Glittery Goodness

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | | 14 comments

Glitter pine cones


Some time last fall, I decided I wanted to decorate with pine cones. Glittered pine cones, to be exact, for our tree and a few around our home for some added sparkle.


It's a simple idea
Inexpensive
Not that difficult to "create"
Only a couple of simple steps
Spray paint, spray adhesive, glitter!


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Or so I thought! 


What I wasn't prepared for was the lack of pine cones ~ as in none to be found!  I ask, begged, and was willing to buy pine cones from friends, family and co-workers. Compliments of our hurricane, we are lacking here in my area!


Nope, Nada, None!


The only pine cones available for purchase are coated in {fake} cinnamon scent. They give me the worst headache. I hold my breath every time I pass them in the craft stores.
I was just about to give up on my idea when Lori came to the rescue. During one of our chats, pine cones came up and she offered to send me some. Apparently, they have more than their share this year and she was happy to share.


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I'm thrilled with how they turned out and how wonderful they look in our Christmas decor. Just what I had envisioned.


 I've set aside a few of the teeny tiny ones. I plan to add them to my packages once their wrapped {no need to rush in this department, I have 3 more days. Yikes!}  They will be the perfect special touch with the satin ribbon and wrapping paper.



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Cookie Exchange

Sunday, December 18, 2011 | | 7 comments
I've been looking forward to this afternoon all season. This afternoon was my annual Cookie Exchange. It's always such a fun afternoon. I get to catch up with friends and neighbors, eat girlie finger foods, and in the end, I have an amazing platter of cookies to enjoy ~ yum!

I made chocolate covered cherry cookies for the exchange this year.

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In keeping with my "low key" holidays, I didn't go overboard on the menu. No one seemed to notice and for the first time in years, I wasn't stressed. What a joy, I should have done this years ago.


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I'm really blessed to have such a great circle of friends. Each of these wonderful women have such amazing talents. There is never a quiet moment when we are together.

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My sweet friend and neighbor grabbed a few shots of me while filling my platter. She's a wife and mom too! {aka always behind the camera and never in a photo! :) } 


Our week ahead is going to be a crazy one and that's putting it nicely. We are in school until the bitter end :) I'm in charge of putting on our staff breakfast, we have have two parties to attend, and somewhere in all my (nonexistent) free time I need to squeeze in last minute shopping and prepping for Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Is it too late to hire an assistant?



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Boxwood Wreath

Monday, December 12, 2011 | | 16 comments


I was going to order a couple of boxwood wreaths when I realized ....

~We have boxwoods in our yard

~I know how to make a wreath

~It takes very little time to make one

~I could spend the money on something else {that I really want}

so, a crafting I went.

I love the little corner cabinet in my kitchen with the glass front. She just needed a little something, something to dress up for the holidays ~ enter the wreath idea.


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My boxwood gathered and secured into small bundles.


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Add the bundles by over lapping as you go along.



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All finished and pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.


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I love this ribbon. I wish I had purchased all they had in stock when I found it last year. It has just the right touch without being over the top.


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On display ~ just what I was looking for to add a little Christmas cheer to my kitchen.


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It's simple, homemade, and just the perfect touch.
Not to mention that it brings a smile to my face :)



Merry, merry!


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My Blog is Back

Sunday, December 11, 2011 | | 6 comments



Well over a week ago I popped on my blog only to find out it had been shut down.

Why you ask?

They {Blogger} are claiming spam.

Seriously ...


Well, after a lengthy and painful process, I'm back!

I can't wait to catch up with all of you and see all the great holiday goodies you've been up to. I'm right on track with my holiday list and projects. I'm rather surprised by this as I'm usually stressing big time by this date.

*Lori ~ no changes after my tour ;)

Have a wonderful Sunday.


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Holidays with happiness

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | | 8 comments
I love and enjoy everything about the holiday season.

except ...






the chaos!



Some time in August {around the time of the hurricane with no power and plenty of time on my hands to ponder} I made the decision that we were going to celebrate the season this year a little differently.

The following guests will not be invited this year~

*losing tempers
*running around at the last minute
*stressing out over decorations
*Christmas cards with hand written updates
*meeting the expectations of others
*searching for the ideal gift for each person on my list


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This Christmas I want to focus on the beauty this time of year holds, my wonderful family and dear friends, and what it really stands for; not what we've created. My goal is to live in the moment of each and every gathering and event over the next few weeks.

I don't want to secretly wish the season over because I'm about to lose my mind!

Last year {after the holiday headaches} I came up with the idea of celebrating our backgrounds. I'm Italian {Sicilian} and my husband is Swedish. Not exactly the most complimentary couple when it comes to decor. In a nut shell, it's simplistic beauty meets gaudy glamour ;) Oh my! It's going to be a decorating and celebrating challenge but one we'll be embracing nonetheless.



I've laid down the law {my law, placed upon me, by me} and set a deadline for all decorating to be finished and in place. I'm working on getting our home ready this week and will finish on Sunday. Whatever is accomplished by this date will be what we enjoy for the duration of the holiday season. If it doesn't make it out of the Christmas bin in time ... oh well. I'm quite certain my family and friends won't hold it against me or even notice for that matter.




So far so good ~
*I'm ahead of the game for my annual Cookie Exchange
*We have plans to have a few couples over this weekend for wine and heavy appetizers.
*Our home is showing signs of a Christmas transformation
*My girlfriend and I have our tickets in hand for a fabulous holiday home tour.
*I have my outfit for my husband's Christmas party ~ this may be a first!

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Images ~ Pinterest



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Thanksgiving

Friday, November 25, 2011 | | 12 comments
We had the perfect Thanksgiving this year. There is so much to be thankful for and we are really blessed to have such wonderful family and friends that are a part of our daily lives.

This year we have been going at top speed most days. After awhile, this pace gets rather exhausting. With that being said, we both craved some major down time.

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Our day was relaxing and slow paced from start to finish.


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Our menu consisted of many traditional dishes but I tried to lighten the calorie load a tad ~ still very yummy!

I made a pumpkin roll for the first time. I've always been afraid to try anything that required "rolling" as I failed horribly at this process years ago.

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Good thing I gave it a whirl because it was AMAZING!


We watched the parade, took a walk, watched a lot of football, read a little and, I even started my Christmas cards.


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It wouldn't be Thanksgiving if there wasn't a little napping involved :)

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well.




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Duty calls

Monday, November 21, 2011 | | 9 comments
The past month and a half {or so} has been insanely busy. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to get on top of my lists ~ help! I hope to {try} get caught up this week if all goes well.

It hasn't been all work and no play. My time has been diversified :)

I've had ...

fun time
girlfriend time
school conferences {with my students}
over loaded work schedule
numerous meetings
uplifting woman's conference
fall break visitors ~ my son and his adorable girlfriend Lauren
reuniting with my husband
and
birthday celebrations

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In keeping with the thankful heart, I thought I'd share with you our very dear friend Mike. He, and his wife Marilyn, are honestly like family to us. On Friday night the four of us met to celebrate all  of our birthdays. In a period of three weeks we all have birthdays ~ lots of fun. Each year we get together and go out to dinner. Our window of opportunity was very small this year. Kevin has been gone for a few months with the exception of his brief "visit" in October. 

 Not long ago Mike received new orders. Sadly, on Sunday, he left for training which will prepare him for his year in Afghanistan. His absence will be sorely missed.

Our birthday celebration was a tad bittersweet. We knew that it would be the last time we'd all be together for a very long time. Mike and his amazing wife, Marilyn, are dear friends. They are the family you'd choose to have if you could. They call and check in on me when Kevin is at sea or on travel and are always willing to help if I'm in need. Mike and Kevin have know each other since their younger days ;) They attended the Naval Academy together {although a few years a part} many years ago. We all met up again a few years ago when the Navy brought us back together.

What a blessing!

We spend holidays together, celebrate accomplishments, usher in New Years and most of all ... have a blast together!

We wish you a safe journey to and from this point of duty!




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Autumn Thankfulness

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 | | 10 comments


Autumn is natures grand finale of color fireworks.

The harvest colors are so warm and comforting as the temperature starts its decline. They beg you to snuggle in and get compy for a long winters nap.



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It my favorite season. I look forward to the beauty nature creates each and every year. If only it lasted just a tad longer.

Happy November!


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Thankful Heart

Monday, November 7, 2011 | | 7 comments
When my blog friend Heidi proposed the Thankful Heart Project, I knew I wanted  to join in on the fun. I had high hopes of featuring one of the many blessings in my life each day with you during the month of November. Well, as you can tell by the date, I haven't exactly achieved that goal. So, instead of stressing out, I'm going to bend the rules just a tad and do what I can with my crazy schedule this fall.

I am so thankful that I was chosen to be Nicholas' mom. He has grown into a wonderful young man. Now that he is an adult, I have the pleasure of enjoying a new, and different, role in parenting. No, he isn't finished growing or learning but he is well on his way and my hard work of parenting in his younger years is paying off!  Whew!


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Nicholas was home a couple of weeks ago for fall break. His visit was nothing short of  fabulous. We had a great time together filled with family fun. I'm planning on sharing his visit in the next few days {read I'm really behind on blogging!}


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I'm dreaming of ...

Sunday, October 30, 2011 | | 16 comments
A white Halloween!
{not really music to my ears}

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The day started out gloomy

Changed over to rain

then

Slushy rain

and finally ...

Snow!


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I must admit that I'm not even the slightest bit excited about the white stuff falling from the sky.

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We never even had a fall this year. I feel cheated out of my favorite season. 

It has gone from the dog  days of summer to a winter wonderland almost over night!


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Due to the hurricane {a mere few weeks ago} our trees are all out of sorts. Most of the trees in our area are still hanging on to all their leaves. Usually most leaves have fallen by now and the branches are bare.

Branches full of leaves + heavy snow = no power

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The only one, in my home, that was excited to play in the white stuff falling from the sky was Bentley. He was looking at Bozley trying to convince him to join in the fun.

Bozley, sharing my thoughts, looked at him like he was CRAZY!

This morning I awoke at 5am to the sound of snow plows ~ ugh!
We had a very bright white view from the window ~ double ugh!

I am praying this isn't an indication of what is in store for us this winter!


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My Week

Saturday, October 1, 2011 | | 18 comments
It's been a crazy busy week but I'm really enjoying the ever so slight hint of autumn in the air. I'm really stressing the word "slight" as it's been very hot and humid here in my little part of the world.

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Dressing for school has been a challenge. I don't own many {read any} clothes designed for fall in the south. My fall wardrobe features heavy cottons, down, and wool. Since going naked isn't an option, I've had to get creative instead of cute. Not fun.



Anyway ...



My week in review has managed to bring about one of my favorite ingredients .... PUMPKIN!

Our neighbor recently lost his father. His life was celebrated as he enjoyed 94 amazing years of life full of adventure. It's so cute to hear his grandsons speak of him with such love and admiration.


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After all the family had left, and their lives had quieted down a tad, {as much as it can with little boys and all their activities} I dropped off a dinner basket on their porch. I made my families lasagna, my friend Lori's amazing bread, and easy peasy, but oh so yummy, chocolate yam cupcakes. Yes, you read that correctly ~ yam. Pumpkin is at an all time shortage in my stores so I've resorted to using yams. You cannot tell the difference. Seriously! Give it a try {Susan :)} and you'll be delighted.

*Recipe listed at that the bottom*

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On Sunday, before church, I warmed up the over and made pumpkin cinnamon rolls. These were good but didn't have as much pumpkin flavor as I had hoped for so I'll keep looking for a tastier recipe.


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While strolling through Trader Joe's I spied one of my favorite treats. Figs! They don't make an appearance often here in the north but when they do, I take full advantage.

I'm making a fig and brie appetizer this evening to take to a friend's home for dinner. I'll let you know how it turns out. If it passes our strict panel of judges (ha), I'll share the recipe with you.

*anything with brie passes with flying colors!*

Chocolate Yam Cupcakes with Yam Cream Cheese frosting

Cupcakes
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 cup mashed yams {from a can}
1 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream cheese frosting
8 oz. cream cheese {I use the low fat}
1/2 cup mashed yams
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1tsp. cinnamon

Cupcakes:
Mix all the ingredients together and beat for about 2 minutes on low.

Spoon into desired cupcake tin of choice {I like the mini}

Bake for 12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Remove to wire rack and let cool.

Frosting:
Beat all the ingredients together until creamy.

Pipe onto cupcakes

Sprinkle with a little autumn sugar

Enjoy!


Happy October!



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You are Invited

Saturday, September 24, 2011 | | 25 comments
Next week I'm having some girlfriends over for

Friday Night Happy Hour

The weather looks like it will be nice so we'll be able to spend the evening outdoors on our patio.


We will enjoy an outdoor fire, munchies and cocktails.


I LOVE to entertain this time of year!



Keeping with the outdoor theme ....

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These are my simple and sweet invites
{yes, they can be redeemed Friday night :) }

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I thought it would be fun to "treat" the girls to something fun rather than just a random email inviting them over for the evening.

Hey, kids can't have all the fun of the season.

These brought a smile to their faces.

Last year for Halloween I made up s'more bags using the ghost Peeps.
My students and neighborhood childrened loved them.
{so darn cute!}

Yep, I'll be making those again this year as they were a huge hit!



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Since it's not quite Halloween, I tried to go with just a pumpkin theme and use orange and brown {it looks black in the photos} ribbons.
I used what I already had on hand.


The actual invitation is somewhat hidden in the photo since I didn't want my personal information shown for all to see. I used a pumpkin die cut {orange with white polka dots} and printed the time and date in brown ink.

Fun and festive!


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For safety purposes {ha,ha} I tested these out ;)
yummy!



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Autumn Eve

Thursday, September 22, 2011 | | 20 comments


Let's start the new season off with a hearty {and yummy} breakfast. I'm not sure if this is more breakfast or more dessert. Either way, it's delicious! 

You can thank me later :)

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Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal


~Hearty


~Yummy


and semi ~ healthy!


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1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup syrup {don't use the good stuff}
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried blueberries {or any dried fruit of choice}
3/4 cup diced apple
1 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 large egg

Combine all ingredients and stir well. Let this rest for at least 20 minutes. This allows them to combine and moisten. Divide into four greased small bowls. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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* I make a double batch for the work week and just reheat it in the morning. It's a great way to start the day and smells wonderful! :)

Enjoy!

* I don't remember where I found the original recipe. I've adjusted the recipe to please our tastes. This recipe is very forgiving and welcomes new ideas.


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Back from the DARK

Sunday, September 4, 2011 | | 22 comments
It has been a l o n g 7 and a half days (whose counting!) of living on the Prairie, but we are back and enjoying ELECTRICITY!

Let me just tell you that flushing a toilet has become a luxury and once power was restored, it was the most beautiful sound I've ever heard. I will never take this for granted again. Most of us not living in the "city" have wells. Once the power goes ... so do they! Ugh, double ugh!!!

I have much to share, but will have to wait a day or two until we are back to normal. Thankfully our home is fine but we lost several large branches and our yard is a sea of leaves, small branches and debris.

However, I didn't want to wait to thank those that have emailed me, called or text over the past several days. Sadly, we lost a lot of tower strength and my communication was very limited.

With giddy delight, I introduce my new besties ... the power guys! They are from all over the United States. They are gift giving gentlemen that are working 16 hour shifts far from their families. A big thank you for their hard work and their families for sharing them when our state needs them so desperately. We were told that without outside help, we wouldn't have power for 3~4 months. That should give you an idea of how hard Connecticut was hit by Irene.

When they arrived in our sub division I wanted to kiss them! In fact, I think my husband wanted to kiss them. Actually, there was booth set up and a very long line to show such gratitude! This little *adventure* took its tole on us and taught me a few lessons. I'll share those next.

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Have a wonderful holiday weekend!
Enjoy those around you ~ that's what's most important.


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Prepping for Irene ...

Saturday, August 27, 2011 | | 20 comments


Last night we went out to our favorite little spot on the water. The boat yard next door was hopping! In prepping for the storm the marinas around here have been pulling boats from their slips. The highways have been filled the past couple of days with trailers bringing boats of all sizes and varieties to safer grounds.

*I took these photos with my point and shoot so they aren't the greatest.

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It's somewhat hard to see, but the lift {the Dodson Boat Yard} was hard at work the entire time we were there.
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On a *normal* summer evening this marina is packed with boats. Often there are parties peppered along the pier on the boats. It has such a fun and festive feel. Not last night, it had almost an eerie and lonely feel.

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These boats have been *parked* in the parking lot as space and time is very limited.
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A maze of boats.

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When we arrived you couldn't even see the front of the restaurant through all the boats. Talk about using every available space!
{I took this when we were leaving so it was dark}

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While I was running errands yesterday I watched several of the submarines head out for safety. They are much safer underwater than rocking against a pier.

I've had contact with my son this morning. All is well for now in his area of NC. Thanks Corey for the update last night. I really appreciate it!

We are clearing off our patio this morning and securing a few other odds and ends as we await the storms arrival.



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Summer has flown by ...

Friday, August 26, 2011 | | 13 comments
 I can't believe that summer is coming to end in a few short days.
School starts next week. They have delayed our start due to the hurricane that will soon be arriving.
I feel like I've been going non stop for weeks but have little to show for it when I look back on the days. Do you ever feel like this?

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Many fun days have been spent at the beach club. It's always a great day when you're with friends, sunshine and a good book! I'm going to miss the sand between my toes.

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A good friend and I treated ourselves to a relaxing day at the Ocean House in Watch Hill. After a day of pampering and lunching I was ready for a nap on the beach ;)

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Our summer routine always includes Farmer's markets. There is just something about filling my basket with fresh goodies, and preparing them for my family. It just makes my heart happy!

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Despite a nasty storm that was brewing, we enjoyed a great concert at Jonathan Edwards Winery with our very good friends. Ben Taylor {James Taylor and Carly Simon's son} and guest, Arnold McCuller, filled the vineyard with their amazing voices! As an added bonus, the concert also benefited Chikumbuso. I have one of their amazing bags that I use to tote my beach items.

I made my yummy roasted antipasto platter ~ filled with fresh veggies, cheeses, tapenade, and freshly baked bread. So good! We have several courses of great food and wine as the night wore on. Extra time was spent on the treadmill the very next morning.


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I've been working on a few dresses. No, there will not be a design collection with my name on it anytime soon, but I do have a few cute dresses to wear around my home {with the shades drawn} :) My "skills" in the sewing department are limited! Ha.

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Lastly, but most importantly, we celebrated a special anniversary last week. Kevin and I don't normally exchange gifts but rather go out to a nice meal together. However, since this was a milestone, we bent the rules. He *really* surprised me with a ring for my right hand. I wasn't expecting him to put such thought into that little box. I guess he does listen when I ramble on and on and on endlessly ~ on a regular basis :)

Today I am spending the day worrying about my son. He is in North Carolina attending school{as many of you know.} This mama wants to go down there, scoop him up, and keep him safe and sound until the storm is over. Nicholas has assured me numerous times that he has a plan and will be just fine. Probably, but once a mama ~ always a mama! We too are expecting Irenes powerful arrival. The stores have been packed! Many are out of generators, flashlights and bottled water.  I planned ahead so we are all set ~ good thing we visited wine country earlier this summer! ;)

To all of my friends on the East coast, you're in my thoughts and I'm praying for your safety!




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