Guy’s Guide to Non-Girly Gifts ….

I have a friend who emails me precisely the weekend before Thanksgiving and asks me to list the five things he should tell his family he wants for the holidays.  What started off as a joke has now become a tradition among friends.  My friend explains it simply as “Courtney picks out s**t for me that I wouldn’t and my wife and family couldn’t.”  If that isn’t a ringing endorsement than I don’t know what you are looking for!

I think gifts for guides should be a mix of stuff you know they would want, stuff you know you want them to want and stuff that will leave his family slightly puzzled on why.  Trust me, it works…….

Courtney Out Loud Guy Gift Guide[clockwise] Zara Patterned Sweatshirt // Mark & Graham Contrast Stitch Handkerchiefs // Mast Brothers Chocolate // Restoration Hardware Whisky Stones // St. George B & E Bourbon // Bitters by Thomas Parson

Courtney Out Loud Men's Gift Guide 2

[clockwise] Wildsam Field Guides // Unionmade Stripped Long Sleeve Tee // Chemex Wood Handle -8 cup // Varvatos Converse-Laceless Chuck Taylor // Bespoke Home Sallwax Dopp Kit // Aesop Post Shave Lotion // Miansai Leather Hook Bracelet

You know what else works?  That everything on this list is under $100 and can  be bought online.  No need to schlep to the mall, drive aimlessly for a parking spot and then scarf down an Auntie Anne’s pretzel with cheese sauce out of pure frustration.  You can kick back and shop for that special lad in the comfort of your own home!  Now turn back on Netflix with the smug knowledge that you have yet again outsmarted the masses….

Bravo.  Bravo.  And bravo…..

Be sure to check out my gift guide for the stylish lass…….

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The Coldest Winter I Have Ever Spent …..

Twain Quote

Only in the Bay Area can folks experience seasonal affect disorder during the Summer.  Locals have affectionately nicknamed the proverbial fog layer that envelopes the city, “Karl”.  Why Karl?  I don’t know but it kinda fits the moody, lumbering way that the fog tends to roll over the hills and into neighborhoods.  Occasionally, Karl will lose his grip and one will be able to frolic in appropriate Summer attire, but for the most part, you are stuck with using the trusty layering approach to dressing:  tee, sweater/jacket and scarf.  In this way, you can begin to peel layers off as the fog dissipates (if it ever does).

So when my friends over at Mark & Graham asked if I would model (and I use that term loosely) for them showing folks how I would style their Armour Lux Cotton Scarf, I was happy to oblige.

CLake Armor Scarf

Since Bay Area summers can be lacking in sunlight, I tend to gravitate towards bright colors.  The red and white stripes on the scarf are the perfect preppy accent to my usual Summer uniform of chinos, denim jacket, white tee/button down and Converse.  Slim enough to be worn as a ascot (seriously, I do wear ascots) but still warm enough to fight off the morning chill, the Armour scarf is perfect to keeping my in my “murse” (aka man purse) and whipping out should I need an extra layer.  However, what I love most is the little “C” that is embroidered on the edge of the scarf.

Armor Luxe Striped Cotton Scarf

As with all Mark & Graham products, you can personalize it with your monogram selecting from a variety of fonts.  I don’t know why that little letter makes me so giddy but it does!

What makes me even more giddy is that Mark & Graham has teamed up with its sister brand, Pottery Barn to give away FIVE of the Armour Lux Cotton Scarves.   Head over to the Pottery Barn blog, Inside & Out to find out how you can enter to win as well read not only my interview but that of four other Bay Area creatives on how they handle Summers here in the area.

With my new scarf in tow, I am off to find a 160″ drapery rod– evidently this length can only be forged in to fiery depths of Mordor (or ordered online).  In either case, it’s a pain to deal with.  Have a great weekend and if you wanted a laugh, check out my Facebook page to see what I keep in my “murse”……

[image credits: Pottery Barn/Courtney Lake]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Play Date: Mark & Graham Spring Tablescape…

I don’t know about you but I am immensely enjoying the fact that it is still light outside after 6pm.  I can honestly say I am d-o-n-e with winter and before you say it, I know my version of winter consists of 55 degree days, no snow and the occasional super-warm-sunbathing-I-can-wear-a-tee-shirt-day.  I  have zilch to complain about. Nada.  Zip It.  Shut yer’ yapper……

But honestly, even the mild Northern California winters can get the best of a person.  So it was no surprise that when the team over at William Sonoma’s newest venture, Mark and Graham contacted me to create a tablescape to celebrate Spring, I wanted to create something that just vibrated with vitality, life  and freshness.  I brainstormed everything from indoor picnics to an outdoor BBQ.  While the table may have ended up indoors, my design was definitely inspired by a spring garden……



As I said, I wanted freshness and vitality, so I stuck with the thing we most closely associate with Spring – flowers and greenery.  I created 11 different individual flower arrangements  surrounding a larger centerpiece.  This arrangement gave me the flexibility to use the arrangements through the rest of the house once the party was over.

I limited my color palette to green  through the cut flowers and the peat moss placements and white.  In case you were wondering, the pea moss placements were a lucky and inexpensive find at the craft store which created the background for the rest of the place setting – the floral dinner plates, the wooden cutlery  and the monogramed napkins.  On a sidenote, this is my first time having something monogrammed – I think I am hooked!  A healthy dose of glass, crystal and reflective metal finishes were added to the mix to create a modern take on an indoor garden party…..

Swing by Mark & Graham’s blog mgram to see the full tablescape,  see how I incorporated the other products from the Mark & Graham line and what I am coveting for Spring.

Mark & Graham Screenshot Cropped.jpg

So what are your weekend plans?  I am going to be elbow deep in my patio preparing for another shoot on Sunday and prepping for client meetings that kick off on Monday and go one a day for the entire week.  Can’t complain too much since the last two weekends found me in wine country and Palm Springs.

Yeah when I say it out loud, I don’t feel bad for me either……

[Photo Credit: Photo by Adza//Styling: Courtney Lake]

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