Friday, March 30, 2012

Casual Friday

Welcome to Casual Friday: Outerwear Edition! Here in the midwest we sort of went from winter-coat-to-no-coat faster than you can say "my allergies are acting up!" I'm personally very big on enjoying each season at the appropriate time of year, so I was not really up for skipping straight to summer weather. Luckily, the temps have cooled down a bit, and we're enjoying cool mornings, pleasant days and cooler evenings in true spring style this week! As such, I thought I'd share some lightweight (and fun!) seasonal outerwear.

1. Miranda Dinner Indigo Roses Jacket, Milly $495.00 (know who NEEDS to do a Target collection? Milly.)
2. Constructed Swing Coat, Anthropologie $198.00
3. Water Repellent Short Trench Coat, Target $44.99 (assorted colors available)
4. Lemongrass is always Greener, Modcloth $74.99
5. Gallery Single Breasted Memory Trench Coat, Nordstrom $109.90 (also in cobalt!)
6. Sunset Stripe Jacket, Modcloth $84.99
7. Michael Kors Safari Anorak, Nordstrom $128.00
8. Belted Long Trench Coat, Target $49.99 (assorted colors available)

And the grand finale of budget-friendly-yet-stylish outwear this season!? The Mossimo Rain Anorak from Target. Get it in polka (my fave) or solid or patterned for $34.99! Seriously, reader-friends. You want this coat!
Polka Dot Rain AnorakTarget $34.99 (navy and yellow available too!)
Solid Rain Anorak, Target $34.99 (also in black)
Floral Print Anorak, Target, $34.99 

It's so cute, even Anthro is selling it! ;)
Anthropologie Rain-dotted Anorak, $168

I'm looking forward to a fun and relaxing weekend with some brunching, some antique-sale picking, some hiking, some wine-ing and some cooking in good company! T.G.I.F reader-friends! xo, Jules

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Euro Trip!

"Bon Voyage mes amis!" How did that sound? I've been pretty busy brushing up on my French and busting out my faux Brit accent as of late. That's because six months from today I will be on day-one of a 15-day European vaycay!!! Earlier this month, my aunt asked me travel with her to Europe to celebrate a big birthday. (I am still pinching myself! It's the best question anyone has ever asked me!) As you can imagine, I said, "oui! oui!" straight away.  

But wait, there's more...It's a cruise. An immersive wine cruise, to be specific. (Seriously? Dream vacation much?) So now that I'm officially wine-ing my way through Europe with 3 of the best travel companions a girl could ask for, I've been busy scouring the internet for every detail I can get a hold of, from our accommodations to information on the cities of port. And natch, I started a "Euro Trip" pinboard!  

I've been to London, where we'll spend 2 days prior to our departure, twice before (it made me a bit of an anglophile). But all the stops on the cruise (Paris and Bordeaux, France, Bilbao and Vigo, Spain and Porto, Portugal) are all new to me! I'll be sharing more detailed posts on our excursions, must-see sites, shopping and eats for each city in the coming months. But for now, here's a little eye candy and a visual preview of the trip!
London Eye + our London hotel (Marriott Country Hall) via
Afternoon tea @ Claridge's (one of my favorite English experiences!) via

Tower Bridge, London via
London city streets, via
Claridge's Tea Room via
Bordeaux, via
Parisian Cafe via

Bordeaux via

Notre Dame via
Eiffel Tower via 
Bordeaux Vineyard via
Vigo, Spain via
Bilbao, Spain via
French wines, via

Porto, Portugal via
Heavenly, no? Have any travel rec's or tips? Any must-eat or must-see sights? I'd love to hear from you!

P.S. You know I will subject you to packing lists too! (I mean, you don't go to Europe poorly dressed, am I right?) 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Retro Glam

With the return of Mad Men (did you watch? were you kind of bored for the first hour? did you miss Betty?) Zinc Door has created a mid-century modern "Pin it to win it" challenge. Yes, that is correct. It is a contest that is centered around 1. Mad Men 2. Design and 3. Pinterest. Sign me up. 

I opted to created a home space (over an office space) and started with some retro-glam inspiration pictures, including Betty and Don's living room. 

Draper's Living Room
Elle Decor

Belle Vivir
Elle Decor
Belle Vivir

Then I found this chair on Zinc Door and decided Betty Draper would rather love to kick off her high heels, chain smoke cigarettes and pull at her pearls while drinking a gimlet in this chair. 

From there I started pinning other Zinc Door retro-glam objects that myself and Betty enjoy (I'm going to go ahead and assume that me and Betty are like-minded, since I can assure you that we both thought Megan's rendition of "Zu Bisou Bisou" and accompanying choreography was a total embarrassment, and we both have a betchy side). 

Please remember that my chairs are moody blue mohair (still tufted, obvi) and sporting a tres chic turkish pillow. I'm thinking the wall would look uber glam + retro with a little gold wall paper. Something like this, no?

Designer's Guild Magnolia Tree Wallpaper in Alabaster via Bryn Alexandra
At this point, you're probs thinking, "you designed a living room for Betty Draper and it doesn't have a bar cart?" To which I say, "patience, grasshopper." The obligatory gimlet pour station wouldn't fit on my original board without it appearing cluttered. And I flippin' hate clutter. So do me a fav and imagine this little set up across from the sitting area above for me, will ya?
Wallpaper was a killer choice if I do say so mahself. Won't that bar cart look fab styled up with some chic glassware, bottles of adult beverlies and garnishes?? 

Check out my entire my "pin it to win it" pinboard for direct sources to all items pictured and be sure to follow MM on Pinterest

Like any of the design and style tips you see on Middle Maintenance?  Want any help-a-roosie coming up with ideas for your actual space?  Let me know, si vous plais!*  I'm helping a friend with her new home, and I am just tickled pink to come up with ideas that somebody is going to implement. (In case the meaning of this is lost on you, I just offered you some free design services.)

*in the unlikely event that I am inundated with requests for design ideas, I can only offer and dedicate a small portion of my time to this endeavor, i.e. there are a limited amount of requests that I will be able to fulfill at no charge. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Look for Less - Spring Stripes

Springy stripes are everywhere this season! I especially loved the J.Crew Lemlem Smocked Shirt when it appeared in my inbox Monday morning. I do not love the $188 price tag! While it's not outrageous-outrageous, it's definitely out-of-reach for my budget. I mean, I could put together an entire ensemble for $188! I was never very good at math, but: 1 sweater < entire ensemble. Here it is in all it's preppy, stripey, chicness. 

Lemlem Smocked Shirt (playing hard to get)

Never fear though! I've got oodles of preppy + stripey + chicness that won't break the bank!
4. H&M Cardigan, $69.95

As you can see, there are plenty of fun striped options out there for spring that won't break the bank. I already own the LOFT Boat Neck Sweater in yellow (I scored it during a weekend promo for $25!) but if I had to pick a second favorite, I think the TopShop Tie Dye sweater would be it. Its lovely pastel hues and blurred lines won me over! 

Of note, the Lemlem collection from J.Crew benefits handwoven artists in Ethiopia, so if you love the look and it's in your budget, you'll be helping out a good cause with your purchase! 

What striped looks have you picked up this spring?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mantle Maintenance

Confession: For approximately 1 year and three months, this is what my mantle/fireplace looked like...

...the shame. The winter berries are leftover from Christmas (please don't judge me) and the rest of the tchotchkes were placed there with no method to my madness, other than to have something on the mantle.  It became one of those decorating projects that just kind of hung over my head. I thought about purchasing a mirror at Home Goods once or twice, but I never found anything I thought I would love. And so it remained, the blank, unstyled blemish of my living room. 

Enter, my bestie, an incredibly talented artist who gifted me with a gorgeous print from a woodblock series she did in college. I had the print stored carefully for years, and much like styling my mantle, meant to have it framed, but never seemed to have the time/funds to have it done nicely. Luckily, Santa let me pick out a beautiful, antiqued frame with a textured linen mat, gorgeous fillet, and museum-quality glass and backing to protect this beautiful work of art for years to come. 

People. She carved this into wood.  In three separate layers. And pressed each layer (in a different color) to the paper. It's based off a photograph she took while in Venice. As you may have guessed,  this photo of the print doesn't begin to do it justice.  Ah-maze!

I planned to hang it in my bedroom (Yep, I've got a second blank wall where good decor intentions go to die) but then decided it deserved a more prominent display in the house, where more people could enjoy it. Since I spend most of my time in the living room of my rental, above the mantel was the perfect choice.

Tim would like me to tell my readers that safety goggles (as he is pictured wearing) are very important! 
 Luckily, Tim the Tool Man Taylor and his good looking wife Jill (i.e. my awesome parents) were up for the task of helping me hang the print in my solid cement walls. A quick trip to Ace Hardware and $5 later, I had a new drill bit for cement (it's very important to use the correct drill bit, so I'm told) and we measured, marked and drilled. (I pretty much held the picture up, gave my opinion and watched, but I can say "we" because it was a collective effort, right??)  

The mantle still needs to be styled, but the biggest hurdle had been jumped. I am so happy to have this beautiful work of art framed and hung where I can enjoy it every day! Now I am just looking around the design interwebs for some gorgeously styled mantles to serve as inspiration!

*I was hopelessly (and happily) disconnected this weekend, so there are no weekend snapshots to share this week. Back to our regularly scheduled programming next Monday.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Casual Friday

Welcome to Casual Friday: Hunger Games edition! I thought I'd showcase some chic utilitarian pieces in honor of Katniss and the movie premier this week! I mayyy have gotten a little frenzied upon seeing any and all previews over the last few weeks. I didn't snag tickets to a midnight showing, (they've been sold out for weeks) but I hope to catch it with some girlfriends soon. 

3. Chambray Button Down, Old Navy

We should also briefly discuss what a bombshell Jennifer Lawrence was at the movie premier. Cinna would totes approve of her dress, no? (I mean, when you saw it, you said "Katniss, the girl who was on fire" in your head, right??) 

Photo via IBTimes
Also, is it just me or did they confuse Gale and Peeta when casting? 

Peeta, Katniss, Gale
(don't pretend like you care about their real names)

image source
T.G.I.F reader-friends. 
May the odds be ever in your favor!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Look for Less!

Last week I shared a few of my Olioboard creations with you all, and I mentioned that while I love building a dream room with no thought to budget, (what's a budget!?) it isn't really real life. And since I really like to, oh you know, maintain my credit score, this champagne-taste-on-a-beer-budget lady is always lookin' for a deal. As a refresher, here are the two design boards...


Armed with only my iPhone4 camera (can you handle this professional photography!?) I hit up my local TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Pier One to see what I could find. My random visits turned up some surprisingly close matches!

While the lamp with the green drum shade wasn't used on either of the boards pictured, I did use it when playing around on another board. Can you believe how similar the looks are on these lamps!? Granted, the $59 Home Decorators Collection lamp is still a gorgeous lamp for a steal, but the point is that you can achieve a similar look for $30 less! 

The mirror finds aren't quite as close as the lamp finds were - but the Home Goods finds still offer some of the same great texture, shape and graphic elements that the Zinc Door mirrors offer. If you're a real stickler about exact matches, how 'bout these guys?

2. Rhona Round Gilt Mirrors, Set of 3, $149

Unfortunately, I can't provide sources for the in-store items, as every store has unique merchandise. My best tip is to be patient and check your local stores on the regular. Don't settle for something that is "okay" for your space just because it's there, or you'll end up with a lot of stuff (and if there's one thing design hates, it's clutter)! 

Click here to view my Olioboards, which include sources to all items.

P.S. Mad love to Zinc Door! I seriously LOVE all their stuff and aspire to owning a roomfuls of it. Until then, to Home Goods I go!

Think Outside the Basket

CANDY! There's nothing quite like the rush of searching for a strategically hidden basket promising a sugar-high on a spring Sunday morning. At least not if you dream of chocolate-covered-marshmallows-shaped-like-eggs, nauseating amounts of Starburst flavored jelly beans and giant plastic eggfuls (like a handful only an eggful) of pastel M&MS like I do this time of year. Natch, you need a transportation method for hauling around all this candy. Because my mom loves me more than your mom loves you, she made me the coolest Easter basket of all time many years ago (pics forthcoming). Not to worry though. If your mom doesn't love you enough to make you an Easter basket, you can still land a beautiful basket (read: candy transporter) of your own and/or purchase a basket for the cute little mini in your life (who will preferably be wearing seersucker or gingham on Easter). 

Because I'm nice and I love you, I've rounded up some cu-ute options, but don't get all traditional on me when you check these out. Think outside the basket people!

1. Chick Easter Basket (perfect for Toddler)
2. NeatNix Square Basket (tons of pockets perfect for hiding eggs and other treats!)
5. Personalized Gingham Basket (pick your basket cover color and add a name or monogram)
6. Bunny Easter Basket (it has gingham ears. does it get cuter?)
7. Dotty Canvas Bins (remove the lid for the look of a basket + perfect for big kids)
8. Monogrammed Market Tote (hellooo. it's green + pink + monogrammed + polka dots. buy it now!) 
9. Locker Bins (another great option for big kids + functional after Easter AM + fun)

Reader-friend poll: What comprises a great Easter basket!? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mad about "Mad Men"

Second only to my love for Downton Abbey is my mad crush on Mad Men. If you're a fellow fan we can all raise our high ball glasses to the return of Don and the gang this coming Sunday! Personally, I feel it's been far too long (17 months to be exact), but they do say absence makes the heart grow fonder. In anticipation of the 2-hour premier, I've rounded up some Mad Men eye-candy for ya. Aren't I the best!? 

Let's start with set design, shall we?

Mmmm....the 60's never looked so good! Retro is back and there are some seriously gorgeous design elements that you should think about bringing into your home. My personal fave is that tufted velvet headboard. But let us not overlook the grasscloth in the Draper's living room, nor the chairs in Don's office, nor the lovely geometric fabric on Don and Betty's new high-backed arm chairs. And let's not forget the comeback that the coral and navy color combo is making these days.  Here's another headboard shot, partially because I want you to love it as much as me, and partially so we can all reminisce about Don and Betty and the good ole' days of their hot-and-cold marriage. 

Elle Decor shared some lovely spaces that incorporate retro elements while maintaining a fresh, modern feel in its "Still Mad About Mad Men" slide show. 

Here are some faboosh retro/mod pieces (pictured in immense disproportion) that you can incorporate into your home today!
Crate & Barrel Ankara Chair, West Elm Sutton Sofette, Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair
But we all know set design is just one part of Mad Men's appeal. Beautiful people in stunning ensembles bring the best of retro fashion back for us to feast our eyes on.

Now for some stylish retro fashion picks...

And the superlative for "Most Changed Over Summer Break" goes to Keirnan Shipka, i.e. Sally Draper. You may remember her like this: 
But little girl no more. Should I be shocked? Jealous? (Can I publicly admit to being jealous of a 12 year old's tousled locks and Versace wardrobe?) Either way, the times they are a-changin' for Sally Draper.

Also, the Mad Men cast hit up the Today Show this AM to dish on Season 5.

Do excuse me while I go chain smoke cigarettes in anticipation of Sunday night. 

*Photos located via Google searches for "Mad Men Set," "Mad Men Cast," "Sally Draper." No photos belong to Middle Maintenance.