Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Okay, as usual this starts out as another scary, sad room that I tackled. Country blue, mauve and tan plaid wallpaper with ducks wearing mauve bows for the 1980's border. Formica chop block light brown counters on dark stained cabinets. This was actually my kitchen when we moved into a house we purchased in 1999. Not my ideal style of home, but it had good bones, perfect location and one of the only homes we looked at that the kitchen was bad enough to justify gutting it. It was a huge project and I was the general contractor.  The Befores:

I went into this project with the knowledge that what could go wrong probably would, and however long I think it will take, double it. I'll spare you the construction woes, but will tell you my husband tim had emergency gall bladder surgery and my daughter Jennifer had a miscarriage. I'm surprised I found time to take these couple photos, even if they aren't good. That's our dog Tashi in the 2nd shot.

So, here's the big reveal. My husband and I literally drew up the plans, designed the cabinetry and stuccoed and glazed the walls ourselves. I designed for the stove with the hood to be directly across from the dining room opening. At night people are able to see directly through the dining room windows and the doorway into the kitchen frames the stove and hood perfectly. I've actually had people knock on our door and I have remodeled other kitchens in the area, as a result.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


This has been a common view from our Family Room window for the last 5 months. That's not what it looks like today, which was much prettier than the melted snow. We have been plaqued with back to back colds, flus, ice storms, floods...sprinkled with a few 70 degree days in between. But the crocus are here and the daffodils are on the verge of blooming. Oh, when that glorious day arrives, I'll, I'll...spring forth from the wads of kleenex and leap for joy. I LOVE Spring!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I have to share a wonderful Wyatt Storey story. An example of why children melt our hearts.

First of all, I'd never suggest this to the faint of heart, but Jennifer and I have made a decision to have Wyatt and Amelia be with us in the day to day business operations, which we run out of my home. So, as a side note, if you call to place an order, don't be surprised if you hear a kid announcing they have to poop.

Okay, about Wyatt. He came in the other day with his pillow that he said he was taking to school for Show + Tell. I'm puzzled because this boy has no lack of toys and gadgets. I'm imagining him showing his classmates how he sleeps. So I take the bait...why a pillow? Then Wyatt confidently shares that when his cousin Kyle spent the night they had a pillow fight with dad. He was so animated and excited, giving a "blow by blow" (couldn't help the pun), giggles and glee abounding. I was amazed at the genuine simplicity and the wonderful lesson. An old fashioned pillow fight with special people beats out Nintendo DS for Show + Tell.


I was still not feeling my best and totally lost my voice for the entire weekend. That didn't stop me from having a wonderful time, as you'll see. Such an incredible weekend in Chicago at the 2008 Country Living Womens Entrepreneur Event. So many great women all in one place. Here's gorgeous Heather Bailey who was on a panel talking about the internet and the blogging world (of which Heather rules for her blog Hello my name is Heather).

Vicki Mote Bodwell owns Warm Biscuit and was a 2006 Country Living Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. Vicki, Polly and I all have the same awesome web designer, Ron Giusti, whom we all absolulely adore. We boast being members of our fan club "Ron's Peeps".

Below, I wanted to show you my Jennifer's wedding invitation from almost 10 years ago. This was one of Anna Griffin's Imprintables which put her on the invitation and stationary map. We saved money by purchasing Anna's kit and doing the work ourselves. Oh so many bows to tie!!
Why do I show a 10 year old invitation? Because Anna Griffin was a guest speaker at the event and an absolutely delightful person, so down to earth. Felt as if we'd known her forever.

On Sunday some of us met up to do shopping and lunch in Lincoln Park. Here Heather and I stopped talking 90 mph long enough to get our photo taken.

From left to right: Bari J Ackerman of Bari J, who makes handbags and accessories. Anita Hopper of ReFind Originals. She uses discarded leather to design one-of-a-kind handbags and Woof Packs. On the other side of me is Joanna Figueroa, owner of Fig Tree Quilts, filled with her own fabrics, patterns and other goodies. Heather Bailey, fabric designer and blog queen. Jennifer, my daughter, my pride and joy and my right hand gal.

So now we are all back in our various parts of the country, but fond memories and new friendships remain. An event that's well worth attending next year.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Hey, before we take off, I wanted you to know that Cool Mom Picks has a great contest going on over there. We are giving away our Now I Know My ABC's canvas art, either the boy or girl version to one lucky winner. So quit clowning around and enter to win. Check out all our children's products on mimi's collection. Have fun!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Jennifer and I are headed to Chicago for a fun weekend with hundreds of other women entrepreneurs (the event is sold out). I'm still not feeling 100%, haven't packed yet, but do have my camera charging. I'll be back with lots of photos. Have a great weekend.


Hi, I'm Wyatt, I'm 5 1/2 now, but this is a picture of me when I was 2 and my Mimi made me giggle. That's how I feel right now because yesterday 2 blogs featured my Mimi's products. Mimi couldn't appreciate it then. She was real sick. She looked pretty bad, too. My little sister, she's 3, kept telling Mimi that her hair looked funny. Mimi usually thinks anything Mia says is cute, but not so much yesterday. She's getting better, so she can tell you herself how giggly we are around here.
Hi, I'm Mimi (and Paula), and I'm sitting up again, yeah! Good thing: I lost 4 lbs! I know it'll be short lived, but it's the only positive thing I can say about the last 4 days.
Thanks so much to Creature Comforts for the wonderful write up. Ez featured a product of mine in 2006 when I didn't even know what a blog was! Okay, I had my head in the sand. I've been a huge fan of her fabulous blog ever since. Then Suzanne over at S.HOPtalk found me through her visit to CC and she posted me on her blog as well. What an exceptional site!
Thanks to both for making me giggle, and giggles can only make you feel better, right? I hope you all will stop by these 2 blogs to see why they're so FIERCE!!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I am under the weather or rather this weather has put me under. I'm propped up under a blanket and have my laptop on my, uh, lap to keep me warm. However, I'd have to be on my death bed before I didn't have the energy to click on a few of my Daily Blogs.

So, what a treat to find some of our picture frames and note cards as the Dose of Design Market Profile today. And what kind words. D.O.D.'s ability to feature some of our best selling designs proves she knows her stuff. Thanks so much (sniffle).

If we are new to you I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Okay, I think this will be the last of my Before and After Decorator Show Houses from a few years ago. It's been good to get organized, but I'm ready to move on to some other projects.

I'm showing you the AFTER image first. Even though this was the Master Bedroom it was indeed a 3rd floor converted attic. Once again...the low ceilings were a challenge. It was necessary to use one color to camouflage the numerous ceiling and wall angles. The colors in the images aren't accurate..instead think of raspberry and lime sherbet with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I suspended a chandelier over the bed and hung a small shelf on the wall with a narrow reading light. I designed the headboard and everything else was hand painted and upholstered.

below is a Before, then the After of how I handled an outdated fireplace insert and hole above it for a tv. I covered both of them up. As a designer I can do that, but afterwards, as in this case, I had to remove everything and repaint the walls back to white. Yes, that's tough when it happens, so I had fun while I could. Made a mirrored fireplace front and also covered a side table in glass, giving the room the illusion of having more space. Then I hung a painting over the tv opening. I replaced the old blue carpeting with a cream color, and no, the owners didn't require me replace the old blue. Hmmm. I would've just pulled it up, and used the floor underneath, but there was only a subfloor, so they received very nice new carpeting.

I designed this round rug (below) using the tulips and circles in the fabrics as my inspiration. It cost me more than I wanted to spend, but I did it anyway. I wish you could see a couple more angles of the room and closer details since this room was filled with nooks and cubbies.

Here's a couple closeups of the After window seat area. I was so anal I even painted the little table and in another corner had a draped silk tablecloth in the same wagon wheel pattern with scallops draping on the floor.

It was another difficult room to photograph. I only did one other Show House after this before I decided it was just too costly and time consuming. My customers were being neglected and I was getting quite serious about manufacturing my own line of accessories. I also enjoy a variety of projects and couldn't always show my full abilities in this historical restoration venue.
I am very grateful for the 7 years that I participated in the St. Margaret's Guild Decorator Show House and the benefit this project brings to Wishard Hospital. Hopefully, you have had a glimpse into a small portion of what it takes to get from the Before to After.
I'm also really looking forward to sharing recent projects and sneak peeks into The Person Behind The Blog.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Hopefully by now you trust the ugliness below will be transformed in the very next photo. This is the 4th room in a series of my Before and After extreme makeovers. Images are a bit dark.

VOILA!! Before your very eyes is another in my series of personal Before and After makeovers. This space is what I turned into a butlers pantry, assuming this tiny room had a more noble purpose other than holding cleaning supplies (that didn't get used?). The designers and St. Margaret's Hospital Guild took over the Levey Mansion and held another amazing Decorator Show House, this one took place in 2000. It takes us designers 6 months to do our magic, and I was always working up to the last minute.

The first set of B & A above is the sink area. What you can't see is the huge hole in the think plaster wall under the sink, or the tremendous amount of mold on the walls when we pulled the wallpaper down. I wondered if there was an award given for dying in the line of duty.

The ceilings were so low that some people were too tall to come in. It was said that I was given this space because my husband and I were the only ones that could stand up without hitting our heads. Not so in the closet. I had a near concussion more than once (B & A below).

I hand painted the tiles above the sink; wish I had a good image because that was a pretty big undertaking and turned out quite nice. Notice the cake?

Next images below are Before and After of the counter area across from the sink. Replaced the formica with wood on this side. I wish these colors weren't so dull. It was actually a crisp maize yellow and cobalt blue accents.

Below are Before & After of the wall cabinets. I had to do some real fancy talkin to get permission to paint the insides of the cabinets and the ceiling, but it made a huge difference in lighting such a dark area. I also added lighting inside the cabinets. Stuccoed the walls and applied a maize Tuscan finish.

For my next trick, I will go inside this tiny closet and not come forth until I've hit my head at least a dozen times real hard. Most sane designers would have locked that door and called it a day. Not I. My husband actually conversed with an authentic British Butler, who helped us know what the duties and responsibilities of a butler would have entailed in this mansion. So we decided to turn the closet into an office of sorts. We do realize just how short or hunchbacked this butler would have been, but just work with me. We got an antique typewriter, phone and an actual Butler's certificate. I actually wish I had a little nook like this, except I'd still hit my head frequently.

I won a First Place ASID Award, First Place Key Award and the Maggie Award. The darn room was too small to photograph, so it didn't make it into any magazines this time. So there you have it, and I'm that much closer to organizing my old photos.


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