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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 -

or a message on canvas as shown here 

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

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  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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Sensory Spaces

I recently wrote an article on kid sensory spaces so thought I would share.  I spent a semester in grad school studying the Reggio Emilia and Montessori Method approaches to childhood learning; both are based on the idea that children learn from their senses, and that their physical environment plays a critical role.  From the moment a baby is born they have an innate ability to explore and interpret reality through their senses – not only is this the way they learn about the world, but it is also how their brains develop in the early years.  Sensory learning is a constant process of sending information from the physical body to the brain, and our home environments can help support this learning.

As adults we have each developed our own preferences to the various sensory stimulants including sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.  Responses to these stimulants can be emotional, psychological, cultural, and learned – but they are definitively individual.   What colors, lighting, textures, or smells do you have an immediate connection or reaction to?   You already know I love the smell of play-doh!  Did you know I have a total aversion to the texture of styrofoam? Like, it completely creeps me out.

styrofoam cups

For our youngest children, they have not yet made these associations so their responses are pure.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to watch how our children respond to new things, and can help us identify what their individual interests might be.  I’m going to share some tips on how you can create a multisensory space in your home.  The most important thing we can do is provide sensory opportunities so that kids can naturally learn through their own means of discovery and exploration.

**********************MY TIPS********************

Allow the ability to construct real and imaginary places through a space that offers physical flexibility;  keep them stimulated by facilitating constant change.    Incorporate modular furniture that is easy to move or stack.

Pony Modular Furniture

Evoke a sense of wonder by including items that might sparkle, reflect, create sounds, spin, or be in motion.

Etsy pinwheel mobile

Hide items in different nooks for them to discover new each day.  Limit the amount of toys that are displayed and swap them out regularly so you can avoid overstimulation but also provide that sense of change.

hide things in different nooks everyday

Hang a temporary set of string lights or paper lanterns, or introduce a mirror to provide a fresh transformation.

Cotton & Cable design your own string lights

string lights

Kids of all ages also love a variation of levels which can be incorporated through loft spaces, risers, ramps, and seating.  When they are at a higher or equal level with adults it gives them a sense of empowerment which helps them build confidence and self esteem.

sleeping loft

craft loft


Create a spatial wonderland to match the greatest of swing sets.  Who says swings are only for the outdoors?  Spice it up!

With the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, our homes should provide kids with a sense of belonging and security.  You can create a cozy environment that allows sensory connections by incorporating elements that are soft and personable.   Warm colors, soft furnishings, interesting textures, and elements of nature help a child feel emotionally and physically comfortable.

cozy nook

An overall neutral color palette will provide a calming backdrop and allow your child to personalize it with colors through toys, artwork, photos, and accessories that can change over time.   A child’s identity begins at home, so give them a sense of self and your family and allow them to participate.

allow your kids to participate

DIY garland

The easiest and quickest thing you can do is find everyday items that can be manipulated or experienced through touch or smell.  Warm woods, cool glass, rough stone, textured fabric, clays, sand, rice, cotton balls, shredded papers, foam peanuts, feathers, shells, flowers, leaves, marshmallows, buttons, and dried pastas are all great.  Pair these materials with items such as measuring cups or spoons, mini shovels, lids, cookie cutters, sponges, straws, toilet paper tubes… done!

sensory tub with rice

sensory tub with cotton balls

Finally, consider incorporating natural light, fresh air, and views to the outside into these spaces.   Nature provides our children with connections that help them to understand things like seasons, as well as the light and dark cycles of a day.   These cycles regulate a lot of our human behaviors; exposure to daylight is especially important for the production of serotonin to give us those feelings of general well being.

incorporate daylight and views to the outdoors

So there you have it.  Did you create a sensory wonderland for your kids?  Send us pics so we can share your great ideas.

Have fun!

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nook [nʊk]

It’s Friday and I’m headed to Maine, yippeeeeee! I love my barn and cow neighbors, but there’s just something about Maine that encourages me to truly unwind. The lack of wireless signals probably has a lot to do with it. But the variety of rocky coasts, lakes, mountains, forests and of course, antique shops, just makes me happy.

We all need a little retreat from time to time. When our heads are too cluttered and we are rushing here there and everywhere it’s hard to quiet the mind. Without that quiet we can’t fully process our thoughts. That’s why we all need a nook in our homes.

nook [nʊk]

1. a corner or narrow recess, as in a room
2. a secluded or sheltered place; retreat

Nothing fancy, any little space that offers tranquility, quiet, and comfort will do. Here are some images to inspire and ponder for the weekend.

Having your nook in the living room might not always offer quiet seclusion, but having it recessed into that wall gives it a sense of retreat.  And like being all wrapped up.  Love these ottomans and the rug.

Again the built in seat wrapped in walls, but also next to a fire.  Nice.

A nook surrounded in books and elevated from the living space.  Love the skylight over the chair, get yourself some vitamin D at the same time.

A great window =  great nook potential.  Even if it is in the middle of the staircase.  Love how the flooring defines the space.  I’d swap that chair for some great floor cushions and pillows.

Speaking of walls to wrap you up, pillows and great windows.
Make your own bed swing?
Or a cute teepee so your kids can have a cozy, but fun, nook?
A funky way to deal with a dormer or sloped roof.  Love how everything is resting on the floor.
A soaking tub + comfy chair.
And then there is just the good old corner on the floor with cushions, piles of books, a reading lamp. Not too shabby.  Speaking of shabby that fur thing is wicked cute.  Hey, Im off to Maine… Im allowed to say wicked.
Where is your nook?

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