4 Steps to Dressing Your Home in its Holiday Best

By Susan Marocco, Principal, Susan Marocco Interiors

It’s that time of year – there is a nip in the air and the holidays are right around the corner. And what does that mean? Entertaining, of course! So make sure your home is dressed in its Holiday Best!

A year has passed – have you made any of those changes that you wanted to make? Did you finally get those window treatments installed and your powder room re-painted? What about turning the old spare bedroom into that guest suite you have always envisioned? Don’t worry, you still have time to make a big impact on your home before all of those guests show up.

Here are some quick hit tips that hold a lot of punch, and you will still have time to make your neighborhood holiday party.

1. A great impact on a room is the addition of color to your walls. You can get dramatic results for a relatively low cost by painting- and what a difference it will make! Don’t get stuck in the thought that white walls go with everything – it is just not true. White walls can make a room feel cold and impersonal- painting your walls a warm tone will make the room more welcoming. Use your furniture or your area rug to help lead you to the right color choice. Determine the base color of the fabric patterns in your room, and start there. And remember – if you don’t like it, you can always repaint.

In this before and after we went from Linen White to a warm golden yellow.
Before and AfterLook how the whole room comes alive!

Before and After


2. Changing the bedding and linens in a guest room can also dramatically change the appearance of a room. AfterThe room can become formal and sophisticated to casual and comfortable, just by the choices you make for your bedding.


3. Maybe you just need to do a little refreshing and redesigning with the items you already have. Start by removing all of your accessories – knick knacks, table lamps, even the pictures on your wall. Now consider items from other rooms that you have never considered before. A side table and lamp from one room moved into the perfect spot in another room could be just what is needed. And finding new places to position your accessories will breathe new life into your favorite pieces.

4. Lastly, flowers will brighten any spot in your home. Greet guests with a fresh floral arrangement placed in your entrance hall. A single bud in a powder room.

So take the plunge, and make those changes. And if you still need some help, call me – I’ll know just where to start.

Please feel free to contact me or give me a call at 914-234-7066 and we can get started on it right away!

“It’s time to update my website. Where do I start?”

Part I

By Lynn Amos, Principal and Creative Director, Fyne Lyne Ventures, LLC

If you’ve been through the process once, you should have some idea of what to expect. Hopefully the first time around was a good experience for you. So many of my clients come to me with stories about paying a lot of money and not getting the product they expected or wanted. Here are some tips that will help you gather the information you need to make a good decision about a designer, a copywriter, a hosting company, a search engine optimization/marketing specialist and a social media expert.

The Designer

Here are the first 5 of 10 questions you can ask potential web designers to help narrow the field and find someone you are comfortable working with who can make your vision a reality:

  1. Listing of 5 sites designer has done along with clients’ contact information.
  2. What web program do you use to develop the site?
  3. For ongoing maintenance and hosting, is there any special software that ties us to a particular type of hosting service?
  4. Can it be built so that a couple of pieces we would be able to update (like a weekly newsletter)?
  5. Will we own the final version and the graphic source files?

The Copywriter

Obviously asking for writing samples would be a first step, but also notice if the subject matter of the articles is about your industry or one similar to yours. There will always be some research necessary on the part of the copywriter to understand your business, but you can cut that time (and the number of hours you pay for) by choosing someone who already has some experience in your field.

Does the writer speak in a “tone” that represents you and your business?

The Hosting Company

Customer service and taking responsibility for their servers are the two most important criteria to consider. Ask friends and colleagues what their experiences have been with their hosting companies. If you are planning on building a blogging site Google “best hosting company for blogging website” and read the user forums to find out what others with your level of technical expertise have experienced.

Personally, I work in WordPress and recommend Hostgator.com as a WordPress host or two reasons:

1) Their customer service and technical personnel have always done their best to answer my questions, they have never rushed me off the phone or told me I have to pay for help, and they offer a choice of phone, e-mail (trouble ticket), or online chat as ways to interact with them.

2) Hostgator is known for keeping up with best practices with regards to fending off website hackers.

Fyne Lyne Ventures, LLC provides visual skills to help your bottom line. Website design, custom WordPress blog design & graphic design for business print communications. Call Lynn Amos at 914-930-4537 for information about how she can help you create a new website or redo the website you have.

5 Wall Color Tips that will Make your Rooms Pop!

By Susan Marocco, Principal, Susan Marocco Interiors

Deciding to paint a room or your whole house causes most people to freeze with anxiety. “Other than Linen White, what are the safe colors?”, they say to themselves.

Fear of making a mistake and then hating the color is what drives the anxiety. Overwhelmed with the myriad of choices, the project can easily stall and get delayed or not done at all. Featured this month are 5 tips to guide you when choosing paint colors.

Paint color anxiety can stop your design plans from progressing. Fear of choosing the wrong color can turn your design dreams into a frustrating and agonizing project. These five tips should help you overcome the overwhelm and move forward with ease in choosing your colors.

Currant Red

Currant Red



Windham Cream

Windham Cream
# HC-6

1. Warm Colors
Think the colors of the sun- red, orange and yellow. When using a warm color on the wall, the wall will appear to advance, making a room feel smaller and more intimate. Avoid using warm colors in a room that is already warm – viewing a warm color can actually make you feel warmer.


Palladian Blue

Palladian Blue

Night Mist

Night Mist

Lavender Mist

Lavender Mist

2. Cool Colors
Think soothing shades of the water – blues, green and purple. When using a cool color on a wall, the wall will appear to recede, making a room feel larger and more airy. Cool colors are great in a room that is filled with sunlight, since viewing a cool color can actually make you feel cooler.


Carrington Beige

Carrington Beige

Shaker Beige

Shaker Beige

Acadia White

Acadia White

Inner Balance

Inner Balance

3.  Connecting Colors
Colors from the tans, beiges, whites and gray family. These colors work to connect rooms as well as create a background for more vibrant color combinations in your upholstery and furnishings.


4. First Impressions
If you don’t like the color of the paint when you open the paint can – you can almost guarantee you won’t like it on the walls. Paint colors tend to dry darker than they appear in the can.

5. Samples
Paint a Board – Before you put that paint color on your walls, paint a poster board with the color you are considering. Put it in various places in the room. Then view them with natural daylight, with lighting, in the evening. Then live with it a bit. Color will look different in each room depending on the degree of light.

Now that you have some color ideas for your walls of your home, don’t forget about fabrics for your windows. You are going to want to make sure that your window treatments work hand in hand with your new color palette.

And, don’t forget that you can always call me at or e-mail me for an expert opinion – I’d be happy to help!

PS. These color samples are from Benjamin Moore and you can view them online.


By Heidi Michaels,  Champion Mindset Life Coach

Motivation. We all need it during different points of our lives, our days, our weeks.  It is hardly a secret that motivation is the key to successfully accomplishing your goals.  Yet, motivation can be elusive; hard to find at times.  Lost motivation can cause us to feel we have no energy or that we need something or someone to give us a push.  Staying motivated to make changes in our lives like exercising, eating healthy, or finishing a project that is hanging over our heads can be challenging.  Finding motivation to complete something that is not giving instant gratification can be the hardest.
The key to motivation is to recognize how a particular task serves a greater goal or the bigger picture.

Need motivation?  Here are a few ideas you can try:

1) Find the Good Reasons

If you’re stuck with a task you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons. Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it. Take a few moments to analyze them, find something good about each task and how it contributes to your bigger picture.
Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

  • a material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all
  • personal gain – What will you learn or how will you improve yourself by completing this task?
  • a feeling of accomplishment – Think about how great you’ll feel when you complete it.  You’ll feel great about finding the motivation and courage to complete the task
  • a step closer to your bigger goal –Every task you complete brings you closer to your ultimate goal!  Acknowledging this always feels good.  Break down the bigger tasks into smaller more manageable ones.

2) Make it fun

When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!
A simple approach is to start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?
  • In what ways does completing this task bring me closer to my desired goals?

Motivation can also be spurred on by a buddy.  Enlist the help of a friend, a mentor or a coach .  They can be your accountability partner which can make all the difference in the world!

3) Take different approach

If you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way. And most likely, there’s more than one way. If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

Get creative!  Some ideas:  Ask a friend to help you, find out how other people go about accomplishing these tasks, put music on and dance your way through it.  Don’t feel like working out today?  Get dressed and just go…you don’t have to workout when you get to the gym, you can stand there, you can watch.  But just go.

 4) Recognize your progress; acknowledge your accomplishments!

To stay motivated, you need to recognize and acknowledge your progress.
Set yourself “milestones’ to reach.  A milestone is a benchmark, a point that you’d like to reach within a certain time frame.  When you complete each milestone, stop, acknowledge the work you put in, how far you have come and how good it feels to achieve it!  Keeping track of your progress should be something measurable and visible. Write down your milestones and cross them off as you complete them!

One strategy I use with my clients is to put a quarter or a dollar in a glass jar each time they complete a milestone.  For example, a milestone might be to go to the gym three times a week.  Each time they return from the gym, they put a quarter or a dollar a glass jar.  This is a visual way to recognize and acknowledge progress.  At the end of three months, my clients can use that money to celebrate and reward themselves for  their accomplishments!

5) Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to stay motivated!

Before you begin the task agree on some deliverables.

Providing yourself with some sort of healthy treat whether it’s a walk, a lunch with a friend, a manicure or just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will reward you for time well spent!

Heidi Michaels is a Professional life and sports performance coach.  She coaches  people to develop their “Game Within the Game”  and to become their best self in life, sport or business. She has an office in Katonah, NY.  She may be contacted at heidi@heidimichaels.com or visit her website at www.heidimichaels.com.

What should you know when buying a diamond? What are the four C’s?

By Monique Shire, Manager Wilson & Son Mt. Kisco, Ltd.

The most important thing to know when buying a diamond is the jeweler you are buying it from. A referral from a family member, friend, business associate or  neighbor is your best source. If that is not possible, find a well-established  jeweler in your area that is involved with the community. Jewelers that are  members of the American Gem Society that have gemologists on staff are  another excellent source.

Let’s review the 4 C’s in order of importance:

Cut – Cut does not refer to the shape of the diamond but how well it is proportioned. Just like a fine dress or suit; it is the fit, finish and polish that are the most important. A well cut diamond will allow maximum light reflection which will make it sparkle as much as it can.

Color – Diamonds occur in every color of the rainbow and in many different hues. Diamond colors will range from colorless to light yellow or light brown. Colorless diamonds are the rarest. Other natural colors, like blue, red or pink, are known as fancy color diamonds. Their color grading is different from white or colorless diamonds.

Clarity – This describes the internal characteristics of a diamond. These characteristics are commonly referred to as inclusions or flaws. There are 11 different clarity grades of diamonds starting with internally flawless (IF) and ending with Imperfect. Diamond clarity is determined when a stone is examined under a microscope or a hand held loupe.

Carat – Carat refers to the diamond’s physical weight. A carat equals 1/5 of a gram and is broken down into 100 points. Diamonds are weighed on a special scale most commonly to the nearest hundreth of a carat.

Each of these four criteria are important to consider when purchasing a diamond. It is crucial to understand each so that when you are faced with making choices in order to fit into a comfortable budget, you understand the choices you are making.

For more information on the 4C’s contact:
Monique Shire
Wilson & Son Mt. Kisco, Ltd.

Read more about The Origin of the Four Cs

When should valuable articles, such as jewelry, furs & fine art be specifically listed in a separate personal insurance rider?

By Carollee Cabot, CIC, CPIA

The typical homeowner’s policy has limitations on the coverage available for losses due to theft, breakage, or misplacing or losing certain articles. Even  prestigious insurance carriers have limitations on what they will pay for a particular category. In addition to the limited coverage available, the policy deductible will apply.
Examples of typical limitations are:

  • Jewelry $5,000
  • Furs $5,000
  • Silverware $10,000

For fine arts, some policies do not have a limit, but will not pay to replace with a similar piece of fine art, but with a new item lacking antique value.
Claim Example:
Your home is burglarized and the thieves take electronics, silverware, furs & jewelry. Your policy has a $10,000 deductible, and none of your items were scheduled.

  •  Silverware – limit is $10,000, and your loss was $8,000
  • Furs – limit is $5,000, and your loss is $4,500.
  • Jewelry – limit is $5,000, and your loss is $50,000

The full amount of the loss is $62,500 less the $10,000 deductible or $52,500. However, because of the policy’s limitations, the carrier will only pay $17,500. You would be out-of-pocket $45,000.

When valuable items are scheduled on a valuable articles floater, no deductible is applied and the full, scheduled value of the items is paid. In addition, coverage is worldwide, so items taken on vacation will still be covered.
While one of the most frequent Homeowners’ claims is stolen or misplaced jewelry, some other items you may want to consider scheduling include a wine cellar, collectables, coins & stamp collections, antiques and breakable valuable items such as a vase. If you have any of these items in your home, talk to your insurance agent about scheduling them on a floater.

Six simple steps to always knowing where you spent your money!

-By Margo Ratafia

Many people procrastinate updating and analyzing their expenses for family budgets, preparing their tax returns or even balancing their checkbooks. People avoid this task because they don’t know how to simplify the process and they find this type of task to be boring and a complete drag. So they find themselves with an unbalanced checkbook, no idea where they spent their money and at a loss on how to organize themselves financially.

Fortunately, this process can be made easy with minimum cost and effort. If you follow these few simple steps you will have your finances organized quickly and efficiently.

1. Set up a checking account with a bank that has on-line banking.
2. Your bank should have the ability to download your information to a software program such as QuickBooks or Quicken.
3. QuickBooks or Quicken can be purchased and installed on your home desktop or laptop (even a Tablet PC) or you can use the online version of the same programs.
4. Once a month you can log on to your banks website and download all of your banking transactions for the month directly into the software program.
5. Once you download the banking information all you need to do is tell the program the type of expense it is such as telephone or utilities and you’re done.
6. Once you tell the program that Con Ed checks go to “utilities” the program will remember it so you do not have to do it again from scratch next month.

Voila, you will have a balanced checkbook, reports available for your financial advisors, accountants or a spouse who wants to know where all your money went.

So stop procrastinating, within an hour or two you can have a summary of your monthly expenses at your fingertips!

For more information about this and other financial questions, email Margo Ratafia CPA, PC