With the arrival of flu season and all the lovely alignments that accompany it, I started doing a little research and was quickly reminded of many things that could be making you ill right in your own home. Beneath all the layers and textures of your décor are several disturbing things that can contribute to your illnesses, especially in your bedroom. I thought it was important to share and make you aware (even if you might have forgotten).

  1. DUST MITES: Dust mites live in your pillows, mattresses, and bedding. Their feces can irritate you, causing cold like symptoms, asthma and allergies. Don’t forget to wash your bedding at least weekly, vacuum the mattress and use allergen-proof bed and pillow covers. Many doctors also suggest replacing your pillows yearly.
  2. BED BUGS: So gross. When bed bugs bite, they leave red marks on your skin. Inspect your bed regularly for blood spots, exoskeletons, and bedbugs themselves. If you see them or question if they exist or not, call a pest control company immediately.
  3. MOLD: Mold spores cause allergies and respiratory problems. Mold can build up in your pillow, overwatered plants, in the walls and anywhere there is humidity. Keep humidity low, water your plants only when the soil is dry and clean regularly. Don’t forget about your kitchen sponge. Moisten the sponge and a little white vinegar next, pop it in microwave for 2 minutes. Leave it in the microwave to cool off. The steam from the sponge will loosen any debris from the inside of your microwave. Remove your sponge and then wipe down the inside of the microwave with paper towels. Repeat daily.
  4. SWEAT: You potentially lose 100 liters of sweat a year in your bed. Your sweat can help spread bacterial infections. Wash your bedding minimally once a week in hot water. Sheets made of natural fibers will also absorb sweat more readily than polyester blends.
  5. POLLEN: Pollen is a seasonal allergen that can enter your bedroom thorugh open windows or come from plants in your bedroom. Reduce pollen by using an air conditioner or fan rather that sleeping with the windows open. Also, select plants that are non-flowering for your bedroom.
  6. PILLOWS THAT HAVE LOST THEIR SHAPE: When your pillow loses its shape, it does not provide the support needed for your neck, shoulders and back. Make certain you have a pillow that works for the size of your body as well as the way you position yourself while sleeping.
  7. WORN MATTRESS: When your mattress is worn and sags it is not supporting your body properly. Replace your mattress every five to ten years or as soon as a valley starts to develop in the center.
  8. BEDROOM CARPET: If you can, get rid of it. Carpet in your bedroom harbors dust mites, animal hair, mold spores, and other microscopic particles that can cause allergies and irritation. Vacuum and shampoo your bedroom carpet regularly to keep it clean or replace it with wooden laminate floors.
  9. BEDROOM DRAPERIES: Draperies also provide a breeding ground for mold spores, dust mites, animal hair, and microscopic particles. If you must have drapes, select something that can easily and frequently be washed. Otherwise, opt for shades that can be dusted or cleaned with a vacuum or can of air.
  10. PARAFFIN CANDLES: These candles release harmful chemicals such as toluene and benzene when they burn. Opt for soy or beeswax candles instead and make certain you open the windows a little when you are burning candles.
  11. SHOES: Remove them before you enter the house or if that’s not an option, at lease remove them before you enter your bedroom. They track dirt and all kinds of substances into your home.
  12. CLEAN YOUR VACUUM: If your vacuum does not have a HEPA filter, it simply sprays all the dust and pollen that it has sucked up right back into your room. Make certain you have a vacuum with a HEPA filter. If it requires bags make certain they are made of HEPA material and if it is a canister empty the canister after each use and wipe inside with antiseptic cleaning wipe.







What do you do when you have twelve minutes to potentially live or die? Saturday morning our Hawaiian Islands were rattled, as we quickly awoke in our hotel on the island of Kauai. Listening to the crashing of the ocean, I slowly reached over to grasp my glasses and IPhone from the nightstand & read the following message.


My mind immediately started to process and the retail trainer/facilitator in me started to work. Before I knew it, probing questions were filtering through my mind. Who, what, when, where, why? There was no time to panic and before we could react there had to be an immediate plan.

Suddenly, all these details that have been shared with us from the Hawaii government since the “War Games” threats began at the end of last year started to fill my head.

  • Hawaii is about 4,600 miles from North Korea and a nuclear missile launched from there could reportedly be here in about 12-15 minutes.
  • According to Hawaii Emergency Management Administration, current estimates of human causalities based on the size of North Korean nuclear weapon technology strongly suggest that an explosion would be less than 6 miles in diameter.
  • “More than 90 percent of the population would survive the direct effects of such an explosion,” HEMA said in a fact sheet. “Planning and preparedness are essential to protect those survivors from delayed residual radiation and other effects of the attack.”
  • “If a missile is launched from North Korea, the warning time available for Hawaii is only 15 minutes or less. Given the short timeframe, the public will have little time to react,” the release said. “The public is advised to prepare and exercise a plan for their families ahead of time.”
  • Do I make a call to my parents and tell them I love them or do I just send a text and hope for the best?

A sick pit began to settle in my stomach as we pulled all the down pillows and comforters from the bed and huddled on the cold marble floor of the hotel bathroom. Before we could get settled, the hotel announced on an intercom that all guests should evacuate to the underground back of house. We were then informed there would be an investigation to verify the message we had all received on our devices and they would share more information as it became available. That is when it all got real.

I quickly went into think fast mode. My first thought was to grab all the things contestants on a reality show would bring before being dropped on a remote island and left to survive. Knowing we would potentially would not have power and need to stay inside for 2 weeks or more, I started to layer on clothes, lace up sneakers and lastly make sure I had my wallet with ID. Finally, we grabbed Christian our dog and off we went.

The journey to the safe place was where it all started to come together and shock was over. Emotions and fear were settling in. I was suddenly filled with feelings that I had not experienced since a tragic September day back home in Washington, DC. A tragic day in our US history where all I was trying to do was evacuate my office at the Washington Design Center and find a safe place. It was a sense of fear and uncertainty that so many of us felt and hoped to never feel again. Like that terrible day all you could do was look up and pray nothing would be dropping from the sky. I can no way compare the two days but the emotions and thoughts were so similar and not knowing if you would survive was the same.

Fortunately after the longest twelve minutes of my life along with another twenty minutes, we were finally notified that it was a false alarm.

Why today do I share this? The emotions that I had were overwhelming for me and fellow Hawaiians and tourists from all over the world.   You might have not felt the impact of our morning while you were going about your Saturday on the mainland.  In many cases I had friends reaching out to me hours after the incident, as they just weren’t aware. But can you only imagine how you would have reacted knowing that you might only have a few hours left to live? What would you do? My Hawaiian family and friends have all been in a state of “disbelief”. People were opening manhole covers and dropping their children underground, students at the university were running to take cover and people in their cars were essentially stuck with no where to go. Are you prepared? This is no longer a threat to Hawaii but it is reality to all of the United States. We are now living in era of a true survivor reality show lead by a former reality personality. We must, as American citizens be there to support each other, have a plan and be ready. Aloha and God Bless America!






Super Cold = Layers Upon Layers


Dressing in layers is what gets us through transitional seasons when it’s sunny and warm one day and gray and cold the next. Believe it or not, the layered look can add a significant amount of impact to your home as well. All the decorative elements in your home provide visual interest, texture, depth, and a sense of abundance. Whether layers increase your physical comfort, please the eye, or camouflage portions of a room that you don’t love, there are so many reasons to go multi-dimensional.

We mostly think of layering (clothes and housewares) in the winter. Something about winter makes us want to gather more around us, whereas summer makes us want to clear it all away. As fall quickly approaches and we are all re-evaluating our living spaces, here are a few ideas I kept in the back of my mind as I began pulling together ideas for the chilly breezy months ahead:

  • Layering mirrors can provide an almost prismatic effect, reflecting light from multiple surfaces
  • Layering artwork can create a lot of texture, especially when using contrasting frames. Like layered clothing, artwork is versatile allowing you rotate what’s in front, middle and back.
  • Layered bedding can be so inviting and add extra texture. The addition of throws, pillows and fluffy down not only add texture but depth to the space.
  • White on white dish layering really accentuates the textures of the different plates as well as plays on the reflective qualities of the china.
  • Layered rugs on top one another can add visual warmth as well as texture. They are also great at defining a space.
  • Layered throws and pillows add a sense of warmth and texture to an otherwise flat and cold space.
  • Layering in potted plants or an indoor tree can provide color to a space but the texture and plant itself will awaken the senses!





Aloha 2018!

Within a few hours it will be 2018. Perhaps, when you find the opportunity to read my closing blog of 2017 it will be just another day in the New Year. I have so much to say but have yet to put it into words.

On this last day of 2017, I would like to share with you memories. This is the story of a young boy growing up in the country of West Virginia in the 1980’s and buried in a deep closet filled with sequins and organza. Fashion and music was my outlet to living a life without bullying and hate. I would allow my imagination, WWD, & Else Klensch to transport me to places that were filled with excitement, newness, color, style and passion. I knew the only way in life I would truly be fulfilled would be to live a life of travel, fashion, fast pace, and luxury lifestyle outside my little hometown.

Flash forward through the minimalistic utilitarian times of the 1990’s and into the 2000’s. I accomplished my goals, lived my life in New York City, Washington, DC, Palm Beach and Miami. I faced many challenges along the way but due to the support of others (you all know who you are) I was been given so many opportunities to get back up on my feet and continue my journey. I must also say I have been blessed to live openly as a gay man in an industry that “embraces people who make people feel beautiful outside as well inside” and build relationships with some of the most amazing progressive and challenging thinkers of all time. When you reach what you think is your ultimate career goals and aspirations but all you have is sadness, an unbelievable first hand experience of the “The Devil Wears Prada”, behind the scene views of political chaos where other people determine your destiny (not you) and a deep sense of loneliness as well as a whole lot of debt and “designer stuff” you are left lost in the identity of your career not the true person you are. Wow, what a run on sentence. (Sorry Ms. Wanless & Mrs. Snyder)

Little did I know that coming to one of the smallest islands in the world would change me as a person in so many ways. I have always known something was missing and I knew I was on a journey to find it. I would be telling you the most horrific lies if I said my life is filled with surfing, sunshine and hula. In Hawaii I have had to work multiple jobs to survive, went months without being able to find a job, balanced medical challenges from thyroid tumors to vertebrae injuries, fought with depression, sadness, etc. It hasn’t been the lifestyle dream that social media might portray.

However, 2017 has been the year where we were all given a choice. The choice was to conform and step backwards in time or make change happen our selves. Many of us have united and shared our passion while others have remained silent. Over the last few months in the search to make change, I found that reason why I was sent here to Hawaii. I was given precious time to slow down and get to know me. After all the rushing, traveling, facilitating and sharing, I actually was forced to find “me”. What the hell? This is it! It’s that easy.   I was given a rare opportunity to live life outside the “superficial bubble” or “glass box” that I have been smothered in for decades. It wasn’t just a closet I was trapped in as a teen, it was a whole life defined by stereotypes, greed, anger and what I thought life was suppose to be.  Look, I am so grateful to have “shattered the glass ceiling” for myself. I am certain so many of you have been blessed with this but for those of you that haven’t…”Hey, people life is out there”. I know see that life is about taking your culture, values, DNA and experiences and sharing them with others to make both your lives brighter. Coming to Kauai has reignited my passion and love for the outdoors and brought with it stories that I had forgotten. Always running from the bullying and anger, I forgot about how much my family shared and cared.

My grandfather was a farmer and fur trapper while the other was an educator. One grandmother was a cook and primary provider of her family of seven kids the other was an entrepreneur who owned jewelry stores and radio stations. My mother was a special education aid and school secretary while my father was a director of housekeeping and purchasing for a mental institution. These values make up the person that I am today. It’s who I am. All these gifts that I have been given along the way from my family and my experiences are now meant for me to share with others so they we can all live a life more satisfying in 2018. It’s that easy people-just look around you. Be open.

I leave you going into 2018 with a quote from Glenn Life Brown my late grandfather and former Superintendent of Schools for Lewis County, “No matter what you do touch one person every day and make that difference”. I get it grandpa. I get it. Aloha to you all in 2018. May you find your peace and share change the way it was intended.




Recycling Holiday In A New Way

It’s that time of the year and the lovely holiday cards are flowing into our homes. If you are like me, it is so great to hear from those near and far but what do you do with the cards after you open them? Personally, I would recycle them and get rid of the clutter (with this statement I will never get another Christmas Card again).   But, this year we have really tried to be very sensitive to the fact that allot of love and thought went into the cards- especially in a time when most people don’t take the time to personalize a card. So, I have combed the Internet and found a few ideas for you to utilize those beautiful cards in many ways throughout your home.

  • Use simple kraft paper and wrap your gift, then top each gift with a “TO, FROM” tag made from the front of a holiday card
  • Create garland from old cards to hang on your tree, table or on the wall
  • Cut the front of each card into the shape of a beautiful leaf and turn those cards into a beautiful wreath for the wall
  • Fold, cut and twist holiday cards into gorgeous shapes to create these amazing ornaments for the tree
  • Save those old holiday Christmas bulb ornaments and add layers of small pieces of cards to the bulbs… giving them a fun update
  • Use old holiday cards as extra detail on your holiday gifts. A great idea is to cut initials out of the cards and use them in replacement of a typical bow
  • Use that card as a gift tag for a wine bottle, simply cut off the top cover of the card, make a 2-3 inch fold at the top of the card, cut out a small hole and slip over the top of your wine bottle
  • Okay, it is a little late but, you can make your own advent calendar with old holiday cards-they make a great door to for the daily cover
  • Make mini boxes out of old cards for giving jewelry and tiny gifts
  • Cut those holiday cards into strips and tie them with a ribbon to make fabulously festive bookmarks
  • Update the pictures in your home for the holidays by framing old festive cards and hand with red and green ribbon
  • Cut and fold those old holiday cards into pretty bows for all your gifts
  • Add some holiday cheer to your living space with a simple tree decorated with hanging holiday cards



It’s Ultra Violet Time

It’s time to pull out the black light and accent in white. I’m not talking about a circuit party. Are you confused? So am I. Pantone has announced its 2018 color of the year and it is – Ultra Violet 18-3838. It is bold, deep and definitely makes a statement.

A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that point us toward the future. According to Pantone this is what the color is all about.

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.

Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.

Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection.

Pantone, 2018

Personally, I just can’t embrace this color. Sorry Pantone. I was feeling last year’s PANOTNE 15-0343 Greenery and the connection with the outdoors but I just can’t see myself living in the world of Welches Grape Juice. My suggestion is to use this color as an accent and utilize it in highlights. Whatever you do avoid paint your walls this color (I did it in the 1990’s and it was the works mistake ever) and certainly don’t wear it unless you want to look like a bottle of Elizabeth Taylor’s –White Diamonds.

Ultra Violet



Gifts For The Host Or Hostess

Christmas is coming and before you know it… next weekend you will be attending one of many holiday parties. Whether you love them or despise them, you know you’ve got to make an appearance and with that come a responsibility. Finding the perfect host/hostess gift. Finding a charming gift is sometimes a tough problem to solve. When you know the person it is so much easier but when you aren’t that familiar with them it can be a real challenge. Whatever you do, don’t let this become a “re-gift moment”. Here are a few great ideas that are thoughtful and definitely will add a little joy to the holidays.

  • Cozy throw. West Elm has a few great super soft throws starting at $26.
  • Assouline book. Some of the most beautiful bound books in the business coffee table size or just a short read.
  • Colada Pineapple Planter. Always a symbol of hospitality or a memento from Maui, CB2 has an aluminum plated pineapple planter that will be a big hit at $8.95.
  • Set of Bamboo Cutting Boards. A great host or hostess is always in need of a few extra cutting boards. Check out Sur La Table’s beautiful set of bamboo cutting boards for $19.95
  • Italian Jacquard Christmas tree Hand Towels. Woven in Florence Italy, Williams-Sonoma offers jacquard-woven pattern towels featuring a shapely Christmas tree that harks to centuries past. Set of two $23.96
  • NEST Holiday Candle. Give the gift of a delightful holiday fragrant candle. Notes of pomegranate, Mandarin orange, pine, cloves and cinnamon with a hint of vanilla and amber, create a dazzling display of holiday cheer $40.
  • Orb Wood Muddler. Aaron Probyn’s beautiful, functional design of a streamlined acacia wood hourglass that crushes herbs and fruits on either end to flavor beverages with fresh ingredients and aromas. Available at Crate & Barrel for $9.95.
  • Peugeot Clermont Beach Wood Salt Mill. Often copied, but never equaled, Peugeot mills are the perfect-cooking companions. Check them out at Target for $25.00.
  • Mele Honolulu Cookie Company Holiday Gift Set. Give your host a gift from the islands. The best macadamia nut shortbread cookies in a variety of flavors packaged in a beautiful tin and complete with a Mele 2017 ornament. Available online only at for $33.00.