Archive for February, 2011

Every now and then my friend Laurene will say something to me that just hits me kinda like a V8!! This woman is one of the most genuine people you ever want to meet. She is a person I admire and cherish in my life. We have been good friends for many years and that has never wavered. She rarely has any negative thoughts or words about anything, a real inspiration to me. She never judges people or tells anyone what to do or how to do it, live and let live is her philosophy. Always has a positive word for me even in a sour situation she looks forward and knows that great things are on the horizon!! (Don’t you just wish you could be this way all the time!!!) Laurene truly teaches me lessons in life, believe in yourself (no one else has to!) Don’t give people advice, listen and help if you can. Be penny wise not dollar foolish!! and love deeply and unconditionally!!

Laurene is moving to Belize in a couple of years, her  husband Stephen is building a Bed and breakfast in Belize (The Crimson Orchid), were they intend to retire and live life to the fullest!! While she is staying with me we are trying new recipe’s for the business. This is one we tried over the weekend:

It is a Williams-Sonoma recipe from the cook book titled “BREAKFAST”  the recipe “Brocolli Rabe, Pesto, and Smoked Mozzarella Strata” is as follows:


3/4 lb broccoli rabe, thick stems removed

5 slices sourdough bread, about 1/2 inch thick, crusts removed

1/4 cup pesto

1 1/2 cups shredded smoked mozzarella cheese

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup heavy double cream

4 large eggs

2 tsp Dijon mustard

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the broccoli rabe and blanch until almost tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain immediately and rinse under cold running water until cool throughout.  Gather into a ball and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Chop the broccoli rabe coarsely.

Generously grease a 7-by-1 inch or similar-sized baking dish, and place about 2 1/2 slices of the bread in the base, cutting as necessary to make an even layer.  Spread the broccoli rabe evenly over the bread.  Add the pesto in dollops, spacing them evenly.  Scatter with half of the smoked mozzarella and top with the remaining bread, again cutting to fit.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, cream, eggs, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a generous grinding of pepper. Whisk vigorously until smooth.  Pour the custard mixture over the bread and use the back of a large, flat spoon to press the bread down into the custard mixture.  Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Press the bread down into the custard after about 15 minutes, and again just before placing in the oven.

Sprinkle the top within the remaining cheese.  Bake until puffed, golden, and crisp, about 45 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Makes 4 – 6 servings

 This is what the book looks like, here are some additional pics:

We loved it!! Many more recipes to come!! Stay tuned!!



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I have been preoccupied lately looking at designs for the Guest Bedroom I am doing in Vanguard Showhouse. So I thought I would share some of the eye candy I have looked at recently. Hope you enjoy!!!

This inspired me as soon as I saw it!! The Custom poster bed and the Fabulous settee blew me away!! I love the metal, wood and the rustic style with the aire of luxury!! Wow  I would love to sleep in this room!! I ran across this room in Traditional Home, Jo Beth Williams’ Spanish Style home.

Next , this design is just light airy and fun!! I think in today’s market a relaxed palate and furnishings that we could relate to are a must! Love the desk in this bedroom. I sit in my bedroom at night and work at my desk I think it works well. Working and relaxing should go hand in hand, Love what you do!!! Another Traditional Home find!

2 of 7

Veranda  posted this guest room by designer Elizabeth Dinkel, just loved that she used twin beds on her space! 

Canopies, Bedskirts, Roman Shades Fabrics: Raoul Textiles. Canopy Lining Fabric: Schumacher. Benches, Sheers, Window Seat Fabrics: Cowtan & Tout. Headboards: West Elm. Pendant Lamps: Filament Lighting. Bed Linens: Schweitzer, Matouk. Metal Starburst: Downtown. Rug: The Rug Company.

What will happen in our Vanguard Showhouse Room? Just a little food for thought. Today is a work day for me I have started the coffee table I posted yesterday, so working behind the scenes on a future post for you guys, as always stay tuned….

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Today I spent the day with Mother Theresa, and my sister Carol Ann (Mother Theresa always calls her CAROL  ANN). This morning I put my two little lovelies on the train to Buffalo, NY  for Winter Break with their Uncle Sam and my two nieces Adrianna and Katrina for one whole week!!!!!!!!!. When I pulled back in my driveway I thought it would be great to just take the day off and pick up my sister and shop!! Carol Ann is a teacher locally and also has this week off for Winter Break. On my way up I stopped and picked up Mother Theresa at her new home and on to G’Ville to get Carol. And our adventure began….

We decided to go antiquing for an interesting bed for showhouse!! We started off in Johnstown at some little shops that I just loved, but alas I did not see any beds that would make a Fabu statement in showhouse so my search will have to continue. What we did find… was a charming little coffee table that I just had to have along with a very petite chair for Giovanna’s room, and the sweetest little end table. The Coffee table is a small scale piece that is a bit beat up  but with a little Merlin Magic and white paint it will be my next wonderful creation, and will begin the lighter and brighter pallet on Merlin Dr. I will  give step by step instructions on this transformation. Here is the before picture:

SSSOOOOO stay tuned as this adventure continues to unfold.

We had a great day,  just us girls, stopped at Three Ninety One, a really great little eatery in Gloversville, NY. If you are in that neck of the woods this is the place to stop and grab a bite!! Charming atmosphere, lovely people. We had a decadent piece of gelato and two slices of the most luscious pound cake drizzled with a sweet raspberry sauce!!!! OMG! Soooo incredible, and the gourmet coffee 🙂 well can I just say Mother Theresa was near heaven. What a great day! That’s all for now, signing off….



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My Girls….

Wow! What a week … I have been so busy lately because Mother Theresa’s health has not been good. Work has been busy, the kids are sick and showhouse is starting. Today I  thought how lucky, I am to have a family. My wonderful husband who supports me at every turn and my little Lovelies Giovanna and Rosaria. I realized today how big they have gotten, then I thought how many more days do I have to hold them and tell them every morning and evening how much I love and appreciate them???? So for today I will not write much or look at my email or my Etsy store. I will play games and love the two cherubs God gave me. Just a quick couple of pictures to share some wonderful memories, Looking for pictures lately I’ve come across some of these beautiful memories.  

Rosaria, with her Easter bonnet!!! omg where has the time gone? Grab your children and spend a moment with them, because time goes so fast.  Showhouse can wait for a day. Today I will spend it with Mother Theresa and our two beautiful children. Life is so great!! When you think about how much you truly have in life you can’t help but feel gratitude for love, peace and FAMILY…….

Mother Theresa and our lovelies (me on the end).


Thanks for reading my blog…..



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2011 Vanguard Showhouse  view this article in Times Union, it was published on January 18, 2011. I’ve linked this in for you all to enjoy, Yesterday was sneak a peak, the house is amazing. It has come so far since I first saw the property back in December 2010. I am so excited!!! Many thanks to Nate Bette for all of his kind words and help on this project. I was so impressed with the workmanship and care in this enormous restoration/renovation. This 7000 square foot home has six fireplaces, five bedrooms (one of which I have the pleasure of decorating) and was saved by Nate. This property easily could have been torn down and a new mini mansion built in its place. Instead this lovely home will be brought back to its original grandeur and given a new beginning.

My space is the “Guest Room” , it is one of the larger bedrooms in the house. I have four windows in my space and the  marble fireplace in this  room is exquisite. This year I am hoping to work with Amanda Crames who owns Schuyler Pond Home and Garden!  This store exudes luxury located in Schuylerville, on 727 East  rte 29 , (518) 581 8422

I just love her shop inside are some great finds!! I have chosen many of the items to decorate my room from Schuyler Pond and I urge anyone who is looking for something luxurious for their home to visit this  shop and let the themed rooms (that seamlessly run into each other) engulf you in your decorating dreams. I love the upscale setting and unique furnishings that fill this Chic country shop. More to come on Showhouse 2011 but have to run for now Mother Theresa is coming for dinner!!



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Showhouse 2011

Showhouse 2011

Well I may as well start letting my fans know that showhouse is starting!!!!  It is with a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm that Vanguard is announcing the 2011 Showhouse!  Saturday February 19th and Sunday February 20th, 2011 is sneak a peak at the Vanguard Showhouse, located this year at 10/12 Stafford Road,  Loudonville,  NY . 

  Nathaniel and Kevin Bette (the owners) are bringing this historical property back to its original grandeur, while the renovation will restore most of the property there are many changes and updates that will also bring this home into the 21st century.

A little history on the home… It was completed in 1841 and occupied by William Shepard. He was a New York Assemblyman, Judge and Merchant. William Shepard purchased the property from Stephan van Rensselaer IV who was the son of the last Patroon, Stephan Van Rensselaer III. Stephen Van Rensselaer III by Gilbert Stuart Come and see this beautiful home as it stands. It has already had a ton of work done, the roof was replaced, facade has been sand blasted to return the brick to its original color,and some landscaping has been done. This lovely home has so much potential. Can’t wait to see what the designers come up with for their rooms… I know that mine will be Fantastic…

I’ll include some pictures after sneak a peak. Hope to see you there!



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How in the world did this ever happen?? My house has gone to the dogs!!! I fell in love with a beautiful little sandy colored chihuahua, actually my daughter Rosaria begged me to go look at these little darlings. I have forever been a fan of Chocolate Labs, so when Rosaria first asked me I thought (as Mother Theresa would say) “Little Rats” , but I went to see the puppies and could not pull myself away.

This is Ricky Riccardo Carlos Conti, He is just the cutest long hair chihuahua. What an amazing little dog!!


Even Mother Theresa fell in love( not in the beginning of course). My mother cannot see well, so the first family gathering we were sitting on the couch in the living room and  Ricky jumped up on my mother and she got so frightened she threw her arms up poor Ricky went flying through the air, did a 360° and was miraculously caught by my sister Carol. We went hysterical!!!

Well this has to be one of my favorite photo’s our little boy Ricky and the best dog that ever lived Zepplin Floyd Conti . This guy was truly the sweetest dog (another story all together), he just wrapped Ricky in love and took him under his protection and care. Taught him where to go to the bathroom and to play. Ricky soon grew into a wonderful addition to our family and truly captured the heart of anyone who walked through our door.


We started as chihuahua craze in our neighborhood. My girlfriend Laurene (who by the way resides in our basement apartment- that was once Mother Theresa’s space in our humble abode) has two chihuahua’s Oreo and Holly, they are related to Ricky, we also know Ricky’s brother Jerry who lives with my cumadre (as Mother Theresa calls her-cumadre is  italian  for Matron of Honor) in Gloversville NY . My daughter Rosairia’s friend Ashley who has a family member, the hairdressers at Hair Razors in Niskayuna, NY whose staff has multiple members of this chihuahua family. These pictures were taken recently of the three living with us in our home (Ricky is on the right,Oreo middle and Holly left)…  More on life  at the Merlin Dr. location in Styleland with 4 dogs, one cat, 2 fish and a chinchilla.




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Where to start??? Our home has changed so much, I guess THE MASTER SUITE !! The best part of the whole transformation. My bedroom originally was on the main level of the old raised ranch.  We added a second level and created this Master Suite. Our room is 35 x 35 Holy cow!!! I was wondering if this was enough room when we were first framing this space in!!

 The walls are painted Smokey Topaz ( sw-6117) a Sherwin Williams color. Trim color is Tatami Tan sw-6116, also Sherwin Williams.

Master Bathroom


The Master bath was just a dream!! The tile is real stone with frameless shower doors and a luxurious soaker tub. The vanities are both mahogany, and the chandelier just finishes the space!!

 Window treatments are custom-made by yours truly, I found a great deal at Burlington Coat Factory in housewares this is a Christopher Lowell bed set. The Panels and valances were sold separately.  I altered the valances  into Cornices, and added a beautiful fringe to the panels to customize them. I added  pull shades to the window treatment by purchasing a clearance fabric and fusible web at Joann Fabrics .Next, I purchased a $2.00 roller shade from Lowes,   I cut the material and webbing  to desired length and width, took off the plastic shade and attached the material and webbing by stapling the fabric to the wooden rod. Well-la!!!! Instant Fabric Roller Shade!!

Since I can go on on about this space I will reign myself in and just continue to post pictures of the rest of the house!!  Living Room!

The Entry –

This was my creation!! I saw this space in my head and my Wonderful Husband did the mill work. Hot, I tell you this guy is on fire, MY OWN ITALIAN STALLION!!! Of course these are not professional shots, but they will do! I love the space we added and love our home but…………I’m ready for change now.


Dining Room’s next, what do you think so far?

Giovanna room has been up dated so many times, It would be hard to show the whole transformation, so I will show how it was originally and how it is now!


Just love this room window treatments to follow!! Stay turned for more on Merlin Drive!!



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There was a  raised ranch……., My husband Gabe and I were just married a year and I was expecting our first Cherub, Giovanna. We needed more room as our little bungalow barely fit  all of our STUFF, much less all of the STUFF  we now needed for a baby. Our budget was little to none, so we looked for as much space  as little money could buy. That lead us here, to suburbia Niskayuna New York.

 We started our family and put down roots. We soon loved the neighborhood and decided that our drafty old home needed a fabulous make over (it was definitely showing its age at 40 years). So construction began….

The roof was off and a second level was added, the front of the house was bumped out to create a 2 story foyer, with gorgeous gothic windows. The deck was modified to  three levels and every wall inside but one was knocked down. Once we had the new  space renovated we  had a beautiful master suite, on its own level. Along with a completely new home to settle back and decorate. This will begin the chronicles of  “Designs from Merlin Drive”. Our home is now decorated in French Country with Victorian influences. I would like to create a more transitional look with Chic furnishings, clean lines and an aire of elegance. 

The girl’s rooms are first, Giovanna’s room is in full swing and this spring we are going to transform the living room, dining room and entry. This is sure to be an adventure, OMG!! can’t wait to see this unveiling of these beautiful spaces. Along with our home project, I am a designer and have a small space inside a shabby chic store. I’ve also been awarded a space in a local Showhouse. The showhouse will be a different adventure all together. Another project on a budget……. Wait till you see what I have in store this year!!!

 For now we will finish Giovanna’s room and start Rosaria’s room (can’t do one teenage daughters room and not the other! Paahleaseeee!!). I will post current pictures of the interior next, stay tuned……. Hope to hear from you!!



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Teenage Dream

Teenage Dream

This is my 15 year old daughter’s new room make over. If this isn’t a Teenage Dream I don’t know what is!
So starting this project was Hairy to say the least, anyone who has dealt with a fifteen year old knows exactly what I’m talking about… Giovanna my little angel has grown into a very strong and confident individual (wasn’t that great!!! I gave a compliment without any sarcasm!!).  She defiantly knows what she doesn’t like but could not quite figure out what she wanted. This is a very precarious situation for any parent.. how do you gently suggest a color scheme that would not stand out as a black hole in your home and please a teenager??  Well by some divine power I was able to introduce a lime green (Ben Moore – Stem Green 2029-40) and a Hot pink (Ralph Lauren –  Aruba Pink IB52) that just made her giddy!! The Stencil from The Artful Stencil (custom-made into 18 x 24) Was the Pièce de résistance !!  www.theartfulstencil.com.

The Room started off in Aqua and brown with beautiful custom window treatments (Made by yours Truly) notice the lovely lady that’s Gi as we call her room was already starting to transform into the Lime Pink Palace!!!!  The furniture was a gift from Aunt Donna (another colorful family member) who also provided the gorgeous Lime

Chest on chest

Chandelier that only Aunt Donna would find while vacationing in Sturbridge Village MA, always thinking of the girlies ( Sadie Greens in Sturbridge had this wonderful piece).

The furniture started in a antique yellow, handles gold. Mirror at local thrift store $20.00, transformation to the lovely hot pink pieces you see in these photos. New window treatments to follow stay tuned>>>



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