Monday, January 31, 2011

Sharing the love with a CSN Giveaway

January always makes me feel like redoing everything in my house. After the coziness of the holiday trimmings are put away, I feel the need to change things up. Of course, this burst of decorating energy always occurs when there's not much money to play with.

BUT...if you are feeling the same way, I've got a little gift to share to help you freshen up your home. The nice peeps at CSN have offered up a $25 gift card to any of their stores. WHOOHOOO! Have you ever been to their site? They have e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Seriously, if you want something for your home, you will find it at one of their sites. They've got over 200!

Right now I'm on a modern kick. We are slowly (verrrryyy slowly) redoing our house to have more of a hip, modern beach style. I'm not exactly sure what that will transform into, but I know the things that I like. And a lot of those things are available at CSN.

I've been searching forever for a new desk chair. This cool, round chair, on their All Modern site just might fit the bill. That deep seat looks ample enough to fit my ever expanding hiney.

Of course, this Dash and Albert throw is also calling my name. It's no secret I have mad love for all things Dash and Albert. I think this would look great at the end of my bed.

But, this is not about me. It's about you! What would you get if you win?

Here are the details:
* If you want to enter, just leave a comment below. 
* Followers, leave a second comment for another entry.
* Not a follower? That's ok. Become a follower, and leave a second comment to also get a second entry. :) 
* Giveaway closes on Thursday, February 3rd at midnight EST. 
* One lucky winner will be chosen at random on February 4th.
* CSN only ships to the US and Canada. So please be aware if you're living in some wonderful, exotic locale that you will not be able to claim this prize. Sorry! I'll have something else in the future that includes you lovelies also. Pinky promise.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Come and Knock on Our Door...

I love projects. Well, actually, I love the idea of projects. The possibilities. The hunt for the perfect piece to transform. The excitement of something new.

It's the follow-through that bogs me down. I've said it before. I have design ADD. I can't stay focused on one project before another one starts calling my name. Maybe if my funds were unlimited I'd have my dream house. I have a vision, but don't have the money to back it up. I always fall in love with the $90+/yard fabric or the $3,000 light fixtures. So, I have to move at a snail's pace on every project. And by the time everything is about to fall into place, I'm ready to change the whole look.

Every closet in my house is crammed with half-finished projects. BSD's garage has quite a few unwanted guests squatting on his sacred ground. And I get an earful about their extended stay every few weeks. I need to hurry up and do something with them or they are going to find themselves evicted.

Well, it's too cold to paint in the garage so instead I finally finished up a smaller, warmer project I started in December. A yarn wreath.

I've seen these yarn wreaths everywhere. I just love them. There are so many different looks out there. The possibilities are endless. And that of course is one of the reasons it took me so long to make this. Too. many. choices. But I saw one like this in a magazine recently and knew it was THE one. I'm more of a copycat than an original idea generator. Plus, I was a little intimidated by the felt flowers. Until I found a great, easy tutorial here.

I am pretty pleased with my new project. Looking at these pictures now, I think I may need to add a few extra "leaves" to the left side of the flowers to balance it better. Knowing me, I'll probably never get around to doing it. But at least the Christmas wreath is finally gone.

NOTE: If you plan to make a yarn wreath, here are two suggestions for what I would do differently. 

1) Use "chubby" yarn. Thicker yarn makes it go faster. The yarn I used here was ultra thin making it more tedious to work with and harder to cover every speck of the wreath underneath.

2) Take the time to turn the skeins into yarn balls. I didn't do this at first and the skein kept unraveling so I'd have to stop working to constantly rewrap the thread around the skein.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

I've been looking over some old photos, and I am struck by my mother's sense of style. I knew she loved fashion. As a kid we used to look through all the store catalogs together... Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bonwit Teller. We'd rate the outfits. Just like Joan and Melissa. Shopping was a favorite pastime that we shared. I guess I never paid too much attention to what she actually wore though. Until now.

 Mom at a costume party.

In every photo, she looks so pulled together. And she always has on at least one statement piece of jewelry. I guess that's why she was so adamant about my sister and I going through her jewelry and taking what we wanted. As we looked through the pieces, we were amazed that so many of them triggered specific memories. Luckily, my sister and I have very different tastes so there was no fighting over who got what. My sister just wanted a few pieces as a reminder to keep in a drawer. I, on the other hand, wanted the pieces I remembered her wearing. With the intention of wearing them myself. As a way to keep her close.

I've been considering linking up to the What I Wore Wednesday party at The Pleated Poppy for a while. A week before I left for CT I tried to take pictures of some of my outfits so I could link up. I figured it was only fair since I like taking a peek at what others are wearing. Plus, Kathy over at My Interior Life and Jill from Blessings of a Stay at Home Mom gave me a "Stylish Blogger Award." Not sure they were referring to my clothes, but oh well. Thank you both for the award in whatever context you meant it. :)

So here goes. If I decide to do this again in the future I need to learn how to take a decent picture of myself. One where I don't have three hands. Or hand prints on the mirror in unfortunate locations.

sweater - Banana Republic (gift from my mom)
t-shirt - Target
leggings - Hue
  boots - North Face (never thought I'd wear them in VA but it's been COLD!)
necklace - heart locket (gift from BSD)

 sweater and tank top - JCrew
jeans - Lucky
boots - TJ Maxx
necklace - MY MOM'S! :)

sweater- TJ Maxx
shirt - Forever 21 
pants - Anthro (bought them with my mom)

BSD made fun of me the day I wore this. Said I looked like a "cowgirl."

shirt- Target
jeans - Paige (I think. Can't remember which ones these are.)
boots - Frye
necklace - TJ Maxx (is it dumb to list necklaces when you can't really see them?)

dress - TJ Maxx (bought with my mom)
tights - TJ Maxx
boots - same "cowgirl" Frye boots
necklace - MY MOM'S (big grin)

I really liked this outfit until I saw myself in THIS picture.
 umm...where did the baby come from?!?!? seriously, I need to lay off the chocolate peanut butter ice cream. either that or make sure nobody takes anymore profile pics of me!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Comfort food. That's what I'm craving. That's what I'm making. It's something to do. A place to shove the grief. Tastes to soothe the heart.

I'm back home. And I don't know what to do with myself. Moving forward seems wrong. Like I've forgotten her already. Sitting still is suffocating.

So I'm carrying on.

Doing laundry. Going shopping. Cooking.

Anything but sitting still.

When I returned home there was some kind of sticky, brown goo in the fridge. Barely through the front door, I became fixated on cleaning out the fridge. I tossed. I scrubbed. I organized. And when I was done, I discovered four open boxes of chicken broth and two open boxes of vegetable broth. What the f#$%?!?

I was all over BSD. Mr. Organization had dropped the ball. I still can't comprehend how this happened. This is something I would do. Not him. My world is definitely out of whack. I had to fix this. Too much has gone wrong in my life recently. I can't live with four open boxes of chicken broth and 2 open boxes of vegetable broth. They had to go.

But I couldn't throw them out.

As much as they were bothering me, I couldn't just toss them. I kept staring at them. Thinking about them. Dwelling on them. Until I finally pulled out the big red pot. And lost myself in the process of turning them into something else. Something warm.

Something healthy. 

Something comforting.

I found this recipe while running on my treadmill yesterday. It is Creamy Broccoli Soup with NO cream in it. There was also a recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup. That is simmering in my crockpot right now. I think these recipes were a sign. All four of the open boxes of chicken broth and two open boxes of vegetable broth have now been used. I feel calmer already.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used the 2 open boxes of vegetable broth.)
1 large head broccoli, florets chopped and stems peeled and chopped
1/4 cup rolled oats
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper. Cook until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add broth, broccoli, and oats. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until broccoli is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. I sprinkled the top with some shredded cheese. Made it more comforting that way.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or transfer in batches to a blender and puree.  

Thank you to everyone who left such thoughtful and loving comments on my last post. I cherished each and every one of them. Reading them felt like a great big hug when I really needed one. My mother passed away over the weekend. She fought a long and hard battle with a rare form of cancer. She lived with incredible pain for many years. She never complained. She never stopped taking care of everyone around her. She was so strong and so brave. And I am grateful that I had the chance to tell her. It hurts to have lost her, but I am grateful that she is no longer suffering.

 I actually took this photo of my parents with my dad's Leica when I was about 6 years old. Guess I already knew a little something about the Rules of Composition back then. ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I took these pictures of my sister in December when I was up in Connecticut visiting my mom. They were for the last assignment of my photo class. Using my sister's camera, I found some beautiful light in her tiny upstairs room and took some photos of her. It was the last day of that visit. We had just woken up. She was such a trooper. She didn't even brush her hair. Or her teeth. She just sat and let me explore. The light. The space. Her face.

When I got home I showed them to BSD. His response was, "Those are not very flattering pictures of your sister." I wanted to argue, but I didn't think he'd understand. These portraits may not be flattering in a mainstream way. But I only see beauty.

I see the beauty in a woman who is not afraid to let a camera take her picture as she steps out of bed.

I see the beauty in a woman who has been going to work in the morning, 

who spends her lunch hour by our mother's side, 

who goes back to work, 

who goes home for dinner, 

and then goes back to the hospital to be with our mother in the evening. 

Every day.

Every lunch.

Every evening.
For weeks. And weeks.

I can only hope to be half as beautiful as she is.

I typed the majority of this post with one hand. Holding my mom's hand while she slept in the other. I am back in Connecticut with my mom and my sister. This past week has been a gift. As hard as it's been. As many tears as I've shed. I am grateful for these last few moments we will share. I'm not looking for sympathy. I just wanted to update you on why I've been gone.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Slide Show Sunday: New Year's Eve 2010

A few years ago we spent New Year's Eve in New York with my parents. We went into NYC to take the ballerinas to the American Girl doll store. It was heaven on earth for them. For the adults, it was an overcrowded nightmare. But BSD and the Big Ballerina probably had the most fun stopping at every hot dog vendor they happened upon. I think the final count was five "street dogs" before the day was done.

New York City is my parents' stomping grounds. It's where they both basically grew up, met and worked their entire lives. For many years, my dad worked for the Associated Press in Rockefeller Center so that day we stopped inside to warm up. My dad tried to take the Big Ballerina ice skating, but the line was way too long. I think back on that day often. I so wish he would have been able to take her. I know it would have been a lifelong memory for her. Unfortunately all the ballerinas remember of that moment was when Grandma spilled coffee on BSD.

This year I decided to make that memory for the ballerinas. Unfortunately, it was without Papa. Without Grandma. And without Rockefeller Plaza. But it was close.

There was snow.

There were crowds. 

There was ice skating.

And best of all. There was love.

Hopefully, we'll get back to New York City one year and do the real Rockefeller Plaza skating for Papa. But for now. This felt good.

Later that evening, at our house, we carried on with the festivities. I think the Big Ballerina had the most fun. She partied like a rock star.

The Little Ballerina did her share of partying too.

There may have even been some table dancing,

a teeny bit of champagne,

a bunch of kissing,

and some careful countdown monitoring.

And finally, the stroke of midnight arrived.

 And we were all awake. And together.

And hell bent on making sure the whole neighborhood knew it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


QUESTION: I've gone in and resized the photo and have posted 2 different sizes. The top one is smaller. I see the whole photo on my desktop, but when I switch to my laptop I get a cut-off version. Can you tell me if both of these photos look the same to you? Do you see the less of the Christmas tree in the smaller picture? I think I may need to resize my photos for posting. In case you can't tell, I like things BIG! Maybe I need to move to Texas?!??!

It's official. I am allergic to cleaning.

I guess 1.1.11 is supposed to be a magical number. Something about guardian angels watching over you. I'm not sure of all the details. What I do know is if my guardian angels were buzzing about me today they were yelling, "STOP! STOP CLEANING!" How do I know? Because right in the middle of putting the house back together. After all the Christmas chaos. And our rockin' family New Year's Eve bash (sans alcohol). I became incredibly ill. My stomach was churning and my head pounding. It felt like a major hangover. Without the slurred speech and the lampshade on my head the night before.

So my house now sits in worse condition than had I left it alone. My New Year's lucky foods have gone uneaten. And my resolutions remain unwritten. Maybe when my guardian angels take a hike tomorrow I'll get something accomplished. If not, my first resolution of 2011 will have to be Hire a Weekly Cleaning Team.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a rockin' New Year's Eve surrounded by those you love.