This year I used the letterpress cards by tinyprints.  I of course loved the birch tree in black and white design and the matching address labels.  If you haven’t quite gotten to your cards this year, why not send New Years cards?!  Tinyprints is giving away one reader 50 New Years cards.  Leave a comment and I will select a winner (by on Monday!

Christmas Cards + Tinyprints + A Giveaway

Hand Lettering + Christmas Cards + Sharpie

I’m not sure what it is about Sharpie Metallic Markers, but they make it so easy to make it through a stack of cards.

Happy Holidays!

xo  annie



Modern rustic christmas + Connecticut

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Modern Rustic Christmas

Decorating for Christmas at our house in Connecticut means candles in every window, wreaths, greens everywhere and lots of twinkle lights. Just driving around or walking through town make you feel as though every Christmas carol is about the scene that’s right there in front of you.  Here is my take on a modern rustic Christmas table at our home in New Canaan, Connecticut.   Last year I made these tiny tree place cards.  This time I used cuttings from a flocked mini tree I picked up at Trader Joe’s and added a star sticker on the top of each “tree.”  I plan to use them for a cozy lunch next week and then again on our Christmas morning breakfast table.

modern rustic christmas

Christmas Morning Breakfast-syrup

The Bear Hug Maple Syrup from The Vermont Country Store was the inspiration for the entire table.  Even my 15 year old declared it “cute” when he saw it in the kitchen the first time.

modern rustic christmas

Our backyard is pretty much a dream come true when it comes to the variety of evergreens and holly bushes.  Perfect for making wreaths and arrangements for all over the house.

modern rustic christmas

modern rustic christmas

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season! xo annie

Advent Calendar {diy}

Monday, December 1, 2014

Every year I try and come up with a simple {DIY} Advent Calendar.   My brown paper bag advent calendar remains my most popular post and pin.    The one I made for this year took very little time and just a few supplies from the backyard and a trip to Michaels. The only tricky part is trying to find 24 tiny gifts.  It was a lot easier when my kids were younger.   A piece of candy, a holiday book or DVD….now the expectations (mostly mine) are so much higher, but it’s still fun at all ages.

Advent Calendar {diy}

Advent Calendar {diy}

Advent Calendar {diy}

Advent Calendar {diy}

Advent Calendar {diy}

The supplies started with having my husband cut a few branches from a tree and then I spray painted them gold.  I found tiny and small size bags at michaels and some small take-out containers.  I wrote numbers one through 24 on each bag or container with a gold Sharpie and hung them with white twine from ikea.  I added a strand of of white lights, because one can never have too many twinkle lights!

Advent Calendar {diy}

Tree stump side table and owl from west elm


Modern rustic table top + thanksgiving

Monday, November 17, 2014

Modern Rustic Table Top + Thanksgiving


modern rustic table top + thanksgiving

modern rustic table top + thanksgiving

Modern Rustic Table Top + Thanksgiving

modern rustic table top + thanksgiving

Modern Rustic Table Top + Thanksgiving

Modern Rustic Table Top

This year for our Thanksgiving table I am staying with my usual color (or maybe lack of color) scheme.  In the New york Times SundayStyle section,  Bill Cunningham’s “On the Street” calls it “Autumnal Mood, moody combinations of black, white and gray.”  That pretty much describes how I dress and the way my house looks.  I used my everyday white dishes because I have so many platters, bowls and covered tureens that I like to use.  I’ll add in a few pieces from Juliska in gray and some tarnished silver along with table runners in black and white buffalo check.  I used small succulents to take the place of flowers on the table saving room for the platters of food.  I painted tiny clay pots with chalkboard paint and added our names with a paint marker.  For a little extra lighting I used an old birch branch wrapped with white twinkle lights and suspended it from the window trim using clear fishing line.  The light is so soft and warm I plan to keep it all winter.  Now for the menu, the shopping list…are you cooking this year?


Smooth Mashed Potatoes + thanksgiving

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Our Thanksgiving menu changes a little from year to year, but one dish that never (ever) changes is our traditional mashed potatoes.  These potatoes are the creamy, pound of butter, smooth kind of potatoes that even the pickiest eater will love.  Mashed potatoes are easy to make, but to get that really creamy, smooth kind, there are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Here’s what you need:

8 to 10 medium russet potatoes

3/4 to 1 pound butter, melted

about 4 ounces heavy cream, warmed


 and you need this equipment:

potato peeler

vegetable scrub brush

sharp knife

cutting board

large bowl

large pot

small sauce pan

potato ricer

stand mixer with stainless bowl

Whisk attachment for mixer

Here’s what I do to to make the most luxurious mashed potatoes:

Making Mashed Potatoes + New Canaan Farmer's Market

–  Buy 8 to 10 medium russet potatoes that are similar in size.  Buy fresh, you’ll notice the difference.

–  Scrub the potatoes clean

– Peel the potatoes and rinse them in cool water and place in a bowl of cold water (this step is not necessary if you are only making a small batch).  Potatoes start to turn black if not in water so when peeling several potatoes at a time, you’ll need to keep them in cold, salted water until you are ready to cube and cook them.

– Cut the potatoes horizontally down the middle, then cut again so that you have 6 to 8 pieces that are similar in size. Cutting them the same size makes the potatoes cook at the same time.

– Put all the cut potatoes into a large pot filled with cold, salted  water completely covering the potatoes.  Boil for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until potatoes are very tender.  They need to be really fork tender.

– Once the potatoes are done, drain them in a colander and then put them back into the same pot.  Put the pot back onto the burner for a few seconds so that any moisture that remained in the potatoes will evaporate.

– In order to make really smooth mashed potatoes, this next step is crucial.  Rice the potatoes.  Place spoonfuls of cooked potatoes into the ricer until done.  Work fast at this point.

– Now the riced potatoes need to go into the prepared bowl of a electric mixer. The bowl has to be warmed.  If you add hot riced potatoes into a stainless steel bowl that is cold or even room temperature, the starch reacts and the potatoes won’t blend well.  I warm the bowl by pouring boiling water from a tea kettle into the bowl.  It stays warm until I’m ready to add my potatoes.  I pour the water out and add the hot riced potatoes to the hot mixing bowl.

– Now add your melted hot butter, warmed heavy cream and salt.  Start mixer very slowly until everything combines, then continue to mix at a higher speed until they are smooth.  Scoop them into a serving bowl and serve hot!  (They can actually be made ahead and reheated slowly).

Roses + A Halloween Mantel

Friday, October 31, 2014

I am delighted to review the roses I received from The Bouqs Co. because they are absolutely gorgeous.  They arrived last Saturday in a beautiful box and this is how they look today, six days later!  An enclosed note suggested to remove a few outer “guard” petals, which I did and I changed the water every day.  I am so happy with the quality and I am sure I have many more days to enjoy them.  The website is beautiful with so many wonderful flowers to choose from, but I think my selection, Dawn,  is perfect for the month of October.

Roses + A Halloween Mantel

Roses + A Halloween Mantel

Roses + A Halloween Mantel

Roses + A Halloween Mantel

Roses + A Halloween Mantel

I decorated the mantel for Halloween this morning.  We found the mirror while visiting Madeline at Bucknell yesterday.   Elizabeth’s, A little restaurant on Market Street in the college town of Lewisburg, PA not only has maybe the best food in town, but they have mirrors all throughout the restaurant and they are for sale.   I added a mirror to our lunch tab.  I have been looking for a mirror just like this ever since we moved back to Connecticut.  Last week I picked up some branches from the driveway thinking maybe I would do something with them for Halloween….I spray painted them black and added them to my mantel.  Happy Halloween!

brass candlesticks (vintage), owl (west elm), Candle with “D” (Pottery Barn), Vase (Jonathan Adler)


Front porch pots + winter

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Company is coming next week and the porch needed a little attention. Last week Mary Ann was here and I managed to eke out one more week with mums planted in my front porch pots, but now they are officially done for the season.  I thought about pumpkins, but really I’m in the winter mind set.  I know….crazy!  I went to Valley View Greenhouses in South Salem, NY in search of boxwoods, but they had containers filled with small shrubs and immediately I was smitten the idea.  My ikea planters or pots are not very big….but I managed to cram three in each. I chose ones that had a variety of color and texture.  On the 31st I’ll add pumpkins to the mix, but now all I have to do to get my porch ready for winter (and Thanksgiving) is decide what to do with the chairs and add a runner like this one from Home Depot.  It’s less than $3 a foot and can be cut to your exact dimensions.  It will make the porch a lot safer in the winter months. On to the next project…

Front Porch Pots + Winter

Shrubs for front porch pots

I take my plant pot and liner so that I can be sure everything will fit. This is at one of my favorite nurseries, Valley View Greenhouses.  During the summer months I’ll plant these in a shady spot in my backyard and hopefully use them again next year in my pots or window boxes.

Chamaecyparis Fillicodus “fern,” Juniperus Squamata “Blue Star”, Chamaecyparis “Gold Mop”


oh one more thing…I added stripes to my ikea doormat.  It took about 30 seconds and I think I like it.




Gallery Wall – Part 3

Monday, October 20, 2014

Today is Part 3 of the Gallery Wall Project that was started by Mary Ann of Classic.Casual.Home and Cindy of Rough Luxe.  So today the group of bloggers will reveal their own gallery wall projects.  I have learned a lot along the way.  I am continually adding inspiration for gallery walls on my Pinterest board titled Beautiful Wall & Art.

Gallery Wall part 3

Gallery Wall - Part 3

In my own home I used a relatively narrow wall in my living room and basically filled the space with things I’ve been collecting.  Since my entire house is shades of black, white, wood with gold and brass, I honed my gallery wall collection to that as well.  My wall includes old photographs in black and white, silhouettes, a piece from Minted called Sedona, a mirror I found at a thrift store on one of many baseball weekends with my son, a small plate with a gold key that I have used in so many houses to collect keys at our entry.  I found a page from an old book of poems that says, “It Can Be Done”  Of course every wall has its challenges.  A few mentioned things like outlets or light switches.  Why do builders put them in the middle of a wall?  This has never made sense to me.  My challenge was a dated thermostat and a light switch.  I bought a Nest thinking that would add a little something to my wall, but naturally this house does not have the right kind of wires to use this device.  Nothing in a house built in 1900 is easy.  So the outdated thermostat remains.

Palm Tree Gallery Wall

Palm Tree Gallery Wall

Since the living room gallery wall is not a new project, I decided that I would do something in our attic on another long narrow wall.  My husband added molding and then I simply created a collage of palm tree photos inside the molding in a grid format.  There are 55 to be exact and naturally there was an outlet.  I went through my old photos from when we lived in California in search of palm trees, ones from vacations and Phoenix.  Then I enlisted the help of my friends to send me a few of their favorites.  Karen of Home Sweet Hollywood and Linda of Design in My View were kind enough to send me lots of palm tree photos and they both named each one they sent.  Names like:  Hollywood Sign Palms, Landscape Palms, Studio City Palm trees, Dana Point Palm Tress Through Dirty Windshield, Montage Palms, Beach Palms, Palm Springs, LA at Night, LACMA, Hollywood Post Office….it brought back so many memories.  The funny things is….I don’t even like palm trees.  Or at least I didn’t like them, but then we moved back east and all of a sudden I started seeing palm trees on Karen and Linda’s instagrams every day and I felt a pang of nostalgia.  So now, I kinda love them.  Funny how that happens.  The quote by Charles Dickens sums it up pretty well.  “One always begins to forgive a place as soon as it’s left behind”.


Thank you Mary Ann and Cindy for inviting me to join this project.  Had it not been for you I may have never finished the Palm Tree Wall that I love so much!  And now check out the gallery walls of these fabulous bloggers!

Design Chic

Design Indulgence

5th and State

Gwen Moss

Talk of the House

Driven by Decor

Classic . Casual . Home

Rough Luxe


Halloween Decorations

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween Decorations

I’m getting ready for Halloween.  October 31st is a pretty big deal in our New England town, especially if you happen to live on an “in-town” street.  Our house is black and white, very old and in the middle of town.  Halloween decorations are quite perfect for this little house.  The first thing I did was erase the usual “hello” from my front door and use a black sharpie water-based paint marker to write a new message.

Halloween Decorations

I love this owl from west elm. 

Halloween Decorations

Halloween Decorations

Halloween Decorations

I found these treat sacks that are just the right size at the Container Store.  I used tinyprint gift tag stickers and address labels to seal each bag.  I love that they are personalized.

Halloween Decorations

Halloween Decorations

When our kids were little and trick-or-treating through town they couldn’t wait to get to the “cider house.”  A house right in the middle of town would serve a cup of cider in addition to handing out candy.  My kids loved this little treat so this year I’m adopting their tradition.

It all started with a chair

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It all started with a chair
Recently I was asked by one of my favorite sites to create a design board around a chair.  I chose to design a room around the Brown Leather Uno Chair.  In my own home I have a few things I could never part with and a pair of Knoll Barcelona chairs are among those items.  I have worked around these chairs for years and in several homes.  So the idea of designing a room around a chair(s) came pretty naturally.  Comfortable seating, warm lighting, cozy elements like a rug, pillows and a throw,  big art, a storage piece at least one plant and one candle. Chairish has so many beautiful vintage accent chairs and just about anything for your home.

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