Saturday, December 29, 2012


I can remember, during my elementary school years, my Mother throwing a fun filled New Year’s Eve party almost every year.  The room was overflowing with confetti filled balloons that were to be popped when the clock struck midnight.   Adults had highballs while us kids had a virgin holiday punch.  Although the gathering was served buffet style, stacks of holiday china and silverware were laid out before the trays of delicious home cooked food.  I inherited my Mother’s belief that nothing dulls the luster of the season than paper plates, plastic utensils and cups.  I’m not judging if you do….BUT….even if you don’t have crystal or china, use regular dishes and glass stemware  - trust me, the night will feel more special.   As I digress, on the other side, were etched champagne coupes lined on an inlay wood tray ready to be filled just before the countdown.  Early in the evening, we would play tombola (Italian bingo) and of course, Guy Lombardo was on TV!  What fond memories!

So as we approach the last few hours of 2012, we are all thinking of how we will be spending our moment as the ball drops.  I will most likely spend a quiet evening at home, with the TV on but If you are entertaining, you may want to have a bottle or two of bubbly on ice ready to cheer in the new year.

Which is your choice of bubbly?

Champagne, made since medieval times, is the king of sparkling wine and is the proper name given to sparkling wines from the Champagne region of France and is composed almost always from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes.  It typically has a dry, complex flavor.

While some countries regulate the use of the name, Champagne, others continue to allow sparkling wine produced in other places to guise under the noble title. So if champagne is what you seek, check the bottle; if it doesn’t say that it’s made in Champagne, France, it isn’t Champagne.

Italy is well known for sparkling wines like proseco and Asti spumante.
Asti (Asti spumante) is made from the super sweet moscato bianco grape (as is Moscato d’Asti – less sparkling, “frizzante”) and even though sweet wines tend to be high in alcohol content, Asti is relatively low, about 12% by volume. Due to the sugar content in the grape, these wines go perfectly with fruit and cheese platters or heavy cakes.
Prosecco is the name of an Italian grape and the sparkling wine it creates. Prosecco is noted for its slightly bitter aftertaste and naturally dry essence.  Serve cold.
Cava was invented during the dreadful plague that destroyed much of the European grape vines in the 19th century, using hardy strains of white grape. Cava is available in dry, medium or sweet varieties.
It is best to drink sparkling wine in a champagne flute, especially with the current trend of dry wines.  The long narrow glass helps develop and concentrate the bubbles and allows the aroma and flavor to travel up to the nose and palette.
Although, I do prefer the more decorative look of the Champagne coupe or saucer which is a shallow, broad bowl like, stemmed glass.  Today, they are more commonly for drinks like the daiquiris or to impress guests with a champagne tower. The glasses are stacked high, like a pyramid, and champagne is continuously poured into the top glass, trickling down to fill every glass below. According to legend, Louis XVI had the glass shaped from the left breast of his beloved wife, Marie Antoinette.  Although my romantic side wishes it true, it is not. The glass was designed especially for champagne in England in 1663, almost a century before our adored notorious queen.
Sparkling wine is undeniably a party drink that adds a level of fun and tradition to any celebration.

Drink responsibly, be safe and Happy New Year/


Saturday, June 2, 2012

How do you accessorize?

Yesterday while "pinning" (yet another obsession of mine and for those who may not know what the heck I meant by that,  Pinterest is a site where you view, organize and share photos that you "pin" to virtual bulletin boards that you create and name yourself), I came across this picture of "wicker covered French bottles."  So pretty!  So I thought what a great accessory for a kitchen, dining room, wine cellar....

These vintage vessels are knows as demijohns.  Basically a demijohns is a glass bottle, encased in wickerwork, with a large body and a small neck.  They were used in the transportation of liquids, such as wine, beer, molasses or any other type of liquid.  The wicker provided cushioning to avoid breaking during transportation.  You may find a more detailed history of the demijohn here.

If you want this look in your home, you can spend $400+ on a vintage one or you can get a similar look for less with Pottery Barn's Found Woven Wine Bottles which run from $179 to $279.
Pottery Barn 
Accessorizing your home with objects like this tells your guests a story of who you are, your likes and interests and are what gives your home personality.

Here are 5 basic rules of accessorizing a room.

1 Begin with an object that you love (You're likely to have success and be happy with the result when you start off with an item that brings you joy).  Simply build around that item by choosing other accessories that are inspired by or complementary to it.  
2 Group collections together rather than scattering individual objects around the room. This gives your collection more visual presedence and makes your room appear less cluttered. 
Consider placement.  Use symmetry in formal rooms.  For example, placing matching items on the ends of your mantle. If your home has an informal design, go asymmetrical with your accessory placement. 
4  Keep in mind, when grouping multiple objects together to vary the size and height and also, to use odd numbers in the grouping.   Doing so adds visual interest to your design.
5 Do not over accessorize! Clutter kills the appealing quality of good design.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

SUMMER: Porches

Do you have a sunroom, like the one below or a front or back porch?
I just love this space.  It's inviting and relaxing.  Couldn't you just curl up with a good book here and spend the day reading away?

Summertime blues:

Painting the ceiling blue is a gesture of traditional Southern style.  There are many stories as to why homeowners, in the south, painted porch ceilings blue.  One being a Carolina low country legend.    The pale blue paint wards off spirits of the dead, called Haints, whiich cannot cross water.  therefore, "haint Blue" was applied to surfaces like porch ceilings, shutters, doors and window trims.  It is also believed that the pale blue keeps away pesky insects by tricking them to believe it's the sky and therefore thinking they cannot build their nests there.  Actually, the reason was that blue paint, during the time, contained lye, a known bug repellent.   One more possible thought was that blue brings good luck.  Whatever the reason, two things are for sure about a Haint blue porch ceiling; it reminds you of the summer sky and is cheerful to look at.

Summer breeze makes me feel fine:

Adding a ceiling fan will provide a gentle breeze to cool you on warm summer days or nights. (check out the adirondack chairs!  You can learn more about them HERE on my last post).

Curtain call:

Curtains not only add a touch of elegance, like in the first picture on this blog, but can provide you with shade and privacy when closed, like the picture directly above.

Get on the floor:

No matter where your space is, indoors or out, an area rug defines the space.  So many beautiful choices are available now for outdoor carpeting.

And then there was light:

Lighting is the most important element to good design.  Without it you won't be able to see your space or even function in it.  There are many table and floor lamps, which you can find in almost all the pictures above.  So when the sunlight dims and you need a bit of light to finish reading that book, turn on your outdoor lamp.

Have a seat:

There are so many options here the skies the limit.  Check out the pictures below for some idea.
The Rocker is a classic seating choice for a front porch. (Better Homes and Garden)

Porch swing.  This one looks real it nap time?

Wicker never goes out of style and is one of the most popular option.

I've provided you with some great options for seating.  What you need to decide is what fits your needs, desired look, what's comfortable for you and what meets your budget.   

I hope you enjoyed some of my thoughts on how to make your porch or sunroom a comfy place to spend time this summer.

Thank you for stopping by,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer: The Adirondack Chair 

A classic icon of summer is the Adirondack Chair for which it's commonly known as but was Originally named the Muskoka chair by it's inventor, Mr. Thomas Lee in 1903.  While on vacation in Westport, NY, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, Lee needed to accommodate seating for his large family AND SO HE BEGAN TO CRAFT several designs of chairs for his kinsfolk to sample and give feedback to which was most comfortable.  The original Adirondack chair was made with eleven pieces of wood, cut from a single board, with a straight back and seat. It also featured wide armrests, which is a hallmark of this popular chair.  Lee showed his new creation to his carpenter friend, Harry Bunnell, WHO IMMEDIATELY SAW ITS POSSIBILITY to be popular among vacationing residents and it's potential for great profit and in the summer of 1905, Bunnell, without Lee's permission, filed for a patent, calling it the Westport Chair and as the old cliché goes, the rest is history!

So here's my plan for you:

Place chair(s) in a desired spot in your backyard.  Here we have two to create a conversation area.
    maybe add a ceramic garden stool to act as a table
    I like the shape of this one blue and white one.

    Or if you can only find a simple shaped one try adding a small round piece of glass on top of it.

    accessorize with a cluster of lanterns on the ground nearby.

    Drape a garden throw blanket over the back of each chair.
    These throws by Sunbrella were meant for outdoors 
    and they are machine washable.

    A wicker tray to carry drinks from the house to your new relaxing spot.

    A set of glasses and a pitcher of white sangria atop of the tray. 
    This set from Pottery Barn is classic.

    If your chairs are not shaded by trees, you might want to get an umbrella for protection!

    If company is not around bring with you a good book to read or better your laptop or tablet to read your favorite shelter blog!


    Saturday, January 14, 2012


    I recently posted a picture of a wallpapered room on my Facebook page. 

    Wallpaper can be traced back to 200 B.C. - wow!!

    despite the decline in popularity during the 80s and 90s, wallpaper is making a comeback big time!

    Whether you like it or not, wallpaper is here to stay!







    If you're thinking about using wallpaper in your home, here are just  a few tips to keep in mind:
    • Large scale prints can overwhelm in a small room - hints: use a bold print in a subtle tone or papering one wall (the wall behind your bed for example).
    • Small scale prints tend to get lost in large rooms.
    • Stripes on a wall can help to make the ceiling look higher.
    • Coordinate your room by choosing colors found in the wallpaper.  A good idea is to limit it to two or three colors and use throughout the room repeatedly in fabrics, trims and painted wood furniture (if using archival/historic reproduction papers, refer to heritage paint collections to match the tones).
    • If you are papering just one wall, match the paint on the other walls to the wallpaper’s background color for a seamless finish.
    • Use the reflective nature of metalic or pearlised finished wallpaper to brighten up a room that doesn't get much sunlight.
    • Sea grass/grasscloth papers add warmth and texture!

    Finally, purchasing wallpaper can be daunting with all the choices out there and since it's an investment with the cost ranging from approximately $50 to $500 (plus) a roll, I recommend hiring a decorator to help choose the best paper for your home and to hire a professional installer.  Your installer will be able to prepare the walls correctly, for the type of paper being used and match the patterns for a seamless look. 

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    A Black and White Christmas

    Three years ago, we adopted two  VERY ACTIVE and very curious kittens.  

    This is Cooper
    and this is Astro
    So I was very nervous putting up my regular ornaments, which range in price from inexpensive to...I can’t believe I paid that much TO ONLY BE SEEN FIVE WEEKS OUT OF THE YEAR  but it was pretty....pretty expensive!  

    So what was I going to do?  Alas, while rummaging the foyer closet ~insert golden light from above and a choir of angels singing a single note of inspiration~ I found a box of silver 2x3 picture frames AND THOUGHT THEY WOULD MAKE EXCELLENT CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENTS!  Thank goodness that I had an event earlier in the year that I used the frames as place card holders and food descriptions at the buffet table.

    picture frames from a Tiffany themed sweet 16 I organized earlier that year
    As the saying goes, necessity is definitely the mother of invention and with glue gun in hand, I got to work affixing ribbon to the back of each frame.

    I was so happy with the results that I decided to switch off and do it again.  This time to match a tree skirt I sewed out of burlap and white cotton with a black stencil of a partridge in a pear tree (wreath in this case), which I cut out myself using freezer paper - I learned this trick from reading blogs.

    my burlap and white cotton tree skirt
    I pleated my own knife pleat trim 
    and added loops and buttons to close

    My skirt was inspired by this stocking I made which I got the idea from HERE!
    Print out black and white images of your favorite photos:  family, friends, WINTER SCENES OR holiday images, like Santa, pictures of you and your family on vacation, day trip to the city and the like.  Hot glue a ribbon on the back and hang on your tree.  If you’re not sure about black and white images, you can use an antique faded look with a hint of color or just use color prints. The choice is yours and with so many photo affect programs out there, you can get really creative.

    supplies:  glue gun and glue sticks, photos, frames and ribbon
    I intertwined burlap and b/w gingham ribbons as garland aroundI the tree
    and will be adding red berries or flowers for a nice pop of color.
    (I didn't realize Astro was trying to lay under the skirt in the back of the tree when I took this picture!)

    I am going to add pops of red here and there but mostly keep to black, white, silver and burlap.  Maybe sunflowers, hmmm?!?!  I better hurry up, Christmas is in 15 days!

    even my presents match!
    I am continuing the theme with the presents under the tree which has a black and white photo of the recipient rather than a "to and from" gift tag.  

    From my home to yours, Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Where to go!

    I WANT TO MAKE LIMONCELLO, which is an Italian lemon-based liqueur that is served as an aperitif or digestif (liquors that are served prior to a meal to stimulate the appetite or after to aid in digestion).


    The history of limoncello twists through a series of tales and legends primarily on the Amalfi Coastline area (Capri, Sorrento and Amalfi). This citrus spirit is now considered the national drink of Italy and has found popularity here in the states.

    Before I begin, I need to purchase a lem

    on zester. I’m thinking this tool would be faster and easier then grating 10 to 15 lemons while trying not to get any of the pith. A great place for kitchen utensils such as this is Bowery Kitchen Supply.

    So come on…


    Today I am taking you on a field trip to one of my favorite places I frequent here in the city called the Chelsea Market. It can be found on 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th Street on the ground floor of what used to be the old National Biscuit Company building. Hints of the building’s industrial past are sprinkled throughout your walk down the long corridor, like powdered sugar on a modern day confection. THE AESTHETIC RECIPE OF THE CHELSEA MARKET is a visceral feast of neglected ductwork, old signboards, the original train shed, and other historic ingredients melding its flavors along with modern zests, such as a makeshift waterfall and lighted floor. As you walk your way down the arcade of food shops and restaurants building up a strong appetite from the delicious aromas taunting your nose, toward the end, there is where you will find Bowery Kitchen Supply.

    I know that this blog entry had nothing to do with décor but I thought I’d share it anyway. Just think, after a shot of limoncello, I bet your home will look prettier to you! If not, call!!! :)

    Dennis DelBene's Iphone



    • 10 lemon
    • 1 liter vodka
    • 3 cups white sugar
    • 4 cups water


    1. Zest the lemons, and place zest into a large glass bottle or jar. Pour in vodka. Cover loosely and let infuse for one week at room temperature.
    2. After one week, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. DO NOT STIR. Boil for 15 minutes. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature.
    3. Stir vodka mixture into syrup. Strain into glass bottles, and seal each bottle with a cork. Let mixture age for 2 weeks at room temperature.
    4. Place bottled liqueur into the freezer. When icy cold, serve in chilled vodka glasses or shot glasses.

    When the batch is done, I will add a picture to the blog.

    Thanks for stopping by.