Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Highlights from St. Louis

I just came home from St. Louis where I presented Jewish holiday ideas to a group of women from Nishmah. I lucked out with the weather—it was a beautiful spring weekend and all the trees and spring flowers in St. Louis were in full bloom. I couldn't resist taking some photos of the beautiful neighborhoods with charming older homes.

The day was split into three parts: a power-point presentation of my favorite Jewish holiday ideas taken from this blog, a hands-on demonstration where I showed how to create a centerpiece using fresh flowers and fruit, and a craft workshop where all the participants made paper flowers for Shavuot.


The best part of the day was meeting all the terrific women who took part and put together the event.

I was thrilled to finally meet Brooke Pratt (top right) the genius behind the Sucre Shop—we are blog/internet friends and it was so nice to finally meet in person. Luckily for me, my sister Lisa (bottom left) lives in St. Louis so it was a treat to get to spend time with her. The women (bottom right) who put this together did an unbelievable job.

Can we talk about the house where this took place? OMG...g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s!
Not only are the house and grounds incredible, I loved how the decor was so understated. Traditional furnishings with a neutral color palate, lots of gray washed furniture and greige  colored, textured fabrics.

Lunch was served outdoors overlooking the beautiful grounds.
Salmon nicoise, quiche and veggies made the perfect lunch on a spring day.

The final hour was spent creating paper flowers out of dyed coffee filters
I'll be posting how-to make these in a few weeks. It was a wonderful day...I hope everyone had as much fun as I did!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Theirs and Ours

May will be eighteen months since we've moved into our house. There's still more to do but I thought it would be fun to look at the photos from the real estate listing and compare them with our current rooms, shooting the rooms at the same angle.  Sometimes I forget how much we have accomplished in a short amount of time!

The biggest change we made is in the kitchen. Knocking down the wall between the dining room and the kitchen made both rooms feel huge. Nothing remands from the old kitchen except the window over the sink! You can see more photos here.


Covering the brick fireplace with a "barn wood" look in the den took the room from 1950's to 2014 instantly!  The heavy textured walls got a smooth finish with skim coating and a lot of sanding. The built-in's were converted from a TV nook to a desk.

After taking down the wallpaper, the walls were painted a soft gray and new wall to wall carpeting was installed. Window treatments were replaced as well.

The salmon pink bathroom was sprayed white, wallpaper was removed and the walls were painted  a soft blue/gray. The old shower doors were replaced with a curtain. The vanity remains with new faucets and lights over the mirror.

In the master bath, the yellow tiles remained since they were in excellent shape and the color wasn't bad.  The shower curtain from West Elm replaced the old shower doors and set the tone for the walls which got a similar striped paint treatment. The mirror and light fixture from Pottery Barn were updated and shelving was added (not shown in photo.)

The rec room in the basement was already finished. We added wall to wall carpet to convert it into a guest room for my daughter's (large!) family. There are more beds not shown in photo.

Taking down the wall between the dining room and the kitchen made the room much less formal and also gave us more space to squeeze more people around the table if needed. The wallpaper was removed and the walls got a coat of gray. Dated window treatment were removed and replaced with simple roman shades. The Capriz light fixture is from West Elm.

The laundry area was painted a fresh coat of white, doors were removed from the cabinets and the orange canvas containers from Home Depot fit perfectly into the nooks. I'll probably do something more fun in the future but this was a quick fix to get it up and running.

Since we don't live formally I like formal rooms—the TV is in this room on the other side. The bones here are great, it's a "sunken" room where you step down to enter the room. I painted the mauve walls Coastal Fog and changed the window treatments. It still needs artwork and the furniture needs staining/painting, and lamps.

The biggest change in the front hall was making two doorways into one large entrance. When we took down the wall between the kitchen and dining room it no longer made sense to have two doorways since it is now one large room. More wallpaper to remove and this spring I plan on stenciling the wall where the bench sits.

It's been a busy year!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One Room Two Ways

Now that Passover is behind us I'm scrambling to finish many projects around the house that still are not competed—Ariel (my daughter) and her family will be moving to a new home this summer and I have a funny feeling I'll be super busy up in Massachusetts decorating her new home this summer! Here's my first project...

Moussia and Zelda will be sharing a bedroom and I found these wonderful matching twin bed frames at a used furniture shop a while ago. Since moving day is only a few months away I need to start painting them. But before I can paint we need to decide what the rest of the room will look like.  Ariel and I are bouncing around several ideas...

Plan A:
This one is Ariel's first choice. Paint the beds black (just like I painted Moussia's old bed). We'll be using her current Marimekko duvet cover with their famous Unikko pattern. Since this color is no longer available, we'll open it up at the seams and adds a fun contrasting fabric on the other side to get two duvets out of one. I'm giving them my Dash and Albert Monty rug, and Ariel wants to paint gold dots on the feature wall. I like it a lot but I'm worried that the gold dots might be too busy with the duvet covers.

Plan B:
This one is my choice. Paint the walls a rich teal and the bed frames a high gloss white. Use the same Monty rug and duvet covers and keep everything else in the room very lightpicture frames, other furniture and accessories would all be light colors to contrast the deep walls.

I don't think we can go too wrong with either design. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tiered Trays

Tiered trays have been around for years but lately I've spotted them not only on the buffet table but all through the house—indoors and out. Not only do they save space, they make anything look better when it's elevated on a stand.

When I posted our new kitchen remodel a year ago, I got more questions asking me where I got our tiered fruit basket then any other!
(I found it at Sur la table)

I used tiered trays on Chanukah to display cookies, gelt candy and small gifts.

Here are some other great ideas...
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What do you use tiered trays for?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Meet Me in St. Louis

Nope, I'm not talking about the movie starring Judy Garland.

I'll be in St. Louis on Sunday, April 27 for a women's event for Nishmah, a not-for-profit organization devoted to enriching Jewish identity and the empowerment of women and girls in the local community.

The event will kick off at 10:00 am, followed by brunch and a hands-on craft for everyone to take home.  If you live in the St. Louis area, please join me, along with Brooke Pratt (the genius behind the Sucre Shop) for a fun day.

I'd love to see you there--there's still time to sign up.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bringing Wine to a Seder

Since each person is obligated to drink four glasses of wine at the Seder, bringing a bottle of kosher wine is the perfect hostess gift.

Take a tip from our friends at Martha Stewart and wrap yours in one of these beautiful wrappers... 

Left: wrap a piece of decorative paper around a bottle, overlapping the ends slightly; secure it with double-sided tape.  You can download the template for the matching tag  here.
Center: Cut crepe paper slightly larger than the bottle, with the grain running vertically, and secure it with double-sided tape.
Right: Scrawl a super-size message, then tie with a ribbon.
I'll be enjoying Passover with family and friends so I'll see you back here on Friday. Have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lemon Mousse for Passover

We're invited to our friend's house the first night of Passover and I was assigned dessert. Not just any dessert but the lemon mousse I made for them a few years ago—it's requested every time we have Seders together!

PHOTO: KATHY GOLDMAN; FROM PLAYING WITH MY FOOD
This is so refreshing after a large meal...the taste of fresh lemons really comes through.

I'm not crazy about using the non-dairy whipped topping but it's once a year and there is no other substitution for a parve mousse that's kosher for Passover.
Frozen Lemon Mousse
6 lemons
1 pint parve whipped topping
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar

1. Grate zest from two lemons and juice all six lemons.
2. Combine juice, eggs, zest and sugar in the top of a double boiler.
3. Cook, stirring until thick and creamy about 10 minutes.
4. Refrigerate at least one hour until cool.
5. Whip topping, fold into curd, then freeze.
6. Top with fresh berries.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Home for Passover

Our son Ben, moved to Philly in January for his first real job after college (yea!) He moved into an apartment with a roommate and took most of his bedroom furniture including the bed. 

Since he left home, his bedroom has become a dumping ground for projects, photo shoots, exercise equipment and more. Now, he's coming home for Passover and this was how his room looked just last week!
On top of all the prep work that goes into Passover I had to buy a bed, mattress and rug asap. Thank goodness Ikea is less then an hour drive—last week I picked up the Brimnes bed frame because it was cheap, sturdy and fit into my car. It came in black or white and I bought the black. 

When I got home I looked around the room and it dawned on me: black would look terrible in his room! Would Ben care? No, but I did. Fortunately we had one of those sunny semi-warm days so I was able to paint it Benjamin Moore's River Reflections with some leftover paint.
After painting I assembled the bed...
It took one coat of primer and two coats of paint but I'm so glad I painted...it looks so much better!
The duvet is the Color Block Striped Duvet from West Elm—I bought it on sale a few weeks ago...
and the gray quilt is the Vintage Washed Solid Quilt from the Threshold collection at Target.
I'm loving indoor/outdoor rugs lately. They're inexpensive and indestructible...you can wash them outdoors with a garden hose!
This one is the Bermuda Indoor Outdoor Rug from Ballard Designs.
You may remember the lamp I found last month for $10.00 at a consignment shop...I had this spot in mind when I spotted the lamp and it's perfect.
The artwork was a gift from a friend of my sister's while she was attending art school in Atlanta. I think the architectural feel of the artwork is perfect for a guy's room.
Now I can turn my attention to finish cleaning for Passover!

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Easy Afikomen Cover to Make

We don't own an afikomen cover—we usually just wrap a piece of matzah in a cloth napkin and call it a cover. But this year I came up with a paper version that is super easy to make and will make you look like a hipster, even if you're not!
Since it's made from paper it costs pennies and the best part is you don't have to know how to sew.

You can download this graphic here...
I don't have a color printer—I e-mailed mine to Staples and asked them to print the image in color on 8 1/2 x 11 paper.

While I was there picking it up, I bought a pack of white 9 x 12 envelopes...
Here's how:
1. Print the image as large as possible on white paper.
2. With a gold sharpie pen, I colored the Star of David to make it extra fancy.
3. The image was cut carefully with an x-acto knife.
4. A glue stick makes the back of the paper stick onto the white envelope.
What I want to know is: what's my prize for finding the afikomen?!
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