I’m over on Houzz today posting about 20 ways to get the coastal look without the kitsch; click over and check out a few of my ideas for creating a beach house style of your own!

Sometimes I forget that back when I started this blog, it was all about interiors. Now I’m posting about parties and fashion and food and beauty… it’s easy to forget your roots. Until of course, something inspiring comes along and I’m right back to where I began, writing about gorgeous interior design. Two rooms in the past week have made that inspiration light bulb flicker on. One by Nick Olsen for House Beautiful, the other by Tori of Sitting In A Tree Events —  both are very different, yet both polished and feminine. Which is your favorite?

Images 1, 2 via House Beautiful, 3, 4 via Glitter Guide

My long weekend hiatus turned into a full week off from blogging; sometimes you just need to step away from the computer to recharge. The past few days have been filled with relaxing, swimming, kayaking, and few cocktails for good measure. I’ve been snapping pics along the way, how have you been relaxing this summer?

As a blogger, my camera accompanies me on almost all of my adventures and being the accessory hoarder that I am, I’m thinking my Nikon needs a little more pizzazz. So, I’ve been researching some new straps to dress up my camera. Even if I’m behind the lens, I still want to look chic! Which do you like? Preppy, classic, or glam?

Images via 1, 2, 3

When I saw previews of the Fig. 2 Design greeting card line from the National Stationery Show I knew that I had to chat with designer and owner Claudia about her collection.  With the launch of her online store this week, Claudia is stopping by DomestiKatedLife to answer a few hard-hitting questions about what inspires her and how she manages to celebrate events big and small.

So Claudia, how did you start Fig. 2 Design?

Claudia: Fig. 2 started out of coincidence. After I left my full time job as a graphic designer at a local studio, I had planned on continuing with corporate and small business graphic design projects. But I had done a number of custom wedding projects and thought it would be fun to do more, so I sent a local bridal boutique a post card with the hopes they would refer me to brides. Little did I know that after meeting with them I would walk out with a request to design an entire wedding invitation collection. I was so flattered and excited!

What inspired this line?

Claudia:  The Fresh Collection wedding line is inspired by my imagination. I love to look at magazines and blogs that feature weddings, but I try not to look at any that feature a lot of paper products because I want to stay true to my aesthetic and not get too side tracked by what others are doing. So if I see that someone had a wedding on a farm and it was a small and cozy affair, I pretend I’ve been hired for that project and I design what I would have shown the bride and groom.

The Neon Card greeting card collection was inspired by a handbag I bought 2 years ago in London. I loved that it was a bright orange but didn’t realize it was neon until I used it for the first time. I got a ton of compliments on it and the next spring I saw another bag that had a touch of neon and fell in love with that one so I knew I had to use it on stationery. My style is fun and festive, but I also LOVE type and calligraphy so I came up with 3 series of cards. First is the Festive Fluorescents that incorporates confetti, pennants, and swirls. For the pattern series, I was inspired by one of my husband’s dress shirts. I love pattern but it has to be bold. That said, fluorescents aren’t for everyone, so I thought pairing the classic patterns with just a tough of neon and some fun phrases would suit anyone. For the final series, the calligraphy set, I collaborated with Michele of Meant to Be Calligraphy. We’d worked on a few things together and I knew our styles would work well together.

Your products are so festive; do you have any tips for how to throw a fabulous celebration?

Claudia: My best tip for a fabulous celebration is to be yourself! If you’re not comfortable, it will show. Concentrate on what you do best. Whether it’s making fun cocktails, killer flower arrangements, or amazing food. And definitely wear something fun and festive! Even if you have a simple dress, wear some fun accessories! I love big flower pins from Emersonmade, any of the cute sparkly goodies from Ban.do, or chunky necklaces from J.Crew or Anthropologie. And of course, fabulous shoes.

There are so many adorable cards in your new line, do you have a favorite?

Claudia: A favorite? Maybe the neon confetti! I love confetti! What’s more fun than colorful sprinkles? There’s nothing wrong with celebrating something every day. It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday, it could be as simple as enjoying a mani-pedi with my best friend.

Thanks so much for stopping by Claudia! You can check out these cards and more of her collection in Claudia’s newly launched shop: Fig. 2 Design Studio

I’m very excited to have some fabulous guest bloggers this week sharing summer essentials for their favorite travel destinations. Next up is Mae, one half of the blogging duo from Here In This House and she’s sharing her San Francisco essentials (I’ve always wanted to go, she’s convinced me a trip here is a must!); Welcome Mae!

It was three years ago this month that I moved from San Francisco to the suburbs of New York City. Despite growing up on the east coast, I have found that something about those ten years in the Bay Area has made me a California Girl. So as I get re-acclimated to life on the east coast (including easy access to bagels and having four seasons a year), I sometimes find myself dreaming of the old California days. On my imaginary journey on this (almost) summer day, these are some of my essentials…

WEARING LAYERS. First, you’ve probably already heard the quote “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” This observation on the local weather is pretty much on the nose. With fickle fog and quickly changing weather, San Francisco living demands layers of clothing to easily adapt to any weather condition. 

[Okay, you won’t need gloves but don’t discount the value of a lightweight scarf! Image by TheSartorialist via Pinterest]

GETTING OUTDOORS. San Francisco is blessed to have a diversity of environments within an easy driving distance. So it’s no wonder that being outdoors is a huge part of the culture. (One thing you can be sure of in summer is that you won’t be getting much, if any, significant rain to spoil the fun!) Some of my favorite memories of being in nature are hiking amidst the historical redwoods of MuirWoods or enjoying July 4th fireworks (in the freezing cold!) at ChrissyField. But my absolute favorite has to be TildenPark in Berkeley. Tilden offers not only the usual buffet of hiking trails, but also a petting zoo, carousel and miniature steam train ride for the little ones. In the summer, it can be a great place for spotting (but not picking!) wildflowers and having a picnic lunch.

[View of Mt. Diablo from Tilden Park. Image by newbirth on Flickr]

 There were a few things that I wished I had done before leaving, including one of the popular bike/ferry circuits. One option is to rent bikes and take the ferry over to AngelIsland for the day. Another option was to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge and then head to one of the many waterfront restaurants for drinks and/or dinner, like the ever popular Sams.

[Image by StudioPhototrope via Flickr]

 EATING GOOD FOOD.  Since I have a deep appreciation for all things food, it should come as no surprise that many of my fond memories revolve around great restaurants and meals in the area. With such incredible access to produce all year-round, eating local and eating fresh becomes second nature. To name all my favorite places would take pages, so here are three that are closest to my heart. Just before we moved, I was able to spend long, leisurely breakfasts (usually the hearty porridge) on the patio at BoulettesLarder in the glorious morning sun watching the tourists pass. The staff in this small cafe was always so friendly and warm.  Breakfast at Boulettes was almost always followed taking in the hard-core gourmet eye candy in the FerryBuilding.

[L to R: The exterior sign. The restaurant’s namesake. The breakfast porridge.]

I would make any excuse to head over to the Cafe at ChezPanisse for Alice Waters’ famed cuisine (more casual and easier to get into than the fixed-seating dining room downstairs). And any errand, big or small, that brought me to that neighborhood (known locally as the GourmetGhetto) would require a stop at the CheeseBoardCollective. And while I’d shop for their cheese – because you must if you’re there — the draw for me was really their baked goods. Chocolatethings, zampanos and one of the Tuesday specials, Berkeleybuns, were not to be missed!

[Working the open kitchen at Chez Panisse Cafe. Image by MatthewHine via Flickr

 But the food I miss most of all is far more humble than these outlets of national renown. In a little town called Kensington, there is a little place called Inn Kensington. This was our Sunday staple: a place we could walk to, that we knew inside and out and where the owners knew our faces. In addition to the requisite eggs and other breakfast staples, they had amazing housemade whole-wheat toast, biscuits and hash browns. I loved that it seemed to only ever be filled by our neighbors. I’m not surprised to see that this hyperlocal institution is still there, even as businesses around them on the tiny Main St. have turned over. I dream, most of all, of one day getting back there. (I sure hope the biscuits are as good as I remember!)

[Downtown Kensington. It’s ain’t big but it’s got heart! Image via MichaelGreenslade

Many thanks to Kate for giving me the opportunity to share my version of the Bay Area with you! It was such a pleasure to be able to revisit my essential spots from the area.  But, as with any list, there are sure to be places that I’ve missed. What are your favorite haunts? Do tell!


I’m very excited to have some fabulous guest bloggers this week sharing summer essentials for their favorite travel destinations. Elise, one half of the blogging duo from Here In This House is closing out the series with her essentials for a trip to the Panhandle of Florida. Welcome Elise!

Growing up in the Deep South, my family didn’t venture too far for our summer vacations. One spot we visited yearly was the Panhandle of Florida: Destin, Sandestin, Seaside, Grayton Beach, and surrounding areas. Generally this area is referred to as the Emerald Coast for its sandy white beaches and cool green waters (the only of its kind in the continental U.S.). You can stay in a myriad of spots, but generally a beach- or bay-house rental in one of the beaches listed above is the way to go. I don’t get back often enough now, but when I do here is my essential list:

Reading list- Be sure to brush up on some new and classic Southern literature while lounging on the beach or in your bungalow’s hammock. Here are some of my favorites that I would suggest you read or re-read: The Help by Katherine Stockett, South of Broad by Pat Conroy, The Sound & The Fury by William Faulkner, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, & Mark Twain’s Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race. You can pick up a copy of these or any other book at the fantastic independent book store in Seaside: Sundog Books.

Souvenirs from Alvin’s Island– this kitsch, souvenir shop is quinsentential beach tchotchke shop; pick up a magnet, coffee mug, or alligator head. Bud & Alley’s in Seaside- a classic panhandle open-air restaurant & bar where you should be sure to pick a t-shirt too. It’s part of the open-air market that sells local vendors’ wares. Red Bar in Grayton Beach- a funky little “shack” (no, not the Love Shack but close:) that has good food and live music. Their menu changes daily & is written on a small chalkboard they bring around to your table. Big Kahuna’s Lost Paradise water park in Destin- fun water slides, put-put golf, and rides for the whole family; always tons of fun (still hold some great memories from my childhood). Seaside- rent a bike and explore this “New Urbanist” model of a community. There are adorable vacation homes, a fantastic open air market, and great shops all around the gingerbread-styled town. Schooner’s in Panama City Beach is referred to the “last local beach club” and has live music as well as a great bar and food. Fun times indeed. And if you want to get your family’s photo professionally while you are in the area, I highly recommend a good friend of mine, Elizabeth Laird. She takes amazing photos; just check out her website and you’ll see!


My last recommendation is to remember that the Panhandle is still considered part of the Deep South and it’s culture is closer to a Southern state than the rest of Florida. The people are known for being overly hospitable and accommodating; the pace is slower; families partake in activities together; and the food is fresh, local, and amazing.

I’m very excited to have some fabulous guest bloggers this week sharing summer essentials for their favorite travel destinations. Next up is Amy from Plain and Fancy Living and she’s giving us all of her essentials for a hot week in South Beach, Miami! Welcome Amy!

Hi, this is Amy from Plain and Fancy Living. I want to thank Kate for having me guest post, this is such a fun Summer Series. My absolute favorite vacation spot is South Beach in Miami. I highly recommend this destination for fun and sun.

First and foremost, you need to get your skin & body ready for the trip. You want to look and feel good about yourself. Work-out, work-out, work-out. Tracy Anderson can help you get your booty in shape and tighten any trouble spots. I like the Perfect Design Series workouts.

If you want a “safe” tan before you strut your stuff, I recommend using St. Tropez. You will need to get the eraser to get the stain off of your hands after you apply it  (nobody looks cool with brown palms).

You will need a smokin’ hot swimsuit while you are among all the South Beach bodies. I love the colorful swimsuits from Trina Turk. If you desire a bit more coverage I like this cute one-piece from Anthropologie.

Luckily, you don’t have to pack a lot when you go to Miami because you will be in your swimsuit for most of the trip and you will want to shop at all the great boutiques for stylish dresses and shoes. Honestly, you just can’t go wrong with this destination because there is so much to do. You can relax on the beach, go to a spa, shop, try great restaurants and the nightlife is full of endless possibilities!

Happy Summer!

 

 

(Bag, Hat, and Shoes)

I’m very excited to have some fabulous guest bloggers this week sharing summer essentials for their favorite travel destinations. Next up is Katie of  House Rules and she is sharing all of her Bermuda  essentials from day to night; welcome Katie!

I’m a longtime fan of the eye candy on DomestiKatedLife—and after moving to Boston last summer, I learned Kate is equally delightful in person. I was thrilled when she asked me to share one of my favorite summer spots while she’s off on her own weekend getaway.

If there’s a heaven, it looks like Bermuda. Think: pink sand, watercolor houses, and clear blue waters. Days are laid back—moped rides, tennis, and lots of beach time—but prepare to dress up at night (i.e. blazers and ties for the guys). There’s something about scrubbing off the salt and sand and putting on a pretty dress that makes even the most standard cocktail hour feel particularly celebratory. I’ll cheers to that.

Do: Start the day with a spirited game of doubles. After breakfast, hop on your moped and ride along the Hamilton Harbor. Park your bike at Elbow Beach and grab a snorkel—its one of the best places to spot fish (and an old shipwreck) on the island. If the afternoon is stormy, plan a trip to the Crystal Caves.

Read: On my summer reading list: The Paris Wife, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and Anthropology of an American Girl.

Wear: By day, colorful bikinis, khaki shorts, and simple cover-ups are the rule—just make sure whatever you wear on your moped won’t stop traffic (ahem, miniskirts). I like carrying an unstructured beach bag so I can easily cram it in beneath my moped seat. Nighttime is decidedly more dressy on this British island—you can’t go wrong with bright, preppy cocktails dresses paired with Jack Rogers.

Eat: I’m not a steak person but even I can’t resist the food Waterlot—especially the truffled macaroni and cheese. Wear a roomy dress. Other favorites: Four Ways Inn (old school with great fish dishes), Hog Penny (pub grub), and Coral Beach (seafood and dancing on Thursdays).

Sleep: The Reefs. Hello, paradise.

Images: Clutch, Dress, Cover-up, Beach bag, Sandals