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Monday, March 31, 2014

Designing Women

I am a girls' girl. Not that don't adore many great men, but do treasure inspiration from female forces. I'm fortunate to count truly accomplished women as close friends, and to draw from their strength daily. Whether that's from inventive PR guru Susan Andrews Thompson that I never go a week without consulting... or my sister, an amazing mom to my 3 favorite girls... I'm blessed with strong, supportive women in my life.

Possibly the best comical example of women supporting each other, ever. 

Last week I was lucky enough to be reminded of this in very different ways....

After leaving a little pre-anniversary gathering at Private Edition prior to a month of 33rd anniversary events, my mind was on the women behind it and how much I've gained from them over time. Imagine the drive and insight to bring luxury beauty brands to Tennessee 3 decades ago. The courage not only to do this, but to build and expand to include global product lines, other retail concepts and online business is mind blowing. The devoted team of ladies (surprisingly small) only become more savvy with time. 

Inside the trendsetting store and spa in Graces Plaza, Green Hills. 

 I also connected with a creative, spunky and (self-labeled) 'no-filter' jewelry designer from the Northeast crafting accessories in Middle Tennessee. The line is unlike anything else on the market: Elegant yet casual pieces involving vintage crystals, leathers and metal elements are all unique. She's a tiny thing, but the creations have big personality. Meeting her and hearing about her passion for the craft was my good fortune.  If you haven't met Sue Surdi or seen her work, get acquainted. The energy and beauty in both the person and the finished product is breathtaking.

These vintage crystal earrings by Sue Surdi and RM Designs outshine everything else
 on my dressing table. Browse and purchase the collection online, or at Levy's in Nashville.
Katie Jacobs was a young graphic designer I hired six years ago who worked up to be the magazine creative director --continually honing her skills and expanding abilities. Since retiring from corporate life (she followed suit soon after), I've seen her flourish online in freelance as well as on Styling My EveryDay. Last week I retained her for a client on a complex and diverse project styling/shooting multiple locales and concepts. Without pesky barriers of corporate red tape, she's even better. She's on-trend but timeless in her style while possessing a rare combination of no-nonsense work ethic and impeccable taste. It's fun to watch her spread her wings, putting varied skills to use in different ways. Katie's blog makes me want to be a better hostess, gift-giver and photographer. Our just executed project has me excited for the next one. And that's what being inspired is all about, really.

One of my favorite posts via Styling My EveryDay - creating a French-themed cocktail party.
You might also want to check out her amazing Pie Party for Style BluePrint.
While last week was especially relative to the topic, this one's starting out with promise of more. My first priority today is catching up with Marsha Middleton before leaving Atlanta. She's being touted for inclusion of a select 40 women for Best Self Atlanta Magazine. I'm not surprised, as she founded/operates M-Squared PR, one of the most respected boutique PR firms in the Southeast. Marsha is lovely, stylish, handles clients while raising two children and hosts wow-factor dinner parties without skipping a beat. She's also a blast. Over the last 12+ years of friendship and business, some of my most memorable girls' nights have been with her. I'm certain that a visit will continue this stream/feeling of girl-power goodness. 

Hopefully, you're lucky enough to have designing minds in your own life. It makes everything much more interesting and worthwhile..

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Fever: Nashville

To say I've been on 'blog break' is an understatement. I haven't posted  since early February, and don't regret a second of taking a moment (well... 2 months) off. Traveling and meeting some of the most interesting and talented people in the country has been an adventure. 

One of many trip highlights.. presentation and color plating crash course at Gramercy Tavern NYC
 I have lots more coming up (am way behind on highlights from recent excursions) and more to learn. I am on a bit of a mission in that respect. But right now, I'm relishing being in MY CITY. I've missed every familiar face and place. It's good to be home.

Got home just in time to see the first of my bulbs blooming. Spring flowers are such a welcome sight

I have several somewhat 'grounded' weeks, and plan to embrace each day. There are friends to catch up with, volunteering to do, flowers to plant, parties to host and restaurants to try. Most importantly, it's the season for some of the city's most fun, stylish and worthwhile happenings. These are the things at the top of my list (and suggestions on what you should consider if you're in Nashville, too):


My friends behind the trendsetting Private Edition are celebrating their 33rd anniversary next week (wow!). For those shopping the anniversary sale, a gift bag with unbelievable value awaits. I stock up on essentials every year to get the bag... SO worth it. What I'm most looking forward to this year are Oribe, Sisley and Laura Mercier products slated for the stash. Check their site for specifics and schedule. I might just go every day. It's that good. Founder Linda Roberts is brilliant, and even the most exclusive brands line up to support she and her team to celebrate = endless perks and freebies for shoppers. 

Just one of the little bags of goodies inside the BIG gift to celebrate 33 years of Private Edition.

Most people think of Maxwell Aesthetics only as an authority on reconstructive surgery, but I like it for different reasons. I popped in for Coobie cotton bra/tanks in spring hues and patterns (under $20 --and all I wear) and snapped up DNA/Do Not Age serum by Dr. Brandt. I was skeptical (even after reading rave reviews) until trying it. Worth.Every.Cent. -- and not really expensive. Convenient location and easy parking for a quick in and out make this a super efficient stop to sample innovative essentials.

Read more about DNA via Stephanie Maxwell in Taigan's Fetch magazine 


There are dozens of great shows coming up, but my fave is Tin Pan South. So many amazing songwriters performing in intimate venues at one time is rare and special. Choosing who to see is tough, but I'm looking forward to the Peach Pickers at 3rd & Lindsley, Nicolle Gaylon at BB Kings, and of course our own group of This Music  writers at BlueBird Cafe. All access passes for the week are sold out, but there are cash-at-the-door options on a limited basis (arrive early).

Nothing better than songwriters having a little fun at The Bluebird Cafe and Tin Pan South


Kevin Carter is hosting his annual Waiting for Wishes event at the Nashville Palm along with Jay Demarcus on 4/15. I've been on the steering committee for 13 years, and it only get's better. If you can't score seats to the dinner, don't miss the star power at this year's After PartyThe music involves top-tier artists and there's really not a better cause to support.

Waiting for Wishes is always a celebrity-packed, fun evening with incredible music at the After Party. 

Cause for Paws fashion show featuring Jamie is always lovely, so that's a seat to reserve. Hugh Howser is chairing the Steeplechase LookBook Fashion Show. No matter what else is on the books, I won't miss it. With Hugh in charge, I know it will be spectacular. Ditto for the talented Martha Nemer as she showcases her work with Art on the West Side on 3/29-30. If you're looking for a treasure for your home, this is where to find it. 
One of Martha Nemer's paintings for the upcoming Art on the West Side benefit show

There are countless reasons to be curious about Nashville Fashion Week: parties, sales.. and the excitement of runway shows. The schedule is impressive and there's so much to choose from. It's such a positive opportunity for the creative personalities involved and the entire city and it starts in just a few days.

Steeplechase Lookbook Fashion Show is just one of the amazing fashion events coming up.

The last (but not least) thing on my list is relishing quality time with friends outdoors. My favorite spot is my own patio, but I also love alfresco cocktails and conversation at Saint Anejo and Virago as well as Park Cafe Rumours or Table 3. I'm also excited to find some new haunts.

The Rumours Wine Bar patio is a hidden gem in the back of the Icon/The Gulch.
So perfect for wasting an afternoon.....
Hope to see you out and about supporting and soaking up all of this local fun...  

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nashville's New & Notable Dining Options

Over the last couple of weeks, I've taken a hiatus from well, everything. I traveled to Los Angeles with my husband for Grammy celebrations and ended up extending my trip to soak up the sunny inspiration a bit longer... in total, 2 weeks. I've always loved the West Hollywood neighborhood (WeHo to residents), and was perfectly content except aside from missing Mr. Nichols. He headed back to Nashville for work with the rest of Music Row post-awards. There's much to share about my experiences including a guide for top places to shop, savor, sip and spoil yourself. Watch for posts in the next few days.

MOTO's  martini selection - with inclusions like blood oranges or limoncello are top choices.
For now, I'm focusing on the highlights of returning back to my favorite city in the world. Seeing my best guy and our house was something to look forward to, but as wheels touched down in pouring, freezing rain at BNA, part of me yearned to go right back. That desire quickly vanished as we immediately headed to MStreet's new rustic/Italian/chic/fab MOTO.

MOTO's Black spaghetti with lobster and chilies. In a word.. WOW! 

Because I stuck to vegan practices while away (and haven't really eaten meat/dairy in months: click for WHY), I wasn't as excited about the food as to see the finished space. It was as I expected, completely intoxicating. Brick walls, an open kitchen and well-appointed bar with unique tile top and amazing lighting/fixtures were details I noticed first. 

Fresh broccoli Rabe on one of the specialty wood oven-fired pizzas at MOTO

Once the menu arrived, I knew we might have a new go-to. Tim's a huge fan of pasta and all things pizza... so he was in heaven. I was equally happy with cleverly crafted options like a gorgeous raw winter vegetable salad, Cobia dish and selection of creative cocktails. We liked it so much that we went again the following night to taste what we couldn't sample at one sitting. From meatballs to slow-roasted squash I could eat at every meal, we agreed we would return -- and often.

The Cobia at Moto is served with Meyer lemon, herb salad and lentils. Healthy but so indulgent.
What makes me happiest is that another locally owned restaurant is taking all tastes and eating styles into consideration. I fell just as hard (still swooning) for Josephine on 12th when they opened a few weeks ago. I visited 3 times within 5 days to start. Yep, it's that good.

The scallops at Josephine are my obsession. Perfect in every way.
With so many beautifully prepared vegetable items and herb-infused cocktails, being fully satisfied while sticking to my eating practices is easy. Carnivores at my table raved about the burger, steak and the fried oyster sandwich each time, but I never felt left out. Josephine is the kind of place you want to 'cozy up' and drink wine all day (paired with gourmet fare, of course). You can actually do just that with their weekend brunch offerings. I'm so excited about what the spring menu will include!

This lunch sandwich of fried oysters, bacon and other tasty items is a daily pick at Josephine on 12th.
I was growing weary of similar menu items no matter how talented the chef (or great the flavor) involving restaurant openings over the last year or so. It seemed every new restaurant featured more of the same (how many fried green tomatoes can one town eat?). A bit of variety is a delightful change. I cannot wait to see what's next.

 This Josephine salad can be modified for me...hold the bacon and dressing - it's still so scrumptious! 

Do share your thoughts/opinion on dining out in Music City -- and details on the best dish you've enjoyed and where. Would love your feedback! 

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Small Screen Sensation

It's hard to believe that there is so much attention focused on Nashville via television/cable networks lately. You can't turn on the Food Network without seeing local chefs on screen (ditto with designers on HGTV). Thankfully, CMT and GAC  always support the city via the music scene, but the span has gotten so much wider. It sky-rocketed with ABC's launch of the night-time drama, Nashvilleand there's much anticipation (and a little nail-biting) over TNT's upcoming Private Lives of Nashville WivesThe one that might just be the most fun is actually this week's A&E's premier of Crazy Hearts. For many reasons, insiders applaud the concept. I'm typically skeptical (with any reality show), but instantly supportive due to the inclusion of the always sensational Heather Byrd.

I first met Heather when she was spinning press at Metro Mix/The Tennessean... and got to know her better when she was named one of Nashville Lifestyles' 25 Most Beautiful People. She's all that and a bag of chips.. lovely inside and out. Her presence on the show is a huge positive in my opinion. She's got a distinct style, genuine personality and a fearless yet vulnerable attitude that viewers will find addictive.

HB with two other Nashville sweethearts.... 
I can't seem to keep up with any program no matter how great. My interest isn't show promotion, but sharing a bit of personal info about the ONE to watch so you can embrace her offscreen as well as on. 


Biggest Style Influence: My mother (my style was born in her dance studio ballroom.. all those feathers..).

Personal Style Summed Up: Dangerous Shoes.

Favorite Outfit on Camera: On CMA red carpet in a BCBG block dress interviewing Taylor Swift and Kenny Rogers. (hope it looks as good on air!). This brand is a go-to source.

Best Accessories: Are from my stylish sister's boutique Johnnie Q in Franklin, TN (watch for items with that block dress on an upcoming episode).

Lack of Style in Nashville: None. You can find everything, just know where to look.. and don't complain about no shopping. It's not true (ps: that kind of statement is my pet peeve).

Life Changing Career Moment: The first day of filming Crazy Hearts. A new beginning!

Music Industry Trend Highlights: The genre jumping. So much freedom for expression for artists and fans of every taste.

Ideal Day Off: With loved ones.. somewhere warm with clear, blue water on a sailboat.

Dream Splurge: A fast car. Maybe a Maybach or Audi R8.... I have a need for speed.

2014 Vacay Plans: More travel; a trip to Paris is already on the books. Venice, too.

Life Details: View it all on my new website,; check it out and give me some feedback.

HB with the cast promoting the first season.
Don't be surprised if this local gal ends up on the big screen, as there's a star power in her spirit that's just now going to be on display for the world. With her originality and creative talents, it's only a matter of time. I can't wait to see what happen's next with this 'crazy heart'...  and to hear your opinion.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Nashville Favorites/January

Usually, I am not around much in January. Freezing temps send me to the warmest locale possible. With my husband's foot surgery and loose ends for publication deadlines, I've been in town/at home... actually enjoying every moment. Even the coldest days weren't terrible. I spent them experimenting in my kitchen and bar (top turnouts posted soon). One of the biggest joys was playing with items from Stephanie Stewart's A Chef's Table cookbook. The photos by Ron Manville and recipes from local culinary gurus were inspiration to create my own striking plates.

Find this collection of area chef recipes at your favorite bookstore. 

I finally caught up with other happenings in town (bonus!). Nashville is booming.. so fast that it's hard to keep up at times. I've done a quick roundup of items on my radar over the last couple of weeks (this is only part 1) that I couldn't wait to share.

My friend, Melissa of Parlour 3 bought a tour bus, gutted and converted it to the ultimate glam vehicle. That's right- - a beauty bus on the road.. and it's fantastic. As a professional hair/makeup artist to top celebs, she knows the struggles of 'on location' work. Now, shooting remote videos won't require difficult set ups.. and bridal parties can be completely groomed in a church parking lot. It will be a blast for women's showers or parties. The possibilities are endless. Look for lots of media buzz on this, as it's the first of it's kind.. genius and gorgeous!

The only bus I cannot wait to be on. 
As for the food scene, be prepared to be  riddled with temptation from all of the new openings. 12 South is exploding with promise as the charming Josephine fills up nightly while the same owners work to open Prima in the ground floor of The Gulch's Terrazzo. Look for a dedicated post on Josephine experience this week. Just as they are wowing patrons, Espice is also finalizing plans to open doors nearby. Talk about a cool place to be for walking nightlife! I also love the new tacos added to the menu at recently opened Saint Anejo. Spicing things up has never tasted better.

No need to blow a diet at Josephine.. the clean-eating vegetables are better than any burger. 
 Nashville Originals' restaurant week (1/20-26) includes incredible multi-course meals at sensational savings. Reservations are filling up fast at member locations so be sure to make some.
Step inside Emerson Grace for a total fashion fix.. and don't miss stopping at the fab Cadeau Home next door. 

On the shopping front, clearance sales are still in play, but there's also an abundant choice of new merchandise. Fun new stores like Blue Bohemian sport reasonably priced lines like Judith March. At Emerson Grace fashion fans are digging the coolest vibe in a unisex clothing and accessory boutique to hit the city yet. While browsing the coffee table book selection Absolution, I found a line that speaks to the heart..The Giving Keys. Not only are the pieces casually chic - the company exists to employ persons transitioning out of homeless situations and supports international charities. There's one catch; you have to give it away at some point to really pay it forward. Now that's a product that I can feel good about buying... 

Each Giving Key piece has a positive message engraved on the surface. Stylish + sentimental = love!

Do share your top picks for January and enjoy exploring all that Music City has to offer this season! 

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Southern Fashion House

There are people with great ideas and talent, and those who actually put them in motion. One woman I admire for doing this is Stephanie Carter, founder/owner/driver of award-winning Southern Fashion House. You might be familiar with lines she creates for brands like Judith March on display (at upscale boutiques like Posh and Stacey Rhodes in the Nashville area), or DejaVu in Seaside, Florida. What you likely haven't seen yet is the new collaboration with Stephanie's latest partner, Missy Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. In less than a week over 350,000 Facebook fans have jumped on board as fans...I'm thinking it's going to be huge.

Missy Robertson and Stephanie Carter working out line specifics.
Missy and Stephanie immediately hit it off (as confident Southern women often do), and have been furiously working on a line of clothing that fits not only a modern lifestyle, but reflects values and culture with strong Southern roots. 

The reason for the Duck Dynasty lovely's interest clearly isn't financial, but based on her desire to offer women with lifestyles similar to hers (busy working wives/mothers/ friends) a solid option  for a wardrobe that's functional, stylish but conservative. So, she sought out a designer that could understand her vision and the line was born. Missy says: "Stephanie gets my whole concept of the clean lines but is very detail oriented. She knows what my desires are for this line for cut, fit and modesty. Then, I rely on her for the fashion and design part. I think it is a very good collaboration.”

Stephanie's favorite dress from the spring collection of Shop Missy Robertson. 

Because this is such a big venture for Stephanie and her team at Southern Fashion House, I just had to ask a few questions on the experience thus far and what shoppers can expect from the line as well as her overall thoughts on fashion design and top considerations:

Top style icon:
Sophia Loren

Influence for looking great and new designs: 

I'm launching a line that reflects my mantra for dressing how you feel each day.  Even if you feel casual, you can still look great by pairing a bohemian skirt and boots with a striking necklace made from a vintage broach.

On social media:
It gives us instant feedback that we can take back to the design drawing room!

Favorite item in Missy's line:

The red wrap dress with ruffle collar is such a versatile piece - striking yet demure at the same time.

Most impactful item in any woman's closet:
That go to dress she feels great in; the one that you can dress up or down, that is timeless and classy with excellent fit and garment construction (which is everything!).  

Other passions:
Home decor and design. I love Tracery Interiors , antique stores off the beaten path and turning a vintage piece into something gorgeous. A home line for Southern Fashion House could be on the horizon...

To wind down/relax:
Walking with my son on the beach or heading to the family farm in my Alabama hometown to shoot and hunt.  Listening to music at The Red Bar with friends or enjoying dinner at George's near Rosemary Beach.

Stylish at home and at work: Traditional Home magazine featured Stephanie in the September 2013 issue.
Currently, Stephanie is looking forward to meeting with retailers at wholesale markets to choose the right outlets for the new line. Modesty with a casually stylish flair will be wildly popular, but they plan to select partners that make sense for the demographic.  Missy couldn't be more excited: "There was a void in the market for active, busy working moms who want to look put together without having to put a lot of effort into it (while staying modest and age-appropriate). The silhouettes in the collection are intended to flatter women of all ages, shapes, and sizes."  It sounds like this duo has only good things ahead. 

Always an original.. from clothing to environment. 

Check out Southern Fashion House online, and do offer your comments on your favorites from all of her distinct lines here. You will be amazed at how diverse and approachable this 30-A living, Alabama-born design-loving woman's pieces are.. and just how much she's accomplished in the fashion world. Kudos to you, Stephanie... I'll see you at the beach! 


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