Amy Swift Crosby

Recent Posts

Celebrating Spring Equinox

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Mar 17, 2017 5:37:31 PM
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It’s starting to feel like spring! And as of March 20th, it's officially the beginning of this brighter new season. Finally, earlier sunrises, longer days, and if you look closely, the hopeful emergence of tiny buds signaling warmer days to come. The March equinox hails the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks a seminal moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north. We love it because it means it’s time to open the curtains, clear out the closets, shake out the rugs and reimagine a lighter, brighter décor story. Here’s what to do:

1. Embrace the Change
We love summer, fall and winter for the same reason we love spring – it’s an opportunity to enjoy all the pleasures that each season brings. Transitioning from winter to spring means not totally letting go of the soft, textured comforts that cold weather demands – but it could mean switching out pillow covers, rearranging tablescapes, putting a new vase collection on the table or introducing a new scent to the house. The idea is to mark the season. The earth is making a slow yet dramatic transition. Make the extra effort and design your surroundings to reflect (and celebrate!) that shift.

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2. Reimagine a Focal Point

We love this modern Danish credenza going from piled high with books and stacks of paperwork, to an organized décor pantheon of candlesticks and mercury glass. Taking an isolated, functional space and transforming it into something beautiful, is one of the easiest ways to “redecorate” without tackling the whole house – which as we all know, just isn’t realistic. Mercury glass decor reigns supreme in reflection and adding any light to it (or around it) illuminates a space in spades.

3. Candlelight in Daylight

While winter has us lighting tea lights, lanterns, and candlesticks starting around 4 pm, March and April encourage the lighting of candles in the morning or at lunchtime, and further illuminate the changing daylight coming through the windows. Whether in an office, kitchen or dining room, candlelight during daytime brings a warm element without signaling the end of the day. We need little orbs of glowing positivity, and our mercury glass candle holders are one of the easiest, most elegant ways to achieve this.

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4. Take a Walk
Sounds so simple, but many of us have been on a winter schedule that has us indoors for most of the day. Instead of sitting at your desk for lunch or hopping straight into the car after work, take a stroll - especially if you live near wilderness, farmland, a beach or river. Wrap up in something lovely and step out! You won’t regret the peace of mind it brings, and the good ideas that usually come with a stroll.

 

So let’s get going. It’s time to let the light in, to embrace the longer days, to find the spring in your step (and your decor)! Start at home with simple, intentional visual cues that say, “change is in the air!” Because it truly is.

 


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Topics: Interior Design

The Art of Cozy: Channeling the Danish Concept of Hygge

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Feb 26, 2017 6:05:09 PM

No one knows better than the Danes how to burrow in on a cold night and revel in simple pleasures – hot cocoa, friends gathered around a fire, something sweet to eat. In most places around the world, we call this any night in winter, but the Danish have elevated it to a concept called hygge (pronounced hue-gah) – an obsession with the uncomplicated basics, and the art of making cozy. We have become avid followers of this Nordic practice, with aims to perfect its every nuance! The seasons are no stranger to flower farmer and mandala maker Melissa Glorieux, who let us into her four-hundred-year-old farmhouse for some fireside hygge and chatting. It’s cold here in the northeast and less warm (than usual) everywhere else in the U.S. – so it felt fitting to unpack a delightfully American approach to this charming Scandinavian pastime.

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1. Set the stage
“Our house is suited for winter with its dark ceiling beams and weathered, wide-planked flooring from the 1600’s, so hygge suits us, especially living on a farm and paying attention to the seasonality we experience in New England. I love the layering effect of hygge, and not just on people. You almost can’t have enough pillows and warm, natural accents in every room – whether you live in a modern house or an old one like ours. Cozy isn’t just about the weather; it’s a feeling. Hygge is familiar; it’s friendly – the idea that no matter what is happening out there, you’re safe and happy with family and friends in here, together. So the décor has to express that welcoming sensibility.”

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2. Natural Elements
“A fireplace or woodstove is the star of the show with hygge – but whether you have one or not, flickering candles and reflective mercury glass will also do the trick. The element of fire and warmth and glow is the goal – and achievable HYGGE with tea light's dancing flames in beautiful candle holders. Danes burn more candles per head than all of Europe! So don’t feel guilty. It would take a lot to catch up with them.”

3. Relish simple pleasures

“Mindfulness is a big part of hygge – being present to how magical the simple things can be. Hygge reminds us to be mindful in appreciating the basics in life. Much like making mandalas. In many ways, they are symbiotic concepts. Staying warm, gathering in community, having something delicious to sip, the appreciation of whatever weather happens to be brewing outside – just loving it all. Even a storm is cause for celebration, because what is more hygge than cuddling up indoors while the wind whips through the trees and rattles windows? Gratitude and simplicity are essential for honest hygge. Fancy can visit another day, but this one is down to earth goodness.”

4. Earn your cozy
“An important aspect to relaxing inside is working for it! Nordic cultures love to say that ‘there is no bad weather, just improper clothing!’ and living in the northeast, I couldn’t agree more. Go for a walk, take the kids for a sled, spend a day on the slopes – hygge is so much better when you have the contrast of outdoors – and get to come inside. You’ll appreciate that mug of tea so much more after a brisk expedition!”

 

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5. The more the...Hyggier!
“Being alone with a book, a warm blanket and a fire is pretty dreamy, and while hygge is possible when solo, the idea thrives in sharing the energies of community and friendship. One of the aspects I love about hygge is this bonding in appreciation for overlooked magic and joy in life. It truly is the more, the merrier when it comes to these nest-a-thons – especially when the group trades off bringing a card game, a potluck meal, a special hot drink or a record to play. Just invite friends – don’t’ make it fussy – reach out to the old ones, the new ones – the ones you haven’t seen in many busy months. No one can refuse an evening of storytelling by a stoked fire, Linzer torte in hand."


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New Years Eve: Chic and Simple!

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Dec 21, 2016 5:59:04 PM

One of the most daunting holidays to host is New Year’s Eve, for the pressure and expectation around celebrating the close of one year and beginning of the next. Between worrying about how much fun you’re having and who you’re going to kiss at midnight, décor is almost the easy part! Luna Bazaar contributor Amy Swift Crosby took on such a task for an early New Year’s fête, knowing that many local friends would be traveling to exotic locales for the day itself. Here’s what she had to say about all things Auld Lang Syne.

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New Year's Eve: The Event! 
“I have always found New Year’s Eve to be a bit anticlimactic. Everyone has their own version of the ideal night – usually from movies! This makes hosting what should be a confetti-happy evening feel like the weight of the world. Knowing that many of us would be far away from each other on the 31st, I chose to collaborate on an early NYE party with my friend (and fellow Luna contributor) Jen Romans Dackert. We intentionally kept it small, inviting three couples to have an intimate gathering over candlelight, wine, and beautiful food so we could talk about the year gone by. I suggested everyone share a highlight of the past year and a hope for the New Year, which made conversation personal yet cozy. It was a big 2016, for so many reasons – some low-key reflection was in order. So I started there – a short guest list of people I love – with the mandate that they come in coat, tie, heel, and dress!”

The Décor: 
“It’s fun to have friends dress formally for a night in. But for the concept to truly work – you'll have to dress up your home as well! I chose dozens of mercury glass votives with turquoise blue candle holders and set them out along the mantel and in clusters around the house. Low light does wonders for a romantic, celebratory mood. It’s foolproof. I dimmed every light in the house and relied on the glow of candlelit mercury glass and punched tin candle lanterns to illuminate everything. Paper lanterns worked well in the foyer because we had the ceiling height to accommodate them. I love metallic party tassels for their shine and shimmer – so I used those to turn up the fun-factor. I invited everyone to choose a record to play in the first hour after all the guest arrived. People love vinyl – it allows them to reminisce in an unexpected way. The record player turned out to be a pinnacle of the party décor – a place of focus for people to gather around.”

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The Dinner: 
“Champagne is a given on New Year’s Eve, and most people feature champagne flutes in their spread. But to spice it up a little, we used vintage inspired glassware with a champagne concoction during dinner, and then for our official toast, moved to the traditional flute. Guests yearn for transitions in the night to feel that a narrative is taking place. I intentionally started us off near the fireplace in the front room, and then moved to the dining room for the meal. It’s fun to feel led through the evening – as though someone has thought of everything. We did dessert in yet another room, festooned with an incredible hand embroidered table runner, and remained there – dancing and listening to pop music until it was almost midnight.”

Amy's New Year's Tips:

Decide if you want to go big or go small. Be intentional. Staying small means you get to set a table and talk – with plenty of time for dancing after dinner.

Take a tradition – like champagne – and have a little fun. I added Elderflower and a splash of peach juice to each embossed drinking glass for creative champagne cocktails.

Make a playlist that reflects what you want to do at a particular time of the party. We started with classic vinyl and then switched to an upbeat playlist for post-dinner revelry.

Create a meaningful activity – could be a white elephant gift or a suggested reflection. Guests like to rally around something to do!


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Topics: New Years Eve

Christmas in Silver & Blue

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Dec 19, 2016 5:05:41 PM

The holidays are full of gatherings, and not just on the 24th and 25th. The season beckons family and friends to gather around tables, roaring fires and clinking glasses to revel in the magic that this time of year inspires. Artist, designer and Luna Bazaar contributor Jennifer Romans hosted such a beguiling dinner – set to metallic and unexpected pops of blue. This party goes to show that going beyond green and red is not only welcome – but also refreshingly different in the décor pantheon of Christmas! Here, she shares her approach to celebrating the holidays with all of it's decorating escapades.

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The Approach: 
“December is truly one of the most social months of the year. Such a busy time means décor needs wow-factor as much as ease and efficiency. I approached this dinner party knowing that the day-of, I wouldn’t have a ton of time to set up my tablescape. To avoid rushing, I always pull all my candle holders, lanterns, runners, napkin rings, hanging paper lanterns and Christmas ornaments out of drawers and cabinets a week or so beforehand.  Pre-producing as much as possible lets you see what you have, and what you’re missing, so you have time to find or replace it. December is no time for stress. You want to have fun and enjoy yourself, not worry about a missing tea light or wrinkled runner!”

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The Preparation: 
“With little kids in the house, I have to be smart about where the décor lives while I’m organizing and setting the party stage. If not, I find that napkin holders become Barbie hats and mercury glass ends up in the bathtub. I solve this by fully decorating one key room – the main party venue – which, in this case, was my formal dining room. We only use it on special occasions, so my kids don’t even notice it when it’s decorated – and that means they don’t touch anything on the tabletop (which is the idea.) I take my time layering this room with just the right accents – selecting placeholders, assigning seats and writing out names – so that it really feels special when you walk in. Revealing the theme to guests is the best part, and you’re not a hot mess from working on it all day!”

 

The Theme:
“The holidays always put green and red at the center of the color story, but for me, they are a bit expected. Since blue is a consistent accent in my house and also the color of the dining room, I leaned on silver and blue as my core colors – to create reflection and glow.  I painted my ceiling blue so that people would feel immersed in the color. Mercury glass candlesticks and adorable place card holders made the tablescape extra festive. I hung shimmering ornaments and paper snowflake decorations throughout the house just a few hours before guests arrived to add touches of holiday flare, then created clusters of votives to illuminate dark entryways and bathrooms. This inviting glow is low-maintenance, yet really high impact – plus everyone looks good in candlelight!”

The Food and Drink:
“With my weekend packed I opted to have the main course, one side dish, and a fancy dessert catered by a local chef. I was then able to simply add a salad and appetizer to round out the missing pieces. I settled on plain porcelain china for the party since the décor was already so colorfully festive. For drinks, I served assorted wines with a small DIY bar set up in the kitchen. A pro-tip for hosting is to make it so folks can self-serve to some degree. Drinks, cocktail napkins and a light nibble should be easy for guests to find, reach and assemble on their own.”

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Jen’s Tips: What host’s really want!

The traditional gift for your host is wine (which is lovely), but if you want to get creative, here are a few ideas to give your host something unexpected – or something they might use all year long.

1. Hill Tribe Handmade Table Runners – simply tie raffia or festive ribbon around the rolled-up runner – you won’t even have to wrap this hand-woven treasure!

2. You can bake or roast nuts or make chocolate bark (see my recipe below). Put in a mason jar for gifting – this presents beautifully.

3. Doilies – The small ones make for pretty little coasters you can wash! Wrap in tissue and pop them into a lovely gift bag. Easy peasy!

4. Napkin Rings – I love gifting these (especially the teal ones) with a simple ribbon wrapped through the holes and tied into a bow.

Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Bark:

INGREDIENTS

3 bags Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips

2c salted cocktail peanuts

2c salted roasted almonds

2c+ mini pretzel twists (GF if preferred)  

 

DIRECTIONS

- Line baking sheet with wax paper (or parchment paper)
- evenly distribute peanuts, almonds and pretzels to fill baking sheet
- slowly heat and melt chocolate chips in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until fully melted (you can fit glass bowl over boiling pot of water if you dont have a proper double boiler)
- pour chocolate over nut/pretzel mixture
- using a spatula, carefully spread chocolate to cover mixture and spread to the edges
- chill to set (approx 30m)
- once set, remove hard chocolate from baking sheet and peel off wax paper from backside. Using a shasrp knife and cutting board, cut chocolate into slightly larger than bite sized pieces.
- store in airtight container in refrigerator 

 

 

 

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Topics: Interior Design, Christmas, silver, blue

Fall Fête! A Rose Gold Color Story

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Dec 9, 2016 7:36:37 PM

With 12  days remaining until Winter Solstice, we’re still on the dark side of the season – so we take any reason to illuminate our tables and fill every seat with friends and neighbors. The lighter side of darkness is a cozy, intimate feeling that fall and winter beg to celebrate. Luna contributor Angelina Carrera hosted quite the gathering at Grassini Family Vineyards in Santa Barbara, CA this fall – featuring décor accents perfectly paired with our latest Rose Gold Collection that translate indoors or outdoors with equal splendor. Here, she shares her approach and inspiration to creating this spectacle of organic beauty!

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Start with color: 
“Autumn has a very rich color story filled with amber and dusty pink hues that mingle with accents of gold. We wanted our party to subtly draw from that gorgeous fall palette. We started by styling our gorgeous new Hurricane Vases with overflowing greenery and burgundy toned florals. Then, drawing from the rustic vineyard setting, we chose touches of rose gold to stitch together the warmth and inclusiveness that I aspired to achieve. I was delighted that the dahlias perfectly matched our red wine – unplanned, but seasonally on point as it's own reward.” 

Then consider light:
“You always want more light than you think – so a smattering of mercury glass and vintage pink vessels filled with candlelight is what we used to achieve this glow on our table. Stay away from anything too tall for a gathering this casual. Height can work for weddings and other formal celebrations, but on a farm table or family gathering, it creates a barrier and distance between people.”

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Choose an unexpected venue: 
“We were at a vineyard, outside, under the canopy of four-hundred-year-old oak trees – so the romance factor was high! People love a surprising environment, something they might not think of themselves. I could see recreating this scene on a sun porch back East, with people bundled up in sweaters and a table set with beautiful runners to reflect the mood of the season. You’re essentially building a hearth in the area of your choice. It could be a big coffee table or a mantel and fireplace – a central focus that generates a magnetic draw for your guests.”

The food and drinks:
“We had a pretty easy win on the drinks since our friends at Grassini gifted us with a signature wine called Equipo, a red blend of 80% cabernet sauvignon and 20% petit verdot. Pairing the right food with the wines took a little more thought. Apples felt natural, so homemade apple pie was a must. From there I turned to Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, butternut squash... and cheese. Cheese for days! Everything felt hearty but healthy and of the earth. It’s important to be thoughtful about the season, to reach for what’s local and reliable, and to create interesting dressings or dips from there.”

Ang’s Tips:
“Prepare, design, decorate – and then let go! No one wants a stressed-out host. Buy plenty of tea lights – you will likely replace a few throughout your evening. Invite people you know well, and include new friends to mix it up. Make water and non-alcoholic drinks easy to access on a nearby table.

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Topics: Interior Design, Outdoor Design, rose gold

The Prowess of The Parasol

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Sep 12, 2016 5:19:22 PM

The single most overlooked party favor is the one most appreciated by guests. These memorable gifts aren’t just for parties – they’re a fabulous go-to accessory for any outing or occasion. The ever-useful-always-beautiful parasol keeps us cool before sundown, making sun worship safe – and enjoyable.


From destination weddings to beachside strolls and birthday parties, revelers of any type love a no-hat-needed option for portable shade. With so many colors to choose from, it’s easy to match parasols to your personalized look or party theme.

Our parasols perform in a variety of applications, from accessorizing the bridal party to composing DIY backdrops and creative canopy décor.

Lifestyle bloggers & Luna contributors Leah Forester and Charlotte Smith of Ciburbanity illustrate the prowess of the parasol in two unique ways. Leah and her daughter share a sweet, seaside moment on the balcony, while Charlotte vibrantly decorates her rustic barn shindig with parasols and paper lanterns cleverly strung from the rafters. She then illuminates her matching tablescape with crisscrossed globe string lights.

Proof-positive that when parasols deliver, people are happier. Skin finds relief. Best of all – these effortless decorative elements are as useful as they are picturesque. Function and form, unite!

Prep for the party by purchasing here.

 

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Topics: Outdoor Design, parasols, favors

Paper Lanterns Made Easy!

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Sep 2, 2016 5:44:33 PM

Photo Credit: Chrisman Studios Event Designed by: Revelry Event Designers

The genius of the paper lantern lies in their ability to float above all else, creating a magical canopy of light, color and wonder. They are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to transform any room or event and are the staple secret weapon of many an event designer. Celebrity soiree expert Marley Majcher shares her tips and tricks here, with plenty of inspiration, no matter the occasion. Whether you’re a party planning pro, or just starting out as the host of a grand luncheon, baby shower or birthday party, this is all you need to be proficient in paper party décor!


Hanging Paper Lanterns Part 1

For a more in-depth how-to on purchasing and installing paper lanterns, check out our guide

  • Pre-plan your rigging points. Paper lanterns are light and fairly easy to hang, but it really helps if you know ahead of time where you can tether them securely.
  • Consider the height. Hanging a horizontal string of lanterns means that the one at the bottom of the curve will be hanging considerably lower than those at the top, so make sure they aren’t in the line of fire on the dance floor!
  • Go bang-for-the-buck. Lanterns are colorful, easy to work with and provide great volume on a budget, so don’t hesitate when it comes to scale. Make sure you have enough to furnish large spaces. If in doubt, order extra! You can’t go wrong on this.

Paper lanterns are so easy – they’re light, inexpensive and super efficient to transport because they pack flat. Combine that with the fact that they are readily available in so many sizes, shapes and colors and you’ll find few décor items eclipse their versatility.”

For weddings…

Photo Credit: Chrisman Studios Event Designed by: Revelry Event Designers

I use paper lanterns at weddings constantly because they add magical flare to a celebration that is all about romance. Beyond the ballroom, these beautiful decorations can be used to accent any venue in a variety of ways.

  • Use them as a backdrop for the official photo booth, or as scenery for guests to take photos with their own phones and cameras.
  • Hang paper lanterns behind areas of focus, such as the cake table, or use them to design a set for the reception’s entertainment.
  • Don’t forget the details! Luna Bazaar paper lanterns can be matched across product lines for creatively cohesive event designs. Draw from an abundace of colorful candidates, including table runners that double as chair sashes and sublime selections for centerpieces. For outdoor ceremonies, match lanterns to functional favors like parasols and hand fans . For receptions, focus on the table to embellish your theme, using clusters of candle holders and vases accentuated with lush florals and flickering candles. Keep in mind – fab lighting makes all the difference! Everyone wants to look great, and the right light turns everyone into a ten.

For celebrations and baby showers...

Photo Credit: Raquel Bianca of Untamed Studios

When it comes to kids and babies, you want the world of fun and make-believe to come to life – for the whole party to walk into a space that feels transformed. Paper lanterns give living rooms and event venues a celebratory whimsy that really pops. Mix and match with tissue paper pom poms and flowers , hanging paper fans , gorgeous garlands and colorful tassels for darling, pastiche-pretty results.

Use color! For baby anything, you want the mood to be cheerful and uplifting, so blending a combination of colors to create an ombre feel is one that’s great to adopt, especially if you don’t want to stick to traditional lighter shades of pink, blue or yellow, which can feel predictable. I’ll take the most saturated color and buy the next three shades down from it, ending with white, to achieve an ombre look across a ceiling or in a corner, chandelier-style.

“Similar to weddings, a magical feeling is easily created with lanterns by repeating variations of the same color, and mixing up the sizes and shapes while sticking to an overall theme.”

Think creatively by including lanterns in areas prone to photos like the backdrop of the brunch buffet, dessert station or where mom will be opening her gifts. You can even use them to adorn large gifts that are difficult to wrap, such as a crib, in place of wrapping paper.

“Combinations like navy, indigo and even corals and papaya are really trending. I’ve also used tons of metallics lately. We’ve transcended some of the more traditional colors for these unusual pairings because people haven’t seen them as much. They really stand out. But even if you stick with traditional colors, paper lanterns always tend to deliver a chic feeling. So be bold with trends or harness more traditions – you really can’t go too wrong.”

For home decor...

Photo Credit: Ziv Sade

The funny thing about paper lanterns is that most people only think “event” or “wedding” when it comes to using them, but I have clients all over Los Angeles who use them as part of their home décor palette because they’re so versatile and easy. A space feels very different according to the light fixture – so rather than a chandelier or an expensive piece – I’ve substituted paper lanterns and the room still feels thoughtful and chic.

For extra vavoom, match glass decorative accents to your palette. As pictured here – in her Venice home, design doyenne Leah Forester lined her mantle with Gold Mercury Glass Vases and Turquoise Blue Vintage Inspired Bottles to accentuate thoughtfully placed paper lanterns in white and gilt.

These are my Do’s and Don’ts for Décor:

Don’t: You don’t want your house to look like a party – yet paper lanterns are a great, affordable resource for lighting. Unlike a one-off event, in your home, you’re LIVING with your design for a while. Take a more minimal approach. Small clusters versus big, and subdued color versus saturated.

Don’t: Refrain from hanging paper lanterns in wet and humid areas like bathrooms or outdoor spaces, even if they are protected, since moisture and sun will dim their charm over time.

Do: As with all decorating tips, consider the overall style and color story of the house or room to keep focus on the goals. Lanterns can effectively warm up a loft-like space by “dropping” the ceiling, which serves a different purpose than using them to light up a dark reading nook.

Do: Experiment! Now that we have so many color options, it’s easy to incorporate lanterns no matter what the interior color story of the home. For example, babies love movement, contrasting and strong colors, but you still have to be careful of the scale. Unless the nursery is the size of a ballroom, better to stick with smaller options hung safely away from little paws.

Luna loves you! Please share your paper lantern design ideas in the comment section below. Want more? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more great looks!

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New England Summer Style

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Aug 28, 2016 1:28:48 PM

Summer in New England is a three month celebration, and we’re reveling in August’s grand finale. Everyone is in such a good mood, still grateful that boots and shovels are months away and looking for any excuse to be outside until the last possible minute. There’s a certain signature style the Northeast does differently than other parts of the world.

And while I love all the historic influences, in my own home I blend a more eclectic sensibility with an old school style to create a less conventional, fresher New England look. We regularly have friends over for drinks around sunset, which is an ideal time to let the art of entertaining shine. The key to bringing New England to anyone’s backyard or porch can be found in a few key elements, all of which are easier than you think.

Don’t get fussy about it, you don’t have to install wainscotting or a six foot hedge! New England summer is about harmonizing a mood of relaxation and adventure. These tips will get you on your way, East Coast style.

1. Start with color. Red, white and blue isn’t exclusive to the American flag or the Fourth of July. Using navy against red and white is sophisticated and adds formality, with just the right dose of patriotism. I love this palette with weathered wood furniture or driftwood accents. My upholstered outdoor furniture combines traditional wicker with a contemporary geometric pattern. You can achieve a similar look with tapestries wrapped around couch or chair cushions, as long as the color story stays within the theme. Nothing nails this look better than pops of crisp white throw pillows against red and navy.


2. Light. The hurricane lanterns and smattering of low lights does favors for anything outside at dusk.It’s particularly appropriate to use jars with a hodge-podge of glassware to soften preppy New England with organic accents. I like varying sizes because I find elegance in the chaos, like pairing mason jars and nautical bottles, best expressed with glimmers of low, romantic light. You don’t want it to be too perfect. A mix of glass options keeps the composition interesting.

3. Drinks! We love a Dark and Stormy here in Massachusetts. I like adding colorful straws because delightful details add a layer of thoughtfulness for guests, even in a casual setting. Plus my kids insist on straws, always, so I like to keep them handy at all times. I love these beveled glasses as they reflect light so perfectly, and add a decorative touch with their vintage pink hue.

The Dark n’ Stormy

  • Lot’s of Ice
  • 2 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal rum
  • 6 ounces Source brand ginger beer
  • 1 lime wedge
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Topics: Interior Design, Outdoor Design, New England

Easy Pop Up Parties for Kids

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Jun 24, 2016 5:31:59 PM

As much as we love celebrating the little birthdays in our lives, there are times when producing the party feels nothing less than daunting. Parents across the world all want the same thing – an inspiring, fun, personal setting that says, “we love you!” to everyone there. LB contributor Charlotte Smith of Ciburbanity practically designs parties in her sleep! Today she shares how you can pop up your party quickly, beautifully and on a budget.

“The main thing to remember – no matter what – is keep it simple. Keep it colorful. Keep it fun. There’s no need to go overboard and bring in tons of over the top décor or fancy themes. Kids enjoy being together and something as simple as a dance party might be the PERFECT activity. A few consistent touches of color and hanging accents make it feel complete.”



Let Them Help



Let your kids help create the décor. When they feel invested, they are even more excited to show their friends and enjoy the day.

Use Flowers

Paper flowers really add pizzazz. You can make them part of the favors for your goodie bags or reuse them for other parties. Click here for an easy paper flower assembly how-to!




Table décor doesn’t have to lean toward “kid” – a simple mercury glass vase or a glass bottle with flowers feels simple and lovely.



When you have a party at home, there are a lot of conveniences and cost savings, but you have to remember that because it’s “home” it has to look different and more special than your everyday dining room. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to achieve!

What I used:


About Themes:



Whenever I’m planning a party, I find ONE thing that I LOVE and I try to run with that… perhaps it’s as simple as a color or… as complex as a destination (i.e. Morocco). For this party, my daughter suggested the theme: arts and crafts, so… we tried to run with that! Other easy themes for kids could be their favorite activity (soccer, tennis, swimming), their favorite hobby (Lego’s, horseback riding, video games), their favorite toy (tea party with their dolls, picnic with their teddy bears, beauty salon with their Barbie’s) or something more general like a carnival or circus theme. I try to translate the theme through the activity rather than through logos or printed party décor. If you choose to adapt the theme through images, make it one thing (the plates, a piñata) that tells the theme story, rather than every napkin, cupcake or game.



What to eat? Easy, Less-Mess Food.



Especially with smaller kids, anything that’s easy to serve and easy to eat is key… i.e. no silverware required! Pizza is pretty common, but why not put a spin on this and have the kids help you decorate their own pies? Easy chicken skewers can go right into the oven (chicken cutlets on bamboo skewers) and are ready in 15 minutes. Wraps are always a great option… grab some flour tortillas and fill them with anything from hummus to cream cheese & jelly to chicken salad. I always try to have something healthy so a fruit salad is a great option. If you want to add more flare, use fun cookie cutters to cut out your fruit or experiment with more tropical textural varieties. Popcorn is another great healthy alternative (with lots of fun serving options!). Obviously this shouldn’t be served for younger kids, but older children can enjoy all varieties.



Activities: What to do?



For any party, the process is the fun… not necessarily the product in my opinion. Pinterest is a GREAT resource, provided you can be realistic about the materials and the likely outcome. Consider the location, the weather, and the timing when planning activities. We chose two simple art projects that required LITTLE setup and LITTLE clean up. The younger the child, the shorter their attention span, so have extra activities ready for the ones who finish their project after four minutes. Kids LOVE a party favor so making something they can take home is a great solution to an expensive goody bag filled with junk. I try to avoid any games that involve too much competition… typically you’re dealing with lots of children and you just don’t know how each kid will react, so consider activities that are fun for all versus having one lone winner.



Party Favors



All of us are tired of trinkets, so go for something cute, quality and useful. In our house, party favors are HUGE. They love them. They talk about them. They want them. Problem is… a few cheap gifts in a goody bag multiplied by 10-20 kids can add up FAST! And as a parent, I can’t stand getting all these tiny plastic things that break on contact and cause my kids to fall apart. I try to find one item that is more “toy” and less “favor” and just get that for everyone. One year, it was a tiny beanie boo. One year it was a paint-your-own coffee mug kit. Some of the favorite favors we’ve brought home have been water bottles, Sippy cups… useful things, not just plastic. For Eleanor’s party, everyone took home the jewelry they made as well as a small set of bangles and a light-up ring. Nothing fancy, but it was in line with the theme and the kids could wear what they made. I think each goody bag cost $4.



If you’re stressing out over the party details and logistics, you’re not going to enjoy the wonder of your child celebrating with friends and family on her special day. Prep as best as you can, then dive in and have fun. A stressed out mom isn’t a good party guest!

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Summer Solstice: Arrived

Posted by Amy Swift Crosby on Jun 17, 2016 5:51:54 PM
Photo Credit: Lulu Lovering

Finally, it’s here. Summer Solstice signals the kick-off to the most celebrated time of the year. The weeks between June 20th and Labor Day mean beach picnics, garden parties, convertibles, ice cream cones and lakeside retreats.

We eat, play and meet outside whenever possible, and look for excuses to extend the evening's warm dusk for as long as we can. We get out of our layers – physically and spiritually – and connect with the people we love. Today on the blog, we’re thinking about ways to celebrate this sun-drenched season. Here’s to marking this auspicious date – and the strawberry full moon that comes with it this year!



Gather



Gather, and do it often. For those of us in the northeast, we spend a good six months of the year inside – so summer means BBQ’s and cookouts, croquet and pool parties. We especially love bonfires. There’s something ceremonial about a burning fire, whether on a pristine, sandy beach at the edge of a deep, unending ocean or under the stars at the base of a mountain. Pack a few textile beach blankets, a thermos of something tasty, a lantern or two – and you’re set.



How to Build a Bonfire by @artofmanliness

  1. Place your tinder bundle in the middle of your campfire site.
  2. Above your tinder bundle, form a teepee with some kindling. Leave an opening in your teepee on the side the wind is blowing against. This will ensure that your fire gets the air it needs and will blow the flames onto the kindling.
  3. Continue adding kindling to the teepee, working your way up to pencil-sized twigs.
  4. Create a larger teepee structure around your kindling teepee with your fuel wood.
  5. Place a match under your tinder. Because this lay directs the flame up, the flame should rise to the kindling and then on to the fuel wood.

The teepee structure will eventually fall, and at this point you can simply add some fuel logs to the fire.


Celebrate



Celebrate everything! Lot’s of people let the Solstice go by like any other day, but this year, unlike most, we have a Full Strawberry Moon to light our path to summer. The Algonquin’s used this as a signal to gather ripening fruit – and they were wise. Summer berries are the sweetest when they’re local. Embrace the celebration – even using a few simple party decorations to make it special – giving everyone a space to acknowledge this passage into a new season.



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