Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Jason Turner has a lot of goodness to come home to.
photo: Jane Dagmi
On Wednesday morning at the Greenville-Spartanburg airport, the Turner family was waiting anxiously. Ansley, Carson, and Laney were waiting for their dad. Little Camden was waiting for his grandfather, and Mr. & Mrs. Turner were waiting for their son.  Jason Turner -- father, grandfather, and son -- was coming home from Afghanistan to spend the holidays with his family, and he is sure to be hugged, kissed, and lovingly admired as soon as he gets within sight of his family.

I am a seasoned airport greeter, and truly love the whole build-up that goes with waiting for family to arrive. My children and I plot ruses that will surprise our visitors but not scare them. I am the front person, seemingly alone, and then the kids jump out from the wings and into the arms of an aunt, cousin, or grandmother. This is our welcoming committee scenario.

screen shot taken from the opening airport sequence in "Love Actually."

One of my favorite movies, "Love Actually," pays homage to the wondrous airport love-fest. Beyond the fab mostly British cast -- Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Kiera Knightley, and Emma Thompson -- who each tackle and triumph with affairs of the heart, the general theme supports the idea that "love is actually all around." The first and last scenes of the movie take place in airports; the camera, in slow, lyrical motion, catches a multitude of happy reunions. The narrator's opening sentence is: "Whenever i get gloomy about the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport."

So if you find yourself in an airport this holiday season, take note of the XOXO that's all around. It's pretty spectacular.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spruced Up: 5 Easy Christmas Decorating Ideas

We celebrated Hanukkah in our house, but I always loved decorating for Christmas.  I was thankful for our gift-a-night tradition, but for a girl with a penchant for decorating, picking out the colorful candles for the menorah couldn't compete with picking out ornaments and tinsel for the tree. I was lucky to have friends with trees though, so I got invited to "do Christmas" at their homes. Thank you Linda and Hope.

Fast forward 20 years...

I work at Country Living Magazine; I live and breathe holiday at least 4 months a year. I plan photo shoots in season and pray for snow. I shoot holiday in June and it just feels wrong. Whatever the timing, year after year I come up with new ways to decorate trees, mantles, and any other part of the house, and also hope that the homeowner has done it for me.

Here are 5 easy Christmas decorating ideas -- all taken from the pages of Country Living Magazine, from shoots that I produced. Hopefully, one or more will work for you!

Mary Jane's Porch. Photo: John Blais
1. Paint popsicle stick or twig stars in an unexpected bright color. Buy made or use a glue gun to make yourself.  I chose yellow because it had no traditional holiday connection. It just seemed to go really well with all the red.

Kathryn's feather tree. Phoho: Keith Scott Morton
2. Cut out paper shapes and punch a hole and hang. Use a stencil, or a Fiskar's shape punch. Keep it simple or personalize with words, drawing, etc. Other paper goods that work well as ornaments are photos and postcards.

Christine's pear place cards. Photo: Steven Randazzo
 3. Decorate with fruits of the season. Pears are lovely to look at and to taste. Tie a card or tag onto the stem and you've got an instant placecard.

Diane's bounty; photo: Steven Randazzo
 4. I never tire of the look of glass jars brimming with colorful ornaments. Each arrangement turns out differently and there are good views from every angle.

Mary Jane's bed; Photo: John Blais
5.Some beds naturally call for sprucing up, and an open canopy is the perfect spot for some garland swag. A strand of lights makes for a merry mood.

Monday, November 7, 2011


a portion of my collection grouped under a buffet
I XOXO books and have an obsessive book buying and book photo-taking habit.  I buy books for reading, reference, and collage. Many of the books I have are vintage, and yet I inevitably find odd bits of information still relevant today.

Books warm up a space and give clues about the people who live and work there. Whether they look tidy or seemingly out of control, on shelves, on chairs, under tables, or bedside, these wonderful stackers with their creamy pages and varied fonts and illustrations are probably (at least for today) my favorite home accessory.

me with Brian Wynn having a very level-headed conversation at the Atlanta Gift Show many years ago
I notice book collections wherever I go.  Here are 10 collections that I adore...
interior designer Scott Robertson's library in Lake Worth, FL
the library at The Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach

the stacks at Mary Messer's bargain bookshop, Waynesville, NC
from Richard Hallberg's Dining Room in the House of Windsor
inside an antique mall in Asheville
Books as bricks. Found on 4theboys 
my friend's sons have been avid readers since before they could write. their dad writes a childrens book blog.
an art installation at Palm Beach
in author/brand strategist Robert Sawyer's home, most surfaces are covered with books

some of the books in Santa Fe artist Carol Anthony's studio. Love the worn "madeline".

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


"Drats" is what I'm thinking. Is it too late to get kids excited about making Halloween crafts? Is it to late to get moms psyched about displaying these artful creations? Can I apply some of these wish-I saw-these-earlier Halloween craft ideas to an upcoming season? The answer to all these questions lies between "Maybe" and "yes."

Here are a few Halloween crafts and easy to assemble decorating ideas, that I XOXO, discovered perhaps a tad late, that I could alter and adapt for different seasons:

Check out how blogger Alisa Burke transformed kraft-paper tubes into little monsters with great amounts of style. She has a great way with color and paint. I think I can definitely apply this craft to Pilgrims, Native Americans, reindeer or elves.

Multi-talented blogger mom Allison Waken comes up with good craft ideas such as this spider web. I'm not sure if this is adaptable for Christmas. I was thinking could you shape the hanger in a sort of elongated triangle and then criss-cross with green yarn and then add sparkles and stuff to make it look festive and tree-ish.
From Martha Stewart -- these pasta anatomical collages aren't just for Halloween. I could see doing a project like this anytime in school. It's educational and fun, more than scary. A bunch of these would look all in similar frames or in shadow boxes, labeled with medical titles such  as: vertebrae fusili. Just thinking bout a pasta turkey or perhaps use "angel" hair in manger scene for star of Bethlehem.

Or perhaps, to jazz things up a bit, with inspiration from artist Butch Anthony, cut an image out from a magazine or blow up a family photo and then place the pasta on top in a skeletal fashion.

I went to my old alma mater -- Country Living -- for some craft inspiration. For Christmas, I would fill glass vessels with fawn-a. I have a herd of flocked and plastic and glittered deer, and I'd place them on moss, on pedestals, sitting down, etc.

I saw a very cool accordion book on Elle's Studio. Thought it was decked out with a BOO theme -- check it out  on the PDF here. -- a blank book, like a blank page, can be anything. And these books, once personalized can sit on a mantle or anywhere for decoration.

Happy Halloween and happy crafting y'all. :))))

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ten Details from Veranda Magazine's House of Windsor (that you haven't seen in the magazine)

me in Martyn Lawrence Bullard's media room
Tracy Morris provides color direction to design tip-hungry guests
 I spent 4 days in July out in L.A. at Veranda Magazine's House of Windsor concept house. I was there for Benjamin Moore, alongside interior designer Tracy Morris, who had the uncanny, and at first intimidating ability to rattle off 99% of the Benjamin Moore paint deck colors and coordinating numbers from memory. In addition to engaging guests in conversation about paint, color, and design, I took lots of pics. It was a great event and I XOXO-ed being there.

Here're ten of my shots from The House of Windsor that did not appear in the October issue of Veranda.

1. Within arms length, Martyn Lawrence Bullard's decorated wrist
2. the awesome beaded chair in Windsor Smith's family room
3. the fun mostly vintage book selection in Peter Dunham's study
4. the constant flow of beverages thanks to Scott from Cappuccino on Call
5. the stone urn in Richard Hallberg's dining room
6. one example from the parade of colorfully dressed Californians
7. zigzag stitchery on fabric-wrapped objet in Richard Shapiro's great room
8. the eclectic assortment of art in Kathryn Ireland's tricked out stable
9. the compelling patina of old books
10. the art of matching paint to pedicures

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Architectural Crush of the Week: Washington Rd @ Lakeland Dr. in WPB

As I 'm driving north of Southern Blvd. on Washington Rd. in West Palm Beach, the road bends and there's this salmon pink and white 70's style low-rise popping out from the blue skies. Certainly the color draws my attention, but I am starting to think that it's often the decorative concrete block that plies my heart! I drive up to West Palm Beach once of twice a week. Each time I pass this building, I get a slight rush.
It's a rather humble and ordinary example of Florida architecture. Save for the bright white balconies. stairwells, and festive color, the plan does not strive much beyond highway motel. But then again, when i first landed in Florida 9 years ago, I dreamed of becoming a motelier.
It's funny how the "the good brick" is used on the side that counts most for curb appeal. I am sure this upgrade also runs along the east side which faces the Intracoastal. Can you spy the water ahead?.

And I just XOXO this type of trim -- on walls, doors, ceilings...wherever!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Wigs on your head, sure! When I was in my early 20s, during my particularly low self-esteem period, I owned three.  One wig was black, straight and Cleo-patriotic. Another was dark, long and wild with exotic corkscrew curls. The third was blond and kind of Doris Day-like. 
I saw these wigs from Ateliers C&S Davoy at the Atlanta Gift Show in July
Wigs on your mantle, foyer table, or bedside...not so sure. Historic wigs do have merit as artful constructions. They have a firm place in fashion. But as a long-haired woman with two long-haired daughters, I am not that interested in bringing more hair, even if it is rolled and neatly tied, into our home.
image of a wig shop courtesy of The Costumer's Manifesto
But centuries ago, wigs were a status symbol. Made of animal and human hair, they were reserved for upper class members who could afford to wear them. Generous sprinklings of powder kept them white and en vogue.

 photo courtesy of Kirk Albert Vintage Furnishings
When I was working steadily as a photostylist for Country Living Magazine, I never once tried to procure a decorative hairpiece as a prop. I relied more on stacks of books, casual throws, and flowers to warm up a room. Of course in an offbeat dressing room with lots of shelves or cubbies, a collection of wigs might be perfect.  


They're oddly fascinating, and I do XOXO how fashion and home rub off on one another.  As for me, I am not running out this moment to find some wigs for my home or anyone else's home. This decision, like a hairstyle, however, just might change.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ARCHITECTURAL CRUSH OF THE WEEK: 7500 Davie Road Extension, Hollywood

Last Friday, I had more of an urge to get on the road than on-line, so I drove down to Davie to some of my favorite South Florida thrift shops. On Davie Road, in between Shop A and Shop B, I passed the "Prince of Peace" Church built in 1960. I've passed this house of worship on and off for years, and it has always drawn my attention. This week I decided to pull over and shoot.
I'm not sure exactly why I'm crushing on this building. It certainly isn't the color or lush surrounding landscape -- in fact the window-blocking placement of palm trees bothers me and makes me feel kind of itchy. I think what resonates with me, rather, is the structure's exaggerated and confident angles that seem to echo sleek aeronautic design.
Maybe one day someone will build the "Princess of Peace" and paint it pink. Of course, then I suppose the angles will have to be softened by gentle curves.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10 Stylish Memories from HD Boutique Miami

This was my first visit to the Miami HD Boutique trade show, and I XOXOed it. I saw many spiffy things,   met amazing people, and reconnected with some old friends. Here are my top 10 memories from HD show:

2. the exquisite feel of Delos' mohair rugs (and how my "Stormy" Revlon polish fit right in)
3. getting weepy over Kindel's Dorothy Draper collection
(and making the acquaintance of Fred Hutton III)
4. meeting Peter Glassford, the man responsible for recycling the wood scraps 
from his furniture biz and 
creating the most inspiring backdrops with them.
5. This Ceramic Head Lamp from Shades of Light, reminded me of
a lamp I fell in love with at the Screen Door in Asheville, NC
6.talking with Ian Rubinstein about his 100 pair of glasses that often coordinate with a wardrobe full of  custom shirts made in Hong Kong.
7. Specialty Tiles's silk-screened ceramic plank tiles tested my weakness for faux bois

8. POLaRT Design's colorful and comfortable tufted furnishings

9. Size does matter -- Foundation's refreshingly large sunburst mirror brings major cheer to a space

10. Daniel Dobin, President of Valley Forge Fabrics