100 Beautiful Engagement Rings on a Happy Budget

Blaise & I have been tossing around the idea of our engagement ring.

It’s a happy, bright moment around here! But when he talks about the thousands of dollars he wants to invest in a diamond, I’m jolted by a slight shock that runs through every nerve in my body. This little ring, a big symbol of our love & commitment, could potentially be a trip across the world, a kitchen remodel, an investment portfolio, or heck, even a nice portion of a down payment for a house we could share with our friends & family. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE a beautiful diamond as much as the next girl, but I definitely love the beauty of the memories we could make more! So I’ve done some extensive research, & here’s my little {ha!} round up of classy, alternative rings for a unique bride-to-be, that fits every tier of a budget under $1,000 with grace. You’ll find gemstones, alternative natural stones, & options that I’ve never even thought of, mostly curated from Etsy artists. Don’t forget, there’s always the opportunity to replace the center stone with a diamond when you hit the jackpot. Enjoy!

Hop over to my Engagement Rings on a Budget pinboard to find the links for them all, & more.
Cheers! Court

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A Designer’s At Home Try-On Marathon with Warby Parker, Rivet & Sway, & Fetch Eyewear

“The main thing is to
have personal integrity.

Oh, & traditional graphic design
ruined my 
eyesight.”
— Neville Brody in How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul

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My “designer eyes” are burning! Any other designer out there who leaves work at the end of the day & feels like your contacts have affixed to your eyes with a permanent, stinging, toxic glue? That’s this girl. This designer. Especially living in Colorado, the dry air mixed with staring intensely (on a teeny pixel-grid level) at a 27 inch iMac for 8+ hours is really tough on the eyes.
Enter, the quest to find the perfect pair of !designer approved! specs. 
I’ve recently endured a whirlwind of a marathon trying on 17 different pairs of frames from three different stylishly hipster eyewear companies. Warby Parker, Rivet & Sway, & Fetch Eyewear.
Here’s a quick glance and synopsis of my trial with each company :

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Warby Parker has this at home try-on packaging, shipping, & style thing down. I love their site’s design, even their cart & email design, as well as their perfectly packaged shipping box. The frames all fit wonderfully, I was thrilled! Next to wonderful eyeglass designs, I love that they support sight & proper vision care in communities around the world who can’t afford prescription glasses. A win-win!

I love that Rivet & Sway has a direct sense of design for women, a beautiful site & package design, plus a discount program. However, it was hard for me to get excited to shop with them over the other two companies who give back to charity. When I received my at home try on, the frames weren’t labeled, so I had to go back to my online order to decipher which frames carried which names, a little frustrating, but not too bad. The fit wasn’t for me either, but I also have a very unusual face – & that’s most certainly not their fault, ha!.

I was initially super, super excited about Fetch. Since animals are my heart, I was really hoping to be able to find my perfect pair & help support the Pixie Project. I also love their design, and friendliness! Awesome logo, btw. Unfortunately, 6 of the 8 frames I took interest in on their site weren’t available for an at home try-on. I went ahead and ordered some not-so loved frames to see if I could wiggle my way into a pair I never would’ve known I liked – but to no success. Some of the frames were a little thicker than I prefer, and the proportions felt a little awkward for my awkward face (wink, wink). I still love everything about them! Maybe after a while I’ll check back in to see if I can snag my fave frames for a try on after all.

So which won the battle? Dadadadrrrrumroll please … after 17 pairs….
Here’s the winner below… it’s Begley, from Warby Parker! I love the ginormous round shape – perfect for scanning all areas of my gigantic computer screens without the confines of tightly built frames. Plus, they somehow work with my huge cheeks. See how excited I am? Woo!

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Phew! Hope this helps other designers with burning eyes – a little insider info. Are there any other eyewear companies out there that designers love?
Cheers! Court

Pantone Home Colors : Navy & Indigo

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Ever since I discovered the Pantone Universe at Lowe’s, I’ve been thinking of the rest of my world in coated and uncoated swatches. What’s that? You do too!!? Let’s party sometime.

Recently, Blaise and I have made the {somewhat happy, somewhat melancholy} decision to stay in our Boulder condo for a little longer before moving into our dream home in Denver. I’m making the most of it, and tossing some color around to give the place a few accents & polish (SO excited!). My first hue I’ve been dreaming of while creating our home’s color palette is navy, more so indigo – but of a very rich night-skyish hue.
The first image is my absolute favorite, somewhere between navy and purple – the perfect energetic indigo.  The middle is a little wacky, but bright and crisp. You gotta love the pop of hot pink and coral orange against the deep blue. The last is a warmer navy accented with gold, and {hooray} chi mirrors! I’m thinking that exact thing, to bring my chi mirrors in for a glow against the blue to keep it light and prismatic.

You can find all these images and many more on my Pinterest board Pantone Home : Home Color Palettes »
Enjoy, & cheers!

Help Animals Find Homes with some Photo Mojo

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I should preface this post with an unavoidable statement : I LOVE LOVE LOVE animals. They are my chosen cause, my absolute heart, & yep – I’m one of those crazy people who adores my three pets as my children. That being said, the last thing I want to be here is preachy about anything, because photographing pets for my local humane society is one of the most fun, & rewarding projects I’ve been a part of since I’ve moved to Colorado.
Did you know that almost every animal shelter needs help with photography for their animals? Times have changed from the days of prospective pet parents taking a very thoughtful trip to the humane society where they’d walk by the kennels, meet big brown eyes, & feel their hearts melt. Nowadays, these same future parents can search on a website, scrolling along hundreds of photos in hopes to virtually “connect” with an animal’s “mugshot” in just seconds.
I never knew until I started volunteering for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, that 95% of the photos on the website are snapped in haste the moment the animal arrives at the shelter. This means that whatever terrifying journey the animal had been through would be written all over their face & posture. With one click, they’ll represent a false nature to the world on the shelter’s site. This is where anyone, regardless of whether you have a point & shoot or a fancy DSLR, can step in and change the world. YES, I just said that! It is a small world, after all – and you can save animals one life at a time with a great photograph. You’ll probably save the human in many ways too – it’s true!
We usually spend 3-4 hours on a Sunday, in a little room we’ve set up at the shelter with makeshift can lights. We hope to shoot up to 10 cats (it’s very strange how un-photogenic cats can be…) and we always shoot the long term residents who may not have put their best paw forward with their initial web picture. After lots of love + trial & error, my heart is so happy to be able to announce, that regardless of how long a cat has been at the shelter, almost every cat we’ve taken a “model” picture of has been adopted in just a handful of days!
Here’s a collection of my fave moments. More after the gallery of these beauties…

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Can you believe that these sweet angels weren’t adopted before we photographed them? My goal as the cat photographer is to capture a moment of their unique personalities. Did you (by any chance) feel certain emotions arise when you saw each picture? That’s the magic. That is SUCH a HUGE part of what helps these amazing pets find their forever homes. Dogs, rabbits, mice, ferrets, & all the other animals at the shelter need help too – I just have such a soft spot in my heart for these cats who needed more photographers at our shelter.
If you’re feeling inspired & would love to get involved, simply contact your local humane society and let them know you’re interested in volunteering for animal photography. If you’re a professional photographer, most shelters will even let you watermark your photos with your logo!
Trouble finding one? Check out Petfinder.com to locate your closest shelter.
If you’re adventurous enough to try it out, let me know how everything goes. I’d love to hear about your journey!
…And saving the best for last, here’s my favorite model-kitty Smoky, who was at the shelter for a very long time, but just a few days after this centerfold shot, he was happily adopted! I love his confident, smug pose. Doesn’t he look like he’s on a beach with a Mai Tai?
Cheers, Court

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Ring, Ring, Resolutions

Design-Wine-Sunshine-2014-ResolutionsEnjoy this yoga shot and many more inspiring images on Vickerey’s Beautiful Yoga Pinterest board »

Happy 2014! I know resolutions can be bogus sometimes, but I like to keep mine very positive, nurturing, & exciting so they’re something to look forward to. My most-loved resolution this year is to spend tons more time with friends. Last year, Blaise and I were so busy most of our off-time was spent trying to have a date night, but it usually wound up being a work “meeting” anyway. It was nuts. This year we’re vowing to spend more time with the ones we love, near and far.
Next – and also a very lovable idea is to get my wino-ass on the yoga mat at least once a week. Yoga is so purifying, it’s a miracle for wine lovers! Especially after/before a cup of this Yogi Detox Tea. The truth is in that combination, y’all – I swear by it. My goal is to achieve a dancer pose as beautiful as the one above, and perhaps hang out in crow pose for more than 2 seconds.
Other ideas that I’m intrigued by are …
Finally finishing my portfolio < note to my young graphic design student self 6 years ago – don’t wait a half a decade to create your folio, Court! >, discover & report here on the magical city of Boulder & Denver Colorado, take more pictures, continue traveling & exploring, hang + make more art, throw more parties, get back into the Humane Society & take more pictures of adoptable cats, hike the Rockies with my hilarious family as much as possible, find time for picnics, write more hand written hellos, annnnnd try more white wine – I’m a total red fiend so this will probably be my most difficult (wink,wink).

What are your resolutions for 2014?

Pantone Home : OscarPRGirl’s Hampton Cottage

Design-Wine-Sunshine-Pantone-Home-Elle-Decor Another Pantone Home to enjoy, it’s OscarPRGirl’s south Hampton cottage. LOVin’ the tiger painting, and the bold use of black & white – such a legendary pair. There are many more amazing sights to see from the latest edition of Elle Decor, found via Elements of Style. That teal sings an emerald tune – cheers to the color of the year!