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Unexpected Cleaners!!!

I have been reading so much on Pinterest on natural ways to better clean your home. I searched the blogosphere and pulled some of my favorite to share!



Rub it on dulled copper, rinse with water, and polish clean with a soft rag.



Douse the spot with white wine and blot with a clean rag to absorb the spill.


Just slice open a lemon, rub the lemon on the faucet and rinse!



Hydrogen Peroxide, a magical cleaner!!

Wonderful for cleaning windows, mirrors, toilets and bathtubs, replace the cap with a spray bottle head but keep the liquid in its dark container or it will lose its powers!! Just spray on and wait 30 seconds for the streaking to go away and for your windows or mirrors to sparkle!

It also is the best fountain cleaner of all time. Green, murky fountain water will transform to crystal clear in 24 hours. Because hydrogen peroxide turns into oxygen within 24 hours its safe for the wildlife!



Before you begin, double check that the bottle of hydrogen peroxide is a 3% solution. Anything higher and you've accidentally stumbled into purchasing industrial strength and it is NOT safe for your mouth. As with most things teeth related, check with your dentist (because I'm not one) before letting children under the age of 12 use this solution and discontinure if you experience any discomfort or redness in your gums. There are all the same warnings you'll find on any theeth whitening product.

  1. Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste
  2. Rinse with a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide for 30-60 seconds. There are dilution directions on the bottle, but is is usually half water and half hydrogen peroxide. When the hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with your mouth, a chemical reaction will take place and it will begin to foam. Start by swishing with a small amount so you don't end up foaming at the mouth and scare your roommates into thinking you have a plague.
  3. Spit out the rinse, do not swallow hydrgoren peroxide
  4. Don't eat or drink for 30 minutes
  5. Again, I am not a dentist, but according to my dentist (who is, in fact, a dentist), if you follow the previous directions this can be done every day.
  • For whiter whites, add one cup of hydrgoen peroxide to a load of white laundry
  • To prevent wilting, spray a mixture of 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 cup water on lettuce, drain, cover and refrigerate
  • Kill weeds by spraying with hydrogen peroxide


Clean the grout on your floors!!

Here are two cleaner recipes for cleaning very dirty floors!

  1.  1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap, 1/4 cup baking soda, 2 gallons tap water, very warm
  2. 7 cups water, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup vinegar for-the-home



 Its smells heavenly, and avoids exposure to toxic chemicals



Clean your silver!!

Line your sink with aluminum foil, add 1/2 cup table salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, fill with hot water. Put in all your silver and let sit for 30 minutes, while the tarnish transfers to the foil!


Protect your marble!!

Clapham's Salad Bowl Finish- typically used as a food-safe coating on unfinished wood- adds luster to honed marble and granite, and boosts their resistance to water spots. Its butter-like beeswax formula is easy to apply. About $20 for 8 ounces.

 I am busy trying these tips at my house!!  Let me know how they work for you!!!Till next Monday!! xo  Leslie

Come see us at the Segreto Boutique!!! 1414 Antoine m-f 9-5. Unmarked house across from St Regis School!!!


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A House Update!

Well my house is really moving along! With my dream team of Newberry Campa Architects , Goodchild Builders  and architectural consultant Sarah West, my master suite area is really taking shape!!!

I found this picture of the master bath when we purchased the house in 1987! 

 Here is how we changed it way back then! What you can't see is the shower across from the tub.  We tore down a linen closet and made it into a shower so the shower was very very small.

At a later date we built on a Master closet addition behind the doors and made the old small master closet into this sitting area in the bathroom!

Our house was built in the late 60's and our old pipes started bursting so we had to replace them all leading to a master bath redo!!! Tired of a very small tub and shower, we hired Ken Newberry and his team of Will and Gina from  Newberry Campa Architects to help us out! The bathroom was gutted and the three small areas it previously held was made into one larger space.


Here is the new Jason tub from Acero Bella, which is where the sitting area used to be. Ken wanted a window there looking out to gardens lending the illusion that the space was larger and allowing more natural light to flow in.  This would have been beautiful, but my husband who is so concerned about break-ins didn't want exterior access to this part of the house.  Soooooo... I found this wonderful piece at Joyce Horn Antiques. I posted on Facebook should I put a mirror there, hand a painting, leave it as is or paint something decorative on it.  What do ya'll think?  I hope I can keep those open shelves (not yet painted) neat!! 

Here is my inspiration picture which is a piece from Tara Shaw for my sink cabinets.  Remember the beautiful mirrors which I found from Mitra Kilburn at Marburger Farms Antique Show, I thought they would look amazing over pieces like this. 

With the mirrors hung, faucets installed, walls plastered and counters on, I was getting excited!!! Now for the paint!

Here is Jerry, my head cabinet guy putting up the samples, and the finished sample. 

With the paper pulled off the floors and the counters, I could really start envisioning the space.  I did change my faucets which I had posted in the original blog on my house. These mirrors were so large that I had to drop my counters to 34 inches and there was no space for wall mount faucets!  I love these French Gold, New Port Brass Victoria faucets I purchased from Acero Bella, the marble from Walker Zanger fabricated by Olympus Marble and Granite, and floors from Materials Marketing. The old faucets are for sale at a great price!!!!!!!!!!!

Opposite of the sink vanities is a dressing table for me! I loved this piece of furniture from Niermann Weeks and used it as my inspiration. 

Goodchild Builders  did an amazing job building the pieces-now for the paint!!

Here is Ricki, one of my furniture refinishing guys working on the piece. It’s not done yet, but I'm loving the gold accents. Any ideas on sconces?

Because the space has a lot of elements in it I didn't want to visually break it up with marble tiles in the shower.  Instead we plastered it with a water proof plaster.  All the walls and ceilings are coated with the same material!!  All I need now is the glass!  Note to all. The finish on the hardware that I purchased is not available on handles and brackets needed to install the shower doors.  I am having to re-plate them which is an additional cost.  Same with the drain.

Stay tuned for more updates, there is lots going on around my home!!  Til next week!!  xo  Leslie

What's new at the shop!!!!


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Where Once Were Cows 

I found this article in the New York Times about a renovated farmhouse and barn in southern Germany that was turned into a family home and wanted to share it with all of you! This couple, a fashion texile producer and actress, bought the home for $857,000 and spend about $612,000 on the renovation, which was achieved in just 9 months. Hope you enjoy the home as much as I did! Photographs by Benjamin Antomy Monn and written by Nick Amies.


In the town of Moorenweis, in southern Germany, there are a number of imposing Alpine-style chalets. But the house that Michael and Bernadette Schnabl chose to make their own was a 19th-century Bavarian farmhouse that they integrated a rundown barn on the property.

Instead of feeling cold or cavernous, said Mr. Schnabl,38, the 3,100-square-foot home he shares with his wife and children, Josephiner 4, and Julian, 6, is surprising cozy. "Every person has their own area, we can meet in different rooms."

The farmhouse's attic was opened up to create a loft space, and the wooden beams were exposed and sandblasted.

Inside, the aestheticis modern and the furnishings are spare.

A living space in the renovated catthle barn.

Throughout the barn and the farmhouse, modern elements like a black steel staircase stand in contrast to the white walls and light floor.

Ornate wrought-iron grilles protect the farmhouse's original doors and window frames.

The minimalist kitchen epitomizes the traditional- farmhouse-with-a-modern-twist aesthetic.

In the adjoining dining area, a chandelier by Louis Poulsen hangs over a steel-and-pine table.

A black steel ladder leads to a sleeping area in what was once the attic space of the farmhouse.

A bathroom in the old barn is outfitted with a Keramag tub and Villerory & Boch sinks.

From the outside, the farm house retains its original appearance.

Hope you enjoyed this unique home! We can't wait to show you all the beautiful renovations in our new book-sneak peak of the cover next post! Until next week!!!  XO Leslie


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Segreto Goes to Boca Grande Florida!!!

Being so busy in Houston, it is rare that we accept a job out of state! When a designer/client Kathy Johnson with KB Designs asked us to go to Boca Grande Florida to help restore a 1920’s Spanish style home it was just too hard to say no. I was so charmed by this town, with its architecture, beautiful beaches and historical homes that I wanted to share a bit about this little gem tucked away in Florida. It will be my next family vacation spot.


The Historic Village of Boca Grande is on the island of Gasparilla, known for its quaint downtown, sugar sand beaches, blue water and world class fishing. Located at the southern tip of the Cape Haze Peninsula on Florida’s Southwest Coast midway between Sarasota and Ft. Myers, this lush barrier island has been blessed with seven miles of powdery white beaches and cerulean waters—the colors of the ocean one would typically find in the Caribbean.


Known for fishing and shelling, the shoreline is both pristine and productive and contains one of the most enriched ecosystems in the world.




Boca Grande’s 2nd Street, also known as Banyan Street, is lined with century-old banyan trees.


These trees which reminded me of the tree of life in Disney Land are natural works of art!!!!


Where to stay!!!!!!!!!!!!

Originally built to appeal to wealthy Northerners who could go anywhere, The Gasparilla Inn & Club is one of Florida's last remaining exclusive family-owned Gilded Age resorts. This establishment is even listed as a National Historic Landmark and among the Historic Hotels of America! Walking through the Inn’s pillared entrance and into the lobby, you experience the feeling of Florida as it was meant to be. Guests are instantly embraced with the tranquil civility of a time that once was.  A premier destination on Florida’s Gulf Coast since 1913, It offers 137 rooms, suites, and cottages in a pristine environment at the tip of Boca Grande Island. Owned by the William S. Farish Jr. family, The Inn has had many notable guests throughout its storied history, including Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, Katharine Hepburn, the George H.W. Bush family as well as members of the DuPont family.


Accommodations are located in vernacular cottages surrounding the property extending from 250-slip waterfront marina to the championship Pete Dye Golf Course golf course to the beach front cabana club and tennis courts.

The Resort's Decor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love the Florida style décor which has remained in the same style for the generations of annual visitors have been able to call home for family gatherings.






 Picture source 


Boca Grande’s wonderful architecture……………


 The house we were working on was designed by Frances Burrall Hoffman Jr., who is best known for his design of Vizcaya, the Biscayne Bay mansion of industrialist James Deering.




Hoffman, from an affluent New York family, was born in New Orleans and spent the early years of his life on a plantation in Louisiana.  Graduating from Harvard he enrolled the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, then the preeminent architectural training program in the world.  Having homes in Europe and New York, he left his mark on Boca Grande.


In 1938 Hoffman designed the Cowperthwaits' house for his brother, William Wickham Hoffman a New York Banker. Being located in the town's historic district, the main house was designed with a high-ceiling in the second-floor living room, now the master bedroom.



 I love the ceiling in the den  and living rooms with the hand stenciling!  What a beautiful room to take in the beach views!!!


Built in 1940 the Shaw House has two separate wings separated by a central courtyard and connected by a covered walkway. These lovely pale aqua shutters have become our inspiration for the home we are working on.


Hoffman designed a Southwest Santa Fe-inspired compound in 1938 for Mrs. Michael Van Beuren, the daughter of Standard Oil president John D. Archbold. What an entrance!!!!

Hoffman's Renaissance-styled chapel was the first Catholic Church on the island! A small bell tower rises above the Spanish oak doorway.


I love the plaque which is right outside the door!!


Another beautiful home, the Crowninshield studio, was designed in 1927 by Albert Ely Ives for Francis B. Crowninshield and his wife, Louise DuPont. Tarpon fishing aficionados, the Crowninshields first bought a beach front cottage before World War I. They rapidly were joined by other  DuPont family members and Boston friends.




The town is pristine, clean, quiet and has a charisma all of its own.


I fell in love with this home which we are helping to restore at first glance!  Its charm and beautiful beach side views created a magical work environment.   I hope you enjoyed the fun tour of my new favorite town!!!  Stay tuned for progress pictures of this historical home's revival.  Till next week!  Xo Leslie


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Red White and Blue!!!!

This 4th of July, in celebration of our Declaration of Independence, We have some dynamite recipes to try!!!


 Drinks to start!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


 Source recipe from here

Drinks for the kids!!!  Not only does this drink fit the  star spangled banner theme, but involving your kids in making them will give your kids a science lesson on how liquids separate!!!! Make sure to add ice with each layer; it helps with the separation. And if you’re supermom, make star-shaped ice cubes!!

4th of July Kiddie Mocktails
Adapted from Family Fun. Makes 1 12-ounce (tall) glass. 

3 ounces fruit punch
3 ounces blue Gatorade (not sugar-free)
3 ounces
 diet 7-Up or Sprite (must be sugar-free; so diet only)

Fill glass 1/3 full with ice cubes. Pour fruit punch almost (but not quite) to top of ice cubes. Fill another 1/3 with ice cubes and slowly pour blue Gatorade almost to top of cubes. Fill final 1/3 ice cubes and slowly pour sugar-free Sprite. Add straw and voila!

Time for the main course!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Whiskey Barrel Burgers

 These mouthwatering hamburgers taste even better with the addition of a juicy whiskey-cheddar filling. Prepare them the night before for a 20-minute grilled dinner solution.


2/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1/3 cup whiskey
¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon seasoned salt or garlic salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
8 lettuce leaves
8 red onion slices
8 red and/or yellow tomato slices
8 kaiser rolls or onion hamburger buns, split and toasted
½ cup barbecue sauce


The day before:

1.   In a large bowl combine green onions, whiskey, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, melted butter, garlic, seasoned salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Add ground beef and ground pork; mix well. Shape meat mixture into sixteen 1/2-inch-thick patties. Place 1 tablespoon of the Cheddar-Whiskey Filling on the center of each of eight of the patties (reserve remaining filling). Top with the remaining eight patties; pinch edges together to seal. In a storage container layer patties between sheets of waxed paper; cover and chill overnight.    

Party day:

2.  For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above pan. Place patties on grill rack over drip pan. Cover and grill for 10 minutes. Turn patties; cover and grill for 5 minutes. Top each patty with 1 tablespoon of the remaining filling. Cover and grill about 5 minutes more or until done (160 degrees F). (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust for indirect grilling and grill as above.)

3.  Spread bottoms of rolls with barbecue sauce; top with burgers, lettuce, red onion, and tomato.

Cheddar-Whiskey Filling


2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons whiskey
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced


 In a food processor combine shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces), finely chopped green onions, whiskey, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic, minced. Cover and process until nearly smooth.


 Loaded Baked Potatoe Salad

 YIELD: 8 servings

PREP TIME: 45 Minutes

COOK TIME: 10 Minutes

TOTAL TIME: 55 Minutes + 2 Hours chill time


1 ½ lbs. Red Potatoes, cut into ¾” chunks - peel ½ of the potatoes, leave skin on other ½
1 oz. Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix packet
¾ c. Low-Fat Sour Cream
¼. c. Mayonaise
½ tsp. Garlic, minced
½ tsp. Ground Pepper
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
2 tsp. Minced Cilantro
¾ c. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
5 slices Bacon, cooked and chopped
2 Tablespoons minced chives


1.     In a medium pot, place chunked potatoes and cover with 1” of water. Bring potatoes to a boil over high heat and reduce to medium, allowing to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.

2.     When potatoes are done, drain and place on a lined baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with packet of ranch dip and fold potatoes over with a spatula until the dip mix is evenly distributed. Place baking sheet of potatoes into the fridge for approximately 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cool.

3.     While potatoes are chilling, fry and chop 5 slices of bacon and shred cheddar cheese.

4.     In a large bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayo, pepper, garlic, mustard, and cilantro.

5.    When potatoes are cool, pour into large bowl of sour cream mixture.

6.     Fold in shredded cheddar cheese and bacon. Sprinkle chives on top of potato salad.

Chill for two hours until flavors meld. Devour.

Patriotic Taco Salad


 TOTAL TIME: Prep: 10 min. Cook: 20 min.

MAKES: 8 servings


  1 pound ground turkey or beef
  1 medium onion, chopped
  1-1/2 cups water
  1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  1 envelope taco seasoning
  6 cups tortilla  corn chips
  4 to 5 cups shredded lettuce
  9 to 10 pitted large olives, sliced lengthwise
  2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved



1.     In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the water, tomato paste and taco seasoning.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

2.    Place chips in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. dish. Spread beef mixture evenly over the top. Cover with lettuce. For each star, arrange five olive slices
together in the upper left corner. To form stripes, add cheese and tomatoes in alternating rows. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.

Editor's Note: If you wish to prepare this salad in advance, omit the layer of chips and serve them with the salad.


And now on to dessert!!! We had to test these out to make sure we approved. Here are our easy and festive tips for Fourth of July Dessert! 

We made this first recipe in less than 10 minutes! 

Berry Covered Angel Food Cake!

I love this recipe because it's ridiculously easy and looks like it's straight out of Martha Stewart!

All you need is:

  • premade Angel Food Cake from the grocery,
  • cool whip
  • patriotic colored berries.

First, slice the cake in half like a hamburger bun. Then add a layer of cool whip and berries. Replace the top and add the rest of the cool whip in the center of the cake and on the top. Cover with more berries and Voila! You're ready to go!


This second dessert is also super easy and make an amazing display at the party!

Cupcake Berry Flag!

Cupcakes are always a hit and these are made even more delicious and beautiful with the American flag berries on top. A perfect activity for kids to help with too! We chose "Funfetti" cake mix to be festive like fireworks, but you can use any kind of cake you like!

Here is what you need for this easy dessert

  • Cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and water
  • cupcake papers and muffin tin
  • icing
  • berries

Mix and bake your cupcakes. Let them cool and then add the icing. Arrange them on the tray in a rectangle. Final step is to add berries to the cupcakes to make a flag pattern. Super easy and delicious!


Segreto Crew is ready for Fourth of July Dessert! YUM!

Hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July! Enjoy some of these fun treats with your family and friends while watching the fireworks! Until next 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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