December Rewind

No matter who you talk to every year about this time (Christmas Eve, Eve), everyone’s all “I can’t believe Christmas is in 2 days”! Yep. People, I hate to burst your bubble but it’s the same day every year. Small talk is not my fav, but I digress.

I made a conscious decision to enjoy this month of December and to BOOK it with all the things that I have always been too retail bleary eyed to enjoy. And it’s been eye opening. I feel happy and lucky this December. Not happy go lucky. I’m still working my ass off or I wouldn’t be writing this at 9pm a whole month after my last post. But Happy and Lucky. Appreciative of my kids, husband, family and friends. I have been trying to acknowledge all the love on my plate lately. And just the act of being thankful can make one happy. Happiness as it turns out is a choice for the most part. I think I may be done being a miserable cow. I know those closest to me are thankful for that 😉

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So here are some snaps of this past month. Some inspiration for you to consider for the next time you want to decorate, bake cookies, attend 4 parties in one weekend or just sit and watch your kids be kids.

I would like to make a commitment to write more this coming year. I’m working on what that’s gonna look like and where that will take me, if anywhere and if it even really matters. I like to write and take pictures so I’m just going to go with that. And practice. Heres a pretty interlude pic to get us started down my first December out of my retail fog….

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First up, go OUT the whole week of Thanksgiving. For the first time in 20 years. Highlights were, a fun Friends-giving, watching the Macy’s Day parade on TV with the offspring AND not falling asleep at the Thanksgiving table. Finally, reuniting with a bunch of old friends from college for a night of laughter. What I wore:image

Next up: Let’s decorate; and NOT at 11pm on a Monday… On Black Friday. AM. In my PJs. Here are some highlights from the house; note please I never do the same thing in the same place from year to year. Mainly because I toss everything in boxes completely unlabeled and unorganized on New Years Day. It’s a little challenge I give myself every year. Keeps me fresh. Ha!

Mantle. New this year: felt garland, gold stars and “Jingle” bunting. It was one of 4 words I could spell with what I was given in the dollar spot package. So I let the kids decide.

Snippets. Railing featuring a living wreath, berry garland and more felt ball garland. (Feeling a little Scandanavian this year). The hall wall was sprinkled some gold beading, greenery and berries. And the bathroom downstairs features all my vintage stocking garland among the pics I took in Paris and mirrors.

Moving on to the tree. The kids really did the whole thing. This has been a tradition the past few years. Mainly because I’m such a freak about the rest of the decorations in the house. I give them the tree. It’s the least I can do. Plus in the past I was so OVER overseeing the trimming of 30+ trees I couldn’t stand to look at another one. They did a great job and had a great time. I only moved 10-12 ornaments, tops. 😉image

Wrapping is always a favorite activity of mine and this year I got seduced by sequins, black paper and gold and pink tissue. Whatever, the sequins counts for Holiday. I was SEDUCED by sparkle and PINK. It couldn’t be helped. BUT, the kids did their own shopping this year as well. And they wrapped their own gifts. Eloise still insisting that you must use an entire roll of tape per gift. See below. imageimageimage

Lets Talk about some of the parties. Shall we? First up: Ugly Sweater Party. I went as the Elfie Selfie this year. Also, new do. I see the mini bun all over Insta. Well, on me , “I call it the Cindy Loo Who” .image

Next a dinner with my Bestie and her fam. Our Mini Mes turned the gathering into an opportunity to try on ALL things festive. image

That Sunday we went to a delicious Santa Brunch with family.  Later that day (yes I double booked), we had a magical hayride with a truly magical Santa. Let’s just say that all the moms were in tears and if there were any 10 year old boys “on the fence” about the Santa thing, it was cleared up. Santa won.

We made it through that EPIC weekend pretty much unscathed and ready for more.

Next up. Cookies with Nana. Success, as 2 5 year olds, a 10 and a 2 year old did a fantastic job on a Wednesday night. I cleaned up and poured the wine for my mom as I am not the baker in the fam.

Moving on to the NEXT weekend…. the 40 year olds get to attended a 21st Bday. We may or may have not showed the younger set how to have a good time. Not only did my head hurt from the wine but my face hurt from the laughing. That is a sign of a good time. PS, I’m soooooo not in high heels shape these days. Gotta fix that.

The next day I classify as my Favorite day of the season every year. Nutcracker Day. It is my 36 or 37th year attending with my mom and Godmother, who introduced me to the arts and the fabulous city of Philadelphia,  give or take a few missed years in between. I have been sharing this with my own daughter for the past 3 years now. It’s such a joy (I know that sounds old to say but theres no other word) to see her swaying to the music and pretending to be a ballerina  in the audience. It’s a very special day for everyone, being in the city and among all the festive sights, and I hope to continue this for many years to come. Oh, and Mimosas fix everything.

So I come to tonight where I’m  looking forward to the next few days of festivities. The kids are so excited to be done school for a bit and we have a few surprises for them in the coming weeks. This is the first year I don’t have to be at work at 5:30am the day after Christmas. I will savor that. I will continue to be thankful each day for the little, and big things. Time moves very quickly and I don’t want to miss anymore than I already have.

I’m looking forward to the new year, just like I was last year. There is nothing I can do to predict if I’ll break the other arm (Jesus Christ please no), or insert another life de-railer, but I think my outlook is a little more healthy. A little more thankful, A little more happy with what I have.

Merry Christmas friends xoimageimageimage

ex*pert vs. ex*periment

Everyone’s an expert at something. Whether it’s a skill, a career or a hobby, everyone has a thing that they do the best. It is usually something that is practiced over time or done very often, hence why someone who has a job or hobby for a while, can become an expert in that field. Maybe it’s open heart surgery, or pitching a no-hitter, or making an incredible lasagna. However large or small, important or trivial, it’s your thing and it’s something to be proud of.

I used to be an expert in decorating 200k sq ft of retail space for the holidays with about 35 volunteers in under 8 hours. Yep. But I am not using that expertise or skill for the first time in 15 Novembers and I’m glad for the break but I do miss being an expert in something that causes so much joy. These days I feel like the only thing I’m an expert in anymore is cleaning the house in under 2 hours, largely relying on Clorox wipes and Febreez. 😉 I’m not complaining. I’m stating facts. I still have much to learn in this new business adventure I’m on; co-owning an established small business that my husband started from scratch. I’m slowly getting it. I’m getting into a groove, a routine, and every so often de-railing into a spiral of crazy when I don’t know an answer and have to teach myself something when there is no one around to ask. But that’s all part of my charm. Working from home is ALIEN to me. But it has many benefits, two of them being a clean house and happy kids getting off the bus and immediately messing it up. Ha!

So, when I have some down time I like to feed my creative side by doing more of what I know like the back of my hand. That being, moving shit around and making the best use of space while keeping it aesthetically pleasing to the (namely, my) eyes.

What was next on my home invasion? Well, first I cleaned out every closet, the basement, and even the crawl space. I donated 17 bags of things collected over the past 14 years to Purple Heart and moved on. No time to try to sell anything. That would require patience and having things sit around here longer. I have a little rule (I know, I’m full of little rules). I try to keep it but life sometimes gets in the way:image

Regardless, I feel like that’s more true now, 17 bags of crap lighter.

Next up, the office space. The room as you enter our home hasn’t changed since we moved in 11 years ago, furnished with late 1990’s, brown, shelf heavy furniture and a GOD-awful office chair that my husband swore was soooo comfy. Well, since he doesn’t frequent that chair anymore, it was time for it to GO. I do no have a before pic because we re-did the room so fast and also I didn’t want to document it forever on the internet….use your imaginations friends. Below are some pics I pinned for inspiration. Check out more on my Pinterest board (FC Headquarters). Follow the link to my Pinterest at the side of the page.

I created a board for the project to get me inspired and to hone in on what we wanted the space to feel like color wise and style wise. Decisions had to be made like, if we don’t have file cabinets anymore, where does all the paperwork go? What kind of chair for the desk? What kind of desk? What could the room double as when we weren’t working in it?

a little too feminine for my other half but it was a starting place.

a little too feminine for my other half but it was a starting place.

we decided a long wooden desk and a comfy chair. The desk doesn't have to be the focal point of the room.

we decided a long wooden desk and a comfy chair. The desk doesn’t have to be the focal point of the room.

a structured and classic but soft grey and still comfy couch.

a structured and classic but soft grey and still comfy couch.

over the desk, matching wooden shelving with plumbing hardware acting as brackets.

over the desk, matching wooden shelving with plumbing hardware acting as brackets.

We decided that we wanted more seating in the house for when we had guests over or parties and if we had a small couch and a little table it wouldn’t have such a stiff office feel. Also, when we both are working from home, there would be room for 2 to work.

So, after some inspirational pinning we headed to Home Depot and Home Goods. I am lucky enough to have a husband who can make wooden tables like no one’s business. Actually, there is not much that he can’t do. He’s one of those people who succeeds at whatever he sets his mind to. Not to say that it’s for lack of hard work. He is relentless about getting stuff right when learning something new. At times his intensity at which he throws himself into projects and work is frustrating but most of the time inspiring. It’s something I’m sure our kids will benefit from and he pushes me too to do the same with stuff I’m interested in doing. I’m just more of a “know a little about a lot of things” multitasker kind of social butterfly…That’s why we work.

Here are some of the after pics of the room.

pretty close...AND of course I repurposed some pillows

grey couch. check. we got pretty close…AND of course I repurposed some pillows

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desk. check.

Desk creation. check. It’s pretty right? Still waiting on the shelves. Winter project. Life gets in the way of creating sometimes…

leather ottoman that serves as a table, and storage inside

Leather ottoman that serves as a table, and lots of storage inside. We swapped a  brown leather for grey leather chair. We already owned both, just switched rooms. The brown one we previously had in the office now lives in the family room.

Oh. Hello, not so ugly office chair.

Oh. Hello, not so ugly office chair.

Oh, and do you think I picked out that cow-hide throw on the floor? Think again. My love for all animal prints has rubbed off onto my husband. But I will take credit for the lovely mirrored tray that of course I put a Diptique candle on. A classic and oh so lovely Tuberose scent. DSC_0771

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I had to add a little vintage to the desk too. This caddy used to house some of my bracelets. Don’t worry, the bracelets have a new home just as pretty. Duh. DSC_0762

Like I said we all have our niches; our expertise. Practice makes perfect and I intend to continue making the most of our space until I run out of space and have to move on to other people’s spaces. Friends will be first. Watch out. I’m bossy. I will continue to learn my new role too; I can take on two or more things at once, I’m a freaking mom remember?

Although we all can dream:image

Just kidding. (well, not really) xo friends!

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as bright as the sun.

WAKE UP KIDS!!!! Mommy’s got a new paint color for your bathroom and it ain’t Celedon Green.

I do not shy away from color, not in my wardrobe or in my home. Some people joke, (well many people joke), that I don’t own anything black. Yes I do. They just happen to be a pleather pair of pants and a tulle skirt. to each his own. I love color, and am most energized in spaces of amazing color combinations. image

In the past few years I have kept to the downstairs interior theme of neutral/ grey on walls and pops of color on accessories, balanced by dark woods. The initial re-do was done all at once and I’ve just kept updating and adding along the way. Upstairs is a different story because I’ve been redo-ing one room at a time and each room really belongs to a different personality. My 5-year old girl, my 10-year old boy, my closet/office situation, and last but not least, the master bedroom —- desperately in need of a RE-DO.

Then there’s the guest/kids bathroom. It’s been this kid themed animal situation for a few years now and I’m sick of it and it’s blue walls. I’m going to pretend that the kids are sick of it too. I need a drastic, drastic change in there, and since I’m not in the position to replace the counter or tub yet, I chose to completely re-do the color palette.

I’ve always been drawn to orange but never for interiors really. Recently, I pinned some pretty fun color palettes including this happy color and I was inspired. So with the permission of my son ,(I had to ask at least), I went on a 3 day journey to transform the Turquoise to Orange, Hot pink and Navy blue.

Oh hey Hermit Crab, I'm about to set these walls on fire.

Oh hey Hermit Crab, I’m about to set these walls on fire.

COLOR INSPIRATION #1

COLOR INSPIRATION #1

COLOR INSPIRATION #2

COLOR INSPIRATION #2

BOOM.

BOOM.

Hmmmm I always kick myself for using the paint with the primer in it. IT SUCKS. every. single. time. (I should've known better as a retired VM shhh)

Hmmmm I always kick myself for using the paint with the primer in it. IT SUCKS. every. single. time. Way too thick and fast drying. (I should’ve known better as a retired VM shhh)

2 1/2 coats and 2 days later. (You try and accomplish a project like this during soccer season in less than a week. )

2 1/2 coats and 2 days later. Whatever. YOU try to accomplish a project like this during soccer season in less than a week.

Now we add in the pink. But not before freaking out that the whole thing is a mess and looks stupid and like CRAP. I can’t go back now because what do you paint over the crazy orange?!?! So I start adding in accessories before the walls are actually dry because that’s what we used to do in the windows at work.

Earth to Carin, you are not working inside a 9x6x12 box and you do not have to unveil this at 10am open of business. Old habits….

Hot pink trim in progress

Hot pink trim in progress…interrupted by hanging some black and white canvas of the kids as “littles”

adding the shower curtain because I needed to see the blue RIGHT NOW.

adding the shower curtain because I needed to see the blue RIGHT NOW.

After the panic passed and I could see how the pink and blue were actually going to pan out in real life and not those stunning Pinterest photos, I could then complete the pink and add yet another coat of orange. AAAAAAND, touch up all the orange spots on the ceiling 😉

4 coats and one leopard robe later....

4 coats and one leopard robe later….

Side note on the curtains… I originally hung a white cafe curtain tied back with orange ribbon. I HATED it; so much so that you guys don’t get to see it. Anyway, it didn’t work because even though there is a lot of color in here already and one would think, “keep it simple, we need more white.”, it was too stark and bright white. It was an eyesore. A focal point that I didn’t want to be the focal point.

So after looking for curtains online and remembering that I can’t stand regular curtains, (no offense), I ran to Joanne Fabrics on day 5 to get a few yards of fabric to do something with. I know. I’m complicated and crazy. BUT, I was never going to find the color/pattern combo in the allotted time in my head, which was the next 24 hours, that made me happy in the way of a real curtain.

The thing is if you really spent some time investigating, you’d find that my home is a series of temporary “window displays”. Nothing is all that permanent and that’s the point. That’s pretty much the reason that I never feel bad about changing things up like once a year or even more often than that. As long as it looks permanent but is super easy to part with, everyone wins; my ever-changing color palette taste, my bank account…everyone.

I needed to find a smaller pattern in the same blue that had some white in it, which I did in the way of a small polka-dot pattern. Then I thought it would be nice to incorporate a bit more pink since that was really only in the trim, so I found a pretty, not too feminine pink pattern. I wanted to cover the tension rod ugliness so I just wrapped the blue around it and then tied up, yes, tied up the panel of pink. I hung one more tension rod to the lower half of the window and just hung the rest of the blue dot fabric over; folded in half. No sewing, no drilling, no nailing, no pins or staples. staples? Yes, I have been known to do this on occasion. We are done. 2 yards fabric for $11 and a pair of scissors.

faking it

faking it

I did purchase some pom-pom ribbon from Joanne’s too…becasue it was asking me to buy it, all fuzzy and vintagey looking…so I hung it from the mirror I’m not ready to replace yet. That wasn’t enough so I added some blue garland from the ceiling. Full party mode at 7am now for the kiddos. You’re welcome.

every morning is a party

every morning is a party

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wash your little faces

wash your little faces

brush your teeth!!

brush your teeth!!

and take care of your hermit crabs!

and take care of your hermit crabs!

XO friends!image

“Falling”

Now, don’t get to excited but I’ve added a few Fall touches for your inspirational enjoyment. It’s rather simple. Again, I took existing things and switched them out a bit for a more Autumn look. No serious Halloween decor yet…You know I don’t “do” Halloween. Although this year I am gonna amp it up a bit as we are the hosting house for trick or treating now 4 years in a row. I guess I better jump on the orange and black spooky train. More on that later.

For now it’s just a few feathers and gourds. Hope this lights a spark for some of you!

wreath change out. adding some moss, dried floral and feathers to the hearth...

wreath change out. adding some moss, dried floral and feathers to the hearth…

I'm getting into the feather thing. twisted them up in the glass hurricane around my new fall candle. I can't stand looking at candle labels. so I hide them.

I’m getting into the feather thing. Here, I twisted them up in the glass hurricane around my new fall candle. I can’t stand looking at candle labels. So I hide them.

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more feathers and a new fuzzy throw to accompany the vintage suitcases. (old props via my old gig)

More feathers and a new fuzzy throw to accompany the vintage suitcases. (old props via my old gig)

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moving into the kitchen, Eloise and I went and bought the first round of gourds and mini pumpkins yesterday because it was the first real fall like day and it seemed like the thing to do.

Moving into the kitchen, Eloise and I went out and bought the first round of gourds and mini pumpkins yesterday because it was the first real fall like day and it seemed like the thing to do.

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and at the counter where I spend way too much time cleaning dishes, some cabbage, berries and a mini pumpkin join a pic of my nana and her sisters.

Meanwhile, at the counter where I spend way too much time cleaning dishes and packing lunches; some cabbage, berries and a mini pumpkin join a pic of my nana and her sisters.

I love the mini whites and usually stick to these in the dining room cause they're "fancy"

I love the mini white pumpkins and usually stick to these in the dining room cause they’re “fancy”

my only Halloween so far...staytuned for more

my only “Halloween” so far…stay tuned for more

Like I said, life has been way too crazy to do much more than this, when your week-nights and weekends are filled with this:imageimage

It hasn’t been ALL soccer though…(ONLY 6 days a week). It’s been a little fun too with things like:

a wine festival that lasted 9 hours...

a wine festival that lasted 9 hours…

I thought this was just the bee's knees..

I thought this was just the bee’s knees..#balloonart ha!

AND…. a Friday night outdoor screening of Frozen complete with such a cute buffet of goodies! My friend who has 4 boys did this for a bunch of us who have little girls… To get her girly fix too! So thoughtful and sweet. Thanks Kel!image

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So, The decorating and warming up the interiors has begun…Enjoy the rest of the daylight! Let’s not try not to think too much about the coming months yet. There’s plenty more “Falling” to be done.

xo Friends!

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Why don’t my freaking pants fit?

Probably because I haven’t worn anything with a zipper or buttons in over 4 months? I’m gonna say that.

Summer is for abundant consumption if you’re a summer person. Beach and boat snacks, al fresco lunches, DAY DRINKING, and let’s not discount night drinking, and finally lots of burgers and dogs.

So now after all that imbibing, we complain about the pants not fitting. Ugh. So new school year eating habits (called: actually making dinner during the week) and exercise routines follow. I should say it’s been a pretty good run these past two weeks.

For me it’s all about using all the daylight possible to run off the summer bloat. Soon, it’ll be black tight season which was always the easiest way for me to hide the imperfections and tuck it all in… But this year, my wardrobe calls for more casual attire as I spend most days working from home and dealing with kids sports/activities in the afternoon and evenings. So the black tights crutch… Not so much.

While I wait for my efforts to whittle away a few extra lbs, I’m trying to find my new “uniform” sans the tights. Which means sometimes wearing pants. I am dead set on wearing my clothes that I own and not succumbing to the yoga pant brigade. Not that there’s anything wrong with that because lets face it they are a necessary evil. I’m not saying that I won’t be sporting the sporty obviously, but there needs to be some variety if I am to justify my closet and not have a massive tag sale…Here is some inspiration for the casual weekdays…

oh wait. DISCLAIMER: while I am not a fashion blogger attending the shows in NYC, or a cool chic sans kids who lives in the city who poses pigeon-toed next to a really cool brick wall or warehouse, I do think that these looks will work for my new lifestyle; in the suburbs, in and out of the car, between sports, school and work, and some occasional fun stuff.

{All images that follow except for the one of me are from Pinterest.}

first and foremost, denim on denim (aka the Canadian Tuxedo) is the easiest way to fool anyone into thinking that you've totally put some thought into this.

first and foremost, denim on denim (aka the Canadian Tuxedo) is the easiest way to fool anyone into thinking that you’ve totally put some thought into this.

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second: repeat after me. wear a woven under a sweater and mess it up a bit. (An original J.Crew rule)

second: repeat after me. wear a woven under a sweater and mess it up a bit. (An original J.Crew rule)

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Third: The Stripes and belt are making believe that you are dressed up. The Converse are saying no, not really.

Third: The Stripes, bracelets and belt are making believe that you are dressed up. The Converse are saying no, not really.

fourth: I've said it before. Midi Skirts solve all sorts of problems. The most important being, not wanting to wear pants.

fourth: I’ve said it before. Midi Skirts solve all sorts of problems. The most important being, not wanting to wear pants.

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Fifth or sixth? I forget... but anyway, I've recently re-discovered my late 1980's love of large sweaters over skinny bottoms. all in moderation though.

Fifth or sixth? I forget… but anyway, I’ve recently re-discovered my late 1980’s love of large sweaters over skinny bottoms. all in moderation though. you may get used to being able to unbutton your pants after lunch without anyone knowing 😉 I kid, I kid. 

if you actually do have plans but they're not all that serious, might I suggest a pretty blouse with your distressed denim, untucked and with flats.

if you actually do have plans but they’re not all that serious, might I suggest a pretty blouse with your distressed denim, untucked and with flats.

NEVER Fail...New Balance kicks with leather leggings. long jacket, tee or sweater required as well.

NEVER Fail…sleak looking sneaks (Nike and New Balance are my faves) with leather leggings. long jacket, tee or sweater required as well.

last but not least 2 things you need to own. A perfect white shirt (another J. Crew Rule from back in the day) and army green cargos. These are used purely to break up the denim addiction.

last but not least 2 things you need to own. A perfect white shirt (another J. Crew Rule from back in the day) and army green cargos. These are used purely to break up the denim addiction you may encounter. 

So There you have it. Go forth and wear the pants girls. Sad to say that on day one of this challenge I did not wear the pants. But I had good intentions so I put on a midi instead.

midi and me standing on my bathtub.

my midi and me standing on my bathtub.

xo friends!

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Just another overbooked Thursday…

Last week: Husband: “what are we gonna do with the grapes? Theres a ton of them.”

Me: “Oh, I forgot about the grapevine in the back yard.” Really I’ve forgotten about the entire backyard all together since its summer we are either at the beach or at someone’s pool when we venture outdoors. Hanging out on our own land is reserved for the spring and fall because GOD forbid the basketball court and plenty of room to play is enough in the summer for the children of suburbia in the year 2015…but anyway,

So we have this grapevine. It’s not just any grapevine because of course EVERYTHING  has it’s story. This grapevine (or a tiny piece of it) was given to my husband and I on the day of my nana’s funeral about 5 1/2 years ago. My nana whom you’ve read quite a bit about here over the past year, lived in a small mining town in upstate PA and had this amazing grapevine her backyard that as kids, my cousins and I would play under and around. This grapevine was supposedly brought here from Italy in the early 20th century. Now, I have no idea whether or not I should believe that a partial grapevine took a boat ride lasting a few weeks only to be smuggled into the country pre-WWI but its sounds like a sweet story so, OK. That’s what happened according to Theresa G.

From year to year the grapes were harvested off of this modest backyard vine. Sometimes the cousins and I would be involved in harvesting these grapes each fall. When I say involved I mean playing and making a mess while my mom and her siblings and my nana would pick, clean, cook and jar the jelly.

For me, and most of my cousins, the grapevine was just a really cool part of Nana’s backyard. It was a place to take pictures on Easter Sunday and hide the eggs for the hunt, and a place to hide from the adults in the house.  Nevertheless, We got a piece to keep as a memory. Mainly because my husband has a major green thumb and a knack for landscaping. He also loves a challenge and likes to learn new things. I’m not always that motivated in the gardening department. But I like pretty things so we (he) learned how to take care of it.

And it grew like crazy over the past 5 years. This year we had the most grapes to date. Enough to make some stuff. So what did I do? I called my mom. And overbooked a Thursday. Anything to keep a tradition alive.

I’m super awesome at organizing and delegating but it often takes a village (or just my mom and some of her grandkids)  to pull off my ideas while I tend to 4 thousand other things.

My Nana used to make Grape jelly and grape juice and sometimes Uncle Frank and Aunt Mimi made some super concentrated vino. We’re not ready for that yet so my mom came armed with all the trimmings to make the jelly and some juice. image

Step 1 get some kids to help nana (my mom) pick the grapes because of course Hubs and I are working that day. Well, I had a little bit of time to help clean them during my morning coffee…

Nana getting all up in the vine on a Thursday morning...

Nana getting all up in the vine on a Thursday morning…

the girls putting the picked ones into a pot

the girls putting the picked ones into a pot

me, pretending to help

me, pretending to help

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picking the grapes off the stems

picking the grapes off the stems

So here’s where the real work begins and I leave the scene. Of course as part of the overbooked Thursday Eloise and I have Kindergarten orientation (during my work day as well as the grape production – if you’re keeping track that is 3 projects).

So we split the scene for a wardrobe change (of course there’s a wardrobe change; the outfits for grape picking and kindergarten orientation are WAAAYYY different), leaving nana with 2 grandkids and a husband who was on his way out in 10 minutes, to finish the picking and cleaning. So mom took some pics of the next few steps; the cooking and draining process. This takes about 4 hours so there was plenty of time for my dear sister-in-law to come over armed with a delicious lunch from Trader Joes and also towing with her, the last grandkid. Eloise and I, after a successful orientation came back to food and no work.

cooking the cleaned grapes

cooking the cleaned grapes

straining

straining

cooking again

cooking again

jellying....

jellying….

what makes it jellified...

what makes it jellified…

Now this is not a recipe post as that’s not really the point but if you’re looking for a slightly similar but a little simpler one, you can find it in this month’s issue of Martha Stewart Living. This one doesn’t require the sure gel step. For whatever reason, I don’t know the reason because I haven’t read it. My mom told me. 🙂

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So that was that. We revived the tradition a little half-assed this year. After my mom finished the project (MAJOR PROPS) and we were all jarred up and cleaned up, we then had to cook some dinner, get ready for soccer and also a party at my sister-in-law’s house. Oh, and finish the actual work day. It all came together though. And we had a fun night under the stars. Thanks Suz 😉

A few observations:

  1. I wouldn’t have been a part of this at all if I was still commuting and working crazy retail schedule.
  2. The jelly and grape juice came out great and now my mom should be ready to really teach us all next year.
  3. Sometimes traditions go away for a bit but there’s always room to bring the important ones back. And what do I like most about traditions? Making them a party!
  4. So next year will be the 1st annual grape harvest at my house. We will make it a party; which means wine and food will be involved. It will be planned way in advance so all parties involved can help, and will not include work, school etc. It will be a weekend day with no sports. I’m putting this in writing.

And Nana TT will be watching (and silently judging lovingly), from heaven.

xo friendsimage

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Old Habits….Some need to live on.

What inspires you? I know my, kids, my family, yada yada I know… NO. That’s all pretty awesome but, not anything like that. I mean something that only you do, by yourself. To you know get up and move, start a project, learn something new…

For me it’s the start of summer and exercising outside at night; it’s watching old episodes of So You Think You Can Dance with a glass of wine and promising myself to dance again someday; and most importantly for me, it’s reading real live fashion and style magazines…by the stack on a Sunday morning or at the kitchen counter on a Wednesday night and tearing out all the pictures that I am drawn to for whatever reason.

Oh Hello Karl, Muccia and Dolce...These 3 friends are always gracing the first 5 pages...

Oh Hello Karl, Muccia and Dolce…These 3 friends are always gracing the first 5 pages…and I do realize that there is an US Weekly thrown in there. One has to keep up on the celebs as well right?

I know. You’re all,  “You were a student of fashion for the past 25 years so what?” No. That’s not really the point. The point is that it is something I do to get my mind moving in a different direction. The colors, The glossy pages, the many type faces, the small snippet articles that just touch on newness.

Oh Hey Look! Kitten Heels are (FINALLY!!!) Back. It only took 8 or so years.

Oh Hey Look! Kitten Heels are (FINALLY!!!) Back. It only took 8 or so years.

As I sit in my 1993 neon yellow Gotcha T-shirt and Target gym shorts while sitting next to miss Eloise and simultaneously watching Full House re-runs, I can still get a hold on this “world” that to me seems to only exist in pictures. Even while I was still in retail, the whole “fashion world” as it used to be is more a thing of the past or this far away land called Paris.  There’s rarely anything super glamorous anymore in real life and that’s really ok.

But, In the magazines, this world still exists for a select few to live in and for people like me, to watch. Here, I’m still somehow connected to it and it still excites me. And I know, it’s not all that important in the grand scheme (sorry vm friends- not my words)… BUT if you’d care to watch Meryl Streep’s soliloquy as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada where she explains the importance of and just how the people on the street came to wear that “blue sweater”, I dare you to say that fashion is not an important spoke in the cycle.  Here:

Chilling. Anyway, this habit important enough for me to pick up a pen and paper and start writing about something. I can’t always find the time and I truly enjoy writing this little blog of mine. The images get my mind moving forward, my blood flowing, ideas forming for whatever… Maybe inspiration for a new color for the kid’s bathroom or to throw a pretty dinner party (someday) or to plan an outfit around a color or pair of shoes. Or maybe it’s just so I can look at a few pretty pics above my desk from time to time.

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STOP IT.

STOP IT. I used to touch things like this on a daily basis. 

pretty. glossy. pages.

pretty. glossy. pages.

It’s simple. It’s in my blood and it’s not going away. Just because I’m moving on doesn’t mean I need to discard all that I’ve worked on for the last 25 years. Theres more to be done. In time. For now I’ll keep reading my mags.

When Full House is finally over and Jesse and Joey have taught DJ a life lesson, Eloise sleepily glances over at me and says, “Whatcha doing? Doing your work?” Well put little miss. Why yes, yes I am.

xo friends!

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How to refinish a closet in 2 years and a big girl room in 1 week.

So it may snow in July because I finished my “closet”. Truth is it could very well snow because we did just have a tornado in South Jersey. But I digress.

So this closet project of mine stems from the fact that I use one of the four bedrooms in our house as my closet. And before you get all “it must be nice” on me, the room was turned into a closet before we bought the house. I just placed my belongings in it. And PS, I like my space. We don’t get a lot of overnight guests and the kids each have their own rooms so its been a good set up so far.

Anyway, after some consideration I did want to make some sort of respite for the occasional visiting family member or friend other than my 9 year old’s trundle. So for mother’s day, my husband ripped down the “shoe wall” and we finished painting and made space for a bed. (see the “unfinished business” post from 8 months ago for a refresher).

Good news is that this all tied into the re-do of Miss Eloise’s room for her big 5th birthday! Take the day bed from her and get her a new headboard and create more space for her to play (i.e. hoard things) in the process.

Take a look. I’m pretty pleased. Especially since this gave me a real live creative outlet that I’ve been lacking for the last 5 months from the broken arm situation. And now that I’m no longer in the retail biz, I will need to create more of these extra curricular projects to feed the creative bug inside my head. They will not always be this big of an undertaking but I’m sure I’ll find projects and rooms to rip apart.

Watch out friends….If I come into your home with a tape measure and power drill or 8′ ladder, you may be the next victim. You can pay me in coffee or wine depending on the time of day.

Below is the updated finished closet. I guess I’ll have to stop calling it that as it is a fully functioning guest room as well. Whatever.

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the cozy bed nook and some visual window props from yesteryear and a beautiful milk glass lamp my best friend’s mom gave to me when her mom passed….

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above the bed are some Rubin Toledo illustrations I snagged from old window installations, wedding pics and a framed tribute to my pop pop the shoemaker

above the bed are some Rubin Toledo illustrations I snagged from old window installations, wedding pics and a framed tribute to my pop pop the shoemaker

some fave pics I used to have at my desk at work... Stella Mcartney as a toddler, Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany's, My sweet pug Maggie...

more above the bed; some fave pics I used to have at my desk at work… Stella McCartney as a toddler, Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My sweet pug Maggie and some Carry On’s…

all the baubles piled on top of my kids old changing table

all the baubles are piled on top of my kids’ old changing table, a pic of my Nana’s wedding day is next to my own, and my ballerina slippers from when I was 5.

a framed tear from an old J.Crew catalog that pretty much describes my style

above the changing table; a framed tear from an old J.Crew catalog that pretty much describes my style

and...coffee table books for every empty surface I can pile them onto.

and…coffee table books for every empty surface I can pile them onto.

Here's the new

Here’s the new “shoe wall”; trimmed down quite a bit as I recently parted with 30 pairs…see ya ladies, moving on.

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the old

the old “shoe wall”

a shot of the actual closet space on the other side of the room. i am not afraid of a little color...

a shot of the actual closet space on the other side of the room and more of the ladder shelf I purchased for my shoes from http://www.pottreybarn.com . i am not afraid of a little color…

So that’s that. Closet chapter closed. 2 years in the making. On the other hand it took me all of 1 week to get that little Pistol Annie’s room fixed up just right… take a peek!

big girl bed! Headboard from wayfair.com beautiful butterfly quilt from landofnod.com

big girl bed! Headboard from http://www.wayfair.com and beautiful butterfly quilt from http://www.landofnod.com

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nessecary book nook

necessary book nook

even more necessary art station

even more necessary art station

When little princess was a baby I made this dollhouse for her from a shelving unit purchased from Wal-Mart. I ordered doll furniture off Amazon, taped some craft paper to the shelves to look like wallpaper and bought some wall vinyls of little woodland creatures to add to the kitsch. I made a roof and chimney from ribbon scraps. viola. Doll House for under $100.

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i meet come on look at how stinking cute this baby nursery is.

i meeeean come on look at how stinking cute this baby nursery is.

admittitly, I sometimes go into her room and set everything up just so...

admittedly, I sometimes go into her room and set everything up just so…

The window treatments are (get ready) an old Anthropologie paper calendar that I tore apart to re-use all the pretty prints (i couldn’t bear to toss it away).  I threaded it through some burlap and just flung it over the curtain rod.

I purchased those

I purchased those candle “chandeliers” in  2001 at a store that no longer exists. Illuminations. They used to hang in the living room of our old house. Reuse and repurpose all the stuff people!!!

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The wall decor is the same as when her crib and day bed were just below. A vintage ABC poster find from her brother's nursery, a hawiian dress my parents brought back for her before she was born, some early artwork done in daycare, a picture from my big girl room in the 80's, and a butterfly garland purchased from the flower show

The wall decor is the same as when her crib and day bed were just below. A vintage ABC poster find from her brother’s nursery, a Hawaiian dress my parents brought back for her before she was born, some early artwork done in daycare, a picture from my big girl room in the 80’s, a bird from an old holiday trim at work (his name is spot), and a butterfly garland purchased from the flower show

And every girl needs a bauble station like her mommy….DSC_0353

and also a place to put her stuffed animals…We’re currently on a 4 at a time rotation. She keeps the rest in her tent and in various spots throughout the house and cars. DSC_0344

There you have it. 2 years to finish my mess and 1 week for Pinky Dinky Do’s big girl retreat. Hope you enjoyed the pics and get inspired to move some of your own “crap” around and re-invent! Or call me… I have power tools and a ladder 😉

xo friends!!DSC_0396

20 valuable things I’ve learned from MJT

I’m gonna get right to the point; Like my dad always does.

Here are the most important things I’ve learned so far from my dad. Things that he may not have known I was paying attention to. Things that have shaped the way I live my life, make friends, work, and parent my children.

1. Don’t roll your eyes at your parents. Or anyone. (Not a good one to start with as the slow eye roll is a signature move of mine).

2. Keep your elbows off the table and chew with your mouth closed.

3. Be grateful for what you have and don’t ask for a toy every single time we go to K-mart. If you don’t ask and patiently wait through the garden and hardware sections, you may get to pick out a Barbie outfit.

4.Pillow fights are what you can look forward to after daddy has a long day at the office and misses dinner.

5. Get good grades and listen to the teachers/nuns in school. Because I will believe the teachers/nuns and not you. (back when teachers could teach and parents could punish)

6. Stop crying. Slow down. And tell me what happened. I will still Love you no matter what. (insert same convo at ages 5, 16, 21, 33, and 40).

7. Stop listening to adults talk with adults if you are not an adult. GO PLAY.

8. Don’t yell at your mother; Especially after she: took you shopping, threw you a party, made your prom dress, licked all the wedding invitation envelopes etc…

9. Listen intently. Speak intelligently.

10. Follow instructions but don’t be afraid to ask why and how.

11. Work REALLY hard. That way you are able to play hard.

12. If your boyfriend and your friends at 17 years old happen to drop off at you at your parents doorstep after a party and ring the bell and run back to the car before your dad gets to the door…MAYBE you should have re-thought those Bacardi Breezers,

13.  Never borrow money from a friend.

14. Be very cautious about going into business with a friend.

15. Never leave a job without having another one first.

16. If you want to have fun at a social gathering of any kind, do not talk about Politics or Religion.

17. You will probably marry someone very similar to your father. (I thank God I did, dad ;))

18. Family comes first at ALL TIMES. And sometimes your closest friends are just like family.

19. A few drinks on the porch with dad is sometimes more fun than a night out on the town.

20. The door is ALWAYS open for you. Just come home.

Happy fathers Day dad/daddy/pop,

love, me

xo friendsimageimageimage

June Is…

SUMMER IS HERE!

Can you tell that this is my season and that this marks the beginning (and end) of a brand new start… 13 weeks later and the arm is on the mend! So we will start this new beginning with a pictorial, if you will, because for many reasons I haven’t been able to settle in and write lately. School is almost out, sports are slowing down (never over), plans are being made for summer trips and we’ve been crashing a few pools. Oh, and I made the crazy, major, insane, and exciting decision to leave my Visual merchandising position of the last 14 years to stay home and build my husband’s business with him and be more a part of the kids growing up. That’s all. Not a whole lot going on.

(insert crazy eyed laugh here) More on all that later. for now…

JUNE IS….

All about having fun any way you can. My favorite month so far in my Ban-Do planner.

All about having fun in any way you can. My favorite month so far in my Ban-Do planner.

JUNE IS…

The first Friday night Bloody Mary at the BEACH

The first Friday night Bloody Mary at the BEACH

having an almost empty beach most of the month because schools and sports aren't out yet

having an almost empty beach most of the month because schools and sports aren’t over yet

JUNE IS….

Your 3rd grader's art show and being so proud,  and inspired that art in schools still exisits

Your 3rd grader’s art show and being so proud, and inspired that art in schools still exists

and graduating from Pre-school in a the-dye shirt that she made herself

and graduating from Pre-school in a tye-dye shirt that she made herself

JUNE IS…

playing a baseball game with family during happy hour on a Saturday

playing a baseball game with family during happy hour on a Saturday

getting to walk this path a hundred more times this summer

getting to walk this path a hundred more times this summer

JUNE IS…

Finishing projects (yes STILL the closet..estimated completion in my head is now August; thats 2 full years...)

Finishing projects (yes STILL the closet..estimated completion in my head is now August; thats 2 full years…)

Taking time to cut some of those blooms to enjoy inside

Taking time to cut some of those blooms to enjoy inside

and getting used to a new "office space" stay tuned on this one...

and getting used to a new “office space” stay tuned on this one…\

Happy Summer!! It’s just the BEGINNING!!

xo friends!

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