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Going Through The Motions – Is It Just Me?

the precious present book

I don’t know what it is about this holiday season, but I’m just not into it. I’m not unhappy necessarily, just not particularly over-joyed. I feel like everything I’ve been doing since Thanksgiving is just another box checked off my list.

This week, especially, feels off. I don’t know if it’s the super moon, media fatigue from the onslaught of idiotic behavior from the celebrity and political set or maybe it’s just the typical overwhelming feeling that comes with the holiday rush.

Whatever it is, I desperately want to have more festive focus throughout this wonderful time of year. I mean, what’s the point of decking the halls, dressing festively and attending fun holidays events if I’m not going to revel in it. Everything I’m doing, I want to be doing – I just need to check back in to the joy of it.

The Precious Present

Thankfully, as I dug through my Christmas decorations, I pulled out my holiday book collection. The first one I grabbed was The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson – one of my favorites.

My sister, Karla, included The Precious Present in her guest blog, Holiday Books – Good For the Soul, posted last year.

It is just the perfect short read (less than ten minutes) to help reengage in what’s important during the holiday season and life in general for that matter. Spoiler Alert! The precious present is not a physical present.

Having re-read The Precious Present I am reminded that merely going through the motions of life is as good as sitting on my couch and watching it through a television screen. Boring!

Hopefully this little kick in the pants will be just what I need to keep my holiday season feeling merry and bright.

How have you been feeling this holiday season? What helps you get in the spirit when something seems to be missing?


Decorating For Christmas – REPOST!


I posted this last year with only 10 days until Christmas. Here it is again this year with a little more time to think about your holiday decor for 2017.  Are you doing anything different with your decorations this year?

Let the Countdown Begin

Well, here we are with ten days left until Christmas and I’m just now blogging about holiday decorations. I had every intention to post this sooner, but if I’m being honest the finishing touches to my Christmas décor are happening today.

How did Christmas 2016 get so far away from us? I know I’m not alone because so many people I’ve spoken to are also feeling as frazzled as I am.

When normally my sunroom window sills would be full of festive Christmas cards, today I only have a few dozen. They are beginning to come in more steadily, but the delay seems to support my personal feeling that Christmas crept up on us more quickly than usual this year.

So, if you are like me and a little bit behind the eight ball, maybe you still have some decorating to do. When I’m decorating for Christmas I get a lot of inspiration from the homes and places I visit.  Here’s how I’m decorating this year.

Decoration Inspiration

I have always been a big fan of white lights on the Christmas tree. I just love the look of it. But recently I’ve also fallen in love with red and white lights together. Last year, when I first tried the red and white combo I decided to try a themed Christmas tree too. We went for a rustic red and white theme.  As much as I loved it and still do, I missed all the other ornaments that didn’t fit the theme. I couldn’t bear keeping them in a box, so last year I tacked all of them onto a bulletin board.  This year, time was limited so I took the easy way out and placed all of my sweet and sentimental ornaments in a big bowl – so easy, so fun and so full of memories.

Here is my fun bowl of ornaments and a couple of other Christmas decorations that always make a statement.

Bowl of Christmas ornaments, musical snow globe, candy cane hurricane filler
Top: The ornament bowl. Bottom left: One of my ultimate favorites – musical snow globe. Sits center stage on the mantel. Bottom right: Candy cane hurricane filler – Yes, I had to unwrap each of those individually – Worth it!


When it Comes to Decorating for Christmas, Less is More

Something that I learned when photographing homes for publication is that certain, special things can and should stand alone. Often when decorating for Christmas, we have a tendency to go with the more is more philosophy. A minimalist at heart; I have come to truly appreciate the less is more approach, especially at the holidays.

If I have a home accent or holiday decoration that is sentimental or special in some way, I make it the focus. This is the case with this beautiful Simon Pearce glass Christmas tree that Tony fell in love with on a trip up to Vermont last year. This exquisite example of craftsmanship sits simply in our entry way atop a platform that illuminates taking the tree’s beauty to another level. It makes me happy every time I walk by it.

Simon Pearce glass Christmas tree
I love the way this Simon Pearce glass Christmas tree lights up the hall.


Winter Whites

Another trend I like and have incorporated into our traditional holiday trimmings is winter whites. With all of the wonderful colors Christmas decorations bring to our homes, it’s nice to find a place where neutral, but festive, décor can allow the eyes to rest a bit before moving on to the next bold and beautiful thing.

Joy Snowbird table decoration, gingerbread house, white nativity
Winter white!


My joyful snowbird display has become one of my new favorite Christmas decorations along with the white nativity that has been in my family for generations. Originally my Noni’s, the wooden manger was hand built by my grandfather. I even decorated an all-white gingerbread house this year to add to the theme.

Old Meets New

When it comes to decorating for Christmas I love holding up all of my family’s traditions as well as introducing some new looks and styles that may become traditions for my children in the future.

Have you tried anything new when decorating for Christmas this year? What are your favorite ways to dress up your home for the holidays?

Paint Your Pet at Painting with a Twist

Paint Your Pet Oscar

I’m a pretty artsy type – my favorite subject in school was art. My creative side exists just under the surface and most recently manifests itself through my writing. But I’ve always loved drawing, painting, pottery and crafts too.

So, it’s strange to me that I had never attended a painting party where inactive creatives, like me, can get a dose of artistic expression in a fun, unintimidating setting.

This was the case until November 8th when I gathered a group of fellow pet lovers and took over North Andover’s premier painting studio, Painting with a Twist. I first discovered Painting with a Twist at an art event held in their fabulous studio space at 10 High Street. I love their location tucked into the growing High Street Mill area. The rustic brick and exposed venting along with the colorful studio décor create such a cool vibe.

At the art event I had the pleasure of meeting studio owner, Dee Dellovo. Dee is a sweetheart and in no time we agreed that a collaboration was in order. Paint Your Paint was a no-brainer. I was so thrilled with my first experience, I can’t wait to go back for one of their regularly scheduled events. There are a variety of scenes to paint – a family night would be great. I’d love to see the varied interpretations we’d each come up with from our blank canvases.

Paint Your Pet

As for our pets, as artsy as I think I am, I could never produce a version of Oscar to do him justice. So, for Paint Your Pet, you submit a photo of your furry friend and the team of artists at Painting with a Twist sketch your pet in advance.


Paint Your Pet Sketches


This head start does not, in any way, take away from the hard work required to successfully paint your pet. As we novice painters put brush to canvas we quickly realized the effort and attention to detail required. Thankfully, we had the help of Dee, DJ and Sam who guided us in transforming our portraits into passion projects to be proud of.


Thanks for joining me gals!


To add to the enjoyment, we brought in beverages and munchies to nosh on while breaking to admire each other’s masterpieces. Good Day Café’s Sweet Bite tray and Roasted Veggie Tuscan bread (so good) were perfect.


The Roasted Veggies Tuscan Bread and Sweet Bite Tray from Good Day Cafe

appetizers and desserts

Oscar on Canvas

My portrait of Oscar is hanging in my home office and I can honestly say that I’m thrilled with it. I look at my creation and smile every time. Not just because of the handsome subject, but because I feel pretty darn good about how it turned out.


The holidays are a great time to gather friends and family for something different and fun.

Check out Painting with A Twist’s upcoming themes (December has some great Christmas ideas). Or call or email to coordinate your own birthday or paint and sip party!




Paint Your Pet Painters


Thank you to Painting with a Twist for a great night and my fellow pet painters who joined me!


Tabletop and Bar Cart Decor at The Boston Design Center

masquerade inspired bar cart decor
Michelle Cortizo of Cortizo Interiors.

A few of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining my design friends for a first of its kind event at the Boston Design Center. Before I get event specific, allow me to mention that the Boston Design Center is an event destination not to be missed. I first fell in love with BDC for its floors of fabulous design showrooms and now it’s becoming a go-to spot for cool events too. Honestly, I get so excited for my field trips to BDC, I should just pop a tent in there and call it my home away from home. Keep an eye out for future BDC events.

The Event

OK, now onto the event. It was called Heading Home to Dinner and featured tabletop and bar cart decor by our area’s top designers. The barren fifth floor space of the Boston Design Center was transformed for a sold-out evening of music, schmoozing and decorative inspiration. Proceeds went to the non-profit Heading Home.

With the holidays upon us, enjoy these exquisite photos by my friend Emily O’Brien of Emily O’Brien Photography. Let them spark ideas for your own festive tabletop or bar cart decor. Follow Emily on Instagram: EmilyOBrienPhoto or EmilyOBrienPhoto_Design. Keep an eye out on Emily’s blog for more great photos from this event.


Tabletop Decor

This tabletop was named Compass Rose-Putting Boston on the Map and was a wonderful nod to the Boston Seaport. It was designed by Renee Rucci Design and Julie Wood of The Leading Edge Drapery.
A tabletop by Pamela Copeman Design pays homage to Claude Monet. I love the centerpiece of paintbrushes and the use of framed art.
I’m mad for Duffy Design Group’s,  Alice’s Acid Tea Party table. So fun and colorful!

Bar Cart Decor

Looking down! New Year’s Champagne, a masquerade inspired bar cart by Michelle Cortizo of Cortizo Interiors.
Nantucket inspired bar cart decor by Linda Holt Creative
Linda Holt of Linda Holt Interiors brought Nantucket to Boston with this pretty bar cart.
Summer inspired bar cart decor
Kim Macumber of Kim Macumber Interiors created The Summer Cart complete with plantlife, artwork and, of course, cocktails!

Bonus Photo Courtesy of Yours Truly

I couldn’t resist adding this photo that I snapped of Wendy Ditcham Interiors’ Springtime in Paris. So lovely!