May 8, 2014

I took some time the other day to seek a little inspiration and lick my creative ego wounds.  Nothing like walking through the magnificent Boston Museum of Fine Art.




..until it just happens.  The blogging and social media world is full of the humble brag, and I am just as guilty as the next person.  Look at the gorgeous vacation I am on.  Look at my fabulous photo shoot and all the amazing people with whom I am working.  Look at all my accomplishments.  As a small business owner and entrepreneur, social media is an invaluable and important tool in staying connected, networking and gaining clients, but rarely do we hear about the failures.  The bid you lost out on, the unhappy client, the failures.  What business owner in their right mind would talk about their failures?!?!  We share so much on social media, but rarely do we share this.  Well I am here to share a failure, a time when I was unable to make a client happy.  Through whatever fault, my work, their opinion, their expectations, my not meeting them, whatever, end of the day they were not happy.  And despite trying to make them happy through all resources I had at my disposal, I couldn’t.

Being the teacher’s pet, A+ student and people pleaser that I am, this was a particularly hard pill to swallow (I am a total Libra). I know I should embrace this as a learning experience. Perhaps challenge myself, hone my craft more and evaluate how I understand my clients’ expectations in order to better achieve them…or realize I am not the right person for the job. The world of Silicon Valley and start-ups seem to wear failure with a badge of honor. In fact 75% of startups fail, but their founders seem to pick-themselves up and move onto the next venture. (It certainly helps they have the backing of millions of dollars and VC firms, but I digress.) I don’t want to fear failure, but it still isn’t fun. So I am owning it, learning from it and moving on. Hoping it will make me better. Heck, I had to have tons of crushes, bad dates and boyfriend failures before I found and realized my husband was the one, so moving onward.  Do you all have any failures that have made you better? Professionally? Personally?


May 5, 2014

In the next week we will be transitioning our 2 year old to her “big girl” room to make way for the nursery to become the baby’s room.  Even though we have lived in the house for 8 months now I hadn’t found the time or inspiration to get anything up on the walls of either room.  That said, I of course have a vision: a safari theme for the nursery and a black and white equestrian theme for my toddler’s room.

This is the “nursery.”  Dark gray walls (BM Marina Gray), white crib, black and cherry, Hitchcock, dresser (like this) from my childhood bedroom, and a moroccan berber rug I got on one of Rugs USA’s 65% off sales.  9 x 12 rugs aren’t cheep but on sale the Rugs USA one is a steal and super soft.  It just takes about a month or two of vacuuming to reduce the shed.  (Or rolling around on it with your toddler in Lululemon pants.  Those things are like a lint magnet.)  Please excuse the grainy Instagram photo.


There is a huge empty wall adjacent to the crib I want to fill with Audubon like safari prints.  Something a bit more sophisticated than your run of the mill nursery animals.  I found these prints on Etsy, a shop called Swanborough Prints and fell in love.  A couple in England make these water colors and digitally clean and enhance the illustrations.  I love that they are hand made.

Here are some prints I have flagged.

il_570xN.508278363_kasd il_570xN.509702852_itum il_570xN.509705828_n4md il_570xN.509710124_fwv9 il_570xN.509764505_lgf1 il_570xN.509768915_3ynw il_570xN.509770101_px4w il_570xN.510627897_qonk il_570xN.516410030_c7e4

I’d love to frame them in a black bamboo.  I found this website to order frames, but it it still pretty pricey.  I may wait to see how the prints come in and see if I can use a standard 8×10 mat and frame them from that.

Giraffe print framedFor my little girl’s “big girl” room. I went with Benjamin Moore, Blanched Coral and a black and white theme.  I think I am going to incorporate an equestrian theme.  I have a photo shoot with some horses this week and am hoping to get a shot of my own to blow up in her room.  I of course and totally appropriating my love of animals and horses into my children’s room, but I figure it is better than “Princess” crap, right?

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I took this shot about a year ago, and love it, but cannot for the life of me find the high res or raw version.  Damn you bad work flow…lesson learned.


I am also mounting some shallow shelves up the whole wall to act as a library.  Children’s books are so beautiful and colorful, why not incorporate them into the decor.  Plus, little ones love that cover visual to help them pick out a book.  Those little spines get lost in a sea of books so easily when stacked in a traditional bookshelf.


Garden Inspiration

April 30, 2014

It is a chilly rainy day here in Boston, but here are some images to keep me inspired for some May planting and landscaping.

Simple and lovely.


Photo from Style Me Pretty

Planters on a fence.  What a great idea to cover up some old privacy fences we have.




Garden markers out of corks!  Love.  And will be happy to help supply some materials once the baby comes.




Photo from The Savvy Hen

Perfectly imperfect.


Perfectly perfect.

Pennsylvania-designrulz-5Photo from

Rural-Renewal-designrulz-1Photo from


Photos of gardens I have taken over the years. ©Sarah Winchester Studios

4-81 5-13 6 9 11 18 img_0630 thesavvyhen_july2013-79-of-165 thesavvyhen_july2013-92-of-165 WalkerCunningham-Dora shoot(lowres) (54 of 86) WalkerCunningham-Dora shoot(lowres) (84 of 86)

Garden planning

April 29, 2014

I am in full blown nesting mode which includes getting our yard spruced up for summer.  Even though we have owned our new home for just over a year now, we have not spent a spring or summer living there yet, so my landscaping plans include mostly cleaning things up and finishing fencing in the back yard.  Most importantly I want a small vegetable garden for our toddler to help grow and pick.  I think it is so important for little ones to know where and how their food come to them and a backyard garden is the perfect place to start.  I am collaborating with my sister-in-law, urban gardener extraordinaire and owner of The Savvy Hen, Melissa Winchester.  I sent her some photos of my back yard in full sunlight and what veggies and fruits we like, with that and our garden zone according to zip code, she is compiling some suggestions for plants and dos and don’t of creating a garden.  More on that in a full blog post, but for now I have some raised, cedar, garden beds from One Kings Lane to put together and some yard clean up to do.

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Here are the One Kings Lane cedar beds I got.  Since I am on a time crunch I figured these would be much easier to put together than making my own, and at $65 each a great deal.  I would spend that in supplies, gas and time trying to make my own.  Perfect for this novice.  I’ll report back with a full post as we put them together and plant them.


Spring Break

April 28, 2014

Now that our daughter is on a school schedule we get to/need to indulge in the school holidays.  I tried to stay home and work through her winter break and the poor thing was bored to tears, so for spring break we packed up and headied down south to see my family.  At less than 6 weeks until my due date with baby #2 I am border line for travel, but I was determined to get in some beach time.  It was a long winter (as many of you experienced as well) and my body was in desperate need of some vitamin D.

SeaIslandEaster2014-1 SeaIslandEaster2014-2

Toddler Sand drawingsSeaIslandEaster2014-3

My favorite stretch of beach in the world, Sea Island, GA.SeaIslandEaster2014-4 SeaIslandEaster2014-5

I got some alone time and sister time by the pool with a plethora a great magazines, sunscreen and milk shakes.  Just what I needed.  Bliss.SeaIslandEaster2014-6


April 16, 2014

I use to journal all the time.  Pre-husbnad, pre-baby, pre-Boston, I have volumes of mole skin notebooks chronicling my 20-somthing life stacked in boxes in my studio.  The journals were mostly self indulgent rants about boyfriends, work, friends, school, etc. but I journaling helped me work out many a problems and the seemingly daily crises, especially when my sister, mom and friends were sick of hearing the same issues over and over again.  That said, they were meant for me and me only.  I should probably burn them before my daughter is old enough to find the collection and cringe and her self-indigent mother, but something keeps me from pitching them.  Perhaps it is honoring that young woman who felt the need to write and vent or perhaps I think there is some wisdom hidden among my spelling errors and bad grammar. Who knows, but as my life got busier with a business, marriage, home and family my writing waned.  I still keep a steady stream of mole skin notebooks, but they mostly consists of lists, projects and reminders than writing and sketching.

As I am expecting my second child, having old journals to flip back through might help me remember all those newborn peculiarities.  How to swaddle, when does “sleep regression” happen, first tooth, and how I “really” felt in those beginning months; joy, fear, exhaustion, or simply just something to look back on those early days of my daughters life  So the buck stops here.  The ladies over at The Everygirl have issued a 30 day challenge to journal for the month of April and I accept  Granted I am jumping in at the half way mark, but I figure better late than never and hopefully I will keep going, even as baby #2 arrives and life gets thrown upside down in that wonderful way all over again.


April Showers

April 9, 2014

The forsythia bush by the side of my house is finally budding and just dying to burst into a bright yellow flurry.  We also have a few crocuses popping up randomly in the back yard, and as our first spring in the house finally arrives I can’t wait to see what other bushes start to bloom.  If I recall a little bit from last year (during construction) I think we have a lilac bush right our the kitchen window…my favorite.

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I promised myself I would blog more.  I love the exercise of creating a post, whether it be a series I shot over the weekend, updates on my home, or sharing a recent project, but here I am struggling to get at least one post a week.  Lately I have been working away on projects I can’t quite share yet, getting my house complete or just chasing after my (very) energetic two year old, which at 32 weeks pregnant is no easy task.  I am feeling that third trimester fatigue where I feel at any given moment I could just close my eyes and instantly be asleep.  Of course not at night though, because as I lay down, that is when the baby in my belly decides it is time to practice some intricate Jazzercise routine.  And this is my house this morning, post toddler drop off, as I wait for a workman, before I go into the studio.  Oh the glamorous life.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

Ok, rant over.  Back to work.  Where it that workman…

Yesterday marked the 1 year date from the closing of our “new” home.  Which built in the 1880′s, required some extensive work.  There was an illegal 3 bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor, the former owner made cosmetic teeth in the basement.  Not to mention the old knob and tube wiring we found hidden in every wall, and failed floor joists in half of the 1st floor.

The architectural planning and renovation process began quickly after the purchase and 5 months into the process we moved in (no kitchen sink at that point, but we had walls and some running water on the second floor.)  A year later we finally find ourselves at the “punch list” point for this phase.  Buying and renovating an old home is a labor of love to say the least and we went through many love/hate phases during the year, but they truly do not make homes like this anymore.  Each 5 panel ladder door was milled specifically for my house, for that specific doorway.  And let me tell you, after removing, sanding, and repainting every single interior door ourselves, those suckers are solid old growth wood, built stronger than any recent manufactured door I have ever seen.  They must weigh at least 50 lb each.  Not to mention the old hardware which we stripped layers and layers of paint to revile a beautiful rose brass.

I feel an intimate connection with our home.  I feel like I know every inch, every detail and really appreciate the craftsmanship and detail found in our 130 year old home.  Which makes this recent article in the NY Times, alerted to me via Elements of Style all the more upsetting.  Apparently, famous New York designer Mario Buatta purchased a beautiful 1840′s Gothic revival home 20 years ago, with the plans of renovating and restoring it.  Flash forward to to today, he has done nothing.  In fact the home stands in worse shape and is rotting away. I think it was his poor health initially stalled the project, but comments like “This is not a communist country, you can do anything you want with your property,” but makes me think his ego and spite are more involved.  Renovating and restoring an old home is not for the faint of heart.  I know, but so should this seasoned designer.  I find it baffling he would let such a work of art and craftsmanship rot away.  Ugh.  So gross.  There is a petition pleading with Mr. Buatta to come to his senses and just sell the place to someone who will save it.

Christopher Capozziello for The New York TimesChristopher Capozziello for The New York Times

On the home front update

We are working away to get all the little details finished before baby #2 arrives in early June. Which by the looks of my calendar is rapidly approaching.  Eek.

The other weekend I styled and organized our library book shelves. All photos via iPhone…will do real photos someday, I promise.  Anyway, a work in progress as we watch basketball.

photo 1

Coming along.  Just need to figure out what to do with that upper gallery. I want to continue to add to our book collection, but I am determined to do so slowly and deliberately to ensure our library reflects us and the books we actually read.  So figuring out some place holders as our library grows.


The living room is coming along.  I got these chairs from Jordan’s Furniture of all places, for a great price and they are super comfy.  I think they look like RH chairs, but were a fraction of the price. (Need to steam the skirts.)

 SWStudiosPlaying with pillows.  Have no idea where I am going with these.  Will just let things evolve.

SWStudios-Living room

Kitchen is complete!  Could use some rugs and picture on the walls, but that is to come.


The 3rd floor. So we gutted, foam insulated, added a new HVAC system and put up blue board to that 3 bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor I was talking about and reconnected it to the main house.  Future dream plans, include making it a media room/game room with a joinng guest suite and full bathroom.  The plumbing is all up there, we just need to give our bank account a rest.  Right now it looks like this…but I are working hard to get complete organization before baby.  I have already had about 3 car loads of stuff hauled off to Good Will.

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