First blog post

This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

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Friends

I do not have a lot of close friends, but the ones I have are people I cherish. Friends change over the years just as your life evolves so do your friends. When you are young they are usually school friends or your relatives if they live close, then as you branch out into the big wide world your opportunities to make friends change. When I left college and went to work most of my friends were work friends as well. You go out after work for dinner or drinks, co-workers weddings etc. When you have a serious relationship your friends merge together; if you are lucky, or one of you loses yours. Children bring on a whole different set. You have a tendency to make friends with your child’s classmates parents through organizations, sports or volunteering. There are times when you realize if you had the choice again you might not choose these people as friends and they disappear from your life.

I have been in the same small town for mostly all of my married life. It is a great place to raise kids, great schools, great property values and good proximity to Boston and most of New England. I have never regretted our decision to settle here. Now that our children have grown, moved away (my daughter), and are involved in their own lives I realize that I have let friendship making go by the wayside. I realize we are at a different point in our lives now and the friends I make are ones I wish to, not because of our kids. I choose to be friends with people who share my interests, who might not be my age, but are my choice.

I had a next door neighbor whom I can call my friend, but moved away recently for 3 or 4 years as her husband is in the military. They did not sell their house but chose to rent it so I hope they will be back. I am hoping that we will keep in touch and will be able to continue to be friends when and if they return. I will tell you that it is tough walking by the house and not having here join me for a daily walk. The internet and cell phones will make it easier to stay in touch and I will make every effort to do so.

I have 2 other close friends, one from my childhood whom I still see and my college roommate who I rarely see, but keep in touch although sporadically. You don’t get to choose your family but you do get to choose your friends, so don’t lose touch or decide it is too much trouble to get to know someone that might turn out to be a great friend, confidante, or a real comfort. Quality is much better than quantity. Family is the little black dress and friends are the accessories that help pull it all together.

Friends make living everyday a whole lot of fun!

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Being a tourist

The term tourist sometimes gets a bad rap. Of course there are instances where it is deserved. I will admit to not being very well traveled but have vacationed in some very nice places and have always been acutely aware of not coming off as a tourist. This summer I have had no plans for a week long vacation to some exotic locale but I do have time off from work. My husband and I have taken day trips  and enjoyed it. We have become tourists in our own state/region. People come to New England all the time for vacation to museums, gardens, parks, the shore, things they don’t have where they live. So we decided to investigate those places ourselves. We went to Fruitlands Museum one of the homes of Louisa May Alcott, had a great tour(something I normally don’t like), walked some lovely quiet trails and a had a delicious lunch at their small cafe with a gorgeous view. Really a lovely day.

When you live in eastern Massachusetts, the western part of the state seems like such a long way to go, but on a recent VERY hot day we decided to go to Shelburne Falls  to see The Bridge of Flowers. Glorious! In 1929 a woman’s group took over this abandoned bridge and made it into a walking garden. I highly recommend this to any who are interested in gardening or seeing a small quirky town with beautiful scenery nice restaurants and wonderful galleries and artists cooperatives. We walked around, visited lovely stores and saw a natural rock formation by the falls called Natures potholes ( I think).20170721_124401 We had lunch in a small cafe near the garden and made our leisurely way home after a stop for ice cream at an antique store lunch counter. We wanted to buy one of their homemade pies but we would have had to reserve the day before. Oh well, ice cream was great.

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This past week we went to Warren, R.I. to have lunch. Blount’s Clam Shack is great! It is on the river, boats can pull right into a slip and grab lunch or dinner. We hadn’t had our fried clams (whole belly, of course) yet this summer and they serve great ones. They have covered tables or ones with umbrellas and a spectacular view. You stand in line to order at one food truck and they give you a little vibrating thing that tells you when it is ready for pick up and you get your drinks from the other truck. They really are permanent and the company sells soups and chowders from a large retail building on the road. Warren is doing over this small section down by the water and there are some great places already. My favorite fried clam is from Woodman’s in Essex, MA (they invented it in 1916), but Blounts is really a close second.

I have really had a lot of fun seeing my state and region through the eyes of a tourist and will continue to investigate more wonderful spots, but I will not wear a fanny pack or wear sock with my sandals!

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Birthdays-more than cake

Having recently celebrated a birthday, I looked back over the years and realized that my life has been a series of life decisions that have brought me to where I am today. I don’t know why I start this though process on my birthday but it seems to happen every year. There is a debate on nature vs nurture that will always be talked about but when you think about roads taken it is hard not to think about the what ifs.

What if:

  • my parents never divorced
  • If I graduated college
  • If I studied finance instead of retailing
  • If I had more or less children
  • If I settled in a different town

The list goes on and on. I know that all the major and seemingly minor things that have happened in my life have formed me, my personality, how I solve problems and my attitude on life in general. I am not laying blame on other people or circumstances because blame is useless. We all have free will and make choices that affect our lives. I am not saying that we all have the same opportunities in life or that we all just need to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and move on, what I am saying is that we need to own the decisions we make.

My birthday is a time of reflection for me. I love my husband, my children and my life in general. I would not have the things and people in my life if I had made different choices and that is fine. I have reached my ripe old age by making choices for me and not letting someone else make them for me, so I own my life. I have accepted myself, my quirks and will not apologize for the way I am and what I enjoy or is important to me. We all have times that might not be perfect and maybe beyond our control, but how we react to them is in our control and we should not give that control to others.

I am living everyday as honestly as I can. I made myself cupcakes for my birthday and yes I ate the majority of them, not going to apologize (they were good)! So on your birthday bake yourself some cupcakes enjoy them and congratulate yourself on your life and the good choices you have made and forget about the bad ones-learn from them.

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Vases

I did tell you that I was working on a vase project and they came out pretty well with only a few mishaps. I have 3 (had) clear glass containers that used to contain candles and I was using them for the occasional  vase but they were plain. Clear glass is great, but I was looking for a way to make a grouping of like objects (color) so I figured I would buy some spray paint and give it a whirl, I mean how bad could I screw up!?DSCN0336

Picking out a paint color and type was tricky and I really had to go to a craft store to find what I wanted. Michael’s had a good selection and I picked up some grey for doing over my bedside table lamps while there(another project I will share). I found a lovely soft green that was supposed to create a frosted effect.DSCN0341

I had a free day ahead of me and it wasn’t raining so I figured it was a nice quick project. I thoroughly washed the containers and dried them. As I was only painting the outside I didn’t have to worry about drying the inside. I have some tomato stakes that I shoved in the ground, placed the vases upside down and went with my first coat, I knew to get the real frosted effect I would need multiple coats, but I didn’t have to wait long in between.

Note: If you place a glass item on a pole and the pole isn’t in the ground far enough it will break when it meets even the soft grass. Notice now I only have 2 containers!

The containers are similar but not exact and that might just work out better as the first one will look great in my bedroom with all my make-up brushes in it. I do have some cheap glass candlesticks that I am going to give the same treatment to, so they will be part of the grouping and they are the correct scale to go with the vase.DSCN0340

Spray paint is a great tool for little changes and there are so many varieties around. I will say that the big box stores probably have them cheaper but craft stores have more specialized types, plus I used a coupon so pretty good deal. I still have plenty more, who knows what else will get the treatment!

So grab yourself something you thought you were going to throw out, imagine it with a different purpose, get some good spray paint and have fun! It is living everyday more beautifully.

 

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Tips from a New England Yankee

Let me get this straight I am not a NY Yankees fan, rather I was brought up by a woman in New England that lived through the Great Depression and knew how to “make-do”. I went to auctions, and used furniture stores and antique shops my whole life and can remember bemoaning the fact that none of our furniture matched. So I guess she was ahead of her time. I will say the carefully curated eclectic look is a tad different than the hodgepodge of furniture we had. The funny thing  is my mother came from a long line of artists and my father was a very talented interior designer/architect/artist, they clashed a bit in that respect. Furniture styles aside my mother knew that every item that she had in the house had or was going to have another life or purpose. Antiques are the original recycling although just because it is old and valuable doesn’t make it useful for all.

I recycle and watch the things I buy for longevity as well as multi uses. I know someone that wants to go without using single use plastic for a month which is great, but throwing away all you have and replacing it with non plastic items seems just plain wasteful. Use up, reuse and then recycle. I recently just recycled my last piece of plastic food containers but before they made it into the recycling bin I checked to see if I could use them elsewhere that did not involve food. I did find some uses in my office to hold things like push pins, paperclips etc. They were small enough and they can fit into a drawer so as not to be in view as they are not the best looking items. I mean these things were already made and I have swapped over to glass for my food storage needs so there were a multitude of different uses for them. A lot of things that are made to use in the bathroom are made of plastic and for safety reasons it makes sense, just make sure you can recycle the containers (recyclebank.com is a great resource).

Paper is easy to recycle so people don’t even think about using it for something else first. Someone gave me one of those page a day calendars and the backs of each day were blank, well they are a good size for notes, lists, short directions etc. My mother used to use the backs of envelopes for lists with coupons or dry cleaning tickets inside.

I have had quite a few people give me candles in clear glass holders or florist vases that were clear. I decided to make a grouping of those by painting them a single color. I will post those when I finish them. Don’t just assume that once the original use of an item is over that; that is the only viable choice.

I was taught that you waste nothing as children in China were starving! I am sure most of us have heard something along those lines. I never understood why we just couldn’t send those poor Chinese children my lima beans, too cruel perhaps? Hand me down clothes were a staple for me as I was the youngest, old socks were great for dusting or going over your shoes in a suitcase, old t-shirts were cut up for dusting rags. Everyone had a rag bag. My mother likes to tell the story of being invited to a bridal shower when she was new in the neighborhood and she put together a rag bag as she figured a newlywed would not have access to anything suitable. The old farmers wives thought this was great although the younger set thought she was just strange.

I always think twice before I throw anything away, practice asking yourself the following:

  1. Is the item totally used up?
  2. Can it be safely used for some other purpose?
  3. Would it be of use to someone else?
  4. Can it be recycled?

You spend hard earned money on these things so think before you buy, or throw away. My mother wasn’t cheap; as a matter of fact, she had a strange relationship with money. Some things she would splurge on and others not so much. I do know that she lived everyday with a style all her own.

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Sometimes you need a small victory

I have so many projects planned that at times I can become paralyzed. I am working on gardens, furniture, writing, organizing and the list goes on. I need a quick fix, something that can be accomplished without spending money or investing more than an hour but will help to enrich or make my life easier. So, with that in mind I chose a couple of different things to do that kept getting pushed to the bottom of the list of things to do because they didn’t seem important, while in essence they were probably the most important because they could be accomplished with very little effort and/or time and made an immediate impact. Now I will tell you that these don’t look like they belong on anyone’s Pinterest boards (although they will be on mine) because I am a realist. I have reached a stage in my life that while I appreciate beauty and clever ways to do things, my main concern is that I want it to function and look good also. Some people on Pinterest spend a lot of time and money and their projects look beautiful, great. I am looking to make my life easier and functional, this does not mean I don’t want it to be beautiful it just means that I believe function is beautiful and I like to use what I have on hand. I am sharing with you my projects when I can to show you that you can use what you have, make things work for you and help you to live everyday sensibly. I am not into spending a ton of money to organize or beautify my surroundings unless absolutely necessary. I have other things to spend my money on.

My first project was fixing a “brass”standing lamp that had seen better days for use in my living room. I had purchased( along time ago) a small lampshade to replace the old one that had become brittle and fell to pieces. I had a can of chocolate brown satin finish spray paint that would be just enough to cover it. Cleaned and degreased it was ready, so I took it outside put on one coat and set it to dry. A couple of hours later I put the last coat on basically finishing the can of paint and left it to dry. Before night fall I brought it into the basement to set and it was all ready the next day, new bulb, new shade and it is lighting up the corner nicely! In essence cost me nothing.

Herbs and spices have a shelf life: Dried herbs 1-3 years, ground spices 3 to 4 years and whole spices about 4 years. Ok, my herbs and spices needed to be culled! I had items that I bought for one recipe and never used again and items from my mothers herbs and spices(she wrote dates on the tops), now I will say here as a confession that my mother died in 2010 so to say that I had some of hers isn’t good.DSCN0319

It is a good idea to date them, although I don’t think she paid attention to them either.DSCN0325

These are from 1989 the year my son was born and he is 28 years old! I set about emptying the old ones, cleaning them out to recycle and then looked at others that I never use and cannot remember how long I have had them. I mean really do they even make Bac-Os anymore?DSCN0331DSCN0322

Some of the others didn’t even have enough in them to use properly. It was akin to the time when your husband puts the orange juice back in the fridge with only a swallow left and then doesn’t understand why you didn’t get a new carton while food shopping! These were useless but if I looked quickly it looks as if I had them so why replace them!

I had items that had formed a solid block, meaning the air had gotten to them and rendered the useless as well as tasteless. Now all of these items are expensive to replace all at once, although I will not even buy some of them as I won’t use them again, probably.

Summer is a good time to do this as I can get fresh herbs now in plant form or small bunches to use as needed and when the weather starts to cool I can decide whether or not to grow the plant indoors or purchase one at a time while needed. I may not have a beautiful, alphabetized spice cabinet, but it is behind closed doors and I know what is in there and it is functional. A small victory. I now can attack other larger projects with a renewed vigor because I have accomplished these nagging little projects.

So these little victories have helped me to realize that things don’t have to be perfect or even “Pinterest” perfect to help you enjoy living everyday.

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Joanna Gaines

I will say I love HGTV and Joanna Gaines, her style, family and show, Fixer Upper. I am in tune with her style and attitude, so I picked up her magazine a couple of times and now am beginning to wonder if she has become this generation’s Martha Stewart. She works hard has 4 adorable kids, a beautiful home, silly but talented, hardworking husband and pulls it all off without a hitch. Just because a style is simple doesn’t make it easy. She has a lot of help, there is always someone around to watch the kids when they have to work with clients. Waco, Texas has apparently much lower house prices and construction costs than the northeast or west coast so what they can do with their money does not compare to other parts of the country. Antiques and flea markets are a great tool for her but she has a warehouse to store stuff that she might be able to use in the future and people who can work those finds over if need be to make them viable for a project.

I am always a little leery of people who make things look easy. As I have said I like her designs and have seen her furniture lines in store and am impressed with it, but I worry for those just starting out that take it all at face value as we used to with Martha Stewart, and felt like we failed when we tried to duplicate things and couldn’t or it ended up costing way more than it was worth. Magnolia Journal is a lovely publication, filled with great articles and brings you a view of a lovely, natural family centered life filled with good food, friends and wide open spaces. She certainly has a design asthetic that is resonating with a lot of people and seems very down to earth.

I remember when Martha Stewart became really popular, we were all trying to pull off what she showed us was totally doable and worth it. The problem was that very few of these projects were cheap, easy, or worth it. People would set out to try to make something look like she had and most were disappointed. The price was never mentioned or the sheer time it took. We came to the conclusion that we were not Martha, but that was okay because we could buy her products and that was just as good! She was and is a marketing genius, even her jail time did not totally tarnish her. Joanna Gaines is a wonderful marketing mind also. I don’t put her in the category as Martha because I really believe that she has got a better handle on people and her fans in general. Even her magazine is a little more down to earth than most but I think it is still encouraging young men and women to try to duplicate all that she does with her businesses, life and family. Remember her staff, nanny/babysitters, husband etc. She would not be able to pull of all that she does without them and to be honest she never says she does.

I will continue to follow her, get inspiration maybe buy a product or two, but with age comes a little bit of wisdom. I try to realize my limitations as far as money, talent and time,  I was a young mother during the Martha Stewart years and I have no intention of starting down that road again. So I will say living everyday with inspiration is wonderful just remember from where it came.

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