IMG_7270 So this first picture is really the aftermath, yep… it’s “the day after” but I really like the light and exposure in it and I think this image has more to tell than the frames I shot getting ready and throughout the night.  A good time was had by all and the room looked great with the gold and silver decor.  I didn’t hang globes from the chandelier, but i did hang streamers ove all the curtain rods and made great looking and festive “sheers” a must for next year!  The balloons allowed me to get the streamers into the middle of the room, the effect was great.  I also allowed for a touch of winter by leaving the faux-snow I had out, and using white ornaments to fill a hurricane.


Our menu was: To start, Gougeres, Scallops with Bacon Jam, Avocado and Orange Salad, then we had Filet of Beef with Mushrooms, Creamed Spinach, Yorkshire Pudding AND then we had Champagne and Baked Alaska.


What really struck me was the tradition of it all.  My Mom’s avocado, orange and shrimp salad for instance.  She always served it at Christmas, and it’s a great winter salad.   And, it seems my default New Years the dessert has become baked Alaska; I love to make it – home-made pound cake base, 3 kinds of home-made ice cream (Chocolate, Sour Cream and Raspberry) all stacked neatly under my new favorite… Meringue.  Even the plates and serving platters had meaning… the fish plates were my Grandmothers and the Scallop platter was a wedding gift.  Decorations are important but things with meaning will resonate and add a layer of sentiment streamers can’t. IMG_7281I did want to make the night fun and silly for our guests, So I put up a crown making station in the front hall.  Guests drank champagne, nibbled on tasty bits and hot glued to their hearts content making hats for the big countdown.  It was a great success.  We chose to draw numbers that corresponded to a particular pile of supplies, but you could just make a pile and let folks go crazy.  And, yes… everyone started out with a 1/2 a Veuve Clicquot  Champagne box as a base.  good times! IMG_7283

New Years Eve Ideas

December 29, 2014

10fbe018cdf02acbcd4b7bfb9caca7c4There’s still time to plan and implement a creative and festive dinner party or dessert party or cocktail party for New Years Eve.  You already have a theme, or I’d suggest you pick that first.  Next decide on a look or palette so that there is consistency in your decorations.  I think I’ll go with Gold and Silver with dashes of Black, it feels classic, if feels fancy & Black-tie-ish and I know I have boxes of Christmas balls in gold and silver that can be put to good use.  And, if I mix metals iI can use sterling place settings and everything will tie together.


I like the idea of hanging the metallic finish orbs and thin metallic streamers from the chandler, so I’ll start there and I think I’ll float helium balloons to the ceiling and let more of the metallic streamers hand from those.


These flag banners are easy to make.  You can stencil “Happy New Year” on hand cut triangles or leave them plain – and by plain I mean glittered or painted or something – and string them together with metalic streamers, ribbon or what have you. enhanced-buzz-7964-1354459961-3

Not sure if these wouldn’t make for a messy drink stirrer but maybe as part of the hat making station? or stuck in a cake? But thought they were cute… What would you use these for?


I think this is a very cute idea for napkin rings.  You might not have time to source enough old charming watches to make it to this years table but start looking for them now and by next year you could have enough to invite everyone you know for New Years eve dinner.

enhanced-buzz-7336-1355247668-9 This project is easy and makes a big impact!  Cut out numbers 2 0 1 3 and wrap with metallic streamers and hang in front of a mirror, mantle or any spot that could use a punch of festivity!  Wrapping hides the cut edges of the foam-coreposter or card board so it is an upgrade from simply painting or even glittering.


Not sure how else I’d use these other than a add-on for a “make your own hat” station so party guests can get creative and build a crown or hat for the big countdown.  Set-up a 6 foot table with old costume jewelry, colored paper, glitter, feathers (dipped in gold of course) and any other bright and shiny object you think would look fabulous on a hat!

enhanced-buzz-10472-1355255058-5So yeah, a hat making station… I would definitely add  this to make a party just a bit more whimsical, loosen people up (if the champagne isn’t doing it) and give folks something to do together, to talk about and a reason to take pictures, selifies and Instagram pictures.

glittervotive Try this cute idea of adding a glitter edge to your votives.  it’s a simple and easy way to dress up an inexpensive glass votive.  I saw the “how to” on Uncommon Designs Online, use the link to find out how easy they are to make.

starsI think I’m going to try and make these but fill them with a wish, or fortune or small surprise!  I saw these on the Minna May blog page and think they are worth promoting.  If you want to learn how to make them click this link:  What ever you end up doing I hope you have a terrific New Years and I’ll see you next year!


Nope, still not tired of a fresh and clean looking white kitchen.  

– warm it up with wood

-keep it simple with open shelving

– light it up with interesting fixtures

-add texture with tile or stone

– introduce a twist like brass fixtures and hardware


Amy Bartlam Photography


Same thing goes fro the bathroom…



indulgent? maybe… but what I’m really trying to do is give you insight to what someone on your list might like by reflecting on what I might like.  See?  I’m doing you a favor by blogging about what I want. Starting with the Patagonia Undyed Cashmere Sweater *swoon*.  Inspired by India’s mountainous north, where winter clothes are measured both by their functionality and elegance, this rendition of their classic Snap-T Pullover is crafted from undyed and minimally processed cashmere. Its straight-from-the-goat coloring–naturals, browns and tans–reflect hues only found in nature; fewer chemicals and less dyes lessen environmental impacts and result in a softer hand. The fabric’s subtle waffle knit adds warmth, and the cuffs, inside collar and hem are exceptionally soft next to skin. Details include a signature Snap-T-style, 4-snap nylon woven placket, stand-up collar and single-snapped chest pocket with a nylon woven flap to secure essentials. it’s pricey at $399.00 but look at it, cool huh?


For a smaller budget but certainly as warm if not warmer, the LLBean Packaway Jacket is the layer you’ll reach for all year-round.  It’s remarkably light PrimaLoft One insulation is surprisingly warm, the ultralight ripstop nylon shell is treated to shed water and block wind and is a highly compact alternative to fleece… it packs into its own hand pocket.  It’s not a stretch when they call this the most versatile jacket they sell. Incredibly light yet surprisingly warm, the jacket is an ideal layer in winter and perfect alone for changeable conditions in spring and fall. Because it packs down so small, it’s perfect to bring along in any weather.


The YOSEMITE QUILTED BLAZER is a favorite! from James Perse, this one should also be considered for only the very best on your list ($450.00 retail) but it’s a beauty.  Sure, all types of puffy coats are on trend, but this one dresses up and keeps you looking chic and warm.  This water resistant goose down filled quilted blazer has a crosshatch textured wool-like suiting fabric. I love the sport coat styling of the button front and curved bottom opening. Four-button detail on sleeve bottom is a nice touch and the left chest pocket and two front welt pockets with flap detail might come in handy if I’m wearing gloves or carrying a cell phone.


The Copenhagen-based outfitter NORSE PROJECTS has been producing utilitarian vintage-style outerwear, inspired by the often-harsh Scandinavian weather, and giving it a subtle streetwear twist since 2004. JCrew now offers this jacket that Takes cues from classic hunting jackets, the Lindisfarne is made from British Millerain waxed cotton canvas (the company has been the specialist in all-weather cotton since the 1880s) with a Primaloft® insulated lining.  Originally designed for the U.S. Army, Primaloft is made of tiny fibers that trap air to keep you extra warm.  It’s finished with leather-tipped drawstrings, this jacket is a state-of-the-art take on a tried-and-true workhorse.  And, it the most expensive at $690.00 ouch. I do love it.

Make your own… WREATH

December 2, 2014

IMG_6550It’s snowing on my blog page, so it must be time to make Christmas decorations or in this case a holiday wreath.  I made one today to be auctioned at a fund-raiser for our local Art Museum -NBAM.  Most importantly when you’re making a wreath, decide what the aesthetic is going to be, shop to that aesthetic and stick to your plan, deviation will only get you into trouble.  That said if you get into trouble along the way and need to adjust your plan… well that’s only human.  When I was deciding what my wreath  build I knew I wanted it to have a “design” theme, and I have baskets and baskets filled with leftover fabric scraps kept for past jobs, so I dug out as many rich reds and interesting patterned reds as I could find and got to work.


I started with the cheapest shatter resistant ornaments I could find in the sizes I wanted to work with and a “starter wreath”.  Note: I thought I wanted balls only (no greenery) but after giving it some thought I knew that plan would involve many more hand-wrapped balls and leave much less room for error.   Floral wire and a glue gun rounded out the necessary equipment.  I loosely wrapped a ball in fabric and cut away the excess fabric to create a rough circle, from this I cut out the remaining fabrics that would be used on this sized ball.  Give your fabric a quick iron if it’s not perfectly smooth.  IMG_6522After you have the fabrics cut to the specific ball size, wrap each individually gathering carefully around the stem of the ball.  Holding the ball with one had wrap floral wire around your gathered end twice and pull tightly, I found pulling with pliers worked best.  Twist the wire to close tightly around the gathered fabric and trim any access fabric.  If your fabric feels loose ( and it shouldn’t) use hot glue to secure the wire to the fabric, or anywhere else you feel it needs it.

IMG_6518Be thoughtful when placing colors and textures mix them up and vary the size and shade of neighboring balls.  With the long tails of your wires, pull them through the support ring or starter wreath and secure to the back by twisting wires to each other or to the framework of the ring.  I think it makes it much easier to establish where your top is and balance colors and number of balls as you go, side to side.  I worked on a flat surface and pulled the wreath over the edge of the table to make it easier to feed the wires through and reach them from underneath.

IMG_6519Some puckering is to be expected but do your best to get a smooth top and sides on each of the wrapped balls.  Don’t twist the wire too tight as it may break.  If it does add new wire and move on as described above.  Since you have a plan, you already know if you’re working evenly around the ring, or if – like me – you want heavy at the top tapering off to nothing on the opposite side.  I like the bits of greenery poking up between the two sized ornaments, I think it softens the look, and holds it all together visually and still has a bit of tradition to it.  If you are up for the challenge, you could just have the greenery showing from the back and have the face of the wreath just balls, or use a ring with no greenery at all.  But, be warned this will take quite a bit of wrapping, wiring and securing.

IMG_6527Ultimately I decided on three sizes of balls for my wreath.  The smallest – which are not wrapped btw, they are store-bought, as is, sparkly red – filled the gaps between the larger balls and give dimension.  I also chose to leave a few of the largest balls uncovered as well for the sparkle.  The fabric only look was feeling a bit flat to me.  See, we all make adjustments along the way.   IMG_6549

Total cost for this wreath was around $85.00 but I did splurge on a new glue gun, so $75.00 or so.  If you already have a “pine” wreath, recycle it… you end up seeing so little of it.  The ring I bought was 27.00 at the local Micheal’s and the shatter-proof balls were 14.99 a package.   I might add a bow, what do you think?  Good Luck and Happy Holidays.

Ok, back to design and architecture…

I can’t CONTAIN myself, I just love these houses, just enough modern with a mid-century vibe and sustainable… I’m in! Smitten in fact.  Can you believe that with a $40,000 budget, Benjamin Garcia Saxe used two 40-foot long shipping containers to create this cozy 1,000 square feet space. The home is located in San Jose, Costa Rica, and proves you don’t need deep pockets to fund a shipping container home project.

15-Shipping-Containers-Turned-Into-Designer-Homes-1The design team at Studio H:T thought a bit outside of the box with this one. Rather than build the entire home from shipping containers, they chose to add 2 storage containers to the outsides of a pre-existing structure. The residence is nestled on a ledge in Nederland, Colorado, and includes roof mounted solar panels, passive cooling, and much more.

15-Shipping-Containers-Turned-Into-Designer-Homes-4Guest houses are typically small anyway, so why not build yours from a recycled shipping container? Designed by the team at Poteet Architects, this modern living space spans 360 square feet, and has everything one would need from a living room and study area, right down to the bathroom and patio.


Designed to be inexpensive and portable, the Port-A-Bach is the exact picture that comes to mind when we think of storage container dwellings. The tiny home was built back in 2007 by the team at Atelierworkshop, and features a double bed alongside 2 fold out bunk beds, providing sleeping quartes for up to 4 people. Unfolding the boxy home provides a nice deck to enjoy to enjoy everything the great outdoors has to offer.


Great aren’t they?  I’d love a piece of land, with a view to place one of these sustainable, unique and easily built structures.  To see these and more like them visit that’s where I got these images and most of the copy.


Taylor Swift

November 29, 2014

Taylor 7I’m not going to lie, I used to hate Taylor Swift (sorry Taylor).  Her first few songs while catchy seemed out of tune to me and I thought she was all flash and no talent.  I was wrong.  She has proven herself to be first and foremost, a good singer as well as a good song writer and the package is tasteful, pretty and she someone I wouldn’t mind my daughter (if I had one) looking up to.  She’s the real deal.

 Taylor 1 Taylor 2

I know 48 year old men (yes, I’m 48… get over it I have) like myself are not the target audience for Taylor, but thats the genius of Taylor Swift.  Her tunes are so catchy and good we ALL like them, even those who still resist, find them selves humming one of here tunes after hearing it in the grocery store, the elevator or the DMV.  I’m not asking you to love her if it’s just not your cup of tea but do me a small favor and read the bio below, and then tell me she isn’t pretty amazing.

Taylor 3 Taylor 4 Taylor 5 Taylor 6

24 year-old Taylor Swift is a seven-time GRAMMY winner, and is the youngest winner in history of the music industry’s highest honor, the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. She is the only female artist in music history (and just the fourth artist ever) to twice have an album (2012’s RED and 2010’s Speak Now) hit the 1 million first-week sales figure.

With RED, Taylor became the first artist since the Beatles (and the only female artist in history) to log six or more weeks at #1 with three consecutive studio albums. RED has topped the Billboard 200 Albums Chart for seven weeks, following Fearless (11 weeks), and Speak Now (six weeks).

With more than 1.2 million copies sold in the U.S. in its first week, RED scored the highest first-week sales debut of any album in over a decade, had the 8th largest first-week debut in chart history, and marked the 2nd biggest week ever for a female artist. Taylor’s lead single from RED, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” set a new record for the biggest digital sales week ever for a song by a woman, and for the second-largest sales week overall.

With RED, Taylor also set a new worldwide iTunes record for highest ever first-week album sales, and RED reached #1 on iTunes and national sales charts in 50 countries, including the UK, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, Ireland, Argentina, New Zealand, Ireland, and Australia. The RED Tour heads to Europe in 2014.

In early 2012, Taylor’s Speak Now album was lauded on Rolling Stone’s prestigious The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time (by women) list, and Time magazine has named Taylor one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She is Billboard’s youngest-ever Woman of the Year, and her more than 100 industry award wins have included the American Music Awards’ Artist of the Year (twice), the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year (both also twice), and three European Music Awards. Taylor is also the most awarded star in the history of the Teen Choice Awards, taking home honors for both music and movies.

Taylor, who writes all of her own songs, has career record sales in excess of 26 million albums and 75 million song downloads worldwide, and her two most recent albums are two of only 18 albums in the entire history of music to sell more than 1 million copies in a single week. She has had singles top both the country and pop radio charts around the globe, and has thus far scored 13 #1 singles across multiple radio formats. She is one of the top 5-selling digital music artists worldwide, and is the top-selling digital artist in country music history.

Taylor is Billboard’s reigning Artist of the Year and holds the Billboard records for the Most Top 10 Debuts in the History of the Hot 100 Chart, the Most Charting Songs from One Album in a Single Week, and the Longest Charting Album on the Top 200 Chart.

This year, the North American portion of Taylor’s RED Tour played to more than 1.36 million fans over 66 shows (including 13 stadium stops) in 47 cities in 29 states and 3 provinces spanning 6 months. And, starting in late November, Taylor will take her RED Tour, which Rolling Stone dubbed “a massively excellent show,” Down Under, performing stadium shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, as well as arena dates in Auckland. Swift will be the first solo female artist in twenty years to undertake a national stadium concert tour of Australia.

Her SPEAK NOW World Tour played 111 shows to more than 1.5 million fans in sold-out stadiums and arenas in 19 countries spanning four continents in 2011 and 2012. Her 107-date FEARLESS 2009/2010 Tour sold out arenas and stadiums in 88 cities in five countries.

Taylor voiced the character of Audrey in the 2012 hit movie “Dr. Seuss’s The LORAX,” and has written the end credit song “Sweeter Than Fiction” for the movie “One Chance,” a bio pic of Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts. She also contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the movie “The Hunger Games,” winning a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media, and earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song. She has hosted Saturday Night Live, appeared in the Garry Marshall film “Valentine’s Day,” and guest-starred on the Emmy-winning TV drama CSI.

*This biography taken from

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