Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New recipe! Pasta Brie

Normally I don't do much experimenting in the kitchen; I find a recipe and stick with it.  But the other night I was so hungry and I knew I wanted Brie and pasta.  So I looked up a few recipes that included both, quickly skimmed them and then went crazy.  The result...... SO DELICIOUS!

Pasta Brie

some pasta
olive oil
garlic, minced
onion, diced
tomatoes, diced
brie, cubed with rine removed
salt and pepper
basil and rosemary

While pasta is cooking, sauté garlic and onions in oil for as long as you like. Season diced tomatoes with salt and pepper then add to garlic and onions.  Season with basil and rosemary...or whatever else you might like.  When pasta is almost finished, add Brie and let melt into sauce.  Drain pasta and stir in with sauce.....devour! 

Monday, June 28, 2010

24th Birthday!

Today is my 24th birthday!  And I think its time to give a little love to 24 things I am thankful for during the past year.

1. FAMILY!  There is definitely no-way, no-how, in-any-way-shape-or-form that I would be where I am today without my family! They are supportive, creative, motivating, generous, humorous, crazy, unconventional and most important loving.
2.  Cindy Aplanalp and Amber Reddoch! The two women I work side-by-side with every day.  They are family (see description of my family above) but they are also the reason why I am in Texas..... with the most amazing job in the world!
3.  The Internet!  Oh! how my world would be so different without the computer!  I do everything on the computer but what I am really thankful for is the ability to keep in touch and feel closer to home through blogs, facebook, pictures and email!
4.  Air-conditioning! 'Haha!' You might be laughing but when it is 100 degrees out with 99% humidity, you quickly learn to be grateful for that cold, refreshing, make-my-hairs-stand-straight-up blast of air!
5.  Having an excuse to act like a kid again!  Living with an 18 month old makes all immature behavior excusable; I can walk around Target and loudly growl while making claws with my hands and no one will think little of long as Brenner is around!
6.  Friends!  Moving across the country definitely makes keeping up with old friends really difficult; you quickly learn who really cares about you and is willing to go the extra mile to send a smile your way.  I am so thankful to those old friends.  I am also incredibly thankful to my new ones; they have helped me create my home here in Texas.
7.  Fashion!  Yes I love fashion.  But here, what I am thankful for is how I have an awesome job because of it.  Interior design is dictated fashion and in a sense is a fashion beast of its own.  It makes the things I do interesting, ever-evolving, innovative and artistic.
8.  Learning to say 'yes!'  This used to be so hard for me to do; I would make up excuses to not do something.  Now, I can't say 'no!'  and because of this I have met so many wonderful people and done some pretty crazy things.
9.  Refusing to let myself get embarrassed!  Being able to laugh at myself and all of the not-so-smart things I may do and all of the things I can't control has made life so much more enjoyable.
10.  Not having any debt! This needs no explanation! Its a really really good thing!
11.  Nice roads!  Poor Winston was taking quite a beating up in Michigan with potholes larger than him.  Now, there are two 'bumps' I avoid while driving to and from work.....two!
12.  Travel!  I can't get rid of it! Once bitten by that travel bug, I'm sick with the desire to travel for life!  I can't wait until my next adventure!  The world is so eye-opening and I want to soak it all in!
13. Being totally comfortable sleeping in strange places!  Yes, my bed might be oh-so comfortable but I can sleep just about anywhere now which really comes in handy.  Once I woke up on the couch with my face looking up directly into the lamp...that was on!
14.  Learning to trust my intuition! I really do know things!  But sometimes I have to remind myself....yes Erika, you are right :)
15.  Health! I am really lucky to be happy and healthy!  
16.  High heels!  I love wearing heels now! and the louder the better!  I feel confident, sexy, tall, and pretty much a badass when wearing heels!
17.  People who like ribbon mobiles!  I've sold 18 ribbon mobiles!  I am really excited about that!  And 5 of them were within the last month!
18. Movies.  I love movies.  More importantly, I love quoting movies.
19. Laughter. If you know anything about me, you know how much I laugh!
20. Random blasts from the past.  I love randomly hearing from people that I haven't seen or spoken to in a while.  Living so far away, its hard to keep in touch.  But a little 'hello' here and there is always so nice!
21. Chocolate.  mmmmmmmmm. I just ate a Butterfinger!
22. Color.  Color can do so much, make you feel happy, sad, calm, powerful, angry, youthful, etc.  I will never have a favorite color because there are so many beautiful ones to choose from!
23. Design.  Just when I think that nothing new can be designed...nope, something really freakin cool comes out!  Design pushes me to be more creative, innovative, smarter!  I love that challenge!
24.  See number 1!  I am really thankful for all of you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Its official! I'm a Texan!

Here it is!!! My Texas driver's license finally came in the mail!  Not a moment too soon either! I wasn't sure how long my paper license was going to last in my purse!
So its official!  I have Texas license plates, a Texas address, and a Texas driver's license!  Not sure how its going to get much more Texan than that!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Birthday Party!

Today is my birthday party!!!!

Where: Whiskey River  Houston, TX

When: 5pm to close!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Craft...HEADBANDS!

While traveling last summer, I came across these adorable headbands in London.  I knew I could make only took a year!  The headbands are made by attaching a beaded appliqué to a headband- pretty simple.  So I went on the internet, found an awesome source and before I knew it, I had $30 worth of appliqués heading my way.
What I didn't realize is that they were coming via Hong Kong!  
The website had an incredible assortment of items and it was so hard to choose just a few to buy.  Here are a few that I've made!

Here is me sporting one at the Firehouse Saloon!  I am going to be posting them on my Etsy store soon! And of course I would be interested in making some custom designs!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Firehouse Saloon

Last Saturday night, quite a few of us went to Cindy's favorite bar...the Firehouse Saloon.  This place has an amazing country character with regular live music, a beat-up dance floor and of course an awesome bar.  Saturday night was SRL Summerfest night featuring the Band of Heathens.  The band is comprised of 5 incredibly talented guys who used to be independent performers and decided to become a band.  
It was also one last time to say 'goodbye' to our intern Kaitlyn who left on Sunday to head back home.  We had so much fun with her during her 6 week internship and can't wait until she comes back to visit.
With some amazing women you've probably seen before, Sarah and Larissa.  I have been so fortunate to meet wonderful people and make great friends who are loving life for all of its quirks.
I don't really have a good explanation for this one!
Myself with Larissa, Gordy- a member of Band of Heathens who played football for Scott, Scott and Cindy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Professional Photo Shoot

Last week we had one of our projects professionally photographed...and it was SO beautiful!  We spent the entire day preparing the home then working with the photographer with every shot.  Here is a sneak peak of the space.  Note these are my photos, not the photographers-- his are like a billion times better!

Fresh flowers make a world of difference in the pictures- here's Cindy working on some arrangements.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Spotted in the Houston Chronicle

Last Friday, the By Design Ladies were spotted in the Houston Chronicle at the AIA Sandcastle Event!  We were so enthusiastic with our mustaches, cowbells, bandannas, water guns and 'yee-hahs' that our photo was one of the ones featured on the full page spread about the event!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day!!

Happy Fathers Day!!!

I just wanted to take a moment and say Happy Fathers Day to my amazing dad and tell you a few reasons why I love him so much!

*Not many people may laugh at his jokes-- but I do :)
*He is always thinking of others-- ALWAYS!
*His cooking is incredibly delicious even if a recipe can never again be duplicated
*He is incredibly supportive of everyone in his life
*He's a kid at heart! Get that train station out!!!!
*He taught me how to play Frisbee like a champ!
*His homemade beer is quite delicious!
*I'm not saying this because I've listened to him my entire life, but my dad has a "^#@!ing beautiful voice!" (Dad- remember Bugsy saying that to you at the wedding!)
*He taught me how to fly :)
*He is always the most enthusiastic fan in the stand!

LOVE YOU DAD! Hope you have a fantastic Father's Day-- wish I could be there to celebrate with you!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

6 months!

As many of you know, I made an New Year's resolution for myself to not buy any item of clothing, shoes or accessories for 6 months! It was no easy thing for me to do; I LOVE shopping!  I LOVE fashion! and I LOVE looking for great deals!  

So as July 1st is inching closer and closer, I think I need to take sometime to reflect on the past six months and see how this goal has changed the way I dress, shop, spend money, and value the things that I have.

Here are some of E's revelations:  

*Out of sight-out of mind! 
I found myself avoiding shopping altogether in order to not find something I "couldn't live without."  If I wasn't around retail stores, I wasn't thinking about buying things.

*Cold turkey is pretty tough
I knew cutting spending on all non-necessities would be impossible; we all have vices and things we enjoy.  So I allowed myself to spend a little money on a few things:
1.  A trip to Washington DC to visit my best friend.  Although I did spend the money on the plane ticket and food, I also saved money by staying with friends and avoiding clothing shops.
2.  Adorable measuring cups from my favorite store Anthropologie.  They were on clearance and I knew I would never find anything like them again-- they were, afterall, Russian Stacking dolls!
3.  Crafting items.  This is one area I might have cheated a little on- I can't go long without wanting to make something.  I did drastically limit the amount of craft items I bought and am now listing the items I made my Etsy store or giving them as gifts.
4.  Going out.  While I am lucky to be a girl- which saved me a lot of money- I do enjoy a delicious meal and going out and did splurge a few times.

*I have a lot of great things!
I knew I had a lot of great clothes before I began this goal, several items being quite old.  A classic item will always be classic-- hold on to your classic items!  Splurge on something you know you will wear a lot- make sure it will last forever.

*Figuring out the things I really need
Not being able to buy anything for 6 months, I was able to evaluate what I had and what I could really use.  I created a list of items I found myself constantly wishing I had.  And it was surprisingly short!  

1. A red cardigan was something that I was constantly wishing I had in my wardrobe.  
2. Sunglasses, 
3. belts (brown and black), 
4. a watch, 
5. cowgirl boots
6. Gladiator sandles
7.  a nice nude bra round off the list.   

I told you it was short! This made me really use the things I have and appreciate how great they are.  I don't need new things to look and feel great! 

*Get Creative
I became more and more creative with my outfits; I began to combine interesting colors, added unique accessories, and wore things confidently that before I wasn't so sure about.

*Make sure your clothes fit
We tend to avoid wearing things that don't fit us just right and I have a hard time finding clothes that fit me well.  Making sure that my clothes fit well by having them tailored made me so much more comfortable wearing nicer clothes.  And..... I wear them a whole lot more now.  

*Hold on to the things you love
My boss, Cindy and I have had several discussions about my goal throughout the last 6 months and she has told me on multiple occasions about items of clothing she donated that she is now kicking herself over.  "Erika! I had this great, expensive leather jacket that some girl in Soho has found in a vintage shop and now is looking fabulous in!" Moral of the story, hang on to those things you love-- they'll be back in style!

Now this whole experience was also to help me save money.  As I have reviewed my finances, I realize that I can't revert back to buying; its just not in the bank at the moment. So I have decided to use my birthday to get the things I really need...and maybe a few things that I really want, then continue my goal through the end of the year!  Another 6 months to evaluate, save, get creative, focus on other things!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Materials Marketing Introduction

On Thursday evening, By Design Interiors was invited to Materials Marketing- a tile and stone vendor- to view a new line they are introducing called New Ravenna.  It is a BEAUTIFUL line of custom stone and glass mosaics! I was in heaven!  I really have a thing for tile and could have spent all night there if possible!
The fabricators are located in Virginia and create custom floor and wall designs by hand!  They can work off of detailed technical drawings or simply off of photographs!
Yes!! These are glass mosaics!  There are about 30 shades of glass and anything can be done! I mean it......
ANYTHING!!!  This is actually a different line of glass products, Sicis, which I have been head-over-heals in love with for several years now!
This is Lynn from Materials Marketing; I have been in email contact with Lynn for about 3 months now and finally had the privilege to meet her!  She is incredibly knowledgeable and gave me the grand tour of the showroom as well as showed me some amazing projects she has worked on.  

One of the rules we Cindy, Amber and I live by is "ask the experts."  They really know their stuff and can drastically reduce your design and sourcing time because-- they know things! 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Merilee Salsa

I haven't been doing a really good job of finding new recipes lately, but Adrienne and Greg love to help me out!  They recently found a recipe for homemade salsa and all three of us had a blast blending it up and taste testing!  

Homemade Salsa

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Don't get overwhelmed..... its pretty easy!  In a food processor, combine all ingredients; cover and process until chunky. Transfer to a small bowl.

It is advised to wear gloves while seeding the peppers!  We didn't take any chances.  We jarred ours up and have been enjoying week!
Photo op :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Photo Ops!

As July is coming upon us, so is award season for builders, remodelers and interior designs in the Houston area.  We are working around the clock to prepare our best projects for professional photo shoots to enter in the Houston's Best and Texas Star Awards.

Today, one of my favorite projects is going to be professionally photographed and we spent some time last week preparing it.  The client went from a very traditional space to a very contemporary one selecting items that we all would love to have in our own homes.
Because I had become used to climbing ladders throughout the past 10 years, I was voted to be the bookshelf decorator!  It was not an easy task and I was thankful for the plush couch directly below me!
Cindy had suggested to the client to turn her books so that the paper was facing out so that they would look more uniform.  I spent over 2 hours rearranging the books and making sure they all lined up!  Its all in the details!
Almost finished!  Note the box on the very top shelf-- I have decided that its never coming down!  Today the amazing artwork was hung and really pulled everything together!
I just had to post this picture!  While the room isn't quite finished yet, it is so beautiful and gets lovelier and more gorgeous with every thing that is added to it.  I can't wait to add more photos!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cabana House Project

So I've been down here in Texas working for almost 6 months now....and I haven't shown much of my work! Well, that's because none of it is finished yet.  BUT! I do have several projects that are done enough for you to appreciate!  

My boss, Cindy has been working on this project for almost 2 years now and the part I have been helping on is the Cabana House-- the small pool house for guests.  It is darling and I was able to design the kitchen and bathroom layout as well as the tile and cabinetry designs!  


Doesn't look like much, does it? But most projects make their way onto AutoCAD and are flat 2-dimensional drawings that are worked, reworked and reworked until perfect. Elevations and....

floor plans are sent to builders, tile setters, cabinet makers, and anyone else who is going to be involved in the entire process.  And...
Wa-lah!  Slowly, piece by piece is installed until the space starts to look like what its supposed to! 
Cabana House Kitchen
Cabana House bathroom vanity!
Detail of the Cabana house kitchen back splash!

I can't express how excited I have been during the project! It was my first real bite of my real-life job and watching it come together....and look great..... has been incredibly confidence boosting!  

I will definitely keep you posted!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mia Bella

For Mother's Day, Adrienne and I waited until our mom was in town in order to have a girl's day out!  We had our feet done at a beautiful salon and then enjoyed an incredibly delicious meal at a restaurant called "Mia Bella."
Mia Bella is located in Vintage Park, a new shopping center just down the street from us.  While there aren't many shops open just yet, there are several restaurants and a cupcake parlor!
The interior was very creatively decorated with inspiration was gathered from Italy.  The warm hues of reds and golds made the space feel warm and cozy despited the high ceilings and large windows.  Hundreds of wine bottles- all different- lined the picture rail while flowing fabric draped across the ceiling.
Artwork, wall decor, floral arrangements, the bottles of wine and of course deliciously savory food all contributed to an authentic Italian experience.  

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


While I might have missed "celebrity look alike month" on facebook, I am celebrating it on my own right now.  "Hey Arnold" was a  show Travis and I watched growing up and although I never dreamed of looking like Helga, our paths have now passed.  I really don't have any more words.....  

Monday, June 7, 2010

Amy Butler Everywhere

Many of you may know that Amy Butler is like my all-time favorite fabric designer!! I have been in love with her fabrics for years now and have quite the stash in my craft supplies!  Her designs are so fresh and vibrant, a modern spin on traditional florals and patterns.  

White her purses, bags, quilts and pillows have been around for awhile....Amy has begun to introduce so much more into her collections.  My new favorite Amy Butler items....
AREA RUGS!!!! Aren't they amazing!

and Bedding!