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

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!

 

Taking stock mid-Christmas and Q&A!

It’s been a minute! I swear to myself every year that I am going to get myself so well organized come Christmas that I am totally stress free, sipping tea under my tree and reading a book. And the fact that I haven’t been able to do that not even once feels like a failure. I had a few clients ask me to decorate their houses for Christmas and that turned into a lot more work than I anticipated plus actual design and staging work – I have been swamped!

We had some snow and that made the holiday decorations outside look extra magical.

 

I was happy with the way our planters turned out. It has a thick base layer of Noble fir, then some faux berries and red branches in the center. I also pinned lights in the center so it kind of glows from the center. I did this before Thanksgiving and while the kids protested, I think I might do that early next year too.

I am still not done inside but hopefully this weekend!

I’ve gotten couple of emails about holiday decor and I’ll share them here as some of you may be thinking about the same things.

Q: I don’t enjoy holiday decorating but my family wants me to it. What is the bare minimum I can do?

A: I was surprised how many people felt like that, I’ve been asked this several times this year. First, what do you not like? If its the time rush – then do it earlier. If its the cost: invest into a nice garland for your mantel, I like Frontgate and Balsam Hill. Its not cheap, I know, but it will last forever. If you just don’t enjoy anything about this, think where your decor can have maximum impact and decorate that area. Put a glass or silver bowl filled with ornaments on the table, light some candles, and buy some evergreens and put them into a ceramic vase. I love the smell and it will insantly feel like Christmas. It also helps to plan out what you are going to do in advance which leads me to my next q.

Q: Why do you do a theme each year? I just pull the bins out and put everything out and I am done.

A: I like decorating and doing something different each year but I do find it helpful to plan it out so that tthe decor looks cohesive. My house used to look like Christmas threw up there but I just didn’t love it, it felt cluttered and so busy, I couldnt wait to take it down. And you don’t need some massive theme, it gets expensive and is a lot of work. What I mean by a theme is think of what you like, what colors your like and what feeling you’d like to evoke. Do you like more natural looking Christmas? Then do pinecones, fresh greenery, warm white lights. Perhaps classic red and green is more you or all white? Having some kind of a plan definitely makes decorating easier. Not everything has to match, as a matter of fact I keep the fun tree in the kitchen but keep other rooms quiter.

Q: Is it tacky to use fake greenery? And are they bad for the environment?

A: I love fresh greens, the smell is heavenly but they dry out so fast inside and cleaning is a mess. It’s also really expensive. Fake works better and is definitely easier to decorate (hatte putting lights on real trees!). I mix fake and real, outside the real holds up really well and it looks great. Fake is not bad for the environment IF you buy a good one and use it for many many years. If you use all fake, I would definitely bring in some cyclamen or amaryllis or paperwhites that’s real.

Quick Thanksgiving Hacks!

So here I am, in bed with a nasty cold, I look like Rudolph and my head feels like exploding! Makes it awfully hard to get Thanksgiving done! I am sure I am not the only one sick, feeling poorly or just plain exhausted. Let me share some tips that ought to make for an easier holiday!

  1. Hopefully you cooked a big stew or pot of soup yesterday or today so you have something to eat while prepping for Thankgiving. If not, do takeout, dont spend your energy throwing together a taco night. If you need a quick and healthy recipe, here’s a great one.
  2. Make a list early of what you need. I printed out every recipe I use for Thanksgiving, I never change my menu for main holidays, and I have it in a binder with a shopping list. So rather than go looking for my recipes, I know exactly where they are and what I’ll need. All in a nice binder titled Thanksgiving!

    Case and point this is pic from what we ate in Thankgiving 2013, its still the same! #ifitaintbroken

  3. Shop early. As most turkeys, organic, kosher etc, are frozen, they’ll need several days in the fridge to thaw. Also buy something yummy for breakfast so the day will special instead of making pancakes.
  4. Don’t forget flowers. Buy one color and lots of it, it will look chic and beautiful. Mums are inexpensive, seasonal and last forever. Few unscented candle votives and half of your table is set!

    I made these beauties for a client. 3 small bouqets in the center of a long table, low enough that people can see eachother across the table.

  5. Figure out what you really want to make from scratch. If you make an amazing dessert, make it. If not, buy one. There are some great pre-made salads out there. Make cranberry sauce ahead, ditto for stuffing, just take it out an hour before it needs to go to over so it can warm up. You can buy turkey gravy in nicer grocery stores. If I am hosting, I will ask guests what is their special dish for Thanksgiving and ask them to make that. Or have them bring wine, something that would work well with turkey. Anything acidic works, we prefer Pinot Noirs.
  6. Lay out the serving dishes and place a note in everyone specifying what its used for. This case, whoever is helping you will know what goes where. Make sure you have serving utensils to go with each platter.
  7. Do not worry about appetizers. People don’t need to nibble 24/7. Nice, low alcohol content cocktail to greet everyone, however, is a very nice tough. Prosecco with cranberry or pomegranate juice would be great or autumnal sangria like this one.
  8. When the table is set, turkey and stuffing in the oven, go shower and change. Dont leave it on the last minute. Go earlier, get ready and resume the festivities!

 

Happy Thanksgiving and I hope noone else gets sick!!!

xoxo

-h

Monday Musings

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend and are ready for this cold weather that’s to come. Here’s what’s been happening around here.

  1. My little sister works for Ali Express, a huge Chinese conglomerate, she manages the vacation and travel to Scandinavia and the Baltic States. She’ll always tell me that November is her busiest month because of 11/11. Have you ever heard of it? According to Madison Avenue Spy its Chinese version of an anti-Valentines day. “The shopping-focused day first started in 1993, by a group of Chinese college students, to celebrate the state of being single. The date November 11 (or 11/11) was chosen because of the ones– obviously. Elevens, according to numerology, is a “master number” which signifies intuition, insight, and enlightenment.”
  2. Hubs and I planted 350 bulbs – daffodils and tulips – in flower beds over the past weekend. I covered the beds where the tulip bulbs went to with netting to keep squirrels away and secured it with xxx. If you can’t do that and don’t have a dog who can keep the critters at bay, plant daffodils. Here’s an excellent article on how to naturalize bulbs. Image result for tulips
  3. Healthy and quick weeknight stew of sorts, this isn’t really a proper recipe, feel free to play with it.

Chicken or turkey sausage or ground (I used sweet italian turkey sausage links)

Chorizo – I find ground chicken to be somewhat tasteless unless heavily seasoned, so I added 1 link of chorizo, a cured Spanish pork sausage, for flavor. Most grocery stores carry it. I freeze what I am not using.

1 cup of quinoa

Corn – fresh or frozen

Vegetables – literally anything except cucumbers, empty your vegetable drawer out.

Fresh spinach or kale, you can also use thinly sliced cabbage

 

I saute some onion and garlic in my Dutch oven, then brown the chorizo and ground chicken, add 2 cups of chicken broth and quinoa and let that cook till quinoa is done, about 20 min. If using raw carrots or cabbage, add that at the same time. 10 min before done, add other vegetables, I used frozen corn from Trader Joe’s, spinach and lots of cubed zucchini. Season but taste first, chorizo is often spicy.

 

Monday Musings

Good morning and happy Monday! One week left till summer break also known as the time when my grocery budget skyrockets as kids will need snacks like thousand times a day!!!

1.Speaking of food: made the Mediterranean Grilled Steak Flatbreads for dinner on Sunday and we all loved it, kids even tried red onion and thought it went well with steak. I used skirt steak and instead of a spice rub which I knew would repel the kids, I used this marinade here. You must measure out the marinade exactly, I’ve used this recipe before and once used half a lime on it and steak has a really sour taste to it. I also threw some olives on the plate and thought feta cheese wasn’t needed. I used regular Stop&shop naan bread (the brand was Stonefire), the Trader Joe’s garlic one had twice the calories! It’s a heart healthy dish in that it uses hummus and veggies, you could use chicken  or fish also. Find the recipe here at Domesticate Me!

2.This week the weather has been up and down, over the weekend while kids were at Girl Scout camp I did some gardening but then had to retreat indoors and attempted to organize my Christmas section. The plan was to get to other holidays also but that didnt happen. I felt quite overwhelmed. Pardon the super bright lights. This is the Christmas section, part of it is behind the wall and there’s some stuff in the attic. I lost count how many bins I have, at one point they were properly labeled as White, Red, Candy, Birds, Picks etc. Now there are at least 3 or 4 that just contain picks. Sigh. Please note the newest addition – this darling Nutcracker, a gift from a friend from the Wilton Garden Club. So now I have her hostas and her Nutcracker! Cannot wait to put this bad boy out – to boot he holds a sign that says Welcome. 🙂

Over here I had my hubs install a bunch of hooks for garlands and wreaths. You can see about 1/3 of the wall. The box against the wall are outside garlands. I don’t even know what to do with all that. Obviously need to edit and donate some stuff. And must NOT BUY ANY MORE GARLANDS. It is just SO hard not to. You need to have enough garland for the fireplace and staircase. Then you need options: colored lights, white lights, flocked garland, magnolia garland. I dunno. I have the I have OCD – obsessive christmas disorder – shirt which I thought really applied till I read that it offends people who have actual OCD. I feel like I ought to wear that though.

3.Read this interesting article on how women worldwide are losing money because they agreed to become beauty salesreps. I am sure we all know someone. I really hate to be asked to go to these parties and never go.

‘They have you in a cultish grip’: the women losing thousands to online beauty schemes

4.Do you grow peonies? I love them (I know so original) and have waited for decades, ok, a few years, till they finally bloomed. Did you know if you transplant them, they wont bloom that year? It took forever to get them going but they were worth the wait. Zephirine Drouhin rose also didnt bloom the first year but look at her now!

I hope you had a relaxing weekend! Let me know what your gardens look like!

xo

-h

What to wear to a casual BBQ.

Hi there, hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend and are enjoying this 3 day weekend! My hubs is heading into ACL surgery Tuesday morning so we packed in all the last minute planting – I need him to dig holes in our heavy clay soil and bring over loads of topsoil and compost. I am so relieved we are finally done! We also managed not one but 3 BBQ’s this weekend!

Here’s what not to wear: too much jewelry, wide sleeves, nothing that’s too fragile like silk or chiffon etc. I mean you are liable to get ketchup on it or play frisbee, you have to be able to get around comfortably.

This combo of nautical stripes and blue jeans is evergreen. I don’t love necklace – it seems little too dressy and will complete with the neckline, earrings would be much better.

 

This makes me want to go find hot pink jean sorts!

Another classic, casual maxi dress and denim jacket.

White shorts and chambray top. I could live in this all summer.

Blue Oxford and White Shorts

Another version.

I wish i can put this style everyday....very comfyyy and light!!

Cute summer dresses are always a no brainer.

Sea Sounds Dress

Check out this adorable mama at a food fair in Estonia last year. I am sure when my kids were babies I didn’t get out looking this chic!


Monday Musings

Good morning! What a thunder we had last night, I thought we were going to get hit by lighting, felt like it was directly above us.

We had a busy week with my sister visiting. I am always so happy for my girls when family comes over, they really enjoy that time.

Us in front of the Rock Center skating area – did those dudes on the right think we were photographing them?

Trip to Sugar Factory.

Sugar Factory was fun – they have several locations and serve massive goblets full of gummy worms and soda with liquid nitrogen, I couldn’t really drink this but girls loved it. Candy is nothing special and it’s really pricey but they loved the whole experience.

2. Decoraid listed 10 best new paint shades for 2019 and I am in love with the clay. I love paint colors that add patina and age to homes. I know white and gray is all the rage but it gets unbelievably boring. I know it’s a safe bet but its like going to a cocktail party where every woman wears a black cocktail dress.

clay interior wall paint colors

3. Lastly, if you know of anyone or if you need some advice on redesigning your home or staging it prior to listing it, HDS Designs is running a promotion which will save you $100 off a regular consultation price.

-h

House of the Week – Greenwich

Apparently that’s where the bargains are to be had – in Greenwich, CT! Long the enclave of the rich and famous, it is suffering from the general real estate malaise but also many younger families are not interested in buying these huge estates in the backwoods with 10 acres of land to maintain. This house actually made some headlines as it is heading to an action, unheard of for these tony neighborhoods. Owners are real estate investors who located to Florida for better taxes and just want to offload this property. Let’s have a look!

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT: 4 beds, 4.5 baths, 5142 sq ft and 2.51 acres, originally listed for $3,795,000 it is currently for sale for $1,800,000 which is also the auction price. Taxes are $22,856.

This house needs a stager. So so freaking bad, I can’t stand it. Let’s look at the front:

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

It’s a beautiful house but you can’t see it, can you? Remove some of these overgrown trees and prune the rest!!! You should be able to see out from windows.

Entry is beautiful, I would remove/replace that bamboo table there.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

Very nice living room but needs to be cleaned out. The owners are Iranian which explains these photos but you really ought to depersonalize the property before listing. More bamboo.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

Paint, just paint and remove the couch and that bamboo table.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

Dining room – did I say paint? And remove the bamboo?

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

Kitchen is little tricky but nothing crazy. Cabinets look very dated but in good condition. I would paint the cabinets, add some glass doors and change the countertops to something lighter. If there’s money left over, I’d change the shape of the island as well.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

I can’t with this bamboo but I suppose it’s at least consistent. I’d take out the top wood doors on that row of cabinets and make them glass and add lighting inside. Remove that dinky little cabinet on the right.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

Love this room, the stone and the sconces.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

Plenty of closets but that nightmare wallpaper treatment is terribly distracting.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

One of the bedrooms.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

Other 2 bedrooms look pretty small.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

The back of the house is really nice.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

Love the pergola and I think that’s a fireplace to the right of it? Nope, nevermind that’s where the pool equipment is at.

282 Round Hill Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831

More details and auction process description here.