Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Wishes!

I don't know what 2013 will bring, but there is always something about the start of a new year that is so exciting and inspirational.  This little design blog celebrated it's 3rd  anniversary on Saturday- it really doesn't seem possible! It's been a lot of fun and I feel so fortunate for the all wonderful people I have met along the way and the friendships that have formed.
Where will you be celebrating when the clock strikes 12 o'clock, at home by the fire or out on the town?

Wishing you all the very best in 2013, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

As I finish clearing away the last remains from the holiday brunch we hosted today with old friends and new,  I am reminded of the only thing that truly matters- to stop and enjoy the season by spending time with the ones you love.
I am looking forward to stretching out on the sofa and watching It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story!

It doesn't matter that my dried oranges didn't quite turn out as planned, apparently there is a technique and I didn't have the right one!
My ended up with slight little grill marks on them- oops!

Though they didn't make it on to the tree as planned, I tossed them in bowls around the house with pine cones and fresh greens.
Next year, I vow to figure out the trick to getting the perfect dried orange slices.

There were other little holiday mishaps, like my mixer breaking down in the middle of holiday cookie baking.

At least I can still make these. A friend brought these over- so clever! Who knew a Hershey Kiss, a chocolate dipped cherry, 2 slivered almonds and an Oreo cookie was all it took to make a mouse!!!

I'm so glad I took a chance on orange this year, the color is so festive and the scent from pomanders fills every room in the house,  invoking the spirit of a simple Colonial Christmas.
I enlisted the college kid again this year for making pomanders- it made me deliriously happy watching my elf at work.

 I wish you all a Merry Little Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Tip

How to polish silver according to the experts!

This is one of those tasks most people dread doing, myself included. In fact, there was a time when I didn't even want to own any silver because of how time consuming it was and the awful smell of most polishes. Not to mention, it was always one of my assigned chores growing up. But here are some great tips for taking the pain out of polishing.
The expert advice I have to share comes via the folks of Southern Living magazine and the Mr. Othman Ayoub, the Director of Stewarding at the Ritz-Carton in Washington, D.C.

Southern Living breaks it down into 3 parts:
1.) Polish It: remove tarnish by placing your silver on aluminum foil in your sink, sprinkle with baking soda and pour boiling water over it. Rinse and pat dry.
2.) Use It: Frequent use brings put that rich patina. Rinse right after using to prevent tarnishing from sulfides found in foods like mayonnaise and eggs. Use a gentle dish detergent (avoid anything with citrus). Silver made after 1939 is dishwasher safe, but remove before the drying cycle!
3.) Store It: If displaying in a cabinet, place a piece of chalk nearby- it absorbs chemicals that cause discoloration. Or store in sealed plastic bags. If you have a silver drawer or chest, line it with Pacific Silvercloth, an acid and sulfur-free material that keeps your treasures spotless.

Mr. Ayoub  uses this method:
1.) Line a glass or plastic tub with aluminum foil- shiny side up and fill with hot water.
2.) Add salt- he used coarse kosher salt and baking soda.
3.) Put in silver pieces and let soak 10 minutes.
For quick touch ups he uses a bit of Colgate toothpaste and a soft cloth.

For copper pots he says...
Make a paste of salt, baking soda, lime juice, vinegar and flour. Use paste to rub pots with a soft cloth.

And, for the black stuff that inevitably ends up on the bottom of pots and pans he says pop open a Pepsi and soak!

A few months ago,  I was noticing some pretty silver spoons  my client had out on her counter in a glass vessel. I asked how she kept them from tarnishing quickly and she gave me these from The Container Store:

After cleaning silver, place one of these strips in the drawer, bag or whereever you store your silver.
I'm guessing  this may have a similar result to using chalk or silvercloth as suggest by Southern Living?

Readers if you have additional tips, please share them, we need all the shortcuts possible this time of year! Also, I would love to kno,  besides Brasso (I loathe the smell) what readers use to clean their brass?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Santa, please define naughty?

Children have a very clear understanding what defines naughty and nice. In their minds, if they can't recall refusing to eat their vegetables,  putting their toys away, pulling the cats tail or hitting their younger sibling during the past week- well then, they were nice.
My beautiful daughter, once she got over her fear of Santa!

Even pets know when they are naughty. They look guilty.
This picture was taken 2 years ago just before my son's winter break his first year of college. He called to say how much he was looking forward to coming home for Christmas and sleep in his own bed. Being the loving parents that we are, we sent this picture to him saying we gave his room to the dog.

For adults there is clarity lacking on just what constitutes nice.

Dear Adults,
Santa has two simple words for you this season. MANNER UP! If you do not want to be on the naughty list,  here is what the man in red said:

5.) If you are taking the kids to see Santa and you have a screamer, there are just 2 choices. Leave immediately so the next 5 kids in line don't become screamers or sit with your kids on Santa's lap no matter how humiliating you find it. No, there is not a third option- regardless of how long you waited in line.

Yes, that's me sitting on Santa's lap with the my two little acorns- December 1996.
 If it looks like I'm constraining my daughter, I am. A moment later she started to cry and wiggled out of my grip and into the arms of her father. My son has never been afraid of Santa. You may have noticed his little booklet that he pasted all the toys he liked that year! Santa knew a problem when he saw it and suggested I come sit with them. I can still remember thinking how silly I felt. But it got my daughter over her fear and my husband still carries this photo in his wallet all these years later.

4.) There are restaurants for families and there are restaurants for adults. Know the difference. And, if for some reason you don't and sense that maybe a particular establishment is not kid friendly, go with your gut instinct, move out and move on to plan B. Please don't ruin everyone's night out just because you couldn't figure out yours. Oh, and there are restaurants for sick people, especially those who are coughing and hacking up god knows what-  it's called your house!

3.) Do not take a parking space you can see that someone is already waiting for.  If you can shop, you can walk from another space farther away. Same with you space stalkers, if the person hasn't left in a minute,  just find another space instead of backing up traffic and not allowing anyone else to leave because you saw it first! And, the fake handicap parkers, well Santa says he has some reindeer droppings that he needs to unload. Same goes for those of you who insist on backing into a parking space, but don't have the driving skills required.
Don't be the tree, someone may just be feeling a little Grinch-y and run you over.

2.) Santa has a special holiday message for all you loud cell phone talkers. When in a shop or restaurant put your @#$%^&* phones away. If you have an actual emergency there are quieter places like the vestibule or restroom. Or in case no one has told you before now, you really aren't interesting enough for the rest of us to be forced to listen to your conversation. The likely reasons you talk on your phone in public places are probably because you're uncomfortable standing/sitting alone, you're self absorbed or you're simply an ass. No one wants to hear what you just bought for who,  how much you spent, how your day was, what your plans are for the rest of the evening-day-year,  or what looks good on the menu. People like you take the HO-HO-HO out of the Holidays.
Madame, you could do better. Much better. I think I'm going to ask Santa if he can bring me that dress and wallpaper because I'm
certain I've been nice. Well at least this week,  I was home sick coughing and now I have laryngitis!

1.) Don't forget to hold open doors, say please and thank-you, be a good host/hostess and think of others that may be in need.  In general,  just be the most gracious and civilized version of yourself and then maybe...there really will be peace on earth.

Monday, December 3, 2012

O Christmas Tree, What Will You Be?

I love Christmastime, it's a sensory feast! It engages every one of our senses from holiday music,  tinkling bells, crackling fires, aromas wafting from the kitchen, the scent of pine and oranges and cinnamon, to the sight of shiny ornaments and festive garlands that decorate our homes.  Ah, the decorations. O Christmas tree, how I love to decorate thee! And every year I struggle to make a decision on just what to do, with the endless ideas and inspiring images that dance in my head!

From year to year I use many of the same ornaments, but always change up the color combinations in some way. Our tree last year was very neutral and I loved it! But, I've had the color orange swirling around for awhile. Would I dare do something so unconventional? It would be an idea that would either have a wonderful, unexpected outcome...or go terribly wrong and leave family, friends and fellow design bloggers to wonder what was I thinking!?

There are trees and then there are TREES! Image courtesy of Reggie Darling.

After seeing the tree of the always delightful, insightful and stylish Reggie last year, with it's beautiful pinecone (an obsession I share) ornaments and dried orange slices, well let's just say I became completely enamoured and have looked at this image more times than I care to admit. Reggie purchased the feather tree at Bunny Williams' shop Treillage in New York City. I'm betting if Ms. Williams saw how it was decorated she be enamored too!

Then last week, I was in Neiman Marcus shopping. One minute checking out the citrus fragrances by Jo Malone the next minute distracted by an orange scent so intoxicating and divine, I forgot all about shopping and was focused solely on my tree and buying that scent!

So with a mere $15 investment in frosted orange balls from Michael's, bags full of oranges for pomades and drying, inspiration from Reggie and my new bitter orange scent- I've started decorating.

While the tree won't have the elegant sophistication of Reggie's- seriously who can top that!? I think it's coming along nicely. But, in case things go terribly wrong, I'd love to know what or who has inspired you?