Christmas Comes Early to Dana Court

 Christmas arrived a little early yesterday afternoon....

This is the new fall line of fabrics from Kasmir.  Seriously, I get so excited when my new books arrive.  The UPS man probably gets a little uncomfortable when I come running out the door to great him.  This box was pretty heavy and Doug wasn't home so I had to do the "pick up the box fast, get it into the house and push it across the floor with my feet trick." (Works every time)

I was a little disappointed to find so many "beach themed" fabrics in this shipment.  Doesn't make a whole lot of sense since I'm in Maryland and it is the end of September. 

However, I did find several fabrics that would work in many of my clients homes.  These are some of my favorites.

Ah yes, these are the simple pleasures in life that bring me happiness.  I hope you have a wonderful day!

Wanted: The Tooth Fairy

The tooth fairy forgot to show last night. Damn that little fairy...what is wrong with that little winged bitch?   Doesn't she know I'm going to pay the price at the bus stop when my daughter tells her friend she lost her tooth and the friend says, "What did the tooth fairy bring you?" and my daughter replies, "Nothing".

The friends face quickly turns to me with a look of utter disgust. No words were spoken, but I got the message loud and clear. If I ever catch that fairy, I am going to wring her little fairy neck.

Beach Treasure Jars

We are finally settling back into school and work after returning from vacation at the beach.  This time, we were in Ocean Isle Beach, NC.  This quiet little beach town 30 miles north of Myrtle Beach, SC is another one of our favorite summer getaways. 

Doug and I were able to sneak out most mornings for a run while the kiddos got some cuddle time with Gammy and Pappy.  It was during those runs that we found some of our beach treasures. 

We found some unusual things this year, but I haven't had a chance to get photos yet, so I thought I'd share some of our findings from last year.  There were tons of sand dollars scattered across the beach and we had a lot of fun collecting them.  OIB also has quite an assortment of unusual shells.

In these photos, we placed some sand, shells and sea glass in Mason Jars, the kids and I hot glued the sand dollars to the lids and tied a piece of raffia around the top.  We put tea candles inside the mason jars.  They look great on the deck at night.

We also made some driftwood bundles that I have placed around the house. 

I just hate letting go of summer and having these little reminders of summer spread throughout our home helps me get through the winter a little easier. 

What does your family do to remember your summer vacations?

Loving Southern Livings Lakeside Retreat

The long rock on this "rock island" is a diving board.
Photo Courtesy of Southern Living Magazine
I've always been a beach girl, however the latest issue of my FAVORITE magazine EVER.....SOUTHERN LIVING features the most spectacular Lakeside garden I've ever seen.

This place is a playground for big kids and little kids.

Truly, I don't normally get THIS excited about outdoor spaces, but this one keeps me up at night.  I love every inch of it. 

This table sits at the same level as the water
Photo Courtesy of Southern Living Magazine

LOVE LOVE LOVE the natural wine cooler created from water in the lake.
Photo Courtesy of Southern Living Magazine

Mr. Scott, if you ever read this....I promise Doug and I would bring some REALLY good bottles of wine to add to your table cooler if we could just come and play in your garden.

Inspired by the Island

The girls and I just returned from one of my favorite places on earth...Stone Harbor, NJ.  Our family has vacationed there every summer since I was a little girl and each time we come over the bridge and see the big blue water tower with STONE HARBOR written on the side, I feel like I've returned home.  Poor Doug was stuck at home with a big deadline so us girls had a little getaway.  (and boy did we have fun!) 

(No timeouts or yelling for 9 days!!!! Maybe junk food and ice cream on the beach had a little something to do with it.)

The island has changed quite a bit since I was little.  The streets used to be lined with little beach cottages with gravel yards.  Today is a completely different story, the houses are new and VERY BIG and I drool over the landscaping in the yards.  I've tried to take pictures and recreate the landscaping in our little Ellicott City yard, but I haven't been able to get there yet....ahh maybe one day...for now...I'll just dream....

(I want to know what is behind that gate covered by the trumpet vine! This path is just ASKING me to take a peek.)

This is the house owned by the Hoys....they are known for their huge 5 and 10 store on 96th street.  It is a kids dream world.  Filled with all kinds of beach trinkets, towels, jewelry and just about anything you can imagine.  I love the mandavilla vines they have on the top balcony. 

The man who owns this house builds his own bird houses out of natural materials he finds on the beach. I have counted 9 bird houses on his property, but I'm sure there are more....he has them tucked all over the yard.
                                                                 Another tempting gate...... 

and then there is Poseidon
The beach always gets under my skin and when the summer is over, I hang on to every last grain of sand in my sneakers.  So instead of letting it go, I searched for some beach inspired design items for my home.  Unfortunately, I won't be making any purchases in the near future....but one has to dream!
16 piece table in marine at Cottage and Bungalow

Adams Medium Wall Tricorn with Chimney at Cottage and Bungalow

Bodega Distressed White Driftwood Lamp at Cottage and Bungalow

Coral Orange Pillow at Cottage Coastal

Crab Claw Tote at Cottage Coastal

Easton Chair and Stool at Cottage and Bungalow

Metropolitan Pendant at Cottage and Bungalow

Navigators Desk in Ivory at Cottage and Bungalow

Navy Leaf Pillow at Cottage Coastal

Spiral Conch at Seaweed Designs

I hope you will be inspired by these beach inspired items and carry a little sun and sand into your homes.

Make This!!!

I don't normally post recipes, but I made this one from Southern Living Magazine and it is delicious and I felt like it should be shared. This is a must have topper for summer salad.  I poured it over a salad of fresh greens, carrots, broccoli, fresh peaches, raisins and feta cheese.  Since our oldest daughter, Madison is allergic to nuts, we didn't include them, but it would be great with walnuts, almonds or pine nuts.

1/2 Jar seedless blackberry preserves

1/4 c red wine vinegar
6 fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/2 teas salt
1/2 teas seasoned pepper
3/4 cup vegetable oil

In blender or food processor, combine blackberry preserves, red wine vinegar and next 4 ingredients. Slowly add vegetable oil while blender is on until smooth.

My favorite blogger

I have never met Layla Palmer of The Lettered Cottage, but I'm pretty sure if we met in person, we'd be great friends.  The only thing is, I'd never be able to live up to her creativity...this girl has IT and I mean IT.  She comes up with the coolest ideas.  One of my favorite posts is about decorating mantels...ughh, they can really be a challenge.  Not for Layla though...check out her summer mantel:

It is pretty funny because she has no idea who I am, but I am in LOVE with her blog and her work...I think I have a chick crush....check out her blog and you'll see what I mean.  If you dig a little, you'll see a great post she wrote about decorating mantels in the spring.  Here is a picture of her spring mantel:
Damn she is good!
There are several blogs I follow (when I actually have time to read them, but this one is by far my favorite, Layla always makes me smile and I really love her work).

No women is an island

...or man for that matter. The point is yes, you might be confident and capable, but no one can succeed without help. 

Last week I had an incredible opportunity to help on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition".  They asked me to coordinate the window treatments and soft coverings for the home. This was going to be the largest home "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" had ever built and there was no way I'd be able to tackle this job alone.  I immediately reached out to my local WCAA Baltimore Chapter members requesting volunteers.  12 of my friends quickly rose to the occasion. 

Kris Ozgar, Beth McFeely, Barb Smith, Me, Trish Albano, Margaret Blunt
(Wish we all could have been in this picture)
This morning the Baltimore Sun published an article about my involvement in "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition".  It was an honor to be recognized for my efforts, but I never would have been able to pull it off without my friends in WCAA.  Kris Ozgar, our chapter President, was my right hand person in this process.  Kris and I spent 9 hours with the designers the first day.  We spent the rest of the week coordinating with the designers and our team members to distribute fabric, pillows and other items for the home and we spent the last day installing window treatments in 100 degree heat.   Our group included Kris Ozgar, Margaret Blunt, Barbara Smith, Barb Morton, Carolyn Lawler, Beth McFeely, Trish Albano, Denise Owens, Denise Hooper, Pat Schneider, CJ Hunt (Pat and CJ drove from Delaware to help), and Pam Gough.  All of these talented ladies are local custom window treatment business owners and members of WCAA.

Alexander Blank Fabrics owner, Steve Richmond donated several thousand dollars worth of fabric and his workroom also helped with the fabrication of window treatments.  Alan Ibello, of Ibello Upholstery donated several custom made pillows and EmbroidMe of Westminster, MD embroidered some of our pillows at the very last minute.

And finally, my Mom, Julie Brown traveled from Harrisburg, PA last week to Baltimore to help Doug and I with the girls while I was working on the show.  She even helped me sew pillows together at night.  I feel very fortunate to have been part of the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" show, but more importantly, I'm grateful for the professional women that surround me every day, I wouldn't be able to do what I do without you.  Thank You! 
I have many more pictures to share with you, but I have to wait to show them until the show airs.  I've heard it should be some time in September.  Stay Tuned!

Extreme Heat, Extreme Rain, and Extreme Makeover!

I've been a little busy this last week working with the Extreme Makeover team helping Boys Hope Girls Hope here in Baltimore.  It has been a lot of fun, but I can't give you any details right now.  Thirteen of our local WCAA (Window Coverings Association of America) Baltimore chapter members signed up to help with drapes, pillows, bedding and cushions for this job and we have been sewing our hearts out this week.

The rain has delayed the project so if you know anyone who does trim carpentry or dry wall, please send them to 5830 Hillen Road in Baltimore.  Tell them LisaMarie from Extreme Makeover sent you and they will put you to work right away.

I can't wait to share more details with you......

Flowers from scrap fabric

I hate to throw away fabric.  I donate most of my scrap pieces of fabric to the local elementary school art department.  But this week, when my Robert Allen representive pulled a fabric book from my library and told me it was discontinued, I couldn't part with it.  (I know, it really is a sicknesss!)

Anway, I decided to pull the book apart and use the pieces for fabric flowers appliques.  I found a flower template on the internet and used my copier to enlarge the template and shrink the template.  I had the kids cut out the different sized paper templates and we transferred them to stock paper.  We cut the stock paper out and transferred those to the fabric.  Once the fabric was cut, we layered the petals and secured them together with a french knot in the center.  We decided to put them on pillows, but really you could use them for, bags, blankets, towels.  So many possibilities and such a fun project!

Creative Minds Are Rarely...

TIDY!!! Maybe that explains how this....

has turned into this...

Just a dose of real life folks!  I'm a little tired of seeing perfectly decorated rooms on blogs!  Yes, we may strive for order, but lets be realistic.  Isn't this how most of us with kids REALLY live?

What a great way to send a card

I love to get cards from people. However, I must admit I think they are a waste of money. When I receive a birthday card for example, I feel obligated to find a spot for it somewhere in the house. Often, it ends up on the mantel. But as soon as someone turns on the ceiling fan, all those damn cards go flying all over the family room and I have to pick them up and put them back on the mantel. (Even though I secretly want to throw them away I don't feel I've given them their due "display time".) So they sit there until I can't stand it anymore and either pitch them in the trash OR if someone has written something extra special, I have a box, in a closet where I store them. (Even though I never open the darn box and it is just collecting dust.) 

I recently received an invitation to Homecoming from my high school (seems like I was there decades
ago...well I guess it has been 20 years).  Anyway, the invitation came through email from a company called Paperless Post.  I'd never heard of it before, but when I opened the email, there was a picture of an envelope.  I clicked on the envelope and it opened like a card.  The card that appeared out of the envelope was just as nice as some of the fine stationary you can purchase.  This was the nicest card I've received through email so I made one for one of my recent clients.  You can check it out here: Sample Letter.  The company is still in beta stages, but I love this concept and I hope they are successful.

I still believe people like to receive hand written notes and what I love about Paperless Post is that the cards look so much like real stationary.  AND you don't have the guilt of throwing them away!  I'm sure there is controversy over the etiquette of email notes versus snail mail notes and I'm also sure that my family and friends who have taken time to pick out the perfect card for me over the years will have a thing or 2 to say about this subject.  Okay, let the comments begin.....

How to put a zipper in a pillow

For all you do-it-your-selfers out there....I was once just like you. Fortunately for me, there are thousands of helpful people around the world willing to share their knowledge.  My friends at the Window Coverings Association of America have become extended family and I'm so grateful to know them.  (Ok, I'll get off the teary-eyed soap box and get to the point)  Since they were so willing to share their secrets with me, I am passing them on to you.  And before you beat me to the punch, let me just say this.....I am sure there are MANY ways to put a zipper into a pillow, this is just one that I like to use.  If you have a better way, I'd love you to share it on this blog.  Happy sewing!
Begin with 2 pillow sides serged

Both sides are serged and cording is added on one side

Cut a pillow flap the length of the pillow and 1 3/4" wide.  Use a see through ruler to make it quick and easy.

This is the cut strip for my pillow flap.

Fold the strip in half and use your finger to press it down along the edge.

Cut the zipper the same length as the pillow.  Place folded edge of zipper flap about 1 1/4" above the zipper when sewing.

Zipper is 1 1/4" below pillow flap.  Using a zipper foot, sew as close to zipper as possible.

When you get to the end, there will be more zipper than flap. 

Pull the zipper apart about 1.5" above zipper flap.

Cut the flap side of the zipper off

Continue sewing to the end and cut off left side of zipper to be even with zippper flap.

Place zipper pull on long side first and then short side.  Holding both ends together, pull zipper up.  (This can be a little tricky hahhahaha)  Seriously, it takes a little getting used to this part as it feels like you could use an extra set of hands!

Fold over 3/4" seam allowance on NON-CORDED pillow.

Line up zipper flap with edge of pillow.  The pillow edge should be lined up with the stitching on the flap.

After lining up the edge of pillow with the stitching, start sewing as close to zipper as possible. 

About 1.5" from where you started stitching, take a few stitches across for zipper stops.

Continue sewing down length of pillow.

Before you get to the end take a few stitches back and forth again.

Here is 1 side of the pillow attached to the zipper flap.  (I got a little too far from the zipper on the far left side....yes, we ALL make mistakes)

Line up corded side of pillow with edge of pillow flap.

Flap and corded side are aligned.

Place zipper side on bottom and corded side on top.  Using a cording foot, stitch just inside the previos stitching line.  Here, I'm stitching just inside the blue thread.

Don't forget to open your zipper before you start stitching.

Stitch the entire way around your pillow.

Here is the finished pillow with the zipper and cording.