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HOUSE OF FIFTY ideas for

inspired living

Let’s Celebrate with Giving!






ON THE COVER: Interior Designer Lori Graham created a stunning suite-like guest room to welcome visitors in style during the holiday season and throughout the year. See the story on page ten and read Lori’s tips on how to create a “swanky” guest room of your own. Photograph by Erik Johnson

IN THIS ISSUE: From interiors to fun fashion, tips for enjoying this season, gift ideas and stories of how two women are celebrating in other regions of the world, in this issue we have much to share. Enjoy!

Inspired by these talents…

Jewelry Designer Elizabeth Perry 2

Photographer Jean Allsopp

Toy Makers Amy and Joe Sharp

...turn the pages to discover more!



elcome to the Holiday issue of House of Fifty! We are excited to share all the stories we’ve gathered together: Features on inspiring women, beautiful spaces, festive fashion and ideas for enjoying this season to its fullest. And of course a big thank you is in order to the wonderful people who contributed to these pages. To all of you, “Thank you!” With the holidays upon us, giving is at the center of many activities and this topic is at the core of several stories in this issue. Giving can take on many forms, from the giving of gifts to the giving of our time, our attention, our kindness and our resources to favorite charities. A few years ago I started to think about the subject of giving when I noticed that people often fall into one of two categories; those who tend to be givers and those who are more frequently on the receiving end. Observing this I wanted to understand more about what creates a spirit of giving and what

creates a spirit of need. What I found is that it really has everything to do with a mindset; one of generosity or one of need. I came to this realization as I recognized that, for much of my life, I had been on the receiving end of giving. In my twenties and thirties I didn’t have a lot. Fortunately I had friends and family who gave generously to me, in both big and small ways. Thoughtful gestures like picking up the tab at dinner, treating me to a movie and even showing up at my door with bags of groceries when things got particularly tight. It’s not always easy being a single girl with a startup business! Years later this “taking” attitude no longer fit my circumstances. I had enough, so why wasn’t I giving more to others? I certainly could afford to, both in terms of resources and time. I realized it came down to mindset. I had become so comfortable living in a taking mode over the years that it had simply become a habit, one that no longer fit my life. Since then I have strived to adopt a new attitude, that I don’t need to be hesitant to share. Giving to others doesn’t mean that I will be left wanting. In fact the opposite is often true! Having a mindset of giving dramatically enriches how one can live and experience each day, as does expanding the definition of what giving is. Giving can be as simple as paying someone a heartfelt compliment or offering a few words of encouragement. What giving means will most likely be different for each of us. I hope in this issue you’ll find new ways to give this season and all year long. Sincerely,


HOUSE OF FIFTY Holiday 2011




50 40 03 Editor’s Letter Let’s celebrate the joy of giving!

20 Finishing Touches: Add Luxury, Comfort & Style to a Guest Room

08 Contributors

Just be warned, guests may never want to leave!

Lucky us, we have the best team!

10 Roll Out the (Ikat) Carpet Lori Graham’s tips for how to welcome guests into your home with “swanky” style.

Saleem found space to create a fabulous “mom cave”.

50 Talent We Are Taken With: Kerri Rosenthal

26 The Art of Capturing a Photograph

Changes of the season & fashion keep this artist inspired.

Photographer Jean Allsopp shares the stories behind her favorite shots!

58 The Heart of Design

40 A Room of Her Own 4


How Interior Designer Saudah

How do you decorate your home, for yourself or others? Welcome Kim Myles to HOF with her new column!

60 80


72 60 ‘Tis the Season for Giving! The reasons behind why we give and tips for selecting what charities to support.

64 The House of Fifty Gift Giving Guide Does the long list of gifts to find overwhelm? Our guide for a stress-free gift giving season just may help!

84 72 Gift Ideas: Women, Men, Teens & Tweens, and the Little Ones Need gift ideas? Here are some great options to get you started.

80 Greeting Cards: A Holiday Tradition Helpful tips to ensure your cards arrive on time, plus our favorite designs to inspire the addressing to begin!

84 Hostess Gift Ideas Show Your Appreciation with Style. Arrive at the next party with a “thank you” the host will love!

92 50 Ideas for Giving: This Holiday & All Year Long Giving needn’t be limited to gifts and the holiday season…



94 96


94 What’s in My Stocking




108 Get Inspired to Dress Up this Holiday Season

118 Holidays Celebrations from Around the World

96 Boots, Fabulous Boots!

House of lolo’s Laurie Moulton shares her favorite holiday looks to mix and match this season.

From Dubai and Delhi, two women share how their families are celebrating during this time of year.

With so many great styles on the market, you’re sure to find the perfect match.

111 Expressions of Beauty: Elizabeth Perry Collections

136 Taking Care of Yourself

A collection of treasures anyone would enjoy finding in their stocking!

98 House of lolo A wonderful sense of fashion mixes with business savvy in this new venture. 6

A passion for creating beautiful adornments parlays into success for this talented jewelry designer.

Treat yourself well, it’s a wise investment.

162 140




140 Blogs We Love


With new blogs popping up each day, make sure you don’t miss these!

A reinvention of the Advent calendar creates memories for modern families.

148 Little Alouette: A Toy Story

162 Setting a Holiday Table for Children

Learn how one couple took a talent in a time of need and turned it into a thriving business.

Hosting a party that includes children? Be inspired to create a fun & festive table!

152 Countdown to ChristmasThe Modern Advent

170 The Books On Our Shelves In this issue we share our

current favorites which are sure to make wonderful and appreciated gifts!

185 HOF Holiday Music Mix Start the fun this season with our eclectic collection of tunes!

186 What’s New: House of Fifty is now available in print and to download and read on all your mobile devices! Enjoy! 7


holiday issue! Happy holidays and thank you from House of Fifty!

Janell Beals Founding Editor

Lakeitha Duncan New Features Editor

Mimi Inman Beauty Editor

Shari Miller Art Director

Nicole Case Feature Writer

Courtney Fernan Feature Writer A Thoughtful Place

Kim Myles Columnist Kim Myles [design]

Pauline Wiles Feature Writer

Through her popular blog Courtney shares creative and timesaving tips to bring organization and beauty to the home, while providing an online design service.

As a Television Host and Interior Designer Kim is busy on a wide range of creative endeavors, and HOF is happy to welcome her as the newest member of our team.

Nicole is a working mother whose writing focuses on energy and environmental issues, providing policy services to consumerowned electric utilities.


Pauline believes that life runs smoother and is more enjoyable with a little advance planning! She enjoys gathering tips and techniques to help others become more organized.


Meenal Bishnoi Maison Marigold

Monika Claassen Splendid Willow

Sue De Chiara The Zhush

Meenal is an Interior Designer and mother who writes her blog from Delhi, India. The blog is the place she shares her “catalog” of beautiful interiors, images and people that inspire her.

Monika is the founder of the popular blog Splendid Willow. Her love for Swedish interiors and design is apparent in both her blog and her new store, Splendid Willow Avenue.

Through The Zhush Sue shares her passion for interior design, art and fashion, while offering outstanding finds through her online shop.

Sherry Moeller MoKi Media A previous design and lifestyle magazine editor, Sherry is a freelance writer and principal at MoKi Media.

Melissa Nichols Clara’s Conversations

Sukaina Rajabali Sips and Spoonfuls

Melissa is the author of an inspirational blog detailing everyday conversations the character “Clara” has on the topic of her faith.

Sukaina is a food writer and photographer living in Dubai. Her blog is filled with delectable recipes, all showcased through beautiful photos and stories.

Kirsten Krason 6th Street Design School Kirsten loves mixing her two passions, blogging and interior design, to bring advice and inspiration to readers. Full service design solutions and consultations are offered through her blog.

Jennifer Rosson Style Your Life

Joi Svezia Nuestra Vita Dulce

As a wardrobe stylist, Jennifer enjoys creating stylish looks for her clients who are “real people with real lives and real budgets.”

On her blog Joi shares decorating and DIY projects,has been featured on ‘The Nate Berkus Show’ & appears regularly on a local St. Louis TV show.




By Sherry Moeller Interior Design by Lori Graham Photography by Erik Johnson


nterior Designer Lori Graham goes out of her way to make sure visitors feel relaxed, if not pampered, in the guest rooms she designs for her clients’ homes and her own. “Guest rooms should be comfortably chic with equal parts swanky boutique hotel and the creature comforts of home,” says Lori. For the décor, cozy down duvets and luxurious bed

linens are just the starting point. “Guests stay for only a few days or weeks, so bold design moves can be made without the risk of feeling too trendy.” Lori often uses intense design elements in guest rooms, patterns with bold color as well as touches of whimsy and flirty fittings are appropriate in these often less used enclaves within the home.




Lori spent the first half of her professional career as a corporate attorney, quenching her thirst for design on the side by renovating, designing and living in 19th century row houses in Washington, DC. “I had a whole lot of hunger when it came to design, but very little time,” Lori says. Eventually not only did she realize interior design was her calling but so did others. Associates, friends and family began knocking on her Victorian door for home renovation and design advice. “Giving advice on design elements and products just came naturally to me,” she adds. “We all took a leap of faith,” she says about herself and her new clients when beginning her interior design firm. The success of her business today and the continued passion for what she does have proven her instinct to make such a dramatic career change correct. In Lori’s work modern finishes on furniture with more traditional silhouettes sit alongside pieces of mid-century modern simplicity. These cohabitate with the rich textures and strong lines of the Asian antique pieces she is drawn to. Lori loves blending client’s finds from their travels, such as a vibrant colored throw, into a room’s design and a guest suite is a perfect place to showcase all these varied elements. “I strive to balance opposing elements such as old and new, masculine and feminine, pieces from the near and the far in a design.”

Lori’s clients, with whom she often establishes lasting friendships, have rewarded her with a loyalty any small business owner would relish. In return, she continues to provide new and interesting resources on the DC design scene and prepares for her next big leap this Fall as she opens her showroom ‘Lori Graham’, on 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. The showroom will feature an in-house contemporary art gallery along with Lori’s line of custom furniture and accessories, LG Place, as well as the work of favorite furniture, lighting, textile and hardware designers.


creature comforts of home.”






Lori’s tips for creating a


“swanky” guest suite:

Create a “Snooze-Friendly” Environment:

Drapery panels or shades should provide as much darkness as one desires. Lori loves the intimacy of floor-to-ceiling drapes, which should be lined or paired with blackout shades. Also make certain to replace the electric, glowing alarm clock, or at a minimum supply an eye mask to block out the glare!


Help Your Guests Help Themselves:

Provide a writing desk with stationery personalized to your home, and supply stamped envelopes and a pretty fountain pen. Let’s see if the lost art of letter writing can be rediscovered! Of course, the art of email is a necessity as well. Repurpose that old laptop in your guest suite and remember to leave your wireless security code on hand. Display travel books about your town. For example, Lori keeps a book on the architecture of Dupont Circle on the nightstand so her guests can acquire some fun tidbits to check out when walking to the National Mall for the more expected tourist outings. For years Lori enjoyed providing a disposal camera for guests. These days, however, she’s all about providing a Flip video camera and encouraging guests to create video journals of their visit. They’re small enough to tag along on any urban hike or holiday happy hour.


Let Them Eat Cake:


Up the Comfort Factor:


Most Important – Relax and Enjoy:

Fill a basket with seasonal snacks and, if space allows, install a dorm fridge in the closet with bottles of water and other favorite beverages. This is a hugely appreciated gesture, especially by guests adjusting to major time zone differences. With dorm décor having a life of its own these days, mini refrigerators in a myriad of colors and sizes are available for under $300. Also add an in-suite coffee maker, such as the trendy Nespresso Citiz Espresso Machine.

Lori suggests creating a memorable scent in the room to remind guests of their visit. “There’s a lot to be said for aroma therapy,” Lori adds, “especially when it reminds us of a special memory or holiday.” For that luxurious touch, provide soft linens, cozy throws and a hotel-like robe and slippers.

Stock up on soothing teas – or the more aggressive nightcap supplies! Make the time to allow yourself to slow down for a moment and share in your guests’ vacation mode.








Finishing Touches: Add

Luxury, Comfort & St

Is it bedtime? Star Clock from Studio Ten 25

Light up the night with Lotus Flower Candle Bowls from Greige.

Bed, Bath & Beyond delivers with the London Luxury Hotel Robe.

Set the stage for comfort with a Navy Pagoda Headboard & Key Bedding from Live.Like.You. The Mark Gold Base Desk from Studio Ten 25 will have visitors wanting to set up shop.

Help guests share their stay with stationery from the Rifle Paper Co. 20

tyle to a Guest Room (or to your own bedroom!)

Install an Igloo Mini Fridge and stock up on guest’s favorite beverages.

“Turn your guest room into a hotel-like suite…but be warned, the visitors may never want to leave!”

Place the morning paper at the door for guests to enjoy with coffee. Nespresso® Citiz White Espresso Machine

Include an extra layer of cozy with the Pom Pom Throw from Greige.

Every room functions better with a tray.

Barbara Barry Silver Framed Tray from Studio Ten 25

Who doesn’t love being served “Breakfast in Bed!” Egg Cups from Splendid Willow Avenue 21













apturing the essence of a subject in a photograph is a challenging task, requiring a special combination of technical skills paired with an artistic eye. Photographer Jean Allsopp has more than enough of both, which is evident when viewing her work. After receiving a degree in Fine Arts and completing additional studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to hone her technical knowledge,

BY JANELL BEALS Jean stepped into the role of staff photographer at Southern Living, later moving on to Coastal Living. Then came the reorganization seen in the magazine industry, with Jean’s position as a staff photographer being eliminated. Jean saw this as the catalyst to do something she didn’t have the courage to consider before and launched her own photography business.

“A loft belonging to Mary Clark, owner of Bellwether in Birmingham, Alabama, is filled with natural light which bounces around thanks to the white concrete floors. A wall of books defines the space with the color coordinated book jackets!” Jean Allsopp 26

This change in direction has allowed Jean’s work to flourish, through the freedom to manage and oversee projects from start to finish. As a staff photographer she would often get stuck doing one thing repeatedly, but now the responsibility of managing the entire process has allowed her to grow as a photographer and business owner. During a recent conversation with Jean I asked her to share how she is able to capture such beautiful images on film, ones which draw the viewer in. “Shooting in natural light is the key to my work; I always chose to shoot in natural light if possible. Much better than other sources of lighting, natural light produces images that look real. Shooting in natural light conveys a more realistic photo, capturing the true look and feel of the space and how the home appears in person.” When Jean goes to a location she likes to

spend time getting to know the space, observing how the light is coming in through the windows and doors. Usually late in the day is a better time to shoot as the sun is lower and softer. If Jean has the luxury of staying in the home she is photographing long enough, she enjoys meeting the people who live there, which allows her to best capture the spirit of the home.

“I’ve always wanted a home based studio, and I finally have one with this space over the garage of our 1930’s Tudor style house in Birmingham. My vision was to have sunlight all hours of the day, a vaulted ceiling and oversized windows, and I do!”


“Defused light is the best way to capture the vivid color seen in this unusual shade of rose.� 28

“I love this butler’s pantry in the home of Birmingham designer Jan Ware, with its light and the vintage fixture over the sink! She uses the oversized sink to arrange flowers and water plants. But when she has a party, it becomes filled with cold drinks! “ 29

“The symmetry present in this room is what I love about this photograph. The piano on the left anchors the space while the recessed concrete wall adds dimension. The casual feel of the leaning artwork introduces an approachable element and makes it easy to switch out pieces to change up the space.” “When photographing interiors I always use a tripod, but I often grab quick shots hand held, such as the vase of flowers seen on the bar. I find they are often my favorites!” 30


“I am drawn to the bar with matching glass lamps and a glimpse of the painting reflected in the mirror. A peek into the kitchen beyond, painted a rich, bright purple, suggests more is yet to be discovered.� 31

“A bedroom in white by Mary Clark is calm and quiet, yet…” 32

“…adding just one strong color to this neutral space makes the image



“It always helps to add a dog to a shot, if at all possible!”

“I simply adored this vignette, but the ghost chair was hard to see. This is how working with a good photo stylist can make all the difference: Cathy Johnson’s suggestion to place the white dog here helps define both the chair and scale of the room.” INTERIOR DESIGN BY LISA FLAKE


“A fun and sophisticated nursery has one great punch of color seen in a comfy chair for the stuffed animals. The challenge I faced was to show the light fixture, but the painting defines the space.” INTERIOR DESIGN BY FRAN KEENAN, PAINTING BY AMY PLEASANT


“I am interested and inspired by the details. A close up of books, jewelry, the little items left in the space; they tell the story of the people who live there and 36

how they live in the home.�

“I haven’t had the opportunity to photograph many rooms with wallpapered ceilings! Adding the touches of pink commands your attention.” INTERIOR DESIGN BY LISA FLAKE


”This is what inspires me: Old photos, Polaroids, cameras and wishbones are just a few things I like to collect. The big light bulb is there to encourage sudden inspiration when a new idea strikes!” Jean recently collaborated with longtime friend and Southern Living co-worker, Lynn Nesmith, to create ‘30A Style’. This is a book which showcases a striking collection of homes, both old and new, along Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A through Jean’s photographs. Lynn had previously authored three other books, including ‘Seaside Style’, but the women had always talked about doing a book together. Once Jean was out on her own, the timing was right to follow through on their vision. The result is a visually beautiful and inspiring book, showing a peek into a special collection of coastal homes. Having enjoyed the process of working together, the pair is already at work on a new book entitled ‘Florida Style’. 38

“Take a journey along Scenic Highway 30A as we share how this vivacious, pristine stretch of coastline is special. From Grayton Beach to Alys Beach, ‘30A Style’ opens the doors of twenty-two homes within historical villages and vibrant new towns.”





hat woman doesn’t wish for a space to call her own, a room to retreat to for a moment of quiet? A room to gather items that are most enjoyed and bring inspiration, and to decorate without having to consider the preferences of others who share the home! Interior Designer Saudah Saleem, who resides in a 1920’s Baltimore townhome with her husband and three children, has created such a space through an unconventional move. While she loves the unique character of their home, the reality is that homes of this age rarely have adequate storage space to accommodate a modern family of five. To compound the issue, Saudah’s love affair with fashion was causing the master bedroom to become overrun due to the lack of closet space. To solve the problem, Saudah devised a plan which proposed converting the master bedroom into her walk-in closet with the master moving down the hall to the guest bedroom. Surprisingly her husband didn’t require much convincing once she promised



that he would be able to see the floor in the new bedroom, with her clothes and shoes neatly tucked away in the her new dressing room. Besides, she added, “What more do you need in a bedroom besides a bed and a couple of nightstands?” Before a change of mind could occur, the queen size bed and two nightstands were moved down the hall and they haven’t looked back since. “It is such a joy to step into my closet and office space every day after the kids have gone to bed! It’s a haven where I can pore over design magazines, work on my projects, and decide what I’m going to wear the next day.” Once the room was cleared, the first step was to begin researching storage options. Inspiration came from the idea of the “Withdrawing” Room or Drawing Room found in large 16th to early 18th century English homes. Typically, ladies would retreat or “withdraw” to these rooms for more privacy following dinner in the dining room. They were dark moody rooms with elegant lines, rich fabrics and towering built-ins.


The wardrobe cabinets lining the walls are a modern day translation of the built-ins in those long ago Drawing Rooms. Although they may look custom, they are simply Pax wardrobe units from Ikea. The adjacent bookcases, added to house a striking shoe collection, are Billy bookcases also from Ikea. The three Pax wardrobe units were a bargain posted on Craigslist, in Washington DC, for a mere $250. Saudah called a friend with a truck and they drove down from Baltimore to pick them up. Upon arrival the seller, who was moving the next day, reduced the total price to $100 if they would take all three. Not one to turn down a bargain, Saudah and her friend quickly disassembled the cabinets, loaded them into the truck and thanked the seller before she could reconsider her offer! The dark cabinetry grounds the design, provides needed storage and lets the colorful array of shoes do all the talking. Displayed on view as if each were its own little piece of art, the shoe collection showcasing a gorgeous range of color and pattern and are like confetti in the room! 42



While a desire to have adequate storage for her clothing and accessories prompted this project, the room also needed to function as a work space for Saudah’s design business. Before repurposing the master bedroom into a room of her own, there wasn’t a designated place in the home where she could work. Previously she would set up shop in whatever room wasn’t occupied by the kids. Placing a desk in the room provides a functional place to lay out fabric samples, look at paint chips and plan spaces without distraction. The choice to go with a glass desktop with sawhorse legs was an easy decision. 44

Because the sides of the room are flanked with dark cabinetry, Saudah didn’t want to bring a similar heaviness to the center of the space. The clear surface and metal legs give the room “space to breath” and allows the bold pattern of the chevron rug to be seen from any angle in the room. The lettering running over the glass surface is the word “love” in various languages. It’s a reminder about the decision making process for herself and her clients: If one selects only pieces that are loved and appreciated, you’ll be happy with the end result!

More bargain finds allowed this room to come together on a budget. The tufted mustard chair and settee were purchased from a local thrift store, Ryan’s Relics, a year and a half before the project began. Being a big advocate of seizing the moment and buying what you love when you come across it, Saudah knew there would be a perfect spot for them one day. She appreciates the classic lines and curves, evoking the old world, glamorous “fainting couch� vibe, while their bold color keeps them modern. Good design always strives to find a balance, and here the romantic lines of the seating paired with the cabinetry are the perfect juxtaposition of feminine and masculine. And the bonus? The total cost for the chair and settee was a budget friendly $300.



A vintage lamp was another thrift store gem and speaks to the dashes of vintage style in the room. Sitting atop a $15 campaign nightstand, the lamp was definitely a steal at $24. So as to not overshadow the curved and fluted body of the lamp, a simple linen drum shade was selected to pair with the base. A classic Greek key trim, found on clearance at Walmart, was run along the bottom edge for an extra touch of pretty. It’s a perfect nod to the fact that the lamp is vintage while updating the completed look at the same time. The room also has an eye-catching collection of jewelry displayed in white bowls that are actually pinch bowls used by chefs for

prepping ingredients and serving condiments. The bowls are placed in drawers lined in a pink and white houndstooth pattern, one of the many little details seen in this room design that adds to its success. The size and unique teardrop shape of the bowls are perfect to store Saudah’s favorite pieces, found at flea markets, thrift stores and surprisingly, shops such as Forever 21! “Although I’ve purchased most of my favorite pieces at thrift stores and flea markets…honestly, those are the best places to find unique items…I also have a few showstopper pieces from designers Amrita Singh and Kendra Scott that I enjoy wearing as well.”


SAUDAH SHARES HER TIPS FOR CREATING A RETREAT OF YOUR OWN:: “I know not everyone may have the space to do what I did here, but you can still create a private space within your home which will meet your needs. It may be only a hallway closet or a section of the family room, but the first step is to assess the space you have and determine what are the crucial functions and requirements of the space. For me, it was coming to the realization that we only needed a bed and a set of nightstands to make the master bedroom functional. Once I came to that conclusion it was easy to proceed with the idea of converting our master bedroom into my closet and work space. It was almost as if we were wasting space by using this larger


bedroom as just a bedroom! The next step is determining what you love. Are there spaces which inspire you and make you happy just looking at them? I pored through my inspirational files of walk-in closets and home offices to get ideas of what I wanted my room to look like. It’s okay if you end up with inspirational pictures that don’t seem to follow one particular look or theme. The best rooms are comprised of a good mixture of styles and elements. It’s okay if a vintage lamp is paired with a contemporary table, it is all about finding the right balance. Too often people get

CHIC MOM CAVE! caught up in trying to figure out the rules of design. A huge part of my design philosophy is that you make your own rules. Always purchase what you love and you’ll always love what you have. This is key, because ultimately it is you who will be living in the space and with the choices that are made! Lastly, look past the obvious when hunting for furniture and décor, if you do, a treasure will often be waiting. If you’re on a tight budget be willing to work a little to get a custom look for less. This may mean buying a great piece

of furniture in a finish you can’t stand, but then paint it a hue you love. I find it much more gratifying to approach a project using creativity and a bit of ingenuity rather than spending a lot of money.” Saudah only chose pieces that she loved for this project, and is truly happy when looking around her newly created room of her own. There are times when she sits at her desk, looks around and simply smiles, enjoying her chic “mom cave”!




n just a few short years a new career of creating works of art on canvas and paper has flourished for Kerri Rosenthal. Prior to deciding to load up on art supplies and pick up a paint brush, Kerri enjoyed a long and successful career in fashion and its influence is evident in her work. After graduating from NYU with a degree in Communication Studies, Kerri joined the clothing company Oilily and rose to the position of President of Cakewalk US, a subsidiary which produced a line of colorful and fun children’s clothing sold to specialty and department stores. In this role, Kerri traveled to Holland six times a year and the

exposure to the culture of the company and northern Europe has had a lasting influence on her. The Oilily culture is so deeply infused into every part of the company, from the food presentation to the pencils used to take notes, one could not be a part of the environment without the creative sensibility becoming ingrained in a powerful way. That level of creativity tends to stay with you. When Kerri decided to end her career in fashion to raise her family, she felt the urge to continue being creative in her own life. That desire morphed into an interest in painting and has also flowed into her children’s lives, each of them having a strong creative streak.

The influence of Oilily’s design aesthetic is evident in Kerri’s paintings.


Kerri Rosenthal in her home studio: “I was having fun painting my tulips…it’s certainly not a mystery where my inspiration comes from…and decided to paint them super huge. They are just a burst of happiness when looking at them!”



I always find it interesting to learn what prompts a person to try something new or take a new direction in their life and career. This is what Kerri shared when asked what prompted her to begin painting. “The actual story is pretty simple. My husband and I were out to dinner with friends at a restaurant in Greenwich, which was displaying several beautiful paintings on paper. I was so drawn to them, like I had never been drawn to paintings before. The next morning I woke up thinking about those paintings and thought maybe I could try to paint something myself. I drove to a nearby art store and bought some painting supplies, came home and painted a piece inspired by the ones in the restaurant. I loved it and framed it…it still hangs in my kitchen.” That was four years ago. The first painting led to another and another. Kerri studied the

masters she was drawn to; Wolf Kahn, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse, Willem de Kooning and Jean-Michel Basquiat, all of them having one common denominator, a use of color that inspired her. Kerri began to build a collection of work. When friends would come over and see the paintings hung all over her house they would try to convince her to show the work. Persuaded, in June of 2009 Kerri hosted an art show in Westport and sold 12 paintings that night. Through this exposure local shops began carrying her work and from there business just took off. Shops, galleries, designers and private clients have kept her busy. As a matter of fact, one client commissioned 24 paintings for their vacation home in Bermuda! Kerri says it has all happened very quickly and is incredibly exciting.



“Nature’s colors were starting to fade with the passing summer and this is what I saw when looking at my 52 garden.”

“Sad to see the summer come to an end, I began to feel the cool colors of Fall.”

‘TICKLE ME FUCHSIA’ “Ticklish was the feeling I had when adding the color fuchsia to this painting and the feeling I hope a viewer has when looking at it.” 53

‘LUNCH IN ST. TROPEZ’ “Looking at this painting I think about the arrival of spring and all the wonderful colors that will come with it!”

Kerri’s work is very affected by the changing seasons. “I never realized how much the seasons inspire my work until I started to pull together some favorite pieces for this House of Fifty article! Light is very important to me, the sunshine in the summer months makes me want to paint in very strong contrasting happy hues and mostly abstracts. As autumn approaches, it seems that my colors become more muted and my paintings become a bit more serious as opposed to playful. In winter I am drawn to colder tones as reflected by the lack of sun and the snow piled up outside my studio window. Spring is the rebirth in nature and in my paintings. Landscapes and tulips come flying off my brush with the hopes that color will fill my world 54

again soon!” Kerri hopes her work expresses beauty and happiness and she always tries to paint for herself and for her home, creating pieces she would want to hang on her own walls. Color is very influential in Kerri’s work and, in addition to nature, she draws a lot of her inspiration from fashion magazines. “If I see a color combination that I am drawn to and I think might translate onto canvas, the page gets torn out and put in a pile for future paintings. I am a magazine addict; I buy every US, European and Australian home/fashion/ lifestyle magazine that comes out! If I hit a dry spell, I go to these magazines or the blogs and online magazines I follow. This keeps my colorations fresh and current.”


“I worked on this painting in the middle of a very cold winter. We had a ton of snow and the lack of color seen through the frosted window in my studio was my inspiration.”


Selecting a work of art to bring into your home is a very personal choice. I was curious if Kerri could share her perspective on what inspires a person to purchase one of her pieces and what is it about her work that she feels captures a person’s imagination. “I hope one would feel a physical reaction to the painting, like the butterflies you get when in love. I know a painting is complete when I feel that way. As I paint, my relationship with my painting is usually love/hate…it goes on and off like that until I am done and then I get

that euphoric feeling and I know my painting is ready to be named and hopefully sold.” Ronny Carroll from Dovecote, a home furnishing and design store which showcases Kerri’s work, has this to say, “Kerri’s fascination with color and energy are obvious in her paintings. Her work is intensely personal and very stylish. Kerri takes a thoughtful approach when selecting hues for a painting. When you walk into a room with a Kerri Rosenthal painting you feel her generous spirit.”



“Inspiration can come from virtually anything! Returning home from a trip to the ice cream shop on a hot summer evening, I attempted to capture all the colors I recalled from the flavors.”

‘CARNIVAL’ “There is a fabulous frantic feeling of being at a carnival with friends, with the warmth of summer surrounding you.”


The Heart of Design by Kim Myles


y house blabs about my emotional life to everyone who enters, and that includes me….though I don’t always listen. She’s kind of like that beloved friend who knows you better than anyone, and who also happens to be a shameless gossip. My home’s decor always telegraphs my emotional life with unvarnished honesty, but during the holidays she has particularly juicy dirt to spread around. You see, holiday décor brings out an age-old conflict in me. It’s a slugfest between my love of the quirky and the appeal of more traditional fare. For years I’ve let the classics win, but I think my house wears these displays while giving me the side eye. Kind of like, “Honey, I’m wearing a chandelier made out of paper clips in the living room, do you really expect me to get excited about a standard door wreath? O-kay.” It’s not as if I actually love classic wreaths, garlands and icicle lights, it’s that I’ve been scared to buck tradition for fear of messing with the tried and true. My fear is that by trying something new and modern, I’ll create an 58

emotional vacuum. I’ll lose the sweet, sentimental “heart” that comes with the familiar touches and somehow ruin Christmas. I mean, who am I to mess with such hallowed decor traditions? So there it is. “Who am I?” Well, I can tell you I’m the opposite of traditional. I’m a woman who’ll take wacky and fanciful over classic and composed any day of the week. As far as I’m concerned, the Whos down in Whoville got it right – gorgeous, acidy color combos and giant scaled displays are fun. I like fun. That’s a holiday vibe I’ve been toying with, yet never fully committing to. But not this year!

“Megan’s Floating Tree Mobile is modern, fun & fanciful!” First, I have a ton of ornaments that I’m going to reimagine. I’ll string them up into a floating “tree mobile”. It’s modern, fanciful and totally unexpected. Megan over at ‘Not Martha’ created some, and her step-by-step of the project rocks.

“That’s what it’s about. Loving my home, loving my family, Next, the sad little mistletoe sprig that dangles from its “hangman’s noose” of a ribbon is getting an upgrade. Instead, I’ll place bunches of the plant in multiple glass orbs and hang them in clusters from bright velvet ribbons. Like magical bubbles of love! These 70’s inspired terrarium spheres can be found at Sprout Home.

loving my style!”

“I’m DIY’ing it thanks to a tutorial at Punky Style!”

My faux garland is about to be history as well. I know…faux! My fear of breaking out of the box has led to questionable design choices! Instead, I’m dripping the archway into my dining room with ropes full of shiny tassels and fringe. Confetti System sells them, but I’m DIY’ing it thanks to a great tutorial over at ‘Punky Style’. These glittering swags will cost maybe $20 to make, and they’ll capture that joyful, exuberant vibe that I absolutely love. And there it is – Love. That’s what it’s about. Loving my home, loving my family, loving my style. My house doesn’t care to be like the other girls, and it’s time I stopped trying to make her fit in once a year out of some misguided dedication to tradition. My hope is that by following my crazy

little design heart, my holiday home will finally feel representative of me. My guests may not “do it that way” in their homes, but that’s the point, right? We’re all free to create the spaces that are most meaningful to us. And when we do, it is magic!


‘Tis the Season for Giving! Why We Give & Tips on Smart Charitable Giving


By Nicole Case

Photography by Sheila White


he season of giving is upon us! For many, one of the highlights of the season is giving gifts and finding ways to share with others. And as it turns out, there may be a very good reason why we fight the crowds and spend hours online searching for gifts, along with taking the time to contemplate what charities to back with our time and money. Why do we give and what is our motivation for giving? The reason is simple: giving makes us happy. Very little matches the joy we feel when a child opens a gift with a look of pure delight. Or, the pleasure we feel knowing that a donation helped make someone’s day and that volunteering at your local charity helped make the holidays brighter for another. We also like the recognition we get when our gift turns out to be just what the other needed. In fact, psychologists have found that it is the giver rather than the recipient that gains more from the act of giving. Giving is integral to strengthening relationships and social ties. It tells others that we care and that they are special to us. In that way, giving is important to society and researchers have found that simple acts of giving predate modern society. When we give to others we feel happiness and joy. It’s just that simple. The holidays are a time of joy and it appears much of that joy is tied to the act of giving. So, go ahead, indulge yourself – give to others and make yourself happy in return! Giving comes in many forms: a thoughtful present, a homemade gift, volunteering your time or making a charitable donation. “Charitable giving serves a real passion in people to solve problems,” says Sue Hildick, President for Foundations for a Better Oregon. As the former Director of the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross, Sue has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to charitable giving. According to Sue,

donors become passionate about a need or a cause and want to be part of the solution. “Charities provide a conduit to impacting those in need, doing the homework and developing strategies. People can have an immediate and concrete impact on a problem by donating to a reputable charity.” How do you find a charity you can trust? How do you select from the options available for charitable giving? Look to the internet, there is a wealth of information on charities and a few actually do your homework for you. Sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar evaluate charities, rate them and make it easy to donate.

“Very little matches the joy we feel when our gift turns out to be just what the other needed.” Nicole 61

6 Tips for Savvy Charitable Giving

“The holidays are a perfect time to impact a cause you are passionate about by making a charitable donation. Here are a few tips to making smart charitable choices.� 62

1. What Are You Passionate About?

Identify which causes are most important to you: hunger, poverty, cancer research or protecting the environment are just a few to consider. Ask yourself where would you like to make an impact – at the local, national or international level? Do you prefer an older established charity or one that may be young but takes on an issue important to you?

2. Search for Charities that Match Your Preferences

Ask friends and family to refer a charity or look for charities on internet- based evaluators listed below. Be sure to identify charities that share your goal. Ask yourself whether they focus on the change you would like to affect. For example, does the charity focus on cancer research or providing mammograms for at risk women in certain communities? Come up with a short list of charities that meet your preferences.

3. Confirm Tax-Exempt Status

If you can’t find your charity on one of the online charity evaluators, do not be afraid to pick up the phone and call the charity. Smart donors confirm tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

4. Leadership Matters

Take a look at the charity’s Board of Directors and read their biographies. This will help you confirm quality and experience in leadership.

5. Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

Smart donors confirm the financial health of chosen charities. The most efficient charities spend at least 75% of their budge on programs and services. Less than 25% should be spent on fundraising, salaries and administrative fees. You do not want your hard earned money going to pay excessive overhead costs.

6. In it for the Long Haul? Start a Dialogue with Your Chosen Charity

If you see yourself in partnership with the charity, let them know your intentions and start engaging with the charity on their programs and monitor progress. As a smart donor, don’t be afraid to walk away if progress is not being made.

Resources: Charity Navigator Guidestar

“People can have an immediate and concrete impact on a problem by donating to a reputable charity.” Sue Hildick 63



tips for a stress-free gift giving season!

Gift Packaging & Photograph by Kathy Martin


ne of the most joyful parts of the holiday season is the opportunity to show love and appreciation for others by giving gifts. Selecting just the right gift for friends and family and delivering them on time can be overwhelming at any time of the year, but this is particularly true during the 64

holidays. Without a plan this tradition can quickly become a budget-blowing, headache-inducing situation. This year, however, time is on your side and House of Fifty is here to help! We hope the following tips will get this gift giving season off to great start.

the list Your first step to worry-free gift giving is to figure out who is on your list. Start by making a list of family, friends, teachers, neighbors, employees, business contacts and anyone

else that you’d like to show gratitude. This is a great time of year to express appreciation to all the people in your life.

a budget It is very easy to go over a budget, so some wise planning is very important. According to a recent Crucial Conversations Online Survey, more than sixty percent of people either overspend during the holidays or have a spouse or partner that does. To avoid this, use your list to create a realistic budget and game plan for purchasing gifts. How many gifts do you need to buy based on your list and what is your total budget? Typically you have specific levels of spending that people will naturally fall into: The big ticket items for immediate family, midrange gifts for those special people in your life, and then something thoughtful for those you want to acknowledge. To help stay on budget look for opportunities to be creative and save money. In this issue House of Fifty has provided gift ideas for the men, women and children in your life, as well

as hostess gift suggestions and a printable gift label to make the simple gift of a bottle of wine special. There are also delicious recipes to inspire a baking session and a collection of books that make wonderful gifts. Consider creating gifts as a family project and bundle a couple items together as a thoughtful gift to make someone feel special! Who doesn’t like receiving more than one gift? Once you’ve completed your list and budget, determine how many gifts you need to buy each week to feel comfortable that you have it all under control. Also, don’t forget to clarify with your partner who is responsible for buying gifts for “his” people. Finding out at the last moment that he was expecting you to find something wonderful for his mother will only send your stress levels and budget soaring out of control!

tips for large families Do you come from a large family? Does gift giving get out of control? Planning ahead means you might be able to arrange an alternative plan for giving, at least for the adults. Some families arrange a Secret Santa where

each adult gives and receives just one gift, instead of many. For other families on your list, consider giving one shared gift that everyone can enjoy together. 65


Gift Packaging & Photograph by Holly Mathis


what will you give? Start collecting gift ideas as early as you can, this is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. If in doubt about what someone would like, most people are happy to receive gift certificates or movie tickets. To be prepared for last minute gifts or someone you’ve forgotten, it’s

a great idea to have a few spare, all-purpose gifts up your sleeve. Some popular gift cards are from Amazon, iTunes or Starbucks and attractively presented foodie treats are always enjoyed.


a homemade gift The thought and effort behind a gift you’ve made can make the day for its recipient. Consider baking a batch of your favorite candy or

making holiday ornaments for neighbors and grandparents. Involve the children and start another family tradition.

shipping Determine which gifts will need to be shipped. Play it safe with shipping dates to avoid rush charges. If you’ll be flying to join family, should you carry them with you or ship most of the gifts in advance? Generally speaking, for packages to arrive by December 25th, you’ll need to ship by the 15th for USPS parcel post, and the 17th for FedEx Ground. Hanukkah starts on December 20th this year, so you’ll

need to allow about 10 days in advance of that date. If any of your gifts need to find their way to Alaska or Hawaii, add a bit more contingency time. Keep an eye on shipping dates and prioritize purchasing gifts which need to be mailed. These might be good ones to buy online, so that they can be sent directly to the recipient. 67


children’s expectations

If your budget or preferences indicate the children on your list won’t be getting everything they’ve asked for, talk to them ahead of time. They might value a special


simplify future holidays

As you’re planning your purchases, start keeping a list of what you give and receive each year – it makes each holiday season just a little easier. You could create a holiday


activity with Mom & Dad just as much and it’s important for them to realize that the holiday spending can have long-lasting implications.

binder to include ideas and gift lists. At the same time, review your gift wrapping supplies so that you don’t buy yet another roll of paper which isn’t needed.

your own wish list!

While you are at it, don’t forget to make your own wish list and let your nearest and dearest know where to find it. Consider

Gift Packaging & Photography by 68 Martin Kathy

using a site such as to manage you own lists as well as track the lists of family and friends.


let the shopping begin Depending on your point of view, this is where the real fun – or the real work - starts. But since you’ve made your lists and have a plan, you should be able to shop calmly and with purpose. Check off your list as you go and, if you dislike wrapping gifts, consider completing this task as you buy them. Just be sure to label

carefully! On the other hand, if you love to wrap presents, treat yourself to a “wrap party” and incorporate it into your holiday traditions with festive music and perhaps a glass of spiced apple cider or mulled wine.

need a little help? With so much going on at this time of year, be sure to get the help that you may need. Consider hiring a teenager to help out with baking, wrapping and shipping or to watch the kids

while you run errands. You will be less stressed and perhaps you’ll help someone earn the money they may need to purchase a few gifts of their own!

now relax and enjoy the true meaning of the season! Follow these steps and, by the time you’ve exchanged gifts with friends and family, your season is sure to be a joyous one!

a wish list & food gift ideas:





By Sue De Chiara

Max Leopard Print Wallet by Murval

Gold trim and a fun leopard print on satin make this sleek wallet a gift that will be enjoyed!

Coco Chanel Mademoiselle Parfum

This fresh oriental fragrance is a true classic.

Michael Kors Tortoise Ring

Modern lines of golden brass paired with a rich tortoise inset create a bold statement piece.

Leather Tassel & Brass Skull Keyfob by Alexander McQueen Attach to keys or a favorite tote for a dash of “edge”.

Pucci: A Renaissance in Fashion

Quickly becoming a collector’s item, this definitive book on Pucci is a wonderful gift for any lover of fashion.

Agate Trinket Box from The Zhush


This beautiful gold leaf box has a semi-precious smoky gray agate stone on top. A perfect spot to store little treasures.

Life’s Little Luxuries! Ikat Beaded Clutches from The Zhush

Bee Brooch from Kenneth Jay Lane

Add a pop of color and luxurious boho style to any outfit.

A Swarovski crystal-encrusted bee brooch is a glamorous take on the insect jewelry trend.

Starburst Earrings from The Zhush

Light up the night with a vintage inspired pair of sparkly earrings.

Votive Candle Holders by glassybaby

These little beauties come in an endless array of delicious colors!

Brights Leather iPad Cover from Graphic Image

Store favorite mobile devices in style when not in use!

Hummingbird Soaps from Diane James

Beautiful bars of soap are the epitome of luxury.


GIFT GUIDE: Boxitalia Gym Bag by Seletti


by Monika Claassen

A new handsome bag might inspire more frequent trips to the gym!

Shirt Shuttle from the Conran Shop

Sleek and functional! Pack shirts in a bag without creases.

Leather Punch Bag from the Conran Shop

Perfect as a stress reliever and for a better physique.

Attractive Key Ring by Tod’s

A classic that will never go out of style.

“Every year I struggle to come up with the perfect holiday gift for my husband. But this year I am ahead of the game and I hope you will find some inspiration too.” Monika Universal Remote Control/Bottle Opener by Clicker

Ladder Bookshelf from Restoration Hardware


Bring an industrial and masculine accent to the living room or den. (Just don’t tell him that it’s also chic!)

Yes, really! All in one. For the king of the couch, he will be so pleased!

Frames for Vinyl Records from Frame My Record

Dirty Laundry Bag with Hook from Ferm Living

Surprise him by framing some of his favorite old records! Perfect for the office.

Perhaps more laundry will end up in the bag if he is responsible for his own!

BeoSound 8 from Bang & Olufsen

The most handsome iPod dock around, beauty and technology in great harmony.

“Squeeze” Tumblers

Contemporary glass tumblers by leading Swedish crystal manufacturer Orrefors. The “squeeze look” started out as a designer mishap and is now a well known classic.

Striped ‘Fario’ Scraves from Hugo Boss Masculine & Handsome!

Culinary Class Just For Him

Enroll him in a local cooking class. Just make certain that part of the deal is sharing his newly acquired skills! 75

GIFT GUIDE: Tweens & Teens Girls by Sue De Chiara

Snow Globe Ring from the MoMA Store

This little bit of bling could not be any more fun!

Metallic Candy Travel Case from Dylan’s Candy Bar

Whether traveling or staying at home, this case is perfect for holding all her favorite beauty products.

Giant Panda Skin by skinit

Create a customized skin for any of her electronic devices!

Essie Nail Polish

What a great age to experiment with color!

Personalized Desk Pad from Dabney Lee


Encourage note taking and doodling with a paper pad customized with their name.

Magnetic Board + Magnet Set from The Zhush

Control clutter in the prettiest of ways‌

GIFT GUIDE: Tweens & Teens Boys by Joi Svezia

“The key to selecting gifts for

tween & teen girls and boys is finding a balance between the kid they are and the young adult they are becoming!” Joi

Mini Cooler from PBteen

Portable Electronic Skins by skinit

This website allows your tween/teen to customize his favorite electronic device with over 1,000 skin designs.

This small retro style cooler simply plugs into any outlet! Stores drinks and snacks for a study break.

UltraHD 8GB Flip Cam

A fun handheld camera allows kids to capture memories of themselves and their friends.

Geomate Jr. by Apisphere

Converse Sneakers

Stop by the Converse website and let your son get creative while customizing a pair of sneakers!

This handheld GPS geocaching device will encourage kids to get out of the house and look for scavenger hunt type clues. It’s a great opportunity to have some fun family time too!



The Little Ones!

By Kirsten Krason

Stacked Animal Wooden Puzzle

A classic & colorful wooden puzzle brought to you by Dwell Studio will have children and parents alike smiling.

Blabla Doll Cat

Every child loves a soft doll they can take to bed and this cuddly version made from natural fibers is sure to be a hit!

Lil’ Shopper Play Set

A fun play set featuring food that crinkles, jingles and chimes! Take along on a trip to the grocery store to make shopping easier for everyone. 78

Rainbow Stacker House

This wooden stackable house is a great toy to teach children the basic colors.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This classic book by Eric Carle is brought to life through fun pop-ups which will delight children.

Hippo Teether

A fun shaped wooden teether by Little Alouette is sure to become a baby’s favorite.

Colorful Abacus from Melissa & Doug

Cow Chime Ball from Skip*Hop

An adorable & cuddly animal ball that rolls while playing a soothing chime.

The perfect gift to make math fun! Children will be fascinated with sliding the bright wooden beads back and forth.

Hedgehog Push Toy

Peppy Five Counting Stacker

A colorful wooden stacker from Earthentree captures children’s imaginations while teaching counting and colors.

This sweet little rolling friend from Imaginationkids is perfect for babies or toddlers. The wheels allow this toy to follow them wherever they go! 79

Greeting Cards: A Holiday Tradition

By Pauline Wiles

Red Row House Holiday Card 80

The holiday season is the perfect time of year to send well wishes and share news with friends and family, both near and far, through the tradition of sending holiday cards. The logistics do require a bit of planning, however, if you’d like them to arrive before the holidays are over! To begin, make a list of everyone you’d like to send a card to so you will know how many cards to purchase. There are many wonderful designs on the market to choose from, and House of Fifty is sharing some of our favorites on the following pages! A detail you’ll need to decide upon is whether or not to include a family photo with your greeting card, a gesture which recipients enjoy. Do you already have a favorite photo on hand to get copies of or do you need to schedule a photo session? Including a newsletter is an addition that is also appreciated, particularly by those you don’t see often. You can make this a group project by delegating the writing to various family members, with each contributing a paragraph to the letter. As an alternative, consider sending your holiday greetings though email. Get creative and design a year end newsletter by collecting your photos from the past year and

add some fun graphics to tell a story that is unique and personal. An increasingly popular approach is to have a customized card printed featuring a favorite photo. If this is the route you plan to take, what printing company will you use? Some good resources are listed below. Just make sure that you don’t delay, it’s time to get the cards printed now! To ensure that your cards arrive on time, plan to send international cards first, as first-class mail cut-off dates can be as early as the first week of December, depending on the destination. Next mail cards which are heading out-of-state and leave your own city until last. For many of your local cards, consider creating another family tradition by delivering these in person. To help you stay organized for future holidays, make sure to record important information, such as a change of address or new baby names, as you receive cards. Do this and you’ll be all set for next year! Finally, make sure to have a few extra cards on hand. This will have you ready to send greetings to those you may have forgotten to put on your list as cards begin to arrive at your home!

Custom Photo Holiday Card Resources: 81

House of Fifty Favorite Finds: Holiday Cards!

Colorful Ikat

Golden Partridge in a Pear Tree

from The Met Museum Store “Season’s Greetings”

from Paper Source Not every card has to be strictly “holiday”, pick one that fits your style and write a personalized greeting!

The customizable

“Keep Calm and Kiss On” Holiday Card from 3LampsGraphics

The Avian

from The Met Museum Store 82 “Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!”

“A collection of beautifully designed cards to get you inspired to grab a pen and start writing!”

Red Row House

from the Met Museum Store “Happy Holidays!”

Peace, Dove & Understanding

from man vs. george design “Peace On Earth”

Gingerbread House from Snow & Graham

Winter Cardinals

from The Met Museum Store “Season’s Greetings”

Typography Holiday Card

from Paper Source “Let Us Celebrate All That Is To Come!”

“Warm Wishes for a Holiday filled with Comfort & Joy”

For all you’ve received, be ready to say

“Thank You”

from the Rifle Paper Co. 83


Show Your Appreciation with Style!


By Courtney Fernan

Photography by Sheila White

arty season is upon us and whether it’s a casual dinner at a neighbor’s home or a sparkly cocktail party, arriving with a hostess gift is a sweet and simple way to thank your host for opening their home. We all know that entertaining requires time and effort and, with a little of your own, you can arrive at the next party with something special and stylish in your hands to show appreciation! 84


Gourmet Olive Oil Gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars are making a big splash these days. Even if your host is not a gourmet cook, they will love receiving an infused bottle of olive oil or vinegar. From salads to pasta to appetizers, the uses are endless. Write out a favorite recipe and tie it to the bottle. You can find many options at 41olive.

RECIPE FOR DIPPING OIL 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

½ cup olive oil 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1 large clove garlic, finely minced ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary ¼ teaspoon coarse salt ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Printable Recipe Cards: Click and Print! 85


A Bottle of Wine

It’s no secret that arriving with a bottle of wine is the easiest approach to a hostess gift. And why not? People love receiving a festive bottle of wine. So stock up on a few extra bottles so you have them on hand. Add a thoughtful touch by adding a great looking tag, with a hand written message of thanks and cheer on the back!



Beautifully Patterned Bowls

Stylish mini bowls are a find that never go out of style. Show up with one tucked into a pretty little gift bag. The uses for these beautiful bowls are endless and they add a fresh look to any room in the home.

We love the Atom Art Bowls from Anthropologie


Designer Gift Tags Everyone loves to give and receive gorgeous gifts. These beautifully designed gift tags will add a chic touch to any present. This set comes with six different styles and are available from Pixelimpress. Your hostess will appreciate receiving something that will make gift wrapping that much easier. 87


A Breakfast Basket Let’s face it. The host will undoubtedly be tired the morning after the big party. Why not spoil them with a breakfast basket full of goodies? A package of scones and scrumptious jams or chocolate spread is sure to make their morning brighter. This basket was put together for just $20 with finds from World Market.

TIPS TO REMEMBER: Be prepared! Have a few gifts on hand and take a moment to include a handwritten note.

It’s best to avoid freshly cut flowers. The hostess won’t have time to locate a vase, cut and arrange them during the party. Instead, stick to a beautiful potted plant like a poinsettia or orchid.

“Stylish gifts don’t need to break the bank or add stress to your holiday season. With these simple ideas you will not only be prepared, but arrive with a thoughtful and appropriate gift which is sure to make a big impression. Cheers to the most wonderful time of the year!”



Find wonderful gift ideas

from pixelimpress! 89

dress up your walls 90



we love our sponsors!


50 Ideas for Giving: 1. Giving is often better than Getting 2. Organize a Neighborhood Garage Sale & Donate the Proceeds to a Local Charity

3. wash your partner’s car!

4. Become a Big Sister 5. Buy food for a homeless person

6. Give the gift of patience

7. Treat someone to a Luxury they couldn’t otherwise afford 8. Offer to watch the neighbor’s children for an afternoon

9. Find a way to volunteer in your community 10. Be polite on the road! 11. Include as many people as possible in your celebrations 12. Be a Mentor to Someone

13. Collect coats to donate

14. After shoveling your own driveway, continue with your neighbors 15. Remember to say “Thank you!” 16. Volunteer in your child’s classroom

17. Give a generous tip

18. Be the “Designated Driver” 19. Pass on a gift card to someone who needs it more 20. Hold the door open for others

21. Give Credit Where Credit is Due

22. Go through your closet and donate unused clothing to Goodwill

23. Tutor a child

24. Pick up groceries for a neighbor

25. Select a charity to give to regularly, even if it is a small amount 92

This Holiday & All Year 26. be generous with compliments, often

27. Give away your parking spot

28. Volunteer to read at the local library

29. Transport someone who can’t drive

30. Donate to a food bank

31. Cancel a debt: this could be as simply as covering the shortage of the person in front of you in line at a store

32. Bring a plate of home baked treats to work

33. Apologize More

34. Walk the dog of a sick friend

35. Say thank you to the people who serve us 36. Make & Deliver a Delicious Hot Meal to a New Mother 37. Smile & say “hello” to the people you encounter during your day

38. Pay the toll for the person behind you

39. Start a Piggy Bank

for a Cause

40. Give away the books you’ve read 41. Let someone go before you in line 43. offer to do a chore for someone

42. Take someone to a movie

44. Host a Cookie Exchange

45. Pay for the stranger’s coffee behind you in line 46. When a store asks, donate that $1 to the cause they are supporting 47. Visit someone who may be lonely

48. Leave change in a vending machine

49. Give a pair of tickets to an event someone will enjoy! 50. Choose an organization such as World Vision or Compassion to sponsor a child



By Mimi Inman

“This season, who wouldn’t love waking up to find a few of these treasures in their Stocking?”





GOURMET SALT SAMPLER Sprinkle a bit over bread before baking, adding a pretty crunch!

Perfect for close-ups & looks great sitting on a big stack of books.





5. LA MER, ‘THE EYE BALM INTENSE’ Yes, my skin would be happy to find this Luxury in my stocking!



What hand doesn’t love a little happy bling?


8. 9.

‘PARISIAN CHIC’ BY INES DE LA FRESSANGE Need a little guidance in finding your effortless style?



“I adore my Holiday Stocking found during a previous season at Anthropologie!”

My favorite? Silk Road Caravan.


iPHONE COVER BY KATE SPADE Let’s talk in Style!


Boots, Fabulous BOOTS! By Jennifer Rosson Miz Mooz ‘Kira’

Riding Boots A wardrobe essential. I love the color of this rich, handburnished leather!

‘Joan of Arctic’ by Sorel

Style your cold weather boots with patterned tights, skinny jeans or leggings!

Isle Jacobsen

A classic silhouette with mixed materials. This style is a very close match to a pair by Jimmy Choo!


Dressy ankle boots are perfect with this season’s Little Black Dress.

Channel your inner cowgirl with Pair with a skirt, boot cut jeans or leggings & a sweater to stride in style.

Arait’s Western Boots.

Gone are the days of the boring rain boot! This pair by is found at Splendid Willow Ave.

Vaneli ‘Eanna’ Stretch Boot


Instantly update your winter wardrobe with a favorite pair of boots! Given the amazing range of available styles, there is sure to be a perfect match for everyone.

‘Denton Motorcycle Boots’ A great way to add that little bit of “Rocker Chic” to your wardrobe.

OTBT ‘Clarksville’

A sophisticated pair of Combat Boots!

Olive ‘Wrap Boots’ from Toms

Paul Green ‘Jayden’ Bootie

A lace up suede boot becomes a go-to winter essential.

This darling pair makes a great gift because every pair you buy, a pair of shoes will go to a child in need.

Miz Mooz ‘Siri’

This feminine prairie inspired boot has a thin faux fur liner to keep your feet toasty during cold days.

Adina ‘Leopard Ankle Boot’

Stacked heels & gold zippers add up to fun!


house of lolo

by Janell Beals


aurie Moulton recently saw her dream of launching a business in fashion come true when she opened the doors of ‘house of lolo’ in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon. The boutique, named after Laurie’s childhood nickname of “Lolo”, is quickly becoming a favorite resource for locals with its affordable selection of styles embracing contemporary chic glamour with a vintage inspired twist. From the carefully edited collection of feminine and edgy styles, a customer can easily mix pieces to create a unique and personalized look. ‘house of lolo’ provides this service by carrying a wide range of vendors, with up to 35 designers represented in the boutique at any given time. Laurie selects only her 98

absolute favorite styles from a vendor’s line and purchases just six to eight pieces of each. With inventory constantly changing the store remains fresh, new items coming in nearly daily. Customers have quickly learned that if they love an item they had better grab it now because it will more than likely be gone on a return trip in a day or two. This has created a repeat customer base right from the start; shoppers know they will find a wide variety of new items upon their return. The idea of mixing contemporary design with vintage and feminine glamour in the clothing selection is also the concept behind the design of the boutique. The result is a visually inspiring and welcoming environment in which to shop.





Laurie knew from a young age that she wanted to work in fashion. But she found drawing to be a challenge, while math came easily to her. By college she had squashed the dream of pursuing a career in a creative field and followed her skills in math and numbers, building a strong career in finance. She never forgot her original ambitions however and, at the back of her mind was the idea that someday there would be the time to follow her dream. As the years went by and she had a family, she found the pressures of her career becoming too demanding. Long hours and frequent travel resulted in more time away from family than she felt was good. Continuing on this path was a risk she didn’t want to take as her children grew older. Ready to make a lifestyle and career change, Laurie and her husband Chris began researching their options. As a family they were already looking for a business to invest in, which proved to be helpful in having this venture fall into place. The timing is not always right to make such a move, but, according to Laurie, “When it is, you just have to take the leap of faith and go for it.” One thing Laurie knew without a doubt, that to successfully open a new boutique in the current economic environment the product mix and pricing would have to be right. “Marrying the right price with the right look is crucial. The goal is to bring in styles that look expensive but aren’t. I haven’t made this store about the basics, we’ve made it about the special pieces. One of the main motivations behind the new business venture was the desire to be there when the kids got home from school. This priority was an important part of the planning and budgeting process from the start, ensuring Laurie the ability to find and hire great help to allow for flexibility in her work schedule. Laurie

works at the store Monday through Friday from 10 to 3, with her staff assisting during the week and running the store on weekends. “The key is to find a great staff, and then trust them and give them opportunities to grow with the business. You can’t control everything. You have to be able to choose the right staff, delegate, and let them run with it.”

Marrying the right price with the right look is crucial.



With many women going into business for themselves or considering doing so, I asked Laurie to share her advice on what to be aware of before proceeding:


Understand how you are going to fund the business yourself, or where funding is coming from so you know how much you can spend. Start this process very early on.

2. 3. 4.

Change your vision of the business idea based on the answer to number one.

Budget, budget, budget! Review and tweak! Take an educated risk. Understand what risks you can take to get the biggest bang for your buck, but know your back-up plan.


Understand your demographic/clientele and be flexible and willing to alter the business model to meet your customer base. 105

I think I’ve been convinced to become a ‘house of lolo’ customer!


What does Laurie see for the future of ‘house of lolo’? Looking at this venture through the eyes of a woman with a strong background in business and finance, she aims to expand upon what they have built in Portland. She and Chris are currently working on plans to open a second boutique next year, with the goal of having three locations by 2014. The ‘house of lolo’ website has also just been launched, with a convenient styling twist. Local customers who prefer a hands on shopping experience can reserve favorite looks online and schedule a personal styling appointment at the boutique. Their selections will be pulled and styled with additional pieces to create a customized look.

What are Laurie’s favorite looks for the holidays?

“Glam it up! Sequins,metallics, velvets,faux fur…think old Hollywood,upda ted, for sophistica ted glamour!”


laurie moulton’s favorite mix & match finds: LOOK 1:


lack Tie

BSABLE Faux Fur Jacket Ani Lee’s ‘Kora’ Silk Chiffon Dress

House of Harlow ‘Val’ Clutch

Cleo Fringe Earrings by Stella & Dot Vanessa Mooney’s ‘Mayan Half Moon’ Necklace

Luichiny ‘Lights Out’ 108 Suede Platforms

“ Black Tie –

Timeless Old Hollywood Glamour with a Modern Twist

get inspired to dress up this holiday season! LOOK 2:



Vanessa Mooney’s ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ Necklace

BB Dakota Vintage Inspired Pleated Party Dress


Party – Elegant, Feminine and Very On Trend

Rebecca Minkoff ‘Proposal’ Clutch Sarrina Suede Pumps by Steve Madden

House of Harlow Bangles

BSABLE Faux Fur Jacket

Vanessa Mooney’s ‘Tassel’ Earrings 109


Night out on the town

BSABLE Faux Fur Jacket Aryn K Silk Tie Blouse House of Harlow Bangles

Vanessa Mooney’s ‘Tassel’ Earrings

Sarrina Suede Pumps by Steve Madden Rebecca Minkoff ‘Proposal’ Clutch

C 110

ocktails with the Girls – Chic & Feminine with an Edgy Flair

Denim Black Pleather Pants



lizabeth Perry was inspired to begin creating jewelry from a collection of gems and heritage pieces given to her by her grandmother. Through repurposing and reimagining, she was able to craft many unique and updated styles. Surrounded by women entrepreneurs in her family, who saw her eye for design, Elizabeth was encouraged to continue pursuing this creative interest. Over the following years, time spent working on their ventures helped her develop the proper street smarts and business savvy that proved invaluable when she later launched her own business. Before Elizabeth turned making jewelry into a business however, the passion was simply a hobby. Friends and family, knowing of her gift to make beautiful things, would often ask her to create pieces for various occasions. Each request would be answered by a handcrafted piece suiting the receiver’s personality and presented adorned with thoughtful and creative wrapping. After enough requests were filled, it simply became natural to take the next step with the creation of Elizabeth Perry Collections. A few years later, each piece Elizabeth produces is still designed, handcrafted and presented to her clients with passion and purpose. Her mission is to build the line into a brand of adornments that will draw out the confidence and creativity of the woman wearing these designs.


creativity 111

Elizabeth finds inspiration for her designs in the classic elegance of old Hollywood glamour, as well as simple everyday moments with her husband Chris and their son. She cherishes her roles as a wife and mother and does her best to create a balance between family life and building the business. It’s not always easy, but she has found keeping to a routine, staying organized and having a dedicated workspace that caters to her needs helps her to stay focused and productive. “First of all, I keep in mind that my top priorities are my family and home. If those are in order first, it translates to the business in a very positive way. We all want to be Superwoman, but it just isn’t possible without living an unbalanced life. I take breaks when I need to, hire help when I have to and say no when I want to.” When asked what she has done to make her business a success, Elizabeth says she has adapted to an ever changing, fast-paced online based society. The company maintains


a full service website, Etsy shop, Facebook fan page and Twitter account, along with a business blog and LinkedIn profile. It’s a lot to manage, but doing so is an effective way for small businesses to compete in the current marketplace. Elizabeth aims to do everything with excellence and purpose. The company offers pieces with quality materials in a competitive and affordable price range. All the styles are priced under $100, with most items falling in the $18 to $74 range. “Our goal is to be unique, memorable and intentional, from our recycled packaging to our letterpress business cards. I don’t want to feel like I have to sell my name; the name should speak for itself.”

“I take breaks when I need to, hire help when I have to and say no when I want to.”

“I have a special place in my heart for the classic elegance of old Hollywood glamour. Part of my reasoning for including genuine vintage materials in my collections is that they translate timelessness.� 113

“It is the simplicity of everyday life that often inspires me most. It could be the colors of the changing leaves, a display seen at Anthropologie or something as sweet as my son’s icecream cone!” 114

When asked what advice she has for others in business for themselves, Elizabeth shares, “Surround yourself with people that support and challenge you. I am assembling a board of advisors made up of men and women that I trust, with different strengths in their personal and professional lives that will aid and guide Elizabeth Perry Collections on many levels. In addition, don’t feel pressured to raise a small fortune to get going. Steward what you’ve been given and you could turn a little into a lot. These things take time, but stay the course and your business will grow steadily, which is far better than some silly trick to quick money. Also don’t be afraid to take risks. Of course I mean risks that have been thought out, that you’ve been advised on and which are backed with wisdom. And… remember to have fun! Taking time off will help you relax and be inspired to come back and reinvest in your business with a renewed energy.”

...don’t be afraid to take risks! 115


“We all need to be reminded to invest in ourselves and our dreams! I would love to think my pieces can be a simple reminder that we are all beautiful and can achieve the deepest desires of our hearts.� Elizabeth 117



From Around the World

t seems as if the world is literally becoming smaller with each day, making it just as possible to become acquainted with a person half way around the globe as it is with someone around the corner. As I begin to make preparations to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family, I’m curious to learn more about how the holidays are celebrated at this time of year in other regions. Reaching out to two women I’ve gotten to know through their blogs, Sukaina in Dubai and Meenal in Delhi, this is what I found: Many traditions, such as decorating our homes, enjoying time with family and friends, and showing appreciation through the sharing of food and gifts, remain a constant through our varied cultures.

Janell Beals




Sukaina Rajabali

This year I’m inviting you into my home to celebrate Eid al Adha with my family. Come take a peek into my kitchen as we prepare sweet treats eaten during this festival. First I’m baking crunchy pistachio cookies with pistachio butter cream, a melt in your mouth perfection. Then I’m preparing truffles with a difference, sweetened vermicelli paired with chopped almonds and pistachios. Add some fluffy coconut to the mix and you have an eclectic truffle, delicious! Eid Mubarak: “May you enjoy a blessed festival.” Eid al Adha is an important Muslim holiday celebrated worldwide to commemorate Abraham’s devotion to God and his willingness to sacrifice his own son. Just before the sacrifice could take place Abraham’s son was spared when God intervened, replacing Ishmael with a ram. Each year millions of Muslims gather, representing different cultures and races, to celebrate this holiday which culminates a three-day pilgrimage to Mecca that is required of all Muslims at least once in their lifetime. All dress in white to represent human equality. On this Eid (or Festival), a lamb is sacrificed and its meat is divided into three parts: One share is retained by the family, another third is

given to friends, relatives and neighbors, and the final third is given to the poor and needy. These acts are meant to commemorate the obedience of Abraham and express charity, an important pillar of the Islam faith. Even if a Muslim is not in Mecca carrying out the pilgrimage, the holiday and festivities are still celebrated around the world. People adorn their finest clothes on this day and women decorate their hands with exotic henna designs. The day begins with special prayers carried out at mosques before families and friends gather to exchange greetings and gifts. Food is an important part of any festival, a celebration around which families bond; it drives conversation and camaraderie, helping to create unforgettable memories. Food brings families together and lunch menus on this day generally consist of biryani and sweet vermicelli, jalebis and samosas. Sweet bites such as cookies, chocolate bars and cakes are also prepared as nibbles for visiting relatives. And Eid isn’t the same without presents! Children enthusiastically tear through the wrapping paper to get to their treasures, with the adults counting their cash to give away.

Food is an important part of any celebra tion!





Butter Cookies: 2 sticks + 2 tbs butter, room temperature ½ cup sugar 1 egg ½ tsp pistachio or vanilla essence 2 ½ - 3 cups all purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add essence of your choice and with the mixer turned to low, add 2 ½ cups of flour. Keep adding the flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl. Put the batter into a piping bag and using a 1M Open Star Tip, pipe 1-inch swirls one inch apart on the baking sheet. As an

Pistachio Buttercream: 4 tbs butter, room temperature ½ cup + 1 tbs confectioners sugar 3 tsp pistachio powder ½ tsp pistachio essence Drop of green food coloring Chopped pistachios for serving alternative, roll out the dough up to ¼ inch thick onto at lightly floured surface. Then use a cookie cutter to cut into desired shapes and place on your baking tray. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown on the edges. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting. To make the butter cream, beat the butter on high speed using the paddle attachment until fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until airy. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat for a further minute or two. Pipe onto cookies using a piping bag and the1M Open Star Tip. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Makes 30 single cookies or 15 sandwich cookies.







3 tbs butter 1 ½ cups vermicelli 1 cup shredded coconut ¼ cup chopped almonds ¼ cup chopped pistachios 5 fl oz or 5/8 cup condensed milk Extra shredded coconut for dusting


Melt butter in a pan and fry the vermicelli until brown and cooked. Use a wooden spoon to

keep stirring and breaking the vermicelli as you don’t want it too brown too quickly. Take the mixture off the heat and let it cool before adding the remaining ingredients. Stir well. Use your hands to shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in shredded coconut before serving. Note: Press the mixture between your hands to form a ball. If it is still difficult to make the truffle, you can add more condensed milk to the mixture to help form the truffles. Makes approximately 28-30 truffles depending on size. Enjoy!





In a country with such diverse cultures as India, each with its fair share of stories, legends and deities, it is no surprise that every day there is a festival celebrated somewhere in India. Yet none rivals the beauty and grandeur that is the ‘Festival of Lights’, Diwali, a celebration signifying the triumph of light over darkness. Celebrated during a new moon between mid-October and mid-November, it is a festival that flows out of a glorious legend and encompasses beautiful customs. 128


Meenal Bishnoi

Though there are many legends associated with the history of the festival, the most widely accepted and popular story of Diwali has its origins in the Ramayana, the great Hindu epic that relates the life story of Lord Rama, the virtuous king of Ayodhya. When Lord Rama returned to his kingdom after 14 years of exile, having rescued his wife Sita from the clutches of the demon king Ravana during an epic battle between good and evil, the people of Ayodhya illuminated the whole kingdom with

earthen lamps and celebrated the return of their beloved king by distributing sweets and bursting fire crackers. Diwali literally translates to “row of lamps” and this is the most compelling image one conjures up whenever Diwali is mentioned. Visualize rows upon rows of beautiful diyas (earthen lamps), lanterns, candles and fairy lights flickering away inside and outside homes, streets, markets, places of worship and even prominent government buildings. It truly is a magnificent sight.

“Diwali literally transla tes to “row of lamps”,and this is the most compelling image one conjures up whenever Diwali is mentioned!” Clay diyas and colorful lanterns, Photography by Rosh Ravindran




Preparations for Diwali starts days in advance with the sprucing up of homes and shopping for new clothes, gifts and decorative lamps. Some of my fondest childhood memories of Diwali are about the days of activities leading up to the big day and those numerous trips to the markets and colorful Diwali Melas (fairs). The day of the main festival is often hectic with last minute sweets being made in the kitchen, and diyas being filled with oil for lighting in the evening. Garlands made from marigolds, roses and banana leaves are strung around the house. Apart from the lights and flowers, another traditional decoration common to Diwali is Rangoli, where a beautiful rendition of a traditional pattern is created with powders, flowers and diyas. These Rangolis often grace the entrance to the house as a sign of welcome not only to the guests but the Goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to visit and bless all illuminated homes on this auspicious day. Evening is the time for the festivities to begin. Everyone is dressed in their new traditional clothes, all lights are turned on and diyas and candles are lit. Families gather to celebrate this beautiful festival by praying and feasting together.

A Rangoli surrounded by diyas, Photography by Mamta Malhotra



The celebration of Diwali Puja, the ceremonial act of showing reverence to a God or Goddess, begins with the family congregating to pray to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha for prosperity, peace and happiness. Along with these prayers, sweets are offered to the deities and then shared among family, friends and neighbors. The Puja is followed by the Diwali feast, which is a very elaborate affair comprised of numerous delicacies and a wide variety of sweets. After the feast comes the most anticipated tradition of Diwali, which is the bursting of fire

crackers. In a tradition as old as the festival itself, people of all age groups and strata of the society participate in the firework displays which illuminate the night sky. The sound and light produced is believed to be an expression of obedience to the heavens. Diwali is a festival that illuminates our homes, cities, skies and our souls; it is truly a “Festival of Lights”. Wherever you may live, if you come across a home decorated with lights in the late fall, there’s a good chance that an Indian family is celebrating Diwali, awaiting a visit from the goddess of prosperity and peace.

Fireworks light up the sky in Mumbai, Photography by Abhijits Dharmadhikari

“Diwali is a festivaltha t illumina tes our homes,cities, skies and our souls; it is truly a Festivalof Lights.” 134





a wise investment



hy is it that many of us find it hard to commit the time and resources to treat ourselves the best way possible, yet have no problem ensuring that the others in our lives have all they need? This mindset extends to so many facets of our lives, including taking care of our bodies. Until recently, I placed heading off to a spa or visiting a massage therapist for a treatment in the category of pampering, and found it hard to warrant much of anything that fell into this category fitting into my daily life. As a matter of fact, my experience with getting a massage has been limited to special events; a group of girlfriends enjoying a few hours at a spa to celebrate a birthday or other special event and a rare treat while on vacation. Such was the case on my last birthday! Several girlfriends surprised me with a wonderful afternoon at a local spa, followed

by a delicious dinner at a nearby restaurant. Arranging the event through my husband, he suggested they book a deep tissue massage for me. I’d been working hard and he thought perhaps this would be a perfect way to get me to relax. During my massage, however, I soon realized I wasn’t likely to be lulled into a slumber while the woman worked away on my tight muscles. Always thinking, I was not able to stop my inquisitive mind and began to wonder about the point of it all. So I spoke up, “Remind me again, besides the fact this is supposed to relax me and make me feel great, what specifically are the benefits of getting a massage?” I figured I might as well start up a conversation. Perhaps I’d learn a thing or two while being distracted from the occasional discomfort of the process!

...what specifically are the benefits of getting a massage?


The wealth of information the therapist shared with me was surprising and interesting, prompting me to further investigate the benefits of massage after leaving the spa. What I learned is that while more research continues to be done, most practitioners claim that massage therapy can help improve digestion, reduce blood pressure, improve circulation and increase lymph flow. Other benefits include helping muscles to relax, improving their range of motion and increasing flexibility of the joints, which can help one perform better while exercising for improved results. Getting a massage can also release toxins, which is why it is so important to drink a lot of water after a massage. Additionally, it has a positive effect on reducing stress and anxiety. Throughout history people have enjoyed the healing benefits of massage therapy as a key 138

component of many physical rehabilitation programs. In contrast, today it is more widely considered as simply a way to relax and reduce stress. However many people, including myself, are starting to recognize its value as another avenue to consider in maintaining a healthy body. Along with eating right and getting enough exercise, massage therapy can be another piece of the puzzle to enjoying your best health. There are many types of massage, with the more popular being Swedish, Deep Tissue, Sports Massage, Medical Massage and Reflexology, each with their unique focus and corresponding benefits. Some therapies, however, should be avoided if you have certain conditions. Because of this, it is wise to do some research to understand which type of massage is best for you before stepping into a spa or visiting a massage therapist.

I enjoyed returning to the same spa, with one of the local contributors to this magazine, as a rewarding way to celebrate the release of the fall issue. We had such a great time, along with the benefit of getting recharged, that we’ve decided to make it a tradition with the release of each new issue! So for now, even if I only find myself

Additional Resources:

embracing this time-proven approach to maintaining good health merely as a celebration, I’m headed in the right direction! For the rest of you, here’s an idea! With the holiday season upon us, a trip to a spa or a massage therapist is a great gift idea to consider adding to your wish list. It will be on mine.

There are many types of massage including: 1. SWEDISH 2. DEEP TISSUE 3. SPORTS MASSAGE 4. MEDICAL MASSAGE 5. REFLEXOLOGY

which one is right for you? 139




Why do we love her blog? Michelle Armas, author of the blog ‘Armas Design’, is one talented artist and busy lady! Her blog is where she shares the inspiration behind her latest paintings, the process of creating a first home and all that comes her way.

“I started blogging because I was working at home and was bored. It was like hey, I can post pretty pictures too! It turned into a more honest chat with my readers about living, loving art and design, doing stuff; cooking, eating, making things look pretty, remodeling a house, painting...all the usual!”

Michelle 141

Why do we love her blog?

On her blog. ‘Lay Baby Lay’, Joni shares the most delightfully inspiring design boards for nurseries and children’s spaces that can be found! Each space is designed with the idea of creating rooms that can adapt well beyond the crib stage. When asked about the inspiration for her own daughter’s nursery, she said: 142

“I knew I would be spending quite a bit of time in my baby’s nursery too. So I wanted it to be a space that made me feel happy and uplifted as well as a space that would make Vivi feel loved and spark her imagination as she grows.”


Joni designed this board with watercolors, flowers and the happiest of colors in mind!

“Abby wanted to put together a shared Boy/ Girl Room for her two year old twins, until her youngest baby boy can move in with his older brother. The details on this board skew a little feminine, but keeping the linens and lighting tailored makes a neutral room that can easily be turned into a more girly space once Chloe has a room of her own.� 143

Why do we love her blog? Jessie’s blog is a jewel among the vast number of inspirational blogs out there. Spotlighting the best interior designers and the newest and coolest product designs, ‘Mix And Chic’ is the blog that will keep you in the know for all things interior design related!

Jessie’s home is filled with unique and fun finds including a rug featuring gorgeous colors in an attention grabbing pattern.

“The spaces, interiors and products I blog about reflect my own personal taste and aesthetics. My blog features a myriad of interiors in many styles and eras because my own decorating style is quite eclectic as well.” 144


Why do we love their blog? Wanting to be surrounded by nature’s beauty and the ability to experience all four seasons, Joan and Dan left Texas and moved to New Hampshire. That move led to a love affair with an antique farmhouse that was in need of major repair. Their blog, ‘For the Love of a House’, chronicles the adventures of turning a rundown farmhouse into their picturesque dream home!



‘‘For the Love of A House’, now this is a bathroom!

When asked what their favorite room in the house is Joan responded, “Dan has asked me this before and that’s a tough one as I really love them all. I guess it would be a toss-up between the master bedroom and master bath…and the kitchen. But, then there’s the barn room, which we are in the midst of renovating. It is turning out to be pretty magical!”

A Barn Room? We’re off to check in on the progress of that project!



By Lakeitha Duncan Photography by Patti Simmons


here is a company called ‘Little Alouette’ that is changing the way we think of the toys we give our tots. Founders Amy and Joe Sharp’s collection of environmentally friendly and organic wooden blocks, teethers, and learning tools has struck a chord with today’s consumer. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Amy, who shared how ‘Little Alouette’ has become a favorite among mothers and babies alike.

Lakeitha: How did you and your husband

come up with the idea to start ‘Little Alouette’ 148

A Toy Story

and how did you turn this concept into a reality?

Amy: ‘Little Alouette’ was born out of wants

and needs. We had just had another baby and I left my career to be able to stay at home. It really was not a great idea, financially. But we quickly realized that our toys, which we had previously only made for ourselves and for family and friends, were items that everyone loved. Perhaps we could make and sell them to help us get through the tough times.


Amy, the first thing I notice about you is your infectious personality! Is your husband the same way? If so, how does that translate to your business?


Well thanks! My Joe also has an outgoing personality…as well as being a talented and classically trained carpenter. He has lots of fun with his work and is able to stay positive while leading the indie life better than anyone I know. I think being happy with what you are doing just seeps into other parts of your life.

Q: A:

Being a husband and wife business, is it challenging at times working together or do you have a system so that things run smoothly? I think giving each other space to be alone is important. These days we are working more separate than ever. We have a new workshop outside of our home and Joe works there, while I work from a home office, or the playground or coffee shops with kiddos in tow! It is challenging but sweet to work with your partner. I also think having a meeting time to cover business issues is important, and a date time on the weekly calendar is ace. Amy and Joe believe that it is very important to pass on their knowledge through workshops for the “wee ones” and make sure to include education about the importance of recycling. The toys made by ‘Little Alouette’ are environmentally friendly, using locally sustainable farmed timber and finished with non-toxic organic flax seed oil. They also use local “Each product is made by hand and usually businesses for the company’s printing and all the wood is surrounded by cups of tea, packaging and donate the sawdust created through the process of making the toys to local laughing children, and disco music so each companies for other uses.

product will come to you infused with love 149 and bliss!”

When asked why Amy believes ‘Little Alouette’ has been so successful, she shares her perspective that timing is often the key to a successful business. In 2007 ‘Little Alouette’ reinvented the way of thinking about natural toys. They breathed life back into the wooden teething industry by creating the first modern and fun shaped toys that the country had 150

seen in a long time. Future goals include a line of furniture, getting help with production and having the toys seen at the major toy fairs. Amy is also grateful to be a part of the online blogging community, surrounded by amazing people and moms who have helped “push our toys all around the world!”


Finally, I can’t help but ask the working mom question so here it is: How do you balance a successful business and raising three “wee ones” of your own?


With three boys, there isn’t really much balance. I think just finding a rhythm of your own is best. Asking for help, being open to change, and not worrying so much are a few things that helped me. And don’t forget to play and have fun!

“…don’t forget to play and have fun!”


Countdown to Christmas The Modern Advent Calendar

By Courtney Fernan

5. 4. 3. 2. 1.


Photography by Sheila White

Ho Ho Ho!


ave you started the Countdown to Christmas? With shopping, planning, hosting, wrapping and baking, there is always something to be checked off of the list. ‘Tis the season for hustle and bustle! In fact, there seems to be so much to accomplish during the holiday season that it’s easy to lose track of what is truly important.

In an effort to restore together time and a sense of giving, many families are reinventing the Advent calendar. While the Advent calendar has been around for generations, families are now using the Countdown to Christmas as a creative way to infuse special moments into the busy month of December.

don’t forget!

The History of the Advent Calendar I am sure many of us have fond memories of growing up with Advent calendars that had pieces of chocolate tucked behind little doors. The tradition of the Advent calendar began in Germany in the 19th century when Gerhard Lang produced the first printed calendar. As a child, his mother would attach pieces of candy to cardboard during each day in December.

During World War II these calendars were no longer produced, but were revived in 1946 when Richard Sellmer began producing an Advent calendar with a photo of President Eisenhower’s grandchildren, bringing the tradition to the United States. Sellmer’s company still offers these calendars online to this day! 153


A New Take on an Old Tradition! While Advent calendars have been around for over 150 years, my family’s favorite part of the holiday season last year was our new take on the Advent calendar! The concept is really quite simple, making a list of 24 activities for a family to do together. The activities I chose were fun and mostly free, with the benefit that they caused us to slow down and enjoy time together as a family. The activities included baking cookies, singing Christmas songs

around the piano, writing a letter to Santa, taking treats to the neighbors, building gingerbread houses and sipping hot cocoa under the tree. In addition to these activities, this year I plan to incorporate ideas that encourage us to give to others. Delivering Christmas cookies to a retirement home is one of the ideas and will be time well spent. After all, isn’t it a giving spirit that we hope to foster in our children?

To create an Advent calendar, write a list of 24 activities to complete as a family. Make sure they are things you will enjoy doing and that they won’t create more work for yourself! As

a tip, fun holiday crafts and supplies for other activities can be found during an inexpensive trip to the dollar store. Here is a list of ideas to get you started:

How to Create Your Own Advent Calendar


1. Make holiday artwork to hang 2. Donate toys to a women’s shelter 3. Visit Santa Claus 4. Bake a coffee cake together to have for breakfast in the morning 5. Write a letter to someone special and mail it 6. Collect toys and give to ‘Toys For Tots’ 7. Show up at Grandma & + Grandpa’s door to sing carols 8. Make an ornament to hang on the tree 9. Play a board game together 10. Snuggle up and watch a favorite holiday movie

Write the 24 activities on slips of paper and assign each a number. Just be sure to glance at your calendar and place easier activities on a night when you have a holiday party or might be especially busy. Last year, on a night we were headed to a party the activity was, “Take a drive to look at Christmas Lights.” We left ten minutes early and enjoyed driving around while listening to Christmas music in the car.

Be Creative with the Packaging!

Now it’s time tuck the 24 slips of paper into something fun and unique for the children to open. It can be as simple as 24 envelopes or

as elaborate as you can dream up. Here are some creative Advent calendars to get you 155 inspired!

Toss them in a Jar Chris, from the popular blog ‘Just a Girl’, created a colorful jar of mini matchboxes. Plain white matchboxes from the grocery store were wrapped with festive paper and given a number, transforming them into the prettiest

little packages, creating an eye catching and festive display. Her children’s favorite activity last year was to “Build a fort and have dinner in it!”

Helpful Hint:

White matchboxes are transformed into the prettiest little packages with festive paper! 156

It’s in the Bag

Some families like to hide one activity each day and have the children hunt for it. Beth, from the creative blog ‘it is what it is’, designed darling countdown numbers and placed them on brown paper bags.

Beth used extra candy put away from the Halloween haul as treats for some of the Advent calendar bags!

Helpful Hint:

...darling countdown numbers...

54.3. 2 .1..

leftover Halloween candy!


Trim the Tree! Another suggestion is to hide the notes in tiny bags and hang them on a tree. It’s simple, quick and the children will be excited to have a special tree for their Advent calendar.


Helpful Hint: With open bags you can easily

swap out activities at the last minute if your plans change.

Courtney has designed these festive printable Advent calendar numbers for House of Fifty readers - just click and print!


It’s a Piece of Cake This year my children will be opening a piece of chocolate cake each evening to see what activity we will be enjoying. I couldn’t resist these little cake boxes and I can reuse them year after year. They were found at Michaels in their wedding supply aisle.


Helpful Hint: The wedding aisle in most craft

stores has large quantities of little boxes and tote bags designed as party favors, but are also perfect for this use.

Appreciate the joy of the Season!

The traditions that come with the holidays are what I love most about this time of year! I am excited for December 1st to arrive so that we can begin our Advent calendar. Our modern take on this tradition helps us to focus on family time and truly appreciate the joy of the Season. 161

Setting a Holiday Table for Children



By Lakeitha Duncan

Designs by Abby Barnett, Photographs by David Barnett

he holidays are upon us and it is time to start thinking about how to make those holiday celebrations memorable. If you will be hosting a party that includes children, consider setting a special table for the kids! Abby Barnett, owner of the stationery boutique Flair Designery, shows us how through the magical wonderland she has created. By mixing two printable designs from her holiday collection (available here to House of Fifty readers), a lot of creativity and a DIY project or two, setting a festive table that will delight the children is not that hard to do.


Do it Yourself DIY Style! While the fancy dishes may be reserved for the adult table, when it comes to setting a table for the children get ready to “get your craft on!� Here Abby made adorable DIY cupcake pedestals and glitter-covered vases to add a whimsical quality to the table setting.

glittercovered vases!


Customize With Colorful Labels Ribbon wrapped dishes placed on printable place mats are as pretty as a present and, to add that extra punch of fun, “Jingle Bell Pop” sticker labels dress up the bottled drinks!

“The modern hostess has become more interested in making parties an event, rather than just a gettogether! This trend has brought a revival to the printed stationery business and, as a result, I’m busy designing invitations, cupcake toppers, stickers and more, helping people realize their vision!



Don’t Forget the Sweets Abby loves the idea of setting up a candy table. Create one away from the dinner table (we want the kids eat to eat their dinner first!), and make it even more festive by repeating the décor’s color scheme in the candy.

don’t spoil your dinner! 166

Santa Isn’t the Only One Who Loves Snacks!

Place colorful treat bags in a pretty container and when the evening comes to a close, guests can fill them up as a parting party favor.



Set Up a Fun “Dear Santa” Activity Include a pencil with the “Dear Santa” note cards laid out on the place settings and watch the children compose their letters and wish lists to Santa! At the end of the evening have the children mail their letters to Santa by dropping them into a mail box set on the candy table. Not only will it be a fun activity, but it just may provide that needed clue for a last minute gift!

To learn more about the designs seen in this article visit Abby’s blog and boutique.

Click on the images above to download Abby’s adorable printables seen on this page!



holiday gift guide edition In this holiday edition of ‘The Books on Our Shelves’ we are featuring a fun collection of favorite titles that are sure to be enjoyed and appreciated by those on your gift giving list.

by Janell Beals


THE Doodle SERIES These are not the coloring books of old!

“What kind of face does your snowman have?

Children’s book illustrator Taro Gomi has created a fantastic series of books that will spark the imagination and creativity of girls and boys of all ages. The pages are filled with unfinished pictures and intriguing prompts which encourage playful sessions of doodling, coloring and drawing. Wrap up one or two for any child on your list to give a gift that will provide hours of fun and entertainment!


HELLO, Is there a baker on your holiday gift list? Look no further.



These wildly imaginative cupcake designs will inspire baking when celebrating special events and seasons throughout the year.

Who knew cupcakes could be this much fun! Authors Karen Tack and Alan Richardson set a new standard for cupcake creativity using everyday products found in any grocery store. Full of photographs that brought a smile to my face, this cookbook provides easy to follow directions and tips which make recreating the delectable collection of cupcakes showcased within the book actually doable! 173

FLICKA, Ricka, The holidays are a perfect time to revisit a wellloved children’s classic.



What little girl doesn’t love playing with paper dolls! Originally part of the ‘Flicka, Ricka, Dicka’ series printed in the 40’s and 50’s, this classic holiday tale by Swedish author and artist Maj Lindman returns. Young girls are sure to enjoy the sweet story of three sisters on Christmas morning and be delighted with the wonderful surprise of finding a set of paper dolls tucked away at the end of the story. 175

THE SHOW ME Insightful and Entertaining Guides On How To Do Just About Anything.


HOW Series

Crack open either one of these books and start reading. You’ll want to keep turning the pages to find out more obscure, eclectic, and insightful information supported by colorful and humorous graphics. These books offer up practical advice and instructions, while providing an entertaining read at the same time. Consider buying two copies and keep one for yourself!


‘think big’ Inspiring and well designed, pick up a dozen and cross off a good portion of your gift list!


& ‘She’

‘think big’ by Dan Zadra Do you have a thinker on your list? This book of thought provoking quotes stimulates bold thinking, imagination, and action. Personalize with a handwritten note on the inside cover and give the gift of inspiration to family, friends, co-workers or clients.

‘She’ by Kobi Yamada ‘She’ is a poignant collection of short memorable quotes celebrating the female spirit packaged in an attractive little book that can be opened every day for a dose of inspiration. This will make a thoughtful gift for the special women in your life.


LITTLE Bets A perfect choice for the entrepreneurs and innovators on your gift list.

What makes someone a good innovator? ‘Little Bets’ focuses on the creative process and finds that small changes or tweaks along the way can really pay off in a big way. The curious reader on your list will enjoy getting inside the minds of innovators at Amazon, Apple, Google, and Starbucks to understand how to implement a culture of creativity. Learning more about why people do the things they do can provide great insight into making improvements in the decision making process, helping pinpoint where to make changes that will matter. 180

THE Magic Tree House These imaginative tales of adventure are big favorites with children!


This fantastic children’s series by Mary Pope Osborne has the ability to delight children of a wide range of ages through historical adventures. We began reading them to our children and before we knew it they were grabbing the latest copy to read themselves. The first 28 books in the series are now available in a collectible box that resembles the magic tree house. These make a great gift that will be passed down from the oldest to the youngest children over the years. Make sure to check out the Magic Tree House website where readers can stamp their passport after taking a quiz for each book. 181

the book

Inspired Design Makes a Wonderful Holiday Gift

Amid beautiful photographs and stories of treasured family traditions, Roxanne Packham and her daughter Hannah share ideas that will inspire the reader to create beauty and warmth in their own home.

By Roxanne Hughes Packham and Hannah Packham Inspired Design is available at: Inspired Design Publications Barnes & Noble Amazon 182 Proceeds from the sale of ‘Inspired Design’ benefit Heart of Hope Ministries INTL & other select charities.

The Pampered Guest ‘Inspired Design’ Ideas for Creating a Welcoming Guest Room

Roxanne’s Tips:

Bring in comfortable bedding, soft towels, a carafe of water and drinking glasses. Provide a stack of reading materials and a reading lamp within arm’s reach of the bed. A tray set with special snacks will make guests feel welcome. Beautiful lamps with soft light along with a vase of fresh flowers create a tranquil setting guests will enjoy retreating to.


LITTLE BLUE DEER blog + website design

for designers!.

aviary collection BY CALICO

lbd ad


designs for

CalicoCorners Calico Home


HOUSE OF FIFTY holiday MUSIC MIX 1. The Golden Age - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour: Fruit (2009) 2. Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears: Songs from the Big Chair (1985) 3. Rolling in the Deep – Adele: 21 (2011) 4. Linus & Lucy - Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) 5. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses: A Christmas Record (1981) 6. One Night, One Kiss - The Russian Futurists: One Night, One Kiss (2010) 7. People Say – Portugal. The Man: The Satanic Satanist (2009) 8. Let Me Take You Out - Class Actress: Journal of Ardency (2010) 9. Such Great Heights - The Postal Service: Give Up (2003) 10. Fruitcake - The Superions: Destination... Christmas! (2010) 11. Made Up Lovesong #43 – Guillemots: Through the Windowpane (2006) 12. I Learned the Hard Way - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: I Learned the Hard Way (2010) 13. Fade Into You - Mazzy Star: So Tonight That I Might See (1993) 14. Gone, Gone, Gone - Nikki Lane: Gone, Gone, Gone (2011) 15. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes: Introducing the Fleet Foxes (2008) 16. End of the Party - The English Beat: Special Beat Service (1982) 17. What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong: What A Wonderful World (1968) CLICK HERE TO PLAY 185


HOUSE OF FIFTY ideas for

inspired living

Let’s Celebrate with Giving!








the B L O G



House of Fifty Holiday 2011