Catching up with…The Adventurer

Between getting ready for Christmas, fighting a nasty cold that we have all shared chez Avery and reading a divinely funny and poignant blog, I have been absent from writing my own!

I love this addictive new blog so much that I have to share an excerpt with you and then you can link on over to read the rest. I promise you will laugh, cry and everything in between.

So you are wondering how I came upon this blog… I recently ran into a friend of mine from interior design school who I had not seen in about a year. I was shocked to hear in that time she had gotten breast cancer and was already well into the fight. We were so busy catching up on the world of design, family and friends that we didn’t have a minute to talk about her cancer battles. If you knew her personally, you would not be surprised, she is busy enjoying her life!

I had to read her blog to discover what her last year has been like. So, she started her blog, The Adventurer, with the day she had the mammogram which was also her third anniversary to (second) husband Peter.

It was hard to choose just one post so I took an excerpt from her latest.

Read on…

I LOVE being bald. Yes, I know, pretty weird thing for someone blessed with a thick mass of untameable curls that she used to hate but grew to love, but honestly I really like this new look. And I’ll tell you something – having no hair makes getting up and out of the house a breeze. I actually take quicker showers than my husband! 

Peter, godblesshim, having become an instant parent to four teenagers some years ago, came up with a bizarre rule called The Two Minute Shower. His attempts to turn the entire household into TTMS followers met with dismal failure. My three girls would simply give him The Look as they trailed steam and wet towels. My son, who should have been more receptive to the concept being of the same species as Peter, just grunted and tried to wrestle him to the ground. As the wife, I paid no attention to P’s quaint little quirks. But these days I’m not only a convert to TTMS, I’m its best practitioner. With no hair to wash and condition or legs to shave, two minutes is longer than I need.

After I’d shaved my head and become a regular in the infusion room at Norwalk Hospital, I discovered that walking around au naturel was not the norm at all. In fact, I was the only one without a wig or scarf! Mind you, I’d started off wearing hats and scarves, mainly to keep my head warm but also because I didn’t want to make on-lookers uncomfortable. But there came a day when keeping my head warm was the last thing I wanted, and I didn’t give a hoot what anyone thought.

My step-daughter Rony (she’s in the middle in the photo) was visiting from Australia and I decided to take her to Stew Leonard’s, a funky local supermarket. It was the middle of the afternoon and the temperature was hovering around 105°. Remember Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam? It’s hot! Damn hot. Real hot! As we set off across the parking lot I realized I’d left my Panama hat in the car. Ooof! We were nearly at the air-conditioning. Did I want to go back for the hat? No way. 

Now that I think back to my pre-cancer days, I don’t remember seeing a lot of bald women walking around – and I’m the sort that notices that sort of thing. So I was absolutely gob-smacked that no-one stared at me in Stew’s. Actually, not quite true. Little kids stared open-mouthed, then tugged at their mothers, but nobody pointed or said anything out loud. Quite amazing. After that, I ditched the hats altogether except as sun protection. Incredibly liberating.

For more from The Adventurer


Pink, pink, pink…Pinkberry

I have a huge week planned here at Relaxed Elegance around the pink Project, Think Pink and everything pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

First, I am going to the Irwin Feld Gallery one night later this week, as wonderful social media and IRL friends Irwin and Marcy Feld (@irwinfelddesign) host the New England Home Connecticut Fall Networking Event.  The Felds have decided to unveil their Pretty in Pink 4 Life Bench at the event. I can not wait to see it! All proceeds will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I posted a photo above from a recent showhouse to give you a taste of their style!

If you have never been to their gallery, you are missing out. Call me immediately so that I can take you on a tour of their gorgeous mid-modern furniture, art and accessories. And the lighting, how could I forget their lighting…

Next, I have the honor of attending the Pinkberry opening in Fairfield thanks to social media and IRL friend, Jessica @gimletmommy, writer of The Entertaining House. You may remember that Jessica was my guest for the Nate Berkus Show. Pinkberry is frozen yogurt – “swirly goodness”. Can’t wait to try it! Though I have not yet seen their place in Fairfield, check out these cool photos from their website. Loving the design…

The Saarinen tables with Starck’s green Victoria Ghost chairs speak modern but not cold. The plants, lighting and wood tones warm it right up.

Loving the fun pop vibe on the fabrics and face of the counter. Could some of those Victoria Ghost chairs be pink?

Finally, in a post one day later this week, I will be revealing my big PINK giveaway. Make sure to keep coming back to find out the when, where and how to!

I love to hear from you. Where do you love to take your family for a delicious dessert treat after dinner?

It’s Mountain Day!!!

Today is Mountain Day at Smith College, my alma mater, so I’m going to take a break from the world of interior design and post photos from design’s most true inspiration. It’s a perfect Wordless Wednesday post. Thanks Smith!

In case you have no idea what Mountain Day is… Everyone at college would wait in anticipation for that perfect fall day. There was always great debate at dinner over which day it would be. Then we would wake up in the morning to the sound of the bells ringing and know that we would be free of classes for a glorious day outside and enjoying fall. There were dozens of places we could go on Mountain Day from Mt. Tom to the Mohawk Trail. No one would study that day.  Well, at least no one that I knew…

I am at my desk now with every window open – dreaming of driving up to Litchfield or some other heavenly back country place in Connecticut to celebrate the day. But we won’t be having our Mountain Day celebration until Saturday. In the meantime, enjoy these beautiful photos of Fall in New England!

Berkshires MA

Smith College Paradise Pond

Hoyoke MA

Mohawk Trail

Sheffield MA

Smith College Paradise Pond

(all photos taken from internet)

Remembering 9/11

twin towers, cross, sunlight, new york city, downtown, 9/11
One man in the sun alone
Walks between the silence and the stone:
The city rises from his flesh, his bone.
–Archibald Macleish
These were the words quoted this morning by Mayor Bloomberg at the Ceremonies for 9/11. Nine years later, I still miss my friends from Marsh & McLennan, Aon and Cantor Fitzgerald, especially my classmate Calvin. I am still haunted by the vision of the towers falling.

And I will never forget

…being at a conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel when I over heard someone say a plane crashed into the World Trade Center and thought they were must be joking. Surely, it must have been a small plane from Teterboro.

…seeing a woman half an hour later weeping because the towers had fallen and knowing in my gut that it was no joke. Something was terribly wrong.

…getting Don out of the meeting and rushing to a phone, any phone, to call his wife and let her know we were okay. It was the only phone call we were able to make that morning, so his wife called my family to let them know I was okay.

…seeing my friends arrive at the hotel on foot and bunking out for the night in the conference room because there were no more hotel rooms available anywhere in the city.

…realizing that the very next day I was supposed to be attending a conference at Windows on the World.

…wondering “is he on that plane?” and waiting for hours to hear that my dad was not on that plane.

WTC, 9/11, twin towers, collapse, downtown, new york city

…watching the collapse over and over again on the TV screen in the hotel’s bar for hours, drinking sodas, and shaking our heads not quite believing it was real.

…watching women covered in dust walking in to the bar in flip-flops or bare feet (high heels in one hand) to take a break before continuing the walk home – no matter how far home was. Later I found out that amongst the many women walking that day was a friend of mine. She said that she was working in Wall Street and her family had recently moved to Connecticut. They had a newborn son at home and she would do whatever it took to get home. It was not long after that she stopped working in the city.

…walking to my parent’s apartment for the night because there was no way for me to get back to CT and offering to friends to come with me to stay the night.

plane, WTC, twin towers, nyc, downtown, wall street, terrorism,

…watching my dad put eye drops in his eyes later that night and thinking I can’t believe how lucky I am that he is even here to do such a simple routine thing. He wasn’t in the plane headed to Washington, DC. He heard about the first plane on the radio in the car en route to the airport. He looked back and saw the second plane hit and knew it wasn’t just an accident (AP photo). They turned around and returned to downtown to be with his colleagues on Wall Street. They got as far as City Hall before walking the rest of the way with cloth napkins from a restaurant held to their faces. Of course, the eye drops were for his bright red eyes from being amongst the dust and debris.

…going to the salon for a pedicure in the hopes I could escape the devastation for even a little while. The TV was on and I glanced up to see Frank’s daughter sobbing and wishing for the firefighters to find anything of her father’s – any momento she could hold onto. But all trace of her father (and so many others) had vaporized in the flames and heat.

…hearing my brother’s stories of so many colleagues from the consulting group he was supposed to be working with in the World Trade Center. Just a few weeks earlier, his boss had changed his assignment to an in-house job. One gal told him how she was late to work because she couldn’t decide if she should wear the red skirt or the black skirt. She rushed off the subway train, saw the crowds coming back at her, turned around and ducked back into the subway train. It was the last train to leave the station.

WTC, 9/11 memorial, plan, downtown, new york city

Cross Section of the 9/11 Memorial Museum

…hearing so many stories of survival. My friend, a Navy man then in insurance, instinctively ducked flat into a doorway to avoid the falling debris. Others ran down the streets and risked their lives. His Navy training saved his life.

…or the story of the two young men I used to work with at AIG. They were waiting with so many other of my former insurance colleagues for a meeting to start on an upper floor of the Tower. They were the only two who suggested they leave immediately. They begged the others to come with them, offering to help some of the older guys down the stairs. But  the others insisted on waiting for the elevator that never came.

Michael Arad, Peter Walker, memorial, 9/11, refelcting pool, absence, WTC, Freedom Tower

Memorial Garden 'Reflecting Absence' Designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker

…wondering if it really made any sense to bring a child into a world where hate came knocking on our door. Years later, having the child I dreamed of anyway, because if we didn’t hate would have won.

9/11, WTC, twin towers, absence, reflecting, water, Michael Arad, Peter Walker, memorial

9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pool

…sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium for Game 3 of the World Series while the President threw the opening pitch. It was likely the safest place to be in the world that night. We were just a few rows from the top of the stadium (the nose bleed seats) and our view was of snipers all around us. It was a new world we were living in but we were a part of it – a part of the dreams, the living and the hope.

Rendering of the Memorial Exhibition at the 9/11 Museum

Never forget…

343 firefighters

23 police officers

nearly 2900 civilians

(photos: AP Photos and 9/11 Memorial Museum)


Imagine Sunday night at our friends’ house, a little drizzly outside, so the kids are inside playing with LEGOs while the grown-ups relax over a glass of wine. We had just finished the quintessential BBQ dinner inside of grilled ribs, corn, fresh salad and watermelon for dessert. I could not believe my eyes when Rob handed me an abundance of fresh herbs from their garden.

herbs, kitchen, interior design, cooking, friends, CT, fresh

Needless to say, I have been busy in my kitchen all week. First, I cut the lavender, arranged it in beautiful vases and put it in every bedroom in the house – love to go to sleep to the smell of fresh lavender! Then I cut up potatoes and drizzled with olive oil, garlic and the fresh rosemary. The chives were perfect for an omelette and the oregano for the grilled chicken. I used the fresh mint in sun tea, though this batch may be cloud tea as we are still waiting for the sun to come out. Mint will also be great in the mojitos I plan to serve on Friday night. Check out this great twist on a classic from Jessica at The Entertaining Kitchen.

To make this Sparkling Champagne Mojito you will need:

1/8 cup white rum

3-4 tbs of simple syrup

3 slices of lime

1 tsp crushed mint leaves


1/2 Cup Champagne or Proseco

In a small bowl crush mint and lime with the simple syrup
Pour into Champagne Flute
Add rum, ice if necessary and fill remainder of flute with champagne

basil, cooking, kitchen, pesto, caterpillar, nature, kids

Found this fuzzy wuzzy white caterpillar while prepping the basil. I took a break to run him upstairs to DD in the tubby – can’t miss those wild kingdom moments. She loved having him crawl all over her arm before I returned him to the rainy evening.

I have enough basil to add to my favorite tomato sauce, which I just make off the top of my head so no real recipe to add here and of course my mom’s pesto. My mother-in-law taught me to freeze trays of ice cubes with the pesto mixture. In the winter, I just grab a cube or two and toss it in the pasta. As DD would say deeeeelicious!

Speaking of our daughter, she helped me make Jessica’s Chimichurri Sauce listed below. She was very helpful measuring and pulsing the cuisinart. It’s great to cook with your kids – they will have a better appreciation of where food comes from and how much time it takes to prepare. Not to mention, when pouring the ingredients, you can be teaching them about fractions and measurements. Shhhh…don’t tell. There are lots of lessons to be learned in the kitchen. Then when it comes time to serve it, they are much more likely to eat it and proudly announce that they cooked it too!

Chimichurri Sauce
1 cup of parsley (I used a combination of flat leaf as well as curly from our back yard)
1/4 cup of cilantro and some of the cumin seeds (optional – from our back yard)
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1/4 – 3/4 tsp of crushed red pepper
1/2 cup of good quality olive oil
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
sea salt to taste

Remove leaves from stem and place in a mini food processor. Add the garlic, red pepper, olive oil, red wine vinegar and sea salt. Pulse until smooth. Remove and pour into a pretty pitcher or small serving bowl.

Drizzle over steak (fish, chicken, potatoes or rice) as desired.

Or drizzle over crusty baguette with leftover chicken or steak for a fabulous sandwich the next day!

For more great recipes like these, check out my dear friend Jessica, aka @GimletMommy, at The Entertaining Kitchen.

Hope you enjoyed this time in my kitchen. I love to hear from you. What’s cooking in your kitchen?

Why I did not Finish Writing my Post Today

Sometimes, it’s just not about interior design…

I could have finished my post about closets this afternoon, but instead I chose to do this.

Can you blame me?

Until tomorrow.

Refreshingly yours,


Breaking News: Twitter and Interior Design

Today, I was honored to be listed amongst 12 Interior Designers to follow on Twitter by  The article  by Rob Jones on BuildDirect’s blog follows in its entirety – mostly because I still haven’t learned trackbacks.  Any experts out there?  Please let me know!  I have also attached the original link at the end.

This great group of women tweeters includes many with whom I have built relationships over the last year via social media.  We are from all over the country and not only do we tweet, but also we are fans on each other’s Facebook pages and follow (and comment) on each other’s blogs.   Most of us participated in #IDzinechat last month with another one coming soon.   These women below are reinventing interior design via social media.  Stay tuned…we are shakin’ things up!

12 Interior Design Gurus You Should Follow on Twitter

by Rob Jones on March 8, 2010

Twitter has been a powerful tool for us here at BuildDirect.  It’s allowed us to invite people into our world here a bit, give away some advice, and get some advice back in return about the world of building projects and DIY renos. There are lots of people out there who are just as eager to share their expertise as we are.

In this first official addition of our Gurus to Follow on Twitter series, we’re going to take a look at 12 interior designers on Twitter who are not only thought-leaders and innovators in their industry, but are also highly personable people too who are actively creating useful content, and are likely to follow back.   Take a look.

1. @Debbie_Travis


Interior designer, entrepreneur,  speaker, author, charity advocate, and TV presenter (among many other things), Debbie Travis is the trusted, go-to voice for stylish interior design ideas for the average person.  Oprah Winfrey calls her ‘the master of paint and plaster’.  Visit to find out more.

2. @DebbieWiener


Debbie is author of the book Slob Proof, which is a guide to pet and family-friendly interior designs.   Her no-nonsense and realistic approach to interior design is matched in appeal only to her sense of humor.  Debbie has been featured in national newspapers and magazines (USAToday, Washington Post) and on nationally syndicated television and radio shows, too.

3. @WandaSHorton


Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Wanda is a sought-after interior designer who believes in adding the best experience of design, no matter what kind of space you’ve got.  She’s also an active blogger.  You can read and subscribe to (or subscribe to and read, if you will) her blog at

4. @KimberleySeldon


Filling out her interests in design, Kimberley is a speaker, journalist, and broadcast personality, operating in both the United States and Canada.  Kimberley is Decorating Editor of Canada’s Style at Home magazine and author of the book 500 Ideas for Small Spaces.

5. @AveryDesign (Catherine J Avery)


Catherine sees the interior design process as collaborative, a philosophy which is at the forefront of her company Avery Design.  A former Wall Street marketing executive, she discovered her flair and passion for interior design was her true calling.  Visit Catherine’s website at

6. @HomeWorkshop (Kathy Barlow)


Not only is Kathy a self-professed ‘design junkie’, she’s also a passionate community builder, taking her own love for creative interiors and inviting others of the same persuasion to add to her vision.  You can visit her blog to view a list of designer contributors, all experts in their fields.

7. @Radecor (Rosyln Ashford)


Rosyln is a designer and a home stager, using her designer’s eye to help homeowners sell their homes faster, and for a better return.  Rosyln (or ‘Ra’) has taken her skill for fabric and furniture placement it put it to work for a goal-oriented approach to interior design. Visit her website at

8. @UrbanDecorSue (Susan Rapp)


Coming out of a merchandising and display background, Susan Rapp harnesses the power of tasteful furniture in a space to bring interiors to life.  Her talents in this field are matched only for her passion for social media, like Twitter, and her blog,

9. @PGraceDesigns (Paula Grace Halewski)


With her background in psychotherapy, Paula brings her keen understanding of human psychology into her work as an interior designer who incorporates “timeless attraction of beautiful, classic design married with contemporary elements”.  Read her blog at

10. @Barbara_Miller


Barbara’s dedication to family-friendly spaces in residences and businesses is rivaled only by her dedication as a parent.  But, these two loves feed each other, creating “functional design that will withstand the daily use of homeowner’s children, pets, friends, or customers”.  Read Barbara’s blog at

11. @GreenYourDecor (Jennae Petersen)


Jennae’s frustration with her struggles in finding eco-friendly products while designing inspired her to create her own design company and blog with eco-friendly design in mind on behalf of clients.  She delivers on style, and on sustainable materials and practices.  Visit her website at

12. @StarrMiller


President and Principle at her boutique interior design company, Starr has helmed projects featured on HGTV’s Save My Bath.  Her keen understanding of design principles, and her ability to really listen to what her clients are asking for have been the keys to her success.  Visit her website at

Read more: 12 Interior Design Gurus You Should Follow on Twitter | BuildDirect Building Materials Blog

I love to hear from you.  Please let me know how social media is affecting your business.

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