Saturday, April 5, 2014

It Really is all Fun and Games

This weekend was our last long trip, venture out picking trip before our Spring sales. Our new merchandise was all in except for a few stragglers and our projects that we wanted to finish up before the sale were spread out...all over the barn. We felt that we needed some more cool items to interject some pizzaz into where there were holes. So where did we go??? We headed to some of our favorite haunts in Virginia and Maryland. I am sure that most of you think this is all fun and games. Well let me tell you, we give "fun and games" a whole different meaning. 

We learned the hard way on our first trip down here, that the open trailer that I usually use to haul stuff in would not cut it. To maximize the drive down here, we planned on making it a two day trip. After excitedly packing up the trailer the first day, we drove into the hotel parking lot and realized that aside from sleeping in the Suburban pulling the trailer or in the open trailer itself, how we were we to keep the fabulous finds stationary in the trailer while we were sleeping in the warm beds in the hotel? Have you ever seen the looks you get from the hotel front desk clerks when you ask if you could please have a room that overlooked the parking lot out back...near the garbage area? After a fitfull night spent mostly dozing off at the window looking down upon the parking lot, (I mean really, what were we going to do, should someone walk up to the trailer and start to unload the goodies we just bought? Bang on the window and make faces and point fingers at them as we silently mouthed epitaphs at them? I bet that would have really scared them off!) Anyway we pulled blearily out of the parking lot at the crack of dawn with everything still intact in the trailer. Whew...but that experience from then on caused us to rethink things and fork over the $100 to rent a U Haul once down there and drop if off once back near home. Worked swimmingly well the first time we did it. This trip brought the fun and games.

The whole trip started off on a different footing when I called the U Haul place we received confirmation from to make sure we could pick up the trailer early on Saturday morning. From the other end of the receiver I heard the question, "You have a man with you?" after I verified the information. I wasn't sure I heard the gentleman who was speaking in a delightful southern drawl so I asked him, "Pardon?"  Upon his repetition  of his question, I understood it and replied, "Why no, I will not have a man with me, but I have driven these before." He said," No, I ain't worried about a lady driving it but I'll need some help lifting it onto your hitch." I assured him that I was quite strong and had helped the last gentleman lift the trailer on with my able bodied partner in crime. By the end of the conversation he was calling me honey and all was I thought. What he did not tell me and what we vaguely remembered reading in the fine print was that if the trailer you book online is not available at the location you chose online, they reserve it for you at the nearest location to your so thought reserved location. Hold onto that thought because it will come into play later.

We headed out somewhat bright and early the next day after being delayed by a few odds and ends like packing the bungee chords, the blankets, finding both the hitch and the electrical hook up for the lights etc. All things I should have done the night before but I had a little run in with a 24 hour bug of some sort the night and day before and had been feeling a little foggy so...I had put it off until the morning of.
After we solved most of the world's problems and our own... (there is nothing like a 3 plus hour car ride with a great friend) we pulled into the field of our first outing. We had decided to get the trailer after we found out if we were going to strike it big on our first stop. The best stuff always goes first and what was a 2 mile drive to get the trailer? 

Some of our goodies
We hit it big time and after gathering up our loot from the buildings we visited we decide that we do not need the trailer just yet, for my husband had left the roof rack on from our Canada trip! We had more than enough room! With the help of two burly young men, we load the goods and then move to the tents where we have a beautiful trunk to pick up. One thing I really pride myself on is packing a car or a tailer. I goofed on this one as well as my partner and I soon realize, that the beautiful trunk will not fit into the car unless we unpack it and do it again or we go get the trailer. My trusty techy partner loads the address into her phone to get the directions to get the trailer and comes up with a location that is TWENTY miles away...not TWO. We pull out the confirmation that was emailed to us to double check and lo and behold, the location 2 miles away did not have the size we had reserved so they reserved one for us at the nearest location....TWENTY miles away, that was the closest??? I am NOT driving TWENTY miles to get that U Haul and then TWENTY back to pick up a trunk and two piddly...but beautifully piddly chairs! Out the window flies the money we had given to the boys as a tip and we decide to repack.

We use the best methods in town to eye ball weather or not more things will fit up top.

We unpack repack, unpack and repack again utilizing the large pieces that we had bought like pieces in a puzzle and get it all in with the help finally, of I think. a rather dumbstruck man who watched the whole procedure. Boy did we impress him!! I am sure he was muttering,  "dumb broads," as we left him in the dust

To the field we go to load up the two adorable small chairs that we had purchased earlier in the day, along with of course, some books. We take a few things out that we thought we could reconfigure to fit the chairs and finally I have to make the decision, do I leave my partner Chris behind? or the chairs? After deciding that both are quite valuable, we find a place for Chris in the back seat and the chairs in the front.

We put the address in into the GPS to realize that it has taken us entirely to long to repack the car 15 times and now we have to haul it the TWENTY miles to the U-haul, (they weren't kidding when they named that)... place to get there before it closes at 4:00. Anticipated arrival time is 4:03. We call to let the kind gentleman know that the ladies will be arriving a bit tardy to pick up their U Haul so please do not close the doors on us. We are sweating profusely and at this point in the day our enthusiasm for the days adventure is wearing thin. He says, "Okay," which could mean many things and as we pull into the parking lot of what looks like an abandoned building. A little door opens with a smallish U Haul sign on the front and there stands a large-ish man. Chris unfolds herself from the back of the car after taking the heavy metal wash tub off of her head and the large-ish man grins, which breaks the ice. After filling out the paperwork, crossing an empty lot whilst talking to the man who happens to be wearing a Steelers shirt, and backing the Suburban up to the trailer, he picks up the trailer all by his lonesome and hitches it up for us. Being a southern gentleman, he even offers us to follow him out so he can guide us to the best way to the highway pulling the trailer in the heavy winds...did I forget to mention it was a SUPER windy day?

We high five our way out onto the highway as we narrowly averted a situation that would have resulted in a huge waste of gas, a hefty penalty for not picking up the trailer on the allotted day and a scramble to find another hotel near the U Haul place which by the looks of things, would have been quite difficult. 

On the road again, I just can't wait to get on the road again...
We only have an hour left until we reach our next destination.
While traveling at a brisk speed, sounds come from the top of the car. Top of the of the car, I repeat in my head. The roof rack!!!
I quickly pull over on the highway to look up and see the roof rack OPEN. As I climb up, on the side of the traffic mind you, I realize that I had left the key in the rack with it not locked all the way. It was such a struggle to get it locked the first time and then get the key out that I had left the key in after we had repacked numerous times in case we had to shove something else up there. What I then remembered as well, (My timing for remembering things at times can be quite poor) was that the lock on the other side was broken and we were NEVER to unlock it that way. I heard my husband's words over and over again as well as my own thoughts on how was I to explain to him that I did not try and open it that way...the wind  did that upon the flapping open of the other side. I could also hear him say, "Why don't you like to play golf or tennis?"

We both dangle out of the doors in the car trying to angle ourselves to get up on the roof high enough without actually climbing on top of the car. As we are doing so, we see flashing lights come up behind us and realize that we have been spotted by Florence Nightingale of the highway and she has put her big arrow behind us as we struggle with the roof rack. We impress her by pulling out our handy dandy ratchet ties as we try to tie down the roof rack after getting it partially closed.

We had lost nothing which was truly a Godsend for Chris had put her overnight bag up there which had our only change of clothes for the next day. Mine held an extra pair of boots for we had been warned the fields were muddy but after checking on one of my sons upstairs in the am and being drawn into a lengthy conversation, which IF I can remember correcly involved zit creams, all thoughts of adding clothes to the bag rushed out of my head.  (Why can I remember the conversation about the zit cream and not that the key is still in the lock?) We assure her that we will pull off of the closest exit and fix things properly at a safer site. She follows us the exit, we get off, she passes us by and we get back on behind her. How the heck are the two of us going to get the entire roof rack off of the car and into the U Haul?  It takes my husband and at least two of our sons to get it on! We are fine...we limp along at 40 mph, tick off a few people behind us and pull into the hotel parking lot to find the closest restaurant and some beverages. A girl has got to eat. 

We check in and up to our room we do go to wash the grime off of our hands from the days forays. As we unlock our door, we notice Room 305 and a picture of a truck with the words, "Buy- 1 Get - 1 Free- Fireworks on the door. How apropos??

More to follow on Day for some sleep!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ode to the Written Word

"An Ode to the Written Word,"
that is our theme for the upcoming Spring Sales and Events. What does that mean, you ask? and how does that theme lend itself to Spring merchandise and creations for sale in a barn? I will let you in on that in a minute but right now I would like to share a little secret. Before I do that, I would love to thank you for reading me! It feels so good to air these missives that I share with you! Okay, here is the secret... I have an absolute love of books, one that causes my business partner and friend to groan every time I come back from a hunting and gathering trip with my arms full of books.

Not just any books, but OLD books, torn pages, filled with language that speaks of a long ago era, dog eared, browned and brittle pages, some with covers falling off and some missing all together. What is it at the root of this obsession?

 I think it goes back to when I was in Second Grade living in Bartlett, Illinois and it took hold from there. We lived in a small town where a train ran through the middle of town. There I walked to school with my sister who was a year younger, and then back home for lunch and then back to school again and then back home at the end of the day. Each way was almost a mile and yes, I did wear shoes. It was pretty much a Mayberry kind of town and when it was deemed that we were responsible enough, we were allowed to ride our bikes across the train tracks to get to the town Library... solo.  In the summers, we enrolled in the Library reading contest and I can still feel the excitement that I felt loading up my bike basket with the days selections. I furiously pedaled home to both beat my sister and to dive into my newest acquisitions. The occasional trip to Humbrachts, the penny candy store (yes, I said penny and I am under fifty) where we would save up, sit at the counter and order an honest to goodness ice cream soda, might have helped to boost my memories of the library trip. Sounds very much like how we raise our kids right now, right??? 

My dad was transferred a lot when we were growing up, so Mayberry only lasted for three years but I think that experience coupled with the bookplates that my grandmother and great grandmother gave us to proclaim a book that was our very own, started an obsession with books that has grown along with the wrinkles on my face.

We moved to Pennsylvania after that, when I was in Sixth Grade and after living in another neighborhood house, my parents soon found an old run down farmhouse with some land to put their roots down in and fulfill a dream. With a ton of elbow grease they proceeded to turn it into what we all  called Home... MacLeod's Pond and it is where they still reside. (I have referred to that place in a couple of my earlier blogs) There was some adjusting to do since we had always lived in neighborhoods and here there wasn't anything that resembled that for a couple of miles. No Humbrachts, no train tracks, no library, no grocery store within twenty minutes. What is a girl to do? Why of course, make a library of her own, again with her sister, in a little shed on the property.

We collected all of the books we owned and added some from our little brother and mom and dad. We proudly adhered our little book plates to any that weren't already adorned, glued in a library pocket, filled out an index card and viola! We were open. Open to whom? Well, we were lucky enough to meet a family down the road a way, upon chasing the horses who had gotten loose, one summer's day. Low and behold, they had two girls our age who were as lame and bored as we were (think pre internet days) and all of a sudden we had elevated the status of our "library" to a Clubhouse. I think we all had read too many Trixie Beldon books!  The clubhouse prospered for going on two years until High School hit and then it slowly fell into disuse. I would occasionally retreat to it to get away from some  of the self induced "stress" of the High School experience. With the cracking open of a book, all the memories of simpler and problem free days would flood back in like the light that filtered through the dirty windows, to light up the pages.

The story then becomes very much like that of many other women my age. I went to college, got married, started my own family and left the club house behind. I did not leave my love of books behind, nor the love for the old that my years growing up in an old farmhouse fostered. What do you think I did with that family of my own that was quickly growing? Why sign up for the Summer reading programs at the Library of course! We were frequents at the Exton Library and then the Hankin, from the time they could toddle until a few years ago when their busy Middle School and High School schedules made it impossible. Barnes and Noble became our mainstay and you can still catch us there at least once a week. (Just like the penny candy experience helped boost our library trips, I think Starbucks might have the same effect.)

I hope to no end that book stores are still around when my kids have kids! I know that they are slowly becoming obsolete as the world of the Nooks, E-readers, Kindles etc take over.  Surely, there has to be enough "bookies" out there who love the feel of a book in ones hand, the smell of a book and the calming effect that walking into a book store induces? These REAL, hard bound books not only tell their own story but they can give you a peek into the life of their present or past owner.  Have you ever looked through your grandmother's cookbook with notes in her handwriting in the margins?  The perfectly formed letters (another art form that seems to be waning) reminding her of changes she made and wanted to record to make the recipe better. Better yet is a cookbook in her own handwriting. Can't you feel her presence as you page through the book? I don't think one would get the same feeling reading the same recipe on a Nook.

I know, I know, I know...progress and technology. Most of it is great, but there are some things that I feel we are loosing for the sake of ease and convenience. What if the architects and builders of the past totally eradicated the building styles of yesterday for progress? Certainly some did and new styles were born but, did you ever notice though that most buildings of today and years before are firmly entrenched in the styles of the past?

My house is full of books and we will continue to add to the collections, both old and new.

I even have a room an honest to goodness room we call the "Library" where you can go and read a book, or do homework or play music. Kind of like a Family Room but with no TV.

I bought this bookshelf years when the kids were little to house all of their books and I changed it seasonally. This year I pulled out their favorite Christmas books and put them in their room so they could read them and a flood of their own memories would come back...just by reading a book. This shelf does not get the usage it once did so sometimes we have to "create" opportunities to help them feel that it is okay to have those connections of emotion to when they were younger.

 It will be a long time before you see me use a technological book. There are some things that I still need to feel, connect to and hold onto. Old fuddy duudy you may call me. I like to think of me as a woman who relishes in the personalization and kinesthetic power of an object when our lives are becoming so impersonal.

In closing...whew!!! I would like to thank you for hanging in there and learning all about why I entitled this upcoming Spring Sale, An Ode to the Written Word. When I am passionate about something you will hear it from I am sure you have figured out by now if you follow this blog. We are over the moon to have Kelly Corrigan here to kick off this theme with her appearance in April where she will read from her BOOK Glitter and Glue. I was hoping to get her her to the barn this Spring and as fate would have it...she will be. We have lots of cool literary inspired items that are coming in, even as I am writing this which I cannot wait to show you. 

Scottish Author Thomas Carlyle proclaimed in the nineteenth century the abiding value of the written word: "In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time, the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream."

In written word~

Saturday, March 22, 2014

What I Learned This Winter

I am sure that for most of you who live in areas that had an unusually cold and snowy winter, that the passing of March 20th meant a little more than it usually does. Being the first day of Spring, all of our minds breathed a sigh of relief for surely warm weather and a brighter color palette would be ours in the not too distant future?

Since I do not think that anyone wants to truly remember the Winter of 2014, I thought I would look at things a in a different light and recap some of the things that I learned to do this Winter. These things would never have come to fruition should this winter not have been what it was. ( I provided pictures for some of these grand accomplishments. For others, I thought you would be better served by creating your own visuals)

1) Learned to walk on large swatches of ice without falling on my keister but without maintaining any sense of grace.

2) Learned how to effectively use a combination of kitty litter, straw and brute strength to dig a wide variety of cars out of our driveway.

3) Learned how to dodge both fallen tree branches and pot holes, sometimes simultaneously.

4) Learned how to drive on snow packed roads which frankly were a lot easier to maneuver on than ice covered surfaces.

5) Learned how to start a generator. (Sorry no visual...quite difficult to do whilst taking a photo)

6) Learned how to warm oneself up in our very old and cold drafty house by utilizing the heated floor in our bathroom as a way of warming one's body thoroughly clothed, usually with a coat on. (Again no visual for I do have some pride!)

7) Learned to be very thankful to the ones who paved the way to institute a Spring Break into the school calendar. After this winter, one truly realizes that to take a break after the long drawn out cold winter is truly nirvana...IF one goes to a warmer place than one already lives in.


SPRING Break in Canada is quite an oxymoron. I don't think that they have gotten the memo that the first day of the Spring Equinox has passed. Does this look like Spring skiing???

Low of -8 tomorrow.
Lesson learned...might want to examine heading any further North next year for Spring Break!

If you are traveling for your Spring Break~ may your travels be safe and may a WARM wind be at your back.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Glue That Holds the Glitter and Musings on Kelly Corrigan

Here I am, almost exactly a year to the exact date that I wrote my post Just Breathe while away for the first time ever with my then almost twenty year old college daughter. Hitting the "Publish" button on that one was tough, for sharing my not so perfect life and my emotional state to both friends and strangers alike was a difficult thing to do. I have been thinking about how to follow up on Just Breathe, since arriving in Mexico yet again with my now almost twenty one year old daughter. I was thrilled beyond belief that she has no other friends to go away with (Ha!), my husband agreed to hold down the fort again and her brothers did not respond with a jealous rant when I announced that we were going. I think my comment of, "When you are in college and you ask me to go away with you on your Spring Break..." nipped that one in the bud.

I slept for an hour the night before we departed early in the am while the house was still asleep. We boarded the plane and I took out my copy by Kelly Corrigan of Glitter and Glue that I had purchased at Barnes and Noble before we left. I was so psyched to read it for it had just been released a month prior, I love Kelly's work and through a circuitous route, she was coming in April to do a reading in our barn from the aforementioned book!!! The timing was perfect, no one could reach me while flying, there would be no interruptions and there was little else that I could find to do on the plane but read...and sleep. Darn, even before take off, my head bobbed and before I knew it, I woke up with it resting on the passenger's shoulder next to me (good thing it was my daughter and I wasn't drooling) and the book had fallen to the floor. No worries, I still had twenty or so minutes before landing and a couple of days in front of me to devour it. I began and fifteen minutes later I was, yet again, trying to discreetly mask the tears I was shedding. Didn't I learn my lesson the last time I read her prior book The Middle Place on a plane sandwiched in between unknown passengers? "Idiot," I muttered to myself as I frantically searched for a tissue or anything that resembled one. The only replacement that I came across was my pair of sunglasses. I hesitated a moment and then shoved them back in my purse along with the book for I was about to totally embarrass my daughter and myself if I read any further. Her books hit so damn close to home! 

A couple of hours later we settle onto the beach. Unlike last year, the weather is delightful and we are tickled pink to be lying on a white sand beach, under a papalusa, Margarita in hand (my favorite drink). I dive into the book again, with sunglasses on, and shortly thereafter I am muttering "idiot" to myself one again...never did stash a tissue in my beach bag. I continue to read anyway and covertly use the edge of my beach towel to wipe at the tears that escape the rim of my sunglasses. For those of you who have not read the book or are not familiar with the subject matter, Kelly, in her writing, explores her relationship with her mother, her own daughters, families and our tenuous hold on this life. She achieves this by revealing a life changing experience as a post college graduate who takes employment as a nanny for a young family who recently lost their mother. In their house, she is suddenly transformed from a young woman on a mission to live life so very differently from that of her mother to reliving the words of her mother again and again as she progresses through each day "mothering" the family that she has found herself bound to. (I don't want to be a book spoiler so I am trying to give as little detail as possible while getting the concept across.) The book is moving and if you have a mother or are a mother...even more so.

My deep thoughts are interrupted as my cell phone goes off with that little whistle that tells me I have an e-mail. We had been figuring out and trying to get service since we had landed but up until now, we were not achieving much success. Bingo, my email is working and I quickly scour the ones that have flooded in. 

There is one from my youngest son's Science teacher, concerning his Science Fair topic of choice. Something about not enough quantitative information can be ascertained. He will have to change his topic.

There is a cc'd one from my husband to one of our middle son's school stating why he will be absent today then one from his friend's mom apologizing for her son, who had slept over this weekend for he had the flu.

Then there was a text from my husband who had been complaining about a nagging sore throat and headache for a few days that he thinks HE has an all out case of the flu.

Another text comes through from my oldest son asking if the chickens could be fed the veggie scraps on the counter or were they for the goats?

Guilt fills me up, overflows and dampens the feel of the hot sun on my back. How could I be away on a beach and shirk all of my responsibilities? What was Cameron going to do tonight as he tried to explore another Science Fair topic when it had taken him two weeks to get to one that he was really into and excited about? Who was going to check in on and make the sick son feel better? Those of you who have husbands...we know what they are like when they are sick. No offense...but I bet you he is in bed. 

I waffle back and forth like that, through out the rest of the afternoon...I wish we were all here together...No, then I would never be able to sit still like this and read a book. But really, they would love it. But no, their energy level is that of ten boys their age, Kelsey and I would never be able to carry on a conversation. It goes on and on and on. I then think about a line that I wrote in my blog post a year back when I did this for the first time and went away with only one of my children and I said something like how was it going to all work out with me being the glue that holds everything together??? The glue that holds everything together...Glitter and the Glue...the title of Kelly's book came from an expression that her mom coined, "Your father's the glitter but I'm the glue."How very true and obviously an opinion shared by I am sure, more than two women out there! I then remember a quote from the book that Kelly had highlighted on her Face book page and I searched through the book to find it. There it is, page 213. "I fret over things long after Edward (her husband) clicks off his reading light and goes to sleep - croup, melanoma, insecurity, precocious puberty. Raising people is not some lark. It's serious work with serious repercussions. It's air traffic control. You can't step out for a minute, you can barely pause to scratch your ankle." I had stepped out and what was I going to do now? What were they going to do?

Well, honestly there was not much I could do from afar. So I sent texts and directives and pictures of the sites and sounds that I knew they would have enjoyed or ones that made me think of them. 

The life size chess board to Shane who has been known to play a mean game and has on more than one occasion watched the World Cup of chess matches...I won't go into that right now.

The cool modern fountain at the hotel to Aidan who likes to take very artsy photos. I just got to check out his Instagram compliments of his sister and was very impressed.

The coconut tree full of coconuts to Christopher for he impressed an entire poolside crowd once by climbing up a tree to pick a coconut by using only his arms and legs. He totally looked like Tarzan.

To Cameron, the only picture that turned out half way decent of the fish that kept swimming by us in the crystal clear water out of the fifty that we tried to take, for he is an animal lover.

I even videotaped footage of the beat boxer that we caught performing as we walked by the entertainment area for I knew that the boys would love it. Totally not air - able.

Sometimes, we as mothers, have to just sit back and let some one else take the reins. Not for a very long time but just to get some air to breathe in. I think that our greatest fear as a mother ( aside from feeling that sometimes our self induced inadequacies will mess up our kids) is that we might stop breathing some day and who would take those reins indefinitely? Who could possibly know what we know about our children and who could ever take our place...and would our children really in truly feel our loss? I shivered as I read from the book the following, "What is it about a living mother that makes her so hard to see, to feel, to want, to love, to like? What a colossal waste that we can only fully appreciate certain riches - clean clothes, hot showers, good health, mothers ---- in their absence." Thank you Kelly for putting those feelings to words and for being my accompaniment on my vacation with my daughter.

My daughter and I go back home in a little more than twenty four hours from now. What am I going to do about the remainder of my brief absence? I am going to continue to have long, long talks with my daughter about everything under the sun. After all, we only get to play this role once in our lives and I am pretty darn sure that how I play it will affect how she does as well. As for my boys, I will have long long talks with them when they go away with me on their Spring my for right now, I will let someone else hold the reins, even if from a bed, and I will pick them back up when I get home soon enough to a house full of overjoyed enthusiasm to see me...again in my dreams.

Happy reading~

If you want to see Kelly Corrigan read from the book  that I hope I gave justice too, in the barn at Life's Patina, look for more information and registration links coming soon on our website and other social media pages. The event is April 16th from 12-2 pm with shopping in the barn before and afterwards. A portion of all proceeds will go to the Family Lives On Foundation which I will fill you in on in a later Blog post.

Click here to register for Kelly Corrigan Book Reading - April 16th, 12 - 2 

Friday, February 28, 2014

New York New York~ Inspiration Abounds

I just spent a decadent day and a half in New York City and talk about refueling on inspiration...this is the place to do it!  One would think that with the focus of design that we do here at Life's Patina being mostly objects that reflect the past, how could that be so? How could a woman with a barn filled with old chippy rusty things that sits at the end of a  country like tree lined lane be inspired by New York City?  Aren't they to far removed to coincide? Isn't New York City a modern trendy city that is an urban oasis of all that is hip and at the cutting edge?  Fashion and design seems to start in Europe and then immigrate it's way across the ocean to reach New York city first. It is the mecca for the avant garde, the ultimate melting pot of  past designs and influences merging with the present to create an ever evolving style and atmosphere that is undeniably and uniquely... New York City.

Who could not be influenced and inspired by the sights, sounds and feelings that New York City invokes? From the blur of faces that pass you by as one hustles down the street, to the smell of roasting chestnuts on the street corner, to the hum of the city punctuated by the horns of the "impatient" New York taxi as they try to snake their way through the crowded streets, to the lights of neon signs boasting of the cities must see eateries and attractions, blinking "come inside."The "alive-ness" of the city is palpable and exciting.
The  feast for the eyes, is what inspires me the most, for I am a true visual.
The visuals here are much sharper and vivid than what I normally see and am attracted to but they make one feel alive. Their beauty reflects the talents of millions who have made their stamp on this city and continue to do so.
The colors of the facades of the buildings and the textures, the varying heights and building materials all  based on the time period by which they were constructed in. Blending in seamlessly with each other.

Inspiration is found everywhere!
From the the historical and beautifully elegant architecture of days gone by.

To the billboards of arousing and thought provoking live entertainment that make one wonder, how can there be so many talented passionate people that come together to entertain and bring people to their feet cheering wildly or crying secretly right alongside?

 The taping of a live show causes uncontrollable laughter brought on by the witty comedy created by a team of talented writers and one heck of a great comedian and presenter.

A jaunt through Grand Central Market makes one want to stop and take pictures of the beautifully arranged and plentiful varieties of food. Why does food not look like this where I live?

Design inspiration is everywhere.

A jaunt through a well designed retail store, makes one stop and take pictures (this particular one, might not be the norm for most people).

Anyone notice a trend to what "this one" is drawn to?
Blue glorious blue...

Coming full circle, if you need a good laugh, a good cry, a jolt of energy to your senses, a feast for the eyes, a dose of inspiration, pay a visit to  New York City. 
I think you will find what you are looking for!
If you make your visit with a group of great girl friends, your inspiration will overflow...for aren't we all inspired by an immersion in the lives of our friends and by each other? Come on, think back to your sleepover days. Weren't they the best? Thank you for inspiring me as sleep over friends!

With sincere wishes for you to fill up your inspirational cup~


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine Treats

As promised, here are some of my favorite Valentine treats to make. I have my tried and true favorites, but every year I try to add on another find and take one or two away. Since today was yet another snow day, I spent it making goodies and I found a delicious Low-Fat Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe, as attested by my 15 year old son who ate five of them.

Don't they look cute on these adorable cup cake stands that we will have at our spring Sale? We just unpacked these pastel mixing bowls and fell in love with them as well!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Chip Scones

These are my Go-To breakfast sweets
I make these several times a year and served with lemon curd, raspberry jam or just butter...they are delish! 

Add a cup of tea and it makes a perfect snack for a snow day!!

Square butter pretzels with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows or M & M's

Another Go-To recipe for any holiday...

as well as my tried and true Hot Chocolate Mix. Prettily packaged, homemade food items make great gifts. I love to use canning jars but found these adorable jars with a hole in the lid and a straw that can be used later for a drinking cup at TJ Maxx. What is your beverage of choice?

Brown paper lunch bags make wonderful packages as well. Use a hole punch and bakers twine to attach a heart doily and it looks so much prettier than a brown paper bag, doesn't it?

Of course you cannot forget the paper Valentine. 
these vintage styled Valentines from Punch Studios! You can often find them at Barnes and Noble.

This year, I found copies of Kelly Corrigan's We Will Transcend, as a special Valentine to friends who I will transcend with in this life. You can watch Kelly read Transcend, an essay about woman, their strength and friendships over the course of a lifetime...incredibly "on the mark," and moving.

I hope that you can find an idea or two to share with your Valentines!


2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4-1 1/3 cups whipping cream

2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2.Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in bowl.
3. Add the chocolate chips.
4. Stir in the cream with a fork until the dough holds together in a sticky mass. (You may need to add a tablespoon or two more of cream until dough holds together.)
5. Turn dough out on a lightly floured board. Knead the dough several times. (Do not handle too much or the scones get very hard.)
6. Pat dough into a 10" circle. Cut circle into 8 wedges (or use a round glass or cookie cutter to make shapes.)
7. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2" apart.
8. Brush scones with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
9. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.


1.Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Spread out Butter Snap Pretzels on cookie trays in rows. 
3. Top each pretzel with 3 chocolate chips (you can place a chocolate melt on each one instead of the chips but I have found that they do not stay on as well, once dry.) 
4. Place in the oven and let chocolate melt slightly, approx. 4-5 minutes. 
5. Take out of oven and top each one with an M & M. Let dry.

Yields about 19-20 cups of cocoa mix 

1 box ( 1 lb. 10 oz) nonfat dry milk (8 cups)
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 jars (8 oz each) of your favorite flavored nondairy creamer. (Past flavors have been Belgian chocolate toffee, gingerbread, peppermint, vanilla hazelnut... anything will do that you like.)
1 jar nondairy creamer (11 oz)
1 box chocolate milk mix (1 pound, more if you like it really chocolatey!)
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a very large pot, combine all ingredients; stir until well blended. Store in an airtight container. Package up with serving instructions

To serve: Stir 3 heaping tablespoons into 6 ounces hot water. Stir.


3 large bananas, mashed
1/2 unrefined sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup flour (whole wheat preferred)
1/2 cup rolled oats (instant is fine)
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 chocolate chips

1. Add sugar to mashed bananas and mix.
2. Add beaten egg and mix.
3. In a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients.
4. Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix well.
5. Mix in applesauce.
6. Add chocolate chips and stir.
7. Spoon into medium size muffin tins ( use paper liners so they do not stick) and fill 3/4 full.
8. Bake for 20-25 mins. at 350
9. Enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day!!