I wore this Anthropologie Dress to a retirement party last night.  It's not often that I get to a)shop at Anthropologie (I had a very generous gift card ; )  or b) dress up. This dress stopped me in my tracks when I entered the store last week, and even though I tried several others on, I knew I'd go home with this beauty. It had my name written all over it.

As soon as I put it on I couldn't help but see the patterns in my taste.

Wouldn't this look great with my new curtains?

If I didn't love it so much as a dress, I'd turn it into a pillow.  Guess I'll be hunting for some new fabric.

Any suggestions?  
Linking this post to: Kirsty Girl


Art collector

My mom and mother-in-law are both collectors. They have years' worth of beautiful tokens and mementos seamlessly displayed in their homes. Their collections make their homes warm, and personal and I'm always drawn to them, but somehow the collecting bug didn't rub off on me.  While I'm constantly tweaking my space  and trying to conjure up the perfect fill in the blank for a certain spot, I'm more of a purger by nature, ransacking the basement like a madwoman every six months. Maybe I'm fickle. Like a tattoo, I never want the reminder of something I used to love taking up valuable real estate in my house.
These days, my kids are my artists and my muses.  I suppose their artwork is my only collection. I am forever picking up scribbled coloring book pages, random sheets of paper of any variety, and even tin foil, covered in three and five year old doodles.  
scribbles gathered in a tupperware in the living room...
 by the front window...

 on the chair...

and even on the stove.

I will admit, occasionally certain doodles (usually of the ripped coloring book variety) end up “falling” into the garbage after bedtime.  Often, I get caught, which usually doesn’t end so well. My daughter is onto me these days.  As much as I try to guide them into choosing some to keep, some to toss and some to display, most of them end up on the refrigerator,  the mudroom door, or anywhere else about three feet high. 
Some days the dribs and drabs of paper I find feels like never-ending clutter, but I try to remind myself in those moments, that at some point, they probably won’t want to make me pictures every day. They might become self-conscious of their art, or even lose interest in it altogether, which I hope never happens.  

For now, I love their openness, their colorful view of the world and the way they love to create for other people.

Someday, I’ll get around to creating a gallery wall or two of my kiddos’ work, but in the meantime, I’ll let them display their work proudly almost anywhere their little hands can reach

What do you collect?  Any favorite tips for displaying or rotating your collections?



Summer in the Catskills

There are a million reasons why I love summer. While long days by the beach and the ice cream man are at the top of my list, vacation takes the cake for me.  A week of downtime and a change of scenery does wonders for my head. Traveling is something that my husband and I have always shared a passion for, and although life since children has changed the way we travel a bit, passing on the travel bug to our kids is important to us.

Today I'm linking up to Centsational Girl's Favorite Destinations Link Party to share a newfound favorite destination of ours.  Last summer, this beach girl went to the mountains.  We planned a trip to New York's Catskills region, Phoenicia, to be exact, having absolutely no idea what to expect. We were skeptics to say the least, but the affordable price tag and two and a half hour drive won us over.  Big time.  

We spent days playing in the creek behind the house we rented, exploring nearby Woodstock, local antique fairs, farm stands and taking picturesque drives.  Most nights were cool and breezy, and spent roasting marshmallows by the creek or on the deck watching stars that are impossible to see back in suburbia. I really thought I would miss the roar of the ocean, and while nothing can replace that sound, it was great to experience something so close to nature in a totally different environment.  Phoenicia was a lucky choice for us providing opportunities to do as much or as little as possible, from hiking, waterfalls, camping and tubing, to great restaurants, shops and beautiful scenery.

view from deck by dusk

the beautiful stream behind our rental home

Dancing in the rain

bliss by the campfire

The Catskill Mountain Railroad

If you are near the New York area and looking for an affordable getaway, check out the Catskills. We are heading back this summer to explore a new town, Livingston Manor, and looking forward to a week of laid back family time. How about you? Are you heading anywhere new this summer, visiting an annual favorite or sticking close to home? Whatever your plans, enjoy every minute.

Also Linking up to:


Serenity Now...

Atlin Road in Winter, Oil on Canvas,  Don Weir

White Sands, Collage on Oil,  Don Weir

Arctic Plains at Dawn, Oil on Canvas,  Don Weir 

Perhaps because of how stimulating my days have been these past few years, I find myself craving simplicity in most aspects of my life.  Life with little guys is anything but dull, or quiet.  Their energy is endless, their voices loud, their attention spans minimal and their stuff, well, it’s everywhere. At the end of the day, quieting my mind and my surroundings is a challenge and a must.

For those of you who know me or who have been reading the blog, it's obvious that as a stay-at-home mom to two pre-schoolers, I am not at a point in my life where I can a) afford much original art or b) stroll through galleries and museums too often to appreciate it, so it was an unusual, but welcome occasion when I stumbled upon Don Weir's work back in March while visiting the Architectural Digest Home Show. 

While there were aisles of impressive art, I found myself drawn to his display at least twice before I picked up a card. When I saw Don's art, I couldn't wait to seek out his website and investigate it further. What I found was that the light and brightness in his paintings and collages evoked a sense of calm in me that slowed me down and drew me in.   I loved the way their subtle shapes hinted at description, but let my mind do the work on its own, a welcome respite when you're teaching, explaining and refereeing most of the day.  After seeing Don's work, not only did I want a piece, I wanted to live in one.  It struck me that what I connected to in his work was restraint. 

More and more these days, I crave less:  less visual clutter,  cleaner lines and shapes, and fewer things surrounding me. This shift is evident in our home.  Slowly, I've been redecorating and editing our living room for the last year. I remember the look on my husband's face when he came home from work one afternoon to find two gallery style walls of photos completely removed (to his credit, he barely flinched). They were at least five years in the making and at some point, (maybe when our son entered his terrible twos) they had begun to drive me bananas. What I loved when we had first moved into our home had somehow become clutter to me and one more thing in my life to maintain. I had to simplify.  Pronto. So all the photos came down, showing the tell tale signs of some half-hearted housekeeping and lots of holes.  

After patching and priming, we lived in hospital-like sterility, with little color, art or images of any kind for months until little by little, we put the pieces back together with fresh eyes.  Now that the room is finally coming together (I shared with you here, that my rooms will never really be finished), I am much more content. Instead of two gallery style walls with about two dozen photos to update (and dust), I have six large framed photos to update seasonally in a simple grid. Ah simplicity. 

I know my style and taste will continue to evolve with the seasons and phases of my life. Someday I would love to have one of Don's paintings or collages in my space. In the meantime though, I'm happy to be inspired by their soothing aesthetic and to quiet my mind and home with the same idea. In the words of Mr. Constanza, "Serenity now, insanity later."


Freckle face...

One of my favorite freckle-faces growing up, Punky Brewster, a.k.a. Soleil Moon-Frye

On Wednesday my five year old daughter, who has been asking to wear shorts since February, refused to wear shorts to Pre-K.  It was 90 degrees.  When we talked about it, she told me she didn't want anyone to see the freckles on her legs.  She has maybe two or three freckles combined on both legs. I have a bazillion.  I've had them as long as I can remember. They cover me like a blanket, act as my tan in the summer and give me character. At least that's what I like to think. 

At 35 I've come to accept them, but as a kid, I honestly remember hating them. They made me stand out when all I wanted to do was blend in.  While my friends were super tan by the end of summer, I was sitting on the beach covered in whatever goopy sunscreen was actually made in the 80s, and wearing a t-shirt in the pool. I, like most of my family, had the Irish Curse, which is torture for a preteen Long Islander.

Over the years I tried everything to cover the freckles and pastiness with a tan. I baked in baby oil, and tried the tanning bed, burning to a crisp. At fifteen, my friend and I experimented with one of the first self-tanning creams I remember. Ban de Soleil. Deep Dark Bronze.  Right. You can imagine how well that ended.  My fair-skinned partner and crime and I sheepishly went to school on Monday looking like Oompa Loompas and still smelling god-awful. If you've ever used these products, especially when they first came on the market, you'll know what I mean.

How do I then, who's spent the better part of my life hating my freckles, teach my little girl to embrace them? I really cringed inside when she told me how she was feeling. I felt so helpless and bothered that at five, she's already starting to worry about her looks. The phrase, "Am I ruining the baby?" floated through my head. It's one I used all the time when she was a baby and every phase was new to all of us.  Now I wonder if I'm ruining the big girl?  I know it's not about me. Really I do, and I also know that this too shall pass, but man, watching her feel insecure is hard.

I may not have the answers for my girl, but I can certainly do my best to lead by example and give her the tools she needs to come into her own.  While I still see other women who are beautifully golden and sigh a little, I'm good with it. This summer, like always, you'll find me at the beach covered in a big hat, wearing my husband's old white dress shirt, slathering myself and my kids in sunscreen, pale, freckly and happy.

Happy Friday!


It's the little things...

These days, a sense of accomplishment and productivity are much sought after, but rarely seen things in my world.  Of course watching my kids grow and become their own little people is rewarding. Even though most days I wonder where time has gone, there's not exactly a finished product at the end of the day. Often, making sure that everyone is in tact and not in tears or time-out at the end of the day, is an accomplishment, hence, the blog and my puttering.  When I'm craving a little instant, or almost-instant gratification, I roam around the house and yard, looking for a little project to settle my restlessness. 

Below you'll find the before and afters of my garden pot transformation, the latest victim of my procrastination attempt at productivity.  It was on the to-do list that I shared with you last week, and one of the few items I ended up checking off. It's nothing earth-shattering or even terribly original, but a simple, inexpensive project that enhanced my yard and mood.

Before: Old garden pots looking tired and needing a face lift. Hopefully no one says the same about me any time soon.

After: Clean, colorful, and transformed, with spray paint.

It's safe to say that I have a thing for blue; I'm always drawn to it first. Luckily it was one of the few appealing colors my local hardware store had in stock. I used Krylon's Fusion Spray Paint, which is formulated for spraying plastic. It couldn't have been easier, or faster as it dries very quickly.

Luckily the blue, and white work well with my existing pots. All in all, much better than the before and I only spent about $12.
It's definitely the little things that make me feel accomplished these days. It's all relative I suppose.  How about you? What simple accomplishments make you feel content? 
Linking this post to:

Hubby Made Me


Design ADD

When it comes to decorating my home, my brain does not shut off. I have idea files under my bed, online, on my computer, and forever, in my head. When it comes to executing them let's just say they are a constant work in progress. It takes years for some to ever get beyond the file, let alone make it onto a list.

Here are some befores that have been long awaiting their afters in my home.

Before: Old garden planters in need of a face lift.  Current status?  Three down, two kind of flopped.

Before: Office/dressing room. Current status?  organized, different drapes and furniture edited, but far from complete, sigh.
Before: Downstairs hallway as it looked this time last year.  We lived with swatches on our walls like
that for about four months.

Before:  Although it's kind of an after, I only wish the blue looked like this in person. In reality,it's much darker and more denim looking (not the good kind). After living with it for a year, I'd like something lighter (read: actually looks this color)
To give you a better understanding of my design ADD, take a look at this list I drew up yesterday. There's just a few projects I wanted to tackle this weekend while my husband is out and about taking care of some family obligations.
  • repaint up and downstairs hallways (must buy paint)
  • make pillow covers (with fabric that I've had for three months)
  • cut trim for curtains (which still need some sort of a dowel or rod to hang from, made curtains back in February!)
  • complete message center for refrigerator
  • strip old door (that's been ready for a makeover for 5 1/2 years)
  • finish planting annuals (if they're not dead yet, as they bake in their little black pots)
  • finish Neve's graduation book (for 6/13)
  • rehang art and shelves (buy screws, find studs) in office
  • gather art and photos/frames for small gallery walls in both hallways
  • spray paint old frames white (buy spray paint)

Ummm, yeah. So the likelihood of most of this happening in one long weekend is not looking so good. I have so much trouble finishing one room or project completely before I begin the next and it drives me crazy. I know a home is an evolution, but some days the achiever in me hates having so little to check off of my to do list. I suppose I should focus on the fact that my children are mostly happy, fed, clothed, usually bathed and overall, the daily routine of our family life is in tact and running smoothly.

So, perhaps I should stop blogging and start tackling that list. Chances are I will get one or two smaller items checked off and shelve the rest so I can rent Country Strong tonight. Please tell me I'm not alone out there. Does anyone else suffer from design ADD?