Stairway to Heaven

January 5, 2016


An architect makes a house, a staircase makes a home… if it’s a show stopper like these!  I love a dramatic staircase because foyers and stairwells are typically difficult to festoon or bedazzle with furniture and fabric, although one or two of these images may prove me wrong.  It’s really all in how they are designed, built and decorated.  If you’re not lucky enough to have the budget or space to create something magical, work with what you’ve got a god for some DRAMA.  imageAlways a classic, the white painted riser and the black tread makes a statement.  It’s an elegant choice and can be achieved on almost any typical staircase.  All one color works too, but go for something bold if you choose a monochromatic  look.  The sisal on these stairs is a nice counter  to the slick, shiny formality of the black and white.  It ‘s the perfect Yang for the stairs Ying.  …if you know what I mean.  imageYou might not have an all brass circular staircase  in your home or apartment – get one if you can – but you could think about panting  existing metal  balusters antique gold in lieu of the expected black.    You can also replace  balusters without replacing your entire hand rail system, check into it if you hate yours.  imageMMMMMM…. I do like a spanish influence, and these stairs are pretty classic.  In the  States, I think you’d see more terra-cotta tile with these pretty decorative painted tiles but simple cement stairs like this  that are made on site are everywhere in Mexico, Spain, Portugal and other  countries… I find this style charming and they last forever.  imageLet’s just pretend you are stuck with a plain old, run of the mill staircase.  First paint it, stain it or do what ever it needs to freshen it up.  Then add pattern, animal works for me.  But if you a bit more conservative you can go geometric or stripe… but I suggest animal.  Grrrrr.  imageYour last resort, the absolute final final option is add art, LOTS of art, like Philip Mitchell did at the Kips Bay Show House (and follow him on Facebook too, he’s fab).  He actually did a lot more than just toss some art around, the rug, wall coverings, paint, light fixtures and everything else you see were all carefully hand chosen – you should be as diligent.  But if all else fails, add art.


If you’re going to leave it bare, and I mean completely naked… you had better have one sexy staircase already!

imageHere is how I updated my back stairs.  I painted the risers and left the treads a stained pumpkin color and added an antelope pattered broadloom, expertly installed I might add.  The texture of the V-groove vertical boards is enough to add interest without hanging art.

FYI: Stair_Parts_copy


HERMITS (you’re welcome)

January 23, 2014

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HERMITS: My new favorite cookie… soon to be yours.  I might reduce the clove if you’re using freshly ground and I upped the recipe from 20 to 22 minutes in the oven to 22 to 24 because mine were a tad underdone at 21 minutes, so stick to the 22 to 24 minute suggestion.  This is the perfect winter cookie.

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  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour      
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda      
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger      
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon      
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cloves      
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt      
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature      
  • 1 cup loosely packed light-brown sugar      
  • 1 large egg, room temperature      
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses      
  • 3/4 cup raisins

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  1. STEP 1

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Note: you won’t need the oven for 45 minutes – this step can happen after your dough goes into the fridge.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; set aside.

  2. STEP 2

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl once. Add molasses; beat until combined, and scrape down sides of bowl. Add the flour mixture and raisins; beat on low until dough just comes together, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap; place in refrigerator to chill 30 minutes.

  3. STEP 3

    Remove dough from refrigerator, and turn out onto a clean work surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces, and shape each piece into a 12-inch log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheet, at least 3 inches apart.

  4. STEP 4

    Place in oven, and bake until logs are golden but still very soft to the touch, 22 to 24 minutes. The logs will flatten out and lengthen as they bake and get slightly puffy in the center. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice logs into 1-inch-wide bars. Hermit bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 1

Snow Patterns

December 5, 2013


Winter isn’t quite here but it’s snowing on WordPress so I thought I’d pass this along.  Art, in a fleeting medium, winters paint… SNOW, a gift from nature.  Enjoy!

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One Man Walks All Day to Create These Spectacular Snow PatternsAlong the frozen lakes of Savoie, France, artist Simon Beck spends days plodding through the snow in raquettes (snowshoes), creating these sensational patterns of snow art.

Working up to 9 hours a day, each snow quilt is the size of three soccer fields!  How long these magnificent geometric forms survive is completely dependent on the weather.  Beck redesigns the patterns as new snow falls.  Sometimes he is unable to finish a piece due to overnight accumulations.

“The main reason for making them was because I can no longer run properly due to problems with my feet, so plodding about on level snow is the least painful way of getting exercise. Gradually the reason has become photographing them, and I am considering buying a better camera”. – Simon Beck


…and BABY MAKES 3!

January 27, 2013


Yesterday was the big day! I woke up on a friends sofa yesterday morning – it was about 5am – to be able to make an early morning flight to Chicago to pick up our baby boy. From Chicago we took a connecting flight to Milwaukee rented a car and drove 45 south to Wadsworth, IL. It was a bright andbeautiful day, and traffic was easy.  He was born on a farm and had 5 brothers and sisters. 227005_10200181334881851_311209140_nWe decided to add a sweet little boy Wire Fox Terrier to the clan and baby makes 3.  Boomer our 13-year-old Wire is going strong and Ny!a the 2-year-old Border Terrier seems to have taken to him already.  Oh and yes, I decided to get a dog on the same weekend  I’m headed to NYC for the Gift Show – so my husband is in charge at home!  Maybe I’m a little crazy but seriously, when is a good time to get a puppy? Anytime!? Never!?  Let the poop patrol begin, the up at night trips outside, the training and the all-of-it I say.  Were ready.  I now understand the families ( I mean “real” kids ) that reach numbers like 4 or 5 or… it’s a bit addictive, like tattoos.  lol, the takeaway: Kids and puppies are like Tattoos – JUST KIDDING.  But puppies are a lot like kids, just saying.
200504_10200256376477844_1839811094_nYour guess is as good as mine which of these tiny beasts is our little guy.  We got this picture a few weeks ago… It could be one, two or four.  This particular type of Wire Fox Terrier is referred to as a Ginger.  He will grow up to be white with red/tan markings.  His father (see last image) is also a ginger – a Wire Fox Terrier lacking the black markings typically found on this breed is called a Ginger.  Cute aren’t they? 538578_10200253455644825_361924691_nHere is proud Mama, watching over her babies from a comfy chair (not) in the breeders kitchen.  Poor thing was probably lifted out of the kennel just to get a quick shot of the little ones.  Did you know Snoopy of the “Peanuts” cartoon was originally drawn from and  a Wire Fox Terrier, not a Beagle?! I swear it.  When we lived in California we used the same veterinarian as Charles Shultz, so we got the 411 from the man himself!

I promise that Mr. Barr won’t become too puppy obsessed, but I also promise to post a shot of the little man when does something extra cute.  This last image is Papa.  Dealer-show-2009-CROP

Health & Fitness

January 23, 2013


I wouldn’t say I’m one of the converted… I cheat and I could be doing more/better… BUT I would say I’m more conscientious about how i treat my body and what I put into my body and of course, how much I exercise. I have been on every diet you can name (I’ll spare you the list) my issues with weight started young, I can remember being the heavy kid as far back as 5th grade. Let me tell you I know it’s not much fun to be conscious and aware of your body in a negative at such an early age. With giving you too much information it definitely affects the way you view and approach all things.


My mom and I did the Scarsdale Diet together when I was in high-school. It works I lost weight but I still didn’t look like the guys I wanted to look like. It took 35 years or so to have it really sink in that it’s about lifestyle and exercise. Want to look like an underwear model? Here’s my version of what it will take to get you there. (My trainer is DYING right now, sorry Lara… this is a gay guys “cliff’s notes” version). Of course you should consult a certified trainer, nutritionist and perhaps your doctor before embarking on a major life change, even if it’s all towards a healthier life.



2. Cut out all artificial sweeteners, all diet soda and other artificially flavored and/or sweetened beverages.


4. I heard it said lately… If there’s a commercial for it, don’t eat it. This is for the most part true. Free your body for preservatives, modified foods and other unnatural ingredients. Eat fresh, locally harvested foods if possible.


6. Avoid (most) food products that are white. This is an over-simplified rule because there are good white foods like beans and egg whites…but Sugar, Flour, Rice, Bread, Pasta, Milk (and most dairy) are all “bad”. Most of those things are carbohydrates. Yeah, yeah there are “good”and “bad” carbohydrates but when in question avoid it and your body will thank you by not holding on to excess weight.


8. Exercise. Do what ever you’re comfortable with. Run, jump rope, do push-ups, join a gym and walk on the tread mill, take a yoga class, dance, bike… better yet do all of those things especially if you like to eat. The more you consume the more you’ll want to burn off doing some sort of activity. I hired a trainer, she is a great support system, motivator and having a trainer assures I’m getting my workouts in and doing it safely. (Boutique Fitness “Shout-Out” for all my local readers looking for a great trainer).


10. Remember it’s a lifestyle. This doesn’t have an end date, there is no two week time frame. You don’t just wake up after a cleanse and love your body. It takes time and dedication to a healthy lifestyle. I reinforce that term “lifestyle” because this is forever like getting married or quitting drinking. Decide you deserve more, decide you deserve better, get up off the sofa, make your self an almond milk smoothie with some almonds and half a piece of fruit and start living… Healthfully.

I love you.


Linen is one of the oldest woven fabrics in human history. Made of fibers from the flax plant, this material was once considered suitable only for royalty.  This is an expensive fabric to manufacture. Flax is a temperamental plant to grow, and the quality of the finished product depends largely on the quality of the plant itself. The flax fibers are found in the stalk, which is picked by hand to preserve the fibers’ integrity — another reason flax is expensive.  Separating the fibers is also a long and tedious process if performed correctly. Some flax is processed on cotton machines, but this results in a lower-quality finished fiber. Most fabric flax is grown today in Western Europe, and the finer quality linen comes from there, as well.  Linen is a strong and natural fabric suitable for everything from Window treatments, to bedding to upholstery to clothing.


I love linen because it’s the only fabric I feel you can invite to any party.  Linen does black tie, mix it with crystal, gold, Rocco details and silk and it fits right in.  It’s a quality fabric and makes a beautiful velvet and looks like a million embroidered.  Not the style your looking for? No problem, Lien plays well with Cotton (Denim, Duct, Twill, Poplin, you-name-it).  When Cotton is Linens Baby-Daddy the product is an easily cared for, all natural blend that….   Linen will mix with iron and glass, marble and polished chrome and brass and lucite it just depends on how you employ it.Linen makes a great sofa fabric high brow or low brow however I prefer it tightly upholstered.  It behaves better.  If you want slip-covers look for a blend or go cotton so it has complete and total washability, the reason for slip-covers if you ask me.   Linen drapes hang beautifully but don’t expect a crisp starched look.  Very quickly after hanging linen will find it comfort zone and relax into a soft edged vibe that begs you to relax and unwind.  Try linen drapes in a bedroom, beach house or any where you want a soft romantic aesthetic.

210191507578740460_xZxcOEnd_c(SIDE BAR: Drinking Game!  Every time I refer to my self (I, ME, MY) you take a DRINK, everytime I use the word love, you take a DRINK and every time I use the word aesthetic finish your drink… BOTTOMS UP!  Thats it’s.  Please if you decide to play, try to read after 5pm, in the comfort of your own home… and remember DRINK responsibly)


OK, back to Linen and it’s many virtues.  did you know… Good quality linen is soft and largely free of the “slubs” or small knots often associated with it. Slubs are only found in lesser quality fabric.  Linen is moth-resistant and repels dirt. It can absorb and lose water quickly, and it can also help “wick” perspiration away from the skin.  Modern garments made from linen are expensive because of the expensive manufacturing and weaving process. However, the fabric readily accepts dye, so it can be manufactured in many colors. The material is lightweight, which makes it suitable for spring and summer wear. It looks crisp, cool and neat, even on the warmest days. Most linen can also be washed in a home machine.

LAYER While You Can

January 18, 2013


Shirts and sweaters and jackets Oh MY!  And, vests, ties, gloves, hats and SCARFS.  Yes Gentlemen the time to layer is now.  Don’t miss out as we lose the cold weather of winter we will lose the opportunity to layer it up with all that fashion has to offer us these days.  At the top of my personal list is the scarf, yes the man scarf is everywhere and the bigger the better.  I have taken to wearing a scarf so big (James Perse cashmere) it doubles as a blanket!  Scarf leery?  No worries, start small and work with a scarf doubled with the ends pulled though the loop.  This is a fast and easy application that suits scarf and tuxedo, scarf and blazer, scarf and denim jacket or even scarf and T-shirt… YES, scarf and T-shirt.  Don’t knock it tip you’ve tried it.  tumblr_mghebjvXJr1qdfusyo1_500

Vests are a game changer too.  Leave the sport coat at home and layer your chambray shirt and knit tie or bow tie with a vest.  You’ll look pulled together and fashionable but you’ll gain the comfort and flexibility of not wearing a suit jacket, blazer or whathaveyou.  This goes for the puffy vest too, only try this one on the weekend with that new scarf you just bought.  although I’d rock a neck tie and puffy vest, anyway… the point is, a dress shirt and a V-neck sweater doesn’t cut it any more.  tumblr_mf31jfqi7z1qg4knho1_500

If you’re just not up for taking the time to work out a look beyond your regular shirt and coat, add a pocket square and that alone will update your look and add a dash style instantly.  If all else fails, you just can’t be bothered, you’re not a fashionista and maybe your happy in that “I don’t give into fashion” place… Do me a favor, Put on a cashmere or merino wool turtle neck with a sport coat or blazer and your darkest pair of denims before you hit the cold street of your hometown. I promise it will add a skip to your step.  And if you’re not looking for a skip in your step, your reading the wrong blog. 
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