Happy Valentine's Day to My Home

I’m in love with my home.

Yes, I have an actual Valentine, and I have four children who are my loves but my home also holds my heart.


It’s my hope that everyone could find a true love like this:

  • We love spending time together. There’s no place else I’d rather be than inside my home’s four walls with the ones I love.

  • My home holds everyone and everything I love under one roof. {disclaimer: my parents don’t live here but I love them just as much}

  • I’ve made mistakes with my home; too many to count. I’ve painted the wrong color, I’ve chosen the wrong chair, I’ve hosted the wrong parties. But still my house forgives and lets me continue to pull and tug at her windows and floors.

  • We’ve seen our share of therapy and made it through the tough times: plumbers for clogged toilets, roofers for loose shingles, glass repairmen, heating & air specialists, and sink hole fixers {to name but a few}.

  • We’ve shared all four seasons together…summer running through the sprinklers with the kids, carving pumpkins on the counter in the fall, hanging stockings on the mantel at Christmas and coloring eggs at the first sign of spring.

  • I may try to change my home from time to time {I know what’s best, right?}, but she loves me anyway despite my constant nagging and second-guessing.

  • Sometimes we watch some racy stuff together after the kids go to bed. Mostly HGTV shows like Fixer Upper and Beachfront Bargain Hunt.  There’s no jealousy involved; we’re just gathering ideas to try out on our own.

  • My home doesn’t seem to mind if we are hard on her. A height chart drawn right on the door casing? Done. Spray paint on the front of the house? No problem. That’s unconditional love right there.

  • There have been a few (thankfully not many) sad days at our house…mostly just fighting between siblings {sister runs around pinching brothers because she hates loves them so much}. Oh and the long nights of strep throat or tummy aches, how could I forget? Those things only make us closer.

{imagine my surprise when I walked outside and saw this. scrub and scrub as they might,  it has never quite come off. c’est la vie…}

{imagine my surprise when I walked outside and saw this. scrub and scrub as they might,

it has never quite come off. c’est la vie…}

{…and yes, they’re scrubbing in bike helmets; that’s a whole ‘nother story}

{…and yes, they’re scrubbing in bike helmets;
that’s a whole ‘nother story}

  • My home brings out the best in me. The best colors, patterns and fun sides all wrapped into one.

  • We’ve had fun together, from dinners with friends to birthday celebrations to sleepovers to the usual nights of homework & Disney Channel.

  • My home keeps us safe and warm and shielded from the daily grind of the universe. She’s got arms long enough to wave lovingly goodbye in the mornings, welcome us back in the afternoons & hold us tight all night long.

  • I plan on growing old right along with my home. We’ll just have to overlook each other’s wrinkles/cracks in drywall and gray hair/faded paint.

  • We’ve created a family and memories together that will last a lifetime. And we’ve got the scrapbooks & photo albums to prove it.

Thanks, home, for being you! I wouldn’t trade my {valentine} for anything. Your home can be your Valentine too.  All that’s required is love inside. And remember: don’t ever, ever go to bed mad! Even if we have to be separated someday, we will carry her with us wherever we go.


{after all, home is where the heart is}


Cake Pops!

My mom and I (along with some well-intended help from the kids) made cake pops for the kids' preschool Christmas parties. Basically, they are cake balls on a lollipop stick. Check out the Bakerella website for instructions and tons of cute ideas. 


Although time-consuming, they are relatively easy to make and lots of fun. Not to mention yummy. And as the name says, you can literally POP the whole thing in your mouth! Ours were devils food cake/white icing for the ball, covered in melted red candy coatings. We also melted some green candy coatings, put it in a plastic mustard bottle and drizzled some on top.

While we were working on the pops we stuck them in a floral styrofoam block. For the finishing touch we wrapped each in a tiny treat bag and tied a tag onto it (the kids punched the tag with a heart-shaped hole punch). All the supplies can be found on Amazon.


We had a few left over...but they didn't last long around my house!


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall!

My children's school, Sullins Academy, recently held its annual auction to benefit the school. This is the school's biggest fundraiser and there was no shortage of work done by the students, teachers and moms. Each class has an art project for the live auction and I was in charge of the 3-year-old class (after all, I do have 3 of the 10 toddlers in the class!).

The goal of the project is to do something creative, have each child participate and sell (you hope) to a parent at a high price! I decided to do a mirror surrounded by handpainted tiles fired in the kiln at our local ceramics studio, Kil'n Time (a big thank you to the owners, who graciously donated all the supplies).

All of the classes had amazing art projects, but I must say I am especially proud of Mrs. Oliver's class for doing such a wonderful job! Here is the finished mirror (and my reflection, snapping the photo!):


First, I painted a border around the tiles the kids were to paint, along with each child's name. Then they painted whatever they wanted on the tiles. Mrs. Oliver painted a tile too.


Next, I took pictures of each child (and Mrs. O.), traced them on a tile, and painted a background. Kil'n Time used a special technique to fire the photos in a sepia tone on the tiles. I painted a couple of filler tiles with the school and class name, and voila, we had a finished product that went for $1,200 at the auction! Ok...I must admit that my dad was the one who bought it, but still there were many bidders driving up the price!


I also donated 18 pairs of earrings for the silent auction. Last I checked they were going for around $900, which made me very happy!


I displayed them on this enormous box that almost didn't fit on the silent auction tables. Covered in turquoise burlap (fun but messy) and leopard ribbon, it has an artsy sphere made out of chicken wire at the top.


Before we put the tiles on the mirror, Jackson helped me paint the frame.


His t-shirt may not have helped the Cowboys win, but Sullins definitely won at the auction!


What's in a Name?

Thank you, Initial Presents, Inc. for featuring my kids on your Facebook page!

Initial Presents is an adorable store in Buffalo, New York, owned and operated by my step-sister Debbie and her sister-in-law Patti. They carry every kind of gift you can imagine, ranging from home accessories to jewelry (they've been kind enough to sell my jewelry from time to time!) to clothing. And they do a ton of monogramming...


Debbie and her sisters gave me these cute monogrammed sweaters for my kids a couple of years ago. They have grown since then, of course, but we enjoyed the sweaters and it was fun not to have to tell everyone their names all the time when they wore them!

You can find the sweaters and more on their website (click here) and you can like them on FB by clicking here.

Think of the fun you could have with monogramming! I once saw a college-aged guy who had his phone number monogrammed on his shirt. A not-so-subtle way to advertise that he's available!


A Shot of Turquoise

I love anything and everything turquoise! My son's nursery was turquoise and lime green. I love turquoise walls, dishes, earrings, belts and post-it-notes. Here is my latest turquoise acquisition...cowboy boots with a lovely turquoise swirly pattern!


But wait! If you look closely you might be able to tell...they are rubber! I can wear them out in the rain and snow! I can't wait to try them out this fall and winter. And they are ultra comfy.


A pick up truck like this would be my ultimate turquoise find. But I bet the driver of this one wouldn't be caught dead in rubber cowboy boots.


wWw dot George


Recently my friend Vannessa and I had the rare opportunity, courtesy of my dad, to meet former President George W. Bush at The Olde Farm in Bristol, Virginia. The event was a fundraiser for two schools in Grundy, Virginia: The Appalachian School of Law and The Appalachian College of Pharmacy.

Securing a spot for the evening was, uh, a little pricey, but supporting two great schools and hob-knobbing with a former President was well worth it. No matter your politics, hearing George W speak only a few feet away was the opportunity of a lifetime.


Did I mention the security clearance was no small feat? Social Security numbers, birthdates, deceased pets' names and bra sizes all required. A wave of relief came over us when we got word we had been cleared (apparently the Secret Service had failed to look into our activities of the '80s).

The evening began with cocktails and music in the clubhouse. Luckily I happened to be standing near the door when who should walk in but the President himself! I was star-struck! My heart skipped a beat a minute later when, in front of the crowd, my dad introduced me to him as his daughter...do you think he will remember me if there is a next time?!?

As part of the experience, we were all allowed "one click of the camera per person" with W. Somehow I managed to get two clicks while Secret Service was having a donut break. Up-close and personal, Mr. President was charming, handsome and looking slightly tanned (all the stresses of his former job clearly a distant memory). Vannessa and I almost drooled on his Hickey Freeman suit. He put his arms around us like we were old friends. Vannessa even managed to talk to him for a minute about their similarities, one of which is having reared twin girls.


As if that weren't enough, George W's talk after our Kobe beef dinner was even better (and in case you are wondering, George drank O'Doul's throughout the evening). Vannessa, my cousin David and I sat in awe for nearly two hours. He was down-to-earth, refreshing and real. He talked about Laura (referring to her as "baby") and his girls, the Oval Office (Laura designed a rug for the office with a sun on it for his tenure...we taxpayers now own it), what he misses most (the White House pastry chef and being the most pampered person in the world), and his parents. During his first days as President, his dad was visiting him in the White House when a few men came out of his closet (literally; whether figuratively is for another blog post). George W asked Senior what that was all about and he replied that they were his valets. W said, "valets? We're from Texas! We don't need guys for that!" To which his dad replied, "trust me, son, you'll get used to it!" And he did.

He gave us a "tour" of the Oval Office. Each President may pick a portrait of a former President to hang in the office during his tenure. After careful consideration, Bush chose his father "in his heart" and Abraham Lincoln to hang on the wall (W read over 15 biographies of Lincoln while he was in office). And rather than use a new desk for the Oval Office, W chose one that had been used by both FDR and JFK. Interestingly, the desk had originally been open in the front but FDR added a door so as to hide the fact that he was in a wheelchair (which most Americans of that time did not know, in an age before media). Most of us will remember seeing a picture of John John poking his head out that same door when his dad was President.

On a more somber note, he talked about his immediate reactions upon learning about the events of 9/11. He had none right away; like most of us, he sat in shocked silence.

The evening wrapped with W spending about an hour answering questions. My question to him was how had he shielded his daughters from the media and constant pressures. He answered by saying that that had always been a top priority for his family and he felt the media had been gracious in handling Jenna and Barbara.

I can't wait to read his new book, Decision Points, available November 9th.


One final story to illustrate just how approachable the former President is. A friend of ours had played golf with him that day at The Olde Farm and had worried for a week or more over what attire would be appropriate in such company (even more interesting, the friend is a guy). Solid or striped shirt? Shorts or pants? Boxers or briefs? After much debate with his wife, he finally showed up for the game only to find W in cargo shorts and an untucked shirt (snipers on the hill notwithstanding). It just goes to show that President or not, we all just want to be comfy!


School's In!


I was going to start this entry about my children going to preschool with a note about my little baby birds leaving the nest, but then I realized that not only are they not actually “leaving” the nest, but they are actually commanding more space in the nest—four times the space, in fact!

As it has always been with my little gaggle, starting school means everything comes in fours. First up came four little place settings for breakfast. Even though I was sad to see them off, I wanted them to feel like school was an exciting, happy thing. I wanted to show them that today was no ordinary day, it was the first day of school! How better to do that than with a nice table set with these cheerful plates and glasses?


After breakfast it was time to get their supplies organized. As you can see, the Mommy Marker was out in force (fource? ha!) With four of everything (sometimes more) it would be a nightmare to try and keep supplies organized in any other way. Glue sticks, wipes, bags, shirts, every-every-every-everything gets a name! Labeling everything not only ensures that you send your children out the door with the stuff they need, but they will end up with the correct items when they get there (with a little help from the teacher, of course).


Of course, no schoolchild’s load would be complete without a tasty lunch. My times-foursome is no different! These lunch boxes are not only an absolute blast and super cute, but they also make it easy for each of my children to find his or her lunch among all the others (I guarantee nobody else in class will have one like it!).


So there you have it. You know, it used to be when my children left the house I had to keep track of four sets of clothes, diapers, and bottles. Now it’s four lunch boxes, glue sticks, and backpacks! Where did the time go?!


May I have the attention of the class?

While attending a recent law school reunion in Williamsburg I happened to visit my favorite bar in the area, the Greenleafe. Lo and behold, my wandering eye found this:


It's an old chalkboard with what looks to be every MBL team logo sketched out in colored chalk. As was the case with the cars in my last entry, I simply don't know what the story is here. I do know, however, that I really like the layout and how it fits in with the rest of the bar decor (you can't tell from the picture, but just trust me on this one!)

I'd sure like to know who the artist was and how long it took him or her to complete this. Check out Detroit's logo in the bottom right--that's some seriously nice work!

That got me thinking (of course). Wouldn't it be a blast to find one or two of these, hang them on a wall, and let your kids go to town with some big, chunky pieces of sidewalk chalk? Sure, they make the chalkboard paint, but I think you'd miss the smoothness of a real board. The adult in me says it would be fun to keep a big honkin' calendar on one, but that adult is fighting with the kid in me who wants to lay down on it and let somebody trace me. To be a kid again!


Have Tape, Will Travel

I have often found inspiration in the most unusual places, especially when it comes to design and decoration. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will agree that, many times, I will do my darndest to figure out how to use something way, way outside its intended use! This is one of the reasons why I love, love, love antique stores and flea markets!

That being said, I am conflicted as to what I think about these choices:


Yes, that is blue duct tape covering the fronts of both these cars. What's more, there were three others exactly like them! The explanations are endless. Could one of them have gotten into an accident, repaired his car with tape, and, in a show of solidarity, his friends all did the same? Were they going to a convention of duct tape-covered cars? Was this some sort of street racing club? It's difficult to say.

I do know that I desperately wish I had been able to get a picture of all 5 cars without being too obvious! I also know that the "Unorthodox Use Queen" in me applauds the drivers for figuring out a different way to add a splash of color to their vehicles. You might say it was as if my eyes were stuck to them (sorry! had to!)

While I can't say I endorse this sort of use for duct tape, I definitely give these guys an A for effort. If anybody out there knows where these gentlemen were headed, drop me line. I'd love to know!


Happy Mother's Day!

I think it’s fitting that Mother’s Day falls right in the middle of the nicest part of spring. Not only are the flowers in full bloom (and what mom doesn’t like flowers?), but there are reminders everywhere of just how universal the experience is of being a mother. Take this obviously busy lady for example:


Now that’s a chore, trying to get all those little ones through the parking lot quickly and safely! What mom can’t identify with that? Moms, how many times have you had to navigate a toddler or two (or three…or four…) through the grocery store parking lot while also pushing the buggy and looking for your shopping list in your crowded purse?

Fortunately, moms are nothing if not superhuman, and it all gets done somehow, even crossing the road with a "gaggle" of little ones!:


That’s what being a mom is all about, after all. You’re part superhero, part referee, part shepherd, part doctor, and part maid, with all those parts held together by a big dollop of love! I think that’s why I love Mother’s Day being in the middle of spring, because between the flowers, nice weather, and nice green trees it feels like the whole world is giving moms a high-five. All in all, though, the best reward comes from being able to come home to my own little ducklings every day:


So to all the moms out there, feathered or not, I wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days, and I hope you get all the breakfast in bed you could ever want!