Monday, November 30, 2009

Full of thanks

This post was supposed to be written last week, in preparation for Thanksgiving, but life throws you curve balls that interfere with plans. And that was precisely the point I was going to make. It's how we deal with those curve balls that matter.

I'm one of those -- an optimist, through and through. :) I can't help it. I think it stems from my teen years, which I've mentioned a bit on this blog. I had enough sad days then, and since then I just can't stand to be sad or depressed. It makes me physically uncomfortable, I hate it so much.

That's not to say I don't deal with the bad things in life -- I do. I realized a long time ago, when things are at the lowest, doing something, anything helps -- it gives you power and control back. So when things go bad, my control is to look at the good.

I was going to write about some trivial things in this post last week. Things like when the sitter cancels on your night out with friends or the hubby, and seeing that as a good turn of events -- looking at it as a chance to spend unexpected time with your children. And how many, many people in this world would do anything to have children to spend time with.

Or when the car breaks down and you can't get where you wanted to go -- I rationalize things like that by thinking it was probably best I didn't go. Would you call that fate? I just feel when something like that happens, I wasn't supposed to be in that car, at that time, on that road. I think there's a higher power at work and we often forget that, especially at the annoying times.

I was also going to talk about the more serious circumstances, like when I fell down half a flight of cement stairs a couple weeks ago -- holding my son. It was probably the scariest moment of my life. He hit his head, and I could barely walk afterwards. Within seconds he seemed fine, and after a trip to the ER, we found out he was indeed OK and my ankle (that was triple it's normal size) was only badly sprained.

I felt sorry for myself for about two seconds, and then I was overcome with thankfulness that it was just me that was hurt -- and it was just an ankle. How incredibly fortunate that my son was not hurt worse. The what ifs ran through my head and they were not good. So as I've hobbled around for the past two weeks, I've been reminding myself how thankful I am that that's all it was. I can handle with a sprained ankle any day of the week.

This is the way I deal, and it works for me. But my optimism was tested last week. We got news that my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. I simply cannot put into words how I feel. I won't even try. For the first few hours after we found out, I could barely breath. It was like someone was sitting on my chest. Then, there were the tears, and tears. And tears. My heart is breaking for my husband. It's breaking for my stepdaughter, my sister-in-law, my nephews, for me. For my son.

And now, this bad, horrible news, has yet again taught me to see the good. It was confirmed today that his doctors think he has at least six months with us -- maybe even a year. My heart is heavy. I want to cry again and again. But I also can't help to think how fortunate are we to be able to spend this time with him over the next year. To do special things, take pictures, to create new memories.

For our son to get to know his Grandpa even better.

Every year my father-in-law cooks an authentic Mexican fiesta meal for us and our friends, usually in the fall. He obviously hasn't been feeling great, so we skipped it this year. But now, we're going to have the fiesta the week before Christmas. We will gather around him to cook our Mexican feast with him, and it will be something I'm sure none of us will ever forget. (And yes, it is as good as it sounds!)

I just can't focus on the bad. It's against my nature. I have to look to the good, and there will be much good that will come over the next year. I am sure of that.

If I can, I am asking a favor of all of you. I would really appreciate your prayers. For my father-in-law, that he feels as good as possible for as long as possible. And for my husband and his sister, that they feel comfort and peace right now. I really, really appreciate it. I am so thankful for all of you.

** I am reposting this in Live Writer since Blogger wasn’t picking it up for some reason. I apologize for the two posts!

Changes in Latitudes.Changes in Attitudes

Every year, I say that I want to spend New Year's somewhere warm and sunny and every year, I spend it in cold New York. Except for the year I spent it in even colder Stockholm but that's a story for another day. After seeing Oscar and Annette de la Renta's Punta Cana house in the Dominican Republic, I feel like trying to finally make this dream a reality! While I can't stay at their not so humble abode seen in these photos, I could make do at the also chic Puntacana Resort. Anyone else want to come?












Photos by Francois Halard

Full of thanks

This post was supposed to be written last week, in preparation for Thanksgiving, but life throws you curve balls that interfere with plans. And that was precisely the point I was going to make. It's how we deal with those curve balls that matter.

I'm one of those -- an optimist, through and through. :) I can't help it. I think it stems from my teen years, which I've mentioned a bit on this blog. I had enough sad days then, and since then I just can't stand to be sad or depressed. It makes me physically uncomfortable, I hate it so much.

That's not to say I don't deal with the bad things in life -- I do. I realized a long time ago, when things are at the lowest, doing something, anything helps -- it gives you power and control back. So when things go bad, my control is to look at the good.

I was going to write about some trivial things in this post last week. Things like when the sitter cancels on your night out with friends or the hubby, and seeing that as a good turn of events -- looking at it as a chance to spend unexpected time with your children. And how many, many people in this world would do anything to have children to spend time with.

Or when the car breaks down and you can't get where you wanted to go -- I rationalize things like that by thinking it was probably best I didn't go. Would you call that fate? I just feel when something like that happens, I wasn't supposed to be in that car, at that time, on that road. I think there's a higher power at work and we often forget that, especially at the annoying times.

I was also going to talk about the more serious circumstances, like when I fell down half a flight of cement stairs a couple weeks ago -- holding my son. It was probably the scariest moment of my life. He hit his head, and I could barely walk afterwards. Within seconds he seemed fine, and after a trip to the ER, we found out he was indeed OK and my ankle (that was triple it's normal size) was only badly sprained.

I felt sorry for myself for about two seconds, and then I was overcome with thankfulness that it was just me that was hurt -- and it was just an ankle. How incredibly fortunate that my son was not hurt worse. The what ifs ran through my head and they were not good. So as I've hobbled around for the past two weeks, I've been reminding myself how thankful I am that that's all it was. I can handle with a sprained ankle any day of the week.

This is the way I deal, and it works for me. But my optimism was tested last week. We got news that my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. I simply cannot put this into words how I feel. I won't even try. For the first few hours after we found out, I could barely breath. It was like someone was sitting on my chest. Then, there were the tears, and tears. And tears. My heart is breaking for my husband. It's breaking for my stepdaughter, my sister-in-law, my nephews, for me. For my son.

And now, this bad, horrible news, has yet again taught me to see the good. It was confirmed today that his doctors think he has at least six months with us -- maybe even a year. My heart is heavy. I want to cry again and again. But I also can't help to think how fortunate are we to be able to spend this time with him over the next year. To do special things, take pictures, to create new memories.

For our son to get to know his Grandpa even better.

Every year my father-in-law cooks an authentic Mexican fiesta meal for us and our friends, usually in the fall. He obviously hasn't been feeling great, so we skipped it this year. But now, we're going to have the fiesta the week before Christmas. We will gather around him to cook our Mexican feast with him, and it will be something I'm sure none of us will ever forget. (And yes, it is as good as it sounds!)

I just can't focus on the bad. It's against my nature. I have to look to the good, and there will be much good that will come over the next year. I am sure of that.

If I can, I am asking a favor of all of you. I would really appreciate your prayers. For my father-in-law, that he feels as good as possible for as long as possible. And for my husband and his sister, that they feel comfort and peace right now. I really, really appreciate it. I am so thankful for all of you.

Seven Things You May Not Know

About a month ago a fellow blogger, Emmie of Aspirations of a Southern Housewife, gave me a Kreativ Blogger Award. Emmie writes a wonderful blog, do stop by and check it out!
Thank you Emmie for nominating me. You need to share seven things about yourself. I tend to be a rather private person, so I have been hesitant, but here they are in no particular order.
I am an incredible procrastinator but also an over achiever/Type A personality. This causes me lots of stress in my down time but very concentrated blocks of productivity during my work time.
I am half Italian and half Portuguese, My grandparents on both sides came to America in their youth and spoke only broken English. I love my heritage. I am very expressive and passionate about life, actually about almost everything.
Of all the areas of design my favorite is kitchen design and spacial planning. I really should have been a kitchen designer; perhaps someday I can play one on TV.
I have an incurable antique furniture habit. My basement and attic are filled with furniture that will someday find the perfect home - but until then happily reside in spaces above and below where we actually live.
I love puppets. I wanted to be a Puppetry major in college but my parents thought it was irresponsible. Instead, at their urging, I entered college as Accounting major (what a laugh!)
I am a mother of two beautiful children. They are amazing people and they make me laugh everyday. I can not imagine what my life would have been like with out them.
I believe we are all connected somehow and that we need to be good to one another. I try to be a better person every single day.

I am also suppose to nominate seven other blogs for this award, but I am interested in so many blogs I couldn't possibly choose. So, if you would like to share anything about yourself, please consider yourself nominated. I would love to know more about YOU!
xx-Gina

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Christmas mantel, au naturale

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I’m so glad you all loved the mantel inspiration photos! I was so inspired by the natural looks and all the “fluff” – I think it worked for our mantel as well. I spent much of today messing around and having fun with it. I’m so pleased with the final result, I hope you love it too!

I started with natural looking pics of greenery from Big Lots – I used three at $3 each. I just laid one on each end of the mantel, one in the middle, flattening them out as much as possible:

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Then, I took the magnolias and all of the glammy (word?) stuff out of the greenery I had used last year (see previous post), then just folded it in half, and it ended up being exactly the length I needed. I laid it right on top of the greenery above.

Because I really loved the look of the long pine needles, I used more garland from Big Lots, for $9, and cut it up into a bunch of pieces, just sticking it here and there in the greenery. Then I cut up some sparkly branches and stuffed them in too:

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The BL garland had the huge pinecones in it, but I added a few more of my own as well.

I took my clearance WalMart lanterns from our deck and repurposed them to work on the mantel. I was so pleased with how it turned out…

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I was still craving a little somethin’ though – some color! I just can’t do completely natural – it’s against my nature. ;) So I cut up some red beady stuff I had and stuffed it in here and there, and then hung my dollar store stars from each piece of ironwork:

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I took some of the beady thingamabobs and sprinkled them on the pinecones in the lanterns:

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Which was super easy to do, because the blasted things were flying off everywhere anyway. Argh.

The result? Lurve:

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I found this little reindeer at HomeGoods and I seriously could not resist him. Adorable. He picks up the red touches in the mantel perfectly:

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Hang in there – I took a crazy amount of pictures…

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I used dollar store candleholders in the lanterns, and made them a bit taller by putting them on top of blocks of wood. I wanted to put faux snow in the lanterns, but they only open in the front, so it was next to impossible to get the snow in there. (Believe me, I tried.) So I just used my fluffy snow stuff instead:

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Because the greenery is so full (sigh), I propped up the lanterns and the tree with books and boxes so they wouldn’t disappear. You can’t even see them when you look at the mantel:

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Do you luuuuurve it? Huh? Do ya??

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I hope so! I do. I had so much fun with this! One more mantel to go, and I hope to have that up this week. It’s MUCH simpler though. :)

The winner of Pampering Beki’s necklace giveaway is Melissa Howard from Melissa and Cas – please email me and I’ll get you in touch with Beki! I still haven’t heard from Kat at Measuring my life in love who was the winner of the vinyl giveaway – Kat, give me a holler! Enjoy ladies!

P.S. Did anyone watch the Behind the Magic Disney special on HGTV tonight? OMG – it was fantastic. (Popcorn as big as my head! Sixty-five foot trees people!) Check out a rerun if you get a chance! Spectacular!!

Holiday Traditions

I started decorating for Christmas this weekend and one of my favorite traditions is making pomanders. Pomanders are clove studded oranges, or in this case clementines since they looked better than the oranges at the store. They fill the house with a wonderful holiday scent and look pretty displayed with greenery and pine cones. I used to make these with my mother growing up and I've continued the tradition since moving away. What are the holiday traditions that you grew up with that you carry on today? Is there anything you've changed? Anything that you would never do again? I'd love to hear your stories!

Photo by Heather Clawson for Habitually Chic

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Cards

I've already started writing out my holiday cards this year so I can get them out earlier than I did last year! I've also had a few readers ask me where I buy my cards so I thought I would share a few suggestions.

For custom holiday cards, you can try Crane's, Dempsey & Carroll, and William Arthur. Personalized cards are obviously more expensive so you have to think about how much you want to spend. Even though they are preprinted, you should still personalize them by writing the recipients name, a quick message and handwriting your name.

I usually pick a few cards each year so I can send the right style to the right person. I am also lucky since there are always great cards available with a New York theme or photo. The cards from R. Nichols are always fun and cheerfully reflect Christmas in New York. I also bought an assortment of holiday cards with black and white photos of a snowy New York that are perfect for friends who don't celebrate Christmas. Kate's Paperie always has a great assortment to choose from each year.

There are also a lot of smaller printers for letterpress cards and even hand made options on Etsy. My original idea this year was to have my cards printed using a photo that I took but I ran out of time so that will have to wait until next year. Family photo cards are obviously good options for families with children or cute pets.

One of the best ideas for holiday cards are those that benefit a worthy cause. UNICEF, Robin Hood Foundation, and the ASPCA are just a few charities with their own cards.

I'm sure your friends and family will be happy to receive which ever holiday card you choose because really, it's the thought that counts! Happy Holidays!

Lazy susan yarn swift

Porro made this cool yarn swift from a Rationell Variera pot lid organizer and Snudda Lazy Susan. It's pretty easy to achieve too. Just mark the spots where you want to place the lid organizers. Drill holes and screw them in.





Visit her blog for her yarn swift instructions.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas mantels

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Hello there! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a lovely day with scrumptious food – all made by moi thankyouverymuch. I done good folks. I don’t cook often, but when I do, it’s pretty darn great. (YES, you heard right Dad, I DO cook.)  :)

I’m getting closer with the Christmas decor – not sure it’s going to happen by Monday, but I’m having fun with it, and that’s what matters most, right? One of my favorite spots to decorate is our family room mantel. It’s an odd shape (corner fireplace) so it requires some thunkin’ on my part.

Last year, I was obsessed with magnolias, so the top picture is what I came up with. I really adored it, but because it’s in our family room, I’m hoping to tone it down a bit this year – I’m thinking a little more natural, a teensy bit more fun, a little less glam. I’m still going to work in the magnolia’s – at least I hope to. They are gorg

To get some inspiration, I browsed through the Internet last night and I found some beautiful ideas I wanted to share.

The penguins are the cutest idea yet, and the the other is just classic:

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I LOVE the simple glass vases with white “snow” on the penguin mantel – how easy yet beautiful!

The idea on the left below is where my mind is heading…big fluffy pieces of greenery shooting out everywhere (photo courtesy of Country Living). I love the use of ironwork on the one on the right:

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Again, simple but fluffy on the left. The picture on the right isn’t a mantel, obviously, but I LOVE the swag and vinyl lettering on the mirror, and the snow globes on the candleholders. Brilliant!:

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The left below is F.U.N. and sooooo easy to do. The right mantel is classic, but what really drew me to this picture was the huge disco ball (?) ornament (?) hanging from the ceiling, complete with greenery. You know how I love me some greenery:

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Below, classic yet again (can you tell my style?) – one with just a bit of greenery, the other with a boatload of candles. Both oooooh so pretty!:

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This one I loved because it could be an ode to my hubs…he would LOVE this. I don’t know why instruments work so well for the holidays, but they scream festive to me, especially when they are displayed like this:

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What do you think? Love them? Our mantel is coming together in my head…right now it’s just a pile of fluff and stuff. I hope to show you later on this weekend!

Oh, and I haven’t forgotten about the winner of the jewelry giveaway…but the turkey has knocked me out for a second night in a row. I’ll announce that this weekend too.  :)  Patience grasshopper…