Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Reflections

I love the reflection of candles in a room at night. With all of the beautiful white lights and candles lit , New Year's Eve is a time to reflect on the past year and a time to look forward to the New Year. 2009 was a tough economic year, especially for small retailers. However, with survival at stake, we just had to get better, get tougher, and get more excited about life. And a great year's memories were made -highlights included helping Mariterese with Alligator Point, her son's wedding at the Bee Hive, our trip to the Wine country with my sister and brother-in-law, my anniversary trip to Quebec City and our great trip to Kansas City. In February our twin grandsons were born and two weeks before Christmas our first grand daughter was born! And Romancing the Home survived another year with a great Holiday Season. So next Tuesday, I leave for Atlanta to buy 2010 Spring and Christmas for the store. But how do I know what's going to happen in 2010? I don't - but I do know we will survive and continue to offer the customers, the most exciting merchandise that we can find. I am grateful for my wonderful staff, Laurell, Candy, Amy, Penney, Julie, and Katha, who support the store in unspoken ways. My friend Lynda, flies up on moment's notice to help me with store events. And of course there is the constant input from my wonderful customers and close friends, Jill and Marlene. And when I need a high light bulb changed, my husband continues to be the best maintenance man . How lucky can a girl be? Thank you from the bottom of my heart- my family, my friends, and my wonderful loyal customers.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Natural Christmas

These pictures are from one of the homes that Candy, our Romancing the Home stylist, decorates every year for the Holidays. This year, the client wanted a very natural and organic Christmas decor. Candy performed her magic, using feathers, greens, birds and twigs to create a beautiful home. Next year for the store, we see this as a major trend and will be looking for very natural looking artificial greenery for the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Magic of Santa

Santa has come and gone for this year, but as I pack up my Santa collection I smile. I remember when I was a little girl on Christmas Eve, my sisters and I would get up at 2 am to see what Santa had brought us. My most memorable gift from Santa was a Madam
Alexandra doll with beautiful clothes that my mom had sewn during the year when I was asleep. And in the very tip of my stocking was my very first ring - my birthstone. We never questioned how Santa was able to get to so many homes in one night. That was the Christmas magic.
So this year when my almost 3 year old grandson was ready for bed on Christmas Eve, I took him out to the porch and pointed up to the night lights to show him where Santa was coming from tonight. He immediately flew up the stairs and was asleep in 5 minutes. And the next morning, he awoke everyone in the house and came down the stairs to find his adult magical memory- Santa had bought him a large fire truck! I don't know how Santa got so lucky and knew what Logan had wanted - Santa had found it at Costco several weeks before. Logan had only told us the night before what he wanted from Santa- a large firetruck with a big ladder. See - there is magic!

Collecting beautiful Santa's has been a passion of mine for many years. But this year, I met a new artist that created life size Santa's for Romancing the Home. We sold six of them this year to create a little magic for the customers that purchased them. Next year, we will have them again and customers can customize them to fit their home's decor. All of the Santa's I have in my collection have been made by artists that I have found during the past 30 years. Many of them have been customized with vintage fabrics and trims that I have collected over the years. Every year I cherish getting them out and placing them in a special spot for the holiday season.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Last Sunday of 2009

I love Sunday mornings- just time to putz around the house and contemplate upcoming projects.

This morning my son Todd and I are getting ready for an informal open house this afternoon, so there's a pork shoulder in the oven smelling good. My daughter in law Deena is making flatbread for the pulled pork sandwiches and the grandbabies are watching cartoons. My husband is playing with our new coffee maker and getting ready for his favorite show- Sunday Morning.

I am going around freshening up Christmas displays. Our foyer this year is decorated with natural hedge apples, frosty ferns, and white paperwhites . The crusty old cherub relic is a favortive new find this season. A collection of old silver, an antique Visitors log, and a wonderful old clock make an interesting collage for the holidays. Maybe for tonight I should burn our new Godiva Candle - Peppermint Bark. And maybe freshen up the flowers a little--- otherwise, I think we are ready for a party!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Two days before Christmas , we got a beautiful snow. Early in the morning, before tire wheels and boots marked up the landscape, I was able to get some wintery pictures. I love the way the snow falls on the garden statues shoulders - so sweet and lovely to see . Snow makes it really feel like Christmas is here!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kansas City isn't just for Ribs!

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriends, Jill, Marlene, Lynda and I took a road trip from Chicago to Kansas City. We have been close friends for over 25 years and have all had professional lives in Department Stores ( Marshall Fields, Robinson's, Famous Barr). So we are all pretty judgemental and very opinionated about retail in general. To make things even more interesting, while Jill and Lynda have retired, crazy Marlene and I now own our own retail venues. So we are constantly looking for other retail stores that inspire us and have found few in the past few years. But what a different story in Kansas City! We were all blown away- in this mid sized , mid west (of all places) city, retail was inspiring!. Nell Hill's new store was sensational - 2 floors filled to the brim with tasty merchandise. We all bought stuff and almost filled my large SUV in that first stop! Next, the Curious Sofa - one of the most beautiful stores that we have ever seen. A vintage tile ceiling, Italian plastered walls, and awesome antique doors greeted you in this strip center location! Lot's of glittered holiday decor, candles, vintage accessories inspired us. And then after an amazing lunch at a little French Cafe across the street(my girlfriends are still trying to figure out how they prepared this amazing tomato salad), off to Miss Frenchies we went! I had been reading about this event for over a year on the Curious Sofas blog. We were not disappointed - it was a blast. A group of artists, antique dealers and store keepers all came together in this magical barn and created a holiday extravaganza. Now our car really was full! But Saturday morning, before we headed back to Chicago, we made a little stop at a local department store - Hall's. When we walked in and saw the Christmas Shop, I began to hyperventilate - we had never seen such a beautiful assortment of holiday decor, since the grand old days of Marshall Fields in the 80's. Gorgeous hand blown ornaments, incredible elves and Santa's, silver, unbelievable tables capes - it was like Christmas heaven. Ten shopping bags later, we had to re-pack the car. Who was going to be tied on top to get home - certainly not my new ornaments! This was an awesome trip, 3 great antique malls too! And by the way, the ribs that we had at Jack Stacks in Kansas City, they were the best that I have ever tasted in my life - I had them overnight-ed for my family to celebrate Christmas Eve tonight!
Picture 1 - Elf from Hall's
Picture 2- candle stick from Nell Hill's
Pictures3-5 ornaments from Hall's

After Note - I never write this much in my blog - but I was totally blown away by Kansas City. The homes, the people we talked to, and the general rolling beauty of the city - all left me with lasting memories of one of the most wonderful road trips in my life. Kansas City, we'll see you again next Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Royal Dining in an Historical Home

Of all the opportunities to decorate for the holidays, my absolute favorite is to set the holiday table. This year we were having a large dinner party for the Lake Bluff Historical Society, Christmas Dinner in an Historical Home. Earlier this year, I had been lucky to find a set of vintage hotel china from the Helmsley Hotel in New York. They are white with a gold rim and a simple crown embellishment. Using the crown as my focus, we put together the table with more gold, crystal, and threw in a touch of the royal color purple. Fresh white roses and hydrangeas filled antique water goblets.

The old french bistro mirror shines behind a wonderful old silver dome . Mercury glass ornaments hang from a platinum garland and add sparkle to the dining room.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Powder Room in Holiday Dress

Scented candles, beautiful hand towels, and luscious soaps are obvious necessities for the powder room. But at Romancing the Home we love to "dress" the sconces in beautiful ribbons and garlands. A hand made doll from Venice graces the table in the powder room. Petite angels with velvet sachets sit in the soap dish above the sink. Soft lights create a romantic ambiance for the holiday season.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gift Wrap Inspirations

The art and joy of wrapping a gift is a gift itself. I am constantly collecting beautiful papers, but this past year I found one that has become my all time favorite. I bought the store out! It is an embossed gold or silver croco print and looks great with my chocolate ribbons. Making fun labels on your computer, edging them with decorative edge scissors, and dipping them in glitter is a fun project. Old silver pieces can be found at flea markets for less money than a store made bow! Throughout the year I collect little trinkets to tie on the outside of my gifts. Old brooches are one of the favorite things to add to the outside of a package because they add a magical sparkle.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Special Cover-ups!

Last minute wrapping of gifts is sometimes an unwanted task. So I have created several pre-wrapped boxes, that you can simply add tissue inside and just drop in your gift! They add instant Christmas decor just simply sitting under the tree, on an ottoman, or on a table scape. I just save them from year to year, and am constantly adding new ones because I enjoy making them. Either cover a sturdy box with a beautiful fabric using a spray adhesive, or simply buy decorative box from a store. Then the fun begins! All throughout the year, gather small vintage treasures, scraps of lace, old buckles, silk flowers, and whatever else catches your fancy. Then assemble a collage together and hot glue it to the box top. I love making and presenting gifts in these magical boxes. Sometimes, you can judge a gift by it's cover!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Wines

My husband purchased wine from his favorite winery for his staff. Rather than giving them in the traditional wine bag, I decided to wrap them in a winter blanket! Using a men's tartan scarf and raffia and boxwood, I tied the cut pieces of tartan around the bottles. Then using my Christmas stamps and plaid papers, I created the special tag for his gifts. They look festive and ready for the holidays.