Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The kids decided to take our Christmas (New Year's!) card photo as a surprise for us!  They found out quickly that it is never easy gathering the crew ... please forgive the bottom wreath that went crooked, that was the least of their worries!!

Wishing you and your families a beautiful Christmas and thanks for checking in on our crazy life and the chaos that abounds.


Enjoy your families and all the celebrations of the next week.  We will see you back in 2012 ...  maybe even a few projects will get completed.  Thank you so much for continuing to check in and sharing in our lives, design and wine!


kim, don, erin, callie, christopher, sammy, murphy, byron and cooper

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The year is winding down and in the blink of an eye they will be uncrating Dick Clark and propping him up on stage to once again dribble in New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2012. As that crazy Waterford crystal ball sinks lower and lower, ticking away the last few seconds of 2011 Kim and I will ask each other…the question, “do you have any New Year’s resolutions”?

So, to avoid blurting out…lose weight, get more exercise, live for the moment, be more fiscally prudent or any of a thousand other clich├ęs that could pop into my head at 11:59:55PM on December 31st.  I am strategically preparing my resolutions in advance. 

Here they are:

·       Drink more Champagne – we simply do not drink it nearly enough. Champagne is fantastic. It matches nicely with a plethora of dishes, can be enjoyed as an aperitif or by itself.  Champaign is certainly a celebratory beverage, but why wait for a celebration?

·       Try a box wine. Ok I said it…yup, going to do it next year. Other than my initial knee jerk reaction of OMG never, at the very mention of box wine, I do not know much about them. The storage concept is fantastic, you will never enjoy a corked wine from one of those baby’s, they last for several days in the fridge and some of the major producers are now manufacturing them…let you know what I think when I get my courage up.

·       If we happen to be entertaining or are out with friends and get into a multiple bottle night, drink the good bottle first, then go to the second string. I am not saying go straight to Ripple the second time around, but seriously after your palate goes as deaf as a haddock following the second glass, why pay for the really good stuff if you cannot truly enjoy it.

·       My last resolution is to drink the good stuff (first of course)! We are bustin it out this year. You know… those wines in the basement…waiting for just the right moment or occasion. Well next year is the right moment and occasion and we’re going bottoms up. Honestly why wait, life is short…enjoy the wine. Oh yeah, and one last thing, lose weight and get more exercise.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and thank you for reading.

See you in 2012.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tangerine Tango

Miles Redd

I was shopping today, trying to finish up my Christmas list and then supposed to be headed home to wrap the presents I just bought.  My To-Do list however, told me to stop into my favorite paint store and pick up the Benjamin Moore brochure on Metallic Paints.  I am considering adding a little "shine" to a client's dining room ceiling.  As I was picking that up I was completely blown away by Tangerine Tango ... the NEW Pantone color of 2012!  Annually Pantone will declare a particular color the "Color of the Year" and boy oh boy did they hit the nail on the head for 2012. 

"Sophisticated, but at the same time dramatic and seductive" according to Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.  "Remininscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of a yellow, to form a high - visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy." I'll take Two!  

This is what happens to me ... I am plugging along doing what I am supposed to be doing ... then WHAM!  I was feeling a little bit sad today because there is no snow.  Can you believe that?  It just doesn't seem to be Christmasy!  But then a little trip to the paint store and I am ready for the colors of Spring!!

I will re-focus on the task at hand today ... while secretly figuring out where or where to put Tangerine Tango in my life!



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tradition ... Biscotti

When Don and I first married we made a commitment to one another, not just about us ... but our children.  We would bring them together and create new traditions to make our two families "one".

You never know how or when traditions happen, sometimes they take you by surprise.  Biscotti making was one of those surprises!  A good friend, Pam, from Atlanta came to visit in December the first year the girls and I moved to New England.  She wanted to do something to bring the girls (Erin, Callie and Sammy) together ... unfortunately this didn't involve Christopher, but he was fine with that!!  She taught us how to make biscotti.  So that year it seemed natural for us to just use the biscotti for teacher gifts.  8 years later, we are still making biscotti for not only teachers, but those we love and want to say thank you to ... for being in our lives!

Here's how it all begins:

We make half peanut butter and chocolate chip and the other half white chocolate chip and Craisins!

Once they have cooked, you cut them and bake on each side for another 10 minutes to get crispy!

Once they have cooled, dip them in either milk or white chocolate.

We bag them up in cellophane bags and get them ready for delivery!

Each year the process has become sort of a rite of passage of Christmas week ... it is hectic, we can't believe we spend a whole day making these ... but we wouldn't have it any other way!

Biscotti Recipe:

2 ½ C All Purpose Flour (sifted)
1 tsp Baking Powder

½ tsp Salt
1 C Sugar
½ C (1 stick) Unsalted Butter @ room temperature
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Bag of Nestle Chocolate/Peanut Butter Chips or
1 C of each, Craisins and White Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, whisk to blend.
Using electic mixer, beat sugar, butter, 2 eggs and vanilla extract in large bowl until well blended.  Mix in flour mixture, then fruit, chips, etc. Mixture will be dry. 

Divide dough in 2 logs using floured hands, shape each piece.   Transfer logs to baking sheet.  Bake approx. 30 minutes.  Cut logs into biscotti pieces, turn on their side and reduce oven to 275 – bake for 10 minutes.  Turn biscotti on other side and bake 10 more minutes.

Let cool.

Dip White Chocolate and Craisin biscotti in white chocolate.  Dip Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip biscotti in milk chocolate.  Put in refrigerator to let harden.


I hope you are celebrating the traditions of your family this week!



Monday, December 19, 2011

White Christmas - Family Traditions!

This is it ... the countdown is on ... I got a running start this weekend and things seem to be going rather smoothly.  We kicked off the week of festivity and excitement with a family tradition ... we all gather to watch "White Christmas".  It is the one time of the year that the kids don't mind "family movie night!"  Or "forced family fun" as they have termed certain events that I make them do.

When it comes to White Christmas, none of them complain!  We all love the story, the singing (who doesn't love to listen to Bing sing!) and the dancing.  We marvel at the size of Vera-Ellen's waist!

Today starts the countdown!  Here's the week's schedule:

Today - Biscotti Making for teachers and friends (recipe tomorrow!)
Tuesday - Finish shopping and Wrapping Presents 
Wednesday - need to find a good buy on some linen for a client! 
Thursday - Grocery shopping for Christmas Eve!
Friday - all that didn't get done on MTWTh!!

I hope you all enjoy your week ... soak in the goodness of the season, it will be over before we blink!



Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas ... in Paris!

Christmas in Paris is possibly even more romantic than Paris in the Spring ... or the Fall ... or really anytime is magnificent, Paris has a tendency to always shine ... but I particularly love the way the French  celebrate the Season!  


Arc de Triumphe

Place Vendome
Quiet Courtyard of a home
Ferris Wheel at Jardins de Tuileries

The Champs Elysees at night ... taken from the Ferris Wheel
Don and I have been blessed to spend several Christmas vacations in Paris ... we love it and hope we get to do it again!  I must caution you however ... this time of year,  the days are a little dreary and gray ... we truly live for the nights!

The Champagne Cocktail ... my favorite way to kick off the celebration of the Night and Lights in Paris.


1 sugar cube
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 oz brandy
orange slice for garnish

Place the sugar cube in the bottom of your Champagne Flute
Dash the sugar cube with the Angostura bitters
Add Brandy
Fill with Champagne
Garnish with Orange




p.s. please visit At The Picket Fence ... a fun blog by two sisters, Vanessa and Heather.  I joined in on their Christmas Blogger Block Party featuring Doors and Porches.  They were kind enough to feature  our Red Front Door ... guarded carefully by the "boys" Byron and Cooper!  Thank you ladies!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pine Ridge, Chenin Blanc + Viognier

Our life is complete chaos, but neither Kim or I would have it any other way. Between our jobs, four children and three dogs we scarcely have time to eat dinner let alone plan one out. Tuesday was pretty typical. At 6:30 am before cup of coffee one, the question came..."what should we have for dinner"? The conversation went something like this. Chicken, "no"; pasta "eh"; steak, "grunt"; how about fish? "hmm, haven't had that in a while". So, in a mutual half asleep coma we decided I would pick up a piece of Haddock on my way home from the office. Oh, and by the way Kim mentioned, "don't forget you have to write your blog for Thursday" so pick up a bottle of wine as well, ok?" I love you...

Later that evening, armed with my haddock, a fist full of mushrooms, a box of cherry tomato's, some capers and a dozen or so Greek olives I shuffled into the Sherborn Out, our go to local wine retailer that has a nice selection of wines and is really close by our home, which works fabulously when I am under the gun for time. White's the easy and logical choice to go with what's in the bag I am hauling around, so I start scanning the flabby, Chablis would work well but to expensive, Riesling could be ok if it is dry enough but we did that for Thanksgiving, so after poking around  for a bit, Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc was what was pitched into the sack to join the moveable feast.

What a treat, it matched up perfectly. A slight effervescence to balance the buttery fish, enough strawberry and peach to offset the salt of the capers and a crisp minerality that left the palette clean and ready for the next bite. An easy drinking white that was delicious and easy on the wallet. $11.00. How do you go wrong with that?

Try it, you will like it.

Enjoy the wine.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Home Away ... For the Holidays!

I had a fun time with Erin last week doing a little window shopping.  I want the Zebra print ... I have no idea where I would put it ... but I would find a place.  It has nothing to do with this post ... other than it was at Z Gallerie ... and I want it!

As we are all "wrapped up" in Christmas and the holidays I seem to be singularly focused on getting the house ready.  But as we consider those out of town family members and friends that might be joining us ... maybe we should spruce up some rooms to welcome them ... without the "theme" of the season.

If you are needing to do a quick fix on a guestroom ... take a look at these fun ideas from Z Gallerie ... you can get this look in no time!!  Fun, full of color and festivity ... and they'll last longer than the holidays!

I would probably only take an item or two from this line ... not the "whole" look.  Even just a set of shams or the duvet cover will offer a little punch to your decor and make your guests happy!

While you are gathering up the guestroom ... a couple of things to think about.  Make it feel special, I even have my sheets ironed (at the cleaners ... I don't have time!) it makes the bed feel delightful and fresh! 

Water!  It gets so dry here in the winter that this little thought will be so appreciated!  
Martha Stewart 
Martha Stewart

Water Carafe

A fresh set of beautiful towels ... I know this sounds obvious ... but truly, have you looked at your towels lately?  I need to hit the "white sales" after Christmas!

Hotel Collection
And lastly ... a good alarm clock ... not the one that used to be yours and you shoved it along when you got the Bose ... really ... a good one!
Alarm Clock

I love having guests and family with us ... I like all the bedrooms and sofas to be full of people!  That must be why I love sleepovers for my kids ... nothing makes me happier than preparing a pancake breakfast for hungry ones the next morning!  

Soak in the family and festivities of the next few weeks ... precious moments to treasure!



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Barbara Barry and the Beach!

There are those homes that don't really need window treatments.  But the majority do need them!  Many people stop short of "dressing" their windows for two reasons.  One, they don't really think them necessary.  Two, they tend to be a little pricey if you do them right.  Yes, I am on a custom made soap box this week.  As yesterday's post about table skirts.  Ditto window treatments.  Now, you can fudge a little, and use some ready made elements in your design if you so wish.  But there is no "one size fits all" in curtains.  

Here is a fabulous example of how Window Treatments totally transform a space.

My clients' have a fairly new home ... they have settled in but now ready to make it special.  They have three children and an extended family that gathers at their home nightly for dinner.  They don't use a formal dining space ... but this space right off the kitchen.  It is fine, it works ... but it is lacking the pizzazz they want!!  Plus, this area needed to be defined.  

Now, Mrs. wants 'casual elegance' and Mr. wants to use his art ... his daily work is in the financial world, but his passion and pleasure lie in his photography. 


Great beginnings ... a farm table, leather chairs and fantastic chandelier of metal and crystal.

Not only is this the main dining area ... but you see this area right as you enter the front door.  You will also notice that the Sliding Doors are not centered in the space.  I respect architects and builders, they know far more than me ... but I don't understand it when things aren't centered!!  Possibly a structural thing???  But, we wanted to maximize the impact and not bring attention to the problem.  So we took the whole wall as our working area, rather than just the doors.

Beach Inspiration:

This was the jumping off point for us.  Mr. took this photo of the beach on Cape Cod and through an on-line source had it enlarged and printed on artist canvas.  It is now 4 X 5 feet.  Quite a statement!  Using this color palette and feel of the beach without being too "kitchy" ...

Fabric Inspiration ... bringing in a little glam but still very "elegantly casual!" Barbara Barry Miss Saigon Silk by Kravet.


Curtains, a cornice ... keeping it "neat" but with some punch and a new rug all soften and add definition.

These are my quick shots ... we'll have some professional ones done without the monkey bars on the back porch!!  But ... even with my amateur photography you can see the beautiful transformation.  

When you are ready for window treatments, do it right ... you will not be disappointed and they will make you happy for many years!!



p.s. please visit At The Picket Fence ... a fun blog by two sisters, Vanessa and Heather.  I joined in on their Christmas Blogger Block Party featuring Doors and Porches.  They were kind enough to feature  our Red Front Door ... guarded carefully by the "boys" Byron and Cooper!  Thank you ladies!

Monday, December 12, 2011

For the love of ... Table Skirts!

They can change a room's look in an instant!  I used to search and search for pretty table cloths for the holiday season, for all year.  And let's face it ... mostly what you find "off the rack" are the typical rectangle and oval ones that drape down the table ... maybe 3" if you are lucky!!  There are certain things in life I have come to realize have to be custom made.  Off the rack in the table skirt world is pretty pathetic! 

Here are some beautiful examples of skirts that may be chosen for the holidays ... but can be used all year long ...

Atlanta Homes Magazine

Urban Grace

French Country Cottage

Either you like them or you don't ... I do!  Also, I love a skirted 30" round table in bedrooms and living rooms ... or any room, really.  The fabric adds a touch more warmth in the space.  I always have them made, I tend to change them frequently ... and I also must insist that you use an "inter-lining" in yours.  This "flannel like" lining goes between the pretty fabric and the lining.  It gives body and also helps it lay better.

My seamstress just let me in on a little trick!  Since I change mine alot (I think she got sick of making them!) She made me an "inter-lining" table skirt ... so now, when I change my mind she just lines the material without it (one less step) and I throw the finished skirt over the inter-lining!  Makes it easier on her and a little less costly and wasteful for me!  I still would encourage making them right way ... but if you tend to change a lot and want a quick fix ... this is good!!

Have a wonderful week ... my countdown to Christmas is weighing heavy ... pressure is ON!  Hope yours is a good one!



Friday, December 9, 2011

Last Minute Lovlies ...

If you are like me and no where NEAR finished with your Christmas shopping (the truth ... I haven't begun yet!)  Here are a few beautiful objects I found at  These will keep the lucky recipients happy, warm and bright in the doldrums of January!

Ary's Folk Stripe Trays designed by a British Textile Designer, Asta Barrington.  She has taken her beautiful textile patterns and applied them to birchwood trays.  Beautiful and Sustainable!

How about these cute tumblers, a set of 4 for $39.00 ... great for a gift to be used during the holidays and then taken straight outside for breakfasts on the porch when the sun starts to warm things up!

You ask if they come in "Peacock"? ... of course they do!

Who wouldn't love a beautiful fringed wool flannel throw?

Hope you are ahead of me ... I've got some shopping to do ... aaghhhhhhhh!

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