Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Window Dressing!

Sneelock poses for a self portrait!

What a night! The weather was blustery and cold, it had been raining or snowing most of the day. I commendered Sneelock to go into the woods with me to cut down a vanload of bare branches to use in my next window display. He was smarter than I and donned a knit cap, I felt happy to find an old pair of duck boots to keep my feet dry (with several pair of socks to make them fit!)

Documentation of Susan wearing duck boots!

Leaving the scene!

Ahhhh! That fabulous fall color!

Susan helping to load the goods!

With rain and wind, we hit the trail to find the perfect branches and came home with quite a bounty! A warm fire and soup hit the spot.

Now, wait to see the end result. I think you'll be pleased.

Thanks, Sneelock.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

market finds!

The last day of High Point Market, when time permits, I occasionally get to browse some of my favorite showrooms for inspiration. Notes are taken and sometimes photos are recorded into a photo log that reminds me of things I liked. This trip was a whirlwind, most of our time was spent shopping for a wonderfully rewarding project of outdoor rooms of a home in Sullivan's Island, NC. Multiple outdoor living spaces and lighting was our main goal.

But, as luck would have it, the last hour prior to leaving for the airport to drop off Jackie and pick up Fred (husband Sneelock), I found some really fun new items that were keepers for the "next" project. Take a look!

A great sophisticated shabby chic accent table! Cream rub through paint with a peacock!

I love cabinets to use as a bibliotech bathroom storage or kitchen and dining room pieces. Old cabinets can fine homes in many rooms of the house and be taken from room to room or house to house with multiple uses. This one has beautiful leaded windows, hand painted shield designs and interest in the height. I wanted to take it home!

Check out this wonderful lampshade! The lamp is a balustrade shape and peek at that great chest with the hand painting beside it. Oh, the thrill of the hunt!

I came across this darling chair and was immediately drawn to it. No matter that our feet were killing us at this stage of the game, I was taken with the size of it! (It was a small scale and painted in a rustic and delightful light aqua). I went right over to it and took a seat, and just as I suspected, fell in love! It was a perfect fit and the relief from days of shopping on my feet with a short rest was sweet too! As I got up and looked at the tag and price, it read "child's chair"......thus, the perfect fit! I remorsefully left it behind.....

This was a cool bed that I came across---look at the caning and carved finials. It was dressed with soft colors and a nature themed bedding. Note the embroidered birds on a limb on the pillowcases!

Closeup of sweet bird on a limb pillowcase!
Many of you might not understand the Rooster base, but what about the polka dot lamp shade!!! Actually, the rooster motif is classic for many decor styles from cottage, the French, to English. I liked the entire concept!
So, there is a short recap of a few of my favorite new finds! Hope you enjoy them as much as they inspired me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Glitter theory proved wrong!

We began our trek to the High Point Furniture Market on Tuesday! It's a mixed bad of excitement, adventure and sheer exhaustion. Anticipating Market, I was filled with visions of showing you the most exciting find of the day, new trends, fabulously inspiring booths, and interesting people! But alas, at the end of each weary day, with aching feet and sometimes headaches, several hours of sorting and culling gathered information, grabbing a bite to eat and visiting with my darling friend Jan, who houses us with the finest accommodations and treats each year......well, you get the picture

Today, however, I did run across one thing that disproved my theory that glitter makes everything appealing (i.e. crows and spiders). Check it out and see for yourself!

So there you have it..........my glitter theory has been proved wrong.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

News Flash! Successful Event!!

Last Thursday evening we had our first of many complimentary events in the retail store. These events require registration,but have no cost to attend. During the next few months, we will be demonstrating new products, Susan's favorite finds, Susan's trend reports for party planning, centerpieces, mantles and garlands, chandelier embellishments and more! You can call the retail store for more information at 215-321-4104.

The line at the cash register for checkout! Yes, they came!
Cute Nancy looking satisfied with her finds!

The first event is an annual one that is generally anticipated by all , "Susan's First Peek". We discussed three prominent color trends and many unique purchases were pointed out. Techniques along with suggestions for using our fabulous offerings were plentiful. Although the store was jam packed (24 in attendance!), each guest was given individual attention and advice while making selections at a special discounted price for the evening.

Believe it or not, Lisa is the Mother of a teenager! She requested
a photo of the two of us, and I indulged.....even though my new haircut
makes my face look even chubbier than ever....(I never knew I
had a fan!)

These are a few photos of how the evening will be remembered. I hope you'll join us for the events to come! I've even added a few more to be announced soon! Retail is such fun.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In Love at Black-eyed Susan!

Take a look at this adorable couple--Jessica and Dustin!! In early December, they will become man and wife. (They're too dang cute!)

Last week, we got together to review and refine the centerpieces that Black-eyed Susan will furnish, design and set-up for their wedding. The centerpieces were planned one year ago (now that's what I call planning!) when they walked in to the store after purchasing the most fabulous diamond you have ever seen at T. Foster &Co. just next door. And, the darling groom has been just as involved as the bride in the excitement of the decos! I like that!

We will be creating a winter wonderland, if you will, of 24" glass cylinder vases with icy branches sitting in snow, and dripping with icyicles. Glass and glitter together is the magic formula. Their wedding will be held at The Sand Castle Winery--magical and romantic!!

As we browsed the store in a private shopping spree after hours, Jessica stopped cold when she discovered what she call, "glitter kix"!! That's a pretty good discription of these little sparkley spheres! Glitter kix. Great vision.

When the wedding takes place, I'll post more photos of the end result.

Congratulations Jessica and Dustin! Thanks for letting us be a part of the magic!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Okay, here is the photo of my new hairdo.

No, I didn't want a new hairdo.

No, I didn't want a new hair color.

No, I didn't want to pay $300.00 for a new hairdo or new hair color......that I don't like.
(Sorry, Fred)

While in the stylist's chair, I took note of what could be the outcome! I asked him, "just what color is this going to be?!" "Oh, just a little strawberry blond low lights!" he replied.

I am now a true redhead with a few blond highlights, AND I have short hair. Just look at those bangs! I'm not even sure you can call them bangs! Maybe some kind of thinnish fringy things.

Next time I have a client who says do anything, but no red living room, should I just go ahead and paint it red?

Hair woes, not many things worse.
And for the record, the sp actually makes it look a whole lot better than it is.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Is it okay for this fish to be with this mouse?"

Well, here are some final thoughts about the Holiday setup! I have too many other things to blog about, we must go on! I'm getting a backlog of ideas and photos to post about! (Does this happen to all bloggers?) Let me know your thoughts!

Here's Linda looking more than frustrated with the gaggle of ornament hooks! How does this happen? We try to separate them prior to beginning the "hooking" process, but this happens when you turn your back! It's a real puzzle, not to mention a true irritation, and it really puts a cramp on the progress! YIKES! (You'd think they were magnetic!)

A closeup of the reality of the frustration! Where is Rita when you need her?????

On Friday night, we took a break for the first real dinner we had all week. We went to a favorite hot spot in Pennington, NJ "ZA". Sneelock went along! After dinner, we returned to the store for what we planned to be an hour or so......of course, we worked into the wee hours of the morning AGAIN! Each year, we have a popular fixture tree that houses all manner of quaint , collectible and reproduction ornaments that are picked up for grandchildren, teachers, mothers, sons, you get the picture! I laughed out loud when I heard Linda speaking out loud, "Is is okay for this fish to be with this mouse?" Looks like they are getting along just fine! And, the fish are selling like hotcakes!

My attempt at a first self portrait with my darling friend, Linda (the true voice of reason) and my true supporter prior to leaving for the airport. You would think that she would be teary eyed and weary from work. I was teary eyed for being left behind to cope with the remaining retail woes-----me, the cheese standing alone.

Well, here she is, ready to go home and "be the Mother" again! She is the mother of 4. Her daughter Sohpie once said that when she come to work with me she "has the life she really wants"! I'm not sure about that, but short stints of creative craziness can sure be fun! (and, exhausting as well.) Thanks, dear friend. Goodbye.

Note the orange Black-eyed Susan carry-on bag! And you don't want to know how many other shopping bags she left behind in my garage for me to bring this week!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Taking another peek.......

Me practicing my self portrait abilities......obviously needing some practice!

After the main trees are set up (we have three main theme trees this year, quite a downsize from last year's 6), we begin designing mantles, windows and doorways, mirrors are draped with garlands and wreaths and chandeliers become little pieces or art festooned with boughs and berries. Here's a peek at some of the work in progress......

We always show several components to each color story....this is the mantle designed with the graphite and persimmon color theme! Wow!

Susan peeking through the branches of fabulous silver tinsel tree. After it was set in place in the icy room, we packed it full with icy snowflakes. It's pretty darn cute! You'll have to come in to see this one.

Check in tomorrow for several funny photos of frustration and exhaustion as the days rolled on into nights.......

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Night after night......

Well, the main set up is completed! What a week! I think one night we stopped around 8:30pm, but all others (8 to be exact!) we worked until midnight. Linda is a great support and friend, as well as the voice of reason! She holds the position of CFO and is involved in every aspect of the buying with me multiple times of year. She has strong opinions, most of which are correct and visionary. She has a quick wit and great sense of humor. That being said, there aren't too many people one would want to have on a creative team than such a hard working and loyal friend. Stay tuned, as I took some self portraits with us together and will share those with you as I continue to document the weeks progress. I hardly know where to begin!

Row after row of inventory from the "bowels of the store" (as my Mother would say), or in other words, the basement! Such choices!

Yet another shelf of choices. Each night, there are countless trips to the basement to either fill our baskets or return unused selections. Down the stairs, up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs, well....you get the picture! Why do steps seem to get steeper and longer at 11:30 pm?

Peering into a packing box filled with adorable tabletop trees and miniature bottles of mistletoe. How cute!

Linda working on the confection tree! This is one of our personal favorites. We haven't had one for several years, so those of you who love this theme from previous years, you'll be delighted with the selection this year! I retrieved this favorite flocked tree from the dumpster last year when my manager decided it had seen the last set-up! I guess I get rather attracted to my trees.....we tenderly primped and shaped the tree for yet another year. (I did admit that this might be the last). I think I may have to devote an entire post to "primping"---trees and garlands, that is!

A closeup of a glass glitter Eiffel Tower! The persimmon and graphite tree is my personal favorite this year. You must see this one

Another shot of the persimmon and graphite tree. Note-we like to double up certain ornaments in clusters. It makes the assortment more interesting. Put an ornament hook on the first one and hook it to the loop of the second one. The larger hooks work best for the best spacing.

Well, that's about it for this account! But not to worry, there's more photos and enticements to come! We have our first event this Thursday evening, our "First Peek" event. A tour of the store with how-to's and tips to help you with your own design, first pick of inventory and a discount on Holiday purchases this night as well! No entrance fee is charged, but pre registration is required. Look for treats and good fun, and I'll share the recipe later as well! Call the store for registration.(215-321-4104)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Madness begins!

Wow! I'm behind on the documentation of the 2008 Christmas setup for Black-eyed Susan. Probably, because Linda and I have been working most nights until our legs couldn't climb another step of the ladder or make one more trip to the inventory housed in the basement of the retail store.

It always amazes me that when the time come for this extremely intense week, I am always ready for the creative venture of setting up the store with the stories and themes that were planned last January. The week is even more anticipated by the arrival of my dear friend and partner in crime (also the CFO of my small company) Linda Giler, who comes in from Charlotte, N.C. for the "party". Each night as we drive the 20 minutes to my home in New Hope, we recount the days events and progress while making task lists for the next day. When the alarm goes off the next morning at 6:15am it all begins again. This goes on for about 7-8 days. At the end of this phase of the set-up, most of the work is completed and ready for the special events to begin. (You can email me at Susan@besusan.com to ask for a copy of the event list---really fun!)

There is much that goes into the preparation for the setup. Teams of staff pricing furiously, last minute deliveries being tracked, frantic orders are placed for ribbons, and the hunt begins for the close-out ornament hooks that were purchased last year for this years work. Inventory is lined up and sorted by department and/or color so the work can begin.

All in all, it's an exhausting week full of creative satisfaction punctuated with good times and laughter! Our windows say; "We're working on it.......Come see the magic!"

Boxes of recently received inventory waiting for price tags.......

One of our most realistic trees (artificial!) This tree is primarily made of injection molded plastic with some poly bristles for fullness on the very inside of the branches. The trees (3 large ones this year, and 3 small fixture trees) are set up and lighted the week before the setup. Hours of rearranging the current furniture and fixtures go in to preparing the space for the trees. Sneelock and my son, Ryan helped this year. Jeff set up the trees, primped, shaped, plugged and prep-ed them, while I readied the rest of the store for new visuals relating to the trees. It is a huge team effort to prepare for the work to come. Whew! I just have to say that these trees are fabulous! Every year, they get better, more realistic and more unbelievable! We even have a diffuser that makes the whole house smell like fresh juniper! (More to come on that later)!

Here's a closeup of one of my favorite color stories this year--chartreuse green and burgundy. These ornaments are "shatterproof". They come in all sizes and finishes--matte, shiny, pearl, the whole works! Great for outdoors as well as indoors. We love these!

Tulips, churches, tiny holly place-markers, long needled pine, tinsel trees---ready for the taking!

Row and rows of snow queens saluting, snowmen galore and santas wait to be placed.

Me peering into a box of unique glass bird ornaments in the most delicious colors.......

Inventory that has been transferred to the store for the beginning of the big set-up. Sharman has directed the crew on where to place the different color stories and themes. It's almost time!

The set-up is under way and we are open again for you to come in! It's a bit of a work in progress, but generally exciting to see the transformation. Don't worry, we still have some great fall decor, centerpieces and inspired looks that are not Christmas.

Watch for more updates and progress, my personal favorites, entertaining stories and more!

Come see the magic.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sentimental visions

We made our fourth and final call to the final winner of our consulting give-a-way today!

I must say, that all four of our client-winners were so inspiring and enjoyable! It has been very rewarding to see that our clients in general live in creative, warm environments with interest and uncommon personal touches. It should come as no surprise that those who we count as loyal fans have fabulous homes!

Meet Jeanne! Fourth contest winner, as she greeted us!

Jeanne greated us with drinks and goodies (see the photos!). As we walked around the house, the number of past purchases from Black-eyed Susan brought back many memories to me of when they were in my store, who designed them, what collections they were part of, and general nostalgic thoughts of the past. I decided to photograph a few of my favorites! So far, my darling clients have indulged me in my photo requests!

One of my personal favorites, see this glass cloche with orchids, moss, a toad and a nestling gilded bird. Cloche from Black-eyed Susan!

A vision of biscotti ! In the background, a Joanne floral creation!

Now this one goes way back! Boxwood topiary created in Susan's design studio (I'm thinking at least 8-10 years ago!) by Rita! Rita is now retired, but at that time would painstakingly cut and glue fresh boxwood into the styrofoam sphere until packed! There you go, Rita, your legacy!

Globes! Collectible for sure. Here is a favorite of mine, along with a timer, also purchased at Black-eyed Susan some time ago!

This is a point of interest we discussed updating. The draperies could be updated and also let more light into this spacious living room by eliminating the valance, pleating the panels and using decorative rods and rings. Also, note the fabulous succulent garden in this great planter!

A close up of the above, but a bit too dark! But, I love the iron plant stand, its placement and its contents. Good work, Jeanne! Thanks for all the sentimental visions. I hope there are many more to come!