Category Archives: Things I Love

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!

 

 

 

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?

Eggplant and Peppers

Eggplant and Peppers

Eggplant and peppers, hmmmm, that sounds like it can be a tasty combination.

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Fortunately, my eggplant and pepper seedlings are catching up to their tomato neighbors.

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A few days makes a world of difference. I love watching them grow little by little each day. It’s the simple things that make you sit up and take notice.

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Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday! I love Friday’s. I look forward to Fridays. I always have. I raised my children on “Happy Fridays”. Sometimes I would buy an unexpected treat just to celebrate the completion of a busy week and the beginning of a two day break.

Just in case you may not be in a happy state as you start your weekend perhaps a listen to “Happy” by Pharrell might do the trick. It’s my new personal anthem because it’s an instant mood booster.

What song do you claim as your personal anthem?

Happy Weekend!

How Do You Get Into the Zone?

How Do You Get Into the Zone?

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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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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:)

 

 

Belated Holiday Greetings!

Belated Holiday Greetings!

Post holiday greetings! I hope that you had a blessed holiday and are looking forward to the New Year. Although I adore this time of year, the holidays always seems to get the better of me. Even though my children are older, 22 and 12, and Christmas this year was very simple, I still found myself turning into the energizer bunny running on E. However, the many hours of preparation and endless tasks are a small price to pay for the joy and love floating in the air.  And the beautiful lights and decorations everywhere make my heart sing!

Speaking of decorations, I did manage to almost finish my vintage ornament wreath at the 11th hour on Christmas Eve. It was my Christmas gift to myself.  And here it is:

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I love it!  Although, I had 100+ ornaments, I still had to do another thrift store run halfway through. I had too many gold ones and not enough silver. However, as you might already know, you can’t go to a thrift store and expect to find just what you’re looking for. I did find another box of pretty teal blue ornaments though, and incorporated them into the wreath as well. As for the silver ones I needed more of, I decided to strip some of the gold ones I already had.

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Most vintage ornaments are usually silver on the inside no matter what color they happen to be on the outside.
After a few seconds in water, the color film crinkles and peels right off. But in order to retain the silver on the inside you have to avoid getting water inside the ornament. However, if a little gets in by mistake that okay too; If you pour it out quickly it might result in a mercury glass look like this one.

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Just know that it’s not an exact science and requires some experimentation. As for my wreath, I still have a few more spaces to fill. From afar the gaps are not too noticeable but close up they stand out like a sore thumb. When I take it down, I will fill them in at my leisure.

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While working on it,  I had a lot of casualties; some of the ornaments rolled  right over the edge of my work surface and shattered into a gazillion pieces. I will definitely have to wrap it in bubble wrap and find a sturdy box to store it in because it is very fragile. I think if I make another one, perhaps, I can find some vintage looking shatter proof ornaments instead. I’m not sure if there is such a thing but the new glittery ornaments in stores today just don’t do it for me.

As for our Christmas tree, my selection turned into a teachable and reaffirming experience. My intent was to have a cute table top tree instead of using our pre lit one. I wanted to try something different.  The tree I bought home, however,  turned out to be too big for a table top and too small for the floor. So I stacked it up on a crate to give it a little more height and called it our Charlie Brown tree. LOL. The poor thing sat bear until two days before Christmas. Finally, I asked my sons to have at it. I added a few pine cones and ribbon trim and,voila,

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our too-big to-be-on-the-table and  too-small-to-be-on-the-floor Christmas tree that can’t be taken too seriously.

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The last couple of years, I’ve been learning the importance of going with the flow and allowing what will be to be. The strive for perfection is so overrated and I have decided to move on and choose a different path. And although that path may be filled with many unfamiliar twists and turns, I am embracing and appreciating the imperfect goodness and uncertainty along the way. Each step brings me closer to the authentic life I want to lead.

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Let’s Hear It For the Leftovers!

Let’s Hear It For the Leftovers!

Happy Post Thanksgiving! I hope  your Thanksgiving was just what you wanted it to be. I definitely ate a little too much. But what I love more than the big day are the leftovers to be enjoyed the next day. Speaking of leftovers, I enjoy crafting leftovers too.

See those rubber remnants pieces in the background?  I just couldn’t throw them away after I finished cutting cut out the art stamps.

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I had an inkling I could do something with the leftovers  and when I saw the holiday  Crate and Barrel catalog,  I was immediately inspired.  I love their aesthetic and I frequent their store on occasion, however, this time I was inspired to DIY instead of  BUY. I used scissors to cut and shape the pieces to mimic the images shown on this page.

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Then, I used my good friend, the Dremel  Moto-Saw, to cut the plexiglass to the sizes I needed. Originally,  I purchased it to trim my art stamps; however,  I find myself using it for other things.  It is so handy when tackling a variety of crafting projects that require precision cutting.

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So from some crafting leftovers, I  now have some fun holiday inspired stamps.

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Some stamping is definitely in order. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s hear it for the crafting leftovers! Used any crafting leftovers lately?

 

 

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My Personal Project Runway Experience

My Personal Project Runway Experience

Last weekend, I had the greatest experience. I  attended a weekend class, Styling for Photography at Fashion Institute of Technology (aka FIT). About 15 minutes into the class, I realized  then content wasn’t quite what I was expecting. As a disappointing feeling started to take over, I quickly reframed my thoughts. As long as there is a take away , a bit of useful information or I walk away inspired, then it will be worth my while. And guess what? The class turned out to be fantastic and I had so much fun!

My reason for taking the class was to learn the art of styling photographs. Although effortless for some,  I find the process daunting. This class was geared toward someone who aspires to be a professional fashion stylist, however,  I walked away with helpful information and direction. There were two teachers, a professional stylist and a professional photographer. The photographer, Maria, was extremely helpful and  steered me in the right direction, suggesting the photography and still life styling classes that are more in line with what I was looking for.  She must of been a comedian in another life because she was soooooo funny.

Our assignment was to come up with a concept and message using the color brown. There were two teams of 6. Each team had to come up with a still life design and two fashion outfits. Everyone collaborated on the still life.Our concept and message was urban nesting with nature. We discussed the look we wanted to portray, decided on the items we needed and the outdoor  location for the shoot.  The next day, we collaborated some more and came up with the final still life shot and the photographer took the photos. And boy are they beautiful!  It will be a while before I will get her shots, so I snapped a few quick ones.  Here’s the still life using some of  the items we brought in.

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The bird  that looks like it’s sitting atop a nest is actually a hat that we will also used in our fashion shoot.

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After we finished with the still life, our team broke off into  two teams of three to create the fashion looks. We had a professional make up artist and model assigned to us for the shoot. Here are some of the fashion accessories we decided to use. I apologize for the horrible photo, Iphone and florescent lighting do not work well together.

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Here’s the first look styled by the other half of my team.

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It was so fun to see a professional model doing her thing up close and personal.

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Natural and effortless.

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And here’s the second outfit I helped style.

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Never in a million years would I think of putting all these elements together.

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Love, love, love the skirt!

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And that’s a crochet bikini top peaking underneath the faux leather jacket.

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By the way, the paper trailing behind her was intentional.

 

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As one of my teammates schooled me, “fashion doesn’t have to make sense”.

This is my favorite pose.

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She was as sweet as she was beautiful.

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I plan to take the classes the photographer suggested, one of which concentrates on still life styling, and maybe, just maybe, I will be able pull this off all by myself.

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This was one phenomenal experience! I felt like I was on me-cation/stay-cation. Laughing and learning are a great combo. I walked away elated and inspired.

Do you have natural styling ability or are you like me and struggle with it? Taken a me-cation lately?

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