Back-to-Boots & Scarves

How fun is this Diane von Furstenberg Infinity Scarf?
Guess Vale Boot - Love the fawn color & gold heel!
Michael Kors Ailee Boot - Classic & Timeless

BOOTS! I am so looking forward to fall because I get to wear boots again! They are my favorite type of shoe. Tall, heeled, doesn't matter. I love them all. These are just a few of my favorites from the new fall lines. All of these can be found at

My other favorite accessory returning in the fall - SCARVES! They are like cloth jewelry; they pull a look together and turn a dull outfit into something sassy or sophisticated. Check out the Autumn-hued lovelies I found below.

Ripple Effect Scarf - Cotton/Silk

These scarves are a steal at $18.00 each, plus they fund 25 c. of food when you purchase them from Look great and do good at the same time!

Description from the website:
"Created to help women worldwide gain economic security for themselves and their families by earning fair wages for their handiwork, Global Girlfriend sources women-made, fair-trade imported, eco-friendly products. By supporting long-term partnerships with the artisans, it fosters equal employment opportunities, healthy and safe working conditions, technical assistance, and development strategies to help reduce poverty, one community at a time. Become a "Global Girlfriend" and help build a brighter future for girlfriends around the globe!"

Leopard and Lace Print Scarf - via Ann

An Inexpensive, Inspired Summer

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, MA

So, I have basically taken the summer off. I haven't worked, blogged, marketed, taken any classes, or even been on Pinterest...much.

But, I have been inspired this season. Just not in the "usual" ways. I have been inspired by beach views, friends, FB posts (yes, seriously!), and the simple and relaxed (lazy) pace we've kept for the last two months.

Of course, there is a price to pay for all this relaxation - a steep decline in our expendable income! In other words - no play money. No new summer clothes for mom. Very little dining out. Zero budget for new home furnishings or for new cars - which my husband and I both need/want. (He needs a new one, and I want a new one...but that's another story.) However, there has been a BIG pay off too.

Usually, I work during the summer and my kids camp-hop = exhausting and doesn't feel much different from the rest of the year - there are just more towels to wash. And/or, we go on vacation and take a long road trip to see family and friends. And though I truly love our road-trip adventures, we seem to speed through the summer on overdrive, going from one planned event to the next = fun, expensive, & exhausting! And, before we know it - before we can transport nearly enough sand home from beach trips - the summer is over, and we are back-to-school shopping.

But this budget-tight summer, we didn't go on vacation, enroll in one camp program, visit an amusement park, a zoo, or any other pricey, exciting location. And it has been so nice. We have done and enjoyed so much right here at home. We got super friendly with our local beaches and our hometown ice cream shops; we played in our own backyard, exercised, danced to music, played board games, ate lots of fresh fruit and veggies (some from our own garden), made our own ice cream, spent time with friends & made new ones. We walked to our favorite parks. We watched movies together and became hooked on the TV show, American Ninja Warrior - talk about inspiring!

Stage Fort Park, Gloucester

My husband and I were even able to spend a kid-free week together completing home-improvement projects, while our kids were camping with their grandparents. THANK GOD FOR GRANDPARENTS!

But the biggest payoff for me, has been time. Time to Read. Not just magazines and blogs. But a real, hard-bound, literary, written-by-a-Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, BOOK. Time to Learn - from blogs about parenting, to posts about exercise and eating healthier. Time to Explore and appreciate our town. Time to Dream. Time for Friends. Time to Sleep. Time to Reminisce. Time to Love. Time to Teach - teach my children that KINDNESS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POSSESSION. Beyond having smarts, beyond having beauty, having kindness is the most important thing to have. To teach them about getting along and to love one another. To teach them that money doesn't come easy and goes very, very fast.

 And, the summer isn't over yet. We still have TIME. And it doesn't cost a cent.

The Great? Gatsby

GATSBY. It's not just a dusty required-reading text anymore. With this new movie comes an extravagant homage to an era and an artist. The new 3-D, "spectacular, all-star production" film, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, has been inspiring everything from ice cream flavors to Jonathan Adler's "Deco Revival" to wedding themes.

And I confess, I am inspired as well. I've been secretly getting ready for Gatsby, as if I were planning to attend one of his parties. I have re-read the novel and bought the May issue of Vogue just to read the article about Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy in Baz Luhrmann's film. She looks stunning on the cover of the magazine in a CITRON velvet dress, and it's a lovely article about her role in the film. Beautiful photos of the actress wearing some incredible 20s inspired dresses.

My favorite! LOVE that chain-metal background and the Nina Ricci dress!

Miu Miu dress with Swarovski Elements

I anticipate great costumes, sets, and acting in this film. However, I wonder how accurately the story will be portrayed...Will the movie reflect the emptiness and raw desperation that you read between the glitter and indulgence in the pages of the novel? Will Leonardo DiCaprio capture Gatsby's obsessed paranoia? And how will Jay-Z's sound track mesh with the 20's era setting? How does an actress learn to speak with a voice "full of money?"

Can't wait to see the film and find out!

Best of the Best: March & April Favorites

The months of March & April offer so much eye candy that it is hard to take it all in. Between the new Spring lines in home and fashion, outdoor furniture, and garden gear, I could spend every hour shopping! But, without fail, there are 3 things I always gravitate toward when I shop or meet an interior: Fabulous Lighting, Intriguing Tables, and Fine Fabrics.  I have posted some examples that I have drooled over this spring.

Charles Edwards Pagoda Lanterns via

Barry Entner Aquas chandelier
To me, a great light fixture makes the room it illuminates. Lighting must be scaled correctly for the room, support the mood and, above all, be interesting. Nothing ruins a space more than an outdated or boring ceiling mount!

Restoration Hardware 17c. Monastery Table in Grey Acacia
A great table is an essential in every home. I'm not talking about the shiny, for-when-guests-are-here dining room table. I mean the family table - the one where your family sits down to dinner every night, the one where the kids do their homework, and where you pay the bills or do laundry. That table should be solid, smooth, and able to take a beating and look better for the ware and tear. A great farmhouse-style table, like this one from Restoration Hardware, which is very reasonably priced.

Brunschwig & Fils Lhasa Green

And, nothing makes a house a home like fabrics that speak volumes about who lives there. Whether fabric is used sparingly on accent pillows or hung floor to ceiling, framing huge windows, we are drawn in to a room by the pattern or texture that fabric adds to a space. And, I just can't get enough of the joyful, vivid prints from Manuel Canovas' New Collection; they just say "come look at and touch me and be happy."

Manuel Canovas - part of the New Collection

It's Just Scandalous

SCANDAL, is currently my favorite show on television. The main character, Olivia Pope, is a powerful woman, who has an on-and-off-again affair with the President of the United States, aka Fitz. The show is, well, scandalous...and sexy and intriguing, and most of the characters have committed major crimes and live within the shadow of their misdeeds. For me, it is a guilty pleasure to escape into this political and powerful world, which is completely unlike my own, every Thursday night at 10 pm. But the scandals are not why I watch or why I love it....

Olivia Pope played by actress Kerri Washington

I am so drawn to the show because I LOVE the character of Olivia Pope - her desire to set things right, her gladiator-in-a-suit attitude, and most of all her style. I love the decor of her apartment and her office, and her wardrobe is off the charts! I definitely have closet envy. Everything in her apartment says sophistication and elegance, and yet, it looks completely comfortable and soft. Her office is another extension of Olivia's elegance, but it also has a get-down-to business, almost industrial-chic vibe.

I just can't get enough of the impeccable, neutral outfits she wears that compliment Kerri Washington's flawless complexion and the setting of each scene in which she acts. And speaking of the set, Olivia's apartment is simply fabulous.

Olivia and Huck (played by actor Guillermo Diaz) in her bedroom after the fall out

Quinn Perkins (played by Katie Lowes) in Olivia's apartment watching over a client.

Olivia Pope in her office at Olivia Pope & Associates

Olivia' office 

For more about Olivia's signature look, click on the link below to a great video

Surviving a Tween Sleepover 101

Table was set and ready for when the girls arrived.

Recently, my daughter turned 9, and her idea of a great party was to have her 5 closest friends sleepover. I thought, OK, no problem! Should be easy and inexpensive, right?

I planned well. I made a timeline, ordered invitations and party decor well in advance; I even had her choose the treats and dinner we would serve weeks before the party, so that I could shop for groceries early and nothing would be last minute. (Me overcompensating for my habitual procrastination.) Of course, everyone knows, even the best plans, fail! So, there is always plan B = rolling with the tide of tween imagination!

My Rules for Surviving a Sleepover

1. First, order or print invitations that go with the theme of your party and send them out 3-4 weeks in advance. Don't forget to include a request for guests to bring sleeping bags and pilllows! Suggestion:  Limit the number of slumbering guests to 4-6 children, unless you can bring in reinforcements...
Custom but inexpensive invitations from
2. Create a basic outline or schedule for the party. Plan an activity, craft, or game - it might not happen, but you don't want 6 bored kids on your hands for hours - they WILL find something to do and it will involve screaming...

This was my timeline:

5:30-6:00     Arrival
6:00-6:30     Dinner
6:30-7:00     Dance Party
7:00-7:30     Dessert 
7:30-8:30      Makeovers/Nails 
8:30-9:00      Photo sessions
9:00-11:00    Movie & Popcorn
11:00                Lights Out

9:00-9:30        Breakfast – Donuts & Fruit cups
9:30-10:00     Get girls dressed &pack up
10:00-10:30  Pick Up 

Reality Check # 1:  The girls arrived very excited, ran around laughing, screaming, and talking about One Direction until dinner.(The dog also got very excited and created a few messes for me to clean up while I was trying to order the pizza.) What I expected: they went through 2 cheese pizzas and a gallon of lemonade in about 10 min. What I didn't expect: they threw marshmallows at each other and talked about farting and constipation while at the table. And, I went through a tub of baby wipes and 2 rolls of paper towels cleaning up random messes.

3. Plan to serve your child's favorite foods and treats - you won't please every child, so don't try. Make sure the foods you serve are easy to dish and clean up. You won't have time for complicated meals or to scrub up pots and pans. And I don't recommend serving soda! They don't need the caffeine or sugar and are perfectly happy with milk or water with their dessert.
Coconut Bon Bons & Banana Muffins - 2 of my daughters favorites
Cupcakes are easier to make and to serve than a whole cake.

Reality Check #2 - I underestimated "The Group," as my daughter calls her little circle of friends. Days before the party, she came home from school announcing that they had decided they didn't want pizza for dinner, and they wanted pancakes for breakfast. Well, I was firm on the pizza, and thankfully, my husband volunteered to make biscuits for breakfast. (I am NOT a morning person, especially after spending the evening with 6 children who were awake until 1:00 am, and there was no way I was committing to standing over the stove for an hour, making enough pancakes for a hungry mob of prepubescent girls.)

4. Make sure to check your sweet little guests for smuggled goods they brought from home! One friend brought clay and my clean dance party idea turned into "make your own pottery hour" and had me scrubbing the play room table for about 20 min. And after dessert, the "makeovers" turned into "let's paint the pottery hour!"  (They did dance and sing VERY LOUDLY to music, which was quite cute and fun to watch) while I did their nails.)

While painting the pottery, they also took a shot at painting one another with acrylic paint! This led to my HUGE MISTAKE of offering up face paint...which led to their idea of making a horror movie and covering themselves in face paint (NOT so easy to get off of faces, bodies, walls, sofas....).

Needless to say, we spent 2 hours while they created their own G-rated "horror" movie, and I acted as camera mom.  They didn't settle down to watch the movie until after 11:00 PM and were awake until 1:00 AM...And, the next morning, another friend brought out actual make-up from her home (to redo their faces in order to redo some scenes from the movie.) Which basically means that their parents will hate me forever, because along with their children, they also picked up zombies and mutants and ghosts from the party.

But, it was absolutely priceless to watch 8 & 9 year-olds imagine, develop, and direct their own "movie,"
and I saw texts between them saying, "I am having soooooo much fun." And, despite the zombies, and fake blood, we all survived.

This time it's PERSONAL

Our home in Gloucester, MA

This is our home - built in 1900. Nothing fancy, in need of much TLC, and right on the corner of a busy street. But, we just loved the character of this 5 bedroom, 1 (yes, just 1!) bathroom home and had to have it. We bought it 6 years ago, moving across country with 2 children under the age of 4, and with the knowledge that it needed major renovations - inside and out. We should have a sign on the door that reads: INSANITY LIVES HERE.

6 years later, after doing much structural work on the inside and building a patio, moving a garage, building a concrete wall, moving the garage back, spending a lot of money, time, and DIY sweat/slave labor - not to mention slammed doors and many arguments - we have only ONE ROOM completely remodeled. Two bedrooms are in transition (one currently serving as a workshop) and my office is almost complete - but is currently being used as our children's bedroom while they wait for their's to be finished.

So, when I tell people that I am an interior designer, it is with the hope that they do NOT yet visit my home! Seriously, if you saw the laminate floors in my kitchen and dining room you would die....But, if you could read my mind and see the design plans I have for this albatross....

My point? If you are thinking of doing a DIY renovation project but do not have every-tool-known-to-man, a great imagination, extreme patience, and 5+ years and thousands of dollars to invest, call a professional or move on to the next house!

I will, for kicks and giggles, share some "before" photos. Hopefully, another year will not go by before I get to share some beautiful AFTER shots. Right now, I am most excited about my daughter's room design - an icy blue wonderland fit for a family of polar bears (or an 8 year old girl who loves them).

My son's future room aka my husband's wood-working shop

The Most Dysfunctional Kitchen Ever!
Ugliest hallway leading to a wallpaper covered window 

50+ Shades of Grey

What do designers Kelly Wearstler, Nate Berkus, Ralph Lauren, and Jan Showers have in common? Besides being very successful, they have all created reach-out-and-touch-me interiors by using alluring shades of grey.

design by Jan Showers

Courtney Cox's Home

Room design by Kelly Wearstler 

Design by Kelly Wearstler

Whether creating an elegant sitting area or a more dramatic entrance, grey can create just the right mood. The versatile neutral blends well with other neutrals, can ground a room, highlight more vivid colors, or stand on its own with all the subtlety or depth you desire. I just love this color's ability to be elegant, playful, modern, timeless, serene and sexy. It's almost foolproof!

So, what's your favorite shade of grey?