Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's in your beach bag?

What is in your beach bag?

Doesn’t that remind you of the commercial -- “What’s in your wallet?”  where these heathens run around and destroy a bunch of stuff ?  I’ll tell you what’s in my wallet -- nothing you would want to see.  I never have cash, I only have one credit card and my drivers license picture is embarrassing.  It’s much more fun to talk about what’s in your beach bag!

As many of you recall, I took a long weekend vacation this past week.  We headed to Mexico with 5 other couples to celebrate a very BIG birthday.  Even with tests looming and projects nagging at me, the trip was a definite must!  Is there anything better than yummy food that you didn’t cook with wonderful kid-less-for-the-week-friends and entrancing wine? This is how it looked when I arrived....

I returned extremely relaxed because I stayed by the pool most of the time.  Yep --- hard to move me from my favorite chair.  Anyway...back to my beach bag.

What's does a second time around college student, mother of two, wife of 12 years, former business consultant turned non-profit worker bring in her beach bag?  Not much as much as my career would indicate,  but there are a few key items.

1)  Sunscreen & Chap Stick -  Being the blue-eyed true blonde that I am, comes fair skin.  Combine that with the fact that as a student, I never see the sun - this could be deadly on a vacay to Mexico.  So, my top priority here was the Banana Boat #15 (oil version of course).  Yes, Charlie King....I am supporting your latest endeavor friend!  Then there is the boring, original Chapstick - only the original of course.  I have tried other versions but end up coming back to Wisconsin roots on this one.  My once freezing lips haven’t gotten the message that other forms of this waxy build up work just as good.  

2) A Book - Heart of the Matter - Emily Griffin rocks the house yet once again with her latest book! How luck was I that it hit the shelves the week before I left for my getaway and needless to say I was quick to purchase. Endearingly flawed characters with emotional complexity combine to create this fantastic read in a way that only Emily can orchestrate.

 And just when I was thinking that this whole decorating gig might be a little too much -- another confirmation that I’m doing the right thing.  Emily Griffin showed up in my Atlanta Homes Magazine on the plane ride down! I'm like...wait I know her...but she isn't a designer....ahhh...she is my favorite author in a design magazine!  And look at her house! If you haven't read her books yet -- no worries. You will hear from her soon.  Her first novel Something Borrowed will hit the big screen in 2010 thanks to the production companies of Hilary Swank and Edward Burns.  I can't wait!

Here is Emily in her Atlanta home workin’ it for the camera.  Beautiful all the way around!

 3) My favorite Design Magazines - House Beautiful, Elle Decor and Architectural Digest cracked the top 3. How can one go to the beach without the proper dreaming material?  Although I was curling up on the breezy beach with my magazines, wouldn’t this be the perfect reading room?  Lots of natural light combined with plenty of literature.

4)  Way too big sunglasses - Being that my petite head does not conform to the standards of most women my age, those trendy oversized shades really do look way too oversized for me. Nonetheless, fashion and the beach call so I plug ahead in my shades.  Hannah Montana, Hot Wheels and Disney Princess do nothing for my career in the form of sunglasses this year.....

5)  Homework - Ok, I know through all of this I am trying to sound carefree and wistful but the truth is that I do love to make really good grades.  In order to feed my relentless desire for A’s , I had to bring some of the dreaded homework. With one test and one project breathing their hot breath on my neck upon my return, it was out of necessity.  The project was in the History of Architecture and Furniture and the test was in Textiles.  But with an ocean view, a fluffy cocktail and precious friends, what’s the biggie?  So here’s a toast to Chenille being a lino construction and for Byzantine Architecture!

6) Iphone - I have sucomb to the dreaded Apple overtaking of the world.  My iphone is my third arm.  I really don’t know where I would be without it.  It took about 5 years to replace my flip phone and I even did that with hesitation.  But now, I could never go back.  Although it didn't exactly place every call down there, it sure was nice to have email access.  And I totally forgot to take advantage of the camera and only snapped this one shot of my husband lounging.

Whether your beach bag has the latest edition of People magazine or the newest Twilight novel, it’s important that you pack one -  handy ready to go at a moment’s notice.  You might just decide to go to the pool down the street for an afternoon of sun and fun with friends.  Take some time to get away and enjoy the sun.  To fend off the heathen invaders in your life so you have some left over for the important people in your sphere of influence. With that said...what's in your beach bag?


Monday, May 17, 2010

Destination Relaxation!

Fiesta, Siesta and the Mexican Riviera.  I can almost feel the tension and stress of the last few months melting away...I need to relax but don’t we all?  I’ve been managing the family, hitting the books and creating rooms for clients - so a tiny get away with good friends to Mexico is just what the doctor ordered.  Four other couples are joining us for a weekend birthday bash.  Perfect timing for optimum relaxation.

Speaking of relaxing, it traditionally brings to mind scenes of waves lapping gently against the beach or even a hammock swaying softly in the breeze.  But for me, it’s something completely different.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those things it’s just not what speaks to my heart.  Give me a great chair, a fantastic book, some design magazine throw in some of mommy’s “happy juice” somewhere in mid-afternoon...and I’m good to go. 

My relaxation perfection looks something like this image from Elle Decor with a sunny chair poolside....

Throw in a cabana and a disappearing pool and you’ve got the recipe for my happiness --- even in Dallas.

How about this soothing oasis of tranquility....did you notice my favorite combo again of the aqua and tangerine?

Although I am sure that Michael Phelps has a different vision for his workout, this pool is perfect for laps for a casual swimmer.  Cooling off in there would be nice also...

Yes, designing a backyard oasis would be one phenomenal gig but at this point I should concentrate on school ---  while in Mexico!  As I said earlier in the blog, my darling hubbie and I are headed to Mexico for a birthday getaway with friends.  Personally, I will be anxious to see if the resort truly lives up to the pics on the internet.  Take a gander at this little slice of heaven.

The pristine, idllyic setting is jaw-dropping, don’t you agree?

 Yes, friends, that is the beach kissing the edge of our resort!

Dubs on this chair  - and the towel and the plants and the drinks...

Did I mention that the resort comes with a disappearing pool? 

So...I will park my cute little fanny on one of these chair and peel the protective cover off my latest magazine with my oversized sunglasses and begin the relaxation ritual that can only be found in the Mexican Riviera.  The drinks will flow and the conversation will ebb until the setting sun sinks gently below the horizon.  Ahhh…finally….

Con amor-

Tuesday, May 11, 2010



I’m half way through the quarter.  Time flies when you are having fun.  It’s been quite a ride and here are the top 5 things I have learned at this point.

1)   I actually use this stuff
It’s true.  I am actually using what I learn in school!.  I remember back in college, the first time around, I kept wondering when I would actually use the financial calculations in the stats class I was taking. But not now!   From Drafting I, I have created a few quick floor plans for a client.  In doing this, I realized that large big chairs just won’t work on a certain wall - all because I measured properly and used all my furniture templates.  From Textiles, I learned to make sure the fabric runs the right way and that silk curtains on a west wall in Texas probably aren’t a good choice.  While running this morning, I actually identified the Greek Order of columns in my neighborhood.  Seems like the Corinthian type is the most popular….

2)   Ahhh….Summer Road Trips
There is no summer break for those of us at the Art Institute.  We run on the quarter system, year around, 11 weeks on and a few weeks off in between.  No more months off in the summer!  All the students in my class are lamenting about their friends who are finishing up their semester to return home for a break. 

But not us.  Looks like I will have some textbooks with me this year at the pool…but at least I will have a cute bag!

And this summer I will be driving a lot. No, it won’t be to Watercolor, Florida (our favorite beach spot) but on the many highways and streets of Dallas.  Mileage and gas are my new friends.  Not only do I have to commute to school twice a week, I am also driving around grabbing fabric samples, and shopping for furniture and accessories.  I haven’t spent this much time in my car since the traffic days in Chicago (think 2 hour commute from the suburbs to downtown, with snow falling and Michael Jordan playing that evening).  Thank goodness I have a big back trunk…and that my husband hasn’t mentioned the mess of our dining room that is now functioning as my new work room….

My poor dining room...crying for cleanup, redesign and new paint!

3)   I still want to be an architect or designer!
Yes, I have a totally new appreciation for architects.  After drawing tiny details of a home plan in Drafting I, I get the importance of correct measurements and flow.  But that doesn’t make me want to become an architect.  I actually get a bit bored drawing all these details - I guess that’s why they invented CAD (Computer Aided Design).  Bring on the color and furniture and I promise I will always bring along a great architect when I need one!

4)   Project Management is key
Of course, it is an art school and a good eye for design is essential.  But at the same time, you can’t do well without project management skills.  I’m grateful I got those first time around because I am putting them to much use!  Balance is the key for getting all my homework done, getting good grades, designing and purchasing while keeping my clients happy, and learning quickbooks and invoices (Thanks Jenny).  Most importantly, making sure the family is happy and cared for... 

It’s not a piece of cake.  I can’t exactly sit around and eat bon bons.  A new client asked me if I could have her three rooms done by Memorial Day.  Like, ok…sure…always up for a challenge….here are some of my orange accent inspirations…

5)   I made the right decision!
It’s hard to believe, but only three months ago I made the decision to jump into design.  I’m happy to report I’m totally thrilled with the change.  I’m definitely starting at the bottom, but I love what I do.  I mean, I actually get paid to shop with someone else’s money!  And all those design magazines I read every month?  I’m actually using them in my school assignments and my client work.  Oh, how it all is slowly coming together...

Love, C

P.S.  And yes Mom and Dad, I am getting all A’s.  But at least this time you aren’t paying for it…

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Prom 2010...and girly rooms

Leaders of the Pack – 2010.  Seniors 2010 Always Win.  Or my personal favorite: Seniors 2010 – the Best There’s Ever Been.  This time of year always conjours up the feeling of my own high school days.  Remembering senior skip day, late start and off campus lunch.  Do they even still do all those things nowadays?  Then of course, there is prom. (evil music plays duh, duh, duh)

Magical or horrific, good or bad every high school senior has memories of this day.  While out to dinner recently, many of you have probably seen the awkward couples trying to place their order while the waiter sighs quietly under his breath – all the while dressed up like the little adults that we hope they will become one day.  If you’re like me, you can’t help but take it all in and wander back to those carefree days.  The fashion, the smiles, and the excitement all take me back in an instant.  Lucky for me, I go to re-experience prom from a much more fun point of view last weekend.

In addition to being knee deep in clients, blogs, school and family -  I also get the privilege of leading a 12th grade girls Bible study.  Every Wednesday night, a group of beautiful young ladies descend on my house and make it their own.  I love them.  It’s not often that I get to be in the presence of females in my house, so when the opportunity to host a pre-prom party arrived I jumped on it.

Hangin' with the homies --- Megan and McKenzie.

With curling irons brandished and hairspray flying, the girls arrived in a flurry of activity.  They came wearing blah t-shirts and flip flops but emerged from the hairspray fog looking like movie stars in their gowns and heels.  They looked amazing!  It wasn’t long before the hotties were posed on my staircase for the camera.  After venturing to the neighborhood to get some phenomenal outdoor shots, I waved goodbye to my ladies.  They were off to dinner, dancing and after parties. 

What a gorgeous group of ladies!

After all the girly pink and glitter left, I did miss it a bit.  Keep in mind, that I live with 3 males who could care less if they wore the same outfit every day.  This proved to be too overwhelming for me!  I went to my happy place – design.  I asked myself the question:  if I could design a room for these girls, what would it look like?

Girly colors --  like bubblegum pink and chocolate brown? 

Soothing turquoise and bold pink?  (one of my personal favorites)

Or lime green and bright blue? With a cozy corner to discuss boy problems…

There’s always the black and white with funky pillows – classical whimsy.

With funky wallpaper…

And it needs to be sophisticated too…

Go graphic with tangerine and kiwi…

Or float away with a cloudy blue and sparkling chandelier.

So after whisking myself away to my happy place, I come abruptly back to reality.  I am amazed that I am getting inspiration from all sorts of places – even prom.  Wherever the great inspirations come from, my files are fat with ideas for my clients.  Ready to create the ultimate girls room at a moment’s notice.

Ahh…well, maybe someday.