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the survivor's nest

The Survivor's Nest - 5 Easy Tips for Dividing Lilies

My garden is a work in progress that I see through a decorator's eyes. Its color palate (chartreuse, orange and purple), garden rooms, focal points and accessories extend the living space of my home. 

Most importantly, however, I love the history of the garden. I remember what plants came from where and which rhododendron I got for Mother's Day. My most treasured plants cost me nothing and are the hardiest. My orange day lilies were a present from my friend, who transplanted them from her mother's garden to a spot around my mailbox. In the fifteen years since she planted them, they have multiplied like rabbits. They now ring the perimeter of my yard and punctuate all of the beds. They are the orange pop of color that sets off the purple and chartreuse plants so beautifully.

If you have lilies they are easy to divide:

1.  Lilies need to be divided every 3 to 5 years: You'll know it's time when they begin crowding and putting out less blooms.

2.  To divide lilies: Use a sharp spade to dig around the root ball of a clump. Dig up the clump and knock away excess dirt.

3.  Turn the clump over:  Use the spade to cut the clump into smaller sections. You'll notice that lilies create fans of leaves. Make sure the new clumps have fans of leaves with intact roots.

4.  Lilies are hardy: All they need is lots of sun. Don't be afraid to replant them along the curb line of your yard, like I did. They shrug off abuse. And, when winter comes and snow is plowed up along the curb and salt is sprayed everywhere, they are sleeping safely below ground.

5.  Replant the new clumps: Prepare the soil and plant the clumps 6 to 12 inches apart. Water well to get your new plants established. 

You can use this method to divide hostas, too. I hope I've inspired you to get outside and enjoy your garden, no matter how big or small it is. If I have, please let me know and then turn off your computer and get going!

123RF Stock Photos

The Survivor's Nest - 5 Tips For Decorating With Mirrors

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. Edith Wharton

I did a lot of reflecting this week so, of course, I thought I'd talk about mirrors in today's The Survivor's Nest post. Looking around my own home, I realized I'm surrounded by wonderful examples I'd like to share with you.



1. Look for inexpensive diamonds in the rough: I'm a big garage sale and flea market enthusiast and am always looking for inexpensive, uniquely beautiful mirrors. I have a collection stored away, most of which cost me very little. This mirror is one of my absolute favorites, earning it a spot in my entry hall. It actually cost me nothing because it was given to me by a friend. Originally sporting a dark stain, I sanded it and gave it two coats of white paint for a lighter look. If you like the distressed look like I do, use the sandpaper again after the paint is completely dry to wear down a few edges.




2. Look for interesting frames: I love the shape of this mirror, which gives it great visual interest. As an added bonus, the detail at the top mirror is especially beautiful, and the paint actually accentuates the nooks and crannies. 




3. Choose the right shape: You can see this mirror reflected in the mirror in the preceding picture. Its round shape nicely contrasts with all the straight lines and rectangles of the built-in cabinetry in the family room down the stairs. Its contrasting shape and size (it's 25.5" in diameter) makes a dramatic focal point over the stairs.




4. Create collections: Sunburst mirrors are all the style now and you can easily find them at retailers and throughout shelter magazines. I actually bought this mirror several years ago at a garage sale for $7.00. You know what they say about everything old being new again!  What I love about it, besides its fabulous convex bull's-eye mirror, is that it started my collection of sunburst mirrors. A collection of mirrors brings light, sparkle and a cohesive style statement to any space. 



5.  Use what you love: This mirror has a heavy rectangular oak frame. It's beautifully simple and classic, but that's not why I love it. When I was a young teenager, I remember visiting my grandfather at his home in Wurtsboro, NY. His house had been passed down to him by his aunt and there were lots of goodies still in her shed. He pulled out this mirror and gave it to me, explaining that he knew I loved antiquing so he wanted me to have it. It's one of only a few actual family heirlooms/antiques in my house, but it's so much more than that - it's the embodiment of a lovely moment between my grandfather and me.


Take the time to find special, unique mirrors to decorate your home. They don't have to cost a lot of money and they bring light and reflectivity into your home. Do you have any interesting mirrors in your house? If so, how do you display them?

Ballard Designs and Emmi Interiors, LLC 


The Survivor's Nest - Why I'm Excited About a Candle

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. James Keller

It was my pleasure to commemorate my friend Terri Wingham's birthday a couple of weeks ago by contributing to her Adventure of Hope. Imagine my surprise when she contacted me a few days later at my Facebook page to tell me I won the giveaway from CV Skinlabs and O&N Collective, Inc.
I won several items I can't wait to tell you about, but this Survivor's Nest post is about my Refresh: Energy Boost Home Candle by Neom Organics. I have to tell you how much I love this candle.
A delicious, bracing fragrance hit me before I even opened the box. It's described as a "cheerful blend that enlivens the body and recharges the soul. The perfect morning energy boost or pre night out pick-me-up." And it really is! If you're feeling groggy, unfocused or just plain tired, this is the fragrance for you.
More exciting than the fragrance is how it's delivered. As I learn more and more about the chemicals we take in and the cancers they cause, I've been less willing to burn candles in my home. Plus, soot is a nasty problem. That's why I'm so excited to discover this candle. It's made using only vegetable wax and pure essential oils (rather than synthetic fragrances) so it burns without releasing harmful pollutants, toxins and soot.  

Plus, it works as a powerful holistic treatment as you breathe in the scented air. I'm burning it right now as I write this post and I'm inhaling deeper, enjoying the smell and feel of the air in my lungs. Anything that encourages me to stop and breathe is a very good thing.

I love the beneficial ingredients:

  • Paper and cotton wicks that are lead free
  • 100% all-natural vegetable wax only (NO paraffin wax - so no carcinogens and no black soot)
  • 100% pure essential oils (NO synthetic chemicals or fragrance)
  • Recyclable packaging - specially sourced, eco friendly
  • No "binding chemicals" that make the wax stick to the sides of the glass, so every last drop is used and there is no waste.

So, thank you Terri and O&N Collective, Inc., for the wonderful surprise of actually winning something (which never happens to me.) That it is safe, non-toxic, organic and natural makes it that much better. I'm a convert.

Have you been looking for safer, non-toxic alternatives to bring into your nest? This is one of my happy discoveries (another serendipity moment!) Try it yourself, or think of it if you need a great gift. I highly recommend it! I also recommend checking out Terri's Adventure of Hope. She's a woman on a mission lighting candles wherever she goes and I'm proud to support her and hope you will too.

123RF Stock Photo and O&C Collective, Inc.

(FTC Disclosure: I received this product for free. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment.)

The Survivor's Nest - A Very Special Courageous Woman with Cancer

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain

I'm doing something I've never done before with today's Survivor's Nest post - I'm talking about a person. This is a courageous woman with cancer who doesn't even have a nest of her own - she is homeless right now and has been for the past several months.

Last fall, we agreed to meet at a little coffee shop in Hoboken, NJ. It was a bit of a ride for me and I am not a fan of city driving, but I really wanted to meet her. When I got there, she was already sitting, with her cup of tea, looking very relaxed. Just a short time before, she had given up her apartment in Vancouver, sold her belongings and traveled to various places within the US, to wind up here with me in Hoboken. After my jittery ride, I was very impressed with her easy adventurousness.

As we spoke, she revealed that her drive into Hoboken had been scary. There was tons of traffic, sudden lane changes and complicated directions which were less than accurate. She was stressed out about driving around in strange cities, in someone else's car, trying to get from A to B. I watched her walk away from me after we said good-bye, alone and unsure of where she had parked her car. All I could think was how much more impressed I was with her courage now that I knew it didn't come easily.

I'm talking about Terri Wingham and today is her birthday. She is 33 and presently in Giseny, Rwanda, where she is volunteering at an orphanage. Why is she there? Remember my post two days ago, Courageous Women with Cancer Part 2? In it, I talked about women I've met who have taken their cancer experience and created a new normal of power and meaning. Well, Terri is the epitome of that ideal. 

Prior to her double mastectomy, Terri was a young executive powerhouse. After cancer, she quit her job to find a more meaningful calling. She signed up for a volunteer program in Africa, which led to her present adventure: a trip around the world to volunteer on almost every continent. Her dream is to create a foundation so other cancer survivors can volunteer overseas and benefit as much as she has from her "Adventure of Hope."

To date, she has volunteered with cancer patients in Viet Nam and India. After her tour in Rwanda, she will move on to Peru, Madrid and Costa Rica. Although Terri doesn't have a nest to call her own right now, she still needs to fund her travel. I'll be donating again today as a birthday present to a woman I greatly admire. If you can, please consider supporting this courageous woman with cancer.

I could never change my life the way that Terri has. But, the specifics of her life aren't the issue. What matters is that we are all living a new life post-cancer and each day, whatever it throws at us, we face it courageously. We each have a story to tell and each story is inspiring. To hear more of Terri's story, I'll leave her to tell it in her own words.

123RF Stock Photo


The Survivor's Nest - 5 Tips for Packing a Home Office with Style

Style is a reflection of your attitude and your personality. Shawn Ashmore

Whether you are paying bills, surfing the Internet or writing the next great novel, we all need a quiet, organized space at home to get a little work done. After you have the basics, such as a desk, a comfortable chair and good lighting, don't forget about putting your personal stamp on the space. It's all about expressing your style, and it doesn't have to cost a lot to do:

Eye-Catching Display






1.  Pick a color scheme you love and run with it: The graphic punch of this black, red, white and gray color scheme creates order and excitement. The lamp is from Ikea and costs $4.99, proving that you don't have to spend much to have fun with color.





Southporte Corner Desk Group




2.  Go big or go home (Oh, right, you are home!!): Pick accessories that fill the space, bringing a big statement. The four pictures on the wall read as one big picture. The clock brings size, but also softens all of the straight lines by introducing a round shape. 




home office with open shelves and metal bins





3. Have fun with storage: The metal baskets in this photo reflect the beautiful metallic light pendant. Baskets bring texture and ease of storage to a home office. Make sure to label them so you know what's inside them.






Daily System - Espresso stain




4.  Put organization up front: Think of your home office as the nerve center of your home. To keep things running efficiently, put a message board, calendar and pin board right on the wall, so nothing falls through the cracks. You'll never have to search high and low for that invitation or phone number ever again.






5.  Let your personality shine through: This is your space, let it scream your personal style. Are you quirky? Traditional? Eclectic? Country? Bring whatever makes you happy into the space. Style really is a reflection of your attitude and your personality. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, this space belongs to you!



Do you have a home office? Does it reflect your attitude and personality? If not, have I inspired you to pump up the style quotient right now?

123RF Stock Photos, Better Homes and Gardens, Ballard Designs, House Beautiful, Pottery Barn, Traditional Home 

The Survivor's Nest - What Makes a House a Home?

Yes, your home is your castle, but it is also your identity and your possibility to be open to others. David Soul

David Soul is the guy who played Hutch in the TV series "Starsky and Hutch" and sang the one-hit wonder "Don't Give Up on Us." But, the man has a point. If we look at our homes as a canvas upon which to paint our personalities, it should be clear to anyone who visits who we are.

If you walked into this house, what would it tell you about the inhabitants:

1.  They probably don't have children or animals, given the use of white upholstered furniture. 

2.  They really hate clutter, to the point that they own nothing.

Now, look at this room and tell me what you learn from it about the people who live there:

1.  She collects vintage pieces, such as the bull's eye mirror, Chinese urns, candlesticks and old books. If you ask, she'll tell you that many pieces were picked up at garage sales and flea markets.

2.  She loves decorative plates (especially vintage souvenir plates from across the US) and displays them proudly.

3.  The wooden box, used now for firewood but originally meant to hold Champagne, came out of her mother's garage. No one has any idea how it got there, but that's part of its charm.

4.  She likes warm colors, textured fabrics and intimate nooks for reading, hanging out and relaxing.

5. They have children, as you can tell from the handmade Valentine's hearts perched on the mantel.

6.  The pictures of her mother and her when she was a baby, and her husband with his mother as a toddler, are treasured family photos. 

Remember, we only invite people into our home who we want to be there. That makes it sacred ground. Take the time to look around and ask yourself what your home is revealing about you. Is your home telling the story you want to tell? Are you being open to others and truly celebrating you in your space?

If not, it's not a hard thing to do. Collect what you love and display it proudly. In the iconic words of designer William Morris, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." All you have to do is choose to live with what you believe to be beautiful. How you express that is entirely up to you.

123RF Stock Photos

and Emmi Interiors, LLC

Casual Friday - The Company Store

One of my greatest pleasures is sinking into my warm, comfortable bed at night. I think it's so important to find sanctuary at the end of a long day that it was my first The Survivor's Nest post subject:  "After living a life of 24/7 cancer during the diagnostic and treatment phases, don't we deserve to create our own little oasis of peace? What better place to create it than in the confines of our most private space - our bedroom?"

It's the comfort and warmth of our bed that rekindles our tired bodies, minds and spirits for the next day.

The Survivor's Nest - Five Tips to Get You Started Decorating Your Space

Yesterday, I was the featured survivor on TalkAboutHealth. The questions I got were thoughtful and compelling. One of the questions was about decorating, so I thought I would share it and my answer here today:

Question:  I'm not much of a decorator. Would you share some ideas on how to get started decorating my living space?

Answer: I started The Survivor’s Nest series at WhereWeGoNow because, although many people think they can’t decorate, we all deserve a soft place to land at the end of the day. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish with just a few simple steps:

1.  The first place to start is not your home.  It’s the magazine rack. Pore over the pictures in shelter magazines and notice what you respond to – positively as well as negatively. By noticing what you like and dislike, you’re learning what kind of space you want to create in your own home. If you find pictures you really like, buy the magazine.  Those pictures can become guides for creating a look in your home that speaks to you.

2.  Go home and look around. If all you see is clutter, you need to work on that first. By paring down and keeping only what is functional, sentimental and/or beautiful, you’re on your way to creating a space that is personal and comforting.

3. If you need to buy furniture, think in terms of classic shapes and neutral colors. You may love chartreuse as a color (I certainly do), but use it as an accent. There’s nothing worse than trying to force the rest of the room to coexist with a busy, large patterned upholstered sofa. It makes all of your other decisions extremely difficult.  I’ve also seen too many people fall out of love with a sofa they thought they loved because it was just too hard to live with in their home.

4.  Paint gives you amazing bang for the buck. It brings warmth and cohesiveness to the entire space. Again, choose neutral colors for most rooms, especially larger, public spaces. You can go a bit crazier in a small powder room, if you like. Remember your paint color should complement, not overpower, your rooms.

5.  Pull together your collections, art, souvenirs, photographs, books and other objects to make your space personal. We all have stories and your home is the place to tell them.

Hope that helps you get started. Remember your nest should be a refuge and a place to heal your spirit. For more tips, visit and search The Survivor’s Nest.

I really enjoyed answering questions yesterday at TalkAboutHealth. If you have any decorating questions of your own, let me know what's on your mind and I'll be happy to do my best to give you an answer.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

The Survivor's Nest

As interior decorator and legend Billy Baldwin once said, “Everything in a bedroom should contribute to an atmosphere of peace.” After living a life of 24/7 cancer during the diagnostic and treatment phases, don’t we deserve to create our own little oasis of peace? What better place to create it than in the confines of our most private space – our bedroom?

Before we get into sheets, blankets, pillows, comforters, duvets, and the like, let’s talk clutter. There are two types of clutter: physical and emotional. Physical clutter is all of the stuff that sits around, mocking us by its very presence. It’s the everyday reminder that we have many things to do that we can't find the time to make happen. Emotional clutter isn’t necessarily messy. It’s the existence of something that reminds us of things in our past that are negative and cause stress.

Right now, or as soon as you finish this post, go into your bedroom and look around. Is there a pile of unread magazines dating back to January?  Are there clothes from last season or that don’t fit thrown in piles here and there?  Is your work and financial paperwork taking over like “The Blob?” That’s physical clutter and it’s weighing you down emotionally. Make a commitment to yourself right now that your bedroom is a sacred refuge and these things don’t belong. Then get rid of them. Be ruthless and get rid of them all. When you’re finished, you’ll feel like you lost 20 pounds. 

Emotional clutter is a bit more subtle, but can weigh even heavier on your psyche. Remember that comforter I spoke of in last week’s post? It might have kept my friend warm during those many weeks or months of illness, but what did it remind her of once she was feeling better? Were they pleasant thoughts or depressing memories? Because looking at that comforter made her relive a past she wanted to move beyond, she was very wise to get rid of it.

My emotional clutter came in the form of the undergarments I had to wear after my mastectomy. They weren't pretty and were darn uncomfortable. Still I kept them in a lingerie drawer, probably because it felt wasteful to throw them away. Finally one day I came upon them unexpectedly and realized it made me sad to see them. I made myself throw them away and it felt wonderful. That spurred me on to the linen closet, where I found other items from my hospitalization. Out they went. What a relief to know that I would never unexpectedly run into them again and have to deal with their negative energy.

To begin creating your own Survivor's Nest, the first step must be removing the emotional and physical clutter that is standing between you and sanctuary. To me, clutter really is "The Blob" because it's "a mass that keeps getting bigger and bigger."  For those of you who don't get the reference, "The Blob" is my favorite old monster movie, starring Steve McQueen. If you haven't seen it, watch the movie trailer before you attack your emotional and physical clutter. It's wonderfully campy and will get your decluttering off to a great start:

Be brave and attack your emotional and physical clutter!  I guarantee you'll be happy you did. I'd love to hear what emotional cancer clutter you found and what you did with it. 

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos