Well, it’s Spring Break here in Baltimore County, MD. We usually plan our snowboarding trip for this week but since the break is so late, we opted not to go out west this year. Instead, we pieced together a string of mini stops across the week.

Our first stop was Ocean City, MD where my mom-in-law lives. We love going down before the crowds of summer arrive, and just before everything is open. The weather was wonderful, a refreshing warmth blew in (and just as quickly blew out), and we were able to spend some much needed time outside with the girls. Everything about OC feels authentic and nostalgic. So much of its charm is steeped in the boardwalk rides, the iconic buildings that still look the way they did 50 years ago, and of course the beach itself. We hit the “boards” (as they say here in MD) each and every time we go down, and the girls enjoy it just as much each visit. We spent $40 in the arcade to get $5.00 worth of prizes, ventured guesses when the ferris wheel would open, slurped down some Kohr Brothers soft serve, and hit the very vintage carnival rides that reside inside the halls of the boardwalk. I included some pictures of the incredible, yet slightly creepy rides the girls ride, and that my husband rode more than 35 years ago. Even then, I think those rides were about 40-50 years old. Eep.

E bunny ears

The Ride Down to OC

OC Trimpers

Carousel

Jen funny mirror

My Loooong Legs, Fat Top

OC ride e and ly

The Girls on the Tea Cups

The second day of our trip started at the TC Diner in West OC. Mickey Mouse pancakes, plenty of half and half for my freak daughter to guzzle, and permission to bring your Starbucks drink in. Oh, and homemade oatmeal for Mama. Ding.
The hubs forgot ALL of his underoos, so we had to go to Wal-Mart in a pinch to acquire some. We ended up with plastic pink adirondacks, which the girls sat in inside of the carts inside of Wal-Mart. There were lots of inside ofs in that situation. I also cruised the kids dept. and surprisingly found some cool stuff for the girls. One denim skirt that I would definitely wear myself def. hit the cart.

Then, we hit the Crocs store to get pool shoes for the girls, and they ended up with backpacks with lots of those rubber charms. E acquired a hip hop Doc McStuffins hat in Lids where we went to get my nephew a Nets hat. Both of them loaded up at Five Below while we were shopping for swim goggles. Do you see where these trips get us? Luckily, the hubs and I scored some serious loot at the J.Crew Factory store where we picked up two pairs of men’s pants, two shirts, a belt, two women’s shirts, a sweatshirt, skirt, and necklace for $220. Heh? I made three passes in the store to ensure I didn’t miss anything. We then got suckered into mini gold, go karts, and the park! We secretly love both, so I can’t really complain.

E drinking cream

Breakfast Staple: Half and Half

Ly's Head

Wal-Mart Checkout Monster

J. Crew Stuff

J. Crew Loot

We managed to swing lunch at one of our favorite local places called Hooked on 80th St. The girls like it mostly because they have paper tablecloths, and amazing fries. The chicken fingers are also delish, and made from real things. We love the clams and mussels, and this time, I had tuna tacos and there were super yum.

After our full trip in OC, we took the Lewes Ferry to Cape May, where we journeyed to Atlantic City to meet my sister and her fam, and my parents for a night. We stayed at the Revel there, and while our overall experience was a tad awful, the rooms are nice, and they have an indoor pool. The girls love, love, loved the ferry, and I have to say it was pretty cool for us too. I haven’t taken the ferry in years. The whole place is tricked out. Super nice building with cafe, gifts that don’t stink, a playground, mini golf and lovely employees. I get sea sick very easily, and I am very close to hating all boats. I prayed that the boat wouldn’t rock, and I all but insisted we stay outside despite dropping temps, and Ly begging to play Go Fish inside. I went with it, and my weird pressure point sweat band seemed to work, even though I felt like crying at least twice when they sped up and I could see the boat pitching on top of the waves.

We arrived safely in Cape May, and headed to Revel. The place is huge. It took hours to get the room, so we stashed our hundreds of bags in my parent’s room. We headed to the pool where I’m pretty sure every single child on spring break went to take a swim that day. It was mobbed, and cold, and the kids all loved it. What we do for the love of children. There were some super cool vignettes in the hotel, and some really neat objects. And…some of my sister’s products from her store were in the hot pink built-ins in the lobby! Such a proud moment. Here are some highlights.

Indian River Bridge

Indian River Bridge

Lewes Ferry Deck

Lewes Ferry Deck

Lewes Ferry Inside

Inside of the Ferry

Lewes Ferry Top Deck

Lewes Ferry Top Deck

Lighthouse

Lighthouse

Revel Lamp

Revel Siting Area with Massive Lamp

Revel Library

Library Vignette at the Revel

E in chair

E in chair

Revel Installation

Revel Installation

Revel Chairs

Revel Chairs

Revel Shelves

Products from Zinc Home and Garden!

Ly and Noah

Ly and Noah Checking Weather

We were hoping to walk on the AC piers and boardwalk but the weather was just awful. Wind and rain was an understatement for what it looked like the second day. The first day, we had a view of the ocean, the second, white cloud. The trip home was treacherous, and we were all happy to stop at the polish market in the middle of no where for some kilbasa, head cheese, and sesame treats. We also made a stop into the world’s grossest bathroom where E was talking into the hole in the floor to see if anyone would answer. Enough said. We wrapped up with a trip to see my beautiful nieces today. Six hours of bliss with those wee babies who are so very loved by my own beautiful girls. Sometimes, these kinds of trips make you appreciate your kids, how good they can be, and how lucky we are.

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Well, she’s done is again! Christiane Lemieux, the mastermind behind DwellStudio, and new Executive Creative Director at Wayfair (who recently acquired DwellStudio) helps bring Birch Lane into our lives and homes! As an avid home shopper (mostly for others), I hunt, even scour for good deals for my clients, while trying to find retailers who consistently offer good quality.

Enter Birch Lane. Reasonably priced, on trend but not trendy pieces for every home from traditional to transitional. Masters of neutral chic, they offer furniture for almost every room, rugs, lighting, and accessories. Oh, and guess what? Nothing is over $2,000! As they say on Super Why, “hip hip hurray!”

Here are a few of my favorite pieces, and how I could see them working in a room!

Birch Lane Bedroom

Birch Lane Living Room

Birch Lane Kitchen

All pieces from Birch Lane, except light fixture in Bedroom feature from Candelabra Lighting & Home Decor.

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I never met a high gloss wall I didn’t like. That is, if it’s done right. The lacquered wall/high gloss painted wall trend has been pretty hot for a while, but it’s a) not for the faint of heart b) not for every home/style c) not to be done willy nilly. I tend to think if you are going to tackle this in your own home you should try it on a ceiling first, or even in a small powder room. The impact is there, without you having to do the grueling process on a large surface area that could possibly not turn out the way you intended. The rooms we all love in mags, blogs, on Houzz are meticulously executed by professionals with beautifully curated objects, art, and furniture. Do we all have that luxury? Probably not. So, as I said, this is not a project to go into lightly.

You’ll have to commit. I like the look of a lacquered white ceiling, with say, bold navy, charcoal, or dark brown walls. I feel that bold deep colors or bright colors work best for a high gloss wall. In a powder room, a nice, pharmacy sink console and brass fixtures would be just lovely with a high gloss wall.

High gloss can be amazing on wood or cabinetry as well. What a statement! I would love to use it in a small kitchen on the cabs, or in an intimate library.

What do you think about it? Would you go for it?

Navy Blue Liv Room

via amesburyroadinteriors.com

Lime Green Entry

via marcusdesigninc.blogspot.com

Black Den

via decorpad.com

Magenta Library

via atlantahomesmag.com

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One of the things I tell people about decorating their kids rooms is to make it feel like a kid lives there, without it feeling like only a kid could live there! I really encourage clients to break free of the matchy matchy standard for kids rooms with all white, black, birch wood furniture, matching walls and bedding, and instead invest in piece that will last and grow with your child and your family. If you buy from one line on a site like PB Teen or Land of Nod, your room can end up looking matched but lacking character or individual pop points. When an entire room looks too put together, it’s hard to notice any one thing because everything blends together. Sure, it can be all neutral, or all shades of blues, but don’t limit yourselves to one style, set of colors, or rules.

My daughter’s bedroom has hot pink trellis wallpaper, a modern white dresser and bunk beds but mint green lamps, art in gray, read, and wood, pillows in yellow, gray, black, and a collection of her finds in every color. Somehow, it all works.

Lyla's Room_Dresser

I put together an example of a boy’s room that feels masculine in its deep navy paint color but I livened up the walls with gold vinyl decals, a bright green bed with assorted pillows, and a “love” art installation. It would have been easy to keep the wood dark, the lamps blue or red, and the rug striped. Instead, I opted for a more natural, woven rug that doesn’t feel like a kid’s rug. It does feel warm and inviting though; a perfect rug to plop down and play blocks or read books. I added a contemporary end table that could grow with this boy, or eventually be re-purposed in another room. The same goes with the fabulous Björn Dahlström chair. It feels like a spot a kid could curl and read a book but it could be used in a sunroom or entry as well. These two pieces are definitely higher end, but stores like Land of Nod, Ikea, and even Overstock and Wayfair have knock-off or similar versions of these designer pieces.

To keep it fun, I added a teepee in a new, pop color of orange. I don’t use orange anywhere else, but the palette of orange, navy, and kelly green have always played well together, so I played off that primary relationship to make it all work. Just add some extra toys, games, trucks, etc., and this room is truly fit for any boy!

Also, use statement lighting in your children’s rooms. Kids have such big personalities. A huge chandelier, standing lamp, or wild print table lamp can all draw attention to their unique personalities. The branch chandelier here brings together the deep color, the teepee, the plaid on the bed, and this woodsy light fixture in a way that may reflect that this boys likes the outdoors, camping, or the rugged frontier! You don’t have to be so literal when decorating kids rooms. If your daughter likes princesses or ballet, you can do a gallery wall of cool artwork reflecting that, or use different shades of hot pink, pale pink and black to create a scheme that feels like royalty without it having to look exactly that way. There are so many ways to mix it up in kids rooms. Start by picking furnishings that are unique, not part of a set. Buy items at unexpected sources like Ebay, thrift stores, and even Etsy. You can find great small tables, books, art, and pillows at these sources at great prices. You’ll also be able to build a more varied collection of accessories for your child’s room.

Boys Room

Sources
Chandelier | Love Wall Light | Chest | Vases | Bunny Lamp | Easy Chair | Bed | Tiled Pillow | Lambswool Pillow | Bird Pillow | Plaid Throw | Rug | Teepee | Wall Decals

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Is copper the new gold? Maybe. I’ve been seeing it all over the place in the way of tabletops, accessories, and especially chairs! I think I could really get down with this modern looking material for a desk chair in my office or perhaps in a client’s by way of a coffee table. I’ve scoured for some interesting new options, and also mixed in some classics like the copper bistro chair which are a great kitchen table or outdoor seating option, especially when they are from Target for $99 (for two). If you want to see them in your home, be sure to visit to install The Furnish App on your phone or iPad to visualize this chair first in your home before you buy. More on how I am connected to Furnish in a later post.

I’ve mixed a bit of old for old time’s sake, but what do you think about the copper trend? Is it here to stay?

Crazy for Copper

Sources

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 (for similar) | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11

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What I love so much about my husband is he is unable to keep the secret of a gift secret! I am the same way, and I think it’s funny that the two of us end up giving gifts to each other way earlier than we should, because we are too excited. The other thing we do is tell the other we bought the gift, and then one of us inevitably starts asking questions, and the gift is revealed. There is a sense of both relief and disappointment from the gift buyer that the suspense is over, yet the secret and the gift can be given up.

You are about to read a perfect example of how this system works in our house. A few weeks ago One Kings Lane put several of Slim Aarons (one of my favorite photographers) photos for sale on their site. I selected a few, “shared” them with my hubs as I do with many things, and told him how much I loved them, and how nice they would look in our house, etc. The hubs typically either ignores these emails as if they were never sent, or quickly replies, “Yeah, cool.” and that is the end of it. With the quantity of items I send, some are bound to stick. Well, I have a big birthday coming up, one that my doctor recently put me at “mid-life” during our last visit together. Which means, I’m dying at 80. We have been trying to figure out what to do to celebrate or where to go to get away. I am chairing something on May 16th, two days after my bday, so traveling in May is out. So, the whole build-up to a trip or the like might be lost if we do it in the summer. I said I only wanted to go away for the weekend, nothing else. Well, he came home the other day from work and told me he bought my bday present, and that he was so proud of himself for it, and I was going to love it. This proudness almost always comes from me sending something I like to him, and him buying it. So, I should really be proud of myself for executing such a brilliant strategy at acquiring gifts for myself!

Then, the game begins. I ask why he bought it, he said he had to, it was such a good price, and he knew I really wanted it. I of course knew it was the Slim Aarons photo! I could get from point A to B on this one so fast, he couldn’t even believe it. The other thing is, I know he loves him too, so it was a double pleasure because he wanted it. So, the secret was out, and I expect the picture to be arriving any day now. Happy birthday to me!

This is the one we got!

To go back for just moment…We first saw Slim Aarons photos at a hotel in NYC called Gild Hall. They had prints through the halls and in the rooms. We loved the simplicity of the socialites in their native habitats so to speak. It was instant love. The blurb on OKL describes him well: Slim Aarons described his photographs of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s as documenting “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” Considering his subjects were society swans such as Babe Paley and C.Z. Guest, European aristocracy, and Hollywood royalty in beautiful hideaways like Palm Beach and Sardinia, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Aarons’s photographs evoke a bygone era of classic style and graceful serenity, and who wouldn’t want that for their walls?

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The Rochelle is a thing of beauty. Sleek and modern, and available in a rainbow of fruit flavors, this sofa is really a dream. She could fit in a contemporary spec house, a Beverly Hills Hotel-inspired green room, a cozy rustic farmhouse, or a glam beach house. She has lots of versatility. I put together three versions of a living room with the Rochelle as the star. Which one is most like you?

Sofa Option 1

Rochelle Sofa | Pink Ty Coffee Table | Bungalow 5 Side Table | Holden Collection Gold Lamp | Adrift Floor Lamp | Peacock | White Quartz Bookends | Amir Shag Rug | End of Day Painting | Mill Ceiling Light

Sofa Option 2

Rochelle Sofa | Chinoiserie Gold Mirror | Arteriors Side Table | Emerald Chinoiserie Secretary Cabinet | Martinique Wallpaper | Tree Sculpture

Sofa Option 3

Rochelle Sofa | Botanical Prints | Tobacco Pillow | Daisy Dining Table | Coral on Crystal Base | Jonathan Adler Mug | Zara Blue Leather Rug

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I will admit, I have a lot going on. I’m the kind of person who juggles many, many tasks and responsibilities, and I can either be organized to a fault, or completely scattered. I’m not sure how that is possible. I am chairing the spring carnival at my daughter’s school which requires a whole host of committees, vendors, games mgmt., entertainment, etc. and I am meticulously organized. I have spreadsheets, perfectly balanced budgets, and all volunteers and sub-chairs assigned. Yet, I’m also trying to get my taxes in order for last year, and I have receipts everywhere, I’ve forgotten jobs I’ve done, and barely keep track of my subscriptions and software expenses! My accountant hates me I’m sure.

However, my desk is always clean. I took a time-management course for corporate leaders about four years ago, and I never forgot the women telling us to clear off the messes on our desks before leaving for the day. I try to do that (when I do indeed work at my desk), so when I start working next my desk and work area offer me a fresh start!

I also like things to look pretty on my desk. I use a few very useful tools like pens and pencils, clips for fabric, paper clips, and tape. I always have a nice tape dispenser, it’s just who I am. I also like to have a good task light for reading and filing for clients. We spend so much time in our offices, they should look and feel comfortable and a little bit fancy. Here are some essentials I recommend:

Office Essentials

1 I tend to work very very late. So, at night, I often relax on the sofa or a chair to work (like right now). So, I need a comfy place to sit for hours with a blanket and my laptop.

2 Pencils that are cute, or pretty, or say funny things. I use pencils a lot, and when I’m hanging out with my girls, I like to doodle or practice my ever-changing handwriting. Pencils work best. I also like to sketch things like built-ins or measurable areas on graph paper first before I put it together electronically. Some things are better left done the old fashioned way.

3 Again, I like to do some things old school. Using a calculator is one of them. When I was a kid, I used to punch away on my dad’s old adding machine. I loved the sound it made, and the streaming of the paper. Our accountant still does this while we talk in his office. He never looks at the thing, just punches away. It’s amazing and baffling at the same time. A calculator makes me feel like I could do this.

4 The calendar. I always hand a wall calendar in my office, and usually in our mudroom. I like a quick reference of the date when I’m on the phone so I’m not fumbling around trying to see it on my cell and talking at the same time. This one is great for a quick glance, but I like to have a big fill-in one for the girls’ schedules and family commitments (kinda like this one).

5 Pen and Misc. Holder. I enjoy pens and pencils so much I tend to accumulate them, along with odss and ends I like to throw in one cup. This is a great one. You could use a small soup or salad bowl from Anthropologie or Target for clips, biz cards, tapes, or a large mug or dry goods container as well for pens, markers, or pencils.

6 A good desk lamp is essential. The nice thing, everyone has them now. This one is from one of my fave Brit shops The Conran Shop.

7 Desk | Gemstone Object | Pool Object | Tape Dispenser

8 Hourglass. There are so many reasons to get one of these. Flip it over when you’re in a phone meeting, when you start reading blogs (like this one), and can’t stop, and you realize an hour has passsed, when you start Pinning, or when you need to carve out a set time to get something done. This would also be nice to use for your kids. When it runs out the tv goes off, or it’s bed time.

9 The shopper tote. Oh, the tote. I carry lots of fabric, measuring tapes, note pads, and other daily necessities in a tote bad during the day. I like something sturdy but stylish. A simple leather tote always does the trick.

10 Ashtray/Object. I’m not a smoker, but who couldn’t get behind this ashtray for a decorative addition to a desk or to hold smalls that accumulate around the tabletop?

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Is it weird to post about oatmeal? It’s glamorous right? I just love oatmeal, I always have. I’ll put anything in it like nuts, berries, sugar, granola, bananas…you name it. Recently, we’ve switched to steel cut oats (instead of instant/quick oats like the Quaker Oats kind), since we’ve discovered the taste is so much better. We’re officially spreading the news, so you might want to be a part of it (musical reference pun). The oats are chopped, and are the least processed of all oat varieties. Instant oats are pre-cooked and dried, sugar is typically added (especially in the packets) and then rolled flat. Steel cut oatmeal has a nuttier taste because they are merely cut into two or three pieces. Because of this process, steel cuts are have a lower glycemic index as well. Who knew? Maybe everyone at this point, since news of anything “healthier” travels fast. This blog just discusses what I like or makes me feel better, even if I’m late to the game!

Steel Cut Oatmeal

picture via thekitchn.com

I swim and/or bike most mornings, and when I swim, I get depleted much quicker than when I do any other type of exercise. Not sure why. Maybe I’m just exerting myself a lot more thinking I’m in the Olympics. The pool does that for me. The treadmill certainly does not. I never envision myself on the track winning the 1600 meters when I’m on the treadmill.
On the days I swim, a bar or banana are never enough, so I try to carve out time to make oatmeal to get me through the workout.

It is worth noting, that you can buy steel cut oats that are instant or not instant. Unless you have either an hour in the morning or want to prepare the oats the night before for the next day or the week, I suggest getting the instant. To me, they taste the same. We accidentally bought the long-cook last month, and it was not fun. I felt like I was making batched baby food for my daughter all over again! Anyone who ever read or followed Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food book can relate.

I have glanced at recipes online that use butter, milk, buttermilk and other add-in methods to the prep but since I am allergic to milk, and try to avoid any complication in the morning, I keep it really simple. So, if you are working out in the morning, and need a sticky rib breakfast like I do, or just a nice, warm belly meal, this is it.

Open Nature Oatmeal

We buy Open Nature’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats from Safeway. It’s their in-house organic brand, and I like them the best. There are a million kinds you can buy but they all vary, so try a few to find one you like. You can make these oats on the stove or microwave. I have only done it on the stove, because I’m still not a backer of the microwave. I think it’s a fad that will go away. Like the Internet.

I fill a small saucepan with 1 cup of water
Bring to a boil
Dump in 1/2 cup of oats
Reduce to a simmer for 5-7 minutes
Just watch it until it gets to your desired consistency. I have left it way longer, or off the heat, and it’s always fine. It’s hard to ruin this.

Plop it all into a bowl and add in your favorite mix-ins! I usually just add a dash of brown sugar (to make up for the lower glycemic index), and zip out to my workout. Just this morning, I took it with me en route to my daughter’s school! I felt great all through my workout, except when my ear plug fell out and I suffered acute vertigo for two laps until I realized it fell out. Luckily, I stockpile those bad boys on the side of the pool.

For an even quicker option, Trader Joe’s sells frozen steel cut oatmeal! The package includes two frozen servings that you just put into your bowl and microwave for two minutes. Done and done.

Trader Joes Oatmeal

So, try some good old fashioned oatmeal some day soon! Tell us what you think too!

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The Windsor chair is really full of mystery and intrigue. It’s a chair whose origin is speculated, and whose styling and selection of woods can vary.

It’s not clear when the first Windsor chairs were made but in the early 16th century, chair spindles were being copied and made similarly to wheel spokes. The first Windsor chairs showed up in the county of Buckinghamshire, but there is speculation that the chair derives its name from the town of Windsor, which became the center for trade between the producers of the chairs and the dealers of the chairs in London. So, funny enough, the “Windsor Chair” name is more about the style of chair than where it was made, with many diverse forms of Windsors being made worldwide.

The chairs can be made of pine, bass, or tulip poplar (for the seat), maple for the underseat, and woods like oak, ash, and hickory all rive (which bend well) are used for the spindles.

Windsors can be stained or painted; the backs can be high or low, comb-shaped or fan-backed…there are so many variations! This is why I love this chair. For all that it has been and could be.

I’ve included some some classic and modern styles in my round-up. I love a black windsor around a rustic wood table. Or a high-back modern version around a round kitchen table. Do you love the windsor? Where would you use it?Windsor Chair Round-Up

Resources
Lobster Pot Windsor from 1st Dibs | Fan Windsor from Horne | Buckingham Windsor from Arhaus | Christopher Specce Windsor Settee | Windsor Bowback from Ethan Allen | Fan Chair from Horne | Kimble Windsor from Hive Modern

Em Henderson Dining Room

via Emily Henderson

Desire to Inspire Dining Room

via Desire to Inspire

Outside Windsors Trad Home

via Traditional Home

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