Eclectic Wallpaper Designs Created Locally

A few years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Given Campbell, Tampa’s own eclectic wallpaper designer, for a piece on Examiner. Examiner recently shut down their website and I couldn’t let a great piece go by the wayside.  So, I am reprinting it.  I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Given.

Untitled design (16)

The use of wallpaper in interior decorating is making a comeback.  Decorators understand the visual interest that a well-designed, colorful wall paper will add to a space and often times they turn to the big brand names such as Waverly, Schumacher and Thibaut. For a more unique look, designers may turn to a smaller boutique line such as Given Campbell, located right here in the Tampa Bay area.

eclectic wallpaper

photo courtesy of Houzz

Given Campbell, a modern eclectic wallpaper design firm that is conceptualized and printed right here in the Bay area.  It may seem like an unusual business to have launched here, but it is thriving with designer and owner Given Campbell at the helm.

Given is an artist at heart and she had a passion for interior design.  She knew she wanted to do something artistic within the home goods industry but hadn’t found a niche until a random conversation when the idea of designing wallpaper came up.  She noticed the wall paper trend taking off again and with the advancement in technology it seemed like a prosperous niche worth exploring.

After a few years of product development she began to market her designs to consumers. Soon designers were discovering her line and using them in their projects. Then the recognition and awards began.  “Working in a bubble,” she says, “it’s hard to know if I am doing the right thing. Winning lets me know I am doing the right thing.”

Seven years later she has been featured nationally, won numerous awards and had her designs chosen for the walls of MTV’s corporate headquarters.  She now designs and markets several collections, including a Couture & Custom line.

She designs to her taste and not to trends but will build around Pantone’s seasonal color forecast.  She favors classic lines and timeless designs with a modern twist.  Most of her collections will compliment a variety of design styles. She will also create custom patterns.

eclectic wallpaper

Any good artist finds inspiration in the world around them and Given is no exception. She considers herself a conceptual thinker and can be inspired by an idea, a conversation, or a song that she will build an idea around. She derives inspiration from the great design of others too. She said, “I kept an old magazine with a collection of student art in it. It was ragged and old but inside it had a stair armoire that was curved and seemed to dance to one side.”

Her inspirations lend themselves to eclectic wallpaper designs that are graphic, vibrant, bold and colorful. There is nothing meek or demure about them, yet they are works of art fit for any modern home.


buy yourself flowers

Ten reasons to buy yourself fresh flowers

Flowers are affectionately called Vitamin F and rightly so.  They make everything a little brighter, cheerier and beautiful.  They are a healthy dose of happiness wrapped up in pretty colors and patterns.  It’s long been known that receiving flowers boosts our moods, but what researchers didn’t know was that living with fresh flowers also had a positive impact on our well-being. If you ever needed a reason to buy yourself flowers, I have ten reasons for you.

ten reasons to buy yourself flowers

As Dr. Haviland-Jones, researcher for Rutgers University, said, “Flowers bring about positive feelings in those that enter a room. They make a space more welcoming and create a sharing atmosphere.”  I couldn’t agree more.

flowers by the bedside

Spark Joy

Flowers add a positive boost to your morning routine. The morning blahs, it turns out, are real with happiness, warmth and friendliness may emerging later in the day. Instead of waking up grumpy, nip it in bud by placing small bouquets in the bathroom, on your nightstand or in the kitchen. Researchers found that by placing blooms in the middle of a morning routine, they would spark of joy lasting the rest of the day.  In most cases, others will adopt your cheery mood in what scientists refer to as mood contagion. Is there a better way to spread joy?

Inspire Neatness

One study discovered flowers placed where clutter tends to collect inspire neatness. Flowers are a thing of beauty and, well, clutter is unattractive.  Of course, if there were an option to look at pretty petals instead of paper piles, most of us would pick pretty petals.  I know I would be inclined to keep the clutter out of the space.

flowers increase compassion

Flowers Feed Compassion

In today’s climate of division and intolerance, it’s nice to know that people living with live fresh cut flowers have reported an increase in feelings of compassion and kindness toward others.  It seems we could all benefit from a few fresh flowers in our homes.

Improves Emotional Connections

Flowers in the home improve our emotional connections to family. When there are pretty flowers in the house for the whole family to see, everyone benefits. Happiness, compassion and understanding strengthen our bonds, improving our relationships.

Increase Energy
Flowers are happy rays of beauty that seem to increase energy in those around them.  People in the studies reported having increased energy from daily exposure to fresh flowers.  The effect also carried over to their lives at work.  They all seemed to have more enthusiasm and energy.

Reduces Depression and Anxiety
Study participants reported that they had fewer episodes of depression and anxiety after spending just a few days with fresh flowers in their home.  They felt less negative, more hopeful and positive.  “ As a psychologist, I’m particularly intrigued to find people who live with flowers report fewer episodes of anxiety and depressed feelings. Our results suggest that flowers have a positive impact on our well –being,”says Nancy Etcoff, PH.D., researcher with the joint Massachusetts General and Harvard Medical study.

Improve Well Being
It’s scientifically proven that flowers increase happiness and improve wellbeing. One study, notes that patients in rooms filled with flowers responded more positively to treatment, and had lower pain, fatigue, and anxiety ratings along with more positive feelings compared to those in a control group.  Imagine what the effect of flowers would be on a healthy person.

flowers boost creativity

Improves Creativity & Problem Solving

Here’s some good news for those of us that work from home.  Studies show having flowers in your work space increases creativity and improves problem-solving skills.  I am on board with that!  I love having fresh flowers in my home office, and other rooms of the house.

You Deserve Them 

The best reason of all to buy yourself fresh flowers is that you deserve them.  You deserve to have a vase of flowers in every room of your home.  Nothing, in my opinion, is more of a pick-me-up than flowers. The simple act of stopping by the flower cart at Whole Foods is euphoric, at least it is for me.

These studies make a darn good argument for keeping fresh flowers in your house. The best part is adopting the tradition doesn’t have to cost the farm.  You can plant a cut garden, or find great deals at the grocery store.  Picking wildflowers won’t cost a thing, just be careful if family members have allergies. Some wild flowers could induce a bad case of hay fever, and nobody will happy then.

Homemade coffee chocolate chip ice cream

Homemade Ice Cream: Black Coffee Chocolate Chip

Ice cream, especially homemade ice cream, is one of my biggest weaknesses. I love the feel of cold sweet cream on my tongue. It is one indulgence I have a hard time giving up.  I could be a happy camper if it were the only thing available to eat, although I might be a bit plumper. It is likely the worst thing for you, loaded with sugar and dairy, but I simply cannot resist it. Lately, I have become fascinated with homemade ice cream.  This weekend I found a recipe I had to try; black coffee ice cream.

I love coffee and ice cream so why not make a batch up. I tweaked the recipe by adding mini chocolate chips for a little extra something too.

As I was whipping it up, my husband asked what I was making and then said that does not sound good at all, joking of course. I think it will make a delicious treat tomorrow night after a day of grilling out.


2 cups of half & half

6 tbsp instant espresso

2 tbsp Hershey’s Baking Cocoa

½ cup cane sugar

½ tsp pure vanilla extract



Place 1 cup half & half in a pan along with the espresso, cocoa, sugar and vanilla. Heat over low heat and whisk until everything has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining cup of half & half. Let mixture cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or longer if need be. Using an ice cream maker, churn according to the directions. While it’s churning, pour in ½ cup of mini chocolate chips. Place in freezer safe bowel, and freeze until mixture is no longer soft.

flourless chocolate cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

We first tried going gluten free a few years back, and then last summer we made an earnest attempt to stick to it. I’ll admit it didn’t last. We like our bread a bit too much. I also love to bake and it’s a bit difficult to make baked goods with out flour. Some all-purpose gluten free mixes are decent, but you can’t count on cake or cookies to turn out well.

I discovered this flourless chocolate cake recipe a while ago. I was skeptical at first and decided to try it anyway.  Oh my goodness!  It turned out so dense and chocolaty.  Forget the fork, it was dense enough to eat in your hand like a cookie.

I have served this decadent dessert at dinner parties and have sent it into work with Kevin for office holiday parties. It’s always a hit.  I would suggest baking two of them, just so everyone gets a piece. The first time I made this it went so fast, Kevin didn’t get a piece. I had to make a second one the next day just for him.

Since Mother’s Day is this weekend, I think this would be a fabulous sweet treat to add to a brunch.

To make this Flourless Chocolate Cake you will need:


4 oz bittersweet chocolate

1 stick unsalted butter

¾ cup sugar

3 large eggs

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder


  • Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees and butter an 8-inch round baking pan.
  • Line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the paper.
  • Cut up the chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over simmering water, stir until smooth.
  • Remove the top of double boiler from the heat, and whisk in the sugar.
  •  Add the eggs and whisk well.
  • Gently sift in the cocoa powder and whisk to combine.
  • Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a thin crust is formed on the top.
  • Cool the cake for five minutes on a rack before inverting onto a serving plate.
  • Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar using a small strainer or a sugar shaker before serving.


what makes a house a home

What Makes a House a Home

What makes a house a home? I have pondering that question lately.  Is it the smell of apple pie,  the cozy fireplace, the welcoming entry, or a comfy couch?  Maybe it’s the collection of art, or the books and photos we surround ourselves with. There are many ways to define it.

If you think about it a house is just the frame work. It’s wood, concrete, nails, glass, drywall and a floor-plan. It doesn’t quite become a home until the inside is lovingly decorated by its inhabitants.


Everyone has their own style and own thoughts of what creature comforts need to be in their homes. Some want that professionally decorated home, while others enjoy the task of doing it themselves.  Does it really matter which approach is taken? Of course decorators will argue,  perhaps rightfully so, that people lacking any sense of style really ought not to try to do it themselves.  But style is such a personal thing, if one loves their space does it really lack style?

decorated mantel

I do agree that trained designers and decorators will do a much better job of capturing ones style while assembling rooms with the right principles in mind, than an untrained homeowner would. At the same time I don’t think a home must be defined by the talents of a designer, but I would recommend it.


Home simply is where the heart is.  It is filled with things we love, things that make us smile or inspire us. It is a reflection of how we live, of our personalities and interests.  Home is a whatever we want it be…..for me, home is where my husband is.

What makes a house a home for you?