Finding that perfect gift for the season, a few of my favorite things!

With Thanksgiving  tomorrow and soon to be over, I am ready to dive into Christmas.  I absolutely love Christmas.  Decorating the house, the tree, the shopping, the giving.  I’m funny about gift giving.  I don’t just want to buy something and hand it over for the occasion.  I want to find something special for the individual, something that I think they will like, something that makes them feel like I put thought into purchasing just the thing for them.  This year I’m taking a cue from my Cuz who shared something of herself with me for my birthday.  So this year for my gift guide, I’m thinking of my favorite things and how they might be a special something for one of the dear people on my Christmas list.

A few of my favorite things:

1.  Personalized note pads – who doesn’t need a notepad to jot down a reminder list or a note or message?  Why not make it unique by adding a name or initials?  Paper Source and Horchow are my go to stores for stationary.

2.  Calendars – I still like a fun calendar.  Inslee by Design is a go to for me with three options now, the Calendar Girls (my fav), the animals, and food.  What isn’t to love and they come with their own easel.

3.  Scented candles – Jo Malone and Diptyque are two of my favorites.  What is better for Pamper Sunday than a bubble bath with candle and a glass of wine?

4.  Scented soaps – Jo Malone is my go to but I also look for lavender soaps from Provence.

5.  A monogrammed tote – My favorite is from LL Bean.  Their totes come in multiple sizes and colors and may be monogrammed.

6.  A duffel bag for the traveler – The options abound for a duffel from Longchamp to Louis find the one that will fit your traveler.

7.  Jewel case from Leontine Linens – This is one of my favorite things.  I love Leontine Linens.  Their linens are fabulous.  I have a set of lingerie bags and the matching jewel case.   They are constantly in use for travel and I’ve gifted friends with their own custom monogrammed set.  The best yet is they are made to order so you can design exactly what you want for that special person.  Note they have a lead time so think about this one early.

8.  A comfy sweater or pullover – What is better for a Christmas gift than a cashmere sweater or pullover.  The sweater pictured here is from J. McLaughlin and is soft and comfy.  I also love the Vineyard Vines three-quarter zip pullovers for lounging at night.  This is a go to for those cold winter nights.

9.  Gloves – Who doesn’t need a new pair of gloves for those cold winter mornings?  It is already chilly here.  Those pictured here have the seamed fingers so you can use your phone!

Other favorite things for my list include Moravian cookies or sugar cake from Dewey’s Bakery, poinsettia or amaryllis for those who have everything and will enjoy something pretty for the season, a warm throw for those times you just want to curl up with a good book (so many options are out there from an H blanket to a faux fur throw from Pottery Barn).  A donation to a the charity that your friend or family member supports is another  great option.  The goal is to be creative, to think outside the box, to find that gift that places a smile on your friend or family member’s face.

 

 

 

Back to school equals time to organize!

I have not been a student for decades but I love back to school.  There is something sad about the end of long lazy summer days and a sense of an anticipation of a new beginning with the start of a new school year.  With the start of a new school year there is the sense of learning something new, meeting new people, reuniting with friends you’ve not seen over the summer,  and anticipation of fall with the changing of the leaves, tailgates and football season.  Yet what I love most about back to school is the school supplies, or in my case, the chance to organize my life!

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I clean up my office.  Shred all the papers that I no longer need.  File away the finished projects, review to do lists, and figure out what still remains relevant.  The clean out takes the longest amount of time and then I get to organize what is left over.

Have you heard of Levenger?  If not, check out their webpage at levenger.com.    I am addicted to that company and their Circa system in particular.    The circa system uses a series of discs and covers to create notebooks where you can easily move pages in and out to where you need them.  This is one of my favorite travel tips. When I travel I create a notebook with my flight and hotel information as well as information and recommendations on any local places I might want to visit.  That way, if wifi fails me, I have everything in one place in print!  The circa system also lets you add features like a zip pouch for receipts or a sleeve for brochures or other things you might collect.  I use the circa notebooks for business as well as personal.  I have a notebook for each major project so that everything related to that project is in one place and at my fingertips.  That makes it easy when someone calls or pops in with a question.

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Next I’m off to Amazon, or Staples, or Target for folders, clips, and pencils and, well you get the picture.  When September comes along I have everything in place, at least for a few months!

In addition to the circa notebooks, I also use three Ulysses notebooks and a Neely and Chloe/Inslee planner to organize my life.  I have one small Ulysses notebook, a PM, that I use for nothing but life critical information.  A larger Ulysses notebook, the GM,  goes with me to every meeting for notes which I can then transfer into the topic specific notebooks with the rest of the information relating to that project.

I also use my mac calendar and the reminder feature on the iPhone to organize my life.  The reminder app is great as it carries across all my devices and permits me to schedule tasks.  I’ve learned to add a reminder or make a calendar entry when I respond to any email or as I work on a project.  That way I get the satisfaction of clicking completed when the task is done!

So what are your tips on how you organize your life?

My Blue Room

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For the past few months I’ve been rearranging two rooms in my house.  Both bedrooms, I decided to repurpose the one on the front of the house as a sitting and tv room and the other as a guest room.  The guest room was easily set up but the new sitting room I tackled as a new project.  I scoured decorating magazines and design books and toured every show home within driving distance before settling on a plan.

I decided on a blue and white color scheme.  Inspired by the master en suite at the Raleigh, NC show home, I contacted Palette Paint on Ivy Road in Charlottesville palettepaint.com.

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They are wonderful!  They carry Farrow & Ball and Fine Paints of Europe paints.   The room I’d seen in Raleigh had a lacquer finish that I wanted to copy.  My twist was that I wanted to give the ceiling that high gloss finish.  A decorator in New York who did one of the rooms in the 2016 Kips Bay Show Home first clued me into Fine Paints of Europe.  If you are looking for that lacquer or very high gloss finish, then you want Fine Paints of Europe paint.  It gives a mirror like finish that does not disappoint.  They can also custom mix the color to your specifications.  I wanted to match a blue in a fabric I planned to use in the room.

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I used a high gloss white on the ceiling and a Farrow & Ball blue color in the Fine Paints satin finish.  One caution, the paint quantities differ from the usual gallon or pint you get at Home Depot and I recommend using their primer, especially for a deep color.

I also recommend working with your paint specialist. Palette was absolutely amazing.  They worked with me to select and customize my colors to come up with the perfect solution.  As an added plus they were fun to work with.

Since the room had a window seat perfect for reading I wanted an upholstered seat cushion.  Second Yard, also in Charlottesville, was my go to for fabric (thesecondyard.com).  After multiple fabric swatches, I found the perfect fabric for the window seat and the desk chair.  Once I had the fabric for the desk chair that was the color I took to Palette to match for the walls.

A white egg chair and Meis van der Rohe daybed make up the large pieces in the room.  The daybed is great for a nap or stretching out with the quadraped and, since it is the same size as a twin bed, can be used for an overnight guest.  I tapped CB2 for acrylic tables and scooped up lamps, a rug, and sideboard from Palette. The desk table is a family antique and the bookcase made by my Grandfather for my parent’s first home.

I completed the room with a painting by my great-grandmother, an illustration by Inslee Farris at insleebydesingn.com, photographs I’ve taken on trips abroad and framed, and my special treasure – a piece of hand made paper that looks like lace that I found in a small shop in Paris in the Marias.  Last, but not least, two whimsical touches, a leather dachshund, named Rosemary, and a leather Kangaroo, named Roo, that serves as a magazine rack.

Now on to my home office, my current work in progress . . .