Saturday, March 3, 2018

words to live by

Back in January I stated that "flourish" would be my guiding word for 2018. And just like that "healthier eating plan" that hasn't quite taken hold, I need to keep reminding myself that each moment is a fresh start to live the life I want, to thrive and to flourish. And like those containers of walnuts and berries at the ready, I've been keeping the word flourish close by.

Recently I hosted my very first at-home Crafternoon. What took me so long? I invited my closest friends from high school {Cindy, Ann, and Lorraine} and asked everyone to let me know a word inspiring to them. I decided that we would make paper collages on blank art canvases using our words. I always find cutting and pasting paper so relaxing and uncomplicated, making it a perfect project that wouldn't prohibit conversation.

I placed words over images that I thought would be appealing to each friend and printed them out. I accomplished this using PicMonkey (website or app) but any word processing program will do, or of course, good ol' stamps and ink. A buffet of paper was assembled -- everything from old calendars to scrapbooking paper to vintage French dictionary pages.

There were bouquets of scissors, vases filled with rolls of patterned fabric tape and glue sticks, and you know I was in-the-moment because I barely took any photos!

A pot-luck lunch kicked-off our agenda. An inexpensive party tablecloth from Target kept things fuss-free and cheerful. This was also a birthday luncheon so there were cupcakes to look forward to once the tinkering was done.

I love how each piece turned out and how they're all so unique and personal to us. {Click to enlarge}

Making time for friends and creativity seems like part of a good plan to flourish in the year ahead.

Thank you as always for reading!


Monday, January 1, 2018

my {writing} year in review

Happy New Year from bright and below-freezing Rhode Island!

Last night at the stroke of midnight the idea of a new chapter began. 2017 was filled with many good things but was also disappointing in some ways both personally, nationally, and globally, and I'm more than ready to flip the page. Scanning through my Instagram feed -- which serves as a nice visual short-hand -- I realized that as a working writer, the year was better than I first recalled. I'm generally preoccupied with what piece of work is coming out next and don't always take that moment to celebrate making good use of my English degree from Rhode Island College to write about subjects near and dear to my heart: making pretty spaces and things. This post is more like my own diary so if it feels self-indulgent, you've been warned. ;)

The "IKEA book" was released in French in February and while I never received or purchased a copy (and I believe there's an edition in Korean as well), it still counts as having a book out in 2017, oui?!

I was contacted in late 2016 by USA TODAY to provide a quote for their annual HOME magazine, and what began as a blurb turned into a sidebar for the issue that was at my local market by March.

I always enjoy writing "home tours," which generally begin with my receiving photographs and interviewing homeowners about what lead to their decorating choices. For the Spring issue of Prairie Style, Kelly Keen shared about the makeover her home received from pals Amie and Jolie Sikes, better known as Junk Gypsy, for "Rustic Redo." For "Southwest Sanctuary" I wrote about the shared Albuquerque vacation home of sisters Kathy Fredrickson and Sarah DiPaolo. Very fun chatting with creative homeowners around the country!

I provided two projects with essays and instructions to Somerset Home for Spring 2017: an altered picture frame and stamped insert titled "Explore More," and jars painted in a mix of decoupage medium and food coloring in "Rose-Colored Glasses."

A trip to Home Depot for a new washing machine lead me to helping myself to a few laminate samples and tinkering them into what would become "Go With the Grain," my first contribution to GreenCraft.

The distressed sign at a farm stand served as inspiration for a Somerset Life how-to detailed in the blog post farm stands and newsstands.

I revisited memories of Paris and returned to my tinkering origins of fabric strips, paint and tin cans for "Les Jolies Pendules" in Somerset Home, Autumn 2017.

I always love writing about homes where space is an issue, like Rachel Mullen's Parisian-inspired Minnesota house in "Practical Sophistication" for French Country Style.

On newsstands now is my article "No Place Like Home" in the premiere issue of Modern Country, which showcases the less-is-more aesthetic of Melisa James' Boise apartment -- with some really cool space-saving tricks!

For the Winter 2017 issue of Prairie Style, I used one of my favorite words (plucky) in "Flown the Coop" about Tiffany Eckhardt's shop in Burton, Texas; wrote about Betsy Johnson Anderson's cozy cabin by the Colorado River in "Family Heirloom" and the fun-meets-utilitarian style of Jim Healy's Connecticut home in "Collected Wisdom."

Using a trio of hand mirrors from Dollar Tree, paper napkins and glue, I wrote, styled and photographed the "Vanity Project" tutorial for the Summer 2017 issue of Romantic Country.

I created the Cath Kidston-inspired decorated picture frame tutorial "British Accent" for the May issue of Romantic Homes.

For Rustic Weddings I interviewed new-bride Summer Hamrick for an article that showcased her beautiful but down-to-earth wedding held at a state park in South Carolina.

Pernilla Frazier's Pawtuxet home in "Mix Master" for Vintage Style provided an opportunity to shine a spotlight on Rhode Island friends and small businesses.

It was so special for me to welcome the return of my fairy godmother Fifi O'Neill, to my little house along with her longtime photographer Mark Lohman and his son Taylor, to style and shoot for the Spring 2018 Romantic CountryOn newsstands now, the eight-page spread titled "A Garden of Fresh Ideas" was written by Sandy Soria, and includes the sewing magic of my dear friend Lorraine Miranda. The issue also includes six DIY projects that appear toward the back of the issue as well as the two-page "Playing House," all about using a dollhouse as your own design practice space, that I penned.

So, what's in store for the year ahead? Well, my fingers are crossed about a book proposal and I just submitted two articles for the next issue of Boho Style, but other than that, blank pages await!

I have selected flourish as my word for 2018. May we all flourish in the year ahead! As always, thank you for visiting and reading!


Sunday, November 5, 2017

celebrating 'end of daylight savings time' day

When people ask about my favorite holiday, I've started to answer, the End of Daylight Savings Time (let's refer to it as EDST). I'm almost giddy at the onset of winter. It's no wonder that I felt an immediate connection to the concept of hygge upon being introduced to it by a book cover.

Similar to how many people don't understand my extreme dislike of cheese (yup, I detest it and order my pizza sans yellow stuff with extra sauce and pepperoni), I often need to explain why the fondness of EDST, shorter days, and winter in general. So, here goes...

Have you ever received a present as needed and desired as a glorious extra hour? Sixty wonderful guilt-free no-strings-attached minutes. And it's a gift that keeps on giving the whole day through. At each check-in with a clock I'll smile, and for those few devices that still need adjusting manually, I'll get to those later, after all, I have time.

via Pinterest: Marcy Cottage, Lake Placid, NY

The Shorter Day
During my workday I'll witness both sunrise and sunset, and most evenings will travel the back-roads home to enjoy the cozy amber glow emitting from the multitudes of rectangles amidst silhouettes of trees against the ink-blue sky. With the heat blasting at my feet and the windows rolled down, the promise of changing into flannel pajamas is just miles away.
The Cold
Ahh, the brisk chilly air... an even better pairing for hot coffee than a slice of birthday cake. Some outdoor evenings smell of burning wood from a neighbor's chimney. Look up and the cold dark sky is cleared of clouds and bright with stars; below, crisp leaves and twigs swirl at my feet. Boot and tights and sweaters in varying shades of charcoal grey replace flimsy prints and flip-flops, and plaid become the new floral.

Stay Inside
And just like I hear my mom's voice telling me to go outside and play on a warm, sunny day, I'm to stay inside because it's bitter bitter cold out there. And perhaps this is my favorite part of all, being indoors to bake something sweet, leaf through magazines, binge-watch TV shows with my guys, and of course, tinker or write the weekend away!

Happy EDST to you!


Saturday, September 9, 2017

salted and stirred: saltwash project step-by-step

I'm excited to share that I've recently become a Brand Ambassador for Saltwash®, an easy to use base coat formula which gives a layered and textured effect when mixed with any brand or type of paint. This is kind of big for me because I've generally shied away from endorsements BUT I like and use this product so often since being introduced to it at my friend Nancy's shop Sea Rose Cottage, making it a natural fit.

After agreeing to collaborate, I was sent a complete tray project kit. All I needed was paint and inspiration!

Which I found at this farm stand, mentioned in a previous post.

I rounded up stencils, paint, glue, and my usual go-tos: wax paper to protect my work area; paper plates as paint palettes; craft sticks as stirrers; various types of glue; and a hot cup of coffee!

For this project I wanted to begin with a white base so a day earlier I spray-painted the tray and handles white but this step is optional.

Taking my inspiration from the strawberries sign, I knew I wanted my Saltwash® base coat to be a muddy coffee brown. 

I started by using up an off-white sample of house paint and mixed in brown and black until it was the color I wanted; then I blended it well and began to add-in the Saltwash® powder. 

At the Saltwash® website they have the ratios all worked out but I tend to pour and mix by-eye until the paint is like brownie batter.

What makes using Saltwash® so fun is that you are aiming for a weathered and worn result that is anything but perfect so just spread that batter on without fear. I aim for a relatively even application paying special attention to the corners and sides, which are my favorite spots to sand-down later. Once this step is done and thoroughly dried, follow with a coat or two of paint, sans Saltwash®. I used white house paint that I applied with a paint pad. Allow to dry well and then sand to reveal the batter layer below. The sanding part may take some experimentation on your part -- start by sanding lightly and decide how much base coat you wish to reveal.

While waiting for the paint to dry I practiced using the stencils so that when the tray's surface was ready, so was I! 

The final step was decoupaging the handles with a printed paper napkin to add pattern and charm. 

And then of course, capturing the result in photos, starting with this one taken by the talented Tim Marshall

And this one I snapped at my own dining room table.

I have other projects -- large and small -- that I'll be sure to share soon.

Find Saltwash where I did at Sea Rose Cottage online or at the shop in Bristol, Rhode Island
or order online at and use the special discount code: tinkered for 10% off.

As always, thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

in pursuit of pip studio

Through international blogging friendships I've discovered all kinds of beautiful decor lines across the sea. There's Cabbages & Roses and Cath Kidston in the UK, Greengate in Denmark, Tilda in Norway, and Pip Studio in The Netherlands, among others.
My sister Betsy and I occasionally spot random Pip Studio products at HomeGoods: paper napkins, a tin tray, small porcelain bowls, all with the tell-tale vivid color combos, thin patterned borders, and over-sized motifs of birds and flowers. 

But alas, we're at the mercy of HomeGoods' limited and sporadic offerings, and shipping from the Pip website is around 57 Euros making it rather cost-prohibitive, even for a rationalized indulgence. Every now and then Betsy would say to me, "Imagine going to Amsterdam? To Pip Studio?"

Well, yadda yadda yadda, Betsy, our sister Dede and I, just returned from a whirlwind trip to Amsterdam. And guess what? There's no physical location of Pip Studio! A department store called De Bijenkorf in the main square of the city is the exclusive carrier and so of course, that's where we headed on Day 1.

We arrived in Amsterdam so excited but tired having ventured from plane to train to taxi to our hotel after a red-eye flight from Newark on zero sleep. 

Here I am, dressed in layers for hot, cold and anything in between. Our room wouldn't be available for hours and so we three sisters decided to trek to De Bijenkorf! We were tired, warm, and a little cranky, and when we make our way up the escalator to the Pip Studio display, we were underwhelmed by the porcelain-only selection. 

Around the corner there were also robes and duvet covers. Punch line: I don't wear a robe and am not a fan of duvet covers. No wallpaper or towels or quilts. Boo hoo.

We kind of shook our heads and had a chuckle and wearily walked back to the hotel to rest before heading to the Van Gogh Museum (quite an aggressive agenda). 

A few days later, we were well-rested and ready to revisit De Bijenkorf!

With a fresh set of eyes, we reconciled that the Pip Studio display sufficed. Betsy (center) didn't quite need the space in her suitcase as planned but she and I both bought a few special pieces. 

While we didn't find the Pip wares of our dreams, we did embark on an international trip that would make our parents proud. We navigated trams and cabs, took a canal cruise, enjoyed a half-day tour of the countryside, and so much more! It was a fabulous trip that I'll never forget. You can find many photos on my Instagram page but below are some favorites of the 500 I snapped! Top to bottom (captions isn't working properly): 1) There are bikes all over Amsterdam and shops that sell decorative bells and seat covers; 2) My favorite shop Juffrouw Splinter; 3) The salon/cafe of 't hotel where we stayed; 4) and the hotel exterior at dusk; 5) The windmills at Zaanse Schans 6) glossy-green exteriors in the area; 7) A narrow path in Voldendam; 8) Typical canal view; 9) Souvenirs! 10) Childhood fave Miffy aka Ninjte; 11) My souvenirs; 12) Flowers drying above and fresh varieties below at Bloemenmarkt.

Thank you for reading! Wishing you happy adventures and Pip Studio sightings at a HomeGoods near you!