September Raves

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

It’s fall ya’ll, and as much I try to protest the end of every summer, I always surprise myself with how much I really do enjoy this season. There are some wonderful smells, foods, events, and fashions that just don’t feel right any other time of year. On that note, here’s what I’m raving about this month.

Harry & David Pumpkin Macaroon Candle

Harry & David Pumpkin Macaroon Candle

Nothing is more fragrantly fall than anything pumpkin. It’s mandatory to burn pumpkin scented candles in my home each night from mid September to Thanksgiving. This year my pick is this pumpkin macaroon (yes macaroon, not macaron) scented candle from Harry & David. Even better was the price. I picked it up from Home Goods for $5.99. It has kept my home smelling perfectly pumpkin. I may have to go pick up a second one, just because.

Rare find on Facebook!

Rare find on Facebook!

Speaking of Home Goods I’d like to give a special shout out to them and Pier 1 Imports. I recently moved and both stores have been my go to for decorating my new space, without overdoing on decor and dollars. If there’s anything I’m raving about this month it’s minimalism. I’ve always been a minimalist, but moving gave me the best excuse to purge. I got rid of so much stuff that I didn’t use via Goodwill and Facebook sale groups. I’m totally raving about Facebook sale pages. Not only was I able to get money for and recycle things I no longer needed, but I also found some great furniture that I did need. I picked up a fabulous sleigh bed for my son and an amazing (possibly one of a kind) entry table with mirror set. Check out your local Facebook buy/sell/barter pages. You never know what you might earn…or find!

Eve's Tree hoodies clockwise from top: The Sophie in Evergreen, The Ashley in Sienna, The Lisa Golden

Evy’s Tree hoodies clockwise from top:
The Sophie in Evergreen, The Ashley in Sienna, The Lisa Golden

Finding things is awesome and my favorite recent find is a small company (that’s growing larger by the minute) called Evy’sTree ( I purged I made a vow to never again buy ANYTHING unless I absolutely NEEDED or LOVED it. I just can’t take having unnecessary stuff (or spending) in my life. Well, I may not need everything from Evy’s Tree (though I have convinced myself that I do), but I LOVE everything they make, and when I love something (as evidenced by the throw blanket on my couch that I bought in college) I’ll hold onto it forever, getting more than my money’s worth. I found Evy’s Tree on Instagram while I was doing work for a social media client. They make fashionably addictive and comfortable hoodies with feminine touches like ruffles and patterned lining. I purchased one and commented about it on Twitter. After that they asked me to test run two of their products. Brilliant of them, because I’ve bought two more since. They release new hoodies each month and offer them at pre-sale prices. I can’t wait for my next two to get here. I finally can feel like I’m wearing sweats all the time, but look polished and pulled together. Prices range from $79(intro) to $119 (full). Follow them on Instagram @evystreeofficialTwitter @EvysTree and find them on Facebook. Tell them I sent you, and then thank me when you are luxuriating in the highest quality, most comfortable hoodie you’ve ever owned.

Dare Maple Leaf Creme Cookies

Dare Maple Creme Cookies

Fall flavors are fantastic. Say that one ten times fast. Costco makes a pumpkin muffin to die for. It’s one of my weekend cheats, as you all know I eat clean Monday-Friday (I need to write about that again as it’s really working, people keep asking me how I’ve gotten so slim). Another fall treat in my home are Maple Creme Cookies by Dare cookie company. I dare you to try these and not get addicted. I first had these maple leaf shaped treats on a trip to Vermont many years ago. They are extremely popular there. They look beautiful in a glass cookie jar. Tasty, and fall functional.

The Skinnygirls await my housewarming party.

The Skinnygirls await my housewarming party.

For those of us that can’t let summer go, you can enjoy the perfectly peach taste of summer year round with White Peach Margarita from Skinnygirl Cocktails. My awesome friends over at SG sent me some samples of their line to taste test on a few friends (a Skinnygirl “sponsored” housewarming party is in the works). I held a small unpacking party and this flavor went very quickly. It’s got just the right amount of sweet, which I think compliments any dessert, no matter the season!

So those are my current obsessions. Let me know what you think of them and tell me, what are YOU obsessed with? If there’s something you think I need to try for my next Rave Page give it a shout out in the comments!

Regards and hugs,


Housekeeping Cheat Sheet

Stainless steel improved!

Stainless steel improved!

Before the boys came along I spent much of my free time exploring my appreciation of the domestic arts. I enjoyed cleaning, cooking, baking, interior design, so much so that my friends and family jokingly referred to me as Bree, after the anally retentive homemaker Bree Van de Kamp of Desperate Housewives, which was my favorite scripted television show. After children, however, I feel less like Bree and more like Lynette Scavo…overworked, overstressed, and over it when it comes to trying to keep the perfect home.

Old habits, however, die hard and this creature of habit cannot thrive in chaos. Disarray and clutter are conditions that I cannot function in and as I pass on my borderline OCD to my offspring…twin A demands napkins at dinner so he can systematically wipe his table space…I’ve devised some shortcuts to help keep this place clean even at my busiest…and most exhausted.

The Sheet Cheat : In a perfect world I would change my sheets every weekend. I used to do this, but being that now the second I get to touch the bed I’m pretty much passing out in it, that no longer flies. There are things that you can do to keep your sheets looking cleaner longer, for example don’t eat in bed, but even the cleanest looking sheets have a certain ick factor. Sorry folks you have to change them, but you can cut down the weekly sheet duty to bi weekly with this simple trick. By using your top sheet tucked in over your fitted sheet you get a double layer. Spend a week on the top sheet and next week take it off. Voila! Clean sheet underneath. That laundry and fitted sheet wrestling can wait to mid month!

Kick The Bucket : Have you seen the Swiffer commercial where the old women in the family scoff at the younger woman’s tendency to clean the floor with a housecleaning wipe and her foot? This next tip is the middle of the road. I NEVER use a bucket to clean my floors. It’s heavy, it splashes, and after a few dips you are washing your floors with dirty cleaner…ewww! Toss the bucket and grab the spray bottle. Use a product like Swiffer Wet and Windex to shine your tile. For wooden floors I like Parker and Bailey wood floor cleaner. For you organic folks you can make cleaner out of vinegar and water…but your house will smell like salad. The main idea however isn’t the product it’s spray and mop, and it’s a lot less work than the bucket. Want the shine to last longer? Make your family wear socks or slippers when they walk around indoors.

Create a Stainless Steel : I dreamed of stainless steel appliances…before I had them. Nobody told me how hard they are to keep clean, especially towards the bottom where they are prone to toddler hand and canine nasal prints. Before the kids I would use this highly toxic miracle spray a friend would give me from his maintenance job where he cleaned elevator doors. The fumes were frightening though, and I feared what affect they would have on little lungs. Then one day while watching HGTV I saw a tip about olive oil to polish stainless steel. It works! Clean your SS appliances with a household cleaning wipe and then polish with a small amount of olive oil on a paper towel. The rest of the week they are practically print resistant and any smudges that break the barrier wipe off in a cinch!

Shower With Your Shower : Cleaning the shower can be a pain, literally, why not just scrub the walls while you are already in there and the water is running? Just take precaution not to poison yourself. Pre treat the walls beforehand and rinse. Then scrub them during your shower.

Baby Your Wood : Wood furniture requires special care. Many cleaners are too harsh and those made for wood release toxins in the air and leave a residue. Baby wipes are gentle enough to clean your wood with and they do a fantastic job, just be sure to dust first.

A Tisket, a Tasket : Baskets are amazing! One of the things that parents complain about are how toys have taken over their homes. By keeping things in baskets you can camouflage the play things as part of the decor. They also help train your kids to clean up. Set the baskets out and play the sorting game, they love it!

Take a Load Off : Weekends were supposed to be for relaxation, but when you have a family you find that weekends are for laundry. If you are lucky enough to have your own washing machine and dryer you can lessen some of the time by leaving the last load in the dryer for the week…and make sure it’s the largest load. As you pluck things from it to use it gets smaller and smaller, less to fold and put away when you start the following week’s laundry marathon. Just make sure you air dry and put away anything that can wrinkle.

I have to confess, with twins, a dog, and a husband, when somebody enters my home and says, “How do you keep this place so clean and organized” the heavens open up and I hear the angels sing. Here’s hoping you can adopt some of these into your routine and lighten your load.

Interior Trends: 2014

By Jamie Bertolini

Happy New Year, everyone! I know with all of the holiday decor coming down, it often inspires us to refresh our surroundings, especially since we all know our houses just don’t look the same after the tree comes down.

(Photo credit:

Photo credit:

The Pantone Color of 2014 is Radiant Orchid, it’s a plum color that’s actually been trending for a while now. It’s just finally come full circle. One way you can use Radiant Orchid without painting all of your walls or, heaven forbid, changing anything that can’t easily be changed back (flooring, countertops, etc.) is to use it for accents. A pillow cover, pottery, even a throw over the arm of a sofa or a chair would be a great way to incorporate this color into your home.

One of my favorite places to get trendy items is Home Goods because you can get really nice, higher end items for a fraction of retail. I purchased a throw for a friend of mine as a Christmas gift & paid just $15 for it! And, guess what color it is? You guessed “radiant orchid,” didn’t you? Good guess!

Also, think about it with the colors you already have in your home. Radiant Orchid, looks great with grays, tans & blues, especially turquoise or icy blues.

(Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Moving on to styles, we’ve seen a huge trend in classic, American styling with some transitional & regency style moments. We’re seeing a lot of clean lines mixed with carved, European accents and mixtures of metal finishes. As far as color palettes go, while designers are using more and more color, the monochromatic gray/white/cream story is still here for a little while.

Eclectic, curated spaces are still trending as well. If you have a collection of something, feel free to display it, just don’t have it all out at one time. Organize them in a built-in or display them on a shelf but to avoid an overwhelming look, keep it limited to 3-5 of the same color/style/type of item & mix them with items that won’t take away from the items that you really love.

(Photo credit:

Photo credit:

When it comes to kitchens, you can’t go wrong with crisp, white cabinets with a subway tiled backsplash. The trend is shying away from granite & more toward marble and composites like quartz. Also, mixing styles like shaker-style cabinet doors with modern, “wire” stools creates an interesting, less average looking kitchen.


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In bedrooms, my emphasis is always on the textiles. We pay hundreds and thousands of dollars for clothes that are worn for a short amount of time compared to the sheets & blankets that we wrap ourselves in while we sleep each night. My advice is to get two down comforters, one for Fall-Winter & one for Spring-Summer. The difference is in the feather content; the warmer comforters contain more down while the cooler ones contain more feathers and less down. Breathable, cotton duvet covers will protect your investment. Also, invest in 100% cotton sheets. Egyptian cotton is the best but look for higher thread counts, from a quality standpoint and nothing else. People are obsessed with thread count when really, all that means is how many threads per square inch were used in the weave of the fabric. 700+, you’re safe & will be enjoying your sheets for years to come. White is best, especially if you like to bleach. Neutral colors in the bedroom have been trending for a while now but rich, dark colors (navy, emerald, charcoal) are making their way back into bedrooms as well.

Overall, remember that you don’t have to submit to trends. If you like a trend, go for it! If you hate purple, then Radiant Orchid may not be for you. Personal preference and taste still trump trends but it’s important to keep it fresh and current so you don’t grow tired of your surroundings.

Stay tuned to for more interior design-related posts and a more in-depth look at interior styling, trends, furniture, textiles and more!


imageJamie Bertolini is an interior designer who has done work in both residential and commercial spaces. He has collaborated with other designers on many projects and events including a large wedding in 2013. Jamie hails from an artistic family. In an interesting twist his family is very involved in their church, his father being the  pastor, and they are also the owners of a tattoo shop. Jamie loves spending time with his family and friends, and of course keeping track of latest trends in design. Oh and he is also a major “Bravoholic” and was honored with the title last year! Have an interior design question? Tweet Jamie @JamieBertolini . Looking for inspiration? Check out his blog .