Friday, October 9, 2015

beekman 1802 meets blithewold 1907

Brent and Josh display Beekman 1802 Style
Pinch me! Yesterday I had lunch with Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, also known as the Beekman Boys. Yup, all kind of cool stuff is always happening here in the Ocean State.

See the fork and napkin at 6 o'clock? That's where I'm seated!
There's Brent signing a copy of their latest book Beekman 1802 Style, The Attraction of Opposites.

A completely swoonworthy book -- not only is it beautiful with a substantial weight and inventive styling and photography, it's filled with original ideas and useful advice that has me reconsidering my own decor notions but in the best possible way.

Hooray for books!

So how did this all come to be?

In early spring not long after a site visit to stunning Blithewold {for this event}, I was invited to join the planning committee for the return of the venue's Gardener's Day. Without hesitation, I was in. Being part of the proceedings was a treat in itself. Meetings were held at the mansion over fresh baked scones with a talented group assembled and lead by Education Programs Manager, the wonderful Julie Christina (see below). Gardener's Day, Style-Inside and Outside the Home, took place yesterday, October 8, 2015 and it was a success!

Blithewold sweeties, Julie and Dan Christina
Lately the weather has been very-October-fickle (sweater on, sweater off) but yesterday was glorious! Pleasant and breezy with dappled light across the grounds met with unobstructed views of sparkling Narragansett Bay. Spectacular.

The event was staged under a tent on the grounds

The large tent was outfitted with fairy lights, and centerpieces of vessels filled with fresh flowers, herbs and plants, were anything but garden variety. Each banquet chair was festooned with a burlap bow -- a few I tied myself once I got the hang of it. Many thanks to Blithewold's esteemed Margaret Whitehead, for being a patient instructor!

LUCKY ME! I was seated at the table with the special guests! In addition to a delicious lunch, we were treated to an informative agenda filled with planting tips and demos. After dessert the true treat was listening to Brent and Josh playfully shared the true tale of how Beekman 1802 came to be. It's an amazing story! So inspiring and demonstrative of how sometimes when life throws you lemons, not only should you make lemonade but share it with others.

Still with me? A few more deets:

Warm apple cranberry hand pie with cinnamon ice cream by Russell Morin of Russell Morin Fine Catering
Ed Bowen of Opus Nursery gave a lively talk followed with a demo by Katherine Tracey of cleverly named Avant Gardens, which featured how to top pumpkins with succulents.
Artisans, growers and vendors such as Newport's Cottage & Garden were on-hand with displays
My signed copy!
Brent, Josh, me, Style, and the dappled light
I'm now so taken with Brent and Josh that I feel like their number one fan.

The magazine! On newsstands now .

But I'm just one in a billion... just like they are.

Thanks for reading.


Find me returning to Blithewold next month for Crafting Night at the Museum!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

crafting night at the mansion (with champagne, cupcakes and me)!

I've always wanted to do some kind of evening crafting event with champagne and cupcakes and here it is at stunning Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum, overlooking Narragansett Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island!!! Learn all about the stunning venue here.

Crafting Night at the Mansion: With Author and Tinkerer Elyse Major

WHEN: Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 7:00PM - 9:00PM
WHERE: Blithewold Mansion
Crafting Night at the Mansion
With Author and Tinkerer Elyse Major

Thursday, November 12, 2015
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Grab your best pair of scissors and head over to Blithewold for an evening of crafty fun with author and tinkerer extraordinaire, Elyse Major. During the hands-on, informal session, participants will make to take home various projects inspired by Major’s books and blog only with a holiday twist! Party favors to tinkered holiday tags will spring from your newly inspired crafter-self. Get a jumpstart on holiday preparations!

Cupcakes and champagne will be the cherry on top of this fun-filled evening.
Major’s books will also be available for sale and/or signing.

Member $40, Non-member $45

Click here to register.

Autumn view of the bay, from the mansion. Photo credit: Allan Millora Photography
Tinkering, cupcakes, champagne all in a glorious setting! Hope you can attend!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

i miss my couch

I suppose I have a long history of becoming sentimentally attached to furniture. I remember sobbing when my parents sold this chair. It was the perfect place to fall asleep, even during your own birthday party.

My husband Jeff and I purchased the cloud blue slipcover couch below soon after we moved into our house. Goofy ol' couch, it was never even comfortable! The stuffing was never right. The furniture store even sent someone to add stuffing to it and then it was too bulky. Our boys even removed some of the stuffing to make a craft project. To have to sit on it during family movie night was akin to losing a bet yet somehow the frame broke rendering it more sinkhole than seat.

A few months ago we scheduled a bulky item pick-up and Jeff actually hacked the couch apart to fit through the front door to get it to the curb. Good riddance! The coveted comfortable love seat remains, soft and faded, worn and stained. It will be heading to the boy's study room.

So what's in the living room now? An Ikea Ektorp sofa and love seat. I haven't mentioned this but I'm currently working on a book about altering things from the Swedish retailer and have ended up with some pieces in my home. Even before this project came to be, I had my sights set on this very couch.

The wallpaper-backed window stays!
I think I am blue over missing the pale wash of color of the big uncomfy couch and am now trying to figure out how to make the dark grey work amidst the soft hues.

Just now I decided to skip Pinterest and simply do a Google Image search for "grey Ektorp couch." I very much like this tone-on tone but the white cushions aren't going to work in my house.

Image: Comfort Works

Pillows, a throw and some sparkle will help. Perhaps I will paint my existing lamp bases in a shiny metallic?

This image from Ikea is very nice. Sparkle: check; smaller coffee table: noted; inclusion of woven chair and basket: nice. Rug: also noted.

I'm really liking all of this, too. Similar layout.

Okay. I think I'm feeling better now. If you have any ideas, please comment. Thoughts on window treatments? Should I paint the coffee table the pale blue of the old couch? That goofy ol' couch.

Gathering ideas at charcoal + cloud


Saturday, August 22, 2015

clothesline bunting in cottage country

I really enjoy developing new ideas and it's such a bonus to be able to share them in print. Cottage Country is a new title from the editors of Romantic Homes and it's filled with inspiring ideas from beautiful homes, and features a new simple project from me!

On pages 106-107 you'll find an enjoyable, easy craft that came about one afternoon after spotting some calico and gingham scrapbooking papers at Michaels.

I played with making templates to trace and then cut-out along folded patterned papers, like making paper hearts.

{I should be working in the Girlie Office but somehow I always end up in the sunnier dining room. Does that happen to you? I don't remember why the watering can is there!}

Of course I had to mix-in some pretty paper {aka color-copied fabrics as detailed in my books} and then use scraps to decorate a clothespin or two.

Also find my "Supplies Party" Make It in the current issue of Romantic Homes.

tinkered trivia: The Supplies Party projects were actually items I made as styling props for my first book that weren't substantial enough to be their own project.

Oh, and tinkered tip: don't forget to grab inexpensive craft supplies from the back-to-school sections at places like Target once they end up on clearance! There's no better time to stock-up on glue and tools like math compasses (compassi?) which are idea for making circles.

Happy tinkering!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

summer {beach} bucket list

I have such a twisted relationship with summer. I revel in the abundance of fruits and vegetables, day trips along the coast taking in deep breaths of warm salt air, and indulging in seasonal treats like lobster rolls. On the flip-side I wilt in the heat and become anxious and cranky, not to mention my curly hair goes crazy. And now here we are in August -- already! -- and I don't want summer to end.

Not until  ...
I've been to the beach at least one more time
Had at least one more lobster roll
Paddled along on a kayak
Savored a few more pieces of salt water taffy

I do know this, summer is especially beautiful along coastal New England. This post includes some favorite scenic and foodie snapshots, via my Instagram page, along with quick notes about top spots visited so far this season. Images aren't watermarked so please cite if sharing.

Block Island, Rhode Island
Block Island Tourism Council
Beautiful unspoiled destination. Arrive by ferry and leave your car and troubles on the mainland. Consider a Green Diamond Taxi Tour and ask for Polly. Rent a bike. Have a lobster roll at the Surf Hotel, chowder at the Mohegan Cafe, and an oatmeal raisin cookie at Aldo's. Stop by Lazy Fish to browse cool furnishings and decor books. Many inns have shared bathrooms so if that's not for you, be sure to inquire! My sisters and I stayed at the Gables Inn and the room was sweet and made us feel like we were at someone's grandmother's home, in a good way.

No TV, no problem? Keep the windows open to listen to music from the nearby restaurant.
Love hydrangeas? This is the place for you.
Served hot or cold, love a New England lobster roll
View from the ferry
At Island Bound Bookstore
Get around by bike, foot, taxi
Pathway behind the Blue Dory Inn
Wickford, Rhode Island
Historic Wickford Village
Makes for a nice day trip. Best part of our day was sitting by the water and watching boats and ducks. Nice assortment of shops (including antiques) and cafes.

New favorite: coffee oreo from Inside Scoop
The Porch
Westport, Massachusetts
FarmCoast New England
Beautiful area of Southeastern Massachusetts. Westport's beaches have soft sand, dunes, nice waves, and there's always a sailboat in the distance making any outing picturesque. Stop by Handy Hill Creamery after the beach for the best onion rings ever.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce
If you don't live on the East Coast, you might not realize that Cape Cod isn't a town but actually a hook-shaped peninsula. Its 15 main towns encompass quaint villages, seafood shacks, lighthouses, ponds and bay and ocean beaches. Generally a visit to Cape Cod means dotting around from town to town and finding which places appeal to you most. Below is where we spent time during a recent overnight stay. Search: Cape Cod at this blog for similar posts noting shops and more.

Sweet outbuilding at the Blue Dolphin Inn, Eastham. Tidy motel that can accommodate a 1-night stay.
Nauset Beach in Orleans

The Mayflower Restaurant, Provincetown
All hail the Lobster Club!


School of barley pops at Chatham Candy Manor
Artist Steve Lyons in his gallery/studio/shop
South Yarmouth
Cape Cod Salt Water Taffy, South Yarmouth
If you're ever planning a trip to this area, there's so much to do and see.

Here's to a great rest of the summer to all!