Friday, May 27, 2016

Designs on Summer

The Perfect Lemonade

3 to 4 cups cold water (to dilute)
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
1 cup sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
1. Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.
2. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.
3. Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.


We don't get much personal mail anymore, so why not look for some postcards next time you take a vacation? 
Take your address book with you, and mail them from your favorite spot (even if it is just an hour away).Everyone loves to get a picture and a note in the mail. 
Even send one to yourself, and pop it on the fridge to remind you of a wonderful time!

I was coming home late one night last Summer, and I was shocked to see Casablanca playing on the side of an old family farmhouse.
What a wonderful idea!
I wanted to go and sit with them, but thought it might have been a bit cheeky considering I didn't even know them.
Movies at the beach are popular in the Summer, and our 
local High School plays movies on the side of their building.
 are even a few drive-in movie theaters still around, or you could even get your own projector and plan an outside movie night at home! 

Memorial Day is the official beginning of Summer,
and while I sit here patiently waiting for the music
of the ice cream truck, I am reminded that the holiday
is actually about the veterans, their family
and friends, and those who lost their lives while protecting our country.
Hopefully, we will all think of them more than once
a year, and while we can never understand what
they go through, we will always be grateful, and remember to say thank you as much as we can.

This week, I wanted to put together simple bits and pieces that were inspired by the warm, sunny weather we have been having. 
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!
p.s. click on the pictures for more info and links.                               


Whether it is for your family, or a special date, why not pack a picnic, and drive to a scenic spot? 

Yes, it seems like a lot of preparation initially, but think of it as a full day out -creating a memory...
Many places will even do it for you.
 Bridgeton House, a luxurious bed and breakfast in Pennsylvania, not only provides the picnic, but also the perfect location.
(I am adding them to my bucket list).


Somehow, food outside seems to taste better, and make less mess (or maybe it's just as much, but we don't seem to mind?).
Crumbs get swept to the floor, and leftovers get given to the dog, or flung over the fence.
We use less pans, so we don't have to 
schlep them outside, and our kitchen stays relatively clean in the process.
What's not to like?

Visit a Water Park, or find a local park, lake, beach or faulty fire hydrant...
Take 5....
..... sunny things to do
  • Lie on the grass, and look at the clouds.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Go fishing or kayaking.
  • Find a Fair, any Fair.
  • Chase an ice cream truck.

(No) Paper Plates 

Sounds crazy, but it is much easier to use the dishes that you already have in your cabinet.
Firstly, they are always available, so you never have to run out at the last minute, second, they are sturdier than paper and plastic, and thirdly (is thirdly even a word?) they cost you nothing because you already have them.


Google your towns name, then look for things that are happening during the Summer. Baseball games, Pie contests, Car shows, Music festivals, Antique fairs, Garden exhibits, Talks at the library, Book signings etc.
Even if it isn't your favorite thing, go anyway, you may still enjoy it (and it's not far to drive :-)
p.s. click on the pie to see what is happening in New Jersey this month.
BTW, can you guess which country has the most beach huts?  (click on the picture to find out)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Six Things to Throw Away Now

We are a culture of excess, and while I can't explain my obsession with vintage silverware (does anyone else sit and lovingly clean their silver on a Saturday night?) I have no hesitation throwing out that last piece of Tupperware that has no lid.

Being attached to our stuff seems to be part of our DNA, and while some pieces harmlessly serve to feed our soul, others just zap our energy by taking up unnecessary time and space.

As I push back at the influx of technology (slightly disturbed that my television is now smarter than I am) I have found that there are some things that we will always need, and some that we just have to get rid of. Here are six things that all of us should throw away right now.

That pile of old cables, routers, chargers and remotes that you are keeping just in case.  Let's be honest, your old equipment is not coming back, and your neighbor is probably not going to be drilling a hole and snaking the coaxial cable down through a hole in your ceiling anytime soon.

Vases, dishes, pots and pans that you have never used. Will you ever turn into Martha Stewart and spend days arranging flowers and cooking beef bourguignon? If not, keep your most beloved, but donate the rest, or make food in the pots and fill the vases with flowers to give to your friends as gifts.

Reusable Shopping Bags. How many do you really need? Five at the most? True story - for some reason, a person (who I won't name) gave someone in my family a reusable shopping bag that was covered in advertising from a funeral parlor. Some are simply not worth keeping, and others should never have been made in the first place.

Fancy soaps, body lotions, scrubbies and matching toiletry sets that you got as gifts or stole from a hotel over five years ago. I love this stuff, but some people don't, and it can go off quite quickly, which is such a waste. Either pop the soaps in your undie drawer, or, if the toiletries are in nice, new condition, donate to a local organization that will appreciate them.

Chairs and sofas that are uncomfortable, or damaged. Whatever the reason, frightening guests, or making it impossible for them to stand back up after a cup of tea isn't a good idea. Fix it, or send it to the curb.

Pens that don't work, pencils that you will never, ever sharpen, and promotional pens, notepads and post-its from your local bank.  Why do they do this? Do they really think it makes up for the hours we waste on the phone, and teller number seven who was absent on the day they taught them how to smile?

I was going to mention plastic containers without their lid, but it kind of goes without saying, and, as I am never planning on getting rid of my lovely old silverware, you are more than welcome to keep your mismatched pieces of Tupperware :-)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Designers are Weird

My very first design conference had me almost in tears with the amount of talent that could fill a room, but from the moment I sat down all I could think about was the light that wasn't working above Kim's head. The one that matched the one on the other side. The one that wasn't working. The neglected one that sat in darkness.

For goodness sake, we were at a design conference, and a part of the room was in shade. The room felt uneven, and I found myself wondering if I could slip out and run to the nearest hardware store to fix it. I wanted to listen, but my eyes couldn't help travelling to the sad, empty space at the left of the screen.

As she talked, I wondered if I was going insane, and I was mad at myself for feeling so persnickety over something so trivial. When she came to a close, Kim thanked everyone, gave a laugh, and asked, "Is anyone else as distracted as I am by the broken light behind me?". Relief washed over me, as I knew I wasn't alone in my madness. She would become one of my most endeared friends, but my first memory will always be of bonding over the broken light bulb.

When I was little, I thought we all saw the world the same way, but we don't, and designer's are no exception. There are some that must have everything match; the blue in the drapes must match the color on the wall, and the accent in the vase, and then there are others who go by the color wheel, always wanting everything to be the opposite, and insisting that orange does go with blue whether you like it or not. Some just want to make a bold impression, and others daydream of nothing but soft, baby neutrals.

A designer friend might casually make over your bookshelf in the middle of a conversation, and another will quickly turn your toilet paper the other way around when you can't see them (didn't you know that it should come from the top, not the bottom?). We are weird, and our minds work in strange ways.
There are designer's who won't go near a flea market, and will bring white gloves to every appointment (just in case) and others who lives for the excitement of a weekend, with a pocket full of crumpled cash and a rolling, rickety shopping cart.

To match, or not to match, brings out strong opinions, yet for someone who frets endlessly about a broken light bulb, I almost break out in hives if I am presented with a living room full of identical table lamps. I agree that it makes no sense, and I need, love and adore symmetry, but exact, repetitious matching kind of disturbs me in a way that I can't explain. That being said, I do honestly appreciate a beautiful room, and I know that an extravagant balance of coordination is a skill assigned to the talented few.

You see, the thing is, whether we live for serene white walls and minimal looks, or jump with joy at the mere mention of adding even more layers to a crowded room, we are all so different ......... just wanting the same thing.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Small Closet Organizing

Even though it is cold and rainy outside, I am optimistically determined to get my clothes ready for Spring.

With a closet that is smaller than most American refrigerator's, I have to be organized; my mom will tell you that it is the excessive amount of clothes that just makes my closet appear to be smaller than it is, but I am sure she is wrong, and have convinced myself that if it looks neat then I obviously don't have a problem.

Anyway, with Spring here, I wanted to share some easy ways to get you and your small closet ready for any new season.

  • It seems obvious, but take out everything that you probably won't be wearing for the next three months (eg. heavy sweaters in the Summer and string bikinis in the Winter).  Store these in airtight boxes, under your bed, another room in your home, or in the least accessible part of your closet (if you need them, you will know where they are, but they won't be taking up important real estate).
  • Do the same thing with your dresser drawers, coat closet and shoes, making sure to clean and repair shoes, coats and string bikinis before you store them away. (By the way, I still haven't got my favorite pair of boots repaired, so I spent all Winter trying to avoid puddles and changing out of wet socks). 
  • While you're at it, check for items that are worn, don't fit, or you just don't like any more; throw out anything that is damaged beyond repair, and donate the rest.
  • Place the clothes you love and plan to wear the most, in the most convenient spot of your closet (usually right in front of you, at eye level). The fancy and rarely worn items should fan out to the left and right, according to how often you reach for them (it is silly to be pushing aside your ball gown every week to reach for your denim jacket)  
  • Swap around your coats and shoes too; if it is Spring, make sure your light jackets and sandals are front and center, easy to get to, then plan out the rest according to when you think you might need them. (If your boots will be retired until Winter, then tuck them away in a corner underneath your wool coat). 
  • If you want to really go the extra, buy huggable hangers - these will double your small space, and the consistent color and style will make everything look a hundred times more neat
  • A hook or two, on the inside of your door, is handy for storing belts, scarves, necklaces, tomorrow's outfit etc.  
  • It seems a bit contrary, but if you can, try to leave the floor or shelf of your closet empty - some empty space creates the illusion of calm (and makes you feel impeccable organized ..... even if you're not).