It’s the time of year that our calendars get filled with gatherings, parties and get-togethers. Some of these are planned and some get sprung on us last minute. To be prepared for whatever comes my way, I keep the ingredients for my Pimiento Party Dip stocked in my fridge. This dip is so quick and easy to make that it can be whipped up in a moment’s notice if an unexpected guest pops by.
Note of caution: this dip is known to make your guests come back for more so don’t feed it to anyone you don’t want to see again 🙂
Since I began making this my friends now come over with dip expectations so I better not run out!
Pimiento Party Dip is simple so each ingredient is key to its flavor. You must buy a good quality cheese to begin with. The brand 365 is the only shredded cheese I will buy because it tastes freshly shredded. Many times you will find that the packaged shredded cheese has a coating on it. This will not taste the best. If you cannot find the 365 cheese I suggest you buying blocked cheese and shred it yourself.
The other super important ingredient is the mayonnaise. Mr. Kensington’s Organic Mayonnaise will change your thoughts on all other brands of mayonnaise. I also really like their avocado mayonnaise and will use it interchangeably depending on what’s in my fridge at the moment. I buy all of this at Whole Foods but if you don’t have Whole Foods it’s worth finding, you will thank me.
I begin with adding equal parts sharp cheddar shredded cheese and Monterey jack cheese to a large bowl. In these pictures I used an entire bag of each. I previously made smaller batches but stopped doing that because it’s nice to keep the leftovers in the fridge for snacking.
Next I added 5-6 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise. As you get all the ingredients stirred together you can add more if you feel like. I always wait until the end to tweak it because you don’t want it to get too soggy.
Then I finely mince 4-5 slices of pickled jalapeños. This does not add a lot of heat but it adds amazing flavor. If you like it spicy then by all means add more!
I also like to pour a bit of the jalapeño juice to get that great flavor evenly distributed in the dip. I use about 2 tablespoons.
(If any of you don’t like spice at all you can omit the jalapeños and just add the same amount of juice from the pimientos.)
Next, I like to rough chop the pimientos so each delicious bite of dip will be sure to have one. When I first made this recipe I was trying to cut corners so I didn’t chop the pimientos. I found myself digging out the bites of dip that had pimientos and leaving the rest behind. To avoid having pimiento dip without pimientos we are going to take that extra 30 seconds and chop. It’s worth it.
After you add the CHOPPED pimientos to the bowl you can stir it until evenly mixed. I love that it has all the colors of Christmas represented.
After it is all mixed really well I add my secret ingredient. I have made the dip with and without this secret ingredient and although it is still quite delicious without, it is mind blowing with.
And this secret ingredient is……..Dill
The dill adds a complexity that just takes it over the top, not to mention it looks really pretty.
Now that we have the dip made we need a cracker to dip it. Sweet potato crackers are THE perfect pairing. I have tried other substitutes and it just will not do. I find these at Costco.
So now that I have made myself hungry, I am off to the store to pick up all the below ingredients. My family will be so happy!
Festive parties and get-togethers officially kick off with Thanksgiving dinner. This holiday may be focused on food and family, but don’t forget fashion from the Thanksgiving menu! Keep it simple with these no-fuss jewelry options layered over an all black ensemble. Our multi-strand tourmaline necklace is a gorgeous shade of merlot with a little metallic pop – not to mention it’s the perfect length for sit-down events. Pair with a hammered gold cuff and our black druzy clip-ons for the complete autumnal look.
Office Holiday Party
Ahhh, the office holiday party. This is where a professional look is best, but can also be an opportunity to step up your accessory game a notch or two. Let’s be honest – there will be a few coworkers who take the holiday theme a bit too far with their red and green festive-ness. We think the perfect players for this event are our apatite and pave pieces. The blue, black, and bit of sparkle make for an elevated look that’s a bit unexpected but definitely says “holiday.”
“Wild Card” Party
There’s always one “wild card” party you get invited to and have not a clue what to wear. For the growing in popularity “ugly Christmas sweater party,” we suggest going to your not-so-basic gold statement earrings. While your sweater screams “festive” your accessories will be whimsical yet wearable. We know you’ve been eyeing them – this is your excuse to add them to your collection!
Charity events are in full swing around the holidays, and you may feel overwhelmed picking outfits for every event without repeating. Our tip? Let your accessories – not the dress – do the talking. Pull out your tried and true black gown, and pair with this show-stopping amethyst set. All eyes will be on your rich-hued jewels, and you will definitely make a statement. We adore this deep purple set with the gold-trimmed details, and we know you will too.
The holiday season is in full swing and so are your cocktail parties scattered throughout your calendar. Don’t worry about what you’re going to wear – stick to your favorite neutral pieces in your closet and add new statement earrings to change it up. While red is the classic choice, we also love the deep green malachite stones – green is an unexpected choice for the holidays but such a fashion-forward pick. Pair with a red lip to complete your look!
Whether you’re attending a church service or spending quality time with family on Christmas Eve, we think the easiest accessory to throw on is a long pendant necklace. We love this winter white bone tassel piece with hints of gold – it’s the best way to keep your look classy but fashion forward. Complete your look with classic gold hoops (the perfect size!) and a simple but bold ring.
New Year’s Eve
New Years Eve – the last party of the year with the most va va voom! Skip the usual sequin number for some sparkly jewels instead! Our black horn and crystal set is the best way to add some pizazz without going overboard. The crystals reflect light and will shimmer all night, and you will be glad you chose to end your year in these NEST pieces!
Fall has officially settled upon us but I am having trouble getting in the spirit. I live in Houston and it’s still a solid 90 degrees with high humidity. But today was grocery shopping day and as I walk into Whole Foods you could hardly miss the pumpkins, mums, and every kind of pumpkin flavored food you could imagine. By the end of my weekly stock up I decided if you can’t beat ‘em…. join ‘em! On one of the many pumpkin filled end caps I saw some pumpkin spiced apple cider and decided there was no better way to get into the spirit than by drinking some spirits –so here I go at my first attempt of a new Fall cocktail!
It all started with this inspiring Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider; however, the thought of sipping a warm drink in this heat is definitely not appealing – so we will be making a pumpkin spice martini.
To tell you a little bit more about myself, I love to cook and I love to make cocktails but I HATE to measure or follow recipes. It takes all the creative fun out of it, so we are going to learn to wing it together. Trust me you will enjoy it so much more! Don’t be scared, I’m with you all the way.
Fill your glass full of ice. This is very important. When you shake it in the shaker you want to be sure it gets really cold. Then fill the glass half way with a nice Kentucky Bourbon.
Next, add a couple good splashes of Grand Marnier. I would guess it is about a jigger full. You could do a little less if you don’t like your drinks too sweet. Liqueurs have a high sugar content so you can always tweak your drinks to be more or less sweet with the amount of liqueur.
Then you top your glass off with the Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider.
Toss this all in the shaker and add a sprinkle of brown sugar, ¼ of a fresh squeezed lemon and 10-15 drops of bitters to finish it off. Now shake what your momma gave ya. The more you shake it the better it gets, (and the more fun you will have!) By the time you quit singing “Shake shake shake, Shake shake shake, Shake your booty” your drink is done!
As with most things in life, presentation is everything! Have some fun here. I like my guests to have an idea of what they are going to drink just by looking at the cocktail. So to achieve this I would like to rim the glass with brown sugar.
I poured some of the cider in a saucer so I could wet the edges of the glass. Next I rolled it in the brown sugar.
I think it would also be really cute to use a cinnamon stick but I didn’t have any and wasn’t about to go back to the store. Just one more reason I don’t use recipes – whatever you have is what you use – and it’s just perfect.
Voile! Pumpkin Spice Martini.
Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider
Maker’s Mark (or other good whisky)
Grand Marnier (I suggest you not substitute this – the flavor really changes with other orange liquors)
Brown Sugar (for the drink and to rim the glass)
Apple Slices (for garnish and to snack on while you are mixing your cocktail)
I am already caught up in the hustle and bustle of the new school year. Summer seems like a lifetime ago at this point and my heart is yearning for another visit to Sedona, AZ. A stroll through the deep red mountains clears your head and fills your soul. The rain had set in and drizzled on us throughout our hike but seeing the dramatic cloud roll in was worth getting wet.
The only thing better than discovering a new place is watching our kids discover it together. We have been traveling together as an extended family for ten years. This time together is invaluable to the bond they will have forever.
We stayed at the lovely LaAuberge de Sedona Luxury Resort. The food there was amazing. We would enjoy a large breakfast before heading out to our daily adventures. In the afternoon we would come back to our cabin near the stream and sip on a nice Sauvignon Blanc or a bubbly.
During the drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon you will see approximately six different ecosystems. From the red rocks of Sedona up the mountains into a lush evergreen area, across flat plains as far as the eye can see until you reach a dessert that opens up into the Grand Canyon.
As beautiful as these pictures are they cannot possibly capture the vast spender of this amazing landscape. This is a place you must experience for yourself, see with your own eyes and sit at the edge of the canyon to take it all in. You will leave feeling refreshed and balanced.
Over the weekend I noticed a couple of my recessed halogen lights were out in my house so my husband, daughter l and I headed out to my all-time favorite light bulb store in Houston. I realize that most of you probably don’t have a favorite light bulb store but as an interior designer who believes in the importance of great lighting this place is a frequent stop for me. I appreciate the “Mom and Pop” feel of a small family run business. I love the personal, knowledgeable service you receive by people who actually care about you and the work they do each day.
During the twenty years of doing design work I have nearly always spec’d halogen lights for interior recessed lighting of a residential space. In my opinion it has the most beautiful light output. It’s warm but not too warm and has a crispness that gives the space a nice sparkle. It’s my go to.
However, the world is moving to LED lighting for the cost savings and better environmental impact. I appreciate this and support this, however, I also don’t want to sacrifice the look of the halogen. When LED first came out they were just awful. AWFUL. Nope. No way, not gonna do it. However, the builders that I work with only use LED now and are singing their praises so I guess it is time I learn the world of LED and embrace this change. My salesman, Joshua, decided this was the day I was going to switch over to LED.
He began giving me the LED 101 information and it was all sounding great. In a super abbreviated nutshell here is what you need to know:
1. The color temperature– This is listed on the box as either 2700K, 3000K, 4000K or 5000K. Here are my thoughts on how to use each:
- The 2700K is most similar to the warm yellow light we are used to seeing from an incandescent. I would use this in most areas of your home. It feels inviting and cozy.
- The 3000K is just a touch cooler and will still give you a somewhat warm feel but be a little cleaner. Depending on the brand you choose some of these will get too cool for your living spaces. I could see them being an appropriate choice for a studio, bathrooms where you need good lighting for make-up application, commercial space, closets or anywhere you don’t want the yellow to interfere with how you see color in the space. This does lose a touch of coziness
- The 4000K is bright pure white. This is way too harsh for a personal space in your home. However, the color does have an energetic feel to it so if you had a commercial space that you wanted to keep a fresh, bright and energetic then this would be good fit.
- The 5000K begins to turn a bit blue. It is considered to be like natural daylight which indeed is blue but it really feels harsh and overwhelming for any residential application. I struggle to find a use but maybe a garage or warehouse? I would personally not want to be in this light for long periods of time because it makes me feel….well, blue!
Here is an example of the color difference between the warmer more yellow 2700K and the 3000K.
2. The Wattage. SAY WATT? – We are all used to 60 or 90 watt incandescent light but the wattage on LED is totally different. Luckily they are helping us with this on the box and give you a conversion from what you are used to.
3. The Lumens – The lumens are going to determine how bright the light is. It’s amazing how different each brand and style of light felt when the lumens were basically the same. However, if you find a bulb you like but it’s just a bit too bright you can look for a lower lumen value until you find the perfect one.
4. The Light Angle – Last but definitely not least you must choose your light angle. Keeping it simple we will say you have narrow flood, flood, and wide angle flood. Living in Houston we are still hesitant to mention the word flood but here it’s unavoidable.
- Narrow flood – At 16-30 degrees this is going to give you a spot light feel. If you are trying to accent something or keep your light from spreading this is a good choice. However, if you use this for overall ambient lighting you will find circles of light on your floors instead of an overall consistent light. This could make a dramatic effect in certain applications.
- Flood – At 91-120 degrees this is a standard light used in most residential and commercial recessed lights.
- Wide Flood – At 121-160 these have a very dispersed beam to cover a wide are and are typically used for exterior motion sensor lighting. It can however, also be used for very high ceilings. In my previous home I preferred the wide flood to avoid the “spots” of light the regular flood lights were giving me from my high ceilings.
If you are already overwhelmed don’t worry, I was right there with you. I had to do some experimenting for myself to see what each of these numbers really meant. Based off this information Joshua so generously gave me I made my selection, went home, installed the light and HATED IT. Oh no. I was so excited to learn to love LED and I hated it. Now what? Back to the light store. Luckily, they have this really amazing room that my daughter loves to have dance parties in so she was pumped to go back every time and we did go back, five times to be exact.
By trip number three I had all the salesmen at the store giving me their opinion of what they thought would be the perfect bulb for me. They sent me home with all their options and each were certain I would choose their favorite. In the end I FINALLY decided on this one…(drum roll please.)
This was the closest match to my old favorite. I bought four and installed them in my kitchen. I can tell a slight difference but I am certain no one else would. I hope this gives you a bit of courage to go LED with confidence. I have faith in you!
We’re seeing it everywhere from cowboy booties to peasant tops – there’s no doubt the American Southwest is an important influence this season. Our go-to that plays into the trend is none other than our multi-colored beaded necklaces. The combination of malachite, turquoise, lapis, tiger’s eye, and horn gives this accessory a southwestern feel while still being incredibly wearable.
Available online at Neiman Marcus ($295 |$395)
Want a neutral option? Arrowheads are always a unique addition to an ensemble.
Forget past associations of charms being only for bracelets – our new favorite charm accessory? The charm statement necklace of course! True to the NEST brand, we use collections of natural stone and horn pieces in our handmade necklaces – giving it a nostalgic heirloom feel.
Available online at Neiman Marcus ($395 | $350)
Like to stay one step ahead of the trends? Add these charm rings to your line up for an über-stylish look.
WE’VE GOT THE BLUES
Blues are having a major moment – our very favorites being the rich royal and playful peacock hues. Go for a classic statement necklace with natural stones for an organic feel this season.
Try mixing different shades of blue in your wardrobe for a chic monochromatic look. These blue drop earrings are sure to elevate any ensemble.
This season’s pearl update is here – and in the most gorgeous shades of grey. We love the subtle but chic hue in these chunky necklaces. Layer over a cozy sweater for a put together laid-back look.
Available online at Neiman Marcus ($395 | $350)
Want a little more va-va-voom? This mother-of-pearl carved owl set is this season’s best conversation piece.
Carved Owl Mother-Of-Pearl Tassel Pendant Necklace – Available online at Saks Fifth Avenue ($395)
Its no secret animal prints are a fall staple. Our take on working the trend into your everyday outfits? Add our beloved spotted horn accessories into the mix! Use to complement a classic neutral outfit or style with bright colors and patterns if you’re feeling fashion-forward.
Can’t get enough? You won’t regret having all of these classics that will stay relevant throughout the seasons.
We can’t stop talking about our experience in Italy because it was jut that amazing! Jana and I both get so much of our design inspiration from our travels.
We spent several days in Rome before heading to the Amalfi coast. Our first day trip was to the beautiful restaurants and shops at Positano. Walking along the stone paths in front of the stores, I came across a family owned linen atelier, La Bottega di Brunella.They made everything in house, from the linen yarn to the finished product. After I did a little shopping I asked if they would give me a tour of their manufacturing facility that was right behind the storefront. Not only were the happy to do so, in typical Italian style they also introduced me to most of their family!
The next day we took a trip to Pompeii. We explored the ruins that were once a sophisticated Roman city and visualized were the vast shopping areas and spas used to be. I especially enjoyed the large frescoes covering the walls that were made with blue pigments from crushed lapis. I also enjoyed wearing my new linen dress.
My favorite place to visit was the island of Capri. The city is absolutely beautiful and it’s lined with high-end shops that overlook the bright blue water.
We took a boat trip around the island to the grottos; this is an absolute must-see! Italy is know for it’s beautiful red coral but I wasn’t expecting to see it in its natural environment, growing all over the rocks where they meet the water. What an awesome surprise. Italy never disappoints!
I’m sitting in my office with the doors open, overlooking the pool and listening to the birds chirping happily nearby. We have had unusually fresh, crisp weather in Texas this spring so I am soaking up these days while they last. The view of the water and the fresh air makes for a relaxed work day yet I find myself distracted, reminiscing of our trip to the Amalfi coast. The view from the property we stayed at has the same vibrant blue of my pool. All that is missing is a cold Prosecco in my hand.
Janette and I love to travel with all our family to places that will inspire us and keep our creativity nurtured. The Amalfi coast of Italy did not disappoint.
We hired a driver to maneuver us along the very narrow and winding coast. This turned out to be one of the best decisions we made as we saw large buses getting stuck in the tight turns and Vespas whipping their way in and out of traffic.
We first travelled south down the coastline to a quaint town called Positano. It’s mostly blocked off to the traffic and has great shopping. Of course we also squeezed in some “photo ops.”
Once we were back at our house getting ready for dinner I noticed an old woman tending to her garden. I’m not sure “garden” is even the correct word since it is several tiers and has massive amounts of lemon trees and tomatoes. I later learned that she is the owner of the property we stayed at and also the restaurant below. They used fresh ingredients picked daily with every meal. The house and restaurant is now run by her grandchildren and she could not be more proud of the lifestyle they built from scratch for her family. At the end of each meal we would toast with Limoncello. It is a local liquor made from the lemons growing around the property.
After a great nights sleep we were ready for a day at the beach. The rocky beach is hot on the feet which helps the transition into the cold water of the Mediterranean. We eventually got used to it but it would always take your breath away the first time you jumped in. The salt in the water is so abundant you leave feeling as though you have been at the spa.
A trip to Italy would not be complete without a cooking class! We went to a beautiful, organic farm and learned authentic Italian cooking. We picked the herbs, tomatoes and zucchini from the garden before beginning to roll out our fresh pasta.
And of course, at the end of the class we enjoyed the fruits of our labor and saluti with Prosecco!
Until we meet again Italy…….arrivederci!
I just sat down in front of my calendar and somehow the end of April is nearing and May is just around the corner! For me (and many others) May is a busy month filled with weddings, graduations and of course, Mother’s Day. While all of these are joyous occasions, I realize that each of them calls for a new outfit and of course a gift! Eek! These life-changing moments deserve something really special and I am certain that Mother-of-Pearl was put on earth just for this purpose. Pearl is feminine and light which makes it so easy to wear for all the fun festivities that May brings. I have decided to make my spring shopping quick and easy by wearing Mother-of-Pearl with all of my outfits AND I am giving beautifully boxed pieces as my gifts. Here are my top choices:
For attending graduations I will do a long necklace and statement earrings -–
Mother-of-Pearl Disc Station Necklace – Available online at Neiman Marcus ($395)
Mother-of-Pearl Chandelier Earrings – Available online at Neiman Marcus ($295)
For Mother’s Day I need the original NEST Cluster Necklace and a pair of Gold Hoop Earrings –
Mother-of-Pearl Cluster Necklace – Available online at Neiman Marcus ($395)
High Polish Hoop Earrings – Available online at Neiman Marcus ($95)
For the wedding I plan to wear a pink champagne-colored dress and accessorize with a white and pink pearl combo. Mixing colors keeps your look fresh and current while the elegance of pearl keeps you looking classic and put together for any occasion. (I literally do not leave my house without a statement ring.)
Two-Strand Mother-of-Pearl Necklace – Available online at Neiman Marcus ($395)
Pink Mother-of-Pearl Statement Ring – Available online at Nest Jewelry ($295)
White Mother-of-Pearl Stretch Bracelet – Available online at Nest Jewelry ($95)
Now that my looks are covered, we can focus on the gifts. For the graduates I am sending earrings, earrings, and earrings!
Pink Mother-of-Pearl Chandelier Earrings – Available online at Nest Jewelry ($295)
Grey Mother-of-Pearl Clip-On Earrings – Available online at Saks Fifth Avenue ($195)
White Mother-of-Pearl Statement Earrings – Available online at Stanley Korshak ($150)
Pink Mother-of-Pearl Open Teardrop Earrings – Available online at Stanley Korshak ($125)
For my girls who aren’t earring fanatics, I would choose this super cute charm pendant necklace with a matching bracelet –
Mother-of-Pearl and Amethyst Charm Bracelet – Available online at Neiman Marcus ($295)
Long Mother-of-Pearl Pendant Necklace – Available online at Neiman Marcus ($295)
My favorite options for Mother’s Day gifts are the Grey Mother-of-Pearl necklace with matching earrings, or if your momma is more of a classic woman then you can’t go wrong with a Cluster Necklace –
Long Grey Mother-of-Pearl Disc Necklace – Available online at Saks Fifth Avenue ($395)
Statement Grey Mother-of-Pearl Drop Earrings – Available online at Saks Fifth Avenue ($150)
Mother-of-Pearl Petal Cluster Necklace – Available online at Neiman Marcus ($395)
We hear from a lot of you that you want clip earrings and we listened! We currently have an entire collection of Mother-of-Pearl Clip Earrings so all the world can enjoy a beautiful NEST statement earring with more styles to come.
We send each of these beautiful pieces to you with love and hope that you will BE BOLD – WEAR NEST – and MAKE A STATEMENT!
Carter and Jana Erwin are the proud owners of this charming 1920s bungalow in the Upper Kirby area of Houston, Texas. Jana is the Co-Founder of NEST Jewelry and NEST Design Group, and Carter is an executive in the oil and gas industry. They bought this home after returning from a two-year stint in Aberdeen, Scotland. Living overseas gave them a new love for a more minimalistic lifestyle. Instead of returning to their 4500 sq. ft. home on 5 acres in the country, they decided to downsize, move into town, and experience the convenience of city life.
When they moved back, Jana was newly pregnant and she knew a remodel was out of the question. She had to find a home that was move-in ready; a task she assumed impossible for any interior designer. However, when she walked in the front door of this charming bungalow she instantly knew it was the one. The architecture boasts the original old wood windows and floors. All it needed was a fresh coat of white paint!
Jana has traveled all around the world and it is important to her that the pieces in her home tell a story. She has been collecting artifacts her entire life and she loves furnishings that have a soul and a meaning. Even her work desk is made from an old table that her Great-Grandfather crafted for her Grandmother.
Her artwork has been carried from Europe as mementos of family vacations. Even the pottery used around her home is from Germany, Israel, Mexico, Scotland, Poland and Greece. The accent pillow on her bed is made from an old chenille bedspread that belonged to her Grandmother.
When you step inside this home you can feel the love that each carefully-selected treasure carries with it. To say this home has great energy is an understatement!
Jana loves finding one-of-a-kind pieces from local artists. She has more art than she can fit on the walls so her environment is constantly changing to accommodate her collection.
She also loves to cook and mix-up one of her famous cocktails while looking out over the pool.
Owning both a jewelry and interior design company comes in handy when it’s time to decorate. The large-scale necklaces and all-natural bead strands make perfect accessories!
You can see the same philosophy for the jewelry and interior business used throughout her home; everything is natural. She believes the energy that is put into an object is important and has placed crystals in nearly every room. Her space is a reflection of who she is and that is how she approaches her design projects with her clients.
January is the perfect time to focus on yourself after the busy holiday season. My daily routine would not be complete without Aura Soma Pomanders. These beautiful, colorful bottles are each mixed with a combination of essential oils and crystals to bring you balance and clear your energetic field. It’s like a mini spa treatment that you can easily do any time of day. These are great gifts for young and old, male or female and especially for that “hard to buy for” person on your list.
Pomanders are offered in larger, individual bottles or there is a handy travel set that can easily fit into your purse or backpack. The small bottles can go through security at the airport, which is a plus because we can all use a nice refresher while traveling.
You can also clear the air in your home or office with Pomander Room Sprays. These are great to set the tone of a space or refresh a room. For example, if you are having a meeting at work that needs some added creativity, use the turquoise spray. Or, if you need to clear negative energy use the magenta spray. It’s fun to play around with the various colors to see how the mood changes. Want a passionate night? Try infusing the room with sprays of the red colors.
How they work:
Each bottle gets its color from the crystal energies that are inside, so each bottle has different healing properties. For example, the white clears negative energies and the red gives you energy, while the pink helps facilitate unconditional love for yourself and others. Yellow can help if you are feeling fearful or nauseous and turquois blue helps you to communicate your feelings. The good news is that you don’t have to know what each bottle means, you simply just use what you are drawn to. Don’t over think it. Trust your instinct.
How to use the Pomanders:
Select the color that speaks to you. Once you have chosen a color, pump three sprays onto the palm of your hand. Keeping your hands just a few inches away from your body, start at the top of your head and work your way down your entire body as though you are “washing” your aura. When you get to your feet, pull both arms up over your head then finally in front of your nose where you will inhale three times. You will feel the shift in your energy, leaving you more balanced and refreshed. This is just a guide to get you started but feel free to play around with it.
Refresh, Rebalance, and Replenish your energies with these beautiful Pomanders!
I cannot think of Christmas without reminiscing on the time we went to the Arctic Circle in Santa’s hometown of Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland. As soon as you step off the plane you can tell that you are somewhere magical. The whole town is in character from the shop owners to the bus drivers, ensuring you feel the Christmas spirit. I hadn’t even left the airport when I made my first purchase of a gorgeous reindeer coat with a fox hood. You must be fashionable when we go to see Mrs. Claus, of course. Also, I needed to be sure I would stay warm during our stay at the ice hotel!
We stayed in Santa’s Village in a cute little house right on the property.
The illuminated blue line on the light posts marks the beginning of the Arctic Circle.
I know what you are thinking, we have all seen Santa sitting in his big chair in the middle of the mall with lines of children waiting to sit on his knee. That is not the experience here. When he calls you by name you enter into his living room and you get to spend some time with him, chatting and asking any questions that you’d like. He even told us that his favorite cookie is not a cookie at all but that he prefers porridge!
As with all my travels, I like to plan a little extra adventure while we’re there. I had never been on a snowmobile so I decided this was the perfect time. It was so much fun and the scenery was beautiful. We did this in the middle of the afternoon but as you can see in the picture, it looks like dusk. This was the most light we saw all day and it didn’t last long. Winters on the Arctic Circle are spent mostly in the dark. If you are wondering if it is cold the answer is YES! I was wearing snow gear from head to toe with another outer layer of coveralls provided by the tour guide.
The reindeer in Finland are highly respected and are raised in the wild. They are only hunted when the people need food and clothing. Our guide let us know that it is customary in Finland to use boots made of reindeer pelts because it keeps your feet warmed than any shoe we use today. I had hoped we would see the Aurora Borealis on our sleigh ride, and although we didn’t, we saw more stars that I knew the sky could even hold. They seemed close enough to touch! Our night came to a perfect end with a warm fire and hot cocoa.
Next, we left Santa’s village for a night in the snow hotel! This is a once in a lifetime experience. We ate dinner on an ice table, drank from an ice cup, danced on an ice floor and slept on an ice bed. I was expecting it to be uncomfortable but it was the best night of sleep I had all week. The walls of each room are made of packed snow three feet thick. It was a quiet that I had never experienced before; I mean TOTAL silence. The sleeping bags kept us warm and toasty.
If all this wasn’t enough, I had just one more item on my bucket list, dog sledding! This was more adventurous than I was expecting. These dogs mean business and they take their jobs very seriously. Driving the sleighs takes focus and courage. These dogs can really move and they must stay equal distance from the sleigh in front of them or you get slack in the line and the dogs get all tangled up. It was amazing to witness!
After all this rugged outdoor adventure I was ready for the flight back to Helsinki to stay in a five-star hotel with crisp white sheets and a stocked bar. It was the perfect winter wonderland experience.
- The Gin Factory – Natural Botanicals Rosemary Gin
- Spectacular Tonic Water
- 1/2 Lime Squeezed Fresh
- Garnish: Fresh Rosemary Sprig and Dried Cranberries
I found myself standing in the center of Rome, looking around and imagining all that this mega city has seen. It was hard to even wrap my mind around it. The never-ending stream of Vespa’s weaving through the narrow lanes of traffic gave the city a fast-paced feel. Still, there is something ‘easy’ about it, almost like a flow.
We spent several days in the heart of Italy; hitting the necessary tourist attractions before making our way to the coast for some much needed “r and r.”
Janette and I travel together, along with our families, and prior to our adventures we would fantasize about being so inspired during the vacation that we’d whip out our sketchpads and start creating new lines of jewelry on the footsteps of monuments. We have come to discover that is not how it works for us. Of course, new adventures inspire newfound creativity, just not always in that exact moment. The truth is that traveling takes us out of our daily routines and our familiar environment and turns our senses back on, even elevating them to new levels. We are able to store the inspiration and we can access those memories at anytime. We will pull from this knowledge when we are back in the office, our kids at school, husbands at work, and we have the conveniences of home at our fingertips.
We may not always have the breathtaking view of Italy in front of us but we will always have the memories.
We can’t get enough of the statement earring. You’ll be sure to turn heads in these fun, easy-to-wear options:
1) The Tassel Earring
Turquoise Tassel Earrings. StanleyKorshak.com – $125
Large Turquoise Fringe Earrings. StanleyKorshak.com – $250
2) Everything PEARL
Pink Mother-of-Pearl Chandelier Earrings. NestJewelry.com – $295
Starburst Mother-of-Pearl Earrings. SaksFifthAvenue.com – $195
White Mother-of-Pearl Mini Chandelier Earrings. NestJewelry.com – $195
White Mother-of-Pearl Statement Earrings. NestJewelry.com – $150
3) All Things Gold
Polished Gold Hoop Earrings. NeimanMarcus.com – $195
Sleek Horn Drop Earrings. SaksFifthAvenue.com – $295
[Horn Hoop Earrings in cover photo available at Anthropologie.com – $298. Photo from Anthropologie]
When I’m driving from one client’s house to another, I pass so many homes that are in a state of disrepair. Lot values are increasing in the sought after neighborhoods of the inner loop of Houston and many of these old homes are being demolished. I love the character these old structures have collected over the years so I decided I was going to rescue one! When I posted on social media that I had purchased this one-hundred-year-old bungalow my friends thought I had lost my mind. I admit, it was pretty rough but I could see the potential right from the start.
I didn’t want to lose any charm so I kept all of the original wood siding, awnings, window boxes, and even brought the front porch back to its original state. Let’s face it; the best part of this era was the porches so that was a no brainer. I also added a fabulous tile, just to have a little fun.
When you’re doing a flip you continually have to decide what is worth restoring and what needs to be laid to rest. The detached garage easily went into the “ditch” category and I replaced it with a fun “party-coche.” This dual-purpose space allows for parking while also being the perfect party spot.
When I walked through the front door for the first time I was thrilled to see original hardwood floors. They were in pretty good shape so I refinished them in dark ebony to make it more modern. Everything else in the house is light and bright. There is not a single spot that isn’t touched by natural light.
Other than the gorgeous hardwood floors, the rest of the house was basically a gut. It still had all the old knob an tube wiring and the original plumbing. I can tell you that old plumbing does NOT have charm. It had fire hazard written all over it.
The kitchen was large but outdated and had a poor layout. Plus, I wanted to close off the entrance to the master bedroom and add and en suite, walk-in-closet, and bring the washer and dryer inside instead of being out in the garage. The new layout is a major improvement and much more functional for how we live today.
When we began tearing down the walls we discovered…shiplap! I had my heart set on a modern design so I couldn’t leave it throughout the house but I still honored it by creating the vent hood and finishing it with a grey stain. I LOVE this feature.
I wanted the kitchen to be on the cutting edge of design so I added sconce lighting, open shelving, and charcoal grey cabinets. By keeping the countertops a classic white marble this kitchen will stand the test of time.
The powder bath is a throw back to how I imagine it should have looked; classic white subway tile, old pedestal sink from a historical salvage yard, and marble accents. I also removed the closet and opted for open shelving to make the space feel larger.
The master bedroom received an adorable old louvered door on sliding hardware to make good use of space and keep the character going throughout the house.
I kept the finishes in the master bath simple. We needed to add a window to the bath so I found an old window matching the style of the home. The little details give it authenticity. If there was a mixture of “some old” and “some new” it would feel like a remodel. Instead, this home looks freshly updated but you can’t tell where I’ve added or made changes because the bones are still the same.
The final room of the home is a front bedroom/office/sitting room. I installed reclaimed windows in place of the door to bring in more light.
Last but definitely not least, I added French doors going from the breakfast area off the kitchen to the new deck overlooking the huge back yard. Every home needs French doors somewhere. Period.
Now all that is left is for them to pry it out of my fingers so it can go on the market. I have to remind myself that I restored this amazing home to be lived in and loved by someone else. I just can’t keep all of them…but I kind of want to!
The start of New York Fashion Week has me reminiscing on my recent trip to the Big Apple. My days are filled from sunrise to sunset with buyer and editor meetings but I love the energy of the city. Lotte New York Palace is my favorite place to stay.
Every morning I sip my earl grey tea while taking in the view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in a quiet room high above all the noise.
I’m always eating on the go and the Lotte New York Palace has the cutest French style bakery, Pomme Palia. I’ll grab a croissant and refill my earl grey tea and I’m off!
First stop – Hearst Tower
This was truly a dream for me! I met with editors from Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Town and Country, O Magazine and Elle. Our statement earrings and Horn Choker Necklace were their favorite pieces from our spring line.
After leaving Hearst I grabbed a quick bite at Bergdorf Goodman Café.
Next stop – Meeting with the owner of Julian Gold
Julian Gold has been offering customers the best designer selections since 1945 and we are thrilled our line is available throughout their four locations in Texas.
Now it’s time to hail a taxi! I have a long ride to Brookfield Place to meet with Saks Fifth Avenue. Their new downtown office is sleek and modern and has sweeping views of the Hudson River. They also loved our statement earrings and Amazonite Statement pieces.
For my last meal of the day I lucked out and came across a hidden burger joint in Le Parker Meridien. It was absolute burger perfection.
The next day I had several morning meetings before I had to jet off to the airport. There is never enough time in New York City!
First stop (Day 2) – Buyer meeting with Intermix
Intermix is known for mixing on-trend pieces in unexpected ways. Again, it was all about the statement earring. The buying team loved our Mother of Pearl Chandelier Earrings so much they had to try them on. 🙂
My last stop was in downtown Manhattan to meet with Halsbrook. Our bold pieces blend well with the classic clothing carried by this online boutique. Their turquoise-toned office is super cute and I always enjoy catching up with them.
With my trip wrapped up, I start sketching new designs on the flight home. New York City gets me so inspired! I am already looking forward to my next visit.
We hear from most of our clients that they just don’t know what to do with their bookshelves. To start from scratch can be quite overwhelming so I am going to break it down into three easy steps to make the task manageable and fun!
1. Clear the shelves off completely. The biggest mistake I see is trying to “tweak” shelves that are already finished. People try to just “freshen them up” and it turns out to be a mess. It is a bit time consuming up front but will save time in the long run and give you a much better end result.
2. Gather all books and accessories. It is SO much easier to have more than what you need so that you can be picky. Assess what you already have. It gives a nice personal touch to have items you have collected while traveling, or objects that hold a special memory. Gather all your books and make a quick calculation to see if there are enough to complete the job. It’s no fun to run out of books mid-project. I know this from experience. Now you must be realistic with what you have versus the look you are trying to achieve. If you have gathered inspiration pictures of very sleek and minimally accessorized shelves with shiny white books and gold accessories, but all you have are stacks of paperbacks and some chachkies… you need to get shopping!
3. Place books and accessories in the shelves. Okay friends, this is what we have been training for…YOU CAN DO IT! Here’s some fool proof ideas to get you started:
- A run of books flanked by bookends.
- A stack of books with accessories on top.
- A run of books pushed to one side with a decorative bowl or object to replace the bookend.
- Artwork as a backdrop.
- Use family heirlooms and photographs.
Now take your shoes off, get a drink, turn up the music and get to decorating! You’ll have gorgeous, professional looking shelves before you know it.
As soon as I feel the first dip in the weather my mind switches over to all things Fall. I’m ready to pull out my boots and sweaters, eat heartier comfort foods and drink something that will warm my soul. Nothing does that better than a “wee dram” of Scotch Whiskey. I was educated on the topic while living in Scotland. I toured many distilleries and learned the intricacy of a well- made Scotch.
Every Autumn, Scotland hosts the Speyside Whiskey Festival in the heart of Whiskey Country. You can ride the Whiskey Train from Keith to Dufftown viewing the beautiful Scottish Highlands along the way.
Arriving at this century old rail station was as though I had stepped into the scene of an old, romantic movie. The trains were all original. Our conductor was friendly and wore an old hat and pocket watch. He spoke to us freely but we just smiled as we could only understand a few words through his thick accent.
The first distillery we toured was Strathisla, pronounced Strath – eye – Luh. We know this distinctly because we were having trouble locating it and when we asked for directions no one understood these crazy Americans who were saying Strath – is – luh.
Just look at this architecture. Stunning. Obviously, the form followed the function of the space needed in the distillation process but the beauty of the architecture was one of the things I loved most about Scotland. Even the simplest of structures were beautiful because of the stone artisanship.
I can honestly say I had never really thought of what went into the process of making Scotch Whiskey. Just as wines gain their character from the region the grapes are grown, or the type of barrel they are aged in; Scotch Whiskey gets it subtleties from the malting process. Peat that has been dried into bricks is used as the heat source for drying the damp malt over the fire, which brings the smoke into the barley grain. The more time drying, the more smokey flavor is achieved.
After the tour of the distillery we had an official tasting. Scotch is always served with a side of water. This drastically changes the taste. Next time you order your Scotch on the rocks taste it neat then add splashes of water until you find your desired flavor.
Our last stop was the Glenfiddich Distillery. Right next door was a field with Highland Cows and a castle in ruin. We could not help but to go explore.
We ended our day with a short walk into Dufftown where we wandered into a local pub for some fish and chips and of course Scotch!
NEST Jewelry’s Creative Director and Co-Owner, Janette Wilkinson, sat down with Neiman Marcus to discuss her vision behind the brand.
(You can find the original blog post at www.blog.neimanmarcus.com)
Neiman Marcus: Tell us about your journey toward becoming a renowned jewelry designer.
Janette Wilkinson: It happened mostly by accident. Since a very young age, I have always loved fashion. My earliest memories are of playing in my grandmother’s costume jewelry. I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, so I didn’t have access to fashion outside of magazines and catalogs. I was pretty good at math and science, so I was encouraged to pursue engineering. I graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and then worked in the semiconductor industry for ten years. I really enjoyed working in semiconductor, even though I wore a protective suit that covered me from head to toe—not so fashionable.
The first pieces of jewelry I designed were just for myself. Red coral jewelry was a big trend, and I wanted a coral necklace that had a bold scale, but was still simple. I couldn’t really find what I was looking for, so I decided to make it myself. One day I was in Neiman Marcus NorthPark shopping for a gift and five people stopped me to ask where I had purchased my necklace. I immediately called my sister, Jana Erwin, and the next thing you know we were partners in a jewelry business we named NEST.
NM: And the name NEST, where did it come from?
JW: When Jana and I began brainstorming the name of our jewelry line, we wanted something that emphasized the natural, bold, and simple nature of our pieces. We were traveling around the world collecting things and bringing them back home to create our collections. We felt like birds gathering their natural materials and bringing them back home to create their nests. In that discovery, the name NEST was born.
NM: We love family-owned businesses. Tell us how you and your sister decided on partnering together to create NEST Jewelry.
JW: My sister is an accredited Interior Designer and was running her own high-end design firm in Houston. She understood the details of starting a company, which allowed me to focus on the fashion. Although she is our CEO, it is nice to have another creative eye to look over the pieces that I am working on. We have gradually turned NEST into a family business. I have a very close family that enjoys working, playing, and even traveling together! We have vacationed together in some beautiful places including Greece, Scotland, Mexico, Costa Rica, The Bahamas, and many beaches, mountains, and lakes across the U.S. Our vacations always end up being a great time for vision planning, and over the years my nieces gained interest in listening to our business meetings. After my oldest niece graduated from college, she started working for us, helping with production and also PR. And my younger niece often models our pieces.
NM: Where do you find inspiration designing new collections, season after season?
JW: Nature — every piece of jewelry we make has some sort of natural element. Over the years we have used stone, wood, horn, bone, metals, leather, stingray, and even shark’s teeth. We keep our materials authentic. When we select stones, we let their inherent beauty begin the design process. After we determine the perfect cut of stone, we begin enhancing it with hand-trimmed gold, hand-knotted silk, or we add other natural products like horn. Our customers often tell us that they love the way our pieces feel as much as they love the way they look. The natural energy that the stones carry and the attention to detail and handmade quality truly come through.
NM: Hard to narrow it down, we know, but what is your favorite NEST piece?
JW: Definitely our Cluster Necklace! We’ve created this style in many different colors of turquoise and jasper, mother-of-pearl, and even horn. The NEST Cluster Necklace is the definition of a statement piece!
NM: Can you give us a sneak peek into where you think the fashion industry is headed and how NEST fits into that world?
JW: I think there is such an appreciation and longing for things that are made by hand with natural materials and for pieces that have a story. Jewelry needs to feel special and unique, and that is exactly what we do!
Co-founder, Jana Erwin, has been designing interiors her entire life and prior to launching NEST Jewelry she ran a large high end design firm in Houston, Texas. Now she is getting back to her roots. She has teamed up with her former employee and partner-in-crime, Audrey Tehauno, to bring all the things we love about NEST jewelry into your homes and businesses. The philosophy of Nest Designs is to beautifully allow an interior to reflect the client. They never do the same look twice because each job is completely unique and customized for the individual.
NEST Designs offers full service architectural and interior design for projects large and small, near and far, commercial and residential. The design packages are as customized as the interiors they design. Want to do the work and orders yourself and just need a design scheme laid out for you? Perfect! We love to put packages together that include space planning, furniture selections and imagery sheets for overall aesthetics. Maybe the hands off approach is more your style and you need someone who can oversee every detail. We can do that too!
Find our portfolio under the INTERIORS tab.
Big or Small – Short or Tall – Statement necklaces are for everyone.
[Teal Apatite & Wood Collection available at NeimanMarcus.com]
Over the years I have converted many skeptics to love the statement necklace. I have heard it all, “I love big jewelry but it just doesn’t look good on me,” to “I’m too small,” or even “I’m too big.” At NEST we make sure there is something for everyone. To take the guesswork out of it I have selected a few statement necklaces that look amazing across the board. These pieces are so easy to wear and will help ease you into the wonderful world of statement necklaces. I promise you will thank me.
Rose Gold Pendant Necklace – This necklace will elongate your neck and the soft rose gold color looks amazing on all skin types. This is a win for anyone. It’s just a great, easy-to-wear piece that will go with anything in your closet.
Horn and Gold Ball Necklace – The natural variations of the horn looks fantastic with light or dark hair. The short length makes it easily worn with any neckline. Also, since these large beads are horn they are super lightweight!!
Amazonite Petal Necklace – You will not find a more flattering necklace than this Amazonite Cluster Necklace. Truly. The soft pale blue/green is flattering to all skin types and hair color. The natural rounded teardrop shape brings out all your best facial features. This color is great all year round, from brightening up your linen to adding a punch to your basic black.
I want you all to take a leap of faith, live on the edge, and buy a statement necklace! For the next week we are offering $50 off of these three necklaces using the coupon code: STATEMENT .
As always we love you and thank you for loving your NEST!
BE BOLD – WEAR NEST – MAKE A STATEMENT
It would take a novel to recap the experience I had in just one week of being in Israel. The layers of these lands are literally, figuratively and spiritually entangled in history, mystery and controversy. Unlike my other travels where I painstakingly researched every detail to know the best place to stay and what to do, this vacation was planned by a group of my friends and I just showed up really not knowing what to expect. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint!
The view of the ocean against the stark white architecture is stunning. The ruins we saw imprinted a new picture in my mind of how the people lived. We saw their homes, marketplaces, temples and bathhouses. We could even walk on the same streets they walked on over two thousand years ago. Grooves from the carriage wheels have been worn into the stone. There was true artisanship in making things not only functional but also beautiful.
We visited tombs dug out of the rocky hills. They ranged from simple to ornate depending on the families financial means. We also spent a day on the Sea of Galilee. I imagined it to be a vast ocean but in reality you can see from shore to shore. After cruising the serene waters we went to a local restaurant and had fresh caught fish!
This was my first time in the desert and I could see no other logical thing to do than to ride a camel. It was also the last time I wore those adorable African Horn Teardrop Earrings since I somehow lost one getting off of it. Israel will forever have a little piece of NEST jewelry somewhere in the sand. Hope it doesn’t throw off the archeologists. 🙂
After a quick dip in the healing waters of the Dead Sea, we went to see where the Dead Sea scrolls were found at Masada National Park.
The Garden Of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives. It has a handful of ancient olive trees dating back to 1092 A.D.
The market was a lively place full of color and scents of fresh baked bagels. These are traditional bagels, which look and taste completely different from what we call a bagel in the states. These are more like a French bread with sesame seeds on top. And there is no cream cheese! They top it with olive oil and dried hyssop (which is similar to oregano). Delicious! I enjoyed my bagel with a tall glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.
My advice for anyone seeking a trip to Israel is to find a good guide. Without the knowledge of the history and the different religious beliefs one could really miss the essence of this amazing place.
I have had the privilege of traveling to some of the most beautiful places in the world. At the very top of my list is Holland during tulip blooming season. There are rows and rows of gorgeous flowers in every color imaginable. Pictures just don’t do it justice! The perfume from the hyacinth is almost intoxicating.
When I go to Holland I love to stay in the quaint town of Delft. This village was made famous by the Royal Delft Blue pottery that has been hand painted there since the 16th century. The last of these factories is still operational and open for tours.
Architecture of the Netherlands is distinctive and Delft is no exception. During the Dutch Golden Age, canals were dug and many tall narrow homes were built with intricate facades to show the wealth of the merchants living there. The name Delft actually stemmed from a word meaning “delving” or “digging.”
I stayed at a friend’s apartment right in the center of town. From the front windows we watched the merchants set up their wares and the people riding in on their bicycles to grab some fresh bread, cheese and flowers!
Sitting on the balcony in the back we had views of the old church steeples. This was a perfect respite after a long day of walking the city or exploring through one of these old churches.
We also saw the city hall, shopped for some Delft Blue pottery and encountered street performers of all sorts. If you turn the corner, you can visit the Vermeer Center and see beautiful works of art in the traditional Dutch style.
There isn’t a need for a car in the city. We did all our exploring by foot, bike or train. It’s all part of the ambiance.
Now the day we have all been waiting for: our experience at Keukenhof Flower Garden in Lisse. It is one of the largest flower gardens in the world and in April there are flowers blooming as far as the eye can see.
First we walked through millions of bulbs planted in the garden. They had everything from formal gardens to natural areas and even creative touches like old cars filled with flowers.
After spending hours strolling through the fields, it was time for the parade. This is a special treat since they only have it once a year. The year we went the theme was musicals. We saw Lion King, Singing in the Rain, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland and so many more. This year the parade will be on April 26, 2016.
The floats were beautiful but nothing compared to what we did next. We rented bicycles and rode through the fields of tulips and hyacinth. You cannot even imagine the aroma. Smell evokes such a strong memory. Now if I experience anything similar it takes me right back to that moment in time.
I hope you all have a chance to visit one day soon. I suddenly have the urge to plant some flowers. Guess I am headed to the garden center!
Spring is almost here and that means one thing…short enough sleeves to wear a ton of bracelets!! I LOVE this look! To wear it like a pro make sure to have various widths and materials. I like it best when worn with two to three widths of our horn bangles then add a skinny metal bangle or even the bi-cone stretch bracelet.
You can also keep it interesting by keeping all the materials the same but having a variety of shapes and sizes. The monochromatic look is very chic and super easy to wear.
Want to take the guesswork out? Great! We have put together a couple of stacks for you. Our Ebony Wood Bangles and our famous Mixed Horn Bangles mix well with almost any look and are great starter sets. They’re also the best bang for your buck because you can wear the bracelets as individuals, put on a few, or rock the whole thing!
If you want to jazz these up even more you can add a wide bangle. Just have fun with these! You can’t go wrong.
Maybe you already own some of our Skinny Bangle Sets that are essentials to any NEST collector. No need to get an entirely new stack, just add one or two Hammered Bangles in either gold or silver. Whatever the mood is for the day, NEST has a bangle to fit it!
Now it’s time to get shopping! Enjoy 10% off anything on our site from now through April 30 by using the code: STACK. THANK YOU for being NEST collectors. We love you!
It won’t be long until summer is here so now is the time to plan your next vacation! I highly recommend Stonewater Cove. It is truly a secluded oasis on Table Rock Lake. The landscape is lush green forest, rocky hillsides and crisp, clear water. This part of Missouri isn’t overdeveloped yet so you will feel a sense of peace that you just can’t get at a crowded resort.
We brought the entire family and every single one of us had a blast! Stonewater Cove offers luxurious accommodations, five-star dining and more activities than you could ever do during one stay. They have boating, fishing, hiking, zip-lining, bocce ball and mostly importantly a spa!
We were ready for some adventure so we took the ATV’s out the first day to go zip-line through the forest. The food at the end of the day was definitely the highlight. Unique and beautifully presented, each meal brought smiles to our faces. The following day we hit the lake for some skiing and wakeboarding. After a few wipeouts we decided to recover at the spa where freshly made snacks and a wonderful massage awaited us. Every evening after a competitive game of bocce ball, we would gather around the fire and roast marshmallows while reminiscing on our day. It’s like camp but with gourmet food and Egyptian cotton sheets!
I can’t wait to go back!
One of my favorite things to admire is architecture. Having an interior design background I can’t help but to observe the shapes, colors and textures of a space. The home we stayed in while visiting Mykonos, Greece took my breath away! Cycladic architecture is famous for simple whitewashed adobe with rounded corners and flat roofs.
As with all good design, form follows function. The small window openings and flat roofs are to help protect the homes from the wind. Even the beautiful foliage that grows up the walls serves as an insulation from the hot sun.
Many times development infiltrates these natural paradises and takes away from the overall beauty of the area. That is not the case in Mykonos. The contrast of the bright white buildings against the brown rock and blue Aegean Sea is nothing less than a work of art.
Subscribe to our blog so you won’t miss any design insights to come…possibly even a few of my own creations. 🙂
For my niece’s 21st birthday the family headed out to Napa Valley to explore and learn about “all things wine.” We flew into San Francisco and spent a few days touring the city before renting a large van and heading out to the valley. I have been to vineyards before and I know that a good experience comes from more than just the wine. You want to be pulled into the romance of the entire process: to see how the vines are grown, where it is stored, the wine maker’s philosophy, and most of all you want to hear a great story.
I discovered Long Meadow Ranch and immediately fell in love. They offered a full experience that started with an open-air ride up to Mayacamas Estate, where we toured the facility and of course tasted some wine.
After the tasting, we headed back down to the farmstead for a private wine and food paring. Delicious! They have the oldest olive grove in Napa, as well as fruit orchards, honeybees, chickens and cows.
We all had such a fantastic time that we decided to go check out their organic garden the following day. The restaurant manager was making his morning rounds, checking to see what fruits and vegetables were available for the chef to use in their restaurant. We got lucky; instead of running us off (we hadn’t exactly scheduled a tour…we’re a spontaneous group!) he took us around the property and even allowed us to do a bit of sampling. He also told us more about their full-circle farming technique. The term “going green” is trendy right now but at Long Meadow Ranch they use sustainable farm methods because it yields a better product at a better price. The gardens, farm, orchards and animals work together to contribute to their holistic approach.
As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer to stay in smaller boutique-style hotels. I enjoy the little things they have to offer that make the experience different and exciting. Napa Valley Lodge had that homey feel I was looking for. There was a large outdoor fire pit that the family gathered around in the evenings, a champagne breakfast that was absolute perfection and beds that seemed to curl around me like a cloud.
Now time for some adventure! If you are willing to wake up early (and I mean before the sun rises) then I highly suggest taking a hot air balloon ride over the valley. It was SUCH a tranquil experience.
The best part about waking up early for the balloon ride was that we had the entire afternoon to stroll through more vineyards. Castello di Amorosa caught our eye because of the Tuscan village exterior. We also stopped at Bale Grist Mill to get a lesson on how the water wheel was used to grind grain into flour “back in the day.” After our long day of exploring we were ready for a lovely dinner where we reminisced on our incredible trip. Napa, we will be back!
Guilt-free baked goods…what could be better? These muffins have more protein than conventional breakfast pastries, less carbs, no gluten and they still have all the flavor! These are my go-to on busy mornings. I don’t enjoy baking if it’s overly complicated so I have narrowed down the recipe to just a few ingredients. I had the recipe memorized after making them just a few times and I can whip them up in less than five minutes. A quick tip to cut down on dishes is to only use “1 cup” and “1 teaspoon” to measure and just eyeball it. I fill up the measuring cup halfway with oil and then top it off with the maple syrup. Easy peasy!
2 cups of almond flour
1-teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of frozen organic blueberries
3 organic eggs
1/2 cup of organic coconut oil (liquid)
1/2 cup of organic maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place paper liners in each cup of the muffin tin.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well. Then, add the blueberries.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup and lemon zest. Mix well.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until combined.
Fill up each paper-lined cup three quarters of the way with the mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes.
You can eat them hot, right out of the oven but they will stick to the paper liner. If you allow them to cool then they will peel away easily. You can also substitute the blueberries with cranberries. Bon Appétit!
Someone pinch me! The Miraval Resort in Tucson, Arizona is remodeling their exclusive gift shop and will now be carrying NEST Jewelry! We already had a tripped planned to Tucson for the gem show so we decided to check it while we were in town. Let’s face it, we were looking for any excuse to spend the day there and call it “work.” When we arrived at Miraval we were greeted with a freshly juiced carrot, apple and ginger drink. Yes, please! Then we are taken to a gorgeous room with a large fireplace to register and sign up for the classes or spa treatments we want to do. The facility is so beautiful we decided to take some time to walk around and soak it in.
The first activity we did was aerial yoga. The studio had beautiful silks flowing down from the ceiling and views of the mountain rage dotted by saguaro cacti. It would be impossible to not feel relaxed there.
Next we went to the dining hall for a delightful lunch. I had vegetable sushi, fresh salmon flown in that morning, and an olive oil cake with berries. Clean eating never tasted so good!
I’ve always wanted to have my own honeybees so I couldn’t wait for our tour at Miraval. Noel is a Master Bee Keeper. He doesn’t call himself a “master” but after three hours of walking, talking and swatting at bees with him, I decided he was a master. We had so much in common we could’ve talked all day.
Noel explained that he does not cut any corners when it comes to the beekeeping. He is a “purist.” We relate to that at NEST because we still do things the artisan way as well. We put on our bee suits while he began to smoke the hives. This is done to calm the bees. We got to sample some of the warm, sticky honey straight from the honeycomb. Delicious!
We have had the best day and it’s not even over yet! Our next activity is cocktails and appetizers with the chef. He whipped us up a fresh apple cider cocktail with honey and paired it with a fresh, seared tuna.
To top off the most fantastic day, we headed to the spa. We enjoyed the whirlpool, hot sauna, steam room and lounging around the outdoor fire pit. If you are ever looking to escape the crazy of everyday life, I highly recommend a stay at the Miraval Resort! Oh and be sure to stop by the gift shop too. 🙂
It’s that time of year again; to put on our sensible shoes, grab our sketchpads and head to the gem show. The entire city of Tucson turns into a wonderland of natural materials. If you can imagine it, they have it. We love walking through tents filled with stones of every kind and in all phases of production. There’s everything from raw chunks of turquoise to freshly cut diamonds. If we find something we just can’t live without then we’ll go ahead and buy it, but really our main goal is to see what materials are available and get some inspiration. Similar to how a “farm to table” chef would walk through the garden to pick out ingredients for a meal, we like to select the raw stones and then see how we can make them new. As you may already know, the material we use is mined from the earth. What you may not know though is how much the same material can vary over different periods of time. For example, Janette may be designing a necklace with large free-form pieces of blue Amazonite but what is currently being mined has more green tones to it. She will either have to rework the design, find a different type of stone altogether, or shelf the idea until they hit the color she is looking for. I will have to admit that Janette stays very focused on the task at hand while I tend to also look for “personal buys.” It’s the interior designer in me. My mind starts thinking about making lamps, tables, accessories…who knows maybe NEST will expand!
Who knew that the hardest part of launching a new jewelry line would be coming up with the name! We started with the obvious, trying to combine Janette Wilkinson and Jana Erwin but we couldn’t come up with anything catchy so we were forced to think outside of the box. We wanted our customer to know instantly that our pieces are natural, worldly and handmade. We wanted an organic feel that still brought that sense of luxury. We wanted something simple yet bold, that’s when it came to us! We travel the world collecting pieces of natural materials bringing them all back to be handcrafted into wearable art just as a bird collects materials and brings them home to build their NEST.
After indulging over the holidays, my body is in need of some clean eating. This Clean Coconut Soup is the best for getting back on track. It has all the necessary flavors of spicy, salty, sour, and bitter to tantalize the taste buds. When anyone in my house is feeling under the weather this is my go-to soup. I swear by it. The best part is that it’s super easy to make and you can modify the ingredients based on what you have in your pantry. Sticking to rules ruins creativity so make it your own!
First, I went and picked some lemongrass from my back patio. If you enjoy Thai food I suggest you plant this in your garden immediately. Or, you can plant it in a pot like I did. Lemongrass is super easy to keep alive for those of you who don’t have a “green thumb” and looks great as a decoration.
Some people dry and eat the leaves. I find them too stringy so I only use the root end.
Then, I quickly pick a lime or two from my lime tree and head inside to start cooking.
I suggest using organic products. They’ll taste better, have more nutrition and you don’t have to worry about contaminates that could be harmful to your body. Also, you don’t need to measure out these ingredients. Getting somewhere close will do the trick!
2-3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 cans of coconut milk, depending on how creamy or broth based you want it (I suggest you don’t get the ‘reduced fat’ because this is a good fat that your body needs and it tastes better!)
1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil – just enough to cook the chicken
1 box of chicken or vegetable stock
Thai red curry paste – 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons (varying for spice)
I white onion – chopped into large 1-inch pieces
1 large tomato – chopped into large 1-inch pieces
1-2 limes depending hour sour you like it
2 garlic cloves, minced- this is essential if you aren’t feeling well
A few slices of freshly peeled ginger root
Thai basil (or regular basil if you can’t find it)- handful, roughly chopped
Kefir lime leaves (or regular lime leaves) – use them like you would a bay leaf, don’t eat them. I like to add 3-4. You should be able to find them in the spice section of your grocery store.
2 tablespoons of fish sauce – this is what gives it a nice salty taste
2 pieces of lemongrass roots – you will not eat this either, just smash it up a bit to release the flavors and throw it in the pot
1 package of baby belle mushrooms – handful, cut in fourths
Cilantro – handful, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 organic chicken bullion cube for more of a rich flavor and yellow color (optional)
Heat coconut oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken and add it to the pot. Stir until cooked thoroughly. Add the minced garlic and stir approximately one minute. Don’t let the garlic burn. Next, add the chicken/vegetable stock and coconut milk. Add all the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
Cook at least 20-30 minutes or until all vegetables are soft. You can serve immediately but the flavor is much better if you allow it to sit overnight and reheat the following day. We have so many flavors here that the longer they combine the better.
It’s hard for me to wait to eat it but I do always like the leftovers the following day much better. Make sure you leave any ingredients that you aren’t going to eat (i.e. Kefir lime leaves, lemongrass) in the pot to continue to flavor the liquid.
Give it a try and let me know how you like it!
Traveling is a necessary part of the design process. When we’re in a new environment our senses are heightened. Shapes, textures and colors get our creative juices flowing and even the light itself seems to have more sparkle. We almost always bring our families along when we travel and the love we experienced in Greece was like no other place we had visited before.
I had a Greek salad every. single. day. The Mediterranean diet is perfection. Everything is fresh and the olive oil flows as freely as the wine. Vendors along the street had local honey and sun-ripened fruit that was offered along with a warm smile.
We stayed in the suite at Athens Gate Hotel overlooking the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
This was the view from the balcony outside my room. Unreal!
Athens is so rich in architecture, music and food.
Even the graffiti is beautiful.
I highly recommend a private walking tour to bring this ancient city to life. I went with Paige Moore, a native “Houstonian” who was living in Athens at the time. As we walked from site to site, she told us the stories of ancient Greek mythology in such detail that you could almost see the scene playing out before you. Paige is now back in Houston and offers consulting on all things Greek at www.mythkafe.com .
And of course, I had to dip my toes into the Aegean Sea.
We often reference the simple yet mystical feel of Greece when we’re creating a new line. It was an experience that we will never forget.
If you are stateside and haven’t seen the news, you may not know that Scotland has recently experienced terrible flooding. It is heartbreaking. I had the privilege of calling Scotland home for two amazing years and during that time I immersed myself in all things Scottish. From the coast to the Highlands, I explored castles, whiskey distilleries, went to the Highland Games, and even attended two Burns suppers (a yearly celebration filled with traditional foods, clothing and literature of Robert Burns). The experience was life changing. Today I want to take you along one of my favorite drives up A-93 from Aberdeen to Ballater, where the Balmoral Castle is located and is still a retreat for The Queen and the Royal Family in the summer months.
The Cambus O’May footbridge built in 1905 is nothing short of breathtaking. The first picture I saw of the destruction caused by the flooding of the Dee River was of this bridge. It was always our first stop on our way out of Aberdeen. After crossing the bridge, we would hop out of the car to explore the majestic forests that stretch alongside the river.
If we were lucky, we’d get to see the legendary highland cow grazing in a pasture along the narrow, winding road. To sound like a local you will need to pronounce it “HEE-LAND COO.”
Once we reached the town of Ballater, it was like stepping back in time. The train station where Queen Victoria would arrive to take a carriage to her castle is still there and a perfect symbol of traditional royalty. The local shops, such as the butcher, baker and candlestick maker, are dotted with signs that show The Queen’s approval. This is considered the highest honor.
After grabbing a cup of tea in this adorable, Victorian-style town we’d head to the main attraction: Balmoral Castle.
On the castle grounds there is a marvelous, expansive garden that supplies all the food served to The Royal Family and the entire staff. They also have chickens, both for their eggs and to help naturally reduce insects that could be harmful to the plants. I love that they take the time to organically and naturally grow, fertilize, and harvest their food. It’s not always the fastest way but it’s the right way and we have always made sure that Nest operates under that same philosophy.
Having had a long day filled with adventures, we were pretty worn out so we decided to unwind at the quaint Darroch Learg Hotel. They have the best “caviar starters” paired with a “wee dram” (a.k.a. a small shot of scotch whiskey). And of course, a dinner that was to die for.
Although the recent floods have been damaging, I am certain once the repairs have been made that A-93 will be as beautiful and charming as ever! Safe travels!
I love the movie ‘The Grinch’ starring Jim Carey. When I say love, I mean I can nearly recite the entire masterpiece by heart. This Christmas season I ask you, using the famous words of Cindy Lou Who, “Is it all a bit superfluous?” Several years ago I found myself up to my elf ears in Christmas cards, shopping lists, cookie exchanges, and completely stressed about buying gifts for my extended family. I decided it was time to let some traditions and expectations retire to a long winter’s nap. I suggested that instead of getting presents for each other, we go on a trip! Everyone was thrilled with the idea and we headed down to Costa Rica for a Christmas getaway that we still talk about today. Now our entire family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and sometimes even the dog) takes a vacation together at least once a year. We still have a lovely Christmas with our immediate families, complete with good food, wine and lots of laughter. We just took the pressures of gift giving off of our shoulders and replaced it with quality time and new adventures. This season I challenge you to think outside the beautifully gift wrapped box and decide for yourself what this holiday means to you. What changes could bring you the most yuletide cheer?
With the holidays right around the corner, I have started to reflect on all the things that I have to be thankful for. My list is long, but at the very top of it is my family. Without family there wouldn’t be a “NEST Jewelry.” Many people don’t know this but my sister, Janette Wilkinson, and I started Nest! I know some of you might think this sounds crazy. Who in their right mind would work with family, right? I know it’s pretty rare but we love it and we’re better as a team than apart. And the family ties don’t stop there. Our niece is the production manager and head of PR and our office manager is a childhood friend! All our board members are relatives and even the pretty blonde you see modeling for us from time to time is family. That’s why when you wear NEST you can feel the love. From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!
Unless you are an avid gardener and overall lover of food like me, you may not realize that now is the season of citrus. The limbs of my fruit trees are drooping from the weight of all the gorgeous mandarins, limes and lemons. We should all take full advantage of this “sweet” time of year with one of my favorite drink recipes. There’s no better way to enjoy the fruits of your labor!
3 oz. pure 100% agave tequila – I prefer Patron
1 Fresh squeezed organic lime juice to taste
½ Fresh squeezed organic mandarin juice to taste
½ oz. Cointreau Orange liqueur
Put it all in shaker with ice and shake vigorously, then strain into a glass with fresh ice and garnish with a citrus slice of your choice. It will look as good as it tastes.
We want to share our excitement over this liquid heaven with you! Now through November enjoy 10% off your entire order on our website. Coupon code: CITRUS .
Horn has been a NEST best seller since 2006 and this season has us seeing spots! Our Spotted Horn collection is just the right twist on our timeless classic. The skilled artisans of NEST use the otherwise wasted material to mold beautiful earrings, pendants, and bracelets for your everyday wear. Repurposing organic matter to give it new life is the foundation of all that we do. We love keeping this centuries-old practice alive while keeping you on trend! Get SPOTTED wearing your NEST.