Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

I will be working Christmas Eve, then heading, with kids in tow, to my brother & sister-in-law's house for a feast that I don't hve to prepare (WOOHOO!), sooo...

Merry Christmas to all and may God bless each of you!

I am so looking forward to catching up with your blogs as soon as the frantic pace of the holiday hustle & bustle has slowed down!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Minimalist Christmas

Although I have over 20 bins of Christmas paraphernalia, I keeping with my new approach to take a minimalist's approach with decorating this year. Okay, part of this is due to the fact that said bins are scattered all over the state of Connecticut, at the homes of various friends who have lent me "storage space" for my overflow of belongings. We haven't gotten our tree yet, but that will happen tomorrow or Tuesday. I'm still on a mission to get Christmas postponed until March, but I seem to be running that crusade on my own!

Goodies From Abroad

Sitting down to write a blog entry is my reward for working crazy holiday hours at the mall, then spending my free time trying to induce some festivity into my home. Mission accomplished on both fronts, so here I am!
A few weeks ago, after a particularly hectic day at Sephora (***sidenote: with the state of the economy as it is, how on earth can people justify spending $34 for mascara???), I arrived home to find a parcel from my sweet friend, Monica. I don't know how it is that little surprises pop up, from Monica, just when I need a boost of spirit! Inside the package was a beautiful, pink beaded bracelet that adorned my wrist the moment I opened it and one of Monica's exquisite dolls. "Chloe" is (as all of her creations are) a work of art. She is such a simple girl, my Chloe, but the craftsmanship is so perfectly detailed. Thank you again & again, Monica, for this gift of love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Roses

I was on my way to battle the throngs of last-minute, Thanksgiving shoppers and noticed that there were a few tenacious roses still blooming on my rose bush Shopping can wait a few minutes...
Thank you, God, for the little things in life that exist in spite of the odds being against them!

Vintage Suitcase Make-Over

I bought this fabulous, vintage suitcase at the Salvation Army (for $.99) during the summer and wasn't quite sure what to do with it. My travelling, these days, pretty much consists of running the kids around and my 3 minute jaunt to/ from work every day. It seems a shame to not utilize such a neat piece, so I decided it was make-over time. The suitcase is a tan suede and is lined in tan/ mauve satin (I left the inside alone for now). It's in terrific condition, but the tan was a little boring. I covered the front and back with a beautiful brocade fabric, added some cording around the perimeter and finished it off with some vintage lace pieces, ribbon, silk tassels and various "bits & bobs". I cut strips of the brocade and tied them around the ugly metal handle. I still don't know what I will use it for, but it's pretty to look at and was lots of fun to work on! I'm thinking it still needs a bit more "OOMPH!", but I'm trying no practice the "less is more" concept these days...not an easy task for this over-do-it girl!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Busy Bee

Thank you to my sweet friend, Monica, who gently reminded me that I have neglected to put "blogging" on my daily to-do list since I started my new job. I am slowly acclimating to balancing work and my responsibilities as a single mom. I am enjoying my job at Sephora, although there is a LOT to learn. It's certainly a far cry from working at The Fashion Exchange (a small clothing boutique)...welcome to corporate America! The job is very fast-paced, the atmosphere is always high-energy and both aspects suit me quite well. With the approach of "Black Friday" and Christmas, the "cast" has been primed to step up our game. Oh Boy....the next few weeks will either leave me in a catatonic state or have me ready to run a 5K! Fortunately, this job makes Christmas shopping least for the girls/ women in my life. I'm not sure how thrilled my 14 year old son will be about finding his stocking stuffed with exfoliating serums and lip plumping gels.

I am "off" all weekend, so it is time for me to catch up on the household duties that have been ignored during the week. Perhaps I will find a quiet moment, later today, to write about some of the Christmas goodies I have been working on.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No Justifying This One...

At 10:00 this morning, I realize I'm feeling a little hungry (skipping breakfast will do that to you), so I head down to the kitchen to rustle up a bit of "something". Eggs? Nope. Wholewheat sourdough toast? Nah! Strawberry yogurt with granola & fruit? Not gonna cut it. Nothing is tickling my taste buds, so I'm ready to shut the refrigerator door and wait until lunch, when I spy a 1/2 of a small(ish...okay, not even really "ish"...more like small-medium) wheel of brie. Just a few pieces on some crackers would make a lovely snack, thought I. Ohhhh, I have some yummy organic preserves, from my sister, and a bag of slivered almonds. Baked brie for breakfast...why not? My house, no kids home, so anything goes! Twenty minutes later, I have devoured all but the tiniest piece of brie and refrained from licking the preserved juices off the plate. This was a delicious moment of gluttony that I can't even blame on P.M.S. Sometimes, I gotta admit: it's good to be the grown-up and be free to make wild-impetuous decisions :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Expanding My Horizons

A few weeks ago, during a trip to Michael's craft store, I decided to get brave and explore the jewelry making aisle. I don't know why this particular section always held an air of superiority which intimidated me, but I had, literally, never felt worthy of venturing into this uncharted territory. Ohhhhh boy....I should have held onto my preconceived notions. I love jewelry and accessorizing is a huge part of my personal style, so this was, for me, fairly close to a spiritual awakening. Fortunately, I was using a gift card, from a friend, so I was limited in the amount of damage I could do. I stuck with items that inspired me, but looked user-friendly. My intention/ justification was to make several pieces to give as Christmas gifts. I had no idea how unpalatable it would be to consider parting with my creations. Perhaps that will change as the holidays get closer....or not! ***If you look closely, you can see that I forgot to remove the clear plastic, protective cover from the aqua bird charm...OOOPS!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cozy Corners

It dawned on me, today, that I haven't posted any pictures of our new home. I must confess: that is largely because I still have bins stacked throughout my living space and have run out of room to put things. I am aggressively purging, but (as I'm sure you will all agree) that takes time and my final adieus get a little drawn out. I realized I could easily photograph around the bis, thus creating the illusion of a neat & orderly abode. 'Course I blew that out of the water when I fessed up to the true state of clutter, but I'm nothing if not candid about my chaotic life :-)
Since I've already forgotten what cozy corners I photographed, the pictures will just have to speak for themselves.
I am now off to memorize the Sephora handbook. Tomorrow is my first day of training and, I must admit, I'm good and ready to get out of the house and venture out into the wide, wonderful world of grown-up people!

I'm Sorry, I'm Sorry, I'm Sorry

I just HATE when this happens: I go blog surfing, come across a fabulous idea that I decide to borrow, but can't remember whose blog it came from. I tried...I really, really tried to find the creative lady behind this wonderfully simple gift idea. After an hour of getting distracted by the other wonderfully simple gift ideas you all have come up with, I give! I simply cannot find the blog I was looking for, so I apologize to....?

She (who-shall...for now...remain-nameless) bought travel coffee mugs from the Dollar Tree store and transformed them...too cute! I ran down to my Dollar Tree & snatched the remaining mugs. The store manager, who knows me TOO well, said a woman had been in the day before and bought a case of the mugs. I wonder if she was inspired by the same beautiful blogger!

The project was SO easy, quick and budget-friendly. I removed the cup insert and used the template they included to trace the pattern onto scrapbook paper and wrapping paper. I added some ribbon to some of the cups, stickers to others...whatever I had on hand. The blogger, from whom I borrowed this idea, did monograms on her cups. I added a ribbon for wrapping and am going to pop Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks gift cards inside and have my daughter give them to her teachers for Christmas.

***Sidenote: Having taught for 11 years, I feel confident in speaking for MOST teachers...every thoughtful gift, from a student, is a cherished memento. That said, one can only accumulate so many "#1 Teacher...Grade A Teacher...Head of the Class Teacher" mugs before they lose some of their sentimental value. I always felt a deep appreciation for homemade gifts. Pair that with a gift card for coffee and you're bound to have a happy teacher!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gainfully LAST!

I haven't spent any time lamenting about my job search woes because...well, my personal life woes are enough for all of you to tolerate. I have been without steady income, however, for almost a year. Suffice it to say, as a single mother of two, that's just not good. It has taught me some very important, albeit painfully humbling lessons about reaching out for help. Thanks to the support of my wonderful family, I have been able to keep my head above water...just barely. A few weeks ago, I applied for a job at Sephora, but I never heard back from them...which had become my expectation, given the current economy. Last Tuesday they called me for an interview, which (if I do say so myself) went beautifully. I'm one of those really weird people (OKAY, stop nodding your heads in agreement and let me finish!)...I'm one of those really weird people who enjoys interviewing. I think my lack of anxiety stems from 2 things: 1.) I pray first and put it in God's hands...which is where it is anyway, but He appreciates that acknowledgement anyway and 2.) I love meeting new people, so I try to focus on that aspect of the process. The manager called me back yesterday afternoon, asking if I was still interested. I stopped short of shouting, "You bet your sweet Sephora butt I am!!!". I start training next week and am SO excited. I think I'll really enjoy the job and I believe it's something I can do well at. It's only supposed to be for a seasonal position, but they told me it's very likely to extend beyond that, assuming I am a good "fit". I have to do that legwork, but that too is in God's hands. For now, I am simply grateful to have found a job! WOOHOO!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


My parents just celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary, on October 25th, but I had to wait until they left on their trip to Bermuda to write this post :-). My mom married my "step" dad when I was 10 years old and my brother and I were blessed with two, wonderful sisters and a father who could pretty much part the Red Seas, with minimal effort. I've written about my dad before, so I'll try not to sound like a Hallmark commercial in this post. Suffice it to say, he is the best man I have ever known... bar none!

My parents are completely committed to each other; they put the other's happiness before their own, they are daily life, in parenting, in everything they do. Whether they made a conscious decision to do so, my mom and dad put their relationship first and everything, kids, friends, family, homes...was under "them" on their list of priorities. Selfish? Not at all! That is as it should be, in a healthy marriage. That relationship is the foundation upon which all others rest. If it's not solid, everything goes down with the first hearty gust of wind. Thirty three years after they said "I do", the building my parents sisters, my brother, four grand-daughters & three still standing: strong, proud & beautiful. Thanks to my sister for sending this picture to all of the siblings on "our" anniversary. It says it all!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hydrangea Wreath

My landlord was kind enough to let me cut bunches and bunches of hydrangea, from the bushes outside of the house. He's a sweet, older Italian man, who looked at me cock-eyed when I made the request.
"Help yourself, dear", he said, "but why do you want the flowers when she's a-dying?"
"Projects!", I explained.
He shrugged his shoulders and waved me toward the bushes.
I happened to cut the flowers, apparently, at just the right time. I popped them into vases and let them dry for a few days and (at the suggestion of some floral arrangement website) I soaked the heads in warm water for 15 minutes before it was time for wreath assembly. The "expert" assured that this would 1.) loosen all of the brown petals...which it did and 2.) make them easier to work with because they were less brittle....also true.
I simply stuck the flower heads into a green foam thingy, added a few silk flowers for color, tied a bow on top and she's a-finished! Cute, huh? Oh, because I am the queen of more, more, more...I decided to add a tiny bit of mica glitter to a few of the leaves. Just a touch of shimmer.

Gretel & Co.

Yesterday, Caroline decided that Gretel needed a playmate. Her reasoning was quite sound: "It's gotta be hard living with people every day". (There are days when I couldn't agree more...too many people, in my life, and not enough furry friends :-)

I'm not sure if Gretel and "Chloe" are destined to be kindred spirits, but it made for a cute picture!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Morning Glory

Once again, the title of this post doesn't really fit the subject matter. It was the first, semi-clever thing that popped into my sleepy brain, but I'll do my best to tie it together. As I have mentioned, repeatedly, my sweet daughter is not a morning person. The waking-her-up routine takes no less than 1/2 hour...and that's just to get her eyes half opened! Often, by the time she is heading out the door for school, we are both in absolutely foul moods because of the battle we have just engaged in. Sometimes our pup has more luck than I do with getting Caroline to face the day. Although I have tried every trick in the book, to rouse my sleeping "angel", I stop short of licking her face. That's reserved for the big guns...c'mon, Gretel!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Autumn Sacrilege

Normally, when I have something to confess it's best to grab hold of your seats and hunker down for a wild episode of As My World Turns...UPSIDE DOWN! Sorry friends. Nothing juicy or dramatic this time! Stay tuned, though, as that could shift on a moment's notice!
I am a full-blown, born & bred New Englander from the top of my W.A.S.P.-y head to my raised-in-Connecticut toes. With that kind of upbringing comes a natural love of all things sandy & salty, fresh Maine lobsters served with lemony butter ( brown bread, cole slaw and baked beans), lighthouses in all shapes/ sizes/ locations, plopping fresh-picked apples into wooden baskets, extra sharp & crumbly cheddar cheese (best served with freshly-baked apple pie), tromping through the snow in search of the perfect Christmas get the picture. I can neatly check of all of the "You Know You're A True New Englander" criteria, with one exception.

***time for those of you who live in warmer climates to cover your eyes.

I HATE FALL! There...I said it! I do. I HATE it. Maybe it's because I have such a deep devotion to the spring and, to me, fall is the anti-spring. While throngs of people flock to the New England states to view the kaleidoscope of changing leaves, all I can do is lament the passing of trips to the beach and grumble about having to wear shoes (which touch my feet, only when necessary, from May-September). The falling leaves make me sad, the shorter days make me grumpy and the kids going back to school...okay, there is one reason to appreciate the bygone days of summer:-)
I do enjoy the crisp evenings and cozying up under my down comforter with a good book. I love being able to make the first fire of the season (alas, my new home does not have a fireplace, which I shall sorely miss ::sniff::). Give me some credit, I'm trying my best to compile a "Fall Gratitude List" here, but I'm running out of items to add. Ohhhhh, switching wardrobes for the season is always fun and there's nothing like slipping into a comfy sweater and my favorite pair of jeans. Boots! I have a near-gluttonous collection of boots that I am able to get reacquainted with.
I happened to glance out my bedroom window, this afternoon, and noticed that one of the trees in my front yard was blazing with vibrant color. 'How beautiful!", thought I. What????? A glimmer of appreciation from this autumn loathing gal? I grabbed my camera and spent a few minutes trying to shift my attitude. Perhaps, after all these years, I'm turning over a new....leaf! HA HA HA...get it? New...leaf...fall...changing? Oh, nevermind. It's an inside joke.

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Mundane Fashion Finds

Since I'm cooped up, in the house, with my son...who has been home all week from school...I might as well try to make up for the 2+ months during which time I was MIA. It also keeps me distracted from the disappointing fact that we had to cancel our trip to see my mom and dad in Maine this weekend :-( My son had strep and an ear infection, for which he is taking antibiotics, and has now developed a secondary viral infection that just has to "run it's course". That's medical talk for: hunker down and put your lives on hold until the ICK leaves the building!

Last week, while I was beginning to organize our cool weather clothes, I realized I had virtually NO sweaters. A New Englander with no sweaters? Blaspheme! I had several bags of the kids' outgrown clothing to drop at Sally's so...

Naturally, I waited until Wednesday (50% off all clothing, shoes & accessories) and I went with a mission: sweaters and nothing else. Miracle of miracles: I stuck to my resolution. I must admit, I did step outside of my own comfort zone, in that I chose very classic, traditional tops (almost :::gulp::: preppy!). Interesting, yet little known personal fact; when I turned 40 (3 years ago), I could no longer wear turtlenecks. Having my neck constricted, in any way, drove me to the point of nearly stripping off my top with no regard for my surroundings. Not good, so I decided to avoid them altogether. For whatever reason, the idea of a cozy turtleneck sweater appealed to me this year, so I started rebuilding my collection. I'm not stupid, though, I tried one on first...just to be sure the Pavlovian reaction was gone. Sure 'nuff. I was cured.

Who cares about all of that? What'd I get? Oh, before I get to that (for those of you who don't know me personally, can you just imagine what it's like to have a face-to-face conversation with me, the Queen of Tangents???), the main reason for this post is to, once again, try to woo those of you who are second-hand sissies out of your corners. Step into the thrift store light. Why would you ever choose to pay the ridiculous prices at the mall or department store when you can, with minimal effort, expand your wardrobe exponentially for less money. So what if someone else has worn it? That's what washing machines are for. If you're really cootie conscious, take it to the dry'll still save money.

Back to the regularly scheduled topic....ummm...which was....oh yeah! My haul of sweaters.

~Lime green, heavy cotton t-neck sweater with really cool slits up the sleeves (Ann Taylor)

~Colorful, cotton/ silk, v-neck sweater (Talbots)

~Plum, heavy cotton t-neck, cableknit sweater (Eddie Bauer) ***this was really a stretch for me as it was both a turtleneck and falls into the category of "purple", but it looks cute on

~Pale lavender (what's with this change in my taste), angora sweater with a really pretty cowl/ off-the-shoulder neck that has subtle embroidery...great for dressing up a bit (Sleeping on Snow...never heard of them, but I like the name AND the top)

**not pictured

~a paler green, silk t-neck sweater (Ann Taylor)

~a GORGEOUS, wide boatneck, Irish cableknit (Handmade)

Grand Total: $6.98

Monday, October 5, 2009

Yellow & Blue

I may have made mention of the fact that yellow, blue & white is my favorite color combination. The irony is: I don't ever recall doing a room...or any part of my home...using those colors. I was at Salvation Army, last Wednesday, for Family Day (50% off everything in the store) and hit my color combo heaven when I got to the linens section. Clearly, someone shared my love of these three colors and had donated a ton (no exaggeration) of goodies. Now, the "linens section" of Sally's is a bit of a misnomer. Fact is; the "section" consists of 4 industrial size rolling bins, into which all of the linens are dumped. You literally have to climb into the 8 ft. bins, hold your breath and dive for hidden treasures. Some ladies actually choose to take their shoes off first. Me? I keep 'em on for fear of getting impaled by a rabid curtain hook. Shoes also help with kicking through the mountain of tablecloths, sheets & window treatments.

Last Wednesday I was in luck when I spotted a layer of yellow and blue, floating on the sea of linens. No dumpster diving required! Woohoo!I managed to find, with minimal effort: a blue & white Waverly sofa cover, a plaid Laura Ashley bed skirt, a pale yellow hand knit throw only disappointment...ONE thermal lined, Laura Ashley curtain. I found the matching tie-back, but not the other curtain. The pattern is so pretty and high-quality, though, that I figured I could eventually transform it into something fabulous. Now I have the beginnings of my yellow, blue & white dream room. I think I'll hold out until the spring to begin the transformation of my cozy living room. The best part...bed skirt: $.99, curtain: $1.99, knit throw: $.99 and sofa cover: $2.99. Divide that in half (because it's Family Day at Sally's) and my grand total was... $3.48!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Headboard for My Un-Girly Girl

My Caroline has finally taken pity on my incessant quest to slip a bit of femininity into her tomboy world. I have given up...for visions of crinoline, pink satin bows and tea parties. Another era and certainly another type of child! She surprised me when we moved into our new place and "allowed" me to decorate her room. I had snagged an adorable, shabby chic bedroom set at a tag sale this spring: quilt, bed skirt, 2 sets of twin sheets, 2 area rugs, valance, pillow sham, 2 small pillows, a wastebasket, a light switch cover and an electrical outlet cover....all for $10! Okay, when I tried to put it all together, it was way to "matchy matchy" for my taste. I knew I wanted to use most of the bedding and found a Laura Ashley bed skirt at Salvation Army for $.99 that compliments the quilt. I hung some sheer curtains that I already had and put the rest of the set away.

Her headboard was an old mantle that had been left behind in the "other" house.

:::PAUSE::: I am suddenly struck was an undeniable sense of deja-vu. Have I already written a post about the headboard well as her shabby chic bedroom set????? Or, was it one of those subjects on my blog post to-do list??? Oh, Heavens to Murgatroid! I don't recall. I could go through my archives, but I'd rather not. I'm just going to keep writing and pretend this is all new to you.

I painted the headboard a pale, pale blue. I had bought one of those 4 oz. paint sample jars to try out in a bedroom, wasn't crazy about the color on the walls, but...waste not, want not! I loved how it looked on the headboard. The little decorative piece was something I've held onto for years, waiting to find a home for it. A white little spray paint to cover the rusty silver finish & it was the perfect finishing touch for the headboard. The mantle top is ideal for displaying some treasures. The bunny was a particularly special gift from my friend Monica, which Caroline snatched off of my dressing table and proclaimed that it "belonged" in her room. I have no idea how long this indulgence will last, so I will relish it until my little princess announces she wants a skull & crossbones theme.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Dollar Store Romance

Since I have taken a solemn oath to steer clear of any/ all species of men, I had to fill the gap in my heart with something equally powerful, enticing and challenging. Thank you, Lord, for finding me the perfect replacement in The Dollar Tree Store. For those of us who 1.) are addicted to the endorphin rush of uncovering a bargain, 2.) are restricted by a tight budget and 3.) are mathematically challenged to an embarrassing degree, the dollar store is truly the ideal mate! Since we were out of toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner, today's trip was a real necessity. After stocking up on basic hygiene supplies, I meandered down the home gadgets aisle and found these adorable light switch and electrical outlet covers. Yes ladies, I know...I have the crafting ability to decoupage or fabric cover my switches, but 1.) these decals are too cute and they match my bedroom, 2.) it took me all of 10 seconds for each revamp 3.) they can be easily removed when the mood to change decor hits (several times a year), 4.) they won't permanently alter the covers/ plates in my rental home....and 5.) the total cost was $1 for four coordinating sets. I grabbed 3 other sets to use as stocking stuffers.