Holiday Home Tour of 2020 and a video link

Covid seemed to either make people really enthusiastic about decorating or make them too depressed and exhausted to even think of it. I am always of the thought that you must carry on the best you can and while we can’t control what’s going on with this pandemic, we can control (and decorate) our environment. And think how sad it would be to sort of cancel Christmas. No-no-no-no! The way we celebrate holidays and traditions that we carry on make us feel safe and secure even when the world is topsy turvy. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it and as long as it feels authentic to you and your family.

On to the holiday tour, all photos by talented Katie Kinsley Photography https://www.katiekinsleyphotography.com

 

Every year I swear I am done with live trees, putting on the lights take forever and they are so much harder to decorate than artificial trees but can’t beat real though. And while you decorate the artificial tree so much that the tree is barely visible, it really is just a canvas, with the real tree I actually want to see the branches and its shape. I just used a LOT of red ornaments in different sizes (4″ and 6″), gold glitter stars and red bows. Love it – so simple and classic.

Magnolia and pine garland around the fireplace and i added some gold leaf picks and gold glitter stars.

Trumeau mirror in the foyer.

I fa-la-la-la loved the family room mantel this year. It actually looks even better in person. The red ribbon brightens up the greenery even when not lit.

Breakfast room

Dining room has our fake tree and all the ornaments from our travels, friends and family, kids handprints, ornaments with puppy photos etc.

 

Watch a short holiday video of our home here!

Learn how to make perfect bows for your trees, garlands, planters and gifts.

Happy decorating!

 

xoxo

-haiku

Holiday Decorating with Wilton Woman’s Club

I inherited my decorating bug from my mother, our house was always decorated for holidays and she had a knack for coming up with really creative and beautiful ideas. I love the fantasy and fun of holiday decorating and transforming your home every year.

Here’s a link for the video for the Wilton Woman’s Club:

FOYER

Normally I use a seasonal floral arrangements here but came across these cool white and gray pumpkins at Stew Leonards and loved them. Few in the back are on acrylic risers to give the arrangement some height and dimension. If you do not have risers, use an empty glass vase turned upside down. Some greenery or white mums (deer ate mine ugh) and fairly lights completes it. Add some mice, crows or spiders for Halloween.

 

DINING ROOM

I love creating different tables capes and collect different types of placemats, napkins, china. While we are not entertaining in 2020 (thanks covid), it is fun to do this with your family, to set up a special dinner for them, to make a memory. We couldn’t go trick or treating with our friends or go to parties like we normally would but we sure can have a really fun dinner! Both my daughters have been enthusiastically coming up with menu ideas: Melanie wants to make deviled eggs as an app and Olivia found a pasta recipe with tomato sauce and meatballs that look like eyeballs! I can’t wait.

Centerpiece is made of magnolia branches, I believe Earth Garden in Wilton has them, protea flowers (use any dark blooms) and pheasant feathers (ordered these from Etsy). Little dark pumpkins, pomegranates from Stews/Stop&Shop.

Placemats are from Open House Gift Shop: www.openhousegiftshop.com.Chargers: Michaels; plates with gold trim not available but similar ones available at Kohl’s, Wayfair, etc.; napkins and Halloween crackers from William Sonoma, tortoise shell napkins rings vintage, check Ebay or Etsy or here, crystal glasses Ralph Lauren, tabletop gargoyles similar here, silver candleholders similar on sale here, spider rings here.

FALL GARLAND

Measure first, then purchase and buy more than you think you need no matter what size fireplace you have. This type of garland only works when you mass it together and don’t forget lights (gold, orange, yellow), floral wire, and common hooks (stronger the better).

Garlands: here, here and here, different color scheme but if you like black and white this is so cute, great price on this 2 pack here. Velvet pumpkins and gold pears and apples from Pottery Barn, individual picks, stems and bush pick from Michaels here. Pheasant feathers from Ebay.

CHRISTMAS GARLAND

If you do not want to decide/do a theme for your Christmas decor, I still suggest that you decide on a color scheme such as green and orange, or green and red, or maroon, gold and purple – endless options, and then use those colors throughout the house. Keep to the same style also, rustic Americana w logs and plaid doesn’t go with glam silver ornaments and shiny silver. Ornaments are really inexpensive these days and you use ribbon in your decor to add some color and texture. I prefer wired ribbon as it handles better.

I wanted to do something different this year so I decided on assembling an ornament garland. I ran out of ornaments pretty quickly, for something like this you want to use at least 400 ornaments (SHATTERPROOF) and get them in different sizes from 3″ to 6″. I tucked in some dark green ribbon to tone it down. There’s an excellent tutorial here: Sullivan Owen.

I think this is going to get removed to decorate the evergreens by the front door. But it was something different, girls loved it, I learned some new tricks and I do think it will look stunning outside. You will make mistakes, some things will break, and you will change things around. Sometimes the next day! Keep the scale and proportion in mind and decide well before Christmas what you are going to do and then buy what you need. This is not the type of thing to tackle a day after Thanksgiving, you will get discouraged and stressed out, Planning ahead makes all the difference! For some more inspiration, here’s a post on our holiday decor from last year: My Christmas Home Tour 2019.

Thank you WWC and Happy Holidays!

xo

-haiku

Easter baskets for tweens!

You may think it’s too early to worry about Easter baskets, but the rate Amazon ships these days, I couldn’t get some of the items I had my eye on.

There’s some fun candy out there!

Bunny Farts

Trolls Candy Canes

Popcornopolis multi-cone packet

M&M Easter eggs, 12 count

Hatchimals candy eggs filled with jelly beans and stickers

Girly gifts: my daughters and 8 and 10 and they are really into play makeup, bath products, lip balms etc.

Lip Smacker Party Pack set is great for filling eggs or simply stashing a variety into their baskets. You get 8 for $9.43

Da Bomb bathbombs come in a variety of colors with a little surprise in them. There’s a black one that supposedly really does dye the water black. Mostly very good reviews with several noting that these don’t leave the residue on the bath.

I think they would also love these cute Nightgowns with pockets.

And since we are in a quarantine situation with no clear end date in sight I focused on different craft ideas.

Leisure Arts has different diamond art set, there’s a huge variety but make sure you pick the beginner kits.

Tattoo pens

Stabilo fine liner pen set – these have such great reviews, even adults use these for drawing.

Scented fluffy slime with charms – need I say more?

Shimmer and Sparkle rock art – comes with rocks, gems, paint etc. I love the idea of them decorating these rocks and then us finding homes for them in flower beds outside.

Hope you got some ideas and can get your Easter basket prep done now!

x

-h

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.

 

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

Monday Musings – last one of 2019.

It’s actually Tuesday but who cares. Grab some coffee – it’s a long post!!! I meant to do a blog post on our Christmas dinner but  shockingly was very busy. Finally got the Christmas cards out! Im very lucky to have a talented photographer close by, if you live in Fairfield County, I highly recommend Katie Kinsley Photography. 

I had originally planned on doing a Norman Rockwell-esque photo but got voted down sadly.

 

Got these gifts for clients ready and delivered at the very last minute. I wanted to find something local and I knew my friend Tammy makes delicious preserves on her Ward Family farm here in Wilton, so these ended up as HDS Design company gifts.

One of my very sweet clients ended up bringing me a gift – a beautiful glass Simon Pearce snowman ornament, I was so touched!

I hosted my 5th Christmas Coffee – a little get together with my girlfriends before Santa comes. It was a little hectic but nothing like guests coming over to get your house decorated and sorted out fast. I thought I had the best shoes but got outdone by a very fashionable friend of mine.

 

My oldest daughter Olivia is obsessed with tigers, cheetahs, wolves etc. I had bid on a tiger print on an online auction and couldnt get to Bridgeport where the auction house was to pick it up for weeks. Luckily the lady was very accommodating and allowed me to come in later. We surveyed the warehouse, talked business and family and she ended up telling me how she has 2 sons, one of whom has severe autism and will never function as an independent adult, her 55 year old husband was just diagnosed with IBM, a form of ALS, where your muscles atrophy, she struggled to understand why this was happening to her and what to do with her business and her life. I hugged her, that’s all I could do. There’s no upside to autism or ALS, it will never get better. So all I had was a hug. While I am not a religious person, I prayed in the car that my life wouldn’t change. Not to get too preachy here but how good we all have it…

I love how in the midst of this horrible personal tragedy, she had still decorated this vehicle outside her warehouse.

My daughters wanted to learn how to make Estonian potato salad and honestly, that was probably my favorite part of the holidays. Gary, my husband, always wonders which masochist dreamt up this crazy salad where all ingredients are chopped up into even small cubes. LOL. It has potato, boiled carrots, eggs, baloney, cucumbers, dill pickles and canned peas in a mayo-sour cream dressing. Some people add apples and/or onion.

We always celebrate on Christmas Eve and had some folks over who had no other plans. One of them dubbed our meal a Teutonic feast (Estonia was occupied by Germany a few times, so there’s some culinary overlap): pork roast with crackling, potatoes, sauerkraut, potato salad, blood sausages, headcheese etc.

Girls made placecards with little wishes written on the card for that individual. 🙂


 

Gary carved the pork with Sailor keeping a close watch on him.

It’s the last day of 2019, good bye and thank you! Thank you for my really amazing friends, the old and new, thank you for my clients that allow me to do what I love for living, my family and our puppy, thank you for the lessons learned and memories made in 2019. Happy New Year!

My Christmas Home Tour 2019!

Welcome! I finally got it properly photographed thanks to amazingly talented Katie Kinsley Photography!

I am slightly obsessed with Christmas and holiday decorating and like to change it up a little each year. This year my daughters wanted me to repeat the Candyland theme from a few years back. I was too tired to get the big lollipops I made out from the attic but we made do. Hope you like it!

BREAKFAST ROOM AND KITCHEN

Breakfast room table: instead of gingerbread houses we made candy trees and the placemats are from Pier 1 a few years ago.

Kitchen island – this is actually kind of funny. It was my birthday and my husband told me to go buy myself something nice while he made the cake for me with our daughters. So I went to a consignment store and found this Chef Santa on a broken bike, brought him home, fixed the bike and voila! The candy disks all over the kitchen is home made, my family was thrilled last August when I sat them down to paint them. Thrilled, I tell you. LOL.

FAMILY ROOM

I tend to get tired of the visual overload that the candyland theme is so I kept the rest of the house more muted. I love how this mantel came out, kind of Victorian.


DINING ROOM

FOYER

LIVING ROOM

There’s no TV here, this is our reading and now piano playing room. We had an upright in the basement until girls were playing better (and least well enough to come upstairs!) so we caved in and got a baby grand. We always get a real tree, I love the smell which sadly dissipates in few days and I definitely do not love putting the lights on and cleaning up the needles. What about you guys? Real or fake?

Both girls got a slimline tree in their room also.

Launching HDS Holidays!

I am so excited to announce HDS Holidays – holiday decorating services that offer both peace of mind and glowing results. Our team can handle all aspects of interior and exterior decorating. Let go of the stress and the chore and hire HDS Holidays! The optimum window for holiday display installations is a small one so schedule your appointment soon. Please visit:

https://hdsdesigncompany.com/hds-holidays/

Stay tuned for an exciting announcement early next week!

Can you guess what it is? Here’s a hint…

Monday Musings

Good morning! First, I hope all of yours weekend looked like this:

 

Seriously, right? What could be better? My weekend was spent running around and delivering a bunch of boxwoods, 78 to be exact that I am planning to plant around my rose beds. I have to say buying them is SO much easier than planting. My hubs knee hasnt quite recovered fully from ACL surgery and boxwoods are small enough for me to handle but we are supposed to get 88 degrees this week. Ugh, I guess you’ll know what I’ll be doing in early mornings. Had to suppress my desire to buy more plants, it really pays to have a plan before buying but with all these sales going on, it’s hard to resist the temptation!

We went on a hike and visited a museum with the girls, followed by an ice cream stop. This place, Milkcraft in Fairfield, is ice cream store on steroids. So many flavors, everything is made to order using liquid nitrogen, and you can get a bubble cone which honestly tasted like pancake. I wouldnt mind having just that with coffee for breakfast! The ice cream was massive, they couldnt finish!


Made these for lunch along with a summer squash salad (sliced thin, red onion, toasted almonds and mint).

I got some nice sourdough bread, toasted it, drizzled some olive oil and rubbed the bread with garlic. Top has avocado with Habanero salt and lemon, then tomatoes with burrata and oregano and the bottom one is smoked salmon with capers and shallots. Delicious and quick!

 

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got some digging to do!

 

x

-haiku