Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Simplified Life for a Simple New Year

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
-Mark Twain

Happy New Year.
It's 2017.
Time to live life to its fullest.

On December 30th, my mother-in-law passed away.
The last few days of her life,
she was in a hospital bed - surrounded by her husband (of 58 years), her 5 children and their 4 spouses (including me), her 9 grandchildren, and some of her closest friends.
There was so much love.
It was terribly sad
- and incredibly beautiful at the same time.

Being so close to death has made me feel extremely reflective. I am really feeling the importance of making the most of each and every day.

This event has brought out a lot of people's true colors -
some good and some... well, not.
Literally, there is a person "close" to me who expressed more sympathy for a person with a sick dog than they did for my family and me after this death in our family.
It was almost unbelievable.

No more...

2017 is the year where I simplify my life.
One way I am doing that is by letting go of some toxic relationships.  I have the love and support of really good people.  They are who I will hold on to and treasure.
The toxic people are the "bowlines" that I am throwing off this year.  The truly good people will be with me as I explore, dream, and discover what is truly important.

Like gorgeous Santa Barbara sunsets (above).

And peace and happiness in the new year.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Simple French Farmhouse Centerpiece

Farmhouse Style is white HOT right now.
Is it because of the popularity of shows like
HGTV's "Fixer Upper"
- or is it because people want to embrace a 
simple, authentic way of living?

Whatever the reason, I happen to like the trend.
It feels comfortable.
However, if you know me, my style leans more toward
French Farmhouse.

This week I have a very simple French Farmhouse centerpiece on my kitchen table. Even though it is made up of only three items, I love the color and style it adds to my table.

Source:  Pottery Barn

Speaking of my table, a year and a half ago, I splurged on the incredibly beautiful Cortona Farmhouse Table from Pottery Barn.  I love the finish and size.  It even expands - which is nice when you have a big family and like to entertain.  My table is flanked at the ends by two yellow armchairs with cane seats.  I purchased them at the Ventura Flea Market because they screamed "French Farmhouse" to me.  As I carted them to my vehicle, I was stopped by numerous people at the flea market complimenting me on my great find!  I've had them for about a decade now, and I love them as much now as when I purchased them.

In the center of my table,I placed this large ceramic chicken.
I love this piece.
I picked it up at a yard sale my neighbor was having back when I lived up in Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country (about 45 north of Santa Barbara).  My neighbor staged events and she had this chicken (and a matching rooster) from an event.  They were used for one evening - so they were, essentially, new.  I paid only $35 for the pair - and these things are huge.
Later, I was in an upscale boutique on Balboa Island and I saw the chicken and the rooster in the shop for $110 each.

Flanking my French Farmhouse chicken,
I have a set of candles set on yellow Pottery Barn candleholders.  These candleholders remind me of French confit pots.  I styled them with a little preserved grass to add a natural element to the centerpiece.

Overall, this centerpiece is simple - but it has exactly the look I was going for.  Because of the scale of the items, it has a substantial look to it,
and it provides a great POP of color to the room.

I love to scour Pinterest in search of inspiration for other French Farmhouse centerpieces.

Savvy Southern Style always has creative styling ideas with French flair.  Here she used some pops of my beloved yellow with some blue. I love that cow!
Source:  Savvy Southern Style

This French Farmhouse vignette would look fabulous as a centerpiece on my kitchen table.  The dried hydrangeas and white pumpkins would be great in the fall (...coming soon).
Source:  The Cozy Old Farmhouse

Here is another look that is so fresh.  I am inspired.
The wood lazy-susan and the vintage scale are perfection.
The ticking cloth adds a French touch in a subtle way.
Source: Must Love Junk

Thanks for stopping by.
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Linking up:

Dwellings - Amaze Me Mondays:

DesignThusiasm - Share It One More Time:

The Cottage Market - A Morning Cup of Joe

Coastal Charm - Show and Share

Between Naps on the Porch - Metamorphosis Monday

Cedar Hill Farmhouse - The Scoop

A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Displaying Lavender Indoors

Did you know that, of our 5 senses,
smell is the sense most closely related to memory?

Aaahhhh... lavender.
The scent immediately transports me back to
warm, sunny Provence.

I love to have displays of lavender in my home to remind me of one of my best vacations.
The trip was a dream come true.
I had taken years of ballet lessons
and years of high school and college French classes.
All the while, I had dreamed of traveling to France.

Four years ago, that dream came true.   I spent two weeks traveling in Normandy, Paris, and Provence.
As I walked to the shops and through the outdoor markets in Provence, the scent of lavender was my constant companion.  It wafted on the warm breezes everywhere I went. It is the scent of those dreamy days.

In Avignon, I purchased some pretty little lavender sachets to give to family members when I returned home.  The sachets were sewn from various toile fabrics in classic provincial colors.

In Aix en Provence, I went to the famous outdoor market and purchased some French-milled lavender soap.

Now, when I go to the Farmer's Market
I sometimes pass a lavender vendor.  Right away, memories of France flood my mind.

This week, I purchased 2 bunches of lavender at the Farmer's Market for the master bedroom. Sitting on my dresser, the smell of lavender fills my room,
while serving as a sweet reminder.
The memory is twice as nice when I display the lavender in a crystal vase that my hubby and I received as a wedding gift.
 It's hard to believe that I've had this vase for 20 years.

Did you know that lavender can be placed in a dry vase and last for about 3 years?
How's that for getting your money's worth?!?!

There are so many sources for lavender inspiration:

Hymn's and Verses posted this lovely pic of lavender topiaries. Pretty and clever...

Dear Lillie is one of my favorite blogs.
I love the serene spaces that are featured.
She shows a beautifully styled sideboard vignette with lavender in a silver trophy.  Stunning!

Another favorite blog is The Essence of Home.
She has some great tips for using an olive bucket for displaying lavender on a large scale.
I must try to copy this idea!
I have a similar olive bucket (which has, regrettably, been empty for a few months... oops!).

Do you have any unique ideas for displaying lavender in your home or garden?  I would love to hear about it.

Linking Up:

Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays

Peeking Thru The Sunflowers - Share Your Style

French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday

The Charm of Home - Home Sweet Home

DesignThusiasm - Share It One More Time

Dwellings - Amaze Me Mondays

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Beautiful Utensil Holders for the Kitchen

A little while back, Bestie D and Bestie M came to Santa Barbara to visit me.  We've been friends since 6th grade.  As usual, we had a great time together: laughing, eating, talking, and reviewing bad (in a good way) reality TV.
We also went to the Summerland
- a cute little town just minutes outside Santa Barbara.  Summerland has some really fantastic art and antique shops.  Bestie D made a major purchase of a large (and beautiful) painting for her home.  I wasn't quite as lucky - but I did purchase an antique pitcher from France, which I am now using as a colorful utensil holder in my kitchen.

This is a traditional pitcher used in France during the 1950's and 60's to advertise for Ricard pastis.  Pastis is an anise or licorice-flavored liqueur that was created by Paul Ricard in 1932.  Later, pitchers with the Ricard logo were used for bringing water, juice, or milk to tables in French cafes as a way of marketing the popular alcoholic beverage. I was immediately drawn to this charming keepsake of a French tradition.

I had been wanting to get my cooking utensils out of the drawer.  When I saw this pitcher, I knew it was perfect.  It adds a great pop of color to my kitchen and it has the authentic French flair I love so much.

This pitcher is now on display in my kitchen.  Nearby, I added a cute set of cicada salt and pepper shakers which I purchased from a little shop in Provence.  I like the way the yellow eyes echo the yellow of the utensil holder.

When thinking about a utensil holder for the kitchen,
I prefer to think out-of-the-box and use something that is both beautiful and functional.
While I used a pitcher, there are a variety of items that make great utensil holders.  I found a bunch of great inspiration on Pinterest.

Fleeing France used some time-worn planters and left their patina in-tact.  I have a similar white planter and this would be a lovely way to use it.


Bestie D and I both love pigs. It's an inside joke between us.  When I spotted this inspiration on Pinterest, I immediately thought of her.  This utensil caddy was from Pottery Barn but, unfortunately, it is no longer available.  Maybe, I'll try ebay...

Source: Pottery Barn (no longer available)

Tidbits and Twine and Savvy Southern Style show that great minds think alike.  They both chose to showcase their kitchen utensils in lovely silver champagne buckets.  I love champagne and I think this idea is genius!



Blue and white chinoiserie is that rare combination of classic and on-trend.  A beautiful chinoiserie vase or vessel makes for a chic, glamorous utensil holder in the kitchen.  It adds a pop of color to any space, while almost acting as a neutral.

Source: (original source unknown)

Finally, if you cannot find the ideal container in your home or at an antique store, you can always find stylish and inexpensive options at IKEA or Home Goods.  These stores carry great containers that could be used to hold utensils as part of a vignette.

Source: - (from IKEA)


Do you display your utensils in your kitchen?  If so, what do you use as a caddy or holder?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Linking up:

Life on Lakeshore Drive - The Bouquet of Talent

The Charm of Home - Home Sweet Home

Our Southern Home - Inspiration Monday

The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday

The Scoop

A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday

Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays

Dwellings - Amaze Me Mondays

Friday, July 22, 2016

Free Summer FUN in Santa Barbara

It has been a fun summer so far.
My family traveled for 10 days to Vancouver, Canada,
and we had a fantastic time!
We have also had a great time spending time around our hometown of Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara is a not only stunning, but it is also a great community with a ton of fun (and FREE) activities.

Outdoor Movies at the Courthouse

Founded right after a huge population surge California had following the 1849 Gold Rush, the current courthouse was rebuilt in 1929.  It is a beautiful building.  Visitors from around the world come to see the architecture and art (including the famous mural room).

In the summertime, the UCSB Arts & Lectures Department holds a Summer Film Series in the sunken gardens.  This summer, the series has a Bogart and Bacall theme.  We went and saw Casablanca.  What a treasure!  The audience cheered and clapped for many of the famous lines - which just added to the ambience of the evening.  Most people arrive at noon with their blankets and low-back beach chairs to stake out a great spot.  Then, everyone returns at sunset with delicious picnics to enjoy as the stars come out.
My family and I had a great time at Casablanca and we plan to return for several other films this summer.
(Find the calendar of events online.)

Free Concerts in the Park

On Thursday nights in July, there are free concerts at Chase Palm Park - a pretty, a palm-tree lined park right next to the beach in Santa Barbara.  Over 5,000 people bring their picnic and enjoy the music, dancing, and ambience.
There are some real characters in Santa Barbara and the summer concert series is one of the best places for some hilarious people-watching!

Sunset at Goleta Beach

While many tourists tend to go to the beach near Santa Barbara's harbor, a real treasure is Goleta Beach right next to the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The beach has a great pier, small waves, and a fantastic view of UCSB's Campus Point.
In the summer, I love to pack a picnic dinner and enjoy the sunset at the beach.  My teenagers bring their lacrosse sticks and toss the ball around.  We enjoy watching the pelicans, sandpipers, and pods of dolphins that frequently swim by.  It is a great little jewel in the Santa Barbara area.

Whenever I get out and enjoy special things offered in my community, I feel a sense of gratitude for being able to live in such a remarkable place.  I attended UCSB for my undergraduate studies 25 years ago.  When I left to pursue a career, I always dreamed of returning.  Four years ago, my dream came true - and I am so happy it did!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Travel - It's All About the Carry-On

Happy Birthday to me!
For my birthday (in January),
I received some money as a gift.
I used it to purchase something I've been
really wanting for several months
- and have been eyeing on Pinterest for some time:
the Lo & Sons OG travel bag.
(I did not receive any compensation for this post.)
I am sooo happy with it!

I've mentioned before that I am a "bag lady" - 
I LOVE purses, totes, and bags of all sorts!
I especially ADORE this OG travel bag.

The OG has a ton of pockets - inside & out.
It is a fantastic carry-on bag.

Whether traveling close by for a weekend,
or further away for an extended period of time,
it is REALLY all about the carry-on.

Being smart means packing light.

There are 5 steps to packing a smart carry-on for travel:


The "essentials" are first for a reason.
These are the things you can't live without.
Well, okay... you can live without them, but you can't travel without them!  When you are packing your carry-on, make SURE you have any prescription medications, and your passport (if traveling abroad) or other form of identification.
In addition, you need your ticket and/or boarding pass if you are flying.  Finally, don't forget your keys.  You can probably buy anything else if you really need it - but, if you forget any of the essentials, you're in for a bumpy trip.


Hey, I love my beauty items.  I try not to trowel my make-up on (no Tammy Faye Baker), but I also don't leave the house without a coat of mascara.  For travel, I keep my beauty routine simple.

Honestly, I recommend packing your HaB items in your carry-on.  Your items won't get lost and you will have easy access to them.  Personally, I like a little "in flight" touch-up before I land.  It's easy because all of my HaB items are close at hand.  I brush my teeth, spritz my face, gloss my lips, powder my nose, and run a brush through my hair.  Voila!  I feel refreshed and ready to begin my adventure.  Currently, I pack most of HaB in my new eBags Pack-it-flat Toiletry Bag.  It is flat, so it lays up against my laptop in my carry-on.  I pack my small liquids in a ziplock (not glamorous, but super easy).


Depending on the length of your trip,
you may be able to take all of your clothing in your carry-on.
I took a two-night trip to Pasadena, California, and I was able to bring everything for the trip in my OG Bag.
The key is to ROLL your clothing.  It takes less space and it helps prevent wrinkles.  For airline travel, you should always pack a scarf, like a pashmina.  You can use it both as an fashion accessory and as a light blanket on the plane.  (Don't forget a spare pair of undies, socks, and an extra tee!)
The OG Bag even has a small side compartment on the bottom that perfectly fits a spare pair of ballerina flats or other small pair of shoes.


I really enjoy reading and I used to travel with a bunch of heavy books and magazines.  It is funny to think of it now.
Laptops, Kindles, and cell phones make that stuff history.
I love that I can store my laptop in the cushioned area of my carry-on bag. I feel my MacBook Pro is completely protected. I also bring my Kindle and my iPhone 6s Plus.  Additionally, I pack my Canon Rebel and its additional zoom lens.  Finally, I bring the chargers for all of these electronic gadgets!  Wow.  It's a lot, but it all fits comfortably in the various pockets of the OG.  These electronic items help keep me entertained.  Also, I feel more comfortable backing up all of my photos each night I am on vacation. 


Some gum, breath mints, and a couple of protein bars help make the trip easy and comfortable.  This is my "go-to" trio for travel. I just pop them in a ziplock.

Traveling with just a carry-on is not only possible, it is WONDERFUL!!!  It makes a trip so easy!
When my hubby and I traveled to France and Italy
for a 3-week trip, we NEVER checked luggage.
He and I each took a 20" Eagle Creek rolling suitcase.
We also each brought a PacSafe carry-on.

I like my PacSafe, and I will certainly use it again.
I will especially want to use it in a place
where there are many thieves & pickpockets (Hello, Rome!).
However, when I am traveling to safer locals
(Hello, Pasadena.  Hello, Newport Beach),
I will be bringing my new Lo & Sons OG bag.

I hope these tips for packing help you with your next trip.
Do have any tips or suggestions?
Feel free to leave a comment below!

Linking up:

Feathered Nest Friday

Sweet & Simple Fridays

Wow Us Wednesdays

Sizzle Into Summer - It's a Party!

Work it Wednesday

Monday, July 4, 2016

Elegant Red, White, and Blue Decor

Happy Fourth of July!

Today, I wanted to share some elegant images
of red, white, and blue
to celebrate our nation's birthday:

With a white or neutral base (such as the gorgeous chair above), you can add a little patriotic flair without your decor become too kitschy.  The chair would look great complemented with a red ticking pillow and/or a beautiful blue toile pillow.  Finally add some red, white, or blue accessories (such as lovely white candle holders) and finish with a pop of gold or silver to add some sparkle.

Hope each of you has a great holiday!