Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Birthday!!

Tomorrow one of my very best friends will celebrate her birthday.   It's a very, very special one and I'm disappointed that she's so far away and I can't be there to celebrate with her.  

I met Sarah in elementary school.  We've been friends for 25 years and she's been one of the most incredible friends a person could ask for.  Sarah is fun, funny, smart, beautiful, loyal, honest and dependable.  She lights up the room with her vivacious energy and to know her is to love her.

Last year she headed out to California for a new adventure.  We were all sad to see her go but hopeful and excited about her change.  Almost immediately, she began seeing a doctor for a nagging pain in her right arm.  She thought it might be a bad case of carpel tunnel.  Unfortunately, it wasn't.  It turned out to be a rare cancer. The tumor was aggressive and diagnosed a Stage 3.  She would have to immediately undergo an intensive inpatient chemotherapy schedule and begin a ferocious battle for her life. 

She was 3,000 miles away from home.  She was given the scariest news anyone can get.  And there she was, strong as a rock and ready to take it on. There was never a moment that she believed she wouldn't beat it.  As everyone that loved her stood on the sidelines, feeling shocked and helpless, I think we all drew our strength from her.  From her absolute fearlessness.  From her resiliance. From her unshakable positivity.  Cancer had met its match and there was no way it would win.

Today she has some scars.  She lost her hair.  She has a tattoo with her diagnosis date but ...she's back.  She's cancer-free.  She beat the shit out of that awful disease.  There's a lot of stuff written about cancer.  How it robs people of who they were, how hard it is to bounce back. That's not the case with Sarah. She never surrendered to statistics or let cancer dictate what she could or couldn't do.  She was running (!) to her raditaiton appoinments....  Her doctor couldn't believe it.  but anyone who knows her could.

Tomorrow she will celebrate a special birthday.  The end of a hard year and the start of a beautiful and healthy one. I am so grateful to have her in my life - her friendship is an amazing gift.

Sarah, I hope every single one of your birthday wishes comes true.  I love you.   Happy Birthday ~*!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Brazilian New Year's

Without a doubt, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  The famous Jesus Christ monument, the mountains, the ocean, the people - it is a visual paradise.  Celebrating New Year's in Brazil is truly an amazing experience.  It's a custom in Rio for everyone to dress in white and head to the beach.  There is an elaborate fireworks display and a sea of white, as far as the eye can see.  The white is supposed to attract good energy for the New Year.  Many people take a dip into the ocean to rid themselves of anything they don't want to take forward from the past year.

We aren't able to make it there this year.  But we can still turn the heat up in the house, put on our white clothes, mix up some caiprinhinhas and wish we were there.... 

(this gorgeous image was found here)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

That time...

My shelves are lined with new books, my closet has some new clothes, my kitchen has some new fun toys...Santa was good to me again this year.  It seems like a good time to start a "diet".  Not the typical New Year diet of lettuce and lean protein, but a financial diet.  A few months ago, inspired by Joselyn's Shopping Hiatus, I challenged myself.  It wasn't insanely extreme, I just tried to not use my credit card for a month. Period.  Anything I bought had to be paid for in cash, which I had sort of pre-budgeted at the start of the month, ie. groceries, gas etc.

Anyways, it was interesting.  Similar to a health cleanse, it brought awareness to what I usually buy.  Where do I carelessly spend and why?  For starters, I learned that if I'm just running errands on a Saturday afternoon, I will mindlessly spend $83.76 at Target on....I don't even know!   That was one of the things that needed to stop.  Second, I learned that I will buy a new piece of clothing because "I like it".  Do I already have 3 things that look like that - yes.   Have I possibly forgotten about them because they are in the Dry Cleaning Bag - most likely.  So, instead of spending my Saturday at the mall, perhaps it makes more sense to spend it bringing my stuff to the dry cleaners!   You get the idea.  I learned a lot and brought a lot of attention to some of my habits. 

Needless to say, the timing seemed right to do another one.  I have plenty.  I have more than plenty.  But the credit card hiatus isn't simply a way to save money and recover from holiday spending.  For me, it's about a touch of self discipline, being a little introspective, and really bringing awareness to what I buy and why I buy it. 

I'm not about to get all Thoreau here and I don't think that all consumption is bad.  What I learned the last time I did this was there are some things that really make me happy - splurging at a specialty grocery store or finding a shoe exactly like the ones I wish I had bought while traveling.  I work hard and there's nothing wrong with treating myself.  The goal of this exercise is to just continue to cut away the things that don't bring me much joy or use, leaving more room and resources for the things that do!  


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recap

Another fantastic holiday season comes to a close and what a nice December it was.  My husband and I were talking over the Christmas weekend that while we do have some very true traditions - the extended family party I spoke about last week, my mother's true love of giving all of us far more presents than we could ever possibly want or need - Christmas for my husband and I also changes a bit year to year.  We've celebrated in Brazil with his family, we've celebrated in Massachusetts with my entire family and this year we celebrated at our house...just the two of us.  It was as sweet a Christmas as I can remember and I must say, I'm kind of enjoying the no-two-years-are-the-same "tradition" we've established.

 I tried to soak up every minute of the calm, relaxed Christmas we had this year.  In the spirit of of our anti-tradition tradition it might be awhile before we have another one quite like this. 

*We didn't even do a tree this year!!  But $10 and a trip to the Home Depot Garden Center got us exactly where we needed to be.  I put a wreath in the front hall so the house would smell like fir and some plants and greenery to make the living room feel alive.  Voila.  Plenty Festive and almost no clean up!     

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas 2011 Blog Favorites

I say it over and over, but I'll say it once again - every single day I am humbled, amazed, entertained and inspired by the artistic genius of everyday bloggers.   This Christmas season was no different.  So many beautiful home decor tips, inspiring gift ideas and wonderfully written posts.  Here are a few that really struck me.  I hope your holiday is full of love, warmth, and peace.  Merry Christmas, friends.

#1. Courtesy of My Sweet Savannah.  I love this idea if you're hosting Christmas morning. 

#2. Elizabeth at The Littlest has the most wonderful way with words.  She offered her own family tradition and a wonderful suggestion if you're feeling overwhelmed with too many gifts.  What a nice idea!

something you want,
something you need,
one little something,
and something to read!

#3. Stephmodo is one of my daily favorites.  I love her aesthetic and point of view.  ....and apparently her wrapping!   So clean, fresh and fun!

#4. Wow, have holiday cards come along way.  There's now Minted and Tinyprints and even little old Shutterfly has really stepped up its game.  But these ones were my favorite this year!  Paperculture cards courtesy of Whoorl

#5. Lastly, this post from Soulemama.  I have no idea how I first came across this blog...but I am so thankful that I did.  It is full of the most beautiful writing and reflections.  It is a gorgeous, gorgeous reminder to me of the importance to slow down, inhale, and really live the life we are all living. 

It's a delicate and constant journey, this attempt at simple living, isn't it? Especially in the midst of the not-always-so-"simple" details that make up our days with five little ones. Especially in the midst of homeschooling or homesteading or trying to make a living doing what you love. Especially in the midst of trying to keep track of seven human beings worth of wool socks on cold mornings like today, just for one silly, but true little example. At times like that "simple" can sometimes seem like a far-off distant concept or even a laughable dream.

And yet, it's here, really, within us all when we look for it, and something we all feel harmony and peace from when the balance is walked well. 

I've been thinking about that a lot this holiday season, as our family has grown just a little bit more this year; as we've learned from years past where perhaps we did too much; and as our children grow, and with them, our own traditions take root and stand firmly on their own. I've been thinking a lot about meaningful simplicity as we balance just how much we take on, give out, let in during this could-be-busy season. 

One day in late October, I found myself alone with Annabel, waiting for our ballet boys. Feeling a little melancholic about the winding-down days of our own garden, I decided to wander in a nearby garden nursery. In the greenhouse, with babe on my chest, I walked the aisles. The paperwhites were there, and I bought more than I ever have before. It felt a little indulgent, to be honest. I took them up to the counter to pay before I had time to change my mind.

In recent days, those little bulbs have become such a source of light for me. As we determine just what we do in our days this holiday season, I've been checking in - in my mind and with my eyes - with those growing little flowers, as a metaphor for so many other things in our lives and hearts. Are we noticing them? Is our pace one at which we can watch those flowers grow? 

The first round of those planted bulbs live in every room of the house, and this morning are just about to burst forth with flowers. I'm certain it will happen by lunchtime.
It feels like magic. It is, really. How lucky we all are to notice.

Amanda Blake Soule, Soulemama

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mini Farmhouse

This mini farmhouse tour courtesy of Apartment Therapy has my name written all over it.  I love it's simple, eclectic style.  It's minimalist charm.  It's clean, cozy New England feel.  Check out the complete tour at Apartment Therapy, here is a sneak preview. 

(all photos via Apartment Therapy)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Haunting but Lovely...

Once in awhile I read something and it just sticks and haunts me for the next few days.  This wasn't really what I intended to post today, on this cheery Wednesday before Christmas, but it came across my desk  and it just never left my mind.  Haunting, chilling, beautiful and in my opinion whole heartedly true...

The top 10 things dead people want to tell living people are:
1. They're not dead.
2. They're sorry for any pain they caused.
3. There's no such thing as a devil or hell.
4. They were ready to go when they went.
5. You're not ready.
6. They finally understand what they were missing.
7. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the moment you arrive.
8. Don't try to understand this now, but life is exceedingly fair.
9. Your pets are as crazy, brilliant and loving, here, as they were there.
10. Life really is all about love, but not just loving those who love you...

In their own words,
The Universe

And so as to not be completely morbid, this was interesting.  I searched "Heaven" on Pinterest to come up with an image for this post and the most interesting collection of photos came up.   Here you go, heaven as intrepreted by Pinterest :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wise Old Abe...

“When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Every man's happiness is his own responsibility.”  - Abraham Lincoln

"My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure." - Abraham Lincoln

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” - Abraham Lincoln

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” - Abraham Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves" - Abraham Lincoln

Monday, December 19, 2011


What a wonderful weekend.  It was hectic and rushed and busy but it was perfect.  Because of our travel schedules, this weekend was our family Christmas.  Every year, on the Sunday before Christmas we all get together to carry on the tradition my grandfather and his 7 siblings started more than 70 years ago.  By now, there are 5 generations in attendance.  There are 90 year olds and newborns.  Each year spouses and babies are added.  Each year the party grows.  Our family grows.  It's an incredibly casual event; there is no pressure, no dress code, no rules for the kids to follow.  They sing Christmas songs and Santa visits. When we were kids we sat on his lap to get our early Christmas present, now it's my nieces turn.

Everyone is busy. We all have more work, school and social commitments than we can even manage. But for this one Sunday everyone pauses and makes it their priority to be there and this year was no different.  Once again it was a packed house... a special moment for everyone.  This is our family.  This is who we are.  And this is what it's about.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Letting Go...

This is about the time of the holiday season where the excitement becomes a bit more stress and a bit less fun.  But it's also the time that I need to get better at saying, "well, that was a good intention but it's not happening.  maybe next year"  Mastering that, and feeling genuinely ok about it, is the key to really enjoying the season.  and the key to enjoying most things.  It's easy for me to get caught up in the perfection of it all but the truth is, the details are fun but the moment that they start being a chore and one more thing to worry about is precisely the time that the details just aren't worth it.  So what if dessert is going to be brownies from a box and not that fun dessert that I tagged to make back in October.  Really, does it matter?  Does it make my holiday any different?  Nope.  The people matter.  The happy moments together matter. The thoughtful things that you *enjoyed* doing matter.  The rest of it --- maybe next year, if I start early enough...

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Moving a little slow around here today thanks to a fun work party last night.  Feeling grateful to work with such a nice and generous group but it would be nice to have stayed in bed a little longer today... 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Maya Angelou said, "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."   Having this little blog really made that statement all the more accurate.  When I was a passive reader I would wonder how people possibly came up with things to say everyday.  But now that I've been doing a daily post for a few months, I feel I have more to say, not less to say.  It's really been an amazing and beneficial gift to myself.  If you're reading and feeling a little stuck in yourself, I highly recommend getting started.  I make a real conscious effort to keep this place for me.  I don't write to appease anyone, I don't try and touch on topics that may or may not be popular.  I just write what's on my mind that morning.  I try not to edit or overly fuss with whatever it is I'm saying.  I just say it, post it and carry on with the rest of my day... 

The awesome thing about blogging is anyone can do it - as much or as little as you want.  You can be anonymous or publicize it.  You can use it to make money, to express yourself, to keep in touch with friends, or just as an online journal.  There is nothing it needs to be.  It's been a great exercise in 'enjoying the process'.   Often I get bogged down with results, practicality or efficiency.  This little space serves as an excellent reminder to just enjoy the ride...

And on a completely unrelated note, what a pretty and easy way to bring some holiday to my dining room.  Enjoy your day!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter Boots

I'm partial to these classics vs. Hunter rain boots.   Just sayin'....

Monday, December 12, 2011


Something that I truly struggle with in my diet is a lack of water.  I've never formally kept track of how much water I drink but I know it is an alarmingly small amount.  Tsk, tsk.  In an effort to stay healthy this holiday season, I bought myself a few lemons and filled my travel mug with warm water and a slice of lemon as I headed to work.  It wasn't bad...  actually kind of refreshing... I could get used to this. 

 You can google "water with lemon" and see the results for yourself but really, it seems like we all should be starting our day in this way.  It's a source of Vitamin C, jumpstarts metabolism, improves digestion, balances pH, reduces bloating, aids in symptoms of colds and allergies and on and on....  Ok, I'm convinced!  So here goes.  A little pre-new year resolution with some help from this blog to keep me honest. 

(image and image)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Restoration Hardware

Restoration Hardware is not only right up my alley in home decor but they have some of the very best stocking stuffer and unique gifts out there.  Perfect for that hard-to-buy-for receipient. 

They are having a friends and family sale from now until December 13 and many things are 20-30% off.  Act quick because they usually sell out! 

French herb window sill set.  Practical and lovely with those antique pots!

Artist Set.  So neat for that person looking to develop their inner artist in 2012

Old School Magic Eight Ball.  Which I am totally buying when the kids are a little older! :)

They also have RH Baby, with some of the sweetest baby gifts and plush toys and apparel. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giving to Little Ones

My sister has two girls and my brother has two boys.  They are roughly the same ages - 2.5 and less than 6 months.  Since the day the older two have been born, I've tried to be as "fair" as possible in terms of gift giving.  I have usually given them either the same gift, if it was unisex, or the boy/girl variation of the same gift.  Now that there's 4 of them and they're getting older and their tastes are more defined, this is getting harder to do!  

There's also my personal dilemma of over consumption.  Fortunately for me, we are all in agreement that more is not necessarily better and I am proud to say that although the kids have plenty they do not have a sickening amount of stuff.  My sister and brother both do a commendable job of not letting things get completely out of hand (trying to control Grammy's buying is a story for a different day :) )  That said, I try and give them something somewhat practical but still fun.  Here's what I went with this year.

Personalized plates from Sarah + Abraham.  Super cute, practical and I got a unique one for all 4 of them.

For the two older kids, I chose the Giant Play and Learn Activity Book.  I read a couple of really great reviews and it seems like it has some fun activities for them to do in the long winter months.

For the younger two, I'm doing this personalized Christmas book.  I gave personalized books to the older two for their first birthdays so I don't want the little ones to feel left out (when the time comes that they know what's going on!)  
And that should do it.  Cross the kiddos off my list for another year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Life Reports II

Just an excellent article by the ever wise David Brooks.

It reminds me of the This I Believe series on NPR --- something I really enjoyed. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


“This house sheltered us, we spoke, we loved within those walls. That was yesterday. Today we pass on, we see it no more, and we are different, changed in some infinitesimal way. We can never be quite the same again.”  - Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

What does your community mean to you?  My hometown was a very special place.  My parents have moved and my siblings and I no longer live there, however there is a part of me that remains tied to it.  Recently, some not so great news has bestowed upon the town and my heart goes out to everyone that is involved.  I hope that the community's best days are not behind it.  There is a future generation that deserves the very same greatness that I had.  I was raised in a town that I have always been proud to say that I am from.  I was raised in a town that has given me extraordinary memories and lifelong friends.  I was raised in a town where teachers truly cared about us. 

I have no intention to raise my family in that town.  As wonderful as it was, it's important for me to create new and unique memories for my family.  However, when I search for a place to raise my children, I will look for many of the characteristics that my hometown possessed.  I will be looking for a place with good neighbors, a place with people who know the right thing to do, a place where people care not only what is best for themselves but what is best for the community.  Despite currrent events, I remain optimistic that I will be able to find it.


Monday, December 5, 2011


I received a box of high quality, personalized stationary when I got married.  It remains one of my favorite gifts.  I like that I was able to use it right away, it didn't require my husband to build a shelf in the basement for safe keeping, and that it has lasted me more than five years.  To me, the best gifts to give are ones that have been favorites to receive....just be sure in this case that the bride-to-be is changing her name!

A college friend got married in Bermuda recently and didn't do a traditional registry.  They live on the island and space is at a premium.  Rather than just bring a check, I wanted to give her something to celebrate the marriage.  Enter --- a great site with modern designs for personalized stationary.  The paper quality is very nice and I like the rounded edges of the card stock.   They also have fantastic and unique holiday cards.   I'll be back Paper Culture!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Keeping track of time....

Calendars have come such a long way.  There are literally countless, countless, variations for everyone on your shopping list.  I am doing my best to restrain myself --- but I did buy one for our kitchen from Jenna at Sweet Fine Day.  Not only is it gorgeous, but her blog is one of my absolute favorites so in some ways I feel that by buying it I am contributing to all of the greatness she shares with me every day.  ....but let's not kid ourselves, it's stunning.

Here are a few others I have my eye on:
Europe, 4x6.  I love the 4x6 calendars for my desk at work. A great excuse to day-dream of some far away place I'd rather be.
Art, Full Year.  I have admired Michelle Armas' work for a long time.  Her calendar is a great and affordable way to bring some of her beauty into your home.
Red, Color.  Red isn't my color of choice but what a stunning calendar if someone you know is crazy about it.  I'm totally impressed.
Letterpress, Coasters.  If you're looking for something different, this letterpress calendar is in the shape of coasters and has front and back design.  What a cute hostess gift with a 6 pack of craft brew!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vata, Pitta, Kapha...

Have you read about Ayurveda?  The word translates to the Science of Life and it is an ancient system that recognizes there are three essential energies (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) that govern our mind and body.  Each of us has a unique combination of these and if you're interested, you can take a simple test via Deepak Chopra's website and learn which one is dominant within you. 

My test reveals that I bend towards Pitta.  According to Ayurveda, if Pitta dominates we tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented with a strong appetite for life.  Yep. I'd say that's accurate.   However, when Pitta is out of balance a person can be compulsive, irritable and can suffer from indigestion or inflammation problems.  Yep.  I'd say that's accurate too.  

The goal of Aruyveda is to learn how to maintain a balance of the three energies.  By balancing your vata, pitta and kapha energy through sensory exercises - diet, music, aromatherapy, meditation - you can aim to keep your energies in good proportion.  Proper balance will help keep your body, mind and spirit in good health.

Here is a little more about Pitta via The Chopra Centre for Wellness:

"Balancing Pitta requires opening up some space during your day so you are not perpetually generating friction. Think soothing and cooling. Here are some tips to maximize balance and well-being:

  • Take a yoga class – it's non-competitive yet will still give you a great workout
  • Perform a daily self massage with soothing herbalized oil
  • Take deep breaths throughout the day
  • Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol – it fuels the fire
  • Eat your largest meal of the day at lunch and favor cooling foods with a predominance of bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes
  • Drink Soothing Tea
  • Put your full attention on your meals when eating
  • Stay cool
  • Meditate twice a day to calm the mind and soothe the body
  • Find time each day to un-plug and relax
  • Wear soothing fragrances
  • Listen to medium tempo melodies
  • Minimize heavy reading, eating, or watching TV right before bed
  • Diffuse soothing fragrances into your environment
  • Favor cool and soft colors – blues, greens and white
  • Spend time each day communing with nature"
So interesting.