Friday, May 24, 2013

have you visited A Stroll Thru Life yet?


In case you’ve never been introduced, Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life is one of the most gracious gals you could ever meet. She also happens to have a weekly series called Show Off and Inspire where she shares the homes of other bloggers and this week, she’s featured me over on her blog. And I’m so excited.

If you’d like to see photos from my home or if you’re interested in finding some inspiration for one of your decorating projects or tablescapes, you have to visit Marty. She’s so talented and she’s got loads of beautiful ideas over at A Stroll Thru Life.

Thank you Marty, I’m so happy to be hanging out with you and all your readers! Click HERE to join us.




endings and beginnings



Today was the last morning that Michael went to high school.

It’s finally over. Graduation is Saturday.

When the month of May 2013 passes, what I’ll remember most about these whirlwind days will be moments like this one. Times when I’m observing a tender ending or a “final, last time.”

Like Senior Ball. His final race. The end of the year Crew Banquet. Those are some of the bigger “last times” but this morning was a small and meaningful to me.

Each school day I am the first one out of bed. My routine is simple; I make a pot of coffee in front of this window and turn on Morning Joe so I can listen to the news while I make breakfast for Michael. I  refer to this quiet time as my “morning bliss.” While breakfast is cooking, I’m pulling food out of the fridge to make Michael’s lunch. During his rowing season I made two  large, healthy lunches because his workouts were so intense. This is how my mornings always began.

I was taking this photo early in the morning when Mr. Moss walked by.

“Well this is it, “ I announced to him. “All these years while the kids were in school, I had my  routine…. and now it’s coming to an end. It’s been my little version of morning bliss.”

“Morning bliss?” He laughed, “That’s not exactly how I remember it.” And I know in that second he’s referring to those chaotic parts of the morning; the ones that include my loud yells down the hallway.

“Michaeeeeeel… are you up yet?!”

Well duh. Of course it includes the craziness. The lost car keys. The school form that suddenly needs to be signed at the last minute. Michael walking out the door barefoot (“my shoes are in the car”) while I shove his lunch into his hands and ask him if he has enough gas. And me, sticking my head out the front door while I’m holding Stella’s collar, shouting “Don’t speed!”

Who ever said ‘bliss’ meant perfect?

The truth is, mothering is composed of millions of little moments that are woven together with tender acts of love and worry. We have daily routines that are honed by years of cozy repetition so in the end, each person—mom and child— really knows each other. Knows how to plough through stressful mornings and cranky moods and irascible questions. Like these.

“Ok, do you have everything?” I ask before he leaves.

“Mom, do you know you say that every morning?”

And in the next second he’s bending down so I can kiss his forehead before he bolts out the door


These are the sort of ordinary moments that make me pause these days. I want to relish it all. I want to take a mental snapshot in my mind of us at the kitchen island talking. Just being together on one of our mornings.

Because I’m fully aware that he’ll be leaving soon.

Is it my hormones? No. The truth is, I’ve always been this way. A feeler. A hopeless sentimental type. A griever of sorts.


The other night while we watched the Office finale from our traditional places on our lumpy, brown sectional, I listened to Michael and his Dad calculate how our family began watching The Office when he was only in sixth grade.

As the last show began, Michael jokingly said, “ Hey Mom, what are the odds of the final Office show happening during my last week of high school? Wow.. looks like my childhood is officially over.”

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And I just smiled back… with a lump in my throat.


The final race








(P.S. a note to all my dear blogger friends: yes, I’ve been away. I haven’t figured out a way to blog during these crazy days and I’ve missed you all. But I’ll be back to regular posting shortly. And most importantly, I look forward to catching up on your lives, reading and commenting on your posts... I hope you understand. )




Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

obsessed about weight (a post about secrets)



I recently watched the co-host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski, discuss her new book about her secret struggles with food and it made me think of Miss Elegant.

 I refer to her as Miss Elegant 

because she used to come to our sessions directly from her job at a stylish boutique wearing chic, size two outfits. She wore lots of big jewelry and tailored white shirts and she had impeccable taste.

But even now this woman’s story tugs at my heart.  Miss Elegant was a third generation eating disordered woman who grew up watching her mother leave the dinner table each night to “use the bathroom,”  which was code for throwing up.

Except no one dared talk about this secret in her family.


After all, her grandmother had been anorexic.

One day she asked me, “Leslie did you hear from my insurance company yet? They have to approve my treatment. They have to!”

When I told her I’d be advocating her case with a mental health reviewer the next day, she told me what I should emphasize. At five feet four inches she was worried that her current weight of 102 pounds might be mistaken for health.


“Can you please explain it? Tell them I’ve weighed 140 pounds and I’ve weighed 80 pounds, and nothing changes, not-inside-me! They have to know it’s not about my weight. It’s what’s going on in my head, can you please make sure they understand this, Leslie?”

After she said these words I remember pausing. It such a riveting moment of truth and I suddenly wished other women could hear this; even though Miss Elegant was still vomiting several times a day she realized there was no magical number on the scale anymore.

I share this story because this morning when I listened to Mika Brzezinski and Diane Smith discuss their latest book,  Obsessed: America's Food Addiction -- and My Own, I was reminded of how easy it is to become fixated on a certain dream weight. And how common it is to keep this obsession about weight a secret.

Like Mika.


Mika Brzezinski

I’ve been watching Mika’s news show for years now and her rants against junk food are legendary.  She talks openly about her physical work-outs and her dedication to running and jokingly complains about the eating habits of her co-hosts. But until this book, I didn’t realize she had a secret obsession with her weight and food. From the outside, she looks like the epitome of physical health.

Of course eating disorders are tough to spot from the outside. In fact, one frustration for women who are at a low weight, is how many compliments they receive from those around them. They can be vomiting like crazy, abusing laxatives, running ten miles as punishment for eating a piece of pizza (Mika’s example) and filled with shame,

but as long as they’re thin, they continue to get admiring comments.


Mika and her co-host Joe Scarbough

On the show Mika shared her struggle to maintain an unhealthy weight of 118 pounds (she’s 5 feet  6’½ inches ) but talked openly about all the compliments she got when she was “too skinny.”

Eventually her close friend Diane Smith confronted her on Labor Day weekend 2011.

Diane, who was 5 feet 8 inches  and weighed 250 pounds admitted to Mika that she never knew what to cook when Mika was a guest, calling her the “food police” and admitting how self conscious she felt about her own weight problem around her. Diane’s honesty led them both to an in-depth conversation that prompted Mika to share the truth.

“You really don’t know how much I struggle with food?” she asked her long time friend.

“You’re fat. I’m skinny. But we have the same problems.” Mika told her.

 And although initially it was hard for Diane to believe that someone who wore a size two could feel a similar torment over weight and food, it was this discussion that led to their collaboration on this book.


During the writing process Mika offered Diane the advance money of the book to finally get help and lose her weight. And to deal with the emotions that were being masked by the focus on food.

And at this time, Diane has lost 70 pounds and is still losing more with the help of a personal trainer and healthy eating. And Mika is now 132 pounds and a size six.



Mika and Diane in the studio

Together they’ve written a book that includes some of the latest science on sugar, salt and fat, and how these three substances promote an addiction to unhealthy foods. 

I’m definitely adding this to my book list.

can you relate to having a love-hate relationship with the bathroom scale?





I’m sharing this post with these friends:




Monday, May 6, 2013

10 simple things…


Hello my friends.

I stumbled on this wonderful article at Apartment Therapy and the minute I saw the first “simple thing” I had to share it with you. According to THIS article, our smallest habits in our home can have a powerful impact on our happiness. That’s because our homes are an extension of ourselves.

For example. Do you make your bed each morning? I don’t. But after reading this article I actually have a different perspective about my messy bed.

Here’s the ten things that might inspire you to make a few changes in your life.



1. Make your bed

Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling book "The Happiness Project", explains that making the bed was "the number ONE most impactful change that people brought up over and over" when she was researching her book on what inspires happiness. Isn’t this interesting? Evidently making our beds is considered a “keystone habit,” which is a habit that spills over to other productive habits. It starts your day off on the right foot and encourages you onward.

Three minutes. That’s all you need to devote to this task in order to lift your spirits.



2. Bring every room back to "ready."

Here’s another quick improvement to your mood. Because clutter is known to cause stress, the idea is to be your own best friend by creating a nice ‘welcome’ when you return home.This doesn’t mean you need to be a neat freak. Just take a few minutes before you leave the house to get your room to a state of “readiness.” Pick up. Put the shoes away. Wipe up the counters.

When you walk in the door it will be a mood changer. The author recommends this Seven Step Path to learn more.


3. Display sentimental items around your home

This seems like a no-brainer but when we surround ourselves with sentimental objects that remind us of good experiences we feel better. So be careful not to lump those special, little mementos into the clutter category.


Studies tell us that it’s our relationships that are the foundation of our happiness so when we decorate with meaningful objects we help create that warm, homey feeling. 

Does your home tell your story?


4. Start a one-line-a-day gratitude journal

People who keep gratitude journals are happier. This is what research tells us. Before bed, simply jot down one happy memory from that day. (If you have kids, you can ask them, "What was the best part of today?") Reflection is an important part of happiness, and pausing to reflect on a positive event from each day cultivates gratitude

The author recommends buying  Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, to guide you.



5. If you can't get out of it, get into it.

Cleaning dishes is a good example. Obviously, dishes can’t clean themselves so there’s no avoiding them.

But we have the power to transform our mundane housekeeping into something worthy of our time. Begin by being in the moment. Feel the soothing, warm water on your hands. Enjoy the tickle of the tiny bubbles. Turn on the music to make it fun. 

And try to practice gratitude.When you’re cleaning the dishes it’s a perfect time to be thankful you have a sink to stand at and dishes to wash. And the food that’s stuck on the plates? Well, it’s a wonderful thing to have food to satisfy our hunger, isn’t it?


6. Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day.

In The Art of Happiness, the Dali Lama recommends this daily practice. Choose your attitude each morning and make this a positive habit. It only takes a few moments to settle on an affirmation for our day.

What will it be?


If you can’t decide, use this one from the Dali Lama to get you started.


7. Do small favors for housemates, expect nothing in return

Mow the lawn for your husband, but don't expect him to pat you on the back. Make the bed for your wife, but don't try to get bonus points for it. Take the trash out for your roommate, just because. The ability to cultivate strong, healthy relationships is one of the biggest contributors to health and happiness, but when you start to keep score, the benefit is lost.

It's a well-known fact:

When you do good, you feel good.

8. Call at least one family member or friend a day

You can do this while you clean, while you make the bed, or while you walk the dog. Texts and emails do not count! Make an actual phone call to a loved one, just to chat and catch up. We humans are social beings and studies show that even when we don't feel like it, even if we are naturally introverted, socializing with our loved ones makes us feel better



9. Spend money on things that improve your experiences in your home

Save money for a new grill for parties or a new DVD for family movie night — something that will encourage you to have people over and entertain.

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Plan a summer barbeque, invite your closest friends, kick back and relax. (And don't forget to print out the pictures to remember the good times.)


10. Spend a few minutes each day connecting with something greater than yourself.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs may be, studies show that connecting to a higher power is correlated with happiness.  Before bed, spend just a few minutes contemplating something larger than yourself. Pray. Take a walk in nature. Write in a journal. Create a sacred space in your home. (Or if spirituality is really not your thing, create a home spa: light some candles, soak in a hot bath, delve into a good book… are you feeling better yet?)


Do you already do most of these 10 things?




via Apartment Therapy

I’m sharing this post with these friends:




Thursday, May 2, 2013

setting a beautiful Mother’s Day table

Mother’s Day is such a special occasion. If you visit here regularly, you know how much I love creating pretty tablescapes and flower arrangements. And although I have no idea what I’ll be doing yet, I thought I’d share some ideas that I’m loving right now for a Mother’s Day celebration.



Alright. Maybe you don’t have a charming old door to hang for this creative alfresco table setting. But wouldn’t this be a unique dining experience? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten off a door before.

But this indoor setting might be more practical.


Isn’t this a sweet idea for place cards?

At this table each guest has their name tag attached to measuring spoons. What a great idea for a mother who loves baking.


Mother’s Day is a perfect time to bring feminine touches to the table.

Book pages and music sheets make sweet place mats .



But I think personalizing the table by using sentimental items adds that special touch. Consider using a vintage style postcard that tells a story about the guest of honor. Add their name to make a unique place card.


Or use this idea; each guest has a place card with a photo of her own mother on it. It’s simply a piece of cardstock that also has a flower clipped to it. How easy and personal is that?


And if you like the sentimental idea of using photographs, click HERE …and you’ll learn how to make this beautiful table runner.


I like getting creative when it comes to the flower centerpieces. It doesn’t have to be anything grand or elaborate.

Mother’s Day is a chance to pull out all of your special thrift store finds for your table.


Personally I love seeing flowers inside old tarnished pieces of silver …


or placed inside pretty tea tins for a bit of charm.

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When planning a special table for someone,

I like to incorporate unique touches that say something about the guest of honor.


Like this crossword puzzle. Wouldn’t this be a cool addition to a brunch table setting?



I included this table because it’s a perfect example of how you don’t have to spend lots of money on flowers to make a statement. Look how lovely a few green plants can be when paired with classic linens. Do you see the plant inside the trifle bowl?

Using everyday items for your table adds personality and keeps the costs down.

And here’s something I want to do for my next brunch.

I want to set up this lovely help-yourself mimosa bar.


On this table bottles of pear nectar, cranberry juice and papaya juice (love those labels) are next to fresh fruit garnishes inside berry baskets…


right next to the bottles of champagne.

(those are raspberries, apple slices and papaya slices in the fruit baskets, how delicious)


When setting up your brunch table, use baskets that are lined with colorful linens to display your food. It’s easy and it looks so pretty. I collect my best baskets at thrift stores.



Use chalkboards to label dishes.



Even syrup look special when it’s served in small crystal decanters.



To complete this look, stack cake pedestals for height and order milk bottles and cheery, striped straws HERE.


And don’t forget these Bloody Mary shooters at your brunch.

Don’t they look yummy?


But before I go, here’s one last idea. While I think this centerpiece looks pretty enough, don’t you think it would be perfect if it spelled out MOTHER?

You can make your own handwritten mugs by using Sharpie paint pens. Or better yet, this is a perfect project for your kids.


I guess you can see by now that on Mother’s Day I prefer sentimental tables over formal ones. Actually, I love anything home-made, especially when it comes from my boys. Which reminds me, if only our husbands and kids could read this post!

Oh well, if you’re a mother and you liked a few of these ideas, pass them on to the people in your life! Really.


Because you deserve to feel special.

Wishing you a Mother’s Day filled with love,



I’m linking this post with some of these friends:





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