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Sunday
Mar022014

Only 262 Miles to Buc-ee's!

A road trip through Texas would not be a road trip without family, friends and a stop at Buc-ees.  If you live in Texas, most of you have discovered this “Bathroom Beacon” on your destination drives.  After stopping and re-fueling both the car and our bellies, we got a little curious about the history of Buc-ees, so for you history buffs:          

Arch “Beaver” Aplin is a Texas entrepreneur and Texas A&M graduate who founded Buc-ee’s.  Alpin and his business partner, Don Wasek, opened their first store in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1982 with a focus on cheap ice cream and clean bathrooms.  It was so successful, they decided to expand, and now have 27 locations around the state.  

If you just stop to get gas and use the potty and leave, you have not EXPERIENCED Buc-ees, so let me give you a few ways to spend your time and money at this Texas phenomenon, to help you to enjoy the whole Buc-ees experience.

Check out the “Historical” marker on your way to the bathroom.  Only in Texas!

Fudge, fudge and more fudge – over a DOZEN kinds!  All made In- House!

In-House Roasted Nuts!  Peanuts, almonds, but the BEST are the roasted cashews!

 Fresh barbeque sandwiches, smoked and sliced right in front of you! The sandwich buns are soft and moist and the chopped beef, lean and so flavorful.  We had ours with onions and pickles, buyer beware….Buc-ees does not skimp on the onions, so be sure your road trip buddies enjoy onions on theirs as well!

How can you choose between a dozen different jerkies??  We bought the Hunter Peppered Beef, the Hill County Bohemian Garlic and since it is the new year and I am aiming at healthy, I bought the Peppered Turkey Jerky.  All were incredibly delicious!  Jerky Is the perfect accompaniment to the road trip, you can chew, talk and drive for hours!  Don’t tell anyone, but I spent $65 on jerky, I think I was in the Buc-ees experience overdrive.

They have stuff in jars….lots of stuff…anything from cherry cobbler to pickled quail eggs, but the best thing in a  jar at Buc-ees is Buc-ees Loco Cheese Dip! It’s really just queso, but try it!  Muy delicioso! Arriba!

 

Are you starting to EXPERIENCE Buc-ees yet?  Let’s keep going…

 

Here are just some other food items to enjoy on your stop:


Kolaches – a DOZEN different kinds, Banana Pudding in a cup, Mini pies (Apple Crumb is the best!)  Beaver Nuggets (toasted corn puffs), Dippin’ Dots ice cream, Cobb Salad,  Wrap sandwiches in every flavor, and don’t leave without the Jalapeno Cheese Bread.  Buy 5 loaves and freeze it.  Pull one out when you are having guests, warm it and tell them it’s homemade!  They’ll never know the difference …..shhhhh…

 

Enough about food, let’s move on to merchandise.  Buc-ees has everything from Feral Hog traps and deer corn to a whole line of jewelry, home accent pieces and clothing.  If you have kids at home, you have seen the Buc-ees logo on everything!

Such a smart marketing ploy to make your logo that cute little beaver!  Look around and you will find “Beaver University” shirts, pajamas, hats, sweatpants and shirts, jackets and more!  My friend, Lisa, who wrote this wonderful post, bought some slippers and a coffee cup for her friend’s birthday.  Both Toni and Lisa bought sweatpants.

Part of Buc-ees success stems from the friendly, helpful local  employees, who smile and greet you and can answer any questions about the establishment. 

 

Don’t leave without getting your photo in front of the 12 foot stuffed beaver, there is also a large one at the front door! Thanks Lisa for giving us your Buc-ees favs!! I certainly had more fun on the trip with you and sweet Toni!!!

I’d love to hear back from some of you on your favorite Buc-ees  items!

                                             Happy Traveling!  Till Next Monday!!  xo,  Leslie

New at Segreto...

Light and airy jewelry, perfect for layering! 

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Soft scarves in a rainbow of colors and patterns to fit any style!

 

 

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Sunday
Feb232014

Portrait Perfect

While I was working on a project for one of my clients, we started talking about this amazing portrait artist she had met and wanted to show me his book. At first glance, I thought it was a book of portrait photography, but then I realized artist David Larned (http://www.davidlarned.com/) created some of the most beautiful painted portraits I had ever seen. When the client told me that David will be moving to Houston, I immediately had to find out more information and contacted him!!!

I always enjoy getting to know and share the stories of other people who do what they love, and David Larned is certainly one of those people! Though he always painted, it wasn’t until college that David decided he wanted to make a life out of it. “I realized that art was the only class I was truly passionate about.  From that moment on, I never looked back.”

With his father in the Navy, David was accustomed to moving around the country every couple years as a child.  More geared to military bases than art museums, his family was in foreign territory when it came to their son’s proclivity for painting. “They didn’t know what was happening. Neither did I. But now that [my art career] has worked out, they take credit for it!”

David’s work focuses primarily on portraits, but also enjoys painting landscapes, and still life.  In a realistic, technical style reminiscent of 19th and 20th century European and American realists, his paintings explore what makes people and places so intensely beautiful.

After his first exhibition, he started receiving an overwhelming number of portrait requests and knew that portraiture was something to gravitate towards.

The first step in doing portraits is getting to know his subjects. In order to capture their personality in two-dimensional form, David relies on his intuition more than factual research. “Portrait painters should be able to sense who their subjects are without having to rely on their resume.” 

The exceptional quality is worth the investment. Not only do you get a beautiful work of art, but it becomes a family heirloom to be passed down through the generations.


The process begins with an hour-long photo session since only very rarely does he come across someone who wants to sit for the full 60+ hours.

Back at his studio, David usually works on a couple pieces at a time. Always wanting to be painting something, he’s found that this approach keeps him busy - while one piece is drying, he can turn his attention to the other.

David has had a few unusual requests. He once was commissioned to paint a recognizable portrait of a woman who didn’t want her face to show! Somehow, he found a way to get the back of her head to look just like her!

His favorite projects are the ones where the client lets him do his own thing! “They always get a better product for it!”


One perks of the profession that David never expected is the opportunity to work with an impressive array of celebrities, well-known businessmen and women, and other household names.  Born in New York and most recently based in Chester County outside of Philadelphia, the artist has done portraits for the who’s who of the tristate area…


And he is now getting into the Houston scene as well… As I was browsing through his portfolio, I was surprised to find the portrait of these clients of mine!!! Capturing their personalities, something so tough to do in painting portraits I was even more enchanted with his pieces!

Planning to move from their home in West Chester, Pennsylvania, David, his wife, and their 3 year-old daughter will be relocating to Houston! Though initially for work and adventure, he says, “watching our daughter thrive here has given it a much more meaningful purpose. We think [Houston] is the best place we know to raise our daughter.”  Raising all 3 of my kids here, I couldn’t agree more!!!

David’s wife, Sarah Lamb (http://www.sarahlamb.net/index.html), is also an immensely talented artist. With a body of work comprising mostly still life pieces, Sarah has exhibited in solo shows several times at Meredith Long & Company here in Houston, as well as at Spanierman Gallery in NY and John Pence Gallery in San Francisco among othe galleries.   She also does beautiful commission pieces!!!

Big thanks to David for sharing his story with me!  You can find out even more about David on his website (http://www.davidlarned.com/), and if you are interested in commissioning him to do a portrait of you or your loved ones, you can email him at davelarned@hotmail.com.

’Til next week!
xo Leslie

 

What's New at the Segreto Shop? 

These striking acrylic sconces are one of our favorite new items! We can custom order whichever style you like! 

Colorful bags for Spring! These perfect party purses come with a chain for wearing it long and a wristlet strap. They can also be customized with a monogram for a special gift for a friend or yourself!


It's almost warm enough to hit the beach! These pretty towels and beach bags are lightweight and easy to pack for any summer day! They also double as sarrongs, throws, or wraps!!!

’Til next week!
xo Leslie

 

 

To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

 

Sunday
Feb162014

Tufted

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!! This year my hubby, John, forgot what day Valentine’s day fell on and planned a ski trip! Soooooo….  I went over to a good friend's house that I hadn’t seen in a long time and we had take-out and caught up! It was a lot of fun!

Anthropologie

These days you can't pull up Pinterest or a design magazine without coming across tufting. From tufted headboards to benches to whole walls, this timeless style can be adapted to fit in any surrounding. 

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Tufting has a long history in the art of upholstery. First developed to secure thickly padded mattresses when quilting was inadequate, artisans began using tufting in upholstered pieces in the 18th century when comfort became a key consideration in furniture.

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Designers in Europe began creating more sofas and chairs with backs, cushioning and springs for added comfort in the late 1700s. This was a vast difference from earlier designs, where benches were more popular with the masses and sofas with backs were rare!

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In the 1800s, the Industrial Revolution in England made fabrics and furniture manufacturing more readily available and affordable to all, allowing for more affordable upholstered furniture. The popularity was so great that the Victorian era was dubbed by some "the Age of Upholstery." 

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The original Chesterfield sofa is one of the most iconic tufted designs from this era. This design has stood the test of time. With the recent rise of popularity for vintage style and sturdy comfortable pieces, the Chesterfield sofa and variations of it have been popping up in many contemporary homes and stores. It was originally a favorite for gentlemen's gathering places, but now can be found in countless different materials and in all kinds of design schemes.

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I love all the creative uses of tufting today. The structure of the pattern naturally creates an interesting texture. From tufted walls to tufted headboards to tufted bathtubs, designers have found creative ways to incorporate it into any room.  See some of my favorite examples below!!!!!!

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Paint the tufted look!!.....................

Getting on the tufted bandwagon we have even painted walls that appear tufted! A perfect way to incorporate the look with out the dust. What's your favorite tufted look? To see even more of our favorite tufted pieces, follow me on pinterest .

 

What's New at the Segreto Shop........

Loving these--they come in all different colors and sizes.  They work like chalk, but have no dust and can be cleaned with Windex.  We have all sorts of chalk papers, labels and gift tags all ready to decorate!!!

Beautiful colors these decorative bowls start at 30$.  Great for adding a pop to any side or coffee table!!!

 This is the softest baby blanket I have ever felt!!  Made from organic muslin or bamboo they get softer the more you wash them!!!  I hope everyone has a nice week!!!  Till next Monday!  xo  Leslie

To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

 

 

Sunday
Feb092014

Valentines Dinner Party-One Hour and Counting!

 

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Sometimes it's not about the elaborate gifts but just the simple gestures that show someone you care. A special card or handwritten note, a thoughtful dinner at home or even helping out with an unexpected errand are things that take more thought than money! Valentine's Day is all about celebrating love, so whether you spend it with one or many, it's all about showing each other that you care! 

One of my best valentines surprises for my hubby was when I had a scavenger hunt for him! Starting with a note on his car which lead him to his first clue, his day was filled with small surprises which led him to a romantic dinner for two! He loved his day of treats and also loved me ripping up little pieces of paper and putting in his pockets drawers and unexpected places for him to find!

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Last year.. I decided to have some of our couple friends over for Valentines dinner! I had planned to leave work early, set a beautiful table, and prepare a special gourmet meal that I had researched and shopped for.

Leaving work late, I had no time to make what I had planned.  I had a just over an hour to set the table, make dinner and get dressed!!!!! Yikes--Costco to the rescue!!!!!! I decided to regroup and make pesto chicken with pasta. Fast, easy to make and tasty!!

For the appetizer I purchased Pita Pals' Texas Caviar Salad, hummus, Santa Barbara Bay's Spinach Parmesan Dip, pita chips, crackers, some healthy veggies and some freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

If you put the dip into a casserole dish-hopefully one prettier than mine- put fresh parmesan cheese on top, then bake in the oven for about 20 min no one will believe it’s not homemade!!!

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Time permitting, these heart shaped cherry tomatoes would be really festive to add to a veggie tray!!!

Garnish and put on a big tray and Voila! an easy spread that everyone seemed to enjoy!!

If you are chardonnay drinkers, this wine was really good!!!  We had red as well!!

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This would have been the salad I would have chosen for my guests!!!

For the salad in a pinch, the Grand Parisian in the ready Pac bag gets rave reviews.  I added a few more things that just happen to be in my fridge, mixed it in a beautiful bowl and garnished with parmesan cheese.

I have made my own pesto sauce but honestly The Kirkland brand is really good.  I purchased this, some angel hair pasta and two of their rotisserie chickens!  If you become a fan, the pesto sauce is great over grilled salmon as well!!!

Just a few easy steps! Even my cute husband, John, all dressed in his Valentine's red, pitched in and helped!!  While the pasta was boiling, I cut up the rotisserie chicken into bite size chunks. When done, I mixed the chicken, pesto sauce (add to your liking!) and parmesan cheese together.

I folded the chicken mixture into the drained pasta and gently tossed it together.  Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and the dish is done. Now I'm off to set the table!!

Quick and festive, I ran a paper runner down the table--love these that we carry in our shop from Kitchen Papers (at 50% off right now)!!!  So much easier than a table cloth, it adds interest and then after you use it, you can just throw it away!!!!  We also carry these pretty napkins and placemats by French Laundry. Thank goodness I have the store.  I went through my Christmas wrapping ribbons and found enough ribbon to use as a festive accent on the table.

The girls each got a rose on their plate and the boys got some candy!!!

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I would have liked to make a clever desert like the heart in the cupcake!!!  But................ had to make it easy and get the treats from my one stop store!!

These cookies are delish!  I did send John to pick up some cappuccino yogurt from Voss Yogurt in Houston. The cookies heated up and served with ice cream was the perfect ending to the meal. 

We had so much fun at our dinner party for 8. Thank you Costco for coming to my rescue! I hope that you all have a wonderful Valentine’s day!  If you are looking for that special gift please stop by the store--We have fab clocks, ties, and trays for the guys and stunning jewelry, lotions, candles, purses, makeup bags, crystals on acrylic bases and more for that special gal. We also are getting in lots from market!!!!!!!!!!!!  And......our cross bottle collection is a half off this week!!!! Below is a small sampling of what is new!!!

 

 

 

 

Greyforth cross bottles  and Lollia lotions and perfumes are at 50% off along with many other items in the store!!!  come in early for best selections!!!!

The Back Row Antiques are having their..............................

First Anniversary Celebration

February 11, 2014 10 am – 7 pm

Be their guests at their Customer Appreciation Sale February 11-15 10 am – 5 pm

Save 20% off all items $100 or more! 8570 Katy Freeway, Suite 111, Houston, TX 77024.

I hope everyone has an amazing week!!!  Till next Monday!  xo  Leslie

To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

 

Sunday
Feb022014

An Orange a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

The color orange evokes strong emotions - it is one of the boldest, most active colors on the spectrum. Orange conjures up images of warmth, happiness, energy, and confidence - so it isn't surprising to see how prevalent it is in fashion and design. 

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Color psychologists (and it looks like our icon Frank) say that "orange brings spontaneity and a positive outlook on life and is a great color to use during tough economic times, keeping us motivated and helping us to look on the bright side of life. With its enthusiasm for life, the color orange relates to adventure and risk-taking, inspiring physical confidence, competition and independence. Those inspired by orange are always on the go."

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Historically, the first use of the name "orange" as a color was in 1512. Before that, people simply referred to the color as yellow-red. Many cultures hail the color as a religious symbol - it is particularly important to the Hindu and Buddhist communities where it symbolizes divinity and illumination. Dating back to Greek and Roman mythology, the God of Wine and Ecstasy is depicted dressed in a vibrant orange.

   

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Orange decor such as lamps, pillows, and rugs are being used as accent pop colors today. Mixed with grays, blues and neutrals, it really seems to brighten a room. In fashion and design, my mom always said buy what you like, because trends change and always come back in fashion. This rug was used in a home around 1960 by Jane Gianarelli Interior Design. The design and color are still so current today!

 

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I love America's new design sweetheart Mary McDonald's fabric line which puts orange at the forefront combining it with grays. They seem to be a fresh twist on an old Gracie inspired design.

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Tory Burch is known for her love of vivid colors and bold design - even when it comes to the interior design of her stores. Many of them sport a signature orange color on both the walls and ceilings, encouraging you to shop!! I certainly get a smile on my face when I open one of Tory Burch's tangerine boxes during the gift giving season!! 

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Tory  also seems to have jumped on the orange bandwagon in the decor of her apartment in the Pierre Hotel. Designer Daniel Romualdez, who handles the interiors of her stores, also takes the lead in her homes' decor.

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I love this high gloss orange ceiling from Elle Decor Magazine. When wanting any kind of high sheen paint on cabinetry, walls, or ceilings, remember the surface has to be absolutely perfect with no dings or imperfections as they will be enhanced by the sheen of the paint! 

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This orange and metallic gold wallpaper certainly makes a statement in this room. I think I will try this color combination with a hand painted stencil design. 

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The best part about orange? It has a best friend - the color blue. Blue and orange are complementary colors on the color wheel and as such, both contrast and highlight each other so deliciously. The duo acts as the perfect pair, particularly when working together in home interiors. 

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An orange a day keeps the doctor away!! It's been suggested that we all find small ways to use orange in our everyday lives as it encourages cheerfulness and optimism. In decor, maybe try a small dose of it like a pillow or pops of art to see how it  brightens your mood.

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Orange, a visual representation of enthusiasm and passion for life, makes a perfect color for a fashion statement!!  

Here is my daughter Kirby's fav orange outfit. Mixed with this chalcedony ring, the combo certainly is a hit! We got this ring at the The Menagerie in Austin, Texas.  If you are traveling in Austin it is worth the detour!!  Beautiful things wonderful prices.  Let Vicki know Leslie and Kirby sent you!!

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I love the pops of orange in this tablescape but beware!!!! The color orange stimulates your appetite. Restaurants use orange in their design schemes in hopes of stimulating hunger, and therefore increasing the dollars spent at their eateries. If you're trying to lose that extra 10 pounds...(or 30 like me)...you might not want to paint your kitchen orange!!

Whats new in the Boutique for Valentine's Day............So excited to get a new shipment of Jewelry just in time! Below is a new line that we picked up priced from $22-$125, perfect to pick up for that special someone!!!



 Till next Monday!! Xo, Leslie

To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.