Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our Humble Abode: Kitchen Counter Stools

The kitchen...where do I begin. I was the most excited about designing the kitchen in our new house (which is still not completed, FYI). It is the center of the house (literally), it is the hub, it is where we (well, I) will be spending most of our time when in the house. There are a few things that I knew I wanted going into the design of the kitchen:

1. I wanted a white kitchen. No discussion - it had to be white.

2. I wanted a large center island, where you sat at the end, not the side, to eat. This photo above served as inspiration for me when designing the kitchen, and is very similar to what our island looks like (not as wide). I wanted everyone to be able to converse easily with each other while seated, and not have to crane their necks side to side to chat. Plus I like to look at my family when we are eating together. 

3. I wanted to mix silver and gold finishes. I wanted big gold statement lights over the island, but wanted to keep brushed nickel finish on the cabinet hardware. I love to mix unexpected colors and textures and finishes when I make my jewelry, and wanted to reflect this in our house. This photo below was one of the first things I pinned and has also been an inspirational photo for me - so much so that I purchased the same lighting fixtures for our island!
I am wearing this outfit right now as I write this. 
4. And finally, to get to the point of this very long post, I wanted Parisian Bistro Counter Stools (aka French Bistro stools AKA those chairs that they have at Cheesecake Factory, as one of my friends pointed out - not the look I was going for of course but she is correct.) Not only do I think they are gorgeous, and a great way to add a pop of color to the stark white room, they are uber kid-friendly! I am beyond sick of having cushions with spots all over them, and now we can just wipe away the mess. 

I believe this is  TK Collection chair (see more info below)

So I started a search, and quickly came to find out that not all Parisian Stools are created equally. I thought I would take the time to share the different styles/brands that I came across so that hopefully someone someday will not have to spend all their free time for weeks doing this research, because I have done it for you!

The High End: 

- TK Collections: I had no clue what these suckers were going to cost going into this, and was shocked at the wide range in prices that I came across. One of the first companies I came across was TK Collections. They are a custom order chair maker, from Paris, with an office in NYC. You can actually customize the pattern and color of the weave on the chairs - how cool is that! You are also able to customize the seat height, which was a huge selling point as most chairs were too tall for our island. I created the perfect chair on their website, only to find out (through my decorator as they only sell to trade) that they were $1000 a piece. $1000 - for a bar stool. No way Jose!!! See the above photo for an example of their beautiful workmanship and unique pattern design...

The Weave Designer is super cool! Look at all the fun patterns. No wonder they cost a fortune!

You are able to customize every little section!

Middle of the Road ($300-$400): 

- Maison di Midi: They have a lovely variety stools, in what I think is the best color selection at this price. The reason we didn't go with this brand is that I needed a stool that was 24" from floor to seat and at 26" this was too high. This particular chair pictured below will cost $342.95 plus shipping and tax. 

This was my first choice - love this color combo

- Serena and Lily: I ran into the same seat height issue with Serena and Lily, so needless to say they are not who we went with. I did like their color selection, but their seat was also narrower at 18". These chairs will run you $325 for bar height (30" seat) and $295 for counter height (26.5"). 
The only place I saw yellow chairs - M would have loved them!

- Williams Sonoma: At first I wasn't crazy about these chairs, as they were only available in blue and black striped. But ho! A 24" seat height! And what is that I just got in my inbox? A 30% off coupon? Jackpot! We ended up going with these chairs, in the blue. Retail price is $395 plus delivery, but I got a wicked good deal with my coupon. It pays to sign up for those annoying emails. I have already received them and tested them out in the kitchen and I couldn't be happier. 
The winner!

Lower End ($275 and less - don't get me wrong, $275 is still a lot of money to spend on a stool!!) 
- Ballard Design: I wasn't a big fan of these to begin with, as they were more muddled in color than I wanted. I know someone, who knows someone, that has these in their home and they are very happy with them. That being said, they don't have great reviews on the website. They retail for $269 a piece. 

- Wayfair - Again, not the look I was going for, but they seemed to be the least expensive ones that I could find, at $200 a piece. 

We also looked into getting taller chairs and having the legs cut down, but we were told that it is nearly impossible to cut the rattan legs as there is a chance they might split or fray. I am totally happy with the choice of the blue and white striped chair from Williams- Sonoma, as we are going to have a navy blue color scheme in the family room that is off of the kitchen. 

I promise to share photos of the stools in their new home when our home is finished - which will hopefully be next month! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Casting Director Mama J: Beauty and the Beast (updated)

See update in Gaston section after my brother blew my mind with a new suggestion!

I just read online that Emma Watson has been cast to play Belle in the live action version of Beauty and the Beast, and I couldn't be happier! One of my favorite things to day dream about is casting live action versions of animated films. It sounds so silly, but at one point I actually kept a list of whom I would cast in what, in hopes of writing a blog post about it in the future. If only I could find that said list (I am guessing it is in storage with 90% of our other belongings.) This recent announcement of Emma playing Bell has me thinking about who else I would cast in the movie if I were casting director...Here are my thoughts:

The Beast:

My original plan was to have my honey Hugh Jackman play the role of the Beast, to Olivia Wilde's Belle. Actually he would be amazing as Gaston too, but with the casting of Emma, only 24, as Belle, it would be weird to have someone as old at Hugh, 46, playing either role. Sorry my love! I have included his photo in this post anyway because he is dreamy and I like looking at his face. Where was I?

Yes, the Beast. After recently seeing Into the Woods, I actually think Chris Pine (another dreamboat) would be a terrific Beast! He can sing, he can move, but it would be a shame to cover his face in Beast make-up for the majority of the movie.

I think Chris and Emma would make a lovely leading couple, don't you?


Can anyone else but my crush of all crushes, Joe Manganiello, play Gaston? Does he sing? Who cares! Is he probably too old? Yes! But is there another tall strapping dark haired hunk in Hollywood that could play this role? Probably, but I can't think of one! Where does he sign????
Hey, Girl. Want me to come over and give you a foot massage while you watch Real Housewives?
Update: After I shared this post on Facebook my brother actually came up with an even better (gasp!) selection for Gaston. Henry Cavill. How could I forget my favorite part of The Tudors? I have no clue if he can sing but cast him now damn it! He is also apparently the nicest guy in Hollywood. Look at this face...

Le Fou: 

Originally I had thought of Ricky Gervais as this part (he has a tremendous singing voice if you didn't know) but again, he is too old for this cast. My new favorite person for this role is Josh Gad, of Book of Mormons and Olaf fame. He has the looks (sorry Josh, you are more attractive than LaFou but there are some similarities!) and the vocal chops to boot. Plus he would add a terrific comedic aspect to the movie. 

This could be the worst photo of Josh I have ever seen - turns out he is crazy photogenic!

Lumiere and Cogsworth

I am not too concerned about who would play these two enchanted objects. Lumiere needs to be someone with a legit singing voice of course - Hugh, maybe? I hope they find someone off Broadway for the role of the debonaire candlestick. 

Mrs. Potts

I cannot get Mrs. Patmore (from Downton Abbey) off the brain for this role. Or even Mrs. Hughes! They both have lovely soft voices - I have no clue if either of them can sing, but I guess they need to for the big title song sequence. Or maybe even have Angela Lansbury reprise her role! Or Julie Andrews? She can still belt it! 

It will really depend on which way they are going with the live action adaptation. Are they planning to modernize it or will it be in the same "old timey" time of the Disney movie? Maybe Indina Menzel as Mrs. Potts so she can have another crack at singing gold? This will be an interesting role to cast...

But who am I to say who gets what role! I can't wait to find out who they do inevitably cast...

Wait until you hear my thoughts on Little Mermaid and Rapunzel!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Our Humble Abode: Wood Floor Stain

Picking out a hardwood floor stain is not as easy as one might think. There are about 40 to choose from in one brand of stain (Minwax brand is what we are using on our house). When looking at the swatches one might not be able to differentiate the brown of Dark Walnut from that of Special Walnut, but there is a difference!

When my builder first asked what color I wanted the hardwood floor to be, I originally thought I wanted very dark floors. Then my parents put very dark floors in their house they re-did and all I hear are complaints from them about how they show everything and how I will be cleaning them all day long and how they show scratches like you wouldn't believe. I have a big dog, and two messy girls - and I am not the neatest person alive - so the last thing I want are high maintenance floors. 

Then I thought I wanted gray floors - so bright and beachy and on trend with what I see in the magazines these days. But could I live with gray on every floor, in every room of this house? Is that really my style? Maybe if I actually lived near the beach, but our landlocked home doesn't have a beachy feel to it at all. 

So I decided to test some middle of the road brown stains on the floor yesterday to actually get a feel for what the stains would look like in our very bright and light home. Our floor is 3 inch Red Oak wood, and this is two coats of each of the stains. All Minwax brand. The photo was taken in natural light so this is a great representation of what the stains look like. I will say they are very similar to the tiny wood swatches I had of each of these colors. 

The winner is Special Walnut, in the top left corner!

Golden Oak turned too golden-yellow for me with the second coat. The grain in the Dark Walnut turned way too black for my liking. English Chestnut took on too much of a reddish hue. Classic Gray wasn't what I was looking for, but I wanted to see what it looked like anyway - and it turned way too blueish gray on our floors. Weathered Oak was too light and yellow, so Special Walnut is the final choice!

Funny thing is, Special Walnut was my original first choice before I even did the test. 

As far as how to test the stains, just purchase the tiny cans ($4 at Home Depot), a cheap brush, and some Wiping Cloths (they are actually made for this purpose). You paint the stain on the floor (after you sweep away any dust) and then wipe the spot with the cloth. I did the second coat 24 hours later, but I am sure you can do it pretty much right after as they dry quickly. 

As far as finish we are going to keep it matte, so it will look just like the photo above. 

Hope this helps anyone looking to re-do their floors (as I was looking for something like this on Pinterest)!

Our Humble Abode: Family Room


Hello friends. It's been a while, I know, but things have been crazy pants over in my neck of the woods. We are getting down to the wire with our house build - FINALLY. We are nearing the light at the end of this seemingly perpetual tunnel, and it is coming quickly. I went to the house today and there were approximately 10 trucks in the driveway and about 20 men working all over the house - painting and tiling and putting in closets. 

After a year of picking out the boring stuff like faucets and deck colors the fun stuff has begun!

You would think that after four years of pinning home ideas on Pinterest I would know what I want to do as far as decorating our home is concerned. It is quite the contrary. I have too many ideas - way too many ideas - and I am having a hard time actually make a final decision on anything. I am losing sleep over rugs and window treatments. I spent probably about 5 hours (not joking) looking at rugs for Val's room, only to make a decision, and then change my mind again. I have nightmares about the wrong rugs being delivered. Ridiculous I know, but my life is all about the house now that the reality of actually living there is settling in.

But right now I need your advice! The current thing I am losing sleep over is a coffee table. I know, madness, but we seriously can't make a decision. So I figured I would see what others thought about the four options we have narrowed it down to below. You do not need to know where they are from, or how much they cost, just simply look at the options in the collage and tell me which you think would work in the room. They are all relatively the same size (from 55" to 60" long) and very similar colors. All wood too. It is a big room, so it can hold a big coffee table, and the couch is huge so it needs a big table to anchor it in the room. 

In the collage you will also see the paint color, Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore, the rug (Pottery Barn), the color of the couch (it is almost tweedy looking up close) and the center light fixture that will go in the center square of a coffered ceiling. 

What are your thoughts??? Comment in the comment section!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Blah, blah, blah

6 weeks.

That is how long it has been since my last post. 6 freaking weeks.

It isn't that I didn't have things to write about, or stories to share, it is that I am at an odd place in my life when it comes to the blog.

Let me explain.

Lately my time has been spent mostly on picking out things for the new house. Oh, yeah! Remember that new house we are building? That we were supposed to move into in August...then October...then in two weeks? Well it has about two more months of work left to be done on it.

I have so many stories to share about this process - SO MANY - but I am scared to write about any of it on the blog because, universe forbid, someone that works on my house reads it, and then it gets back to my contractor and then he delays us even further. This is the way I think now.

Once we are moved in I will be ready to share like I have never shared before. I will share photos and mood boards and unbelievable stories like our tile being installed in our master shower by a small Vietnamese man with a lit cigarette hanging from his mouth who told me he hates the tile I picked out, who I then told "well then it's good that you never have to see this damn shower again once you are finished!"(And yes I told our contractor to tell that tiny man never to smoke in my house again!)

I am also hesitant to share things that happen in my life because I have been told that I occasionally "over share" and I should "be careful" what I put out on the internet. Too late for that I guess! But after hearing this from a couple of people I am hesitant to post things like M looking at my naked body and asking "what happened" to me to make me look this way (this I found hysterical BTW).

Hubs is kicking ass and taking names at work. Every time I go to write something lately I think, "what if one of Hubs' co-workers read this?" and then I decide not to share about the week where one of our daughters decided to pee in the tub every night, or the time a diaper-less post-bath Val decided to poop on the rug (see what I am doing here? )

My life has become all about what counter stools to buy and what wallpaper to put in the dining room - these are the things that keep me up at night. Life is good. I have no complaints (those will be shared after our house is done). Who wants to read about spending hours picking out cabinet hardware? You better, because in two months I am an open book...

Until then. Live long, and prosper.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Acting a Fool!

I was just in the bedroom playing with Val on the floor. She stood up and walked over to my side, put her hand on my shoulder and said "it's ok Mommy," and then leaned in and gave me a huge hug and a  kiss...and then another kiss and an even bigger hug. My heart melted. This is one of the many "bits" she does that gets me to smile ear to ear and be thankful that I have such an amazing child.

She made up a knock knock joke that she loves to tell everyone she meets:

Val: Knock, knock, who dare?
Me: Who's there?
Val: Donut
Me: Donut, who?
Val: Donut Chicken!!!

It kills every time.
You can't see it but her shirt says
T is for Trouble.

She is loving, she is funny, she is fearless and just perfect...90% of the time.

With M, who will be 5 in December, we were lucky to never experience the terrible twos. She was honestly a little angel. Sure there was some 'tude here and there, but never a big fit. Those actually didn't come until the mid-4s (so fairly recently). With Val, it is a whole different ballgame. This kid is already giving me a run for my money and she just turned two in August.

We recently began experiencing major fits in public places. Last weekend we were at a museum and she actually laid down in the middle of a crowded area and screamed bloody murder while flailing her legs and arms around. My husband and I, who are new to this type of behavior, couldn't help but laugh and look at each other like, "should we pick her up? Should we let her work it out? Did a demon possess our child in the play kitchen area?" Ultimately I grabbed her by the waist, trying to avoid getting punched or kicked and removed her to a different location and calmed her down.

This morning she was totally content running errands with me, until we got to the fabric store. I don't know what set her off but as soon as we entered the fabric store she started in with "No! I want Daddy! I want to go see Daddy at work!" She refused to move from the entrance area, so I once again had to pick her up by the waist and carry her screaming with me through the store - this time though she was giving me what I call the "stiff body" and tensing her whole body. I ended up just planting her down a few feet away from me while she kept screaming "I can't! No! I can't!" and tried to listen to the overly sweet woman explain to me how I figure out which fabrics can be used as napkins for M's school. I still do not know which fabrics are suitable as five minutes into the store I had to once again pick up 'Ole Stiff Body McGee and carry her out of the store, where she immediately calmed down.

At home we are dealing with things like hitting her sister, or hitting the pooch. Val likes to steal whatever M is playing with, then play nice and offer the toy to M and say "here you go M!" only to run away with said toy in her hand at the last minute, while cackling her little evil laugh. I'm not going to lie, this I think is hysterical.

Val is also a runner. By runner I mean that she likes to bolt whenever you put her down. She will run away from me at grocery stores (I actually have to use the safety straps on the cart), when we are walking the dog (I now put her in the Ergo on my back to stop this) and her latest favorite place to run away from me is the parking garage in our building. She about gave me a heart attack last night when we returned home and I got her out of the seat, went to lock the car (she usually stands there and helps me lock the car) and out of the corner of my eye I see her running away from the car. I scream her name but of course this just makes her laugh and run faster. This kid!!!

It used to be that being tired or hungry set her off, but now it seems to be anything and everything can flip her switch and make her "act a fool," as I like to say. This behavior even further solidifies our decision to only have two kids. Serenity now!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rules of the Road

The apartment we are currently living in while our house is being built is approximately 30 minutes (give or take 5 minutes depending on traffic and school buses) away from M's school. This means that I spend at least 2 hours a day in the car. Most days I am in the car for at least 3 hours, as I have to run errands, take Val to class or doctor's appointments, in addition to driving to and from M's school. I have gone from filling up my gas tank every 10 days to every 5. My back has been aching more than usual as I am sitting behind the wheel much more than I used to. Needless to say, I am not happy about this situation, but I have to deal as our house (which will be a four minute drive to school) is taking a lot longer to be finished than we had hoped. point is that I am driving a lot. 

Lately I have been thinking about driving etiquette and actual rules of the road and have come to the conclusion that 99% of the people on the road need to go back and take their driving test again because they drive like A-Holes (caps intended). I decided I should take it upon myself to refresh you all with proper driving behavior (in my opinion, and in some cases, the state of Massachusetts opinion too). Here goes: 

1. The wave. The wave goes a long way in my book. It can stifle a potential hurricane of anger inside me. It is a show of thanks, of compassion and in some cases regret. The wave I am referring to is the wave that is exchanged between drivers. A simple raising of the hand. When should said wave be used? All the time. You can't wave enough when you are driving. Someone let's you out in front of them? Give them a wave. You cut someone off, and truly didn't mean it? Give them a wave. Hell, if you cut someone off and did mean it, but don't really want to get them riled up - give them a wave. If everyone would just wave to each other while driving, the world would be a happier place. I had someone turn in front of me that required me to pretty much slam on the breaks today - the anger started to bubble, but out the window came his hand and just a couple back and forths my anger's cool, he didn't mean it (even if he did, I appreciate the wave buddy.)

2. The left lane. People let's finally get this straight. The left lane is for passing only. That is highway rules 101. You do not just choose a lane and drive whatever speed you want to in that lane. The left lane of the highway is for people driving faster than the people in the middle lane. The right lane is for the grannies with walkers, or those about to exit the highway. You get into the left lane only if you are driving faster than the people in the middle and right lanes. If someone comes up behind you in the left lane, and they are driving faster than you (which in most cases is me), you pull over into the middle lane and let that person pass you. You do not drive 60 MPH in the left lane and force people to pass you on the right. That is just madness.  

3. Emergency vehicles. How do people not know that when a police car, firetruck or ambulance is coming up behind you you pull the eff over? You do whatever you have to do to get out of the freaking way. If you are on a two lane road and you see one of these vehicles coming in the opposite direction you also pull over and stop. Get out of their Don't just sit there at the light twiddling your thumbs (I'm talking to you, cars on route 9 last week who just sat there while the ambulance was honking it's horns and flashing it's lights) - get out of the way. 

4. Use your turn signals. I heard a funny thing on The Tonight Show a few weeks ago. Jimmy Fallon had people tweet their favorite lines of advice they have received from their fathers and he shared his favorites on the show. One girl said "my dad told me never to use my turn signals as it was nobody's business where I was going." People that don't use turn signals drive me insane. Are you too lazy to move your finger? Do you think you own the road? Do you just like keeping people on their toes? Don't be an ass...use your signals. 

5. If there is no sign telling you "No Turn on Red" you can make a right on a red light. I promise this is ok. 

6. And the one that I deal with multiple times a day...If you are in dead stop traffic, and I am trying to make a left across the street on which you are "parked" temporarily, do not stop directly in front of my car so that I cannot make my left. I know you see me there. I know you are just being a total dick and making me suffer along with you by making me wait to make my left. You could have just not moved and let me in front of you to make my turn, but no, you purposefully moved up and blocked me. Oh look, that nice person behind you actually backed up so that I could get out in front of her. She gets a wave, you would get a finger you d-bag, but I have kids in the car, so you get a mental finger from me. 

So to sum it up, if you see black Highlander come up behind you while driving in the left lane, put on your turn signal, pull over to the middle lane and I will happily give you a wave.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

These are a few of our favorite books!

Back in the day when I could actually call myself a blogger (meaning when I used to post multiple times a week, not months like now) I was good about sharing lists of our girls' favorite books. As I was just reading the same book to M that we have been reading to her every night since I purchased it two weeks ago (The Snatchabook), I realized that I am long overdue in sharing the wonderful titles that we have been reading to the girls here goes!!

M's faves (age 4 years and 9 months):

The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty - I love a book with sweet little animal characters and a wonderful rhyming story. This one will tug on your heartstrings if you are a parent who loves to read to your kids at night.

Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts - I was immediately drawn to this book due to the brilliant illustrations. M loves all things fashion (as does her Mama) so I didn't even read this before I brought it home for her because I knew as soon as I looked at the inside cover she would love it...and it did not disappoint!

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers - It is pretty rare to come across a book that is just as enjoyable for the parent as it is as a kid, but The Day the Crayons Quit is that book and more. It is funny, it is smart, it is silly and it is a joy to read over and over and over and over....get it, now!

I Had a Favorite Dress  by Boni Ashburn and Julia Denos - Another fashion book that I was drawn to immediately due to the illustrations and which ended up having an adorable story along with it. It won't teach your children any life lessons, or make your feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it is cute, and M loves it.

Crafty Chloe and Crafty Chloe: Dress-Up Mess-Up by Kelly DiPucchio and Heather Ross - These are books after my own heart. You had me at "crafty" in the title! Both of these stories about the creative Chloe are sweet and unique. They are great for the girl or boy that might not be the best at traditional things, but who is a thriving artist at heart.

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna - The latest in the Pout-Pout Fish series (one of our all time favorites) tells the story of our protagonist's first day at school. Just like all of Diesen's books this one teaches your child a valuable lesson: just because you don't know something doesn't mean you can't learn it, and school is the perfect place for that.

Val's fave at age 2:

Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems - Obsessed is an understatement. I have read these two books to Val every night for the past 6 months, and I can honestly say I don't mind reading them over and over! Her favorite thing to do is to spot the hidden pigeons (ok, they aren't that hidden, she just loves to say "I found da pigeon!") throughout the books and to do the "Kuh-nuffle/Nuffle!" scene along with me. These are just perfect for any 2 year old with a short attention span as they aren't too long, the drawings are great and the story is adorable.

A Sister More Like Me by Barbara Jean Hicks and Brittney Lee - My girls are not as into Frozen as most girls their age. They like it, and have the dolls, but we have only watched the movie a handful of times. Now, the music, we know that backwards, forewords, inside and out and have made our own music videos. Val is much more into the characters than M, so she loves reading this incredibly beautifully illustrated book that delves deeper into the childhood of Anna and Elsa. It is really neat to learn some back story about the characters and get a peek into what it was like growing up for them in Arendelle

Sesame Street Night, Night Elmo by Sesame Street - It's Elmo. It has flaps to lift. Mama does her best Elmo voice when she reads it (which isn't half bad if I do say so myself).

Tons of Trucks by Sue Fleiss and Betsy Snyder - For all the books about Princesses and fashion that I buy the girls I like to round out their library with "boy themed" books as well. This lift the flap book about trucks is one of Val's all-time favorites.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Apartment Living Week One

Just over one week ago we closed on the house we had been living in for the last four years. When we first bought that house we thought we would be living there pretty much for the rest of our lives. Then the house started to need unexpected repairs and we were sinking a ton of money into it. And then our neighbors started to annoy us, especially the ones that would have expletive laced fights on their front porch and the others that yelled at us for parking in front of our own house (which was across from their driveway - ridiculous).

Last year an opportunity to build our dream house landed in our lap so we took it - but said house is not scheduled to be finished until October. Thinking it would take a couple months to sell our house, we put it on the market in late May. To our great surprise we had two offers within 24 hours of listing the house, which is why today I write to you from the corner of a dark living room in a little apartment, which will serve as our home until the house is finished. 

Ok, that is kind of an exaggeration. The apartment is nice. It is much nicer than all the rodent infested 200 year old buildings I have lived in before in the city! The girls each have their own bedrooms, which is a blessing, and there is a decent amount of living space. This whole situation works though because I would say 80% of our personal items are now in storage. We only brought with us minimal furniture and about two boxes each full of clothes, and you know what? That is all we really need! It is amazing how much junk you accumulate over the years that you think you need, but now that it is out of sight it is totally out of mind. 

I could get used to living in close quarters with my family. I bought one of those old lady metal shopping carts (like I used to have in the city) so that I don't have to make multiple trips up the elevator from the garage after shopping. If anything breaks I can just call someone to come fix it. There is a little playground on the property for the kids, and they even have a swimming pool! It's like we are living in a hotel, without the housekeeping and room service. It is not too shabby!

The things I am not loving about apartment living are the following: 

- Having to take my dog out throughout the day. I got used to having a backyard at the house and being able to let her out to pee when she needed too. Now I have to leash her up, and actually take her for a walk. 

- Hearing my upstairs neighbors have sex. Yes, this happens. 

- Hearing the doors in adjacent apartments open and close. 

- Having to lug my trash to the trash room which is about 1/4 mile away from our unit (at least it feels that far)

- Trying to keep the dog and the kids quiet so that we don't get kicked out because we don't have anywhere else to go right now!

Other than that, life is great here in Hotel Mama J. Oh except for the fact that my contractor hasn't called me back in a week and we are so far off our schedule that we might be living in this apartment longer than expected!! That drama I will save for another post...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

...Wash me in the water

"If you are comfortable in your life, then you really aren't living..." - ME (I will explain below!)

I am honored to say I among a privileged group of ladies that has had the opportunity to get in front of the uber talented Michelle Gardella's camera as part of her River Story project. Here is a sneak peek at the amazing results:, Michelle Gardella Photographer
I know, right? Amazing!!

So about the day...

I traveled down to Conncecticut and had my make-up done by super talented Julie Rondini of Simply Gorgeous by Erin Make-Up, then drove about an hour into the country and met Michelle at our rendezvous point by the Salmon River. When I pulled into the parking area where we were to meet I was incredibly nervous. Like stomach churning before a dance performance nervous. I was about to get into an evening gown in the woods and travel into a flowing river in the middle of nowhere with a stranger. Who does this? 

But as soon as Michelle and I started talking, I started to immediately relax. She has this presence about her - a calming force - that makes you feel like you have known her for 20 years as soon as you meet her. 

The florist who did my floral crown, Jakki of Jakkelyn Iris Flowers, met us, fitted my crown and then off we drove to what Michelle calls a place where the "whispers of our ancient Grandmothers are undeniable." Awesome. 

The weather was a perfect 74 degrees. The sun was setting and casting a glow like I had never seen. The river water was warm and inviting...and in I went. 

As soon as I entered the water a hawk flew over Michelle and I...then another large bird...then a fish jumped out of the water...then a dragonfly almost landed on my head. I was like Mother Nature calling all my children to me. It was incredible. 

Here we were in this magical setting, just the two of us exploring the natural ebbs and flows of the river and sharing an hour together that I will never forget. We talked about our kids, our families, our daily lives. We laughed about what our bodies have become after having children. We talked about our struggles and stresses. We shared time that I will never forget. 

I told Michelle I was up for doing absolutely anything she wanted me to do in the river, so she had me do some underwater shots. Just looking at this photo makes me want to drive back to the river and dive in!
Michelle Gardella Photographer,

I truly believe that if you are comfortable in your life, you aren't really living...let me explain. 

The idea of this photo shoot gave me butterflies. At first they were exciting butterflies, but the closer I got to the date, it was more like sick to my stomach butterflies. I was nervous about the whole situation - being in a remote location by myself, being gone the whole day from my kids, getting hurt while in the river, having the photos not turn out, etc. - for days before the actual shoot. But look at the results (and these are the only two photos I have seen so far)! And every time I think about the experience it makes me incredibly happy - that I did something for myself, that I did something I have never done before, that I met someone I will never forget, that she made me feel like I was truly a beautiful person and not just a stay at home mom who wears yoga pants every day. 

It's the same with other things in my life, whether it be going out to dinner with people I have never met before, or attending an event with my husband, starting a new class with one of my kids, showing my jewelry at a show, talking in front of other parents at my kid's school. All of these things make me nervous for days in advance, but after the fact, they all bring me joy and make me realize that all that worrying was for nothing. 

I could just go about my daily life, not sign up for anything at my kid's school, not attend events with my husband, not put my talents out there to be judged, stay home on the couch instead of going out and doing new things, but what kind of life would that be? No life at all. 

I challenge you to find your own version of a River Story photo shoot! Find something you have been wanting to do, and instead of putting it off because it would make you uncomfortable, just do it! Sign up for that half marathon! Take that cooking class! Go on that girl's weekend trip! Go out to dinner with those parents you like from your kids school - you could be making a friend for a lifetime! 

Or, schedule your own River Story photo shoot with Michelle Gardella. It is an experience of a life time - until I meet her again next summer in the river with my mother and daughters!! 

Take me to the river...wash me in the water!