Beautiful Living is Good For You!

From Elle Decor: Apartment of Inès de la Fressange—fashion designer, model


I deeply believe that a beautiful decor can have a beneficial influence on our lives. ~ Albert Hadley      

It’s true. I believe this too… surrounding yourself with beauty makes you feel good. In fact, I’ll add that it reduces stress and, if it’s a well-organized home,  it will save you time and money as well. Here’s what I know…      

  • A home that is beautiful doesn’t have to cost a lot. It’s about surrounding yourself with things that you love and getting rid of things that do not serve a purpose or haven’t been used for a long time and will likely never be used.  If it doesn’t have a purpose or you don’t love it, get rid of it.
  • Arrange your furniture to embrace your lifestyle… create conversation areas, highlight accessories that are meaningful, designate an area for creative projects, define a place for relaxation or reading. Make it easy to be you.
  • Embrace color. It’s true that colors can affect the way that you feel. My entire lower level is shades of yellow. It makes me smile in the morning and  in the evening, warms me with a gentle glow as the sun sets in the horizon.  I never tire of  comfort those colors provide.
  • Make time for your home and yourself. I am the biggest offender of this. You would think, being a designer,  that my home would be beautiful and organized. The truth is that I have put so much energy into our company and developing company products that my home and self have been on the back burner.

The good news is it is never too late to refocus…I am  working like a mad woman… getting my house into shape (on a budget with lots of DIY projects, first priority is using what I already have in my home) and taking time to do things for me and my health. It’s amazing how good you feel when you start decorating, eating healthy foods, reducing clutter and taking your iron supplements. I’ve been revitalized at work as well; there are some pretty exciting things in the works… and lucky you…I’ll be sharing it all with you along the way – haha! xoxoxo Amy     

(Very) Personal Note: For all you anemic gals out there, if you have been putting off taking iron supplements because of the incredibly annoying side effect of (whispering…) constipation…try Floravital. I am in no way being paid to promote this product, it works for me and finally I feel like my usually, energetic self.

Adding a Feminine Touch to a Contemporary Bedroom

I's not a bedroom, but this photo from Houzz is a perfect example of adding a feminine touch to a contemporary styled room. Pink is traditionally a girly girl color and the chandelier is so glam - seriously...what gal wouldn't want to surround herself with a bit of sparkle along with tones of pink, creme and gray?


Over the weekend a reader asked the question…”How do I find a style that I am okay with now that my husband passed away? Can I make my bedroom more feminine while leaving a bit of my late husbands touch – he was into contemporary? First off…I am so sorry for you loss, it must be very difficult and I’m glad you are diving into a decorating project 🙂    

To answer your question, I say absolutely! I am not a fan of strictly following a particular style – how boring would that be?  Keeping your husband’s contemporary style, yet adding a few feminine touches of your own is a great idea. My bet is it will become a room you really love to spend time in. Here are some simple guidelines and tips for planning your room.   


  1. Settle in with a cup of tea and explore some design magazines and visit online sites such as Houzz, Elle Decor or Better Homes and Gardens. Clip or print photo’s of things that you catch your eye.
  2. Take inventory of your bedroom and identify any contemporary items that you wish to use in your bedroom.
  3. Select a photo or two the from ones you found in step one to use as an inspiration picture for your project. Take some time to identify what you like about each photo. Is it a pattern, paint color, texture, the accessories, etc…?
  4. Choose a color scheme of 2 or 3 colors that work well with the pieces you have chosen to keep and that reflect your inspiration photo. Tip: Using colors that are traditionally feminine such as pink or lavender will definitely get you going in the right direction.
  5. Use your colors to tie everything together, making sure to equally distribute the contemporary and any non-contemporary pieces throughout the room.
  6. Combine a contemporary item with a softer more feminine accessory!
  7. Experiment a bit and stay true to what feels good…usually your first gut reaction is right. There are no right or wrong decorating rules – just rules of thumb…it’s all about not being afraid to experiment and keeping it fun. If it feels good to you… it’s right!

Here’s a few photo’s I found over at Houzz with some thoughts to get you started… Good luck!    

Top a sleek contemporary table with beloved worn books and an antique teacup and saucer for a welcoming cozy touch


A bouquet of flowers and a delicate throw at the end of the bed is an easy way to add a feminine touch to your bedroom


Pardon me while I get distracted...would you EVER leave this room?


Want to keep it all contemporary? Adding abstract art with heart-shaped lips or lineal flowers is a great way to add a female touch


Select textures with a decidedly feminine feel such as satin or lace to soften the hard lines of a contemporary room


Good luck with your room and let us know how it turns out 🙂 xoxoxox Amy

Finding Inspiration at Butterfly World


Butterflies were abound at Butterfly World! Check out those


Recently, I spent an afternoon at Butterfly World in Florida and had such a great time. Not only did I learn lots of new things about plants, butterflies and birds, but I gathered a ton of inspiration along the way. What made the day even more special was I got to explore it with Loring and Grayson – it’s always a treat to see things through a child’s eyes!     

Here’s some photo’s of the day…enjoy!     

Loring (on the right) met a new friend who was kind enough to share a Butterfly that had landed on her.


Of course, Loring made sure to be a good sister and shared with her big brother Grayson as well.


Wouldn't the colors of the Chrysalis (butterfly sac) be a great source of inspiration for a color board? I'd love to spend time in a room adorned with these shades of blue and green.


Speaking of you think this bird is a Bengal's fan all dressed up in orange and gold? Speaking of which...what about that Chad Ochocinco in Dancing with the Stars?


Grayson made a couple of friends along the way...


Here's a pretty colorful fellow don't you think?


This reminds me how much I like statues tucked in special places throughout a garden. Did you know this one is of Loring?


Really, everybody...PAY ATTENTION...Loring explained that this is her. She loves this statue...of course who wouldn't love this statue... it's Loring...duh!


When's the last time you got this close to a hummingbird?


I loved the hanging baskets from various trees and think I'll try this at my house!


Another great idea is to grow a plant within a cluster of landscape rocks...isn't this cool?


Here's my favorite bean...I'd like a skinny vanilla latte please!


Did you know this is how a pineapple grows? Don't laugh... I didn't.


This is a Passion Flower, isn't it lovely?


I'd like this Pink Powder Puff flower and the purple one above enlarged and framed in a guest bedroom...wouldn't they be fabulous?


Besides the pictures of the kids, this is my favorite photo from the day. I used a secret technique to get the effect. AKA: I have no idea how I got it to look that way, but I do love it! haha


Lucky us...our fun-filled day ended in Palm Beach. Unfortunately, it was getting dark and my photo's of amazing manicured hedges and spectacular architectural details didn't turn out. Hmmmm....looks like I'm going to have to go back...maybe we'll have dinner at Taboo this time :).


I soooo enjoyed this day. Where will you find inspiration today?  xoxoxo Amy     

Embracing the Creative You

Discover the creative side of you. Photo by Steven Coen over at Flicker and on Getty's

Stop! Don’t tell me there isn’t a creative bone in your body, there is. All of us are creative. Yes, some people are naturally good at painting. Others seem to have a knack for writing or photography. There are those that can put anything together and make it look good and others who continue to amaze you by the beautiful things they create.

They are exceptional, but so are you. What “non” creative people don’t realize is that “creative” people nurture their inner creative self everyday. They wake up every morning and know to look for the unexpected. They actively look for beauty in unusual places and explore unknown avenues in search of inspiration.  

Beware: There will always be someone in your life that will try to stomp on your creativity. It may have been an art teacher like mine in 9th grade who said I wasn’t good enough to advance on to the upper art classes or a “friend” who laughed at something you created. I say that’s a bunch of BS! Don’t let someone else define you. You can do whatever you set your mind to. The truth is we all have a creative side, but sometimes in order to find it we need to embrace it and give it permission to grow.  

Here’s how…  

Explore  the Internet.  I am continually inspired by things that people dream up at sites like 100 layer cake or Apartment Therapy. Rather than watch TV in the evening, you can often find me exploring new sites, in particular blogs. There are so many interesting people out there blogging about everything from being a mom to remodeling their kitchen. Twitter is a great way to finding new people with like interests as well. Bookmark your favorites or better yet subscribe to it so you’ll get future updates. The internet is an endless source of great ideas.  

Over at 100 layer cake you'll find great inspiration boards and layers of inspiration!

Keep an Idea Journal. Keep a small journal with you at all times to write ideas that pop into your head at the craziest times. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll look back on it.  

I keep this journal in my purse to jot down ideas I get throughout the day!

Snap a Photo. Carry a camera and make a point of taking a photo of things that catch your eye. A photo is a great way to remember a detail or item that you want to reference in the future. Plus, you’ll find photography is just plain fun!  

I snapped this shot at Butterfly World to remind to blog about unique ways to display a basket of flowers....look for that post this spring!

Join a Class or Organization. You’ll find that there are lots of classes and workshops both on-line and in your community meant to inspire your creative self. Not only are these classes a great way to jump-start the creative you, they are lots of fun! This topic was actually inspired by a twitter I saw last night by mammaloves who joined The Artistic Mothers Art Group. It reminded me of the time that I took an Artist’s Way workshop several years ago…it changed my life for the better by renewing my creative juices that had become stagnant as an overwhelmed mother of 3. One creative online class that intrigues me is the unravelling class by Susanne Conway over at Ink on my Fingers. One of these days I going to sign up for her class.  

I think Susanne's unravelling class will be pretty special... I can't wait to sign up for the next class!

Make a Creativity Date. Make a point 2-4 times a month to get out of the house to do or go somewhere new. It could be going to an estate sale, a local art fair or even the ballet…the goal is to do something that is fun and ultimately inspiring. You can do it by yourself or with a friend…but take time to do this just for YOU. You deserve it.  

Whatever you decide to do, remember there is no right or wrong when it comes to creative ideas…take time to nourish the creative side of you and I guarantee you’ll be amazed! xoxoxo Amy  


UPDATE: Dehydrating Tomatoes and Onions

Simply Delicious. YUM!

You may remember that last week I blogged about dehydrating tomatoes and onions while working at the office. I promised you an update when finished. My friend Lisa over at PickMeYard suggested I add some olive oil and seasoning to my tomatoes and I decided to do the same to some onions…boy, am I glad I did!  

Once I got over my initial shock of how small everything had gotten, after 12 hours I took the now dried onions and tomatoes off the trays and sampled one…or two…or three. Oh my….while the tomatoes are soooooo good, the onions are double delicious. I would eat both of these by the handful as a healthy yummy snack and can’t wait to sprinkle them on a salad. I’m thinking they would be fabulous if crushed and used as a breading of sorts for chicken or fish. Oh… the possibilities that are swirling through my head….mmmmm  

The bottom line on the dehydrator is I can’t wait to try it more. I will always make two or three times more because of shrinkage and can’t wait to experiment. My husband’s favorite is the apples. Mine is the onions and tomatoes…which I should add is not really a normal favorite of mine. Let me know if you try it or if you have a favorite already! xoxoxo Amy

Quote of the Week: Creating Harmony

Decorating is like music. Harmony is what we constantly strive for. At home, we want a peaceful atmosphere where the objects are the notes and nothing is off-key.  ~Charlotte Moss

I am striving for Harmony, no doubt…I find as I clean out the spaces of my life; both at the office and within my home, there’s a peace that settles in and wraps itself around me. I’ve found this whole organizational thing is about just that… creating harmony so your soul can dance. 

That’s a bit much isn’t it? What I meant to say was cleaning out the crap in my life feels good. haha!

Organizing One Drawer at a Time…

Budget: Used $8.00 worth of these plastic bins from Wal-Mart


This week, I’ve been applying my 2010 organizational goals to the office as well as my home. My excuse for the office clutter has been…”I’m soooooo busy and besides…creative minds work better in clutter!”…Yep…pretty lame. The truth here is this…yes, while in the middle of a project, clutter is okay, but the reality is it’s impossible to start a new project with a messy space. Organizing your space not only feels good – but really does save time and money which I discovered when tackling this one drawer.  

My goal at the office is to take a break each day and organize one space such as a shelf or drawer. Sometimes I get carried away and do a few, but one small area a day is realistic. It doesn’t take much time, but it feels sooooooo good to have just one more thing organized every day.  

Today, I am tackling the drawer that I get into most often. I have this amazing island at the office with tons of drawers and a huge work space that we use to create new products just for you…the drawer I’m tackling is pretty big – 29″ x 39″ – how lucky am I to have that drawer?  

The problem is it currently looks like this…  

Consider yourself my friend...I wouldn't admit this drawer to just anybody!


Required tools…  

Don't be a pack rat...pitch it or give it away if you don't use it


These bins come in packs of 2 or 3 for a buck a set. I used 8 sets for a total of $8.00.


So how long do you think it will take? I’m hoping for ten minutes, but I will say fifteen…back in a flash… it’s 12.22 pm…
Okay…so it took 25 minutes…but it was SO TOTALLY WORTH IT!
Remember me saying you would save time and money? I looked all over the other day for hanging file clear tabs and couldn’t find them. I actually have had them on my list of things to purchase at Office Max, but not anymore….

I must have spent 10 minutes the other day searching for these to no avail!


I also had a glue stick on my list of things-to-buy because the one on my desk was dried up…  

Found this in the drawer - moist and ready to use!


But the best part about the whole thing is my drawer now looks like this….  

Is this not the most beautiful office supply drawer you've ever seen? I think so!


Totally worth the 25 minutes it took don’t you think? xoxoxo Amy  

Look what’s Cooking while I’m at the Office; Dehydrating Tomatoes and Onions

Tomatoes and Onions with a bit of Olive Oil and Seasoning


While in Florida a few weeks ago, I visited new blogger and good friend – Lisa of PickMeYard. Her home smelled soooooo yummy as she dehydrated dozens of fresh strawberries picked from her truly amazing garden. 

I had never used a dehydrator and because I am a sponge for new ideas – was excited to learn more from Lisa. I discover I could purchase a basic model at Wal-Mart for $39.00 or for a small price increase one that features a temperature control for $58.54 . 

Last night I experimented drying banana’s, strawberries and apples – they turned out delicious. It’s so easy…all you have to do is slice up your fruits of choice and place on trays. Note: I did soak my apples for 5 minutes in orange juice to prevent them from turning brown. Twelve hours later…done! Actually it was all delicious at 3 hours, 6 hours, 9 hours – not as crisp, but warm and chewy.  Now that I think about it, we were lucky to have any left after 12 hours – haha! 

I'm going to have to make a secret stash...they're not going to last long around here

Time to secretly stash some of these...they aren't going to last long around this house


This morning, before heading out to the office I sliced up some fresh tomatoes and onions, spread them on the trays, brushed with Olive Oil and topped with a bit of my husbands favorite seasoning. They will be a nice add to dinner tonight! I’ll let you know how they turned out. 

I really like my new dehydrator…it provides a great (and easy) way to make a healthy crunchy snack. Plus, don’t you hate it when there’s fruit in the house that only has a day or two of life before going bad? I know I do… with the dehydrator I can make sure none of it goes to waste. What a great way to make a healthy snack for both kids and adults. 

This weekend the guys are going to try making some Jerkey. xoxox Amy

St. Patricks Day Cup Cakes

Don't they say a dog's mouth is cleaner than yours?

I love St. Patrick’s Day, not because of the green beer and “kiss me I’m Irish”…but because it’s my mom’s birthday – Happy Birthday Mom xoxox!  We had lunch on Wednesday and I gave her these cupcakes to take with her on her trip to Maryland to see my brother’s family. They turned out delicious! I used a store-bought cake mix and mixed up some homemade butter cream icing which turned out better than last time when I accidently melted the butter. Oooops!

As you can see…we almost lost one. Shhhh…don’t tell! I wonder who got that one – 🙂

A New Seating Area

There’s an empty, as in unfurnished, room attached to our living room that has been driving me crazy. I’ve always envisioned a seating area in the center of the room for conversation, cocktails and games. When you are a designer by trade – you know exactly what your house COULD look like, but sometimes silly little things like children’s college expenses continue to get in the way, and while they are still “in the way”, last week I found a great set of chairs at Homegoods that begged me to take them home. How could I say no?

Above is a sneak preview of the chairs I found for $129.99 ea. Last night I tracked down two more at another Homegoods a bit further away – I’ll pick those up tonight. I’m on the hunt now for an inexpensive low round table and my new seating area will be good to go. 

In December I hung draperies in both rooms, which made a HUGE difference, but the room was still void of furniture.  I can’t wait to show you the final look and will dig up a before photo of the room from the previous owner and post all as soon as I get everything in place and have a chance to mop – haha! The dogs have been wet and muddy all week. Dolce, who just turned one year old, is back to digging to China again now that it’s getting warmer outside – arghhh.  Pssst…did I tell you how excited I am about my seating area? xoxox Amy

Are you a Hooker?

A pretty and practical way to store robes and more!


I’m a hooker, she’s a hooker, don’t you wanna be a hooker too? Captain Hook watchout…A friend of mine has me hooked on hooks…big hooks, little hooks, square hooks, rounded hooks – if it’s a hook, chances are I want it. Check out these great uses of hooks at home. They are such a simple and inexpensive detail, but provide a simple solution to store everything from wash cloths for guest to utensils for cooking. Enough talk…check it out!    

The long bar on this island is actually a door pull with S hooks. To the right is a triangle towel holder attached with adhesive in which an S hook is added to hold the tabbed towel.


Here's a hook (Container Store) with a clip on a shelf above a stove to hold a recipe.


Not only do these storage cups from IKEA hang from a hook with utensils over a stove, but additional items are hung from the rim of the cups.


A simple cup hook on the side of a wood cabinet stores the keys used to open the double deadbolt out of sight and out of reach of the door glass panes.



A caddy with hooks for silverware sits beautifully on a countertop for quick access.


Oversized plastic S hooks (that fit over the shower rod) from the Container Store are a great way to hang wet towels after showering or to provide clean towels for guests.


A double drapery rod in a bathroom(Restoration Hardware) can hang draperies and the secondary rod can be used to hang towels, robes, and more and still have the secondary drapery. I think this an amazing way to add storage for small spaces. The rod was hung wider than the window to accomodate the towels and robes.


I love these tabbed wash cloths from IKEA. Suspended from a hook over a wired basket shelf - the colored tabs proved a smart way for kids and guests to identify which one is theirs.


This French metal basket is hung in a corner above a bar counter looking into a kitchen. Not only does it look fabulous, but it stores wine corks from previously enjoyed wine for future uses .


 Are you hooked? xoxox Amy    

Add Glam to a Chandelier


Where does the time go? I know I haven’t posted much in the last week, but I am busy as a bee in Florida on business and have been gathering lots of inspirational ideas to share with you-Yay! I’ll be posting ideas all next week, but here’s a sneak preview… I can’t wait to show you all the cool things I found!  

Do you wish your chandelier was a bit more glamorous, but replacing it isn’t in the budget? Here’s a great way to add instant glam with a budget of $10-15.00. This inexpensive idea will take you 5-10 minutes from beginning to end.  

All you’ll need is a garland of shimmering beads or berries! Most craft stores offer packaged garland – I purchased the beads below from the bridal section of Michael’s Craft Store for less than $10.00 each.  


The garland below is strung with silver wire that extends to 6 feet long  which is  the perfect length to wrap around almost any  chandelier. The beads are strung with wire and available in assorted finishes including silver, bronze and white. The key is to select a wire that is closest in color to the finish of your chandelier so the wire “disappears” when draped.   


Simply remove the garland from the package, loop in and out around the arms of your chandelier and fluff, fluff, fluff. Fluffing consists of simply separating the beads so the garland becomes three-dimensional. Once done fluffing, sit back and enjoy! I promise you’ll be coming back to peek at it constantly. The beads are gorgeous as sunlight reflects off of them throughout the day and equally so at night as they splash your walls; reflecting the light of the chandelier. Below are a few photos of chandeliers with added Garland…   

This Chandelier already had some crystals, but a single strand of garland added big time glam. It hangs over a kitchen sink - how cool is that?


Grape-like beads are beautiful with this chandelier and tin ceiling. It's hung above a square bistro table that seats 8.


Close up of Garland


Shimmering berries and leaves add interest and a bit of shimmer to an entryway


The wrapped wire blends with the finish of the chandelier


 Add some glam to your chandelier and let us know how it turns out! xoxox Amy