With a step daughter in medical school, a step daughter in college, and one daughter in high school, it's time to get rid of a number of things in our house. However, I wasn't ready to part with some of the items we purchased when the girls were small because frankly, they're still very functional. The only problem is that some of the items are too cutesy, as is, for my taste. Case in point, the 10-drawer multicolored chrome metal storage cart. How many of you have something like this?Since I'm still on my spray painting kick, I decided to paint the metal frame with Rust-Oleum's Pure Gold and the drawers in Rust-Oleum's Matte Citron. I had to remove the drawers and thoroughly wash the frame and drawers. I also unscrewed all of the knobs to spray them to match the frame. I bought five cans of the Matte Citron and sprayed approximately 3 coats over the drawers. The darker colored drawers needed a bit more attention. Like all good DIYs, things don't always go as planned. I didn't love the finished product. Then, my muse (my daughter), suggested I use chalkboard paint so that I could write on the drawers directly to label them. This is why two heads are often better than one! The project obviously took a little longer than planned because then I painted over the citron. My newly revamped storage cart will hold the marketing materials for a new job I recently started. I make regular donations to the Salvation Army, but this is one piece I'm glad I decided to hang on to!
I'm head over heels over this fall's shoes and boots! I recently got the Boden Catalog and love so many pairs of their shoes. There are great shoes with animal prints as well as sexy heels for the holidays I also got the Sundance Catalog and am swooning over their booties. And I recently happened upon (yeah right!) Anthropologie's boots and flats and had to give a heavy sigh because it's so hard to choose, and there are so many shoes and so little time, and so many outfits to pair them all with.
I love Paper Whites and usually think about them at the end of November. Yet why not pick up some bulbs now to have gorgeous centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table? They're so easy to grow and relatively inexpensive if you buy the bulbs at discount places such as The Christmas Tree Shop or Ocean State Job Lot. The plants grow in 4-6 weeks, so you'll want to get your bulbs going in the next week or so. I bought the mini trifle dish for $4.99 and the Paper Whites' kit for $3.99 at The Christmas Tree Shop. I already had the rocks so the whole ensemble cost less than $10. I know I have other vases, mason jars, and julep cups in my cupboards so I could make a really cute grouping like those you see on Pinterest.
Boyfriend jeans are on the scene again this season. But what exactly is a boyfriend jean? Are there any real women who can fit into their boyfriend's jeans?! For most of us, the answer is clearly 'no'. In theory, I love the idea of a slouchy, weathered, comfy jean; yet I think that such a jean really only looks fabulous on a relatively tall model-type figure. Not exactly the best look for my 5'3" frame. Now peruse through some of these photos and think to yourself, which ones look the most flattering? I think it's safe to say that Boyfriend Jeans #4 and #5 are the best looking. Why? Because they are slimmer fitting. They're still slightly looser in the waist and thigh, but not so loose that you look you're carrying extra weight. No one wants that. Styling the slim boyfriend jeans is as easy as cuffing them at the ankle to highlight the narrowest section of your leg. Although they look terrific with sneakers, they look the best, in my humble opinion, with a heel or a bootie. With the slimmer fit, I think I can even pull them off.
I have been an avid reader since I was a very young girl. I have those fond memories, like so many other avid readers, of going to the local library with my mom, cloth book bags in hand, getting a stack of books. I regularly attend book festivals (LOVE the Nantucket Book Festival) or author engagements. (In RI, Robin Kall puts together marvelous author events.) I'm in a terrific book club, Reading Between the Wines, and contrary to our husbands' quips, we do discuss the books. I'm also an English as a Second Language Teacher and a Reading Specialist. I work with high school students. I do not teach them to learn to read (i.e., decoding/phonics), but rather I teach them how to read to learn (i.e., comprehension strategies). I am also a book snob. If I don't see books in a person's home or apartment, I immediately notice. Are they strictly E-readers? I wonder. Do they check their books out from the library and keep them by their bedside? or Are they simply non-readers? (Gasp!) Therefore, I feel compelled to comment on the use of books for decorative purposes only in styling bookshelves as...distasteful. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the styled book shelf at right. I love the gals (Bridget & Casey) behind the blog The DIY Playbook. I think their ideas are creative and their blog fantastic. I am not a hater. I just don't understand the concept of displaying books with the spine (i.e., the title) hidden. I also do not like the idea of covering books in decorative paper. Okay, I love the look of the map-covered books at right creatively displayed by April Foster on her blog. Her aesthetic matches my own. However, as an avid reader, why would you do this? You have no idea what is under the paper, you have no intention of sharing your books with others, you cannot derive the pleasure of seeing the title of a book that you read and loved, and taking a moment and basking in the memory of that experience. So as I rework my own messy, chaotic bookshelf, I do want to practice the art of styling it a bit; however, I still want, no NEED, to see the titles of the books. They are my prized possessions. They contain my journeys, my memories, my friends, and so much more. Next post, I will share my attempt to re-style my bookshelves. Currently my shelves look like this:
My step daughter got married a week and a half ago. What a rush! The day was simply spectacular. The wedding ceremony and reception, held at The Dunes Club in Narragansett, RI, was sublime. Simone got engaged in April and they decided on an August wedding IN THE SAME YEAR. It can be done, people, and without the help of a wedding planner. As the bride & groom, you just need to be organized (think Excel spreadsheet & Type A personalities) and have creative, trustworthy family members who will carry out your plans accordingly. I got married in 2000, just a mere 15 years ago. It did not feel that long ago, but my-oh-my how quickly times have changed. The biggest change, no surprise, SOCIAL MEDIA. Now at weddings, people use hashtags to publicize events in real time. Here is something I made to help people tweet out the happy event. The chalkboard is from Walmart. Continue reading Wedding Musings
My oldest stepdaughter, Simone, is getting married in less than a week. Woohoo! I'm so excited and thrilled for her. I first met Simone when she was 7 years old and now she's 24, and has just finished up her first year of medical school. She's always been one of those people who "plans her work, and works her plan." She's got grace & style, and a whopping load of intelligence & humility. After attending her bridal shower a few months back and looking at the photo of the four moms, (his mom, his step mom, her mom, and myself, her step mom), I've had time to ponder over being part of a blended family. Her dad and mom divorced when she was very young. Her mom remarried, and I'm married, obviously, to her dad. Additionally, Simone's fiance's parents are also divorced, and remarried. And to further confuse the situation, Simone's mom's parents are divorced and remarried. So the happy occasion will include a big gathering of family that includes sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, step sisters, half sisters, step moms, step dads, and step grandparents. You might be shaking your head at this point, and thinking, "yikes!", but I feel blessed. As we've all gotten older, the so-called fractured family has moved closer together by attending theater performances, viewing volleyball tournaments, celebrating high school & college graduations, and now a wedding. It is a privilege and an honor to know Simone's very extended family, for through it all, we have not lost sight of what's important--to love and support our children. As Hillary Clinton said, "It takes a village." Our extended, blended family is like the bamboo. Chinese culture holds bamboo in high regard. Many Chinese believe that bamboo "combines upright integrity with accommodating flexibility"...and has an "ability to cope with adversity and still stand firmly without losing its original ground" ( http://www.livingartsoriginals.com/flower-bamboo.htm). We have not lost sight of our original ground. In a future post I'll share some of the creative touches that I've contributed to the festivities, but for now, I just wanted to share my awe and love for Simone and Bryan, and our blended family.
In a recent closet clean-out/overhaul, I realized that I wanted to display some of my necklaces so that I'd remember to wear them! Inspired by other DIYs where people use bulletin boards to hang their necklaces, I decided to make my own hanging necklace holder. It was so simple. Here are the steps in pictures:
There are a number of terrific closet organization systems out there, some DIY systems, and many custom closet companies. Some that come to mind are California Closets, the Container Store's elfa Shelving System, and IKEA's PAX system. Over the years, my husband has revamped a number of our closets. When we moved into our house eleven years ago, our master bedroom closet looked similar to the picture at left and he transformed it. The pullout shoe closet was my dream. I was in awe of my new closet, but over time, there were a few drawbacks. The shoe closet hid hard-to-reach shelve space, where I imagined giant dust bunnies were lurking. My boots were squished (or thrown in a jumble) on the limited bottom shelf. My end of the closet was just not working for me anymore. (I know, first world problems!) Continue reading Revamping My Closet
From years of teaching, I've learned to be scrappy. My classroom is a gallimaufry of furniture cast-offs by colleagues. You can only spend so much of your own money for so long on your students and your classroom, before you start to look for ways to find bargains, and cut costs. I've started applying this same scrappiness to my own home, as I try to update it on a budget. Recently I picked up a wicker chair along the roadside, okay, at my neighbor's curb two doors down from me. (Gasp!) I saw the chair all day as I played the carpool game. Finally, I said to my daughter, "if that chair is still there at 5 p.m., I'm nabbing it." Sure enough it was, and fortunately or unfortunately for me, my neighbor was working in her garden when I asked her if she was getting rid of it. "Take it," she said, "but the bottom may need some repairs." This rehab was a piece of cake. Using a hot glue gun, I secured a few loose pieces of wicker and reinforced the bottom with twine. I bought two cans of Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover in Satin London Gray. Gave it approximately 3 thin coats of paint and let it dry completely. I bought a 50% off fabric remnant and a pillow from Jo-Ann Fabric, and sewed two pillows.* The whole project probably took me three hours, tops. The chair now lives happily in our adult daughter's bedroom/guest room. Cost: 2 cans of spray paint from Home Depot: $7.74. 1/2 yard fabric remnant & pillow from Jo-Ann Fabric: $4.86+12.47 Total Cost: $25.09 (*For the record, this is the extent of my sewing abilities. I had to borrow my youngest daughter's sewing machine, and had to have her help me thread the bobbin.)