Archive | January, 2017

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A Doodle in Charleston

When our family came to Charleston over the holiday, we decided to bring our pup Sawyer along. With me staying here a few months to work on the house and oversee projects, and my husband traveling, we thought it would be best for him to stay with me. Sawyer has never done a road trip with us before, especially a long one, and I have to say I was a little apprehensive about how he would handle such a long drive. However, I’m happy to report that he did great!! He usually gets a little nervous when he sees our suitcases out, but he was practically the first one in the car when he realized he was being invited along.
We decided at the last minute to leave Christmas evening, and drive through the night getting to South Carolina in the morning. We thought it would be easier for Sawyer to get the trip all done at once. Driving through the night is always a challenge though, especially as we get older, and Bob and I were exhausted the next day, but we both felt it was the right decision. Sawyer and the girls were pretty chill throughout the night and by morning, we were at our destination.
 
So, here we are. It took a few days for him to get used to the new house and routine, but as long as he is with his family, he is a happy doodle. He loves his walks in the morning, exploring new paths, smells, frogs and fellow dogs. In fact, over the weekend we found a dog park while we were out!
The few tips we received from a trainer a few months back were very helpful and  Sawyer and I are truly enjoying our walks together. Now, he’s not perfect, he still occasionally has his moments, but don’t we all? We also have a lot of neighborhood cats roaming around that have Sawyer under their spell. When he sees them, he simply stops and stares as they watch us from the safety of the large oaks, or casually stroll past us. I have to say the best part of our walks these days is the lack of parkas, boots, and frozen paws! Like many cities, Charleston is a very dog friendly community. Often, as I enter a shop, I am greeted by a furry friend and dogs are always welcome to join their owners in outdoor cafes and restaurants.  As you can see, Sawyer has definitely settled in to his new home.
I love having Sawyer here with me. What is it about having a pet that makes us feel so good?  Our pets definitely live for the moment which is something we could all learn to do. Often, my office is out on the back porch, and Sawyer loves to sit by me and look out at the birds, turtles, and yes alligator (who we have affectionately named Alfred) in the next door pond. Sometimes Sawyer is so still, I swear he is meditating.
I love seeing him at the back door window with his favorite toy in his mouth and tail wagging whenever I come home, and who needs an alarm clock when you can have a big wet kiss first thing in the morning? I know he misses the rest of his family and they miss him too, but we will all be reunited again soon. For now we are going to enjoy the weather, sites, new friends, and soon the beach!
          Have a great week!!
          ~May

          Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole

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May Meets June - Charleston - Featured

How Many Steps Can You Walk in One Day? – Charleston Edition

This past weekend, June flew down to Charleston, South Carolina to reunite with May for a few days of much needed R&R. It was to be a weekend filled with the sites and sounds of the city, great food, shopping, girl time and of course we had to walk the beautiful beach on Kiawah Island. May had the weekend planned and we were all set, with the exception of the one thing we could not control, Mother Nature.

Our day started off beautiful with sunny skies and warm temperatures, and with a very wet weekend on the horizon, we decided to explore as much of the city as possible. We pretty much fit a three day weekend into a day and a half, walking about 12 miles in that time. Charleston is a very walkable city and we covered a lot of territory which included shopping on King Street (including a trip to one of our favorite stores, Anthropologie) a walk through the open market, a carriage ride, drinks and duck nachos on the rooftop of the Pavilion Bar, and a beautiful sunset stroll along the water. We were even able to sit and enjoy the sunset on the large swings along the pier, which are always occupied. It was truly a perfect day.

A carriage ride on Rainbow Row

The Pavilion Bar

A Beautiful Sunset on the bay

We knew our outdoor time was limited when we awoke to cloudy skies on Saturday, but we decided to make the most of it and headed down to the Kiawah Island beach right after an early breakfast. The wind was calm and even with clouds looming, there was something so peaceful about walking barefoot along the waters edge. Now, without the sun to warm the sand, our feet were a little cold, especially as we dipped our toes into the surf. Brrrr. We toughed it out though and even collected a few shells for June to take home with her, a gift of nature from the sweet South. We had walked quite a way when we heard thunder rumbling in the distance, our dry weather about to end. We hustled back to the car with the black clouds chasing us and literally made it back just as the big old fat raindrops started to fall, thunder crashing down over our heads.

June on the Beach

The rest of our weekend was wet, wet, wet. In fact it was pretty much a deluge. We didn’t let that stop us though. We did get a small break in the rain on Saturday afternoon and decided to go back to the city to check out a little vintage jewelry shop that June read about, called Candy Shop Vintage. It’s a cute little boutique that sells vintage and vintage inspired jewelry. The store is known for their vintage inspired rice beads that pay homage to Charleston. They sell beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and rings in different colors, and yes, we bought ourselves a little treat. Before going back to the car, we took a stroll down a neighborhood street, enjoying the charm of the historic homes. Even though both of us are planners, there is something so fun about being spontaneous. We just happened upon a beautiful old home, the  Aiken-Rhett house, that gave tours, and we were one of the last visitors in before the house closed for the day.

The house was so interesting because rather than restoring it, the historical society is simply conserving it.  That means that while rundown, there are original touches such as remnants of the old wallpaper still on the walls and select pieces of furniture. Parts of the house tour gave us chills. Living in the North, the dark period of slavery is not a part of our history. However, as part of the tour, we walked through the outbuildings which included the slave quarters.  It connected us to the part of our country’s history that many would prefer to forget.

Now, we realized as our weekend came to a close that we probably could have taken many more photos to show y’all, but we were having so much fun simply enjoying the moment and each other’s company-  focusing too much on taking pictures would have taken something away from our experience. I guess you will just have to plan a trip to this great city, and see it all for yourself. And don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes.

Have a great weekend. ~May and June

Never. Stop. Exploring.

 

 

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Charleston Harbor - Featured

Getting Away From It All

I left home for a few days.  It was nothing dramatic.  I had scheduled a getaway to visit May in Charleston, South Carolina for four days.

I realized upon arrival to the airport that I rarely go somewhere by myself just for fun.  Usually when I travel solo it is for work or a conference.  Vacation time tends to be sacred so I usually spend that time traveling with my husband.

Because this was going to be a weekend of frivolity and I wanted to travel light, I left my laptop at home.  That meant no work unless it was a phone call or an email.  I was absolutely unable to log into or attend to anything substantive.  That alone felt like a weight off of my shoulders.

I left my boys (my husband and Gatsby) home to take care of each other.  At home I am the caretaker.  I make sure everyone is fed, walked and has clean clothes to wear.  However, they were on their own and guess what?  They survived.

May and I had a really fun weekend (we’ll post more later), but being away by myself made me realize a few things.  First, it is good to do things for yourself once in awhile even if it means spending a little money and going on a trip.  It is good for you to do things on your own.  That may mean travelling alone, eating in a restaurant alone, going to a movie or a play alone, or just sitting quietly alone.  I have a good marriage and I genuinely enjoy my husband’s company, but sometimes I need a little space to do things for me with no expectations from anyone else.

Second, re-entry to work is tough after a fun vacation especially if you do not particularly like your job.  The morning I returned was a grouchy morning.  Work is not always fun no matter what you do, but when your work is exhausting and uninspiring, the time away from it makes it all that much clearer.

Third, I appreciate that my husband encourages me to do these things on my own which makes it easier to take the leap and step out of my comfort zone.  I was a little anxious before I left about travelling by myself.  We usually road trip on vacation so flying makes me a little uncomfortable especially with all the rules now of security and carry on baggage.  When I expressed my concerns, my husband told me how happy he was that I was going on a fun trip for myself.  He recognizes that we each need to keep pieces of ourselves to keep our marriage interesting and strong.

Fourth, the dog is not happy when I leave him but is really, really happy when I come home and follows me around like my second shadow.  He is also very good at guilt trips, but copious amounts of dog treats assuage all of his feelings of abandonment.

Fifth, and finally, there is no better place to sleep than your own bed. –June

 

It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.      

K.T. Jong

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One Year - Featured

One Year

Last week was the one year anniversary of my dad’s death. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday that he and I were out for a walk enjoying an unseasonably warm day, and other times it feels like he’s been away for a long, long time. The days leading up to the one year mark were a little melancholy, I must admit.  My brother and I had a wonderful conversation on the phone, reliving childhood moments that only the two of us share. I found myself thinking back to those last few days sitting with my dad in hospice, and quickly went through my phone to find a picture of the sunset I had taken from his window the night before he died.

As I awoke on the morning of our first year without him, I stepped out the door with Sawyer for our walk, and witnessed a stunning South Carolina sunrise. The colors were magical and immediately lifted my spirits and somehow, at that moment, I felt a little closer to him.

My mom and I spent the morning together doing something my dad loved. We took a long walk on the beach. As we strolled along the waters edge collecting sea shells and discovering little gifts only found in the ocean, we shared stories about my dad, many of them funny, and wondered what he would think about our lives today. Had he lived, he would have loved it here.

We also had moments of silence on our walk, with just the sound of the waves crashing on the shore to share space with our thoughts. It made me wonder, does time truly heal? Maybe. Or perhaps we are simply passengers on this ride called life that continues to propel us forward, not allowing us to hold onto our grief for a long period of time. My heart still aches sometimes. I miss my dad every day. I hate that I can’t give him a hug, or hold his hand like I did as a little girl. However, I felt him that morning on the beach. He was in the  ocean breeze and the cold salty water. He was in the sand between my toes and the warm sun shining down on my mom and me. Most importantly though, he is in our hearts where we will forever hold him close.

As my mom and I drove home under the umbrella of oak trees, we felt at peace. We also decided that we would spend every year on the anniversary of his death, celebrating his life in one of his favorite places,  on the beach.

Love you, Dad.

~May

There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in our hearts

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January Book Picks

We always think it is a good season for reading, however, it seems like the colder months call for meatier more complex novels compared with the light beach reads we enjoy on lazy summer evenings.  So, here are some January book picks for you.  Two are from of our favorite authors, Ann Patchett and Alice Hoffman, and also a thriller set in the cold North Sea.  We hope you find something that you can get lost in reading on these cold January nights.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

From Amazon:

The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

May’s Review: I always enjoy Ann Patchett’s novels, and just recently finished Commonwealth. This is a story about the complexities of a blended family, told primarily from the point of you from one of the daughters, Franny.  The story begins with an affair, and continues to build as we follow the lives of all affected. As always, Ann Patchett does not disappoint.

June’s Review:  As I have said before I am a huge fan of Ann Patchett and I went to see her speak as part of her book tour for Commonwealth.  Commonwealth was just selected this week as a finalist for the National Book Award and deservedly so.  This is book that opens with one of those single moments that changes the course of your life and the moments that follow.  The story is primarily told from Franny and you feel a bit of pity for her but cheer for her to find her way.  This is not a book to rush through but one to savor the pace of the story being built, the characters being developed and the words and language on the page.

Faithful: A Novel by Alice Hoffman

From Amazon:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

May’s Review: Always a fan of Alice Hoffman, I found this to be a very moving novel about a young woman dealing with the guilt after surviving an accident, where her best friend is forever in a coma.  It is definitely a coming of age story for this young woman as we get pulled into her ups and downs as she seeks to find herself.

June’s Review:  When I read the synopsis for this book and having read all of Alice Hoffman’s previous books, I assumed that the story would be about the girl who lies in a coma and performs “miracles.”  However, ultimately it is about Shelby the one that survived the accident, at least from outward appearances, intact.  Alice Hoffman writes Shelby in a way that you feel her pain and her guilt from walking away from the accident.  You want her to feel that she is worthy of love.  And as you walk her path with her you revel in the small human and spiritual miracles that keep her going and ultimately coming out on the other side.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

 

From Amazon:

From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful and haunting novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

May’s Review: There was a lot of hype about this book, and honestly I was a little leery because often with suspense novels, I’m sadly disappointed at the end. I thought this was a solid read and it held my interest from start to finish. It was suspenseful without being scary and if you are into mysteries, you will enjoy this book.

June’s Review:  These suspense thrillers are not usually my favorite because I end up being disappointed by the end and want to throw the book through the window.  That being said this book held together pretty well at the end and it was not dangerous for anyone to be around me as I reached its conclusion.  I did figure out the twist before the conclusion but sometimes that is ok because it means the author is leading you down the right path rather that throwing you a curveball at the last minute.  This book got to me a bit because the idea of being confined on a small boat with no land in sight makes me feel a little clammy. If you are looking for a suspense to keep you reading, this one is recommended.

Have a good weekend.  Happy reading! –May and June

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. –George RR Martin

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Rest For Body And Spirit

This is the time of year for rest.  The days are long and dark.  All of nature is resting.  The grass is dormant, the tree branches lie bare and many animals are sleeping.  The outside world spends much of its time being still and quiet.  The world is rejuvenating and saving its energy for its time of renewal in a few short months.  As humans, we should take our cues from the natural world and use this time to rest our bodies and our spirits.

We have just finished one of the hardest and most stressful times of the year.  The weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year are full of busyness.  There is very little time to just be.  Instead our lives are filled with lists of chores, social and family obligations, work deadlines and unrealistic expectations.  This is the time of year to create space from within to re-center ourselves down to our core, and just enjoy the sensation of being.

I know it is difficult to appreciate this time.  I am not a winter lover and when I am not happy, I tend to find many ways to occupy my time.  Also, the stressors that existed in the last month have failed to go away or have just changed form.  I still have work deadlines.  I still have chores and errands to be completed.  And I have given myself projects to be completed including ridding my house of the clutter that has accumulated.

I recognize, however, that more importantly I need to take some time to rest.  I cannot be my best self and give to others if my spirit is tired.  So, I am looking for ways to create that space.  Sometimes that means that I do clean the clutter because my house then feels spacious and allows me to breathe, but I am taking time to rest.  I am not over scheduling my calendar and I am trying to leave some open blocks where I can be or do whatever inspires me in that moment.  Some of those hours do end up being slothful and watching too much tv while lying on the couch in my sweats with no makeup.  Some of those hours I spend doing quiet yoga, writing or reading something inspirational.  Sometimes I give in to Gatsby who nags me in the afternoon to take naps with him and sleep next to him on our bed to rest my body.

It is easy in those moments of down time to feel guilty about all those things that are not getting done while I rest.  I am recognizing though that rest is an important part of life.  Mother Nature takes a whole season to rest and we too should take some time as well.  And when spring comes our mind, body and spirit will be ready to bloom again with the rest of the world. -June

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… even you. -Anne Lamott

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Home Aspirations

Although a good part of our 2017 is going to be filled with more transition for our family, with a move and our last child going off to college, I’m looking forward to settling in later this year. These last several months I’ve felt like I’ve been straddling one foot in each house, but now that I have been here in Charleston a number of times and will be spending a few months working on our new home this winter, I am a little less frazzled about our passage. I see now that I don’t have to bring everything to be happy. We have bought some new furniture and items that enhance the character and southern charm of this home, so that, along with some items we love from our other house, we will have all we need to make our Charleston abode truly feel like home sweet home.

A new year is always a great time to start fresh, whether it is getting back to healthy living in your body, home, or workspace. Our family spent part of the holidays here in South Carolina, and it gave me an opportunity to observe and get a feel for what we need to function and be happy in this new space. Our home and environment down here is very different from the Chicago house, and will require a slightly different touch. I know I want to create peace and order in all areas of our new space, filling it with items that are beautiful and inspiring. I want it to feel like us, but just not so much of us if that makes sense. Plus, without a basement, our storage capacity is much more limited which is actually not a bad thing. After much thought, my husband and I decided to bring very little with us when it actually comes time to move. We will bring the items we truly love, and let go of the rest.

I am amazed to see how much we collect and hang on to over the years, thinking we cannot possibly survive without all our belongings. I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of packing up so many years of memories, and trying to fit it in a home where I actually want to create new memories. Our lives aren’t what they were all those years ago and bringing all that baggage with me just doesn’t feel quite right. Last fall my mom and I went through our home room by room, packing up and donating items for a new family to enjoy. Now, after spending quality time in our new rooms, I know that there will be much more to let go of when I go back to Chicago. I want our new home to feel light, airy, and uncluttered. We are surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape and I want to create a tranquil indoor space, as well as an outdoor living space that we can enjoy all year round. The truth is, you don’t need much to be happy. The more time I spend here, the clearer it is. Letting go of clutter in your home also has a calming effect on the mind- there’s room to stretch out and breathe.

You don’t need to have a move in your future to make your home life organized, less cluttered, and more inspiring. If you feel like the items in your home are closing in on you, maybe it’s time to clear out some of the old and see how you feel. Maybe that’s an intention that you can set for yourself and your family as we begin a new year.

Happy Martin Luther King day! ~ May

Your home is living space, not storage space ~ Francine Jay

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Things We Are Loving In January

January is the month when we can all get stuck in the doldrums.  The weather is cold, cold, cold.  It is grey and slippery outside and there are no events to look forward to.  So, we thought this would be the perfect time to share some things we are loving this month.  Maybe you’ll find a new love too!

The Crown by Netflix

If you have not seen the series The Crown on Netflix yet, you absolutely must! It is worth the price of a Netflix subscription to watch it.  June is a huge English history buff and in fact she took several semesters of it in college so this was right up her alley.  And now she has gotten May hooked on the series.  The acting is so good.  Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill are amazing.  Not only is it respectfully about the personal lives of English royalty, but it also discusses the politics of the country and the strange division of power between their democratically elected government and the monarchy.  It is also fascinating to see what used to pass as scandalous has now become the the norm of society.  This is a great way to spend some of your indoor time.

Fresh Sugar Cream Lip Treatment

If you have trouble with dry chapped lips then check out this Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment.  June has used Fresh lip products before and they are moisturizing and smell nice too.  This product is a lot like a lip gloss, but also provides lip protection and moisture.  This blush color is so pretty and she may have to try out the pink as well.

Drybar ‘Buttercup’ Blow Dryer

This blow dryer is expensive.  However, if you have thick hair that seems to take forever to blow dry this thing is a life saver.  The time for drying is significantly cut and your hair ends up smooth and non-frizzy.  Also, it doesn’t burn your head like some of the cheaper blow dryers.  And while it is pricey, if you use it every day or even every other day, it is easier to justify the price.

Bobeau One Button Fleece Wrap Cardigan

This is a great fleece cardigan from Nordstrom with an asymmetrical hem and one button design that also looks great unbuttoned. The fabric is soft and cozy and it comes in lots of colors as well as petites. (This color is heather oatmeal) May finds this sweater perfect for cooler nights in Charleston, and right now it’s 30% off.

Girl’s Weekend

Charleston sunrise

 This is a great time to grab one of your besties, and do something fun. Next weekend, May and June are going to reunite in Charleston, South Carolina for a little girl’s weekend.  We are looking forward to warmer weather for June, fun shopping, beach walks, sightseeing plus good food and drinks.  And of course friend time cannot be beat!

Have a great weekend. ~May and June

We love the things we love for what they are. ~Robert Frost

 

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Back to the Regular Routine

Back to the Regular Routine

The holidays are now officially behind us.  We went to our last holiday party on Friday.  The Christmas trees were put on the curb for the yard recycling man to pick up and the decorations have been stored again in the attic.  This past Monday was a work day, unlike the previous two Mondays, which was especially jarring after having some long weekends.  Yep, we are back to the regular routine.

 

While the regular routine can become ho hum, boring and stale, the regular routine is refreshing in January.  We have overindulged, overcommitted and slept too little the last six weeks.  I love my Christmas decorations filled with sentimental treasures and twinkle lights, but after a month it starts to make my house feel overly cluttered and too busy.  This past weekend after I cleaned up all of my Christmas trinkets and the tree was removed my house felt bigger, cleaner, lighter and able to breathe.  Similarly all of the holiday frivolity can feel too much, too loud, too much small talk and too much overindulgence.  Returning to the regular routine of clean eating, regular bedtimes and set schedules gives us the room to be comfortable and lightens the mind and the spirit.

Resuming the regular routine also gives you the opportunity to reassess the routine.  Is it still working for you?  Is there anything you would like to shift?  Time away gives me a fresh perspective.  I had taken a couple of weeks off from my regular workout routine over the holidays.  Last week I was back at it and it felt good.  I was excited to go back to my regular gym and yoga classes.  My body thanked me for the workouts by feeling energized instead of tired and my mind was fully present.  If I had gone back and been bored or uninspired, that would have told me that I should change things up a bit.

 

Finally, being out of my routine made me realize that there are things that I would like to shift in my routine.  Often I end up with some free hours during the week that I waste on the common time sucks of mindless internet usage or TV watching.  When I was out of my regular routine, I did not have much time for those mindless activities and I did not miss them.  So as I resume my regular routine, I would like that time more intentionally.  It may mean that I still watch some TV or spend time on the internet, but I want to do it with mindfulness and not let endless time pass.  I also want to add some projects and activities into my regular routine so I am looking at a way to shift certain things so that those can become priorities.

I do not want my regular routine to become a burden.  I want to leave myself open to the present moment, spontaneity and joy.  However, those moments can still occur even if I enjoy the comfort of the regular routine. –June

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

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Curb Appeal Goals

I’m often on the lookout for homes with great curb appeal. There is always that one house that has it all – great character, an inviting front porch, amazing landscape and lighting. It’s a home that makes you want to curl up on the front porch swing with a good book and a glass of sweet tea on a warm summer night, and watch the world go by.
 Immediately, when I saw our house in Charleston, I knew it had so much potential and charm. We have since enjoyed the process of making it our own these past few months. Although our home isn’t old, it was built in the image of the historic homes that you typically find in Charleston. The Charleston single house dates back to the 1680’s. Many have long porches along the side of the structure for additional living space and the interiors are often one room wide, and several rooms long. The front door leads to the ground level porch, where you will find another door that leads into the house. The houses are usually painted in pastel colors similar to the homes on Rainbow Row, in downtown Charleston. 
 Rainbow Row
With that said, I have spent quite a bit of time dreaming about our outdoor space. I’m always out walking through the neighborhood taking pictures of landscapes and porches, and I recently started working with a landscape designer. The outside of our home is pretty much a clean slate, which I like because it gives us the opportunity to put our own personal stamp on it. Right now, the house looks a little flat and kind of blah. When I first saw the house I immediately thought I would put shutters on the windows, however many homes do not have them, and often when they do, they also function as hurricane shutters which I prefer. I did some research, and they are a little pricey, so I think for now we are going to start with the landscape, and put the shutters on the back burner. 
 Our home
We do know that palm trees, or as they say down here palmettos, are a must. We can’t wait to wrap twinkle lights around them during the holidays and I think they will not only add character to the front of our house, but a much needed layer of texture as well. In addition, we are going to move some of our existing shrubs and plant some colorful ornamental grasses. We plan to add some up lights to the palms as well, for a little drama.
 A neighborhood home
I also decided to paint the front door that leads to the porch. I think a pop of color is exactly what the house needs. After we purchased our home, I subscribed to Southern Living magazine where my front door color choice was delivered right in my mailbox. The house color on the magazine cover is similar to ours and I LOVE the red door. The color is Real Red by Sherwin Williams. I found a store ten minutes from my home, will be purchasing the paint this week, and plan to paint the door next weekend.
 
Work is set to begin next week and I am so excited to show y’all the transformation!
 
Have a great week. ~ May
Life began in a garden. ~ Unknown
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New Balance

The Sneaker Revolution

Have you noticed that athletic footwear has become insanely popular the past few years? They definitely aren’t just for working out anymore and with so many wonderful styles and colors, choosing the perfect pair can be a little challenging, especially if you love shoes as much as we do. We’ll take one of everything!! (Ha!) Women are wearing sneakers with leggings, skirts, dresses, capris- just about everything. And it is so much more stylish then the 1980s when only commuting women wore sneakers with nylons and their business suits.  We love this because it means we don’t have to walk around in uncomfortable shoes and suffer from sore feet just to look fashionable. Here are some cute styles we found.

Of course you can never go wrong with a classic like Converse. We remember the popularity of these shoes when we were kids, and here they are again. They look great with jeans, leggings, or even a fun skirt. As cute as these are, they don’t have a ton of arch support so be aware if you plan to do a lot of walking in them.

Black Nike’s are all the rage right now, in fact both of May’s girls wear theirs often. They are a great travel shoe with a comfy pair of leggings if you are going to be flying to destinations near or far.

Superga is a shoe brand that May heard about from a travel blog she follows called Travel Fashion Girl. These shoes were high on her list of recommended footwear for traveling, and May is seriously considering purchasing a pair in white for an upcoming trip to Italy. They come in several colors and you can get them on Amazon.

And if you want to go a little more athletic and colorful, June found these while browsing and they may have just jumped in her cart and on their way to her.  They have that classic retro look which was so popular when she was in junior high and her parents would only buy her cheap gym shoes from Sears.  So uncool.

Now, some of you may be wondering how you can pair your newly purchased kicks with a cute skirt or pair of jeans. We did a little internet search and found some great ideas!  You can find these ideas on Pinterest under June’s board “My Style.” , or May’s board “Sneaker Style”.

What’s great about all of these looks is that they are all pretty much made up of basics we all have in our closet.  A striped tshirt, a grey sweater, dress pants,or a scarf worn with a pair of athletic shoes gives you a cool vibe.  And even if you are not a 20-something you can still totally pull it off.

As a little side note, we are still mad about our booties, heels, and little ballerina flats, however it’s nice to know that there is a cute, comfy, and versatile sneaker out there when we want to be a little more casual, or don’t have a ton of room in our carry on.  Have a good weekend. –May and June

Fries Before Guys 

And

Sneakers Before Stilettos.

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Featured - Choose Joy 2

This Year I Choose Joy

While I was Christmas shopping this past December, I kept coming across items that read “Choose Joy.” I saw it printed on a small wood sign, and a set of hand stamped stacking rings and a t-shirt. Every time I saw these words, I would stop because it struck a chord in my heart.

The past few days, every media outlet (social or not) has been full of advice and declaratives about resolutions. Most resolutions are about deprivation and discipline. I will go to the gym. I will eat healthy. I will lose weight. I will clean my house and get organized. These resolutions make me overwhelmed and anxious probably because it is a set-up for failure. During the month of January, the gym is so full that as a regular, I have to protect my spot in my always popular classes, but by Valentine’s Day, only the usual suspects will be there with a hanger-on or two. This week the produce department at the grocery store will be picked clean with nary a baby carrot to be found, but by Super Bowl Sunday everyone will be talking about the chicken wings and pizza they are going to eat. The carts at Target will be filled with organizational bins, containers and new sheets and towels, but come March there will still be at least one closet in your house that should not be opened without wearing a hard hat and other protective gear.

In the past, I have mentioned that I often fail to set resolutions at year’s beginning. While it is true that I could eat healthier (especially after the holidays), go to the gym more frequently and declutter my house, it seems like such a somber way to start the year. And at the end of the year, if I neglect to achieve those goals, then my year could be chalked up as a failure. Instead, I would rather focus on an intention as a way to approach the year through my attitude, my choices and my experiences. This year, the year of 2017, my intention is to Choose Joy.


In so many ways, joy is a choice. I have had momentous occasions when all I can feel is joy. These are usually huge, life events such as falling in love or a wedding day. I certainly hope for a few of those big, loud, can’t miss joyous moments this year. However, because of their nature those big events are few and far between. To choose joy you have to look at the small moments, the ones that fall in the cracks of your life amidst and as part of the every day.

I so often get caught up in the “have to’s” in my life. I have to go to work. I have to pay the bills. I have to do the laundry. I have to feed the dog. I have to attend a social obligation. By focusing only on these “have to’s” I forget to make time and appreciate joyful moments that occur. Some of these moments are so small that if I am not paying attention, I cannot see them or I take them for granted.

So in choosing joy I will need to focus on the present moment and appreciate it for what it is. If I am dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, I cannot appreciate the joy of the present. This may mean that when I walk in the house, I need to take an extra moment to notice that Gatsby is so happy to see me, and he always brings me his favorite toy. It may mean that when I find myself crabby and blue on Sunday afternoon worrying about the week ahead, that I should take a moment and appreciate the free time that I have right then. I know I am not going to be perfect. When my alarm went off at 5:00 am this morning, I did not feel joy but instead felt tired and cranky. However, I acknowledged that I felt that way and spent a moment remembering my intention.

To choose joy this year I will also have to let go of some things that are preventing me from making that choice. At times I will have to let go of fear. Fear holds me back from trying new things or getting out of my comfort zone. Fear also prevents me from pursuing some passions at the risk of not being good enough or strangely the fear of being successful at those pursuits. This means that I am going to extend invitations even to people I do not know well, I am going to write more and put it out there to be accepted or rejected and I am going to try some new things.

I also will need to let go of patterns or habit that don’t really serve me well all the time. This for me includes a fairly strict schedule of getting things done. I need to realize that sometimes setting aside the schedule and being spontaneous is the best way for me to choose joy. The laundry will wait, sleep can wait and sometimes even work can wait.

Finally, I am going to be more open to saying yes to things and to seek out opportunities. It is so easy to say no to an opportunity or an invitation that stretches you or makes you a little uncomfortable. It is even easier to not to seek new opportunities in order to stay comfortable. I will admit that I can often find joy at home wearing my sweats and reading a book or watching Netflix, and there is a place for that, but to really choose joy in my life, I have to discover and seek out those things that can enrich my life and make me joyful.

I am hopeful that on December 31, 2017, I can look back at the year feeling joyful because I made a conscious and deliberate intention to Choose Joy in my life. -May

Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. Mother Teresa

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Hello 2017 - Featured

Hello 2017

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays, celebrating the season with plenty of food, drink, fun and of course spending time with family and friends. On Saturday we bid farewell to 2016, ringing in a brand new year. 2016 was definitely a mixed bag for our family, and although I will cherish so many memories from the year, it’s time to put the past to rest and move forward.

There is something so freeing about a clean slate, don’t you think? We have the whole year in front of us, and although there is so much we can’t control, how we choose to react or respond to situations placed in front of us will play a huge part in our happiness. I’ve always kept a journal and for years have taken time every New Year’s morning to write down my resolutions for the coming year. More yoga, meditation, sleep, patience, clean eating, etc….Here’s the thing, I find myself writing the same words year after year always with enthusiasm and promise, only to be inevitably swept back into life’s current, with many of those goals sadly left on shore.

So, this year I’m going to try something new. We welcomed 2017 into our lives at our second home in South Carolina, and although I was organized and on top of my packing for the most part, I left my journal back in Chicago. Yes, I know I can always get a new journal, and yet I can’t because it won’t be the same. I’m in a different environment connecting with a new southern energy that has its own unique vibe. With that said, I have decided not to write resolutions this year. Instead, I intend to to take each day as it comes, and try (try, try) to live life in the present moment. I think that’s enough. I know it seems so simple but have you ever tried it? Our society loves to obsess about the past and future and this whole being present thing can sometimes be a little tricky. I am always preaching it to my yoga students and yet it’s my yoga students (one in particular) who remind me to practice what I preach. What would I do without them?

I find that being present improves my listening skills when I am having a conversation with others. Instead of thinking about the future and what I should say next, I am simply in the moment with them and my words come naturally. Being present also stimulates my creativity because I am not overthinking what’s to come. I am operating from that place inside that is spontaneous, the place where I often have my most creative moments. I find when I am present, my whole world becomes more interesting because I am more aware of what’s around me. Colors are more vivid, smells are stronger, and my senses are more alive because I’m not distracted by something else. Staying connected to my breath is a wonderful way to live in the present moment, and it is an easy way to come back to the here and now if I lose my way.

So, let us lift our glasses and drink a toast to 2017. Here’s to health, happiness, and living in the present moment.  Happy New Year!!

~May

“I never think about the future, it comes soon enough”. -Albert Einstein

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