Monday, November 25, 2013

Uh, Yeah, I'm Pinterest Saavy!

This is the time of year when my creativity goes into overdrive and I put all this pressure on myself to accomplish all these projects that my life can't really handle. Case in point ... tonight, dear beloved (sometimes a jackass) husband wants me to join he and his sister at dinner since his sister's life long best friend is coming into town and we're Facebook friends. I'm super excited to meet her, I feel like we have bonded over some similar experiences BUT I have made some weirdo decision to make "stuffin muffins" for our office potluck tomorrow. #1, I'm not the greatest cook but #2 I am going to attempt to make something for the first time that many strangers will eat and remember for the entire next year. This involves shopping for the ingredients tonight, getting home and cooking while also keeping with my goal to have my TOTAL house clean for my Thanksgiving guests. Yes, no shoving everything in the bedroom and closing the door, I want everything to be clean so that any guest can wander in any room without fear on my part. Believe it or not, I did have a guest once that opened a closed door because she wanted to see "all" of my house .... I was mortified because everything was literally shoved into that room which was not clean. Besides, in my world, an organized house is an organized mind and I SOOOOOOOO need to get there. The dear beloved (sometimes a jackass) husband offered to do the ingredient shopping for me AND help me cook it when we got home if I'd join dinner plans, so I agreed. In the meantime, the snow is falling here in Lake Forest, Illinois and I am enjoying my lunch on a very busy work day.

Anyway, back to the original point before I rambled.... I am Pinterest saavy! I know you had no doubt. I laid my eyes on a picture that I just fell in love with and I knew it was born to be on my coffee table as part of my holiday decorating. My goal on these projects is always to put it together with re-purposed items or do it really inexpensively and boy did I excel for a beautiful end result on this one. I did it for UNDER $25!

Isn't it beautiful? I got the tray from Meijer for $7 ... wasn't quite what I had in mind, but I really love it after putting it together. I got the miscellaneous wood things on the tray in a value bag at Hobby Lobby for $5. I got the candlesticks at Big Lots ON CLEARANCE for $2.50 each. I got the pitcher at Ross Dress for Less for $4.99 (it really was too ugly for anyone to buy but fit so nicely into my scheme). I had the candles at home and got the sticks at the dollar store and threw in a $.99 glittery pick for some color.

I am so thrilled by the end result and so sad that it will go into storage on Sunday when I put up the Xmas decorations. I am giving some thought to creating something along the same lines though for Xmas. Super excited! More on that to follow!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I am a terrible blogger as I've gone dark for many many months. I so apologize and appreciate all of the emails I received to keep writing. The truth of the matter is that I took a big leap of faith in a new job. I didn't take the job because I knew I could do it or for any real reason other than it felt like a big risk, a big opportunity and I wanted to take the less safe route. After 8 years in a job I loved that I was forced to leave because it was sold, I took a position with a well known brand in the hopes that it would turn into something wonderful. Unfortunately, someone's mislaid plan was filled with holes and areas of weakness and the concept didn't survive. I got out before it folded because I could see the writing on the wall but I learned so much about myself in the process. I got to see a case of "mean girls" in action, I got to see what picking favorites does to a team and I got to witness that patience really is a virtue and good things only come to those who wait. I was fortunate enough to have been a bit hunted by someone who could see my passion and my talents. I have since taken a job with another well known brand and have been given the opportunity to create it all from scratch, the one thing I really love doing. I mentioned that I spent 8 years in a job that I truly loved and I think that the job has been reincarnated into this new one. I am overjoyed. So, that brings me to why I've been absent, I have just been so busy and will continue to be busy over the next several months until it all comes together.

Unfortunately, we're coming to that time of year that adds so much on to my plate and the time when my creativity really goes into overdrive. I can't skip it, I would not only be doing a disservice to myself but I'd be cheating my family out of the tradition I try so hard to carry on for them and for future generations.

I had the misfortune of a failed marriage and many years of unintended single parenting. I made a conscious choice for 10 years to not re-marry and eventually found the man meant for me who also brought 2 wonderful children into my life. Over the years of being single and opting for other places to spend the holidays, my son missed out on a lot of tradition made in our own home. Instead, he has grown to know tradition in someone else's home and I never realized what a mistake that would be until late.

My now husband and I decided a few years back that juggling his children's holiday schedules with their mother, the obligatory holiday meals in our own parents home and trying so hard to keep everyone's tradition intact was making for very stressful holidays for us. Worse, there would be times when one family didn't feel the need to do much for a holiday or chose to take a trip leaving us missing the tradition we had come to known. For this reason we announced that we'd no longer be celebrating the holidays at anyone's home but our own. We created an open invitation for anyone to join if they wanted but made it clear we wouldn't be upset if they chose to forego. We made one exception and that was Christmas. Christmas with each set of grandparents was something that our kids had grown up knowing and really loved. There was a strong sense of tradition with "Christmas at Grandma's" and for this reason that holiday would stay intact. We still put up a Christmas tree and we still opened gifts as a family under the tree on Christmas morning in our own home, but Christmas Eve was spent with one family and Christmas Day with the other. We've had the best of both worlds for many years.

Last year, my family suggested celebrating Christmas a week later to acommodate an out of town family member that, for whatever reason, is not able to be in town for the actual holiday. I immediately refused. I was not opposed to celebrating again a week later but I would under no circumstances interrupt the tradition of Christmas Day for my family when I had gone out of my way to preserve it for so many years. True, my kids are not babies, they are 21, 16 and 13 but with so little tradition upheld in their lives, I vowed to always stay true to Christmas. This year, a little bird has told me that Christmas is going to be celebrated a week later. Although my feelings on this matter are known, the decision has been made that Christmas won't be held on Christmas Day. So, for the first time in my 44 years (except for maybe a year or two that I lived in San Diego) my Christmas morning won't be spent in my parents living room with my family. This will actually be the first Christmas that I don't spend WITH my family on Christmas Day. My heart hurts not only for me but for my kids. For this reason I have realized that I am charged with keeping the true spirit of Christmas alive for my children the best I can. Trying my best to create new traditions for them and the generations to come. This year, Christmas will be in my own living room and celebrated at my own kitchen table and while that breaks my heart, I have to be strong and make it something special for my own family.

I know life changes but this year, my best friend will celebrate her first Christmas without her mom who passed this last June. She is forced with the reality of creating something meaningful that she and her family can carry forward. She doesn't have a choice. I can accept that there will come a time when I won't have a choice and celebrating in my parent's living room won't be an option available anymore but I don't want that option to come when they are still alive. Life is so short and time is so precious. Yes, my children aren't babies and I am 44 years old but the love of the tradition, the need to celebrate what is lost throughout the rest of the year in the daily grind of what is life doesn't change. If just for one day, I like to pretend that nothing has changed since I was a child, waking up on Christmas day to the bewildering sight of presents under the tree, the joy of giving gifts to the people that I love most and celebrating the one day that we preserve as a family day .... I live for that.

I remember when my mother's family stopped gathering at my grandma's house each year. I so looked forward to seeing all of my cousins and relatives, celebrating the holiday together, seeing the awesome, overdone sight of my aunt's gaudy Christmas tree, the strobe lights that engulfed it, drinking cranberry cocktail juice and eating around a big table with people I sometimes only saw once a year. I still long for that one day .... I miss the tradition .... it was one of the best memories I have as a child. I still grieve the loss of that tradition but times change, I guess. I worry that this year is going to be that year for my kids, mostly my son, who has known this his whole life and in some way, shape or form, looks forward to it. My heart breaks for that.

I hope that all of you that still have the choice make a concerted effort to preserve your tradition, no matter how hard or how much effort it takes. If your away from your family by distance, I hope that you make the effort to make the trip and to be there so that you can help to preserve the tradition to have come to be a part of. I hope that if you no longer have the choice because loved ones have passed on that you find a way to create traditions that can be carried forward to your own grandchildren, that you will work hard to give your kids a place that they not only want to come back to each year but feel the gravitational pull to go back to each year. It's important.

I will try to be better at blogging and perhaps I'll share some of what we'll be doing over this holiday season to celebrate our family and create new tradition.

<3 <3 <3