Motivational Monday: Holiday Cheer …

Edna Ferber Quote

I was talking with a few friends and they all agree that for some reason Christmas this year just does not “feel” typical.  It’s like putting on your favorite cashmere sweater only to find out that it’s too small, itchy & uncomfortable.  Something seems to be off and I am determined to figure out what it is.  This week, I have given myself a mandate – find your joy.  Find your bliss.  Find your inner Santa.

Whether it’s with families and friends or at the bottom of a mug of spiked egg nog, the mission is simple – get out of my head and get into the season.  I need the “holiday magic” – it’s better than any anti-depressant.  I am in desperate need of some “Christmas Prozac”.  So I am putting on my PJs, cranking up the holiday tunes and immersing myself in babies, baking and boozing. I figure one of the three should make this Scrooge McGrinch smile…..

[photo credit:  aubrie pick]

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Looks Who’s “Dabbling” With Halloween Tablescaping …

If you follow me on on Insta.gram (CourtneyOutLoud) you would have seen some  random shots of local-based photographer Samantha Cooper as she strained, craned and contorted herself while taking photographs at the house.  I can finally say she was taking shots on behalf of Dabble Magazine’s October/November issue of a Halloween tablescape I created exclusively for the magazine inspired by wine country …..


There is me surrounded by all my “spooky glory” for the magazine.  Check out pages 22-23 for my take on a Halloween tablescape.  And yes, you will see some recycling of last year’s tablescape — I never said I wasn’t thrifty on occasion!  Later this week I will be posting additional shots from the shoot and explaining how you can get the same look for your home.

Until then I am trying to get my body clock back into a normal sleep cycle, slog through all furniture options I found on my trips to Boston and New York last week and wrap up some work for clients.

So how was your weekend?

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Easter Table Revisited……

I am a bad tablescaper.

I have had my head down and nose to the grindstone as of late.  It wasn’t until The Partner asked me what I was going to do for this year’s Easter table that I even realized that the holiday was around the corner.  I leisurely went to the calendar to see what my time-table was and BOOM – the cold hard bitch slap of reality hit.  Easter is early this year – like by 3 weeks.


I panicked and ran around the house for a good 2 minutes babbling.  Then I stopped and said my mantra “Sh*t Happens.  Let It Go..” and that is what I did.  I didn’t want to slap something together for the sake of having an Easter post.  I would rather opt not to do a tablescape than do a bad one.  Unfortunately that means that there won’t be an Easter tablescape this year but I have a great Spring tablescape I am working on that I plan on debuting soon for y’all.

However, until then, I thought it may be nice to take a stroll down memory line and look at the table I created last year…..

I think this one is my favorite tablescape I did – its bold, colorful and full of pattern.  I adore it.  Hopefully it gives you some inspiration to go out and do your own for this weekend……

I am off to sketch some stuff for a client!  Have a great one…..

Quick note about the Joyus competition – You can vote for my room multiple times and each time you vote, you are entered to win a $1500 shopping spree from Joyus, so it pays to click especially in light that none of us won the mega lotto…..

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Looking Forward…..

Happy New Year!

I spent all of last week looking back, recapping 2011 in all of its glory and blunders. However, in this first post of 2012, I want to focus on what lies ahead for myself and the blog. You can call them resolutions if you want, but these are my hopes, wishes and dreams for the new year….

For Myself…..

Becoming My Own Fan: Some people call it confidence. I like to think of it that in 2012, I will become my biggest cheerleader. The negative voice in my head will be replaced with one that sounds remarkably similar to Oprah giving me positive affirmations……

Embracing Failure: “It Is Okay To Fail”. As I try to grow the blog and kick start the design business, I keep repeating this mantra in my head. It is through my failures that I have created my biggest successes. So 2012 is about brainstorming, planning and seeing what happens when I place things in motion — and being okay if some (or all) don’t succeed.

Asking For It: I have an unhealthy fear of the word “no”. It frightens me in the same vein as clowns and The Forever Lazy, hence why I am always fearful of asking for help or the things I want. I am going to try my best to shed the notion that the “no” is a direct reflection on me, rather than the person’s ability (or want) to help me. Eventually if I ask enough people, someone will say yes….or if everyone says no, then it may sink in that it wasn’t a good idea to start with!

Acknowledging My Limitations: I am going to be the first one to tell you that I don’t know everything there is to food, design and culture. I am pretty sure I know about 1% of what there is to know. Yet I still feel a pang in my stomach when asked a question I don’t know the answer. Being a “professional” in a field doesn’t mean I need to be the expert, but have the desire to continue to learn.

Appreciating My Contributions: I don’t save lives. I have yet to find a cure for cancer. However, I do set a kick-ass table, can style a vignette like no one’s business and can a cake that would make you slap your Momma. But, I find myself continually playing down my talents because they are not “substantial”. Yet I know that when a doctor walks into a room I decorated after a hard day’s work and feels relaxed, sits down to a meal prepared from one of my recipes and smiles when he seems that his wife set a table inspired from one of my tablescapes, I have touched way more people than my consultant friend that day.

For the Blog & Business…..

grow. Grow. GROW: DId I mention I want to grow the blog? I found that in 2011 I finally found my voice and perspective. 2012 is now about finding those opportunities that grant me the autonomy to be me and sharing my unique take on them with you. It is also about making sure that I am writing about those things that appeal to both me and you as readers. So don’t be surprised if you see a survey or two in the coming months asking for your feedback.

Immortalize Myself on Celluloid: Yuppers – 2012 y’all are going to see me in a completely different light…..well actuallty bathed in about a billion watts of light actually. I am lauching a video section of Courtney Out Loud where I will be doing tutorials, answering reader questions and talking with those individuals who inspire me on a daily basis. However, this also means that you will be subjected to my voice on a regular basis…’s a trade-off. You have been warned.

I Want It In Writing: I am making no bones that I would love to see myself in a print magazine in 2012. It’s a lofty goal, but it would tickle me to no end. So world (and magazine editors) I am putting it out there……

More Original Content: I strive to make Courtney Out Loud a place to find original content — food for thought. It’s a tough order to fill since the landscape is so competitive, but one I am committed to in 2012. Which also means I want to start highlighting YOUR projects, homes and tablescapes. So start sending the projects you are proud of my way at

Launch My Business: I found myself in 2011 in the unique position of having people asking for my services without really having a business. I spent 2011 dabbling in the waters of self-employment and am almost ready to place my next venture out for the world to see. I am excited about this next phase and even more excited to share it with you.

There you have it. I think it’s a doable list but things that if I can get them all done, will place me on the track to success. I raise my imaginary glass to success and prosperity in 2012. So did you make a list of success milestones for 2012?

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My Christmas Tree…….

I mentioned yesterday, I finally got the tree up and I  have to admit that between taking on a new client, school work, holiday shopping and battling a cold the tree almost didn’t get decorated.  Fortunately, I found a small window late one evening and just plowed through it thanks to Theraflu and Pandora radio streaming Christmas music at full blast.

I opted to not do a real Christmas tree this year.  The thought of a live tree seemed too overwhelming, so I opted to use the  white plastic tree I picked up at Wal-Mart last year for $20.  Last season I become obsessed with having a white tree and rushed out and found this one on clearance.  It’s 6’5″ tall and the perfect size for our living room which was not the case when we bought a live tree 2 years ago – that sucker was HUGE.  Because it was the wrong size getting it out of the house once the season was over was a nightmare.  Once it was unfurled, it couldn’t fit down the staircase, so we had to hoist it over the loft into the kitchen and spray the entire first floor in a rain shower of pine needles (not fun).

Fortunately, the artificial white tree proved to be quick and easy to assemble and provided the perfect back drop to the bronze, brown and gold color scheme I envisioned.  However, I did sneak in a few colorful accents to spice things up……

I could not find a tree topper in gold that was not an angel or an extremely clichéd looking star.  So I opted to create my topper out of a stuffed owl and two gold candle wreaths.  I simply wired the two wreaths together and with some fishing line added the owl. It took about 10 minutes total to do and I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

Don’t these ornaments remind you of something Jonathan Adler would do for his stores?  Surprisingly, they are some off-market brand that I was able to pick up at Marshalls for about $1.50 per ornament.  I am totally scouting out my local Marshalls to see if they go back on clearance this year so I can scoop up some more.

Told you that  I snuck in a few hints of color like these fantastic peacock ornaments that I found on clearance at Marshalls last year.

I even bribed a certain adorable dog to get in on the Christmas action.  It’s amazing what Scruffy will do for a well-placed (and well-timed) doggie treat.

I think I may be a full convert to artificial trees after this year with one caveat.  I think fake trees should look, well fake,  hence why I love the white tree.  There is no way in hell unless you are Helen Keller that you would think my white plastic tree is real.  So where do you stand on white trees artificial trees?  Yay or nay?

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Remembering Why We Get The Day Off…….

Typically I like to start my postings with some pithy, witty or funny statement.  However, I think some things should never be joked about, case in point being the sacrifices that the men and women in our armed services have given.  Those sacrifices have ensured that we as Americans enjoy liberties that many of us take for granted.  In addition, their work has made the lives of countless people around the world better, safer and brighter.

Regardless of what you think of our military policies and global politics, take a moment to pay respects to those who serve here and abroad as well as those who gave their lives to protect ours.

So as you gather with friends and family today to celebrate Memorial Day, just take a moment and remember why you have the day off…..

memorial day

Recap: Bright & Light New Year’s Day Brunch Table Setting

During the winter months, I crave brightness.  Some people call it seasonal affective disorder or some other fancy name, but I just know that by the end of December, I want bright, light and cheery.  This need has manifested itself in different ways throughout my life ranging from an inherit need to dress in bright patterns during the winter months to turning on every light in the house come dusk.  Fortunately for my electric bill, this year manifested in a need to create a bold and lively table setting for our anticipated New Year’s Day brunch.

Since most of our friends are parents of infants, a night of partying isn’t in the cards anymore. Instead, this year we have opted for a low-key New Year’s Day brunch.  The gathering is low-key, informal social gathering where we all wear jeans, the wee ones are fed and placed to play on the shag rug and the occasional tiny dog or two a sneaked a treat of breakfast sausage under the table.  The brunch is my idealized concept of effortless perfection and  I wanted the table to reflect this mellow vibe.   Think mellow but still fun as it’s still a party (even if sparkling cider is subbed for champagne for some members of the group).  After all, it is the first “official” social gathering of our friends, so we have to set the tone for the remainder of the year!

To achieve this feeling, I opted to go with a  non-traditional color palette – colors you would not typically find on a holiday table.  Don’t get me wrong – I am a dude who loves all things shiny and silver.  But when I tried it out a color scheme like that, it felt too stuffy for a brunch.  So I opted for a palette that was zippy and straight out of a Technicolor dream: turquoise, purple and orange.  This color scheme allowed me to do two things: (1) fulfill my innate  need for punchy colors and (2) mix pieces from my collection that don’t necessarily “match”.

What I ended up with was a super-saturated table setting that let me run a bit wild.  It’s fun,  bright and I think I may have my first table setting “crush”…….

Here is a breakdown of the items used:

Tablecloth: 90in round cotton Crate & Barrel
Napkins: Pier One
Dishes: Plate and salad plate are from Anthropologie
Champagne Flutes: Clearance pieces from Ross Dress For Less
Juice Glasses: Pressed antique glass
Silverware: A combination of antique mother of pearl pieces & every day stainless steel flatware
Flower vases: Ikea drinking glasses
Centerpiece: Dollar Store, found branches and holiday ornaments & keepsakes
Mercury Candle Holders: Michael’s Craft
Tea lights: Ikea

Tomorrow, I will highlight the “big sister” version of this table setting……

PS: You can get a sneak peek of the Big Sister version if you visit the lovely ladies over at Living Livelier!