Wednesday, September 7, 2016

House Plants Even You Can't Kill!

Whenever I decorate for a client, I like to use plants to finish the room.  Plants warm up the room and add life to your space.  There are other benefits including good feng-sui, and air purification. 

Some clients welcome the idea of using plants as decoration. Others are hesitant, thinking that a perishable decoration could leave a future hole in the room.  Nevertheless, I head to the plant store on a mission and engage in a conversation traditionally sounding like this:

Me: “I’m decorating for a client. She has a black thumb. What do you have around here that is very low maintenance?”
Plant Store Employee: “Yes, these require very little maintenance.”
Me: “So, you’re saying that they are virtually impossible to kill?”

Don’t be hesitant.  You can do it.  It’s really not difficult, and it’s an inexpensive addition to any space.  Here are some of my favorite “independent” plants:

Cactus/Succulents: Cacti and succulents are super trendy right now and add a fun flair to a home.  Here are some of my favorite looks with these plants.

Air Plants:  Air plants take up very little space in your home and require very little maintenance.  Very little.  Generally, you can find interesting and fun ways to display these plants.  Here are some of my favorite holders that will help to pack a punch to any vignette.

Snake Plant or Mother-in-law’s Tongue: The plants are sure to add personality to any room and have even been called the next Fiddle Leaf Fig.  These plants are also very good for air purification in your home.

Maidenhair Fern: The Maidenhair Fern is one of my favorite plants to use in my client’s homes.  I have even seen this plant stay alive months longer than the owner would have predicted.  The leaves and wiry nature of this plant give off a strong personality and add flair to the room.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My Favorite Candles!

There is nothing I love more than a candle that makes my home smell lovely.  There is nothing I hate more than a candle I spend money on and it doesn't smell at all.  If you're anything like me and you love the ambience and smell that a lit candle provides, you're probably always on the hunt for the perfect candle!  Whether you're looking for a travel candle to take on a road trip, the perfect smell to welcome guests, or a great hostess gift, here are a few summer go-to scents that are both affordable and pack a punch in the scent department.

Japanese Quince by Seda France:  This candle is strong and almost immediately releases aromatic goodness into the air.  The candle puts off a clean smell followed by a hint of florals. The first time I smelled this candle it was burning in my mom's house.  Like most "mature' adults, I promptly packed up my mom's candle and enjoyed it in my own home until I could find it's replacement.  Sorry, mom.
Bob's Flower Shop by Trapp: One Friday afternoon I walked into my local liquor store only to be greeted by the most amazing smell of fresh flowers. I stopped in my tracks and asked something silly like, "do you guys have fresh flowers in here?"  They explained to me that they were burning "Bob's Flower Shop" by Trapp.  I was hooked. After searching local retailers I picked up a few sizes of this candle for my living space, guest rooms, and bathrooms.  If you love the smell of fresh flowers this candle is for you.  It's strong, so burn accordingly!

Mokara by Voluspa: I love the 3 wick candle in a decorative tin for my living spaces.  As well, I really like a petite candle in colored jar with metallic lid for my guest rooms and bathrooms.  Similar to Japanese Quince this is a soft fragrance with simple floral undertones.  (I'm noticing a trend here).  This candle smells clean and classic.  It's a great way to add a summer aroma to your house.

Rainbarrel by Himalayan Trading Post:  This candle has a different smell than all of the rest.  It's simple and classic and reminds me of fresh linens.  When this candle is lit, your home will have a clean, fresh smell that immediately welcomes your guests. These candles also come in various jars that are appealing to the eye and can be reused later!

If you also love candles and have a favorite, I would love to know what it is! I'm always on the hunt and love sharing with my readers!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Devil's in the details! Menu Cards

You have read a lot about one of my favorite hobbies, interior decorating. The other passion I pursue? Party planning. There is something so special about planning a celebration for your friends or family. It can be a lot of work, but just do it. Nothing shows someone how much you care like throwing them a party. 

This hot weather has me wishing for colder weather. There's nothing I love more than fall, more specifically, parties in the fall. This past year I hosted one of my most memorable parties, my husband's 40th birthday celebration. When hosting a party, it's important to factor in the guest of honor's personality and things they love most. My husband's a good Kentucky boy who loves his Bourbon, so a theme came easy. My favorite part was the menu, one I called "The Good Stuff" -- a delicious Southern meal of BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, salad (for good measure) and a flowing bourbon bar. True to the guest of honor, this theme doubled as a delicious party success on a cold night. 


As a fun added touch, I asked my mother-in-law to send me various pictures from throughout my husband's life. They incorporated friends and family members throughout his life, many who attended the party. What a fun way for these friends from different phases of his life to connect on such a special occasion. Everyone once in a while, and probably more frequently than we do, a special person deserves a special party, one custom made for them. When hosting your next party, for a milestone or for no reason at all, always add a special touch. It makes for a party you and your guest of honor will never forget. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sunday Supper Success: Summer Edition

Sunday night it was our turn to host Sunday Supper!  We realized on the drive home from church that we had not yet been to the grocery, or decided on a menu. An afternoon round of golf and flower class were standing in between us and dinner. We had to do something fast and easy.

I grabbed my latest copy of 'Cooking Light' and began flipping through the ear marked pages.  Cooking Light is my go-to when trying to find new seasonal recipes.  'Cooking Light,' 15 minutes/5 ingredient recipes basically taught me how to cook and remain some of my favorites!  I digress. We decided to make chicken served with a side of this golden corn salad with fresh basil.  Understanding it's grilling season, we decided to cook the chicken in the skillet.  It's a fool proof, no fail, recipe I learned from a chef a few years back.  The meal provided the perfect summer supper and was ready in no time!  Recipes and details are below.  Let me know what you think when you make this for your friends and family! 


  • Chicken
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Place chicken on a plate and drizzle with olive oil and salt. No pepper.  
    • Please note this was a game changer for me.  I always oiled the pan and applied salt, no pepper.  As it turns out, you should put oil directly on the chicken.  Salt enhances the taste of the food while pepper seasons the food.  It's amazing! I was serving chicken all wrong for so many years.
  • Heat an oven proof skillet on the stove until hot.  We use our cast iron skillet and it never fails.
  • Once hot, place the chicken on the pan and allow to cook for roughly two minutes on each side. If you try and remove the chicken from the pan and it sticks to the pan, its not ready to turn.  When it's ready to turn, it will no longer stick to the pan. Who knew?
  • Flip the chicken and cook on the other side for two to three minutes.
  • Place the chicken in the oven and cook until finished.  Roughly 15-20 minutes.  I use a meat thermometer to check the chicken's internal temp always abiding by the safety minimums (articles posted here and here). 
Grilled Corn Salad with Fresh Basil: 

  • 8 ounces small yellow Finnish potatoes or small red potatoes
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears) - i used a bag of steamed corn for ease
  • 2 cups assorted tear-drop cherry tomatoes (pear-shaped), halved
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups arugula, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, sliced
  • Place potatoes in a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 11 minutes or until tender. Drain and chill. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Combine potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and bell pepper in a large bowl.
  • Combine shallots and next 4 ingredients (through black pepper) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly pour oil into shallot mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle over corn mixture; toss well. Add arugula; toss. Sprinkle with basil; top evenly with goat cheese.

The grilled chicken and corn salad went together very well and provided the perfect summer meal.  I had the corn salad for lunch the next day and it was tasty cold as well!  If you're looking for a quick and easy dinner, you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tips for Arranging Flowers!

Over the weekend some friends and I took a flower arranging class from The Farmer's Florist.  Not only is she super cool to work with, but she's also doing great things for Nashville communities! My friends and I met her at her shop on Sunday afternoon.  We popped open the champagne (naturally) and got down to business!
To get started you need three types of flowers: 
  • Greenery - Christie recommends two types when making various arrangements
  • Focal Flowers
  • Details Flowers - Christie recommends having a couple of different detail flowers when making various arrangements
You want to start building your arrangement by "covering the hole" with your greenery. As you cut your stems, always on an angle to allow for more absorption, make sure to cut them down to their most potential.  For example, one stem could have various limbs that can be broken down and used throughout the arrangement.  Use your vase as a tool/ruler to easily measure the desired height of your stems. When covering the hole, you want to create a grid which allows movement in your arrangement. Don't be afraid to turn your arrangement as you build, allowing yourself a view from all sides.  Let the greenery rest on the side, covering the lip of the vase. Be sure to strip any leaves that will get into your water as the leaves will create bacteria and make your water turn more quickly.  Placing a dropper of bleach in your water can help! 
Now that you have your base, you want to pick one focal flower and details flowers.  My focal flower was a beautiful pink color with slight purple undertones.  To compliment, I chose a detail flower with a soft purple hue. Christie recommends picking two colors then use your other detail flowers to bridge the gap. Having too many colors causes your arrangement to look less curated.  Once you have your color palette and flowers you should simply begin to fill any holes created by the greenery grid.  One helpful tip was to cut off any knobs on the stem.  This way, as you poke around and play with your arrangement you have less of a chance at moving the other flowers around.  There is no science to the art of arranging, you simply have to play around, filling the holes until you're happy with your arrangement.  When my focal flower would not cooperate, Christie wove a piece of greenery underneath for the focal flower to rest upon and also prodding the flower to face in the right direction.  After filling the holes with a few more detail flowers I had created one beautiful arrangement.  
The same approach applies when working with smaller vases. Build with your greenery, focal flowers, and detail flowers.  When working with bud vases you will likely want to use one flower, a bit taller than the vase, allowing the stem's personality to be on display. 

Stop by your local flower store or find a farmer in the area and start building beautiful arrangements to fill your home! Don't wait for guests to create a lovely space you can enjoy!  If you're simply too busy to create your own arrangement, The Farmers Florist offers weekly subscriptions! Love your space, create a place you love, one flower arrangement at a time!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Turkish T Curtains

Last year, Craig and I turned our original bedroom into an office/study.  I wanted it to be a room we could use day-to-day but still offer a space for guests.  I wanted the room to be welcoming while evoking the feel of an intimate library in an older home. Hoping to make the room the perfect juxtaposition between handsome and beautiful, as it would serve as an office for both Craig and me. To get there, I painted the room a high gloss brown.  Some of my favorite browns are Fallen Timber and Coriander Seed from Benjamin Moore. The high gloss was a recommendation from one of my favorite Memphis designers, Lauren Patterson.  It really gives the walls a little extra dimension and depth that you don't typically see.  

With the room painted such a strong statement color, I knew I wanted lighter, less defined curtains.  And, I was on a budget.  I couldn't land on any fabric that had the relaxed feel for which I was looking.  I happened to be out shopping with friends when I saw this Cabana Beach Towel by Turkish T and decided it would be the perfect fabric for my guest room window shades.  
The decision was made. I picked up two, one for each window, and called my "curtain lady."  We decided on roman shades, keeping the original tassels at the bottom for the relaxed feel.  Originally, we actually decided to make them "relaxed' (arched) roman shades.  We then decided that the arched look didn't work at all.  Full disclosure, we all make mistakes.  We went back to a classic roman shade and in the end I am so pleased with the way they turned out.  They are an affordable alternative that provided the perfect feel for the room!  Stay tuned for more details on the rest of the room!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Tips for Traveling for Work!


I hope you enjoyed your long weekend! Now that it's over, we're back to the grind.  My new job requires I travel quite a bit for work.  Traveling can be exhausting if you aren't used to it.  Over this past year I have learned a few tips and tricks that make packing for and recovering from traveling easier. Here are a few helpful hints when traveling for work:

  • Luggage: Carry on! Find a carry on that works for you! Use one for your clothes/toiletries and the other for your computer and work necessities.  I shared some of my favorite carry ons in an earlier post. 
  • TSA Precheck: I recently got TSA Precheck.  My boss asked me if I wanted him to take my picture on this "special" day. I should have let him. It was that importatnt. If you don't have it, and travel for work, you need to get it! 
  • Toiletries: Most hotels have shampoo and conditioner in the rooms for utilization.  I bought the soap version of my face wash and keep it in my carry on.  I also have a travel toothbrush, with a case, that stays packed so I can easily grab and go.  I keep a Ziploc bag in my carry on so I can easily throw in the toothpaste and other liquid makeup used on a daily basis.  Generally, the hotels have blowdryers, so you can leave that at home and save space! 
  • Comfy clothes:  Generally when you're on the road for work you need business clothes for meetings, etc. I always pack an extra pair of flats and comfy clothes to change into for the plane ride/car ride home.  I didn't always do this but when I did it was a game changer. 
  • House shoes: I like to have a pair of house shoes or flats to walk around the hotel.  You can grab a cheap pair at Target or TJ Maxx and keep them in your carry on. 
  • Work clothes:  If I have a few days of meetings I will pack one black dress with various blazers to transition.  You can also pack a pair of pants, white blouse, blazer.  Rinse and repeat. Here's a tip I got a few years back. Save your plastic dry cleaning bags or the plastic bags you get when you purchases hanging clothes.  Fold each outfit and wrap a plastic hanging bag around each. The plastic wrap prevents wrinkles when traveling, making it easy to be fresh for your business meeting with little fuss. 
  • Wet wipes: Pick up a box of wet wipes - it will last you for months.  When I'm packing for a trip I grab two sanitary wipes and throw those in my bag.  When I get into the hotel room I wipe down the bathroom counter and remote control.  If you use the trays on the airplanes, you can also wipe those down too! Imagine how often those get used vs. how much they get cleaned! 
  • Sweater/Wrap: When I fly I prefer not to have any body part touch the seat.  I always bring a sweater or wrap to throw on allowing me to have something between my seat and/or that neighbor that doesn't understand airplane seat etiquette.
  • Travel water bottle: Pick up a water bottle that you can easily be filled up once you have gotten through security.  My good friend puts lemons and limes in hers before leaving the house. Once she's gotten through security she fills it up with water for a spa like experience.  
I hope these tips are helpful if you're traveling for work!  Are there others that you use I didn't mention?  I would love it if you could share!