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A Week With Segreto and Book Give-A-Way!!

 I am giving a-way a signed copy of my book this week to say thank you to all my sweet blog followers! Just "like" Segreto Finishes on Facebook to enter!! 

I get asked so often "What projects are you working on? What are you doing right now that you just love!?", so I wanted to share a bit of what we've been doing lately. I've tried to take some before and afters so you can follow me along throughout the process. I have learned my strength is not photography!!  Hope you enjoy!

We were recently asked how best to tone down this existing fireplace so that it blends in with the room. While the home was absolutely beautiful as is, the homeowners were hoping for a more updated look that mixes their antiques with some contemporary elements.  After painting this two-story room full of carved moldings BM White Dove, the fireplace looked a bit out of place and needed some adjusting.  Tammy Michaelis, who headed up the interior changes, called us in.

This is a side view of the two story fireplace before - it has lots of wonderful carvings, but it looks a bit too new to be consistent with the new décor.

Here is the sample that we did! You can see how it compares to before by looking at the back tile. The front mantle piece has a chalky finish that's been mixed with grays for that dusty, older look that Tammy wanted. The stone behind next to the wall is still in its original state.  Notice that the added white helps mesh the stone with the white walls! 

The final fireplace truly looked like it has been aged over time!!

The second fireplace we did for sweet Tammy was in the den.  The mantle was a very new looking shiny orangey color and we distressed it and added gray glazes over it to give it character and patina. Love that paint can alter so many pieces, making them work in a new design scheme!

In the process of building her dream New Orleans-inspired house, this homeowner fell in love with the black and white tile in her oh-so-handsome, new master bath!

She wanted to use the same tile for this entrance way, but it wouldn't work as it would result in a different flooring height than that of the surrounding rooms.  The homeowner enlisted our help to paint over the installed wood and give her the black and white checkered floors she wanted.

We also decided to paint a star design in this little vestibule to create a transition! Here are my boys at work!!!

I like the tiny detail of the thin, pinstriped line that follows the molding.   It looks so much more finished than running the squares all the way to the trim.

I adore the finished product here!  It opened up the space, making it feel both larger and more interesting!! Thanks, Ingrid, for letting us paint your floors!

Of course we plastered many rooms as this one shown in the book by architectural consultant Sarah West.  During the week I got an exciting call from a European distributer Paulsen-Buchimport who is going to carry the book.  Now my friends from across the seas don't have to pay such high shipping rates!!! I am so honored to have been contacted by them!!  Please visit their website for more information.

We had finished this home a time ago for one of our sweet clients, Melinda.  After living there awhile, she decided to make this cabinet look more like a custom French furniture piece by adding some decorative elements and tying in the different colors in the room. 

We created a hand-drawn pattern for her and then began painting the design, incorporating the colors of her drapes.


Here is the finished product! So pretty!

In the breakfast nook, Melinda always felt like it was missing something.  Pulling the colors from the cabinet, we painted a stenciled panel to pull the room together and add definition to the space.

Then, on to her bedroom... Melinda loved the size and scale of this piece that she had moved from her previous home, but she didn't think the dark stained finish complemented the beautiful, new room.  I thought lightening it up and using a bit of the blues from the fabrics would totally change the feel of the room not just the piece.

 What a difference this textured finish in soft greige and blue tones has made!! But we didn't stop there...

Notice the beginnings of a hand-painted design! Many antique French painted pieces have the hardware painted as well. This is a great, inexpensive way to update the hardware without replacing it.

 We started a sketch of what I was thinking and got the green light to paint!

I loved how it pulled together the blues and florals in the room!

Here is the finished piece - it's almost unreconizable from the original mahogany finish.

"Oops, before you leave could you...."  Another project - we took the oh-so-new looking mirror and gave it century-old character.

The little details and multiple layers really make a big difference!

 Melinda changed the red from the back of the cabinets to grasscloth--looks great! (sorry about the pic) Later we are going to work on the wall finish!

The last space was the daughter's room, starting with the four poster bed which was formerly stained!  To soften the look, we painted and antiqued it in a subtle blue.

It looks so beautiful with her shabby chic bedding!

This chair, pulled from another part of the home, was left over and placed in the corner of this room.  Stained a shiny mahogany, we transformed the piece by priming, painting, and glazing it to match its new surroundings and fabrics.

I love the way this finish looks on carvings - it really brings them out!!!

My last stop of the week was for a client I have been working with for the last 14 years!. I went to pick and exterior shutter color for them and talk about a piece of furniture we were going to paint. Look at the sweet gift I left with!  The packaging was as special as the yummy chocolate chip cookies inside.  I love how she used a coffee bag for the treats decorated with a label and fun ribbon!! These would made great gifts!!!  I hope you liked seeing just a few of the jobs we worked on last week!  Don't forget to scroll up and like Segreto Finishes on Facebook on the right side of the blog for a chance to win a free copy of the book, then leave a comment of a project you would like to do in your own home.   If you have already liked Segreto Finishes then share the blog with a friend and leave a comment!!  Good luck to the winner!!   I'm off to California for a project this week and a little vaca.... Till next Monday! xo  Leslie





Elegant Country French

Hope your summer is going well!  This week we have a real treat - an update on a gorgeous home I did with designer extraordinaire Rita Kissner.  Based in Houston, this talented lady has been designing interiors for the last 40 years! Rita first helped this cute couple on their home 25 years ago, right after their marriage.  Rita's son was best friends with the groom. Throughout their marriage, the current home has made many evolutions, and this most recent one is simply stunning!!!

The basic bones of the entryway were left untouched.  But to update the look of this English Tudor home, we plastered the walls and ceiling and painted the trim to match (BM OC-7). The beautiful wrought iron balustrade was added along with the antique mirror from Joyce Horn Antiques - the only newly added accessory. Rita LOVES plaster as much as I do: "the depth of the plaster throughout the house authenticates an old world feel and brings life to a house that once seemed more stoic."

The living room and dining room, still lovely with their layered fabrics and patterns, remain the same as when Rita worked her magic 10 years ago.

I've always believed that if you still love it, there's no reason to change it. It's best to focus your attention on spaces that seem dated or don't suit your current style.

In the den, adding some plaster to the ceiling gave the room a lift without having to change the furnishings or the previous finishes. The way the plaster reflects the light really helps these 8 foot ceilings gain height!

The kitchen and den area previously had a heavier, fauxed look on the walls and white paint on the ceilings.  By plastering these surfaces in the same color as in the entrance, hallways, wine room, and den ceiling brought a more contiguous feel to the home.  Rita did a fabulous job not only editing the accessories that Bill and Suzanne had collected over time but also adding a few more antique porcelains to their collection.  She created an art wall above the beams to lend that country French charm and provide additional space to display their beautiful pieces.

 A true testament to classic design, the majority of this room's furnishings were done 13 years ago.

With the subtle plaster finish on the walls and ceilings and the pared down accessories, a whole new level of sophistication is achieved.

 So fun to see my book being enjoyed on this coffee table/ottoman!!

Although he left most of the design decisions up to Rita and Suzanne, Bill was heavily involved in the creation of this charming wine room. Martha Bute drew the plans to change a large powder bath and small hallway into this phenomenal wine cellar, powder combo. Contractor Mike Russell implemented the entire new renovation brilliantly. Chateau Domingue was their first stop to find inspiration for the room - the reclaimed stone counters!  The wood was all antique, but we stained and finished it to fit the character of the space. The walls, of course, are plaster.

This wrought iron door from Peck and Company was formerly an antique grate - what a perfect entrance!  And the gorgeous, wooden door, purchased at the fair in Round Top, Texas, leads to a powder bath. Love the fireback hung on the wall!!!

What a great transformation!!  All the elements mingle together to create that old-world feel - the chest and mirror was from Tara Shaw in New Orleans, the sink from Chateau Domingue, and the sconces from Palmer, a lighting company out of California!! 

The hallway from the wine room now leads to a study off the bedroom. For that warm, furniture look on the new bookcases, we started with a paint base of SW 7066 and then did a series of glazes.  I love how Rita incorporated Bill's favorite chair and accessorized with this fab trunk and wonderful rug!

The bedroom - still in progress - is turning out positively dreamy!  The crown molding was removed so the plaster envelopes the room and lifts the ceilings.  The existing beautiful bed was paired with this new cozy chair and the wonderful antique mirror from Joyce Horn Antiques.

The master bath is truly exquisite!!!! Starting with this solid marble tub that Suzanne had fallen in love with and the full slab Calcutta Marble floors from Olympus Marble, Rita quickly made this space full of glamour. The Louis Felipe Mirrors from Joyce Horne Antiques and an Atlanta showroom create the illusion of a larger room. The mirrored front cabinets, from a showroom in Tennessee, are a perfect way to mix the old with the new.

The detail in the stonework is exceptional - kudos to Olympus Marble!!!  We finished the room off with the same old-style plaster but then polished it for a sleeker look. Love the antique chair Rita added to the space - it makes the bathroom feel like a retreat!

From the linen chair to the counters, floors and cabinetry, this is really an extraordinary bathroom. Amazing job, Rita and Suzanne!!

But the renovation doesn't stop there!  The homeowners' youngest daughter also got a new room! Bill loves the storybook feel of the architecture of homes in Carmel, so he had Mike build this wonderful entrance for their 12 year-old's suite.  We finished the wood and overhang to fit the look - so unique and just full of charm!

These closets in the hallway are great - I love the design, chicken wire and paint finish!

A room fit for a princess - it will last through college and after!  I would love this room for me!!! We plastered the walls and ceiling to add warmth and suit the shabby chic, French country style Rita created with the furnishings.

The same plaster is carried into the bathroom.  I adore the Calcutta tile, as well as the wonderful mirror from Joyce Horn Antiques and the reclaimed sink from Chateau Domingue. Just beautiful!!!

Before you go, one more look at this beautiful bedroom.  Rita did an outstanding job creating a lovely space for Audrey to enjoy now and grow into for years to come!

Just had to show this corness from Joyce Horn Antiques that Rita installed in the guest room.  She built the mattress and storage underneath into this niche-like area. Love the drapes with the button detail! Rita, you did such an amazing job on this house!  How fun it was to be a part of this project with you, Suzanne and Bill.  It's a great showcase of how classic design can hold up through the trends. Updating and adding doesn't mean you have to start from scratch in all areas!!!

Thank you so much to Julie and Danni of the blog T&G.  these two Interior designers do such a great job on their blog and I am so thankful they did such a great write up on Segreto Finishes and the book!!  Take a peak at their site you'll love it!!!!!  Have a great week everyone! xo  Leslie

To purchase “Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors” on our website, click here or to purchase through Amazon, click here. To Subscribe to Segreto Blog, click here.To follow Segreto Finishes on Facebook, click here.



It's All About Blue

Thank you to Autumn of Design Dump for writing a review of the book showing her favoirte pics!  She has great new products that she is constantly reviewing and giving her list of superstars!  Please give her a look!! Thanks for that Autumn you have really saved me alot of leg work.

Hope everyone has a happy July 4th!  I should write about red, white and blue, but, from what I've seen latley it seems to be all about blue. We can't seem to get enough! And though it appears to be the trend of the day, blue has been a favorite for centuries.


Both men and women largely prefer blue to other colors. It seems absolutely irresistible in today's interiors! Seen as dependable, trustworthy, and committed, blue can have a lovely, peaceful effect on a room. 

Used in both traditional and eclectic interiors, it is perceived as a constant in our lives - the color of the sky and the water. In fact, blue, blue-green, and green are sacred colors in Iran, where these tones symbolize paradise.


This charming garden area, designed by Lisa Luby Ryan and Arteriors, achieves that soft French blue we all crave.


President Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, started a fashion sensation in the United States with her azure blue gowns. As a result, the term "Alice Blue" was coined.


This trend in fashion has continued, as seen in this beautiful Versace gown.


Blue is one of the cooler colors in landscape design, bringing a soothing element to the garden. Blue plants visually recede, helping to make a small space appear larger. 


Indigo, as illustrated in this captivating painting by French artist Yves Klein, symbolizes a mystical borderland of wisdom, self-mastery, and spiritual realization. While blue is seen as the color of outward communication, indigo turns the blue inward to increase personal thought, profound insights, and instant understandings.


This room from famed designer Linda Banks was shown in its entirety on the blog Willow Decor. Painting ceilings in blue not only warms up a room, but it also treats the fifth wall, adding an interesting, finished look. 

Porch ceilings are wonderful in shades of blue, as shown in this one by Herlong Architects. This treatment is thought to ward off evil spirits and keep your home safe from harm... Perhaps this superstition stems from Greek times when the color blue was believed to ward off "the evil eye". Those who believe in this often wear a blue charm necklace or blue bracelet for protection. Unfortunately, when used on porches, it is said to attract mosquitoes.  The blog Design Chic shows some of their favorites here


Blue has always been a favorite amongst royalty. The most costly blue was obtained by crushing lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone that was commonly used in paintings of a religious nature and frescoes during the Renaissance. The highest quality ultramarine blue is made with powdered lapis lazuli from Afghanistan.


I have always adored this French-inspired romantic kitchen painted by artist Michael Dute. Who wouldn't love this painted ceiling!? 

We did a champaign hand-painted design on top of the palest shade of blue plaster for designer Talbot Cooley. Warm and inviting this family of 5 has loved eating and entertaining in this romantic room.

Shades of blue are a perfect choice for kitchens! This blue gray cabinetry we glazed for designer Tami Owen has been an all-time favorite for me. Maybe it's such a popular choice because the use of blue has been proven to be effective in treating addictions, eating disorders, and depression, making this heart of the home a happy place!!


If you've never incorporated blue in your home, you could add a few fun hints, like this tablecloth, to see if you like it!  Research suggests that if you eat on blue plates, you're less likely to overeat! I wonder if a tablecloth would do the same...



“If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue.”-- Paul Gauguin 

I saw a post on The Red Vault about a color personality test from REAL SIMPLE... so fun! You could take it and find out which colors fit your personality. It was no surprise to me that blue was mine—see all the blue accents I have used in my own home!

Hope you've enjoyed this display of the color blue, which calms, cools and relaxes us!  I certainly need the cool here - it's been over 100 every day!!!  Let me hear how the color blue affects you! Have a great week!! xo  Leslie

To purchase “Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors” on our website, click here or to purchase through Amazon, click here.

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Reclaiming the Past - Chateau Domingue

Today I wanted to take you on a shopping trip to one of my favorite Houston stores, Chateau Domingue, and introduce you - if you don't already know her - to one inspirational woman, Ruth Gay. Juggling the roles of wife, mother of three and entrepreneur, she has developed an amazing business bringing unique European and reclaimed elements to the states. Growing up in Europe as a missionary's daughter and having a mother of European heritage, Ruth always appreciated the area's history, beautiful architecture and its century-old flooring, tiles, mantles, stones and furnishings.

On my visit, I ran into Houston designer Cindy Witmer, who was meeting with her client to pick out flooring and mantles. Chateau Domingue, known to be one of the top sources for European reclaimed building materials is a 15,000 square foot warehouse tucked away on 3415 West Alabama Street.   Ruth took over a space formerly owned by Dorner Plastering, one of Houston’s premier old-style lath and plaster companies. It is so appropriate that Ruth now has the space of a company that once plastered the walls of Houston's historic residences! Marian Saylors is the most knowledgeable plasterer I have ever known. Now in his 80's, he was my guardian angel when I first got into the plaster business!!!

When Ruth and her husband, Jack, renovated their home, they wanted to incorporate the charm and historical elements that she so much adored in Europe. They grew frustrated though once they discovered how hard these pieces were to find in the states.

Thus, her business was born! With the modernization of Europe, Ruth is able to scout out and bring back amazing finds to the US that we would otherwise not be able to easily acquire! For those not shopping in Houston, she now has an online store!!


This is one of my all-time favorite homes that Segreto's worked on (featured on pages 110-119 of my book) All of the reclaimed elements from Chateau Domingue infuse it with such character and authenticity. From the fireplaces to the old stone and brick materials, this space is a true European Inspiration!

Ruth carries the most wonderful selection of stone, concrete and porcelain antique tiles. I have seen them as the centerpiece of so many beautiful bathrooms, kitchens and patios that I have worked in!!


In this space, designer Cindy Whitmer used these charming, old French concrete tiles from Chateau Domingue to dictate the character of this quaint powder bath!! (See the rest of this French Style home on pages 22-31 in my book.)


Here is a great example of how designer Janet Gust made a little can go a long way!  Simply inserting a few of these wonderful concrete tiles made a beautiful impact on this gorgeous kitchen in which Segreto glazed the cabinets!

They have an equally large selection of old flooring - the warehouse boasts a lovely selection!

I love how Kara Childress used these old stone pieces from Chateau Domingue as counters to transform this renovated kitchen! (This home is also featured in the book on pages 80-87.)

Here is another selection of reclaimed flooring. It was so hard to stay focused with the beautiful iron gates fountains, furnishings and garden elements surrounding me!!

Wow!! I adore this display of what a powder could look like! From the flooring to the amazing gold antique marble basin to the lighting, it's just breathtaking. I think the concept of hanging a mirror over a mirror (and in this case over another mirror) is brilliant!!

Can you imagine this wonderful wall built into your home!?! I wonder where the door originally lead to - everything here has a great story behind it!

Ruth travels to Europe 6 times a year visiting France, Italy, and Belgium with occasional trips to Spain, England Sweden and Holland. She carries art, furnishings and look - even dishes! - anything that she finds unique, one-of-a-kind and full of charm!

These old portraits are wonderful!! I'm always curious about who these people were. What were their lives like?  Whose mother, sister or brother were they?

Ruth also sells lovely things for the garden that really brings the feel of Europe outside. She recently has created beautiful inspiring gardens in her warehouse yard! I love how she planted in between the stepping stones!!!

Just beautiful! Whether you are installing a fountain, constructing a pool house, or just buying a pot to lend a bit of character to the garden - this touch of century-old antique really creates a certain mood that new just can't.

Then, there is the outside warehouse - this has to be my favorite part! It's so fascinating to walk through the rows of old stone basins, reclaimed doors and wonderful statues.  It’s almost like I am there in France at a flea market searching for my perfect find!!!


Ruth, who has such a passion for what she does, has transformed her own home (above featured in May-June 2011 issue of Veranda) using reclaimed elements.  With the help of designer Pam Pierce, she has created an enchanting chateau for herself and her family that is full of warmth and character.  It was so fun to work with them both on this project!

Look how cute Ruth is here, featured in a September 2008 article from Thank you, Ruth, and your entire wonderful staff for the amazing tour of your one of a kind shop, Chateau Domingue!! I am constantly amazed by you and your dedication to following your passions, while being a wonderful wife and mother, as well as a generous gal who gives to others and her community.  Thank you for bringing a bit of Europe to our homes!

Thank you as well to Nancy of the MARCUS DESIGN blog for a great review of the book!  I have been following this cute young blogger for years!!  She has a great eye and fresh commentary.  Check her out and have a wonderful week!!  xo  Leslie


To purchase “Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors” on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To Subscribe to Segreto Blog click here.

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Nantucket Charm

I had such a fun time working with homeowners Stacey and Gene on their newly purchased 4500 sq ft home!  The cute couple loved the location and bones of this lovely house, built in 1994 and designed by architect Jay Baker, but wanted to make it their own. Though they chose to do the design work themselves, they hired the fab builder, Patti Barnett, who had built their last home, to help with the remodel and construction. Stacey felt that Patti's incredible eye for design and detail would be the perfect fit for this new project.

This house, with its freshly painted exterior, is so charming! It reminds me of Nantucket architecture - a style we don't see too much of in Houston.

Stacey added the shutters, and we gave them an old world, blue glazed finish for extra charm.  When applying a special finish to an exterior surface, it's important to finish the sides and backs and then put three coats of sealer on top. In a place like Houston where it is so hot and humid, a new coat of sealer needs to be reapplied once a year.

This is the entrance way when Stacey and Gene first purchased the home.

Wow, look at the transformation! The new floors and double door really make a big difference.  I love the lighting from Brown and the large sliding barn door which we finished in a neutral Frenchy color.  This is a beautiful, decorative way to close off the kitchen area to which the door leads. We plastered the walls and ceiling throughout the main part of the house - the reflection is really beautiful with all the natural light the homeowners get. Looks like Max, their 8 year-old Westie, really loves the new decor as well!!

This dining room, photographed with the previous owners' furnishings, is certainly beautiful but not quite the style that Stacey wanted for herself! The room was very dark, so Stacey opened it up by removing two walls and then creating a half wall with pillars.

Now, this gorgeous space is flooded with natural light from the East. "The result is a happy room," says Miss Stacey!!!  She used the furniture from her previous dining room, which she still loves, and is searching for the right chandelier. I think she'll know the second she sees it... It's always so fun to shop for that last perfect piece!  

This is the living room before!

And here it is after! I really love how light and fresh the space is!  Using for the large part existing furnishings, most of the changes to this room were cosmetic- plastering the walls and ceilings and opening up the space from the living room to the bar.

This is the bar before.

Here is the new one!! The cabinetry is divine, and I again love the fixture, salvaged from an old hotel in Belgium, that Stacey found at Brown. The brick backsplash was probably the most economical change that the couple made to the home. Stacey had purchased some beautiful, handmade damask tiles for this area, but once the cabinets were complete, she realized that the tiles weren't going to work. Patti suggested these inexpensive, thin tiles that just look incredible! The bar tiles that were originally slated for the space will be used in the upstairs master once they renovate. I wish I had taken a close up of the inset wine label tiles - they are actual wine labels that Susie Atkins, owner of ADR, helped make into tiles. She even had the artist create a roman numeral tile with the date that Stacey and Gene purchased the home.

The cabinets were distressed and painted giving character to the space!

Here is a look back down the hallway between the entrance and the kitchen.  The wonderful light that pours in through the windows along the house is what originally made Stacey fall in love with the home!

Here is the original kitchen - get ready for a wow!

I absolutely love all the changes that were done here - it was so well thought out in every aspect, from the layout to the design and functionality of the kitchen. The stove, a French La Cornue in pebble gray, was the inspiration for everything in the room! Stacey says this French masterpiece cooks and functions even better than it looks!!! The marble is honed Statuary Marble from Walker Zanger, the perfect choice for this French-inspired kitchen.

Even after being married for 9 years, Stacey and Gene are so sentimental. The island incorporates Gene's family butcher block, which has been integrated into every house they've owned.  We put the finishing touch to the island, applying a textured finish and creating a distressed top to complement the family heirloom. We hand-scraped the fir beams to evoke age, character and charm!

This is the before pic of the den which is directly across from the kitchen.

This is the after!!  Can't you just see Stacy and Gene starting a leisurely morning with a cappuccino, a favorite magazine and the Today Show!  Though the den serves primarily for movie watching, Stacey is a fantastic cook and loves to turn on the TV and follow along with Barefoot Contessa. I love the color combo of the orange and gray blue, and I think the use of 4 chairs rather than a couch is a great idea for this space.  Stacey agrees, "In my experience, couches are really only good for two person sitting on each end of the sofa! So having the four chairs for this cozy den just made more sense to me." These great club chairs from Roche Bobois have held up with the two dogs and the occasional spilled beverage.

The den cabinets are Stacey's design! "Gene is a big audio/video buff, so I had to create something that would house a large TV and a center speaker.  I also wanted a place to display my antique school books and Staffordshire dog collection which my mother-in-law started for me several years ago."  I think Stacey has a future in cabinet design - these are beautiful!!  Segreto textured and glazed these as well. 

Prepare to see a big change to this laundry room!

OMGoodness, I want to move in!!! Chris Lewis helped with the plans for this dream utility room, and Patti and Stacey picked all the cabinet styles and finishes. The tile, floors and backsplash from ADR make the space feel so special.

We can't leave the house without seeing the powder room!!  This was the before pic.

Here is the after! "I kind of have a thing for powder baths," smiles Stacey! "I always think that they should be beautiful and offer something unexpected." An oval window was added to allow for natural light, the antique chest from Vieux Interiors was topped with Jerusalem stone, and the sconces are a charming addition from Brown. Stacey wanted a Gracie-inspired mural with a softer, older touch to it.  We handpainted the design over a plaster wall to create the beautiful faded effect.

How cute are these two! Max and Miles really enjoyed giving the tour of their gorgeous new home!  Stacey, you, Gene and Patti did such a wonderful job on all the details and decisions!  What a fun project this was for me to work on!!!

Thank you to Donna from A Perfect Gray Blog for writing such a great review of the book!  I knew I would love to follow her blog cause I love the name!! Take a peak she is filled with great ideas!!  Thanks again Donna!  I hope everyone has a great week!!  xo  Leslie