12+ Thoughtful Hostess Gifts with a Local Twist as seen on The Rhode Show


click to watch the segment!

“Good manners reflect something from inside-an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self.” ― Emily Post 

In this season of giving, good manners mean recognizing the host and hostess of your gatherings with a sincere token of thanks. Channel you inner Emily Post and always play by the rules of civility with this locally made and locally sold gifts.

From Lou Lou’s Décor, Newport:

Jute Newport tote by Apolis (more info HERE)

 From Soap & Water Newport on Bowen’s Wharf

Birchwood Pine Classic Candle & Diffuser Set from Nest Fragrances featuring two of Nest’s signature products in an iconic seasonal scent. Use the reed diffuser to scent your space or brighten the room with the classic candle.nest-pumpkin-chai-candle-box

The Pumpkin Chai classic candle by Nest Fragrances creates a cozy autumn ambiance with a blend of wild pumpkin, spicy Masala chai, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon.

Molton Brown 5-piece travel set (airplane-approved size) featuring body wash, shampoo, body lotion, body polisher and hand cream

Pom pom fleece sock slippers by Ugg

 Elegant throw

 From Isherwood & Company on Bowen’s Wharf:

wine-tote-seas-the-wineHandcrafted cheese board and cheeseboard/trivet set made by Howard Burbank of Westport

Seas the Wine wine tote by Mona B fitted with FitVine wine (has 1/3 calories and carbs of comparable wines and 1/3 of the sulfites — read my review HERE)

Nautical napkin rings by Vilmain (made in the USA)

Urban Agriculture CO. organic herb growing kit  as featured in Oprah’s 2016 Gift Guide as Product of the Year 



Note Cards and thank you cards by Wildes of Port Press:



November 17, 2016 at 3:24 pm Leave a comment

Home Style: A Middletown Home Where the Hue Always Fits


The October issue of The Bay Magazine, on newsstands now, features my monthly home feature. For details and more photos, pick up The Bay this month or CLICK HERE. PHOTOS BY MIKE CEVOLI

“I remember my husband saying, ‘If we don’t buy this house, we’re not going to have a 1474655098_2753house,’” recalls Mary Ellen. “It had four tiny rooms with a dirt driveway.” But it was enough, so the little family moved in and made the house a home. “I think it cost $26,000 and the mortgage payments were a little over $100 a month – and we had a hard time paying it sometimes!”

The layout of the home was a little awkward as well. Mary Ellen says there was a small living room, and bedrooms bookending the, as she describes, “itty bitty” kitchen. “And you had to go through this tiny bedroom to get to the kitchen,” she says.

After getting on their feet, the Fraziers decided to expand on the home by adding a second floor. The space would accommodate a new master suite. “Then we took the other side of the house and added a great room. Later, we decided to move downstairs, so we added another master there – but this all evolved over quite a bit of time,” explains Mary Ellen. The couple even modified the home as recently as five years ago to create an in-law suite to accommodate Mary Ellen’s parents.

But as Mary Ellen first adjusted to the changes in the home, she also got in touch with a wonderfully whimsical side of her personality: decorating with an unabashed spirit. Color became her passion. Colorful window treatments, furniture, décor and artwork. Colorful light fixtures, decorative pillows and throws. Colorful accent walls. She looks around and has an epiphany: “I think I’m a closet decorator!”

It’s no surprise, really. Mary Ellen says she grew up in the age of neutrals and her childhood home reflected that trend. “If my mom put up celery green drapes it was like, ‘Oh my God!’” she laughs. So her penchant for personality in the home all makes sense, she explains. “Some people go off to get tattoos to rebel; I rebel with color!”1474655101_7026

Mary Ellen says that through the decades, she has gone through various stages, like many homeowners. “The country stage, then all the antiques, the all-Oriental furniture and now it is what it is,” she says, which might be described as nautical meets pop art meets sophisticated sass. “I don’t know where the inspiration came from,” she says. “It’s just evolved.”

It’s not that Mary Ellen is all color, all the time. Many surfaces are linen white which serves as a baseline. But the accent walls (there’s a purple one and orange one, to name a couple), furniture (like the banana yellow hutch) and décor (like the pair of acrylic octopus chandeliers by North Kingstown artist Nicole Ketchum and her husband of Chandelier By NK, sporting hues of turquoise, fuchsia, green, orange and red) do all the talking. In the dining room, orange leather chairs strikingly contrast with the pair of purple chairs that are parked at each end of the table. In the kitchen, where the orange accent wall resides, there is an obvious “seaworthy” motif. The kitchen cabinets are brown, but that may not be for long. “In a year they could be white,” Mary Ellen hints.

As for Walt, he enjoys Mary Ellen’s decorative eye. “He’s not one of those husbands who has to go furniture shopping with me and look at every single thing. He just sits in his recliner and will go with anything,” she laughs. When Mary Ellen starts rearranging furniture, which is often, he goes with the flow. “Walt is just like, ‘Oh my God, there she1474655096_7b88 goes again.’” That isn’t to say Walt doesn’t pick up when Mary Ellen has a new design inspiration. “If I sneak a new chair into the house, a week or so later he’ll look up and say, ‘I see you bought a new chair…’”

While Mary Ellen sources her colorful pieces locally, she also names Home Goods as one of her favorite stores. She says she has gone shopping with her daughter Stephanie and might say to her quietly, “Did you see what that lady had in her cart? For her home?”

“And Stephanie will say quickly, ‘Mom! Have you seen what’s in your cart?’” Mary Ellen laughs. “And she’s right!”

Mary Ellen and Walt say they love the way their home looks, even if it is evolving all the time. “It’s not for everyone, but it makes us happy. People walk through the door and say, ‘I could never do this,’ but they also seem to love it.”

A cacophony of color, the Frazier’s home is decidedly warm and welcoming, so it’s no surprise it is a favorite place for friends and family to gather including their grandchildren. “We love this home – it’s a happy place.”

For details and more photos, pick up The Bay this month or CLICK HERE.

October 30, 2016 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

Fall Fashion Series: Jackie’s Loft, Bristol

October 18, 2016 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

Fall Fashion Series: Feminine Fancies

As the owner of Feminine Fancies, Barrington’s leading fashion boutique for women for more than 30 years, Elaine Felag has seen it all, but as the saying goes, fashions come and go, but style is forever. “Longer length is making a comeback in dresses, which looks so chic, sophisticated and glamorous1474470217_5d7d,” says Elaine. Look for interesting fabrics, like crushed velvet, which she is seeing on pieces in black, brown and varying shades of berry with beautiful embellishments. Sweaters, which she says are one of her most in-demand pieces this season, are showing up in warm colors and many with sequins for added bling. (Sequin is also finding its way to jackets this fall, she adds.) Grab-and-go pieces, she says, like tunics and wraps, are decidedly contemporary with fur and fringe edging. “They even look great with jeans!” Speaking of jeans, boot cut denim this season seems all the rage. “[It’s] very ‘70s, as disco makes a comeback,” she notes. Many are embellished; some are distressed. An alternative to jeans, leggings are nothing new but Feminine Fancies stocks the comfortable pant, and similar ponte pants, in new, fresh styles. In the boardroom, Elaine sees inspired blouses in beautiful colors leading the way, most notably in teals, purples and burgundy hues. “Looks great with pencil skirts for an updated work setting,” she notes.

When it comes to outerwear, Elaine says military style coats, including bomber jackets, remain strong, while printed patterns, like oversized plaids, are hot. “My personal favorite is the new plaid in winter white, greens and gray, and the oversized coat – very chic!” But a new season doesn’t mean an entire new wardrobe. “I feel like you can have on the oldest outfit but top it off with a fabulous coat and you’ll catch everyone’s eye!” she declares. Footwear is also a throwback with the return of the chunky heel as seen in shoes and boots, but this time around in leopard print, suede and embroidered velvets. And when it comes to bags, you’ll see plenty of cross-body and box shapes in leathers, suede and animal prints with mixed metal. “Have fun this fall,” she insists. “Live a little and dress well!”

Feminine Fancies
290 County Road, Barrington.

For more on local shopping, dining and arts and culture, pick up a cop of The Bay Magazine at area retails and CLICK HERE for online reading.

October 5, 2016 at 9:45 pm Leave a comment

Fall Fashion: Local Boutique Owners Talk Seasonal Looks


The October issue of The Bay Magazine, on newsstands now, features my cover story on fall fashion. I was delighted to highlight some fantastic local shop owners on what they see rising as the hottest fall trends. I’ll be sharing these in the coming days. For the complete story, pick up The Bay this month or CLICK HERE.

First up is one of Newport’s (and beyond) most loved boutiques: The Pink PineappleBy Andrea E. McHugh | Photo above by Force 4 Photography

Pink Pineapple, with locations in Wakefield and Newport, has a cult-like following. Their Instagram account alone (@pinkpineappleshop) has nearly 27,000 followers, if that’s any indication. With a well-considered collection of cashmere, casual tops and bottoms, cocktail dresses and accessories, one might feel like you’re walking into your dream closet at the stores.

While a stalwart for preppy and nautical looks in the summer, The Pink Pineapple hits its stride this time of year. “We are obsessed with spice_1024x1024the fall color combos; they’re beautiful,” gushes Kristin May, manager and buyer for The Pink Pineapple. Kristin points to emerald green and cranberry tones as some of the strongest. The shop has already seen their stock of off-the-shoulder tops fly off the shelves, perhaps because the look perfectly complements the transitional temperatures throughout New
England this time of year. And there’s another reason: “They are really flattering on pretty much every body type,” she adds. Another well-received top there is one with a halter neckline and ultra-feminine scallop hemmed sides. As it gets cooler, Kristin says the nearly knee-length chunky sweaters return, this time with embedded paisley patterns and in subtle color combinations like camel and charcoal.

When dressing up, Kristin says one trend will absolutely be hot: long sleeves. “And 51281a3b1dc3a1a16c2181f65aa8e198_1024x1024.jpgbell sleeves are going to be huge!” When it comes to accessories, Kristin has already seen high demand for one of the season’s most talked about trends: chokers. “We predicted it was going to happen so we stocked up this summer and people are going so crazy; it’s unbelievable. That is going to be the ‘it’ necklace.” The trend was also hot in the ‘90s but the updated version is softer with a single strand around the neck and a longer piece that hangs to the décolletage to create a layered look.

Classic felt floppy hats polish off any look, and when looking for a simple but sophisticated go-to, Pink Pineapple’s signature cashmere is a girl’s best friend. “It’s a great basic,” say Kristin. “People come back again and again for it.” Paired with skinny jeans or leggings and cute booties? Congratulations; you’re the best-dressed mom at school drop off.

Pink Pineapple
380 Thames Street, Newport.

Embedded photos: Pink Pinapple

For more on local shopping, dining and arts and culture, pick up a cop of The Bay Magazine at area retails and CLICK HERE for online reading.

October 1, 2016 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

Wine-d Up Wednesday: FitVine Wines with Newport Ties

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” 
― Ernest Hemingway

Look, Hemingway has long been considered one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century, but the quote above may just prove it. Wine is a universal language; it’s a way to experience the flavors of a new country; a new culture. It’s an invitation to spend time with friends; to talk without hurry, to—much like the way wine is made, to take your time.


When I saw the newly launched FitVine Wine had Newport ties, I took notice. As the apropos name implies, the wine appeals to those dedicated to a fit lifestyle (this doesn’t mean you need six-pack-abs to enjoy…). Specifically, this clean is not bogged down with additives or residual sugar. It has 1/3 calories and carbs of comparable wines and 1/3 of the sulfites. How? According to founders Mark Warren, Tom Beaton and Zach Schultz, FitVine grapes are grown at high altitude in the Sierra Foothills of California (the wine is made in nearby Lodi, Calif.) and therefore, naturally yield higher concentrations of beneficial untitledcompounds including resveratrol, polyphenols and proanthocyanidins. An extended fermentation process enhances the antioxidants and optimizes the pH levels. It’s the later result that makes it unnecessary to add sugars, additives and/or unnecessary amounts of sulfites. Thus, a cleaner wine is born.  

With their active lifestyles, Mark, Tom and Zach were inspired to find a savory alternative to other celebratory cocktails. “I was getting older and continuing to workout doing the usual stuff: running, CrossFit, yoga etc., and I often noticed after a race or a competition, people would drink Bud Light or other mass produced products that I knew weren’t all that great—at least not for me,” says Tom. “My thinking was I just put in all this work into this competition, I want to have a drink, but I want it to be as clean as possible. So, I approached my friends Mark and Zach with my idea of creating a great wine that is approachable and drinkable while also being as clean as possible. Zach had been in the spirits business and had a background in chemistry, and Mark is the hardest worker I know, so I knew we might be able to get this going.”

The result? “While we are still a tiny little company, we are having a lot of fun and thankfully people seem to love FitVine,” says Tom.

Sharing a similar ethos, I was excited to try FitVine’s three varietals and their cleaner, fitvinehealthier qualities—with local Newport ties, no less.

THE VERDICT As a writer for the New England Wine Gazette and Edible Rhody (among other regional and national pubs), I truly enjoyed the trio of FitVine wines I savored. For me, a favorite wine depends much on other contributing factors: season, environment, setting, time of day, weather, company, etc. First up was the Sauvignon Blanc, which I very much enjoyed. Light and dry with hint of citrus—but stopping short of sweet, it’s a savory wine that I’ll long associate with a perfect late summer day. I would absolutely buy this wine in the store.

I enjoyed the Chardonnay (it’s considered the world’s most popular white wine) at a get-together before traveling abroad. As I prefer drier whites, this wine is palate pleasing with it’s crisp finish. The slight citrus hints are well balanced with a trace of vanilla, and while I typically appreciate the oak notes garnered during 14317445_1846422018909909_4541282911346638066_nthe finishing process, FitVine’s Chardonnay is finished in stainless steel which perhaps let the citrus notes, like pear, shine brighter.

I saved the Cabernet Sauvignon for last. The producer says this classic Cabernet possesses a “nose of currant, lavender, black licorice and a hint of new oak” with a flavorful blend of cedar, boysenberry, coffee and chocolate. Whatever the ingredients, FitVine’s Cabernet Sauvignon has earned a prominent spot in my autumn and winter wine line up.

I’ve had the good fortune of covering a number of extraordinary wine events over the past 15 years, many with top wine producers. I’ll never forget what one of the most lauded winemakers once told me: “Do you know what the best wine in the world is?” he asked me. “Lafite?” I guessed. “Wrong. It’s the one you enjoy the most.”


FitVine is currently available at select restaurants throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Florida. CLICK HERE for locations.

CLICK HERE to shop direct.


I received complimentary FitVine samples for purposes of this review. Opinions expressed are my own. 

September 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

One-on-One with Sara Campbell, Pt. II (with fall collection preview!)


 Interview cont’d from  ( Pt.I post below)

Tell us what you love about Newport…

I love everything there is about Newport…from the excitement of driving in via the beach route to Cliff Walk…the smell of the ocean in the air and the ever-so-much-fun dining. I cannot forget the sailing…  Boating is a huge sport in my family, so we spend lots of time both on and off the water. We often drive in to Newport from Marion (Mass.) just for family time…a summer dinner in Newport is the best.  But what I especially love are the people in Newport.  They are truly devoted to their community and supporting causes dear to them.  

Sara Campbell has a loyal following here in Newport, and for obvious reasons: a wonderfully engaged staff, beautiful and flattering made-in-the-USA piece, but what do you think makes that relationship so special? 

Our customers are family…they are loyal, and stay in touch when the season closes. I love meeting people from all over the country, but I also love getting to know the locals who take care of this little jewel.

And your take on Newport in the quieter months?

It’s a very special place even in the dead of winter because the sea is still roaring, and the waves are still lapping.  

New arrivals at Sara Campbell:





August 26, 2016 at 11:06 am Leave a comment

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