DIY: Historic Holiday Decor

DIY: Historic Holiday Decor

By now I’m sure you all know I’m obsessed with the Beauregard-Keyes House and its Executive Director, Ella Camburnbeck. As if we needed another reason to love the historic home, Ella has filled its halls with handmade holiday decorations that harken back to days of Victorian romance, wassailing and Christmas bonnets. I asked her to give us an overview on how to create the decor in our own homes. Read on and check out Sarah Becker Lillard’s fantastic photos of the House at this festive time of year!

Beauregard Keyes House | DIY Holiday Decor

The holiday decorations at the Beauregard-Keyes house are reminiscent of what a typical nineteenth century New Orleans home might have used. Godey’s Lady’s Book has been one of my most trusted references for decorating- it was the most widely circulated magazine in the period before the Civil War and was an incredible resource for women of the day when it came to fashion and entertaining.

A 1860 edition detailed holiday decorations this way: “Christmas decorations include strings of bright berries, small bouquets of paper flowers, strings of beads, tiny flag of gray ribbons, stars and shields of gilt paper, lace bag filled with colored candies, and knots of bright ribbon, all homemade.” 

Beauregard Keyes House | DIY Holiday Decor

Beauregard Keyes House | DIY Holiday Decor

So, thanks to Godey’s – everything that you see around the House has been handmade and I try to source as many things from our gardens as possible. As a result everything smells pretty amazing and is relatively simple to make as long as you have a little patience!

For the mantle topiaries I use calamondins from our tree in the Parterre Garden however, once you have your base you could use kumquats, pinecones, or any other type of fruit you have around the yard or house. Our bases belonged to Mrs. Keyes and are made of wooden cones with nails protruding to affix the fruit to, however you can make your own out of a Styrofoam cone and toothpicks.

Beauregard Keyes House | DIY Holiday Decor


  • Foam Topiary cone
  • Toothpicks
  • Glue (I recommend hot glue)
  • Fruit of choice
  • Greenery of choice


Put a dab of glue at one end of your toothpick and then insert that end into the cone. Layer the toothpicks in concentric circles down the cone, I recommend spacing your toothpicks based on the size of fruit you plan to use (Our nails are relatively close thus the tiny calamondins works perfectly!). Once the toothpicks are in place and the glue has dried you can start applying a piece of fruit to each tooth pick. (HINT-don’t pierce the place on the fruit where the stem was, this will help the fruit stay fresher, longer!). Once all of your fruit is in place choose your background greenery- I use the scraps from our garland however you can use boxwood trimmings, sprigs from your Christmas tree, or any other greenery you have in your yard- I recommend selecting something with a relatively flexible stem so it can better hug your cone.

Beauregard Keyes House | DIY Holiday Decor

Finally, starting from the bottom and working up the cone, fill in the spaces between your fruit with the greenery- this part can be a little tricky because the greenery tends to want to twist and turn its own way, feel free to use a little bit of hot glue to keep parts in place. Voila! You’re done! Well almost, depending on the fruit you use you will have to replace it about once a week, I try and check mine every 3-4 days to make sure nothing is rotting.

These topiaries are great for tablescapes, mantles, or you could even do larger ones for your front porch! Have fun with it, invite friends over to help and be creative- Historically, making decorations was a chance to bring people together and share in the celebration of the season, and I think that’s certainly a little piece of the past worth carrying on.

Beauregard Keyes House | DIY Holiday Decor


When Queen Victoria’s German-born husband and first cousin, Prince Albert, arranged for a fir tree to be brought from his homeland and decorated in 1841, it created a minor sensation throughout the English-speaking world, thanks to the newly important media: the magazine. Everyone knew about Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree. A print of the royal family gathered about the Christmas tree at Windsor Castle appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1848, then in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1850, and was reprinted again ten years later. The six-foot fir sits on a table, each tier laden with a dozen or more lighted wax tapers. An angel with outstretched arms poses at the top. Gilt gingerbread ornaments and tiny baskets filled with sweets hang by ribbons from the branches. Clustered around the base of the tree are dolls and soldiers and toys.

The most widely read account of an early Christmas tree was published in a penny pamphlet in 1832:[1]

“I was present at the introduction into the new country of the spectacle of the German Christmas tree.  My little friend Charley [Follen’s son] and three companions had been long preparing for this pretty show.  The cook had broken eggs carefully in the middle for some weeks past, that Charley might have the shells for cups; and these cups were gilded and coloured very prettily. We were all engaged in sticking on the last seven dozen of wax tapers, and in filling the gilded egg-cups and gay paper cornucopiae with comfits, lozenges, barley sugar.  The tree was the top of a young fir, planted in a tub, which was ornamented with moss.  Smart toys and other whimsies glittered in the evergreen and there was not a twig which had not something sparkling upon it.  It really looked beautiful; the room seemed in a blaze, and the ornaments were so well hung that no accident happened, except that one doll’s petticoat caught fire…I have no doubt the Christmas tree will become one of the most flourishing exotics in New England.”

from an article about Christmas decorations of the period from an 1860 issue of Godey’s Magazine, also known as Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book, that was the most popular magazine in the country at the time with a circulation of 150,000: “Christmas decorations include strings of bright berries, small bouquets of paper flowers, strings of beads, tiny flag of gray ribbons, stars and shields of gilt paper, lace bag filled with colored candies, and knots of bright ribbon, all homemade.”

*photos by Sarah Becker Photography

This post originally appeared on, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued.  

Halloween Decor For Adults

Halloween Decor For Adults

I love the Fall decor season. My adoration of pumpkins notwithstanding, I mostly love the Fall season because it means Halloween is here and I can indulge in my desire to fill my house with all things gothic and not feel guilty about it (see inspiration room at left). Now I like a creep-tastic decor scheme as much as the next person but I tend to dislike buying plastic, overly gimmicky items just because it’s the time when all things haunted are on trend. I prefer a rich, gothic and darkly romantic palate in my house. So to get in the mood this All Hallows Eve I decided to round up a collection of items that I’m lusting after. What I like most about these items is that they have that slightly eerie feeling but still retain a little panache. Separately they can be used year round but when paired together they give off a luxe and romantic feel with just the right amount of spook.

Screen-shot-2013-10-21-at-11.06.04-PMHalloween Decor For Adults

1.) Candelabra Bottle Stopper – Anthropologie $68

2.) Threshold Scalloped Frame – Target $13

3.) Initial Hook – H&M $3.99

4.) Anatomy Magnets – Etsy $5.99

5.) Ox Skull On Stand – ZGallerie $70

6.) Bone Shark Box – Furbish Studio $28

7.) Natural History Art Insect Print – Etsy $18

8.) Candle – H&M $6.40 [/left][right]

 9.) Patricia Jewel Box – ZGallerie $24.95

10.) Sea Shell Brooch – Etsy $16

11.) Caricature Knob – Anthropologie $8

12.) Cast Metal Taper Candle Holders – WestElm $9.99 – $24.99

13.) Rustic Wood Arrows – Etsy $54

14.) Bestiary Desk Decor – Anthropologie $18

15.) Striped Cushion Cover – H&M $6.50

This post originally appeared on, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued. 
What Your Favorite Apps Say About You: Dating Edition

What Your Favorite Apps Say About You: Dating Edition

Recently, the Apptitude team spent more time than we care to admit fawning over’s article on what your taste in music says about you on a date (for the record I fall in the Van Morrison category). We were so inspired by the article we decided to take a crack at it ourselves and apply it to apps. Read on to find out what your favorite apps say about you when you’re on a hot date.

TinderTinder logo

Tinder is the app that let’s you find hot folks near you who think you’re of equal or lessor hotness. You can scroll through the hot or nots near your current location and, yep you guessed it, opt to connect with them or pass (anonymously of course).
Personality:  Loves mirrors. Moderately charming. Totally lead the charge on the popularity of that What Does The Fox Say video. Mad hot. Has possibly used the pick-up line “Come here often?” (but in an ironic way). High fives bro!

PocketPocket logo

A busy entrepreneurs’s dream, Pocket lets you save interesting articles, videos and more from the web for later enjoyment, presumably because you have about 0.2 seconds during the day to scan your favorite biz magazines and blogs (also Buzzfeed, Gothamist, and Gawker). Plus it’s got cloud appeal. Once saved to Pocket, the list of content is visible on any device—phone, tablet or computer.
Personality: Over extended, engaged, exhausted, always has a news-worthy tidbit to share at parties.  All around awesome. Lemme get that 3rd latte for you, you go-getter you.

WunderlistWunderlist logo

Got a to-do list for everything? Wunderlist is the app that lets you manage and share your to-do lists for life and work whether it’s remembering to buy milk, planning your bestie’s birthday party or remembering to order those VooDoo Fest tickets early.
Personality: Before this app, you had no less than 4 moleskins on you at all times. Also, when your date is rambling on about something boring you secretly look for grammar and punctuation typos in restaurant menus.

SnapChatsnapchat logo

Oh Snapchat. How we love you. What would we do if we were unable to send photos to our friends of us throwing the peace sign while duck-facing (look it up) instead of just a plain boring ole text?
Personality: You’ve screamed the phrase “I’m drunk. What of it?” at least once. Your life is so share-worthy, you just don’t even know.

A Beautiful Messa beautiful mess Rhonna Designs, etc.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but we all know that these photo editing apps let you add in cool captions and pretty embellishments. So now, those photos are worth 2000 words, thank you very much.
Personality: Lisa Frank was your life when you were 10 and you feel no shame in admitting that.

Candy CrushCandy Crush

PUT DOWN THE PHONE ALREADY. No further explanation needed.


Yep, we included one of our own! With the WWNO app you can get the latest and greatest from your local news radio station, stream NPR and shows like American Routes and This American Life, and listen to non-stop jazz or classical music on their HD stations.
Personality: Lover of all things New Orleans. Believer in the 2 -martini lunch. A Frenchman St. wanderering, Jazz Festin, crawfish head sucking, proud member of the WhoDat nation. Bless your sweet NOLA heart.
Wondering if some of these personality types come from real life dating experiences? Yes. And though we may have embellished a bit, that my-date-is-so-boring-I’m-hunting-for-menu-typos has happened on more than one occasion. Did we hit all the bases? What popular apps did we leave out? Hit us up at on Twitter @ApptitudeNOLA and let us know!
*This article was written for the blog. 
Apps To Make Your Selfies Rock

Apps To Make Your Selfies Rock

Ah the selfie. A mobile device driven, pop-culture phenomenon we all love and hate at the same time. Laugh if you will at the hoards of folks self-snapping photos of themselves in front of monuments and over pitchers of margaritas, but I say if Hilary Clinton and Meryl Streep can take a selfie with no shame, then why can’t the rest of us? The problem with some selfies is that they look too much like a selfie. I’m looking at you online dating profiles filled with photos of your “awesome” bod standing in front of a mirror. Yeah, we see you. And we also see that phone you’re awkwardly holding out in front of you with your arm bent all crazy like. Can we pass some sort of online agreement that no one will ever take a photo in that pose again? Please?

Sarcasm aside, there are a multitude of apps out there to help you take the perfect selfie – one that makes you look awesome, rather than lame. Here’s a list of of the top three selfie-taking problems along with some apps to help you resolve them. (Disclaimer: this list does not help prevent selfie problems like throwing gang signs or making the duckface. That’s a post for another day.)

Problem – Your Phone Is Showing

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 5.55.25 PMAs previously mentioned, selfies taken standing in front of a mirror are a no-no. Your weird arm angle and fake smile directed at the reflective glass looks contrived and forced. Your smartphone has a reverse camera for a reason! Most iPhones and Droids have a front facing camera option built right into the camera already but many apps, including Instagram, have a reverse camera option as well. Use it!

Problem – All Your Photos Look Like Mugshots

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 5.55.36 PMI’m not saying you don’t have a pretty face, but not every photo needs to be from the shoulders up. The solution? Download the Timer Cam app. It allows you to delay taking a photo for 5, 10 or 15 seconds. It too has a reverse camera function so you can set up the camera, stand back and see yourself, and then take your sweet time perfecting that pose before the shutter snaps.

Problem – You Look Like The Undead

UndeadThough it allows you to see the photo you’re about to take, one problem with using the reverse camera function on your phone is that the quality is a little less than when you use the camera the old fashioned way. If you’re like me, more often than not this means your complexion can start looking a little….dingy. Never fear! Photo editing apps are here! Everyone has their favorite photo editing app and Lord knows there are zillions of them. I find myself using the AfterLight app most often. It’s simple and straightforward and, in my opinion, has the best collection of photo filters in one app.

(Tip: the Captain filter in the Original filters set brightens almost any photo without yellowing it.) Plus, Afterlight has some very chic and clean photo frames as well to make your photos a bit more artsy. Other favorites I keep in rotation include Color CapABeautifulMessPicStich and Rhonna Designs.

Now you’re armed and ready to start taking selfies with confidence! Don’t forget, the best selfie takers use a combination of the apps above for the perfect photo. Just remember, keep it light, classy and fun. And please, no duck faces. I can’t stress that rule enough.


*This article was written for the blog.