Friday, November 30, 2012


 Photos courtesy of Des Moines Register
Robert Spellman and Amanda Reynal showing their Pluggabuggs in use
  Have I got the perfect stocking stuffer for you! I proudly introduce you to the Pluggabugg, a clever little device for $9.99 that protects your iphone and ipad from water and debris that can damage it. Available in on-trend colors and designs, the gadget serves a function and looks great while doing it. Started by my sister  interior designer Amanda Reynal and her artist friend Robert Spellman, the idea came to them to create something to protect their iphone docking portal so it would not get destroyed from rain, being tossed around in a bag or other mishaps. As necessity is the mother of invention, they came up with this handy, protective gadget that works for iphones released before the 5. Choose from fun chevron stripes, solid designs or create a custom design for your design staff, store, club or family.  To see the Pluggabugg in action, my sister's friend and fellow Trinity College alum Schuyler Morris starred in their comical promo video, which you can check out here.
Think of the $$$ you will save when you don't have to replace your phone because it was protected at the beach/ from a spill/ rain.  Click on over to their Amazon page to get yours pronto.

Classic logo in green and orange

The Schuyler in hot pink with orange chevron pattern

The Beto in orange and white vertical stripes

The Whitney in kelly green and blue stripes

Once you have your gadget safely in place, be sure to send in a photo to the I Heart Pluggabugg section of their website.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


 Photos courtesy of Shellkare
 Karen Solomon, Elissa Kovas and interior designer Shelley Johnstone Paschke make up Shellkare

When festive, fun or formal is the dress code, Shellkare embroidered silk and cottan caftans, shirts and dresses will become your go-to source. Started by three friends in a Chicago suburb, Shellkare creates floaty and flirty designs that will outfit the wearer from tropical to winter climes in style. These North Shore moms have oodles of style and wanted to create a line that could translate from day to night while taking advantage of the best materials and beautiful embroidery. The name is a creative merger of theirs. Made in Hong Kong and embroidered in India, they have kept their assortment tightly edited, adding pieces as the need for particular looks arise. Their first design was in linen, and the initial neckline detailing was inspired by architectural details found on historic buildings interior designer Johnstone had seen in Paris. The pieces travel well, suiting just about any occasion stylishly. Check out their website for current trunk shows and retailers, and reach out if you want to do a trunk show or carry their collection.  Pair with favorite white jeans and jewelry, and an individualized look is born.

 Keep cool in the Kate linen caftan with fresh contrasting pale blue and red embroidery and coral beading

 In the palest lilac, the Kate linen short caftan with embroidery and semi-precious stones can go from cocktails to dinner in a tropical locale

With dark fabric and red embroidered neckline, the Kate linen caftan has beautiful contrast

Nicole, a long-sleeve printed and embroidered top available with different bead colors

 Audrey printed silk jeweled short caftan with semi-precious stone and gold embroidery detail

Nadia, a long-sleeve stretch linen top with brass beading detail

Natalie, a short sleeve top with emboirdery in silk/cotton voile

Sabrina tie-front top in flax stretch linen with elaborate gold embroidery

New for resort, Majorca tunic in terry with brightly embroidered two-tone rectangular motif at sleeve and neckline

A longer version for beach days

Full sleeves and v neckline make the Avery pleated silk blouse in emerald green a holiday showstopper

With 3/4 length kimono sleeves and longer body, the Karen blouse moves well

Elissa kimono blouse runs longer with a belt and draped neckline in a loden green silk

A party perfect top, the sleeveless Blair blouse with beaded neckline has deco detailing

For big nights out, the Alexa drape front dress in the darkest navy resists wrinkles making it a perfect travel companion


Head on over to midtown West to score great deals from Ankasa, a company known for gorgeous embroidered pillows and bedding. Their sample sale is on now, and below are some of the pretty pieces that will be included:

Monday, November 26, 2012


 Danielle Rollins with a large vase of pink and green blooms 

With the holiday season upon us, entertaining hits full throttle.  If you love to entertain and want to see how the big time  style mavens do it in Atlanta, this is the book for you.
Soiree, Danielle Rollins new Rizzoli book on entertaining for groups large and small captures her party magic down to every last detail. Reading it, you will see why she is the go-to hostess and party planner in Atlanta, with her sophisticated chic combinations of color and pattern that carry over into her schemes for invitations, china, flowers, and settings. As a friend of fellow Atlantan Miles Redd, it is fun to see how the two pull off a seated dinner in his faceted mirrored bathroom, transported from the David Adler-designed Armour estate in Chicago.  Featuring over 80 original recipes of her own (she is a trained chef)  and those from other top chef's, it becomes clear her experience proves invaluable. Every choice she makes, from flower pairings to china, is total pretty perfection. Whether it be a fete large or small, she says, "all you need is a little passion. Draw on the things in life that inspire you and make you feel good. Entertaining isn't about money or decor or finding the most famous chef in the world to cook for your guests. It's about the people. People make the party." The joy Rollins gets from raising children and this creative  self expression comes across in her writing, and I can't wait to whip up a Rollins Collins for my next cocktail gathering.

16 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
Thinly sliced cucumber rounds
Edible micro orchids (see Resources)
Sparkling water
8 highboy glasses filled with crushed ice
Yields: 8 servings
2 cups sugar
2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice (8 to 10 limes)

1. Combine 2 cups water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and liquid becomes clear; reduce heat and simmer, stirring continually, 5 to 10 minutes.

2.Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer the syrup to a container and add lime juice and 4 cups cold water, tasting to get the perfect tart/sweet ratio if you like it more tart, add more straight lime juice; if you like it sweeter, add less. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

3. To prepare for serving, in a large pitcher, mix the limeade and Hendricks’s Gin. Add sliced cucumber rounds. To serve individual drinks, fill a highboy glass with crushed ice then the limeade-gin mixture. Garnish with edible micro orchids (which add a slight cucumber taste) and top with a splash of sparkling water and a straw.

A glorious turquoise, purple and hot pink floral tablecloth anchor the color scheme at a garden party

Taking advantage of the gorgeous garden setting, the colors really pop

Every detail coordinates, down to the custom embroidered napkins

For a mother's day springtime brunch, the white table is set with Charlotte Moss's Pickard China in green and white and small terra cotta pots filled with the tiniest pink-hued French roses

For a seaside luncheon in France, a picnic basket with a blue and white Les Indienne printed napkin and one of my favorite Mottahedeh Turkish Garden Tin Plates with Turkish floral design

For a Bollywood themed dinner, a Schumacher Suzani print fabric on a the table matches the Pierre Frey Mauresque print from Braquenie on the banquette cushions, and the deep reds accent the flowers and glassware

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Every Thursday, Oomph will be adding deeply discounted pieces to a new sample room section on their site called Oomph on Elm. Starting at 8pm EST, you can find samples, pieces in one of a kind colors, and and other discontinued items. Just register on their website to access the sale. The items are up for 24 hours, and when its gone, its gone. Log on tonight to score the sweet pieces below!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


 The Avenue that never really changes. As you head down Worth Avenue all the way to the end, you will come upon the charming Via Mizner. Make a right, and at the end you will find...

Tabletop, bedding, childrens clothing and gifts lure you into the Leta Austin Foster Boutique like a siren's song.

While in Florida I had a visit with Leta Austin Foster and her daughter India. As a Palm Beach interior designer of elegant and comfortable interiors, owner of a home boutique filled with the most beautiful tabletop around, and mother to three grown gals all in the business of design, I wanted to take the opportunity to gather some entertaining advice. She has set glorious tables for some of the best party givers over the last 25 plus years, and carries charming hostess gifts season after season.  In addition to her design work, she generously shares her musings and vast design wisdom as well as her love of mayonnaise (always use Hellmans!) on her blog, Decorating With Sheets. As we sat over coffee the duo shared their experiences with me. Covering both ends of the spectrum, I got a great sense of what it is like to attend a holiday chez Foster.  Sharing her tips on everything from the right candles to use to the best  post-Thanksgiving dish to take advantage of leftovers, here are her wise words of wisdom.

Custom hand-embroidered monograms of every conceivable design are on display to mix and match colors

Beautiful brown and white Isis China can mix well with colors

 Tiny porcelain veggies make a sweet gift and also look pretty mixed in with real veggies on the tabletop

 An assortment of Printery, Bernard Maisner and Picketts Press papers and place cards for saying thank you in style

Leta's Tips for Setting the Table:
- When it comes to setting the table, use a felt liner or old quilt under the tablecloth to keep sound down and protect the table
- You don't have to buy a new tablecloth every holiday, use what you have or pick up an Indian or ethnic cloth that does double duty working on and off the table as a throw or scarf
- Don't forget about the grocery store when it comes to arrangements. Make an arrangement of fruit or vegetables instead of flowers if they are not easy to come by. Try squash down the center of the table, pomegranates and other interesting seasonal selects for their varied color and shape. Be sure to put protective plastic underneath so the protective finish on the wood does not get ruined.
- When picking colors to work with rich fall tones work well- brown and white china with touches of orange or red read holiday.
- When it comes to lighting everyone looks better in candlelight. Hurricanes and photophores cast a beautiful glow off the glass.
- Stay away from scented candles on the table as they will interfere with the flavors. Paraffin has something in it that affects your taste buds and gives of black smoke, so use beeswax that doesn't drip and trim the wicks before every use to minimize smoke signals.

A gracious formal yet inviting New York City dining room

A country dining room with historical details

 A Palm Beach dining room in fresh blues

Photos courtesy of Leta Austin Foster
A Long Island dining room with Swedish accents on the water, recently published in Traditional Home

Cooking and Serving:
- The best parties tend to serve food buffet style or French Service where dishes get passed. Just make sure to seat your guests with enough room in between so the server can reach the plate and avoid awkward angles.
- What is the secret to the best pie crust? Lard, because it really brings out the flavor.
- Is there a one pot dish that utilizes leftovers easily? Turkey Tetrazzini is easy and tasty.  Just chop turkey, sautee mushrooms, butter, a bit of milk and gravy in a pan. This is where some people like to add a cup of white wine and some chicken broth.  Let it reduce then create a rue. Cook spaghetti separately then add it to  the turkey in a low dish. Top it with Parmesan cheese and stick it in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

The Big Clean Up:
- How do you clean a pot? Soak it in water, the hotter the better. It's really that simple.
- Stay away from pots with coated surfaces, when used with high heat multiple times they give of noxious stuff.
- If candles drip on napkins or cloths, stick them in the freezer and the wax will lift right off.
- If red wine gets spilled, pour table salt on the stain and create a damp paste and let it sit. The stain will lift out.
- Grease removes grease stains, or you can place a paper towel over the stain and iron it to lift it out.
- Club soda is great for removing stains and dog mishaps.