Tag Archives: boxes

Melissa Stephens

March 12, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Melissa Stephens, owner of The Cordial Cherry, has hit a nerve in the sweet tooth of Omaha’s choosiest chocolate fiends. What began eight years ago as a way to pay for graduate school has evolved into national acclaim and a busy holiday season that kept her and her team of family elves making chocolates around the clock. It didn’t hurt that a little old icon from Chicago named Oprah listed Stephen’s nativity scene of chocolate-covered cordial cherries as one of her favorite things of 2013.

Her boutique on 180th and Pacific is like a “chocolate jewelry box.” Chandeliers twinkle like diamonds amid the smell of warm chocolate. Little glass boxes neatly  display mouth-melting morsels, and shiny cake domes of treats tempt at every turn. Upside-down lamps hang whimsically among repurposed furniture for a French country feel. In the center of it all stands a beautiful and petite Stephens, whose perfectly coiffed mane and flawless makeup belie the fact that she was running on a not atypical three hours of sleep.

“My vision was to have a beautiful place where people could take their time and really appreciate the experience,” says the detail-oriented mother of four. “I always have this tendency to doll things up and decorate them. It’s very therapeutic for me.”


Even the presentation of her delicious box of confections is schemingly “just so.” Each box is carefully bound in twine by her sons and topped with a sprig of evergreen and an adorable custom-made tag. She learned how to make the chocolate-covered cordial cherries from her Grandma Jacque, whose picture hangs prominently in the shop, almost as if to cast an approving gaze over the wonder her granddaughter created. Stephens says that while her grandfather was away serving in the military, her grandma would occupy her time by taking cooking classes. “Every Christmas her kitchen table would be covered with these cordial cherries. We would be walking by and would have to snag a couple. So the table would dwindle and dwindle. By the time we would go, they were all gone,” she says.

But life hasn’t always been a box of chocolates for Stephens. She used to be almost embarrassed of her chocolate business. “I started out in a career of science and research, and I thought I was going to change the world by curing diseases.” Stephens instead struck culinary gold by following her heart. “When I embrace the talent that I’ve been blessed with, and I share that with those around me, that’s when I see the real power in our talents.”

Urging women to discover their talents is important to this entrepreneur, so Stephens launched Stories Coffeehouse in the same shopping plaza last fall as a tool to help other women succeed in business.

But with the sweet often comes the bittersweet, she recalls in relating the story of a man who was only given a few days to live. His sister was sent to the store so that he could enjoy Stephen’s cordial cherries one last time.

“They’re just chocolates,” she says, “but they make people happy.”

From Frenzied to Functional

December 23, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

January is Get Organized Month, so we asked local author and clutter coach, Cyndy Salzmann, to transform from frenzied to functional the tiny laundry room of a busy Elkhorn family.

Cyndy Salzmann and her bag of tricks.

Cyndy Salzmann and her bag of tricks.

Salzmann is the author of seven books, including her recently released Organized by Design: Using Your Personality to Get and Stay Organized, and she takes a unique approach to organizing a space. “A lot of clients want to start a project by digging into a closet,” says the pro who has also appeared on A&E’s Hoarders. “I insist on first digging into their personalities to make sure we design systems that produce long-term results.”

Dave and Debbie Raymond have a blended family of nine and need every inch of their 2,900 square-foot home. They use the laundry room for much more than just soap and suds—it’s command central for winter wear, cleaning supplies, gift wrapping, and is an overflow area for wayward kitchen items. Unfortunately, the multi-functional room ended up being more of a “multi-mess.”



“I ask each new client to take a personality inventory,” says Salzmann. “Test results as well as discussions with family members indicated that Debbie’s creative bent led to ever-changing systems of organizing things—a source of frustration for Dave, who is orderly and perhaps a bit more right-brained. A collection of sentimental items belonging to Debbie’s recently deceased mother added to the chaos. Finally, poor room design with high shelves and an open area under the counter wasted valuable space.”20131121_bs_3325


“Once I determined the family’s organizing style and needs,” Salzmann continues, “I pulled together a team to transform the room. We used flexible pullouts and open shelving along with other design elements to motivate family members to maintain the space. Debbie is a strong woman of faith with a vibrant personality, so I wanted this room to also feed her spirit.”



“A soothing paint color grounds the space while design elements provide splashes of color,” Salzmann explains. “Meaningful objects, such as colorful canisters from Debbie’s mother, provide function and serve to personalize the room.

“I was able to take advantage of unused space by installing pullout shelves under the counter. The contents of two plastic drawer units with a jumble of mittens, hats, and gift-wrapping supplies are neatly organized in a deep pullout with dividers. Dishes formerly stored openly on top of the refrigerator slip neatly into drawers. Shelves for laundry baskets keep the counter clear for folding.

“A clear, plastic bin corrals items Debbie is collecting for her oldest daughter’s upcoming wedding, while the creative label builds excitement for the special day. Cleaning supplies, formerly stored on too-high shelves, are now easily within reach in a pullout shelf under the sink. Infrequently used items, stored in bins on high shelves, have dry erase labels to identify contents.”



So how do the Raymonds feel about their “new” laundry room? “We love it!” says Debbie. “But more importantly, it’s not so overwhelming for us to now think about tackling another space in our home.”

Salzmann will be blogging about her experience throughout January. For more project details and inspiration, visit cyndysalzmann.com.

Salzmann’s Team • Interior design and painting by Renee Quandt, Clean Slate Interiors; Custom pullout shelving by Nick Starkey, ShelfGenie of Omaha