Catasphrophic hurricane coming your way?! Flo is just reminding us that summer isn’t over yet! Forget the halloween decor and pumpkin spice lattes… go home, whip up a batch of guacamole and shake up this cucumber cilantro margarita and ignore all this gosh darn rain! Warning:Don’t stop reading if you hate cilantro, which I know is common, just skip the cilantro for a cool twist to the traditional margarita that’s still super delicious!
Cucumber Cilantro Margarita | makes 1 cocktail
Muddle 3 slices cucumber, 2-3 tablespoons cilantro, leaves, the sugar and 1 lime wedge in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, triple sec and lime juice. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Circle the rim of your glass with the remaining wedge of lime, and add salt or sugar if desired. Pour over either pebbled/crushed ice or a large ice-cube and enjoy!
Gallery wall, take 2. Last time I gave some tips to consider when creating a well curated gallery wall so today I’m creating a gallery wall and explaining how I picked each piece.
To begin, you have to start with one piece of art. The piece I started with ended up being my anchor piece but that doesn’t have to be the case! Can you guess which one the anchor item is? Ding ding ding… if you guessed the top left, Valley by Jess Engle , you’re correct! This piece immediately jumped out at me and although sure I could have picked it’s mate, I decided to spice things up and build a gallery wall around it.
The white space and shapes are what I used to help decide on the complimenting pieces. For example, the bottom right print, Escape Routes #8 by Massimilano Massimo Borelli, matched the half circle and contained lines. They’re diagonal from each other so it doesn’t look too matchy-matchy but continues the same vibe. The splat print also mimics the lines and diagonal direction. I primarily used black and white pieces of art and photographs, however I pulled the yellow out just a bit more by adding the watercolor, New York Street via Minted. Again the yellow isn’t right next to each other, allowing your eye to venture to all the photographs, not just the ones with yellow. Three of the photographs have a primarily black background, creating a very edgy theme. And the two photographs that feature people, are opposite. One is David Bowie’s face, facing forward, and the other is a man waiting for the train, with his back to us. This opposition also creates a good balance and repetition without being duplicates.
I totally picture this gallery wall in a loft, over this sweet daybed, draped with a mongolian sheep skin in front of some white washed brick scenario. Yeah- I’m taking this gallery wall a little far by now envisioning a whole room around it but hey, a good gallery wall warrants it!
You guys. Demo day is less than a month away! The architect has been by, permits have been pulled, cabinets are being made, appliances are ordered, and it’s now almost not moving fast enough! I wish that it was August 27th, yesterday! Here’s a few images that inspired the end design that we came up with!
We’re going with a shaker style, stacked cabinet. The lower cabinets will be black and uppers white!
Countertops were a debate. We weighed the different materials – granite, marble, quartz and even porcelain! Each material has its own pros and cons but we ultimately decided on quartz. Low maintenance and being able to predict what each slab is going to look like (read: reduce my stress as much as possible) contributed to it became the clear winner! It was SO much fun going through and seeing all the giant slabs in person. So much fun that we changed our minds about 5 times on what we wanted! We narrowed it down to three and then two and after seeing the samples in our space (which I highly recommend because of lighting) and comparing to the color of our cabinets we picked a winner. We’re going with Calacatta Verona quartz!
The veins are lighter than other slabs, yet still defined and will hopefully make a really beautiful match for the island’s waterfall edge and slab backsplash. Which brings me to the next piece of inspiration… backsplashes. Pretty much from the very beginning I knew that I wanted waterfall edges on the island and a slab backsplash. I love the look those two features both create. Unfortunately this meant that we needed to get a second slab to cover the sq. footage, but I thought it was worth the extra cost. Changing to a subway tile (which is everywhere) or some sort of design would change the whole look that I was going for and since our space is smaller, the less busy the better to create an open and larger appearance.
Umm is anyone else on the East Coast forgetting what the end of July is supposed to feel like? Where are you sunshine and 100 degree weather?! All this rain is making my productivity scale fall but there’s nothing like battling the rainy day blues with something delicious! You’re welcome in advance for providing you with your next go-to recipe to whip up for brunches, lazy Sunday mornings, baby or bridal showers, etc.! These bacon cheddar chive scones are so delicious and surprisingly incredibly easy to make! They’re the perfect amount of flakey, savory and I dare you to not have more than one!
Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones | Yields ~12 small to medium size scones
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
4 tbsp cold butter (*don’t use margarine! They don’t come out as good!!)
1 cup of coarsely grated or diced cheddar cheese
1/3 cup of chopped chives or finely chopped scallions
1/2 lb cooked and crumbled bacon
3/4 + 2 tbsp heavy cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the middle of the oven. Lightly grease a baking sheet or scone pan with butter or cooking spray. (You can also line it with parchment paper.)
Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Gradually add in the butter until the mixture is unevenly crumbly. It’s ok if there are some chunks of butter- a standing mixer helps to break the chunks up and distribute throughout the mixture!
Toss in the cheddar cheese, chives, and bacon
Add in the heavy cream as you are mixing. If the amount above is not enough to make the dough cohesive, slowly add a little bit more cream until the dough becomes cohesive but not sticky.
Pat the dough mixture out into an even disk and cut wedges. If you have a scone pan, pull apart the dough and mold into the pan.
Brush the tops of the scones with either an egg white mixture or cream to get that pretty golden brown top.
Bake for 20-24 minutes, until the tops of the scones are golden and your house is smelling all sorts of delicious.
Remove and let the scones cool before biting in! Serve warm and if you have leftovers, refrigerate and pop in the microwave when you’re ready to indulge again!
*I’ve also added in some blue cheese crumbles to add in a whole other layer of savory and I highly recommend if you’re a fan of the stinky cheese!
D.C. isn’t the south… I know this. But this cocktail will take you to a southern state of mind regardless of where you’re sipping it! The black walnut bitters really compliment the sweet ripe peach and it mixes oh so well with the smooth bourbon flavor leaving you with just a hint of mint. Speaking on mint… I understand not all have mint infused simple syrup at the ready in the fridge, but I highly recommend you whip up a batch to change that! You can use the mint syrup for so much more than just cocktails. For example, throw a dash or two in hot or iced tea instead of granular sugar for a refreshing twist! I do usually have some on stocked in a mason jar in our fridge so it’s chilled, but if you don’t have any on hand it’s about the easiest thing to make:
Mint Infused Simple Syrup: Pour equal parts sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add about 6-8 whole sprigs of mint and stir. Chill before using in cocktails.
Southern Summer | Yields 2 cocktails
3 oz of Bourbon
1.5 oz of Mint Infused Simple Syrup
1/2 Peach, muddled
3 dashes of Black Walnut Bitters
In a shaker muddle half of a peach. Add in bourbon, simple syrup, and 3 hefty dashes of Black Walnut Bitters. Add ice halfway up the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a slice of peach and enjoy!
Not all gallery walls are created equal. Sometimes I think they’re too kitschy with the mismatched frames and colors, other times they stop me in my tracks. Like most decor, gallery walls can make or break a room’s vibe. It’s so important that if you’re creating a gallery wall you keep these tried and true tips in the back of your mind during the creation:
Use art that you really love. Art should speak to you and not something that you pick up just because. Plus good art is expensive! Even prints end up adding up when you mat, frame, etc. Sure you can find some good prints and pieces at homegoods, but if you find a piece that makes your heart flutter just go for it because I guarantee you’ll kick yourself for passing it up, or spend hours searching to find it again!
Pick an anchor piece. The anchor piece of art should be the decider of how much cohesion and difference is in your gallery wall. And don’t be fooled- anchor pieces don’t necessarily have to be the biggest piece of artwork on your wall but make sure it’s not lost with the other pieces displayed!
Have the right amount of cohesion and difference. I’m a big fan of mixing mediums and gallery walls is the perfect opportunity to do so. Choose different metal frames, add wood frame in there too. Try to keep it to 2-3 different color frames depending on how many photos are included. Another way to not get too mismatched is to stick with all wood shades, or the same color such as black or white but mixing between wood and metal frames. Always, always mix photography and prints and paintings. Pull out certain colors and/or shapes from your anchor piece to help balance the differences and similarities.
Don’t overwhelm the space. Gallery walls do not need to cover corner to corner. In my collection above I picked 4 pieces that spoke to me. I could have kept adding pieces but I tend to lean toward simple rather than complex. If you have a small wall sometimes adding a bunch of art brings that wall to life. If you have a large wall sometimes adding a bunch of art just looks messy. Make sure you consider other elements in the room when designing and organizing your gallery wall.
I’m in the process of slowly but surely developing a gallery wall in my upstairs guest room. It’s the back room behind my office/closet so I’m having a fun time figuring out the vibe I want back there. I’m thinking modern meets library. Here are a few of my favorite gallery walls done right for some inspiration:
Another house project checked off the ol’ never ending to do list! Completing projects are always satisfying but this DIY project turned out exactly how I imagined. The before and after of our backyard is night and day so I’m super excited to share!
First let’s start with a little before action (look below). How sad!!! Behind our house there’s an alley and vacant brick building. A lot of our neighbors park their cars behind their house so sitting out on the back patio area was never really that relaxing. We watched cars and people go by, and felt like everyone was looking in on us. It wasn’t private, it wasn’t relaxing, and if/when I was sitting out eating dinner at our little bistro set, I was just staring at a line of trash and recycling bins. Not really my first preference of scenery!
In December I started looking at the cost of replacing our fence. Given that we want to start planning our kitchen remodel soon, the $$$$ estimates coming in weren’t really feasible. I started thinking. And googling. And pinteresting. I knew that I could figure out a way to make this chain link fence not so chain link fence-y. I considered purchasing more of the bamboo cover that the right side fence is covered with, but considering I don’t love the look, I opted not to. After running by a few other options with J, we decided to give covering our chain link fence with a wood plank facade a go. So spoiler alert, the chain link fence is still there, you just can’t see it!
So our backyard went from this:
Wondering how we did it? Don’t worry, I’m about to share!
*Disclosure: I would recommend having two people assist in the actual putting together.
Since it’s two swinging doors, and ideally we wanted to still be able to open the doors if needed, we measured each “door” and figured out we needed two sets of 72″ H x 81″ W for each. (We had Home Depot cut the planks to the length that we needed to save a step at home plus it’s free.)
We picked out the stain that we liked, and stained. And stained. And stained for a total of 3 coats on each side. We realllly didn’t want water to warp the planks so we made sure we used up the gallon of stain and then purchased this Thompson Waterproofing spray to seal the deal.
Once all the planks were stained we laid them out and picked the sequence. We wanted to make sure we put the best planks with the coolest wood grains at the top, and ones with drips or nicks at the bottom since they’d be covered by the loveseat or other furniture in the future.
I painted the side posts of the fence an aged bronze/black to go one step further in removing that chain link feel.
We then used the six 1″x3″x6′ boards to create the “frame” on the fence. We braced one on each side, and one positioned in the middle with the brackets at the top and bottom to secure to the fence and prevent the planks from sliding.
Then plank by plank, position, level and screw away! (We used a screwdriver wedged between the planks to create a consistent gap between wood planks.) After we had all the planks up, we sat back and enjoyed the transformation for about 5 minutes before I wanted to get started on gardening 🙂
We went back and forth on whether to position the wood horizontal or vertical, and I’m so happy that we landed on horizontal. It gives it a little bit more of a modern feel, and goes with our patio furniture. I’m debating what we should do with the bamboo covering on the right end, and divider fence on the left… maybe paint them black? Or cover with the faux boxwood screen squares?
If you’re renting, this option doesn’t ruin the existing fence so it’s an awesome option for renters too! If you don’t want to put in the effort there are actually a ton of privacy screen ideas to consider if you want something less permanent or even more affordable than covering your chain link fence! I ordered this faux boxwood screen squares and was pleasantly surprised at how great it looked when I covered the single door next to the wood fence.
The total cost of the fence ran us about $450 for the wood, stain, screws, and brackets which is considerably more affordable than having a company put in a new fence.
Tell me this thing isn’t beautiful. The front porch, the transoms around the door- ah! It takes you back to a bygone era where sitting on the front porch with a glass of lemonade didn’t have to be pre-planned and scheduled into your day. My gosh golly this house makes me want to stop tinkering around with ours and just move on out to the Virginia/West Virginia line. The stained glass, screened in porch, exposed beams – it’s all too good! I got some good messages from the previous post I did explaining some of my design ideas so I figured I’d do it again with this old farmhouse built in 1896 on more than 6 acres! The wheels were turning as I clicked through the post’s pictures and for less than $350k, this house really only needs a little bit of TLC. A couple cans of paint would do wonders, maybe some fun wallpaper or antique finds but who ever buys this house… please please please don’t knock down the walls. Don’t do anything to those beams, and please don’t replace the stained glass windows. In old homes like these I envision taking it back to the way it was intended. Working from home was working on the land at this estate so here’s my idea for an office/library in this room with these beautiful windows…
I’d keep the wood floors (they’re in perfect condition from the looks of it), build up the shelves to the ceiling and fill them with books, color coordinated of course., and probably give them a fresh new stain- potentially in a richer shade of brown. Remove the old ceiling fan and replace with a light fixture like this or keep a fan and replace with this one, wallpaper the remaining walls, and add some very old school furniture that you can’t help but curl up with a book on.
As someone who has found themselves in front of a camera lense quite a few times you’d think that I’d be jumping at the chance to update my professional headshot after my recent promotion but instead I was instantly stricken with the reality that my teeth are not as white as I’d like them to be. I started pondering – is there a teeth whitening that don’t cost an arm and a leg and provide real results?! Yes, yes there is!
The system is foolproof, seriously. I was sent the package which included super easy instructions and I just went down the steps.
Smile Brilliant sends you a package with all the materials including an extra catalyst and base which totally came in handy. The first mixture I didn’t mix up well enough so it was a bust learning experience.
Step 1: Using one catalyst and one base you mix until they are totally blue. You might see a little bit of white marbling in the mixture is fine because if you mix for too long, they’ll harden and you won’t be able to make your impressions.
Step 2: Place the mixture in the trays. You have a top and a bottom tray and I recommend really trying to evenly distribute the mixture within 30 seconds. As soon as you’re done with step 2, move onto Step 3 fast and furiously! i.e. Don’t spread the mixture on top first, and then spread the mixture for the bottom tray. Don’t try to do them both at once!
Step 3: You’re all ready to make your impressions! Press evenly into your teeth with your fingers, but be careful not to BITE down. The mixture will flow over into your teeth and gums. Hold in place for about 2-3 minutes. You’ll start to feel the mixture hardening, which will make it easier to gently pull the mixture out of your mouth without wiggling! i.e. don’t wiggle- it can mess up your impressions!
Step 4: After removing your trays from your mouth (without wiggling) check to make sure that your impressions clearly show your teeth front to back. If you see any error, you may use the tray again by removing the impressions and starting over with the extra set of catalyst and base that Smile Brilliant provides to you! After letting the impression sit for about 30-40 minutes (read until hard) you rinse under cool water, let dry, and ship them off!
Before Smile Brilliant:
After Smile Brilliant:
Once you’re sent your custom-fitted trays, you use a little bit of the whitening gel and desentizing gel each time. I used Smile Brilliant for about 3 weeks for every other day before my headshot pictures. After week one I started to see a difference and after 5 weeks now I can’t stop #smilingfearlessly because I feel more confident in my smile and I have fun new headshots to use!
A few tips for a successful Smile Brilliant experience:
Brush and floss your teeth- super important since you want to get the best and most accurate impressions!
If you have a sensitive gag reflex, be sure to not just have eaten or drank anything heavy. While you’re doing the impressions the mixture does expand in your mouth a little bit so just be aware!
Have a book or something to do that doesn’t require talking while you’re whitening your teeth! Talking isn’t really an option unless you don’t mind not sounding like yourself.
Don’t try to use the whole whitening and/or desensitizing gels at once! Spread them out over time to make it last plus it’s way too much to use all at once!
Have I sold you yet?! Do you want to be headshot ready and #smilefearlessly?! Well then go ahead enter my GIVEAWAY for $149 Smile Brilliant credit, open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents! If you just can’t wait for the GIVEAWAY to close and you want to get started on whitening your teeth, click on the image below and enter promo code: chelseacollection15 at checkout for 15% off your Smile Brilliant kit! Good luck!
We aren’t so good at planning vacations in advance. We kick around an idea for a week or two and next thing you know we have a flight booked and less than a month to figure out what we’re going to do in Germany. Yes, this year’s European adventure will be walking the Berlin wall, frolicking around Prussian Palaces and taking in all the beer… I mean culture!
Luckily, I have some tried and true travel tips & go to outfits that require no additional advance planning! Here are my top five, never-deviate-from travel tips:
Hydrate: I’ve read that a plane cabin is drier than the Sahara Desert (seriously!) so I make sure to start hydrating days before I step foot into the airport. A few days before flights I start really focusing on loading up my skin and body with as much hydration as possible. I love rich oils and serums to deeply moisturize my face and hands and always pack them in my carry-on. I literally walk around with a water bottle making sure my body is getting at least the recommended 8, 8 oz. glasses of H2O a day and I typically purchase a bottle post security once I’m settled at my gate.
Snacks: Typical airline snacks such as nuts, crackers, pretzels or chips are loaded with salt which is just going to zero out all the hydration work you put in. Pack a healthy snack such as homemade trail mix, carrot sticks or herbal tea bags. Packing snacks that aren’t high in sugar, carbs, and dairy will decrease inflammatory conditions and help to ensure you aren’t starting your trip off with a fresh blemish!
Sanitizing Wipes: I don’t know why in the world this one took me so long to incorporate into my travelling, but packs of sanitizing wipes were basically made for traveling. Wipe down your seat, your hands, anything you want to prevent you from getting sick! Plus they’re only about a dollar so they won’t hit your vacation budget!
Scarves: If you’re traveling in the winter packing a scarf is a no brainer but I love to travel with a pashmina or cape/blanket scarf any time of the year! The dry air and temperature in the cabin changes so quickly it’s nice to have something to cover up with if you get a little chilly on your flight!
Comfort is Key: This is kind of a no brainer, but wear comfortable clothes (see tip above) and shoes that are easy to travel in. I recommend closed toe shoes that are easy to slip in and out of like mules or slip on sneakers so your toes won’t get run over by luggage. For longer flights I typically pack a pair of compression socks and put them on soon after take off before my feet can start swelling if I haven’t hydrated well enough!
I know these aren’t ground breaking tips but they’ve worked for me over the years and hopefully will be just a little friendly reminder if you have an upcoming trip planned! Safe travels!!