Category Archives: From the Heart

A Special Day With a Little DIY!

A Special Day With a Little DIY!

I rarely talk about my kids in depth and when I do, I do so sparingly. When I started this blog, I wanted to share my story through my DIY journeys without putting too much of their stories out there; that is up to them if they so choose.

However, with epic moments comes exceptions with their permission of course.  Last Sunday, No. 2 Son graduated from Springfield College ( Massachusetts)! It was a beautiful day and I am  so very proud of him. From my perspective,  his educational journey included some challenges, however, he triumphed in the end and that is all that matters.

On Saturday, we had a celebratory dinner with a few of our extended family members. We dined at Tao’s, a restaurant, a place we frequented on occasion during our Springfield visits for Family and Friends Day, school performance, etc.

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The Asian and Japanese cuisine is as great as the service. It was the perfect place to celebrate.If you are ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend it. It’s located at 31 Harkness Avenue, East Longmeadow, MA.

For dessert, I gave each person a single serve cake in a canning jar. I actually assembled them using cupcake slices and alternating it with layers of cream cheese frosting, all made from scratch of course.

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It was time consuming but I love offering a little DIY touch  whenever possible. However,  if I ever make them again, which I’m sure I will because they’re fun, I will bake the cake in the jars instead

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After dinner, we went back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep,  an early wake up call and a quick breakfast before the heading out to the graduation. This is our last walk through the corridor of  the Residence Inn in Springfield where we stayed many times. We prefer their apartment style layout. We’ve grown very loyal to the entire Marriot brand throughout our many travels.

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I love taking pictures of my guys from the back. I don;t why, but I do. Even with the blur factor, it’s still special.

And the graduation ceremony begins; It was held at the MassMutual Center.

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I’m so glad No. 2 son is tall, I can spot him anywhere. It made picture taking from afar that much easier.

 

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He’s about to get the official handshake. Missed  that one, oh well.

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One week later, I am still elated with joy. There’s nothing better than watching your kids succeed. Job well done! It was a special day for our family and I’m so glad a woman stopped and offered to take this picture for us.

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A blessed day all around. I’m so thankful. One down!

 

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One to go!

 

 

 

Digital versus Old School

Digital versus Old School

party invite

 

Digital dominance prevails; electronic communication – email, texts, social media posts – comprises the majority of our exchange these days with friends, family, coworkers, etc. We tap keys more, talk and/or handwrite less. Do you remember the last time you received a hand written letter or note? Card exchanges have dwindled, often restricted to holidays, loss of a loved one or an occasional birthday. Has it been the same for you?

This got me thinking about memory preservation and how, back in the day, keeping a collection of letters from a  loved one, friend or pen pal was the norm. Fast forward to our present day exchanges –  texts, tweets, posts and emails – a generic and quicker means to an end. Although they might contain meaningful dialogue and exchanges, they will never have that nostalgic appeal of their handwritten one on one predecessors. Think about it; have you ever printed an email for inclusion in a scrapbook or memory box?  I’m guessing not. Unlike handwritten correspondence,  electronic communication is devoid of any personalization and aesthetic beauty like penmanship, stationery design and impromptu freehand doodles. More importantly, a snail mail personalized message is intended for your eyes only and the intentions of the sender are so much clearer. Your message is not restricted to 140 characters and/or filled with texting acronyms.

 

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And how about our digital photos?. Most reside indefinitely on our phones, hard drives and or our social media accounts because that is how we share. As I write this post  I have 1035 photos on my phone.

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As you can see, only 109 have been categorized in separate albums. I think that’s a little telling of the lack of  importance of the other 926, don’t you think? Will the majority of these photos ever see the light of day? Probably not. I’m sure I’m not alone and the vast majority of the photos we take will forever reside in a digital void.  It’s been over three years since I put together a traditional photo album. Instead, I now store my keepsake photos, like those that I categorized on my phone or would have printed back in the day, on a dedicated hard drive, organized in file folders for quick access should the need arise to view or print them.

Realizing, on the one hand, that  digital technology allows us to restore and preserve history, I still wonder about the loss of those tangible remnants of our history that will never be created because we are so  digitally driven.

What do you think?  Is there an optimum digital versus old school balance for preserving memories? How do you store, collect and save your digital exchanges and memories?

 

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Loving The Voice

Loving The Voice

The Voice Season 6 has been a thrill to watch. The caliber of vocal ability is astonishing. Whenever I watch a competitive show, I usually root for the underdog, provided he or she has a sweet, humble disposition. Well this season there aren’t any underdogs. They’re all good! I do have my favorites, however, and sadly two, Sisaundra Lewis and Delvin Choice, have been eliminated. Even though they’re no longer on the show, I downloaded their songs so that I get to listen to them again and again and again….. As the semi finals approach, I will continue to cheer for Josh Kaufman.

The performances that blew me away are:

Though the show is about vocal ability, I find the fashion intriguing. I have such a deep appreciation for how people use fashion as a form of self-expression.

While Delvin adds unique flair and styling to otherwise traditional pieces

The Voice - Season 6

Josh has a vintage vibe that usually includes showcasing the ankles

The Voice - Season 6

and Sisaundra is all about classic style mixed with statement accessories.

The Voice - Season 6

As for the back stories, I have mad respect for both Sisaundra and Josh; Any parent can relate to the difficulty, heartache and mixed feelings of being separated from their children. However, by example, they are teaching the invaluable lessons of realizing one’s passion, following one’s heart and pursuing one’s dreams. Kudos to them for taking the plunge.

I hope Sisaundra and Delvin will reach their dreams along a different journey and Josh will triumph in the end.

How about you? Are you a fan of the Voice or any other competition shows? What are you most passionate about? Has pursuing your passion caused you to make hard decisions?

Spring has Sprung!

Spring has Sprung!

I think Spring has finally sprung and so have my seedlings. Yeah!!

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I know I’m a long way from success but I choose to focus on the possibilities rather then the end result.

 

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Whether or not these young tender plants establish themselves and hold their own outdoors awaits to be seen.

 

 

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I planted everything at the same time yet the tomatoes are ahead of the game. The eggplant and peppers are taking their sweet time.

 

 

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Can you see the little guy there trying to pop up?

I’m waiting patiently.

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I resist the urge to be a helicopter gardener:)

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So I placed this pretty peachy Begonia next to my young seedlings for gentile encouragement.

 

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Again, win or lose, I focus on the possibilities.  I will be cheering them on all the way.

Have you planted your garden already? What’s growing in your garden? Have any tips to share?

How Do You Get Into the Zone?

How Do You Get Into the Zone?

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girl with brushes

I wanted to share with you my last read, The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. I loved it! Even though my book club met two weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking about the main character, Claire Roth, a struggling artist who supplemented her non-existent income by painting reproductions of well known artist to sell on reproduction.com. She lost her credibility in the art community when she made the decision to paint a painting for her married professor boyfriend who was lost in an artistic manic episode in an effort to save his reputation. However, it all backfired propelling her to take part in an illegal forging scheme at the promise of her own art show. Claire struggles with internal and external judgement of being considered a master artist or master forger.

But why can’t I get Claire Roth out of my head? Probably because I can relate to her creative abilities and her intense painting sessions where she could stay in the present moment and create despite all the chaos and drama in her life. Here are a few excerpts:

“The shower cleans the sweat and the odor of fear from my skin, but it does nothing to wash away the residual emotions smoldering inside my body. Once I start painting though, the feelings disappear.”

“As the excitement grows at the thought of working on my own paintings, I push myself even more. I’ve taken to sleeping in multiple, short stretches during both night and day, upsetting my natural circadian rhythms and further cutting myself off from the cadence of the world…………I remain in the zone for longer periods of time than I ever believed possible.”

“When he leaves, I go right back to work. the zone is the safe place for me now.”

I can identify with that zone, that creative place one can go to escape, a place to take a mini break from everyday life and just be, reconnecting with who you are, all the while, filling your internal cup. Like Claire, who gets into her zone when painting, I am in my zone. of course, when I dabble in DIY and pursue my creative pursuits. It’s an important part of who I am. It’s cathartic, my respite and my heaven on earth.

Can you relate? What do you get lost in? How do you get into “the zone”?

The Meaningful Memories of Our Lives

The Meaningful Memories of Our Lives

In my continued quest to scrutinize all my home’s belongings, it is now time to deal with the ephemera of or lives.

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This, by far, will be the toughest challenge. I have saved a lot of snippets from my children’s lives and have my own memory boxes filled with the remnants of my life too. Letters (who gets those anymore), programs, cards and …….. There’s a lot and way too much to continue storing.

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The good thing is it is it’s all organized and much of it is labelled or in folders and archival boxes. And then there are the photos.

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Trust me, that’s not all of them, there’s more. I attempted a few albums here and there. however, the majority are in photo boxes rarely viewed. That doesn’t serve me or my family. I can do better.

So I’ve decided to reevaluate, purge, reorganize, digitize and assemble these meaningful remnants of our lives in a way that can be appreciated. I want to create containable stories of our lives that we can peruse instead of having to pull them from boxes in a closet to reminisce.  And so I have been perusing the internet looking for ideas and advice. I encountered this divide between those that save everything and those that save very little or nothing.

Aside from report cards and awards, I plan to ask my children what they value and evokes meaningful memories. And I’m sure this report on Mesopotamia won’t make the cut..

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I want it to be about them and for them. And if they don’t want to be bothered in the decision making  then I will have to rely on my own discretion. Hopefully,  a memory box, a binder and a photo album should suffice. The rest will be digitized and only a click away from their viewing pleasure if they would like  to take an all inclusive trip down memory lane. art page I get paralyzed by the artwork, though. I just love these chalk prints. Their masterpieces in my mind. I know, I know,  it’s not about me, it’s about them.

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I titled this one “boy floating in water”. I framed and hung it up on No 2 Son’s bedroom wall.

 

 

 

He painted it some time ago and has since taken it down and replaced it with this one. That’s a tell tale sign of what’s important, wouldn’t you say?

 

 

 

And it has gone beyond my children and extended it to my nephews and their basketball careers.

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My sister’s youngest is currently playing for the Boston Celtics.

And then there’s the sand art No. 1 son and I did together.  He was both Batman and Robin for Halloween. Hmmm, the creative wheels just started turning!  These might be  a nice added touch to a scrapbook page!

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Once framed and hung, I recently discovered.a poster from elementary school in the recesses of a closet. That handsome guy with the missing teeth is now  23 years old.

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It’s going to be hard to let go of some things, but it’s time and very necessary. I know it  will be in our best interest  to downsize our family’s memories into treasured keepsakes, manageable and in plane view, for our everyday enjoyment.

Okay so now it’s your turn!  Can you relate to any of this? Do you have a tough time letting go of life’s remnants and ephemera of yesteryear? What are your secrets for both enjoying and containing the memories? Please leave a comment below, I would love to know your thoughts.

 

 

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Between Naps on the Porch:Metamorphosis Monday

My Home is Almost Cured!

My Home is Almost Cured!

I haven’t been online too much because I am trying to keep up with my assignments for the Apartment Therapy January Cure; I started it at the same time I vowed to explore minimalism; actually both work hand in hand beautifully and shoving things in a drawer or closet is no longer an option.

So this past weekend, the assignment was to deep clean the living room. It wasn’t too difficult because my living room was already in a good place. To be true to the assignment,however, I did move all the furniture and vacuumed thoroughly including the baseboards. I’m still in the process of doing a family photo collage wall (Assignment 6 Making Your Home Your Own: Prep Artwork for Framing & Display). Haven’t located all the photos just yet and have to paint some of the frames but I’m just glad that I am on my way.
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I recently did a collage on the other wall after painting, but I’m altering that as well. I guess I have a thing for collage walls; perhaps because they can be rearranged and edited pretty easily.

Assignment #12 was bedroom  and wardrobe cleaning which I blogged about here and almost completed with the exception of my closet. Oh my closet, as tiny as it is, was a disaster. I’ll spare you the before pic. I took everything out and dove in.

 

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to try Project 333, limiting your wardrobe to 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months. You can read more about it here. It’s suppose to include shoes, but I didn’t take it that far, although I did downsize my shoes collection and donated 10 pairs and plan to list a couple I never wore on Ebay. The beauty of the Project 333 challenge is you can adjust it to your comfort level. There are no hard and fast rules. You decide what works or doesn’t work for you. So here’s my tiny closet that makes me smile each and every time I open it!

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I now have empty hangers!  And the top shelf  is devoted to most of my out of season clothing stored in those two grey totes.

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Assignment # 15, Declutter and Organize Bathroom Cabinets Cleanout,  which includes the linen closet, since there’s just no storage space in our pint size bathroom. Let.s just say it was another disaster that happened over time.

 

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You can see why it took me the better part of the day to get the job done and restore order.

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And yes, my heart sings once again. I’m in love with the order of it all.

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For those of you who may not know, square footage is a premium when it comes to New York real estate. I just went to an estate sale this past weekend. The home looked fine from the outside, but the entire inside needs to be gutted and the unfinished basement has some serious water and foundation issues; it was over-the-top moldy. The asking price is $869K. Realistically speaking, it would take at least $250K to fix it up. I know I digressed but I just wanted to explain why the majority of us live in tight spaces, real estate is very expensive. Even the million dollar homes are small and can still need work.

Back to the linen closet , would you believe I found a pair of my earrings stuffed in a bag of toiletries, left over from one of our family travels? They almost got thrown away!

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Here’s my outbox, a designated spot to put things to be donated tossed or waiting for a new home, looked like after a few of my assignments and decluttering sessions.

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I dropped off most of it off over the weekend. And a local animal hospital was as happy to take my old sheets and towels as I was keeping it out of the landfill. Yeah!

Flowers area a part of the weekend assignments so I picked up some from  Trader Joe’s. Their flowers are reasonably priced and I usually separate them and make two arrangements. One for the dining room table

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and one for the bedroom.

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Although this is the last week for the cure, I have a ways to go. The room by room project list I created at the start of the cure will take a while to complete. But in the meantime, everything is looking up! My home is almost cured and I am steps closer to my goal, keeping only what truly matters:)

 

 

Off to a Good Start

Off to a Good Start

I signed  up with Apartment Therapy’s Janurary Cure. It is a step-by-step guide to getting your home on track. As instructed,  I compiled my room by room project list. This weekend,  I took full advantage of being snowed in and decided to start in my boiler room clean out. It was a little overwhelming and I spent all day Saturday and Sunday sorting through fabric, trim, patterns, craft supplies and a host of other household stuff that got thrown in there because it was easier to do so rather then find a proper place elsewhere.  As a result, it became a catch all area that got out of control.

After some very strong internal dialog with myself, I began the process of letting go of the my unused creative stuff I got real with myself and packed it up to be donated to Material for the Arts which provides arts supplies to public schools and non profit organizations with performing arts programs. The rest of the household items will be donated to Savers and The Salvation Army, all to be dropped off ASAP because I want it gone!

So this is what it looks like now.

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It still has a ways to go, however,  it is the unfinished part of the basement. I’m ecstatic that I can see the floor again. Once the entire space is totally decluttered, Mr. DIY and I have plans to make it into an organized functional workspace.

By the way, if you are not impressed with the  picture above, perhaps you will be after you lay your eyes on the the before pic.
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Be honest, did it make you gasp? If it did, take a minute to catch your breath. Just wanted to keep it real. I m sure some of you can relate to  trouble zones such as these, whether it’s a junk drawer, catch all space or overcrowded garage. It’s something that just creeps up on you, festers and turns into an out of control beast. Perhaps I’m being a little dramatic but the trouble areas in my home are disturbing to my overall well being. Thankfully, I’m on my way  to turning all that around and enjoying the ride to only having what matters.

Do you have  a trouble spot in you home?

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!

 

2014

I have a real good feeling that 2014 is going to be a great year for everyone, including you! Although I am always optimistic, this year I am over-the-top optimistic and I’m welcoming the feeling with open arms because it feels good . Every year, I take time to reflect on the past year and think about what I want to focus on in the coming new year.

This year, I decided to focus on separating what really matters from the things that no longer serve me and hampers my creativity. My creative abilities and insight is a huge part of who I am and serves me in my everyday life. Recently, I discovered a collection of podcasts at Untitled Minimalism containing very meaningful discussions about living life to the fullest.  The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect for me. By the way, please don’t let the name  or subject matter deter you; the discussions go way beyond eliminating the excess in our lives. After listening to several of the podcasts, my take away has been a heightened clarity about how meaningless stuff interferes with your life’s true path.

Spending way too much time looking for something I know I have but can’t find because it got lost in an abyss of clutter in our two problem areas, the unfinished part of our basement and the garage doesn’t serve me. Both areas have turned into a chaotic nightmare that is both overwhelming and anxiety inducing. Realizing that when you have a home, even a small one like ours, it enables one to save stuff, too much stuff, for a “maybe one day” that might never happen. What’s the point? It’s my hope and mission to have in my home only what matters.  I intend to spend the year scrutinizing everything, deciding if it has purpose and whether it serves our family. If the answer is no, it got’s to go! Hey that rhymes:) Nothing will be off limits, including my creative supplies; trust me, that’s going to be very hard but I’m ready for the challenge!  I even plan to whittle down my wardrobe even though it is fairly small to begin with. I rather have a few pieces that I wear consistently than hold on to things that rarely see the light of day and may be of use to someone in need.

As always, I plan to take a creative approach to my first steps to a clutter controlled life. You see, I always fantasize about living in a one room cottage surrounded by nature.

dream cottage
courtesy of tinyhouselistings.com

with and outdoor area that looks like this

outdoor bliss

I will keep these retreats in mind as I scrutinize my belongings. Furniture aside, I will keep only the meaningful items that I would actually take to my fantasy dream cottage. I sure hope you will check back regularly to see how I am progressing. Yes, 2014 is going to be a good year!

What are your plans for the new year? Wishing you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!