In the Mood: Dine Al Fresco at Home

In the Mood: Dine Al Fresco at Home

Though I've enjoyed elaborate al fresco dining in the past, like this date night at home for Valentine's Day, a simple tapas menu is my favorite. It's easy to put together a platter of olives, nuts, crackers, cheeses, a bottle of chilled sauvignon blanc or rose', some pretty linen napkins and you have a perfect al fresco snack.

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Creating a "Sunny Escape" for House Guests

Creating a "Sunny Escape" for House Guests

Scott and I had the pleasure of hosting house guests for the long weekend. It was late summer and the weather was picture perfect for poolside lounging and some outdoor fun in Chico. My sister, Dorie, and her guy Michael, were up from Newport Beach for the weekend and I wanted to create a “sunny escape” for my special house guests. My first step is to prepare the guest roomFreshly washed linens, fluffy towels, candles and fresh flowers are a must. For this visit I added some lovely dark calla lilies to the mirrored bedside table.

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Creating a Cozy Space at Home

I was recently asked about my must-haves for creating a cozy, relaxing space. If I had to focus on one starting point to create a cozy space, I would say alwaysstart  in your bedroom. Let's get down to basics and focus on the most important element, the bed. We spend a large portion of each 24 hour period in our beds, sleeping, relaxing, reading, dreaming, napping and connecting. It's an important space to invest in layers of high quality luxurious sheeting, comforters, blankets, throws, pillows, and comfy details. I'm all about layering and a feeling of luxury in the bedroom.

Layers of pillows
Layers of pillows

The great 'pillow' debate lives on in our house. Scott bemusedly wonders, "Why do we have so many pillows?", but I can't live without them. I have pillows for comfy support, for creating just the right angle when I want to read or type on my iPad, and decorative pillows for a little style. My Savvy Sleepers satin pillow case (see the silky number above?), is a must-have for the anti-aging and smooth morning hair benefits. I'm addicted to mine (and buy in bulk for gifts)! I am also super excited to be carrying Savvy Sleepers in my Stylemindchic Boutique (online).

This is a fun post from Dale of Savvy Spice blog, creator of Savvy Sleepers, and she's wearing a Stylemindchic Boutique bracelet- it's so pretty on her.

Back to cozy comfort. My first high quality purchase of a sheet set was the gold standard Frette brand, while traveling in Italy. Luxury linens make such a difference in quality of comfort and sleep. And let's face it, even with sleep issues, like many of us have, comfy sheets help us feel pampered (as we toss and turn). My Frette sheets are still luxurious,12 years later, but I've never wanted to spend the money to invest in another set. Recently, I've been pleased to discover a newer brand, stateside, that rivals the luxury of European linens, with more reasonable price points. Parachute was developed by Ariel Kaye from California. Her experience with European linens was similar to mine. "Years ago while traveling through Italy, I found myself in a picturesque hotel on the Amalfi coast. After a long day, I got to my room ready to unwind. I pulled back the duvet, arranged the pillows to my liking, crawled into bed...and found perfection that I didn’t know existed. Those sumptuous sheets were softer than anything I had ever experienced." This young entrepreneur from Los Angeles started her own line of luxury bedding, with more accessible prices, when she saw the need. The company also gives back, which is a plus.

See more luxury at the Parachute website.

Beautiful linen sets

Swatches for lines from Parachute
Swatches for lines from Parachute

Luxurious swatches

Along with my linens, pillows, and a faux fur throw blanket, layered to create a nest of a bed, I add lightly scented candles, a fragrance reed diffuser, and a linen spray to add a freshness to the sheets, to my bedside table. My current favorite is here from London.

I love to add elements that have meaning, like the framed mirror that hung in our family cottage at Lake Tahoe for years, and the gilded dish my mother brought me from her honeymoon in Europe last year.

Scott and I purchased this chandelier at the Clignancourt Flea Market in Paris, during that same trip when we bought the Frette linens. Another element of cozy comfort for me is mood lighting. I love a chandelier, candlelight, and lights on dimmers, to set a mood in the bedroom. By the way, not every element has to be expensive. The wallpaper in our room is from Lowes, the European Square Pillowcases & curtain panels are West Elm and the chair was on a major sale at TJMaxx.

I appreciate little details like framed photos, sentimental items and, of course, fresh flowers.


Motherhood Day and Celebrating Us

Happy 'Motherhood' Day to all! If you have birthed a baby, adopted a baby, fallen in love and became an 'insta' stepparent, been a nurturing auntie, or stepped in as a grandparent to care for your grandchild, you are part of the motherhood in my book. Motherhood can encompass all kinds of nurturing and care. I see it everyday as a school psychologist.  I am surrounded by an army of nurturing, caring teachers, clinicians, nurses, administrators and staff.

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Creating a Welcoming Guest Room

Creating a Welcoming Guest Room

Be my guest! It's finally the summer season which means many of us will be doing some travel of some variety. It may be a luxury resort, a tour, a road trip, a camping adventure or visiting friends and loved ones for a vacation. With that in mind, I've been in the mood to update our guest room for summertime guests.

Start with freshly laundered, high thread count (read smooth)  sheets.  I love to use all white sheets in our guest room for a fresh feel. I add a lightweight comforter, either down or hypo-allergenic (best for those with allergies). This bold black and white duvet cover captured my eye the other day and I'm liking the additional pop it gives the room.  I layer on a colorful coverlet, this one is DKNY, folded at the lower edge of the bed which can be added for cooler nights to adjust the level of warmth.

I always add fresh flowers~tuberoses, freshly cut roses or white lilies have lovely scents. Gardenias are fresh and fragrant from our garden during the summer season. I like to float them in a pretty vase or bowl. 

My mom, Jeri, is a flower lover and had fresh flowers from her garden in the house, most days, while I was growing up. This small tradition definitely makes life a little more beautiful. 

Lightly scented candles (don't forget the matches!) are another favorite touch.My current favorite is the Dayna Decker candle.  I always include an alarm clock but hopefully, no one will need to use it during a relaxing visit.

This glass dish is originally from my husband's family. Scott's mother had labeled it (using tape and waterproof pen) with this caption 'Daddy State's candy dish 1800's'. Labeling family heirlooms adds is an instant reminder to the family of the history of the piece. A history that might otherwise be forgotten.

Fluffy white towels are always a must in my house. Magazines for early or late night reading is a nice touch to deal with insomnia. I often include a travel magazine for dreaming about the next adventure.  Putting items in a welcoming basket is a good way for your quests to know you thought of them in preparation for the visit. This Kai perfume oil smells like a tropical holiday in a spritz.

When I travel I easily get dehydrated so a carafe of water within easy reach is essential to quench the dreaded midnight thirst.I like to change out the photo based on who is visiting. Our girls are our most frequent overnighters so I love to use this one from our trip to Cabo San Lucas in 2007.

On a tray, I include some favorite spa items like the MOR body butter, sugar scrub, and fragrant soaps.

A light summer weight robe is also a nice touch to avoid any 'mishaps' around the house. #tmiThis chic number in Greek key motif is one of my favorites.

A corner chair is always handy for conversation or putting on shoes.

This little sparkler was a find from Target.

The vintage print and two petite florals painted by my mom, Jeri, many years ago are special to me. Aren't they sweet?

My final tip~Stock up on toiletries and extra supplies for guests in the guest bathroom. I always supply toothbrushes & toothpaste, lotions, deodorant, band-aids, anti-bacterial ointment, and aspirin.

Typically my recommendation is that a weekend or long weekend is the perfect length of time for a visit. You know what they say about how guests and fish alike don't you??(After three days they both begin to stink.......ha ha ha -just jokes here!!;) I tend to follow that rule when I am a guest in someone else's home as well. 

Leave 'em wanting more.... also a great motto for life!

If you are welcoming guests this summer or being a house guest yourself,here's to long lazy mornings catching up over coffee, walking and talking, belly laughs and shared sunsets, with a glass of wine, enjoying those you love. 

Are you having house guests this summer? 

How are your travel plans shaping up? 


Al Fresco Life and Living Outside

Al Fresco Life

The al fresco lifestyle is all about taking life outside.  It's finally spring (joy!) and that means we are gearing up for the season of throwing open our windows, carrying our movable feasts to dine alfresco, the alluring possibility of lazy afternoon naps on the patio and warm evenings under the stars is on the horizon.

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In Italian alfresco means "in the cool". Love that!


 It may be a fresh, sleek space with natural elements

or a classic, luxurious elegance with warm wood tones and a roaring fire.

There are elements of each photo that appeal to me. I've done outdoor living spaces of different styles over the years~from South of France to Cottage Garden to a sleeker, more modern version in our current space. We are working on an update and I will share more on that soon (yep-a do it yourself project-more honestly a do it 'himself' project).

No matter what my style of outdoor living space becomes I do have some essentials:

*Candles are a must to create an ambiance in my outdoor spaces.

*The sound of water~ a water feature, water fall or even a tabletop fountain~ creates a relaxing mood

*Fragrant plants (citrus, night blooming jasmine, tuberoses are all lovely)

*A throw blanket to ward off an evening chill

*A pot of herbs to pick for grilling or adding to alfresco dishes

*I love to add a curtain to a deck or patio space to soften the look-even in sleeker styles

*A fire element. Yes, to candles and the next step would be a flickering fire bowl or fireplace to set the mood.




What is your favorite style of outdoor living? Do you spend time zhushing up your space to get it ready for the season? Any tips?

What are your must-haves?

Here's to our upcoming al fresco season~are you like me? Can hardly wait!