Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Day Snow In Nevada

Photos of the beautiful Christmas snow at Dan's family Lake Tahoe home which we all meet every other year to celebrate Christmas with his family. A beautiful and serene property with pine covered mountains making it the picture perfect location for a white christmas.

A photo taken from our vehicle of our drive up.

Baby Daniel experiencing snowfall for the very first time. He was afraid to walk on the snow but loved watching it fall from the sky.

Photos taken on the familys beautiful property.

Our baby Rococco aka Cocco enjoying her 2nd vacation in the snow.

She enjoyed the snow the most. She was so full of energy running around the place.

A view of the outside from the dining room.

Baby Daniel giving us his Carol King impersonation.

Little Anna-Marie enjoying the snow.

Dan's twin sister Dana in front of the home.

Brother in-law Mike pulling daughter Elena on the sled for her very first joy ride in the snow.

Baby Daniel opening his present from Grammy and Grandpa.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our 2008 Holiday Dinner Party For Six

Happy Holidays All!

As I promised you on my Holiday Home tour post, below are the photos of this past weekend's holiday dinner we hosted for four very close neighbors in our dining room. We had a terrific time and I'm still wearing the hangover to prove it. I must say that as much as I loved the end result of decorating the table and definitely reminded me of how exhausting it can be. This is probably why you may not see another table like this from me in a very long long time.

I created the centerpiece with red roses,peruvian lilies,snap dragons,red holly berries,fresh lemons,miniature red apples and a variety of evergreens such as cedar,fir etc.

The 2 compotes were actually an after thought. I purchased more flowers then I needed for the table centerpiece so I simply used the leftovers in the compotes. They were removed from the table before everyone sat down for dinner.

Another view of the table looking toward the front of the home. The vintage Asian wallpaper is by Albert Van Luit & Company.

The silver votive candle holders with the red beaded shade were a great find at our local Target store many years ago. They are still one of my holiday favorites.

An aerial view of the table. The emerald champagne and ruby red wine hock crystal stemware are by Waterford from the Clarendon collection. The water goblets are by Arte Italica from the Medici collection.

The porcelain dinnerware is by Bernardaud from the Elysee collection.

I couldn't end this post without sharing pictures of our little guy whoo-ing all the women that attended my partner Dan's office holiday luncheon this past Friday at the Grange restaurant.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Designers For The Ritz Carlton And Four Seasons Hotels

It's no secret that hotels are another great source for inspiration. HGTV's Designer Karen McAloon's Top 10 Tips To Style reminded me of just how much of my personal decorating ideas have been inspired by the hospitality industry. My favorite design is classicism. It's a favorite of my partner Dan as well. That's why when traveling, we always seek out hotels that we think capture this ambiance. The Four Seasons & the Ritz Carlton are two notable hotels among our top favorites when it comes to chains. Both are recognized worldwide for many of their AAA Five Diamond award wining properties. I decided to do a little research to find out a bit of history of how both chains got their start as well as who is behind the interior designs of their many classic traditional properties. Below, are the bios of 2 of the designers.


The Ritz Carlton was inspired by the successful brand created by
Cesar Ritz (1850-1918)founder of the internationally famous Hotel Ritz in
In the United States, The Ritz-Carlton Investing Company was established by Albert Keller who bought and franchised the name. The Ritz Carlton hotel opened it's doors in 1927 in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. The hotel embodied the vision of Cesar Ritz, Yankee ingenuity and Boston social sensibilities.

First Ritz opened 1898

Second Ritz opened 1906

Third Ritz opened 1910


The Four Seasons was founded in 1960 by Isadore Sharp in Toronto,Canada.
In 1961,Sharp opened his first hotel located in a less desirable part of downtown Toronto. Sharp,an Architect, designed the hotel around an inner courtyard so that the guests would not have to look out at the surrounding shady neighborhood. The Four Seasons Motor Hotel opened with a cost of less than $1 million. It became an immediate success.
Today, the Four Seasons currently manages over 80 luxury hotels and resorts in over 18 countries.


Pierre-Yves Rochon and Frank Nicholson are two names that are very well known to the hospitality industry's giants. Both designers have worked with the Four Seasons & Ritz Carlton creating classic and elegant environments which have been a great contribution to the success and reputation held by these 2 leaders for providing the finest and most luxurious hotel accommodations available today.

Originally from the Brittany region in France, Pierre–Yves Rochon lived in many foreign countries during his youth. This experience sharpened his curiosity of the world and gave him a broad open mindedness to culture and art. After hesitating between a career in classical music and the movie industry, he chose to study Fine Arts and Interior Design. He then worked for several well known contemporary interior designers, which enabled him to experiment with different design approaches, from traditional European to the wildest futuristic. Mr. Rochon founded his own company in 1979 and is now world–renowned for his award–winning luxury hospitality interior environments. He is personally involved in every assignment, approaching each project with a unique perspective and always keeping the business goals of the client in mind. These ideals have led to numerous awards for the interior design of five–star hotels, fine restaurants and private residences. His prestigious commissions include projects for Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Ritz–Carlton Hotels & Resorts, Sofitel Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Peninsula Hotels. In addition, he has created restaurant environments for some of the world's most innovative chefs, such as Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse and Paul Bocuse. In all of his work, he strives to enhance every aspect of the guest experience while reflecting each location's culture, history and geography.

The firm's prestigious commissions include projects for the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, the Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts, Sofitel Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Peninsula Hotels. PYR has created restaurant environments for some of the world's most innovative chefs, such as Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse and Paul Bocuse. PYR Portfolio Following are 3 beautiful works of Rochon which includes my 2 favorites the Four Seasons in Paris & Geneva.


Bio: Frank Nicholson

Frank Nicholson, Boston born, is schooled in both Fine Arts and Architecture. He has twenty-five year’s experience in the hotel design field, with projects both domestic and abroad, and is the principal of Frank Nicholson Incorporated of Concord, Massachusetts, an Interior Design firm specializing exclusively in luxury hotel development. He has headed his own firm for many years with a small group of highly specialized designers and architects. In March of 1987, he was inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame. His work has been featured in books and publications of the world’s best hotels and is the recipient of many awards of excellence. Each year the listing of five star, five diamond best hotels includes properties designed by Frank Nicholson, Inc.

His design philosophy is to bring a timeless classically enduring quality of design to top of the market hotels while featuring fine art and antiques in a residential scale. Each hotel is designed to provide a unique individual character that reflects the flavor and tradition of its location.

Frank Nicholson Incorporated has provided the design for most Ritz-Carlton Hotels and a great many of the Four Seasons Ltd. Hotels throughout the world, as well as many individual luxury developments. Current projects include Europe, the Far East, the Pacific Rim, as well as important locations in the United States. Following are 3 of Nicholson's beautifully executed classic designs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Creating Gift Boxes Out Of Greeting Cards

This past Sunday, I visited a neighbor for a glass of wine before dinner and to admire her beautiful holiday tree she just completed. While there, I saw several charming little decorative boxes on her sofa table. Apparently, she made them out of old greeting cards. I thought it was genius! She was surprised I had never heard of the idea. Well, as a test, I asked just a couple of friends that I thought were creative enough that perhaps they too had known about this idea. It turned out they had not(perhaps we've all missed the bus on this one)but agreed it was a smart idea. In the meantime, she sent me a link she found online that gives the very same step by step instructions she uses. Give it a try.

Below is all about using different types of greeting cards (new or/and recycled)to create beautiful gift boxes.

Once constructed, these small boxes can be used to hold presents, gifts or simply to store away items. Throughout the construction process, you are recycling or conserving otherwise wasted paper materials. And others, more often than not, appreciate receiving a gift inside a personally constructed box. Any type or size of rectangular card will do ... as square cards will not allow users to generate long end tabs so necessary to hold the box together.

Although such boxes can be made whenever, green- and red-colored construction paper tends to be more festive for the December / Santa Clause season. Light-colored construction paper is also an excellent background source as users can sketch their personal seasonal designs wherever and whenever.


Gather together the following concrete materials and place them on any large flat surface.

1. 1 sharp pencil
2. 1 eraser (optional)
3. 1 pair of scissors
4. 1 glue stick or a stapler (both items optional)
5. 1 ruler, longer than the diagonal of any greeting card used
6. 1 rectangular piece of discarded or scrap paper (optional)
7. ½ new or used/recycled greeting card (optional)
8. 1 complete recycled/used or new greeting card

Step 1: Make a practice box from a sheet of discarded paper

Before (possibly) cutting up and wasting a new or recycled greeting card, complete the following eight (8) steps using any sheet of rectangular paper. This is simply a practice step ... and often necessary for those with eye-hand coordination limitations. One can easily destroy a good greeting card by incorrectly bending, marking, folding and / or cutting. As soon as you have made your practice box and have learned from any errors, go to Step 2.

Step 2: Cutting a card in half

One (1) greeting card is required to make one (1) box. A larger card will make a larger box and (obviously) a smaller card will make a smaller box. As shown in the outsider card image to your right, open the greeting card and cut it in half (½) and along the centre fold. The bottom half of the card will eventually become the top of the box while the top half of the card will be made into the bottom of the box.

You can also be imaginative and construct several boxes in different sizes to create boxes with in a box.

Step 3: Drawing the 2 diagonals and identifying the point of intersection

Always commence construction by making the bottom half of the box first. In this way, any first-time errors will be easily hidden by placing the top of the box down and over the bottom section. To do this well, place the right half of the inside of the card, message-side up on any flat surface. Use a ruler and pencil to draw 2 diagonal straight line segments (see diagonal 1 and diagonal 2 in the ½ card image to your right) running from one corner of the rectangular card to the opposite corner. Try to draw these diagonal lines lightly, in case you wish to erase them later.

People sometime error here as their ruler is either too short to join one corner of the half card to the other or they can not hold the ruler properly in one hand while using a pencil in the other hand to draw diagonal lines.

As shown immediately above, you should be left with a large X through the card's message.

Step 4: Bending the 4 sides of the half card into the middle point 'E'

Fold side A-B (of the above half card) up and over to meet center point 'E'. You can use the ruler or a side of the scissors to crease that fold firmly. Turn the card around and do the same with the 3 remaining sides (side B-C, side C-D and side A-D) by folding them into the centre 'E'. Crease all of the folds well.

Step 5: Forming tabs by cutting the ends of the half card

Using scissors, cut 4 slits ('Slit # 1', 'Slit # 2', 'Slit # 3' and 'Slit # 4') as shown in the pattern below and to your right. From my experiences, this cutting step can become a difficult eye-hand coordination task for certain learners. During the Christmas Season, here is a short and simple saying that I have successfully added to the construction process to facilitate this cutting task. Take the half (½) card and stand it freely on any flat surface, with the two (2) longer sides (B-C and A-D) of the rectangle A-B-C-D facing up. Pretend that this vertical rectangle is a house chimney.

Using scissors, cut down from the top while saying aloud the following comment: "Here comes Santa Clause down the chimney." By emphasizing the downward cutting action of the scissors, students tend to make the 4 short cuts vertically instead of horizontally.

The half (½) card now contains six (6) tabs: four (4) smaller tabs and two (2) larger tabs. We'll refer to the smaller tabs as 'holiday1' and the larger tabs 'holiday2'.

Step 6: Folding the 3 tabs to make one end of the box

You should now be able to observe that the holiday2 has a higher rectangular flap that stands out and over the two (2) lower holiday1. Call this higher, or top tab, a holiday3. Using your thumbs and fingers, fold the higher and longer holiday3 over the two (2) holiday1, such that one end of the box is secure and firm. If the three (3) end tabs (that is, the 2 doohickeys, the 1 holiday2 and the 1 holiday3) are too short to form a secure end, use a small piece of tape or place a dab of glue on the tabs to close the end. If you wish, you can now erase the two (2) penciled X’s, such that any card message becomes clearly visible on the inside top and bottom surfaces of your newly-formed box.

Step 7: Closing in the other end of the box

Repeat Step 6 at the opposite end of the half card. You have now made the bottom half of the box.

Step 8: Making the lid of the box

To make the lid (or top) of the box, repeat all of the above steps. Be sure to place the print half of the card, picture-side down, on a flat surface. At times, children may, instead, opt here to make the other half of the box from a blank piece of paper similar in thickness to the selected half (½) card. This innovative alternative allows you to utilize your creative skills to decorate the top or bottom of the box accordingly.

Step 9: Placing the top of the box over the bottom of the box

Fit the top half of the box down and over the bottom half of the box. As both halves are equal in size, the fit should be quite snug. You have now made a tiny treasure chest that offers a greeting every time its lid is lifted! Use crayons, coloring pencils, markers, paint, etc. to sculpture innovative images and decorative designs anywhere on the box.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Don We Now Our GAY Apparel?

This year we will be attending my partner Daniel's office holiday party with our 16 month old son Daniel Jr. This will be Daniel Jr's first holiday party with Papa Daniel's office. Naturally, Papa Daniel is very excited. So excited, he suggested the 3 of us wear matching holiday sweaters. The first thing that comes to my mind is......GAY!!!!!!. But, I suppose I need to think outside the box. Happy holidays.