Category Archives: Favorite Things

the best of birchbox

Do you Birchbox?

In case you have been living under a rock these days, it is a monthly subscription service that delivers 5-6 high-end, well-vetted beauty samples to your mailbox for a cost of $10/box.  When the box comes in the mail, my 5 year old and I jump up and down and run inside to open it up and see what surprises are inside!

I signed up for Birchbox in May 2012, and have received 13 boxes to date.  I have ordered about 1 full-sized product for every box sent to me, which at about 20%, is a pretty good success rate!  There are a number of ways to accrue points on the site for discounted products, such as writing reviews and ordering full-sized products.  Also, all orders over $50 ship for free.

Admittedly, before signing up for Birchbox, I never routinely spent more than drug-store prices on most of my make-up and beauty routine.  And, I had a routine that I was happy with — I wasn’t thinking that this service would shake-up my products, but I was so wrong.  I like that I can tryout a product with very little commitment, and if I like it, I do not mind paying more for a product that I know that I will use a lot.  I estimate that 60% of my beauty routine has morphed into Birchbox products!

Here are my favorites, so far:


 Nick Chavez Color-Saver Sulfate-Free Shampoo, $22.  This leaves my hair so frizz-free and smooth, even during the summer in the South!


 Beauty Protector, Protect & Detangle, $21.95.  This product replaces conditioner in the summer for me!  I spray this on my damp hair before I blow dry it and it leaves my hair really shiny and smooth.  It smells like vanilla and cotton candy!  I have given my 5 year old my trial-size bottle and we use it as detangler on her hair – she loves it too!


 theBalm Hot Mama Shadow & Blush All-in-One, $20.  I use this as blush and it is the perfect amount of color, bronzer and illuminator.


 Vasanti Brighten Up! Face Rejuvenator, $34.  I use this face wash twice a day (even though it says to only use it 5 times a week) and I love how clean, soft and smooth it leaves my face.


 Coola Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face, $32.  This is the lightest, most effective and yummiest smelling face sunscreen I have ever found.  I mix it with the next product every morning in the summer.


 Jouer Matte Moisture Tint, $38.  In the winter, I mix this with my moisturizer for a great overall tint with no shine or oiliness.  In the summer, I mix it with my sunscreen during the day or wear it alone in the evening.  It is such a light-feeling but full-coverage, tinted moisturizer.

Do you subscribe to Birchbox?  If not, here is an invitation.  If so, what are your favorite products??

Random Things That I am Liking Right Now

Below are a hodge podge of items that I am loving at the moment with no regard to order (or price tag in some cases):


I.DIE.  Bananas.  OTT.  {Insert favorite Rachel Zoe saying here.This coat ($298) from Anthropologie is perfection.


I love these greek key accent tables ($179) from Acacia.  I think they would also look great with a coat or two of white or navy blue paint.


I can’t stop looking at this family room featured in Cookie Magazine this month.  I absolutely love the symmetry and the dual living spaces created in the same room.  Somehow, the “wood cabin look” works without being to country or campy.  The contemporary drawings above the hearth are beautiful and understated.  Love.


I would love to gentley place one of these beauties on my desk and stare all day.  At $625 a pop, I guess gazing at the Maine Cottage website will have to suffice.


The best affordable jean of the season — Gap’s Long and Lean ($59.50).  I love the higher-waisted, trouser feel of these jeans, and the long inseam options.  They are so comfy too.


Aren’t these tables from Unica Home ($263) museum-worthy?  I would love to use two or three of these jaw-droppers in front of a couch or love seat as a cocktail table.  Simply divine.


I think this table lamp ($69) would look great in a home office or study.  I would love a pair sitting on either end of a console in a hallway too.  Who knew that it was from Pottery Barn Kids?  Kids prices for fab lighting, nice!

So, what’s striking your fancy lately?

Favorite Things Friday


The fabulous Molly from My Favorite Things invited me to partake in her ongoing series, Friday Favorites.  I listed 10 of my favorite things, which wasn’t an easy task!

Please CLICK HERE to head on over there and check it out!

Here are some hints about my favorite things:







Thanks again, Molly and My Favorite Things!

[Images courtesy of: 1. Kelly G Design, 2. National Park Service, 3. Wikipedia, 4. Pottery Barn, 5., 6. National Gallery]

(mini) Favorite Things Friday

If I won the lottery or was Queen of the world, I am sure that this would be one of my favorite things:


[Forest Canopy Bed, Anthropologie, $5,298 for queen]

{Mini posts for a while.  Regular posts will be back sometime during the week of August 17th.  xxooxxoo!}

Favorite Things Friday – Her Little Happy Places!

I am so thrilled to have Alison from My Little Happy Place guest blog for this week’s edition of Favorite Things Friday.  Alison is one of my favorite blogstresses and MLHP is on my daily must-read list.  Check it out!  I love her unique perspective and eclectic style.  And LBH, who could be better qualified to blog about the things that make her happy, right?  I hope you enjoy reading about her favorite things as much as I did – thanks a million, Alison!

When Ada-Marie asked me to participate in her Favorite Things Friday post, I was so tickled, but also a bit nervous – this is my first guest-post!  I have to admit, picking my “favorites” is a rather daunting task – each day brings new discoveries, hence, new “favorites.”  So, I tried to think of things that are, and probably always will be on my favorites list – however long it may become!

Burt’s Bees Lip Balm

Burts Bees balm[1]

I seriously CANNOT live without this amazing lip balm.  This is the pic of the one in my bedside table, but I’ve got at least another four tubes of it floating around at any given time.  I can’t get enough of the minty-herbal flavor, and credit it for having smoochably-soft lips! 😉

Dessert Cases

Dessert Case[1]

gelato in Sienna[1]

Really, need I explain?  This dessert case at a wonderful cafe and emporium here in Brasilia.  There’s a little lime tart that’s the perfect tangy-sweet morsel!  Does it get ANY better than gelato piled up – like this pic I took on a trip to Italy? Mmmmmm!

Great Before & Afters


Turquoise bureau

It goes without saying that great before and afters are inspiring, but I also love to see how other people can visualize design.  These are the before and afters of an old, french provincial bureau we inherited.  I went bold with the lacquer turquoise, and I’ve never regretted it!


My Turquoise[1]

I’ve had a thing for turquoise jewelry for as long as I can remember.  I just love the stone.  This is part of my collection – most of it made by moi!

Citrus Zest

Zest[1]Fresh citrus zest adds such a punch of flavor – I’m a huge fan!

Ralph Lauren Fragrance

RL perfume[1]
I don’t know if Ralph Lauren has ever produced a scent I didn’t like – I just don’t think the man knows how to go wrong – in any design, fashion, or merchandising sense.  I wear the classic scent, Lauren, and the new classic, Ralph Lauren Style.

White Dishes

white dishes[1]

I have a small collection of white-ware.  I always smile when I see groups of it – in magazines or on friend’s shelves.  Simple, unpretentious, classic.

Of course…my absolute favorite thing is watching my two favorite peeps “do their thing”

Avery playing[1]

Ben BBQ[1]

Thanks again, Ada-Marie for letting me participate in such a fun post!


Favorite Things Friday — An Interior Designer’s Happies

Welcome to another edition of Favorite Things Friday!  This week, I have enlisted an acclaimed and fabulous interior designer – Paul Corrie of Paul Corrie Interiors to share some of his favorite things.  Check out his cool blog!  Paul and I were good friends in high school and recently (and so luckily for me!) reconnected on Facebook.  Paul’s blog was a huge inspiration for spark!

A huge thanks to Paul, and without further ado, enjoy Paul Corrie’s Favorite Things:

It should go without saying that my loving partner, parents and family, and friends are the most favorite things in my life.  In an attempt not to embarrass them, however, I thought that I would focus on favorite things of mine that relate to, influence, and impact my everyday world of interior design.


I almost always grab a small San Pellegrino water before leaving for any design appointment.  I came across the individual plastic bottles a couple of years ago, and it’s definitely my beverage of choice when on the go!  It’s fantastic in flavor, refreshing in taste, and stylistically fabulous for the workday.


I absolutely love white hydrangeas, and they are my first flower of choice…I love to have a tight cluster of them on my dining table and in my office on a regular basis.  They’re so clean and classic, and add just a touch of softness and sophistication to any space.


When I renovated my home a couple of years ago, I was very particular about how to make the best use out of all of the spaces…so selection of pieces was key!  Aesthetics always takes first priority for me as a designer, but functionality took a very close second.  I found this 18th Century Gustavian buffet in Los Angeles, and it has definitely become one of my favorite things.  I use it to store my TV and stereo components versus the typical media cabinet.  I just love its patina, rough finish and texture, and scale.  It’s so wonderfully versatile in that it can be used in so many spaces for so many different purposes.  I definitely think that this was one great find!


When selecting fabrics for a particular project, I’m not only concerned about color, but also texture.  I’m a huge fan of using linens and velvets.  There is something so casual about linen and so elegant about velvet that when paired together in various manners, they can make a dramatic statement and be the perfect balance of texture and weight.


Paris is one of my favorite places in the world…it’s so rich in history and architecture, and full of culture and life.  It’s also home to some of the most fabulous flea markets you could ever imagine.  I visited last year and came across what’s now one of my favorite hotels, the Relais Christine.  Formerly a 16th century mansion and located on the Left Bank, this hotel had the most gorgeous flower-filled cobblestone courtyard and charming rooms that you might ever encounter.


Last but not least, I couldn’t list my favorite things without including our little girl, Cindy.  She’s a 10 lb. shih-poo that’s filled with so much life and love, and she brings so much joy to our lives.  We absolutely adore her!

Favorite Things Friday!

All of my guest blogging prospects were smack dab in the middle of summer vacay, or heading out for sorties to fabulous locales for the long weekend.

So, I have decided to share some of my favorites from the room of my home that has received the most reflection and attention – my daughter’s nursery.  Next Friday, we will have an amazing interior designer guest blogging about his favorite things.  Here goes:


This bubble gum lamp was one of my first purchases in my first house.  It now sits next to the glider and casts delicately tranquil shadows on the walls in the evenings (translation, 3am).  It’s like an oversized nightlight!

I bought this little chest of drawers at an antique store while on vacation in the Thousand Islands in upstate New York.  I fell in love with its miniature proportions, worn look and beautiful glass knobs.  The mirror hanging above belonged to my daughter’s great, great grandmother.  This ensemble sits at the end of the long, narrow dormer in the nursery.



I could not resist these feminine, fun and whimsical birdy curtain holdbacks, aren’t they sweet?  They make me smile!


This vintage Holly Hobbie plate hung in my bedroom growing up and its matching pair hung in my sister’s bedroom.  I flanked them on either side of a great Victoria Hagan mirror that I found at Target!  It’s fun to have familiar, sentimental and adorable items in my daughter’s room.  I am toying around with the idea of buying a few more plates from the set on Ebay and doing a larger display.



There you have it – a few of the items that make me happy on a daily basis!  As always, thanks for reading.  Wishing you a very happy 4th of July!

P.S. I thought I would include my daughter’s favorite thing too – her BFF Longley, the stuffed giraffe:


Favorite Things Friday – Fabulous Flea Market Finds!

Welcome to the second installment of Favorite Things Friday!  Enjoy this guest blog by a friend who I have known for 25 years!  She has a great eye for style, is the fun and crafty blogstress behind Namesake Design and is the (now famous) designer of her son’s nursery, which was featured yesterday by Project Nursery.  It’s “trading spaces” today in blog-land and I am guest blogging for her – so after you have read all about her favorite things, click on over and check out my Eight Great Etsy Finds!

First, thank you to the Queen of Spark for inviting me to guest blog. This whole guest blogging things feels a bit like trying on the clothes in your best friend’s closet. Even though her clothes are different from yours, you know you’ll find something to borrow that suits your style perfectly. So thanks for indulging me while I try Spark! on for size.
If you’ve ever visited my blog, (I promise that will be the only shameless plug of this post), you’ve probably figured out that I have pretty eclectic taste and a DIY spirit. I love to mix old and new, and to repurpose and refinish furniture. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that two of my favorite things about summer are flea markets and garage sales, nor that some of the accessories and furnishings that I love most in my home came from flea markets, garage sales, and other similar venues.  The following are a few of my favorites.
Kitchen Island


I actually found this island set out with someone’s  trash. Since it could have just as easily been sold at a yard sale, I’m including it among my favorites. I think it was used as a potting table or storage for a shed. I love the color of the wood and its rustic feel compliments my 40’s inspired kitchen nicely.

Cake Stand


I have a soft spot for cake stands, and I am probably only one away from having a “collection”. I picked up this unique glass stand at a flea market in Long Beach, CA.
1950’s USA Pottery



I found this set of 4 green pots at a garage sale. I love the varied textures and deep green colors. I have used the pots as votives,  planters, and simply for decorative purposes.

Tin Ceiling Tile


I found this unusual tin tile at the flea market in Long Beach. I knew that I had something special when two different vendors offered to buy it from me. I am not sure of its origins, nor do I really care. It probably lost any value it had when I had it mounted and framed.

Vintage Postcard


I picked up a bunch of vintage post cards at an estate sale a few years ago and have used them in a variety of ways. The post card pictured hangs in my bathroom next to another vintage post card from Hawaii. The frames are from Target.
Dressing Table and Chair


I found this table at a garage sale and freshened it up with some bright white paint. The chair was a family hand me down, and was also freshened up with a coat of paint and new fabric. Both are right at home, and hopefully make guests feel at home in my guest room.


This was an EBay find, but since I consider EBay to be the modern day flea market I have included it in this post. The chandelier had been stored in a barn and was quite dirty when I received it. I dressed it up with new candle covers and crystals. It hangs in my foyer and makes me smile every time I walk in the front door.
Green Jug


Last but certainly not least is my large European jug. I found it at a flea market in Charlotte and had to have it. Unfortunately it has been relegated to the closet for the time being because my toddler is obsessed with it, and is constantly stashing toys in it.
I hope my Friday Favorites will inspire you to test the garage sale, estate sales, and flea market waters near you!

FIRST Favorite Things Friday – She Tells It Like It Is

Welcome to the first weekly installment of Favorite Things Friday.  The premise is to have people share whatever makes them happy.  I love the weekly Favorite Rooms Friday column by La Dolce Vita and the Friday Etsy Finds posts by Namesake Design.  Our first guest blogger is one of my BFFs, has exquisite taste, a gorgeous condo and is the wildly popular and snarky blogstress behind Telling It Like It Is:

These are a few of my favorite things…

So, much to my chagrin, NeedSpark inspires me daily to keep a neat and clean house and to redecorate.  I constantly want to redecorate. 

Which is silly.  Why, you ask?  Because my home, as far as anyone who sees it is concerned, is pretty chic-ly put together (yes, I’m speaking for them).  In the five years I’ve lived there, I’ve managed to create a warm, inviting, and, I’d like to think, appealing and self-defining living space.

Through the process, I’ve accumulated—through gifts or otherwise—a bevy of possessions.   Some are unique, some not so, but all hold a special place in my heart.  And hearth.

Let’s start with my monogrammed, gold colored, chenille Pottery Barn throw.  This is, quite possibly, a gift I use more than any other (from none other than Ms. NeedSpark herself).  My initials are monogrammed in a rich burgundy, which melds well with the gold of the blanket and even better with the red overtones of my living room (think big, red, comfy couch).  The blanket is practical yet indulgent; I love nothing more than changing into comfy clothes (PJs at 5:30?  Yes, please.), grabbing a bowl of stove-popped popcorn (with butter and parmesan), and wrapping myself up in the opulence that is this blanket.  I find myself covered with it whether the room is chilly or not.  It’s just that awesome. 


My next favorite thing (wow, I feel like Oprahbut with less money and fame…and weight, lbh) is my Princess cheese grater, which was also a gift. 


My princess (to NeedSpark’s pleasure, I’m sure)  is wearing a yellow (or, if you will, gold) dress (which brings in the gold undertones of the adjoining living room.  Go.  Me.).   It is, obviously, for decorative purposes and I have never used it for its innate purpose of, well, shredding cheese (because who, really, shreds their own cheese anyway?  Just buy it shredded, people).  But the Princess does have a wonderful presence, standing watch daily on my rolling mini kitchen island.  Which also serves as the location of my third favorite thing…


My red (see a pattern here?) KitchenAid stand mixer.  The ultimate wedding registry splurge…except, in my case, I bought it for myself because I just had to have it and didn’t want to wait for that potential spouse to show up on the scene before I could have it or officially wish for it.  The mixer sits regally (ha!  Like the Princess!).   I have a hard time putting it away, not because it’s unbelievably not light but, rather, because I really just love looking at it.  Don’t get me wrong, I use it.  A lot.  And it has absolutely gotten its money’s worth.  It’s useful and decorative at the same time.  The red shininess of it is a great accent to my black granite countertops and my caramel colored bamboo floors (I was green before green was cool).  I love it so much I even use Windex to shine up the bowl.  Don’t worry, only on the outside.  

And my last favorite thing—for now—is the artwork I have hanging in my kitchen.  We have already established that I use my mixer—and what I use it for, mainly, is baking.  Cakes, pies, cupcakes, brownies, cookies…you name it, I make it.  Bakerella I am not, but I do enjoy a sweet treat every now and then (more now than then, if I’m going to be honest).  I have, on the only wall that has no cabinets or appliances attached to it (but does have a horribly unattractive circuit breaker “closet” built into the wall that needed to be covered) a framed print by my favorite artist, Wayne Thiebaud.  The painting, called “Cakes,” is amazing and the perfect accoutrement for a baker at heart who also hates empty wall space.  The colors match my scheme perfectly and it is a cheerful and bright addition to my windowless kitchen. 


A huge thank you to our guest blogger – I love your favorite things!  Stay tuned – next week, I will be posting about the challenge of selecting fierce carpet runners and we will have another fabulous favorite things guest blogger on Friday.  Thanks for reading!