Summer Entertaining

Monday, June 20, 2016

One of the things I love most about summer is the ease and simplicity of entertaining.  We spent our summers in California and almost every night we would pack up an assortment of cheese, meat, crackers, dip, fruit, nuts…whatever we had in the pantry and the refrigerator and arrange it on a great big platter or cheeseboard.  We would throw on a tablecloth, light a few candles in lanterns and watch the sun dip into the Pacific.  Now that our kids are older we no longer leave for the summer, but we still enjoy a beautiful feast out on the patio around sunset.

I buy a few cheeses, almost always one that goes with a fig jam, peppers, Castelvetrano Olives, salami, cashews, tomatoes, crackers and bread and when I have time, I make Ina’s marinated artichoke hearts.

Antipast with Roasted Artichokes

Antipasto with Roasted Artichokes

ingredients for Roasted Artichoke Dressing

Antipasto with Roasted Artichoke Dressing

Ina Garten’s Roasted Artichokes, you can find the recipe right here.

Dana Point Sunset

Mary Ann in San Francisco just wrote a great post on the Best Party Platter complete with a shopping list and I can’t help but miss California a little lot when seeing Elizabeth’s recent post from Big Sur. I guess I’ll always be California dreaming…  Happy first day of summer.  It’s gonna be a good one!  xo annie


DIY Father’s Day Gift Wrap

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Everyone knows how much I love Staples Engineering Prints…especially for DIY gift wrap.  And one of my favorite ways to use them is for Father’s Day.  Staples makes it easy to create one of a kind gift wrap from a photo or even quotes or phrases like we did a few years ago.  When we made the one with quotes my kids used to say when they were little we had the best time remembering them that I almost felt badly that my husband wasn’t in on the moment.  Here’s a look back at what we’ve done in the past using Engineering Prints.

DIY Father's Day Gift Wrap + Staples Engineer Prints

My kids and I came up with phrases and funny things they used to say when they were little.  We took notes while brainstorming and remembering phrases and then they put them into a word document.  We uploaded it like a photo to the Staples website and chose the largest size so that we could use it to wrap several gifts.

DIY Father's DAy Gift Wrap + Staples Engineer Prints

DIY Father's Day Gift Wrap + Staples Engineer Prints

I am always taking photos of my family from the back.  For some reason, photos in this way take me back to the moment in a flash.  And I love that!  These are from family vacations and just seeing this reminds me of that day so clearly.

DIY Father's Day Gift Wrap + Staples Engineer Prints

This time I used the same photo on the right that I used a couple of years ago and a new photo where we recreated it in the exact location which happens to be a favorite vacation spot.  All you do to create this is upload a favorite photo to the Staples website right here.  In the Staples search bar, type in Engineering Prints and then select the gray Get Started bar. You’ll need to set up an account if you don’t already have one, then select Engineering and Oversized Prints on the far right of the screen.  Then you’ll see a screen with a landscape design.  Below that select Engineering Prints in B & W. Right below this it will say:  Not suitable for photo images.  The quality is not sharp, but it’s great for this purpose.  On this page you will Add Files (upload photos right from your computer) and give your project a “Job Title” and select number of copies and pages.  Below that you need to select Media Blueprints where you will choose your size.  Once you’ve added your photo and selected the size, you will add it to your cart and have the option of picking it up in-store or having it sent right to your mailbox.  So easy, inexpensive and a fun way to make one-of-a-kind gift wrap.  I’ve also used them for graduation and birthday parties!

Staples Engineer Prints for Birthday decorations

Graduation decor using Staples Engineering prints



Lizzy Ragsdale Art

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nashville artist Lizzy Ragsdale painted this new addition to our dining nook from a photo of one of our favorite places, Tuscany. I moved the painting from room to room for a few weeks when I realized the kitchen is where I love it most. The colors of Tuscany are warm and inviting–like a kitchen. The painting is the first thing you see when you walk into our home and it draws you into the kitchen. It’s my favorite room in the house. A happy space with timeless design, but warm and cozy at the same time.

Art + Kitchen

Meet Lizzy Ragsdale – The artist of the painting “Tuscan Sunset”

Art + Kitchen + Lizzy Ragsdale

Photo credit:  John Love 

After a few emails and deciding on a photo of Tuscany for Lizzy to create something for us, I felt like I wanted to “meet” her more than just through email. We arranged a time to talk.  I completely forgot about the time difference between New York and Tennessee, so it was quite early one morning. But of course she was a gracious as could be! Here’s a bit of our discussion.

Q: When did you first become interested in art?

A: I always interested in art. Always wanting to make something. My teachers came to my mom and suggested art lessons. At about nine I took private art lessons after school learning to draw. I was introduced to water color, acrylic, charcoal, pastel. I loved making things, but drawing first.

Q: Did you study art in college?

A: Yes, I went to Ole Miss and majored in art.

Q: How long do you work on a painting?

A: The process is different every time. I have 10-15 paintings in progress in my studio at a time. I think it’s important to step away and not overwork it.

Q: How do you choose what to paint?

A: I’ll do sketches if I’m inspired. Sometimes a color scheme will inspire me. In college, I became more comfortable with the figure and with working more fluidly. I started experimenting with abstracts. Abstract Landscapes not a specific place.

You can see more of Lizzy’s work on her website where you can purchase an original piece from her online shop or commission a painting by emailing her at  Follow her on instagram too!

Here’s a few more photos of how Lizzy’s painting transformed our black and white kitchen with her warm painting of Tuscany.  We were so moved by the piece when we first unwrapped it, that we decided to spend two weeks in Tuscany this summer.  This particular spot depicted in the painting is a short walk behind the ancient estate which is now the resort called Borgo Scopeto Relais.

Art + Kitchen

Art + kitchen

Art + Kitchen

Timeless Kitchen in black and white

Art + Kitchen

Lizzy’s painting inspired me to bring a little color into our black and white kitchen and I love how it added so much warmth.  Our first stop for a few things was Anthropologie in Greenwich, Connecticut.  A beautiful store to shop and be inspired.  We used their latte bowls in red and yellow and displayed a few of our favorite cookbooks including a recent purchase of the Tuscany cookbook and A Kitchen in France:  A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse.  We could not be happier with having Lizzy’s art in our kitchen.  What would you have Lizzy paint and how would it inspire you?

Sel Rrose

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Yesterday we came upon the prettiest little coffee shop on Delancey Street.  We were not expecting it.  It was just one of those serendipitous moments to walk one way, rather than another and on the side of Sel Rrose.  Had French music been playing we would have thought we were in Paris.  They have a beautiful instagram account where their customers have provided them with photos.

The Cafe Sel Rrose

The Cafe Sel Rrose

The Cafe Sel Rrose

The Cafe Sel Rrose

The Cafe Sel Rrose

Every detail in this little shop has been carefully planned from the white La Marzocco espresso machine to the industrial corrugated walls that divide the space. The walls are illuminated with a line of lights to give it a perfect glow even in the afternoon.  Then there’s the gray leather bench with mid century lines paired with more traditional bistro tables.  Each table holds a glass of dried lavender.  I ordered a cappuccino and asked for a proper cup. Not because I wanted to be high maintenance, but how beautiful are these gray cups and saucers in this space?  If you are anywhere near One Delancey Street, you must stop and see this lovely shop.  Madeline and I have started a new instagram account called Coffee Shops of New York.  We hope you’ll check it out and follow our New York City coffee shop adventures. You can find it right here!

Backyard Party Drink Station

Monday, May 16, 2016

*This is a sponsored post in partnership with World Market.  

Backyard Party Drink Station

I was asked to join a group of bloggers to get the word out that there’s a new World Market store that just opened in Paramus, New Jersey.  I am very familiar with World Market from California and Arizona, so I was happy to be asked to shop at the beautiful new store and share my purchases.  I went to the store with an open mind and hoped that once I got there I would be inspired.  Since it’s May, they have a lot of great outdoor items all over the store.  I decided to create a Backyard Party Drink Station.  It did not take long to fill my cart with great items that I’ll use all through the summer for entertaining.  I’ve always loved the idea of having a “drink station” where guests can help themselves.  For larger parties, you could create two or three and make one for adults and the other for kids.

Backyard Party Drink Station

Decorating with fresh lemons and limes

Backyard Party Drink Station

Backyard Party Drink Station

Tea lights in clear glass add a little magic

Backyard Party Drink Station

Backyard Party Drink Station

Here’s what I bought and how I used it.  I converted my potting area into a drink station by storing the pots and gardening tools and replacing it with drinks and glassware.  I simply lined the shelves with kitchen towels and put a table runner on the picnic table that I use as a potting bench.

Here’s what you can expect at the new World Market in Paramus, New Jersey starting this week!  And the best news…you have a chance to win a $500 Word Market gift card celebrating the new Paramus store, but anyone can enter!  Here’s the link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 19th

  • 9am – special ribbon cutting ceremony-store opening immediately following
  • $10 Cost Plus World Market gift card for the first 100 customers in the door!

Thursday, May 19th – Saturday, May 21st

  • Free tasting and live entertainment
  • 4-7pm Thursday & Friday
  • 1-4pm Saturday
  • Free tote bags for the first 100 customers in the door each day.
  • Daily raffle drawings! Prizes include three (3) $250 World Market gift cards each day.
  • Spend $40 and get 2 FREE Movie Admissions
  • Plus, save an extra 20% on your next purchase. Offer valid 5/19/16-5/21/16.  Valid at the Paramus, NJ Cost Plus World Market store only. For coupon:


Here are the items I used for this post.  Please note:  I use affiliate links.

Friday Link Love

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hey everyone, It has been cold and rainy, but I’m hoping for some sun this weekend!  Here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share!

First, I am in love with the work of artist Lizzy Ragsdale.  I can’t wait to introduce you to her.  She did a beautiful oil painting for us from a photo of one of our favorite places….Tuscany.  She’s gorgeous and incredibly talented.  In the meantime this photo of Lizzy is by her talented photographer boyfriend, John Love.  You can see more of Lizzy’s work here and I’ll be doing a post featuring her work and a little Q&A to introduce you to Lizzy in the next couple of weeks.

Artist Lizzy Ragsdale

2. My niece Courtney told me about these beautiful prints from Angela Hardison.  Citrus….It reminds me of when we lived in Arizona.  In the springtime the orange blossom scent was intoxicating.  This print reminds me of Arizona in the best possible way.

3. Are you in need of Denim Therapy?  It’s in an office building in midtown Manhattan.  You can drop off or send them your ripped jeans and they will repair them and send them back.  Denim comes in about a zillion shades of indigo and somehow they match the threads to your pair that has worn through or ripped and they can repair it like no one else!  I just received mine back in the mail….and I’m amazed!

4. In case you get some beautiful flowers for Mother’s day, here’s a great post on how to prolong the life of cut flowers from Design Mom.

Serena & Lily Design Shop, Westport, CT

5. Some of my readers know that I have started working part-time at the beautiful new Serena & Lily Design Shop in Westport, Connecticut.  It has been fun to be a part of the team that helped bring the store together by opening boxes and moving things into the house.  It really is like moving, except everything is shiny and new.  The house that is now Serena & Lily is a historic home that was tucked behind some buildings across the street.  They actually picked it up and moved it to its current location, 35 Elm Street in downtown Westport.  I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite things at the shop over time, but for now, a huge thank you to Marina and Emma, Julie and Megan, Lara and Carolina for stopping by and saying hello.  I hope to see you again!  Drop me a note so we can stay in touch!

Have a great weekend and I hope the sun shines bright wherever you are!







Gift Tag DIY + Mint and Turquoise

Friday, April 22, 2016

Today I was in the city doing my usual thing…having coffee, walking around and feeling inspired.  It was the most beautiful day.  As I was enjoying my coffee at Bluestone Lane, I noticed the colors of the shop and the cups were today’s Poppytalk colors of mint + turquoise.

Coffee at Bluestone Lane 33 Carmine Street, NYC

DIY Gift Tags

DIY Stripe Watercolor Gift Tags

Turquoise Water in Cancun, Mexico

I love these colors for spring and summer.  They remind me of the ocean and bright sunny days.  As we head into summer I know I’m going to need gift tags to attach to a bottle of wine, flowers and candles that I’ll be giving all through summer.  These are as easy to make with just a few supplies you probably already have around the house.  Watercolor paper, inexpensive water colors, paint brushes, a hard edge to paint stripes (like a ruler), a hole punch, paper cutter and some twine.  Hope you have a beautiful weekend!

xo annie







Devoción Coffee Brooklyn

Monday, April 4, 2016

Devoción Coffee in Brooklyn might just be the prettiest coffee house I’ve ever been to…anywhere.  The light shines through the atrium windows in the ceiling above the large open warehouse space to provide a lovely setting and to provide the light needed for the “Green Wall” which takes up the entire end wall of the shop.  As soon as you enter the building you see steel and glass windows that look onto the roasting area of this huge shop and immediately you know this place is the real deal.  The only other Devoción is the original location in Bogotá, Columbia.

Devoción Coffee Brooklyn

Part of the charm is the attention to every detail including their cups and saucers in sunny yellow.  I found these that reminded me of the ones at Devoción.  You can purchase their coffee on their website.

Devoción Coffee Brooklyn

Devoción Coffee Brooklyn

Devoción Coffee Brooklyn

The center area which holds two large leather Chesterfield sofas, benches, tables and chairs and the open floor space in this huge warehouse help make this an oasis in the city.  While we munched on turkey sandwiches and enjoyed our coffee we noticed people working, talking, reading and even taking a nap.  Devoción in Williamsburg is a place you’ll enjoy on a day when it’s beautiful or on a day when the rain is falling and you feel warm and safe inside.  The market umbrellas help make this space feel like you are some place tropical.  If you are anywhere near Devoción or even if you’re not….make it your destination.  The space, the coffee, the food is simply amazing.

Devoción is located at 69 Grand Street at Wythe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


Sweatshop Coffee Brooklyn

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sweatshop coffee Brooklyn

Sweatshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has pretty much everything I love in shop.  Painted brick, dark gray walls and concrete floors, wood tables and stools and even a neon sign in white.  Sweatshop is known as Creative Space + Espresso Bar.

Sweatshop Coffee Brooklyn

Sweatshop Coffee Brooklyn

I love the gray cups and saucers and the enamelware tumblers in black and gray.  Every detail in this shop is sort of perfect. I might need to order a few of those for summer entertaining on the patio.  I found them here. 

Sweatshop Coffee Brooklyn

A delicious scone, a beautiful latte in a lovely coffee house and time spent with my daughter, Madeline = a perfect day!  Sweatshop is located at 232 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Next stop Devocion!



Black Brick Coffee, Williamsburg

Monday, March 21, 2016

Black Brick CoffeeWilliamsburg, Brooklyn.  Last week Madeline and I spent the morning in Brooklyn.  The main purpose of our trip was to see Clare at Arrojo. Before and after our appointments we checked out four pretty cool coffee shops.  Our first stop was Black Brick on Bedford Avenue.  We found it after seeing it on the instagram of Coffee Cups of the World.

Black Brick Coffee Williamsburg Brooklyn

Black Brick Coffee Williamsburg Brooklyn

Black Brick Coffee Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Look up, down, everywhere there were details not to be missed in this eclectic shop.

Black Brick Coffee Williamsburg Brooklyn

It took almost 90 minutes in morning traffic from Connecticut so I sort of knew I might not make a healthy choice. Boy, was this a great place to start. The dulce de lece donut was worth every calorie. We chose a seat at the window. I’m not sure why some seats are designated as computer free tables, but we were okay with that. Clare mentioned later that we missed the secret garden in back. I guess maybe they sensed we were not locals…and therefore the garden remained a secret?

Black Brick Coffee Williamsburg Brooklyn

Next stop, Sweatshop on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg.


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