Happy Love Day

So it’s Valentines Day tomorrow, and this post is the first time I’ve really thought about how to acknowledge it.  I’ve always been kind of lukewarm on the whole thing, but I could totally use a day to focus on some love and happy. Another blizzard is approaching…yeah, that.  But we lost a very special person in our family yesterday, and these experiences can throw everything right into perspective.  Makes me want to rush into the arms of all those I love and tell them how much love I have for them.  And that I can’t think of anything else in the entire world that is more important than family, friends.. that love thing. It’s all about our people.  Maybe we need a day that encourages acknowledgement and celebration of those that make our lives special.

It’s a Saturday, and it’s going to be freezing… what to do… here are some simple, quick but heartfelt ideas.  Little gestures that make your loved ones feel special will go a long way.  This is not about adding more stress to your life!  Do not over-complicate.  🙂

Heart-shaped waffles with beetroot and orange juice?  Yes.  See recipe from Almond Corner.

And some fruit?


Coffee cups covered in red paper with cute love messages.


or hot cocoa with heart shaped whip cream seen in lovesome, just freeze the whipped cream on a cookie sheet and cut hearts with knife or cookie cutter.

Spread whipped cream on a cookie sheet and freeze, then cut the frozen whipped cream into shapes using cookie cutters or a knife. Drop into some warm cocoa and you have a sweet (and cute) way to cool off your hot chocolate!      Probably could add different extracts to fat free whipped cream and put it in coffee too....

or just add some sprinkles

Pink Hot Chocolate...SO yummy and easy to make!  It's perfect for Valentine's Day breakfast, any Valentine's party, or anytime!!! #simplykierste #hotchocolate #valentinesday

Flowers… all about the quality, and the thought.  Stores picked over?  Just grab a few special pieces and wrap in a pretty paper as shown at Style Me Pretty Living.

but yeah there is nothing wrong with a good old red rose


Handmade cards that actually say how you actually feel.  Real Simple has some great ideas.

DIY Valentine, matchbookimage.png

DIY Valentine, puzzle piecesHomemade Valentine card with fridge magnets

How about a cute little surprise for the kiddos?

Sweetheart cupcakes from Glorious Treats maybe with some homemade strawberry milk?

Or marshmallows from The Sweet Life.


And of course a few little handmade keepsakes to put around your home and make it feel special.. maybe hang some heart cut outs in the kids rooms for when they wake up..


paint chip bookmarks shown by inhabitots


string heart shown here 

DIY string heart - 25+ Valentine's Day Home Decor Ideas - NoBiggie.net

or a message on canvas as shown here 

Button burlap heart - 25+ Valentine's Day Home Decor Ideas - NoBiggie.net

how about a few pillows to spruce up your living room or bedroom?

Valentine's Pillow Covers #westelm | Master bed

we have some at Ivy Lane!


Happy valentines day my friends!    I hope you and your family, friends, loved ones have a fabulous day and take some time to celebrate each other.




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More Snow Coming! Cozy it Up!

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” -Edith Sitwell

So we’ve survived Juno and more, with even more to come this next week.  As only New Englanders are equipped to do, its time to embrace the cold and snow and seek out the positives!  I’m in full blown hibernation mode as soon as the sun goes down…we eat dinner earlier and go to bed earlier. We snuggle by the fire. We get snow days (albeit too many for one week).  Isn’t there something nice about being forced to stay home by someone else when we would never allow ourselves that luxury?  The peacefulness of white covered everything.  Things are just naturally quieter and calmer for my family this time of year.

So if you are going to spend more time in your home, its time to embrace that too and make it a place that you want to be. Let your home nurture you and your family through these chilly days.  Here are 6 essential tips for a cozy winter home:

1. Add layers of soft-textured-chunky textiles…blankets, pillows, rugs.  Keep plenty of blankets stocked up for visitors on chilly nights and consider having less fur/ wool options for those with allergies.  Sheepskin rugs are always a great way to cozy up a chair, fireplace area, etc.


image from Pinterest

2. Add warm lighting. Winter days are short, days become night before most of us get home. Candles and table lamps add a soft, warm glow vs overhead lighting that can often feel harsh.  Flameless candles are perfect for holders that are reachable by little fingers.

Light couches, light throws. Would go great with wooden slab bar and forest chic theme

Image from Pinterest

Candles on mantle

Image from Pinterest


Image from Pinterest

3.  have a warm place to relax. A fireplace will surely due the trick, but a cozy corner where you can bundle up and sink into the warmth is a wonderful alternative.

Warm up your home in the winter months with sweater-type pillows and blankets, cozy candles & soft fabrics - would love to be in this spot right now!

wishful thinking with white and my kids...

Image from Pinterest

4.  have a welcoming entrance to your home. A welcome mat, a clear path and a place to drop snowy boots.

Just like a doormat, these cubby holes have carpet swatches inside to help remove dried mud from work shoes. (Photo: Mark Scott)

Image from Pinterest.

5.  warm up the bedroom with extra layers of blankets/pillows and a more masculine scented candle like a woody Baltic Amber.

Image from Pinterest

6.  and lastly create a coffee/hot chocolate/tea station to warm the soul. Have all the fixings ready for impromptu guests. Nothing says perfect host, like a prepared host!

Use Simple (Salt and Pepper) Shakers - For the Coffee station, Hot Chocolate Station, or any other station where the condiments do not need to be completely covered <3 this idea.

and of course you could always just take it back to your cozy bed… because its a snow day….

kvtes: “ explore-everywhere: “ westheritage: “ West Heritage x Sackcloth & Ashes The past couple of weeks, we’ve been in touch with a company from the PNW called Sackcloth & Ashes who makes handmade...

Stay warm and toasty with your friends and family – enjoy all that the season change has to offer.  Before you know it we will be in the hustle and bustle of the dog days of summer, maybe even longing for a little hibernation.  xo


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Wrapping up on Christmas Eve

Well, Christmas Eve is upon us and I’ve done it again.  The challenge of a mom who spent these last weeks/days finishing up work projects so I can get some much needed shut down time over the holidays.   All I want to do now that I’m officially on holiday is decorate Santa cookies, watch Christmas Vacation, snuggle my munchkin, and put my feet up!   But I have soooo many gifts to wrap…and yes I did just finish up my shopping about 30 minutes ago (hey, at least I finished right?)  Wrapping will have to wait until a certain few someones go to bed.

Here are a few simple ways to make the wrapping quick and simple, yet stylish and personal. *note: a tasty drink (or two helps).

Brown butcher paper is amazing. The rolls are huge and economical, which are great for big gifts and MANY gifts. Too late in the night to run out for butcher paper? Try brown paper bags, wax paper, parchment paper or newspaper. Use bakers twine, twine, yarn or rubber bands for ribbon. Run out in the yard and grab some greens, add a photo, old buttons, feathers, or handwritten tags. Done.
Here are a few images found on Pinterest to get you started:


image image image image image image image

Tasty drink is a must. Try this:


Happy wrapping!   Don’t stress, be merry and enjoy every magical moment of the holiday.

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Boho Chic, et cetera

Its been almost 9 months since my last post… I nearly forgot how to log into this wordpress thing.  Ive missed blogging like crazy, but when you’ve got too many good things on your plate something has gotta give, right?   It drives me crazy that I cant find the time to do everything that I want to do.  My head floods with new ideas the second it stops thinking about project deadlines.  Why do I have to hire other people to make things, cant I just make it all?  Nevermind the not so fabulous business “stuff” {oy, headache}.  There is also the crazy toddler + husband + several small animals + loads of family and friends who I want to see all of the time.   I sure am still learning how the heck to do all of this..tips??  Until I figure it all out, thanks to my clients who know to expect me 15 minutes late, the daycare that hasnt banned me {late pick ups… forgotten items}, and my facebook-blogging friends who haven’t unliked me.  Im feeling 2013… think its going to be a great year.  There is some good karma in the air.


What have I been up to?  Working on some pretty special projects and dealing with a year of living in limbo;  in December we finally became owners of the home {barn} and studio of my dreams.  I won’t hold it against her that she bust a pipe this weekend while I was flying solo in a blizzard.  She brings a lifetime of projects, but that’s why I love her.  Also a few months ago I teamed up with a new retail boutique shop in downtown Newburyport in their quest to bring fresh budget-minded responsible home decor to the area.  Ivy Lane is a home for an eclectic mix of local dealers, each who bring special creative talents and varied styles {think mid-century modern to vintage chic}.  Most items have been upcycled and re-purposed; I have always thought its a designer’s responsibility to figure out how to balance re-using great quality pieces rather than always making new things.  So I have a little in-house design studio set up for in-store consults, and retail anything textile from pillows & table linens to slipcovers & window treatments.

For 2013, the owners of Ivy Lane have decided to showcase a design theme each month so that we keep the new inventory flowing, and February is Boho Chic.  Oh how I love you so very much.  If ever there were a style to describe my personal style, most would agree this is it.  So I decided this was a perfect first revival of the blog.

boho definition

I promise Im not a gypsy, but you will probably find me wandering looking for something I left behind.

What is Boho Chic?  Just as it sounds… an elegant hippie.  I used to get bothered when people used the word “hippie” to describe my style.  Im not walking around making a peace sign with dreds.  I love to shower and I grew up with an obsession that all of my clothes needed to be ironed including my jeans {my college friends are shaking their heads right now}.  The word hippie derives from hipster, and Im cool with that.  Boho Chic is a style said to have been brought forward in the early 2000s by hipster chicks like Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Kate Hudson.  Think marriage of a 60s hippie with a global bohemian.  It’s a relaxed style that flatters and absolutely requires fabulous embellishments… beads, fringe, feathers, furs, Im drooling.  Do you love Anthropologie and Free People?  Well then you are probably drooling too.

zara copy

I, of course, think this style translates perfectly to the home.  Its all about infusing some personality, some depth, some playfulness but in a relaxed and comfortable manner.  Its not grungy and its not frilly, in any way.  It’s global.  It’s eclectic.  It’s filled with good energy.  It’s also challenging to mix so many elements and balance the doing it enough with the not overdoing it.

Start with a neutral base that is fitted while flattering.  A dark or light neutral does not matter, just think about the overall feel you are going for.  Then embellish like crazy.  Mix mix mix.  Patterns, textures, colors… the more mixing less matching you do, the better.  Take these spaces as examples, note how absolutely nothing matches yet it all looks cohesive and beautiful together.


Just love that blue whimsical headboard against the slate colored wall.


And these funky pillows against the tailored navy blue settee.




layered rugs


so many pattern mixes but the color tones stay consistent

You feeling the energy?

If you are a little scared of bombing your home with color, then take it slow.  I love the simplicity of texture through pattern in monochromatic color tones, and incorporating just a few elements that carry the boho vibe like the textiles here.

crochet fringe


curtains 2

elegant hippie?

If you head over to Ivy Lane you will see some fun new stuff from me, like my recent “table rug” obsession. So many people are gravitating towards wood farmhouse-rustic wood type tables that require less maintenance, and less tablecloths.  Its nice to have a small textile to soften it up, ground a table scape, or bring in a little color.  How about this for color – chenille fabric with a fabulous vintage turquoise fringe?


And a look at some new fun boho chic pillows with lots of fringe, of course, so you can get your hipster on.

photo (1)

Go hunt the fabulous pillow that is boasting this fringe….

photo (2)

Apologies for the iphone pics, I was wandering around looking for my camera and gave up.  Be on the lookout for more new designs to come!  Never stop creating, right?

Peace.  😉

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New Orleans: where a door is not just a door

Hiiiiiiiiii!!! I’m such a bad blogger lately, ugh. These last few weeks have been a little crazy with all sorts of events, travel, projects… and you know, life. It always seems like this stretch from spring to summer is so busy, like everyone and everything is coming back to life at full speed. Speaking of, this is my first spring at the barn and it is so fun watching all of the plants and flowers pop up. When we moved in last year everything was so overgrown – its amazing to see the beautiful variety we seem to have going. Even had a nice surprise stumbling upon a plentiful supply of asparagus. Yum! Can’t wait to see what else we find.

But really, this post is about our recent trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Every time I go back I fall a little more deeply in love with that city. Katrina shook things up, but this city is full of resilient and passionate people. I’ve also matured [a little] since my first trip to the fest in 1999. Bourbon St is now a drive-by for me rather than a destination. There is just so much to take in, I always leave there feeling more inspired. I wanted to share with you some of our trip, but apologies for the iphone pix as I was packing ultra light now that we have a kiddo in tow.

Why do I love New Orleans so much? It is the simple combination of music, art, food, and people – with Louisiana soul. The city honors culture and a passion for all things that please the senses.

the streets of new orleans

Jazz Fest brings us there every year because of our love for the local musicians. From the jazz tent, to the blues tent, to the gospel tent, to the kids tent and all of the main stages – there is music for everyone. Not to mention all of the artisans selling their talents, the kids craft area, the to-die-for selection of local foods [I am a total spice lover], and the experience of so many people coming together to just have a good time. Here’s a pic of one of the stages we pretty much set up camp at for the weekend, but there are several stages like this around the field.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Tribes parade through the crowds in Native American ceremonial apparel. You can imagine how excited I get over the feathers.


more feathers! (photographer unknown)

Artisans come from near and far to sell items, I always buy a piece of local jewelry but enjoy seeing the funkier items like this paper mache…

paper mache

paintings of local legends

Jack loved the kids tent so much he cried when we made him leave, screaming “I want the doggies!!”

kids tent

There is a whole area devoted to kid crafts and activities. Great concept to have them leave their mark on the festival with painted cloths.

kids crafts

Music, music everywhere.

Galactic with Trombone Shorty and War Chief Juan Pardo ©2012 Douglas Mason

It is not just the fest that we love, in fact my favorite trips there have been the ones when there are no big events and we can just enjoy the city. This year we took a few extra days after the fest to unwind and experience a city that speaks design. If you walk down any random street it’s hard not to get swept up in the architectural details and creative urban landscaping.

The Spanish-style architecture of New Orleans dates back to the 1700s, known for the quaint doors-windows and intricate wrought iron balconies. Let me tell you, this is a city where a door is not just a door. The scale and variety of details-colors is inspiring for anyone who loves design with character. Entries for this city are about the experience and an opportunity to make each home unique in an urban space.

doors of new orleans by ashley jacobsen

doorway by ashley jacobsen

There is an interesting concept behind one of the most common architectural styles known as the shotgun house, which is a long narrow single-story building set on a raised foundation of brick piers and typically has some great Victorian detail under the front eave. The Shotgun is a descendant of houses in the Caribbean – the first documented shotgun in New Orleans dates back to the early 1800’s. This style experienced a revival at the end of the 20th Century (following its decline after the Great Depression).

The design provides a necessary and natural cross-ventilation system in the hot Louisiana climate, but it also maximizes space while minimizing historic property taxes. Old tax laws used to be based on the width of the house and-or the number of rooms (closets and halls were considered rooms at one time); the shotgun floor plan minimizes both with no closets or hallways. Essentially you can shoot your shotgun from the front door all the way to the backyard without hitting any walls – ahhh, the simple things in life!

the typical New Orleans shotgun style, note the scale of windows + doors

The creole cottage is another popular style that you will find in the French Quarter with its gabled roof and front porch, blending Caribbean and French-Canadian designs.

the creole cottage

The american townhouse is common in the lower garden district with its beautifully ornate iron balconies.

American Townhouse; intricate iron balcony designs are pre-Civil War

The double gallery is also found in the garden district with stacking front porches and beautiful columns.

the double gallery

The arts/warehouse district is really a revived area now with large commercial buildings that showcase a new orleans flair.

Children’s Museum in the Arts/Warehouse District

And of course my trip would not be complete without a stroll down Magazine Street, filled with a range of coffee shops, restaurants, and stores. I have two favorite stores here, but I just love the variety of home furnishing shops that offer vintage new orleans to mod. Peaches has great mid-century modern finds that take you away from the traditional new orleans. Perch is a combo retail and interior design studio that always leaves me drooling a little. My photos do not do them justice.

Turquoise @ Perch

Perched @ Perch

fabulous ottoman @ Perch!

So there you have it, a fun-filled trip with lots of inspiration. I’ll spare you all the details of the food and drinks consumed, but lets just say the several miles of walking [and dancing] we did each day was a total necessity.

the rain dance

Can’t wait to get back there soooooooooon!

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Graham and Brown

So… did you resolve to change any of your ways for this Earth Day?  If you are a skeptic of global warming, just do it for you and your family.  It’s the little things like swapping out harsh cleaners for non-toxics that provide for a safer environment.  Some things my family is doing to reduce, reuse and recycle: composting, freecycling, and reusing our beer bottles for the hubby’s home brew (ok ok, totally saves trips to the dump and $).  I also pledge to shop at Todd Farm a LOT this summer, ha!  A resolution for me, and the earth.

Anyways, onto some more product talk.  I’m loving the comeback of wallpaper but I also think we should consider the environmental impacts when making selections. Common sense tells you that the process of turning wood into a perfect and decorative piece of paper is not energy or chemical free.  The basic ingredients are wood, water, and energy – that is why recycling your paper is good!!!  Even though recycling uses water, energy, and chemicals (consider bleach required to get you your white paper), it uses a great deal less.  You really do save a tree.  and water pollution.  and energy.  and air pollution.  and landfill space….

paper mill

Look for wallpapers printed with water-based inks on recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper, natural wall coverings made of rapidly renewable materials such as grasscloth and bamboo, and vintage papers produced before the advent of vinyl.   Stay clear of PVC-coated products, which are chemical cocktails for your home.

I love Graham and Brown wallpapers – they are fun, fresh and creative with bright patterns like this one by Amy Butler..

lacework was selected as an Honoree for Interior Design's Best of Year Award

or their paintables, which give texture and creativity to any space.


for subtle drama, paint paintables white to allow the pattern to take center stage

Even better, Graham & Brown has embraced the environment through their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives which originated long ago.

Graham & Brown’s manufacturing process incorporates efficiency by:

*printing on paper from responsibly managed resources – meaning for every 1 tree that is chopped down, 3 are planted

*using vegetable oil in the hydraulics of their tractors so they do not contaminate forest floors

*burning off pollutants in an incinerator so that emissions leaving the factory are clean; this energy is recycled to heat ovens in the production process

*separating production waste so cardboard and paper could be re-pulped and white spirits (chemicals) are recovered from liquid waste

*their distribution center incorporates manages drainage to prevent flash flooding of the nearby river (water use), and natural light is used throughout the warehouse facility with a series of occupancy sensors to manage and reduce the energy used

The Eco Collection follows a four-month collaboration with Central St. Martins, one of the country’s leading design colleges.  The designs featured in the collection are inspired by environmental issues to playfully inspire a lower carbon footprint amongst consumers.  These papers are decorated with water based inks – meaning totally VOC and solvent free, and the packaging is made from corn so it is completely compostable – no tape or plastics.  Here are some of my favorites.

traditional birdcage mixed with modern idiosyncrasies of human urban architectural influences

bittern feather illustrates the Bittern, a bird that lives in reed beds - with rising sea levels due to global warming they are under serious threat

peony illustrates vibrancy that can be found in nature

summer shows that its uncomplicated charm is on a par with that of a summers day, when life need only be simple and laid back

Graham & Brown was founded in the UK, but has since open locations globally including the US, Canada, Russia, Holland, France, Poland and China.   Having these central locations allows the company to truly understand the local design markets.

Check out Centsational Girl’s blog post on wallpaper for info on more sources, here.  Also look for homemade wallpaper paste recipes found all over the internet.  Have you ever made one?  Share with us!

———————————————————————————————————————————— SUSTAINABLE FEATURES OF THIS PRODUCT:

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spring clean your health, mind and home

Easter has passed and that means I need to get my b-u-t-t in gear and start a spring cleaning frenzy. There’s nothing better than heading into the summer months with a freshly organized home so you can enjoy time with friends & family. Even though our New England winter was unbelievably mild this year, it was still mentally and physically draining. I don’t know about you, but our family was sick a good 80% of the time from December through February. Fun times…I just coughed a little thinking about it. Without fresh air circulating we are exposed to more toxins and more viruses: indoor air quality can be 2-5 times more toxic than outdoors. Top that off with dry interior heat and cold dry outdoor air, and well, that explains some things.

indoor air continuously re-circulates

All set with that. Spring is a time for us to restore our health as we transition to increased levels of fresh air and daylight. Yeah! So here are some things you can do to get started.

a molly janicki delight

De-clutter and organize. What items need new homes? What clothes have you been hanging onto, only to cause you stress because they still don’t fit? What piles of paperwork and bills have you just thrown in a drawer (hope I’m not the only one)? What toys has your child outgrown? What foods are still lingering in your pantry or fridge? Find your stashes and piles, go through them, and give them whatever new home you deem appropriate. Organize, donate, swap, sell, repurpose, and recycle as much as you can. Getting the physical clutter out of your home will give you some mental clarity to deal with the remains.


clutter free


Ok, ok. Maybe not so realistic… but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Clean, safely. After you have determined what stays and what goes, give everything a good cleaning. Heavy winter boots have brought pollutants to your rugs, closed windows allowed toxins to continuously re-circulate, pets have nested on your furnishings, food has spoiled in your fridge, hard to reach places have collected dust. A good cleaning can feel as good as a home makeover, but to keep you feeling good avoid harsh chemicals that lead to headaches and respiratory issues. They might do the job, but they will also do a job on your health. Avoid products that contain ammonia or chlorine bleach, and especially anything that says “Keep Out of Reach of Children”. You don’t need to drink out of the bottle to ingest a chemical. Chemical residues and fragrances left from these products can be ingested through our skin and respiratory tracts through inhalation. Look for products with a Green Seal, or better yet use a homemade solution. So many great resources online, spend some time researching.

Bring the outdoors in. Give your patios or gardens a head start by planting seeds inside. Or create an indoor herb garden with decorative containers that spruce up a neglected space in your home. Indoor plants help to cleanse your air and add a fresh and natural aroma.

plant a seed

DIY plant markers

kitchen garden

Design a small cutting garden that will allow you to pick fresh flowers to display.

design a cutting garden

If you have no clue where to start, we do – so ask us we have resources for you. Get a master landscape plan. Get a one-hour consultation and then DIY. Take a class at a local nursery like Pettengill Farm in Salisbury, for you locals. There’s a range of options to fit your needs and level of aggression.

fabulous molly janicki creation

Revive your décor. Now that you’ve cleansed your senses, home, mind it’s time to think about bringing some summer living inside. There are so many small and budget-friendly things you can do to prep your home for the changing seasons. Focus on textures and colors as these are the elements that enhance a connection with the outdoors. Slipcovers/upholstery, layered window treatments, area rugs, bedding, towels, dish clothes, table linens, pillows, throws, lampshades, paint, and accessories can totally change the feel of a space. Invest in the core items you want to last forever – pillow or comforter inserts, furniture, wall art, and allow your décor to be a continual process of discovering things that you love.

focus on textures and colors

Spring/summer is the time of year when all the outdoor markets start up – find some great bargains and DIY projects. Check out the Newburyport Home & Garden Expo on April 21st. Take the family and visit Todd Farm in Rowley on Sunday mornings, spend a few days at the Brimfield in May/July/Sept, and get over to Pettengill Farm in June/September for their Vintage Bazaar. Of course you better come to our open house @ the studio on April 29th! If nothing else, to see the cows.

Don’t forget – Earth Day is April 22nd. Make a pledge to do one thing that brightens your health and our future.

Have a happy and healthy week!


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