After 20+ years of waiting, and nearly 9 months of here and there efforts, the nursery is DONE and I must say we’re all quite pleased with the results!

My friend Tiffany Kiefer, mom of 5 kids, put it best saying, “The nursery is really for the Mom more than the kids,” which seems true, BUT the girls sleep long and wonderfully in their beds and every time I walk into the room it makes my heart feel joyful and cheered by the surroundings.

I hope you’ll enjoy the views as much as we do, and I must give a few credits (not mentioned in the video) for certain special people…

Zebra Rug — Big brother Johnluke is graciously loaning his awesome “trophy” rug that he and Ron got on their trip to Africa several years ago. (He was also willing to give up his own room, granted he’s out on his own now.) I built the nursery around this fabulous rug as centerpiece. The sissies especially like feeling it’s mane. We love you Johnny!

Ceiling Light — Thanks to designer friend Kimberly Hight for this perfect gift which she and her husband Mort put together for us, it’s from IKEA, and reflects a fun flower pattern on the walls when lit.

Vintage Slider Rocker — The ugly navy cushion got recovered in a happy lively pattern, so rock-a-bye-baby moments are even more pleasurable.

Wall Art — Monogram letters courtesy of the awesome Jennifer Gooden who had them on our shower diaper cakes. Vintage cover from a Sears Catalogue was a shower gift from Leslie Carranza. Other random pictures from HomeGoods.

Cribs & Changing Table — Put together and painted by our first nanny, Coco Tipton, who can do just about anything (in addition to loving on babies!)

Wonderful, Patient Husband — Special thanks to my dear Ron, who let me enjoy every little moment of decorating and making this a fun journey of combining my passions. He happily gave opinions (“Yes dear, it looks perfect”) and nailed many a nail in the wall.

Enjoy the tour and remember to never give up on your dream…


We girls have to stick together when it comes to easy breezy hair strategies. (Sorry guys, you may wanna skip today’s post.)

Not everyone will relate to this tip, but I’ve personally long admired the loose waves that I hear take irons and effort, effort I really don’t want to put into my do.

So what’s a girl to do with a do she can’t do?

One day when my hair was wet I decided to experiment and see what might transpire. From the wet head of hair, with my fingers I divided it into two halves from the back center, as if I was making two side pig tails. Grabbed both halves, grabbing at about neck level, and simply twisted them into two gigantic thick twists. I pulled down and flattened the bangs in front and made sure all hair was behind my ears.

Then I left the two hunky pigtails be. Slowly they dried. I avoided the urge to mess with them and only kept twisting them occasionally if somehow I bumped them while doing other things.

As they dried to about half dry, I pulled the front bangs hair out from behind the ears but left it in the wavy shape it was forming. You want to keep the large kinks/waves in it that come from putting it behind your ears. Leave the fat twisted pony tails as they are.

When almost dry I sprayed the twists to give them a bit more strength.

When fully dry I gently pulled the twists apart and waalah, I made waves! Then sprayed them with hair spray for extra hold, and kept this look for several days, retwisting gently into pieces over time, making sure to not brush it. The more it sets the more piecy it becomes, which is ideal.

So here is a before and after shot, the before being with no makeup so of course I had to do the “Glamour-don’t” and cover my eyes.

Call this “lowest-maintenance ever” do, and it works especially well on days in which you can let it air dry for a couple of hours to form the waves. One friend does something similar and goes to bed with it wet. Haven’t tried that method yet.

So my fellow hair-care friends, send any questions or comments or hints YOU have. After all, we must stick together on “To-Do’s” for our dos.

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2 thick wet-head twisted pony tails, all hair pulled into these twists and laid up front around the neck

After, wavy curls

After, wavy curls

 


Today, a lighter note…

A sales associate from the Kate Spade flagship boutique on Madison Avenue (where my dear friend Tiffany Whitford is general manager) emailed me some photos of the resort collection, now in the store.

Alas, if only to be heading to a resort where resort wear was what I needed to wear! Red, white, blue, and my favorite — polka dots.

As a marketer, I love knowing why some trends become trends, and what makes them stick. A few fun facts about the famous polka-dot…

The American magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book was the first to print the term, in an 1857 description of a “scarf of muslin, for light summer wear, surrounded by a scalloped edge, embroidered in rows of round polka dots.”

The love affair with polka dots seems to have more officially begun in 1926, when Miss America was photographed in a polka dot swimsuit. Shortly after, in 1928, Disney introduced Minnie Mouse wearing a red polka dot dress and matching bow.

Throughout the 1930s, polka dot dresses appeared frequently in stores, and in 1940, Frank Sinatra’s “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” ballad captured the height of America’s polka dot mania. That spring, the Los Angeles Times assured its readers, “You can sign your fashion life away on the polka-dotted line, and you’ll never regret it.”

Later in the decade, Christian Dior released his “New Look” collection of hourglass dresses, many styles including dots. Dior told Vogue that his collection was designed “to make women extravagantly, romantically, eyelash-battingly female” again. Hollywood followed feminine suit, and the newly-ladylike print fast became popular with actresses: Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, and Marilyn Monroe starring as some of the polka dot’s chief advocates.

In 1951, Monroe was famously photographed wearing a polka dot bikini. Nine years later, the release of Brian Hyland’s hit song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” brought polka dots back into vogue.

Lest you think this is only a woman’s trend, it’s worth noting that in 1962, Marvel Comics introduced its polka dot-clad superhero—Polka-Dot Man, who used the power of polka dots to defeat baddies.

So find it new, vintage, or wherever you can, and you’ll be sure to be on trend and right on the dot!

Kate Spade Resort Collection

Kate Spade Resort Collection

 

Kate Spade, love the shoes!

Kate Spade, love the shoes!

 

Wearing dots while speaking for SCTNow

Wearing dots while speaking for SCTNow

A special thanks to Chloe Pantanzi, whose article inspired much of this content.

A Shareen Vintage classic summer dress for Johnluke's high school graduation

A Shareen Vintage classic summer dress for Johnluke’s high school graduation



What does a girl wear when she goes to live on a ranch?? Options, so many options.

Camo seems to be the style of choice in these parts. Yesterday at Wal-Mart we saw a “camo family” with Mom, Dad, and Junior all decked out in camo coats.

For Cady and I, let’s just say we are finding other fashionable choices here on God’s green earth.

Definitely need boots with all the fallen wet leaves, cold temps, and shall we say, “unexpected droppings” here and there.

Rag and Bone black booties purchased at the end of last season are coming in quite handy, though not the distance-walking choice they add a bit of flair to otherwise casual options.

Frankly I did not pack-ahead, as we weren’t exactly sure how long we’d be here at the ranch. Wearing the same couple of things over and over doesn’t seem to bother any of the animals, so I decided to just let it go and go with it.

It IS cold here, very cold, fortunately I was given a wonderful ski jacket to borrow against the frigid air. That and a $2 WalMart hat have done the job just fine. Ron has found his own choices as you can see below.

On Thanksgiving Day I’ll don all-cream cords and a matching cashmere sweater, the Louboutin suede cream boots (posted a week ago on Instagram) would be the ideal finishing touch BUT no chance on tainting red soles with wet leaves, so “forget flair and go for warmth” will be the day’s motto.

Over the river and through the woods in ranch style we will go…

Cashmere sweater and J.Crew sweat pants plus Pucci scarf, Rag & Bone booties

Cashmere sweater and J.Crew sweat pants plus Pucci scarf, Rag & Bone booties

Effortless man style

Effortless man style

Camo hibernation gear

Camo hibernation gear

Is this short guy a covert spy?

Is this short guy a covert spy?

Perfect casual chic

Perfect casual chic

Army green vs. cow coat supreme, no contest

Army green vs. cow coat supreme, no contest

Camo overhauls for all

Camo overhauls for all

Cuteness head to toe

Cuteness head to toe


You all know me, can’t resist a decorating inspiration regardless of where I am in the world.

One of the things I’m loving about this ranch is the natural, rustic decor. I’m not typically drawn to this type of look for my own interiors, but hey, this isn’t about interiors anyway, it’s the exterior that counts and in this case, it counts big.

I should mention that our darling daughter-in-law is gaining increasing reputation for her ability to bring “cozy” into any room anywhere. She has worked wonders and wonderful into their new little abode, and while that is their story to show and tell, I will just say, “she’s done it again,” and done it with cozy class.

You drive into this property amidst more deer than you can count. Seeing their gleaming eyes at night through the trees is especially wonder-filled.

Cows, sheep, goats, chickens, each have their home, and all appear to be thriving. Little abodes for all, and open pastures for all too, who could blame them for loving it here, well maybe all but one who seems a bit discontent.

This one caught my eye as she evidently bought into the lie that the grass is always greener over yonder. Imagine that, an entire pasture at your hoof tips and you still want what’s out of bounds. Contentment IS a learned art after all, and that ain’t no cow, I mean bull.

The grass always appears greener over there

The grass always appears greener over there

So we’re taking in the views, the God-designed decor that will always outshine any man-made environment we ever hope to create for ourselves. Maybe that’s what our decorating and designs are anyway, an attempt to express what began in His heart all along.

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The only lions on this property, but kitschy cool

The only lions on this property, but kitschy cool

 


It’s a habit that started about 20 years ago…

Attending a conference for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), we participants were all sharing best ideas and lessons learned via jobs in alumni and donor relations. One of the presenters said, “Our name is CASE, and we insiders know that stands for “Copy And Steal Everything!”

I loved it and have used the principle frequently ever since…

Like the first time (and many times) when I was worried about new workshop/presentation content being stolen or copied. One of my great mentors, Carole Hyatt,” said, “Oh I gave up that fear long ago, because no one is me, and even if they steal my content they can’t replicate me or the way I deliver it!” So wise and true.

Jen Ramos in her talk at last week’s Love Your Life on doing business as an artist, explained how she takes copycats as compliments, then innovates something new.

Of course this isn’t about disobeying copyright laws, or being casual about wise protection over our own creations. I’m simply of the opinion that being liberal and sharing is better than hyper protecting. God forbid you spend one hour repeating my mistakes or having to cry the tears I’ve cried when you can take my stuff, gain advantages, and soar.

My mantra is “Share liberally. Give away more than keep. Scatter more than gather. Hold loosely vs. hold on tight.”

Afterall, we copy recipes, favorite celebrities’ fashion, others’ tweets that inspire, and steal-of-deals by sharing coupons and insider sales.

Speaking of stealing, I’m stealing Sarah Richardson’s 2009 HGTV Christmas Tree this year, scouring eBay and Etsy for cheaper-by-the-dozen ornaments just like hers. (Hooray for vintage Lillian Vernon glass icicles scored last night on eBay.) You can see Sarah’s tree on this video, which I highly recommend for fun inspiration and unique holiday ideas.

Happy copying, stealing and sharing away…

Here comes Sarah's tree!

Here comes Sarah’s tree!

Love the unusual colors

Love the unusual colors 

Can't wait to try this look

Can’t wait to try this look

eBay glass icicles

eBay glass icicles


My style then

My style then

My style now

My style now

My daughter-in-law, Cady, and I were passing time looking at home decor magazines last week in the hospital. She was commenting on my decor style and I told her how it has evolved over time.

I’ve enjoyed watching both Cady and our daughter-in-law Ailsa, create beautiful homes for our sons with warmth and coziness, which in my book are BIG must-haves for any environment.They both have great taste and translate that taste into their surroundings.

Years ago I decided to ask a friend who was a designer to help upgrade my little one bedroom apartment. He said to go through magazines and pull out rooms I was drawn to and loved. When we met a week later, he analyzed the choices and deduced my style, which at the time was something like, “Colonial Viet Nam.” I honestly can’t remember what the heck that means, but I’m supposing it was what we might call today, “Asian Bohemian” (if anyone knows what that means!)

What I learned from working with Jeff the designer, is that looking at magazines (or on Pinterest these days) helps coalesce our preferences, be it in food, fashion, or in this case decor. It’s a lot about taking risks, feeling the liberty to pull together what looks right to us, throwing out the notion that there’s a right or wrong way to decorate. Who decides what’s right for our home but us? If it looks right hang it!

Over time it’s natural to grow tired of one style and long for something updated. Most of us grant this evolution to what we wear, but the same is true for home style as well. What moves our soul now may do little for us later. Which is why I’m watching and discerning new looks all the time, via blogs, magazines, and input from friends who are several steps ahead. My friend Kathi Graves for instance, taught me lots about mid-century design years ago, a style we both still love.

So if you’re needing new zest in your surroundings, try searching online or via some blogs. Two of my very faves are TheDecorista.com or HomeontheRunway.com, both of which feature an eclectic mix of design styles that inspire and stretch the mind-set limits on what’s possible.

Then experiment and take a few chances. Try moving things around like my sister, a master home “stager,” does with finesse and ease. A new coat of paint is a cheap thrill, and a small little frame with a photo you love will trigger warmth and gladness. Fill your home with things you love to look at (most of all people!) and items of beauty that stir and nurture.

Happy growing in your happy home.

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cocoa&Hearts

My feet are still sore from last night, thanks to white pony-hair booties that I donned for Love Your Life. Ahh the things we women do for our fashionista moments!

But it was worth it all, to host Made by Girl’s Jen Ramos as she and I talked to the crowd of lovelies, motivating them to go for their dreams and believe.

From her forays in a chocolate truffle business, to days she felt utterly hopeless struggling with infertility, Jen had so many fabulous tips and ideas. She described starting her now-famous Made by Girl blog in 2006, amidst frustrations at work and a passion for more. We all related to her angst over not knowing where to begin, spending hours on the phone asking questions, and dealing with internal voices that predicted failure.

There were so many takeaways, here are the highlights:

Find your passion — What is it you dream of doing one day? Why do you want to do it? Getting in tune with what you really desire, is the place to begin.

Do your research — “I never considered where to refrigerate all that chocolate!” Jen recalled trying her hand at a chocolate business. Talk to everyone in the business you’re considering, and ask questions over and over. Spend the hours it takes to learn what you don’t know, and get in the know.

Don’t quit your day job — The last thing you need is pressure to pay the bills. Use nights, weekends, and every free moment you’ve got to launch your bigger dreams, until they can support you financially.

Pain brings surprise gifts —  When Mat and Jen realized pregnancy wasn’t happening and adoption would cost tens of thousands, Jen picked up a paintbrush and in a cold dark basement started painting. To her surprise, the 11 canvases sold in just days for $500 a piece, launching her now popular Cocoa and Hearts original artwork that sells out immediately.

Ignore the skeptics — People will criticize, tell you you’re not worthy, refute your plans, and copy your ideas. “When someone copies what I’m doing I consider it the time to innovate something new,” Jen described as a nugget of wisdom learned from her husband Mat.

We finished the night with our power-networking moment. I heard story after story afterward, of divine appointments and real-life plans to launch forward with help from one another.

A huge thank you to Mat and Jen for sharing their story, bringing so many friends, and making it one more Love Your Life night to remember. I continue marveling at how a group of committed women, helping one another with practical ideas and courage, can conquer their fears, and DO their dreams.

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Overjoyed when Jen presented me with her famous gold metallic LOVE print!!

Overjoyed when Jen presented me with her famous gold metallic LOVE print!!

 

 

 


I simply couldn’t resist….a random street in NY’s fashion district, my casual walk put me back on this familiar road.

It was 9 years ago searching high and low for THE dress that originally led me here.  RK Bridal…..aah the memories….Mom and I finding it after searching for days and days. This place unveiled THE ONE for only $750.

Racks and racks of dresses, one or two seasons old but new to every girl crafting her dream day. You’re only allowed 10 dresses in the dressing room at a time. Mom and I waited an hour and a half just to get our turn.

Months later my sister and I were schlepping the lovely one several blocks to the hotel, carrying her like a banner of triumph above our heads so she wouldn’t dare touch the grimy ground.

So yesterday, in the middle of running errands, I stirred those memories and walked right in. The greeter lady asked, “Are you here for a wedding dress, a cocktail dress?”  “No thanks, just looking,” I said. She looked at me strange but I didn’t care. This was about memories.

Memories are powerful. Which is why the making of memories is so important, and this is where vision comes in.

Vision is what propels us forward, moving strategically toward our dreams, taking steps, doing what it takes. When each day finishes vision turns into memory.

Do you love your memories? Are they powerful and poignant? Do they motivate you to do more, be more, dream more? Or do they fill you with regret and sadness over what might have been?

We can let memories just happen, or we can make our memories memorials to achievement and fulfillment as today’s to-do’s become success metrics along the path to our dreams.

We cannot live in the past, at the same time our past can be a compass, pointing us TO what really matters and AWAY FROM what doesn’t.

I’ll always have my wedding dress memories, one small piece of a vision over 25 years in the making.  What memories do you want to have? Make them today, they’re yours for the making and the taking.

Racks and racks of beauty

Racks and racks of beauty

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9 years ago, dream-come-true dress!

Fun dress art on the wall.

Fun dress art on the wall.