Sunday, December 30, 2012

A new approach for 2013

“Take a look at the assets you have and see how you can remix them to build something you are excited about. Experiment. Try new things. Tell a new story. It can make a huge difference.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My New Dining Room!

What do you think?! If I could choose a mini-home-makeover as a gift this holiday season, I would go for the dining room. It is the one space where we gather as a family every day. I want it to sparkle again! These items are now on my holiday wish list courtesy of Olioboard. I will let you know if Santa delivers  : )

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Earlier this month, Gathering Change, Inc., a charity formed four years ago by friends of mine (I serve on the board as Creative Director), was invited to attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women as one of the benefitting charities in their Community Corner.

This was the first year that the Community Corner was present at this all day conference in Boston that attracts some pretty amazing movers and shakers (around 8,000 women – plus some very brave men – attended on December 6th, the 8th year since its inception in 2005).

The theme of the day was “Imagine: Find Your Purpose and Make a Difference.” 

Along with a couple of other charitable organizations presenting volunteer opportunities, we were able to share information with conference attendees who stopped by to visit our table in between scheduled lectures presented throughout the day by an inspiring roster of formidable guest speakers.

Arianna Huffington, Dr. Brene Brown, Deepak Chopra and other thought leaders and social influencers were there to encourage and challenge women to step forward and make their mark on the world. They even had a Bloggers’ Lounge and a number of social media roundtables with notable bloggers like Morra Aarons-Mele, author of “Women and Leadership in the Digital Age” and one of my local design favorites, Erin Gates of Elements of Style whose “I’ve got to be honest” conversational tone on her daily blog completely translated in real life. 

I attended as many of the presentations as I could, while still spending some time in the Community Corner with the founder and President of Gathering Change, Dorothy Goodwin. While listening to the positive messages, moving stories, and words of wisdom from keynote speakers and others, I scribbled notes that I planned to pull together later for a motivational post or article. I did not realize at the time that many of the words I jotted down would speak so clearly to me after the emotional roller coaster that I, like so many of us, have been on since Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

Below are just my scribbled notes – tidbits really (hopefully I am attributing the right comments to the right speakers). Perhaps some of the messages will speak to you as well. They are in the order that I heard them.  

Charlotte Beers, hailed as the most powerful woman in advertising and current board member at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia: Be leaderly. Step outside your comfort zone. Influence others. Be in charge. Be memorable. Be persuasive. Know yourself and deliver your message with personal clarity.

Marla Capozzi, knowledge management specialist and member of the Massachusetts Counsel for Innovation: We are all connected to each other. Reach out and make changes.

Dr. Brene Brown, research professional and author focusing on shame, vulnerability, worthiness, and courage: Ask for what you need. Most of us are afraid and brave at the same time. Show up and be seen. Dare greatly. A leader will find potential in others. 

Deepak Chopra, M.D., renowned physician and author on topics of mind-body health, spirituality and peace: Our global identity is influenced by technology and connection. Our survival depends on a new identity. We need a wisdom based society that is peaceful, just, and sustainable. A great leader is symbolic of the collective consciousness, an agent for change and transformation. Ask, what kind of world do I want to live in? Be aware, dream, and do. Use social media to harness the power of the collective consciousness to change consciousness.

Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post: How we feel depends on what we focus on. Don’t wait for Washington to solve our problems. Do something. Use communication platforms. We all have the opportunity to reach others. Service and giving back are the zeitgeist – the spirit of our times. Finding meaning in our lives is coming to the forefront right not. It will change the world. (Of note: Arianna’s dedicated Good News section on Huffington Post is designed to provide a sense of optimism by highlighting positive stories that often get overlooked by the media’s traditional approach of report-the-worst-first. She was also quite adamant that we should all get enough rest.) 

Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, co-founder of Vera Bradley: Form happiness committees. Giving to others provides the most joy.

Connie Smith, Creative Expressions Coordinator at the Women’s Lunch Place, Boston: I never realized how powerful art could be. Meditative work and creating art can save lives.

Kristin Chenoweth, singer, actor, author: What is your next purpose? What is your inner voice saying? Listen. How do you want to leave your mark and say “I was here?


Thursday, December 13, 2012

On my wish list ...

I have always loved these Pantone color wrapped mugs and am not exactly sure why I have not added any to my own home yet. Maybe I am waiting till our kitchen is redone and we have fresh new cabinets to put them in? When the boys were younger I did color code their belongings – navy blue, red, green, orange – I would start with those (for their hot cocoa and warm cider) and then add a set for Mom and Dad ...

I have contemplated getting some for the Designer Bath showroom in our logo colors ...

I imagine a selection of jewel toned versions would be a coveted gift at a Yankee Swap. Especially now that Emerald Green has been selected as the new color of the year ...

What color combinations would you choose?

For my tips on decorating with Emerald Green,
my post at Designer Bath. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sugar on Top

How do you decorate for the holidays?

Decorating for the holidays is a balance of pure child-like enthusiasm and sometimes-but-not-all-the-times adult-like restraint. Last weekend I took the kids to view decorated gingerbread houses at a local church in Lynnfield and a Parade of Trees held by the Danvers Historical Society at Tapley Hall. The gingerbread houses were decorated by kids in town. The Parade of Trees mainly by business owners and designers. We managed to get through both events, plus some shopping in the town sponsored Country Store, without any mishap (I was picturing trees accidentally knocked down or sugar-coated houses mysteriously deconstructed.)    

Do you pace yourself?

Ben “You mean we can’t eat any of the candy off the gingerbread houses?” Mom “That’s correct.” Ben “Then I don’t want to go.” Mom “If you are good I will give you money for the Country Store and you can buy your own candy.” I gave him $10. He spent every penny.

Or does your inner elf take over?

I am pretty sure that this tree was minus a couple of candy dots when we left. Sorry about that, Cathy!

Are you a fan of all white or a mix of colors?

This wreath was hung just low enough that my 8 year old could select a pop from it, but he did put it back, reluctantly.

Do you like to think outside the box?

He did not take any candy off the gingerbread houses. That I noticed anyway. I promised him we will have a gingerbread house construction day of our own.

Designer style or country charm?

We went to Danvers to see my friend Linda Hentschel’s tree. We loved her over the top blue and silver theme which coordinates with her new logo and corporate identity: i-Design.  

Linda is currently featured in the December issue of Northshore Magazine. Read about her holiday decorating style here.

Company’s Coming Punch

2 liters of lemon lime soda
2 liters gingerale
64 oz. cranberry juice
64 oz. apple juice
1 frozen orange juice
1 frozen limeade
half gallon of rainbow sherbert
cut up lemon and lime slices

for the adults: top with Prosecco

Do you like to get away from all the holiday excess?

Or do you love every minute of it?

Let the countdown begin ...

P.S. The Country Store sold out of our Holiday Boxwood trees! These were my favorites with their ribbon candy like bows.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to build a holiday centerpiece

You will need: boxwood greens, floral foam, a dish to hold everything in, plus a good sense of proportion.

Prepare your ornaments using ribbons, baubles, wooden floral pics and wire, cutting shears, a good holiday play list.

If these directions seem too complicated, stop by the 

Holiday Centerpieces-To-Go
$30 each at the Country Store
– while supplies last –

Brought to you by The Village Home and Garden Club of Lynnfield

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My picks from Pottery Barn

It’s easy to mix plaids, prints, solids and textures in one area when
they have a color in common (this year it is a rich red).

Walk into any Pottery Barn and you will leave with either bags filled with home decor goodies or a mind full of I-can-do-that ideas. Last month, my friends and I from the Village Home and Garden Club of Lynnfield (we officially added a home decorating component to our program this year) had our meeting hosted at the Pottery Barn located at the North Shore Mall. Two of their design associates shared with us their tips for setting a holiday table and switching out everyday living room decor with holiday inspired pieces.

Everything in their showroom works together visually, so you really can’t go wrong when bringing home new pillows covers, blankets, table top accessories, etc. You can save a little money, however, by shopping around at lower priced home good type stores, but the styling at PB is worth the trip.

I did see two items that spoke to me ...

$49.00 for salad plates
$59.00 for dinner plates

When entertaining for the holidays, having an extra dinner set on hand is so much better than resorting to paper or plastic. I would use them for everyday as well since we are constantly running out of clean dishes. A dozen dishes could just about get my family of six through the day, and we would only have to run the dishwasher once.

My favorite gift-worthy item from Pottery Barn were these hand-hewn Blonde Wood Pedestals that look just as good on their own as they do serving food. They range in price from $24.50 – $89.00. While they may be ordered with a monogram, I like them better as is. They remind me a little of a family of turtles. Cute, efficient, and smile generating.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The gift for someone who has everything ...

Monique Johnson, Susan Kanoff and Sharon Sullivan
preparing for The Swap Soiree in North Andover 

Some people can be so difficult to buy for during the holiday season: they have a closet full of designer fashions, racks of shoes, purses for every occasion, more accessories than a small boutique  ... what could you possibly add to their already full closets? My suggestion? An hour or two with fashion coach Susan Kanoff of A Great New Look.

Susan is a wardrobe consultant who can just as easily fill a closet as she can edit one that is overflowing with too many choices. She offers gift certificates for wardrobe consults and will even shop with clients to help them find just the right combination of wardrobe items to make them feel and look their best. She also has a wealth of fashion connections and style tips that she is happy to share with her friends and clients.

Wardrobe consult “after photos from Susan’s website.

Where to find Susan ...

On Wednesday, November 28th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm she is hosting a designer clothing swap in North Andover called The Swap Soiree. Along with event planner Monique Johnson of Monx Design House, these two women have coordinated quite an evening of fashion fun. For the price of an $18 ticket, guests can shop rack after rack of designer fashions, shoes, and bags and take home as many bargains as they are willing to swap.

They are still collecting clothing donations from 9am to 4pm tomorrow at St. Michael’s Church on Main Street if you want to thin out your own closet, otherwise, guests are able to buy tokens tomorrow night for $4 a piece, with each token good for one item. Such a win-win!

I stopped by tonight to drop off some donations from my own closet – I feel emotionally lighter already – and saw lots of like-new pieces and others with tags still on them (we all have a couple of those in our closets ; ) Any clothing that does not get taken home after tomorrow night’s event will be donated to a local charity. Along with designer labels there will be seasonal refreshments and raffle items (Robert Jason Salon of Andover is just one of the sponsors). I will be looking for some sparkly items for my holiday wardrobe and will be asking Susan for her advice while I shop. 

Tickets are still available through EventBrite.

For holiday gift certificates, contact fashion coach Susan Kanoff.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Shopping Shout-Out

Ame and Lulu is one of my go-to favorites for functional pieces that are perfectly on trend. They always have what I am looking for whether I am styling a room or looking for a special gift that stands out from the crowd. Do your cyber shopping with them today and get 30% OFF your entire order!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kitchen Tour Week: Day Seven

Hello! Gorgeous! I love so much about this kitchen by Karen Swanson of New England Design Works. This was one of the last kitchens that we visited on the Wenham Museum Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour. I have a neat photo of the designer in this very space, taken in August when it was completely gutted. I am very impressed with the transformation! The wallpaper is fabulous, the modern lighting is dramatic while functional, the art – although not intended to remain on the counter edge – sets the mood. From the acid green chairs to the sliding barn door to the whispy white surroundings, this kitchen has an eclectic edge yet feels right at home in this 1850s colonial. 

Horizontal tongue-in-groove walls create a unique backsplash above a 48 inch Wolf range plus inset cabinets from Pennville Custom Cabinetry. Karen is a dealer for this product line and chose many custom features to show off in her own home. 

The stainless steel sink has a very modern faucet. Both go nicely with the stainless steel cabinet door screens and pulls.

A shoe closet was a designer must-have for this busy family.

Cherry red cabinets in the butler’s pantry are a happy surprise between the kitchen and the living room. Mixing it up like this keeps life interesting!

The last kitchen on our tour was a short walk up the street. The homeowner, Jeremy McElwain did a lot of the work himself. Industrial chic pendant lighting and modern touches throughout the home give it an urban vibe, yet the traditional surface finishes maintain its historical integrity.

When dealing with an exposed brick chimney, one way to incorporate it into the space is to make it a fresh focal point.

We were told that we could peek inside the gray custom-designed cabinets, and so we did. This one was our favorite, accommodating three bins for recycling.

In the living room: styling by homeowner Mary Fortunato

We saw a lot of great kitchen spaces on the 5th Annual Wenham Museum Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour. Thank you to all of the sponsors, designers and homeowners who shared a days worth of dream kitchens with us!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kitchen Tour Week: Day Six

How was your Thanksgiving? I imagine that this next kitchen on the Wenham Museum Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour would be a great spot to host a big family dinner. Designed by Wilson Kelsey Design, it features plenty of counter space, a variety of seating, and efficient work zones with top of the line appliances.

I love a round table. Besides encouraging engaged conversation, it also breaks up the horizontal and vertical planes in a traditional setting. These chairs look super comfy, too. What a great spot to enjoy a home cooked meal, second helpings, dessert, drinks. The bar in the distance features black granite, while the center island and sink counters feature white and gray Calcutta marble. It is a very elegant combination tied together with crisp white cabinetry with frosted glass accents by The Cabinetworks of New Hampshire.

Designer Sally Wilson of Wilson Kelsey Design 

John Kelsey in front of the commissioned wall mural by Zoe Design

A hammered metal bar sink with traditional dual-lever faucet

A slightly contemporary single-lever faucet with pull-out spray at the main sink

The first floor powder room is equally impressive with its black leather embossed wall covering, custom designed console, and stand-out-in-a-crowd fixtures.

A sitting area at one end of the kitchen provides additional room to gather, allowing guests to relax out of the way while keeping the cook company. The combination of gray blue fabrics with zesty pops of orange injects a subtle energy to the neutral palette of the surrounding spaces.

Sally recently shared her bath remodeling expertise at the “Studs to Stunning: Remodeling Tips from the Pros” design seminar hosted at Designer Bath. Take a peek at her presentation here.

Come back tomorrow for the last set of kitchens from the Wenham Museum Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour!