Feeling Bookish: The Busy Girl's Secret to Lifelong Learning...

Ahhh, books. I used to read self-development books with a voracious appetite. These days I am too busy reading stories to my own little ones and devouring design books to dig into hardcover volumes that promise to shake my core and realign my life. What did I read once upon a time? beginning in junior high, every biography by a successful mogul I could get my hands on. Richard Branson, Lee Iacocca and others. As I grew into a woman I turned to a wide variety of health, beauty & wellness books for knowledge. And then there was the steady diet of strategy and self-actualization books I couldn't get enough of reading. Each blessed book got me one step closer to the idealized version of myself.

Well, that was single, child-free me. Married with little ones me is a bit book starved and the lack of informational nutrients flowing into my brain is beginning to wear on me. I crave knowledge. I thirst for books leading me to deeper fulfillment, greater enlightenment and a renewed sense of drive. And yet, the library books and Amazon delivered books go unread. It's time to put an end to this. 

As the months tick by I find my "wish list" of personal growth books getting longer. Reading in bed is not an option, as I read my girls to sleep and them promptly pass out myself. My solution? Audible. It began with a commitment to master Italian and develop conversational foreign language skills. Delighted by the prospect of knowledge-on-demand I downloaded the classic "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. A big fan of efficiency, my on-the-go approach to book consumption quickly became an obsession. 

Don't get me wrong, those of you with the time to curl up with a book should absolutely do so. I find that my nose is buried in interior magazines, style books and other design-related reading material a majority of the time. The idea of lying in bed listening to...well, anything, is a dreamy concept. The added advantage of taking in new information passively as I drive to Whole Foods or run errands in almost a guilty pleasure.  Some of these are books I have in hardcover form on my nightstand or elsewhere in my library, yet just can't find the dedicated time slot for reading these days. And fiction? I will likely need to wait until I swaying under a palm tree in near the equator before I indulge myself in such pleasurable reads. (confession: for those I'll get paperbacks which make window-seat reading a breeze while aboard those Virgin Air flights and can be easily gifted or donated upon completion. :) 

But for me, these non-fiction reads are ideally suited for listening to at night or in the car. Luckily my two mini-me's seem more than happy to practice "buongiorno" intermittently and learn how to think and grow rich from the comfort of the back seat. For that I am incredibly grateful. 

Want to see what titles I have on my early 2016 audio "reading" list? A few older classics, a few new-ish best-sellers and a few mind-expanding volumes. Here goes...

CURRENTLY ON MY DIGITAL BOOKSHELF



Are you a bookworm or a lifelong learner? If so, do you Kindle or use another digital format? I'd love to hear how you take in new information and what is on your "must read this year" list. Please feel invited share!

Accoutrements: Luxurious Upgrades for Your Morning Coffee Ritual...

{Photo by yours truly,  Franki Durbin }

{Photo by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

Many, many times I've committed myself to nixing coffee from my personal health habits. And just as many times I've run full speed back to those steaming cups of espresso begging accept my apology. First it was a shift to specialty loose leaf teas, then I thought the much lauded matcha was the cure. Graciously it accepts my temporary change of heart and accepts me back with a warm embrace as though my temporary dalliance with its less caffeinated competitor never occurred. True love, indeed. Simply put, I love coffee. I genuinely do.

While Starbucks is where my loyalties lie when I am out and about, I fully credit my introduction to Nespresso for my exceptional at-home coffee life. In a few seconds I have an expertly crafted doppio greeting me with a smile. In less than a minute a cappuccino awaits. Latte lust? No problem, I'll have that ready in moments. And no, this post isn't sponsored, I genuinely adore my pretty little metallic pods of perfection and so do all who come to visit. 

While my little petite Pixie machine is adorable and sufficient, I recently discovered its more sophisticated cousin, the KitchenAid Nespresso countertop machine. With an impressive die-cast construction and top-of-the-line inner workings, this exceptional beauty has my heart aflutter. This magnificent crema-producing wonder promises coffee perfection for years to come. 

Santa, baby. If you're listening, this glorious contraption has been added to my list. Curious about my china pattern above? It's Ralph Lauren Hutchinson, and it happens to be on sale (as is the KitchenAid). Treat yourself to a supremely fabulous personal morning coffee ritual with a luxurious gold-rimmed leopard cup and saucer. You are marvelous and you are worth it. 

MORNING COFFEE RITUAL FAVORITES

Ralph Lauren Hutchinson Gold-Rimmed China // KitchenAid Nespresso Machine

Curious about my personal Nespresso favorites? Roma and Rosabaya are always a the ready at Maison de Frances. However I've had a recent flirtation with their limited edition Ciocco Ginger is sublime. The fullness of chocolate with a spicy hint of ginger make this a very lively morning beverage.

Essential Elements: Hunting the Elusive "Perfect but Pricey" Place Settings...

{image via  SMP // Pinterest }

{image via SMP // Pinterest}

I'm all for pulling out the finery on a regular basis. Why not sip your morning espresso in Wedgwood? Why not drink tap water from Waterford? Luxurious goods should not be left in the cabinet to gather dust, they should be used with enough frequency to create memories and, yes, occasionally get broken in the process. Why leave them in the dark all year only to pull them out on a stressful holiday? I say invest in the what you love and focus on obtaining the best you can afford.

Price causing you to wince? I understand, and I have solutions. A few tips: 

  • BE SELECTIVE: Spend time assessing what you REALLY want and then make a commitment to yourself to add this to your life. Don't need formal dinnerware? Perhaps that collection of Rosenthal dinnerware isn't the best use of your attention. Focus your attention on what suits your lifestyle. 
     
  • PACE YOURSELF: Add one place setting of your favorite formal china per month to your collection. In one short year you'll have service for twelve, which is a handsome collection by anyone's measure. 
     
  • PAY ATTENTION: Sales are our friend. Bookmark those items in your browser and watch for promotions, Friends & Family events or other discounts.
     
  • DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Reviews are God's gift to the novice researcher like myself! I love (or perhaps am a bit addicted to) seeking out reviews on products I'm interested in owning. While you won't always agree with the masses, you begin to recognize patterns in feedback and this will frequently prevent you from making poor investment choices. 

This week a few prized items are on sale at Macy's - at 25% off! It's a great opportunity to begin resetting my table with a dressier dinnerware solution. Here's what I'm really loving right now: Marchesa by Lenox Painted Camellia, the dreamiest of dreamy china patterns in my opinion. Gold flatware by the same brand and (true to form) I'm loving Waterford stemware. But this time I'm leaning towards a more modern, less fussy collection. See my selections below... 

What about you? What have you been holding off on obtaining? 25% off is a marvelous situation, especially for these incredible brands. I'd love to hear what luxe items you've been stalking! Here's the link to the sale. Use code FRIEND at checkout! 

Marchesa Painted Camellia Dinnerware // Marchesa by Lenox Imperial Caviar Flatware // Waterford Lismore Essence Stemware

Art + Design: A Metallic Printing Wonderland Awaits at Minted...

Minted may not be new to the on-demand art scene, but their willingness to offer up personalized metallic prints and limited edition foil-pressed artwork is a recent addition. They will foil-press silhouettes of a child or pet and send it to you framed & fabulous. What a lovely gift idea for grandparents and happy fur baby parents everywhere! If you're looking for a very personal holiday gift with metallic luster or simply want to adorn your walls with gilded creative inspiration, Minted may very well be the place to go. 

I recently added a framed version of Andrew McClintock's Golden Gait and Carrie O'Neill's Reach to my gallery. Not only did these beauties arrived lovingly packed, they each came with gallery backing, professional mounting hardware attached and a certificate of authenticity from the artists themselves. Beautiful presentation in shipping alone, and the real prize awaited inside. Each work is perfectly framed in the frame of your choice - I selected black to keep things modern, cohesive and versatile - and in a range of sizes. Some of the foil printed pieces are limited in scale, but if you're not bent of metallic finishes, you can certainly order that large-scale print you're crushing on. 

Me? I'm still loving the warmth from golden hues and shiny art. So I love their foil-pressed collection. I'll showcase a few favorites below. Did I mention they have ROSE gold as well? There's a pretty pink Eiffel Tower out there that could be yours. Note:  their Cyber Monday event is still going strong.  Receive 25% OFF all art & gifts and 20% off holiday cards with code CM2015 - but be forewarned, this offer ends TODAY! 

METALLIC MINTED MASTERPEICES


{Photos in this post are by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

Entertaining: Creating a Serene (& Suberb!) Experience for Overnight Guests...

We often identify entertaining with raucous parties and festive dinners. But holidays are prime time for opening our front doors and guest bedrooms to friends and family visiting from out of town. Entertaining overnight is a far more complex endeavour than greeting them for a meal then ushering them out the door. While it might seem simple (offer a fresh bed & say goodnight) the reality is that having someone under the same roof poses opportunities to demonstrate the true depth of your hosting skills (and patience). 

Before we dig in to what to do and what you need, let's consider the facts. You are offering up space in your private home to a loved one of friend. In doing so, we are inviting them into a bit of our private lives just as they are giving us a glimpse of theirs. The details will vary based upon the closeness of the relationship. Little sister in from college? A much more intimate affair than new in-laws visiting you for the first time. Consider the situation and the necessary formality and plan ahead. 

Now... let's dive in an prepare for an exceptional experience regardless of the guest. 

DEDICATE A SPACE TO CALL THEIR OWN

Ideally, a separate bed & bath are available for guests. No one wants awkward conversation with their father-in-law before that morning espresso. And it's not just about you. Your guest (or guests) will have their own rituals, their own set of needs and expectations. Get your guest area in shape prior to arrival and remove all clutter & storage from the space. A fresh coat of paint, updated lighting (or at least fresh bulbs where needed!) and a lovely rug all help to establish an area as a designated space for visitors. Think "hotel suite chic" and you get the idea. There's no shame in rolling out the red (or shaggy ivory!) carpet for those we care about. 

INVEST IN CRISP WHITES

Honestly, nothing beats a freshly laundered set of high quality sheets. I've tried many brands, I personally prefer percale most of the year and sateen in only the coolest of months. You'll find that most people prefer the feel of percale, so I suggest you invest in a high quality set of classic whites. A mattress pad is crucial or protecting your bed.  And pillows, dear pillows. Please invest in high quality and offer at least two per guest, preferably of different densities. I love them feather filled and almost flat. My husband loves to layer two fluffy pillows under his head. To each his own, right? While you don't have to recreate the Westin Dream Bed, at least offer sensational sheets. They will definitely appreciate it. 


CREATE BEDSIDE NIRVANA

An accommodating table, a conveniently placed lamp and a convenient plug for recharging devices. These are essentials for hosting anyone. Those going the extra mile might wish to offer a candle, a water carafe and a best seller Tip: if your tables have wood tops you should consider having a local glass shop create a custom cut piece to place on top. No one - neither host nor guest - likes a water ring to deal with after the fact. 


STORAGE IS KEY

Never underestimate the small touches like a luggage rack (hello, bonus points!), an empty set of hangers (praise Jesus) and a small dish for personal effects such as jewelry & keys. It's the little things in life, and these small details will make anyone's visit that much more pleasurable. 

BATHING BEAUTIES

It goes without saying that the bath should be sparkling clean. Polish the hardware, Windex the mirrors and make sure the tile is sparkling. Even the most spartan of spaces can look glamorous when cleaned to perfection. Beyond that I love offering a fluffy stack of towels (white is always right, in my opinion, for keeping the hotel chic vibe front and center), luxe soaps and good lighting. Cleanliness in this case really is king, so don't hold back when the urge to scrub overcomes you. 


LUXE LITTLE TOUCHES

Offer guests your wifi password and make their little sanctuary a place they love spending time. A faux fur throw, a seat by the window and a stack of magazines might be all you need to take a spare room from dull to dazzling. If you can, make their stay an exceptional one. You'll feel great, they'll feel loved and everyone wins. 

PRIVACY IS KEY

This is the most challenging amenity to offer, isn't it? Regardless of how grand your home, it's a simple fact that you and your guests are sharing the same roof for a night or two. Brace yourself for the inevitable! By preparing the guest areas with all they need, you are less likely to be bumping into one another at the bathroom sink at midnight. But be forthcoming about any house rules or scheduling issues and try to be accommodating of theirs. If you're a night owl and they rise before dawn, it's best to set expectations early and show them how the coffee maker works so you can sleep in. Communication (and a little flexibility) will be key. The golden rule of gracious hosting: once they are in bed or in the bath, respect their privacy and let them have their space. Tip: coffee accoutrements in their bedroom or nearby are always a very nice touch! 

Take care of things ahead of the stay and ensure you have time to enjoy your guests. Relax. Host with enthusiasm and open arms. Delight in spending up-close time with those who have traveled to see you. Enjoy them. Celebrate them. Welcome them. It will show. 

Happy hosting, friends!
xoxo

{images via 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6}

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Entertaining: Clever Uses for The Impossibly Versatile Bar Cart...

cart_one.jpg

Even those of us not sipping cocktails on the regular can see the myriad virtues of the movable feast that is the bar cart. For some it's about moving it front and center for a festive soiree. For others it's a sophisticated spot to decant wine. Still others might find this do-anything, be-anything, go-anywhere piece of furniture to be the perfect bedside table. 

 

It does not get more versatile than sleek shelves on a
chic rolling cart. Cocktail enthusiasts may love the intended
purpose, but these multi-tasking beauties can live in
any room of the house. Think: posh towel & toiletry stand or a glam
way to store handbags. Yes, handbags. Perhaps a stunning office supply
area or fab bedside table? The right cart does it all. The choice... is up to you.

 

I'm showing you my favorites in every conceivable style. Whether you're classic or avant garde, there's a cart here for you. Here's what to consider when purchasing: 

  1. Purpose: what's your goal? Drink serving station or mobile bookcase? As in most things, go in knowing your desired outcome. 
  2. Style: with options in every size and shape, determine your desired look and hunt for pieces that pull that look together or make an otherwise "done" space really sing. 
  3. Size: it matters. And in this case it matters a lot. Bar carts are opportunities to fill that tiny niche in your hall or nestle in the corner of your bath. Know the exact scale you need. 
  4. Function: If you're investing in this chic piece as a destination for those bath towels, measure them and make certain they'll fit. Likewise, if you intend to load it up with bottles of bubbly, consider how the construction and design support those goals. 

Let's face it... what you also want from this is wow factor. This is a FUN purchase! Invest in a bar cart that makes you excited every time you see it. You'll be using this and seeing it all the time, so seek out one that you adore. This single piece of furniture will garner more compliments and be put to great use. This is one home accent piece that pays you back tenfold in compliments and years of use. Select one you absolutely love. Ready to jump in? Me too! Let's find your perfect piece...

 

SUPER-VERSATILE BRASS BEAUTIES

 

I'm a classicist at heart, so a brass rectangular cart will always win me over. I love the idea of using these as a super chic way to store towels & pretty toiletries in a master bath. Love to entertain? Push this baby out to the party area and serve up cocktails until the sun rises again. 

PAIR THESE WITH...

 
 

ROUNDED BEAUTIES

Those smoothed out edges are ideal for niches, tight corners or high traffic areas. Design tip: don't be afraid to use these as unexpected (yet wildly useful) bedside tables for guests. The glass tops make them ideal for resting water glasses. 

TOP THEM OFF WITH

 
 

I love the idea of having a dramatic piece - perhaps the dramatic chrome modern cart or that bold brass circular version - to stir up curiosity and intrigue at your next fete. 

TOP THESE STYLE MAKERS OFF WITH

 
 

COOL CARTS FOR OENOPHILES

ACCOUTREMENTS FOR WINE LOVERS


Which cart would you choose and how would you utilize it? I love seeing new, innovative purposes for classic pieces. Although designed to move the party about your home, I really, really love the idea of not using them for cocktails at all. Nightstands, toiletries & glamorous towel racks are perfect uses for these expertly crafted pieces. How will you use yours? 

{images via 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7}

Mind & Body: Glowing From the Inside Out...

Misty-_-Under-Armour-2.jpg

Oh, that glow. The skin, our largest organ, is a visual display of our vitality, our health and our wellbeing. Not feeling all "glowy" lately? Don't feel discouraged. Water, proper nutrition and a bit of your favorite leisure pursuits can bring back your natural radiance. 

First, let's take a step back. Are you thirsty? Are you drinking enough filtered water? This single step is probably the most important, the easiest and the most often overlooked. I keep a bottle on hand at all times and STILL find myself forgetting to drink. It happens to the best of us. That said, the days I do faithfully consume 5+ liters of pure water I see a major difference. I'm more energetic, my facial contours are more beautiful and my complexion is clear. Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. Pace it out, but try to consume 3-5 liters of pure, filtered or spring water each day for a few days and prepare to be amazed at the ethereal glow that rewards your efforts. 

Next, let's talk nutrients. I made the shift this year to a more alkaline way of eating. Less coffee, more green drinks, more fresh vegetables, lots of lemon, raw sprouted nuts, seasonal fruits and my beloved Super Elixir supplement (powdered greens and a MAJORLY yummy chocolate protein powder). I've also added a high potency multivitamin to the mix, some minerals for thyroid support and Tumeric. The difference? Unbelievable. Skin that glows, eyes that sparkle and a brain and body that operate at a much higher level. Our food can either nourish us or slowly take a toll on our energy. And much like a car, if your engine isn't properly maintained, you'll see a big lag in your personal performance. 

GLOWING FROM THE INSIDE OUT


Now, you know what's coming next, right? Exercise. Sorry in advance to those of you who loathe it, but for me this is the best part of my day. I LOVE to move my body. Sure, some days I'm feeling busy or sluggish. The key? More water and a good alkaline drink (seriously, this stuff is a miracle) and BOOM... I'm ready for a body renewing physical activity.

The key? Find activities you enjoy. I don't like indoor classes for the most part, as I prefer the ability to workout exactly when I'm in the mood and I love getting fresh air. But yoga classes (the heated and intense variety) are an exception. Experiment to find not only physical pursuits you enjoy, but locations that inspire you and (if applicable) instructors who bring out the best in you. And perhaps the ideal fit is not jogging or lifting weights, but finding a leisure activity you genuinely look forward to doing. Golf, tennis, horseback riding are prime examples of sports you can enjoy for your entire life. Get hones about what you find life affirming and make room for it in your schedule. Make it happen. You don't need a gym to stay fit and healthy, you simply need to move your body regularly.

Free your inner ballerina, liberate yourself and go ice skating, reveal your inner rock climber, dive into that pool. Free yourself from the social boundaries of what you "should" be doing and get real about what you truly enjoy. This isn't a temporary hobby, after all. Your goal is to unlock the secret to a life of physical wellbeing, a lifetime of radiant health, decades of energy. In order to achieve that goal we must seek out what works for us and what invigorates both mind and body. 

Key tip: know thyself: if it's solo time you crave, find activities that give you the time alone you need. Social butterfly? Grab a friend or two and head to the courts, take a walk or hit a class. Need the structure of a group activity? Sign up for a group cardio boxing class or see what those HIIT workouts are all about at the club. 

The result of these new and improved habits? Glowing skin, an energized body and a radiant smile that does what no cosmetic procedure could ever do. You'll be more fit both inside and out, more happy and your body & mind will be energized. You will have energy and a renewed sense of purpose. 

Now... get drinking that water, add lemon to it and get moving! 

BE BALLET BEAUTIFUL


FREE YOUR INNER YOGI

BE THE QUEEN OF THE COURT

Buon Weekend: For the Love of Saturdays...

Some weeks we really earn these days off, don't we? While productive, I have to admit much of my week was filled with stress. It's clear I need to hit the reset button on my emotions and spend a bit of time unplugged for these two days. This weekend I commit to drinking plenty of filtered water, moving my body, eating foods that nourish, reading printed pages (not digital ones), soaking in the fall sunshine, breathing fresh air and enjoying my offline conversations with those around me. Sounds divine, doesn't it?

I hope you are able to carve out time to reset your mood as well. Hit pause. Reboot body mind and soul. Try something new - or try to do nothing at all. Do what it takes to make these to days restore your soul before Monday rolls around. Investing in yourself is always a wise investment. 

Recharge. Reset. Reward yourself! xoxo

WEEKLY LOVE LIST



The Art of Living: Giving Your (Real) Desktop a Chic Refresh...

Somehow, someway my sweet little office constantly needs a little refresh to feel "alive" again. Fresh flowers, a pretty journal, a zingy candle... periodically this overly familiar work area needs a sensory lift to reenergize my mindset. Do you find this to be true for you too? I'm certain I'm not alone. 

For me it means grabbing a few new notebooks, a diffuser for my credenza, a candle for my desk, bright flowers (or super pale, depending upon my mood) and of course... something gold! Below are some of my recent discoveries (and acquisitions) that have sparked a new round of creativity and injected vitality into my office once again. 

The lesson here: don't hesitate to mix things up if you feel your office (at home or otherwise) needing a jolt of color or even just a remix. Move your desk. Switch out your artwork. Invest in a new package of pens. Open the blinds. Reorganize your books. Do something to create a new flow, a new vibe, a new energy in the space. Life is too short for sameness day after day! 

ELEMENTS FOR A CHIC DESKTOP REFRESH



Shopping: Pink With a Purpose...

When is a new lipstick more than just a new lipstick? When a portion of the purchase price is donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a cause near and dear to my heart. Many of the lovely women in my family have been affected by the disease and (hands up to God) these strong women are still causing a stir today living healthy lives. Survivors. 

While awareness month doesn't officially begin until October, it's already on my mind.What I like about the BCRF products are that they are gorgeous and covetable with or without having a visible relationship to the foundation. Like the women themselves, these items are not defined by their contribution to the cure - they are appreciated for the spectacular creations that they are.

Estee Lauder, the driving force behind the BCRF always offers stunning products and exclusive goodies raising awareness and charitable contributions in the most elegant way. But they are far from the only brand out there waving their pink flag. Also on my radar are Ann Taylor's gorgeous jewelry intros which allow the brand to donate a generous 50% of your purchase towards the cure. 

I've rounded up these and other stylish goods than can bring a smile to your face and help bring a cure to this beast of a disease. Giving directly to the charity is always applauded, but if you were on your way to purchase a new lip color, boxing gloves or a fabulous new candle, why not do it in a way that gives back? Chic goods that give to finding a cure are always a welcome addition to a shopping list. Here's to the undeniable power of pink! 

SHOPPING PINK WITH PURPOSE




Art & Design: Discovering Cristina Alonso's Elegant Illustrations...

Instagram is by far my favorite way to discover talented creatives. If you speak the language of visual beauty, flipping through stunning images as you fall asleep is about as close to meditation as you can get. The only downside (aside from lost beauty sleep)? Hoping you remember the gems you uncovered when you wake up. Fortunately for you and I Cristina Alonso's fashion illustrations were so unforgettable that I couldn't wait to share them with you.

While they gushing with a sexy modern vibe, there's a bit of Patrick Nagel's stylistic influence in her work. Remember him from that memorable Rio cover? Google it and you'll have to agree. But unlike Nagel's more minimalistic work, Christina's look goes further into the glamour zone. Her designs are lush, multi-dimensional and supremely feminine. I love her Peonies & Coco print the most (featured above). What a simple yet stunning piece to frame and feature over a desk or vanity. Girly and gorgeous, as I suspect Christina herself must be. 

If you're loving her pretty illustrations as I am, pop over to her online boutique and have a peek. Lots of glamorous pieces to enjoy. Want more? Instagram is the way to go. She offers sneak peeks of her process and works that have not yet hit her site. Suffice it to say she is mad talented, my friends. I know you'll appreciate gazing at the work of a passionate and quite talented artist. You. Are. Welcome. ;) 

Mind & Body: Overcome Your Case of the Workout Blahs...

We won't kid ourselves and imply I ever gave up yoga, but leaving the studio to maintain my practice at home has had mixed results at best. In the beginning it was easy to challenge myself and keep up (most) of the intensity that I found in classes with my favorite instructors. And then it hit. The plateau. The complete lack of enthusiasm for hitting the mat. The craving for more variety, for a longer sessions, for HEAT. Well... I'm back at it. And I'm headed into a new studio that emphasizes the style of yoga I crave. Their class list reads like a wish list "sweaty vinyasa flow" classes mixed with more intense power ashtanga sessions. I can't wait to step my foot back on the hard wood floors and get my flow on for those hour long workouts. 

But first... my yogi apparel needs a little lift. Here's what I'm presently loving (spoiler: there's quite a bit of pink!):

SUMMER YOGA ESSENTIALS



Why the urge to add to my workout apparel & accessories? Because sometimes a few new threads will get you excited about rolling out your mat. On that note, a new mat can often be inspiring and be a shortcut to setting your mind free and getting into the zone. Workout stagnation can sometimes be kickstarted by a bright sports bra, a cool gym tote or a flashy new fitbit bracelet. Is it superficial? Not really. It's like a change of scenery. Working from the "outside in" is often a way to quickly add new energy (mental and physical) and appeal to your internal feelings about your fitness routine.

What about you? Are you feeling the fitness "blahs" this summer? What are you doing to combat it? I encourage you to try something new. A new routine. A new location. A fresh outfit. A new activity. How about new playlist? Add something to the mix that motivates and inspires to you to get up and get moving. It's so very worth it. YOU are worth it. 

Mind & Body: Amazing Natural Wonders for Beauty & Health...

Beneath all the seemingly superficial fashion & beauty posts, this blog is truly about living an optimized life. Peak performance living is the ultimate goal for me, and hopefully for you as well. Facing each day energized, revitalized and free from ailments and hindrances is the ideal existence. And yet, so many of us - self included - have introduced things into our lives that drag us down and make us feel (or perhaps look) less than our best. 

For me, I was noticing severe energy level issues and general feelings of lethargy. Unusual. The answer is usually whispering to you, telling you the cause. In my case I felt it was a mashup of a my food intake and an overall mismatch of nutrients. And let's not avoid the other elephant in the room: toxins entering our bodies through plastic water bottles and skin care products. 

While I have much to continue sharing on the topic. I will share that I've shifted to an alkaline approach to eating, glass water bottles filled with lemon-infused water and in many cases, skin care from innovative brands harnessing the power of nature. Another fun new addition? Tumeric. And lots of it. Apparently this vibrantly hued spice is loaded with disease fighting compounds and can even battle the bulge. Who knew? 

As I warm up to share much, much more with you, I wanted to introduce a few natural all-stars in my life. 

AMAZING NATURAL WONDERS FOR BEAUTY & HEALTH

Beauty is just as easily achieved with nature-derived solutions. Who knew? And because your body is your temple, below are a few of my nutrition-related obsessions...

I have SO much to share with you. From spices that can prevent (or even reverse) health issues to plant-derived skin case obsessions, I'm charting a personal new path that really energizes me. I hope you'll join me in on the journey! Much, much more to come in future posts.  

Visual Poetry: Pantone Matching Everyday Objects...

 
 
 

Fellow internet addicts have no doubt seen these images circulating in your news feed, but for the rest of you (you know... you NORMAL people who don't obsess over the minutiae of the social media memes of the moment) I wanted to share this cool photo series. Images were taken (and conceptualized) by a Inka Matthew of Green Ink Studio and are definitely worth a second look. See her Instagram feed for more. Simple? Yes And there's in composition and focus to be learned here. Ask yourself... when was the last time you appreciated details of the objects you see every day? Perhaps a pause is in order for you and a closer look and the lovely qualities of the "ordinary" beauty in your life. It's Sunday... no better time to stop, look, appreciate. 

INJECT A SHOT OF COLOR INTO YOUR LIFE



Shopping: Tory's Jewelbox on Paris’ Rue Saint-Honoré...

Once upon a time I loved Tory Burch shoes. Loved them. My closet shelves can attest to that declaration. Wedges, flats, boots and more. Tory offered fabulous quality for a not terribly unreasonable price. For the logo averse, a savvy shopper could avoid rampant branding by opting for her more subtle options with discreet use of her iconic medallion.

Somewhere along the line I feel for other shoe peddlers... JImmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman and others beckoned with their equally fabulous heels. But I do admit to appreciating Tory's ongoing brand evolution and her expansion into lifestyle offerings. Acrylic & brass goods, picture frames, tableware and beauty are all part of her expanding empire. 

In case you too have been missing out on Ms. Burch's general fabulousness, I thought I'd share a few pix of her new Rue Saint-Honoré flagship store and some of her more noteworthy goods for your vanity and desktop. No one offers gold accents quite like Tory and it's fun to celebrate the general gorgeousness of these pieces. Even for the "logo allergic" amongst us :)

ADD A LITTLE GOLDEN GLAM TO YOUR LIFE



Giveaway: Chill Out with a Cool New Nespresso Machine...

{Photo via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

{Photo via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

No giveaway is ever as popular as our Nespresso collaborations! As summer reaches a fever pitch (we're tickling 100 degrees here in Texas this week!) it seemed the best time to cool you off with a brand spanking new Nespresso machine and a few chill recipes. So... who's ready for some caffeine-infused fun? 

Nespresso just rolled out a limited edition Cru called Perú Secreto and it is rich and marvelous. While I have other crus I enjoy, this one is really special in that it lends itself to sweet cocoa notes. It is intense and smooth and... well, frankly it inspired me to plead with the team at Nespresso to let you try it as well. And thus, a giveaway (and a few crazy good recipes) came to be. 

AUTHENTIC ITALIAN TIRAMISU

First up, tiramisu. A longtime favorite dessert of mine. Readers know I do not have a sweet tooth, so this must be worth it, right? It is, but it has to be made correctly to truly be considered great. And Perú Secreto is so seductively intense that it pretty much begs to play a role in this recipe.

A few things to bear in mind: the best results are achieved with authentic ingredients. Don't expect this to be bikini-friendly or kid-friendly. This is an indulgent, sweet dish with coffee, full fat ingredients and coffee liqueur. As such, you should expect it to be packed with calories and caffeine. So be prepared to invite friends to enjoy it with you. 

For complete recipe & instruction, Pretty Simple Sweet offers the recipe I love. It achieves the picture perfect results seen above. 

And now for a drink I consume almost daily. An iced coffee of the most rich variety. I like to think of this as my doppio on ice. Here is how I make it in about 60 seconds flat. Yes, if you happen to have a Nespresso machine... you are one minute away from a perfectly delicious energy boosting summer beverage. Ready? Here goes: 

FRANKI'S SIGNATURE ICED COFFEE

  • 2 shots strong espresso (my current favorite is Perú Secreto or Roma for you Nespresso fans)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (the So Delicious brand is my favorite)
  • stevia to taste
  • tall glass filled with ice 

This is very simple. Draw up two strong shots of espresso (my Nespresso machine pulls a shot in just a few seconds) and set them aside. I like this beverage with two shots for an extra kick of afternoon energy, but if you prefer you can scale back to a solo shot.

Pour the coconut milk (or milk of your choice) and mix in stevia (or sweetener of your choice) to taste. Now... pour those shots of espresso over the top of your sweetened icy, milk mixture. Add a straw if you want to feel fancy (and don't we all?) and brace yourself for a masterpiece of creamy and sweet coffee-filled goodness. Repeat as often as necessary.  :) 

Bonus recipe: Pour the mixture (sans ice) into any popsicle mold, place in the freezer and in just a few hours you'll enjoy the best frozen treat of your adult life. Make them now. Thank me later. 

THE SIZZLING SUMMER GIVEAWAY

So... on to the giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a brand new Nespresso Pixie Clips machine. Like my beloved machine, your can count on the Pixie Clips to create the perfect cup of espresso while minimizing time, space and energy. The new clip technology allows you to change the look in the same fashion you change the look of your smartphone - simply "clip" on new colored side panels for a fresh look. The giveaway prize is valued at $229 and I assure you this will be a very welcome addition to any kitchen. I adore mine (but a teensy bit envious yours will have those cool swappable clips!). 

That lovely cup of espresso in the intro image? That's an single shot of that Peruvian goodness (read about it on Nespresso) prepared with my own machine. Less than 30 seconds to perfect espresso or cappuccino. You will not be disappointed, friends. 

HOW TO ENTER

It's easy! Drop a comment below. Boom! You're entered! Want to improve your odds? Mention this post on Instagram or Twitter (tag me in your post @frankidurbin so I can track it) and I'll toss your name in the hat again. Entries must be received by July 22, 2015 at midnight CST. That's it! Happy coffee drinking, everyone! Drop a comment below and let's get this contest rolling! 

Visual Poetry: Dronestagram Winners Will Take Your Breath Away...

In case you've been a castaway on an island for ages and missed it, drones are the "must have" toy for tech lovers everywhere. While we feared they'd be used for nefarious purposes, these miniature tech-wonders are taking selfies and photography to a whole new level.

Enter the era of the "dronie" (that's a pic of you from your drone) and a brand new spin on documenting our lives and observing our surroundings from a sky high new vantage point. By the looks of it, we are in for some sweet photography from here on out. 

Above (see what I did there?) you'll see a handful of winners from the 2015 Dronestagram photography awards. My vote goes to the swimming with sharks moment thanks to composition, subject matter and color, but all of the photos are fascinating. More can be found here

Entertaining: Bring Together Fronds & Friends...

Fronds are EVERYWHERE this summer and I am loving it. From jumpsuits to candleholders (more on that in a moment) these oversized leaves are showing up in the most unusual of places.

Let's first pay tribute to 1942 by decorator Don Loper and others for popularizing the iconic Martinique wallpaper. Using a banana leaf wallcovering is a bold design choice that has made the Beverly Hills Hotel a legendary example of chic design over the years. Dorothy Draper decked the halls of The The Greenbrier Hotel in leafy green paper as well during in it's renovation in the 40's (what was it with that decade?). In more recent years, designer Tom Scheerer made waves when he wrapped the walls of the Lyford Cay Club lobby in Quadrille's towering palm wallpaper.

The message is clear: palms are cool. Palm leaf prints are even cooler. So today's post is all about working this motif into your life in the most sophisticated of ways. It doesn't need to be a head to toe look, just a hint of a frondy print does a space good. Think: Palm Beach Chic and you've got the right vibe. 

Personally, I love the look in proximity to the water. If you have a pool, God bless you. This is the moment it will shine! Rocking a waterless patio? Not to worry, these plans will make you feel as though you're lounging at the Beverly Hills Hotel being catered too by their overly-solicitous staff. 

Now... are you ready to see how I'm suggesting you dress up your dining area to channel that iconic leafy vibe. 

DRESS UP YOUR DINING AREA (INSIDE OR OUT)

Michael Aram Palm Candleholders (note: these are pricey, so bookmark & watch for a sale!) // Velvet Leaf Applique Pillow // Bead-Trimmed Placemats & Napkin Rings // Juliska Classic Bamboo Dinnerware // Palm Leaf Pitcher & Drinkware (note: total steal!)

The key is to have fun and play up the tropical vibe without being terribly overt. The pillows are gorgeous and the dinnerware is CLASSIC for indoor or outdoor use. You will never, ever be disappointed you invested in the Juliska dinnerware. I am obsessed with the brand, so more on that later! 

Set the tone with the right tunes. Think: bossanova. Think: Bebel Gilberto. Think: chill mode. Now for scent. Yes, I know fragrance and dining are supposed to be mortal enemies. But in this instance I love Nest's Sicilian Tangerine to seal the deal on the tropical vibe. The diffuser (versus a candle) will lend subtle fragrance to the space. 

Need more help getting in the mood? I have a few books you might enjoy. 

PALM-FROND INSPIRED READING

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Game Changers: "Rise" Puts You (Yes, You) On a Private Jet...

Last week I learned about Rise, an awesome Dallas company that is to aviation what Uber is to taxis. For $1650 per month you and a companion can fly unlimited (yes, unlimited) flights. Currently it's a regional service, but even as such this is a game changer. If you've booked a flight anywhere lately your jaw has no doubt dropped by reading he above line about unlimited monthly jaunts to and from a destination for a flat fee.

A single round-trip flight on American Airlines from Dallas to Houston for a couple will set you back a pretty penny - and that's you and your lovely sitting cramped in commercial. Imagine if you will the fine appointments of private jet. You and your guest casually strolling out on the tarmac at an agreed upon time and being greeted by plush leather seating, a charming pilot, and none of the stress of what has become typical modern air travel.

This all-you-can-fly service requires no long-term contracts, has no hidden fees and is definitely taking the area by storm for professionals who regularly travel back and forth from Texas's major metropolitan areas. Need to take more than just your client? A variety of membership level options make it easy to scale up the size of your entourage. 

All of this is thanks to Rise founder and CEO Nick Kennedy who is perhaps not so quietly changing the world of private aviation. 

Members of Nick's private flight club enjoy the ease of booking online or via a smartphone app, before being transported directly from their homes and offered complimentary drinks and snacks. This is all the much anticipated before wheels up moment. Imagine how nice it is once aboard the jet? At the airport, guests board the luxurious eight-seat Beechcraft King Air 350 and relax in a comfortable seat that is both window and aisle before heading off to one of the cities currently covered by the service. In flight fresh coffee, accessories and travel kit are provided by Dallas startup Need - another game-changing service.

Not in Dallas? Don't worry, Rise is in a growth phase, expanding to the UK and other US regions is just a matter of time. 

Change your life one flight at a time at iflyrise.com.

The Art of Living: 5 Ways to Be Happier...

Need a few quick ways to feel happy? I'm all about channeling energy into something positive or creating momentum when none exists. Ready for five of my surefire tips? Here goes...

1. Feel an inner urge to chase a dream? Don't hesitate!
Stop what you're doing and book that class, buy that ticket, make that call - whatever that first small step is - take action NOW to put your life in motion towards achieving what your heart desires. The simple act of taking a meaningful step towards doing and completing something you've been putting off (or were previously afraid of starting) will fill you with a natural thrill and enliven your body and mind. Do it. It feels so good you'll notice you feel more bold in a wide range of areas of you life. This snowball effect is incredible and will open you to many serendipitous moments. Just do it. 

2. Cherish your "ride or die" relationships. 
There are certain friends & family members that are there for you no matter what. No matter what. These are your anchors in life. Draw near to them and invest a significant part of your life in furthering those relationships. Be there for them with the same intensity. These people are rare indeed! Dig in to them and don't forget to hug them. Hugging is good for you and essential to your satisfaction in life. 

3. Learn to say no without guilt.
Simple fact: you cannot do it all. Time does not allow us to agree to every invitation that crosses our threshold or accept every project that tempts us with its shiny gold coins. You simply must choose wisely and commit to those things that you value most. 

4. Move your body. 
Sorry, lazy bones. You need to dust off your dancing shoes and get moving. Yoga, running CrossFit, tango lessons... something must lure you off the sofa and into an intense session of moving that body. Motion = emotion and I promise you the healthy endorphins that will flow through your body will be all the reassurance you need that you need to shake that booty more often. 

5. Laugh with reckless abandon. 
Find the humor in life and let the uncontrollable urge to laugh rise up and out. Studies have demonstrated again and again that laughter is indeed the best medicine. Need help? YouTube is loaded with humorous clips and cray cray silliness. Go get your giggle on. 

BONUS:
6: Let the sun shine. 

There's no disputing the mood elevating effects of sunshine. Whether it's restoring your supply of natural vitamin D or simply feeling those warm rays on your face, make it a point every day to get out in nature and feel the freedom of the wind in your hair. Extra points if you can get your daily workout session on in the great outdoors. Be it a trail, a sidewalk, a rooftop or simply your 2 block stroll to get coffee, step outside EVERY day to let the sun kiss your face. It loves you. 
 

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