October 24, 2014

Enjoy Your Weekend!

What do you have planned? This weekend, the girls are together again so we're planning our Salem trip on Saturday. Sunday will be spent (hopefully) relaxing as I've just gotten back from a class and conference in Boston AND finished teaching another class this week. However, the weekend of the 8th is a biggie. It's the 15th Annual Edaville Rail Run and it will be held Saturday, November 8th at 10:00 AM. Run or walk the 5-mile rail run or 2-mile fun run through cranberry bogs and old New England trails. Remember, my girls and I are in charge of the food table so come on over and say hello. (I'm usually under the table pulling out boxes or running around re-filling pots.) But, catch me if you can. All the proceeds go the Dorine Merritt Memorial Fund. See you there!

In the meantime, here are some links you may enjoy...

Style transforms a 750-square-foot apartment.

Best new books to read this fall.

Why so many women are crying at the gym. I'll have more to say about this one soon.

This movie looks hilarious.

Ever try Lumosity? Now's your chance.

Must try New Hampshire restaurants.

Photo: Hyperion Photos

October 23, 2014

Halloween Around the Web

Are you ready? I'm still working on my dining room centerpiece for Amanda's party, but I think I'm good to go. However, if you're still working out decoration, costume, or party ideas, or you're thinking about places to visit, I've found a few you might like. FYI: Run don't walk to your nearest Target. If they haven't sold out already, you'll find an array of skeletons in every size to suit every purpose.

Decorating...
Costume ideas...
Party time...
Things to do...
*You could have an awesome party in this house. What's haunting your house?

October 22, 2014

Carbs Can be a Good Thing

Since I changed my diet, I'm always asked if I've given up carbs. The answer is an unequivocal NO. I used to eat too many carbohydrates, but my body needs carbs. I don't feel well if I don't include them in some form or fashion. A low-carb diet will help you lose more weight and reduce your risk of heart disease, but not all carbs are created equal. Carbohydrates are essential fuel for our bodies (especially when engaging in any physical activity) and our brains (carbs regulate mood). The phrase you've heard again and again...everything in moderation turns out to be mostly true. The trick is to know which carbs are good for you, so if you can remember fiber versus sugar, you're on the right path. (And even some sugars are good for you, too.)

My favorite snack happens to be popcorn. I make a batch at least three times a week. I make cook-it-on-the-stove popcorn with a little canola oil and a pinch of salt. (You could add a touch of chili powder or taco seasoning for more flavor.) This childhood comfort food has stuck with me. Here's the good news: Popcorn is a whole grain. One cup has 6 grams of carbs, one of which is fiber, and has only 31 calories.

Here are some of my other favorites...

Bananas. I eat at least one a day. A medium-size banana contains 3 grams of fiber and a hearty dose of vitamin B6, crucial for more than 100 different functions in the body, including calming the body.

Oatmeal. I prefer to eat this during the winter months and I sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. The particular type of fiber in oats has been linked to improved heart health, weight management, and has helped reduce cholesterol.

Blueberries. I eat fresh when I can and frozen when I can't, and they're a must-have ingredient in my fruit shake recipe. This super fruit offers some fiber and a whole host of vitamins and antioxidants. Eating just one serving a week has been linked with warding off cognitive decline as we age.

To take it a step further...if you're feeling stressed or anxious, try eating carbohydrates. The effect that carbohydrates have is their ability to produce serotonin. (Serotonin gives you a calm and relaxed feeling.) It is also important to include vitamin B6 in your diet as it ensures the production of serotonin. Carbohydrate rich foods like pop corn, oatmeal, and berries, helps fight cortisol (which my body does not make enough of); a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands that when not regulated can lead to auto-immune diseases as well as other health issues.

Carbs: Good for the body and the mind.

You may also enjoy, Rain or Shine.

As with any change in diet, you should always check with your health professional first.

Photo: ThomasLife

October 21, 2014

Schoolhouse Electric

One of the wonderful things about having an Instagram account is finding new resources. That's how I came to know Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.. This Portland, OR store is filled to the brim with vintage-inspired lighting and a lot of other design goodies. There is something for everyone who loves a taste of the past, but don't think that means your interiors have to match. Modern elements work wonderfully with vintage as you can see from the top photo. This living room uses the Miles Floor Lamp to give this space a nice stream-lined look that could work in a variety of settings. Another Instagram user also found a way to include their Ion C table lamp into her bookshelf vignette. I think it looks amazing!

Check out their website for all things d├ęcor and request their catalog.

Bottom photo: Michele LaTier

October 20, 2014

Vacant Home Staging

Last week, I taught a Vacant Home Staging class at Churchill Furniture in Medford, MA. Our enthusiastic group got to view the showroom once class was finished to see just what styles of furniture and accessories work well for staging in general.

The whole debate as to whether or not you should set a table with plates, utensils, etc., was finally put to rest. If you have a small eat-in kitchen that needs a bit of pizazz, go ahead and play with the table a bit more, but if you have a dining room filled with beautiful things, including the table, then simply add a centerpiece and you're done. Get rid of the bulky flower arrangement and candles and use topiaries, a platter, maybe a few teacups as though you're getting ready for a party. This adds color, texture, and a bit of style without going over the top. And although there are a few plants in this photo, don't got overboard here either. Keep it simple.

Living spaces must be comfortable looking, stylish, and accessorized just enough to be able to add color and texture. Don't overdo the pillows on the sofa. Move the throw to the ottoman instead and place a book on top as though you've just placed it there after reading a chapter. Artwork needs to be the appropriate size and color, but it also needs to be rather neutral in theme. Keep decorations to a minimum on tabletops and shelves without it looking bare.

Whether you're staging a true vacant, adding furniture rentals to an occupied home, or outfitting a model, VHS will give you the tools to strike out in this area with confidence.

You may also like, Color: Staging Your Home for Sale and Paint Colors for Staging.

October 17, 2014

Here I Am

I've been hanging around with some pretty cool people this week. I've spent my time in Lowell, MA teaching a class, attending the ADE conference...AND hanging around with some pretty cool people. (Have you been following along on Instagram?) We've been talking shop, learning and laughing a lot. However, I am worn out. I will be spending the weekend putting up my feet and rubbing dog bellies. That's it. Because next week, I'm teaching a class. Who's in charge of my schedule these days?

I hope you all have something much more fun, or at least relaxing, planned. Here are a few things to read that I found around the web. Enjoy your weekend!

Fashion trends real people can wear.

Ditch the book club and start one of these instead. Love it!

Tricks to a long and happy marriage.

Make soup this weekend.

Three Instagram accounts that make me happy...@allthingshusky, @passsionpassport, @theperksofbeingaweasley.

Looking for Halloween costume inspiration for you and a friend? Here it is.

October 16, 2014

Witch City

We're headed to Salem, Massachusetts next weekend! We haven't been there in a few years, so we decided that it was time for a return visit. Of course you know all about the famed Salem Witch Trials of 1692, but did you know that this waterfront town thrived on farming and fishing in the seventeenth century?

In the eighteenth century, Salem developed into a major fishing, shipbuilding and maritime trade center thanks to its burgeoning codfish trade with the West Indies and Europe. International trade with Europe, the West Indies, China, Africa and Russia produced great wealth and prosperity. Salem architect and wood carver Samuel McIntire (1757-1811) was employed by many of the sea captains and is responsible for stunning Federal-style architecture and ornamental carving throughout the city. Salem has one of the grandest collections of Federal style architecture in the world. This alone is worth the trip.

Salem is also home to American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne who worked in the Custom House where he wrote his novel The Scarlet Letter. And of course, The House of Seven Gables made his cousin's home known to all. The settlement, including The House of Seven Gables and his birthplace, are open to the public.

Witch City is also the place to be in October. Not only will you be treated to costumed visitors, stores filled with everything Halloween, but also a host of historical landmarks that help to tell the story of some of America's richest history.

My friend Karen, who is now lives in Salem, gave me an insider's perspective.

You must explore...

Visit the Salem Witch Museum. This was one of my favorites. (And check out the Peabody Essex Museum, too.) Tour the House of the Seven Gables it's located right next to the ferry dock. Hawthorne's spirit is alive and well. The Custom House is also a must see. Take a ferry ride into Boston. The coastline is just beautiful and you'll be able to really see those gorgeous Captain's homes. And don't forget to take a trolley tour to really see it all.

You must eat and drink...

Have a Lobstertini at The Lobster Shanty then go eat at at the Jean-Louis Pasta Shop. My friend tells me this is the best pasta she's ever eaten. Red's Sandwich Shop is a great breakfast and lunch spot. Or indulge in my weakness, a juicy burger from A&B Burgers located in the old jail on St. Peter Street. Pick up some Christmas gifts (like their ribbon candy) or just satisfy your sweet tooth at the Ye Olde Pepper Candy Company.

You must get in the spirit...

Catch the History of Halloween at Cinema Salem. And don't forget to visit the Haunted Happenings website for a complete calendar of events.

Photo: Flickr.com

October 15, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

This past weekend, per my daughter Kate's instructions (read: pleading), I made this little dish. I had just stocked the house with groceries, but the one ingredient I was missing was organic chicken broth. Luckily, David volunteered to go get some while I started pulling out the other ingredients. Pot pies aren't hard to make, they just take a few extra steps. You can make double or single crust, deep dish or regular, with vegetables or without.

Chicken Pot Pie

2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (instructions below)
2 tablespoons butter OR 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn...)
2 prepared pie crusts or homemade (instructions below)

1. Heat oven to 425°F. Make and/or assemble pie crusts for a 9-inch pie pan.

2. In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter or canola oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently until tender. Stir in flour, salt and garlic powder until well blended. Gradually stir in broth, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.

3. Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust and seal edges. Cut slits in several places in top crust. Remember: You can opt to only use pie crust as a topper. Simply fill pan or dish with mixture and top with crust.

4. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Baked Chicken Breasts

2 lbs. (approximately 2-3) chicken breasts
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Coat chicken breasts with olive oil (approximately 1-2 tsp. per breast) and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Bake for 20 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and let cool before shredding.

Pie Crust

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Crisco
6 tablespoons of cold water plus 5 additional tablespoons as needed.

1. Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.

2. Cut in the shortening with your fingers or a pastry cutter, until the pieces are the size of small peas.

3. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons water over the flour, and gently toss with a fork. Push the flour to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining cold water, and mix until all is moistened and combined.

4. Divide the dough in half, and form each half into balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Photo: flickr.com

October 14, 2014

Shopping Peterborough

While we had company this past weekend, we went into town to celebrate Our Town's 275th birthday along with everyone else, and I scoped out a new store. Cross Road isn't actually new, it's just back. Now housed in a newly renovated building that is home to Sarah's Hat Boxes, business offices, and tenants, you can find Cross Road on the lower level alongside the Nubanusit River and right next to the Waterhouse restaurant in Depot Square. Filled with vintage finds and new and unique gifts, it's definitely worth a look. (You can find other store recommendations in my Our Town post.)

A few trends to note: wall sconces are very big right now. They add architectural interest and dimension to a room that regular wall art just can't. Glass vessels of all shapes and sizes are still going strong and you can find many of them here. And, of course, vintage suitcases not only look smart, they provide additional storage for just about anything in any room of the house.

And not quite so new, Treat Goods is an adorable store filled with treats and goodies for your pet, and you. So far, Cooper and Dante have enjoyed chewing up two squeaky toys and that beautiful bone you see in the photo. They're still stocking up, so I hope that have more durable toys for my two! 2% of all proceeds are donated back to animal rescue organizations. Treat Goods is also located in Depot Square.