening Reception

If my invitation didn't get lost in the mail:

I would choose a palette of red, black, and gold to wear to the Evening Reception of the Royal Wedding.  My budget: unlimited, and I am pretty sure I am breaking etiquette rules with this outfit (no need for a hat at the Reception, but it was added for good measure).  After all, this is only a dream invite.

Are you tuning in to watch the Royal Wedding, I am...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Book List

A new series on Travelmoon has arrived: monthly book reviews.  This month my book tastes run from the Young Adult to the Best Seller List.

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later.  For anyone that devoured the Sweet Valley Books in their childhood, it is fun to spend a few more hours with everyone's favorite fictional twins: Jessica and Elizabeth.  If only for pure nostalgia.  Jessica and Elizabeth are now 28 and not on speaking terms due to of course Jessica's antics, her being the "bad" twin and all.  The book in general was lackluster.  The twin's lives in Sweet Valley were pretty fantastical and the escapism of this fictional town was often part of the enticement.  The majority of the book took place in New York City, which didn't translate, and I spent most of the time waiting for the twins inevitable reunion in Sweet Valley.  The book did manage to keep me up into the wee hours of the night to finish it all in one sitting.  Yet, it left me feeling unsettled and a little confused as to why I was drawn to the series in the first place. As you can see there are three young adult titles on this month's book list so it can't be that my tastes have evolved, I just have to conclude that the Sweet Valley books were just plain better.

Water for Elephants.  After one failed attempt to get into the book, I decided to give it another try upon seeing the movie trailer.  This Depression era fairy tale unwrapped slowly, focusing on the main character's life traveling with the circus as a veterinarian, interspersed with his current existence in an assisted living home, and the unrequited love he feels for the horse dancer in the circus.  I understood the hype and eventually become engrossed in the story, but ultimately, it came up short for me.  Nonetheless, I still saw the movie last weekend when it opened.

The Help.  I kept waiting for this book to come out in paperback, and now it's arrived.  I have been hearing rave reviews for quite some time and was intrigued.  I though the dialect would be distracting, but I was enraptured after the first few pages.  In fact, this is one of the best books I can remember reading in a long while.  If you read one book on this list: this is my most highly recommended.  I get engrossed in books but usually am not moved to tears, and this one had me wiping away a few.  The portrait it painted of Mississippi during the 1960's was eye opening and the characters were so well developed, I was sad to say good-bye to them at the book's close.

The Hunger Games.  I am a Twilight fan, so caveat emptor if a fantasy young Adult series is not your taste.  The first book in this trilogy was decidedly more realistic--no vampires to be found.  The main character, Katniss Everdeen takes the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, a fight until death reminiscent of Roman times where a gladiator and lion duked it out to the finish.  In this case, those fighting until death are children picked at random from districts of what was once the USA, and it's televised in a twisted reality TV show.  While it's fantasy, it is hard not to reflect on our voyeuristic culture, indoctrination and propaganda from regimes that led to killing of innocents, and think that this book is not at all farfetched.  Both haunting and riveting the other two books in the series are heading my way via Amazon as we speak.

The Carrie Diaries.  I have read all of Candace Bushnell's books, so I figured I would jump on the bandwagon and read her first foray into young adult writing.  This book introduces us to the character of Carrie from the beloved Sex and the City when she was in high school and becoming a famous author was only a far off dream.   It documents the travails of high school and her family life (which was markedly absent from the series) giving insight into her motivations and latent experiences that dictate the course of the rest of her life. The book ends with Carrie in New York City, setting the stage for when Carrie meets the other characters from the Sex and the City book (and TV series).  The second book: Summer in the City was just released on April 26.

Marriage Bureau For Rich People.  Written in simple prose and filled with descriptive imagery of modern day India in the southern coastal town of Vizag, Zama weaves a story about the intricacies of arranged marriage and the surrounding customs.  The first thing I did when I finished the book was look for images of the seaside town of Vizag and dream of booking a flight there.  Mr. Ali is bored in retirement so he decides to open up a business arranging marriages in their town.  The matches, the characters, and the relationships formed make this an enchanting read.  When one of the central characters finds a potential love match of her own against all odds, you will find yourself rooting for her happy ending.

Have you read any of these books?  Do you have any book recommendations?  I would love to hear your opinions...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April Showers

Images via Pinterest
They have all come at nightfall.  By evening, ominous clouds appear overhead hinting of the storm to come, which eventually unleashes a fury that jars me awake in the middle of the night to reveal a show of flashing lights and the violent crash of thunder.  Most mornings, the storm is gone leaving barely a trace.  I hope these are just April Showers, because this California girl has had to sing herself to sleep with "Raindrops on Roses" more often than she wishes to admit...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Luxury Monograms

Who doesn't love a good monogram?  I adored having a signature monogram at my wedding and ever since have experienced an insatiable desire to monogram just about anything.  I was so excited when I saw the colorful photo shoot for the newly launched Luxury Monograms created by one fabulous blogger and styled by The Decorista.  I fell for all of the monogrammed items swathed and surrounded by such decadent styling and what looks to be the hint of one fun dinner party in the shoot!

The new line includes:
The customization options are just about endless, make sure to check them out here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Simply Bon Vivant Feature

I'm so flattered to have been included in Simply Bon Vivant's Blogs we Love.  What a great surprise to wake up to this morning!  Click here for the feature...

Monday Escapes

Get ready...

For majestic waterfalls...

That make Niagara Falls look like the kiddie pool...

Stretch on across vast distances...

And straddles two large countries...

In the Southern Hemisphere...

It's Igauzu Falls, Brazil/Argentina

Have a great week!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Neutral A La Mode

I adore the neutrals that are popping up this season but unfortunately it is not something I can easily pull off, as it tends to wash me out.  That's why this Missoni-esque inspired dress (for a killer deal) paired with neutral accessories is the ideal antidote: I can indulge in the trend without sacrificing my skin tone.  All these soft blush and nude tones, with a touch of gold could also turn out to be the perfect Easter weekend ensemble.

1. Essie Nail Polish Nude Beach 
4. Forever 21 Ikat Print Dress
5. Alexis Bittar Bangle
6. Steve Madden Caryssa

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stylemaker: A Look Back

Rewind to the year 2008, specifically the January/February issue of Elle Decor and you will find a spread on Monique Lhuillier's home.  I remember being enamored with the feature, as I felt fortunate to have my first fitting on my newly purchased Monique Lhuillier wedding gown during that time.  This fact, undoubtedly led to a fascination with how Lhuillier's fashion creations would seep into her choices when it came to her own interiors.  I don't know what I was expecting, maybe lots of whites and creams with airy fabrics that were unapologetically feminine, but I was surprised to find that her house reflected a completely unexpected aesthetic.

The story was called Rhapsody in Gray and her home was indeed awash in tonal grays in a way I hadn't remembered seeing before.  Fast forward to 2011 and it serves as the base color palette for my new home and this hue is certainly ubiquitous in the design world.  I wanted to take a return look at her house as it appeared in that Elle Decor issue and remember where my love affair with gray began:

Images via Elle Decor
For the full story and slideshow click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wisteria Extravaganza: Kitchen Chairs

One of my favorite things about Dallas is the Wisteria outlet, which is dangerously close to where I live.  I have made three major purchases in the past couple months for too good to be true deals that induced a rapid heart rate: a mirror, an entryway table, and these newly purchased chairs.  The chairs just happened to be the ones I had my eye on, and had initially come to the store to find:

Wisteria Wishbone Chair
My favorite was the Wegner Wishbone Chair at Room and Board but Wisteria's were a quarter of the price, so I was even willing to pay in full.  Even though they don't come in the array of colors that Room and Board's selections do, I was happy to settle with white.  When I saw the chairs in all their glory in their 40% off section and a massive store sale to boot (additional 20%) I was thrilled-can you say steal!  But I had to pick them up in a mishmash of colors, knowing that I must paint them, so in the end, I may just get my dream yellow Wegner chair a la my initial Room and Board inspiration:

Room and Board Wegner Wish Bone Chair
I went to a number of places to purchase all of my supplies: sandpaper, primer, lacquer finish, and painter's tape.  On my last stop, someone who refinishes furniture for a living overheard me and we struck a deal: $25 a chair.  I could breathe a big sigh of relief, because I am not a huge DIYer and was nervous about the outcome of me tackling this project alone.  To top it off, I could pick any yellow paint color under the sun, which he could color match, so I wasn't stuck with the slim choices of the spray paint colors.

I have been awash in a sea of yellow paint swatches for days, deciding on the perfect match.  I am looking for a color that is not too bright but is also not the pastel color of a plastic Easter egg.
I have these stools in the color I am seeking from a photo I took of David Jimenez's designed Palm Springs house (see here and here), and as always, the yellow doors of the Viceroy Palm Springs provide my inspiration color.

Image via Viceroy Palm Springs
In the end, I decided to go for it with a swatch I had from Valspar: Lemon Curd.  Now to drop off my chairs, and hope that this all turns out as planned!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Highway to the Danger Zone...

This weekend we were invited to a charity function through my husband's work for the Collin County Children's Advocacy Center.  

The highway that took me straight to the danger zone (Kenny Loggins performed at the event, hence, the reference) was the short walk to my nearest nail salon.  Upon entering the salon, I was stopped in my tracks by bright lights and oversize video cameras casing the place.  I walked to the check-in line in confusion, everyone was acting like they had been regulars on the Real World and didn't even notice the cameras.

I was stopped at the front door on my way out and asked to sign the release form for a new Bravo show Most Eligible: Dallas (I have a slight Bravo addiction so I figured why not?).  I was assured I would be in the background of this particular show, because I had walked through during a principal shot.  So if you happen to catch an episode where a brunette wearing no make up, blotchy from being waxed, and a ratty bun on her head (was heading to the hair salon after), is walking through the shot, um that's me making my Bravo TV debut.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Escapes

If you told me this photo has a faux quality to it, well I would tell you that you are right.  I doctored it to give it a the look of a painting, but the rest of these photos of this same location are oh so real.  I thought it only fitting that I shared with you one of the sister islands of last week's Monday Escapes.

There are not enough adjectives in existence to describe the shades of blues in greens that comprise the crystalline waters of this location.  The temperature of the sea is like dipping into a warm bath, and the peaceful serenity of the surrounding scenery will have you saying a prayer of gratitude to mother nature.  Not to mention, leave you staring in wonder that a place this gorgeous could truly exist in reality and not just in vivid dreams of paradise. 

Images via Travelmoon
It's Bora Bora, French Polynesia!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Am I the Last to Know...

I just found this website Chocomize where you can customize your own chocolate bars.  Are you kidding me?  This is a dream come true.

Lately, my favorite chocolate combinations have been dark chocolate with sea salt-as it quenches that craving for something both sweet and salty; spicy chocolate with added cayenne pepper, for that extra zing; and lastly, I have always had a love for cinnamon and I can't think of a more perfect combination than cinnamon and chocolate.   All of which you can make here, but that would be quite boring when you see how many more selections there are:

First you pick your belgian chocolate: dark, milk, or white...

Then, you can customize with different categories: Nuts, Fruits, Herbs & Spices, Candy, Decorations and More.  They even have 23 Karat Gold Flakes.
Images via Chocomize (More Selections Not Pictured)
There are so many fun combinations here that I could spend hours just dreaming up new concoctions.  I hope they are as good as they look.  I'm off to, to figure out which one...