Sunday, June 30, 2013

my vintage Fourth of July place card and party favor


Are you hosting a Fourth of July celebration this year?

If you’re a regular to my blog you know how much I love giving you ideas for your tablescapes and today I’d thought I’d show you how to make my firecracker place card and party favor.

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I think it’s sweet..

It’s for those of you who want to add a vintage touch to your table. And it only costs a few dollars.

Here’s what I used:

  • paper towel rolls 
  • antique decoupage 
  • roll of blue crepe paper streamer 
  • a piece of red tissue paper
  • Martha Stewart labels for $2.99
  • taffy pieces and poppers 
  •   cellophane gift bags and stickers
  • hot glue gun & scissors


Once I cut the rolls to the desired length, I used a small brush and covered the entire roll with antique decoupage because I wanted a darker, vintage look for my place cards.


But the decoupage also acts as a glue for the crepe paper strips too.

If you already have your crepe paper pieces cut, you can quickly wrap the streamer around the decoupaged roll and it sticks. That’s your first layer.

I measured 3-4 pieces of crepe paper for each side

(to measure I simply wrapped the crepe paper streamer once around the roll and used this one size to cut the rest)



I applied hot glue dots to hold the remaining pieces. Adding one on top of the other.


Once finished, I hot glued a Martha Stewart label on each one and

decorated with a dollar’s worth of Fourth of July stickers I bought at Wal-mart


I made lots of little cuts to the crepe paper. Then with my fingers, I fluffed the ends.


I slipped a cellophane party favor bag into the roll and added taffy pieces and a few poppers.


I trimmed the bag and tied it. Then I put crumbled pieces of red tissue paper in each end.


Here’s a shot of the front and back of these place cards.


And here’s a glimpse of the table setting I created to give you more ideas for a casual dinner. I’ll be showing you photos of my entire tablescape in my next post.


In the meantime if you’re interested in seeing more ideas for your table you can check out my little chalkboard place cards HERE.


And here’s my DIY painter’s drop cloth I made with blue stripes. I think this would look festive for a fourth of July celebration too.

You can see how I made it HERE last summer.

This week we’ve got hot, muggy weather all week. By Tuesday it’s going to be 109 degrees and I’ve got my eye on my garden, making sure my pots don’t dry out. Just a little reminder during the heat waves… don’t forget your potted flowers may need extra water!



I’m partying at:



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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

the neurotic person’s guide to creating a bucket list

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Ok. I need to make a confession.

I’m not really one of those “bucket-list” kind of people. Personally, I wince at the idea of making more lists for myself, even ones that are intended to add fun and excitement to my life.



Honestly? I prefer to create my bucket list after-the-fact. Does this sound confusing? It’s really not, this is how it works.

I do something really cool. I add it to my list. And I immediately check it off.

And voila!



It’s instant success. Stress-free, no extra planning. And it feels so good.

(I call this my neurotic person’s guide to creating a bucket list. Do you think it could go viral?)



However, I did stumble on this photo which has this wonderful list that immediately evoked all kinds of warm, dreamy feelings of my summers from long ago. Only problem is, no amount of squinting or eye-straining helped me read the small print so this is what I decided to do.

I decided to make my very own summer bucket list using this one as my inspiration (i.e. I copied some it, gulp. Is it still plagiarism if I give you THIS link?)

Anyway, here’s what I came up with.

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My Summer 2013 Bucket List

Yep. This is it. And I really like it because well,-- first of all it’s totally achievable-- but it’s also a list about simple moments.



I might even blog about a few of these because I know how you love to hear about those random moments in my life (that’s a joke)

and because


(please tell me you know who this is)

a few of these are ones I haven’t done in ages…

How about you?

Tell me what’s on your bucket list for this summer.





Monday, June 24, 2013

gratitude, apologies and real friends


I wrote a lovely, light-hearted post about summer picnics that I’d scheduled for today but somehow it doesn’t feel right to hit the publish button and keep moving.

On Saturday night as I was getting into bed I read THIS blog title and I must’ve groaned out loud because Jim asked me from across the room.

“What’s wrong Les? What happened?”

And then I read him the first few lines written by my blogger friend and he let out a deep sigh and ever since then, I’ve had these words stuck in my head that I’ve needed to get out.

If you’ve been following Pat’s blog you probably already know she’s been going through some tough times because she’s shared bits and pieces of her struggles with her awful neighbors and her pending relocation--and now this.

It’s simply tragic. But instead of focusing on her loss, this post is really about a brief apology she made about a particular post being a “downer.” It was just a few innocuous words and she might not even remember them.

But her words struck me.


In fact, immediately after I read her word “downer” I wanted to write about this topic. Our fear that if we share our troubles openly we might be viewed as “being negative” or—if we reveal too much real life on our blogs it might turn off our readers. I certainly can’t speak for Pat’s feelings but I can relate to having fleeting moments of insecurity after I’ve hit the publish button.

Most recently about a post entitled, I Am Crazy Person, So What, (although apparently not enough to choose a safer title)

But mostly I wanted to tell Pat not to worry about my reactions to her post. Because truthfully, there are no feelings she could share that would cause me to judge her. No agonizing struggles that would turn me off or sad posts that would make me skirt over her blog.

It’s just not going to happen.

Does that sound strange to you? Because I’m aware that my professional background makes me an oddity at times, it’s colored the lens that I view Life from and it’s given me the ability to casually tell my boys,

“You know, there’s nothing you can ever tell me that will shock me. Seriously, I’ve heard it all.”

And lucky for me, it’s the truth (courtesy of years in the session room). And I would only mention this to them as a reassurance. Because in the end, isn’t this what we all want? To be accepted for who we really are? To feel like we don’t have to hide any fragile, little-piece-of-ourselves? And that we can express our truths without fear of being judged or shamed?

When it comes to friendship this is the kind of person I aspire to be, whether I’m reading your posts or sitting across from you. The person who is not afraid of your feelings, whatever they might be. I think this kind of emotional acceptance is the kindest gift we can offer someone.

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Those glimpses beneath the surface of another person’s life? I consider those a privilege. The deeper stuff.  Those heartbreaking losses. The messy struggles. It all tends to flood me with tender feelings in fact, these are the kind of experiences that help me feel connected to someone, bonded by what others might label as ‘negative emotions,’ and I consider simply our humanness.

This is why I’ve been touched by certain bloggers –like Pat--who have dared to share a piece of their heart on their blog, not realizing the extent that women like me would feel moved by this kind of intimacy and raw truth. I’ve appreciated when Michele opened up about her BRCA2 gene and her subsequent surgeries. When Simone shared her anguish over her daughter’s struggles. When Cathi shared her thoughts about the fragility of life. When Loo wrote about her struggles to find a balance between work and family life and finally decided to leave her career. And when Jessah continues to share her heartbreaking struggle to get pregnant.

These are the kinds of posts that help me know the real person behind the blog. And even though these may be tough topics to read about, they remind us that we are all connected as women, trying to do the best we can.


The truth is Pat’s concern about being a “downer” for her readers was not simply a blogger’s dilemma. I think it’s common in real life too. Maybe you’ve been hesitant to open up about your sadness or your anxieties, the things that keep you up at night…..

because of what others might think.


Because there’s a whole lot of pressure out in the world to only show our most perfect selves. Our lovely homes, our high achieving kids, our problem-free relationships. And maybe that’s the point of this rambling post. It’s a post about being real. About knowing your deeper feelings and finding a way to share them with people who truly care because that’s how healing happens. And one more thing. Please don’t ever feel self conscious because you’re going through tough times. Because it’s all part of life. And real friends will understand


In the meantime, today the world mourns the loss of one amazing fifteen year old because Pat has lost her precious grand-daughter. If you get a moment, please stop by and offer her your condolences.

As for me, today I will not complain about ONE thing. Not one. I will welcome each inconvenience (my internet is down I may not be able to publish this)

and anything that goes wrong today in honor of those like Pat and her family who are truly suffering.

Today I’m aware that time is really a gift and I will be grateful for every single moment.


…tell me what you think.




I’m linking this inspiration post up with these friends:



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I am a crazy person, so what.


This morning I woke up with a headache.

I also woke up with a nagging sense of discontent. This week while Michael’s away at camp, I wanted to completely over-haul his bedroom. I wanted to clean out the closets in all the bedrooms and use this week to get the house completely in order. I was also acutely aware of blogs that I wanted to visit, comments I wanted to leave, a post I needed to write, a wood project that lay unfinished, a plant that needed to be dug up.

Did I mention that we are out of milk?

And yesterday instead tackling all these things, I hunkered down in my office and worked on my writing project all afternoon. Yep. I did the unthinkable. I blew off all my obligations and only pulled myself away from my writing to go on a run with Stella, and read some chapters of  Obsessed and Beautiful Ruins

But this morning I was in a crappy mood.



I felt rushed and anxious and it was only eight in the morning. Jim was standing at the front door when I walked to the entry table to grab my car keys and I glanced at the mirror. “Oh my God. I look terrible. Look at my skin.” I whined.

And he smiled. “You do realize you have a totally distorted view of your looks, right?” 

But I ignored him and we began discussing the bike that needed to be dropped off for a tune-up. Could I do this in the afternoon, he asked.

I sighed. Yes, why not? One more thing to add to my growing list of things I was not getting done.

And then Jim came into my office to hand me some aspirin and said, “Les, you really need to take a deep breath and observe yourself right now.”

“I have a headache; I’ll feel better when it’s gone.” (But secretly I was counting the seconds until he left the house so I could jump into the paperwork and bills in front of me).

“No I’m not talking about your headache. I’m talking about the anxiety you’re always feeling because…



“Jim. Look around. It’s just that everywhere I look there’s something unfinished. I wanted to get so much writing done this week but I also wanted the closets…”

And he laughs. Yep. He just bursts out laughing in the middle of my explanation and says,

“Leslie. I’ve known you for a long time and you’ve always got projects you’re working on and I’m telling you this has nothing to do with your projects, or Michael being away this week and you wanting to get the house cleaned. There’s always going to be something, it’s called Life. You need to slow down and just observe your feelings, without judging yourself.”

He tells me how his practice of mindfulness helps him avoid getting swept up in the raging emotions of the moment. How observing his moods without judgment help him maintain a healthy detachment. And he makes me take a deep breath with him although he’s smiling while I begrudgingly do this.


The truth is I know he’s right. It’s what I need to hear even though I’m still waiting for him to leave. And afterwards, I think how wonderful it is to live with someone who loves your craziness (contrary to most people, I have fond feelings about this word)

I’m wise enough to realize that it’s downright blissful to be married to someone who totally accepts you, because ironically, it’s this kind of non-judgmental encouragement that makes me accept myself.

Embrace my imperfections. Want to keep growing, learning and seeking.

Yes, I get a little crazy. I have issues, so what.

So after he leaves I call my Mom and check on her (Dad is out of town on golf trip).


And I decide to write this post before I do anything else….just in case there are other crazy-busy-wonderfully neurotic women out there who:

  • glance at their face first-thing in-the morning and feel shocked,
  • who ordered a piece of chocolate lava cake in place of their dinner,
  • who don’t have milk in the fridge because they would rather read than go the grocery store,
  • who have messy closets and
  • feel occasionally crappy because of their ridiculous expectations…

If you can relate to any of this you should know that I consider you my official BFF.

Oh-and-if you can relate to this:



Don’t you just love Jennifer Lawrence?

(do something fun today)





Monday, June 17, 2013

a gift from the heart

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Did you have a nice Father’s Day?

We actually celebrated Father’s Day on Saturday because Michael left town to be a counselor at Camp Rec and Patrick had to head back to San Luis Obispo on Sunday to begin summer classes. This is our new normal. Juggling schedules with kids who are busy carving out lives for themselves.

But interestingly, I’m finding there are benefits to all this stretching and adapting that comes with letting go. It makes our moments together even more precious and I have to say, it’s done wonders for my sense of gratitude.

Funny how when the boys were little I just took all that togetherness for granted.

Slow downadiaryofalovely

For one of his Father’s Day gifts, Mr. Moss wanted exercise and fresh air so we biked around a beautiful little lake and ate lunch at a sunny cafĂ© with Patrick and Michael texted his Dad from somewhere in the woods on Father’s Day and Mr. Moss felt lots of love from his boys. Which is the whole point.

And of course I stopped by to give my Dad his gifts: a freshly made cake (still warm out of the oven) and these handwritten soup bowls.

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Do you ever struggle to come up with a personal gift for someone special?  Here’s what I did.

Because my Dad loves to cook and because he adores my boys, I decided to buy six bowls from the Dollar Store and write something on them.

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I used a Sharpie Oil-based paint pen and wrote “Papa is a Great Cook,” (something my boys often say) and I asked Patrick and Michael to each pick three words to describe their Papa.

Then I had Patrick write each word on the bottom of the bowl. (I would’ve had Michael write his own words, but he was gone).

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Actually adding the words was Mr. Moss’s idea to make it more meaningful and I loved this added touch.

I baked the bowls at 350 degrees for thirty minutes and according to all the feedback I’ve seen around the Pinterest world, the writing should be permanent. No dishwasher to be safe, but hand washing for sure. I’ll let you know how this marker holds up.

But wouldn’t this be a wonderful idea with smaller children?



My Dad loved it and it was so simple and inexpensive. I think the older we get, these are the gifts that matter most… spending quality time together and objects that have sentimental value.

And flowers. I gotta have my fresh flowers…


What are your favorite gifts these days?

(Happy Monday to you)





Thursday, June 13, 2013

little baby chalkboards…(and a recipe)


Do you ever find yourself getting downright giddy about something small and insignificant? One of those things you find adorable but your husband would probably never notice?

(sorry honey)


It happened when I discovered this pack of wood pieces from Michaels Crafts Store and remembered the chalkboard paint and tape I had leftover in the cupboard…


Before I knew it I had made these itty bitty chalkboards that I used on my dessert table…



(all you do is put your painter’s tape around the edges and paint the middle..voila!  But don’t forget to rub them with chalk before you use them) 


Now I admit it, I was rushing around like a crazy woman when I wrote on these chalkboards…(at least I got the spelling right)

but look what happens when you take your time…


You can make yourself the cutest looking place cards for a casual, summer table.


I know. You’ve probably seen these everywhere, but tell the truth…


how many have the name Leslie written on it?

Extra cutie points maybe?


And one more thing.


Before you go here’s my white chocolate cheesecake recipe I made for Michael’s grad party.

(As you can see I cut the pie into squares)

It really was luscious. And just in case someone’s Dad loves cheesecake here’s the recipe…

White Chocolate Cheesecake


1/2 cup of unsalted butter, chilled & cut into 4 pieces

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of flour

1 egg, beaten


24 ounces of cream cheese

1 cup of sour cream

1 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of flour

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 eggs

8 ounces of white chocolate

2 tablespoons of heavy cream


Place butter, sugar and flour in food processor. Using the pulse switch, mix until consistency of coarse meal. Add the egg and pulse again until a ball has formed. Chill for 1 hour. When cold, roll out a circle large enough to line the bottom of a small 6 to 7 inch spring form pan (I used a 9 inch and it was fine) with 4 inch sides. Prick the dough with a fork and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove and cool. Roll out the remaining dough and line the sides of the pan.

In food processor place the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, flour and vanilla. Puree until smooth, add eggs and puree once more. Slowly melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. When melted, stir in cream. With the food processor on, pour in the white chocolate mixture and puree until smooth. Puree the cheese mixture into the spring form pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. When the top becomes level the cheesecake is done. Turn off oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool, approximately 1 hour. Do not move or work with the cake until completely cooled.

Note: I didn’t put the crust on the sides in case you noticed from photo.

*recipe from Celebrate!

What’s your favorite pie?



I’m linking up with these friends, please stop by.






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