Archive | May, 2017

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Recharging

At the end of last week I was tired.  Not just physically tired but spiritually tired.  I felt as if I was suffocating under a pile of worry.  That feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious was a bit consuming so we took the weekend to recharge.  It is tempting on a long holiday weekend to plan lots of activities, social events and projects.  I knew that going into the weekend we should do none of that and instead take the time to recharge.

So this weekend we spent time porch sitting and napping.  We watched a very schmaltzy movie on the Hallmark channel and the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  We went out to dinner one night, ordered pizza another night and cooked at home.

I was not completely without ambition.  The warm weather and open windows make me want to freshen up things in the house.  So, I washed every piece of bedding on our bed.  I also took summer clothes out of storage which involved more laundry.

I enjoyed a yoga class, got a pedicure and walked barefoot admiring my pretty pink toes.

We took Gatsby for many walks.  Gatsby and I supervised while my husband did a little yard work.  We watched someone else plant our new tree in our back yard.

I cut a few of my newly bloomed peonies to bring in the house and fill the kitchen with their sweet scent (after knocking the ants off of them).

I enjoyed sunshine and fresh spring breezes.  I left my phone charging for a whole day and took a break from the computer and all of its accompaniments.

We may have missed out on some things by pretty much holing up all weekend.  Sometimes though the best thing you can do for yourself is to take a break.  There is always chatter about listening to your body about what you need, but how many of us really listen?  I am so glad that I did listen this past weekend.    While I may have not woken up ready to take on the world, I did feel mentally and physically healthier.  All in all a weekend of recharging was just what was needed. –June

“All that is important comes in quietness and waiting.” — Patrick Lindsay

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Loving Julia Child- My Life in France

I’m sure all of you know by now that May and June love books- really, really love books. As a child, I always enjoyed riding my bike to the library or bookmobile when it came to our park, ready to devour the next installment of Nancy Drew under the shade of our backyard cottonwood tree. I’m still that way. To me, there is nothing like getting lost in a great work of fiction. Although I’ve read my share of non-fiction, usually the self-help variety, I really haven’t gone down the aisle of memoirs for no other reason than they really never interested me, until recently.  Often, while my pup Sawyer and I walk in the morning, I listen to various podcasts. A few weeks ago, Julia Child and her memoir, My Life in France (2006) was mentioned as a must read for anyone who enjoyed her cooking shows. I really didn’t think too much about it until I saw the book mentioned again online that very same week. So, I took it as a sign to reserve it at the library, and give it a try.

Many of you, who are of a certain age, may remember Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking or her cooking show, The French Chef. My mom, grandmother, and I loved to tune in and watch the French cooking masterpieces she would effortlessly create. She was a cooking genius as well as smart, funny, and oh so entertaining- all rolled into one. Often, we felt we were watching a comedy instead of a PBS show on the art of cooking. In fact, I’m sure all you Saturday Night Live fans remember Dan Akroyd’s hysterical skit as Julia Child.

My grandmother, who was a gifted cook herself, would sit in front of the television with her white leather bound notebook (which I now have) and pen in hand ready to write down Julia’s latest creation, then of course put her own delicious twist on it. That notebook is filled with recipes in my grandmother’s handwriting as well as stains from various sauces. I treasure that notebook.

By the way, I loved the book. I felt like I was sitting at Julia’s kitchen table in Paris, sharing a home cooked meal with her as she told her story. The book also awakened a few memories of my own childhood, playing sous chef to my grandmother as she cooked in her own amazing kitchen. Plus, the book is all about food and France- need I say more?

As much as we love living in the comforts of what we know and enjoy, sometimes it’s fun to step out of that box to try something new. For so many reasons, I’m grateful I read this book.

Next time you visit the library, choose a book off your reading list. You may find a new genre to enjoy.

~May

“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”

Julia Child, My Life in France

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The Art of Arranging Flowers

What We Are Reading In May

It’s hard to believe we are actually coming to the end of May. We are on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, and although many of you will be celebrating your day off watching a parade or getting together with friends for a great BBQ, we can’t think of a better way to spend some of our time off sitting out in the yard, or by the beach getting lost in a great book.

Here is what we’ve been reading this month.

Love Walked In- Marisa De Los Santos

From Amazon:

When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. But little does she know that her newfound love is only the harbinger of greater changes to come. Meanwhile, across town, Clare Hobbs—eleven years old and abandoned by her erratic mother—goes looking for her lost father. She crosses paths with Cornelia while meeting with him at the café, and the two women form an improbable friendship that carries them through the unpredictable currents of love and life.

Love Walked In, the first novel by award-winning poet Marisa de los Santos, is bursting with keen insight and beautifully rendered prose. Invoking classic movies to illuminate the mystery and wonder of love in all its permutations, Love Walked In is an uplifting debut that marks the entrance of an enchanting literary voice.

Our thoughts: This story centers around a young woman and an eleven year old girl who because of circumstance, end up together where a friendship develops as they both try to navigate their own personal journeys, as well as the journey they are on together. I’ve read a few of Marisa De Los Santos’ other novels, but somehow missed this one, her first. It is a sweet story about love.

The Women in the Castle: A Novel by Jessica Shattuck

From Amazon:

Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

Our thoughts:  There is a lot of World War II fiction out there but this one is a little different.  More than focusing on the war, it explores the time after the war.  How do people go on with their lives?  How do people put the things they did during the war behind them?  And how do they coexist and form relationships with their neighbors who had different viewpoints and objectives during the war?  This story is about three women.  One who was a knowing participant in the German resistance, one who was married to a member of the German resistance who knew nothing but suffered for her husband’s treason at the time and one who created a new identity for herself because of her active participation in the Nazi acts during the war.  This is a complicated story of survival, moving forward, forgiveness and forming family when the world has been torn about.  I was taken in by this book and could not wait to pick it up again.  A tough topic at times but it will keep your attention.

The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard

From Amazon:

A moving and eloquent novel about love, grief, renewal—and the powerful language of flowers.

Ruby Jewell knows flowers. In her twenty years as a florist she has stood behind the counter at the Flower Shoppe with her faithful dog, Clementine, resting at her feet. A customer can walk in, and with just a glance or a few words, Ruby can throw together the perfect arrangement for any occasion.

Whether intended to rekindle a romance, mark a celebration, offer sympathy, or heal a broken heart, her expressive floral designs mark the moments and milestones in the lives of her neighbors. It’s as though she knows just what they want to say, just what they need.

Yet Ruby’s own heart’s desires have gone ignored since the death of her beloved sister. It will take an invitation from a man who’s flown to the moon, the arrival of a unique little boy, and concern from a charming veterinarian to reawaken her wounded spirit. Any life can be derailed, but the healing power of community can put it right again.

Our thoughts:  I was completely charmed by this novel.  This book seems light from outward appearances but handles topics of grief and letting yourself open to live.  A bit predictable but full of fun and quirky characters.  Ruby has conversations with her dog that made me laugh out loud.  Being the soft-hearted person I am, I was very worried that Ruby was going to suffer the horrible loss of her dog.  For others in that same boat (and this is spoiler) something does happen to the dog Clementine but she is ok.  A story about opening yourself to love of all kinds even when your heart has been irretrievably broken.  The best kind of ending that mixes tears and laughter at the same time.

We hope you have a fun and safe holiday weekend and stay tuned for our summer reading book list coming soon.  We are going to make your TBR pile as big as ours!!!

~May and June

A book is a dream that you hold in your hands. 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that if you click on a link and make a purchase we may make a small commission.

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Limiting Beliefs

Recently we were working on handstand in yoga class.   To feel more comfortable, we were working against the wall which meant that when you kick up, with your feet over your head, you cannot fall over.  However, as soon as I got in position my brain told me that I was not strong enough and that I was going to fall on my head.  Guess what happened?  I could not get my feet off of the ground and it was because of limiting beliefs.

I find that limiting beliefs can prevent me from doing so much that I am fully capable of doing.  Do you do this to yourself as well?

There are many things I do not do because I don’t think I can do them.  I cannot do a handstand or a headstand or really any upside down pose.  I cannot draw or sing.  I cannot run.  I have trouble going to a party where I do not know anyone.  Are any of these really true?

My limiting beliefs about myself prevent me from even trying any of these things.  The limiting beliefs cause fear.  They cause me to fear that I am going to fail or embarrass myself.  However, that should not matter.

We should try those things that we are passionate about even if there is the risk of failure.  In the long run, who cares if we try and fall flat on our face.  And no one is good at something the first time they try.

There have been times that I have let my limiting beliefs get the best of me and it has caused me to miss out on something amazing.  When we were in Hawaii years ago I refused to swing on a rope over a deep lagoon because I was not sure I could do it.  I still regret that I didn’t try it.  But I am so glad that my limiting beliefs have not prevented me from trying zip lining, going whitewater rafting, learning to knit or start blogging.

I am still working on keeping those limiting beliefs in check.  My dream is to write a novel.  I have dabbled with an idea and a few pages here and there.  When I sit down to write I am immediately seized with the limiting belief that I am not a writer or that I am a terrible writer.  It prevents me from moving forward and having fun just writing.

That critical voice in our head is loud and sometimes the best thing we can do is acknowledge it.  And then tell that voice it is a liar.  If you really want to pursue something, do it and do not let those limiting beliefs hold you back.

In the meantime, I am going to tell that voice to shut up when I sit down to write and also when I work on my handstand.  I may only write a paragraph or I may get my feet barely off the ground but it will be progress which will show that voice who is boss.

Do you have limiting beliefs about yourself that are holding you back?   Is there anything you do to put those limiting beliefs aside?  –June

Many people are passionate, but because of their limiting beliefs about who they are and what they can do, they never take actions that could make their dreams a reality. -Tony Robbins

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Another Step Closer

The last few days I have been in Chicago. Our youngest daughter, Alyssa, just attended her senior prom and is graduating from high school tomorrow. I can’t believe our adorable and feisty little redhead is going off to college in a few months. In addition to celebrating her graduation, I’m also back for a doctor and dental appointment- my last before moving, I’m staging the house for selling, and of course a day of play (ahem, work) with June. I also celebrated my last birthday in my home town yesterday. Although this visit has been filled with more work than play, we have all enjoyed our time together, falling back into the natural rhythm of our family.

I’ve been getting the house ready to sell in stages, removing the first layer of “stuff” last fall. I can’t tell you how many times my mom and I filled the car with items collected over the years, emptying its contents at the nearby Goodwill. Of course the same woman was always behind the counter, and I think I saw an eye roll a few times when she saw my car pull up. Living in South Carolina the last few months has really given me perspective on what I truly need, and what I can live without. There are no basements there and with the heat and humidity, you need to be selective when storing items in the garage. I did let go of a lot more this time around. There were more bags for donation as well as garbage and the house feels a little lighter. Bob and I decided to have a moving sale since there will be quite a bit of furniture that won’t be traveling with us and we’ll have a truck pick up what’s left, and take it for donation. It’s nice to have a plan.

I’ve accomplished a lot in the house this trip and definitely feel like we are one step closer to the final leg of our journey.  As I remove more layers of “us” from this home, I feel less connected to it. I always imagined leaving would fill me with sadness, and although I may shed a tear or two before the moving van pulls away, I am grateful for all the wonderful memories. Now that our family is grown, I feel it’s time for a new one to enjoy this house and fill it with the sounds of children, birthday sleepovers, and holidays. The grammar school and high school are within walking distance and it’s the perfect place to raise a family. I’m heading back to South Carolina on Wednesday, but will be back again for the 4th of July holiday where we will celebrate our nation’s birthday together, enjoying time by the pool and of course our town’s fireworks as we prepare to take that next step. It’s so true what they say about our lives being all about the journey and making the most of it, no matter where the road takes us. We are on a journey together as a family, but we are all on our own personal voyage as well. It’s a little scary but oh so exciting.

Have a great week! ~May

Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip.
— Robert J. Hastings

 

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know – All About May

This Sunday is May’s birthday.  So first everyone wish her a Happy Birthday!  Second, in our birthday months we always like to do something a little special.  So we thought it would be fun to interview each other.  I, June, interviewed May to find out everything you ever wanted to know about her.  Well, maybe not really but there are some interesting tidbits here.

The following is not an accurate and completely editorialized interview of my interview with May.  June’s comments are in pink italics.

So give me your stats – I am married to Bob.  I have two sons and two daughters and a labradoodle named Sawyer.  I am in the process of moving permanently to Charleston, South Carolina but right now have a home there and in the northwest suburbs of Chicago (If anyone is looking for a new home, May’s house is gorgeous and you should look at it).  I am a yoga teacher currently on sabbatical, an interior designer that is currently working on my new home, a blogger who is hoping to take over the blogosphere, a corporate and regular wife and a mom.

When and why did you become a yoga teacher?  I became a yoga teacher in 1998. I was going through a difficult time in my life (divorce) and a friend suggested that I try yoga.  After my first class I was hooked and a year later decided that I wanted to teach.  I completed a two year program that studied both the philosophy and the teaching of yoga. I know May had to do a residency for her yoga program and it was an all vegetarian diet at the yoga center which meant lots and lots of beans.  At the airport waiting for her flight home, May ate the best burger and drank the best beer she ever had in her whole life. 

What is your favorite yoga pose?  Child’s pose is my favorite because you can do it anywhere and anytime.  It releases tension in the body.  I also like headstand because it allows me to the look at the world from a different perspective. It really depends on my mood.

 

Everyone has a favorite holiday but what is your second favorite holiday?  Christmas is my second favorite holiday because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

What is your favorite season?  My favorite season is summer although I also really really like Fall (unlike June who hates Fall).

What do you look forward to in the summer?  I look forward to being in my garden and playing in the dirt and just being outside in general. This summer is a little different because I am selling a house, packing it up and moving to Charleston, South Carolina. (June now has her fingers in her ears singing La La La because she doesn’t want to hear about May moving.)

What is one thing that you are good at that no one else in your family is good at?  Organizing. (I’ve been subject to her organizing when she helped me clean my closet.  She is good but mean, very mean.)

What is one of your pet peeves?  When people don’t clean up after themselves. (Are you guys noticing a theme?  Just so everyone knows, May’s nickname is Monica after the Friends character who needs to clean and cleans even after other people have cleaned because it’s not clean enough.)

What is one thing that you are not good at that you wish you could do better?  Math.  I was terrible at geometry.  I had to have tutoring sessions with the teacher and took it pass/fail.  The teacher agreed to pass me if I promised never to have a career that involved anything with math. (I hear you Sister.)

What do you do for fun?  Biking ( Bob and I biked over 500 miles last summer), trying new restaurants (especially in my new city), reading and cooking.

What are some of your favorite childhood books?  Boxcar children, Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, and of course Little Women.

What are some favorite books as an adult?  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  A writer goes to Scotland to do research for her book and she begins to experience some of the parts of her research.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, and the Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  Honestly, there are so many favorites!!

What are some of your favorite TV shows?  Outlander, The Crown, any Masterpiece series show, The Walking Dead and Younger (I agree with a lot of those but The Walking Dead.  Scary.)

What are some of your favorite movies?  Gone With The Wind (she and her mom often say to each other, “We’ll worry about it tomorrow, Scarlett”), Star Wars, Jaws, ET, any movie with Audrey Hepburn.  I also like foreign films.

What is one weird or unusual thing about you?  I have always enjoyed listening to classical music when I cook or bake.  I used to have a little radio in my kitchen and I would turn on the classical station while I was cooking.  The classical music relaxes and inspires me in the kitchen.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?  I would like to know the future.  As a structured and organized person if I knew the future I could prepare for it. (Umm, May do you remember that we are all about living in the present moment? )  I also would like to be able to fly.

Thank you May for allowing me to interview you and ask you some crazy questions.  I wish you the happiest of birthdays and so many blessings in the upcoming year.  I am so going to miss you when you move away from me.  I have already missed you this winter.  It’s good thing we don’t get charged by the text because we would literally go broke.  I love you my dear friend. –June

Today you are you that is truer than true.  There is no one alive that is youer than you.  -Dr. Seuss

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Dog Massage

Did you know that your dog can get a little bodywork done through massage?  I won a dog massage in a raffle and this last weekend, Gatsby had a massage.

The woman who owns the company also works in a veterinary office helping rehab animals that have had serious injuries or surgery.  The massage therapist took a 10 month course in canine massage which included learning all of the dog’s anatomy and is a certified canine massage therapist.  For Gatsby’s massage she came to our home where he is most comfortable.

We are fortunate that at 8 years old, that other than some skin allergies, Gatsby does not have any health issues.  However, because he is a golden retriever and therefore a large breed dog, we are watching him for signs of hip issues and arthritis as he ages.  Massage has a lot of health benefits for people and for dogs.  It can help with anxiety, aid with digestion, move toxins through the lymphatic system, decreases blood pressure and reduces pain and swelling.

Gatsby loves to be touched so I thought he would settle right into a massage, but as soon as she started he could tell it was different, got up and left.  It was explained to me that the touch has a different energy compared to petting, and the dogs notice the difference right away.

After a bit, and with a stuffed toy in his mouth, Gatsby came back for more massage.  He would settle in for a bit and then have to get up and walk around to walk it off.  One thing that fascinated me was he would offer body parts that he wanted massaged. For example, Gatsby laid on his right side so the therapist could massage his left side and left legs.  He then got up walked around a bit and then came back and laid on the opposite side so that other side would be massaged and he would be balanced.

Just like people, dogs can get muscle knots and tension especially in their shoulder areas.  I know when I have a massage, there is that mix of pain and pleasure as the massage therapist works out those particularly stubborn knots.  By looking at Gatsby’s eyes, I could tell when she hit one of those on him.

Obviously, Gatsby could not vocalize if he liked his massage but he was very chill and relaxed the rest of the day and into the next.  He is generally a pretty relaxed dog but this took him to another relaxed state.  And he seemed to be smiling all day.

While this will not be a regular part of Gatsby’s routine, I did feel like we did something good for him and for his health.  Definitely, if he starts to show signs of arthritis or other discomfort as he ages we will think about scheduling this a little more frequently.  It may seem indulgent but as part of our family, we want to make sure he stays healthy and happy. -June

Be the energy you want others to absorb. -A.D. Posey

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What’s Awesome Lately – May Edition

We think it is always a good thing to recognize your life for being awesome.  The awesomeness does not have to be saved for big moments but can be appreciated in small moments.  Here are a few things that we think are awesome lately.

Friday.  It’s Friday!!!  Friday’s are always awesome.  You can do anything on Friday.

Mother’s Day.  This weekend is Mother’s Day.  If you are a mom take time and enjoy being celebrated for the sometimes thankless but rewarding job of being a mom.  And we all have a mom so make sure to celebrate your mom.  If you are still looking for gift ideas we have some thoughts.

Spring Weather.  Because it is May it means that our favorite season, summer, is quickly approaching.  The earth is waking up from its long winter sleep and showing us her beautiful colors.  Looking out the window, going out for a walk or sitting on a lawn chair is awesome right now.

New Clothes.  The change of seasons also means that it is fun to look and maybe buy a few new clothes.

The ruffle is a big trend this summer.  It is a cute feminine detail and can be flattering.  You can find it on dresses, blouses and even t-shirts.

 

Gingham seems to be on trend this summer as well.  Gingham is always a sweet print but it is being done in styles that don’t make it too young to pull off.

And warm weather would not be the same without dresses.  Now is a good time to look for a few comfortable dress to be cool and look pulled together even in the steamy heat.  This is a cute sundress and looks to be a nice length.

Mexican Food.  Cinco de Mayo was last week and that combined with outdoor dining, makes us want to eat all of the chips and guacamole, tacos and margaritas.  Mexican food is always awesome maybe because it feels like a party.  One of our favorite Mexican restaurants is Uncle Julio’s, the skinny margarita is more than awesome, and we were excited to see that they are expanding and opening more restaurants.

Fun Quotes.  A fun quote we saw this week:

So check out the awesome in your life.  And have an awesome weekend. –May and June

“Whenever I’m sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead.” — Barney Stinson

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Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies

I went to a ribbon cutting ceremony last Saturday.  As old as I am, can you believe that I have never been to a ribbon ceremony?  The ceremony was full of all of the pomp and circumstance that such an event should contain.  There were speeches and pictures.  Then the grand event of cutting a big red ribbon over the front door with giant scissors opened the building to all visitors!

This ribbon cutting was special for me because it was the grand opening of a new library where my brother is the director.  The project has taken over a year and was a lot of work for him and many others.  The opening deserved this kind of ceremony because it was a momentous occasion of a vision coming to life.

When I mentioned to others that I had never been to a ribbon cutting ceremony, most others (some much older than me) echoed the same sentiment.  So it got me thinking that we should have more ribbon cutting ceremonies to celebrate the fruition of our own visions and accomplishments.

Other than your graduation and your wedding, when was the last time you celebrated an achievement?  And even if you have had a celebration when was the last time you celebrated in a big, possibly public, splashy way?  I know for me it has been a long time.  As adults I think we have a tendency to accomplish one thing and then immediately look forward to the next thing that needs to be done.  We should all take time to pause and celebrate all of those moments both big and small.

Buy a new house?  Put a big ribbon on your front door and cut it before you walk through.  Not only did you make it through the home buying process but you are committing to making a home in that structure.

Finish a big project at work?  Put a big ribbon on your office door and cut it before you start your day, taking a moment to relish in a completed job.

Clean out the closet?  Put a big ribbon on the closet door so it reminds you that the closet is clean every time you walk in the room.

 

The big ribbon might be a bit ludicrous and in some situation too ostentatious.  For example cutting a ribbon on the grocery store cart because you finally have food in your house may get you some funny looks.  But do something to celebrate when you accomplish something and feel proud.  The reason why those ribbons are almost always red and those scissors are gigantic is a statement is being made that this is something huge and important and special.  Those ceremonies not only celebrate what has been completed but what is to come.  So find those moments in your life to have a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate you and all that you are and everything that comes next. –June

You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness. Zig Ziglar

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Home Inspiration

This past weekend was absolutely gorgeous here in Charleston. We were blessed with blue skies, moderate temperatures and best of all, low humidity. It was the perfect weekend to walk the beach, eat at a favorite outdoor cafe, or take a stroll through a nearby historical neighborhood and enjoy the beautiful homes and gardens, which is what I did on Saturday morning. Window boxes are overflowing with colorful blooms and I love that every house on the block is unique and filled with history. If only each home could tell us its story! I love to take pictures of homes and gardens that inspire me, especially as I continue to layer a little southern charm to my own abode.

The flowers are at their peak right now and do so much to dress up these historical homes.

These homes caught my eye and were on the same block, but as you can see very different from each other. I love that about old neighborhoods. I would move into all of them!!

I loved the color on this one. I picture some ferns hanging on the porches and pots of colorful flowers on the steps.

I bet this pink lady was magnificent at one time. The homes in Charleston are never torn down, but restored to their former beauty. I can’t wait to see this one after her makeover!

If you’re looking for a little inspiration for your home, simply walk out your front door or take a stroll  through your favorite neighborhood and enjoy the spring colors.

Have a great week! ~ May

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.

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Celebrating Mother’s Day

Have you thought about how you are going to celebrate your mom this year? For a few weeks, we have noticed the sweet Mother’s Day commercials showering mothers everywhere with flowers, candy, and of course a Hallmark card. Last year, May and June posted a special tribute to their moms, and today we thought we would offer a few out of the box suggestions for celebrating those women who mean so much to us.

                           

 

Along with your mom’s favorite flowers, how about writing and sending a handwritten note on beautiful stationery? There is something so special and personal about a letter written from the heart that you find in your mailbox. We love the beautiful stationery at Papyrus. In addition, they offer beautiful cards and planners as well as gifts for any special occasion. 

Have you thought about planning a Mother’s Day outing? Sure, there is always going out for the traditional brunch, but sometimes it’s fun to make it a little more personal. Why not pack a special picnic with your mom’s favorite foods and enjoy the day at the beach, a beautiful garden, or a park?  You can also host a little dinner party at your home, especially if you live somewhere where spring weather in May is not always a given.

We also understand that sometimes, a celebration isn’t possible because a mom is no longer with us, and yet we still want to honor her. Getting together with siblings to reminisce and celebrate someone you all called “mom” is a wonderful way to keep her close to your heart.

Of course if you want to give your mom a gift, there is nothing like a book. May and June love, love, love books and think a great coffee table book about Paris, or your mom’s favorite city, or something inspirational that she can regularly go back to is a perfect gift. Don’t forget to write something personal inside the cover and date it.

Is your mom into yoga? We both firmly believe that everyone should be enjoying the benefits of this beautiful practice. A new yoga mat is a wonderful way to say I love you, and you can find them in beautiful colors, patterns, and thicknesses.

How will you celebrate your mom?

Have a great weekend. ~May and June

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” —Robert Browning

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Decorating With Spring Nature

The trees are blooming here in Chicago, the tulips are blooming and the grass is growing.  I love to decorate with fresh flowers and even on the coldest days in winter you will often find grocery store flowers in a vase on my table.  Now that the outside is cooperating we can decorate our homes without spending any money by decorating with the gifts nature gives us.  Try to go beyond the usual flowers and look to trees and other items in yard to bring in the house.

Recently, our crabapple tree was in full bloom in our front yard.  Every time I walked down the driveway I could smell the sweetness of those flowers.  I decided to take advantage and clipped a few of the branches and put them in a small vase on my windowsill.  My whole kitchen smelled like apple blossoms.  The apple blossoms are somewhat delicate so enjoy them while you can.

One of my favorite flowering shrubs this time of year is the lilacs.  When we walk in the neighborhood I stop to smell all of the lilac bushes (my husband doesn’t quite get the same thrill out it as I do).  Because I don’t have a lilac bush, I am waiting for my mom to get home from Florida (today) to bring me a bouquet of some freshly cut lilacs.

If your flowering trees are done, why not try a branch from an ordinary tree.  The buds and small leaves this time of year have a fresh green color.  The more interesting the shape of your branch the better.  This is a bit unusual but I think it is cool.

Finally, soon we will have peonies blooming.  I saw a bunch of beautiful peonies at my grocery store last week for $18.

I was tempted but it seemed a little excessive when I have three nice peony bushes that are growing and forming buds.  I always feel conflicted about enjoying them in the yard or enjoying them in the house.  Hopefully, I’ll have enough blooms this year that I won’t have to choose.

Enjoy all that nature has to offer you to beautify your home.  -June

At some point in life, the world’s beauty becomes enough. -Toni Morrison 

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Kale Chips

I’m sure you all know by now that Kale, the green (or purple) leafy vegetable that is part of the cabbage family, is all the rage at the moment, and has been enjoying popularity for a while. What I remember as a garnish at salad bars can readily be found at our favorite grocery or farmers market. It’s low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants and nutrients such as folate, magnesium, iron, and vitamin K. We eat it in salads, soups, stews, as sides and blend it in smoothies. I personally love kale and eat it often. Recently, a friend who was going to be traveling, gave me a bag  so it wouldn’t go to waste while she was out of town. Add that to a bunch I had just purchased, and you have a lot of kale! Not too long ago, I experimented with kale chips and since I had so much, I decided to try them again. I discovered if you cook them at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, they crisp up better.

Ingredients

1 bundle or bag of kale

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Rinse and dry kale, removing any large stems and tear into bite size pieces.

Place in a mixing bowl, add oil, salt and toss with hands until the oil and salt are well distributed. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 15 minutes.

With a spatula gently mix the kale on the cookie sheet, and bake 5 to 10 minutes more until kale is crispy and light brown. It can burn quickly so keep an eye on it. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

If needed, add a little more salt and enjoy immediately as a snack or a side. I find that they’re best eaten right away, however you can store them in an airtight container for a day or two.

I gave you a basic recipe but if you want to play a bit, you can use different oils such as avocado or coconut oil and try different seasonings. I’ve used seasoned salt, garlic salt, chili powder and cumin, and love the flavor.

Have a great week! ~May

Lettuce raise a little Kale

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