Monday, September 24, 2012

Gingham Style

image from the neo-traditionalist

image from cococozy

image from Absolutely Beautiful Things

image from Canadian House and Home

image from Matchbook Magazine

Set to the tune of this song, because it's Monday. And Monday calls for dance parties and home decor.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Getting an Edge

Preppy: Pants from JCrew | Shirt from JCrew | Bracelet from JCrew | Blazer from TopShop
Boots from Coach | Purse from Shopbop
Edgy: Jacket from Rebecca Taylor (however I'd most likely buy this Zara one
Necklace from Loren Hope | Clutch from Kate Spade | Shoes from Aldo

Every time I read a magazine, I am constantly reminded that your 20s are the time you are supposed to experiment with your clothes. After reading this for the 9 millionth time in the September issues it finally hit me that the majority of my experimenting has involved picking out that one item from JCrew that doesn't seem quite as preppy. I have not so many years of this 20s experimentation left to go; so I figured it's high time to get on it. Thus, my friends, I am off to find my wild side (which is most likely not so wild).

If you've seen me out, you will know that the first outfit is one of my staples. The boots and bag are a little different, and I've got some sequins on my stripes, but you get the idea. Here's my attempt at mixing it up: add a color I never wear (green), throw on some heels (which I never wear either), and rock a leather jacket. Leather shoes and bags, sure, all the time. Leather coat? Nope, not so much. But...there's a first time for everything!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gallery Wall: Real Life

SamanthaFrench on etsy | inkstomp on etsy | eyepoetryphotography on etsy

A couple of weeks ago, I convinced my husband to hang some pictures in our breakfast nook area. Immediately after they were hung, I looked at them and told him that I had changed my mind and wanted to do a gallery wall instead. Live and learn, right?

So here's a little sample of what our breakfast nook gallery wall is going to look like. I have several of these pieces and am in the process of buying the ones I don't have. Plus, I have a couple of paintings from Italy and Barcelona to throw into the mix. I'm pretty excited how it's starting to shape up with all the bright colors and reminders of fun places we've traveled. Now I just have to work on convincing Kyle he needs to hang more art...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Around the Newstand

I was finally able to catch up on my September issues and the WSJ this weekend and thought I would share links to a couple of interesting pieces I read.

I work for a non-profit, and I found the WSJ's "Why Can't We Sell Charity Like We Sell Perfume?" to have some thought-provoking points. My eyes have really been opened to the financial situations of non-profits since I started my job in April and am always on the look-out for articles or books that provide interesting perspectives.

Obviously, we don't do politics here on Sit.Relax.Gossip. I'll leave that to the better informed and well-spoken among us. So, regardless of political affiliation, the profile of Chelsea Clinton in this month's Vogue was really interesting and inspiring. It's not too often that I come across women close to my age that are role-models for something other than posing in magazines, and I found the article to be a little eye-rolling at times but mainly one of those pieces that I walk away from and say, "Umm, what have you been doing? It's time to get up and get busy." My mind is rife with ideas right now, and I feel pretty excited to start the week. So thanks, Chelsea.

End of Summer

flowers from StyleMePretty | Anna Karenina from Amazon | blanket from Serena and Lily

I know in some parts of the world, it actually feels like Fall. However, down here in Texas is what I like to consider my favorite part of summer. Temperatures are in the 80s during the day and dinners outside aren't ruined by armies of mosquitos. So, mis amigos (in reality I'm guessing we're only talking about amigas here), are some of my favorite things to do this time of year.

1. Panzanella salad is a weekday staple around here. I like to grill my veggies (onion and sometimes red pepper) and toss lots of garlic on my bread before I make croutons. Throw in some cukes, spinach, and basil, and you have the perfect fresh salad. 2. Sunnies are all over the groceries stores around these parts, and I love to scoop them up and place them in vases all over the house. The only problem I have found is that our new pup seems to think fresh flowers are a fine delicacy. 3. Anna Karenina is coming out in theaters in November, and I've never read this (huge) classic. I'm thinking I might need to start now to finish it before I see the film. 4. My absolute favorite thing (besides driving down small country roads in Texas) is opening all the windows once the weather gets cooler, turning on the fan, cuddling up with a good blanket, and reading for hours. My husband will quickly tell you that this is the least economical thing I could possibly do, but hey, sometimes you have to splurge, right? 5. It's still a little too hot to apple cider, but this summer I've come to love drinking hard cider. It's refreshing while still giving that comforting apple flavor. Harpoon is a new favorite, because it has a lot of flavor and is all natural. Plus, around these here parts, we believe sulfites = bad. 

Anyone else have late summer activities you love? 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Goop + JCrew

all images from

I mean, you expected this, right? Gwyneth Paltrow (my lady crush) + JCrew (my go-to) combined into one? Obviously we were going to talk about this. First of all, can you think of a better collaboration than these two? My bestie epitomizes preppy chic with a twist, and of course she styled it with a little California laid-back elegance. I kinda hate that almost every item of clothing is JCrew Collection, but I wouldn't expect anything less from Ms. Paltrow. Plus, JCrew has such a similar aesthetic across the board that you could mix in some other pieces and get the same look.

In other JCrew news, SS13 continued to the bold patterns and bright colors with a mix of florals and pastels thrown in. Here's the thing about fashion, I have stripes, a jean jacket, some loud clothes, but I would never think about putting them all together at once. Oh JCrew stylists, teach me your ways. 

image from

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fall Book List

Get your Christmas wishlist ready, because I have some books for you! Every blog I'm reading is talking about Fall fashion, and you know what, I'm excited about riding boots too. But what is really exciting me this Fall is the release of three bookss from my favorite designers. (If Ruthie Sommers was releasing one too, I wouldn't even know what to do right now).

If you're into the ethnic, laid-back California vibe, then Nathan Turner's American Style is your book of choice. Plus, he was just so cute on Million Dollar Decorators. (Comes out October 1st)

Miles Redd is king of over-the-top traditional with a twist. His use of color is like no one else, and I'm pretty sure he's never met a lacquer paint he doesn't like. I'm right there with ya, Miles. Miles Redd's Big Book of Chic comes out October 23rd.

The perennial favorite of bloggers, Amanda Nisbet's book Dazzling Design comes out this week. She epitomizes fun, preppy style with a great use of graphic patterns and bright colors.

I've pre-ordered all three, and I'll let you know what I think!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Kitchen

If I had some photography skills, this would be a lot better, but I thought I would show a little look at our kitchen. Let me start off by showing you how the kitchen looked when we moved in:

Once you see the other pictures, you'll realize that we really didn't change too much in here. We loved the big, white cabinets from the beginning and were lucky to have quality appliances. Our goal all along was to change out the black and white tiled countertop and backsplash (a little too '50s and hard to clean) and repaint the pink walls. Trust me, this place was pink. It's a little hard to tell in the pictures, but we're talking newborn baby girl pink. 

First of all, we don't get much natural light in here; so I know the color looks a little crazy. We updated the backsplash with subway tiles and dark grout and went with Carrara Marble countertops. We had really been thinking about a white granite but found out marble would cost us the same amount. Since we don't have that much counter space, we decided to go for it. I pretty much kissed them when they were laid down. 

Then, I changed up some of the knobs to make them more visible from the clear glass we had, and we painted the walls navy blue. We were set on white paint, but I woke up in the middle of the night one night convinced we needed a navy kitchen. We happened to have a sample of navy paint; so I painted a little square with the hopes of convincing Kyle. He was pretty hesitant but ended up loving it, and now he's convinced he needs a navy study.

So there it is, the one place in the house I spend most of my time. (Mainly because the dog treats are in there). I just wish I had better photography skills and some natural light so the pictures didn't look so wonky!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Brainstorming for Bathroom

You have no idea how much I appreciated the comments on nickel/chrome vs. brass. I am pretty decisive in my everyday life and prefer a plan and to-do list to plot out my days, weeks, and even months (no, seriously). This renovation has thrown my decision-making skills for a loop, and I'm pretty sure my husband is ready for a new dinner topic that does not revolve around tile choices, light fixtures, and hardware finishes. So thank you for listening and replying - made my day. 

On Monday, I was pretty sure I knew exactly what we would do with our bathroom. I'm going for something a little masculine, because we have a more feminine guest bath. I also want it to tie in to the era and feel of the rest of the house; so here are the inspiration images that I've been working with:

image from Southern Living

image from La Dolce Vita

I decided making a mock-up would be the best way to pull together all these ideas running around in my head to see a rough idea of how everything looks together.  I would also add in some fun accessories like vintage baskets, brass soap dishes, and a white shower curtain with fretwork. Plus, I found a really fun pattern for the hexagonal floor tiles that I'm hoping our contractor can re-create.

lighting from Hudson Valley | mirror from Pottery Barn | paint is Dorian Gray from Sherwin Williams | basket from Pottery Barn | console from Pottery Barn
knobs and pulls from Rejuvenation

Then, reading my September issue of House Beautiful, I was reminded of Miles Redd's amazing door:

Which got me to thinking that if we went with chrome and painted the console the perfect shade of robin's egg blue, it might keep the basic look of the bath just with a hint of color. I'd also throw in some more black accents to make the look a little more cohesive

lighting from Hudson Valley | paint is Meander Blue from Sherwin Williams

After pulling both boards together, I think I've made my decision about which bathroom I'm leaning towards, but I'm interested to hear what you think. Any preferences?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bauble Head

necklace from The Vintage Rhino on etsy | bracelet from JCrew | ring from Shopbop
necklace from Loren Hope | necklace from JCrew | earrings from Otteny

Just the other day I was telling some friends how my accessorizing skills are lackluster. I am in no way able to rock an arm party, tie multiple strands around my neck, or deal with the pain of big earrings. However, driving to work yesterday, I hatched a plan. You see, my future dream is to be a really fantastic old lady. (Dream big, right?) I want to be one of those full-of-flair ladies with stories, eccentric eyewear, apartments filled to the brim with books and artwork, and crazy accessories always worn with leopard print flats. I realized that any well-dressed yet slightly off-her-rocker old lady needs a collection of quirky and vintage jewels. Thus, this fall I have my eye on gold animals, oversized rings, and vintage inspired jewels. If I start collecting now, I just may pull off my dream in 40 to 50 years.

P.S. Someone please scoop up that elephant necklace. If you don't, I can't promise I won't...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Brass Accents

image from Material Girls

image from Design Sponge

image from Peppermint Bliss

If everything goes according to plan, in the next couple of months the husband and I will be in the middle of one giant project (that I couldn't be more excited about). After years of collecting files online and saving tear sheets from magazines, I have a pretty clear idea of where we'd headed. I'm going to put it out there that my compulsive magazine buying and blog reading has actually paid off.

One of the things we'll be doing is creating a Master bathroom. I have most of the main components pinned down. We're going with a classic bath idea with Subway tile, hexagonal tile floors, and vintage inspired mirrors. The one thing I'm torn about is the finish choice. Do we go traditional chrome/nickel or lean towards the more risky brass? Brass tends to look amazing and add a masculine touch to the bathrooms I see online, but I'm a little nervous that this only translates well when you have serious interior design chops or a really well-trained eye. Sassy or classy? That's the question. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012


all images from Amber Interiors

I used to be incredibly excited about online flash sales. I was one of those people who checked their computer constantly right at the time they started to find my next "I need you. I want you. Oh baby, oh baby." piece. My obsession finally dwindled to occasionally checking out the sales days after they were posted. Until today that is. Tonight is a sale featuring a few of my favorite bloggers (namely Amber from Amber Interiors), and I thought if you too have fallen off the flash sale bandwagon, this is the time to get back on. The bloggers featured have pretty varied aethetics; so I'm convinced they'll be something for everyone. Just don't click on anything before I do. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gallery Wall: Bright and Happy

I just might be a little influenced by the last days of summer with all the oranges, blues, and yellows I used in this gallery wall. There's nothing like bright colors, images of travel, and pretty watercolors to brighten a wall (and your day). I might not be the best morning person, but I'm pretty sure if I placed these over my breakfast nook, I just might have some enthusiasm for the day ahead.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Little Affection

all images from JCrew

I have this close, personal friend who just recently got a new dog and came up with the crazy idea of getting a few pictures with her, her husband, and their new pooch. Ya know, the "we've been married a few years, got a new dog, and need some new pictures taken?" Said friend is now hunting down some inspiration for this couple shoot + pup and realized that no one does the affectionate but not cheesy thing better than JCrew catalogues. Sure it helps that everyone is good-looking and impeccably dressed, but they also have that we're completely into each other vibe. Guess that's what Tyra has been talking about all these years...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Toile Obsession

image from Braebourne Farm

image from Vogue

image from Elle Decor

image from Lonny

My love affair with toile began at a young age. My parents' hall bathroom is covered in toile wallpaper with green marble countertops, and when I was younger, I loved trying to come up with stories for all of the different scenes depicted on the walls. Since then, I've always been enamored with the print. My first college duvet was blue and white toile, and I've made sure my mom has kept it all these years. I'm convinced I'll find a way to turn it into a pillow or use it to re-upholster a chair someday.

In the past few years, I keep seeing toile pop up in rooms in magazines, on blogs, and on my pinterest feed. Sometimes it looks pretty modern, and sometimes it adds a hint of history to a home. Either way, I'm all in. I would love to upholster dining room chairs in the fabric, because I'm of the school that a little bit goes a long way. 

What do you think? Is toile a fun spin on a classic or still a little granny for you?

Friday, August 10, 2012

On My Bedside Table

Granted I haven't done too much reading this summer, but Beautiful Ruins takes the cake for my favorite read of the summer (thus far). It is one of those quick reads that sneaks up on you with loveable characters and a little bit of heart.

Beautiful Ruins follows various characters loosely linked through a Hollywood Producer a little past his prime. The story jumps back and forth between the 1960s in Italy and the filming of Cleopatra to 1990's London, present day Los Angeles, and beyond. Jess Walter navigates between story lines connecting Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, a quaint fishing village, a rudderless writer, and a frustrated movie developer with ease. Walter manages not only to draw you into a hunt for unrequited love but also allows the reader to watch some of the characters grow up and find themselves (but also offers some that don't). I was pleasantly surprised with the way the book unfolded, and it's a great beach read that won't leave you wanting a little more substance. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In A Funk

image from Vogue

I generally try to share a little bit of my life without verging towards diary territory, but I've been in a funk the past couple of weeks and thought putting pen to paper (so to speak) might help a little bit.

For the vast majority of life, I spent the month of August getting ready for school (Pre-K through Master's degree). I always loved that end of summer routine where you got to mix things up - get a new haircut, buy some new clothes, pick out lots of pens and paper. Going off to college only meant things got better, because there were stacks of textbooks to buy, dorm rooms to decorate, and friends from all over to finally see again after long months apart. Plus, I loved the whole learning part. Call me a nerd (it wouldn't be the first time), but I loved the opportunity to jump head first into new classes, hear the perspectives of new teachers, and just learn something new each and every day.

Post school life has always left me in a funk around August. It's that time of the year where instead of feeling refreshed, I start to feel really beat down and somewhat bored. As of yesterday, I've decided I need a serious jumpstart, but here's where I could use some help. The current line of thought is to kick things off with this book, pick out some new recipes to liven up the post work scene's where things start to trail off. Mix up my fitness routine? Finally buy that pair of glasses I've been wanting? Pick out a reading list? Look up classes to take? 

So, dearest readers, any advice? What do you do to get out of a funk? Any advice/recommendations/thoughts? I'd really appreciate anything you've got!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August Wish List

Dress from Madewell | Bringing Up the Bodies from Amazon | Wolf Hall from Amazon
Print from Caitlin McGauley | Lucite tray from Parker & Rain | Pillow from Arianna Belle

After I put this collage together, I realized it is probably safe to say that my August wish list is heavily influenced by all the Olympic game watching I've been doing recently. I keep hearing about Hilary Mantel's books about Henry VII, and although I've read my fair share of books about the Tudors and even watched the HBO series, I can't wait to pick these up. I'm pretty sure I've found the perfect tray to lay them on as well. I've also got my eye on this print from Caitlin McGauley. I already own one of her prints, and it's one of my absolute favorites. Maybe a collection is in order? 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Late Summer Beauty

Nary a blogger misses the opportunity to tweet, instagram, or post about the newest JCrew catalog and with good reason. Christmas wishlists are made of this stuff, and there is never a shortage of creative styling. One of my favorite parts of the "style guides" is the hair and make-up ideas. The JCrew look of relaxed glamour is right up my alley. Lets, break it down shall we?

Nails: Short, colorful nails are ubiquitous in JCrew catalogs. They're heavy on the coral in this issue, and my personal favorite is Chanel Orange fizz. It's not too beachy; so you can wear it long into Indian Summer.

Hair: Let's all learn to master the messy up do/pony tail, shall we? A teasing brush is a must to generate some height and relax your hair a bit. Pin some strategic pieces back to add height and pull some slightly out to make it look a little less done. Just don't forget the hairspray to keep it together. I use L'Oreal Elnett, and it's gotta be some of the best stuff out there. It protects against frizz, you can easily brush through it, and it doesn't smell like hair spray.

Lips: I've worn Nars Schip all summer long, but I'm really liking the idea of something a little lighter and more feminine for Fall. Enter Bobbi Brown's Pink lipstick, one of those go-with-anything shades to add to your make-up arsenal. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gallery Wall

photograph from Eye Poetry Photography | print from Sugar Paper 
 vintage photograph from Leigh Viner | painting from winkofpink
print from Emma Kisstina | print from Minted

Once we've started laying out pictures for our gallery hall, I've realized these gallery walls you see everywhere are way harder to create than how they look! That random mish-mash of images you see on blogs and magazines, not so easy to create without looking forced or a little too out there. 

We're attempting to work with what we've got, but that hasn't stopped me from dreaming up some gallery walls I'd really like to create. I'll post a few of these in the next few weeks, because if I can't have them in my house, at least I can have them on my blog! First up, a feminine mix I would hang directly above my desk, in a dressing room, or even a living room if I could convince the other half. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Common Theme

image from Elle Decor

image from Vogue

image from Amber Interiors

image from Schuler Samperton

This weekend, I organized all the images on my computer and my tear sheets to really help me focus on decorating our house. While doing so, I noticed a pretty cohesive theme between some of my favorite images. Neutral backdrops, white washed wood, natural elements, and layered textiles with lots of pattern and ethnic prints. Something about them looks so relaxing, inviting, and laid-back. 

The top image is from Reese Witherspoon's house, and it's going to be in the new Elle Decor out later this month. Obviously, I'm going to scoop that bad boy up as soon as it hits newspaper stands, because Reese is second only to Gwyneth in my book. If her house looks as good as that one room, it's going to be a looker!
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