Monday, March 28, 2011

It Certainly Wasn't New York...

Still jazzed up from going to the Flower Show last week, we decided to hit the Boston Gift Show this past weekend.  To quote the Queen, "We are not impressed." Actually I think the quote was "We are not amused".  Well, I was neither impressed nor amused.   They keep promising bigger and better - more vendors, new products...but all we get are the same type of products.  It doesn't even come close to New York's Gift Show.  My favorite vendors are long gone...where are my pillows?  My accessories??  My LEMON BARK???  I would sell a family member for lemon bark!!

There were a couple of bright spots - companies whose products and practices are worth noting.  Rightside Design's "I Sea Life" Collection had some adorable home accessories inspired by the sea.  They are extremely "green" in their packaging, inks and production and a part of their proceeds are donated to organizations that help marine mammals and sea life.  A worthy cause!

Rightside Design's Pillows (photography by R. Palazola)

Another company that caught my attention was Baskets of Cambodia.  According to their website, they are "building sustainable incomes for rural communities", paying above fair trade wages and offering healthcare to the people who make their beautiful products.   Their Tatami style handbags were sleek, elegant and extremely functional!  The bottoms lifted out and the bags rolled up like a tatami mat for packing and travel.  Beautiful colors, beautiful style!  Even the bamboo stands they sat on were handmade in Cambodia.  Another company demonstrating that businesses do not have to damage our environment or its people to make a profit!

Tatami Style handbags (Photography by R. Palazola)

The final business that caught my eye was Revy Fair Trade Products.  Revy's goal - "to empower the women of El Salvador so that they can break the cycle of poverty that has plagued their nation for centuries.  By offering a fair wage, they can keep their daughters in school where they can learn skills for a better life."  They are also a Green America Approved Business.  Their recycled rubber tire purses are fabulous!

Revy Recyled Tire Purse (photography by R. Palazola)

Even though the Boston Gift Show has moved away from items I can use in my design business, I will probably still keep going back hoping to find a few gems like the companies I mentioned above.  Reuse, recycle, repurpose.....helping the environment....helping women in impoverished countries....hopefully the wave of the future for business.

"Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does."  ~William James

Monday, March 21, 2011

From The Beautiful To The Bizarre...

It was 70 degrees out on Friday and I still have a ton of snow in my backyard!  Everything still looks dull, dead or dormant.

Melt, already!

Where is my garden??

What to do?  Head on down to the Boston Flower and Garden Show! The Massachusetts Horticultural Society presented five days of colorful displays, vignettes, mini gardens, floral arrangements and the latest in garden supplies.  The theme this year is "A Burst of Color: Celebrating the Container Garden".

The displays were magnificant!  Exotic newcomers, variations of the familiar, and tried and true favorites abound!

Nothing says "Spring" like tulips!  (Photography by R. Palazola)

A cottage in the forest...  (Photography by R. Palazola)

Then there are also displays that make you say "WTF"???  (In "designer speak" that can mean "What's the function?"  "Where's the fabric?"....or not....)

(Photography by R. Palazola)

I can understand the wood carved dead animal skeleton.  It is, after all, made of wood which is a garden material.

(Photography by R. Palazola)

But a lobster body arrangement with fluff inside???  WTF??? 

(Photography by R. Palazola)

Still shaking my head, we wandered over to the next display - beautiful stonework walls.  Got me wondering how they were going to take it apart when the show was over.  Can they salvage the stone?  Is it mortared in the way a wall would be in real life?  Did it come in semi constructed pieces that fit together?  Ok, too much thinking...move on!

One exhibit that offered a great surprise was from New England Reptile & Raptor Exhibits.  A beautiful forest with these very realistic stuffed, mechanical birds...the barn owl moved his head from side to side....the red-tailed hawk looked ahead with a steady life-like!  Then the hawk flapped its wings and tried to fly away!  Those birds were real!!  They also had a peregrine falcon, great horned owl, a barred owl and a turkey vulture!

Red tailed hawk - (Photography by R. Palazola)

The Great Horned Owl - Such a cutie! (Photography by R. Palazola)

The Barn Owl - Come on, he looks too perfect to be real!! (Photography by R. Palazola)

Moving along, we encountered pathways...

(Photography by R. Palazola)

A mini waterfall amongst the flora... (Photography by R. Palazola)

and streams...

(Photography by R. Palazola)

Pretty the pebble surface!

Citrus themed picnic!  (Photography by R. Palazola)

...award winning arrangements....

Leaves as sculpture

and garden hose as sculpture!

It was a wonderful day walking through magical gardens and blooming displays. I've taken away so many ideas for my garden.  Can't wait to start digging in the dirt....if I can find it under all the snow...!

"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life". - Carson  (Seen on a plaque at the Boston Flower and Garden Show)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Step By Step...

If all goes well, sometime in the middle of April I will be part of a new business opening up in Marblehead, MA!  Step By Step Carpet and Interiors!

You've heard the saying "everything happens for a reason..."  Last year when the design business was slow, I started looking for a part time job to tide me over until people were ready to spend money on their homes.  I interviewed for a bookkeeper's job at an oriental rug store, but the owner wanted me there five days a week, five hours a day.  Yes it was part time, but not part time enough.  Add on a 40 minute commute and this was becoming a full time job, without the full time pay!  Since no one else was banging down my door to hire me, I took the job.  

Kathy Sasso had been working there for the past 14 years selling wall to wall carpet and oriental rugs.  She also did a little interior design for her customers on the side but didn't have enough time to pursue it in depth.  She was turning away customers.  TURNING AWAY CUSTOMERS????  I was nauseous!!  Somehow we needed to join forces but given our work schedules it was going to be difficult. The "Powers That Be" heard us.   Lo and behold, the owner of the rug store decided to close down.  Kathy wasn't ready to give up her job and worked it out with the owner to take over the wall to wall rug department.  Wheels started turning... (it was a no-brainer!)   Kathy needed a bookkeeper and someone with design knowledge.  I needed design customers....perfect match!  Some pizza and a couple of glasses of wine later and we had the workings of a new business!   Now for a name..."Wining" Women Design??  Red Carpet Interiors? Hmm...needs to incorporate interior design and carpeting... Good interior design is a process.  It doesn't happen over night.  It can be overwhelming but we will get you there "step by step".  Ta Da!!

Here is a sneak preview of things to come!

Carpet - old school....

Today's Carpet - great pattern and color on a flat weave
This isn't your grandmother's carpet!!

Texture in a solid color
Showroom - before....

We have a few more hurdles to jump, a showroom to set up, and lots of planning to do.  But we'll get there....step by step!  Stay tuned!

Portal to our new world!
"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live." - Flora Whittemore

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stylish Blogger Awards

I must say, these dull, dreary days of winter are stifling my creative thoughts.  Nothing outside my window except lots of gray melting mush.  Kind of how my brain feels right about now... 

Even the squirrels are miserable...
Not very inspiring...
 My mind was blank this week.  No blog topics...that's a dilemma.....  When I opened my friend Yvonne Blacker's blog "Design Vignettes", she had just been picked as a Top 10 Stylish Blogger, and the idea was to "pay it forward" and name your own Top 10 Stylish Bloggers.  Low and behold, I made Yvonne's list!  Design Vignettes was the first design blog I had ever read (almost the first BLOG I had ever read, if you don't count my son's journal about his escapades in Greece...but we won't go hair is grey enough already...).  Yvonne had urged me to write my own blog.  I was totally clueless.  The Boston Design Center came to the rescue with a 3 part seminar on Social Media and Blogging, given by Linda Merrill, another excellent design blogger.  Linda gave us the why's and how-to's to get started and nine months into it, I'm still writing!

So, ladies and gentlemen...the envelope please!!!  (Sorry, still in Oscar mode...)  Here are the picks for my Top 10 Stylish Bloggers.

Yvonne Blacker's blog and my blogging inspiration!

Jen Of All Trades always has great pictures and speaks to her audience like she is talking to you over a cup of coffee.

Katherine Hawkins has a wonderful way with words!  I wish I could write with her style and flair!

New England Home Magazine's blog.  Always filled with great design from the New England area.

Linda Smith's take on design, style, entertaining and how-to's.  If you want to decorate for a fabulous party, this is the blog you want to read!

Great tips on real estate staging.

Tina McManus always has the latest real estate trends and great places to visit on the northshore of Boston.

Linda Merrill - thank you for your seminar that kicked off my blogging!  Linda and cohorts always have great podcasts voicing their opinions on a variety of design issues.

Julieann Covino, another Boston area blogger with great design tips and pictures.

If you love French country, cottage shabby or vintage design, Amy's blog will take you there.

These are just a sample of the ones I read and I never get to all their posts, but check in periodically to see what they are writing about.  If I had my way, I would be reading all day.  But if I didn't go to work, I'd never have anything to write about....its a catch-22...

According to the rules of the award, you are also supposed to list 7 things about yourself....hmmm... Not sure if its supposed to be about things I like, things about my personality, or things you may not know about me.   Here is a little of each...

1.  I LOVE shoes and pocketbooks!
2.  I mostly feel like a dinosaur in this ever changing world of technology.
3.  I love good food
4.  I'm very intolerant of stupidity.
5.  No one makes me laugh like my brother and husband
6.  Some days I wish I could turn back the clock, and other days I am proud of my age and experience.
7.  Everyday I feel blessed for the life I have and the people that are in it.

Yvonne, thank you for putting me on your list and for giving me a topic for this week!  My mushy brain is forever in your debt!

"Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can." ~Danny Kaye