Archive | March, 2017

Forever is the Worst Long Time

March Books

It’s time for some book picks for March.  These are books we have recently read.  We are also busy reading book news and listening to podcasts and getting excited about books being released this summer.

Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan

From Amazon:

From acclaimed author Camille Pagán comes a wry, heartfelt exploration of love and loss.

When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.

When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.

Our Thoughts:  First, we love the title of this book, it is thoughtful and true.  This is a story of several loves that should not come to be. It is about complicated but beautiful relationships.  It is a story of how messy life can be and things are not always simple.  In order not to give away the ending, we cannot tell you about certain characters or ultimately how the story ends.  But be prepared for a beautiful ending that will put tears in your eyes.

A Piece of the World: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline

From Amazon:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Our Thoughts:  This book is by the author of the Orphan Train, which if you have not read, we highly recommend.  This is a book of historical fiction centered around one Andrew Wyeth painting.  I did not know anything about the artist Andrew Wyeth before reading this book, although it was a name I was familiar with.  This book centers around the subject of one of his most famous works called Christina’s World.  The author researched both the subject of the work as well as Andrew Wyeth, and he also invented certain aspects of the book.  I love books about art and the art world so I really enjoyed this read.  The painting Christina’s World is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and I will have to make sure to see it if I ever visit.

This Is How It Always Is: A Novel by Laurie Frankel

 

From Amazon:

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

Laurie Frankel’s This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

Our Thoughts:  This book is so good and I cannot stop thinking about it.  It also made me want to be the parent to five children, but that is not central to my thoughts here.  It involves an ordinary family in a somewhat extraordinary situation.  It’s about how two very good parents approach making decisions for their children to keep them safe, but also allow them to be themselves.  I loved the ending and I am still thinking about it.  In the world where we live it seems that there are only two choices when confronted with big decisions.  But what if there is not?  What if there is something in between?

Do you have any good book recommendations?  We are always looking for some books to read.  Have a good weekend! -May and June

No two persons ever read the same book.

–Edmund Wilson

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What To Do When Everyone Else Is On Spring Break

This week is spring break in our local schools.  Sadly, I am not on spring break but instead currently sitting in my windowless office.  From Facebook, all of my friends and neighbors are in exotic or at least warm locations like Mexico, Tennessee and Florida (especially Florida).  May is on the trip of a lifetime to Italy.  I am a bit envious of these warm weather vacations.  In the meantime, my husband and I feel like the sole survivors of a zombie apocalypse when we walk Gatsby through the neighborhood when not another soul is seen or detected.  So what do you do in order not to die of jealousy when everyone else is on spring  break?

1.   Enjoy Your Free Time.  Many of my usual weekly activities have been cancelled this week.  So I am going to enjoy having some free unstructured time.  And with that unstructured time I am going to do whatever I want which could be cracking a book on my TBR pile or working on a writing project.  I am still working on my 40 bags in 40 days project too (I think we are up to 15 bags donated or thrown out plus a very big extension ladder), so I can use some free time to keep up the work.

2.  Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.  We live in the world recognized city of Chicago and rarely do we take advantage of all the city has to offer.  Being a tourist in your own town can be a lot of fun and the best part is you already know you way around.  I plan on taking some time soon to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Botanical Gardens.  Both of these have been on my list of things to do that I have not quite gotten around to.

3.  Run Errands.  As weird as it sounds, run errands this week.  Everyone is gone which means the stores will be empty.  I am always happy when my trip to the grocery store is fast.  Go wander the aisles of Target and look at the new spring decor and outdoor furniture.  Go to the mall and do some window shopping.  I always find errands to be more pleasant when I am not being run over and knocked into by other people.

4.  Go Out to Dinner.  Similarly, because everyone is gone the restaurants are less crowded.  Pick a popular place that is impossible to get into and try and snag a reservation.

5.  Go to a Nursery or Garden Center.  This past weekend the weather was miserable.  A steady cold rain kept us company all day on Saturday.  My husband and I took a ride out to a garden center that we had never been.  We wandered around.  We bought some new string lights for our screened in porch, enjoyed some fresh plants in the greenhouse and got some ideas for our yard when the weather turns.  Because planting does not traditionally start until Mother’s Day weekend in Chicago, the garden center did not yet have outdoor annuals and perennials but we plan to go back once they do.  It is not a tropical landscape but at least you can enjoy a few plants.

6.  Catch Up On Work.  This might be a great week to catch up on work.  A lot of your colleagues and business contacts are out of the office which means you can tackle some of those projects uninterrupted by emails and phone calls.  And next week when everyone is stressed and catching up on the backlog, you will know that you are ahead of the game.

7.  Be Thankful You Are Not at Disney.  Finally, be thankful you are not at Disney World this week.  My mom, who winters in Florida, happened to be at Disney World this past Saturday and she said it was so very, very crowded.  She told me Spring Break is not the time to visit unless you like crowds.  They were not able to enjoy very many rides or shows because of the lines and crowds.  I think an off-season trip to Florida or another popular location may be more enjoyable for us when it is not Spring Break.

8.  Enjoy Where You Are.  I find it very easy to get caught up in what others are doing and forget to enjoy where I am in the moment.  I may not be enjoying the beach or some sunny warm weather, but I can enjoy the moment.  I will remember to enjoy sleeping in my own comfortable bed.  I will remember to enjoy taking Gatsby for walks.  I will remember to enjoy the slight hint of spring weather that is in the air.  So while I am not away on Spring Break, I can still enjoy the simple things in the moment and look forward to the anticipation of trip away in the future. –June

Wherever you are, be all there. -Jim Elliott

 

 

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May Meets Florence

Bonjourno from Florence, Italy! I am in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and fell in love the minute we walked out our hotel door and started roaming the narrow streets. We had a bit of jet lag when we arrived, but who can sleep when there is so much to explore? The fashion, food, and the people are wonderful and we have enjoyed learning all about this picturesque city which is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. As much as I love the fashion and food, I can’t say enough about the people here. They are helpful, courteous, considerate and so very friendly. As in most European countries, they love when you at least try to speak their language and are more than willing to teach those of us whose understanding of the language is a little more limited.

Although I have taken some photos, I am truly just trying to be in the moment and take in the beauty of this city through my eyes, and not a lens.

The beautiful garden outside our hotel window

 Il Duomo di Firenze in the distance

 the Ponte Vecchio Bridge

The Arno River

He was amazing!

 Later today we will be hopping the train for Rome where we look forward to more adventures in Italy.

Have a wonderful week!

May 

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Rainy Day Adventures

It is officially spring and along with new life poking up from the cold damp earth, we are starting to hear the beautiful sound of chirping birds in the morning, as well as the wonderful feeling of the warm sun as we gently turn our faces up toward the sky, our bodies eager to drink in some much needed vitamin D. Spring is also the time we experience those rainy days that are so needed to wash away the stillness of winter, and encouraging new growth to take its place with beautiful blooms in shades of pink, yellow, and red.

As much as we love blue skies and sunshine, every now and then we enjoy a rainy spring day.  A rainy day is the perfect time to stay in our comfiest of clothes, make a bowl of popcorn, and snuggle up on the couch with a great classic movie. How about Gone with the Wind? Yes, it’s a bit long but that’s the great thing about having a pause button, right? If you’re like us, you have probably seen it several times, but if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

A rainy day is the perfect time to put on your boots and raincoat, grab your umbrella and explore your neighborhood. It’s mother nature’s way of cleansing the body and soul and you’re never to old to splash through puddles.

A rainy day is the perfect time to bake chocolate chip cookies. Is it just us, or do cookies smell better on a gloomy day?

A rainy day is the perfect time to take a nap. There is something so peaceful about the sound of rain falling in an otherwise quiet room. There are even apps that mimic that sound for a better night’s sleep.

Of course a rainy day, or any day is the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a great book and a cup of tea.

What do you like to do on rainy days?

Have a great weekend.~May and June

The sound of rain needs no translation.

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Viewing Your Life Through A Screen

Last Tuesday night, I went to a concert with my husband.  The performer was not my choice.  My husband thinks though that he is still young and hip, so we saw Ariana Grande perform (and some other people who I did not even know).  The audience was young for the most part.  We had crazy close seats on the floor and a great view of the stage.  However, that view was obstructed by everyone in front of us holding up their phones to record the show.  The guy immediately in front of me recorded the whole concert.

 

We go to concerts sporadically and we go because we love the experience.  There is a magic to seeing and hearing a performer sing live.  There is a magic to sharing that experience with the people filling the venue and listening to their screaming and singing along with the performer.  We attend live performances for that shared experience.  This is the reason we still attend movies at a movie theater or a football game in a stadium.  The technology has become so advanced that we can watch almost any movie from the comfort of our own couch.  However, it is a different experience to attend those events with the excitement of a crowd.

Watching these mainly young people watch this live concert through the screens of their phone made me think they are missing the experience.  I can assure you that just because you do not have a recording or a picture of an event to post to social media, the event did still occur in your life.  This blog often talks about enjoying the beauty of the present moment and this is the antithesis of that concept.  Do you really want to view your life through a screen?  It seems that you are being an audience member of your life rather than a participant.

My iPhone 7 plus has a screen size of 5.5 inches.  My world and life would be very small if I viewed my whole life through that screen.  I would miss out on things going on around me.  I would miss the crack on the sidewalk and trip.  I would miss the beautiful sunset.  I would miss seeing the “protest” a few weeks ago of six people walking down the middle of a busy city street holding a sign and chanting.  I would forget to use my other senses too.  My sense of smell to enjoy a fresh rainfall or my sense of sound to hear the first birds of the spring chirping their songs.

Preserving memories is great but don’t forget to enjoy your life in the moment.  My husband and I took a few pictures at the concert.  He also recorded a snippet here or there.  But for the most part we enjoyed the experience.  We sang or clapped along.  We danced so much that my feet hurt.  We enjoyed looking at some of the fans’ outfits complete with bunny or cat ears.  We enjoyed watching dads taking their tweenage daughters to a concert.  We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and those memories are what we will talk about as time moves on.  When I looked at those people that were recording every single moment it didn’t seem like they were having much fun.  I wonder when they watch that video later on how they will feel about the concert.  Will they remember the things my husband and I will talk about or will their experience without emotion or excitement.   The memories of a fully experienced moment are so much sweeter than a picture in a book –June

Being connected to everything has disconnected us from ourselves and the preciousness of this present moment.”  – L.M. Browning, Vagabonds and Sundries

 

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A Sweet Day With My Sweet Girl

Happy Monday everyone! Our family reunited this past week for a little R&R, Charleston style. We’ve  spent the last few months in different locations and it was so nice to have several days to catch up on life and enjoy each other’s company.  Nicole, who just ended her spring break from USC, arrived a few days before the rest of the family, and the two of us had fun spending some quality time together. We cooked, watched movies, ran errands, and shopped of course. Although the weather was a bit brisk last week- too cold for the beach, the sun kept us warm as we walked several miles exploring this beautiful city. Each time we drive downtown, we discover something new, and after living here the past few months, I am quickly navigating my way around.

We are always excited when we come upon unique little dessert shops. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams was the perfect little cafe for a late afternoon treat after so much walking. We loved that it wasn’t your typical Baskin Robbins, rather this ice cream shop carries unique and creative flavors, and all their dairy products come from grass-pastured cows. They also have a few dairy-free options for those of us like myself who are not able to indulge in a traditional ice cream.

Nicole tried the Queen City Cayenne, and I had to have a taste. The flavor reminded us of a cup of Mexican hot chocolate. It was so darn good!! Now, these unique flavors are a bit of an acquired taste, and not for everyone. The last time we were here, Bob and Alyssa walked in, took a look at the options, and walked right back out. However, if you are the adventurous type and want to try something a little different, we highly recommend this King Street treat.

We are looking forward to sharing many more Charleston adventures.

Have a great week! ~ May

A daughter is just a little girl who grows up to be a great friend.

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Celebrating A Little Luck of the Irish

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today everyone is Irish, whether by birth or by choice.  Both of us do have Irish in our heritage so we thought it would be fun to list all things Irish to help you celebrate.

The Shamrock. To impart an irishness on anything, shamrock is added to it. We have the McDonald’s shamrock shake. Foot races called the shamrock shuffle or the shamrock beer run.  The shamrock is the symbol of St. Patrick’s Day because of the patron saint of the day.  Shamrocks, a clover type of grass, grow plentiful in Ireland and were considered sacred by the Druids in ancient times.  St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain to the Druids of the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). His use of the shamrock plant, convinced the Druid priests to allow St. Patrick to contine his missionary work in Ireland and convert many to Christianity.

The Leprechaun. The leprechaun is a type of fairy in Irish folklore. They are usually depicted as bearded little men who partake in mischief.  They spend their time making and mending shoes and have a pot of gold hidden at the end of a rainbow. If they are captured by a human, they will grant three wishes.

Irish Soda Bread.  One of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day treats.  We shared a great recipe for making your own here.

The University of Notre Dame. June’s alma mater, The University of Notre Dame loves all things Irish.  They are called the Fighting Irish and have a leprechaun as a mascot. While the official school colors are blue and gold, a lot of officially licensed merchandise comes in green and has shamrocks on it.

Lucky Charms.  The cereal is magically delicious. Yes it is super sweet.  And yes you can only eat two bites before your teeth hurt.  The marshmallows are so cute and make your cereal bowl look festive, and the marshmallows are the best part to eat.

Irish Coffee.  If you want to start celebrating early on St. Patrick’s Day, start with a cup of Irish Coffee.  A mix of coffee and Bailey’s Irish Creme with some whip cream, it is so delicious.  We made some last year for a little happy hour.

Corned Beef and Cabbage.  Corned beef and cabbage is the quintessential St. Patrick’s Day food.  You can make your own at home or go out to any number of restaurants tonight to enjoy the holiday meal.  For those of us who are Catholic and currently abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, the Cardinal in Chicago has granted us dispensation to eat corned beef today.  So enjoy without guilt!

There are so many ways to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day.  Hope you find a way to celebrate. –May and June

May the road rise to meet you,
may the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

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Curb Appeal- Part 2

Hi, Everyone! I hope you are all recovering from losing a precious hour of sleep this past weekend. It always takes a few days to get back into the swing of things when we spring forward, but it is so worth having longer days. Summer is just around the corner!

A few months ago, I shared some of my curb appeal goals for our new home. It has been a lovely winter here in the south, which was perfect for dressing up our front yard and exterior of the house. I started with a weekend painting project, giving our front door a bit of a facelift. The black door wasn’t doing anything for me, so I decided to freshen it up with a pop of color, and painted it Real Red, by Sherwin Williams. The door required a few extra coats of paint, but I am so happy with the end result, and it got two thumbs up from my neighbors!!  Also, our gas lantern hasn’t worked since we bought the house, so I replaced that as well.

Before

After

We got to work on the landscape early in February and I was so excited to get two Sabal Palmetto trees in the front yard. The trees look a little skimpy now, but it takes the fronds almost a year to fully blossom and once they do, they will provide a nice layer of texture, plus some much needed shade to the front of the house. We also planted some ornamental sweet grass in front of the palms which will turn a beautiful ruby red in late summer. As much as I’ve loved gardening in Chicago, I know the Charleston heat will prevent me from spending as much time working in the yard during the summer months, so I decided to go with plants that will be a little more low maintenance.

Originally, we planned to repaint the exterior of the house next year, after we settled in a bit. However once the landscape was finished, we really noticed how tired and faded the house looked. The white trim was starting to yellow and peel in a few places, and as you can see in the photo below, the green was really bleached out. Since there is no time like the present, we opted to paint the house now, sticking with the original color of Empire Green by Sherwin Williams. We love it!

Have you noticed our blue ceiling on the piazza (porch)? Blue porch ceilings have been a long standing southern tradition, actually for centuries. Home owners painted their ceilings what is now referred to as Haint blue, which is a soft blue green, to ward off evil spirits also known as Haints. This tradition is very common in Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina where both cities have a reputation for being haunted. I was more than happy to continue the tradition, and I love how it looks. Last week I took advantage of the beautiful weather, finished mulching the beds along the side of the house, and now our home looks brand new!!

I hope you enjoyed the front yard tour.  Of course our home will change and grow along with us, but for now, we are thrilled and I look forward to sharing more pictures when the palms grow out. Stay tuned, we are excited about a project we are planning in the backyard.

Have a great week! ~ May

The most beautiful house in the world, is the one that you make your own.

 

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What We’ve Learned Lately

Happy Friday! No matter what is happening in our busy lives, we are always learning new things. Sometimes these new things are profound. Sometimes they are silly. Sometimes they are little hacks that make life easier, and sometimes they are an interesting fact or two that can make life more interesting . Here are a few things we’ve learned lately.

The difference between a graveyard and a cemetery is that a graveyard is connected to a church.  If the church closes then the graveyard becomes a cemetery.

If you are having any work done around your house, clean your closets first.  The contents of June’s master bedroom closet were let out of their confines during the course of painting, and have now taken over the whole upstairs.  She has a lot of work to do.

Make a list when you go to the store. If you don’t, you will buy items you don’t need, and forget the item you went to the store for in the first place.

Pay attention to your pets. They remind us to stop, breathe, go for walks, and give belly rubs.

Our Dogs and their Black and White Enemy

Gatsby

Sawyer

Dress for the weather- not for the calendar date.  And check the weather before you leave the house.  If it is 70 degrees in February you do not need to wear a coat.  If it was 70 degrees in February the day before it does not mean it will be 70 degrees today.  If it is not going to be 70 degrees, please do not wear flip flops or shorts.

No matter how much plastic surgery the Hollywood stars have, you can always tell their age by their neck.  Find a good neck cream.  We are looking for one and if you have found a magic neck cream, please share.

Have a good weekend. –May and June

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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How To Choose Paint Colors

We are in the process of having the main floor in our house painted.  The last time we painted was 10 years ago right before we moved in. After we decided to paint, I started noticing all of the dirt, fingerprints and dog smudges on the walls.

If you hire a painter (which we did), the hardest part often is choosing the paint colors.  Have you ever noticed that the color on the little paper strip you get from the paint store rarely looks like the same color on the wall?  That is the worst.  That green that looked like a pretty spring green now looks neon on your walls.  Often a painter will repaint if you hate the color and ask nicely.  Also, how do you get your house to reflect your personality and the ambiance you want to set?

I have spent a lot of time looking online and in print magazines at color trends.  I knew I wanted colors that were fairly neutral, so that they did not look dated in a short time, but also had some personality.  And because I like to add color with accessories that I often switch around I do not like to be stuck with one color scheme.

My husband thought that we should just repaint the walls that same color that we had painted them 10 years ago.  Of course, this is the same person that when an item of clothing wears out wants the exact same item with no differences.  The colors that we had were popular when we previously painted, but now looked dated.

Tones of grey seem particularly popular right now.  It also can serve as a good neutral. Grey is a tricky color though because some lean more brown, some blue, some green and some almost a purple.  Go to the paint store and get lots of the paint strips that have greys and line them up next to each other.  You will see what I mean.  It is amazing.

We do not have an open floor plan.  We have different rooms.  Because of the different rooms, I thought different colors for each works better rather than painting them all the same color.  However, you can see most of the rooms from one another.  So I knew the colors had to coordinate.

After deciding that a grey color would be my base, I then searched Pinterest and started a Paint Color board.  Our painter uses Benjamin Moore paint so rather than go through every grey Benjamin Moore paint, I searched on Pinterest for the most popular Benjamin Moore grey paints.  There are a lot of pins on this.  I figured if lots of other people like the color then it must be for good reason.

My next step once I narrowed down the greys I liked best was to get a sample paint color from the store.  You can go to any store and they will make you a Benjamin Moore sample.  You do not have to buy the Benjamin Moore sample which is often pricier.  It may not be an exact match but for sample purposes is close enough.

Putting the sample on the wall makes a huge difference.  I loved the color Gray Owl.  It is a light gray that leans a little blue or green but pretty neutral.  My mom has it in her house and it is really pretty.  When I put it on the wall in our living room it looked awful.  Our living room has white crown molding and baseboards plus built-in.  It also has southeast exposure which means we get lots of sunlight during morning to early afternoon.  The Gray Owl was so light, I was afraid we were going to have to wear sunglasses in the house.  I am so glad I put the sample on the wall before having the whole room painted that color. I am keeping this color on my list to use in our basement family room when we repaint it.

Thanks to Pinterest I found a color scheme that suggested Chelsea Gray, Revere Pewter and Oystershell would coordinate well.  And that became my living room, foyer/stairway and dining room scheme.

For the kitchen and our back family room, I knew I wanted color and not a neutral.  The kitchen I wanted to be light green (but not minty) and once again I searched for popular green colors. I settled on one of the brand’s historical colors, Prescott Green.

For the back family room, which I often use as a place to work, I knew I wanted pink.  I did not want a baby pink but a neutral pink.  I found a color called Mellow Pink that is described as having grey undertones.

Finally, because the powder room is tiny, I decided to go a bit bolder and chose a deep purple called Vintage Charm.

The other thing to consider when choosing paint colors is to think of your house as a whole rather than as individual rooms.  It is good to choose colors that coordinate and complement each other .  I put all of the swatches on one wall to see if that would hold true.

 

Also think about what mood  you want to set in your house?  Do you want vibrant and loud?  Do you want quiet and peace?

The colors that you choose for your house are extremely personal.  They set the mood and tone in your house.  I want my house to be a peaceful, comforting and a warm sanctuary from the outside world.  I want it to be a cozy place to retreat.  I also want to be inspired and creative.  My colors tend to be a bit subdued but the pink inspires me and makes me happy.  And while we are not painting the bedrooms and the basement family room yet, I already have selected those colors as well. –June

 

Color is a power which directly influences your soul. Wassily Kandinsky

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To Gray Or Not To Gray

A few weeks ago, my mom and I were on the hunt for a patio table for her yard. We didn’t find the table, but we both noticed the sales clerk’s hair which was a beautiful silvery gray. We actually complimented her on it and she proudly said she gets more positive feedback on her natural gray hair than she did when she colored it. We continued our conversation about gray hair on the drive home, wondering why society finds that men look handsome and distinguished as they gray (George Clooney), and women simply look old? But then we thought, maybe it isn’t society at all, but pressure that we women put on ourselves to try to stop the hands of time. Or, perhaps, it’s a little bit of both.
 
Recently, I have noticed gray hair becoming a growing trend for women who want to embrace a more natural look. I actually started a Pinterest board titled Forever Goddess that shows photos of beautiful women embracing their naturally gray hair. Let’s face it, coloring hair to cover gray is a lot of work and if you have it done professionally, a lot of money, not to mention the regular application of smelly chemicals to your hair and scalp. Even if you use organic products, we are still talking time and dollars. I know women who have to color their hair every three to four weeks to prevent their gray roots from showing, and if you’re a brunette you really need to stay on top of it. Are we truly realizing our authentic selves if we color, or are we wearing a mask? Also, are we fully living in the present moment if we are worrying about our gray roots and staying on top of our coloring appointments? I really don’t know the answer to that. I have a few friends who are tired of the vicious cycle of coloring their gray roots, yet they can’t ever imagine letting it go natural. I did find a great article about ditching the dye, and going for a more natural look in the Chicago Tribune.
 
Last year I wrote a post about clean hair care. Because of an allergy to traditional hair dye that I developed over a period of time, I had to find a salon that used products my scalp could tolerate. I did find a salon in South Carolina that uses the same Organic Color Systems, but because it was the holidays, and I was busy with the house, I didn’t make an appointment right away after I arrived. When I called, I had to wait four weeks for an appointment which brought me to nine weeks between coloring. (Yikes!) Now over the years, after I saw my first grays, I just got into the habit of getting my hair colored every five to six weeks without really thinking about it, because that is what we girls do. My new stylist was so apologetic about not getting me in sooner until she saw how little gray I actually have. I discovered that I not only inherited my maternal grandfather’s curls, I also inherited his slow to grow gray. That’s not to say I am gray free, because I am not. But it is loosely scattered around my head virtually showing no roots in between colorings. Interestingly, this stylist is not a big proponent of over coloring hair and uses low lights and high lights to help unite the new gray growth with the previous color, so you aren’t tied to a strict coloring schedule. I like that. Am I ready to give up color and just go au natural?? Not yet, although I am embracing the idea of it. For now, I am going to relax my hair schedule a bit. Also, because of the humidity here in the south, I am adopting a more carefree style that doesn’t require a precision cut, and I can just let my hair do what it was born to do. I am going to start blending whatever new gray comes in, with just a few low lights and see what happens.
Are you ready to embrace your gray?
Have a great week. ~ May
I am not aging. I am ripening. I am not getting old. I am becoming wiser. My hair is not going grey. It is shimmering silver like the light of the moon. My beauty brightens and glows with more brilliance with each circle around the sun and my spirit becomes stronger and softer as she flowers like a autumn orchid. I know this because i was told by a Whisper in the Wind.
 
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March Weather Essentials

Happy March!! Spring is just around the corner and it is time to replace our parkas, snow boots, and mittens with a few pieces that will work well with this season’s more mild temperatures, as well as the rain showers that often arrive with spring.

Here are a few items we like.

Hunter Boots from Nordstrom

 

Hunter boots have gotten quite popular over the years, and for good reason. They are so darn practical!! These boots are great for those rainy mornings splashing through puddles as you make the commute from the train to the office, as well as running the dogs out. They keep your feet nice and dry and come in some great styles and colors. They have all different heights for whichever size you prefer.  You can also purchase fleece liners for colder days. We both love ours!

London Fog Trench from Nordstrom

Since we are on the subject of spring showers, we feel every girl should have the classic trench coat. There are so many colors and styles out there right now, but here is an oldie but goody, the classic London Fog trench coat. This particular coat comes in regular as well as petite sizes and it has a removable liner, which makes this coat a great option for the somewhat volatile temperatures that occur this time of year, as well as later in the fall. This particular style has a hood which always comes in handy on particularly windy and rainy days.

We also liked this Via Spiga trench coat with a pleated bottom. You can purchase this coat in red, blue, sand, and black, it comes in petites, plus right now it’s on sale.

Of course our spring shower ensemble wouldn’t be complete without a great umbrella. How many times have you run to your local drug store to pick up an inexpensive umbrella, only to have it blow inside out the first time you use it? Do you remember the bubble umbrella? It enjoyed popularity back in the 70’s, and May remembers having the child’s version with little yellow ducks on it. And if you are a fan of the Crown and Queen Elizabeth II, it seems that this style is a favorite of hers as well.

They are great for keeping your head and shoulders protected from the rain, plus they don’t blow inside out. One downside is it isn’t portable enough to just throw in your bag, yet what good is your umbrella if it doesn’t provide protection when the wind picks up? The price tag is a little higher, but you’ll keep this one for a long time.  And if its good enough for the Queen, then it definitely is a must have.

What are some of your rainy day essentials?

Have a great weekend. ~May and June

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.- Roger Miller

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40 Bags in 40 Days

Today is Ash Wednesday which is the start of Lent in the Christian church.  Lent is a time of sacrifice, prayer and alms-giving.  In the Catholic Church we are asked to sacrifice something in our life for the period of Lent.  As a kid I always gave up chewing gum.  I loved chewing gum and not having any between Ash Wednesday and Easter was tough, but it was a simple way to keep the meaning of Lent and Easter in the forefront.

In the last few years, I have not been very thoughtful about sacrificing something during Lent.  We do not eat meat on Ash Wednesday or on Fridays during Lent which is not really that big of a sacrifice.  However, the last few years I have seen this 40 Bags in 40 Days Lenten “Challenge” floating around on the interwebs.

The physical purpose of this challenge is to get rid of 40 bags of stuff in your house over the 40 days of Lent (Lent is longer than 40 days but apparently Sundays don’t count which is something I wished I had know when I used to give up gum).  The bags of stuff can be donated, if still useable, or thrown in the trash.

When I first read about this, it seemed a bit self-centered to me.  I would get all of the benefit. Cleaning up the clutter in my house would equal me having a clean house.  This did not seem appropriate during the season of Lent when we should not be focused on our own pleasure and ego.  This seems a bit like giving up dessert during Lent not for the self-denial but because you really want to lose a few pounds.

I spent some time thinking and praying about this and came to the conclusion that for me this is a good Lenten sacrifice.  I tend to hold onto material physical stuff.   I become attached to things.  The Church often asks members and clergy to shed material items which is what this challenge will require me to do.  In addition, in the process of letting go of the physical that no longer serves me, I may let go of the more transcendental that no longer serves me.  This may be long-held expectations or beliefs or goals.  If I let go of the pants that no longer fit, possibly I can let go of that expectation of what I think of as the most attractive size.  If I let go of those books that I no longer want to or have time to read,  maybe I can accept that it is alright to use my free time in the way that is most enjoyable for me and not always in a way that is for self-improvement.

(We are having our house painted.  I feel like I am living in the house from E.T.)

In addition, for some items such as barely worn clothes or shoes, I will be donating them to others that need them.  While doing so, I intend to pray for those that receive them, that the items will serve them, and in some cases give them a little joy.

I also think in doing this project, I will appreciate even more how many blessings we have.  The truth is we have way too much in the way of material goods while others have very little.

My husband and I have decided to do this as a team effort this Lent.  It seems even more meaningful that we are taking it on together.  An important part of our relationship that sometimes gets neglected is our faith.  We met in a church small faith group many years ago so it seems appropriate that we approach a Lent sacrifice together.

You will find a lot of websites out there that have rules and a printable for this challenge.  However, it really is your journey to undertake in the best way that you see fit.  I intend to try and do a little bit every day but I also know that more time will be devoted to it on the weekends.  We have to clean out our closet.  I have too many clothes and my husband has shirts hanging in the closet that I have not seen him wear in the 15 years I have known him.  The closet will be a weekend project.  Smaller things such as the junk drawer in the kitchen can probably be sorted out in 15 minutes on a weeknight.

(This closet has way too much stuff)

We also intend to define “bag” how we see fit.  For example, we have an extension ladder that we ended up with when my mom moved.  For the last 5 years it has sat outside against the back of our garage never used.  We are getting rid of that and counting that as one “bag.”  In this case it really is the process of shedding ourselves of material possessions in a thoughtful and prayerful way.

If you are interested in doing the 40 bags in 40 days let me know.  We can support ourselves through this process. I know that this process will not be easy for me.  Letting go of stuff is hard for me even if it is no longer serving me.  And no matter how you choose to participate in Lent in another way, I wish you prayers.  And now I am off to buy lots and lots of trash bags.  –June

“Everything in life has its own time. There is time to celebrate and there is time to mourn. This is the time for reflection and transformation. Let us look within and change into what we ought to be.”  — Aaron Saul

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