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Monday, October 25, 2010

Paintings on Your Walls

The painting (oil on canvas) was $130.00 at HomeGoods " SCORE!"

Art is a very personal choice so when I scored a really funky painting at HomeGoods, I was a little apprehensive if my customer would feel the same. I am an artist and designer but selecting art for my customers in not a favorite part of my job. I hate matching paintings to a room, a painting should be purchased because your love it , it speaks to you, you can't leave it behind, you have no place to hang it but you still buy it. That's what art should do. It should speak to your soul. I love big art, paintings with drama. One painting that makes a statement is all you might need in a room. You may choose a soft landscape that helps you to dream, or an abstract that gets you thinking. OK in the back of my mind I may be thinking how this piece of art will fit in that room. How the colors will compliment the space, but I would never buy a painting that did not speak to me.I recently came across a interview from Williams Sonoma with designer Miles Redd on how to decorate with art and I think he has some valuable advice. So be brave and shop smart think out of the box. Check your local art colleges they often have a student sale. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts will be opening a new Alumni Gallery on Nov. 6th. Etsy is like a gold mine of art and often at unbelievable prices. There are lots of starving artist out there so go find them.

Miles Redd
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Infused with a strong sense of the past, but looking forward, with a certain kind of city glamour, fantasy, and happiness I hope!

Start early. Whether it's a small drawing in a bathroom, or a big painting in a living room, art allows you to transform a room that's banal into something interesting with one stroke of the paintbrush. If I had my druthers, I would start with art straight away when designing a space–it's my favorite thing to buy and shop for. At the very least, I have a conversation about artwork very initially with my clients.

Create contrast. What's fascinating about artwork is that even in a traditional interior, a modern painting can make it fresh. I love the juxtaposition. I like mixing old masters drawings next to contemporary pieces. You need to have a good mix and a deft hand combining them. People get so bogged down with paintings, paintings, paintings. But if you have a row of eight paintings, there's nothing for them to be compared to, and they lose some of their power. I love mixing mediums.

Go with your gut. There are certain people who collect American painters or Impressionists, and that's one way of collecting art, and though I'm not a dealer nor in the art world, I just focus on what I'm drawn to–and I'm drawn to a lot. I think the best collections are the ones where people buy what they love rather than trying to fit a room. Also, when people are too specific about what they want they never find it. I had a client who wanted a pair of Dutch master still lifes that incorporated shells and oysters, which was impossible to track down.

Color code. You should consider a palette when selecting artwork. You have to have the bigger feel of the room and the space in mind, but at the same time, a pale blue room with a shocking red painting in it can look unexpected, and make the cool blues feel infinitely more cool.

Shake it up. When mapping out where to hang art, I usually start by shuffling pieces around on the floor as I'm thinking about where I want them to go on the wall. If it's a big surface, you're probably going to need one big piece to anchor your tableau unless you're trying to make a minimalist statement. Some people like to hang things in pairs but I'm more asymmetrical. To me it takes on a more painterly effect. Always work with two people before you nail things into the walls–one person to look and another person to hold things up and move it all around.

Don't be afraid to lowball. People have a tendency to hang things too high. They put things at eye level, but if everything is at eye level you get a real horizontal feeling to a room. Feel free to mix things up. Remember that eye level when you're seated is way different than when you're standing up.

Try things on. You can learn a lot from going to the frame store–that's where you can experiment and get a much better sense of what needs what. It's like getting dressed; after trying on a bunch of different shoes, neckties, and jackets you develop an eye for what's attractive and you get more and more confident in your taste. Personally, I like old master drawings in gilt frames, and contemporary photographs in simple ebony frames with thick white mats.

Give it a rest. I'm also a great leaner when it comes to artwork–though it's not everyone's first choice, I like the casual, more throwaway feeling. It takes the stiffness away from a room. Start with the mantle if you're leaning; it just seems like the place where people don't mess things up, whereas on the floor it can look sloppy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Pumpkin Festival

I took a few pictures today. B.C. said re-set the table, oh yea , I had about 4,027 pieces on it.
The arrangement of leaves makes me happy each time I see it. I ran across the street to the woods and clipped a bunch of branches in about 5 min. Who needs a florist.
The kale was pretty dressed in gold.

Every year my dear neighbors and friends host THE ANNUAL PUMPKIN FESTIVAL. It's a progressive dinner with one rule - your dish must contain pumpkin. This is by far my favorite party, dinner, celebration,get together of the year. Believe me there are a few too. I think I lay in bed,starting after New Years, thinking how I will decorate my table for the next Pumpkin Festival. One year I used just white pumpkins, cutting them out like cream ware (so Martha) Another year I glittered bags of bones and had dry ice to make it spooky. I think we all dressed like witches that year. This year I used kale and cabbage in black baskets mixed with ornamental peppers. I gold leafed some pumpkins and sprayed the kale gold. Oh yea,I forgot to take pictures. I was so intent on lighting candles and making sure everything was perfect it slipped my mind. ( Maybe the pumpkin martini's at Linda's helped.) But I will share my entree recipe with you for Pumpkin Lasagna, It was delicious, and I will make it again. A special thanks to Linda with appetizers of pumpkin cheese sticks , pumpkin dip and best of all her cocktails. Carol with her unbelievable pumpkin soup and salad with pumpkin seeds. Mary who's pumpkin cake kept me off my diet today. Dotty and Noble- Dotty's husband who made pumpkin truffle while Dotty was working) It was a great night.


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 large zucchini, cubed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and spices, to taste
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded romano cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 pound cooked lasagna noodles


In a large heavy skillet, over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add sausage and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add zucchini and cook for 5 more minutes. Set aside.

In a medium pot combine tomato sauce and red wine and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste. If desired, add more spices to your liking. (I usually add dry oregano, basil, and parsley). Reduce heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl mixing together the ricotta, mozzarella and romano cheeses. Add eggs, pumpkin puree and salt and pepper, to taste. Mix very well. You might want to add more spices to the filling. (You can add a pinch of cinnamon and it gave it a different flavor.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Build your lasagna in a large (9 by 12-inch) baking dish starting with a layer of sauce, a layer of pasta, a layer of half the sausage and a layer of half the filling. Add another layer of pasta, sauce, the remaining sausage and the filling. Finish with a layer of pasta and a layer of sauce. Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

I did make home made noodles and they make all the difference. Just don't try and cut the recipe in half after Friday night cocktails.

Makes about 4 pounds

  • 2 cups '00' flour or all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 16 to 18 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Semolina flour, for dusting


  1. Place '00' or all-purpose flour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. In a large bowl, mix together yolks, milk, salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. With the mixer on low, slowly add egg mixture to flour; mix until well combined. Increase mixer speed to medium and knead until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to work surface and knead in remaining tablespoon oil. Cover dough with a damp kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours before rolling or store in an airtight container, refrigerated, up to 1 day.
  3. Dust work surface lightly with semolina flour.
  4. Divide pasta dough into 5 pieces and flatten each piece with the palm of your hand. Roll each piece of dough through a pasta machine, working from the largest setting to the smallest setting, and passing the dough through each setting twice. Using a sharp knife, cut pasta sheets into 13-inch-long pieces. Lay pasta sheets on prepared work surface, covered with a damp kitchen towel as you work.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare and ice-water bath. Generously salt ice-water bath and set aside. Add pasta to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, and immediately transfer to ice-water bath. Line a baking sheet with kitchen towels and transfer dough to baking sheet, layering kitchen towels between cooked pasta.

Read more at Homemade Lasagna Noodles - Martha Stewart Recipes

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Le Poeme Rug

Le <span class=
Le Poeme Indoor/Outdoor Rug

Item: RT102
Was $59.00 - $579.00
Now $38.00 - $428.00
The elegant poem rug design was created with words from famed 17th century French fabulist, Jean de La Fontaine. La Cigale et La Fourmi tells the story of an industrious ant, a carefree cricket and the end of summer. Inspired by the fables of Aesop, La Fontaine wrote volumes of simple poems using animals to teach real-life lessons. Hand hooked of washable, poly-acrylic pile that's soft underfoot, but durable enough for outdoor living. Sizes are approximate. Imported. Use of a Rug Pad is recommended.

I am in love with this rug, found it today in Ballard's catalog and its perfect for my client. The home is a very elegant Dutch colonial with a large formal foyer. We need to make it a bit fun for this owner. How perfect in black writing with a distressed dark blue round hall table from Old Biscayne. I think I could use one also, I love fables- so one for them and one for me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stripes are Comming

First lots of stripes in fashion, then lots of stripes in home decor. I am seeing stripes everywhere and I'm glad. They play well with floral, patterns, they can help coordinate colors between two rooms. They can add a touch of formality to a room or create sheer playfulness to a space. Vertical stripes will make a room feel taller, while horizontal stripes feel very contemporary.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Missing in Action

A few things that happened last week to start my engine's again.....
Above the sunset that got me thinking.

A meeting with Brad Ford a New York Designer and blogger of Design Therapy who is also the King of social networking. Not only is he a great person but his work is fabulous and so in tune with nature. Brad is listed as one of the top 10 designers to watch. Yes !!!! he was an inspiration this week.
Finally, I hung my drapes this week.The hardware is knobs from Anthropology with extenders from Pate Meadows. I am pleased with the results, well worth the wait.
Fabric is from Lee Jofa Mulberry collection, it's linen and I have craved it for at least 6 years. Perfect for a river house.
Put out Fall decorations in my own house. Still need a few more books and berries or leaves in this one.
Loving the entrance.

This is my Angle of the Pumpkin Patch.

OK, so I never wrote a blog last week, but it was a really, busy, busy time. I was feeling very sorry for myself until----- I walked outside one evening and caught a beautiful sunset. It put me in my place, made me think how lucky I was. I had no right to complain that business was good. How many people are out of work and would love to be busy. My job is also my passion, not all people make money doing what they love. Right there it was a new start for me. I felt energized and ready to start fresh, take on the next project with enthusiasm, give my business a shot of adrenalin. I am also finding time ( its there if you look) for my own house and projects. I think this is important to a balanced feeling in life. When my house looks bad I resent making other houses pretty. Not a good work ethic. All work and no play makes Michele a very boring person.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Meeting With Dwell Studios

All dwell fabric designs are edgy fresh and perfect for today's living.

The seminar was titled: Building a design brand in today's digital age.
The seminar was held at the Philadelphia Design Center.
Christiane Lemieux ( on the right) was helpful in explaining how important Facebook, Twitter, and writing a blog is to expanding your business and creating a niche in the market place.
I felt energized and ready to give a little more time ( not feeling guilty that I am wasting time) to my blog and Facebook. I think I will get a smart phone this week so I can twitter .
Founder and creative director of Dwell Studio Christiane Lemieux gave a great talk on the importance of social networking in the design world. She was friendly and informative giving us many ideas to jump start our business in today's changing market. A veteran in the design business, Christiane started Dwell in 1999 and now it is one of the most recognizable lines in the home industry. Associated with such names as Target, and now a line of textiles for Robert Allen.

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