Monday Musings

Hope you all had a relaxing weekend! We had a ton of rain which somehow found a way to our basement – hate spending money on fixing things! Need to get new skylights too and ugh, that’s expensive also. Snuggled in by the fire and watched the Night at the Museum with the kids on Sunday.

  1. Passion fruit – have you ever used it? I love passion fruit, especially in truffles! I remember seeing Nigella Lawson’s pavlova with passion fruit and it looked good but also really green and gooey, not entirely appetizing. I saw some for sale at the Stop&Shop $1.50 each. They look like large plums. I crumbled up some merengue cookies, mixed it with whipped cream and cut the passion fruit in half and scooped it out. They smell and taste fruity and tart.

2. Grammys! It’s usually what not to wear for me, seriously who are these stylists? Is it like a 3 drink minimum job?

Here are some I liked though.

Image result for grammy arrivals"

 

Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani

Jameela Jamil arrives at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center, in Los Angeles62nd Annual Grammy Awards - Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 26 Jan 2020

3. Organizing, decluttering and staging for clients: increasingly the work I do as a stager involves massive decluttering. As baby boomers are getting older and down sizing, there’s a crop of companies coming up solely dedicated to help them downsize and declutter. Families no longer necessarily live close to us or they are busy with their own lives, and it’s daunting, not to mention physically exhausting to go through all your belongings. What to sell, what to keep, what to toss – decades worth of accumulations and memories to shift through is no small task. Please encourage your parents to start doing that now. There are wonderful thrift stores that donate their profits to local charities, auction houses that can sell things for you etc.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/downsizing-your-home-is-hard-how-to-decide-whats-worth-keeping-11579705258

4. Baby shower – I attended a wonderful baby shower in Gray Barns in Norwalk, CT. My baby shower was at a friend’s house, lovely but casual. The last few I have been to have been really formal affairs with catering, full bar, decorations etc. I mean they are nicer that some weddings I’ve been to! There was a pretty personalized menu waiting on the table, loved the food, lots of crafts for us to do.

How adorable is that cake?

Menu – the burrate was delicious!

The grandma to be and I were dressed alike (I was underdressed which doesn’t happen often) and she looked better! And obviosuly her hair looked better too. 🙂

We all got a super cute umbrella as a going away gift. It even had a personalized tag on it thanking us for coming. So cute!!!

Most Popular Interiors in Fairfield County

Whether you are looking to remodel or to sell your home, this post will showcase what is in amongst buyers and builders in Fairfield County, CT. Here’s a round up of most popular looks in interior design in our area.

Bathroom renovations by HDS Design

KITCHENS

-the two-tone kitchens are a major trend in 2020 taking over from previous year’s all white kitchens. Most often it’s the island that gets painted in a contrastic color to create instant visual interest.

-using natural wood as an accent adds warmth and texture. I also love a butcher block island countertop for especially white kitchens as it breaks up the monotone color and looks so inviting plus it is so practical!

-metal windows and doors in black, black accessories and black and white color combos work with the ever popular modern farmhouse trend and are a classic pairing which will stand the test of time. It looks clean and fresh and modern.

 

Peach's Point - Marblehead, MABuilder Model | Copper Ridge| New Braunfels, Texas

 

all photos are from Houzz

 

BATHROOMS

  • brass is back! Combine it with black cabinets for extra drama! And yes, you can mix metals but if in a small space like bathrooms I would use no more that 3 colors. The bath on the right has all white walls and cabinets, crystal chandelier with brass, black sconces and mirrors with brass hardware – it’s all blended in.

  • modern farmhouse is still very trendy but I would be so careful with it, if you live in a  nice colonial in New Canaan, I am not sure farmhouse is your vibe. It’s all the rage now with every store offering something to that but in few years it will look tired and dated.

all photos are from Houzz

LIVING SPACES

  • color contrast, personally so happy to see that! High gloss contractic trim, darker cabinets or wallpapering the backs of shelves adds depth and interest.

  • serene master suites – keep it airy and restful in lighter tones.

all photos are from Houzz

Monday Musings

It is sort of cruel to have 66 degree weather in January as it makes you feel like spring is around the corner but next week it will be back in high 20s, low 30s. Le sigh. I am ready for spring on January 1. I hope you all made it through this week on the wake of news that apparently shocked the world – 33 year old man in England is moving out of his family’s home and stops taking alimony. Am I an only one who could care less??? I am so sick of seeing all these headlines of news about royals. Why do we care???

1.I came across this interesting but sad article on loss of fashion related jobs. This woman was a very successful modeling agent, knew everyone, went everywhere, had a sparkling career and now lives with her parents, works as a sales associate at J Crew, making minimum wage with few if any benefits.

Digital technology, shopping from home and the demand for “see now buy now” fashion has dramatically changed the industry. Magazines are closing, so are the large department stores. There’s less need for models, modeling agents, editors, printing offices, stylists, photographers etc. Do you still read actual magazines? I do, but have shifted to more home design ones and less fashion, I just couldn’t relate. Who can afford $4000 coat or get all these spa treatments for thousands of dollars. Or why would anyone want to wear this outfit from pre-fall collection of Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini.

or this?

This image may contain Coat Clothing Apparel Transportation Vehicle Car Automobile Wheel Machine and Motorcycle

 

2. The cold weather also puts me in the mood for baking and cooking. I made these delicious English muffins over the weekend and they were all gone in a flash! It’s not a complicated recipe but it is time consuming. You mix the batter, put it in the warm place to rise for 1.5 hrs, then mix in 2 tsp of salt diluted in 3 tbs of warm water and then let it rise again for 1.5 hrs. You’ll need English muffin rings available here. I recommend buying 2, these rings are good for cooking eggs or baking individual cakes also.

Disregard the recipe that comes with the box and use this recipe here by Kevin Lee Jacobs. Dont try to baking these, I did and they ended up too chewy without any of the nooks and crannies a good English Muffin has. You can make these in a pan, I used an electric griddle. You basically fry these up, couple of minutes on each side. My only regret was not doubling the recipe as I think these will freeze well.

3. While I am doing some cleaning up in the garden in these warm temps and pondering Sunday night menu, my Pinterest fashion boards are seeing lot of traffic. I love fashion but am always cold so I pretty much wear Uggs and leggings and lots of sweaters. Have 2 of these J Crew sherpa pullovers in constant rotation. 30% off with a code BUNDLEMEUP

j.crew: snap collar sherpa sweatshirt in polartec® fleece, right side, view zoomed

Here are the most pinned outfits for January from my Pinterest boards.

Red Carpet Watch: Reese Witherspoon - NYTimes.com

So many people pinned this outfit. Renee always looks cute.

casual outfit for chic moms (id change the belt size though and the bag)

This outfit is probably one of the most popular ones ever.

Jason Wu RF14 0948

All black but in different textures, love this one so much.

Shop for Mackage Adali Coat with Asiatic Raccoon Fur Trim in Red at REVOLVE. Free 2-3 day shipping and returns, 30 day price match guarantee.

I keep thinking I should get a puffer coat in something other than black. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who loved this Mackage coat which has now sold out.

Gigi Hadid in Blue Jeggings - Denimology

All you really need is a good coat to pull your look together. Love this.

 

Best products for organizing your kitchen!

Hi there, it’s January which means all the largesse of December is over and we are all exercising and organizing. I miss December. I know a lot of us have less than ideal kitchens, so I wanted to share some tips on how to make your kitchen more funtional. Some of these projects take no time to implement, others require more effort but I tell you, getting your kitchen organized will make your day to day life SO much easier. If you don’t know where to start, open your cabinets and look at everything. Are things grouped in a way that makes sense? Are pots and pans stored near the stove? Coffee mugs close to the coffee machine and sink? Is bread stored close to the toaster? Organize first and then start thinking how can I store these items better? Hope these ideas help!

Our kitchen is large but built in 1978, it is definitely a challenge to work with at times. It’s large and has a lot of counter space but there are almost no drawers and cabinets are cavernous. The previous owners put in a marble countertops and white subway backsplash which makes it look better but it isn’t very functional.

Property

Here’s what I used to organize my kitchen. The very first issue I had was that there was a trash compactor which I had no desire to grapple with. I had my handyman remove the compactor and build a simple pullout base with a door and ordered these Rev-A-Shelf pull out containers.

These trash can inserts come in every color and are really handy.

Then I moved the paper towels off the counters and mounted the paper towel holder under the cabinets so it’s out of sight but right next to the sink. You can also mount it directly onto the bottom of the upper cabinets. I’ve used this holder in 2 of my homes and really like it.

I have a lot of space under the sink and I decided that I could that space to store my root vegetables and onions. I divided it into half, one for the pull out sliding container for veggies and the other half for cleaning products.

I’m using Container Store Elfa Medium Mesh Easy-Glider which you can find here. If you are storing shallots, garlic etc in there you must get a mesh container otherwise it’ll be a hot mess. Installing it is pretty easy, just a few screws and you are in business. I really recommend getting the one that you attach to the bottom of the cabinet otherwise it will shift EVERY time you pull it out.

&

These Rev-A-Shelf 2-tier pull out containers are great for  storing and organizing cleaning supplies, pots and pans, bowls etc. Measure – measure – measure! These come in several sizes and can be attached to the bottom, back or the side of the cabinet.

I added a towel rack onto the left door as there’s plenty of clearance for that.

These little door storage trays are so useful, if you have space those can go on any cabinet door for spices, bottles, condiments etc. Im using these for storing most used cleaning supplies and brushes.

Also love this pot organizer for storing your pots and pans with their lids.

Cutting board storage

All my tea bags were corralled into this handy container:

Coffee is decanted into this container, it’s airtight, comes with a scoop and is narrow enough that it fits right next to my tea caddy:

I like to use tall narrow containers to maximize the space I have for storing flour, sugar, grains etc. If your shelves aren’t very deep, maybe a more square and wider container would be a better fit. I like these plus they come with chalkboard labels already!

Now for organizing things like nuts and chocolate chips I use smaller containers that are stackable such as these.

The Lazy Susan turntable may be the unsung hero of all organized kitchens! I have several in my corner cabinets, upper shelves, and in the fridge also! Once again, measure several times, these come in different sizes, so you just need to make sure it will fit your space.

I use this one in the fridge

 

And last but not least: sponge caddy! I love that i can stick it into the sink so it’s not visible.

I hope you found some of these recommendations helpful. Let me know if you have any questions or have found some other profucts not mentioned here that were useful!

Till the next time!

x

-h

My Favorite Picks From CB2 Winter Sale!

I was browsing Crate and Barrel and CB2 sale section and came across these finds. Ilove these picks and I hope you do too! There’s outdoor and indoor furniture steals and deals plus some cute accessories!

I am obsessed with this outdoor coffee table!!! I spent forever looking for something like this and every table I liked was way too expensive. We have dark grey wicker furniture which I love but it looks really traditional. My style is more “new traditional” or transitional – I like to mix old with new, traditional with modern, so I didn’t want a wicker table. I couldn’t find what I wanted, so we bought light grey wood table.

I couldn’t find what I wanted, so we bought light grey wood table. But this CB2 option is on sale for $349 and looks fantastic!

Element Coffee Table - Image 1 of 12

 

If you read my post on new trends in interior design in 2020 (and beyond) you already know that the warm woods are coming back. Grey isn’t going anywhere but there’s more of a mix of textures and colors. This entryway/ foyer console is beyond chic.

Stack Hi-Gloss Wood Console Table - Image 3 of 8

This is listed as a wall storage shelf but I think it would be great as a bedside table in a small room! Steal at $135.

Slice White Wall Mounted Storage Shelf - Image 1 of 5

This wool rug is gorgeous and suits almost any decor. It’s selling out fast though!

Grid Grey Hand Loomed Rug - Image 1 of 8

This light blue dinnerware is making me think of spring! So pretty and so well priced. Always buy an extra set or two in case you break something and need a replacement.

Level Light Blue Dinnerware - Image 1 of 10

Lucite – can you have too much? It only comes in brass finish though, would prefer chrome for bathrooms.

Cubo Brushed Brass Towel Bars - Image 1 of 10

Monday Musings

Happy New Year! Hope it’s amazing for all of us, it would definitely be more amazing if Australia would stop burning, those wildfires are out of control and seeing those pictures of all those charred animals is more than I can take.

1. I am massively sore from going skiing today, I am not super athletic and downhill skiing definitely doesn’t come naturally. I have Reynauds so being out in the cold is not what comes naturally to me! I’d rather stay on the couch and bake something. My instructor kept pointing out that it’s all in the hips and said he takes salsa classes!!! It’s like tennis in a way, turn your shoulder and stay sideways at turns. I felt middle aged, especially when some little kids went whizzing past.

Image result for ski bunny

That is NOT how I looked. Not sure anyone actually skiing looks like that though some moms did show up at 8 am with full makeup, more power to them.

2. Few photos from our NYE party: it was a small gathering with few friends and kids, we had fun though and actually stayed up till midnight for the first time with the girls.

I decided to do a graphic, inexpensive centerpiece for the buffet table. I found this branch outside, spray painted it white and hung a few ornaments on it. I used faux snow as a runner and used some gold pots to elevate old white shelves covered with  drawer liners.

Im sorry these photos are not great, I was not done on time! I liked the centerpiece but must warn you to go around and make sure the branches wont hit anyone’s cornea.

Dessert table with various cookies, some delicious cakes, creme anglaise with berries and mini cheesecakes.

Bar area.

My girlies.

3. Next day, all tired and let’s face it, slightly hungover, we put away the holiday decorations. It takes me usually weeks to decorate our house so to get most of it put away   in a day was kind of amazing but exhausting.

Stuff to be taken to the attic. I need a shed, a she-shed, a holiday shed.

4. Baked these cinnamon raisin studded rolls. Next up macaroons!

If you haven’t baked with yeast before, don’t worry, it really easy and it’s a great recipe for kids, my girls love playing with it. This is a great recipe.

Ultimate Simple Dough Recipe that you can use for ANYTHING! It's foolproof!

 

Popular Interior Design Trends In High End Homes

I work as a stager and interior designer and in addition to seeing my clients homes I also toured close to 12 holiday homes in Fairfield County in the last month. Some homes were amazing, some were instantly forgettable but there were 4 different trends that I thought I’d share with you.

Modern Farmhouse: oh the modern farmhouse trend courtesy of the adorable Chip and Joanna Gaines. It’s definitely the number one trend amongst my clients who see it as homey, light filled, and livable, not too contemporary, not too traditional. The trouble with this trend is that while its looks inviting, it may really not be your style and shiplap, leather, metal etc may not translate into your house. You can’t just do one room in it, you have to apply it to your whole house for a cohesive look. BLESS THIS MESS sign is cute for a like a month, but after awhile it gets old.

Jeffrey Dungan Farmhouse Kitchen

A farmhouse-inspired kitchen by Jeffrey Dungan.

One of my pet peeves is definitely the lack of practicality and functionality. This room looks stunning, no question about that. But who is going to clean and organize those open shelves? These must be kept immaculate for that to look good. Also, imagine having breakfast by that table: coffee cups, granola, eggs, bacon, newspaper – cant fit any of that in there.

Realtor.com listing in Wilton, Connecticut

Barndoors – I’ve seen it everywhere and they don’t really block sounds or odor so I am not quite sure what the purpose is. Cheaper than a pocket door installation for sure but not very practical.

But the modern farmhouse trend is still going strong, it seems safe like wearing a black cocktail dress to a party. Every store has a farmhouse style options so it’s certainly very available and popular. I personally am ready to see it go.

Modern Luxury look: clean Euro style with luxurious touches, basically Restoration Hardware. It appeals for the same reason as farmhouse style – you can go by the whole room from them, except it’s not the black cocktail dress, it’s a gray cashmere one!

image

Elle Decor

Light gray on walls everywhere, while lot of designers are tired of it and ready to move on, general public still loves it. It looks more fresh than other colors and makes your home look new-ish.

I actually like this trend as I am into neutrals with different textures and oh the chandeliers, I also like the blank canvas this gives you. Several homeowners on the Holiday House Tour both in Ridgefield and New Canaan had used this as a starting point, then punched it up with using wallpaper, usually monochramatic grasscloth or vinyl (so much more practical if you have kids/pets). The light beige or gray wallpaper was often used with dark colored trim and bookshelves to provide some contrast. In butler’s pantries the trim and shelving was always done in high gloss. There was one home that stuck with gray, white and lot of light colored wood and then used bright Hermes orange as an accent color and had a massive stone dining room table in dark color surrounded by bright orange velvet chairs – wish I had a photo, it was striking.

Minimalistic modern: visited 2 homes done in that style, not hardware visible, kitchen is one white blank wall, furniture has soft edges and art and lighting are the only things that pop.

@Pinterest

I don’t get this style, it looks like you are trying ever so hard and I cannot imagine this being comfortable. One room had this colossal floor lamp that arched throughout the whole room, the other home had a sculpture of a horse corpse… If this is your style, don’t force it into a traditional colonial with traditional millwork, it doesnt work. This style to me always said: Look I have lots and lots of money and am super artsy (but no taste).

Maximalism: as people are getting tired of all gray interiors, more color is coming in, bold high gloss blue/orange/green. There’s more personal items being used, vintage or collected, earth colors are coming back, strong prints in wallpaper, especially in powder rooms, upholstered walls to add more warmth and texture – I love it all. And there was one home that used all these ideas and had done it so perfectly that my friend and I ooh’d and aah’d from room to room. It was traditional with a twist, “I don’t care, this is what we like” and probably the only home I will really remember.

It was filled with antiques and warm colors, collections and art, but it didnt feel old, however. Reminded me of Ralph Lauren Home.

Step Inside Ralph Lauren's House in New York | Architectural Digest

Ralph Lauren Interiors Ideas 23

50 Best Ralph Lauren Interiors Design - ideacoration.co

Habitually Chic® » Ralph Lauren 50th Anniversary

2020 goals!

I gave up on resolutions a long time ago. I either wanted more patience or had a long list comprising of steady standbys such as get super healthy, take over the world. have a storybook family, etc etc. Set myself up for a bit of failure right there. I didnt think much of goals for this year until a friend emailed for some suggestions as her resolution was better hair in 2020. I like this goal. More attainable than mine anyhow!!!!

So, wait, I want better hair also. I will try out Ali Andrea’s recommendations here, and will let you know how I do. Every hairstylist recommends Biotin, a few models I knew swore on Viviscal which I tried but wasnt sure whether it helped or not, maybe I didnt take it long enough. Ali is a super beautiful makeup artist (not to the Kardashians, more so to normal women who do age). WHO can help me with that eyeliner move? I always end up looking like a rained out extra from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. 🙁 This video was so great:

More time for me. I have the time, I just always fill it with either organizing, cleaning, or waisting it on Internet. What a black hole Pinterest is!!!! I keep buying books and then not read them. Perhaps its more of a time management and priorities rearrangement thing then.

More time with family but quality over quantity. What I enjoyed most over the holidays was cooking with my daughters. I made my husband go and see a play at the Westport Playhouse and while the play was so so, we both enjoyed doing something different.

I am going to try to paint. I am not artistic or crafty, well, not in the traditional sense. I love to set tables, decorate for holidays, design interiors but I absolutely can’t paint. Even decorating Christmas cookies is a challenge.

My friend Tina Duncan is quite safe from my competition as she won again the Wilton Library’s annual gingerbread competition!

I got this as a Christmas gift, I mean even I should be able to do paint by numbers, right? Right? Looks intimidating but I’ll give it a try.

All About Austin

 

I want to get back to cooking. I used to enjoy it, used to have a whole blog basically built around it but then I had my second child and there was no time. I still cook 2 meals, one for my daughters to eat around 5:30-6 and the second one for my husband and I around 8:15-8:30 because that’s when he gets home and at the very least he should get a warm meal. Sometimes we eat the same stuff but my youngest especially is so picky, I have lost the enjoyment I got from cooking. I found this cook book and I love the recipes and the author’s take on cooking. Very much my speed. Samin Nosrat is a James Beard award winning chef and truly covers all the bases. Like what Joy of Cooking was, with fewer recipes, but oh so good. If you like Ina, you’ll like her. If you know very little about cooking, this is your book.

 

There you are, probably the most boring goals ever but that’s what they are. I am stirring the caponata right now, snuggled with girls for a good while and read a gardening book so I am crushing it. LOL. What are your goals?

x

-h