Terrific Titles

Over the last few months I’ve enjoyed the following:

Mary Poppins Comes Back: P.L. Travers - My opinion that Mary is not a soft touch has not changed… but, I enjoyed this story when she returned to the Banks children and 17 Cherry Tree Lane.

Brava Valentine: Andrianna Trigiani - I thoroughly enjoyed this story of the cautious Valentine Roncalli, her family and her family business the Angelini Shoe Company. I am a big fan of this author I loved The Shoemakers Wife. She has a large library of titles. I have a few on my To Be Read list - including: Kiss Carlo and Lucia Lucia.

The Good House: Ann Leary - What can I say… something I loved about this book I learned when I was finished reading it…. which is Ann Leary intended the book to go in another direction and the main character Hilde was not supposed to be the main character - But, Hilde took over the story because she’s quite a character… she likes her wine too much….

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: Margareta Magnusson - It’s a sweet book - it takes you through Mrs. Magnusson’s thoughts on keeping and letting go… This is not Marie Kondo - this is a very practical woman advising you to ask if anyone wants something and if they don’t - just get rid of it!

Every Last One: Anna Quindlen - This is a gripping novel… it went in a direction I never expected but, I was committed to seeing where it went and it left me better for having read it.

Joan Didion:Netflix Bio Pic The Center Will Not Hold.- I chose to watch this documentary of Ms Didion although I have yet to read her. I enjoyed learning about her life as her nephew Griffin Dunne interviewed her. She is a prolific author and I have added The Year of Magical Thinking to my reading list.

Gossip: Beth Gutcheon - I loved listening to Loviah French share the details of her life and her dearest friends since boarding school days (she was there on Scholarship). Now, as the proprietress of a high-end dress shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side - she sees and knows all!

Pachinko: Min Jin Lee - This is the moving story of one Korean family through several generations - beginning in Korea in the early 1900’s and following them to Japan. Sunja is the lovely daughter who makes a hard choice and ends up in another country in exile. Her family endures much as foreigners in their new land.

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I was fortunate to attend The Friends of the Ridgewood Library 30th Annual Author Luncheon featuring Min Jin Lee on April 3rd. What a wonderful event and Miss Jin Lee was an exuberant and entertaining speaker. If you are local to Northern NJ I recommend getting on the mailing list. It was truly wonderful

If you are unfamiliar with this book and this author I can’t recommend it enough - and also I would recommend a book I read last year: White Chrysanthemum: Mary Lynn Bracht- I was unfamiliar with the history of Japans invasion of Korea and of girls kidnapped from their families This story is gripping and hit home with me as a sister and a woman. Hard to put down.

This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage: Ann Patchet - shares her life from childhood to the current day. I listened to this book through Hoopla and to Ms. Patchet reading it… It makes it all the better when the author reads their own words. I previously read Commonwealth and this book still pops into my brain.

Victoria on Masterpiece: Now, that Victoria on Masterpiece is over for the season…

I started watching quite a bit of You Tube. I love Fake or Fortune the fabulous BBC show that marries art and detective work - is that art on the wall a priceless Renoir or simply a good fake??? Oh and the art friends.. its all so beautiful!

But lets talk about my newest love! I am OBSESSED by all things Quintessence - Stacey Bewkes wonderful creation the Lifestyle Blog, the IG feed and The YouTube At Home Series hosted by Susanna Salk - offering access to the most magnificent designers and tastemakers in their homes around the globe - while Stacey films the beauty and conversation.


I have a way too long To Be Read list that currently numbers 98 titles - and growing daily! It includes Jane Erye, Crazy Rich Asians, the Poisonwood Bible - just to name a few.

I read fiction but, will read a biography - What Remains. I especially love historical fiction… give me New York City around 1900 and I’m there… The Angel of Darkness, The Waterworks but, I’ll share an in-depth list of recommended titles before summer starts - #bookjunkie

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Til next time friends!

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Form and Function

Today I’m sharing some recent projects.

I’m not much of a DIYer.. but, I do make Pillow Slip Covers… yeah - I sew a little. Just this week I made these two covers. I’m psyched at how they turned out and happy to bring some more blue and white into the livingroom. I remember the first time I made a cover years ago and how much work it was - man I was clueless but, like most things I figured it out.

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Pillow Slip Cover:

  • First wrap the fabric around the pillow form - measure for total finished edge and minus 1” to 1-1/2” smaller than size of insert. (This is how you achieve a full finished look of the pillow.)

  • Iron fabric

  • Start folding & figuring out the top and bottom edges - what part of the pattern you want to showcase. You’ll want the top pocket to extend over the bottom one a great deal to prevent opening or puckering. (I like to bring the opening down quite a bit so that if the pillow gets turned around you won’t notice the opening.)

  • Iron to make your edges crisp.

  • Pin edges and remeasure. Take your time. This step is critical. You may need to adjust and use the iron again. Again keeping in mind that you need to make the cover smaller than the actual pillow form.

  • Turn the fabric inside out and prep to start sewing.

  • Slowly run your stitch along one side and repeat. (yes, I only sew two seams!!!)

  • Turn right side out paying close attention to fully pushing out the corners.

  • Insert pillow form and voila! 


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Like I said I am not much of a DIYer but, I do want to tackle projects around the Chalet and with help from my husband I’m learning how!

I recovered a Chair!

We have an old oak chair in our bedroom that holds extra blankets and pillows at bedtime.

Last month I had a light-bulb moment… I have a lot of different fabrics from Fabric.com in a bin waiting to be made into Pillow Slip Covers and this time I decided to upgrade the chair and introduce another lovely blue and white pattern into our bedroom.

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Isn’t she sweet - I have no idea how old she is. (she’s old) To the best of my recollection she was in the basement at my parents while I was growing up. Previously she’d even been a desk chair for my husband and then she sat in our basement here at the Chalet - until I thought she’d be a good option next to my highboy dresser.

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What a change in about an hour! I love how it turned out!

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Let’s talk about the Bolster Pillow we installed in our sons room. When I redesigned Liam’s room last summer - I knew having his bed against an outside wall would necessitate a pillow option when the temperatures dropped.

The Chalet has scant insulation and shown here at right you see that his bed was on his interior wall for years. (Holy Cow look at the stuff!)

The only way to stop the cold from transferring to his bedding was to build a Bolster Pillow and attach it to the wall leaving an air-gap.

I drew it out and went to JoAnn Fabrics picking out foam and Blue Microfiber fabric. Friends I love me a good Microfiber and lucky for me my hubby had wood on-hand to make the backer.

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Installing the Wall Cleat was the first step.

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Then hanging the backer to make sure it was level and the gap was correct.

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It came together quickly. 1 sheet of MDF, 1 Cleat on Backer, 1 Wood Strip at bottom of Backer board to hold square to wall.

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A little time with the staple gun and finito!

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Here it is friends! Liam loves that he can sit on his bed Sofa style! I love that I don’t need to jam a million pillows and blankets between his bed and the wall. Living in an older home has it’s charms but, it also has it’s challenges - I am thrilled that we were able to tackle this one with a wonderful result!

Bolster:

  • 1 sheet of MDF

  • 1 - 2 x 4 ripped to create Wall Cleat and Cleat on Bolster

  • 1 Wood Strip to hold the backer board square to wall.

  • Foam

  • Fabric

    About 2 hrs of time - For Build and Installation. Additional time to source materials.

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Til next time! Here’s to creating what YOU need!

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Floral Design Workshop

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On Saturday March 23rd I had the great good fortune to be a participant at a Floral Design Workshop at The Herbary Bear Creek Farm in Howell, NJ.

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Yes, the same creative spirit that designed this gorgeous arrangement Dana Dore headed the workshop. I’m a big fan of Dana’s through Instagram and I jumped at the chance to hop in the car for a bit to meet her in real life and learn from this talented lady!

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Here’s Dana in the Greenhouse about to the start the workshop - and the finished arrangement we’d be creating.

Below the worktable at the ready.

The Greenhouse ready for the workshop.

To get started each participant had a vase with greenery and flowers that had been prepped for us and we each had a vessel and sheers. Once we had manipulated our chicken wire into place we started building our arrangements.

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Dana is the Creative Director at the Herbary and she shared so much knowledge with us about how she builds an arrangement - her tools to achieve the best look possible. It was so informative. I have been displaying flowers in the Chalet for years but, I had no idea the concepts that go into Floral Bouquets. If you are within an hour or two I would highly recommend attending one of her workshops. 494 Lakewood Farmingdale Rd, Howell, NJ 07731 I know I’ll be returning - I already have four friends who want to attend the next!

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I must say I am pretty proud of what I did! And the flowers smelled amazing! Thank you again Dana it was such a wonderful treat all the way around! You’re a joy!

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The Herbary is available for private events.

They held an event on the evening of March 23rd - look at this stunning set-up!

They also have a lovely gift shop and cafe and are conveniently located not far from the Garden State Parkway and Shore points.

Follow Dana on Instagram at her feed @adoredhouse and on her Blog www.adoredhouse.com

Follow The Herbary at Bear Creak on Instagram @theherbarybearcreek and visit their website: www.bearcreekherbary.com

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I wanted to share this image… after 6 days I took the original arrangement apart, trimmed, re-watered with floral fresh and rebuilt it in a smaller vessel using all I learned from Dana during the class.

Again many many thanks Dana!!!

Til next time my friends… I hope you try something new!

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