Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flash mob for change!

If you were presented with the opportunity to perform in a spontaneous flash mob or hide behind a video camera to record it, which would you choose? Tuesday night, I was standing high up on the Wakefield bandstand as a crowd gathered below me and started to dance to the tune of Katy Perry’s “Firework.” Having missed the two official rehearsals prior to our first ever mob dance, I felt much more comfortable capturing the scene on my camera than performing with what turned out to be quite an enthusiastic group! Today I created a video out of the footage and thankfully my teenage son was home to help me figure out how to do that : )

Note cards featuring the Wakefield common at sunset are available
through Gathering Change. All proceeds are donated to help
support neighbors in need.
Photo credit: Roy Goodwin

Gathering Change, Inc., along with performing random flash mob dances, collects spare change to help support local food pantries and social programs. All of our volunteer performers donated their time, and many brought bags full of change to yesterday’s get together. Thank you to everyone who was brave enough to get out there, and thank you to those who support Gathering Change by spreading the word (and liking us on Facebook ; )

Monday, June 27, 2011

The landscape tamer ...

Fire pit design and photo credit: DesignScapes by Drislane

How is your backyard looking? Mine appears to be awfully neglected these days. I have weeding to do, plants that need to be moved, retaining walls that need to be built, lawn furniture that needs to be dusted off ... oh, it is a long list! If only I could have someone come in and take care of it all for me.

Photo credit: DesignScapes by Drislane

If I ever did actually hire someone, I would call Chris Drislane of DesignScapes. I recently interviewed him for an article about his business on Lynnfield Patch. Read it here. Along with a solid education in landscape design, he has the eye of an artist (plus a crew and lots of heavy machinery) and can transform any outdoor space into a backyard oasis. I can only imagine how nice it would be afterwards, to simply go outside, put my feet up on the lounge chair (with drink in hand) and just enjoy the well-manicured view!

Do you like to enlist help or do-it-yourself when it comes to landscape design?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The gift of wine

“I have something for you! my younger sister exclaimed with a twinkle in her eye one Friday night when I was over her place for a visit. “What? It isn’t even my birthday?” I replied. We were sitting in her kitchen enjoying drinks and snacks. She got up quickly and disappeared into her pantry. When she returned, she handed me a tall green bottle (ooh, my favorite type of gift!) and she said with a grin, “I saw this and thought of you.” Here is what the label on the back said ...

How often do people tell you what they really think of you or how they see you, and then hand you a bottle of wine? Usually a few drinks come first before the compliments ; ) While I wouldn’t consider myself a drama queen, I do like her outfit the best of all the other Middle Sisters in the wine’s lineup of characters (check them out here) and I do like social events, and fashion shows, and fundraisers ... hmmm. Just to be sure, I took a test on the website to determine which Middle Sister I really am (I actually discovered I am a Smarty Pants, so there, although I might have some Goodie Two Shoes in me, too : ) The Middle Sisters, whose motto is “there’s a bit of middle sister in all of us, even have a cute blog with random – and funny – posts from each of the wine girls, like the time Drama Queen was caught out in public wearing Crocs (she wasn’t happy about it!)

While on the site, I discovered that the Middle Sisters donate to organizations that support and promote sisterhood like Dress for Success and Wine, Women & Shoes, which produces socially engaging events that combines – you guessed it – shoes, wine and girlfriends to raise funds for women and children’s causes. Well, I’ll drink to that!

And while I don’t have a large supply of either shoes (I’m too practical for that) or wine in my house (if I buy it, I drink it ; ) I do think this t-shirt that Linda Smith picked out to sell at New England Fine Living is kinda cute. It is available in-store or online and will be seen in the next issue of New England Finery Magazine which, BTW, I am working on as we speak! Look for it hopefully by the end of June along with a new website devoted just to New England Finery. Obviously I have a lot of work to do over the next five days, so unfortunately I will have to keep my wine drinking to a minimum ; )

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Time for summer fun ...

Summer vacation has begun and it’s time to celebrate! There is always something fun to do in the summer. Even just sitting outside, enjoying a snack, and talking with friends can be enough to make most of us happy. Although a little music wouldn’t hurt ...

Boston has a great summer concert series including live music at lunch time and concerts under the stars, all presented for free. The Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf will be hosting the band Joey Scott and the Connection from 6pm to 10pm tonight as part of its Wednesday night Timeless Tunes series. For more info on other free music events scheduled just outside of this gorgeous waterfront hotel this summer, click here.

Check your local town listings and see what is happening this summer in your community, or simply grab a picnic blanket, a friend or two, and some favorite portable tunes to stage a small concert of your own ; )

Monday, June 20, 2011

Decorating with Mother Nature ...

I love this photo, not only for the abundance of home decor items that are clearly inspired by the beauty of nature, but for the almost hidden reflection of my mom in the mirror. She is clearly enjoying our visit to a local flower shop (Gregory’s in Wakefield).

My garden room with its wall of shrub roses and wisteria.

With the official beginning of summer upon us, thoughts naturally turn to spending more time in the company of Mother Nature. Take a peek at my recent post for Lynnfield Patch for some inspired tips to get out there and get gardening!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Andover Room and Gifford Events

Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Andover, MA

Early this spring, I helped out with an event at The Andover Room at the Saints Constantine and Helen Church in Andover, Massachusetts. Coordinated by Laura Gifford of Gifford Events, this “Spring in Bloom open house was extended to Andover and surrounding communities to showcase what an event held at The Andover Room (which can accommodate up to 250 guests) is like. Tables were set with spring-green linens from Peterson Party Center Special Events Rental, flower arrangements were provided by Les Fleurs of Andover, and there were a number of raffled items including an interior paint color consultation donated by yours truly. Lots of delicious food was served by A Day to Remember Catering along with Ipswich Clambake, and invited guests had the opportunity to mingle and network while listening to live music by pianist John D’Ambrosio.

I brought my sister – who lives nearby – and we met fashion coach Susan Kanoff there (see a photo of us all together in this Andover Patch article). Susan has been featured in New England Finery and has been a regular on my blog (see related posts) and I knew her and my sis would hit it off since Linda always looks impeccable and her closet is beyond organized! We also ran into another friend of mine, Suzanne Roche, who I used to work with at Mullen when I was in advertising full-time. Suzanne now works for Northshore Magazine and I run into her quite often now at events like this one. That’s part of the reason why I love attending so many of these social occasions ... chances are always good that I will see someone I know or meet someone interesting : )

Event specialist Laura Gifford (in silver)

Below are a few images from Peterson Party Center for those of you daydreaming about hosting a future event of your own. And if you would like more information about The Andover Room, or having your event coordinated by Gifford Events, contact Laura Gifford, Event Specialist, at 978.761.0216 or email

For a large gathering I prefer the Crystal Ballroom Chair
like we chose for the “Spring in Bloom
event, but for a more
intimate setting I would love to use the
Mirage Chair.

Hybrid Frame Tent

When we finally host our backyard/barn summer bash, this is how
I would like it to look (but with room for a dance floor, of course!)

Did you know you can rent candelabras? These are just
$12 each, and will add a touch of elegance to any event.

And if you are hosting a big event and are concerned about
not having enough matching plates for everyone, consider renting
the exact amount of sets you need. Best part is you won’t have to
worry about finding a place to store them all afterwards!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Celebrating life North of Boston

There is a lot of stylish shopping to be found in the suburbs North of Boston. Last Thursday, the fab marketing pros at In Full Force showcased a large group of North Shore shopping venues – including New England Fine Living – under a festively-lit white party tent at the Newburyport Harbor Marina.

Despite a pre-show fast moving thunder and lightning storm (which felt something like a mini-tornado and even lifted part of the tent right off the ground) North Shore women still arrived in record numbers to sample some of the best shopping, summer fashion, food and beauty products offered on the North Shore.

New England Fine Living
Linda Smith set up several vignettes

showcasing her design aesthetic

Stationery by Nicole Mitsakis of BeeCustom Design

Sparkly gift items from Mason & Madison

Skinny Dip and fashion presented by
lifestyle designer Amy McLaughlin

Runway fashion show hosted by Amy McLaughlin (in green)
with 2010 Miss Massachusetts Lacey Wilson (in pink)

The next In Full Force event will be at Burtons Grill at the North Shore Mall on Thursday, June 16th from 6pm to 9pm. There will be a sampling of wine and steak provided along with a presentation of gift ideas for Father’s Day and complimentary spa treatments for guests. I have been to these events before, and they are a great evening for networking with local businesses and checking out new shopping resources.

To attend: RSVP to

Like In Full Force on facebook for more information on this and other fabulous events of theirs in and around the Boston area.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Northshore Magazine Cup at Myopia Polo

Have you ever attended a polo match? Right here in New England, we have the rare distinction of being home to the oldest active polo club in America. Since 1887, Myopia Polo Club in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, has been hosting polo tournaments on Gibney Field, including the first formal intercollegiate game between Harvard and Yale back in 1907.

Liz White of Mason & Madison with
Linda Smith of New England Fine Living

Last Sunday, the inaugural Northshore Magazine Cup took place on a cool and sunny late spring afternoon. For just $10 per person – with children under 12 admitted for free – spectators could put down a picnic blanket, or sit and tailgate with friends, surrounded by towering evergreens, crisp blue skies and a well-dressed crowd. Both Linda Smith and I happened to have a free afternoon, so we parked along the field with a picnic basket filled with refreshing beverages and light snacks, then later socialized under the tent with some of our Northshore friends.

Some of the Northshore’s best players and “ponies” charged up and down the field at a lively pace in an attempt to knock a small white ball through the opposing teams end posts. Each match lasts about one and one-half hours and is divided into periods called “chukkers. The game is officiated by two umpires who ride alongside the four players from each team, with one referee positioned at midfield. Watching these amazingly graceful competitors maneuver the 300 yard long field is a site to behold. Just the sound of them galloping, turning, stopping and starting is equally moving. These horses are bred to love the game and they want to win!

Families, pets and all age groups are welcome spectators at this friendly “game of kings.Half-time offers an opportunity for the crowd to get out on the field and mingle with one another while assisting in a bit of field maintenance by searching for, and stomping back into place, clumps of grass or “divots kicked up by the horses hooves.

Closing remarks were delivered by Richard Sedler of Northshore Magazine and the winner’s cup was awarded to the Blue Team.
I was happy to see that this is an equal opportunity game, with a number of women skillfully competing for each side.

Matches are held at Myopia Polo Club on Sundays throughout the summer and conclude with the “Last Chukkers Cup on October 2nd. Click here for more information and to view the current schedule. I just may have found my new favorite sport!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Weathering the storms

Chives blossom in a galvanized tub.

A poppy posie with perennials from my garden.

With yesterday’s threatening weather here in Massachusetts, I decided this morning that I would try to focus on what I can control in my life. Sometimes it is hard to see the big picture, or know what the future holds, but I can pay attention to and celebrate what is in front of me. After dropping my children off safely at school, I returned to the shelter of my home, with its roof securely attached, stepped outside into my debris-free backyard, where the hundred-year-old pines where still standing, and looked up at the clear blue sky and breathed in the cooled off air. I snipped some flowers from my admittedly neglected gardens and gathered them for the photo above. Sometimes I forget how much beauty is around me. Today was the perfect time to take a moment and be thankful for it.

Even though I feel like I am going through a transitional phase in my life and am experiencing more stress and uncertainty than usual, I am grateful that the problems I am faced with are not the unimaginable ones. What would you do if the roof of your home blew off? If all the contents of your life were pulled out of context and went swirling up into the sky only to land miles away from where you put them last? How would you react if you were given a brief warning period to “take cover?” What would you try to save? Who would you most want to protect?

Yesterday, I spent the day glued to my twitter stream, where I first heard about the impending tornadoes, and later spent hours in front of the television, snuggled tightly on the couch with my boys all around me, as we kept an eye on what Mother Nature was doing to the cities and towns not that far away from us. Earlier, I had texted my husband, “Where are you?” When he told me he was working in Hopkington, which was one of the Western Massachusetts towns on the take cover list, I ordered him to stay put until the storm passed. Of course he joked that they were about to get on the road and do some storm chasing, but he did manage to get home without incident despite the swirling winds and pounding rain. I honestly did not rest until the lightening showers ended which was pretty close to midnight.

Even with all of the advance notice, that a tornado may strike, how did I spend those eight or so hours? Mostly too worried to do anything productive. My main concern was that my family was safely at home. Did I pack up some family photos just in case I had to bring them down into the basement with us? Yes. Did I stop when I ran out of room in the suitcase? Yes. I decided I’d rather just sit with my kids until the storm passed than run around like a crazy person trying to preserve memories “just in case.” Because what really matters is people and not things. Just being there for each other, through good times and bad, sometimes has to be enough. None of us know when we will be face to face with a “state of emergency,
and sometimes even when we have been given notice, there is nothing more we can do than take one day, one hour or one breath at a time.