The Great Indoors: How to make sure vintage doesn’t equal junky

It’s been almost a month since cleanup week found antique lovers and bargain hunters rummaging through piles of would-be garbage on the city’s curbs. Perhaps you’re one of them; excited at first by what you found, now looking at it and wondering “what am I going to do with this thing?”

It’s something vintage decorators like Shannon Olson and Carrie Brusven understand. Olson writes a blog ( on her love of vintage decorating and baking. Brusven owns Rustic Trunk, a business which specializes in decorating for events using vintage or rustic pieces.

Both of their homes are covered in vintage pieces from the 19th and 20th century, much of it acquired from clean-up week, garage sales and discount bins. The rooms are full of conversation pieces. They feel warm and welcoming and you don’t feel like you’re sitting in the middle of a junk pile. But how do they do it? How do you avoid having your collections and vintage pieces from making your house feel cluttered? Here are their tips.

1. Find what you love and stick to it. Olson says she’s always loved enamel ware and old coffee pots. So when she sees one she picks it up. She doesn’t bother with something that’s close, but not quite right. All that will do is add to the clutter and it won’t ever be a favorite piece. The item should really speak to you. If it’s nice, but not quite right pass it up. Brusven especially likes pieces that have a story with them. That way it’s not just a knick knack on a shelf, it’s history.

2. A collection can be three items not 30. Collectors get obsessed. They see something they like and they think they need to have every one ever made. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Or consider buying it, but only displaying a handful. Brusven agrees. “When you have too many items on display, nothing stands out.” Less can be more.

3. While shopping at garage sales or on the curb consider the strategy of one in/one out. If you bring something home to use in decorating your home, consider taking something else away and putting it on your own curb for clean up week.

4. Vintage can be practical. There’s no reason vintage decorations can’t be functional too. Olson found an old rake handle in her neighbor’s garbage. She attached it to an old wooden cabinet door and uses it to hang necklaces in her bathroom. Her photo from the project has been a hit on Pinterest. Brusven found an old beat up cabinet that she repurposed into a lemonade stand or guest book stand for use at weddings or other events.

“No one would have wanted this thing. But we worked with it and it’s really a cute and fun piece now,” she says.

5. You’d be surprised what a little TLC can do. If you see something that’s really beat up, give it a little tender loving care and it can come back to life. Olson found an old dresser like one her grandmother once owned. It brought back so many memories but the top of the dresser was trashed. But Olson took it and gave it new life. She found old sheet music and covered the top of the dresser in it. That piece has become the primary dresser in her master bedroom.

For more ideas on vintage decorating and baking, visit Shannon Olson’s blog at and for more information on decorating for events go to

What SheSays: How to ‘unplug’

Technology has made “cocooning,” or staying home instead of going out for entertainment, more prevalent in our society. At the same time, technology has made leaving the office behind more difficult. On this week’s episode of “What SheSays,” The Forum’s Heidi Shaffer, Tracy Briggs and Robin Huebner talk about how to unplug.

The Great Indoors: Why wedding cakes have gotten smaller and cuter

What are you going to serve your wedding guests?

Maybe you’ll opt for a traditional cake, but these days it might also be something bite sized.

Tracy Briggs catches up with Casey Steele from Love in the Oven Bakery to explain why.

Help! I’m Drowning in my Kids’ School Papers!

It happens to many parents. Your child brings so many things home from school, you’ve never quite sure what to keep for awhile, what to throw and what to save forever.

Professional Organizer Melissa Schmalenberger shares some easy tips with Tracy.

For more information about what to do with all of those school papers, check out Melissa’s blog.

5 Tips for a Fun and Stress-Free (almost) Graduation Open House

As graduates all over the region get ready to celebrate the end of their high school years, moms and dads (Okay, let’s get serious, usually mostly moms) are stressing out about how to send them off.

Years ago, graduation open houses meant a few relatives eating chips and dip and cake off a card table in the garage.

Now they’re serious business sometimes costing thousands of dollars and hours obsessing about when to have it, what to serve and who to invite.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

Professional organizer Melissa Schmalenberger tells Tracy about “5 Tips for a Fun and Stress Free Open House.”

1. Figure out what you do best and do it: So you don’t cook? You don’t scrapbook? Don’t worry about it. Have the food catered. You can even get someone to make picture boards or scrapbooks for you. If you don’t want to spend the money, find a creative friend. Just ask. Many people are willing to help. It might be their way of giving to the graduate without writing a check.

2. Take your graduate’s interests into account:
It’s easy to do what you want to do, but remember to think about what the graduate likes and doesn’t like. What are his/her interests? Serve their favorite foods, or hang up their dance costumes and soccer uniforms from the time they were 3. If your graduate isn’t very social, who says you have to have a party. Opt for a quiet dinner with family. If they have a sweet tooth, choose a dessert open house.

3. Don’t feel like it has to be at your house:
Sure, most people have their parties at home, because it’s cheap. But if you need to get the carpets cleaned or paint for your guests is it really cheaper than going somewhere else? Not to mention, the time spent away from work cooking, and cleaning to prep your house. Go to a restaurant, park or hotel. You can have a great party, then walk away and let someone else cleanup.

4. Special touches make the party:
Special touches can mean more than expensive gestures. Get M and M’s with their names on them, Use their trumpet case as a greeting card holder, have guests sign a favorite book instead guest book.

5. Don’t overdo it on food or drinks:
You might be inviting 100 people, but don’t plan on food for 100. Most of the time, your guests will have other parties to attend. They might just nibble at each of them or choose not to eat at all. Plan accordingly. Also, don’t serve alcohol and only 2-3 kinds of pop.

For more information on grad open houses go to:

The best wines for your Easter dinner

Your mom gave you her best ham recipe and Aunt Judy is bringing the green bean casserole. But what do you do about the wine?

Tracy Briggs and Brian Frank have the answers.

By: Brian Frank – Happy Harry’s

When coming up with the perfect pairing of wine to go with any meal, in this case Easter, you sometimes have to look beyond what the main course centers around, whether its turkey, ham, or beef
roast. The main reason is because if your holiday meals are anything like your family meals,there are so many more side dishes and choices to go along with the main course. These side dishes bring in an array of flavors and textures that should not be over-looked. Offering several different types of wines both red and white will satisfy the taste profiles of your complete meal and your guests will be
smiling too.

Below is a food and wine pairing guide, but like I stated above sometimes you have to look
beyond the main course and think of all the side dishes being served…

White Wines: Riesling, Chardonnay (light or no oak styles), Gewurztraminer, Vouvray
Red Wines: Rose (dry to off dry styles), Pinot Noir (lighter fruit forward styles)

Brian’s Recommendations: Ste Michelle Gewurztraminer & Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling

White Wines: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio
Red Wines: Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel (fruit forward styles)

Brian’s Recommendations: Kim Crawford Un-Oaked Chardonnay & Maso Canali Pinot Grigio

Pork Roast
White Wines: Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer
Red Wines: Pinot Noir, Chianti, Sangiovese, Merlot, Zinfandel, Beaujolais

Brian’s Recommendations: DaVinci Chianti & Mud Pie Zinfandel

Beef Roast
Red Wines: Cabernet, Bordeaux, Merlot, Zinfandel, Shiraz/Syrah, Barolo

Brian’s Recommendations: Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet & Osso Anna Merlot

Beef Tenderloin
Red Wines: Cabernet, Bordeaux, Merlot, Zinfandel, Shiraz/Syrah

Brian’s Recommendations: Joel Gott 815 Cabernet & Apothic Red Blend

Red Wines: Cotes du Rhone, Rioja, Shiraz/Syrah, Malbec, Grenache

Brian’s Recommendations: Las Rocas Garnacha & Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone

Lasagna / Spaghetti
White Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, White Bordeaux
Red Wines: Chianti, Sangiovese, Barbera

Brian’s Recommendations: Terra d’Oro Barbera & Santa Cristina Sangiovese

White Wines: Moscato d’Asti, Sparkling Asti, Champagne (demi- Sec style), Muscat, Sauternes, Sherry
Red Wines: Port (ruby, tawny, or vintage)

Brian’s Recommendations: Lazurro Moscato d’Asti & Hardys Whiskers Blake Tawny Port