Monday, February 18, 2019

Think Pink: Inspired Romantic Tablescape Designs and Menus

Photo courtesy of Angie Lambert Photography
Pink is powerful. Pink is unconditional love and nurturing. 
I surely must’ve had pink power whispering in my ear while I was contemplating what the Valentine’s Day Tablescape would look like this year. 
Albeit, if I’m being totally honest, at the time that the design concept was gradually coming to me, I think I was channeling unabandoned romance; unbridled “pretty,” along with pink’s luminous textural art; its ability to blend or play with other colors and, well, its ability to elicit pure delight!

With pink as the inspiration, I took out those pink accessories I had in my tablescape collection that would work here, and then set out to shop for what I hoped would be the “fulfilling” design pieces. 

I had already decided I wanted tulle as a defining design element. 
After all, who can deny tulle is a dreamy, cloud-like confection? It’s the perfect pink tutu gliding en pointe in our dreams. It’s the dreamy pink prom dress. Pink petticoats fluffing pretty. princess dresses. 

And remember, Power Pink is not just for dames. 
Think about a dreamy man’s sexy sport jacket. (and socks.)

So Pink it was to be.

Mother and I went to a local Joanne’s fabric store and after poking around with this and that - Voila! I found not one but two widths of pink tulle -- on rolls! C'est formidable! I also found some faux florals -- on sale -- that I determined I could amend to make a kind of flower display. And that they were Peonies -- my most favorite bloom -- so naturally, they stole my heart. 
I also found pretty faux floral napkin rings. 
Usually, I shop the floral district in Gotham - for both real and faux florals. But these choices adapted (or yielded) -- to my design! And I think you’ll agree. 

I cut the faux floral pieces to create a more natural-looking display in the champagne glasses that worked as my vases. And added white and pink baby orchids - real ones. 
As support for this floral design treatment or aesthetic, I will share with you that even though I’m a passionate garden designer and floral arranger dedicated to using “real,” seasonal flowers (along with some exotics) to amplify a holiday celebration, I have used faux florals for some years - without feeling too cringeworthy - for my clients who need floral compositions with no maintenance - or because the thought of importing so many exotics along with their attending transport footprint, gives me pause… 

And then, in October of last year, one of my true entertaining, garden, and floral “she-roes,” the ever-glamorous Carolyn Roehme posted on Instagram about her “evolving” perspective on the use of faux. She mixes real and fake. What a nice vote of approval for a process I’ve enjoyed pursuing albeit with some reluctance. So yeah! I LOVE Ms. Roehme. We must be garden sprites from another life… 

The Tablescape 
When designing a tablescape - which is clearly distinct from setting a nice table -- is that, foremost, you are telling a story -- creating a kind of display that will delight your family and guests. 

A memorable table design is infused by the occasion. 
Then the creative, artful execution comes in to play. There is the deliberate, thoughtful, layering of a dynamic, designed composition. After all, even the best home tablescapes as opposed to one-off events table decor - can be modified and updated as a holiday transitions. Think Winter Holiday to New Years’ or Lunar New Year to Valentine’s. You can add and modify the foundation layout.

Fast forward to my pre-Valentine’s Day with family, followed by a Ladies Who Lunch / Galentine’s Day luncheon. I was over the moon with their heart-clutching and sighing reactions! As a home entertainment designer, that is exactly the reaction you hope to elicit. I live to delight family and guests! 

The Tablescape Design Process for Romantic Tablescape
Picking up where I left off shopping for the elements... 
On the table, I started layering the tulle runner. I went back and forth. And back and forth. And back and forth. I sincerely thought it would take a few of these end-to-end goal post efforts. But like any good design project, the ultimate determination is in the look. 
Rather surprisingly - I used all 25 yards of tulle that was on the roll. 
I wanted that cloud-like, ethereal look. 

Next - I needed to work in the string lights -- both white and pink.
I make sure to put the battery operated switch on the upside in the whatever table runner I create in order to gain easier access amidst the tablescape’s many splendored accessories.

The faux flowers I strategically cut and anchored in some of our hand-blown heart Waterford crystal champagne flutes from the Millenium Series - filling the base with fragrant, violet, French Lavender seeds.

I often use table mirrors -- or a number of a variety of mirrors - from vintage cosmetic compacts to cocktail coasters to wall-hanging mirrors as a key element of the tablescape design.

Photo courtesy of Angie Lambert Photograpy

Here, I want to point out, is a key DIY Tablescape construct that makes it such an extraordinary art form - and that is - repurposing or using a thing in a new way.
One’s eye for the “what if” needs to be so wow-worthy in order to elevate the “nice” - to the heart-clutching.

I used the pretty pink ballet music boxes from last year, as part of the tablescape anchor - and used it as the concealed surprise with an amuse bouche for one of our dinners. For the rest of our entertaining meals, I left the music boxes open, filled with - what else -- pink feathers. This pink feather texture adds a sensual layer to the look.

Photo courtesy of Angie Lambert Photography

Photo courtesy of Angie Lambert Photography

I bought pink strands of hearts, and later added a pink flower light strand. And because I’m so smitten with flamigos, I got these adorable ones at Joanne’s that must be used for appliques… And in the same way, the airy pink florals that here, I scattered on the runner.

I brought out my pinkish, glittery placemats I had from Christmas, years’ past.

I purchased new Lenox Blush settings - they were just too pretty in pink and gold - and I’m thrilled with their look. I know I will mix and match with my other table settings for so many other occasions.

More of the artful layering-in included gold and pink glitter, of course (because as I always say, life is too short and you can’t have too much glitter!); along with those Conversation Valentine’s hearts that they stopped making (I have a stash!), and gold beads and “pearls” and ….

The Pretty in Pink February Tablescape is a delight in the day - and especially fetching at night, especially with all the ornamental string lights bouncing off the crystal and amplifying the glow of the fireplace.

It was coming together…

When setting the table for guests, I wanted to use a holiday-appropriate place-setting name cards. So, naturally - it was a heart-shaped card. I purchased a pink heart stamp - and Mother helped in the design:

I tied gold and pink ribbons throught the hole and set in the green holder stands.

Subsequently, I asked my brilliant botanical artist friend, Jean Gaulle if she could shrink up one one of her truly outstanding pieces of art -- Look at this!

- and shrink it down so I could show off her art on the name cards. It was a lovely addition to our Ladies Who Lunch / Galentines celebration. Thank you, Jean.
Seriously, (y’all need to follow Jean on her Instagram - and get an original Jean Galle piece of art for your home. She is on the cusp of going huge/popular/recognized. Stay tuned -- she was just asked to submit for a show at Filoli.
I’m so very proud to highlight, display, showcase my very talented friends. Always.
In this post it’s Jean - and the ever-incredible and inspiring, Angie Lambert Photography

In terms of the tablescape, a bit more layering was in order to get to perfection:

Following the work on the tablescape - it was time to design the entry hall.

Keeping with the theme of pretty in pink - I started with a smaller width tulle - only two or three layered wraps - red candlesticks I found at the antique shop - on sale; gold and white candles i had (I don’t light them anymore); the gorgeous gold candle holders my niece Marissa gifted us at Christmas (you’ll recognize them from the holiday tablescape); pink string lights, and then when I learned it was the Year of the Pig for Lunar New Year’s, I got these cute pink pigs (banks) with gold wings and crowns!

In the black plant urns I added cotton candy! The cream colored maple cotton candy from our Union Square Greenmarket and the pink (and blue) cotton candy from Dylans Candy Bar.

It’s all so frothy and pretty! (And to think some folks told me it couldn’t work….)

On the antique Asian wedding trousseau that I use as a side table, I placed the three-tiered candy dish - laden with chocolates and sweets. It’s also holding court under the still pretty-in-pink ornamental Mulhy Grass I cut in November.

I bring the candy dish to the table so that guests can enjoy the sweets. On the way in or out -- it’s all happy good.

Photo courtesy of Angie Lambert Photography

Photo courtesy of Angie Lambert Photography

The favorite menu this holiday was my husband Bill’s Asian Miso soup -- with pork, ramen, spinach and egg. It is delicious.

Photo courtesy of Angie Lambert Photograpy

And handsome, too.

My heart-shaped beet-burgers are so terrific, and I’m thrilled that guests love them too. Beets, chick peas, rice/quinoa, EVOO, and garlic - whizzed up in the food processor and shaped into hearts -- served on a bed of beet greens sauteed in anchovy paste and EVOO, and baby greens.

The Ladies brought champagne and some extraodinary pink treats!

Photo courtesy of Angie Lambert Photography


Thank you, my Ladies Who Lunch clients and friends. And my artful chicas. I love you. And love entertaining tablescapes and experiences....

Please celebrate the glamour of every season.


Photo courtesy of Angie Lambert Photography

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Valentine's Day Love: Red-Hot Cocktails Shake Up Your Happy Hour; Cheese Treats, & More

Let’s just get right to it, shall we? Sexy cocktails are the foreplay to a celebrated evening of romance and fantasy. What could be more suggestively sizzling than a red-hot, “Shut up and kiss me” spicy martini?

Cran-Spiced Martini

  • 2 parts Reyka Vodka
  • 1 part cranberry 100% juice
  • ¾ part Vanilla spiced syrup
Glass: Martini

Method: Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker (with 2-3 ice cubes) and pour strained, foamy ingredients into the glass -- Shake, strain & garnish.

Garnish: Skewered cranberries. I like those picks with the red ball top - pretty; plus the ball helps anchor the pick. You can also use ruby or garnet stick pins as the skewer.

*Vanilla spiced syrup: Add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, ¼ tsp. ground black pepper, 5 tsp. allspice, 1 cinnamon stick (2 ½"). Bring to a boil in a pot. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
Fine strain and add ½ oz vanilla extract.

The Exene

  • 1.5 parts Hudson Baby Bourbon
  • 1 part Aperol aperitif
  • .5 part fresh lemon juice
  • .5 part honey syrup
  • Half-dropper of Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters (comes in dropper format—2 dashes if decanted into dasher bottle )
Method: Add ingredients to shaker with ice, and shake to chill.

CENTER IMAGE - (my favorite) : shaken with egg white or .75 oz aquafaba (chickpea water), strained into cocktail glass
Garnish with lemon twist

LEFT IMAGE: strained over ice and topped with soda
Garnish with lemon wedge

RIGHT IMAGE: strained over the rocks

Garnish: Lemon wedge & cherry

If you want to spice up your Valentine evening but keep it light, here are a few cocktail confections to explore. I love the rich, nuanced Ancho Reyes so much -- and also the heat of the Milagro Reposado -- therefore I can wholeheartedly recommend this Spicy Milagro Paloma.

Spicy Milagro Paloma: by Jaime Salas, National Milagro Ambassador

  • 1 ½ Parts Milagro Reposado
  • ½ Part Ancho Reyes
  • ½ Part Fresh Lime Juice
  • 3 Parts Grapefruit Soda
  • Grapefruit Wheel
Using a lime wedge, wet the rim of the glass and salt half the rim. Add ice, Milagro Reposado, Ancho Reyes and grapefruit soda. Squeeze a wedge of lime and discard.

Garnish: Add a thin grapefruit wheel to the glass

Glassware: tall Collins glass (or Pilsner if you have that in your collection)

“Were kicking up the Paloma recipe with the spicy and savory notes of Ancho chiles along with Milagro Reposado’s caramel and hints of pepper. The winning Mexican combination makes for a next level riff on an already amazing Mexican classic.” – noted Jamie Salas, National Milagro Ambassador. Agreed!

Strawberry Mamie Taylor: By Giuseppe Gonzalez (Suffolk Arms, NYC)

  • 2 parts Monkey Shoulder
  • .5 parts Lemon juice
  • .75 parts ginger syrup
  • .25 parts strawberry puree
Method: Shake. Top with soda.

My suggestion for a Garnish -- chocolate dipped fresh strawberry, or a fancy twist, or a candied ginger or two on a pretty pick such as jewelry pin or a barbershop red and white straw cut in half.

Prickled Pink by Jaime Salas, National Milagro Ambassador

  • 2 Parts Milagro Silver
  • 1 Part Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 Parts Pink Agua de Tuna**
  • 3/4 Part Agave Nectar
Method:Pour all ingredients into a Boston shaker, shake and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.

Glassware: Old Fashioned or Rocks glass

Garnish: Add a lime wheel to the glass rim

**To make Agua de Tuna: Peel and roughly chop 5 prickly pear fruits (green and red), add to blender and puree until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds and pulp, discard.

The Freshest Margarita
“This delicious, yet simple three ingredient take on the classic margarita allows Milagro to shine front and center among the freshest trifecta of flavors.” – said Salas, Milagro ambassador.

I think this cocktail not only works for Valentine’s Day but you can also practice for National Margarita Day, February 22nd!

Mexican Garden Margarita by Jaime Salas

  • 2 Parts Milagro Silver 
  • 1 Part Fresh Lime Juice
  • .5 Part Light Agave Nectar 
  • 2 Parts Pineapple Juice 
  • 1 Cilantro Leaf
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake, strain, and pour over fresh ice into rocks glass. 

And because you can never have enough artful Garnishes - I love that this cocktail offers no less that three garnishes! So you might think of as a fashion layering - meaning one or two or all garnishes. 

Garnish: A pineapple leaf, lime wheel, and a cilantro leaf.
Garnish: 1 Pineapple Leaf
Garnish: 1 Lime Wheel
Garnish: 1 Cilantro Leaf

Spicy Verde Margarita by Jaime Salas, National Milagro Ambassador


  • 1 Part Milagro Silver
  • 1 Part Ancho Reyes Verde
  • ¾ Part Fresh Lime Juice
  • ½ Part Light Agave Nectar
Method: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.

Glassware: Rocks

Milagro Tequila (milagro means ‘miracle’ - which is just so darn apropos for Valentine’s Day imbibing ) is made from 100% estate-grown, hand-selected, blue agave in the town of Tepatitlan in the Jalisco region of Mexico. The agaves are harvested about 8 to 12 years after planting and the juice is extracted from the heart of the plant by roasting in clay ovens made from the estate’s volcanic soil. Milagro Tequila is triple distilled and aged longer than most tequilas to obtain its distinctive flavor. Be still my heart….

The available expressions include Milagro Silver, Reposado, Añejo, Select Barrel Reserve Silver, Select Barrel Reserve Reposado, and Select Barrel Reserve Añejo.


If you want to bring a bit of ahem, “spirit” to your Valentine - you will win over his or her heart with a bottle of one or more of these quality brands:

Proper No. Twelve: Proper No. Twelve is an Irish whiskey launched in September last year by MMA champion, entrepreneur, family man and philanthropist, Conor McGregor. The brand and its name were inspired by McGregor's love of Ireland, its people and Irish whiskey. Proper No. Twelve is a blend of Ireland's finest golden grain and single malt. Plus, this treat will last you through St. Patrick’s Day celebrations! Price: $25 - $30

D’USSE:D’USSE is a bold new expression of Cognac that dares the palate like never before. It’s VSOP varietal is a perfectly balanced blend of selected Cognacs aged at least 4 ½ years in French oak barrels in the Chateau de Cognac’s unique dry and humid cellars. It’s a full-body blend with a powerful, complex taste and a pleasantly smooth finish. D’USSE VSOP Price: $49.99 - $54.99

Hillrock Distillery: Hillrock Estate Distillery is on a mission to produce the finest hand-crafted spirits using its onsite Malt House and three different Estate Grains. Its Double Cask Rye’s deep golden amber color is highlighted by warm and inviting aromas of vanilla and caramel with hints of prune, apricot and rye spice. Double Cask Rye Price: $92 - $99

You didn’t think I’d leave you without a recipe to whip up using these exotics, did you? Heaven’s no. Here’s some racy, red cocktails to woo your beloved.

The D’USSE Red Velvet - perfectly elegant for Valentine’s Day

  • 2 oz- D’USSE Cognac
  • 1.5 oz- Crème de Cacao
  • .5 oz- Simple Syrup
  • 3- Fresh raspberries
  • 3 Dashes- Chocolate Molé Bitters
Muddle Raspberries and Simple Syrup in a shaker. Add D’USSE Cognac, Crème de Cacao and Bitters. Shake vigorously with Ice. Double strain into a chilled Coup or Martini Glass. 

Glassware: Coup or Martini

Garnish: Fresh raspberries on a metal skewer. I would suggest you could skewer the raspberries on a bejeweled hat pin for some extra bling..

KNOCK OUT: Created by Sonny Verdini, Bar Manager, TRADE (Boston, MA)

  • 1.5oz Proper Twelve Whiskey
  • 1 cinnamon syrup
  • .75 oz house made ginger liqueur 
  • .5 oz lemon
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Method: Shake into a single rocks glass.

Garnish:Adorn the glass with a dehydrated lemon or orange wheel and a cinnamon stick. I might add that you could lim the rim of the glass with cinnamon sugar; and add a dehydrated ginger candy slice.

Apple of My Eye - created and available at db Bistro Moderne - where we just enjoyed a sterling pre-theater lunch -- and returned post Network performance to talk about and decompress from this kinetic Broadway masterpiece. Ohhhh Bryan Cranston - you are a treasure. Sorry - I’m smitten with this actor of stage and screen….

While not red in hue, this darling cocktail is beautiful and elegant with notes of Cider Apples, Honey, Cherry (a wee bit of red for the Valentine holiday), and Almond. So warming…

  • 1 oz Calvados Ménorval
  • 2 oz Henriques & Henriques Rainwater Madeira 3yr
  • .5 oz Honey Syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir.

Glassware: Serve straight up in a coupe glass.

Garnish: Dress the glass with an apple slice and cinnamon stick. You can use a Granny Smith or for this holiday - a ripe, red apple such as a Fuji would work.

If you’re like me - you can’t resist indulging in cheese love. I prepare a salumi plate every evening for my husband, Bill, to enjoy when he gets home from the office.

But Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to up the cheese game. And who better than my friends at Murray’s Cheese -- THE defining cheese mecca to offer a portfolio of Valentine’s gifts - not only for your lover but for friends and family.

I love Murray’s outreach -- “Will you Brie Mine?” How cute is that?

OK - I dare anyone to resist the Sweetheart Tower ($55)
Get ready for romance with your one and only by indulging in this delicious cheese tower. Complete with Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Hollander, Murray’s Mini Brie, and Pico Picandine, it’s the ideal tower for every palate and will have your Valentine’s Day date swooning.

This Cheese Indulgence is a Truffle up and wheel, high roller—piled high with a magnificent mélange of flavors and textures. The base is loaded with black truffle—everyone’s favorite fancy fungus—and from there it builds through a pair of renowned wheels, up to a sublimely creamy peak. This is a tower that simply has it all.
And then -- there’s the Valentine’s Day Collection ($100)

This gift could surely inspire a romance in your life. It includes Mast Brothers Dark Chocolate, Moliterno al Tartufo, La Tur, Cambozola Black Label, and Urban Oven Olive Crackers.

Did you know? Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day, according to a recent WalletHub survey:

Valentine’s Day Trivia:
  • $20.7B: Total Valentine’s Day spending projected for 2019 ($161.96 per person celebrating). Candy is the number one item folks buy for their sweetheart - followed by cards, flowers, an evening out, and jewelry. I say, why settle for one of these items when you clearly deserve all of them!! 
  • $196 vs. $100: Men spent nearly twice as much as women, on average, for Valentine’s Day 2018.
  • $7.6 Billion: Amount Americans will spend on jewelry ($3.9B), flowers ($1.9B) and candy ($1.8B).
  • 9 Million: Number of marriage proposals made each Valentine’s Day.
  • NYC is number one for florists per capita - so no excuse for not bringing home a bouquet.
You can enjoy the full WalletHub survey.

And I just got back from reviewing a new restaurant in Chinatown, PhobarNYC And so I can share a quick shout out here (formal review to follow).

The reason why I’m including PhoBar in a Valentine’s Day overview is that after tasting and testing at the new restaurant today, I could understand how this Vietnamese menu could be not only a delicious Valentine’s evening out for the food --oh wow - but also - and hear me out on this -- at Phobar one “builds” their “Perfect Bowl” of Pho. Sooo, if you’re still with me -- you could better connect with your date or mate - as you observe how they build their Pho!

Love is in the ingredients.

So glamorous.

Love, love and more love to you, my readers. I so appreciate your support and input.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Best of Show at NY NOW - Home and Garden Designs

Straight out of the press room - Alsop caught my eye. While there’s no doubt I go weak in the knees at most everything magically glittery and twinkling - the design firm also appealed to my more pragmatic nature.

See, Alsop offers pendant lamps and lanterns, string lights, and speakers - all solar powered. I can’t wait to spec them into my garden designs!

I always say that every good garden design tells a story; and accessorizing the garden with products such as these sustainable creations adds abundant, unique charm - and of course utility.

It’s a true luxury to indulge in the garden, patio or terrace, post-dusk. Even if you have fireflies (or lightning bugs as we call them), these solar-powered lights create their own style-rich ambience. This is not task lighting, rather it’s that romantic glow.

It was explained to me that Alsop - and father and daughter owned business launched nearly 20 years ago with an updated, ergonomic wheelbarrow, has patents on their designs and they continue to innovate.

There is a “built-in photo light sensor that turns on the LEDs. The handmade lanterns and lamps use both TyvekⓇ so they are durable in all weather, punched metal, glass, treated canvas, or the original, Soji™ UV-treated nylon -- in solid colors or very pretty graphic patterns and prints.

All the lanterns and lamps come in a variety of shapes - from round to teardrop to pods or “cans.”

There are stringed lights too - so your garden rooms can take on the look of a sophisticated resort. The Stella String, for example, features ten, cylinder-shaped lights in a pearlescent tone punched with a sunflower pattern - conjuring the classic tin luminaries.

And then there’s the Marrakesh Metallic String is silver, copper and more than a few sexy shapes.

Part of the magic is the punched designs -- no matter the material - there are intricate patterns that look good in the day and then allow the subtle solar light to glow through.

I could readily see layering and/or mixing and matching not only the styles but the shapes too. Alsop offers their own accessories so that you have the unlimited option of using the lights in a variety of ways, depending on the party or your mood. For example, you can transform a hanging light to a table top or a use on of their stainless steel stakes to line a garden path.

I love the possibilities.

And finally, there’s Mooni© (I just love saying that moniker!). Mooni is a glowing lantern and/or a glowing lantern with a speaker - in seven colors and four light modes -- all controlled via a remote, charged up with a USB; 
plus you can customize your settings with a BluetoothⓇ device to stream your favorite music. Easy and portable -- just in case the party flow moves from pool to patio…

Look for these innovative Alsop products to add glamour to your outdoor garden rooms -- or ask your garden designer (or me!) to create a glowing, artful evening decor that is guaranteed to delight you and your guests.

I also saw very handsome pots from Campo De’ Fiori terra cotta pots and planters with their lush, trademarked moss that adds an artful faux patina for an aged look. The company’s name means “Field of Flowers: in Italian). Nice. The firm also showed a number of garden accessories from vases to sculpture that will punctuate garden room design.


I found myself lingering at the CDI Design booth. Because I am a horticulturist, there a time not all that long ago, that I would’ve just sped by a maker of faux plants and flowers, I’ve “evolved” - (as politicians are wont to say, of late…)

I do mix faux with real - or for some clients - I use faux entirely in container arrangements or full-scale compositions. Why not? There’s a host of environmental reason to do so; plus they make them so very realistic -- and there’s no getting around the no to low maintenance. So for site-specific reasons or circumstances, I’m on board. Moreover, everyone knows those “green walls” simply do not hold up. Too much work. Messy. And more. With rich, lush, faux flowers and foliage - I could design for a patio, terrace, or bathroom spa. (I saw this at a recent Kips Bay Design House but with real plants -- and thinking of all the ferns and soil that would soon “litter” the tub, I got the shivers.)

But this is a green wall of a different design. You can control the look.

Also, I’ve been on the research hunt for someone who could make a faux topiary that would pass muster with a favorite garden design client. The ones we had seized up in a crash freeze a few years ago. I’m nurturing them back to health but not soon enough. Topiaries are singular luxury - because they take so long to cultivate.

And then there’s espalier. So much easier on the tortured plant. Although I do love my apple tree espalier and one of my garden design client’s whole house pyracantha espalier that we not only prune for more than a dozen years - but lovingly nurtured in Superstorm Sandy’s aftermath.

The folks at Creative Displays reassured me they could create anything I design. I believe them! They invited me to their facility in the Garden State (naturally) and I’m going to do it. In the meantime, check out their floral arrangements: tabletop and potted. The tropicals and succulents ts are a wonder…

Another innovative lighting designer I found was SonnenglasⓇ a South African-based company that produces -- prety much all handmade -- solar-powered, eco-friendly light source. Available in two sizes, (about seven inches tall and the Mini (almost three and half inches tall), the glass looks like mason jars.

The lids contain four solar-powered LEDs, which charge the solar cells and includes a micro-USB charging port. Sonnenglas claims they offer the most efficient solar cells on the market - providing up to 24 hours of “warm, bright light.” Lorenzo Maggi, export sales manager at the show booth, delicately pointed out to me that many countries don’t have electricity so the product was originally developed for people in these underserved areas. I felt rather guilty then, because I saw the jars as conduits for a kind of mini terrarium for garden parties. I thought I could create darling or elegant compositions inside -- blooms, charms, sea shells, layered, colored sand, cool insects, stones -- I was off and ruminating on the design possibilities…

Nevertheless, the Sonnenglas is weather proof; it has a wire handle for easy transport -- I’m thinking entertainment or tablescapes, of course, but these would be ideal for a picnic or beach night. The company refers to their glass lights as “bottled sunshine.” Gotta love that.

Chive could’ve been voted as the number one “happy” vendor booth due to its rainbow of both whimsical and elegant vases and pots made from ceramic or glass. I use these hanging ones a lot


New to me in a very usable size are these beauties.

I can see these used in so many Tablescapes, office environments, and vanities.

Chive’s shapes and designs are inspired by nature: coral from the sea, or the cutest animal pots -- look at this piglet pots -- perfect for a Lunar New Year celebration because it’s the Year of the Pig. Can’t you just see these making your guests smile?

There’s also turtles, snails, rhinos, elephants -- and shhhh - unicorns.

Speaking of animals -- one of two very favorite birds - flamingos - lured me over to Jacaranda Living

A true discovery was handcrafted Whole Harmony - medicinal, wellness plant healers.

These two herbalists/entrepreneurs: David and Stacey have a great story
 --and offer tonics, elixirs, and teas -- all grown and harvested and blended on their Connecticut farm. Ahhhh. I tasted the teas -- very tasty and rewarding.

I truly loved the Elderberry Syrup


And most especially - the Folk Fyre

According to Whole Harmony’ - their “Folk Fyre is an old-fashioned herbal remedy crafted to warm up your digestive tract. Unlike regular apple cider vinegar, Folk Fyre’s impressive list of natural ingredients includes a variety of powerful additives. Potent and fiery, this blend includes freshly shredded horseradish, ginger, and turmeric to name a few. Once steeped in raw apple cider vinegar for a duration of six weeks, we then strain and bottle up this potion for your consumption!”

I was readily conjuring up cocktail recipes with the Folk Fyre and the Elderberry Syrup. I had the distinct impression Whole Harmony focused on the pure health elements of their homegrown and hand-crafted creations - (meaning please don’t talk about wicked cocktails with regard to their farmed and healthy blends) -- but I can’t help create and promote a delicious, pure, garden-to-glass ingredients for craft cocktails.

A truly charming product I discovered is sure to create memories -- and a lifetime of gardening joy. Serial entrepeneurs, husband and wife Sheri and Clyde Hutchinson --

launched Backyard Safari Company based on Sheri’s experience in the garden with her grandchildren. There are 10 different “gardens” with everything you need to start a garden, including soil.
For example, their newest garden, “Tranquility” includes: Seed envelopes that are FCS Certified, 30% Post Consumer Waste, 100% Windpower with the Egg Carton Garden including:

  • 6 packages of Heirloom Seeds
  • Starter Soil
  • Plant Recipes
  • Wooden Plant ID Stakes
  • Growing Instructions
  • Pencil 
  • 100% Recycled Fiber Egg Carton Planter
  • Seeds: Chamomile (calming), Holy Basil (reduces stress), Lavender (relaxing sleep), Peppermint (cooling & energizing), Wild Bergamot (soothing), Sage (memory & focus)

Other gardens are Chili, Cocktail, Honey Bee, and Sunflower.  

Sweet success. I just love this!

Another cute garden idea is from dZi Handmade. They showed hanging planters made from felt. Very cute and colorful. The felt can absorb the watering. Succulents would work very well.  

I also like Bees’ WrapⓇ Basics sustainable food wraps made from harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. I’ve been on a mission for a number of years to rid the kitchen of plastics -- and have some very good products I use, including Pyrex and another beeswax wrap, Abeego. But these are so very pretty!

Introduced this year is The Oceans Print line that celebrates "our shores, seas, and waterways; partnering with 1% for the Planet to donate a percentage of sales from this print to organizations that support ocean conservancy and water stewardship.

I also was very enchanted by Kim Seybert’s line of extraordinary placemats, runners, napkins and napkin rings. Their line offers up very sophisticated table jewelry that will highlight any number of Tablescape compositions.


NY NOW®, is the largest retail focused exhibition in the Americas, held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. The market “fully embraces the sweeping renaissance that is reinventing retail. The winter 2019 market, with its 2,300 exhibitors, demonstrated the success of what they term “chore” shopping versus “cherish” or chosen shopping. Point being - the vendors and makers at this show appeals to small, usually family owned shops - and top-tier designers and decorators.  Cheers to KBIS - as the best example.  
The Show folks say, “Growing faster than GDP, the millions of independent retailers responsible for 96%+ of all retail sales are beginning to experience a totally new and exciting reality. Online commerce, long assumed to be the future of retail, now makes up less than 9% of the total market and all about “chore” purchasing. Meanwhile in-store or “cherish shopping” is on the rise. Millennials and Gen Z buyers prefer the brick and mortar environment and want to discover unique and inspirational pieces and experiences.

Back to the makers: A few other noteworthy makers at the show here -- because I love all things botanical:   

Lucy Jade Sylvester; exhibited her jewelry alongside other designers who were brought to New York by Craft Scotland. Lucy believes you cannot compete with the beauty of nature, its perfect lines and textures, so uses it as directly as possible in her jewelry.
After walks near her Oxfordshire studio, she takes moulds from her delicate woodland finds. Lucy casts into the cavity they leave, the process allowing her to create exact replicas of life in solid gold and silver that retain the finest details.
"These natural forms with beautiful textures would decay into the ground and be gone forever; with direct casting from them I've created something that will now be here forever, to be worn for a lifetime."
Botanical bridal engagement rings cast from twisted twigs and leaves are set with brilliant cut, rose cut and uncut diamonds. These can be paired with woven grass, leaf vein or lichen textured woodland wedding bands in widths to suit all. These rings provide a timeless alternative for those who love the patterns and textures provided by the natural world.

How lovely is this?  “Landscapes you can hold in your hand. Or The landscapes you hold dear to your heart”

Sol Proaño debuted her globally inspired jewelry line at the February 2019 edition of NY NOW. With the name Origin, the collection embraces the designer’s roots while maintaining a simple yet refined aesthetic.

“Inspired by the landscapes of her native Chile, Sol Proaño’s jewelry marries the soul of the Andes with American minimalist style. The collection mixes both clean lines and organic shapes, as well as metals like recycled sterling silver and 14k goldfill. In this way, Sol integrates her very dissimilar visual experiences in South America and the United States into a very distinctive body of work.

The Great British stag beetle, bees, and hawk moths have all been given a new life in solid silver and gold by the nature loving jeweler. Her Hawk moth ring was chosen by costume designer Michele Clapton to be worn by Sansa Stark in the hit medieval TV series Game of Thrones.
The Lifestyle Collection’s new indie NOW feature attracted retailers who were quick to take advantage of unique never before seen fragrances and personal care products.

The newly co-located and fully curated National Stationery Show® featured “Emerging Artists” where retailers could find over 50 totally new introductions plus 400+ better stationery product designers and producers, all ideal sources or products for their store to add to a successful buyer experience.

A few nice tablescape compositions caught my eye:    

Look for handsome botanical, hand-embroidered napkins to highlight your tablescapes:    

I love the look of Metal Lace - the art of metal.  Their baskets, vases, bowls, coasters, candle holders, and more are intriguing, mysterious, and true conversation pieces.  So unique.


As a related aside, I researched this process and was delighted and intrigued to learn that historically, metal lace "describes a type of lace made from metal or metallic threads, such as gold, silver, or copper. The designs can be worked on a textile ground, or the lace can completely be made from metallic threads. It is mainly used as an embellishment for military uniforms, fashionable, ceremonial and theatrical dress, and ecclesiastical textiles."
Metal Lace reinterprets this artful tradition in extraordinary ways.
Voted Best in Show were the gorgeous wood bowls from Lily Juliet -- also kind of "lacy."

A tasty product discovery is Sugarfina's sweets.  Who can resist chocolate vodka or bourbon balls?! Put that in your Valentine's Day gifting.

I was particularly attracted to their patterning with spirits and wine -- especially with my friends at Desclan's pretty in pink, "Whispering Angel" rose.

and with Tito's handmade vodka 

A too-beautiful bureau took my breath away:  Ercole's Blossom chest of drawers:   and bar: 

Made right here in Gotham, these truly one-of-a-kind pieces deserve a space in your home (I gotta find a nook for that bar!)
According to Ercole: "Every collection is designed and directed by Ornella, and each piece is hand made in New York, in a studio principally staffed by women artisans."  Love the women solidarity and girl power!

About NY NOW
The winter 2019 edition of NY NOW®, the Market for Home, Lifestyle, Handmade + Gift, takes place February 3-6, 2019 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. NY NOW features three comprehensive collections - HOME, LIFESTYLE and HANDMADE - that encompass tens of thousands of products in hundreds of product categories. For the first time, NY NOW welcomes the co-locations of the winter market with the National Stationery Show® and SURTEX®, which will take place during the same time, all under one roof and in the same location. Attendees from all 50 states and nearly 70 countries worldwide attended.

Thank you NY NOW.

*all photos are mine or the makers'.