Saturday, October 30, 2010

Some treats from New England Fine Living

Decorating idea: create a burlap runner, fray ends

Artichoke Lemon Pesto: a delicious hostess gift

A candy tower from The Dazzling Dot

Looking for costume jewelry this weekend?

{photo from NEFL website}

Aspen Mulling Spices
for hot and cold drinks

New England Fine Living
is open today until 4pm

Mark your calendar for next Saturday, Nov. 6th

Open House 10am to 4pm

For daytime vendor information click here.
Then join us from 7pm to 9pm for a festive

New England Fine Living
Pre-Holiday Party

I would love to see you there!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Playing dress-up ...

The beautiful and magical Glinda, “the good witch
from the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz

Yesterday I took my littlest three guys to the Halloween store to pick out costumes for this weekend’s trick-or-treating adventures.

After over a decade of celebrating this be-whomever-you-want-to-be fantasy holiday with children of my own, I now have plenty of suitable costumes on hand for boys only (with the exception of my
childhood costumes, which I have been
saving for way too long now!)

In stock, I currently have three pirate suits,
at least four ninja costumes, numerous skeletons, assorted Power Rangers, a variety of Batmen (both classic and dark) and a make-shift Robin (very hard to find a
Boy Wonder costume for some reason.)

One neighbor hands out candy the easy way

Hunting for an age-appropriate costume seems to be our biggest challenge these days. Walking past aisle after aisle of gruesome get-ups and “don’t go there, that’s the grown up section
made me long for
the times when I got to choose the costume.

My favorites are still home-made bunny with felt carrot from year one and bright and cuddly Tigger from year two. Now that everyone is old enough to use their own imagination when it comes to dressing up, I usually brace myself for the worst,
then try to talk them out of the costumes
that are too ugly to photograph.

This year we actually came to a costume compromise where I gave my approval to classic white face masks (that will be accessorized with black capes that we already have), one doctor’s overcoat, some bloody gauze and one weapon of destruction (I lost that battle!) Of course when we returned home, my youngest decided he no longer wanted the white mask, but instead was inspired to recycle an ensemble of all black items discovered in the costume bin (which
was what I wanted to do in the first place!)

Last year’s loot, artfully arranged

After enduring the chaos of situating everyone with their costumes, I sat down at the computer to check e-mails, etc. I ended up receiving a special treat ...

My submission to the DesignSherpaWhat inspires you?” contest has officially been posted as one of the top 100 entries! This is the big news I mentioned awhile back. I am actually in the running to win a really cool prize which I am still almost
too afraid to say out loud! Curious?

Click two times ...

{Ruby slippers available at Toys R Us}

I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween
filled with more treats than tricks!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Overflowing fall arrangements

Last night Bert Ford of The Ford Flower Company in Salem, NH was the guest speaker at the Village Garden Club of Lynnfield. He is a new favorite of ours ... he shows up with buckets full of flowers, foliage, stalks and more then proceeds to whip up a half dozen or so over-the-top arrangements while entertaining us with his musings on the art of floral design. He always provides us with new ideas on how to put together stunning arrangements using the latest trends in
color combinations and container styles.

For this autumn cornucopia, Bert used floral foam both inside and at the top of the midpoint of the woven container. He cut the pink roses down to about a couple of inches and added them in clusters for more impact. Ornamental kale, sheaths of wheat grass and miniature white pumpkins keeps this non-traditional color palette looking autumn appropriate.

A wide wicker basket (it was around 2 1/2 feet across) is filled with PeeGee hydrangeas, pine cones, green apples, pears, hypernicum berries, ornamental kale, and grasses along with fresh lilies and “permanent Gerbera daisies. I can picture this at the back of a buffet or in front of a fireplace. An arrangement like this is likely to last a few weeks or more.

A trick that is a treat:
Bert used a floral foam “hat” on top of this uncarved muted colored pumpkin. The foam has a hole in the center, it goes on top of the pumpkin like a beret, and the stem secures it in place. Next, fake moss is glued to the foam. All floral added to this foam piece – from the Chinese lanterns to the Gerbera daisies to the red berry clusters – are fake so it will last from season to season. Simply remove the floral hat and store it till next year. No carving and no water required! The pumpkin sits within a wreath of red berries for additional color and visual balance.

Square containers are still very popular in floral design, however, utilizing horizontal branches placed radially in the arrangement adds movement to the design while creating a wider display. The curious creatures seen here were fashioned out of apples and pears that were spray painted black. Hypernicum berries were used for the eyes (use a pin to attach to the fruit) and thick grasses (also spray painted)
were used for legs. They are inserted into the
arrangement using black floral pics.

A carved pumpkin can hold a tall vase of flowers as this one does (a Village Garden Club member brought this decorative centerpiece to our meeting).

A footed dish with a display of oranges was a nice
autumn-colored touch on the refreshment table.

The Ford Flower Company
is holding
their annual

Holiday Open House

Saturday, November 20, 2010
from 8am to 5pm

Sunday, November 21, 2010
from 11am to 4pm

Refreshments will be served and a 25% discount
on holiday merchandise will be offered.

Call 603-893-9955 for more information

Monday, October 25, 2010

Designing an exercise plan ...

This weekend, I actually went out and stocked up on some comfortable yoga wear, a new core stability ball, and some fancy work out sneakers. I even got on the treadmill (see New Years Resolution #6)! My goal is to incorporate more body conscious activity into my daily routine. With all the time I spend at a computer, my back was feeling a little creaky. After one session of doing back bends over the ball (which is basically just lying down on it) I felt 100x better the next day! Plus I figure if I am wearing work out clothes while hanging around the house, I will probably feel more like dropping into a downward dog every now and then. And at the very least, if I incorporate sitting on the stability ball during my hour or so of television viewing at the end of the day (just trying to keep up with The Nate Show takes a good 4–5 hours a week) I will be working out without even trying! There is even a ball stabilizer kit available that can transform the ball into a desk chair. It is a look that would never make it into an interior design magazine, but it is something to think about for those of us committed to daily exercise with the least amount of effort : )

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fashionably late ...

I am still a little tired after attending last night’s Fashionably Late event in Boston at The Liberty Hotel. My darling niece, Taryn, was one of the models sporting designer clothing from National Jean Company and J Brand jeans along with some killer bags by Romygold at this Boutique Week event.
The show itself did not go on until 10pm and I did
not get home until well after 1:30am, so this post
will be more pictures than prose today!

The models arrived via escalator to then perch on tiny table tops scattered throughout the 2nd floor lounge at The Liberty after their initial catwalk around the perimeter of the 3rd floor walkway. Taryn was our favorite model, of course, but they all looked pretty good in their well-tailored jeans and casual layering.

How cute is she??!

The girls I sipped champagne with ...
Kathleen, Deborah (Taryn’s mom
and my sister-in-law), Maryann

In the crowd: Justin Brinkmeyer wearing a shirt
from his BeautyDesigned collection (find it here).

Taryn and I after the show
(with more champagne!)

To see a clip of Taryn modeling an outfit from
participating Thirty Petals Boutique on FoxNews
during a Boutique Week segment, click here.

Feel like shopping? Find out which fashionable
Massachusetts shops are offering special
Boutique Week discounts by clicking here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sparkly and sophisticated ...

Each week I stop by New England Fine Living to check out the new items that have arrived since my last visit. Occasionally I am dropping off design items of my own, but this week I was just popping in to say “hi to the owner, Linda Smith. Great news did arrive recently — the shop has been nominated for an award from the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and will be judged in two categories, “Creative Concepts in Retailing” and “Visual Display.” Every time I go in, the store looks fresh and the inventory is always put together in charming vignettes (my favorite part of design!) Linda has a way of showcasing the variety of offerings in the best possible light. Here are some displayed items that caught my eye ...

Fashionable “Style Pics” from Jennifer Scala

Houndstooth Footstool by Paula Savage

Carpet Coasters from First Oriental Rugs of Danvers

Decorative objects from a number of vendors

Art on a bottle by Jack Walsh of Dancing Sand

Do these guys look familiar?

Plates from Neptune 1 Studios
featuring the Lee Mansion

Historical design side note: Click here for a video tour of the Jeremiah Lee Mansion in Marblehead, Massachusetts. These decoupage plates were designed using images from the hand-painted 18th century English wallpaper that is still on the walls. It is the oldest paper of its kind in existence!

If you live locally, you can visit the Lee Mansion through October. We went one year with our garden club and toured both inside and out. The grounds in June (as shown in the photo above) were beautiful!

And please let me know if you get a chance
to visit New England Fine Living!

Located at 106 South Main St., Middleton, MA

Open Wed. – Sat. from 10am – 5pm
Sunday from 10am – 4pm
Other days/times by appointment.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jewelry for a cause ...

Today I’d like to share with you the reason why I am a JessLC Ambassador. After seeing many design blogs sporting the JessLC ad banner, then reading about the jewelry line and it’s creator, Jess Constable, I found myself following Jess’s blog on a daily basis to see what she was up to next ... I was curious about her upcoming design collections, but I was also hooked on her “this is what is happening in my life right now” authenticity. The way she candidly shares her ups and downs along with the lessons she has learned on her journey as a jewelry designer, business person, and unique individual had me hooked!

And the fact that she created a line of jewelry to promote and benefit social causes was just what I was looking for as a fund-raising item for a local charity that I am involved with, Gathering Change, Inc. The logo that I designed for Gathering Change has a heart at its center, and the charity’s mission is to help neighbors who are struggling during these challenging economic times. The Good Intention Necklace that Jess has designed is the perfect match for future fund-raising events, and 10% of the sale of each necklace would be donated directly to Gathering Change. I think it would make a thoughtful gift and be a nice way to give to others at the same time. Below are a few more pieces that I love from different collections that Jess has designed.

Franklin Dream Bigger Braille Necklace

I LOVE this design concept! “Dream Bigger” is actually imprinted in braille on this piece (other pieces include
Breathe and “Be Present). How cool to be able to use a necklace as a touchstone!

This bracelet is pretty, delicate and strong ...
and it also comes in sterling silver.

Division Chevron Earrings

The chevron is a popular design trend right now.
It always looks stylish and energetic!

Armitage Simple Cable and Link Bracelet

I love how this bracelet combines both
gold and silver.
It is a great everyday piece
that would look good on anyone.

Jess started designing and selling jewelry at the age
of 15 (read her story here) and her passion for her product is obvious.
Read more about Jess and the inspiration behind her designs by checking out her blog, Makeunder My Life. While you are there, be sure to check up on her friend and guest blogger, Piper Toth, who has taken the leap to create a business of her own, named after her blog One Sydney Road.

If you would like to be a Jess LC Ambassador,
contact Jess at

I love being able to support other creative people
like Jess, who are doing what they love and
are inspiring others to do the same!