Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Product review- Minted artwork!

I have always love Minted products! They have everything from great quality paper goods (customized holiday cards, customized wedding cards, customized baby and kids cards, customized invites, etc), artwork to home and party decor, all sourced from independent, talented artists from around the world. So when I was contacted by Minted to receive a custom product from their artwork collection, of course I said yes!

Here are some of my favorite artwork from their collection!

Such gorgeous artwork, don't you think? Which one are you drawn to? Honestly, it took me a while to pick just one artwork for this review because I had so many favorites. In the end, I selected this print!

I picked a large 30"x 30" limited edition print by Molly Goodman. I decided to put it in my master bedroom across my bed so it's the first thing I see when I wake up every morning!

My print depicts a valley that lays below the tiny town of Pienza in Tuscany in the weeks between winter and spring when new grass is sprouting and old grass is falling away.

I picked the whitewashed herringbone frame for its modern rustic look.

A close-up of the whitewashed herringbone frame.

A close-up of my lovely print!

I absolutely adore my beautiful artwork! The image evokes a sense of peace and tranquility in a faraway land which I truly love. 

Printed on high quality paper with deluxe pigment ink, the small details and colors look sharp and vibrant. The frame, on the other hand was made from sustainable mango wood and was individually crafted so slight imperfections and variations in the arrowhead pattern was to be expected. I actually thought the little quirks are quite charming!

Condition wise, my print was carefully packed with layers of cardboard sheets and protective wraps so nothing was ruined during the delivery process. 

All in all, great artwork, wonderful materials, fast and careful shipping with plenty of design styles and picture frames to choose from, what's not to love about Minted?

Don't forget to visit their website to check out their fresh, stylish and affordable offerings when you have a moment!

Disclosure: I have received this product to review for free but the views and opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, October 19, 2015

How to choose a coffee grinder!

Flavor depends so much on the beans, so does it even matter which coffee grinder you choose?

Coffee geeks love to preach about the benefits of freshly ground coffee. It lasts longer, it tastes better, and it freezes better. In other words, pre-ground coffee and instant coffee just do not cut it. Clearly, not all coffee is created equal. But if you must go with coffee grinders, which one should you choose? Some must be better than others, after all. Here is a quick guide to choosing the right coffee grinder:

What You Should Know About Ground Coffee

One thing coffee and espresso aficionados can agree on is that the grinder really matters. Despite what you may think, the grinder can actually make a huge difference in the taste of your beverage. When shopping around for a coffee grinder, it pays to know a few facts about ground coffee.

1. The flavor of a coffee not only depends on the coffee plants and the roast, but also on the size of the coffee grinds. The larger the coffee ground, the longer it takes to extract the flavor.

2. Additionally, smaller coffee grounds have a greater chance of making their way into the cup, especially if you use a French press or similar method.

3. Also, the heat from a coffee grinder can affect the flavor of coffee grounds when it prematurely warms them.

4. Coffee and espresso must both be ground soon before brewing in order to preserve the taste, which may rule out some types of grinder, if you are a serious aficionado.

What to Look for When Buying a Coffee Grinder

There are a few considerations you should weigh when shopping for a grinder:


Some people may be surprised to learn that coffee grinders can cost lots and lots of money.

You can certainly find low-end coffee grinders for under $20 at major retailers, but there are also coffee grinders that cost more than $1,000. The true coffee geeks preach that these are the only way to go, but not everyone can put down that kind of money on a grinder.

Set aside a budget beforehand, and then think about your other options.

Grinder Mechanism

There are two types of grinder mechanisms: blades and burrs. Bladed grinders are the types of grinders that we commonly find in supermarkets and large retailers. These grinders operate much like the pulse mode on a blender – simply put the beans in, hold down the button, and wait a few seconds.

Burr grinders use either cone-shaped or flat-bladed burrs to spin coffee apart. Generally, conical burrs spin more slowly, so they transfer less heat to the beans when grinding them. However, the high-end flat-bladed grinders also have heat dissipation mechanisms inside, so these also lose minimal flavor.


Mid-level and high-end grinders also give you the option to change the coarseness of the grind. Stepped grinders come with pre-set grind levels, or steps. Each step falls somewhere between coarse and fine.

Stepless grinders simply have a range, without a pre-set step. Potentially, you can have an infinite number of settings with stepless grinders, though some may argue that you actually have less control over the final level of coarseness.

Do not think that just because a grinder is stepped that it has a small number of grind levels. Some of the higher end models can have 40, 50, or even more steps. This is more than enough to choose from, even from an avid aficionado.


In general, high-speed models are less expensive. They also transfer more heat to the beans while they are being ground, though. As mentioned, this can affect the flavor.

If you have the budget and want to really consider yourself a coffee fanatic, go for low-speed grinders. Some upscale models will allow you to adjust not only the fineness of the grind, but also the speed of the burrs. Blade grinders, which are typically low-end grinders, do not usually have these settings.


Dosers are additional features that automatically dispense a certain amount of coffee, or a “dose.” This gives you more precise control over the amount of beans, and, therefore, the flavor that will go into each cup.

These are very common in commercial settings, and you have almost certainly seen them in action at your local cafes.


Timers are mechanisms that give you even more control over the fineness and precision of your coffee grind. You set how long you want the grinding process to last, and the machine stops grinding when you tell it to.

There are two types of timers, precise and imprecise. Like stepless grinder, imprecise timers simply have a sliding scale that you adjust, while precise timers let you input the exact amount of time you would like to grind.

Grinding by Hand

Some grinders allow you to grind your own coffee by hand. But should you choose one of these hand grinders? As with electric grinders, they come at all price ranges, but they tend to be less expensive than the high-end electronic grinders.

Some coffee nerds feel that they take too long to grind, however. With espresso, you should be brewing within 30 to 45 seconds of the grind, so oxidation can start affecting the taste when you use a hand grinder.

The Brew

Will you be brewing espresso, coffee, or both? Espresso needs its grind to be fine and consistent. Unlike drip or press coffee, water is blasted through the grinds very quickly, so it has less time to extract the flavor.

For coffee, coarser grounds will do. There are coffee grinders that are specifically designed for espresso and some that are specifically designed for coffee. And then there are those that handle both.

Putting It All Together

When you add up all these factors, from the type of grind mechanism to the type of brew you will be drinking, you should have a pretty good idea of which type of coffee grinder is right for you.

The next step is to research the brands that fall within your price range and see which ones offer the features that you are after. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Functional home accessories with modern design - Tips for modern people!

Having a stylish and contemporary home is key to designing beautiful interiors, and the use of natural materials is a popular new trend. Returning to the basics of wood, stone and natural fabrics is the latest way to update home decor for a functional yet attractive appeal.

Top Functional Natural Kitchen Accessories

There are countless useful yet beautiful kitchen accessories made from natural materials that will improve the appearance of any kitchen and also make it a functional place to be. There has been a switch in recent times back to traditional wooden counter tops, and practical and durable wooden chopping boards, as well as stylish wooden bowls and serving implements are the ideal complement to these surfaces. Wooden trays are especially attractive and can be used for practical purposes as well as being stylish accessories. Naturehome has a range of gorgeous wooden design trays that would look great in any home. 

Beautiful Natural Bathroom Accessories 

Any bathroom can benefit from a natural makeover, and with the addition of a few stylish wooden accessories, it is easy to achieve a trendy contemporary feel. From wooden framed mirrors to wood medicine cabinets, there are a choice of finishes that will match any style of decor. For inexpensive natural touches, a wooden toilet brush holder, toothbrush holder and soap dish are perfect choices, and it is easy to find matching toilet roll holders, mugs and dispensers to complete the look. 

Natural Yet Practical Bedroom Accessories 

It is simple to bring a hint of nature into the bedroom with some stylish yet functional bedroom accessories. From wooden framed wall-mounted or free-standing mirrors to carved jewelry stands and hand cream dispensers, a natural themed bedroom is easy to achieve. Wooden candle holders and photo frames are simple to find in a range of stores, while wooden jewelry boxes, decorative trays and lamp stands are also functional yet inexpensive. 

Dining Room Natural Accessories

A wonderful complement to any natural wood dining suite, wood dining room accessories give a warm and pleasant feel to your eating environment. From wooden place mats to candle holders, and from wood framed wall clocks to coasters and carved fruit bowls, it is never been easier to give the home a modern and comfortable feel with stylish yet practical wooden accessories. 

Give The Study A Natural Makeover 

Combining a traditional wooden desk with wooden accessories with a contemporary twist is one of the best and inexpensive ways to give the study a practical yet natural boost. From wooden pen pots to wood mouse mats and storage boxes, it is a simple yet stylish solution.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Book review: Palm Beach Chic!

Recently, I have received another beautiful design book, Palm Beach Chic from The Vendome Press, thanks to Meghan Phillips. Authored by Jennifer Ash Rudick and photographed by Jessica Klewicki Glynn, this awe-inspiring book is a must-read!

In this stunning book, you will find brilliant photography of extraordinary homes, gardens and outdoor spaces with a tropical flair such as these!

I am absolutely in love with this gorgeous book and its abundance of swoon-worthy images! In this book, the author, a long-time Palm Beach resident leads us inside a tour of 25 remarkable residences including cottages, Moorish casbahs, artist' compounds, and Mad Men-era vintage condos, designed by world-class designers, architects and landscape designers. If you love fresh, breathtaking interiors and extraordinary gardens and pools, terraces and loggias, interior courtyards and lakeside pavilions with a Palm Chic flair, this is definitely the book for you.

This book is not only inspirational, it will transport you into the world of fantasy and paradise. With 312-pages of visually delightful and engaging content, this book is the ideal gift for all design fans. Truly a gem and shouldn't be missed! Highly recommended. Get your copy here.

*I received  this book to review for free but the views and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Choosing between wood and vinyl shutters for durability!

Making the choice to add shutters to your home is a great idea. It is an excellent way to add value to the property, as well as improving the look of the building and acting as an additional means of insulation. Once you have made the decision that you want to have shutters fitted, you have to make a choice between whether to opt for wood or vinyl.
You may want to take a look at board and batten shutters, to see the range of stylish shutters you can choose from. From a durability perspective, often people find vinyl shutters provide better value for money in the long term. Let us take a look at booth wooden and vinyl shutters and what they both have to offer.

Wooden shutters

The shutters you see on historic houses are traditionally made from wood. Many people who opt to have shutters fitted like the fact that wooden shutters have this historic feel about them. This does not necessarily make them the most practical choice, from a durability point of view. The main problem with wooden shutters is that they can have a tendency to warp and shrink over time.

This means that you can end up having to invest more money having them repaired or replaced. The paint or stain on shutters can also crack and peel. This can mean you have to spend a considerable amount of time on maintaining their condition; or that you have to pay someone to do the work for you.

Vinyl shutters

The major positive of investing in vinyl shutters for your home is that they do not lose their shape or condition in the way that wooden shutters can. Once you have the shutters fitted you are not going to have to spend extra money on having repair work completed. All you need to do is make sure they are kept clean.

Vinyl shutters also tend to be cheaper to purchase than wooden ones, which usually means they are the more cost effective option from every angle. If you are a traditionalist at heart then you need to remember that at the time those historic wooden shutters were used on homes there was no vinyl option. There is nothing wrong with moving on with the times.

You can see that from a durability point of view, vinyl shutters seem to be the best choice. One time when you may want to consider wood as a material for your shutters is if you want a greater level of customization. It is often easier to get a very specific shade or design if your shutters are made from wood.

This means that you can get a design of shutter that complements the design of your home. That being said you can also often achieve this with vinyl shutters; it depends on what color and design you want. And, at the end of the day, vinyl shutters are not as difficult or as expensive to maintain as wooden shutters.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Women’s Accessories For Any Occasion!

Falls fashion has never looked this good, but as always, it is the details that will make your outfit look like it is fresh off the runway. It can be hard to find the right accessories for the occasion at times, but these ten pieces will make sure that you will always have the right look regardless of the situation. 

The Fools Paradise Necklace by 32.4 

The Fools Paradise Necklace has it all- ease of wear, comfort, and style. Its sleek design makes it an ideal modern piece for a business suit, a focal point with a classic little black dress, and a perfect addition to a festival-ready outfit. Its modern simplicity is what makes it so totally versatile, and thats great news for the busy socialite whos constantly on the go.

Biddy Bye Bye Bracelet by Au Revoir Les Filles 

The Biddy Bye Bye Bracelet walks that fine line between urban streetwear and high end couture, which means that it is a sophisticated yet striking accessory that easily transitions from night to day. The bracelet is subtle enough to wear at work, yet still glamorous enough to get compliments when you are out at night. Considering that urban style has been gaining traction in high fashion recently, the Biddy Bye Bye can definitely be considered the perfect investment in your wardrobe.

The Killaflora Cuff by Au Revoir Les Filles 

For fans of fantasy novels, there are few cuffs that can compete with the fairylike appeal of the Killaflora Cuff. Its unusual juxtaposition of the beauty of mother nature and the danger of a gun makes it a thought-provoking accessory that will have people from all walks of life complimenting its unique statement. Since it does have an old schoolappeal, the Killaflora Cuff can easily transition from a creative professional outfit to a more Bohemian ensemble in a pinch. 

The Freedom Orange Bracelet by KT Jewel 

Resin jewelry always manages to grab attention simply due to its unique texture, but this orange bracelet really takes the cake in terms of eye-grabbing power. Its subtle Japanese influence, its beautiful salmon hue, and its decidedly old world appeal work well with both office outfits and more avant garde outfits.

Surrender Ring by Avoir Les Filles 

Sometimes, the smallest accents can turn an otherwise run-of-the-mill ring into an amazing statement piece. Avoir Les Filless stunning surrender ring uses a cabochon cut blue opal, a unique ring style, and a delicate chain to create an incredible sci-fi inspired masterpiece. This ring does not rely on being garish or gaudy to get attention; its creative design speaks for itself. As a result, it is a ring that works well with an incredibly wide range of outfits. 

Steph Black by AM Eyewear 

John Lennon-style round framed sunglasses have been making their rounds among major fashion runways lately, and that is a great thing. This ultra-flattering frame shape is ideal for creating a more angular visage, and its subtle accents make it easy to pair with any outfit. High fashion appeal has never been easier to attain! 

Predock Earrings by Holly Ryan 

Taking a cue from both chemistry and architecture textbooks are the Predock Earrings by jeweler Holly Ryan. Their geometric, chunky look is guaranteed to get attention without being garish. Conservative enough for high end business meetings, yet funky enough to fit with a punk rock-inspired outfit, it is impossible to find a situation in which these cute earrings would not impress.  

The Radiate Ring by KT Jewel 

For ladies who enjoy a chunkier ring that manages to be edgy while still remaining conservative enough for work, the Radiate Ring is an ideal choice. Whether you are looking to rock a biker-chic outfit, or you want to add a slick accessory to your workplace wardrobe collection, the Radiate Ring can handle it.  

The Luna Cross Body Bag by Sancia 

This bag is not for the fashionista whose goal is to blend in with the rest of the crowd. Instead, it is for the woman who wants to be noticed as the true fashion fiend she is. It is a design that goes with every occasions. Its oversized tassel adds an American Southwest appeal, a flirty kick, and a unique focal point. Its pillbox shape goes against the mainstream trend of Birkin-style bags. Overall, it is a one-of-a-kind bag that is bound to work with any outfit you want to create.  

32.4 by 1951 Ring 

Simple lines often are the best indicator that a ring will be versatile, and when it comes to versatility, few brands can show off talent like 1951 Ring. This simple yet beautiful dual-color Art Deco ring is a perfect touch for a modern outfit. Its design will never cause problem during outfit planning, and will always add that fashionably subtle touch of glamour regardless of the time of day.  

Author Bio: When Regina is not travelling or shopping, she often spends her time sharing her knowledge on fashion on the Ellia blog.