Rejuvenate Your Space –A Space Styling Workshop

*All photos by Lisa DiAntonio of Green Park Studios*

Oscar is thrilled with his (oops, I mean Tony’s) office redo.


I love interior design and home décor, yet I struggle to pull off a room makeover myself. For me, it’s daunting and overwhelming. I like choosing furnishings, art and accents but, in the end, have trouble pulling them all together. I also struggle with finishing touches, which can make all the difference.

When Lisa DiAntonio of Green Park Studios invited me to a DIY Rejuvenate Your Space styling workshop, at Helen Thomas in Andover, the timing was perfect. Tony had just asked for help redecorating his home office and I was at a loss.

Rejuvenate Your Space


Rejuvenate Your Space flyer


In this fun space styling workshop, Lisa gave attendees the tools and motivation to make a plan. We each sent in before photos so we could collectively talk about issues, ideas and action plans. Lisa’s best tip was to have us write down three relatively simple things we could do to get the ball rolling, that wouldn’t overwhelm us. My three things were:

  1. Remove cumbersome, rarely used conference table
  2. Replace dated table lamps
  3. Replace the unimpressive mirror over the fireplace mantel with something more eye-catching


Mission accomplished. That’s a TV!


By the time I left, I had a clear idea of how to make Tony’s office the manspace of his dreams. He says, “It’s better than I could have imagined.”

The Full Makeover

  • Starting this process with my three action items successfully barrel-rolled into a complete room makeover. We held onto many pieces that still worked allowing us to indulge in some extras that have elevated this room exponentially.
  • A gorgeous Dash and Albert rug from Helen Thomas in Andover brightens the room and creates a lush feeling underfoot (stay tuned on Thursday for a post about these great floor coverings.) Oscar loves this rug!
  • Adding to the light and bright factor, we repainted the walls an airy Benjamin Moore Winds Breath. And we painted over the natural wood mantel a few tones deeper in Benjamin Moore Stone Hearth. We are left with a fresh, modern look that both Tony and I love.
  • The final two changes are likely Tony’s favorites. We swapped out an ugly old recliner, that I hated, with a beautiful and streamlined Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sofa that is perfectly long enough to accommodate Tony’s 6’ 2” frame.
  • And the pièce de résistance, since we saved on many repurposed items, a Samsung Frame TV that Lisa told me about at her workshop. It is mounted, flush to the wall, above the fireplace and looks exactly like a picture in a frame. When not in use it displays a variety of beautiful artwork. It is very cool.

I am so satisfied having completed this project and Tony is so happy with his new space.

Before and After Photos

The space was so cluttered before. Even with Oscar’s big, blue bed, there is now plenty of room to move around.

It’s All in the Details


Personalizing with photos I took in NYC added a nice touch. And changing the frame and matting of a special lake print made a huge difference.



Thank You

Thank you Lisa, for sharing your knowledge and great ideas. I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have, done this without your inspiration.

Lisa’s next Rejuvenate Your Space Workshop ($75) will be held next week at Helen Thomas in Andover
Monday, April 9th at 10 am.
Link here to sign up now!
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Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner – Book Club

Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner, white wine, lemon cookies

Book Club’s latest meeting brought together a lively group. Discussing the ins and outs of Jennifer Weiner’s suburban sleuth story, Goodnight Nobody, was our first order of business.

General consensus – this was a good read. In fact, it boasts four out of five stars on Goodreads.

Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner

Synopsis (an excerpt from Goodreads)

For Kate Klein, a semi-accidental mother of three, suburbia has been full of unpleasant surprises. Her once-loving husband is hardly ever home. The supermommies on the playground routinely snub her. Her days are spent carpooling and enduring endless games of Candy Land, and at night, most of her orgasms are of the do-it-yourself variety.

When a fellow mother is murdered, Kate finds that the unsolved mystery is the most exciting thing to happen in Upchurch, Connecticut, since her neighbors broke ground for a guesthouse and cracked their septic tank. Even though the local police chief warns her that crime-fighting’s a job best left to the professionals, Kate launches an unofficial investigation — from 8:45 to 11:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, when her kids are in nursery school.

As Kate is drawn deeper into the murdered woman’s past, she begins to uncover the secrets and lies behind Upchurch’s picket-fence facade — and considers the choices and compromises all modern women make as they navigate between marriage and independence, small towns and big cities, being a mother and having a life of one’s own. 


Goodnight Nobody had a little bit of everything…murder, mystery, romance, family, drama and humor. The Club agreed it may have been a little too much of everything. Some of us loved the mystery, some loved the romance and others loved that we told them about it because they didn’t read it.

For me, the sad suburban mommy from the city was played out. The fact that Kate couldn’t get her act together in any mothering situation was annoying. Admittedly, most of us in Book Club have teenage children. Those traumatic toddler days are long since forgotten or more likely blocked out. We didn’t relate. Also, Kate’s investigative tactics were outrageous, if not uncomfortable. It was over the top.

The romance was compelling and the whodunit kept us committed. Although the ending may have furrowed a few brows, Goodnight Nobody was a good book with some fun twists and turns.

Fun Fact

If you have kids, you may recall that “goodnight nobody” is a line from the bedtime classic Goodnight Moon, but we didn’t make the connection from the title alone.

What have you been reading lately?

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The College Search is On!

When I’m stumped with what to blog about, I think about what 3 Olives & a Twist is all about…cocktail conversations! So, what is top of mind when I’m out and about these days? College!

I have a high school junior and, whether I’m ready or not or she’s ready or not, the college search is on. Our mailbox is inundated with college promotional material. I have not heard of half of these schools.

Most conversations about the college search are innocent enough. Have you gone on any tours yet? What does your child want to study? What part of the country do you see them in? My answers…yes, probably business, can I say my backyard?

The truth is I happily field these questions, but my prospective college student isn’t nearly as engaged as I am.

I am oddly excited about the prospect of my kids heading off to college. Between fits of panic, I dream about the wonderful opportunity both of my girls have ahead of them. The freedom, the change of scenery, the independence, the newness of it all is thrilling.

As a parent, I’m fascinated with the college years. I’ve already blogged about it four times.

  1. Advice for College Students
  2. Part 1 College Life – the parent perspective
  3. Part 2 College Life – the student perspective
  4. College in New York City

While I’ve happily held the reins of Julia’s college search, it’s time I hand them to her. I question whether she’ll grab hold, but following a conversation with one of the high school guidance counselors, I’m reassured to hear that it’s entirely normal for a high school junior to be tepid about their college search. I’m also happy that help is right around the corner. In April, the high school guidance department will begin their annual push to get juniors on track with their college search and I hope the spark I’ve been waiting to see will finally be ignited.


I love having someone else tell my child exactly what I’ve been telling them for months and suddenly seeing action.

Whatever it takes – I’m on board and I can’t wait for our next round of college tours. Back to the Big Apple. NYC here we come – again!

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Repost-Floral Design Trends Boston Flower Show 2017

This year’s show is happening now – Boston Flower and Garden Show 2018.

**Below is my post from last year’s event**
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In another attempt to spend time in Boston, I attended the Boston Flower and Garden Show last week. I dragged Tony along with me, which was funny because he has absolutely no interest in botanicals of any kind. In fact, if I so much as reference a plant by its proper name (i.e. Forsythia) he rolls his eyes. He claims it’s pretentious to “name drop” plant names. Oh right, I should just say the yellow bush – my bad!

Regardless, we had a nice time in the city and I loved seeing the gorgeous displays. I was most interested to see the latest in floral design trends. However, I was also impressed with the landscape and stonework displays. Some were very elaborate.

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This was inside the Seaport World Trade Center


As we walked around, I looked to identify the top floral design trends and popular plants.


As far as plants go, it looks like succulents are still a favorite. They were abundant throughout the show. I imagine the easy care and hard to kill nature of these plants allows them to maintain their popularity. Bonsai creations were also quite attractive to the crowds.

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Succulents galore
Faux succulent arrangement
Faux succulent arrangement
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Bonsai table


While the plant and garden displays were eye-catching, my focus was on flowers. I was happy to discover the Floral Design Competition room tucked in the back of the convention hall. Here, I took my time and perused the colorful and creative arrangements. I looked for patterns in color, structure and flower choice. The trend that most intrigued me was the fusion of floral and sculpture – flowers combined with some kind of manmade structural component. I did find these creations interesting and dramatic, however I prefer the beauty of blooms to stand alone.

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It was nice to get a touch of spring at this event. Hopefully we, here in New England, won’t have to wait too much longer for the real thing.


Feeling blue? Go buy yourself a bunch of happy flowers…sniff and smile. They always do the trick for me.

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Dairy Free Clam Chowder You Will Not Believe

dairy free clam chowder in bowl with Sriracha, parsley and lemon zest
Jen’s dairy free clam chowder dressed up with a touch of Sriracha, parsley and lemon zest

I could begin this post with some discussion of the weather but, like the gale force winds knocking down every tree in my town, I’m going to blow past that topic and talk about something more pleasant – food!

I’ve been wanting to post a recipe for some time, but the embarrassing truth is I haven’t made anything noteworthy in a long time. Thank God for good friends who are fabulous foodies and inspire me with delicacies dropped off at my doorstep that are so crazy good I had to share.

Jen Killilea is an amazing cook. Even more amazing is that she loves to share. One day she told me about a Paleo dairy free clam chowder she’d prepared. The secret…water soaked cashews!

I was skeptical. Jen generously dropped off a container full of her dairy free clam chowder and I was blown away. It was so thick, rich and creamy. I couldn’t believe that it was dairy free and that the creaminess and richness was derived from cashews. I nearly finished what Jen delivered straight out of the plastic container.


Look at how thick and creamy it looks!


If you are an ambitious home cook and appreciate dairy free options, this one is worth a try.

Another delicious dish from the Killilea kitchen. Thank you Jen!

*Jen’s tips: do not over soak the cashews and consider investing in a powerful blender like Jen’s Vitamix – worth it!

Dairy Free New England Clam Chowder (Paleo)

  • Cook Time:30m
  • Total Time:45m
  • Serves:4


  • 2 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 16 ounces frozen clam meat
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups chicken stock, or fish stock
  • 5 cups filtered water
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • fish sauce, to taste


  1. Soak cashews in a bowl of filtered water for a few hours before you plan to use them.
  2. If you’re using frozen clams, skip to step 7.
  3. Rinse and scrub clams.
  4. Add clams to a large stock pot or wok. Cover with filtered water. Bring to a boil. Steam until clams just barely open, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Using tongs or slotted spoon, transfer clams to large bowl until they are cool enough to handle.
  6. Remove clams from shells by opening clams with a paring knife while holding over a bowl to catch juices. Sever the muscle from under the clam and remove it from the shell. Add the clams to the bowl with the clam juice. Discard the shells.
  7. Coarsely chop clams.
  8. Cook 5 slices of bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes on each side over medium heat. Chop into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.
  9. Finely chop the onion, carrots, and celery ribs.
  10. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, celery, and half the salt. Sauté for 7 minutes, stirring often. Then add carrots and thyme, and sauté for 5 more minutes.
  11. When the veggies are tender, add in the clams and a few tablespoons of their juice. Stir clams around with the veggies. Then add in the rest of the salt, garlic powder, and stock. Boil, then reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes.
  12. While the soup is simmering, drain the cashews, rinse well, and add them to a blender or food processor with filtered water. Blend on high for 30 seconds.
  13. Add the blended cashews to the pot with the soup. Stir and allow everything to come to a light simmer (not a boil) again. Cook for 5 minutes.
  14. Turn the soup down to very low and cover to allow soup to thicken for 30 minutes.
  15. Add pepper and fish sauce to taste, garnish with crumbled bacon, and serve hot.

Bon Appetite!

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