Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Designing French Home Accessories and Magazine Secrets


 2017 has been an incredible year for me as far as magazine features goes!  It never gets old
to know that my home or yard is going to be inside a magazine, and never did I think I would 
get a cover.  Until the day that Fifi O'Neill came to do my house for Romantic Country Spring 2017 
issue and the photographer, Mark Lohman said to her, "This is going to be a cover try", as he
pointed to my living room and where he planned to take a photo.  Um...what??? I was standing
right there, but its like I wasn't standing right there while they did their business.  Any way, after
that comment, he mentioned another angle that could be a "cover try", and that is when I started 
thinking that getting my house on the cover would be very cool indeed.  And it happened!
I got an email from Fifi telling me they had picked my living room for the Spring cover.
Wow.  Just like that.  It takes months before it comes out in print (and sometimes longer),
and of course you just would never mention anything like that or you might JINX it and it
would likely be considered bad etiquette in the magazine world.  I would think.
My next two shoots were with Matthew Mead for different publications, one being his own
brand special edition magazines, published by Country Sampler, and it was all about Outdoor Style.
 Since we are good buddies now, I was able to see the process of the magazine cover decision,
and it was pretty darn interesting.  The publisher likes to have control over these things, and they 
picked many "possible" covers, including several of my shots.  Images get edited and re-edited and copy gets changed and colors of the titles and on and on.
OMG, could it happen again, with another cover shot?  
Yes, it did!! I had to keep it quiet for several months, which was not fun.
I was so proud of this shoot, and the way it all turned out, and I just hope this magazine gets the readers it deserves, because its packed with all kinds of outdoor spaces, including my awesome French Courtyard.  We love our courtyard!  If anyone is interested in getting a chance to win a free copy of this Upstyled Home Outdoors issue, leave a comment letting me know why you would like to get one, and you will be entered to win.  Make sure I have an email address so I can contact you for your mailing address, in case you win.  This magazine hits news stands April 25th, 2017.
 The other magazine that you may have noticed on the first photo, was Where Women Create.
This is a big honor, to be featured in this magazine, as artists of note and talent are interviewed
in their workshops and studios.  This issue will be out May 1st, and it is a biographical type article
on where I found my creativity and what nurtured my creative nature.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you ever wanted to know more about me, this is your chance, lol.  So one of the secretive parts of the magazine world, is that sometimes you get left on the cutting room floor.  And that just happened to me this week.  I was contacted by an editor of Country Home to possibly be included in their Style Makers section of the next issue, due in June 2017.  Wow.  This is really amazing! I wasn't sure what to make of all these features, but it was certainly thrilling to be considered a Style Maker.  And just like that, I got an email saying there wasn't enough room in the issue, and that I may be considered for one of their future issues. So POOF!  But hey, I am more than thrilled to be in the racks this year
in these great issues.    
The other bit of very cool news is that I was contacted to do some design work for a private company who is a wholesaler of romantic styled European clothing and who has decided to add some complementary home accessories to the line.  They wanted to know if I would give them some designs for French home decor.  So we struck a handshake of a deal, and my designs have been well received thus far.  Its funny because as a former owner of a little retail home boutique shop, I had a hard time finding things that I personally was attracted to, given my penchant for French style.  And now I get to CREATE French style items that will be made in factories and it couldn't be more exciting!  As things move along, I will be sharing more specifics, but for now we are fleshing out concepts and items to be included in the collection.
 One of my favorite things is to sketch. 
My design sketches are done in pencil with a bit of colored pencil 
added to give it some life, then emailed to the owner of the company for approval.
The feeling is an overall rustic and elegant European look.  
I will share the company and where you may be able to find these items
designed by moi as soon as they become available.
Yum. 


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Friday, April 14, 2017

Tips for a beautiful Easter table, and the Pink Linen arrives


My Easter table is always a fun one for me, as I have lots of pastels
in my decor, which just goes with this holiday.  I wanted to share a few
 of my easy tips to creating a special looking table for your guests.
 Easy is the way to go, in my book, and this couldn't have been easier.
I used two colors for the setting, purple and blue.  The purple from my 
transferware dishes and the blue from my wine glasses.  Pick one or two
colors from your china cabinet and set the table on a white cloth.
Then take a soup tureen or a cache pot (decorative flower container) and
add pansies still in their six packs from the garden store in a color that goes
with your dishes or glassware.  Simply cut apart the six pack with kitchen scissors and
 place as many of the plastic encased pansies as you can.  Above you can see
some of the containers are empty, and that is because I used some outside in containers.
I bought enough to use for indoors and after Easter I will put them all outside.
A majolica pedestal bowl that matches my blue opaline stemware would be perfect
for the centerpiece, but many other types of bowl and pots could work as well.
 I found it antiquing for about $12 and I LOVE it!!
 Add some Easter grass from the supermarket as a cushion and filler in the bottom of the 
container.   It makes an instant Easter centerpiece and is very charming.  
Imagine this in a white bowl or soup tureen, choosing pansy colors that work
 with your tableware.  Then to make it a little more fun, 
I added little candy cups around the flower bowl.
 These little paper cups come in all kinds of colors and patterns.  
I found them at HomeGoods and they are so adorable and festive.
 Candies from packages or plastic tubs from the grocery store were used to fill the tiny cups. The blue striped cups looked best, and I will save the pink cups for an upcoming baby shower. These cup packages sell for $2 to $4, and they add a festive note.  You could fill them with pudding or mousse or tiramisu for a desert course at the end of the meal.
 Tiny golden bunnies bring to mind the tradition of Easter chocolate rabbits 
as the most popular thing a child would want to find in the Easter basket. 
 Use what you have, and build a table around your colors. 
 If you have darker colors, then perhaps adding a pink or pastel colored napkin
 on top of the plate will give you a nice result.
Many of you know I am an active collector of purple transferware.  
 One thing I had yet to find was egg cups in purple.  I finally found a pair, and so they 
will make their debut on the table holding Lindt chocolate carrot sticks.
 The table is all set, which leaves me to focus on the cooking part. 
 See something in the mirror?  The bolt of pink fabric....
Yup, its the pink linen I ordered online, and it soon will be made into
draperies for the dining room.  Its a beautiful soft pink, and it will 
be curtains for the spring and summer months.  So fun!
 Sunshine is prevailing this Easter Sunday, and so are warm temps!! 
We will be out in the courtyard for sure!
Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pink Linen, and Wishing I never sold these things!!


The funny thing that happened to me when I began selling things, was that
I didn't seem to care about possessing things anymore.  Many wonderful antiques
and vintage items went through my hands.  I had admired many of these items from
the pages of magazines or in online images, and suddenly as I began selling old things,
these amazing old things came to me.  This pair of antique brass altar sticks was an 
amazing find, brought to me by my picker.  My picker knew the types of things I loved,
and one day she waltzed into my shop with these.  However popular I thought they might be,
they took a long time to sell, and finally they did sell to a designer in NYC area.
I do wish I had them still.  However I recently traded some of my purple transferware
to my blogging friend Cindy, of Edith and Evelyn Vintage blog.  She has a nice Etsy
shop filled with old Frenchy and Italian things.  I spotted a pair of Italian 
candlesticks, that will be soon on their way to me, as we happily traded our treasures.
She had just announced she was bitten by the Purple Transferware collecting bug,
so I offered her a grouping in exchange for a few things from her shop.
 The other thing near the top of my list, that I wished I never sold,
 was this stunning Florentine screen. Why oh why???
Florentine is a decorative style of Italian furniture and accessories.  Its very lightweight and 
has patterns burnished into the wood and highlighted with gold.  Usually the items 
may have a color with the gold, or more commonly they are offwhite and gold. 
This screen was in a pink with gold and it was GORGEOUS.
(lovely screen on left, ugly vanity seat needing a makeover on right)
It was in terrific shape and I adored it, but I did not feel the need to possess it.
I could spank myself now, as I wish I had it, and I doubt I will ever see another like it.
It too, came from my picker gal.  This piece never hit the sales floor as a woman 
who worked for me asked to buy it, and I gave her a helluva deal. 
Oh to turn back the clock.
The pattern and overall effect of the pink and gold was stunning.
This was a most interesting chair, and I probably wish I could have this one 
back as well.  But it would have had to be reupholstered and now I realize I could have 
done a decent job on it myself.  I think it would have been fun in a pink linen....
 I would put it in my bathroom and pile towels on the seat,
and place it next to the tub.
Speaking of pink linen, I just ordered a bolt of Irish Linen in Pink. 
(My source is the Online Fabric Store.)
 I had an  impulse to make some new draperies for one of the rooms
 in my home....so stay tuned, I think its  arriving tomorrow!
Image source: Elle Decor Magazine
This dining room is by designer Suzanne Kasler, one of my favorites. 
Blush pink is all the rage, and it finally has gotten to me as well.
I feel the need for pink!
 Do you think it could have anything to do with having a
granddaughter on the way?


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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Outdoor Boxwood Balls and our Easter Egg hunt for the big kids


The warm weather finally arrived this week, and it sent me heading out to
the garden nursery to pick up some pansies for the containers and urns.
A new ruffled variety of pansy is all the talk of the garden town, which 
I helped myself to a double twelve pack, and then threw in a six pack of tiny 
pink and purple violas.  They are the first thing I plant after our long New England 
winter is over, and if there is any cool weather to come, the pansies are hardy
enough to withstand the low temps.
But a few weeks ago, back when there was no sign of spring to be had,
I found myself redoing one of the boy's bedrooms so I popped into HomeGoods.
They didn't have the sheets I wanted, but they did have these amazing and large
faux boxwood balls.  My husband was tagging along, and while he was checking out
the mens section for more clothing that he doesn't need, I put two of the big
round green spheres into my cart. I walked back to the men's department and casually
announced that they didn't have the sheets I was looking for....I noticed his eyes 
go right for the green balls, and then, "WHAT are THOSE?" 
Me: "Oh those are for the urns outside.  They are faux boxwood spheres, and 
normally they are pretty expensive.  I just saw them in a catalogue and I think
they wanted about $100 for each one!!"
Hubs: " How much are THOSE?"  Me: "$16.99"
And off we went to the register....
I forgot to mention, I also bought a pair of lilac wreaths at Joanns the week
before, trying to will Spring to come. But it was pointless.  However 
I am glad I bought them with one of their great coupons, because now that
it is Springlike I was happy to hang them on the French doors, and I thought
they looked really great with the boxwoods.  We won't even talk about that thing
that is next to the urn, and that it has been there for four days now.
My idea about these boxwoods, is that they will likely go in different urns,
either by the front door, or up by the little garden shed.  The front door gets
full sun, and no matter what I plant out there, it won't survive the summer.
But these are the answer, in a very chic way!! So if you have a tricky spot, and you
have some empty urns, run to HomeGoods to get yourself these things.  They won't last,
because like I said, they are featured in all the fancy outdoor living catalogues.
Colby and I spent the morning in the yard filling up various planters 
and in this one you can see the ruffled variety in the back.
The entire yard has no greenery yet, and not a leaf on a tree.
Piles of leaves are wedged into spaces and we need a group effort to 
get the spring clean up done.  But for now, I am loving these pansies.
Since there are no young kids at home anymore, my son Colin asked me
to please do an egg hunt for him and his little bro.  After thinking of 
the traditional egg hunt, where the eggs are filled with candy, we decided to do 
an egg hunt that has eggs filled with money!  I found this great set of 47 white eggs
and one GOLDEN egg!! The golden egg will have the big prize, and the white eggs will
have coins or smaller bills.  It will be a lot of fun to watch the "boys" scurrying around looking
for the eggs that their dad and I will be hiding in the backyard.
And that big cross on the table?  That was hand carved two generations ago for the 
little church my husband grew up attending, and the one where we married.  
Mr. Maison Decor's grandfather carved it by hand!! 
It was recently found in the basement by the current
minister, who asked me if I could refurbish it, give it's gilding a little touch up.  
We will bring it back to church this Easter, making this year's service a little bit more special.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Easter ideas from yesteryear, Silver baby cups and its a Girl!


A few years back, an Easter table set with my favorite blue opaline glasses and 
little silver baby cups at each table setting, on top of an old embroidered cloth 
I was given from my mom and dad.

One of my favorite Easter ideas was to reinvent baby cups into
 a mini Easter baskets at each table setting.  I had cups for my sons, and then
started collecting them over the years, and they are good for so many things.
Filling them with garden herbs for the kitchen window is another way I use
these cups year round.   The cup above has my son Justin's monogram.
He was my first born, and I am beyond excited to announce that he and Madison
will be having their first baby in June, making me a grandmother! 
 After they married, I bought a tiny sterling baby cup at auction, hoping one
day they would start a family.  
Well it is almost that time, and I cannot wait
to meet this little girl.  Yes, its a girl!!  More to come on this front, and in 
particular, I will be hosting a cozy baby shower in the French Courtyard.
Speaking of the courtyard, I was just sent a preview copy of the
 UPSTYLED HOME OUTDOORS edition, 
by Lifestyle Guru and pal, Matthew Mead.  My name is even on the cover!! 
It will be available on April 25, 2017 on news stands and in book stores, 
and let me tell you, it should be on your must have list if you are
 an outdoor lifestyler and gardener, as I am.  
Spectacular is the word!!
 Now I want to share some other simple Easter ideas from years past. 
 How about a bunch of carrots from the supermarket for a table centerpiece? 
 This had a happy garden style about it.
 A more elegant take on Easter involves a white table cloth and a simpler color palette.
An arrangement of white tulips and some moss and ivy also brings fancy garden style.
 This centerpiece was cobbled together using some spring hyacinth 
and painted blown eggs put in a bark log trough.  
Any pastels make things feel "Eastery", 
and the blue opaline and nesting hen did just that.
French style paper cocktail napkins were decoupaged onto a store bought wreath to give it
 that French flair I prefer.  That was a two minute DIY and the possibilities are endless.
Vintage type of decorations and these whimsical egg garlands can be found in 
so many shops these days.  I remember my dad used to pick up paper decorations at
the local gift card shop selling Hallmark products.  Year after year, we would set up the same
paper decorations on our table, and it was always something I looked forward to doing, setting
up those few decorations.   These days, people are bombarded with clever and pretty ideas to make each year a little more  special and unique.  But I will always remember how dad and mom did 
things, and that is what family traditions are all about.  It may be time to hand over Justin's baby cup so he can start his own collection and his own traditions with little girl baby on the way.



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Friday, March 31, 2017

Easy and Spectacular: All White Easter


 Stunningly simple, and yet spectacular, an all white Easter table is 
easy to create and most impressive.  These amazing ideas come from my
creative friend, Matthew Mead.  I really wish he was still blogging, but since he isn't,
I thought it would be fun to put these ideas all together for him in my blog!
(Thanks M)
Get ready to be inspired to steal some of his great ideas
for your spring or Easter table.   White, white and more white!!
The opening image may be my favorite idea:
White asparagus surrounds a white pillar candle, secured with white ribbon.  
 Frost a cake with whipped cream frosting and top with Ferrero Raffaello Coconut Candies
to conjure up cotton tails!  Set on a white pedestal cake stand to impress. 
If you don't have white, use clear glass to keep the palette clean.
 Not hosting Easter?  Bring this to your hostess:
  A white bakery box holds an array of Easter goodies
 all nestled in a section of egg crate cut to fit the box. 
 A simple and charming idea to set at each table setting:  
a broken eggshell used as a vase for a single flower.  
 Little paper cutout bunny silhouettes glued to toothpicks are inserted into lemon cupcakes, frosted with sugar and white sprinkles. Use as place settings by inscribing names on each bunny.
Print out a bunny template like this on card stock
 and then use for a table centerpiece or menu card.

 White carnations make whimsical cotton tails.
Print the menu on the bunny template and add your carnation cotton tail, 
and dress up the white dinner plates. 
 (Matthew told me he cut each card out using tiny sharp scissors.)  
 Speaking of cotton tails, a pile of creme puffs sprinkled with 
confectioners sugar makes a cute reference to Peter Cottontail.  
 More paper cutouts, or vintage looking Easter bunny decorations
 are tucked into flower frogs, painted white for the occasion.  
 Lemon cookies from Trader Joes get the Easter treatment with a sprinkle 
of confectioner's sugar through small stencils.  I love this idea, and I can imagine 
these cookies at a First Communion party as well as at an Easter table.

 Another wonderful way to use stencils and sugar, 
this time on a store bought pound cake!
Find an array of stencils at shops like Michaels or Joanns.
Simply unwrap a white chocolate rabbit or two, and arrange on a white tablecloth
 with some white eggs and candies.  Tuck a few white tulips or hyacinth 
inside of juice glasses.  Brilliant!
A large clear egg from a craft store is a magical way to present an 
old fashioned and romantic Easter gift to a special loved one.
Think WHITE this Easter, and follow Matthew Mead's easy ideas 
for an unforgettable table to share with your family and friends.
To see even more White Easter Ideas, visit his Pinterest page here
Note: All photos property of Matthew Mead
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