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I do ok in the kitchen.  What I mean is I’m not a trained chef or baker but I get around a kitchen or recipe pretty well, provided I have the right tools and ingredients.  For Mothers Day I wanted to do something fun and whimsical and wanted to avoid the lemon, berry,whipped creme trappings that are so prolific around this spring holiday, so I decided to make home-made Ding-Dongs.  I followed a recipe from The Bean Town Baker and have to say they tasted even better than the real thing.  The Bean Town Baker implies that there is a lot of work in these but that’s putting it mildly. I doubled the recipe, so it was double the work… trust me on this, that probably didn’t help.  they are in her words a labor of love.  Instead of posting the recipe (you can find that by clicking the link to the Beantown Baker page) I’m going to give you the inside scoop on this recipe.

So, First things first… if you are astute you’re probably scratching your head thinking “he said Ding Dong but the picture up top is a Hostess Cupcake, what gives?”  well, here is the lowdown on that…

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The ‘from scratch recipe for the cake used in the recipe suggests you use 9 or 10″ round pans.  After baking mini-cakes are made with a cookie cutter, filled and glazed.  There is a great deal of cake waste with this method, but you do get the iconic straight sided shape.   Actually there is so much batter that the recipe suggests a bit of the batter be reserved and used for cup cakes – this way the round cakes don’t bake up too thick.  (I was happy to imagine having extra cupcakes laying around the house, heck summer won’t be here til June 21st right?) Anyway, it wasn’t until I was well into my second batch that I realized the cupcakes would make perfect replicas of the famous Hostess cupcake, and the left over whipped filling and ganache were just enough to dress up a dozen or so of the “extra” cupcakes.  I baked what I could in cupcake papers and the rest I just put in a well greased cupcake pan and both ways worked well.  I liked not serving cupcakes with paper on them to my guests.  And frankly, the cupcakes were easier, cuter.

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 And, I now have a Tupperware tub filled with chocolate cake bits – I’ll come up with something yummy to use them for – maybe mixed into malted ice-cream? or a trifle might be good… but I guess the moral of the story is, go for the cupcakes! They are easier to make, they don’t waste unused cake, they are easier to eat and they present better and more professional that their cousin the Ding-Dong and it’s all about presentation right?      photo 3 copy 4

I’m Working On It

May 8, 2014

I’m sorry.  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.

Before I update you all on what’s been going on for me professionally, I have to thank all my new followers for seeing value in my past blogs and deciding to follow me in spite of lack of attention I have been giving this blog… and all of who have been following me for years, your continued support is much appreciated. It blows me away that so many people want to read my rants on design, color, furniture, fashion and let’s not forget food!

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It’s been a very busy spring for me. My design work has been so rewarding… clients who truly value my insight, clients who truly want to create a room – or home – beyond simply a place to watch tv or sleep, a place that makes you take notice… A moment. I see that magic happen when clients allow me to keep them “on message”.  I find a strong direction or perspective and sharp, intentional execution create rooms – or homes – that have that wow thing.  In recent months I’ve had several projects that felt very focused, the results… happy clients. I love it when clients love what I help them create.  The above shot is a professional one ( as many of you know my images are typically a iPhone snapshot).  The clients were totally open to this limited and tonal palette.  The result of a trusting client is a pulled together look and something I can be proud of.  Of course I brought in most everything to finnish the look (the feathers are cuortisy of the clients husband) Please contact me if you’d like resource information on anything.

20140507-212912.jpgI literally rolled out this custom rug today at a clients… a favorite client in fact that is fearless, and often pushes me to go further and bolder.  We have a great time picking things out and her homes are like no others.   It is truly wonderful when a client becomes a friend.  I snapped this picture to send to her, but I wanted to include it in todays post because its such a fun room.  I might have staged the coffee table and played up the orange accents – pillows on the sofa, a chandelier over-head – they really pull the corner chair into the color story, I’m sorry you can’t see more of the room. The rug is by Patterson, Flynn and Martin.

20140507-212043.jpgThis living room is a total transformation and yet the exact same rom I designed for another great client several years ago.  The layout was great, the furniture was classic – and still in great shape – so we just recovered everything and replaced the existing sisal with a wool/sisal rug from Merida that is creme and oatmeal.  Prior to this taupe, cream and navy palette the room had been red, gold and green (insert Culture Club joke here).  The yellow walls were painted out a pretty greige (grey/beige) a color just a shade or two lighter than the new upholstery and the accents became navy to suit the cooler color scheme.  The perfect summer retreat for cocktails with friends or TV with the family all this room needs is a few more tweaks with the accessories.  (My husband insists that I not show rooms without full staging but often the client wants to fill the small details in over time, and typically I and posting pictures I have taken simply to document, not publish) whatever!  Stay tuned for more on this room.

rothAnd this happened in recent months too.  Some modern, some whimsy; straight lined and clean with feminine edges and pretty details… a wonderful mix for a city apartment.  I’m lucky enough to have worked on another project for these clients, a beach house so when they decided to buy a small(ish) apartment in town, I got the call.  The beach is light and easy with strong colors and patterns so it was a no brainer to make the apartment sleek, and a bit more subdued.  Yes, this is subdued.  Plum, violet and grey tones sit on a nearly white rug, vintage brass etageres flank the sofa and echo the light fixture over the dining table in this open concept space.  I have a bad habit of posting pictures of rooms 90% done, because I don’t always go back for professional images the last trip out with orchids, accessories and the little ditties that make rooms really finished often don’t get documented.  Sad huh?  But enough about that I have to let it go.  Just so you know we stacked a grey and white geometric box made of inlaid bone on the table with a few coffee table books and three gold lotus blossom bowls to add a little shimmer.

OK… thats going to have to be enough for tonight.  it’s 11:53 at night and I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow.  Thank you again for sticking with me when the posts don’t come as often as they used to. I hope you are amused, enlightened or even just distracted for just a little while when you’re here, and leave inspired. xo

INSPIRATION II

February 7, 2014

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Lots of things inspire me.   Inspiration can come from anywhere, a stone wall, a piece of clothing, an old scrap of wood; and it can be applied in a textural, structural, spacial, or even in a literal way.  What I find most inspirational is art and nature.  The wharf image above is inspiring to me because not only do I dearly love the place, I love the image, and I love the colors.  I love the warmth of the pattern on the sand, the strength of the pier silhouetted in black. And, because I have stayed many nights in those fishing shacks on that pier spending countless hours with some of my dearest friends, it means something to me.   It doesn’t get more powerful than that. tumblr_ltoubkovOE1qjrfh6o1_500

To execute design based on an inspirational object or image I think it best to identify a color palette first and foremost.  This doesn’t have to be completely literal, you can take only the colors you find most pleasing; you can change the amount of each color within the palette to suit your taste or the space in question and obviously you can add to a palette.

I think the photo above with its rich browns, blacks and creamy warm walls captures the colors of the pier quite well.  Overall the value of light colors and dark colors is pretty spot on.   Not only the palette of the wharf is captured but a bit of the mood too.  Strength, a bit of chaos, masculine, with a worn and weathered vibe glazed over the whole thing.  This room is wharf like to me, I think it’s a good comparison.

tumblr_mu1fy19WVt1qcgzt2o1_1280Here’s the same palette, stripped back to something much more sleek a more livable version of the messy working space above.  This room gives a vintage undercurrent, it’s strong and masculine and has the boldness and the simplicity of the wharf image.   it is the photograph refined down the essential oils of the colors, materials and strong masculine mood.   Vintage, warm, woodsy, everything is just sharpened, clearer.  To me the collection on the sideboard gives me a bit of the chaos of the wharf supports, the polished concrete is a great stand-in for the sand.

What inspires you?  Have a favorite scarf? Use it.  In love with the rolling hills of the Pennsylvania landscape in spring? Use it.  Pick your colors based on what your comfortable with, go with your gut, but what you love.  Oh, and don’t be afraid of not making a statement, sometimes a whisper is more of statement and more powerful.

 

TREND ALERT – WATERLOGUE

February 4, 2014

 water2  I was a part of the trend setting an I didn’t even know it.  I was just obsessed with Waterlogue like everyone else.  Little did I know this app would become so massively popular.  Waterlogue is a  downloadable application you can use on a phone or tablet that transforms any photograph into a beautiful, painterly image.  Designers, and other interior obsessed Instagramers, bloggers and the like are all obsessed with the pretty watercolor like images the app produces.   Just look at how pretty… delft2

Once I started I couldn’t stop. I have Waterlogued my pets, my home, landscapes, images from vacations past, my garden… everything.  And, there’s no sign of me stopping.  If you’re creative, or an artist that can’t paint, or if you just love pretty paintings, you’ll love Waterlogue.  water3water1

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Trophys of culinary design, stainless steel appliances still reign supreme, but the trend in kitchens seems to walk a fine line between hiding appliances behind cabinetry and celebrating them.  These days I lean toward minimizing them without hiding them.  I  do like a refrigerator behind paneled doors but choose to leave my range, dishwasher and hoods exposed… a dishwasher can sometimes be hard to find when hidden too well and when did we all get so busy hiding everything that is so essential in a kitchen anyway?  It’s a kitchen!  I do think about sight-lines from doorways, banquette and other rooms and try to place attractive cabinets in highly visible areas vs. a trash compactor or dishwasher.  But, come on… we all have kitchens, we all need appliances… do kitchens really have to look like dens?

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What I do covet and hope to use on a small project coming up shortly are stainless countertops.  I am over marble and granite.  I want to do something that feels less fancy, less expected and frankly more industrial and user-friendly.  I will combine butcher block and stainless in my next kitchen renovation.  White cabinets and walls and maybe even floors, but no granite for this guy.  I would rather have an integrated sink and back-splash all made from stainless steel.

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I am still a fan of  restaurant style tables and fixtures… for me a kitchen is a kitchen.  It doesn’t need faux painting, it doesn’t need carved grape leaf corbels and mahogany hood covers.  Gosford Park, Downton Abbey, The Breakers… these great old houses and many, many others got it right.  Their kitchens are utility driven, simple, clean and efficient.  It’s not as thought there isn’t still a “look”.  The images I’ve posted show a kitchen can still chic without trying to fool people into thinking they aren’t in a kitchen.

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White and stainless is nothing new, it has become a classic that can be used in unlimited ways to suit space, style, budget and project.  it feels effortless, easy and unfussed.  I love a clean simple space – with some exuberance injected, I’m still a designer after all – that allows the function of the space drive the aesthetic.   what do you think?

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I’m not a fan of wall decor…  Things fabricated simply to absorb wall space feel forced, uninspired and frankly cheap.  We’re not talking about art or sculpture, I’m talking about “filler”.  If I have a large wall to fill, brackets or wall-mounted display shelves are a favorite of mine.  If they are flanking a mirror, even better. Who doesn’t love what a mirror does for a space.  It can reflect a pretty view and increase the natural light in any given space. Mirrors add depth, and a bit of shimmer and plentiful enough so that they can be tailored to any decor.  Mirrors are a decorators very best friend.

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I like to choose mirror frame finishes that don’t compete or mimic any art frames in the spaces I design.  Natural materials like drift wood, horn and shell are favorites.  This way a gold or black frame “story” is highlighted and the decorative frames come forward via texture or they ease into the  into the layers of the room.  Don’t get too matchy-matchy or your look could end up flat and uninspired.  Lesson: We want to see the art in a room first, decor second.  Other materials like resin, paper mache and metal also make good choices when it comes to choosing the right look for a mirror.

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Scale is also a huge component when it comes to getting it right in the mirror department.  A few good and general rules of thumb are to keep a mirror narrower than the piece is being hung over but don’t be afraid of going big!  A tall narrow mirror will add the height to a room and adding to the vertically of a space is never a bad idea.  A wide short mirror will stretch the width of a space, creating a low horizontal effect best suited for Craftsman, Modern, Deco and other styles that embrace a horizontal aesthetic.  Can’t find the perfect mirror? Go to your local frame shop and have one made to your specifications.  Now go out and buy yourself a mirror.  xo

Cheap & Chic

January 27, 2014


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Unfortunately those words don’t describe the same object a large percentage of the time.  Often when searching for well made furniture and accessories, “buy the best, cry once” is closer to home as is “you get what you pay for”.  Now I’m not saying good design has to be expensive, but when it comes to home furnishings, things that last, heirloom pieces you plan to have forever will cost more… it’s just a fact.  Deals can be found, gifts can be received, that Picasso from the thrift store could happen, really.  Until then there are pieces that once integrated into a melange of furnishings read lux when intact they are CHEAP & CHIC.

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Take this Honeycomb Gold Foil table lamp base for instance.  Sold out of most Target stores, it’s still available on-line… It’s $55.00, that’s cheap.  I’d pair it with a linen sofa, white side tables and splash around a few additional accents of gold. Voila!  You have a subtly 70’s glam vibe, that could be taken hippie chic or hollywood regency depending on the silhouette ‘s of your furniture and the colors/textures of your fabric choices.  And, this for $72.00 isn’t too bad either… I’d have preferred less of the patina.

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