I’m back!

I must apologize for my extended period away from CFB. Many life changes have kept me preoccupied and I’m afraid my home improvements and champagne intake has suffered as a result.

Such changes include: a new career in a field completely new and unfamiliar to me, a life commitment to my home design enabler and the occasional victim of my ever evolving champagne taste, and lastly, a computer that requires a 20 minute rest period after every 30 minutes of use (the latter being the true hindrance to my posts).

For the 3½ of you still checking in on a weekly basis, thank you and spread the word – I’m back! My tastes have never beer more champagne, and my budget never more beer, so come back soon – pictures and inspirations will be up before week’s end!

It’s a woman’s prerogative, right?

People used to ask me how the condo was coming along, and my answer almost always seemed to be “Really great, we’re almost done decorating!” I would laugh along when they replied “You’re never really done. And when you are, it’s time to move.” But in my head I would think how every decision I’ve made thus far is beautiful and wonderful and I’ll never grow tired of it.

Apparently never is equivalent to 8 months in the life of a decorator.

I’ve slowed down considerably in the past few months, happy, nay – ecstatic, with the way things were. But now as the holidays have become just a memory and the decorations are stored away in the office closet, I’m charging full force back into condo decor.

Our bedroom has become dull and lifeless.

Our office is lacking a craft space.



Our bathroom resembles an olive. 

You’re probably shaking your heads, some of you knowing this feeling all too well, some of you bewildered with my seemingly sudden change of heart. But fret not! All these rooms need are a little tweak here, a pop of color there, and I will be back on my honeymoon!

We moved here in May. With the whole summer ahead of us, I was out every night gathering inspiration and creating magic (aka beautiful decor), thanks to the sights and scenes that can be taken in while enjoying outdoor seating at 1 of the many restaurants on our block.

With the winter months upon us, all I want to do is go home and cuddle up on the couch in my snuggie. A boring home makes me sluggish, a sluggish me makes a boring home, what a conundrum! Well Mother Nature can’t get me down! Effective immediately, I will be assigning myself homework and deadlines. Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook to keep up with my daily homework assignments and to offer suggestions for projects.

Viva la Condo!

This is what I get for not being an architect…

Or maybe it’s what I get for not taking measurements. Anyway…

When Chris and I bought our condo the dining room measurements were listed as 8’x8′ on MLS Trend. When we got our condo appraised, the floorplan drawn up in the paperwork also noted the dining room as 8’x8′. When I bought a 16′ piece of wood from Home Depot and had it cut in 2 for the dining room bench, I assumed both pieces were 8′. So when I bought four 8′ pieces of wood for the bench back this week, I assumed they would fit.

Well it turns out our dining room is actually 7’10” x 7’10”.

The wood is still 8′.

Uh oh.

So after 3 trips to Lowe’s in 2 hours Wednesday night, the bench back is secured and upholstered..and standing on its side behind the dining room bench.On the bright side, the bench is reupholstered in this beautiful, more appropriate, more luxurious fabric. The brown pleather was nice in theory, but it was purchased before we painted the room. The red washed out the brown and it just looked cheap. I stapled the new fabric right over the pleather plus another layer of batting, so it’s plusher than ever.The Instructional:

I laid down the fabric first, smoothing out all wrinkles. The batting went over that and the wood over that. I utilized Chris to make sure the wood went down in its place in 1 try, as to not snag or fluster the batting. I didn’t think of how I would secure the 4 long pieces until I got home with the wood and realized I would need to lay a thin 1 inch piece perpendicular. This photo shows the 2″ pieces that I purchased as the bench sides, but they were too thick. So began my 1st of 3 journeys to Lowe’s.I purchased three 1″ thick pieces of wood to secure the four 8′ pieces. To ensure a tight fit for the fabric, I stapled the batting and fabric around all 4 sides before screwing on the 3 smaller pieces.Since this couldn’t safely rest on top of the bench, I had to head back out to Lowe’s for a picture hanging kit (This was actually the 3rd trip as the 2nd trip I forgot my wallet…where is my head these days?). I partially hammered the rings in until they were tight enough to screw in (a screwdriver can’t be used with these). After tying the wire through 3 rings it was ready to hang.The kit also included U-brackets to hang the wire upon. Each of these can hold 75 lbs. I used 2, 1 for every 4 feet.Re-upholstering the bench was a breeze. I pulled the bench a foot away from the wall, turned it on its side and laid the batting on top of the pleather.I repeated this step with the fabric and turned the bench on its other side to staple the bottom.Since the back was way too heavy and Chris wasn’t home, it took me about an hour of maneuvering and pivoting until I realized the back was too long. My shoulder muscles ache today just from getting it over the bench to its upright position.Being the optimists that we are, we didn’t let this snafu hinder us from enjoying Chris’ birthday dinner in our dining room. Truffle fries, grilled sausage with carmelized onions, and filet mignon à la Daddy Mims. Delicious!Excuse the lighting..Ambiance isn’t captured well on film.

2011 Resolutions

Is it really possible to leave all that we dislike in 2010 and bring only good things forward? Maybe not. But the point of New Years’ resolutions is to better ourselves over time, right? I like to think that I have the willpower to change bad habits as they occur, but the truth is I like to binge on the unhealthy and inconvenient until I can take no more. So here are my New Years’ resolutions for 2011:

1. Work out more. I am happy to say that I am 4 for 4 in the gym this week. (May be 4 for 5 due to this lazy snow day). You may be thinking “Day 5? Today is January 7th, where is she getting ‘Day 5’ from??” Obviously weekends don’t count when it comes to diet and exercise. This couch sure is looking cozy right about now.

2. Decorate more. As I went through old notebooks, cleaning up my workspace, I came across home plans that I drew up months ago. Some I accomplished halfway and some never got further than the pen hitting the paper.

Among such were dining room drapes. It is true that I bought, hung, and steamed the drapes. However, that is as far as I got. The drapes are still loosely hanging with no drawback. (I taped them back with electrical tape for the photo below. Shame on me). Instead of presenting the dining room like a pretty little package, it resembles the balcony of a beach house with wet, sandy towels drying to a stiff uncomfortableness (only more silky and soft than stiff and uncomfortable). It is also asymmetrical. I’m not encouraging perfect symmetry in every aspect of a home, but the entrance to our dining room is too wide to have only one side dressed.

Also on the list was the dining room bench. With the haste stapling and the lack of foam and batting, I had planned on reupholstering the bench while also adding sides and a back. This will ideally give a more sophisticated-lounge-like feel rather than a playground-picnic-like feel.

Last in the notebook of procrastination was the Master Suite Makeover. I started on my mom’s bedroom a few months back and progressed pretty far during the 2 weekends I spent on it. But with the holidays and my own home plans, the master makeover fell to the back burner. This morning I came across the original plans I had for the room, and while I’ve got to say that the floorplan itself is close to complete, isn’t it really all about accessorizing?

The footboard doesn’t yet exist. The 2 chairs in the ‘seating area’ have become 1 chaise, table yet to be found. The TV is on the opposite wall to the left of the bed. Other than that, this is spot on. But the accessories! The tables need lamps, the seating area needs an area rug, the walls need art, the windows need drapes, etc, etc!

This photo is pre-paint.

3. Take and post photos regardless of progress. In the past, I have hesitated to take photos in the before and during stages. While this may seem shallow and vein, it is really mere forgetfulness (with maybe a dash of vanity). I would clean from top to bottom in preparation of a photo shoot, and regret it later when I am explaining only in words how long and hard I worked on any given project. For example, in 2010 I would have never posted these cringe-worthy photos of our office during laundry day (laundry week).

Stage 1: Wait until clean laundry builds up on the floor and the closets are empty.

Stage 2: Sort laundry into his and mine, foldables and hangables.

Stage 3: Rejoice in clean room


4. Be more efficient at doing laundry.


I hope everyone’s 2011 is off to a great start and I look forward to jumping back into inexpensive elegance now that the hectic holidays are over.

NYE Rational Elegance

So Christmas has passed and we’ve all moved on to New Years’ Eve. I will be celebrating the end of 2010 with an intimate dinner party, complete with adult beverages, sequins, and a peacock hair pin. Much like Halloween, NYE should be a time of outrageous wardrobes. The difference is that you want to look outrageously good, not outrageously inappropriate.


My Halloween costume consisted of mismatched items from my closet and a few accessories from Five Below. That really won’t fly for this specific night. I need a fancy dress, high heels, some sparkly earrings, a clutch, sky high eyelashes, etc. etc. It adds up. So while I’ve been perusing the racks for something to tickle my fancy, it occurred to me that spending $100, maybe multiple hundreds on a dress only appropriate for 1 night of the year seemed a little irrational. So comes the time for me to introduce Extravagance to Rational.

This mannequin from Macy’s has just the right amount of bling and poof. Unfortunately I am not 9 feet tall nor does Macy’s actually carry this dress. So this year I’ve decided to tone down the dress and tone up the accessories. Gold sequin sling backs, the a fore-mentioned peacock hair pin, bangles, necklaces, earrings…basically I’ll be dripping in costume jewelry. Add all that to the above dress and it’s overkill. Pair it with a LBD…Rational Elegance.



*(All accessories are from Pier 1. Shoes are from Sears.)

Need a new recipe for your family potluck party?

Its 2 days before Christmas and all my gifts are wrapped and placed safely under the tree for my friends and family. As the story goes, I hit a bump in the road last night while tweaking my sister’s gift (won’t be revealed until next week for her viewing purpose). So I have one more stop on my map tonight to exchange said gift. After that I will fully be in holiday party-mode. I stumbled across this MAGNIFICENT website just last week and have already tested 1 recipe with intentions of trying another one tomorrow:

Believe it or not, this is a jello shot! There’s always room for jello, especially in a cocktail setting. 2 sisters have created an art out of these once only-acceptable-in-college party snacks. I’m obsessed! I made the Blackberry Cosmo Martini Jelly Shots this weekend for friends, and they were a huge hit! I will be making these Candy Cane Martini Jelly Shots this weekend for my family. My aunts will enjoy the throwback, sans the messy fingers.

I refrigerated overnight in a bread pan and cubed them to look like the above photo. They were perfectly gelled, even after sitting out for an hour or 2 while my guests were devouring. The recipe says it will make 24 shots, but I got almost 60 from a single batch and they were 2-bite size. All the ingredients are very inexpensive (under $3 each with the exception of the alcohol. If you’re really on a budget, make them virgin!) but your guests won’t even realize because they will be too busy appreciating your efforts! And isn’t it really the effort that counts here?

I hope everyone has a very happy holiday weekend and if you’re having guests, show off your home with all the deceivingly inexpensive tricks you have learned!

Merry Christmas! I’ll be back next week!

Home Depot Designer Coasters

Coasters are something that you don’t go out specifically to shop for, but instead may remember to look at if you’re already out. We’ve acquired a few of the cheap cardboard bar coasters in our lives, not exactly worthy of my champagne tastes, but have made do for the time being. Well that time has expired. I grew tired of the coaster sticking to my glass every time I went for a sip. I needed heavy duty coasters to protect our hand stained coffee table. To Home Depot!

I know what you’re thinking: huh? Coasters at Home Depot?

Yes! Designer couture coasters!

These are heavy duty floor tiles, $2 each.

With a little glue and a patch of felt ($.49)…

My tables are protected from water marks and my glass can rest comfortably (and fashionably) upon.

If there’s someone you haven’t yet shopped for, or if you want to add a little supplement to the bar-ware you bought your mom, these are perfect. The malls are PACKED this week, but Home Depot is not! This project cost me 5 minutes and $8.50. Wrap some ribbon around the stack and present it beautifully under the tree.

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