Monday, December 31, 2012


 Fred and I spent the Christmas holidays in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains this year with our firstborn and her husband and children. There couldn't be a more beautiful part of the country this time of year. We were not disappointed when the soft snowfall began on Christmas Eve and continued through the next few days. These are some of the views Fred captured.

 Driving through the beautiful Bucks County neighborhoods this evening brought a moment of wonder and 
melancholy to my heart . Another tender season comes to a close and I'm not quite sure I'm ready to embark on the new year just yet. I should's certainly been a busy season, a successful season. I love my retail creative work, but it does not come without considerable sacrifice. But, it's a sacrifice I enjoy.

Where have the last few months gone? The stockroom is bare...the trees empty. There isn't much adornment of any significance left. How I recall the near panic in my heart when I looked at tables, baskets, trees, stockrooms and closets bursting with the 2012 Christmas offerings and wondered what I had done! With all the reassurance from my buying co heart that we had stayed in our budgets and not to worry, I wondered if that could be true! Looking around the store today I can say she was right. 

Just as there is opportunity now to create new venues and inspirations, there is time for introspection on many levels. The desire for personal changes and a debt of gratitude for my retail friends and clients come quickly to heart. A new year begins and the prospect of new beginnings on many levels gives strength and encouragement to me.

I couldn't have accomplished what I did in 2012 without the help and support of staff, family and my loyal Black-eyed Susan friends and supporters. Thank you for your encouragement and trust as we have come into your homes to share our time and visions. 

I'm looking forward to another year of creative inspirations, vision and personal insights. 

Happy New Year. I'm ready for the challenge and look forward to sharing the ride.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Little Designer Susan

As promised, you will find the lyrics to the song "The Little Designer Susan" as written and performed by my cute friend and co-worker, Anne. I chuckled when she said that she sang it for her husband, who was neither amused or understanding of the story line! When my friend Linda heard it, she said she was laughing inside, because she had heard me say so many of the things Anne wrote about! It was spot on. I, myself was impressed that so much of what I was feeling was noted and remembered.

The tune is that of "Away in a Manger". How I wish I could share a recording of her performance. I think those of you who know me well will really get a kick out of it, and those of you who don't know me as well will have some insight.Altogether, it was a thoughtful and entertaining gift of love.

The Little Designer Susan

Away in North Carolina
not enough stuff for the store.
The little designer Susan
must buy decorations and much more.
Boxes arriving every day now,
nowhere to put everything.
Glitter balls, pine cones and battery candles
garlands, trees and birds that sing.

It's time to decorate the store now,
prepared for this moment all year.
The little designer Susan
is worried and cries, "Oh dear!"
"Too much merchandise, where will we put it
what was I thinking, we have too much!"
"Place the ornaments, deck the halls,
cases, table top and such!"

Increased our hours to help her
we worked both night and day.
The little designer Susan
mumbled "I must call Linda today".
Can we stop now dear Susan
our feet hurt and we're tired?
She said " The store is not ready,
So much more is required!"

"Move the furniture, hang the balls lower
there 's no time for lunch here today."
The little designer Susan
Says," I don't like anything we did here today".
"Linda won't like it, hang more garlands
there's no vignette on that tree.
Where's my glasses, get my camera,
I will blog for all to see."

Decided to sell everything
in her house for fun.
The little designer Susan
Said, "Oh my, what have I done?'
No couch to sit on, no curtains
had to order a new bed,
Have to put it together
but "What the heck! Where's Fred!"

Tonight's our class, we made our deadline
there's not a bat in sight.
The little designer Susan
prepares  punch to our delight.
Light the candles, look your best
but, Oh, what's that smell?
A mouse died in the wall
can't think about it just "SELL"!

Here come the customers, ready to buy things
their purses are fat.
The little designer Susan
Shouts, "Wait! I can't sell that!"
"I just designed it. I'm not ready.
What will we put in its place?
You must come back after Christmas.
"For Heaven's Sake!"

All the while she was sad
and  had nothing for dinner
The little designer Susan
was growing thinner and thinner.
She had set-up's, Show houses
and a magazine article to do.
Nothing in her lunch box to eat
but a sweet potato or two.

Its Christmas! What can we get her?
What does she need the most?
The little designer Susan
said "I'm going home for tea and toast".
A dish for a casserole
we will wrap with care.
To  be passed and filled weekly
for she and Fred to share.

Shopping and holidays are upon us
times are stressful for sure.
The little designer Susan
surely needs this cure.
The buying season is almost over
most of the stuff is now gone.
Time to visit with family
celebrating Christmas where we belong.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Black-eyed Susan Celebration

The Black-eyed Susan staff celebrated tonight together in the spirit of Christmas! What a delight, indeed.
We gathered in the festive surroundings of the thoroughly decked out retail store and shared a feast that was prepared by each one. Salads, desserts, appetizers and small bites. Yum!

My cute friend and business associate, Linda, came into town to observe the retail progress and the inventory levels. Good thing she shares my love of baking, because we spent the morning preparing our contributions to the feast.

We both had been wanting to try our hand at Pot de Creme chocolate pots, and so....we did! I happened to have a small set of vintage Pot de Creme pots (the ones shown with lids), and we also took inventory of the 11 demi-tasse cups from my favorite china collection. Definitely perfect for this delight! I know I owe you all a few recipes of late, and I will post this one for you soon. It's definitely worth the effort and easy!

This is our confection going into the oven...

I'm a bit peeved (as my mother would say!) that we got through the main courses before I thought to start my photo the dessert portion is what I can now show you. What was I thinking? The spread was impressive with so many fine selections it was difficult to choose. So, we all had a bit of each! That's the way to celebrate!

Center front; Cindy's perfect chocolate covered strawberries!  Juliana's strawberryry/raspberry and blackberry pie did not disappoint! The completed Pot de Cremes found a place at the table as well.

Linda's caramel pecan cheesecake could rival anything you could find at the finest pattisiere. Oh. My. Good thing we made it by mistake with low fat cream cheese. Really.

Yet another mouth drooling shot of some of our confections.   

 I'm also sad that I did not think to document the entire staff together for your viewing. My heart was full of gratitude and tenderness for this dedicated staff of friends and co-workers and the hours of talent, sacrifice and support these past few weeks have demanded. It's been a very busy season! 

I'm going to make it a point to share some group photos of everyone soon. These ladies are to be admired. 

I also have a tender and entertaining song to share with you that was written (and sung!) by Anne! Tune in tomorrow for the lyrics to what could be the beginning of a Black-eyed Susan reality show!! 

Merry  Christmas to all.


Monday, December 3, 2012

The first week after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest week for custom Christmas setups for the Black-eyed Susan design staff and supporting elves! 12-18 hour days, day after day makes for a tiring week. Good thing it is filled with good friends, good help and good fun.My sister, Denise came in for the usual team support. Shannon headed up the outside urns (and there were plenty), Jeff, Cindy, Patty, Sherri and Anne were fabulous supporters and merry-makers. Sneelock made several appearances as well. It's a true team effort.

Each night we fully intended to post a quick report. Hmmmm. So, here's a quick recap of our week.

 One night we spent several hours changing out the windows to my 2012 Christmas vision. A word of warning...several accidents have occurred since we did them. One driver reported that she was distracted by the windows. Oh. Dear. Hot pink and silver glitter theme...ode to Linda!

Classic Black-eyed Susan exterior urn design, a welcome addition to any front porch. Shatterproof ornaments, sugar cones and fresh greens equal the perfect combination. This fine tuned skill is Shannon's specialty. (I'm personally hoping for a visit from the urn elf...)

Note: our lush door dressing-two swags embellished with favorite pine cones. You can use this year after year. Signature Black-eyed Susan wreath welcomes shoppers. (Take it home soon!)

Our first client on Tuesday morning let me use our new flame less candles...they really look real, I'm not kidding! Champagne tinsel wreath and garland-a real wow!

Several years ago I sold this heart warming blue pallet to my friend Joan. Each year she ads a bit of new to her collection and she always agreeable to letting us mix it up a little. That's always fun for us! This year on the living room mantle, I added my magic sugar pine cones. They are magic, you know.

Denise tied full satin bows on these beauties and hung them in the dining room window. There are dozens of things you can do with these, and they last year after year.

Joan was pretty thrilled with the addition of a red satin bow to her favorite sheep!

There is a huge influence in design right now using organic themes. I've used a good bit of this look at the store and here I added several pieces of wood from Joan's wood pile in with ornaments and pine cones to create an interesting holiday centerpiece. Birds, pine cones and firewood....fabulous!

Alyce and John asked us to add a little holiday spirit to their newly delivered and accessorized biblotech. Of course, we were pleased to oblige! (I love love love these pheasant plates and cups.) The red just pops in one of my favorite ever pieces of furniture.

Denise added this pine spray to the newly installed foyer lamps. Wow.

At Katie's, you could say it was pure joy. (There's my pine cones again!)

This was the view outside the kitchen window while we worked! How fun it was to laugh and know the rest! Katie made us a gourmet lunch and this was the setting. Ahhhh! to both!

We mixed things up a bit in the living room too with the addition of some vintage silver...the chocolate addition to the red was fresh as well.

I took a minute to style the living room table, using Katie's things and adding a touch of holiday spirit.

Friday was saved for one big project. 10 am to almost 7pm. Shannon and Sheri designed the outside urns to perfection and astonishment. The rest of the staff (7 to be exact!) feverishly worked inside to complete beauty in each and every room. Mary's grand staircase was a hit.
Although my report is a bit late, that wraps up the first week! There are several more setups this week and I will keep you filled in. Whew. Now that's a week.