The Pop-Up Art Gallery at Helen Thomas in Andover

A beautiful piece currently hanging in the Helen Thomas Pop-Up Art Gallery by Liz Auffant

When a door opens, go through it and make an art gallery. That’s what Lisa Schiavone, owner of Helen Thomas in Andover, did when the space formerly occupied by Circles of Wisdom became available.

Lisa has always had a love of art. Over the years, her gift and home décor store has shown more and more original artwork by local artists. Stephanie Mobbs-Deady’s signature cow creations and glitzy ladies cheerfully adorn the walls. The keen craftsmanship of Michele Boshar’s mixed media collages delight as onlookers discover the intricate details of her designs.

But, when the Circle of Wisdom space became available, Lisa wanted to do more. She had come to know a young artist by the name of Josh Hilty through Stephanie. Both Lisa and Stephanie admired his work and wanted to foster it. Together, Lisa, Josh, Stephanie and a team of artists transformed the space behind her retail store into a charming art gallery. It oozes with passion, creative energy and a shared love for original works of art.

On February 7th, the artists of Helen Thomas’s pop-up art gallery came together for a Valentine’s inspired reception…For the LOVE of ART & WINE. Toss in a little chocolate and it was a perfect night!

Step & Repeat

Upon entering, Emily O’Brien snapped photos of attendees in a fun photo booth/step & repeat. Delicious chocolates by Sweet Mimi’s were on hand to tempt and sample. Representatives from Scout & Cellar wine shared sips of their tasty organic blends.

Artist Stephanie Mobbs-Deady-left. Owner Helen Thomas Lisa Schiavone-right. You know who smack dab in the middle!

Be My Valentine!

The adorable Love Note wall simply made me smile as visitors were given the opportunity to tack up their own expressions of love.

wall of love notes at pop-up art gallery

The Pop-Up Art Gallery

The art gallery is a beautiful space to gather, be inspired and appreciate art in a fun and welcoming space. Be sure to check it out while the space is still full of amazing artwork. You may even get a glimpse of Josh working in the active studio space.

guest viewing art at pop-up art gallery
photo by Emily O’Brien

Don’t miss this wonderful art experience. Stop in anytime and follow Helen Thomas on Facebook to learn about the next gallery event. They are so much fun – I can’t wait!

Meet the Artists

Josh Hilty

-a passionate go-getter and talented artist who has taken the pop-up art gallery by storm. Josh’s art has depth and soul.

Liz Auffant

-a talented young artist, writer and free spirit with a flair for seeing through the rain.

Michele Boshar

-a creative communicator, Michele combines illustrations, text, paste and paint to create captivating and thoughtful pieces, each with a unique message (and yes, I want Michele’s piece shown here!)

Stephanie Mobbs-Deady

-a whimsical artist with a passionate heart. Her art is colorful and happy, just like Stephanie.

Debbie Shirley

-flash back to simpler times with the bold colors of Debbie Shirley’s art. Her renditions of retro diners, cars, motels and more will transport you in just the way a great piece of art should.

John Mulcahy

-a beautiful landscape artist, John’s work will bring the outdoors in.

Emily O’Brien

-a talented portrait and interiors photographer, Emily’s photos inside the pop-up gallery show her range and skill behind the lens.

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Red Notice by Bill Browder – Book Club

Red Notice by Bill Browder
Red Notice by Bill Browder book club meeting at The Wine Lab

My latest book club read took me by surprise, in a good way. I never would have imagined liking a Russian finance and murder thriller. Yet Red Notice by Bill Browder turned out to be a very interesting story. Even when the author delved too deeply into financial, legal and illegal nitty gritty, it was still a page turner.

Red Notice by Bill Browder

Synopsis (an excerpt from Goodreads)

A real-life political thriller about an American financier in the Wild East of Russia, the murder of his principled young tax attorney, and his dangerous mission to expose the Kremlin’s corruption.

Bill Browder’s journey started on the South Side of Chicago and moved through Stanford Business School to the dog-eat-dog world of hedge fund investing in the 1990s. It continued in Moscow, where Browder made his fortune heading the largest investment fund in Russia after the Soviet Union’s collapse. But when he exposed the corrupt oligarchs who were robbing the companies in which he was investing, Vladimir Putin turned on him and, in 2005, had him expelled from Russia.

In 2007, a group of law enforcement officers raided Browder’s offices in Moscow and stole $230 million of taxes that his fund’s companies had paid to the Russian government. Browder’s attorney Sergei Magnitsky investigated the incident and uncovered a sprawling criminal enterprise. A month after Sergei testified against the officials involved, he was arrested and thrown into pre-trial detention, where he was tortured for a year. On November 16, 2009, he was led to an isolation chamber, handcuffed to a bedrail, and beaten to death by eight guards in full riot gear…


The reason this book worked for me is because Browder’s manner of writing was straightforward. While some of the more business heavy content went over my head, I found myself very wrapped up in Browder’s voice and personal account of this crazy situation.

His early experiences as a young financier right through to his ongoing mission as a human rights activist were gripping. It was hard, at times, to believe that this was a true story being told by the protagonist himself. The corruption in Russia, as detailed by Browder, is unfathomable.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were times I thought Browder was a narcissistic workaholic. His family must have suffered such frustration at his hyper focus on anything but them. Not to mention the dangers Browder brought upon himself and his family coming up against an angered Putin.

Red Notice was however compelling, enlightening and scarily current as Browder and his continued efforts were featured in my local newspaper less than two months ago.

The book not only held my interest, but I passed it off to Tony and he read it in record time.

Despite my initial reservations, I would definitely say this was a book worth reading.

Side Note 1

Red Notice is not the only unexpected thing I’ve found myself into recently. Stranger Things is now on my watch list and I can’t stop!  Science fiction-horror? Definitely not my usual thing. But hey, maybe my taste in entertainment is finally evolving!

Side Note 2

In addition to reading Red Notice, I began my first audio book. I never read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie two book clubs ago, so decided I’d give it a try on audio. Not sure I’m the best person for audio books or that this book was a good one to start with, but I’m willing to see how it goes until the end.

Next Up

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Everyone is raving about this book. It is so popular, I am #260 on the library hold list!

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Hello 2019! I’m Ready For You.

2019 resolution-keep track of phone

A new year and my first blog post in three weeks. I’m not going to lie – I really enjoyed the break. The truth is, I have a weird love-hate relationship with technology and social media.  Suffice to say, there are times when I can only sing their praises – GPS and the cool Facetime filters I recently discovered with my sister and niece, ♥ Love! And then there’s the random Facebook rant when I can’t quite figure out what has happened to society. And please don’t get me started on Twitter. Good God! What is the President of the United States doing? That’s rhetorical!!! Please don’t answer – I can’t handle it.

So, in 2019 I’m redefining my relationship with technology and social media. I’m not 100% sure what that means quite yet, but I plan to introduce some kind of healthy change in that area. If technology can change as quickly and as much as it does, then I think the way I handle it should change too. More on that at a future time.

Have you made any changes in your technology or social media habits? I’d be interested to know how people have made peace with the ever-changing landscape of communication and information sharing.

What About Resolutions in 2019?

While my plan for online activity is not yet clear, I have decided to start off 2019 with a resolution or two that aren’t quite so dramatic. The first of which is easy –  stay the course. As far as my day to day goes, I feel like I’m in a good groove with my writing, the book, wifing, parenting and dog mommying. So, I’m going to stick with all of that.

Additionally, and this one is super basic, I’m going to keep track of my phone and keys. More so my phone. My whole family has a running joke, “Mom never knows where her phone is.” It’s true, for some reason I find it very difficult to keep track of, especially when I leave the house. I knew I had a problem when I left it at my sister’s, 45 minutes away, and I didn’t bother to retrieve it for three days.

Tony gave me some simple, yet solid, advice recently that I’m doing my very best to follow. He said he never leaves the house, or anywhere for that matter, without going through a mental checklist of:

  • Phone
  • Keys
  • Wallet

I’m trying very hard to get into this habit. It’s doesn’t solve the problem of losing my phone inside my house on the daily, but it has been helpful getting me out the door without having to run back in. Full disclosure, the struggle is real! Yesterday I got into my car without my car keys. Ugh! Always something.

Here’s to a healthy, happy and peaceful 2019! Good luck in making any resolutions you may have made a reality.


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Winterlights – A New Tradition in North Andover

I was so happy to be invited to the opening of Winterlights at The Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover. There is nothing like the twinkle of holidays lights to get a person in the holiday spirit. To have a wonderland of lights spread throughout the beautiful grounds of a historic home was nothing short of magical.

I snuck peak of this spectacular display  at dusk last Thursday night. I felt so happy to be frolicking through the luminaria lit paths and all I could think of was how wonderful this experience will be for little kids and their families.

The opportunity to walk the various gardens, identify each of Santa’s reindeer, stroll through the poinsettia filled greenhouse, warm my hands by the firepit and discover Santa’s den, where you can leave Santa a letter or meet him in person on December 15th, was quintessentially kid-like in the best way possible.

In addition to The Stevens-Coolidge Place, The Trustees have introduced Winterlights at their Nuamkeag property in Stockbridge, MA. Don’t miss the opportunity to brighten your season at either location.

Winterlights runs through December 30th and opens in Stockbridge this Thursday.


OPEN THURSDAYS – SUNDAYS through December 30th

Entrance to the gardens is ticketed in 15-minute increments between 5-8PM. Purchase your tickets in advance here. Choose your preferred location for your ticket options.
Members: $12
Nonmembers: $17
Children 12 and under: FREE

Fun For All Ages

While I know that little kids and their parents will love this, I fully intend to go back with my teenage daughters and husband. This is a family event that everyone is sure to enjoy.

More Information

For more detail visit and be sure to check out each Winterlights night’s featured entertainment such as Tetra-Fire performer, Crispelli on December 9th or Ice Princesses on December 29th. Full calendar of events here. Choose your preferred location to see the performances and activities near you.

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