Friday, November 26, 2010

The Skirted Roundtable on Digital Shelter Magazines PLUS a One King's Lane Shopping Spree Giveaway!!

This week at The Skirted Roundtable, Joni, Megan and I chatted about the new media of digital magazines. Every month, more and more self-published magazines are sprouting up and they are all wonderful in their own unique ways.

Without the financial burden of print costs, anyone with a smattering of graphic design skills can cobble together a decent publication and attract some readers. But, will digital magazines overtake traditional print publications? Will you miss holding the book in your hands? What about reading a magazine on the beach or in the tub? A little hard (not to mention dangerous) with a laptop or iPad. Most of the traditional magazines also have digital versions available already - have they paved the way for their digital-only competitors? Seems to me they have. The folks at Lonny publish a professional digital only magazine that with time and maturity, could easily be a legitimate competitor to Elle Decor - but without the burdens of traditional printing and distribution. On the other hand, rarely do we have time to read an entire magazine in one sitting.  We pick up and put down a magazine when we have time and we're traditionally reminded that the magazine is still unfinished because it's sitting on our coffee or bedside tables. How are we to be reminded about an unfinished digital publication? (Btw - we indentified this as a potential business opportunity for some enterprising, tech savvy, person out there).

So, have a little to our chat and let us know your thoughts.

And if that's not enough, we're hosting a fabulous $200 Shopping Spree giveaway to One King's Lane! Today is Black Friday and the official kick off to the holiday shopping season - so this could be your opportunity to get that perfect gift for a friend, or yourself! All you have to do is visit OKL (sign up if you need to, it's free and easy) and let us know in the comments on our Skirted Roundtable post here what items you love. One lucky person will be drawn at random.

I hope you had an excellent holiday!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Setting the Thanksgiving Table...naturally

I wrote the following article on assignment for and thought I'd share these great holiday centerpieces inspired by nature with you as well!

It's Thanksgiving again and unlike many other holidays that involve religion or patriotism, Thanksgiving in America is simply about gathering around the table with family and friends. From the start, this meal has been about giving thanks for our blessings or at least, as with the Pilgrims, giving thanks for making it through another year. Whether it's humble or sumptuous, the Thanksgiving table brings to mind the harvest, work done with the hands and the bounty of the season. So it's no surprise that the centerpiece --a big focal point of the Thanksgiving table -- is so often created from natural materials. To get you started on your Thanksgiving table, here are some great centerpiece ideas that are inspired by the bounty of the season.

Recently featured in Woman's Day Magazine, Eddie Ross created a blinged-out candelabra made from three matched birch logs, sprayed gold and glued together. Carve holes for the candles along the top log and you have a truly one-of-a-kind candelabra that will fit your table perfectly. Looking for something a little more rustic? Simply skip the gold paint and the natural logs will be perfect.

If pumpkin orange isn't your favorite color and you're looking for something a little more sparkly and upscale, how about spray-painting mini-pumpkins silver and pairing with mercury glass candle sticks. These mini-sparklers are reminiscent of Cinderella's carriage going from ordinary pumpkin to something fit for a princess.

Unmatched candlesticks are not a problem when they are unified by these sweet fresh flower and berry embellishments. Group three or more candlesticks of differing heights together for a sweet centerpiece.

This mirrored tray centerpiece spotted on Martha Stewart couldn't be any easier. Simply throw a few mums into small vintage vases and add some votive candles. The combination of the mirrored tray, glowing candles and deep orange mums will create a centerpiece that has the warmth and flicker of a tiny fireplace.

Flowers are always classic centerpieces. With all centerpieces, it's import to pay attention to the height of the flowers. No one likes to have to peak around the carnations to have a conversation across the table. Keep the flowers low, as seen on Martha Stewart here, and relatively unscented so as not to interfere with food or conversation flow.

Celebrating the bounty of the harvest is made super easy with this simple pile of mini-pumpkins in a classic pedestal bowl, as seen on AOL's DIY Life, with a few berried branches for texture. A trip to the grocery store and the backyard will likely yield the makings of this simple centerpiece.

Clear glass vases of any shape or size can be filled with plump white candles and acorns or walnuts for a beautiful, textural centerpiece that offers both light and that sense of bounty and harvest. Mixing up the styles of the vases makes for a very interesting centerpiece, or use three or more of the same vase and place down the length of the table for a beautiful display.

Of course, kids decorations are always a hit on Thanksgiving. And if you have a big family feast that includes the "kid's table", then this Paper Plate Cornucopia centerpiece will both entertain and enchant the kids throughout the day.

Reprinted with permission from


 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Transitions

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pier 1 Imports. All opinions are 100% mine.

When Pier 1 asked me to come up with some great holiday entertaining ideas, I thought it would be a fun way to usher in the season. One thing I love is a holiday table and while I'd love to have a separate set of dishes for each season or holiday, I simply don't have room for it. And it's not that necessary anyway. The same set of dishes can go from Thanksgiving to Christmas with just a swapping out of a few small pieces and accessories. So, I challenged myself to do that with items from Pier 1.

I started with some new dishes for the basis of my Thanksgiving to Christmas table:

I love green and I love a bead detail, so the Spice Route dishes in Clove Green are right up my alley. I also felt these would pair nicely with my cream Wedgwood dinner plates that also have a bead detail.

For my Thanksgiving table, I paired the green dishes with a pretty bird on a branch dish I found at Pier 1:



I topped the dishes with these cute little leaf bowls, which I imagine could be used for a soup or other side dish.


I used my existing linens (yes, green again - have I mentioned how much I love green!) and found these great feather napkin rings, which reminded me of turkey feathers:



And so, we have a festive and colorful Thanksgiving meal:



Okay, so fast forward 30 days and it's time to set the Christmas table. 


I thought that the bird dishes have a certain "Partridge in a pear tree"  look about them and decided that they would work for Christmas as well.   I swapped out the leaf bowl for a clear  glass mini-compote.  I added these  ruffled red napkins and glittering  glass bead bird napkin rings.






And here we have the final Christmas table:

As you can see, it only takes a few well-chosen accessories to move from holiday to holiday. I hope you  enjoy yours! And, while we're enjoying ourselves let's not forget those less fortunate.  Pier 1 is accepting unwrapped  toys or cash donations  for Toys for Tots, or if you "like" Pier 1 on Facebook during the month of November, they will donate $1 to Toys for Tots.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It takes a village - to fill two pages

Well, as I posted on Friday (and you'll see on my sidebar) I published my third issue of Surroundings Magazine - The Holiday Style Guide. It's a lot of fun for me to put this together, but it's a lot of work to do only twelve pages. Seriously - I have new found respect for the Rue Girls (their 2nd issue is due literally any moment now) and the folks at Lonny, both of whom put out 200-300 page publications. Of course, they have staff people, but likely not legions of staff, just a few really talented people. I, on the other hand, have just me and I'm pretty cantankerous and am known to whine about holiday bonuses, especially at 3 A.M. Management doesn't find that behavior very productive, but is not yet ready for staff changes. Staff thinks Management should provide a better work environment and stop the late night hours. Picket lines are forming on both sides.

Anyway, last weekend (7 whole days ago) I wrote to several of my favorite blog and design friends and asked them to provide me with their best tip for holiday entertaining, or ideas for hostess gifts. Basically, just some little nugget - because this is certainly a group that has lots of nuggets of goodness in their design holsters. Mixed metaphor's aside, they are THE BEST. Within 4 days, I'd received eleven fantastic responses, complete with photos (in some cases staged for this purpose) and great ideas.

So,I wanted to take a moment to thank my very generous friends for their excellent ideas and participation. I know how busy you all are and I appreciate your support!

Eddie Ross -
Greet LeFevre - Belgian Pearls
Stacy Kunstel - StacyStyle
Grant K. Gibson - GrantKGibson, The Blog
Megan Arquette - Beach Bungalow 8
Vicki Archer - French Essence
Monika Claassen - Splendid Willow
Gina Milne - Willow Decor
Trish Allen - Trouvais
Joni Webb - Cote de Texas
Scot Meacham Wood - Tartan Scot

Speaking of digital magazines, Megan, Joni and I chatted about the new field of digital magazines, including Rue and Lonny, and many others. We're also hosting a give-a-way - a $200 shopping spree courtesy of One King's Lane!!  So, stay tuned for that post up on Monday!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Surroundings mag::E::zine Holiday Style Issue is here!

I am thrilled to FINALLY release my Holiday Style Issue of Surroundings mag::E::zine. [Note to self: DO NOT start working on a November/December issue in November...just sayin'].

I sent out a call to several of the most popular designers and bloggers out there and am so touched that they were willing to offer their favorite tips for entertaining, gift-giving and holiday traditions. I also include a roundup of 15 great gift ideas from $5 to $500. A little something pretty at all price points. I included my favorite cookie recipe (courtesy of Martha) and a guide for decorating for Bachelors - no more milk crates and leather sofas. So, click the link and read away. I'd love to know your thoughts!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

An Outdoor Kitchen Goes Environmental and Edible!

Contributed by Lori Dolnick

What happens when 28 talented and creative high-end designers come together? A masterpiece is created. Plain and simple.

The Pasadena Showcase House, a non-profit organization based in California chooses a home for an indoor, and outdoor makeover every year and the results are well, pretty amazing. The transformation process from basic and plain interiors to an incredible & stylish home complete with a stunning outdoor garden area, takes about 8 months to plan and finish.  The process not only involves time, hard work and passion but also the creative talents of these selected designers who have a special insight into what will “click” with the kind of space and materials they have to work with.

This year the team turned a private home owned by the American Red Cross into a dream house capturing the attention of almost 40 thousand visitors who helped raised money through the entrance fee for The American Red Cross.

The brains behind the outdoor kitchen design is Jan Ledgard, certified kitchen designer, owner and designer of Yorkshire Kitchens, Inc.  who conceptualized and designed the entire outdoor kitchen space for The Pasadena Showcase Home.

LD: How did you get involved in the Showcase House this year?

JL: Well, I just happened to tag along with a couple of other designers this year for the Designers’ Peek Day and just casually mentioned to someone that I did outdoor kitchens and well, the rest I guess is history!! LOL!

What I really wanted to do was to create an area that could be used for weddings, parties, etc but at the same time create a space that virtually anyone could look at no matter what their budget or space is and say “I could do this in my yard!”
LD: Where did the inspiration for the design come from?

JL: The idea for the space was that it would be a complete outdoor kitchen and kitchen garden. Everything planted was either edible or medicinal with a just a few exceptions. All the products we used were either recycled or recyclable or at least environmentally friendly. Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens supplied the cabinetry and appliances and I used as many local products and suppliers as possible including local lumber yard, local garden nurseries, etc.

LD: What was the most challenging in terms of trying to create a fun but useful place?

JL: I wanted to create something that was fun and exciting, yet functional. Keeping in mind ways for families and friends to entertain and at the same time being able to enjoy some private time - which is why I added the Martini sink so you can just relax in your own yard sipping away on a Martini.

We build a deck for ultimate family dinners and a bar for those special social nights with friends or neighbors. It’s very cool because the deck is built over the roots of a Liquid Amber tree that adds a natural shade canopy. I also designed the retractable awning - each panel pulls on and off separately using a very low energy “pole” so you just hook the pole in a ring and pull!

I also finished off the space bringing all the elements of the wood and glass together using recycled glass as accents in all the candle holders, teak on the hand rail, natural stones and crystals (a passion of mine) were dotted around the entire space and a couple of whimsical elements, like the “moon gazing hares,” were also added.

LD: Sounds like you had the “Go Green” effect in mind when planning the space.

JL: I did actually. The planters are all edible, herbal or medicinal including tomatoes, grape vines, etc. We added small planters around the space to show people how they could have an herb garden in a small space – and it is visually appealing as well.

LD:  Well, you did an amazing job this year. Any idea of what visitors can expect next year?

JD: Not sure yet. We’re still trying to rest up from the last one!!

Photos courtesy Pasadena Showcase House 2010.

See all Lori's posts here.

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Monday, November 15, 2010

Auction to help *Visual*Vamp*: SOLD

As you may have heard, Valorie Hart, of *Visual*Vamp* fame has been in need of help and Laura Ingalls Gunn of the blog Decor to Adore came up with the idea of creating an auction where bloggers will auction off items of their choice and ship it to the highest bidder.You can read more here.

Thank you to all those who bid on my item of a mini-Champagne bucket. The high bidder was Tolly Lewin at $40. Tolly, please email me with your address and the confirmation that you have sent your $40 via PayPal to:

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New England Design Hall of Fame - A gala evening for all!

The 4th Annual New England Design Hall of Fame Awards dinner was held this week at the State Room, overlooking Boston. In four short years, it has undoubtedly become the biggest night for the New England design industry. New England Home magazine founder Dan Kaplan created the Hall of Fame Awards and had the foresight to start big and stay that way. The event formula is basically the same every year - a crowded cocktail party, a sit down dinner (which is always delicious), flowers by the venerable Winston Flowers (see above) and presentation of the awards.

New England Home magazine Publisher Betsy Abeles Kravitz offers opening remarks. (forgive the image, it's a photo of the large screen which was easier for me to shoot than the speaker herself, same with Stacey below).

Stacey Kunstel (über stylist, writer and blogger) makes the presentations each year.

An iPhone shot of my dessert. Yum!

Some of the lovely ladies I sat with - fellow members of my IFDA board.

And the honorees of the evening:


Thomas P. Catalano, AIA, Catalano Architects, Inc.

(Eric Roth Photography)

David J. Hacin, FAIA, Hacin + Associates, Inc.

Manuel de Santaren, Manuel de Santaren, Inc.

(Michael J. Lee Photography)

Landscape Architecture

Katherine Alexander Field, Katherine Field and Associates

Specialty Design Award

Roger Lussier, Roger E. Lussier, Inc. Specialty Framer

(Mr. Lussier's own home, images courtesy of Mrs. Blandings)

Congratulations to all the honorees.  You are an inspiration to those of us who follow in your footsteps. On a personal note, Mr. Lussier's own home shown above and at the dinner are my personal favorites and it was very touching that last year's honoree Gary McBournie stood in for the elderly Mr. Lussier offering his thank you speech. On another personal note, and not to disparage the fine work of all the gentleman honored this year, it's a shame more women were not honored. Something which didn't go unnoticed, or unmentioned, that evening. However, there's always next year.

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::