3 easy DIY ways to update home decor


In theory I would love to update the decor of my apartment every quarter but that rarely happens.This is not because I lack inspiration or ideas, in fact, I usually have a long list of things I want to do to freshen things up, I might even go as far as buying a couple of new items, making a few new pillow covers, and storing things that look tired and dont match my current tastes.



images via La Dolce Vita, Cavalier design

So, what really stops me you might ask? The answer is a really simple one – I fail to make time for it. Mundane chores like laundry, organizing, and everyday activities take over and before I realize it, Spring has turned into Summer and then Fall! You know how it goes, right?


image via Rue Magazine

The only time of the year when I do make time to update my decor is Fall. I think that is largely due to the approaching holiday season or my birthday or because I spend more time indoors. Whatever the reason is, time is still an important factor so I prefer doing updates that save time and money.

1. Color and graphic punches: Freshen up solid drapes by attaching ribbon two inches from the edge of each curtain panel. Vertical stripes in a fun color carry the eye upward and add definition to tired curtains. – HGTV Magazine, via HGTV.com


Switch up existing bedding for a set that packs a stylish graphic punch, like these by paola navone for Anthropologie .



2.  Avatar. Change hardware and add a new coat of paint to dressers and side tables to give them a brand new avatar.


Painting the drawers a different color from the frame injects a shot of drama, and the flat corner braces add visual interest and glamor.

See the full DIY on laquer and linen.


DIY for this black and gold dresser on roost home. 

3. Why use plain boring plastic hangers when you can hang your clothes on sexy sparkly ones?

Spray paint your ugly plastic hanger with the gold spray paint and then glue sequin ribbon around it. Closet and mood enhancers!!


DIY on Oh Lovely Day via Glitter Guide

Do you have easy time saving tips that help with your seasonal makeovers? Do tell!



Fall 2013 Fashion Top 5 Trends – click to read more


With Fall-like nights becoming more frequent, its time to get our closets ready to embrace the season in outfits that are simplistic, comfy, elegantly styled with a reined in rebellious edge! Tartans and florals, punk, masculine, oversized, bold, embellished, studded, furry, noir, primal, and layered fashion forecasts this Fall are all about stepping out with confidence and effortless glamour. Keep accessories simple yet bold, distressed leather belts, felt hats, and beanies, along with cozy, oversized scarves.



1. Black and White

Huge mass appeal for this trend, everyone loves the classic black and white pairing. Contrasting separates in interesting shapes, luxe fabrics, capped off by equally monochromatic embellished accessories. Think ivory, cream, and stark whites with textured blacks! Im loving Chloe’s take on this with a white blazer and lacy tulle asymmetrical skirt.


2. His and Hers

A legit excuse to raid the boy’s closet! Borrow anything in a traditional pattern (Prince of Wales checks, glen plaid, pinstripes)—the more Wall Street, the better”, says Elle Creative Director Joe Zee. Pair masculine prints think grunge-y flannel to prim tartan, oxfords to toms, with feminine florals for a defiant and tailored look this Fall. The rugged handsome style becomes feminine with more relaxed pieces paired with ruffles, intricate lace, and delicate socks. Accessories are simple yet bold, featuring distressed leather belts, felt hats, and beanies, along with cozy, oversized scarves.


3. Punk Phenomenon

Edgy materials like studs, metal buckles, spikes and leather that invoke rebellious attitudes. Overall, the look adds a modern, fashion-forward edge to otherwise fairly uneventful staples. A millennial’s interpretation of this trend? Pair  studded leather with flannel and accessorize with pearls.


4. Oversized 

Outerwear to pants, think big and comfy!  Fall’s overcoats are drastically oversized, with dropped shoulders, large lapels, and bold in bright solids and  patterns! Wide-legged denims to trousers, harem pants  to leathery  sweat pants and stretchy capris.


5. Embellished and Sparkly 

More is more when it comes to adding embellished separates to your outfit this Fall. From casual tees to see-though lace blouses to hand-embroidered jackets and glittering collars, this is the season to unleash the princess. Wear sequins and bling, shimmery eyes, crystal heels and feel like no part of you is lacking in absolute glamour.




Review: FabFitFun | Feels Good to be VIP

Subscription boxes are all the rage and an awesome way to sample many great brands and products at once. With so many to choose from, makeup and skin care junkies find it tough to decide which subscription beauty box is best. We were recently sent a FabFitFun VIP box to review and liked their hand-picked selection, by celeb Guilian Rancic, for us.


After years of Hollywood exposure to the best, Guiliana created a lifestyle site FabFitFun focused on sharing her discoveries in fitness, fashion, and beauty.  The good news for us is that this year, they’ve expanded into the beauty box world by way of FFF VIP.  For $49.99 each installment (four annually), you receive over $200 worth of full size, top notch, beauty products that are absolute favorites of Giuliana.  Their summer VIP box is filled with awesome products, that promise to leave you looking gorgeous and feeling refreshed.


Our Favorite treats inside the FFF VIP Summer Box:

  • Ivory Mason Sunglasses: these shades are super gorgeous, but the good news is that if the pair doesn’t flatter your face, you can exchange them!
  • Infinity Glow on the Go: maybe the best of the box, this fine mist spray is the absolute perfect product to tan your face without clogging your pores OR exposing yourself to the harmful sun.
  • Catalina Su Lipgloss: this nonsticky, long lasting gloss has a chic nude hue that can go from day to night.
  • Purlisse Pur Delicate Soy Milk Cleanser: don’t mistake it’s kindness for weakness, this gentle formula removes even waterproof mascara while leaving your skin so smooth.
  • Evian Facial Spray: this goes directly into your bag and must make it to the beach.  This refreshing, hydrating spray moisturizes your skin and cools you off.

AND you’ll also get:

  • It Surf Spray
  • Orly Nail Polish
  • Dark Chocolate Chili Almond Kind Bar
  • Yes to Cucumbers Wipes


This is the gift that keeps on giving for your friends/family and you!! And what’s exciting is that if you order before the end of August, you’ll get a free full size Purlisse Soy Cleanser ($36 retail value) added to your Fall box! Click here to join the club.

– Monica Farren

Explore Historic Maryland | Star Spangled 200


A few weeks ago, I was invited to a press trip to St. Michaels as part of the Star Spangled 200‘s Chesapeake Campaign, a traveling festival celebrating the story of Maryland’s fight for the nation as the British roamed the Bay. Star Spangled 200 is a cultural and educational initiative to commemorate Maryland’s unique contributions to the defense and heritage including the pivotal clash that ensured American victory, an iconic flag, and our national anthem.





History buffs, academic, families and pretty much anyone interested in American history in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, take a trip back in time along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail to hundreds of sites throughout Maryland that invite you to explore the story of the War of 1812 , visit the places that changed America and experience history as it comes back to life via re-enactments, educational activities, food and drink, and other interactive adventures. From the ramparts of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine to the site of the Battle of Bladensburt, the State of Maryland is dotted with the rich history of the war that forged our nation.

The days of our visit, August 10 – 12, marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of St. Michaels bringing the War of 1812 to life. On August 10th, the waterfront and historic districts were transformed to a time 200 years ago, with costumed re-enactors strolling about town, boat-rides, cannon-firings (I have never seen my dog, Dexter as scared as I did when he heard the cannons, poor pup),horse-drawn carriage rides (Dex is also oddly afraid of horses), and lantern-lighting ceremony celebrating the legendary “Town that Fooled the British.”







The celebration continued on Sunday, August 11th when the Talbot County Watermen’s Association hosts the 4th Annual Watermen’s Appreciation Day and Crab Feast at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM). The event included a boat docking contest, live music, celebrity appearances, and more, while honoring the watermen who work the same waters once under siege by the British two hundred years ago.






We had such a lovely time, learning about the town, going on guided tours, sailing a skipjack, devouring local cuisines, and meeting the friendly residents of St. Michaels.



And as it is always the case, good company is essential to having fun. It was such a pleasure to meet Laura Powell (dailysuitcase.blogspot.com ), Lara DiPaola (traveling mommachickennuggetsofwisdom.com , Lara’s lovely family, Cassandra Vanhooser (talbot county), and seeing Lauren Walbert SS200. Thank you for a fabulous trip down history of the Chesapeake.

For more information on the Star Spangled 200 visit starspangled200.org

Picnic By Design | August 21, 2013 | NYC


One of the summer’s hottest events, DIFFA‘s (Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS) Picnic by Design will be held tomorrow August 21, 2013 at the Scholastic Rooftop Atrium.


This exclusive event invites prominent designers to create an urban picnic setting, with each designer’s custom made picnic basket available for sale to support the charity. As a party stylist, I love going to DIFFA’s Dining by Design series, and have been wanting to attend Picnic by Design, now in its second year. Another reason I miss living in NYC. Le sigh!



This year Robert Allen will be a key participant, joining as a corporate sponsor of Picnic by Design. In addition to their sponsorship of the event, Robert Allen’s textiles will be featured in many of this year’s picnic settings and baskets. Robert Allen will be featured in five designers’ picnic settings, and TWO of them are #blogger19 alumni ( waving hi Michelle and Tyler, congrats you two)

Tyler Wisler, of Tyler Wisler Home, utilizes Robert Allen and Robert Allen Contract fabric in his Native American-themed picnic box, including rich blues, such as Hoara in Night Sky and Until Dawn in Deep Sea Dive, as well as sleek black and whites, like Gosport inIvory and Alchemy Plume trim in Onyx.
Michelle Alfano, MoD Design Guru, creates her basket utilizing the darker shades of two DwellStudio and Robert Allen fabrics,Palmwood in Jet and Mod Reeves in Steel from their new collection, Modern Bungalow.
Clark Gaynor Interiors includes Glimmer Sequin in ChartreuseMalakos in Malachite, and Landsmeer in Ultramarine to add pops of color to their western picnic barrel, complete with blankets made of burlap and cowhide.
Cheryl Umbles, of 
Cheryl Umbles Interior Design, uses Robert Allen Latticesape in Onyx as a blanket to evoke a chic, timelessdesign.
Dee KemperDomoore Designs, will be using Robert Allen’s Alchemy Linen in Copper and Metallic Gems in Brass to set the stage for her jazz themed picnic setting, complete with a rhinestone-encrusted piano.

To check out all the baskets or for more info on the event, visit www.picnicbydesign.org.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Tour With Brizo

Last month Brizo held a reunion for #blogger19 in Memphis. On the first day, Brizo took us to tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and housing. Brizo is a national sponsor of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway program since 2010, providing upscale kitchen and bathroom fixtures for each giveaway home. St. Jude treats children fighting cancer and other deadly diseases and for every child treated at St. Jude, thousands are saved worldwide through medical discoveries at the research hospital. Ranked one of the best pediatric cancer hospitals in the country, St. Jude is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.

St. Jude has developed protocols that have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital first opened in 1962 to 80 percent today. 

The St. Jude facilities are state-of-the-art, beautifully designed with fun pops of colors and patterns. Very different from what you might expect from hospitals, especially one treating children with life-threatening diseases and cancers. Artwork made by children at the hospital adorns literally every wall in the hospital and housing facilities; the messages in each work are powerful and positive, reflecting their emotions and challenges. In fact the entire decor and vibe at St. Jude is cheerful and positive spreading smiles everywhere. Which made this experience even more rewarding and life-changing for me. At St. Jude’s no child’s family pays for anything; treatment of the child, housing of them and their family of four, schooling, and groceries, everything is taken care of. No family has to worry about any sort of medical bills or expenses so they can focus on giving their child what they need most.

Some interesting facts about St. Jude’s Research Hospital:

$1.8 million = operating cost per day at St. Jude, which is primarily covered by public contributions

$528,621 = standard treatment for one child battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia

$168,658 = cost of a bone marrow transplant

St. Jude maintains 78 inpatient beds and treats upwards of 260 patients each day, approximately 7800 patients a year

This is a photo gallery of the design and and the artwork displayed in housing and hospital buildings at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Founder of St. Jude, late Danny Thomas believed that “no child should die in the dawn of life,” . Donations from us help bring St. Jude closer to the day when every precious life can be saved. Take a look at the many ways you can help support St. Jude and the lives of children battling cancer.

It was truly an amazing experience to tour the St. Jude facilities. Thank you Brizo for this life-changing opportunity.

Disclaimer: Brizo invited me to attend an all-expenses paid reunion in Memphis.

Recipe: Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart



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1 pie crust, room temperature

1 cup fresh strawberries

Pie weights or kidney beans/chickpeas

Sea Salt; I used the original sea salt by Old Salt Merchants


Caramel Sauce:

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup unsalted butter

Chocolate Ganache:

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped finely

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted through a fine sieve

1 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out pie crust and press into 4-inch tart pans with removable bottoms. Add baking weights or beans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool in tart pans.

Caramel sauce: On high-medium heat, melt butter in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add sugar and stir until sugar is fully dissolved, about 4-5 minutes. Add sea salt. Turn off heat and slowly whisk in heavy cream until well combined and you get a thick syrup. Pour into mason jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache: Bring cream to a boil in a medium non-stick saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in cocoa powder in small quantities. When well combined, add chocolate and stir constantly to avoid lumps. Stir in almond extract. Remove from heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes until cool enough to handle.

Pour a thin layer of ganache evenly on tart crusts. Let cool in refrigerator until ganache is set. Then spoon a layer of caramel over ganache and let stand in refrigerator until firm, about 10-15 minutes. Finally pour a thicker layer of ganache over the caramel sauce and allow to set for 20 minutes or until ready to serve.

To serve, remove tarts from pans and place on individual plates. Garnish each tart with fresh strawberries and sea salt. Serve immediately.