Sunday, March 31, 2013

Designer Spotlight: Mary McDonald

Taken from Mary's website: Award winning Los Angeles-based designer Mary McDonald is one of today’s most sought after tastemakers. She is the international star of Bravo TV’s “Million Dollar Decorators” series and is consistently ranked as one of House Beautiful’s “Top 100 Designers.” She has been the recipient of the prestigious Stars of Design Award and has been honored as one of the top 25 designers by Veranda Magazine. McDonald’s gorgeous interiors have captivated the design community and are featured in major national publications including Town & Country, Veranda, House Beautiful, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and International Vogue’s.
McDonald’s style combines old-world elegance with a modern sensibility resulting in a fearless iconic style. Her ability to combine bold patterns, Chinoiserie, and classic influences with an impeccable sense of color has established her signature style. From the refurbishment of Buster Keaton’s legendary villa to the overhaul of the Luxe Hotel in Bel Air as well as the Monika Chiang retail boutique in Soho, McDonald’s projects captivate the press. House Beautiful says “her work is timeless and glamorous all spun together with a keen fashion sense…. she’s a fearless, exuberant accessorizer.”
Her first book, MARY MCDONALD: INTERIORS, The Allure of Style was published by Rizzoli in October of 2010 and is currently in its fifth printing. Written with wit and charm, the book showcases her sophisticated and ravishing interiors, thematically divided, with over 250 sumptuous photographs.
Mary is currently working on her second book due in 2014. Her first fabric & trim collection for F. Schumacher is currently launching early Spring 2013 as well as an extensive rug line for Patterson Flynn and Martin to follow. She continues to add new designs each season to her lighting collection for Robert Abbey in tandem while working on projects in New York, Utah, Florida and California.

Mary's fabric collection for Schumacher
I just love Mary's style. Each room has its own elegant charm and makes me just want to dive into it and stay for a while. She uses a lot of chic, traditional furniture along with rich textures and splashed of color. Mary's designs are always breathtaking and fresh.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Project Haiti - An awesome opportunity

It's been three years since the catastrophic earthquake devestated the island of Haiti. Thousands of families were forced to abandon everything they knew in order to survive. Still, there are hundreds of families and children without homes.

There is hope. The United States Green Building Council, along with HOK, wants to build a amazing shelter for these lost children. Not only will this place of refuge serve tons of homeless children, it will also be the first ever LEED-certified orphanage and children’s center in Haiti. But it costs money, a whole lot of money. This is a fantastic opportunity to help this almost impossible dream come true. Please take a moment and watch this video.

Very soon, these beautiful children will have a safe place to play, learn, and grow. Most importantly, they will have a place to call home. USGBC is a wonderful, non-profit organization so please help them  make this orphanage possible. They can't do it without you!

"Because at the end of the day, creating a healthy, safe environment for our children is the most important work we can do."
Rachel Gutter - Director, Center for Green Schools

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Food For Thought

Sometimes we get so caught up in everything that we forget to take time to enjoy the little things in life. I know from having nieces and nephews that kids say some of the craziest things. But I've noticed that they really have some great outlooks on life. Life isn't always fun and games; there comes a time when you have to grow up and take full responsiblities for your actions. Siearra's mom mentions, "This world is very difficult to live in but you have to know these are things you have to do verses things you want to do. Have to comes first." 
Take a moment and watch this video.
Quote of the week: "If you are nice and kind, people do things for you and they feel like they can trust you and they are happy." - Siearra

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ooey-Gooey S'mores Bars

Today felt like a baking day. When I say baking, I mean baking treats because everything else I try and cook never turns out. But I am the Betty Crocker of sweets.

I looked on my Pinterest board "Yummy!" to see if anything looked interesting. Ever since I was a little girl, I loved making S'mores, the old fashioned way outside and even indoors. My parents had a gas stove so I would toast my marshmellows on top and melt the chocolate in the mircowave. Worked every time! So when I saw this pin, I knew I had to test these crispy treats out.

Ooey-Gooey S'mores Bars
All you need is:
1/2 cup of melted butter
1/2 bag of marshmellows
1/2 bag of chocolate chips
1/2 of Golden Grahams cereal
I made a smaller batch, just enough for me, but if you want a bigger batch just double the ingrediants.
After I melted the butter, I stirred in marshmellows until I had a gooey sauce-like substance. Then I poured in the cereal until it was completely covered. Next, I poured the chocolate chips and stirred them around until everything was smothered in chocolate.
Next, I sprayed a small pan with Pam and then poured out my mixture on to it so it wouldn't stick. I smashed down the mixture until it was close to flat. To make it cool faster, I let it sit in the freezer for about 20 minutes. After it was cooled and solid, I cut it into smaller pieces using a spatchula. I plan on taking them to work to let everyone taste test. I thought they were pretty good!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Six Castles You'll Love

I have recently jumped on the Downton Abbey train and I am hooked. I love watching the drama unfold. I started last week and already I'm on season 2. I would love to be a royal for a day. Watching the Ladies get pampered and treated like queens fascinates me.

All this England talk makes me think of castles. How awesome would it be to live in place like Downton? I've done a little searching around and I've found some quite remarkable homes still running in England today.

Blenheim Palace

Castle Howard
North Yorkshire

Hever Castle

Castle Howard
North Yorkshire

Somerleyton Hall
And last but not least, the home of the Crawleys:
Highclere Castle

All of these castles can be read about through Wikipedia. It's so interesting to learn about each one of them and their charm, who owns them, who's next in line as heir, and so forth. I'm really into the British culture right now. I think their way of life is very fascinating from ours. It would be neat to live in England for a year, just to discover that livelihood.
Maybe one day...
If you haven't watched Downton Abbey, I recommend it if you love a little soap opera action! 
You'll definitely fall in love with the characters.

Friday, March 8, 2013

First Impressions

One life lesson I learned very young was "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." This has stayed with me with everything I do. Whether I'm looking for a job, meeting someone new, and even more when I am decorating. Your entryway is your home's first impression. It is the first thing your guest see when they walk into your home. I've seen homes that had such a dreary entry that created an awful vibe for the entire home. Your entryway sets the tone for your entire home. It's important to make sure it "wows" from the very beginning. I like a light and airy entryway, but that's just me. No matter what your style, your entry needs to create an inviting atmosphere to you and your guests. What's worse than coming home to a boring home?

From what I've learned, an entry way needs three basic elements: a console table, a mirror, and some sort of decorative something or another. Decorating the table is totally up to your style and personality. I always like to see a variety of small things that create an interesting story. When it comes to arranging items on a table, things look good in threes. 

Here, they have two groups. To the left, they have arranged a lamp, book, and ceramic piece. To the right, they have an old camera, globe, and small dish. There are more examples below.

I love that this homeowner chose to showcase their rainboots. This entry way provides function and storage but in a very classy way. Life happens and I like that you don't have to shun your boots to a closet but instead throw them in a basket under your console. Btw, those are Hunter rainboots and you know how I feel about those!

In contrast, not all entryways have to be this traditional. This homeowner created a built-in unit that provides lots of storage space. She added lots of hooks to hang backpacks and the small bench is perfect for taking off your shoes. For this entry way it works. 

Like the chevron painted walls you saw earlier, adding color as well as pattern is a great way to spruce up your entryway. This is the great space to add an elaborate wallcovering. It is perfect for a larger entryway with tall ceilings. The wallpaper in these entryways add a soft, feminine touch and says, "Come on in!"

Needless to say, an entryway can be a beautiful space. It needs to be a space that reflects you and your style while being functional and practical. Take a look at your entryway. Would you be impressed if you visited for the first time? Would you enjoy being invited into your own home? Maybe it's time to freshen yours up a little bit!

Happy decorating!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Color Fad: Chartreuse

My love for chartreuse is nothing new. Chartreuse is known for its dated retro stigma but now it has a new reputation as a classy, happy, and timeless accent color. There's quite a few shades of chartreuse from lime green to Granny Smith apple green but I like to think of this color as Wikipedia would call it: "halfway between green and yellow". I've been a fan of this shade for quite some time now. It's so fun and bright; however, I have yet to design anything around it. When I see spaces like the ones you're about to see, I can't help but to promise myself to use chartreuse in my first home. I could see it now: a small reading nook in a bay window with chartreuse pillows. It'd be my favorite place of the house! One day...



 Whatever shade you choose, you are sure to have a very happy space.
A space that you and your guests will love!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Best Brownies In The World

I made a batch of brownies a couple of weeks ago and Jimmy fell in love with them. It was a simple Betty Crocker box recipe from Target for $2 but he swore they were the best brownies he'd ever had. So today, I went to Target and found the same brownie mix (which was on clearance) and bought three boxes! I attempted to make them again and this time my niece Evalee helped out a little bit.

I love baking, whether it's from scratch or not. I love the process of putting all the pieces together and watching it bake. I think I like that more than I like actually eating them! Well, maybe not.

So this is my recipe for The Best Brownies In The World per my boyfriend Jimmy. ;)

You'll need:

1 box of Betty Crocker Original Supreme Premium Brownie Mix with Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
That includes 1 egg, vegetable oil, and water. I also like to add extra chocolate chip morsels because who doesn't like more chocolate?

Follow the instructions on the back of the box for baking. It determines what size pan you use. I used an 8x8 Pyrex dish because they are my personal favorite.
While they baked, Miss Evalee and I played a little bit. She has so much character and is a ball to play with.

I believe it took about 30 minutes to cook and I actually took them out a little before they were completely done so they would be gooey.

My sister, brother-in-law, dad, and mom all came over and taste tested and they gave these brownies two thumbs up. I brought the rest home and will surprising Jimmy tonight. Let's hope he can still say they are The Best Ever.

Have a happy week!