A Boozy Bachelorette Brunch with Pottery Barn

Friday, August 29, 2014 0 No tags 0

A bachelorette party toast with fresh fruit margaritas

I was so excited when Pottery Barn wanted to collaborate on a fun shoot for their wedding blog Have and Hold. They sent me an array of PB products of my choosing and let me take my ideas and pretty much run with it. I actually have an odd obsession with weddings – the dress, the reception and even all of the events leading up to the wedding. So, I thought, “what’s in my wedding wheelhouse?” Uh, duh, a bachelorette party. 

Margaritas in Pottery Barn Beverage Dispensers

Grilled steak tostadas and margaritas

My inspiration for this bachelorette brunch was my dear friend Claire, who is soon-to-be-married. She is a classy lady that deserves an elegant, but fun and colorful, affair. I wanted to think outside of the box a little and do something during the day, because who doesn’t love brunch and day drinking?  I offered two fresh and easy-to-make margaritas and a build your own tostada bar, taking nachos and tequila shots to the next (grown-up) level. 

Mexican fruit paletas on ice

Read the full post, see drink recipes and product links over on Pottery Barn.

Creative direction + photos: Whitney A.

Styling: Dean Renaud

Top 5 Tips: Thrifting with Dean Renaud

Sunday, August 24, 2014 0 No tags 0
Dean Renaud is a stylist, interior designer, event and wedding producer…and thrifting wizard. She is one of the most talented ladies I know. Her eye for design is cray and she can throw together a dinner party for eight in like thirty minutes with ease.
Chicago_Stylist_Dean_Renaud

I’ve actually known Dean since elementary school. That’s a fact and a friendship I am very proud of. We grew up a few blocks away from each other in Lexington, KY and were both drama majors at an arts magnet school for most of our youth. Needless to say, we both talk a lot and like to do things with flair *jazz hands*. Dean now lives in Chicago, so we only get to see each other a few times a year. When we do get to hang, in between eating, drinking and laughing our faces off, we thrift. Or rather, she thrifts and I just wander around marveling at her genius. So, I thought it would be nice to share some of her thrift magic with the world. Here are her top 5 tips!

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1. GO OFTEN.  I go to thrift stores pretty much every day; sometimes I’ll go to the same thrift several days in a row.  There are 2 between my house and my studio, so I’ll usually pop in after work…Since thrift stores get donations daily, there are almost always new things on the floor.  I’m often asked “What thrift stores do you go to?” And I answer honestly: I go to all of them!  It seems like I find all the best stuff because I just go all the damn time.  Believe me, I leave empty-handed more often than not.

 

2. GET LOST.  Whenever I’m traveling or simply in a part of town I’m not familiar with, I use the Yelp app to search for thrift stores in the area.  On a rare day off, I’ll pick a suburb that’s at least an hour away from the city and thrift my way home.

 

3. SMELL IT.  I don’t shy away from rugs or upholstered items, but I always thoroughly inspect them.  Check for stains, fading, holes, and yep- odors.  If a couch or a rug previously lived in a home with a cat…Well, that’s probably why it was donated in the first place.  No matter how cool or how cheap it is…It’s a lost cause.

 

4. TO DIY OR NOT TO DIY?  I’m all about giving ugly or broken furniture new life, but you have to consider the time and money you’ll invest to fix something up.  It’s fairly inexpensive to have a lamp rewired, reframe a piece of art, or spray paint a vase but remember that it’ll take a lot of time and elbow grease to strip and refinish a credenza and it costs a fair amount of money to have a sofa reupholstered.

 

5. KARMA IS REAL / LEARN TO LET GO.  Okay, yes, I have 2 storage spaces full of things I’ve thrifted (for clients/projects), in addition to my home and studio, which are like, 75% thrifted.  But as my style changes, I donate stuff that I phase out in hopes that someone will be as excited as I was to find it in a thrift store.  Also, when I find something rad while thrifting, I consider whether or not I reeeeeeeally need it (either for myself or for a client).  If I can’t justify buying it, I leave it for the next person who shares my love of weird stuff.
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I’d like to add a 6th tip! Bring water and stop for snacks. When Dean was in town last week, we made the very smart decision to grab some ice cream at Scoops while we were out scoring some nice finds. Delicious!
Photo of Dean by Lucy Hewitt
Instagram photos by Dean
Ice cream by Whitney A.

Day Tripping: Pick a Destination Out of a Hat

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 1 No tags 1

There are those days when you just have to get out of town and get some wind in your hair. I almost typed WINE in your hair, but maybe that works too since it comes right back to the same type of feeling. I needed a break and I didn’t want to have to plan anything. I just wanted to go.

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On a Saturday, I asked my social media pals what their favorite destinations were within two hours of Los Angeles. I got a few recommendations of spots I had already been to, but several places I had never visited, and the new landscapes were the ones I wanted to see. I wrote every single new-to-me destination on pieces of scrap paper and threw them in a hat. The next day, I woke up early and picked one. Looked like I would be headed to Lake Arrowhead!

I spent about 30 minutes looking at possible places to eat and activities to do, asking a few friends for recommendations of hikes and cool things to see. I packed a hat, a bikini, a towel and some water and hit the road.

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I ate some mediocre tacos and drank a margarita by the lake and then made my way towards Aztec Falls, a hidden swimming hole about a half mile down a trail in Deep Creek canyon. I got a little confused trying to find it, but I asked people along the trail and just followed the sound of joyous beer-drinking people (and completely freaked out people jumping off cliffs). As Type A as I am, it feels good to get lost and not know where you’re going sometimes.

I truly had a great day. I gave myself time to explore and wander around, stopping at another lake, some hole in the wall authentic restaurants/shops/bars and even Twin Peaks (!) on the way home. I highly recommend you give this whole thing a try, wherever you are. It’s a cheap, easy and fast way to get a mini vacation and step outside of your usual routine!

A Vintage Wine Purse

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1 No tags 1

Wicker_Wine_Carrier

When I was in St. Louis recently, my friends and I spent a Saturday afternoon at a vintage pop-up street fair. There was SO MUCH good stuff. Everything in LA gets picked over, but whenever I thrift or look at vintage in other cities while traveling I notice some real gems, and for cheap too. I walked past a stall and something caught my eye. It was like the clouds parted (it was really sunny out with no clouds but let’s just go with it) and a ray of light from the heavens shone down on one particular item…this wicker wine carrier. I call it my wine purse. Because when you leave the house, all you really need is a bottle of wine. Right??

Wicker_Wine_Carrier_Bottom

Who knows when it was made or where, but I had to have it. I think I paid $10 or $15 for it and it was money well spent. I usually use my Bottle Stock leather tote when transporting wine to a party or what have you, but this is so fun for the summer and all those picnics and BBQ’s.

Wicker_Wine_Carrier_Bottle

I actually found one on eBay that is very similar if you feel like you need this in your life. But, if you want the wine pictured (2013 La Clarine Farm Rosé) you can definitely buy that right here. It’s unfiltered, a little earthy/yeasty/tangy, like peach fuzz. Totally unique and delicious.