Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's Autumn & Time to Seasonalize the Nest

The weather is finally turning cooler, and the air is crisp and clear. With autumn upon us, it's time to seasonalize the nest!
Seasonalize is a word you won't find in the dictionary, but decorators use it a lot. It means to bring your indoor environment in synch with the outdoor environment. Seasonalizing goes to the core of nesting by fostering snuggling in the fall/winter and lightening up in the spring/summer. 
Autumn is my favorite season and I celebrate it every year by seasonalizing my home. By doing so I am acting as a creature of nature and am present within it.
How do you start? It's really easy! Here are a few tips to get you on your way:
1.  When:  I seasonalize twice a year, in the fall and the spring. In the fall, I'm happy to begin the process of hunkering down in the warmth of my home during the cold winter months. In the spring, I'm looking to bring nature in and be part of the outdoors. Like other animals, we are impacted upon by the seasons. When we acknowledge our primal need to be one with the seasons, we are much more comfortable in our indoor environment.
2.  Put Summer in Storage:  Clear out anything that reminds you of summer. Put away beach towels, bathing suits, flip flops, shells, summer-themed placemats, lacy pillows or sheer curtains, summer-weight area rugs, cotton and silk sheets and anything else that is too light and summery to warm you up as the weather gets colder. 
3.  Layer on the Warmth:  Get out the flannel sheets, heavier blankets and a luxurious throw for the bed. In the living room, put throws on the sofa and change up the accent pillows from lighter summer-themed ones, to fall-inspired hues. Go for jewel tones. Anything that mimics the colors of fallen leaves will work beautifully. If possible, put up heavier drapes at the windows to visually and literally keep cold air out. Replace summery area rugs or cover bare floors with heavy, plush wool rugs. Your toes will thank you. 
4.  Make the Fireplace a Focal Point:  If you're lucky enough to have one, a fireplace can be the star of your fall/winter nest. Make it stand out by bringing the fireplace tools out of storage, rearrange the mantel to feature fall/winter themes (candles, gourds, jewel colored vases, etc.), and make sure there's a stack of firewood ready for use.
4.  Create Seasonal Vignettes:  Just because we want to keep the cold weather outside, doesn't mean we want to be cut off from nature. Put apples and pinecones in a bowl. Gather pumpkins, squash and other gourds from the farmers' market and display them like treasures. Take a hike, collecting interesting leaves, acorns, and rocks along the way, and bring them home to display. 
5.  Set a Seasonal Table:  The richness of fall and harvest time comes alive at the family table. Bring out placemats woven of natural fibers, such as rattan or water hyacinth. Rustic dishes, napkins, and  heavier trays and serving pieces complete the look. Put a bowl of pears, pomegranates and pinecones in the center of the table. Fall/winter decorating is all about warm, nubby and interesting textures. The table is the perfect place to bring those textures alive. 
The seasons of nature create an ebb and a flow that cycles with perfect balance. When we plug back into that flow and honor the seasons, we resonate and reconnect with life itself.  As cancer survivors, we should take every opportunity to nurture ourselves and return our body, soul and mind to balance. There is no better place to do that than in our own homes. Nesting and taking the time to seasonalize your home honors our place in the world. Let me know if you come up with ideas of your own to bring your nest in sync with the colder seasons.
Happy nesting,

Monday, December 9, 2013

Five Tips to Make Your Home Party Ready

True hospitality comes from the heart, and is not the product of ostentatious and expensive material surroundings. Eleanor Roosevelt
Opening your nest to friends and relatives during the holiday season should not be a stressful ordeal. You can make your home party ready and still have a great time by following my five tips:
1. Don't over clean your house: I used to spend hours cleaning before company came. Of course, 20 minutes after they arrived, the place was a happy mess. Focus on removing clutter, especially personal items such as mail and bills. If you must dust, dust only where it is obviously needed and leave the rest until the after party clean up. If you want to spend your cleaning time wisely, focus on the powder room.
2. Pull together friendly seating arrangements: Have you ever taken a seat in a room where all of the furniture is pushed up against the walls? Was it easy to have a conversation with someone sitting across from you? Of course not! Good furniture arrangement encourages socializing by bringing the seating together in conversation areas. Anchor the seating around an area rug to up the warmth and comfort. Make sure each chair has access to the coffee table or its own side table, so a guest can put down his or her drink. Small stools or ottomans can be moved easily into the conversation area, so everyone has a seat and a say in the discussion.
3. Seasonalize the nest: With the cold winter months upon us, there is no better feeling than the warmth and glow of a comfortable home. Gather your guests around the fireplace, which is ready with fireplace tools and ample firewood. Bring the outside in with bowls of pinecones and vases of holly branches. Drape throws on the sofa and chairs.
4.  Soften your lighting:  Dimmers are a low cost, easy way to bring drama and coziness to a space. Put all of your lights on dimmers and add candles for a little bit of romance. Everyone looks better in low light. Keep the candles scent free. Heavy perfumes irritate some people and interfere with the taste of food.
5. Make it festive: Ornaments aren't just for trees! Buy inexpensive bulb ornaments in colors that complement your color scheme and put them in bowls. Why should your living room be the only room in the house with a beautifully lit holiday tree? I have a small, artificial tree in the entry hall and one in the family room. As much as I love the large, real tree in our living room, those two small trees bring a festive holiday mood into all areas of the house. In addition to playing holiday music, run your favorite holiday movies on your TVs with the sound down. Everyone loves seeing these classic holiday films. 
Bonus tip: Once you've made your home party ready, sit back, relax and enjoy your loved ones. We have a lot to be grateful for and the love we share with our family and friends is at the top of the list. Happy Holidays! 

Happy nesting, 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Eco-Friendly Refresh Energy Boost Home Candle

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. James Keller
It was my pleasure to commemorate my friend Terri Wingham's birthday a couple of weeks ago by contributing to her Adventure of Hope. Imagine my surprise when she contacted me a few days later at my Facebook page to tell me I won the giveaway from CV Skinlabs and O&N Collective, Inc.

I won several items, but my favorite is the Refresh: Energy Boost Home Candle by Neom Organics. I have to tell you how much I love this candle.

A delicious, bracing fragrance hit me before I even opened the box. It's described as a "cheerful blend that enlivens the body and recharges the soul. The perfect morning energy boost or pre night out pick-me-up." And it really is! If you're feeling groggy, unfocused or just plain tired, this is the fragrance for you.

More exciting than the fragrance is how it's delivered. As I learn more and more about the chemicals we take in and the cancers they cause, I've been less willing to burn candles in my home. Plus, soot is a nasty problem. That's why I'm so excited to discover this candle. It's made using only vegetable wax and pure essential oils (rather than synthetic fragrances) so it burns without releasing harmful pollutants, toxins and soot.  
Plus, it works as a powerful holistic treatment as you breathe in the scented air. I'm burning it right now as I write this post and I'm inhaling deeper, enjoying the smell and feel of the air in my lungs. Anything that encourages me to stop and breathe is a very good thing.
I love the beneficial ingredients:
  • Paper and cotton wicks that are lead free
  • 100% all-natural vegetable wax only (NO paraffin wax - so no carcinogens and no black soot)
  • 100% pure essential oils (NO synthetic chemicals or fragrance)
  • Recyclable packaging - specially sourced, eco friendly
  • No "binding chemicals" that make the wax stick to the sides of the glass, so every last drop is used and there is no waste.
So, thank you Terri and O&N Collective, Inc., for the wonderful surprise of actually winning something (which never happens to me.) That it is safe, non-toxic, organic and natural makes it that much better. I'm a convert.
Have you been looking for safer, non-toxic alternatives to bring into your nest? This is one of my happy discoveries (another serendipity moment!) Try it yourself, or think of it if you need a great gift. I highly recommend it! I also recommend checking out Terri's Adventure of Hope. She's a woman on a mission lighting candles wherever she goes and I'm proud to support her and hope you will too.
(FTC Disclosure: I received this product for free. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment.)
Happy nesting,

Saturday, April 27, 2013

5 Tips for Creating Sacred Space

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again. Joseph Campbell
Our lives are so busy and noisy, that we often forget about the healing power of silence. When we're out in the world, it's not usually possible to control the noise level. At home, we can usually turn down the noise, but why not take it a step further and create a sacred space of peacefulness and healing?
After my surgery, I had lots of down time to sit and be and was often drawn to a certain chair in my living room. The chair was comfortable, the room quiet (no television) and the view from my window was lovely during those many spring weeks of disability. I returned to this chair again and again, to meditate, or just to rest.
Gradually, that space became sacred to me. I brought meaningful items into it by creating a makeshift altar. On a tray on the coffee table I gathered votive candles, pictures of my family, and two small Buddhas. A small carved elephant I found in an antique shop became very special to me. I was dealing with a lot during that time and meeting with an oncology therapist for support and guidance. One day she told me I had the emotional memory of an elephant - whatever I remembered, I felt again. That elephant became a symbol to me of how I processed my emotional pain.
You can get started creating a sacred space for yourself by following a few easy steps:
1.  Decide what "sacred" means to you. Do you need a space for yoga, meditation or spiritual connection? To me, sacred means uplifting, peaceful and spiritual. What does it mean to you?
2.  Dedicate a spot in your home that can become sacred. It doesn't have to be a whole room. It can be a corner of a room, the top of a dresser, or any other space you can find. My space is in the middle of my living room. When I am there, alone, it's sacred. When my family is in the space, it's just as sacred, but in a very different way.

3.  Create your own altar.  Find personal items which are meaningful to you. Next to my candles, pictures, Buddhas and elephant, I have a small piece of tile. I found it while taking a walk around my neighborhood and it is really beautiful. To me, it symbolized the importance of getting back out into the world and finding gifts of cancer in places I didn't expect to find them.

4.  Surround yourself with inspirational icons. Fill your space with meaningful quotes, spiritual symbols, calming music, plants, and any other items that uplift your spirit. Connecting with our spiritual selves opens up an amazing well to drink from when stresses come our way.

5.  Create a ritual. Once you've created your sacred space, how will you honor it? Will you use it to meditate for a few minutes every morning? Will you just sit, with your eyes closed, enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet? Your ritual can be simple or complicated but, whatever you elect to do, make it meaningful to you.

Take a few minutes to bring peacefulness and healing into your nest by creating sacred space. It's not hard to do and has immense rewards. If you already have a sacred space, I'd love to hear about it.  If I've inspired you to create one, I'd love to know how you made it meaningful to you. 
Happy nesting, 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What Makes A House a Home?

Yes, your home is your castle, but it is also your identity and your possibility to be open to others. David Soul

David Soul is the guy who played Hutch in the TV series "Starsky and Hutch" and sang the one-hit wonder "Don't Give Up on Us." But, the man has a point.

If we look at our homes as a canvas upon which to paint our personalities, it should be clear to anyone who visits who we are.

If you walked into the room on the left, what would it tell you about the inhabitants:

1.  They probably don't have children or animals, given the use of white upholstered furniture.
2.  They really hate clutter, to the point that they own nothing.

Now, look at the room on the right and tell me what you learn from it about the people who live there:

1.  She collects vintage pieces, such as the bull's eye mirror, Chinese urns, candlesticks and old books. If you ask, she'll tell you that many pieces were picked up at garage sales and flea markets.

2.  She loves decorative plates (especially vintage souvenir plates from across the US) and displays them proudly.

3.  The wooden box, used now for firewood but originally meant to hold Champagne, came out of her mother's garage. No one has any idea how it got there, but that's part of its charm.

4.  She likes warm colors, textured fabrics and intimate nooks for reading, hanging out and relaxing.

5. They have children, as you can tell from the handmade Valentine's hearts perched on the mantel.

6.  The pictures of her mother and her when she was a baby, and her husband with his mother as a toddler, are treasured family photos.

Remember, we only invite people into our home who we want to be there. That makes it sacred ground.

Take the time to look around and ask yourself what your home is revealing about you. Is your home telling the story you want to tell? Are you being open to others and truly celebrating you in your space?

If not, it's not a hard thing to do. Collect what you love and display it proudly. In the iconic words of designer William Morris, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." All you have to do is choose to live with what you believe to be beautiful. How you express that is entirely up to you.

Happy nesting,


123RF Stock Photos and Emmi Interiors, LLC

Monday, January 28, 2013

Five Decorator Tips to Bring Cheer & Healing into Your Nest

A house is much more than a mere shelter, it should lift us emotionally and spiritually." John Saladino

As a place to reconnect, re-energize and reflect, our homes support our healing from all of life's stresses and maladies. A house is truly a home when it lifts us up, especially when we are struggling. Here are five simple tips you can use right now to bring cheer and healing into your home:

1.  Let in the Light:   Natural light is a stimulant. In fact, the lack of natural light affects some people so much that they suffer from depression during the colder winter months. Look at your windows and ask yourself if they are letting in enough light. Are your drapes heavy and covering the window?  A decorator's trick is to move your curtain rod out beyond the frame of the window so the drape covers mostly wall and just the vertical edges of the window. This trick makes your window appear larger and you'll see a huge difference in the amount of window you've opened up. If you have a view which doesn't make you happy, put up sheers. They will let light in and soften the view.

2.  Wake up with Color:  Color is directly tied to mood. We all know that there are colors that engender happiness, such as yellow and red. No need, however, to paint the entire room bright yellow!  Use accessories to bring in pops of color. Scatter throw pillows, vases, flowers, throws and the like around the room. This trick brings in just the right amount of color and can be accomplished in an afternoon after a trip to the local home store.  And the best part? When you tire of a color, simply change it out. You can't do that with a paint can!

3.  Surround Yourself with Things You Love:  A long time ago, I went to a new client's house. Although the house was beautifully decorated, I noticed there wasn't one personal item to be seen except for a few family photos on one wall. It turned out that the house, formerly the neighborhood's show house, had been bought complete with all its furnishings. This created an interesting problem for my client, who was afraid to move a stick of furniture out of place.

As much as my client loved her new house, it wasn't yet a home because it didn't reflect the family who lived within its walls. Without personal items, such as books, souvenirs, family pictures, children's art - the list is limitless - the house had no soul and was still just a show house. Take the time to identify items you love, which speak to you of experiences, relationships or beauty, and display them proudly. If you love them, you will love seeing them in your home.

4.  Revel in Personal Collections:  An easy and cost-free decorator trick is to group collections. Often, clients tell me they don't collect anything. At the same time, I see interesting items scattered around the house which, when brought together, become a collection. Look around your house right now for multiples. Decorators say that three or more of anything is a collection. Don't be limited by labels. Items of the same shape or color can also form a collection. I bet you have an interesting collection right now, just waiting to be discovered and celebrated.

5.  Bring in Natural Accents:   There's something about flowers, pine cones, acorns, branches and leaves that bring life to the indoors. Using natural elements in the home creates a connection between the indoors and outdoors, which lifts our spirits.  Keep it simple and stay away from plastic, which is one of my decorating pet peeves. Whatever you can find in fake flowers will never approach the beauty of just a few cut branches from your backyard. A beautiful vase of real flowers is a focal point that helps rest your mind and calm you.

Wherever you are on your journey, you deserve every bit of support you can find. Our home environments are a huge part of that support system. Do what you can, even if it's just something small, to bring cheer to your home and it will reward you. It was an ancient Greek poet, Pindar, who said, "The best of healers is good cheer."  I'd love to know what little thing you did today to bring cheer and healing into your home.

Happy Nesting,


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