Friday, September 25, 2015

Mark Your Calendars | Cincinnati Art & Antique Festival | Suzanne Kasler & Kreis Beall

This year marks the 50th Anniversary for the Cincinnati Arts & Antique Festival.  I've been attending this event since I was in high school and it was probably one of the first places I fell in love with antiques, though it wasn't until I graduated from college that I began acquiring things for myself and really learning the joy of the hunt!

Each year's festival kicks off with a lecture + luncheon open to all with a ticket purchase.  You can buy tickets in advance by visiting  or by calling 513-561-0950.  The luncheon is on October 23rd at 11:00 at Cincinnati's Music Hall and is expected to sell out.  (ticket for lunch and lecture also covers admittance to the antique show)   I'm incredibly excited for this year's speakers, Suzanne Kasler and Kreis Beall.  I turn so often to their work for inspiration and can't wait to see them in person.  They make great design look effortless.

Design rockstar, Suzanne Kasler, likely needs no introduction, certainly not to all of you that read this blog.  Her classic and timeless interiors are probably all over your pinterest boards just like they are mine.  There are very few designers whose work I can go to time and time again, trying to pinpoint the magic, but Suzanne is one of them.  She says, "rooms should be collected, not decorated" and I couldn't agree more.  Making it so fitting that she should speak at an antique show, since
incorporating items with history, patina, and age are the perfect way to achieve the feeling that a room or home has evolved over time.  Rooms need balance, everything shouldn't be brand new and accessorizing shouldn't be a one stop trip to Home Goods, no matter how convenient it is. :)  There is still a misconception that antiques and art are reserved for those with big budgets, but that just isn't true.  What they do require though, is a willingness to look for the right pieces and that takes time and patience.  I know those are things we are all in short supply of these days, but it is so worth it when you end up with rooms that stand the test of time and are filled with meaning and soul. One of my favorite projects of Suzanne's is the work she did at Blackberry Farm (pictured at the top of this post), which is where Kreis Beall comes in the picture.

Kreis and her husband bought Blackberry Farm as their family home back in the 70s and have since turned it into one of the most beautiful, luxury country inns in the US.  Kreis now works as Director of Design, managing a team of designers, at the farm.  Their work has been widely published in shelter magazines and featured on TV.  Kreis worked with Suzanne to design her own family home on the property and they will share their experience at the lecture on October 23rd.  I can't wait to soak up their wisdom and insights.  It is worth a road trip if you are even half the fan I am of their work.  If you do come, please make sure you say hi and introduce yourself - I'd love to meet you!   Here are some of my favorites from both Suzanne's portfolio and Blackberry Farm Inn.  Enjoy!

^^ Suzanne often uses pewter as art, like in this wonderful kitchen.  Antique pewter is a great collectible item since it is easy to display in groups and pretty to use. It's always on my short list of items I look for at antique shows. ^^

^^ A room Kasler designed at Blackberry Farm.  So warm, cozy and timeless.  All those layers of warm neutrals with the mix of woods and stone is just so welcoming! ^^

^^ Above two images are from the Blackberry Design Team led by Beall^^

^^Kasler dining room^^

^^ The monogrammed bolster - so gorgeous. From Kasler^^

^^Kasler entry.  Striped rug and shiplap walls make it approachable and cozy. even in a grand home.^^

^^From Blackberry Farm Design Team, rustic and fresh at the same time.^^

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Recipe | Spinach + Ham Lasagna Roll-Ups

I came across this recipe much the way I come across most of my new recipes, I'm hit with a sudden craving and have to have it.  I'm not a big lasagna fan so I don't know why the sudden need to eat lasagna roll ups, but they just sounded so good.  A friend (Hi Kendra!) made them for us after I had Charlie (almost 7 years ago!!) and I hadn't eaten them since, but they seem like a lighter version of traditional lasagna and I think that's why they work for me.  This recipe is a little fussy in the sense it leaves you with a sink full of dirty dishes but the good news is that it makes a ton and is perfect for left overs or the freezer.  I'm willing to do a little extra effort for weeknight cooking if I know it gets me through two days worth.  I've made a couple adjustments to the original recipe to suit our taste.  I made this recipe early in the day while the boys were in school and covered it with foil until an hour before dinner.  Is there a better feeling than knowing dinner is completely taken care of by the time you pick up your kids and you can just relax and talk about their days and help with homework?  I think not!  Enjoy this one, it's a keeper!! (you can easily omit the ham and make it vegetarian)

Recipe | Spinach and Ham Lasagna Roll Ups
(adapted from Food Network)

2 TBS butter
4 tsp flour
1 1/4 cup 2% milk
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 (15 oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup thawed, frozen chopped spinach
1 cup + 2 TBS grated Parmesan
3 oz deli smoked ham, chopped
1 large egg
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 TBS olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 jar (2 cups) marinara sauce (I like Trader Joes)
1 cup shredded mozzarella


To make the sauce: Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat.  Add the flour and whisk until it is cooked (smells nutty), about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk, keep whisking until smooth and fully combined.  Continue to whisk as it comes to a simmer.  Keep whisking until sauce is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.  Whisk in salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 450.

With a wooden spoon combine the ricotta, spinach, ham, 1 cup of Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add 2 TBS of olive oil to a large pot of boiling water.  Boil noodles for 7 minutes until just tender but still firm.  Drain.  Arrange noodles in a single layer on parchment sheets to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass baking dish.  Pour b├ęchamel sauce over the booting of the prepared dish. Spoon 3 TBS of filling on each noodle, leaving an inch or so at each end without the filling, then roll them up like a jelly roll.  Lay the noodles seam side down in the baking dish.  Cover the noodles with marinara sauce, mozzarella and last 2 TBS of Parmesan cheese.  Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate until time to cook if you are making it in advance, or place it in the over for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread (and a salad if you're feeling ambitious! ;))

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Let the Teen Years Begin | Andrew turns 13!

I am officially the mom of a teen!  Get out! It's crazy, isn't it?!  On August 9th, Andrew turned 13! It is insane that in 3 years he will have a driver's license and in 5 more he will be an adult.  I know time has moved fast, but the next 6 years are going to fly.  Junior High is barely a blip and then it's over, high school is so focused on the lead up to college, basically his childhood is a distant memory and it happened in no time. On one side I'm begging time to slow down while on the other, I'm so incredibly excited for what lies ahead and just love watching the young man Andrew is turning into.

Andrew has qualities that I wish more adults had, qualities I pray aren't shaken in the midst of the Junior High and High School years, when there is such pressure to be like everyone else.  He knows who he is and he's proud to have passions that are unique.  He is a very bright, polite, and sensitive soul that has a penchant for turning on the "tortured and troubled creative" maybe a little too well at times. ;)  He is a perfectionist with high standards (classic first born trait maybe?) which comes with its own challenges.  I sometimes think Type A creative people are hit the hardest.  (I speak from experience, I'm afraid), because you get pulled from both ends, you dream big and get lost in your ideas and then feel the pressure to make it happen.  Yet, it's a trait I admire because it's the one that will ensure he can expect great things from himself in the future.  In his young life he has racked up more awards and accolades that I had in high school and college combined, which is impressive, but it's his happiness in life and his kindness towards others that is far more important to me, because without it, nothing else really matters.  There is a balance in life, even at 13, that many of us still struggle to find - the ability to be passionate and work hard but always put love (for yourself and others) first.

I don't write too many personal posts about Andrew anymore, out of respect for his privacy, but this milestone called for a little hoopla and some well deserved praise.  He's just such a good kid (I mean teen.. :)).  Jimmy and I often say we would choose to spend time with him even if he wasn't our son because he is great company - and I think that is a pretty cool stage to be in as parents!

^^ He was so honored to be featured on the district webpage recently^^

....Also, as part of his birthday presents (really more for me than him, since he was fine with things the way they were) I'm updating his bedroom.  I hadn't touched it since he was four and it was high time to bring in some order and masculine elements.  Out with any remaining white furniture, the red corduroy curtains, and the horrible Mad Men era overhead light and in with some timeless antiques, bamboo shades, classic lighting and new art. A big change was adding a full wall of open shelving to display Lego.  I 'm a big believer in letting children's rooms (no matter what their age) reflect the interests of the child.  Where I would rather hang a nautical painting, Andrew prefers a Star Wars movie poster - done. I've made an effort to fill the space with items and art that mean something to him and he's had a heavy hand in all the decisions.  He loves the Cape Cod map and antique rug! (He has good taste!)  I'll share all sources, paint colors, etc. when I blog about the room.  Till then, here is an inspiration board I made for him so he understood the overall feeling and direction the room was heading.  He's an awesome client! :)