"How Long Are You Going To Stare At That Photo?"

So aside from cooking, taking care of my home, driving my son places, laundry, ironing, taking care of my mom, food shopping, taking care of two dogs, taking care of my garden, being a mother to two sons and a wife to a husband who has his own buisness and travels alot, manage two blogs,  learning how to play piano and having a lesson once a week (don't wait until your 45 to do this like I did) and trying to get my books published, working with an editor and attempting to have quiet time before it's time to sleep again, my favorite thing to do when I'm relaxing is look at design books and/or magazines for ideas on how to decorate my home and make it my sanctuary.
Aside from anything Mary Carol Garrity has published, Carolyne Roehm, Post Wordly Martha (when she was humble Martha with only a few books) (Okay scratch that, she was never humble Martha)
I love looking at Pottery Barn Catalogs, Frontgate catalogs and Ballards Home Decor and a few design blogs that I follow.   These are some of the things I look at and to be honest, they make me crazy!  (In a good way)

Last year after looking at these magnificent tablescapes and holiday decor I decided, since I wasn't having my yearly Christmas party due to my father's recent passing, to make a "Harvest Dinner" for my sisters/friends and their families.  I have seven women in my life that I have known since I was about 14.  We have been friends ever since.  I call them my sisters.  So I thought alright, I want to do something different.  I want to have a sit down dinner.  "What?"  Rob said. (My husband)
Now we are talking 40 people sitting down at a table in one room.
You know that we did it.  With 6 long 8ft tables.  Then I decorated the tables beautifully with candles and matching festive leaf decorations and lovely plates that I ordered from Pottery Barn, and the glasses and the silverware.  Kaching!  Yeah, I know.  But looking at these teasers, I like to call them, drive me crazy.  

Take for instance the yearly Frontgate Catalog that comes every year to announce the Christmas Season.  It makes me crazy!!!!!!!!!!!Look at this!  Don't you want to do this?
Who doesn't.  Now I don't have a huge home nor do I have monster high ceilings, but I have managed to fit 8 trees in my house, most of them fully decorated.
Ahhhh!  I'm tired just thinking about it.  After all it's only the end of September.  But today, guess what came in the mail.  You guessed it.  Pottery Barn and Frontgate's teaser catalogs with these lovely tablescapes and room decor previews.

I have every frongate Christmas catalog saved. I go through them every year.  I save a few Pottery Barn as well that have a holiday theme.
I look through them over and over, during my quiet times, usually late evening around 11pm.
And if that's not all, and if your like me, Mary Carols Two Christmas books are a must have and to seriously die for them.  Often my sons have said to me, "How many times are you gonna look at the same book?"  Funny.  But that's what I do.
Look at Mary Carol's Dinning Room all decked out for the Holidays!  Aye, note to self, change all the chairs to white now.
It's crazy what happens to me during the "Holiday Tridium"  I like to call it.  October, November and December.
Yikes, this weekend it all begins again. . .
Oh well, it could be worse.  I could be into something scarier, like politics!  Hee Hee


Planning for My Fallscape

So I cut some of my Hydrangeas today. Oh Gosh!  Is there anything more beautiful.  I love the Autumnal colors most of all.  (Until I see the purple and blue and pink hues again in the summer)

Be Still My Heart.  Look at these blooms.  There are sage and cranberry colors.  Incredible!
I'm going to wait until my front urns are a little dry and then I'm going to do this for the month of October.
This is from. . . (You guessed it!)  Mary Carol's Home.  I'm thinking I'm gonna put a leaf wreath down first and then place the pumpkin in the center.  Lovin it!

Alas! We have begun.

They finally began demolition, construction this weekend.  We started the process for permitting the Study in November and we are in September now, and we just broke ground.   I thought this day would never come.
Our home has gone through of lot of changes.  From the addition of the front porch, to creating a screening room (home theater) in our garage, adding a carport, expanding and remodeling the kitchen, adding a sun room, creating a back deck and patio and our latest addition was adding a barn.
I always felt that our home lacked symmetry.  We needed another room on the right side to balance it out. Thus began our plans for the study.  
That was always on our wish list, but finally, after breaking an important pipe today leading to the septic (yikes) we are on our way.  
I have had my furniture waiting in our screening room for two months.  I ordered it in January thanks to Ethan Allen's New Year's sale and my friend KC.
Any time I change a room or create a room I always keep a folder of swatches, photos, paint swatches, torn pages of the EA catalog as my design notebook.  Here are two things I had in it.
For all my Kansas friends, this is a couch from Nell Hill's store.  (Mary Carol Garrity)
I had this picture solely for the fabric.  I wanted Rob's study to have that Plaid, Ralph Lauren feel.  But in my mind I wanted a green couch like Charlotte Moss's green couch on the cover of Winter House book.
I have memorized this book in my head.  I loved that couch ever since I saw it.  The look, the exact hue, the texture, velvet of course and I thought "Perfect".  Although I wanted a tufted velvet version of it.  Found it after it was too late and I had bought my couch.  But I'm fine without the tufting.  My couch is gorgeous and velvet and exactly that color.  Love it.
Anywho, back to the plaid.  So I had my window treatments created in that plaid look (pretty close) from Calico Corners.  They are elegant and masculine.  That's what I wanted.  
The kind of room the men would retreat to, to share conversation along with a glass of cognac and cigars.  (Truly though, I hope no one smokes cigars in there!  Hee Hee)

The other photo I had was a photo of a Ralph Lauren Study that I loved.
Now I know this is pretty full and mine won't be like that.  But just look at it for a moment.  The touches of plaid with the rich leather.  The roaring fire in the fireplace.  The accents of dogs and animals in the room.  A few touches of orange against the cinnamon of the leather.  Wow!  I would look at this photo for hours.  Together with my pieces of furniture, accents I have picked up at Nell Hill's store and Black Eyed Susan's and Ethan Allen, the Holy Trinity of design, I believe I shall achieve a similar feel and look.  
We are having built ins like the ones in the photo.  I ordered a lovely warm honey colored area rug to go over the refurbished wide planked wooden floors that we are having put in.
I purchased a warm orangey, honey velvet tufted chair that I can just see myself sitting at with a warm throw reading one of my favorite books by my Black Eyed Susan lamp on my Nell Hill table.  
I can't wait until I can post actual photos of the room.  All I have today is a deep hole outside.  The room is going to be sunken in from the Formal Livingroom, so you will have to step down in order to achieve that high ceiling look.  The rooms will be separated by a single french door.
We are having a stone fireplace built that will glow and crackle in the evening light.  I have taken so much time in decided what was going into this room.  Every piece, lamp, accent, table.  I'm so thankful that my husband is one of those easy guys that just nods and says "whatever you think honey."
"If you like it, that's fine."
Remember he's the one who flew with me all the way to Atchison Kansas to meet Mary Carol Garrity, my mentor and most favorite designer.
I also want to find something like this to hand on one of the built ins.  
I am also interested in doing something like this on my bookcases.

I love that painting.  I do have a painting already here just waiting to be placed on top of the fireplace.  

So I promise to post new photos once we progress.   I can't wait!


Happy Birthday My Bestest Friend, Rudy

Today I took my precious boy to the vet because he has really bad ear infections.  Today is His Birthday!  He is 5  that's = 35 in dog years/people years.
He's been there for me through my dad's stroke and passing and our other dog's passing.  He feels my pain and is always there to remind me that I am truly loved.  He is an angel of God.  Happy Birthday my boy.


It Feels Like Autumn on Sept 17

I woke up today to a chill in the air.  We had turned off our air conditioning and pulled out a couple of thin long sleeve sweaters.  I pulled out my shawls and pashminas and throws which I adore and embraced the change in the air.
I love making fires.  Love the smell the crackle the way my house smells when the fire is roaring.  Love to see the flames dance in my dogs eyes as they stand at attention, mesmerized and humbled by the fire's power.
I love baking.  I bake constantly in the Fall.  From cookies, to pumpkin desserts and pumpkin breads, pies galore. 
It's a time to nestle.  Nestle with a book, a movie or play a board game.  We are big on board games.  
We are more indoors so we find time to talk more and do more things together which I love.  
I love the colors that Autumn brings and the blanket of leaves that covers our land.  It's beautiful.  I do hate to say goodbye to my garden but I know it's there time to seek a sweet slumber and regenerate and prepare for another spring.  I don't like the dark, hate that the light goes so early.  I miss that I can't sit on my porch for long periods of time.  But I do enjoy using our fireplace outdoors and we toast marshmallows and make smores.  
Every season has it's beauty and every season brings a healing within it's change.


Another Look!

Here are the lanterns I bought and brought back form Mary Carol.  I should have bought the candles there.  I just couldn't carry all the stuff on the plane.  Now I have to find the candles to fit.  But I love these.  They are flat on the back.  So they fit nicely anywhere.  
Here is a better shot (from her website) of the dinning room.  Lovely.  Too bad you can't see the navy color called TWILIGHT on the walls.  OMG is that not perfect for my house or what.  TWILIGHT get it?  So I have this same color almost but it's a Benjamin Moore color in my formal living room.  You can see it on the side of my blog.  We have to repaint because the new addition will be cutting through the living room and my painter said I needed a matte finish and not the gloss I have now.  So I'm just going to order the Twilight since it's almost the same color.  
My Favorite shot of her Amazing Foyer.  I so wish I had this much room in mine and stairs like this.  AHHHHH!  I would be hanging garland every week.  Love it!!!!!!!!!!!
So in her family room or study she has these curtains.  I love it because they are almost the same as mine for my study.  Fletcher Tartan from Ralph Lauren.  Felt a kin to her!!!!!!!!  Again, great minds . . . Hee Hee. Don't get tired of seeing her photos.  Please if you haven't gotten her books, get them all.   All of them.  Now, get up and go.


HGP Red Mass

Holy Ghost Prep had it's yearly Red Mass to start off the school year.  My son Matt sang in the choir.  I was so proud.  

Black & White Fall Touch

Came home from Kansas and immediately did this!


I'm Not In Kansas Anymore. . .

Now I know why Dorothy was clicking her heels together saying" There's No Place Like Home."
Because she must have gone to MARY CAROL GARRITY'S OPEN HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I Went, Everyone!!!!!!!!!  Okay, so sit back and get ready cause this is going to be a long post.  Complete with photos and play by play details.  Ready!
I had one of the best experiences ever thanks to my husband and the Gorgeous Ladies from ATCHISON KANSAS.
Okay so for those of you that are not in my loop . . .  (hee, i'm lucky if 4 people read my lil blog) Anyway, l was able to go, thanks to my amazing husband, go to the mecca of all meccas, the birthplace and home of my number one favorite designer and author, Mary Carol Garrity.  Funny one of our dear friends who lives in Los Angeles and checks my blog from time to time told me "Why are you going to Kansas?"  And I mentioned her name and she said, "Oh yes the woman you blog about all the time."  I thought it was funny.  Anyway, along with the surprise of my trip I had to deal with a very important factor that usually prevents me from taking trips.  The fact that "I AM TERRIFIED OF FLYING."
So needless to say, this was a major feat for me.  I used to fly all the time.  I even flew with my son who was 7 at the time by myself to London to see my husband when he was shooting a commercial there.  I don't know where that girl went or who she was but I want her back.  Now I'm 45, two sons of 21 and 15 and I think why can't I be fearless.  Anywho, lets continue.
Okay so I must confess my two flights (by the way for someone who never flies to have 2 flights in the same day is absolutely torture.) were peaceful ones with very little turbulence.  I found it easier to look out the window and see when we were near clouds there was turbulence and when we were over or under it stopped.  I understood that but I still felt the extreme, chest tightness and palpitations.
Okay so as soon as we got off the plane this is the first thing I saw.
For someone from the north east, one is not used to these signs and places.  It was so odd to me to see that.  Although in the past two years Newtown PA has gotten many tornado warnings but never anything major and I've never actually seen one.

We got in our Hertz rental car in Kansas City Missouri and drove 48 or so miles into Atchison, Kansas.

The landscape was very pretty, flat and green and so many corn fields.  I live across the road from a corn field and thought Newtown had a lot, there were alot.  I loved that every where you looked along the highway there were lovely yellow sunflowers.  Hundreds of them.  Although you can't see them here.  I was trying to take photos while I was driving.
So we get to Nell Hill's store (one of three) in Atchison and I felt like when I used to take my boys to toys r us when they were little and all they did was squirm in there pants excited and dance around through the aisles not knowing what to do first.  That was me.  
I didn't want to start looking in the stores because I wanted to go see Mary Carol first and her home more than anything.  I thought to myself, if I go to the stores I'm gonna start shopping and go crazy and not be able to focus and I want to get to her house first.  My husband said "why don't you peek first and I'll wait here and tell you when the bus comes and we can really look after."  He had a few phone calls he had to deal with from work.  After all he took the day off to escort me to a all women's field day. Poor guy.
So I peek and the minute I walked in I walked right back out.  Thought "no way!"  I can't handle that now.  And there are three stores mind you."
So we waited for the bus which was about a five minute wait.  Lovely driver who was very kind, but then again everyone is kind in Kansas.  
We got on the bus and I sat in the second seat.  Only because the first seat was taken.  Rob looked at me and smiled and said "okay now don't make a big deal when you get there okay.  Don't tell everyone that we flew all the way here.  Don't make a scene."
Okay so you have to know this about my husband before I continue.  He is an introvert with a capital I.  What's ironic is he's a successful film producer and and film production company owner.  Moxie Pictures.  He is used to traveling all over the world.  He has offices in NYC, LA, London and is constantly speaking to lots of people.  
He hates making any kind of scene.  Isn't that funny.  Now he was referring to the past week where I had blogged about Mary Carol and my possible trip and my fears and I had sent the link to Mary on her facebook page.  A day later I received so many wonderful well wishes and prayers from wonderful Nell Hill fans telling me all would be okay, please go and blog about the trip.  
Little did i know that anyone would remember.  

Be still my heart!  So we pull up to the home and there it was.  On a hill in the sunlight and partial shade.  I could hear the violins in my head and the angels singing as I approached her steps.  And yes!  There were the lanterns I saw in her post all decorated for Autumn and welcoming us in.
Now, I have always known that when one visits a home it is a polite gesture to bring a hostess gift.  My mother taught me that and I always have in the past.  So why wouldn't I do it now.  A week before I searched and thought to death, "What can I get a Lady who epitomizes style and has created the most beautiful home environment?  I don't know!!!!!!  Ahhhhh!  Think about it.  I wasn't going to get her something for her home.  Duh!!!!  Then I remembered one of my favorite little shops in Newtown.  David J.Witchell Salon has a second floor where the owner has lovely items that are one of a kind. I have bought dresses and accessories from her in the past.  I went last week and looked at her beautiful things.  I love shawls and wraps, always and have bought a few from her.  I glanced at a table with lovely beaded ones and I thought of Mary Carol and the times I've seen her photographed with a pashmina or a shawl and thought "she must like them too."  Little did I know she absolutely loved them as much as I do.  (Great minds think alike.)
So I purchased a beautiful chocolate velvety one with small black beading.  
I had forgotten to buy a sweet little bag to put it in until the last minute the night before my trip.  I couldn't do anything about it but put it in a small simple plain white bag. 
Well Rob knew I had it in my bag and I think it made him nervous that I might make some kind of "Lucy" scene (I love Lucy)  Often I feel like Lucy and Ricky when it comes to us.
Anyway he said "You might not even see her.  There's a lot of women, so don't get upset if you don't see her."
Well I'm thinking, yeah that's a possibility but if I know Mary Carol, she will be there.  After reading all her books and knowing them verbatim, her hints, her style, how she loves to meet and greet her guests at the door, why would this be any different.  
Yeahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!  I was right!  (Please excuse how I look.  Why did I wear that blouse that got so wrinkled with me squirming on the plane, and my hair frizzed to oblivion as soon as I got off the plane.  I had to put it in a clip.  Can you see my eyes, I didn't sleep well because I was a mess about the flight)
But there she was, She is so thin and lovely and young looking and absolutely gracious and beautiful.  There is my pathetic little bag.  
So when I climbed up the stairs and followed the line of women (by the way my husband, one of two men and hundreds of women) all of a sudden we hear this lovely voice saying "Welcome to my Home"
She came out and we all smiled like the fans that we all are.  She actually greeted everyone personally that came through her door.  Wow!
So I said "Hi Mary Carol, I never visit a home without bringing a hostess gift."  She was so happy and kind of shocked that I had something for her.  She immediately grabbed it and I said "please excuse the bag, it is a mess, I had it in my purse for the entire plane ride."
TA TA TA TUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  So that's when Mary Carol said, 
"Oh my Gosh are you Lisa from Pa?"  Suddenly another lovely lady walked from the foyer onto the porch and yelled "Is that Philadelphia?  Is she here?"
OMG!  I felt like a celebrity.  I can't tell you how it made me feel to know that Mary Carol said that and that her lovely friend greeted me that way.  Well simultaneously both of the women hugged me and greeted me, congratulated me for getting on the plane and made me feel so welcome.  Then they greeted Rob and thanked him for bringing me.  For someone who hates scenes, he was blushing and extremely happy at the attention.
Here I am in Mary Carol's exquisite Foyer that has been photographed in all her lovely books.
Then the lovely lady whom I feel terrible because I forgot her name, grabbed Rob, who hates taking photos, and took this photo of us.  I love it.  
I couldn't believe I was there.  I had seen these rooms in the books for so long and now I was standing in them.  (Okay I'll be quiet for a bit and post just photos and then I'll continue)

One of my favorite spots, if I lived here.

Lovely powder room

This little tree was where it all started for me.  When my friend Lisa showed me the christmas book where this little tree is featured.  Lovely!

I'm so bummed, my photo of her kitchen came out without light.  I didn't see it until after I had left.  But you fans, know from the books what her kitchen looks like, it's just like that.  Beautiful!

Look how sweet the tree looks from the other side of the dinning room.  This is the walkway to the sunroom and out door patio.

 Love her sconces.
Here is Mary Carol opening the gift I gave her.  She told me to come back around and meet her before I left because she wanted to open it with me there.  How sweet is that!  Miss Manners Award goes to. . . 

She's holding up the shawl but you can't see it.  It was too dark.  But I can't complain two photos with Mrs. Garrity.  Yeah!!!!!!!!!

Okay so after the house tour, we went to the stores.  I first went into NEll Hill (mostly Christmas) Unfortunately I couldn't take photos, the amount of women that were in the store was alarming. I couldn't have taken a photo if I tried.  But it was beautiful and filled with Christmas spectacular ideas.  My favorite!
This is her second store which is on the same street.  Garrity galore!  This was Fall and Halloween and lovely furniture.  There is a table there I want to get.  Note to self:  Call Monday

Okay so if you don't know already LANTERS ARE THE NEW BLACK!!!!!!!!!
LANTERNS LANTERNS AND MORE LANTERNS.  I bought two of these amazing flat lanterns that you can put on the windows and walls and doors.  

This is the front of the Nell Hill Store that has the Christmas decor.
 Now when I was leaving Mary Carol's home Rob and I went back to say goodbye and Mary Carol said "please don't leave until you go to the Briarcliff store" It was 12 miles from the airport.  We had some time to kill before our next flight and we were planning on getting a bite to eat.  OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!
What was I thinking?  Did I think that seeing Nell Hill's two stores in Atchison was it?  Was I overwhelmed at the amount of decor and beauty I saw?    No way.  Oh my stars!  This was incredible.  It was huge, enormous, gigantic.  It's like a double decker Ethan Allen and then some.   Rob looked at me as we pulled up to Briarcliff Village and saw this massive building with the name Nell Hill on it.  I almost screamed!  So Take A Look!

 This looks just like my Wally, A king Charles Cavelier.

I bought those lanterns that are above the mantle.

To Die For!

My Love For Gingham is overflowing.  I have a lavender gingham chair in my kitchen.

View from above, the upstairs looking down.

At the end I left like content to have seen so much beauty.  There were no words to describe how fun and beautiful and creative and inspiring my day was.  Thanks to my husband, Mary Carol, the pilot and God.  I am humbled each and every day by the blessings he has given me.  

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