Sunday, January 17, 2016

My home's feature in Italy's Casa da Sogno magazine

Last year I was contacted by an Italian journalist asking if she could feature my home
 in an Italian magazine.  Casa da Sogno, which means Dream Home, 
features beautiful homes from around the world.
November 2015 cover of Casa da Sogno
 I was honored to be asked, and although this publication is not sold in the United States, I was able to get the article from my friend, Cindy Roe Blackenburg.  Cindy is also a design blogger and was  featured in the same November 2015 issue.  The cover lists our features, which I translated to read
 "Romantic Interiors for the House of Amy" and "Elegant Brocante for Cindy".   Her home is one of my all time favorites, as it is decorated in the French style with vintage mix that I love so much. 
I will provide a link at the end to her blog so you can get a look at her gorgeous home, 
all of which she has been remodeling with her husband with stunning results.
Cindy provided scanned images from the magazine, as she was lucky enough to get her hands on a real copy.  I finally got to see it this week, and I think it looks beautiful. They did lighten the pics quite a bit, which distorts the colors a bit, but it still looks great and fun was to see.  I took all of these photographs the day after Matthew Mead photographed my house for his DECORATING magazine. 
(That magazine is on my blog sidebar with a link to purchase if you are interested).   If you haven't seen a copy yet, then these images will be new to you.  If you have seen the DECORATING magazine you will note that there are photos of my kitchen that wasn't featured as well as additional angles of many of the rooms.  I hope you enjoy looking through "the pages" of Casa da Sogno, even if you can't speak Italian!  I include an interview at the end, which is what most of the text of the article is taken from, but I have not translated it, so hopefully it is all nice stuff, haha.

The interviewer asked me to answer the following questions, and so I 
imagine the article's translation would contain much of this information
I provided to them.  It is included below if you are interested.
1. What is your favourite room? 
My favorite room is my living room, as it has my favorite things in it.  The antique blue opaline chandelier and the hand painted Italian table are both very dear to me. I love how antiques bring a room to life, and both of these really add a dimension of age and time to a room that is rather new.

What do you like most in decoration? 

I love decorating with antiques and vintage objects as I feel a room has much more personality when it has links to the past.  I wonder, what room and home did this item live its previous life, and who was it's custodian?  Connections to the past feel more real than just running out and picking something up at a home decor store. Color is also  important in decoration.  I like to stick to a neutral color palette and then add one color for interest.  I have an affinity for European stye, and this shows up in the way I have chosen to decorate the interior and exterior of our home.

Where do you live? 
I live in a small city outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Boston is a small yet fantastic city, my son has a shop there selling antiques called Pioneer Goods! I love to be able to travel to a major metropolitan city to access to all a city like Boston has to offer, yet only a short drive back home where we live our life in a more countrified setting.
These are just a few questions but please tell me a bit of you and your home. 
I am an interior designer who lives with my husband, sons and a new puppy.  I loved creating a home that is welcoming and embraces all that homemakers have to offer  their families.  To me it is a very important part of life, creating a beautiful setting, filled with family traditions, wonderful meals and enjoying each other's company and being supportive to one another.  We are a very lucky family and I know that my role is important in that way.  My design business takes up my spare time and I find it very fulfilling to create.  The need to create has taken me on many journeys, from professional curtain making when I was younger to designing and decorating  beautiful spaces for clients.  I recently had a run at the shopkeeping role, and found that took too much out of me, leaving not much left for the family life that I love. Currently I am working with other designers I respect doing collaborative projects.  My other interests are sketching, blogging, cooking, painting,  traveling, gardening, and playing with our dog.  

And now take a trip to this amazing home....
Visit Cindy's drool worthy home here at her blog Edith & Evelyn Vintage
Its really incredible!  Thanks again to Cindy for providing the images
so I could enjoy them and share them with you. 

And check out my blogger friend from England, Krissie's home that is the covergirl 
of the December issue of Casa da Sogno.  She has an enchanted cottage by the shore,
and it has been remodeled by her and her hubby as well.

Click here to see her feature. Its one enchanted little cottage filled with charm.
What fun to be surrounded with lovely blogging friends and to share these moments together.
I hope you enjoy these features and find a little pleasure and inspiration along the way.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

My first box of crayons

My creative journey quite possibly started when I was handed a box of crayons
in first grade.  At least I have strong memories of opening the box and smelling the 
scent of the new crayons. Being excited about it and then selecting a perfectly pointed new
crayon to start coloring on my school work.  I loved to color. Maybe I liked coloring more
than the other kids in first grade....I know creating and coloring did something to me.
If you had to remember your earliest memory of creativity, what and when would it be?
Fast forward a whole lot of years and I am still guided by my need to create.
Many of my friends are in this circle too, and thats no coincidence, as I think
like minded folks tend to gather around each other.  Last year I met a group of
multi-talented creatives when we all met via Matthew Mead when he featured us in
his magazines.  Left to right, Ellen McHale (artist) Matthew Mead (Lifestyle guru), 
Amy Chalmers (designer),  Sandra Cavallo (graphic artist and designer), 
Danielle Driscoll ( DIY design blogger), and Cary Goodrich (antique dealer) .
Its been terrific meeting these people and getting to work and socialize with them.
Of course you all have read my many posts about Matthew Mead.
We have been doing lots of projects together, including a recent trip antiquing
to New Hampshire for the day. Its always inspiring to be around him, as he is the king
of creativity in my book.  We both love antiques and vintage and its a pleasure seeing what
captures his eye and how he would interpret using it in home decor.
Cary Goodrich has a presence at both the famous Brimfield Fair and  Thoreauly Antiques Shop in Concord, Ma. Her creative eye picks the most wonderful smalls for collectors of all types, and 
I am always in awe of her personal collections and those she offers her customers. 
She showcases much of her intriguing collections on Instagram at CPGoodrich.  
Sandra Cavallo's home is the main attraction for her legions of Instagram followers.
Find her at OldSilverShed and see her brilliantly designed Cape Cod home.
Its quite possibly my most favorite house EVER.  Her background in design mixed with her
originality is evident in everything she does.   Simply amazing, this one.
Ellen McHale is a multi-media artist and she presented me with this portrait she
painted.  Her artwork is happy and fresh, and combines old bits of papers with paint 
from her palette.  Its so inspiring to me to see how others are creative.  Things they can do
I could never, and things I can do, they cannot....but we are all using our creative
energy to express ourselves.  And for me it started with a lovely box of crayons...
and a really fun and amazing first grade art teacher, whose name I don't remember.
(Danielle and Ellen at Sandra's house for a party, MM in background)
I was honored to be asked by Danielle to be featured on her blog as part of her 
"Creativity Over Coffee" series. 
 I liken it to a Dick Cavett interview...anyone remember him?  
Always interesting and thought provoking and pleasant. 
Danielle's interview is about the "Creative Process" and how one goes about finding theirs. 
This time it was my turn to share on her blog, Finding Silver Pennies.
It probably isn't as good as this interview, but who knows? 
They really are yucking it up over something Katherine Hepburn said.
  Dick looks embarrassed!! Hahah! 
But isn't it always interesting learning more about people in general?

So, get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine 
(depending upon your time zone and preference)
 and then head over to Danielles' blog to read more 
of this compelling and fascinating interview with moi (!!!!).

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Grey and White Winter Style

With Christmas 2015 in the books, so went all the decorations.
Our decor went from full on "Christmas Holiday" to "Winter Style". 
At first, I thought I would live with the tree for a bit longer, as in a winter forest tree...
just white lights and no ornaments, but it still felt too Christmassy. So down it came,
the last of our holiday decor to get packed away.
Less feels more right about now.  My desire to pare down and de-clutter is 
pretty strong. My "Winter Style" is all about less stuff and
built around a grey and white color palette with a sprinkle of metallics.    
 Right before the holidays I got these grey and white linen panels from Ballard Designs.
They warmed up the room and since I have always been a fan of Buffalo Check pattern
I knew I would love the grey and white panels.  I bought them for the dining room, but ended
up loving them in the living room instead.  Having the white slipcovered sofa makes it
easy to switch out pillows, and so two jumbo grey linen pillows found their way into the mix.
 Using less accessories also meant using less pillows, 
so I added this simple beaded snowflake pillow.
Faux or real sheepskin fur throws add a magical wintery feeling of Dr. Shivago style.
Our normal stacks of books and candles were taken off of the coffee table trunk, 
where only the vintage silver tray remained to hold my current reading
 supply of decor magazines and a few votives for evening atmosphere.
 As you may know, our family loves dogs. A collection of vintage dogs
 that was in an upstairs room would be just the right accessory for our Winter look, 
with grey and white and metallic.  Moving things around is the perfect way
to shop your house for accessories when changing up the look of a room.
 Vintage silver mixes it up with the gold touches in the room. Our candlestick lamps
 are vintage brass, and don't have that shiny look anymore, which is really nice. 
 Its a soft dull gold that looks warm and pretty. I decorate with lots of vintage, as it gives
a room lots of personality.  No more rules about not mixing silver or gold either.
Another beaded pillow with silver and gold beads,
 sits on the velvet tufted chair next to our piano.
A mix of grey and white with just a handful of metallic accents is
what my Winter Style is all about.  When spring finally arrives
I will be ready for more color and accessories, but for now this feels just right.
Shop your own home and pull together bits from other rooms to give
your space a fresh look for the winter.  Check out how my design blogger
friends have transitioned from their holiday decor to the Winter season.
So many great ideas and there is no one way to do it~after all,
personal style should be just that. 

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Behind the Cocktail: The Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is a popular vodka cocktail, most known for being served
in rounded copper mugs.  I served them myself at our holiday party, and they
were a big hit!  Why?  My theory is that the mug is the gimmick 
that gets you interested, but in the end, they are simply delicious!
Did you know that the Moscow Mule was created in the early 1950s and was
credited for starting the vodka craze?  Gin was the preferred white spirit, but
after the mule caught on, sales of vodka went sky high.
It all began with two guys in Hollywood on the Sunset strip at the Cock 'n' Bull bar.
John Martin, the man who bought the Smirnoff brand from the Russians 
where it originated in 1860, walked in to this bar see his friend, Jack Morgan.
Jack was the manager of the bar, and he had his own line of bottled 
ginger beer, which he had not been successful in selling.  John was having 
a hard time distributing this Russian style spirit.  Together they came up with
the idea of combining the vodka with the ginger beer and garnishing with lime.
The men ordered some copper mugs to serve up the Moscow Mules 
and then took the idea to the many bars along the strip in Hollywood.
Martin had just acquired one of the new instant camera Polaroids, and so
as he went bar to bar to sell his vodka,  he would snap photos of the barkeep
holding a bottle of Smirnoff and a copper mug holding the mule.
He then would show the photos to every other bar to entice them to buy
what the other bars were selling.  It was promotion at its best,
 and the Moscow Mule was on its way.
A celebrity ad campaign was launched to boost sales, as shown here in this
1951 photo of Woody Allen, hawking the Smirnoff Moscow Mule.
Eventually, like most things, this cocktail faded out of fashion, due in part to it's
association with Russia.  America was fighting the cold war and
 so the Moscow Mule was deemed unpopular and unAmerican, 
even though Smirnoff was now an American brand.
Its come back in popularity is due to the increased interest in old school mixed drinks.
 If you are interested in seeing what the stir is all about, its quite easy to create.
  • Vodka (Smirnoff was the original, but any brand will do)
  • Ginger Beer (This is non-alcoholic, but sold at liquor stores in the section with grenadine and other non-alcoholic mixers. Substitute ginger ale in a pinch, but ginger beer is more zesty.)
  • Limes (use fresh limes from your grocer, not lime juice)
  • Ice
  • Copper mug (I found mine at HomeGoods for $9.95 each, or you can use a glass.)
  • Lime squeezer tool (I also found this at HomeGoods, but you can find it where ever cooking utensils are sold)
You can find gift packs like this at HomeGoods or TJMaxx or Marshalls.
  They will also be found sold as single mugs.  You can serve these drinks in a glass, 
but the mule mug makes it so much more fun, and it keeps it so
 cold and frosty, the ice never melts! I was planning on serving them at my party
in regular drinking glasses, but my cousin, Pat,  said I should really try the mugs.
I am so glad she did, because it feels more special drinking out of this cool mug,
so a big thank you to Pat in California! 
After I posted on Facebook about my plan to serve these drinks, I was
regifted with a set of Mule Mugs from someone who didn't want them.
How cool is that? Thanks Tony! Now I have a half a dozen mule mugs!

Ok, here is how to mix one up...
Fill your mug with ice, squeeze half a lime using the squeezer tool over the ice.
Pour two ounces of vodka into the mug and then top off with ginger beer.
  Throw the lime wheel into the mug and start sipping!
Ever since our party we have been enjoying these mules nightly!
Haha, well it was a long vacation, and they are delicious.
We have put away all of our Christmas decorations and now
its time for organizing things and getting back to normal.
No more parties for awhile for us, but if you are looking to have
a little extra fun on football Sunday or planning a winter party, consider
adding these crowd pleasing drinks to the menu. 
They really are yummy.

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Note: This post is partially sponsored by HomeGoods as part of my participation in their Pinterest Designer Board, Happy by Design.  All opinions are my own. 
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Friday, January 1, 2016

The Surprising Highs and Lows of 2015

The most popular posts of the year happened to coincide with my personal highs
and lows.  This was kind of a surprise to me, but in a way it shouldn't be as I 
feel connected to my readers and when something big happens, good or bad,
I see it in the statistical numbers that registers on this blog.
Starting off with the most popular post was when I announced my home
would be featured in Matthew Mead's new magazine, DECORATING.
It was an absolute thrill to have him come and photograph my home and 
see it come to life in the pages of this glossy first class publication.
The second most popular post of last year was titled 
Our Family's Heartbreak. 
I shared the devastating news that my daughter-in-law's
adorable sister Taylor was in heart failure and needed a heart transplant.
One year later I am so happy to say that she got her new heart right after Thanksgiving,
almost a year to the day.  The old saying about if you don't have your health you don't have
anything is right on the money.  We are all wishing Tay a speedy recovery so she can start enjoying this new year full of vigor and excitement! And we, as her extended family, 
want to thank all of my readers and others who donated to her GoFundMe campaign 
to help her stay on stable financial ground so she can concentrate on just getting better. 
 The world is a loving place, and this post of  heartbreak has a happy ending. 
I said farewell to my shop Maison Decor and my role as shopkeeper.
This was the biggest high of my year, as it gave me back my freedom to 
do all things I loved and had missed in the three years I was on this personal detour.
Read my goodbye to Maison Decor post here. It was the third most popular post I 
published in the year 2015.  I don't miss it one bit by the way, as I am back to decorating
my home and blogging and raising my puppy and spending time as mom and wife at home.
The sudden loss of our darling dog Dillon was the 4th most popular post.
It is my low of 2015, and I am happy to say there were very few lows
in the entire year.  This was a big blow for us, 
and I found it hard to be at home without him.  The void was palpable.
And I guess as it should be, the stats pointed to my new direction
of fixing up the house and decorating it, as I did in the post 
Mr. Maison Decor and I added the French doors in the dining room just
in time for me to feature them in this Christmas decorating post.
I am looking forward to 2016 to do more decorating and home projects
along with my hubs as our new puppy, Colby satellites around us.
This dining room project was super fulfilling and we love the results.
Speaking of Colby....
he is getting bigger and minding his manners like a good boy now.
We had three parties over the holiday season and he was a STAR!
We are thrilled with him as our new addition and while there isn't a big 
ranking post on Colby, I just have to add him as another high for the year.
Looking forward to a year of everyday life and adventures with my hero
hubs and best all around guy in the world. 
 Hoping we continue to enjoy good health and all 
that life has to offer for us, our children and parents in 2016.
Wishing all of you a year full of JOY and PEACE and FULFILLMENT.

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