March11

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Seeing as the sun has graced us with a bit more each day, let’s talk lighting this month. With the lack of light in the winter, most of us turn to sugar, caffeine or shopping to get us through the dull, grey days. But what if I told you that just investing in some gorgeous lighting would affect your mood far more than any of those fixes? It’s true.

If I had to name the one thing that clients neglect but which makes a colossal difference in any space, it would be lamps. Low, structured, opulent lamp light acts like the frame on an artful corner. Or, it can create a corner in the middle of nothing with its tender blush of light. Allow the luminescence to pull you into a  chair and melt into its soft hum. And while I adore gorgeous chandeliers and pendants, they do not come close to offering the same intimacy gradient that every well planned space needs to feel welcoming. Lighting from chandeliers and pendants shout one thing, lamps whisper another. Sconce lights are breathy punctuation but that’s another blog.

Now let’s talk beauty. Don’t just reuse your mother’s old lamps unless she happens to be my mother. And don’t think you can go out and buy one or two generic lamps for $30 each and feel inspired. Lamps should be works of art from the base to the shade and you need groupings not one per room.  And please, throw away anything other than a silk shade. You deserve nothing less in the sanctuary you call home. Considering they are a lifetime possession for most of us, invest in something you LOVE.

 

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feb-inspiration

If you know me, you know I love dark chocolate. And for those of you who can relate to food beyond mere appreciation but rather amorous devotion, you will want to try this flourless chocolate cake recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, My French Kitchen (2vol) by Joanne Harris .  It is one of those recipes that has become almost illegible in the book due to my obsessive use. My children will have little trouble identifying which cookbooks and specific recipes I have grown to love as the stains and dog-eared pages are obvious markers.  This cake is simple in regards to preparation and isn’t anything fussy that requires a cake server and fine china. Most definitely, it will fix anything that has gone wrong in the day if eaten warm, right out of the pan. I promise.

febGateau Lawrence

6 ½ ounces (70% cocoa) chocolate - I personally buy dark chocolate bars w/ sea salt

12 Tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)

2/3 cups sugar or less

1 2/3 cups of ground almonds (Trader Joes sells large bags)

4 large eggs (separated)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break chocolate into small pieces. Melt on stovetop at lowest setting in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Remove from heat. Cream together butter (room temp) and sugar. Add ground almonds, egg yolks, melted chocoate and beat until evenly blended. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter gently. Poor into a cake pan ( I like a fluted 9” tart pan) and bake 35 minutes.

It will have a light crust on the outside but the inside will be soft with a moist, dense sponge.  It should neither be dry nor goey. The book calls for a chocolate icing but personally, I think it is overkill. Typically, my children and I eat this right out of the oven gathered around the kitchen island. The sighs and smiles are gateways to open hearted conversations. But sometimes, I make this just for me and eat it in bed with a good book and cup of tea. Happy Valentines!

 

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jan-begins

New beginnings come to us in many forms and once in a while, through least expected circumstances.  Most of us actively seek them out with the fresh start of a new year; however, others burst upon us, stopping us suddenly in our tracks, forcing our mental and emotional "clocks" to stop long enough to ponder its significance. Whether forced or invited, such reflections are all good.

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I am reminded of the question posed all too often in our youth but forgotten in our later years. “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Don’t think it is ever too late to ask yourself this again and again. And don’t think you can’t be multiple things at once. Growing old to me means sitting in one dimensional grey tones rather than opening yourself up to the invigorating colors of change.

 

Professionally, I meet most of my new clients this time of year as women typically want their homes to reflect whatever inner stirrings are taking place even if subconsciously. Now and then, it takes the re-weaving or re-ordering of the place you call home to actually acknowledge and become one with the emerging, new you. Occasionally, it takes creating a new vernacular within the home to step into a new role. And periodically, we just rip out what isn’t working and rebuild from a dream. I always feel so honored being witness to these changes. It is a great gift.

 

“I live my life in ever widening circles”

                                                                                                                Rilke

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december

Now that the snow has blanketed our gardens and we have lost our canopy of color over the drive, it is time for an infusion of all that is jade, olive, emerald and lime . And regardless of what holiday you celebrate in these winter months, nothing is better on these dusty grey days than the color, texture and smell of fresh greens in and around the house.  Go visit your local nursery and explore the delicacy of …

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Red Seeded Eucalyptus

Green Eucalyptus

Incense Cedar

Juniper

Red Huck

Blue Cone Cedar

The subtle pinks and plum of the Red Seeded Eucalyptus make it my personal favorite this year and its perfume keeps me smiling. Try some. Let this verdant (verdeant in Old French) collection keep your senses singing right into Spring.

 

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end-nov

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With the crisp chill and whirl of leaves comes the fresh scent of  cedar garlands, an amased flicker of candles,  vases overflowing with the radiant color of floral and fruit bouquets, the sugared aromas from the kitchen, sparkling table settings, jubilant music and a blushed glow in the hearth.  And while some wonder why these things should matter, I feel the investment holds more value than anything found in a shopping mall or purchased hurriedly with the promise of free shipping.  For in this time of recession, more than any in my lifetime, we need a return to an unplugged, home-based tradition – gatherings around table and hearth.

Nothing encourages GATHERINGS more than the sedate winter months of Wisconsin. And our holiday nestings give enough pause for a slower exchange of  stories.  Sadly, it often takes the effort we put into our holiday preparation to embolden this yearly sigh of thanks for our own story and prompt a real look at the beautiful faces that infuse our busy lives with spirit.

Countless thanks to all of my captivating clients.

You make my job a source of joyful delight.

Thank you from the depths of my heart.

 

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