Monday Musings – last one of 2019.

It’s actually Tuesday but who cares. Grab some coffee – it’s a long post!!! I meant to do a blog post on our Christmas dinner but  shockingly was very busy. Finally got the Christmas cards out! Im very lucky to have a talented photographer close by, if you live in Fairfield County, I highly recommend Katie Kinsley Photography. 

I had originally planned on doing a Norman Rockwell-esque photo but got voted down sadly.


Got these gifts for clients ready and delivered at the very last minute. I wanted to find something local and I knew my friend Tammy makes delicious preserves on her Ward Family farm here in Wilton, so these ended up as HDS Design company gifts.

One of my very sweet clients ended up bringing me a gift – a beautiful glass Simon Pearce snowman ornament, I was so touched!

I hosted my 5th Christmas Coffee – a little get together with my girlfriends before Santa comes. It was a little hectic but nothing like guests coming over to get your house decorated and sorted out fast. I thought I had the best shoes but got outdone by a very fashionable friend of mine.


My oldest daughter Olivia is obsessed with tigers, cheetahs, wolves etc. I had bid on a tiger print on an online auction and couldnt get to Bridgeport where the auction house was to pick it up for weeks. Luckily the lady was very accommodating and allowed me to come in later. We surveyed the warehouse, talked business and family and she ended up telling me how she has 2 sons, one of whom has severe autism and will never function as an independent adult, her 55 year old husband was just diagnosed with IBM, a form of ALS, where your muscles atrophy, she struggled to understand why this was happening to her and what to do with her business and her life. I hugged her, that’s all I could do. There’s no upside to autism or ALS, it will never get better. So all I had was a hug. While I am not a religious person, I prayed in the car that my life wouldn’t change. Not to get too preachy here but how good we all have it…

I love how in the midst of this horrible personal tragedy, she had still decorated this vehicle outside her warehouse.

My daughters wanted to learn how to make Estonian potato salad and honestly, that was probably my favorite part of the holidays. Gary, my husband, always wonders which masochist dreamt up this crazy salad where all ingredients are chopped up into even small cubes. LOL. It has potato, boiled carrots, eggs, baloney, cucumbers, dill pickles and canned peas in a mayo-sour cream dressing. Some people add apples and/or onion.

We always celebrate on Christmas Eve and had some folks over who had no other plans. One of them dubbed our meal a Teutonic feast (Estonia was occupied by Germany a few times, so there’s some culinary overlap): pork roast with crackling, potatoes, sauerkraut, potato salad, blood sausages, headcheese etc.

Girls made placecards with little wishes written on the card for that individual. 🙂


Gary carved the pork with Sailor keeping a close watch on him.

It’s the last day of 2019, good bye and thank you! Thank you for my really amazing friends, the old and new, thank you for my clients that allow me to do what I love for living, my family and our puppy, thank you for the lessons learned and memories made in 2019. Happy New Year!

My Christmas Home Tour 2019!

Welcome! I finally got it properly photographed thanks to amazingly talented Katie Kinsley Photography!

I am slightly obsessed with Christmas and holiday decorating and like to change it up a little each year. This year my daughters wanted me to repeat the Candyland theme from a few years back. I was too tired to get the big lollipops I made out from the attic but we made do. Hope you like it!


Breakfast room table: instead of gingerbread houses we made candy trees and the placemats are from Pier 1 a few years ago.

Kitchen island – this is actually kind of funny. It was my birthday and my husband told me to go buy myself something nice while he made the cake for me with our daughters. So I went to a consignment store and found this Chef Santa on a broken bike, brought him home, fixed the bike and voila! The candy disks all over the kitchen is home made, my family was thrilled last August when I sat them down to paint them. Thrilled, I tell you. LOL.


I tend to get tired of the visual overload that the candyland theme is so I kept the rest of the house more muted. I love how this mantel came out, kind of Victorian.




There’s no TV here, this is our reading and now piano playing room. We had an upright in the basement until girls were playing better (and least well enough to come upstairs!) so we caved in and got a baby grand. We always get a real tree, I love the smell which sadly dissipates in few days and I definitely do not love putting the lights on and cleaning up the needles. What about you guys? Real or fake?

Both girls got a slimline tree in their room also.

Taking stock mid-Christmas and Q&A!

It’s been a minute! I swear to myself every year that I am going to get myself so well organized come Christmas that I am totally stress free, sipping tea under my tree and reading a book. And the fact that I haven’t been able to do that not even once feels like a failure. I had a few clients ask me to decorate their houses for Christmas and that turned into a lot more work than I anticipated plus actual design and staging work – I have been swamped!

We had some snow and that made the holiday decorations outside look extra magical.


I was happy with the way our planters turned out. It has a thick base layer of Noble fir, then some faux berries and red branches in the center. I also pinned lights in the center so it kind of glows from the center. I did this before Thanksgiving and while the kids protested, I think I might do that early next year too.

I am still not done inside but hopefully this weekend!

I’ve gotten couple of emails about holiday decor and I’ll share them here as some of you may be thinking about the same things.

Q: I don’t enjoy holiday decorating but my family wants me to it. What is the bare minimum I can do?

A: I was surprised how many people felt like that, I’ve been asked this several times this year. First, what do you not like? If its the time rush – then do it earlier. If its the cost: invest into a nice garland for your mantel, I like Frontgate and Balsam Hill. Its not cheap, I know, but it will last forever. If you just don’t enjoy anything about this, think where your decor can have maximum impact and decorate that area. Put a glass or silver bowl filled with ornaments on the table, light some candles, and buy some evergreens and put them into a ceramic vase. I love the smell and it will insantly feel like Christmas. It also helps to plan out what you are going to do in advance which leads me to my next q.

Q: Why do you do a theme each year? I just pull the bins out and put everything out and I am done.

A: I like decorating and doing something different each year but I do find it helpful to plan it out so that tthe decor looks cohesive. My house used to look like Christmas threw up there but I just didn’t love it, it felt cluttered and so busy, I couldnt wait to take it down. And you don’t need some massive theme, it gets expensive and is a lot of work. What I mean by a theme is think of what you like, what colors your like and what feeling you’d like to evoke. Do you like more natural looking Christmas? Then do pinecones, fresh greenery, warm white lights. Perhaps classic red and green is more you or all white? Having some kind of a plan definitely makes decorating easier. Not everything has to match, as a matter of fact I keep the fun tree in the kitchen but keep other rooms quiter.

Q: Is it tacky to use fake greenery? And are they bad for the environment?

A: I love fresh greens, the smell is heavenly but they dry out so fast inside and cleaning is a mess. It’s also really expensive. Fake works better and is definitely easier to decorate (hatte putting lights on real trees!). I mix fake and real, outside the real holds up really well and it looks great. Fake is not bad for the environment IF you buy a good one and use it for many many years. If you use all fake, I would definitely bring in some cyclamen or amaryllis or paperwhites that’s real.