Friday, January 1, 2016

Rise, Shine and Be Happy!




Happy New Year!

To celebrate the New Year I decided to create a Mini bucket list that's sprinkled with wellness goals and interesting ways to connect with family and friends.  It's truly amazing what happens when you write your goals down. I started this list in November when we learned that we would be staying in California for another year. Another year provides the opportunity to see and do the things we have not had the chance to do yet in California but it will also put more distance between me and my family and friends on the east coast. for christmas, my two dogs, Sadie and Lily, got a plane ticket in their christmas stocking. we are getting ready to majorly rock their world and fly them to California. We bought a house and closed yesterday on new years eve and look forward to having friends visit in the new year! cheers! here's to another year filled with promise and new challenges.


The list

Write more letters

Send birthday cards 

Watch the sunrise and sunset on a weekly basis

make my bed everyday 

Create a family cookbook with favorite recipes

Bring my dogs to California

Volunteer for a great cause

Continue to build upon my running routine

Take a yoga class

Try pure barre

Get a part time job with a local interior designer

Cook with all the new veggies discovered at the California Farmer’s Market

Plant a living wall

Check out a book from the Newport Beach Library

Cross the Bixby Bridge, hike the Ewoldsen Trail, Stay at the Glen Oaks Big Sur

Simplify my possessions, edit my storage units

Gather friends for a weekend to explore the Western NC farmstead cheese makers trail

Learn to make fresh pasta

Completely unplug for a week

Capture the California beauty in a sketchbook

Plant an olive tree on my patio

Get involved in a small group at my new church Eat at the chef and the farmer

Learn how to make cinnamon popovers like the ones at Zinc Cafe

Plan a sisters retreat

Cook for my friends

Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Take an architectural tour of Palm Springs

Invite my friends, all of them, to visit me in California

Read at minimum one book a month

Eat at a local food truck

Give up diet coke (again)

Take a plein air painting class

Host an antique pop up shop

Take a class to learn auto cad design

Learn to cook artichokes

Do something with my travel photos

Plan a family trip that pushes my envelope

Redesign my website 




my daughter and her friends watching the sunset in laguna beach




the sunset in corona del mar 


every day is beautiful, make it count!
 what's on your list?
write it down and make it happen!

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

California House Hunting




House hunting in California has turned into somewhat of a hobby for me given that the better part of every Saturday and Sunday have been centered around touring open houses. 

To say the least, it has been a humbling experience. Coming from the traditional architecture and sprawling homes of the South, I have quickly discovered that my new house in California will not be that quintessentially, charming California cottage within walking distance of the village and the beach. Orange County offers a very diverse landscape with pockets of houses and neighbors that each offer a very unique point-of-view. We have spent this past year exploring and trying to narrow down where we would like to live and unfortunately, rule-out some of the houses and neighborhoods that felt the most like 'home' because of our budget.

On the blog this year, I thought you might enjoy seeing some of my favorite houses currently for sale and also some of the snap shots I have taken through out the year during my house hunting trips.

Today, I am sharing with you THE HOUSE that took my breath away! My agent actually discovered it during Broker Preview and knew immediately that it would be a house that I would love. It is located in a charming enclave in Laguna Beach called Woods Cove. 

It offered absolutely everything I was looking for in a house BUT... the price. It is owned by a very talented local interior designer and has that lived-in, welcoming, California-cool style I love.

Enjoy!



A few envieable things that I noted from the exterior... I love the warmth that the natural wood of the custom gate and planter boxes bring to the grey color palette. I also think that the bracketed shelf over the garage is so interesting as well as the lighting choices.



Interesting lighting is a great way to bring character to a house. 

I really like the artsy, industrial light that anchors the family room as well as the small sconce that provides accent and reading light for the corner of the sectional. One of the important things a good designer brings to the table is a well-considering lighting plan that offers layers of lighting.

This house features lots of antique lighting that truly makes these spaces.



You enter the house through a dutch door that you can see in the back left of this photo. Also note the antique door in the right hand corner. The designer has incorporated antique doors in key spaces throughout the house. 



Of note in the kitchen...

In addition to the Carrera Marble countertop on the island, the kitchen offers Zinc countertops. In person, they are stunning! The floors in the house are reclaimed french oak.




The cozy bedrooms have nice built-in cabinetry and white linen curtains. 


Notice the windows that open above the bathtub... there are no screens! 

One of the things that I like the most about southern California is the 'open air' living. The temperature hovers in the 70's all year and there is virtually no humidity {or bugs. 

The flooring in this bath is Belgian bluestone... It's SO good!





Many of the original cottages in Laguna have a small, separate structure in the backyard. I would guesstimate that they are typically 10' x 12'. In almost all of the houses that I have toured, 
 you needed to use your imagination to decide how to best utilize these spaces.

I absolutely adore what this homeowner has done...

She created a little boho lounge for her teenage daughter.


I could move right in!



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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Surfing the Christmas Spirit


Before the big day arrives, i thought I would share with you a few of my favorite Christmas pins that make me say "I want to do that in my own home." 

I love discovering images that empower you to try it at home. 

I love decor, gifts and entertaining that has a stylish homespun quality 
that takes inspiration from nature.


I fell in love with this chic packaging tutorial that combines pretty ribbon with olive branch foliage and a monogrammed gold wax seal. 


This evergreen garland is so lush and gorgeous!


I have always been smitten with a simple boxwood wreath.


I am so going to do this in my next house!


I love a simple evergreen wreath especially when hung on antique doors.


Again, I could do this at home, so simple, so pretty! I especially like the mix of textures -
the ribbon with the evergreen and mercury glass of the ornament. 

This past weekend, I went to the Long Beach flea market and bought some beautiful vintage silk ribbon and a box of miniature vintage Christmas ornaments. I hope to use them to personalize my table settings and make my packages unique and special.


I love these almond studded pinecones! You could make the cake or buy one from a local bakery and add the pinecones at home.


This festive cocktail is so beautiful! I can't wait to try it!



I love the beautiful blog Henhurst Interiors written by Phyllis Trevor Higgerson. This stylish bar would be such a nice way to say "make yourself at home" and welcome guests.


I am always looking for a simple appetizer recipe and thought this one was pretty and easy to make. The sugared cranberries are such an elegant look for Christmas!




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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas in California



{The Garden Studio, Corona del Mar, California}

Christmas in California feels very different than Christmas back home in North Carolina! 

The weather is still beautiful here with a little chill in the air in the early mornings and temperatures in the low to mid 70's each afternoon. Flowers are still blooming and the air smells divine. 

I wonder if you have lived in California all of your life if you even realize how fragrant the air smells? It's citrusy, herbal and floral with a hint of eucalyptus and smell of the ocean breeze.

The strong contrast between the two places I now call home brings into focus both what I love here in California and what I truly miss back home. 

Last week, I went in search of Christmas California-style and stumbled upon The Garden Studio
The studio offers an inspiring array of services that enable their clients to fully utilize and enjoy their outdoor spaces. Be sure to follow the link and see their talent for space planning and integrating fire and water features into the garden. The thing I like the most about California living is the integration of indoor and outdoor spaces in their homes.


The Garden Studio is nestled in an original California cottage on the Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar. I loved everything about this charming, nature-centric Christmas display and thought you might take away some inspiration as well. Since I was a little girl, I have filled my pockets with things I have collected in nature from pine cones to rocks, feathers to shark's teeth. I am endlessly inspired by the colors, shapes, and smells found in nature. These things bring me peace and in this case fill me with the spirit of Christmas.






The window boxes are filled with clove studded oranges and the tree is decorated with dehydrated orange slices and pine cones.




The table boasts garland made of greenery and magnolia and pots of paperwhites filled with oranges.



Love the wooden planter box that the tree is planted in!


The front cottage houses a bespoke flooring company called PLANKS.
I hope to do another post on their inspiring story at a later date.
In the meantime, follow the link and enjoy!


Everyone has a dutch door here! I want one, too!


Apples line the flower beds.....


and pots are filled with ornamental cabbages and apples in a pretty pattern.



Here you can see a little bit of the architecture of the original California cottage.
The boxwood-lined flower bed is planted with a pair of apple espalier trees.


I miss planting in my old boxwood garden and love the way the designer created a pattern with ornamental kale, paperwhites and red apples.






There's a lot to be missed about the Christmas season in North Carolina ... here's my short list:

... the Christmas tree lots on every corner and the cars tied up with Christmas trees 

... the lush green lawns with trees strung with lights by night

... foraging for greenery in my garden to make a Christmas wreath for the front door

... our Christmas Eve walk around the neighborhood with the streets lined with luminaries


I'll be back in a few years and can enjoy these special things again!

Our daughter arrived last night and we have plans to enjoy Christmas California-style.

Tonight, we are celebrating my husband's birthday at our favorite restaurant and afterwards going for a stroll along the waterfront to see all the boats decorated for Christmas at the
for the Newport Beach holiday party and boat parade.

We are traveling up the California coast and spending Christmas Eve in Carmel and plan to come home through Big Sur and hike through the redwood forest. 

{My Christmas wreath last year made from greenery I clipped from my garden}

Merry Christmas!



Friday, December 11, 2015

The Gift of Time




Hello everyone and Merry Christmas! 

Forgive me, I know it's been awhile. The last twelve months have been a blur filled with lots of life changing decisions, air travel, moving, house hunting and exploring. I feel ten years younger and ten years older all at the same time!

The last time I was back in North Carolina, I had both friends and acquaintances ask if I would consider blogging again. Sometimes when you are on this side of blogging, you are not sure if you are posting things that are interesting, relevant, fresh, well-written, stylish or just in general adding something original to the landscape. I've been thinking a lot about the fun things I have discovered in recent months and think I have a few things that you'll find interesting. 

I'll start with my recent trip back to North Carolina. When I am home, I split my time between visiting family in Charlotte, seeing friends and getting my hair done in Winston Salem, cocooning in the mountains with my dogs and most importantly, spending time with my daughter who is in college at UNC Chapel Hill. I honestly had no idea how much I would miss these special people, familiar places and my dogs!

With that thought in mind, this Christmas I have been looking for gifts that offer an opportunity to spend time together while doing something fun. Can you even remember what anyone gave you last year? How about five years ago? 

My point? I miss my family and friends and want to give gifts that create an opportunity to spend time together and create memories. If you're like me, you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find that perfect gift for everyone on your list. I truly love gift giving especially when I stumble across that perfect something that reflects how much I treasure that person.  


{Candlefish, 71 Wentworth Street, Charleston, South Carolina}

On a recent trip home for my daughter's Fall Break we headed to one of my favorite destinations on earth, Charleston, South Carolina. That's where I discovered a chic, new concept store called Candlefish. It's a beautifully designed candle apothecary where you can make your own scented candle.  Confession: A little part of me died the day that Charlotte Moss stopped making her Virginia Candle and I have fantasized about replicating that intoxicating scent for years! Anyone else? Like a chain smoker, I used to buy them by the case and have the Virginia candle burning at all hours of the day and night.



Shopping in Charleston is always a pleasure not only because there are so many creative boutiques with original offerings but because the buildings have such captivating architectural details.

 The Candlefish store itself is a feast for the eyes. Everything from the exterior storefront to the gorgeous apothecary cabinetry to the logo and packaging is on point.  I love the door fronts and cabinetry hardware and also fell hard for the brass sign and logo on the storefront exterior. I enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the name and the brand here



In the center of the store is a large table that is set up and ready for a class.



Candlefish offers two hour classes for $45. 

Here's a blurb from their website that describes what you can do during a typical class:

Join our skilled Candlefish Chandlers to experience a hands-on, behind the scenes look at how we make our scented, soy wax candles. Class participants will try their hand at every step of scented candle-making process guided by our expert chandlers.
After perusing, sniff testing, and choosing the perfect fragrance from a selection of our Candlefish fragrance oils, each student measures and mixes the wax and oil to then pour two 11 oz. scented candles. Using all natural soy wax and 100% cotton wicks, your hand-made candles will burn clean and even.
Finish the process by creating your labels, “wicking” your jars, and pouring your hand-made candles, then enjoy 15% off all in-store merchandise. All classes at Candlefish are BYOB, and we will have glassware waiting for you!






The store also offers a curated collection of artisan made goods that would make for a thoughtful, memorable gift.  Letterpress maps from 42 Pressed and a selection of signature scents from the Candlefish archives.


Bowties from Forage Haberdashery.



I love a pretty package and the Candlefish packaging is just about the prettiest and most stylish I have ever seen! Notice the shocking pop of red peeking out from the inside of the bag... nice! I tucked a nice bottle of wine and two pretty glasses down in this gorgeous bag with a gift certificate for my favorite sister. 

Just in case I don't get another post off before Christmas...

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a holiday that is filled with special memories with those you love!

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